Purging for the Good of the State

Stalin had a clear agenda for what he wanted to get done in the Soviet economy. The base of the society rests on if they can get food, so naturally agriculture is very important to the success of an economy. Due to the poor results he was getting from the agricultural sector, he sought to find new ways to inspire production from the Soviet people.

Interestingly, the dominant force within Soviet argriculture were the kulaks, the peasants who controlled the majority of production or were doing well for themselves. While the term represented a large spectrum of wealth, they were an oddball in a socialist country. Stalin saw these people to be enemies of the state and began to discredit them through party agitators and eventually began to purge them. (( http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/ )) Stalin realized that these kulaks did hold a tremendous amount of power on a local level, which matters more to the everyday lives of the Soviet citizen. In his essay regarding the grain crisis, he reiterates that those who seek to return to kulak farming are similar to that of the great serf estates of the tsarist regime. (( http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/collectivization-texts/stalin-on-the-grain-crisis/ )) He also mentions that the kulak is the antithesis of communism, and for that reason alone, it should not be allowed. Stalin mentions how the kulaks have lost a large amount of power in the years leading up to his writing, and now they can finally bring the power of the kulaks into the realm of the state so that it can produce for everyone. (( http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/collectivization-texts/stalin-on-the-liquidation-of-the-kulak/ ))

A year after his essay on the liquidation of the kulaks, Stalin writes in the party newspaper, Pravda, that the successes of liquidating an entire class of people has been phenomenal for the state as a whole. The success was “dizzying” and this sets a very dangerous precedent for the rest of Stalin’s reign. He is justifying the murder of his own people for the good of the state and the party. He sees success in the rural community through his destruction of the kulaks, writing, “It shows that the radical turn of the rural districts towards Socialism may already be regarded as guaranteed.” (( http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/collectivization-texts/dizzy-with-success/ )) By defending murder for the good of the state, Stalin is tightening his grip on the Soviet Union more and more.

The rural parts of the Soviet Union were always going to be the hardest to adjust to socialism, and Stalin believed that drastic steps were needed to impose it upon them. By removing their local “lords” and replacing them with the state, Stalin is taking the steps towards having socialism entirely in one country.


Industrialization- Five Year Fail

The first five year plan was doomed to fail from the start.  It was not directly correlated to the policy of mass collectivization (which also resulted in failure) and or the agricultural crisis as a whole.  But rather the five year plan failed due to lack of logistics and special knowledge to operate heavy machinery.  This coupled with weak national agriculture and widespread food shortage led to hungry workers and no means to refuel lost energy of factory workers.  Stalin would see this as would his agents and would respond with a wide spread push to increase labor and hours.  This would merely contribute to the issue of the first five year plan.  No industrial effort will be successful if the state does not have the food to feed its workers or the knowledge of the machinery leading the revolution.  The plans that would follow would not be any more sufficiently executed as the agricultural aspect is a constant lingering theme for Stalin’s policies.

On the Kievan Economy

The nature of the economy in the Kievan state reflected the geographical diversity of the region.  Indeed, some of the sources on the economy are derived from the commentary of outsiders, such as the Byzantine Constantine Porphyrogenitus, reflecting the wide space of influence exerted by the merchant-prince of Kiev.  The foundation of the trade system was tribute, which moved furs, wax, honey, and slaves throughout the state from north to south.  Tribute, besides being an effective means of gathering money and subordinating rival merchants, reflected the importance of trade because it was designed to protect Kiev’s commercial interests from rivals.  Economic rivals were clearly an area of concern for the Kievan princes because trade and foreign policy were connected, and Russo-Byzantine peace treaties included provisions that aided Russian commerce.   With the exception of importing amber from the Vikings, the Rus moved raw materials outside of the state and received manufactured and luxury goods from their trade partners.

The other facet of the Kievan economy was agriculture.  The emergence of the agricultural theory is based on linguistic data on agricultural terms, spiritual beliefs surrounding nature, archaeological discoveries, and written sources.  Agriculture differed between the south and the north because of the diversity between the steppe and dense forests, and forest agriculture evolved into a two and three field perlog system that increased the importance of livestock.  Archaeology shows advancements in soil cultivation and technology preceding the primary chronicle.  The idea of private property is a contested issue among scholars of Kiev, with some believing it emerged in the 11th century and others thinking it may have been in place before.  This is an interesting question to consider in tandem with the law code’s penalties for moving field boundaries.  Does this suggest there was direct individual control over the land to use it at will or does it suggest the princes were the only ones with the authority to administrate land holdings?

Dizzy with Success

In the late 1920s the Soviet government began to collectivize agriculture within the country. In this document Stalin boasts about the rapid success of this newly implemented program in regards to agricultural output. Since the program has had such a swift and unexpected success, Stalin attempts to dissuade the public from being lured into feeling of contentment and complacency. He wishes to promote further advancement of the the country’s agricultural potential in order to obtain the “full victory of socialism.”

Although the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union did succeed in several regards, it was a highly controversial program as well. Stalin wrote that “even our enemies are forced to admit that the successes are substantial,” in order to make opponents of the policy reevaluate their criticisms. He needed to defend the collectivization program because it was met by heavy opposition from propertied individuals who would be required to forfeit their lands. Many peasants  knew that the state would benefit from having large quantities of cheap grain continually available, but these same peasants also realized that this same policy would have a negative impact on them as individuals because they would be forced to sell their grain at cheap, state dictated prices.

Did the impressive immediate results of collectivization effectively dissuade many of the programs critics? Or did most of them realize that it was merely a short run phenomena that would be difficult to expand and sustain?