The slow grind of collectivization under a tractors tire.

Famine is a dire problem to every state of the world, no matter its size or power. All nations must take pause when they are confronted with the starvation of their people. Soviet Russia in the early 1930s was no different. Josef Stalin saw the problem of producing enough food to feed the massive country as one that the state could solve through collectivization and industrialization of farms. Like the revolutionaries before him Stalin found the way forward would be grounded in scientific knowledge and statistics.

Stalin took issue with the amount of grain that was being collected under the control of peasant farms. Currently the amount of grain being collected was only half as much as previous times.[1] This coupled with the growth of the population and number of workers working in the city’s industrial departments, caused  massive food shortages. Stalin found the fault in the system to be the large farm owning class called the “kulaks.” To Stalin this was unacceptable. These kulaks were simply the first step back into landlord farming.[2] He turned to the scientist thinking of past revolutionaries as the solution. He would move the peasants to state run socialized collective farms where “equipped with machinery, armed with scientific knowledge and capable of producing a maximum of grain for the market” they would be able create enough grain to feed the population.”[3] Stalin’s focus on heavy industry and industrialization is emphasized on the importance of the tractor in his new agricultural system.

The tractor would become another tool that the collectivization of peasants would be given to increase production on there farms. The plans for the spread of tractors were massive, with a goal that a net of tractors would encompass an area of fields over one million hectares.[4] Tractors are a much more effective means of plowing and doing field work than livestock and Stalin’s insistence that such heavy machinery must be used to its full potential would soften some of the blow the food supply would take from the forced collectivization. However, his distain for the kulaks and refusal to believe that bad supplies of grain would drive him to stop supporting many of the farms that produced vital food. His focus on industrialization brought industry to the agricultural department, but still did not find enough improvement to feed all his people. By the end of the famine over 5 million of the population had starved to death.[5]

[1] I. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism (Moscow: Foreign Language Publishers, 1934), pp. 248-249, 251-59.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] J. Meisel and E. S. Kozera, eds., Materials for the Study of the Soviet System (Ann Arbor: G. Wahr Pub. Co., 1953), pp. 183-185.

[5] I. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism (Moscow: Foreign Language Publishers, 1934), pp. 248-249, 251-59.