2. Forced Collectivization
The forced collectivization of agriculture from 1929 to 1933 was an integral part of the Stalin revolution. His argument in favor of it was simple: an economy divided against itself cannot stand-planned industrial mobilization was incompatible with small-scale private agriculture in the traditional manner. Collectivization meant combining many small peasant holdings into a single large unit run in theory by the peasants (now called collective farmers), but in practice by the collective farm chairman guided by the government's Five Year Plan.
LIQUIDATION OF THE KULAKS
Collectivization, not surprisingly, met with fierce resistance, especially from the more successful peasants called kulaks, who were averse to surrendering their private plots and their freedom in running their households. Their resistance therefore had to be broken, and the Communist party fomented a rural class-struggle, seeking help from the poorer peasants. Sometimes, however, even the poorest peasants sided with the local kulaks. Under these conditions, Stalin did not shrink from unleashing violence in the countryside aimed at the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class." For Stalin the collectivization drive meant an all-out war on what was for him the citadel of backwardness: the peasant tradition and rebelliousness so prominent under the tsars. The following reading- Stalin's address to the Conference of Marxist Students of the Agrarian Question, December 1929-conveys his intentions. It is a good example of Stalin's rhetoric; he drives home his point by continually restating his argument.
The characteristic feature of our work during the past year is: (a) that we, the party and the
Soviet government, have developed an offensive on the whole front against the capitalist elements in the countryside; and (b) that this offensive, as you know, has brought about and is bringing about very palpable, positive results.
What does this mean? It means that we have passed from the policy of restricting the exploiting proclivities of the kulaks to the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class. This means that we have made, and are still making, one of the most decisive turns in our whole policy…. Could we have undertaken such an offensive against the kulaks five years or three years ago? Could we then have counted on success in such an offensive? No, we could not. That would have been the most dangerous adventurism! That would have been playing a very dangerous game at offensive. We would certainly have come to grief and, once we had come to grief, we would have strengthened the position of the kulaks. Why? Because we did not yet have strongholds in the rural districts in the shape of a wide network of state farms and collective farms upon which to rely in a determined offensive against the kulaks. Because at that time we were not yet able to substitute for the capitalist production of the kulaks’ socialist production in the shape of the collective farms and state farms ....
But today? What is the position? Today, we have an adequate material base which enables us to strike at the kulaks , to break their resistance, to eliminate them as a class , and to substitute for their output the output of the collective farms and state farms….
Now, as you see, we have the material base which enables us to substitute for kulak output the output of the collective farms and state farms. That is why our offensive against the kulaks is now meeting with undeniable success. That is how the offensive against the kulaks must be carried on, if we mean a real offensive and not futile declamations against the kulaks.
That is why we have recently passed from the policy of restricting the exploiting proclivities of the kulaks to the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class.... Now we are able to carry on a determined offensive against the kulaks, to break their resistance, to eliminate them as a class and substitute for their output the output of the collective farms and state farms. Now, the kulaks are being expropriated by the masses of poor and middle peasants themselves, by the masses who are putting solid collectivization into practice. Now the expropriation of the kulaks in the regions of solid collectivization is no longer just an administrative measure. Now, the expropriation of the kulaks is an integral part of the formation and development of the collective farms....
... [Should] the kulak ... be permitted to join the collective farm? Of course not, for he is a sworn enemy of the collective farm movement. Clear, one would think.