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CHAPTER XXV : THE COLLECTIVISATION OF AGRICULTURE
The Historical Necessity for Collectivisation of Agriculture. Lenin’s Co-operative Plan
To build socialism it is necessary not only to industrialise a country but also to transform agriculture on socialist lines. Socialism is a system of social economy which combines industry and agriculture on the basis of socialist ownership of the means of production and collective labour.
The socialist transformation of agriculture is the most difficult task of the revolution after the conquest of power by the working class. In contrast to industry, where the socialist revolution finds large-scale and highly-concentrated production, agriculture in the capitalist countries has not reached such a degree of capitalist socialisation of production. Small-scale scattered peasant households numerically predominate in it. So long as small-scale individual farming is the predominant form of agriculture, the basis of the bourgeois economic order continues to exist in the countryside, and the exploitation of the poor and a considerable section of the middle peasantry by the rural bourgeoisie, remains. The system of small-scale commodity production is unable to save the peasant masses from poverty and oppression.
Only the socialist road can save the working masses of the peasantry from every kind of exploitation, poverty and ruin. Marxism-Leninism rejects as senseless and criminal the road of expropriation of the small- and middle-scale producers and the conversion of their means of production into State property. Such a course would undermine any possibility of the victory of the proletarian revolution and would drive the peasantry for a long time into the camp of the enemies of the proletariat. F. Engels wrote:
“When we are in possession of State power we shall not even think of forcibly expropriating the small peasants (regardless of whether with or without compensation) as we shall have to do in the case of the big landowners. Our task relative to the small peasant consists, in the first place, in effecting a transition of his private enterprise and private possession to co-operative ones, not forcibly but by dint of example and the offer of social assistance for this purpose." (Engels “The Peasant Question in France and Germany", Marx and Engels, Selected Works, 1951, English edition, vol. II, p. 393.)
Lenin, in his plan for building socialist society, was guided by the principle that the working class must build socialism in alliance with the peasantry. The plan worked out by Lenin, for the transition of the peasantry from small-scale private property farming to large-scale socialist farming through co-operation, is an essential element of the general plan for building socialism.
Lenin’s co-operative plan was based on the fact that, in the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat, co-operation is the easiest, most understandable and advantageous path for millions of peasants to use in passing from scattered individual farming to large-scale productive units—the collective farms. The most important economic prerequisite for productive cooperation by the bulk of the peasantry is the all-round development of a large-scale socialist industry, capable of re-organising agriculture too on a modern technical basis. The peasantry are drawn into the channels of socialist construction through the development in the first instance of the most simple forms of co-operation in the sphere of sale, supply and credit, and the gradual transition to co-operation in production, collective farms. Peasant co-operation must proceed with the most careful observance of the voluntary principle. Organisation of the peasant farms into co-operatives proved to be the only correct form of combining the personal interests of the peasants with the interests of the State as a whole, of drawing the main mass of the peasantry into the building of socialism under the leadership of the working class.
In bourgeois society, where the means of production belong to the exploiters, co-operation is a capitalist form of economy. In agricultural cooperation under capitalism the bourgeoisie are economically predominant and exploit the masses of the peasantry. In a social system where political power is in the hands of the working people themselves, and the basic means of production are the property of the proletarian State, co-operation is a Socialist form of economy. “A system of civilised co-operators, given the social ownership of the means of production, with the class victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, is the system of Socialism." (Lenin “On Cooperation", Selected Works, 1950, English edition, vol. II, Pt. 2, p. 719.)
Basing himself on Lenin’s works, Stalin advanced and developed a number of new propositions on the socialist transformation of agriculture.
In the multiform economy of the transitional period there is, on the one hand, a large-scale socialist industry based on social ownership of the means of production, and on the other hand the small-scale peasant economy based on private ownership of the means of production. Large-scale industry is equipped with modern techniques, while privately owned small-scale peasant agriculture is based on primitive techniques and manual labour. Large-scale industry develops at high speed, on the principle of extended reproduction, while small-scale peasant economy not only fails in its mass to achieve extended reproduction every year, but often has not the opportunity of achieving even simple reproduction. Large-scale industry is centralised on a national economic scale and is managed on a State plan, while small-scale peasant farming is scattered and subject to the influence of uncontrolled market factors. Large-scale socialist industry abolishes the capitalist elements, while small-scale peasant farming gives birth to them constantly, and on a mass scale. The Socialist State and the building of socialism cannot rest for any prolonged period on two different foundations—on the largest and most unified socialist industry and on the most scattered and backward small commodity peasant economy. In the final analysis, this would result in the disorganisation of the entire national economy.
Thus there is inevitably, in the economy of the transitional period from capitalism to socialism, a contradiction between large-scale socialist industry on the one hand and small-scale peasant farming on the other. This contradiction can only be resolved by the transition of the small-scale peasant economy to large-scale socialist agriculture.
The development of socialist industry and the growth of the urban population in the U.S.S.R. during the transitional period was accompanied by a rapid Increase in the demand for agricultural produce. But agriculture’s speeds of development lagged far behind those of industry. The main branch of agriculture, grain production, advanced at a particularly slow rate. Small-scale peasant farming, which was the main supplier of marketed grain, had a semi-consumer character and marketed only one-tenth of the gross grain harvest. Despite the fact that by 1926 the sown area and the gross grain harvest had almost achieved pre-war level, the marketed supply of grain was only half the 1913 level. Small-scale peasant farming was unable to satisfy the growing demand for food supplies for the population and for raw materials for industry.
There are two ways of creating a large-scale economy in agriculture, a capitalist and a socialist way. The capitalist way means the emergence and development of large-scale capitalist farms in agriculture, based on the exploitation of hired labour. This is inevitably accompanied by the impoverishment and ruin of the working masses of the peasantry. The socialist way means the union’ of the small peasant farms in large-scale collective farms equipped with modern techniques. This frees the peasantry from exploitation and poverty and secures a steady improvement in their material and cultural level. There is no third way.
The transition from small-scale individual peasant to large-scale socialist farming cannot proceed spontaneously. Under capitalism the countryside automatically follows the towns, since the capitalist economy in the towns and the small-scale peasant economy in the countryside are at bottom kindred forms of economy, based on private ownership of the means of production. When there exists the dictatorship of the working class, the small-scale peasant countryside cannot follow the socialist town in this way. Lenin spoke of the commodity-capitalist tendency of the peasantry, in contrast to the socialist tendency of the proletariat.
The socialist town leads the small-scale peasant countryside. Large-scale socialist agricultural enterprises are organised. Industry equips the countryside with modern machine techniques. At the same time, cadres who have mastered the new techniques are trained. New productive forces develop in agriculture, which do not correspond to the old production relations of small-scale peasant farming. The law that the relations of production must necessarily correspond to the nature of the productive forces determines the need for new socialist relations of production in the countryside, to provide scope for the development of the productive forces. Such relations of production can only be created through the union of the small individual farms into large-scale collective farms.
Achievement of the aim of socialist production—the satisfaction of the constantly growing requirements of society—requires the creation of a large-scale, highly productive socialist agriculture capable of supplying industry with raw materials and the population with food. Consequently, collectivisation represents the essential condition for fulfilling the requirements of the basic economic law of socialism, for accomplishing the most important tasks of building socialism and for satisfying the basic, vital interests of the peasantry.
The building of socialism meant the elimination of the disparity which had arisen in the development of industry and agriculture, the creation alongside large-scale industry of large-scale collectivised production in agriculture. This reflected the requirements of the law of planned, proportional development of the national economy.
Thus the gradual union of the small peasant farms into producer cooperatives, equipped with modern techniques, is an objective necessity in the transitional period from capitalism peasantry.
The Communist Party and the Soviet State recognised the historical necessity for collectivisation. They rejected the capitalist path of agricultural development as fatal to the cause of socialism and choose the socialist path. This was reflected in the consistent policy of collectivising agriculture. The 15th Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B) (1927) resolved:
“It is necessary to regard as a priority, on the basis of the further cooperative organisation of the peasantry, the gradual transition of the scattered peasant farms on to the lines of large-scale production (collective working of the land on the basis of intensification and mechanisation of agriculture), and in every way to support and encourage the beginnings of socialised agricultural labour." (The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions if its Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Meetings, seventh Russian edition, Pt. 2,p. 317.)
The history of socialist construction in the U.S.S.R. has demonstrated that the path of productive co-operation of the peasant farms has fully justified itself. In all countries with a more or less numerous class of small and middle peasants, this is the only possible and expedient path for the victory of socialism after the establishment of working-class power.
The Prerequisites of All-round Collectivisation
The execution of this gigantic and historic task—the collectivisation of millions of small peasant farms—required appropriate preparation. Whereas the very development of capitalism had prepared the material conditions for the socialist transformation of industry, in agriculture they had to be to a considerable extent created during the transitional period.
The economic policy of the Communist Party and the Soviet State, up to the all-round collectivisation of the countryside, was directed towards supporting by all available means the poor and middle strata of the countryside and restricting the exploiting tendencies of the rural bourgeoisie. The poor peasantry, accounting for 35 per cent of the peasant population, was completely freed from taxes. In its labour legislation, the Socialist State carefully protected the interest of the poor peasantry and agricultural workers.
Land improvements in the poor and weak middle-peasant farms were provided free, at the expense of the State. The State organised machine-hiring stations which extended productive assistance, in the first instance, to the poor farms. Money credits were given to the poor and middle peasants, and seed and provision loans were provided on privileged terms. The State organisation of scientific assistance, the supply of mineral fertilisers, the struggle against drought, the execution of large irrigation works, etc., were of great importance in promoting the prosperity of the peasant economy. At the same time the Communist Party and the Soviet State were restricting and squeezing out the rural capitalist elements through high taxation of the kulaks, diminishing the extent of leased land and the use of hired labour, and prohibition of the purchase and sale of land.
The fundamental task of building socialism in the countryside was, under the leadership of the working class and relying on large-scale socialist industry to lead the bulk of the peasantry from the old private property path on to the new socialist collective farm path.
The nationalisation of the land in the U.S.S.R. freed the small peasant from attachment to his plot of land due to private ownership, and thereby facilitated the transition from small-scale peasant farming to large-scale collective farming. The nationalisation of the land created favourable conditions for organising large socialist farms in agriculture, since it made unnecessary unproductive expenditure on land purchase and payment of rent.
The all-round development of socialist industry, as the key to the socialist transformation of agriculture, was of decisive importance in paving the way for collectivisation. In the very first years of industrialisation in the U.S.S.R. factories were built for the production of tractors, combine harvesters and other complex agricultural machines. During the first Five-Year Plan alone, agriculture received 160,000 tractors (in terms of 15-h.p. units).
An industrial base was created for the supply of tractors, combine harvesters and other agricultural machines to the countryside.
The mass movement of the peasantry along the collective farm path had the way prepared for it by the development of agricultural co-operation. The first stage in co-operation among peasant farms is the co-operative sale of agricultural produce and supply of manufactured goods to the countryside, as well as in the sphere of credits. Together with the specialised forms of agricultural co-operation in dairying, flax growing and sugar-beet production, credit arrangements, etc., industrial handicraft co-operation is of great importance. These forms of co-operation play an important role in the transition from individual peasant to large-scale social farming. They accustom broad strata of the peasantry to the habit of collectively conducting economic affairs. At this stage there is primarily a trade bond between socialist industry and the peasant economy which is achieved through the expansion of State and co-operative trade and the squeezing out of private capital from trade. Thus the peasants are freed from exploitation by the traders and speculators. An important role is prayed in this respect by the consumer co-operatives in the countryside trading in consumer goods.
The system of contracts, as a form of organised trade turnover, is of great importance in the relations of the State and the co-operative unions, and is the simplest form of production bond between town and countryside. This system is based on agreements whereby the State places orders with the cooperative producers and the individual peasant farms for the production of specified quantities of agricultural produce, supplies them with seeds and implements of production, making it a condition that they should adopt the best farming methods (drill sowing, use of selected seed, application of fertilisers, etc.). It purchases their marketed output to supply the population with food and industry with raw materials. This system is advantageous to both parties, and directly links the co-operatives and individual peasant farms with industry, without the intervention of private middlemen.
The highest form of peasant co-operation is the organisation of collective undertakings-the collective farms, which means a transition to large-scale socialised production. The collective farm is a voluntary productive co-operative union of the peasants, based on social ownership of the means of production and on collective labour, which excludes the exploitation of man by man.
The first collective farms, created soon after the socialist revolution, played an important role in preparing mass collectivisation. The peasants became convinced of the superiority of collective over individual forms of farming by the example of these collective farms.
The predominant type of collective farm, before all-round collectivisation, was the association for joint cultivation of the land (T.O.Z.). In these, land-use and labour were socialised, but the draught cattle and agricultural equipment remained the private property of the peasant. With the development of mass collectivisation the T.O.Z. proved to belong already to a past stage. In a number of districts there were agricultural communes in which not only all the means of production but also the personal family plot of the collective farmer were socialised. These communes proved impracticable, as they arose in conditions of undeveloped techniques and insufficiency of products. They practised egalitarian distribution of consumer products. The communes, by decision of the peasants themselves, were subsequently converted into agricultural artels.
The agricultural artel became the basis and main form of collective farm. It is a form of collective undertaking built on the socialisation of the main means of production of the peasants and on their collective labour, while the collective farmers retain, as their personal property, a subsidiary enterprise on a scale laid down by the Statute of the Agricultural Artel.
The leading role of large-scale socialist industry in collectivisation is exercised through the machine and tractor stations (M.T.S.). These are State socialist enterprises in agriculture, disposing of the tractors, combine harvesters and other complex agricultural machines, and servicing the collective farms on a contractual basis. The M. T.S. is the industrial basis of large-scale collective agriculture. The M. T.S. ensures the correct combination of the voluntary effort of the collective farm masses in building and developing their collective farms with the guidance and assistance of the Socialist State.
The machine and tractor stations are a powerful instrument for the socialist reconstruction of agriculture, and a chief means of establishing cooperation in production between industry and agriculture. This. co-operation consists in large-scale socialist industry supplying agriculture with machinery and other means of production, equipping it with modern, perfected techniques. Large-scale State agricultural enterprises organised by the Socialist
State on, a part of the former landowners’ estates, as well as on free lands of the State reserve, play an important part in the socialist transformation of agriculture. The State farms (sovkhozy) were already being set up in the U.S.S.R. in the first year after the socialist revolution. A State farm is a large-scale socialist agricultural enterprise in which the means of production and all the produce belong to the State. The State farms are one of the most important sources of foodstuffs and raw materials at the disposal of the State. As highly mechanised and highly productive socialist enterprises, they enabled the peasants to convince themselves of the advantages of large-scale socialist farming, providing them with assistance in the form of tractors, graded seed and pedigree cattle. They facilitated the turn of the peasant masses towards socialism through collectivisation.
The collective farm system arose with the financial and organisational support of the working class. The Soviet State expended enormous sums on financing the building of collective and State farms. In the early years of the mass collective farm movement, the best Party workers and tens of thousands of leading workmen were directed into the countryside and gave great help to the peasants in organising collective farms.
The work of the Communist Party in the political education of the peasant masses played an important part in preparing the peasantry far the transition to collectivisation.
The turn of the bulk of the peasantry towards collectivisation required an implacable class struggle against the kulaks. The kulak opposition to the policy of the Soviet Government in the countryside grew particularly strong in 19278, when the Soviet Union was experiencing grain difficulties. The kulaks organised sabotage of State grain purchases, committed terrorist acts against collective farmers, Party and Soviet workers, and set fire to collective farms and State granaries. The policy of decisive struggle against the kulaks and the defence of the interest of the working peasantry rallied the poor and middle peasant masses around the Communist Party and the Soviet State.
All-round Collectivisation and the Elimination of the Kulaks as a Class
The decisive turn of the peasantry towards the collective farms in the U.S.S.R., dates from the second half of 1929. By this time the economic and political prerequisites far the collectivisation of agriculture had been created. Into the collective farms came the middle peasant, that is the basic mass of the peasantry. The peasantry were entering the collective farms no longer in separate groups but by whole villages and districts. The process of all-round collectivisation in the Soviet countryside had commenced.
Before all-round collectivisation, the Communist Party and Soviet State had carried out a policy of restricting and squeezing out the rural capitalist elements. But this policy did not abolish the economic basis of the kulak element or eliminate them as a class. Such a policy was necessary until the conditions far all-round collectivisation had been created, and until there was a broad network of collective and State farms in the countryside which could replace capitalist grain-production by socialist production.
In 1926-7 the kulaks produced 10 million tons of grain and sold over 2.03 million tons outside the countryside, while the State and collective farms produced 1.33 million tons and marketed just over half a million tons. The situation was fundamentally changed in 1929, when State and collective farms produced no less than 6.5 million tons and marketed nearly 2.1 million tons, that is, they outdistanced kulak production of marketed grain.
The great turn of the bulk of the peasant masses to socialism meant a fundamental shift of the class forces of the country, in favour of socialism and against capitalism. This enabled the Communist Party and the Socialist State to move forward from the old policy of restricting and squeezing out the capitalist elements in the countryside to a new policy, the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class an the basis of all-round collectivisation.
All-round collectivisation was achieved in the course of a mass struggle of the peasant against the kulaks, who offered furious resistance to collectivisation. The working class, leading the main mass of the peasantry, took the last capitalist stronghold in the country by storm so as to defeat the kulaks in open battle, before the eyes of the entire peasantry, and to convince the peasant masses of the weakness of the capitalist elements. With all-round collectivisation the land around the villages passed into the use of the collective farms. But as a considerable part of this land had been held by the kulaks, the peasants, in organising the collective farms, took from the kulaks land, cattle and equipment and expropriated them. The Soviet Government repealed the laws permitting leasing of land and hiring of labour. Thus the eliminating of the kulaks as a class was an essential constituent element of all-round collectivisation.
Collectivisation was carried out with strict adherence to the Leninist principles far the building of collective farms: voluntary entry of the peasants into the collective farms, allowance far the differences in economic and cultural levels indifferent parts of the country and the inadmissibility of side-stepping the agricultural artel, as the main farm of collective farm construction, in favour of the commune.
All-round collectivisation and the elimination of the kulaks as a class which was based upon it, was “a profound revolution, a leap from an old qualitative state of society to a new qualitative state, equivalent in its consequences to the revolution of October 1917". (History of the C.P.S.U.(B). Short Course,English edition, p. 305.).
This was a revolution which abolished the old bourgeois system of individual-peasant farming and created a new socialist collective farm system. A unique feature of this revolution was the fact that it was carried out from above, on the initiative of the State, with direct support from below,from the millions of peasants struggling against kulak bondage for a free collective farm life.
This revolution solved a number of fundamental problems of socialist construction.
In the first place, it eliminated the most numerous exploiting class in the country, the kulaks. The elimination of the kulaks as a class, on the basis of all-round collectivisation, was a decisive step in abolishing the exploiting classes. The question “who will beat whom?" had been answered not only in the towns but also in the countryside—and in favour of socialism. The last sources for the restoration of capitalism in the U.S.S.R. had been abolished.
In the second place, it turned the most numerous toiling class in the country, the peasants, from individual farming which gives birth to capitalism to the path of socially-owned, collective, socialist economy. In this way the most difficult historic problem of the proletarian revolution was solved.
In the third place it gave Soviet power a socialist basis in agriculture, in the most extensive and vitally necessary, and yet most backward, branch of the national economy. Agriculture began to develop on a common basis with industry, that of social ownership of the means of production. In this way one of the most profound contradictions bf the transitional period, the contradiction between large-scale socialist industry and small-scale individual peasant farming, was resolved, and the basis for the antithesis between town and country was abolished. The old capitalist and petty-bourgeois production-relations in the countryside, which were a fetter on the productive forces, were replaced by new socialist relations of production. Thanks to this, the productive forces in agriculture acquired scope for their development.
The Agricultural Artel as the Main Form of the Collective Farm
The experience of building collective farms in the U.S.S.R. has shown that the agricultural artel, of all forms of collective farm, makes possible the development of the productive forces of socialist agriculture to the greatest extent. The agricultural artel properly combines the personal interests of the collective farmers with the social interests of the collective farm. The artel successfully adapts personal everyday interests to social interests, and in this way facilitates the training of the former individual farmers in a spirit of collectivism. In accordance with the Statute of the Agricultural Artel the following items are socialised: agricultural equipment, draught cattle, seed stocks, fodder resources for the socialised cattle, farm buildings necessary for the artel economy and all plant for the processing of products. In the agricultural artel such important branches of agriculture as grain farming and cultivation of industrial crops are completely socialised. Care of socialised livestock is organised in livestock departments of the collective farms. Highly-developed artels also organise large-scale socialised production of potatoes and vegetables, as well as horticulture, viticulture, etc.
In the agricultural artel there are not socialised, but remain the personal property of the collective farm household, dwellings, a fixed number of productive cattle, poultry, farm buildings required for quartering the privately owned cattle, and small agricultural implements for the individual subsidiary plot. The artel management supplies horses from the socialised livestock, in return for payment, for the personal requirements of its members. The collective farmers receive their main income from the socially-owned economy of the collective farms, which is their main and most important part.
In accordance with the Statute of the Agricultural Artel, each collective farm household can have as its personal property: in the grain and industrial-crop areas—a cow, up to two calves, one sow with its young or, with the permission of the collective farm management, two sows with their young, up to ten sheep and goats; in the agricultural areas with well-developed livestock raising—two or three cows and their young, two or three sows and their young, twenty to twenty-five sheep and goats; in non-nomadic or semi-nomadic livestock raising areas where livestock raising is the most important branch of economy—four or five cows and their young, thirty to forty sheep and goats, two or three sows with their young, and also one horse or one milking mare each, or alternatively two camels, two donkeys or two mules each; in nomadic livestock areas—eight to ten cows and their young, 100 to 150 sheep. and goats, up to ten horses and five to eight camels. In addition, an unlimited quantity of poultry and rabbits, as well as up to twenty bee-hives, are allowed in all areas.
An allotment of 0.62 to 1.25 acres is allocated for the personal use of each collective farm household for its subsidiary economy, out of the socialised land. In some areas the allotment is up to 2.5 acres depending on the particular features of the district.
The period of agricultural reorganisation in the U.S.S.R. was completed by the end of the first Five-Year Plan. By 1932 the collective farms embraced more than 60 per cent of peasant farms and more than 75 per cent of their sown area. But the kulaks, routed in open battle, were not yet finished. Penetrating the collective farms by deceit, the kulaks strove to disrupt them from within by various wrecking methods. The Communist Party and the Soviet State put before themselves the organisational and economic strengthening of the collective farms, as the main task of collective farm construction. This meant strengthening the Party and State guidance of the collective farms, cleansing them of the kulak dements which had infiltrated into them, protecting socialist property and improving the organisation and discipline of collective labour.
The victory of the collective farm system was won in decisive struggle against the exploiting classes and their Trotskyist and Bukharinist agents, who defended the kulaks in every possible way, combated the creation of collective and State farms and demanded the dissolution and abolition of the existing collective and State farms. The Communist Party routed the Trotskyist line of the exploitation and forcible expropriation of the peasantry by means of high prices for industrial goods and excessive taxes, and also the right-opportunist Bukharinist theory of the “peaceful growing of the kulaks into socialism", and of “letting things develop themselves in economic construction.
The Transformation of the U.S.S.R. from a Country of Small Peasant Holdings into a
Country with the Largest-scale Agriculture in the World and a Highly Mechanised one
Collectivisation was completed by the end of the second Five-Year Plan. The method of collectivisation adopted proved to be by far the most progressive. It enabled the entire country to be covered in the course of a few years with large-scale collective farms capable of applying modern techniques, making use of all agronomic achievements and providing the country with a greater marketed surplus. It opened the way for a big rise in the living standards of the peasantry.
The U.S.S.R. had created and consolidated the largest scale agriculture in the world in the form of a comprehensive system of collective farms, M. T.S. and State farms. These represent the new socialist mode of production in agriculture.
In place of the 25 million peasant farms in the U.S.S.R. on the eve of all-round collectivisation, by mid-1938 there were 242,400 collective farms (not counting fishery and handicraft collectives). Each collective farm had an average of 3,820 acres of agricultural land, which included 1,200 acres of sowings. In the U.S.A. in 1940, only 1.6 per cent of farms had a land area of 1,000 acres or more.
The collective farm system demonstrated its indisputable superiority over the capitalist system of agriculture and over small-scale peasant farming.
“The great importance of the collective farms lies precisely in that they represent the principal basis for the employment of machinery and tractors in agriculture, that they constitute the principal base for remoulding the peasant, for changing his mentality in the spirit of socialism." (Stalin, “Problems of Agrarian Policy in the U.S.S.R.", Leninism, 1941, English edition, p. 322.)
During the first two Five-Year Plans a genuine technical revolution took place in agriculture, as a result of which a solid material and productive base for socialism in the countryside was created. By the beginning of the third Five-Year Plan, the agriculture of the U.S.S.R. was the largest-scale agriculture in the world and highly mechanised.
While the use of machinery in agriculture is inevitably accompanied under capitalism by the ruin of the small peasants, mechanisation of socialist agriculture, based on collective labour, eases the toil of the peasant and brings about an improvement in his living standards.
In 1940 agriculture in the U.S.S.R. had 684,000 tractors (in 15-h.p. units), 182,000 combine harvesters and 228,000 lorries. In 1930 there were 158 M.T.S. and by the end of 1940, 7,069. Mechanisation in collective farm work had reached the following levels by 1940: turning of fallow land 83 per cent, spring ploughing 71 per cent; spring and winter sowing 52-3 per cent; harvesting with grain combines 43 per cent.
The collective farm system ensured a considerable rise in agricultural production and a high marketable surplus. This was very important for the supply of the country with foodstuffs and raw materials. Gross agricultural production in the U.S.S.R. in 1940 was almost double the pre-revolutionary level (1913). The marketed surplus of collective and State farm grain production reached 40 per cent of gross production by 1938, compared with 26 per cent in 1913. Moreover, the marketed surplus of grain of the poor and middle peasant farms had amounted to only 14.7 per cent in pre-revolutionary times. The collective and State farms have enormous possibilities for achieving a steady growth of production. They do not suffer from sales crises, since the systematic growth of the living standards of the people is accompanied by a constantly growing demand for agricultural produce.
The victory of the collective farm system offered the Soviet peasantry a prosperous and cultured life. The collective farm system destroyed the possibility of differentiation of the peasantry: poverty and beggary in the countryside were no longer possible. Tens of millions of poor peasants were assured of their livelihood by entering the collective farms. Thanks to the collective farms, there were no longer peasant farms without horses, cows or implements. The personal income of the collective farmers from the socially-owned economy of the collective farms and from their individual subsidiary plots increased 2.7 fold between 1932 and 1937 alone.
The victory of the collective farm system made even stronger the friendly alliance of the workers and peasants. The collective farm peasantry became a firm pillar of Soviet power in the countryside. Now, no longer the working class alone but also the peasantry had began to base its existence on social or socia1ist ownership of the means of production.
The experience of building collective farms in the U.S.S.R. enormously facilitates the task of the socialist transformation of agriculture in other countries moving from capitalism to socialism. At the same time the particular historical development of different countries in the transitional period from capitalism to socialism determines the precise preparatory conditions and the forms and methods of collectivisation of agriculture in each country. Thus in the countries of people’s democracy, as distinct from the U.S.S.R. where the whole of the land is nationalised, private peasant ownership of the land is retained for a certain time while co-operation of the peasant farms is being developed. This is the reason for the variations in forms of organisation and in the operation of the producer co-operatives in the countryside. In those countries productive co-operatives predominate, in which the distribution of incomes takes place not only according to the quality and quantity of work done, but also according to the size of the area of land transferred to the co-operative and remaining in the private possession of the peasant member of the co-operative. These cooperatives are a lower form of socialist farming compared to the agricultural artel, where the incomes received by the collective farmer from the socialised farm are distributed only according to work done.
However, no matter how important the differences in conditions, forms and methods of carrying out the socialist transformation of agriculture in different countries, the basic principles of Lenin’s co-operative plan, which have been tested by the experience of collective farm construction in the U.S.S.R., are common to all countries making that transformation.
(1) Collectivisation of agriculture is an essential condition for building socialism. The essence of collectivisation is the gradual and voluntary union of the peasant farms in producer co-operatives. Collectivisation means the transition from small-scale, individual, backward private farming to large-scale socialist farming equipped with modern machine techniques. Collectivisation corresponds to the vital interests of the peasantry and all the working people.
(2) The most important prerequisites for all-round collectivisation are: the socialist industrialisation of the country, the development of agricultural cooperation, the experience of the first collective and State farms, which demonstrate to the peasantry the superiority of large-scale socialist farming, the creation of machine and tractor stations, and a decisive struggle against the kulaks.
(3) All-round collectivisation, and with it the elimination of the kulaks as a class, which was carried out under the leadership of the Communist Party and the Soviet State, was a most profound revolutionary transformation involving the transition from the bourgeois individual-peasant system to a new socialist collective farm system. This revolution eliminated the most numerous exploiting class—the kulaks—and turned the most numerous toiling class—the peasantry—from the capitalist to the socialist path of development. It created a firm socialist base for the Soviet State in agriculture.
(4) With the victory of the collective farm system, the Soviet Union was transformed from a country of small peasant farming to a country with the largest-scale agriculture in the world and a highly mechanised one. The productive forces of agriculture acquired scope for their development. The Soviet peasantry escaped for ever from exploitation, poverty and beggary. were abolished in the countryside, and conditions for an uninterrupted improvement in the material and cultural life of the collective farm peasantry were created. The friendly alliance of the workers and peasants became strong.