Marxist policy on farming: Small private farms cf communal farms and state farms - Peter Myers, October 21, 2004; update January 19, 2009. Write to me at contact.html.

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"The core of Marx's economic analysis, as of his theory, was an elemental belief in the superiority, and hence in the necessity, of large-scale production ..." - David Mitrany, Marx Against the Peasant, p. 26.

"Marx was filled with undisguised contempt for the peasant" - ibid., p. 41.

'Lenin was not particularly interested in Jewish history. For him, what capitalism did was "replace the thick-skulled, boorish, inert, and bearishly savage Russian or Ukrainian peasant with a mobile proletarian."' - Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2004), p. 163. slezkine.html

(1) Pre-Communist rural land ownership in Russia and Ukraine (2) Bolshevik strategy: use peasants against aristocracy, then get "poor" peasants to fight rich ones & impose collectivization (3) David Mitrany, Marx Against the Peasant: A Study in Social Dogmatism (George Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, London, 1951) (4) Mikhail Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich, UTOPIA IN POWER: the History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present (5) Small farms in Communist Poland (6) H. G. Wells on doing away with the Peasants (7) Joint Opposition (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev) call for replacement of small peasant farms by Collectivisation - 1927

(1) Pre-Communist rural land ownership in Russia and Ukraine

Russians accepted collectivization more than Ukranians in the late 1920s, because Russians had been more used to collective ownership, whereas Ukraine had a stronger tradition of individual farmsteads.

Obshchina (Russian: ??, literally: "commune") were peasant communities, as opposed to individual farmsteads, or khutors, in Imperial Russia. The term derives from the word ??, obshchiy (common). This institution was effectively destroyed by the Stolypin agrarian reforms (1906­1914), the Russian Revolution and subsequent collectivization of the USSR.

Even after the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, a peasant in his everyday work normally had little independence from obshchina, governed at the village level (mir) by the full assembly of the community (skhod). Among its duties were control and redistribution of the common land and forest (if such existed), levying recruits for military service, and imposing punishments for minor crimes. Obshchina was also held responsible for taxes underpaid by members, as well as for their crimes. This type of shared responsibility was known as krugovaya poruka, although the exact meaning of this expression has changed over time.

The nineteenth-century Russian philosophers attached signal importance to obshchina as a unique feature distinguishing Russia from other countries. Alexander Herzen, for example, hailed this pre-capitalist institution as a germ of the future socialist society. His Slavophile opponent Aleksey Khomyakov regarded obshchina as symbolic of the spiritual unity and internal co-operation of Russian society and worked out a sophisticated "Philosophy of Obshchina" which he called sobornost. ==

Obshchina. The Russian word for an agricultural commune, the dominant institution of ethnic Russian peasant agriculture until the Revolution of 1917. Arable land, meadows, and pastures were held communally by the obshchina. Fields were divided into sections whose size varied with the quality of the soil and distance from the village. Each peasant household had the right in every section to cultivate one or more strips according to the number of its adult members. Since households grew or diminished over time, every 9 to 15 years the commune took its own census, on the basis of which it carried out an equalized reallocation of the strips.

In Ukraine there were various forms of agricultural associations (see Hromada and Land tenure system). The obshchina system began developing there only in the second half of the 18th century, after it was introduced by certain landowners during the settlement of Southern Ukraine. The obshchina became more widespread as a result of the agrarian reforms that accompanied the abolition of serfdom and emancipation of the peasantry in 1861. The reforms granted village communes, but not individual peasants, the right to redeem land from the gentry landowners. Although the majority of peasant households received land as full-fledged owners, in the steppe guberniasčKaterynoslav gubernia, Kharkiv gubernia, and Kherson guberniačland awarded to the peasants was, for the most part, placed at the disposal of peasant communes on the pattern of the obshchina. In those gubernias 89­95 percent of all land was distributed through the communes. In contrast, in Chernihiv gubernia the figure was 52 percent, and in the Right-Bank gubernias and Poltava gubernia only 5­7 percent of land was distributed through the communes. The fiscal needs of the state, namely the tradition of holding all members of the obshchina collectively responsible for tax collection, were the main factor behind the introduction of the obshchina in Russian-ruled Ukraine. In the Ukrainian gubernias that were formally under the rule of communal land ownership, however, 80.2 percent of the communes did not periodically reallocate land, whereas the typical obshchina in Russia proper did. The movement to leave the obshchina and pursue private farming initiated in 1906 by the Stolypin agrarian reforms was particularly strong in Ukraine. There 42 percent of peasant households belonging to peasant communes in Southern Ukraine, 16.5 percent in Left-Bank Ukraine, and 48 percent in Right-Bank Ukraine seceded. That trend accelerated during the years 1906­17 and became almost universal in Ukraine after the February Revolution of 1917.

(2) Bolshevik strategy: use peasants against aristocracy, then get "poor" peasants to fight rich ones & impose collectivization


by Professor Gerhard Rempel

Just before the X Congress of the Party in early 1921, Lenin declared that socialism could be built in Russia only on one of two conditions: if there was an international socialist revolution, or if there was a compromise with the peasant majority within the country. The essence of the New Economic Policy which he adopted soon afterwards was acceptance of a compromise with the peasantry. The Bolshevik theoretician Riazanov labeled the NEP "the peasant Brest," that is to say, a temporary truce was concluded with the peasant adversary, as with the German Empire at Brest-Litovsk.

In reluctantly accepting the terms of Brest-Litovsk, Lenin had not given up hope that a revolutionary situation would still develop in the West. In 1919, when Communist regimes appeared briefly in central Europe and in 1920, when Red armies were approaching Warsaw and hoping to reach Berlin, such hopes revived. However, even though the Comintern tried twice more to foment a revolution in Germany, by 1921 it was plain enough that the Russian Communists could not count on their foreign brethren to solve their immediate problems.

These problems were domestic. Peasant risings had erupted in the south and east of Russia, for centuries the regions from which jacqueries had sprung. As demobilization of the Red Army got under way in September 1920, rural riots, the most serious led by Antonov in Tambov, broke out and continued to smolder despite punitive measures. Tambov was in fact not pacified until 1924, and months after the promulgation of the NEP, the army general staff reported that twenty thousand "bandits" were operating throughout south Russia and the Ukraine. The climax of anti-Communist unrest, involving as Lenin himself admitted "discontent not only among a considerable part of the peasantry but among the workers as well," came with the uprising in Kronstadt in March 1921.

Kronstadt had been a great Tsarist naval base, but during 1917 its sailors had become one of the strongest bulwarks of the Bolshevik cause. Its location on an island in sight of Petrograd made the political orientation of its garrison most important. During the Civil War, many of the most active leaders during the 1917 events had gone off to become Red political and military officers in various districts, and in 1921 most of its personnel consisted of new peasant recruits. The uprising in March fleetingly threw off Communist rule and proclaimed the slogan "Soviets without Communists."

Opposition elements of all kinds, in Russia and among the emigres, from Mensheviks to monarchists, pricked up their eras. Red forces moved in, shot down thousands, and quelled the revolt. But Lenin understood well enough that Kronstadt was no isolated or accidental outbreak, but evidence of widespread popular discontent.

He appeared before the Congress of the Party in March 1921 and proposed a far-reaching measure, that the requisitioning of agricultural surpluses, which had been part of War Communism, be abandoned in favor of a tax in kind set at a fixed percentage of production. Only a year earlier Trotsky had proposed just such a measure, but it had been blocked by his colleagues, including Lenin. However, Lenin now pushed it through, and thereby inaugurated the "New Economic Policy"--although the actual phrase seems to have been first used in May, without capitals or quotation marks, and with them only several months later.

Lenin had evidently decided that a serious and many- sded retreat from Communist objectives (although a conditional and temporary one) was essential if the regime was not to be endangered by revolt from within by the very elements who had adhered to the Red side during the Civil War. His own formulation was that the reason for the NEP was "the maintenance of the alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry, in order that the proletariat may keep that role of leadership and state power."

The economy was prostrate, and the food tax could reasonably be expected to revive agricultural production and trade by providing the peasant with an incentive and security hitherto lacking. Nevertheless the economic motive was not the crucial one; as Lenin said, the question of the new tax was "pre-eminently a political question, since it is essentially a question of the relation of the working class to the peasantry". The peasantry, he declared candidly, "cannot be driven out as we drove out and annihilated the landowners and the capitalists. It must be transformed with great labor and great privations."

Maxim Gorky was blunter and more pessimistic in confiding to a French visitor, that same summer:

"In the struggle which, since the beginning of the revolution, has been going on between the two classes, the peasants have every chance of coming out victorious. ... The urban proletariat has been declining incessantly for four years ... The immense peasant tide will end by engulfing everything ... The peasant will become master of Russia, since he represents numbers. And it will be terrible for our future."

Gorky thus asserted that there was a class struggle under way between the proletariat and the peasantry and had been since 1917, but that nevertheless the proletariat, instead of struggling, persisted in melting into its adversary. Obviously the real opponents of the peasantry were the Communists, not the proletariat, who were (as Lenin said) discontented with their urban situation--in fact, sufficiently so (as Gorky said) to return to the villages from which many of them originally came.

Lenin had long realized that the peasantry as a whole did not thirst for socialism, but he had counted on the "poor peasantry" to come to the Communists' aid. In 1918 he had tried to use them in the Committees of Poor Peasants, but the device had been a resounding failure. In November 1918 the Committees had been abandoned, and the decision was taken to work temporarily with the "middle peasants" instead.

At that moment Lenin had scarcely finished saying,

"Things have turned out just as we said they would. ... First, with the 'whole' of the peasantry against the monarchy, against the landlords, against the medieval regime (and to that extent the revolution remains bourgeois, bourgeois-democratic). Then, with the poorest peasants, with the semi-proletarians, with all the exploited, against capitalism, including the rural rich, the kulaks, the profiteers, and to that extent the revolution becomes a socialist one."

As he soon learned, those assertions were premature, to say the least. But they were no empty words; they represented Lenin's basic solution to the dilemma posed by the attempt of the Communists to take power in an agricultural country. If "poor peasants" could not be found to perform their allotted tasks at the proper time, they must be found later. The stubborn refusal of the Russian peasantry to "split" and conduct its own civil war was a great blow to Lenin. However, he was prepared to wait for it, as he awaited the revolution in the West.

For the moment, in any event, the "poor peasants" remained a mirage. Instead of a spit in the peasantry between rich and poor, there had occurred 'a striking equalization of the size of the unit of production ... the small-holding worked by the labor of the peasant and his family .. already typical in 1917, had become by 1920 the predominant unit in Russian agriculture.'. Therefore the Communists had to compromise with the "middle peasants"--that is, the overwhelming majority of the Russian people. In March 1919 Lenin defended such tactics by declaring that the middle peasantry .. does not belong to the exploiters, since it does not draw profits from the labor of others," but it was not exploited either, since it was self-employed. Lenin never came closer to an admission that a Marxian class analysis simply did not apply to the country where he had sought to lead the world's first Marxist revolution.

In fact Lenin did not "compromise with the middle peasant" in 1919; his talk of doing so was translated into action only in 1921 when he inaugurated the NEP. By that time he had largely ceased to talk about the "middle peasant'. and simply referred to "the peasantry". NEP, like Brest-Litovsk, was an admission of defeat; however, neither was intended as a surrender, but rather as a tactical maneuver to be pursued only until the inevitable change of conditions which would make victory possible. NEP was like Brest-Litovsk in another respect: the end of the compromise was not that foreseen by Lenin. What enabled him to tear up the treaty was not a Communist revolution in Germany, but Allied victory.

What enabled Stalin (Lenin had died in the meantime) to abandon NEP was not a split of the peasantry into rich and poor--to which sanction for a capitalist development in the villages was supposed to lead--but the accumulation of sufficient power in the Communist state to do the job which the "poor peasants'' were supposed to do, namely, liquidate the kulaks and establish collective farms.

In 1921 the economy of Russia lay in ruins. seven years of war and civil war had produced catastrophe. Industrial production stood at thirteen per cent of prewar volume; the grain harvest had fallen from 74 million tons in 1916 to 30 million tons in 1919 and continued to decline still further. Inflation was rampant, and although the Communists hated and feared it, they saw no alternative but to contribute to it by printing paper money. The immediate economic measures taken to meet the crisis could not be directly financial, nor could they involve any plans for extensive change in the structure of the economy. They aimed merely to persuade people to work and produce more, in the city or in the village, so that some kind of regular trade could be resumed, the urban masses fed, and the villages supplied with the goods for which they would willingly exchange their grain.

Although as indicated the food tax was prompted by basically political motives, it also initiated the revival of the economy. The law provided that the peasant must pay the government a tax in kind consisting of a certain percentage, varying somewhat from region to region, of his produce; he could then dispose of the remainder on the free market. A year later the tax was fixed at a standard ten per cent. In 1922 also the peasant was permitted to lease and hire labor, although purchase and sale of land were still prohibited. By the Fundamental Law on the Exploitation of Land by the Workers, enacted in Hay 1922, the government guaranteed the peasant freedom of choice of land tenure, individual, communal, or other. Thus the villager was permitted, within rather broad limits, to manage his own economic life as he saw fit.

The small businessman was also granted a measure of economic freedom. Although the state retained in its hands the ownership of the so-called ''commanding heights''--including the largest enterprises, railways, and banks--private entrepreneurs were permitted to resume management of smaller concerns, to hire labor, and to trade more or less freely with the goods produced' The new class of small urban capitalists, who became known as ''Nepmen,'' suffered from social pressures from which the peasants were exempt.

It was difficult for them to obtain credit at the banks, the rentals for their apartments were often higher than their neighbors' , their children had to pay higher tuition fees at schools. Many of them expressed their suspicion that their situation was precarious and temporary by free spending and high living.

The new era of "free enterprise" benefited not only the peasants and small businessmen, but also the industrial workers. The trade-unions, organized under the leadership of Michael Tomsky, were permitted to strike against the private capitalists, and accordingly it was thought necessary that they be allowed to strike against state enterprises also, even though they were urged not to do so and reminded that by so doing they were by definition striking against themselves.

Under the new dispensation, the economy began to revive. Lenin addressed himself to the disagreeable topic of gold, and he announced that in the future gold would be used to construct public lavatories in the streets of the great cities of the world, but that for the time being orthodox principles of finance, as well as of trade, must be taken seriously. He handed the slogan, ''master trade," to the rank-and-file Communists, who picked it hp in a generally uneasy and gingerly fashion. State industries and state farms were now commanded to show profit and to operate on commercial principles generally.

Financial stability was slowly recovered. By the end of 1922 a third of the government revenue was coming from the food tax, one third from a variety of direct money taxes, and one third from the issuance of bank notes. As a result of the growing tax yield, in 1924 a new currency (the unit was the chervonets, which means ''red'') could be introduced and the old note issue gradually abandoned.

However, by this time a crisis had arisen in urban-rural trade. The new nationalized industry was producing again, but its costs were much higher than prewar levels and thus the prices of manufactured goods were high. As the marketing of agricultural produce was resumed, the greater supply drove grain prices down. The terms of trade thus moved against the countryside. Whereas the peasant had formerly been able to get a shirt for thirty-odd pounds of rye or the equivalent, by 1923 he needed two hundred and fifty pounds. The result was the ''scissors crisis,'' so called from a diagram Trotsky used in a speech, which showed the intersection of a falling rural price curve and a rising urban price curve. The curves intersected, said Trotsky, in September 1922.

Thereafter the ''scissors" continued to open until October 1923, when the gap was widest. The government took energetic action to force industrial prices downward. Direct pressure was exerted on that nationalized trusts to lower prices. Credit rationing, price regulation, and even that importation of lower-priced goods from abroad were employed. In consequence the gap began to narrow after October, and the crisis was surmounted, although many Party members resented the leaders' firmness with the state enterprises.

By 1923-1924 it was apparent that the regime was managing to stabilize itself, at least for the time being, as the economic revival made headway. The open although limited encouragement given to private enterprise led many in and out of Russia to conclude that "capitalism" had returned for good, and that the Communists had jettisoned their long-proclaimed ideological objectives, which might never have been seriously meant anyhow. The introduction of the NEP was the first in a long series of occasions in Soviet history when foreign observers decided that Communist doctrine was ceasing to be significant in influencing the Soviet Leaders.

No doubt many of the peasants expected NEP to be permanent, and although the Nepmen had fewer such illusions, they too hoped the policy would last for some time. Many Communist Party members feared that NEP might be prolonged and fought to end it before it got out of hand. Perhaps indeed it might have lasted somewhat longer than it did, if it had not been for certain developments which restricted political freedom, in and out of the Party, at the very time when the regime was experimenting rather boldly with economic freedom.

(3) David Mitrany, Marx Against the Peasant: A Study in Social Dogmatism (George Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, London, 1951).


What distinguished Marx from his Utopian predecessors was that he, like the economists, regarded the agrarian problem from the angle of production rather than from that of social organisation. To him, as to the Liberal economists, large-scale production was the first condition for general well-being. That condition was clearly being realised in one field by the Industrial Revolution; Marx took it for granted that the same process was bound to take place also in agriculture. Indeed, it was the change in industry which prepared the ground for building up capitalist agriculture: that change was 'completing the divorce between husbandry and domestic industry', while it was also producing the machines that were to make capitalist farming possible. To Marx this was not a process that was yet to come but one already at work in his own time. The advance of capitalist farming was evident in England and well on the way in Germany. France, for various reasons, formed an exception which in the opinion of Marx merely confirmed the rule that peasant farming was doomed. 'Property acquired by one's own labour, by one's own effort, by one's own merit. Are you speaking of the petty bourgeois, of the small peasant property which was before the bourgeois property? We do not need to do away with it. The evolution of industry has done and is daily doing away with it.'

It was dying from quite a number of ills at one and the same time. The peasant was losing the much-needed supplementary income which he had derived from his domestic industry, the enclosures and the usurpation of common land were depriving him of his second stand-by, cheap means of keeping animals. As he had sunk his small capital into the purchase of land he had to borrow for cultivation, so that his life as an autonomous producer was being squeezed out between the forefinger of the

{p. 24} tax-collector and the thumb of the usurer. In the market he could not meet the competition of the 'plantation or large-scale producer'; above all, there was the natural superiority of capitalist productioh. These circumstances were bound to have the effect, serious for society and fatal for the peasant, of the gradual impoverishment and exhaustion of the soil ' subjected to cultivation on a small scale. Capitalism, science, the course of events and the interests of society all combined to 'condemn . small-scale peasant farrning to gradual extinction, without appeal and without mercy'.

If the peasant could yet hold his head above the capitalist flood it was because of his peculiar economic position. He was owner and capitalist and worker in one and, therefore, could content himself with only 'wages' as a reward for his enterprise. In other words, he could afford to sell his produce at the actual cost of production, renouncing all rent and profit in so far as these were not pledged in advance for the payment of debts or other charges. That is why in peasant countries the price of foodstuffs was lower than in the countries with large-scale farming. The low price 'is a result of the producer's poverty and by no means of the productivity of his labour'. Or, as a much-quoted work put it in the 'seventies, the peasant survived 'by super-human labour and sub-human life'. Hence the 'absolute margin' of a small peasant exploitation seemed to be 'merely the wages of labour, which he was paying to himself after deducting the actual outlay'. Incidentally that explained how the peasant could and did pay a higher price for land than the capitalist farmer or the large landowner.

These arguments were, of course, part and parcel of Marx's theory of value. or their understanding it is especially necessary, however, to put our minds back into the time and milieu in which he was writing. Marx was living in England, as Henry George was to live in California, at a period when everything seemed to point to the concentration of land in the hands of a few large owners. His description of the agricultural situation was based on the life of the English labourer and of the pitiable Irish peasantry about the middle of the last century He had argued that 'land grabbing on a great scale', as in the English enclosures, 'is the first step in creating a field for the

{p. 25} establishment of large-scale agriculture'; to which Engels added in the fourth German edition of Capital that 'this applies equally to Germany', especially her eastern part, where enclosures were extensive in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Marx had further argued that formerly the peasants produced means of subsistence and raw materials which they mostly consumed themselves, but that expropriation and industrialisation had ruined the domestic industry of such peasants as survived. Neither of these arguments, however, was true of eastern Europe; there subsistence farming was still the rule and, with rare exceptions, the large estates continued to be tilled by the peasants.

That general conclusions based on such limited observations were likely to go astray does not matter here. We need only note that Marx himself was satisfied that in agriculture as in industry property was becoming increasingly concentrated. He said so in the Communist Manifesto; and in inaugurating the International in 1864 he capped this by adding that if all the land were to get into a few hands the agrarian problem would be much simplified, that is for the Socialist revolution.

The prolific Socialist literature shows how completely Marx dominated the mind of the movement at the time. Scientific inquiry into agrarian problems had not yet begun and his plausible parallelism between agriculture and industry seemed incontrovertible. But soon after the appearance of the third volume of Capital in 1894 the planks of the Marxist platform began to give way. The German population census of 1895 (the first since 1882) disclosed the peasant's astounding refusal to die. Between 1882 and 1895 the number of holdings of 2 to 20 hectares had increased by 1.26 per cent and the total surface they covered by 659,259 hectares (about 1,650,000 acres). The same phenomenon was reported from countries as different as the United States and Holland. And the German census of 1907 killed the concentration theory altogether. It showed that notwithstanding the many favours which capitalist agriculture had received from the State during the preceding years, large estates and farms were constantly losing ground.

That discovery went right to the heart of the Marxist system.

Even that staunch disciple, Kautsky, had to admit that if the

{p. 26} figures were right, 'if the capitalists are on the increase and not the proletariat', then the Socialist state was fading away into the mist. But were the figures right? By rearranging them so as to show the 'class' rather than the area of the farming unit Lenin tried to prove that they were wrong; but Kautsky a little later more cautiously argued that while the figures were definite enough as they stood, they did not really tell the whole story. Or if in agriculture concentration was not visible in the form of production yet it was active in the form of ownership. Everywhere the same process could be traced: 'Farming detaches itself from the ownership of the land.' Moreover, the growing indebtedness of the smallholder was making him owner of a 'phantom-property, a vampire property'. Behind the scenes capitalist owners and money-lenders were achieving between them the agrarian concentration foreseen by Marx. 'The farm unit remains', wrote Kautsky, 'but the independence of the farmer has become a myth.'

It was a clever break out of a tight corner and the argument remained for many a day a mainstay of Marxists who had to fence with the logic of facts. Some years ago an American writer, Mr Harry Laidler, advanced this theory a step further by pointing out that many functions - not only spinning and weaving, but also cheese and butter-making, cotton-ginning, rice-hulling, meat-packing as well as the manufacture of implements and fertilizers - have 'left the farm' and become concentrated. Whether 'this be agricultural concentration per se or not, it has undoubtedly rendered ... the lack of concentrabon on the farm a less important social phenomenon.' This was a great improvement on Kautsky's makeshift argument. For if the peasants were indeed heavily in debt, so in many countries, for instance in Prussia, were the large owners. And if Kautsky's point about 'concentration in ownership', as apart from production, was valid for agriculture, then its effect must be to prove the opposite, namely a rapid deconcentration, in industry, where many big undertakings were owned by a large number of small shareholders. Mr Laidler, on the other hand, by frankly dropping Marx's untenable premise of concentration in agriculture, and argung that some of its functions were being concentrated away from it, was able to circumvent at least the

{p. 27} most telling criticism which Marx's agrarian theory had to sustain.

The core of Marx's economic analysis, as of his theory, was an elemental belief in the superiority, and hence in the necessity, of large-scale production. This was perfectly clear in mdustry and could not but be true also in other fields of production. No part of Marx's economic theory was more uncritically accepted than this. The rapid extension of mechanical devices dominated the life and imagination of the time. Even those who doubted the views of Marx on the concentration of property adapted their criticism to his view on the indispensable concentration of production; and Lenin, who was ready to make tactical concessions, reasserted this part of the theory as late as 1913. Marx had not based it solely on an a priori analogy with the trend in industry. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had witnessed an increase in large estates at the expense of small owners, and this had not yet ceased in the 'seventies. As that change had been accompanied by a fall in the rural population, it was plausibly inferred that farming on a large scale had raised the productivity of agricultural labour.

Although this is not the place to join in the heated and endless debate on large versus small scale production in agriculture, it may clarify later events to point out that the increase in large estates had often been achieved by political and social pressure (through enclosures and partly as the price for the emancipation of the peasants), and did not represent simply the victory of the better system in free competition. Nor had it always meant a step towards 'scientific production', raising the productivity of the soil, as the English enclosures and the latifundia of Italy and eastern Europe testify. At any rate, about the 'seventies the trend towards concentration was not only checked but was gradually reversed. With the fall in corn prices small farms must have become sufficiently profitable for they fetched a higher relative price in the market than the large farms.

{p. 40} The course of the agrarian debate among western Socialists clearly showed that whatever changes were made in the stiff Marxist programme were dictated by opportunist reasons. They were mere bones, grudgingly thrown by the self-centred righteous town-clan to the scowling countryside. Here, as later again in the Russian Revolution, history was repeating itself. The French Revolution had been celebrated for having battered down the feudal servitudes which still survived on the land, but it had done so as part of its general attack against aristocratic privilege and autocracy, not from any particular attachment to the peasants. The needs of the moment had urged its leaders to conciliate the peasants, and that had been the more readily done as the same action hit the aristocratic emigres; just as the confiscation of the latter's land had been designed to impoverish them and fill the revolutionary coffer not to lift up the peasants, who were made to pay well for what they got. In short, the agrarian policy of the French Revolution had been not so much a considered social reform as a medley of tactical political moves.

That is equally true, taking the movement as a whole, of the agrarian reforms accepted and supported by western Socialists after the 'nineties, as indeed of Soviet policy in its earlier phase. Reformers or pure Marxists were moved much more by political needs than by scientific arguments, and even less by any understanding or sympathy for the countryside. The Communist Manifesto had lumped the peasant together with handicraftsmen and small traders, etc., in the 'petty bourgeoisie' as an unstable and reactionary class and never thought of allotting him a place of his own in the revolutionary procession. If one considers not only Capital but his whole scientific and political activity, nowhere will one find signs that Marx had seriously studied the actual state of the peasants in any one land. His way had been to formulate a general theory and simply sweep them into it, never considering them as a subject fitted for a special plan of reform. It was a sentence without trial. All his life, not only as an economist but also as a townsman and

{p. 41} revolutionary, Marx was filled with undisguised contempt for the peasant. In he Eighteenth Brumaire he explained that the peasants formed a class in so far as in their economic organisation and in their life they differed from both the bourgeois and the proletariat, and were antagonistic to them; but politically they lacked the unity of a class, being rather an agglomeration of individuals, which he compared to a sack of potatoes. He even found it in him to praise capitalism for having rescued 'a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life'. This reflects a prejudice still widely prevalent among western Socialists. In practice they had to temper it and compromise 'wherever the peasants persisted in sufficient numbers to count as a political factor; and in each country, as was natural, the revisionist current flowed strongest from the regions where agriculture on a small scale predominated. What other attitude, for instance, could the south German Socialists have adopted? To them the issue was never clouded: it was either a modified Socialism with the peasants or without the peasants no Socialism at all. In so far as they wanted Socialism they had to temper their Marxism.

If that issue was clear enough in Germany and in France, it was bound to be glaring in the peasant countries of eastern Europe. As one travelled eastwards across the Continent factories became scarcer while farms multiplied, until agriculture spread itself out almost without rival on the vast plains of Russia. The revolt against Marxism followed exactly this variation in economic structure. It travelled eastwards in ever widening eddies until it struck the shores of Russia; there it encountered intense local currents and the returning tide came back transformed out of all recognition as Populism, and in that guise overflowed into the neighbouring peasant countries. Marxism and Populism are so tartly dissimilar that any suggestion of their being in any way related must appear exceedingly strained. Yet the connection has been real enough. Not only has the second taken some of its theory from the first, but above all, as we shall see, Populism was carried forward on the high wave of radical sentiment stirred up by Marxist Socialism. And when it finally took political shape in the Peasant movement it was in no small degree as a reaction against the agrarian plans of

{p. 45} Under the stimulus of French Utopian socialism (and perhaps the influence of French emigres who acquainted them with the reforming ideas of the encyclopaedists and others) Russian intellectuals felt deeply the misery in which serfdom and oligarchy had steeped the mass of their people. This humanitarian interest in the muzhik met in a natural confluence with the spirit of national messianism stirred up by the wars with Napoleon. As the only Continental country to have been able to resist him, Russia felt a new pride in herself, and the slavish imitation of the West which had marked the 'Petersburg' period turned into an equally uncritical worship of the Russian past. The good old ways, naturally, had survived best among the mass of the people, and so the main trait of the new Slavophil current was the interest taken in the traditional ways and institutions of the peasants.

Of these institutions none seemed more typical or venerable or was more widespread than the peasant commune, the mir or obshchina. The Slavophils, looking upon the mir as a vessel by means of which religion and a Christian way of life without greed or envy had been kept undefiled, made of it an object of almost mystic veneration on ethnic and ethical grounds. From the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, however, the mir acquired a fresh and tremendous significance for social reasons. 'The Slav commune began to be appreciated', asserted Herzen, 'when Socialism began to spread'. Its fervent Russian adepts now began to see in the mir also the basis for an ideal socialistic commonwealth. Some of them, like Herzen, went even further. Disappointed with the failure of 1848, and with western Liberalism in general, they looked upon the mir as a seed which a revolutionary providence had nursed on Russian soil to generate from it in good time a socialist world. Perhaps Herzen himself fathered the idea: in a letter to Michelet, in 1851, he expressed his conviction that Russia's isolation from Europe had been her salvation, as it had protected the obshchina from the withering currents of bourgeois capitalism. Thus a chain of high waves of popular sentiment - humanism, nationalism, Socialism - had worked together to create in Russia a fervid interest in the people and in the peasant com-

{p. 46} mune. Radical reformers and reactionary Slavophils were united in their faith in the mir. If Slavophils like Khomyakov wanted to save Russia from the godlessness of the West, Herzen and his friends wanted to save her from western 'bourgeois' misery. Both despised western civilisation and the political economy of the West, one side attacking it in the name of a chimerical past and the other in the name of an utopian future'. It was into that potent sentimental bias that the new times now injected the dynamic force of Marxist socialism. The vaguer mental stirrings caused by the French socialism of the 'thirties and 'forties were given more definite shape by German Socialism after 1848; Lassalle, Marx and Engels profoundly influenced the Russian radicals, especially those who had the opportunity of seeing and studying the Socialist movement abroad. The rapid progress of western Socialism between 1863-7, the agitation of Lassalle, the formation of the International, the Paris Commune - all these helped to instil a feverish spirit into Russian radicalism.

The main effect, however, was lmerely the temper but the whole position of the revolutionary movement. Until the beginning of the 'eighties the Russian intellectual radicals had assumed that the peasants must be the instrument of any Russian revolution, but at that time Marxism was introduced among them and many found it more acceptable than Populism, with its denial of industrial progress, and more promising as a revolutionary creed. In 1883 Plekhanov founded the first Marxist group and proclaimed the proletariat as the true spearhead of the revolutionary movement; and Lenin's maiden work, On the Development of Capitalism in Russia, set out to prove that like the West she was moving along the road of bourgeois capitalism to the proletarian revolution. The earlier socialists had always envisaged an agrarian and 'national' socialism for Russia; as fast, therefore, and as strongly as the new revolutionary inspiration developed, difficulties began to crop up which made it doubtful whether Marxism could be grafted on to Russia. At every essential point Marxist theory and practice were found to conflict with the old and fond beliefs of the Russian revolutionaries, as well as with the strategy they had worked out from their experience. irst in the way stood the Marxist

{p. 47} historical analysis: it insisted on the determinism of economic cvolution and postulated a phase of industrial development and capitalist concentration of production as the inevitable prelude to a Socialist society. Certain reservations had been allowed by Marx and Engels themselves. The third volume of Capital conceded that historical or local conditions might to some extent modify the evolutionary process. More directly applicable to Russia was another remark of Marx's that the chief condition for the economic survival of the peasant was that 'the rural population should have a great numerical superiority, that is that the capitalist system of production ... should be only relatively developed'; though he could have meant by this only a temporary, delaying survival, not a permanent one. But well before the appearance of that posthumous volume Marx was on several occasions towards the end of his life drawn directly into the Marxist-Populist controversy which was stirring in Russia. A little earlier, in 1874 Engels had conceded that under favourable conditions the Russian mir might lead to higher social forms, 'avoiding the intermediate state of individualised bourgeois property'; and in a letter written in 1877 Marx also vaguely granted that Russia had the finest chance of any in history of avoiding 'the ups-and-downs of the capitalist order'. The most definite was the last of these pronouncements, in the Preface to the Russian edition of 1882 of the Communist Manifesto, signed jointly by Marx and Engels. First the issue was formulated quite clearly: 'Can the Russian village commune, which is already an extremely corrupt form of the original communal ownership of land, pass over direct to a higher, Communist form of ownership, or must it first of all go through the process of liquidation familiar to us in the historical evolution of the West?' The answer seemed to say that such a direct elevation was possible, but on one important condition: 'If the Russian revolution should become the signal for a workers' revolution in the West, so that the two would complement each other, then the present Russian system of communal ownership could serve as the starting-point for a Communist development.'

{p. 87} Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev were alarmed by the growing power of the peasants. The old revolutionary argument came up again. They had been capable of revolutionary action until they got land, but after that, because of their attachment to the land, could not go on to build a Socialist society, and when forced forward by the proletariat, the dominant force in the new economic and social order, they proved unwilling and uncertain allies. Therefore the propertyless urban workers could only hope, as it were, to hold the fort till the workers of the West would join forces with them. In June 1926 the three men agreed upon a common platform. Their programme did not look upon peasants and agriculture as an integral whole, a source from which capital would be accumulated for the Socialist state; rather it drew the traditional distinction between the kulak who used his strength to oppress the poor, and who should be forced through higher taxation to surrender his corn, and the poor peasant who should be helped through lower taxes. Peasant agriculture should be ended as soon as possible and collectivised - a reversion to pre-N.E.P. - and the way for

{p. 88} this should be prepared by co-operative production and the speeding up of mechanisation and electrification.

{p. 95} Lenin in his essay On Co-operation recognised clearly the value of the idea for the Socialist transformation of the village; he distinguished lower forms (co-operatives of supply) and higher forms (of production, and collectives). The lower forms played an important part in preparing the ground for collectivisation, and the kolkhoz was closely connected with Lenin's ideas on the subject. It left its members a measure of private economy in the so-called 'household' plots or 'home-gardens' and the right to sell what was thus produced in the free market. During the years immediately before the war the Soviets transferred most of the land first organised in State farms (sovkhozy) to old or newly established kolkhozy. Under this system the peasants were more satisfied, agricultural administration was improved and simplified, while the control of the State was as effective as on State farms.

This did not mean a turn towards any co-operative conception of Socialism. The artel type of kolkhoz was favoured only 'for the present', as Stalin said. It was a question of judging the opportune tempo of the transition, and that was a matter of opinion. In the spring issue, 1948 of Questions of Philosophy the theorist C. A. Stepanyan dismissed as 'left-wing utopian' those who shortly before the war were urging that all collective farming should be turned into State farms without further delay. More than one Soviet theoretician has, however, made it plain that agriculture would not be regarded as truly socialised until all the artel collectives had been replaced by State collectives. Then land, livestock, machines and everything else would belong to the State; the peasants would be labourers working for the State, they would live in large communal settlements enjoying the benefits of electricity and other urban amenities, and then all class differences between proletarians and peasants would vanish - in short, the full flowering of the vision of the Communist Manifesto. Stalin himself has used every opportunity to insist that in agriculture as in industry State enter-

{p. 96} prise is the higher type of socialised organisation; and if cooperatives do not do well, the State does not hesitate to take them over, as it did with the urban co-operatives in 1936. Efficiency is the only test and the only basis for policy. In general co-operative ownership has worked well and has been favoured on the land both as regards farming and for village trading where there is a collective organisation to support it.

The kolkhozy, it will be seen, were regarded as a compromise between individual and Socialist economies, continually modified and steered in the latter direction. In sharp contrast to industrial workers the kolkhozniki still have a personal interest in the market through their so-called 'home-garden', which is more than a private allotment as it gives a surplus which they may sell freely. Many of the Party's theorists frowned on these kolkhoz markets because they remain ' a contradiction between town and country incompatible with Communism ; others protested that 'the fewer the attempts of "Leftists" to exclude' these private plots 'the greater will be the confidence of the kolkhozniki in the proletariat and their Party, and the quicker will their Socialist education proceed'. The State may consider the peasant's 'home-garden' and cow and pullets to be merely auxiliary to his work on the collective farm; the peasant himself, and even more so his wife, is likely to consider the second as being auxiliary to the first, a means of getting bread for his family and fodder for his animals. To this day all sorts of advantages and rewards, in goods or honours or medals, have to be offered the peasants as an inducement to put in more work for the collectives. Dr Schlesinger was merely stating what was to be expected when he wrote that 'even where the kolkhoz member lived mainly on his kolkhoz dividends, his traditional psychology was bound to emphasise the private husandry. And even if the peasant thought of himself essentially as a member of the collective, this collective would hardly mean more than the accustomed vilage community, now reorganised as a kolkhoz'. No doubt for such reasons as these, the decree of May 1939 required from the peasants a minimum are in collective work as a condition for continued membership, though even then the share was not set very high. At the same time taxation was weighted against the individual part of

{p. 97} a peasant's farming while the extent of the 'home-garden' and privately owned livestock was strictly limited. Against this, the kolkhozy were pressed to develop collective animal husbandry.

In a way this may have been part of general war preparations, but it also indicated what must be the Soviets' ultimate intention, that only the State or the collectives should supply the urban market, while individual holdings should merely provide the peasants with food for their own consumption. When that happens most of the 'dividends' from the co-operatives will come in cash, like the wages of industrial workers. Yet even here there is still a difference for the present. In industry there is an average wage scale for all the workers, but in the kolkhozy there is no rule as to how much grain or money a member might earn. It all depends on the results of the harvest, though prices fixed for deliveries to the State may be raised to adjust in a measure results as between various kolkhozy, taking into account perhaps the productivity of the particular region or piece of land, bad luck with weather conditions, and so on. From the peasant s point of view this uncertainty of income finds its compensation in the much greater autonomy he enjoys in his commuruty and as a household. This does not mean that he is independent. The State controls the market for agricultural products, it demands certain quantities of produce in kind, and so do the tractor stations in payment for their services - demands which take the bulk of the collective products, as private exports by one means or another formerly took the bulk of the peasant's individual products. These arrangements, moreover, serve at the same time to direct production - so as, for instance, to further according to a central plan the cultivation of industrial plants, of oil seeds, etc. In this way the working and living conditions of the peasants were being increasingly fitted into the system of planned economy. Nevertheless, a certain measure of autonomy remains: the peasants still elect their farm managers and other officials, they are still able to take an active part in discussing the plan of work of their kolkhoz, all of which allows the peasants geater scope than the workers in the factories for initiative, for experiment or, for that matter, for stagnation. A recent article admitted that even in the collectives good results depended on the personal interest of the peasants.

{p. 168} In the East the Soviets appealed to the workers against the peasants; in central and western Europe, Fascist dictators tried to enlist the peasants against the workers. It was significant of the two reactionary mass-movements which made their appearance in western Europe that both laid great store

{p. 169} upon peasant life and work for the strength and prosperity of the state. German National-Socialism especially set the fashion for an almost mystical glorification of the peasant. Already in Mein Kampf Hitler had referred to 'a healthy peasantry as the foundation for the whole nation'. In 1930 the agrarian expert Walter Darre, one of the abler ideologists of the movement and , later Minister of Agriculture, published a book whose title was to supply a favourite Nazi slogan. 'Blood and soil' was obviously as much a social philosophy as an agrarian programme, with a hierarchical and mystical element in it. Land was to be regarded not simply as 'a factor in production', but as a foundation on which to maintain the unity and independence of the peasant family system. The Spanish Falangists were telling the peasants that 'Spain was the countryside'. In Germany as in Spain, and later in Vichy France, the peasant family was set up as the hope for national revival, and agrarian policy was devoted therefore to encouraging that peasant system. When discussing the resettlement of conquered territories with German peasants, the official Nazi journal pointed out that 'it has been proved that peasant land remains much more securely German land than land in the hands of large owners'. But while anxious to give land to the peasants, Nazism also wanted that property, more than any other form of property, to carry a national-racial responsibility with it. 'The idea of property and the idea of racial [volkig] obligation must be joined here into a synthesis.' It was to be a population policy, and also a spring of national regeneration. France, said Marshal Petain, 'will recover all her strength by contact with the soil'. And a Nazi spokesman demanded the 'de-urbanisation of our whole way of thinking'.

Two factors, war and revolution, had served to bring the peasant into sudden political and social prominence in the West. The Bolshevik revolution and its repercussions, however transient, naturally led Conservative circles, as a Vichy spokesman put it, to oppose the 'stable' peasant to the 'restless' industrial worker. There was also an economic-strategical , factor, the new importance acquired by agriculture under the stress of modern war and blockade. The Nazi 'New Order' quite openly aimed at making the Continent agriculturally

{p. 170} self-sufficient ... {end}

(4) Mikhail Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich, UTOPIA IN POWER: the History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present, translated by Phyllis B. Carlos (Hutchinson, London, 1985).

{p. 94} Lenin had denounced at the beginning of the world war as a bourgeois concept and which after the revolution was persecuted and ridiculed, suddenly became part of the Communist party arsenal. On April 29 the party's Central Committee appealed not only to the workers and peasants but to "the respected citizens of Russia" to defend the Soviet Republic. This marked the resurrection of a concept of Russia that had been discredited by the revolution. The Central Committee referred to age-old enmities between Poland and Russia and recalled earlier invasions of Russia, in 1612, 1812, and 1914. It expressed certainty that "the respected citizens" would not allow the Polish "pans" (landlords) to impose their will on the Russian people. The Ukrainian Communists, who for three years had fought ruthlessly against Ukrainian nationalism, called on the Ukrainian people as a whole to rise up in defense of their homeland.

The appeal to Russian patriotic feeling produced immediate results. General Brusilov, former commander of tsarist armies in the world war, published a statement in Pravda calling on his fellow generals and officers to forget their grievances and do their patriotic duty - defend their beloved Russia from the foreign yoke, even at the cost of their lives.

This excess of patriotism disturbed the Soviet leaders, and measures were taken to curb it. The newspapers published a spate of articles emphasizing the class character of the Polish-Soviet war. Trotsky temporarily closed down the magazine of the General Staff, which had carried an article contrasting "the inherent Jesuitism of the lakhs" (an insulting term for Poles) to "the honest and open souls of the Great Russians."

Karl Radek discovered a formula which was typical of the way dialectics is used to reconcile the irreconcilable. "Since Russia is the only country where the working class has taken power, from now on the workers of the world must become Russian patriots."

A concrete result of this use of patriotic slogans was a successful mobilization of former officers and NCOs. By August 15, 1920, there were 314,180 of them in the Red Army.

After the Polish withdrawal from Kiev, the Soviet Republic concentrated the bulk of its forces on a single front and made ready, for the first time in its history, to invade another country. In command of the offensive was Mikhail Tukhachevsky, a twenty-seven-year-old former tsarist officer. All the army commanders under him - Kork, Lazarevich, Sologub, and Sergeev - had been colonels in the tsarist army.

The question of whether to cross the Polish border was discussed in the Politburo. The opinions of the Polish Communists, the "experts," were divided. Karl Radek warned of the dangers of such an action, which he said most Poles would perceive above all as an invasion by Russians. The

{p. 95} majority of the Polish Communist leaders, however, warmly supported the plan to Communize Poland with the help of the Red Army. Most importantly, Lenin was resolutely in favor of invasion.

On Lenin's insistence the Politburo voted to invade and rejected an armistice proposal from British Foreign Minister Curzon, although Trotsky supported it. For Lenin, the fact that in March 1920 a general strike in Germany had foiled a right-wing attempt to seize power (the Kapp putsch) was irrefutable proof that the German working class was ready for revolution. By crossing Poland the Red Army would be able to lend a fraternal hand to the German proletariat. The miracle of the October revolution would be repeated as the miracle of the world revolution. Tukhachevsky, in his marching orders for the western front signed on July 2, proclaimed: "On our bayonets we will bring peace and happiness to toiling humanity. Forward, to the West!"

On July 23 a Provisional Polish Revolutionary Committee (the Polrevkom) was organized in Moscow, with Marchlewski as titular head. Its real leader was Dzerzhinsky. The Polrevkom was the first attempt to use foreign Communists living in Moscow to staff a Soviet government that would be installed beyond the borders of the Soviet Republic. Experience in this field was still lacking, and the activities of the Polrevkom were improvised following the Moscow model. Stalin, however, foresaw that the Polish experiment could be repeated. On June 16 he wrote Lenin a letter presenting theoretical arguments for a proposed confederation of such future Soviet states as Poland, Germany, and Hungary. These populations, he argued, could not be treated like Bashkirs or Ukrainians and simply included in a federation of Soviet republics.

Bialystok, the first major Polish city to be taken, fell on July 28. The Red Army offensive rolled on, even though negotiations between Polish and Soviet representatives were proceeding in a desultory way and despite the fact that the last of the White armies, the army of Wrangel, had begun military operationg aimed at breaking out of confinement on the Crimean peninsula. Lenin 8wept agide the fears of Central Comminee members who suggested a halt in the Polish offensive in order to deal with Wrangel. Lenin knew that the Whites and the Poles would not coordinate their actions. During the negotiationg with Marchlewski, Pilsudski's personal representative had stated clearly that it was central to Pilsudski's policy "not to allow the Russian reactionaries to triumph in Russia."l Wrangel by himself did not po8e a gerious danger.

On August 6 Tukhachevsky was named commander of the entire Polish front, combining the wegtern and southwestern fronts. On August 14 Trotsky signed an order that ended: "Red armies, forward. Onward, heroes. On to

{p. 96} Warsaw!" Soviet troops were expected to enter Warsaw on August 16. Along with the war cry, "Give us Warsaw," another now was heard: "Give us Berlin!" By mid-August Gai's cavalry corps was only ten days' march from Berlin. The delegates to the Second Congress of the Comintern, held in Moscow July 19 to August 7, could follow the progress of the Red Army on the map hanging at the front of the hall. The world revolution was coming to Europe on the points of swords and bayonets. Lenin was categorical in his conversations with the French delegates: "Yes, Soviet troops are in Warsaw. Soon Germany will be ours. We will reconquer Hungary. The Balkans will rise against capitalism. Italy will tremble. Bourgeois Europe is cracking at all its seams in this storm!"130

{the reference is on p. 765: 130: L. O. Frossard, De Jaures a Lenine. Notes et souvenirs d'un militant, Paris, 1930, p. 137}

At the end of the congress, on August 7, small red flags surrounded Warsaw on the map. But the Soviet offensive was stopped on the outskirts of Warsaw. After its stunning defeat on the banks of the Vistula, the Red Army was forced into a rapid retreat.

The two sides in the war, and many military historians since then, have meticulously analyzed the military operations in search of the causes for the Red Army's success and defeat. Trotsky and Tukhachevsky charged that defeat was the result of Stalin's behavior. They said that Stalin, a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the southwestem front, had disobeyed orders. Stalin later blamed the "traitors" Trotsky and Tukhachevsky.

On a military level, the causes of the Red Army's defeat are evident: insufficient coordination of the two fronts, "underestimation of the enemy's forces, and overestimation of our own troops' successes.'' On the political level, things are even clearer: Lenin repeated Pilsudski's mistake. Pilsudski had imagined it was possible to bring independence to another nation on the point of a bayonet. Lenin was convinced that communism could be implanted the same way. But as a Soviet historian has put it, "The Polish bourgeoisie and Catholic clergy succeeded in contaminating the minds of the Polish peasants and small handicraft producers, as well as some of the workers, with the poison of bourgeois nationalism." The Soviet commander-in-chief, Sergei Kamenev, commented that the Red Army had reached out its hand to the Polish proletariat but "did not find that proletariat's hand reaching out in response. Undoubtedly, the more powerful hand of the Polish bourgeoisie held that hand down and kept it deeply, deeply hidden.''

Great Britain and France had done their best to stop the initial Polish invasion of Russia. By granting Poland modest assistance in the form of money and arms, they exerted pressure for an armistice. After January 1920 the Entente's policy in regard to Russia was based mainly on Lloyd

{p. 97} George's views. While rejecting the Soviet system, as all other Allied leaders did, Lloyd George strongly opposed intervention in Russia's affairs, considering it a waste of time and money. On April 16, 1919, he declared he would rather see a Bolshevik Russia than a bankrupt Great Britain.

Lloyd George formulated the principles of a policy that was to become standard for the West vis-a-vis the Soviet Union: to smother bolshevism with generosity. He declared that trade with the Soviet Republic would allow Russia's economy to revive, put an end to its chaotic state, and help surmount the difficulties that had given rise to bolshevism. When Lev Kamenev arrived in London on August 4, 1920, to hold talks with the British, "he was given such a courteous reception by Lloyd George that it would not have been any better had he been sent by the bloodthirsty tsar and not by Russian proletarian democracy." Lloyd George was hoping to persuade the Soviet representative to accept peace on the basis of the Curzon line (the roughly ethnographic eastern frontier of Poland proposed at the Versailles peace conference in 1919). Unable to obtain any concessions from Moscow, which expected Warsaw to fall at any time, he set out to tame the Poles. An inter-llied mission headed by British diplomat Lord D'Abernon left for Poland. France was represented by Ambassador Jusserand and General Weygand. British diplomat Maurice Hankey, a member of the mission who left Warsaw after six days of talks, announced in his report that Poland could not be saved. He suggested that "suitable conditions" be obtained for Poland through a peace agreement and that Allied efforts be concentrated on trying to improve relations with Germany and, through it, with Russia. When Lloyd George, seeking to learn the real intentions of the French govemment, told Marshal Foch that Great Britain was ready to send its troops to Poland if France would do so as well, the marshal answered bluntly: "There aren't any troops.''

General Weygand, refuting the legend that he was the "father of the victory" on the Vistul, wrote in his memoirs: "The victory was Polish, the plan was Polish, the army was Polish."

The Riga peace treaty, signed on March 18, 1921, was satisfactory to both parties. The Poles obtained a border much farther east than the one proposed by Curzon in July. The Soviet govemment, fearing worse conditions, was forced to accept the proposal. The Allies were particularly pleased. With Poland's help and at little cost to themselves the Bolshevik advance into Europe had been stopped.

In his diary Lord D'Abemon quoted Gibbon's historical observation that if Charles Martel had not stopped the Moors at Crecy, the Koran would have been taught at Oxford. D'Abemon added: "It is possible that the battle of Warsaw saved Central Europe and part of Westem Europe from a more

{p. 98} perfidious danger: the fanatical tyranny of the Soviets."

{p. 344} Stalin's hope that he could intimidate Finland into accepting the Soviet terms and thus avoid an armed conflict was not borne out. Finland would not yield its territory and compromise its independence. The Finnish people wholeheartedly supported their government, which was led by the Social Democrat Wajno Tanner. Stalin, infuriated, ordered that Finland be issued an ultimatum and, if it did not accept, that shelling of its border positions would begin. On November 28 the Soviet Union tore up its nonaggression pact with Finland. Stalin was confident that the artillery attack would be enough to force Finland to capitulate and accept his conditions. However, just in case, he ordered the formation of a puppet government headed by Ono Kuusinen, a Comintern leader and veteran of the Finnish Communist party. A so-called people's government of the (nonexistent) Finnish Democratic Republic was established at Terioki, and the Soviet government immediately concluded a friendship and mutual assistance treaty with this fictional entity. He planned to create a Karelo-Finnish Soviet Republic as part of the USSR, by merging Finland with the existing Karelian Autonomous Republic.

Events, however, did not conform with Stalin's expectations. The Finns were not intimidated by his ultimatum. Advancing Soviet divisions encountered fierce resistance, and it soon turned out that the Soviet troops were not at all ready for a war under winter conditions. They were not trained to fight on skis; there were shortages of automatic weapons; many did not have winter uniforms; and cases of frostbite were numerous. Surprise attacks by elite Finnish sharpshooters inflicted heavy cagualties. In an attempt to overcome the Red Army's deficiences, Soviet professional skiers were inducted, and many met inglorious deaths. Soviet transport equipment was likewise unfit for the harsh winter. All attempts to crack the Finnish defenses by a frontal assault on the Mannerheim Line were repelled, with heavy casualties. The Red Army leaderg in charge of the Finnish operations proved incompetent. General G. M. Shtern had to be called from

{p. 345} the Far East, and General Meretskov, head of the Leningrad military command, was replaced by Marshal Timoshenko. To raise morale, volunteers from the Communist youth of Leningrad and Moscow were brought in. Many of them had only rudimentary military training. Hastily thrown into battle, they suffered enormous losses. The two largest Soviet cities, Moscow and Leningrad, were soon suffering from food shortages. The particularly cold winter of 1939-40 caused chaos in transportation. For the people the war against tiny Finland proved a terrible bloodletting. Only in February 1940, after twenty-seven divisions and thousands of guns and tanks were concentrated, did the troops under Marshal Timoshenko manage to break through the Mannerheim Line. At that point Finland's only recourse was to call for a truce.

During this ignominious campaign, the Soviet Union's military weakness was glaringly revealed. To this day the Soviet government has not told its people the truth about the losses suffered in that war. According to recent Finnish figures, 100,000 Soviet soldiers were killed, while the Finns lost 20,000. The war with Finland cost the Soviet Union more than just physical losses. It was discredited internationally. The League of Nations formally condemned the USSR for aggression in December 1939, expelling it from the organization. Three other states had been branded aggressors by the League of Nations: militarist Japan, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany. Now the socialist Soviet Union joined the list.

The British and French governments were preparing to take advantage of the indignation of world public opinion to shift the center of military activity from Western to Northeastern Europe. An expeditionary corps of 50,000 volunteers was quickly organized, but the Finnish government chose not to let its territory become a testing ground for the great powers, as Spain had been. It decided, after some hesitation, to sign a peace treaty with the USSR. The agreement was signed in Moscow on March 12. The Soviet Union received the Karelian isthmus, including Vyborg (Viipuri) and the Gulf of Vyborg with its islands, the western and northern shores of Lake Ladoga, including the towns of Keksholm, Sortavala, and Suojarvi, a number of islands in the Gulf of Finland, some territory east of Merkjarvi, including the town of Kuolajarvi, and the western parts of the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas. It was also granted the right to lease the Hanko peninsula and surrounding islands to install naval and air bases and garrisons.

The so-called people's government was never supported by the people of Finland; it disappeared as quickly as it had arisen.

{p. 512} CONFUSION AND HOPE 1953-1964


After Stalin's death, Malenkov seemed to be the natural successor, having become the main political figure in the party during Stalin's last years. At the Nineteenth Party Congress in 1952, for the first time since the Fourteenth Party Congress of 1925, someone other than Stalin gave the Central Committee main report. It was Malenkov. A photograph of Malenkov with Stalin and Mao Tse-tung appeared in every newspaper on March 12, 1953, next to Mao's article, which said: "We profoundly believe that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet government with Comrade Malenkov at its head will undoubtedly be able to continue the work of Comrade Stalin." This was tantamount to an assertion of Malenkov's right to the succession.

Malenkov offhandedly brushed aside Khrushchev's proposal that they meet to discuss how and by whom affairs would be conducted in the future. "We'll all get together and then we'll talk," he retorted, departing from Stalin's dacha after the physicians had certified Stalin's death. Khrushchev said nothing but took his own measures: he removed some important archives to his own offices at the Central Committee and began to prepare for the decisive battle for power.

{On March 5, 1953: the Soviet media announced the death of Stalin. His murderers were in two factions: a Jewish one (Beria, Kaganovich, Molotov) and a "Russian" one (Khruschev). The Jewish one seized power, but was overthrown by Khruschev: death-of-stalin.html. The fall of Beria was announced on 10 July, 1953: beria.html. Voroshilov and Molotov were in the Jewish faction. In Special Tasks, Sudoplatov says that their wives were Jewish, p. 288 footnote 4: sudoplat.html. On Beria's belonging to the Jewish faction, see Sudoplatov, pp. 287-8, 296, 298, 306. On Kaganovich being Jewish, see Sudoplatov, p. 300. Mikoyan was also in the Jewish faction; he had been involved in the plan for a Jewish republic in the Crimea: Sudoplatov, p. 288 n4. Stalin died within 2 months of the Doctors' Plot being announced. The successor Government, run by the Jewish faction, denounced the Doctors' Plot as bogus.}

{p. 513} At the joint session of the Central Committee and the leading government bodies on March 6, 1953, Khrushchev gained his first important victory: he was released from his duties as secretary of the Moscow Committee with the recommendation that he concentrate on work at the Secretariat of the Central Committee. Neither Malenkov nor Beria, who had become allies since the time of the "Leningrad affair," saw in Khrushchev a serious rival. Both were directing their thoughts toward seizing control over the state apparatus. Both committed a serious error when they overestimated the significance of their respective posts as head of government and head of the secret police and underestimated the importance of possessing control over the party apparatus. It was the personality of the head of government - not the post of chairman of the Council of Ministers - that was important for holding power. As chairman of the Council of Ministers, Stalin remained the all-powerful dictator. Malenkov occupied this post, but he was not a dictator - he was only the prime minister.

Khrushchev did not try to contend for the premiership. Contrary to his nature, this time he was patient enough to wait. As far as he was concerned, Malenkov was no danger to him. The danger lay in an alliance between Malenkov and Beria. Khrushchev was the embodiment of the party apparatus and understood perfectly well the mood of the regional secretaries, who had now become the real power locally. They wanted to be free from fear and from surveillance by the chiefs of local state security agencies. They were loyal, but they desired greater independence in deciding local matters and a guarantee of personal security. For them, as for Khrushchev, the most dangerous man was Beria, whom the majority of party leaders and the military bureaucracy hated.

After Stalin's death, Khrushchev very rapidly managed to separate the power of the party and the power of the government. Qn March 14, 1953, Malenkov at his own request was released from his duties as secretary of the Central Committee, but he remained chairman of the Council of Ministers. Khrushchev in effect became first secretary of the Central Committee. This office, abolished after the Nineteenth Party Congress, was officially reinstated in September 1953.

On March 15, 1953, the fourth session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR confirmed the new government leadership. Voroshilov was elected to the nominal, yet honorary post of chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

{Voroshilov and Molotov were in the Jewish faction. In Special Tasks, Sudoplatov says that their wives were Jewish, p. 288 footnote 4: sudoplat.html. On Beria's belonging to the Jewish faction, see ibid., pp. 287-8, 296, 298, 306. On Kaganovich being Jewish, see ibid., p. 300. Mikoyan was also in the Jewish faction; he had been involved in the plan for a Jewish republic in the Crimea: ibid., p. 288 n4.}

Malenkov was named chairman of the Council of Ministers; Beria, Molotov, and Kaganovich {all in the Jewish faction} became his first deputies, and Bulganin and Mikoyan were made deputies. The first "triumvirate" - Malenkov Beria, and Molotov - had come to power, although Molotov was actually shunted aside to the realm of foreign policy.

{p. 515} In 1954 the tax on cows and pigs was abolished. By this time the tax on the private plot had decreased by some 60 percent as compared with 1952. The effect of these measures was staggering: the countryside and the cities located close to rural areas ceased to experience acute food shortages, although the situation remained grave enough. But above all, the peasants

{p. 516} once again began to believe in the government and in the possibility of an improvement in their bleak existence.

It is easy to imagine what the results of a total restructuring of agriculture might have been if granting relative freedom in the use of the private plot, which represented only 2 percent of all cultivated land in the Soviet Union, changed conditions so quickly.

On April 4, 1953, a report was published, without any commentary, by the Ministry of Internal Affairs: the "doctors' plot" had been concocted as a provocation by the former leadership of the former Ministry of State Security, and the accused were innocent of any crimes. This was an astonishing announcement, for Ignatiev, the former chief of state security, had been made a secretary of the Central Committee immediately after Stalin's death. He could not have been elected to the Secretariat of the Central Committee without Khrushchev's consent. But Ignatiev bore direct responsibility for the preparation of the doctors' trial. Did Khrushchev have anything to do with this affair? The question is all the more justified, because Ignatiev was never called to account for his actions, and after he was relieved of his duties as secretary of the Central Committee he was named first party secretary of Bashkiria. Be that as it may, the MVD's April 4 announcement had enormous political significance as a declaration of a break with the previous practice of lawlessness and terror. Many families of those arrested as "enemies of the people" saw the potential for obtaining a review of the accusations and convictions of their relatives. The procuracy of the USSR and Flrty agencies were deluged with hundreds of thousands of individual petitions to review the cases of people who had been convicted.

Later, after Beria's arrest, it was contended in party circles that Beria had not submitted this communique to the Secretariat of the Central Committee for approval; otherwise, it would have been published under the name of the entire government - not just the Ministry of Internal Affairs - and it would have been formulated differently. Indeed, that was probably the case. The MVD communique created a new, immense, and rather undesirable problem for the new leadership: the rehabilitation of hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people who disappeared during the Stalin terror. There was probably not one major party or government figure who was not involved, either directly or indirectly, in the massive crimes of the Soviet regime or, at a minimum, who had not derived some profit for himself during the terror of the 1930s and 1940s. Now the number of Beria's enemies in the leadership had increased substantially, since many were in danger of being exposed. In the meantime, Beria gave the order to free the families of members of the leadership who had been arrested and sent to the camps during the last years of Stalin's life. Beria personally

{p. 517} officiated when Molotov was reunited with his {Jewish} wife, P. S. Zhemchuzhina, who had been sent to a camp just before Stalin's death. At the same time, he gave the order to free the former minister of state security, Abakumov, who had landed in prison as a result of the "doctors' plot." N. D. Yakovlev, a marshal of the artillery, and his son, as well as aviation Marshal Novikov, who was arrested after having been denounced by Vasily Stalin, were also released from prison.

For a short while, Beria's name became fairly popular among the intelligentsia and the urban population in connection with the April 4 communique. Beria and the "triumvirate" made a clever move in combining the Ministry of Internal Affairs with the Ministry of State Security to create a reconstituted Ministry of Internal Affairs. The frightening words state securit disappeared in a short time, creating the illusion of change and causing a storm of applause among leftist intellectuals in the West.

But these hopes were premature, as evidenced by the decree of the Supreme Soviet on the amnesty of March 27, 1953. This decree, incorrectly called the Voroshilov amnesty (Voroshilov signed it as chairman of the Supreme Soviet Presidium, but it had been drawn up with Beria's active participation), released from prison all those who had received sentences up to five years, sometimes up to eight years, as well as certain categories of invalids, minors, and women. The amnesty did not affect political prisoners.

In the summer of 1953 masses of criminals who had been freed from the camps by the March decree filled the cities. Even in Moscow it became dangerous to go out at night because one could easily be robbed or killed. Ministry of Intemal Affairs troops were brought into Moscow and mounted patrols appeared. Later, after his removal, Beria was accused, among other crimes, of intending to use criminals released from prison to seize power.

Beria became popular in the non-Russian republics. His name symbolized a turning point in nationalities policy, toward granting more rights to the union republics. The central committee plenums of each of the republics condemned the Great Russian policy. At the Ukrainian Central Committee "grave distortions" in nationalities policy were discussed. Melnikov, chief of the Ukrainian Communist party, was reproached in particular for the fact that workers from other provinces of the Ukraine had been sent to work in supervisory capacities in the western Ukraine and because, to all intents and purposes, education in the Russian language had been introduced at all institutions of higher learning in the western Ukraine. A similar discussion took place at the plenum of the Lithuanian Central Committee: the inadequate promotion of Lithuanian nationals to supervisory positions was criticized. During this time open protests against Russifi-

{p. 518} cation could be heard without exception at every non-Russian national party's central committee plenum. ...

Beria, who was guilty of a multitude of crimes against humanity, was the driving force in the first "triumvirate," as can be concluded from the charges leveled against him in the letter by the Central Committee, addressed to members of the party organizations and to them alone, which followed Beria's arrest. It turns out that it was Beria who defended the idea of international detente, the reunification and neutralization of Germany, reconciliation with Yugoslavia, the granting of further rights to the republics, an end to russification in the cultural arena, and the advancement of members of non-Russian nationalities to local leadership posts. The Central Committee letter also pointed to the extraordinary activity of Beria, who

{p. 519} had inundated the Presidium of the Central Committee with all sorts of projects.

Molotov, the third member of the triumvirate, was made minister of foreign affairs, as we have said. An expert in cold war tactics, he now had to normalize relations between the Soviet Union and the Western nations, particularly the United States: these relations had become severely strained over the Korean war and the German question. The new govemment's program was revealed as early as Malenkov's speech of March 15, 1953. Besides the usual assurances of the USSR's peaceful intentions, the speech contained an indirect appeal to the United States, inviting it to reevaluate U.S.-Soviet relations.

The U.S. government reacted without equivocation, although without haste. In a speech on April 16, 1953, which contrary to the usual practice was published in its entirety in the Soviet Union ten days later, President Eisenhower affirmed: "We welcome every honest act of peace. We care nothing for mere rhetoric." More concretely, he proposed the following: to make peace with honor in Korea; to conclude an agreement on Austria; and to create a broad European association which would include a reunified Germany. He also pressed for the complete independence of the Eastern European states, arms limitation, and the intemational control of atomic energy. Pravda's commentary on April 25, 1953 ("On the speech of President Eisenhower"), was very mild in tone. The Times of London praised Pravda's article: "The article as a whole represents the calmest, clearest, and most rational statement of Soviet policy that has appeared for many a long month." The reaction of the British government, too, was positive. Prime Minister Churchill declared, "We have been encouraged by a series of amicable gestures on the part of the new Soviet government," and proposed to convene a summit conference.

The results of this shift in Soviet foreign policy were not slow in coming. On July 27, 1953, the armistice was signed in Korea and the war was over.

The echoes of Stalin's death, Beria's arrest, and the press campaign in defense of legality reached the ears of millions of prisoners languishing in Soviet concentration camps. They began to go on strike and revolt everywhere: in the Komi republic (Vorkuta), the Urals, Siberia, Central Asia, and Kazakhstan. The most important was the uprising at Kengir in the spring and summer of 1954,28 in which 9,000 male prisoners and 4,000 female prisoners took part.

An attempt by the Kengir camp administration to provoke the common criminals against the politicals unexpectedly set off a general strike and

{p. 520} an uprising by both categories of prisoners. The revolt continued for forty-two days. The prisoners presented demands of a political and social nature, including a call for review of all sentences and a general amnesty, implementation of an eight-hour workday, conversion of "special regime" camps into regular ones, removal of prison numbers from clothing, and improvement of living conditions. They also demanded a meeting with a representative of the Central Committee. Their slogan was: "Long live the Soviet constitution." Several years later, a human rights movement adopted the same slogan.

On Moscow orders, 3,000 soldiers with tanks were sent against the Kengir prisoners. The unequal battle, which began at dawn on June 26, 1954, lasted for more than four hours. The prisoners put up a desperate resistance, hurling Molotov cocktails at the tanks. Their strength won out, however. The prisoners were defeated by the overwhelmingly superior force of the state. The most active rebels were arrested, convicted, and sent to Kolyma.

During this revolt, a solidarity strike was declared on June 10 at the Dzhezkazgan camp. After June 26 the punitive detachment with its tanks turned to Dzhezkazgan. The 20,000 prisoners there were not prepared to do battle; they surrendered.

However, the forty-two days of revolt at Kengir were not in vain. There were changes in the lives of the prisoners: now they began to work at 8 AM, instead of 6, and they worked until 5 PM. The bars on the windows of the barracks, torn off during the revolt, were not replaced. Numbers were removed from prisoners' clothing. Some imprisoned invalids and juveniles were released, and others had their sentences reduced.

Two years before the revolution in Hungary, Soviet prisoners revolted in the camps. At the time their heroic feat went unnoticed by the rest of the world, but theirs was a historic deed, for they partially defeated the terrorism, the exploitation of prisoners, and the arbitrariness that had been rampant in the camps for years. The Resistance movement of prisoners in the Soviet camps also helped make possible the dramatic developments at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU.

Stalin's death and the first steps toward liberalization undertaken by the new Soviet leadership found an immediate echo in the Soviet Union's satellites in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Disturbances began everywhere, and the struggle between the old Stalinist leadership and the anti-Stalinists intensified sharply. Only Albania, Romania, and Bulgaria remained more or less calm. In Albania, Enver Hoxha, a staunch Stalinist, had already dealt with all likely and unlikely opposition beforehand. In Romania and Bulgaria, too, the Stalinists held the reins of government

{p. 521} firmly in hand. It was only later, after the Twentieth Party Congress, that the anti-Stalinist forces were activated in those countries.

The first serious disturbance in the socialist bloc occurred in Czechoslovakia in early June 1953. Its immediate cause was the monetary reform of May 30, 1953, which seriously affected the workers' already low standard of living. On June 1 disturbances broke out at Plzen; at the same time a general strike was called in the coal mines of Moravska Ostrava. In Plzen 5,000 demonstrators burst into the town hall and ripped down the portraits of Stalin and Gottwald. Troops summoned to the scene refused to fire on the demonstrators. Demands were made for free elections, and the names Masaryk, Benes, and Eisenhower drew strong applause. No one, however, called for the overthrow of the government. The movement was spontaneous and had no leaders. There was not even any bloodshed: after the troops refused to open fire, special police forces were called in, but they met with no resistance. The unrest in Czechoslovakia was an indication of the discontent brewing against the policies of the Communist party that had seized power in February 1948.

Agitation against the government's economic policy was also the cause of an uprising in East Germany in June 1953. The industrialization and forced collectivization carried out by the East German government led to a massive flight of the population from East to West Germany. The government's response was to increase obligatory deliveries of produce from the peasant households and to force payment of taxes in arrears. In April 1953 distribution of ration cards for foodstuffs to "alien class elements" or to inhabitants of East Berlin employed in the Western sector of the city were terminated. At the same time pressure was put on the workers to increase labor productivity. At the end of May 1953 the Council of Ministers of the GDR issued a decree increasing production norms by 10 percent. Population flow to the West increased. During the first five months of 1953 190,000 people left East Germany for West Germany, as opposed to 182,000 during all of 1952.

At exactly the same time, Moscow received word that the situation in Hungary was deteriorating. The new Soviet leaders insistently advised their satellites to change economic policies immediately, to cease pressuring the workers, peasants, and middle strata of society, and to renounce their costly and unjustifiable programs of industrialization. During the Stalin era the satellites had tried to copy "big brother" in every possible way, utterly ignoring the economic realities of their countries.

Under pressure from Moscow, the Central Committee of the East German Communjst party adopted a resolution condemning their former economic policy, admitting serious errors, and revoking all the unpopular measures

{p. 522} of the previous months. On the list of errors committed and measures for their rectification, however, no mention was made of the increased production quotas. The resolution was followed by the announcement that these quotas would go into effect precisely on June 30, 1953. On June 16 the workers of East Berlin responded with an immediate work stoppage and mass demonstrations. Thousands of workers converged on the main government building in East Berlin, demanding that the new quotas be withdrawn and prices lowered. They presented political demands as well: the dismissal of Walter Ulbricht, leader of the party, and the reunification of Germany, followed by free elections. The next day, a general strike began in East Germany, and disturbances broke out in a number of other cities, including Leipzig, Dresden, and Magdeburg. Workers in these cities attacked police stations and prisons, freeing political prisoners. As many as 100,000 people took part in these actions.

In order to suppress the incipient general insurrection in the GDR, the Soviet authorities brought in tanks. The Soviet troops were aided by the GDR police. According to some sources, nearly 500 people were killed. The Soviet government portrayed this bloody suppression of a workers' uprising in the GDR as the liquidation of an attempted fascist rebellion. Even more than thirty years later, the Soviet people still do not know what happened in East Germany in June 1953.

The new Soviet leadership observed events developing in Hungary with great uneasiness. The leader of the Hungarian Communist party, Matyas Rakosi, was conceivably the most devoted to the Soviet Union of all the leaders of the socialist countries. He sought to imitate Soviet policies in every respect. As a result, by the early 1950s Hungary was in a disastrous situation economically and politically.

Rakosi and the other Hungarian leaders were summoned to Moscow in the spring of 1953. The Soviet leaders demanded from Rakosi an end to the unwarranted, adventuristic course of superindustrialization and forced collectivization. Moscow insisted on a reorganization of the leadership, the resignation of Rakosi as prime minister, along with the ministers of heavy industry and defense, and the condemnation of past errors. Imre Nagy, an old Comintern member, was named to take Rakosi's place as the head of government; Nagy was considered a moderate and in fact had opposed Rakosi's policies. The Hungarian Politburo accepted the resolution forced upon it but kept its contents secret, getting away with publishing a nebulous communique. But Nagy, who had been placed at the head of the government, embarked on a policy similar to the NEP.

Rakosi remained at the head of the party, and soon a bitter struggle developed in the Hungarian leadership. Nagy was accused of rightist de-

{p. 523} viation and removed from his post as prime minister in April 1955. But at the same time the rehabilitation of the victims of the Rakosi regime had begun, paralleling developments in the Soviet Union. In Hungary, unlike in the Soviet Union, many were restored to their positions in the Communist party. Hungary became the scene of a broad movement for liberalization, which won the support of the entire intelligentsia, from students to writers. Social organizations and circles of various kinds made their appearance, as did magazines and anthologies by writers and artists of a liberal bent. Works that developed a point of view critical of the situation in socialist Hungary were published. A spiritual revolution had begun in Hungary.

On July 10, 1953, Soviet newspapers announced Beria's arrest. The groundwork for Beria's removal had been laid by Khrushchev, in a deal with the other members of the Presidium of the Central Committee. The arrest was carried out by the military group, headed by Marshal Zhukov and assisted by Ivan Serov. Beria's fall brought the end of the first triumvirate. The prestige and influence of Khrushchev, the organizer of the plot against Beria, increased significantly. Malenkov, without Beria's support, came to depend all the more on Khrushchev, who very quickly assumed control of the party apparatus. Khrushchev was not yet able to dictate his own decisions, but even Malenkov could no longer act without Khrushchev's consent; each still needed the other's support. Khrushchev controlled not only the party apparatus; the army, which he had used to eliminate Beria, was also behind him. Zhukov, Konev, Moskalenko, who had directly executed the logistics of Beria's arrest, as well as Marshal Bulganin, who was utterly devoted to Khrushchev, were assigned to the most important political and strategic area - the Moscow Military District.

The official trial of Beria and his accomplices was held in December 1953. (Beria was already dead, although the people did not know this.) Among other things, he was accused of organizing "a group of anti-Soviet conspirators whose aim was to seize power and to restore the rule of the bourgeoisie." It is doubtful, however, that Beria would have sought to restore power to the bourgeoisie rather than for his own dictatorship.

At the same time Beria was declared to have been an agent of British intelligence since 1918. He was tried and sentenced to death along with several other high-ranking members of state security, including some former ministers and their aides. In 1954 Ryumin, the man personally responsible for the "doctors' plot," was tried and shot. The same fate later befell the former minister of state security, Abakumov, who was found guilty, among a multitude of crimes, of fabricating the Leningrad affair.

After Beria's removal, the state security establishment was reorganized.

{p. 526} However, when the question arose of rehabilitating those guilty of "counterrevolutionary crimes," nothing could be done without a general resolution on a government-wide scale. In 1953 some 4,000 people were released. According to the most cautious estimates, there were 8-9 million prisoners in the camps. Although from 1953 through 1955 prison conditions were eased, the problem remained unsolved. The release of prisoners continued, but during 1954 and 1955 only 12,000 people were released and rehabilitated. In 1955 amnesty was declared for those who had collaborated with the Germans in 1941-1944. German prisoners were liberated the same year, in connection with West German chancellor Adenauer's visit to the Soviet Union. In 1956 the Japanese prisoners of war were freed.

After the Twentieth Party Congress, rehabilitation took on a massive character. Special rehabilitation commissions were created endowed with the power to liberate prisoners on the spot, in the camps themselves. The overwhelming majority of surviving prisoners were freed in 1956, the year of the congress; many were rehabilitated posthumously, but this process continued for many long years. The problem was particularly difficult with regard to those who had participated in opposition groups. No opposition leaders were rehabilitated, although, gradually many of the victims of the trials of 1936-1938 were posthumously cleared of the charges against them. Bukharin, Rykov, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and some others remained "guilty," although their innocence of the crimes they were accused of, such as plotting to assassinate Lenin in 1918 (Bukharin), espionage and organizing terrorist activities (Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Bukharin), and sabotage (all of them, plus Rykov), was absolutely clear and was confirmed by the rehabilitation of their "accomplices."

The rehabilitation was necessary not only to those directly affected and their families. It also had enormous significance for the population as a whole. The moral conscience of society was awakened. Candidates for elections to party committees and trade unions were recommended on the basis of their moral values.

The survivors, raised from the dead, rehabilitated and returned to their lives and families, played a major role in exposing the lawless nature of the Soviet state and the immorality of its social system. But was this true only of the Soviet system? The events in Eastern Europe demonstrated that the problem was significantly larger: it was a matter of the socialist system in general and the legitimacy of its existence. In the fall of 1954 facts concerning the tortures used by Polish state security received wide pub-

{p. 527} licity. At the same time, Wladislaw Gomulka, one of the most prominent Polish Communists, was released from prison. In January 1955 the state security agencies in Poland were abolished, and those guilty of torture were brought to trial. ...

During this time Khrushchev climbed steadily higher. At the Central Committee plenum in September 1953, where he gave the main report on the agricultural situation, Khrushchev was formally appointed first secretary of the Central Committee, which confirmed his leading position in the party. ...

At the Central Committee session of January 1955, Malenkov was criticized for giving priority to light, not heavy industry and for his errors in directing agriculture in the early 1950S. In February 1955 Malenkov submitted his formal resignation from his post as prime minister. In it, making a public "self-criticism," he admitted his mistakes and explained that he had not been trained adequately for a role as a government leader.

{p. 550} At first, after the improvements of 1953, and particularly after the agricultural reforms of 1954-55, the situation of the collective farmers, workers, and employees who had their own private plots improved significantly. In 1964 approximately 7 million hectares were in private use, compared with 482.7 million hectares of collective farm land and 571.1 million hectares of state farm and government land. But the productivity of the private plots was quite high. Permission to own a cow and a certain number of domestic animals and poultrywas not only materially beneficial to individual owners, kolkhozniks, and those living in small cities and towns; it also improved food supplies in the large industrial centers. From 1959 to 1965 (all figures being given as of January 1 each year), privately owned cattle constituted an average of 42-55 percent of the total number in the USSR; privately owned hogs, 27-31 percent; and privately owned sheep, 20-22 percent. From this it is clear what an important role individual farming played in the production of meat in the Soviet Union.

The country's agricultural population had scarcely begun to get on its feet when their privileges were abruptly revoked. In 1959 city dwellers lost the right to own cows; they were forced to sell them to collective and state farms. The sale and stocking up of fodder for private plots was restricted. A campaign was launched against "parasites" in the collective farms and "speculators" at the kolkhoz's markets. There was an attempt to convince the population that all the misunderstandings and difficulties with food sprang from the negligence of collective farmers and the machinations of

{p. 551} speculators at the markets. Here again the economic methods of the Stalin era were revived.

Khrushchev and the other "collective leaders" were often drawn to the methods of the past. The Soviet leaders refused to admit - either openly or to themselves - that all the failures of the economy were tied to the nature of the Soviet regime and were the inevitable concomitants of the Soviet social system; further, they were organic components of the system. The Soviet leaders preferred to find victims to blame for the failures and to retract many of the useful reforms introduced in the first years after Stalin's death. Of the 22 million privately owned cows in the Soviet Union in 1958, no more than 10 million remained at the end of 1962. As for the collective farms which had acquired the cows, they were unable to provide them with fodder.

In 1963, a bad harvest year, it became clear that the government had not managed to accumulate the reserves of grain required in the event of natural calamity. There were bread shortages in many parts of the country. Once again, as in the 1930s and in 1947, long lines formed and bread sales were rationed. The southern parts of the country suffered especially, areas such as the Northern Caucasus and southern Ukraine.

The government began massive purchases of grain from abroad at the expense of the available gold reserve. More than 13 million tons of grain were bought. Later Khrushchev was reproached for this; whereas in Stalin's time the people would simply have been left to swell up and die of hunger, in Khrushchev's it was decided to exchange gold for bread. This illustrates the tremendous qualitative difference between these two periods in Soviet history.

Khrushchev's last desperate anempt to find a way out of the agricultural impasse was connected with the drought and the bad harvest of 1963. His hopes for the extensivedevelopment of agriculture through the use of the new lands, particularly in Kazakhstan and Siberia, had not been justified.

The entire agricultural system had to be transformed. Even for a country as large as the Soviet Union, agriculture had to be intensive. The example of the United States, where 3. 5 percent of the population produces enough not only to feed the country but to export huge quantities of food, is convincing enough. Khrushchev wanted to duplicate the American experience, but he did so mechanically, without taking into account the differences in economic, political, and social systems of the two countries.

The land needed fertilizing, rest, and renewal. These elementary principles that every Russian peasant knew from birth were rather difficult to put into practice in a state where decisions were based on the demands of

{p. 552} the moment, on political expediency, and without regard to the consequences.

{p. 553} In May 1957 a law was passed to create regional economic councils (sovnarkhozy), which were required to manage the economy of their respective regions and to develop local resources and industries as had been done by the sovnarkhozy of the 1920s. ...

{p. 554} At first the local bureaucrats supported the creation of the sovnarkhozy although they surmised that they could make do without the "bosses" sent from Moscow. Khrushchev's prestige was strongly shaken at the center, but thereby improved in the provinces. This temporary shift in the balance of forces was a decisive factor in the consolidation of his power.

The differences of opinion that divided the top men in power touched on a number of important problems. Khrushchev's adversaries argued that the leadership should maintain total control over and coordination of the work of the ministries. They were also at variance with him on the solution to the constant difficulties involving food and on a number of foreign policy issues.

The creation of the sovnarkhozy, which affected the interests of the powerful Moscow bureaucracy, stimulated the formation of a wide opposition to Khrushchev in the party leadership. This opposition arose immediately after Malenkov's resignation from his post as chairman of the Council of Ministers and especially after the Twentieth Party Congress. The events of the summer and fall of 1956 in Eastern Europe fortified the ranks of the opposition, which began to charge Khrushchev with adventurism. The signal for the offensive against Khrushchev was his speech at a meeting in Leningrad in May 1957, in which he advanced his fantastic plan to overtake and surpass America in the production of meat, milk, and wool.

At the Central Committee plenum of June 1957 Khrushchev clashed with an organized opposition. The overwhelming majority of the Presidium was opposed to his policy. Molotov, Malenkov, Kaganovich, Pervukhin, and Saburov opposed him openly. They were joined by Shepilov, a secretary of the Central Committee. Bulganin and Voroshilov also voted with the opposition for Khrushchev's removal from the post of first secretary. The opposition won seven to four.

Khrushchev, however, decided to do battle. With the help of Kapitonov, a devoted supporter in the party apparatus who was later made a secretary of the Central Comminee, Defense Minister Marshal Zhukov, and KGB head Ivan Serov, members of the CPSU Central Committee were hastily flown into Moscow from the provinces by military aircraft. They demanded that a Central Committee session be convened. A week of discussion (June 22-29, 1957) brought victory to Khrushchev. His principal adversaries - Malenkov, Molotov, and Kaganovich, as well as Shepilov - were stripped of their posts for constituting an "antiparty opposition."

As usually happens in history, the victor made haste to rid himself of his most powerful ally, who in this case was Marshal Zhukov. As a reward for his part in crushing the "antiparty opposition," Zhukov was made a full member of the Presidium, but his popularity with the population, who

{p. 555} believed he had saved Russia from the Germans, made Khrushchev extremely uneasy. He could not forget that during the skirmishes at the plenum of the CPSU Central Committee, in response to Malenkov's angry retort: "Perhaps you intend to move your tanks against us?" Zhukov answered with assurance: "The tanks will move only at my order." These were extremely thoughtless words from the defender of Moscow and the conqueror of Berlin. If he had been more sophisticated politically he would have said: "The tanks will move only on the order of the Central Committee." Thus, Zhukov himself provided the pretext for the later accusation of "Bonapartism." However, if he had not uttered those ill-fated words, another pretext would have been found. Many of the marshals envied Zhukov's glory, and Khrushchev made use of this envy. One cartoon published in a Western European newspaper hastened the denouement. It showed Khrushchev marching ahead, followed at a short distance by a very confident-looking Zhukov. Under it was the caption: "Turn around, Nikita, look who's behind you. "

Nikita did turn around. He knew that Zhukov had not the slightest wish to become dictator, but he could not tolerate the marshal's popularity, which was eclipsing his own. As long as Zhukov and Khrushchev were harnessed together, the possibility of reminding the people of Khrushchev's service during the war was closed. It was no accident that several years later the first volume of The History of the Great Patrotic War Aganst Hitlerite Germnany, 1941-45, presented Zhukov in a negative light, as the chief of the General Staff who had failed to take timely measures to forestall Germany's "surprise" attack. In all the succeeding volumes, Zhukov's military talents were never once given their due.

In October 1957, while Zhukov was on a trip abroad, Khrushchev convened the Presidium of the Central Committee to discuss the Bonapartist danger Zhukov represented. In response to the doubts of those who proposed to wait for his return to Moscow, Khrushchev answered cynically: "Seven do not wait for one." Zhukov was not only removed from the Central Committee; he also lost his post as minister of defense and was retired.

The results of Khrushchev's struggle for the position of Leader soon became apparent. In March 1958 Bulganin was relieved of his duties as chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. He was replaced by Khrushchev himself, who concentrated in his own hands - just as Stalin had, and for a short time Malenkov as well - the two key posts in the state: party leader and prime minister.

For the first time in the history of the Soviet Union the removal of leaders from top party posts was not followed by their arrest.


(5) Small farms in Communist Poland

Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 11:06:05 +0200 From: "Marek Glogoczowski" <>

After WW2, in 1945 or 1946 "communists" issued a law that in Central Poland a farmer cannot have a farm bigger than 20 ha, and in (post German) western and northern territories nor bigger than 50 ha. This was the realization of an of "argarian reform" voted already in 1921 by the Polish "capitalist" parliament, but not realized prior to WW2 due to lack of money to pay indemnities for expropriations of landlords. In years 1949 to 1955 we had a trend of "forced collectivization" of these small farms (my grand parents in Zakopane were menaced by this), but after 1956 all pressure was dropped, majority of collective farms dismantled, so since this time untill 1990 about 80 pct. of farms were these private small "family" farms, and the rest were or in form of village cooperatives or big, state owned farms covering up to thousands of hectares, mostly in Western and Northern (post German) territories. In 1990 thanks to "shock therapy" of all Polish economy, practically all state farms were brought to bancrupcy, about two million of men working there become "obsolete" and left practically without means to live decently. (I work in Pomerania, and I periodically see masses of these "rubbish people", as well as the rubbish left from state farm buildings, not to say about new forests already growing on thousands of hectares of suddenly abandonned farmlands. In one year of 1990 the population of sheep in Poland dwindled from 4 millions to... 80 thousands!) Now, in particular in Pomerania, big, industrially-minded farmers from Holland are settling, and big bussines - like Smithfield Foods from USA - are making "factories" of meat with thousands of pigs imprisoned in cages, creating the problem of air and water pollution, which previously was negligeable.

As your second question is considered, each country of former "communist" Eastern Europe solved the problem of agriculture in a different way. In (former) Jugoslavia the situation was much the same as in Poland, with huge population of villages, living directly from agriculture (this permitted Yugoslavia to survive, in a relatively healthy way, through 10 years of economic blocade imposed by the "West" between 1990-2000.) In Czechoslovakia practically all farmland become collectivized, they had a heavily industialized (american style) high efficiency Landswirtshaft, with only 6 pct of population working directly in agriculture. In East Germany were or big collectives or big private farms. In Soviet Union dominated kolchozes and sovchozes, with relatively low economic efficiency, but also with relatively low pourcentage of population living in villages - only 30 pct. (In Poland, between 1950 - 1990, pourcentage of people living from agriculture dropped from 65 pct. to 35 pct., so my country still has very large village population - and there is no much work at present in industry (since 1990 principal industries were dismantled too) so the majority of people rest in their villags, occasionally working in the "West".


(6) H. G. Wells on doing away with the Peasants

Wells was a closet Marxist, not of the Stalinist but of the Trotskyist/Green Left kind. His aim was One World, i.e. World Government.

This "novel" is a futuristic political thriller about convergence between the USSR (which Wells thought went off the rails when Trotsky lost to Stalin) and the West.

Page numbers are for the hardback edition, with approximate equivalents for the paperback edition.

H. G . Wells, The Shape of Things to Come: the Ultimate Revolution (hardback: London, Hutchinson & Co., 1933; paperback: Corgi books New York 1979).

{hardback p. 289; pbk p. 328} What is this reconstructed transport to carry? How is it to be fed - and paid for? About the air-ports everywhere were tracts and regions sinking back to that primordial peasant cultivation which had been the basis of all the barbaric civilizations of the past. The question of the expropriation of the peasant and the modernization of agricultural production was taken up at Basra where Lenin and Stalin had laid it down, defeated. The Conference was lucidly aware that upon the same planet at the same time you cannot have both an aviator and a starveling breeding peasantry, toiling endlessly and for ever in debt. One or the other has to go, and the fundamental objective of the Conference was to make the world safe for the former. The disappearance of the latter followed, not as a sought-after end but as a necessary consequence. And the disappearance of as much of the institutions of the past as were interwoven with it.

{hbk p. 300; pbk p. 340} The abolition of the self-subsisting peasant had been the conscious objective of Lenin and Stalin in Russia. The cultivator, with increasing ease, was to produce fundamental foodstuffs far beyond his own needs and to receive for his surplus an ever increasing variety of helps, comforts and amenities. Millions of the cultivators in 1910 were cultivating entirely for the market; they produced cotton, hemp, rubber or what not, and were as dependent on the provision shop for their food as any townsman. The social crash had ended all that. In the Famished Fifties, as Morowitz says, everyone was 'scratching for food in his own patch'. In the Sixties the common way of life throughout the world was again immediate production and consumption. Only under the direction and stimulus of the Transport Control did the workers upon the soil begin to recover the confidence and courage needed to produce beasts only for sale and crops only for marketing.

The ambition of the Modern State Fellowship was to become the landlord of the planet and either to mine, afforest, pasture, and cultivate directly or to have these tasks performed by responsible tenants, or groups and associations of tenants under its general control.

{hbk p. 327; pbk p. 371/2} There was nowhere any immediate uprising in response to the proclamation of a World Government. ... Thirteen years had wrought a profound change in Soviet Russia and the large areas of China in association with Moscow. The practical assimilation of Soviet Transport and Communications was almost tacitly accepted. The details of the amalgamation were entrusted to committees flying between Moscow and Basra. All over the world, wherever there was any sort of governing or managing body not already associated with the Modern State System, it fell to debating just how and to what extent it could be incorporated or how it could resist incorporation. Everywhere there were Modern State nuclei ready to come into conference and fully informed upon local or regional issues. The plain necessity for a systematic 'renucleation' of the world became evident. The 'Section of Training and Advertisement' had long since worked out the broad lines of a modus vivendi between the old and the new.

That modus vivendi is called variously The Life-time Plan or - with a memory of that pioneer effort in planning, The Five Year Plan of the Russian Dictatorship - The Thirty Year Plan {compare Wells' 20-year dictatorship of the world, which he envisages in After Democracy, p. 196 (see above)}. Independent businesses that respected certain standards of treatment by the workers, which would accept a certain amount of exterior control, technical and financial, and which maintained a certain standard of efficiency, were to be accorded not simply tolerance but a reasonable protection. Even if their methods were

{p. 328; pbk p. 373} suddenly superseded by new devices, they were to be kept running until they could be wound up, their products were still to be taken by the Controls. This was far better treatment than was ever accorded superseded producers under the smash-and-grab conditions of the competitive system. In the same way whenever possible the small owning peasant or the agricultural tenant was not dispossessed; he was given a fixed price for his output counselled or directed in the matter of improvements and so merged by bearable degrees into the class of agricultural workers. This, as Rupert Bordinesco put it (Brief Explanation: Historical Documents Series 1969), gave them 'time to die out'. Because it was an integral part of the Life-time Plan that the new generation should be educated to develop a service mentality in the place of a proprietary mentality. There were to be no independent merchants or independent cultivators under twenty in 1980, none under thirty in 1990 and none under forty in 2000. This not only gave the old order time to die out; it gave the new order time to develop the more complex system of direction, mechanism and delivery it needed soundly and healthily. The lesson of the mental discords and tragic disproportions in the headlong development of the first Russian Five Year Plan - disproportions as monstrous and distressful as the hypertrophies and atrophies of the planless 'Capitalist System' of the nineteenth century - had been marked and learnt.

It did not trouble the World Council that to retain millions of small businesses and tens of millions of small cultivators the whole world over for so long meant a much lower efficiency of production. 'These older people have to be fed and employed,' wrote Bordinesco 'and now they will never learn or be able to adapt themselves to a novel routine of life. Help them to do their job a little better. Save them from the smart people who want to prey upon them - usurers, mortgagers, instalment salesmen, intimidators, religious or secular; and for the rest - leave them in peace.'

{p. 329; pbk p. 374} We have to see that each new generation is arranged numerically in different categories of training and objective from those of its predecessor. The Russians learnt this necessity in their great experiment. As we progress towards a scientific production of primary substances the actual proportion of agricultural workers, miners, forest wardens, fishermen and so forth in the community must fall. ... There had to be increasing numbers of people engaged in education in the developing and ordering of knowledge in experimental science, in artistic production, in making life more abundant and ample. To that expansion no limit could be set.

{hbk p. 388; pbk p. 441} If the jostling little fields and misshapen ill-proportioned farms, the untidy mines, refuse-heaps, factories, workers, slums and hovels and all the dire squalor of competitive industrialism had long since disappeared from the spectacle, there was still effort visible at every point in the layout of twenty-first century exploitation. The stripping and burning of forests that had devastated the world so extensively in the middle decades of the preceding hundred years had led to strenuous reafforestation.

{end} More at hgwells.html.

(7) Joint Opposition (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev) call for replacement of small peasant farms by Collectivisation - 1927

Platform of the Joint Opposition 1927

transcribed in the winter of 2000-2001 by David Walters

/% Foreword From New Park Publications and the Transcriber ... The present document ... was submitted to the Central Committee in early September, 1927. It was signed by thirteen members of the Central Committee, including Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev ... %/

Chapter 3 The Agrarian Question and Socialist Construction

... EITHER the proletarian state, relying upon the high development and electrification of industry, will be able to overcome the technical backwardness of millions of small and very small farms organizing them on the basis of large units and collectivism, or capitalism, recruiting its strength in the country, will undermine the foundations of socialism in the towns. ...

In the class struggle now going on in the country, the party must stand, not only in words but in deeds, at the head of the farm-hands, the poor peasants, and the basic mass of the middle peasants, and organize them against the exploiting aspirations of the kulak. ...

The task of the party in relation to the growing kulak stratum ought to consist in the all-sided limitation of their efforts at exploitation. ...

One of the most essential measures for re-enforcing the nationalization of the land is the subordination of these land communities to the local organs of the state and the establishment of firm control by the local soviets, purified of kulak elements, over the regulations of all questions of the division and utilization of the land. ...

A much larger sum ought to be appropriated for the creation of state and collective farms. Maximum privileges must be accorded to the newly organized collective farms and other forms of collectivism. People deprived of electoral rights must not be allowed to be members of the collective farms. The whole work of the co-operatives ought to be permeated with a sense of the task of transforming a small-scale production into large-scale collective production. ...

Last updated on: 26.1.2007

{end} More at trotsky.html#Forced.

The early Soviet Union: after Lenin and Trotsky, but before Stalin's ascendancy: soviet-union-early.html.

Making Sense of Stalin: stalin.html.

Red Symphony, by Dr. J. Landowsky; translated by George Knupffer. Stalin's Formal Communism (Bonapartism) cf Trotsky's Real Communism. Bears on the fact that Communism seems to be continuing, Trotskist/Fabian/New Left style, despite the fall of the USSR. Open Borders, Gay Marriage, the World Court, the Kyoto Protocol, "Hate" Laws which suppress open discussion, these are the signs. Stalin stole their conspiracy; his legacy had to be defeated, just as much as Aryanism and Christianity: red-symphony.html.

Isaac Deutscher on Trotsky vs. Stalin: deutscher.html.

Making sense of Gorbachev: convergence.html.

Vladimir Pozner on Why Jews left the Soviet Union - Max Shpak on Why the West Betrays Russians: jewish-emigration-ussr.html.

Back to the Zionism/Communism index: zioncom.html.

Write to me at contact.html.