Stalin’s economic policies
Overview
The conflict between the ideas of
Trotksky and Stalin also spilled into
economics
• Trotsky argued for ‘continuous revolution’ so that the
USSR supported Communist revolutions in other
countries as a way of bringing about ‘the triumph of
communism’ which Marx had predicted and also
protecting the USSR herself. Economic resources would
be used on foreign policy
• Stalin argued for ‘Socialism in one country’ whereby
the USSR concentrated on becoming as strong as other
Western States and protected herself that way.
Economic resources would be used on domestic policy.
Stalin’s success in the power
struggle meant that his economic
ideas were used
• ‘We are fifty to a hundred years behind the
advanced countries. We must make good this
difference in ten years. Either we do it or we
shall be crushed’.
• How this was to be done was through the
collectivisation of agriculture and the
industrial 5 Year Plans.
Collectivisation ~ the need
• To allow the USSR to industrialise quickly what was needed
were:
• State funding to capitalise factories to allow them to
establish, expand or purchase modern machinery
• Food to feed the rapidly expanding proletariat
• Therefore agricultural production had to increase and the
State had to control what happened to the food:
• Sell overseas to raise money
• Feed the workers in the cities
Soviet agriculture
• In 1928 75% of all people living in the USSR working
in connection with agriculture
• Most farming was inefficient:
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–
–
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Small farms
Little mechanisation
Poor knowledge of modern farming techniques
Much at subsistence level
• Top end peasants were known as Kulaks. They were
rich. Approx 65% of all peasants were self-sufficient
Collectivisation – the theory
• The Bolshevik policy-makers were mostly urban dwellers and
didn’t understand or trust the peasants.
• Stalin understood that they would not be prepared to give up
their land. His view, like Lenin’s, was that they should be
encouraged – the difference was that he thought that they
should be forced if they didn’t change voluntarily
• The Government understood that large farms could work
more efficiently – there would be economies of scale, modern
methods including mechanisation could be used.
Collectivisation – the structure
• Two types of collective farms:
– Kolhoze: existing farms gathered together into one large
farm owned by the State; peasants live in village
communities with amenities provided by the State;
specialisation of tasks; wages instead of food; if the farm
made a loss the peasants absorbed the financial hit.
– Sovkhoze: new collective farm set up by the State; they
were ‘workers’ and therefore received a wage fixed by the
State; losses were covered by the State
• In addition the State would set up Mechanical and Tractor
Stations (MTS) to allow collective farms to hire equipment
cheaply.
Collectivisation - method
• Most peasants (especially the Kulaks) were not prepared to
collectivise voluntarily.
• 27th December 1929 Central Committee issued the order to
force collectivisation.
• Most peasants resisted, led by the Kulak class, as the peasants
had resisted War Communism and the Bolshevik Government
responded as they had before.
• 30th January 1930 the Central Committee issued the order ‘On
Measures for the Elimination of Kulak Households in Districts
of Comprehensive Collectivisation ~ this directed OGPU to
‘solve’ the Kulak ‘problem ‘ and remove any obstacles to
collectivisation
The ‘red holocaust’
• The Kulak class were executed, imprisoned, deported or
relocated to marginal land. Prison camps, known as GULAGs
were set up in Siberia. By the end of 1931 they were
destroyed as a class
• Once the Kulak class had been destroyed Stalin then offered
the peasants in the new collective farms a concession that
they could have small plots of land themselves and some
animals but this was just a trick to generate more food and
seed. It was promoted to the peasants as a return to the NEP
• Once the Spring of 1932 arrived, collectivisation was restarted and peasants who opposed this were executed or
deported to GULAGs
The Famine
• With the loss of the Kulak class and the disruption to the
routine of agriculture brought about by collectivisation the
harvest of 1932 was very poor.
• Central Government set unrealistic production quotas for the
collective farms and when these were not met OGPU was
used to confiscate all the food available in an area.
• There was a wide-spread famine across the USSR. It is
estimated that a minimum of 10 million peasants died 193233.
• Stalin saw this as a way of driving collectivisation on,
consolidating his power and removing potential opponents
Collectivisation ~ an evaluation
• By 1941 almost all farming was collective
• Levels of food production fell drastically, the social
and economic benefits of modernisation were slow
to come, millions of people died.
• Most historians (such as Wood or Shukman) see this
as Stalin sacrificing millions of peasants to secure his
position and drive forward industrialisation. Others
(such as Getty or Nunes) argue that it was necessary
to protect the Communist Revolution or that it was
not planned, but was instead the result of a lack of
planning.
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Stalin`s economic policies