Tony Cliff

Marxism and the collectivisation of agriculture


First published in International Socialism (1st series), No.19, Winter 1964-65.
Reprinted 1980 as No.1 of the series International Socialism Reprints.
Downloaded with thanks from REDS – Die Roten
Transcribed and marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

One of the most important problems for world socialism is the interrelation of the peasantry and the reorganisation of agriculture in co-operative, or collective, farms. This is especially so as two-thirds of humanity are peasants and as the chain of world capitalism again and again breaks at its weakest links – the agrarian countries.

In this article, I shall deal with Marx’s approach to the subject and that of his followers, particularly Kautsky and Lenin. But before embarking on it, a few preliminary remarks need to be made. First, for lack of space, the present article does not deal with latifundia agriculture (as in Cuba prior to Castro). Second, it uses little historical demonstration, except what is absolutely necessary to illustrate the argument. Third, it is a revisionist article.

This last point needs some comment. It is very common for Marxists to speak about Marxism as a science and not a dogma, needing, as all sciences, persistent criticism and revision in face of empirical data. But while the principle is accepted by many who claim to be Marxists, a real critical evaluation of Marx’s dicta is frequently lacking. Marxism is transformed into a supra-historical theory, a religious dogma. But religion, after all, is “the opium of the people”. So if the reader of the present article finds that the author deviates radically from Marx’s statements regarding agriculture and its co-operative reorganisation, he must remember that he was warned.



Last updated on 19.10.2006