Banditry and Famine

Speeches and Articles

Greetings to Right-Bank Ukraine!

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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The replacement of the requisitioning of food by a tax means a tremendous change in the life of the countryside. Under the previous system the peasant was left with only what was strictly necessary, while everything over and above that went to the state. Under the tax, the peasant gives to the state only a strictly defined part of his crop, while all the rest remains at the disposal of the owner and his family. The introduction of the food tax was entirely motivated by the interests and needs of the peasant economy.

In Right-bank Ukraine the introduction of the tax coincided with an excellent harvest. Whereas in the south-east of the Soviet Federation, on the Volga, an unprecedented drought parched the grain, and millions of peasants, peasant women and their children are now suffering the frightful torments of famine – here, between the Dnieper and the Dniester, the grain has ripened marvellously this year. The Right-bank peasant has to hand over part of his crop to the state, in payment of the food-tax. This part will go to maintain the Red Army, which protects the land of the Ukrainian peasants from Russian, Polish, Romanian and other landlords; to the urban workers, who have to provide the peasant with the implements for agricultural work; and, finally, to help our starving brothers on the Volga.

The Right-bank peasant must, and will, pay his tax in full and in time. He has the means to pay. Only a dishonourable, self-interested kulak can object to paying a just food-tax which goes not to the Polish landlords but to help his own brothers-workers, peasants and Red Army men. The overwhelming majority of the peasants of Right-bank Ukraine, and, in particular, of Kiev province, have already begun to fulfil their duty to the workers’ and peasants’ state. So far as I know, the Kiev-province peasants are in the front rank. This means that the Petlyurist atamans and the other bandits are no longer able to confuse the peasants of Kiev province. These peasants have understood that the present good harvest can become the starting-point for economic revival and progress in the Ukraine, provided that the countryside is purged of bandits and thugs and that the towns receive grain to make possible the development of industry.

The peasants of Kiev province are now in the forefront where their attitude to the food tax is concerned. The peasants of the other provinces will come into line with them.

Cultivators of the Right Bank! Your starving brothers of the Volga region greet you and appeal to you. They firmly hope that you will not let them down. You will do your duty to the end. You will pay your food tax when it is due, and even earlier, like true sons of the workers’ and peasants’ fatherland!

September 2, 1921
En Route, No.142

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Last updated on: 28.12.2006