Leon Trotsky

The New Course

APPENDIX [for Chapter 6]
The Fundamental Questions
of the
Food and Agrarian Policy

(A Proposal Made to the Central Committee of the Party in February, 1920)

The seignioral and crown lands have been turned over to the peasantry. Our whole policy is directed against the peasants possessing a large area of land and a large number of horses (kulaks). On the other hand, our food policy is based upon the requisitioning of the surpluses of agricultural production (above consumer norms). This prompts the peasant not to cultivate his land except for his family needs. In particular, the decree on the requisitioning of every third cow (regarded as superfluous) leads in reality to the clandestine slaughter of cows, the secret sale of the meat at high prices and the disorganization of the dairy-products industry. At the same time, the semi-proletarian and even proletarian elements of the towns are settling in the villages, where they are starting their own farms. Industry is losing its hands, and in agriculture the number of self-sufficient farms tends to increase constantly. By that very fact, the basis of our food policy, established on the requisitioning of surpluses, is undermined. If in the current year the requisitioning yields a greater quantity of products, it must be attributed to the extension of Soviet territory and to a certain improvement in the provisioning apparatus. But in general, the food resources of the country are threatened with exhaustion and no improvement in the requisitioning apparatus will be able to remedy this fact. The tendency to ward economic decay can be combated by the following methods:

  1. Replace the requisitioning of surpluses with a levy proportionate to the quantity of production (a sort of progressive tax on agricultural income), set up in such a way that it is nevertheless more profitable to increase the acreage sown or to cultivate it better;
  2. Institute a more rigorous correlation between the delivery to the peasants of industrial products and the quantity of grain furnished by them, not only by cantons and towns, but also by rural farms.

    Have the local industrial enterprises participate in this task. Pay the peasants for the raw materials, the fuel and the food products supplied by them, in part in products of industrial enterprises.

In any case, it is clear that the present policy of the requisition of food products according to norms of consumption, of joint responsibility for the delivery of these products and of the equal distribution of industrial products, is lowering agricultural production, bringing about the atomization of the industrial proletariat and threaten to disorganize completely the economic life of the country.

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Last updated on: 4.1.2007