MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Terms



Kolkhoz (Collective Farm)

Collective Farms in the Soviet Union, operated by peasants who were paid on the basis of the labour contributed.

Launched in 1929 by Stalin, with opposition from a strong portion of the party (which was eliminated), the plan was a forced "voluntary" union of peasants. Stalin emphasized the need of the liquidation of the Kulaks, who dominated and controlled peasants throughout the country, and instead to replace that with the domination of the peasantry to the state. On October 1, 1927, 286,000 families were in the kolkhozy. On June 1 1929, the figure had reached 1,008,000.

The collective farms were controlled by government officials (kolkhoz chairmen) who were elected by the peasants of the commune; however such elections were not without corruption and coercion. Individual households (worker's property) were retained in the collective farm, and by 1935 part of the land used by the entire collective farm was divided to allow each household garden plots.

Beginning in 1949, a drive to increase the size of the kolkhoz began; before World War II the average size had been 75 households per kolkhoz, by 1960 it had become 340 households. Before 1958, heavy equipment (largely due to a scarcity) was distributed by the government to the collective farms. Beginning in 1958, the kolkhoz gained control over how to best use their own resources in a more robust economy. Central planning remained, the government would assign a certain goal for each region to attain, which would be sold to the state at a fixed price. By 1961, production in excess of the necessary quotas for feeding the nation, both from the collective farm and from individual garden plots, could be sold on the kolkhoz market.

After the destruction of the Soviet Union, the kolkhoz was forcibly privatized.