J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 11, January, 1928 to March, 1929
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup: Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.
About a month and a half ago, in January 1928, we experienced a very grave crisis in regard to grain procurements. Whereas by January 1927 we had managed to procure 428,000,000 poods of cereals, by January 1928 procurements of cereals scarcely totalled 300,000,000 poods. Hence, by January 1928, as compared with January 1927, we had a deficit, a shortage, of 128,000,000 poods. That shortage is an approximate statistical expression of the grain procurement crisis.
What does the grain procurement crisis imply? What is its significance? What are its probable consequences?
It implies, above all, a crisis in the supply of the working class areas, high bread prices in these areas, and a fall in the real wages of the workers.
It implies, secondly, a crisis in the supply of the Red Army, and dissatisfaction among the Red Army men.
It implies, thirdly, a crisis in the supply of the flax-growing and cotton-growing areas, profiteering prices for grain in these areas, abandonment of the growing of flax and cotton for the growing of grain—and hence curtailment of cotton and flax output, leading to curtailed output of the corresponding branches of the textile industry.
It implies, fourthly, the absence of grain reserves in the hands of the state, both for needs at home (in the event of crop failure) and for the needs of export, which is necessary for the import of equipment and agricultural machines.
It implies, lastly, a break-down of our entire price policy, a break-down of the policy of stabilising prices of grain products, a break-down of the policy of systematically lowering prices of manufactured goods.
In order to cope with these difficulties, it was necessary to make up for lost time and to cover the procurement deficit of 128,000,000 poods. And in order to cover this deficit, it was necessary to bring into action all the levers of the Party and government, to shake our organisations out of their lethargy, to throw the best forces of the Party, from top to bottom, on to the procurement front and increase the procurements at all costs, taking the utmost advantage of the short period still remaining before the spring thaws rendered the roads impassable.
It was with these objects in view that the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) issued its first two grain procurement directives (the first of December 14, 1927, and the second of December 24, 1927). Since these directives, however, did not have the desired effect, the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) found it necessary to issue on January 6, 1928, a third directive, one quite exceptional both as to its tone and as to its demands. This directive concluded with a threat to leaders of Party organisations in the event of their failing to secure a decisive improvement in grain procurements within a very short time. Naturally, such a threat can be resorted to only in exceptional cases, the more so as secretaries of Party organisations work not for the sake of their jobs, but for the sake of the revolution. Nevertheless, the C.C. thought it proper to resort to such a step because of the above-mentioned exceptional circumstances.
Of the various causes that determined the grain procurement crisis, the following should be noted.
Firstly. The countryside is growing stronger and richer. Above all, it is the kulak that has grown stronger and richer. Three years of good harvest have not been without their effect. Grain surpluses this year are not less than last year, just as this year there are not fewer, but more manufactured goods in the country than last year. But the well-to-do sections of the rural population were able this year to get a living from industrial crops, meat products, etc., and held back their grain products in order to force up prices of them. True, the kulak cannot be considered the principal holder of grain products, but he enjoys prestige in economic matters in the countryside, he works hand in glove with the urban speculator, who pays him more for his grain, and he is able to get the middle peasant to follow him in raising grain prices, in sabotaging the Soviet price policy, because he meets with no resistance from our procurement organisations.
Secondly. Our procurement organisations proved unequal to their task. Abusing the system of bonuses and all the various "lawful" additions to prices, our procurement organisations, instead of curbing speculation, frantically competed with one another, undermined the united front of the procurement officials, inflated grain prices and involuntarily helped the speculators and kulaks to sabotage the Soviet price policy, spoil the market, and reduce the volume of procurements. True, if the Party had interfered, it could have put a stop to these shortcomings. But, intoxicated by last year's procurement successes and absorbed by the discussion, 1 it disregarded the shortcomings in the belief that everything would come right of its own accord. More, a number of Party organisations adopted a perfunctory attitude towards the procurements, as of no concern of theirs, forgetting that it is primarily the Party that is answerable to the working class for shortcomings in procurement, just as it is for shortcomings in the work of all economic and co-operative organisations.
Thirdly. The line of our work in the countryside was distorted in a whole number of areas. The Party's basic slogan "rely on the poor peasant, build a stable alliance with the middle peasant, never for a moment cease fighting against the kulaks" was often applied incorrectly. While our Party organisations have learned to build an alliance with the middle peasant—which is a tremendous achievement for the Party—not everywhere by far are they yet working properly with the poor peasants. As to the fight against the kulaks and the kulak danger, here our Party organisations are still far from having done all they should have done. This, incidently, explains why elements alien to the Party have of late developed both in our Party and in our other organisations, elements who fail to see that there are classes in the countryside, do not understand the principles of our class policy, and try to work in such a way as not to offend anybody in the countryside, to live in peace with the kulak, and generally to preserve their popularity among "all strata" of the rural population. Naturally, the presence of such "Communists" in the countryside could not serve to improve our work there, to restrict the exploiting proclivities of the kulaks, and to rally the poor peasants around the Party.
Further. Up to January, owing to the peasants' greater returns from non-cereal crops, animal husbandry and seasonal occupations, their effective demand was much greater than last year. Moreover, despite the greater volume of manufactured goods sent to the rural areas, in terms of value there was a certain falling off in the supply of goods, that is to say, the supply lagged behind the growth of effective demand.
All this, coupled with such blunders in our work as belated delivery of manufactured goods to the countryside, an inadequate agricultural tax, inability to extract cash surpluses from the countryside, etc., brought about the conditions which led to the grain procurement crisis.
It goes without saying that the responsibility for these blunders rests primarily on the Central Committee, and not only on the local Party organisations.
In order to put an end to the crisis, it was necessary, first of all, to rouse the Party organisations and make them understand that grain procurement was a matter for the whole Party.
It was necessary, secondly, to curb speculation and rehabilitate the market by striking at the speculators and the kulaks who engaged in speculation, by setting in motion the Soviet laws against speculation in articles of mass consumption.
It was necessary, thirdly, to extract the cash surpluses from the countryside by setting in motion the laws on self-taxation, on the peasant loan, and on illicit distilling.
It was necessary, fourthly, to put our procurement organisations under the control of the Party organisations, compelling them to cease competing among themselves and to observe the Soviet price policy.
It was necessary, lastly, to put an end to distortions of the Party line in the practical work in the countryside, by laying stress on the necessity of combating the kulak danger, and by making it obligatory for our Party organisations "to develop further the offensive against the kulaks" (see the Fifteenth Party Congress resolution on "Work in the Countryside").7
We know from the Central Committee's directives that the Party resorted precisely to these measures in its fight for increased procurements, and launched a campaign along these lines throughout the country.
Under different conditions and in other circumstances, the Party might have put into operation other forms of struggle as well, such as, for example, throwing tens of millions of poods of grain on to the market and thus wearing down the well-to-do sections of the rural population who were withholding their grain from the market. But for that the state needed to have either sufficient grain reserves, or substantial foreign currency reserves for importing tens of millions of poods of grain from abroad. But, as we know, the state did not possess such reserves. And just because such reserves were not available, the Party had to resort to those emergency measures which are reflected in the Central Committee's directives, which have found expression in the procurement campaign that has developed, and the majority of which can remain in force only in the current procurement year.
The talk to the effect that we are abolishing NEP, that we are introducing the surplus-appropriation system, dekulakisation, etc., is counter-revolutionary chatter that must be most vigorously combated. NEP is the basis of our economic policy, and will remain so for a long historical period. NEP means trade and tolerating capitalism, on condition that the state retains the right and the possibility of regulating trade in the interest of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Without this, the New Economic Policy would simply mean the restoration of capitalism, which is what the counterrevolutionary chatterers who are talking about the abolition of NEP refuse to understand.
Now we have every ground for affirming that the measures adopted and the grain procurement campaign that has developed have already been crowned with the first decisive victory for the Party. The rate of procurement has substantially increased everywhere. Twice as much was procured in January as in December. In February the rate of procurement has shown a further increase. The procurement campaign has been a test for all our organisations, Party as well as Soviet and cooperative; it has helped them to rid themselves of degenerate elements and has brought to the fore new, revolutionary personnel. Shortcomings in the work of the procurement organisations are being brought to light, and ways of correcting them are being outlined in the course of the procurement campaign. Party work in the countryside is improving and acquiring a fresh spirit, and distortions of the Party line are being eliminated. The influence of the kulak in the countryside is becoming weaker, work among the poor peasants is being livened up, Soviet public life in the countryside is being put on a firmer footing, and the prestige of the Soviet Government among the main mass of the peasantry, including the middle peasants, is rising.
We are obviously emerging from the grain procurement crisis.
However, side by side with these achievements in the practical implementation of the Party's directives, there are a number of distortions and excesses which, if not eliminated, may create new difficulties. Instances of such distortions and excesses are the attempts in certain individual districts to pass to methods of direct barter, compulsory subscription to the agricultural loan, organisation of substitutes for the old interception squads, and, lastly, abuse of powers of arrest, unlawful confiscation of grain surpluses, etc.
A definite stop must be put to all such practices.
The Central Committee instructs all local Party and Soviet organisations, besides intensifying the efforts of all bodies to secure the complete fulfilment of the grain procurement plan, to proceed at once to prepare for the spring sowing campaign in such a way as to ensure an enlargement of the spring crop area.
The agitation carried on by individual kulak-speculator elements for a decrease of the sown area must be countered by a solid, concerted and organised campaign for an extension of the sown area by the poorer sections of the rural population and the middle peasants, particular support being rendered to the collective farms.
In view of the above, the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) recommends that:
1. The campaign for increasing the grain procurements should be continued unflaggingly,
2. The fight against all direct and indirect raising of the contractual prices should be intensified.
3. Competition among state and co-operative procurement agencies should be completely eliminated, ensuring a real united front of them against the private traders and kulaks who are speculating on a rise in prices.
4. Pressure on the kulaks — the real holders of big marketable grain surpluses—should be continued, this pressure to be exerted exclusively on the basis of Soviet law (in particular, by enforcing Article 107 of the Criminal Code of the R.S.F.S.R. and the corresponding article of the Ukrainian Code against particularly malicious elements who hold surpluses of two thousand poods of marketable grain and over); but in no circumstances must these or similar measures be applied to the middle peasantry.
5. Twenty-five per cent of the grain surpluses confiscated by law from speculators and kulak speculating elements should be turned over to the poor peasants in the form of long-term loans to satisfy their need of grain for seed and, if necessary, for food.
6. Excesses and distortions in carrying out the campaign for increasing grain procurements, which in some cases have assumed the form of applying the methods of the surplus-appropriation system, such as allocation of grain delivery quotas to the separate farms, the posting of interception squads on district boundaries, etc., should be resolutely eliminated.
7. When exacting from peasants repayment of debts to the state (arrears in agricultural tax, insurance, loans, etc.), while pressure should continue to be exerted on the wealthier, especially the kulak, sections of the rural population, rebates and preferential treatment should be accorded to the poor peasants and, where necessary, to the economically weaker middle peasants.
8. In cases of self-taxation, higher progressive rates than those of the agricultural tax should be applied to the kulaks and the well-to-do sections of the rural population. Exemption from self-taxation should be ensured for the poorer sections, and reduced rates for the economically weaker middle peasants and families of Red Army men. In developing the self-taxation campaign everywhere, public initiative should be stimulated and the co-operation of the poor peasants, Young Communist League, women delegates and rural intellectuals extensively enlisted. The proceeds from self-taxation should be used strictly for the purposes laid down and not allowed to be spent on maintaining the apparatus, the specific objects of investments, estimates of expenditure, etc., being discussed and endorsed by the peasant assemblies, and the use of the sums made subject to wide public control.
9. Administrative methods of placing the peasant loan (payment in loan certificates for grain delivered by peasants, compulsory allocation of loan subscription quotas to the farms, etc.) should be categorically prohibited; attention should be focused on explaining to the peasants all the benefits the peasant loan offers them, and the influence and forces of the rural public organisations should be used to place the loan also among the wealthy sections of the rural population.
10. There should be no relaxation of attention to satisfying the demand for manufactured goods in the grain procurement areas. While putting a stop to all direct and indirect forms of bartering grain for manufactured goods, with regard to goods in very short supply the privileges enjoyed by members of co-operatives may in exceptional cases be extended to peasant sellers of grain who are not members of co-operatives.
11. While continuing verification and determined purging of Party, Soviet and co-operative organisations in the course of the procurement campaign, all alien and adventitious elements should be expelled from these organisations and replaced by staunch Party people or tested non-Party people.
On the instructions of the C.C., C.P.B.U.(B.)
1.This refers to the discussion forced upon the Party by the Trotsky-Zinoviev opposition bloc. A general Party discussion was proclaimed by the Central Committee in October 1927, two months before the Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B). For the discussion, see History of the C.P.S.U.(B.), Short Course, Moscow 1954, p. 442.