J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 13, 1930 - January 1934
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/HTML 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.
Comrades, I think that the previous speakers have correctly described the state of Party work in the countryside, its defects and its merits—particularly its defects. Nevertheless, it seems to me that they have failed to mention the most important thing about the defects of our work in the countryside; they have not disclosed the roots of these defects. And yet this aspect is of the greatest interest to us. Permit me, therefore, to express my opinion on the defects of our work in the countryside, to express it with all the straightforwardness characteristic of the Bolsheviks.
What was the main defect in our work in the countryside during the past year, 1932?
The main defect was that our grain procurements in 1932 were accompanied by greater difficulties than in the previous year, in 1931.
This was by no means due to the bad state of the harvest; for in 1932 our harvest was not worse, but better than in the preceding year. No one can deny that the total amount of grain harvested in 1932 was larger than in 1931, when the drought in five of the principal areas of the north-eastern part of the U.S.S.R. considerably reduced the country's grain output. Of course, in 1932, too, we suffered certain losses of crops, as a consequence of unfavourable climatic conditions in the Kuban and Terek regions, and also in certain districts of the Ukraine. But there cannot be any doubt that these losses do not amount to half those we suffered in 1931 as a result of the drought in the north-eastern areas of the U.S.S.R. Hence, in 1932 we had more grain in the country than in 1931. And yet, despite this circumstance, our grain procurements were accompanied by greater difficulties in 1932 than in the previous year.
What was the matter? What are the reasons for this defect in our work? How is this disparity to be explained?
1) It is to be explained, in the first place, by the fact that our comrades in the localities, our Party workers in the countryside, failed to take into account the new situation created in the countryside by the authorisation of collective-farm trade in grain. And precisely because they failed to take the new situation into consideration, precisely for that reason, they were unable to reorganise their work along new lines to fit in with the new situation. So long as there was no collective-farm trade in grain, so long as there were not two prices for grain—the state price and the market price—the situation in the countryside took one form. When collective-farm trade in grain was authorised, the situation was bound to change sharply, because the authorisation of collective-farm trade implies the legalisation of a market price for grain higher than the established state price. There is no need to prove that this circumstance was bound to give rise among the peasants to a certain reluctance to deliver their grain to the state. The peasant calculated as follows: "Collective-farm trade in grain has been authorised; market prices have been legalised; in the market I can obtain more for a given quantity of grain than if I deliver it to the state— hence, if I am not a fool, I must hold on to my grain, deliver less to the state, leave more grain for collective-farm trade, and in this way get more for the same quantity of grain sold."
It is the simplest and most natural logic!
But the unfortunate thing is that our Party workers in the countryside, at all events many of them, failed to understand this simple and natural thing. In order to prevent disruption of the Soviet Government's assignments, the Communists in this new situation should have done everything to increase and speed up grain procurements from the very first days of the harvest, as early as July 1932. That was what the situation demanded. But what did they actually do? Instead of speeding up grain procurements, they began to speed up the formation of all sorts of funds in the collective farms, thus encouraging the grain producers in their reluctance to fulfil their obligations to the state. Failing to understand the new situation, they began to fear, not that the reluctance of the peasants to deliver grain might impede grain procurements, but that it would not occur to the peasants to withhold some of the grain in order, later on, to place it on the market by way of collective farm trade, and that perchance they would go ahead and deliver all their grain to the elevators.
In other words, our Communists in the countryside, the majority of them at all events, grasped only the positive aspect of collective-farm trade; they understood and assimilated its positive aspect, but absolutely failed to understand and assimilate the negative aspects of collective-farm trade—they failed to understand that the negative aspects of collective farm trade could cause great harm to the state if they, i.e., the Communists, did not begin to speed up the grain procurement campaign to the utmost from the very first days of the harvest.
And this mistake was committed not only by Party workers in the collective farms. It was committed also by directors of state farms, who criminally held up grain that ought to have been delivered to the state and began to sell it on the side at a higher price.
Did the Council of People's Commissars and the Central Committee take into consideration the new situation that had arisen as a result of collective-farm trade in grain when they issued their decision on the development of collective-farm trade?62 Yes, they did take it into consideration. In that decision it is plainly stated that collective-farm trade in grain may begin only after the plan for grain procurements has been wholly and entirely fulfilled, and after the seed has been stored. It is plainly stated in the decision that only after grain procurements have been completed and the seed stored — approximately by January 15, 1933—that only after these conditions have been fulfilled may collective-farm trade in grain begin. By this decision the Council of People's Commissars and the Central Committee said, as it were, to our officials in the countryside: Do not allow your attention to be overshadowed by worries about all sorts of funds and reserves; do not be diverted from the main task; develop the grain-procurement campaign from the very first days of the harvest, and speed it up; for the first commandment is—fulfil the plan for grain procurements; the second commandment is—get the seed stored; and only after these conditions have been fulfilled may collective-farm trade in grain be begun and developed.
Perhaps the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and the Council of People's Commissars made a mistake in not emphasising this aspect of the matter strongly enough and in not warning our officials in the countryside loudly enough about the dangers latent in collective-farm trade. But there can be no doubt whatever that they did warn against these dangers, and uttered the warning sufficiently clearly. It must be admitted that the Central Committee and the Council of People's Commissars somewhat overestimated the Leninist training and insight of our officials in the localities, not only officials in the districts, but also in a number of regions.
Perhaps collective-farm trade in grain should not have been authorised? Perhaps it was a mistake, particularly if we bear in mind that collective-farm trade has not only positive aspects, but also certain negative aspects?
No, it was not a mistake. No revolutionary measure can be guaranteed against having certain negative aspects if it is incorrectly carried out. The same must be said of collective farm trade in grain. Collective-farm trade is necessary and advantageous both to the countryside and to the town, both to the working class and to the peasantry. And precisely because it is advantageous it had to be introduced.
What considerations were the Council of People's Commissars and the Central Committee guided by when they introduced collective-farm trade in grain?
First of all, by the consideration that this would widen the basis of trade turnover between town and country, and thus improve the supply of agricultural produce to the workers and of urban manufactures to the peasants. There can be no doubt that state and cooperative trade alone are not sufficient. These channels of trade turnover had to be supplemented by a new channel—collective-farm trade. And we have supplemented them by introducing collective-farm trade.
Further, they were guided by the consideration that collective-farm trade in grain would give the collective farmers an additional source of income and strengthen their economic position.
Finally, they were guided by the consideration that the introduction of collective-farm trade would give the peasants a fresh stimulus for improving the work of the collective farms as regards both sowing and harvesting.
As you know, all these considerations of the Council of People's Commissars and the Central Committee have been fully confirmed by the recent facts about the life of the collective farms. The accelerated process of consolidation of the collective farms, the cessation of withdrawals from the collective farms, the growing eagerness of individual peasants to join the collective farms, the tendency of the collective farmers to show greater discrimination in accepting new members—all this and much of a like character shows beyond a doubt that collective-farm trade not only has not weakened, but, on the contrary, has strengthened and consolidated the position of the collective farms.
Hence, the defects in our work in the countryside are not to be explained by collective-farm trade, but by the fact that it is not always properly conducted, by inability to take the new situation into account, by inability to reorganise our ranks to cope with the new situation created by the authorisation of collective-farm trade in grain.
2) The second reason for the defects in our work in the countryside is that our comrades in the localities— and not only those comrades—have failed to understand the change that has taken place in the conditions of our work in the countryside as a result of the predominant position acquired by the collective farms in the principal grain-growing areas. We all rejoice at the fact that the collective form of farming has become the predominant form in our grain areas. But not all of us realise that this circumstance does not diminish but increases our cares and responsibilities in regard to the development of agriculture. Many think that once we have achieved, say, 70 or 80 per cent collectivisation in a given district, or in a given region, we have got all we need, and can now let things take their natural course, let them proceed automatically, on the assumption that collectivisation will do its work itself and will itself raise agriculture to a higher level. But this is a profound delusion, comrades. As a matter of fact, the transition to collective farming as the predominant form of farming does not diminish but increases our cares in regard to agriculture, does not diminish but increases the leading role of the Communists in raising agriculture to a higher level. Letting things take their own course is now more dangerous than ever for the development of agriculture. Letting things take their own course may now ruin everything.
As long as the individual peasant predominated in the countryside the Party could confine its intervention in the development of agriculture to certain acts of assistance, advice or warning. At that time the individual peasant had to take care of his farm himself; for he had no one upon whom to throw the responsibility for his farm, which was merely his own personal farm, and he had no one to rely upon except himself. At that time the individual peasant himself had to take care of the sowing and harvesting, and all the processes of agricultural labour in general, if he did not want to be left without bread and fall a victim to starvation. With the transition to collective farming the situation has changed materially. The collective farm is not the enterprise of any one individual. In fact, the collective farmers now say: "The collective farm is mine and not mine; it belongs to me, but it also belongs to Ivan, Philip, Mikhail and the other members of the collective farm; the collective farm is common property." Now, he, the collective farmer—the individual peasant of yesterday, who is the collectivist of today— can shift the responsibility to and rely upon other members of the collective farm, knowing that the collective farm will not leave him without bread. That is why the collective farmer now has fewer cares than when he was on his individual farm; for the cares and responsibility for the enterprise are now shared by all the collective farmers.
What, then, follows from this? It follows from this that the prime responsibility for conducting the farm has now been transferred from the individual peasants to the leadership of the collective farm, to the leading group of the collective farm. Now it is not to themselves that the peasants put the demand for care for the farm and its rational management, but to the leadership of the collective farm; or, more correctly, not so much to themselves as to the leadership of the collective farm. And what does this mean? It means that the Party can no longer confine itself to individual acts of intervention in the process of agricultural development. It must now take over the direction of the collective farms, assume responsibility for the work, and help the collective farmers to develop their farms on the basis of science and technology.
But that is not all. A collective farm is a large enterprise. And a large enterprise cannot be managed without a plan. A large agricultural enterprise embracing hundreds and sometimes thousands of households can be run only on the basis of planned management. Without that it is bound to go to rack and ruin. There you have yet another new condition arising from the collective-farm system and radically different from the conditions under which individual small farms are run. Can we leave the conduct of such an enterprise to the so-called natural course of things, to allow it to proceed automatically? Clearly, we cannot. To conduct such an enterprise, the collective farm must have a certain minimum number of people with at least some education, people who are capable of planning the business and running it in an organised manner. Naturally, without systematic intervention on the part of the Soviet Government in the work of collective-farm development, without its systematic aid, such an enterprise cannot be put into proper shape.
And what follows from this? It follows from this that the collective-farm system does not diminish but increases the cares and responsibility of the Party and of the Government in regard to the development of agriculture. It follows from this that if the Party desires to direct the collective-farm movement, it must enter into all the details of collective-farm life and collective-farm management. It follows from this that the Party must not diminish but multiply its contacts with the collective farms; that it must know all that is going on in the collective farms, in order to render them timely aid and to avert the dangers that threaten them.
But what do we see in actual practice? In actual practice we see that quite a number of district and regional Party organisations are divorced from the life of the collective farms and from their requirements. People sit in offices, where they complacently indulge in pen-pushing, and fail to see that the development of the collective farms is going on independently of bureaucratic offices. In some cases this divorce from the collective-farms has gone so far that certain members of territorial Party organisations have learned of what was going on in the collective farms in their regions, not from the respective district organisations, but from members of the Central Committee in Moscow. That is sad but true, comrades. The transition from individual farming to collective farming should have led to stronger Communist leadership in the countryside. In fact, however, it has led in a number of cases to Communists resting on their laurels, to their boasting of high percentages of collectivisation, while leaving things to proceed automatically, letting them take their natural course. The problem of planned leadership of collective farms should have led to an intensification of Communist leadership in the collective farms. In fact, however, what has happened in a number of cases is that the Communists have been quite out of it, and the collective farms have been run by former White officers, former Petlyura-ists, and enemies of the workers and peasants generally.
That is the position in regard to the second reason for the defects in our work in the countryside.
3) The third reason for the defects in our work in the countryside is that many of our comrades overestimated the collective farms as a new form of economy, overestimated them and converted them into an icon. They decided that since we have collective farms, which represent a socialist form of economy, we have everything; that this is sufficient to ensure the proper management of these farms, the proper planning of collective farming, and the conversion of the collective farms into exemplary socialist enterprises. They failed to understand that in their organisational structure the collective farms are still weak and need considerable assistance from the Party both in the way of providing them with tried Bolshevik cadres, and in the way of guidance in their day-to-day affairs. But that is not all, and not even the main thing. The main defect is that many of our comrades overestimated the strength and possibilities of the collective farms as a new form of organisation of agriculture. They failed to understand that, in spite of being a socialist form of economy, the collective farms by themselves are yet far from being guaranteed against all sorts of dangers and against the penetration of all sorts of counter-revolutionary elements into their leadership; that they are not guaranteed against the possibility that under certain circumstances anti-Soviet elements may use the collective farms for their own ends.
The collective farm is a socialist form of economic organisation, just as the Soviets are a socialist form of political organisation. Both collective farms and Soviets are a tremendous achievement of our revolution, a tremendous achievement of the working class. But collective farms and Soviets are only a form of organi-sation—a socialist form, it is true, but only a form of organisation for all that. Everything depends upon the content that is put into this form.
We know of cases when Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies for a certain time supported the counter-revolution against the revolution. That was the case in our country, in the U.S.S.R., in July 1917, for example, when the Soviets were led by the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and when the Soviets shielded the counter-revolution against the revolution. That was the case in Germany at the end of 1918, when the Soviets were led by the Social-Democrats, and when they shielded the counter-revolution against the revolution. Hence, it is not only a matter of Soviets as a form of organisation, even though that form is a great revolutionary achievement in itself. It is primarily a matter of the content of the work of the Soviets; it is a matter of the character of the work of the Soviets; it is a matter of who leads the Soviets—revolutionaries or counter-revolutionaries. That, indeed, explains the fact that counter-revolutionaries are not always opposed to Soviets. It is well known, for example, that during the Kronstadt mutiny63 Milyukov, the leader of the Russian counter-revolution, came out in favour of Soviets, but without Communists. "Soviets without Communists"—that was the slogan Milyukov, the leader of the Russian counter-revolution, advanced at that time. The counter-revolutionaries understood that it is not merely a matter of the Soviets as such, but, primarily, a matter of who is to lead them.
The same must be said of the collective farms. Collective farms, as a socialist form of economic organisation, may perform miracles of economic construction if they are headed by real revolutionaries, Bolsheviks, Communists. On the other hand, collective farms may for a certain period become a shield for all sorts of counter-revolutionary acts if these collective farms are run by Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, Petlyura officers and other Whiteguards, former Denikinites and Kolchakites. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that the collective farms, as a form of organisation, not only are not guaranteed against the penetration of anti-Soviet elements, but, at first, even provide certain facilities which enable counter-revolutionaries to take advantage of them temporarily. As long as the peasants were engaged in individual farming they were scattered and separated from one another, and therefore the counter-revolutionary tendencies of anti-Soviet elements among the peasantry could not be very effective. The situation is altogether different once the peasants have adopted collective farming. In the collective farms the peasants have a ready-made form of mass organisation. Therefore, the penetration of anti-Soviet elements into the collective farms and their anti-Soviet activities may be much more effective. We must assume that the anti-Soviet elements take all this into account. We know that a section of the counter-revolutionaries, for example, in the North Caucasus, themselves strive to create something in the nature of collective farms, using them as a legal cover for their underground organisations. We know also that the anti-Soviet elements in a number of districts, where they have not yet been exposed and crushed, readily join the collective farms, and even praise them to the skies, in order to create within them nests of counter-revolutionary activity. We know also that a section of the anti-Soviet elements are themselves now coming out in favour of collective farms, but on condition that there are no Communists in the collective farms. "Collective farms without Commu-nists"—that is the slogan that is now being put forward among anti-Soviet elements. Hence, it is not only a matter of the collective farms themselves as a socialist form of organisation; it is primarily a matter of the content that is put into this form; it is primarily a matter of who stands at the head of the collective farms and who leads them.
From the point of view of Leninism, collective farms, like the Soviets, taken as a form of organisation, are a weapon, and only a weapon. Under certain conditions this weapon can be turned against the revolution. It can be turned against counter-revolution. It can serve the working class and peasantry. Under certain conditions it can serve the enemies of the working class and peasantry. It all depends upon who wields this weapon and against whom it is directed.
The enemies of the workers and peasants, guided by their class instinct, are beginning to understand this.
Unfortunately, some of our Communists still fail to understand it.
And it is precisely because some of our Communists have not understood this simple thing that we now have a situation where a number of collective farms are manage
4) The fourth reason for the defects in our work in the countryside is the inability of a number of our comrades in the localities to reorganise the front of the struggle against the kulaks; their failure to understand that the face of the class enemy has changed of late, that the tactics of the class enemy in the countryside have changed, and that we must change our tactics accordingly if we are to achieve success. The enemy understands the changed situation, understands the strength and the might of the new system in the countryside; and because he understands this, he has reorganised his ranks, has changed his tactics—has passed from frontal attacks against the collective farms to activities conducted on the sly. But we have failed to understand this; we have overlooked the new situation and continue to seek the class enemy where he is no longer to be found; we continue to apply the old tactics of a simplified struggle against the kulaks at a time when these tactics have long since become obsolete.
People look for the class enemy outside the collective farms; they look for persons with ferocious visages, with enormous teeth and thick necks, and with sawn-off shotguns in their hands. They look for kulaks like those depicted on our posters. But such kulaks have long ceased to exist on the surface. The present-day kulaks and kulak agents, the present-day anti-Soviet elements in the countryside are in the main "quiet," "smooth-spoken," almost "saintly" people. There is no need to look for them far from the collective farms; they are inside the collective farms, occupying posts as storekeepers, managers, accountants, secretaries, etc. They will never say, "Down with the collective farms!" They are "in favour" of collective farms. But inside the collective farms they carry on sabotage and wrecking work that certainly does the collective farms no good. They will never say, "Down with grain procurements!" They are "in favour" of grain procurements. They "only" resort to demagogy and demand that the collective farm should reserve a fund for the needs of livestock-raising three times as large as that actually required; that the collective farm should set aside an insurance fund three times as large as that actually required; that the collective farm should provide from six to ten pounds of bread per working member per day for public catering, etc. Of course, after such "funds" have been formed and such grants for public catering made, after such rascally demagogy, the economic strength of the collective farms is bound to be undermined, and there is little left for grain procurements.
In order to see through such a cunning enemy and not to succumb to demagogy, one must possess revolutionary vigilance; one must possess the ability to tear the mask from the face of the enemy and reveal to the collective farmers his real counter-revolutionary features. But have we many Communists in the countryside who possess these qualities? Not infrequently Communists not only fail to expose these class enemies, but, on the contrary, they themselves yield to their rascally demagogy and follow in their wake.
Failing to notice the class enemy in his new mask, and being unable to expose his rascally machinations, certain of our comrades not infrequently soothe themselves with the idea that the kulaks no longer exist; that the anti-Soviet elements in the countryside have already been destroyed as a result of the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class; and that in view of this we can now reconcile ourselves to the existence of "neutral" collective farms, which are neither Bolshevik nor anti-Soviet but which are bound to come over to the side of the Soviet Government spontaneously, as it were. But that is a profound delusion, comrades. The kulaks have been defeated, but they are far from having been crushed yet. More than that, they will not be crushed very soon if the Communists go round gaping in smug contentment, in the belief that the kulaks will themselves walk into their graves, in the process of their spontaneous development, so to speak. As for "neutral" collective farms, there is not, and there cannot be, any such thing. "Neutral" collective farms are a fantasy conjured up by people who have eyes but do not see. Where there is such an acute class struggle as is now going on in our Soviet country there is no room for "neutral" collective farms; under such circumstances, collective farms can be either Bolshevik or anti-Soviet. And if certain collective farms are not being led by us, that means that they are being led by anti-Soviet elements. There can be no doubt about that.
5) Finally, there is one other reason for the defects in our work in the countryside. This consists in underestimating the role and responsibility of Communists in the work of collective-farm development, in underestimating the role and responsibility of Communists in the matter of grain procurements. In speaking of the difficulties of grain procurement, Communists usually throw the responsibility upon the peasants, claiming that the peasants are to blame for everything. But that is absolutely untrue, and certainly unjust. The peasants are not to blame at all. If we are to speak of responsibility and blame, then the responsibility falls wholly upon the Communists, and we Communists alone are to blame for all this.
There is not, nor has there ever been, in the world such a powerful and authoritative government as our Soviet Government. There is not, nor has there ever been, in the world such a powerful and authoritative party as our Communist Party. No one prevents us, nor can anyone prevent us, from managing the affairs of the collective farms in the way that is required by the interests of the collective farms, the interests of the state. And if we do not always succeed in managing the affairs of the collective farms in the way that Leninism requires; if, not infrequently, we commit gross, unpardonable mistakes with regard to grain procurements, say—then we, and we alone, are to blame.
We are to blame for not having perceived the negative aspects of collective-farm trade in grain, and for having committed a number of gross mistakes.
We are to blame for the fact that a number of our Party organisations have become divorced from the collective farms, have been resting on their laurels and allowing things to take their own course.
We are to blame for the fact that a number of our comrades still overestimate the collective farms as a form of mass organisation, and fail to understand that it is not so much a matter of the form as of taking the leadership of the collective farms into our own hands and expelling the anti-Soviet elements from the leadership of the collective farms.
We are to blame for not having perceived the new situation and for not having appreciated the new tactics of the class enemy, who is carrying on his activities on the sly.
One may ask: What have the peasants to do with it?
I know of whole groups of collective farms which are developing and flourishing, which punctually carry out the assignments of the state and are becoming economically stronger day by day. On the other hand, I know also of collective farms, situated in the neighbourhood of the first-mentioned, which, in spite of having the same harvest yields and objective conditions as these, are nevertheless wilting and in a state of decay. What is the reason for this? The reason is that the first group of collective farms are led by real Communists, while the second group are led by drifters—with Party membership cards in their pockets, it is true, but drifters all the same.
One may ask: What have the peasants to do with it?
The result of underestimating the role and responsibility of Communists is that, not infrequently, the reason for the defects in our work in the countryside is not sought where it should be sought, and because of this the defects remain unremoved.
The reason for the difficulties of grain procurement must be sought not among the peasants, but among ourselves, in our own ranks. For we are at the helm; we have the resources of the state at our disposal; it is our mission to lead the collective farms; and we must bear the whole responsibility for the work in the countryside.
These are the main reasons for the defects of our work in the countryside.
It may be thought that I have drawn too gloomy a picture; that all our work in the countryside consists exclusively of defects. That, of course, is not true. As a matter of fact, alongside these defects, our work in the countryside shows a number of important and decisive achievements. But, as I said at the beginning of my speech, I did not set out to describe our achievements; I set out to speak only about the defects of our work in the countryside.
Can these defects be remedied? Yes, unquestionably, they can. Shall we remedy them in the near future? Yes, unquestionably, we shall. There cannot be the slightest doubt about that.
I think that the Political Departments of the machine and tractor stations and of the state farms represent one of the decisive means by which these defects can be removed in the shortest time. (Stormy and prolonged applause.)