Iosif Stalin, Problems of the Collective-Farm Movement. March 2, 1930
Original Source: Pravda, 2 March 1930.
Everybody is now talking about the successes achieved by the Soviet government in the sphere of the collective-farm movement. Even our enemies are compelled to admit that important successes have been achieved. And these successes are great indeed.
It is a fact that by February 20, this year, 50 per cent of the peasant farms of the, USSR had been collectivized. This means that by February 20, 1930, we had fulfilled the estimates of the Five-Year Plan more than twice over.
It is a fact that by February 28, this year, the collective farms had already stored more than 3, 600, 000 tons of seed for the spring sowing, i.e., more than 90 percent of the plan, or about 220, 000, 000 poods. It cannot but be admitted that the storing of 220, 000, 000 poods of seed by the collective farms alone-after the grain- purchasing plan had been successfully fulfilled-is a tremendous achievement.
What does all this show?
It shows that the radical turn of the rural districts towards Socialism may already be regarded as guaranteed.
There is no need to prove that these successes are of tremendous importance for the fate of our country, for the whole working class as the leading force of our country, and, finally, for the Party itself. Apart from the direct practical results, these successes are of tremendous importance for the internal life of the Party itself, for the education of our Party. They imbue the Party with a spirit of cheerfulness and confidence in its strength. They arm the working class with confidence in the triumph of our cause. They bring to our Party new millions of reserves.
Hence the task of our Party: to consolidate the successes achieved and to utilize them systematically for the purpose of advancing further.
But successes also have their seamy side; especially when they are achieved with comparative “ease, ” “unexpectedly, ” so to speak. Such successes sometimes induce a spirit of conceit and arrogance. “We can do anything!” “We can win hands down!” People are often intoxicated by such successes, they become dizzy with success, they lose all sense of proportion, they lose the faculty of understanding realities, they reveal a tendency to overestimate their own strength and to underestimate the strength of the enemy; reckless attempts are made to settle all the problems of Socialist construction “in two ticks. ” In such cases care is not taken to consolidate the successes achieved and systematically to utilize them for the purpose of advancing further. Why should we consolidate successes? We shall anyhow reach the complete victory of Socialism in “two ticks, ” “We can do anything!” “We can win hands down!”
Hence the task of the Party: to wage a determined struggle against this frame of mind, which is dangerous and harmful to the cause, and to drive it out of the Party.
It cannot be said that this dangerous and harmful frame of mind is really widespread in the ranks of our Party. But this frame of mind nevertheless exists in our Party, and, moreover, there are no grounds for asserting that it will not spread. And if this frame of mind acquires the rights of citizenship among us, there can be no doubt that the cause of the collective-farm movement will be considerably weakened and the danger of that movement being disrupted may become real.
Hence the task of our press: systematically to expose this, or anything like this, anti-Leninist frame of mind.
A few facts:
1. The success of our collective farm policy is due, among other things, to the fact that this policy rests on the voluntary character of the collective-farm movement, and that it allows for the diversity of conditions existing in the various parts of the USSR Collective farms cannot be set up by force. To do so would be stupid and reactionary. The collective-farm movement must rely on the active support of the great bulk of the peasantry, Methods of collective farm construction in developed districts cannot be mechanically transplanted to backward districts. To do so would be stupid and reactionary. Such a “policy” would discredit the idea of collectivization at one blow. In determining the speed and methods of collective farm construction we must carefully take into account the diversity of conditions prevailing in the various districts of the USSR
In the collective-farm movement the grain-growing districts are in the lead. Why? Because, firstly, it is in these districts that we have the largest number of firmly established state farms and collective farms, thanks to which the peasants have been able to convince themselves of the power and importance of the new technique, of the power and importance of the new, collective organization of farming. Because, secondly, these districts have already had two years of schooling in the fight against the kulaks during the grain- purchasing campaigns, which could not but facilitate the development of the collective-farm movement. And, finally, because these districts have been most plentifully supplied during the last few years with the best forces from the industrial centers.
Can it be said that these exceptionally favorable conditions exist in other districts, too, for instance, in the grain-importing districts, such as our northern regions, or in the districts of still backward nationalities, such as, let us say, Turkestan?
No. that cannot be said.
It is obvious that the principle of allowing for the diverse conditions of the various districts of the USSR coupled with the voluntary principle, is one of the most important prerequisites for a sound collective-farm movement.
But what really happens sometimes? Can it be said that the voluntary principle and the principle of allowing for local peculiarities are not violated in a number of districts? No, unfortunately, that cannot be said. We know, for example, that in a number of the northern districts of the grain-importing belt, where there are, comparatively, fewer favorable conditions for the immediate organization of collective farms than in the grain-growing districts, not infrequently efforts are made to substitute for preparatory work in organizing collective farms the bureaucratic decreeing of a collective-farm movement from above, paper resolutions on the growth of collective farms, the formation of collective farms on paper–of farms which do not yet exist, but regarding the “existence” of which there is a pile of boastful resolutions. Or, take certain districts in Turkestan, where there are even fewer favorable conditions for the immediate organization of collective farms than in the northern regions of the grain-importing belt. We know that in a number of districts in Turkestan attempts have already been made to “overtake and outstrip” the advanced districts of the USSR by the method of threatening to military
force, by the method of threatening to deprive the peasants who do not as yet want to join the collective farms of irrigation water and of manufactured goods.
What is there in common between this Sergeant Prishibeev policy and the Party’s policy which rests on the voluntary principle and allows for local peculiarities in collective-farm construction? Obviously, they have not, nor can they have, anything in common.
Who benefits by these distortions, this bureaucratic decreeing of a collective-farm movement, these unseemly threats against the peasants? Nobody, but our enemies!
What may these distortions lead to? To the strengthening of our enemies and the discrediting of the idea of the collective farm movement.
It is not obvious that the authors of these distortions, who think they are “Lefts, ” are, in fact, bringing grist to the mill of Right opportunism?
2. One of the greatest merits of our Party’s political strategy is the fact that it is able at any given moment to pick out the main link in the movement, and by grasping this link to pull the whole chain towards one common goal and thus achieve the solution of the problem. Can we say that the Party has already chosen the main link of the collective-farm movement in the system of collective farm development? Yes, we can and should say that.
What is this main link?
Perhaps it is the association for the joint cultivation of the land? No, it is not. The associations for the joint cultivation of the land, in which the means of production are not yet socialized, represent an already superseded stage in the collective-farm movement.
Perhaps it is the agricultural commune? No, it is not the commune. The communes are still isolated phenomena in the collective-farm movement. The conditions are not yet ripe for making the agricultural communes, in which not only all production but distribution also is socialized, the predominant form.
The main link in the collective-farm movement, its predominant form at the present moment, the link which we must now grasp, is the agricultural artel.
In the agricultural artel the principal means of production, chiefly those used in grain growing, are socialized: labor, the use of the land, machines and other implements, draught animals, farm buildings. But in the artel, household land (small vegetable gardens, small orchards), dwellings, a certain part of the dairy cattle, small livestock, poultry, etc., are not socialized. The artel is the main link of the collective farm movement because it is the most expedient form for solving the grain problem. And the grain problem is the main link in the whole system of agriculture because, unless that problem is solved, it is impossible to solve either the problem of livestock raising (large and small livestock), or the problem of industrial and special crops which provide the basic raw materials for industry. That is why the agricultural artel is at the present moment the main link in the system of the collective-farm movement.
It is from this that the “Model Rules” for collective farms-the final text of which is being published today –proceeds.
It is from this, too, that our Party and Soviet functionaries should proceed; it is their duty to make a thorough study of these Rules and carry them out to the full.
This is the Party’s line at the present moment.
Can it be said that this line of the Party is being carried out without infractions and distortions? No, unfortunately, that cannot be said. We know that in a number of districts in the USSR, where the struggle for the existence of the collective farms is far from being at an end, and where the artels are not yet consolidated, attempts are being made to skip the artel form and to organize agricultural communes from the outset. The artel is not yet consolidated, but they are already “socializing” dwellings, small live-stock and poultry; and this sort of “socialization” degenerates into bureaucratic paper decrees, for the conditions which would make such socialization necessary do not yet exist. One might think that the grain problem has already been solved in the collective farms, that it is already a superseded stage, that the main task at the. present moment is not to solve the grain problem, but to solve the problem of livestock and poultry farming. The question arises: Who benefits by this blockhead “work” of lumping together the various forms of the collective-farm movement? Who benefits by this stupid and harmful precipitancy? Irritating the peasant collective farmer by “socializing” dwellings, all the dairy cattle, all the small livestock and the poultry when the grain problem is still unsolved, when the artel form of collective farming is not yet consolidated –is it not obvious that such a “policy” can please and benefit only our sworn enemies? One such overzealous “socializer” even went So far as to issue an order to an artel calling for “the registration within three days of every head of poultry in every household, ” for the appointment of special “commanders” to register and Supervise, “to take over the key position in the artel, ” “to be in command of the battle for Socialism, without quitting their posts,” and–of course–to hold the artel in a tight grip. What is this–a policy of leading the collective farm, or a policy of disintegrating and discrediting it? And what about those “revolutionaries”- -save the mark–who begin the work of organizing an artel by removing the church bells. Remove the church bells–how revolutionary indeed!
How could such blockhead exercises in “socialization. ” such ludicrous attempts to lift oneself by one’s own bootstraps–attempts aiming at getting away from classes and the class struggle, but which in practice bring grist to the mill of our class enemies –occur in our midst? They could occur only in the atmosphere of our “easy” and “unexpected” successes on the front of collective-farm development. They could occur only as a result of the blockhead frame of mind in the ranks of a section of our Party: “We can do anything!” “We can win hands down!” They could occur only as a result of the fact that certain of our comrades became dizzy with success, and for a moment lost the capacity of clear thinking and sober vision.
In order to straighten out the line of our work in the sphere of collective farm development we must put an end to this frame of mind.
This is now one of the immediate tasks of the Party.
The art of leadership is a serious matter. One must not lag behind the movement, because to do so is to become isolated from the masses. But neither must one rush ahead, for to rush ahead is to lose contact with the masses. He who wants to lead a movement and at the same time keep in touch with the vast masses must wage a fight on two fronts–against those who lag behind and against those who rush on ahead.
Our Party is strong and invincible because, while leading the movement, it knows how to maintain and multiply its contacts with the vast masses of the workers and peasants.
Source: I. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism (Moscow: Foreign Language Publishers, 1934), pp. 333-338.