Stalin on the Liquidation of the Kulak

Iosif Stalin, Problems of Agrarian Policy in the USSR. December 27, 1929

 

Speech at a conference of Marxist students on the agrarian question.

… The so-called theory of the “equilibrium” between the sectors of our national economy is still current among Communists. This theory has, of course, nothing in common with Marxism. Nevertheless, this theory is advocated by a number of people in the camp of the Right deviators.

This theory is based on the assumption that to begin with we have a socialist sector-which is one compartment, as it were-and that in addition we also have a non-socialist or, if you like, capitalist sector-which is another compartment. These two “compartments” move on different rails and glide peacefully forward, without touching each other. Geometry teaches that parallel lines do not meet. But the authors of this remarkable theory believe that these parallel lines will meet eventually, and that when they do, we will have socialism. This theory overlooks the fact that behind these so-called “compartments” there are classes, and that these compartments move as a result of a fierce class struggle, a life-and-death struggle, a struggle on the principle of “who will win?”

It is not difficult to see that this theory has nothing in common with Leninism. It is not difficult to see that, objectively, the purpose of this theory is to defend the position of individual peasant farming, to arm the kulak elements with a “new” theoretical weapon in their struggle against the collective farms, and to destroy confidence in the collective farms…

… Can we advance our socialized industry at an accelerated rate as long as we have an agricultural base, such as is provided by small-peasant farming, which is incapable of expanded reproduction, and which, in addition, is the predominant force in our national economy? No, we cannot. Can Soviet power and the work of socialist construction rest for any length of time on two different foundations: on the most large-scale and concentrated socialist industry, and the most scattered and backward, small-commodity peasant farming? No, they cannot. Can Soviet power and the work of socialist construction rest for any length of time on two different foundations: on the most large-scale and concentrated socialist industry, and the most scattered and backward, small-commodity peasant farming? No, they cannot. Sooner or later this would be bound to end in the complete collapse of the whole national economy.

What, then, is the solution? The solution lies in enlarging the agricultural units, in making agriculture capable of accumulation, of expanded reproduction, and in thus transforming the agricultural bases of our national economy.

But how are the agricultural units to be enlarged?

There are two ways of doing this. There is the capitalist way, which is to enlarge the agricultural units by introducing capitalism in agriculture-away which leads to the impoverishment of the peasantry and to the development of capitalist enterprises in agriculture. We reject this way as incompatible with the Soviet economic system.

There is a second way: the socialist way, which is to introduce collective farms and state farms in agriculture, the way which leads to the amalgamation of the small-peasant farms into large collective farms, employing machinery and scientific methods of farming, and capable of developing further, for such agricultural enterprises can achieve expanded reproduction.

And so, the question stands as follows: either one way or the other either back -to capitalism, or forward-to socialism. There is no third way, nor can there be.

The “equilibrium” theory is an attempt to indicate a third way. And precisely because it is based on a third (nonexistent) way, it is utopian and anti-Marxian…

The characteristic feature in the work of our Party during the past year is that we, as a Party, as the Soviet power,

a) have developed an offensive along the whole front against the capitalist elements in the countryside;

b) that this offensive, as you know, has brought about and is bringing about very palpable, positive results.

What does this mean? It means that we have passed from the policy of restricting the exploiting proclivities of the kulaks to the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class. This means that we have made, and are still making, one of the decisive turns in our whole policy.

Until recently the Party adhered to the policy of restricting the exploiting proclivities of the kulaks…

… Could we have undertaken such an offensive against the kulaks five years or three years ago? Could we then have counted on success in such an offensive? No, we could not. That would have been the most dangerous adventurism. It would have been playing a very dangerous game at offensive. We would certainly have failed, and our failure would have strengthened the position of the kulaks. Why? Because we still lacked a wide network of state and collective farms in the rural districts which could be used as strongholds in a determined offensive against the kulaks. Because at that time we were not yet able to substitute for the capitalist production of the kulaks the socialist production of the collective farms and state farms…

… Now we are able to carry on a determined offensive against the kulaks, to break their resistance, to eliminate them as a class and substitute for their output the output of the collective farms and state farms. Now, the kulaks are being expropriated by the masses of poor and middle peasants themselves, by the masses who are putting solid collectivization into practice. Now, the expropriation of the kulaks in the regions of solid collectivization is no longer just an administrative measure. Now, the expropriation of the kulaks is an integral part of the formation and development of the collective farms. Consequently it is now ridiculous and foolish to discourse on the expropriation of the kulaks. You do not lament the loss of the hair of one who has been beheaded.

There is another question which seems no less ridiculous: whether the kulaks should be permitted to join the collective farms. Of course not, for they are sworn enemies of the collective-farm movement ….

Source: I. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism (Moscow: Foreign Language Publishers, 1934), pp. 391-93, 408-9, 411-12.

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