- Capitalism and Alternatives -

‘Lenin & Co.’

Posted by: Stoller on October 04, 1999 at 11:09:07:

In Reply to: Soviet Gardening Tips posted by Quincunx on October 03, 1999 at 19:43:55:

: What I find interesting is that in his book, he basically states that most Russian farming communities were communal anyways and that what Lenin and Co. were doing was basically forcing a management theory down the throats of the peasants (i.e., forced collectivization). I recommend reading it.

I shall take your advice under strong consideration.

There was primitive communism in Russia when the Bolsheviks came to power. That was very different from the post-capitalist mega-productivity communism envisioned by Marxists, however. At the same time, there were also many, many independent peasants with extremely small holdings who proudly starved from year to year.

The Bolsheviks' plan was to 'seduce' the peasants with farm technology and consumer goods affordably produced by the urban proletariat as well as by state subsidies enacted through state farms, which were to promote industrialized agriculture through example. As Bukharin & Preobrazhensky explicitly stated: '[W]hile striving to effect the socialist transformation of agriculture, we must be careful to avoid alienating the middle peasants by ill-considered and premature measures, and must make no attempt to coerce them into forming communes and artels.'(1) I feel it is important to mention that the policies of 'Lenin and Co.'did not in any way involve---or countenance---'forced collectivization.' Indeed, when some isolated incidents of force occurred, Lenin made a point to outlaw such measures.(2)


1. Bukharin & Preobrazhensky, The ABC of Communism [1919], University of Michigan Press, 1966, p. 318.
2. 'It has frequently happened that the communes [state farms] have only succeeded in provoking a negative attitude among the peasantry, and the word "commune" has even at times become a call to fight communism. And this happened not only when stupid attempts were made to drive the peasants into the communes by force. The absurdity of this was so obvious that the Soviet government long ago forbade it. And I hope if isolated examples of such coercion are to be met with now, they are very few, and that you will take advantage of the present congress to see to it that the last trace of this outrage is swept from the face of the Soviet Republic, and that the neighboring peasant population may not be able to point to a single instance in support of the old opinion that membership in a commune is in one way associated with coercion.' Lenin, 'Speech Delivered at the First Congress of Agricultural Communes and Agricultural Artels' [1919], Selected Works, vol. 3, International, 1975, p. 252.

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