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Foundation and Concerning Questions of Leninism 

Pravda, No. 92,
April 3, 1930

From J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism,

It is evident from the press that Stalin's article, "Dizzy with Success," and the well-known decision adopted by the Central Committee on "The Fight Against Distortions of the Party Line in the Collective-Farm Movement" have evoked numerous comments among practical workers in the collective-farm movement. In this connection, I have received lately a number of letters from collective-farm comrades asking for replies to questions raised in them. It was my duty to reply to these letters in private correspondence. But this proved impossible, because more than half the letters contained no indication of the addresses of their writers (they had forgotten to give them). Yet the questions touched upon in the letters are of immense political interest for all our comrades. Moreover, I could not, of course, leave unanswered those comrades who forgot to give their addresses. I am therefore obliged to reply to the letters of the collective-farm comrades publicly, that is, through the press, extracting from them all the questions requiring to be dealt with. I do this all the more readily as I have a direct decision of the Central Committee on this subject.

First question. What is the root of the errors in the peasant question?

Reply. A wrong approach to the middle peasant. Resort to coercion in economic relations with the middle peasant. Forgetfulness of the fact that the economic bond with the masses of the middle peasants must be built not on the basis of coercive measures, but on the basis of agreement with the middle peasant, of alliance with him. Forgetfulness of the fact that the basis of the collective-farm movement at the present moment is an alliance of the working class and poor peasantry with the middle peasant against capitalism in general, against the kulak in particular.

As long as the offensive against the kulak was waged in a united front with the middle peasant, all went well. But when some of our comrades became intoxicated with success and began imperceptibly to slip from the path of an offensive against the kulak on to the path of a struggle against the middle peasant, when, in pursuit of high collectivization percentages, they began to apply coercion to the middle peasant, depriving him of the suffrage, "dekulakizing" and expropriating him, the offensive began to assume a distorted form and the united front with the middle peasant to be undermined, and, naturally, the kulak obtained an opportunity of trying to rise to his feet again.

It has been forgotten that coercion, which is necessary and useful in the fight against our class enemies, is impermissible and disastrous when applied to the middle peasant, who is our ally.

It has been forgotten that cavalry charges, which are necessary and useful for accomplishing tasks of a military character, are unsuitable and disastrous for accomplishing the tasks of collective-farm development, which, moreover, is being organized in alliance with the middle peasant.

That is the root of the errors in the peasant question.

Here is what Lenin says about economic relations with the middle peasant:

"Most of all, we must take as our basis the truth that here, by the very nature of the case, nothing can be achieved by methods of coercion. Here the economic task is an entirely different one. Here there is not that top section which can be cut away, while leaving the whole foundation and the whole building intact. That top section, which in the town was represented by the capitalists, does not exist here. To apply coercion here would ruin the whole matter. . . . Nothing could be more stupid than the very idea of coercion in the sphere of the economic relations of the middle peasant." (Vol. XXIV, p. 168.)[1]


"The use of coercion against the middle peasantry would do very great harm. This stratum is a numerous one, many millions strong. Even in Europe -- where it nowhere attains to such strength, where technology and culture, urban life, railways, are immensely developed, and where it would be easiest of all to contemplate its use -- nobody, not a single one of the most revolutionary socialists, has ever proposed the use of coercive measures against the middle peasantry." (Vol. XXIV, p. 167.)[2] 
[1] Eighth Congress of the R.C.P. (B.), March 18-23, 1919. "6. Report on Work in the Countryside."
[2] Ibid.

That is clear, I think.

Second question. What are the chief errors in the collective farm movement?

Reply. There are, at least, three such errors.

1) In building collective farms, Lenin's voluntary principle has been violated. The basic directives of the Party and the

Model Rules of the Agricultural Artel about the voluntary character of collective-farm development have been violated.

Leninism teaches that the peasants must be brought to adopt collective farming voluntarily, by convincing them of the ad vantages of socially-conducted, collective farming over individual farming. Leninism teaches that the peasants can be convinced of the advantages of collective farming only if it is demonstrated and proved to them in actual fact and by experience that collective farming is better than individual farming, that it is more profitable than individual farming and that it offers both poor and middle peasants a way out of poverty and want. Leninism teaches that, without these conditions, collective farms cannot be stable. Leninism teaches that any attempt to impose collective farming by force, any attempt to establish collective farms by compulsion can only have adverse results, can only repel the peasants from the collective-farm movement.

And, indeed, as long as this basic rule was observed, the collective-farm movement registered success after success. But some of our comrades, intoxicated with success, began to neglect this rule, began to display excessive haste and, in their pursuit of high collectivization percentages, began to establish collective farms by means of compulsion. It is not surprising that the adverse results of such a "policy" soon showed themselves. The collective farms which had sprung up so rapidly began to melt away just as rapidly, and a section of the peasantry, who only yesterday had had the greatest confidence in the collective farms, began to turn away from them.

That is the first and chief error in the collective-farm movement.

Here is what Lenin says concerning the voluntary principle of building collective farms:

"Our task now is to pass to socially-conducted cultivation of the land to large-scale farming in common. But there can be no compulsion by the Soviet government; there is no law that makes it compulsory. The agri cultural commune is founded voluntarily, the passing to socially-conducted cultivation of the land can only be voluntary ; there cannot be the slightest compulsion by the workers' and peasants' government in this respect, nor does the law allow it. If any of you has observed such compulsion, you must know that it is an abuse, a violation of the law, which we are doing our utmost to correct, and shall correct." (Vol. XXIV, p. 43.)[1]


"Only if we succeed in practice in showing the peasants the advantages of common, collective, co-operative, artel cultivation of the soil, only if we succeed in helping the peasant by means of co-operative, artel farming, will the working class, which holds state power in its hands, actually prove to the peasant the correctness of its policy and actually attract to its side, genuinely and durably, the many-millioned masses of the peasantry. Hence the importance of every kind of measure to promote co-operative, artel agriculture can hardly be overestimated. We have millions of individual farms in our country, scattered and dispersed in the depths of the countryside. Only when it is proved in practice, by experience easily understood by the peasants, that the transition to the co-operative, artel form of agriculture is essential and possible, only then shall we be entitled to say that in this vast peasant country, Russia, an important step towards socialist agriculture has been taken."* (Vol. XXIV, pp. 579-80.)[2]

Lastly, one more passage from the works of Lenin:

"While encouraging co-operative associations of all kinds, and equally agricultural communes of middle peasants, the representatives of the Soviet government must not allow their formation to involve the slightest compul sion. Only such associations are valuable as are constituted by the peasants themselves on their free initiative, and the advantages of which have been verified by them in practice. Excessive baste in this matter is harmful, because it is only capable of strengthening the middle peasants' prejudice against innovations. Representatives of the Soviet government who take the liberty of resorting even to indirect, to say nothing of direct, compul sion with a view to uniting the peasants in communes must be called to the strictest account and removed from work in the countryside."[*] (Vol. XXIV, p. 174.)[1] [1] Session of the First Congress of Farm Labourers of Petrograd Gubernia, March 13, 1919. "2. Replies to Written Questions."

[2] "Speech Delivered at the First Congress of Agricultural Communes and Agricultural Artels, December 4, 1919."

That is clear, I think.

It scarcely needs proof that the Party will carry out these injunctions of Lenin's with the utmost stringency.

2) In building collective farms, Lenin's principle of taking into account the diversity of conditions in the various regions of the U.S.S.R. has been violated. It has been forgotten that in the U.S.S.R. there are the most diverse regions, with differing forms of economy and levels of culture. It has been forgotten that among them there are advanced regions, average regions and backward regions. It has been forgotten that rates of progress of the collective-farm movement and the methods of collective-farm development cannot be uniform in these far from uniform regions.

"It would be a mistake," Lenin says, "if we were simply to write stereotyped decrees for all parts of Russia, if the Bolshevik-Communists, Soviet officials in the Ukraine and the Don region, began extending them wholesale and without discrimination to other regions" . . . for "under no circumstances do we bind ourselves to a single stereotyped pattern, or decide once and for all that our experience, the experience of Central Russia, can be transplanted in its entirety to all the border regions." (Vol. XXIV, pp. 125-26.)[2] 

[1] Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.). "8. Resolution on the Attitude to the Middle Peasants."
[2] Ibid., "2. Report of the Central Committee."

Lenin further says:

"To stereotype Central Russia, the Ukraine and Siberia, to make them conform to a particular stereotyped pattern, would be the greatest folly." (Vol. XXVI, p. 243.)[1]

Lastly, Lenin makes it obligatory for the Caucasian Communists

"to understand the specific character of their position, of the position of their republics, as distinct from the position and conditions of the R.S.F.S.R. ; to understand the necessity of not copying our tactics, but of thoughtfully modifying them in accordance with the difference in he concrete condifions. " (Vol. XXVI, p. 191)[2]

That is clear, I think.

On the basis of these injunctions of Lenin, the Central Committee of our Party, in its decision on "The Rate of Collectivization" (see Pravda, January 6, 1930), divided the regions of the U.S.S.R., as regards the rate of collectivization, into three groups, of which the North Caucasus, the Middle Volga and the Lower Volga may in the main complete collectivization by the spring of 1931, other grain-growing regions (the Ukraine, the Central Black Earth region, Siberia, the Urals, Kazakhstan, etc.) by the spring of 1932, while the remaining regions may extend collectivization to the end of the five-year plan period, that is, until 1933. [1] Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.), March 8-16, 1921. "6. Report on the Substitution of a Tax in Kind for the Surplus-Grain Appropriation System."

[2] "To the Comrades Communists of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Daghestan, and the Mountaineer Republic, April 14, 1921."

But what actually happened? It turned out that some of our comrades, intoxicated by the first successes of the collective-farm movement, cheerfully forgot both Lenin's in junctions and the Central Committee's decision. The Moscow Region, in its feverish pursuit of inflated collectivization
figures, began to orientate its officials towards completing collectivization in the spring of 1930, although it had no less than three years at its disposal (to the end of 1932). The Central Black Earth region, not desiring to "lag behind the others," began to orientate its officials towards completing collectivization by the first half of 1930, although it had no less than two years at its disposal (to the end of 1931). And the Transcaucasians and Turkestanians, in their eagerness to "overtake and outstrip" the advanced regions, began to orientate themselves on completing collectivization "at the earliest," although they had fully four years at their disposal (to the end of 1933).

Naturally, with such a quick-fire "tempo" of collectivization, the areas less prepared for the collective-farm movement, in their eagerness to "outstrip" the better prepared areas, found themselves obliged to resort to strong administrative pressure, endeavouring to compensate the missing factors needed for a rapid rate of progress of the collective-farm movement by their own administrative ardour. The consequences are known. Everyone knows of the muddle which resulted in thcse areas, and which had to be straightened out by the interference of the Central Committee.

That is the second error in the collective-farm movement.

3) In building collective farms, Lenin's principle that it is impermissible to skip over an uncompleted form of movement was violated. Also violated was Lenin's principle of not running ahead of the development of the masses, of not decreeing the movement of the masses, of not becoming divorced from the masses, but of moving together with the masses and impelling them forward, bringing them to our slogans and helping them to convince themselves of the correctness of our slogans through their own experience.

"When the Petrograd proletariat and the soldiers of the Petrograd garrison took power," says Lenin, "they fully realized that our constructive work in the countryside would encounter great difficulties; that there it was necessary to proceed more gradually; that to attempt to introduce collective cultivation of the land by decrees, by legislation, would be the height of folly ; that an insignificant number of enlightened peasants might agree to this, but that the vast majority of the peasants had no such object in view. We, therefore, confined ourselves to what was absolutely essential in the interests of the development of the revolution: in no case to run ahead of the development of the masses, but to wait until, as a result of their own experience and their own struggle, a progressive movement grew up."* (Vol. XXIII, p. 252.)[1]

Proceeding from these injunctions of Lenin, the Central Committee, in its decision on "The Rate of Collectivization" (see Pravda, January 6, 1930), laid down that:

a) the chief form of the collective-farm movement at the present moment is the agricultural artel;

b) in view of this, it is necessary to draw up model rules for the agricultural artel, as the chief form of the collective-farm movement;

c) "decreeing" the collective-farm movement from above and "playing at collectivization" must not be allowed in our practical work.

That means that at the present time we must steer our course not towards the commune, but towards the agricultural artel, as the chief form of collective-farm development; that we must not allow skipping over the agricultural artel to the commune; that "decreeing" of collective farms and "playing at collective farms" must not be substituted for the mass movement of the peasants in favour of collective farms.

[1] Extraordinary Sixth All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers', Peasants', Cossacks' and Red Army Deputies, November 6-9, 1918. "1. Speech on the Anniversary of the Revolution."

That is clear, I think.

But what actually happened? It turned out that some of our comrades, intoxicated by the first successes of the collective-farm movement, cheerfully forgot both Lenin's injunctions and the C.C.'s decision. Instead of organizing a mass movement in favour of the agricultural artel, these comrades began to "transfer" the individual peasants straight to the rules of the commune. Instead of consolidating the artel form of the movement, they began compulsorily "socializing" small livestock, poultry, non-commercial dairy cattle and dwelling houses.

The results of this haste, which is impermissible for a Leninist, are now known to all. As a rule, of course, they failed to create stable communes. But, on the other hand, they lost control of a number of agricultural artels. True, "good" resolutions remained. But what is the use of them?

That is the third error in the collective-farm movement.

Third question. How could these errors have arisen, and how must the Party correct them?

Reply. They arose because of our rapid successes in the collective-farm movement. Success sometimes turns people's heads. It not infrequently gives rise to extreme vanity and conceit. That may very easily happen to representatives of a party which is in power, especially in the case of a party like ours, whose strength and prestige are almost immeasurable. Here, instances of Communist vainglory, which Lenin combated so vehemently, are quite possible. Here, belief in the omnipotence of decrees, resolutions and orders is quite possible. Here, there is a real danger of the Party's revolutionary measures being converted into empty bureaucratic decreeing by individual representatives of the Party in one corner or another of our boundless country. I have in mind not only local officials, but also individual regional officials, and even individual members of the Central Committee. "Communist vainglory," says Lenin, "means that a man, who is a member of the Communist Party, and has not yet been purged from it, imagines that he can solve all his problems by issuing Communist decrees." (Vol. XXVII, pp. 50-51.)[1]

That is the soil from which sprang the errors in the collective-farm movement, the distortions of the Party line in collective-farm development.

Wherein lies the danger of these errors and distortions, if they are persisted in, if they are not eliminated rapidly and completely?

The danger here lies in the fact that these errors lead us straight to the discrediting of the collective-farm movement, to dissension in our relations with the middle peasants, to the disorganization of the poor peasants, to confusion in our ranks, to the weakening of all our work of socialist construction, to the revival of the kulaks.

In short, these errors have a tendency to push us from the path of strengthening the alliance with the main mass of the peasantry, of strengthening the proletarian dictatorship, on to the path of a rupture with these masses, on to the path of undermining the proletarian dictatorship.

This danger was already in evidence in the latter half of February, at the time when a section of our comrades, dazzled by the earlier successes, went off at a gallop from the Leninist path. The Central Committee of the Party was alive to this danger and intervened without delay, instructing Stalin to issue a warning to the over-presumptuous comrades in a spe- [1] "The New Economic Policy and the Tasks of the Political Education Departments," October 1921.

cial article on the collective-farm movement. There are some who think that the article, "Dizzy with Success," was the result of Stalin's personal initiative. That, of course, is nonsense. It is not in order that personal initiative in a matter like this may be taken by anyone, whoever he might be, that we have a Central Committee. It was a reconnaissance-in-depth by the C.C. And when the depth and extent of the errors were ascertained, the C.C. lost no time in striking at these errors with all the strength of its authority, by publishing its well known decision of March 15, 1930.

It is with difficulty that people who in their frantic course are dashing headlong towards the abyss can be halted and turned back to the right path. But our C.C. is called the Central Committee of the Leninist party precisely because it is able to overcome difficulties even greater than these. And, in the main, it has already overcome these difficulties.

It is difficult in cases like this for whole detachments of the Party to stop in their course, to turn back in time to the right path and to re-form their ranks on the march. But our Party is called Lenin's party precisely because it is sufficiently flexible to overcome such difficulties. And, in the main, it has already overcome these difficulties.

The chief thing here is to have the courage to acknowledge one's errors and the moral strength to eliminate them as quickly as possible. Fear of acknowledging one's errors after being intoxicated by recent successes, fear of self-criticism, reluctance to correct one's errors rapidly and resolutely -- that is the chief difficulty. One has only to overcome this difficulty, one has only to cast aside inflated numerical targets and bureaucratic maximalism, one has only to transfer one's attention to the tasks of building the collective farms organizationally and economically, and not a trace of the errors will remain. There is no reason to doubt that, in the main, the Party has already overcome this dangerous difficulty.

"All revolutionary parties which have hitherto perished," Lenin says, "did so because they grew conceited, failed to see where their strength lay and feared to speak of their weaknesses. But we shall not perish, for we do not fear to speak of our weaknesses and shall learn to overcome them." (Vol. XXVII, pp. 260-61.)[1]

These words of Lenin must not be forgotten.

Fourth question. Is not the fight against distortions of the Party line a step backward, a retreat?

Reply. Of course not! This can be said to be a retreat only by people who consider persistence in errors and distortions an advance, and the fight against errors, a retreat. Advancing by piling up errors and distortions! -- a fine "advance," there's no gainsaying. . . .

We have put forward the agricultural artel as the principal form of the collective-farm movement at the present moment and have provided appropriate model rules to serve as a guide in the work of collective-farm development. Are we retreating from that? Of course not!

We have put forward consolidation of the production bond of the working class and the poor peasants with the middle peasants as the basis of the collective-farm movement at the present moment. Are we retreating from that? Of course not!

We have put forward the slogan of eliminating the kulaks as a class as the chief slogan of our practical work in the countryside at the present moment. Are we retreating from that? Of course not!
[1] Eleventh Congress of the R.C.P.(B.), March 27-April 2, 1922. "3. Closing Speech on the Political Report of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.)."

Already in January 1930 we adopted a definite rate of collectivization of agriculture in the U.S.S.R., dividing the regions of the U.S.S.R. into a number of groups, and fixing its own special rate for each group. Are we retreating from that? Of course not!

How, then, can it be said that the Party is "retreating"?

We want people who have committed errors and distortions to retreat from their errors. We want blockheads to retreat from their blockheadedness to the position of Leninism. We want this, because only then will it be possible to continue the real offensive against our class enemies. Does this mean that we are taking a step backwards? Of course not! It only means that we want to carry out a proper offensive, and not blockheaded playing at an offensive.

Is it not obvious that only cranks and "Left" distorters can consider this stand of the Party a retreat?

People who talk about a retreat fail to understand at least two things.

a) They do not know the laws of an offensive. They do not understand that an offensive without consolidating captured positions is an offensive that is doomed to failure.

When may an offensive -- in the military sphere, say -- be successful? When you do not confine yourself to advancing headlong, but endeavour at the same time to consolidate the positions captured, regroup your forces in conformity with changing conditions, move up the rear services, and bring up the reserves. Why is all this necessary? In order to guarantee yourself against surprises, to liquidate any break-throughs, against which no offensive is guaranteed, and thus pave the way for the complete rout of the enemy. The mistake made by the Polish army in 1920, if we consider only the military side of the matter, was that it ignored this rule. That, incidentally, explains why, after having dashed headlong to Kiev it was then forced to make just as headlong a retreat to Warsaw. The mistake made by the Soviet army in 1920, if again we consider only the military side of the matter, was that it duplicated the mistake of the Poles in its advance on Warsaw.

The same must be said about the laws of an offensive on the front of the class struggle. It is impossible to conduct a successful offensive with the object of annihilating the class enemies, without consolidating captured positions, without regrouping forces, without providing reserves for the front, without moving up rear services, and so on.

The whole point is that the blockheads do not understand the laws of an offensive. The whole point is that the Party does understand them and puts them into effect.

b) They do not understand the class nature of the offensive. They shout about an offensive. But an offensive against which class, and in alliance with which class? We are conducting an offensive against the capitalist elements in the countryside in alliance with the middle peasant, because only such an offensive can bring us victory. But what is to be done if, owing to the misguided ardour of individual sections of the Party, the offensive begins to slide from the proper path and its sharp edge is turned against our ally, the middle peasant? Is it just any kind of an offensive that we need, and not an offensive against a definite class, and in alliance with a definite class? Don Quixote also imagined he was conducting an offensive against his enemies when he attacked a windmill. But we know that he got his head broken in this offensive, if one can call it that.

Apparently, our "Left" distorters are envious of the laurels of Don Quixote.

Fifth question. Which is our chief danger, the Right or the "Left"?

Reply. Our chief danger at the present time is the Right danger. The Right danger has been, and still is, the chief danger.

Does not this thesis contradict that in the Central Committee's decision of March 15, 1930, to the effect that the errors and distortions of the "Left" distorters are now the chief hindrance to the collective-farm movement? No, it does not. The fact of the matter is that the errors of the "Left" distorters in regard to the collective-farm movement are such as create a favourable situation for the strengthening and consolidation of the Right deviation in the Party. Why? Because these errors present the Party's line in a false light -- consequently, they make it easier to discredit the Party, and therefore they facilitate the struggle of the Right elements against the Party's leadership. Discrediting the Party leadership is just that elementary ground on which alone the struggle of the Right deviators against the Party can be waged. This ground is provided for the Right deviators by the "Left" distorters, by their errors and distortions. Therefore, if we are to fight successfully against Right opportunism, we must overcome the errors of the "Left" opportunists. Objectively, the "Left" distorters are allies of the Right deviators.

Such is the peculiar connection bctween "Left" opportunism and Right deviationism.

It is this connection that explains the fact that some of the "Lefts" so often suggest a bloc with the Rights. This, too, explains the peculiar phenomenon that a section of the "Lefts," who only yesterday were "executing" a dashing offensive and trying to collectivize the U.S.S.R. in a matter of two or three weeks, are today lapsing into passivity, losing heart and effectively surrendering the field to the Right deviators, thus pursuing a line of real retreat (without quotation marks!) in face of the kulaks.

The specific feature of the present moment is that a fight against the errors of the "Left" distorters is a pre-condition for a successful fight against Right opportunism and a distinctive form of this fight.

Sixth question. How is the exodus of a section of the peasants from the collective farms to be assessed?

Reply. The exodus of a section of the peasants signifies that of late a certain number of unsound collective farms were formed which are now being cleansed of their unstable elements. That means that sham collective farms will disappear while the sound ones will remain and grow stronger. I consider this a perfectly normal thing. Some comrades are driven to despair by it, give way to panic, and convulsively clutch at inflated collectivization percentages. Others gloat over it and prophesy the "collapse" of the collective-farm movement. Both are cruelly mistaken. Both are far removed from a Marxist understanding of the nature of the collective-farm movement.

Primarily, it is so-called dead souls that are withdrawing from the collective farms. It is not even a withdrawal but rather the revelation of a vacuum. Do we need dead souls? Of course not. I think that the North Caucasians and the Ukrainians are acting quite rightly in dissolving collective farms with dead souls and in organizing really live and really stable collective farms. The collective-farm movement will only benefit from this.

Secondly, it is alien elements, which are definitely hostile to our cause, that are withdrawing. It it obvious that the sooner such elements are ejected, the better it will be for the collective-farm movement.

Lastly, it is vacillating elements, which cannot be called either alien elements or dead souls, that are withdrawing. These are peasants whom today we have not yet succeeded in convincing of the rightness of our cause, but whom we shall certainly convince tomorrow. The withdrawal of such peasants is a serious, although temporary, loss to the collective-farm movement. Consequently, one of the most urgent tasks of the collective-farm movement now is to fight for the vacillating elements in the collective farms.

It follows that the exodus of a section of the peasants from the collective farms is not entirely a bad thing. It follows that, inasmuch as this exodus relieves the collective farms of dead souls and definitely alien elements, it is the sign of a beneficent process making the collective farms healthier and stronger.

A month ago it was estimated that collectivization in the grain-growing regions amounted to over 60 per cent. It is now clear that, as regards genuine and more or less stable collective farms, that figure was definitely exaggerated. If, after the exodus of a section of the peasants, the collective-farm movement is consolidated at 40 per cent collectivization in the grain-growing regions -- and that is certainly feasible -- it will be a very great achievement for the collective-farm movement at the present moment. I take an average figure for the grain-growing regions, although I am well aware that we have individual areas of complete collectivization where the figure is 80-90 per cent. Forty per cent collectivization in the grain growing regions means that by the spring of 1930 we shall have succeeded in fulfilling the original five-year plan of collectivization twice over.

Who will venture to deny the decisive character of this historic achievement in the socialist development of the U.S.S.R.?

Seventh question. Are the vacillating peasants acting rightly in withdrawing from the collective farms?

Reply. No, they are acting wrongly. In withdrawing from the collective farms they are going against their own interests, for only the collective farms offer the peasants a way out of poverty and ignorance. In withdrawing from the collective farms, they make their position worse, because they deprive themselves of those privileges and advantages which the Soviet government accords the collective farms. Errors and distortions in the collective farms are no reason for withdrawing from them. Errors must be corrected by joint effort, while remaining in the collective farms. They can be corrected the more easily as the Soviet government will fight them with might and main.

Lenin says:

"The small-farming system under commodity production cannot save mankind from the poverty and oppression of the masses." (Vol. XX, p. 122.)[1]

Lenin says:

"Small-scale farming provides no escape from poverty." (Vol. XXIV, p. 540.)[2]

Lenin says: [1] "The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution," April 1917.
[2] "Speech Delivered at the First All-Russian Conference on Party Work in the Countryside, November 18, 1919."

"If we continue as of old on our small farms, even as free citizens on free land, we shail still be faced with inevitable ruin." (Vol. XX, p. 417.)[1]

Lenin says:

"Only with the help of common, artel, co-operative labour can we escape from the impasse into which the imperialist war has landed us." (Vol. XXIV, p. 537)[2]

Lenin says:

"We must pass to common cultivation in large model farms," for "otherwise there will be no escaping from the dislocation, from the truly desperate situation in which Russia finds itself." (Vol. XX, p. 418.)[3]

What does all that signify?

It signifies that collective farms are the sole means that offer the peasants a way out of poverty and ignorance.

Clearly, peasants who withdraw from the collective farms are acting wrongly.

Lenin says:

"You all know, of course, from all the activity of the Soviet govern ment what immense importance we attach to communes, artels and all or ganizations generally which aim at the transformation, at gradually assisting this transformation, of small, individual peasant farming into socially conducted, co-operative or artel farming."* (Vol. XXIV, p. 579)[4]

[1] First All-Russian Congress of Peasants' Deputies, May 17-June 10, 1917. "2. Speech on the Agrarian Question."
[2] "Speech Delivered at the First All-Russian Conference on Party Work in the Countryside."
[3] First All-Russian Congress of Peasants' Deputies, May 17-June 10, 1917. "2. Speech on the Agrarian Question."
[4] "Speech Delivered at the First Congress of Agricultural Communes and Agricultural Artels."

"The Soviet government gave direct preference to communes and co-operatives by putting them in the forefront. "(Vol. XXIII. p, 399.)[1] [1] "The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky," October-November 1918.

Lenin says:

What does that mean?

It means that the Soviet government will accord privileges and preferences to the collective farms as compared with the individual farms. It means that it will accord privileges to the collective farms as regards provision of land, as regards supply of machines, tractors, seed grain, etc., as regards tax relief, and as regards provision of credits.

Why does the Soviet government accord privileges and preferences to the collective farms?

Because the collective farms are the only means by which the peasants can rid themselves of poverty.

Because preferential assistance to the collective farms is the most effective form of assistance to the poor and middle peasants.

A few days ago the Soviet government decided to exempt from taxation for two years all socially-owned draught animals in the collective farms (horses, oxen, etc.), and all cows, pigs, sheep and poultry, both those collectively owned by the collective farms and those individually owned by the collective farmers.

The Soviet government has decided, in addition, to postpone to the end of the year repayment of arrears on credits granted to collective farmers and to cancel all fines and court penalties levied prior to April 1 on peasants who have joined collective farms.

It has decided, lastly, to carry out without fail the granting of credits to collective farms in the present year to the amount of 500 million rubles.

These privileges will aid the collective-farm peasants. They will aid those collective-farm peasants who have stood firm against the exodus, who have become steeled in the fight against the enemies of the collective farms, who have defended the collective farms and have held aloft the great banner of the collective-farm movement. They will aid the poor- and middle-peasant collective farmers, who now constitute the main core of our collective farms, who will strengthen and give shape to our collective farms, and who will win millions upon millions of peasants for socialism. They will aid those collective-farm peasants who now constitute the principal cadres of the collective farms, and who fully deserve to be called heroes of the collective-farm movement.

These privileges the peasants who have left the collective farms will not receiue.

Is it not clear that peasants who withdraw from the collective farms are making a mistake?

Is it not clear that only by returning to the collective farms can they ensure receiving these privileges?

Eighth question. What is to be done with the communes? Should they not be dissolved?

Reply. No, they should not be dissolved and there is no reason for doing so. I am referring to real communes, not those existing on paper. In the grain-growing regions of the U.S.S.R. there are a number of splendid communes which deserve to be encouraged and supported. I have in mind the old communes which have withstood years of ordeal, which have become steeled in the struggle and have fully justified their existence. They should not be dissolved, but should be converted into artels.

The formation and management of communes is a complicated and difficult matter. Large and stable communes can exist and develop only if they have experienced cadres and tried and tested leaders. A hasty replacement of the rules of the artel by the rules of the commune can only repel the peasants from the collective-farm movement. Hence this matter must be approached with the utmost care and without any sort of haste. The artel is a simpler affair and more easily understood by the broad masses of the peasants. That is why at the present time the artel is the most widespread form of the collective-farm movement. Only as the agricultural artels become stronger and more firmly established can the basis be created for a mass movement of the peasants towards communes. But that will not be soon. Hence the commune, which constitutes a higher form, can become the chief link in the collective-farm movement only in the future.

Ninth question. What is to be done with the kulaks?

Reply. So far we have spoken of the middle peasant. The middle peasant is an ally of the working class, and our policy towards him must be a friendly one. As for the kulak, that is another matter. The kulak is an enemy of the Soviet regime. There is not and cannot be peace between him and us. Our policy towards the kulaks is to eliminate them as a class. That does not mean, of course, that we can eliminate them at one stroke. But it does mean that we shall work to surround them and to eliminate them.

Here is what Lenin says about the kulaks:

"The kulaks are most bestial, brutal and savage exploiters, who in the history of other countries have time and again restored the power of the landlords, tsars, priests and capitalists. The kulaks are more numerous than the landlords and capitalists. Nevertheless, the kulaks are a minority of the people. . . . These blood-suckers have grown rich on the want suffered by the people during the war; they have raked in thousands and hundreds of thousands of rubles by raising the prices of grain and other products. These spiders have grown fat at the expense of the peasants who have been ruined by the war, and at the expense of the hungry workers. These leeches have sucked the blood of the toilers and have grown the richer, the more the workers in the cities and factories have suffered hunger. These vampires have been gathering and are gathering the landed estates into their hands; they keep on enslaving the poor peasants." (Vol. XXIII, pp. 206-07.)[1]

We tolerated these blood-suckers, spiders and vampires, while pursuing a policy of restricting their exploiting tendencies. We tolerated them, because we had nothing with which to replace kulak farming, kulak production. Now we are in a position to replace, and more than replace, their farming by our collective farms and state farms. There is no reason to tolerate these spiders and blood-suckers any longer. To tolerate any longer these spiders and blood-suckers, who set fire to collective farms, murder persons active in the collective farms and try to disrupt crop-sowing, would be going against the interests of the workers and peasants.

Hence the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class must be pursued with all the persistence and consistency of which Bolsheviks are capable.

Tenth question. What is the immediate practical task of the collective farms?

Reply. The immediate practical task of the collective farms lies in the fight for crop-sowing, for the maximum enlargement of crop areas, for proper organization of crop-sowing.

All other tasks of the collective farms must now be adapted to the task of sowing the crops.

All other work in the collective farms must be subordinated to the work of organizing the sowing of the crops. [1] "Comrade Workers, Forward to the Last, Decisive Fight!", August 1918.

That means that the stamina of the collective farms and of their non-Party activists, the ability of the leaders and Bolshevik core of the collective farms will be tested not by resounding resolutions and high-flown greetings, but by practical performance in properly organizing the crop-sowing.

But to fulfil this practical task with honour, the attention of collective-farm officials must be turned to the economic questions of collective-farm development, to the questions of the internaldevelopment of the collective farms.

Until recently, the attention of collective-farm officials was focused on the chase for high collectivization figures; moreover, people refused to see the difference between real collectivization and collectivization on paper. This infatuation for figures must now be discarded. The attention of the officials must now be concentrated on consolidating the collective farms, on giving them organizational shape, on organizing their practical work.

Until recently, the attention of collective-farm officials was concentrated on organizing large collective-farm units, so called "giants," which not infrequently degenerated into cumbrous bureaucratic headquarters, devoid of economic roots in the villages. Consequently, real work was swamped by window-dressing. This infatuation for display must now be discarded. The attention of officials must now be concentrated on the organizational and economic work of the collective farms in the villages. When this work achieves proper success, "giants" will make their appearance of themselves.

Until recently, little attention was paid to drawing middle peasants into the work of managing the collective farms. Yet there are some remarkably fine farmers among the middle peasants, who could become excellent collective-farm executives. This defect in our work must now be eliminated. The task now is to draw the finest elements among the middle peasants into the work of managing the collective farms and to give them the opportunity to develop their abilities in this sphere.

Until recently, insufficient attention was paid to work among peasant women. The past period has shown that work among peasant women is the weakest part of our work. This defect must now be eliminated resolutely, once and for all.

Until recently, the Communists in a number of areas assumed that they could solve all the problems of collective-farm development by their own efforts. Because of this assumption, they did not pay sufficient attention to drawing non-Party people into responsible work in the collective farms, to promoting non-Party people to managerial work in the collective farms, to organizing a large group of non-Party activists in the collective farms. The history of our Party has proved, and the past period in collective-farm development has once more demonstrated, that this line is radically wrong. If Communists were to shut themselves up in their shells and wall themselves off from non-Party people, they would ruin the entire work. If the Communists have succeeded in covering themselves with glory in the battles for socialism, while the enemies of communism have been beaten, it is due, among other things, to the fact that the Communists knew how to enlist the co-operation of the finest elements among the non-Party people, that they knew how to draw forces from the broad non-Party strata, how to surround their Party with large numbers of non-Party activists. This defect in our work among the non-Party people must now be eliminated resolutely, once and for all.

Correcting these defects in our work, eliminating them completely, means precisely putting the economic work of the collective farms on sound lines.

And so:

1) Proper organization of the crop-sowing -- that is the task.

2) Concentration of attention on the economic questions of the collective-farm movement -- that is the means necessary for accomplishing this task.
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