chapter  3
Soviet collectivization
Pages 26

The first case study examined is the drive to collectivize Soviet agriculture from the late 1920s to the middle of the 1930s. As part of the ‘great turn’ or ‘revolution from above’, collectivization marked the centrepiece of the regime’s effort to advance from its position of unchallenged political power and the commanding heights of the economy to reshape fundamentally the country’s economic base and social character, in line with Communist ideology, as modified by concrete historical experience in the revolution, civil war and subsequent period of relative liberalization. Not only was collectivization itself composed of many different aspects – forced grain requisitioning, the deportation of the kulaks, the establishment of the new collective farms, peasant resistance and the resulting famine – but it was also closely linked with the ‘cultural revolution’ among urban intellectuals and professionals,1 and the demands of the First Five-Year Plan in the factories. The transformations wrought in the period of collectivization marked the establishment of the Soviet Communist system, later entrenched and exported, which in ossified form was to persist in its essentials until the late 1980s.