chapter  3
24 Pages

Bolshevik actions and peasants’ reactions, 1921–5 Face the village, face defeat

Social and political trends in the Russian countryside in the 1920s are usually seen in the context of what happened before and after NEP. It was a period between the two greatest upheavals in twentieth-century Russian history: the civil war and Stalin’s revolution from above. As I have argued elsewhere the real civil war was not between the Reds and the Whites but between the state and peasants, a period of requisition detachments, Green bands, and the burning of villages, taking of hostages, and deportations; a period of famine and devastation, a disaster of monumental proportions.1 In 1928 a new campaign of violence against the peasants commenced. Misnamed “collectivization,” it was a new war on peasantry, a new cycle of deportations and famine. Seen in the context of these upheavals, the NEP years were relatively good times. Peasants are assumed to have been content, if not happy with their situation.