chapter  2
The case for village communism: from Herzen and Bakunin to Chayanov and Gandhi
Pages 42

This chapter reconsiders the case for communal, village-based development and answers the principal objections raised by the critics of 'populism'. My arguments draw upon Indian, Yugoslav, Polish, Taiwanese, South Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Danish, Irish and Tanzanian experience, but one must begin in pre-Stalinist Russia: nowhere else has village communism achieved such sway over the political culture of a great nation or enjoyed such favourable prospects. Indeed, village communism had a sounder basis in Russia's popular traditions, peasant aspirations, rural institutions and economic capabilities than did the large-scale, city-centred industrialization strategies forced upon it by regimes which could only proceed by wasteful and stultifying coercion and intimidation of a people whose technical backwardness, lack of capital, indiscipline, and dominant traditions and aspirations were fundamentally at odds with the treadmills imposed by successive harsh taskmasters.

Alexander Herzen (1812-70)