Effects of Collectivization on 20th-century Russia

Author: Viktor KONDRASHIN

Abstract. This article analyzes principal effects that the collectivization of agriculture by the Stalin leadership in the late 1920s and the 1930s had on Russia. Evidence is provided that collectivization was not an accidental choice but was organically connected to the policy of intensive industrialization. Industrial modernization of Russia was historically inevitable and necessary, and had been launched decades before by the tsarist government. The article examines suggested alternatives to Stalin's coercive collectivization and seeks to prove the unrealistic nature of the "Bukharin alternative." It goes into the reasons for the victory of the "top-down revolution," one of which was support for collectivization from numerous rural activists, mostly young peasants who saw collective farms and machine and tractor stations (MTSs) as sources of career opportunities. The performance of MTSs' political departments and collective farms during the Great Patriotic War is used to corroborate a thesis that the collective farm system was the most efficient wartime system of agriculture. The article also makes a brief exposition of the collective farm system's postwar history and draws the conclusion that its postwar crisis and its collapse between the late 1980s and early 1990s, the period the Soviet Union ceased to exist and new Russia was born, were logical developments.

Keywords: collectivization, industrialization, industrial modernization, "Bukharin alternative," Stalinism, agrarian policy, MTSs, political departments of MTSs, crisis of the collective farms system.

DOI: 10.31857/S013454860004087-3


Viktor Kondrashin, D. Sc. (History), professor, Penza State University; chief research fellow, Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences. E-mail: vikont37@yandex.ru. This article was first published in Russian in the journal Rossiyskaya istoriya, No. 4, 2018.

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The collectivization of agriculture was a key feature of Russia's 20th-century history. It drastically changed the country's agrarian system and the way of life of the bulk of the nation, and had huge impacts on the country-on what was happening in it during the Great Patriotic War ...

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