Russia, 2nd Edition (Nations in Transition) by Michael Kort

By Michael Kort

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By Michael Kort

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Extra resources for Russia, 2nd Edition (Nations in Transition)

Sample text

The reality was much different. The collectives were tightly controlled by the Communist Party. Many peasants understandably wanted to keep their own farms and bitterly resisted collectivization. When faced with opposition, the Soviet government did not hesitate to use brutal armed force to compel collectivization. The following eyewitness account of what took place in one region of the country could have come from many other places as well: In 1930 . . thousands of peasants armed with hunting rifles, axes, and pitchforks revolted against the regime.

Stalin’s successors were determined that never again could one man become as powerful as the dictator they had all served and feared. They knew that Stalin’s terroristic policies, which had left them as vulnerable to sudden arrest as any Soviet citizen, had to be ended. The party leaders also realized that it was vital to raise the miserably low Soviet standard of living, which made a mockery out of Marxist promises of a life of abundance under socialism and potentially threatened their rule. Beyond those general principles, however, there was little consensus and often bitter disagreement.

Roads and storage facilities, essential for getting food from the fields to market, were never built. The peasants, whom many compared to the serfs of the czarist period, only managed to survive by raising fruits, vegetables, and small farm animals on tiny private plots of land they were allowed to keep for their own use. Food production actually decreased in the years immediately after collectivization and remained pitifully low during the Stalin years. The Soviet Union became and remained a country unable to provide its people with an adequate diet, until it collapsed in 1991.

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