A Stalin-revisionist school textbook views Collectivization
first posted y10125
Latest change y10125
Copyright © 2001 by Hugo S. Cunningham
I found the textbook
Yu.Yu. Izosimov and S.M. Melamed, Otechestvennaya Istoria v Kratkom Izlozhenii ("The Fatherland's History in a Short Exposition"), Moskva, "List," 1998; paper, 447 pp
on sale in a Minsk (Belarus) textbook store in October 2000. It is a summary designed as examination review for high school students of Russian history. Its pro-Soviet tenor would naturally be acceptable to the Soviet-nostalgic President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, as well as many anti-"reform" districts of Russia.
On pp. 315-317, Izosimov and Melamed discuss collectivization (1929-1933):
They report (and apparently accept as fact) the Party's stated belief from 1927 onward that Russia's free peasants were too backward to meet the food demand of a growing industrial economy, while centralized collectivization would increase food production.
To outside observers, these gains are fantasy. With a few exceptions, Soviet collective farms were astonishingly wasteful and inefficient by Western standards. The "dekulakization" (exile and/or killing) of the most productive peasants permanently lobotomized the Russian village, leaving it as a poverty-stricken sink of passivity.
They gave extensive coverage of the abortive Collectivization in 1929, repudiated as over-hasty by Stalin in his message "Dizzy with Success" (2 March 1930). They mention "excesses" in 1929-1930, without indicating what they were (apart from subjecting some Red-Army-veteran peasants to "de-kulakization," which was not defined).
The far worse losses of 1932-1933 are entirely covered in this opaque passage:
Copyright © 1998 by Yu.Yu. Izosimov, S.M. Melamed, "List-N'yu"
Lomka korennyx ustoev melkotovarnogo sel'skoxozyajstvennogo proizvodstva imela naryadu s polozhitel'nymi i negativnye storony, chto nashlo svoe otrazhenie vo vremennom snizhenii valovoj produkcii i tovarnosti zernovyx kul'tur i produktov zhivotnovodstva (rezkoe sokrashchenie pogolov'ya skota).
And that is all. One can read anything into these lines, from the horrid truth (millions of deaths), to the regrettable loss of a few hundreds or thousands. Izosimov and Melamed suggest their leaning toward the latter interpretation by immediately talking up the valuable achievements of collectivization:
Kollectivizacia proxodila v usloviyax ostroj klassovoj bor'by, boleznenno, pri ser'eznyx peregibax i oshibkax v tempax i metodax ee osuyshchestvleniya.
The uprooting of petty-trading agrarian production had, together with beneficial, some negative sides, which found their reflection in a lowering production value and profitability of grain culture and husbandry products (a sharp reduction in numbers of livestock).
Collectivization took place in conditions of sharp class warfare, infirmly, with serious deviations and mistakes in tempo and methods of its execution.
But overall, it [Collectivization] helped the further progress of the country:
It made it possible to introduce new methods of management (internal specialization, the brigade-form of organization of agricultural production, etc.)
It could assure the growth of labor productivity and increase in the quantity of production.
It opened opportunities for the creation of a reliable production fund for the state.
Nevertheless, there is little interest in Russia, and none in Belarus, in reversing Collectivization. Even many who recognize the weakness of collective farms doubt whether, given the corruption and weakness of post-Soviet Russia, "privatization" would necessarily be an improvement.
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