Was Collectivization the Only Option to Bring Mechanized Farming to Russia?

Any student of history has learned in America that mechanized farming was mainly brought about through the Industrial Revolution and in the post-Civil War era of the American South.  Although not impacting 100% of farmers within our country, it certainly had established many of the roots of transitioning farming from hard manual labor to hard manual labor with the aid of machines in order to produce a higher crop yield well before the first World War.  Within the Russian Empire though, the roots behind feudal control were still in place while the rest of the world rushed into the industrialized community. While the First World War and the Revolutions in Russia did help promote a growth in industry and in fact the cause of the workers was what pushed the Soviet Union into creation in some way (as we have discussed in class) one group, the peasants, were left still in a system of the past, with tools of the past, in a nation trying to move into the future.  As I read about the First-Five-Year Plan, plenty of it seems horrifying and of extreme change for anyone living within the Soviet Union to deal with and adjust to, I can’t help but ponder what might actually have helped move Russia into proper competition in the world without the Collectivization of the land and creation of usage of mechanized farming in order to feed and populate the working cities to a big enough size that would later allow the Soviet Union to hold the title of a world superpower.


The Collective Farm at Work (1930) by Zakhar Pichurgin. While not a photo like we’ve had in even earlier Russian history posts, I think this shows the merging of the old style of farming with the new, the same class working the field, but under a new style of management and with new tools of production that there city counterparts help produce. In turn they help to feed those in the city and the cycle of an industrialized nation starts to begin.

Obviously this method of forced collectivization, and by no means was it accepted in full arms by the majority of the different ‘classes’ within the peasant community, as explained brilliantly in this section on the Seventeen Moments in Soviet History,  it brought about many changes that were necessary regardless of what government or economic model the Russians were following in order to bring them into the new century (or even just catch up from the past one).  However, like Revelations from the Russian Archives reveals, the goals set at many points of this plan were not only too high for the industrial production, but extremely high on the points expected from the agricultural community.  With these extreme goals came resistance mainly in the form of people trying to un-enroll in the system that in the end they would have no choice but to join.  These goals though would emphasize the use of certain machines into the everyday farm life and in that sense, through pain, famine, and fighting, the Soviet Union was able to create the breadbasket it so desperately needed in an Empire as vast as they held.


Seventeen Moments link: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=&SubjectID=1929collectivization&ArticleID=&Year=1929

Revelations from the Russian Archives link: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/coll.html

Picture link: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=images&SubjectID=1929collectivization&Year=1929&navi=byYear


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60 Responses to Was Collectivization the Only Option to Bring Mechanized Farming to Russia?

  1. Offering the comparative perspective for modernizing agriculture gives this post wonderful depth. And thank you so much for citing the Library of Congress’s “Revelations from the Russian Archives” exhibit (which still seems to be accessible, despite the shutdown – ha!) There are some wonderful resources there! I added it to the list on the main course blog.

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