Re-evaluating Stalin’s Peasant Policy in 1928–30

  • James Hughes
Part of the International Council for Central and East European Studies book series (ICCEES)


During the convoluted contingency of the year from mid-1928 to mid-1929 a Stalinist dynamic gained momentum in the Soviet Communist Party. It was a dynamic that drove policy towards an end goal of displacing the free peasantry, whose growth had been encouraged by NEP, and creating a captured peasantry. The idea was that a commandeered peasant economy would permit state accumulation of resources which could be directed towards developmental goals; namely, the realisation of Stalinist ideological aspirations for the construction of socialism through crash industrialisation. The decision taken in late 1929 to go over to a policy of speedy, comprehensive collectivisation (sploshnaya kollektivizatsiya) of agriculture, followed in January 1930 by the decision to dekulakise the countryside, were the culminating acts of this Stalinist fixation with imposing a captured status on the Russian peasantry and harnessing the peasant economy to the demands of state-led industrialisation. While there are diverse interpretations of the reasons for these decisions, there is agreement on one central premise: that Stalin’s transformational project of his self-declared ‘year of the great breakthrough’ (god veliki perelom) was shaped by a binary conflict between the state and peasantry, and that this dichotomous conflict was the fundamental political problem of the period.


Moral Economy Material Incentive Social Sanction Political Economy Approach Peasant Community 
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  1. 21.
    21. James Hughes, ‘Capturing the Russian Peasantry: Stalinist Grain Procurement Policy and the Ural-Siberian Method’, Slavic Review, 53, no.l (1994), pp.76–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 27.
    27. For a recent example see, G. Bordyugov, ‘The Policy and Régime of Extraordinary Measures in Russia Under Lenin and Stalin’, Europe-Asia Studies 47, no.4 (1995), pp.615–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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  • James Hughes

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