STALIN and Collectivization

by Jill Snoddy

Stalin was a major contributor to the nationalist ideology
in Russia. While he ruled the Soviet Union, he had
various plans to further the Soviet state, and one
which met strong resistance was the idea
of collectivization.


Collectivization was conceived in the late 1920s to 1930s and started by liquidating the peasants as a class. These kulaks, as they were called, were rounded up and shipped to Siberia, where they worked to construct what would later be the infamous concentration camps. They lost all their belongings in the process and were forced into collective work groups, where anything they produced would be divided up among the whole population. Their land and livestock were taken from them, and were given to collective farms. These peasants who realized they would lose all their livestock saw to it that the Stalin government would not benefit from their loss.

Many peasants burned all of their cattle before they died, and in fact "in February and March 1930 some 14 million head of cattle were destroyed, along with a third of all the pigs in the nation and a quarter of its sheep and goats"(De Jonge, 237).


Along with this restructuring of the peasant class came a large famine in Russia. Because of these collective farms, there was no incentive to work hard. A hard working peasant was not rewarded any better than a lazy peasant who didn't produce his share of the crop. The government did not regulate the productivity of the farms very well, and in return many of the farms saw low progress and even lower productivity from the peasants. They simply did not care how much they produced, because they would go hungry no matter what.At the same time, Stalin was imposing more restrictions on the masses, and he began to limit the practice of religion. The winter, he declared that recognizing the Christmas season was illegal, and forbid the practice of religion in general.


 Propaganda was circulated telling the nation of the great prosperity and abundance of wealth the country was experiencing since the start of collectivization. Meanwhile, people on the streets became cynical and distrusting of the government because none of these articles seemed to relate to their own lives. Everyone was going hungry and their was not enough food and goods to go around, due to the lack of productivity. The inhabitants of the city were in support of this policy, largely due to the fact that there was not a shortage of food or clothing in the urban areas. But those who lived in the country experienced a different type of Stalin regime. The rural areas experienced such horrible starvation and shortages that many did not survive.


In 1929, almost fifty percent of the peasant population lived on collectivized farms, but 1930 saw many leave the collective land for private ownership again. Although membership to the collection was supposedly voluntary, those who chose to live privately were driven to land that was farthest from the village, and whose area was not fit to raise any goods. These individuals usually either starved or joined the collective farm. This was the start of implementing socialism in the Soviet Union. Stalin's plan of collectivization succeeded only in wiping out a majority of the peasant class in the Soviet Union in the 1930s.



 It was also responsible for the great famine in 1934 that made all Soviet's suffer, but most importantly the peasants. Stalin responded to the famine by increasing grain quotas to the collective farms, and any farm that could not meet these quotas were to receive no food for the period until they could meet the range. This was impossible for the peasants to do because there was simply not enough soil to produce on. The raised quotas did nothing because the peasants could not even meet the first quota.


Stalin's plan was a perfect example of how socialism fails on a realistic level. There is no incentive to work hard, and there is no reward for a job well done. The division of crops and land is unfair to those peasants whose land was taken from them in the beginning. Instead of taking the blame for his lapse of judgment in creating this policy, Stalin used scapegoats to take the blame and declared himself innocent of all charges.



  • De Jonge, Alex. Stalin and the Shaping of the Soviet Union. William Morrow and Company, Inc: New York, 1986.

  • Nove, Alec. The Stalin Phenomenon. St. Martin's Press: New York, 1992.