Communism in Czechoslovakia, 1948-1960

By Edward Taborsky | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XVI
THE AGRICULTURAL DEMISE

AGRICULTURE has been the soft underbelly of the communist economy, and the individual peasant one of its leading villains. Both Marx and Lenin considered the peasant to be too backward to grasp the meaning of their doctrine. Neither had room for the individual farmer in the social fabric of the communist utopia. As Lenin frankly admitted, whatever concessions he made to the peasantry were only temporary expedients dictated by tactical postulates of the revolution. As soon as his successor Joseph Stalin felt strong enough in the saddle, he rode roughshod over the peasantry and forced them into kolkhozes. And in his last ideological pronouncement, The Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, the Soviet Dictator openly proclaimed his intention of liquidating eventually even the collective farmers by transforming them into full-fledged agricultural workers.1

Although the post-Stalin New Course with its gestures of leniency addressed particularly to agriculture granted the peasants a welcome respite, the emergence of Nikita Khrushchëv as the number-one Communist of the Soviet Union augured nothing good in that respect. It was Khrushchëv who, in the early fifties, had advocated merging collective farms into agrogorods, agricultural cities, thus transforming collective farmers into hired laborers and depriving them of their last remnant of personal landholding, their small individual household plots. That the new Soviet ruler has by no means abandoned the idea has been reaffirmed in his official report to the Twenty-first Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in January 1959. Among the changes to be effected in the course of the transition from socialism to communism he listed an eventual fusion of the "collective, cooperative, and state forms of ownership" into "a single communist ownership," thereby solving "the deep problem of overcoming the difference between the town and the country."2 Since Khrushchëv's ideological precepts are considered by the communist rulers of Czecho

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1
English text in Leo Gruliow, Current Soviet Policies, New York, 1953, pp. 18ff.
2
Pravda ( Moscow), January 28, 1959.

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