I Become AP Chief in Moscow
AT MY EVERY MEETING WITH Rykov he had been cheerful and optimistic about the future. Even in his revealing talk about Stalin he had betrayed no sign of discouragement. But on my return from the Baruch-Krassin conference I found him in a mood verging on despair. Krassin's disappointing report, I soon learned, was but one of his worries. The farm crops of that summer had not come up to expectation. The grain reserves from the previous two good harvests were not large enough to meet current needs, particularly those of the army. The free markets in rural Russia had given the kulaks (well-off peasants) new opportunities to hoard and speculate. The government was therefore compelled to shelve many of its planned reforms. Far worse, in order to keep the army and the cities supplied with grain, the Moderates in the Politburo had been forced to yield to two of Stalin's demands: a fixed price on government-purchased grain, and the creation of a small militarized police. This police was to be used--for the present, at least--against the kulaks, who had lately actually threatened government buyers with organized resistance.
"In this situation," said the Premier, "Comrade Trotsky had put forth his demand for a much higher tax levy on the peasants--a tax aimed at a swift increase in our export of grain for