The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivization

The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivization

The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivization

The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivization

Synopsis

In this ground-breaking study Lynne Viola--the first Western scholar to gain access to the Soviet state archives on collectivization--brilliantly examines a lost chapter in the history of the Stalin revolution. Looking in detail at the backgrounds, motivations, and mentalities of the 25,000ers, Viola embarks on the first Western investigation of the everyday activities of Stalin's rank-and-file shock troops, the "leading cadres" of socialist construction. In the process, Viola sheds new light on how the state mobilized working-class support for collectivization and reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the 25,000ers went into the countryside as willing recruits. This unique social history uses an "on the scene" line of vision to offer a new understanding of the workings, times, and cadres of Stalin's revolution.

Excerpt

This is a study of the campaign of the 25,000ers (dvadtsatipiatitysiachniki). The 25,000ers were members of the "vanguard" of the Soviet industrial proletariat--skilled or highly skilled cadre workers, civil war veterans, shock workers, factory activists, Communist party members--who were recruited to participate in the collectivization of Soviet agriculture and to serve as the first cadre of collective farm chairmen in the newly organized collective farm system. The recruitment of the 25,000ers was the largest and most successful of the First Five-Year Plan mobilization campaigns and was conducted against the heady backdrop of the revolutionary-heroic atmosphere of Stalin's revolution from above. The 25,000ers entered the countryside in the midst of the frenzied drive to collectivize agriculture in late January and early February 1930. Their participation in collectivization and the initial organization of the collective farms was designed to serve as a breakthrough policy to enable the regime to implement the momentous transformation of agriculture and peasant life which took place at this time. The workers' primary purposes were to represent the interests of Moscow against a rural officialdom perceived to be incompetent, socially alien, and politically suspect (and, in so doing, to transform that officialdom by way of purge and recruitment of new cadres) . . .

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