A New, Peculiar State: Explorations in Soviet History, 1917-1937

By Andrea Graziosi | Go to book overview

2
State and Peasants in the Reports of the Political Police, 1918-1922

For Franco Venturi

These pages will try to discuss the questions raised by the reports (svodki) of the political police ( VChK up to March 1922, GPU and then OGPU after that date) on the countryside from three angles, the first two thematic and the third at the same time thematic and chronological. 1 These angles are the Bolshevik process of state (re)building, which took a decisive turn in the spring of 1918 after the signing of the Brest Litovsk treaty; the evolution of the countryside and its reactions to the initiatives of the state; and the 1920-1922 knot, formed by requisition, drought, the launching of the NEP, and famine, on which the police reports open many new perspectives.

Before entering into the discussion of such complex and interesting phenomena, the reader must however be fully aware of the special biases and problems deriving from these kinds of sources. First, it is important to keep in mind that we shall be discussing incomplete documents. Already in 1919 the twenty- to forty-typed-page reports of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission's (VChK) secret department (Sekretotdel) included several sections. These were devoted to the moods (nastroenie) and the behaviors of the population in various localities, to the activities of political parties and of the clergy, to the dimension and dynamics of military desertion, to banditry, and so on. In June

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A New, Peculiar State: Explorations in Soviet History, 1917-1937
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page III
  • Copyright Acknowledgments V
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xiii
  • Abbreviations xv
  • 1 - G. L. Piatakov: A Mirror of Soviet History 1
  • Notes 58
  • 2 - State and Peasants in the Reports of the Political Police, 1918-1922 65
  • Notes 108
  • 3 - At the Roots of Soviet Industrial Relations and Practices: Piatakov's Donbass in 1921 119
  • CONCLUSIONS 165
  • Notes 169
  • 4 - Stalin's Antiworker Workerism": 1924-1931" 179
  • Notes 214
  • 5-- Visitors from Other Times: Foreign Workers in the Prewar Five-Year Plans 223
  • Notes 256
  • Index of Names 267
  • About the Author 273
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