Collectivizing the Peasants
THE objective of Communist agricultural policy is collectivization. By collectivization, the Communists seek to destroy the independent peasants whom they regard as the last bastion of capitalism, to proletarianize the peasants, and to make them as dependent on the state as the factory workers in nationalized enterprises. They seek also to introduce industrial methods into agriculture, thereby releasing manpower for use in the factories and producing more food for the growing factory and other urban population.
Although only a minority of the people in Czechoslovakia lived on farms (19.4 per cent in the Czech lands and 45.9 per cent in Slovakia in 1947), and collectivization consequently lacked some of the decisive quality it had in predominantly agricultural eastern European countries, the Communists proceeded with collectivization in Czechoslovakia with their usual systematic ardor. In their view the old peasant class was implacably anti- Communist and hence, even though relatively small, constituted an ever- present danger to the regime. In the Communists' opinion the old forms of production in agriculture would, furthermore, not be able to meet the expanding production requirements of the five-year plan.
For Western observers the fact that the ratio of agricultural to industrial population in Czechoslovakia was similar to that prevailing in most Western countries lent a special significance to the way the Communists went about attaining their objectives in this country. Here, too, were represented all types of farming, from the most primitive to the most highly developed. In Slovakia subsistence farming predominated. The Slovak peasant was akin to his Balkan neighbors and even to the miserable Russian muzhik; ploughing was done with oxen, only occasionally aided by horses; for a peasant to own even a motorcycle was a rarity; electrification was in many regions confined to the big estates which had their own generators and might supply nearby villages. In Moravia the standard was a little higher. Here the peasants were, and still are, very proud of