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The Question of Social Support for Collectivization

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image of Russian History

There was support for the Soviet project in the Russian village (as well as opposition to it) in the 1920s. But then came collectivization, and all internal support apparently vanished – at any rate, it finds no reflection either in the historiography or in recently-published archival documents. This essay argues that support for collectivization did indeed exist in the Russian at the end of the 1920s, but that much of that support had a built-in self-liquidating mechanism once collectivization and rapid industrialization were pursued simultaneously. Peasants of “Soviet” inclinations, especially the young and the so-called bedniaks, tended to approve of the kolkhoz, but at the same time to be strongly attracted to the towns, where opportunities for work and education were opening up on an unprecedented scale. Thus, it was exactly those peasants who were most favorable to the kolkhoz who were the most likely to leave the village for the town during the period of collectivization and the First Five-Year Plan.


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