Socialist Transformation of Agriculture

Socialist Transformation of Agriculture


the formation of socialist production relations in the countryside, a key element in the building of socialism. The socialist transformation of agriculture assumes, on the one hand, the establishment of large state agricultural enterprises and, on the other, the gradual consolidation of small individual peasant farms into large collective socialist farms. It is one of the general lawlike regularities of the period of transition from capitalism to socialism and is objectively conditioned by the specific features of the socioeconomic and class structure of agriculture.

The socialist transformation of agriculture consists, in essence, of the establishment of public ownership of the means of production in this sector of the economy. Its specific character, ways, forms, methods, and tempos depend on the character and level of development of a country’s agriculture and the disposition of class forces in the countryside prior to the victory of the socialist revolution. In those countries where agriculture is dominated by large-scale capitalist production based on hired labor and where there is virtually no peasantry, the transition to socialist production relations in this sector can be made through nationalization. Where small-scale, fragmented backward peasant production prevails and, with it, the varied and diverse social relations typical of such production under capitalism, the socialization of peasant means of production is carried out on principles fundamentally different from those used in the socialization of bourgeois ownership.

V. I. Lenin’s program for the socialist transformation of agriculture in Russia can generally be applied to the transition period in other countries as well. Its starting point was recognition of the need for a series of essential prerequisites. First, the power of the toilers must be established through socialist revolution. The socialist state must control the commanding economic heights, and the land must be nationalized, or the land-use system transformed. The economic and political alliance of the working class and peasantry must be achieved. The communist party, which formulates a scientifically valid program of action and directs the activities of the working class and peasantry, must play the leading role. Socialist industrialization must be achieved, and a policy of restricting, displacing, and ultimately eliminating capitalist elements in the countryside must be carried out. Finally, a cultural revolution must be carried out. Central to the socialist transformation of agriculture is the question of methods and principles and of ways to bring about the gradual reorganization of peasant farms on a cooperative basis.

In the socialist countries, where the small commercial producer dominated agriculture, the primary path of socialist transformation of agriculture was the establishment of cooperative peasant farms (in the USSR this took the form of collectivization of agriculture), which ensured the transformation of the peasants’ private ownership of the means of production into public ownership and the emergence of large collective farms, called kolkhozes in the USSR and producers’ cooperatives in the other socialist countries. The state agricultural enterprises—called sovkhozes in the USSR—usually located on land nationalized by the state at the expense of large landowners, played an important part in the socialist transformation of agriculture. They not only produced in large quantities but also helped the peasants master the latest agricultural techniques and supplied them with seed, purebred stock, and machinery. The state agricultural enterprises (sovkhozes) gave the peasants convincing demonstrations of the advantages of socialist organization of production. Machine-tractor stations greatly helped transform the agriculture’s backward material and technical base.

The socialist transformation of agriculture not only secures the conditions essential to the progressive development of agricultural production through the use of the latest advances in science and technology but also eliminates the underlying causes of social conflict and antagonistic contradictions in society. The two basic methods of the socialist transformation of agriculture, each of which reflects the specific features of the working class and peasantry’s transition to socialism, account for the presence of two forms of public ownership in socialist agriculture: national (state) ownership and cooperative ownership.

As international experience in the building of socialism has demonstrated, the establishment of cooperative farms is, of all ways of socialist transformation of small-scale commercial production in the countryside, the most accessible and agreeable to the peasants. In practice, both methods of socialist transformation of agriculture—the expropriation of large properties and the creation of cooperative farms—complement each other. In the socialist countries, the relations between the state and cooperative sectors in agriculture confirm the objective validity of both methods of building socialism in the countryside. A higher proportion of state agricultural enterprises is typical of countries that once had large-scale and highly productive capitalist or bourgeois-gentry farms with hired labor. Thus, in the period of socialist construction, the proportion of state farms was lowest—1-2 percent of all agricultural land—in Bulgaria, where peasant farms predominated. It was highest in Cuba, where large plantations using hired labor were common; in 1967, state farms accounted for 70 percent of the country’s agricultural land. The problem of guiding peasants along the socialist path by establishing cooperative farms is growing more timely as many developing countries with predominantly peasant populations are being drawn into the world revolutionary process. In such conditions, the socialist countries’ experience with the socialist transformation of agriculture is, in a practical sense, immeasurably more valuable.


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