Goncharova I.V., Chuvardin G.S. Communes of the Central Black Earth Region from “war communism” to collectivization: Design and implementation // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2018. V.3. №4. P. 105-122.
The article considers evolution of the Bolsheviks’ policy starting from the introduction of communes in the village as a socialist way of rural life in the post-revolutionary period. The archival materials of the Central Black Earth Region prove the idea of the authorities to create collective farms of commune type, which was determined by the revolutionary euphoria, and show the results of implementing this project in the agricultural center of the country during the NEP. The village communes (collective peasant associations) of the Orel Region depended on the state subsidies and state land fund. The social portrait of these communes’ members and their estimates of the communes prove that some former noblemen tried to adapt to the new Soviet reality under the Charter of the commune to preserve their ‘gentry nests’ from land redistribution. The most important factor determining the life of village communes in the 1920s — early 1930s was their changing role in the state ideology and policy. During this period, the position of the Bolsheviks changed according to the strategic aims of the state agricultural policy. Under the NEP, when market relations and private initiative were allowed, the communes were considered exemplary farms of the future showing peasants a new way of everyday life and joint farming. Their economic unprofitability was ignored due to the task of cultural education of local peasants, which became an additional incentive for peasant entrepreneurs to enter communes and to use state subsidies to improve their financial situation. Communards’ children had a good chance for education which was an important social lift of that time. The state collectivization policy radically changed the official attitude to village communes — they were thoroughly checked and strongly criticized. Thus, the multi-form agricultural sector was destroyed and the agricultural artel was declared the dominant form of collective farming. The primary task of new collective farms was to leave peasants without means of production and investments. Moreover, under the socialist experiment peasants simply disappeared as its observers and turned into collective farmers, i.e. participants of the experiment.
Peasants, Central Black Earth Region, village communes, collective farms, authorities, Bolsheviks, collectivization.
About the authors
Goncharova Irina V., DSc (History), Professor, Department of Russian History, Orel State University named after I.S. Turgenev. 302026, Orel, Komsomolskaya St., 95.
Chuvardin German S., DSc (History), Professor, Department of Russian History, Orel State University named after I.S. Turgenev. 302026, Orel, Komsomolskaya St., 95.