[Marxism] Joint Opposition Agrarian programme from 1927

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at gmx.net
Wed May 4 07:04:46 MDT 2005


Platform of the Joint Opposition, 1927, Chapter 3
The Agrarian Question and Socialist Construction 
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1927/opposition/ch03.htm

In the class struggle now going on in the country, the party must stand, not
only in words but in deeds, at the head of the farm-hands, the poor
peasants, and the basic mass of the middle peasants, and organize them
against the exploiting aspirations of the kulak. 

(...) 

Agricultural credit must cease to be for the most part a privilege of the
well-off circles of the village. We must put an end to the present
situation, which permits the savings of the poor, insignificant enough
already, to be spent, not for their intended purpose, in the service of the
well-off and middle groups. 

The growth of land-renting must be offset by a more rapid development of
collective farming. It is necessary systematically and from year to year to
subsidize largely the efforts of the poor peasants to organize in
collectives. 

At the same time, we must give more systematic help to poor peasants not
included in the collectives, by freeing them entirely from taxation, by a
corresponding land policy, by credits for agricultural implements, and by
bringing them into the agricultural co-operatives. Instead of the slogan,
“Create non-party peasant-active cadres by revivifying the soviets
”(Stalin-Molotov), a slogan deprived of all class content and which will in
reality strengthen the dominant role of the upper levels in the villages, we
must adopt the following slogan: Create non-party cadres composed of hired
hands, poor peasants, and middle peasants who are close to them. 

We must have a real, planned, universal, and durable organization of the
poor, centred upon vital political and economic problems of life, such as
elections, tax campaigns, influence upon the distribution of credit,
machines, etc., land division and land utilization, the creation of
co-operatives, realization of the cooperative funds allotted to the village
poor. 

The party ought to promote by all means the economic advancement of the
middle peasant–by a wise policy of prices for grain, by the organization of
credits and co-operatives accessible to him, by the systematic and gradual
introduction of that most numerous peasant group to the benefits of
large-scale, mechanical-collective agriculture. 

(...)

One of the most essential measures for re-enforcing the nationalization of
the land is the subordination of these land communities to the local organs
of the state and the establishment of firm control by the local soviets,
purified of kulak elements, over the regulations of all questions of the
division and utilization of the land. The purpose of this control should be
a maximum defence of the interests of the poor and the weak small peasants
against domination by the kulaks. It is necessary in particular that the
kulak, as a renter of land, should be wholly and absolutely, and not only in
words but in fact, subject to supervision and control by the organs of the
Soviet power in the countryside. 

The party ought to oppose a shattering resistance to all tendencies directed
towards annulling or undermining the nationalization of the land–one of the
foundation pillars qf the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

The existing system of a single agricultural tax ought to be changed in the
direction of freeing altogether from taxation 40 to 50 per cent of the
poorest and poorer peasant families, without making up for it by any
additional tax upon the bulk of the middle peasants. The dates of tax
collection should be accommodated to the interests of the lower groups of
taxpayers. 

A much larger sum ought to be appropriated for the creation of state and
collective farms. Maximum privileges must be accorded to the newly organized
collective farms and other forms of collectivism. People deprived of
electoral rights must not be allowed to be members of the collective farms.
The whole work of the co-operatives ought to be permeated with a sense of
the task of transforming a small-scale production into large-scale
collective production. A firm class policy must be pursued in the sphere of
machine supply and a special struggle waged against the fake machine
societies. 

The work of land distribution must be carried on wholly at the expense of
the state, and the first thing to be taken care of must be the collective
farms and the poor peasant farms, with a maximum protection of their
interests. 

The prices of grain and other agricultural products ought to guarantee to
the poor and the basic mass of the middle peasants the possibility, at the
very least, of maintaining their farms at the present level and gradually
improving them. Measures should be taken to abolish the parity between
autumn and spring grain prices. For this disparity counts heavily against
the rural poor and gives all the advantage to the upper levels. 

It is necessary not only to increase considerably the appropriation to the
poor peasants ”fund, but also radically to change the whole direction of
agricultural credit towards assuring to the poor and the weak middle peasant
cheap and long-term credits, and towards abolishing the existing system of
guarantees and references. 

Co-Operation 
The task of socialist construction in the country is to reform agriculture
on the basis of large-scale, mechanized, collective agriculture. For the
bulk of the peasants the simplest road to this end is co-operation, as Lenin
described it in his work On Co-operation. This is the enormous advantage
which the proletarian dictatorship and the Soviet system as a whole gives to
the peasant. Only a process of growing industrialization of agriculture can
create the broad basis for this socialist cooperation (or collectivism).
Without a technical revolution in the very means of production–that is to
say, without agricultural machinery, without the rotation of crops, without
artificial fertilizers, etc–no successful and broad work in the direction of
a real collectivization of agriculture is possible. 

Co-operative producing and selling will be a road to socialism only in the
event that: (1) this process takes place under the immediate economic and
political influence of the socialist elements, especially of large-scale
industry and the trade unions; and (2) this process of making the trade
functions of agriculture co-operative gradually leads to the
collectivization of agriculture itself. The class character of the
agricultural co-operatives will be determined not only by the numerical
weight of the different groups of the co-operating peasantry, but more
particularly by their relative economic weight. The task of the party is to
see that agricultural co-operation constitutes a real union of the poor and
middle groups of the peasants, and is a weapon in the struggle of those
elements against the growing economic power of the kulak. We must
systematically and persistently bring the agricultural proletariat into the
task of building the cooperatives. 

A successful co-operative structure is conceivable only upon condition of a
maximum activity by the co-operating population. A true union of the
co-operatives with large-scale industry and the proletarian state assumes a
normal regime in the co-operative organizations, excluding bureaucratic
methods of regulation. 


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