Russian Government Policy

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There is evidence of failure and peasant resistance in most sources, however not all, and also evidence of success and support in some cases. Failure mainly seems to be consistent over time but while some peasants resisted not all did.

Source1 shows resistance because ‘most of the liberated serfs’ resented the emancipation. The existence of recalcitrant peasants points to further peasant resistance. This appears to be reliable because it was written after the end of Communism so Hingley would have had access to Russian archives. It is useful because it shows that policy failed from the beginning however it generalises the peasants into one category and doesn’t show that some peasants benefited.

In source2(a) Stolypin indicates resistance by calling some the ‘needy and the drunken’. These are the recalcitrant peasants mentioned by Hingley. This can’t be generalised to all as some were classed as the ‘sturdy and the strong’. This is reliable as it was the Duma being informed of official policy; it is also useful because it shows there were two different types of peasants.

Source2(b) shows the peasants are hostile to Stolypins Land Law. This shows resistance similar to the resentment shown in source 1.

In source3 Stalin tells of the resistance of ‘ten millions’ of peasants to collectivisation. This shows that there were at least that many deaths. This source also shows how he stereotyped the peasants suggesting they were bourgeois in outlook. The mention of periodic famine shows that previous attempts at reform had failed. This source is useful because it shows how large scale the resistance was, however there are limitations because we don’t know the origin and there is a possible unidentified third person which means we don’t know how reliable it is.

Source6 gives evidence of resistance because during the Virgin Land Schemes ‘plans had to be imposed’ but a limitation is that it doesn’t say how. This may not be as reliable as because it was written during the cold war Nove might have to be careful about what he says.

Not all the sources show resistance. Source2(c) shows total support by one of the sturdy and strong, but there is an obvious bias because of this. The reason between the different opinions about resistance and support made by each part of this source is due to the different origins.

Evidence of support can be inferred from source4 because many volunteers were willing to work even when facing great hardships.

The rise in total agricultural output from 1958 to 1965 shows evidence of support even though it is far off from the plan.

Source2(a) shows evidence of failure because the reforms don’t go far enough. Failure can be inferred from (b) because the peasants were very unhappy with the Land Law which was supposed to help them prosper.

Source4 shows there was major failure under Khrushchev’s Virgin Land Scheme due to bad planning. This led to major waste which is further evidence of policy failure. This source is useful because it shows a mind change towards the peasants however Shevardnadze may have forgotten things because it was written thirty years afterwards. He may also have left things out on purpose because he had turned democratic.

Source5 backs up that there was bad planning because the target for 1965 wasn’t reached; this is partly due to an optimistic and over estimated figure which wasn’t achievable.

Source6 does give some explanation of lower than expected harvests due to bad weather. However this source provides more evidence of bad planning similar to source4 but also shows it is a continuing problem from under both tsarist and communist rule. More evidence of failure is the forcing of policy upon peasants whilst ignoring local circumstances. This shows more continuity of leaders generalising the peasants into one category without worrying about their specific needs. Nove also points out that ‘campaigns always degenerated into excess’ which further supports previous evidence of failure due to waste and mismanagement.

Some evidence of failure can be inferred from source3 because of the mass resistance of the peasants which shows that collectivisation didn’t do for the peasants what was necessary.

Source2(c) has evidence of success because some peasants supported policies.

Some success is shown by Stalin in source3 because collectivisation increased the food supply.

Further evidence of success is shown in source4 because of the mind change towards peasants because Khrushchev tried to put them as his main priority.

Overall the sources agree that most tsarist and communist agricultural policies failed to help the peasants. However most had some successes such as the peasant support shown in source 2a. There was also agreement that the peasants resisted these policies however it was not a total resistance as there was also evidence of support. This shows the peasants can’t be generalised into one category.

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