Kolkhoz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Kolhoz)
Jump to: navigation, search

Kolkhoz (Russian: колхо́з; IPA: [kɐˈlxos] ( ), plural kolkhozy) were a form of collective farms in the Soviet Union. Kolkhoz existed along with state farms or sovkhoz, plural sovkhozy.

The word is a contraction of коллекти́вное хозя́йство (kollektivnoye khozyaystvo), suggesting collective farm or collective economy. On the other hand, sovkhoz is a contraction of советское хозяйство (sovetskoye khozyaystvo), suggesting Soviet farm or collective management. (Note that the second word is the same in both cases - thus, Kol-khoz and Sov-khoz.)

Kolkhozy and sovkhozy were the two components of the socialized farm sector that began to emerge in Soviet agriculture after the October Revolution of 1917, as an antithesis to individual or family farming.

The 1920s were characterized by spontaneous and apparently voluntary emergence of collective farms, which included an updated version of the traditional Russian “commune”, the generic “farming association” (zemledel’cheskaya artel), the association for joint cultivation of land (TOZ), and finally the kolkhoz.

This peaceful and gradual shift to collective farming in the first 15 years after the October Revolution was turned into a "violent stampede" during the forced collectivization campaign that began in 1928.

Kolkhoz as a pseudo-cooperative[edit]

As a collective farm, a kolkhoz was legally organized as a production cooperative. The Standard Charter of a kolkhoz, which since the early 1930s had the force of law in the USSR, is a model of cooperative principles in print. It speaks of the kolkhoz as a “form of agricultural production cooperative of peasants that voluntarily unite for the purpose of joint agricultural production based on ... collective labor.” It asserts that “the kolkhoz is managed according to the principles of socialist self-management, democracy, and openness, with active participation of the members in decisions concerning all aspects of internal life”.[1]

In practice, the collective farm that emerged after Stalin’s collectivization campaign did not have many characteristics of a true cooperative, except joint ownership of non-land assets by the members (the land in the Soviet Union was nationalized in 1917) and remuneration in proportion to labor and not capital from residual profits. The basic principle of voluntary membership was violated by the process of forced collectivization; members did not retain a right of free exit, and those who managed to leave could not take their share of land and assets with them (neither in kind nor in cash-equivalent form). The role of the “sovereign” general assembly and the “democratically elected” management was in practice reduced to rubber-stamping the plans, targets, and decisions made by the district and provincial authorities.

They imposed detailed work programs and nominated their preferred managerial candidates.[2][3] The kolkhozy rapidly metamorphosed from cooperatives to an offshoot of the state sector (although notionally they continued to be owned by their members). Since the mid-1930s, numerous kolkhozy changed their status to sovkhozy or vice versa, depending on current taxation policies and other discriminatory practices applicable to workers in the two categories of farms. The faint dividing lines between collective and state farms were obliterated almost totally in the late 1960s, when Khrushchev’s administration authorized a guaranteed wage to kolkhoz members, similarly to sovkhoz employees. Essentially, his administration recognized their status as hired hands rather than authentic cooperative members. The guaranteed wage provision was incorporated in the 1969 version of the Standard Charter.

Work organization[edit]

Brigade[edit]

The question of internal organization was important in the new kolkhozy. The most basic measure was to divide the workforce into a number of groups, generally known as brigades, for working purposes. `By July 1929 it was already normal practice for the large kolkhoz of 200-400 households to be divided into temporary or permanent work units of 15-30 households.'[4] The authorities gradually came down in favour of the fixed, combined brigade, that is the brigade with its personnel, land, equipment and draught horses fixed to it for the whole period of agricultural operations, and taking responsibility for all relevant tasks during that period. The brigade was headed by a brigade leader (brigadir). He was usually a local man (few were women).

After the kolkhoz amalgamations of 1950 the territorial successor of the old village kolkhoz was the "complex brigade" (brigade of brigades), a sub-unit of the new enlarged kolkhoz.

Zveno[edit]

Brigades could be subdivided into smaller units called zvenos (links) for carrying out some or all of their tasks.

Kolkhoz life under Stalin[edit]

In a kolkhoz, a member, called kolkhoznik (колхо́зник, feminine колхо́зница), was paid a share of the farm’s product and profit according to the number of workdays, while a sovkhoz employed salaried workers. In practice, many Kolkhoz did not pay their "members" much at all. In 1946, 30 percent of Kolkhoz paid no cash for labor at all, 10.6 paid no grain, and 73.2 percent paid 500 grams of grain or less per day worked.[5] In addition the kolkhoz was required to sell their crop to the State which fixed prices for the grain. These were set very low and the difference between what the State paid the farm and what the State charged consumers represented a major source of income for the Soviet government.

In 1948 the Soviet government charged wholesalers 335 rubles for 100 kilograms of rye, but paid the kolkhoz roughly 8 rubles.[6] Nor did such prices change much to keep up with inflation. Prices paid by the Soviet government hardly changed at all between 1929 and 1953 meaning that the State did not pay one half or even one third of the cost of production.[6]

Members of kolkhoz were allowed to hold a small area of private land and some animals. The size of the private plot varied over the Soviet period but was usually about 1 acre (0.40 ha). Before the Russian Revolution of 1917 a peasant with less than 13.5 acres (5.5 ha) was considered too poor to maintain a family.[7] However, the productivity of such plots is reflected in the fact that in 1938 3.9 percent of total sown land was in the form of private plots, but in 1937 those plots produced 21.5 percent of gross agriculture output.[8]

Members of the kolkhoz were required to do a minimum number of days work per year on both the kolkhoz and on other government work such as road building. In one kolkhoz the requirements were a minimum of 130 days a year for each able-bodied adult and 50 days per boy aged between 12 and 16. That was distributed around the year according to the agricultural cycle.[9] If kolkhoz members did not perform the required minimum of work, the penalties could involve confiscation of the farmer's private plot, a trial in front of a People's Court that could result in three to eight months of hard labour on the kolkhoz or up to one year in a corrective labor camp.[10]

In both the kolkhoz and sovkhoz, a system of internal passports prevented movement from rural areas to urban areas. Until 1969 all children born on a collective farm were forced by law to work there as adults unless they were specifically given permission to leave.[11][12] In effect, farmers became tied to their sovkhoz or kolkhoz in what may be described as a system of "neo-serfdom", in which the Communist bureaucracy replaced the former landowners.[13]

See collectivisation in the USSR and agriculture in the Soviet Union for general discussion of Soviet agriculture.

Basic statistics for the USSR[edit]

Kolkhozy and sovkhozy in the USSR: number of farms, average size, and share in agricultural production

Year Number of
kolkhozy
Number of
sovkhozy
Kolkhoz
size, ha
Sovkhoz
size, ha
Share of
kolkhozy
Share of
sovkhozy
Share of
households
1960 44,000 7,400 6,600 26,200 44% 18% 38%
1965 36,300 11,700 6,100 24,600 41% 24% 35%
1970 33,000 15,000 6,100 20,800 40% 28% 32%
1975 28,500 18,100 6,400 18,900 37% 31% 32%
1980 25,900 21,100 6,600 17,200 35% 36% 29%
1985 26,200 22,700 6,500 16,100 36% 36% 28%
1990 29,100 23,500 5,900 15,300 36% 38% 26%

Source: Statistical Yearbook of the USSR, various years, State Statistical Committee of the USSR, Moscow.

Disappearance of the kolkhoz after 1991[edit]

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the former Soviet republics became independent states that pursued, with varying degrees of vigor and resolve, a general policy of transition from the Soviet centrally planned economy to a market economy. Farm restructuring was one of the components of the transition agenda in the New Independent States, all of which adopted laws (typically called "Law on Enterprises and Entrepreneurship" in the various native languages) that allowed new corporate forms of farming to emerge (in addition to family farms).

These corporate farms could organize as partnerships, limited-liability companies, joint-stock societies, or agricultural cooperatives, and the traditional kolkhozy and sovkhozy — collective and state farms — were generally required to re-register in one of the new corporate forms as chosen by the general assembly of their members or workers. This legal requirement led to massive "external restructuring" of kolkhozy and sovkhozy through re-registration in new corporate forms. The number of kolkhozy and sovkhozy declined rapidly after 1992, while other corporate forms gained in prominence.

Still, field surveys conducted in CIS countries in the 1990s generally indicated that, in the opinion of the members and the managers, many of the new corporate farms behaved and functioned for all practical reasons like the old kolkhozy.[14] Formal re-registration only "changed the sign on the door" and did not produce radical internal restructuring of the traditional Soviet farm, although this was badly needed for improving productivity and efficiency of the former Soviet farms.[citation needed]

Number of kolkhozy and all corporate farms in Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova 1990-2005

Russia Ukraine Moldova
Year Number of
kolkhozy
All corporate
farms
Number of
kolkhozy
All corporate
farms
Number of
kolkhozy
All corporate
farms
1990 12,800 29,400 8,354 10,792 531 1,891
1995 5,522 26,874 450 10,914 490 1,232
2000 3,000 27,645 0 14,308 41 1,386
2005 2,000 22,135 0 17,671 4 1,846

Sources:

  • For Russia, Agriculture in Russia, statistical yearbook, State Statistical Committee, Moscow, various years.
  • For Ukraine, Rethinking Agricultural Reform in Ukraine, IAMO, Halle, Germany.
  • For Moldova, land balance tables, State Land Cadastre Agency, Chisinau, various years.

Kolkhozy have disappeared completely in Transcaucasian and Central Asian states. In Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan the disappearance of the kolkhoz was part of an overall individualization of agriculture, with family farms displacing corporate farms in general. In Central Asian countries, corporate farms persist, but no kolkhozy remain. Thus, in Turkmenistan, a presidential decree of June 1995 summarily "reorganized" all kolkhozy into "peasant associations" (Turkmen: daikhan berleshik).[14] In Tajikistan, a presidential decree of October 1995 initiated a process of conversion of kolkhozy into share-based farms operating on leased land, agricultural production cooperatives, and dehkan (peasant) farms.[15] However, contrary to the practice in all other CIS countries, one-third of the 30,000 peasant farms in Tajikistan are organized as collective dehkan farms and not family farms. These collective dehkan farms are often referred to as "kolkhozy" in the vernacular, although legally they are a different organizational form and the number of "true" kolkhozy in Tajikistan today is less than 50. Similarly in Uzbekistan the 1998 Land Code renamed all kolkhozy and sovkhozy shirkats (Uzbek for agricultural cooperatives) and just five years later, in October 2003, the government's new strategy for land reform prescribed a sweeping reorientation from shirkats to peasant farms, which since then have virtually replaced all corporate farms.

"Kolkhoznik"; a fragment of a Taras Shevchenko monument

Countries outside the USSR[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Standard Kolkhoz Charter, Agropromizdat, Moscow (1989), pp. 4,37 (Russian).
  2. ^ V.I. Semchik , Cooperation and the Law, Naukova Dumka, Kiev (1991) (Russian).
  3. ^ E.V. Serova, Agricultural Cooperation in the USSR, Agropromizdat, Moscow (1991) (Russian).
  4. ^ R W Davies, The Soviet Collective Farm 1929-1930 (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980), p.59.
  5. ^ Exile and Discipline: The June 1948 campaign against Collective Farm shirkers by Jean Levesque, p. 13
  6. ^ a b Caroline Humphrey, Karl Marx Collective: Economy, society and religion in a Siberian collective farm, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1983), p. 96.
  7. ^ Leonard E. Hubbard, The Economics of Soviet Agriculture, Macmillan, London (1939), p. 233.
  8. ^ Roy D. Laird, Collective Farming in Russia: A Political Study of the Soviet Kolkhozy, University of Kansas Publications, Lawrence, Kansas (1958), p. 120.
  9. ^ Fedor Belov, The History of a Soviet Collective Farm, Praeger, New York (1955), p. 87.
  10. ^ Fedor Belov, op. cit., pp. 110-11.
  11. ^ Caroline Humphrey, op. cit., p. 14.
  12. ^ Leonard E. Hubbard, op. cit., p. 275.
  13. ^ Merle Fainsod, How Russia is Ruled, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., revised edition (1970), p. 570.
  14. ^ a b Z. Lerman, C. Csaki, and G. Feder, Agriculture in Transition: Land Policies and Evolving Farm Structures in Post-Soviet Countries, Lexington Books, Lanham, MD (2004), Chapter 4.
  15. ^ Murat Aminjanov, How many farms are there in Tajikistan?, Policy Brief 3, European Commission "Support for the Development, Implementation and Evaluation of Agricultural Policy in Tajikistan" Project, Dushanbe (October 2007).