Ok let's get started.
(Original post by -Illmatic-)
Any feedback on this essay I wrote would be very much appreciated
“How far was the failure of the NEP the main cause of collectivisation?”
The failure of the New Economic Policy marked the beginning of a new era for Soviet Russia. Collectivisation, a policy designed to transform small farms into larger, state-owned collective farms, replaced the economic doctrine because of an amalgamation of factors, including but not exclusive to: economic, ideological and political factors. The failure of the NEP was undoubtedly linked to many of these factors in an intricate way.
The autumn of 1926 saw a record grain harvest for Soviet Russia. The grain harvest for the subsequent years of 1927, 1928 and 1929, however, were much poorer. By 1928, the USSR was 20 million tons of grain short to feed the towns. This sudden scarcity in grain led to an increase in the price of agricultural products. Subsequently, the increase in the prices led to a decline in the standard of living amongst urban workers. The economic difficulties faced in this period extended also to the Soviet government: the decrease in grain surpluses had meant that they could not sell excess grain abroad in order to acquire foreign currency. This meant that there was less money for the industrialisation plans of Stalin and the Communist Party. The obvious economic difficulties-that stemmed from the NEP-that faced both the people and government of the Soviet Union led to the need for a new, more efficient policy. Thus, it can be asserted that the failure of the NEP in providing a stable economic environment served as a catalyst for change.
First of all, nowhere is any of my studies of Russia have I come across evidence that harvests fell under the NEP. Where did you get this from? From what I have read, the fact that because the State no longer requisitioned all surplus but instead took a smaller percentage, thus leaving peasants with some to sell, the profit motive meant that production increased. Peasants no longer produced the bare minimum because they got something out of it themselves.
I have never come across any accounts of price rises or a decline in living standards for city dwellers.
Nor have I ever come across any evidence of the soviet government not having enough money for industrialisation. And in any case, real full scale industrialisation did not come about until after the NEP, with the first five year plan.
1.The fundamental capitalistic nature of the NEP was condemned by many of the Communist Party members. It was thought that collectivisation would be able to challenge the norms that had been created by the NEP. Under the NEP, the kulaks (richer peasants) and 2.the Nepmen (capitalist peasants who had benefited from the NEP) produced goods for themselves and for their own profits as opposed to for the good of the community. Communists, especially those on the leftwing of the Party, believed that collectivisation was essential if there were to be a fundamental transformation in the way capitalist peasants embraced socialism. 3. Thus, it can be asserted that the ideological shortcomings of the NEP and the conventions that came about because of the doctrine’s existence, led to a need for a new ideology that valued community and unity over profit.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
NEP was in no way, 'fundamental capitalism', the state still requisitioned grain from peasants, just not on the same scale as before. And free-market activities were extremely limited, the state still controlled most aspects of the ecnonomy. The NEP policies were never designed to be pure capitalism, they were in fact refferred to as 'state capitalism' by Lenin and they were designed to create a mixed econonomy. Also there is no such thing as a 'Kulak', it was a lable inventedby Stalin to describe a class of people which didn't realy exist in order to make some people scapgoats and shift the blame for agricultural disasters and suffeirng away from the state. The 'Kulak' was a propaganda tool and nothing else.
2. Again rubbish, sorry but you sound like Soviet propaganda. Peasants never produced goods, 'for the good of the community'. Before NEP they produced the bare minimum and saw most of what they grew taken from them by force by the state and neither they nor anyone they knew would see the benefit of it. You are completely ignoring War Communism, the policy that was in place immediatly prior to the NEP in order to pull the country through the civil war. This involved party officials going into the countryside and taking every single scrap of food they could find to feed the industrial workers in the cities and keep the war effort going. We have no idea how many people died of starvation and disease as a result of this policy. That
is what was before, not 'the good of the community'.
3. 'Community and Unity'? What on earth do you think the Soviet Union was? It was about ideological control, resentment at those who had done well out of the NEP and Stalin efforts to wrest complete political control and push out his enemies such as Bukharin who supported the policy. That
is what the failiure of the NEP was about! This is not the Labour Party we are talking about, this is the Soviet State! it did not give two hoots about 'community'!
Political factors played a substantial role in the failure of the NEP, and thus the establishment of collectivisation as an economic policy. Collectivisation was motivated by the struggle of Stalin against Bukharin (the prime advocate of the NEP) and the rightwing (Bukharin’s allies) Collective farming appealed to the leftwing because of the element of extremism that underpinned the economic system. The NEP‘s failure to appeal to the traditional, communist Party member had meant that many members denounced the policy as being akin to a system they despised: communism. Thus, the underlying nature of the NEP, for instance, the way the NEP encouraged profit (Nepmen), meant that the system was deemed as being inconsistent with Communism and thus in conflict with the aims of the Communist Party of the USSR.
The failure NEP triggered collectivisation via a mixture of factors, the most important being political. It can be argued, however, that despite the NEP being the main reason and catalyst for collectivisation, the failure of the NEP didn’t lead to collectivisation being introduced per se, rather the underlying nature of the system and its obvious political shortcomings. Collectivisation was not least an economic phenomena designed to modernize Soviet agriculture, 4.but it was also a means to establish Stalin's power a political leader. The NEP failed to enable Stalin to have the political stronghold which he desired.
4. This at least is true and pretty much spot on in explaining the reasons for Collectivization.
Ok I'm going to have to stop here, sorry for being really harsh but your grasp of the realities of Russian History is poor at best. This essay reads like an apology for Soviet agricultural policies, policies which have killed more people than probably anything else in human history.
You need to go away and do some serious reading on War Communism and the NEP and the first Five Year Plan. Whatever sources you used for this essay you need to bin right now.
The structure and phrasing of your essay is fine, though you miss out key issues, such as the preceding policy of War Communism and it's impact on the economy.
However the actual content is just poor History, and I mean really
I am sorry to have to say this, your last esay was good and you're clearly dedicated and interested in History but I am shocked by this essay, really I am. This area of History is of particular interest to me and the horrors of Soviet agricultural policy and the untold suffering and deaths that occured as a direct result of it are something I care about a lot and in my view must never be forgotton so sorry if I sound angry at what you've said.
But with this deeply flawed grasp of the situation you will not get into Oxford.