The Question of the Peasantry and Industrialisation in the Soviet Union and People’s China

Vijay Singh

In a recent discussion a comrade argued ‘that Stalin engaged in the production of surplus value through the exploitation of the peasantry, and this funded and sustained urban industrialisation. Furthermore, this exploitation was exacerbated, as Bettelheim argues, due to the poor organisation amongst the peasantry of the Bolsheviks (this predates Stalin’s ascendency as well), which results in an antagonising of contradictions amongst the people. Indeed, I do not think that Stalin was some tyrant who purposefully went around killing peasants for fun, but do think that the exigencies of developing urban industrialisation and poor relationship between the Bolsheviks and the peasantry resulted in a rather callous approach towards the difficulties that the peasantry faced. I think that this difference in approach with respect to the peasantry and industrialisation is a qualitative difference between the policies of Stalin and Mao’.

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