The state of the NEP economy in 1928

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  • The state of the NEP economy in 1928
    • 80% of Russia's population were peasants. Since 1921 they had farmed their own plots and many had become increasingly wealthy. They had achieved their age-old aim. Change in agriculture was fundamental to economic growth.
    • Under the NEP food production rapidly returned to pre-World War 1 levels, with the emergence of some richer peasants, or Kulaks , who employed others.
    • Most agriculture was still small scale, old-fashioned and not very productive.
    • Lenin had set up the first collective farms, hoping that this example would lead peasants to voluntarily join together. This was not very successful - by 1928 less than 3% of peasants had joined.
    • The debate inside the Communist Party was about how to squeeze capital from the peasants - all were agreed on the policy of industrialisation.
    • As well as capital from the countryside, the workers needed in the new towns and industries would have to come from the countryside, so it was imperative to grow more food with fewer workers.
    • Some items needed for industrialisation needed to be imported from the west, and could only be paid for in the short term by food exports, again increasing the need to raise productivity in the countryside.
    • The peasants were happy to produce more food. But as the famine of 1927-28 shows, if there were no goods in the towns for them to buy, or prices for the their grain were too low, then they would hold on to their surplus.
    • They would use it either to feed their animals or to improve their own standard of living. Anyway, it was essential to have some grain stored in case there was a bad harvest the next year.
    • Most peasants were basically conservative. They had supported the Bolsheviks in order to get rid of their landlords and to get their hands on land. They had no loyalty to communism, unlike industrial workers.

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