said in a speech in November 1932 that the difficulty of collecting grain was caused by conspirators and “class enemies”. He believed that farmers deliberately obstructed his collectivization plan in order to challenge the authority of the regime.

grandiose posters of the Soviet Union during the “great leap forward” period

for using food as an ideological tool, Josef Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union Not new. When he came to power in 1924, he promoted a plan for rapid industrialization with the goal of catching up with and surpassing the industrialized countries in the West. Food plays a central role in its plan. At that time, the Soviet Union was the main grain exporter, and it intended to increase the number of such exports in order to raise funds to buy Industrial machinery from foreign countries. Small farms originally operated by individual farmers and their families will be compressed together to form a “collective” farm owned by the state. Stalin hoped that putting farming under state control in this way would increase production. Stalin announced his plan in 1929: “within about three years, our country will become one of the regions with the highest grain production in the world, even the region with the highest grain production.” This will generate additional grain for export and earn more strong currency to fund industrialization plans. Stalin set a goal: within five years, to double the output of steel and triple the output of iron. The success of its plan – farmers working together produce more food, and the Soviet Union industrializes rapidly – proves the superiority of socialism.

in some ways, his plan attempts to replicate what happened in Western Europe and began in the UK, where there was a rapid increase in agricultural productivity before industrialization. This development will release workers from the land and enable them to become industrial workers. That’s why Adam Smith called industrial activities “descendants of agriculture”. However, the orientation of the Soviet Union was very different, because the planning role of the state was very limited in the development of British industrialization; Britain’s industrialization was not the result of deliberate planning. In contrast, Stalin’s industrialization plan is an effort planned by the state. The way to raise funds is to “collectivize” the farms, which means that the products of these farms belong to the state. Therefore, the government can change its name and export them.

it is no surprise that farmers themselves are not keen on this new policy. In fact, farmers with higher productivity (and therefore richer) are particularly reluctant to accept this arrangement. In some cases, they would rather burn crops or slaughter livestock than be forced to hand them over to collective farms. Stalin ordered that since all crops, livestock and agricultural products now belong to the state, anyone who refuses to hand them over or destroys them is the enemy or saboteur of the people and should be expelled to the labor reform camps of the Soviet Union.

because the farmers with the highest productivity are most likely to oppose collectivization, the impact of the new system on agricultural productivity can be imagined. Since their agricultural products now belong to the state, farmers no longer have the motivation to try their best to increase production. Drought, bad weather and lack of horses to work in the fields also led to less than usual harvests in 1931 and 1932. As a result, at a time when Stalin needed more agricultural products to finance his industrialization plan, the level of food production fell. However, it would be unthinkable for the Soviet leadership to recognize that collectivization measures reduced farm productivity. On the contrary, Stalin insisted that there was an unprecedented harvest in grain production, but some farmers hid their products to avoid being forced to turn them over. This explanation rationalizes the country’s continued practice of collecting large amounts of grain, but it also means that many farmers end up without enough food to eat. Moreover, those who fail to meet the grain payment limit or are suspected of hiding grain are punished by asking the government to take other crops as “fines” and leave less food for them. On the other hand, industrial workers in cities have plenty of food to eat, and grain exports have doubled, making the outside world think that Stalin’s plan is progressing as planned.

on average, farmers can finally leave 13 less grain for themselves than they had before collectivization. But in some areas, the situation is much worse. Especially in Ukraine, a rich agricultural region that has always produced far more grain than needed, the government has set a very high charge. When the expected harvest failed, local officials were ordered to step up the search for hidden grain reserves. Stalin ordered that even if only one ear of wheat was kept from the state, it would be sentenced to death or 10 years in prison. One participant recalled: “I myself took part in the operation, searching the countryside for hidden grains, exploring the soft places on the ground with iron rods, and sometimes finding hidden grains. I emptied the villagers’ lockers with others and turned a deaf ear to the cries of children and women. Because I was convinced that I was completing the transformation of the countryside.” When the people began to starve, soldiers were sent to guard the big warehouse, which contained grain collected by the government. Vasily Grossman, a Soviet writer, recorded the desperate situation of rural hungry people: “People’s faces, legs and stomachs are swollen… Now they are hungry. They catch small mice, big mice, sparrows, ants and earthworms. They grind bones into powder and cook leather and heels in the same way; they cut old fur into noodles, and they boil glue. When the grass grows, they start digging out grass roots and eating leaves and new buds 。”

in a speech in November 1932, Stalin said that the difficulty of collecting grain was caused by conspirators and “class enemies”. He believed that farmers deliberately obstructed his collectivization plan in order to challenge the authority of the regime. He declared: “some collective farms and farmers hit the country so hard that the Communists