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Inventing a Soviet Countryside (Paperback)

State Power and the Transformation of Rural Russia, 1917–1929

Imprint: University of Pittsburgh Press
Series: Russian and East European Studies
Pages: 312
ISBN: 9780822961758
Published: 15th February 2004
Casemate UK Academic

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Following the largest peasant revolution in history, Russia's urban-based Bolshevik regime was faced with a monumental task: to peacefully \u201cmodernize\u201d and eventually \u201csocialize\u201d the peasants in the countryside surrounding Russia's cities. To accomplish this, the Bolshevik leadership created the People's Commissariat of Agriculture (Narkomzem), which would eventually employ 70,000 workers. This commissariat was particularly important, both because of massive famine and because peasants composed the majority of Russia's population; it was also regarded as one of the most moderate state agencies because of its nonviolent approach to rural transformation.Working from recently opened historical archives, James Heinzen presents a balanced, thorough examination of the political, social, and cultural dilemmas present in the Bolsheviks' strategy for modernizing of the peasantry. He especially focuses on the state employees charged with no less than a complete transformation of an entire class of people. Heinzen ultimately shows how disputes among those involved in this plan-from the government, to Communist leaders, to the peasants themselves-led to the shuttering of the Commissariat of Agriculture and to Stalin's cataclysmic 1929 collectivization of agriculture.

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