Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Dr Emery Barcs 1961-1-19

NIKITA KRUSHCHEV'S acid comments at the present session of the Communist Party's Central Committee in Moscow on the mismanagement of Soviet agriculture have clearly ended another Soviet propaganda fable.

Two years ago Mr. Krushchev boasted that by 1965 Soviet agriculture would catch up with United States output, then gallop away from Uncle Sam at a staggering speed producing unprecedented quantities of foodstuffs for the benefit of the hungry and underfed peoples of the world.

Cautious and sceptical Western experts who doubted the feasibility of such rapid growths were derided as "hostile fools." "Of course," the true-believers argued, "only under the rationally organised. centrally planned and controlled system of Socialist farming is such a spectacular development possible. Russia will prove this."

So far not only Russia but also all other Communist-governed Eastern European countries have proved exactly the opposite.
In 1958 the world average of agricultural production was between 37 and 38 per cent higher than in 1938. But in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe the increase was only between 15 and 18 per cent compared with prewar levels, despite huge investments to make socialised agriculture work.

Mr. Krushchev's boundless optimism in 1958 was perhaps based on that year's bumper grain harvest in the Soviet Union and on reports of collective-farm managers who were anxious to please the men in the Kremlin. The Soviet leader has now called these managers "liars and cheats."

In 1958 the Soviet Government reported to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (F.A.O.) that agricultural production in the U.S.S.R. rose by nine per cent that year-an increase which was more than double the world average of four percent.

Mr. Krushchev (or whoever had supplied him with the relevant data) then added to this exceptional year the hoped-for yields from newly developed regions such as the so-called "virgin lands" project in Kazakhistan and the ploughing of some 20 million acres of former forests and steppe along the Volga, in the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.

All these results put together might have produced the figures which showed that by 1965 and especially after that date the Soviet Union would be the leading food-producer of the world.

Unfortunately, however, a wide discrepancy has arisen between theory and practice. 'The first signs that all was not well with the ambitious Soviet agricultural plans came from Mr. Krushchev himself in January, 1960, when he violently denounced the criminal incompetence" of the men whose task was to organise the Kazakh "virgin lands" scheme.

He complained that 18,000 tractors took no part in the sowing, 32,000 combines were idle during harvesting, and four million acres of sown grain were not harvested at all.

Krushchev made two of his closest friends and supporters in previous party-feuds the scapegoats for the alleged bungling.
They were Messrs. N. I. Belyaev, First Secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party, and Alexi Kirichenko, an agricultural expert and one of the mightiest men in the soviet Communist Party Secretariat.

"Friendship can't save people who fail to fulfil their duties," screamed Krushchev. A few days later both Kirichenko and Belyaev were sacked and have since disappeared completely from the lime-light.

With them, as usual, hundreds of minor aides to the two men lost their jobs or were demoted to less responsible tasks.

BUT Mr. Kruschev's violent attacks at the present session of the Central Committee on those Soviet agricultural leaders who remained at their places last year and against newly appointed men show that the situation has scarcely improved during the past 12 months.

For    instance, Soviet meat-production has remained stagnant at about 8.6 million tons since 1959. To "catch up with America" the country would have to produce another 12 million or 13 million tons of meat by 1965. Only incorrigible optimists believe that this target can be fulfilled.

Or take the question of wheat. At the Central Committee meeting Mr. Kruschev refused to believe Nikolai Podgorny, First Secretary of the Ukranian Communist Party, who reported that the Ukraine produced (the equivalent of) 13 bushels of wheat to the acre in 1960.

Krushchev thundered that the real amount must have been lower there and then Podgorny (who seems to be the next man marked for the axe) meekly admitted: "You are dead right, Comrade Krushchev..."

But the Ukraine is not only one of the best wheat growing regions of the Soviet Union but of the whole of Europe. Yet even in the best postwar years it hasn't grown more than 15 bushels of wheat to the acre, or less than one of the (agriculturally) most backward European countries, Spain (15.1 bushels to the acre).

In comparison during the four years between 1955 and 1958 (the latest figures available) the average number of bushels of wheat to the acre per year harvested in the West were: Australia, 17.5; U.S.A., 22.4; France, 33.1; West Germany, 44.3; Holland, 56.3; and (the world's best) Denmark, 58.7.

The overall picture of agricultural production is no better in the rest of Russian-dominated Eastern Europe which was once the granary of the Continent than it is in the Soviet Union.

None of the seven Soviet satellite countries (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania and East Germany) has been able to keep pace with the development in Western Europe or in the agriculturally more advanced parts of the world.

With the exception of East Germany (which provided much of the food-stuffs for West Germany) and of backward Albania, all of the other five Eastern European countries were food exporters before World War II. Now they can't even feed their own peoples properly.

Herr Walter Ulbricht East Germany's Red boss, has admitted that in his country agricultural production is "growing more slowly than consumption." The same is true throughout the entire satellite orbit. Not one of the seven states has been able to fulfill the modest plan of a four percent increase in food production each year.

The most obvious explanation for the failure of Communist-run agriculture is that Communist agrarian policy is based on a series of theoretical fallacies and political expediencies.

Probably the most glaring of these fallacies is that by increasing the size of farms, and by providing them with all sorts of machinery and scientific equipment, they can be turned into agricultural factories serviced by workers who are essentially no different from the staff of, say, an electric power-station or a steelworks.

But a farm, however big and however highly mechanised is still not a factory and 43 years of Communist rule in the Soviet Union has still failed to transform the Russian, Ukrainian or Kazakh men and women who work on the land into factory workers.

By taking away their land (or by not giving them any) Communist rulers can reduce peasants to wage-earners for the sake of eliminating a politically"dangerous" class of people with independent means.

Past experience, however, has proved that the landless farm-worker who has no, or very little, personal stake in his labors is a very careless and inefficient producer. And huge estates worked by such wage-earners have always been notoriously inefficient.

The highest efficiency in agricultural production has been achieved in Western countries and by medium or small independent farmers -- often voluntarily associated in co-operatives.

Under Communist rule the landless farm-worker might have a better deal than he had in Russia before 1917, or in some parts of Eastern Europe before 1945 when he sweated for often shockingly low wages for feudal landlords.  But despite his improved treatment he has still no personal interest in his labors and the land is the ideal place for the determined loafer.

But all this doesn't mean that Communists will abandon their agrarian policy in the forseeable future. For under Communism if theory clashes with facts then it's just too bad for the facts.

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