How far were ideological factors responsible for Stalin’s decision to replace the NEP with the collectivisation of agriculture and the Five Year Plans? I believe that ideological factor were responsible for Stalin’s decision to replace the NEP with the collectivisation of agriculture and the Five Year Plans as Stalin was disgruntled by the peasants work ethic and continuingly wanted to become more communist and ideological issues were the main contributors that, if changed would make a vast difference to Russia. However, other factors also could have been responsible for Stalin’s decision to replace the NEP with the collectivisation of agriculture and the Five Year Plans such as political and economical aspects. I feel that the main contributor in determining Stalin’s decision was the economic factors that Stalin was determined to industrialise Russia and under the NEP this was not possible.
Ideological factors were responsible for Stalin’s decision to replace the NEP with the collectivisation of agriculture and the Five Year Plans as the introduction of these new things meant that Russia could become more communist which was what Stalin ultimately wanted. Before collectivisation was introduced, Stalin felt that peasant attitude lacked revolutionary spirit, rather than producing grain for the good of the community the peasants produced it for themselves and their own profit. This was viewed as capitalism and was against what Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Russia tried to achieve and the NEP was helping the peasants develop capitalism. This is true in that of the introduction of collectivisation and the Five Year Plans and Stalin constantly wanted to become a ‘more communist’ state. Through collectivisation Stalin promised significant increase in production which would allow the government to sell more overseas, providing more resources for industrialisation and a higher standard of living for urban workers. Collectivisation had a devastating effect on the Russian peasantry, which resulted in Stalin’s ‘change of tactic’ in the Five Year Plans.
Under the NEP the peasants had prospered while conditions for the workers were slow to improve. Stalin wanted to reverse this. He intended to replace the ‘bourgeois specialists’ with the ‘red specialists’ who were educated by the Communist government and who came from the ranks of the working class. However, political factors could also be seen as responsible for Stalin’s decision to replace the NEP with the collectivisation of agriculture and the Five Year Plans. Stalin’s desire to initiate collectivisation was motivated by his struggle against Bukharin and the Party’s rightwing. The radical nature of collectivisation appealed to the Party’s left wing. Moreover, it was far more appealing to many in the Communist Party than the right-wing alternative of importing grain. Grain imports would mean reducing the pace of industrialisation because the money used to buy grain could not be spent on developing Russia’s industry and Stalin was incredibly eager to introduce industrialisation, it was one of his main aims for Russia.
Under the NEP, importing grain many have been inevitable as without collectivisation Russia would have had to get grain from abroad or they would have starved. This would have resulted in the slowing down of industrialisation which Stalin would not have been pleased about. Additionally, Stalin’s own understanding of agriculture (which was very little) also had some bearing on his decision. He had a different view and understanding of agriculture to that of Lenin so the changing of the NEP to collectivisation seemed a logical step for Stalin. Political factors were also responsible for Stalin’s decision to replace the NEP with the Five Year Plans. For many, these plans were seen as Stalin’s consolidation of power. His message was very clear- Lenin’s Russia, the Russia of the NEP was over, and ‘Stalin’s Russia’ was just beginning. By this he removed the NEP which Lenin had brought in, so that to show Russia it was no longer going to go by the words of Lenin, but of Stalin. Finally, economic factors also could have been seen to be responsible for Stalin’s decision to replace the NEP with the collectivisation of agriculture and the Five Year Plans. The autumn of 1926 saw record grain harvests for the USSR. However, the harvests of 1927, 1928 and 1929 were poorer. The decrease in production forced the price of agricultural products up.
Consequently, the standard of living amongst urban workers declined. The NEP caused this decline in production and economically it was terrible for the country as without grain being produced the economy suffered huge losses and many Russian families were homeless. Collectivisation held out the prospect of many economic benefits, those being that large farms would increase efficiency, with improved efficiency it would mean that fewer people were needed to work on the farms, therefore releasing extra manpower for Russia’s developing industry and collectivisation promised a significant increase in production. Industrialisation was a main aim for Stalin and in his eyes through collectivisation Russia would become more industrial; however under the NEP this was not possible. Similarly, the First Five Year Plan was introduced in response to the NEP’s failure to industrialise Russia. Even the NEP’s supporters acknowledged that that policy could only industrialise Russia ‘at a snail’s pace’.
The Five Year Plans aimed to speed up this process. It was evident that the NEP was not producing results quick enough and a new approach was needed. In conclusion, I believe that economic reasons were the important factor responsible for Stalin’s decision to replace the NEP with the collectivisation of agriculture and the Five Year Plans as the economy under the NEP was in tatters and if Stalin had not tried to change the approach quickly the Russia economy would have been completely destroyed. Stalin wanted to increase the pace in which things were improving; under the NEP results were often slow and unpredictable. Although I feel that political and ideological were important in Stalin’s decision I don’t feel that they contributed to the extent that economical factors did. However, many points are linked, one in which that Stalin wanted Russia to become more communist and under the NEP that was not possible. This comes under all three factors and was an important factor in Stalin’s decision. By Lara Williamson