Soviet Collectivization and English Enclosure

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groovysocialist's picture
groovysocialist
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Aug 11 2017 20:05
Soviet Collectivization and English Enclosure

Looking at both of these processes on the surface, they seem somewhat similar. I'm wondering if anyone can illustrate some of the key similarities and differences between these two? And any sources that go in depth with their descriptions of both would be very appreciated!

spacious's picture
spacious
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Aug 12 2017 13:14

hi groovysocialist,
Probably one of the best sources, for the background of the 19th century debates about the Russian agricultural village commune, is Teodor Shanin's Late Marx and the Russian Road... it obviously doesn't discuss the 20th century collectivizations of Stalin's time, or their results, but it shows what they were aimed at replacing, and how this was a strongly contested issue already in the mid-19th century.

Basically, I think you're right that both the Enclosures and Soviet collectivization were a matter of ridding the countryside of pre-capitalist social forms, whether these were feudal or older and more communal in nature. The forceful separation of workers from land and tools, and from means of subsistence are common to both. This opened the way to large-scale agriculture, its separation from domestic industry, and at the same time created a class of former peasants which could be recruited as a newly formed working class in non-agricultural branches of production.

That Soviet Russia did the same to its peasants as what other capitalist powers had already 'accomplished' earlier, is argued for example in Loren Goldners's article about Bordiga's understanding of the USSR as a "society on its way to capitalism". Bordiga reached that conclusion largely by studying the structure of Russian agriculture. In the below article, Goldner himself also puts forward why it makes sense to use the "agrarian revolution" to periodize/clarify the global history of capitalism:
http://libcom.org/library/communism-is-the-material-human-community-amadeo-bordiga-today

Another article by Goldner, with more historical detail about the agrarian question in post-revolutionary Russia specifically:
http://breaktheirhaughtypower.org/the-agrarian-question-in-the-russian-revolution-from-material-community-to-productivism-and-back/

Another article along the same lines, has a good summary of the Russian situation in how it differed from the Western pattern: http://libcom.org/library/beyond-agrarian-revolution-peter-jonas

I'm sure you can find more detailed accounts of the historical events themselves, but these are quite good for general historical context.

jura's picture
jura
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Aug 12 2017 17:33

Groovysocialist, I also think you're right. It was also openly admitted at the time by Soviet leadership, see "primitive socialist accumulation".

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Steven.
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Aug 13 2017 08:43

In addition to people's suggestions about the USSR, this article has quite a detailed history of enclosures in Britain: https://libcom.org/history/short-history-enclosure-britain