In the 1920s, the leader of the Bolsheviks, Vladimir Lenin, distanced the newly formed government from the policies of War Communism through a series of decrees. Under War Communism, the Bolshevik Party practiced class warfare against the peasants and justified the use of force to carry out grain requisitioning, this led to repression and violent disturbances in the countryside, the Bolsheviks relied on these methods to retain power and win the war. By examining the origins of the policy of collectivization in the Soviet Union under Stalin, the conflicts that arose from this policy and the ultimate consequences for the Kulaks and rural poor of Russia, it will be evident that the Bolsheviks used this policy to assume power and absolute dictatorship. Following Lenin’s death in 1924, the Politburo witnessed much debate, infighting, and factional alliances over the issue of NEP. While all Bolsheviks believed in the eventual collectivization of agriculture, they differed in approach. (Building a New State and Society: NEP, 1921-1928) The Rightist faction headed by Nikolai Bukharin favoured a slow approach towards collectivization and wanted to maintain NEP policies. But, the faction headed by Joseph Stalin took a more militant view towards the peasants wanted to institute collectivization quickly; moreover, Stalin regarded the peasants’ preference for selling to private buyers at higher prices than those offered by the state as undermining the state’s modernization efforts (Britannica). As Bukharin’s faction failed to propose an alternative method to rapid collectivization, Stalin, backed by the majority of the Politburo, claimed popular support from workers and poor peasants to launch the collectivization of Soviet agriculture. Collectivization was the first of Stalin’s “socialist offensives” that sought to modernize the Soviet state from above, which at the time was about 80% rural, and he specifically targeted the “rich” peasants, or kulaks, as an anti-Soviet class in 1929 (Britannica) Through the mobilization of local party committees, political policed, internal security forces, volunteer military forces, and urban workers to enforce collectivization, these shock troops destroyed the system of private land use in the countryside and created large state administered agricultural farms. Peasants and villages were organized either into State Farm administrations, known as sovkhoz, which was owned outright by the state and paid peasant farmers as hired labour, or volunteer co-operative collective farms called kolkhozy (Olga Pigareva). The collectivization campaign was brutal and aroused strong peasant resistance, and whiled the Soviet state often couched this resistance in terms of kulaks fighting against socialism; most historians agree that resistance was widespread. The first major works on Soviet collectivization focus on the state and the policies and methods the state used to carry out collectivization. Mostly written prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening of Russian archives, this scholarship relies heavily on official documents released by the Soviet Government and state-backed journals, newspapers, and publications.( The Socialized Agriculture of the USSR: Plans and Performance) Based on these official state sources, these historians investigate state mechanisms and depict the actions of Politburo Members and the nameless bureaucrats who instituted and enforced the collectivization policy (Russiapedia). This revisionist model does not exclude peasant society, and the violence that occurred during the implementation of collectivization; however, it does depict peasant society as a static featureless object which is shaped by the state. Although the revisionist interpretations center their analysis on state-level decision making, the majority of these historians reject the totalitarian model of Soviet scholarship that dominated the field during the early years of the Cold War and reveal the debate and interaction within the Politburo and the ability of mid-level bureaucrats to take independent action. By rejecting the totalitarian model, these scholars are characterized as revisionist and often attempt to rehabilitate both Lenin and Bukharin while still firmly denouncing Stalinist practices. (New Perspectives on Stalinism) The earliest studies within this framework are Moshe Lewin’s Russian Peasants and Soviet Power and R.W. Davies’ The Socialist Offensive. Both of these studies examine the grain crisis of 1927-1928, Stalin’s preference for state methods of grain requisition, and the development and implementation of collectivization and rapid industrialization Although the majority of studies on collectivization focus on Russia and the Ukraine, scholars are starting to devote their efforts to examining how collectivization played out in Central Asia. Scholarship on collectivization in Central Asia falls under the second wave revisionist model as historians integrate the state and society into their narrative (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica). Since the opening of some archives in 1991, research into Central Asia under the Soviet Union remains scarce. However, there are several articles and book chapters that explore the issue of collectivization in Central Asia; moreover, these scholars all take a national approach to collectivization while acknowledging that the Central Asian states were stilled Russian/Soviet constructions that many indigenous peoples did not recognize in the 1930s. (Stalinism in a Russia Province) Collectivization in Central Asia also proves unique in that the state was dealing with mostly nomadic peoples rather than peasants. Finally, the largest theme in the study of collectivization in Central Asia focuses on resistance with little discussion of role played by local officials. Martha Olcott examines the Soviet interest in collectivizing Kazakhstan, the costs of collectivization and the magnitude of resistance. Olcott suggests that Kazakhstan was important because collectivization was to be accompanied by increasing cultivization acreage, thus increasing the food supplied and exports. However, collectivization in Central Asia proved a challenge for the Soviet authorities as they attempted to turn nomadic tribes into sedentary peoples leading many to flee the region and resume their nomadic existence, a point supported by Niccolo Pianciola.Moreover, Soviet officials neglected Kazak collective farms by failing to provide them with grain seed, tools, and technical advice. Those people who did enter collective farms were placed on agricultural cooperatives known as TOZs in which only land and labour were common. (Soviet Peasants and Collectivization, 1930-1939: Resistance and Adaption) While Olcott mentions that resistance was widespread throughout Central Asia, she stated that Soviet actions against resistance in Kazakhstan were punitive. This issue is taken up by Pianciola who suggests that the Soviets enacted an “annihilation” policy against the Kazaks by not only withholding grain from nomadic peoples but also forcing them to trade their livestock for grain – thus depriving them of their means of survival.( the Collectivization Famine in Kazakhstan, 1931-1933) In her study of Turkmenistan, Adrienne Edgar notes in her chapter on collectivization that Turkmenistan witnessed “the worst outbreaks of anticollectivization violence.”( Tribal Nation) The peoples making up the region of Turkmenistan were wary of collectivization from the start as they remembered the famines of 1917 and 1920 that derived from overplanting cottoned. Thus when collectivization started, villagers demonstrated, rebels attacked institutions and representatives of Soviet power, and nomads fled beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. While these actions were similar throughout Central Asia, what made Turkmenistan unique, according to Edgar, was the banding together of tribesmen to fight the OGPU. This created chaos throughout the region and required a “massive show of military force” on the Soviet’s part to finally end the violence. While the peoples of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan were nomadic, the Uzbeks were a relatively sedentary people which, according to Kathryn Dooley, made collectivization in Uzbekistan unique to other Central Asian republics. In fact, Dooley posits that collectivization in Uzbekistan was similar to the process in Russia, but also had its own distinctiveness, including Islamic heritage and a collection of local cadres. This resulted in competition between the Soviet state and local Uzbek cadres which created space for individuations to resist, subvert, co-opt, and collaborate. (Stalinist Policies, Indigenous Agents, and Peasant Actors: Negotiating Collectivization in Uzbekistan, 1929-1932) One of the most important issues that arise from all of these studies is that collectivization was costly and violent event in Soviet history and resulted in millions of deaths; however, even in calculating the violence of collectivization, scholars are conflicted. In a series of short articles by Steven Rosefielde, Stephen Wheatcroft, Robert Conquest, and Stephen Cohen, these scholars debate the question: how many individuals died as result of collectivization? Rosefielde kicked off the debate by utilizing new official census numbers to estimate 5.7 million dead to collectivization, a number within the accepted Western standard deviation;( Excess Collectivization Deaths 1929-1933: New Demographic Evidence) however, Wheatcroft harshly criticizes Rosefielde for taking Soviet statistics at face value and points out that some Western estimates near 20 million, much higher than Rosefielde states.( New Demographic Evidence on Excess Collectivization Deaths: Yet Another Kliukva from Steven Rosefielde) In a rejoinder to Wheatcroft, Rosefielde points out that many of Wheatcroft’s assertions are incorrect because he was looking at the wrong set of statistics; moreover, he states that while his numbers do not solve all debates, they emphasizes that more deaths occurred than the Soviet state attributed to collectivization. (New Demographic Evidence on Collectivization Deaths: A Rejoinder to Stephen Wheatcroft) Dragged into the debate by Rosefielde and Wheatcroft, Robert Conquest and Stephen Cohen both assert that they are misrepresented and that their writings are being used inappropriately to support rather weak positions (Robert Conquest). Ultimately, these scholars fail to reach an understanding concerning the number of individuals who died due to collectivization; however, they do show that the number of deaths is much higher than those admitted by the Soviet state. More, importantly, these historians also depict the difficulty working with Soviet documents as official numbers were never accurate to begin with and often manipulated to serve other purposes. For all intents and purposes, the exact numbers will never be known, but the difference between 5 million and 20 million is important and worth debating. Scholars have been examining collectivization in the Soviet Union for several decades now and each era has brought forth new interpretative frameworks. During the 1960s, the revisionist scholars emerged to challenge the totalitarian model, and they emphasized the debates within the politburo pointing out that collectivization was not inevitable. They also harkened back to Lenin and Trotsky pointing out that collectivization was not a result of Stalin and was not an inherent feature of socialism. However, the revisionists’ depiction of the peasantry as a uniform social unit failed to address the social stratification within the peasantry and the peasants’ reactions to collectivization. (The Question of Social Support for Collectivization,) This led a new generation of scholars to incorporate society into the collectivization narrative. Second wave revisionists continued examining the state, but they also revealed the latitude of local officials to implement collectivization policies; moreover, they showed the interaction between state and society during this process, revealing through state documents some the methods peasants used to protest or resist collectivization. Second wave revisionists also explored the implementation of collectivization beyond the borders of Russia and depicted how the geography, religion, and history of Central Asia resulted in problems not seen in Russia while at the same time displaying many similarities. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening of selected archives, historians have started focusing more on peasant society during collectivization. Using the theories of the subaltern along with James C. Scott’s work on peasant resistance, these studies examine the numerous ways peasants’ resisted collectivization. These studies depict both passive and active forms of resistance and also reveal how the social stratification of the peasantry also played an important role in collectivization. The resistance model challenges the revisionist model that characterized the peasantry as an inert societal unit that did not react to collectivization. However, these studies do continue to treat the peasantry as a singular unit and fail to account for how the regional and local differences affected the collectivization process. This particularly evident in Central Asia where local history, religion, geography led to both similar and different responses to collectivization compared to Russia. Moreover, scholars are now questioning how widespread resistance actually was throughout the Soviet Union. These historians contend some peasants adjusted to the new system by adapting to conditions or many younger peasants moved to larger and towns and cities. These are important issues, but the scholarship on the subject of peasant resistance still requires further research. Ultimately, the history of collectivization from the state’s perspectives is fairly well studied and numerous works mentioned above depict the debate within the Politburo, the defeat of the Rightists, and the implementation of the policies. For future historians seeking to further historical knowledge in collectivization have several open avenues of research. First, while James Hughes has provided an excellent study of collectivization in Siberia, there is room for more regional and local studies which would broaden the research on collectivization. Moreover, this would allow for a more comparative approach permitting scholars to compare and contrast how local and regional differences affected the implementation of collectivization. Secondly, there is much more research needed on collectivization in Central Asia. While the above historians have provided a foundation, these studies provide only a hint of how collectivization was actually implemented. The differing traditions, ethnicities, And religions make this region especially fruitful for future research. Finally, historians need to explore the effect of collectivization on urban centers. As some of the scholars above discussed, collectivization resulted in millions of individuals abandoning the village for larger urban areas, but there is little research describing how the urban centers reacted to this transition. For those scholars interested in understanding the social mobility that occurred as a result of Stalinist practices, the massive population shift that took place during collectivization is still awaiting a historian. Thus, while collectivization has been examined by several scholars, there is still much research waiting to be done which will help historians broaden and deepen our understanding of Soviet collectivization.