Don’t Steal from Stalin

“Strengthen_working_discipline_in_collective_farms”_–_Uzbek,_Tashkent,_1933_(Mardjani)

During the New Economic Policy (NEP) overseen by Joseph Stalin, the concept of Collectivization was introduced.  Collectivization was part of the plan of the economic development of what Stalin hoped would be part of the new Russian.

Stalin wanted to install Collectivization because it created a more reliable and steady income of grain supply to help keep all of the Russian people fed and happy.  Before collectivization, peasants each had their own plot of land that they worked and tended to.  Some peasants were more affluent than others and there was a social stratosphere within the peasant population. This micro-social tier within the working class was going against the equalization and communization characteristics that were trying to be instilled in the “new” Russia. Once Collectivization was implemented by Stalin, there was not only a change economically but socially.

The social implications of Collectivization meant that the wealthiest of the peasants had to share their land, tools, crops, etc. with peasants of a lower class.  The wealthiest of peasants were unhappy to give up their land, crops, and tools because they had everything they needed.  They had no incentives to collectivize, thus they fought it.  This was exemplified in the story we read in class about the Kulaks who had to give up their horse for Collectivization.  The story showed how reluctant the family was to give up their horse but did anyway.  There were was a war between the government and these rich peasants (the rich peasants were called the “Kulaks”).  There was mass resistance amongst the peasants leading them to burn their crops and their land so that the government could not get to them.  The goal for the government, in terms of fighting the Kulaks, was to “eliminate” them “as a class”.  The government ended up winning out and as a result the micro-tiers in the peasant class  were eliminated and terrible living conditions floundered from the mess.  Stalin preached that the current conditions were going to be miserable, but promised a better future.

The mass resistance by the peasants against the collectivization movement left the government trying to spread propaganda against the peasants–particularly the Kulaks–and promoting Collectivization. This is where the poster above comes from.  The poster reads: “Strengthen working discipline in collective farms”.  It shows three men in the forefront of the poster–drawn in red and white–and another three men who are trying to sneak away with presumably stolen goods.  There are rows of laboring peasants in the background working in what is a collective farm.  The poster is basically advocating for everyone to adhere to the system of collectivization and not to steal or be lazy.  They have drawn the three men in the forefront (one of whom is stopping one of the thieves) as big, brawny men with work tools to show that they work hard and are exemplifying the proper traits by stopping the thieves.  There are also machines (tractors) in the background of the poster which show the industrialization of Russia and the movement forward technologically as a nation.  The thieves, who sre stealing what looks like gasoline, cigarettes, and another item, are all heavy and drawn in black, portraying them in a negative light to show that what they’re doing is frowned upon.

This poster was from Tashkent,Uzbekistan around the year 1933.  I wasn’t very sure what the language was but after doing some research I found that the language was Uzbek.

This poster is fairly straight forward but told me a lot about the time.  It gave a lot of information and was a good example of the propaganda issued by the government to support Collectivization and proper etiquette on the farms.

Sources:

“Central Asia: Propaganda Show Spotlights Soviet Push in Muslim Lands.” EurasiaNet.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2015.
Fitzpatrick, Sheila. The Russian Revolution. Oxford: New York, 1994. Print.
Nelson, Amy, Dr. “Soviet Union Culture–Collectivization and Industrialization.” Blacksburg. Lecture.
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6 thoughts on “Don’t Steal from Stalin

  1. What a fascinating poster! I notice that the “good” collective farmers are red, while the ones trying to leave are black. Check back on a couple of things though: Tashkent is in Uzbekistan (Uzbek is the language of the poster?), and there are lots of mountains there. But the Urals are far to the north.

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  2. I also notice how they portray the workers with good posture, a strong physique, and also a sense of discipline with how they look at the thieves. The thieves are skewed with ragged clothes and cigarettes and an over all shady look. The poster has some Cyrillic in it, however my best guess whould be Uzbek as well for the poster.

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  3. This was a very interesting post! It shows how the government went to great lengths, whether it be using propaganda or outright war, to eliminate its foes and ensure that is was the only party and the only mindset the nation could follow. The Party wanted the people to share in its ideals whether it be for atheism or collectivization. It did not matter what your stance was on the matter. Either you aligned with the Party, or you were persecuted. Good post and good analysis!

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  4. This poster is very interesting. The color scheme and design are very different but the message is very clear. It’s another mission of propaganda to go and undermine those who are fighting this new system. You pointed out all the meaning behind this very well.

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  5. Great poster to choose. It makes the red “good” workers almost seem like super-heroes in the way that they stop the “bad” workers in black. But was propaganda truly enough to influence the peasants who had just been stripped of land and property like the Kulaks? I think it is fair to assume no if this poster is from 1933, meaning there were problems well after collectivization was forced upon society. What were these people truly motivated by? What were influencing factors that were used in propaganda that actually stuck with the people?

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  6. I really like the poster, and it’s interesting that the colors were chosen so deliberately. It definitely establishes an ideal for the model Soviet worker, and portrays the others as being weak and lacking conviction. The red workers are proud to serve while the black ones are shady.

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