During the autumn of 1948 and the spring of 1949, that is, on the eve of the Fifth Party Congress and after the Congress, about 1,000 new agricultural cooperatives were formed in Bulgaria. At present there is a total of 1,600 of these cooperatives uniting 147,000 peasant households (13.3 per cent of all households), and 540,000 hectares of land (11.2 par cent of the total cultivated land). Many new members joined the existing cooperatives, enlarging the area of cooperative land. The co-operatives were strengthened organisationally and economically. Hundreds of the cooperatives now operate on the basis of work brigades and work-day units. The present 86 machine-tractor depots give considerable assistance to the cooperative undertakings. Due to these developments, the cooperatives have had extremely encouraging results this year, despite the severe drought. For example, the cooperative in the village of Popovtsi, Asenovgrad Region, secured 4,570 kilogrammes of wheat to the hectare; in the village of Bogdan, Karlov Region, a yield of 4,480 kilos was obtained; in Maritsa, Pasardjishsk Region, 3,970 kilos. In Isperikhovo, Peschersk Region, the cooperative gathered 44,000 kilos of potatoes per hectare; in Katunitsi, Asenovgrad Region. 4,000 kilos of barley per hectare in the Yagodovo, in the same region, 2,100 kilos of sun-flower; in Kartovo Konare, 40,000 kilos of pepper—plant to the hectare, and so on.
These results testify to the great possibilities latent in the agricultural cooperatives, this new form of land cultivation developed by the people’s democratic power.
Our agricultural cooperatives are not, as yet, a socialist type of economy. They represent a transitional form from capitalism to Socialism. These cooperatives include both private and social means of production. The land is private property while the implements, draught animals and other cattle, farm buildings and funds are cooperative, public property.
Consequently, when sharing income, both the work put in and the amount of land pooled by the peasant are taken into account. The owners of the land receive rent which represents part of surplus value. This gives rise to contradictions within the cooperatives. The property-less and poor peasants want a reduction and abolition of rent, while the medium peasants stubbornly insist on the rent being increased. This feature distinguishes our agricultural producer cooperatives from the Soviet collective farms where land is common property and income is distributed exclusivity on the basis of work performed.
The process taking place within the cooperatives testifies both to the development in them of socialist elements and the existence of private-property capitalist elements. Our job is to facilitate the all-round development of the socialist elements and to restrict the capitalist elements.
For the purpose of lowering rent and increasing the payment for work-day units, we began in some places to determine rent not on a percentage basis (the law provides for 20-40 per cent of net income) but in relation to a certain number of work-day units: rent paid per hectare equals approximately payment for 15-40 work-day units. This method restricted the amount paid in rent. However, the medium peasants, non-members of the cooperatives began to show less interest in joining the cooperatives. This called hr very great care on our part, for a gradual lowering of rent so that it should not hinder the medium peasants from coming into the cooperatives. At present, when the land is not nationalised; we cannot switch the working peasantry to cooperative agriculture without paying rent for the use of land.
However, the total rent should not exceed that part of the income earmarked tor payment of the work-day units; nor should it be so inconsiderable as to act as a deterrent to the medium peasant joining the cooperatives.
Accordingly as the social means of production in the cooperatives grow—funds, farm buildings, cattle, implements, etc.—to the extent that socialist industry gains in strength, and the people’s power and the alliance between the working class and poor and medium peasants becomes consolidated, we shall, with the consent of members of the cooperatives, gradually lower rent until it disappears altogether. The abolition of rent will mean, in effect, the nationalisation of land and the creation of the pre-requisites for transforming the agricultural cooperatives into socialist agriculture.
The Bulgarian Communist Party enthusiastically welcomed the decision of the Fifth Congress to reorganise the countryside along Socialist lines. The Congress which worked under the guidance of Comrade Dimitrov, decided that, by the end of the Five-Year Plan, 60 per cent of the total cultivated land should belong to the cooperatives. This decision formed the basis of the Five-Year Plan for agriculture, which foresees over 4,000 producer cooperatives uniting 3,000,000 hectares by the end of 1953. The 1949 target was fixed at 1,500 cooperatives with 400,000 hectares of land. Actually, this target was reached at the beginning of the year. By the end of March we had 1,600 cooperatives with a total of 540,000 hectares. Whole-hearted enthusiasm was observed among the working peasantry. Considerable numbers of medium peasants joined the cooperatives. But, in the conditions of the development of the agricultural cooperatives on a mass scale we committed a number of serious mistakes; we failed to give proper guidance in the matter of organising them, with the result that, in many places, cooperatives emerged spontaneously, without preliminary preparation and sufficient explanatory work. In pursuit of numbers, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Party organisations failed to take account of the necessary personnel, of the technical basis, and failed to estimate correctly the possibilities of the given stage of development. In many places, all who expressed a desire to join a cooperative—officials, artisans and others, people who owned land but who did not work in the venture—were accepted as members. In some cases even kulaks were accepted. The influx brought into the cooperatives many peasants who lacked confidence in the advantages of the cooperatives over individual farming and who, upon encountering the initial difficulties, vacillated.
More serious mistakes were made in the matter of organising the fields for cultivation. In a number of cases, with the aim of making possible the use of agricultural machines and to secure the rational utilisation of man-power it was essential to unite the isolated strips into a single, large field, The law provides for the taking over of strips from the individual households, but only on the indispensable condition that a plot equivalent in size and fertility is made available in exchange; that is, fertile land should be exchanged for land of equal fertility, kitchen garden for kitchen garden, a vineyard, for a similar vineyard, and so on.
Unfortunately, in many villages this absolutely correct law was grossly violated, causing injury to many poor and medium households. The kulak elements took advantage of this and in a number of cases tried hard to win to their side the disgruntled poor and medium peasants and endeavoured to turn them against the cooperatives and the people’s power.
The June Plenum of the Central Committee severely condemned the distortions of Party policy in the sphere of agricultural reorganisation.
The mistakes which were disclosed and condemned by the Plenum were:—
First, violation of the voluntary principle in organising the cooperatives. Comrade Stalin has pointed out in this respect, that any pressure, particularly pressure on the medium peasant, is bound to bring negative results. Frequently, our local organisations did not observe this principle in their work and, in the process of exchanging land, actuality forced peasants to join the cooperatives.
Second, in our haste to form cooperatives we did not pay due regard to the actual possibilities.
Third, many Party branches adopted an incorrect attitude to the poor and medium peasants, and displayed an insufficiently clear class approach to the different social strata in the countryside.
Fourth, the weakness of the rural Party branches which, in many cases, proved incapable of guiding the working peasantry, and tagged along in the wake of events.
In the villages where the land laws were violated and where the enemy was particularly active, the latter succeeded in fomenting strife between cooperative members and individual peasants. This created a certain danger for the alliance between the working class and the poor and medium peasants and, had the distortions not been rectified in good time, might have led to extremely undesirable political consequences. The Plenum mobilised the Party to correct the distortions. Eighty government commissions were set up under the chairmanship of Parliamentary deputies. The Commissions examined the work of all agricultural cooperatives and liquidated the distortions on the spot. Corrupt elements, careerists and kulaks were expelled from the cooperatives. This process is still going on.
The rectification of mistakes helped to strengthen labour discipline in the cooperatives to eliminate the methods of issuing commands and to inculcate methods of collective leadership.
The Plenum also resolved not to organise any additional agricultural cooperatives for some time. Meanwhile, the attention of the Party and the government will be concentrated on securing the organisational and economic consolidation of the existing cooperatives. Serious work is now underway to train cooperative members ideologically and politically and to improve the agro-technical knowledge of the cooperative officials, brigade leaders and other personnel.
The Party is now faced with the task of carrying out the decisions of the June Plenum, to rectify the mistakes that were committed, to consolidate the alliance between the working class and the poor and medium peasants, to continue exposing the kulak elements.
The solution of these tasks will enable us to go ahead firmly and with increased confidence in the great work of reorganising our agriculture along socialist lines.
Workers of all lands, unite!
For a Lasting Peace, For a People’s Democracy!
Bucharest. Organ of the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers’ Parties
NO. 27(54), FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1949