Posted 15 сентября 2021, 16:03

Published 15 сентября 2021, 16:03

Modified 25 декабря 2022, 20:57

Updated 25 декабря 2022, 20:57

Rethinking the Village: Two Attempts Separated by Centuries

15 сентября 2021, 16:03
Валерий Прохоров
The village has always been a "pain point" in Russia. In the Empire 3.0 project, political scientist Valery Prokhorov compares the state approach to the countryside: from the Soviet model of actual plunder and defeat in rights to the driver of the food sector in Russia in the 21st century.

Valery Prokhorov, political analyst

In February 2019, during the announcement of his annual message, Vladimir Putin said: "The key, long-term factor for sustainable agricultural growth, of course, should be improving the quality of life of people, those who work in the countryside." This message of the president has shaped a new discourse - previously, issues of the quality of life of rural residents were discussed not as a priority, but as one of the desirable results of the economic development of agriculture.

The beginning of the second decade of the 21st century drew a line under the complex, sometimes dramatic events that accompanied the transformation of rural life in the modern history of Russia. The transition from the collective farm to the market has inflicted injuries on the village, the consequences of which will have to heal for several more years. Now there is a hope that this process will not be allowed to take its course: large-scale resuscitation measures are planned. All of them are set out in a document called "Comprehensive Development of Rural Areas" and has the status of a State Program, the financing and implementation of which is scheduled until 2025.

The paragraphs of the document are a list of planned activities and control figures that do not always reveal the essence and spirit of the planned transformations. They are quite difficult for an ordinary person to perceive, who, in accordance with the plans of the country's leadership, for the first time in history should become not an instrument for achieving development goals, but their main consumer and beneficiary.

The ideas "sewn" into the state programs for the development of the countryside, implicitly refer the reader to the slogan invented by the Bolsheviks a hundred years ago, calling for "to erase the boundaries between town and country."

Only in 1921, it did not at all mean an attempt to bring the living standards of rural residents closer to the conditional "urban" one.

It was about the so-called "bond" between town and country, or rather, the ideological unification of the proletariat and the poorest peasantry to form the social base of Soviet power. In 1921, this ideological structure was voiced by the leader of the Bolsheviks Vladimir Lenin to theoretically substantiate the transition from the policy of "war communism" to the NEP - a new economic policy that assumed the return of elements of commodity-money relations to the official economy of the country.

The economic reform was forced - the peasantry actively resisted the Bolshevik extortions. Riots broke out in many provinces and were brutally suppressed. In 1921, the forcible confiscation of grain from peasants and difficult weather conditions led to a mass famine, which went down in history as the Famine in the Volga Region. The Bolsheviks managed to overcome the consequences of this famine only with the help of the world community.

The cruel experiments on the peasantry did not end with the abolition of the "war communism" policy. In 1929, Joseph Stalin and his associates launched a campaign in the country to create large collective agricultural enterprises - collective farms. Collectivization was accompanied by the process of "dispossession" - the nationalization of private peasant farms and repressions against their owners. Many thousands of active and enterprising peasants who created, as we now say, "small and medium agribusiness" during the NEP, became victims of dispossession.

Throughout its history, the Soviet Union experienced difficulties in agricultural production. At the same time, the peasantry, although declared by Soviet propaganda to be the "correct" class, nevertheless, until the mid-60s, remained impaired in rights. This also applied to the remuneration of collective farmers, which was made once a year in proportion to the "work days" worked and barely exceeded a third of the wages of a worker in an industrial enterprise; and pension provision - only workers of advanced farms had an acceptable level of pensions; and the opportunity to freely leave the village for the city - the peasants did not have passports until 1974.

Having such a negative historical backgrande, the modern program for the development of the village has gone from a diametric one - first the person and his comfort, then everything else.

Naturally, to solve this problem, the country's leadership attracted a political operator - United Russia - which devoted a large-scale section of its "People's Program" in the elections to the State Duma to the topic of resetting rural life.

The EP program fixes the very fact of adopting a program of integrated rural development, as well as the deployment of a preferential "rural" mortgage program, the allocation of significant funds for the renewal of agricultural machinery, the opening of financing for the construction and reconstruction of social facilities on villages - schools, kindergartens, sports facilities, clubs and libraries.

Over the past decade and a half, agriculture has become one of the drivers of the Russian economy. World-class enterprises appeared in the countryside, advanced agricultural technologies began to be introduced everywhere. At the same time, the village as a habitat is painfully chosen from the patriarchalism of the century before last. Russian society has finally gained an understanding that it is time for the village to pay back its debts, and the villagers should stop feeling like second-class people. As a matter of fact, the section of the electoral program of "United Russia", which is called "Rural Development" - is exactly about this. The high social standards of rural life, which are planned to be achieved as a result of the reset, will inevitably affect the economic results: the best personnel will come to the industry, who will raise it to a new level.