Overall, the economic potential of the NEP was cancelled out by several factors: high taxes, lack of trading opportunities. The economic position of the peasantry had seen some improvement with the abandonment of state requisitioning, but even this development was minor. The peasants were almost in the same economic position as they had been during war communism. The NEP was at least a feasible attempt to improve the state of agriculture, and did give peasants some economic freedom.
But, this economic freedom was taken away from the peasantry under Stalin with his policy of collectivisation. This policy forced peasants to live on collective farms, with most the grain being produced being given to towns, over the peasants. This had a severely effect on the peasantry, who started hoarding grain as a reaction against the preferential treatment towards the towns. They refused to produce grain that would not be theirs and successful held ‘the state for ransom’.
This only dragged the country into a deeper famine. NEP could have helped the peasants economically if it was run properly. This was not the case. Problems such as the machines not being available to cultivate the crops when needed meant more peasants had less grain for themselves. The grain that was produced was not split fairly and left many peasants with insufficient grain to feed their families. NEP also meant the recreation of class distinction, however the policy continued despite its shortcomings until .
All the economic freedom achieved since the emancipation were stripped from the peasants, leaving them in a worse position than they were eighty years before. The final problem with collectivisation was Dekulakisation; the class of wealthier independent peasants. In smashing the Kulak class, the peasants were losing the most efficient farmers, thus reducing the amount of grain being produced by the peasants still further. The liquidation of the Kulak class left collectivised farms with the task of improving the peasants’ economic position.
Something it was unable to achieve. Collectivisation undermined any economic freedoms that the peasants had gained. They now had no land, no freedom to trade, and in many cases, not even enough grain to feed their families. Entirely, due to the badly run collectivised farms and the destruction of the class ‘enemy’: the kulaks. Overall, agriculture was completely neglected throughout the Tsarist and Communist regimes. Agricultural policies were simply used to either keep the current government in power or to help achieve ideals the regime had, such as industrialisation.
In many ways, both regimes were equally incompetent and negligent. Both were authoritarian and dictatorial and all policies passed on agriculture had a vested interest. However, during the Tsarist regime, at least some (albeit not all) peasants had their own land that they could live on. During the communist regime, many peasants were forced into poverty by the policies of war communism and collectivisation. At the end of 1950 peasants did not have their own land, and were working for little reward, as the productivity was worse than in 1917.
If the evidence is weighed up on the scales: the peasants’ economic position stayed much on the same level as before emancipation. However paradoxically, they received more benefits economically by the Tsarist regime than the Communist regime. The Tsarist regime needed the peasants subside revolutionary sentiment and sustain power. Collectivisation under the communist regime destroyed all economic gains the peasants had achieved throughout both regimes. Why was NEP abandoned?