When I read about Ed Milliband doing a Khrushchev by promising price controls, I winced. The economic illiteracy of these people is shocking. More importantly, the entire great unwashed herd of morons who applauded it are also part of this shock. It is true that you can fool some people all the time.
Here’s a fascinating dissertation review which I read recently. I quote:
Berg captures an episode in postwar agrarian politics that is little known to non-specialists: the 1950-51 collective farm amalgamation campaign in which the number of soviet collective farms shrank from 252,146 to 99,400 farms. The significance of this campaign to the central administration of collective farms was immeasurable. While until 1950 the vast majority of collective farms were organic village communities, which Sheila Fitzpatrick calls “collectivized villages” (Stalin’s Peasants: Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village after Collectivization [New York: Oxford University Press, 1994], pp. 10-16, 103-127), most post-amalgamation farms (87.4%) consisted of two to four former farms and some combined as many as ten farms. The new amalgamated collective farm stretched for kilometers on end, often with swamps, forests and rivers separating communities within the same farm. Berg writes of collective farms stretching for four hundred kilometers (p. 165), chairmen who complained that the terrain of their newly constructed farms was impassable in spring and fall and they could not acquire information about the other villages, let alone visit them (p. 194). Needless to say these new collective farms could no longer hold general meetings, discuss and make decisions as one community. Farm chairmen governed populations they did not know and field brigade leaders acquired responsibility over workers working in distant fields.
What brought about this strangely destructive policy? Berg uses James Scott’s concept of authoritarian high modernism to explain the drive to amalgamate collective farms. According to Scott modern states simplify the complexity of the real world in order to make societies governable. Indeed, Berg shows that as early as 1935 district officials complained that the enormous number of collective farms per district made governance impossible. Some were attempting to administer as many as four hundred collective farms (pp. 40-41). Berg shows that until 1950 provinces lacked coherent maps of the districts’ agricultural lands and regional leaders did not know the number of cattle of each farm. Planners designed the amalgamation campaign to render the countryside more “legible” by correcting boundaries between farms, reducing the number of farms and thus the amount of paperwork, and making surveillance of collective farm administration easier. Moreover, a modernist vision propelled the Bolsheviks since the early 1920s to push for larger farm. After all, larger farms were thought to be more prosperous for they used agricultural machinery more efficiently, the state could provide services such as schools, postal deliveries, electricity and radio cheaper. Of course, a smaller number of farms also allowed the state to send “reliable leaders” from the center rather than relying on local chairmen which collective farmers preferred. Berg shows, however, that a combination of political intrigue, lack of resources and collective farmers’ resistance made the amalgamation campaign less than successful.
Having voted Labour 4 times, I very regretfully and holding my nose voted for the Tories last time. And if this moron Red Ed keeps on making such stupid pronouncements and having a policy that has come out of the proverbial backside of an equine, then next time as well the Tories will get my vote.