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This article is on Joseph Stalin’s accomplishments. Despite his well-deserved reputation as the most brutal authoritarian ruler in the twentieth century (with only Hitler or Mao as competition), the Soviet Union was transformed from a peasant society into an industrial and military superpower.

Joseph Stalin’s Accomplishments

Stalin wanted control of the food supply to feed the battalion of workers that would carry out his “Five Year Plan” of rapid industrialization. Communist ideology also had to be enforced, which meant private land ownership had to be abolished. In order to collectivize agriculture, Stalin herded private farmers onto large, state-owned farms where they would supposedly work for the common good instead of private gain. Needless to say, the Russian peasantry resisted. When they did accept collectivization, it resulted in dramatic inefficiencies. Concessions had to be made early on; people were allowed to own tiny plots. By the 1980s it was an open secret that the 2 percent of Soviet farmland that was privately owned was producing 30 percent of Russia’s agricultural output.


At the same time that Stalin forced collectivization, he also revived the campaign against Ukrainian national culture that had been dormant since the early 1920s. It was in Ukraine, which had been forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, that Stalin’s collectivization policy met its fiercest resistance (though the process was largely complete even there by 1932). He decided to deal with what he saw as the problem of divided loyalty in Ukraine once and for all. First, he arrested and jailed thousands of Ukrainian intellectual and cultural leaders. Having deprived Ukrainians of people who might have spearheaded a resistance movement, Stalin then moved against the peasantry, where the real locus of Ukrainian traditions could be found.

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