I’ve been haunted by the ghosts of the Kulaks recently.
Under Lenin and Stalin the Soviet Socialists had a strange policy in a history of strange policies: “Death to the Kulaks!” Death to the rich peasants. Rich peasants? Why is a revolution for the proletariat – the poor – attacking peasants? Perhaps a couple of million were killed under Lenin. More under Stalin
Kulak is a meaning-free word that communicates extreme disapproval. Like the union term “scab” it really just expresses hate. Or rather the conotation of extreme dislike is elevated over the denotation of non-union worker. Kulak is from the word for fist. Perhaps because they were tight-fisted with their money and property. Kulaks were farmers who owned their own property. And with their small farms they could earn a little money and have an employee or two. Although what the Soviet Socialist state called their employees were usually their wives and children. These were the people to whom Aristotle referred when he said “Democracy is the rule of men of modest means.” These were the Russian version of the yeoman farmers of whom Thomas Jefferson rhapsodized.
I used to make an ill-considered joke: I said I was Marxist enough to believe everyone should own the means of production. It is true that Marxists are obsessed by the mechanical means of production and that it is prudent to own tools or farm lands or professional knowledge. It is false, though, in that such means of production are forbidden to the people. Upon pain of death. The Kulaks and factory owners had what the State claimed only for itself in the name of the people as a whole. [Nota bene, under Marxist theory the “people” never refers to a person. It is an intellectual construct which can only be invoked by the aristocracy.] Under Lenin the Soviet Socialists “collectivized agriculture.” They stole the land and parceled it out again for use as government property. This did involve under Lenin, the Good Dictator, killing about 2,500,000 Kulaks. So few because Lenin stroked out before he got things really running. Stalin killed more.
Why is this coming to mind? For years the Democrat Party has been fulminating against millionaires. OK. John Kerry in his run for the presidency defined millionaires as those who made $250,000 gross because they would eventually be millionaires. Last year Mr. Obama tried to make the very rich those with a gross income of $150,000 per year. This triggered consternation because it includes pretty much every small businessman. An independent trucker owns a $150,000 truck. With fuel, insurance, truck loan and expenses such a person makes over the newest limit in gross income. Net income is more like $40,000. Small farmers own land. Large mortgages, seed costs, farm equipment…. Almost every farmer is now considered rich, what was aimed at millionaires, while barely scraping by. A few years of inflation and this would classify every poor independent businessman as wealthy. These are the American kulaks.
Now American socialists are attacking our own kulaks? What is it with socialists and small business owners and farmers? Were they really concerned about wealth the Democrats would target wealth. Idle rich. Bill Gates. The Heinz fortune. But wealth is not taxed, just gross income.