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Martin McCauley, whose Doctorate (PhD) was on Soviet Agriculture, will talk about his experiences of visiting kolkhozes and research institutes in various republics during the 1960s and 1970s. 

Socialism to Stalin meant anti-capitalism, so when he launched his industrialisation drive in 1928 it was inevitable that he would eliminate capitalist agriculture. This was a political decision, and not an economic one. It involved forcing 120 million peasants into collective farms (kolkhozes). This led to famine and destruction of property and livestock. Gradually kolkhozniks accepted the reality of the new system, but labour productivity dropped. The result was that agriculture was never capable of feeding the Soviet population adequately and this led to imports of food and fodder even under Stalin, but in much larger quantities later. In 1978 China’s Deng Xaioping saw through the fallacy of collectivisation and reverted to capitalism. The rest is history.

Russia today is the world’s leading grain exporter and has greatly increased output in other sectors as a result of Western sanctions. Capitalist agriculture has thus enjoyed a renaissance.


Martin McCauley, brought up on a family farm in Northern Ireland, had a commercial background both in Agriculture and as a Quantity Surveyor in the Building Industry  before, as a mature student, gaining first class honours in Russian Regional Studies at SSEES. His Doctorate (PhD) was on Soviet Agriculture, and as a member of staff at SSEES  he progressed to Senior Lecturer in Russian Government and Politics, and Head of the Department of Social Sciences. He acted as a business consultant in the Gorbachev era, and has regularly visited China, promoting educational exchanges and trade. As a long term student of Soviet and Russian agriculture, Martin McCauley has written extensively on the subject. His latest publication is “The Cold War 1949-2016” (Routledge 2017). At present Christopher Lee and he are writing a trilogy of thrillers on contemporary international relations.

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