English Enclosures and Soviet Collectivization on Feed 44

C4SS Feed 44 presents “English Enclosures and Soviet Collectivization” from the book Markets Not Capitalism, written by Joseph R. Stromberg, read by Stephanie Murphy and edited by Nick Ford.

The English enclosures, standing as they do as a centerpiece in the ongoing Optimist/Pessimist debate over the industrial revolution, will be the first instance of agrarian “collectivization” or consolidation discussed in these pages. A brief aside on Latin American latifundismo will precede the treatment of another significant model of agrarian change: Soviet collectivization as a bureaucratic enclosure movement. The comparison of the English enclosures with Soviet collectivization should yield interesting insights into how – or how not – to reform an agrarian sector. To anticipate a bit, it may be that neither [p. 33] collectivization for a commercially active minority (the English example) nor enclosures directed by bureaucracy (the Soviet example), with its disturbing resemblances to the Asiatic mode of production,12 provide an ideal path to modernization, at least if peasant interests and aspirations are given any weight as against competing goals such as rate-of-growth or the retention of power by political elites.

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