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By M. Franz

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20 ● Peasants, Political Police, the Early Soviet State conflict within the village itself, a conflict aggravated by the new government. In the spring of 1918, in connection with the growing problem of provisioning the towns, intravillage tensions sharply increased. In Moscow and St. Petersburg the bread ration for a worker had fallen to between 50 and 100 grams a day. The rural poor were also going hungry. 34 The revolution had become a war for bread. In the meantime, for a good part of the peasantry the thirst for additional land remained unquenched.

The political police were tasked with providing the basis for meeting that crucial responsibility, and it is to the police reports that we must now turn. 1 A general peasant uprising, the bête noire of governments in Russia since the seventeenth century, was understood by the party to threaten the very existence of the regime. 2 The first compromise was the replacement of razverstka, the Bolshevik method of grain procurement, with a fixed food-supply tax ( prodnalog) at the 10th Party Congress in March 1921.

82 Once more, the peasants emerged from police reports not simply as uncivilized, ignorant supporters of kulaks, but as rational actors seeking means to negotiate among conflicting political and economic demands. Economic concerns were not the only foundation for peasant dissatisfaction, the political police informed the party leadership. The police also reported peasant discomfort over growing rumors of war. 86 One of the more intriguing reports, one that indicated the mixed reaction of peasants to signs of authority, came from Volga region.

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