Ukrainian Village on the Eve of Disaster: Epistolary Self-portrait (1926-1928)

Keywords: Ukrainian post-revolutionary village, Ukrainian SSR, NEP, history of everyday life, history of mentalities, peasants’ letters, history of the Ukrainian press


The purpose of the research paper is to call into question the notion that the Ukrainian post-revolutionary village was a backward, illiterate, apolitical brake on social progress.

Scientific novelty. The author offers an alternative to the long tradition of studying the consciousness of the Ukrainian peasantry according to documents, materials and narratives of the Communist Party leaders, Soviet officials, the communist press and departmental statistics.

An attempt was made to recreate the mental map of the village and the value system of the Ukrainian peasantry based on the texts of the peasants themselves. Aptitude, wit, colorfulness, practicality of the peasant's thought and the peasant's word are demonstrated.

Conclusions. Analysis of peasants’ letters to the newspaper ‘Soviet Village’ in 1926-1928 allows the author to state that the Ukrainian post-revolutionary village was: totally Ukrainian in its language, culture and outlook; masculine; deeply individualistic; modernized at the level of operational activity and patriarchal psychologically; full of self-respect; hardy; disadvantaged and ironic; anti-communist; anti-Moscow; loyal to the state and at the same time hypercritical of it; with his own vision of the necessary changes.

Summarizing the numerical suggestions of several hundred peasant correspondents shows a well-thought-out program of demands, a kind of peasant constitution. Its main provisions: rejection of the «class principle» in taxation; rejection of the «price scissors» policy and return to an economically justified price policy; abolition of the state monopoly on foreign trade; proportional representation of workers and peasants in all authorities; real implementation of the announced general primary education program, wide access to secondary and higher education; actual implementation of the Ukrainization of the administrative apparatus.

The confrontation between the poor and wealthy part of the peasantry was not a ‘class struggle’ of rural communards against the world of capital. At the root of the enmity of the poor towards the ‘kurkuls’ was the desire to expand their land use and become full-fledged owners themselves. Since the spring of 1928, in the face of full-scale state terror, the village united and showed open hostility to the Communist authorities. Anticipation of war and a «new revolution» became widespread.


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How to Cite
LyakhS. (2023). Ukrainian Village on the Eve of Disaster: Epistolary Self-portrait (1926-1928). Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal, (3(43), 221-238.
Modern History