DECEMBER 30, 1959
NEW YORK—In one of our local newspapers on Monday there was an editorial on Soviet agriculture, and it was interesting to me because when I was in Russia last I learned a little about the two kinds of farms that make up the Soviet agricultural picture.
The first kind of farm over there is the state farm; the other is the collective farm.
It was my feeling that the state farms would run the risk of attracting those who wanted security and who did not want to exert themselves too greatly. For example, the manager of the farm, along with his deputies, was responsible for what happened on the farm. He employed the help and paid their salaries. The farm was not their responsibility, and their pay would be the same whether they managed to do little work or a great deal. These hired hands also were being allocated small, new houses, which were being built at the time I was there, and each house had a small amount of land around it which the occupant used as his own. After he had stocked what produce he grew as his own, he could sell the remainder in the little open markets in the cities. And his prices might be a little higher than in the government-controlled stores.
The regular collective farm is different. The workers on these elect the heads of the collectives. And while each worker knows that the head is responsible for policies, it is his work, as one of the members, that will produce a small or a large harvest. And since he shares with all the others he will get more if the harvest is good and he will get less in poor years. Thus, he does not escape the ordinary risks of farming, but he does have the opportunity, if he works hard, to earn a higher income than the man who gets a regular salary on the state farm.
Therefore, it seemed to me that the collective farm would produce better because of the greater personal incentive.
This, however, according to the newspaper article I have just read, does not seem to be the case. Now, apparently, at its most recent meeting the Central Committee decided that the Communist party will have to exert coercion through groups to be created on each collective farm. And we also can suppose the same will be done on state farms.
It is very important to the Soviet authorities to develop an agricultural system that will give their people a better life than they have been accustomed to thus far, but whether coercion will do it remains to be seen.
For esthetic reasons alone, one could not blame the statesmen for looking forward with evident pleasure to their summit meeting in Paris in May. I can think of no more ideal spot.
The chestnuts will be out along the Champs Elysees. Flowers will be everywhere. And one hopes that even Premier DeGaulle will be influenced by the beauty of his city and become more tractable.
Will anything really be accomplished?
That is something we will not know until perhaps more than one summit meeting has been held. But we can hope; and we can keep our minds open and our heads clear. For we must not be fooled by blandishments and yet we must not miss any chances for real understanding and real progress in the solution of the world's difficult problems.