Guest Post: Defiance, A Lost Virtue?
by Brandon Smith
It was August 19th, 1920. A military detachment of Red Army soldiers led by Bolshevik authorities steamrolled into the Russian town of Khitrovo to implement a policy known as “Prodrazvyorstka”; resource allocation in the name of national security which led to the confiscation of vital grain supplies and the starvation of millions of peasants. To be sure, multiple excuses were used to rationalize the program, all in the name of the “greater good”. But in reality, Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks saw the farming culture of Russia not as human beings, but as mechanisms for feeding city residents and the army; the power centers of the newly formed Communist government.
This attitude of collectivism (and elitism at the highest levels) and the treatment of the food producing subsection of the populace as slaves to the machine predictably generated the desire for civil unrest and even rebellion. By the time the Red Army had entered Khitrovo, the region was already a tinderbox. After they had taken everything of value and began to beat elderly men in public view as an example to the rest of the town, a war had ignited.
At the height of what was later called “The Tambov Rebellion”, over 50,000 – 70,000 Russian citizens had taken up arms against their oppressive government, including Red Army soldiers who left their posts to join the cause. Vastly outnumbered, and technologically outclassed in every way, the guerilla fighters managed to infiltrate multiple levels of Bolshevik society and government, and had struck debilitating hits against Russian infrastructure. So great was the threat, that Lenin along with Red Army leadership ordered chemical warfare to be used in the forests where guerrillas were thought to be dug in, as well as summary executions of civilians, many of whom were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Concentration camps were built, mostly to house women, children, and elderly people thought to be related to insurgents and to be used as bargaining chips. Eventually, the rebellion diminished, but not before Lenin was forced to end the policy of Prodrazvyorstka along with many other directives that had angered the Russian public.