This document was first published in „Albania Today“- No 4, 1980
and in March, 2010, re- published by the Comintern S-H
By Abdyl Backa – Senior scientific worker
According to the teachings of Marxism-Leninism and the experience of socialist construction the PLA has made it clear that the gradual narrowing and then elimination of the essential differences between town and countryside is a long difficult process, that essentially it is at the same time a process of the elimination of the class distinctions in socialist society.
One of the fundamental problems of socialist construction in Albania, which constitutes at the same time one of the main features of the general line and policy of the PLA, is the gradual narrowing of the essential differences between town and countryside. Implementing the teachings of Marxism-Leninism in a consistent and creative manner, the PLA always has treated this problem in a scientific way, in a sound revolutionary class spirit.
It has defended and further developed Marxist-Leninist thinking in this field, dealing with and resolving its problems in compatibility with the concrete historical conditions of the country, considering them a component organic part of the whole program for the construction and defence of socialism and waging a stern, principled and consistent class struggle against all and sundry obstacles and difficulties, against harmful and alien manifestations of looking after narrow interests and, especially, against the activity of internal and external enemies.
Historical experience shows that the struggle for narrowing these differences is long and difficult, and is carried out on a broad front and in many directions. Experience also shows that this process has an all-sided political, ideological, economic, organizational and social character, that its deepening calls for systematic work and conscious leadership.
An absolutely necessary condition for narrowing the essential differences between town and countryside has been and remains the ceaseless development and consolidation of the cooperativist order in the countryside, the development and strengthening of the socialist collective ownership, its gradual approach ever closer to the socialist ownership of the whole people.
The socialist transformation of the small rural producers has been considered by the PLA a great revolution of historic importance for the life of the peasantry. This revolution also brought about the creation of the economic base of socialism in the countryside. Upon this began the stage of the complete construction of socialist society which, as far as the development of the countryside is concerned, the cooperativist order is ceaselessly strengthened and consolidated, always proceeding on an ascending line. This revolutionary process has always served the strengthening of organization and management of work in agricultural cooperatives, their unification and enlargement, the increase and multiplication of the objects of collective ownership on the basis of socialist accumulation, the strengthening of state aid to and support for the agricultural cooperatives in all the zones of the country, the growing role of industry in the development of agricultural production, the improvement of the socialist relations of collaboration and assistance between town and countryside, the more complete integration of the cooperativist economy into a general and single state plane, the perfecting on the correct road of the relationship of the private plot of the cooperativist, as a particular form of personal ownership, etc. A new step the PLA has taken on the road of the development of the cooperativist order is the creation of the cooperatives of the higher type, which, in regard to the extent of the fund of land can be compared with the state sector of agriculture, collective ownership is strengthened further and a better harmonization of the interests of the cooperativist with the general interests of society has been achieved.
In the revisionist countries, among other things, the socialist order has long been destroyed even there where it had begun to be established. Thus, with the re-establishment of the capitalist system there, capitalist relations became prevalent also in the countryside.
With the re-establishment of the capitalist system in the countryside in the revisionist countries, the old antagonism between town and countryside was reborn, with destructive consequences for the living of the labouring peasantry, for the rural forces of production, for the working class itself and the other working people of the town who, together with the peasantry, are oppressed and exploited by the new revisionist bourgeoisie and international capital.
The narrowing of differences between town and countryside has a material base, which is incessantly strengthened, one which is preceded by the development of social product, the increase of the sources of accumulation and their utilization with high effectiveness. That is why the Party has continuously devoted particular attention to the all-round and rapid development of the forces of production in the countryside, the ceaseless increase of agricultural production in the content of the harmonious development of the national economy as a whole.
It is a great success that over the whole period of our socialist construction social production has increased at an 8.7 per cent average annual rate, or about 3 times more rapidly than the growth rate of the population, that the productivity of social work has shown an increase of about 4 times over, that the norm of accumulation in the utilization of national income has grown gradually from one five-year plan to another, at a time when the consumption fund of the population also has continuously increased at a rate more than twice as high as the growth rate of the population.
But when the problem of narrowing the essential differences between town and countryside is raised, the degree of development of agricultural production must be kept in mind. And this for the reason that, more than 70 per cent of the real income of the peasantry is ensured and a series of economic and social problems connected with the life of the peasantry are resolved on the basis of work in agriculture and of agricultural production. Therefore in the implementation of the economic policy of the Party in agriculture, during the three and a half decades since the establishment of the people's state power, particular care has been shown for the creation of conditions to increase agricultural production at high rates. And it can be affirmed that a true revolution has been carried out in this field.
Today we have a modern agriculture of large-scale socialist production which is progressing ever more rapidly on the road of its intensification. Working in agriculture are several hundred thousands of workers and cooperativists, specialists and cadres of various branches, who are ever better making their own the new achievements of science and technology and continuously raise the level of production by applying them in practice. The material-technical base of production in agriculture has been completed and is ceaselessly being strengthened. With the work of the peasantry and state investments the fund of arable land has increased 2.4 times against 1938, the irrigable area occupies about 52 per cent of the arable land as against 10 per cent before Liberation. In the past year there were 18,300 tractors reckoned in 15 HP, or 4.1 times more than in 1960, with mean work load of 37.6 ha of arable land per one 15 HP tractor. The use of chemical fertilizers has greatly increased, and 145 kg of active matter per ha were used in 1978 as against 2.6 kg in 1950.
In order to supply agriculture with work means, a powerful industry has been set up including the chemical and mechanical engineering industries, the industries of farming machines and construction materials, etc. Our industry produced the first Albanian tractor, it is intensifying the production of various engines, powerful pumps, diverse farming machines, transport means, etc.
The state has set up a series of institutions and organisms of scientific research in the service of agriculture, which engage in finding the ways for raising the fertility of the land, in the production of hybrid and selected seeds, in the breed improvement of the livestock and the ensurement of the fodder base for them, in stepping up mechanization and increasing the irrigable area, etc. About 6,000 cadres with higher education of different profiles and some thousands of cadres with secondary education are working together with the agricultural workers and cooperativists to deepen the technical-scientific revolution in agriculture and ceaselessly increase agricultural production.
The progress of agriculture in Albania always has been basically characterized by rapid development, an appreciable growth of productivity and the improvement of the structure of production all over the country, both in the plains and in the hilly and mountain areas. Last year, total agricultural production was up by about 5 times, bread grain 4.8 times, vegetables over 11 times, tobacco more than 10 times, milk over 3.4 times, etc., against 1938. Today we produce over 50 times more sugar-beet and 10 times more sunflower than in 1950. A great victory achieved by the agricultural workers under the leadership of the Party is the achievement of self-sufficiency in bread grain for four years in succession.
In keeping with the needs of the population and the economy, and the requirements of the intensive development of agriculture, the structure of agricultural production has been improved, giving priority to the steady ensurement of the local production of bread grain and securing the development of a many-branched and correctly harmonized agriculture. On this basis, the consumption of food-stuffs per capita of population and the supply with raw materials for the light industry has continuously been improved, and their export increased. In the meantime, the policy of the Party for eliminating the economic inequality in the distribution of individual products between the working class and the cooperativist peasantry has been observed with consistency and powerful support has been given to the whole course of educational, social and cultural development of the countryside.
The all-round development and modernization of agricultural production, the setting up of many economic enterprises in remote areas, as well as the swelling of the ranks of the working class with dozens of thousands of workers living in the countryside are factors of decisive importance which directly bear on the change in the conditions of work in agriculture and the gradual improvement of the living conditions in the countryside, the revolutionary class education of the peasantry and the strengthening of its socialist stand towards work and social propriety.
The financial policy of our state, the establishment of correct relations of exchange and distribution between town and countryside, between agriculture and industry, as well as their ceaseless improvement on the correct revolutionary road, have played a very important role in narrowing the essential differences between town and countryside.
The objective of the PLA and the measures it has taken have ensured that the financial policy of our state, its relations with agricultural cooperatives, as well as the relations of distribution and utilization of incomes made by the agricultural cooperatives themselves, encourage as much as possible the increase of agricultural production and the consumption by the peasantry, ensure the rational utilization of the social product and the income created, thus giving concrete assistance to the strengthening of the alliance of the working class with the cooperativist peasantry.
Summing up Albania's revolutionary experience in this field, some conclusions of a general character can b drawn.
First, the PLA has shown particular care not only for the setting up of agricultural cooperatives, as the basis for the establishment of socialist relations in the countryside, too, but also for giving them all-round economic and financial assistance for the all-round development and progress of our socialist countryside. Important funds in long-term credits and direct state investments have been assigned to assist the cooperatives in the development of the forces of production. State measures for the development of education and culture, the protection of public health, the development and strengthening of communal services, the development of transport and telecommunications, the electrification of villages, etc., have given a strong boast to the development of the socialist way of life in the countryside. State expenditure made in favour of the peasantry to raise its well-being, and for its all-round progress, have increased from year to year, both in the sphere of production and in the social, cultural and other fields.
The strength of the socialist state made itself felt once more in all its greatness in the all-round assistance it gave the urban and town population engaged in a national labour action taken for the liquidation, in record time, of the consequences of the April 15, 1979 earthquake in the northern districts, where the state spent more than 150 million leks for the construction or repair of more than 17,000 dwelling-houses and social and cultural objects, providing shelter for about 100,000 people.
Second, important sources of accumulation continue to be drawn from agriculture for centralized state funds. This has been and remains an absolute necessity in the interest of society as a whole, in the service of the socialist industrialization of the country, the incessant development and strengthening of the material-technical base of agriculture itself, the improvement of the living conditions of the peasantry in all zones, the socialist development of the country as a whole under the savage imperialist-revisionist blockade and encirclement, as well as in the service of the strengthening of the defence capacity of the Homeland. With confidence in the correctness of the policy of the Party and seeing that the socialist development of the country directly interests the broad working masses of city and country, our peasantry has grown conscious and is ready to give its contribution to the social fund of centralized accumulation, as Comrade Enver Hoxha stresses,
“showing itself at every moment to be endowed with a high revolutionary feeling, considering the directives of the Party its own and defending them” (Enver Hoxha, “On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, p. 653, Alb. ed.).
But the Party has seen to it that the contribution of the peasantry to the centralized state accumulation through the direct channels of drawing income from the peasantry is gradually reduced, through concrete measures. Thus, the decade 1961-1970 the income drawn from the countryside was about 36 per cent down against the proceeding decade 1951-1960. This was achieved by perfecting the procurement prices of agricultural and livestock products, in favour of agriculture and agricultural cooperatives, and by supplying the agricultural cooperatives with means of production, by improving the tariffs of production services for the cooperatives, the tariffs of drawing part of their net income, the system of retail prices for broad consumer goods, etc.
This process was realized step by step, as the socialist economy grew stronger in general, and the specific weight of industry in creating and realizing the total social product and the national income increased. By lowering the income drawn from the peasantry to the centralized state funds, apart from other things, the growth of the accumulation sources in the agricultural cooperatives became possible, the development of extended reproduction in them was stepped up, the collective property was strengthened and the well-being of the peasantry was further increased.
Third, the socialist state, through its financial policy, has drawn part of differential rent from the cooperatives of the plain areas and used it for the strengthening of the cooperatives of the hilly and mountain areas. Through perfecting the relations of exchange with the cooperatives and of distribution and re-distribution of income, the cooperatives of the hilly and mountain areas have become better able to profit about 270 million leks more. Thus, in the hilly and mountain areas tariffs for mechanized work carried out by the MTS are lower than the cost, procurement prices for bread grain and some other products are higher than in the plain areas, chemical fertilizers and some insecticides are sold at a 10 to 15 per cent reduction, about three fourths of agricultural cooperatives have been excluded from taxation on income, some investments and some socio-cultural expenditure in these areas are met by the state, etc.
The correct implementation of this policy has served the economic and organizational strengthening of the agricultural cooperatives of the hilly and mountain areas, the establishment of most correct possible ratio in the creation and utilization of their net product, the narrowing of differentials in the level of income and the way of life in the village, as well as putting the remuneration of the cooperativists' work on sounder bases.
Fourth, as a result of the whole economic policy which the PLA has followed, in the final analysis, the weight of the sources divided into the fund of accumulation and the fund of consumption in agriculture and the countryside in general, as against total national income, has gradually increased. Likewise, the weight of the cooperativists' income (including the income from the private plot) in the entirety of the product for itself in material production is getting ever closer to the weight carried by the cooperativists in relation to the number of the working people of the productive sphere. By proceeding on this road, as Comrade Enver Hoxha stressed, the alliance of the working class with the peasantry is strengthened “not only spiritually, but also economically and materially.” It is a big success of the policy of the PLA that in this all-round process with a profound political, economic and social content, things have gone towards narrowing the “scissors” between the city and the countryside, making a reality of Stalin's prevision about the “scissors” between the city and the countryside growing more narrow as soon as we have the opportunity“ ( J.V. Stalin, Works, vol. 12, p. 49, Alb. ed.)
In the future, the directions of this process will depend on the need for the high rate of development of extended socialist reproduction with our own forces, on the need for keeping a correct ratio between the cooperativist peasantry and the working people of the city in their level of income, as well as among the different social groups within them, on the rate of development of agricultural production and the degree of effectivity of production expenditure and fundamental investments in agriculture, etc. The aim of the policy of the Party is that the cooperativist economy develops always as an organic component part of our whole socialist economy and the objectives it has set itself for gradually narrowing the differences between city and countryside.
Deep-going economic, social and cultural transformations have been made in the Albanian countryside on the basis of socialist relations of production, the development of agricultural production and, as a whole, the impetuous development of the social product of the country, combined with the line and policy of the Party.
In the first place, the labouring peasantry was transformed from an oppressed and exploited class, abandoned to ignorance and misery, without perspectives and support, as it was before the liberation of the country, into a class of labourers freed from all kind of oppression and exploitation, into the cooperativist peasantry linked in steel alliance with the working class under the leadership of the Party, which contributes actively to the construction and defence of socialism in our country, and works for the prosperity of the Homeland, for the flowering and constant progress of the life in the socialist village.
In our country the sure steady rise of the well-being of the population in general has been ensured, giving priority to the increase of the real income in the countryside. The policy of the Party has been that, while not affecting the development of the city, and even assisting it, priority should be given to the raising of the standard of living in the countryside, and has achieved it likewise, without affecting the development of the villages of the plains and the standard of living of the population of these areas, and even raising it at more rapid rates than in the city, that priority should be given to the development of the villages of the hilly and mountainous areas and the uplift of the standard of living of the population of these areas. The consistent implementation of this unaltered course of the policy of the Party has served the strengthening of the unity of the people around the Party, the sound socialist links and relations between industry and agriculture, between the working class and the cooperativist peasantry, between city and countryside.
The increase of the real income in the countryside at higher rates than in the city is also shown by the development of this process in the recent 20 years. Thus, in 1970, as against 1960, the real income per capita in the countryside rose 1.4 times as quickly as in the city, while in the 5th Five-year Plan (1971-1975) it was up 2.4 times and in the 6th Five-year Plan (1976-1980) it has been envisaged to grow about 3 times more rapidly than in the city. By maintaining this ratio, in 1980 the real income per capita in the countryside has been envisaged to reach 80 per cent of the per capita income in the city, as against 60 per cent in 1960, 65 per cent in 1970 and 71 per cent in 1975. In this manner the line of the Party for gradually closing the gap of economic inequality between the cooperativist peasantry and the working people of the city has been successfully achieved. This constitutes one of the major objectives and directions for narrowing the essential differences between city and countryside, in general.
Important changes have also taken place in the structure of consumption and the way of life of the peasantry. The trend towards the increased use of industrial goods, especially such goods as furniture, kitchen utensils, electro-technical appliances, radio and TV-sets, glass and plastic goods, etc., is continuously strengthening. The structure of nutrition of the peasant population is constantly improving, with the increased use of food-stuffs of higher and richer nutritional value for the healthy rearing of children and the protection of public health as a whole.
In the Albanian countryside social, educational and cultural conditions have gradually been created, which are the same or almost the same as those of the city. In 1971 the unified and centralized system of social insurance was established for the cooperativists, which was further completed and improved in 1976, bringing it closer to or making it the same as the system of social insurance for workers and employees. Likewise, the peasantry profits free of charge from all health services, the same as the working people of the city. In every enlarged cooperative there is a health centre, with a doctor carrying out the out-patient clinic service, a maternity home and a children's consultation centre, a stomatological clinic and a pharmacy. Small hospitals have been set up in remote areas for children and grown-ups.
The educational network has been extended to the remotest and smallest hamlets. Compulsory 8-grade schooling has long been carried out in all villages without exception. Middle schools of general and, particularly, agricultural education are widespread. Today there are more than 60,000 students in agricultural schools alone, or twice as many as in all the middle schools of our country in 1960. The whole contingent of the working people that is added each year to agriculture has completed 8-grade and medium schooling. The introduction of qualification norms for the agricultural workers and the cooperativists through a system of cultural and professional certification is another important step. Pre-school institutions, such as creches and kindergartens, etc., have also assumed great extension. There are more than 2,200 creches and 1,800 kindergartens in the countryside.
The all-round cultural development of the countryside is an important process that assists in further narrowing the essential differences between city and countryside. Today in the countryside there are hundreds and thousands of culture homes and centres, museums and museum-homes of history, libraries and bookshops, cinematographic equipment, etc. It is a significant fact that over 60 per cent of the books published in our country go to the countryside, without mentioning the newspapers and magazine. The cultural and artistic activities have become widespread and have grown qualitatively, becoming an important factor for enlivening and developing the life in the countryside, in particular for the youth, for the revolutionary class education of the cooperativists and their ever closer linking with work in agriculture and life in the countryside.
In accord with the orientations of the Party, the general socio-economic development of the countryside has been also accompanied with the creation and expansion of public services. In the countryside there are about 3,800 trade units, which means an average of more than one shop for every village. An entire network of about 7,000 units of communal services under the administration of the cooperatives alone, with about 26,000 people of different professions, such as smiths, mechanics, masons, joiners, tailors, radio-technicians, watch-makers, etc., working in them has been set up.
The complete electrification of villages, accomplished almost ten years ago, became a major factor for the further development and revolutionization of the work in production and socio-cultural activity in the countryside, as well as the way of life of the peasantry, for the improvement of the health of the population and their working conditions. Great improvements have been made in the countryside also in the housing and communal services. Up till 1978 about 180,000 new houses have been built, about 70 per cent of the peasant population is housed, or a population greater than the whole peasant population of Albania in 1938. The extension of the telephone network to all the villages is completed. A whole program is being implemented to link them with motor-roads and to ensure the supply of all the villages with running and drinking water.
All these directions and facts of the economic and socio-cultural development of the countryside and the rising well-being of the peasantry testify to the great strides socialist Albania has taken towards the gradual narrowing of differences between city and country.
As our experience shows, the revolutionary transformation and development of the village together and parallel with the city can be realized only under the socialist social order, where the dictatorship of the proletariat exists and is ceaselessly strengthened, where the socialist relations of production have been established and are perfected on the correct road. In the course of this process, the PLA has fought and continues to fight for the strengthening and deepening of the correct concept that the working class, as the leading class in socialist society, has shouldered the burden of leading the construction of socialism and, in this context, to gradually solve the contradictions inherited from the past. The PLA has continuously worked to implant deep in the consciousness of the working people in general, and the peasantry in particular, a correct understanding of the fact that the narrowing of differences between city and countryside is achieved at work and in the process of production, through organization and constant efforts. Comrade Enver Hoxha stresses that,
“The objective of the Party is to make the life of the people as happy as possible, to ensure a general uplift of their well-being. But it is important for everybody to understand that in order to attain these objectives, the principal factor has been and remains the all-round mobilization of the people of town and countryside to increase socialist production, to increase the productivity of labour, guided by our revolutionary principle that, before making claims on society, one must contribute the maximum “ (Enver Hoxha, Report to the 7th Congress of the PLA, p. 78, Alb. ed.)
According to the teachings of Marxism-Leninism and the experience of socialist construction the PLA has made it clear that the gradual narrowing and then elimination of the essential differences between city and countryside is a long and difficult process, that essentially it is at the same time a process of the elimination of class distinctions in socialist society.
With all the great successes achieved in this field of capital importance for the construction of socialist society, still much remains to be done. Here the question is about the further and vigorous development of the forces of production in industry, agriculture and the other branches of the socialist economy, about placing industry more and more in the service of agriculture, extending the range of fundamental investments and further deepening the intensification of agriculture, perfecting the whole system of relations of production in the countryside and the ownership of the means of production, the exchange and distribution, about attaining a new, higher level in the educational and cultural development of the countryside and its standard of living, as well as in the services for the population.