An economic abstraction has become a matter of life and death to four million Russians. Ever since the Soviet triumph of State over Church, cartoon and rhetoric have obscured the fact that the fundamental issue revolves on the extermination of a class. The emphasis on material possessions as the criterion of equality or inequality has led Soviet Russia to decree the destruction of the Kulaks, or rich peasants. This class, according to instructions, must not exceed three per cent of the entire Soviet Union or, more accurately, four million peasants. With hunger and exile awaiting those who are subject to this decree, it is a vital question to determine exactly what are the specifications for "Kulakdom" as distinguished from the "middle" peasantry.
From the general principles laid down by the central authorities it becomes evident that a Kulak would be a "poor farmer" in the United States or Germany. Over the breadth and sweep of Russia, conditions are variable. To accord with these varying conditions, a Kulak has been defined by law as a peasant who uses hired labor or machinery, who rents house or room, leases land or orchard, or engages in trade, speculation, "or any other source of non-productive income, including income as religious or secular employees of churches."
Outside of the doubtful advantages of such a whole-hearted vengeance on aristocracy and individuality, the law has carried in its wake numerous atrocities in which even "poor" peasants were classed as Kulaks and driven from house and home. Through the veil that shrouds Soviet Russia from the world, these glimpses reveal a governmental experiment of great magnitude. Whether another "noble experiment" or a distastrous reaction, it a waits the verdict of history.