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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1877, from Russian kulak (plural kulaki) "tight-fisted person," literally "fist," from Turki (Turkish) kul "hand."


n. (context historical English) A prosperous peasant in the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union, who owned land and could hire workers.

Kulak (disambiguation)

Kulak or KULAK may refer to:

  • Kulak, a rich Russian peasant
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Kulak
  • Kulak, Hormozgan, a village in Hormozgan Province, Iran
  • Kulak, Sistan and Baluchestan, a village in Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Iran
  • Kulak-e Bordabal, a village in Khuzestan Province, Iran
  • Stu Kulak, a Canadian professional ice hockey player
  • Dariusz Kulak, the drummer of the Polish band Alians (band)
  • Kulak (DC Comics), an evil sorcerer from DC Comics, and enemy of Spectre

Kulaks "fist", by extension "tight-fisted"; kurkuls in Ukraine, also used in Russian texts (in Ukrainian contexts) were a category of affluent landlords in the later Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and the early Soviet Union. The word kulak originally referred to independent farmers in the Russian Empire who emerged from the peasantry and became wealthy following the Stolypin reform, which began in 1906. The label of kulak was broadened in 1918 to include any peasant who resisted handing over their grain to detachments from Moscow. During 1929–1933, Stalin's leadership of the total campaign to collectivize the peasantry meant that "peasants with a couple of cows or five or six acres more than their neighbors" were being labeled "kulaks".

According to the political theory of Marxism–Leninism of the early 20th century, the kulaks were class enemies of the poorer peasants. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin described them as "bloodsuckers, vampires, plunderers of the people and profiteers, who fatten on famine." Marxism–Leninism had intended a revolution to liberate poor peasants and farm laborers alongside the proletariat (urban and industrial workers). In addition, the planned economy of Soviet Bolshevism required the collectivisation of farms and land to allow industrialisation or conversion to large-scale agricultural production. In practice, government officials violently seized kulak farms and killed resisters; others were deported to labor camps.

Usage examples of "kulak".

The son feels stifled by his bourgeois surroundings -- perhaps even by the kind of furniture and the kind of pictures on the walls, of fat kulaks sitting down to their Sabbath meal, a sad contrast with the poverty he sees around him.

Stalin held his monstrous Soviet show trials, committed genocide against the kulaks, and created a forced famine for the Ukrainians when they resisted collectivization.