election law, the Agrarian Union won 212 of 245 parliamentarynseats in April 1923 and was on the verge ofnestablishing a revolutionary peasant dictatorship. However, anmilitary coup occurred in June, and Macedonian nationalistnopponents captured Stamboliiski (an internationalist andnfriend of Dragoljub Jovanovic, head of Serbian Agrarians)nand cut off his head.nIn its early years the International Agrarian Bureau innPrague — the center of the emerging “Green International”—nhad a Pan-Slavic “racial” emphasis. Some leadersnalso emphasized the peasant parties’ place as a “thirdnforce,” the alternative to both decadent bourgeois liberalismnand Bolshevism, a claim with distinct fascist echoes. That,nhowever, did not prevent many of them (Stjepan Radic, ofnthe Croatian Peasants’ Party, or Serb Dragoljub Jovanovic)nfrom contacting Moscow, in search of cooperative action.nAfter 1925, though, the Green International abandonednspecific ethnic identity and antidemocratic sentiments andngave emphasis to the regenerative power of peasant democracy.nWhile the Bureau’s central authority remained weak,nits appeal broadened and a new array of peasant partiesnentered the fold. By 1929, member parties were fromnBulgaria, Estonia, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland,nRumania, Gzechoslovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia,nFrance, Lithuania, Poland, and Austria. Representing anmovement stretching “from the Atlantic Ocean to the BlacknSea, from the Arctic Ocean to the Aegean,” the GreennInternational laid claim to being “a new force … in thenfield of social reform, an enormous but powerful force,ndesiring only the peaceful development of peoples,nstrengthening the foundations of society — the agriculturalnpopulation.”nIf anything, the movement probably suffered from annexcess of democracy. (Stjepan Radic, the charismatic Croat,nso filibustered the Yugoslav parliament that he was shot inn1928 by an opponent, thus forcing King Alexander tonintroduce a military dictatorship.) Like their cousin agrariansnin America, the European “Greens” believed thatnpeasants were “natural democrats,” whose simple wisdomnwould be best projected through the most democratic ofnprocesses. For this reason, the Greens regularly endorsednthe extensive use of the plebiscite, the recall, and thenreferendum.nDespite this popular strength, consistent policy program,nand democratic orientation, some still doubt that thenEuropean agrarians could have sustained large communitiesnof family farms filled with good, virtuous people, neithernliberal nor Red. George Jackson Jr., the foremost Americannhistorian of the peasant movement, notes that while thenGreens did hold a number of ministries in coalitionngovernments during the 1920’s, their only experience innone-party rule — Bulgaria — proved disastrous. He laysnblame, in part, on the personal weaknesses of the agrariannleaders, their inexperience, their thirst for the trappings ofnpower, and their frequent lack of vision. Jackson also citesnthe complete failure of the Greens to survive their firstneconomic and political crisis. As the Eastern Europeanndemocracies withered after 1929, the parties generallynproved unable to rally the peasantry for any political actionnother than voting. Unlike the Comintern in Moscow whichncontrolled Communist parties in other lands, the GreennInternational in Prague had no real power and provednunable to coordinate a response to new challenges.nMore broadly, the peasant parties never confronted theirnreal dilemma: how to be both modern and peasant. In theninterwar period. Central and Eastern European farms weren”overpopulated,” even by fairly rustic technological standards.nIn some countries, a near majority of the farms werentoo small to sustain a family. “Green” plans for the ruralneconomy included subsidized research and the introductionnof modern farming techniques, actions that could onlynaggravate the demographic situation and result in stillngreater migration from farm to city. It is clear that extensiven”rationalization” of these rural economies was inevitable, ifnthey were to compete with capital-intensive farms on theninternational market. It would have taken a combination ofnhigh agricultural tariffs, heavy governmental subsidy, strictnlaws discouraging land sales and farm consolidation, andndirect or indirect constraints on power equipment and othernnew technologies to keep the European flatiands predominantlynpeasant. These proposals were not on the Greennagenda in 1929 and probably would not have commandednmuch popular support. By 1933, in any case, it was too late.nIf the peasant parties had survived in democracies, it maynhave been on the less inspirational model of Sweden’snbondeforbundet, or Farmer’s Party. OfHcially aloof from thenGreen movement in the 1920’s, the party avoided mostnaspects of peasant mysticism and instead acted as an interestnIronically, it was the Red Army which creatednconditions that allowed some aspects of the Europeannpeasant mentality to survive into our time: annantimodernity engendered by political protest and bynthe inefficiency of the central planners and thentechnological incompetence of socialism. From Estonianto Albania, peasants still till the soil in primitive waysnand sustain a degraded folk culture amidst “scientificnsocialism.”ngroup. It was always available as a coalition partner for thenright deal: price supports for farm products. In this guise,nthe Farmer’s Party joined as a junior partner with the SocialnDemocrats in the 1930’s and again in the 1950’s, helpingnthe SD gain power and achieving many of the goals soughtnby continental European agrarians.nIronically, it was the Red Army which created conditionsnthat allowed some aspects of the European peasant mentalitynto survive into our time: an antimodernity engendered bynpolitical protest and by the inefficiency of the centralnplanners and the technological incompetence of socialism.nFrom Estonia to Albania, peasants still till the soil innprimitive ways and sustain a degraded folk culture amidstn”scientific socialism.”nIn the West, we see a new “Green International,” thenpartisans of which talk about nature and farms but embraceninstead a new sort of radical politics: part feminist, partnanarchist, and wholly destructive of authentic tradition. It isna poor legacy for a once honorable, if unfulfilled, politicalnlabel that sought to preserve man’s relationship to God,ncountry, soil, and soul.nnnFEBRUARY 1988 / 31n