Kulaks (Russian: кула́к, tr. kulak; IPA: [kʊˈlak] ( listen), Polish: kułak) "fist", by extension "tight-fisted"; kurkuls in Ukraine, also used in Russian texts (in Ukrainian contexts) were a category of affluent peasants 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 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.