* Cf. Marx's article of 1846 printed below. (See pp. 323-29 of this volume. --Ed.) [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Marx on the American 'General Redistribution'". -- DJR]
and proletarian methods of struggle among the farm-hands and day-labourers.
The petty-bourgeois stratum of the rural population, the peasantry in the strict and narrow sense of the word, cannot help being revolutionary at certain periods in history. Its present revolutionary attitude is an inevitable product of the conditions of the "old order", and we must vigorously support and develop it. But it will follow just as inevitably from the conditions of the new order, of the new, free, capitalist Russia, that part of the rural petty bourgeoisie will side with "order"; and the more land the peasants take away from the landlords now, the sooner this will come about. In the countryside, too, only the rural proletariat can be a truly revolutionary class, a class that, under all circumstances, is revolutionary to the end. The conversion of the wretched, downtrodden muzhik into a free, energetic European farmer will be a tremendous democratic gain; but we socialists shall not forget for a moment that this gain will be of no real use to the cause of mankind's complete emancipation from all oppression unless and insofar as the farmer is confronted by a class-conscious, free, and organised rural proletariat.
The liberal landlords keep quiet about the rural worker. As far as the future farmer is concerned, their sole concern is to get him converted as quickly as possible, with the minimum loss to their pockets (it would, perhaps, be more correct to say with the maximum gain to their pockets), into their ally, into a man of property, a pillar of order. What miserable sops they hope to get off with! Their only revolutionary measure, the confiscation of the royal demesnes, is restricted to a part of these lands; they are afraid to call confiscation confiscation, and say nothing about the church lands. While promising supplementary plots to the land poor, they firmly insist on redemption, with not a word about who should make the redemption payment. They obviously take it for granted that the peasant will pay, as in the case of the famed redemption of 1861. The landlords will give up their worst lands at exorbitant prices, which is what their supplementary endowments promise. All the measures they propose in regard to credits, co-operation, exchange of lots, etc., are restricted entirely to narrow proprietary
interests. With regard to leases -- one of the most acute problems of peasant farming -- they offer nothing but the vaguest of catchwords -- "regulation". This may mean any thing at all, even an increase in rents, on the pretext of standardisation; we indicated above what the representatives of the ruling classes have always understood by "order".
However, the most important and politically most dangerous feature of the liberal programme is, in our view, the clause concerning the "public and state mediation commissions". The method of realising the agrarian reform is a matter of great importance; for on the method of realisation, concretely and actually, will depend the earnest character of the reform. In regard to this question too (as in regard to many others), we have the Narodniks to thank when we pay the main attention to the economic advantage, ignoring or underestimating the political aspect of the matter. This point of view, natural in a petty bourgeois, understandable in a farmer, is absolutely inadmissible in a Social-Democrat. To the Social-Democrat shifts within the classes and categories of farmers and proprietors are of no consequence unless accompanied by a political gain that facilitates the class struggle of the proletariat. From the point of view of petty-bourgeois day-dreaming, all schemes for "equalised tenure", etc., are important. From the point of view of the Social-Democrat, all such projects are idle and harmful day-dreams that divert the public mind from the realities of real democratic gains. The Social-Democrats will never forget that the ruling classes always and everywhere try to divide and corrupt the working people with economic sops. In the sphere of agrarian reform they find this policy particularly easy and pursue it with particular skill.
All the more definitely and emphatically must we insist on the basic demand of our agrarian programme, namely, the establishment of revolutionary peasant committees. that will themselves enforce really radical (not in the landlords' sense "radical") agrarian reforms. Short of this, every agrarian reform will inevitably and inescapably be a new fraud, a new trap, like the famed "Reform" of 1861. This is precisely what the "public [?] and state mediation commissions" are -- the laying of a trap! By "public" we understand the landlords; by "state" -- the bureaucrats. "Public and state
commissions" means landlords' and bureaucrats' commissions pure and simple.
That is the point on which we must immediately focus our agitation in the countryside. Peasants, do you hear? They want once again to load you with benefits in true bureaucratic manner, to "regulate" your life by landlord intervention, to "redeem" land for you on the pattern of that old-time land redemption of dismal memory! The landlords are so kind, so very kind: seeing that their lands are in danger of being taken away for nothing, they magnanimously consent to sell them‹at a suitable price, of course. . . . Do you agree to such intervention on the part of landlords and bureaucrats? Or do you want to intervene yourselves and build up a life of freedom for yourselves? Then unite with the urban proletariat, fight for the republic, arise for the insurrection which will bring you a revolutionary government and revolutionary peasant committees!