of the small farmers against the large-scale slave-owning estates in America, for freedom of the soil and for the abolition of private property in land in America.
Was Marx's trend of thought in agrarian policy correct? It was correct, esteemed Comrade Maslov -- who has "revised" the theory of absolute rent in the spirit of bourgeois economics, but has not had time to "revise" the rest of Marx. A bourgeois revolution in the agrarian sphere can be consistent and really victorious only when it forcibly and drastically abolishes all feudal property, when it wipes
out all previous property in land, and instead creates a basis for the new free bourgeois property in land, adapted to the requirements of capital and not of the landlords. Nationalisation of the land is fully in keeping with the trend of such a revolution. Moreover nationalisation of the land is the only measure which ensures that such a revolution takes place with the greatest consistency thinkable in capitalist society. There is no other means so resolutely and painlessly to liberate the peasants from the "ghetto" of allotment property. There is no other means to destroy the old rotten village commune without police, bureaucracy and money-lender.
Viewed objectively, the question presents itself in the Russian bourgeois revolution in the following way, and only in the following way: will Stolypin (i.e., the landlords and the autocracy) adapt the old form of landed property to the requirements of capitalism, or will the peasant masses themselves do it by overthrowing the power of the landlords and the tsar? In the first case, adaptation is only possible by means of reforms, i.e., by a half-hearted, long dragged-out process, involving a much slower growth of the productive forces, the least possible development of democracy condemning Russia to the prolonged supremacy of the Junker. In the second case, only a revolutionary adaptation is possible, i.e., one which forcibly sweeps away the landlords' estates and ensures the most rapid possible development of the productive forces. Is that revolutionary abolition of landlord property thinkable if the old allotment property of the peasants remains? No, it is unthinkable -- and the peasant deputies in both Dumas demonstrated that it was impossible. They demonstrated this by creating a political type of peasantry representative of all Russia in the period of the bourgeois revolution: the Trudovik type, who demands nationalisation of the land.
In shouting about the S.R. character of nationalisation, Maslov is repeating the old tactic of the Mensheviks: while themselves flirting with the Cadets, to accuse the revolutionary Social-Democrats of coming closer to the Socialist-Revolutionaries. People coquette with the liberal-monarchist landlords and merchants, but are indignant that the revolutionary Social-Democrats in a bourgeois
revolution want to march together with the revolutionary peasant bourgeois. Nor is that all. Thundering against the S.R. character of nationalisation, Maslov demonstrates his complete incomprehension of the Marxist analysis of the Narodnik views and aspirations of the Russian peasantry. Maslov does not understand that the Social-Democrats in Russia were long ago pointing out the reactionary nature of the socialist, or rather quasi-socialist, theories or dreams of a reallotment of the land (the general redistribution), etc., and the bourgeois progressiveness of this ideal in present-day semi-feudal Russia. Beyond the S.R.s' petty-bourgeois phrase about socialism, Maslov is incapable of discovering the bourgeois reality -- namely, revolutionary struggle against all the old medieval rubbish. When a Socialist-Revolutionary talks about equalised land tenure, socialisation of lands, etc., the Socialist-Revolutionary is talking balderdash from the economic point of view, he is revealing his illiteracy in the sphere of economic science and the theory of the development of capitalism. But behind these phrases, behind these dreams, is hidden a live and highly realistic content -- not at all a socialist one, however, but a purely bourgeois content, namely, clearing the ground for capitalism, abolishing all medieval and social-estate barriers existing on the land, and the creation of a free arena for capitalism. That is what our poor Maslov can't get himself to understand -- and this is directly connected with the fact that Maslov cannot understand Marx's doctrine of absolute rent, which, unlike differential rent, can be abolished in capitalist society, the development of which will be advanced by its abolition.
Incapable of fighting the S.R.s, Maslov vulgarises Marxism, condemning himself only to contemplation of the "rear aspect" of the peasant, who is shackled to his plot of land, and is quite unable to understand the democracy and the revolutionary bourgeois spirit of the peasant who wants to sweep away both landlord property and allotment property in the soil.
Incapable of fighting the S.R.s, Maslov surrenders to them, to the petty-bourgeois socialists the criticism of private property in land. That criticism from the point of view of the development of capitalism, was given by Marx
and should be given by Marxists. But in cutting himself off from that road by his denial of absolute rent, Maslov capitulates to the S.R.s, admitting in theory that they are right -- when it is Marx who is right! He capitulates to the S.R.s, who criticise private ownership of the land in a petty-bourgeois way, not from the point of view of the development of capitalism, but only from the point of view of delaying its development. Maslov has not understood that the mistake of the S.R.s in their agrarian programme begins after nationalisation, i.e., when they go on to "socialisation" and "equalisation" and reach the point of denying a class struggle amongst the small peasantry. The S.R.s do not understand the bourgeois character of nationalisation: that is their principal error. And let any Marxist who has studied Capital tell me, is it possible to understand the bourgeois character of nationalisation when one denies the existence of absolute rent?
Furthermore, Maslov says that I am turning all petty peasant property throughout Europe into medieval property. Quite untrue. In Europe there is no "allotment" property in land, nor are there barriers deriving from the medieval ranks of society: there exists free and capitalist, not feudal, property in land. In Europe there is no peasant movement against the landlords supported by the Social-Democrats. P. Maslov has forgotten all this!
Let us go on to the political arguments. My argument that the municipalisation advocated by the Mensheviks is bound up with the idea of compromise with the monarchy is described by Maslov as an "insinuation" and a "deliberate lie" -- but then how about my textual quotation from the speech of the Menshevik Novosedsky, Comrade Maslov? On whose side is there a lie? Isn't the real trouble that you want to use terrible words to wipe away the unpleasant fact of Novosedsky's admission?
Handing over the land to the municipalities increases their chances in the fight against a restoration, asserts Maslov; but I permit myself to think that only the strengthening of a central republican authority can seriously impede reaction, whereas the dispersal of its forces and resources among various regions facilitates the work of reaction. We must strive to unite the revolutionary classes,
and first of all the proletariat, of the various parts of the state into a single army, and not dream of a hopeless, economically impossible and senseless federalist attempt to hand over revenues from confiscated lands to the various regions. "Choose, Polish comrades," says Maslov: "Should a Polish Sejm receive the revenues from confiscated lands, or should these revenues be handed over to the Russians in St. Petersburg?"
A magnificent argument! And, of course, not a hint of demagogy in it! No confusion of the agrarian question with the question of Polish autonomy!
But I will say: the freedom of Poland is impossible without the freedom of Russia. And that freedom will not be achieved if the Polish and Russian workmen do not do their duty of supporting the Russian peasants in their struggle for nationalisation of the land, and in carrying that struggle to complete victory in both the political sphere and the agrarian. Municipalisation and nationalisation should be evaluated from the point of view of the economic development of the centre of Russia and of the political destinies of the country as a whole, and not from the point of view of the specific features of any particular autonomous national territory. Without the victory of the proletariat and the revolutionary peasantry in Russia, it is absurd to talk about genuine autonomy for Poland, the rights of municipalities and so forth. They become empty phrases. The peasantry in Russia, on the other hand, inasmuch as it is revolutionary, inasmuch as it rejects the idea of compromise with the bourgeoisie and the Octobrists, but fights together with the workers and all democrats, has already irrefutably proved its sympathy for nationalisation of the land. If the peasantry ceases to be revolutionary, i.e., renounces this sympathy and turns away from a bourgeois-democratic revolution, then the peasants will be pleased with Maslov's anxiety to preserve the old form of property in land -- but then Maslov's municipalisation will be altogether ridiculous. But so long as the revolutionary-democratic struggle of the peasantry continues, so long as there is sense in an "agrarian programme" of Marxists in a bourgeois revolution, it is our duty to support the revolutionary demands of the peasantry, including
the demand for nationalisation of the land. Maslov will not strike that demand of the Russian peasants out of the history of the Russian revolution; and it can safely be said that the rise of the tide, the revival of the struggle of the peasants for the land, when it takes place once again, will clearly reveal all the reactionary nature of "municipalisation.