The Agrarian Programme of Russian Social-Democracy

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V. I. Lenin


Written in February-
first half of March 1902First published in August 1902
in the magazine Zarya, No. 4.
Signed: N. L e n i n

Published according to
the manuscript

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964

Second Impression 1964

Vol. 6, pp. 107-150.

Translated from the Russian
Edited by Clemens Dutt and Julius Katzer

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,
 (June 1997)
(Corrected and Updated September 2001)



    There is hardly any need to prove at length that an "agrarian programme" is essential to the Russian Social-Democratic Party. By an agrarian programme we mean a definition of the guiding principles of Social-Democratic policy on the agrarian question, i.e., policy in relation to agriculture and the various classes, sections, and groups of the rural population. Naturally, in a "peasant" country like Russia the agrarian programme of the socialists is chiefly, if not exclusively, a "peasant programme," a programme defining their attitude towards the peasant question. Big landowners, agricultural wage-workers, and "peasants" -- these are the three main components of the rural population in any capitalist country, Russia included. In the same measure as the attitude of the Social-Democrats to the first two of these three components (the landowners and the labourers) is definite and self-evident, even the very concept of the "peasantry" is indefinite, and all the more indefinite is our policy with regard to the fundamental problems of its life and evolution. If in the West the crux of the Social-Democrats' agrarian programme is precisely the "peasant question," how much more so must that be the case in Russia. It is all the more necessary for us, Russian Social-Democrats, to have the most unambiguous definition of our policy in the peasant question because in Russia our movement is still quite new and because the whole of old Russian socialism was, in the final analysis, a "peasant" socialism. True, the mass of Russian "radicals," who imagine themselves the custodian of the heritage left by our Narodnik socialists of all shades, have practically nothing socialistic left in them. But all of them are all the more eager to bring into the forefront their differences with

us on the "peasant" question, the more it pleases them to tone down the fact that the "labour" question has come into the foreground of the social and political life of Russia, and the fact that they have no stable principles whatever in this question, while in essence nine-tenths of them are the most ordinary bourgeois social-reformers in this matter. Lastly, the numerous "critics of Marxism," who in the latter respect have almost entirely merged with the Russian radicals (or liberals?), are also endeavouring to lay specific emphasis on the peasant question, on which "orthodox Marxism" is allegedly most completely put to shame by the "latest works" of the Bernsteins, Bulgakovs, Davids, Hertzes and even . . . the Chernovs!

    Further, in addition to the theoretical uncertainties and the war of "progressive" trends, the purely practical requirements of the movement itself have of late lent special urgency to the task of propaganda and agitation in the countryside. However, this work cannot be conducted at all seriously and on a large scale without a programme consistent in principle and politically expedient. Since the very day of their appearance as an independent trend, Russian Social-Democrats have realised the full importance of the "peasant question." Let us recall that the draft programme of the Russian Social-Democrats prepared by the Emancipation of Labour group and published in 1885 contains a demand for a "radical revision of agrarian relationships (the terms of redemption and allotment of land to the peasants)."* In the pamphlet entitled The Tasks of the Socialists in the Fight Against the Famine in Russia (1892), G. V. Plekhanov also spoke of the Social-Democratic policy on the peasant question.

    It is therefore quite natural that in one of its first issues (April 1901, No. 3) Iskra also published a rough outline of an agrarian programme, defining its attitude towards the principles of the Russian Social-Democrats' agrarian policy, in an article entitled "The Workers' Party and the Peasantry."** A great many Russian Social-Democrats were perplexed by this article, in connection with which we,

    * See appendix to P. B. Axelrod's pamphlet, Present Tasks and Tactics of the Russian Social-Democrats, Geneva, 1898.
    ** See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 420-28. --Ed.

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the editors, have received a number of comments and letters. The clause on the restitution of the cut-off lands evoked most objections, and we were planning to launch a discussion on the matter in the columns of Zarya, when No. 10 of Rabocheye Dyelo appeared with an article by Martynov which, among other things, dealt with the Iskra agrarian programme. Since Rabocheye Dyelo has voiced many of the current objections, we hope that our correspondents will not resent our confining ourselves for the time being to a reply to Martynov alone.

    I stress for the time being because of the following circumstances. The Iskra article was written by one of the editors, and although the other members of the Editorial Board agreed with the author on the general presentation of the question, there could, of course, have been differences of opinion on particulars and specific points. In the meantime, our entire Editorial Board (i.e., including the Emancipation of Labour group) was occupied with the preparation of a collective draft programme for our Party. This work was protracted (partly as a result of various Party affairs and certain circumstances of our illegal work, and partly because of the necessity for a special congress to discuss the programme from all angles), and was completed only quite recently. As long as the clause on the restitution of the cut-off lands remained my personal opinion, I made no haste to defend it, since the general presentation of the question of our agrarian policy was far more important to me than this particular clause, which could still be rejected or substantially modified in our general draft. I shall now be defending this general draft. As to the "friendly reader" who took the trouble of communicating to us his criticism of our agrarian programme, we ask him now to undertake the criticism of our general draft.



    We shall quote the "agrarian" section of this draft programme in full.

    "With a view to eradicating the remnants of the old serf-owning system and for the purpose of facilitating the

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free development of the class struggle in the countryside, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party will work for:

    "1) abolition of land redemption and quit-rent payments, as well as of all services now imposed on the peasantry as a taxable social-estate;

    "2) annulment of collective liability and of all laws restricting the peasant in the free disposal of his land;

    "3) restitution to the people of all sums taken from them in the form of land redemption and quit-rent payments; confiscation for this purpose of monasterial property and of the royal demesnes, and imposition of a special land tax on members of the big landed nobility who received land redemption loans, the revenue thus obtained to be credited to a special public fund for the cultural and charitable needs of the village communes;

    "4) establishment of peasant committees

    "a) for the restitution to the village communes (by expropriation, or, when the land has changed hands, by redemption, etc.) of the land cut off from the peasants when serfdom was abolished and now used by the landlords as a means of keeping the peasants in bondage;

    "b) for the eradication of the remnants of the serf-owning system which still exist in the Urals, the Altai, the Western territory, and other regions of the country;

    "5) empowerment of courts to reduce exorbitant rents and to declare null and void all contracts entailing bondage."

    The reader may perhaps wonder at the fact that the "agrarian programme" contains no demands whatever in favour of the agricultural wage-workers. On this score let us note that such demands have been included in the preceding section of the programme which contains the demands presented by our Party "to safeguard the working class from physical and moral degeneration, and also to raise its fighting capacity in the struggle for its emancipation." The words we have underlined apply to all wage-workers, including those in agriculture, and all the 16 clauses of this section of the programme apply to the agricultural workers as well.

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True, this combination of industrial and agricultural workers in one section, with the "agrarian" part of the programme limited to "peasant" demands, has the drawback that the demands in favour of the agricultural workers do not strike the eye, are not discernible at first glance. A superficial acquaintance with the programme may even create the entirely wrong impression that we have deliberately toned down the demands in favour of the agricultural wage-workers. Needless to say, this impression would be quite false, for the drawback in question is at bottom of a purely external character. It can be easily obviated by closer acquaintance with the programme itself and the commentaries on it (and it goes without saying that our Party programme will "go to the people" only together with printed commentaries, and, what is far more important, with spoken commentaries as well). Should some group wish to make a special appeal to the agricultural workers, it need only select from all the demands in favour of the workers those particular demands that are most important to farm labourers, hands hired by the day, etc., and set them out in a separate pamphlet, leaflet, or in speeches.

    From the standpoint of principle, the only correct way to edit the programme sections under analysis is one that will unite all demands in favour of the wage-workers in all branches of the national economy and will distinctly place in a special section demands in favour of the "peasants," because the fundamental criterion of what we can and must demand in the former and latter cases is absolutely different. In the draft, the fundamental difference between the two sections of the programme under review is expressed in the preamble to each section.

    For wage-workers we demand such reforms as would "safeguard them from physical and moral degeneration and raise their fighting capacity"; for the peasants, however, we seek only such changes as would help "to eradicate the remnants of the old serf-owning system and facilitate the free development of the class struggle in the countryside." Hence it follows that our demands in favour of the peasants are far more restricted, that their terms are much more moderate and presented in a smaller frame

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work. With regard to the wage-workers, we undertake to defend their interests as a class in present-day society; we do this because we consider their class movement the only truly revolutionary movement (cf. the words in the theoretical part of the programme on the relation of the working class to other classes) and strive to organise this particular movement, to direct it, and bring the light of socialist consciousness into it. As regards the peasantry, however, we do not by any means undertake to defend its interests as a class of small landowners and farmers in present-day society. Nothing of the kind. The emancipation of the workers must be the act of the working class itself," and for this reason Social-Democracy represents -- directly and wholly -- the interests of the proletariat alone, and seeks indissoluble organic unity with its class movement alone. All the other classes of present-day society stand for the preservation of the foundations of the existing economic system, and that is why Social-Democracy can undertake to defend the interests of those classes only under certain circumstances and on concrete and strictly defined conditions. For instance, in its struggle against the bourgeoisie, the class of small producers, including the small farmers, is a reactionary class, and therefore "trying to save the peasantry by protecting small-scale farming and small holdings from the onslaught of capitalism would be a useless retarding of social development; it would mean deceiving the peasantry with illusions of the possibility of prosperity even under capitalism; it would mean disuniting the labouring classes and creating a privileged position for the minority at the expense of the majority" (Iskra, No. 3).* That is why in our draft programme the inclusion of the "peasant" demands hinges on two highly circumscribed conditions. We make the legitimacy of "peasant demands" in a Social-Democratic programme dependent, firstly, on the condition that they lead to the eradication of remnants of the serf-owning system, and, secondly, that they facilitate the free development of the class struggle in the countryside.

    * See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 422-23. --Ed.

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Let us dwell in greater detail on each of these conditions, which have already been briefly outlined in No. 3 of Iskra.

    The "remnants of the old serf-owning system" are still extremely numerous in our countryside. This is a generally known fact. Labour-rent and bondage, the peasants' inequality as a social-estate and as citizens, their subjection to the privileged landowners, who still have the right to flog them, and their degrading living conditions, which virtually turn the peasants into barbarians -- all this is not an exception, but the rule in the Russian countryside, and in the final analysis this is all a direct survival of the serf-owning system. In those instances and relationships where this system still prevails, and insofar as it still prevails, its enemy is the peasantry as a whole. As opposed to serf-ownership, to the feudal-minded landlords, and the state that serves them, the peasantry still stands as a class, a class not of capitalist but of serf-owning society, i.e., as an estate-class.* Inasmuch as this class antagonism between the "peasantry" and the privileged landowners, so characteristic of serf-owning society, still survives in our countryside, insomuch a working-class party must undoubtedly be on the side of the "peasantry," support its struggle and urge it on to fight against all remnants of serf-ownership.

    We put the word "peasantry" in quotation marks in order to emphasise the existence in this case of an absolutely indubitable contradiction: in present-day society the peasantry of course no longer constitutes an integral class. But whoever is perplexed by this contradiction forgets that this is not a contradiction in exposition, in a doctrine, but a

    * We know that in slave and feudal societies, class divisions were also expressed in the division of the population into social-estates, each class with specific legal status in the state. That is why classes in a society based on slavery and feudalism (and on serf-ownership) were also separate social-estates. On the other hand, in capitalist, bourgeois society, all citizens are equal in law, division into social-estates has been abolished (at least in principle), and that is why classes have ceased to be social-estates. The division of society into classes is a common feature to slave, feudal, and bourgeois societies, but in the two former estate-classes existed, whereas in the latter the classes are not estates.

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contradiction in life itself. This is not an invented, but a living and dialectical contradiction. Inasmuch as in our countryside serf-owning society is being eliminated by "present-day" (bourgeois) society, insomuch the peasantry ceases to be a class and becomes divided into the rural proletariat and the rural bourgeoisie (big, middle, petty, and very small). Inasmuch as serf-owning relationships still exist, insomuch the "peasantry" still continues to be a class, i.e., we repeat, a class of serf-owning society rather than of bourgeois society. This "inasmuch -- insomuch" exists in real life in the form of an extremely complex web of serf-owning and bourgeois relationships in the Russian countryside today. To use Marx's terminology, labour rent, rent in kind, money rent, and capitalist rent are all most fantastically interlinked in our country. We lay special emphasis on this fact, which has been established by all economic investigations in Russia, because it necessarily and inevitably constitutes a source of that complexity, confusion, or, if you will, artificialness, of some of our "agrarian" demands, which at first glance so greatly puzzles many people. Whoever limits his objections to general dissatisfaction with the complexity and "artfulness" of the proposed solutions forgets that there can be no simple solution of such tangled problems. It is our duty to fight against all remnants of serf-owning relationships -- that is beyond doubt to a Social-Democrat -- and since these relationships are most intricately interwoven with bourgeois relationships, we are obliged to penetrate into the very core, so to say, of this confusion, undeterred by the complexity of the task. There could be only one "simple" solution of this task: to keep aloof, pass it by, and leave it to the "spontaneous element" to clear up this mess. But this "simplicity," favoured by all and sundry bourgeois and "economist" admirers of spontaneity, is unworthy of a Social Democrat. The party of the proletariat must not only support but must also urge on the peasantry in its struggle against all the remnants of the serf-owning system. To urge the peasantry on, it must not confine itself to wishful thinking; it must lay down a definite revolutionary directive, and be able to help in finding the bearings in the maze of agrarian relationships.

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    For the reader to get a clearer idea of the inevitability of a complex solution of the agrarian question, we would ask him to compare in this respect the workers' and the peasants' sections of the programme. In the former, all the solutions are extremely simple and comprehensible even to the most uninitiated and least imaginative person; they are "natural," tangible, and easily achievable. In the latter, on the contrary, most of the solutions are extremely complex, "incomprehensible" at first glance, artificial, improbable, and difficult to bring about. How can this difference be explained? Can it be that, in the first case, the compilers of the programme gave it sober and business-like consideration, whereas in the second case they were lost and confused, lapsing into romanticism and phrase-mongering? Such an explanation, it must in truth be said, would be extremely "simple," childishly simple, and we are not at all surprised at Martynov having grasped at it. It did not enter his mind that economic development itself had facilitated and simplified to the utmost the practical solution of the workers' minor problems. Social and economic relationships in the sphere of large-scale capitalist production have become (and are increasingly becoming) so transparent, clear, and simplified that the next steps forward suggest themselves automatically, immediately, and at first glance. On the other hand, capitalism's elimination of serf-ownership in the countryside has so confused and complicated social and economic relationships as to make it necessary to ponder deeply over the solution (in the spirit of revolutionary Social-Democracy) of the immediate practical questions, and it may be said in advance and with full certainty that a "simple" solution cannot be invented.

    Incidentally, once we have begun to compare the workers' and the peasants' sections of the programme, let us note still another difference in principle between them. This difference may be briefly formulated as follows: in the workers' section we have no right to go beyond the bounds of demands for social reform; in the peasants' section however, we must not stop at social-revolutionary demands. In other words: in the workers' section we are definitely

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limited by the minimum programme; in the peasants' section we can and must produce a maximum programme.[*] Let us explain.

    What we set forth in both sections is not our ultimate aim, but our immediate demands. In both we should therefore remain on the basis of present-day (= bourgeois) society. Therein lies the similarity between the two sections. However, their fundamental difference consists in the fact that the workers' section contains demands directed against the bourgeoisie, whereas the peasants' section contains demands directed against the would-be serf-owning landlords (against the feudal lords, I would say, if the applicability of this term to our landed nobility were not so disputable[**]). In the workers' section we must confine ourselves to partial improvements in the existing, bourgeois, order. In the peasants' section we must strive to completely eradicate all the remnants of the serf-owning system from this existing order. In the workers' section we cannot bring forward demands whose significance would be tantamount to a final smashing of bourgeois rule: when we achieve this ultimate aim of ours, which has been adequately stressed elsewhere in the programme and which we "never for a moment" lose sight of in the struggle for the immediate demands, then we, the Party of the proletariat, shall no longer confine ourselves to questions of this or that responsibility of the employers, or to some factory housing, but shall take into our own hands the entire management and disposal of the whole of social production, and consequently, of distribution as well. On the contrary, in the peasants' section we can and must bring <"fnp118">

    * The objection that the demand for the restitution of the cut off lands is far from being the maximum of our immediate demands in favour of the peasantry [or of our agrarian demands in generall and that it is thorefore not consistent will be dealt with later, when we speak of the concrete clauses of the programme we are defending. We maintain, and shall endeavour to prove, that the demand for the "restitution of the cut-off lands" is the maximum that we can at present advance in our agrarian programme.
    ** Personally, I am inclined to decide this question in the affirmative, but in the given instance, it is of course neither the place nor time for substantiating or even for proposing this solulion, since what we are concerned with now is the defence of the draft agrarian programme prepared collectively by the entire Editorial Board.

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forward demands whose significance would be tantamount to the final smashing of the rule of the feudal-minded landlords and to the complete eradication of all traces of serf-ownership from our countryside. We cannot present social-revolutionary demands among the immediate demands in the workers' section, since the social revolution which overthrows the rule of the bourgeoisie is the proletarian revolution which achieves our ultimate aim. In the peasants' section, we present social revolutionary demands as well, since the social revolution which overthrows the rule of the serf-owning landlords (i.e., a social revolution of the bourgeoisie, like the Great French Revolution) is also possible on the basis of the existing, bourgeois, order. In the workers' section, we keep to our stand (conditionally, for the time being, with our own independent intentions and aims, but we nevertheless keep to our stand) in favour of social reforms, for what we are demanding here is only what the bourgeoisie can (in principle) concede to us without as yet losing its domination (and what Messrs. the Sombarts, Bulgakovs, Struves, Prokopoviches and Co. therefore in advance advise the bourgeoisie to concede in all wisdom and good faith). In the peasants' section, however, we must, unlike the social-reformers, also demand what the feudal-minded landlords will not and cannot give us (or the peasants) -- we must also demand what the revolutionary movement of the peasantry can take only by force.



    That is why the "simple" criterion of "feasibility," with the aid of which Martynov so "easily" pulled our agrarian programme to pieces, is inadequate and worthless. This criterion of direct and immediate "feasibility" is applicable in general only to the avowedly reformative sections and clauses of our programme, and by no means to the programme of a revolutionary party in general. In other words, this criterion is applicable to our programme only by way of exception, and by no means as a general rule. Our programme must be feasible only in the broad and philosophical sense of the word, so that not a single letter in it will contradict the

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direction of all social and economic evolution. And since we have correctly determined this direction (in general and in particular), we must -- in the name of our revolutionary principles and our revolutionary duty -- fight with all our might, always and absolutely, for the maximum of our demands. However, to try to determine in advance, before the final outcome of the struggle, in the course of that struggle, that we shall perhaps fail to achieve the entire maximum means lapsing into sheer philistinism. Considerations of this kind always lead to opportunism, even if the authors of such considerations may harbour no such intentions.

    Indeed, is it not philistinism on Martynov's part to discern "romanticism" in the Iskra agrarian programme "because it is highly problematic whether the peasant masses can be brought into our movement under the present conditions" (Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 58. Italics mine)? This is a good example of those very "plausible" and very cheap arguments by means of which Russian Social-Democratism was simplified to "economism". A closer look at this "plausible" argument will show that it is a soap-bubble. "Our movement" is the Social-Democratic labour movement. The peasant masses cannot just be "brought" into it: that is not problematic but impossible, and there was never any question of it. However, the peasant masses cannot but be brought into the "movement" against all the remnants of the serf-owning system (including tho autocracy). Martynov confused matters by using the expression "our movement," without giving thought to the fundamental difference between the character of the movement against the bourgeoisie and against the serf-owning system.*

    * How little thought Martynov has given to the question he has undertaken to write on is most vividly seen from the following statement in his article: "In view of the fact that the agrarian section of our programme will still be of comparatively little practical significance for a very long time to come, it affords a wide field for revolutionary phrase-mongering." The underlined words contain the very confusion indicated in the text. Martynov has heard that in the West agrarian programmes are put forward only when there is a highly developed working-class movement. In our country this movement is just beginning. Hence, our publicist hastens to conclude -- "for a very long time to come"! He has overlooked a trifle: in the West agrarian programmes are written for the purpose of drawing those who are half-peasants, [cont. onto p. 121. -- DJR] half-workers into the Social-Democratic movement against the bourgeoisie; while in our country such programmes are meant to draw the peasant masses into the democratic movement against the remnants of the serf-owning system. That is why in the West the significance of the agrarian programme will become all the greater, the more agricultural capitalism develops. The practical significance of our agrarian programme will decrease, as far as most of its demands are concerned, the more agricultural capitalism develops, since the remnants of serf-ownership this programme is directed against are dying out both of themselves and as the result of the government's policy. <"p121"> Our agrarian programme is, therefore, calculated in practice mainly for the immediate future, for the period preceding the downfall of the autocracy. A political revolution in Russia will at all events lead inevitably to such fundamental changes in our most backward agrarian system that we shall unfailingly have to revise our agrarian programme. But Martynov is quite sure of only one thing: that Kautsky's book[47] is good (this is warranted), and that it is sufficient to repeat and transcribe Kautsky without bearing in mind how radically different Russia is with regard to the agrarian programme (this is not at all wise).

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    It is not the bringing of the peasant masses into the movement against remnants of serf-ownership that can be called problematic, but perhaps only the degree to which they are so brought: serf-owning relationships in the countryside are closely interwoven with bourgeois relationships, and as a class of bourgeois society the peasants (the small farmers) are far more a conservative than a revolutionary element (particularly since in our country the bourgeois evolution of agricultural relationships is only just beginning). That is why, in a period of political reforms, it will be far easier for the government to split the peasants (than, for instance, the workers), far easier for it to weaken (or even, at the worst, to paralyse) their revolutionary spirit by means of minor and insignificant concessions to a comparatively small number of petty proprietors.

    All this is true. But what follows from it? The easier it is for the government to come to terms with the conservative elements of the peasantry, the greater must be our efforts, and the sooner we must exert them, to reach agreement with its revolutionary elements. It is our duty to determine with the greatest possible scientific precision the direction along which we must support these elements, and then to urge them to wage a resolute and unconditional struggle

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against all remnants of the serf-owning system, to urge them on at all times and under all circumstances, by all available means. And is it not philistinism to attempt to "prescribe" in advance the degree of success that will attend our urging? That will be decided by life and recorded by history; our present job, in any case, is to fight on, and fight to the end. Does a soldier who has already gone into the attack dare argue that we perhaps will wipe out not an entire enemy army corps, but only three-fifths of it? Is not such a demand as, for instance, the demand for a repulblic also "problematic" in the Martynov sense? It will surely be easier for the government to make partial payment on this bill than to meet the bill of the peasant demands for the eradication of all traces of the serf-owning system. But what is that to us? We shall, of course, pocket this partial payment, without however calling off our desperate struggle for full payment. We must spread the idea far and wide that only in a republic can the decisive battle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie take place; we must create* and consolidate republican traditions among all the Russian revolutionaries and among the broadest possible masses of Russian workers; we should express through this "republic" slogan that we will carry to the end the struggle to democratise the state system, without looking back -- and the struggle will itself determine what share of that payment, when and how, we shall succeed in winning. It would be stupid to try to calculate that share before we make the enemy feel the full force of our blows and without ourselves feeling the full force of his blows. Similarly, with regard to the peasant demands, our job is to determine, on the basis of scientific data, the maximum of these demands and to help the comrades to fight for this max- <"p122">

    * We say "create," because the old Russian revolutionaries never paid serious attention to the question of a republic, never considering it a "practical" issue -- the Narodniks, the rebels, etc., because of their contemptuous anarchist attitude towards politics, those in the Narodnaya Volya[48] because they wanted to leap straight from the autocracy into the socialist revolution. It has fallen to our lot (if we leave out of account the long forgotten republican ideas of the Decembrists) to the lot of the Social-Democrats, to popularise the demand for a republic among the masses and to create republican traditions alnong the Russian revolutionaries.

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imum -- and then let the sober legal critics and the illegal "tail-enders," the latter so enamoured of tangible results, laugh at its "problematic" character!*



    We shall now proceed to the second general proposition, which defines the nature of all our peasant demands and is expressed in the following words: ". . . for the purpose of <"fnp">

    * It would perhaps be useful, in discussing the "feasibility" of the demands in the Social-Democratic programme, to recall Karl Kautsky's polemic against Rosa Luxemburg in 1896. Rosa Luxemburg wrote that the demand for Poland's restoration was inappropriate in the Polish Social-Democrats' practical programme, since this demand could not be realised in present-day society. Karl Kautsky took exception to this, saying that this argument was "based on a strange misconception of the essence of a socialist programme. Whether they find direct expression in the programme or are tacitly accepted 'postu lates,' our practical demands should be conformed (werden . . . darnach bemessen ), not with their being achievable under the given alignment of forces, but with their compatibility with the existing social svstem, and with the consideration whether they can facilitate and further (fördern ) the proletariat's class struggle, and pave (ebnen ) for it the way to the political rule of the proletariat. In this, we take no account of the current alignment of forces. The Social-Democratic programme is not written for the given ("den ") moment -- as far as possible, it should cover (ausreichen ) all eventualities in present-day society. It should serve not only for practical action (der Action ), but for propaganda as well, in the form of concrete demands, it should indicate, more vividly than abstract arguments can do, the direction in which we intend to advance. The more distant practical aims we can set ourselves without straying into Utopian speculations, the better the direction in which we are advancing will be all the clearer to the masses -- even to those who are unable to grasp (erfassen ) our theoretical premises. The programme should show what we demand of existing society or of the existing state, and not what we expect of it. As an example, let us take the programme of German Social-Democracy. It demands that officials should be elected by the people. Measured by Miss Luxemburg's standards, this demand is just as Utopian as the demand for the establishment of a Polish national state. No one will be deluded into believing that it is possible to ensure that, under the political conditions obtaining in the German Reich, government officials are elected by the people. With just as good reason as one can assume that a Polish national state is achievable only when the proletariat wins political power, one can assert this concerning the above demand. But is that sufficient ground for not including it in our practical programme?" [Neue Zeit, XIV. 2, S. 513 u. 514. All italics are Karl Kautsky's.]

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facilitating the free development of the class struggle in the countryside. . . ."

    These words are of the utmost importance both for the principled presentation of the agrarian question in general, and for an appraisal of individual agrarian demands in particular. The demand for the eradication of the remnants of the serf-owning system is common to us and to all the consistent liberals, Narodniks, social-reformers, critics of Marxism on the agrarian question, etc., etc. In advancing this demand, we differ from all these gentlemen, not in principle, but only in degree: in this point too they will inevitably remain at all times within the limits of reforms; we, however, will not stop (in the sense indicated above) even at social-revolutionary demands. On the contrary, by demanding that the "free development of the class struggle in the countryside" be ensured, we place ourselves in opposition to all these gentlemen in principle, and even to all revolutionaries and socialists who are not Social-Democrats. These latter will also not stop at social-revolutionary demands in the agrarian question, but they will not wish to subordinate these demands precisely to such a condition as the free development of the class struggle in the countryside. This condition is the fundamental and focal point in the theory of revolutionary Marxism in the sphere of the agrarian question.* To acknowledge this condition means recognising that, despite all its confusion and complexity, despite all the diversity of its forms, the evolution of agriculture is also capitalist evolution, that (like the evolution of industry) it also engenders the proletariat's class struggle against the bourgeoisie, that precisely this class struggle must be our prime and fundamental concern, the touchstone for both questions of principle and political tasks, as well as methods of propaganda, agitation, and organisation. To acknowledge this condition means undertaking to abide unswervingly by the class viewpoint also in the very painful

    * In essence all the delusions and fallacies of the "critics" of Marxism on the agrarian question boil down to a failure to understand this very point, and the boldest and most consistent (and to that extent the most honest) of them, Mr. Bulgakov, openly declares in his "survey" that the "doctrine" of the class struggle is quite inapplicable to agricultural relationships. (Capitalism and Agriculture, Vol. II, p. 289.) [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's Capitalism in Agriculture for a critique of Bulgakov's "survey". -- DJR]

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question of the participation of the small peasants in the Social-Democratic movement, means sacrificing nothing of the proletariat's standpoint in favour of the interests of the petty bourgeoisie, but, on the contrary, demanding that the small peasant, who is being oppressed and ruined by all modern capitalism, should desert his own class standpoint and place himself at the standpoint of the proletariat.

    By setting this condition, we shall resolutely and irrevocably put ourselves apart, not only from our enemies (i.e., the direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious supporters of the bourgeoisie, who are our temporary and partial allies in the struggle against the remnants of the serf-owning system), but also from those unreliable friends who, because of their mid-course presentation of the agrarian question, can cause (and actually do cause) much harm to the proletariat's revolutionary movement.

    By setting this condition, we are providing a guiding principle that will enable any Social-Democrat, even if he finds himself in some out-of-the-way village, even if he is faced with the most tangled web of agrarian relationships which bring general democratic tasks into the foreground, to apply and stress his proletarian standpoint when he is tackling those tasks -- just as we remain Social-Democrats when we tackle general-democratic, political problems.

    By setting this condition, we are replying to the objection that many people bring forward after a cursory acquaintance with the concrete demands in our agrarian programme. . . . "Redemption payments and cut-off lands shall be restituted to the village communes"!? -- But, then, where is our specifically proletarian complexion and our proletarian independence? Is this not in effect a gift to the rural bourgeoisie??

    Of course it is -- but only in the sense that the fall of the serf-owning system was itself a "gift to the bourgeoisie," i.e., since it relieved bourgeois, and not some other development, from the fetters and restrictions of the serf-owning system. The proletariat is distinguished from all the other classes oppressed by and opposed to the bourgeoisie for the very reason that it rests its hopes, not on a retardation of bourgeois development, or on any abatement or slackening of the class struggle, but, on the contrary, on the fullest and freest development of the class struggle, on the acceleration

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of bourgeois progress.[*] In a developing capitalist society it is impossible to eradicate the remnants of the serf-owning system which hamper its development, in such a way as not to strengthen and fortify the bourgeoisie. To be "baffled" by this is equivalent to repeating the mistake of those socialists who said that we have no need of political liberty since it might strengthen and fortify the rule of the bourgeoisie.



    Having examined the "general section" of our agrarian programme, we shall now proceed to analyse its specific demands. We shall take the liberty of beginning not with the first but with the fourth clause (on the cut-off lands), since this is the most important and the central clause, the one that lends a special character to the agrarian programme and is at the same time its most vulnerable point (at any rate, in the view of most of those who voiced their opinions on the article in No. 3 of Iskra ). <"p126">

    Let us recall that this clause is made up of the following components: 1. It demands the establishment of peasant committees with authority to reorganise agrarian relationships that are direct survivals of the serf-owning system. The expression "peasant committees" has been chosen to make it quite clear that, as distinct from the "Reform" of 1861 with its committees of nobles,[49] the reorganisation of these relationships must rest with the peasants, and not with the landowners. In other words: the final abolition of relationships stemming from the serf-owning system is left, not to the oppressors, but to the section of the population which is oppressed by these relationships; not to the minority, but to the majority of those concerned. In essence, this is nothing but a democratic revision of the peasant reform (i.e., the very thing demanded by the first draft programme prepared by the Emancipation of Labour group). And the only reason <"fnp126">

    * It stands to reason that the proletariat does not support all measures accelerating bourgeois progress, but only those that tend directly to strengthen the capacity of the working class to struggle for its emancipation. And "labour rent" and bondage weigh upon the poor section of the peasantry, which is close to the proletariat, much more heavily than upon the well-to-do section of the peasantry.

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we have not chosen this latter expression is because it in dicates the true nature and concrete substance of this re vision less definitely and less expressively. Therefore, if Martynov, for instance, really had some contribution to make on the agrarian question, he should have stated definitely whether he rejects the very idea of a democratic revision of the peasant reform, and if not, then he should have stated just how he pictures it.[*]

    Further, 2. The peasant committees are given the right to expropriate and redeem landlords' land, to effect exchanges of land, and so on (Clause 4,b); moreover, this right is limited to cases where there is a direct survival of serf-owning relationships. Specifically (3), the right to expropriate and redeem is granted only with regard to land which, first, was "cut off from the peasants when serfdom was abolished" (since time immemorial this land had been an essential appurtenance of the peasant farm, part and parcel of that farm, and was artificially severed from it by the legalised robbery known as the great Peasant Reform) -- and, secondly, is "used by the landlords as a means of keeping the peasants in bondage."

    This second condition still more limits the right of redemption and expropriation, extending it, not to all "cut-off lands," <"fnp127">

    * We note the inconsistency (or is it reservation?) of Nadezhdin, who has apparently adopted Iskra's idea of peasant committees in his outline of the agrarian programme, but formulates this idea most lamely when he says: "The institution of a special court of people's representatives to examine peasant complaints and statements with regard to all the transactions attending the 'Emancipation.'" (The Eve of the Revolutton, p. 65. Italics mine.) One can complain only about a breach of the law. The "Emancipation" of February 19, with all its "transactions," itself constitutes a law. The establishment of special courts to examine complaints about the injustice of a given law is senseless until that law is repealed, or new legislative standards have been set up to replace this law (or to annul it in part). The "court" should be invested not only with the right to receive "complaints" about lands cut off from pastures but also the right to return (resp. redeem, etc.) that pasture land -- but in that case, first, a "court" authorised to make laws would no longer be a court; secondly, it is necessary to indicate definitely just what rights of expropriation, redemption, etc., this "court" would have. But however inapt Nadezhdin's formulation may be, he has grasped the need for a democratic revision of the Peasant Reform much better than Martvnov has.

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but only to such that to this day remain instruments of bondage and "by means of which," as Iskra has formulated it, "forced labour, bondage, the corvée system, i.e., in actual fact the very same serf labour, is still maintained." In other words, wherever the half-hearted nature of our Peasant Reform has led to serf-owning forms of farming surviving to this day, with the aid of land cut off from the peasants' lands, the peasants are given the right to do away with these survivals once and for all, even by means of expropriation, the right to the "restitution of the cut-off lands."

    We can therefore reassure our kind-hearted Martynov, who has asked with such alarm: "What should be done about those cut-off lands in the possession of the nobility or purchasers of non-noble origin, which are now being cultivated along model, capitalist lines?" It is not a question of these particular cut-off lands, my worthy friend, but rather of those typical (and extremely numerous) cut-off lands which to this very day serve as a basis for still existing remnants of the serf-owning system.

    Finally, 4. Clause 4, b, empowers the peasant committees to eradicate remnants of serf-owning system which still survive in certain parts of the country (servitude, uncompleted allotment of land, its demarcation, and so forth and so on).

    Hence, for the sake of simplicity, the entire content of Clause 4 may be briefly expressed as "restitution of the cut-off lands." The question arises: how did the idea of this demand originate? It arose as the direct outcome of the general and fundamental proposition that we must assist the peasants and urge them to destroy all remnants of the serf-owning system as completely as possible. This meets with "general approval," doesn't it? Well then, if you do agree to follow this road, make an effort to proceed along it independently; don't make it necessary to drag you; don't let the "unusual" appearance of this road frighten you, don't be put out by the fact that in many places you will find no beaten track at all, and that you will have to crawl along the edge of precipices, break your way through thickets, and leap across chasms. Don't complain of the poor road: these complaints will be futile whining, for you should have known in advance that you would be moving, not along a highway

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that has been graded and levelled by all the forces of social progress, but along paths through out-of-the-way places and back-alleys which do have a way out, but from which you, we or anyone else will never find a direct, simple, and easy way out -- "never," i.e., whilst these disappearing, but so slowly disappearing, out-of-the-way places and back-alleys continue to exist.

    But if you do not want to stray into these back-alleys, then say so frankly and don't try to get away by phrase mongering.[*]

    You agree to fight for the abolition of the remnants of the serf-owning system? Very well. Remember, however, that there does not exist a single juridical institution to express or stipulate these remnants -- I am of course speaking of those remnants exclusively in the sphere of the agrarian relationships that we are discussing now, and not in the sphere of legislation relating to the social-estates, financial affairs, etc. <"p129"> Direct survivals of the corvée system, recorded times without numher in all the economic surveys of Russia, are maintained, not by any special law which protects them, but by the actually existing land relationships. This is so to such an extent that witnesses testifying before the well-known Valuyev Commission[50] openly stated that serf-ownership would undoubtedly have been revived had it not been <"fnp129">

    * For instance, Martynov levels a charge of "phrase-mongering" against Iskra, which has given him both the goneral principles of its agrarian policy ("the introduction of the class struggle into the countryside") and a practical answer to the question of concrete programme demands. Without replacing these general principles with any others, without giving even the slightest thought to these principles, or making any attempt to draw up a definite programme, Martvnov dismisses the whole matter with the following grandiloquent words: ". . . We must demand their [the peasants' as petty proprietors] protection . . . against various obsolete forms of economic bondage. . . ." Isn't that getting off rather cheaply? Couldn't you try to point out to us at least one protective measure against at least one (let alone "various"!) obsolete form of bondage? (Evidently there are also "forms of bondage" that are not obsolete!!) After all, the small credit associations, the amalgamated dairies, the mutual aid societies, the associations of small farmers the peasant banks, and the Zemstvo agronomists are likewise all "protective measures against various obsolete forms of economic bondage." Does it follow that you propose that "we must demand" all this?? You had better do some thinking first, my good friend, and then speak of programmes!

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directly prohibited by law. Hence, one of two things: either you refrain altogether from touching upon the land relationships between the peasants and the landlords -- in which case all the remaining questions 'are solved very "simply," but then you will also be ignoring the main source of all the survivals of serf-owning economy in the countryside, and will "simply" be avoiding a burning question bearing on the most vital interests of the feudal landlords and the enslaved peasantry, a question which tomorrow or the day after may easily become one of the most pressing social and political issues in Russia. Or else you want also to touch upon the source of the "obsolete forms of economic bondage" represented by the land relationships -- in which case you must reckon with the fact that these relationships are so complex and entangled that they do not actually permit of any easy or simple solution. Then, if you are not satisfied with the concrete solutions we have proposed for this complex question, you no longer have the right to get away with a general "complaint" about its complexity, but must attempt to cope with it independently, and propose some other concrete solution.

    The importance of the cut-off lands in present-day peasant farming is a question of reality. And it is noteworthy that deep as the gulf is between Narodism (in the broad sense of the word) and Marxism in the appraisal of the economic system and the economic evolution of Russia, the two doctrines have no divergence on this question. Representatives of both trends are agreed that the Russian countryside is teeming with remnants of serf-ownorship and (nota bene ) that the predominant mode of private farming in the central gubernias of Russia (the "labour-rent system of farming") is a direct survival of the serf-owning system. They are agreed furthermore that the cutting-off of peasant land in favour of the landlords -- i.e., both the cutting-off in the downright literal sense and the depriving of the peasants of the right to use common lands as pasturage, the right to use woodlands, watering places, grazing grounds, and so forth -- constitutes one of the mainstays (if not the mainstay ) of the labour-rent system. It will suffice to recall that, according to the most recent data, the labour-rent system of landlord farming predominates in no less than 17 gubernias of European Russia. Let those who regard the clause on the cut-off

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lands as a purely artificial, "laboured" and wily invention try to dispute this fact!

    Here is what the labour-rent system of farming means. In actual fact, i.e., not according to ownership but according to economic utilisation, the landlords' and the peasants' lands have not been divided up completely, but remain merged; part of the peasants' land, for example, feeds cattle required for the cultivation not of the peasants' land but of the landlords' land; part of the landlords' land is absolutely indispensable to the neighbouring peasant farm as it is run at present (watering places, grazing grounds, etc. ). This actual interlinking of land tenures inevitably engenders the same (or, more precisely, preserves the thousand-year-old) relationships between muzhik and landlord that existed under the serf-owning system. The muzhik remains a serf de facto, working with the same antiquated implements, on the basis of the old three-field system, for the same old "lord of the manor." What else do you want, if the peasants themselves everywhere bluntly call this labour rent "panshchina " and "barshchina,"[*] if the landlords themselves say when they describe their farms: my land is worked by "my former. . ." (that is, not only former, but present as well!) ". . . peasants" with their own implements in exchange for the use of my pasture land?

    Whenever it becomes necessary to solve any complex and entangled social and economic problem, it is an elementary rule that one should take the most typical case to begin with, the case that is freest of all extraneous complicating influences and circumstances, and use the solution reached in this case as a premise for further procedure, while taking stock of these extraneous and complicating circumstances, one by one. Take a case that is most "typical" in this re spect: the children of the former serfs are working for the sons of the former serf-owners to pay for the use of the latter's pasture lands. Labour rent makes for stagnation in cultivation techniques and for stagnation in all social and economic relationships in the countryside, since this labour rent hampers the development of money economy and the <"fnp131">

    * Panshchina and barshchina are two equivalent terms, with roughly the meaning of the corvée system. --Ed.

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differentiation of the peasantry, disembarrasses the landlord (comparatively) of the stimulus of competition (instead of raising the technical level, he reduces the share of the share-cropper; incidentally, this reduction has been recorded in a number of localities for many years of the post-Reform period), ties the peasant to the land, thereby checking the progress of migration, outside employment, etc. <"p132">

    The question arises whether any Social-Democrat will doubt that in this "pure" case the expropriation of the corresponding part of the landlords' land in favour of the peasants is wholly natural, desirable, and achievable. This expropriation will rouse Oblomov[51] from his slumber and force him to introduce more advanced methods of farming on his smaller estate; this expropriation will undermine (I will not say destroy, but precisely undermine) the labour-rent system, encourage the spirit of independence and democracy among the peasantry, raise their standard of living, and give a powerful impulse to the further development of money economy and capitalist progress in agriculture.

    And in general: once it is generally acknowledged that the cut-off lands are one of the principal roots of the labour-rent system -- and this system is a direct survival of serf-ownership which retards the development of capitalism -- how can one doubt that the restitution of the cut-off lands will undermine the labour-rent system and accelerate social and economic progress?



    There are nevertheless very many who have doubted this, and we shall now proceed to consider the arguments advanced by the doubters. All these arguments may be classified in the following groups: a) Is the demand for the restitution of the cut-off lands consistent with the basic theoretical principles of Marxism and with the principles of the Social-Democratic programme? b) Is it wise, from the viewpoint of political expedience, to advance the demand for redressing a historical injustice, the significance of which is diminishing with every step in economic development? c) Can this demand be realised in practice? d) Admitting that we

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can and must advance such a demand and include in our agrarian programme not the minimum but the maximum, is the demand for the restitution of the cut-off lands consistent from this point of view? Is such a demand actually a maximum?

    As far as I can judge, all objections "against the cut-off lands" fit into one or another of these four groups; moreover, most of the objectors (including Martynov) have answered all four questions in the negative, considering the demand for the restitution of the cut-off lands wrong in principle, politically inexpedient, practically unattainable, and logically inconsistent.

    Let us consider all these questions in their order of importance.

    a) The demand for the restitution of the cut-off lands is considered wrong in principle for two reasons. In the first place, we are told that it will "affect" capitalist agriculture, i.e., hold up or delay the development of capitalism; in the second place, we are told that it will not only fortify but actually multiply small property. The first of these arguments (particularly emphasised by Martynov) is absolutely untenable, because, on the contrary, typical cut-off lands retard the development of capitalism, and their restitution will stimulate this development; as for non-typical cases (quite apart from the fact that exceptions are always and everywhere possible and only go to prove the rule), a reservation was made both in Iskra and in the programme (". . . the land cut off . . . and now used as a means of bondage. . ."). This objection is due simply to ignorance of the real importance of the cut-off lands and labour rent in the economy of the Russian countryside.

    The second argument (which was developed in particular detail in several private letters) is much more serious and is in general the strongest argument against the programme we are defending. Generally speaking, it is not at all the task of the Social-Democrats to develop, support, consolidate, let alone, multiply, small-scale farming and small property. That is quite true. But the point is that what confronts us here is not a "general" but an exceptional case of small-scale farming, and this exceptional character is clearly expressed in the preamble to our agrarian programme: "the destruc-

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tion of the remnants of the serf-owning system and the free development of the class struggle in the countryside." Generally speaking, it is reactionary to support small property because such support is directed against large-scale capitalist economy and, consequently, retards social development, and obscures and glosses over the class struggle. In this case, however, we want to support small property not against capitalism but against serf-ownership; in this case, by supporting the small peasantry, we give a powerful impulse to the development of the class struggle. Indeed, on the one hand, we are thus making a last attempt to fan the embers of the peasants' class (social-estate) enmity for the feudal-minded landlords. On the other hand, we are clearing the way for the development of the bourgeois class antagonism in the countryside, because that antagonism is at present masked by what is supposedly the common and equal oppression of all the peasants by the remnants of the serf-owning system.

    There are two sides to all things in the world. In the West, the peasant proprietor has already played his part in the democratic movement, and is now defending his position of privilege as compared with the proletariat. In Russia, the peasant proprietor is as yet on the eve of a decisive and nation-wide democratic movement with which he cannot but sympathise. He still looks ahead more than he looks back. He is still more of a fighter against the privileges of the former serf-owners as a social-estate, privileges which are still so strong in Russia, than a defender of his own privileged position. In a historic moment like the present, it is our direct duty to support the peasants and to try to direct their as yet vague and blind discontent against their real enemy. And we shall not be in the least contradicting ourselves if we delete from our programme the struggle against the remnants of the serf-owning system in the subsequent historical period when the special features of the present social and political "juncture" will have disappeared, when the peasants, let us suppose, will have been satisfied by insignificant concessions made to an insignificant number of property owners and begin definitely to "snarl" at the proletariat. Then, we shall probably also have to delete from our programme the struggle against the autocracy, for it is quite inconceivable that the peasants will succeed in ridding them-

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selves of the most repulsive and grievous form of feudal oppression before political liberty has been attained.

    Under the capitalist system of economy, small property retards the development of the productive forces by tying the worker to a small plot of land, by legalising old-fashioned techniques, and by making it diffcult to bring land into the trade turnover. Where the labour-rent system predominates, small landed property, by ridding itself of labour rent, stimulates the development of the productive forces, releases the peasant from the bondage that tied him down to one particular place, relieves the landlord of "gratuitous" servants, makes it impossible for him to prefer unlimited intensification of "patriarchal" exploitation to technical improvements, and facilitates land being brought into the trade turnover. In a word, the contradictory position of the small peasant on the boundary between serf economy and capitalist economy fully justifies this exceptional and temporary support of small property by the Social-Democrats. We repeat: this is not a contradiction in the wording or in the formulation of our programme, but a contradiction in real life.

    It may be argued: "However slowly the labour-rent farming may be yielding to the pressure of capitalism, still it is yielding; it is, moreover, doomed to disappear completely; large scale labour-rent farming is giving way to, and will be directly replaced by, large-scale capitalist farming. What you want is to accelerate the elimination of serf-owning by a measure which in essence amounts to the splitting-up (partial, but nevertheless splitting-up) of large-scale farms. Are you not thereby sacrificing the interests of the future for the interests of the present? For the sake of the problematic possibility of a peasant revolt against serf-owning in the immediate future, you are placing obstacles in the way of a revolt of the agricultural proletariat against capitalism in the more or less distant future!"

    This argument, however convincing it may seem at first glance, is very one-sided: in the first place, the small peasantry is also yielding -- slowly no doubt, but nevertheless yielding -- to the pressure of capitalism, and is likewise ultimately doomed to inevitable elimination; in the second place, large-scale labour-rent farming too is not always "directly" replaced by large-scale capitalist farming; it quite often gives

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rise to a section of semi-dependent peasants -- semi-farm labourers, semi-proprietors. And yet, such a revolutionary measure as the restitution of the cut-off lands would render a tremendous service precisely by substituting, at least once, the "method" of open revolutionary transformation for the "method" of gradual and imperceptible transformation of serf dependence into bourgeois dependence: this could not fail to exert the profoundest influence on the spirit of protest and the independent struggle of the entire rural working population. In the third place, we, Russian Social-Democrats, will also try to make use of the experience of Europe, and begin to attract the "country folk" to the socialist working-class movement at a much earlier stage and much more zealously than was done by our Western comrades, who after the conquest of political liberty, continued for a long time to "grope" for the road the industrial workers' movement should follow: in this sphere we shall take much that is ready-made "from the Germans," but in the agrarian sphere we may perhaps evolve something new. And in order to facilitate for our farm labourers and semi-farm labourers the subsequent transition to socialism, it is highly important that the socialist party begin to "stand up" at once for the small peasants, and do "everything possible" for them, never refusing a hand in solving the urgent and complex "alien" (non-proletarian) problems, and helping the working and exploited masses to regard the socialist party as their leader and representative.

    To proceed. b) The demand for the restitution of the cut-off lands is considered politically inexpedient, since, it is argued, it is imprudent to switch the attention of the Party from the fundamental and imminent issue of the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie over to the redressing of all sorts of historical injustices, which are already beginning to lose immediate significance. As Martynov sarcastically puts it, this amounts to "re-emancipating the peasants forty years too late."

    This argument too appears plausible, but only at first glance. Historical injustices are of different kinds. There are such which, as it were, keep aloof from the mainstream of history, do not check that stream or hinder its course, and do not prevent the proletarian class struggle from extending and

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from striking deeper roots. It would certainly be unwise to try to redress historical injustices of this kind. As an example, we shall mention the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by Germany. No Social-Democratic party would think of including in its programme the redress of a wrong of this kind, although, on the other hand, not one would shirk its duty of protesting against this injustice and of condemning all the ruling classes for having perpetrated it. If we had motivated our demand for the restitution of the cut-off lands only on the ground that an injustice had been committed and should be redressed, that would have been no more than a hollow democratic phrase. However, we do not make any plaint over a historical injustice the motivation of our demand, but rather the need to abolish the remnants of the serf-owning system and to clear the road for the class struggle in the countryside, i.e., a very "practical" and very pressing need for the proletariat.

    We have here an example of a different kind of historical injustice, one which still directly retards social development and the class struggle. A refusal to attempt to redress historical injustices of this kind would mean "defending the knout on the ground that it is a historical knout." The problam of freeing our countryside from the burden of the remnants of the "old regime" is one of the most urgent questions of the day, one that is put forward by all trends and parties (except that of the former serf-owners), so that the reference to our being late is pointless in general and simply ludicrous when voiced by Martynov. It is the Russian bourgeoisie who were "late" with what is really their task of sweeping away all the remnants of the old regime, and we must and shall rectify this omission until it has been rectified, until we have won political liberty, as long as the position of the peasants continues to foster dissatisfaction among practically the whole of educated bourgeois society (as is the case in Russia), instead of fostering a feeling of conservative self-satisfaction among it on account of the "indestructibility" of what is supposed to be the strongest bulwark against socialism (as is the case in the West where this self-satisfaction is displayed by all the parties of Order, ranging from the Agrarians and Conservatives pur sang, through the liberal and free-thinking bourgeois, to even as far -- without offence to Messrs. the Chernovs and the Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii ! -- to

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even as far as the fashionable "critics of Marxism" in the agrarian question[¥]). Then, of course, those Russian Social-Democrats who trail along in the rear of the movement as a matter of principle, and who are concerned only with questions "promising palpable results," were also "late," and, because they were late in giving definite directives on the agrarian question as well, these "tail-enders" have succeeded only in providing the non-Social-Democratic revolutionary trends with a highly potent and reliable weapon.

    As for c) the practical "infeasibility" of the demand that the cut-off lands should be restituted, this objection (which has been particularly stressed by Martynov) is of the feeblest. In conditions of political liberty, the question of determining in which concrete cases expropriation, redemption, exchange, demarcation, etc., should be carried out and exactly how this should be done would be solved by the peasant committees ten times more easily than by the committees of nobles, which consisted of representatives of a minority and acted in the interests of that minority. Only those who are used to underestimating the revolutionary activity of the masses can attach any importance to this objection. <"p138">

    At this point the fourth and last objection is raised. If we are to count on the revolutionary activity of the peasants and offer them a maximum and not a minimum programme, we must be consistent and demand either a peasant "General Redistribution"[52] or bourgeois nationalisation of the land! "If," writes Martynov, "we wanted to find a genuine (sic! ) class slogan for the mass of the small peasantry, we should have to go further and advance the demand for a 'General Redistribution,' but then we should have to part with the Social-Democratic programme."

    This reasoning betrays the "economist" most strikingly, and reminds us of the saying about those who, if they are compelled to pray, do it with such zeal that they bang their foreheads against the ground.

    You have pronounced yourselves in favour of one of the demands which satisfy certain interests of a certain section of the small producers: hence it follows that you must desert your own standpoint and adopt the standpoint of that section!! Nothing of the sort follows; only "tail-enders," who confuse the drawing-up of a programme conforming <"fnp138">

    [¥] [Transcriber's Note: For a refutation of the "fashionable 'critics'" see Lenin's The Agrarian Question and the " Critics of Marx ". -- DJR]

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to a class's broadly conceived interests with subservience to that class, can reason in this way. Although we represent the proletariat, we will nevertheless condemn outright the prejudiced idea of backward proletarians that one must fight only for demands "promising palpable results." While supporting the progressive interests and demands of the peasants, we will decisively reject their reactionary demands. The "General Redistribution," one of the most outstanding slogans of the old Narodniks, represents a combination of just such revolutionary and reactionary features. The Social-Democrats have stated dozens of times that they do not at all discard the whole of Narodism, with the forthrightness of a certain foolish bird, but select and take for their own its revolutionary and general democratic elements. The demand for "General Redistribution" contains the reactionary Utopian idea of generalising and perpetuating small-scale peasant production, but it also contains (in addition to the Utopian idea that the "peasantry" can serve as the vehicle of the socialist revolution) a revolutionary element, namely, the desire to sweep away by means of a peasant revolt all the remnants of the serf-owning system. In our opinion, the demand for the restitution of the cut-off lands singles out from all the peasant's two-way and contradictory demands precisely that which can have a revolutionary effect only in the direction along which society's entire development is proceeding, and consequently deserves the proletariat's support. In actual fact, Martynov's invitation to "go further" only lands us in the absurd position of having to define the "genuine " class slogan of the peasantry from the standpoint of the existing prejudices of the peasantry, and not from that of the properly understood interests of the proletariat.

    Nationalisation of the land is a different matter. This demand (if it is interpreted in the bourgeois sense, and not in the socialist) does actually "go further" than the demand for the restitution of the cut-off lands, and in principle we fully endorse it. It goes without saying that, when the revolutionary moment comes, we shall not fail to advance it. But our present programme is being drawn up, not only for the period of revolutionary insurrection, not even so much for that period, as for the period of political slavery, for the


period that precedes political liberty. However, in this period the demand for the nationalisation of the land is much less expressive of the immediate tasks of the democratic movement in the meaning of a struggle against the serf-owning system. The demand for the establishment of peasant committees and for the restitution of the cut-off lands kindles this class struggle in the countryside directly and, consequently, cannot give occasion for any experiments in state socialism. The demand for the nationalisation of the land, on the other hand, to a certain extent diverts attention from the most striking manifestations and most outstanding survivals of serf-ownership. That is why our agrarian programme can and must be advanced at once as a means of stimulating the democratic movement among the peasants. However, to advance the demand for nationalisation of the land under the autocracy or even under a semi-constitutional monarchy would be quite wrong. For, while we lack firmly established and deep-rooted democratic political institutions, this demand will be much more likely to distract our minds towards absurd experiments in state socialism than to provide a stimulus "for the free development of the class struggle in the countryside."[*]

    That is why we think that, on the basis of the present social system, the maximum demand in our agrarian programme should not go beyond the democratic revision of the Peasant Reform. The demand for nationalisation of the land, while quite valid in principle and quite suitable at certain moments, is politically inexpedient at the present moment.

    It is interesting to note that, in his desire to reach just such a maximum as nationalisation of the land, Nadezhdin has gone astray (partly owing to his decision to confine him self in the programmo "to demands which the muzhik understands and needs"). Nadezhdin formulates the demand for nationalisation of the land as follows: "the conversion of <"fnp140">

    * Kautsky very rightly remarked in one of his articles against Vollmar: "In Britain the advanced workers may demand nationalisation of the land. But what would be the outcome if, in a militarist and police state like Germany, all the land became state property (eine Domäne )? This sort of state socialism has been realised, at least, to a considerable degree, in Mecklenburg." ("Vollmar und der Staatssozialismus ", Neue Zeit, 1891-92, X. 2, S. 710.)

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state, royal, church, and landlords' Iands into public property, into a national fund to be allocated to the working peasantry on long-term leases and on the most advantageous terms." The "muzhik" will, no doubt, understand this demand, but the Social-Democrat will probably not. The demand for nationalisation of the land is a demand of the Social-Democrat programme which is valid in principle only as a bourgeois and not as a socialist measure, for, as socialists, we demand the nationalisation of all the means of production. So long as we remain on the basis of bourgeois society we can demand only the transfer of ground rent to the state -- a transfer which in itself far from retarding would accelerate the capitalist evolution of agriculture. It follows that, in the first place, a Social-Democrat, while supporting bourgeois nationalisation of the land, must by no means exclude the peasants' land, as Nadezhdin has done. If we preserve a private system of economy on the land, merely abolishing private ownership of land, it would be utterly reactionary to exclude the small proprietor in this connection. In the second place, if such nationalisation took place, a Social-Democrat would resolutely oppose the leasing of national land "to the working peasantry" in preference to the agrarian capitalists. This preference would also be reactionary, given domination or preservation of the capitalist mode of production. If a democratic country undertook to carry out bourgeois nationalisation of the land, it would be the duty of that country's proletariat to show no preference either for small or big leaseholders, but to demand unconditionally that every leaseholder observe the labour protection laws (on the maximum working day, health regulations, etc., etc.) and the laws governing rational cultivation of the land and care of livestock. In practice, the proletariat's adoption of such a policy in the event of bourgeois nationalisation would of course be tantamount to hastening the victory of large-scale production over small-scale (in the same way as factory legislation speeds up that victory in industry).

    The desire to be "understood by the muzhik" at all costs has driven Nadezhdin into the jungle of a reactionary petty-bourgeois Utopia.* <"p142">

    * As for Nadezhdin, he has in our opinion acted very inconsistently by demanding, in his outline of an agrarian programme, the conver- [cont. onto p. 142. -- DJR] sion into "public property" of all kinds of land, except peasants' land, and allocations from a "national (land) fund" for "long-term leases to the working peasantry." In the first place, a Social-Democrat could not exclude peasant holdings from the general nationalisation of the land. Secondly, he would advocate nationalisation of the land only as a transition to large-scale communist, and not small individual, farming. Nadezhdin's mistake is probably due to his decision to limit the programme to "demands which the muzhik understands (italics mine) and needs."[53]

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    Thus, an analysis of objections to the demand for restitution of the cut-off lands convinces us that these objections are groundless. We must put forward the demand for the democratic revision of the Peasant Reform, or, to be precise, for the revision of the agrarian reforms contained in it. To determine the precise character, limits, and manner of carrying out this revision, we must demand the establishment of peasant committees which shall have the right to expropriate, redeem, exchange, etc., those cut-off lands in which survivals of the serf-owning system of economy are rooted.



    The fifth clause in our draft agrarian programme is closely bound up with the fourth. Clause 5 demands "empowerment of courts to reduce exorbitant rents and declare null and void all contracts entailing bondage." <"p142a"> Like Clause 4, it is directed against bondage; unlike Clause 4 it demands, not a single act of revision and reform of the agrarian system, but constant revision of civic rights. This is entrusted to the "courts," meaning, of course, not those miserable parodies of courts which form the "institute" of rural superintendents[54] (or even the Justices of the Peace, who are elected by the propertied c]asses from among property holders), but those courts re ferred to in §16 of the preceding section of our draft programme. This §16 demands that "industrial courts be set up in all branches of the national economy . . . " (hence in agriculture as well) " . . . with equal representation of workers and employers." Such composition of the courts would be a guarantee both of their democratic nature and free expression of the different class interests of the various sections of the rural population. Class antagonism would not be covered up with the fig-

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leaf of rotten bureaucratism -- that whited sepulchre for the remains of popular liberties -- but would stand out openly and clearly to the general view, thereby rousing the country folk from their patriarchal slumber. The election of judges from among the local inhabitants would guarantee their being familiar with agrarian life in general and its local features in particular. For the masses of the peasants, who could not come under the heading of "workers" or "employers," special rules would naturally be established to ensure equal representation of all elements of the rural population. Moreover, we, Social-Democrats, would categorica]ly insist under all circumstances, first, on separate representation for the agricultural wage-workers, however few they may be, and, secondly, that economically weak peasants and prosperous peasants should if possible be represented separately (for confusion of these two categories, not only results in false statistics, but leads to the oppression and constraint of the former by the latter in all fields of life).

    The competence of these courts would be twofold: firstly, they would be empowered to reduce rents where they are "exorbitant." This very wording in the programme recognises in oblique fashion how widespread this phenomenon is. The fact that the question of the level of rent would be examined by courts in open session and with both parties represented would be of enormous benefit, irrespective of what the court might decide. Reductions of rent (even though these reductions might be infrequent) would play their part in removing the remnants of serf-ownership: it is well known that in our countryside rent is more often of a serf-owning than a bourgeois nature; it is much more "money" rent (i.e., a modified form of feudal rent) than capitalist rent (i.e., the surplus over and above the profit of the employer). Reductions of rent would therefore directly help to replace serf-owning forms of farming by capitalist forms.

    Secondly, the courts would be empowered "to declare null and void all contracts entailing bondage." The meaning of "bondage" is not defined here, since it would be wholly undesirable to hamper the elected judges in the application of this clause. The Russian muzhik knows only too well what bondage is! From the scientific standpoint this concept covers all contracts which entail elements of usury (winter

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hiring, etc. ) or serfdom (labour rent for damage done by straying cattle, etc.).

    Clause 3, on the restitution of redemption payments to the people, is of a somewhat different nature. Here the doubts that Clause 4 evokes on the score of small property do not arise. On the other hand, the objectors point to both the practical infeasibility of this demand and the absence of a logical connection between this clause and the general section of our agrarian programme (= "the eradication of the remnants of the serf-owning system and the free development of the class struggle in the countryside"). Nevertheless, no one will deny that it is precisely the remnants of the serf-owning system that in their aggregate are the cause of the constant famines which affect millions of peasants and at once set Russia apart from all civilised nations. Even the autocracy has therefore been obliged more and more frequently to institute a special fund (utterly trifling, of course, and going more to line the pockets of embezzlers of state property and bureaucrats than for the relief of the famine-stricken) "for the cultural and charitable needs of the village communes." We, too, cannot but demand, among other democratic reforms, that such a fund be established. That can scarcely be disputed.

    The question now arises, from what source should the sum required for this fund be obtained? So far as we can judge, a progressive income-tax might be suggested to us: the rates of taxation on the incomes of the rich should be raised for the purpose, and the sums obtained thereby used for this fund. It would be only fair for the country's wealthiest citizens to contribute most for the maintenance of the famine-stricken and for expenditures on the greatest possible alleviation of calamities caused by famines. We would have nothing against such a measure either, which need not be specially mentioned in the programme since it is fully covered by the demand for a progressive income-tax, which is a separate item in the programme. But why confine oneself to this source? Why not try, in addition, to return to the people at least part of the tribute which yesterday's slaveowners extracted, and are still extracting, from the peasants with the assistance of the police state? Is not this tribute most closely bound up with the present-day famines? And would not the demand to return this tribute render us the

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greatest service in spreading and intensifying the revolutionary indignation of the peasants against all feudal landlords and against bondage of every kind?

    But, then -- the objection is raised -- this tribute cannot be returned in full. Quite so (just as the cut-off lands cannot be restituted in full). But if one cannot get the whole debt back, why not take part of it? What objection can there be to a special land-tax on the big landed nobility who received land redemption loans? The number of such owners of latifundia (which occasionally even become entailed estates) is quite considerable in Russia, and it would be only fair to make them bear a special responsibility for famines among the peasantry. It will be even fairer to confiscate in full monasterial property and royal demesnes, as property most thoroughly steeped in traditions of serf-ownership and serving to enrich the most reactionary and socially most harmful drones, and at the same time to withdraw no small amount of land from civil and commercial circulation. Confiscation of such estates would therefore be wholly in the interests of all social development[*]; it would be precisely the sort of partial bourgeois nationallsation of the land that could under no circumstances lead to the hocus-pocus of "state socialism." It would be of direct and enormous political importance in strengthening the democratic institutions of the new Russia; and at the same time it would also provide additional funds for famine relief.



    Finally, as to the first two clauses of our agrarian programme, there is no need to dwell on them at length. "Abolition of land redemption and quit-rent payments, as well as of all services now imposed on the peasantry as a taxable social estate" (Clause 1) is something that is self-evident to every Social-Democrat. Moreover, no doubts arise as to the practical feasibility of this measure, so far as we can judge. The second clause demands "annulment of collective liability and <"fnp145">

    * With regard to the leasing of these confiscated estates, the Social-Democrats should by no means pursue a specifically peasant policy, but should at once pursue the policy outlined by us above in our objections to Nadezhdin.

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of all laws restricting the peasant . . . " (note: "peasant" and not "peasants") " . . . in the free disposal of his land." Here we must say a few words about the much-vaunted and memorable "village commune." Actually, of course, the annulment of collective liability (Mr. Witte may manage to put this particular reform through before the revolution), the abolition of division into social-estates, freedom of movement, and the right for each individual peasant freely to dispose of his land will rapidly and inevitably bring about the removal of the burden of taxation and serf-bondage that the land commune to a three-fourths extent constitutes at the present time. But this result will only prove the correctness of our views on the village commune, prove how incompatible it is with the entire social and economic development of capitalism. The result will by no means follow from any particular measure recommended by us "against the village commune," for we never have supported and never shall support a single measure aimed directly against this or that system of peasant land tenure. Moreover, we shall unreservedly defend the village commune as a democratic organisation of local government, as a co-operative or a neighbours' association, against all encroachments on the part of the bureaucrats -- encroachments which find such favour with opponents of the village commune in the camp of Moskovskiye Vedomosti.[55] We shall never help any one to "destroy the village commune," but we shall strive absolutely for the abolition of all institutions that run counter to democracy, irrespective of the effect of this abolition on the basic or partial reallotment of the land, etc.; that is where we differ fundamentally from the Narodniks -- overt and covert, consistent and inconsistent, timid and bold -- who, on the one hand, are "of course" democrats, and on the other, fear to resolutely and unequivocally define their attitude towards such elementary democratic demands as full freedom of movement, complete abolition of the social estate nature of the peasant commune, and, consequently, utter annulment of collective liability, and abolition of all laws restricting the peasant in the free disposal of his land.*

    * This is the touchstone we should apply to the numerous radicals in Russia (and even revolutionaries, of Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii ) who in this question are inclined to sit between two stools.

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    The objection may be raised that, by sanctifying the individual will of each particular peasant, the latter measure will destroy the village commune, not only as a system of land reallotment, etc., but outright, even as a co-operative neighbours' association. Each individual peasant will have the right to demand, despite the will of the majority, that his land be allotted to him as a separate plot. Does this not run counter to the general tendency of all socialists to fur ther the extension rather than the restriction of the right of the collective body over the individual?

    To this we reply that it does not at all follow from our formulation that every peasant must necessarily demand that a separate plot of land be allotted to him. What does follow is only liberty to sell the land; moreover, the preferential right of the commune members to purchase land that is being sold does not run counter to this liberty.

    The annulment of collective liability would turn all members of the peasant commune into free co-owners of a certain plot of land; as to what eIse they will then make of this plot, that is their business and will depend on common civil law and on whatever special agreements they enter into among themselves. With regard to extending the right of the collective body over the individual, such extension is upheld by the socialists only when it is in the interests of technical and social progress.* In this form, naturally, we too would uphold any appropriate law if only it referred not just to the small property-owners alone, or just to the peasants alone, but in general to all those who own land.



    In conclusion, let us sum up the fundamental principles on which our agrarian programme is based. Anyone who has had occasion to engage in drawing up programmes or enter <"fnp">

    * Kautskv, for instance, conisiders it correct to demand "the restriction of the rights of private property in land in the interests of 1) demarcation of land holdings, abolishing strip-farming, 2) raising standards of agrlculture, 3) preventing epidemics" (Die Agrarfrage, S. 437). Demands of this sort, which are fully justifled, are not and should not be connected in any way with the peasant commune.

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into the details of their drafting in other countries knows that one and the same thought can be formulated in the most diverse ways. What we hold important is that all the comrades to whom we are now suhmitting our draft for consideration should reach common ground, first and foremost, on the fundamental principles. Then this or that specific feature in the formulation will not be of decisive importance.

    We hold that the class struggle is the main factor also in the sphere of agrarian relationships in Russia. We base our entire agrarian policy (and, consequently, our agrarian programme as well) on unswerving recognition of this fact along with all consequences resulting from it. Our principal immediate aim is to clear the way for the free development of the class struggle in the countryside, the class struggle of the proletariat, which is directed towards attainment of the ultimate aim of the international Social-Democratic movement, the conquest of political power by the proletariat, and the laying of the foundations of a socialist society. By declaring the class struggle our guiding line in all "agrarian questions," we resolutely and for all time dissociate ourselves from adherents, so numerous in Russia, of half-hearted and nebulous theories, such as "Narodnik," "ethico-sociological," "critical," social-reformist, and whatever else they may be called!

    To clear the way for the free development of the class struggle in the countryside, it is necessary to remove all remnants of serfdom, which now overlie the beginnings of capitalist antagonisms among the rural population, and keep them from developing. And we are making a final attempt to help the peasantry sweep away all these remnants at a single decisive blow -- "final" because developing Russian capitalism is itself spontaneously doing the very same work, is making for the very same goal, but making for it along its own peculiar road of violence and oppression, ruin and starvation. The transition from exploitation by the serf-owners to capitalist exploitation is inevitable, and it would be a harmful and reactionary illusion to attempt to hold it back or to "get round" it. But this transition is also conceivable in the form of the forcible overthrow of those heirs of the serf-owners who, relying on the tradition of the former power of the slaveowner, rather than on the "power of money," are sucking the last

drops of blood from the patriarchal peasantry. This patriarchal peasantry, which lives under a system of natural econ omy by the labour of its hands, is doomed to disappear, but there is no "necessity" or any "immanent" law of social and economic evolution that dooms it to endure the torment of being "ground down by taxes," of floggings, or a long-drawn out, horribly protracted death by starvation.

    And so, without harbouring any illusions about it being possible for the small producers to thrive or even to lead a tolerable existence in a capitalist society (such as Russia is becoming to a greater and greater extent), we demand the complete and unconditional revolutionary and not reformative annulment and eradication of the survivals of serf ownership; we hold that the lands which the government of the nobility cut off from the peasantry and which to this day still serve to keep the peasants in virtual bondage are peasants' lands. <"p149"> Thus, we take our stand -- by way of exception and by reason of the specific historical circumstances -- as defenders of small property; but we defend it only in its struggle against what has come down from the "old order," and only on condition that those institutions be abolished which retard the transformation of the patriarchal Oblomov villages,[56] frozen in their immobi]ity, backwardness, and neglect, on condition of the establishment of complete freedom of movement, freedom to dispose of land, and the complete abolition of division into social-estates. We want to supplement democratic revision of the state and civil laws of Russia with democratic, revolutionary revision of the notorious "Peasant Reform."

    Guided by these principles of agrarian policy, any Russian Social-Democrat who finds himself in the countryside will be able to see his way in the intricate maze of relationships there, and will be able to "adapt" his strictly consistent revolutionary propaganda and agitation to these relationships. He will not be caught napping by a possible movement in the peasantry (which already seems to have started here and there). He will not then limit himself to those demands on behalf of wage-workers in agriculture which are set forth in detail in the section on the immediate "working-class" demands of our programme, and which, of course, he will advance every where and at all times. Among the peasantry too he will be


able to give an impulse to the genera] democratic movement which (if it is destined to pass beyond the embryonic stage in our countryside) will begin with the struggle against the former serf-owners in the countryside, and end in an uprising against that most formidable and foul remnant of the serf-owning system known as the tsarist autocracy.

*     *

    P. S. This article was written before the outbreak of the peasant uprisings in the south of Russia in the spring of this year.[57] These events have fully confirmed the principles set forth in this article. As to the tactical tasks which are now presenting themselves more forcibly than ever to our Party in its "rural" work, we hope to deal with them next time.



  <"en46">[46] Written in February and the first half of March 1902, the article, "The Agrarian Programme of Russian Social-Democracy," which V. I. Lenin called a commentary to the agrarian section of the R.S.D.L.P.'s draft programme, was published in Zarya, No. 4, in August 1902. When the article was discussed by the Iskra Editorial Board, serious differences of opinion arose: G. V. Plekhanov, P. B. Axelrod and other members of the board opposed certain of its most important propositions (e.g., on land nationalisation, etc.). A number of passages, including those dealing with land nationalisation, were omitted when this article was published in Zarya.
    The article in the present edition of V. I. Lenin's Collected Works is published according to the original manuscript.
    The postscript is not contained in the manuscript; it is given here from the text of the article in Zarya.    [p.107]

  <"en47">[47] The reference is to Karl Kautsky's book, Die Agrarfrage. Eine Übersicht über die Tendensen der modernen Landwirtschaft und die Agrarpolitik der Sozialdemokratie. (The Agrarian Question.

A Review of the Tendencies of Modern Agriculture and the Agrarian Policy of Social-Democracy ), published in Stuttgart in 1899. [Transcriber's Note: For a very brief overview of Kauksky's text see Lenin's "review", and for an extended discussion of the text in the face of criticism from Bulgakov, see Lenin's Capitalism in Agriculture. -- DJR]    [p.121]

  <"en48">[48] Narodnaya Volya (The People's Will ) -- a secret political organisation of Narodnik terrorists, which arose in August 1879, following a split in the secret society Zemlya i Volya (Land and Liberty). The Narodnaya Volya was headed by an Executive Committee which included A. I. Zhelyabov, A. D. Mikhailov, M. F. Frolenko, N. A. Morozov, V. N. Figner, S. L. Perovskaya, A. A. Kvyatkovsky. While continuing to uphold Utopian Narodnik socialism, the members of the Narodnaya Volya (Narodovoltsi) at the same time put forward the task of achieving political liberty. Their programme envisaged the organisation of "permanent popular representation" created on the basis of universal suffrage, the proclamation of democratic liberties, the transfer of the land to the people, and the working out of measures for handing over the factories to the workers. The overthrow of the tsarist autocracy was the immediate aim of the Narodnaya Volya, but, since it had no links with the masses, the Narodovoltsi took the path of political plots and individual terrorism.
    After March 1, 1881 (the assassination of Alexander II), the government smashed the Narodnaya Volya organisation by savage persecution, executions, and provocation. Repeated attempts to revive the Narodnaya Volya during the eighties proved fruitless. In 1886, for instance, a group was formed under the leadership of A. I. Ulyanov (the brother of V. I. Lenin) and P. Y. Shevyrev, which adopted the traditions of the Narodnaya Volya. After an unsuccessful attempt on the life of Alexander III in 1887, the group was uncovered and its active members executed.
    While criticising the erroneous Utopian programme of the Narodovoltsi, V. I. Lenin at the same time held in high regard the self-sacrificing struggle against tsarism waged by the members of the Narodnaya Volya organisation. In 1899 he pointed out in "A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats" that "the members of the old Narodnaya Volya managed to play an enormous role in the history of Russia, despite the fact that only narrow social strata supported the few heroes, and despite the fact that it was by no means a revolutionary theory which served as the banner of the movement" (see present edition, Vol. 4, p. 181).    [p.122]

  <"en49">[49] Lenin has in mind the gubernia committees set up in 1857-58 in all the gubernias of European Russia (with the exception of Archangel Gubernia) to draw up drafts for the emancipation of the peasants from serfdom. The committees consisted of persons elected from among the nobility (hence the name "committees of nobles") and, in the main, they were engaged in seeking ways and means of carrying out the "Peasant Reform" in a way to give the nobility the greatest benefit from it.    [p.126]

  <"en50">[50] The Valuyeu Commission -- the "Commission to Investigate the Condition of Russian Agriculture," which functioned under the chairmanship of the tsar's minister P. A. Valuyev. In the years 1872-73 the commission collected a large amount of material dealing with the condition of agriculture in post-Reform Russia: governors' reports, statements and depositions of landlords, Marshals of the Nobility, Zemstvo administrations, volost boards grain merchants, village priests, kulaks, statistical and agricultural societies and other bodies connected with agriculture. This material was published in Papers of the Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Russian Agriculture, St. Petersburg, 1873.    [p.129]

  <"en51">[51] Oblomov -- a landowner, the chief character in a novel of the same name by the Russian writer I. A. Goncharov. Oblomov was the personification of routine, stagnation, and incapacity for action. The name is used here in a generic sense to signify the Russian landowner.    [p.132]

  <"en52">[52] "General Redistribution " -- a slogan popular among the peasants of tsarist Russia and expressing their desire for a general redistribution of the land.    [p.138]

  <"en53">[53] The criticism of Nadezhdin's opportunist views given on pages 140-41 of this volume (beginning with the words: "It is interesting to note that, in his desire to reach just such a maximum as nationalisation of the land, Nadezhdin has gone astray . . . " and ending with the words: "The desire to be 'understood by the muzhik' at all costs has driven Nadezhdin into the jungle of a reactionary petty-bourgeois Utopia") was omitted by the Editorial Board when the article was first published in Zarya, No 4. Nor did Zarya print the footnote which Lenin wrote to replace the omitted text.
    In the present edition the text and footnote are given according to Lenin's manuscript.    [p.142]

  <"en54">[54] Rural superintendent (Zemsky Nachalnik ) -- an administrative post instituted by the tsarist government in 1889 to strengthen the authority of the landlords over the peasants. The rural superintendents were appointed from among the local landed nobility and were granted extensive powers, not merely administrative but also judicial.    [p.142]

  <"en55">[55] Moskovskiye Vedomosti (Moscow Recorder ) -- one of the oldest Russian newspapers, published by Moscow University from 1756 (originally as a one-sheet paper). During 1863-87 it was published and edited by M. N. Katkov, an extreme reactionary and chauvinist, who was bitterly opposed to the least signs of progressive social thought and transtormed the newspaper into a monarchist nationalist organ voicing the views of the most reactionary sections of the landlords and clergy. From 1905 Moskovskiye Vedomosti was one of the chief organs of the Black Hundreds. It was closed down at the end of 1917.    [p.146]

  <"en56">[56] Oblomovka -- the name of a village belonging to the landlord Oblomov. (See Note 51.) Here the word "Oblomovka" is used to denote a Russian village in the days of tsarism.    [p.149]

  <"en57">[57] The reference is to the peasant movement in the Poltava and Kharkov gubernias at the end of March and beginning of April 1902 -- the first large-scale revolutionary action of Russian peasants at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was sparked by the desperate condition of the peasants in these gubernias, which became still worse in the spring of 1902 owing to the crop failure of 1901 and the resulting famine. The peasants demanded a redistribution of the land, but in the 1902 movement they limited themselves in the main to seizing stocks of food and fodder on the landlords' estates. In all, 56 estates in Poltava Gubernia and 24 in Kharkov Gubernia were attacked. Troops were dispatched to crush the peasants. These reprisals by the tsarist government resulted in many peasants being killed, all the inhabitants of certain villages flogged, and hundreds of peasants condemned to varying terms of imprisonment. The peasants were forced to pay an indemnity of 800,000 rubles for "losses" caused to the landlords by the peasant disorders. In his pamphlet, To the Rural Poor (see pp. 424-30 of this volume), V. I. Lenin gave an analysis of the aims and character and causes of the defeat of the peasant movement in the Kharkov and Poltava gubernias, and the causes of its defeat.    [p.150]