The Agrarian Question in Russia

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V. I. Lenin


First published in 1918 as
a separate pamphlet by the
Zhizn i Znaniye Publishers

Published according  
to the pamphlet text  

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1963

Vol. 15, pp. 69-147.

Translated from the Russian
Edited by Andrew Rothstein and Bernard Isaacs

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (September 1997)
<"p69"> <"p71x">

    The object of this article is to give a brief outline of the sum total of the social and economic relations in Russian agriculture. A work of this kind cannot bear the character of a special research. It must sum up the results of Marxist research, it must indicate the place of every more or less important feature of our agricultural economy in the general scheme of the Russian national economy, it must trace the general line of development of agrarian relations in Russia and ascertain the class forces which determine that development, one way or another. Therefore we shall examine from this point of view the system of landownership in Russia, then the landlord and peasant systems of farming, and lastly draw general conclusions as to what our evolution during the nineteenth century has led to, and what tasks it has bequeathed to the twentieth century.



    We are able to outline the system of landownership in European Russia towards the close of the nineteenth century according to the returns of the latest land statistics of 1905<"p71"> (published by the Central Statistical Committee, St. Petersburg, 1907[46]).

    The total area of registered land in European Russia according to this investigation was 395.2 million dessiatines.* This area was divided into three main groups as follows:

    * Dessiatine = 2.7 acres. -- Tr.


1st group: Privately-owned land  .   .   .   .   .
2nd group: Allotment land   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
3rd group: State lands, etc. .   .   .   .   .   .   .


Total in European Russia  .   .   .   .   .


    It should be said that our statistics include among state lands more than one hundred million dessiatines in the Far North, in the Archangel, Olonets and Vologda gubernias.[*] A great part of the state lands must be excluded, once we are dealing with the real area of agricultural lands in European Russia. In my work on the agrarian programme of the Social-Democrats in the Russian revolution (written at the end of 1907, but delayed in publication through circumstances beyond the control of the author), I estimate the actual area of agricultural lands in European Russia at approximately 280 million dessiatines.[**] This figure includes not 150 million but 39.5 million dessiatines of state land. Hence, less than one-seventh of the total land area in European Russia is not in the possession of the landlords and the peasants. Six-sevenths are in the hands of the two antagonistic classes.

    Let us examine the way the land is owned by these classes, which differ from each other also as social-estates, since the greater part of the privately-owned lands belongs to the nobility, while the allotment lands are held by the peasants. Out of 101.7 million dessiatines of privately-owned land, 15.8 million dessiatines belong to societies and associations, while the remaining 85.9 million dessiatines belong to private individuals. The following table shows the distribu- <"fnp72">

    * Gubernia, uyezd, volost -- Russian administrative-territorial units. The largest of these was the gubernia, which had its subdivisions in uyezds, which in turn were subdivided into volosts. This system of districting continued under the Soviet power until the introduction of the new system of administrative-territorial division of the country in 1929-30. --Ed.
    ** See present edition, Vol. 13, p. 221. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in the First Russian Revolution, 1905-07. -- DJR]

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tion of the latter category of land according to social-estates in 1905, and the parallel figures for 1877:

Social-estate of owners



Incr. or decr.
in 1905







Nobility  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Clergy .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Merchants and notable citizens   .   .
Urban petty bourgeois .   .   .   .   .
Peasants  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Other social-estates .   .   .   .   .   .
Foreign subjects .   .   .   .   .   .   .







Total belonging to private owners







    Thus the principal private owners of land in Russia are the nobility. They own an enormous amount of land. But the trend of development is towards a decline in landownership by the nobility. Landownership by people irrespective of the social-estate they belongtois increasing, and increasing very rapidly. The speediest increase in the period hetween 1877 and 1905 was in landownership by "other social-estates" (eightfold in the 28 years), and then by peasants (more than twofold). The peasants are consequently increasingly crystallising out social elements which are turning into private owners of land. This is a general fact. And in our analysis of peasant farming we shall have to ascertain the social and economic mechanism which is carrying out this crystallisation. For the time being, we must definitely establish the fact that private ownership of land in Russia is developing away from social-estate to non-social-estate ownership. At the end of the nineteenth century, feudal landownership of the nobility still embraced the overwhelming majority of all privately-owned lands, but the trend of development is obviously towards the creation of bourgeois private landownership. Private ownership of land acquired by inheritance from the olden-time

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armed retainers, manorial landouners, and tenants by service, etc., is on the decline. Private ownership of land acquired purely and simply with money is on the increase. The power of land is declining, the power of money is growing. Land is being drawn more and more into the stream of commerce; and later on we shall see that this process is going on to a far greater extent than the mere statistics of landownership indicate.

    But to what extent the "power of the land", that is to say, the power of medieval landlordism, was still strong in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century is strikingly shown by the figures of the distribution of privately-owned land according to size of properties. The source from which we quote the figures specifies in particular detail the data concerning private landownership on the biggest scale. The following is the distribution according to size of properties:

Groups of properties

Number of

Total area of
land (dess.)

Average dess.
per property

    10 dess. and less
     10 to      50 dess.  
     50 to     500  "
    500 to  2,000  "
  2,000 to 10,000  "
     Over 10,000  "




Total over 500 dess.




Grand total for European Russia




    These figures show that small properties represent an insignificant share of the land owned by private individuals. Six-sevenths of all landowners -- 619,000 out of 753,000 -- possess 6.5 million dessiatines of land in all. On the other hand enormous latifundia exist: seven hundred owners possess, on the average, 30,000 desslatines of land each. These seven hundred people possess three times as much land as do 600,000 small owners. And in general the

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latifundia represent a distingnishing feature of Russian private landownership. If we take all properties over 500 dessiatines, we get 28,000 owners, possessing 62 million dessiatines, or an average of 2,227 dessiatines each. These 28,000 possess three-fourths of all the privately-owned land.[*] Taken from the angle of the social-estates to which their owners belong, these enormous latifundia are mainly the property of the nobility. Of 27,833 properties, 18,102, i.e., almost two-thirds, belong to members of the nobility, who possess 44.5 million dessiatines of land, i.e., more than 70 per cent of the total latifundia land. Thus it is clear that in Russia, at the end of the nineteenth century, an enormous amount of land -- and the best land at that -- was concentrated as before (in the medieval way) in the hands of that privileged social-estate, the nobility, in the hands of the serf-owning landlords of yesterday. Below we shall describe in detail the forms of economy that are taking shape on these latifundia. For the moment we shall merely allude briefly to the well-known fact, strikingly described by Mr. Rubakin, that high-ranking members of the bureaucracy figure, one after another,<"p75"> among these owners of latifundia held by the nobility.[47]

    Let us now pass to allotment holdings. Except for 1.9 million dessiatines, not allocated according to size of holding, all the rest of the land, totalling 136.9 million dessiatines, belongs to 12 1/4 million peasant households. On the average this is 11.1 dessiatines per household. But allotment land too is distributed unevenly: almost half, i.e., 64 million out of 137 million dessiatines, belongs to 2.1 million households rich in land, i.e., to one-sixth of the total number.

    Here are the returns showing the distribution of allotment land in European Russia: <"fnp75">

    * In order not to overburden the text with quotations, let us state now that most of our data are taken from the above-mentioned work and from The Development of Capitalism in Russia, 2nd ed., St. Petersburg, 1908. (See present edition, Vol. 3, pp. 21-607. --Ed.)

Groups of households

Number of

Total dess.

Average dess.
per household

  Up to 5 dess.
    5 to 8 dess




Total up to 8 dess.




   8 to 15 dess.
 15 to 30 dess.
  Over 30 dess.




Total for European Russia




    Thus more than half of the allotment households, 6.2 million out of 12.3, have up to 8 dessiatines per household. Taken on the average for Russia as a whole, this amount of land is absolutely insufficient to maintain a family. In order to judge the economic condition of these households, let us recall the general returns of the army-horse censuses (the only statistics which periodically and regularly cover the whole of Russia). In 48 gubernias of European Russia, i.e., excluding the Don Region and Archangel Gubernia, a count taken in the years 1896-1900 showed a total of 11,112,287 peasant households. Of these, 3,242,462, i.e., 29.2 per cent, had no horses, and 3,361,778, or 30.3 per cent, had one horse each. We know what a horseless peasant in Russia is (of course we are dealing here with gross figures and not with exceptional districts specialising in suburban dairy farming or tobacco-growing, etc.). We also know of the poverty and want suffered by the peasant who owns one horse. Six million households stand for a population of from 24 to 30 million. And this whole mass consists of paupers, who have been allotted paltry strips of land which can provide no livelihood, and on which one can only die of starvation. If we assume that in order to make ends meet on a more or less solvent farm not less than 15 dessiatines are required, then we get 10 million peasant households below that standard, possessing 72.9 million dessiatines of land.

    To proceed. In regard to allotment holdings, a very important feature must be noted. The unevenness in the distribution of allotment land among the peasants is immeasurably less than that in the distribution of privately-owned

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land. On the other hand, among the allotment-holding peasants there is a host of other distinctions, classifications and divisions. These are the distinctions between the various categories of peasants that have arisen historically, in the course of many centuries. In order to give a graphic illustration of these divisions, let us first take the total returns for the whole of European Russia. The statistics for 1905 give the following main categories: peasants who formerly were landlords' serfs -- on the average, 6.7 dessiatines of allotment land per household; peasants who formerly were state serfs -- 12.5 dessiatines; peasants who formerly were crown-land serfs -- 9.5 dessiatines; colonists -- 20.2 dessiatines; Chinsh peasants -- 3.1 dessiatines; Rezeshi -- <"p77">5.3 dessiatines; Bashkirs and Teptyars[48] -- 28.3 dessiatines; Baltic peasants -- 36.9 dessiatines; Cossacks 52.7 dessiatines. From this alone it is clear that peasant allotment landownership is purely medieval. Serfdom still lives on in this multiplicity of divisions which have survived among the peasants. The various categories differ from each other, not only in the amount of land they possess, but also in the size of redemption payments, terms of purchase, character of landownership, etc. Instead of taking all-round figures for the whole of Russia, let us take the figures for a single gubernia, and we shall see what all these divisions mean.<"p77a"> Take the Zemstvo Statistical Returns for Saratov Gubernia.[49] Apart from the categories for Russia as a whole, i.e., those already enumerated above, we find that local investigators distinguish the following additional categories: gift-land peasants; full owners; state peasants with communal holdings; state peasants with quarter holding; state peasants who formerly were landlords' serfs; state-land tenants; colonist freeholders; settlers; manumitted peasants;<"p77b"> peasants who do not pay quit rent; free tillers; former factory-bound peasants, etc.[50] This system of medieval divisions is carried so far that sometimes peasants living in one and the same village are divided into two quite distinct categories, like peasants "formerly owned by Mr. N. N." and "formerly owned by Madame M. M.". This fact is usually ignored by our writers of the liberal-Narodnik camp, who are incapable of seeing Russian economic relations in development, as the replace-

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ment of the feudal order by the bourgeois order. As a matter of fact, unless the full significance of this is appreciated, one cannot begin to understand the history of Russia in the nineteenth century, and particularly the direct results of that history, the events in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century. A country in which exchange is growing and capitalism is developing cannot but undergo crises of all kinds if in the principal branch of the national economy medieval relations constitute an obstacle and hindrance at every step.<"p78"> The notorious village commune[51] -- the significance of which we shall have to discuss later -- does not save the peasant from turning into a proletarian, yet in practice acts as a medieval barrier dividing the peasants, who are, as it were, chained to small associations and to categories which have lost all "reason for existence".

    Before proceeding to draw our final conclusions about the ownership of land in European Russia, we must refer to yet another aspect of the question. Neither the figures of the amount of land belonging to the"upper 30,000" land lords and to the millions of peasant households, nor the data concerning the medieval divisions in peasant landown ership are sufficient to enable us to estimate the actual degree to which our peasant is "hemmed in", oppreissed and crushed by these living survivals of serfdom. In the first place,<"p78a"> the lands allotted to the peasants after that expropriation of the peasants for the landlords' benefit which is called the Great Reform of 1861,[52] are of incomparably inferior quality to the land in the possession of the landlords. This is borne out by all the vast literature describing and investigating local conditions issued by the Zemstvo statisticians. It is supported by a mass of irrefutable evidence showing the lower yield on peasant land as compared with that on the landlords' land; it is generally admitted that this difference is due primarily to the inferior quality of the allotment lands, and only secondarily to inferior cultivation and the deficiencies of beggarly peasant farming. Moreover, in a host of cases when the peasants were "freed" from the land by the landlords in 1861, the land was allocated in such a way that the peasants found themselves ensnared by "their" landlords. Russian Zemstvo statistical literature has enriched the science of political economy

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with descriptions of the remarkably original, truly native method, hardly to be found anywhere else in the world, of conducting landlord economy. This is the method of farming by means of cut-off lands. The peasants were "freed" in 1861 from the watering-places for cattle, from pastures, etc., necessary for their farms. The peasants' lands were wedged in between those of the landlords in such a way as to provide these gentry with an exceedingly reliable -- and exceedingly noble -- source of revenue in the shape of fines for damages caused by stray cattle, etc. "There's no room to turn a chicken out" -- this bitter peasant truth, this grim "humour of the gallows-bird" describes better than any long quotations that peculiar feature of peasant land ownership which is beyond the power of statistics to express. Needless to say, this peculiar feature is serfdom pure and simple, both in its origin and in the effect it has upon the method of organisation of landlord economy.

    We will now draw our conclusions regarding landownership in European Russia. We have shown the conditions of landlord and peasant landownership taken separately. We must now examine them in their interrelation. In order to do so let us take the approximate fgure, quoted above, of the size of the land area in European Russia -- 280 million dessiatines -- and see how all this land is distributed among the various types of holdings. We shall describe the various types in detail later on; for the moment, running somewhat ahead, we will take tentatively the main types. Holdings up to 15 dessiatines per household we shall place in the first group -- ruined peasants, crushed by feudal exploitation. The second group will consist of the middle peasantry -- holdings ranging from 15 to 20 dessiatines. The third group -- well-to-do peasants (peasant bourgeoisie) and capitalist landowners -- holdings ranging from 20 to 500 dessiatines. The fourth group consists of feudal latifundia, exceeding 500 dessiatines. By combining in these groups the peasant and landlord holdings, and by rounding off the figures somewhat,* and making approximate calcula-

    * For example, among the latifundia are included, besides the 62 million dessiatines of landlords' land, 5.1 million dessiatines of demesne lands and 3.6 million dessiatines of land belonging to 272 trading and industrial companies, each owning more than 1,000 dessiatines.

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tions (which I have indicated in detail in the work mentioned above), we get the following picture of Russian landownership towards the close of the nineteenth century:

Landownership in European Russia Towards the
Close of the Nineteenth Century


Number of

Total area
of land

dess. per

(a) Ruined peasantry, crushed by
   feudal exploitation
(b) Middle peasantry
(c) Peasant bourgeoisie and
   capitalist landownership
(d) Feudal latifundia




Not classified according to size of




         Grand total




    We repeat: the correctness of the economic description of the groups taken will be proved later on. And if particular details of this picture (which cannot but be approximate) give rise to criticism, we shall ask the reader to take good care that this criticism of details is not used as a screen for denying the substance of the matter. And the substance of the matter is that at one pole of Russian landownership we have 10.5 million households (about 50 million of the population) with 75 million dessiatines of land, and at the other pole thirty thousand families (about 150,000 of the population) with 70 million dessiatines of land.

    To finish with the question of landownership we must now go beyond the confines of European Russia proper and examine, in general outline, the significance of colonisation. In order to give the reader some idea of the total land area in the Russian Empire (excluding Finland) let us refer to the flgures compiled by Mr. Mertvago. For the sake of clarity we give the figures in tabulated form, adding the figures of the population according to the census of 1897.

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Total land area



in 1897



Lands of
which no
data are








Million Dessiatins

10 gubernias in King-
  dom of Poland
38 gubernias west of
  the Volga
12 gubernias north
  and east of Volga
Total for 50 gubernias
  of European Russia
Central Asia
Total for Asiatic
Total for Russian











    [¥] [Transcriber's Note: This same table is used by Lenin in his The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in the First Russian Revolution, 1905-07 (p.249), and there an asterisk is placed after "Russian Empire" with a note that Finland is excluded. -- DJR]

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    These figures clearly show how little we know as yet about the outlying regions of Russia. Of course it would be the height of absurdity to think of "solving" the agrarian question in Russia proper by migration to outlying regions. There is not the slightest doubt that only charlatans could propose such a "solution", that those contradictions between the old latifundia in European Russia and the new conditions of life and economy in that same European Russia to which we referred above, will have to be "solved" by a radical change of one kind or another within European Russia, and not outside it. The point is not that of delivering the peasants from the survivals of feudalism by means of migration. The fact is that, side by side with the agrarian question of the centre of Russia, we have the agrarian question of colonisation. The point is not that of covering up the crisis in European Russia with the question of colonisation, but of showing the disastrous effects of the feudal latifundia both in the centre and in the outlying districts. Russian colonisation is being hindered by the remnants of serfdom in the centre of Russia. Except by an agrarian revolution in European Russia, except by liberating the peasants from the oppression of the feudal latifundia there can be no clearing the way for, and regulation of, Russian colonisation. This regulation must consist not of bureaucratic "concern" for migration nor of the "organisation of migration", about which the writers in the liberal-Narodnik camp like to talk, but of eliminating the conditions which condemn the Russian peasant to ignorance, squalor, and backwardness in a state of permanent bondage to the owners of latifundia.

    In his pamphlet (How Much Land There Is in Russia and How We Use It, Moscow, 1907), written in conjunction with Mr. Prokopovich, Mr. Mertvago justly points out that the advance of agriculture turns bad land into good land. Academicians Baer and Helmersen, experts on the subject wrote in 1845 that the Taurida Steppe "owing to the climate, and the scarcity of water will always<"p82"> be one of the poorest and least suitable regions for cultivation!"[53] At that time the population of Taurida Gubernia produced 1.8 million chetverts* of grain. Sixty years later the population had doubled,

    * Chetverts = 5.77 bushels. --Ed.

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and produces 17.6 million chetverts, i.e., almost ten times as much.

    That is a true and important observation, but Mr. Mertvago forgot one thing: the principal factor making for the rapid colonisation of Novorossia was the fall of serfdom in the centre of Russia. Only the upheaval in the centre made it possible to settle and industrialise the South rapidly, extensively, in the American way (a very great deal has been said about the American growth of southern Russia after 1861). And now, too, only a radical change in European Russia, only the complete elimination of the remnants of serfdom there, the deliverance of the peasantry from the grip of the medieval latifundia, can really open a new era of colonisation.

    The colonisation question in Russia is a subordinateone in relation to the agrarian question in the centre of the country. The end of the nineteenth century confronts us with the alternative: either the survivals of serfdom are decisively abolished in the "primordial" gubernias of Russia, in which case rapid, extensive, American-style development in the colonisation of our outlying regions is assured; or the agrarian question in the centre drags on, in which case development of the productive forces will necessarily be long delayed, and feudal traditions will be preserved in colonisation as well. In the first case, agriculture will be carried on by a free farmer; in the second case by a debt-bound muzhik and by a gentleman "carrying on" by means of "cut-off" lands.



    Let us now examine the organisation of the landlord economy. It is generally known that the main feature of this organisation is the combination of the capitalist system ("free hire") and labour-service economy. What is this labour-service system?

    To answer this question we must glance back to the organisation of landlord economy under serfdom. Everyone knows what serfdom was legally, administratively and domestically. But seldom do people ask themselves, what essentially were the economic relations between the landlords and the peasants under serfdom? At that time the landlords allotted land to the peasants. Sometimes they loaned the peasants

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other means of production too, for example, wood lots, cattle, etc. What did this allotment of the landlords' land to the serf peasants mean? The allotment at that time was a form of wages, to employ a term applicable to present-day relationships. In capitalist production, wages are paid to the workers in money. The profit of the capitalist is realised in the form of money. Necessary labour and surplus-labour (i.e., the labour that pays for the maintenance of the worker and the labour that yields unpaid surplus-value to the capitalist) are combined in the single process of labour in the factory, in a single working day at the factory, etc. The situation is different in the corvée economy. Here, too, there is necessary labour and surplus-labour, just as there is in the system of slavery. But these two kinds of labour are separated in time and space. The serf peasant works three days for his lord and three days for himself. He works for his lord on the latter's land or on the production of grain for him. For himself he works on allotted land, producing for himself and for his family the grain that is necessary for maintaining labour-power for the landlord.

    Consequently, the feudal or corvée system of economy is similar to the capitalist system in that under both systems the one who works receives only the product of necessary labour, and turns over the product of surplus-labour gratis to the owner of the means of production. Serfdom, however, differs from the capitalist system in the three following respects. First, serf economy is natural economy, whereas capitalist economy is money economy. Secondly, in serf economy the instrument of exploitation is the tying of the worker to the land, the allotting of land to him, whereas under the capitalist economy it is the releasing of the worker from the land. In order to obtain an income (i.e., surplus product), the serf-owning landlord must have on his land a peasant who possesses an allotment, implements and livestock. A landless, horseless, non-farming peasant is useless as an object of feudal exploitation. In order to obtain an income (profit), the capitalist must have before him precisely a worker without land and without a farm, one who is compelled to sell his labour-power on a free labour-market. Thirdly, the allotment-holding peasant must be personally dependent upon the landlord, because he will not, possessing

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land, work for the landlord except under coercion. This system of economy gives rise to "non-economic coercion", to serfdom, juridical dependence, lack of full rights, etc. On the other hand, "ideal" capitalism implies the fullest freedom of contract on a free market -- between the property-owner and the proletarian.

    Only if we are clear in our minds as to this economic substance of serf economy, or what is the same thing, corvée economy, can we understand the historical place-and significance of labour service. Labour service is the direct and immediate survival of the corvée. Labour service is the transition from the corvée to capitalism. The substance of labour service is this: the landlord's land is cultivated by the peasants with their own implements in return for pay partly in cash and partly in kind (for land, for cut-off land, for use of pastures, for loans granted in the winter, etc.). The form of economy known as the métayer system is a variety of labour service. The landlord economy based on labour service requires a peasant who has an allotment, as well as implements and livestock if only of the poorest kind; it requires also that the peasant be weighed down by want and place himself in bondage. Bondage instead of free hire is the necessary concomitant of labour-service economy. Here the landlord acts not as a capitalist entrepreneur who owns money and the sum total of the instruments of labour, but -- in a system of labour-service economy -- as a usurer, taking advantage of the poverty of his peasant neighbour to acquire his labour for next to nothing.

    To illustrate this point more clearly, let us take the data of the Department of Agriculture -- a source above all suspicion of being unfriendly towards the landowning gentlemen. The well-known publication, Freely Hired Labour on Farms, etc.<"p85"> (Issue V, "Agric. and Stat. Inf. Obtd. from Agricultural Employers ", St. Petersburg, 1892),[54] gives information concerning the Central Black-Earth Belt over eight years (1883-91). The average payment for the complete cultivation of a dessiatine of winter grain by a peasant using his own implements should be reckoned as 6 rubles. If we calculate the cost of the same amount of work performed by frecly hired labour -- says the same publication -- we get 6 rubles 19 kopeks for the work of the man

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alone, not counting the work of the horse, which cannot be put at less than 4 rubles 50 kopeks (ibid., p. 45, quoted in The Development of Capitalism in Russia, p. 141[*]). Consequently, the price of freely hired labour amounts to 10 rubles 69 kopeks, while under labour service it is 6 rubles. How is this phenomenon to be accounted for, if it is not something accidental or exceptional, but normal and usual? Words like "bondage", "usury", "extortion", etc., describe the form and nature of the transaction, but do not explain its economic substance. How is a peasant able over a number of years to perform work that is worth 10 rubles 69 kopeks for 6 rubles? He is able to do it because his allotment covers part of the expenditure of his family and makes it possible for his wage to be forced down below the "free-hire" level. The peasant is compelled to do so precisely because his wretched allotment ties him down to his landlord neighbour, for it does not enable him to live off his own farm. Of course, this phenomenon can be "normal" only as one of the links of the process by which the corvée system is eliminated by capitalism. For the peasant is inevitably ruined by these conditions, and is slowly but surely being transformed into a proletarian.

    The following are similar, but slightly more complete data concerning Saratov Uyezd. The average price for tilling one dessiatine of land, and for reaping, carting and threshing the grain, is 9 rubles 60 kopeks if contracted in the winter, 80 to 100 per cent of the wage being paid in advance. The price is 9 rubles 40 kopeks when the job is done as labour service for the lease of land. In the case of freely hired labour it is 17 rubles 50 kopeks! Reaping and carting done as labour service is valued at 3 rubles 80 kopek's per dessiatine, and in the case of freely hired labour at 8 rubles 50 kopeks, etc. Each of these figures tells its long story of the peasant's endless poverty, bondage and ruin. Each of these figures shows to what extent feudal exploitation and the survivals of the corvée persist in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century.

    It is very difficult to calculate to what extent the labour-service system is prevalent. Usually, on the landed estates the <"fnp86">

    * See present edition, Vol. 3, p. 202. --Ed.

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labour-service system is combined with the capitalist system, and both are applied to various operations in agriculture. An inconsiderable part of the land is tilled by hired labourers using the landlords' implements. The greater part of the land is rented to peasants on a métayer and labour service basis. The following are a few illustrations taken from the detailed work by Mr. Kaufman, who has compiled some of the latest data on privately-owned estates.[*] Tula Gubernia (the data refer to 1897-98): "the landlords have retained the old three-field system . . . the outlying land is taken by the peasants"; the cultivation of the landlords' land is extremely unsatisfactory. Kursk Gubernia: "the distribution of land to the peasants in dessiatines, which was profitable owing to the high prices prevailing . . . has led to the exhaustion of the soil." Voronezh Gubernia: . . .the medium and small proprietors "largely run their economies exclusively with the aid of peasants' implements, or lease them out . . . on most estates the methods practised are distinguished for the complete absence of any improvements".

    Statements like these show that the general description of the various gubernias of European Russia given by Mr. Annensky in his book The Influence of Harvests, etc., as regards the prevalence of the labour-service or the capitalist systems can be fully applied to the conditions prevailing at the end of the nineteenth century. We shall quote this description in tabular form:

Number of gubernias




Total privately-
owned arable
(thousand dess.)


Gubernias where the capitalist
system prevails
Gubernias where a mixed
system prevails
Gubernias where the labour-
service system prevails










    * The Agrarian Question. Published by Dolgorukov and Petrunkevich, Vol. II, Moscow, 1907, pp. 442-628, "Regarding the Cultural and Economic Significance of Private Landownership".

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    Thus labour service delinitely prevails in the Black-Earth Belt, but yields place in the total of the 43 gubernias included in the above table. It is important to note that group I (the capitalist system) includes areas which are not representative of the central agricultural regions, viz.: the Baltic gubernias, those in the south-west (sugar-beet area) and in the South, and the gubernias of the two capital cities.

    The influence of the labour-service system on the development of the productive forces in agriculture is graphically illustrated by the material compiled in Mr. Kaufman's book. "There cannot be any doubt," he writes, "that small peasant renting of land and métayage represent one of the conditions which most of all retard the progress of agriculture." . . . In the reviews of agriculture covering Poltava Gubernia, repeated reference is made to the fact that "the tenants till the land badly, sow it with poor seed and allow it to become overgrown with weeds". <"p88">

    In Mogilyov Gubernia (1898), "any improvement in farming is hindered by the inconveniences of the métayer system". The existence of skopshchina [55] is one of the main reasons why "agriculture in Dnieper Uyezd is in such a state that it is futile to expect any innovations or improvements". "Our data," writes Mr. Kaufman (p. 517), "definitely point to the fact that even within the bounds of one and the same estate, old and obsolete farrming methods continue to be employed on land that is rented out, whereas new and improved methods have already been introduced on land that is cultivated by the owners." For example, on the land that is rented out, the three-field system is retained, sometimes even without the land being manured; on lands farmed on economic lines, however, crop rotation has been introduced. Métayage hinders grass cultivation, the extended use of fertilisers, and the employment of the best agricultural implements. The result of all this is strikingly reflected in the yield figures. For example, on a large estate in Simbirsk Gubernia, the rye crop in the part cultivated on economic lines is 90 poods per dessiatine, wheat 60 poods, oats 74 poods; in the métayer lands it is 58, 28 and 50 poods respectively. Here are general figures for a whole uyezd (GoIbatov Uyezd, Nizhni Novgorod Gubernia).

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Yield of rye in poods per dessiatine

Privately-owned lands

 Soil grades





I   .   .   .   .   .
II   .   .   .   .   .
III   .   .   .   .   .
IV   .   .   .   .   .





All grades  .   .   .   .   .





    Thus, landlords' lands cultivated in feudal fashion (on a métayer basis and rented out in small lots) produce smaller yields than allotment lands! This is a fact of tremendous importance, because it irrefutably proves that the main and fundamental cause of Russia's agricultural backwardness, of the stagnation of the whole of the national economy and the degradation of the tiller of the soil to a degree unparalleled anywhere else in the world, is the labour-service system, i.e., the direct survival of serfdom. No credits, no land reclamation, no "aid" to the peasant, none of the measures of "assistance" beloved of the bureaucrats and liberals, will yield results of any importance so long as there remains the yoke of the feudal latifundia, traditions, and systems of economy. On the other hand, an agrarian revolution which abolishes landlordism and breaks up the old medieval village commune (the nationalisation of the land, for example, will break it up, not in the police and bureaucratic manner), would unfailingly serve as the basis for remarkably rapid and really wide progress. The incredibly low yield on métayer and rented lands is due to the system of working "for the squire". If this same farmer were relieved of the duty of working "for the squire", yields would increase not only on these lands, but would inevitably increase on the allotment lands as well, simply because of the elimination of the feudal hindrances to farming.

    As things are at present, there is, of course, some capitalist progress on the privately-owned economies, but it is exceedingly slow, and inevitably burdens Russia for many <"fnp89">

    * In Mr. Kaufman's book, p. 521, there is obviously a misprint in these two figures.

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<"p90"> years to come with the political and social domination of the "wild landlord".[56] We shall now examine how this progress manifests itself, and try to define some of its general results.

    The fact that the yield of the "economic" crops, i.e., the landed estates cultivated on capitalist lines, is higher than on the peasant lands is an indication of the technical progress of capitalism in agriculture. This progress is due to the transition from the labour-service to the wage-labour system. The ruin of the peasants, the decline in horse ownership, the loss of implements, the proletarisation of the tiller, compel landlords to change over to cultivating their land with their own implements. Increased use is being made in agriculture of machinery, which raises the productivity of labour and inevitably leads to the development of purely capitalist relations of production. Agricultural machinery was imported into Russia to the value of 788,000 rubles in 1869-72, 2.9 million rubles in 1873-80, 4.2 million rubles in 1881-88, 3.7 million rubles in 1889-96, and 15.2 and 20.6 million rubles respectively in 1902 and 1903. The output of agricultural machinery in Russia was (approximately, according to rough industrial statistics) 2.3 million rubles in 1876, 9.4 million in 1894 and 12.1 million in 1900-03. It is indisputable that these figures indicate progress in agriculture, and precisely capitalist progress, of course. But it is similarly indisputable that this progress is exceedingly slow compared to what is possible in a modern capitalist state: for example, in America. According to the census of June 1, 1900, the acreage of farms in the United States was 838.6 million acres, i.e., about 324 million dessiatines. The number of farms was 5.7 million, the average acreage per farm being 146.2 acres (about 60 dessiatines). Now, the production of agriculturaI implements for these farms amounted to 157.7 million dollars in 1900 (in 1890, 145.3 million dollars, in 1880, 62.1 million dollars).* The Russian figures are ridiculously small by comparison, and they are small because the feudal latifundia in Russia are great and strong.

    The extent to which improved agricultural implements

    * Abstract of the Twelfth Census, 1900, third edition, Washington, 1904, pp. 217 and 302 -- agricultural implements.

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were employed by landowners and peasants respectively was the subject of a special questionnaire circulated by the Ministry of Agriculture in the middle of the nineties of last century. The results of this enquiry, which are given in detail in Mr. Kaufman's book, can be summarised in the following table.


Percentage of replies indicating
extensive employment of im-
proved agricultural implements



Central Agricultural   .   .   .   .
Middle Volga .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Novorussia  .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Byelorussia .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Priozyorny  .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Moscow   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Industrial .  .   .   .   .   .   .   .



    The average for all these districts is 42 per cent among the landlords and 21 per cent among the peasants.

    In regard to the employment of manure, all the statistical data irrefutably prove that "in this respect the landlords' farms have always been, and still are, far ahead of the peasant farms" (Kaufman, p. 544). Moreover, it was a widespread practice in post-Reform Russia for the landlord to purchase manure from the peasant. That is the result of direst poverty among the peasants. Recently this practice has been on the decline.

    Finally, precise and abundant statistics are available on the level of agricultural technique on landlord and peasant farms respectivcly as regards grass cultivation (Kaufman, p. 561). The following are the principal conclusions.


Area under fodder grasses
in European Russia

On peasant
farms (dess.)

On landlords'
estates (dess.)

1881   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
1901   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .



    What is the effect of all these differences between landlord and peasant farming? All we have to go on here are the yield figures. Throughout the whole of European Russia, the average yield over a period of eighteen years (1883-1900) was as follows (in chetverts):

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Landlords   .   .   .   .
Peasants .   .   .   .   .
Difference  .   .   .   .





    Mr. Kaufman is quite right when he says that the "difference is very slight" (p. 592). We must bear in mind not only that the peasants were left with the worst land in 1861, but also that general averages for the whole of the peasantry conceal (as we shall see in a moment) big differences.

    The general conclusion we must arrive at from the examination of landlord farming is the following. Capitalism is quite obviously paving a way for itself in this field. Farming on a corvée basis is being replaced by farming on the basis of freely hired labour. Technical progress in capitalist agriculture compared with labour-service and petty-peasant farming is definitely in evidence in all directions. But this progress is exceptionally slow for a modern capitalist country. The end of the nineteenth century finds in Russia the most acute contradiction between the requirements of social development as a whole and serf agriculture which, in the shape of the latifundia owned by the landed nobility and the labour-service system, is a brake on economic evolution and a source of oppression, barbarism, and of innumerable forms of Tatarism in Russian life.



    Peasant farming is the focal point of the agrarian question today in Russia. We have shown above the conditions of peasant landownership and now we must deal with the organisation of peasant farming -- not in the technical sense, but from the standpoint of political economy.

    In the forefront we encounter here the question of the peasant commune. A very extensive literature has been devoted to this question, and the Narodnik trend in Russian social thought connects the main points of its world-outlook with the national peculiarities of this "equalitarian" institution. In this respect it should be said, in the first place, that in the literature on the Russian land commune two distinct

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aspects of the question are constantly interwoven and very often confused; these are the aspect relating to agricultural methods and mode of life, on the one hand, and the politico-economic aspect, on the other.<"p93"> In most works on the village commune (V. Orlov, Trirogov, Keussler, V. V.),[57] so much space and attention is devoted to the first aspect of the question that the second is left completely in the shade. This method of treating the subject is absolutely wrong. That agrarian relations in Russia differ from those in other countries is beyond doubt, but no two purely capitalist countries, generally recognised as such, will be found, where village life, the history of agrarian relations, the forms of ownership and use of the land, etc., do not differ to the same degree. It is by no means the aspect relating to agricultural methods nor that of village life which have made the question of the Russian land commune so important and acute and have, since the second half of the nineteenth century, divided the two main trends in Russian social thought, i.e., the Narodnik and the Marxist. Possibly local investigators have had to devote so much attention to this aspect of the question in order both to be able to make a comprehensive study of local peculiarities in the agricultural mode of life and to repel the ignorant and brazen attempts of the bureaucracy to introduce petty-detailed regulation permeated with a police spirit. But it is quite impermissible, for an economist at any rate, to allow the study of the various forms of land redistribution, the technique of this redistribution, etc., to obscure the question of what types of economies are emerging within the commune, how these types are developing, what sort of relations are building up between those who hire workers and those who hire themselves out as labourers, between the well-to-do and the poor, between those who are improving their farms and introducing better techniques, and those who are being ruined, who are abandoning their farms, and fleeing from the village. No doubt it was awareness of this truth that induced our Zemstvo statisticians -- who have contributed invaluable material for the study of the national economy of Russia -- to abandon, in the eighties of last century, the official grouping of the peasantry according to commune,<"p93a"> allotment, the number of "registered souls"[58]

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or available males, and to adopt the only scientific grouping, according to economic strength of households. It should be remembered that at that time, when interest in the economic study of Russia was particularly great, even a writer like V. V., such a "party" man on this subject,<"p94"> heartily welcomed "the new type of local statistical publication" (the title of V. V.'s article in Severny Vestnik,[59] No. 3 for 1885) and declared: "These statistics must be adapted, not to such an agglomeration of the most varied economic groups of the peasantry as the village or the commune, but to these groups themselves."

    The fundamental feature of our commune, which lent it special importance in the eyes of the Narodniks, is equalised land tenure. We shall leave aside entirely the question of how the village commune achieves this equalisation, and address ourselves directly to the economic facts, to the results of this equalisation. As we have shown above on the basis of precise data, the distribution of the total allotment land in European Russia is by no means equalitarian. Nor is the distribution of land among the various categories of peasants, among the peasants of different villages, even among the peasants belonging ("formerly belonging") to different landlords in the same village in the least equalitarian. Only within the small communes does the machinery of redistribution create the equalisation of these small, exclusive associations. Let us examine the Zemstvo statistics regarding the distribution of allotment land among households. In doing so, of course, we must take the grouping of households not according to the size of families, not according to the number of those working, but according to the economic strength of the different households (crop area, number of draught animals, number of cows, etc.). For the entire essence of the capitalist evolution of small farming lies in the creation and intensification of inequality of property within patriarchal associations, and further in the transformation of simple inequality into capitalist relationships. Hence we should be obscuring all the peculiar features of the new economic evolution if we did not set out to make a special study of the differences in economic strength within the peasantry.

    Let us take, at first, one typical uyezd (house-to-house

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investigations by Zemstvo statisticians with detailed combined tables, adapted to separate uyezds), and then state the reasons that oblige us to apply the conclusions which interest us to the peasants of the whole of Russia. The material is taken from The Development of Capitalism, Chapter II.[*]

    In Krasnoufimsk Uyezd, Perm Gubernia, where peasant landownership is entirely communal, allotment land is distributed as follows:

Per household

Persons of
both sexes

land (dess.)

Cultivating no land  .   .   .   .   .
      "    up to  5 dessiatines
      "      5 to 10    "
      "    10 to 20    "
      "    20 to 50    "
      "    over 50    "



   Total .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .



    We see that with the improvement in the economic strength of the household, the size of the family increases with absolute regularity. ClearIy, a large family is one of the factors in peasant well-being. That is indisputable. The only question is, to what social and economic relations does this well-being lead in the present state of the national economy as a whole? As far as allotment land is concerned, we see unevenness in distribution, although not too considerable. The more prosperous a peasant household is, the more allotment land it has per head. The lowest group has less than 3 dessiatines of allotment land per head of both sexes; in the next groups, nearly 3 dessiatines, 3 dessiatines, nearly 4, and 4 dessiatines respectively; and finally, in the last, the highest group, over 5 dessiatines of allotment land per head of both sexes. Hence large families and the greatest possession of allotment land serve as the basis of the prosperity of a small minority of the peasants. For the two highest groups cover only one-tenth of the total number of households. The following table shows as percentages the <"fnp95">

    * See present edition, Vol. 3, pp. 70-187. --Ed.

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number of households, the population, and the distribution of allotment land among the different groups:

Groups of households

Percentages of total


Population of
both sexes


Cultivating no land  .   .   .   .   .
      "    up to  5 dessiatines
      "      5 to 10    "
      "    10 to 20    "
      "    20 to 50    "
      "    over 50    "




   Total .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .




    These figures clearly show that there is proportion in the distribution of allotment land, and that we do take into account the result of communal equalisation. The ratios of the population and of allotment land according to groups are fairly close to each other. But here, too, the economic strength of the different households begins to take effect: among the lower groups the ratio of land is less than the ratio of the population, and among the higher groups it is greater. And this is not an isolated phenomenon, relating to just one uyezd, but is true for the whole of Russia. In the work mentioned above, I have combined similar data for 21 uyezds of 7 guhernias in the most varied parts of-Russia. These data, which cover half a million peasant households, show the same relations in all places. Well-to-do households, constituting 20 per cent of the total, account for 26.1 to 30.3 per cent of the population and have 29.0 to 36.7 per cent of the allotment land. The poorest households, constituting 50 per cent of the total, account for 36.6 to 44.7 per cent of the population and have 33.0 to 37.7 per cent of the allotment land. We have this ratio in the distribution of the allotment land everywhere, but at the same time the trend of the village commune everywhere is towards the peasant bourgeoisie: departures from the ratio proceed in all cases in favour of the higher groups of the peasantry.

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    Hence it would be a profound mistake to think that, studying the grouping of the peasantry according to economic strength, we ignore the "equalising" influence of the commune. On the contrary, by means of precise data we establish the real economic significance of this equalisation. We demonstrate just how far it extends, and what the whole system of land redistribution leads to in the final analysis. Even if this system provides the best distribution of land of various qualities and various categories, it is an indisputable fact that the position of the well-to-do peasants is superior to that of the poor peasants also in the matter of the distribution of allotment land. The distribution of other, non-allotment land, as we shall see in a moment, is immeasurably more uneven.

    The importance of rented land in peasant farming is well known. The need for land gives rise to an extraordinary variety of forms of bondage relations on this basis. As we have already stated above, very often the renting of land by peasants is in effect a labour-service system of landlord farming -- a feudalist way of securing hands for the squire. Thus the feudalist character of land renting by our peasants is beyond doubt. But since we have before us the capitalist evolution of this country, we must make a special study of the question as to how bourgeois relations manifest themselves, and whether they do manifest themselves, in peasant land renting. Here again we need data on the various economic groups of the peasantry and not on entire communes and villages. For example, in his Results of Zemstvo Statistical Investigations, Mr. Karyshev had to admit that rents in kind (i.e., rentings of land for which payment is made not in money but by métayage or by labour service) as a general rule are everywhere more costly than money rent, and very much more costly at that, sometimes twice as much; further, that rent in kind is most widespread among the poorest groups of the peasantry. The peasants who are at all well-to-do try to rent land for money. "The tenant takes advantage of every opportunity to pay his rent in money and thus reduce the cost of using other people's land"<"p97"> (Karyshev, op. cit., p. 265).[60]

    Hence the whole weight of the feudal features of our land-renting system falls upon the poorest peasants. The well-

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to-do peasants try to escape from the medieval yoke, and they succeed in doing so only to the extent that they have sufficient money. If you have money, you can rent land for cash at the ordinary market price. If you have no money, you go into bondage and pay three times as dear for the land, either by métayage or by labour service. We have seen above how many times lower are the prices of work done by labour service than those of work done by freely hired labourers. And if the terms of renting are different for peasants of different economic strength, it is clear that we cannot confine ourselves (as Karyshev constantly does) to grouping the peasants according to their allotment, since such a method of grouping artificially lumps together households of different economic strength, and mixes up the rural proletariat with the peasant bourgeoisie.

    As an illustration, let us take the figures covering Kamyshin Uyezd, Saratov Gubernia, which consists almost entirely of communes (out of 2,455 communes in this gubernia, 2,436 hold the land in communal tenure). The following table shows the ratio between the various groups of households in regard to the renting of land.

Groups of householders

age of

Dessiatines per



With no draught animals
  "  1    "    animal
  "  2    "    animals
  "  3    "       "
  "  4    "       "
  "  5    "       "     and more




   Total .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .




    The distribution of allotment land is a familiar picture: the prosperous households are better provided with land per head of the population than the poor ones. The distribution of rented land is dozens of times more uneven. The highest group has three times as much allotment land as the lowest group (16.1 as against 5.4); but in regard to rented land the highest group has fifty times as much as the lowest group (16.6 as against 0.3). Thus, renting does not even out

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differences in the peasants' economic strength, but intensifies, increases them dozens of times over. The opposite conclusion,<"p99"> which is repeatedly met with in the writings of the Narodnik economists (V. V., Nik.-on,[61] Maress, Karyshev, Vikhlayev and others), is due to the following error. They usually take the peasants grouped according to the size of allotment land, and show that those with small allotments rent more than those with large allotments -- and there they stop. They do not mention that it is largely the well-to-do households in village communes with small allotments that rent land and that, therefore, seeming communal equalisation merely covers up the tremendous unevenness of distribution within the commune. Karyshev himself, for example, admits that "large amounts of land are rented by (a) the categories less provided with land, but (b) by the more well-to-do groups within these categories" (op. cit. p. 139). Nevertheless, he does not systematically study the distribution of rentings by groups.

    In order to bring out more clearly the mistake of the Narodnik economists, let us cite the example of Mr. Maress (in his book The Influence of Harvests and Grain Prices, Vol. 1, p. 34). From data covering Melitopol Uyezd he draws the conclusion that "the distribution of rented land per head is approximately equal". How does he arrive at this? In this way: if households are grouped according to the number of male workers in them, it will be found that households with no workers rent "on the average" 1.6 dessiatines per renting household, those with one worker rent 4.4 dessiatines, those with two workers, 8.3 dessiatines, those with three workers, 14.0 dessiatines per household. But the point is that these "averages" cover households of absolutely different economic strength; that among the households having one worker, for example, there are those which rent four dessiatines, cultivate five to ten dessiatines and have two or three draught animals, and households which rent 38 dessiatines, cultivate more than 50 dessiatines and have four and more draught animals. Consequently, the equality Mr. Maress arrives at is fictitious. As a matter of fact, in Melitopol Uyezd the richest households, constituting 20 per cent of the total, notwithstanding the fact that they are best provided with both allotment and purchased land, account for 66.3 per cent, i.e.,

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two-thirds of all the rented land, leaving only 5.6 per cent as the share of the poorest households which constitute one-half of the total.

    To proceed. If we see, on the one hand, households with no horses, or with only one horse, renting one dessiatine, or even part of a dessiatine, and, on the other hand, households with four or more horses, renting from 7 to 16 dessiatines, it is clear that here quantity is turning into quality. In the first case renting is the result of poverty, and amounts to bondage.<"p100"> The "tenant" placed in such conditions cannot but become an object of exploitation by means of labour service, winter hiring,[62] money loans, etc. On the other hand, the household that has from 12 to 16 dessiatines of allotment land and, over and above this, rents from 7 to 16 dessiatines, obviously does so not because it is poor, but because it is well off, not to subsist but to get rich, to "make money". We have here a clear example of the conversion of land renting into capitalist farming, of the rise of capitalist enterprise in agriculture. Such households, as we shall see further on, do not get along without hiring agricultural labourers.

    The question now arises: to what extent is this obvious entrepreneur renting of land a general phenomenon? Below we shall quote data which show that the growth of entrepreneur farming varies in different districts of commercial tarming. For the moment let us quote a few more examples and draw our general conclusions regarding the renting of land.

    In Dnieper Uyezd, Taurida Gubernia, households cultivating 25 dessiatines and over comprise 18.2 per cent of the total number. These have from 16 to 17 dessiatines of allotment land and rent from 17 to 44 dessiatines per household. In Novouzensk Uyezd, Samara Gubernia, households having five draught animals and more represent 24.7 per cent of the total. They cultivate averages of 25, 53, and 149 dessiatines, and rent respectively 14, 54, and 304 dessiatines of non-allotment land per household (the first figure relers to the group with from 5 to 10 draught animals, representing 17.1 per cent of the households; the second to the group with from 10 to 20 draught animals, representing 5.8 per cent of the households; the third to the group with 20 and more draught animals, representing 1.8 per cent of the households). These households rent averages of 12, 29, and 67 dessiatines respec-

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tively of allotment land from other communities, and 9, 21, and 74 dessiatines in their own communities. In Krasnoufimsk Uyezd, Perm Gubernia, 10.1 per cent of the total households cultivate 20 and more dessiatines per household. These have 28 to 44 dessiatines of allotment land per household and rent 14 to 40 dessiatines of arable land and 118 to 261 dessiatines of grassland. In two uyezds in Orel Gubernia (Yelets and Trubchevsk), households with four horses and more comprise 7.2 per cent of the total. They have 15.2 dessiatines per household of allotment land, and by purchasing and renting land they bring up the amount of land they use to 28.4 dessiatines. In Zadonsk Uyezd, Voronezh Gubernia, the corresponding figures are: 3.2 per cent of the households averaging 17.1 dessiatines of allotment land, and 33.2 dessiatines as the total area in use per household. In three uyezds in Nizbni-Novgorod Gubernia (Knyaginin, Makaryev and Vasil), 9.5 per cent of the households possess three horses and more. These households average from 13 to 16 dessiatines of allotment land but farm a total of 21 to 34 dessiatines.

    From this it is evident that entrepreneur renting of land among the peasantry is no isolated or casual phenomenon, but is general and universal. Everywhere there emerge in the village communes well-to-do households, which always constitute an insignificant minority and always organise capitalist farming with the aid of entrepreneur renting of land. For this reason general phrases about subsistence and capitalist renting can do nothing to clear up questions relating to our peasant farming; a study must be made of the concrete facts regarding the development of feudal features in the renting of land, and regarding the formation of capitalist relations within this very renting of land.

    We quoted figures above showing what ratios of the population and of allotment land are accounted for by the most well-to-do peasant households, comprising 20 per cent of the total. Now we may add that these concentrate in their hands from 50.8 to 83.7 per cent of all the land rented by the peasantry, leaving to the poorest groups, comprising 50 per cent of all households, from 5 to 16 per cent of the total rented land. The conclusion to be drawn from this is clear: if we are asked what kind of renting preponderates in Russia, subsistence or entrepreneur renting, renting through poverty

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or renting by well-to-do peasants, feudal renting (based on labour service and bondage) or bourgeois renting, there can be only one answer. Among the households which rent land, undoubtedly the majority do so because of poverty. For the overwhelming majority of the peasants renting means bondage. If we take the quantity of land rented, undoubtedly not less than half of it is in the hands of well-to-do peasants, the rural bourgeoisie, who are organising agriculture on capitalist lines.

    Usually statistics of the prices of rented land are only given in "averages", covering the total number of tenants and the total amount of land. The extent to which these averages camouflage the extreme poverty and oppression of the peasantry can be seen from the Zemstvo statistics for Dnieper Uyezd, Taurida Gubernia, which, by a lucky exception, show the rental prices paid by the various groups of peasants, viz.:

Groups of households

of households
renting land

Arable in dess.
per renting

Price per
dess. in

Cultivating up to  5 dessiatines
     "      5 to 10    "
     "    10 to 25    "
     "    25 to 50    "
     "    over 50    "




   Total .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .




    Thus, the "average" rental price of 4 rubles 23 kopeks per dessiatine is an outright distortion of the real situation; it obscures the contradictions which are the very crux of the matter. The poor peasants are compelled to rent land at a ruinous price, more than three times the average. The rich buy up land "wholesale" at advantageous prices, and, of course, as occasion offers, lease it to their needy neighbour at a profit of 275 per cent. There is renting and renting. There is feudal bondage, there is Irish renting, and there is trading in land, capitalist farming.

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    The phenomenon of peasants leasing their allotment land reveals still more strikingly the capitalist relations within the village commune, the pauperisation of the poor and the enrichment of a minority at the expense of this peasant mass which is being reduced to ruin. The renting and letting of land are phenomena in no way connected with the village commune and communal equalisation. Of what significance in real life will this equalised distribution of allotment land be, if the poor are forced to let to the rich the land allotted to them on the basis of equalisation? And what more striking refutation of "communalist" views can one inagine than this fact, that real life circumuents the official, the register-established equalisation of allotments? The impotence of any kind of equalisation in face of developing capitalism is clearly demonstrated by the fact of the poor letting their allotments and of the rich concentrating rented land in their hands.

    How prevalent is this practice of letting allotment land? According to the now obsolete Zemstvo statistical investigations made in the eighties of the last century, to which we have perforce to confine ourselves for the time being, the number of households letting their land and the percentage of allotment land thus let appear to be small. For example, in Dnieper Uyezd, Taurida Gubernia, 25.7 per cent of the householders let their allotment land, the amount of allotment land let representing 14.9 per cent of the total. In Novouzensk Uyezd, Samara Gubernia, 12 per cent of the households let their land. In Kamyshin Uyezd, Saratov Gubernia, the amount of land let represents 16 per cent of the total. In Krasnoufimsk Uyezd, Perm Gubernia, allotment arable land is let by 8,500 householders out of a total of 23,500, i.e., more than one-third. The allotment land let amounts to 50,500 dessiatines out of a total of 410,000 dessiatines, i.e., about 12 per cent. In Zadonsk Uyezd, Voronezh Gubernia, 6,500 dessiatines of allotment land out of a total of 135,500 dessiatines are let, i.e., less than 5 per cent. In three uyezds of Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia, 19,000 out of a total of 433,000 dessiatines are let, i.e., also less than 5 per cent. But all these figures only seem insignificant because such percentages tacitly assume that the householders in all groups let their land more or less evenly. But such an assumption is quite

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contrary to the facts. What is more important than the absolute figures of renting and letting, than the average percentages of the amount of land let or of the householders letting their land, is the fact that it is the poor peasants who mostly let their land, and that the largest amount of land is rented by the well-to-do peasants. The data of the Zemstvo statistical investigations leave no doubt whatever on this score. The most well-to-do households, comprising 20 per cent of the total, account for from 0.3 to 12.5 per cent of the total land let. On the other hand, the poor groups, comprising 50 per cent of the total households, let from 63.3 per cent to 98.0 per cent of the total land let. And, of course, it is the self same well-to-do peasants who rent the land let by the poor peasants. Here again it is clear that the significance of land-letting varies in the different groups of peasants: the poor peasant lets his land out of poverty, as he is unable to cultivate his land, having no seed, no cattle, no implements, and being desperately hard up for money. The rich peasants let little land: they either exchange one plot of land for another more suitable for their farm, or directly trade in land.

    The following are concrete figures for Dnieper Uyezd, Taurida Gubernia:

Percentages of

letting allot-
ment land

land let

Cultivating no land  .   .   .   .   .
      "    up to 5 dessiatines
      "     5 to 10    "
      "   10 to 25    "
      "   25 to 50    "
      "   over 50    "



   In the uyezd .   .   .   .   .   .



    Is it not clear from these figures that the abandonment of tbe land and proletarisation on a huge scale are combined here with trading in land by a handful of rich people? Is it not characteristic that the percentage of allotment land let rises precisely among those big cultivators who have an average of 17 dessiatines of allotment land per household, 30 dessiatines of purchased land and 44 dessiatines of rented land? All in all, the entire poor group in Dnieper Uyezd, i.e., 40 per cent of the total number of households, having 56,000

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dessiatines of allotment land, rents 8,000 and lets 21,500 dessiatines. The well-to-do group, on the other hand, which represents 18.4 per cent of the households, and has 62,000 dessiatines of allotment land, lets 3,000 dessiatines of allotment land and rents 82,000 dessiatines. In three uyezds in Taurida Gubernia, this well-to-do group rents 150,000 dessiatines of allotment land, i.e., three-fiiths of the total allotment land let! In Novouzensk Uyezd, Samara Gubernia, households possessing no horse (47 per cent of all households) and those having one horse (13 per cent of the total) let allotment land, while owners of ten and more draught animals, i.e., only 7.6 per cent of all households, rent 20, 30, 60 and 70 dessiatines of allotment land.

    In regard to purchased land, almost the same thing has to be said as in regard to rented land. The difference is that in the renting of land there are feudal features, that in certain circumstances renting is on the basis of labour service and of bondage, i.e., it is a method of binding impoverished neighbouring peasants to the landed estate as farm-hands. Whereas the purchase of land as private property by peasants who have allotment land represents a purely bourgeois phenomenon. In the West, farm-hands and day-labourers are sometimes tied to the land by selling them small plots. In Russia, a similar operation was officially carried out long ago in the shape of the "Great Reform" of 1861, and at the present time the purchase of land by peasants solely expresses the crystallisation out of the village commune of members of the rural bourgeoisie. The way in which the purchase of land by peasants developed after 1861 has been dealt with above in our examination of the statistics of landownership. Here, however, we must point out the enormous concentration of purchased land in the hands of a minority. The well-to-do households, constituting 20 per cent of the total, have concentrated in their hands from 59.7 to 99 per cent of land purchased. The poorest households, 50 per cent of the total, possess from 0.4 to 15.4 per cent of all the land purchased by peasants. We can safely say, therefore, that out of the 7,500,000 dessiatines of land which have become the private property of peasants in the period from 1877 to 1905 (see above), from two-thirds to three-fourths are in the hands of an insignificant minority of well-to-do

households. The same applies, of course, to the purchase of land by peasant societies and associations. In 1877, peasant societies owned 765,000 dessiatines of purchased-land and in 1905 the figure was 3,700,000 dessiatines, while peasant associations in 1905 were the private owners of 7,600,000 dessiatines. It would be a mistake to think that land purchased or rented by societies is distributed differently from that purchased or rented individually. The facts prove the contrary. For example in the three mainland uyezds of Taurida Gubernia, statistics collected on the distribution of land rented from the state by peasant societies showed that 76 per cent of the rented land was in the hands of the well-to-do group (about 20 percent of the households), while the poorest households, constituting 40 per cent of the total, had only 4 per cent of the total rented land. The peasants divide rented or purchased land only according to "money put down".



    Taken all round, the figures quoted above concerning peasants' allotment land, rented land, land purchased and let, lead to the conclusion that with every passing day the actual use of land by the peasantry corresponds less and less to the official description of peasant allotment land ownership. Of course, if we take gross figures, or "averages" then the amount of allotment land that is let will be balanced by the amount that is rented, the rest of the land rented and purchased will be distributed equally, as it were, among all the peasant households, and the impression will be created that the actual use of land is not very much different from the official, i.e., allotment landownership. But such an impression would be pure fiction, because the actual use of land by the peasantry departs most of all from the original equalised distribution of allotment land precisely in the extreme groups : so that "averages" inevitably distort the picture.

    As a matter of fact, in the lower groups the total land used by the peasants is relatively -- and sometimes absolutely -- less than the allotment distribution (letting of land; insignificant share of rented laud). For the higher groups, on the contrary, the total land in use is always both rela-

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tively and absolutely larger than the land held as allotments, owing to the concentration of purchased and rented land. We have seen that the poorest groups, constituting 50 per cent of all households, hold from 33 to 37 per cent of the allotment land, but only from 18.6 to 31.9 per cent of the total land used by the peasants. In some cases the drop is almost 50 per cent; for example, in Krasnoufimsk Uyezd, Perm Gubernia, the percentage of allotment land is 37.4, while that of total land in use is 19.2. The well-to-do households, constituting 20 per cent of the total, hold from 29 to 36 per cent of the allotment land, but from 34 to 49 per cent of the total land in use. Here are some concrete figures illustrating these relations. In Dnieper Uyezd, Taurida Gubernia, the poorest households, constituting 40 per cent of the total, have 56,000 dessiatines of allotment land, but they use only 45,000 dessiatines, i.e., 11,000 dessiatines less. The well-to-do group (18 per cent of the households) holds 62,000 dessiatines of allotment land, but uses a total of 167,000 dessiatines, i.e., 105,000 dessiatines more. The following table gives the fieures for three uvezds in Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia.

Dessiatines per household


Total land
in use

Peasants with no horse   .   .   .   .
    "      "   1   "     .   .   .   .
    "      "   2 horses  .   .   .   .
    "      "   3   "     .   .   .   .
    "      "   4   "    and more  .



      Total  .   .   .   .   .   .   .



    Here, too, as a result of renting and letting, there is an absolute decline in the amount of land in actual use by the lowest group. And this lowest group, i.e., the horseless peasants, comprises fully 30 per cent of the households. Nearly one-third of the households suffer an absolute loss as a result of renting and letting land. The one-horse households (37 per cent of the total) have increased their use af land, but to an exceedingly small extent, proportionately less than the average increase in the use of land by the peasants (from 8.3

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to 10.3 dessiatines). Hence the share of this group in the total land used has diminished: it had 36.6 per cent of the allotment lands in all the three uyezds, now it accounts for 34.1 per cent of the total land in use. On the other hand, an insignificant minority constituting the higher groups have increased their use of land far above the average. Those owning three horses (7.3 per cent of the households) increased the amount of land in their possession by half as much again: from 13 to 21 dessiatines; and those owning many horses (2.3 per cent of the total households) more than doubled the amount of land in use: from 16 to 35 dessiatines.

    We see, therefore, as a general phenomenon, a decline in the role of allotment land in peasant farming. This decline is taking place at both poles in the countryside, in different ways. Among the poor peasants the role of allotment land is declining because their growing poverty and ruin compel them to let their land, to abandon it, to reduce the land under cultivation because they lack livestock, implements, seed, and money, and either to hire themselves out on some job or . . . to enter the kingdom of heaven. The lower groups of peasants are dying out; famine, scurvy, typhus are doing their work. Among the higher groups of peasants the importance of allotment land is declining because their expanding farms are forced far beyond the bounds of this allotment land, and they have to base themselves on a new type of landownership, not bonded but tree, not of the ancient-tribal kind but bought in the market: on the purchase and renting of land. The richer the peasants are in land, the fainter are the traces of serfdom; the more rapidly economic development proceeds, the more energetic is this emancipation from allotment land, the drawing of all land into the sphere of commerce, the establishment of commercial farming on rented land. Novorossia is a case in point. We have just seen that farming by the well-to-do peasants is done there to a greater extent on purchased and rented land than on allotment land. This may seem paradoxical, but it is a fact: in the part of Russia where land is available in the greatest quantities, the well-to-do peasants, possessing the biggest allotments (from 16 to 17 dessiatines per household) are shifting the centre of gravity of their farming from allotment land to non-allotment land !

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    The fact that the role of allotment land is declining at both rapidly progressing poles of the peasantry is, by the way, of enormous importance in appraising the conditions of that agrarian revolution which the nineteenth century has bequeathed to the twentieth, and which gave rise to the struggle of classes in our revolution. This fact graphically demonstrates that the break-up of the old system of landownership -- both landlord and peasant ownership -- has become an absolute economic necessity. This break-up is absolutely inevitable, and no power on earth can prevent it. The struggle is about the form of this break-up and how it is to be effected -- in the Stolypin way, by preserving landlordism and by the plunder of the communes by the kulaks, or in the peasant way, by abolishing landlordism and removing all medieval obstacles from the land through its nationalisation. We shall, however, deal with this question in greater detail further on. Here it is necessary to point out the important fact that the decline in the role of allotment land is leading to an extremely uneven distribution of peasant dues and obligations.

    It is well known that the dues and obligations falling on the Russian peasant bear very strong traces of the Middle Ages. We cannot here go into the details of Russia's financial history. It is sufficient to mention redemption payments -- that direct continuation of medieval quit-rent, that tribute paid to the serf-owning landlords, extracted with the aid of the police state. Suffice it to recall how unequally the lands of the nobility and the peasantry are taxed, the obligations in kind, etc. We quote only total figures of dues and obligations,<"p109"> from the data of the Voronezh peasant budget statistics.[63] The average gross income of a peasant family (according to data of 66 typical budgets) is given at 491 rubles 44 kopeks; the gross expenditure, 443 rubles. Net income, 48 rubles 44 kopeks. The total of dues and obligations per "average" household, however, is 34 rubles 35 kopeks. Thus, dues and obligations amount to 70 per cent of the net income. Of course, these are only dues in their form, but in fact they are the former feudal exploitation of the "bonded social-estate ". The net money income of the average family amounts in all to 17 rubles 83 kopeks, i.e., the "taxes" drawn from the Russian

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peasant are double his net money income -- and this is according to the statistics of 1889, not 1849!

    But in this case, too, average figures camouflage the peasant's poverty, and present the position of the peasantry in a much better light than it really is. The statistics of the distribution of dues and obligations among the various groups of peasants according to their economic strength show that those paid by the horseless or one-horse peasants (i.e., three-fifths of the total peasant families in Russia) are many times in excess not only of their net money income, but even of their net gross income. Here are the figures:

Budget figures (rubles per household)



Dues and

Also as per-
centage of

a) With no horse .   .   .   .   .
b) Owning 1 horse   .   .   .   .
c)    "   2 horses .   .   .   .
d)    "   3  "     .   .   .   .
e)    "   4  "     .   .   .   .
f)    "   5  "   and more .





Average .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .





    The horseless and one-horse peasants pay in the form of dues one-seventh and one-tenth respectively of all their gross expenditure. It is doubtful whether serf quit-rent was as high as that: the inevitable ruin of the mass of the peasants belonging to him would not have been to the advantage of the landlord. As to the uneven allocation of the dues it is, as we see, enormous. In proportion to their income, the well-to-do peasants pay three to two times less. What is the cause of this inequality? The cause is that the peasants divide the bulk of the dues according to the amount of allotment land held. For the peasant the share of dues and the share of allotment land merge into the single concept -- "head". And if, in our example, we calculate the amount of dues and obligations for different groups per dessiatine of allotment land, we will get the following: (a) 2.6 rubles; (b) 2.4 rubles; (c) 2.5 rubles; (d) 2.6 rubles; (e) 2.9 rubles; (f) 3.7 rubles. With the exception of the highest

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group, which owns large industrial establishments that are assessed separately, we see an approximately even distribution of the dues. Here, too, the share of allotment land corresponds, as a whole, to the share of dues paid. This phenomenon is a direct survival (and direct proof) of the feudal character of our village commune. From the very conditions of the labour-service system of farming, this could not be otherwise: the landlords could not have provided themselves with bonded labourers from among the local peasants for half a century after the "emancipation" had these peasants not been tied to starvation allotments and not been obliged to pay three times as dear for them. It must not be forgotten that at the end of the nineteenth century it has been no rare thing in Russia for the peasant to have to pay in order to get rid of his allotment land, to pay "extras" for giving up his allotment, i.e., to pay a certain sum to the person who took over his allotment.<"p111"> For example, Mr. Zhbankov describing the life of the Kostroma peasants in his book Women's Country (Kostroma, 1891),[64] says that, among Kostroma folk who leave their holdings in search of work, "it is rare that peasants receive for their land some small part of the dues; usually they let their land on the sole condition that the tenants make some use of it, the owner himself paying all the dues". In The Survey of Yaroslavl Gubernia, which appeared in 1896, we find quite a number of similar references to the fact that peasants who become migratory workers have to pay to get rid of their allotments.

    Of course, we will find no such "power of land" in the purely agricultural gubernias. But even in these gubernias the phenomenon of the declining role of allotment land at both poles in the countryside is undoubtedly to be observed in another form. This fact is universal. That being the case, the distribution of taxes according to the amount of allotment land inevitably gives rise to increasing inequality in taxation. From all sides and by diverse ways economic development is leading to the break-down of the medieval forms of landownership, the scrapping of the social-estate divisions (allotment, landlords' and other lands), to the rise of new forms of economy, evolving indifferently out of fragments of the one and the other type of landownership. The nineteenth century bequeaths to the twentieth century the

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imperative and obligatory task of completing this "clearing away" of the medieval forms of landownership. The fight is whether this "clearing" will be done in the form of peasant nationalisation of the land, or in the form of the accelerated plunder of the communes by the kulaks and of the transformation of landlord into Junker economy.

    Continuing our examination of the data concerning the present-day system of peasant economy, let us pass from the question of land to the question of livestock raising. Here again we have to establish that, as a general rule, the distribution of livestock among peasant households is much more uneven than the distribution of allotment land. Here, for example, we see the extent of livestock raising among the peasants in Dnieper Uyezd, Taurida Gubernia:

Per household

land (dess.)

Total live-
stock (head)

Cultivating no land  .   .   .   .   .
      "    up to  5 dessiatines
      "      5 to 10    "
      "    10 to 25    "
      "    25 to 50    "
      "    over 50    "



   Average .   .   .   .   .   .   .



    The difference in number of livestock between the extreme groups is ten times greater than in the amount of allotment land held. The data for livestock raising, too, show that the actual size of the property has little resemblance to what is usually believed to be the case when only average figures are used, and when it is assumed that the allotment determines everything. No matter what uyezd we take, every where the distribution of livestock is found to be much more uneven than the distribution of allotment land. The well to-do households, constituting 20 per cent of the total, and having from 29 to 36 per cent of the allotment land, have concentrated in their hands from 37 to 57 per cent of all livestock owned by the peasants in the given uyezd or group of uyezds. The lower groups, constituting 50 per cent of the total households, own 14 to 30 per cent of all the livestock.

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    But these figures by no means fully reveal the actual differences. No less important, and sometimes even more important than the question of the quantity of livestock, is the question of their quality. It goes without saying that the half-ruined peasant, with his poverty-stricken farm, enmeshed on all sides in the toils of bondage, is not in a position to acquire and keep livestock at all good in quality. If the owner (owner indeed!) starves, his livestock must starve; it cannot be otherwise. Budget statistics for Voronezh Gubernia illustrate with extraordinary clarity the wretched condition of livestock raising by the horseless and one-horse peasants, i.e., three-fifths of the total peasant farms in Russia. We quote below some extracts from these statistics in order to characterise the state of peasant livestock raising.

Average annual expenditure
( in rubles)

Total livestock
per household,
in terms of

For acquisition
and repair of
implements and
purchase of cattle


a) With no horse .   .   .   .   .
b) Owning 1 horse   .   .   .   .
c)    "   2 horses .   .   .   .
d)    "   3  "     .   .   .   .
e)    "   4  "     .   .   .   .
f)    "   5  "   and more .




Average .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .




    In the period from 1896 to 1900 there were in European Russia 3 1/4 million horseless peasant households. One can Imagine the state of their "farms" if they spent eight kopeks per annum on livestock and implements. One-horse households numbered 3 1/3 millions. With an expenditure of five rubles per annum for buying livestock and implements they can only linger on in a state of everlasting, hopeless poverty. Even in the case of two-horse peasants (2 1/2 million households) and three-horse peasants (1 million households), expenditure on livestock and implements amounts to only 9-10 rubles per annum. Only in the two higher groups (in

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the whole of Russia there are 1 million households of this type out of a total of 11 million) does expenditure on livestock and implements come anywhere near that required for carrying on proper farming.

    Quite naturally, in these conditions, the quality of the livestock cannot be the same in the different groups of farms. For example, the value of a draught horse belonging to a one-horse peasant is estimated at 27 rubles, that of a two horse peasant at 37 rubles, that of a three-horse peasant at 61 rubles, that of a four-horse peasant at 52 rubles and that of a peasant owning many horses at 69 rubles. The difference between the extreme groups is more than 100 per cent. And this phenomenon is general for all capitalist countries where there is small- and large-scale farming. In my book, The Agrarian Question (Part I, St. Petersburg, 1908),[*] I have shown that the investigations made by Drechsler into the conditions of farming and livestock raising in Germany revealed exactly the same state of affairs. The average weight of the average animal on large estates was 619 kilogrammes (op. cit., 1884, p. 259); on peasant farms of 25 and more hectares, 427 kilogrammes, on farms of 7 1/2 to 25 hectares, 382 kilogrammes, on farms of 2 1/2 to 7 1/2 hectares, 352 kilogrammes, and finally on farms up to 2 1/2 hectares, 301 kilogrammes.

    The quantity and quality of the livestock also determine the manner in which the land is tended, particularly the way it is manured. We showed above that all the statistics for the whole of Russia attest that the landlords' land is better manured than the peasants' land. Now we see that this division, which was proper and legitimate for the days of serfdom, is now obsolete. Between the various categories of peasant farms lies a deep gulf, and all investigations, calculations, findings and theories based on the "average" peasant farm lead to absolutely wrong conclusions on this question. Zemstvo statistics, unfortunately, very rarely study the various groups of households and are confined to figures covering the commune. But as an exception to the <"fnp114">

    * See present edition, Vol. 13, pp. 183-94. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's The Agrarian Question and the "Critics of Marx " (1907), Chapter XI. -- DJR]

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rule, during a house-to-house investigation made in Perm Gubernia (Krasnoufimsk Uyezd) the following precise data as to the manuring of land by the various peasant households were collected:

of farms
land at all

Number of
cart-loads of
manure per

Cultivating up to  5 dessiatines
     "      5 to 10    "
     "    10 to 20    "
     "    20 to 50    "
     "    over 50    "



   Average .   .   .   .   .   .   .



    Here we see types of farm that differ in agricultural methods according to the size of farm. And investigators working in another area who paid attention to this question arrived at similar conclusions. Statisticians in Orel Gubernia report that the amount of manure obtained per head of cattle on the farms of well-to-do peasants is almost twice the amount obtained on the farms of needy peasants. In the group with an average of 7.4 head of livestock per household, 391 poods of manure are obtained, while in the group with 2.8 head of livestock per household 208 poods are obtained. The "normal" amount is considered to be 400 poods, so that only a small minority of well-to-do peasants are able to reach this norm. The poor peasants are obliged to use straw and manure for fuel, and sometimes even to sell manure, etc.

    In this connection we must examine the question of the increase in the number of horseless peasants. In 1888-91 there were, in 48 gubernias of European Russia, 2.8 million horseless households, out of a total of 10.1 million households, i.e., 27.3 per cent. After approximately nine or ten years, in 1896-1900, out of a total of 11.1 million households, 3.2 million, or 29.2 per cent, were horseless. The increasing expropriation of the peasantry is, therefore, beyond doubt. But if one examines this process from the agronomical point of view, one arrives at a conclusion which at first sight is paradoxical. This was the conclusion arrived at by the well-

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<"p116"> known Narodnik writer, Mr. V. V., as early as 1884 (Vestnik Yevropy,[65] 1884, No. 7), when he compared the number of dessiatines of arable per horse on our peasant farms with that in the "normal" three-field farm -- normal from the point of view of agronomy. It turned out that peasants keep too many horses: they plough only 5 to 8 dessiatines per horse, instead of 7 to 10 as required by agronomy. "Consequently," concluded Mr. V. V., "the decline in horse-ownership among a section of the population in this part of Russia [the Central Black-Earth Belt] must, to a certain extent, be regarded as the restoration of the normal ratio between the number of draught animals and the area to be cultivated." In reality, the paradox is due to the fact that decline in horse-ownership is accompanied by the concentration of land in the hands of the well-to-do households, who arrive at a "normal" ratio between the number of horses and the cultivated area. This "normal" ratio is not "restored" (for it never existed in our peasant economy) but is achieved only by the peasant bourgeoisie. The "abnormality", on the other hand, boils down to the fragmentation of the means of production on the small peasant farms: the amount of land cultivated by a million one-horse peasants, with the aid of a million horses, is better and more thoroughly cultivated by well-to-do peasants with the aid of one-half or three-quarters of a million horses.

    In regard to implements on the peasant farms, a distinction must be drawn between ordinary peasant implements and improved agricultural implements. Generally speaking, the distribution of the first category corresponds to the distribution of draught animals; we shall find nothing new in statistics of this kind to characterise peasant farming. Improved implements, on the other hand, which are much more expensive, and are a paying proposition only on larger farms, are introduced only on successfully developiog farms, and are immeasurably more concentrated. Data concerning this concentration are extremely important, because they alone enable us to judge precisely in what direction, and in what social conditions, there is progress in peasant farming. There is no doubt that a step forward has been made in this direction since 1861, but very often the capitalist character of this progress, not only in landlord farming, but also in peasant farming, is contested or called in question.

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    The following Zemstvo statistical data show the distribution of improved implements among the peasantry:

Improved agricultural
implements per
100 households

Two yuezds
of Orel

One uyezd
of Voronezh

With no horses .   .   .   .   .   .
  "  1  horse   .   .   .   .   .   .
  " 2-3 horses .   .   .   .   .   .
  "  4  horses .   .   .   .   .   .



   Average  .   .   .   .   .   .   .



    In these localities, improved implements are comparatively little to be found among the peasants. The proportion of households possessing such implements is quite insignificant But the lower groups hardly employ them at all, whereas among the higher groups they are in regular use. In Novouzensk Uyezd, Samara Gubernia, only 13 per cent of the peasants have improved implements: but the percentage rises to 40 per cent in the group owning 5 to 20 draught animals and to 62 per cent in the group owning 20 and more animals. In Krasnoufimsk Uyezd, Perm Gubernia (three districts of this uyezd), there are 10 improved implements for every hundred farms -- this is the general average; but for every hundred farms cultivating from 20 to 50 dessiatines there are 50 improved implements and for every hundred farms cultivating 50 dessiatines there are as many as 180 implements. If we take the ratios we used earlier to compare the data of different uyezds, we find that the well-to-do households, constituting 20 per cent of the total, possess from 70 to 86 per cent of all the improved implements, whereas the poor households, which constitute 50 per cent of the total, account for from 1.3 to 3.6 per cent. Therefore, there cannot be the slightest doubt that the progress made in the spread of improved implements among the peasantry (reference to this progress is made, by the way, in the above-mentioned work of the year 1907 by Mr. Kaufman) is the progress of the well-to-do peasantry. Three-fifths of the total peasant households, the horseless and one-horse peasants, are almost completely unable to employ these improvements.

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    In examining peasant farming, we have up till now taken the peasants mainly as proprietors; at the same time we pointed to the fact that the lower groups are being continuously squeezed out of that category. Where do they land? Evidently in the ranks of the proletariat. We must now investigate in detail how this formation of the proletariat, particularly the rural proletariat, is actually taking place, and how the market for labour-power in agriculture is being formed. In the case of the labour-service system of farming the typical class figures are the feudal landlord and the bonded peasant who has been allotted land; in capitalist farming the typical figures are the employer-farmer and the farm-hand or the day-labourer who hires himself out. We have shown how the landlord and the well-to-do peasant are transformed into employers of labour. Now let us see how the peasant is transformed into a hired labourer.

    Is the employment of hired labour by well-to-do peasants widespread? If we take-the average percelltage of households employing farm-hands among the total peasant hquseholds (as is usually done), the percentage will not be very high: in Dnieper Uyezd, Taurida Gubernia, it is 12.9 per cent; in Novouzensk Uyezd, Samara Gubernia, 9 per cent; in Kamyshin Uyezd, Saratov Gubernia, 8 per cent; in Krasnoufimsk Uyezd, Perm Gubernia, 10.6 per cent; two uyezds in Orel Gubernia, 3.5 per cent; one uyezd in Voronezh Gubernia, 3.8 per cent; three uyezds in Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia, 2.6 per cent. But statistics of this kind are, strictly speaking, fictitious, since they express the percentage of households employing farm-hands to the total number of households -- including those which provide the farm-hands. In every capitalist society the bourgeoisie constitute an insignificant minority of the population. The number of households employing hired labour will always be "small". The question is, whether it means that a special type of farm is arising, or whether the employment of labour is a chance affair. To this question, too, a very definite answer is provided by Zemstvo statistics, which in all cases show the percentage of households employing farm-hands to be immeasurably larger in the groups of well-to-do peasants than the average for the

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uyezd as a whole. Let us quote the figures for Krasnoufimsk Uyezd, Perm Gubernia, which, as an exception to the rule, give information not only about the hiring of farm-hands, but also about the hiring of day-labourers, i.e., the form of hiring that is more typical of agriculture.

Number of
male work-
ers per

Percentage of farms hiring labours

Hired for




Cultivating no land  .   .   .   .   .
      "    up to  5 dessiatines
      "      5 to 10    "
      "    10 to 20    "
      "    20 to 50    "
      "    over 50    "






   Average .   .   .   .   .   .   .






    It will be seen that a distinguishing feature of the well-to do households is that they have larger lamilies, they have more of their own family as workers than the poor households have. Nevertheless, they employ incomparably more hired labourers. "Family co-operation" serves as a basis for extending the scale of farming and is thus transformed into capitalist co-operation. In the higher groups, the hiring of labourers is obviously becoming a system, a condition for conducting expanded farming. Moreover, the hiring of day-labourers turns out to be very considerably widespread even among the middle group of peasants: in the two higher groups (constituting 10.3 per cent of the households) the majority of the households hire labourers, while in the group cultivating from 10 to 20 dessiatines (22.4 per cent), more than two-fifths of the households hire labourers for reaping. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that the well-to-do peasants could not exist if there were not a vast army of agricultural labourers ready to serve them. And if, as we have seen, the data concerning the average percentages of households hiring

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labourers show considerable fluctuations for the different uyezds, what is universal is the concentration of households employing agricultural labourers in the higher groups of the peasantry, that is to say, the transformation of the well-to-do households into employers of labour. The well-to-do households, constituting 20 per cent of the total, account for from 48 to 78 per cent of the total number of households employing labourers.

    In regard to the other pole in the countryside, statistics do not usually indicate the number of households which provide hired labour of all kinds. On quite a number of questions our Zemstvo statistics have made considerable progress compared with the old, official statistics given in governors' reports and issued by various departments. But in one question, the old, official point of view has been retained even in Zemstvo statistics, and that is in regard to the so-called peasant "employments". Farming on his allotment is regarded as the peasant's real occupation; all other occupations are classed as side "employments" or "industries" and in doing so economic categories are lumped together that should be entered separately by anyone knowing the ABC of political economy. For example, the category "agricultural industrialists" includes, together with the mass of wage-labourers, also entrepreneur farmers (for example, melon growers); next to them, also in the category "households with employments", will be included beggars and traders, domestic servants and master-craftsmen, etc. Clearly, this crying political and economic muddle is a direct survival of serfdom. Indeed, it was a matter of indifference to the feudal landlord what occupation his quit-rent peasant followed on the side, whether that of a trader, a hired labourer or a master-industrialist. All the serfs were equally bound to pay quit-rent, all were regarded as being temporarily or conditionally absent from their real occupation.

    After the abolition of serfdom, this point of view came, with every passing day, into increasingly sharp connict with reality. Most of the peasant households having earnings on the side undoubtedly belong to the category of households which provide wage-labourers; but we cannot obtain a really exact picture of the situation, because the minority who are master-industrialists are included in the general total and

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embellish the position of the needy ones. Let us quote an example to illustrate the point. In Novouzensk Uyezd, Samara Gubernia,<"p121"> the statisticians have singled out the category of "agricultural industries" from the general mass of "industries".[66] Of course, this term is not exact either, but the list of occupations at least indicates that out of a total of 14,063 "industrialists" of this kind, 13,297 are farm hands and day-labourers. Thus wage-labourers predominate very largely. The distribution of agricultural industries is found to be the following:

Percentage of male
peasants engaged
in agricultural

Having no draught animals .   .   .   .
   "   1 draught animal   .   .   .   .
   "   2 to 3 draught animals .   .   .
   "   4         "      "     .   .   .
   "   5 to 15   "      "     .   .   .
   "  10 to 20   "      "     .   .   .
   "  20 draught animals and more  .


   In the uyezd  .   .   .   .   .   .   .


    Thus seven-tenths of the horseless peasants and almost half the one-horse peasants are hired labourers. In Krasnoufimsk Uyezd, Perm Gubernia, the average percentage of households whose members engage in agricultural industries is 16.2; but of those which do not cultivate their land 52.3 per cent engage in agricultural industries, and of those which cultivate up to five dessiatines, 26.4 per cent. In other uyezds, where the agricultural industries are not specified, the position is not quite so clear; nevertheless, it remains the general rule that "industries" and "employments" are, broadly speaking, the speciality of the lower groups. The lower groups, constituting 50 per cent of the total households, account for from 60 to 93 per cent of the households with "employments".

    We see from this that, in the general scheme of the national economy, the position of the lower groups of the peasantry, particularly the one-horse and horseless households, is that of farm-hands and day-labourers (more broadly -- hired labourers) possessing allotments. This conclusion is confirmed by the statistics showing the increase in the employment of hired labour since 1861 over the whole of Russia,

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by the investigations made into the budgets of the lower groups to trace the sources of their incomes, and finally by the statistics on the standard of living of these groups. We shall dwell in somewhat greater detail on this threefold proof.

    General statistics regarding the growth in the number of rural hired labour in the whole of Russia are available only for migratory workers, without indicating whether they are engaged in agricultural or non-agricultural occupations. The question as to whether the former or the latter preponderate in the total number was decided in Narodnik literature in favour of the former, but we shall give below the reasons for an opposite point of view. There is no doubt whatever that the number of migratory workers among the peasantry increased rapidly after 1861. All evidence goes to prove this. An approximate statistical expression of this phenomenon is found in the returns dealing with passport revenue and the number of passports issued. Passport revenue amounted to 2,100,000 rubles in 1868; 3,300,000 rubles in 1884, and 4,500,000 rubles in 1894. This shows a more than doubled revenue. The number of passports and certificates issued in European Russia was 4,700,000 in 1884, 7,800,000 in 1897 and 9,300,000 in 1898. In thirteen years, as we see, the number doubled. All these figures correspond, on the whole, with other estimates, for example, with that made by Mr. Uvarov, who summarised the figures of Zemstvo statistics -- for the most part obsolete --<"p122"> for 126 uyezds in 20 gubernias and arrived at the likely total of 5,000,000 migratory workers.[67] Mr. S. Korolenko, on the basis of data on the number of surplus local workers, arrived at the figure of 6,000,000.

    In the opinion of Mr. Nikolai-on, the "overwhelming majority" of these are engaged in agricultural industries. In The Development of Capitalism * I showed in detail that the statistics and investigations of the sixties, eighties and nineties fully prove this conclusion to be wrong. The majority, although not the overwhelming majority, of the migratory workers are engaged in non-agricultural occupations. The following are the fullest and latest data concerning the dis-

    * See present edition, Vol. 3, pp. 567-80 --Ed.

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tribution, by gubernias, of residential permits issued in European Russia in 1898:

Groups of gubernias

Total resiential
permits of all
kinds issued
in 1898


17 gubernias with predominance of
non-agricultural migration .   .   .
12 gubernias, intermediate .   .   .
21 gubernias with predominance of
agricultural migration  .   .   .   .


Total for 50 gubernias   .   .   .   .


    If we assume that in the intermediate gubernias half are workers in agricultural jobs, then the approximate, the most probable distribution will be as follows:<"p123"> about 4,200,000 non-agricultural hired labourers and about 3,600,000 agricultural hired labourers. Alongside this figure should be placed the figure given by Mr. Rudnev,[68] who in 1894 summed up the returns of Zemstvo statistics for 148 uyezds in 19 gubernias and arrived at the approximate figure of 3,500,000 agricultural wage-workers. This figure, based on the returns for the eighties, includes both local and migratory agricultural workers. At the end of the nineties, there were so many migratory agricultural workers alone.

    The growth in the number of agricultural wage-workers is directly connected with the development of that capitalist enterprise in agriculture which we have traced in landlord and peasant economy. Take, for example, the use of machinery in agriculture. We have quoted precise data proving that, so far as concerns the well-to-do peasants, it signifies the transition to capitalist enterprise. As for landlord economy, the use of machinery, and in general of improved implements, means inevitably the squeezing out of the labour-service system by capitalism. The implements of the peasant are replaced by the implements of the landlord; the old three-field system is supplanted by new farming methods connected with the change in the implements employed; the bonded peasant is not suitable for work with improved implements and his place is taken by the farm-hand or the day-labourer.

    In the region of European Russia where the use of machinery developed most after the Reform, the employment of hired labour from outside is also most widespread. This

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region comprises the southern and eastern borderlands of European Russia. The influx of agricultural labourers into that region has given rise to extremely typical and clearly expressed capitalist relations. These relations deserve to be dealt with, in order to compare the old and hitherto predominant system of labour-service economy with the new tendencies increasingly coming to the fore. First of all, it must be noted that the southern area is distinguished by the highest wages paid in agriculture. According to statistics for a whole decade (1881-91), which preclude any casual fluctuations, the highest wages in Russia are paid in Taurida, Bessarabia and Don gubernias. Here the wages of a labourer hired by the year, including keep, amount to 143 rubles 50 kopeks, and those of a seasonal labourer (for the summer), 55 rubles 67 kopeks. Next highest wages are those paid in the most highly industrial area -- St. Petersburg, Moscow, Vladimir and Yaroslavl gubernias. Here the wages of an agricultural labourer hired for the year amount to 135 rubles 80 kopeks, and those of a seasonal worker 53 rubles. The low est wages are paid in the central agricultural gubernias -- Kazan, Penza, Tambov, Ryazan, Tula, Orel and Kursk, i.e., the principal districts where labour service, bondage and all sorts of survivals of serfdom prevail. Here the labourer hired for the year receives only 92 rubles 95 kopeks, a third less than the wages paid in the most highly capitalist gubernias, and the seasonal worker 35 rubles 64 kopeks, 20 rubles less for the summer than is paid in the south. It is precisely from this central district that we see an enormous migration of workers. Every spring more than one and a half million people leave this district, partly to seek agricultural employment (mainly in the south, and partly, as we shall see below, in the industrial gubernias), and also to seek non-agricultural employment in the capital cities and in the industrial gubernias. Between this principal area of egress and the two principal areas of ingress (the agricultural south and the capital cities with the two industrial gubernias) there are zones of gubernias in which average wages are paid. These gubernias attract part of the workers from the "cheapest" and most hunger-stricken central area, while in their turn supplying part of the workers for districts where higher wages are paid. In Mr. S. Korolenko's book, Freely Hired Labour, the author

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uses very extensive material to give a detailed description of this process of workers' migration and of the shifts in population. In this way capitalism achieves a more even distribution of the population (even, of course, from the point of view of the requirements of capital); levels wages throughout the country; creates a really single, national labour market; gradually cuts the ground from under the old modes of production by "enticing" the bonded peasant with high wages. Hence the endless complaints of the landed gentry about the local workers becoming corrupted, about the debauchery and drunkenness created by migration, about the workers being "spoilt" by the towns, etc., etc.

    By the end of the nineteenth century fairly large capitalist agricultural enterprises were established in the districts to which the greatest number of workers migrated. Capitalist co-operation arose in the employment, for example, of machines like threshers. Mr. Tezyakov,<"p125"> in describing the conditions of life and labour of agricultural workers in Kherson Gubernia,[69] points out that the horse-drawn threshing-machine requires from 14 to 23 and more labourers, while the steam thresher requires from 50 to 70. Some farms employed between 500 and 1,000 workers -- an extremely high figure for agriculture. Capitalism made it possible to replace more costly male labour by female and child labour. For example, in the small town of Kakhovka -- one of the chief labour-markets in Taurida Gubernia, where as many as 40,000 workers used to gather, and where, in the nineties of the last century, there were between 20,000 and 30,000, the number of women in 1890 comprised 12.7 per cent of all the registered workers, while in 1895 the percentage was already 25.6. Children, in 1893, constituted 0.7 per cent of the total, and in 1895 already 1.69 per cent.

    Collecting workers from all over Russia, the capitalist farms sorted them out according to their requirements, and created something akin to the hierarchy of factory workers. For example, the following categories are indicated: full workers and semi-workers, these again being subdivided into "workers of great strength" (16 to 20 years of age) and semi-workers of "little assistance" (children between the ages of 8 and 14). No trace here remains of the old, so-called "patriarchal" relations between the landlord and "his" peas-

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ant. Labour-power becomes a commodity like any other. The "truly Russian" type of bondage disappears, yielding place to weekly wage payment, fierce competition, bargaining between workers and employers. The accumulation of enormous masses of workers in the labour-markets, and incredibly arduous and insanitary working conditions, have given rise to attempts to establish public control over the big farms. These attempts are characteristic of "large-scale industry" in agriculture, but of course they cannot be durable so long as political liberties and legal labour organisations are lacking. How hard the working conditions of the immigrant workers are may be judged by the fact that the working day ranges from 12 1/2 to 15 hours. Injuries to workers tending machines have become a common occurrence. Occupational diseases have spread (for example, among workers tending threshing-machines, etc.). All the "charms" of purely capitalist exploitation in the most developed, American, form are to be observed in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century, side by side with purely medieval labour-service and corvée systems of economy, which have long ago disappeared in the advanced countries. The whole great variety of agrarian relations in Russia amounts to the interweaving of feudal and bourgeois methods of exploitation.

    To complete this account of the conditions of hired labour in Russian agriculture, we may quote statistics regarding the budgets of peasant farms in the lower groups. Wage-labour is included here under the euphemistic heading of "employments" or "industries". In what relation does the income from these "employments" stand to the income from agriculture? The budgets of the horseless and one-horse peasants in Voronezh Gubernia give an exact answer to this question. The gross income of a horseless peasant from all sources is estimated at 118 rubles 10 kopeks, of which 57 rubles 11 kopeks is from farming and 59 rubles 4 kopeks from "industries". The latter sum is made up of 36 rubles 75 kopeks income from "personal industries" and 22 rubles 29 kopeks miscellaneous income. Included in the latter item is income from the letting of land ! The gross income of a one-horse peasant is 178 rubles 12 kopeks, of which 127 rubles 69 kopeks is from farming and 49 rubles 22 kopeks from "industries" (35 rubles

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from personal industries, 6 rubles carting, 2 rubles from "commercial and industrial establishments and enterprises" and 6 rubles miscellaneous income). If we subtract the expenditure on farming, we will get 69 rubles 37 kopeks income from farming, as against 49 rubles 22 kopeks income from "industries". That is how three-fiiths of the peasant households in Russia obtain their livelihood. Naturally, the standard of living of these peasants is no higher, and sometimes even lower, than that of farm-hands. In this same Voronezh Gubernia the average yearly wage of a farm-hand (during the decade 1881-91) was 57 rubles, plus keep, which cost 42 rubles. Yet the cost of maintaining a whole family of four persops amounted to 78 rubles per annum in the case of a horseless peasant and 98 rubles per annum for a family of five in the case of a one-horse peasant. The Russian peasant has been reduced by labour service, taxes, and capitalist exploitation to such a miserable, starvation standard of life as seems incredible in Europe. In Europe such social types are called paupers.



    To sum up all that has been said above concerning the differentiation of the peasantry, we will first of all quote the only printed summary statistics for the whole of European Russia, enabling us to judge of the various groups existing within the peasantry at various periods. These are the returns of the army-horse censuses. In the second edition of my book, The Development of Capitalism,* I summarised these returns for 48 gubernias in European Russia for the periods 188-91 and 1896-1900. The following is an abstract of the most important results:

Number of peasant households
(in millions)







Horseless .   .   .   .   .   .
Having 1 horse   .   .   .   .
  "   2 horses .   .   .   .
  "   3  " .   .   .   .   .
  "   4 horses and more  .





  Total .  .   .   .   .   .   .





    * See present edition, Vol. 3, p. 146. --Ed.

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    As I have already mentioned, incidentally, above, these figures evidence the increasing expropriation of the peasantry. The one-million increase in the number of households went entirely to enlarge the two lowest groups. The total number of horses declined in this period from 16.91 to 16.87 millions, that is to say, the peasantry as a whole became somewhat poorer in horses. The highest group also became poorer in horses: in 188-91 it had 5.5 horses per household compared with 5.4 in 1896-1900.

    It is easy to draw the conclusion from these figures that no "differentiation" is taking place among the peasantry; the poorest group increased most, whereas the richest group diminished most (in number of households). This is not differentiation, but levelling up of poverty! And such conclusions, based on similar methods, can very often be found in the literature on the subject. But if we ask: have the relations between the groups within the peasantry changed? -- we see something different. In 1888-91 the lowest groups, constituting half the households, owned 13.7 per cent of the total number of horses, and in 1896-1900 the percentage was exactly the same. The most well-to-do groups, which constituted one-fifth of the households, owned 52.6 per cent of the total number of horses in the first period, and 53.2 per cent in the second period. Clearly, the relations between the groups remained almost unchanged. The peasantry became poorer, the well-to-do groups became poorer, the crisis of 1891 made itself felt very seriously, but the relations between the rural bourgeoisie and the peasantry that was being driven to ruin did not change as a result, nor could they change essentially.

    This circumstance is often overlooked by those who undertake to judge of the differentiation of the peasantry on the basis of fragmentary statistics. It would be ridiculous to imagine, for instance, that isolated statistics on the distribution of horses are able to explain anything at all in regard to the differentiation of the peasantry. This distribution proves absolutely nothing, if it is not taken together with the entire sum total of data on peasant farming. If, in examining these data, we have established what is common among the groups in regard to distribution of the renting and the letting of land, improved implements and manure, earnings and

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purchased land, hired labourers and numbers of livestock, if we have proved that all these various aspects of the phenomenon are inseparably interconnected, and reveal in fact the formation of opposite economic types -- a proletariat and a rural bourgeoisie -- if we have established all this, and only to the extent that we have established this, we can take isolated figures showing, say, the distribution of horses, to illustrate all that has been said above. On the other hand, if we are referred to this or that case of diminution in the number of horses owned by the well-to-do group, say, over a given period, it would be sheer nonsense to draw any general conclusions from this alone as to the relation within the peasantry between the rural bourgeoisie and the other groups. In no single capitalist country, in no single branch of economy, is there, or can there be (the market being predominant) an even process of development: capitalism cannot develop otherwise than in leaps and zigzags, now rapidly advancing, now dropping temporarily below the previous level. And the crux of the matter concerning the Russian agrarian crisis and the forthcoming upheaval is not what degree of development has been reached by capitalism, or what the rate of that development is, but whether it is, or is not, a capitalist crisis and upheaval, whether it is, or is not, taking place in conditions in which the peasantry is being transformed into a rural bourgeoisie and a proletariat, and whether the relations between the various households within the commune are, or are not, bourgeois relations. In other words: the primary object of any study of the agrarian question in Russia is to establish the basic data for characterising the class substance of agrarian relations. And only after we have established what classes and what trend of development we are dealing with, can we take up particular questions about the rate of development, the various modifications in the general trend of development, etc.

    Marxist views on post-Reform peasant economy in Russia are grounded on the recognition of this economy as petty-bourgeois in type. And the controversy which economists in the Marxist camp have waged with the Narodnik economists has revolved primarily (and cannot but do so, if the real nature of the differences between them is to be ascertained) around the point as to whether this characterisation is

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correct, whether it is applicable or not. Unless this point is guite definitely cleared up, no progress whatever can be made towards more concrete or practical questions. For example, it would be an absolutely hopeless and confusing task to examine the different ways of solving the agrarian question bequeathed by the nineteenth century to the twentieth century, if we have not first cleared up in what general direction our agrarian evolution is proceeding, what classes stand to gain should events take this or that course, etc.

    The detailed figures on the differentiation of the peasantry quoted above reveal precisely that foundation of all the other questions of the agrarian revolution without an understanding of which it is impossible to proceed. The sum total of the relations between the various groups of the peasantry which we have studied in detail at opposite ends of Russia, reveals to us precisely what is the essence of the social and economic relations existing within the commune. These relations strikingly reveal the petty-bourgeois nature of peasant economy in the present historical situation. When the Marxists used to say that the small producer in agriculture (irrespective of whether he cultivates allotment or any other land) is inevitably, with the development of commodity economy, a petty bourgeois, this proposition caused astonishment; it was said to be a mechanical, groundless attempt to apply outside models to our own original conditions. But the data on the relations between the groups, on the way the rich members of the commune outbid the poorer members for possession of the rented land, on the employment of farm-hands by the former and the conversion of the latter into hired labourers, etc., etc. -- all these data confirm the theoretical conclusions of Marxism and render them incontrovertible. The question of the significance of the commune in the trend of Russia's economic development is decided irrevocably by these data, because it is this actual trend of the actual (and not imaginary) commune that our data indicate. Despite all the equalised distribution of allotment land and despite the redistributions, etc., it turns out that the trend of the real economic development of members of the peasant commune consists precisely in the formation of a rural bourgeoisie and in the squeezing-out of the mass of the poorest peasants into the ranks of the proletariat. As we shall see

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further on, both the Stolypin agrarian policy and the nationalisation of the land demanded by the Trudoviks are in line with this trend of development, even though there is an enormous difference between these two forms of "solution" of the agrarian question from the point of view of the rapidity of social development, the growth of productive forces and the maximum observance of the interests of the masses.

    We must now also examine the question of the development of commercial farming in Russia. The foregoing exposition included, as a premise, the well-known fact that the whole of the post-Reform period is distinguished by the growth of trade and exchange. We think it is quite superfluous to cite statistics in confirmation of this. But we must show, first, precisely to what extent present-day peasant economy is already subordinated to the market and, secondly, what special forms agriculture assumes as it becomes subordinated to the market.

    The most precise data on the first question are contained in the budget statistics of the Voronezh Zemstvo. From these statistics we are able to separate the money expenditure and income of a peasant family from the total expenditure and income (gross incomes and expenditures were given above). Here is a table showing the role of the market:

What percentage of his total
expenditure and income
is the peasant's money
expenditure and income?



With no horse  .   .   .   .   .   .
  " 1 horse .   .   .   .   .   .   .
  " 2 horses   .   .   .   .   .   .
  " 3  "   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
  " 4  "   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
  " 5  "  and more .   .   .   .



   Average .  .   .   .   .   .   .



    Thus, even the farm of the middle peasant -- leave alone that of the well-to-do and of the impoverished, semi-proletarian, peasants -- is subordinated to the market to a very powerful extent. Hence all arguments about peasant farming which ignore the predominant and growing role of the market, of exchange, of commodity production, are fundamentally wrong. The abolition of the feudalist latifundia and of

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landlordism -- a measure upon which all the thoughts of the Russian peasantry were concentrated at the end of the nineteenth century -- will increase and not diminish the power of the market, for the growth of trade and commodity production is retarded by labour service and bondage.

    In regard to the second question, it must be pointed out that the penetration of capital into agriculture is a distinctive process which cannot be properly understood if we confine ourselves to bald figures covering the whole of Russia. Agriculture becomes commercial not suddenly, and not to an equal degree on different farms and in different parts of the country. On the contrary, the market usually subordinates to itself one aspect of the complex economy of agriculture in one locality and another aspect in another, the remaining aspects not disappearing, but adapting themselves to the "main", i.e., the money, aspect. For example, in one area it is mainly commercial grain farming that develops: the staple produced for sale is grain. Livestock raising plays a subordinate role in such farming, and further -- in extreme cases of the one-sided development of grain farming -- almost disappears. The Far-West "wheat factories" in America, for instance, were sometimes organised for one summer, almost without livestock. In other areas it is mainly commercial stock-farming that develops: the staples produced for sale are meat or dairy produce. Purely crop farming adapts itself to stock-farming. Of course, both the size of the farm and the methods of farm organisation will differ in each case. Suburban dairy farming cannot be judged by the area of land under cultivation. The same measure of what is large and small farming cannot be applied to the steppe farmer, the market gardener, the tobacco-grower and the "dairy farmer" (to use an English term), etc.

    The penetration of exchange and trade into agriculture gives rise to its specialisation, and this specialisation steadily increases. The same economic indexes (the number of horses, for example) acquire a different significance in different regions of commercial agriculture. Among the horseless peasants in the environs of the capital cities there are, for example, big farmers who possess, say, dairy cattle, do a big volume of business and employ wage-labour. Of course, the number of such farmers among the mass of horseless and

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one-horse peasants is absolutely insignificant; but if we take just the gross figures covering the whole country we shall not be able to trace the special type of capitalism in agriculture.

    This circumstance deserves special notice. If it is ignored, a correct picture of the development of capitalism in agriculture cannot be obtained, and it is easy to fall into the error of vulgarisation. The full complexity of the process can be grasped only by taking into account the real specific features of agriculture. It is utterly wrong to say that, owing to its specific features, agriculture is not subject to the laws of capitalist development. It is true that the specific features of agriculture hinder its subordination to the market; nevertheless, everywhere and in all countries the growth of commercial agriculture is proceeding apace. But the forms in which this formation of commercial agriculture takes place are indeed distinctive, and call for special methods of study.

    To illustrate what has been said, let us take graphic examples from various regions of commercial agriculture in Russia. In the commercial grain farming regions (Novorossia, Trans-Volga region) we see an extremely rapid increase in the harvest of cereals. In 1864-66 these gubernias were behind the Central Black-Earth gubernias, with a net harvest of only 2.1 chetverts per head of population; in 1883-87 these gubernias were ahead of the central area with a net harvest of 3.4 chetverts per head. The most characteristic feature of this region in the post-Reform period is expansion of the area under crops. Very often the methods of tilling the land here are of the most primitive kind; attention is concentrated exclusively on sowing the largest possible area. In the second half of the nineteenth century something similar to the American "wheat factories" developed here. One can judge quite well from the area under crops (which among peasants in the higher groups attained 271 dessiatines per household) as to the size and type of farm. In another region -- the industrial, and particularly in the environs of the capital cities -- such an expansion of the crop area is out of the question. It is not commercial grain farming, but commercial stock-farming, that is particularly characteristic here. In this case a proper picture of the farm cannot be got from the number of dessiatines tilled or the number of horses employed. A much more suitable gauge is the number of cows

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(dairy farming). A change in crop rotation, grass cultivation and not the expansion of the crop area, are the characteristic indications here of progress in large-scale farming. The number of households with many horses is smaller here; a smaller number of horses may sometimes even be a sign of progress. On the other hand, the peasants in these parts are better off for cows than in the rest of Russia. Mr. Blagoveshchensky, in summing up the Zemstvo statistics, considered the average to be 1.2 cows per household; in 18 uyezds of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Tver and Smolensk gubernias, we have 1.6,<"p134"> and in St. Petersburg Gubernia alone 1.8 per household.[70] Both commercial capital and capital invested in production are applied mainly to livestock produce. The size of income depends largely on the number of milch cows owned. Dairy farms are developing. The hiring of agricultural labourers by well-to-do peasants is developing; we have already mentioned that people migrate from the impoverished central area to the industrial gubernias to take up agricultural work. In a word, the very same socio-economic relations manifest themselves here in an altogether different form, under farming conditions that do not resemble purely crop-raising conditions.

    And if we take the cultivation of special crops, like tobacco growing, or the combination of agriculture and technical processing of the produce (distilling, beet-sugar refining, oil seed-pressing, potato-starch making and other industries), the forms in which capitalist relations manifest themselves will resemble neither those which exist in commercial grain farming nor those which develop in commercial livestock farming. In this case we must take as our gauge either the area under special crops, or the size of the undertaking connected with the given farm, which is engaged in processing the produce.

    Gross agricultural statistics, which deal only with the sizes of land plots or with the number of cattle, do not by a long way take account of all this variety of forms, so that conclusions based only on statistics of this kind quite often prove to be wrong. Commercial farming is growing much more rapidly, the influence of exchange is wider, and capital is transforming agriculture much more profoundly than one might suppose from aggregate figures and abstract averages.

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    Let us now sum up what has been said above ahout the essence of the agrarian question and the agrarian crisis in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century.

    What is the essence of this crisis? M. Shanin, in his pamphlet Municipalisation or Division for Private Property (Vilna, 1907), insists that our agrarian crisis is a crisis of agricultural methods, and that its root cause lies in the need for raising the technique of agriculture, which is incredibly low in Russia, in the need for changing over to more efficient methods of arable farming, etc.

    This opinion is wrong, because it is too abstract. Undoubtedly a change over to higher techniques is necessary, but, in the first place, this transition has actually been going on in Russia since 1861. However slow the progress, it is beyond all doubt that both landlord farming and peasant farming, as represented by the well-to-do minority, have been going over to grass cultivation, to the use of improved implements, to more systematic and careful manuring of the soil, etc. And since this slow progress in agricultural technique has been a general process since 1861, it is obvious that it is not enough to quote it as an explanation of the universally admitted intensification of the agricultural crisis at the end of the nineteenth century. Secondly, both forms of "solution" of the agrarian question that have been advanced in practice -- both the Stolypin solution from above, by preserving landlordism and finally doing away with the commune, by having the kulaks plunder it, and also the peasant (Trudovik) solution from below, by abolishing landlordism and by nationalising all the land -- both these solutions, each in its own way, facilitate the transition to a higher technique and promote agricultural progress. The only difference is that one solution bases this progress on accelerating the process of forcing the poor peasants out of agriculture, while the other bases it on accelerating the process of eliminating labour service by abolishing the feudalist latifundia. That the poor peasants farm their land very badly is an undoubted fact. Undoubtedly, therefore, if their land is allowed to be sacked and plundered by a handful of well-to-do peasants, agricultural technique advances to a higher level. But it is just as

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undoubted a fact that the landed estates worked on the basis of the labour-service system and bondage, are cultivated very badly, worse than the allotment lands (recall the figures quoted above: 54 poods per dessiatine from allotment land; 66 from landed estates farmed on capitalist lines, 50 from estates cultivated on the métayer system, and 45 from land rented by peasants by the year). The labour-service system of landlord economy means the preservation of incredibly obsolete methods of cultivation, the perpetuation of barbarism both in agricultural technique and in the entire life of society. It is beyond doubt, therefore, that if labour service is rooted out, i.e., if landlordism is completely abolished (and without redemption), then agricultural technique will advance to a higher level.

    Consequently, in the agrarian question and the agrarian crisis the heart of the matter is not simply the removal of obstacles to the advance of agricultural technique, but what way these obstacles are to be removed, what class is to effect this removal and by what methods. And it is absolutely necessary to remove the obstacles to the development of the country's productive forces -- necessary not only in the subjective sense of the word, but also in the objective sense, i.e., this removal is inevitable, and no power on earth can prevent it.

    The mistake made by M. Shanin, as well as by many others who write on the agrarian question, is that he approached the correct thesis of the need to raise the level of farming technique in too abstract a fashion, failing to take account of the peculiar forms in which feudalist and capitalist features are interwoven in Russian agriculture. The main and fundamental obstacle to the development of the productive forces in Russian agriculture is the survivals of serfdom, i.e., primarily labour service and bondage, then feudalist taxes, the peasant's inequality in the matter of civic rights, his degraded status in relation to the higher estate of society, etc., etc. The elimination of these survivals of serfdom has long become an economic necessity, and the crisis in agriculture at the end of the nineteenth century has become so intensely aggravated precisely because the process of emancipating Russia from medievalism has been dragging out too long, because labour service and bondage have lingered too long.

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They have been dying out since 1861 so slowly that the new organism has come to need violent means for ridding itself of them quickly.

    What is this new economic organism of Russian agriculture? We have tried above to show this in particular detail, because the economists in the liberal-Narodnik camp have particularly wrong ideas on this subject. The new economic organism that is hatching out of its feudalist shell in Russia is commercial agriculture and capitalism. The economics of landlord farming, when it is not being conducted on the basis of labour service or the bondage of the allotment-holding peasant, clearly reveal capitalist features. The economics of peasant farming -- in so far as we are able to look inside the commune and see what is going on in real life despite the official equalisation of allotment land -- again reveal purely capitalist features everywhere. Commercial agriculture is steadily growing in Russia in spite of all obstacles, and this commercial agriculture is inevitably being transformed into capitalist agriculture, although the forms of this transformation are diverse in the highest degree and vary from district to district.

    What should constitute that violent elimination of the medieval shell, which has become necessary for the further free development of the new economic organism? The abolition of medieval forms of landownership. In Russia, to this very day, ownership both by the landlords and, to a considerable extent, by the peasants is medieval. We have seen how the new economic conditions are breaking down this medieval framework and divisions in landowning, compelling the poor peasant to let his allotment which he has held from time immemorial, compelling the well-to-do peasant to build up his own comparatively large farm out of the fragments of different types of land: allotments, purchased land, land rented from the landlord. On the landed estate, too, its division into lands cultivated on the basis of labour service, rented to peasants on annual leases, and farmed on capitalist lines, shows that new systems of farming are being built up outside the framework of the old, medieval system of land ownership.

    That system can be abolished at one stroke by a determined break with the past. Such a measure would be the nation-

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alisation of the land, which all the representatives of the peasantry were demanding, more or less consistently, in the period between 19O5 and 1907. The abolition of private property in land in no way changes the bourgeois basis of commercial and capitalist landowning. There is nothing more erroneous than the opinion that the nationalisation of the land has anything in common with socialism, or even with equalised land tenure. Socialism, as we know, means the abolition of commodity economy. Nationalisation, on the other hand, means converting the land into the property of the state, and such a conversion does not in the least affect private farming on the land. The system of farming on the land is not altered by whether the land is the property or "possession" of the whole country, of the whole nation, just as the (capitalist) system of farming by the well-to-do muzhik is not altered by whether he buys land "in perpetuity", rents land from the landlord or the state, or "gathers up" the allotment plots of impoverished, insolvent peasants. So long as exchange remains, it is ridiculous to talk of socialism. The exchange of agricultural produce and means of production does not depend upon the forms of landowning at all. (I will remark in parenthesis that I am setting forth here only the economic significance of nationalisation, not advocating it as a programme; that I have done in the work referred to above.[*])

    As to equalisation, we have already shown above how it is applied in practice in the distribution of allotment land. We have seen that, within the commune, allotment land is distributed fairly equally, with only a slight tendency in favour of the rich peasants. But in the long run very little trace is left of this equalisation, owing to the fact that the poor let their land and that rented land is concentrated in the hands of the rich. Clearly, no equalisation of landholding is able to eliminate inequality in the actual use of the land, so long as there exist property differences among the peasants and a system of exchange which aggravates these differences.

    The economic significance of nationalisation does not lie at all where it is very often sought.<"p138"> It does not consist in the fight against bourgeois relationships (as Marx showed long ago,[71] nationalisation is a highly consistent bourgeois <"fnp138">

    * See present edition, Vol. 13, pp. 294-325. --Ed.

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measure), but in the fight against feudalist relationships. The multiplicity of medieval forms of landowning hampers economic development; the social-estate divisions hamper trade; the disparity between the old system of landowning and the new economy gives rise to sharp contradictions; owing to the latifundia, the landlords prolong the existence of labour service; the peasants are shut up, as in a ghetto, within the allotment system, the framework of which is being broken down in practice at every step. Nationalisation makes a clean sweep of all medieval relations in landowning, does away with all artificial barriers on the land, and makes the land really free -- for whom? For every citizen? Nothing of the kind. The freedom of the horseless peasant (i.e., 3 1/4 million households) consists, as we have seen, in letting his allotment land. The land becomes free for the farmer, for the one who really wants, and is able, to cultivate it according to the requirements of modern farming in general and of the world market in particular. Nationalisation would hasten the death of serfdom and the development of purely bourgeois farming on land free of all medieval lumber. That is the real historical significance of nationalisation in Russia -- what it has come to mean by the end of the nineteenth century.

    As for the other, objectively not impossible, road to clear up landowning for capitalism, it consists, as we have seen, in the accelerated plundering of the commune by the rich, and in consolidating private landed property among the well-to-do peasantry. This way leaves the principal source of labour service and bondage untouched; the landlord latifundia are left intact. Obviously, this method of clearing the way for capitalism guarantees free development of the productive forces to a far lesser degree than the first one. Once the latifundia are retained, this inevitably means also the retention of the bonded peasant, of métayage, of the renting of small plots by the year, the cultivation of the "squire's" land with the implements of the peasants, i.e., the retention of the most backward farming methods and of all that Asiatic barbarism which is called patriarchal rural life.

    The two ways I have indicated of "solving" the agrarian question in developing bourgeois Russia correspond to the

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two paths of development of capitalism in agriculture. I call these two paths the Prussian and the American paths. The characteristic feature of the first is that medieval relations in landowning are not liquidated at one stroke, but are gradually adapted to capitalism, which because of this for a long time retains semi-feudal features. Prussian landlordism was not crushed by the bourgeois revolution; it survived and became the basis of "Junker" economy, which is essentially capitalistic,<"p140"> but involves a certain degree of dependence of the rural population, such as the Gesindeordnung,[72] etc. As a consequence, the social and political domination of the Junkers was consolidated for many decades after 1848, and the productive forces of German agriculture developed far more slowly than in America. There, on the contrary, it was not the old slave-holding economy of the big landowners that became the basis of capitalist agriculture (the Civil War smashed the slave-owners' estates), but the free economy of the free farmer working on free land -- free from all medieval fetters, from serfdom and feudalism on the one hand, and from the fetters of private property in land, on the other. Land was given away in America, out of its vast resources, at a nominal price; and it is only on a new, fully capitalist basis that private property in land has now developed there.

    Both these paths of capitalist development quite clearly emerged in Russia after 1861. The progress of landlord farming is undoubted, and the slowness of this progress is not accidental, but inevitable so long as the survivals of serfdom remain. It is also beyond doubt that the freer the peasants are, the less they are weighed down by the remnants of serfdom (in the south, for example, all these favourable conditions exist), and finally, the better, all in all, the peasants are provided with land, the greater is the differentiation among the peasantry and the more rapid is the process of forming a class of rural capitalist farmers. The whole question of the further development of the country boils down to this: which of the two paths of development will ultimately prevail, and, correspondingly, which class will carry through the necessary and inevitable change -- the old land owning gentry or the free peasant farmer?

    It is often thought in Russia that nationalisation of the land means removing the land from the sphere of commerce.

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This, undoubtedly, is the point of view of the majority of the advanced peasants and of ideologists of the peasantry. But this view is deeply fallacious. The very opposite is the case. Private property in land is an obstacle to the free in vestment of capital in land. Therefore, where the free renting of land from the state exists (and this is the essence of nationalisation in bourgeois society) the land is drawn more energetically into the sphere of commerce than is the case where private property in land prevails. There is much more freedom of capital investment in land, and freedom of competition in agriculture, where land is freely rented than where land is private property. Nationalisation of the land is, as it were, landlordism without the landlord. And what landlordism in the capitalist development of agriculture means is explained in the remarkably profound arguments of Marx in his Theories of Surplus-Value. I have quoted these arguments in my work on the agrarian programme mentioned above, but in view of the importance of the question, I take the liberty of repeating them here.[*]

    In the paragraph on the historical conditions of Ricardo's theory of rent (Theorien über den Mehrwert, II. Band, 2. Teil, Stuttgart, 1905, S. 5-7), Marx says that Ricardo and Anderson "start out from the view, regarded as very strange on the Continent", viz., they presume that "no landed property exists as an obstacle to any investment of capital in the land". At first sight this would seem a contradiction, because it is precisely in England that feudal landed property is considered to have been preserved more completely than anywhere else. But Marx explains that it was in England of all countries that capital "dealt so ruthlessly with the traditional relations of agriculture". England is in this respect "the most revolutionary country in the world". "All historically inherited relations -- not only the position of the villages but the very villages themselves, not only the habitations of the agricultural population, but this population itself, not only the ancient economic centres, but the very economy itself -- have been ruthlessly swept away where they were in contradiction to the conditions of capitalist production in agriculture, or did not correspond to those conditions. The <"fnp141">

    * See present edition, Vol. 13, pp. 272-76. --Ed.

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German [continues Marx] finds economic relations determined by the traditional common-land relations [Feldmarken ], the position of economic centres, and particular conglomerations of the population. The Englishman finds that the historical conditions of agriculture have been progressively created by capital since the fifteenth century. The technical expression customary in the United Kingdom, the 'clearing of estates', does not occur in any continental country. But what does this 'clearing of estates' mean? It means that, without regard for the local population -- which is driven away, for existing villages -- which are levelled to the ground, for farm buildings -- which are torn down, for the kind of agriculture -- which is transformed at a stroke, being converted for example from tillage to pasture, all conditions of production, instead of being accepted as they are handed down by tradition, are historically fashioned in the form necessary under the circumstances for the most profitable investment of capital. To that extent, therefore, no landed property exists ; it allows capital -- the farmer -- to manage freely, since it is only concerned about the money income. A Pomeranian landowner [Marx refers to Rodbertus, whose theory of rent he refutes brilliantly and in detail in this work], his mind full of his ancestral common lands, economic centres, and the agricultural collegium, etc., is quite likely, therefore, to hold up his hands in horror at Ricardo's 'unhistorical' views on the development of agricultural relations." As a matter of fact, "the English conditions are the only ones in which modern landed property, i.e., landed property modified by capitalist production, has developed adequately [in ideal perfection]. Here the English theory [i.e., Ricardo's theory of rent] is the classical one for the modern, i.e., capitalist mode of production."

    In England, the clearing of the estates proceeded in revolutionary forms, accompanied by the violent break-up of peasant landowning. The break-up of the old and obsolete order is absolutely inevitable in Russia too; but the nineteenth century (and the first seven years of the twentieth) have not yet settled the question as to which class will do the breaking-up that we need, and in what form. We have shown above what the basis of the distribution of land is

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in Russia at the present time. We have seen that 10 1/2 million peasant households with 75 million dessiatines of land are confronted by 30,000 owners of latifundia with 70 million dessiatines. A possible outcome of the struggle, which cannot help breaking out on this basis, is that the holding of land by the ten million households will be almost doubled while the holding of land by the upper 30,000 will disappear. Let us examine this possible outcome from the purely theoretical point of view, from the point of view of the state of the agrarian question in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century. What should be the results of such a change? From the standpoint of landowning relations, it is obvious that the medieval ownership of allotments and medieval landlordism would be completely refashioned. The old order would be utterly swept away. Nothing traditional would be left in landowning relations. What factor, however, would determine the new agrarian relations? The "principle" of equalisation? That is what the advanced peasant, affected by Narodnik ideology, is inclined to believe. That is what the Narodnik thinks. But it is an illusion. In the commune the "principle" of equalisation, recognised by law and hallowed by custom, leads, in fact, to landownership becoming adapted to differences in property status. And on the basis of this economic fact, confirmed a thousand times over both by Russian and West-European data, we assert that hopes of equalisation would be shattered as an illusion, and that the refashioning of landownership would be the only durable result. Would the significance of such a result be great? Very great, because no other measure, no other reform, no other transformation could give such complete guarantees for the most rapid, wide and free progress of agricultural technique in Russia, and for the disappearance from our life of all traces of serfdom, social-estates, and the Asiatic way of life.

    Progress of technique? -- some may object. But has it not been proved above by means-of precise data that landlord farming is on a higher level than peasant farming in regard to grass cultivation, the employment of machines the manuring of the soil, and, of course, the quality of livestock, etc.? Yes, it has been proved, and this fact is absolutely beyond doubt. But it must not be forgotten that all

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these differences in economic organisation, technique, etc., are summed up in yield. And we have seen that the yield on the landlords' lands cultivated by peasants on a métayer or other such basis is lower than the yield on allotment land. That is the point nearly always overlooked when the agricultural level of landlord and peasant farming in Russia is discussed. Landlord farming is on a higher level insofar as it is conducted on capitalist lines. And the whole point is that this "insofar", at the end of the nineteenth century, has left the labour-service system as the predominant system of farming in our central districts. Insofar as the landlords' lands are still cultivated by the bonded peasant with his antiquated implements, methods, etc., to that extent landlordism is the principal cause of backwardness and stagnation. The change in the system of landownership that we are discussing would increase the yield on métayer and rented land (at the present time the yield on such land -- see the figures above -- is 50 and 45 poods as compared with 54 poods on allotment land and 66 poods on landlords' land cultivated on capitalist lines). Even if this yield were increased only to the allotment-land level, the progress would be tremendous. Needless to say, the yield on allotment land would also increase, both as a result of the peasant being freed from the yoke of the feudal latifundia, and also because the allotment lands, like the rest of the land in the state, would then be come free land, equally accessible (not to all citizens, but to citizens owning agricultural capital, i.e. --) to farmers.

    This conclusion follows not at all from the data we have quoted concerning yield. On the contrary, these data have been quoted merely to give a graphic illustration of the conclusion that follows from the sum total of data concerning the evolution of Russian landlord and peasant farming. To refute this conclusion, one has to refute the fact that the history of Russian agriculture in the second half of the nineteenth century is the history of the replacing of feudal by bourgeois production relations.

    By sticking to the data concerning the number of peasant farms at the present time we may get the impression that the agrarian transformation we are examining would lead to a considerable fragmentation of agriculture. Just think of it! Thirteen million households on 280 million dessiatines

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of land! Is not this a monstrous splitting up of the land? To this we reply: it is now that we see such a tremendous splitting up of the land, for it is now that thirteen million farms are operating on an area of less than 280 million dessiatines! Consequently, the change we are interested in would not make things worse at all in this respect. More than that. We would ask further whether there are any grounds for thinking that in the event of this change the number of farms will remain unchanged? That is the view usually taken by those who are influenced by Narodnik theories or by the opinions of the peasants themselves, whose every thought and striving is drawn to the land and who can even dream of the industrial workers being converted into small tillers of the soil. Undoubtedly, a certain number of Russian industrial workers at the end of the nineteenth century also adhere to this peasant point of view. The question, however, is whether this point of view is correct, whether it conforms to the objective economic conditions and to the course of economic development. One merely has to put this question clearly in order to see that the peasant point of view is conditioned by the obsolescent and irrevocable past, and not by the growing future. The peasant point of view is wrong. It represents the ideology of yesterday, whereas economic development is, in effect, leading not to an increase but to a diminution of the agricultural population.

    The change in landownership relations that we are examining will not and cannot abolish this process of diminution of the proportion of the agricultural population, a process common to all countries of developing capitalism. I may be asked, in what way could this change bring about a diminution of the agricultural population, once the land becomes freely accessible to all? I shall reply to this question with a passage from a speech delivered in the Duma by a peasant deputy Mr. Chizhevsky (Poltava Gubernia). Speaking on May 24, 1906, he said: "In our district, the peasants, the electors who sent us here, figured things out like this: 'If we were a little better off, and if every one of our families could afford to spend five or six rubles a year on sugar -- then in every uyezd where it is possible to grow sugar-beet several sugar refineries would be built, in addition to those which already exist.' It is quite natural that if these sugar refine-

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ries were built, what a mass of hands would be needed if production were intensified! The output of the sugar refineries would increase, etc." (Verbatim Reports, p. 622.)

    This is a very characteristic admission by a local leader. Had he been asked his opinion on the significance of agrarian reform in general, he would probably have expressed Narodnik views. But once it was a question not of "opinions" but of the concrete consequences of reform, capitalist truth immediately prevailed over Narodnik utopia. For what the peasants told their deputy Mr. Chizhevsky is precisely the capitalist truth, the truth of capitalist reality. There really would be a tremendous increase in the number of sugar refineries and in their productivity in the event of any appreciable improvement in the condition of the mass of small tillers of the soil. And it goes without saying that not only the beet-sugar industry, but all the manufacturing industries -- textile, iron, engineering, building, etc., etc. -- would receive a tremendous impetus, and would need a "mass of hands". And this economic necessity would prove stronger than all the fond hopes and dreams about equalisation. Three and a quarter million horseless households will not become "farmers" as a result of any agrarian reform, or any changes in landownership, or any "allotting of land". These millions of households (and quite a few of one-horse households), as we have seen, struggle on their patches of land, let their allotments. An American development of industry would inevitably divert from agriculture the majority of such farmers, whose position in capitalist society is hopeless, and no "right to the land" will be able to prevent this. Thirteen million small farmers with the most miserable, beggarly and obsolete implements, scratching away at their allotment and the landlords' land -- that is the reality of today; that is artificial over-population in agriculture, artificial in the sense of the forcible retention of those feudalist relations which have long outlived their day, and which could not be maintained for a single day without floggings, shootings, punitive expeditions, etc. Any tangible improvement in the condition of the masses, any serious blow to the survivals of serfdom, would inevitably strike at the roots of this over-population of the countryside and would immensely accelerate the process (which is taking

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place slowly even now) of diverting the population from agriculture into industry, reduce the number of farms from 13 million to a much lower figure, and would lead Russia forward in the American and not in the Chinese manner, as is the case now.

    The agrarian question in Russia towards the close of the nineteenth century has imposed upon the classes of society the task of putting an end to the old feudal past and sweeping clear the landowning system, sweeping clear the whole way for capitalism, for the growth of the productive forces, for the free and open struggle of classes. And this very struggle of classes will determine the manner in which this task will be accomplished.

July 1 (new style), 1908



  <"en45">[45] The Agrarian Question in Russia Towards the Close of the Nineteenth Century was written by Lenin in 1908 for an encyclopaedic dictionary issued by Granat Bros. Ltd., but was not published for censorship reasons. This work first appeared in Moscow in 1918 as a separate booklet issued by Zhizn i Znaniye Publishers.
    In writing this booklet Lenin made use of statistical returns and tables on the agrarian question contained in his works The Development of Capitalism in Russia and The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in the First Russian Reuolution, 1905-07 (see present edition, Vol. 3, p. 21-607 and Vol. 13, pp. 217-429).    [p.69]

  <"en46">[46] This refers to the book Statistics of Landownership for 1905. Returns for 50 Gubernias of European Russia. Published by the Central Statistical Committee of the Ministry of the Interior, St Petersburg, 1907.    [p.71]

  <"en47">[47] This refers to N. A. Rubakin's article "Our Ruling Bureaucracy in Figures", published in the newspaper Syn Otechestva (Son of the Fatherland ) No. 54, April 20 (May 3), 1905.    [p.75]

  <"en48">[48] The categories of peasants here listed by Lenin existed in tsarist Russia as survivals of feudal and semi-feudal relations.
    Chinsh peasants -- peasants who enjoyed the right of chinsh -- the right of perpetual inheritance of the land -- and paid almost invariable quit-rent, called chinsh. This form of relations existed mainly in Poland, Lithuania, Byelorussia, and parts of the Ukraine bordering on the Black Sea.
    Rezeshi -- small land proprietors in Moldavia and Bessarabia.
    Teptyars -- neo-Bashkirs, settlers from the Urals and the Volga region.    [p.77]

  <"en49">[49] This refers to The Collection of Statistical Data for Saratov Gubernia. Vol. I, Saratov Uyezd. Saratov, published by the Saratov Gubernia Zemstvo, 1883.    [p.77]

  <"en50">[50] Gift-land peasants -- former serfs who, at the time of the Reform of 1861, received from their landlords as a gift (without having to pay redemption money) miserable allotments amounting to a quarter of the "top" or "statutory" allotment established by law for the given locality. All the rest of the lands that had constituted the peasant allotments before the Reform were seized by the landlord who kept his "gift-land peagants", forcibly dispossessed of their

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land in a state of economic bondage even after serfdom was abolished.
    Full owners -- former landlords' peasants who had redeemed their allotments before the specified date and had the right to own the land as private property. These were a comparatively small category of the most well-to-do element in the countryside.
    State peasants with communal holdings had no private property rights on the land, which they used on the basis of communal landownership.
    State peasants with quarter holdings -- descendants of former servicemen (children of the boyars, Cossacks, streltsi, dragoons, soldiers, etc.) who guarded the southern and south-eastern borderlands of Muscovy. The Tsar of M uscovy rewarded them for their services with an endowment of a quarter lot (half a dessiatine) of land on which they settled in "single households" (hence their name odnodvortsi ). They enjoyed the right of communal landownership as well as their quarter holdings.
    These odnodvortsi, being freemen, for a long time held an intermediate position between the nobles and the peasants, and had the right to acquire serfs. Under Peter the Great they were turned into state peasants and their land became the property of the state. Actually, however, the state peasants with quarter holdings disposed of their lands as their own private property. In this they differed from the state peasants with communal holdings, who had no right to buy, sell or bequeath their land.
    State peasants who formerly were landlords' serfs -- a category of peasants purchased by the state from private owners or presented to the state, etc. Although regarded as state peasants, they enjoyed fewer rights. They were given equal rights in 1859, on the eve of the Reform of 1861, but certain distinctions still remained.
    Free tillers -- a category of peasants freed from serfdom under the law of February 20, 1803 which allowed landlords to give the peasants their freedom with land on the landlords' own terms.    [p.77]

  <"en51">[51] The village commune in Russia was the communal form of peasant use of the land, characterised by compulsory crop rotation, and undivided woods and pastures. Its principal features were collective liability (compulsory collective responsibility of the peasants for making their payments in full and on time, and the performance of various services to the state and the landlords), the regular reallotment of the land with no right to refuse the allotment given, the prohibition of its purchase and sale.
    The landlords and the tsarist government used the village commune to intensify feudal oppression and to squeeze redemption payments and taxes out of the people.    [p.78]

  <"en52">[52] This refers to the abolition of serfdom in Russia in 1861.    [p.78]

  <"en53">[53] This refers to the book: Beiträge zur Kenntniss des Russischen Reiches und der angränzenden Länder Asiens. Auf Kosten der Kai-

page 494

serl. Akademie der Wissenschaften herausgegeben von K. E. Baer und Helmersen, St. Petersburg, 1845.    [p.82]

  <"en54">[54] The full title of the book is Freely Hired Labour on Private Landowner Farms and the Movement of Workers According to a Statistical and Economic Survey of Agriculture and Industry in European Russia. Compiled by S. A. Korolenko, St. Petersburg, 1892 (Agricultural and Statistical Information Based on Material Obtained from Farmers, Issue V).    [p.85]

  <"en55">[55] Skopshchina -- the name given in the southern parts of Russia to a type of rent in kind on terms of bondage, the tenant paying the landlord a share of the crop s kopny (per corn-shock), and usually fulfilling miscellaneous labour services in addition.    [p.88]

  <"en56">[56] Wild landlord -- a type of landlord described by Saltykov-Shchedrin in his satirical fairy-tale published in English under the title of "Wild Gentleman".    [p.90]

  <"en57">[57] Lenin refers to the following books:
    1) V. Orlov, Forms of Peasant Landownership in Moscow Gubernia, Moscow, published by Moscow Gubernia Zemstvo, 1879 (Statistical Returns for Moscow Gubernia, Vol. 4, Issue I);
    2) V. Trirogov, The Village Commune and the Poll-Tax (Collected Investigations ), St. Petersburg, 1882;
    3) Johannes Keussler, Zur Geschichte und Kritik des bäuerlichen Gemeindebesitzes in Russland, Teil 1-3, 1876-87;
    4) V. V., The Peasant Commune (cf. Results of Economic Investigation of Russia According to Zemstvo Statistical Data, Vol. I, Moscow, 1892).
    V. V. -- pseudonym of V. P. Vorontsov, an ideologue of liberal Narodism of the eighties and nineties of the nineteenth century.    [p.93]

  <"en58">[58] Registered souls -- the male population of feudal Russia who were subject to the poll-tax (chiefly peasants and urban petty bourgeois), for which purpose special censuses ("registrations") were held beginning from 1718. The last, tenth, "registration" was made in 1857-59. Redistribution of the land within the village communes took place in a number of districts on the basis of these registration lists.    [p.93]

  <"en59">[59] Severny Vestnik (Northern Herald ) -- a literary, scientific, and political journal of a liberal trend, published in St. Petersburg from 1885 to 1898. In its early years the journal published articles by the Narodniks N. K. Mikhailovsky, S. N. Yuzhakov, V. P. Vorontsov, S. N. Krivenko, and others. From 1891 the journal virtually became the organ of the Russian symbolists and decadents and preached idealism and mysticism.    [p.94]

page 495

  <"en60">[60] This refers to N. Karyshev's book Peasant Rentings of Non-Allotment Land (cf. Results of the Economic Investigation of Russia According to Zemstvo Statistical Data, Vol. II, Dorpat, 1892).    [p.97]

  <"en61">[61] Nik.-on -- pseudonym of N. F. Danielson, an ideologue of liberal Narodism of the eighties and nineties of the nineteenth century.    [p.99]

  <"en62">[62] Winter hiring -- the hiring of peasants for summer work by landlords and kulaks in the winter, when the peasants were badly in need of money and forced to accept extortionate terms.    [p.100]

  <"en63">[63] This refers to Evaluation Returns on Peasant Landownership in Zemlyansk, Zadonsk, Korotoyak and Nizhnedevitsk Uyezds. Supplement to vols. III, IV, V and VI of Statistical Returns for Voronezh Gubernia, Voronezh, published by the Voronezh Gubernia Zemstvo, 1889.    [p.109]

  <"en64">[64] D. N. Zhbankov's sketch "Women's Country" was published in the book Data for Statistics of Kostroma Gubernia, Issue 8, Kostroma, published by the Kostroma Gubernia Statistical Committee, 1891.    [p.111]

  <"en65">[65] Vestnik Yevropy (European Messenger ) -- a monthly journal published in St. Petersburg from 1866 to the summer of 1918. It presented the views of the Russian liberal bourgeoisie, and beginning with the nineties waged a systematic struggle against Marxism.    [p.116]

  <"en66">[66] These data are given in the book Combined Returns for Samara Gubernia, Vol. 8, Issue 1, Samara, published by the Samara Gubernia Zemstvo, 1892.    [p.121]

  <"en67">[67] This refers to M. S. Uvarov's article "The Influence of Industry Employing Migratory Workers on the Sanitary Conditions of Russia" published in Vestnik Obshchestvennoi Gigieny, Sudebnoi i Prakticheskoi Meditsiny (Journal of Public Hygiene and Forensic and Practical Medicine ) in July 1896.    [p.122]

  <"en68">[68] Lenin is quoting figures from the article "Peasant Industries in European Russia" by N. F. Rudnev, published in Symposium of the Saratov Zemstvo, Nos. 6 and 11, 1894.    [p.123]

  <"en69">[69] This refers to the book Agricultural Labourers and the Organisation of Sanitary Supervision over Them in Kherson Gubernia, by N. I. Tezyakov, Kherson, published by the Kherson Gubernia Zemstvo Board, 1896.    [p.125]

  <"en70">[70] Lenin quotes figures from N. A. Blagoveshchensky's book Combined Zemstvo House-to-House Census Economic Returns. Vol. I. Peasant Farming, Moscow, 1898.    [p.134]

  <"en71">[71] Cf. K. Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Moscow, pp. 173-87.    [p.138]

  <"en72">[72] Gesindeordnung -- "Regulation for Servants", 1854. One of numerous laws in Prussia depriving farm labourers of all civil rights. Under this law the mere attempt of labourers to organise a strike was punishable with imprisonment.    [p.140]