F. Forest

Origin of Capitalism in Russia

An Old Essay by Lenin

Translator’s Note

(October 1943)

First published: The New International, Vol. IX No. 9, October 1943, p. 278.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Except for the brief concluding remarks, this is the first English translation of Chapter I of Lenin’s famous The Development of Capitalism in Russia, first published in 1899 under the pseudonym of V. Ilyin.

It is significant to observe that Lenin embarked on a detailed study of “the process of formation of the home market for large-scale industry” in Russia as a direct consequence of his theoretical debates with the Narodniki, “Populist” writers who exercised a considerable influence on Russia intellectual groups in the 1890s. He first undertook to refute, on a purely theoretical basis, the Narodnik view that “the home market in Russia ... contracts as a result of the disintegration of the peasantry and as a consequence of the impossibility of realizing surplus value without a foreign market.” He then presented with meticulous care statistical data which supported his theoretical view and makes his book an exemplary piece of scientific research.

In the preface to the book, Lenin states that he examined the principal theoretical postulates of abstract political economy in the first chapter in order to be relieved of “the necessity of having repeatedly to refer to theory in the further exposition of the subject.” Although the principal theoretical discussion is comprised in Chapter I, the Stalinists have so little respect for the theoretic interests of English-speaking Marxists that this important theoretical chapter was omitted from the work when it was finally published, in an abbreviated form, in English in the 1930s.

The present translation has been made from the second, or 1908, edition, which has been reprinted in all subsequent editions. Quotations by Lenin of English works have been reproduced from the original English. Lenin’s citations from Marx’s Capital are, in most instances, both from the German and Russian translations. The present translator has cited the pages from the Moore and Aveling translation. There are only two instances – one quotation from Proudhon and one from Rodbertus – where it has been impossible to find the quotations in the original and it thus became necessary to retranslate from the Russian. All footnotes are Lenin’s own, except those signed by the translator.

V.I. Lenin: Origin of Capitalism in Russia

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Last updated on 12 August 2015