V. I.   Lenin

What the “Friends of the People” Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats

(A Reply to Articles in Russkoye Bogatstvo Opposing the Marxists)


Part III

  This webpage (06.htm) had pages 263–281;
  currently it has pages 203–237.


Let us, in conclusion, make the acquaintance of Mr. Krivenko, another “friend of the people,” who also launches open war against the Social-Democrats.

However, we shall not examine his articles (“Our Cultural Free Lances,” in No. 12, 1893, and “Travel Letters,” in No. 1, 1894) as we did those of Messrs. Mikhailovsky and Yuzhakov. An analysis in toto of their articles was essential to get a clear idea, in the first case, of the substance of their objections to materialism and Marxism in general, and, in the second, of their political-economic theories. Now, to get a complete idea of the “friends of the people,” we shall have to acquaint ourselves with their tactics, their practical proposals and their political programme. This programme they have not anywhere set forth directly and as consistently and fully as they have set out their theoretical views. I am therefore obliged to take it from various articles in a magazine whose contributors are unanimous enough not to contradict each other. I shall give preference to the above-mentioned articles of Mr. Krivenko’s merely because they furnish more material and because their author is as typical of the magazine as a practical man and a politician, as Mr. Mikhailovsky is a socialist and Mr. Yuzhakov is an economist.

However, before passing on to their programme, there is one more theoretical point we consider it absolutely essential to deal with. We have seen how Mr. Yuzhakov disposes of matters with meaningless phrases about people’s land renting that supports people’s economy, etc., using them to cover up the fact that he does not understand the economic life of our peasants. He did not deal with the handicraft industries, but confined himself to data on the growth of large-scale factory industry. Now Mr. Krivenko repeats   exactly the same sort of phrases about handicraft industries. He flatly contrasts “our people’s industry,” i.e., handicraft industries, to capitalist industry (No. 12, pp. 180-81). “People’s production” (sic!), says he, “in the majority of cases arises naturally,” whereas capitalist industry “is very often created artificially.” In another passage he contrasts “small-scale people’s industry” to “large-scale, capitalist industry.” If you were to ask what is the distinguishing feature of the former, you would only learn that it is “small”[1] and that the instruments of labour are united with the producer (I borrow this latter definition from Mr. Mikhailovsky’s above-mentioned article). But this is certainly far from defining its economic organisation—and, moreover, is absolutely untrue. Mr. Krivenko says, for example, that “small-scale people’s industry to this day yields a much larger total output and employs more hands than large-scale capitalist industry.” The author is evidently referring to data on the number of handicraftsmen, which is as many as 4 million, or, according to another estimate, 7 million. But who does not know that the form of economy predominating in our handicraft industries is the domestic system of large-scale production? that the bulk of the handicraftsmen occupy a position in production that is not independent at all, but completely dependent, subordinate, that they do not process their own material but that of the merchant, who merely pays the handicraftsman a wage? Data on the predominance of this form have been cited even in legal literature. Let me quote, for example, the excellent work by the well-known statistician, S. Kharizomenov, published in Yuridichesky Vestnik[29] (1883, Nos. 11 and 12). Summarising the published data on our handicraft industries in the central gubernias, where they are most highly developed, S. Kharizomenov reached the conclusion that there is an absolute predominance of the domestic system of large-scale production, i.e., an unquestionably capitalist form of industry. “Defining the economic role of small-scale independent industry,” he says, “we arrive   at the following conclusions: in Moscow Gubernia 86.5% of the annual turnover of handicraft industry is accounted for by the domestic system of large-scale production, and only 13.5% by small-scale independent industry. In the Alexandrov and Pokrov uyezds of Vladimir Gubernia, 96% of the annual turnover of handicraft industry falls to the share of the domestic system of large-scale production and manufacture, and only 4% is accounted for by small-scale independent industry.”

Nobody, as far as we know, has tried to refute these facts; nor can they be refuted. How, then, can one ignore these facts, and say nothing about them, call such industry “people’s” in contradistinction to capitalist, and talk about the possibility of its developing into real industry?

There can be only one explanation of this direct ignoring of facts, namely, the general tendency of the “friends of the people,” as of all Russian liberals, to gloss over class antagonism and the exploitation of the working people in Russia by representing all this as just plain “defects.” But perhaps, an additional cause lies in so profound a knowledge of the subject as is revealed, for instance, by Mr. Krivenko when he calls the “Pavlovo cutlery trade”—“a trade of a semi-artisan character.” The lengths of distortion to which the “friends of the people” will go are simply phenomenal! How can one speak here of artisan character, when the Pavlovo cutlers produce for the market - and not to order? Or perhaps Mr. Krivenko regards as artisan industry the system under which a merchant orders articles from the handicraftsman and then sends them to Nizhni-Novgorod Fair? Funnily enough, this seems to be the case. As a matter of fact, the making of cutlery has least of all (compared with other Pavlovo industries) preserved the small-scale handicraft form, with its (seeming) independence of the producers. “The production of table and industrial cutlery,”[2] says N. F. Annensky, “is already largely approaching the factory, or, more correctly, the manufactory form.” Of the 396 handicraftsmen engaged in the making of table cutlery in Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia, only 62   (16%) work for the market, 273 (69%) work for a master,[3] and 61 (15%) are wage-workers. Hence, only one-sixth of them are not directly enslaved to an employer. As to the other branch of the cutlery industry—the production of folding-knives (penknives)—the same author says that it “occupies a position midway between the table-knife and the lock: the majority of the handicraftsmen in this branch are working for a master, but along with them there are still quite a number of independent handicraftsmen who have to do with the market.”

In Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia there are in all 2,552 handicraftsmen producing this sort of cutlery, of whom 48% (1,236) work for the market, 42% (1,058) work for a master, and 10% (258) are wage-workers. Consequently, here too the independent (?) handicraftsmen are in the minority. And those who work for the market are, of course, only apparently independent; actually they are no less enslaved to the capital of buyers-up. If we take the data for the industries of the entire Gorbatov Uyezd, Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia, where 21,983 working people, or 84.5%, of all who work,[4] are engaged in industries, we get the following (exact data on the economics of the industry are available for only 10,808 workers, in the following industries: metal, leather goods, saddlery, felt, and hemp spinning): 35.6% of the handicraftsmen work for the market, 46.7% work for a master, and 17.7% are wage-workers. Thus, here too we see the predominance of the domestic system of large-scale production, the predominance of relations under which labour is enslaved to capital.

Another reason why the “friends of the people” so freely ignore facts of this kind is that their conception of capitalism has not advanced beyond the commonplace vulgar idea that a capitalist is a wealthy and educated employer who runs a large machine enterprise—and they refuse to   consider the scientific content of the term. In the preceding chapter we saw that Mr. Yuzhakov dates the beginning of capitalism directly from machine industry, omitting simple co-operation and manufacture. This is a widespread error, which, incidentally, results in the capitalist organisation of our handicraft industries being ignored.

It goes without saying that the domestic system of large-scale production is a capitalist form of industry: here we have all its features—commodity economy already at a high level of development, the concentration of the means of production in the hands of individuals, and the expropriation of the mass of the workers, who have no means of production of their own and therefore apply their labour to those of others, working not for themselves but for the capitalist. Obviously, in its organisation, handicraft industry is pure capitalism, it differs from large-scale machine industry in being technically backward (chiefly because of the preposterously low wages) and in the fact that the workers retain diminutive farms. This latter circumstance particularly confuses the “friends of the people,” who, as befits true metaphysicians, are accustomed to think in naked and direct contrasts: “Yea, yea—nay, nay, and whatsoever is more than these comes from the evil one.”

If the workers have no land—there is capitalism; if they have land—there is no capitalism. And they confine themselves to this soothing philosophy, losing sight of the whole social organisation of economy and forgetting the generally-known fact that ownership of land does not in the least do away with the dire poverty of these landowners, who are most shamelessly robbed by other such “peasant” landowners.

They do not know, it seems, that capitalism—while still at a comparatively low level of development—was nowhere able to completely separate the worker from the land. For Western Europe, Marx established the law that only large-scale machine industry expropriates the worker once and for all. It is therefore obvious that the stock argument of there being no capitalism in our country since “the people own land” is quite meaningless, because the capitalism of simple co-operation and manufacture has never been connected anywhere with the worker’s complete separation   from the land, and yet, needless to say, it has not on that account ceased to be capitalism.

As to large-scale machine industry in Russia—and this form is rapidly being assumed by the biggest and most important branches of our industry—here too, despite all the specific features of our life, it possesses the same property as everywhere in the capitalist West, namely, it absolutely will not tolerate the retention of the worker’s tie with the land. This fact has been proved, incidentally, by Dementyev with precise statistical material, from which he has drawn (quite independently of Marx) the conclusion that machine production is inseparably connected with the worker’s complete separation from the land. This investigation has demonstrated once again that Russia is a capitalist country, that the worker’s tie with the land in Russia is so feeble and unreal, and the power of the man of property (the money owner, the buyer-up, the rich peasant, the manufactory owner, etc.) so firmly established, that one more technical advance will be enough for the “peasant” (?? who has long been living by the sale of his labour-power) to turn into a worker pure and simple.[5] The failure of the “friends of the people” to understand the economic organisation of our handicraft industries is far, however, from being confined to this. Their idea even of those industries where work is not done “for a master” is just as superficial as their idea of the cultivator (which we have already seen above). This, by the way, is quite natural in the case of gentlemen who presume to hold forth on questions of political economy when all they know, it seems, is that there is such a thing in the world as means of production, which “may” be united with the working people—and that is very good; but which “may” also be separated from them—and that is very bad. That will not take you far.

Speaking of industries that are becoming capitalist and of those that are not (where “small-scale production can   freely exist”), Mr. Krivenko says, for one thing, that in certain branches “the basic expenditure on production” is very inconsiderable and that small-scale production is therefore possible. He cites as an example the brick industry, where the expenditure, he says, may be one-fifteenth of the annual turnover of the brickyards.

As this is almost the only reference the author makes to facts (it is, I repeat, the most characteristic feature of subjective sociology that it tears a direct and precise description and analysis of reality, preferring to soar into the sphere of the “ideals” . . . of the petty bourgeois), let us take it, in order to show what a false conception the “friends of the people” have of reality.

We find a description of the brick industry (the making of bricks from white clay) in the economic statistics of the Moscow Zemstvo (Returns, Vol. VII, Book 1, Part 2, etc.). The industry is chiefly concentrated in three volosts of Bogorodskoye Uyezd, where there are 233 establishments, employing 1,402 workers (567, or 41%, being family workers,[By “family” workers, as against hired, are meant working members of the masters’ families.] and 835, or 59%, hired), with an annual aggregate output valued at 357,000 rubles. The industry is an old one, but has developed particularly during the past fifteen years owing to the building of a railway, which has greatly facilitated marketing. Before the railway was built the family form of production predominated, but it is now giving way to the exploitation of wage-labour. This industry, too, is not exempt from the dependence of the small industrialists on the bigger ones for marketing: owing to “lack of funds” the former sell the latter their bricks (sometimes “crude”—unbaked) on the spot at terribly low prices.

However, we are also able to acquaint ourselves with the organisation of the industry apart from this dependence, thanks to the house-to-house census of handicraftsmen which is appended to the essay, where the number of workers and the annual aggregate output of each establishment are indicated.

To ascertain whether the law that commodity economy is capitalist economy—i.e., is inevitably converted into the latter at a certain stage of development—applies to   this industry, we must compare the size of the establishments: the problem is precisely one of the relation between the small and the large establishments according to their role in output and their exploitation of wage-labour. Taking the number of workers as a basis, we divide the establishments of the handicraftsmen into three groups: I) establishments employing 1 to 5 workers (both family and hired); II) employing 6 to 10 workers, and III) employing over 10 workers.

Examining the size of establishments, the complement of workers and the value of the output in each group, we obtain the following data:


TRAPPED INSIDE JPEG: establishments[6]

Take a glance at these figures and you will perceive the bourgeois, or, what is the same, the capitalist organisation of the industry: the larger the establishments, the higher the productivity of labour[7] (the middle group is an   exception), the greater the exploitation of wage-labour,[8] the greater the concentration of production.[9]

The third group, which almost entirely bases its economy on wage-labour, comprises 10% of the total number of establishments but accounts for 44% of the aggregate output.

This concentration of the means of production in the hands of a minority, which is connected with the expropriation of the majority (the wage-workers), explains both the dependence of the small producers on buyers-up (the big industrialists are in fact buyers-up) and the oppression of labour in this industry. Hence we see that the cause of the expropriation of the working people and of their exploitation lies in the production relations themselves.

The Russian Narodnik socialists, as we know, held the opposite view and considered that the cause of the oppression of labour in the handicraft industries did not lie in production relations (which were proclaimed to be based on a principle which precludes exploitation), but in something else—in policy, namely, agrarian and fiscal policy and so on. The question arises, what was, and is, the basis of the persistence of this opinion, which has now acquired almost the tenacity of a prejudice? Maybe it is the prevalence of a different concept of production relations in the handicraft industries? Not at all. It persists only be cause no attempt whatever is made to give an accurate and definite description of the facts, of the real forms of economic organisation; it persists only because the production relations are not singled out and submitted to an in dependent analysis. In a word, it persists solely due to a failure to understand the only scientific method of social science, namely, the materialist method. We can now understand the train of thought of our old socialists. As far as the handicraft industries are concerned, they attribute the cause of exploitation to things lying outside production relations; as far as large-scale, factory capitalism   is concerned, they could not help seeing that there the cause of exploitation lies precisely in the production relations. The result was an irreconcilable contradiction, an incongruity; where this large-scale capitalism could have come from, since there was nothing capitalist in the production relations of the handicraft industries (which had not been studied!)—passed comprehension. The conclusion follows naturally: failing to understand the connection between handicraft and capitalist industry they contrasted the former to the latter, as “people’s” to “artificial” industry. The idea appears that capitalism contradicts our “people’s system”—an idea that is very widespread and was quite recently presented to the Russian public in a revised and improved edition by Mr. Nikolai-on. This idea persists by inertia, despite its phenomenal illogicality: factory capitalism is judged on the basis of what it actually is in reality, whereas handicraft industry is judged on the basis of what it “might be”; the former on the basis of an analysis of production relations, the latter without even an attempt to examine the production relations separately, the matter being directly transferred to the sphere of politics. We have only to turn to an analysis of these production relations to find that the “people’s system” consists of these very same capitalist production relations, although in an undeveloped, embryonic state; that—if we reject the naïve prejudice that all handicraftsmen are equal, and accurately set forth the differences among them—the difference between the “capitalist” of the factory and works and the “handicraftsman” will at times prove to be less than the difference between one “handicraftsman” and another; and that capitalism does not contradict the “people’s system” but is the direct, next and immediate continuation and development of it.

Perhaps, however, it will be argued that the example quoted is unsuitable; we may be told that the percentage of wage-workers in the given case is altogether too high?[10] But, as a matter of fact, the important thing here is not the absolute figures but the relations they disclose, relations   which are bourgeois in essence, and which do not cease to be such whether their bourgeois character is strongly or weakly marked.

If you like, I shall take another example—one deliberately chosen for its weak bourgeois character. I take (from Mr. Isayev’s book on the industries of Moscow Gubernia) the pottery industry, “a purely domestic industry,” as the professor calls it. This industry may, of course, be taken as representative of the small-scale peasant industries: its technique is the simplest, its equipment quite small and the articles it produces of universal and essential use. Well then, thanks to the house-to-house census of the potters giving the same particulars as in the previous case, we are in a position to study the economic organisation of this industry too, one that is undoubtedly quite typical of the numerous Russian small, “people’s” industries. We divide the handicraftsmen into groups: I) those employing 1 to 3 workers (family and hired); II) those employing 4 to 5 workers, and III) those employing over 5 workers—and make the same calculation:


Obviously, the relations in this industry too—and similar examples could be quoted indefinitely—are bourgeois: we find the same break-up arising out of commodity economy and it is a specifically capitalist break-up, leading to the exploitation of wage-labour, which already plays a primary part in the top group, where one-eighth of all the establishments and 30% of the total workers produce nearly one-third of the total output, and the productivity of labour is considerably above the average. These production relations alone are enough to explain the appearance and power of the buyers-up. We see how a minority, owning larger and more profitable establishments, and receiving a “net” income from the labour of others (in the top group of potters there is an average of 5.5 wage-workers per establishment), accumulate “savings,” while the majority are ruined, and even the petty masters (not to mention the wage-workers) are unable to make ends meet. It is obvious and inevitable that the latter should be enslaved to the former—inevitable precisely because of the capitalist character of the given production relations. These relations are: the product of social labour, organised by commodity economy, passes into the hands of individuals and in their hands serves as an instrument for oppressing and enslaving the working people, as a means of personal enrichment by the exploitation of the masses. And do not think that this exploitation, this oppression, is any less marked because relations of this kind are still poorly developed, because the accumulation of capital, concomitant with the ruination of the producers, is negligible. Quite the contrary. This only leads to cruder, serf forms of exploitation, to a situation where capital, not yet able to subjugate the worker directly, by the mere purchase of his labour-power at its value, enmeshes him in a veritable net of usurious extortion, binds him to itself by kulak methods, and as a result robs him not only of the surplus-value, but of an enormous part of his wages, too, and, what is more, grinds him down by preventing him from changing his “master,” and humiliates him by compelling him to regard as a boon the fact that capital “gives” (sic!) him work. It is obvious that not a single worker would ever consent to exchange his status for that of a Russian “independent” handicraftsman in “real,” “people’s”   industry. It is equally obvious that all the favourite measures of the Russian radicals either will not in the least affect the exploitation of the working people and their enslavement to capital, and will remain isolated experiments (artels), or will worsen the conditions of the working people (inalienability of allotments), or, lastly, will only refine, develop and consolidate the given capitalist relations (improvement of technique, loans, etc.).

The “friends of the people,” however, will never be able to grasp the fact that despite its general wretchedness, its comparatively tiny establishments and extremely low productivity of labour, its primitive technique and small number of wage-workers, peasant industry is capitalism. They simply cannot grasp the point that capital is a certain relation between people, a relation which remains the same whether the categories under comparison are at a higher or a lower level of development. Bourgeois economists have never been able to understand this; they have always objected to such a definition of capital. I recall how one of them, writing in Russkaya Mysl about Sieber’s book (on Marx’s theory), quoted this definition (capital is a relation), and indignantly put exclamation marks after it.

To regard the categories of the bourgeois regime as eternal and natural is most typical of bourgeois philosophers. That is why, for capital, too, they adopt such definitions as, for example, accumulated labour that serves for further production—that is, describe it as an eternal category of human society, thereby obscuring that specific, historically definite economic formation in which this “accumulated labour,” organised by commodity economy, falls into the hands of those who do not work and serves for the exploitation of the labour of others. That is why, instead of an analysis and study of a definite system of production relations, they give us a series of banalities applicable to any system, mixed with the sentimental pap of petty-bourgeois morality.

And now look at this—why do the “friends of the people” call this industry “people’s,” and why do they contrast it to capitalist industry? It is only because these gentlemen are petty-bourgeois ideologists and cannot even conceive   that these small producers live and operate under a system of commodity economy (that is why I call them petty bourgeois) and that their relations to the market necessarily and inevitably split them into a bourgeoisie and a proletariat. Why don’t you try studying the real organisation. Or our “people’s” industries instead of phrase-mongering about what they “might” lead to, then we will see whether you can find in Russia any branch of handicraft industry, at all developed, which is not organised on capitalist lines.

And if you do not agree that the monopolising of the means of production by a minority, their alienation from the majority, and the exploitation of wage-labour (speaking more generally, the essence of capitalism is the appropriation by individuals of the product of social labour organised by commodity economy) are necessary and adequate features for this concept, then be good enough to give your “own” definition and your “own” history of capitalism.

Actually, the organisation of our “people’s” handicraft industries furnishes an excellent illustration to the general history of the development of capitalism. It clearly demonstrates the latter’s origin, its inception, for example, in the form of simple co-operation (the top group in the pottery industry); it further shows how the “savings” that—thanks to commodity economy—accumulate in the hands of separate individuals become capital, which first monopolises marketing (“buyers-up” and traders), owing to the fact that only the owners of these."savings” possess the necessary funds for wholesale disposal, which enable them to wait until the goods are sold in distant markets; how, further, this merchant capital enslaves the mass of producers and organises capitalist manufacture, the capitalist domestic system of large-scale production; and how, finally, the expansion of the market and increasing competition lead to improved techniques, and how this merchant capital becomes industrial capital and organises large-scale machine production And when this capital, having grown strong and enslaved millions of working people and whole districts, begins openly and brazenly to exert pressure on the government and turns it into its lackey—our ingenious “friends of the   people” raise a howl about “the implanting of capitalism,” about its “artificial creation”!

A timely discovery, indeed!

So that when Mr. Krivenko talks about people’s, real, proper, etc., industry, he is simply trying to conceal the fact that our handicraft industries are nothing but capitalism at various stages of development. We have already become sufficiently acquainted with these methods in the case of Mr. Yuzhakov, who, instead of studying the peasant Reform, used empty phrases about the fundamental aim of the momentous Manifesto,[30] etc.; who, instead of studying land renting, dubbed it people’s renting; and who, instead of studying how a home market is being formed for capitalism, philosophised about the latter’s inevitable collapse from lack of markets, and so on.

To show how far Messrs. the “friends of the people” distort the facts, I shall dwell on one more example.[11] Our subjective philosophers so rarely condescend to give us precise references to facts that it would be unfair to ignore one of these most precise references of theirs, namely, the one Mr. Krivenko makes (No. 1, 1894) to the budgets of the Voronezh peasants. Here, on the basis of data selected by themselves, we may make quite sure which idea of reality is more correct—that of the Russian radicals and “friends of the people,” or that of the Russian Social-Democrats.

Mr. Shcherbina, a Voronezh Zemstvo statistician, appends to his description of peasant farming in Ostrogozhsk Uyezd 24 budgets of typical peasant households, and analyses them in the text.[12]

Mr. Krivenko reproduces this analysis, failing, or rather refusing, to see that its methods are entirely unsuited to the purpose of getting an idea of the economy of our peasant farmers. The fact is that these 24 budgets depict entirely different households—prosperous, middle and poor—as Mr. Krivenko himself points out (p. 159); but, like Mr. Shcherbina, he simply employs average figures, lumping together the most different types of households, and thus completely disguises the fact of their differentiation. Yet the differentiation of our small producers is such a general, such a major fact (to which the Social-Democrats have long been drawing the attention of Russian socialists. See the works of Plekhanov.) that it is brought out quite distinctly even by the scanty data selected by Mr. Krivenko. Instead, when dealing with the farming of the peasants, of dividing them into categories according to the size of their farms and type of farming, he, like Mr. Shcherbina, divides them into legal categories—former state and former landlords’ peasants—directing all his attention to the greater prosperity of the former as compared with the latter, and loses sight of the fact that the differences among the peasants within these categories are far greater than the differences between the categories.[13] To prove this, I divide these 24 budgets into three groups. I pick out a) 6 prosperous peasants, then b) 11 peasants of average prosperity (Nos. 7 to 10 and 16 to 22 in Shcherbina’s table) and c) 7 poor peasants (Nos. 11 to 15, 23 and 24 in Shcherbina’s table of budgets). Mr. Krivenko says, for example, that the expenditure per farm of the former state peasants is 541.3 rubles, and of the former landlords’ peasants 417.7 rubles. But he overlooks the fact that the expenditures of different peasants are far from being equal: among the former state peasants, for instance, there is one with an expenditure of 84.7 rubles and another with an expenditure ten times as large—887.4 rubles (even if we leave out the   German colonist with an expenditure of 1,456.2 rubles). What meaning can an average have if it is derived by lumping such magnitudes together? If we take the division into categories that I give, we find that the average expenditure per farm of a prosperous peasant is 855.86 rubles, of a middle peasant 471.61 rubles, and of a poor peasant 223.78 rubles.[14]

The ratio is, roughly, 4 : 2 : 1.

Let us proceed. Following in Shcherbina’s footsteps, Mr. Krivenko gives the expenditure on personal requirements among the various legal categories of peasants: among the former state peasants, for example, the annual expenditure per person on vegetable food is 13.4 rubles, and among the former landlords’ peasants 12.2 rubles. But if we take them according to economic categories, the figures are: a) 17.7; b) 14.5 and c) 13.1 The expenditure on meat and dairy produce per person among the former landlords’ peasants is 5.2 rubles and among the former state peasants 7.7 rubles. Taken by economic categories the figures are 11.7, 5.8 and 3.6 respectively. It is obvious that calculation according to legal categories merely conceals these huge divergences and nothing more. It is, therefore, obviously worthless. The income of the former state peasants is greater than the income of the former landlords’ peasants by 53.7 per cent—says Mr. Krivenko: the general average (for the 24 budgets) is 539 rubles; and for the two categories, over 600 rubles and about 400 rubles, respectively. But if graded according to economic strength, the incomes are a) 1,053.2 rubles, b) 473.8 rubles and c) 202.4 rubles, or a fluctuation of 10 : 2, and not 3 : 2.

The capital value of a peasant farm among the former state peasants is 1,060 rubles, and among the former land lords’ peasants 635 rubles,” says Mr. Krivenko. But if we take the economic categories,[15] the figures are a) 1,737.91 rubles, b) 786.42 rubles and c) 363.38 rubles—again a fluctuation of 10 : 2, and not 3 : 2. By dividing the “peasantry” into legal categories the author prevented himself from   forming a correct judgement of the economics of this “peasantry.”

If we examine the farms of the various types of peasants according to economic strength, we find that the prosperous families have an average income of 1,053.2 rubles, and expenditure of 855.86 rubles, or a net income of 197.34 rubles. The middle family has an income of 473.8 rubles and an expenditure of 471.61 rubles, or a net income of 2.19 rubles per farm (and that without counting credit debts and arrears)—obviously, it can barely make ends meet: out of 11 farms, 5 have a deficit. The bottom, poor, group run their farms at a direct loss: with an income of 202.4 rubles their expenditure is 223.78 rubles, which means a deficit of 21.38 rubles.[16] It is evident that if we lump farms together and strike a general average (net income—44.11 rubles) we completely distort the real picture. We then overlook the fact (as Mr. Krivenko has done) that all the six prosperous peasants who secure a net income employ farm labourers (8 of them)—a fact which reveals the character of their farming (they are in process of becoming capitalist farmers), which yields them a net income and relieves them almost entirely of the need to resort to “industries.” These farmers all together cover only 6.5% of their budgets by industries (412 rubles out of a total of 6,319.5); moreover, these industries—as Mr. Shcherbina in one place remarks—are of such a type as “carting,” or even “dealing in sheep,” that is, such as, far from indicating dependence, presuppose the exploitation of others (precisely in the second case: accumulated “savings” are converted into merchant capital ). These peasants own 4 industrial establishments, which yield an income of 320 rubles (5% of the total).[17]

The economy of the middle peasants is of a different type: they, as we have seen, can barely make ends meet.   Farming does not cover their needs, and 19% of their income is from so-called industries. What sort of industries these are we learn from Mr. Shcherbina’s article. They are given for 7 peasants: only two engage in independent industries (tailoring and charcoal-burning); the remaining 5 sell their labour-power (“went mowing in the lowlands,”[18] “works at a distillery,” “does day-labouring at harvest-time,” “herds sheep,” “worked on the local estate”). These are already half peasants, half workers. Side occupations divert them from their farming and thus undermine it completely.

As to the poor peasants, they farm at a dead loss; the significance of “industries” in their budgets is still greater (providing 24% of the income), and these industries amount almost entirely (except in the case of one peasant) to the sale of labour-power. In the case of two of them, “industries” (farm-labouring) predominate, providing two-thirds of their income.

It is quite clear that what we have here is a process of the complete differentiation of the small producers, the upper groups of whom are being turned into a bourgeoisie, the lower into a proletariat. Naturally, if we take general averages we shall see nothing of this and get no idea of the economics of the countryside.

It was only his operations with these fictitious averages that enabled the author to adopt the following method. To determine the place of these typical farms in the peasant farming of the uyezd as a whole, Mr. Shcherbina groups the peasants according to the size of their allotments, and it transpires that the level of prosperity (general average) of the 24 farms selected is higher by about one-third than the average in the uyezd. This calculation cannot be regarded as satisfactory, both because there is great divergence among these 24 peasants and because the classification according to size of allotment conceals the differentiation of the peasantry: the author’s thesis that the “allotments are the prime cause of the prosperity” of the peasant is absolutely wrong. Everybody knows that the “equal” distribution of land within the village community does not in any way prevent its horseless members from giving   up the land, letting it, going away to work and turning into proletarians; or the members with many horses from renting large tracts of land and running big and profitable farms. If, for example, we take our 24 budgets, we shall see that one rich peasant, with 6 dessiatines of allotment land, has a total income of 758.5 rubles; a middle peasant, with 7.1 dessiatines of allotment land, 391.5 rubles; and a poor peasant, with 6.9 dessiatines of allotment land, 109.5 rubles. In general, we have seen that the ratio of the incomes of the various groups is 4 : 2 : 1; while the ratio of allotment land is 22.1 : 53.2 : 8.5, which equals 2.6 : 1.08 : 1. This is quite natural, for we find, for example, that the rich peasants, with 22.1 dessiatines of allotment land per household, rent an additional 8.8 dessiatines each, whereas the middle peasants, who have smaller allotments (9.2 dessiatines), rent less—7.7 dessiatines, and the poor peasants, with still smaller allotments (8.5 dessiatines), rent only 2.8 dessiatines.[19] And so, when Mr. Krivenko says: “Unfortunately, the data given by Mr. Shcherbina cannot serve as an accurate measure of the general state of affairs even in the uyezd, let alone the gubernia”—all that we can say is that they cannot serve as a measure only when you resort to the wrong method of calculating general averages (a method which Mr. Krivenko should not have resorted to), but that, generally speaking, Mr. Shcherbina’s data are so comprehensive and valuable that they enable us to arrive at correct conclusions and that if Mr. Krivenko has not done so, it is not Mr. Shcherbina who is to blame.

The latter, for example, gives on page 197 a classification of the peasants according to draught animals and not according to allotment land, that is, a classification on economic, not legal lines—and this gives us every ground for asserting that the ratios between the various categories of the selected 24 typical households are absolutely identical with the ratios between the various economic groups throughout the uyezd.

The classification is as follows:[20]

Ostrogozhsk Uyezd, Voronezh Gubernia

TRAPPED INSIDE JPEG: house-holds[21]


There can be no doubt that the general averages of the 24 typical farms are superior to the general run of peasant farm in the uyezd. But if, instead of these fictitious averages, we take economic categories, a comparison becomes possible.

We find that the farm labourers on typical farms are somewhat below the peasants who have no draught animals, but approach them very closely. The poor peasants approximate very closely to the owners of one draught animal (the number of cattle is less by 0.2—the poor peasants have 2.8 and the one-horse peasants 3.0—but on the other hand, their total land, both allotment and rented, is somewhat more—12.6 dessiatines as against 10.7 dessiatines). The middle peasants are only slightly above those with two or three draught animals (they have slightly more cattle and a little less land), while the prosperous peasants approximate to those who have four or more draught animals, being a little below them. We are therefore entitled to draw the conclusion that in the uyezd as a whole not less than one-tenth of the peasants engage in regular, profitable farming and have no need for outside work. (Their income—it is important to note—is expressed in money, and therefore presupposes agriculture of a commercial character.) To a large extent they conduct   their farming with the help of hired labourers: not less than one-fourth of all the households employ regular farm labourers, and the number employing temporary day labourers is not known. Further, more than half the peasants in the uyezd are poor (nearly six-tenths: horseless and one-horse peasants, 26% + 31.3% = 57.3%), who conduct their farming at a dead loss and are consequently sinking into ruin, steadily and inexorably being expropriated. They are obliged to sell their labour-power and about one-fourth of the peasants already gain their livelihood more by wage-labour than by agriculture. The remaining are middle peasants, who carry on somehow, farming at a regular loss made up by outside earnings, and who, consequently, have no economic stability whatever.

I have deliberately dwelt on these data in such detail in order to show how distorted is Mr. Krivenko’s picture of the real situation. Without stopping to think, he takes general averages and operates with them. Naturally, the result is not even a fiction but a downright falsehood. We have seen, for example, that the net income (+197.34 rubles) of one prosperous peasant (from among the typical budgets) covers the deficits of nine poor households (-21.38 X 9 = -192.42), so that 10% of rich peasants in the uyezd will not only cover the deficits of 57% of poor peasants but even yield a certain surplus. And Mr. Krivenko, deriving from the average budget of the 24 farms a surplus of 44.14 rubles—or, deducting credit debts and arrears, 15.97 rubles—simply speaks of the “decline” of the middle and lower-than-middle peasants. Actually, however, one can talk of decline only in reference, perhaps, to the middle peasants,[23] whereas in the case of the mass of poor peasants we observe direct expropriation, accompanied, moreover, by the concentration of the means of production in the hands of a minority who own comparatively large and firmly-established farms.

Because he ignored this latter circumstance, the author failed to observe another very interesting feature of these budgets, namely, that they likewise prove that the differentiation   of the peasantry is creating a home market. On the one hand, as we pass from the top group to the bottom, we observe the growing importance of income from industries (6.5%, 18.8% and 23.6% of the total budget of the prosperous, middle and poor peasants, respectively), that is, chiefly from the sale of labour-power. On the other hand, as we pass from the bottom to the top groups, we observe the growing commodity (nay, more: bourgeois, as we have seen) character of agriculture and an increase in the proportion of produce disposed of: the total income from agriculture of the categories is:

a) 3,861.7 b) 3,163.8c) 689.9
——— ——— ———
1,774.4 899.9 175.2

The denominator indicates the money part of the income,[24] which constitutes 45.9%, 28.3% and 25.4% respectively, passing from the top category to the bottom.

Here we again see clearly how the means of production taken from the expropriated peasants turn into capital.

It is quite obvious that Mr. Krivenko could not draw correct conclusions from the material used—or, rather, misused—in this way. After describing the money character of peasant farming in Novgorod Gubernia on the basis of what he was told by a peasant from those parts with whom he travelled by rail, he was forced to draw the correct conclusion that it is precisely this circumstance, commodity economy, that “cultivates” “special abilities” and gives rise to one preoccupation: “to get it (the hay) mown as cheaply as possible” and “sell it as dear as possible” (p. 156).[25] This   serves as a “school” which “awakens” (quite true!) “and refines commercial gifts.” “Talented people come to the fore to become the Kolupayevs, the Derunovs[31] and other types of blood-suckers,[26] while the simple-hearted and simple-minded fall behind, deteriorate, become impoverished and pass into the ranks of the farm labourers” (p. 156).

The data for a gubernia in which entirely different conditions prevail—an agricultural one (Voronezh)—lead to exactly the same conclusions. One would have thought the situation was quite clear: the system of commodity economy stands out distinctly as the main background of the economic life of the country in general and of the “community” “peasantry” in particular; the fact also stands out that this commodity economy, and it alone, is splitting the “people” and the “peasantry” into a proletariat (they become ruined, enter the ranks of the farm labourers) and a bourgeoisie (blood-suckers), i.e., it is turning into capitalist economy. But the “friends of the people” never dare look realities in the face and call a spade a spade (that would be too “harsh”)! And Mr. Krivenko argues as follows:

Some people consider this state of affairs quite natural” (he should have added: a quite natural consequence of the capitalist character of production relations. Then it would have been an accurate description of the views of “some people,” and then it would have been impossible for him to dispose of these views with empty phrases and he would have had to make a real analysis of the matter. When the author did not deliberately set out to combat these “some people,” he himself had to admit that money economy is precisely the “school” that produces “talented” blood-suckers and “simple-hearted” farm labourers) “and regard it as the irresistible mission of capitalism.” (Well, of course! To believe that the struggle has to be waged against this “school” and the “blood-suckers” who dominate it, together with their administrative and intellectual lackeys, is to consider that capitalism cannot be overcome! But to leave the capitalist   “school” with its blood-suckers in complete immunity and to want to eliminate its capitalist products by means of liberal half-measures is to be a true “friend of the people”!) “We look at the matter somewhat differently. Capitalism undoubtedly does play an important part here, as we pointed out above” (this refers to the remark about the school of blood-suckers and farm labourers), “but it cannot be said that its role is so all-embracing and decisive that no other factors are responsible for the changes taking place in the national economy, and that the future holds out no other solution” (p. 160).

There you are! Instead of giving an exact and straightforward description of the present system, instead of giving a definite answer to the question of why the “peasantry” is splitting into blood-suckers and farm labourers, Mr. Krivenko disposes of the matter with meaningless phrases. “It cannot be said that the role of capitalism is decisive.” Why, that is the whole question: can it be said, or can it not?

To uphold your opinion you should have indicated what other factors are “decisive,” what other “solution” there can be besides the one indicated by the Social-Democrats, namely, the class struggle of the proletariat against the blood-suckers.[27] But nothing is indicated. Unless, perhaps, the author regards the following as an indication? Amusing as it may be, you can expect anything from the “friends of the people.”

The first to fall into decline, as we have seen, are the weak farms poor in land”—namely, with allotments of less than five dessiatines. “But the typical farms of the state peasants, with allotments of 15.7 dessiatines, are distinguished for their stability. . . . True, to secure such an income (a net income of 80 rubles) they rent an additional five dessiatines but that only shows what they need.”

What does this “amendment,” which links up the notorious “land poverty” with capitalism, amount to? Only to   this, that those who have little lose that little, while those who have much (15.7 dessiatines each) acquire still more.[28] But, then, this is a meaningless paraphrase of the statement that some sink into ruin while others grow rich!! It is high time to abandon this meaningless talk about land poverty, which explains nothing (because the peasants are not given allotments free but have to buy them); it only describes a process, and moreover describes it inaccurately, because one should not speak about the land alone, but about the means of production in general, and not say that the peasants have a “poor” supply of them, but that they are being freed from them, are being expropriated by growing capitalism. “We have no intention of saying,” Mr. Krivenko remarks, concluding his philosophical discourse, “that agriculture should and can, under all circumstances, remain ’natural’ and separated from manufacturing industry” (another phrase! Was it not you who were just obliged to admit that a school of money economy already exists, which presupposes exchange and, consequently, the separation of agriculture from manufacturing industry? Why again this sloppy talk of what can be and what should be?); “all we say is that to create a separate industry artificially is irrational” (it would be interesting to know: is the industry of the Kimry and Pavlovo handicraftsmen “separate,” and who “artificially created” it, and how and when?), “and that the separation of the labourer from the land and the instruments of production is being effected not by capitalism alone, but also by other factors that precede and promote it.”

Here most likely he again had in mind the profound idea that if the labourer is separated from the land, which passes into the hands of the blood-sucker, this happens because the former is “poor” and the latter is “rich” in land.

And this kind of philosophy charges the Social-Democrats with “narrowness” for regarding capitalism as the decisive factor! . . . I have dwelt once more in such detail on the differentiation of the peasants and handicraftsmen just because it was necessary to bring out clearly how the Social-Democrats picture the matter and how they explain   it. It was necessary to show that the facts which to the subjective sociologist mean that the peasants have “grown poor,” while the “money chasers” and “blood-suckers” “derive profits for their own advantage,” to the materialist mean the bourgeois differentiation of the commodity producers necessitated by commodity production itself. It was necessary to show what facts serve as the basis for the thesis (quoted above in Part 1) [See p. 191 of this volume. –Ed.] that the struggle between the propertied and the propertyless is going on everywhere in Russia, not only in the mills and factories, but even in the most remote villages, and that everywhere this struggle is one between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat that emerge as a result of commodity economy. The break-up, the depeasantisation of our peasants and handicraftsmen, which can be depicted accurately thanks to the admirable material provided by Zemstvo statistics, furnishes factual proof of the correctness of precisely the Social-Democratic conception of Russian reality, the conception that the peasant and the handicraftsman are petty producers in the “categorical” meaning of the term, that is, are petty bourgeois. This thesis may be called the central point of the theory of WORKING-CLASS SOCIALISM as against the old peasant socialism, which understood neither the conditions of commodity economy in which the petty producers live, nor their capitalist differentiation due to these conditions. And, therefore, whoever wanted to criticise Social-Democracy seriously should have concentrated his argument on this, and shown that from the angle of political economy Russia is not a system of commodity economy, that it is not this which causes the break-up of the peasantry, and that the expropriation of the mass of the population and the exploitation of the working people can be explained by something other than the bourgeois, capitalist organisation of our social (including peasant) economy.

Well, just try it, gentlemen!

There is another reason why it was the data on peasant and handicraft economy that I preferred to take in illustration of the Social-Democratic theory. It would be a departure from the materialist method were I, when criticising the   views of the “friends of the people,” to confine myself to contrasting their ideas with the Marxist ideas. One must in addition explain the “Narodnik” ideas, demonstrate their MATERIAL basis in our present social-economic realities. Illustrations and examples of the economy of our peasants and handicraftsmen show what this “peasant” is whose ideologists the “friends of the people” want to be. They demonstrate the bourgeois character of our rural economy and thus confirm the correctness of classifying the “friends of the people” as ideologists of the petty bourgeoisie. But this is not all; they show that there is the closest connection between the ideas and programmes of our radicals and the interests of the petty bourgeoisie. It is this connection, which will become even clearer after a detailed examination of their programme, that explains why these radical ideas are so widespread in our “society”; it also admirably explains the political servility of the “friends of the people” and their readiness for compromise.

There was, lastly, one other reason for dwelling in such detail on the economics of precisely those sides of our social life where capitalism is least developed and from which the Narodniks have usually drawn the material for their theories. A study and description of these economics was the simplest way to reply in substance to one of the most wide spread objections to Social-Democracy current among people here. Proceeding from the usual idea that capitalism contradicts the “people’s system,” and observing that the Social-Democrats regard large-scale capitalism as progressive, that it is large-scale capitalism that they want to have as their basis in combating the present robber regime—our radicals, without more ado, accuse the Social-Democrats of ignoring the interests of the mass of the peasant population, of desiring “to put every muzhik through the factory melting pot,” etc.

All these arguments are based on the amazingly illogical and strange procedure of judging capitalism by what it really is, but the countryside by what it “might be.” Naturally, there could be no better reply to this than to show them the real countryside and its real economics.

Anybody who studies these economics dispassionately and scientifically will be bound to admit that rural Russia   constitutes a system of small, scattered markets (or small branches of a central market), which regulate the social and economic life of separate small districts. And in each of these districts we find all the phenomena that are, in general, peculiar to the social-economic organisation whose regulator is the market: we find the division of the once equal, patriarchal direct producers into rich and poor; we find the rise of capital, especially of merchant capital, which spins its web around the working people and sucks the life blood out of them. When you compare the descriptions of peasant economy given by our radicals with precise first hand data on rural economic life, you are astonished that there is no place in the criticised system of views for that mass of small hucksters who swarm in each of these markets, all these higglers and chafferers or whatever else the peasants call them in different localities, for all that mass of petty exploiters who dominate the markets and ruthlessly oppress the working people. They are usually simply brushed aside with the remark—“These are no longer peasants, but hucksters.” Yes, you are quite right: these are “no longer peasants.” But try to treat all these “traders” as a distinct group, that is, speaking in the precise language of political economy, those who engage in commercial enterprise and who appropriate, to whatever extent, the labour of others; try to express in precise figures the economic strength of this group and the part it plays in the entire economic life of the district; and then try to treat as an opposite group all those who also are “no longer peasants” because they bring their labour-power to the market, because they work for others and not for themselves—try to fulfil these elementary requisites of a dispassionate and serious inquiry and you will get such a vivid picture of bourgeois differentiation that not a trace of the “people’s system” myth will remain. This mass of small rural exploiters represents a terrible force, especially terrible because they oppress the isolated, single toiler, because they fetter him to themselves and deprive him of all hope of deliverance; terrible because this exploitation, in view of the barbarism of the countryside due to the low labour productivity characteristic of the system described and to the absence of communications, constitutes not only robbery of labour, but also the Asiatic abuse of human dignity that   is constantly encountered in the countryside. Now, if you compare this real countryside with our capitalism you will understand why the Social-Democrats regard the work of our capitalism as progressive when it draws these small, scattered markets together into one nation-wide market, when, in place of the legion of small well-meaning blood suckers, it creates a handful of big “pillars of the fatherland,” when it socialises labour and raises its productivity, when it shatters the subordination of the working people to the local blood-suckers and subordinates them to large-scale capital. This subordination is progressive compared with the former— despite all the horrors of the oppression of labour, of gradual extinction, brutalisation, and the crippling of the bodies of women and children, etc.—because it AWAKENS THE MIND OF THE WORKER, converts dumb and incoherent discontent into conscious protest, converts scattered, petty, senseless revolt into an organised class struggle for the emancipation of all working folk, a struggle which derives its strength from the very conditions of existence of this large-scale capitalism, and therefore can undoubtedly count upon CERTAIN SUCCESS.

In reply to the accusation of ignoring the mass of the peasantry, Social-Democrats would be quite justified in quoting the words of Karl Marx:

Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers which adorned the chain, not that man should wear his fetters denuded of fanciful embellishment, but that he should throw of the chain and reach for the living flower.”[32]

The Russian Social-Democrats are plucking from our countryside the imaginary flowers that adorn it, are combating idealisations and fantasies, and are performing the destructive work for which they are so mortally detested by the “friends of the people,” not in order that the mass of the peasantry shall remain in their present state of oppression, gradual extinction and enslavement, but in order that the proletariat may understand what sort of chains every where fetter the working people, that they may understand how these chains are forged, and be able to rise against them, to throw them off and reach out for the real flower.

When they bring this idea to those representatives of the working people who by virtue of their position are alone capable of acquiring class-consciousness and of launching a class struggle, they are accused of wanting to put the muzhik through the factory melting pot.

And who are the accusers?

People who themselves base their hopes for the emancipation of the working people on the “government” and on “society,” that is, on the organs of that very bourgeoisie which has everywhere fettered the working people!

And these spineless creatures have the presumption to talk of the Social-Democrats having no ideals!


[1] The only other thing you would learn is this: “From it may develop a real (sic!) people’s industry,” says Mr. Krivenko. A common trick of the “friends of the people” to utter idle and senseless phrases instead of giving a precise and direct description of reality. —Lenin

[2] The largest of the Pavlovo trades, which produces 900,000 rubles’ worth of goods out of a total output of 2,750,000 rubles. —Lenin

[3] I.e.; for the merchant who supplies the handicraftsmen with materials and pays them ordinary wages for their labour. —Lenin

[4] Exceptionalist Russian economists, who measure Russian capitalism by the number of factory workers (sic!), unceremoniously classify these working people, and the multitudes like them, as part of the agricultural population, who do not suffer from the yoke of capital, but from pressure artificially exerted on the “people’s system” (???!!) —Lenin

[5] The domestic system of large-scale production is not only a capitalist system, but the worst kind of capitalist system, one under which the most intense exploitation of the working people is combined with the minimum opportunity for the workers to wage a struggle for their emancipation. —Lenin

[6] The denominators indicate the number of establishments employing wage-workers and the number of wage-workers. Same in the next table. —Lenin

[7] The annual output per worker in Group I is 251 rubles; in II—249, in III—260. —Lenin

[8] The proportion of establishments employing wage-labour is 25% in Group I, 90% in II and 100% in III; the proportion of wage-workers is 19%, 58% and 91% respectively. —Lenin

[9] Group I, comprising 72% of the total establishments, accounts for 34% of the total output; II: 18% of the establishments, 22% of the output; III: 10% of the establishments, 44% of the output. —Lenin

[10] This is scarcely true of the industries of Moscow Gubernia, but it may be true, perhaps, with regard to the less developed industries of the rest of Russia. —Lenin

[11] Although this example concerns the break-up of the peasantry, about which much has already been said, I consider it necessary to analyse their own data in order to show clearly what an insolent lie it is to assert that the Social-Democrats are interested not in reality but in “prophesying the future,” and what charlatan methods the “friends of the people” use when in their controversies with us they ignore the substance of our views and dispose of them with nonsensical phrases. —Lenin

[12] Statistical Returns for Voronezh Gubernia, Vol. II, Part II. Peasant Farming in Ostrogozhsk Uyezd, Voronezh, 1887. The budgets are given in the appendices, pp. 42-49, and the analysis in Chapter XVIII: “Composition and Budgets of Peasant Households.” —Lenin

[13] Undoubtedly, the farm of a peasant who lives exclusively by agricultural pursuits and employs a labourer differs in type from the farm of a peasant who lives as a farm labourer and gets three-fifths of his earnings by farm-labouring. And among these 24 peasants there are both types. Judge for yourselves what kind of “science” will result if we lump together farm labourers and farmers who employ labourers, and make use of a general average! —Lenin

[14] The fluctuation in the size of the average family is much less: a) 7.83, b) 8.36, and c) 5.28 persons per family. —Lenin

[15] The divergence is greater still in the value of implements owned. The average is 54-83 rubles per household. But among the well-to do peasants it is twice as much—111.80 rubles, and among the poor peasants one-third the amount—16.04 rubles. Among the middle peasants it is 48.44 rubles. —Lenin

[16] It is interesting to note that the budgets of the farm labourers two out of the seven poor peasants show no deficit: income 99 rubles and expenditure 93.45 rubles per family. One of the farm labourers is fed, clothed and shod by his master. —Lenin

[17] See Appendix I (p. 301 of this volume.—Ed.). —Lenin

[18] Peasants from Voronezh Gubernia hired themselves out to rich Cossacks in the Don lowlands for the haymaking.—Ed. Eng. ed.

[19] Of course, I do not mean to say that the data for the 24 farms are alone enough to refute the thesis that the allotments are of prime importance. But above we cited data for several uyezds which totally refute it.[33]Lenin

[20] The comparison of the 24 typical households with the categories of farms for the whole uyezd has been made by the same methods as Mr. Shcherbina used in comparing the average of the 24 farms with groups based on size of allotment. —Lenin

[21] Two farm labourers (Nos. 14 and 15 of Shcherbina’s budgets) have here been eliminated from the group of poor peasants so that only 5 poor peasants remain. —Lenin

[22] It must be noted in connection with this table that here too we find that the amount of rented land increases in proportion to growing prosperity despite the increase in allotment land. Thus the facts for one more uyezd confirm the fallacy of the idea that the allotments are of prime importance. On the contrary, we find that the proportion of allotment land to the total holding of a given   group diminishes as the prosperity of the group increases. Adding allotment land to rented land, and calculating the percentage of allotment land to the total, we obtain the following figures by groups: I) 96.8%; II) 85.0%; III) 79.3%; IV) 63.3%. And this is quite natural. We know that with the emancipation Reform, land in Russia became a commodity. Whoever has money can always buy land; and allotment land too must be bought. It is obvious that the prosperous peasants concentrate land in their hands, and that this concentration is more marked in the case of rented land because of the medieval restrictions on the transfer of allotments. The “friends of the people,” who favour these restrictions, do not realise that the senseless reactionary measure only worsens the condition of the poor peasants: the ruined peasants, possessing no agricultural implements, are obliged, in any case, to lease their land, and any prohibition on such leasing (or sale) will lead either to land being leased secretly, and, consequently, on worse terms for those who lease it, or to the poor peasants surrendering their land for nothing to the “village community,” i.e., again to the kulak.

I cannot refrain from quoting a profoundly true comment made by Hourwich on this vaunted “inalienability”:

To see our way clearly through the question at issue, we have to discover who are the buyers of the land sold by peasants. We have seen that only a minor portion of the quarterly lots have been purchased by merchants. As a rule, the small lots sold by the nobility are acquired by peasants only. The question at issue is thus one that has been settled as between peasants alone, and that affects neither the interests of the nobility nor those of the capitalistic class. In such cases it may well please the Russian government to throw a sop to the peasantists [Narodniks]. This mésalliance of oriental paternalism with some queer sort of state socialistic prohibitionism, however, would be apt to meet with opposition from the very ones who were supposed to be benefited. As the process of dissolution is obviously spreading from within, and not from without the village, inalienability of peasant land would simply mean gratuitous expropriation of the poor for the benefit of the wealthy members of the community.

We notice that the percentage of emigrants among the quarterly possessors[34] who have enjoyed the right of alienating their land has been far greater than that among the former state peasants who live in agrarian communism: namely, in the Ranenburg district (Ryazan Gubernia) the percentage of emigrants among the former is   17, among the latter it 19 9. In the Dankov district among the former it is 12 and among the latter it is 5.

To what is this difference due? A single concrete example will clear up the matter.

In 1881 a small community of 5 households, former serfs of Grigorov, emigrated from the village of Bigildino, district of Dankov. Their land, 30 dessiatines, was sold to a rich peasant in consideration of 1,500 rubles. The emigrants could not make a living at home, and most of them were yearly labourers. (Statistical Report, Part II, pp. 115, 247.) According to Mr. Grigoryev (Emigration of the Peasants of Ryazan Gubernia ), 300 rubles, the price of an average peasant holding of 6 dessiatines, is sufficient to enable a peasant family to start farming in Southern Siberia. A peasant who has been absolutely ruined is thus enabled, through the sale of his lot in the communal land, to rise to the position of a farmer in the new country. Devotion to the sacred customs of forefathers would hardly be able to withstand such a temptation as this, but for the helpful right hand of the most gracious Bureaucracy.

I shall, of course, be charged with pessimism, as I have been recently on account of my views on the emigration of the peasants. (Severny Vestnik, 1892, No. 5, in an article by A. Bogdanovsky.) The usual method of reasoning followed takes some such course as this: Granted that the case is presented true to life as it actually stands, the evil consequences” (of emigration) “are nevertheless due to the present abnormal condition of the peasantry, and under normal circumstances, the objections are ’no good.’ Unhappily, however, these very ’abnormal’ conditions are developing spontaneously, while the creation of ’normal’ conditions is beyond the jurisdiction of the well-wishers of the peasantry.” (Op. cit., p. 137.[35]) —Lenin

[23] And even this would scarcely be true, because decline implies a temporary and casual loss of stability, whereas the middle peasants, as we have seen, are always in a state of instability, on the verge on ruin. —Lenin

[24] A fairly complex calculation was required to arrive at the money income from agriculture (which Shcherbina does not give). It was necessary to exclude from the total income from crops the income derived from straw and chaff, which, according to the author are used as cattle feed. The author himself excludes them in Chapter XVIII, but only for the total figures for the uyezd, and not for the given 24 households. Taking his total figures, I determined the proportion of income from grain (compared with the total income from the crops, i.e., both from grain and from straw and chaff) and on this basis excluded straw and chaff in the present case. This proportion is, for rye 78.98%, for wheat 72.67%, for oats and barley 73.32% and for millet and buckwheat 77.78%. The amount of grain sold was then determined by excluding the amount consumed on the farm itself. —Lenin

[25]The worker must be hired cheap and the most made out of him,” Mr. Krivenko quite rightly remarks in the same passage. —Lenin

[26] Mr. Yuzhakov, how’s this! Here is your colleague saying that “talented people” become “blood-suckers,” whereas you assured us that people become so only because they have “uncritical minds.” That won’t do, gentlemen, contradicting each other like this in one and the same magazine! —Lenin

[27] If only urban factory workers are as yet capable of assimilating the idea of the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, while the rural “simple-hearted and simple-minded” farm labourers i.e., the people who have actually lost those charming qualities so closely bound up with the “age-old basis” and the “community spirit,” are not—it only proves the correctness of the Social-Democrats’ theory of the progressive and revolutionary role of Russian capitalism. —Lenin

[28] Not to mention the absurdity of the idea that peasants with equal allotments are equal and are not also divided into “blood suckers” and “farm labourers.” —Lenin

[29] Yuridichesky Vestnik (The Legal Messenger )—a monthly magazine, bourgeois-liberal in trend, published in Moscow from 1867 to 1892.

[30] The Manifesto abolishing serfdom in Russia signed by Tsar Alexander II on February 19, 1861.

[33] The data for several uyezds, dealing with the differentiation of the peasantry, mentioned by V. I. Lenin, were included in the second part (not yet found) of What the “Friends of the People” Are.

In his Development of Capitalism in Russia, Lenin deals with this problem in detail particularly in the second chapter: “The Differentiation of the Peasantry.”

[34] State peasants with quarter holdings—the name given in tsarist Russia to the category of former state peasants, descendants of lower-rank servicemen who in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries were settled in the border lands of the state of Muscovy. For their services in guarding the state frontiers the settlers (Cossacks, musketeers, soldiers) were given the usufruct of small plots of land either temporarily or in perpetuity. The area of such a plot amounted to a so-called quarter [11.35 acres]. From the year 1719 such settlers were called odnodvortsi [i.e., those possessing only their own farmsteads]. Formerly they enjoyed various kinds of privileges and had the right to own peasants, but during the course of the nineteenth century were gradually deprived of these rights and reduced to the status of ordinary peasants. By a regulation of the year 1876 the quarter lots were recognised as the private property of the former odnodvortsi (quarter-lot peasants) and their descendants.

[35] Here and in other parts of the present volume, V. I. Lenin quotes from I. A. Hourwich’s The Economics of the Russian Village, published in New York in 1892. A Russian translation of this book appeared in 1896. Lenin had a high opinion of Hourwich’s book which contains valuable factual material.

[31] Kolupayev and Derunov—types of capitalist sharks portrayed in the works of the Russian satirist M. Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin.

[32] V. I. Lenin quotes from Karl Marx’s A Criticism of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. (See Marx-Engels, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. I, Abt. 1, Erster Halbband, S. 608 2 bas.)

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