V. I. Lenin



To:   P. P. MASLOV

Published: First published in 1940 in Lenin Miscellany XXXIII. Sent from St. Petersburg to Samara. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1977], Moscow, Volume 43, pages 39b-41.
Translated: Martin Parker and Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


Received your letter the day before yesterday. I indeed had almost forgotten about our correspondence and about the review, but I am of course very pleased to resume correspondence on the questions raised by it, as well as on other questions.

One thing surprises me—why did you have to “search” for me? Didn’t N. M. A.[1] see you on his return to Tiflis from St. Petersburg and inform you (as I asked him to) that I have a permanent address—for the winter at least—namely: Bar Council, Advocate N. N.

Concerning your comments,[2] I should like to say this. First, as regards the conclusions being too cautious, it should be borne in mind that this shortcoming
[[LEFT-OPEN-BRACKET: I fully agree that this is really a shortcoming ]] is due to my intention to have the article published in a liberal journal. I actually was naïve enough to send it to Russkaya Mysl, which of course turned it down: I fully understood why when I read in Russkaya Mysl No. 2 an article about Postnikov by “our well-known” liberal vulgariser, Mr. V. V. It takes some artistry to mutilate splendid material so thoroughly and to bury the facts in sheer verbiage!

The fact is that I draw from these data some major conclusions. Namely, that the data, in my opinion, point to the bourgeois nature of the economic relationships existing among the peasantry. They strikingly reveal the existence   of antagonistic classes in this “communal” peasantry; moreover, of classes that are characteristic only of capitalist organisation of the social economy. This is the cardinal conclusion, and one fully applicable to the rest of the Russian peasantry. Another conclusion is that already now a huge proportion (probably no less than half and most likely more) of peasant-grown grain goes to the market, and that the principal producer of this grain is the top group of the present-day village—the peasant bourgeoisie.[3]

Further, I attach much importance to the fact established by Postnikov that as a rule throughout Russia the productivity of labour is 2–2 1/2 times higher in the upper groups of the peasantry. This is of enormous importance from the theoretical standpoint, as is the ascertaining of the commercial farm area (a point so dangerous for the Russian exceptionalists that I fully appreciate Mr. V. V.’s careful avoidance of the question).

As for your second remark—concerning the norm of natural economy—I must admit that I do not quite understand you.

The question of a “norm”, to my mind, is meaningful only in this sense: it is important to know how big an area the average peasant must cultivate to meet all his needs (both production and personal) and manage without outside earnings.

This is important to know since all peasant farms below this level fall into the category of those selling labour power, and the size of the farm is a fairly accurate indicator to what extent it depends on this source of income. Households in the higher groups are petty-bourgeois pure and simple.

As regards the share of “natural” economy, I believe it is invariably the greatest in the middle group of peasants, but there too commodity economy is bound to account for a substantial (probably some 40 per cent of the   total budget must be in monetary form). Farms of the lower and top groups will always be more of a commodity type, for the first sells labour power and the second, surpluses of grain.

The analysis of the groups given in the article on Postnikov is along these lines.

You speak of the “norm of natural economy” and the “norm of commodity economy” as of two separate things. If I understood you right, the latter is my average norm
[[SINGLE-BOX-ENDS: 17–18 dessiatines of crop area according to Postnikov’s figures ]] in which, of course, it is important to separate and calculate exactly the natural and money components. I do not see that there is any self-contained “norm of natural economy”; our contemporary peasant economy cannot be a pure natural economy whatever its dimensions.

However, here it is better to wait for a more detailed explanation from you.

As regards the criticism of N. K. Mikhailovsky, I also believe that no publication will print it, not so much because of considerations of censorship (rumour has it that the censors are exorcising Russian Marxism following the commotion raised by Russkoye Bogatstvo[4]) as of disagreement with you and fear of an impudent and conceited “big wig”. I’ve had some experience in this respect.
[[DOUBLE-BOX-ENDS: Nor do I think it possible or worth while to reply to him in our press. ]] It would give me pleasure to read your reply.

I shall probably be here until June 12, and perhaps longer. I shall let you know my new address when I leave. In the meantime you can write (after the 12th) through M.H.H.; it will be quicker to forward mail from there.


[1] The person referred to has not been identified.—Ed.

[2] See previous letter.—Ed.

[3] Hourwich is therefore mistaken when he says that Russia will in the future become a country of the peasant bourgeoisie. It is that already.

A very good book: Hourwich, The Economics of the Russian Village, 1892. New York. —Lenin

[4] Russkoye Bogatstvo (Russian Wealth)—a monthly published in St. Petersburg from 1876 to 1918. In the early nineties it was taken over by the liberal Narodniks headed by N. K. Mikhailovsky. It propounded reconciliation with the tsarist government and waged an implacable struggle against Marxism and the Russian Marxists.

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