Vladimir Ilyich Lenin


Chapter II. The Differentiation of the Peasantry

VI. Zemstvo Statistics For Voronezh Gubernia

The returns for Voronezh Gubernia are distinguished for their exceptionally complete information and abundance of classifications. In addition to the usual classification according to allotment, we have for several uyezds a classification according to draught animals, to persons working (working strength of family), to industries (not engaged in industries; engaged in industries: a—agricultural, b—mixed and c—commercial and industrial), to farm labourers (farms with members employed as farm labourers;—with no farm labourers and with no members employed as such;—households employing farm labourers). The last classification is given for the largest number of uyezds, and at first glance one might think that it is the most suitable for studying the differentiation of the peasantry. Actually, however, this is not the case: the group of farms providing farm labourers does not by any means embrace the whole of the rural proletariat, for it does not include farms providing day labourers, unskilled labourers, factory workers, builders’ labourers, navvies, domestic servants, etc. Farm labourers constitute only a part of the wage-workers provided by the “peasantry.” The group of farms that employ farm labourers is also very incomplete, for it does not include farms that hire day labourers. The neutral group (which neither provides nor employs farm labourers) lumps together in each uyezd tens of thousands of families, combining thousands of peasants who own no horses with thousands who own many, peasants who rent land and peasants who lease land, cultivators and non-cultivators, thousands of wage-workers and a minority of employers, etc. General “averages” for the entire neutral group are obtained, for example, by adding together landless households or those possessing 3 to 4 dess. per household (of allotment and purchased land in all) and households possessing 25, 50 and more dessiatines of allotment land and purchasing additionally tens and hundreds of dessiatines of land (Returns for Bobrov Uyezd, p. 336, Col. No. 148; for Novokhopersk Uyezd, p. 222)—by adding together households with 0.8 to 2.7 animals per family and those with 12 to 21 animals (ibid.). Naturally, one cannot depict the differentiation of the peasantry with the aid of such “averages,” and so we have to take the classification according to draught animals as the one most closely approximating classification according to scale of farming. We have at our disposal four volumes of returns with this classification (for Zemlyansk, Zadonsk, Nizhnedevitsk and Korotoyak uyezds), and from these we must choose Zadonsk Uyezd, because no separate returns are given for the others on the purchase and leasing of land according to groups. Below we shall give combined data for all these four uyezds and the reader will see that the conclusions they yield are the same. Here are general data for the groups in Zadonsk Uyezd (15,704 households, 106,288 persons of both sexes, 135,656 dess. of allotment land, 2,882 dess. of purchased land, 24,046 dess. of rented, and 6,482 dess. of land leased out).

Land use by horse ownership.

The relations between the groups are similar here to those in the gubernias and uyezds already mentioned (concentration of purchased and of rented land, the transfer of allotment land from the poor peasants, who lease out land, to the renting and affluent peasants, etc.); but here the significance of the affluent peasants is very much smaller. The extremely negligible scale of peasant farming even raises the question, and naturally so, of whether the local peasants do not belong to the “industrialists” rather than to the tillers of the soil. Here are data on the “industries,” first of all on their distribution according to groups:

Data on ’industries’ by horse ownership.

The distribution of improved implements and of the two opposite types of “industries” (the sale of labour-power and commercial and industrial enterprise) is the same as in the data examined above. The enormous percentage of households engaging in “industries,” the preponderance of grain-purchasing over grain-selling farms, the preponderance of money income from “industries” over money income from agriculture[1]—all this gives us grounds for regarding this uyezd as “industrial” rather than agricultural. Let us, however, see what sort of industries these are. The Evaluation Returns on Peasant Landownership in Zemlyansk, Zadonsk, Korotoyak and Nizhnedevitsk Uyezds (Voronezh,1889) contains a list of all the trades of the “industrialists,” working locally and away from home (222 trades in all), classified in groups according to allotment, and indicating the size of earnings in each trade. This list shows that the overwhelming majority of the peasant “industries” consist of work for hire. Of 24,134 “industrialists” in Zadonsk Uyezd, 14,135 are farm labourers, carters, shepherds and unskilled labourers, 1,813 are builders’ labourers, 298 are town, factory and other workers, 446 are engaged in private service, 301 are beggars, etc. In other words, the overwhelming majority of the “industrialists” are members of the rural proletariat, allotment-holding wage-workers, who sell their labour-power to rural and industrial employers.[2] Thus, if we take the ratio between the different groups of the peasantry in a given gubernia or a given uyezd, we find everywhere the typical features of differentiation, both in the land-abundant steppe gubernias with their relatively huge peasant crop areas, and in the most land-poor localities with their miniature peasant “farms”; despite the most profound difference in agrarian and agricultural conditions, the ratio between the top group of the peasantry and the bottom is everywhere the same. If, however, we compare the different localities, in some we see with particular clarity the formation of rural entrepreneurs from among the peasants and in others we see the formation of a rural proletariat. It goes without saying that in Russia, as in every other capitalist country, the latter aspect of the process of differentiation embraces an incomparably larger number of small cultivators (and very likely a larger number of localities) than the former.


[1] In the numerically small top group of the peasantry we see the opposite: the preponderance of grain sales over purchase, the receipt of money income mainly from the land, and a high percentage of peasants employing farm labourers, possessing improved implements, and owning commercial and industrial establishments. All the typical features of the peasant bourgeoisie are clearly visible here too (despite its small numbers); they are visible in the shape of the growth of commercial and capitalist agriculture.—Lenin

[2] To supplement what has been said above about the term “industries” as used in Zemstvo statistics, let us quote more detailed data on peasant industries in this locality. The Zemstvo statisticians have divided them into six categories: 1) Agricultural industries (59,277 persons out of a total of 92,889 “industrialists” in the 4 uyezds). The overwhelming majority are wage-workers, but among them we also find proprietors (melon growers, vegetable growers, bee-keepers, perhaps some coachmen, etc.). 2) Artisans and handicraftsmen (20,784 persons) Among the genuine artisans (= those who work on orders for customers) are included very many wage-workers, particularly building workers, etc. Of the latter we have counted over 8,000 (the figure probably includes some proprietors: bakers, etc.). 3) Servants—1,737 persons. 4) Merchants and master-industrialists—7,104 persons. As we have said, it is particularly necessary to single out this category from the general mass of “industrialists.” 5) Liberal professions—2,881 persons, including 1,090 beggars; in addition to these there are tramps, gendarmes, prostitutes, policemen, etc. 6) Town, factory and other workers—1,106 persons, local industrialists—71,112, migratory industrialists—21,777, males—85,255, females—7,634. The earnings are the most varied: for example, in Zadonsk Uyezd 8,580 unskilled labourers earn 234,677 rubles, while 647 merchants and master-industrialists earn 71,799 rubles. One can imagine the confusion that results when all these most diverse “industries” are lumped together—but that is what is usually done by our Zemstvo statisticians and our Narodniks.—Lenin

  V. Zemstvo Statistics For Orel Gubernia | VII. Zemstvo Statistics For Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia  

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