Vladimir Ilyich Lenin


Chapter II. The Differentiation of the Peasantry

VII. Zemstvo Statistics For Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia

For three uyezds of Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia—the Knyaginin, Makaryev and Vasil uyezds—the Zemstvo house-to-house census returns have been reduced to one table, which divides the peasant farms (only allotment-holding and only of peasants living in their own villages) into five groups according to draught animals held (Material for the Evaluation of the Lands of Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia. Economic Section. Vols. IV, IX and XII, Nizhni-Novgorod, 1888, 1889, 1890).

Combining these three uyezds, we get the following data on the groups of households (in the three uyezds mentioned the data cover 52,260 households and 294,798 persons of both sexes. Allotment land—433,593 dess., purchased—51,960 dess., rented—86,007 dess., counting all kinds of rented land, allotment and non-allotment, arable and meadow land; land leased out—19,274 dess.):

Land use by horse ownership.

Here too, consequently, we see that the well-to-do peasants, despite their better provision with allotment land (the percentage of allotment land in the top groups is larger than the percentage these groups constitute in the population), concentrate in their hands the purchased land (the well-to-do households, 9.6% of the total, have 46.2% of the purchased land, whereas the poor peasants, 2/3 of the households, have less than a quarter), as well as concentrate the rented land, and “gather” the allotment land leased by the poor. As a result of all this the actual distribution of the land in use by the “peasantry” is quite unlike the distribution of the allotment land. The horseless peasants have actually less land at their disposal than the allotment guaranteed them by law. The one-horse and two-horse peasants increase their holdings by only 10 to 30% (from 8.1 dess. to 9.4 dess., and from 10.5 dess. to 13.8 dess.), whereas the well to-do peasants increase their holdings one and a half times to double. While the differences in the allotment land of the groups are negligible, the differences in the actual scale of cultivation are enormous, as can be seen from the above quoted data on animals and from the following data on area under crops:

Area under crops and horse ownership.


When assessed by the area under crops the differences between the groups are seen to be even greater than when assessed by the amount of land actually held and in use, to say nothing of the differences in the size of the allotments.[2] This shows again and again the utter uselessness of classification by allotment holding, the “equality” of which has now become a legal fiction. The other columns of the table show how the “combination of agriculture with industry” is taking place among the peasantry: the well-to-do peasants combine commercial and capitalist agriculture (the high percentage of households employing farm labourers) with commercial and industrial undertakings, whereas the poor combine the sale of their labour-power (“outside employments”} with crop growing on an insignificant scale, that is, are converted into allotment-holding farm labourers and day labourers. Let us observe that the absence of a proportionate diminution in the percentage of the households with outside employments is explained by the extreme variety of these “employments” and “industries” of the Nizhni-Novgorod peasantry: besides agricultural workers, unskilled labourers, building and shipbuilding workers, etc., the industrialists here include a relatively very large number of “handicraftsmen,” owners of industrial workshops, merchants, buyers-up, etc. Obviously, the lumping together of “industrialists” of such diverse types distorts the data on “households with outside earnings.”[3]

On the question of the differences in cultivation by the various groups of peasants, let us observe that in the Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia, “manuring the land . . . is one of the chief conditions determining the degree of productivity” of the ploughlands (p. 79 of the Returns for Knyaginin Uyezd). The average rye yield grows in proportion to the increase in the amount of manure used: with 300 to 500 cart-loads of manure per 100 dess. of allotment land, the rye crop amounts to 47.1 meras[4] per dess.; with 1,500 cart-loads and more, to 62.7 meras (ibid., p. 84). Clearly, therefore, the difference between the groups in the scale of their agricultural production should be still greater than the difference in area under crops, and the Nizhni-Novgorod statisticians made a big mistake in studying the produce of the peasant fields in general, and not of the fields of the poor and the well-to-do peasantry separately.


[1] For Knyaginin Uyezd only.—Lenin

[2] If we take the size of the allotment of the horseless peasants (per household) as l00, the allotments of the higher groups will be expressed by the figures: 159, 206, 259, 321. The corresponding figures for land actually held by each group will be as follows: 100, 214, 314, 477, 786; and for area under crops the figures for the groups will be: 100, 231, 378, 568, 873.—Lenin

[3] On the “industries” of the Nizhni-Novgorod peasantry, see Mr. Plotnikov’s Handicraft Industries of Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia (Nizhni-Novgorod, 1894), tables at the end of the book, also Zemstvo statistical returns, particularly for the Gorbatov and Semyonov uyezds.—Lenin

[4] 1 mera = 204 pounds—Ed.

  VI. Zemstvo Statistics For Voronezh Gubernia | VIII. Review Of Zemstvo Statistics For Other Gubernias  

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