Vladimir Ilyich Lenin


Chapter II. The Differentiation of the Peasantry

VIII. Review Of Zemstvo Statistics For Other Gubernias

As the reader will have observed, in studying the process of the differentiation of the peasantry we use exclusively Zemstvo house-to-house census statistics, if they cover more or less extensive areas, if they give sufficiently detailed information on the most important indices of differentiation, and if (which is particularly important) they have been processed in such a way as to make it possible to single out the various groups of peasants according to their economic strength. The data given above, relating to seven gubernias, exhaust the Zemstvo statistical material that answers these conditions and that we have been able to use. For the sake of completeness, let us now point briefly to the remaining, less complete, data of a similar kind (i.e., based on house-to-house censuses).

For Demyansk Uyezd of Novgorod Gubernia we have a table on peasant farms grouped according to the number of horses (Material for Evaluating the Farmlands of Novgorod Gubernia, Demyansk Uyezd, Novgorod, 1888). There is no information here on land renting and leasing (in dessiatines), but the data given reveal the complete similarity of the relations between the well-to-do and the indigent peasants in this gubernia, as compared with the other gubernias. Here too, for example, as we proceed from the bottom group to the top (from the horseless households to those with 3 and more horses), there is an increase in the percentage of farms with purchased and rented land, despite the fact that those with many horses have an amount of allotment land above the average. Households with 3 or more horses, 10.7% of the total number of households and 16.1 % of the population, possess 18.3% of all allotment land, 43.4% of the purchased land, 26.2% of the rented land (to judge from the area under rye and oats on rented land), and 29.4% of the total “industrial buildings.” On the other hand 51.3 %, the horseless and one-horse households, constituting 40.1% of the population, have only 33.2% of the allotment land, 13.8% of the purchased land, 20.8% of the rented land (in the sense indicated above), and 28.8% of the “industrial buildings.” In other words, here too the well-to-do peasants “gather” the land and combine commercial and industrial “trades” with agriculture, while the poor abandon the land and turn into wage-workers (the percentage of “persons engaged in industries” diminishes as we pass from the bottom group to the top—from 26.6 % among the horseless peasants to 7.8% among those having 3 and more horses). The incompleteness of these data compels us to omit them from the following summary of the material on the differentiation of the peasantry.

For the same reason we omit the data on part of Kozelets Uyezd, Chernigov Gubernia (Material for Evaluating Farmlands, Compiled by the Chernigov Statistical Department of the Gubernia Zemstvo Board, Vol. V, Chernigov, 1882; the data on the number of draught animals are classified for 8,717 households of the black-earth district of the uyezd). The relationships between the groups are the same here too: 36.8% of the households, with no draught animals and constituting 28.8% of the population, have 21% of their own and allotment land and 7% of the rented land, but account for 63% of the total land let out on lease by these 8,717 households. On the other hand, 14.3% of the households, with 4 and more draught animals and constituting 17.3 % of the population, have 33.4% of their own and allotment land and 32.1% of the rented land, and account for only 7% of the land let out on lease. Unfortunately, the other households (owning 1 to 3 draught animals) are not subdivided into smaller groups.

In Material for an Investigation of the Land-Usage and Domestic Life of the Rural Population of Irkutsk and Yenisei Gubernias there is a very interesting table (classification according to number of draught horses) of peasant and settler farms in four regions of Yenisei Gubernia (Vol. III, Irkutsk,1893, p.730 and foll.). It is very interesting to observe that the relationship between the well-to-do Siberian and the settler (and in this relationship the most ardent Narodnik would hardly dare to seek the famous community principle!) is essentially the same as that between our well-to-do village community members and their horseless and one-horse “brethren.” By combining the settlers and the peasant old-timers (such a combination is necessary because the former serve as labour-power for the latter), we get the familiar features of the top and bottom groups. Of the households, 39.4%,the bottom groups (those with no horses, and with 1 or 2), constituting 24% of the population, have only 6.2% of the total arable and 7.1% of the total animals, whereas 36.4% of the households, those with 5 and more horses, constituting 51.2% of the population, have 73% of the arable and 74.5% of the total cattle. The latter groups (5 to 9,10 and more horses), cultivating 15 to 36 dess. per household, resort extensively to wage-labour (30 to 70 % of the farms employ wage-workers), whereas the bottom three groups, cultivating 0—0.2—3—5 dess. per household provide workers (20—35—59% of the farms). The data on the renting and leasing out of land are the only exception we have met to the rule (of the concentration of rented land in the hands of the well-to-do), and this is the sort of exception that proves the rule. The point is that in Siberia there are none of the conditions that created this rule, there is no compulsory and “equalitarian” allotment of land, there is no established private property in land. The well-to-do peasant neither purchases nor rents land, but appropriates it (at least that has been the case till now); the leasing out and the renting of land are rather of the character of neighbourly exchange, and that is why the group data on the renting and the leasing of land display no consistency.[1]

For three uyezds of Poltava Gubernia we can determine approximately the way the area under crops is distributed (knowing the number of farms with different areas under crops—indicated in the statistical reports as “from—to” so many dessiatines—and multiplying the number of households in each division by the average area under crops within the limits indicated). We get the following data for 76,032 households (villagers, excluding non-peasants) with 362,298 dess. under crops: 31,001 households (40.8%) cultivate no land or only up to 3 dess. per household, to a total of 36,040 dess. under crops (9.9%); 19,017 households (25%) cultivate over 6 dess. per household and have 209,195 dess. under crops (57.8%). (See Economic Statistical Returns for Poltava Gubernia, Konstantinograd, Khorol and Piryatin uyezds.)[5] The distribution of area under crops is very much the same as what we have seen in the case of Taurida Gubernia, despite the basically smaller areas under crops. Naturally, such an uneven distribution is possible only where the purchased and rented land is concentrated in the hands of a minority. We have no complete data on this, since the statistics do not classify households according to economic strength and must therefore confine ourselves to the following data on Konstantinograd Uyezd. In the chapter of farming by the rural social-estates (Chapter II, § 5, “Agriculture”} the compiler of the abstract states: “In general, if rented plots are divided into three categories: area per lessee of 1) up to 10 dess., 2) from 10 to 30 dess. and 3) over 30 dess., the data for each will be as follows:[2]

Rented plots.

For Kaluga Gubernia we have only the following very fragmentary and incomplete data on grain-sowing by 8,626 households (about 1/20 of the total number of peasant households in the gubernia[3]).

Groups of households according to area under crops.

That is to say, 21.6% of the households, constituting 30.6% of the population, possess 36.6% of the draught horses, 45.1% of the area under crops and 43.1% of the gross income from crops. Clearly, these figures also point to the concentration of purchased and rented land in the hands of the well-to-do peasantry.

For Tver Gubernia, despite the wealth of information in the statistical returns the house-to-house censuses have been very inadequately processed; there is no classification of households according to economic strength. This defect is used by Mr. Vikhlyayev in the Statistical Returns for Tver Gubernia (Vol. XIII, Part 2, Peasant Farming, Tver, 1897) to deny “differentiation” among the peasantry, to detect a drive towards “greater equality,” and to sing hymns in praise of “people’s production” (p. 312) and “natural economy.” Mr. Vikhlyayev enters into the most hazardous and unfounded arguments on stratification,” not only without citing any precise data on the peasant groups, but without even having made clear for himself the elementary truth that differentiation is taking place within the village community, and that therefore to talk about “stratification” and to classify exclusively according to village communities or to volosts is simply ridiculous.[4]


[1] “The locally collected material giving facts on the leasing and renting of farmland was considered to be unworthy of especial treatment, because the phenomenon exists only in a rudimentary form isolated cases of leasing out and renting occur now and again, but are of an utterly fortuitous character and exercise no influence yet on the economic life of Yenisei Gubernia” (Material, Vol. IV, Part 1, p. V, Introduction). Of 424,624 dess. of soft arable land belonging to the peasant old-timers of Yenisei Gubernia, 417,086 dess. are “appropriated family” land.[6] Renting (2,686 dess.) nearly equals leasing 2,639 dess.) and represents not even one per cent of the total land appropriated.—Lenin

[2] Abstract, p. 142.—Lenin

[3] Statistical Survey of Kaluga Gubernia for 1896, Kaluga, 1897, p. 43 and foll., 83, 113 of appendices.—Lenin

[4] As a curiosity, let us quote one sample, Mr. Vikhlyayev’s “general conclusion” reads: “The purchase of land by the peasants of Tver Gubernia tends to equalise the size of holdings” (p. 11). Proof?—If we take the groups of village communities according to size of allotment, we shall find that the small-allotment communities have a larger percentage of households with purchased land. Mr. Vikhlyayev does not even suspect that it is the well-to-do members of the small allotment communities who buy land! Of course, there is no need to examine such “conclusions” of an out-and-out Narodnik, the more so that Mr. Vikhlyayev’s boldness has embarrassed even the economists in his own camp. Mr. Karyshev, in Russkoye Bogatstvo[Russian Wealth] (1898, No. 8), although expressing his profound sympathy with the way Mr Vikhlyayev “orientates himself well among the problems with which the economy of the country is faced at the present time,” is yet compelled to admit that Mr. Vikhlyayev is too great an “optimist,” that his conclusions about the drive towards equality are “not very convincing,” that his data “tell us nothing,” and that his conclusions “are groundless.”—Lenin

[6] Appropriated family land–land in Siberia appropriated mainly by rich peasants, who did what they pleased with it, making gifts of it, selling it, or handing it down in the family.

[5] For the notes containing preliminary calculations made by Lenin in the margins of these publications, see Lenin Miscellany XXXIII, pp. 144-150.

  VII. Zemstvo Statistics For Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia | IX. Summary Of The Above Zemstvo Statistics On The Differentiation Of The Peasantry  

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