Vladimir Ilyich Lenin


Chapter V. The First Stages of Capitalism in Industry

VII. “Industry And Agriculture”

Such is the usual heading of special sections in descriptions of peasant industries. In view of the fact that at the initial stage of capitalism which we are examining the industrialist has hardly yet become differentiated from the peasant, his connection with the land is something indeed highly characteristic and requires special examination.

Let us begin with the data given in our table (see Appendix I). To characterise the farms of the “handicraftsmen” there are given here, firstly, data on the average number of horses owned by the industrialists of each grade. By combining the 19 industries for which such data are available we get an all-round average per industrialist (master or petty master) of 1.4 horses, and for the grades: I) 1.1; II) 1.5 and III) 2.0. Thus the higher the proprietor’s position in respect to the size of his industrial establishment, the higher his position as an agriculturist. The biggest industrialists have almost twice as many draught animals as the small ones. But with regard to their farms even the smallest industrialists (grade I) are above the middle peasantry, for the general average for Moscow Gubernia in 1877 was 0.87 horses per peasant household.[1] Thus it is only the relatively prosperous peasants who become master and petty-master industrialists. The poor peasants, on the other hand, do not, in the main, provide master industrialists but worker industrialists (wage-workers employed by “handicraftsmen,” migratory workers, etc.). Unfortunately, for the overwhelming majority of Moscow industries no data are available on the farms of the wage-workers engaged in small industries. An exception is the hat industry (see general data on it in our table, Appendix I). Here are exceedingly instructive data on the farms of master hat-makers and worker hat-makers.

Master hat-makers and worker hat-makers.

Thus, the master industrialists belong to the category of very “sound” farmers, i.e., are members of the peasant bourgeoisie, whereas the wage-workers are recruited from the mass of ruined peasants.[2] Still more important for characterising the relations described are the data on the methods by which the master industrialists cultivate their land. The Moscow investigators distinguished three methods of cultivating the soil: 1) by means of the personal labour of the householder; 2) by “hiring,” i.e., by hiring some neighbour who tills the land of the “distressed” householder with his own implements. This method of cultivation is characteristic of the poor peasant who is being steadily ruined. Of opposite significance is the third method, namely, cultivation with the aid of a “labourer,” i.e., the hire of agricultural (“land”) labourers by the farmer. These workers are usually hired for the whole summer; and, particularly in the busy season, the master usually reinforces them with employees from his workshop. “Thus, the method of cultivating the soil with the aid of the ’land’ labourer is quite a profitable one” (Industries of Moscow Gubernia, VI, I, 48). In our table we have assembled the data on this method of cultivation for 16 industries, in 7 of which there are no masters who hire “land labourers.” In all these 16 industries the master industrialists who hire rural labourers constitute 12% of the total, and by grades: I) 4.5%; II) 16.7% and III) 27.3%. The better off the industrialists are, the more often we find rural entrepreneurs among them. The analysis of the data on the industrial peasantry consequently reveals the same picture of parallel differentiation in both industry and agriculture that we observed in Chapter II on the basis of the data on the agricultural peasantry.

The hiring of “land labourers” by “handicraft” masters is very widespread in all the industrial gubernias. We meet, for example, with references to the hiring of agricultural labourers by the rich bast-matting makers of Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia. The furriers of the same gubernia hire agricultural labourers, who usually come from the purely agricultural surrounding villages. The “village-community peasants of Kimry Volost engaged in the boot industry find it profitable to hire for the cultivation of their fields men and women labourers who come to Kimry in large numbers from Tver Uyezd and neighbouring . . . localities.” The pottery decorators of Kostroma Gubernia send their wage-workers, when not occupied at their regular jobs, to work in the fields.[3] “The independent masters” (metal-beaters of Vladimir Gubernia) “keep special field workers”; that is why their fields are well cultivated, although they themselves “quite often can neither plough nor mow.”[4] In Moscow Gubernia, the hiring of “land labourers” is resorted to by many industrialists apart from those about whom data are given in our table; for example, pin-makers, felt-makers and toy-makers send their workers to jobs in the fields too; the glass-bead-makers, metal-beaters, button makers, cap-makers and harness-makers employ agricultural labourers, etc.[5] The significance of this fact—the hiring of agricultural workers by peasant industrialists—is very great. It shows that even in the small peasant industries the phenomenon characteristic of all capitalist countries is beginning to be manifested, and that goes to confirm the progressive historical role of capitalism, namely, a rise in the standard of living of the population, an increase in its requirements. The industrialist is beginning to look down upon the “raw” agriculturist with his coarse patriarchal manners and is trying to rid himself of the hardest and worst-paid agricultural jobs. In the small industries, in which capitalism is least developed, this is to be observed very slightly as yet; the industrial worker is only just beginning to be differentiated from the agricultural worker. In the succeeding stages of development of capitalist industry this phenomenon, as we shall see, is to be observed on a mass scale.

The importance of the “tie between agriculture and industry” compels us to review in greater detail the data relating to other gubernias besides Moscow.

Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia. Among the mass of bast-matting makers agriculture is on the decline, and they are neglecting the land; about 1/3 of the winter-crop area and 1/2 of the spring-crop area are “wasteland.” For the “well to-do muzhiks,” however, “the land is no longer a wicked stepmother, but a mother bountiful”: they have enough animals, they have manure, they rent land, they try to keep their strips out of the periodical redistribution and tend them better. “Now the wealthy muzhik has become a landlord while the other muzhik, the poor one, is in serf dependence name=fnp> upon him” (Transactions of the Handicraft Commission, III, 65). The furriers “are bad farmers,” but here too we must single out the bigger proprietors who “rent land from their poor fellow-villagers,” etc. The following is a summary of typical budgets of furriers of different groups:

Typical budgets of furriers of different groups.



The parallel process of differentiation of the agriculturists and industrialists stands out here in bold relief. Concerning the blacksmiths, the investigator says that “industry is more important than agriculture” for the rich masters, on the one hand, and for the “landless” labourers, on the other (ibid., IV, 168).

In Industries of Vladimir Gubernia the question of the relation between industry and agriculture is dealt with much more thoroughly than in any other work of investigation. For a whole number of industries precise data are given on the farms, not only of “handicraftsmen” in general (such “average” figures, as is clear from all the aforesaid, are quite fictitious), but of the various grades and groups of “handicraftsmen,” such as: big masters, small masters, wage-workers; workroom owners and weavers; master industrialists and the rest of the peasantry; households engaged in local and in outside industries, etc. The general conclusion drawn by Mr. Kharizomenov from these data is that if the “handicraftsmen” are divided into three categories, viz.—1) big industrialists; 2) small and medium industrialists; 3) wage-workers, there is to be observed a deterioration of agriculture as from the first category to the third, a diminution in the amount of land and animals, an increase in the proportion of “distressed” farms, etc.[8] Unfortunately, Mr. Kharizomenov examined these data too restrictedly and one-sidedly, and paid no attention to the parallel and independent process of the differentiation of the peasant agriculturists. That is why he failed to draw from these data the conclusion that inevitably follows from them, namely, that the peasantry both in agriculture and in industry are splitting up into a petty bourgeoisie and a rural proletariat.[9] That is why, in describing the different industries, he quite often sinks to the traditional Narodnik arguments about the influence of “industry” in general over “agriculture” in general (see, for example, Industries of Vladimir Gubernia, II, 288; III, 91), i.e., to the ignoring of the profound contradictions in the very system of both industry and agriculture, the existence of which he himself was obliged to admit. Another investigator of the industries of Vladimir Gubernia, Mr. V. Prugavin, is a typical spokesman of the Narodnik views on this subject. Here is a sample of his reasoning. The cotton-weaving industry in Pokrov Uyezd “cannot be regarded at all as a harmful factor (sic !!) in the agricultural life of the weavers” (IV, 53). The data testify to the poor farms of the mass of weavers, and to the fact that among the workroom owners, farming is conducted at a level far above the general (ibid.); from the tables it is evident that some workroom owners hire agricultural labourers too. Conclusion: “industry and agriculture march hand in hand, conditioning each other’s development and prosperity” (60). A fine specimen of the phrases used to obscure the fact that the development and prosperity of the peasant bourgeoisie go hand in hand both in industry and in agriculture.[10]

The data of the Perm handicraft census of 1894-95 revealed the same thing: it is among the small commodity-producers (masters and petty masters) that the level of agriculture is highest and rural labourers are met with; among the artisans agriculture is on a lower level, while among the craftsmen who work for buyers-up the condition of agriculture is worst (as to the agriculture of the wage-workers and of various groups of masters, no data, unfortunate]y, have been gathered). The census also revealed that the “handicraftsmen” who do not engage in agriculture differ from those who do in that 1) their labour productivity is higher, 2) their net incomes from industry are incomparably higher, and 3) their level of culture and literacy is higher. All these are evidences which confirm the conclusion drawn above, namely, that even the initial stage of capitalism manifests the tendency of industry to raise the population’s standard of living (see Studies, p. 138 and foll.).[11]

Lastly, the following point is connected with the question of the relation of industry to agriculture. The larger establishments usually have a longer working period. For example, in the furniture industry of Moscow Gubernia, the working period of those working in plain wood equals 8 months (the average workshop staff here is 1.9 workers); for the bent-wood establishments it is 10 months (2.9 workers per establishment), and in the heavy-furniture trade it is 11 months (4.2 workers per establishment). In the shoe industry of Vladimir Gubernia the working period in 14 small workshops equals 40 weeks, and that in 8 large ones (9.5 workers per establishment, as against 2.4 in the small workshops) 48 weeks, etc.[12] Naturally, this fact is connected with the large number of workers (family, hired industrial and hired agricultural) in the big establishments and explains the great stability of these establishments and their tendency to specialise in industrial activities.

Let us now sum up the data given above on “industry and agriculture.” It is usual at the lower stage of capitalism which we are reviewing for the industrialist still to be scarcely differentiated from the peasant. The combination of industry with agriculture plays an extremely important part in aggravating and accentuating the differentiation of the peasantry: the prosperous and the well-off peasants open workshops, hire workers from among the rural proletariat, and accumulate money for commercial and usurious transactions. The peasant poor, on the other hand, provide the wage-workers, the handicraftsmen who work for buyers-up, and the bottom groups of petty-master handicraftsmen, those most crushed by the power of merchant’s capital. Thus, the combination of industry with agriculture consolidates and develops capitalist relations, spreading them from industry to agriculture and vice versa.[13] That characteristic feature of capitalist society, the separation of industry from agriculture, manifests itself at this stage in the most rudimentary form, but it does manifest itself and—what is particularly important—in a way totally different from what the Narodniks imagine. When the Narodnik says that industry does no “damage” to agriculture, he discerns damage in the abandonment of agriculture for profitable industry. But such a notion is an invention (and not a deduction from the facts), and a bad invention at that, for it ignores the contradictions which permeate the entire economic system of the peasantry. The separation of industry from agriculture takes place in connection with the differentiation of the peasantry, and does so by different paths at the two poles of the countryside: the well-to-do minority open industrial establishments, enlarge them, improve their farming methods, hire farm labourers to till the land, devote an increasing part of the year to industry, and—at a certain stage of the development of the industry—find it more convenient to separate their industrial from their agricultural undertakings, i.e., to hand over the farm to other members of the family, or to sell farm buildings, animals, etc., and adopt the status of burghers, of merchants.[14] The separation of industry from agriculture is preceded in this case by the formation of entrepreneur relations in agriculture. At the other pole of the countryside the separation of industry from agriculture consists in the fact that the poor peasants are being ruined and turned into wage-workers (industrial and agricultural). At this pole of the countryside it is not the profitableness of industry, but need and ruin, that compels the peasant to abandon the land, and not only the land but also independent industrial labour; here the process of the separation of industry from agriculture is one of the expropriation of the small producer.


[1] See Combined Statistical Material on the Economic Position of the Rural Population, published by the Committee of Ministers, Appendix I: Data of Zemstvo house-to-house investigations, pp. 372-373.—Lenin

[2] It is characteristic that the author of the description of the hat industry “did not observe” even here the differentiation of the peasantry both in agriculture and in industry. Like all Narodniks, he limited himself in his conclusions to the absolutely vapid banality that “industry does not prevent one from engaging in agriculture” (Industries of Moscow Gubernia, VI, I, p. 231) The social and economic contradictions both in the system of industry and in the system of agriculture were thus safely passed over.—Lenin

[3] Transactions of the Handicraft Commission, III, 57, 112; VIII, 1354; IX, 1931, 2093, 2185.—Lenin

[4] Industries of Vladimir Gubernia, III, 187, 190.—Lenin

[5] Industries of Moscow Gubernia, loc. cit.—Lenin

[6] Transactions of the Handicraft Commission, III, 38, and foll. The figures are approximate and have been arrived at on the author’s estimate as to how long the family’s own grain suffices.—Lenin

[7] "*" DUPLICATE (see above footnote).

[8] See Yuridichesky Vestnik [The Legal Messenger ], 1883, Vol. XIV, Nos. 11 and 12.—Lenin

[9] How near Mr. Kharizomonov was to drawing such a conclusion may be seen from the following description of post-Reform economic development which he gives in speaking of the silk trade: “Serfdom evened out the economic level of the peasantry: it tied the hands of the rich peasant, sustained the poor peasant and prevented the family division of property. Natural economy narrowed too much the arena for commercial and industrial activity. The local market did not provide sufficiently wide scope for enterprise. The peasant merchant or industrialist accumulated money—without risk, it is true, but very slowly—accumulated it and put it away in his chest. Beginning with the 60s conditions change. Serfdom comes to an and, credit and the railways, by creating an extensive and distant market, provide scope for the enterprising peasant merchant and industrialist. All those who have been above the average economic level quickly get on their feet, develop trade and industry and extend their exploiting activities quantitatively and qualitatively. All those who have been below that level fall, sink, drop into the ranks of the landless, the non-farming, the horseless. The peasantry split up into the groups of kulaks, semi-prosperous peasants and farmless proletariat. The kulak element of the peasantry rapidly copy all the habits of a cultured milieu;name=p374> they live in grand style, and from them a huge class is formed of the semi-cultured sections of Russian society” (III, 20, 21).[15]Lenin

[10] Mr. V. V. confines himself to the same sort of phrases in dealing with this subject in Chapter VIII of his Essays on Handicraft Industry. “Farming . . . is sustained by industry” (205). “Handicraft industries are one of the most reliable mainstays of agriculture in the industrial gubernias” (219). Proof? Any amount: take, for example, the master tanners, starch-makers, oil-millers (ibid., 224), etc, and you will find that their farming is on a higher level than that of the masses!—Lenin

[11] See present edition, Vol. 2, The Handicraft Census of 1894-95 in Perm Gubernia.—Ed.

[12] Sources are indicated above. The same thing is revealed by the household censuses of the basket-makers, guitar-makers and starch-makers in Moscow Gubernia. The Perm handicraft census also mentions the longer working period of the large workshops (see Sketch of Handicraft Industry in Perm Gubernia, p. 78. No precise data, unfortunately, are given).—Lenin

[13] For instance, in the woollen trade of Vladimir Gubernia the big “factory owners” and subcontractors are distinguished by the fact of their farming being on the highest level. “During periods of stagnation in production the subcontractors try to buy estates, to engage in farming, and to give up industry altogether” (Industries of Vladimir Gubernia, II, 131). This instance is worth noting, since facts of this kind sometimes lead the Narodniks to conclude that “the peasants are going back to agriculture,” that the “exiles from the soil must be restored to the land” (Mr. V. V. in Vestnik Yevropy, No. 7, 1884).—Lenin

[14] “The peasants explained that latterly some of the prosperous master industrialists had moved to Moscow to carry on their business.” The Brush Industry According to the Investigation of 1895, p. 5.—Lenin

[15] Industries of Vladimir Gubernia, Vol. III, an investigation by S. Kharizomenov, Moscow, 1882, pp. 20-21. [p. 374]

  VI. Merchant’s Capital in the Small Industries | VIII. “The Combination Of Industry With Agriculture”  

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