Vladimir Ilyich Lenin


Chapter V. The First Stages of Capitalism in Industry

VIII. “The Combination Of Industry With Agriculture”

Such is the favourite Narodnik formula with the aid of which Messrs. V. V., N.-on and Co. hope to solve the problem of capitalism in Russia. “Capitalism” separates industry from agriculture; “people’s production” combines them in the typical and normal peasant farm—in this ingenuous contra-position lies a good part of their theory. We are now in a position to sum up as regards the question of how in reality our peasantry “combine industry with agriculture,” since a detailed examination has been made above of the typical relations existing among the agricultural and among the industrial peasantry. Let us enumerate the diverse forms of the “combination of industry with agriculture” to be observed in the economics of Russian peasant farming.

1) Patriarchal (natural) agriculture is combined with domestic industries (i.e., with the working up of raw materials for home consumption) and with corvée service for the landowner.

This form of combining peasant “industries” with agriculture is most typical of the medieval economic regime, of which it is an essential component.[1] In post-Reform Russia all that is left of such patriarchal economy—in which there is as yet absolutely no capitalism, commodity production, or commodity circulation—is vestiges in the shape of the domestic industries of the peasants and labour-service.

2) Patriarchal agriculture is combined with industry in the form of artisan production.

This form of combination is still very close to the preceding one, differing from it only in that here commodity circulation manifests itself—when the artisan is paid in money and appears on the market to purchase tools, raw materials, etc.

3) Patriarchal agriculture is combined with the small-scale production of industrial products for the market, i.e., with commodity production in industry. The patriarchal peasant is transformed into a small commodity-producer, who, as we have shown, tends to the employment of wage-labour, i.e., to capitalist production. A condition for this transformation is now a certain degree of differentiation among the peasantry: we have seen that the small masters and petty masters in industry belong, in the majority of cases, to the prosperous or to the well-off group of peasants. In its turn, the development of small commodity production in industry gives a further impetus to the differentiation of the peasant agriculturists.

4) Patriarchal agriculture is combined with work for hire in industry (and also in agriculture).[2]

This form is a necessary addition to the preceding one: there it is the product that becomes a commodity, here it is labour-power. Small-scale commodity production in industry is necessarily accompanied, as we have seen, by the appearance of wage-workers and of handicraftsmen who work for buyers-up. This form of the “combination of agriculture with industry” is characteristic of all capitalist countries, and one of the most striking features of the post-Reform history of Russia is the extremely rapid and extremely wide incidence of this form.

5) Petty-bourgeois (commercial) agriculture is combined with petty-bourgeois industries (small commodity production in industry, petty trade, etc.).

The difference between this form and the third is that here petty-bourgeois relations embrace not only industry but also agriculture. Being the most typical form of the combination of industry with agriculture in the economy of the small rural bourgeoisie, this form is therefore characteristic of all capitalist countries. The honour of discovering a capitalism without a petty bourgeoisie fell to the Russian Narodnik economists alone.

6) Wage-labour in agriculture is combined with wage-labour in industry. We have already discussed how such a combination of industry and agriculture manifests itself and what it signifies.

Thus, the forms of the “combination of agriculture with industry” among our peasantry are extremely varied: there are those which express the most primitive economic system with the dominance of natural economy; there are those which express a high development of capitalism; there are a whole number of transitional stages between the former and the latter. By confining oneself to general formulas such as: the “combination of industry with agriculture,” or the “separation of industry from agriculture”), one can not advance a single step in explaining the actual process of development of capitalism.


[1] Korsak, in Chapter IV of the book mentioned above, cites historical evidence of the following nature, for example: “the abbot gave out (in the village) flax for spinning”; the peasants were bound to yield to the landowner “work or wares,”—Lenin

[2] As has been shown above, such confusion of terminology prevails in our economic literature and economic statistics that the category peasants’ “industries” is used to cover domestic industry, labour-service, handicrafts, small commodity production, trading, work for hire in industry, work for hire in agriculture, etc. Here is an example of how the Narodniks take advantage of this confusion. Mr. V. V., singing the praises of the “combination of industry with agriculture,” points, in illustration, to the “timber industry” and “unskilled labour”: “He (the peasant) is strong and accustomed to hard work; that is why he can do all kinds of unskilled labour” (Essays on Handicraft Industry, 26). And this sort of fact figures among a heap of others to back the conclusion that: “We observe a protest against the splitting-up of occupations,” “the durability of the organisation of production that arose when natural economy still predominated” (41). Thus, even the conversion of the peasant into a lumberworker and unskilled labourer was passed off, among other things, as evidence of the durability of natural economy!—Lenin

  VII. “Industry And Agriculture” | IX. Some Remarks on the Pre-Capitalist Economy of Our Countryside  

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