Vladimir Ilyich Lenin


Chapter VII. The Development of Large-Scale Machine Industry

VIII. The Distribution of Large-Scale Industry

Besides the concentration of production in very large establishments, the concentration of production in separate factory industrial centres and the different types of factory centres are also important in characterising large-scale machine industry. Unfortunately, our factory statistics not only supply unsatisfactory and incomparable material, but arrange it in a far from adequate manner. For example, in contemporary publications the distribution of industry is shown only by gubernias (and not by towns and uyezds as was done in the best publications of the 60s, which, in addition, illustrated the distribution of factory industry with maps). But in order to present an accurate picture of the distribution of large-scale industry, the data must be taken for separate centres, i.e., for separate towns, industrial settlements, or groups of industrial settlements situated close together; gubernias or uyezds are too big as territorial units.[1] In view of this, we thought it advisable to compute from the Directory for 1879 and 1890 data on the concentration of our factory industry in the most important centres. The table given in the appendix (Appendix III) contains data for 103 factory centres in European Russia, centres in which about half the total number of factory workers are concentrated.[2]

The table shows three main types of factory centres in Russia. 1) The towns. These take first place, being distinguished for the greatest concentration of both workers and establishments. Particularly outstanding in this respect are the large towns. In each of the metropolitan cities (including the suburbs) about 70,000 factory workers are concentrated; Riga has 16,000, Ivanovo-Voznesensk 15,000 and Bogorodsk had 10,000 in 1890; the other towns have fewer than 10,000 each. It is sufficient to take a cursory glance at the official figures on factory workers in several large cities (Odessa—8,600 in 1890, Kiev—6,000, Rostov on-Don—5,700, etc.) to be convinced that these figures are ridiculously low. The instance of St. Petersburg given above shows how many times these figures would have to be multiplied for the correct number of industrial workers in these centres to be obtained. In addition to the towns, the suburbs must also be indicated. The suburbs of large towns are very often big industrial centres, but from the data we possess we have been able to separate only one such centre, the suburbs of St. Petersburg, where in 1890 the number of workers was 18,900. Several of the settlements in the Moscow Uyezd included in our table are also actually suburbs.[3]

The second type of centre is the factory villages, which are particularly numerous in the Moscow, Vladimir and Kostroma gubernias (of the 63 most important rural centres included in our table, 42 are in these gubernias). These centres are headed by the township of Orekhovo-Zuyevo (in the table, Orekhovo and Zuyevo are given separately, but they are actually one centre); as to the number of workers, it comes second only to the capitals (26,800 in 1890).[4] In the three gubernias indicated, as also in the Yaroslavl and Tver gubernias, the majority of the rural factory centres are formed by huge textile mills (cotton-spinning and weaving, linen, wool-weaving, etc.). Formerly, there were almost always work-distributing offices in such villages, i.e., centres of capitalist manufacture, which held sway over masses of neighbouring hand weavers. In those cases where the statistics do not confuse home workers with factory workers, the data on the development of such centres clearly reveal the growth of large-scale machine industry which attracts thousands of peasants from the surrounding areas and transforms them into factory workers. Further, a considerable number of rural factory centres are formed by large mining and metallurgical plants (Kolomna Works in the village of Bobrovo, Yuzovka Works, Bryansk Works, and others); the majority of these are classified under mining, and for that reason were not included in our table. The beet sugar refineries situated in the villages and townships of the south-western gubernias also form quite a number of village factory centres; for our example we have taken one of the largest, the township of Smela, in Kiev Gubernia.

The third type of factory centre is the “handicraft” villages, the largest establishments in which are often classified as “factories and works.” In our table, the villages of Pavlovo, Vorsma, Bogorodskoye and Dubovka serve as examples of such centres. A comparison between the number of factory workers in such centres and the total of their industrial population was made above in the case of Bogorodskoye village.

If we group the centres given in our table according to number of workers in each centre and according to the type of centre (town or village), we get the following data (see next page).

Leading centres of factory industry in European Russia.

The table shows that in 1879 there were 356,000 workers (out of a total of 752,000) concentrated in these 103 centres, while in 1890 there were 451,000 (out of 876,000). Accordingly, the number of workers increased by 26.8%, whereas in the large factories in general (of 100 and more workers) the increase was only 22.2%, while the total number of workers increased over this period by only 16.5%. Thus the workers are being concentrated in the largest centres. In 1879, only 11 centres had over 5,000 workers; in 1890 there were 21. Particularly striking is the increase in the number of centres with from 5,000 to 10,000 workers. This occurred for two reasons: 1) because of the exceptional growth of factory industry in the South (Odessa, Rostov-on-Don, etc.); and 2) because of the growth of the factory villages in the central gubernias.

A comparison between the urban and the rural centres shows that in 1890 the latter embraced about one-third of the total number of workers in the leading centres (152,000 out of 451,000). For the whole of Russia this proportion should be higher, i.e., more than one-third of the factory workers must be outside of the towns. Indeed, all the outstanding urban centres are included in our table, whereas rural centres with several hundred workers each, apart from those we have mentioned, exist in exceedingly large numbers (settlements with glass-works, brickworks, distilleries, beet-sugar refineries, etc.). Mining workers are also to be found mainly outside of towns. One may consider, therefore, that of the total number of factory and mining workers in European Russia not less (and maybe more) than half are to be found outside of towns. This conclusion is very important, for it shows that the industrial population in Russia greatly exceeds the urban population.[5]

If we now turn to the pace at which factory industry develops in urban and in rural centres, we see that it is undoubtedly faster in the latter. The number of urban centres with 1,000 workers and over in the period taken grew very slightly (from 32 to 33), while the number of rural centres in this category grew very considerably (from 38 to 53). The number of workers in the 40 urban centres grew by only 16.1 % (from 257,000 to 299,000), while in the 63 rural centres it grew by 54.7% (from 98,500 to 152,500). The average number of workers per urban centre rose only from 6,400 to 7,500, whereas the average number per rural centre rose from 1,500 to 2,400. Thus, factory industry evidently tends to spread with particular rapidity outside the towns, to create new factory centres and to push them forward faster than the urban centres, and to penetrate deep into remote rural areas that would seem to be isolated from the world of big capitalist enterprises. This supremely important circumstance shows us, firstly, the rapidity with which large-scale machine industry transforms social and economic relationships. What formerly took ages to take shape now springs up in a decade or so. We have only to compare, for instance, the formation of such non-agricultural centres as the “handicraft villages” indicated in the previous chapter—Bogorodskoye, Pavlovo, Kimry, Khoteichi, Velikoye and others—with the process of the establishment of new centres by the modern factory, which at once draws the rural population by the thousands into industrial settlements.[6] Social division of labour receives a tremendous impetus. Mobility of the population replaces the former immobility and isolation as a necessary condition of economic life. Secondly, the transfer of factories into the rural districts shows that capitalism is surmounting the obstacles which the social-estate seclusion of the peasant community creates for it, and is even deriving benefit from this seclusion. While the erection of factories in the countryside involves quite a few inconveniences, it does, however, guarantee a supply of cheap labour. The muzhik is not allowed to go to the factory, so the factory goes to the muzhik.[7] The muzhik lacks complete freedom (thanks to the collective-responsibility system and the obstacles to his leaving the community) to seek the employer who gives the greatest advantage; but the employer has a perfect way of seeking out the cheapest worker. Thirdly, the large number of rural factory centres and their rapid growth proves groundless the opinion that the Russian factory is isolated from the mass of the peasantry, that it exercises little influence over them. The specific character of the distribution of our factory industry shows, on the contrary, that its influence is very widespread, and that it is far from being confined to the walls of the factory.[8] On the other hand, however, this specific character of the distribution of our factory industry cannot but result in a temporary retardation of the transforming influence of large-scale machine industry on the population it employs. By converting the backwoodsman-muzhik into a factory worker at one stroke, the factory may for a time ensure for itself a supply of the cheapest, least developed and least exacting “hands.” It is obvious, however, that such retardation cannot go on for long, and that it is purchased at the price of a still greater expansion of the area subjected to the influence of large-scale machine industry.


[1] “. . . In the uyezds (of Moscow Gubernia) the factories and works are far from evenly distributed: in highly industrialised uyezds side by side with localities which, because of the more or less considerable concentration there of factory establishments, can be called real factory centres, one comes across entire volosts almost wholly devoid of factory industry; and, on the contrary, in uyezds generally poor in factories and works, there are districts with a more or less considerable development of one industry or another; side by side with handicraft cottages and workrooms larger establishments have arisen possessing all the attributes of large-scale production.” (Statistical Returns for Moscow Gubernia, Section of sanitation Statistics, vol. IV, Sec.1, Moscow, 1890, p. 141.) This publication, the best in contemporary factory statistical literature, illustrates the distribution of large-scale industry with the aid of a detailed map. The only thing lacking for a complete picture of the distribution of factory industry is a classification of centres according to the number of factories, workers and total output.—Lenin

[2] The table includes only establishments with a minimum output of 2,000 rubles, and of the flour-mills only the steam-powered ones. Outside workers are excluded wherever it has been stated that they are included among factory workers; such exclusions are indicated by an asterisk (*). The industrial boom of 1879 could not but affect these data, too.—Lenin

[3] “. . . The large village of Cherkizovo in the vicinity of Moscow is, according to the local inhabitants, one large factory, and is a continuation of Moscow in the literal sense of the word. . . . Nearby, beyond the Semyonovskaya Tollgate . . . again a large number of diverse factories are clustered. . . . At no great distance from here we see the village of Izmailovo, with its weaving sheds, and the enormous Izmailovo Textile Mill.” That is to the north of Moscow. To the south, “beyond the Serpukhov Tollgate, what we meet first is the immense Danilov Textile Mill, in itself a whole township. . . . Further on, at no great distance from each other, are a whole ring of large brick works,” etc. (Statistical Returns, IV, Sec. I, pp. 143-144). Thus, the concentration of factory industry is actually more considerable than we were able to indicate in our table.—Lenin

[4] In 1879, only 10,900 were recorded here. Evidently, different methods of registration were employed.—Lenin

[5] The population census of January 28, 1897, fully confirmed this conclusion. The urban population throughout the Empire was given as 16,828,395 persons of both sexes. The commercial and industrial population, as we showed above, is 21.7 millions. (Note to 2nd edition.—Ed.)—Lenin

[6] “In the township of Krivoi Rog the population grew between 1887 and 1896 from 6,000 to 17,000, at the Kamenka Works of the Dnieper Company—from 2,000 to 18,000; near Druzhkovka station, where as late as 1892 there was nothing but station buildings, there is now a settlement of 6,000 people; at the Gdantsevka Works there are nearly 3,500 people; near Konstantinovka station, where a number of works have been erected, a new settlement is being formed; Yuzovka is now a town with a population of 29,000. . . . On the sandy wasteland at Nizhne-Dnieprovsk, near Ekaterinoslav, where a number of factories are now situated, a new settlement has sprung up with a population of 6,000. The works at Mariupol has attracted a new population of 10,000, etc. Populated centres are springing up around the coal mines” (Vestnik Finansov, 1897, No. 50). According to the Russkiye Vedomosti (November 21, 1897, No. 322), the Bakhmut Uyezd Zemstvo Assembly has filed an application for the status of townships to be granted to commercial settlements with a population of 1,000 and the status of towns to those with a population of 5,000. . . . “There is to be observed here . . . an unparalleled growth of commercial and factory settlements. . . . Altogether, there are by now as many as thirty settlements, which have been springing up and growing at a truly American pace. . . . In Volyntsevo, where a huge metallurgical works with 2 blast furnaces, a foundry and a rolling mill is nearing completion and will be started in the beginning of November, there is a population of from 5,000 to 6,000, which has settled on what only recently was almost uninhabited steppe. With the influx of a factory population we also observe an influx of traders, handicraftsmen and small industrialists in general, who anticipate an easy and rapid sale to the working population of all kinds of goods.”—Lenin

[7] “The factory seeks cheap weavers, and finds them in their native villages. . . . The factory must follow the weaver. . . .” (Industries of Vladimir Gubernia, III, 63.)—Lenin

[8] Let us recall the fact cited above (Chapter III, § IV, p. 208, footnote) of the influence exerted by the mining industry in Bakhmut Uyezd, Ekaterinoslav Gubernia, on the local agricultural system.—Characteristic also are the common complaints of landowners about the factories “spoiling” the population.—Lenin

  VII. The Growth of Large Factories | IX. The Development of the Lumber and Building Industries  

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