Vladimir Ilyich Lenin


Chapter VII. The Development of Large-Scale Machine Industry

XI. The Complete Separation of Industry
From Agriculture

The complete separation of industry from agriculture is effected only by large-scale machine industry. The Russian facts fully confirm this thesis, which was established by the author of Capital for other countries,[1] but which is usually ignored by the Narodnik economists. Mr. N.–on in his Sketches talks in and out of season about “the separation of industry from agriculture,” without, however, taking the trouble to examine, on the basis of precise data, how this process is actually taking place and what different forms it assumes. Mr. V. V. points to the connection of our industrial worker with the land (in manufacture ; our author does not think it necessary to distinguish the various stages of capitalism, although he pretends he is following the theory of the author of Capital !) and declaims in this regard about the “shameful (sic !) dependence” “of our (author’s italics) capitalist industry” upon the worker farmer, etc. (Destiny of Capitalism, p. 114 and others). Mr. V. V. has apparently not heard, or has forgotten if he has beard, that not only in “our country” but everywhere in the West, capitalism failed to bring about the complete separation of the workers from the land before large-scale machine industry was established. Finally, Mr. Kablukov has quite recently presented his students with the following amazing distortion of the facts: “Whereas in the West work in the factory is the sole means of livelihood for the worker, in our country, with relatively few exceptions (sic !!!), the worker regards work in the factory as a subsidiary occupation, he is more attracted to the land.”[2]

A factual analysis of this question has been made in Mr. Dementyev’s essay on the “factory workers’ connection with agriculture” in the Moscow sanitary statistics.[3] Systematically collated statistics embracing about 20,000 workers have shown that only 14.1% of the factory workers leave for agricultural employment. But far more important is the fact, proved in the greatest detail in the work mentioned, that it is precisely machine production that divorces the workers from the land. Of a whole series of figures quoted in proof of this fact we select the following most striking ones.[4]

Per cent leaving for work in fields.

We have supplemented the author’s table by dividing 8 of the trades into those carried on by hand and those by machinery. As regards the ninth, felt cloth production, let us note that it is conducted partly by hand and partly by machinery. Of the weavers in hand-loom factories about 63% leave for field-work, while of those working on power-looms not one leaves; of the workers in departments of cloth mills that are mechanised 3.3% leave. “Thus, the most important reason for factory workers breaking their ties with the land is the transition from hand to machine production. Despite the still relatively considerable number of factories with hand production, the number of workers employed in them, as compared with the number in factories with machine production, is quite negligible, that is why, of those who leave for field-work, we get proportions as small as 14.1% of adult workers in general and 15.4% of adult workers belonging exclusively to the peasant social estate.”[5] Let us recall that the returns of the sanitary inspection of factories in Moscow Gubernia gave the following figures: mechanical factories, 22.6% of the total (including 18.4% using steam-engines); in these, 80.7% of the total number of workers are concentrated. Hand-labour factories constitute 69.2%, employing only 16.2% of the total number of workers. At the 244 mechanised factories there are 92,302 workers (378 workers per factory), while at the 747 hand labour factories there are 18,520 workers (25 workers per factory).[6] We have shown above the considerable concentration of all Russian factory workers in the largest enterprises, mostly mechanised, which have an average of 488 and more workers per establishment. Mr. Dementyev has studied in detail the influence of the workers’ place of birth on their separation from the land, differences between local-born and migrant workers, differences in social estate (burgher or peasant), etc., and it turned out that all these differences are eclipsed by the influence of the main factor: the transition from hand to machine production.[7] “Whatever causes may have helped to turn the former cultivator into a factory worker, these special workers already exist. They are merely counted as peasants, but their only connection with the village is by way of the taxes they pay when renewing their passports, for actually they have no farm in the village, and very often not even a house, which has usually been sold. Even their right to land they retain only juridically, so to speak, and the disorders that took place in 1885-1886 at many factories showed that these workers themselves feel totally alien to the village, just as the peasants in their turn regard them, offspring of their fellow-villagers, as strangers. We are consequently faced with an already crystallised class of workers, possessing no homes of their own and virtually no property, a class bound by no ties and living from hand to mouth. And its origin does not date from yesterday. It has its factory genealogy, and a fairly large section of it is already in its third generation.”[8] Lastly, interesting material on the separation of the factory from agriculture is provided by the latest factory statistics. The List of Factories and Works (data for 1894-95) gives information on the number of days in the year during which each factory operates. Mr. Kasperov hastened to use these data in support of the Narodnik theories when he calculated that “on the average, the Russian factory works 165 days a year,” that “35% of the factories in this country work less than 200 days a year.”[9] It goes without saying that in view of the vagueness of the term “factory,” such overall figures are practically valueless, since they do not indicate how many workers are employed for specific numbers of days in the year. We have computed the appropriate figures of the List for those large factories (with 100 and more workers) which, as we have seen above (§ VII), employ about 3/4 of the total number of factory workers. It turns out that the average number of working days per year in the different categories was as follows: A) 242; B) 235; C) 273,[10] and for all the large factories, 244. If we calculate the average number of working days per worker we will get 253 working days per year as the average number per worker of a large factory. Of the 12 sections into which the various trades are divided in the List, only in one is the average number of working days, for the bottom categories, below 200, namely in section XI (food products): A) 189; B) 148; C) 280. Factories in categories A and B in this section employ 110,588 workers, which is 16.2% of the total number of workers in the large factories (655,670). We would point out that this section combines quite diverse trades, e.g., beet-sugar and tobacco, distilling and flour-milling, etc. For the remaining sections the average number of working days per factory is as follows: A) 259; B) 271; C) 272. Thus, the larger the factories the greater the number of days they operate in the course of the year. The general data for all the biggest factories in European Russia, therefore, confirm the conclusions of the Moscow sanitary statistical returns and prove that the factory creates a class of permanent factory workers.

So then, the data on Russian factory workers fully confirm the theory of Capital that it is large-scale machine industry that brings about a complete and definite revolution in the conditions of life of the industrial population, separating it once and for all from agriculture and from the century-old traditions of patriarchal life connected with it. But, by destroying patriarchal and petty-bourgeois relationships, large-scale machine industry creates, on the other hand, conditions which draw wage-workers in agriculture and industry closer together: firstly, it introduces into the rural districts generally the commercial and industrial way of life which has first arisen in the non-agricultural centres; secondly, it creates mobility of the population and large markets for the hiring of both agricultural and industrial workers; thirdly, by introducing machinery into agriculture, large-scale machine industry brings into the rural districts skilled industrial workers, distinguished for their higher standard of living.


[1] Das Kapital, I2, S. 779-780.[11]Lenin

[2] Lectures on Agricultural (sic !) Economics, edition for students, Moscow, 1897, p, 13. Perhaps our learned statistician thinks that we may regard as “relatively few exceptions” 85% of all cases (see further in text)?—Lenin

[3] Statistical Returns for Moscow Gubernia, Section of Sanitation Statistics, Vol. IV, Sec. II, Moscow, 1893. Reprinted in Mr. Dementyev’s well-known work: The Factory, etc.—Lenin

[4] Statistical Returns, loc. cit., p. 292. The Factory, 2nd ed., p. 36.—Lenin

[5] Returns, p. 280. The Factory, p. 26.—Lenin

[6] Returns, Vol. IV, Sec. I, pp. 167, 170, 177.—Lenin

[7] Mr, Zhbankov, in his Sanitary Investigation of Factories and Works of Smolensk Gubernia (Smolensk, 1894-1896), estimates the number of workers who leave for field-work at approximately a mere 10 to 15% at the Yartsevo Textile Mill only (Vol II, pp. 307, 445, in 1893-1894 the Yartsevo Mill employed 3,106 out of the 8,810 factory workers in Smolensk Gubernia). Of the men 28% (average for all factories, 29%) and of the women 18.6% (average for all factories, 21%) employed in this factory were casual workers, (See Vol. II, p. 469.) It should be noted that the casual workers include 1) those employed at the factory for less than a year; 2) those who leave for summer work in the fields, 3) those “who for various reasons ceased work at the factory for several years” (II, 445).—Lenin

[8] Returns, p. 296. The Factory, pp. 44-46.—Lenin

[9] Statistical Summary of Russia’s Industrial Development. A paper read by M. 1. Tugan-Baranovsky, member of the Free Economic Society, and the debate on this paper at the sessions of section III. St. Petersburg, 1898, p. 41.—Lenin

[10] Let us recall that category A includes factories with 100 to 499 workers, B, with 500 to 999, and C, with 1,000 and more.—Lenin

[11] Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, pp. 747-749. [p. 536]

  X. The Appendage to the Factory | XII. Three Stages in the Development of Capitalism in Russian Industry  

Works Index   |   Volume 3 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index
< backward   forward >