Vladimir Ilyich Lenin


Chapter VII. The Development of Large-Scale Machine Industry

XII. Three Stages in the Development of Capitalism
in Russian Industry

Let us now sum up the main conclusions to be drawn from the data on the development of capitalism in our industry.[1]

There are three main stages in this development: small commodity-production (small, mainly peasant industries); capitalist manufacture; and the factory (large-scale machine industry). The facts utterly refute the view widespread here in Russia that “factory” and “handicraft” industry are isolated from each other. On the contrary, such a division is purely artificial. The connection and continuity between the forms of industry mentioned is of the most direct and intimate kind. The facts quite clearly show that the main trend of small commodity-production is towards the development of capitalism, in particular, towards the rise of manufacture; and manufacture is growing with enormous rapidity before our very eyes into large-scale machine industry. Perhaps one of the most striking manifestations of the intimate and direct connection between the consecutive forms of industry is the fact that many of the big and even the biggest factory owners were at one time the smallest of small industrialists and passed through all the stages from “popular production” to “capitalism.” Savva Morozov was a peasant serf (he purchased his freedom in 1820), a cowherd, a carter, a worker weaver, a handicraft weaver who used to journey to Moscow on foot in order to sell his goods to buyers-up; then he became the owner of a small establishment, a work-distributing office, a factory. When he died in 1862, he and his numerous sons owned two large factories. In 1890, the 4 factories belonging to his descendants employed 39,000 workers, producing goods to the value of 35 million rubles.[2] In the silk industry of Vladimir Gubernia, a number of big factory owners were formerly worker weavers or “handicraft” weavers.[3] The biggest factory owners in Ivanovo-Voznesensk (the Kuvayevs, Fokins, Zubkovs, Kokushkins, Bobrovs and many others) were formerly handicraftsmen.[4] The brocade factories in Moscow Gubernia all grew out of handicraft workrooms.[5] The factory owner Zavyalov, of Pavlovo district, still had in 1864 “a vivid recollection of the time when he was a plain employee of craftsman Khabarov.”[6] Factory owner Varypayev used to be a small handicrafts man.[7] Kondratov was a handicraftsman who used to walk to Pavlovo carrying his wares in a bag.[8] Millowner Asmolov used to be a pedlars’ horse-driver, then a small trader, then proprietor of a small tobacco workshop, and finally owner of a factory with a turnover of many millions.[9] And so on and so forth. It would be interesting to see how, in these and similar cases, the Narodnik economists would determine where “artificial” capitalism begins and “people’s” industry ends.

The three main forms of industry enumerated above differ first of all in their systems of technique. Small commodity-production is characterised by its totally primitive, hand technique that remained unchanged almost from time immemorial. The small producer in industry remains a peasant who follows tradition in his methods of processing raw material. Manufacture introduces division of labour, which effects a substantial change in technique and transforms the peasant into a factory-hand, a “labourer performing one detailed operation.” But production by hand remains, and, on its basis, progress in methods of production is inevitably very slow. Division of labour springs up spontaneously and is passed on by tradition just as peasant labour is. Large-scale machine industry alone introduces a radical change, throws manual skill overboard, transforms production on new, rational principles, and systematically applies science to production. So long as capitalism in Russia did not organise large-scale machine industry, and in those industries in which it has not done so yet, we see almost complete stagnation in technique, we see the employment of the same hand-loom and the same watermill or windmill that were used in production centuries ago. On the other hand, in industries subordinated to the factory we observe a complete technical revolution and extremely rapid progress in the methods of machine production.

We see that the different stages of the development of capitalism are connected with different systems of technique. Small commodity-production and manufacture are characterised by the prevalence of small establishments, from among which only a few large ones emerge. Large-scale machine industry completely eliminates the small establishments. Capitalist relationships arise in the small industries too (in the form of workshops employing wage-workers and of merchant’s capital), but these are still poorly developed and are not crystallised in sharp oppositions between the groups participating in production. Neither big capital nor extensive proletarian strata as yet exist. In manufacture we see the rise of both. The gulf between the one who owns the means of production and the one who works now becomes very wide. “Wealthy” industrial settlements spring up, the bulk of whose inhabitants are poor working people. A small number of merchants, who do an enormous business buying raw materials and selling finished goods, and a mass of detail workers living from hand to mouth—such is the general picture of manufacture. But the multitude of small establishments, the retention of the tie with the land, the adherence to tradition in production and in the whole manner of living— all this creates a mass of intermediary elements between the extremes of manufacture and retards the development of these extremes. In large-scale machine industry all these retarding factors disappear; the acuteness of social contradictions reaches the highest point. All the dark sides of capitalism become concentrated, as it were: the machine, as we know, gives a tremendous impulse to the greatest possible prolongation of the working day; women and children are drawn into industry; a reserve army of unemployed is formed (and must be formed by virtue of the conditions of factory production), etc. However, the socialisation of labour effected on a vast scale by the factory, and the transformation of the sentiments and conceptions of the people it employs (in particular, the destruction of patriarchal and petty-bourgeois traditions) cause a reaction: large-scale machine industry, unlike the preceding stages, imperatively calls for the planned regulation of production and public control over it (a manifestation of the latter tendency is factory legislation).[10]

The very character of the development of production changes at the various stages of capitalism. In the small industries this development follows in the wake of the development of peasant economy; the market is extremely narrow, the distance between the producer and the consumer is short, and the insignificant scale of production easily adapts itself to the slightly fluctuating local demand. That is why industry at this stage is characterised by the greatest stability, but this stability is tantamount to stagnation in technique and the preservation of patriarchal social relationships tangled up with all sorts of survivals of medieval traditions. The manufactories work for a big market— sometimes for the whole country—and, accordingly, production acquires the instability characteristic of capitalism, an instability which attains the greatest intensity under factory production. Large-scale machine industry can only develop in spurts, in alternating periods of prosperity and of crisis. The ruin of small producers is tremendously accelerated by this spasmodic growth of the factory; the workers are drawn into the factory in masses during a boom period, and are then thrown out. The formation of a vast reserve army of unemployed, ready to undertake any kind of work, becomes a condition for the existence and development of large-scale machine industry. In Chapter II we showed from which strata of the peasantry this army is recruited, and in subsequent chapters we indicated the main types of occupations for which capital keeps these reserves ready. The “instability” of large-scale machine industry has always evoked, and continues to evoke, reactionary complaints from individuals who continue to look at things through the eyes of the small producer and who forget that it is this “instability” alone that replaced the former stagnation by the rapid transformation of methods of production and of all social relationships.

One of the manifestations of this transformation is the separation of industry from agriculture, the liberation of social relations in industry from the traditions of the feudal and patriarchal system that weigh down on agriculture. In small commodity-production the industrialist has not yet emerged at all from his peasant shell; in the majority of cases he remains a farmer, and this connection between small industry and small agriculture is so profound that we observe the interesting law of the parallel differentiation of the small producers in industry and in agriculture. The formation of a petty bourgeoisie and of wage-workers proceeds simultaneously in both spheres of the national economy, thereby preparing the way, at both poles of differentiation, for the industrialist to break with agriculture. Under manufacture this break is already very considerable. A whole number of industrial centres arise that do not engage in agriculture. The chief representative of industry is no longer the peasant, but the merchant and the manufactory owner on the one hand, and the “artisan” on the other. Industry and the relatively developed commercial intercourse with the rest of the world raise the standard of living and the culture of the population; the peasant is now regarded with disdain by the manufactory workman. Large-scale machine industry completes this transformation, separates industry from agriculture once and for all, and, as we have seen, creates a special class of the population totally alien to the old peasantry and differing from the latter in its manner of living, its family relationships and its higher standard of requirements, both material and spiritual.[11] In the small industries and in manufacture we always find survivals of patriarchal relations and of diverse forms of personal dependence, which, in the general conditions of capitalist economy, exceedingly worsen the condition of the working people, and degrade and corrupt them. Large-scale machine industry, which concentrates masses of workers who often come from various parts of the country, absolutely refuses to tolerate survivals of patriarchalism and personal dependence, and is marked by a truly “contemptuous attitude to the past.” It is this break with obsolete tradition that is one of the substantial conditions which have created the possibility and evoked the necessity of regulating production and of public control over it. In particular, speaking of the transformation brought about by the factory in the conditions of life of the population, it must be stated that the drawing of women and juveniles into production[12] is, at bottom, progressive. It is indisputable that the capitalist factory places these categories of the working population in particularly hard conditions, and that for them it is particularly necessary to regulate and shorten the working day, to guarantee hygienic conditions of labour, etc.; but endeavours completely to ban the work of women and juveniles in industry, or to maintain the patriarchal manner of life that ruled out such work, would be reactionary and utopian. By destroying the patriarchal isolation of these categories of the population who formerly never emerged from the narrow circle of domestic, family relationships, by drawing them into direct participation in social production, large-scale machine industry stimulates their development and increases their independence, in other words, creates conditions of life that are incomparably superior to the patriarchal immobility of pre-capitalist relations.[13]

The settled character of the population is typical of the first two stages of industrial development. The small industrialist, remaining a peasant, is bound to his village by his farm. The artisan under manufacture is usually tied to the small, isolated industrial area which is created by manufacture. In the very system of industry at the first and second stages of its development there is nothing to disturb this settled and isolated condition of the producer. Intercourse between the various industrial areas is rare. The transfer of industry to other areas is due only to the migration of individual small producers, who establish new small industries in the outlying parts of the country. Large-scale machine industry, on the other hand, necessarily creates mobility of the population; commercial intercourse between the various districts grows enormously; railways facilitate travel. The demand for labour increases on the whole—rising in periods of boom and falling in periods of crisis, so that it becomes a necessity for workers to go from one factory to another, from one part of the country to another. Large-scale machine industry creates a number of new industrial centres, which grow up with unprecedented rapidity, sometimes in unpopulated places, a thing that would be impossible without the mass migration of workers. Further on we shall speak of the dimensions and the significance of the so-called outside non-agricultural industries. At the moment we shall limit ourselves to a brief presentation of Zemstvo sanitation statistics for Moscow Gubernia. An inquiry among 103,175 factory workers showed that 53,238, or 51.6% of the total, were born in the uyezd in which they worked. Hence, nearly half the workers had migrated from one uyezd to another. The number of workers who were born in Moscow Gubernia was 66,038, or 64%.[14] More than a third of the workers came from other gubernias (chiefly from gubernias of the central industrial zone adjacent to Moscow Gubernia). A comparison of the different uyezds shows the most highly industrialised ones to be marked by the lowest percentage of locally-born workers. For example, in the poor]y industrialised Mozhaisk and Volokolamsk uyezds from 92 to 93% of the factory workers are natives of the uyezd where they work. In the very highly industrialised Moscow, Kolomna and Bogorodsk uyezds the percentage of locally born workers drops to 24%, 40% and 50%. From this the investigators draw the conclusion that “the considerable development of factory production in an uyezd encourages the influx of outside elements.”[15] These facts show also (let us add) that the movement of industrial workers bears the same features that we observed in the movement of agricultural workers. That is to say, industrial workers, too, migrate not only from localities where there is a surplus of labour, but also from those where there is a shortage. For example, the Bronnitsi Uyezd attracts 1,125 workers from other uyezds of Moscow Gubernia and from other gubernias, while at the same time providing 1,246 workers for the more highly industrialised Moscow and Bogorodsk uyezds. Hence, workers leave not only because they do not find “local occupations at hand,” but also because they make for the places where conditions are better. Elementary as this fact is, it is worth while giving the Narodnik economists a further reminder of it, for they idealise local occupations and condemn migration to industrial districts, ignoring the progressive significance of the mobility of the population created by capitalism.

The above-described characteristic features which distinguish large-scale machine industry from the preceding forms of industry may be summed up in the words—socialisation of labour. Indeed, production for an enormous national and international market, development of close commercialties with various parts of the country and with different countries for the purchase of raw and auxiliary materials, enormous technical progress, concentration of production and of the population in colossal enterprises, demolition of the worn-out traditions of patriarchal life, creation of mobility of the population, and improvement of the worker’s standard of requirements and his development—all these are elements of the capitalist process which is increasingly socialising production in the country, and with it those who participate in production.[16]

On the problem of the relation of large-scale machine industry in Russia to the home market for capitalism, the data given above lead to the following conclusion. The rapid development of factory industry in Russia is creating an enormous and ever-growing market for means of production (building materials, fuel, metals, etc.) and is increasing with particular rapidity the part of the population engaged in making articles of productive and not personal consumption. But the market for articles of personal consumption is also growing rapidly, owning to the growth of large-scale machine industry, which is diverting an increasingly large part of the population from agriculture into commercial and industrial occupations. As for the home market for factory-made products, the process of the formation of that market was examined in detail in the early chapters of this book.


[1] Confining ourselves, as stated in the preface, to the post-Reform period, we leave aside the forms of industry that were based on the labour of the serf population.—Lenin

[2] Industries of Vladimir Gubernia, IV, 5-7. —Directory for 1890.—Shishmaryov: A Brief Sketch of Industry in the Region of the Nizhni-Novgorod and Shuya-Ivanow Railways, St. Petersburg, 1892, pp. 28-32.—Lenin

[3] Industries of Vladimir Gubernia, III, p. 7 and foll.—Lenin

[4] Shishmaryov, 56-62.—Lenin

[5] Statistical Returns for Moscow Gubernia, Vol. VII, Pt. III, Moscow, 1883, pp. 27-28.—Lenin

[6] A. Smirnov, Pavlovo and Vorsma, p. 14.—Lenin

[7] Labzin, loc. cit., p. 66.—Lenin

[8] Grigoryev, loc. cit., p. 36.—Lenin

[9] Historico-Statistical Survey, Vol. II, p. 27.—Lenin

[10] On the connection between factory legislation and the conditions and relationships brought into being by large-scale machine industry, see Mr. Tugan-Baranovsky’s book, The Russian Factory, Chapter II, Part 2, and especially the article in Novoye Slovo of July 1897.—Lenin

[11] Regarding the “factory hand” type cf. above, Chapter VI, § II, 5, pp. 404-405.— Also Statistical Returns for Moscow Gubernia, Vol VII, Pt. III, Moscow, 1883, p. 58 (the factory hand is a moralist, a “smart alec”).— Nizhni-Novgorod Handbook, I, pp. 42-43- Vol. IV, p. 335.— Industries of Vladimir Gubernia, III, 113-114 and elsewhere.— Novoye Slovo, Oct. 1897, p. 63.—Cf. also the above-mentioned works of Mr. Zhbankov which describe the workers who go off to the towns to commercial and industrial occupations.—Lenin

[12] According to the Directory, the factories and works of European Russia in 1890 employed a total of 875,764 workers of whom 210,207 (24%) were women, 17,793 (2%) boys, and 8,216 (1%) girls.—Lenin

[13] “The poor woman-weaver follows her father and husband to the factory and works alongside of them and independently of them. She is as much a breadwinner as the man is.” “In the factory . . . the woman is quite an independent producer, apart from her husband.” Literacy spreads among the women factory workers with remarkable rapidity. (Industries of Vladimir Gubernia, III, 113, 118, 112 and elsewhere.) Mr. Kharizomenov is perfectly right in drawing the following conclusion: industry destroys “the economic dependence of the woman on the family . . . and on the husband. . . . At the factory, the woman is the equal of the man; this is the equality of the proletarian. . . . The capitalisation of industry is an important factor in woman’s struggle for her independence in the family.” “Industry creates a new position for the woman in which she is completely independent of her family and husband.” (Yuridichesky Vestnik, 1883, No. 12, pp. 582, 596.) In the Statistical Returns for Moscow Gubernia (Vol. VII, Pt. II, Moscow, 1882, pp. 152, 138-139), the investigators compare the position of women engaged in making stockings by hand and by machine. The daily earnings of hand workers are about 8 kopeks, and of machine workers, 14 to 30 kopeks. The working woman’s conditions under machine production are described as follows: “. . . Before us is a free young woman, hampered by no obstacles, emancipated from the family and from all that constitutes the peasant woman’s conditions of life, a young woman who at any moment may leave one place for another, one employer for another, and may at any moment find herself without a job . . . without a crust of bread. . . . Under hand production, the knitter’s earnings are very meagre, insufficient to cover the cost of her food, earnings only acceptable if she, as a member of an allotment-holding and farming family, enjoys in part the product of that land; under machine production the working woman, in addition to food and tea, gets earnings which enable . . . her to live away from the family and to do without the family’s income from the land. . . . Moreover, the woman worker’s earnings in machine industry, under present conditions, are more secure.”—Lenin

[14] In the less industrialised Smolensk Gubernia, an inquiry among 5,000 factory workers showed that 80% of them were natives of that gubernia (Zhbankov, loc. cit., II, 442).—Lenin

[15] Statistical Returns for Moscow Gubernia, Sanitary Statistical Section, Vol. IV, Sec. I (Moscow, 1890), p. 240.—Lenin

[16] The data quoted in the last three chapters show, in our opinion, that the classification of the capitalist forms and stages of industry given by Marx is more correct and sound than the now current classification which confuses the manufactory with the factory and regards working for a buyer-up as a special form of industry (Held, B\"ucher). To confuse the manufactory with the factory is to make purely superficial features the basis for classification and to ignore the essential features of technique, economy and social life which distinguish manufacture from the machine period of capitalism. As to capitalist domestic industry, it undoubtedly plays a very important part in the mechanism of capitalist industry. Just as undoubtedly, work for the buyer-up is particularly characteristic of pre-machine capitalism; but it is also to be met with (and on no small scale) in the most diverse periods of capitalist development. The significance of work for the buyer-up is not to be understood unless studied in connection with the whole structure of industry in the given period, or at the given stage of capitalist development. The peasant who weaves baskets to the order of the village shopkeeper, the Pavlovo artisan who makes knife-handles in his home to the order of Zavyalov, the woman worker who makes clothes, footwear, gloves or boxes to the order of big mill owners or merchants—all work for buyers-up, but in all these instances capitalist domestic industry bears a different character and has a different significance. We do not, of course, in the least deny the merits of B\"ucher, for example, in studying pre-capitalist forms of industry, but we think his classification of capitalist forms of industry is wrong.—We cannot agree with the views of Mr. Struve (see Mir Bozhy, 1898, No. 4) inasmuch as he adopts B\"ucher’s theory (in the part mentioned) and applies it to Russian “handicraftism.” (Since these lines were written, in 1899, Mr. Struve has managed to complete the cycle of his scientific and political development. From a person oscillating between B\"ucher and Marx, between liberal and socialist economics, he has become a liberal bourgeois of the purest water. The writer of these lines is proud of having helped, as far as has been in his power, to purge Social-Democracy of such elements. (Note to 2nd edition.—Ed.)—Lenin

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