Vladimir Ilyich Lenin


Chapter VIII. The Formation of the Home Market

We now have to sum up the data examined in the preceding chapters and to try to give an idea of the interdependence of the various spheres of the national economy in their capitalist development.

I. The Growth of Commodity Circulation

It is well known that commodity circulation precedes commodity production and constitutes one of the conditions (but not the sole condition) of the rise of the latter. In the present work we have confined ourselves to an examination of data on commodity and capitalist production, and for that reason do not intend to deal in detail with the important problem of the growth of commodity circulation in post-Reform Russia. In order to give a general idea of how rapidly the home market has grown, the following brief data will suffice.

The length of the Russian railway system increased from 3,819 kilometres in 1865 to 29,063 km. in 1890,[1] i.e., more than 7-fold. Similar progress was made by Britain in a longer period (1845–4,082 km.; 1875–26,819 km., a 6-fold increase), by Germany in a shorter period (1845– 2,143 km.; 1875–27,981 km., a 12-fold increase). The length of new railway opened per year differed considerably in different periods; for example, in the 5 years 1868-1872 8,806 versts of new railway were opened and in the 5 years 1878-1882, only 2,221.[2] The extent of this fluctuation enables us to judge what an enormous reserve army of unemployed is required by capitalism, which now expands, and then contracts the demand for labour. There have been two boom periods in railway development in Russia: the end of the 60s (and the beginning of the 70s), and the latter half of the 90s. From 1865 to 1875, the average annual increase in the length of the Russian railway system was 1,500 kilometres, and from 1893 to 1897, about 2,500 kilometres.

The amount of railway freight carried was as follows: 1868–439 million poods; 1873—1,117 million poods; 1881—2,532 million poods; 1893—4,846 million poods; 1896—6,145 million poods; 1904— 11,072 million poods. No less rapid has been the growth of passenger traffic: 1868—10.4 million passengers; 1873–22.7; 1881–34.4; 1893—49.4; 1896— 65.5; 1904—123.6 million.[3]

The development of water transport is as follows (data for the whole of Russia):[4]

Development of water transport

The amount of freight carried on inland waterways in European Russia in 1881 was 899.7 million poods; in 1893—1,181.5 million poods; in 1896—1,553 million poods. The value of these freights was 186.5 million rubles; 257.2 million rubles; 290 million rubles.

Russia’s merchant marine in 1868 consisted of 51 steamers with a capacity of 14,300 lasts,[12] and of 700 sailing ships with a capacity of 41,800 lasts; and in 1896 of 522 steamers with a capacity of 161,600 lasts.[5]

The development of mercantile shipping at all ports on the outer seas was as follows: during the five years 1856-1860 the number of homeward plus outward bound vessels averaged 18,901, with a total capacity of 3,783,000 tons; for the period 1886-1890 it averaged 23,201 vessels (+23%) with a total capacity of 13,845,000 tons (+266%). Capacity, therefore, increased 3 2/3 times. In 39 years (from 1856 to 1894) capacity grew 5.5-fold, and if we take Russian and foreign vessels separately, it is seen that during these 39 years the number of the former grew 3.4-fold (from 823 to 2,789), while their capacity grew 12.1-fold (from 112,800 tons to 1,368,000 tons), whereas the number of the latter grew by 16% (from 18,284 to 21,160) and their capacity 5.3-fold (from 3,448,000 tons to 18,267,000 tons).[6] Let us remark that the capacity of homeward and outward bound vessels also fluctuates very considerably from year to year (e.g., 1878—13 million tons; 1881—8.6 million tons), and these fluctuations enable us to gauge in part the fluctuations in the demand for unskilled labourers, dockers, etc. Here, too, capitalism requires the existence of a mass of people always in want of work and ready at the first call to accept it, however casual it may be.

The development of foreign trade can be seen from the following data:[7]

Development of foreign trade

The following data give a general idea of the volume of bank turnover and capital accumulation. Total withdrawals from the State Bank rose from 113 million rubles in 1860-1863 (170 million rubles in 1864-1868) to 620 million rubles in 1884-1888, and total deposits on current account from 335 million rubles in 1864-1868 to 1,495 million rubles in 1884–1888.[8] The turnover of loan and savings societies and banks (rural and industrial) grew from 2 3/4 million rubles in 1872 (21.8 million rubles in 1875) to 82.6 million rubles in 1892., and 189.6 million rubles in 1903.[9] Mortgages increased from 1889 to 1894 as follows: the assessment of mortgaged land rose from 1,395 million rubles to 1,827 million rubles, and total loans from 791 million rubles to 1,044 million rubles.[10] The operations of savings banks grew particularly in the 80s and 90s. In 1880 there were 75 savings banks, in 1897—4,315 (of which 3,454 were post-office banks). In 1880, deposits amounted to 4.4 million rubles, in 1897 to 276.6 million rubles. Balance on account at the end of the year totalled 9.0 million rubles in 1880, and 494.3 million rubles in 1897. The annual capital increase is particularly striking in the famine years 1891 and 1892 (52.9 and 50.5 million rubles), and in the last two years (1896—51.6 million rubles; 1897—65.5 mil lion rubles).[11]

The latest statistics show an even greater development of the savings banks. In 1904, over the whole of Russia there were 6,557 savings banks with 5.1 million depositors and total deposits of 1,105.5 million rubles. Incidentally, in this country both the old Narodniks and the new opportunists in the socialist movement have frequently been very na\"ive (to put it mildly) in talking about the increase in the number of savings banks constituting a sign of the “people’s” well-being. It will perhaps not be out of place, therefore, to compare the distribution of savings-bank deposits in Russia (1904) with that of France (1900. Information from Bulletin de l’Office du travail, 1901, No. 10).


What a wealth of material there is here for Narodnik-Revisionist-Cadet apologists! It is interesting, in passing, to note that in Russia deposits are also divided into 12 groups according to the occupations and professions of depositors. It appears that the largest sum of deposits—228.5 million rubles—is that of persons engaged in agriculture and rural industries, and these deposits are growing with particular rapidity. The village is becoming civilised, and to make the muzhik’s ruin a source of business is becoming increasingly profitable.

But let us return to our immediate theme. As we see, the data indicate an enormous growth of commodity circulation and capital accumulation. How the field for the employment of capital in all branches of the national economy was created and how merchant’s capital was transformed into industrial capital, i.e., was directed into production and created capitalist relationships between those taking part in production, has been shown above.


[1] Uebersichten der Weltwirtschaft (Surveys of World Economy. –Ed.), loc. cit. In 1904 the length was 54,878 kilometres in European Russia (including the Kingdom of Poland, the Caucasus and Finland) and 8,351 in Asiatic Russia. (Note to 2nd edition.—Ed.)—Lenin

[2] V. Mikhailovsky, The Development of the Russian Railway System in Transactions of Free Economic Society, 1898, No. 2.—Lenin

[3] Military Statistical Abstract, 511.– Mr. N.–on, Sketches, appendix to Productive Forces, XVII, p. 67.—Vestnik Finansov, 1898, No. 43.— Yearbook of Russia for 1905, St. Petersburg, 1906.—Lenin

[4] Military Statistical Abstract, 445.— Productive Forces, XVII, 42.—Vestnik Finansov, 1898, No. 44.—Lenin

[5] Military Statistical Abstract, 758, and The Ministry of Finance Yearbook, I, 363.—Productive Forces, XVII, 30.—Lenin

[6] Productive Forces. Russia’s Foreign Trade, p. 56, and foll.—Lenin

[7] Ibid., p. 17. Yearbook of Russia for 1904, St. Petersburg, 1905.—Lenin

[8] Returns for Russia, 1890, CIX.—Lenin

[9] Returns for Russia, 1896. Table CXXVII.—Lenin

[10] Ibid.—Lenin

[11] Vestnik Finansov, 1898, No. 26.—Lenin

[12] Last—a term used on Russian merchant ships: equalled two tons. [p. 554]

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