Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

The Development of Capitalism in Russia

The Process of the Formation of a Home Market for Large-Scale Industry

Written: 1896-1899.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th Edition, Moscow, 1964, Volume 3, pp. 21-608
Publisher: Progress Publishers
First Published: First printed in book form at the end of March 1899. Published according to the text of the second edition, 1908.
Original Transcription & Markup: R. Cymbala (2000)
Re-Marked up by: K. Goins (2008)
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2000). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


Preface To the First Edition
Preface To the Second Edition
Chapter I. The Theoretical Mistakes of the Narodnik Economists
Chapter II. The Differentiation of the Peasantry
Chapter III. The Landowners’ Transition from Corvée to Capitalist Economy
Chapter IV. The Growth of Commercial Agriculture
Chapter V. The First Stages of Capitalism in Industry
Chapter VI. Capitalist Manufacture and Capitalist Domestic Industry
Chapter VII. The Development of Large-Scale Machine Industry
Chapter VIII. The Formation of the Home Market
Appendices to “The Development of Capitalism in Russia”



Lenin’s book The Development of Capitalism in Russia was the result of tremendous research lasting more than three years. Lenin began intensive work on his book when in prison, soon after his arrest in connection with the case of the St. Petersburg “League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class,” and finished it in the village of Shushenskoye where he lived in exile. He had, however, been gathering material for his book long before he began writing it.

In his first letter from prison, dated January 2, 1896, Lenin wrote: “I have a plan that has occupied my mind considerably ever since I was arrested, increasingly so as time passes. I have long been engaged on an economic problem (that of the marketing of the products of manufacturing industry within the country), have selected some literature, drawn up a plan for its analysis and have even done some writing with a view to having my work published in book form, should its dimensions exceed those of a magazine article. I should be very unwilling to give up on the job, and am now, apparently, faced with the alternative of either writing it here or of abandoning it altogether.” (See present edition, Vol. 37)

In the same letter, in addition to giving instructions about books to be obtained according to a list he had drawn up, Lenin unfolded his plan of work:

“The list of books,” he wrote, “is divided into the two parts into which my book is divided. A–The general theoretical part. This requires fewer books, so that, in any case, I hope to write it. although it needs more preparatory work. B–The application of the theoretical principles to Russian facts. This part requires very many books. The chief difficulty will be: 1) Zemstvo publications. Part of them, by the way, I already have, but another part (small monographs) may be ordered, and a part may be obtained through statisticians I know; 2) Government publications–the papers of commissions, reports and minutes of congresses, etc. These are important, but they are more difficult to obtain. Some of them, even the majority, I think, are in the library of the Free Economic Society. (See present edition, Vol. 37)

Lenin’s sister, A. I. Ulyanova-Elizarova, relates in her reminiscences that while Vladimir Ilyich was working on his book in prison “he decided to use the St. Petersburg libraries in order to obtain material needed for the work he had planned and that he knew he would not be able to get in exile. And so in prison he made an intense study of a mass of source material, and copied out numerous extracts. I dragged heaps of books to him from the Free Economic Society library, from the Academy of Sciences and from other scientific book reposititories.”

Lenin also worked on the book while on his way to exile. In a letter dated March 15, 1897, he wrote that while on the way he had looked over some “books borrowed for a short while,” and that he intended to send them back from Krasnoyarsk. During a halt at Krasnoyarsk (en route for Shushenskoye village), Lenin made a study of books and magazines that he found in the rich private library of G. V. Yudin, a merchant, and also in the local city library.

While in exile Lenin continued to work hard on The Development of Capitalism in Russia. Since he did not possess the means to buy large numbers of books, he wrote to his relatives asking them to make arrangements to supply him from libraries in the capital. “... It would very likely be more profitable for me to spend money on postage and have many books than to spend much more money on buying a few books.” (See present edition, Vol. 37). On Lenin’s instructions, his sister, M. I. Ulyanova, copied out numerous extracts from various books in the Rumyantsev Library in Moscow. Lenin received these extracts at the end of May 1897. From the autumn of the same year, he received the material he needed regularly and set to work on the new sources, particularly on the numerous statistical abstracts. In the spring of 1898, N. K. Krupskaya, who had secured a transfer from her place of exile in Ufa to Shushenskoye, brought Lenin many books.

During his three years’ work on The Development of Capitalism in Russia, Lenin studied and made a critical analysis of everything that had been written on Russian economics. In this monograph mention is made of, and passages are quoted from, over 500 different books, abstracts, research papers, reviews and articles. The literature, however, actually studied and used by Lenin, but not included among the sources mentioned, was much more extensive. But even this list gives an idea of the colossal amount of work involved in his study of the development of Russian capitalism.

The draft of The Development of Capitalism in Russia was completed in August 1898. In a letter dated October 11, 1898, Lenin wrote: “I have finished drafting my markets, and I have begun to give them the finishing touches. The making of a fair copy will go on simultaneously, so that I have thought of sending it off in parts and of having it printed as it gets there in order to avoid delay (I expect to send off the first lot in a month’s time at the very latest); if they begin printing it in December, it might just be in time for this season.” (See present edition, Vol. 37). Much time was needed to give the manuscript the finishing touches and the job was completed at the end of January 1899.

Lenin paid careful attention to the remarks of comrades and relatives who read The Development of Capitalism in Russia while it was still in manuscript. Each chapter was copied into a separate little notebook, and, apart from Krupskaya, was read and discussed by other Social-Democrats who were in exile at that time in the Minusinsk area. “We were the ‘first readers,’ so to speak, of The Development of Capitalism in Russia,” wrote G. M. Krzhizhanovsky in his reminiscences (he lived in exile not far from Shushenskoye village). “Whatever was sent to us, we read carefully and returned it to Lenin with our comments. He took our comments very much into consideration.”

The Development of Capitalism in Russia came off the press at the end of March, 1899, under the pseudonym of “Vladimir Ilyin.” The issue of 2,400 copies was sold out very quickly and circulated mainly among the Social-Democratic intelligentsia, the student youth, and also through the medium of propagandists in workers’ study circles.

The bourgeois press tried to pass over Lenin’s monograph in silence, and the first reviews did not appear until the autumn of 1899. One of them received a crushing retort from Lenin in his article “Uncritical Criticism,” which was printed in the magazine Nauchnoye Obozreniye (Scientific Review) for May-June 1900 (see pp. 609-32 in this volume).

A second edition of The Development of Capitalism in Russia appeared in 1908.

Since the establishment of Soviet power The Development of Capitalism in Russia has, according to data as of October 1, 1957, been published 75 times, in a total of 3,372,000 copies and in 20 of the languages of the Soviet peoples. In addition it has appeared in the English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Czech, Hungarian, Japanese, Turkish and other foreign languages.

Part of the preparatory work for The Development of Capitalism in Russia, which shows the volume of the research done by Lenin, and the methods he employed, has been published in the Lenin Miscellany XXXIII.

The present volume follows the second, 1908, edition, which was published after the text had been corrected and supplemented by Lenin. In addition, account has been taken of all the author’s remarks concerning the first, 1899, edition.

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