V. I.   Lenin

The Agrarian Question and the “Critics of Marx”



Dairy Farming and Agricultural Co-Operative Societies In Germany.
The Agricultural Population In Germany Divided According to its Position In the Economy

We have dealt in such detail with the data on draught animals because these are the only data (apart from those dealing with machinery, which we have earlier examined) that enable us to obtain an inside view, as it were, of agriculture, of its equipment and organisation. All the other data—on the amount of land (which we have cited), and the number of livestock (to be cited below)—merely describe the external aspects of agriculture, equating things that are obviously unequal, since treatment of the soil and, consequently, its yield, and the quality and productivity of livestock are different in the different categories of farms. Although these differences are well known, they are usually forgotten in statistical compilations; the data on machines and draught animals alone enable us, at least to some extent, to form a judgement of these differences and to decide   who gains (on the whole) from them. If the large farms use, to a larger extent than the rest, particularly complex and costly machines, which alone are taken into account by statistics, then it is obvious that the other types of agricultural implements, which statistics ignore (ploughs, harrows, waggons, etc.), are of a better quality, are used in larger numbers, and (because the farms are bigger) are more fully utilised on the large farms. The same applies to livestock. The small farmer must inevitably make up for the lack of these advantages by greater industry and frugality (he has no other weapons in his struggle for existence), and for this reason those qualities are not merely casual but always and inevitably distinguish the small farmer in capitalist society. The bourgeois economist (and the modern “Critic”, who on this question, as on all others, drags along at the tail of the bourgeois economist) calls this the virtue of thrift, perseverance, etc. (cf. Hecht and Bulgakov), ascribing it to the peasant as a merit. The socialist calls it overwork (Ueberarbeit) and under-consumption (Unterkonsumption) and holds capitalism responsible for it; he tries to open the eyes of the peasant to the deception practised by those who deliver Manilov orations, picturing social degradation as a virtue and thereby striving to perpetuate it.

We shall now deal with the data on the distribution of livestock among the various groups of German farmers in 1882 and 1895. The following are the main summaries (in percentages of total):

(In value) Cattle Pigs
1882 1895 ± 1882 1895 ± 1882 1895 ±
Under 2 hectares 9.3 9.4 +0.1 10.5 8.3 -2.2 24.7 25.6 +0.9
2-5 " 13.1 13.5 +0.4 16.9 16.4 -0.5 17.6 17.2 -0.4
5-20 " 33.3 34.2 +0.9 35.7 36.5 +0.8 31.4 31.1 -0.3
20-100 " 29.5 28.8 -0.7 27.0 27.3 +0.3 20.6 19.6 -1.0
100 and over " 14.8 14.1 -0.7 9.9 11.5 +1.6 5.7 6.5 +0.8
Totals 100 100 - 100 100 - 100 100 -

Thus, the share of the total livestock owned by the large farms has diminished, whereas that of the middle-peasant farms has increased most. We speak of the total livestock, notwithstanding the fact that the statistics refer only to value, because the statisticians’ assumption that the value of each animal is equal for all groups is obviously wrong.   The data on value, which make it possible to add different kinds of livestock (the result could have been obtained by expressing all the livestock in terms of cattle; but this would have entailed fresh calculations, without however, altering the conclusions materially), actually show the distribution of all livestock according to number and not according to real value. Since the livestock belonging to the big farmers is of a better quality and probably improves to a greater extent than that of the small farmers (to judge by the improvement in the implements), the figures considerably minimise the real superiority of large-scale farming.

With regard to certain types of livestock, it must be said that the diminution of the share of the large farms is entirely due to the decline in commercial sheep farming: from 1882 to 1895 the number of sheep diminished from 21,100,000 to 12,600,000, i.e., by 8,500,000; of this total diminution, farms of 20 hectares and over accounted for 7,000,000. As is known, stock raising for the dairy-product and meat markets is one of the developing branches of commercial live stock farming in Germany. For this reason we took the data on cattle and pigs, finding that the greatest progress in these two branches of livestock farming has been made on the large farms (of 100 hectares and over): share in the total number of cattle and pigs has increased most. This fact stands out the more for the reason that the area of livestock farms is usually smaller than that of agricultural farms and one would thus expect a more rapid development, not of large, but of middle, capitalist farms. The general conclusion to be drawn (in regard to the number, not the quality, of cattle) should be the following: the big farmers have lost most as a result of the sharp decline in commercial sheep farming, and this loss has not entirely, but only partly, been compensated by a greater increase (as compared with the small and medium farms) in the raising of cattle and pigs.

In speaking of dairy farming, we cannot ignore the extremely instructive and, as far as we know, unutilised material on this question furnished by German statistics. But this concerns the general question of combining agriculture with agricultural industries, and we are obliged to deal with it because of the amazing distortion of the facts of which Mr. Bulgakov is again guilty. As is known, the combination   of agriculture with the industrial processing of farm produce is one of the most outstanding characteristics of the specifically capitalist progress in agriculture. Some time back, in Nachalo (No. 3, p. 32), Mr. Bulgakov declared: "In my opinion, Kautsky vastly exaggerates the significance of this combination. If we take the statistics, we shall find that the amount of land connected with industry in this way is quite negligible.” The argument is an extremely weak one; for Mr. Bulgakov does not dare to deny the technically progressive character of this combination. And as for the most important question, as to whether large-scale or small-scale production is the vehicle of this progress, he simply evades it. Since, however, the statistics provide a very definite reply to this question, Mr. Bulgakov resorts in his book to—sit venia verbo![Save the mark!—Ed.]–cunning. He cites the per centage of farms (of all farms in general and not according to groups!) that are combined with agricultural industry in one form or another, and remarks: “It must not be supposed that they are combined principally with large farms” (II, 116). The very opposite is the case, most worthy professor: that is precisely what must be supposed; and the table you give (which does not show the percentage of farms combined with agricultural industries in relation to the total number of farms in each group) merely deceives the uninformed or inattentive reader. Below we give the combined data (to avoid filling our pages with figures) on the number of farms connected with sugar refining, distilling, starch making, brewing, and flour milling (consequently, the totals will show the number of cases in which agriculture is combined with agricultural industries), and we get the following picture:

Total number
of farms
Number of cases of
combination with
agricultural industries
Per cent
Under 2 hectares " . . . . 3,236,367 11,364 0.01
2-5 " . . . . 1,016,318 13,542 1.09
5-20 " . . . . 998,804 25,879 2.30
20-100 " . . . . 281,767 8,273 2.52
100 and over " . . . . 25,061 4,006 15.72
Totals . . . . 5,558,317 63,064 1.14
Farms with 1,000 hectares and over . . . . 572 330 57.69

Thus, the percentage of farms in combination with agricultural industries is negligible in small-scale farming and reaches marked dimensions only in large-scale farming (and enormous dimensions on the latifundia, of which more than half enjoy the benefits of this combination). If this fact is compared with the above-cited data on the use of machines and draught animals, the reader will understand the pretentious nonsense of Mr. Bulgakov’s aphorisms on the “illusion fostered by conservative” Marxists “that large-scale farming is the vehicle of economic progress and that small-scale farming is the vehicle of retrogression” (II, 260).

“The great bulk (of sugar-beet and potatoes for distilling alcohol!) was produced on the small farms,” continues Mr. Bulgakov.

But the very opposite is the case: it was precisely on the large farms:

of farms cultivating
sugar beet
of total
number of
farms in
Area under beet (in hectares) Per cent Number of
potatoes for
of total
number of farms in
Under 2 hectares . . 10,781 0.33 3,781 1.0 565 0.01
2-5 " . . 21,413 2.10 12,693 3.2 947 0.09
5-20 " . . 47,145 4.72 48,213 12.1 3,023 0.30
20-100 " . . 26,643 9.45 97,782 24.7 4,293 1.52
100 and over " . . 7,262 28.98 233,820 59.0 5.195 20.72
Totals . . . 113,244 2.03 396,289 100.0 14,023 0.25
1,000 hectares and over 211 36.88 26,127 302 52.79

Thus, we see again that the percentage of farms cultivating sugar-beet and potatoes for industrial purposes is negligible in the small-farm group, considerable in the large farm group, and very high on the latifundia. The great bulk of the beets (83.7 per cent, judging by the area under beet) is produced on the large farms.[1]  

Similarly, Mr. Bulgakov failed to ascertain the “share of large-scale farming” in dairy farming (II, 117); yet this branch of commercial livestock farming is one of those that are, developing with particular rapidity over the whole of Europe, as well as being one of the characteristics of the progress of agriculture. The following figures show the number of farms selling milk and dairy products to the towns:

of total
number of
in group
of cows
per farm
Under 2 hectares . . . . 8,998 21.46 0.3 25,028 11.59 2.8
2-5 " . . . . 11,049 26.35 1.1 30,275 14.03 2.7
5-20 " . . . . 15,344 36.59 1.5 70,916 32.85 4.6
20-100 " . . . . 5,676 13.54 2.0 58,439 27.07 10.3
100 and over " . . . . 863 2.06 3.4 31,213 14.46 36.1
" Totals . . . . 41,930 100.0 0.8 215,871 100 5.1
1,000 hectares and over 21 3.7 1,822 87.0

Thus, here too, large-scale farming is in advance: the percentage of farmers engaged in the milk trade increases proportionately with the increase in the size of the farms, and it is highest on the latifundia (“latifundia degeneration”). For instance, the percentage of large farms (100 hectares and over) selling milk to the towns is more than twice that of the middle-peasant (5-20 hectare) farms (3.4 and 1.5 per cent).

The fact that the large farms (large in area) also engage in large-scale dairy farming is confirmed by the data on the number of cows per farm, viz., 36 per farm of 100 hectares   and over, and even 87 on the latifundia. Generally speaking, the obviously capitalist farms (20 hectares and over) own 41.5% of the total number of cows, whose milk is sold to the towns, although these proprietors represent an insignificant percentage of the total number of farmers (5.52%), and a very small percentage of the number of farmers selling milk to the towns (15.6%). The progress of capitalist farming and the capitalist concentration of this branch of commercial livestock farming are therefore an indubitable fact.

But the concentration of dairy farming is by no means fully brought out by data on farms grouped according to area. It is clear a priori that there can and must be farms equal in area but unequal in regard to livestock in general, and to dairy cattle in particular. Let us, first, compare the distribution of the total number of cattle among the various groups of farms with the distribution of the total number of cows whose milk is sold to the towns.

Percentage of
all cattle cows whose
milk is sold
to towns
Under 2 hectares . . . . . . 8.3 11.6 +3.3
2-5 " . . . . . . . 16.4 14.0 -2.4
5-20 " . . . . . . . 36.5 32.8 -3.7
20-100 " . . . . . . . 27.3 27.1 -0.2
100 and over " . . . . . . . 11.5 14.5 +3.0
Totals . . . . . . . 100 100

Thus, we see again that it is the middle-peasant farms which are the worst off; this group utilises the smallest share of its cattle for the urban milk trade (the most profitable branch of dairy farming). On the other hand, the large farms occupy a very favourable position and utilise a relatively large proportion of their cattle for the urban milk trade.[3] But the position of the smallest farms is most favourable of all, for they utilise the largest proportion of their cattle for the urban milk trade. Consequently, in this   group, special “milk” farms are developing on which agriculture is forced into the background, or even abandoned altogether (out of 8,998 farms in this group which sell milk to the towns, 471 have no arable land, and the farmers possess a total of 5,344 cows, or 11.3 cows per farm). We obtain an interesting picture of the concentration of dairy farming within one and the same group according to area of tilled land if, with the aid of the German statistics, we single out the farms with one and with two cows each:

Farms Selling Dairy Products to the Towns
No. of
with one
with two
Farms with three
cows or more
of cows
Under 50 ares . . . . . . 1,944 722 372 850 9,789 11.5 11,255
50 ares to 2 hectares . . . . . . 7,054 3,302 2,552 1,200 5,367 4.5 13,773
0 to 2 hectares . . . . . . 8,998 4,024 2,924 2,050 15,156 7.4 25,028
2 to 5 hectares . . . . . . 11,049 1,862 4,497 4,690 19,419 4.3 30,275

Among the farms with a negligible amount of agricultural land (0-0.5 hectares) we see an enormous concentration of dairy farming: fewer than one half of these farmers (850 out of 1,944) concentrate in their hands almost nine-tenths of the total number of cows in this group (9,789 out of 11,255), with an average of 11.5 cows per farm. These are by no means “small” farmers; they are farmers having a turn over in all probability (especially those adjacent to big cities) of several thousand marks per annum, and it is doubtful whether they can manage without hired labour. The rapid growth of the towns causes a steady increase in the number of such “dairy farmers”, and, of course, there will always be the Hechts, Davids, Hertzes, and Chernovs to console the mass of the small peasants crushed by poverty with the example of isolated cases of their fellow-farmers who have “got on in the world” by means of dairy farming, tobacco cultivation, and so forth.

In the 0.5-2 hectare group of farms we see that fewer than one-fifth of the total number of farmers (1,200 out of 7,054) concentrate in their hands over two-fifths of the total number of cows (5,367 out of 13,773); in the 2-5 hectare   group, fewer than one half of the farmers (4,690 out of 11,049) concentrate in their hands more than three-fifths of the total number of cows (19,419 out of 30,275), and so on. Unfortunately, the German statistics do not enable us to classify the groups with a larger number of cows.[4] But even the data presented fully confirm the general conclusion that the concentration of capitalist agriculture is in reality much greater than the data on area alone would lead us to suppose. The latter combine in one group farms small in area and producing small quantities of grain with farms producing dairy products, meat, grapes, tobacco, vegetables, etc., on a large scale. Of course, all these branches occupy a far inferior place as compared with the production of grain, and certain general conclusions hold good also in regard to statistics relating to area. But, in the first place, certain special branches of commercial agriculture are growing with   particular rapidity in Europe, constituting a distinguishing feature of its capitalist evolution. Secondly, the circumstance referred to is frequently forgotten with reference to certain examples, or to certain districts, and this opens a wide field for petty-bourgeois apologetics, samples of which were presented by Hecht, David, Hertz, and Chernov. They referred to tobacco growers, who, judged by the size of their farms, are echte und rechte Kleinbauern,[5] but, if judged by the extent of their tobacco plantations, are by no means “small” farmers. Moreover, if we examine the data on tobacco growing separately, we shall find capitalist concentration in this area also. For instance, the total number of tobacco growers in Germany in 1898 was estimated at 139,000, with a cultivation of 17,600 hectares of tobacco land. But of these 139,000, some 88,000, or 63 per cent, together owned not more than 3,300 hectares, i.e., only one-fifth of the total area of land under tobacco. The other four-fifths were in the hands of 37% of the tobacco growers.[6]

The same applies to grape growing. As a general rule, the area of the “average” vineyard, in Germany, for example, is very small: 0.36 hectares (344,850 growers and 126,109 hectares of vineyards). But the vineyards are distributed as follows: 49% of the growers (with 20 or fewer ares of vineyards) have only 13% of the total area of vineyards; the “middle” growers (20-50 ares), representing 30% of the total, hold 26% of the total area of vineyards, whereas the big   growers (half a hectare and over), representing 20% of the total, hold 61 % of the total area of vineyards, or more than three-fifths.[7] Still more concentrated is market gardening (Kunst- und Handelsgärtnerei), which is rapidly developing in all capitalist countries in direct dependence on the growth of large cities, big railroad stations, industrial settlements, etc. The number of market gardening enterprises in Germany in 1895 is estimated at 32,540, with an area of 23,570 hectares, or an average of less than one hectare each. But more than half of this area (51.39%) is concentrated in the hands of 1,932 proprietors, or 5.94% of all the market gardeners. The size of the market gardens and the area of the rest of the land the big farmers utilise for agriculture can be judged from the following figures: 1,441 market gardeners have vegetable gardens ranging from two to five hectares, making an average of 2.76 hectares per vegetable farm, and total land amounting to an average of 109.6 hectares per farm; 491 farmers have vegetable gardens of five hectares and over, making an average of 16.54 hectares per farm, and total land amounting to an average of 134.7 hectares per farm.

Let us return to dairy farming, the data on which help us to judge the significance of co-operative societies, which Hertz regards as a panacea for the evils of capitalism. Hertz is of the opinion that “the principal task of socialism” is to support these co-operative societies (op. cit., S. 21, Russian translation, p. 62; S. 89, Russian translation, p. 214), and Mr. Chernov, who, as might be expected, bruises his forehead in the act of ardent prostration before the new gods, has invented a theory of the “non-capitalist evolution of agriculture” with the aid of co-operative societies. We shall have a word or two to say on the theoretical significance of this sort of remarkable discovery. For the moment, we shall note that the worshippers of co-operative societies   are always eager to talk of what it is “possible” to achieve by co-operative societies (cf. the instance given above). We, however, prefer to show what is actually achieved by the aid of co-operative societies under the present capitalist system. On the occasion of the census of enterprises and occupations in Germany in 1895 a register was made of all farms participating in co-operatives for the sale of dairy products (Molkereigenossenschaften und Sammelmolkereien), as well as of the number of cows from which each farmer obtained milk and milk products for sale. As far as we know, those are perhaps the only mass data that determine with precision, not only the extent to which farmers of various categories participate in co-operative societies, but, what is particularly important, the economic, so to speak, extent of this participation, viz., the size of the particular branch of each farm in the co-operative society (the number of cows providing products for sale organised by co-operative societies). We cite the figures, divided into the five principal groups according to area of farms:

Farms Participating in Co-operative Societies for the Sale of
Dairy Products
of such
of farms in
of farms in
Number of
cows on
such farms
of total
number of
number of
cows per
Under 2 hectares . . 10,300 0.3 6.95 18,556 1.71 1.8
2-5 " . . 31,819 3.1 21.49 73,156 6.76 2.3
5-20 " . . 53,597 5.4 36.19 211,236 19.51 3.9
20-100 " . . 43,561 15.4 29.42 418,563 38.65 \\ 9.6
100 and over " . . 8,805 35.1 5.95 361,435 33.37 // 72.02 41.0
Totals . . . 148,082 2.7 100 1,082,946 100 7.3
1,000 hectares and over . . . 204 35.6 18,273 89.0

Thus, only an insignificant minority (3-5%) of the small farmers participate in co-operative societies—in all probability an even smaller percentage than that of capitalist farms in the lower groups. On the other hand, the percentage   of the large, obviously capitalist, farms which participate in co-operative societies is from three to seven times greater than that of even the middle-peasant farms. The percentage of the latifundia participating in co-operatives is largest of all. We can now form an idea of the boundless naiveté of the Austrian Voroshilov, Hertz, who, in retorting to Kautsky, states that the “German Agricultural Co-operative Wholesale Society [Bezugsvereinigung], with which the largest co-operative societies are affiliated, represents 1,050,000 farmers” (S. 112, Russian translation, p. 267, Hertz’ italics) from which he concludes that this means that not only big farmers (holding more than 20 hectares, who number 306,000) participate in these co-operatives, but peasants too! Hertz had only to ponder a little over his own assumption (that all the large farms participate in co-operatives), in order to realise that if all big farmers are members of co-operative societies, this implies that of the rest a smaller percentage participate in them, which means that Kautsky’s conclusion concerning the superiority of large-scale over small-scale farming even with respect to co-operative organisation is fully confirmed.

But still more interesting are the data on the number of cows furnishing the products, the sale of which is organised by the co-operatives. The overwhelming majority of these cows, almost three-fourths (72%), belong to big farmers engaged in capitalist dairy farming and owning ten, forty, and (on the latifundia) even eighty cows per farm. And now let us listen to Hertz: “We assert that co-operative societies bring most benefit to the small and smallest farmers..." (op. cit., S. 112, Russian translation, p. 269, Hertz’ italics). The Voroshilovs are alike everywhere: be it in Russia or in Austria. When the Voroshilovs beat their breasts and exclaim vehemently, “We assert”, we can be quite sure that they are asserting that which is not.

To conclude our review of German agrarian statistics, let us examine briefly the general situation in regard to the distribution of the agricultural population according to its position in the economy. Of course, we take agriculture proper (A 1, and not A 1 to 6, according to the German nomenclature, i.e., we do not include among the agriculturists fishermen, lumbermen, and hunters); we then take the   data on persons for whom agriculture is the principal occupation. German statistics divide this population into three main groups: (a) independent (viz., farmer owners, tenant farmers, etc.), (b) non-manual employees (managers, fore men, supervisors, office clerks, etc.), and (c) labourers. The last-named group is split up into the following four subgroups: (c1) “members of families employed on a farm belonging to the head of the family —father, brother, etc.,” in other words, labourers that are members of the family, as distinct from hired labourers, to which category all the other subgroups of group c belong. Clearly, therefore, in order to study the social composition of the population (and its capitalist evolution), the labourers that are members of the family must not be grouped with the hired labourers, as is usually done, but with the farmers in group a; for they are in fact the farmers’ partners, enjoying right of inheritance, etc. Other subgroups are: (c2) agricultural labourers, men and women (Knechte und Mägde), and (c3) "agricultural day-labourers and other labourers (shepherds, herdsmen) owning or renting land”. Consequently, the last-named subgroup consists of persons who are at the same time farmers and wage-labourers, i.e., an intermediate and transitional group which should be placed in a special category. Finally, there is the subgroup (c4) “ditto—neither owning nor renting land”. In this way, we obtain three main groups: I. Farmers— owners of land and the members of their families. II. Farmers—owners of land and at the same time wage-labourers. III. Wage-workers not owning land (non-manual employees, labourers, and day-labourers). The following table illustrates the manner in which the rural population[9] of Germany   was distributed among these groups in the years 1882 and 1895:

Active (self-employed) population engaged
in agriculture as the main occupation
1882 1895
(a) Farm owners . . . . . . . . 2,253 2,522 +269
(c1) Members of
farmers’ families
. . . . . . . .  
I . . . . . . . 4,188 4,421 +233 +5.6%
(c2) Labourers with allotments (II) . . . . . . . 866
I+II . . . . . . . 5,054 4,804 -250
(b) Non-manual employees . . . . . . . . 47 77 +30
(c3) Labourers . . . . . . . . 1,589 1,719 +130
(c4) Labourers without allotments
. . . . . . . .
III . . . . . . . 3,010 3,241 +231 +7.7%
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ _-_-_-_-_ _-_-_-_-_ _-_-_-_-_ _-_-_-_-_
Totals. . . 8,064 8,045 -19 -0.2%

Thus, the active population has diminished, although only slightly. Among this population we see a diminution in the landowning section (1+ II) and an increase in the land less section (III). This clearly shows that the expropriation of the rural population is progressing, and that it is precisely the small landowners who are being expropriated; for we know by now that the wage-labourers with small plots of land belong to the group of smallest farmers. Furthermore, of the persons owning land, the number of farmer-labourers is diminishing, while the number of farmers is increasing. We see, therefore, the disappearance of middle groups and the growth of the extreme groups: the intermediary group is disappearing; capitalist contradictions are becoming more acute. Of the wage-labourers there is an increase in the number of those entirely expropriated, while the number owning land is diminishing. Of the farmers there is an increase in the number directly owning enterprises, while   the number employed in the enterprises of heads of families is diminishing. (In all probability the latter circumstance is due to the fact that in the majority of cases working members of peasant families receive no pay whatever from the head of the family and for that reason are particularly prone to migrate to the cities.)

If we take the data on the population for whom agriculture is an auxiliary occupation, we shall see that this (active or self-employed), population increased from 3,144,000 to 3,578,000, i.e., by 434,000. This increase is almost entirely due to the growth in the number of working members of farmers’ families, which expanded by 397,000 (from 664,000 to 1,061,000). The number of farmers increased by 40,000 (from 2,120,000 to 2,160,000); the number of labourers owning land increased by 51,000 (from 9,000 to 60,000); while the number of landless labourers diminished by 54,000 (from 351,000 to 297,000). This enormous increase from 664,000 to 1,061,000, or 59.8% in the course of 13 years, is further evidence of the growth of proletarisation—the growth of the number of peasants, members of peasants’ families, who have come to regard agriculture merely as an auxiliary occupation. We know that in those cases the principal occupation is working for wages (next in importance being petty trading, handicraft, etc.). If we combine the numbers of all working members of peasant families—those for whom agriculture is the principal occupation and those for whom it is merely an auxiliary occupation—we shall get the following: 1882—2,559,000; 1895—2,960,000. This increase may easily provide occasion for erroneous interpretations and apologetic conclusions, especially if it is compared with the number of wage-labourers, which, on the whole, is diminishing. Actually, the general increase is obtained by the diminution in the number of working members of peasant families for whom agriculture is the principal occupation and by the increase in the number for whom it is an auxiliary occupation; the latter amounted in 1882 to only 21.7% of the total number of working members of peasant families, whereas in 1895 they amounted to 35.8%. Thus, the statistics covering the entire agricultural population distinctly reveal to us the two processes of proletarisation to which orthodox Marxism has always pointed, and   which opportunist critics have always tried to obscure by stereotyped phrases. These processes are: on the one hand, the growing separation of the peasantry from the land, the expropriation of the rural population, which either moves to the towns or is turned from landowning labourers into landless labourers; on the other hand, the development of “auxiliary employment” among the peasantry, i.e., the combination of agriculture with industry, which marks the first stage of proletarisation and always leads to increased poverty (longer working day, malnutrition, etc.). Regarded only from the external aspect, these two processes, to a certain extent, even tend in opposite directions: an increase in the number of landless labourers and an increase in the number of working members of peasant landowning families. For this reason, to confound the two processes, or to ignore either of them, may easily lead to the crudest blunders, numerous examples of which are scattered through Bulgakov’s work.[11] Finally, the occupational statistics reveal to us a remarkable increase in the number of non-manual employees,[10] from 47,000 to 77,000, or 63.8%. Simultaneously with the growth of proletarisation, there is a growth of large-scale capitalist production, which requires non-manual employees to a degree rising in proportion to the increase in the use of machinery and the development of agricultural industries.

Thus, notwithstanding his vaunted “details”, Mr. Bulgakov proved unable to grasp the German data. In the occupational statistics he merely saw an increase in the number of landless labourers and a diminution in the number of landowning labourers, which he took to be an index of the “changes that have taken place in the organisation of agricultural labour” (II, 106). But these changes in the organisation of labour in German agriculture as a whole have remained for him a fortuitous and inexplicable fact, in no way connected with the general structure and evolution of agricultural capitalism. In reality, it is only one of the aspects of the process of capitalist development. Mr. Bulgakov’s   opinion notwithstanding, the technical progress of German agriculture is first and foremost the progress of large-scale production, as has been irrefutably proved by statistics relating to the use of machinery, the percentage of enterprises using draught animals and the type used, the development of industries connected with agriculture, the growth of dairy farming, and so forth. Inseverably connected with the progress of large-scale production are the growth of the proletarisation and expropriation of the rural population; the expanding number of small allotment farms and of peasants whose principal source of livelihood is auxiliary occupations; the increased poverty among the middle-peasant population, whose farming conditions have deteriorated most (the largest increase in the percentage of horseless farms and in the percentage of farms using cows for field work), and, consequently, whose general living conditions and quality of land cultivation have undergone greatest deterioration.


[1] Mr. Bulgakov’s sheer ... bad luck in his assertions on the processing of industrial crops is so strange that we involuntarily ask ourselves whether it may not be due to the fact that in citing the tables from the German Inquiry he jailed to see that they do not show the   percentage of farms combined with agricultural industries in relation to the total number of farms in the given group. On the one hand, it is difficult to imagine that a “study” by a strict scientist could contain such a string of errors (accompanied by a string of smug conclusions). On the other hand, the identity of Mr. Bulgakov’s tables with those in the German Inquiry (S. 40* and 41*) is beyond doubt.... Oh, those “strict scientists”! —Lenin

[2] We have included this column so that the reader may form a clear idea of the methods employed by Mr. Bulgakov, who, for confirmation of his conclusions, refers only to this one column (taken from the above Inquiry). —Lenin

[3] This difference is not to be explained by the fact that the proportion of oxen to the total number of cattle is unequal, for the percentage of oxen (at all events those used for field work) is higher on the large than on the middle-peasant farms. —Lenin

[4] To be more exact, the manner in which the German data are grouped does not enable us to do this; for the authors of the Inquiry had the data for each farm separately (on the basis of the replies listed in the questionnaires sent out to the farmers). In passing, we would state that this practice of gathering information from each farm separately adopted by German agricultural statistics is superior to the French method and apparently also to the English and other methods. Such a system enables us to classify the various types of farms, not only according to area, but also according to scale of farming (dairy farming, for example), according to the extent of use of machinery, degree of development of agricultural industries, and so forth. But this system requires a more thorough classification of the statistical data. First, the farms must be classified, not only according to one single feature (extent of area), but according to several features (number of machines, livestock, area of land under special crops, and so forth). Secondly, combined classifications must be made, i.e., the division of each group, classified according to area, into subgroups according to numbers of livestock, etc. Russian Zemstvo statistics on peasant farming can and should serve as a model in this respect. While German government statistics are superior to Russian government statistics in their fullness and comprehensiveness, in their uniformity and exactness, and in the rapidity of their preparation and publication, our Zemstvo statistics are superior to the European partial inquiries and investigations because of the remarkable fullness and detailed analysis of certain particular data. Russian Zemstvo statistics have for a long time included surveys of individual farms and presented various group tables and the combined tables we have mentioned. A close study of Russian Zemstvo statistics by Europeans would no doubt give a strong impetus to the progress of social statistics generally. —Lenin

[5] Genuine small peasants.—Ed.

[6] Die deutsche Votkswirtschaft am Schlusse des 19. Jrhd. (German National Economy at the End of the Nineteenth Century.—Ed.), Berlin, 1900, S. 60. This is a very rough computation based on the fiscal returns. For Russia, we have the following data on the distribution of tobacco growing in three uyezds of Poltava Gubernia: of the total of 25,089 peasant farms growing tobacco, 3,015 farms (less than one-eighth) have 74,565 dessiatines under grain out of a total of 146,774 dessiatines, or more than one half, and 3,239 dessiatines under tobacco out of a total of 6,844 dessiatines, or nearly one half. By grouping these farms according to the tobacco area we get the following: 324 farms (out of 25,089) have two or more dessiatines, comprising a total of 2.360 out of 6,844 dessiatines. These belong to the big capitalist tobacco planters, notorious for their outrageous exploitation of the workers. Only 2,773 farms (a little more than one-tenth) had over half a dessiatine each under tobacco, comprising altogether 4,145 out of 6,844 dessiatines nuder tobacco. See A Review of Tobacco Growing in Russia, Issues II and III, St Petersburg, 1894. —Lenin

[7] It is of interest to note that in France, where vine growing is incomparably more developed than in Germany (1,800,500 hectares), the concentration of vineyards is also more considerable. However, we have only the general statistics on area to enable us to form a judgement; for in France data are not gathered on individual farms, and the actual number of growers is unknown. In Germany 12.83% of the total vineyards belong to growers owning ten or more hectares of land. In France, however, 57.02% of the vineyards belong to this category of growers. —Lenin

[8] Mr. Bulgakov stated: “The share of large-scale farming will be seen from the following figures” (II, 117), and he cited only these figures, which do not reveal “the share of large-scale farming” but (unless compared with other data) rather serve to obscure it. —Lenin

[9] We speak only of the “active” population (as the French term it; in German, erwerbsthätige), i.e., those actually engaged in agriculture, not including domestic servants and those members of families who are not regularly and permanently engaged in agricultural work. Russian social statistics are so undeveloped that we still find lacking a special term like “active”, “erwerbsthätig”, “occupied”. Yanson, in his analysis of the data on the occupations of the population of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg According to the Census of 1890), employs the term “independent”; but this is not a suitable term, for it usually implies masters, and, consequently, division according to participation or non-participation in industrial activity (in the broad sense of the term) is confused with division according to the position occupied in industry (individual self-employed workman).   The term “productive population” could be used, hut even that would be inexact, for the military, rentier, and similar classes are not at all “productive”. Perhaps the most suitable term would be “self-employed” population, viz., those engaged in some “trade” or other occupation (=producing an income), as distinct from those who live at the expense of those “self-employed”. —Lenin

[10] In regard to this fact, Mr. Bulgakov delivered himself in Nachalo of the banal joke, “The increase in the number of officers in a dwindling army”. A vulgarised view of the organisation of labour in large-scale production! —Lenin

[11] It may be seen from the text of Chapters VII and IX, first published in the magazine Obrazovaniye, that Lenin intended to examine French agricultural statistics in this essay and to analyse the “critical” views of the French economist Maurice. This plan was not put into effect, and in the 1908 edition Lenin changed the passages showing his original design. Thus he omitted two words “and French” from the sentence: “The proletarisation of the peasantry continues, as we shall prove below by the mass of German and French statistics....” In the phrase: “The rapid growth of the towns causes a steady increase in the number of such ’dairy farmers’, and, of course, there will always he the Hechts, Davids, Hertzes, and Chernovs (and, not to offend France, the Maurices as well, whom we’ll mention later)...”, the words in parenthesis were omitted.   The end of the sentence, “For this reason, to confound the two processes, or to ignore either of them, may easily lead to the crudest blunders, an example of which we shall see later, when studying Bulgakov’s analysis of the French data”, was changed to: “numerous examples of which are scattered through Bulgakov’s book”.

  General Statistics of German Agriculture for 1882 and 1895. The Question of the Medium Farms |  

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