V. I.   Lenin

The Agrarian Programme of Russian Social-Democracy



For the reader to get a clearer idea of the inevitability of a complex solution of the agrarian question, we would ask him to compare in this respect the workers’ and the peasants’ sections of the programme. In the former, all the solutions are extremely simple and comprehensible even to the most uninitiated and least imaginative person; they are “natural,” tangible, and easily achievable. In the latter, on the contrary, most of the solutions are extremely complex, “incomprehensible” at first glance, artificial, improbable, and difficult to bring about. How can this difference be explained? Can it be that, in the first case, the compilers of the programme gave it sober and business-like consideration, whereas in the second case they were lost and confused, lapsing into romanticism and phrase-mongering? Such an explanation, it must in truth be said, would be extremely “simple,” childishly simple, and we are not at all surprised at Martynov having grasped at it. It did not enter his mind that economic development itself had facilitated and simplified to the utmost the practical solution of the workers’ minor problems. Social and economic relationships in the sphere of large-scale capitalist production have become (and are increasingly be coming) so transparent, clear, and simplified that the next steps forward suggest themselves automatically, immediately, and at first glance. On the other hand, capitalism’s elimination of serf-ownership in the countryside has so con fused and complicated social and economic relationships as to make it necessary to ponder deeply over the solution (in the spirit of revolutionary Social-Democracy) of the immediate practical questions, and it may be said in advance and with full certainty that a “simple” solution cannot be invented.

Incidentally, once we have begun to compare the workers’ and the peasants’ sections of the programme, let us note still another difference in principle between them. This difference may be briefly formulated as follows: in the workers’ section we have no right to go beyond the bounds of demands for social reform; in the peasants’ section, however, we must not stop at social-revolutionary demands. In other words: in the workers’ section we are definitely   limited by the minimum programme; in the peasants’ section we can and must produce a maximum programme.[1] Let us explain.

What we set forth in both sections is not our ultimate aim, but our immediate demands. In both we should there fore remain on the basis of present-day (= bourgeois) society. Therein lies the similarity between the two sections. How ever, their fundamental difference consists in the fact that the workers’ section contains demands directed against the bourgeoisie, whereas the peasants’ section contains demands directed against the would-be serf-owning landlords (against the feudal lords, I would say, if the applicability of this term to our landed nobility were not so disputable[2] ). In the workers’ section we must confine ourselves to partial improvements in the existing, bourgeois, order. In the peas ants’ section we must strive to completely eradicate all the remnants of the serf-owning system from this existing order. In the workers’ section we cannot bring forward demands whose significance would be tantamount to a final smashing of bourgeois rule: when we achieve this ultimate aim of ours, which has been adequately stressed elsewhere in the programme and which we “never for a moment” lose sight of in the struggle for the immediate demands, then we, the Party of the proletariat, shall no longer confine ourselves to questions of this or that responsibility of the employers, or to some factory housing, but shall take into our own hands the entire management and disposal of the whole of social production, and consequently, of distribution as well. On the contrary, in the peasants’ section we can and must bring   forward demands whose significance would be tantamount to the final smashing of the rule of the feudal-minded landlords and to the complete eradication of all traces of serf-ownership from our countryside. We cannot present social-revolutionary demands among the immediate demands in the workers’ section, since the social revolution which overthrows the rule of the bourgeoisie is the proletarian revolution which achieves our ultimate aim. In the peasants’ section, we present social-revolutionary demands as well, since the social revolution which overthrows the rule of the serf-owning landlords (i.e., a social revolution of the bourgeoisie, like the Great French Revolution) is also possible on the basis of the existing, bourgeois, order. In the workers’ section, we keep to our stand (conditionally, for the time being, with our own independent intentions and aims, but we nevertheless keep to our stand) in favour of social reforms, for what we are demanding here is only what the bourgeoisie can (in principle) concede to us without as yet losing its domination (and what Messrs. the Sombarts, Bulgakovs, Struves, Prokopoviches and Go. therefore in advance advise the bourgeoisie to concede in all wisdom and good faith). In the peasants’ section, however, we must, unlike the social-reformers, also demand what the feudal—minded landlords will not and cannot give us (or the peasants)—we must also demand what the revolution ary movement of the peasantry can take only by force.


[1] The objection that the demand for the restitution of the cut off lands is far from being the maximum of our immediate demands in favour of the peasantry [or of our agrarian demands in general] and that it is therefore not consistent will be dealt with later, when we speak of the concrete clauses of the programme we are defending. We maintain, and shall endeavour to prove, that the demand for the “restitution of the cut-off lands” is the maximum that we can at present advance in our agrarian programme. —Lenin

[2] Personally, I am inclined to decide this question in the affirmative, but in the given instance, it is of course neither the place nor time for substantiating or even for proposing this solution, since what we are concerned with now is the defence of the draft agrarian programme prepared collectively by the entire Editorial Board. —Lenin

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