V. I.   Lenin

Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

July 17 (30)-August 10 (23), 1903


18. Third Speech in the Discussion on the Agrarian Programme

August 1 (14)

There is nothing for Comrade Lieber to be surprised at. He demands of us a single general criterion, but there is no such criterion. Sometimes one demand has to be made, at other times another. We have no stereotyped standards. Lieber claims that our demand for the abolition of serf-ownership coincides with the liberals’ demands. But the liberals do not say how this demand is to be carried out. We, for our part, say that it must be carried out not by the bureaucracy, but by the oppressed classes, and that means the way of revolution. Therein lies the fundamental difference between us and the liberals, whose talk about changes and reforms “pollutes” the minds of the people. If we were to set forth in detail all the demands for the abo lition of serf-ownership, we should fill whole volumes. That is why we mention only the more important forms and varieties of serfdom, and leave it to our committees in the various localities to draw up and advance their particular demands in development of the general programme. Trotsky’s remark to the effect that we cannot concern ourselves with local demands is wrong, for the question of the khizani and the temporarily bound peasants[1] is not only a local one. Moreover, it is known in agrarian literature.



[1] Khizani—the name given to the landless peasants of Georgia, who in the distant past had been settled on the lands of the landlords on specially agreed terms. The khizani were not formally considered serfs, enjoyed personal liberty, but remained perpetual tenants without any rights. The 1861 Peasant Reform did not apply to the   khizani, who continued to be completely dependent on the landlords. These began to increase the khizani’s services and confiscate the land they held. The khizani system was abolished after the Great October Socialist Revolution.

Temporarily bound peasants was the name given to those former serf peasants who were still compelled to carry out certain duties (payment of quit-rent or performance of corvée service) for the use of their land even after the abolition of serfdom in 1861 and until they started paying redemption money to the landlord for their allotments. From the moment the redemption contract was concluded, the peasants ceased to be “temporarily bound” and joined the category of “peasant property-owners.”

On Lenin’s proposal, the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. added to the agrarian section of the Party programme the demand for “transfer to the ownership of the peasants in the Caucasus of lands which they are using as temporarily bound peasants, khizani, and so forth.”

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