V. I. Lenin

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

JULY 17 (30)–AUGUST 10 (23), 1908




AUGUST 1 (14)


L e n i n tables this amendment: instead of “will work for” insert “demands above all”.{1} The reports during the debates pointed out that the draft deliberately says “will work for” in order to emphasise that we do net intend to do this now but in the future. I motion this amendment to avoid giving ground for such misunderstandings. By the words “above all” I mean that we have other demands, apart from the agrarian programme.



I object to Comrade Lyadov’s proposal.{2} We are not drafting a law, but are merely giving general indications. There are those among the townsfolk who also belong to the poll-tax paying estates; in addition, there are the small tradesmen in the suburbs and others, and if we were to write all this into our programme we should have to use the idiom of Volume IX of the Code of Laws.


I find Martynov’s question superfluous.{3} Instead of putting forward general principles we are being forced into particulars. If we were to do so, we should never come to the end of the Congress. The principle is quite definite: every peasant has the right to dispose of his land, whether belonging to the commune or held as private property. That is nothing but the demand of the peasant’s right to dispose of his land. We insist that there should be no special laws for the peasant; we want more than the right of withdrawing from the commune. We are unable just now to decide on all the particulars that may crop up in implementing this. I am against Comrade Lange’s addendum; we cannot demand the abolition of all the laws governing tenure. That is going too far.


Martynov must be labouring under a misunderstanding. What we want is uniform application of general legislation, the one now accepted in all the bourgeois states, namely, that which is based on the principles of Roman law and which recognises both personal and common property. We should like to regard communal land-holdings as common property.


We are engaged in the drafting of addenda to § 4 in respect of the Caucasus. These addenda should be inserted after point a). There are two draft resolutions. If we adopt Comrade Karsky’s amendment, the point will lose heavily in concreteness. In the Urals, for instance, there is a host   of survivals; over there, there is a veritable reservation of serfdom. Concerning the Latvians we could say that they fit the formula: “and in other regions of the state”. I support Comrade Kostrov’s proposal, namely: we must insert a demand for the transfer of land titles to the khizani, the temporarily bound and others.{4}


Paragraph 5 is connected with paragraph 16 of the labour programme: this does imply courts consisting equally of workers and employers; we must demand special representation for the farm labourers and the poor peasantry.{5}


I believe this to be unnecessary, since it would extend the competence of the courts out of all proportion.{6} Our aim is to secure a reduction of rents, but the establishment of tariffs would enable the landowners to argue their case by referring to definite facts. The reduction of rent-prices rules out any idea of their increase. Kautsky, speaking of Ireland, said that some results were obtained there by the introduction of industrial courts.

Vtoroi ocherednoi syezd R.S.D.R.P. Polny tekst protokolov, Central Committee publication, Geneva, 1904
Printed from the text of the book


{1} The amendment was motioned by Lenin during the discussion of the preamble of the draft programme on the agrarian question, which said: “For the purpose, however, of eliminating the survivals of the serf system, which are a heavy burden on the peasants, and in the interests of the free development of the class struggle in the countryside, the Party will work for....” The Congress adopted the amendment. p. 88

{2} The point at issue is § 1 of the draft programme on the agrarian question, which contained a demand for the “abolition of land redemption and quit-rent payments and all other services now borne by the peasants as a poll-tax paying estate”. Lyadov proposed the addition: “or other rural inhabitants, as poll-tax paying estates”. The amendment was rejected by the Congress. p. 89

{3} During the debate on § 2 of the draft programme on the agrarian question, which spoke of the need to abolish collective liability and all other laws hampering the peasant in his disposal of the land, Martynov asked this question: “How are we to under stand the words: ‘his land’?” He believed that two interpretations of this point were possible: “1) every peasant has the right of redemption; in that case the interests of the commune are not infringed; 2) every peasant has the right to appropriate the land without redemption.” Following Lenin’s explanation, Martynov spoke again and said that he was not thinking about particulars but about the general principle: who was the owner of the land—the commune or the peasant? He went on: “If it is the commune, then regarding it as a constraint on economic development, we   stand for the right of redemption. If it is the peasant, there is no need for redemption” (Vtoroi syezd R.S.D.R.P., 1959, p. 235). p. 89

{4} Paragraph 4 of the draft programme on the agrarian question contained a demand for the “establishment of peasants’ committees: a) for the restitution to the village communes (by expropriation or, when the land has changed hands, by redemption by the state at the expense of gentry-owned large landed estates) of the land cut off from the peasants when serfdom was abolished and now used by the land lords as a means of keeping the peasants in bondage; b) for the elimination of the survivals of serf relations, which have been preserved in the Urals, in the Altai, in the Western territory and in other regions of the state...”.

N. N. Jordania (Kostrov) motioned the following addendum to this point: “for the transfer into the ownership of the peasants in the Caucasus of the lands of which they have the use as temporarily bound, khizani, etc.” (Vtoroi syezd R.S.D.R.P., 1959, p. 243). The second proposal was motioned by B. M. Knunyants (Rusov) and M. N. Lyadov, who believed that it was possible for the programme to confine itself to a general statement of the need for eliminating the survivals of serf relations all over Russia.

The amendment of D. A. Topuridze (Karsky), mentioned by Lenin in his speech, was not entered in the minutes of the Congress.

The Congress adopted Jordania’s addendum.

Khizani—the name given to the peasants of Georgia who settled on the lands of the landowners on specially agreed terms. The khizani were not officially regarded as serfs, and enjoyed personal freedom, but remained perpetual tenants without any rights. The 1861 Peasant Reform did not apply to them and they continued to be completely dependent on the landowners, who began to increase khizani services and confiscate the land they held. The khizani system was abolished after the Great October Socialist Revolution.

Temporarily bound peasants—the name given to those former serf peasants who were compelled to perform certain services (quit-rent or corvée) for the use of their land even after the abolition of serfdom in 1861 and until they started paying redemption money to the landowner for their allotments. From the moment the redemption contract was concluded, the peasants ceased to be “temporarily bound” and became “peasant property-owners”. p. 90

{5} Paragraph 5 of the draft programme on the agrarian question spoke of the need to empower the courts to reduce excessive rents and declare invalid transactions of an enslaving character. § 16 of the section of the draft programme dealing with labour protection contained the demand for the establishment of industrial courts consisting of an equal number of workers’ and employers’ representatives in every branch of the national economy. p. 90

{6} Lenin’s objection is against Lieber’s proposal to introduce into § 5 of the draft programme on the agrarian question the demand to empower the courts to establish land-lease prices. p. 90


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