V. I.   Lenin

Revision of the Agrarian Programme of the Workers’ Party



The Objects of Our Agrarian Programme

The question of the agrarian programme of the R.S. D.L.P. would be very much clearer if we attempted to set it forth in the form of clear and plain advice that the Social-Democratic   Party should offer the proletariat and the peasantry in the period of the democratic revolution.

The first advice would necessarily be the following: make every effort to achieve the complete victory of the peasant uprising. Without such a victory, it will be impossible even to talk seriously either about “taking the land” from the landlords, or about setting up a truly democratic state. And the only slogan that can rouse the peasantry to revolt is: confiscation of all the landed estates (and not alienation in general, or expropriation in general, which would leave the question of compensation in the shade), and definitely confiscation by peasant committees pending the convocation of a constituent assembly.

Any other advice (including Maslov’s slogan of “alienation”, and all his municipalisation) is a call to the peasantry to settle the question, not by means of insurrection, but by a deal with the landlords, with the reactionary central authority. It is a call for a settlement of the question, not in a revolutionary but in a bureaucratic way, for even t.he most democratic regional and Zemstvo organisations are bound to be bureaucratic compared with revolutionary peasant committees, which should settle accounts with the landlords there and then, and take over powers later to be sanctioned by a national constituent assembly.

The second advice would necessarily be: unless the political system is made thoroughly democratic, unless a republic is established and the sovereignty of the people really assured, it will be useless to think either of retaining the gains won by the peasant revolt, or of making further progress. We should formulate this advice to the workers and peasants in the clearest and most precise terms to preclude all doubts, ambiguities, misinterpretations, or the tacit assumption of absurdities such as the possibility of abolishing landlordism under a reactionary central authority. And therefore, in pressing our political advice, we must say to the peasants: after taking the land, you should go further, otherwise you will be beaten and hurled back by the landlords and the big bourgeoisie. You cannot take the land and retain it without achieving new political gains, without striking another and even stronger blow at private ownership of land in general. In politics, as in all the life   of society, if you do not push forward, you will be hurled back. Either the bourgeoisie, strengthened after the democratic revolution (which naturally strengthens the bourgeoisie), will rob both the workers and the peasant masses of all their gains, or the proletariat and the peasant masses will fight their way further forward. And that means a republic and the complete sovereignty of the people. It means—if a republic is established—the nationalisation of all the land as the most that a bourgeois-democratic revolution can attain, as the natural and necessary step from the victory of bourgeois democracy to the beginning of the real struggle for socialism.

The third and last advice is: proletarians and semi-proletarians of town and country, organise separately. Don’t trust any petty proprietors—not even small, or “working”, proprietors. Don’t be tempted with small-scale ownership, so long as commodity production continues. The nearer the peasant uprising is to victory, the more likely is the peasant proprietor to turn against the proletariat, the more necessary is it for the proletariat to have its independent organisation, and the more vigorously, perseveringly, resolutely and loudly should we call for the complete socialist revolution. We stand by the peasant movement to the end; but we have to remember that it is the movement of another class, not the one which can and will bring about the socialist revolution. That is why we leave aside the question of what is to be done about distributing the land as an object of economic activity: in bourgeois society, that question can and will be settled only by the proprietors, big and small. What we are mostly (and after the victory of the peasant uprising exclusively) interested in is: what should the rural proletariat do? We have been and will be concerned mainly with this question, leaving it to the ideologists of the petty bourgeoisie to invent such things as equalised land tenure and the like. Our reply to this question, the fundamental question of the new, bourgeois-democratic Russia is: the rural proletariat must organise independently together with the town proletariat to fight for the complete socialist revolution.

Hence our agrarian programme should consist of three main parts. First, the formulation of the most emphatic call for a revolutionary peasant onslaught upon landlordism;   secondly, a precise definition of the next step the movement can and should take to consolidate the peasants’ gains and to pass from the victory of democracy to the direct proletarian struggle for socialism; third, an indication of the Party’s proletarian class aims, which, as the victory of the peasant uprising draws nearer, more urgently confront us and more persistently demand a clear formulation.

Maslov’s programme does not solve a single one of the fundamental problems that now confront the R.S.D.L.P.; it does not give the slogan that could now, immediately, under the present most anti-democratic state, indicate the path of victory for the peasant movement. This programme does not define exactly the political reforms that are necessary to complete and consolidate the agrarian reforms; it does not indicate the agrarian reforms that will be necessary in a complete and consistent democracy; it does not describe the proletarian attitude of our Party towards all bourgeois-democratic reforms. It defines neither the conditions of the “first step” nor the objects of the “second step”, but lumps everything together: beginning with the transfer of the crown lands to a non-existent “democratic state”, and going on to the transfer of the landed estates to democratic municipalities out of fear of the undemocratic nature of the central authority! Non-revolutionary as regards its present practical significance, based on the assumption of an absolutely artificial and entirely improbable deal with a semi-reactionary central authority, this programme can give no guidance to the workers’ party in any of the possible and conceivable lines of development of the democratic revolution in Russia.

To sum up. The only correct programme, provided there is a democratic revolution, is the following: confiscation of the landed estates and establishment of peasant committees[1] ; this we must demand immediately, without hedging   it round with restricting reservations. Such a demand is revolutionary and advantageous both to the proletariat and to the peasantry in all circumstances, even the worst. Such a demand inevitably involves the collapse of the police state and the strengthening of democracy.

But we cannot limit ourselves to confiscation. In the period of democratic revolution and peasant uprising, we cannot under any circumstances flatly reject nationalisation of the land; but we must specify the particular political conditions without which nationalisation might be detrimental to the proletariat and the peasantry.

Such a programme will he complete and integral. It will unquestionably offer the maximum of what is conceivable in any bourgeois-democratic revolution. It will not tie the hands of the Social-Democrats, for it will allow for division of the land or nationalisation, according to political circumstances. It will under no circumstances cause any friction between the peasants and the proletariat as fighters for democracy.[2] It will here and now, under the present political regime of police-ridden autocracy, advance absolutely revolutionary slogans that will revolutionise this regime; and it will also contain further demands, provided the democratic revolution is completely victorious, i.e., provided a situation arises in which the completion of the democratic revolution opens new prospects and brings forward new tasks.

It is absolutely essential that the programme should precisely indicate the special proletarian position we occupy throughout the democratic agrarian revolution. We need not be embarrassed by the fact that the place for this is a   resolution on tactics, or that it repeats the general part of our programme.

It is worth sacrificing the symmetrical division of subjects into programmatic and tactical, if by doing so we make our position clear and intelligible to the masses.

Herewith we submit the draft agrarian programme drawn up by the majority of the “Agrarian Committee” (appointed by the Joint Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. to draft a new agrarian programme).


[1] Like X., Maslov “sees a contradiction in the fact that we demand abolition of the social-estates and the establishment of peasant, i.e., social-estate, committees. In fact, the contradiction is only a seeming one: the abolition of the social-estates requires a ’dictatorship’ of the lowest, oppressed social-estate, just as the abolition of classes in general, including the class of proletarians, requires the dictatorship of the proletariat. The object of our entire agrarian programme is   the eradication of feudal and social-estate traditions in the sphere of agrarian relations, and to bring that about the only possible appeal can be to the lowest social-estate, to those who are oppressed by these remnants of the serf-owning system.” Lenin, “Reply to X.”, p. 29. (See present edition, Vol. 6, p. 440.—Ed.)—Lenin

[2] To remove any idea that the workers’ party wants to impose upon the peasantry any scheme of reforms against their will and independently of any movement among the peasantry, we have attached to the draft programme Variant A, in which, instead of the direct demand for nationalisation, we say first that the Party supports the striving of the revolutionary peasantry to abolish private ownership of land.—Lenin

  Comrade Maslov’s Principal Mistake | Draft Agrarian Programme  

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