If nationalisation is regarded as a measure most likely to be achieved in the epoch of bourgeois revolution, such a view must inevitably lead to the admission that nationalisation may turn out to be a mere transition to division. The real economic need which compels the mass of the peasantry to strive for nationalisation is the need for the thorough renovation of all the old agrarian relationships, for “clearing” all the land, for readapting it to the new system of farming. That being the case, it is clear that the farmers who have adapted themselves, who have renovated the whole system of landownership, may demand that the new agrarian system be consolidated, i.e., that the holdings they have rented from the state be converted into their property.
Yes, that is indisputable. We arrive at nationalisation not from abstract arguments, but from a concrete calculation of the concrete interests of a concrete epoch. And, of course, it would be ridiculous to regard the mass of small farmers as “idealists”; it would be ridiculous to think that they will stop at division if their interests demand it. Consequently, we must inquire: (1) whether their interests can demand division; (2) under What circumstances; and (3) how this will affect the proletarian agrarian programme.
We have already answered the first question in the affirmative. To the second question no definite reply can yet be given. After the period of revolutionary nationalisation the demand for division may be evoked by the desire to consolidate to the greatest possible degree the new agrarian relations, which meet the requirements of capitalism. It may be evoked by the desire of the given owners of land to increase their incomes at the expense of the rest of society. Finally, it may be evoked by the desire to “quieten” (or, plainly speaking, to put down) the proletariat and the semi-proletarian strata, for whom nationalisation of the land will be an element that will “whet the appetite” for the socialisation of the whole of social production. All these three possibilities reduce themselves to a single economic basis, since the consolidation of the new system of capitalist landownership of the new farmers automatically creates anti-proletarian sentiments and a striving on the part of these farmers to create new privileges for themselves in the shape of right of ownership. Hence, the question reduces itself precisely to this economic consolidation. The constant factor counteracting this will be the development of capitalism, which increases the superiority of large-scale agriculture and demands constant facility for the “consolidation” of small farms into large ones. A temporary factor counteracting it will be the land available for colonisation in Russia: consolidating the new economy means raising the technical level of agriculture. And we have already shown that every step forward in agricultural technique “opens up” for Russia more and more new areas of land available for colonisation.
Our examination of the second question leads to the following deduction: the circumstances under which the new farmers’ demands for the division of the land will overcome all counteracting influences cannot be predicted with accuracy. Allowance, however, must be made for the fact that capitalist development after the bourgeois revolution will inevitably give rise to such circumstances.
As regards the last question, that concerning the attitude of the workers’ party towards the possible demand of the new farmers for the division of the land, a very definite reply can be given. The proletariat can and must support the militant bourgeoisie when the latter wages a really revolutionary struggle against feudalism. But it is not for the proletariat to support the bourgeoisie when the latter is becoming quiescent. If it is certain that a victorious bourgeois revolution in Russia is Impossible without the nationalisation of the land, then it is still more certain that a subsequent turn towards the division of the land is impossible without a certain amount of “restoration”, without the peasantry (or rather, from the point of view of the presumed relations: farmers) turning towards counter revolution. The proletariat will uphold the revolutionary tradition against all such strivings and will not assist them.
In any case, it would be a great mistake to think that, in the event of the new farmer class turning towards division of the land, nationalisation would be a transient phenomenon of no serious significance. In any case, it would have tremendous material and moral significance. Material significance, in that nothing is capable of so thoroughly sweeping away the survivals of medievalism in. Russia, of so thoroughly renovating the rural districts, which are in a state of Asiatic semi-decay, of so rapidly promoting agricultural progress, as nationalisation. Any other solution of the agrarian question in the revolution would create less favourable starting-points for further economic development.
The moral significance of nationalisation in the revolutionary epoch is that the proletariat helps to.strike a blow at “one form of private property” which must inevitably have its repercussions all over the world. The proletariat stands for the most consistent and most. determined bourgeois revolution and the most favourable conditions for capitalist development, thereby most effectively counteracting all half-heartedness, flabbiness, spinelessness and passivity—qualities which the bourgeoisie cannot help displaying.