V. I.   Lenin

The Agrarian Debates in the Third Duma

Published: Proletary, No. 40, December 1 (14). 190S Signed: N. L.. Published according to the text in Proletary.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1973, Moscow, Volume 15, pages 303-318.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Nearly a month of agrarian debates in the Third Duma has provided exceptionally valuable material for the study of the present state of the agrarian question, the lessons of the revolution and the tasks of the proletariat. We shall try and draw the main conclusions from this material. The speakers fall of themselves into four groups—the Rights, the Cadets, the peasants and the Social-Democrats. The differences between the “Right” in the narrow sense of the word and the Octobrists completely fade out. The peas ants unquestionably act as a single political tendency on the agrarian question, the difference between the Right-wing peasants and the Trudoviks being only a distinction of shadings within a single tendency. Let us analyse the position which each of these groups took up. (The figures in brackets refer to the pages of the verbatim reports in the supplement to Rossiya.)

As could have been expected of Black-Hundred “parliamentarians”, the Rights and the Octobrists tried to cover up the substance of their agrarian policy with the litter of juridical casuistry and archive rubbish, holding forth on the relations between the law of November 9, 1906, and Article 12 of the General Statute on the Peasantry (granting the peasants, after redemption, the right to demand a separate piece of land as their private property), then on Article 165 of the Statute of Land Purchase, etc. Posing as a “liberal”, Shidlovsky tried to prove that the legislation of Count D. Tolstoy on inalienability of allotments, etc., contradicted the “spirit” of 1861, whereas the law of November 9, 1906, corresponded to that spirit. All this   was sheer humbug, calculated to throw dust into the eyes of the peasantry and obscure the real issue. To a consider able extent the Cadets, as we shall see later, rose to the bait of the Black Hundreds; but for us socialists it is sufficient to point out in a few words what a thick layer of bureaucratic dust must be brushed off the speeches of the Shidlovskys, the Lykoshins and other lackeys of the Black Hundred tsarist gang to see the real content of their agrarian policy. Mr. Lvov the First, who, we believe, calls himself a Peaceful Renovator, but who in fact is a real Black Hundreder with the manners and graces of a Mr. Struve, expressed this content more clearly than others. “Among the peasantry,” said this servant of the landlords, “two elements have emerged: the helpless individual and the lawless mob (applause from the Right and the Centre).... Such a condition of the masses is a menace to the lawful [meaning, landlords’ I state (applause from the Right and the Centre).... The land must belong to all who toil, the land like the air and water; we have come here to get land and freedom.” This was the dominating voice. And this voice, snatched directly from those superstitions and prejudices which are rooted in the peasant mass, this voice pointed out to us that superstitious conception of authority which can take from some and give to others.... “Let us recall what was said in this building [continued Mr. Lvov remembering previous Dumas]. It is painful for me to recall this, but I will say, I cannot but say, what was discussed in the agrarian commission. Yes, when even the question of leaving at least vegetable allotments or orchards inviolate met with the strongest opposition, met the most violent resistance, and was carried only by the smallest majority; when it was suggested that all land transactions should be stopped, not only mortgages in the Bank of the Nobility, not only sales to the Peasant Bank, but buying and selling land itself, even gifts and inheritance of land—then obviously one trembled, gentlemen, trembled not for the interests of the landlord, but trembled for the condition and the destiny of the state (applause of the Centre and the Right. Exclamation: “Bravo!”). On such a Foundation it is impossible to build a capitalist, a modern state” (293).

The landlord state “trembled” for its existence, “trembled” at the “voice” (and movement) of the peasant masses. These gentlemen cannot even imagine any capitalism that is not based on the preservation of landlordism, i. e., feudalist landownership. The “educated” Lvovs have not even heard that capitalism develops most widely, freely and rapidly when all private property in land is completely abolished!

For agitation among the masses, the study of extracts from the speeches of Shidlovsky, Bobrinsky, Lvov, Golitsyn, Kapustin and Co. is absolutely necessary. Up till now we have seen the autocracy almost exclusively when it was giving orders, and sometimes, rarely, publishing statements in the spirit of Ugryum-Burcheyev.[2] Now we have the open defence of the landlord monarchy and the Black-Hundred “constitution” by the organised representatives of the ruling classes, and this defence provides very valuable material for the awakening of those sections of the people who are politically unconscious or indifferent. Let us briefly note two particularly important circumstances. In the first place, when setting out their political programme, the Right constantly bring forward to their audience the living enemy against whom they are fighting. This enemy is the revolution. “Fear” of the revolution, which was so clearly expressed by the stupid Lvov, is no less clearly manifest in all who at every step recall the recent past with hatred, anger, and grinding of teeth. This direct posing of all questions on the basis of counter-revolution, this subordination of all arguments to one principal and root argument, the struggle against revolution, contains within itself a profound truth. And it makes the speeches of the Right incomparably more valuable material, both for the scientific analysis of the present situation and for purposes of agitation, than the speeches of the half-hearted and cowardly liberals. The unrestrained fury with which the Right attack the revolution, the end of 1905, the risings, the first two Dumas, shows better than any long speeches that the protectors of the autocracy see before them a living enemy, that they do not consider the struggle with the revolution ended, that the revival of the revolution looms before them every minute as a very real and immediate   threat. You don’t fight a dead enemy in this way. You don’t hate a dead enemy like this. The simple-minded Mr. Balakleyev naively expressed this common spirit of all the speeches of the Right. Saying that of course the ukase of November 9 could not be rejected, since it expressed the royal will, he declared at the same time: “Gentlemen of the Imperial Duma! We are living at a time of revolution which, in my profound conviction, has far from ended yet” (364). Mr. Balakleyev fears the “revolutionary origin” of the law of November 9; he is afraid it may inflame a new struggle. “We are going through a painful crisis,” he said, “and how it will end no one knows. Imagination draws the most sombre pictures, but our duty is not to support sedition and discord among the people."

The second, very important, circumstance refers to the economic, and particularly the agrarian, programme of the Right. This is their defence of the private property in land of the peasants, a defence which is the keynote of all their speeches, including that of the arch-priest Mitrofanushka (Bishop Mitrofan), who spoke immediately after the reporter, evidently seeking to frighten the democratic but downtrodden village priests. Comically trying to over come in himself the habit of playing the religious simpleton and of using the language of the seminary (“the village commune is a primordial phenomenon”), he mouthed such phrases as “Life develops in the direction of a greater and greater individuality of personality”; “We must recognise as useful the new pattern of life among our peasants on the model of the West-European farmers” (69).

It may be asked, why do the class of landlords and the class of capitalists so energetically defend, both in the Second and in the Third Dumas, the private property in land of the peasants? Only because such is the “latest government instruction"? Of course not. This instruction it self has been suggested and prompted by the Council of the United Nobility.[3] The landlords and capitalists know perfectly well what enemy they have to fight, they realise only too well that the revolution has bound up the victory of the landlords’ interests with the victory of private property in land in general; the victory of peasant interests with the abolition of private property in land in   general, both landlords’ and peasants’ property. The combination of private property in the allotment lands with social property in the expropriated landlords’ estates is a poor invention of the Cadets and the Mensheviks. In reality the struggle is whether the landlords will be the builders of the new Russia (this is impossible, except on the basis of private property in land of all kinds), or whether it will be the peasant masses (this is impossible in a semi-feudal country without destroying private property both in landlords’ and in allotment lands).

Let us go on to the Cadets. Their speeches are distinguished from those of the Right and those of the Left by a striving to reconcile the irreconcilable, to straddle two stools. Only in that part of Mr. Milyukov’s speech in which he spoke as a historian, and not as a Cadet, have we a splendid selection of facts on the history of the Council of the United Nobility—a summary which does credit to any democrat. But on the whole Shingaryov, Berezovsky, Milyukov, Bobyansky and Rodichev swallowed the bait. of the Black-Hundred Mr. Shidlovsky, and with enormous zeal stuffed the heads of their audience with juridical casuistry, poured out phrases about “justice” according to Roman law (“for greater show” Rodichev, even inserted the Latin word aequitas! “We” did learn something in the university after all!), sank to contemptible boot-licking (Mr. Shingaryov certified his “respect” for Stolypin’s lackey Lykoshin, and tried to prove that compulsory alienation of land was practised in countries where “the institution of private property is most sacredly observed”). All the Cadet speeches objecting to the law of November 9 struck a note of “caution”. We Bolsheviks were accused of denigrating the Cadets by calling them liberal landlords. As a matter of fact, they are worse. They are liberal placemen. One can not imagine a greater corruption of the democratic conscience of the masses than this pronouncing in the Duma, by the party of so-called “democrats”, of speeches which blunt the edge of the struggle, which preach the “caution” of bureaucrats, which basely praise that plundering and enslavement of the peasants by the feudalist landlords known as “the Great Reform” of 1861!

To attack Stolypin for the “indiscreetness” of his agrarian   policy means to become a prostitute, to offer oneself for the post of such instruments of this policy as would be able to do the very same job “discreetly”, i. e., carry out that same landlords’ policy under the false flag of “constitutional democracy”, carry it out not by force alone but also by deceiving the peasants. Here is one of the numerous Cadet statements which reveal precisely this sense of what they were saying. Mr. Berezovsky, whose speech was highly approved by the Cadet leader Mr. Milyukov (he called it “excellent”), declared:

I am profoundly convinced that this Bill [the Cadet Land Bill] is far more advantageous for the landowners as well [not only for the peasants]: and I say this, gentlemen, knowing agriculture, engaged in it all my life and owning land myself. For cultured farming the Bill of the party of people’s freedom would undoubtedly be more useful than the present system. One should not seize on the bare fact of compulsory alienation, get bitter about it, and call it an act of violence; one should look at what is proposed in our Bill, assess what it amounts to, and consider how this compulsory alienation is to be carried out [golden words, Mr. Berezovsky. Can you have become a Bolshevik?]. Take the Bill of the 42 members of the First Duma; it contained only [that’s just it!] recognition that it was necessary in the first instance to subject to compulsory alienation those lands which were not being exploited by the owners them selves. Then the party of people’s freedom supported the formation of local committees, which at a given time were to ascertain what lands should be subject to compulsory alienation, what should not be subject to it, and how much land the peasants needed to be satisfied. These committees were composed in such a way that half the members should be peasants and half non-peasants. [Speak out, Mr. Berezovsky, don’t be ashamed! The truth can’t be hidden anyhow: thanks to the obligatory appointment of a “neutral” chairman by the landlords’ government, the landlords would always have a safe majority in the committees over the peasants—see Kutler’s draft in Volume II of the Cadet Agrarian Question. I In view of this, the general concrete work in the localities, would of course have made it clear how much land was available for compulsory   alienation, how much land the peasants needed and, finally, the peasants themselves would see how far their just demands could be satisfied. Then all this would go through the Duma and the Council of State [just so! I and after being dealt with by them [i.e., after a second whittling-down of the “reform” by the new landlord-bureaucrat majority!] would pass up for the royal sanction [recall the consistent reduction of the size of allotments by similar high authorities in 18611. The result of this systematic work would undoubtedly have been the genuine satisfaction of the real needs of the population and, linked with this, pacification and preservation of cultured estates, which the party of people’s freedom never wished to destroy, except in case of extreme necessity” (143).

Mr. Berezovsky in October 1908 admitted everything the Bolsheviks had said in the summer of 1906 about the Cadets’ Land Bill! In the First Duma the Cadets were publicly advertising the democratic exterior of their reform, while proving in private conversations with Trepov and his hangers-on its favourable character for the landlords. In the Third Duma the Cadets publicly advertise the landlord character of their reform, while demonstrating its democratic character in conversations held secretly from the police with those few simpletons who can still listen to grandmother’s tales. The two-faced Janus turns his “faces” now one way, now another, according to the direction from which the wind blows. The “democrats” fall so low that they try to prove to the Black-Hundred diehards how inoffensive their actions and programmes are at a time of revolution!

Compare with this the speeches of the peasants. Take a typical Right-wing peasant, Storchak. He begins his speech by repeating in full the words of Nicholas II about “the sacred rights of property”, the impermissibility of their “infringement”, etc. He continues: “May God grant the Emperor health. He spoke well for the whole people” (295). And he finishes: “But if His Majesty said that there should be justice and order, then, of course, if I am sitting on 3 dessiatines of land, and next to me there are 30,000 dessiatines, that is not order and justice” (296)! Compare this monarchist with the monarchist Berezovsky. One is   an ignorant peasant, the other an educated almost-European. The first is as innocent as a babe unborn and amazingly ignorant politically. The link between the monarchy and “order”, i. e., the disorder and injustice which protect the owners of 30,000 dessiatines, is not clear to him. The second is a skilled politician who knows all the ins and outs to Witte, Trepov, Stolypin and Co., and who has studied the niceties of European constitutions. The first is one of those millions who toil and moil all their life on 3 dessiatines, and whom economic realities drive into mass revolutionary struggle against the holders of 30,000 dessiatines. The second is one of the tens of thousands or at most one hundred thousand landlords who wants “peacefully” to keep his “cultured estate” by throwing a sop to the peasant. Is it not clear that the first can make a bourgeois revolution in Russia, abolish landlordism and set up a peasant republic (however much this word may frighten him now)? Is it not clear that the second cannot but hinder the struggle of the masses without which the victory of the revolution is impossible?

Those people who still cannot for the life of them understand what “the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” means, should give some thought to this!

Storchak’s agrarian programme is that same Land Bill of the 42 peasant deputies in the Third Duma about which we wrote in Proletary,[1] No. 22. Outwardly very modest, this Bill is more Left than the Cadet Bill, as the Cadets themselves admit. By demanding discussion of the reform under which the peasantry is to have land allotted to it by local committees elected by a democratic vote, this Bill in effect is a revolutionary document—since the discussion of land reform in the local areas by genuinely democratic elected institutions is absolutely incompatible with the maintenance in present-day Russia of the rule of the tsar and of landlordism. And the fact that, in a Black- Hundred Duma elected on the basis of an electoral law manipulated in favour of the landlords on the instructions of the united nobility, and at a time when the most violent   reaction and unbridled White Terror are rampant, 42 peasants put their signatures to such a Bill in such a Duma demonstrates the revolutionary state of mind of the peasant mass in Russia of today better than any argument. Let the opportunists strive to prove the necessity of an alliance with the Cadets, the necessity of the proletariat coming closer together with the bourgeoisie in the bourgeois revolution: class-conscious workers will only be strengthened in their conviction, after reading the debates in the Third Duma, that a victorious bourgeois revolution in Russia is impossible without a joint onset by the worker and peasant masses, in spite of the waverings and betrayals of the bourgeoisie.

If Storchak, and the deputies who at bottom share his views—the priest Titov, Andreichuk, Popov IV and Nikityuk—express the revolutionary temper of the peasant mass unconsciously, spontaneously, afraid themselves not only to speak out, but even to think out what their words and proposals imply, the Trudoviks in the Third Duma express the spirit of the peasants’ mass struggle outspokenly. Most valuable in this respect are the speeches of the Trudovik peasants, who state their views forthrightly, conveying the moods and aspirations of the masses with amazing precision and liveliness, mixing up programmes (some speak of their sympathy with the Bill of the 42 peasants, others of sympathy with the Cadets), but all the more strongly expressing what lies deeper than any programmes.

Take Kropotov, deputy from Vyatka Gubernia. “My electors told me that the law of November 9 is a landlords’ law.... My electors put questions like this: Why is this being done by force?.., Why are our lands handed over to the rural superintendents[4]?... The electors mandated me to say: You tell them in the Duma that we can’t go on living like this.... And as soon as they start applying it [the law of November 9] in our district the new landlords, as our peasants call them, find their houses on fire” (71).... “All they care about is to reward the landlords..., Why is it in the public interest to take the last piece away from the poor man and give it to those who, as I put it, managed just by chance, under the law written by the government, to keep their land? Isn’t it in the public interest that people should be forced to cultivate land that is lying idle—the   landlords’ land, state, crown and monastery lands?... 11 rubles 50 kopeks per dessiatine comes in from the peasant, and if, gentlemen, we were fair and imposed this tax equally on all, the land would really prove to be in t.he hands of the peasants, and no compulsory alienation would be needed. To be fair, there should be a single tax on the land, and then it will be in the hands of the working masses, and then no one will be envious: whoever doesn’t want to work, won’t pay” (73)....

What strength as yet untried in struggle, what a striving towards struggle is contained in this naive speech! To avoid “compulsory alienation”, Kropotov in effect proposes a measure which is tantamount to confiscation of the landed estates and nationalisation of all the land! That the “single tax” which this adherent of Henry George[5] proposes is tantamount to nationalisation of all the land, Kropotov does not realise; but that he is expressing the true aspirations of millions—of this there can be no shadow of doubt.

Take deputy Rozhkov, who begins by saying: “It is difficult for me, a village muzhik, gentlemen, to speak from this rostrum” (77). “The peasants expected from the Duma not the law of November 9, not a law which divides amongst us land we haven’t got, but a law under which first our plots of land would have increased, and then division would have begun. The main principles of such a law were submitted on February 20, signed by 47 peasants, but up till now nothing has been done about it.... The rural superintendents are bosses of the land ... but the real masters of that land are tied down by a reinforced state of security.... We have no definite law in the country for purchase of land in order to make use of it ... which would say: don’t buy it for use And lo and behold, on September 16, 1907, the Stavropol land committee decided that land could be bought only by a man possessing draught animals and agricultural implements. And here, gentlemen, in this very building, nearly half are landlords holding in bondage these men whom the land committee won’t allow to buy land. Gentlemen, We know that these people are working for 60-70 rubles a year.... This poor toiler is doomed for ever to be a worker for the landlord, an eternal drudge for other   people, while behind his back his master will consider himself a cultured person."

Tomilov: “The only way out ... in our opinion, is this: the land should be redistributed at once, in all the village communes of Russia, on the basis of a census similar to those previously carried out; this census should establish the number of male persons as on November 3, 1905.

"The fond dream of the peasant is to get land and freedom, but we have heard that so long as.the present government is in power, landed property is inviolable. (Voices in the Centre: “Private property.") Yes, private, noblemen’s property. (Voices in the Centre: “And yours too.") As far as we are concerned, we are prepared to give up our allotments [there it is,. the peasant Vendée, with which the so wise Plekhanov and Co. were frightening us at Stockholm, in the event that all the land was nationalised[6]!]. I will say that the peasants in any village are willing to give up their allotments, unit for unit, and to become equal. The statement of the representative of the Ministry amounts to this, that so long as power has not passed into the hands of the peasantry and the people generally, the peasants will not see either the land or political liberties. Thank you for your frankness, though we knew it already” (149)....

"And in 1905, when, under the leadership of the conscious elements, the peasants united together (noise and laughter on the Right) and said their grim.word ... then the nobility began to say: ‘Why, you’ve got land, you’ve got your allotments. Go and divide up that little bone...’."

Petrov III: “Remember, gentlemen, the times of the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich, and the protest of the peasant people which expressed itself in the movement under the leadership of Razin[7] (voices on the Right: “Oho!”).... The people most strongly expressed its demands in 1905. Then, too, poverty made the people come out into the streets and say their imperious say about what they needed” (187).... “All the land must pass into equalised tenure of all the people.... I am of course an opponent of private property in land [the Vendée predicted by Plekhanov positively begins to extend!] and I say that the working people will not get an easier time until all the land passes into their hands” (204).... “I am absolutely convinced you will see once again   the depths of the sea of life disturbed. And then the saying of the Testament will come true: he who lifts the sword shall perish by the sword (laughter on the Right). The Trudovik group has not changed its ideals and has not changed its aspirations.... We ... say: all the land to those who work on it, and all power to the working people!” (206).

Merzlyakov: “The land must belong to those who till it.... Only there mustn’t be any land racket in Russia, and the land should belong to those who till it by their own labour” (207). And so on.

Lack of space obliges us to quote no more. We shall mention only the names of the speakers who expressed the same ideas less clearly and strongly: Kondratyev, the priest Popov II, Bulat, Volkov II, Dzióbiński, Lachnicki (the last two making official statements on behalf of the Trudovik group).

What conclusions in relation to the agrarian programme of Social-Democracy follow from this attitude of the peasant deputies? All are agreed that the peasants invest the struggle against the feudal latifundia and all the survivals of serfdom with the utopias of petty-bourgeois socialism. This is expressed in the concluding section of our agrarian programme which was drafted by the Bolsheviks and accepted at Stockholm by the Mensheviks (Minutes of the Stockholm Congress).

But the question does not end there. Division of the land, municipalisation, nationalisation are all bourgeois- democratic reforms; but what system should the Social- Democrats support? Municipalisation, answer the Mensheviks headed by Plekhanov, since they got this programme adopted at Stockholm. Nationalisation of the peasant lands would arouse a Vend 6e, the Mensheviks flatly declared at Stockholm.

Since then, peasant deputies from all over Russia have spoken in three Dumas. Not a single group of peasant deputies has been won over to “municipalisation”, which was invented specially in order “not to touch” the peasant lands. All the peasant Trudoviks in all three Dumas declared for nationalisation of all the land, expressing this demand some times by directly repeating the Trudoviks’ programme, sometimes by an original restating of the “single tax”,   sometimes by numerous declarations that “the land should go to those who till it”, “we are prepared to give up our allotments”, etc.

Real life has made a joke of “municipalisation” and the outcry about a “Vendée”.

What is the economic basis for the supporting of nationalisation by all politically-conscious peasants? To answer this question, let us recall a statistical comparison made in the Duma by Comrade Belousov[8];

"Some 76 million dessiatines belong to 30,000 landlords (in European Russia), while 73 million dessiatines belong to 10 million peasant households with an allotment of I to 15 dessiatines. . .. There is only one conclusion possible—that four-fifths of the total number of households could double the size of their holding” (209). Even if one or other of these figures is challenged (we think that they cannot be challenged), no alteration in them can affect the crux of the matter, which is the following. In striving to double their holdings, the peasants cannot but strive for the complete fusion and mixing-up of allotment and non-allotment lands. The preservation of allotment lands as private property, the property as at present of the peasant house holds and communes, while the expropriated non-allotment lands are declared social ("municipal”) property is an economic absurdity. It is the most stupid agrarian bimetallism, suited only for taking up space in programmes invented by intellectuals. The economy requires the fusion and mixing up of all lands. The economy is already uniting bits of allotment land with bits of landlords’ land (by leasehold); and the elimination of feudalism is impossible without eliminating those distinctions in landowning, those bounds and barriers, which “municipalisation” artificially perpetuates. The economy requires a new landowning, a free landowning adapted to capitalism and not to the old “allotments”, distributed and demarcated by bailiffs and official agents. This requirement of economic development is what the peasants express (without realising the capitalist nature of this development) when they declare for nationalisation. The old distinction of allotment and non-allotment landowning contradicts the requirements of capitalism, and it will inevitably be broken down, despite all the efforts of the   Menshevik municipalisers to prop it. up. And the breaking- down of this barrier, the amalgamation, the mixing up, the fusion of all categories of lands for the new economy of the farmer, requires the abolition not only of landlords’ property, but of all private property in land (the peasants think mistakenly that any citizen will till the soil; it will be tilled by every master, i. e., by the one who has the means to do it!).

Stolypin wants to wipe out all previous barriers of all previous forms of landowning. This desire is economically correct. Capitalism will inevitably put it into effect. The question is only whether this will he done at the expense of millions of peasant households (robbery under the law of November 9) or at the expense of the 30,000 biggest landlords. The latter method is impossible without nationalisation of the land in a bourgeois-democratic revolution. That is why in all the three Dumas all politically-conscious peasants supported nationalisation.

It remains for us to examine the speeches of the Social- Democrats in the Third Duma. Only two speakers of our group managed to speak (Gegechkori and Belousov) before a time limit was introduced. The others began refusing to speak, protesting against the “act of force” expressed in this restriction. Both the comrades mentioned did their duty properly. They pointed out the “aristocratic-bureaucratic spirit” of the government’s policy; they said that the “statute of 1861 was feudalistic through and through”; that “hatred of the government” had sunk deep into the soul of the peasantry, which was demanding “land and freedom”, and which had displayed in 1.905 its “solidarity” and its capacity for “revolutionary action”. Our Social-Democratic struggle for “confiscation of the latifundia and their transfer to the people” was correctly interpreted by the speakers of our Party, not in the spirit of petty-bourgeois utopias about “equalisation”, “socialisation” and so forth, but as a measure to free the country from the yoke of serf-like bondage. The way Gegechkori and Belousov put the question was the way of a revolutionary Social Democrat. “Might creates Right,” concluded Comrade Belousov, “and in order to win Right we must gather our forces and organise them.” Both speeches by the Social-Democratic spokesmen in the Third Duma   should be kept for handy reference by every member of the Party who carries on the work of propaganda and agitation. The formula for handing over the land proposed by the Social-Democratic group missed out only the demand that the land should be transferred without compensation. This would have been an important breach of our programme if it had been done deliberately. But Comrade Gegechkori, who read the formula, mentioned twice in his speech the necessity of “alienation without compensation”; therefore the omission can hardly be regarded as deliberate.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 13, pp. 458-59.—Ed.

[2] Ugryum-Burcheyev–a type of dull narrow-minded dignitary described by Saltykov-Shchedrin in his story History of a Town.

[3] Council of the United Nobility—a counter-revolutionary organisation of feudalist landlords. It was established in May 1906 at the First Congress of Delegates of Gubernia Assemblies of the Nobility, and existed up to October 1917. The chief aim of this organisation was to defend the autocratic regime, the big landed estates and the privileges of the nobility. The Council was headed by Count A. A. Bobrinsky, Prince N. F. Kasatkin-Rostovsky Count D. A. Olsufyev, V. M. Purishkevich and others. Lenin called it a “council of united feudalists”. The Council of the United Nobility was really a semi-governmental body that dictated to the government legislative measures for protecting the interests of the feudalists. A great many of the Council’s members belonged to the Council of State and the leading centres of the Black Hundreds.

[4] Rural superintendent (zemsky nachalnik)—an administrative office instituted by the tsarist government in 1889 to strengthen the authority of the landlords over the peasants. The rural superintendents were appointed from among the local landed nobility and were granted very great powers—not merely administrative, but also judicial—with regard to the peasants. p. 310

[5] Henry George—an American bourgeois economist and publicist, whose views were criticised by K. Marx in his letter of June 20, 1881 to F. Sorge, and by F. Engels in his preface to the American edition of his book The Condition of the Working Class in England (see K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, pp. 414-17).

[6] This refers to Plekhanov’s speech at the Fourth (Unity) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. where he was co-reporter on the question of revision of the agrarian programme. Speaking against nationalisation of the land, Plekhanov said: “To make nationalisation harmless we must find a guarantee against restoration; and there is not, nor can there be, any such guarantee. Recall the history of France; recall the history of England; in each of these countries, the wide sweep of the revolution was followed by restoration. The same may happen in our country; and our programme must be such that in the event of its application, the harm that may be caused by restoration may be reduced to a minimum.” (Minutes of the Fourth [Unity] Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., Moscow, 1959, Russ. ed., pp. 59-60.)

[7] Razin, Stepan—outstanding leader of the peasant revolt in Russia in 1667-71 against feudal oppression and serfdom.

[8] The draft of Belousov’s speech on the agrarian question was writ ten by Lenin. The statistical comparisons and figures quoted by Belousov were taken from Lenin’s books, not yet published at the time, namely, The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in the First Russian Revolution, 1905-07 (see present edition, Vol. 13, pp. 217-429) and The Agrarian Question in Russia Towards the Close of the Nineteenth Century (see pp. 69-147 of this volume).

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