V. I.   Lenin

Political Parties in Russia

Published: Nevskaya Zvezda No. 5, May 10, 1912. Signed: V. Ilyin. Published according to the text in Nevskaya Zvezda.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 44-55.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
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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The Duma elections are compelling all the parties to intensify their agitation and rally their forces, so that they may return the greatest possible number of deputies of “their own” party.

In Russia, as in all other countries, the election campaign is attended by the most brazen self-advertisement. All the bourgeois parties, that is, those which uphold the economic privileges of the capitalists, are advertising themselves in the same way as individual capitalists advertise their goods. Look at the commercial advertisements in any news paper—you will see that the capitalists think up the most “striking”, bombastic and fashionable names for their merchandise, which they praise in the most unrestrained manner, stopping at no lie or invention whatever.

The general public—at any rate in the big cities and trade centres—has long since become used to commercial advertisement and knows its worth. Unfortunately, political advertisement misleads an incomparably greater number of people; it is much harder to expose and its deception much more lasting. The names of some parties, both in Europe and in Russia, are chosen with a direct eye to advertisement, and their “programmes” are quite often written for the sole purpose of hoodwinking the public. The greater the degree of political liberty in a capitalist country and the more democracy there is, i.e., the greater the power of the people and of their representatives, the more shameless, in many cases, is the self-advertisement of parties.

That being so, how is one to see what is what in the fight between the various parties? Does not this fight, with its fraud and advertising, indicate that representative institutions, parliaments, assemblies of people’s representatives,   are in general useless and even harmful, as rabid reactionaries, the enemies of parliamentarism make out? No. In the absence of representative institutions there is much more deception, political lying and fraudulent trickery of all kinds, and the people have much fewer means of exposing the deception and finding out the truth.

To see what is what in the fight between the parties, one must not take words at their face value but must study the actual history of the parties, must study not so much what they say about themselves as their deeds, the way in which they go about solving various political problems, and their behaviour in matters affecting the vital interests of the various classes of society—landlords, capitalists, peasants, workers, etc.

The greater the degree of political liberty in a country and the more stable and democratic its representative institutions, the easier it is for the mass of the people to find its bearings in the fight between the parties and to learn politics, i.e., to expose the deception and find out the truth.

The division of any society into different political parties is revealed most clearly of all in times of profound crises shaking the whole country. For at such times governments are compelled to seek support among the various classes of society; all phrase-mongering, all that is petty and extraneous, is brushed aside by the gravity of the struggle; the parties strain every nerve and appeal to the masses, and the masses, guided by their unerring instinct and enlightened by the experience of an open struggle, follow the parties that represent the interests of a particular class.

The epochs of such crises always determine the party alignment of the social forces of the country concerned for many years or even decades ahead. In Germany, for instance, such crises were the wars of 1866 and 1870[1]; in Russia, the events of 1905. We cannot understand the essence of our political parties, nor gain a clear idea as to which classes a particular party in Russia represents, unless we go back to the events of that year.

Let us begin our brief survey of the political parties in Russia with the parties of the extreme Right.

On the extreme right flank, we find the Union of the Russian People.

The programme of this party is set forth as follows in Russkoye Znamya, the Union’s newspaper published by A. I. Dubrovin:

The Union of the Russian People, which on June 3, 19O7, was accorded the honour of being called upon from the height of the Tsar’s throne to be its reliable bulwark, and to serve as an example of law and order to all and in everything, proclaims that the will of the Tsar can only be exercised: (1) if the Tsar’s autocratic power, which is indissolubly and vitally bound up with the Russian Orthodox Church, canonically established, manifests itself in full measure; (5) if the Russian nationality is dominant not only in the inner gubernias, but also in the border regions; (3) if there is a Duma, composed exclusively of Russians, as the main assistant of the monarch in his work for building up the state; (4) if the principles of the Union of the Russian People with regard to the Jews are fully observed; and (5) if all officials who are opposed to the Tsar’s autocratic power are removed from government service.”

We have faithfully copied this solemn declaration of the Rights, on the one hand, so that the reader may be directly acquainted with the original and, on the other, because the fundamental motives stated in it are valid for all the parties of the majority in the Third Duma, i.e., for the nationalists and the Octobrists as well. This will be seen from what we say further on.

The programme of the Union of the Russian People in effect repeats the old slogan of the days of serfdom, that is, Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationhood. In regard to the question on which the Union is generally set apart from other kindred parties—namely, recognition or rejection of “constitutional” principles in the Russian political system—it is particularly important to note that the Union is by no means opposed to representative institutions in general. It is evident from the programme quoted above that the Union favours a Duma that will play the part of “assistant

Moreover, the specific feature of the Russian Constitution—if we may call it that—is expressed by the Dubrovinite correctly, i.e., in keeping with the actual state of affairs. It is this stand that is taken by both the nationalists and the Octobrists in their practical policies. The controversy between these parties over the “Constitution” is largely a fight over words. The Rights are not opposed to a Duma; they only stress with particular zeal that it must be an   “assistant”, without specifying its powers in any way. The nationalists and the Octobrists, for their part, do not insist on any clearly specified powers of the Duma, let alone on real guarantees of its powers. The Octobrist “constitutionalists” fully agree with the “opponents of Constitution” on the basis of the June Third Constitution.

The programme of the Black Hundreds is straightforward, clear and outspoken on the point of persecuting non-Russians in general and the Jews in particular. As always, they bring out more rudely, brazenly and incitingly what the other government parties more or less “bashfully” or diplomatically keep to themselves.

In reality, both the nationalists and the Octobrists have a hand in the persecution of non-Russians, as is well known to anyone who is at all familiar with the activity of the Third Duma or with such press organs as Novoye Vremya, Svet, Golos Moskvy[2] and the like.

The question is: What is the social basis of the party of the Rights? What class does it represent? What class does it serve?

That party’s reversion to the slogans of serfdom, its up holding of all that is outdated, of all that is medieval in Russian life, its complete satisfaction with the June Third Constitution—the landlords’ Constitution—and its defence of the privileges of the nobility and officialdom all provide a clear answer to our question. The Rights are the party of the semi-feudal landlords, of the Council of the United Nobility.[3] Not for nothing did that Council play such a prominent, indeed a leading, role in the dispersal of the Second Duma, the change of the electoral law and the coup d’état of June 3.[4]

To give an idea of the economic strength of this class in Russia, it is sufficient to cite the following basic fact, proved by the data of the government statistics of landownership in 1905, published by the Ministry of the Interior.

Less than 30,000 landlords in European Russia own 70,000,000 dessiatines of land; the same amount of land is owned by 10,000,000 peasant households with the smallest allotments. This makes an average of about 2,300 dessiatines per big landlord, and, in the case of the poor peasants, an average of 7 dessiatines per family, per household.

It is quite natural and inevitable that the peasant cannot live on such an “allotment” but can only die a slow death. The recurrent famines which affect millions, such as this year’s famine, continue to dislocate peasant farming in Russia following each crop failure. The peasants are compelled to rent land from the landlords, paying for it by various forms of labour service. To pay for the use of the land, the peasant works for the landlord with his horse and his implements. This is nothing short of corvée, except that it is not officially called serfdom. With 2,300 dessiatines of land at their disposal, most of the landlords can run their estates only by keeping the peasants in bondage, by resorting to labour service, that is, the corvée system. They cultivate only part of these huge estates with the help of wage-labourers.

Further, that same class of the landed nobility supplies the state with the overwhelming majority of all higher and middle-ranking civil servants. The privileges of officialdom in Russia represent another side of the privileges and agrarian power of the landed nobility. It is therefore natural that the Council of the United Nobility and the “Right” parties should uphold the policy of adhering to the old feudal traditions not by accident, but because it is inevitable, and not because of the “ill will” of individuals, but under the pressure of the interests of a tremendously powerful class. The old ruling class, the survivals of landlordism, who remain the ruling class as in the past, has created for itself an appropriate party—the Union of the Russian People or the “Rights” in the Duma and in the Council of State.[5]

But, since there exist representative institutions, and since the masses have already come out openly in the political arena, as they did in our country in 1905, each party must necessarily appeal to the people, within certain limits. Now what can the Right parties appeal to the people about?

Of course, they cannot speak plainly in defence of the interests of the landlords. What they do speak of is preserving the old traditions in general, and they spare no efforts to foment distrust towards non-Russians, particularly towards the Jews, to incite the utterly ignorant, the utterly benighted, to pogroms, to “Yid”-baiting. They seek to conceal the privileges of the nobility, the bureaucrats and the landlords with talk about the “oppression” of Russians by non-Russians.

Such is the party of the “Rights”. One of its members, Purishkevich, the most prominent spokesman of the Rights in the Third Duma, has worked a good deal, and successfully, to show the people what the Rights want, how they act, and whom they serve. Purishkevich is a gifted agitator.

Next to the “Rights”, who have forty-six seats in the Third Duma, are the “nationalists” with ninety-one seats. There is hardly a shade of difference between them and the Rights. In fact, these are not two parties, but one party which has effected a division of “labour” in persecuting non-Russians, “Cadets” (liberals), democrats, etc. One lot acts more crudely, the other more subtly, but both are doing the same thing. Indeed, it is to the government’s advantage to have the “extreme” Rights—who are capable of any sort of scandal, riot, the murder of people like Herzenstein, Yollos, Karavayev—standing somewhat apart, as if they were “criticising” the government from the right.... The distinction between the Rights and the nationalists cannot be of any serious importance.

The Octobrists in the Third Duma are 131 strong, including, of course, the “Right Octobrists”. Essentially there is nothing in the present policy of the Octobrists to distinguish them from the Rights, except that the Octobrist Party serves not only the landlords, but also the big capitalists, the conservative merchants, and the bourgeoisie, which was so terrified by the awakening of the workers, and then also of the peasants, to independent political life, that it made a volte-face towards defence of the old order. There are capitalists in Russia—quite a few, indeed—who treat the workers not a bit better than the landlords treated the serfs of old; they look on workers and clerks as their menials, as servants. Nobody is better fitted to defend this old order than the Right parties, the nationalists and the Octobrists. There are also capitalists who at the Zemstvo[6] and municipal congresses in 1904 and 1905 demanded a “constitution”, but are quite willing to make peace on the basis of the June Third Constitution to oppose the workers.

The Octobrist Party is the chief counter-revolutionary party of the landlords and the capitalists. It is the leading party in the Third Duma: the 131 Octobrists with the 137 Rights and nationalists constitute a solid majority in the Third Duma.

The electoral law of June 3, 1907, guaranteed the landlords and the big capitalists a majority: the landlords and electors of the first urban curia (i.e., the big capitalist curia) have a majority in all the gubernia assemblies electing deputies to the Duma. In twenty-eight gubernias the land owners even by themselves have a majority in the election assemblies. The entire policy of the June Third Government has been carried out with the aid of the Octobrist Party, and this party bears the responsibility for all the sins and crimes committed by the Third Duma.

In words, in their programme, the Octobrists uphold a “constitution”, and even liberties! In reality, this party supported all the measures taken against the workers (the Insurance Bill, for example—recall the conduct of the Chairman of the Duma Committee on Labour, Baron Tiesenhausen!), against the peasants, and against any mitigation of tyranny and lack of rights. The Octobrists are just as much a government party as the nationalists. This situation is not in the least altered by the fact that from time to time—particularly on the eve of elections!—the Octobrists deliver “opposition” speeches. In all countries that have parliaments, the bourgeois parties have long been known to indulge in this playing at opposition—a harmless game as far as they are concerned, because no government takes it seriously, and a game which occasionally proves useful as a means of “soothing” the voter by a show of opposition.

However, the greatest expert, the virtuoso, at the game of opposition is the chief opposition party in the Third Duma—the Cadets, Constitutional-“Democrats”, the party of “people’s freedom”.

The very name of this party is part of the game, for in fact it is not at all a democratic party, and by no means a people’s party; it is a party, not of freedom, but of half-freedom, if not of quarter-freedom.

In fact, it is the party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, which dreads the popular movement far more than reaction.

The democrat has faith in the people, in the movement of the masses, and he helps this movement in every way, although he fairly often has (as have the bourgeois democrats, the Trudoviks) a wrong notion about the significance   of this movement within the framework of the capitalist system. The democrat sincerely strives to put an end to all medievalism.

The liberal is afraid of the movement of the masses; he tries to check it, and deliberately defends certain institutions of medievalism—in fact, the most important of them—as a bulwark against the masses, particularly the workers. What the liberals want is by no means to destroy all the foundations of the power of the Purishkeviches, but to share power with them. The democratic petty bourgeois (hence also the peasant and the Trudovik) says: everything for the people and through the people. He sincerely strives to uproot all the foundations of Purishkevichism, though he does not understand the significance of the wage-workers’ struggle against capital. The real aim of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, on the other hand, is to share power with Purishkevich and rule with him over the workers and over the small proprietors.

In the First and the Second Dumas, the Cadets had a majority or occupied a leading position. They used it for a sense less and inglorious game: when facing the Right, they played at loyalty and ability to serve as ministers (as if to say that they could solve all the contradictions by peaceful means, without spoiling the muzhik or offending Purishkevich); when facing the Left, they played at democracy. The result of this game was that in the end the Cadets got a kick from the right. And on the left they earned the just title of betrayers of people’s freedom. In both the First and the Second Dumas, they fought all the time not only against the working-class democrats, but against the Trudoviks as well. We need only recall the fact that the Cadets defeated the plan for local land committees proposed by the Trudoviks (in the First Duma), a plan based on the elementary requirements of democracy, on the ABC of democracy. The Cadets thus upheld the supremacy of the landlords and the bureaucrats over the peasants in the land committees!

In the Third Duma the Cadets have been playing at a “responsible opposition”, an opposition in the possessive case.[7] As such, they voted time and again for the government budgets (“democrats”!), explained to the Octobrists that there was nothing dangerous or harmful in their plan of   “compulsory” redemption payments (compulsory for the peasants)—remember Berezovsky the First; they sent Karaulov to deliver “pious” speeches from the rostrum, renounced the movement of the masses, appealed to the “upper strata”, and silenced the lower strata (the Cadets’ fight against the workers’ deputies over workers’ insurance), and so on and so forth.

The Cadets are the party of counter-revolutionary liberalism. By their claim to the role of a “responsible opposition”, i.e., a recognised, lawful opposition permitted to compete with the Octobrists, an opposition not to, but of the June Third regime—the Cadets have committed suicide as “democrats”. The shameless Vekhi propaganda of the Cadet ideologists—Struve, Izgoyev and Co., smothered with kisses by Rozanov and Anthony of Volhynia—and the role of a “responsible opposition” in the Third Duma, are two sides of the same medal. The liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, tolerated by the Purishkeviches, wants to seat itself by the side of Purishkevich.

The bloc of the Cadets and the “Progressists” at the present time, for the elections to the Fourth Duma, has provided additional proof of the profoundly counter-revolutionary nature of the Cadets. The Progressists do not at all claim to be democrats, they do not say a word about fighting the entire June Third regime, and are far from so much as dreaming of “universal suffrage”. They are moderate liberals who do not make a secret of their kinship with the Octobrists. The alliance of the Cadets and the Progressists should open the eyes of even the blindest “yes-men of the Cadets” to the true nature of that party.

The democratic bourgeoisie of Russia is represented by the Narodniks of all shades, from the most Left Socialist-Revolutionaries to the Popular Socialists and Trudoviks. They all readily mouth “socialist” phrases, but it would be impermissible for a class-conscious worker to be deceived as to the real meaning of those phrases. Actually there is not a grain of socialism in the “right to land”, “equalised division” of the land, or “socialisation of the land”. This should be clear to anyone who knows that the abolition of private landownership, and a new, even the “fairest” possible, division of the land, far from affecting commodity production and the   power of the market, of money and capital, leads to their expansion.

However, the phrases about “the labour principle” and “Narodnik socialism” express the democrat’s deep faith in the possibility and indispensability of destroying all medievalism in landownership and, at the same time, in the political system as well (just as they express his sincere desire to achieve this). Whereas the liberals (the Cadets) seek to share political power and political privileges with the Purishkeviches, the Narodniks are democrats precisely because they are striving, and are bound to strive at present, to abolish all the privileges of landed property and all privileges in politics.

The position of the great bulk of the Russian peasants is such that they cannot even dream, of any compromise with the Purishkeviches (something quite possible, attainable and near and dear to the liberal). That is why the democracy of the petty bourgeoisie will have roots among the masses in Russia for a fairly long time to come, whereas Stolypin’s agrarian reform,[8] an expression of the Purishkeviches’ bourgeois policy against the muzhik, has so far produced nothing durable but—the starvation of thirty million peasants!

The millions of starving small proprietors cannot help striving for a different kind of agrarian reform, a democratic one, which cannot break out of the bounds of capitalism or abolish wage slavery, but can sweep medievalism from the face of the Russian land.

The Trudoviks are an extremely weak group in the Third Duma, but they represent the masses. The vacillation of the Trudoviks between the Cadets and the worker democrats is an inevitable result of the class position of the small proprietors, and the fact that it is particularly difficult to rally, organise and enlighten them accounts for the extremely indeterminate and amorphous character of the Trudoviks as a party. That is why the Trudoviks, with the aid of the stupid “otzovism” of the Left Narodniks, present the sad picture of a liquidated party.

The difference between the Trudoviks and our own near Marxist liquidators is that the former are liquidators out of weakness, while the latter are liquidators out of malice.   The task of the working-class democracy is to help the weak petty-bourgeois democrats, wrest them from the liberals, and rally the democratic camp against the counter-revolutionary Cadets and not merely against the Rights.

Concerning the working-class democracy, which had its group in the Third Duma, we can say but little here.

Everywhere in Europe, the parties of the working class took shape by casting off the influence of general democratic ideology and learning to distinguish between the struggle of the wage-workers against capital and the struggle against feudalism, which they did, incidentally, in order to strength en the latter struggle, to rid it of all wavering and timidity. In Russia, the working-class democracy completely dissociated itself both from liberalism and from bourgeois democracy (Trudovikism), to the great advantage of the democratic cause in general.

The liquidationist trend among the working-class democrats (Nasha Zarya and Zhivoye Dyelo) shares the weakness of Trudoviks, glorifies amorphousness, longs for the status of a “tolerated” opposition, rejects the hegemony of the workers, confines itself to words about an “open” organisation (while inveighing against the organisation that is not open), and advocates a liberal labour policy. The connection between this trend and the disintegration and decadence of the period of counter-revolution is evident, and its falling-away from the working-class democracy is becoming obvious.

The class-conscious workers, who are not liquidating any thing and are rallying their ranks in opposition to liberal influences, organising as a class and developing all forms of trade union and other unity, are coming forward both as representatives of wage-labour against capital and as representatives of consistent democracy against the entire old regime in Russia and against any concessions to it.

By way of illustration, we give below the figures relating to the strength of the various parties in the Third Duma, which we borrow from the official Duma Handbook for 1912.

Parties In the Third Duma
Rights . . . 46
Nationalists . . . 74
Independent nationalists . . . 17
Right Octobrists . . . 11
Octobrists . . . 120
Total government parties . . . 268
The Bourgeoisie
Progressists . . . 36
Cadets . . . 52
Polish Kolo[9] . . . 11
Polish-Lithuanian-Byelorussian group . . . 7
Moslem group . . . 9
Total liberals . . . 115
Bourgeois Democrats
Trudovik group . . . 14
Working-Class Democrats
Social-Democrats . . . 13
Total democrats . . . 27
Unaffiliated . . . 27
Grand total . . . 437

Thus there have been two possible majorities in the Third Duma: (1) the Rights and the Octobrists=268 out of 437; (2) the Octobrists and the liberals=120+115=235 out of 437. Both majorities are counter-revolutionary.


[1] This refers to the unification of Germany which the German ruling classes undertook “from above” by means of the policy of “blood and iron”, and through diplomatic intrigue and wars. The Prusso-Austrian war of 1866 resulted in the formation of the North-German Union, and the Franco-Prussian war of 1870–71 led to the formation of the German Reich.

[2] Svet (Light)—a bourgeois nationalist daily published in St. Petersburg from 1882 to 1917.

Golos Moskvy (Voice of Moscow)—a daily newspaper published by the Octobrist Party, a counter-revolutionary party of the big industrial bourgeoisie and big landlords. It was published in Moscow from 1906 to 1915.

[3] Council of the United Nobility—a counter-revolutionary organisation of the feudal landlords founded in May 1906 at the first congress of the delegates of the gubernia societies of the nobility. It functioned till October 1917. Its main objective was to defend the autocratic system, 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 the “council of united serf-owners”.

The Council virtually became a semi-governmental agency which dictated to the government legislation designed to uphold the interests of the feudal landlords. A considerable number of its members were also members of the Council of State and the leading centres of Black-Hundred organisations.

[4] This refers to the tsar’s Manifesto of June 3 (16), 1907, dissolving the Second Duma and amending the electoral law. The new law greatly increased the proportion of members of the Duma representing the landlords and the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie, while reducing several times over the proportion of peasant and workers’ deputies, already small. It was a gross violation of the Manifesto of October 17 (30), 1905, and the Fundamental Law of 1906, under which all legislation introduced by the government was subject to approval by the Duma.

The new Regulations entitled the landowner curia to elect one elector for every 230 persons, the first urban curia one for every 1,000 and the second urban curia for 15,000, the peasant curia for every 60,000 and the worker curia for 125,000. The landlords and the bourgeoisie elected 65 per cent of the electors, the peasants 22 per cent (instead of the former 42) and the workers 2 per cent (as against 4 per cent in the past). The law disfranchised the indigenous population of Asian Russia and the Turkic peoples of the Astrakhan and Stavropol gubernias, and cut by half the proportion of representatives of the population of Poland and the Caucasus. All those who did not speak Russian were disfranchised throughout Russia. The Third Duma elected under this law was   convened on November 1 (14), 1907. It was Black-Hundred and Octobrist in composition.

The June Third coup d’état ushered in the period of Stolypin reaction.

[5] The Council of State—one of the supreme organs of state government in pre-revolutionary Russia, established in 1810—according to a draft submitted by M. M. Speransky—as an advisory legislative body whose members were appointed by the tsar. Under the law of February 20 (March 5), 1906, it was reorganised and authorised to approve or reject Bills after they had been discussed in the Duma. Nevertheless, the tsar retained the right to amend fundamental legislation and issue certain laws of special importance.

From 1906, one half of the Council members were elected representatives of the nobility, clergy and big bourgeoisie and the other half were dignitaries appointed by the tsar. Hence it was an extremely reactionary assembly which rejected even moderate Bills passed by the Duma.

[6] Zemstvos—so-called local self-government bodies dominated by the nobility. They were set up in the central gubernias of tsarist Russia in 1864. Their jurisdiction was restricted to purely local economic and welfare matters—hospital and road building, statistics, insurance, etc. They functioned under the control of the provincial governors and the Minister of the Interior, who could suspend decisions that did not suit the government.

[7] Lenin is referring to the speech which P. N. Milyukov made at the luncheon given by the Lord Mayor of the City of London in June 1909, during the visit of a delegation from the Third Duma and the Council of State. Milyukov reaffirmed the Cadets’ allegiance to the tsarist autocracy and stressed that as long as Russia had a Duma “the Russian opposition would remain an opposition of, not to, His Majesty”.

[8] Lenin is referring to the decree of November 9 (22), 1906, on “Additions to Certain Regulations of the Existing Law on Peasant Land Ownership and Land Tenure”, drafted by Stolypin and named the law of June 14, 1910, upon its enactment by the Duma and the Council of State. On November 15 (28), 1906, another decree was issued—“On the Granting of Loans by the Peasant Land Bank on the Security of Allotment Lands”. The two decrees granted the peasants the right to take over their allotments as personal property and the right to withdraw from the village commune and settle on otrubs or khutors. Khutor and otrub peasants could obtain subsidies through the Peasant Bank to buy land. The Stolypin agrarian legislation aimed at making the kulaks the new social mainstay of the autocracy in the countryside while preserving the landed estates and forcibly destroying the village communes.

The Stolypin agrarian policy speeded up the capitalist evolution of agriculture in the extremely painful “Prussian” way, with the feudal landlords retaining their power, property and privileges.   It intensified the forcible expropriation of the bulk of the peasantry and accelerated the development of the peasant bourgeoisie, whom it enabled to buy up the allotments of the peasant poor at a nominal price.

Lenin described the Stolypin agrarian legislation of 1906 (and the law enacted on June 14 [27], 1910) as the second step, after the 1861 Reform, towards transforming the feudal autocracy into a bourgeois monarchy.

Although the government vigorously advocated the withdrawal of peasants from the village communes, only some 2,500,000 peas ant households withdrew from them in European Russia over nine years (1907–15). The right to secede from the village commune was used above all by the rural bourgeoisie, which was thus enabled to strengthen its farms. Some of the poor peasants who wanted to sell their allotments and end their connection with the countryside seceded too. The small peasants, crushed by want, remained poverty-stricken and backward.

The Stolypin agrarian policy did not remove the main contradiction between the peasantry as a whole and the landlord class. Moreover, it brought further ruin to the mass of the peasantry and aggravated the class antagonisms between the kulaks and the peasant poor.


[9] The Polish Kolo (Circle) was an association of Polish deputies to the Duma. In the First and Second Dumas, its leading core was composed of National-Democrats, members of the reactionary, nationalist party of the Polish landlords and bourgeoisie. The Kolo backed the Octobrists on all major tactical issues.

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