V. I.   Lenin

Merchant Accountancy

Published: Pravda No. 90, April 20, 1913. Signed: V. F.. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 59-60.
Translated: The Late George Hanna
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.

The biggest millionaires, the tycoons of our big industry, belong to a “council of congresses of industrial and commercial representatives”. This council of congresses issues its own periodical, Promyshlennost i Torgovlya.[1] The interests of our Kit Kityches[2] are defended by this journal in its ponderous, elaborate and mostly semi-literate articles.

They show particular discontent at the injustice of Zemstvo representation and Zemstvo taxation. Believe it or not, the feudal landowner is unfair to poor Kit Kitych! Here is an instructive table showing the composition of the elected membership at uyezd Zemstvo assemblies[3] (Promyshlennost i Torgovlya, 1913, No. 3):

From the First Electoral Assembly (land-
ed nobility)
5,508 53.4
From the Second Electoral Assembly
(commercial and industrial enter-
prises, etc.)
1,294 12.6
Jointly from the First and Second As-
290 2.8
From village communes 3,216 31.2
[Total] In 34 gubernias with Zemstvos 10,308 100.0

There is indeed a crying injustice in the matter of representation in the Zemstvos. The conclusion to be drawn is obvious and incontestable—the Zemstvos in Russia have been put entirely into the hands of the feudal landowners.

These interesting figures must give any educated person cause to ponder over the conditions that give rise to such unequal representation.

It would, of course, be ridiculous to expect the Kit Kityches and their hack writers to be capable of pondering over general political questions or to be interested in political knowledge. The only thing that interests Kit Kitych is that be pays “a lot” and a member of the nobility pays “little”. The writer hired by Kit Kitych quotes the total amounts of Zemstvo impositions (as fixed by the official scale)—First Electoral Assembly (24.5 million rubles in 34 gubernias with Zemstvos), Second Electoral Assembly (49 million rubles) and village communes (45.5 million rubles). He divides these impositions by the number of members and in this way determines “the cost of one seat”! Thus it turns out that a seat for a nobleman “costs” 4,500 rubles, for a merchant 38,000 rubles and for a peasant 14,000 rubles.

That is how the hired advocates of the merchant class argue—election rights are calmly examined as though they were an article of commerce. As though those who pay the impositions fixed by the Zemstvo thereby purchase the right to representation.

Of course, there actually is glaring inequality in Zemstvo impositions. The full burden of that inequality, however, is not borne by the industrialists, but by the peasants and workers. If the peasantry pay 45.5 million rubles that they squeeze out of their poor, exhausted, over-cultivated land while the landowners pay 24.5 million rubles, that can mean nothing but the extortion of millions of rubles tribute from the “muzhiks” in the form of Zemstvo impositions in addition to all their other burdens.

This the Kit Kityches do not see. What they are after is that privileges, instead of going to the nobility alone, should be shared “on an equal footing” with the merchants.


[1] Promyshlennost i Torgovlya (Industry and Commerce)—the organ of the council of congresses of industrial and commercial representatives; the journal was published in St. Petersburg from January 1908 to December 1917. It expressed the views of the big industrial and commercial bourgeoisie.

[2] Kit Kitych—the nickname of Tit Titych (Kit in Russian means “whale”), a rich merchant in A. N. Ostrovsky’s comedy Shouldering Another’s Troubles. Lenin applies the epithet to capitalist tycoons.

[3] Zemstvos—the name by which local self-government bodies in the rural districts were known; they were set up in the central gubernias of tsarist Russia in 1864. The Zemstvos were dominated by the nobility and their competence was limited to purely local economic and welfare matters (hospital and road building, statistics, insurance, etc.). They functioned under the control of the governors of the gubernias and the Ministry of the Interior, which could block any decisions the government found undesirable.

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