V. I.   Lenin

Iron on Peasant Farms

Published: Severnaya Pravda No. 16, August 21, 1913. Signed: N. N.. Published according to the Severnaya Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 309-310.
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.
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Promyshlennost i Torgovlya, the organ of our industrial millionaires, the organ of the Council of Congresses, recently gave vent to a sort of foolishly hypocritical or hypocritically foolish sigh because Russia turns out to be the neighbour of one of the most backward countries, Spain, as far as the per capita consumption of the most important items of production is concerned.

With regard to iron, one of the most important products of modern industry, one of the foundations of civilisation, one might say, Russia’s backwardness and barbarism is particularly great.

A cart with iron tyres is still a rarity in the Russian countryside,” the organ of the millionaires admitted.

However, on the question of whether this cultural “rarity” in the Russian village depends on the incidence of serf relations and the omnipotence of the feudal landowners (on whom the “aces” of Russian capitalism fawn), the millionaires maintain a modest silence.

We greatly love to chatter about culture, about the development of productive forces, about improving the peasant farm, and so on, and we are past masters at it. Yet whenever it comes to removing the Stone that lies in the way of “improving the lot” of millions of impoverished, downtrodden, hungry, ragged, savage peasants, our millionaires become tongue-tied.

Here are some figures from Hungarian agricultural statistics that clearly show the significance the oppression of the peasantry by the landowners has in regard to the extent to which iron is used, that is, in regard to the solidity of the iron foundation of culture in the country concerned.

Hungary, of course, is the country closest to Russia, not only geographically, but on account of the omnipotence   of the reactionary landowners, who have retained a tremendous quantity of land from medieval times.

In Germany, for instance, there are 23,000 properties out of 5,500,000 that are more than 100 hectares in extent and together they make up less than a quarter of the total land area; in Hungary there are 24,000 such properties out of 2,800,000 and they makeup 45 per cent of the country’s total land area! Four thousand Hungarian landowners have more than a thousand dessiatines each, and together they own almost a third of all the land. As you can see that is not far removed from “Mother Russia”.

Hungarian statistics (1895) made a particularly detailed investigation of the question of iron on peasant farms. It was shown that out of 2,800,000 farms, a million and a half belonging to labourers (or proletarians, with up to 5 Joch or 2.85 dessiatines) and also one million small peasant farms (up to 20 Joch, that is, up to 11 dessiatines) have to make do with wooden implements.

These 2,500,000 farms (out of a total of 2,800,000) no doubt use mainly ploughs with a wooden shaft, harrows with wooden frames and on almost half of them the carts in use are without iron tyres.

There are no complete figures for Russia. The figures available for separate localities show that the poverty, primitiveness and neglect on most Russian peasant farms are incomparably greater than on Hungarian farms.

And it cannot be otherwise. If the tyred cart is not to be a rarity there must be a free, educated, bold farmer who is capable of dealing with the feudal landowners, who is capable of getting away from routine methods and has all the land in the state at his disposal. “Culture” is as much to be expected of the peasant who is still oppressed by the Markovs and Purishkeviches with their landed estates, as humanity is to be expected of the Saltykovas.[1]

The millionaires of our industry prefer to share medieval privileges, with the Purishkeviches and to sigh about the deliverance of “the fatherland” from medieval lack of culture....


[1] Saltykova, Darya Ivanovna (1730-1801)—a serf-owner notorious for her brutal treatment of her serfs.

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