V. I. Lenin

Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) March 18-23, 1919


Resolution On The Attitude To The Middle Peasants

Basing itself on the Party Programme adopted on March 22, 1919, insofar as it concerns work in the rural areas, and giving full support to the law already promulgated by the Soviet government on socialist land settlement and the measures for the transition to socialist farming, the Eighth Congress recognises that at the present time it is particularly important to adhere more strictly to the line of the Party in respect of the middle peasants, to display a more considerate attitude towards their needs, end arbitrary action on the part of the local authorities, and make an effort towards agreement with them.

1) To confuse the middle peasants with the kulaks and to extend to them in one or another degree measures directed against the kulaks is to violate most flagrantly not only all the decrees of the Soviet government and its entire policy, but also all the basic principles of communism, according to which agreement between the proletariat and the middle peasants is one of the conditions for a painless transition to the abolition of all exploitation in the period of decisive struggle waged by the proletariat to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

2) The middle peasants, who have comparatively strong economic roots owing to the lagging of agricultural techniques behind industrial techniques even in the leading capitalist countries, to say nothing of Russia, will continue to exist for quite a long time after the beginning of the proletarian revolution. Therefore, the tactics of the functionaries of the Soviets in the villages, as well as of Party functionaries, must envisage a long period of co-operation with the middle peasants.

3) The Party must at all costs ensure that all Soviet functionaries in the countryside have a clear and thorough grasp of the axiom of scientific socialism that the middle peasants are not exploiters since they do not profit by the labour of others. Such a class of small producers cannot lose by socialism, but, on the contrary, will gain a great deal by casting off the yoke of capital which exploits it in a thousand different ways even in a most democratic republic.

The correctly applied policy of Soviet power in the countryside, therefore, ensures alliance and agreement between the victorious proletariat and the middle peasants.

4) While encouraging co-operatives of all kinds as well as agricultural communes of middle peasants, representatives of Soviet power must not allow the slightest coercion to be used in setting them up. Associations are only worth while when they have been set up by the peasants themselves, on their own initiative, and the benefits of them have been verified in practice. Undue haste in this matter is harmful, for it can only strengthen prejudices against innovations among the middle peasants.

Representatives of Soviet power who permit themselves to employ not only direct but even indirect compulsion to bring peasants into communes must be brought strictly to account and removed from work in the countryside.

5) All arbitrary requisitioning, i.e., requisitioning not in conformity with the exact provisions of laws issued by the central authority, must be ruthlessly punished. The Congress insists on the strengthening of control in this field by the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture, People’s Commissariat of the Interior, and the All-Russia Central Executive Committee.

6) At the present time the extreme chaos which has been caused in all countries of the world by the four years of imperialist war in the predatory interests of the capitalists, and which has become particularly acute in Russia, places the middle peasants in a difficult position.

In view of this, the law issued by the Soviet government on the emergency tax, as distinct from all the laws issued by all the bourgeois governments in the world, makes a point of laying the burden of the tax wholly on the kulaks, the inconsiderable number of peasant exploiters who particularly enriched themselves during the war. The middle peasants must be taxed very mildly, so that the sum levied is fully within their means and not burdensome to them.

The Party demands, in any case, lenience towards the middle peasants in collecting the emergency tax, even if this reduces the total revenue.

7) The socialist state must extend the widest possible aid to the peasants, mainly by supplying the middle peasants with products of urban industries and, especially, improved agricultural implements, seed and various materials in order to raise efficiency in agriculture and ensure improvement of the peasants’ working and living conditions.

If the present economic chaos does not allow the immediate and full implementation of these measures, it remains the duty of local Soviet authorities to explore all possible avenues to render the poor and middle peasants any real aid to support them at the present difficult moment. The Party finds it necessary to establish a large state fund for this purpose.

8) In particular, efforts must be made to give real and full effect to the law issued by the Soviet government which requires of state farms, agricultural communes, and all other similar associations that they render immediate and all-round assistance to the middle peasants in their neighbourhood. Only on the basis of such actual assistance is it possible to achieve agreement with the middle peasants. Only in this way can and must their confidence be won.

The Congress draws the attention of all Party workers to the need to put into effect immediately all the points set forth in the agrarian section of the Party Programme, namely:

(a) regulation of the use of land by the peasants (elimination of scattered holdings, the open field system, etc.), (b)supply of improved seeds and artificial fertilisers to the peasants, (c) improvement of the breeds of the peasants’ livestock, (d) spreading of agronomical knowledge, (e) agronomical assistance to the peasants, (f) repair of the peasants’ farm implements at repair shops belonging to the Soviets, (g) organisation of centres hiring out implements, experi- mental stations, model fields, etc., (h) improvements to the peasants’ land.

9) Peasants’ co-operative associations with the object of increasing agricultural production, and especially of processing farm produce, improvements to the peasants’ land, support of handicraft industries, etc., must be accorded extensive aid, both financial and organisational, by the state.

10) The Congress reminds all concerned that neither the decisions of the Party nor the decrees of Soviet power have ever deviated from the line of agreement with the middle peasants. In the cardinal matter of the organisation of Soviet power in the countryside, for instance, a circular letter signed by the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars and the People’s Commissar for Food was issued when the Poor Peasants’ Committees were established, pointing to the need to include in these Committees representatives of the middle peasants. When the Poor Peasants’ Committees were abolished, the All-Russia Congress of Soviets again pointed to the need to include representatives of the middle peasants in the volost Soviets. The policy of the workers’ and peasants’ government and the Communist Party must in the future too be permeated by this spirit of agreement between the proletariat and the poor peasants on the one hand, and the middle peasants on the other.