V. I. Lenin

Speech At The

First Moscow Gubernia Agricultural Congress

November 29, 1921[1]

delivered: 29 November, 1921
First Published: Brief report published in Pravda No 270. November 30, 1921; Published in full for the first tine, according to the stenographic record checked with the newspaper text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 128-130
Translated: David Skvirsky and George Hanna
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Comrades, permit me first of all to greet your Congress on behalf of the Council of Peoples Commissars. I very much regret that I am unable to deliver a comprehensive report to the Congress, as should be the case, and to stay behind to hear the reports and, in particular, the speeches that will be made here by representatives from the localities, by those who are directly engaged in farming who are directly interested in promoting agriculture and are able to give essential practical pointers. I shall therefore have to limit myself, in addition to conveying general greetings, to a brief statement on the exceptional importance of the work of your Congress.

You all know, comrades, that the fundamental problem, the problem that all present circumstances have made one of the cardinal problems of the home and foreign policy of our Republic, is that of promoting the economy in general and agriculture in particular. All the signs indicate that now, after the bitter years of the imperialist war and after the victorious Civil War, a deep-going change is taking place among the peasant masses, and that deep down among them there is the realisation that it is no longer possible to carry on in the old way. The principal task now confronting us is to make known to the peasant masses what has been achieved by a small number of peasants and to make available to tens of millions knowledge that under our low level of scientific farming has been inadequately disseminated among them. There are a number of signs indicating the desire to reorganise their farms and improve farming methods which the peasants feel more profoundly, widely and acutely than ever before; and we should see to it, that agricultural congresses like the present one are held more frequently and that their results have a practical effect in the immediate future.

The greatest disaster that has befallen us this year is the famine in a number of gubernias and also the drought, which, evidently, may threaten us again, if not next year, then in the next few years. In this connection the key task, not only of agriculture but of the whole economy, is to secure a radical and immediate practical improvement of agriculture. That can be done only if the realisation that farming must be improved penetrates the mass of peasants engaged in farming. We shall be able to overcome and defeat the famine and secure an improvement of peasant farming only if the improvements that have been begun on a very large scale spread to all gubernias without exception. The work of a small number of specialists, a number that is insignificant compared with the masses of peasants, cannot be productive if it is not brought close to the practical tasks of agriculture. Congresses like yours must be held in all gubernias and must influence the peasant masses. The basic, I would even say political, necessity (because all political problems, inasmuch as our international position has improved, now run in a single channel) is now that of boosting farm productivity at all costs. An increase of its productivity must definitely result in an improvement in industry and in an improvement in the supplies of all necessary items to peasant farmsitems of personal consumption and implements of production, machines, without which there can be no guaranteed living standard for the worker and peasant masses.

Comrades, you have heard here the report made by Comrade Osinsky on general economic policy and, as I have been told, the report of Comrade Mesyatsev on land tenure. I repeat that the practical suggestions that will be made by those directly engaged in farming, by the peasants themselves, are of the utmost value to us. The experience that you have brought with you and which will become available to the broadest masses is of extraordinary importance and value to us. Moscow Gubernia is, however, in an almost unique position because Moscow peasants can exchange experiences with the central authorities and with farming specialists-this exchange has been possible and easier for them; the work and results of your Congress have an importance that goes far beyond the bounds of Moscow Gubernia. The most formidable danger will arise if the link with science is allowed to weaken; Moscow Gubernia peasants must, therefore, regard their experiments and the improvements in farming they have achieved as the first steps along that road and bring them to the knowledge of all the peasants. This is what I should like to draw your attention to: the experiments and the conclusions which you will draw here should not only enable you to make further progress on your own farms but should be transmitted to the peasants of the most remote gubernias.

All the questions that have been raised here: the questions of farmsteads, in short, all the questions connected with land tenure, are important for a much broader field; for us representatives of the centre, it is very important to know your opinion on these questions. We plan to approach them on the basis of practical experience. It is most important and basic for our peasant masses to realise the need to improve peasant farming, and for you yourselves to discuss thoroughly the practical steps that have been taken. We shall take note of everything you say here and will take your experience into account when we implement practical measures. I repeat, your experience must become known in the most remote gubernias. That is what we regard as particularly important in your work.

In conclusion let ins once again convey greetings from the Council of People’s Commissars, and wish you every success in your work. (Applause.)


[1] The First Moscow Gubernia Agricultural Congress, held on November 28-30, 1921, was attended by more than 300 delegates from peasants and land offices. Lenin spoke on Noaember 29, 1921