Fourth Congress of the Communist International - Resolutions 1922

Agrarian Action Programme

Source: Published in Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922 (, pp. 1069-1071.
Translation: Translations by John Riddell
HTML Markup: David Walters & Andy Blunden for the Marxists Internet Archive, 2018
Copyright: John Riddell, 2017. Republished here with permission.

Published: in Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922 (, pp. 954-959.

Instructions on the application of the agrarian theses of the Second Congress

The principles underlying our relationship to the working masses in the countryside have already been laid down in the Agrarian Theses of the Second Congress. In the present phase of the capitalist offensive, the agrarian question is achieving heightened importance. The Fourth Congress calls on every party to do its utmost to win the working masses in the countryside, and establishes the following guidelines for this work.

1. The great mass of rural proletarians and poor peasants – who do not own sufficient land and are forced in part to carry out wage labour or are exploited in other ways by the large landowners or by capitalism – can only be definitively freed from their present servitude, and from the wars that are unavoidable under capitalism, by a proletarian revolution. Such a revolution will confiscate without compensation the holdings of the great landowners, including all their means of production, and place them at the disposal of working people. In place of the state of great landowners and capitalists, it will establish the soviet state of proletarians and working peasants, and in this way pave the way to communism.

2. In the struggle against the state of the great landowners and capitalists, the working, poor peasants and small tenant farmers are the natural comrades in struggle of the agricultural and industrial proletariat. The unification of their revolutionary movement with the struggle of the urban and rural proletariat substantially aids the overthrow of the bourgeois state. While the urban proletariat seizes political power and expropriates the bourgeoisie’s means of production, the rural proletariat and poor peasants will seize the land, drive out the great landowners, and put an end to the rule of the great landowners and the bourgeoisie in the countryside.

3. In order to win to the revolution not only the agricultural workers but also the poor peasants (those with tiny holdings, poor tenant farmers, and a part of the poor peasants), and to win the middle peasants to an attitude of benevolent neutrality, these latter layers must be freed from the influence and leadership of the large peasants and large landowners. They must reach an understanding that their interests coincide not with those of the large peasants but with those of the proletariat – that only the revolutionary party of the proletariat, the Communist Party, can be their leader in struggle. Publishing a programme and developing propaganda is quite insufficient to speed up the process of freeing these poor peasants from the leadership of the large landowners and rich peasants. The Communist Party must furnish proof through consistent action in the interests of these layers that it is truly the party of all the working and oppressed people.

4. The Communist Party therefore places itself at the head of every struggle that the working masses of the countryside carry out against the ruling classes. Linking up with the immediate demands that these layers pose within capitalist conditions, the Communist Party unites the fragmented forces of rural working people, heightens their will to struggle, supports them in struggle by bringing to bear the strength of the industrial proletariat, and presents them with ever new goals leading in the direction of revolution. The struggle waged jointly with the industrial workers, plus the fact that industrial workers led by the Communist Party are fighting for the interests of workers and poor peasants in the countryside, will convince them of two things. First, only the Communist Party is honest with them. All other parties, both agrarian and Social Democratic, merely deceive them, despite their demagogic words. Second, workers and poor peasants can achieve no definitive improvement in their conditions within capitalism.

5. Our specific demands for the struggle must conform to the diverse forms of dependency and oppression suffered by [rural] workers, poor peasants, and middle peasants at the hands of large landowners and capitalists, as well as conforming to the interests of the different layers of the working population.

In some colonial countries with oppressed native peasant populations, the national liberation struggle will be waged by the entire population together, as for example in Turkey. In this case the struggle of the oppressed peasantry against the landowners necessarily begins after the victory of the liberation struggle. In other cases, the feudal landlords are in alliance with the imperialist bandits. In these countries, as for example in India, the social struggle of oppressed peasants merges with the national liberation struggle.

In regions where strong survivals of feudalism still exist in the countryside, where the tasks of the bourgeois revolution have not been completed, where large landownership is still linked with feudal privileges, these privileges must be eliminated in the course of the struggle for the land, which in these countries has decisive importance.

6. In all countries where there is a real agricultural proletariat, this layer is the most important factor in the revolutionary movement in the countryside. The Communist Party supports, organises, and intensifies all struggles of the agricultural proletariat to better its condition, in contrast to the Social Democrats, who sabotage the struggle of this layer. In order to hasten the winning of the rural proletariat to revolution and to school it in the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat, which alone can finally free it from exploitation, the Communist Party supports the agricultural proletariat in its struggle for:

Raising its real wages, improvements in all working, living, and cultural conditions; full freedom of assembly, association, and for the trade union movement; freedom to strike; freedom of the press; and so on – at least the same rights as those enjoyed by the industrial working class. Further, the eight-hour day as an average through the year, accident and old age insurance, a ban on child labour, the development of vocational education, and so on – at least the extension of social legislation that exists for the proletariat.

7. Until the moment when all peasants are definitively freed from subjugation by the social revolution, the Communist Party will struggle against all forms of exploitation of the poor and middle peasantry by capitalism, against exploitation by loan and usury capital, which drives the poor peasants into debt slavery.

Against exploitation by commercial and speculative capital, which purchases the poor peasants’ scanty productive surpluses at cheap prices and sells them at high prices to the urban proletariat. The Communist Party calls for elimination of this parasitic speculative capital and for establishing direct ties between the cooperatives of small peasants and the consumers’ cooperatives of the urban proletariat. It opposes exploitation by industrial capital, which utilises its monopoly position to keep the prices of industrial goods artificially high. We therefore struggle for the poor peasants to be supplied with the means of production (artificial fertiliser, machines, etc.) at cheap prices. The factory councils in industry should cooperate in this by controlling prices.

Against exploitation through the private monopoly of the transport system, which is the case above all in the Anglo-Saxon countries.[1]

Against exploitation through the capitalist state, which loads the taxes onto the poor peasants, to the benefit of the large landowners.

8. In all the non-colonial countries, the heaviest exploitation inflicted on the land-hungry population results from the large landowners’ private ownership of the land. The land-hungry peasants are forced, in order to fully utilise their capacity to labour and simply to survive, to work at starvation wages for the large landowners or to rent or buy the land at such high prices that part of the payment for working peasants is robbed from them and assured to the large landowners. Land scarcity forces the land-hungry peasants to accept modern forms of mediaeval subjugation. The Communist Party therefore struggles for the confiscation of this property, including all equipment and possessions, and for handing it over to those who really work it. Until this has been achieved by the proletarian revolution, the Communist Party supports the struggle of land-hungry peasants for:

a. The improvement in conditions of the share-croppers (métayer, mezzadri, Instleute, and so on) by reducing the share received by the owner.

b. Reduction in rents for the poor tenant farmers, compensation at the end of the contract for any improvements carried out by the tenant, and so on. The trade unions of agricultural workers led by Communist Party will support poor tenants in this struggle, for example, by refusing to work on fields extorted from poor tenants by the large landowners on the pretext of disputes over rents, etc.

c. Distribution of land, livestock, and means of production to all land-hungry peasants on conditions that enable them to do well. That means not allocating scraps of land that chain the owners to the earth and force them to seek work for starvation wages for neighbouring large landowners or rich peasants, but distribution or expansion of landholdings to assure [the peasant] of a full subsistence. In this regard, the interests of rural workers must receive special consideration.

9. The ruling classes seek to utilise a bourgeois agrarian reform that distributes the land to the leading elements of the peasantry, in order to dampen the revolutionary character of the movement for land. They are succeeding in bringing about a temporary ebb in the revolutionary movement. But every bourgeois agrarian reform hits up against the limits of capitalism. Land can only be distributed to people in return for compensation and then only to those who already possess the means of production necessary to work the land. A bourgeois agrarian reform offers nothing to the purely proletarian and semi-proletarian elements. A bourgeois land reform always imposes onerous conditions on those receiving land. It does not produce any real improvement in their conditions, but rather leads to debt slavery of those receiving land. This provides the basis for the revolutionary movement to go forward and for an intensification of the conflict between rich and poor peasants, as well as with the rural workers who receive no land and who are deprived of work through the dividing up of the great estates.

10. Only a proletarian revolution can bring about a definitive liberation of all rural working people, confiscating the land of the large landowners plus equipment without compensation, but not touching the land of working peasants. It also frees them from all requisitions, rents, mortgages, feudal restrictions, etc. and supports the working peasants in every way possible.

The workers themselves will decide how the land confiscated from the large landowners will be worked. In this regard, the theses of the Second Congress read:

For the most advanced capitalist countries, the Communist International recognises it as correct to preserve most of the large-scale economic enterprises and operate them in the manner of Soviet enterprises in Russia.

It will also be appropriate to support the establishment of collective enterprises (agricultural cooperatives, communes). ...

Preserving the large agricultural enterprises best protects the interests of the revolutionary layer of the rural population, the landless farm workers, and the semi-proletarian owners of small plots, who earn their livelihood mainly from wage labour in the large enterprises. In addition, nationalising the large enterprises gives the urban population, at least partially, independence from the peasantry regarding provisions.

On the other hand, where relics of the mediaeval order such as the corvée system lead to special forms of exploitation, marked by servitude or sharecropping or the like, it may sometimes be necessary to turn over to the peasants part of the land of the great estates.

In countries and regions where the large agricultural enterprise plays a relatively small role, but there are, on the other hand, a great many poor peasant owners striving for land, distributing the large landowners’ land will prove to be the surest method of winning the peasantry for the revolution, while preserving the large enterprises has no particular significance with regard to supplying the cities. ...

Whatever the case, wherever large landholdings are distributed, the interests of the rural proletariat must be safeguarded above all.

As for the organisation of our work, all Communists working in agriculture and in related industrial enterprises must join the rural workers’ organisations. They must unify and lead the revolutionary forces within these organisations, with the goal of transforming them into tools for revolution. Where no trade unions exist, Communists must lead in their creation. In the Yellow, fascist, and Christian counter-revolutionary organisations, they must carry out tenacious educational work, with the goal of breaking up these counter-revolutionary associations. In the large estates, estate councils of the workers should be formed in order to obstruct the expansion of extensive agriculture. Communists must call on the industrial proletariat to support the struggles of rural workers, and in return integrate rural workers into the industrial factory council movement.

Given the tremendous importance of poor peasants for the revolutionary movement, it is essential that Communists enter the poor peasants’ organisations (producers’, consumers’, and credit cooperatives), and win them to revolution, in order to eliminate the apparent clash of interests between wage workers and land-hungry peasants, a clash artificially magnified by the landlords and rich peasants. Communists must establish close links organisationally and in action between these cooperatives and their counterparts among the rural and urban proletariat.

Only the unification of all revolutionary forces in the city and countryside can make it possible to mount successful resistance against the capitalist offensive and, moving from defence to the attack, to achieve final victory.


1. By ‘Anglo-Saxon countries’ is meant the economically advanced English-speaking countries, whose population often included major components from continental Europe and all the world’s continents.