Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

Twentieth Session

(Present: 43 delegates with 51 deciding votes and 12 persons with consultative voice.)

Karsky: Those who say that the leaders of the peasant movement may be opportunists, or even, as some put it, ‘adventurers’, are mistaken. That is unjust, and I must speak up in my own defence, because in Caucasia it is my comrades and I who have become the leaders of peasant movements, and we have not betrayed our basic principles. There is now a peasant movement in Caucasia. In Guria, for example, it has embraced nearly the entire peasantry. It began there thanks to workers forced to leave the towns, who brought into the countryside the ideas they had acquired in the towns. They became the peasants’ leaders, and they did not promise them division of the land, but put forward demands similar to their own demands in the towns; for reduction of rent, by analogy with the reduction of the working day. But they told the peasants that complete liberation could come only with socialism. We did not talk to them about the cut-off lands because there is nothing like that in our part of the country.

Trotsky: Comrade Karsky raid that in Caucasia, despite the pessimism of certain comrades, the Social-Democrats are already to a certain extent the leaders of the peasant movement. ‘And did you speak to the peasants about the cut-off lands?’ Comrade Yegorov asked him. As though the cut-off lands are the centre of gravity of the Social-Democratic programme. I remember that in Paris, after some speeches like that, accompanied by discussion, the student audience became convinced that the cut-off lands were the basis of Social-Democracy. Comrade Yegorov’s point of view reminds me of that episode.

The cut-off lands have their definite place in a definite section of our programme, and there can be no doubt that it is right that they should. I would advise all comrades to read Nechetny’s article in the second volume of the Vestnik Russkoy Revolyutsii.[11] Some interesting facts are assembled there, though they are, of course, wrongly interpreted. These facts show that all serious peasant riots, protests and so on have been bound up, as regards their origin, not with any semi-mystical concept on the peasants’ part about their right to all the land, not with their notions of Byelovodia and the Land of Justice,[12] but with quite concrete forms of oppression, with some cut-off water-meadow, forest, pond, etc. But, says Martynov, economic life has, after all, not stood still since 1861. The role played by the cut-off lands as a cause of bondage has changed. But are we forbidding the peasants’ committees to look into all the concrete changes which have taken place in connection with the cut-off lands? We are not drawing maps on which ‘the cut-off lands’ are marked in revolutionary red—if the peasants’ committees seize ‘non-cut-off lands’ … It is pointless for Comrade Lieber to tell us that we cannot get rid of all the cut-off lands which sustain the regime of bondage, with one blow, like extracting an aching tooth. We do not aspire to the role of political dentists. We do not suppose we can abolish agrarian bondage with a single decree. That is a task for the peasants’ committees. They know very well which tooth it is that aches, and will do everything that is necessary.

But now Comrade Makhov gets up and says he is afraid that we have excited the muzhik. Don’t tickle the muzhik’s mouth, Comrade Makhov advises us, or the muzhik will open his jaws wide and demand a general redistribution of the land, and that will hinder concentration. Concentration of agricultural production? As though that depended only on the way the land is distributed, as though the distribution of the land will not respond to the requirements of capitalist agriculture.

This warning—don’t tickle the muzhik ’s mouth!’—is produced by Comrade Makhov when what is under discussion is returning the redemption and quit-rent payments in order to raise the cultural level of the rural areas. This demand seems to Comrade Makhov utterly casual and demagogic, even adventuristic, and, in any case, having nothing to do, in principle, with the question of abolishing the survivals of serfdom.

That is not so at all. The low cultural level of our peasants is determined not only by the general conditions of rural life in bourgeois society, but also by that extra oppression which the serf-owning state imposes upon our countryside. Quit-rent and redemption payments have been extorted from the countryfolk ever since 1861. Restoration of this money in order to raise their cultural level follows from the general principle of our agrarian programme.

But there were also speakers who, besides criticising the agrarian programme, put forward this idea—let us not deceive ourselves about our success among the peasants; demagogues will be the ones who will succeed there; let’s have fewer illusions!; look at the example of the West; and so on. Comrades Makhov, Yegorov and Lange all joined in giving us this advice. But their well-meant advice smacked too much of philistinism. Can we calculate our successes in advance? And what influence can this have on our programme and on our agitation? Our programme is decided by a definite principle, and our agitation by the nature of the political tasks of the moment. Before us is the task of revolutionising the peasant masses. Of course the peasantry provide favourable soil for demagogy. But that soap-bubble which out of courtesy one calls the Socialist-Revolutionary Party is too un-serious a competitor. The Liberal opposition of the Zemstvos would not, of course, be averse to utilising the peasantry as a battering ram. But it is itself afraid of the real consequences of demagogy. This lack of serious rivals makes our task easier. In the West, we are told, the Social-Democrats have had no success with the peasants. But in the West the party of the proletariat arose when the revolutionary peasantry had already fulfilled their role. In our country the situation is different. In the approaching revolutionary period we must link ourselves with the peasantry—both in the interests of the peasant poor and in the interests of the proletariat. In face of this task the scepticism and political ‘far-sightedness’ of Makhov and Yegorov are more harmful than any short-sightedness. In our work among the peasantry I should desire for our Party not this far-sighted caution, but boldness, boldness and more boldness!

Lenin: Before passing to details, I want to object to certain general statements which have been made, and in the first place to those of Comrade Martynov. Comrade Martynov says that it is not the feudalism of the past that we have to combat, but the feudalism that exists today. That is right, but let me remind you of my reply to X. The latter referred to Saratov Province. I have looked at the data for that province, and found that the cut-off lands there amount to 600,000 desyatins, that is, to two-fifths of all the land that was held by the peasants under serfdom, while the rented land amounts to 900,000 desyatins. This means that two-thirds of the rented land consists of cut-off lands. So we are out to restore to the peasants two-thirds of the land they occupy as tenants. Hence, it is no ghost that we are fighting, but a real evil. We should arrive at the situation that exists in Ireland, where the current land reform was needed in order to turn the tenant farmers into small proprietors.[13] The similarity between Ireland and Russia was pointed out already by the Narodniks in their economic writings. Comrade Gorin says that the measure I propose is not the best—that it would be better to turn the peasants into free tenant-farmers. But he is mistaken in thinking that it would be better to turn semi-free tenants into free tenants. We are not inventing a transition, but proposing one that would bring the law on land-tenure into line with actually existing conditions, thereby abolishing the relations of bondage that exist today. Martynov says that it is not our demands that are meagre, but the principle from which they are derived. But that is like the arguments the Socialist-Revolutionaries bring against us. We are pursuing in the countryside two aims which are different in kind: first, we want to secure freedom for bourgeois relations; secondly, we want to wage the proletarian struggle. It is our task, despite the prejudice of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, to show the peasants where the revolutionary proletarian task of the peasant proletariat begins. Comrade Kostrov’s objections are therefore groundless. We are told that the peasantry will not be satisfied with our programme, and will go further. But we are not afraid of that, we have our socialist programme for that eventuality, and so we are not afraid even of a redistribution of the land, which frightens Comrades Makhov and Kostrov so badly.

To conclude. Comrade Yegorov has called chimerical the hope we place in the peasantry. No, we are not carried away, we are sufficiently sceptical, and that is why we say to the peasant proletarian: ‘You are fighting now by the side of the peasant bourgeoisie, but you must always be prepared to fight against that same bourgeoisie, and that fight you will wage together with the industrial proletarians of the towns.’

In 1848 [sic: 1852—Trans.] Marx said that the peasants had judgement as well as prejudices. And now, when we point out to the Poor peasants the cause of their poverty, we can count on success. We believe that, because the Social-Democrats have now taken up the struggle for the interests of the peasants, we shall in future be reckoning with the fact that the peasant masses will become accustomed to looking to the Social-Democrats as the defenders of their interests.

Kostich: None of those who have spoken in opposition have dealt with the section on principles. All the objectors have dealt with the surface of the matter; they are logically all in sympathy with each other. Comrade Makhov found the programme demagogic, deducing this from one point in it. Quite apart from the fact that, even if one point was demagogic in character, one couldn’t generalise about the whole programme from that, what is there that is demagogic in that point? In the circumstance that it proposes establishing a special fund for cultural and charitable purposes? He himself says that the peasants have their own special prejudices, that if you say to the peasant: ‘Here you are, here’s one rouble,’ he always wants to put it in his own pocket. Yes, if it be not added what the purpose of these roubles is. Why did he argue? Because he was extremely inattentive, and so made the same mistake as the Liberals, who also called our proposed measure a piece of demagogy. Comrade Makhov spoke of the peculiar psychology of the peasant, of Black Redistribution, and he is afraid that the peasants will digest the Social-Democrats. But whence comes this unsureness of himself, of the stability of his principles? Lieber spoke of meagreness, and then started on about particular, special tasks. It is curious how Comrade Lieber always brings everything down to particular, special programmes for certain regions. They talk about ‘meagreness’, but when they are invited to ‘broaden’ they cannot add anything new. Yegorov refuses to understand the agrarian programme and, having a very pessimistic attitude to the peasants and to the possibility of the Social-Democrats’ gaining influence over them, rejects the whole thing. That is not logical. In his pessimism Comrade Makhov is at one with Comrade Yegorov, although they differ in shade. He forgets that the Social-Democrats are already working among the peasantry, are already directing the peasant movement as far as possible. And this pessimism of theirs narrows the scope of our work. Karsky said, rightly, that the opponents of the agrarian programme said nothing essential about the essential part of this programme.

Chairman: The list of speakers is exhausted. The discussion on the general part is over. Let us proceed to consideration of the agrarian programme in detail. A number of amendments have been moved. I propose that we discuss Comrade Makhov’s first, as being the most radical.

With the agreement of the congress, Comrade Makhov was called upon to speak.

Makhov: When we were discussing the language question, Comrade Plekhanov proposed that the question be deferred to the next congress. Why? Because we could not decide on the question and so it was not cleared up. But that discussion convinced me that both sides at this congress had thought out their positions well enough. In the case of the agrarian programme, however, both the defence offered and the objections made have convinced me that this matter has not been thoroughly thought out. For example, when I speak I have one half of Russia in mind, but Lenin is thinking of the other half. Comrade Karsky supported the programme. Why? Because he judged it by Caucasia, where agrarian conditions are quite different from what they are in the rest of Russia. If we look at our agrarian programme as a whole we see that what we demand for the peasants follows from the other parts of our programme. Abolition of the redemption payments follows from the reorganisation of our financial system. Abolition of collective responsibility follows from abolition of social estates. It is superfluous to tall for the return of particular sums of money since, if we demand sovereignty of the people, this means that the people can dispose of all money, and by saying this we only narrow its scope. What we demand for everyone we also demand for the peasants. As regards Article 5, even the law that exists now condemns what are called unscrupulous contracts, and it is only the peasants’ ignorance that prevents them from becoming aware of the laws and knowing how to use them. Consequently, the whole agrarian programme is unnecessary. In so far as we approach the peasant proletariat, we can do this with the general part of our programme; in so far as we want to approach the other, non-proletarian, part of the peasantry, we can offer them nothing. I therefore propose that we reject the agrarian programme as a whole.

Lyadov (on a point of order) proposed that the list of speakers on Comrade Makhov’s motion be closed, since discussion of it would merely repeat the previous day’s debate.

Akimov did not think it possible to accept Comrade Lyadov’s proposal, since the agrarian question was very important, and, in his view, the majority of the congress was not clear on the subject [shouts : ‘Untrue!’] and he noted that on every complex question that arose a similar proposal was brought forward.

Comrade Lyadov’s proposal for closing the list of speakers was put to the vote and adopted, with 27 votes.

Lieber (moving a resolution and being authorised to speak in support of it): Comrade Makhov’s proposal is unacceptable. We cannot refuse to provide an agrarian programme, since other parties, such as the Socialist-Revolutionaries, provide one. And we are united on the general part of our agrarian programme. On that matter Akimov is wrong. The congress is clear about that. It is the question of the details, of the concrete application of these general principles, that the congress is not clear about. I therefore propose that the general part be set out more extensively and fully than in five lines. This task should be turned over to a commission. The detailed part of the programme should be scrapped.

Martov: Though I agree with Lieber that Comrade Makhov’s proposal is unacceptable, I do not agree with his reasons. It is not because the Socialist Revolutionaries have issued an agrarian programme, and we should be ashamed not to do the same, that we must provide such a programme, but because life has put this question on the agenda. Not to answer means refusing to answer. But Lieber’s proposal is also a proposal that we refuse to answer this question. I therefore oppose both resolutions.

Makhov withdrew his resolution and supported Lieber’s. The following resolution by Lieber was put to the vote: ‘The second congress of the RSDLP has worked out a number of general theses of principle regarding its attitude to the agrarian question in Russia, while at the same time declining to formulate in detail particular concrete demands.’

This resolution was rejected by 38 to 9.

The first paragraph was discussed.

Lenin moved an amendment: to replace ‘will aim at’ by ‘demands first and foremost’. In the speeches made during our discussion it was said that the draft deliberately said ‘will aim at’ so as to stress that we intend to do this not now but in the future. So as not to provide grounds for such a misunderstanding I am moving this amendment. I want by including the words ‘first and foremost’ to say that we have other demands besides those in the agrarian part of our programme.

Akselrod moved a resolution to include the word ‘directly’ so as to indicate that there were also those who suffered indirectly.

Martynov fully supported Lenin’s proposal, but did not agree with the reason he gave for it. By the words ‘first and foremost’ Lenin wanted to say that they also had a socialist programme. The amendment served to broaden and so to improve the draft.

Martov supported Akselrod’s resolution. Indirectly, the survivals of serfdom affected the urban proletariat as well—e.g., through the system of collective responsibility.

Gorin: I cannot support Karsky’s statement that the Caucasian committee are carrying on agitation in the spirit of Article 4 of Iskra ’s agrarian programme. No, they are doing this precisely in the spirit of my draft. Agitation in Caucasia is not about anything like the return of the cut-off lands. The subject of agitation is the replacement of the peasants’ personal obligations by obligations in terms of money, and the standardisation of these cash payments. Now, to reply to Comrade Lenin. He says that this draft is no idle invention, that in Ireland, which he compares, as regards what we are discussing, to Russia, something like the return of the cut-off lands is now being carried out. I say that my draft too is far from being an idle invention. History knows two ways of making the transition from feudal to capitalist relations. I refer also to the authority of Marx, according to whom, besides free small-scale ownership and free small-scale tenancy, the transition can also be made directly. The reference to Ireland is not convincing. I am in the good company of Marx when, unlike Comrade Lenin, I do not look upon any one method of transition to capitalist relations as being the absolute norm. Both methods can be either normal or abnormal, depending on the social circumstances. For Ireland transition by way of petty proprietorship is undoubtedly necessary. Irish landlordism is not just noble landownership but also political rule over Ireland. In addition, Irish landownership is, owing to the tremendous concentration of land, a case of monopoly by the landowners not only in relation to the small tenants but also to the capitalist farmers. It is an absolute hindrance to the development of capitalist relations. I see nothing similar to that in Russia. In France the enrichment of the petty proprietors at the expense of the feudalists resulted from the revolution, and so cannot be taken into account.

But my objections to the draft do not concern what has been said here. I merely consider my own draft to be better, and if it is rejected I shall vote for Comrade Lenin’s, since I recognise the transition from feudal to capitalist relations by way of petty proprietorship as being also a revolutionary act. And it is impossible to leave that to take its own course. I emphasise, like Comrade Trotsky, that it is highly important for the Party to link itself with the peasantry. Comrade Lenin has said that we are on the eve of our 1848. I fully agree with him. But I would add that we are at the same time to some extent on the eve, first, of our Great Revolution, since we are dealing with the autocracy and other feudal survivals, and, secondly, of our Commune, since, thanks to West-European socialist and ideological influence, we have a revolutionary proletariat and a workers’ party (in the shape of the Social-Democratic movement) which, though perhaps not a par with the parties in Western Europe, can, to some extent at least, promise us our 1871. But in that case we need to rid ourselves, so far as possible, of those unfavourable conditions in which the proletariat of Western Europe found itself in all the revolutions I have mentioned, because it was not linked with the peasantry.

Kostrov: Gorin said that in Caucasia propaganda among the peasant population is carried on exclusively against the survivals of serfdom. But that is not so. Yesterday I said that at the head of the peasant movement in our part of the country stands our most cultured area, namely, Western Georgia, and Guria in particular. Here there is no question of cut-off lands; here the survivals of feudalism are slight; this movement has been created on the basis of modern ideas, thanks to the urban workers exiled from Batum as a result of the strike. At the head of the movement have stood our own comrades, and they have begun to make propaganda not only for the abolition of all survivals of serfdom but also for socialisation of the land. I know of a case, for example, when at a village gathering one of the ordinary peasants spoke about abolishing private ownership of land and socialising it. In short, in Caucasia, besides propaganda for the abolition of all survivals of serfdom we carry on propaganda for socialism too.

Karsky: I am surprised at what Comrade Gorin said. When we composed our appeal to the peasants we did this in the spirit of our propaganda. Comrade Gorin was not there. If we did not refer to the question of the cut-off lands this was not because we are against them but because this problem does not exist in Caucasia. I have a special report on this matter, which I offer to the attention of anyone who wants to read it.

Lenin’s amendment was voted on and adopted by all against one.

Akselrod’s amendment was voted on and adopted unanimously.

The first paragraph as a whole was adopted unanimously.

Article 1 was discussed.

Lyadov proposed adding: ‘or on other inhabitants of the countryside, as a taxpaying estate’.

Posadovsky considered this amendment of Lyadov’s unacceptable, since it spoiled the unity of a whole section of the agrarian program-me, expressed in the first paragraph, where it was stated that the subject-matter was the peasants.

Martov defended the appropriateness of the insertion proposed by Lyadov, since what was meant here was the peasants as a socioeconomic entity, in which all the inhabitants of the countryside could be included.

Plekhanov sided with Posadovsky’s interpretation, since the rights of other estates were guaranteed by other sections of our programme.

Lyadov: Serfdom relations exist not only for the peasants but also for other estates.

Posadovsky: Serfdom relations survive not only in the rural areas, as, for example, in the case of quit-rent payers: whole towns are still in the dependent condition of quit-rent payers (Berdichev and others).

Martov agreed that Comrade Lyadov’s last reason was wrong, but he could not accept Plekhanov’s arguments as correct.

Makhov: Since the agrarian programme has not been rejected, we have to mix everything into it. The whole of New Russia was settled after 1861 and there are no serfdom relations there.[14] One cannot speak of the peasantry as a single entity.

Plekhanov: Comrade Makhov’s triumph is premature: what we are considering here is the redemption and quit-rent payments, but this is something quite different from general taxation. Comrade Makhov has misunderstood. But I offer him this example: in Ireland redemption and general taxation have nothing in common. The end of the paragraph, which is a repetition, though not essential, is not without value.

Lenin: I am against Comrade Lyadov’s proposal. We are not draft-ing law, but only giving general indications. Among the townsfolk in Russia there are also members of the taxpaying estates, and also there are the small tradesmen in the suburbs, and others, and if we were to include them all in our programme we should have to use the terminology of Volume IX of the Code of Laws.

Martov opposed insertions which deprived the programme of its character as an agrarian programme, but considered that Comrade Lyadov’s did not come into that category, as it dealt with a broad stratum of the non peasant population of the rural areas.

Muravyov: In Article 4 we mention the setting up of peasant committees for abolishing survivals of serfdom in the Urals and so on. Consequently, no insertion is needed in this paragraph.

Comrade Lyadov’s amendment, to add: ‘or on other inhabitants of rural areas, as a taxpaying estate’, was voted on, and rejected, by 25 to 15.

Article 1 as a whole was put to the vote and adopted unanimously.

Article 2 was discussed.

Kostrov and Lange moved amendments (see below) to this article.

Martynov: This article gives oblique hints but provides no answer to anything of importance. How are we to understand ‘their land’? From the recent commentaries in Iskra and Zarya it emerges that the peasant is to be able not only to get his share in a redistribution but also to take an allotment for himself. Therefore, there are two possible interpretations here: (1) each peasant has the right of redemption, in which case the interests of the village community are not infringed; or (2) each peasant has the right to appropriate land for himself, without redemption. I ask, how are we to understand this? Is there some unwillingness to give an answer here?

Lenin: Martynov’s question seems to me superfluous. Instead of stating general principles we are being forced to go into details. If we were to do this we should never come to the end of this congress. The principle is quite definite: each peasant has the right to dispose of his land, regardless of whether it is part of the village community’s land or privately owned. This is merely a demand for the peasant to have the right to dispose of his land. We insist that there must be no special laws for the peasants; we want more than merely the right to leave the village community. What may be required, in detail, to implement this we cannot now decide. I am against Comrade Lange’s addition: we cannot demand the abolition of all laws regulating the use of land. That would be going too far.

Martynov: I have been completely misunderstood. I am speaking not of details but of the general principle. Who is the owner of the land? The village community or the peasant who disposes of it? If the former then, since we consider it a hindrance to economic development, we stand for the right of redemption. If the latter, then there is no need for redemption.

Lyadov: If we introduce freedom of use into the programme, as Comrade Lange has proposed, we may end up with the Manchester principle.

Lenin: Martynov is evidently under a misapprehension. What we want is uniform application of a common body of laws—that which has now been adopted in all bourgeois states, derived from the basis of Roman law, which recognises both common property and private property. We should like to consider landownership by the village community as common property.

Plekhanov: I think it should be added that in the programme of the ‘Emancipation of Labour’ group there was mention of the peasant’s right to renounce his allotment. Current writings on this subject have shown that today the realisation of the demand would, owing to its inadequacy, run counter to the interests of the poorest section of the peasantry.

Lange: I maintain my amendment, since I consider insufficient the facts that have been given in explanation. In the sphere of landownership there are still many survivals of serfdom. Compulsory ways of using land, for instance. Comrade Lyadov’s objects are unsound, since by that reasoning all roads would lead to Manchesterism.

Comrade Kostrov’s amendment, to delete ‘collective responsibility’. was voted on and adopted unanimously.

Lange’s amendment, to add ‘and, to some extent, use’, was rejected by a big majority.

Article 2 was voted on as a whole and adopted unanimously.

Article 3 was discussed.

Makhov moved that Article 3 be rejected. Article 3 did not explain the agrarian programme as a whole and had nothing in common with it. We can raise the cultural and material level of the peasantry by other means. We should not play with phrases like ‘return of the redemption payments to the people’. We want to obtain money for certain purposes, so let us say so. And what shall we do with the rest of the money if the amount obtained from the confiscation exceeds what is needed? Accordingly, I regard the proposal as purely demagogic.

Comrade Makhov’s proposal for complete elimination of this article was rejected by all against four.

Rusov: Confiscation of monastery and appanage estates has no place in this article. Even if nothing were to be said about the redemption payments we should still have to confiscate these estates. I propose that the point about confiscation be transferred to a separate article.

Martynov: I do not understand why it is necessary to restore to the peasantry only what was taken from them after 1861 and not what was taken from them earlier. This is redressing historical injustice, but that did not begin for the peasantry only with the period of emancipation. We cannot take the standpoint of redressing historical injustice. We must do all we can for the cultural advancement of the peasantry, and the first part of this article merely restricts this fundamental demand.

Muravyov: We are concerned with eliminating survivals of feudalism. I should willingly favour demanding back everything that was taken from the peasants before 1861 as well, but I do not see what organisations or persons we could appeal to with such a demand, and so I should not advocate it.

Martov: We are told that restoration of the cut-off lands will not abolish bondage relations. What are we going to do? It would seem that here we provide the answer. I stand for retaining here the word ‘charitable’. This must be kept, since it concerns a struggle against the pauperism which developed on the basis of the allotments that were granted in 1861.

Martynov: Like Comrade Muravyov, I am in favour of taking everything possible from the exploiters. Therefore I am against the limitations of our programme. If our aim is to do everything for the peasants at the expense of the exploiters, then there is no point in confining our demands to the expropriation of the estates of the landlords alone. I do not see why we should not extend this expropriation to the land belonging to the Falz-Feins[15] and whole groups of new-type exploiters. We ought not to tie our hands.

Muravyov: Agreed. But not everything that is desirable is possible. Against the exploiters of whom Martynov speaks we fight by means of taxes on income. Sums of money which have caused poverty must go to raising the cultural level.

Kostrov: I propose that Article 3 be split into two parts and each part voted on separately, as comrades who support the first part may be against the second. I am definitely for the confiscation of monastery and appanage estates. There is even an element of bondage-relations in these estates. For example, the Borzhomi estate[16] of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich obliges the peasants who live on the lands of this estate to sell their produce exclusively to the estate office, which itself fixes the prices for this produce, and the peasant has to submit to the arbitrary decision of that office.

As regards the second half of the article, it is unjust and unrealistic. After all, many nobles who received redemption loans have already dissipated their estates and these have been acquired by kulaks, practically for a song. And why should special taxes be taken from these impoverished noblemen (assuming that we could obtain the money from them anyway) while the kulaks get off scot free? That would be unjust, and even impracticable.

Rusov: It is clear from what has been said that many who have spoken here in favour of confiscation do not agree with the rest of this article. So I support the demand for the article to be split and each part voted on separately.

Gusev opposed Comrade Rusov’s proposal. There could not be a separate article in the agrarian programme dealing with confiscation, since this had no place in such a programme.

Lyadov proposed adding the words: ‘church estates and those in the nature of latifundia’. By saying this we show that we want to return to the peasants not only what was taken from them after 1861 but also what was taken before that date.

Posadovsky: I agree with Comrade Lyadov, and propose that add: ‘church estates, and also those belonging to the Tsar’. I do not agree with him, though, about including latifundia, since we should then be introducing a demand for the expropriation of all large landowners, and that does not follow from the basis of this section of our minimum programme.

Kostrov proposed adding: ‘estates of the imperial family’.

Makhov: I want to ask a question. There are appanage estates and estates which are the private property of members of the imperial family. Are they to be treated as one and the same? The latter are of enormous extent. For instance, Nicholas II owns extensive lands in Siberia. Mikhail Nikolayevich, when he was ruling Caucasia, looted nearly the whole of it and he also has big latifundia in Kherson province.

Yegorov explained the matter of appanage and crown lands.

Kostrov: None of the estates of the imperial family were bought, but stolen from the people; we must certainly include all the estates of the imperial family.

Lenin: I am not sure that Comrade Yegorov’s explanation of the difference between appanage lands and those belonging to the Tsar is correct, but since Comrade Yegorov insists, I have nothing against that.

Rusov’s resolution was voted on. This was for the words ‘confiscation of monastery and appanage estates for general state purposes’ to be made a separate article. It was rejected by 19 to 11.

Martynov’s resolution was voted on. This was to formulate Article 3 as: ‘confiscation of monastery property and appanage estates. The sums thus obtained to be placed in a special people’s fund for the cultural needs of the rural communities’. It was rejected by 22 to 8.

Akselrod’s proposal to delete the word ‘large’ from the end of the fourth line of Article 3 was adopted.

Glebov’s proposal was adopted unanimously. This was to insert: ‘confiscation of monastery and church property and also appanage and crown estates and those of all members of the imperial family.’

Fomin’s amendment, to add to Glebov’s the words: ‘and belonging to’, was adopted unanimously.

Rejected by all against two was Makhov’s amendment to Glebov’s for deletion of word ‘crown’.

Gorin’s proposal was rejected. This was that Article 3 should readi ‘Confiscation of monastery property, appanage estates and lands cut off from the peasants’ holdings when serfdom was abolished. Taxes to be imposed on the lands of large-scale noble landowners who have received redemption loans. The sums obtained in this way to be paid into funds from which (1) the money taken from the people in the form of redemption and quit-rent payments must be returned to them, and (2) the cultural and charitable needs of the rural communities will be satisfied.’

Lyadov’s amendment—to add: ‘and large latifundia’—was rejected by all against four.

Lange’s amendment was rejected by all against one. This was to add: ‘as well as other large landowners, with grant to them of the right to claim compensation for their losses from the original noble owners’.

Lyadov’s amendment, to delete from the end the words ‘of the rural communities’, was rejected by all against one.

Plekhanov’s amendment, to substitute ‘return to the peasants’ for ‘return to the people,’ was adopted…

The article as a whole was approved by all against four.[17]

The session was closed.



[11] Revolutsionnaya Rossiya was the paper of the Socialist-Revolutionaries.

[12]S. Nechetny’s article on the situation of the Russian peasantry appeared in No. 2 of the journal mentioned, which was a publication of the Socialist-Revolutionaries.

[13] Trotsky refers to the Russian peasants’ folklore utopias– their ‘Land of Cockayne’.

[14] In his reference to Ireland Lenin has in mind the agrarian reforms (Land Acta) of 1881-1903 to which Trotsky attributed such importance in his article about the Easter Rising of 1916 (Trotsky’s Writings On Britain, Vol. III, p. 168).

[15] ‘New Russia’ was the region around Odessa, the provinces of Kherson and Bessarabia: Trotsky’s birthplace was in this part of the country.

[16] The Falz-Feins were big landowners in Taurida, one of the regions in South Russia ‘opened up’ after the abolition of serfdom, and are taken here as examples of capitalist landownership free from ‘survivals of serfdom’.

[17] [6] Borzhomi is in Georgia.