J. V. Stalin

Concerning the Revision of
the Agrarian Programme

(Speech delivered at the Seventh Sitting of the Fourth Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. 1
April 13 (26), 1906)

Source : Works, Vol. 1, November 1901 - April 1907
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). 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.

First of all I will speak about the mode of argument adopted by certain comrades. Comrade Plekhanov talked a lot about Comrade Lenin's "anarchistic propensities," about the fatal consequences of "Leninism," and so on, and so forth; but he said very little about the agrarian question. And yet he is down as one of the speakers on the agrarian question. I am of the opinion that this mode of argument, which creates an atmosphere of irritation, in addition to being out of harmony with the character of our congress, which is called a Unity Congress, tells us absolutely nothing about the presentation of the agrarian question. We could talk about Comrade Plekhanov's Cadet propensities, but we would not, thereby, carry the settlement of the agrarian question a single step forward.

Further, John, 2 from certain data of the life of Guria, the Lettish region, etc., draws an inference in favour of municipalisation for the whole of Russia. I must say that, speaking generally, that is not the way to draw up a programme. In drawing up a programme we must take as the starting point not the specific features of certain parts of certain border regions, but the features common to the majority of localities in Russia. A programme without a dominating line is not a programme, but a mechanical combination of different propositions. That is exactly how it stands with John's draft. Moreover, John is quoting incorrect data. In his opinion the very process of development of the peasant movement speaks in favour of his draft because in Guria, for example, in the very process of this movement, a regional local government body was formed which took control of the forests, etc. But first of all, Guria is not a region, but one of the uyezds in the Kutais Gubernia; secondly, there has never been in Guria a revolutionary local government body covering the whole of Guria; there have been only small local government bodies, which are not the same thing as a regional local government body; thirdly, control is one thing—ownership is quite another. Speaking generally, lots of legends are afloat concerning Guria, and the Russian comrades are quite mistaken in taking them for the truth. . . .

As regards the essence of the subject, I must say that the following proposition should serve as the starting point for our programme: since we are concluding a temporary revolutionary alliance with the militant peasantry, and therefore, since we cannot ignore the demands of this peasantry—we must support these demands if, on the whole, they do not run counter to the trend of economic development and the course of the revolution. The peasants are demanding division; division does not run counter to the phenomena I have mentioned; hence, we must support complete confiscation and division. From this point of view both nationalisation and municipalisation are equally unacceptable. By advancing the slogan of municipalisation, or of nationalisation, we gain nothing and make the alliance between the revolutionary peasantry and the proletariat impossible. Those who say that division is reactionary confuse two stages of development: the capitalist and the pre-capitalist stages. Undoubtedly, in the capitalist stage, division is reactionary; but under pre-capitalist conditions (under the conditions prevailing in the Russian countryside, for example), division, on the whole, is revolutionary. Of course, forests, waters, etc., cannot be divided, but these can be nationalised, and that does not run counter to the revolutionary demands put forward by the peasants. Furthermore, the slogan: Revolutionary Committees — which John proposes instead of Revolutionary Peasant Committees —fundamentally contradicts the spirit of the agrarian revolution. The object of the agrarian revolution is primarily and mainly to emancipate the peasants; consequently, the slogan, Peasant Committees, is the only slogan that corresponds to the spirit of the agrarian revolution. If the emancipation of the proletariat must be the act of the proletariat itself, then the emancipation of the peasants must be the act of the peasants themselves.

* Minutes of the Unity Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party held in Stockholm in 1906


1. The Fourth ("Unity") Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was held in Stockholm from April 10 to 25 (April 23 to May 8, New Style), 1906. Representatives were also present from the national Social-Democratic parties of Poland and Lithuania, Latvia and from the Bund. Many of the Bolshevik organisations were broken up by the government after the armed uprising in December 1905 and were therefore unable to send delegates. The Mensheviks had a majority at this congress, although a small one. The predominance of the Mensheviks at the congress determined the character of its decisions on a number of questions. J. V. Stalin attended the congress as a delegate from the Tiflis organisation of the Bolsheviks under the pseudonym of Ivanovich. He took part in the debates on the draft agrarian programme, on the current situation, and on the State Duma. In addition, he made several statements of fact, in which he exposed the opportunist tactics of the Transcaucasian Menshe-viks on the question of the State Duma, on the agreement with the Bund, and other questions.

2. John — the pseudonym of P. P. Maslov.