Landowners' Call for "Pacifying" the Countryside
|Written||28 April 1913|
Published on May 4, 1913 in Pravda No. 101. Printed from the Pravda text. Signed: M.P..
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 232-233.
If the newspaper Novoye Vremya is quite deservedly “famed” for being one of the most dishonest newspapers, which adapts itself to profitable business interests, to the government, and to the ruling class of landowners, its correspondent Menshikov is doubly famed, and with even better reason.
Menshikov’s articles frequently allow readers to make a sure guess as to which “circles” in official, capitalist, or aristocratic St. Petersburg had ordered this or that statement by him. Not very long ago, this Menshikov was ordered an article in defence of the “aristocratic” Council of State against the plans for its supposedly democratic reform. The article had clearly been ordered by high-ranking official landowner circles. All the more instructive is it then to hear what the landowners have to say about the notorious “pacification” of the countryside.
“I have fairly frequent calls from provincials visiting St. Petersburg, landowners and public men,” says Menshikov. Whether the landowners call on him, or whether he calls at the front halls of distinguished landowners, is another matter. In any case he sings to the landowners’ tune, and his article has value only in that it gives one an idea of what the landowners frankly say.
“If they are to be believed—and why shouldn’t they be believed,” the landowners’ mouthpiece goes on, “the Pugachov movement of 1905–06 has not at all ended. It has subsided, it has assumed other, less boisterous forms, but it continues its work of destruction. True, the peasants no longer march, as they used to do, in great crowds, with caravans of horse-drawn carts, to plunder and burn the country estates of the landowners. But arson continues all the same without cease: now it’s a house they set on fire, now a threshing shed, now a hayloft, now a barn, now a stack of corn or straw. The most outrageous, the most stupid illegal cattle-grazing continues.... During the seven years of our parliamentary era, no headway at all has been made in the fight against village anarchy.”
Thus writes Menshikov in Novoye Vremya. The order evidently was to prepare “public opinion” for fresh measures of persecution and punishment of “hooligans”, to use the expression current in the Black-Hundred and Octobrist camp. But, in carrying out his orders, the landowners’ lackey blurts out the landowners’ true state of mind and the true causes of their alarm.
Let us note and remember that the landowning gentry intend to have new punitive laws and regulations to fight the “Pugachov movement” of 1905–06, which has not at all ended, but has assumed new forms.
Only one thing is somewhat strange. In 1905 and 1906, the government and the Council of the United Nobility assured themselves and others that the “Pugachov movement” was the result of communal landownership and the embryonic state of the institution of private property in land among the peasantry. Now all the agents of the government, all the government parties and newspapers are dinning into our ears that the village commune has collapsed and has been destroyed, and that the new system of land tenure and the establishment of private property in land among the peasantry have been a “tremendous” success. If that were so, the “Pugachov movement” allegedly caused by the village commune should surely have stopped! And if it “has not at all ended”, as the landowners assure us through Menshikov, their mouthpiece, it follows that the village commune has nothing to do with it. Consequently, the famous successes of the “new system of land tenure” are a myth.
At any rate, the policy of which the landowners have been boasting is a patent flop.
- Yemelyan Pugachov—the leader of the peasant war of 1773– 75.
- The Council of the United Nobility—a counter-revolutionary landowners’ organisation which had a great influence on the tsarist government’s policy; formed in May 1906, under the chairmanship of the big landowner, Count A. A. Bobrinsky. During the Third Duma period, a considerable number of its members were on the Council of Stale and within the leadership of reactionary organisations.