New Economic Developments in Peasant Life

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 1893


MIA-bannière.gif
(On V. Y. POSTNIKOV’S Peasant Farming in South Russia)

Written: in the spring of 1893
First published in 1923. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume , pages 11-74.


The article New Economic Developments in Peasant Life. (On V. Y. Postnikov’s Peasant Farming In South Russia) is the earliest of V. I. Lenin’s works that has been preserved. It was written in Samara in the spring of 1893, and the manuscript was read in circles attended by young Marxists of that town. Lenin intended to have it printed in the liberal magazine Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought), published in Moscow, but it was rejected by the editorial board “as unsuited to the policy of the magazine.” In a letter dated May 30, 1894, Lenin said the following: “I was even naive enough to send it to Russkaya Mysl, but of course they turned it down. The thing became quite clear to me when I read in No. 2 of that magazine an article about Postnikov by ’our well-known’ liberal vulgarian, Mr. V. V. One must surely be an artist to be able to completely distort magnificent material and to obscure all the facts with phrase-mongering!”

The Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the CC CPSU possesses two manuscript copies of the article New Economic Developments in Peasant Life. The first (rough) copy was found among Lenin’s personal papers; the second, which contains some additions made by Lenin when it was finally copied, was handed by him to S. I. Mickiewicz, from whom it was confiscated during a search on December 3, 1894. The manuscript was discovered in 1923 in the records of the Moscow Law Court, and was then published for the first time in the miscellany The Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the First Party Congress (1898 -1923). In the present edition the article New Economic Developments in Peasant Life is printed according to the text of the second manuscript, as corrected by V. I. Lenin.

The Institute of Marxism-Leninism also possesses a copy of V. Y. Postnikov’s book Peasant Farming in South Russia bearing Lenin’s comments.

Lenin used the most important material of this article in the second chapter of his The Development of Capitalism in Russia written in 1896-1899 and published in March 1899. (Note of the LCW edition)

I[edit source]

V. Y. Postnikov’s Peasant Farming in South Russia (Moscow, 1891, pp. XXXII + 391), which appeared two years ago, is an extremely detailed and thorough description of peasant farming in the Taurida, Kherson and Yekaterinoslav gubernias,[1] but chiefly in the mainland (northern) uyezds of Taurida Gubernia. This description is based firstly—and primarily—on the Zemstvo[2] statistical investigations of the three gubernias mentioned; and, secondly, on the author’s personal observations made partly in his official capacity,[3] and partly for the special purpose of studying peasant farming in 1887-1890.

An attempt to combine into one whole the Zemstvo statistical investigations for an entire region and to set forth the results in systematic form is in itself of tremendous interest, since the Zemstvo statistics provide a mass of detailed material on the economic conditions of the peasantry, but they do so in a form that renders these investigations practically useless to the public: the Zemstvo statistical abstracts comprise whole volumes of tables (a separate volume is usually devoted to each uyezd), the mere summarising of which under sufficiently definite and comprehensive headings is a labour in itself. The need to summarise and analyse Zemstvo statistical data has long been felt. It is for this purpose that the publication of the Results of Zemstvo Statistical Investigations was recently undertaken. The plan of this publication is as follows: a particular question related to peasant farming is taken, and a special investigation is carried out, bringing together all the data on this question contained in the Zemstvo statistics; data are brought together relating to the black-earth South of Russia and to the non-black-earth North, to the exclusively agricultural gubernias and to the gubernias where there are handicraft industries. The two published volumes of Results have been compiled according to this plan; the first is devoted to the “peasant community” (V. V.), the second to “peasant rentings of non-allotment land” (N. Karyshev).[4] It is quite reasonable to doubt the correctness of this method of summarising: firstly, data relating to different economic regions with different economic conditions have to be placed under one heading (the separate characterisation of each region involves tremendous difficulties due to the incompleteness of the Zemstvo investigations and the omission of many uyezds. These difficulties were already evident in the second volume of Results ; Karyshev’s attempt to assign the data contained in the Zemstvo statistics to definite regions was unsuccessful); secondly, it is quite impossible to give a separate description of one aspect of peasant farming without touching on others; the particular question has to be artificially abstracted, and the completeness of the picture is lost. Peasant rentings of non-allotment land are divorced from the renting of allotment land, from general data on the economic classification of the peasants and the size of the crop area; they are regarded only as part of peasant farming, whereas actually they are often a special method of private-landowner farming. That is why a summary of Zemstvo statistical data for a given region where the economic conditions are uniform would, I think, be preferable.

While expressing, in passing, my views on a more correct way of summarising Zemstvo statistical investigations, views to which I am led by comparing the Results with Postnikov’s book, I must, however, make the reservation that Postnikov did not, in fact, aim at summarising materials: he pushes the figures into the background and concentrates his attention on a full and clear description.

In his description, the author pays almost equal attention to questions of an economic, administrative-legal character (forms of land tenure) and of a technical character (boundaries, farming system, harvests), but with the intention of keeping questions of the first kind in the foreground.

“I must confess,” says Mr. Postnikov in the Preface, “that I devote less attention to the technique of peasant farming than I might have done; but I take this course because, in my view, conditions of an economic character play a much more important part in peasant farming than technique. In our press... the economic aspect is usually ignored.... Very little attention is paid to investigating fundamental economic problems, such as the agrarian and boundary problems are for our peasant farming. It is to the elucidation of these problems, and of the agrarian problem in particular, that this book is chiefly devoted” (Preface, p. IX).

Fully sharing the author’s views on the relative importance of economic and technical questions, I intend to devote my article only to that part of Mr. Postnikov’s work in which peasant farming is subjected to political-economic investigation.[5]

In his preface the author defines the main points of the investigation as follows:

“The considerable employment of machines that has recently become evident in peasant farming and the marked increase in the size of farms belonging to the well-to-do section of the peasantry, constitute a new phase in our agrarian life, the development of which will undoubtedly receive a new stimulus from the severe economic conditions of the present year. The productivity of peasant labour and the working capacity of the family rise considerably with the increase in the size of the farm and the employment of machines, a point hitherto overlooked in defining the area that a peasant family can cultivate....

“The employment of machines in peasant farming causes substantial changes in peasant life: by reducing the demand for labour in agriculture and rendering the existing agricultural over-population still more acute for the peasants, it helps to increase the number of families which, having become superfluous in the villages, are forced to seek outside employment and virtually become landless. At the same time, the introduction of large machines in peasant farming raises the peasant’s living standard, even under the prevailing methods and extensive character of agriculture, to a level hitherto undreamt of. Therein lies the guarantee of the strength of the new economic developments in peasant life. To draw attention to and elucidate these developments among the peasantry of South Russia is the immediate purpose of this book” (Preface, p. X).

Before proceeding to outline what, in the opinion of our author, these new economic developments are, I must make two reservations.

Firstly, it has been said above that Postnikov provides data for Kherson, Yekaterinoslav and Taurida gubernias; data in sufficient detail are given only for the latter gubernia, however, and then not for the whole of it; the author gives no data for the Crimea, where the economic conditions are somewhat different, and confines himself exclusively to the three northern, mainland uyezds of Taurida Gubernia—Berdyansk, Melitopol and Dnieper uyezds. I shall confine myself to the data for these three uyezds.

Secondly, in addition to Russians, Taurida Gubernia is inhabited by Germans and Bulgarians, whose numbers, however, are small compared with the Russian population: in Dnieper Uyezd, there are 113 households of German colonists out of 19,586 households in the uyezd, i.e., only 0.6%; in Melitopol Uyezd, there are 2,159 (1,874 + 285) German and Bulgarian households out of 34,978, i.e., 6.1%. Lastly, in Berdyansk Uyezd, 7,224 households out of 28,794, i.e., 25%. Taken together, in all the three uyezds, the colonists account for 9,496 households out of 83,358, i.e., about one-ninth. Consequently, the number of colonists is, on the whole, very small, and in the Dnieper Uyezd is quite insignificant. The author describes the colonists’ farming in detail, always separating it from that of the Russians. All these descriptions I omit, confining myself exclusively to the farming of the Russian peasants. True, the figures given combine the Russians and the Germans, but, owing to the small number of the latter, their addition cannot change the general picture, so that it is quite permissible, on the basis of these data, to describe Russian peasant farming. The Russian population of Taurida Gubernia, who have settled in this region during the past 30 years, differ from the peasantry of the other Russian gubernias only by their greater affluence. Community land tenure in these areas is, in the words of our author, “typical and stable.”[6] In a word, if the colonists are omitted, peasant farming in Taurida Gubernia does not differ fundamentally from the general type of Russian peasant farming.

II[edit source]

“At the present time,” says Postnikov, “a South Russian village of any size (and the same can probably be said of most localities in Russia) presents such a variegated picture as regards the economic status of the various groups of its inhabitants, that it is very difficult to speak of the living standard of separate villages as single units, or to depict this standard in average figures. Such average figures indicate certain general conditions that determine the economic life of the peasantry, but they do not give any idea of the great diversity of economic phenomena that actually exists” (p. 106).

A little further on, Postnikov expresses himself still more definitely:

“The diversity in economic level,” he says, “makes it extremely difficult to settle the question of the general prosperity of the population. People who make a cursory tour through the large villages of Taurida Gubernia usually draw the conclusion that the local peasants are very prosperous. But can a village be called prosperous when half its peasants are rich, while the other half live in permanent poverty? And by what criteria is the relatively greater or lesser prosperity of a particular village to be determined? Obviously, average figures characterising the condition of the population of a whole village or district are here insufficient to draw conclusions as to the prosperity of the peasants. This latter may be judged only from the sum-total of many facts, by dividing the population into groups ” (p. 154).

One might think that there is nothing new in this statement of the differentiation of the peasantry; it is referred to in practically every work dealing with peasant farming in general. But the point is that, as a rule, when mention is made of the fact, no significance is attached to it, it being regarded as unimportant or even incidental. It is deemed possible to speak of a type of peasant farming, the type being defined by average figures; discussion takes place about the significance of various practical measures in relation to the peasantry as a whole. In Postnikov’s book we see a protest against such views. He points (and does so repeatedly) to the “tremendous diversity in the economic status of the various households within the village community” (p. 323), and takes up arms against “the tendency to regard the peasant mir[7] as something integral and homogeneous, such as our urban intelligentsia still imagine it to be” (p. 351). “The Zemstvo statistical investigations of the past decade,” he says, “have shown that our village community is by no means the homogeneous unit our publicists of the seventies thought it was, and that in the past few decades there has taken place within it a differentiation of the population into groups with quite different levels of economic prosperity” (p. 323).

Postnikov supports his opinion with a mass of data dispersed throughout the book, and we must proceed to gather all these data systematically in order to test the truth of this opinion and to decide who is right—whether it is the “urban intelligentsia,” who regard the peasantry as something homogeneous, or Postnikov, who asserts that there is tremendous heterogeneity—and then how profound is this heterogeneity, does it prevent a general description of peasant farming being given from the political-economic standpoint, on the basis of only average data, and can it alter the action and influence of practical measures in relation to the various categories of the peasantry?

Before citing figures that supply the material to settle these questions, it should be noted that Postnikov took all data of this kind from the Zemstvo statistical abstracts for Taurida Gubernia. Originally, the Zemstvo census statistics were confined to data covering whole village communities, no data being collected on individual peasant households. Soon, however, differences were noted in the property status of these households, and house-to-house censuses were undertaken; this was the first step towards a more thoroughgoing study of the economic status of the peasants. The next step was the introduction of combined tables: prompted by the conviction that the property differences among the peasants within the village community[8] are more profound than the differences between the various juridical categories of peasants, the statisticians began to classify all the indices of peasant economic status according to definite property differences; for example, they grouped the peasants according to the number of dessiatines[9] under crops, the number of draught animals, the amount of allotment arable per household, and so on.

The Taurida Zemstvo statistics classify the peasants according to the number of dessiatines under crops. Postnikov is of the opinion that this classification “is a happy one” (p. XII), as “under the farming conditions in the Taurida uyezds, the amount of land under crops is the most important criterion of the peasant’s living standard” (p. XII). “In the South-Russian steppe territory,” says Postnikov, “the development among the peasants of various kinds of non-agricultural industries is as yet relatively insignificant, and the main occupation of the vast majority of the rural population today is agriculture based on the cultivation of grain.” “The Zemstvo statistics show that in the northern uyezds of Taurida Gubernia, 7.6% of the native rural population engages exclusively in industries, while 16.3%, in addition to farming their own land, have some subsidiary occupation” (p. 108). As a matter of fact, classification according to area under crops is far more correct even for other parts of Russia than any other basis of classification adopted by the Zemstvo statisticians, as, for example, number of dessiatines of allotment land or allotment arable per household. For, on the one hand, the amount of allotment land is no direct indication of the household’s prosperity, inasmuch as the size of the allotment is determined by the number of registered[10] or of actual males in the family, and is only indirectly dependent on the peasant’s prosperity, and because, lastly, the peasant possibly does not use his allotment land and leases it to others, and when he has no implements he cannot use it. On the other hand, if the principal pursuit of the population is agriculture, the determination of the cultivated area is necessary in order to keep account of production, to determine the amount of grain consumed by the peasant, purchased by him, or placed on the market, for unless these points are ascertained, a highly important aspect of peasant economy will remain unexplained, the character of his farming, its significance relative to other earnings, etc., will not be made clear. Lastly, it is precisely the cultivated area that must be made the basis of classification, so that we can compare the economy of the household with the so-called norms of peasant land tenure and farming, with the food norm (Nahrungsfläche ) and the labour norm (Arbeitsfläche).[11] In a word, classification according to area under crops not only seems to be a happy one; it is the best and is absolutely essential.

As to area under crops the Taurida statisticians divide the peasants into six groups: 1) those cultivating no land; 2) those cultivating up to 5 dessiatines; 3) from 5 to 10 dessiatines; 4) from 10 to 25 dessiatines; 5) from 25 to 50 dessiatines and 6) over 50 dessiatines per household. For the three uyezds the proportionate relation of these groups according to the number of households is as follows:

Uyezds

Average area (dess.) under crops

per household in all three uyezds

Percentages of households

Berdyansk

Melitopol

Dnieper

Cultivating no land

" up to 5 dess."

" 5 to 10 "

" 10 to 25 "

" 25 to 50 "

"over 50 "

6

12

22

38

19

3

7.5

11.5

21

39

16.6

4.4

9

11

20

41.8

15.1

3.1

3.5

8

16.4

34.5

75


The general proportions (these percentages are given for the whole population, including Germans) undergo little change if we omit the Germans. Thus, the author reckons that of the households in the Taurida uyezds 40% cultivate small areas (up to 10 dessiatines), 40% medium (from 10 to 25 dessiatines) and 20% large areas. If the Germans are excluded, the latter figure is reduced to one-sixth (16.7%, i.e., in all 3.3% less) and correspondingly increases the number of households with a small cultivated area.

To determine the degree to which these groups differ, let us begin with land tenure and land usage.

Postnikov gives the following table (the combined totals of the three categories of land mentioned in it were not calculated by him [p. 145]):

Peasant...

groups

AVERAGE ARABLE PER HOUSEHOLD
(dessiatines)

Berdyansk Uyezd Melitopol Uyezd

Dnieper Uyezd

Allotment

Purchased

Rented

Total

Allotment

Purchased

Rented

Total

Allotment

Purchased

Rented

Total

no land

"up to 5 dess."

"5 to 10"

"10 to 25"

"25 to 50"

"over 50"

6.8

6.9
9
14.1
27.6
36.7

3.1

0.7

0.6
2.1
31.3

0.09

0.4
1.1
4
9.8
48.4

10

8.0
10.1
18.7
39.5
116.4

8.7

7.1
9
12.8
23.5
36.2

.07

0.2
0.2
0.3
1.5
21.3

0.4
1.4
4.5
13.4
42.5

9.4

7.7
10.6
17.6
38.4
100

6.4

5.5
8.7
12.5
16.6
17.4

0.9

0.04
0.05
0.6
2.3
30

0.1

0.6
1.6
5.8
17.4
44

7.4

6.1
10.3
18.9
36.3
91.4

Per uyezd

14.8

1.6

5

21.4

14.1

1.4

6.7

22.2

11.2

1.7

7.0

19.9


“These figures show,” says Postnikov, “that the more affluent group of peasants in the Taurida uyezds not only have large allotments, which may be due to the large size of their families, but are at the same time the largest purchasers and the largest renters of land” (p. 146).

It seems to me that in this connection we need only say that the increase in the amount of allotted land, as we proceed from the bottom group to the top, cannot be explained entirely by the larger size of families. Postnikov gives the following table showing the family composition by groups for the three uyezds.

Average per family
Berdyansk Uyezd Melitopol Uyezd Dnieper Uyezd
Persons,
both
sexes
Working
members
Persons,
both
sexes
Working
members
Persons,
both
sexes
Working
members

Cultivating no land

”up to 5 dess.

”5 to 10"

”10 to 25"

”25 to 50"

”over 50"

4.5

4.9

5.6

7.1

8.2

10.6

0.9

1.1

1.2

1.6

1.8

2.3

4.1

4.6

5.3

6.8

8.6

10.8

0.9

1

1.2

1.5

1.9

2.3

4.6

4.9

5.4

6.3

8.2

10.1

1

1.1

1.2

1.4

1.9

2.3


Per uyezd . . .

6.3

1.5

6.5

1.5

6.2

1.4


The table shows that the amount of allotment land per household increases from the bottom group to the top much more rapidly than the number of persons of both sexes and the number of working members. Let us illustrate this by taking 100 as the figure for the bottom group in Dnieper Uyezd:

Allotment land Working members Persons of both sexes
Cultivating no land

"up to 5 dess."

"5 to 10"

"10 to 25"

"25 to 50"

"over 50"

100

86

136

195

259

272

100

110

120

140

190

230

100

106

117

137

178

219

It is clear that what determines the size of the allotment, apart from the composition of the family, is the prosperity of the household.


It is clear that what determines the size of the allotment, apart from the composition of the family, is the prosperity of the household.

Examining the data for the amount of purchased land in the various groups, we see that the purchasers of land are almost exclusively the top groups, with over 25 dessiatines under crops, and chiefly the very big cultivators, those with 75 dessiatines under crops per household. Hence, the data for purchased land fully corroborate Postnikov’s opinion regarding the differences between the peasant groups. The type of information as that given by the author on p. 147, for example, where he says that “the peasants of the Taurida uyezds purchased 96,146 dessiatines of land,” does not in any way describe the real situation; almost all this land is in the hands of an insignificant minority, those already best provided with allotment land, the “affluent” peasants, as Postnikov calls them; and they constitute no more than one-fifth of the population.

The same must be said of rented land. The above table gives the total figure for rented land, allotment and non-allotment. It appears that the area of rented land grows quite regularly the greater the prosperity of the peasants, and that, consequently, the better supplied the peasant is with land, the more he rents, thus depriving the poorer groups of the land they need.

It should be noted that this phenomenon is common to the whole of Russia. Prof. Karyshev, summarising the facts of peasant non-allotment rentings throughout Russia, wherever Zemstvo statistical investigations are available, formulates the general law that the amount of rented land depends directly on the renter’s degree of affluence.[12]

Postnikov, incidentally, cites even more detailed figures about the distribution of rented land (non-allotment and allotment together), which I give here:

Cultivating Berdyansk Uyezd

Arable

Melitopol Uyezd

Arable

Dnieper Uyezd

Arable

% of

renting

house-

holds

per

renting

house-

hold

(dess.)

Price

per dess.

(rubles)

% of

renting

house

-holds

per

renting

house-

hold

(dess.)

Price

per dess.

(rubles)

% of

renting

house-

holds

per

renting

house-

hold

(dess.)

Price

per

dess.

(rubles)

up to 5 dess.

“5 to 10"

“10 to 25 "

“25 to 50 "

“over 50 "

18.7

33.6

57

60.6

78.5

2.1

3.2

7

16.1

62

11

9.20

7.65

6.80

4.20

14.4

34.8

59.3

80.5

88.8

3

4.1

7.5

16.9

47.6

5.50

5.52

5.74

6.30

3.93

25

42

69

88

91

2.4

3.9

8.5

20

48.6

15.25

12

4.75

3.75

3.55

Per uyezd 44.8 11.1 5.80 50 12.4 4.86 56.2 12.4 4.23

We see that here, too, average figures do not in any way describe the real situation. When we say, for example, that in Dnieper Uyezd 56% of the peasants rent land, we give a very incomplete picture of this renting, for the percentage of renters in the groups who (as will be shown later) have insufficient land of their own is much lower—only 25% in the first group, whereas the top group, those who have sufficient land of their own, almost all resort to renting (91%). The difference in the number of rented dessiatines per renting household is even more considerable: the top category rents 30, 15 and 24 times more than the bottom one. Obviously, this alters the very character of the renting, for in the top category it is already a commercial undertaking, whereas in the bottom one it may be an operation necessitated by dire need. This latter assumption is corroborated by data on rentals: they show that the bottom groups pay a higher rent for the land, sometimes four times as much as the top category (in Dnieper Uyezd). It should be recalled in this connection that the increase in rent as the amount of rented land grows smaller is not peculiar to South Russia; Karyshev’s work shows the general applicability of this law.

“Land in the Taurida uyezds,” says Postnikov with regard to these data, “is rented chiefly by the well-to-do peasants, who have enough allotment land and land of their own; this should be said in particular of the renting of non-allotment land, i.e., of privately-owned and government land, situated at greater distances from the villages. Actually this is quite natural to be able to rent distant land the peasant must have sufficient draught animals, whereas the less prosperous peasants in these areas have not enough even to cultivate their allotment land” (p. 148).

It should not be thought that this distribution of rented land is due to its being rented by individuals. There is no difference at all where the land is rented by the community, and for the simple reason that the land is distributed on the same principle, that is, “according to where the money lies.”

Peasant groups Berdyansk Uyezd Melitopol Uyezd Dnieper Uyezd All three Uyezd
No. of
renting
hshlds
Dess.
rented
Per
renting
hshld
(dess.)
No. of
renting
hshlds
Dess.
rented
Per
renting
hshld
(dess.)
No. of
renting
hshlds
Dess.
rented
Per
renting
hshld
(dess.)
No. of
renting
hshlds
Dess.
rented
% Per
renting
hshld
(dess.)
Cultivating up to 5 dess. 39 66 1.7 24 383 16 20 62 3.1 83 511 1 6.1
"5 to 10 " 227 400 1.8 159 776 4.8 58 251 4.3 444 1,427 3 3.2
"10 to 25 " 687 2,642 3.8 707 4,569 6.4 338 1,500 4.4 1,732 8,711 20 5.0
"25 to 50 " 387 3,755 9.7 672 8,564 12.7 186 1,056 5.7 1,245 13,375 30 10.7
"over 50 " 113 3,194 28.3 440 15,365 34.9 79 1,724 21.8 632 20,283 46 32.1
Totals 1,453 10,057 7 2,002 29,657 14.8 681 4,593 6.7 4,136 44,307 100 10.7


“According to the registers of the Administration of State Property,” says Postnikov, “in 1890, out of 133,852 dessiatines of government land leased on contract in the three uyezds, 84,756 dessiatines of good land, or about 63% of the total area, were used by peasant communities. But the land rented by the peasant communities was used by a comparatively small number of householders, mostly well to-do at that. The Zemstvo house-to-house census makes this fact quite clear” (p. 150).[13]

“Thus,” concludes Postnikov, “in Dnieper Uyezd more than half of all the rented arable, in Berdyansk Uyezd over two-thirds, and in Melitopol Uyezd, where mostly government land is rented, even more than four fifths of the rented land was in the hands of the group of well-to-do peasants. On the other hand, the group of poor peasants (cultivating up to 10 dessiatines of arable), held in all the uyezds a total of 1,938 dessiatines, or about 4% of the rented land” (p. 150). The author then cites many examples of the uneven distribution of community-rented land, but there is no need to quote them here.

As to Postnikov’s conclusion about the amount of rented land being dependent upon the degree of prosperity of the renter, it is highly interesting to note the opposite view of the Zemstvo statisticians.

Postnikov placed an article, “On Zemstvo Statistical Work in Taurida, Kherson and Yekaterinoslav Gubernias” (pp. XI-XXXII), at the beginning of his book. Here, among other things, he examines the Taurida Gubernia Handbook, published by the Taurida Zemstvo in 1889, in which the entire investigation was briefly summarised. Analysing the section of the book which deals with renting, Postnikov says:

“In our land-abundant southern and eastern gubernias, the Zemstvo statistics have revealed that a fairly substantial proportion of well-to-do peasants, in addition to having considerable allotments of their own, rent fairly large amounts of land on the side. Farming is here conducted not only to satisfy the requirements of the family itself, but also to obtain some surplus, an income with which to improve buildings, acquire machines and buy additional land. This is quite a natural desire, and there is nothing reprehensible about it, for in itself it contains no elements of kulakism.” [There are no elements of kulakism here, it is true; but there undoubtedly are elements of exploitation: by renting land far in excess of their requirements, the prosperous peasants deprive the poor of land needed for their subsistence; by enlarging their farms they need extra hands and resort to hiring labour.] “But some of the Zemstvo statisticians, evidently regarding such manifestations in peasant life as something illegitimate, try to belittle their importance and to prove that it is chiefly the need for food that drives the peasant to rent land, and that even if the well-to-do peasants do rent a great deal of land, these renters constitute a percentage that decreases steadily as the size of the allotment increases” (p. XVII)—to prove this point, Mr. Werner, the compiler of the Handbook, grouped together, according to the size of their allotments, the peasant families of the entire Taurida Gubernia who had 1 or 2 working members and 2 or 3 draught animals. It turned out that “as the size of the allotment increases, there is a regular decrease in the percentage of renting households and a less regular decrease in the amount of land rented per household” (p. XVIII). Postnikov quite rightly says that this method is not conclusive at all, since a section of the peasants (only those possessing 2 or 3 draught animals) has been selected arbitrarily, it being precisely the well-to-do peasants who have been omitted, and that, moreover, to lump together the mainland uyezds of Taurida Gubernia and the Crimea is impermissible, since the conditions of renting in the two areas are not identical: in the Crimea, one half to three-fourths of the population are landless (so-called dessiatiners),[14] whereas in the northern uyezds only 3 or 4% are landless. In the Crimea, it is almost always easy to find land for hire; in the northern uyezds it is sometimes impossible. It is interesting to note that the Zemstvo statisticians of other gubernias have been observed to make similar attempts (of course, equally unsuccessful) to tone down such “illegitimate” manifestations in peasant life as renting land to provide an income. (See Karyshev, op. cit.)

If, accordingly, the distribution of peasant non-allotment renting reveals the existence among the various peasant farms of differences that are not only quantitative (he rents much, he rents little), but also qualitative (he rents through need of food; he rents for commercial purposes), still more has this to be said of the renting of allotment land.

“The total allotment arable rented by peasants from other peasants,” says Postnikov, “as registered in the three Taurida uyezds by the 1884-1886 house-to-house census of the peasantry, amounted to 256,716 dessiatines, which here constitutes one-fourth of the total peasant allotment arable; and this does not include land let by peasants to all sorts of people who live in the countryside, or to clerks, teachers, priests and other persons who do not belong to the peasantry and are not covered by the house-to-house census. Practically all this land is rented by peasants who belong to the well-to-do groups, as the following figures show. The amount of allotment arable rented by peasants from their neighbours, as recorded by the census, was as follows:

Cultivating up to 10 dess. per household
Cultivating 10 to 25 dess. per household
Cultivating more than 25 dess. per household
16,594 dess., i. e.
89,526
150,596
6%
35%
59%
Total 256,716 dess. 100%

“The major part, however, of this leased land, like most of the lessors themselves, belongs to the group of peasants who cultivate no land, do no farming of any sort, or to those who cultivate but little land. Thus, a considerable number of the peasants of the Taurida uyezds (approximately one-third of the total population) do not exploit their whole allotment—some for lack of desire, but mostly for lack of the necessary animals and implements with which to engage in farming—but lease it to others and thereby increase the land in use by the other, better-off section of the peasants. The majority of the lessors undoubtedly belong to the category of impoverished, declining householders” (pp, 136-37). Corroboration of this is furnished by the following table “for two uyezds of Taurida Gubernia (the Zemstvo statistics provide no information for Melitopol Uyezd), which shows the proportion of householders who lease their allotments to others, and the percentage of allotment arable leased by them” (p. 135):

Cultivating Berdyansk Uyezd Dnieper Uyezd
% of house holders

leasing their

allotment land

% of leased

allotment land

% of house holders

leasing their

allotment land

% of leased

allotment land

no land

"up to 5 dess."

"5 to 10"

"10 to 25"

"25 to 50"

"over 50"

73

65

46

21.5

9

12.7

97

54

23.6

8.3

2.7

6.3

80

30

23

16

7

7

97.1

38.4

17.2

8.1

2.9

13.8

For uyezd. 32.7 11.2 25.7 14.9

Let us now pass from peasant land tenure and land usage to the distribution of farm stock and implements. Postnikov gives the following data—for all three uyezds together—on the number of draught animals possessed by the groups:

Average per household (Total)
Horses Oxen Draught

animals

Other

animals[15]

In all[16]
% of house holds

possessing no dr. animals

Cultivating no land

"up to 5 dess."

"5 to 10"

"10 to 25"

"25 to 50"

"over 50 "

6,467

25,152

80,517

62,823

21,003

3,082

8,924

24,943

19,030

11,648

0.3

1.0

1.9

3.2

5.8

10.5

0.8

1.4

2.3

4.1

8.1

19.5

1.1

2.4

4.2

7.3

13.9

30

80.5

48.3

12.5

1.4

0.1

0.03

Total. . . 195,962 67,627 3.1 4.5 7.6

These figures, by themselves, do not characterise the categories—that will be done below, when we describe the technique of agriculture and classify the peasants according to economic category. Here we shall only mention that the difference between peasant groups with regard to the number of draught animals they own is so profound that we see far more animals in the top groups than can possibly be required for the needs of the family, while the bottom groups have so few (especially draught animals) that independent farming becomes impossible.

Similar in every respect are data on the distribution of farm implements. “The house-to-house census, that registered the peasant-owned iron ploughs and drill ploughs, gives the following figures for the entire population of the uyezds” (p. 214):

Percentage of household
with no ploughing

implements

with only a drill

plough

with an iron

plough, etc.

Berdyansk Uyezd

Melitopol Uyezd

Dnieper Uyezd

33

37.8

39.3

10

28.2

7

57

34

53.7

This table shows how very large a group of peasants is unable to carry on independent farming. The situation among the top groups can be seen from the following data on the number of implements per household in the various groups, classified according to area under crops:

Cultivating Implements per household
Berdyansk

Uyezd

Melitopol

Uyezd

Dnieper

Uyezd

Carting

(waggons, etc)

Ploughing

(iron ploughs

and drill ploughs)

Carting Ploughing Carting Ploughing
5 to 10 dess.

" 10 to 25 "

" 25 to 50 "

" over 50 "

0.8

1.2

2.1

3.4

0.5

1.3

2

3.3

0.8

1.2

2

3.2

0.4

1

1.6

2.8

0.8

1

1.7

2.7

0.5

1

1.5

2.4

As regards the number of implements, the top group has 4 to 6 times more than the bottom one (the group with less than 5 dessiatines under crops is entirely disregarded by the author); as regards the number of working members in the families,[17] however, it has 3/12 times, i.e., less than twice, as many as the same group. This alone shows that the top group has to resort to the hire of labour, while in the bottom group half the households are without farm implements (N.B.—this “bottom” group is the third from below) and, consequently, are unable to carry on independent farming.

Naturally, the above-mentioned differences in the amount of land and implements held are the cause of differences in the amount of land under crops. The area under crops per household in the six groups has been given above. The total area cultivated by the peasants of Taurida Gubernia is distributed by groups as follows:

Cultivatin Dessiatines

under crops

%
up to 5 dess.

" 5 to 10 "

" 10 to 25 "

" 25 to 50 "

" over 50 "

34,070

140,426

540,093

494,095

230,583

2.4

9.7

37.6

34.3

16

12% of crop area

held by 40% of population

38% of crop area

held by 40% of population

50% of crop area

held by 20% of population

Total 1,439,267 100%

These figures speak for themselves. It should only be added that for a family to live by farming alone, Postnikov estimates (p. 272), a crop area of 16 to 18 dessiatines per household is required.

III[edit source]

In the previous chapter, data showing the property status of the different groups of peasants and the size of their farms were summarised. We must now sum up data indicating the character of the farming of the various groups of peasants and their methods and systems of farming.

Let us first dwell on Postnikov’s proposition that “the productivity of peasant labour and the working capacity of the family rise considerably with the increase in the size of the farm and the employment of machines” (p. X). The author demonstrates this proposition by calculating the number of workers and draught animals per given area under crops in the different economic groups. In so doing, however, it is impossible to use the data of family composition, as “the bottom economic groups release part of their working members for outside employment as farm labourers, while the top groups take labourers into employment” (p. 114). The Taurida Zemstvo statistics do not give the number of labourers hired or released for hire, and Postnikov estimates it approximately by taking the Zemstvo statistical data for the number of households which hired people and by calculating how many working people were needed for the given cultivated area. Postnikov admits that he can lay no claim to perfect accuracy for these estimates, but he believes that it is only in the two top groups that his calculations may considerably change the family composition, as the number of hired labourers in the other groups is small. By comparing the data on family composition given above with the following table the reader can test the correctness of this view:

In the three uyezds of Taurida Gubernia
Working personsAverage per household
HiredReleased for hiredDifference
Number in familyWorking persons[18]
(with hired labourers)
Cultivating up to 5 dess.

" 5 to 10 "

"10 to 25 "

"25 to 50 "

” over 50 "
239

247

465

2,846

6,041

8,241

1,077

1,484

4,292

3,389

- 838

-1,237

-3,827

- 543

+6,041

+8,241

4.3

4.8

5.2

6.8

8.9

13.3

0.9

1.0

1.0

1.6

2.4

5

Total18,07910,242+7,837

Comparing the last column with the data of family composition, we see that Postnikov has somewhat understated the number of workers in the bottom and overstated it in the top groups. As his purpose was to prove that the number of workers per given area under crops decreases as the size of the farm increases, his approximate estimates succeeded in minimising rather than exaggerating this decrease. Having made this preliminary calculation, Postnikov gives the following table showing the relation between the crop area and the number of working persons, draught animals, and then population generally for different groups of peasants (p. 117):

Per 100 dess. of crop area
Area under

crops per

pair of

draught

animals
HouseholdsPersonsWorkersNumber

of

draught

animals

(with hired

labourers)

Cultivating up to 5 dess.

” 5 to 10 “

"10 to 25 “

"25 to 50 “

” over 50 “
7.1 dess.

8.2 ”

10.2 ”

12.5 ”

14.5 ”
28.7

12.9

6.1

2.9

1.3
136

67

41.2

25.5

18
28.5

12.6

9.3

7

6.8
28.2

25

20

16.6

14
Average10.9 dess.5.436.6918.3

“Thus, with the increase in the size of the farm and in the area cultivated by the peasant, the expenditure on the maintenance of labour-power, human and animal, that prime item of expenditure in agriculture, progressively decreases, and among the groups that cultivate large areas, drops to nearly one-half per dessiatine under crops of what it is among the groups with small cultivated areas” (p,. 117).

The proposition that the maintenance of working persons and draught animals is the predominant item of expenditure in agriculture is confirmed by the author later when he cites the detailed budget of a Mennonite[19] farm: of the total expenditure, 24.3% is general expenditure on the farm; 23.6% is expenditure on draught animals and 52.1% on working persons

Postnikov attributes great importance to his conclusion that the productivity of labour increases with the increase in the size of the farm (as is shown from the above quotation, taken from his preface); and, indeed, one cannot but admit its importance—firstly, for a study of the economic life of our peasantry and the character of the farming of the various groups; and, secondly, in connection with the general question of the relation between small-scale and large-scale farming. This latter question has been greatly confused by many writers, the chief cause of the confusion being that comparison was made between dissimilar farms, existing in different social conditions and differing in the type of farming; for example, farms whose income was derived from the output of agricultural produce were compared with farms whose income was derived from exploiting other households’ need of land (e.g., peasant and landlord farms in the period immediately following the Reform of 1861).[20] Postnikov is entirely free of this error and does not forget the first rule of all comparisons, namely, that the things compared must be of a similar order.

The author gives a more detailed proof of his proposition in respect of the Taurida uyezds, and cites data, firstly, for each uyezd separately and, secondly, for the Russian population separately, or, rather, for its most numerous group, the former state peasants (pp. 273-74).

Dessiatines under crops per pair of draught animals
For the uyezds in generalIn the group of former state peasants
BerdyanskMelitopolDnieperBerdyanskMelitopolDnieper
Cultivating up to 5 dess.

” 5 to 10 “

"10 to 25 “

"25 to 50 “

” over 50 “
8.9

8.9

10.2

11.6

13.5
8.7

8.7

10.6

12.4

13.8
4.3

6.8

9.7

12.3

15.7

8.9

10.3

12.3

13.7

9.1

10.9

12.8

14.3

6.8

9.6

11.9

15
Average10.711.310.1

The conclusion reached is the same, that “on the small-scale farm the relative number of draught animals per given crop area is one and a half times or double the number on the ’full’ peasant farm. The same law is revealed by the house-to-house census in the case of all the other, smaller, groups—former landlords’ peasants, tenant farmers, etc.—and in all localities, even in the smallest, confined to one volost or even one village” (p. 274).

The relation between size of crop area and farm expenditure is also found to be unfavourable for the small farms in respect of another type of expenditure—the maintenance of implements and productive animals.

We have already seen how rapidly both these items increase per farm as we proceed from the bottom group to the top one. If we calculate the quantity of implements per given crop area, we find that it decreases from the bottom to the top group (p. 318):

Per 100 dessiatines of crop area
Productive

animals

Iron ploughs

and drill ploughs

Waggons
Cultivating up to 5 dess.

” 5 to 10 “

"10 to 25 “

"25 to 50 “

” over 50 “
42 head

28.8 "

24.9 "

23.7 "

25.8 "
4.7

5.9

6.5

4.8

3.8
10

9

7

5.7

4.3
For the three uyezds25.5 head5.46.5

“This table shows that as the crop area per household increases, the biggest implements (for cultivation and cartage) progressively decrease in number per given crop area, and, consequently, on the farms of the top groups the cost of maintaining cultivation and cartage implements should be relatively less per dessiatine. The group with up to 10 dessiatines per household under crops constitutes an exception: there are comparatively fewer farm implements than in the next group, with its 16 dessiatines per household under crops, but that is only because many of the peasants do not work with their own implements, but with hired ones, which does not, however, in any way reduce the expenditure on implements” (p. 318).

“Zemstvo statistics,” says Postnikov, “prove incontrovertibly that the larger the size of a peasant farm, the smaller the number of implements, workers and draught animals employed on a given cultivated area” (p. 162).

“In previous chapters,” says Postnikov further on, “it has been shown that in the Taurida uyezds this phenomenon occurs in all the groups of peasants and in all localities. It can be seen in peasant farming, as the Zemstvo statistics show, in other gubernias as well, where agriculture is also the main branch of peasant economy. This phenomenon, therefore, is widespread and assumes the form of a law, economically of great importance, for it robs small crop farming, to a considerable degree, of all economic sense” (p. 313).

This last remark of Postnikov’s is somewhat premature: to prove the inevitability of small farms being ousted by large ones, it is not enough to demonstrate the greater advantage of the latter (the lower price of the product); the predominance of money (more precisely, commodity) economy over natural economy must also be established; under natural economy, when the product is consumed by the producer himself and is not sent to the market, the cheap product does not encounter the more costly product on the market, and is therefore unable to oust it. But of that more anon.

To prove that the above-established law is applicable to all Russia, Postnikov takes those uyezds for which the Zemstvo statistics contain a detailed economic classification of the population, and calculates the cultivated area per pair of draught animals and per working person in the various groups. The conclusion is the same: “where the peasant farm is a small one the cultivated area has to bear a cost of maintaining labour-power one and a half times to twice as large as when the farm is of a more adequate size” (p. 316). This is true for both Perm (p. 314) and Voronezh gubernias, for both Saratov and Chernigov gubernias (p. 315), so that Postnikov has undoubtedly proved this law to be applicable to all Russia.

Let us now pass to the question of the “incomes and expenditures” (Chapter IX) of the different groups of peasant farms and of their relation to the market.

“The territory of every farm that is an independent unit,” says Postnikov, “consists of the following four parts: one part produces food for the sustenance of the working family and of the labourers who live on the farm; this, in the narrow sense, is the food area of the farm. Another part provides fodder for the cattle working on the farm, and may be called the fodder area. A third part consists of the farm yard, roads, ponds, etc., and of that part of the crop area that produces seed; it may be called the farm-service area, as it serves the needs of the whole farm without distinction. Lastly, the fourth part produces grain and plants destined, either raw or processed, for sale on the market; this is the market or commercial area of the farm. The division of the territory into these four parts is determined in each separate farm, not by the crops grown, but by the immediate purpose of their cultivation.

“The cash income of the farm is determined by the commercial part of its territory, and the larger the latter and the greater the relative value of the produce obtained from it, the greater the demand made by the farmers on the market and the larger the amount of labour the country can maintain outside of agriculture within the vicinity of its market; the greater, too, is the state (fiscal) and cultural importance of agriculture to the country, and the greater, too, are the net income of the cultivator himself and the resources at his disposal for farm expenses and for improvements” (p. 257).

This argument of Postnikov’s would be perfectly true, if one, fairly substantial, correction were made: the author speaks of the importance of the farm’s commercial area to the country in general, whereas this can obviously be said only of a country where money economy predominates, where the greater part of the produce assumes the form of commodities. To forget this condition, to consider it self-evident, and to omit a precise investigation of how far it is applicable to the given country, would be to fall into the error of vulgar political economy.

To single out the market area from the farm as a whole is very important. For the home market it is by no means the producer’s income in general (by which the level of his prosperity is determined) that is significant, but exclusively his income in cash. The producer’s possession of monetary resources is not determined by his degree of prosperity: the peasant who obtains from his plot of land sufficient produce to satisfy his own requirements fully, but who engages in natural economy, is well-off, but he possesses no monetary resources; on the other hand, the half-ruined peasant who obtains from his plot of land only a small part of the grain he needs and who secures the rest (although in a lesser amount and of poorer quality) by casual earnings, is not well-off, but possesses monetary resources. It is clear from this that no discussion on the importance to the market of peasant farms and the incomes they yield can be of any value if not based on a calculation of the cash part of the income.

In order to determine the size of these four parts of the crop area on the farms of the different groups of peasants, Postnikov first estimates the annual consumption of grain, taking the round figure of two chetverts[21] of grain per head (p. 259), which means two-thirds of a dessiatine per head out of the crop area. He then estimates the fodder area at one and a half dessiatines per horse, and the seed area at 6% of the total under crops, and arrives at the following results[22] :

100 dess. under drops consist ofCash income
Farm

service

FoodFodderCom-

mercial

Per dess.

under

crops
Per

house-

hold
areas
(rubles)
Cultivating up to 5 dess.

” 5 to 10 "

"10 to 25 "

"25 to 50 "

” over 50 "
6

6

6

6

6
90.7

44.7

27.5

17

12
42.3

37.5

30

25

21
-39

+11.8

36.5

52

61

3.77

11.68

16.64

19.52

30

191

574

1,500

“The difference indicated in the cash income of the various groups,” says Postnikov, “is sufficient to illustrate the importance of the size of the farms; but, actually, this difference between the incomes of the various groups from cropping should be even greater, for it must be assumed that the top groups obtain larger harvests per dessiatine and secure better prices for the grain they sell.

“In this record of income obtained, we have included the cultivated, and not the total area of the farm, for we have no precise data on the way in which the peasant farms of the Taurida uyezds make use of other farmland for various kinds of livestock; but inasmuch as the cash income of the South-Russian peasant, whose sole pursuit is cropping, is almost entirely determined by the crop area, the above figures fairly accurately depict the difference in the cash income from farming between the various groups of peasants. These figures show how markedly this income changes with the size of the area under crops. A family with 75 dessiatines under crops obtains a cash income of as much as 1,500 rubles a year; a family with 34 1/2 dessiatines under crops obtains 574 rubles a year, whereas one with 16 1/3 dessiatines under crops obtains only 191 rubles. A family which cultivates 8 dessiatines obtains only 30 rubles, a sum insufficient to cover the cash expenditure of the farm without outside earnings. Of course, the figures quoted do not show the net income of the farms; to obtain this we have to deduct the expenditure of the household on taxes, implements, buildings, the purchase of clothing, footwear, etc. But such expenditure does not increase proportionately as the size of the farm increases. Expenditure on maintaining the family increases in proportion to its size, and the latter, as the table shows, increases far more slowly than the crop area of the various groups. As to total farm expenditure (payment of land tax and rental, repair of buildings and implements), they, at any rate, do not increase more than proportionately to the size of farms, whereas the gross cash income from the farm, as the previous table shows, increases in more than direct proportion to the size of the crop area. What is more, all these expenses are very small compared with the main item of farm expenditure, the maintenance of labour-power. We are thus able to formulate the rule that, in peasant economy, the net proceeds per dessiatine from cropping grow progressively smaller as the size of the farm decreases” (p. 320).

We thus see from Postnikov’s figures that peasant farming in the different groups varies substantially with respect to the market: the top groups (with more than 25 dessiatines under crops per household) conduct what is already commercial farming; they grow grain for the income it provides. In the bottom groups, on the contrary, cropping does not cover the family’s essential needs (this applies to those who cultivate up to 10 dessiatines per household); if we make an exact calculation of all farm expenditure we shall most certainly find that in these groups the farm is run at a loss.

It is also very interesting to make use of data cited by Postnikov to settle the problem of the relationship between the splitting of the peasantry into different groups and the extent of the market demand. We know that the extent of this demand depends on the size of the commercial area and that the latter becomes greater as the size of the farm increases; but parallel to this increase in the size of the farm in the top groups there is a decrease in its size in the bottom groups. As to the number of farms, the bottom groups contain twice as many as the top: the former constitute 40% in the Taurida uyezds, the latter only 20%. Do we not get the result, in general, that the above-mentioned economic split decreases the extent of the market demand? Properly speaking, we are entitled to answer this question in the negative on purely a priori grounds: the fact is that in the bottom groups, the farm is so small that the family’s needs cannot be fully covered by agriculture; to avoid dying of starvation, the members of these bottom groups have to take their labour-power to the market, where its sale provides them with monetary resources and thus counterbalances (to some degree) the lesser demand due to the smaller size of the farms. But Postnikov’s data enable us to give a more precise answer to the problem raised.

Let us take some crop area, say, 1,600 dessiatines, and let us imagine it divided in two ways: firstly, among an economically homogeneous peasantry, and, secondly, among peasants split up into different groups such as we find in the Taurida uyezds today. In the first case, assuming that an average peasant farm has 16 dessiatines under crops (as is actually the case in the Taurida uyezds), we get 100 farms that fully cover their needs by agriculture. The demand made on the market will equal 191 x 100 = 19,100 rubles. Second case: the 1,600 dessiatines under crops are divided among the 100 households differently, exactly as the crop area is actually divided among the peasants of the Taurida uyezds: 8 households have no crop area at all; 12 cultivate 4 dessiatines each; 20—8 dessiatines each; 40—16 dessiatines each; 17—34 dessiatines each, and 3—75 dessiatines (a total of 1,583 dessiatines, i.e., even a little less than 1,600 dessiatines). With such a distribution, a very considerable section of the peasants (40%) will not be in a position to derive a sufficient return from their land to cover all their needs. The extent of the monetary demand made on the market, counting only the farms with over 5 dessiatines under crops per household, will be as follows: (20 x 30) + (40 x 191) + (17 x 574) + (3 x 1,500) = 21,350 rubles. We thus find that, despite the omission of 20 households [undoubtedly these also have a cash income, but it is not obtained from the sale of their produce], and despite the reduction of the crop area to 1,535 dessiatines, the total monetary demand on the market is higher.[23]

It has already been said that the peasants of the bottom economic groups are forced to sell their labour-power; the members of the top groups, on the contrary, have to buy it, for the workers in their own families are inadequate for the cultivation of their large crop areas. We must now dwell in greater detail on this important fact. Postnikov apparently does not class it under the “new economic developments in peasant life” (at least, he does not mention it in his preface, where he sums up the results of his work), but it is deserving of far more attention than the introduction of machines or the extension of cropping by the well-to-do peasants.

“The more affluent peasantry in the Taurida uyezds,” the author says, “generally employ hired labourers to a considerable extent and farm an area that far exceeds the working capacity of the families themselves. Thus, in the three uyezds the percentage of families in all categories of peasants employing hired labourers is as follows:

Cultivating no land

" up to 5 dess .

" 5 to 10 "

" 10 to 25 "

" 25 to 50 "

" over 50 "

3.8%

2.5

2.6

8.7

34.7

64.1

Average12.9%

“These figures show that it is mostly the well-to-do farmers with the larger cultivated areas that employ hired labourers” (p. 144).

Comparing the data already given on family composition by groups without hired labourers (for the three uyezds separately) and with hired labourers (for the three uyezds together), we find that by hiring labourers, farmers who sow from 25 to 50 dessiatines per household increase the number of hands on their farms by about one-third (from 1.8 or 1.9 working persons per family to 2.4), while farmers with over 50 dessiatines under crops per household almost double the number of their workers (from 2.3 to 5); even more than double according to the estimate of the author, who considers that they have to hire 8,241 workers (p. 115), while they have only 7,129 of their own. That the bottom groups have to release workers on the side in very large numbers is clear from the very fact that cropping cannot provide them with the amount of produce which they need for their own subsistence. Unfortunately, we have no precise data as to the number of persons released for outside work. An indirect indication of this number may be found in the number of householders who lease their allotments; above we have cited Postnikov’s statement to the effect that about one-third of the inhabitants of the Taurida uyezds do not exploit their allotment land to the full.

IV[edit source]

It can be seen from the data given above that Postnikov has fully proved his point on the “tremendous diversity” in the economic status of the various households. This diversity applies not only to the property status of the peasants and the size of the areas they cultivate, but even to the character of the farming in the different groups. That is still not all. It turns out that the terms “diversity” and “differentiation” are inadequate for a full description of the phenomenon. When one peasant owns one draught animal and another 10, we call that differentiation; but when one rents scores of dessiatines of land above the allotment that satisfies his needs, with the sole object of deriving profit from its exploitation, thus depriving another peasant of the opportunity of renting land which he requires in order to feed his family, we obviously are faced with something much bigger; we have to call that sort of thing “strife” p. 323), a “struggle of economic interests” (p. XXXII). Although he employs these terms, Postnikov does not fully appreciate their importance; nor does he see that the terms themselves are inadequate. To rent allotment land from the impoverished section of the population, and to hire as a labourer the peasant who has ceased to run his own farm is something more than mere strife—it is downright exploitation.

Recognising the profound economic strife among the peasantry of today, we can no longer restrict ourselves to just dividing the peasants into several strata according to the property they possess. Such a division would suffice if the diversity mentioned above amounted to mere quantitative differences. But that is not so. If, in the case of one section of the peasants, the aim of agriculture is commercial profit and the result is a large cash income, whereas in the case of another, agriculture cannot cover even the family’s essential needs; if the top peasant groups base their improved farming on the ruin of the bottom groups; if the prosperous peasantry employ hired labour on a considerable scale, while the poor are compelled to resort to the sale of their labour-power—these are undoubtedly qualitative differences, and our task must now be to classify the peasantry according to differences in the character of the farming itself (meaning by character of farming peculiarities not of a technical but of an economic order).

Postnikov has devoted too little attention to these latter differences. Therefore, while he recognises the need for a “more general division of the population into groups” (p. 110) and attempts to make such a division, this attempt, as we shall soon see, cannot be considered quite successful.

“To achieve a more general division of the population into economic groups,” says Postnikov, “we shall adopt a different criterion which, although not of uniform economic significance in all localities, is more in conformity with the division into groups made by the peasants themselves and that has also been noted in all uyezds by the Zemstvo statisticians. This division is made according to the degree of the farmers’ independence in the conduct of their farms, depending on the number of draught animals owned” (p. 110).

“At the present time the peasants of the South-Russian region may be divided, according to the degree of their economic independence and at the same time their methods of farming, into the three following main groups:

“1) Peasant households owning a full team of animals, i.e., with enough animals to work a plough or some other ploughing implement and who can cultivate their land with their own animals without having to hire or to yoke[24] with other peasants. When the implement used is a plough or a drill plough the peasant has two, three or more pairs of draught animals and, correspondingly, three or at least two adult workers and a part-time worker in the household.

“2) Peasants with insufficient animals, or yokers, i.e., peasants who yoke with one another for field work because their own animals do not suffice for independent harnessing. Such peasants have one or one and a half, in some cases even two pairs of draught animals and, correspondingly, one or two adult workers. Where the soil is heavy and a plough (or a drill plough) needs three pairs of draught animals the peasants invariably yoke with each other, even if they have two pairs of draught animals of their own.

“3) ’Footers,’ or householders who have no animals whatever or have one (more often than not a horse, as oxen are generally kept in pairs and harnessed only in pairs). They work by hiring animals from others, or let their land for a part of the harvest and have no cultivated land of their own.

“This classification of the peasants according to an economic criterion fundamental to peasant life, such as in the present instance the number of draught animals and the manner of harnessing them, is usually made by the peasants themselves. But there are considerable variations of it, both within the bounds of each separate group enumerated above, and in the division of the groups themselves” (p. 121).

These groups constitute the following percentages of the total number of households (p. 125):

IIIIII
Working

with own

animals
Working

on yoking

basis
Working

with hired

animals
With no

land under

crops
Berdyansk Uyezd

Melitopol "

Dnieper "
37

32.7

43
44.6

46.8

34.8
11.7

13

13.2
6.7

7.5

9

Side by side with this table, the author gives a classification of households according to the number of draught animals they own, in order to show how the animals are distributed in the uyezds described:

Percentage of total number of households
Draught animals (per household)
4 or more2 or 3onenone
Berdyansk Uyezd

Melitopol "

Dnieper "
36.2

34.4

44.3
41.6

44.7

36.6
7.2

5.3

5.1
15

15.6

14

Consequently, in the Taurida uyezds, a full team consists of no less than four draught animals.

This classification, as made by Postnikov, cannot be considered altogether happy, first of all because marked differences are to be observed within each of the three groups:

“In the group of householders owning a team of draught animals,” the author says, “there is considerable diversity evident in South Russia: side by side with the large numbers of animals of the well-to-do peasants there are the small teams of the poorer peasants. The former, in their turn, may be subdivided into those with full working teams (6 to 8 or more animals) and those with less than a full team (4 to 6 animals). . . . The category of ‘footer’ householders also presents considerable variety in degree of affluence” (p. 124).

Another inconvenience in the division adopted by Postnikov is, as we have already indicated, that the Zemstvo statistics do not classify the population according to the number of draught animals owned, but according to cultivated area. In order, therefore, to be able to express accurately the property status of the various groups, this classification according to cultivated area has to be used.

On this basis Postnikov also divides the population into three groups: householders who are small cultivators—with up to 10 dessiatines under crops, or none at all; middle cultivators—with 10 to 25 dessiatines; and large cultivators—with over 25 dessiatines per household under crops. The author calls the first group “poor,” the second middle, and the third well-to-do.

In respect of the size of these groups, Postnikov says:

“In general, among the Taurida peasants (excluding the colonists), the large cultivators constitute about one-sixth of the total number of households; those with medium-sized crop areas about 40%, while the households with small crop areas and those with none at all constitute a little over 40%. Taking the population of the Taurida uyezds as a whole (including the colonists), the large cultivators constitute one-fifth, or about 20%, the middle 40%, and the small cultivators and those with no tillage about 40%” (p. 112).

Hence, the composition of the groups is altered very slightly by the inclusion of the German colonists, so that no error will arise from using the general data for a whole uyezd.

We now have to describe as accurately as possible the economic status of each of these groups separately, and to try to ascertain the extent and causes of the economic strife among the peasantry.

Postnikov did not set himself this task; that is why the data he quotes are markedly very scattered and his general observations on the groups are not definite enough.

Let us begin with the bottom group, the poor peasants, to which two-fifths of the population of the Taurida uyezds belong.

The number of draught animals (the chief instrument of production in agriculture) owned by this group is the best indication of how poor they really are. In the three uyezds of Taurida Gubernia, out of a total of 263,589 draught animals, the bottom group possess (p. 117) 43,625, or 17% in all, which is 2 1/3 times less than the average. The data on the percentage of households possessing no draught animals were given above (80%, 48% and 12% for the three subdivisions of the bottom group). On the basis of these data, Postnikov arrived at the conclusion that “the percentage of householders who possess no animals of their own is considerable only in the groups with no land under crops or with crop areas of up to 10 dessiatines per household” (p. 135). The crop area of this group corresponds to the number of animals: on their own land they cultivate 146,114 dessiatines out of the total of 962,933 dessiatines (in the three uyezds), that is, 15%. The addition of rented land raises the sown area to 174,496 dessiatines; but since the sown area of the other groups also increases and does so to a larger extent than in the bottom group, the result is that the area cultivated by the bottom group constitutes only 12% of the total; in other words, there is only one-eighth of the cultivated area to more than three-eights of the population. If we remember that it is the medium-sized area cultivated by the Taurida peasant which the author regards as normal (i.e., covering all the family’s needs) we can easily see how this group, with a sown area 3 1/3 times less than the average, is deprived of its just share.

It is quite natural that, under these circumstances, the farming of this group is in a very bad way. We have already seen that 33% to 39% of the population in the Taurida uyezds—consequently, the overwhelming majority of the bottom group—have no ploughing implements whatever. Lack of implements compels the peasants to give up the land, to lease their allotments: Postnikov estimates that such lessors (whose farms are undoubtedly already utterly ruined) comprise about one-third of the population, that is, again a considerable majority of the poor group. Let us note in passing that this practice of “selling” allotments (to borrow the customary expression of the peasants) has been reflected in Zemstvo statistics everywhere, and on a very large scale. The periodicals which have drawn attention to this fact have already managed to invent a remedy for it—the inalienability of allotments. Postnikov quite rightly questions the effectiveness of such measures, which reveal in their authors a purely bureaucratic faith in the power of the decrees of the authorities. “There can be no doubt,” he says, “that merely to prohibit the leasing of land will not eliminate it when it is so deeply rooted in the present economic structure of peasant life. A peasant who has no implements and means with which to run his own farm is virtually unable to make use of his allotment and has to lease it to other peasants who are in a position to farm it. The direct prohibition of the leasing of land will force the peasant to do it surreptitiously, without control, and most likely on terms that are worse for the lessor than at present, since he is forced to lease his land. Furthermore, allotments will increasingly be leased through the village courts[25] in payment of taxation arrears, and such leasing is the least advantageous for the poor peasant” (p. 140).

Absolute economic decline is to be observed in the case of all the members of the poor group.

“At bottom,” says Postnikov, “there is no great difference in economic status between the householders who sow nothing and those who sow little, cultivating their land with hired animals. The former lease the whole of their land to their fellow villagers, the latter only part; but both groups either serve as labourers for their fellow villagers, or engage in outside employments, mostly agricultural, while continuing to live at home. Hence, both these categories of peasants—those who sow nothing and those who sow little—may be examined together ; both belong to the class of peasants who are losing their farms, who in most cases are ruined or on the verge of ruin, and are without the livestock and implements with which to work their farms” (p. 135).

“While the non-farming, non-cultivating households are in most cases those that are already ruined,” says Postnikov a little later on, “those that cultivate little, that lease their land, are candidates for membership of that category. Every severe harvest failure, or chance calamity such as fire, loss of horses, etc., drives some of the householders out of this group into the category of non-farming peasants and farm labourers. A householder who, from one cause or another, loses his draught animals, takes the first step along the road to ruin. Cultivating the land with hired animals is too casual and unsystematic, and usually leads to a reduction of cropping. Such a muzhik is refused credit by the village loan-and-savings societies and by his fellow villagers” [a footnote says: “In the Taurida uyezds there are very many loan-and-savings societies in the big villages, operating with funds borrowed from the State Bank; but it is only the rich and well-to-do householders who obtain loans from them”]; “ when he does get a loan, it is usually on worse terms than those obtained by the ’thriving’ peasants. ’How can you lend him anything if he has nothing to pay with?’ the peasants say. Once he gets involved in debt, the first stroke of ill luck robs him of his land too, especially if he is also in arrears with his taxes” (p. 139).

The extent of the decline of farming among the peasants of the poor group can best be seen from the fact that the author does not even attempt to answer the question of exactly how they run their farms. In the case of farms that cultivate less than 10 dessiatines per household, he says, “the conditions of farming are too fortuitous for it to be described by any definite system” (p. 278).

The characteristics of peasant farming in the bottom group that have been cited are, despite their considerable number, still quite inadequate; they are exclusively negative in character, although there surely must be positive characteristics. All we have heard so far is that the peasants of this group cannot be regarded as independent agriculturists, because their farms are in absolute decline, their cultivated area is far too inadequate and because, lastly, their farms are run haphazardly. “ Only the prosperous and well-to-do farmers, who are not in need of seed,” remark the statisticians in describing Bakhmut Uyezd, “can observe any sort of system in sowing crops; but the poor peasants sow whatever happens to be on hand, any where and anyhow” (p. 278). Nevertheless, the existence of all this mass of the peasantry embraced by the bottom group (in the three Taurida uyezds, over 30,000 households and over 200,000 persons of both sexes) cannot be accidental. If they do not live on the produce of their own farms, how do they live? Chiefly by the sale of their labour-power. We have seen above that Postnikov says of this group of peasants that they live by farm-labouring and other outside earnings. In view of the almost total absence of handicraft industries in the South, such earnings are mostly agricultural which means, in fact, that the peasants are hiring themselves for farm work. To prove in greater detail that the chief feature of the economy of the bottom group of peasants is the sale of their labour-power, let us proceed to examine this group according to the categories into which they are divided in the Zemstvo statistics. As to the non-farming householders, nothing need be said of them: they are farm labourers pure and simple. In the second category we have cultivators with crop areas of up to 5 dessiatines per household (the average is 3.5 dessiatines). The division of the cultivated area, given above, into farm-service, fodder, food and commercial, shows us that an area of this size is altogether inadequate. “The first group, with a cultivated area up to 5 dessiatines per household,” says Postnikov, “ have no market, or commercial, area at all; they can only exist with the help of outside earnings, obtained by working as farm labourers, or by other means” (p. 319). There remains the last category—the farmers with 5 to 10 dessiatines of cultivated land per household. The question is: what, among the peasants of this group, is the relation of independent farming to the so-called “earnings”? For a precise answer to this question, we should have several typical peasant budgets relating to the farmers of this group. Postnikov fully admits the need for and importance of budget data, but points out that the “collection of such data is extremely difficult, and in many cases simply beyond the power of the statisticians” (p. 107). We find it very difficult to agree to this view: Moscow statisticians have collected several extremely interesting and detailed budgets (see Statistical Returns for Moscow Gubernia. Section on Economic Statistics, Vols. VI and VII); in several uyezds of Voronezh Gubernia, as the author himself indicates, budget data have even been collected on a house-to-house basis.

It is a great pity that the budget material Postnikov himself gives is very inadequate: he cites the budgets of seven German colonists and of only one Russian peasant; moreover, all are those of big cultivators (the minimum—in the case of the Russian—is 39 1/2 dessiatines sown), that is, all belong to a group of whose economy one may obtain a clear enough idea from the facts contained in the Zemstvo statistics. Expressing his regret that he was “unable during his tour to gather a larger number of peasant budgets,” Postnikov says that “to give an exact appreciation of these budgets is, in general, no easy matter. The Tauridians are quite frank in giving economic information, but often enough they themselves do not know the exact figures of their income and expenditure. The peasants recall with greater accuracy the general amount of their expenditure, or the biggest items of income and expenditure, but small amounts almost invariably escape their memory” (p. 288). It would, however, be better to collect a few budgets, even without minor details, than, as the author has done, to collect “about 90 descriptions and an evaluation” of the economic situation, which is elucidated with sufficient clarity in the Zemstvo house-to-house censuses.

In the absence of budgets, only two kinds of data are at our disposal for determining the character of the economy of the group under review: firstly, Postnikov’s estimates of the cultivated area per household necessary to feed an average family; and, secondly, data on the division of the cultivated area into four parts, and on the average cash expenditure (per family per year) of the local peasants.

On the basis of detailed estimates of the cultivated area required for a family’s food, for seed and for fodder, Postnikov arrives at the following final conclusion:

“A peasant family of average size and well-being, living exclusively by farming and balancing its income and expenditure without deficit, needs, given average harvests, 4 dessiatines to feed 6 1/2 members of the family, 4 1/2 dessiatines to feed 3 draught horses, 1 1/2 dessiatines for seed supply, and 6 to 8 dessiatines for the production of grain for sale, or in all, 16 to 18 dessiatines under crops. . . . The average Tauridian has about 18 dessiatines under crops per household, but 40% of the population of the three Taurida uyezds have less than 10 dessiatines per household; and if they are nevertheless able to engage in farming, it is only because part of their income is derived from outside employments and by leasing part of their land. The economic position of this section of the population is abnormal and insecure, because in the majority of cases they are unable to accumulate the reserve to tide them over a difficult period” (p. 272).

As the average cultivated area per household in the group under review is 8 dessiatines, i.e., less than half the area required (17 dessiatines), we are entitled to conclude that the peasants of this group derive the greater part of their income from “employments,” i.e., from the sale of their labour.

Here is another calculation: according to Postnikov’s data, quoted above, on the division of the cultivated area, out of 8 dessiatines under crops, 0.48 dessiatines will go for seed; 3 dessiatines for fodder (in this group there are 2, not 3, draught animals per household); and 3.576 dessiatines for the food of the family (its size is also below the average—about 5 1/2 persons, not 6 1/2); so that less than one dessiatine (0.944) remains for the commercial area, the income from which the author estimates at 30 rubles. But the amount of a Tauridian’s essential cash expenditure is much greater. It is much easier to collect information on the amount of cash expenditure than on budgets, says the author, because the peasants themselves often make calculations of this sort. These calculations show that:

“In the case of a family of average size, i.e., consisting of the working husband, the wife and 4 young children or adolescents, if they farm their own land (roughly about 20 dessiatines) and do not resort to renting, the essential cash expenditure, as estimated by the Tauridians, amounts to between 200 and 250 rubles per annum. A cash expenditure of 150 to 180 rubles is considered to be the minimum that a small family must make, even if they stint themselves in everything. An annual income of less than this amount is considered quite inadequate, for in these parts a working man and his wife can, by farm-labouring, earn 120 rubles a year, with board and lodging, without incurring the expense of maintaining livestock, implements and so forth, and, in addition, can get ’extras’ from land leased to fellow villagers” (p. 289). As the group under examination is below the average, we take the minimum, not the average, cash expenditure, and the lowest figure of this minimum at that—150 rubles—which has to be derived from “employments.” According to this calculation, a peasant of the group under examination derives from his own farming a total of 117.5 rubles (30+87.5[26] ), and from the sale of his labour-power 120 rubles. Consequently, we again find that by independent farming the peasants of this group can only cover less than half of their minimum expenditure.[27]

Thus an examination of the character of the economy in all the subdivisions of the bottom group leads us to the unquestionable conclusion that although the majority of the peasants do cultivate small plots, the sale of their labour power is their principal source of livelihood. All the peasants of this group are hired labourers rather than independent farmers.

Postnikov did not raise this question of the character of the economy of the bottom group of peasants, and did not elucidate the relation of outside employments to the peasant’s own farming—and that is a big defect in his work. As a result, he does not adequately e plain the, at first glance, strange fact that although the peasants of the bottom group have too little land of their own, they abandon it, lease it; as a result the important fact, that the means of production (i. e., land and implements) possessed by the bottom group of peasants are quantitatively far below the average, is not linked up with the general character of their farming. Since the average quantity of means of production, as we have seen, is only just enough to satisfy the essential needs of the family, it necessarily and inevitably follows from this fact—the fact of the poor peasants being deprived of their fair share—that they must seek means of production belonging to others to which to apply their labour, i.e., they must sell themselves.

Let us now pass to the second group—the middle one, also embracing 40% of the population. Under this category come farmers with a cultivated area of from 10 to 25 dessiatines per household. The term “middle” is fully applicable to the members of this group, with the reservation, however, that their means of production are somewhat (slightly) below the average: the cultivated area per household is 16.4 dessiatines, as against the average of 17 dessiatines for all peasants; livestock—7.3 head per household, as against an average of 7.6 (draught animals—3.2, as against an average of 3.1); total tillage per household—17 to 18 dessiatines (allotment, purchased, and rented), as against an average of 20 to 21 dessiatines for the uyezds. A comparison of the number of dessiatines under crops per household with the norm given by Postnikov, shows that the farming of their own land by this group yields them only just enough for their subsistence.

All these facts, it would seem, should lead us to think that the farming of this group of peasants is the most stable: the peasant covers all his expenses by it; he works not for profit but only to satisfy primary needs. As a matter of fact, however, we see the very opposite: the farming of this group of peasants is distinguished by its very considerable instability.

Firstly, an average cultivated area of 16 dessiatines is shown to be adequate. Consequently, peasants with 10 to 16 dessiatines under crops do not cover all their expenses by farming and are also obliged to resort to outside employments. From Postnikov’s approximate estimates quoted above, we see that this group hires 2,846 workers, whereas it releases 3,389, or 543 more. Hence, about half the farms in the group are not fully provided for.

Further, in this group the number of draught animals per household is 3.2, whereas, as we have seen, the number needed for a team is four. Consequently, a large number of the households in this group have insufficient animals of their own with which to cultivate their land, and have to resort to yoking. The yokers in this group likewise constitute no less than one-half of the total: we may draw this conclusion from the fact that the proportion of households owning working teams is about 40%, of which 20% go to the prosperous upper group, the remaining 20% belonging to the middle group, so that no less than half of the middle group do not own a working team. Postnikov does not give the exact number of yokers in this group. Turning to the Zemstvo statistical abstracts we find the following data (for two uyezds):[28]

Total in group

cultivating 10

to 25 dess.
Distribution of the number of dessiatines cultivated
With own animalsBy yokingWith hired animalsBy other means
HseholdsDess.HseholdsDess.HseholdsDess.HseholdsDess.HseholdsDess.
Melitopol Uyezd

Dnieper Uyezd

13,789
8,234
226,389.21
137,343.75
4,218
4,029
79,726.55
71,125.2
9,201
3,835
141,483.26
61,159.05
321
320
4,405.8
4,352.5
49+
50
773.3
707.25

Thus, in the middle group of the two uyezds, a minority of the households cultivate their land with their own animals: in Melitopol Uyezd less than one-third of the households; in Dnieper Uyezd less than one-half. Hence, the number of yokers estimated above for all the three uyezds (one-half) is, if anything, too low and certainly not exaggerated. Of course, the peasant’s inability to farm with animals of his own is in itself sufficiently indicative of the instability of his farm; but, as an illustration, let us quote the description of the yoking system given by Postnikov, who, unfortunately, pays too little attention to this phenomenon, interesting as it is economically and from the standpoint of life and customs.

“Among the peasants who work on a yoking basis,” says Postnikov, “the standard working area is lower [than among the peasants who work with their own animals] by virtue of the law of mechanics which says that three horses harnessed together do not pull three times as much as one horse. Those who arrange to yoke may live at different ends of the village (they are usually relatives); furthermore, the number of plots belonging to the two householders (sometimes three householders yoke) is twice that of one. All this increases the time spent on travelling from one section to another.” [A footnote says: “When the land is divided, each household receives for its members an unbroken patch in a particular field; hence small families receive smaller patches. The conditions of yoking in Taurida Gubernia vary considerably. If one of the yokers has a drill plough, he gets an extra dessiatine ploughed—e.g., one gets 10 dessiatines, the other 11—or the one who has no drill plough of his own has to bear all the expenses of repairing it while in use. Similarly, when the number of yoked animals is unequal, one gets an extra day’s ploughing done, etc. In the village of Kamenka, the owner of a drill plough receives from three to six rubles in cash for the spring. Quarrels among the yokers are generally very frequent.”] “Some time is also spent in coming to terms, and it may happen that the yokers fall out before the work is finished. The yokers sometimes do not have enough horses for harrowing, in which case the drill plough horses are unharnessed: some go off for water, while the others harrow. In the village of Yuzkui, I was told that yokers often plough no more than one dessiatine a day, which is half the normal rate” (p. 233).

There is a shortage of implements in addition to the shortage of animals. From the table given above, showing the number of implements per household in the various groups, we see that in the middle group, in all the uyezds, there is not less than one ploughing implement per household. Actually, however, the distribution of implements even within the group is by no means uniform. Unfortunately, Postnikov does not give any data on this subject, and we have to turn to the Zemstvo statistical abstracts. In Dnieper Uyezd, 1,808 households out of 8,227 have no ploughing implements at all; in Melitopol Uyezd 2,954 out of 13,789 in the former uyezd the ill-provided households constitute 21.9% of the total; in the latter 21.4%. There can be no doubt that the householders who have no ploughing implements approximate the bottom group in economic status, where those who have more than one such implement per household approximate the top group. The number of householders who have no ploughs is even higher: 32.5% in Dnieper Uyezd and 65.5% in Melitopol. Lastly, the peasants of this group own an insignificant number of reaping machines (they are of very great importance in South-Russian peasant farming because of the shortage of workers for hand reaping and the long-tract system,[29] which drags out grain removal for months): in Dnieper Uyezd the whole group owns 20 mowing and reaping machines (one per 400 households); in Melitopol Uyezd, 178 1/2 (one per 700 households).

The general system of peasant farming in this group is described by Postnikov as follows:

“Householders having less than four draught animals invariably yoke together for the cultivation of their fields and for sowing. The householders of this category have either two working members or only one. The lower relative working capacity of such farmers is due to the smaller size of the farms, the yoking system, and the shortage of implements. The yokers mostly plough with small, three-share drill ploughs, which work more slowly. If such peasants harvest their grain with machines hired from neighbours, they get them only after the latter have cut their own crops. Harvesting by hand takes longer, in some cases necessitates the hiring of day labourers, and is more expensive. For single-handed peasants any urgent household matter, or the performance of public duties, interrupts the work. If the single-handed peasant goes to work in a distant field, where the peasants usually spend the whole week until the ploughing and sowing are completed, he has to return to the village more often to see how the family at home is faring” (p. 278). Such single-handed peasants (one working member in the family) constitute the majority in the group under examination, as will be seen from the following table given by Postnikov and showing the number of working members in the families in the different crop-sowing groups in all the three uyezds of Taurida Gubernia (p. 143):

Per 100 households
With no

male

workers
With 1

worker

With 2

workers

With 3

or more

workers
Cultivating no land

" up to 5 dess.

" 5 to 10 "

" 10 to 25 "

" 25 to 50 "

" over 50 "

19

9

4.2

1.7

1.2

0.9

67

77.6

74.8

59

40

25

11

11.7

17.7

29

35.7

34.3

3

1.7

3.3

10.3

23.1

39.8

Average4.360.624.610.5

It will be seen from this table that three-fifths of the families in the middle group have one working member each or none at all.[30] To illustrate the relation of the middle to the top group, and the stability of its farms in general, let us quote data from Statistical Returns for Dnieper Uyezd showing how all the land at the peasants’ disposal, and the cultivated area[31] in particular, is distributed among the groups. We get the following table:[32]

Peasant

Groups

% of

total

hhlds
Allotment landPurchased landRented landLeased

land

Total land in

use by group

Sown area
Dess.%Dess.%Dess.%Dess.%Dess.%
Poor
Middle
Prosperous
39.9
41.7
18.4
56,444.95
102,793.7
61,844.25
25.5
46.5
28
2,003.25
5,376
26,530.75
6
16
78
7,838.75
48,397.75
81,645.95
6
35
59
21,551.25
8,311
3,039.25
44,735.7
148,256.45
166,981.7
12.4
41.2
46.4
38,439.25
137,343.75
150,614.45
11
43
46
Total100221,082.910033,910100137,882.4510032,901.5359,973.85100326,397.45100

This table shows that the middle group held more allotment arable than the others: 46.5% of the total. The peasants were forced by the inadequacy of their allotments to resort to renting, as a result of which the area cultivated by them increased all in all by more than 50%. The amount of land in the hands of the middle group also increased absolutely, but decreased relatively—to 41.2% of the total area and 43% of the cultivated area; first place was occupied by the top group Hence, not only the bottom group, but the middle one, too, feels the direct pressure of the top group, which deprives them of the land.

All that has been said entitles us to describe the economic status of the middle group as follows. It comprises peasants who live exclusively on the returns from the land they cultivate themselves; the area of the latter is almost equal to the average area cultivated by the local peasantry (or somewhat less) and barely covers the family’s essential needs. But the insufficiency of animals and implements, and their uneven distribution, render the farming of this group of peasants unstable, precarious, especially in view of the menacing tendency of the top group to squeeze out the bottom and middle groups.

Let us now turn to this top group, which comprises the affluent peasantry. In the Taurida uyezds it embraces one-fifth of the population, with a cultivated area of over 25 dessiatines per household. Sufficient facts have already been cited to show the extent to which this group is really richer than the others in draught animals, implements, and allotment and other land. To show how much better off the peasants of this group are than the middle peasants, we shall cite only the following data of crop areas: in Dnieper Uyezd, the well-to-do group have 41.3 dessiatines under crops per household, whereas the average for the uyezd is 17.8 dessiatines, or less than half as much. Generally speaking, this aspect of the matter—the greater prosperity of the big cultivators—has been sufficiently brought out by Postnikov, but he pays practically no attention to another and far more important question: what part is played by this group’s farming in the total agricultural production of the region, and what price is paid by the other groups for the thriving condition of the top group.

The fact of the matter is that this group is numerically very small—in the most prosperous region of the South, Taurida Gubernia, it constitutes only 20% of the population. It might therefore be thought that its relative importance to the locality’s general economy is not great.[33] Actually, however, we find the contrary to be true: this well-to-do minority plays a predominant part in the total output of agricultural produce. In the three Taurida uyezds, out of a total of 1,439,267 dessiatines under crops 724,678 dessiatines, or more than half, are in the hands of the well to-do peasants. These figures, of course, are a far from accurate expression of the predominance of the top group, inasmuch as the well-to-do peasants’ harvests are much larger than those of the poor and the middle peasants, who, as shown in Postnikov’s description quoted above, do not run their farms on proper lines.

Thus, the principal grain producers are the top group of peasants, and hence (a fact of the utmost importance, and one particularly often ignored) all the various descriptions of agriculture and talk about agricultural improvements and so on, relate primarily and mostly (sometimes even exclusively) to the prosperous minority. Let us take, for example, the data relating to the distribution of improved implements.

Postnikov speaks of the Taurida peasant’s implements as follows:

“With few exceptions, the implements of the peasant are the same as those of the German colonist, but less varied, sometimes of poorer quality, and therefore cheaper. An exception is the south-western, less densely populated part of Dnieper Uyezd, where the primitive Little-Russian implements, the heavy wooden plough and wooden iron tipped drill plough, are still in vogue. In the rest of the Taurida uyezds, the ploughs used by the peasants are everywhere of an improved type, made of iron. Side by side with the iron plough the drill plough is everywhere of primary importance in the cultivation of the soil and in many cases is the only ploughing implement used by the peasants. But most frequently the drill plough is used side by side with the iron plough. . . . The harrows everywhere are of wood, with iron teeth, and are of two types: two-horse harrows, with a 10-foot stretch, and one-horse harrows, with a stretch of about 7 feet. . . . The drill plough is an implement with 3, 4 or 5 shares. . . . Very often a small seed-drill is attached to the front of the drill plough and is operated by its wheel. It plants the seed while the drill plough fills in the drills. Of the other implements used by the peasants in cultivating the soil we meet, although not often, with the wooden roller, used to roll the soil after sowing. Reaping-machines have spread among the peasants particularly in the last 10 years. In the more prosperous villages, the peasants relate, almost half the households possess them. . . . Mowing-machines are far more rarely met with among the peasants than reapers. . . . Horse rakes and threshers are equally rare. The use of winnowing-machines is universal. . . . For carting purposes, the German farm waggon and mazhara[34] are used exclusively; they are now built in many of the Russian villages. . . . Stone toothed rollers of various sizes are universally used for threshing” (pp. 213-15).

To learn how these implements are distributed, we have to turn to the Zemstvo statistical abstracts, although their data are not complete either: the Taurida statisticians registered only ploughs and drill ploughs, reapers and mowers, and vehicles (waggons and mazharas). If we combine the data for Melitopol and Dnieper uyezds we shall find that of the total number (46,522) of ploughs and cultivators the top group owns 19,987, or 42.9%; waggons, 23,747 out of 59,478, or 39.9%; and, finally, reapers and mowers, 2,841 out of 3,061, or 92.8%.

Data have already been cited to show that labour productivity in the top groups of the peasantry is considerably higher than in the bottom and middle groups. Let us now see what peculiarities of technique determine this specific feature of the economy of the big cultivators.

“The amount of land held and used by the peasants,” says Postnikov, “largely determines the system and character of farming. Unfortunately, the dependence of one on the other has so far been little studied by our investigators of peasant farming, who not infrequently conceive it to be of the same type among all sections of the rural population. Leaving aside the system of farming, I shall endeavour briefly to summarise the peculiarities in the farming technique of different peasant groups insofar as I have been able to ascertain them during my visits to the Taurida uyezds.

“Householders who work with their own animals and do not resort to yoking, own four, five, six or more draught animals.[35] Their economic status, however, varies considerably. A four-share drill plough requires a team of four animals, a five-share implement a team of five animals. Ploughing is followed by harrowing, and if the farmer has no extra horse, he cannot harrow immediately behind the plough, but only when the ploughing is finished, that is, the seed is covered when the soil is already slightly dry, a circumstance that does not favour germination. If the ploughing is done at a distance from the village, necessitating the carting of water and fodder, the absence of an extra horse also interrupts the work. In all such cases, the lack of a full complement of working animals leads to loss of time and delays the sowing. Given a larger number of draught animals and a multi-share drill plough, the peasants are able to plant their fields more quickly, to make the most of favourable weather, and to cover the seed with moister soil. Thus it is the “ full” farmer, the one with six, or, better still, seven draught animals, that has the advantage in the technique of spring sowing. With seven horses, a five-share drill plough and two harrows can function simultaneously. Such a farmer, the peasants say, ’carries on without a stop.’

“Even more important is the difference in the status of the farmers in the period immediately following the reaping, when in a good harvest year the utmost exertion of labour power is demanded on the farm. A farmer with six draught animals can thresh the grain as it is carted and does not need to stack it, thus, of course, saving time and manpower” (p. 277).

To complete the description of the big cultivator’s economy, it should be mentioned that farming in the case of this group of cultivators is a “commercial” enterprise, as Postnikov puts it. The data given above showing the size of the commercial area fully bear out the author’s description, inasmuch as the greater part of the cultivated area yields produce for the market—52% Or the total area on farms with from 25 to 50 dessiatines under crops, and 61% on farms with over 50 dessiatines under crops. Further evidence of this is the amount of the cash income: even the minimum in the case of the well-to-do group—574 rubles per household—is more than double the essential cash expenditure (200 to 250 rubles), thus forming a surplus which is accumulated and serves for the farm’s expansion and improvement. “In the case of the more affluent peasants, those with over 50 dessiatines under crops per household,” even “one branch of animal husbandry—the breeding of coarse-fleece sheep—assumes a market character,” as Postnikov informs us (p. 188).

Let us now pass to another question, one that is also inadequately treated (in fact, left practically untouched) by Postnikov: how does the economic success of the minority of the peasants affect the majority? Undoubtedly, the effect is completely negative: the data cited above (especially those relating to the renting of land) are sufficient proof of this, so that we may here confine ourselves merely to summing up. In all three uyezds of Taurida Gubernia, the peasants rent a total of 476,334 dessiatines of land (non-allotment and allotment), of which 298,727 dessiatines, or more than three-fifths (63%), are taken by the prosperous group. Only 6% falls to the share of the poor group, and 31% to that of the middle group. If we bear in mind that it is the two bottom groups that are most–if not exclusively–in need of rented land (the data given above regarding the distribution of land among the peasant groups in Dnieper Uyezd show that in the case of the top group the allotment arable alone is almost sufficient for a sown area of “normal” size), it will be obvious how severely they must suffer from lack of land due to the commercial expansion of the tillage of prosperous peasants.[36]

The distribution of the renting of allotment land, data for which have been given above, leads to exactly the same conclusions. To show the importance of the renting of allotment land to the different groups of peasants, let us quote the description of this type of renting given in Chapter IV of Postnikov’s work.

“Allotment land,” he says, “is now an object of extensive speculation among the South-Russian peasants. Land is used as security for loans on promissory notes, these latter circulating very widely here among the Taurida peasants, the proceeds from the land going to the money-lender until the debt is cleared. The land is leased or ’sold’ for one or two years, and longer periods—8, 9 or 11 years. Such allotment leases are officially registered in the volost or village administration offices. On Sundays and holidays, I have seen large animated crowds in big villages standing in front of the village administration offices. In answer to my inquiry as to why the people were assembled, I was told that refreshments were being consumed and allotments ’sold,’ the ’sales’ being registered in the books of the village authorities. . . . The ’sale’ of allotments is practised both in villages where the land is divided according to the number of registered persons in each family and no fundamental redistribution of the land takes place, and in villages where the land is divided according to the number of actual members in each family and is subject to periodical redistribution; only, in the latter case, the transactions are usually for shorter periods, until the next redistribution date, which in these parts has recently in most cases been determined in advance by the community’s decision on land redistribution. Nowadays, these allotment-land transactions in the South-Russian villages are bound up with the most vital interests of the local prosperous peasants, who are so numerous here, especially in the Taurida uyezds. They are, incidentally, one of the principal conditions for the extensive cultivation of land practised by prosperous Taurida peasants, and of considerable economic advantage to them. That is why the prosperous peasants are so sensitive nowadays to every change in their manner of life which might deprive them of this renting of land that is mostly cheap and is, moreover, situated near by” (p. 140). He then goes on to tell of how the Melitopol Uyezd Board of Peasants’ Affairs[37] demanded that each separate case of allotment leasing should be sanctioned by the village assembly, how the peasants were inconvenienced by this order and how “its only effect so far has been the disappearance of the land transaction records from the village courts, although they are probably still being kept unofficially” (p. 140).

Despite the large amount of land they rent, the prosperous peasants are also practically the only purchasers of land: in Dnieper Uyezd they own 78% of all the purchased land, and in Melitopol Uyezd 42,737 dessiatines out of a total of 48,099 dessiatines, or 88%.

Lastly, it is exclusively this category of peasants to whom credits are available. To supplement the author’s remarks already cited on the village loan-and-savings societies in the South, we shall quote the following description of them.

“The village loan-and-savings societies now to be found here and there in our country—they are very numerous in the Taurida villages, for example—chiefly assist prosperous peasants, and, it is to be presumed, quite substantially. I have on several occasions heard peasants in the Taurida villages where these societies function saying: ’Thank God, we’ve got rid of the Jews!’ But it is the prosperous peasants who say this. The economically weak peasants cannot find guarantors and do not get loans” (p. 368). There is nothing surprising in this monopoly of credit: the credit transaction is nothing more than deferred-payment purchase. Quite naturally, payment can only be made by those who have the means, and among the South-Russian peasants it is only the well-to-do minority that have them.

To complete the description of the economy of this group, which surpasses all the other groups taken together in the fruits of its productive activity, we have only to recall that it resorts “to a considerable extent” to hired labour, of which members of the lower group are perforce the suppliers. It should be remarked in this regard that it is a matter of immense difficulty to calculate exactly the hired labour employed in agriculture, a difficulty which, it seems, has not yet been overcome by our Zemstvo statistics. As agriculture does not require a constant and steady supply of labour all year round, but only an extra supply for a definite season, the registration of regular hired labourers alone will by no means indicate the degree of exploitation of hired labour, while the calculation of the number of seasonal (often casual) labourers is extremely difficult. In making a rough estimate of the number of hired labourers in each group, Postnikov sets the labour norm in the prosperous group at 15 dessiatines under crops per working member.[38] From Chapter VII of his book, where the author examines in detail the actual size of the area cultivated, we learn that this norm is achieved only when the crop is machine harvested. Yet the number of harvesting-machines is not very large even in the prosperous group—in Dnieper Uyezd, for example, it is about one per 10 households—so that even if we bear in mind the author’s statement that when they have completed their own harvesting, the owners of the machines hire them out, we shall nevertheless find that the majority of the peasants have to go without machines, and, consequently, have to hire day labourers. The employment of hired labour in the top group must therefore be on a larger scale than the author estimates, so that the big money income obtained by the peasants of this group largely (if not entirely) represents income from capital, in the specific meaning of that term given to it by scientific political economy.

Summing up what has been said about the third group, we arrive at the following description of it: the prosperous peasants, who possess considerably more than the average quantity of means of production, and whose labour, as a consequence, is more productive, are the principal growers of agricultural produce in the district, and predominate over the remaining groups; this group’s farming is commercial in character, and is very largely based on the exploitation of hired labour.

The brief survey we have made of the political-economic differences in the economy of the three groups of the population of this area has been based on a systematisation of the material contained in Postnikov’s book on South-Russian peasant farming. This survey, it seems to me, proves that a study of peasant farming (from the political-economic standpoint) is quite impossible unless the peasants are divided into groups. Postnikov, as has already been indicated, recognises this, and even flings the reproach at the Zemstvo statisticians that they do not do this, that the summaries they make, despite the abundance of figures given, are “unclear,” and that “they do not see the wood for the trees” (p. XII). Postnikov is hardly entitled to cast this reproach at the Zemstvo statisticians, for he himself has not made a systematic division of the peasants into “clear” groups, but the correctness of his demand is beyond question. Once it is admitted that there are not only quantitative, but also qualitative[39] differences between the various farms, it becomes absolutely essential to divide the peasants into groups differing, not in “affluence,” but in the social and economic character of their farming. One is justified in hoping that it will not be long before this is done by the Zemstvo statisticians.

V[edit source]

Not confining himself to recording the economic strife among the peasantry, Postnikov points to the intensification of this process:

“Diversity in the prosperity of the peasant groups is to be found everywhere in this country,” he says, “and has existed from time immemorial. But in the last few decades this differentiation among the peasant population is becoming very marked, and is apparently steadily progressing” (p. 130). The difficult economic conditions of the year 1891[40] should, in the opinion of the author, give new impetus to this process.

The question arises: what are the causes of this phenomenon which is exerting such an immense influence on the entire peasant population?

“Taurida Gubernia,” says Postnikov, “is one of the most land-abundant in European Russia, and the one where the peasants’ allotments are largest; communal landownership is universal there, and the land is distributed more or less evenly per head; agriculture is practically the sole pursuit of the rural population, yet the house-to-house census shows that 15% of the population have no draught animals at all, and that about one-third of the population have not enough implements to cultivate their allotments” (p. 106). “On what,” asks the author, “does this wide diversity of the groups depend, and, in particular, what, in a purely agricultural economy, determines the high proportion of householders with no tillage or draught animals that we now find in the region described?” (P. 130.)

Setting out in search of the causes of this phenomenon, Postnikov goes completely astray (fortunately, not for long) and starts to talk about “indolence,” “ drunkenness,” and even about fires and horse-stealing. Nevertheless, he arrives at the conclusion that it is not in these causes that “the most essential aspect of the matter is to be found.” Nor is anything explained by talking about bereavement in families, i.e., absence of adult working members: in the Taurida uyezds, of the total number of non-farming households, i.e., that have no land under crops, bereaved families constitute only 18%.

“The chief reasons why households are non-farming,” the author concludes, “must be sought in other factors of the peasants’ economic life” (p. 134). Specifically, Postnikov is of the opinion that “of the enumerated causes contributing to the decline of farming among certain peasants, the one which may be considered the most fundamental, and which, unfortunately, our Zemstvo statisticians have done little to elucidate as yet, is the fragmentation of the allotments and the restricted amount of land in use by the peasant, the diminution in the average size of the peasant farm” (p. 141). “The root cause of Russia’s economic poverty,” the author says, “is the small size of the peasant’s land and of his farm, which prevents him from making full use of the labour-power of his family” (p. 341).

To explain this proposition, which Postnikov expresses very inaccurately, for he himself has established that the average size of peasant farm (17 to 18 dessiatines under crops) is sufficient to maintain a family in comfort, and that a general, wholesale description of the entire peasantry in terms of the size of the farm is impossible—it should be recalled that he has already established the general law that the productivity of peasant labour grows with the increase in the size of the farm. Full utilisation of the family’s labour-power (and draught animals)-is achieved, according to his estimates, only in the top groups—in the Taurida uyezds, for example, only among the prosperous peasants; the vast majority of the population “pick at the land unproductively” (p. 340), uselessly wasting a vast amount of effort.

Despite the fact that the author has fully demonstrated the dependence of labour productivity on the size of the farm and the extremely low productivity in the bottom peasant groups, this law (Postnikov calls it agricultural over-population in Russia, agricultural over-saturation with labour) should not be regarded as the cause of the break-up of the peasantry—the question, after all, is why the peasantry have broken up into such different groups, whereas agricultural over-population already presupposes the existence of such a break-up; the author arrived at the very concept of over-population by comparing small and large farms and their profitability. Hence, the question—"on what does the wide diversity of the groups depend?"—cannot be answered by talking about agricultural over-population. This, apparently, Postnikov himself realised, but he did not set himself the definite aim of investigating the causes of the phenomenon, so that his observations suffer from a certain scrappiness: side by side with incomplete and inaccurate points, we find true ideas. For example, he says:

“It cannot be expected that the fierce struggle now going on in rural life over landownership will help in the future to further the principles of communality and harmony among the population. And this struggle is not a transitory one, the result of chance causes. . . . In our view it is not a struggle between communal traditions and the individualism that is developing in rural life, but a pure struggle of economic interests, which is bound to end fatally for one section of the population in view of the existing land poverty” (p. XXXII).

“It is quite an obvious truth,” says Postnikov elsewhere, “that with this land poverty and the small size of the farms, and the absence of sufficient industries, there can be no prosperity among the peasantry, and all that is economically weak is bound, one way or another, sooner or later, to be ousted from peasant farming” (p. 368).

These remarks contain a much truer answer to the question, and one, moreover, that fully conforms to the above established differentiation of the population. The answer is that the appearance of a mass of non-farming households and the increase in their numbers, are determined by the struggle of economic interests among the peasantry. On what basis is this struggle being waged, and by what means? As to the means, they are not only, and not even so much, the grabbing of land (as might be concluded from Postnikov’s remarks just quoted), as the lower production costs following on the increase in the size of the farms—of which enough has already been said. As for the basis on which this struggle arises, Postnikov points to it quite clearly in the following remark:

“There is a definite minimum of farm-service area below which a peasant farm must not drop, because it would then become unprofitable, or even impossible to run. A definite food area is required for the maintenance of family and livestock (?); a farm which has no outside earnings, or where they are small, must possess a certain market area, the produce of which may be sold to provide the peasant family with money for the payment of taxes, for the acquisition of clothing and footwear, for necessary expenditure on farm implements, buildings, etc. If the size of a peasant farm falls below this minimum, farming becomes impossible. In such cases, the peasant will find it more profitable to give up farming and become a labourer, whose expenditure is more limited and whose needs can be more fully satisfied even with a smaller gross income” (p. 141).

If, on the one hand, a peasant finds it profitable to expand his sown area far beyond his own grain requirements, it is because he can sell his produce. If, on the other hand, a peasant finds it profitable to give up farming and become a labourer, it is because the satisfaction of the greater part of his needs entails cash expenditure, that is, sale;[41] and as, in selling his farm produce, he encounters a rival on the market with whom he cannot compete, the only thing left for him is to sell his labour-power. In a word, the soil in which the above-described phenomena grow is production for sale. The fundamental cause of the struggle of economic interests arising among the peasantry is the existence of a system under which the market is the regulator of social production.

Having concluded his description of the “new economic developments in peasant life” and his attempt to explain them, Postnikov goes on to outline practical measures to solve the “agrarian problem.” We shall not follow the author into this field, firstly, because it does not enter the plan of the present article, and, secondly, because this part of Postnikov’s work is the weakest of all. This will be quite obvious if we recall that most of the contradictions and incomplete statements in the work were to be met with precisely when the author tried to explain economic processes; and unless these are fully and accurately explained, there can be no question of indicating any practical measures.

  1. Administrative divisions : the biggest territorial division in tsarist Russia was the gubernia (literally—governor’s province); each gubernia had its capital city which was the seat of the governor. The gubernia was divided in uyezds (counties), each with its administrative centre and these, in turn, were divided into volosts (rural districts) containing a number of villages. —Ed. Eng. ed.
  2. Zemstvos—local self-governmnt bodies, in which the nobility dominated. The Zemstvos were established in 1894 in the central gubernias of tsarist Russia, their competence being confined to purely local economic affairs (hospital and road building, statistics, insurance, etc.). They functioned under the control of the Gubernia Governors and the Minister of Home Affairs, who could invalidate decisions undesirable to the government.
  3. The author was an official in the Government Land Department of Taurida Gubernia. —Lenin
  4. Reference is made to the collection entitled Results of the Economic Investigation of Russia According to Zemstvo Statistical Data, of which Vol. I is: V. V.—The Peasant Community ; Vol. II: N. Karyshev—Peasant Rentings of Non-Allotment Land, Dorpat, 1892. Both the books expressed liberal-Narodnik views. V. V. was the pseudonym of V. P. Vorontsov, an ideologist of liberal Narodism of the 1880s and 1890s.
  5. It seems to me that such an exposition is worth while inasmuch as Mr. Postnikov’s book, one of the most outstanding in our economic literature of recent years, has passed almost unnoticed. This may partly be explained by the fact that although the author recognises the great importance of economic problems, he treats them too fragmentarily and encumbers his exposition with details relating to other problems. —Lenin
  6. Individual land tenure prevails in only 5 villages. —Lenin
  7. Mir—a peasant community. See at the end of the book.—Ed. Eng. Ed
  8. The village community (obshchina or mir ) in Russia was the communal form of peasant use of the land, characterised by compulsory crop rotation, and undivided woods and pastures. Its principal features were collective responsibility (compulsory collective responsibility of the peasants for making their payments in full and on time, and the performance of various services to the state and the landlords), the regular redistribution of the land with no right to refuse the allotment given, the prohibition of its purchase and sale
  9. A dessiatine = 2.7 acres.—Ed. Eng. ed
  10. This refers to registered males subject to the poll-tax in feudal Russia (the peasantry and lower urban categories were chiefly affected), and to this end recorded in special censuses (so-called “registrations”). Such “ registrations” began in 1718, the tenth and last being made in 1857-1859. In a number of districts redistribution of the land within the village communities took place according to the number of registered males in the family
  11. Food norm and labour norm—as can be seen from the text Lenin us these expressions as translations of the German political economic terms “ Nahrungsflä#228;aumlche” and “ Arbeitsflä#228;aumlche,” the former being the amount of land required to feed one person (or any other unit, such as the family) and the latter the amount that can be cultivated by one person (or family).—Ed. Eng. ed
  12. Results of the Economic Investigation of Russia According to Zemstvo Statistical Data ; Vol. II, N. Karychev, Peasant Rentings of Non-Allotment Land, Dorpat, 1892. Pp. 122, 133 et al.—Lenin
  13. The last section of this table (the totals for the three uyezds) is not given by Postnikov. In a note to the table he says that “under the terms of lease the peasants may plough up only one-third of the rented land.”—Lenin
  14. Dessiatiners—peasants in South Russia who rented land for part of the harvest and not for a money payment
  15. In terms of cattle. —Lenin
  16. In terms of cattle. [DUPLICATED "*"] —Lenin
  17. See below, the table showing the family composition of the various groups. —Lenin
  18. Working persons—this somewhat un-English term is used for “working members, men and women of a peasant family or household” as opposed to hired labourers. Ed. Eng. ed. —Lenin
  19. Mennonites—members of a religious sect who came to Russia from West Europe at the end of the eighteenth century. Their name was derived from that of their founder, the Dutchman Menno Simons. They settled mainly in the Yekaterinoslav and Taurida gubernias. The farms of the Mennonite colonists were mostly prosperous, kulak farms.
  20. The Peasant Reform of 1861, which abolished serfdom in Russia was effected by the tsarist government in the interests of the serf-owning landlords. The Reform was made necessary by the entire course of Russia’s economic development and by the growth of a mass movement among the peasantry against feudal exploitation. The “peasant Reform” was feudal in character, but by force of the economic development that had drawn Russia on to the capitalist path the feudal form was given a capitalist content, and “this was the more evident the less the land was filched from the peasants the more fully the land of the peasants was separated from that of the landlords, the less the tribute (i.e., “redemption”) paid to the serf owners.” (See MECW, Vol. 17, The “Peasant Reform” and Proletarian-Peasant Revolution.) The “peasant Reform” marked a step towards Russia’s transformation into a bourgeois monarchy. On February 19, 1861, Alexander II signed a Manifesto and “Regulations” for the peasants, who were being released from serf dependence. In all, 22,500,000 serfs, formerly belonging to landlords, were “ emancipated.” Landed proprietorship, however, remained, the peasants’ lands were declared the property of the landlords and the peasant could only get a land allotment of the size established by law (and even then by agreement with the landlord) for which he had to pay (redeem). The peasants made their redemption payments to the tsarist government, which had paid the established sums to the landlords. Approximate estimates show that after the Reform, the nobility possessed 71,500,000 dessiatines of land and the peasants 33,700,000 dessiatines. Thanks to the Reform the landlords cut off and appropriated from one to two-fifths of the lands formerly cultivated by the peasants.
    The Reform merely undermined but did not abolish the old corvée system of farming. The landlords secured possession of the best parts of the peasants’ allotments (the “cut-off lands,” woods, meadows, watering-places, grazing grounds, and so on), without which the peasants could not engage in independent farming. Until the redemption arrangements were completed the peasants were considered to be “temporarily bound,” and rendered services to the landlord in the shape of quit-rent and corvée service. To compel the peasants to redeem their own allotments was sheer plunder on the part of the landlords and the tsarist government. The peasants were given a period of 49 years in which to pay off the debt, with an interest of 6%. Arrears grew from year to year. The former landlords’ peasants alone paid the tsarist government a total of 1,900 million rubles in redemption money, whereas the market price of the land that passed into their possession did not exceed 544 million rubles. The peasants had to pay hundreds of millions of rubles for what was actually their own land; this ruined their farms and resulted in the impoverishment of the peasant masses.
    The Russian revolutionary democrats, headed by N. G. Chernyshevsky, criticised the “peasant Reform” for its feudal character. V. I. Lenin called the “peasant Reform” of 1861 the first mass act of violence against the peasantry in the interests of nascent capitalism in agriculture—the landlords were “clearing the estates” for capitalism.
  21. A chetvert equals about six bushels.—Ed. Eng. ed.
  22. To determine the cash income Postnikov proceeded as follows: he assumed that the entire commercial area is sown to the dearest kind of grain—wheat—and, knowing the average crop and prevailing prices, he calculated the value of the produce obtainable from this area. —Lenin
  23. The manuscript contained some slight inaccuracies in the figures used to illustrate Lenin’s argument. The total area under crops should be 1,651 dessiatines; the volume of the money demand on the market, reckoning only farms with over 5 dessiatines per household under crops—22,498 rubles. The total area under crops, reckoning farms with over 5 dessiatines per household under crops should be 1,603 dessiatines. The general conclusions, however, are not affected by these inaccuracies.
  24. Yoking—an old elementary form of joint work by the village poor. Several peasant households combined their working animals and other means of production for farm work. V. I. Lenin, in the second chapter of The Development of Capitalism in Russia, calls yoking “the co-operation of tottering farms which are being ousted by the peasant bourgeoisie.” (See MECW, Vol. III.)
  25. Village court (in Russian: rasprava )—a special court for state owned peasants founded in tsarist Russia according to the Regulation of 1838, and consisting of the village elder (chairman) and two elected peasants. The village court, being a court of first instance examined unimportant civil cases and misdemeanours, imposed fines, passed sentences of hard labour or flogging. The village court of second instance was the volost (district) court. In 1858 these courts were abolished, but the term rasprava continued to be used as referring to the primary village courts.
  26. A food area of 3 1/2 dessiatines will yield 25 rubles in produce per dessiatine (25 x 3.5 = 87.5)—Postnikov’s calculation, p. 272. —Lenin
  27. The calculations made by Mr. Yuzhakov in Russkaya Mysl,[17] No. 9, 1885 (“Quotas for People’s Landownership”) fully corroborate this conclusion. He considers that the food norm, i.e., the lowest norm in Taurida Gubernia, is an allotment of 9 dessiatines under crops per household. But Mr. Yuzhakov sees the allotment as covering only the cereal foods and taxation and assumes that the other expenditures will be covered by outside earnings. The budgets given in the Zemstvo statistics show that the latter expenditures constitute over half the total. For example, in Voronezh Gubernia the average expenditure of a peasant family is 495.39 rubles, reckoning expenditure both in cash and kind. Of this sum, 109.10 rubles go for the maintenance of livestock [N. V. Yuzhakov sees the maintenance of livestock as coming from hay-fields and other grounds, and not from arable land], 135.8 rubles for vegetable food and taxes, and 250.49 rubles for other expenditure—clothing, implements, rent, various household requirements, etc. [24 budgets in Statistical Returns for Ostrogozhsk Uyezd ]. In Moscow Gubernia, the average annual expenditure per family is 348.83 rubles, of which 156.03 go for cereal foods and taxes, and 192.80 for other expenditure. [Average of 8 budgets collected by Moscow statisticians—loc. cit.] —Lenin
  28. Statistical Returns for Melitopol Uyezd (Appendix to Returns for Taurida Gubernia, Vol. I) Simferopol, 1885, p. B 195. Statistical Returns for Dnieper Uyezd (Returns for Taurida Gubernia, Vol. II), Simferopol, 1886, p. B 123. —Lenin
  29. Long-tract system—peasant allotments that stretched in a narrow tract for many miles on either side of the village, some of them being 15-20 miles away in one direction or another. The long-tract system was common in the southern and the eastern steppe regions of Russia, where big villages prevailed, each embracing several hundred peasant households.
  30. In support of his point about the considerable advantages in farming enjoyed by the large-family householders (i.e., those with many working members) over the single-handed householders, Postnikov cites Trirogov’s well-known book The Village Community and the Peasant Tax. —Lenin
  31. The data relate to the entire Dnieper Uyezd, including villages not counted in the volosts. The figures in the “Total land in use” column I have calculated myself, by adding together the amounts of allotment, rented and purchased land and subtracting the amount leased. Dnieper Uyezd has been chosen because it is inhabited almost exclusively by Russians. —Lenin
  32. See table on p. 60.—Ed.
  33. This mistake, for example, is made by Mr. Slonimsky, who in an article on Postnikov’s book says: “The well-to-do group of peasants is lost in the mass of the poor, and in some areas would seem to be altogether non-existent.” (Vestnik Yevropy,[18] 1893, No. 3, p. 307.) —Lenin
  34. Mazhara—a long heavy farm cart with a light framework of poles for its sides.—Ed. Eng. ed.
  35. The peasants of the prosperous group own 6 to 10 draught animals per household (see above). —Lenin
  36. The German colonist presses hard upon the local peasant ... in depriving him of adjacent land, which he could otherwise rent or purchase,” says Postnikov (p. 292) Obviously, in this respect the Russian well-to-do peasant stands closer to the German colonist than to his poor compatriot. —Lenin
  37. Uyezd Boards of Peasants’ Affairs were established in tsarist Russia in 1874 to supervise the village and volost “peasant public administration” bodies. The Boards were directed by Uyezd Marshals of the Nobility and consisted of police chiefs, justices of the peace, and chairmen of Uyezd Zemstvo Boards. The Uyezd Boards of Peasants’ Affairs were subordinate to the Gubernia Boards, which were headed by the governors.
  38. For 1.8 to 2.3 working members it is 27 to 34.5 dessiatines; but, as we know, the peasants of the prosperous group sow 34.5 to 75 dessiatines Hence, the general characteristic of this group is that the size of the farm far exceeds the family labour norm. —Lenin
  39. Character of farming: self-consumer or commercial, character of exploitation of labour: sale of labour-power as the chief source of livelihood, or purchase of labour-power as the necessary consequence of the expansion of the cultivated area beyond the family’s working capacity. —Lenin
  40. Reference is made to the famine of 1891 which was very severe in the eastern and south-eastern gubernias of Russia. This famine was more extensive than any similar natural calamity the country had ever experienced. The working people suffered incredible hardships as a result of the famine, which ruined masses of peasants and at the same time hastened the creation of a home market for the development of capitalism in Russia.
  41. Cf. the data given above regarding the food and the commercial areas under crops (the income from only these areas goes to cover the needs of the farmer, and not of the farm, that is, represents income in the real sense, and not production costs), and also the data regarding the average cash expenditure of the Taurida peasant in connection with the quantity of grain used for food (two chetverts per person of either sex). —Lenin