Revision of the Agrarian Programme of the Workers’ Party
Published in pamphlet form early in April 1906 by Nasha Mysl Publishers. Published according to the pamphlet text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 10, pages 165-195.
The pamphlet Revision of the Agrarian Programme of the Workers’ Party was written in support of the Bolshevik draft submitted to the Fourth (Unity) Congress on behalf of the majority in the Agrarian Committee of the Joint CC RSDLP It contains the fundamental ideas which Lenin subsequently expounded in his report on the agrarian question to the Unity Congress.
Everybody now admits that it is necessary to revise the agrarian programme of the workers’ party. This urgent question was formally brought up at the last conference of the “Majority” (December 1905), and it has now been placed on the agenda of the Unity Congress.
We propose first of all to make a very brief survey of how the agrarian question has been posed in the history of the Russian Social-Democratic movement, then to review the various draft programmes now proposed by Social-Democrats, and lastly, to present a rough draft of our own.
I. A Brief Historical Survey of the Evolution of Russian Social-Democratic Views on the Agrarian Question[edit source]
Ever since it came into being, the Russian Social-Democratic movement has recognised the vast importance of the agrarian question in Russia and of the peasant question in particular, and in all its policy documents has included an independent analysis of this question.
The contrary opinion, often spread by the Narodniks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries, is based either on complete ignorance or on deliberate distortion of the facts.
The very first draft programme of the Russian Social Democrats, published by the Emancipation of Labour group in 1884, contained the demand for the “radical revision of agrarian relations” and the abolition of all feudal relations in the countryside (not having at hand the old Social-Democratic literature that was published abroad at the time, we are compelled to quote from memory, so that we can vouch for the general sense, but not for the actual wording of the quotations).
Later Plekhanov, both in the magazine Sotsial-Demokrat (late 1880s), as well as in the pamphlets: Russia’s Ruin and The Tasks of the Socialists in Fighting the Famine in Russia (1891-92), repeatedly, and in the most emphatic terms, stressed the vast importance of the peasant question in Russia. He even pointed out that in the impending democratic revolution a “general redistribution” was possible, and that the Social-Democrats did not fear or shrink from such a prospect. He argued that while by no means a socialist measure, a “general redistribution” would give a powerful impetus to the development of capitalism, to the growth of the home market, to an improvement in the conditions of the peasantry, to the disintegration of the village community, to the development of class contradictions in the countryside and to the eradication of all vestiges of the old, feudal bondage system in Russia.
Plekhanov’s reference to a “general redistribution” is of special historical importance to us, for it clearly shows that the Social-Democrats adopted from the very outset the theoretical formulation of the agrarian question in Russia to which they have adhered up to the present day.
Ever since they founded their Party, the Russian Social-Democrats have maintained the following three propositions. First. The agrarian revolution will necessarily be a part of the democratic revolution in Russia. The content of this revolution will be the liberation of the countryside from the relations of semi-feudal bondage. Second. In its social and economic aspect, the impending agrarian revolution will be a bourgeois-democratic revolution; it will not weaken but stimulate the development of capitalism and capitalist class contradictions. Third. The Social-Democrats have every reason to support this revolution most resolutely, setting themselves immediate tasks, but not tying their hands by assuming commitments, and by no means refusing to support even a “general redistribution
Those who are unaware of these three propositions, who have not noticed them in all the Social-Democratic literature on the agrarian question in Russia, are either ignorant of the subject or evade its essence (as the Socialist-Revolutionaries always do).
Reverting to the history of the evolution of Social-Democratic views on the peasant question, we may also mention, among the literature of the late 1890s, “The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats” (1897), where the opinion that Social-Democrats are “indifferent” to the peasantry is emphatically denied, and the general views of the Social-Democrats on this subject are reiterated—and also the newspaper Iskra. The third issue of that paper, published in the spring (March and April) of 1901, that is, twelve months before the first major peasant uprising in Russia, contained an editorial entitled “The Workers’ Party and the Peasantry”, which re-emphasised the importance of the peasant question and, among a series of other demands, put forward the demand for restitution of the cut-off lands.
This article may be regarded as the first rough draft of the agrarian programme of the RSDLP that was published in the name of the editors of Iskra and Zarya in the summer of 1902, and which was adopted by the Second Congress of our Party (August .1903) as the official Party programme.
In this programme the whole struggle against the autocracy is regarded as a struggle waged by the bourgeois order against feudalism, and the imprint of Marxist principles is very distinctly seen in the main proposition of its agrarian section: “With a view to eliminating the survivals of serfdom which are a direct and heavy burden upon the peasantry, and for the purpose of facilitating the free development of the class struggle in the countryside, the Party demands....”
The critics of the Social-Democratic programme nearly all evade this main proposition: they overlook the obvious.
In addition to demands that raised no controversy (abolition of the social-estate taxation of the peasantry, reduction of rents, freedom to use land at will), the agrarian programme adopted at the Second Congress also contained a number of clauses demanding the refunding of land redemption payments, and the establishment of peasant committees for the restitution of cut-off lands and for the abolition of survivals of serfdom.
The last clause about cut-off lands gave rise to most criticism among Social-Democrats. It was criticised by the Social-Democratic Borba Group, which proposed (if I remember rightly) the expropriation of all the landed estates, and also by Comrade X. (whose criticism, together with my reply, was published in pamphlet form in Geneva, in the summer of 1903, just before the Second Congress. The delegates to that Congress had copies of it). Comrade X. proposed substituting, for the clause about cut-off lands and the refunding of land redemption payments, (1) the confiscation of church, monastery and crown lands, to be “transferred to the democratic state”, (2) “the imposition of a progressive tax on ground-rent drawn by the big landowners, so that this form of revenue should go to the democratic state for the needs of the people”, and (3) “the transfer of part of the private land (big estates), and of all the land, if possible, to large self-governing public organisations (the Zemstvos)”.
I criticised this programme and said that it was an “inferior and contradictory formulation of the demand for nationalisation of the land”; I stressed that the demand for peasant committees was important as a fighting slogan to rouse the oppressed social-estate; that the Social-Democrats must not tie their hands by pledging themselves to oppose even the “sale” of the confiscated land; that the restitution of cut-off lands does not in the least restrict the aims of Social-Democracy, but merely restricts the possibility of the rural proletariat and the peasant bourgeoisie advancing common aims. I stressed that “if the demand for all the land is a demand for the nationalisation of the land or its transference to the land-holding peasants of today, we shall appraise this demand from the standpoint of the proletariat’s interests, taking all factors into consideration [our italics]; we cannot, for instance, say in advance whether, when the revolution awakens them to political life, our land-holding peasants will come out as a democratic revolutionary party, or as a party of order” (pp. 35-36).
The same idea—that the cut-off lands will restrict neither the magnitude of the peasant movement nor our sup port for it, if it develops further—I also expressed in my pamphlet To the Rural Poor (published in 1903, before the Second Congress), where I say that cut-off lands are not a “barrier” but a “door”, and where, far from rejecting the idea of all the land going to the peasantry, I even welcome it in certain political conditions.
As regards the “general redistribution”, I wrote the following in August 1902 (Zarya, No. 4, p. 176) in defending the draft agrarian programme:
“The demand for general redistribution contains the reactionary utopian idea of generalising and perpetuating small-scale peasant production, but it also contains (in addition to the utopian idea that the ’peasantry’ can serve as the vehicle of the socialist revolution) a revolutionary element, namely, the desire to sweep away by means of a peasant revolt all the remnants of the serf-owning system.”
Thus, reference to the literature of 1902-03 irrefutably proves that the authors of the demand about cut-off lands never regarded it as restricting the peasant movement, or our support of it. Nevertheless, the course of events proved that this part of the programme was unsatisfactory, because the peasant movement was growing in breadth and depth with tremendous speed, and our programme was giving rise to bewilderment among the broad masses. Yet the party of the working class must reckon with the broad masses and cannot keep on referring only to commentaries, which explain a programme that is obligatory for all by arguments that are not obligatory for the Party.
The necessity for revising the agrarian programme was growing. At the beginning of 1905, one of the issues of the “Bolshevik” Social-Democratic newspaper Vperyod (published weekly in Geneva from January to May 1905) contained proposals for amending the agrarian programme, among which was the proposal for deleting the clause about cut-off lands and substituting for it “support for the peasant demands, up to and including confiscation of all the landed estates”.
However, at the Third Congress of the RSDLP (May 1905), and at the “conference” of the “Minority” held at the same time, the question of revising the programme as such was not raised. Matters did not go beyond the adoption of a resolution on tactics, both sections of the Party agreeing to support the peasant movement, including confiscation of all the landed estates.
Strictly speaking, those resolutions predetermined the question of revising the agrarian programme of the RSDLP The last conference of the “Majority” (December 1905) accepted my proposal to suggest deleting clauses about cut-off lands and about the refunding of land redemption payments, and replacing them by the statement that we support the peasant movement to the point of confiscation of all the landed estates.
With this we may conclude our brief historical outline of the evolution of the views of the RSDLP on the agrarian question.
II. Four Trends Among Social-Democrats on the Question of the Agrarian Programme[edit source]
At the present time, in addition to the resolution of the “Bolshevik” conference already referred to, we have on this question two finished drafts of an agrarian programme— those of Comrades Maslov and Rozhkov—and comments and views of Comrades Finn, Plekhanov and Kautsky, which are incomplete, i.e., offer no finished draft of a programme.
Let us briefly outline the views of these authors.
Comrade Maslov offers us Comrade X.’s draft, slightly modified. Specifically, he deletes the progressive tax on ground-rent, and amends the demand for transfer of the private lands to the Zemstvos. Maslov’s amendment consists, first, in that he deletes X.’s phrase: “and all the land, if possible” (i.e., to transfer all the land to the Zemstvos). Secondly, he deletes from X.’s draft all reference to the “Zemstvos”; and for the phrase “large self-governing public organisations (the Zemstvos)”, he substitutes the phrase “large regional organisations”. The whole clause as amended by Maslov reads as follows:
“The transfer of private lands (big estates) to large self- governing regional organisations. The minimum size of land holdings to be alienated shall be determined by the regional popular representative body.” Thus Maslov emphatically rejects complete nationalisation, tentatively proposed by X., and demands “municipalisation”, or, to be precise, “provincialisation”. Against nationalisation, Maslov advances three arguments: (1) nationalisation would be an encroachment on the self-determination of nationalities; (2) the peasants, and particularly, homestead peasants, will not agree to the nationalisation of their land; (3) nationalisation will strengthen the bureaucracy inevitable in a bourgeois-democratic class state.
Maslov criticises the division of the landed estates (“dividing up”) merely as a pseudo-socialist utopia of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, but does not give his opinion of this measure as compared with “nationalisation”.
As for Rozhkov, he wants neither division nor nationalisation. All he wants is deletion of the clause about cut-off lands and the substitution of a clause like the following:
“Transfer to the peasants without redemption of all lands that serve as instruments for their economic enslavement” (see Comrade N. Rozhkov’s article in the symposium The Present Situation, p. 6). Comrade Rozhkov demands the confiscation of church and other lands, but says nothing about their “transfer to the democratic state” (which Comrade Maslov proposes).
The next is Comrade Finn, who in his unfinished article (in Mir Bozhy, 1906) rejects nationalisation and evidently is inclined to support the demand that the landed estates be divided up among the peasantry as their private property.
Nor does Comrade Plekhanov say anything at all in his Dnevnik, No. 5, about making definite changes in our agrarian programme. In criticising Maslov, he merely advocates “flexible tactics” in general, rejects “nationalisation” (using the old arguments advanced in Zarya), and appears to be in favour of dividing the landed estates among the peasantry.
Lastly, K. Kautsky, in his splendid essay “The Agrarian Question in Russia”, sets forth the general principles of the Social-Democratic views on the subject, expresses his complete sympathy with the idea of dividing up the landed estates and apparently admits the possibility of nationalisation too, in certain conditions; but he says absolutely nothing at all either about the old agrarian programme of the RSDLP or about the proposals to amend it.
Summing up the opinions which exist in our Party on the agrarian programme of the RSDLP, we obtain the following four main types:
(1) The agrarian programme of the RSDLP should demand neither nationalisation nor confiscation of the landed estates (a view held by advocates of the present programme, or of slight amendments, like those proposed by Comrade N. Rozhkov);
(2) The agrarian programme of the RSDLP should demand confiscation of the landed estates, but not nationalisation of the land in any form (this view is evidently support ed by Comrade Finn, and perhaps by Comrade Plekhanov, though his opinion is not clear);
(3) Alienation of the landed estates, together with a peculiar and restricted sort of nationalisation (“Zemstvo-isation” and “provincialisation”, as proposed by X., Maslov, Groman and others);
(4) Confiscation of the landed estates and, in definite political conditions, nationalisation of the land (the programme proposed by the majority of the committee appoint ed by the Joint Central Committee of our Party; this programme, which this writer advocates, is given at the end of the present pamphlet).
Let us examine these opinions.
The supporters of the present programme, or of a programme like that proposed by Comrade Rozhkov, start out either with the idea that confiscation of the big estates, which will result in their division into small ones, is altogether indefensible from the Social-Democratic point of view, or with the idea that confiscation should not appear in the programme, that its place is in the resolution on tactics.
Let us begin by examining the first opinion. We are told that the big estates represent an advanced capitalist type. Their confiscation and division would be a reactionary measure, a step backward to small-scale production. Social-Democrats cannot support such a measure.
We think that this opinion is wrong.
We must take into account the general and ultimate result of the present peasant movement, and not lose sight of it over individual cases and particulars. Taken as a whole, the landed estate in Russia today rests on a system of feudal bondage rather than on the capitalist system. Those who deny this cannot explain the present breadth and depth of the revolutionary peasant movement in Russia. Our mistake in putting forward the demand for the restitution of cut-off lands was that we did not sufficiently appraise the breadth and depth of the democratic, that is, the bourgeois-democratic movement among the peasantry. It would be unwise to persist in this mistake now that the revolution has taught us so much. The advantages of the confiscation of all the landed estates for the development of capitalism would far outweigh the disadvantages that would ensue from dividing up the big capitalist farms. Division will not destroy capitalism, and will not throw back its development but will to a very great extent clear the ground for it and provide a more general, extensive and firm basis for its (capitalism’s) further development. We have always said that it is not by any means the business of the Social-Democrats to restrict the scope of the peasant movement: and at the present time to reject the demand for confiscation of all the landed estates would obviously mean restricting the scope of a social movement which has taken definite shape.
Hence those comrades who are at present opposing the demand for confiscation of all the landed estates are committing the same mistake as those British miners who, working less than eight hours a day, are opposing the enactment of an eight-hour day for the whole country.
Other comrades make a concession to the “spirit of the times”. They say: In the programme, let us have the cut-off lands, or alienation of the lands which serve as instruments of enslavement. In the resolution on tactics, let us have confiscation. The programme must not be mixed up with tactics.
Our reply to this is that the attempt to draw a hard and fast line between programme and tactics can only result in scholasticism and pedantry. The programme defines the general and basic relations between the working class and other classes. Tactics define particular and temporary relations. This is quite true, of course. But we must not forget that the entire struggle we are waging against the survivals of serfdom in the countryside is a particular and temporary task in comparison with the general socialist aims of the proletariat. If a “constitutional regime” á la Shipov lasts in Russia for ten or fifteen years, these survivals will disappear; they will cause the population untold suffering, but nevertheless they will disappear, die out of themselves. Anything like a powerful democratic peasant movement will then become impossible, and it will no longer be possible to advocate any sort of agrarian programme “with a view to abolishing the survivals of the serf-owning system”. Thus the distinction between programme and tactics is only a relative one. But a mass party which is now operating more openly than before would be put to a very great disadvantage if the programme contained a particular, limited and restricted demand, while the resolution on tactics contained a general, broad and all-embracing demand. Whatever the case may be—whether the Dubasov-Shipov “Constitution” becomes firmly established or whether the peasants’ and workers’ insurrection is victorious—we shall have to revise our Party’s agrarian programme again fairly soon just the same. So we need be in no particular hurry to build a house for all time.
Let us now examine the second type of opinion. We are told: confiscation and division of the landed estates—yes, but no nationalisation in any circumstances. Kautsky is quoted in support of division, and the arguments formerly advanced by all Social-Democrats (cf. Zarya, No. 4) against nationalisation are reiterated. We fully and absolutely agree that, on the whole, division of the landed estates would, at the present time, be a decidedly progressive measure, both economically and politically. We also agree that in bourgeois society, the small proprietor class is, in certain conditions, “a stauncher pillar of democracy than the class of tenant farmers dependent on a police-controlled. class state, even if it is a constitutional state” (Lenin, “Reply to X.”, p. 27 )
But we think that if we confine ourselves to these considerations at the present stage of the democratic revolution in Russia, if we confine ourselves to advocating the old position we took up in 1902, it will certainly mean that we are discounting the material changes that have taken place in the social-class and political situation. In August 1902, Zarya pointed out (see Plekhanov’s article in No. 4, p. 36) that Moskovskiye Vedomosti was advocating nationalisation, and expressed the undoubtedly correct opinion that the demand for nationalisation of the land is far from everywhere, and certainly not always, a revolutionary demand. This is true, of course; but in the same article Plekhanov says (p. 37) that “in a revolutionary period” (Plekhanov’s italics), the expropriation of the big landowners may be essential in Russia, and in certain circumstances this question will have to be raised.
Undoubtedly, the present situation is substantially different from what it was in 1902. The revolution rose to a high pitch in 1905, and is now gathering force for a new rise. That Moskovskiye Vedomosti should advocate nationalisation of the land (at all seriously) is out of the question. Quite the reverse: the keynote of the speeches delivered by Nicholas II and of the howling of Gringmut & Co. has been defence of the inviolability of private landed property. The peasant uprising has already shaken up old serf-ridden Rus, and the dying autocracy is now placing its hopes entirely on the possibility of a deal with the landlord class, which has been scared to death by the peasant movement. Not only Moskovskiye Vedomosti, but Slovo too, the organ of the Shipovites, is attacking Witte and Kutler’s “socialist” draft, which proposes not nationalisation of the land, but only compulsory redemption payments for part of the land. The savage suppression of the Peasant Union by the government, and the savage “dragonnades” against the turbulent peasantry, show as clearly as anything can show that the peasant movement has definitely assumed a revolutionary-democratic character.
This movement, like every profoundly popular movement, has already roused the peasantry to tremendous revolutionary enthusiasm and revolutionary energy and is continuing to do so. In their struggle against the private ownership of large estates, against landlordism, the peasants necessarily arrive, and through their foremost representatives have already arrived, at the demand for the abolition of all private ownership of land in general.
There cannot be the slightest doubt that the idea that the land should belong to the whole people is now very wide spread among the peasantry. Nor can there be any doubt that, in spite of all the ignorance of the peasantry, in spite of all the reactionary-utopian elements in its aspirations, this idea on the whole is revolutionary-democratic in character.
Social-Democrats must cleanse this idea of its reactionary and petty-bourgeois socialist distortions—there is no question about that. But they would be committing a serious error if, failing to perceive its revolutionary-democratic side, they were to throw this demand entirely over board. We must very frankly and emphatically tell the peasants that land nationalisation is a bourgeois measure, that it is useful only in definite political circumstances; but it would be a short-sighted policy for us socialists to come before the masses of the peasants and baldly repudiate this measure. And it would not only be a short-sighted policy, but also a theoretical distortion of Marxism, which has very definitely established that nationalisation of the land is possible and conceivable even in bourgeois society; that it will not retard, but stimulate, the development of capitalism, and that it is the maximum bourgeois-democratic reform in the sphere of agrarian relations.
And how can anyone deny that it is our duty at the present time to come before the peasantry, advocating the maximum bourgeois-democratic reforms? How can anyone still fail to see the connection between the radicalism of the peasants’ agrarian demands (abolition of private ownership of land) and the radicalism of their political demands (a republic, etc.)?
The only stand Social-Democrats can take on the agrarian question at the present time, when the issue is one of carrying the democratic revolution to its conclusion, is the following: against landlord ownership and for peasant ownership, if private ownership of land is to exist at all. Against private ownership of land and for nationalisation of the land in definite political circumstances.
This brings us to the third type of opinion: the “Zemstvo isation” or “provincialisation” proposed by X., Maslov and others. In answering Maslov, I must to some extent repeat what I said in 1903 in answering X., namely, that his was “an inferior and contradictory formulation of the demand for the nationalisation of the land” (Lenin, “Reply to X.”, p. 42 ). And I went on to say: “The land should (generally speaking) preferably be transferred to a democratic state, and not to small public organisations (like the present or future Zemstvos).”
What does Maslov propose? He proposes a hodge-podge of nationalisation plus Zemstvo-isation, plus private owner ship of land, but he does not indicate at all the different political circumstances in which this or that agrarian system would benefit (relatively) the proletariat. Indeed, in Point 3 of his draft Maslov demands the “confiscation” of church and other lands and their “transfer to the democratic state”. This is nationalisation pure and simple. Why, one may ask, did he make no reservation about the political circumstances that would make nationalisation innocuous in bourgeois society? Why did he not propose here Zemstvo-isation instead of nationalisation? Why did he choose a formulation that precludes the sale of the confiscated land? Maslov has replied to none of these questions.
In proposing the nationalisation of church, monastery and crown lands, and yet arguing against nationalisation in general, Maslov defeats his own purpose. His arguments against nationalisation are partly incomplete and inexact, and partly very feeble. First argument: nationalisation encroaches on the self-determination of nationalities. The authorities in St. Petersburg should not control the land in Transcaucasia. This is not an argument, but a sheer misunderstanding. In the first place, our programme recognises the right of nationalities to self-determination, and there fore, Transcaucasia, too, “has a right” to self-determination by secession from St. Petersburg. Maslov does not object to the four points on the ground that “Transcaucasia” may not agree, does he? In the second place, our programme recognises extensive local and regional self-government as a general principle, and so it is positively ridiculous to talk about “the St. Petersburg bureaucracy controlling the land of the mountaineers” (Maslov, p. 22). Thirdly, it is in any case the St. Petersburg constituent assembly that will have to pass a law for the “Zemstvo-isation” of the land in Transcaucasia, for surely Maslov does not agree to any of the border territories having the right to preserve the landed estates. Consequently, Maslov’s whole argument falls to the ground.
Second argument: “Nationalisation of the land presupposes the transfer of all the land to the state. But will the peasants, and particularly the homestead peasants, voluntarily agree to transfer their land to anybody?” (Maslov, p. 20).
First, Maslov is juggling with words, or else is confusing terms. Nationalisation means transferring to the state the right of ownership of the land, the right to draw rent, but not the land itself. Nationalisation does not by any means imply that all the peasants will be forced to transfer their land to anyone at all. We will explain this to Maslov by the following example. The socialist revolution implies the transfer to the whole of society, not only of property in the land, but of the land itself as an object of economic activity; but does that mean that the socialists want to deprive the small peasants of their land against their will? No, not a single sensible socialist has ever proposed anything so stupid.
Does anybody think it is necessary to make a special reservation about this in the section of the socialist programme which deals with the substitution of public owner ship for private ownership of land? No, not a single Social-Democratic Party makes such a reservation. We have all the less reason to invent imaginary horrors about nationalisation. Nationalisation means transferring rent to the state. The majority of the peasants receive no rent from land. Consequently they will not have to pay anything when the land is nationalised; and the democratic peasant state (tacitly implied in Maslov’s vaguely formulated proposal for Zemstvo-isation) will in addition introduce a progressive income tax and reduce payments by the small proprietors. Nationalisation will facilitate the mobilisation of the land, but it does not in the least imply that the small peasants will be forcibly deprived of their land.
Secondly, if the argument against nationalisation hinges on the homestead peasants’ “voluntary consent”, then we ask Maslov: will the peasant proprietors “voluntarily consent” to the “democratic state”—in which the peasants will be a force—only renting the best land, that is, the landlord, church and crown land, to them? Why, that would be just like saying to them: “You may own the bad, allotment land; as for the good, landed estates, you can only rent them. Black bread you may get free; for white bread, pay up in hard cash.” The peasants will never agree to this. One of two things, Comrade Maslov: either economic relations necessitate private ownership of land, and the latter is advantageous—in that case we must speak of dividing up, or confiscating altogether, the landed estates. Or nationalisation of all the land is possible and advantageous—in that case there is no need whatever to make any exception for the peasants. To combine nationalisation with provincialisation, and provincialisation with private ownership, is evidence of utter confusion. We can be quite sure that such a measure would be impracticable even if the democratic revolution achieved the most complete victory.
III. Comrade Maslov’s Principal Mistake[edit source]
Here we must deal with another argument, which follows from the preceding one but requires more detailed examination. We have just said that we can be quite sure Maslov’s programme will be impracticable even if the democratic revolution achieves the most complete victory. Speaking generally, the argument that certain demands in the programme are “impracticable”, by which we mean that they are not likely to be carried out in present conditions or in the immediate future, cannot serve as an argument against those demands. K. Kautsky brought this out very clearly in his article in reply to Rosa Luxemburg on the question of the independence of Poland. R. Luxemburg had said that the independence of Poland was “impracticable”, to which K. Kautsky rejoined that it was not a question of “practicability” in the sense mentioned above, but whether a certain demand corresponds to the general trend of development of society, or to the general economic and political situation throughout the civilised world. Take, for example, the demand in the programme of the German Social-Democratic Party for the election of all government officials by the people, said Kautsky. Of course, this demand is “impracticable” in present conditions in Germany. Nevertheless, it is quite a correct and necessary demand, for it is an inseparable part of the consistent democratic revolution towards which all social development is tending and which the Social-Democrats are demanding as a condition for socialism and as an essential element in the political superstructure of socialism.
That is just why, in saying that Maslov’s programme is impracticable, we emphasise the words: even if the democratic revolution were to achieve the most complete victory. We do not merely say that Maslov’s programme is impracticable in the light of present political relations and conditions. No, we assert that it would be impracticable even after a complete and fully consistent democratic revolution, i.e., in political conditions that would be most remote from the present, and most favourable for fundamental agrarian reforms. Precisely in these conditions Maslov’s programme would be impracticable, not because it would be too big, so to speak, but because it would be too small for these conditions. In other words: if the democratic revolution is not completely victorious, then the abolition of landlordism, confiscation of the crown and other lands, municipalisation, and so forth, will be entirely out of the question. On the other hand, if the democratic revolution is completely victorious, it cannot confine itself to municipalising part of the land. A revolution that will sweep away all landlordism (and it is such a revolution that Maslov and all those who stand for division or confiscation of the landed estates assume) demands revolutionary energy and revolutionary action en a scale unprecedented in history. To assume that such a revolution is possible without confiscation of the landed estates (in his draft programme Maslov only speaks of “alienation”, not of confiscation), without the idea of nationalising all the land becoming widespread among the “people”, and without the most politically advanced forms of democracy being created, is to assume an absurdity. All sides of social life are closely interconnected and, in the last analysis, are entirely subordinate to relations of production. A radical measure like the abolition of landlordism is unthinkable without a radical change in the forms of the state (a change which, given this economic reform, is possible only in the direction of democracy); it is unthinkable unless the “people” and the peasantry who demand the abolition of the most large-scale form of private property in land, are opposed to private ownership of land in general. In other words: a far-reaching revolution like the abolition of landlordism must, in itself, inevitably give a mighty impetus to the whole of social, economic and political development. A socialist who raises the question of such a revolution must also of necessity carefully consider the new problems that arise from it: he must examine this revolution in terms of the future as well as of the past.
It is from this aspect that Comrade Maslov’s draft is particularly unsatisfactory. First, it wrongly formulates the slogans that should now, at once, immediately, kindle, fan, spread and “organise” the agrarian revolution. The only slogans that can serve this purpose are confiscation of all the landed estates and the establishment, for this purpose, of none other than peasant committees, as the only advisable form of local revolutionary authority that is close to the people and powerful. Secondly, the draft is defective in that it does not specify the political conditions without which “municipalisation” is a measure that is not necessarily useful, and is, indeed, positively harmful for the proletariat and the peasantry; that is to say, it does not give a precise and unambiguous definition of the term “democratic state”. Thirdly, and this is one of the most serious and least frequently noticed defects in the draft, it does not examine the present agrarian revolution from the standpoint of its future, does not indicate the tasks that directly follow from this revolution, and suffers from a discrepancy between the economic and political postulates upon which it is based.
Examine carefully the strongest argument (the third) which might support Maslov’s draft. This argument reads: nationalisation will strengthen the bourgeois state, whereas the municipal bodies, and local bodies generally, in such a state are usually more democratic, are not burdened with expenditure for the maintenance of the armed forces, do not directly fulfil the police functions of oppressing the proletariat, and so on, and so forth. This argument clearly assumes that the state will not be fully democratic; it assumes that the most important part of the state, the central authority, will retain most of the features of the old military and bureaucratic regime, and that the local bodies, being of second-rate importance and subordinate, will be better, more democratic, than the central bodies. In other words, this argument assumes that the democratic revolution will not be a complete one. This argument tacitly assumes something between Russia in the reign of Alexander III, when the Zemstvos were better than the central bodies, and France at the time of the “republic without republicans”, when the reactionary bourgeoisie, frightened by the growing strength of the proletariat, set up an anti-democratic “monarchist republic” with central bodies that were far worse than the local ones, less democratic and more permeated with the militarist, bureaucratic and police spirit. In essence, Maslov’s draft tacitly assumes a situation in which the demands of our political minimum programme have not been carried out in full, the sovereignty of the people has not been ensured, the standing army has not been abolished, officials are not elected, and so forth. In other words, it assumes that our democratic revolution, like most of the democratic revolutions in Europe, has not reached its complete fulfilment and that it has been curtailed, distorted, “rolled back”, like all the others. Maslov’s draft is especially intended for a half-way, inconsistent, incomplete, or curtailed democratic revolution, “made innocuous” by reaction.
This is what makes Maslov’s draft absolutely artificial, mechanical, impracticable in the above-mentioned sense of the word, inherently contradictory and rickety, and lastly, lop-sided (for it only conceives of the transition from the democratic revolution to anti-democratic bourgeois reaction, and not to the intensified struggle of the proletariat for socialism).
It is absolutely impermissible tacitly to assume that the democratic revolution will not be carried through to the end, .and that the fundamental demands of our political minimum programme will not be carried out. Such things must not be passed over in silence, but stated in very precise terms. If Maslov wanted to do justice to himself, if he wanted to eliminate any element of reticence and inherent falsity in his draft, he should have said: as the state that will emerge from the present revolution will “probably” not be very democratic, it will be better not to increase its power by nationalisation, but to keep to Zemstvo-isation, for “we must assume” that the Zemstvos will be better and more democratic than the central bodies of the state. This, and this alone, is the tacit assumption in Maslov’s draft. Therefore, when he uses the term “democratic state” in his draft (Point 3), and without any reservation at that, he is uttering a glaring untruth and misleading himself, the proletariat and the whole people. For in reality he is “adjusting” his draft precisely to a non-democratic state, a reactionary state arising out of a democracy that has been left incomplete, or has been “taken over” by reaction.
That being the case, it is clear why Maslov’s draft is so artificial and “synthetic”. Indeed, if we assume a state with a central authority that is more reactionary than the local authorities, a state like the third French republic without republicans, then it is positively ridiculous to imagine that landlordism can be abolished in such a state, or that it will at least be possible to prevent the restoration of landlordism abolished by the revolutionary onslaught. In that part of the world that is called Europe, and in the century that is called the Twentieth, every state of that kind would be compelled by the objective logic of the class struggle to start by protecting landlordism, or by restoring it if it had been partly abolished. The whole purpose, the objective purpose, of such a semi-democratic, but actually reactionary, state is to preserve the foundations of bourgeois, landlord and bureaucratic rule, and to sacrifice only the least important of its prerogatives. The existence in such states of a reactionary central authority side by side with comparatively “democratic” local bodies, Zemstvos, municipal councils, and so forth, is due solely and exclusively to the fact that these local bodies are engaged in matters that are harmless for the bourgeois state: they are engaged in “tinkering with wash-basins”, water supply, electric trains, and similar matters that do not endanger the foundations of what is called “the existing social system”. It would be childishly naive to imagine that because the Zemstvos engage in activities such as supplying water and light, they can engage in the “activity” of abolishing landlordism. This is the same as if a municipal council with a 100 per cent Social-Democratic majority somewhere in the French Poshekhonye were to set about “municipalising” all the privately-owned land in France that had privately-owned buildings erected on it. The whole point is that the measure which abolishes landlordism differs just a little from measures to improve water supply, lighting, sewage, and so forth. The whole point is that the first “measure” very daringly “encroaches” upon the foundations of the whole “existing social system”, it violently shakes and undermines these foundations, and facilitates the proletariat’s onslaught upon the bourgeois system as a whole, on a scale unprecedented in history. Yes, in such circumstances the first and most important thing any bourgeois state will have to concern itself with will be to preserve the foundations of bourgeois domination. As soon as the fundamental interests of the bourgeois and landlord state are encroached upon, all rights and privileges as regards autonomous “tinkering with wash-basins” will be abolished in the twinkling of an eye; all municipalisation will at once be scrapped, and every vestige of democracy in local government bodies will be extirpated by “punitive expeditions”. The innocent assumption that democratic municipal autonomy is possible under a reactionary central authority, and that this “autonomy” can be used to abolish landlordism, is a matchless specimen of visual incongruities, or of infinite political naïveté.
IV. The Objects of Our Agrarian Programme[edit source]
The question of the agrarian programme of the R.S. D.L.P. would be very much clearer if we attempted to set it forth in the form of clear and plain advice that the Social-Democratic Party should offer the proletariat and the peasantry in the period of the democratic revolution.
The first advice would necessarily be the following: make every effort to achieve the complete victory of the peasant uprising. Without such a victory, it will be impossible even to talk seriously either about “taking the land” from the landlords, or about setting up a truly democratic state. And the only slogan that can rouse the peasantry to revolt is: confiscation of all the landed estates (and not alienation in general, or expropriation in general, which would leave the question of compensation in the shade), and definitely confiscation by peasant committees pending the convocation of a constituent assembly.
Any other advice (including Maslov’s slogan of “alienation”, and all his municipalisation) is a call to the peasantry to settle the question, not by means of insurrection, but by a deal with the landlords, with the reactionary central authority. It is a call for a settlement of the question, not in a revolutionary but in a bureaucratic way, for even t.he most democratic regional and Zemstvo organisations are bound to be bureaucratic compared with revolutionary peasant committees, which should settle accounts with the landlords there and then, and take over powers later to be sanctioned by a national constituent assembly.
The second advice would necessarily be: unless the political system is made thoroughly democratic, unless a republic is established and the sovereignty of the people really assured, it will be useless to think either of retaining the gains won by the peasant revolt, or of making further progress. We should formulate this advice to the workers and peasants in the clearest and most precise terms to preclude all doubts, ambiguities, misinterpretations, or the tacit assumption of absurdities such as the possibility of abolishing landlordism under a reactionary central authority. And therefore, in pressing our political advice, we must say to the peasants: after taking the land, you should go further, otherwise you will be beaten and hurled back by the landlords and the big bourgeoisie. You cannot take the land and retain it without achieving new political gains, without striking another and even stronger blow at private ownership of land in general. In politics, as in all the life of society, if you do not push forward, you will be hurled back. Either the bourgeoisie, strengthened after the democratic revolution (which naturally strengthens the bourgeoisie), will rob both the workers and the peasant masses of all their gains, or the proletariat and the peasant masses will fight their way further forward. And that means a republic and the complete sovereignty of the people. It means—if a republic is established—the nationalisation of all the land as the most that a bourgeois-democratic revolution can attain, as the natural and necessary step from the victory of bourgeois democracy to the beginning of the real struggle for socialism.
The third and last advice is: proletarians and semi-proletarians of town and country, organise separately. Don’t trust any petty proprietors—not even small, or “working”, proprietors. Don’t be tempted with small-scale ownership, so long as commodity production continues. The nearer the peasant uprising is to victory, the more likely is the peasant proprietor to turn against the proletariat, the more necessary is it for the proletariat to have its independent organisation, and the more vigorously, perseveringly, resolutely and loudly should we call for the complete socialist revolution. We stand by the peasant movement to the end; but we have to remember that it is the movement of another class, not the one which can and will bring about the socialist revolution. That is why we leave aside the question of what is to be done about distributing the land as an object of economic activity: in bourgeois society, that question can and will be settled only by the proprietors, big and small. What we are mostly (and after the victory of the peasant uprising exclusively) interested in is: what should the rural proletariat do? We have been and will be concerned mainly with this question, leaving it to the ideologists of the petty bourgeoisie to invent such things as equalised land tenure and the like. Our reply to this question, the fundamental question of the new, bourgeois-democratic Russia is: the rural proletariat must organise independently together with the town proletariat to fight for the complete socialist revolution.
Hence our agrarian programme should consist of three main parts. First, the formulation of the most emphatic call for a revolutionary peasant onslaught upon landlordism; secondly, a precise definition of the next step the movement can and should take to consolidate the peasants’ gains and to pass from the victory of democracy to the direct proletarian struggle for socialism; third, an indication of the Party’s proletarian class aims, which, as the victory of the peasant uprising draws nearer, more urgently confront us and more persistently demand a clear formulation.
Maslov’s programme does not solve a single one of the fundamental problems that now confront the RSDLP; it does not give the slogan that could now, immediately, under the present most anti-democratic state, indicate the path of victory for the peasant movement. This programme does not define exactly the political reforms that are necessary to complete and consolidate the agrarian reforms; it does not indicate the agrarian reforms that will be necessary in a complete and consistent democracy; it does not describe the proletarian attitude of our Party towards all bourgeois-democratic reforms. It defines neither the conditions of the “first step” nor the objects of the “second step”, but lumps everything together: beginning with the transfer of the crown lands to a non-existent “democratic state”, and going on to the transfer of the landed estates to democratic municipalities out of fear of the undemocratic nature of the central authority! Non-revolutionary as regards its present practical significance, based on the assumption of an absolutely artificial and entirely improbable deal with a semi-reactionary central authority, this programme can give no guidance to the workers’ party in any of the possible and conceivable lines of development of the democratic revolution in Russia.
To sum up. The only correct programme, provided there is a democratic revolution, is the following: confiscation of the landed estates and establishment of peasant committees ; this we must demand immediately, without hedging it round with restricting reservations. Such a demand is revolutionary and advantageous both to the proletariat and to the peasantry in all circumstances, even the worst. Such a demand inevitably involves the collapse of the police state and the strengthening of democracy.
But we cannot limit ourselves to confiscation. In the period of democratic revolution and peasant uprising, we cannot under any circumstances flatly reject nationalisation of the land; but we must specify the particular political conditions without which nationalisation might be detrimental to the proletariat and the peasantry.
Such a programme will he complete and integral. It will unquestionably offer the maximum of what is conceivable in any bourgeois-democratic revolution. It will not tie the hands of the Social-Democrats, for it will allow for division of the land or nationalisation, according to political circumstances. It will under no circumstances cause any friction between the peasants and the proletariat as fighters for democracy. It will here and now, under the present political regime of police-ridden autocracy, advance absolutely revolutionary slogans that will revolutionise this regime; and it will also contain further demands, provided the democratic revolution is completely victorious, i.e., provided a situation arises in which the completion of the democratic revolution opens new prospects and brings forward new tasks.
It is absolutely essential that the programme should precisely indicate the special proletarian position we occupy throughout the democratic agrarian revolution. We need not be embarrassed by the fact that the place for this is a resolution on tactics, or that it repeats the general part of our programme.
It is worth sacrificing the symmetrical division of subjects into programmatic and tactical, if by doing so we make our position clear and intelligible to the masses.
Herewith we submit the draft agrarian programme drawn up by the majority of the “Agrarian Committee” (appointed by the Joint Central Committee of the RSDLP to draft a new agrarian programme).
V. Draft Agrarian Programme[edit source]
With a view to eradicating the survivals of the serf-owning system, which are a direct and heavy burden upon the peas ants, and for the purpose of facilitating the free development of the class struggle in the countryside, the Party demands:
(1) the confiscation of all church, monastery, crown, state, and landlord estates;
(2) the establishment of peasant committees for the purpose of immediately abolishing all traces of landlord power and privilege, and of actual disposal of the confiscated lands, pending the establishment of a new agrarian system by a constituent assembly of the whole people;
(3) the abolition of all taxes and services at present exacted from the peasantry, as the tax-paying social-estate;
(4) the repeal of all laws that restrict the peasants in disposing of their land;
(5) the authorisation of the courts elected by the people to reduce exorbitant rents and to annul all contracts that entail an element of bondage.
If, however, the decisive victory of the present revolution in Russia brings about the complete sovereignty of the people, i.e., establishes a republic and a fully democratic state system, the Party will seek the abolition of private ownership of land and the transfer of all the land to the whole people as common property.
Furthermore, the object of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in all circumstances, and whatever the situation of democratic agrarian reform, is steadily to strive for the independent class organisation of the rural proletariat; to explain that its interests are irreconcilably opposed to those of the peasant bourgeoisie; to warn it against being tempted by small-scale ownership, which cannot, so long as commodity production exists, abolish poverty among the masses; and lastly, to urge the necessity for a complete socialist revolution as the only means of abolishing all poverty and all exploitation.
- Narodniks—adherents of a petty-bourgeois trend that arose in the Russian revolutionary movement in the sixties and seventies of the nineteenth century. They sought the abolition of the autocracy and the transfer of the landed estates to the peasants. On the other hand, they denied that the development of capitalist relations and the growth of a proletariat in Russia was a law-governed process, and hence regarded the peasantry as the chief revolutionary force. Seeing the village community as the embryo of socialism, they went to the country (“went among the people”) and tried to rouse the peasants to the struggle against the autocracy. Taking an erroneous view of the role of the class struggle in historical development, they believed that history was made by heroes passively followed by the masses of the people. In their struggle against tsarism, the Narodniks used the tactics of individual terrorism.
In the 1880s and 1890s, the Narodniks took the path of conciliation with tsarism. At that period they expressed the interests of the kulaks and waged a bitter struggle against Marxism.
- Sotsial-Demokrat (Social-Democrat)— a non-periodical literary and political collection published by the Emancipation of Labour group. Its only issue appeared in 1888.
- “General redistribution”—a slogan popular among the peasants of tsarist Russia. It expressed their desire for a general redistribution of the land.
- See present edition, Vol. 2, pp. 323-51.—Ed.
- Iskra (The Spark)—the first all-Russian illegal Marxist newspaper. Founded by Lenin in 1900, it played the decisive role in building the Marxist revolutionary party of the working class in Russia.
It was impossible to publish a revolutionary newspaper in Russia on account of police persecution, and while still in exile in Siberia, Lenin evolved a plan for its publication abroad. When his exile ended (January 1900), Lenin immediately set about putting his plan into effect. In February, in St. Petersburg, he negotiated with Vera Zasulich (who had come from abroad illegally) on the participation of the Emancipation of Labour group in the publication of the newspaper. At the end of March and the beginning of April a conference was held—known as the Pskov Conference— with V. I. Lenin, L. Martov, A. N. Potresov, S. I. Radchenko, and the “legal Marxists” P. B. Struve and M. I. Tugan-Baranovsky participating, which discussed the draft declaration, drawn up by Lenin, of the editorial board of the all-Russian newspaper (Iskra) and the scientific and political magazine (Zarya) on the programme and the aims of these publications. During the first half of 1900 Lenin travelled to a number of Russian cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riga, Smolensk, Nizhni-Novgorod, Ufa, Samara, Syzran) and established contact with Social-Democratic groups and individual Social-Democrats, obtaining their support for Iskra. In August 1900, when Lenin arrived in Switzerland, he and Potresov conferred with the Emancipation of Labour group on the programme and the aims of the newspaper and the magazine, on possible contributors, and on the editorial board and its location. The conference almost ended in failure (see present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 333-49), but an agreement was finally reached on all disputed questions.
The first issue of Lenin’s Iskra was published in Leipzig in December 1900; the ensuing issues were published in Munich; from July 1902 the paper was published in London, and from the spring of 1903 in Geneva. Considerable help in getting the newspaper going (the organisation of secret printing-presses, the acquisition of Russian type, etc.) was afforded by the German Social-Democrats Clara Zetkin, Adolf Braun, and others; by Julian Marchlewski a Polish revolutionary residing in Munich at that time; and by Harry Quelch, one of the leaders of the British Social-Democratic Federation.
The editorial board of Iskra consisted of V. I. Lenin, G. V. Plekhanov, L. Martov, P. B. Axelrod, A. N. Potresov, and V. I. Zasulich. The first secretary of the hoard was I. G. Smidovich-Leman; the post was then taken over, from the spring of 1901, by N. K. Krupskaya, who also conducted the correspondence between Iskra and the Russian Social-Democratic organisations. Iskra concentrated on problems.of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and all working people of Russia against the tsarist autocracy, and devoted much space to major international events, above all developments in the working-class movement. Lenin was in actuality editor-in-chief and the leading figure in Iskra, to which be contributed articles on all basic questions of Party organisation and the class struggle of the proletariat in Russia.
Iskra became the centre unifying Party forces, and gathering and training Party workers. In a number of Russian cities (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Samara, and others), groups and committees of the RSDLP were organised on Leninist Iskra lines, and a conference of Iskra supporters held in Samara in January 1002 founded the Russian Iskra organisation. Iskra organisations sprang up and worked under the direct leadership of Lenin’s disciples and comrades-in-arms: N. F. Bauman, I. V. Babushkin, S. I. Gusev, M. I. Kalinin, P. A. Krasikov, C. M. Krzhizhanovsky, F. V. Lengnik, P. N. Lepeshinsky, I. I. Radchenko, and others.
On the initiative and with the direct participation of Lenin, the Iskra editorial hoard drew up a draft programme of the Party (published in Iskra, No. 21) and made preparations for the Second Congress of the RSDLP By the time the Congress was convened, most of the local Social-Democratic organisations in Russia had adopted the Iskra position, approved its programme, organisational plan and tactical line, and recognised tile newspaper as their Leading organ. A special resolution of the Congress noted Iskra’s exceptional role in the struggle to build the Party, and made the newspaper tile Central Organ of the RSDLP
Shortly after the Congress the Mensheviks, backed by Plekhanov, took Iskra into their own hands and turned it into an organ fighting against Marxism and the Party, into a platform for the advocacy of opportunism. Beginning with issue No. 52, Iskra ceased to be a militant organ of revolutionary Marxism.
- See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 420-28.—Ed.
- Zarya (Dawn)—a Marxist scientific and political magazine, legally published in Stuttgart in 1901-02 by the Iskra editorial board. Four issues (three books) appeared in all.
Zarya criticised international and Russian revisionism, and defended the theoretical principles of Marxism. It published Lenin’s writings: “Casual Notes”, “Time Persecutors of the Zemstvo and the Hannibals of Liberalism”, “Messrs. the ’Critics’ on the Agrarian Question” (the first four chapters of The Agrarian Question and “The Critics of Marx”), “Review of 1-mine Affairs”, and “The Agrarian Programme of Russian Social-Democracy”.
- The Borba (Struggle) group consisting of D. B. Ryazanov, Y. M. Steklov and B. L. Gurevich, emerged in Paris in the summer of 1900. It assumed its name in May 1901. Seeking to reconcile the revolutionary and the opportunist trends in Russian Social-Democracy, the group undertook in June 1901 to call in Geneva a conference of representatives of the Social-Democratic organisations abroad—the editorial boards of Iskra and Zarya, tile organisation called “Sotsial-Demokrat”, the Foreign Committee of the Bund, and the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad—and participated in the work of the “unity” congress of the organisations abroad of the RSDLP in Zurich on September 21-22 (October 4-5), 1901. In November 1901 the group issued a programmatic “Advertisement of the Publications of the Social-Democratic Borba Group”. Its publications—“Materials for the Drafting of a Party Programme” (issues I-III), “Leaflet of the Borba Group”, etc.— distorted revolutionary Marxist theory, which they interpreted in a doctrinaire and scholastic spirit, and took a stand against Lenin’s principles of Party organisation. In view of its departure from Social-Democratic concepts and tactics, its disruptive actions and its lack of contact with the Social-Democratic organisations in Russia, the group was not admitted to the Second Congress of the RSDLP, and was dissolved by decision of the Congress.
- X—pseudonym of the Menshevik P. P. Maslov.
- See present edition, Vol. 6, pp. 438-53.—Ed.
- See present edition, Vol. 6, pp. 446-47.—Ed.
- Ibid., p. 420.—Ed.
- Ibid., p. 139.—Ed.
- See present edition, Vol. 8, p. 235.—Ed.
- The resolution was published in Rus, Nasha Zhizn and Pravda (see p. 88 of this volume.—Ed.)—Lenin
- The symposium “The Present Situation” appeared in Moscow early in 1906. Compiled by the group of writers and lecturers under the Moscow Committee of the RSDLP, it expressed chiefly the Bolshevik point of view. It was confiscated shortly after its publication.
- Mir Bozhy (The Wide World; literally, God’s World)—a monthly literary and popular-scientific magazine, liberal in trend; it was published in St. Petersburg from 1892 to 1906. During the first Russian revolution its contributors were Mensheviks. In October 1906 it changed its title to Souremenny Mir (Contemporary World).
- See pp. 194-95 of this volume.—Ed.
- See present edition, Vol. 6, p. 439.—Ed.
- Moskovskiye Vedomosti (Moscow Recorder)—a newspaper founded in 1756. From the 1860s onwards it expressed the ideas of the more reactionary monarchist landlords and clergymen, and in 1905 it became an important mouthpiece of the Black Hundreds. During the first Russian revolution its editor was V. A. Gringmut, founder of the Black-Hundred “Russian Monarchist Party”. The paper was closed shortly after the October Revolution of 1917.
- Gringmut, V. A. (1851-1907)—Russian reactionary journalist, editor of the monarchist newspaper Moskovskiye Vedomosti from 1897 to 1907. During the revolution of 1905-07 he was one of the founders and leaders of the Black-Hundred “Union of the Russian People”.
- Kutler, N. N. (1859-1924)—tsarist statesman, member of the Second and Third Dumas, a prominent Cadet.
- See Resolutions of the Congresses of the Peasant Union, August 1 and November 6, 1905, St. Petersburg, 1905, p. 6, and Minutes of the Inaugural Congress of the All-Russian Peasant Union (St. Petersburg, 1905), passim.—Lenin
- In his Dnevnik, No. 5, Comrade Plekhanov warns Russia not to repeat the experiments of Wang Hang-che (a Chinese reformer of the eleventh century who unsuccessfully introduced nationalisation of the land), and tries to show that the peasants’ idea of land nationalisation is of reactionary origin. The far-fetched nature of this argument is only too obvious. Truly, qui prouve trop, ne prouve rien (he who proves too much, proves nothing). If twentieth-century Russia could he compared with eleventh-century China, probably Plekhanov and I would hardly he talking either about the revolutionary-democratic character of the peasant movement or about capitalism in Russia. As for the reactionary origin (or character) of the peasants’ idea of land nationalisation, well, even the idea of a general redistribution of the land has undoubted features not only of a reactionary origin, but also of its reactionary character at the present time. There are reactionary elements in the whole peasant movement, and in the whole peasant ideology; but this by no means disproves the general revolutionary-democratic character of this movement as a whole. That being so, Comrade Plekhanov by his exceedingly far-fetched argument has not proved his thesis (that Social-Democrats cannot, in certain political conditions, put forward the demand for nationalisation of the land) and has, indeed, weakened it very considerably.—Lenin
- See present edition, Vol. 6, p. 452.—Ed.
- Cf. Lenin, “Reply to X.”, p. 27: “It would be wrong to say that, under all circumstances and at all times, the Social-Democrats will be opposed to the sale of the land.” (See present edition, Vol. 6, p. 439.—Ed.) It is both illogical and unwise to assume that private ownership of land has not been abolished, yet commit oneself against the sale of the land.—Lenin
- The reference is to the democratic electoral system providing for universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.
- An excerpt from it is quoted in my article on the draft agrarian programme in Zarya, No. 4. (See present edition, Vol. 6, pp. 122-23.–Ed.)—Lenin
- In his Agrarfrage Kautsky, to whom Maslov refers, points out particularly that nationalisation, which would be absurd in the conditions prevailing in Mecklenburg, would have a different significance in democratic England or Australia.—Lenin
- Poshekhonye (derived from the name of a small town in tsarist Russia)—a synonym for provincial “backwoods”, an out-of-the-way corner with barbarous Patriarchal customs. The term became cur rent after the appearance of Old Times in Poshekhonye, a story by the Russian satirist M. Saltykov-Shchedrin.
- Like X., Maslov “sees a contradiction in the fact that we demand abolition of the social-estates and the establishment of peasant, i.e., social-estate, committees. In fact, the contradiction is only a seeming one: the abolition of the social-estates requires a ’dictatorship’ of the lowest, oppressed social-estate, just as the abolition of classes in general, including the class of proletarians, requires the dictatorship of the proletariat. The object of our entire agrarian programme is the eradication of feudal and social-estate traditions in the sphere of agrarian relations, and to bring that about the only possible appeal can be to the lowest social-estate, to those who are oppressed by these remnants of the serf-owning system.” Lenin, “Reply to X.”, p. 29. (See present edition, Vol. 6, p. 440.—Ed.)—Lenin
- To remove any idea that the workers’ party wants to impose upon the peasantry any scheme of reforms against their will and independently of any movement among the peasantry, we have attached to the draft programme Variant A, in which, instead of the direct demand for nationalisation, we say first that the Party supports the striving of the revolutionary peasantry to abolish private ownership of land.—Lenin
- Variant A.
... the Party will support the striving of the revolutionary peasantry to abolish private ownership of land and seek the transfer of all the land to the state.—Lenin