The Agrarian Question and the “Critics of Marx”

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The Agrarian Question and theCritics of Marx’” was written between June and September 1901. The first four chapters were published in the journal Zarya, Nos. 2-3, in December 1901, under the title “the ’Critics’ on the Agrarian Question. First Essay”; the contribution bore the signature of N. Lenin. The chapters were later published legally in Odessa (with the inscription “Permitted by the Censor”. Odessa, July 23, 1905) by the Burevestnik Publishers as a separate pamphlet The Agrarian Question and the “Critics of Marx”, by N. Lenin. The title was retained by the author for further publications of the essay, in whole or in part.

Chapter V-IX were first published in the legal magazine Obrazovanye (Education), No. 2, February 1906. They had subtitles; chapters I-IV, published in Zarya and in the 1905 pamphlet, had none.

Chapters X, XI, and XII were written in 1907

The nine chapters with two additional ones (X and XI) were first published together in 1908 in St. Petersburg in The Agrarian Question, Part I, by V. I. Ilyin (V. I. Lenin), chapters I-IV had subtitles; some editorial changes were made in the text and some notes added.

Chapter XII (the last) was, first printed in the collection Current Life in 1908.

Obrazovanye (Education)—a literary, popular-scientific, social and political monthly published in St. Petersburg from 1892 to 1909. There were Marxists among its contributors from 1902 to 1908.

“... To argue ... that dogmatic Marxism has been jolted from its positions in the sphere of agrarian questions would be like forcing an open door... ." So spoke Russkoye Bogatstvo[1] last year through the mouth of Victor Chernov (1900, No. 8, p. 204). What a peculiar quality this “dogmatic Marxism” possesses! For many years now scientists and very learned people in Europe have been gravely declaring (and newspaper scribes and journalists have been repeating it over and over again) that Marxism has been jolted from its positions by “criticism”, and yet every new critic starts from the beginning, all over again, to bombard these allegedly destroyed positions. Mr. Chernov, for example, in the periodical Russkoye Bogatstvo, as well as in the collec tion, At the Clorious Post, in a two-hundred-and-forty-page-long “discussion” of Hertz’ work[2] with his reader, “forces an open door”. Hertz’ work, which has been given such a lengthy exposition, is itself a review of Kautsky’s book, and has been translated into Russian. Mr. Bulgakov, in keeping with his promise to refute this very same Kautsky, has published a whole two-volume study. Now, surely, no one will ever be able to find the remnants of “dogmatic Marxism”, which lies crushed to death beneath this mountain of critical printed matter.

I. The “Law” of Diminishing Returns[edit source]

Let us first of all examine the general theoretical physiognomy of the Critics. Mr. Bulgakov published an article in the periodical Nachalo[3] criticising Kautsky’s Agrarian Question in which he at once exposed his stock of “critical” methods. He charged down on Kautsky with the dash and abandon of a veritable cavalier and “scattered” him to the winds. He put into Kautsky’s mouth what he had not said, he accused him of ignoring the very circumstances and arguments which he, Kautsky, had expounded with precision, and he presented to the reader as his own the critical conclusions drawn by Kautsky. With the air of an expert, Mr. Bulgakov accused Kautsky of confounding technology with economics, and in doing so betrayed, not only incredible confusion, but also a disinclination to .read to the end the page he quotes from his opponent’s book. Needless to say, this article from the pen of the future professor is replete with outworn gibes against socialists, against the “theory of collapse”, against utopianism, against belief in miracles, etc.[4] Now, in his doctoral thesis (Capitalism and Agriculture, St. Petersburg, 1900), Mr. Bulgakov settled all his accounts with Marxism and brought his “critical” evolution to its logical conclusion.

Mr. Bulgakov makes the “law of diminishing returns” the corner-stone of his “theory of agrarian development”. We are treated to quotations from the works of the classics who established this “law” (according to which each additional investment of labour and capital in land produces, not a corresponding, but a diminishing quantity of products). We are given a list & the English economists who recognise this law. We are assured that it “has universal significance”, that it is “an evident and absolutely undeniable truth”, “which needs only to be stated clearly”, etc., etc. The more emphatically Mr. Bulgakov expresses himself, the clearer it becomes that he is retreating to bourgeois political economy, which obscures social relationships by imaginary “eternal laws”. Indeed, what does the “evidentness” of the notorious “law of diminishing returns” amount to? If each successive investment of labour and capital in land produced, not a diminishing, but an equal quantity of products, there would be no sense in extending the area of land under cultivation; additional quantities of grain, would be produced on the same plot of land, however small, and “it would be possible to carry on the agriculture of the whole globe upon one dessiatine of land”. This is the customary (and the only) argument advanced in favour of this “universal” law. A little thought, however, will prove to anyone that this argument is an empty abstraction, which ignores the most important thing—the level of technological development, the state of the productive forces. Indeed, the very term “additional (or successive) investments of labour and capital” presupposes changes in the methods of production, reforms in technique. In order to increase the quantity of capital invested in land to any considerable degree, new machinery must be invented, and there must be new methods of land cultivation, stock breeding, transport of products, and so on and so forth. Of course, “additional investments of labour and capital” may and do take place on a relatively small scale even when the technique of production has remained at the same level. In such cases, the “law of diminishing returns” is applicable to a certain degree, i.e., in the sense that the unchanged technique of production imposes relatively very narrow limits upon the investment of additional labour and capital. Consequently, instead of a universal law, we have an extremely relative “law”—so relative, indeed, that it cannot be called a “law”, or even a cardinal specific feature of agriculture. Let us take for granted: the three-field system, cultivation of traditional grain crops, maintenance of cattle to obtain manure, lack of improved grassland and improved implements. Obviously, assuming that these conditions remain unchanged, the possibilities of investing additional labour and capital in the land are extremely limited. But even within the narrow limits in which some investment of additional labour and capital is still possible, a decrease in the productivity of each such additional investment will not always and not necessarily be observed. Let us take industry—flour-milling or ironworking, for example, in the period preceding world trade and the invention of the steam-engine. At that level of technical development, the limits to which additional labour and capital could be invested in a blacksmith’s forge, or in a wind- or water-mill, were very restricted; the inevitable thing that happened was that small smithies and flour- mills continued to multiply and increase in number until the radical changes in the methods of production created a basis for new forms of industry.

Thus, the “law of diminishing returns” does not at all apply to cases in which technology is progressing and methods of production are changing; it has only an extremely relative and restricted application to conditions in which technology remains unchanged. That is why neither Marx nor the Marxists speak of this “law”, and only representatives of bourgeois science like Brentano make so much noise about it, since they are unable to abandon the prejudices of the old political economy, with its abstract, eternal, and natural laws.

Mr. Bulgakov defends the “universal law” by arguments deserving only of ridicule.

“What was formerly a free gift of Nature must now be produced by man: the wind and the rain broke up the soil, which was full of nutritive elements, and only a little effort on the part of man was required to produce what was needed. In the course of time, a larger and larger share of the productive work fell to man. As is the case everywhere, artificial processes more and more take the place of natural processes. But while in industry this expresses man’s victory over Nature, in agriculture it indicates the increasing difficulties of an existence for which Nature is diminishing her gifts.

“In the present case it is immaterial whether the increasing difficulty of producing food is expressed in an increase in human labour or in an increase of its products, such as instruments of production, fertilisers [Mr. Bulgakov wishes to say that it is immaterial whether the increasing difficulty of producing food finds expression in an increased expenditure of human labour or in an increase in the products of human labour]; what is important is that food becomes more and more costly to man. This substitution of human labour for the forces of Nature and of artificial factors of production for natural factors is the law of diminishing returns” (16).

Evidently, Mr. Bulgakov is envious of the laurels of Messrs. Struve and Tugan-Baranovsky, who arrived at the conclusion that it is not man who works with the help of machines, but machines that work with the help of man. And like those critics, he sinks to the level of vulgar political economy by talking about the forces of Nature being superseded by human labour, and so forth. Speaking generally, it is as impossible for human labour to supersede the forces of Nature as it is to substitute pounds for yards. Both in industry and in agriculture., man can only utilise the forces of Nature when he has learned how they operate, and he can facilitate this utilisation by means of machinery, tools, etc. That primitive man obtained all he required as a free gift of Nature is a silly fable for which Mr. Bulgakov would be howled down even by first-term students. Our age was not preceded by a Golden Age; and primitive man was absolutely crushed by the burden of existence, by the difficulties of the struggle against Nature. The introduction of machinery and of improved methods of production immeasurably eased man’s struggle against Nature generally, and the production of food in particular. It has not become more difficult to produce food; it has become more difficult for the workers to obtain it because capitalist development has inflated ground-rent and the price of land, has concentrated agriculture in the hands of large and small capitalists, and, to a still larger extent, has concentrated machinery, implements, and money, without which successful production is impossible. To explain the aggravation of the workers’ condition by the argument that Nature is reducing her gifts can mean only that one has become a bourgeois apologist.

“In accepting this law,” continues Mr. Bulgakov, “we do not in the least assert that there is a continuously increasing difficulty in food production; nor do we deny progress in agriculture. To assert the first, and to deny the second, would be contrary to obvious facts. This difficulty does not grow uninterruptedly, of course; development proceeds in zigzag fashion. Discoveries in agronomics and technical improvements convert barren into fertile land and temporarily remove the tendency indicated by the law of diminishing returns” (ibid.).

Profound, is it not?

Technical progress is a “temporary” tendency, while the law of diminishing returns, i.e., diminishing productivity (and that not always) of additional investments of capital on the basis of an unchanging technique, “has universal significance”! This is equal to saying that the stopping of trains at stations represents the universal law of steam transport, while the motion of trains between stations is a temporary tendency paralysing the operation of the universal law of immobility.

Finally, extensive data clearly refute the universality of the law of diminishing returns—data on the agricultural as well as the non-agricultural population. Mr. Bulgakov himself admits that “if each country were restricted to its own natural resources, the procuring of food would call for an uninterrupted relative increase [note this!] in the quantity of labour and, consequently, in the agricultural population” (19). The diminution in the agricultural population of Western Europe, accordingly, is explained by the fact that the operation of the law of diminishing returns has been counteracted by the importation of grain.

An excellent explanation, indeed! Our pundit has forgotten a detail, namely, that a relative diminution in the agricultural population is common to all capitalist countries, both agricultural and grain-importing. The agricultural population is relatively diminishing in America and in Russia. It has been diminishing in France since the end of the eighteenth century (see figures in the same work of Mr. Bulgakov, II, p. 168). Moreover, the relative diminution of the agricultural population sometimes becomes an absolute diminution, whereas the excess of grain imports over exports was still quite insignificant in the thirties and forties, and only after 1878 do we cease to find years in which grain exports exceed grain imports.[5] In Prussia there was a relative diminution in the agricultural population from 73.5 per cent in 1816 to 71.7 per cent in 1849, and to 67.5 per cent in 1871, whereas the importation of rye began only in the early sixties, and the importation of wheat in the early seventies (ibid., Part II, pp. 70 and 88). Finally, if we take the European grain-importing countries, e.g., France and Germany during the last decade, we shall find that there has been undoubted progress in agriculture side by side with an absolute diminution in the number of workers engaged in farming. In France this number dropped from 6,913,504 in 1882 to 6,663,135 in 1892 (Statistique agricole, Part II, pp. 248.51), and in Germany from 8,064,000 in 1882 to 8,045,000 in 1895.[6] Thus, it may be said that the entire history of the nineteenth century, by a multitude of data on countries of the most varied character, proves irrefutably that the “universal” law of diminishing returns is absolutely paralysed by the “temporary” tendency of technological advance which enables a relatively (and sometimes absolutely) diminishing rural population to produce an increasing quantity of agricultural products for an increasing mass of population.

Incidentally, this mass of statistical data also refutes the two following main points of Mr. Bulgakov’s “theory”: first, his assertion that the theory that constant capital (implements and materials of production) grows more rapidly than variable capital (labour-power) “is absolutely inapplicable to agriculture”. With an air of importance Mr. Bulgakov declares that this theory is wrong, and in proof of his opinion refers to: (a) “Professor A. Skvortsov” (celebrated mostly for having ascribed Marx’s theory of the average rate of profit to ill-intentioned propaganda); and (b) the fact that under intensive farming the number of workers employed per unit of land increases. This is an example of the deliberate refusal to understand Marx which fashionable Critics constantly display. Think of it: the theory of the more rapid growth of constant capital as compared with variable capital is refuted by the increase of variable capital per unit of land! And Mr. Bulgakov fails to notice that the very statistics he himself offers in such abundance confirm Marx’s theory. In German agriculture as a whole the number of workers employed diminished from 8,064,000 in 1882 to 8,045,000 in 1895 (and if the number of persons engaged in agriculture as a subsidiary occupation is added, it in creased from 11,208,000 to 11,623,000, i.e., only by 3.7 per cent). In the same period, livestock increased from 23,000,000 to 25,400,000 (all livestock expressed in terms of cattle), i.e., by more than 10 per cent; the number of cases in which the five most important agricultural machines were employed increased from 458,000 to 922,000, i.e., more than doubled; the quantity of fertilisers imported increased from 636,000 tons (1883) to 1,961,000 tons (1892), and the quantity of potassium salts from 304,000 double centners to 2,400,000.[7] Is it not clear from this that constant capital has increased in relation to variable capital? This, quite apart from the fact that these summary figures to a great extent conceal the progress of large-scale production. We shall deal with this point later.

Secondly, the progress of agriculture simultaneously with a diminution, or a negligible absolute increase, in the agricultural population completely refutes Mr. Bulgakov’s absurd attempt to revive Malthusianism. The first of the Russian “ex-Marxists” to make this attempt was probably Mr. Struve, in his Critical Remarks; but he, as always, never went beyond hesitant, half-expressed, and ambiguous remarks, which he did not carry to their logical conclusion or round off into a complete system of views. Mr. Bulgakov, however, is bolder and more consistent; he unhesitatingly converts the “law of diminishing returns” into “one of the most important laws of the history of civilisation” (sic! p. 18). “The entire history of the nineteenth century ... with its problems of riches and poverty would be unintelligible without this law.” “I have not the least doubt that the social question as it is posed today is materially linked with this law.” (Our strict scientist hastens to make this declaration on page 18 of his “Inquiry”!)... “There is no doubt,” he declares at the end of his work, “that where over-population exists, a certain part of the poverty that prevails must be put under the heading of absolute poverty, the poverty of production and not of distribution” (II, 221). “The population problem, in the special form in which it presents itself to us as a result of the conditions of agricultural production, is, in my opinion, the principal obstacle—at the present time at any rate—in the way of any extensive application of the principles of collectivism or co-operation in agricultural enterprise” (II, 265). “The past leaves to the future a heritage in the shape of a grain problem more terrible and more difficult than the social problem—the problem of production and not of distribution” (II, 455), and so on and so forth. There is no need for us to discuss the scientific significance of this “theory”, which is inseparably connected with the universal law of diminishing returns, since we have already examined this law. The fact that critical flirtation with Malthusianism in its logical development has inevitably resulted in a descent to the most vulgar bourgeois apologetics is proved by the above-quoted arguments, which Mr. Bulgakov has presented with a frankness that leaves nothing to be desired.

In a further essay we shall examine data from several new sources cited by our Critics (who constantly din into our ears that orthodox Marxists fear specification) and show that Mr. Bulgakov generally stereotypes the word “over population”, the use of which relieves him of the necessity of making any kind of analysis, particularly of analysing the class antagonisms among the “peasantry”. Here we shall confine ourselves to the general theoretical aspect of the agrarian question and touch on the theory of rent. “As for Marx,” writes Mr. Bulgakov, “we must say that in Volume III of Capital, in the form in which we have it now, he adds nothing worthy of attention to Ricardo’s theory of differential rent” (87). Let us bear this “nothing worthy of attention” in mind and compare the Critic’s verdict with the following statement made by him previously: “Notwithstanding his obvious opposition to this law [the law of diminishing returns I, Marx appropriates, in its fundamental principles, Ricardo’s theory of rent, which is based on this law” (13). Thus, according to Mr. Bulgakov, Marx failed to see the connection between Ricardo’s theory of rent and the law of diminishing returns, and therefore he never carried his argument to its logical conclusion! In regard to such a statement we can say but one thing—that no one distorts Marx to the degree that the ex-Marxists do and no one is so incredibly un... un... unabashed in ascribing to the writer he is criticising a thousand and one mortal sins.

Mr. Bulgakov’s assertion is a glaring distortion of the truth. Actually, Marx not only saw the connection between Ricardo’s theory of rent and his erroneous doctrine of diminishing returns, but quite definitely exposed Ricardo’s error. Anyone who has read Volume III of Capital with even a grain of “attention” could not but have observed the fact, very much “worthy of attention”, that it was precisely Marx who freed the theory of differential rent from all connection with the notorious “law of diminishing returns Marx demonstrated that the unequal productivity of different investments of capital in land was all that was necessary for the formation of differential rent. The question as to whether the transition is from better land to worse land or vice versa, as to whether the productivity of the additional investments of capital in land diminishes or increases, is absolutely immaterial. In actual practice, all sorts of combinations of these varying cases take place; and it is utterly impossible to subject these combinations to a single general rule. For example, Marx first of all describes the first form of differential rent, which arises from the unequal productivity of capital invested in unequal plots of land, and he explains his case by tables (concerning which Mr. Bulgakov severely rebukes Marx for his “excessive predilection for clothing what are often very simple thoughts in a complicated mathematical garb”. This complicated mathematical garb is simply the four rules of arithmetic, and the very simple ideas, as we see, were completely misunderstood by our learned professor). After analysing these tables, Marx draws the conclusion: “This takes care of the first false assumption regarding differential rent—still found among West, Malthus, and Ricardo—namely, that it necessarily presupposes a movement toward worse and worse soil, or an ever-decreasing fertility of the soil. It can be formed, as we have seen, with a movement toward better and better soil; it can be formed when a better soil takes the lowest position that was formerly occupied by the worst soil; it can be connected with a progressive improvement in agriculture. The precondition is merely the in equality of different kinds of soil ." (Marx does not speak here of the unequal productivity of successive investments of capital in land, because this gives rise to the second form of differential rent; in this chapter he speaks only of the first form of differential rent.) “So far as the increase in productivity is concerned, it [differential rent—Ed. I assumes that the increase in absolute fertility of the total area does not eliminate this inequality, but either increases it, leaves it unchanged, or merely reduces it” (Das Kapital, III, 2, S. 199).[8] Mr. Bulgakov failed to see the radical difference between Marx’s theory of differential rent and Ricardo’s theory of rent. He preferred to rummage in Volume III of Capital for “a fragment which would rather suggest the idea that Marx was by no means opposed to the law of diminishing returns” (p. 1.3, footnote). We apologise to the reader for having to devote so much space to a passage that is quite immaterial to the question that concerns us and Mr. Bulgakov. But what can one do when the heroes of modern criticism (who have the insolence to charge orthodox Marxists with resorting to rabulous disputation) distort the absolutely clear meaning of a doctrine to which they are opposed by quoting passages out of context and in faulty translations? Mr. Bulgakov quotes the passage that he found as follows: “From the standpoint of the capitalist mode of production, a relative increase in the price of (agricultural) products always takes place, since [we ask the reader to pay particular attention to the words we have italicised I these products cannot be secured unless an expenditure is incurred, a payment made, which was not previously made.” Marx goes on to say that elements of Nature entering as agents into production, costing nothing, represent a free gift of Nature’s productive power of labour; but if for the production of an additional product it is necessary to work without the help of this natural power, a new capital outlay is required, which leads to an increase in the cost of production.

Concerning this mode of “quoting” we have three remarks to make. First, Mr. Bulgakov himself introduced the word “since”, which gives his tirade the definite sense of establishing some kind of “law”. In the original (Das Kapital, III, 2, S. 277-78)[9] Marx does not say “since” but “when”. When something is paid for which formerly did not have to be paid for, there is a relative increase in the price of the product. Is that proposition anything like a recognition of the “law” of diminishing returns? Secondly, Mr. Bulgakov inserts in parentheses the word “agricultural”. In the original text the word does not appear at all. In all probability, with the frivolousness characteristic of the Critics, Mr. Bulgakov decided that in this passage Marx could be speaking only of agricultural products, and therefore hastened to give his readers an “explanation” that is a complete misrepresentation. In point of fact, Marx in this passage speaks of products generally; in the original, the passage quoted by Mr. Bulgakov is preseded by the words: “But, in general, the following is to be noted.” Freely bestowed natural forces may also enter into industrial production—in the same section on rent Marx gives the example of a waterfall which for a certain factory takes the place of steam power—and if it is necessary to manufacture an additional quantity of products without the aid of these freely bestowed natural forces, there will always be a relative increase in the price of the products. Thirdly, we must examine the context in which this passage occurs Marx discusses in this chapter differential rent obtained from the worst cultivated soil, and he examines as always two absolutely equivalent, two absolutely equally possible cases: the first case—increasing productivity of successive investments of capital (S. 274-76),[10] and the second case—decreasing productivity of such investments (S. 276-78).[11] In regard to the second of the possible cases, Marx says: “Concerning decreasing productiveness of the soil with successive investments of capital, see Liebig.... But, in general, the following is to be noted” (our italics). There follows the passage “translated” by Mr. Bulgakov, stating that when what was formerly obtained gratis has now to be paid for, there is always a relative increase in the price of the product.

We shall leave it to the reader to judge the scientific conscientiousness of the Critic who turned Marx’s remark about one of the possible cases into a recognition of this case by Marx as some sort of general “law”.

And the following is the conclusion at which Mr. Bulgakov arrives concerning the passage he has discovered:

“This passage, of course, is vague....” Of course! By substituting one word for another, Mr. Bulgakov has rendered it utterly meaningless! "... but it cannot be understood otherwise than as an indirect or even direct recognition [listen well! I of the law of diminishing returns. I am unaware that Marx has expressed himself openly on the latter in any other place” (I, 14). As an ex-Marxist, Mr. Bulgakov is “unaware” that Marx openly declared the assumptions of West, Malthus, and Ricardo—that differential rent presupposes a transition to worse land or diminishing returns—to be utterly false.[12] He is “unaware” that in the course of his voluminous analysis of rent Marx points out scores of times that he regards diminishing and increasing productivity of additional investments of capital as equally possible cases!

II. The Theory of Rent[edit source]

Mr. Bulgakov has completely failed to understand Marx’s theory of rent. He is convinced that he has shattered this theory by the two following arguments: (1) According to Marx, agricultural capital enters into the equalisation of the rate of profit, so that rent is created by a surplus profit that exceeds the average rate of profit. Mr. Bulgakov considers this to be false because the monopoly of land ownership eliminates free competition, which is necessary for the process of equalising the rate of profit. Agricultural capital does not enter into the process of equalising the rate of profit. (2) Absolute rent is merely a special case of differential rent, and it is erroneous to distinguish the one from the other. The distinction is based upon a completely arbitrary twofold interpretation of one and the same fact, namely, the monopoly ownership of one of the factors of production. Mr. Bulgakov is so convinced of the crushing effect of his arguments that he cannot refrain from pouring forth a stream of vehement words against Marx, such as petitio principii, [An argument based on the conclusion from a proposition that has still to be proved.—Ed.] non-Marxism, logical fetishism, Marx’s loss of capacity for mental flights, and so forth. And yet both those arguments are based on a rather crude error. The same one-sided vulgarisation of the subject which induced Mr. Bulgakov to raise one of the possible cases (diminishing productivity of additional investments of capital) to the level of the universal law of diminishing returns brings him in the present instance to employ the concept “monopoly” uncritically and to convert it into something universal. In doing so, he confuses the results which accrue under the capitalist organisation of agriculture from the limitedness of land, on the one hand, and from private property in land, on the other. These are two different things, as we shall explain.

“The condition, although not the source, of the appearance of ground-rent,” writes Mr. Bulgakov, “is the same as that which gave rise to the possibility of the monopolisation of land—the fact that the productivity of the land is limited, while man’s growing need for it is limitless” (I, 90). Instead of “the productivity of the land is limited”, he should have said, “land is limited”. (As we have shown, limitedness of the productivity of the land implies “limitedness” of the given technical level, the given state of the productive forces.) Under the capitalist system of society, the limitedness of land does indeed presuppose monopolisation of land, but of land as an object of economy and not as an object of property rights. The assumption of the capitalist organisation of agriculture necessarily includes the assumption that all the land is occupied by separate private enterprises; but it in no way includes the assumption that the whole of the land is the private property of those farmers, or of other persons, or that it is, in general, private property. The monopoly of landownership based on property rights and the monopoly of the land economy are two entirely different things, not only logically, but historically. Logically, we can quite easily imagine a purely capitalist organisation of agriculture in which private property in land is entirely absent, in which the land is the property of the state, or of a village commune, etc. In actual practice we see that in all developed capitalist countries the whole of the land is occupied by separate, private enterprises; but these enterprises exploit not only their own lands, but also those rented from other landowners, from the state, or from village communes (e.g., in Russia, where, as is well known, the private enterprises established on peasant communal lands are principally capitalist peasant enterprises). Not without reason did Marx, at the very beginning of his analysis of rent, observe that the capitalist mode of production meets in its first stages (and subordinates to itself) the most varied forms of landed property: from clan property[13] and feudal landed property down to the property of the peasant commune.

Thus, the limitedness of land necessarily presupposes only the monopolisation of the economy of the land (under the domination of capitalism). The question arises: what are the necessary consequences of this monopolisation in relation to the problem of rent? The limitedness of land results in the price of grain being determined by the conditions of production, not on the average land, but on the worst land under cultivation. This price of grain enables the farmer (= the capitalist entrepreneur in agriculture) to cover his cost of production and gives him the average rate of profit on his capital. The farmer on the better land obtains an additional profit, which forms differential rent. The question as to whether private property in land exists has nothing whatever to do with the question of the formation of differential rent, which is inevitable in capitalist agriculture even on communal, state, or non-private lands. The only consequence of the limitedness of land under capitalism is the formation of differential rent arising out of the difference in the productivity of various investments of capital. Mr. Bulgakov sees a second consequence in the elimination of free competition in agriculture when he says that the absence of this free competition prevents agricultural capital from participating in the formation of average profit. Obviously, he confuses the question of land cultivation with the right of property in land. The only thing that logically follows from the limitedness of land (irrespective of private property in land) is that the land will be entirely occupied by capitalist farmers; but it by no means follows that free competition among those farmers will necessarily be restricted in any way. Limitedness of land is a general phenomenon which inevitably leaves its impress upon the whole of capitalist agriculture. The logical unsoundness of confusing these different things is clearly confirmed by history. We shall not speak of England, where the separation of landownership from land cultivation is obvious, where free competition among farmers is almost limitless, where capital obtained from commerce and industry was and is invested in agriculture on the widest scale. But in all other capitalist countries (not withstanding the opinion of Mr. Bulgakov, who, following Mr. Struve, vainly strives to place “English” rent in a special category) the same process of the separation of landownership from land cultivation is actual, although in extremely varied forms (leases, mortgages). In failing to see this process (strongly emphasised by Marx), Mr. Bulgakov has failed to see the main thing. In all European countries, after the fall of serfdom, we see the decay of landownership based on social-estates, the mobilisation of landed property, the investment of merchant and industrial capital in agriculture, an increase in tenant farming and an increase in the mortgaging of land. In Russia also, despite the most pronounced survivals of serfdom, we see after the Reform[14] increased purchasing of land by peasants, commoners, and merchants, and increased leasing of privately-owned, state, and village communal lands, etc., etc. What do all these phenomena prove? They prove that free competition has entered agriculture—despite the monopoly of landed property and regardless of the infinite variety of its forms. In all capitalist countries at the present time, every owner of capital can invest his money in agriculture (by purchasing or leasing land) as easily, or almost as easily, as he can invest in any branch of commerce or industry.

In arguing against Marx’s theory of differential rent, Mr. Bulgakov says that “all these differences [differences in the conditions of the production of agricultural products] are contradictory and may [our italics] mutually eliminate one another; as Rodbertus pointed out, distance may be counteracted by fertility, different degrees of fertility may be equalised by more intensive cultivation of the more fertile plots” (I, 81). A pity, indeed, that our strict scientist should have forgotten that Marx noted this fact and was able to appraise it not so one-sidedly. Marx wrote: ". . . It is evident that these two different causes of differential rent— fertility and location [of plots of land]—may work in opposite directions. A certain plot of land may be very favourably located and yet be very poor in fertility, and vice versa. This circumstance is important, for it explains how it is possible that bringing into cultivation the land of a certain country may equally well proceed from the better to the worse land as vice versa. Finally, it is clear that the progress of social production in general has, on the one hand, the effect of evening out differences arising from location [of plots of land] as a cause of ground-rent, by creating local markets and improving locations by establishing communication and transportation facilities; on the other hand, it increases the differences in individual locations of plots of land by separating agriculture from manufacturing and forming large centres of production, on the one hand, while relatively isolating agricultural districts [relative Vereinsamung des Landes] on the other” (Das Kapital, III, 2, S. 190).[15] Thus, while Mr. Bulgakov triumphantly repeats the long-known references to the possibility of the mutual elimination of the differences, Marx presents the further problem of the transformation of this possibility into reality and shows that, simultaneously with equalising influences, there are to be observed differentiating influences. The final result of these mutually contradictory influences is, as everyone knows, that in all countries plots of land differ considerably both in fertility and in location. Mr. Bulgakov’s objection merely reveals that he has not given any thought whatsoever to his observations.

Continuing his argument, Mr. Bulgakov says that the conception of the last and least productive investment of labour and capital is “employed uncritically by both Ricardo and Marx. It is not difficult to see what an arbitrary element is introduced by this conception: let the amount of capital invested in land be equal to 1Oa, and let each successive a represent a diminishing productivity; the total product of the soil will be A. Obviously, the average productivity of each a will be equal to A/10; and if the total capital is regarded as a single whole, then the price will be determined precisely by this average productivity” (I, 82). Obviously, we say in reply to this, behind his florid phrases about the “limited productivity of the land” Mr. Bulgakov failed to see a trifle: the limitedness of land. This limitedness, irrespective of the form of property in land, creates a certain kind of monopoly, i.e., since all the land is occupied by farmers, and since there is a demand for the whole of the grain produced on the whole of the land, including the worst land and the remotest from the market, it is clear that the price of grain is determined by the price of production on the worst land (or the price of production connected with the last and least productive investment of capital). Mr. Bulgakov’s “average productivity” is a futile exercise in arithmetic, for the limitedness of land prevents the actual formation of this average. For this “average productivity” to form and to determine the prices, every capitalist must, in general, not only be able to invest capital in agriculture (to the extent that free competition, as we have said, exists in agriculture), but he must be able at all times to establish new agricultural enterprises in addition to those already existing. If this were possible, there would be no difference whatever between agriculture and industry, and rent could not come into existence. But precisely because of the limitedness of land, this is not the case.

To proceed. Until now we have pursued our argument without taking into account the question of property in land; we have seen that this method was necessary for logical considerations, as well as for the reason that historical data show that capitalist agriculture emerged and developed under various forms of landownership. Let us now introduce this new condition. Let us assume that all land is privately owned. How will this affect rent? Differential rent will be collected by the landowner from the farmer on the basis of his right of ownership. Since differential rent is the surplus profit over and above the normal, average profit on capital, and since free competition in the sense of the free investment of capital in agriculture exists (is being created by capitalist development), the landowner will always find a farmer who will be satisfied with the average profit and who will give him the surplus profit. Private property in land does not create differential rent; it merely transfers it from the hands of the farmer to the hands of the landowner. Is the influence of private landownership restricted to that? Can we assume that the landowner will permit the farmer to exploit gratis the worst and most inconveniently located land, which only produces, the average profit on capital? Naturally, not. Landownership is a monopoly, and on the basis of this monopoly the landowner demands payment from the farmer for this land also. That payment will be absolute rent, which has no connection whatever with the difference in productivity of various investments of capital, and which has its genesis in the private owner ship of land. In accusing Marx of making an arbitrary, two fold interpretation of the same monopoly, Mr. Bulgakov did not take the trouble to consider that we are actually dealing with a twofold monopoly. In the first place, we have the monopoly (capitalist) of land economy. This monopoly originates in the limitedness of land, and is therefore inevitable in any capitalist society. This monopoly leads to the determination of the price of grain by the conditions of production on the worst land; the surplus profit obtained by the investment of capital on belier land, or by a more productive investment of capital, forms differential rent. This rent comes into being quite independently of private property in land, which simply enables the landowner to take it from the farmer. In the second place, we have the monopoly of private property in land. Neither logically nor historically is this monopoly inseverably linked with the previous monopoly.[16] There is nothing in this monopoly that is essential to capitalist society and to the capitalist organisation of agriculture. On the one hand, we can quite easily conceive of capitalist agriculture without private property in land; indeed, many consistent bourgeois economists have demanded the nationalisation of land. On the other hand, even in practice we meet with the capitalist organisation of agriculture without private ownership of land, e.g., on state and village-commune lands. Consequently, it is necessary to distinguish between these two kinds of monopolies, as well as to recognise that absolute rent, which is engendered by private property in land, exists side by side with differential rent.[17]

Marx explains the possibility of the formation of absolute rent from the surplus-value of agricultural capital by the fact that in agriculture the share of variable capital in the total composition of capital is above the average (a quite natural assumption in view of the undoubted backwardness of agricultural as compared with industrial technique). This being the case, it follows that the value of agricultural products, generally speaking, is higher than the cost of their production, and that surplus-value is higher than profit. The monopoly of private property in land, however, prevents this surplus from passing wholly into the process of equalising profits, and absolute rent is taken from this surplus.[18]

Mr. Bulgakov is greatly dissatisfied with this explanation and he exclaims: “What kind of thing is this surplus-value, which, like cloth or cotton, or some other commodity, can suffice or not suffice to cover a possible demand? In the first place, it is not a material thing, it is a concept, which serves to express a definite social relationship of production” (I, 105). This contrasting of a “material thing” to a “concept” is a striking example of the scholasticism which is now so freely offered in the guise of “criticism”. What would be the use of a “concept” of the share of the social product if there were not definite “material things” corresponding to that concept? Surplus-value is the money equivalent of the surplus product, which consists of a definite share of cloth, cotton, grain, and of all other commodities (the word “definite” must not, of course, be understood in the sense that science can concretely define that share, but in the sense that the conditions which, in general outline, define the dimensions of this share are known). In agriculture, the surplus product is larger (in proportion to the capital) than in other branches of industry, and this surplus (which does not enter into the equalisation of profit owing to the monopoly of private property in land) may, naturally, “suffice or not suffice to cover the demand” of the monopolist landowner.

We shall not burden the reader with a detailed exposition of the theory of rent which Mr. Bulgakov has created, as he modestly remarks, “by his own efforts”, “pursuing his own path” (I, 111). A few remarks will suffice to characterise this product of the “last and least productive investment” of professorial “effort”. The “new” theory of rent is brewed according to the ancient recipe: “What is worth doing at all is worth doing thoroughly”. Since free competition exists, then without any restrictions (although absolutely free competition has nowhere and at no time existed). Since monopoly exists, there is nothing more to be said. Consequently, rent is not taken from surplus-value, and not even from the agricultural product; it is taken from the product of non agricultural labour; it is simply a tribute, a tax, a deduction from the total social product, a promissory note in favour of the landlord. “Agricultural capital, with its profit, and agricultural labour, agriculture in general as a sphere of investment for capital and labour, are therefore a status in statu* [A state within a state.—Ed.] in the kingdom of capitalism.... All [sic!] definitions of capital, surplus-value, wages, and value generally are imaginary quantities when applied to agriculture” (I, 99).

So, now everything is clear: both capitalists and wage- workers in agriculture are imaginary quantities. But if Mr. Bulgakov at times wanders into the clouds, he, at others, argues not altogether irrationally. Fourteen pages farther on we read: “The production of agricultural products costs society a certain quantity of labour; that is the value of these products.” Excellent. Consequently, at least the “definition” of value is not altogether an imaginary quantity. Farther ’we read: “Since production is organised on a capitalist basis, and since capital stands at the head of production, the price of grain will be determined by the price of production, that is, the productivity of the given labour and capital invested will be calculated according to average social productivity." Fine! Consequently, the “definitions” of capital, surplus-value, and wages are not altogether imaginary quantities. Consequently, free competition (although not absolutely free) exists; for unless capital could flow from agriculture into industry and vice versa, “the calculation of productivity according to average social productivity” would be impossible. Again: “The monopoly in land causes price to rise above value to the limits permitted by market conditions.” Excellent! But where has Mr. Bulgakov seen that tribute, taxes, promissory notes, etc., are dependent upon market conditions? If the monopoly causes price to rise to the limits permitted by market conditions, then the only difference between the “new” theory of rent and the “old” is this: the author, pursuing “his own path”, failed to understand the difference between the influence of the limitedness of land and the influence of private property in land, on the one hand, and the connection between the concept “monopoly” and the concept “the last and least productive investment of labour and capital”, on the other. Is it surprising, therefore, that seven pages farther on (I, 120) Mr. Bulgakov should completely lose sight of “his own” theory and argue about the “method of distributing this [agricultural] product among the landowner, the capitalist farmer, and the agricultural labourers”? A brilliant finale to a brilliant criticism! A remarkable outcome of the new Bulgakov theory of rent, which, henceforth, will enrich the science of political economy!

III. Machinery in Agriculture[edit source]

Let us now pass to what Mr. Bulgakov regards as the “remarkable” work of Hertz (Die agrarischen Fragen im Verhältniss zum Sozialismus, Wien, 1899. [Friedrich Otto Hertz, The Agrarian Questions in Relation to Socialism. Vienna. 1899.—Ed.] Russian translation by A. Ilyinsky, St. Petersburg, 1900). We shall need, however, to spend a little time in simultaneously examining similar arguments by both authors.

The question of machinery in agriculture and the closely connected question of large- and small-scale production in agriculture most frequently provide the “Critics” with the occasion to “refute” Marxism. We shall later analyse some of the detailed data they present; for the present let us examine their general arguments. The Critics devote entire pages to arguing in detail that the use of machinery encounters greater difficulties in agriculture than in industry and for that reason machines are used to a smaller extent and have less significance. This is indisputable, and it was definitely shown, for example, by the same Kautsky whose name is enough to arouse Messrs. Bulgakov, Hertz, and Chernov to a state bordering on frenzy. But this indisputable fact does not in the least controvert the other fact that the use of machinery is developing rapidly in agriculture also, and that it has a powerful transforming effect upon it. All that the Critics can do is to “evade” this inevitable conclusion by such profound arguments as, “Agriculture is characterised by the domination of Nature in the process of production and by the lack of human free will” (Bulgakov, I, 43). ". ..instead of the uncertain and imprecise work of man, it [machinery in industry] performs micrometric as well as colossal, work with mathematical precision. The machine cannot do the like [?] in the production of agricultural products because, to this day, this working instrument is not in the hands of man, but in the hands of Mother Nature. This is no metaphor” (ibid.). Indeed it is no metaphor; it is merely an empty phrase; for everyone knows that the steam plough, the seed-drill, the threshing-machine, etc., make work more “certain and precise”; consequently, to say, “cannot do the like”, is simply to talk nonsense! Similarly, how can it be said that machinery in agriculture “cannot to any extent [sic!] revolutionise production” (Bulgakov, I, 43-44, where he quotes the opinion of agricultural machinery experts, who, however, merely refer to the relative difference between agricultural and industrial machinery), or that “not only cannot machinery convert the worker into its adjunct[?], but that the worker still retains his previous control of the process” (44) —as feeder of the threshing-machine, perhaps?

Mr. Bulgakov tries to belittle the superiority of the steam plough by references to Stumpfe and Kutzleb (who wrote of the ability of small-scale farming to compete with large-scale farming), as against the opinions of experts in agricultural machinery and agricultural economics (Fühling, Perels). He advances arguments to the effect that steam ploughing requires a special soil[19] and “extremely extensive estates” (in Mr. Bulgakov’s opinion this is not an argument against small-scale farming, but against the steam plough!), and that with 12-inch furrows the work of animals is cheaper than steam power, and so forth. One could fill tomes with such arguments, without, however, in the least refuting the fact that the steam plough has made extremely deep ploughing possible (furrows deeper than 12 inches), or the fact that its use has rapidly developed: in England, in 1867, only 135 estates were using steam ploughs, whereas in 1871 over 2,000 steam ploughs had come in to use (Kautsky); in Germany the number of farms using steam ploughs increased from 836 in 1882 to 1,696 in 1895.

On the question of agricultural machinery Mr. Bulgakov frequently cites Franz Bensing, whom he recommends as “the author of a special monograph on agricultural machinery” (I, 44). It would be most unfair if we did not in the present case show how Mr. Bulgakov quotes his authors, and how the very witnesses he calls testify against him.

In arguing that Marx’s “construction” on the more rapid growth of constant capital as compared with variable capital is inapplicable to agriculture, Mr. Bulgakov points to the need of a larger expenditure of labour-power in proportion to the increase in the productivity of agriculture, and, among others, quotes the calculations made by Bensing: "The general amount of human labour required by the various systems of economy is expressed as follows: the three-field system—712 man-days; the Norfolk crop rotation system—1,615 man-days; crop rotation with a considerable production of sugar-beet—3,179 man-days per 60 hectares” (Franz Bensing, Der Einfluss der landwirtschaftlichen Maschinen auf Volks- and Privatwirtschaft, [The Influence of Agricultural Machinery on National and Private Economy.—Ed.] Breslau, 1897, S. 42. Quoted by Bulgakov, I, 32). The unfortunate thing, how ever, is that by this calculation Bensing desired to prove that the role of machinery is growing. Applying these figures to German agriculture as a whole, Bensing calculates that the available agricultural workers would be sufficient to cultivate the land only on the three-field system, and that, consequently, the introduction of a crop rotation system would have been altogether impossible without machines. It is well known that when the old three-field system prevailed machinery was hardly utilised at all; consequently, Bensing’s calculation proves the opposite of what Mr: Bulgakov tries to prove; this calculation shows that the growth of productivity of agriculture was necessarily accompanied by a more rapid growth of constant capital as compared with variable capital.

Elsewhere Mr. Bulgakov, after asserting that “a radical [sic!] difference exists between the role of machinery in the manufacturing industry and in agriculture”, quotes the words of Bensing: “Agricultural machinery cannot effect an unlimited increase in production in the way machines in industry do...” (I, 44). Mr. Bulgakov is unlucky again. Bensing points to this by no means “radical” difference between agricultural and industrial machinery in the beginning of Chapter VI of his book, which is entitled: “The Influence of Agricultural Machinery on Gross Income”. After making a detailed analysis of the data relating to each special type of machine as published in agricultural literature and of his own findings obtained in a special inquiry, Bensing arrives at the following general conclusion: the increase in gross income obtained by the use of a steam plough is ten per cent, of a seed-drill ten per cent, and of a threshing-machine fifteen per cent; moreover, the seed-drill causes a saving of twenty per cent in seed; only the use of potato-digging machines shows a decline of five per cent in gross income. Mr. Bulgakov’s assertion that “at all events, the steam plough is the only agricultural machine about which anything favour able can be said from the technical point of view” (I, 47-48) is at all events refuted by the very Bensing to whom incautious Mr. Bulgakov here refers.

In order to present the significance of machinery in agriculture as precisely and completely as possible, Bensing makes a number of detailed calculations of the results of farming carried on without machinery, with one machine, with two machines, and so forth, and, finally, with the use of all the important machines, including the steam plough and light railways (Feldbahnen). He found that in farming without the aid of machinery gross income amounted to 69,040 marks—expenditure, 68,615 marks, net income, 425 marks, or 1.37 marks per hectare. In farming that made use of all the important machines gross income amounted to 81,078 marks—expenditure, 62,551.5 marks, net income, 18,526.5 marks, or 59.76 marks per hectare, i.e., more than forty times as much as in the first case. That is the effect of machinery alone, for the system of cultivation is assumed to have remained unchanged. It goes without saying that the use of machinery is accompanied, as Bensing’s calculations show, by an enormous increase in constant capital and a diminution in variable capital (i.e., in the capital expended on labour-power and in the number of workers employed). In short, Bensing’s work entirely refutes Mr. Bulgakov and proves the superiority of large-scale production in agriculture, as well as the fact that the law of the growth of constant capital at the expense of variable capital is applicable to agriculture.

Only one thing makes Mr. Bulgakov akin to Bensing, and that is that the latter adopts the purely bourgeois point of view, completely fails to understand the contradictions inherent in capitalism, and smugly pretends not to see that machines oust the worker, etc. This moderate and methodical pupil of the German professors speaks of Marx with a hatred to match Mr. Bulgakov’s, except that Bensing is more consistent—he calls Marx “an opponent of machinery” in general, in both agriculture and industry, because, says he, Marx “distorts the facts” when he talks of the harmful effect machines have on the workers and attributes all sorts of misfortunes to machines (Bensing, loc. cit., S. 4, 5, and 11). Mr. Bulgakov’s attitude toward Bensing reveals to us again and again what the “Critics” take from the bourgeois scientists and what they pretend not to see.

The nature of Hertz’ “criticism” is sufficiently revealed by the following example. On page 149 of his book (Russian translation) he charges Kautsky with employing “feuilleton methods”, and on page 150 he “refutes” the assertion that large-scale production is superior to small-scale production in regard to the use of machinery, by the following arguments: (1) Machinery is accessible also to small farmers through the medium of co-operative societies. That, if you please, is supposed to refute the fact that machinery is used on a larger scale on big farms! On the question as to who has greater access to the benefits of co-operative organisation, we shall have a separate talk with Hertz in our second essay. (2) David has shown in Sozialistische Monatshefte[20] (Vol. V, No. 2) that the use of machinery on small farms “is extensive and is rapidly increasing ... that seed-drills are frequently [sic] to be found even on very small farms. The same applies to mowers and other machines” (S. 63, Russian translation, p. 151). But if the reader turns to David’s article,[21] he will see that the author takes the absolute figures of the number of farms using machinery, and not the percentage of those farms in relation to the total number of farms in the given category (as Kautsky does, of course).

Let us compare those figures, which are for the whole of Germany for 1895:[22]

Groups of farmsTotal number of farmsFarms using machinery
Seedling machinesPer centSeed drillsPer centMowers and reapersPer cent
Under 2 hectares3,236,3672140.0114,7350.462450.01
2 to 51,016,3185510.0513,0881.296000.06
5 to 20998,8043,2520.3348,7514.886,7460.68
2O to 100281,76712,0914.2949,85217.6919,5356.93
100 and over25,06112,56550.1414,36657.327,95831.75

Confirmation indeed of the statement of David and Hertz that seeding-machines and mowers are “frequently” found “even on very small farms”! And if Hertz draws the “conclusion” that, “judged by statistics, Kautsky’s assertion will not stand criticism”, who is it that really employs feuilleton methods?

It should be pointed out as a curiosity that whereas the “Critics” deny the superiority of large-scale farming in regard to the use of machinery and deny the overwork and under consumption caused by this fact in small farming, they outrageously contradict themselves when compelled to deal with the actual facts of the situation (and when they forget their “principal task”—to refute “orthodox” Marxism). Thus, in Volume II of his book (p. 115) Mr. Bulgakov says: "Large-scale farming always works with greater capital intensity than small-scale farming, and therefore, naturally, gives preference to the mechanical factors of production over live labour-power.” That Mr. Bulgakov as a “Critic” should follow Messrs. Struve and Tugan-Baranovsky in their inclination towards vulgar political economy by contrasting mechanical “factors of production” to live factors is indeed quite “natural”. But is it natural that he should so incautiously deny the superiority of large-scale farming?

On concentration in agricultural production Mr. Bulgakov can find no other words with which to express himself than “the mystical law of concentration”, and so forth. But he comes up against the figures for England, and they show that a tendency towards the concentration of farms was observed from the fifties to the end of the seventies. “Small subsistence farms combined into larger farms,” writes Mr. Bulgakov. “This consolidation of land was by no means the result of the conflict between large-scale and small-scale production [?] but of a conscious [?!] striving on the part of the landlords to increase their rents by combining several small farms which provided them with very low rents into large farms capable of paying them larger rents” (I, 239). We are to understand from this: Not conflict between large- scale and small-scale farming, but the elimination of the latter, because it is less remunerative. “Since farming is established on a capitalist basis, it is indisputable that within certain limits large-scale capitalist farming possesses undoubted advantages over small-scale capitalist farming” (I, 239-40). If this is indisputable, why the clamour? Why did Mr. Bulgakov cry murder (in Nachalo) against Kautsky, who begins his chapter on large-scale and small-scale production (in his Agrarian Question) with the statement: “The more capitalistic agriculture becomes, the more qualitative be comes the difference in technique between large-scale and small-scale production”?

But not only the period of prosperity of English agriculture—also the period of crisis leads to conclusions unfavourable to small-scale farming. The reports of commissions published during recent years “with astonishing per sistence assert that the crisis has most severely affected the small farmers” (I, 311). One report dealing with small owners says: “Their homes are worse than the average labourers’ cottages.... All of them work astonishingly hard and for many more hours than the labourers, and many of them say that their material conditions are not so good as those of the latter, that they do not live as well and rarely eat fresh meat.... The yeomen, burdened with mortgages, were the first to go under...” (I, 316). “They stint themselves in all things as only few labourers do.... The small farmers keep going as long as they are able to avail themselves of the unpaid labour of the members of their families.... It is hardly necessary to add that the living conditions of the small farmers are far worse than those of the labourers” (I, 320.21). We have quoted these passages so that the reader may judge the correctness of the following conclusion drawn by Mr. Bulgakov: “The severe ruination of the farms which had survived until the epoch of the agrarian crisis indicates merely [!!] that in such circumstances small producers succumb more quickly than large producers—and nothing more [sic!!]. It is utterly impossible to draw from this any general conclusion concerning the economic viability of small farms, for in that epoch the whole of English agriculture was insolvent” (I, 333). Isn’t this priceless? And in the chapter dealing with the general conditions of development of peasant farming, Mr. Bulgakov even generalises this remarkable method of reasoning in the following manner: “A sudden drop in prices has a serious effect on all forms of production; but peasant production, having least capital at its disposal, is naturally less stable than large-scale production (which does not in the slightest affect the question of its general viability)” (II, 247). Thus, in capitalist society, enterprises having less capital at their disposal are less stable; but that does not affect their “general” viability!

Hertz is not more consistent in his reasoning. He “refutes” Kautsky (in the manner described above); but in discussing America he admits the superiority of large-scale farming in that country, which permits “the employment of machinery on a far larger scale than our parcellised farming permits” (S. 36, Russian translation, p. 93). He admits that “the European peasant, employing antiquated, routine methods of production, frequently toils [robotend] for a crust of bread like a labourer, without striving for anything better” (ibid.). Hertz admits generally that “small-scale production employs a relatively larger amount of labour than large-scale production” (S. 74, Russian translation, p. 177); he could well communicate to Mr. Bulgakov the data on the increase in yield resulting from the introduction of the steam plough (S. 67-68, Russian translation, pp. 162-63), etc.

The natural concomitant of our Critics’ faulty theoretical reasoning on the significance of agricultural machinery is their helpless repetition of the views of downright reactionary agrarians who are opposed to machinery. Hertz, it is true, still hesitates on this delicate point; in speaking of the “difficulties” in the way of introducing machinery in agriculture, he observes: “The opinion is expressed that so much free time is left in the winter that hand threshing is more profitable” (S. 65, Russian translation, pp. 156-57). Apparently, Hertz, with the logic peculiar to him, is inclined to draw the conclusion that this is an argument, not against small production, not against the capitalist obstacles to the introduction of machinery, but against machinery! It is not surprising that Mr. Bulgakov chides Hertz for being “too closely tied to the opinion of his party” (II, 287). The Russian professor, of course, is above such degrading “ties” and proudly declares: “I am sufficiently free from the prejudice so widespread—particularly in Marxist literature—according to which every machine must be regarded as progress” (I, 48). Infortunately, the flight of imagination revealed in this magnificent piece of reasoning finds no correspondence in concrete conclusions. “The steam threshing-machine,” writes Mr. Bulgakov, “which deprives very many workers of winter occupation, spelt for the labourers an undoubtedly serious evil uncompensated by technical advantages.[23] Goltz, incidentally, points this out and even gives expression to a utopian desire” (II, 103), i.e., the desire to restrict the use of threshing-machines, particularly steam threshers, “in order”, adds he, “to improve the conditions of the agricultural labourers, as well as to reduce emigration and migration”,(by migration Goltz, in all probability, means movement to the towns).

We shall remind the reader that this Goltzian idea was also noted by Kautsky in his Agrarian Question. It will not be without interest, therefore, to compare the attitude of the narrow orthodox Marxist, steeped in Marxist prejudices, with that of the latter-day Critic who has excellently assimilated the whole spirit of “criticism” towards a concrete question of economics (the significance of machines) and politics (not to be restricted?).

Kautsky says (Agrarfrage, S. 41) that Goltz ascribes a particularly “harmful influence” to the threshing-machine: it deprives the agricultural labourers of their principal winter occupation, drives them into the towns, and intensifies the depopulation of the countryside. Goltz proposes to restrict the use of the threshing-machine, and, Kautsky adds, proposes this “ostensibly in the interests of agricultural labourers, but in fact in the interests of the landlords, for whom,” as Goltz himself says, “the loss resulting from such restriction will be amply compensated—if not immediately, then in the future—by the larger number of workers they will be able to obtain in the summer-time”. “Fortunately,” continues Kautsky, “this conservative friendship for the labourers is nothing more nor less than reactionary utopianism. The threshing-machine is of too great an ’immediate’ advantage for the landlord to be induced to abandon its use for the sake of profits ’in the future’. And so, the thresher will continue to perform its revolutionary work; it will continue to drive the agricultural labourers into the towns, and as a result will become a powerful instrument for the raising of wages in the rural districts, on the one hand, and for. the further development of the agricultural machine industry, on the other.”

Mr. Bulgakov’s attitude towards the problem as presented by a Social-Democrat and by an agrarian is very characteristic; it is an example in miniature of the position all the contemporary “Critics” occupy midway between the party of the proletariat and the party of the bourgeoisie. The Critic, of course, is not so narrow-minded and not so banal as to adopt the point of view of the class struggle and the revolutionising of all social relationships by capitalism. On the other hand, however, although our Critic “has grown wiser”, the recollection of the time when he was “young and foolish”, and shared the prejudices of Marxism, prevents him from adopting in its entirety the programme of his new comrade, the agrarian, who quite reasonably and consistently passes from the conclusion that machinery is harmful “for the whole of agriculture” to the desire to prohibit its use. And our good Critic finds himself in the position of Buridan’s ass, between two bundles of hay. On the one hand, he has lost all understanding of the class struggle and is now capable of saying that machinery is harmful for “the whole of agriculture”, forgetting that the whole of modern agriculture is conducted mainly by entrepreneurs, who are concerned only about their profit; he has so far forgotten “the years of his youth”, when he was a Marxist, that he now raises the extremely absurd question as to whether the technical advantages of machinery will “compensate” for its harmful effects upon the labourers (produced, not by the steam thresher alone, but by the steam plough, the mower, seed-sifter, etc.). He even fails to see that, in fact, the agrarian wants to enslave the labourer further both in winter and in summer. On the other hand, he vaguely recalls the obsolete, “dogmatic” prejudice that, prohibiting machinery is utopian. Poor Mr. Bulgakov! Will he manage to extricate himself from this unpleasant situation?

It is interesting to note that in trying in every way to belittle the significance of agricultural machinery, and even making use of the “law of diminishing returns”, our Critics have forgotten to mention (or have deliberately refrained from mentioning) the new technological revolution which electrical engineering is preparing in agriculture. But Kautsky, who, according to the extremely unfair judgement of Mr. P. Maslov, “committed a serious mistake in completely failing to indicate the course taken by the development of the productive forces in agriculture” (Zhizn, 1901, No. 3, p. 171), pointed to the significance of electricity in agriculture as far back as 1899 (in Die Agrarfrage). Today, the symptoms of the approaching technological revolution are much more distinct. Attempts are being made to elucidate theoretically the significance of electricity in agriculture (see Dr. Otto Pringsheim, Landwirtschaftliche Manulaktur und elektrische Landwirtschaft, [Agricultural Manufacture and Electrified Agriculture.—Ed.] Brauns Archiv, XV, 1900, S. 406-18; and Kautsky’s article in Neue Zeit,[24] XIX, 1, 1900-01, No. 18, “Die Elektrizität in der Landwirtschaft” [“Electricity in Agriculture.”—Ed.] ). Practical landlord’ farmers are describing their experiments in the application of electricity (Pringsheim cites a work by Adolf Seufferheld, who describes the experiments on his own farm). These landlords see in electricity a means of making agriculture once more remunerative. They call upon the government and the landlords to establish central power stations and to organise the mass production of electricity for farmers. (Last year a work was published in Königsberg, written by P. Mack, an East-Prussian landlord, entitled Der Aufschwung unseres Landwirtschaftsbetriebes durch Verbilligung der Produktionskosten. Eine Untersuchung über den Dienst, den Maschinentechnik und Elektrizität der Landwirtschaft bieten. [The Rise in Our Agriculture Through Reduced Cost of Production. An Inquiry into the Services Offered to Agriculture by Mechanical Engineering and Electricity.—Ed.] )

Pringsheim makes what in our opinion is a very true observation: that, in its general technological, and perhaps even economic, level, modern agriculture is at a stage of development which more than anything resembles the stage of industry Marx described as “manufacture”. The predominance of hand labour and simple co-operation, the sporadic employment of machines, the relatively small extent of production (if we consider, for example, the total annual volume of products sold by a single enterprise), the relatively limited market for the most part, the connection between large- and small-scale production (the latter, like the handicrafts man in his relation to the big master-manufacturer, supplies the former with labour-power—or else the former buys up the “semi-finished articles” from the latter; thus, the big farmer buys beets, cattle, etc., from the small farmers)— all these are symptoms of the fact that agriculture has not yet reached the stage of real “large-scale machine industry” in the Marxian sense. In agriculture there is no “system of machines” as yet linked into one productive mechanism.

Of course, this comparison must not be carried too far. On the one hand, agriculture possesses certain peculiar features that cannot possibly he removed (if we leave aside the extremely remote and problematic possibility of producing protein and foods in laboratories). Owing to these peculiarities, large-scale machine production will never manifest in agriculture all the features it possesses in industry. On the other hand, even in the manufacture stage of development large-scale production in industry reached predominance and considerable technical superiority over small-scale production. For a long time the small producer tried to counteract this superiority by the lengthened working day and curtailed consumption which are so characteristic of the handicrafts man and of the modern small peasant. The predominance of hand labour in the manufacture stage enabled the small producer to hold his own for a time by “heroic” measures such as these. But those who were deceived by this and talked about the viability of the handicraftsman (even as our contemporary Critics talk of the viability of the peasant) very soon found themselves refuted by the “temporary tendency” which paralysed the “universal law” of technological stagnation. Let us recall, for instance, the Russian investigators into the handicraft weaving industry in Moscow Gubernia in the seventies. As far as cotton weaving was concerned, they said, the hand weaver was doomed; the machine had triumphed. The handicraft silk weaver, however, may still hold his own for a time, the machinery being still far from perfect. Two decades have passed, and machinery has driven the small producer from still another of his last refuges, as if telling those who have ears to hear and eyes to see that the economist must always look forward, towards technological progress, or else be left behind at once; for he who will not look ahead turns his back on history; there is not and there cannot be any middle path.

“Writers who, like Hertz, in treating of competition between small- and large-scale production in agriculture ignored electrical engineering, must start their investigation all over again,” aptly remarked Pringsheim, which remark applies with still greater force to Mr. Bulgakov’s two-volume work.

Electricity is cheaper than steam power. It is more easily divisible into small units, it can be more easily transmitted over very long distances; machinery powered by electricity runs more smoothly and precisely, and for that reason it is more convenient to use it in threshing, ploughing, milking, cutting fodder,[25] etc. Kautsky describes one of the Hungarian latifundia[26] in which electricity is transmitted from a central station in all directions to the remote parts of the estate and is used for running agricultural machinery, for chopping mangels, for raising water, for lighting, etc., etc. “In order to pump 300 hectolitres a day from a well 29 metres deep into a reservoir 10 metres high, and in order to prepare fodder for 240 cows, 200 calves, and 60 oxen and horses, i.e., for chopping mangels, etc., two pairs of horses were required in the winter and one pair in the summer, at a cost of 1,500 gulden. Now, the horses have been replaced by a three and a five h.p. motor costing altogether 700 gulden to maintain, which represents a saving of 800 gulden” (Kautsky, loc. cit.). Mack calculates the cost of a horse-workday at 3 marks; but if the horse is replaced by electricity the cost is 40 to 75 pfennigs, i.e., four to seven times cheaper. If in 50 years or more from now, he says, 1,750,000 of the horses used in German agriculture were supplanted by electricity (in 1895, 2,600,000 horses, 1,000,000 oxen, and 2,300,000 cows were used for field work in German agriculture, of which 1,400,000 horses and 400,000 oxen were used on farms exceeding 20 hectares in area), expenses would be reduced from 1,003,000,000 marks to 261,000,000 marks, i.e., by 742,000,000 marks. An enormous area of land now utilised for raising cattle feed could then be turned to the production of food—for the improvement of the food of the workers, whom Mr. Bulgakov tries so much to scare with the prospect of the “diminution of the gifts of Nature”, “the grain problem”, and so forth. Mack strongly recommends the uniting of agriculture with industry for the permanent exploitation of electricity; he recommends the cutting of a Mazurian canal to provide power for five power stations which would distribute electricity to farmers within a radius of 20-25 kilometres. He recommends the use of peat for the same purpose, and demands the association of farmers: “Only in co-operative association with industry and big capital is it possible to make our branch of industry profitable once again” (Mack, S. 48). Of course, the employment of new methods of production will encounter many difficulties; it will not proceed in a straight line, but in zigzag fashion; however, that the employment of new methods will take place, that the revolution in agriculture is inevitable, can hardly be doubted. “The substitution of electric motors for the majority of draught animals,” rightly says Pringsheim, “means opening up the possibility of the machine system in agriculture.... What could not be achieved by steam power will certainly be achieved by electrical engineering, namely, the advancement of agriculture from the old manufacture stage to modern large—scale production” (loc. cit., p. 414.)

We shall not dilate upon the enormous victory the introduction of electrical engineering in agriculture will represent (and partly already represents) for large-scale production; it is too obvious to require emphasis. It will be better to see which modern farms contain the rudiments of this “machine system” that will be set in motion by a central power station. Before the machine system can be introduced, it is first of all necessary to test various kinds of machines, to conduct experiments with many combinations of machines. The information we require can be found in the returns of the German agricultural census of June 14, 1895. We have figures showing the number of farms in each category that used their own or hired machines. (Mr. Bulgakov, when citing some of these figures on page 114, Vol. II, erroneously takes them to apply to the number of machines used. In passing, it may be said that the statistics on the number of farms using machines, their own or hired, naturally bring out the superiority of large-scale farming to a smaller extent than is really the case. Big farmers have their own machines more often than small farmers, who are obliged to pay exorbitant prices for the hire of machines.) The data relate to the use either of machines in general, or of a certain kind of machine, so that we are not able to determine how many machines the farms in each group use. But if for each group we compute the number of farms using each separate kind of machine, we shall obtain the number of cases in which agricultural machines of all kinds are used. The following table presents the data drawn up in this manner and shows ho v the ground is being prepared for the “machine system” in agriculture.

Size of farmsPer hundred farms
Number of farms that used agricultural machines generally (1895)Number of instances in which some kind of agricurtural machine was used (1895)
Under 2 hectares2.032.30
2 to 513.8115.46
5 to 2045.8056.04
20 to 10078.79128.46
100 and over94.16352.34

Thus, in small farms under five hectares (these comprise more than three-fourths of the total in this group, viz., 4,100,000 out of 5,500,000, or 75.5 per cent; but they account for only 5,000,000 hectares out of a total of 32,500,000 hectares, or 15.6 per cent), the number of cases in which agricultural machines of any type are used (we have included dairy machinery) is quite insignificant. Of the medium farms (from 5 to 20 hectares) fewer than half use machines generally, while the number of instances showing use of agricultural machines represents only 56 per hundred farms. Only under large-scale capitalist production[27] do we see the majority of farms (from three-quarters to nine-tenths) using machinery and the beginning of the establishment of a machine system: on every farm there is more than one case of use of machinery. This means that several machines are used on a single farm: for example, farms of over 100 hectares use about four machines each (352 per cent as compared with 94 per cent using machines generally). Of 572 latifundia (farms of 1,000 hectares and over), 555 use machines; and the number of cases in which machines were used is 2,800, i.e., each farm used five machines. It is clear from this which farms are preparing the ground for the “electrical” revolution and which will mostly take advantage of it.

IV. The Abolition of the Antithesis Between Town and Country. Particular Questions Raised by the “Critics”[edit source]

From Hertz let us pass to Mr. Chernov. As the latter merely “talks with his readers” about the former, we shall confine ourselves here to a brief description of Hertz’ method of argument (and Mr; Chernov’s method of paraphrasing him), and (in the next essay) take up certain new facts advanced by the “Critics”.

It will suffice to cite but a single example to show the sort of theoretician Hertz is. At the very beginning of his book we find a paragraph under the pretentious heading, “The Concept of National Capitalism”. Hertz wants nothing more nor less than to present a definition of capitalism. He writes: “We can, of course, characterise it as a system of national economy which rests juridically on the completely applied principles of freedom of the person and of property, technically on production on a wide [large?] scale,[28] socially on the alienation of the means of production from the direct producers, politically on the possession by the capitalists of the central political power [the concentrated political power of the state? ... solely on the economic basis of the distribution of property” (Russian translation, p. 37). These definitions are incomplete, and certain reservations must be made, says Hertz; for example, domestic industry and small tenant farming still persist everywhere side by side with large-scale production. “The realistic [sic!] definition of capitalism as a system under which production is under the control [domination and control] of capitalists [owners of capital] is likewise not quite suitable.” A fine “realistic” definition of capitalism as the domination of capitalists! How characteristic it is—this now fashionable, quasi-realistic, but in fact eclectic quest for an exhaustive enumeration of all the separate symptoms and separate “factors”. The result, of course, is that this meaningless attempt to include into a general concept all the partial symptoms of single phenomena, or, conversely, to “avoid conflict with extremely varied phenomena”—an attempt that merely reveals an elementary failure to understand what science is—leads the “theoretician” to a point where he cannot see the wood for the trees. Thus, Hertz lost sight of such a detail as commodity production and the transformation of labour-power into a commodity! Instead, he invented the following genetic definition, which—as punishment for the inventor—ought to be quoted in full: Capitalism is “that state of national economy in which the realisation of the principles of free exchange arid freedom of the person and of property has reached its (relative) high point which is determined by the economic development and the empirical conditions of each separate national economy” (S. 10, Russian translation, pp. 38-39, not quite exact). Filled with awe and admiration, Mr. Chernov, of course, transcribes and describes this twaddle, and, moreover, treats the readers of Russkoye Bogatstvo for the space of thirty pages to an “analysis” of the types of national capitalism. From this highly instructive analysis we can extract a number of extremely valuable and by no means stereotyped references, for example, to the “independent, proud, and energetic character of the Briton”; to the “substantial” English bourgeoisie and the “unattractiveness” of their foreign policy; to the “passionate and impulsive temperament of the Latin race” and to the “methodicalness of the Germans” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 4, p. 152). “Dogmatic” Marxism, of course, is utterly annihilated by this analysis.

No less annihilating is Hertz’ analysis of mortgage statistics. At all events, Mr. Chernov goes into ecstasies over it. “The fact is,” he writes, "...Hertz’ figures have not yet been refuted by anyone. Kautsky, in his reply to hertz, dwelt at extreme length upon certain details [such as his proof of Hertz’ distortions—a fine ’detail’!], but to Hertz’ argument on the question of mortgages he made no reply whatever” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, p. 217, Mr. Chernov’s italics). As can be seen from the reference on page 238 in the cited issue of Russkoye Bogatstvo, Mr. Chernov is aware of the article Kautsky wrote in reply (“Zwei Kritiker meiner Agrarfrage”,[29] in Neue Zeit, 18, 1, 1899-1900). Mr. Chernov could not but know, too, that the periodical in which the article appeared is prohibited in Russia by the censor. The more noteworthy, therefore, as characterising the features of the modern “Critics”, is the fact that the very words which Chernov himself underlines contain a flagrant untruth; for on the question of mortgages Kautsky replied to “Hertz, David, Bernstein, Schippel, Bulgakov, e tutti quanti”,[30] on pp. 472-77, in the selfsame article to which Mr. Chernov refers. To rectify distorted truth is a tedious duty; but since we have to deal with the Messrs. Chernov, it is a duty not to be neglected.

Kautsky, of course, replied to Hertz with ridicule; for in regard to this question too Hertz revealed his inability, or unwillingness, to understand what is what and an inclination to repeat the threadbare arguments of bourgeois economists. Kautsky in his Agrarfrage (S. 88.89) dealt with the concentration of mortgages. “Numerous petty village usurers,” wrote Kautsky, “are being forced more and more into the back ground, forced to yield to big centralised capitalist or public institutions which monopolise mortgage credit.” Kautsky enumerates certain capitalist and public institutions of this type; he speaks of mutual land credit societies (genossenschaftliche Bodenkreditinstitute) and points to the fact that savings-banks, insurance companies, and many corporations (S. 89) invest their funds in mortgages, etc. Thus, until 1887, seventeen mutual credit societies in Prussia had issued mortgage bonds to the amount of 1,650,000,000 marks. “These figures show how enormously ground-rent is concentrated in the hands of a few central institutions [our italics]; but this concentration is rapidly increasing. In 1875 German mortgage banks issued mortgage bonds to the amount of 900,000,000 marks and in 1888 to the amount of 2,500,000,000 marks, while in 1892 the amount reached a total of 3,400,000,000 marks, concentrated in 31 banks (as against 27 in 1875)” (S. 89). This concentration of ground-rent is a clear indication of the concentration of landed property.

“No!” retort Hertz, Bulgakov, Chernov & Co. “We find a very decided tendency towards decentralisation and the break-up of property” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, p. 216); for “more than a fourth of the mortgage credits are concentrated in the hands of democratic [sic!] I credit institutions with a vast number of small depositors” (ibid.). Presenting a series of tables, Hertz attempts with extraordinary zeal to prove that the bulk of the depositors in savings-banks, etc., are small depositors. The only question is—what is the purpose of this argument? Kautsky himself referred to the mutual credit societies and savings-banks (while not, of course, imagining, as does Mr. Chernov, that they are particularly “democratic” institutions). Kautsky speaks of the centralisation of rent in the hands of a few central institutions, and he is met with the argument about the large number of small depositors in savings-banks!! And this they call “the break up of property”! What has the number of depositors in mortgage banks to do with agriculture (the subject under discussion being the concentration of rent)? Does a big factory cease to signify the centralisation of production because its shares are distributed among a large number of small capitalists? “Until Hertz and David informed me,” wrote Kautsky in his reply to the former, “I had not the slightest idea where the savings-banks obtained their money. I thought they operated with -the savings of the Rothschilds and the Vanderbilts.”

In regard to transferring mortgages to the state, Hertz says: “This would be the poorest way of fighting big capital, but, of course, the best means of arousing the large and constantly increasing army of the smallest property-owners, particularly the agricultural labourers, against the proponents of such a reform” (S. 29, Russian translation, p. 78. Mr. Chernov smugly repeats this on pp. 217-18 of Russkoye Bogatstvo).

These then are the “property-owners” over whose increase Bernstein & Co. get so wrought up!—retorts Kautsky. Servant girls with twenty marks in the savings-bank! And again we have the threadbare argument employed against the socialists that by “expropriation” they will rob a large army of working people. None other than Eugen Richter zealously advanced this argument in the pamphlet he published after the repeal of the Exceptional Law Against the Socialists[31] (and which employers bought up by the thou sands to distribute gratis among their workers). In that pamphlet Richter introduces his celebrated “thrifty Agnes”, a poor seamstress who had a score or so of marks in the savings-bank and was robbed by the wicked socialists when they seized political power and nationalised the banks. That is the source from which the Bulgakovs,[32] Hertzes, and Chernovs draw their “critical” arguments.

“At that time,” says Kautsky, concerning Eugen Richter’s “celebrated” pamphlet, “Eugen Richter was unanimously ridiculed by all Social-Democrats. Now we find people among the latter who, in our central organ [this, I think, refers to David’s articles in Vorwärts],[33] sing a hymn of praise to a work in which these very ideas are reproduced. Hertz, we extol thy deeds!

“For poor Eugen, in the decline of his years, this is indeed a triumph, and I cannot refrain from quoting for his pleasure the following passage from that very page in Hertz’ book: ’We see that the small peasants, the urban house-owners, and especially the big farmers, are expropriated by the lower and middle classes the bulk of which undoubtedly consists of the rural population’" (Hertz, S. 29, Russian translation, p. 77. Retold with rapture in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, pp. 216-17). “David’s theory of ’hollowing out’ [Aushöhlung] capitalism by collective wage agreements [Tarifgemeinschaften] and consumers’ co-operative societies is now excelled. It pales into insignificance before Hertz’ expropriation of the expropriators by means of savings-banks. Thrifty Agnes, whom everybody considered dead, has come to life again” (Kautsky, loc. cit., S. 475), and the Russian “Critics”, together with the publicists of Russkoye Bogatstvo, hasten to transplant this resurrected “thrifty Agnes” to Russian soil in order to discredit “orthodox” Social-Democracy.

And this very Mr. V. Chernov, spluttering with enthusiasm over Hertz’ repetition of Eugen Richter’s arguments, “annihilates” Kautsky in the pages of Russkoye Bogatstvo and in the symposium At the Glorious Post, compiled in honour of Mr. N. Mikhailovsky. It would be unfair not to present some of the gems of this tirade. “Kautsky, again following Marx,” writes Mr. Chernov in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 8, p. 229, “admits that the progress of capitalist agriculture leads to the reduction of nutritive matter in the soil: in the form of various products, something is continuously being taken from the land, sent to the towns, and never restored to the land.... As you see, on the question of the laws of the fertility of the soil, Kautsky helplessly [sic!] repeats the words of Marx, who bases himself upon the theory of Liebig. But when Marx wrote his first volume, Liebig’s ’law of restoration’ was the last word in agronomics. More than half a century has elapsed since that discovery. A complete revolution has taken place in our knowledge of the laws governing soil fertility. And what do we see? The whole post-Liebig period, all the subsequent discoveries of Pasteur and Ville, Solari’s experiments with nitrates, the discoveries of Berthelot, Hellriegel, Wilfahrt, and Vinogradsky in the sphere of the bacteriology of the soil—all this is beyond Kautsky’s ken...." Dear Mr. Chernov! How wonderfully he resembles Turgenev’s Voroshilov: you remember him in Smoke, the young Russian Privatdocent who went on a tour abroad. This Voroshilov was a very taciturn young man; but now and again he would break his silence and pour forth scores and hundreds of the most learned of names, the rarest of the rare. Our learned Mr. Chernov, who has utterly annihilated that ignoramus Kautsky, behaves in exactly the same manner. Only ... only had we not better consult Kautsky’s book—glance at least at its chapter headings? We come to Chapter IV: “Modern Agriculture”, section d, “Fertilisers, Bacteria”. We turn to section d and read:

“Towards the end of the last decade the discovery was made that leguminous plants ... unlike other cultivated plants, obtain nearly the whole of their nitrogen supply, not from the soil, but from the air, and that far from robbing the soil of nitrogen they enrich it. But they possess this property only when the soil contains certain micro-organisms which adhere to their roots. Where these micro-organisms do not exist, it is possible by means of certain inoculations to give these leguminous plants the property of converting soil poor in nitrogen into nitrogen-rich soil, and in this way to fertilise this soil to a certain extent for other crops. As a general rule, by inoculating bacteria into these plants and by using a suitable mineral fertiliser (phosphoric acid salts and pot ash fertilisers), it is possible to obtain the highest steady yields from the soil even without stable manure. Only thanks to this discovery has ’free farming’ acquired a really firm basis” (Kautsky, pp. 51-52). Who, however, gave a scientific basis to the remarkable discovery of nitrogen-gathering bacteria?—Hellriegel....

Kautsky’s fault is his bad habit (possessed by many of the narrow orthodox) of never forgetting that members of a militant socialist party must, even in their scientific works, keep the working-class reader in mind, that they must strive to write simply, without employing unnecessary clever turns of phrase and those outer symptoms of “learning” which so captivate decadents and the titled representatives of official science. In this work, too, Kautsky preferred to relate in a clear and simple manner the latest discoveries in agronomics and to omit scientific names that mean nothing to nine-tenths of the readers. The Voroshilovs, however, act in precisely the opposite manner; they prefer to effuse a veritable stream of scientific names in the domains of agronomics, political economy, critical philosophy, etc., and thus bury essentials under this scientific lumber.

Thus, Voroshilov-Chernov, by his slanderous accusation that Kautsky is not acquainted with scientific names and scientific discoveries, blocked from view an extremely interesting and instructive episode in fashionable criticism, namely, the attack of bourgeois economics upon the socialist idea of abolishing the antithesis between town and country. Prof. Lujo Brentano, for instance, asserts that migration from the country to the towns is caused, not by given social conditions, but by natural necessity, by the law of diminishing returns.[34] Mr. Bulgakov, following in the footsteps steps of his teacher, stated in Nachalo (March 1899, p. 29) that the idea of abolishing the antithesis between town and country was “an absolute fantasy”, which would “cause an agronomist to smile”. Hertz writes in his book: “The abolition of the distinction between town and country is, it is true, the principal striving of the old utopians [and even of the Manifesto.] Nevertheless, we do not believe that a social system containing all the conditions necessary for directing human culture to the highest aims achievable would really abolish such great centres of energy and culture as the big cities and, to soothe offended aesthetic sentiments, abandon these abundant depositories of science and art, without which progress is impossible” (S. 76. The Russian translator, on p. 182, rendered the word “potenziert” [Raised to a higher power, abundant.—Ed.] as “potential”. These Russian translations are an awful nuisance! On page 270, the same translator translates the sentence, “Wer isst zuletzt das Schwein?” [Who, in the end, eats the pig?—Ed.] as “Who, in the end, is the pig?”). As can be seen, Hertz defends the bourgeois system from socialist “fantasies” with phrases that convey the “struggle for idealism” no less than do the writings of Messrs. Struve and Berdyaev. But his defence is not in the least strengthened by this bombastic, idealistic phrase-mongering.

The Social-Democrats have proved that they know how to appreciate the historic services of the great centres of energy and culture by their relentless struggle against all that encroaches on the freedom of movement of the population generally and of the peasants and agricultural labourers in particular. That is why no agrarian can trap them, as he can the Critics, with the bait of providing the “muzhik” with winter “employment”. The fact that we definitely recognise the progressive character of big cities in capitalist society, however, does not in the least prevent us from including in our ideal (and in our programme of action, for we leave unattainable ideals to Messrs. Struve and Berdyaev) the abolition of the antithesis between town and country. It is not true to say that this is tantamount to abandoning the treasures of science and art. Quite the contrary: this is necessary in order to bring these treasures within the reach of the entire people, in order to abolish the alienation from culture of millions of the rural population, which Marx aptly described as “the idiocy of rural life”.[35] And at the present time, when it is possible to transmit electric power over long distances, when the technique of transport has been so greatly improved that it is possible at less cost (than at present) to carry passengers at a speed of more than 200 versts an hour,[36] there are absolutely no technical obstacles to the enjoyment of the treasures of science and art, which for centuries have been concentrated in a few centres, by the whole of the population spread more or less evenly over the entire country.

And if there is nothing to prevent the abolition of the antithesis between town and country (not be imagined, of course, as a single act but as a series of measures), it is not an “aesthetic sentiment” alone that demands it. In the big cities people suffocate with the fumes of their own excrement, to use Engels’ expression, and periodically all who can, flee from.the cities in search of fresh air and pure water.[37] Industry is also spreading over the countryside; for it, too, requires pure water. The exploitation of waterfalls, canals, and rivers to obtain electric power will give a fresh impetus to this “spreading out of industry”. Finally—last, but not least[These words are in English in the original.—Ed.]–the rational utilisation of city refuse in general, and human excrement in particular, so essential for agriculture, also calls for the abolition of the antithesis between town and country. It is against this point in the theory of Marx and Engels that the Critics decided to direct their agronomical arguments (the Critics preferred to refrain from fully analysing the theory, which is dealt with in great detail in Engels’ Anti-Dühring,[38] and, as usual, limited themselves simply to paraphrasing fragments of the thoughts of a Brentano). Their line of reasoning is as follows: Liebig proved that it is necessary to restore to the soil as much as is taken from it. He was therefore of the opinion that throwing city refuse into the seas and rivers was a stupid and barbarous waste of materials essential for agriculture. Kautsky agrees with Liebig’s theory. But modern agronomics has proved that it is quite possible to restore the productive forces of the soil without the use of stable manure, namely, by means of artificial fertilisers, by the inoculation of certain bacteria into leguminous plants which collect nitrates, etc. Consequently, Kautsky, and all those “orthodox” people, are simply behind the times.

Consequently—we reply—here, too, the Critics commit one of their innumerable and endless distortions. After explaining Liebig’s theory, Kautsky immediately showed that modern agronomics has proved that it is quite possible “to dispense altogether with stable manure” (Agrarfrage, S. 50; see passage quoted above), but added that this was merely a palliative compared with the waste of human excrement entailed by the present system of city sewage disposal. Now, if the Critics were at all capable of discussing the essential points of the question, this is the point they should have disproved; they should have shown that it is not a palliative. But they did not even think of doing so. Need less to say, the possibility of substituting artificial for natural manures and the fact that this is already being done (partly) do not in the least refute the irrationality of wasting natural fertilisers and thereby polluting the rivers and the air in suburban and factory districts. Even at the present time there are sewage farms in the vicinity of large cities which utilise city refuse with enormous benefit to agriculture; but by this system only an infinitesimal part of the refuse is utilised. To the objection that modern agronomics has refuted the argument that the cities agronomically exploit the countryside, with which the Critics present Kautsky as something new, he replies, on page 211 of his book, that artificial fertilisers “render it possible to avoid the diminution of soil fertility, but the necessity to employ them to an increasing extent merely indicates still another of the numerous burdens agriculture has to bear, which are by no means a natural necessity, but a product of existing social relations”.[39]

The words we have emphasised contain the “pivot” of the question which the Critics so zealously confuse. Writers like Mr. Bulgakov try to scare the proletariat with the bogy that the “grain question” is more terrible and important than the social question they are enthusiastic over birth control and argue that “control of the increase of the population” is becoming “the fundamental [sic!] economic condition” for the prosperity of the peasantry (II, 261), that this control is worthy of “respect”, and that “much hypocritical indignation [only hypocritical, not legitimate, indignation against the present social system?] is roused among sentimental [?!] moralists by the increase in births among the peasant population, as if unrestrained lust [sic!] were in itself a virtue” (ibid.). Such writers must naturally and inevitably strive to keep in the background the capitalist obstacles to agricultural progress, to throw the entire blame for everything upon the natural “law of diminishing returns”, and to present the idea of abolishing the antithesis between town and country as “pure fantasy”. But what utter irresponsibility the Chernovs betray when they repeat such arguments and at the same time reproach the Critics of Marxism for “lacking principles and for being eclectics and opportunists” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 11, p. 246)?! What spectacle could be more comical than that of Mr. Chernov reproving others for lack of principles and for opportunism.

All the other critical exploits of our Voroshilov are identical to what we have just examined.

Voroshilov assures us that Kautsky fails to understand the difference between capitalist credit and usury; that he betrays. utter failure, or unwillingness, to understand Marx, in maintaining that the peasant fulfils the functions of entrepreneur and, as such, stands in the same relation to the proletariat as the factory owner. Beating his breast, Voroshilov cries out: “I say this boldly because I feel [sic!] the ground firmly under my feet” (At the Glorious Post, p. 169). In all this, rest assured, Voroshilov is again hopelessly confusing things and boasting as usual. He “failed to see” the passages in Kautsky’s book that deal with usury as such (Agrarfrage, S. 11, 102-04, especially 118, 290-92), and with all his might forces an open door, shouting as usual about Kautsky’s “doctrinaire formalism”, “moral hard-heartedness”, “mockery at human sufferings”, and so forth. In regard to the peasant fulfilling the functions of entrepreneur, apparently this astonishingly complicated idea is beyond the scope of Voroshilov’s comprehension. In the next essay, however, we shall try to clarify this for him with very concrete examples.

When Voroshilov seeks to prove that he is a real representative of the “interests of labour” and abuses Kautsky for “driving from the ranks of the proletariat numerous genuine working people” (op. cit., p. 167), such as the Lumpen proletariat, domestic servants, handicraftsmen, etc., then the reader can be assured that Voroshilov is again muddling things together. Kautsky examines the distinguishing characteristics of the “modern proletariat” which created the modern “Social-Democratic proletarian movement” (Agrarfrage, S. 306); but to date the Voroshilovs have produced nothing to show that tramps, handicraftsmen, and domestic servants have created a Social-Democratic movement. The charge directed at Kautsky that he is capable of “driving” domestic servants (who in Germany are now beginning to join the movement), handicraftsmen, etc., from the ranks of the proletariat merely exposes to the full the impudence of the Voroshilovs; their display of friendship for the “genuine working people” increases as such phrases decrease in practical significance, and they can attack with greater impunity the second part of the Agrarian Question, which has been suppressed by the Russian censor. Speaking, incidentally, of impudence, there are some other gems. In praising Messrs. N.—on[40] and Kablukov, while completely ignoring the Marxist criticism directed against them, Mr. Chernov, with affected naiveté, asks: To whom do the German Social-Democrats refer when they speak of their Russian “comrades”? Let him who finds it hard to believe that such questions are asked in Russkoye Bogatstvo, turn to No. 7, p. 166.

When Voroshilov asserts that Engels’ “prediction” that the Belgian labour movement will prove barren owing to the influence of Proudhonism[41] “has been proved false”, then the reader may well know that Voroshilov, self-assured in his, shall we say, “irresponsibility”, is again distorting the facts. He writes: “It is not surprising that Belgium has never been orthodox Marxist, and it is not surprising that Engels, being displeased with her for that reason, predicted that the Belgian movement, owing to the influence of ’Proudhonist principles’, would pass ’von nichts durch nichts zu, nichts’.[42] Alas, this prediction has fallen through, and the breadth and many sidedness of the Belgian movement enable it to serve to day as a model from which many ’orthodox’ countries are learning a great deal” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, p. 234). The facts are as follows: In 1872 (seventy-two!), Engels was engaged in a polemic in the columns of the Social-Democratic paper Volksstaat[43] with the German Proudhonist Mülberger; to deflate the exaggerated importance attached to Proudhonism, he wrote: “The only country where the working-class movement is directly under the influence of Proudhonist ’principles’ is Belgium, and precisely as a result of this the Belgian movement comes, as Hegel would say, ’from nothing through nothing to nothing’.”[44]

Thus, it is positively untrue to say that Engels “predicted” or “prophesied” anything. He merely spoke of the facts as they were, i.e., the situation that existed in 1872. And it is an undoubted historical fact that at that time the Belgian movement was marking time precisely because of the predominance of Proudhonism, whose leaders were opposed to collectivism and repudiated independent proletarian political action. Only in 1879 was a “Belgian Socialist Party” formed; and only from that time onwards was the campaign for universal suffrage conducted, marking the victory of Marxism over Proudhonism (the recognition of the political struggle of the proletariat organised in an independent class party) and the beginning of the pronounced successes of the movement. In its present programme the “Belgian Labour Party” has adopted all the fundamental ideas of Marxism (apart from certain minor points). In 1887, in a preface to the second edition of his articles on the housing question, Engels laid special emphasis on the “gigantic progress the international working-class movement has made during the past fourteen years”. This progress, he writes, is largely due to the elimination of Proudhonism, which predominated at that time and which now has been almost forgotten. “In Belgium,” Engels observes, “the Flemings have ousted the Walloons from the leadership of the movement, deposed [abgesetzt] Proudhonism, and greatly raised the level of the movement” (preface, p. 4. of the same pamphlet).[45] Russkoye Bogatstvo’s description of the facts is a veritable paragon of fidelity!

When Voroshilov ... but enough! Of course, we cannot hope to keep up with this legally published magazine, which is able with impunity, month after month, to give vent to a flood of falsehood about “orthodox” Marxism.

V. “The Prosperity of Advanced, Modern Small Farms”. The Baden Example[46][edit source]

Details, details! cries Mr. Bulgakov in Nachalo (No. 1, pp. 7 and 13); and this slogan is repeated a hundred times in a hundred different sharps and flats by all the “Critics”.

Very well, gentlemen, let us examine the details.

It was utterly absurd of you to direct this slogan at Kautsky, since the principal task of a scientific study of the agrarian question, which is encumbered with a countless number of disconnected details, was to present a general picture of the whole of the modern agrarian system in its development. Your slogan merely concealed your lack of scientific principle and your opportunistic dread of any integral and well thought-out philosophy. Had you not read Kautsky’s book in the manner of a Voroshilov, you would have been able to derive from it a great deal of information on handling and assimilating detailed statistics. And that you are unable to operate with detailed statistics we shall now demonstrate by a number of examples chosen by yourselves.

In his article entitled “Peasant Barbarians”, directed against Kautsky and published in the magazine of the Voroshilovs, Sozialistische (??) Monatshefte (III. Jahrg., 1899, Heft 2), Eduard David triumphantly refers to “one of the most thorough and interesting monographs” on peasant farming that have appeared recently, namely, that of Moritz Hecht, entitled Drei Dörfer der badischen Hard [Three Villages in the Hard of Baden.—Ed.] (Leipzig, 1895). Hertz clutched at this reference and, following David, cited some figures from this “excellent work” (S. 68, Russian translation, p. 164) and “strongly recommended” (S. 79, Russian translation, p. 188) the reading of the original or of the passage given by David. Mr. Chernov, in Russkoye Bogatstvo, hastened to repeat both David and Hertz, and contrasted to Kautsky’s statements Hecht’s “striking pictures of the prosperity of advanced, modern small farms” (No. 8, pp. 206-09).

Let us then turn to Hecht.

Hecht describes three Baden villages located at distances ranging from four to fourteen kilometres from Karlsruhe: Hagsfeld, Blankenloch, and Friedrichsthal. Although the farms are small, from one to three hectares, the peasants lead a prosperous and cultured life and gather an exceptionally large yield from their land. David (followed by Chernov) compares this yield with the average yield for the whole of Germany (in double centners per hectare: potatoes, 150-160 and 87.8; rye and wheat, 20-23 and 10-13; hay, 50-60 and 28.6) and exclaims: What do you think of that as an example of “backward small peasants”! In the first place, we reply, insofar as no comparison is made between small—and large-scale farming conducted under the same conditions, it is absurd to view this as an argument against Kautsky. Mr. Chernov appears even more absurd when he asserts, in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 8, p. 229, that “Kautsky’s rudimentary view [regarding the agronomic exploitation of the village by the town] even exaggerates the shady aspects of capitalism”, and when he cites, on page 209 of the same issue, as an argument against Kautsky, an instance in which this capitalist obstacle to the progress of agriculture is eliminated by the fact that the villages he selects are situated in proximity to towns. While the overwhelming majority of the agricultural population lose an enormous quantity of natural fertilisers as a result of the depopulation of the rural districts by capitalism and the concentration of the population in the cities, an insignificant minority of suburban peasants obtain special benefits from their situation and become rich at the expense of the impoverishment of the masses. It is not surprising that the yield in the villages described is so high, considering that they spend the sum of 41,000 marks annually on manure from the army stables in the three neighbouring garrison towns (Karlsruhe, Bruchsal, and Durlach) and on liquid refuse from the urban drainage systems (Hecht, S. 65); artificial fertilisers are purchased only to the amount of 7,000 marks annually.[47] To attempt to refute the technical superiority of large-scale over small-scale farming by adducing instances of small farms operating under such conditions means merely to expose one’s impotence. Secondly, to what extent do these instances really represent “genuine small peasants”, echte und rechte Kleinbauem, as David says, and as Hertz and Chernov repeat after him? They mention only the area of the farms, and in this way prove only their inability to handle detailed statistics. As everyone knows, a hectare of land is to a suburban peasant what ten hectares are to a peasant living in a remote district; moreover, the very type of farms undergoes radical change because of the proximity of towns. Thus, the price of land in Friedrichsthal, the village which has the least land, but which is the most prosperous of the suburban villages, ranges from 9,000 to 10,000 marks, live times the average price of land in Baden (1,938 marks), and about twenty times the price in remote districts in East Prussia. Consequently, judged by the size of output (the only exact index of the size of a farm), these are by no means “small” peasants. In regard to the type of farming, we see here a remarkably high stage of development of money economy and the specialisation of agriculture, which is particularly emphasised by Hecht. They cultivate tobacco (45 per cent of the area under cultivation in Friedrichsthal) and high grades of potatoes (used partly for seed and partly for the table of the “gentry”—Hecht, S. 17—in Karlsruhe); they sell milk, butter, sucking-pigs, and grown pigs to the capital, and them selves buy grain and hay. Agriculture here has assumed a completely commercial character, and the peasant who conducts his farm in the neighbourhood of the capital is the purest type of petty bourgeois; so that, had Mr. Chernov really familiarised himself with the details he borrows from others, he might have acquired some understanding of this category of “petty-bourgeois” peasant which is to him so mysterious (see Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 7, p. 163). It is most curious that both Hertz and Mr. Chernov, while declaring that they are totally unable to understand how the peasant fulfils the functions of an entrepreneur, how he is able to figure as a worker at one moment and as an entrepreneur at another, refer to the detailed investigation of an author who says bluntly: “The peasant of the eighteenth century, with his eight-to-ten hectares of land, was a peasant [“was a peasant”, Mr. Chernov!] and a manual labourer; the dwarf peasant of the nineteenth century, with his one or two hectares of land, is a brainworker, an entrepreneur and a merchant” (Hecht, S. 69; cf. S. 12: “The farmer has become a merchant and an entrepreneur.” Hecht’s italics). Well, have not Hertz and Mr. Chernov “annihilated” Kautsky in the Voroshilov manner for confusing the peasant with the entrepreneur?

The clearest indication of the “entrepreneur” is his employment of wage-labour. It is highly characteristic that not one of the quasi-socialists who referred to Hecht’s work uttered a single word about that fact. Hecht, a most typical Kleinbürger of the ultra-loyal type, who waxes enthusiastic. over the piety of the peasants and the “paternal solicitude” shown them by the Grand Duchy officials in general, and over their adoption of such an “important” measure as, in particular, the establishment of cookery schools, naturally tries to obscure those facts and to show that no “social gulf” separates the rich from the poor, the peasant from the agricultural labourer, or the peasant from the factory worker. “No agricultural day-labourer category exists,” writes Hecht. “The majority of the peasants are able to cultivate their land themselves, with the help of their families; only a few in those three villages experience the need for outside help during the harvest or at threshing time; such families ’request’ [’bitten’], to employ the local expression, certain men or women, who would never dream of calling themselves ’day-labourers’, ’to help them’" (S. 31). There is nothing surprising in the fact that only a few farmers in the three villages mentioned hire day-labourers, because many “farmers”, as we shall see, are factory workers. What proportion of pure farmers employ hired labour Hecht does not say; he prefers to pack his candidate’s thesis (the Germans call it doctoral dissertation), which is devoted only to three villages (of one of which he is a native), not with exact statistics concerning the various categories of peasants, but with reflections on the high moral significance of diligence and thrift. (Notwithstanding this, or perhaps because of it, Hertz and David extol Hecht’s work to the skies.) All we learn is that the wages of day-labourers are lowest in the most prosperous and purely agricultural village, Friedrichsthal, which is farthest away from Karlsruhe (14 kilometres). In Friedrichsthal, a day-labourer gets two marks a day, paying for his own keep, while in Ragsfeld (4 kilometres from Karlsruhe and inhabited by factory workers) the wages of a day-labourer are three marks a day. Such is one of the conditions of the “prosperity” of the “real small peasants” so much admired by the Critics. “In those three villages,” Hecht informs us, “purely patriarchal relations still exist between the masters and their servants [Gesinde in German means both domestic servants and farm labourers]. The ’master’, i.e., the peasant with three to four hectares of land, addresses his men and women labourers as ’thou’ and calls them by their forenames; they call the peasant ’uncle’ [Vetter] and the peasant’s wife ’auntie’ [Base], and address them as ’you’.... The labourers eat at the family table and are regarded as members of the family” (S. 93). Our “most thorough” Hecht says nothing about the extent to which hired labour is employed in tobacco growing, which is so widely developed in that district and which requires a particularly large number of labourers; but since he has said at least something about wage-labour, even this very loyal little bourgeois must be regarded as being much better able to handle the “details” of a research than the Voroshilovs of “critical” socialism.

Thirdly, Hecht’s research was used to refute the fact that the peasantry suffers from overwork and undernourishment. But here it turns out that the Critics preferred to ignore facts of the kind mentioned by Hecht. They cleverly utilised that conception of the “middle” peasant by means of which both the Russian Narodniks and the West-European bourgeois economists so extensively idealise the “peasantry”. Speaking “generally”, the peasants in the three villages mentioned are very prosperous; but even from Hecht’s far from thorough monograph it is apparent that in this respect the peasants must be divided into three large groups. About one-fourth (or 30 per cent) of the farmers (the majority in Friedrichsthal and a few in Blankenloch) are prosperous petty bourgeois, who have grown rich as a result of living in the vicinity of the capital. They engage in remunerative dairy farming (selling 10-20 litres of milk a day) and tobacco growing (one example: gross income of 1,825 marks from 1.05 hectares of land under tobacco), fatten pigs for sale (in Friedrichsthal, 497 out of 1,140 inhabitants keep pigs; in Blankenloch, 445 out of 1,684; and in Hagsfeld, 220 out of 1,273 inhabitants), etc. This minority (who alone possess all the features of “prosperity” so much admired by the Critics) are without doubt quite frequent employers of hired labour. In the next group, to which the majority of farmers in Blankenloch belong, standards are very much lower, less fertilisers is used, the yield is lower, there is less livestock (in Friedrichsthal, the number of livestock, expressed in terms of cattle, is 599 head on 258 hectares; in Blankenloch, 842 head on 736 hectares; and in Hagsfeld, 324 head on 397 hectares); “parlours” are more rarely seen in the houses, meat is far from being a daily fare, and many families practise (what is so familiar to us Russians) the selling of grain in the autumn—when they are hard pressed for money—and the re-purchasing of grain in the spring.[48] In this group, the centre of gravity is constantly shifting from agriculture to industry, and 103 Blankenloch peasants are already employed as factory workers in Karlsruhe. These, together with almost the entire population of Hagsfeld, form the third category (40-50 per cent of the total number of farms). In this category, agriculture is a side line in which mostly women are engaged. The standard of living is higher than in Blankenloch (the result of the influence of the capital city), but poverty is strongly felt. The peasants sell their milk and for themselves sometimes purchase “cheaper margarine” (S. 24). The number of goats kept is rapidly increasing: from nine in 1855 to ninety-three in 1893. “This increase,” writes Hecht, “can be explained only by the disappearance of farms that are strictly speaking peasant farms, and the break-up [Auflösung] of the peasant class into a class of rural factory workers possessing extremely small plots of land” (S. 27). Parenthetically, it should be said that between 1882 and 1895 the number of goats in Germany increased enormously: from 2,400,000 to 3,100,000, which clearly reveals the reverse of the progress of the “sturdy peasantry” which the Bulgakovs and the petty-bourgeois socialist “Critics” laud to the skies. The majority of the workers walk three and a half kilometres every day to their factory in the town, because they cannot afford to spend even one mark (48 kopeks) a week on railway fares. Nearly 150 workers out of the 300 in Hagsfeld find it beyond their means to pay even 40 or 50 pfennigs for dinner in the “public dining- room” and have their dinners brought to them from home. “Punctually at eleven o’clock,” writes Hecht, “the poor womenfolk put the dinners in their pots and carry them to the factory” (S. 79). As for the working women, they, too, work at the factory ten hours a day, and all they receive for their toil is from 1.10 to 1.50 marks (the men receive 2.50 to 2.70 marks); at piece-work they earn from 1.70 to 2.00 marks. “Some of the working women try to supplement their meagre wages by some auxiliary employment. In Blankenloch four girls work at the paper mill in Karlsruhe, and they take home paper to make bags at night. Working from eight p. m. to eleven p. m. [sic!], they can make 300 bags, for which they receive 45-50 pfennigs; this supplement to their small daily earnings goes to pay their railway fares to and from work. In Hagsfeld, several women who worked in factories as girls earn a little extra money polishing silverware on winter evenings” (S. 36). “The Hagsfeld worker,” says Hecht, moved, “has a permanent residence not by imperial order, but as a result of his own efforts; he has a little house which he is not compelled to share with others, and a small plot of land. But more important than these real possessions is the consciousness that they have been acquired by his own diligence. The Hagsfeld worker is both a factory worker and a peasant. Those with no land of their own rent at least a few strips to supplement their income by working in their spare time. In the summer, when work in the factory starts only [“only”!] at seven o’clock, the worker rises at four in order to hoe potatoes in his field, or to carry fodder to the cattle. Or when he returns from work at seven in the evening, what is there for him to do, especially in the summer? Well, he puts in an hour or an hour and a half in his field; he does not want a high rent from his land—he merely wants to make full use [sic!] of his labour-power...." Hecht goes on at great length in this unctuous strain and concludes his book with the words: “The dwarf peasant and the factory worker have both [sic!] raised themselves to the position of the middle class, not as a result of artificial and coercive measures, but as a result of their own diligence, their own energy, and the higher morality they have reached.”[49]

“The three villages of the Baden Hard now represent one great and broad middle class” (Hecht’s italics).

There is nothing astonishing in the fact that Hecht writes, in this vein, for he is a bourgeois apologist of the common or garden variety. But what name do those people deserve who, to deceive others, call themselves socialists, who paint reality in still brighter colours than does Hecht, point to the prosperity of the bourgeois minority as general progress, and conceal the proletarisation of the majority with the stale shibboleth “unification of agriculture and industry”?

VI. The Productivity of a Small And a Big Farm. An Example From East Prussia[edit source]

For a change let us go from distant South Germany to East Prussia, nearer to Russia. We have before us a highly instructive and detailed investigation of which Mr. Bulgakov, who clamours so loudly for details, has been totally unable to make use. “A comparison of the data on the real productivity of large and small farms,” writes Mr. Bulgakov, “cannot provide an answer to the question of their technical advantages, since the farms compared may be operating under different economic conditions. The most that can be obtained from such data is the factual confirmation of the negative conclusion that large-scale production possesses no technical advantages over small-scale production, not only theoretically, but, under certain conditions, also practically. Quite a few comparisons of this kind have been made in economic literature, at all events sufficient to undermine the belief of the unbiased and unprejudiced reader in the advantages of large-scale production generally” (I, 57-58). In a footnote the author cites two instances. The first is Auhagen’s work, quoted by Kautsky in his Agrarfrage (S. Ill), as well as by Hertz (S. 69, Russian translation, p. 166), in which a comparison is made only between two farms in Hanover, one of 4.6 hectares and one of 26.5 hectares. In this example, the small farm has a higher yield per hectare than the large one, and Auhagen determined the income of the small farm to be higher than that of the large farm. Kautsky, however, has shown that this higher income is the result of under-consumption. Hertz attempted to refute this evidence, but with his usual success. Since Hertz’ work has now been translated into Russian, while Kautsky’s reply to Hertz is unknown in Russia, we shall, very briefly, give the substance of this reply (in the cited article in Neue Zeit). Hertz, as usual, distorted Kautsky’s arguments and alleged that he referred only to the fact that the owner of the big farm is able to send his son to the Gymnasium. In actuality, Kautsky mentioned this merely to illustrate the standard of living, and had Hertz quoted in full the budgets of the two families in question (each consisting of five persons), he would have obtained the following figures: 1,158.40 marks for the small farm and 2,739.25 marks for the large farm. If the family of the small farm lived on the same standard as that of the large farm, the small farm would prove less profitable than the large one. Auhagen estimates the income of the small farm at 1,806 marks, i.e., 5.45 per cent of the capital invested (33,651 marks), and that of the large farm at 2,720 marks, or 1.82 per cent of the capital invested (149,559 marks). If we make allowance for the under-consumption of the small farmer, we shall find that his income is equal to 258 marks, or 0.80 per cent! And this, when the amount of labour involved is disproportionately high: on the small farm there are three workers to 4.6 hectares, that is, one worker to 1.5 hectares, while on the large farm there are eleven (see Hertz, S. 75, Russian translation, p. 179) to 26.5 hectares, that is one worker to 2.4 hectares. Furthermore, we shall not dwell on the circumstance, justly ridiculed by Kautsky, that the alleged socialist Hertz compares the labour of the children of modern peasants to Ruth’s[50] gleaning! Mr. Bulgakov confines himself merely to presenting the figures of the yield per hectare, but says not a word about the respective standards of living of the small and big farmers.

“We find another example,” continues our advocate of details, “in the latest researches of Karl Klawki (Ueber Kon kurrenzfähigkeit des landwirtschaftlichen Kleinbetriebs. Thiel’s Landwirtschaftliche Jahrbücher, 1899, Heft 3-4).[51] His examples are taken from East Prussia. The author compares large, medium, and small farms by taking four of each kind. The specific feature of his comparisons is, first, the fact that expenditure and income are expressed in money, and, secondly, the fact that the author translates the cost of labour-power on the small farms, where it is not purchased, into money and places it to the expenditure account; such a method is hardly correct for our purpose [sic! Mr. Bulgakov forgets to add that Klawki translates the cost of labour on all the farms into money and from the outset values the labour on the small farms at a lower rate!]. Nevertheless, we have...." There follows a table which for the moment we shall merely summarise: the average net profit per morgen ( = 1/4 hectare) on the large farm is ten marks, on the medium farm, eighteen marks, on the small farm, twelve marks. And Mr. Bulgakov concludes: “The highest profits are obtained on the medium farms; then come the small farms, while the large farms lag behind the others.”

We have seen fit to quote the entire passage in which Mr. Bulgakov compares the large and small farms. Now let us consider what is evidenced by Klawki’s interesting work, 120 pages of which are devoted to a description of twelve typical farms existing under equal conditions. In the first place, we shall cite the statistics pertaining to these farms, and in the interest of space and clarity we shall confine ourselves to the average figures for the large, medium, and small farms (the average size of the farms in each category being 358, 50, and 5 hectares respectively).

Category of farmsIncome and expenditure per morgen in marks

(1 morgen = 14 hectare)

Expenditure per 100 marks of produce[52]Per 100 Morgan
Total IncomeIncome from the

sale of produce

Consumption of

own produce

Agri- cul- tureStock farm- ingTotalAgri- cul- tureStock farm- ingTotalAgri- cul- tureStock farm- ingTotalIn- comeEx- pen- sesNet pro- fitMarksHired work- daysTotal work- days

It would appear, therefore, that all Mr. Bulgakov’s conclusions are fully confirmed by Klawki’s work: the smaller the farm, the higher the gross income and the higher even the income from sales per morgen! We think that with the methods employed by Klawki—widely employed methods, in their main features common to all bourgeois and petty-bourgeois economists—the superiority of small-scale farming in all or nearly all cases is proved. Consequently, the essential thing in this matter, which the Voroshilovs completely fail to see, is to analyse those methods, and it is for this reason that Klawki’s partial researches are of such enormous general interest.

Let us start with the yields. It turns out that the yield of the great majority of cereals regularly and very considerably diminishes with the diminution of the area of the farms. The yield (in centners per morgen) on the large, medium, and small farms respectively is: wheat 8.7, 7.3, 6.4; rye 9.9, 8.7, 7.7; barley 9.4, 7.1, 6.5; oats 8.5, 8.7, 8.0; peas 8.0, 7.7, 9.2;[53] potatoes 63, 55, 42; mangels 190, 156, 117. Only of flax, not grown on the large farms, do the small farms (3 out of 4) gather a bigger yield than the medium farms (2 out of 4), namely, 6.2 Stein (=18.5 pounds) as against 5.5.

To what is the higher yield on the large farms due? Klawki ascribes decisive importance to the following four causes: (1) Drainage is almost entirely absent on the small farms, and even where it exists the drain pipes are laid by the farmer himself and laid badly. (2) The small farmers do not plough their land deep enough, their horses being weak. (3) Most often the small farmers are unable to give their cattle sufficient fodder. (4) The small farmers have inferior manure, their straw is shorter, it is largely used as fodder (which also means that the feed is inferior), and less straw is used for bedding.

Thus, the small farmers’ cattle is weaker and inferior, and is kept in a worse condition. This circumstance explains the strange and glaring phenomenon that, notwithstanding the higher yield per morgen on the large farms, income from agriculture per morgen, according to Klawki’s computations, is less on the large than on the medium and small farms. The reason for this is that Klawki does not include fodder, either in disbursement or in income. In this way, things that in reality make for an essential difference between the large and small farms, a difference unfavourable to the latter, are artificially and falsely equated. By this method of computation large-scale farming appears to be less remunerative than small-scale farming, because a larger portion of the land of the large farms is devoted to the cultivation of fodder (although the large farms keep a much smaller number of cattle per unit of land), whereas the small farmers “make shift” with straw for fodder. Consequently, the “superiority"of small- scale farming lies in its wasteful exploitation of the land (by inferior fertilisation) and of the cattle (by inferior fodder). Needless to say, such a comparison of the profitableness of different farms lacks all scientific value.[54]

Another reason for the higher yield on large farms is that a larger number of the big farmers (and apparently, even, almost they alone) marl the soil, utilise larger quantities of artificial fertilisers (the expenditure per morgen being: 0.81 marks, 0.38 marks, and 0.43 marks respectively) and Kraftfuttermittel[55] (in large farms two marks per morgen, and in the others nil). “Our peasant farms,” says Klawki, who includes the medium farms in the category of large peas ant farms, “spend nothing on Kraftfuttermittel. They are very slow to adopt progressive methods and are particularly chary of spending cash” (Klawki, op. cit., 461). The large farms are superior also in the method of cultivating the soil: we observe improved crop rotation on all four of the large farms, on three of the medium farms (on one the old three- field system is used), and only on one of the small farms (on the other three the three-field system is used). Finally, the big farmers use machinery to a far greater extent. True, Klawki himself is of the opinion that machinery is of no great consequence, but we shall not be satisfied with that “opinion”; we shall examine the statistics. The following eight kinds of machines—steam threshers, horse threshers, grain-sorting machines, sifters, seed-drills, manure spreaders, horse-drawn rakes, and rollers—are distributed among the farms described, as follows: on the four large farms, twenty nine (including one steam thresher); on the four medium farms, eleven (not a single steam-driven machine); and on the four small farms, one machine (a horse-driven thresher). Of course, no “opinion” of any admirer of peasant farming can make us believe that grain-sorting machines, seed-drills, rollers, etc., do not affect the size of the crop. Incidentally, we have here data on machines belonging to certain definite owners, unlike the general run of German statistics, which register only cases of the use of machines, whether owned or hired. Obviously, such a registration will also have the effect of minimising the superiority of large-scale farming and of obscuring forms of “borrowing” machines, like the following described by Klawki: “The big farmer willingly lends the small farmer his roller, horse rake, and grain-sorting machine, if the latter promises to supply a man to do the mowing for him in the busy season” (443). Consequently, a certain number of the cases in which machines are employed on small farms, which, as we have shown, are rare, represent a transmuted form of acquiring labour-power.

To continue. Another case of erroneous comparison of obviously unequal quantities is Klawki’s method of computing the price of the product on the market as being equal for all categories of farms. Instead of taking actual transactions, the author takes as a basis an assumption that be himself points to as incorrect. The peasants sell most of their grain in their own locality, and merchants in small towns force down prices very considerably. “The large estates are better off in this respect, for they can send grain to the principal city in the province in considerable quantities. In doing so, they usually receive from 20 to 30 pfennigs more per centner than they could get in the small town” (373). The big farmers are better able to assess the value of their grain (451), and they sell it, not by measure, as the peasants do to their disadvantage, but by weight. Similarly, the big farmers sell their cattle by weight, whereas the price of the peasants’ cattle is fixed simply on the basis of outer appearance. The big farmers can also make better arrangements for selling their dairy products, for they can send their milk to the towns and obtain a higher price than the middle farmers, who convert their milk into butter and sell it to merchants. Moreover, the butter produced on the medium farms is superior to that produced on the small farms (use of separators, daily churning, and so forth), and the latter get from five to ten pfennigs per pound less. The small farmers have to sell their fat stock sooner (i.e., less matured) than the middle farmers, because they have a smaller supply of fodder (444). Klawki, in his monograph, leaves out of his calculations all these advantages—in their totality by no means unimportant—which the large farms possess as sellers, just as the theoreticians who admire small-scale farming leave out this fact and refer to the possibility of improving matters by means of co-operation. We do not wish to confound the realities of capitalism with the possibilities of a petty-bourgeois co-operative paradise. Below we shall bring forward facts showing who really derives the most advantage out of co-operatives.

Let us note that Klawki “is not concerned with” the labour of the small and middle farmers themselves in draining the soil and in all kinds of repair work (“the peasants do the work themselves”), and so forth. The socialist calls this “advantage” enjoyed by the small farmer Ueberarbeit, overwork, and the bourgeois economist refers to it as one of the advantageous aspects (“for society”!) of peasant farming. Let us note that, as Klawki points out, the hired labourers get better pay and food on the medium farms than on the large farms, but they work harder: the “example” set by the farmer stimulates “greater diligence and thoroughness” (465). Which of these two capitalist masters—the landlord or his “own kind”, the peasant—squeezes more work out of the labourer for the given wages, Klawki does not attempt to determine. We shall therefore confine ourselves to stating that the expenditure of the big farmers on accident and old-age insurance for their labourers amounts to 0.29 marks per morgen and that of the middle farmer to 0.13 marks (the small farmer here, too, enjoys an advantage in that he does not insure himself at all; needless to say, to the “great advantage of the society” of capitalists and landlords). We shall also bring an example from Russian agricultural capitalism. The reader who is familiar with Shakhovskoi’s work Outside Agricultural Employment will probably remember the following characteristic observation: The Russian homestead farmers and the German colonists (in the south) “pick” their labourers, pay them from 15 to 20 per cent more than do the big employers and squeeze 50 per cent more work out of them. This was reported by Shakhovskoi in 1896; this year we read in Torgovo-Promyshlennaya Gazeta, [Commercial and Industrial Gazette.—Tr.] for instance, the following communication from Kakhovka: "...The peasants and homestead farmers, as is the custom, paid higher wages (than those paid on the big estates), for they demand better workers and those possessing the greatest endurance” (No. 109, May 16, 1901). There are hardly grounds for assuming that this condition is characteristic of Russia alone.

In the table given above the reader saw two methods of computation—one that takes into account the money value of the farmer’s labour-power, and one that does not. Mr. Bulgakov considers that to include this money value “is hardly correct”. Of course, a precise budget of the farmers’ and labourers’ expenditure, in money and in kind, would be far more correct; but since we lack these data, we are obliged to make an approximate estimate of the family’s money expenditure. The manner in which Klawki makes this approximation is extremely interesting. The big estate-owners do not work themselves, of course; they even have special salaried managers who carry out all the work of direction and supervision (of four estates, three are supervised by managers and one is not; Klawki would consider it more correct to classify this last estate, consisting of 125 hectares, as a large peasant estate). Klawki “assigns” to the owners of two large estates 2,000 marks per annum each “for their labour” (which on the first estate, for instance, consists of leaving the principal estate once a month for a few days’ check-up on the manager’s work). To the account of the farmer of 125 hectares (the first-mentioned estate consisted of 513 hectares) he “assigns” only 1,900 marks for the work of the farmer himself and of his three sons. Is it not “natural” that a farmer with a smaller amount of land should “make shift” with a smaller budget? Klawki allows the middle farmers from 1,200 to 1,716 marks for the labour of the husband and wife, and in three cases also of the children. To the small farmers he allows from 800 to 1,000 marks for the work of four to five (sic!) persons, i.e., a little more (if more at all) than a labourer, an Instmann, gets, who with his family earns only from 800 to 900 marks. Thus, we observe here another big step forward: first, a comparison is made between figures that are obviously uncomparable; now it is declared that the standard of living must decline with the diminution in the size of the farm. But that means the a priori recognition of the fact that capitalism degrades the small peasants, a fact ostensibly to have been refuted by the computations of the “net profit”!

And if, by the author’s assumption, the money income diminishes with the diminution in the size of the farm, the drop in consumption is evident by direct data. Consumption of agricultural products on the farms amounts to the following per person (counting two children as one adult): large farm, 227 marks (average of two figures); medium farm, 218 marks (average of four figures); small farm, 135 (sic!) marks (average of four figures). And the larger the farm, the larger is the quantity of additional food products purchased (S. 453). Klawki himself observes that here it is necessary to raise the question of Unterkonsumption (under-consumption), which Mr. Bulgakov denied, and which here he preferred to ignore, thus proving to be even more of an apologist than Klawki. Klawki seeks to minimise the significance of this fact. “Whether there is any under-consumption among the small farmers or not, we cannot say,” he states, “but we think it is probable in the case of small farm IV [97 marks per head]. The fact is that the small peasants live very frugally [!] and sell much of what they, so to speak, save out of their mouths” (sick sozusagen vom Munde absparen).[56] He attempts to prove that this fact does not refute the higher “productivity” of small-scale farming. If consumption were increased to 170 marks, which is quite adequate (for the “younger brother”,[57] but not for the capitalist. farmer, as we see), the figure for consumption per morgen would have to be increased and the income from sales reduced by six or seven marks. If this amount is subtracted (see table above), we get from 29 to 30 marks, i.e., a sum still larger than that obtained on the large. farms (S. 453). But if we increase consumption, not to this haphazardly-taken figure (and a low one at that, because “he’ll manage somehow”), but to 218 marks (equal to the actual figure on the medium farms), the income from the sale of products will drop on the small farms to 20 marks per morgen, as against 29 marks on the medium farms, and 25 marks on the large farms. That is to say, the correction of this one error (of the numerous errors indicated above) in Klawki’s computations destroys all the “advantages” of the small peasant.

But Klawki is untiring in his quest of advantages. The small peasants “combine agriculture with industrial occupations”: three small peasants (out. of four) “diligently work as day-labourers and receive board in addition to their pay” (435). But the advantages of small-scale farming are particularly marked during periods of crisis (as Russian readers have long known from the numerous exercises on this theme on the part of the Narodniks, now rehashed by the Chernovs): “During agricultural crises, as well as at other times, it is the small farms that possess the greatest stability, they are able to sell a relatively larger quantity of products than the other categories of farms by severely curtailing domestic expenses, which, it is true, must lead to a certain amount of under-consumption” (479—Klawki’s last conclusions; cf. S. 464). “Unfortunately, many small farms are reduced to this by the high rates of interest on loans. But in this way, although with great effort, they are able to keep on their feet and eke out a livelihood. Probably, it is the great diminution in consumption that chiefly explains the increase in the number of small peasant farms in our locality indicated in the statistics of the Empire.” And Klawki adduces figures for the Königsberg Regierungsbezirk, [Königsberg Administrative Area.—Ed.] where in the period between 1882 and 1895 the number of farms under two hectares increased from 56,000 to 79,000, those from two to five hectares from 12,000 to 14,000, and those from five to twenty hectares from 16,000 to 19,000. This is in East Prussia, the very place in which the Bulgakovs claim to see the “elimination” of large-scale by small-scale production. And yet the gentlemen who give the bare statistics of the area of farms in this Suzdal[58] fashion clamour for “details”! Naturally, Klawki considers that “the most important task of modern agrarian policy for the solution of the agricultural labourer problem in the East is to encourage the most efficient labourers to settle down by affording them the opportunity of acquiring a piece of land as their own property, if not in the first, then at least in the second [sic!] generation” (476). It doesn’t matter that the Instleute who purchase a plot of land out of their savings “in the majority of cases prove to be worse off financially; they are fully aware of this themselves, but they are tempted by the greater freedom”, and the main task of bourgeois political economy (now, apparently, of the “Critics” also) is to foster this illusion among the most backward section of the proletariat.

Thus, on every point Klawki’s inquiry refutes Mr. Bulgakov, who referred to Klawki. This inquiry demonstrates the technical superiority of large-scale production in agriculture, the overwork and under-consumption of the small peasant and his transformation into a regular or day-labourer for the landlord; it proves that there is a connection be tween the increase in the number of small peasant farms and the growth of poverty and proletarisation. Two conclusions that follow from this inquiry are of exceptional significance from the point of view of principle. First, we see clearly the obstacle to the introduction of machinery in agriculture: the abysmal degradation of the small farmer, who is ready to “leave out of account” his own toil and who makes manual labour cheaper for the capitalist than machinery. Mr. Bulgakov’s assertions notwithstanding, the facts prove incontestably that under the capitalist system the position of the small peasant in agriculture is in every way analogous to that of the handicraftsman in industry. Mr. Bulgakov’s assertions notwithstanding, we see in agriculture a still further diminution in consumption and a still further intensification of labour employed as methods of competing with large-scale production. Secondly, in regard to every manner of comparison between t.he remunerativeness of small and large farms, we must once and for all declare as absolutely useless and vulgarly apologetic any conclusion that leaves out of account the following three circumstances: (1) How does the farmer eat, live, and work? (2) How are the cattle kept and worked? (3) How is the land fertilised, and is it exploited in a rational manner? Small-scale farming manages to exist by methods of sheer waste—waste of the farmer’s labour and vital energy, waste of strength and quality of the cattle, and waste of the productive capacities of the land. Consequently, any inquiry that fails to examine these circumstances thoroughly is nothing more nor less than bourgeois sophistry.[59]

It is not surprising, therefore, that the “theory” of the overwork and under-consumption of the small peasants in modern society has been so severely attacked by Messrs. the Critics. In Nachalo (No. 1., p. 10) Mr. Bulgakov “undertook” to give any number of “citations” disproving Kautsky’s assertions. From the studies of the League for Social and Political Questions,[60] Bäuerliche Zustände (Conditions of the Peasantry), repeats Mr. Bulgakov, “Kautsky, in his attempt to galvanise the corpse [sic!] of the obsolete dogma back to life, selected certain facts showing the depressed condition of peasant farming, which is quite understandable at the present time. Let the reader look for himself; he will find evidence there of a somewhat different character” (II, 282). Let us “look” for ourselves and verify the quotations given by this strict scientist, who, in part, merely repeats Hertz’ quotations (S. 77, Russian translation, p. 183).

“From Eisenach comes evidence of improvements in stock-breeding, in soil fertilisation, evidence of the use of machinery, and in general of progress in agricultural production.... We turn to the article on Eisenach (Bäuerliche Zustände, I. Band). The condition of the owners of less than five hectares (of which there are 887 out of the 1,116 farms in this district) “is, in general, not very favourable” (66). “Insofar as they can work for the big farmers as reapers, day-labourers, etc., their condition is relatively good...” (67). Generally speaking, important technological progress has been made in the past twenty years, but “much is left to be desired, particularly in regard to the smaller farms...” (72). “...the smaller farmers sometimes employ weak cows for field work....” Subsidiary earnings derive from tree felling and carting firewood; the latter “takes the farmers away from agriculture” and leads to “worsened conditions...” (69). “Nor does tree felling provide adequate earnings, in some districts the small landowners [Grundstücksbesitzer] engage in weaving, which is miserably [leidlich] paid. In isolated cases work is obtained at cigar-making at home. Generally speaking, there is a shortage of subsidiary earnings..." (73). And the author, Ökonomie Commissar Dittenberger, concludes with the remark that, in view of their “simple lives” and their “modest requirements”, the peasants are strong and healthy, which “is astonishing, considering the low nutritive value of the food consumed by the poorest class, among whom potatoes are the principal item of fare...” (74).

That is how the “learned” Voroshilovs refute the “obsolete Marxist prejudice that peasant farming is incapable of technological progress”!

In regard to the Kingdom of Saxony, General Secretary Langsdorff says that in whole districts, particularly in the more fertile localities, there is now hardly any difference in intensiveness of cultivation between the large and the small estates”. That is how Kautsky is refuted by the Austrian Voroshilov (Hertz, S. 77, Russian translation, pp. 182-83), followed by the Russian Voroshilov (Bulgakov, II, 282, referring to Bäuerliche Zustände, II, 222). We turn to page 222 of the book from which the Critics cite, and following the words quoted by Hertz we read: “The difference is more marked in the hilly districts, where the bigger estates operate with a relatively large working capital. But here, too, very frequently, the peasant farms realise a no lesser net profit than do the large farms, since the smaller income is compensated by greater frugality, which at the prevailing very low level of requirements [bei der vorhandenen grossen Bedürfnisslosigkeit] is carried to such lengths that the condition of the peasant is very often worse than that of the industrial worker, who has become accustomed to greater requirements” (Bäuerliche Zustände, II, 222). We read further that the prevailing system of land cultivation is crop rotation, which has become the predominant system among the middle farmers, while “the three-field system is met with almost exclusively among the small peasant-owned estates”. In regard to stock-breeding, progress is also observed everywhere. “Only in regard to the raising of horned cattle and the utilisation of dairy products does the peasant usually lag behind the big land lord” (223).

“Professor Ranke,” continues Mr. Bulgakov, “testifies to the technological advance in peasant farming in the environs of Munich, which, he says, is typical for the whole of Upper Bavaria.” We turn to Ranke’s article: Three Grossbauer communities farming with the aid of hired labourers— 69 peasants out of 119 hold more than 20 hectares each, comprising three-fourths of the land. Moreover, 38 of these “peasants” hold more than 40 hectares each, with an average of 59 hectares each; between them they hold nearly 60 per cent of the entire land....

We think this should suffice to reveal the manner in which Messrs. Bulgakov and Hertz “quote”.

VII. The Inquiry Into Peasant Farming In Baden[edit source]

“Due to lack of space,” writes Hertz, “we cannot render the detailed and interesting judgements of the Inquiry into 37 communities in Baden. In the majority of cases they are analogous to those presented above: side by side with favourable, we find unfavourable and indifferent judgements; but nowhere in these entire three volumes of the Inquiry do the detailed budgets of expenditure give any grounds for the conclusion that ’under-consumption’ (Unterkonsumption), ’sordid and degrading poverty’, etc., are prevalent” (S. 79; Russian translation, p. 188). The words we have emphasised represent, as usual, a direct untruth. The very Baden Inquiry to which Hertz refers contains documentary evidence at testing to “under-consumption” precisely among the small peasantry. Hertz’ distortion of the facts closely resembles the method that was especially cultivated by the Russian Narodniks and is now practised by all the “Critics” on the agrarian question, viz., sweeping statements about “the peasantry”. Since the term “peasantry” is still more vague in the West than it is in Russia· (in the West this social-estate is not sharply defined), and since “average” facts and conclusions conceal the relative “prosperity” (or at all events, the absence of starvation) among the minority and the privation suffered by the majority, apologists of all sorts have an unlimited field of activity. In actual fact, the Baden Inquiry enables us to distinguish various groups of peasants, which Hertz, although an advocate of “details”, preferred not to see. Out of 37 typical communities, a selection was made of typical farms of big peasants (Gross batter), middle peasants, and small peasants, as well as of day-labourers, making a total of 70 peasants’ (31 big, 21 middle, and 18 small) and 17 day-labourers’ households; and the budgets of these households were subjected to a very detailed examination. We have not been able to analyse all the data; but the principal results cited below will suffice to enable us to draw very definite conclusions.

Let us first present the data on the general economic type of (a) large, (b). middle, and (c) small peasant farms (Anlage VI: “Uebersichtliche Darstellung der Ergebnisse der in den Erhebungsgemeinden angestellten Ertragsberechnungen.” [Appendix VI: “Brief Review of the Results of the Assessment of Incomes in Communities Investigated.”—Ed. ] We have divided this table into groups for the Grossbauer, Mittelbauer, and Kleinbauer respectively). Size of holdings—average in each group: (a) 33.34 hectares, (b) 13.5 hectares, and (c) 6.96 hectares—which is relatively high for a country of small land-holdings like Baden. But if we exclude the ten farms in communities Nos. 20, 22, and 30, where exceptionally large holdings are the rule (up to 43 hectares among the Kleinbauer and up to 170 hectares among the Grossbauer!), we shall obtain the following figures, more normal for Baden: (a) 17.8 hectares, (b) 10.0 hectares, and (c) 4.25 hectares. Size of families: (a) 6.4 persons, (b) 5.8, and (c) 5.9. (Unless otherwise stated,. these and subsequent figures apply to all the 70 farms.) Consequently, the families of the big peasants are consider ably larger; nevertheless, they employ hired labour to a far greater extent than the others. Of the 70 peasants, 54, i.e., more than three-fourths of the total, employ hired labour, namely: 29 big peasants (out of 31), 15 middle (out of 21), and 10 small (out of 18). Thus, of the big peasants, 93 per cent cannot manage without hired labour, while the figure for the small peasants is 55 per cent. These figures are very useful as a test of the current opinion (accepted uncritically by the “Critics”) that the employment of hired labour is negligible in present-day peasant farming. Among the big peasants (whose farms of 18 hectares are included in the category of 5-20 hectares, in wholesale descriptions reckoned as real peasant farms), we see pure capitalist farming: 24 farms employ 71 labourers—almost 3 labourers per farm, and 27 farmers employ day-labourers for a total of 4,347 days (161 man-days per farmer). Compare this with the size of the holdings of the big peasants in the environs of Munich, whose “progress” served our bold Mr. Bulgakov as a refutation of the “Marxist prejudice” regarding the degradation of the peasants by capitalism!

For the middle peasants we have the following figures: 8 employ 12 labourers, and 14 employ day-labourers for a total of 956 man-days. For the small peasants: 2 employ 2 labourers, and 9 employ day-labourers for a total of 543 man-days. One-half the number of small peasants employ hired labour for 2 months (543:9=60 days), i.e., in the most important season for the farmers (notwithstanding the fact that their farms are larger, the production of these small peasants is very much lower than that of the Friedrichsthal peasants, of whom Messrs. Chernov, David, and Hertz are so enamoured).

The results of this farming are as follows: 31 big peasants made a net profit of 21,329 marks and suffered a loss of 2,113 marks, i.e., a total profit for this category of 19,216 marks, or 619.9 marks per farm (523.5 marks if 5 farms in communities Nos. 20, 22, and 30 are excluded). For the medium farms the corresponding amount will be 243.3 marks (272.2 marks, if the 3 communities are excluded), and for the small farms, 35.3 marks (37.1 marks, if the 3 communities are excluded). Consequently, the small peasant, literally speaking, can barely make ends meet and only just manages to do so by cutting down consumption. The Inquiry (Ergebnisse, etc., in Vol. IV of Erhebungen,[61] S. 138) contains figures showing the consumption of the most important food items on each farm. Below we quote these data as averages for each category of peasants:

Category of PeasantsConsumption Per Person Per DayExpenditure Per Person
Bread and fruitPotatoesMeatMilkGroceries,

heating, lighting, etc., per day

Clothing Per Year
Big peasants1.841.821381.057266

These are the data in which our bold Hertz “failed to perceive” either under-consumption or poverty! We see that the small peasant, as compared with those of the higher groups, reduces his consumption very considerably, and that his food and clothing are little better than those of the day-labourer. For example, he consumes about two-thirds of the amount of meat consumed by the middle peasant, and about half the amount consumed by the big peasant. These figures prove once again the uselessness of sweeping conclusions and the erroneousness of all assessments of income that ignore differences in living standards. If, for instance, we take only the two last columns of our table (to avoid complicated calculations in translating food products into money terms), we shall see that the “net profit”, not only of the small peasant, but also of the middle peasant, is a pure fiction, which only pure bourgeois like Hecht and Klawki, or pure Voroshilovs like our Critics, can take seriously. Indeed, if we assume that the small peasant spends as much money on food as the middle peasant does, his expenditure would be increased by one hundred marks, and we would get an enormous deficit. If the middle peasant spent as much as the big peasant, his expenditure would be increased by 220 marks, and unless he “stinted himself” in food be, too, would sustain a deficit.[62] Does not the reduced consumption of the small peasant, following self- evidently from the inferior feeding of his cattle and the inadequate restoration (often the complete exhaustion) of the productivity of the soil, entirely confirm the truth of Marx’s words, at which the modern Critics merely shrug their shoulders in lofty contempt: “An infinite fragmentation of means of production, and isolation of the producers themselves. Monstrous waste of human energy. Progressive deterioration of conditions of production and increased prices of means of production—an inevitable law of proprietorship of parcels” (Das Kapital, III, 2, S. 342).[63]

In regard to the Baden Inquiry we must note still another distortion by Mr. Bulgakov (the Critics mutually supplement each other; while one distorts one aspect of the information adduced from a given source, a second distorts the other). Mr. Bulgakov frequently quotes from the Baden inquiry. It would appear, therefore, that he is acquainted with it. Yet we find him writing the following: “The exceptional and apparently fatal indebtedness of the peasant”—. so states the Overture, II, 271—"represents one of the most immutable dogmas in the mythology created in literature in relation to peasant farming.... Surveys at our disposal reveal considerable indebtedness only among the smallest, not yet firmly established holdings [Tagelöhnerstellen]. Thus, Sprenger expresses the general impression obtained from the results of the extensive investigation conducted in Baden [to which reference is made in a footnote] in the following manner: ’... Only the plots of the day-labourers and small peasant farmers are relatively speaking heavily mortgaged in a large number of the districts investigated; but even among these, in the majority of cases, the indebtedness is not so great as to cause alarm... "’ (272). A strange thing. On the one hand, there is reference to the Inquiry itself, and on the other, there is merely the quoted “general impression” of a certain Sprenger who has written about this Inquiry. But as ill-luck would have it, Sprenger’s writing falls short of the truth (at least in the passage quoted by Mr. Bulgakov; we have not read Sprenger’s book). First, the authors of the Inquiry assert that, in the majority of cases, it is precisely the indebtedness of the small peasant holdings which reaches alarming dimensions. Secondly, they assert that the position of the small peasants in this respect is not only worse than that of the middle and big peasants (which Sprenger noted) but also worse than that of the day-labourers.

It must be observed in general that the authors of the Baden Inquiry established the extremely important fact that on the large farms the limits of permissible indebtedness (i.e., the limits to which the farmer may go without risking bankruptcy) are higher than on the small farms. After the data we have presented above on the farming results obtained by the big, middle, and small peasants respectively, this fact requires no further explanation. The authors of the Inquiry estimate the indebtedness permissible and safe (unbedenklich) for the large and medium farms at 40-70 per cent of the land value, or an average of 55 per cent. In regard to the small farms (which they set as between our and seven hectares for crop cultivation, and between two and four hectares for viticulture and commercial crops), they consider that “the limits of indebtedness ... must not exceed 30 per cent of the value of the holding, if the regular payment of interest and of instalments on the principal is to be fully secured” (S. 66, B. IV). In the surveyed communities (with the exception of those where Anerbenrecht[64] prevails, e’.g., Unadingen and Neukirch), the percentage of indebtedness (in proportion to the value of the estate) steadily diminishes as we pass from the small to the large farms. In the community of Dittwar, for instance, the indebtedness of farms up to one-fourth of a hectare equals 180.65 per cent; from one to two hectares, 73.07 per cent; from two to five hectares, 45.73 per cent; from five to ten hectares, 25.34 per cent; and from ten to twenty hectares, 3.02 per cent (ibid., S. 89-90). But the percentage of indebtedness does not tell us everything, and the authors of the Inquiry draw the following conclusion:

“The above-given statistics, consequently, confirm the widespread opinion that those owners of peasant holdings who are on the border-line [in the middle] between the day- labourers and the middle peasants [in the rural districts the farmers of this category are usually called the “middle estate”—Mittelstand] are frequently in a worse position than those in the groups above or below [sic!] in the size of their holdings; for, although they are able to cope with moderate indebtedness, if it is kept at a certain and not very high level, they find it difficult to meet their obligations, being unable to obtain regular collateral employment (as day- labourers, etc.), by which means to increase their income...." Day-labourers, “insofar as they have some regular collateral employment, are frequently in a much better position materially than those belonging to the ’middle estate’, for, as computations in numerous cases have shown, collateral employment produces at times such a high net (i.e., money) income as to enable them to repay even large debts” (op. cit., 67).[65] Finally, the authors reiterate that the indebtedness of the small peasant farms in relation to the permissible level is “sometimes unsafe”; hence, “in purchasing land, particular business-like caution must be exercised ... primarily by the small peasant population and by the day- labourers, closely related to it” (98).

This, then, is the bourgeois counsellor to the small peasant! On the one hand, he fosters in the proletarians and semi-proletarians the hope that they will be able to purchase land, “if not in the first, then in the second generation”, and by diligence and abstemiousness obtain from it an enormous percentage of “net income”; on the other hand, he advises especially the poor peasants to exercise “particular caution” in purchasing land if they have no “regular employment”, that is to say, when the capitalists have no need for settled workers. And yet there are “critical” simpletons who accept these selfish lies and threadbare banalities as the findings of the most up-to-date science!

One would think that the detailed data we have presented on the big, middle, and small peasants would suffice to make even Mr. V. Chernov understand the meaning of the term “petty bourgeois” as applied to the peasant, a term that seems to inspire him with such horror. Capitalist evolution has not only introduced similarity in the general economic system of West-European countries, but it has brought Russia also closer to the West, so that the main features of peasant farming in Germany are similar to those in Russia. However, in Russia the process of differentiation among the peasantry, abundantly confirmed in Russian Marxist literature, is in an initial stage; it has not yet assumed anything like a finished form, it has not yet given rise, for example, to the immediately noticeable, distinctive type of big peasant (Grossbauer). In Russia the mass expropriation and extinction of an enormous section of the peasantry still greatly overshadow the “first steps” of our peasant bourgeoisie. In the West, however, this process, which started even before the abolition of serfdom (cf. Kautsky, Agrarfrage, S. 27), long ago caused the obliteration of the social-estate distinction between peasant and “privately owned” (as we call it) farming, on the one hand, and the formation of a class of agricultural wage-workers, which has already acquired fairly definite features, on the other.[66] It would be a grave error to assume, however, that this process came to a stop after more or less definite new types of rural population had emerged. On the contrary, it goes on continuously, now rapidly, now slowly, of course, depending on the numerous and varying circumstances, and assumes most diverse forms according to the varying agronomic conditions, etc. The proletarisation of the peasantry continues, as we shall prove below by the mass of German statistics; besides which, it is evident from the cited data on the small peasantry. The increasing flight, not only of agricultural labourers, but of peasants, from the country to the towns is in itself striking evidence of this growing proletarisation. But the peasant’s flight to the town is necessarily preceded by his ruin; and the ruin is preceded by a desperate struggle for economic independence. The data on the extent of the employment of hired labour, the amount of “net income”, and the level of consumption of the various types of peasantry, bring out this struggle in striking relief. The principal weapon in this fight is “iron diligence” and frugality—frugality according to the motto “We work, not so much for our mouths as for our pockets”. The inevitable result of the struggle is the rise of a minority of wealthy, prosperous farmers (an insignificant minority in most cases—and in every case when particularly favourable conditions are absent, such as proximity to the capital, the construction of a railway, or the opening up of some new, remunerative branch of commercial agriculture, etc.) and the continuously increasing impoverishment of the majority, which steadily saps the strength of the peasants by chronic starvation and exhausting toil, and causes the quality of the land and cattle to deteriorate. The inevitable result of the struggle is the rise of a minority of capitalist farms based on wage-labour, and the increasing necessity for the majority to work at “side lines”, i.e., their conversion into industrial and agricultural wage-workers. The data on wage-labour very clearly reveal the immanent tendency, inevitable under the present system of society, for all small producers to become small capitalists.

We quite understand why bourgeois economists, on the one hand, and opportunists of various shades, on the other, shun this aspect of the matter and why they cannot help doing so. The differentiation of the peasantry reveals to us the profoundest contradictions of capitalism in the very process of their inception and their further development. A complete evaluation of these contradictions inevitably leads to the recognition of the small peasantry’s blind-alley and hopeless position (hopeless, outside the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat against the entire capitalist system). It is not surprising that these most profound and most undeveloped contradictions are not mentioned; there is an attempt to evade the fact of the overwork and under-consumption of the small peasants, which can be denied only by unconscionable or ignorant people. The question of the hired labour employed by the peasant bourgeoisie and of wage-work of the rural poor is left in the shade. Thus, Mr. Bulgakov submitted an “essay on the theory of agrarian development”, passing over both these questions in eloquent silence![67] "Peasant farming,” he says, “may be defined as that form of farming in which the labour of the peasant’s own family is exclusively, or almost exclusively employed. Very rarely do even peasant farms dispense altogether with outside labour,— the help of neighbours or casual hired labour—but this does not change [naturally!] the economic features of peasant farming” (I, 141). Hertz is somewhat more naive, and at the very beginning of his book he makes the following reservation: “Hereinafter, by small or peasant farms I shall always assume a form of farming in which the farmer, the members of his family, and not more than one or.two workers are employed” (S. 6, Russian translation, p. 29). When they discuss the hiring of a “hand” our Kleinbürger soon forget the very “peculiarities” of agriculture which they constantly make so much of with no regard for relevance. In agriculture, one or two labourers is by no means a small number, even if they work only in the summer. But the main thing is not whether this is a small or a large number; the main thing is that hired labourers are employed by the wealthier, more prosperous peasants, whose “progress” and prosperity” our knights of philistinism are so fond of presenting as the prosperity of the mass of the population. And in order to put a better complexion on this distortion, these knights majestically declare: “The peasant is a working man no less than the proletarian” (Bulgakov, II, 288). And the author expresses satisfaction at the fact that “workers’ parties are more and more losing the anti-peasant tinge characteristic of them hitherto” (characteristic of them hitherto!) (289). “Hitherto”, you see, they “left out of account the fact that peasant property is not an instrument of exploitation, but a condition for the application of labour”. That is how history is written! Frankly, we cannot refrain from saying: Distort, gentlemen, but have a sense of measure! And the same Mr. Bulgakov has written a two-volume “study” of 800 pages chock-full of “quotations” (how correct they are we have repeatedly shown) from all sorts of inquiries, descriptions, monographs, etc. But not once, literally not once, has he attempted even to examine the relations between the peasants whose property is an instrument of exploitation and those peasants whose property is “simply” a condition for the application of labour. Not once has he presented systematic statistics (which, as we have shown, were contained in the sources he cited) concerning the types of farms, the standard of living, etc., of the peasants who hire labour, of the peas ants who neither hire labour nor hire themselves out as labourers, and of the peasants who hire themselves out as labourers. More than that. We have seen that to prove the “progress of peasant farming” (peasant farming in general!) he has given data on the Grossbauer and opinions that confirm the progress of some and the impoverishment and proletarisation of others. He even sees a general “social regeneration” (sic!) in the rise of “well-to-do peasant farms” (II, 138; for general conclusion, cf. p. 456), as if well-to-do peasant farm were not synonymous with bourgeois, entrepreneur-peasant farm. His one attempt to extricate himself from this tangle of contradictions is the following still more entangled argument: "The peasantry, of course, does not constitute a homogeneous mass; this has been shown above [probably in his argument about such a petty detail as the industrial wage-labour performed by farmers?]; a constant struggle is here in process between a differentiating trend and a levelling trend. But are these differences and even the antagonism of individual interests greater than those between the various strata of the working class, between urban and rural workers, between skilled and unskilled labour, between trade unionists and non-trade unionists? It is only by completely ignoring these differences within the worker estate (which cause certain investigators to see the existence of a fifth estate in addition to the fourth) that a distinction can be drawn between the allegedly homogeneous working class and the heterogeneous peasantry” (288). What a remarkably profound analysis! Confounding trade differences with class differences; confounding differences in the way of life with the different positions of the various classes in the system of social production—what better illustration is needed of the complete absence of scientific principles in the fashionable “criticism”[68] and of its practical tendency to obliterate the very concept “class” and to eliminate the very idea of the class struggle. The agricultural labourer earns fifty kopeks a day; the enterprising peasant who employs day-labourers earns a ruble a day; the factory worker in the capital earns two rubles a day; the small provincial master earns one and a half rubles a day. Any more or less politically conscious worker would be able to say without difficulty to which class the representatives of these various “strata” belong, and in what direction the social activities of these various “strata” will tend. But f or the representative of university science, or for the modern “Critic”, this is such a profound wisdom that it is totally beyond assimilation.

VIII. General Statistics of German Agriculture for 1882 and 1895. The Question of the Medium Farms[edit source]

Having examined the detailed statistics of peasant farming, which are particularly important for us, because peasant farming is the centre of gravity of the modern agrarian question, let us now pass to the general statistics of German agriculture and verify the conclusions drawn from them by the “Critics”. Below, in brief, are the principal returns of the censuses of 1882 and of 1895:

Groups of farmsNo. of farms (thousands)Cultivated area (1,000 hectares)Relative numbersAbsolute increase or decrease
Under 2 hectares ...3,0623,2361,8261,80858.—18
2-5 hectares9811,0163,1903,28618.618.310.010.1+35+96
5-20 "9279999,1589,72217.618.028.729.9+72+564
20-100 "2812829,9089,8705.—38
100 and over hectares...25257,7877,8320.50.424.524.1±0+45

Three circumstances must be examined its connection with this picture of change interpreted differently by Marxists and by the “Critics”: the increase in the number of the smallest farms; the increase in latifundia, i.e., farms of one thousand hectares and over, in our table placed in the row of over one hundred hectares; and, lastly, the increase in the number of middle-peasant farms (5-20 hectares), which is the most striking fact, and the one giving rise to the most heated controversy. The increase in the number of the smallest farms indicates an enormous increase in poverty and proletarisation; for the overwhelming majority of the owners of less than two hectares cannot obtain a livelihood from agriculture alone but must seek auxiliary employment, i.e., work for wages. Of course, there are exceptions: the cultivation of special crops, viticulture, market gardening, industrial crop cultivation, suburban farming generally, etc., render possible the existence of independent (at times even not small) farmers even on one and a half hectares. But out of a total of three million farms, these exceptions are quite insignificant. The fact that the mass of these small “farmers” (representing three-fifths of the total number) are wage-labourers is strikingly proved by the German statistics concerning the principal occupations of the farmers in the various categories. The following is a brief summary of those statistics:

Groups of farmersFarmers according to principal occupation (per cent)Per cent of independent farmers with auxiliary occupations
IndependentNon-independent labour Other


Agriculture Trade, etc.
Under 2 hectares17.422.550.39.810026.1
2-5 "
5-20 "
20-100 "
100 and over "

We see, thus, that out of the total number of German farmers only 45%, i.e., fewer than half, are independent with farming as their main occupation. And even of these independent farmers one-fifth (20.1 %) have auxiliary occupations. The principal occupation of 17.5% of the farmers is trading, industry, market gardening, and so forth (in these occupations they are “independent”, i.e., occupy the position of masters and not of hired workers). Almost one-third (31.1%) are hired workers (“not independent”, employed in various branches of agriculture and industry). The principal occupation of 6.4% of the farmers is office employment (in military service, civil service, etc.), the liberal professions, etc. Of the farmers with farms under two hectares, one half are hired workers; the “independent” farmers among these 3,200,000 “owners” represent a small minority, only 17.4% of the total. Of this number, 17%, one-fourth (26.1 %), are engaged in auxiliary occupations, i.e., are hired workers, not in their principal occupations (like the above-mentioned 50.3%), but in their side-line occupations. Even among the farmers owning from 2-5 hectares, only a little more than half (546,000 out of 1,016,000) are independent farmers without auxiliary occupations.

We see from this how amazingly untrue is the picture presented by Mr. Bulgakov when, asserting (erroneously, as we have shown) that the total number of persons actually engaged in agriculture has grown, he explains this by the “increase in the number. of independent farms—as we already know, mainly middle-peasant farms, at the expense of the big farms” (II, 133). The fact that the number of middle-peasant farms has expanded most in proportion to the total number of farms (from 17.6% to 18%, i.e., a rise of 0.400) does not in the least prove that the increase in the agricultural population is due principally to the growth in the number of middle peasant farms. On the question as to which category has contributed most to the general increase in the number of farms, we have direct data that leave no room for two opinions: the total number of farms has risen by 282,000, of which the number of farms under two hectares increased by 174,000. Consequently, the larger agricultural population (if and insofar as it is larger at all) is to be explained precisely by the increase in the number of non-independent farms (the bulk of the farmers with farms under two hectares not being independent). The rise is greatest in the small allotment farms, which indicates growing proletarisation. Even the increase (by 35,000) in the number of farms of 2-5 hectares cannot be wholly attributed to the expanded number of independent farms, for of those farmers only 546,000 out of the total of 1,016,000 are in dependent, drawing no subsidiary earnings.

Coming now to the large farms, we must note, first of all, the following characteristic fact (of utmost importance for the refutation of all apologists): the combination of agriculture with other occupations has diverse and opposite significance for the various categories of farmers. Among the small farmers it signifies proletarisation and curtailed independence; for in this category agriculture is combined with occupations like those of hired labourers, small handicraftsmen, small traders, and so forth. Among the big farmers, it signifies either a rise in the political significance of landed proprietorship through the medium of government service, military service, etc., or the combination of agriculture with forestry and agricultural industries. As we know, the latter phenomenon is one of the most characteristic symptoms of capitalist advance in agriculture. That is why the percentage of farmers who regard “independent” farming as their principal occupation (who are engaged in farming as masters and not as labourers) sharply increases with the increase in the size of the farms (17-72-90-96%), but drops to 93% in the category of farms of 100 hectares and over. In this group 4.2% of the farmers regard office employment (under the heading of “other occupations”) as their principal occupation; 0.4% of the farmers regard “non-independent” work as their principal occupations (what is here discussed is not hired labourers but managers, inspectors, etc., cf. Statistik des deutschen Reichs, B. 112, S. 49 *). Similarly, we see that the percentage of independent farmers who engage in auxiliary occupations sharply diminishes with the increase in the size of the farms (26-25-15-9%), but greatly increases among the farmers possessing 100 hectares and over (23%).

In regard to the number of large farms (100 hectares and over) and the area of land they occupy, the statistics given above indicate a diminution in their share in the total number of farms and the total area. The question arises: Does this imply that large-scale farming is being crowded out by small and middle-peasant farming, as Mr. Bulgakov hastens to assume? We think not; and by his angry thrusts at Kautsky on this point Mr. Bulgakov merely exposes his inability to refute Kautsky’s opinion on the subject. In the first place, the diminution in the proportion of the large farms is extremely small (from 0.47% to 0.45%, i.e., two-hundredths of one per cent of the total number of farms, and from 24.43% to 24.088%, i.e., 35-hundredths of one per cent of the total area). It is a generally known fact that with the intensification of farming it is sometimes necessary to make a slight reduction in the area of the farm, and that the big farmers lease small lots of land remote from the centre of the estate in order to secure labourers. We have shown above that the author of the detailed description of the large- and small-scale farms in East Prussia openly admits the auxiliary role played by small in relation to big landownership, and that he strongly advises the settlement of labourers. Secondly, there can be no talk of the elimination of large-scale by small-scale farming, for the reason that data on the size of farms are not yet adequate for judging the scale of production. The fact that in this respect large- scale farming has made considerable progress is irrefutably proved by statistics on the use of machinery (see above), and on agricultural industries (to be examined in greater detail below, since Mr. Bulgakov gives an astonishingly incorrect interpretation of the German statistics on this subject). Thirdly, in the group of farms of 100 hectares and over a prominent place is occupied by latifundia, i.e., farms of 1,000 hectares and over. The number of these farms has increased proportionately more than the number of middle-peasant farms, namely, from 515 to 572, or by 11 %, whereas the number of middle-peasant farms has increased from 926,000 to 998,000, or by 7.8%. The area of latifundia has increased from 708,000 hectares to 802,000 hectares, or by 94,000 hectares. In 1882 latifundia occupied 2.22% of the total land under cultivation; by 1895 they occupied 2.46%. On this point Mr. Bulgakov, in his work, supplements the groundless objections to Kautsky he made in Nachalo with the following even more groundless generalisation: “An index of the decline of large-scale farming,” he writes, “is ... the increase of latifundia, although the progress of agriculture and the growth of intensive farming should be accompanied by the splitting-up of farms” (II, 126). Mr. Bulgakov unconcernedly goes on to talk about the “latifundia [!] degeneration” of large-scale farming (II, 190, 363). With what remarkable logic our “scholar” reasons: since the diminution in the size of farms at times, with the intensification of farming, implies an increase in production, therefore an increase in the number and in the area of latifundia should, in general, signify a decline! But since logic is so bad, why not turn for help to statistics? The source from which Mr. Bulgakov draws his information contains a mass of data on latifundia farming. We present here some of the figures: in 1895, 572 of the largest agricultural enterprises occupied an area of 1,159,674 hectares, of which 802,000 hectares were given over to agriculture and 298,000 were covered by forests (a part of these latifundia proprietors were primarily timber merchants and not farmers). Livestock of all kinds is kept by 97.9% of these farmers, and draught animals by 97.7%. Machines are used by 555 in this group, and, as we have seen, it is in this group that the maximum number of cases of the use of machines of various types occurs; steam ploughs are used by 81 farms, or 14% of the total number of latifundia farms; livestock is kept as follows: 148,678 head of cattle, 55,591 horses, 703,813 sheep, and 53,543 pigs. Sixteen of these farms are combined with sugar refineries, 228 with distilleries, 6 with breweries, 16 with starch factories, and 64 with flour-mills. Intensification may be judged from the fact that 211 of these farms cultivate sugar-beet (26,000 hectares are devoted to this crop) and 302, potatoes for industrial purposes; 21 (with 1,822 cows, or 87 cows per farm) sell milk to the cities, and 204 belong to dairy co-operative societies (18,273 cows, or 89 per farm). A very strange “latifundia degeneration” indeed!

We now pass to the middle-peasant farms (5-20 hectares). The proportion they represent of the total number of farms has increased from 17.6% to 18.0% (+0.4%), and of the total area, from 28.7% to 29.9% (+1.2%). Quite naturally, every “annihilator of Marxism” regards these figures as his trump card. Mr. Bulgakov draws from them the conclusion that “large-scale farming is being crowded out by small-scale farming”, that there is a “tendency towards decentralisation”, and so on and so forth. We have pointed out above that precisely with respect to the “peasantry” unclassified statistics are particularly unsuitable and can more than ever lead to error; it is precisely in this sphere that the processes of the formation of small enterprises and the progress” of the peasant bourgeoisie are most likely to conceal the proletarisation and impoverishment of the majority. In German agriculture as a whole we see an undoubted development of large-scale capitalist farming (the growth of latifundia, the increase in the use of machinery, and the development of agricultural industries), on the one hand; on the other, there is a still more undoubted growth of proletarisation and impoverishment (flight to the cities, expanded parcellisation of the land, growth in the number of small allotment holdings, increase in auxiliary hired labour, decline in the food consumption of the small peasants, etc.). Hence, it would be clearly improbable and impossible that these processes should not be current among the “peasantry”. Moreover, the detailed statistics definitely indicate these processes and confirm the opinion that data on the size of farms alone are totally inadequate in this case. Hence, Kautsky rightly pointed out, on the basis of the general state of the capitalist development of German agriculture, the incorrectness of drawing from those statistics the conclusion that small-scale production was gaining over large-scale production.

We have, however, direct data abundantly proving that the increase in the number of “middle-peasant farms” indicates an increase in poverty and not in wealth and prosperity. We refer to the very data on draught animals which Mr. Bulgakov utilised so clumsily both in Nachalo and in his book. “If this required further proof,” wrote Mr. Bulgakov with reference to his assertion that medium farming was progressing and large-scale farming declining, “then to the indices of the amount of labour-power we could add the indices of the number of draught. animals. Here is an eloquent table.”[69]

Number of farms

using animals for

field work
Under 2 hectares. . . .325,005306,340-18,665
2 to 5 " . .733,967725,584-8,383
5 to 20 " . . .894,696925,103+30,407
20 to 100 " . . .279,284275,220-4,064
100 and over " . . .24,84524,485-360
Totals. . .2,257,7972,256,732-1,065

“The number of farms with draught animals declined among the large as well as the small farms, and increased only among the medium farms” (Nachalo, No. 1, p. 20).

Mr. Bulgakov could be pardoned for having, in a hurriedly written magazine article, erred in arriving at a conclusion diametrically opposed to the one the statistics on draught animals logically lead to. But our “strict scientist” repeated this error in his “investigation” (Vol. II, p. 127, where, moreover, he used the figures +30,407 and —360 as applying to the number of animals, whereas they apply to the number of farms using draught animals. But that, of course, is a minor point).

We ask our “strict scientist”, who talks so boldly of the “decline of large-scale farming” (II, 127): What is the significance of the increase of 30,000 in the number of middle-. peasant farms with draught animals when the total number of middle-peasant farms increased by 72,000 (II, 124)? Is it not clear from this that the percentage of middle-peasant farms with draught animals is declining? This being the case, should not Mr. Bulgakov have ascertained what percentage of farms in the various categories kept draught animals in 1882 and in 1895, the more so, since the data are given on the very page, and in the very table from which he took his absolute figures (Statistik des deutschen Reichs, B. 112, S. 31*)?

The data are here given:

Percentage of farms

using draught

Under 2hectares. . . . . . .10.619.46-1.15
2-5". . . . . . .74.7971.39-3.40
5-20". . . . . . .96.5692.62-3.94
20-100". . . . . . .99.2197.68-1.53
100 and over". . . . . . .99.4297.70-1.72
Average. . . . . . .42.7940.60-2.19

Thus, the farms with draught animals diminished on the average by over 2 per cent; but the reduction was above the average among the small- and middle-peasant farms, and below the average among the large farms.[70] Moreover, it must not be forgotten that “it is precisely on the large farms that animal power is frequently displaced by mechanical power in the form of machines of various kinds, including steam-driven machines (steam ploughs, etc.)” (Statistik des deutschen Reichs, B. 112, S. 32*). Therefore, if in the group of large farms (of 100 hectares and over) the number with draught animals diminished by 360, and if at the same time the number with steam ploughs increased by 615 (710 in 1882 and 1,325 in 1895), it is clear that, taken as a whole, large-scale farming has not lost, but has benefited thereby. Consequently, we come to the conclusion that the only group of German farmers who have undoubtedly improved their conditions of farming (with respect to the use of animals for field work, or the substitution of steam power for animals) are the big farmers, with farms of 100 hectares and over. In all the remaining groups the conditions of farming have deteriorated; and they have deteriorated most in the group of middle-peasant farms, in which the percentage of farms using draught animals has diminished most. The difference in the percentage of large farms (of 100 hectares and over) and medium farms (of 5-20 hectares) with draught animals was formerly less than 3% (99.42 and 96.56); the difference is now more than 5% (97.70 and 92.62).

This conclusion is still more strongly confirmed by the data on the types of draught animals used. The smaller the farm, the weaker the types: a relatively smaller number of oxen and horses and a larger number of cows, which are much weaker, are used for field work. The following data show the situation in this respect for the years 1882 and 1895:

For one hundred farms using draught animals the data are:

Cows onlyCows, along with horses

or oxen

Under 2hectares. . . . .83.7482.10-1.6485.2183.95-1.26
2-5hectares. . . . .68.2969.42+1.1372.9574.93+1.98
5-20hectares. . . . .18.4920.30+1.8129.7134.75+5.04
20-100hectares. . . . .0.250.28+0.033.426.02+2.60
100 and overhectares. . . . .0.000.03+
Average. . . .41.6141.82+0.2148.1850.48+2.30

We see a general deterioration in the kind of draught animals used (for the reason indicated, the small allotment farms are not taken into account), the greatest deterioration occurring in the group of middle-peasant farms. In that group, of the total number of farms possessing draught animals, the percentage of those compelled to use cows as well as other animals, and of those compelled to use cows only, increased most of all. At the present time, more than one-third of the middle-peasant farms with draught animals have to use cows for field work (which, of course, leads to poorer tilling and, consequently, to a drop in the crop yield, as well as to a lower milk yield), while more than one-fifth use only cows for field work. If we take the number of animals used for field work, we shall find in all groups (except the small allotment farms) an increase in the number of cows. The number of horses and oxen has changed as follows:

Number of Horses and Oxen Used for Field Work (Thousands)
Under 2hectares. . . . .62.969.4+6.5
2-5". . . . .308.3302.3-6.0
5-20". . . . .1,437.41,430.5-6.9
20-100". . . . .1,168.51,155.4-13.1
100 and over". . . . .650.5695.2+44.7
Totals. . . . .3,627.63,652.8+25.2

With the exception of the small allotment farms, an increase in the number of draught animals proper is seen only among the big farmers.

Consequently, the general conclusion to be drawn from the changes in farming conditions with regard to animal and mechanical power employed for field work, is as follows: improvement only among the big farmers; deterioration among the rest; the greatest deterioration among the middle-peasant farms.

The statistics for 1895 enable us to divide the middle-peasant farm group into two subgroups: with 5 to 10 hectares and with 10 to 20 hectares respectively. As was to be expected, in the first subgroup (which has by far the greater number of farms), farming conditions insofar as they affect the use of draught animals are incomparably worse than in the second. Of the total of 606,000 owners of 5-10 hectares, 90.5% possess draught animals (of the 393,000 with 10-20 hectares— 95.8%), and of this number, 46.3% use cows for field work (17.9% in the 10-20 hectare group); the number using only cows amounts to 41.3% (4.2% in the 10-20 hectare group). It turns out that precisely the 5-10 hectare group, the one most poorly equipped with draught animals, shows the greatest increase from 1882 to 1895 both in the number of farms and in area. The relevant figures follow:

Percentage of total
FarmsTotal areaCultivated area
5-10 hectares10.5010.90+0.4011.9012.37+0.4712.2613.02+0.76
10-20 hectares7.067.07+0.0116.7016.59-0.1116.4816.88+0.40

In the 10-20 hectare group the increase in the number of farms is quite insignificant. The proportion of the total area even diminished, while the proportion of the cultivated area increased to a much lesser extent than that of the farms in the 5-10 hectare group. Consequently, the increase in the middle-peasant farm group is accounted for mainly (and partly even exclusively) by the 5-10 hectare group, i.e., the very group in which farming conditions with regard to the use of draught animals are particularly bad.

Thus, we see that the statistics irrefutably reveal the true significance of the notorious increase in the number of middle-peasant farms: it is not an increase in prosperity, but an increase in poverty; not-the progress of small farming, but its degradation. If the conditions of farming have deteriorated most among the middle-peasant farms, and if these farms have been obliged to resort most extensively to the use of cows for field work, then, on the basis of this aspect of farming alone (one of the most important aspects of farming as a whole), it is not only our right but our duty to draw the conclusions regarding all the other aspects of farming. If the number of horseless farms (to use a term familiar to the Russian reader, and one quite applicable to the present case) has increased, if there is deterioration in the type of draught animals used, there cannot be the slightest doubt that the general maintenance of the animals and the treatment of the soil, as well as the food and the living conditions of the farmers, have likewise deteriorated; for in peasant farming, as all know, the harder the animals are worked and the worse they are fed, the harder the peasant works and, the worse he is fed, and vice versa. The conclusions we drew above from Klawki’s detailed study are fully confirmed by the mass data on all the small peasant farms in Germany.

IX. Dairy Farming and Agricultural Co-Operative Societies In Germany. The Agricultural Population In Germany Divided According to its Position In the Economy[edit source]

We have dealt in such detail with the data on draught animals because these are the only data (apart from those dealing with machinery, which we have earlier examined) that enable us to obtain an inside view, as it were, of agriculture, of its equipment and organisation. All the other data—on the amount of land (which we have cited), and the number of livestock (to be cited below)—merely describe the external aspects of agriculture, equating things that are obviously unequal, since treatment of the soil and, consequently, its yield, and the quality and productivity of livestock are different in the different categories of farms. Although these differences are well known, they are usually forgotten in statistical compilations; the data on machines and draught animals alone enable us, at least to some extent, to form a judgement of these differences and to decide who gains (on the whole) from them. If the large farms use, to a larger extent than the rest, particularly complex and costly machines, which alone are taken into account by statistics, then it is obvious that the other types of agricultural implements, which statistics ignore (ploughs, harrows, waggons, etc.), are of a better quality, are used in larger numbers, and (because the farms are bigger) are more fully utilised on the large farms. The same applies to livestock. The small farmer must inevitably make up for the lack of these advantages by greater industry and frugality (he has no other weapons in his struggle for existence), and for this reason those qualities are not merely casual but always and inevitably distinguish the small farmer in capitalist society. The bourgeois economist (and the modern “Critic”, who on this question, as on all others, drags along at the tail of the bourgeois economist) calls this the virtue of thrift, perseverance, etc. (cf. Hecht and Bulgakov), ascribing it to the peasant as a merit. The socialist calls it overwork (Ueberarbeit) and under-consumption (Unterkonsumption) and holds capitalism responsible for it; he tries to open the eyes of the peasant to the deception practised by those who deliver Manilov orations, picturing social degradation as a virtue and thereby striving to perpetuate it.

We shall now deal with the data on the distribution of livestock among the various groups of German farmers in 1882 and 1895. The following are the main summaries (in percentages of total):

(In value)CattlePigs
Under 2hectares9.39.4+
100 and over"14.814.1-0.79.911.5+

Thus, the share of the total livestock owned by the large farms has diminished, whereas that of the middle-peasant farms has increased most. We speak of the total livestock, notwithstanding the fact that the statistics refer only to value, because the statisticians’ assumption that the value of each animal is equal for all groups is obviously wrong. The data on value, which make it possible to add different kinds of livestock (the result could have been obtained by expressing all the livestock in terms of cattle; but this would have entailed fresh calculations, without however, altering the conclusions materially), actually show the distribution of all livestock according to number and not according to real value. Since the livestock belonging to the big farmers is of a better quality and probably improves to a greater extent than that of the small farmers (to judge by the improvement in the implements), the figures considerably minimise the real superiority of large-scale farming.

With regard to certain types of livestock, it must be said that the diminution of the share of the large farms is entirely due to the decline in commercial sheep farming: from 1882 to 1895 the number of sheep diminished from 21,100,000 to 12,600,000, i.e., by 8,500,000; of this total diminution, farms of 20 hectares and over accounted for 7,000,000. As is known, stock raising for the dairy-product and meat markets is one of the developing branches of commercial live stock farming in Germany. For this reason we took the data on cattle and pigs, finding that the greatest progress in these two branches of livestock farming has been made on the large farms (of 100 hectares and over): share in the total number of cattle and pigs has increased most. This fact stands out the more for the reason that the area of livestock farms is usually smaller than that of agricultural farms and one would thus expect a more rapid development, not of large, but of middle, capitalist farms. The general conclusion to be drawn (in regard to the number, not the quality, of cattle) should be the following: the big farmers have lost most as a result of the sharp decline in commercial sheep farming, and this loss has not entirely, but only partly, been compensated by a greater increase (as compared with the small and medium farms) in the raising of cattle and pigs.

In speaking of dairy farming, we cannot ignore the extremely instructive and, as far as we know, unutilised material on this question furnished by German statistics. But this concerns the general question of combining agriculture with agricultural industries, and we are obliged to deal with it because of the amazing distortion of the facts of which Mr. Bulgakov is again guilty. As is known, the combination of agriculture with the industrial processing of farm produce is one of the most outstanding characteristics of the specifically capitalist progress in agriculture. Some time back, in Nachalo (No. 3, p. 32), Mr. Bulgakov declared: "In my opinion, Kautsky vastly exaggerates the significance of this combination. If we take the statistics, we shall find that the amount of land connected with industry in this way is quite negligible.” The argument is an extremely weak one; for Mr. Bulgakov does not dare to deny the technically progressive character of this combination. And as for the most important question, as to whether large-scale or small-scale production is the vehicle of this progress, he simply evades it. Since, however, the statistics provide a very definite reply to this question, Mr. Bulgakov resorts in his book to—sit venia verbo![Save the mark!—Ed.]–cunning. He cites the per centage of farms (of all farms in general and not according to groups!) that are combined with agricultural industry in one form or another, and remarks: “It must not be supposed that they are combined principally with large farms” (II, 116). The very opposite is the case, most worthy professor: that is precisely what must be supposed; and the table you give (which does not show the percentage of farms combined with agricultural industries in relation to the total number of farms in each group) merely deceives the uninformed or inattentive reader. Below we give the combined data (to avoid filling our pages with figures) on the number of farms connected with sugar refining, distilling, starch making, brewing, and flour milling (consequently, the totals will show the number of cases in which agriculture is combined with agricultural industries), and we get the following picture:

Total number

of farms

Number of cases of

combination with

agricultural industries
Per cent
Under 2 hectares". . . .3,236,36711,3640.01
2-5". . . .1,016,31813,5421.09
5-20". . . .998,80425,8792.30
20-100". . . .281,7678,2732.52
100 and over". . . .25,0614,00615.72
Totals. . . .5,558,31763,0641.14
Farms with 1,000 hectares and over. . . .57233057.69

Thus, the percentage of farms in combination with agricultural industries is negligible in small-scale farming and reaches marked dimensions only in large-scale farming (and enormous dimensions on the latifundia, of which more than half enjoy the benefits of this combination). If this fact is compared with the above-cited data on the use of machines and draught animals, the reader will understand the pretentious nonsense of Mr. Bulgakov’s aphorisms on the “illusion fostered by conservative” Marxists “that large-scale farming is the vehicle of economic progress and that small-scale farming is the vehicle of retrogression” (II, 260).

“The great bulk (of sugar-beet and potatoes for distilling alcohol!) was produced on the small farms,” continues Mr. Bulgakov.

But the very opposite is the case: it was precisely on the large farms:


of farms cultivating

sugar beet

of total number of farms in

Area under beet (in hectares)Per centNumber of

farms cultivating potatoes for industrial purposes


of total number of farms in category

Under 2hectares. .10,7810.333,7811.05650.01
2-5". .21,4132.1012,6933.29470.09
5-20". .47,1454.7248,21312.13,0230.30
20-100". .26,6439.4597,78224.74,2931.52
100 and over". .7,26228.98233,82059.05.19520.72
Totals. . .113,2442.03396,289100.014,0230.25
1,000 hectares and over21136.8826,12730252.79

Thus, we see again that the percentage of farms cultivating sugar-beet and potatoes for industrial purposes is negligible in the small-farm group, considerable in the large farm group, and very high on the latifundia. The great bulk of the beets (83.7 per cent, judging by the area under beet) is produced on the large farms.[71] Similarly, Mr. Bulgakov failed to ascertain the “share of large-scale farming” in dairy farming (II, 117); yet this branch of commercial livestock farming is one of those that are, developing with particular rapidity over the whole of Europe, as well as being one of the characteristics of the progress of agriculture. The following figures show the number of farms selling milk and dairy products to the towns:



Percentage of total[72] Percentage of total number of farms in group Number


Percentage of total Number

of cows

per farm
Under 2hectares. . . .8,99821.460.325,02811.592.8
2-5". . . .11,04926.351.130,27514.032.7
5-20". . . .15,34436.591.570,91632.854.6
20-100". . . .5,67613.542.058,43927.0710.3
100 and over". . . .8632.063.431,21314.4636.1
"Totals. . . .41,930100.00.8215,8711005.1
1,000 hectares and over213.71,82287.0

Thus, here too, large-scale farming is in advance: the percentage of farmers engaged in the milk trade increases proportionately with the increase in the size of the farms, and it is highest on the latifundia (“latifundia degeneration”). For instance, the percentage of large farms (100 hectares and over) selling milk to the towns is more than twice that of the middle-peasant (5-20 hectare) farms (3.4 and 1.5 per cent).

The fact that the large farms (large in area) also engage in large-scale dairy farming is confirmed by the data on the number of cows per farm, viz., 36 per farm of 100 hectares and over, and even 87 on the latifundia. Generally speaking, the obviously capitalist farms (20 hectares and over) own 41.5% of the total number of cows, whose milk is sold to the towns, although these proprietors represent an insignificant percentage of the total number of farmers (5.52%), and a very small percentage of the number of farmers selling milk to the towns (15.6%). The progress of capitalist farming and the capitalist concentration of this branch of commercial livestock farming are therefore an indubitable fact.

But the concentration of dairy farming is by no means fully brought out by data on farms grouped according to area. It is clear a priori that there can and must be farms equal in area but unequal in regard to livestock in general, and to dairy cattle in particular. Let us, first, compare the distribution of the total number of cattle among the various groups of farms with the distribution of the total number of cows whose milk is sold to the towns.

Percentage of
all cattlecows whose

milk is sold

to towns
Under 2hectares. . . . . .8.311.6+3.3
2-5". . . . . . .16.414.0-2.4
5-20". . . . . . .36.532.8-3.7
20-100". . . . . . .27.327.1-0.2
100 and over". . . . . . .11.514.5+3.0
Totals. . . . . . .100100

Thus, we see again that it is the middle-peasant farms which are the worst off; this group utilises the smallest share of its cattle for the urban milk trade (the most profitable branch of dairy farming). On the other hand, the large farms occupy a very favourable position and utilise a relatively large proportion of their cattle for the urban milk trade.[73] But the position of the smallest farms is most favourable of all, for they utilise the largest proportion of their cattle for the urban milk trade. Consequently, in this group, special “milk” farms are developing on which agriculture is forced into the background, or even abandoned altogether (out of 8,998 farms in this group which sell milk to the towns, 471 have no arable land, and the farmers possess a total of 5,344 cows, or 11.3 cows per farm). We obtain an interesting picture of the concentration of dairy farming within one and the same group according to area of tilled land if, with the aid of the German statistics, we single out the farms with one and with two cows each:

Farms Selling Dairy Products to the Towns
No. of



with one


with two

Farms with three

cows or more



of cows






Under 50 ares. . . . . .1,9447223728509,78911.511,255
50 ares to 2 hectares. . . . . .7,0543,3022,5521,2005,3674.513,773
0 to 2 hectares. . . . . .8,9984,0242,9242,05015,1567.425,028
2 to 5 hectares. . . . . .11,0491,8624,4974,69019,4194.330,275

Among the farms with a negligible amount of agricultural land (0-0.5 hectares) we see an enormous concentration of dairy farming: fewer than one half of these farmers (850 out of 1,944) concentrate in their hands almost nine-tenths of the total number of cows in this group (9,789 out of 11,255), with an average of 11.5 cows per farm. These are by no means “small” farmers; they are farmers having a turn over in all probability (especially those adjacent to big cities) of several thousand marks per annum, and it is doubtful whether they can manage without hired labour. The rapid growth of the towns causes a steady increase in the number of such “dairy farmers”, and, of course, there will always be the Hechts, Davids, Hertzes, and Chernovs to console the mass of the small peasants crushed by poverty with the example of isolated cases of their fellow-farmers who have “got on in the world” by means of dairy farming, tobacco cultivation, and so forth.

In the 0.5-2 hectare group of farms we see that fewer than one-fifth of the total number of farmers (1,200 out of 7,054) concentrate in their hands over two-fifths of the total number of cows (5,367 out of 13,773); in the 2-5 hectare group, fewer than one half of the farmers (4,690 out of 11,049) concentrate in their hands more than three-fifths of the total number of cows (19,419 out of 30,275), and so on. Unfortunately, the German statistics do not enable us to classify the groups with a larger number of cows.[74] But even the data presented fully confirm the general conclusion that the concentration of capitalist agriculture is in reality much greater than the data on area alone would lead us to suppose. The latter combine in one group farms small in area and producing small quantities of grain with farms producing dairy products, meat, grapes, tobacco, vegetables, etc., on a large scale. Of course, all these branches occupy a far inferior place as compared with the production of grain, and certain general conclusions hold good also in regard to statistics relating to area. But, in the first place, certain special branches of commercial agriculture are growing with particular rapidity in Europe, constituting a distinguishing feature of its capitalist evolution. Secondly, the circumstance referred to is frequently forgotten with reference to certain examples, or to certain districts, and this opens a wide field for petty-bourgeois apologetics, samples of which were presented by Hecht, David, Hertz, and Chernov. They referred to tobacco growers, who, judged by the size of their farms, are echte und rechte Kleinbauern,[75] but, if judged by the extent of their tobacco plantations, are by no means “small” farmers. Moreover, if we examine the data on tobacco growing separately, we shall find capitalist concentration in this area also. For instance, the total number of tobacco growers in Germany in 1898 was estimated at 139,000, with a cultivation of 17,600 hectares of tobacco land. But of these 139,000, some 88,000, or 63 per cent, together owned not more than 3,300 hectares, i.e., only one-fifth of the total area of land under tobacco. The other four-fifths were in the hands of 37% of the tobacco growers.[76]

The same applies to grape growing. As a general rule, the area of the “average” vineyard, in Germany, for example, is very small: 0.36 hectares (344,850 growers and 126,109 hectares of vineyards). But the vineyards are distributed as follows: 49% of the growers (with 20 or fewer ares of vineyards) have only 13% of the total area of vineyards; the “middle” growers (20-50 ares), representing 30% of the total, hold 26% of the total area of vineyards, whereas the big growers (half a hectare and over), representing 20% of the total, hold 61 % of the total area of vineyards, or more than three-fifths.[77] Still more concentrated is market gardening (Kunst- und Handelsgärtnerei), which is rapidly developing in all capitalist countries in direct dependence on the growth of large cities, big railroad stations, industrial settlements, etc. The number of market gardening enterprises in Germany in 1895 is estimated at 32,540, with an area of 23,570 hectares, or an average of less than one hectare each. But more than half of this area (51.39%) is concentrated in the hands of 1,932 proprietors, or 5.94% of all the market gardeners. The size of the market gardens and the area of the rest of the land the big farmers utilise for agriculture can be judged from the following figures: 1,441 market gardeners have vegetable gardens ranging from two to five hectares, making an average of 2.76 hectares per vegetable farm, and total land amounting to an average of 109.6 hectares per farm; 491 farmers have vegetable gardens of five hectares and over, making an average of 16.54 hectares per farm, and total land amounting to an average of 134.7 hectares per farm.

Let us return to dairy farming, the data on which help us to judge the significance of co-operative societies, which Hertz regards as a panacea for the evils of capitalism. Hertz is of the opinion that “the principal task of socialism” is to support these co-operative societies (op. cit., S. 21, Russian translation, p. 62; S. 89, Russian translation, p. 214), and Mr. Chernov, who, as might be expected, bruises his forehead in the act of ardent prostration before the new gods, has invented a theory of the “non-capitalist evolution of agriculture” with the aid of co-operative societies. We shall have a word or two to say on the theoretical significance of this sort of remarkable discovery. For the moment, we shall note that the worshippers of co-operative societies are always eager to talk of what it is “possible” to achieve by co-operative societies (cf. the instance given above). We, however, prefer to show what is actually achieved by the aid of co-operative societies under the present capitalist system. On the occasion of the census of enterprises and occupations in Germany in 1895 a register was made of all farms participating in co-operatives for the sale of dairy products (Molkereigenossenschaften und Sammelmolkereien), as well as of the number of cows from which each farmer obtained milk and milk products for sale. As far as we know, those are perhaps the only mass data that determine with precision, not only the extent to which farmers of various categories participate in co-operative societies, but, what is particularly important, the economic, so to speak, extent of this participation, viz., the size of the particular branch of each farm in the co-operative society (the number of cows providing products for sale organised by co-operative societies). We cite the figures, divided into the five principal groups according to area of farms:

Farms Participating in Co-operative Societies for the Sale of Dairy Products

of such


of farms in given category


of farms in all categories[78]

Number of

cows on

such farms

of total number of cows


number of cows per farmer

Under 2hectares. .10,3000.36.9518,5561.711.8
2-5". .31,8193.121.4973,1566.762.3
5-20". .53,5975.436.19211,23619.513.9
20-100". .43,56115.429.42418,56338.65 \\9.6
100 and over". .8,80535.15.95361,43533.37 //72.0241.0
Totals. . .148,0822.71001,082,9461007.3
1,000 hectaresand over. . .20435.618,27389.0

Thus, only an insignificant minority (3-5%) of the small farmers participate in co-operative societies—in all probability an even smaller percentage than that of capitalist farms in the lower groups. On the other hand, the percentage of the large, obviously capitalist, farms which participate in co-operative societies is from three to seven times greater than that of even the middle-peasant farms. The percentage of the latifundia participating in co-operatives is largest of all. We can now form an idea of the boundless naiveté of the Austrian Voroshilov, Hertz, who, in retorting to Kautsky, states that the “German Agricultural Co-operative Wholesale Society [Bezugsvereinigung], with which the largest co-operative societies are affiliated, represents 1,050,000 farmers” (S. 112, Russian translation, p. 267, Hertz’ italics) from which he concludes that this means that not only big farmers (holding more than 20 hectares, who number 306,000) participate in these co-operatives, but peasants too! Hertz had only to ponder a little over his own assumption (that all the large farms participate in co-operatives), in order to realise that if all big farmers are members of co-operative societies, this implies that of the rest a smaller percentage participate in them, which means that Kautsky’s conclusion concerning the superiority of large-scale over small-scale farming even with respect to co-operative organisation is fully confirmed.

But still more interesting are the data on the number of cows furnishing the products, the sale of which is organised by the co-operatives. The overwhelming majority of these cows, almost three-fourths (72%), belong to big farmers engaged in capitalist dairy farming and owning ten, forty, and (on the latifundia) even eighty cows per farm. And now let us listen to Hertz: “We assert that co-operative societies bring most benefit to the small and smallest farmers..." (op. cit., S. 112, Russian translation, p. 269, Hertz’ italics). The Voroshilovs are alike everywhere: be it in Russia or in Austria. When the Voroshilovs beat their breasts and exclaim vehemently, “We assert”, we can be quite sure that they are asserting that which is not.

To conclude our review of German agrarian statistics, let us examine briefly the general situation in regard to the distribution of the agricultural population according to its position in the economy. Of course, we take agriculture proper (A 1, and not A 1 to 6, according to the German nomenclature, i.e., we do not include among the agriculturists fishermen, lumbermen, and hunters); we then take the data on persons for whom agriculture is the principal occupation. German statistics divide this population into three main groups: (a) independent (viz., farmer owners, tenant farmers, etc.), (b) non-manual employees (managers, fore men, supervisors, office clerks, etc.), and (c) labourers. The last-named group is split up into the following four subgroups: (c1) “members of families employed on a farm belonging to the head of the family —father, brother, etc.,” in other words, labourers that are members of the family, as distinct from hired labourers, to which category all the other subgroups of group c belong. Clearly, therefore, in order to study the social composition of the population (and its capitalist evolution), the labourers that are members of the family must not be grouped with the hired labourers, as is usually done, but with the farmers in group a; for they are in fact the farmers’ partners, enjoying right of inheritance, etc. Other subgroups are: (c2) agricultural labourers, men and women (Knechte und Mägde), and (c3) "agricultural day-labourers and other labourers (shepherds, herdsmen) owning or renting land”. Consequently, the last-named subgroup consists of persons who are at the same time farmers and wage-labourers, i.e., an intermediate and transitional group which should be placed in a special category. Finally, there is the subgroup (c4) “ditto—neither owning nor renting land”. In this way, we obtain three main groups: I. Farmers— owners of land and the members of their families. II. Farmers—owners of land and at the same time wage-labourers. III. Wage-workers not owning land (non-manual employees, labourers, and day-labourers). The following table illustrates the manner in which the rural population[79] of Germany was distributed among these groups in the years 1882 and 1895:

Active (self-employed) population engaged

in agriculture as the main occupation

(a) Farm owners. . . . . . . .2,2532,522+269
(c1) Members of

farmers’ families

. . . . . . . .1.935






I . . . . . . .4,1884,421+233+5.6%
(c2) Labourers with allotments(II) . . . . . . .866






I+II . . . . . . .5,0544,804-250
(b) Non-manual employees. . . . . . . .4777+30
(c3) Labourers. . . . . . . .1,5891,719+130
(c4) Labourers without allotments
. . . . . . . .






III . . . . . . .3,0103,241+231+7.7%
Totals. . .8,0648,045-19-0.2%

Thus, the active population has diminished, although only slightly. Among this population we see a diminution in the landowning section (1+ II) and an increase in the land less section (III). This clearly shows that the expropriation of the rural population is progressing, and that it is precisely the small landowners who are being expropriated; for we know by now that the wage-labourers with small plots of land belong to the group of smallest farmers. Furthermore, of the persons owning land, the number of farmer-labourers is diminishing, while the number of farmers is increasing. We see, therefore, the disappearance of middle groups and the growth of the extreme groups: the intermediary group is disappearing; capitalist contradictions are becoming more acute. Of the wage-labourers there is an increase in the number of those entirely expropriated, while the number owning land is diminishing. Of the farmers there is an increase in the number directly owning enterprises, while the number employed in the enterprises of heads of families is diminishing. (In all probability the latter circumstance is due to the fact that in the majority of cases working members of peasant families receive no pay whatever from the head of the family and for that reason are particularly prone to migrate to the cities.)

If we take the data on the population for whom agriculture is an auxiliary occupation, we shall see that this (active or self-employed), population increased from 3,144,000 to 3,578,000, i.e., by 434,000. This increase is almost entirely due to the growth in the number of working members of farmers’ families, which expanded by 397,000 (from 664,000 to 1,061,000). The number of farmers increased by 40,000 (from 2,120,000 to 2,160,000); the number of labourers owning land increased by 51,000 (from 9,000 to 60,000); while the number of landless labourers diminished by 54,000 (from 351,000 to 297,000). This enormous increase from 664,000 to 1,061,000, or 59.8% in the course of 13 years, is further evidence of the growth of proletarisation—the growth of the number of peasants, members of peasants’ families, who have come to regard agriculture merely as an auxiliary occupation. We know that in those cases the principal occupation is working for wages (next in importance being petty trading, handicraft, etc.). If we combine the numbers of all working members of peasant families—those for whom agriculture is the principal occupation and those for whom it is merely an auxiliary occupation—we shall get the following: 1882—2,559,000; 1895—2,960,000. This increase may easily provide occasion for erroneous interpretations and apologetic conclusions, especially if it is compared with the number of wage-labourers, which, on the whole, is diminishing. Actually, the general increase is obtained by the diminution in the number of working members of peasant families for whom agriculture is the principal occupation and by the increase in the number for whom it is an auxiliary occupation; the latter amounted in 1882 to only 21.7% of the total number of working members of peasant families, whereas in 1895 they amounted to 35.8%. Thus, the statistics covering the entire agricultural population distinctly reveal to us the two processes of proletarisation to which orthodox Marxism has always pointed, and which opportunist critics have always tried to obscure by stereotyped phrases. These processes are: on the one hand, the growing separation of the peasantry from the land, the expropriation of the rural population, which either moves to the towns or is turned from landowning labourers into landless labourers; on the other hand, the development of “auxiliary employment” among the peasantry, i.e., the combination of agriculture with industry, which marks the first stage of proletarisation and always leads to increased poverty (longer working day, malnutrition, etc.). Regarded only from the external aspect, these two processes, to a certain extent, even tend in opposite directions: an increase in the number of landless labourers and an increase in the number of working members of peasant landowning families. For this reason, to confound the two processes, or to ignore either of them, may easily lead to the crudest blunders, numerous examples of which are scattered through Bulgakov’s work.[80] Finally, the occupational statistics reveal to us a remarkable increase in the number of non-manual employees,[81] from 47,000 to 77,000, or 63.8%. Simultaneously with the growth of proletarisation, there is a growth of large-scale capitalist production, which requires non-manual employees to a degree rising in proportion to the increase in the use of machinery and the development of agricultural industries.

Thus, notwithstanding his vaunted “details”, Mr. Bulgakov proved unable to grasp the German data. In the occupational statistics he merely saw an increase in the number of landless labourers and a diminution in the number of landowning labourers, which he took to be an index of the “changes that have taken place in the organisation of agricultural labour” (II, 106). But these changes in the organisation of labour in German agriculture as a whole have remained for him a fortuitous and inexplicable fact, in no way connected with the general structure and evolution of agricultural capitalism. In reality, it is only one of the aspects of the process of capitalist development. Mr. Bulgakov’s opinion notwithstanding, the technical progress of German agriculture is first and foremost the progress of large-scale production, as has been irrefutably proved by statistics relating to the use of machinery, the percentage of enterprises using draught animals and the type used, the development of industries connected with agriculture, the growth of dairy farming, and so forth. Inseverably connected with the progress of large-scale production are the growth of the proletarisation and expropriation of the rural population; the expanding number of small allotment farms and of peasants whose principal source of livelihood is auxiliary occupations; the increased poverty among the middle-peasant population, whose farming conditions have deteriorated most (the largest increase in the percentage of horseless farms and in the percentage of farms using cows for field work), and, consequently, whose general living conditions and quality of land cultivation have undergone greatest deterioration.

X. The “Work” of the German Bulgakov, E. David[edit source]

Ed. David’s book, Socialism and Agriculture, is an exceptionally clumsy and cumbrous summary of all the erroneous methods and arguments which we have seen in the works of Bulgakov, Hertz, and Chernov. We could, there fore, completely ignore David; but since his “work” is undoubtedly at the present time the principal work of revisionism on the agrarian question, we think it necessary once again to show how the revisionist fraternity write learned treatises.

To the question of machinery in agriculture David devotes the whole of Chapter IV of his book (pp. 115-93 of the Russian translation), apart from numerous references to the same subject in other chapters. The politico-economic essence of the matter is completely submerged in hundreds of technicalities which the author examines in minute detail. Machinery does not play the same role in agriculture as in industry; in agriculture there is no central motor; most of the machines are only temporarily employed; some machines make no saving in production costs, and so on and so forth. David regards such conclusions (see pp. 190-93, the question of machinery summed up) as a refutation of Marxist theory! But this merely obscures the question instead of clarifying it. That agriculture is backward compared with manufacturing industry is not open to the slightest doubt. This backwardness requires no proof. By examining, point by point, the various ways in which that backwardness is displayed, by piling example upon example and case upon case, David merely pushes into the back ground the actual subject of the research, namely: is the use of machines of a capitalist character? Is the increased use of machines due to the growth of capitalist agriculture?

David utterly fails to understand how the question should be presented by a Marxist. David’s standpoint is essentially that of the petty bourgeois, who consoles himself with the relatively, slow progress of capitalism and is afraid to look at social evolution as a whole. Thus, on the question of agricultural machinery, David quotes Bensing, quotes him innumerable times[82] (pp. 125, 135, 180, 182, 184, 186, 189, 506, and others of the Russian translation). David can positively be said to exasperate the reader by passing from detail to detail without sifting his material, without coherence, without a reasoned presentation of the question, without aim. Consequently, David provides no summing up of Bensing’s conclusions. What I said in 1901 in opposition to Mr. Bulgakov fully applies to David.[83] First, a summary of Bensing’s conclusions shows the in disputable advantage which farms using machines have over those that do not use them. None of the “corrections” to Bensing in minor details, with which David has stuffed his book, can alter this conclusion. David passes over this general conclusion in silence in exactly the same way as Mr. Bulgakov did! Secondly, while quoting Bensing without end, without reason, without coherence, David, like Mr. Bulgakov, failed to note Bensing’s bourgeois views concerning machinery in both industry and agriculture. In short, David does not even understand the socio-economic aspect of the question. He is unable to generalise and connect the factual data showing the superiority of large-scale over small-scale production. As a result, nothing remains but the reactionary lamentations of the petty bourgeois who places his hopes in technical backwardness, in the slow development of capitalism. In the matter of theory, the Right-wing Cadet and “Christian” renegade Mr. Bulgakov is quite on a level with the opportunist Social-Democrat David.

David fails, hopelessly fails to understand the socio economic aspect of other questions as well. Take his fundamental thesis, his pet idea, the “kingpin” of the whole work: the viability of small-scale production in agriculture and its superiority to large-scale production. Ask David: What is small-scale production?

On page 29, footnote, you will find a neat answer: “Wherever we refer to small-scale production we mean the economic category which functions without regular outside assistance and without an auxiliary occupation.” Though clumsily expressed and poorly translated by Mr. Grossman, this is more or less clear. After that we have a right to expect David to outline the conditions of small-scale (in area) farming from the standpoint of the employment of hired labour, or the sale of the latter by the farmer.

Nothing of the kind.

Nothing brings out David’s bourgeois nature so strongly as his complete disregard of the question of the employment of hired labour by “small” farmers and of the conversion of the latter into wage-labourers. Complete disregard— that is literally true. Statistical data on this are to be found in German statistics; Kautsky quotes them briefly in his Agrarian Question(I have quoted them in detail[84] ). David knows those statistics, but he does not analyse them. He gives a mass of references to separate monographs, but completely ignores the data they contain on this question. In short, this is a case of a petty bourgeois completely passing over in silence the question of the “farm-hands” employed by the thrifty muzhik.

Here are examples:

On page 109 we read: “On the whole, in market gardening as in agriculture, small-scale production flourishes.”

You look for proof. All you are given is the following:

“According to the industrial statistics[85] for 1895, out of 32,540 orchards and vegetable gardens 13,247=40 per cent were of an area less than 20 ares; 8,257=25 per cent ranged from 20 to 50 ares; 5,707=14 per cent from 50 ares to one hectare; 3,397=10 per cent ranged in area from 1 to 2 hectares, and only 1,932=6 per cent occupied an area of 2 hectares and over.”

That is all. And this is supposed to prove that small-scale production is flourishing in market gardening. This is supposed to be a scientific work by a man well versed in agronomics. If it is, then we do not know what charlatanry in science is.

Only 6 per cent have an area of 2 hectares and over, says David. In the very same statistics from which he takes those figures there are figures showing the amount of land which these 6 per cent occupy. David ignores those figures. He ignores them because they demolish his theory. “But more than half of this area (51.39 per cent),” I wrote concerning those very figures,[86] “is concentrated in the hands of 1,932 proprietors, or 5.94 per cent of all the market gardeners.” Of these 1,932 market gardeners 1,441 have vegetable gardens ranging from two to five hectares, making an average of 2.76 hectares per farm and total land amounting to an average of 109.6 hectares per farm; 491 farmers have vegetable gardens of five hectares or more, making an average of 16.54 hectares per farm, and total land amounting to. an average of 134.7 hectares per farm (ibid.).

Thus, only 6 per cent of the market gardeners concentrate in their hands 51.39 per cent of the total market garden land. They are big capitalists for whom vegetable gardens are supplementary to capitalist agriculture (farms of 100 to 135 hectares). Consequently, market gardening is enormously concentrated capitalistically. But David has the

temerity to assert that “small-scale production is flourishing”, i.e., production not using hired labour. As to what size farms in market gardening require hired labourers he gives no information.

That is how the scholarly David handles statistics. An example of the way in which he handles monographs is provided by Hecht,[87] the same notorious Hecht quoted by Bulgakov, Hertz, and Chernov.[88] In his “work” David paraphrases Hecht for the space of two pages (pp. 394-95). But how does he paraphrase him? Not a word about hired labour. Not a word about the fact that Hecht embellishes the “settled state” of the factory worker who has a plot of land, lumping together workers and well-to-do peasants. Not a word about the fact that while a small number of well-to-do peasants are “flourishing”, the conditions of the bulk of the peasants are such that they even have to sell their milk and use cheaper margarine as a substitute.

David not only says nothing about this; he even declares that “Hecht quotes extremely interesting data on the high living standards of these peasants” (p. 395). A grosser example of bourgeois apologetics is difficult to imagine.

Incidentally, about Hecht’s statement that the peasants sell their milk in order to buy cheaper margarine. One would think that this is a generally known fact among economists. As far back as 1847, Marx in The Poverty of Philosophy referred to the deterioration of the people’s diet under capitalism.[89] In Russia, ever since the time of Engelhardt[90] (the 1870s), this fact has been noted very many times by all who have made a more or less conscientious study of the progress of capitalism in dairy farming. The “scholarly” David failed to notice this. He even sneers when socialists point to it.

On pages 427-28 of David’s book we read scoffing remarks about Kautsky, who says that the amalgamated dairies, which promote the sale of milk by the peasants, cause a deterioration in the latter’s diet. To enable the reader to judge the German Narodnik David at his true worth we shall quote his own words:

“...All other people are in the habit, when receiving a larger income, of using some part of it for the benefit of their stomachs. It is only human nature that a man should want to eat something better, if only he has a little money to enable him to do so. It is, therefore, very strange that the peasant who, as is generally admitted, is getting more money than before for his milk and pigs, thanks to the co-operative, should behave differently from other mortals,” and so on and so forth.

This buffoonery of a reactionary petty bourgeois is not worth answering, of course. It is sufficient to exhibit him to the reading public; it is sufficient to drag him into the light of day from under the heap of disconnected agronomic quotations scattered through five hundred and fifty pages. It is sufficient to note that even the bourgeois apologist Hecht, quoted by David, admits as a fact the deterioration in diet as a consequence of the substitution of cheap margarine for marketed milk. This applies to South Germany, the region where small-peasant farming predominates. Concerning another region, East Prussia, we have the very similar statement of Klawki[91] that the small peasants “consume very little butter and whole milk”.

David’s bourgeois apologetics can be traced in absolutely all the questions he deals with. Thus, he extols the dairy co-operatives of Germany and Denmark in over a score of pages (413-35 and others). He also quotes statistics... but only on the numerical growth of the co-operatives! He does not quote the German statistics showing the concentration of “co-operative” dairy farming iii the hands of big capitalist farms.[92] The Davids have a blind eye for such data in the statistics they handle!

“The Danish peasants organised in co-operatives,” says David, “have even excelled the privately owned farms of the big landed proprietors.” Then follows an example: a quotation from the 46th Report of a test laboratory to the effect that the butter produced by the co-operatives is of better quality than that manufactured by the landlord. And David continues:

“Such results have been achieved by peasants who at one time, on their small farms, produced only inferior grades of butter for which they obtained only half the price paid for that of the big proprietors. Moreover, by and large, we are dealing here with middle and small peasants [David’s italics]. In 1898, there were in Denmark 179,740.cow-sheds of which only 7,544 or 4 per cent contained 30 or more cows each; 49,371 or 27.82 per cent, each contained from 10 to 29 cows; 122,589, or 68.97 per cent contained less than 10 cows each. More than half of these cow-sheds, namely, 70,218, comprising 39.85 per cent of the total, contained only from 1 to 3 cows each, i.e., they belonged to quite small farms. That the great majority of these small farms belong to co-operative organisations is shown by the fact that in 1900 the milk of approximately 900,000 cows out of Denmark’s 1,110,000 milch cows was delivered to dairy co-operatives” (p. 424).

Thus argues the scholarly David. He avoids quoting precise data on the distribution of the cows among the farms in the various groups; that is distasteful to him. But even the fragmentary figures he does quote show that. he completely distorts the reality. By comparing the total number of cows with the distribution of cow-sheds according to the number of cattle in them we get the following picture, which, though an approximate one,[93] undoubtedly, on the whole, corresponds to the reality:

DenmarkNumber of farms (thousands)Number of cows in them (thousands)Number of cows per farm
Farms with 1 to 3 cows701001.43
" " 4 to 9 "522504.81
" " 10 to 29 "4955011.22
" " 30 or more "820025.00

From these figures it is seen, first, that the concentration of dairy farming in Denmark is very high. 750,000 cows out of 1,100,000, i. e., over two-thirds of the total, belong to the big farms—57,000 out of 179,000, i. e., less than a third of the total number of farmers. Since each of these farms has ten or more cows, they certainly do not dispense with hired labour. Thus, David “failed to notice” that the size of the farms which keep livestock is by no means small here; Danish farms must not be judged by area of land. David “failed to notice” that here, as everywhere and always in capitalist agriculture, a vast number of small farms account for an insignificant share of the total production. The small farmers number 70,000, i.e., nearly 40 per cent; but they own one-eleventh of the total number of cows.

Secondly, the figures quoted show that both in Denmark and in Germany the benefits of co-operation are enjoyed mainly by the capitalists. If out of 1,100,000 cows the milk of 900,000 is delivered to the dairy co-operatives, it follows that 200,000 cows remain outside the “beneficial” scope of co-operative marketing. These are mainly the cows of the smallest farmers, for we have seen from the figures for Germany that of the farms up to two hectares, only 0.3 per cent of the total belong to dairy co-operatives, but of the farms of 100 hectares and over, 35.1 per cent belong to such co-operatives. Consequently, all this leads us to assume that the small farmers (70,000 owning 100,000 cows) least enjoy the benefits of co-operative marketing.

The example of Denmark completely refutes David, since it proves that not the small, and not the medium, but the big farms predominate in the production of dairy produce.

To put some life into these lifeless figures and tables and show the class character of bourgeois agriculture (which the obtuse petty bourgeois David totally ignores) we shall quote an outstanding fact from the history of the working-class movement in Denmark. In 1902, the Danish shipowners reduced the wages of the stokers, who answered by going on strike. The union to which all the dock workers belonged supported the stokers and also ceased work. But ... they were unable to make the strike a general one, to extend it to all the ports of Denmark. “Port Esbjerg [on the west coast of Denmark, important for trade with England], which plays such a great part in the. export of Danish agricultural produce, could not be drawn into the strike because the Danish agricultural co-operatives declared that they would immediately send the required number of their members to work on loading the ships, that the Danish peasants would not allow a stoppage in the export of their produce.”[94]

Thus, the Danish co-operatives took the side of the shipowners against the workers and made the strike a failure. It is quite understandable, of course, that capitalist farmers, owning ten and more cows each, should support their fellow-capitalists against the workers. What is not understandable is that writers like David, who gloss over the class struggle, call themselves socialists.

On the question of combining farming with technical-crop industries (sugar refining, distilling, etc.) David makes the very same mistake as Mr. Bulgakov. Like the Russian professor, the German “learned” opportunist simply copied the tables given in the German enquiry, without stopping to think what these tables refer to! Kautsky asserts that sugar production is an example of agricultural large-scale industry. To refute this David, like Bulgakov, quotes figures showing that there are more small farms connected with technical-crop industries than big ones (pages 406, 407, and 410 of David’s book). The learned statistician forgot that, in general, there are more small farms than big ones. Instead of showing what percentage of the farms in each group is combined with technical industries he copied a table giving the percentage of such farms in each group in relation to the total number of farms. I have already dealt in detail with this mistake made by Mr. Bulgakov.[95] It only remains for me to point out that the equally scientifically conscientious Ed. David equally failed to take the trouble to glance at the figures showing what share of the land under sugar beet is in the hands of capitalists.

What a comical degree of soul affinity exists between the German opportunist and the Russian liberal professor can be seen from the fact that not only do they both handle statistics with the same carelessness and lack of skill, but both quote Marx with the same carelessness. Like Bulgakov David recognises the “law of diminishing returns”. True, he tries to expound it with special limitations, to surround it with special conditions, but that does not improve matters in the least. For example, on page 476, David says that “this law does not at all concern the change of productivity in the transition from one scientific-technical stage of agriculture to another. It concerns exclusively the change of productivity at one and the same scientific-technical stage.” This is exactly the limitation of the notorious law that I mentioned when opposing Mr. Bulgakov,[96] and I at once added that this makes the “law” “so relative that it cannot be called a law, or even a cardinal specific feature of agriculture”.

Nevertheless, David continues to elevate this law to a specific feature of agriculture. The result is a hopeless muddle, for if “scientific-technical” conditions remain unchanged, additional investments of capital are extremely restricted in industry too.

“The backwardness of agriculture,” says David in the concluding chapter, “is due, in the first place, to the conservatism of organic nature, which finds expression in the law of diminishing returns” (501). This conclusion throws overboard the very thesis that has just been put forward, namely, that the “law” does not apply to transitions to a higher technical stage! “The conservatism of organic nature” is simply a verbal subterfuge of reactionary philistinism, which is incapable of understanding the social conditions that hinder particularly the development of agriculture. David shows that he does not understand that among those social conditions are, first, the survivals of feudalism in agriculture, the inequality of rights of agricultural labourers, and so on and so forth; and secondly, ground rent, which inflates prices and embodies high rents in the price of land.

“We think,” writes David, “that German agriculture today could not produce the total quantity of grain required at the level of productivity which, thanks to overseas production, is considered normal from the standpoint of world economy. The law of diminishing returns does not permit an unlimited increase in the quantity of products on a limited area of land without a diminution in productivity” (519)—the last sentence is in italics in David’s book.

Take a look, if you please, at this economist! He declares that the “law” of diminishing returns deals exclusively with the change of productivity at one and the same scientific-technical stage (476). Yet he draws the conclusion: “the law does not permit an ‘unlimited’ increase in the quantity of products!” (519). Why, then, does it follow that German agriculture could not be raised to the next “scientific technical stage” if this were not prevented by the private ownership of the land, by inflated rent, by the lack of rights, the downtrodden state, and degradation of the agricultural labourer, by the barbarous medieval privileges of the Junkers?

The bourgeois apologist naturally tries to ignore the social and historical causes of the backwardness of agriculture and throws the blame on the “conservatism of organic nature” and on the “law of diminishing returns”. That notorious law contains nothing but apologetics and obtuseness.

To cover up his shameful retreat to the old prejudices of bourgeois political economy David, exactly like Bulgakov, presents us with a falsified quotation from Marx. David quotes the same page of Volume III of Capital (III. B., II. Teil, S. 277) which Mr. Bulgakov quotes! (See page 481 of David’s book and our previous criticism of Mr. Bulgakov.[97] )

What I have said about the scientific conscientiousness of Mr. Bulgakov applies wholly to David as well. Mr. Bulgakov garbled a passage from Marx. David con fined him self to quoting the first words of the same passage: “Concerning decreasing productiveness of the soil with successive investments of capital, see Liebig” (Das Kapital, III. B., II. Teil, S. 277).[98] Like Bulgakov, David distorted Marx, making it appear to the reader that this is the only reference by Marx. Actually, we repeat, anyone who has read Volume III of Capital (and the second part of Volume II of Theorien über den Mehrwert[99]) knows that the opposite is the case. Marx points out dozens of times that he regards cases of diminished productivity of additional investments of capital as being quite as legitimate and quite as possible as cases of increased productivity of additional investments of capital.

In a footnote on page 481 David promises in the future to examine the connection between this law and rent, and also “to examine critically Marx’s attempt to develop and extend the theory of rent, while rejecting the basis given by Malthus and Ricardo”.

We venture to predict that David’s critical examination will be a repetition of bourgeois prejudices à la Mr. Bulgakov, or... à la Comrade Maslov.

Let us now examine another radically erroneous thesis of David’s. To refute his apologetics or his distortion of statistics is a very thankless task. On the question we are now about to deal with we have some new data which enable us to contrast a factual picture of reality with the theories of present-day philistinism.

XI. Livestock in Small and Large Farms[edit source]

The “critics” or Bernsteinians in the agrarian question, when defending small-scale production, very often refer to the following circumstance. Small farmers keep far more cattle on a given unit of land than big farmers. Consequently, they say, the small farmers manure their land better. Their farms are on a technically higher level, for manure plays a decisive role in modern agriculture, and the manure obtained from cattle kept on the farm is far superior to any artificial fertilisers.

Ed. David in his book Socialism and Agriculture attaches decisive significance to this argument (pp. 326, 526, and 527 of the Russian translation). He writes in italics: “manure is the soul of agriculture” (p. 308), and makes this truism the main basis of his defence of small-scale farming. He quotes German statistics showing that the small farms keep far more cattle per unit of land than the big ones. David is convinced that these figures definitely decide in his favour the question of the advantages of large-scale or small-scale production in agriculture.

Let us examine this theory and the manurial soul of agriculture more closely.

The main argument advanced by David and his numerous adherents among the bourgeois economists is a statistical one. They compare the number of cattle (per unit of land) on different-sized farms, it being tacitly assumed that identical quantities are compared, i. e., that an equal number of cattle of a particular kind represents an equal agricultural value, so to speak, on both big and small farms. It is assumed that an equal number of cattle provides an equal quantity of manure, that the cattle on big and small farms have more or less the same qualities, and so forth.

Obviously, the cogency of the argument in question depends entirely upon whether this usually tacit assumption is correct. Is this postulate correct? If we pass from the bare and rough, indiscriminate statistics to an analysis of the socio-economic conditions of small-scale and large-scale agricultural production as a whole we shall find at once that that postulate takes for granted the very thing that has still to be proved. Marxism affirms that the conditions under which cattle are kept (and also, as we have seen, the tending of the land and the conditions of the agricultural worker) are worse in small-scale than in large-scale farming. Bourgeois political economy asserts the opposite, and the Bernsteinians repeat this assertion, namely, that thanks to the diligence of the small farmer, cattle are kept under far better conditions on a small farm than on a big one. To find data which would throw light on this question requires quite different statistics from those with which David operates. It requires a statistical study not of the number of cattle on different-sized farms, but of their quality. Such a study exists in German economic literature, and perhaps more than one. It is highly characteristic that David, who filled his book with a mass of irrelevant quotations from all kinds of works on agronomics, completely ignored the attempts to be found in the literature to reveal the internal conditions of small-scale and large-scale farming by means of detailed research. We shall acquaint the reader with one of those researches undeservedly ignored by David.

Drechsler, a well-known German writer on agricultural questions, published the results of a monographic “agricultural statistical investigation”, which, he rightly said, “for the accuracy of its results is surely without equal”. In the Province of Hanover, 25 settlements were investigated (22 villages and three landlord estates), and data showing not only the amount of land and number of cattle, but also the quality of the cattle were collected separately for each farm. To determine the quality of the cattle a particularly accurate method was adopted: the live weight[100] of each animal was ascertained in kilogrammes “on the basis of the most careful possible appraisal of the individual animals—an appraisal made by experts”. Data were obtained giving the live weight of each type of animal on different-sized farms. The investigation was carried out twice: the first in 1875, the second in 1884. The figures were published by Drechsler[101] in rough form for each of three estates and for three groups of villages, the peasant farms in the villages being divided into seven groups according to the amount of land (over 50 hectares; 25 to 50; 12.5 to 25; 7.5 to 12.5; 2.5 to 7.5; 1.25 to 2.5, and up to 1.25 hectares). Considering that Drechsler’s figures relate to eleven different types of animals, the reader will realise how complicated all these tables are. To obtain summarised figures which will enable us to draw general and basic conclusions, we shall divide all the farms into five main groups: (a) big estates; (b) peasant farms having over 25 hectares of lands; (c) 7.5 to 25 hectares; (d) 2.5 to 7.5 hectares; and (e) less than 2.5 hectares.

The number of farms in these groups and the amount of land in them in 1875 and in 1884 were as follows:

















(a) Estates36892293766255
(b) Farms of 25 ha and over511,94938582,44942
(c) " 7.5 to 25 ha2743,540132483,13512
(d) " 2.5 to 7.5 "4421,8954.34071,7744.3
(e) " up to 2.5 "1,4491,2790.881,1091,0270.9

To explain these figures we shall deal first of all with the economic types of the different-sized farms. Drechsler considers that all the farms of 7.5 hectares and over employ hired labour. Thus, we get (in 1875) 325 peasant farms employing workers. All the farmers having up to 2.5 hectares have to hire themselves out. Of the farmers having 2.5 to 7.5 hectares (average=4.3 ha) half, according to Drechsler’s calculations, do not employ labour, while the other half have to provide hired labourers. Thus, of the total peasant farms, 325 are capitalist farms, 221. are small “Trudovik” farms (as our Narodniks would call them) which do not employ labour nor provide hired labourers, and 1,670 are semi-proletarian, which provide hired labourers.

Unfortunately, Drechsler’s grouping differs from that of the general German statistics, which regard as middle peasants those having from 5 to 20 hectares. Nevertheless, it remains an undoubted fact that the majority of these middle peasants do not dispense with hired workers. The “middle peasants” in Germany are. small capitalists. The peasants who do not hire labour and do not hire themselves out constitute an insignificant minority: 221 out of 2,216, i.e., one-tenth.

Thus, the groups of farms which we have selected according to their economic type are characterised as follows: (a) big capitalist; (b) middle capitalist (“Grossbauer”); (c) small capitalist; (d) small peasant; and (e) semi-proletarian.

The total number of farms and the total amount of land they occupied diminished between 1875 and 1884. This decrease mainly applied to the small farms: the number of farms occupying up to 2.5 hectares dropped from 1,449 to 1,109, i. e., by 340, or nearly one-fourth. On the other hand, the number of the biggest farms (over 25 hectares) increased from 54 to 61, and the amount of land they occupied increased from 2,638 to 3,215 hectares, i.e., by 577 hectares. Consequently, the general improvement in farming and the raising of agricultural standards in the given area, about which Drechsler goes into raptures, signify the concentration of agriculture in the hands of a diminishing number of owners: “Progress” has pushed out of agriculture nearly 400 farmers out of 2,219 (by 1884 there remained 1,825), and raised the average amount of land per farm among the remainder from 4.2 to 5 hectares. In one locality capitalism concentrates the given branch of agriculture and pushes a number of small farmers into the ranks of the proletariat. In another locality the growth of commercial farming creates a number of new small farms (for example dairy farming in suburban villages and in entire countries which export their produce, such as Denmark). In still other localities the splitting up of the medium farms increases the number of small farms. Indiscriminate statistics conceal all these processes, for the study of which detailed investigations must be made.

The progress of agriculture in the locality described found particular expression in the improvement of livestock rearing, although the total head of livestock diminished. In 1875, there were 7,208 head of livestock (in terms of cattle); in 1884 there were 6,993. Going by the gross statistics, this decrease in the total number of livestock would be a sign of decline in livestock breeding. Actually, there was an improvement in the quality of the stock, so that, if we take not the number of animals, but their total “live weight”, we shall get 2,556,872 kilogrammes in 1875 and 2,696,107 kilogrammes in 1884.

Capitalist progress in livestock rearing shows itself not only, sometimes even not so much, in an increase in numbers as in an improvement in quality, in the replacement of inferior by better cattle, increase in fodder, etc.

Average Number of Livestock per Farm





(in terms of cattle)
(a) Estates1056917411041151
(b) Farms of 25 ha and over13.
(c) " 7.5 to 25 ha5.
(d) " 2.5 to 7.5 "
(e) " up to 2.5 "

On the biggest farms the number of cattle diminished. In the smallest the number grew, and the smaller the farm the more rapid was the increase. This seems to show progress in small-scale and regression in large-scale production, that is, confirmation of David’s theory, does it not? But we have only to take the figures of the average weight of the cattle for this illusion to be dispelled.

Average weight per animal (kilogrammes)




(a) Estates562499537617624619
(b) Farms of 25 ha and over439300376486349427
(c) " 7.5 to 25 ha409281356432322382
(d) " 2.5 to 7.5 "379270337404287352
(e) " up to 2.5 "350243280373261301

The first conclusion to be drawn from these figures is that the bigger the farm the better the quality of the cattle. The difference in this respect between the capitalist farms and the small-peasant, or semi-proletarian, farms is enormous. For example, in 1884, this difference between the biggest and smallest farms was over one hundred per cent: the average weight of the average animal on the big capitalist farms was 619 kilogrammes; on the semi-proletarian farms it was 301 kilogrammes, i.e., less than half! One can judge from this how superficial are the arguments of David and those who think like him when they assume that the quality of the cattle is the same on large and small farms.

We have already mentioned above that cattle are generally kept worse in small farms. Now we have factual confirmation of this. The figures for live weight give us a very accurate idea of all the conditions under which the cattle are kept: feeding, housing, work, care—all this is summarised, so to speak, in the results which found statistical expression in Drechsler’s monograph. It turns out that for all the “diligence” displayed by the small farmer in care for his cattle—a diligence extolled by our Mr. V.V.[103] and by the German David—he is unable even approximately to match the advantages of large-scale production, which yields products of a quality twice as good. Capitalism condemns the small peasant to eternal drudgery, to a wasteful expenditure of labour, for with insufficient means, insufficient fodder, poor quality cattle, poor housing, and so forth, the most careful tending is a sheer waste of labour. In its appraisal bourgeois political economy puts in the forefront not this ruin and oppression of the peasant by capitalism, but the “diligence” of the toiler (toiling for the benefit of capital under the worst conditions of exploitation).

The second conclusion to be drawn from the figures quoted above is that the quality of cattle improved during the ten years both on the average and in all the categories of farms. But as a result of this general improvement, the difference in the conditions of livestock rearing in the large and small farms became not less, but more glaring. The general improvement widened rather than narrowed the gulf between the large and small farms, for in this process of improvement large-scale farming outstrips small-scale farming. Here is a comparison of the average weight of the average animal by groups in 1875 and in 1884.

Average weight of

average animal in kilogrammes

Increase Percent


(a) Estates537619+82+15.2
(b) Farms of 25 ha and over376427+51+13.6
(c) " ” 7.5 to 25 ha356382+26+7.3
(d) " " 2.5 to 7.5 "337352+15+4.4
(e) " " up to 2.5 "280301+21+7.5

The improvement is greatest on the big capitalist farms, then come the medium-sized capitalist farms; it is entirely negligible on the small peasant farms and very inconsiderable in the rest. Like the great majority of agronomists who write on problems of agricultural economics, Drechsler noted only the technical aspect of the matter. In the fifth conclusion he draws from the comparison between 1875 and 1884 he says: “A very considerable improvement in.the keeping of livestock[104] has taken place: a reduction in the number of cattle and an improvement in quality; the aver age live weight per animal increased considerably in each of the three groups of villages.[105] That shows that the marked improvement in cattle rearing, feeding, and tending of cattle was more or less general (ziemlich allgemein).”

The words “more or less general”, which we have underlined, show precisely that the author ignored the socio-economic aspect of the question; “more” applies to the big farms, “less” to the small ones. Drechsler overlooked this, because he paid attention only to the figures concerning the groups of villages and not groups of farms of different types.

Let us now pass to the figures on draught animals, which throw light on farming conditions in the narrow sense of the term “agriculture”. In regard to the number of draught animals the farms under review are characterised by the following figures:

Average number of draught animals per farm
(a) Estates2744
(b) Farms of 25 ha and over4.75.5
(c) " " 25 ha2.12.4
(d) " " 2.5 to 7.5 "1.31.5
(e) " " up to 2.5 "0.070.16

Thus, the overwhelming majority of the semi-proletarian farms (up to 2.5 hectares; in 1884, they numbered 1,109 out of 1,825) had no draught animals at all. They cannot even be regarded as agricultural farms in the real sense of the term. In any case, as regards the use of draught animals, there can be no comparison between the big farms and those farms of which 93 or 84 per cent employ no draught animals at all. If, however, we compare the big capitalist farms with the small peasant farms in this respect, we shall find that the former (group a) have 132 draught animals to 766 hectares of land, and the latter (group d) 632 to 1,774 hectares (1884), i.e., the former has one draught animal to approximately six hectares, and the latter one to approximately three hectares. Obviously, the small farms spend twice as much on the keeping of draught animals. Small-scale production implies dispersion of the technical means of farming and a squandering of labour as a result of this dispersion. This dispersion is partly due to the fact that the small farmers are obliged to use draught animals of an inferior quality, that is, to use cows as draught animals. The percentage of cows in relation to the total number of draught animals was as follows:

(a) Estates
(b) Farms of 25 ha and over2.5%
(c) " " 7.5 to 25 ha6.3%11.4%
(d)" ” 2.5 to 7.5 "60.7%64.9%
(e)" ” up to 2.5 "67.7%77.9%

From this it is clearly evident that the use of cows in field work is increasing, and that cows are the principal draught animals on the semi-proletarian and small-peasant farms. David is inclined to regard this as progress in exactly the same way as Drechsler, who takes entirely the bourgeois standpoint. In his conclusions Drechsler writes: “A large number of the small farms have gone over to the use of cows as draught animals, which is more expedient for them.” It is “more expedient” for the small farmers because it is cheaper. And it is cheaper because inferior draught animals are substituted for better ones. The progress of the small peasants which rouses the admiration of the Drechslers and Davids is quite on a par with the progress of the vanishing hand weavers, who are going over to worse and worse materials, waste products of the mills. The average weight of draught cows in 1884 was 381 kilogrammes,[106] that of draught horses being 482 kilogrammes, and oxen 553 kilogrammes. The latter type of draught animal, the strongest, accounted in 1884 for more than half of the total draught animals of the big capitalist farmers, for about a fourth of those of the medium and small capitalists, for less than a fifth of those of the small peasants, and for less than a tenth of those of the semi-proletarian farmers. Consequently, the bigger the farm the higher the quality of the draught animals. The average weight of an average draught animal was as follows:

(a) Estates554598
(b) Farms of 25 ha and over542537
(c) " 7.5 to 25 ha488482
(d) " 7.5 "404409
(e) " up to 2.5 "377378

Consequently, on the whole, the draught animals have deteriorated. Actually, in the large capitalist farms we see a considerable improvement;.in all the others there was either no change, or a deterioration. As regards the quality of draught animals, the difference between large-scale and small-scale production also increased between 1875 and 1884. The use of cows as draught animals by the small farmers has become general practice in Germany.[107] Our figures show with documentary accuracy that this practice denotes a deterioration of the conditions of agricultural production, the increasing poverty of the peasantry. To complete our survey of the data in Drechsler’s mono graph, we shall quote an estimate of the number and weight of all animals per unit of land area, i. e., the estimate which David made on the basis of the general statistics of German agriculture:

Per hectare of land there were
Total number of

livestock (in terms

of cattle)
Weight of total

livestock in

(a) Estates0.770.59408367
(b) Farms of 25 ha and over0.630.57238244
(c)" ” 7.5 to 25 ha0.710.72254277
(d)" ” 2.5 to 7.5 "0.850.94288328
(e) " " up to 2.5 "1.021.18286355

The figures of the number of livestock per hectare of land are the figures to which David confines himself. In our example, as in German agriculture as a whole, these figures show a reduction in the number of livestock per unit of land area in the big farms. In 1884, for example, the semi-proletarian farms had exactly twice as many cattle per hectare as the big capitalist farms (1.18 as against 0.59). But we are already aware that this estimate seeks to compare the incomparable. The actual relationship between the farms is shown by the figures for weight of livestock: in this respect, too, large-scale production is in a better position than small-scale, for it has the maximum of livestock in weight per unit of land area, and consequently, also the maximum of manure. Thus, David’s conclusion that, on the whole, the small farms are better supplied with manure is the very opposite of the truth. Moreover, it must be borne in mind, first, that our figures do not cover artificial fertilisers, which only well-to-do farmers can afford to buy; and secondly, that comparing the amount of livestock by weight puts cattle and smaller animals on the same level, for example, 45,625 kilogrammes—the weight of 68 head of cattle in the big farms and 45,097 kilogrammes—the weight of 1,786 goats in the small farms (1884). Actually, the advantage the big farms enjoy as regards supplies of manure is greater than that shown in our figures.[108]

Summary: by means of the phrase “manure is the soul of agriculture”, David evaded socio-economic relations in livestock farming in particular and presented the matter in an utterly false light.

Large-scale production in capitalist agriculture has a tremendous advantage over small-scale production as regards the quality of livestock in general, and of draught animals in particular, as regards the conditions under which the, livestock is kept, its improvement, and its utilisation for providing manure.

XII. The “Ideal Country” from the Standpoint of the Opponents of Marxism on the Agrarian Question[edit source]

This article is a chapter (XII) of the author’s book The Agrarian Question and the “Critics of Marx” included in his recently published book The Agrarian Question, Part I (St. Petersburg, 1908). Only accidental delay in delivering this chapter prevented it from being included in the above-mentioned book. Hence, all the references given in the portion now published are to that book. —Lenin

Agrarian relations and the agrarian system in Denmark are especially interesting for the economist. We have already seen[109] that Ed. David, the principal representative of revisionism in contemporary literature on the agrarian question, strongly stresses the example of the Danish agricultural unions and Danish (supposedly) “small peasant” farming. Heinrich Pudor, whose work Ed. David uses, calls Denmark “the ideal country of agricultural co-operation”.[110] In Russia, too, the exponents of liberal and Narodnik views no less frequently resort to Denmark as their “trump card” against Marxism in support of the theory of the vitality of small-scale production in agriculture—take, for example, the speech of the liberal Hertzenstein in the First Duma and that of the Narodnik Karavayev in the Second Duma.

Compared with other European countries, “small-peasant” farming is indeed most widespread in Denmark; and agriculture, which has managed to adapt itself to the new requirements and conditions of the market, is most prosperous there. If “prosperity” is possible for small-scale farming in countries with commodity production, then, of course, of all European countries, Denmark is most favourably situated in that respect. A close study of the agrarian system in Denmark is, therefore, doubly interesting. We shall see from the example of a whole country what methods are employed by the revisionists in the agrarian question, and what the main features of the capitalist agrarian system really are in the “ideal” capitalist country.

Denmark’s agricultural statistics are compiled on the model of those of other European countries. In some respects, however, they give more detailed information and more elaborate figures, which enable one to study aspects of the question that usually remain in the shade. Let us start with the general data on the distribution of farms by groups according to area. We shall calculate the “hartkorn”, the customary measure of land in Denmark, in terms of hectares, counting 10 hectares to one hartkorn, as indicated in the Danish agricultural statistics.[111]

Danish agricultural statistics give information on the distribution of farms for the years 1873, 1885, and 1895. All the farms are divided into 11 groups, as follows: owning no land; up to 0.3 hectares (to be more precise: up to 1/32 of a hartkorn); 0.3 to 2.5 ha; 2.5 to 10 ha; 10 to 20 ha; 20 to 40 ha; 40 to 80 ha; 80 to 120 ha; 120 to 200 ha; 200 to 300 ha; 300 ha and over. To avoid the attention of the reader being excessively dispersed, we shall combine these groups into six larger groups.

























Owning no land31,25313.335,32913.632,94612.4
Up to 2.5 ha65,49027.954,3401.582,48731.862,2601.792,65634.863,4901.8
2.5 to 10 "65,67227.9333,7609.167,77326.2345,0609.566,49125.0341,0209.4
10 to 40 "41,67117.7928,31025.543,74016.9966,85026.544,55716.8981,07026.8
40 to 120 "29,28812.51,809,59049.627,93810.81,722,82047.127,30110.31,691,95046.4
120 ha and over1,8560.7522,41014.31,9530.7551,53015.22,0310.7568,22015.6

The main conclusion to be drawn first of all from these data—one which bourgeois political economists and the revisionists who follow in their footsteps usually lose sight of—is that the bulk of the land in Denmark is owned by farmers engaged in capitalist agriculture. There can be no doubt that not only farmers owning 120 hectares and over run their farms with the aid of hired labour, but also those owning 40 hectares or more. These two higher groups accounted for only 11 per cent of the total number of farms in 1895, but they owned 62 per cent, or more than three-fifths of the total land. The basis of Danish agriculture is large-scale and medium capitalist agriculture. All the talk about a “peasant country” and “small-scale farming” is Sheer bourgeois apologetics, a distortion of the facts by various titled and untitled ideologists of capital.

It should be mentioned in this connection that in Den mark, as in other European countries where the capitalist system of agriculture is fully established, the share of the higher capitalist groups in the whole national economy changes only slightly in the course of time. In 1873, 13.2 per cent of the capitalist farms occupied 63.9 per cent of all the land; in 1885, 11.5 per cent of the farms occupied 62.3 per cent of the land. This stability of large-scale farming must always be borne in mind when comparing the data for different years; for it is often possible to notice in the literature that the main features of the given socio economic system are glossed over by means of such comparisons concerning changes in details.

As in other European countries, the mass of small farms in Denmark account for an insignificant part of the total agricultural production. In 1895, the number of farms with areas of up to 10 hectares accounted for 72.2 per cent of the total number of farms, but they occupied only 11.2 per cent of the land. In the main, this ratio was the same in 1885 and in 1873. Often the small farms belong to semi proletarians—as we have seen, the German statistics bore this out fully in regard to farms of up to two hectares, arid partly also in regard to farms of up to five hectares. Later on, when quoting figures of livestock owned by the farms in the various groups, we shall see that there can be no question of any really independent and more or loss stable agriculture as far as the bulk of these notorious representatives of “small-scale farming” are concerned. 47.2 per cent, i. e., nearly half of the farms are proletarian or semi-proletarian (those owning no land and those owning up to 2.5 hectares); 25 per cent, i.e., a further quarter of the farms (2.5 to 10 hectares), belong to needy small peasants— such is the basis of the “prosperity” of agricultural capitalism in Denmark. Of course, land area statistics can give us only a general idea in total figures of a country with highly developed commercial livestock farming. As the reader will see, however, the figures of livestock, which we examine in detail below, only strengthen the conclusions that have been drawn.

Now let us see what changes took place in Denmark between 1873 and 1895 in the distribution of land as between big and small farms. What strikes us immediately here is the typically capitalist increase at the extremes, and the diminution in the proportion of medium farms. Taking the number of agricultural farms (not counting farms with out land), the proportion of the smallest farms, those up to 2.5 hectares, increased 27.9 per cent in 1873, 31.8 per cent in 1885, and 34.8 per cent in 1895. The proportion diminished in all the medium groups, and only in the highest group, 120 hectares and over, did it remain unchanged (0.7 per cent). The percentage of the total land occupied by the largest farms, 120 hectares and over, increased, being 14.3 per cent, 15.2 per cent, and 15.6 per cent in the respective years; there was also an increase, but not to the same extent, among the medium peasant farms (those from 10 to 40 hectares: 25.5 per cent, 26.5 per cent, and 26.8 per cent for the respective years), while the total number of farms in this group diminished. There is an irregular in crease in the farms of 2.5 to 10 hectares (9.1 per cent, 9.5 per cent, and 9.4 per cent for the respective years) and a steady increase in the smallest farms (1.5 per cent, 1.7 per cent, and 1.8 per cent). As a result, we have a very clearly marked tendency towards growth of the biggest and smallest farms. To obtain a clearer idea of this phenomenon we must take the average area of farms according to groups for the respective years. Here are the figures:

Groups of farmsAverage area of farms (hectares)
Up to 2.5 ha0.830.750.68
2.5 to 10 "
40 to 4022.2822.0822.01
40 to 12O61.0061.6661.97
120 ha and over281.40282.30279.80

From these statistics we see that in the majority of groups the area of farms is extremely stable. The fluctuations are insignificant, being one to two per cent (for example: 279.8 to 282.3 hectares, or 22.01 to 22.28 hectares, etc.). The only exception is seen in the smallest farms, which are undoubtedly splitting up: a decrease in the average area of those farms (up to 2.5 hectares) by ten per cent between 1873 and 1885 (from 0.83 hectares to 0.75 hectares) and also between 1885 and 1895. The general increase in the total number of farms in Denmark is proceeding with almost no change in the total area of land (between 1885 and 1895 there was even a slight decrease in the total area of land). The increase in the main affects the smallest farms. Thus, between 1873 and 1895 the total number of farms increased by 30,752, while the number of farms up to 2.5 hectares increased by 27,166. Clearly, this decrease in the average area of all farms in Denmark (15.5 hectares in 1873, 14.1 in 1885, and 13.7 in 1895) really signifies nothing more than the splitting-up of the smallest farms. The phenomenon we have noted becomes still more striking when we take the smaller divisions of groups. In the preface to the Danish agricultural statistics for 1895 (Dan marks Statistik, etc. Danmarks Jordbrug, 4-de Raekke, Nr. 9, litra C)[112] the compilers show the following changes in the number of farms according to groups:

Groups of farmsPer cent increase or decrease
1885 to 18951873 to 1885
300 ha and Over+4.2+5.0
200 to 300 ha0+6.1
120 to 200 "+5.2+5.1
80 to 120 "—1.5—2.1
40 to 80 "—2.4—5.0
20 to 40 "+1.0+3.6
10 to 20 "+2.8+6.5
2.5 to 10 "—1.9+3.2
0.3 to 2.5 "+2.1+17.8
0 to 0.3 "+25.1+37.9

Thus, the increase takes place in dwarf farms, which are either farms devoted to the cultivation of special crops or wage workers’ “farms”.

This conclusion is worth noting, because apologist professorial “science” is inclined to deduce from the decrease in the average area of all farms that small-scale production is beating large-scale production in agriculture. Actually we see progress in the largest scale agriculture, stability in the sizes of farms in all groups except the very smallest, and the splitting-up of the farms in this last group. This splitting-up must be ascribed to the decline and impoverishment of small-scale farming: another possible explanation, namely, the transition from agriculture in the narrow sense of the word to livestock farming, cannot be applied to all the smallest farms, for this transition is taking place in all groups, as we shall see in a moment. For the purpose of judging the scale on which farming is conducted in a country like Denmark, statistics on livestock farming are far more important than statistics on farm areas, be cause farming on different scales can be conducted on the same area of land when livestock and dairy farming are developing at a particularly fast rate.

It is well known that it is just this phenomenon that is observed in Denmark. The “prosperity” of Danish agriculture is due mainly to the rapid successes of commercial livestock rearing and the export of dairy produce, meaty eggs, etc., to Britain. Here we meet with the solemn statement by Pudor that Denmark “owes the colossal development of her dairy farming to the decentralisation of her cattle-breeding and livestock farming” (loc. cit., p. 48, Pudor’s italics). It is not surprising that a man like Pudor, an out-and-out huckster in his whole system of views, who totally fails to understand the contradictions of capitalism, should take the liberty of distorting facts in this way. It. is highly characteristic, however, that the petty bourgeois David, who, by some misunderstanding, passes as a socialist, uncritically trails along in his wake!

As a matter of fact, Denmark serves as a striking example of the concentration of livestock farming in a capitalist country. That Pudor arrived at the opposite conclusion is due only to his crass ignorance and to the fact that he distorted the scraps of statistics which he quotes in his pamphlet. Pudor quotes, and David slavishly repeats after him, figures showing the distribution of the total number of livestock farms in Denmark according to the number of animals per farm. According to Pudor, 39.85 per cent of the total number of farms having livestock have only from one to three animals each; 29.12 per cent have from four to nine animals each, etc. Hence, Pudor concludes, most of the farms are “small”; “decentralisation”, etc.

In the first place Pudor quotes the wrong figures. This has to be noted, because Pudor boastfully declares that in his book one may find all the “latest” figures; and the revisionists “refute Marxism” by referring to ignorant bourgeois scribblers. Secondly, and this is most important, the method of argument employed by the Pudors and Davids is too often repeated by our Cadets and Narodniks for us to refrain from dealing with it. Following such a method of argument we should inevitably come to the conclusion that industry in the most advanced capitalist countries is becoming “decentralised”; for everywhere and always the percentage of very small and small establishments is highest, and the percentage of large establishments is insignificant. The Pudors and the Davids forget a “trifle”: the concentration of by far the greater part of total production in large enterprises which constitute only a small percentage of the total number of enterprises. The actual distribution of the total cattle in Denmark according to the last census, taken on July 15, 1898, is shown in the following table.[113]

Farms havingNumber

of farms







1 head of cattle18,37610.218,3761.0
2 " " "27,39415.254,7883.1
3 " " "22,52212.567,5663.9
4 to 5 " " "27,56115.2121,7217.0
6 to " " "26,02214.4188,53310.8
10 to 14 " " "20,37511.3242,69013.9
15 to 29 " " "30,46016.9615,50735.3
30 to 49 " " "5,6503.1202,68311.6
50 to 99 " " "1,4980.899,1315.7
100 to 199 " " "5880.381,4174.7
200 head of cattle and over1950.152,3853.0

We see from this what role in the total livestock farming in Denmark is played by the numerous small farms and the few big farms, and what the famous “decentralisation” of production in the “ideal country” really amounts to. Small farms having one to three head of cattle number 68,292, or 37.9 per cent of the total; they have 140,730 head, i. e., only 8 per cent of the total. An almost equal number, 133,802, or 7.7 per cent, is owned by 783 big farmers comprising 0.4 per cent of the total number of farmers. Those in the first group have on an average a little over two head of cattle each, i.e., an obviously inadequate number with which to carry on commercial livestock farming; dairy and meat products can only be sold by cutting down household consumption (let us recall well-known facts: butter is sold and cheaper margarine is purchased for home use, etc.). Those in the second group have on an average 171 head of cattle each. They are the biggest capitalist farmers, “manufacturers” of milk and. meat; “leaders” of technical progress and of all sorts of agricultural associations, about which petty-bourgeois admirers of “social peace” wax so enthusiastic.

If we add together the small and medium farmers we shall get a total of 121,875 farmers, or two-thirds of the total (67.5 per cent), who own up to nine head of cattle each. They own 450,984 head of cattle, or one-fourth of the total (25.8 per cent). An almost equal number, i.e., 435,616 (25 per cent) is owned by farmers having 30 and more head of cattle each. Those farmers number 7,931, or 4.3 per cent of the total. “Decentralisation” indeed!

By combining the small divisions of Danish statistics given above into three large groups we get the following:

Farms havingNumber

of farms




of cattle




age per farm

1 to 3 head of cattle68,29237.9140,7308.02.1
4 to 9 " " "53,58329.6310,25417.85.8
10 head and over58,76632.51,293,81374.222.0

Thus, three-fourths of the total livestock farming in Denmark is concentrated in the hands of 58,766 farmers, that is, less than one-third of the total number of farmers. This one-third enjoys the lion’s share of all the “prosperity” of capitalism in Danish agriculture. It should be borne in mind that this high percentage of well-to-do peasants and rich capitalists (32.5 per cent, or nearly one-third) is obtained by an artificial method of calculation which eliminates all farmers who own no livestock. Actually, the percentage is much lower. According to the census of 1895, as we have seen, the total number of farmers in Denmark is 265,982; and the livestock census of July 15, 1898, puts the total number of farmers at 278,673. In relation to this actual total number of farmers, the 58,766 well-to-do and rich farmers represent only 21.1 per cent, i.e., only one-fifth. The number of “farmers” who own no land is 12.4 per cent of the total number of farmers in Denmark (1895: 32,946 out of 265,982), while the farmers who own no livestock[114] represent 35.1 per cent of the total number of farmers in Denmark, i.e., more than one-third (1898: 98,032 out of 278,673). One can judge from this the “socialism” of gentlemen of the David type who fail to see that the capitalist prosperity of Danish agriculture is based on the mass proletarianisation of the rural population, on the fact that the mass of the “farmers” are deprived of the means of production.

Note: The figures for 1898 differ from those for 1895 in regard to the distribution of farmsaccording to the amount of land. This may be due both to changes in time and to somewhat different methods of collecting information. But the general relation between the groups remains the same. The census of 1895 takes into account 45,860 hectares of undistributed land in addition to 3,645,750 hectares of distributed land. The group of farms with “amount of land unknown” (1898) consists largely of the lower groups, which is proved by tile number of livestock.

Agriculture and Livestock Farming in Denmark According to the Census of July 15, 1898

Groups of farmsNumber of farmsPer








Total cattlePer








Owning no land13,4354.81,9700.53,7070.34,6330.38,9430.88,8650.8220,1472.5
Amount of land unknown45,89816.5??28,9096.428,0722.642,1502.442,9874.042,6993.7780,5858.9
Up to 2.5 ha80,58228.955,2721.524,5405.566,1716.288,7205.199,7059.394,6568.11,649,45218.8
2.5 to 1063,42022.8323,4308.954,90012.2175,18216.4247,61814.2187,46017.5191,29116.41,871,24221.4
10 to 4045,51916.3984,98327.0133,79329.8303,24428.5515,83229.6383,95035.7308,86326.41,957,72622.3
40 to 12027,6209.91,692,28546.4168,41037.5361,66933.9639,56336.6310,68628.9409,29435.01,998,59522.8
120 ha and over2,2010.8588,31816.236,8078.1129,22012.1206,28111.840,6823.8112,8259.6289,1553.3

We shall now pass to the figures characterising agriculture and livestock farming in Denmark as a whole. The census of July 15, 1898 gives detailed information on the number of livestock of the various groups of farmers owning certain amounts of land. The number of these groups in the Danish statistics is particularly large (14 groups: with no land; with up to 1/32 of a hartkorn; 1/32 to 1/16; 1/16 to 1/8; 1/8 to 1/4; 1/4 to 1/2; 1/2 to 1; 1 to 2; 2 to 4; 4 to 8; 8 to 12; 12 to 20; 20 to 30; 30 and over); but we have reduced them to 6 large groups, as we did with the preceding figures.

From these figures we see first of all how great is the concentration of livestock farming as a whole in Denmark. Big capitalist farmers owning over 40 hectares of land constitute only one-tenth of the total number of farmers (10.7 per cent); but they concentrate in their hands more than three-fifths of all the land (62.6 per cent) and nearly half of all the livestock: 45.6 per cent of all the horses, 48.4 per cent of all the cattle, 32,7 per cent of all the sheep, and 44.6 per cent of all the pigs.

If to these capitalist farmers we add the well-to-do peas ants, i. e., those owning from 10 to 40 hectares, we shall get a little over a quarter of the total number of farmers (27.0 per cent) who concentrate in their hands nine-tenths of all the land, three-fourths of all the horses, four-fifths of all the cattle, seven-tenths of all the. pigs, and nearly half of all the poultry. The great bulk of the “farmers”, nearly three-fourths (73 per cent), own less than 10 hectares of land each and, on the whole, represent the proletarianised and semi-proletarianised mass, which plays an insignificant part in the sum total of the country’s agricultural and livestock economy.

As far as the distribution of the various types of animals is concerned, sheep and pig breeding deserve special attention. The first is a declining branch of livestock farming, unprofitable for the majority of European countries at the present time owing to market conditions and over seas competition. The state of the international market calls for other forms of livestock farming to take the place of sheep farming. On the other hand, pig breeding is a particularly profitable and rapidly developing branch of livestock farming for meat in Europe. Statistics show that sheep farming is also declining in Denmark, whereas pig breeding is increasing very rapidly. From 1861 to 1898, the number of sheep in Denmark dropped from 1,700,000 to 1,100,000. The number of cattle increased from 1,100,000 to 1,700,000. The number of pigs increased from 300,000 to 1,200,000, i.e., almost a fourfold increase.

Comparing the distribution of sheep and pigs among the small and big farms we thus clearly see in the former the maximum of routine, the least adaptability to the requirements of the market, and slowness in readjusting the farm to the new conditions. The big capitalist farms (40 to 120 hectares, 120 hectares and over) cut down unprofitable sheep farming most (28.9 per cent and 3.8 per cent of sheep, as against 33-37 per cent and 8-12 per cent of other types of live stock). The small farms were less adaptable: they still keep a larger number of sheep; for example, farms up to 2.5 hectares have 9.3 per cent of the total number of sheep, as against 6-5 per cent of the other types of livestock. They possess 8.1 per cent of the pigs—a smaller proportion than of sheep. The capitalists have 35 and 9.6 per cent, i.e., a larger share than of sheep. Capitalist agriculture is much better able to adapt itself to the requirements of the inter national market. In regard to the peasant, we still have to say, in the words of Marx: the peasant turns merchant and industrialist without the conditions enabling him to become a real merchant and industrialist.[115] The market demands of every farmer, as an absolute necessity, submission to the new conditions and speedy adjustment to them. But this speedy adjustment is impossible without capital. Thus, under capitalism small-scale farming is condemned to the utmost of routine and backwardness and the least adaptability to the market.

To envisage more concretely the real economic features of this needy mass and of the small wealthy minority, we shall quote figures of the average amount of land and livestock on the farms of the various groups. It is natural for bourgeois political economy (and for the revisionist gentry) to gloss over capitalist contradictions; socialist political economy must ascertain the difference in types of farms and standard of living between the prosperous capitalist farmers and the needy small farmers. See table, page 208.

Average per Farm

Groups of farmsHec-






Owning no land0.
Amount of land unknown?
Up to 2.5 ha0.
2.5 to 10 "
10 to 40 "
40 to 120 "
120 ha and over "267.316.758.793.718.551.2131.3

These figures clearly show that all three lower groups, comprising half the total number of farms, belong to poor peasants. “Farmers” owning no horses and no cows predominate. Only in the group with land up to 2.5 hectares is there one whole head of cattle, one sheep, and one pig per farm. Obviously, there can be no question of this half of the total number of farms making any profit out of dairy and meat livestock farming. For this half, the prosperity of Danish agriculture means dependence upon the big farmers, the necessity of seeking “auxiliary employment”, i.e., of selling their labour power in one way or another, perpetual poverty and semi-ruined farms.

Of course, this conclusion holds good only for the whole mass of those poorest farms. We have already shown with the aid of German, French, and Russian agricultural statistics that even among the farms having a small amount of land there are big livestock owners, tobacco growers, and so forth. The differentiation is deeper than can be imagined from the returns of Danish statistics. But this differentiation, by singling out in each group an insignificant minority of farms growing special crops, only emphasises the poverty and want of the majority of the farmers in the poorest groups.

Further, it is also evident from the figures quoted that even the group of small peasants owning from 2.5 hectares to 10 hectares cannot be regarded as being at all secure and economically well established. Let us recall the fact that in this group there are 63,000 farms, or 22.8 per cent of the total, and that the average is 0.9 horses per farm. The horseless farmers probably use their cows for draught, thus worsening the conditions of both agricultural farming (shallower ploughing) and livestock farming (weakening the cattle). The average number of cows in this group is 2.7 per farm. Even if the household consumption of milk and meat products is reduced—and such a reduction is it self a direct sign of bitter need—this number of cows could provide only a very small quantity of products for sale. The share such farms with an average of 2.7 cows and 3 pigs per household enjoy in the “prosperity” of the “national” sale of milk and meat to Britain can only be very in significant. With farms of this size, commercial agriculture and livestock farming mean, partly, selling what is necessary for the family, poorer diet, increased poverty, and partly, selling in very small quantities, i. e., under the most disadvantageous conditions, and the impossibility of having money put by to meet inevitable extra expenses. And the natural economy of the small peasant under the conditions prevailing in modern capitalist countries is doomed to stagnation, to a slow painful death; it certainly cannot prosper. The whole “trick” of bourgeois and revisionist political economy lies in not making a separate study of the conditions of this particular type of small farm, which is below the “average” (the “average” Danish farmer has 1.6 horses and 3.8 cows), and which represents the overwhelming majority of the total number of farms. Not only is this type of farm not specially studied; it is glossed over by references exclusively to “average” figures, to the general increase in “production” and “sales”, and by saying nothing about the fact that only the well-to-do farms, which represent the small minority, can sell profitably.

It is only among the farmers having from 10 to 40 hectares that we see a sufficient number of livestock to create the possibility of “prosperity”. But these farms represent only 16 per cent of the total. And it is questionable whether they manage entirely without hired labour, since they have on an average 21.6 hectares of land per farm. In view of the high degree of intensive farming in Denmark, farms of such dimensions probably cannot be carried on without the assistance of farm-hands or day-labourers. Unfortunately, both Danish statisticians and the majority of those who write about Danish agriculture adhere entirely to the bourgeois point of view and do not explore the question of hired labour, the size of farms requiring its employment, and so forth. From the Danish census of occupations of 1901 we learn only that in the group of “day-labourers”, etc., there are 60,000 men and 56,000 women, i. e., 116,000 out of a total of 972,000 of the rural population distributed according to occupation. As to whether these tens of thou sands of wage-workers (and in addition to them small peasants do “by work” for hire) are employed exclusively by the 30,00O big capitalist farmers (27,620 owning from 40 to 120 hectares and 2,201 owning over 120 hectares each), or whether some of them are also employed by the well-to-do peasants owning from 10 to 40 hectares, we have no information.

Of the two highest groups, the upper Thirty Thousand of Danish agriculture, there is little to say: the capitalist character of their agriculture and livestock farming is graphically illustrated by the figures quoted at the beginning.

Finally, the last data of general interest touched upon and partly analysed in Danish agricultural statistics are those relating to the question whether the development of livestock farming, that main foundation of the “prosperity” of the “ideal country”, is accompanied by a process of decentralisation or concentration. The statistics for 1898, already quoted by us, provide extremely interesting data compared with those for 1893; and for one type of livestock, the most important, it is true, namely, total cattle, we can also make a comparison between the figures for 1876 and 1898.

Between 1893 and 1898 the branch of livestock farming which made most progress in Denmark was pig breeding. Iii this period the number of pigs increased from 829,000 to 1,168,000, or by 40 per cent; while the number of horses increased only from 410,000 to 449,000, of cattle from 1,696,000 to 1,744,000, and the number of sheep even diminished. Who reaped the main benefits of this tremendous progress of the Danish farmers, united in innumerable co-operative societies? The compilers of the 1898 statistics answer this by comparing the returns for 1893 arid 1898. All the pig-owners are divided into four groups: big owners having 50 and more pigs; medium-big owners with from 15 to 49; medium-small owners with from 4 to 14; and small owners with from 1 to 3 pigs. The compilers give the following figures for these four groups:

Groups of farms18931898Per cent


or decrease
Per cent

distribu- tion of to- tal pigs

Number ofNumber of
50 head and over84479,2301,487135,99976.271.79.611.6
15 to 4920,602350,27730,852554,97948.258.442.347.5
4 to 1438,357211,86850,668282,64232.133.425.524.2
1 to 3108,820187,756108,544194,8730.33.822.616.7

These figures clearly show that a rapid concentration of livestock farming is taking place. The larger the farm, the more it gained from the “progress” of livestock farming. The big farms increased their number of livestock by 71.7 per cent; the medium-big farms increased theirs by 58.4 per cent; the medium-small farms by 33.4 per cent; and the small farms only by 3.8 per cent. The increase in wealth occurred mainly among the small “upper” minority. The total increase of pigs during the five years was 339,000; of these 261,000, or, more than three-fourths, were accounted for by the big and medium-big farms, numbering 32,000 (out of a total of 266,000-277,000 farms!). Small-scale production in livestock farming of this type is being ousted by large-scale production: during the five years there was an increase in the share of the big farms (from 9.6 per cent to 11.6 per cent) and that of the medium-big farms (from 42.3 per cent to 47.5 per cent); whereas that of the medium-small farms diminished (from 25.5 per cent to 24.2 per cent), and that of the small farms diminished still more (from 22.6 per cent to 16.7 per cent).

If instead of the hare figures of area we could get statistics of agricultural farming expressing the scale of production as precisely as the figures of the number of livestock express[116] the scale of livestock farming, there is no doubt that here as well we would see the process of concentration which the bourgeois professors and opportunists deny.

Still more interesting are the corresponding figures of total cattle. We can supplement the comparison of the figures of 1893 and 1898 made by the compilers of the 1898 statistics with the returns of the census of July 17, 1876. (Danmarks Statistik. Statistik Tabelvaerk, 4-de Raekke, litra C, Nr. 1. Kreaturholdet d. 17 juli, 1876, København, 1878.) Here are the figures for the three years.

Groups of farms187618931898Per cent increase or


Per cent distri

bution of total

Number ofNumber ofNumber of1876 to 18931893 to 1898
Number ofNumber of187618931891
50 head and over1,634156,7282,209221,6672,281232,93335.
15 to 4924,096514,67835,200793,47436,110818,19046.
4 to 1464,110504,19372,173539,30173,958552,94412.
1 to 378.156144,93070,218141,74868,292140,73010.

These figures, covering a longer period of time and a more important type of livestock, illustrate the process of capitalist concentration as graphically as those previously quoted. The growth of livestock farming in Denmark indicates the progress almost exclusively of large-scale capitalist farming. The total livestock increase between 1876 and 1898 was 424,000 head. Of these, 76,000 belonged to farms having 50 head and more, and 303,000 to farms having from 15 to 49 bead each, i.e., these upper 38,000 farms gained 379,000 head, or nearly nine-tenths of the total in crease. No more striking picture of capitalist concentration could be imagined.

The total number of cattle-owning farms increased between 1876 and 1898 by 12,645 (180,641-167,996), or by 7.5 per cent. The total population of Denmark increased between 1880 and 1901 (i. e., during a slightly shorter period of time) from 1,969,039 to 2,449,540,[117] i. e., by 24.4 per cent. Clearly, the relative number of “haves”, i. e., owners of livestock, diminished. The smaller part of the population belongs to the class of property-owners. The number of smallest owners (one to three head of livestock) steadily diminished. The number of medium-small owners (with 4 to 14 head) increased very slowly (+12.5 per cent between 1876 and 1893, +2.5 per cent between 1893 and 1898) and lagged behind the increase of the population. A real “and rapid increase is observed only in large-scale capitalist livestock farming. Between 1876 and 1893 the medium-big farms increased more rapidly than the big farms; but between 1893 and 1898, the biggest farms increased more rapidly.

Taking the figures for 1876 and 1898 for the group of biggest farms, i. e., owners of 200 or more head of cattle, we find that in 1876 they numbered 79 (0.05 per cent of the total number of livestock owners) with 18,970 head of cattle (1.4 per cent of the total); while in 1898, there were twice as many, viz., 195 (0.1 per cent of the total) with 52,385 head of cattle (3.0 per cent of the total). The number of the biggest farmers more than doubled and their output nearly trebled.

The ousting of small-scale production by large-scale production proceeded steadily between 1876 and 1898. The share of the small farms in the total number of cattle continually diminished: from 11.0 per cent in 1876 to 8.4 per cent in 1893, and to 8.1 per cent in 1898. The share of the medium farms also continually diminished, although somewhat more slowly (38.2—31.8—31.7 per cent). The share of the medium-big farms increased from 39.0 per cent in 1876 to 46.8 per cent in 1893, but remained at the same level between 1893 and 1898. Only the share of the biggest farms steadily increased, pushing aside all the other categories (11.8—13.0—13.4 per cent).

The more favourable the conditions for livestock farming, the more rapid is the development and progress of commercial livestock farming, an.d the more intense is the process of capitalist concentration. For example, in the Copenhagen district, which had a population of 234,000 in 1880 and 378,000 in 1901, dairy and meat products were, of course, the most marketable items. The farmers in that district were richer in cattle than all the other farmers in Denmark, both in 1876 and in 1898, having on an average 8.5 and 11.6 head of cattle each, compared with an average of 7.9 and 9.7 for the whole country. And in this district, in which the conditions are most favourable for the development of livestock farming, we see the process of concentration is most intense.

The following are the figures for this district for 1876 and 1898, according to the groups which we adopted above:

Number of


Number of


Number of


Number of


50 head and over444,488869,059
15 to 491,04522,1191,54535,579
4 to 142,01116,8961,90014,559
1 to 32,5144,4681,8903,767

During the 22 years even the absolute number of owners diminished! Livestock wealth was concentrated in the hands of a smaller number of farmers. Both the small and the middle farmers after 22 years proved to be fewer and to have fewer livestock. The medium-big farmers increased their possessions by fifty per cent (from 22,000 to 35,000). The big farmers more than doubled their possessions. Of the biggest farmers, owning 200 and more head of cattle, there were in 1876 two who owned 437 head; in 1898, how ever, there were 10 who owned 2,896 head of cattle.

The concern which the Pudors, Davids, and other voluntary or involuntary servants of capital show for improved marketing conditions, the development of farmers’ associations, and technical progress in livestock farming and agriculture can have only one purpose: to bring about through out the country and in all branches of agriculture conditions like those in the Copenhagen district, i. e., particularly rapid concentration of production in the hands of the capitalists and the expropriation, proletarianisation of the population, a reduction of the proportion of property owners to the total population, an increase in the proportion of those whom capitalism is forcing out of the country into the towns, etc.

To sum up; the “ideal country” from the standpoint of the opponents of Marxism on the agrarian question very clearly reveals (despite the socio-economic statistics being still at a low level and lacking analysis) the capitalist agrarian system, the sharply expressed capitalist contradictions in agriculture and livestock farming, the growing concentration of agricultural production, the ousting of small-scale production by large-scale production, and the proletarianisation and impoverishment of the overwhelming majority of the rural population.

  1. Russkoye Bogatstvo (Russian Wealth)—a monthly magazine published in St. Petersburg from 1876 to the middle of 1918. In the early 1890s it became an organ of the liberal Narodniks and was edited by S. N. Krivenko and N. K. Mikhailovsky. It preached conciliation with the tsarist government and abandonment of all revolutionary struggle against it. The magazine was bitterly hostile to Marxism and the Russian Marxists.
  2. See present volume, footnote to p. 130—Tr.
  3. Nachalo (The Beginning)—a literary, scientific, and political monthly published by the “legal Marxists”; it appeared in St. Peters burg in the first half of 1899, with P. B. Struve and M. I. Tugan-Baranovsky among its editors. Besides the “legal Marxists”, the contributors included G. V. Plekhanov and V. I. Zasulich. The tsarist government suppressed the journal in June 1899.
    Lenin published in Nachalo several reviews (see present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 65-73 and pp. 94-103) and part of the third chapter of his Development of Capitalism in Russia, entitled “The Landowners’ Transition from Corvée to Capitalist Economy” (see present edition, Vol. 3, pp. 191-219).
    Lenin refers to Bulgakov’s article “A Contribution to the Question of the Capitalist Evolution of Agriculture”, published in Nos. 1-2 and 3 of the journal for January-February and March 1899.
  4. I replied immediately to Mr. Bulgakov’s article in Nachalo by an article entitled “Capitalism in Agriculture”. Following the suppression of Nachalo, my article was published in Zhizn, 1900, Nos. 1 and 2. (Author’s note to the 1908 edition.—Ed.) (See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 105-59.—Ed.) —LeninZhizn (Life)—a monthly magazine published in St. Petersburg from 1897 to 1901; in 1902 it was published abroad. Beginning with 1899 the magazine was an organ of the “legal Marxists”.
    In the December 1899 issue (No. 12) Lenin published “Reply to Mr. P. Nezhdanov” and in the issues of January and February 1900 (Nos. I and 2), two articles under the heading “Capitalism in Agriculture (Kautsky’s Book and Mr. Bulgakov’s Article)” (see present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 160-65 and pp. 105-59).
  5. Statistique agricole de La France. Enquête de 1892, Paris, 1897, p. 113. (Agricultural Statistics of France. Survey of 1892.—Ed.) —Lenin
  6. Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, Neue Folge, Bd. 112: Die Land wirtschaft im Deutschen Reich (Statistics of the German Empire, New Series, Vol. 112: Agriculture in the German Empire—Ed.), Berlin, 1898, S. 6 *. This evidence of technological advance accompanied by a diminution in the agricultural population is of course not at all pleasing 1.0 Mr. Bulgakov, for it utterly destroys his Malthusianism. Our “strict scientist”, therefore, resorts to the following trick: instead of taking agriculture in the strict sense of the term (land cultivation, livestock breeding, etc.), he (after adducing statistics on the increase in the quantity of agricultural produce obtained per hectare!) takes “agriculture in the broad sense”, in which German statistics include hothouse cultivation, market gardening, and forestry and fishing! In this way, we get an increase in the’ sum-total of per sons actually engaged in “agriculture”!! (Bulgakov, II, p. 133.) The figures quoted above apply to persons for whom agriculture is the principal occupation. The number of persons engaged in agriculture as a subsidiary occupation increased from 3,144,000 to 3,578,000. To add these to the previous figures is not entirely correct; but even if we do this, the increase is very small: from 11,208,000 to 11,623,000. —Lenin
  7. Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, Bd. 112, S. 36 * ; Bulgakov, II, 135. —Lenin
  8. See Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, p. 644.
  9. See Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, p. 728.
  10. See Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, pp. 724-27.
  11. See Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, pp. 727-28.
  12. This false assumption of classical political economy, refuted by Marx, was adopted by the “Critic” Mr. Bulgakov, following on the heels of his teacher, Brentano, uncritically, of course. “The condition for the appearance of rent,” Mr. Bulgakov writes, “is the law of diminishing returns” (I, 90). "...English rent ... as a matter of fact distinguishes successive investments of capital of varying and, as a rule, diminishing productivity” (I, 130). —Lenin
  13. Clan property—the land owned by the clan.
  14. The Reform of 1861 which abolished serfdom in Russia.—Tr.
  15. See Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, pp. 635-36.
  16. It is hardly necessary to remind the reader that we are dealing here with the general theory of rent and the capitalist organisation of agriculture; we do not, therefore, concern ourselves with facts like th antiquity and widespread character of private property in land, or the undermining of the last-mentioned form of monopoly, and partly of both its forms, by overseas competition, and so forth. —Lenin
  17. In the second part of Volume II of Theories of Surplus-Value (Theorien über den Mehrwert, II. Band, If. Theil), published in 1905, Marx gives an explanation of absolute rent which confirms the correctness of my interpretation (particularly in regard to the two forms of monopoly). The following passages from Marx pertain to this interpretation: “If land were an unlimited element, not only in relation to capital and to population, but in actual fact, i.e., if it were as ‘unlimited’ as ‘air and water’, if it ‘existed in unlimited quantities’ quotations from Ricardo], then the appropriation of land by one per son could not in practice in any way exclude the appropriation of land by another person. In that case, private (as also ‘public’ and state) property in land could not exist. If, in addition, the land every where were of the same quality, no rent could be obtained for it.... The crux of the matter is—if land in relation to capital existed as a natural element, then capital in the sphere of agriculture would operate in the same way as it does in every other sphere of industry. There would then be no property in land and no rent.... On the other hand, if land is: (1) limited; and (2) appropriated—if property in land is a condition for the emergence of capital—and that is precisely the case in countries where capitalist production is developing; and in countries where this condition did not formerly exist (as in old Europe), capitalist production itself creates it, as in the United States— then land does not represent a field of activity accessible to capital in an elementary way. That is why absolute rent exists, apart from differential rent” (pp. 80-81).(*) Marx definitely draws a distinction here between the limitedness of land and the fact that land is private property. (Author’s note to the 1908 edition.—Ed.) —Lenin(*) See Karl Marx, Theorien über den Mehrwert, II, S. 80-81, Berlin, 1923.
  18. We desire to say in passing that we have considered it necessary to deal in particular detail with Marx’s theory of rent because we find that the interpretation Mr.. P. Maslov gives of it is also incorrect ("The Agrarian Question”, in Zhizn, Nos. 3 and 4, 1901). In that article, he regards the diminishing productivity of successive investments of capital, if not as a law, then at all events as the “usual” and as it were normal phenomenon, which he links with differential rent, and he rejects the theory of absolute rent. Mr. P. Maslov’s interesting article contains many true remarks concerning the Critics, but it suffers greatly from the author’s erroneous theory just referred to (while defending Marxism, he has not taken the trouble to define clearly the difference between “his own” theory and that of Marx), as well as from a number of careless and utterly unjust assertions, as, for example, that Mr. Berdyaev “is completely liberating himself from the influence of bourgeois authors” and is distinguished for his “consistent class point of view, maintained without sacrificing objectivity”; that “in many respects Kautsky’s analysis is in places ... tendentious”; that Kautsky “has completely failed to indicate in what direction the development of the productive forces in agriculture is proceeding”; and so forth. —Lenin
  19. Hertz, with a particularly “triumphant” air, insists upon this, contending that the “absolute” judgement (S. 65, Russian translation, p. 156) that the steam plough is superior to the horse plough “under all circumstances” is false. This is precisely what is called forcing an open door! —Lenin
  20. Sozialistische Monatshefte (Socialist Monthly)—the principal organ of the opportunists in German Social-Democracy and one of the organs of international opportunism. During the imperialist world war (1914-18) the magazine adopted a social-chauvinist position. It was published in Berlin from 1897 to 1933.
  21. This faulty method is repeated in David’s work Socialism and Agriculture, St. Petersburg, 1906, p. 179. (Author’s note to the 1908 edition.–Ed.) —Lenin
  22. Statistik des deulachen Reichs, 112. Bd., S. 36*. —Lenin
  23. Cf. Vol. I, p. 51: "... the steam thresher ... performs the bulk of the work in winter when there is a scarcity of work as it is (consequently, the usefulness of the machine for agriculture as a whole [sic!!] is more than doubtful; we shall come across this fact again later on).” —Lenin
  24. Die Neue Zeit (New Times)—a German Social-Democratic magazine published in Stuttgart from 1883 to 1923. Between 1885 and 1895 the magazine published some of Engels’ articles. Engels often gave pointers to the editors of Die Neue Zeit and sharply criticised their deviations from Marxism. Beginning with the middle nineties, after Engels’ death, the magazine propagated Karl Kautsky’s views and regularly published articles by revisionists. During the imperialist world war (1914-18) the magazine occupied a Centrist position and in actuality supported the social-chauvinists.
  25. This is for the information of our bold Mr. Bulgakov, who boldly and groundlessly speaks of “branches of agricultural production in which machinery cannot be used at all, as, for example, live stock farming” (I, 49). —Lenin
  26. Again for the information of Mr. Bulgakov, who talks of “the latifundian degeneration of large-scale farming”! —Lenin
  27. Over 20 hectares; only 300,000 farms out of 5,500,000, i.e., only 5.5 per cent of the total, but they occupy 17,700,000 hectares of land out of 32,500,000, or 54.4 per cent of the total farmland. —Lenin
  28. Mr. V. Chernov translates it (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 4, p.132): "on production which has achieved a high state of development”. That is how he contrived to “understand” the German expression “auf grosser Stufenleiter”!! —Lenin
  29. Two Critics of My Agrarian Question.”—Ed.
  30. Kautsky’s expression; p. 472 of Neue Zeit. (E tutti quanti— and all others of their stripe.—Ed.) —Lenin
  31. The Exceptional Law Against the Socialists was promulgated in Germany in 1878. Under this law all organisations of the Social-Democratic Party, all workers’ mass organisations, and the working-class press were prohibited, socialist literature was confiscated, and the banishment of Social-Democrats was begun. The law was annulled in 1890 under pressure of the mass working-class movement.
  32. Mr. Bulgakov resorted to this argument against Kautsky with regard to the question of mortgages, in Nachalo, and in German, in Braun’s Archiv. —Lenin
  33. Vorwärts (Forward)—the central organ of German Social-Democracy. It began publication in 1876, with Wilhelm Liebknecht as one of its editors. Frederick Engels conducted a struggle against all manifestations of opportunism in its columns. In the late nine ties, after Engels’ death, Vorwärts regularly published articles by the opportunists who dominated German Social-Democracy and the Second International.
  34. See Kautsky’s article “Tolstoi und Brentano” in Neue Zeit, XIX, 2, 1900-01, No. 27. Kautsky compares modern scientific socialism with the doctrines of Lev Toistoi, who has always been a pro found observer and critic of the bourgeois system, notwithstanding the reactionary naiveté of his theory, and bourgeois economics, whose “star”, Brentano (the teacher, as we know, of Messrs. Struve, Bulgakov, Hertz, e tutti quanti), betrays the most incredible muddle-headedness in confounding natural with social phenomena, in confounding the concept of productivity with that of profitability, the concept of value with that of price, etc. “This is not so characteristic of Brentano personally,” Kautsky says justly (p. 25), “as of the school to which be belongs. The historical school of bourgeois economics, in its modern form, regards the striving towards an integral conception of the social mechanism as being a superseded standpoint [überwundener Standpunkt]. According to this view, economic science must not investigate social laws and combine them into an integral system, but must confine itself to the formal description of separate social facts of the past and the present. Thus, it accustoms one to swim merely on the surface of things; and when a representative of this school, nevertheless, succumbs to the temptation to get to the bottom of things, he finds himself out of his depth and flounders helplessly round and round. In our party, too, there has been observed for some time a tendency to substitute for the Marxist theory, not some other theory, but that absence of all theory [Theorielosigkeit] which distinguishes the historical school—a tendency to degrade the theoretician to the position of a mere reporter. To those who desire, not simply an aimless skipping [Fortwurschteln] from instance to in stance, but an integral, energetic movement forward towards a great goal, the Brentano confusion which we have exposed must serve as a warning against the present methods of the historical school.” —Lenin
  35. See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, “The Manifesto of the Communist Party”, Moscow, 1958, p. 38.
  36. The proposal to construct such a road between Manchester and Liverpool was rejected by Parliament only because of the selfish opposition of the big railway magnates, who feared that the old companies would be ruined. —Lenin
  37. See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, Moscow, 1958, p. 627.
  38. See Frederick Engels, Anti-Dühring, Moscow, 1959, pp. 394-411.
  39. It goes without saying,” continues Kautsky, “that artificial fertilisers will not disappear with the fall of capitalism; but they will enrich the soil with special materials and not fulfil the whole task of restoring its fertility.” —Lenin
  40. N. —on, Nikolai—on—pseudonyms of N. F. Danielson, one of the ideologists of the liberal Narodniks in the eighties and nineties of the last century.
  41. Proudhonism—an unscientific trend in petty-bourgeois socialism, hostile to Marxism, so called after its ideologist, the French anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon. Proudhon criticised big capitalist property from the petty-bourgeois position and dreamed of perpetuating petty property ownership; he proposed the foundation of “people’s” and “exchange” banks, with the aid of which the workers would be able to acquire the means of production, become handicraftsmen, and ensure the “just” marketing of their wares. Proudhon did not understand the role and significance of the proletariat and displayed a negative attitude towards the class struggle, the proletarian revolution, and the dictatorship of the proletariat; as an anarchist he denied the necessity for the state.Marx and Engels struggled persistently against Proudhon’s efforts to impose his views on the First International. Proudhonism was subjected to a ruthless criticism in Marx’s Poverty of Philosophy. The determined struggle waged by Marx, Engels, and their supporters ended in the complete victory of Marxism over Proudhonism in the First International.
    Lenin called Proudhonism the “dull thinking of a petty-bourgeois and a philistine” incapable of comprehending the viewpoint of the working class. The ideas of Proudhonism are widely utilised by bourgeois “theoreticians” in their class-collaboration propaganda.
  42. From nothing through nothing to nothing.”—Ed.
  43. Der Volksstaat (The People’s State)—the central newspaper of the German Social-Democratic (Eisenacher) Party; published in Leipzig from 1869 to 1876 under the editorship of Wilhelm Liebknecht. Marx and Engels contributed to the paper.
  44. See the pamphlet Zur Wohnungsfrage, Zurich, 1887, in which Engels’ articles against Mülberger, written in 1872, are reproduced together with his introduction dated January 10, 1887. The passage quoted will be found on p. 56. —LeninSee Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 613
  45. Lenin quotes here Frederick Engels’ Preface to the second edition of his The Housing Question (see Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 548).
  46. Chapters V-IX were published in the magazine Obrazovanye with the following note by the author: “These essays were written in 1901. The first part was published in pamphlet form last year In Odessa [by Burevestnik (Storm Petrel) Publishers]. The second part appears in print for the first time. Each essay is a more or less independent whole. Their common theme is the analysis of the criticism of Marxism in Russian literature.”—Ed.
  47. Incidentally, Mr. Chernov assures the readers of Russkoye Bogatstvo that there is “hardly any noticeable difference” in the size of the farms in those villages. But if the demand for details is not an empty phrase on his lips, he cannot forget that for these suburban peasants the amount of land is of much less importance than the amount of fertilisers used; and in this respect the difference is extremely marked. The yields are highest and the peas ants most prosperous in the village of Friedrichsthal, although the land area in that village is the smallest. This village, farming 258 hectares of land, spends 28,000 out of the total of 48,000 marks spent on fertilisers, which amounts to 108 marks per hectare. Hagsfeld spends only 30 marks per hectare (12,000 marks for 397 hectares), while Blankenloch spends only 11 marks per hectare (8,000 marks for 736 hectares). —Lenin
  48. Incidentally, Hecht explains the economic backwardness of Blankenloch by the predominance of natural economy and the existence of common lands which guarantees to every person on reaching the age of 32 a strip of land (Allmendgut) of 36 arcs (1 are=0.01 hectare.—Ed.), irrespective of whether he is “lazy or diligent, thrifty or otherwise” (S. 30). Hecht, for all that, is opposed to dividing up the common lands. This, he says, is a sort of public charity institution (Altersversorgung) for aged factory workers, whose numbers are increasing in Blankenloch. —Lenin
  49. Hecht says very much more about this “higher morality”, and no less than Mr. Bulgakov waxes enthusiastic over the “sober marital policy”, the “iron diligence”, the “thrift”, and the “temperance”; lie even quotes a “well-known peasant proverb”: Man sieht nicht auf die Goschen (d. h. Mund), sondern auf die Groschen, which freely translated means: We work, not so much for our mouths as for our pockets. We suggest that our readers compare this proverb with the “doctrine” of the Kiev professor, Bulgakov: that peasant farming (since it seeks neither rent nor profit) is “the most advantageous form of organisation of agriculture that society [sic!] can have” (Bulgakov, 1, 154). —Lenin
  50. Ruth—in the biblical legend Ruth gleaned ears of corn in an alien field. The expression “Ruth’s gleaning” is here used in the sense of easy, carefree labour.
  51. The Competitive Capacity of Small-Scale Production in Agriculture—Thiel’s Agricultural Yearbooks, 1899, Issue 3-4.—Ed.
  52. a=where the value of the labour-power of the farmer and his family is not expressed in terms of money; b=if it is so expressed. —Lenin
  53. These are grown only on two out of the four farms in this category; in the large and medium categories, three out of four grow peas. —Lenin
  54. It should be noted that a similarly false equation of obviously unequal quantities in small- and large-scale farming is to be found, not only in separate monographs, but in the great bulk of contemporary agrarian statistics. Both French and German statistics deal with “average” live weight and “average” price per head of cattle in all categories of farms. German statistics go so far in this method as to define the gross value of the whole of the cattle in various categories of farms (classified according to area). At the same time, however, the reservation is made that the presumed equal value per head of cattle in different categories of farms “does not correspond to the reality” (S. 35). —Lenin
  55. Concentrated feed.—Ed.
  56. It is interesting to note, for example, that the income from the sale of milk and butter on the large farms amounts to seven marks per morgen, on the medium farms three marks, and on the small farms seven marks. The point is, however, that the small peasants consume “very little butter and whole milk ... while the inhabitants of small farm IV [on which the consumption of products produced on the farm amounts to only 97 marks per head] do not consume these items at all” (450). Let the reader compare this fact (which, by the way, has long been known to all except the “Critics”) with Hertz’ grand reasoning (S. 113, Russian translation, p. 270): “But does the peasant get nothing for his milk?” “Who, in the end, eats the [milk-fed!] pig? Not the peasant?” These utterances should be recalled more often as an unexcelled example of the most vulgar embellishment of poverty. —Lenin
  57. The younger brother, i.e., the people— a patronising expression used in liberal literature in tsarist times.
  58. In this Suzdal fashion—in a primitive superficial fashion. The expression originates from the fact that before the Revolution, crude, gaudily painted, and cheap icons were made in Suzdal Uyezd.
  59. Leo Huschke, in his work, Landwirtschaftliche Reinertrags-Berechnungen bei Klein-, Mittel- und Grossbetrieb dargelegt an typischen Beispielen Mittelthüringens [Assessment of Net Incomes of Small, Medium, and Large Farms, Based on Typical Examples from Middle Thuringia.—Ed.] (Gustav Fischer, Jena, 1902), justly points out that “it is possible by merely reducing the assessment” of the small farmer’s labour-power to obtain a computation that will prove his superiority over the middle and the big farmer, and his ability to compete with them (S. 126). Unfortunately, the author did not carry his idea to its logical conclusion, and therefore did not present systematic data showing the manner in which the cattle were kept, the method of fertilising the soil, and the cost of maintaining the farmer’s household in the various categories of farms. We hope to return to Herr Huschke’s interesting work. For the moment we shall merely note his reference to the fact that small-scale farming fetches lower prices for its products than large-scale farming (S. 146, 155), and his conclusion that: “The small and medium farms strove to overcome the crisis which set in after 1892 (the fall in the prices of agricultural produce) by cutting down cash expenditure as much as possible, while the large farms met the crisis through increasing their yields by means of increased expenditure on their farms” (S. 144). Expenditure on seeds, fodder, and fertilisers in the period from 1887-91 to 893-97 was reduced on the small and medium farms, and increased on the large farms. On the small farms, this expenditure amounted to seventeen marks per hectare, and on the large farms to. forty-four marks. (Author’s note to the 1908 edition—Ed.) —Lenin
  60. The League for Social and Political Questions (Verein für Sozialpolitik)–an association of German bourgeois economists, founded in 1872. The purpose of the association was to counteract the influence of Social-Democracy among the working class and to subordinate the working-class movement to the interests of the bourgeoisie.
  61. Erhebungen über die Lage der Landwirtschaft in Grossherzogthum Baden, 1883. Veranstaltet durch das grossherzogliche Ministerium des Innern. Rd. IV. (An Inquiry into the State of Agriculture in the Grand Duchy of Baden, 1883. Undertaken by the Ministry of the Interior of the Grand Duchy. Vol. IV.).
  62. Mr. Chernov “objects”: Does not the big farmer stint his day-labourer still more in food and other expenses? (Russkoye Bogatstvo, 1900, No. 8, p. 212). This objection repeats the old Krivenko-Vorontsov trick, if one may use such an expression, of foisting liberal-bourgeois arguments upon Marxists. The objection would be valid against those who say that large-scale production is superior, not only technically, but because it improves (or at least makes tolerable) the condition of the labourers. Marxists do not say that. They merely expose the false trick of painting the condition of the small farmer in roseate hues, either by sweeping statements about prosperity (Mr. Chernov on Hecht), or by estimates of “income” that leave out of account reduced consumption. The bourgeoisie must needs paint things in roseate hues, must needs foster the illusion among the labourers that they can become “masters” and that small “masters” can obtain high incomes. It is the business of socialists to expose these falsehoods and to explain to the small peasants that for them too there is no salvation outside of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. —Lenin
  63. See Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, p. 787.
  64. Right of inheritance, by which the property of a peasant household passes undivided to a single heir.—Ed.
  65. The authors of the Inquiry rightly say: The small peasant sells relatively little for cash, but he stands particularly in need of money, and because of his lack of capital, every cattle disease, every hailstorm, etc., hits him particularly hard. —Lenin
  66. The peasantry,” writes Mr. Bulgakov, with reference to France in the nineteenth century, “split up into two sections, each sharply distinguished from the other, namely, the proletariat and the small proprietors” (II, 176). The author is mistaken, however, in believing that the “splitting up” ended with this—it is a ceaseless process. —Lenin
  67. Or contains no less eloquent evasions, such as: "... the numerous cases of combining industry with agriculture, when industrial wage-workers own small plots of land...” are “no more than a detail [?!] in the economic system. There are as yet [?] no grounds for regarding this as a new manifestation of the industrialisation of agriculture, or its loss of independent development; this phenomenon is much too insignificant in extent (in Germany, for instance, only 4.09 per cent of agricultural land is held by industrial wage-workers)” (sic!—II, pp. 254-55). In the first place, the fact that an insignificant share of the land is held by hundreds of thousands of workers does not prove that this “phenomenon is insignificant in extent”; it proves rather that capitalism degrades and proletarises the small farmer. Thus, the total number of farmers holding less than two hectares (although their number is enormous: 3,200,000 out of 5,500,000, or 58.2 per cent, almost three-fifths) own “only” 5.6 per cent of the total area of agricultural land. Will our clever Mr. Bulgakov draw the inference from this that the entire “phenomenon"of small landownership and small farming is a mere “detail” and “is much too insignificant in extent"?? Of the 5,500,000 farmers in Germany, 791,000, or 14.4 per cent, are industrial wage-workers; and the overwhelming majority of these own less than two hectares of land each, namely, 743,000, which represents 22.9 per cent of the total number of farmers owning less than two hectares. Secondly, true to his usual practice, Mr. Bulgakov distorted the statistics he adduced. By an oversight he took from the page of the German Inquiry he quoted (Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, B. 112, S. 49 *) the figure of the area of land owned by independent trading farmers. The non-independent trading farmers (i.e., industrial wage-workers) hold only 1.84 per cent of the total area of agricultural land. 791,000 wage-workers own 1.84 per cent of the total area of land, while 25,000 landlords own 24 per cent. Truly a most insignificant “detail”! —Lenin
  68. Let us recall the fact that reference to the alleged homogeneity of the working class was a favourite argument of Ed. Bernstein and of all his adherents. And as regards “differentiation”, it was Mr. Struve who, in his Critical Remarks, profoundly observed: There is differentiation, but there is also levelling; for the objective student both these processes are of equal importance (in the same way as it made no difference to Shchedrin’s objective historian whether Izyaslav defeated Yaroslav or vice versa).(*) There is a development of the money economy, hut there are also reversions to natural economy. There is a development of large-scale factory production, but there is also a development of capitalist domestic industry (Bulgakov, II, 88: “Hausindustrie is nowhere near extinction in Germany”). An “objective” scientist must carefully gather facts and note things, “on the one hand” and “on the other”, and (like Goethe’s Wagner) “pass from book to book, from folio to folio”, without making the least attempt to obtain a consistent view and build up a general idea of the process as a whole. —Lenin
    (*) From M. Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin’s Modern Idyll.
  69. We reproduce the table as given by Mr. Bulgakov, merely adding the totals. —Lenin
  70. The smallest reduction is observed among the smallest farms, only a relatively insignificant proportion of which keeps draught animals. We shall see further that it was precisely among those farms (and only among them) that the composition of the draught animals improved, i.e., a larger number of horses and oxen and a relatively smaller number of cows were being kept. As the authors of the German Inquiry (S. 32*) have rightly remarked, the farmers on the smallest allotments keep draught animals, not only for tilling the land, but also for “auxiliary work for wages”. Consequently, in discussing the question of draught animals it would be erroneous to take these small allotments into account, since they are placed under altogether exceptional conditions. —Lenin
  71. Mr. Bulgakov’s sheer ... bad luck in his assertions on the processing of industrial crops is so strange that we involuntarily ask ourselves whether it may not be due to the fact that in citing the tables from the German Inquiry he jailed to see that they do not show the percentage of farms combined with agricultural industries in relation to the total number of farms in the given group. On the one hand, it is difficult to imagine that a “study” by a strict scientist could contain such a string of errors (accompanied by a string of smug conclusions). On the other hand, the identity of Mr. Bulgakov’s tables with those in the German Inquiry (S. 40* and 41*) is beyond doubt.... Oh, those “strict scientists”! —Lenin
  72. We have included this column so that the reader may form a clear idea of the methods employed by Mr. Bulgakov, who, for confirmation of his conclusions, refers only to this one column (taken from the above Inquiry). —Lenin
  73. This difference is not to be explained by the fact that the proportion of oxen to the total number of cattle is unequal, for the percentage of oxen (at all events those used for field work) is higher on the large than on the middle-peasant farms. —Lenin
  74. To be more exact, the manner in which the German data are grouped does not enable us to do this; for the authors of the Inquiry had the data for each farm separately (on the basis of the replies listed in the questionnaires sent out to the farmers). In passing, we would state that this practice of gathering information from each farm separately adopted by German agricultural statistics is superior to the French method and apparently also to the English and other methods. Such a system enables us to classify the various types of farms, not only according to area, but also according to scale of farming (dairy farming, for example), according to the extent of use of machinery, degree of development of agricultural industries, and so forth. But this system requires a more thorough classification of the statistical data. First, the farms must be classified, not only according to one single feature (extent of area), but according to several features (number of machines, livestock, area of land under special crops, and so forth). Secondly, combined classifications must be made, i.e., the division of each group, classified according to area, into subgroups according to numbers of livestock, etc. Russian Zemstvo statistics on peasant farming can and should serve as a model in this respect. While German government statistics are superior to Russian government statistics in their fullness and comprehensiveness, in their uniformity and exactness, and in the rapidity of their preparation and publication, our Zemstvo statistics are superior to the European partial inquiries and investigations because of the remarkable fullness and detailed analysis of certain particular data. Russian Zemstvo statistics have for a long time included surveys of individual farms and presented various group tables and the combined tables we have mentioned. A close study of Russian Zemstvo statistics by Europeans would no doubt give a strong impetus to the progress of social statistics generally. —Lenin
  75. Genuine small peasants.—Ed.
  76. Die deutsche Votkswirtschaft am Schlusse des 19. Jrhd. (German National Economy at the End of the Nineteenth Century.—Ed.), Berlin, 1900, S. 60. This is a very rough computation based on the fiscal returns. For Russia, we have the following data on the distribution of tobacco growing in three uyezds of Poltava Gubernia: of the total of 25,089 peasant farms growing tobacco, 3,015 farms (less than one-eighth) have 74,565 dessiatines under grain out of a total of 146,774 dessiatines, or more than one half, and 3,239 dessiatines under tobacco out of a total of 6,844 dessiatines, or nearly one half. By grouping these farms according to the tobacco area we get the following: 324 farms (out of 25,089) have two or more dessiatines, comprising a total of 2.360 out of 6,844 dessiatines. These belong to the big capitalist tobacco planters, notorious for their outrageous exploitation of the workers. Only 2,773 farms (a little more than one-tenth) had over half a dessiatine each under tobacco, comprising altogether 4,145 out of 6,844 dessiatines nuder tobacco. See A Review of Tobacco Growing in Russia, Issues II and III, St Petersburg, 1894. —Lenin
  77. It is of interest to note that in France, where vine growing is incomparably more developed than in Germany (1,800,500 hectares), the concentration of vineyards is also more considerable. However, we have only the general statistics on area to enable us to form a judgement; for in France data are not gathered on individual farms, and the actual number of growers is unknown. In Germany 12.83% of the total vineyards belong to growers owning ten or more hectares of land. In France, however, 57.02% of the vineyards belong to this category of growers. —Lenin
  78. Mr. Bulgakov stated: “The share of large-scale farming will be seen from the following figures” (II, 117), and he cited only these figures, which do not reveal “the share of large-scale farming” but (unless compared with other data) rather serve to obscure it. —Lenin
  79. We speak only of the “active” population (as the French term it; in German, erwerbsthätige), i.e., those actually engaged in agriculture, not including domestic servants and those members of families who are not regularly and permanently engaged in agricultural work. Russian social statistics are so undeveloped that we still find lacking a special term like “active”, “erwerbsthätig”, “occupied”. Yanson, in his analysis of the data on the occupations of the population of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg According to the Census of 1890), employs the term “independent”; but this is not a suitable term, for it usually implies masters, and, consequently, division according to participation or non-participation in industrial activity (in the broad sense of the term) is confused with division according to the position occupied in industry (individual self-employed workman). The term “productive population” could be used, hut even that would be inexact, for the military, rentier, and similar classes are not at all “productive”. Perhaps the most suitable term would be “self-employed” population, viz., those engaged in some “trade” or other occupation (=producing an income), as distinct from those who live at the expense of those “self-employed”. —Lenin
  80. It may be seen from the text of Chapters VII and IX, first published in the magazine Obrazovanye, that Lenin intended to examine French agricultural statistics in this essay and to analyse the “critical” views of the French economist Maurice. This plan was not put into effect, and in the 1908 edition Lenin changed the passages showing his original design. Thus he omitted two words “and French” from the sentence: “The proletarisation of the peasantry continues, as we shall prove below by the mass of German and French statistics....” In the phrase: “The rapid growth of the towns causes a steady increase in the number of such ’dairy farmers’, and, of course, there will always he the Hechts, Davids, Hertzes, and Chernovs (and, not to offend France, the Maurices as well, whom we’ll mention later)...”, the words in parenthesis were omitted. The end of the sentence, “For this reason, to confound the two processes, or to ignore either of them, may easily lead to the crudest blunders, an example of which we shall see later, when studying Bulgakov’s analysis of the French data”, was changed to: “numerous examples of which are scattered through Bulgakov’s book”.
  81. In regard to this fact, Mr. Bulgakov delivered himself in Nachalo of the banal joke, “The increase in the number of officers in a dwindling army”. A vulgarised view of the organisation of labour in large-scale production! —Lenin
  82. Lenin is referring to the book by Franz Bensing Der Einfluss der landwirtschaftlichen Maschinen auf Volks- und Privatwirtschaft, Breslau, 1897.
  83. See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 133-34.—Ed.
  84. See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 194-95.—Ed.
  85. Evidently, this is the way Mr. Grossman, the editor of the translation, translated the word Betriebsstatistik. That’s the trouble with Russian translations! It should have been translated: “statistics of agricultural enterprises”. —Lenin
  86. See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 162-67.—Ed.
  87. Lenin is referring to M. Hecht’s book Drei Dörfer der badischen Hard, Leipzig, 1895.
  88. See present edition, Vol. 5, p. 215.—Ed.
  89. See Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Moscow, pp. 68-70.
  90. Lenin is referring to the letter of the well-known Narodnik publicist A. N. Engelhardt “From the Countryside” published in the journal Otechestvenniye Zapiski (Fatherland Notes).
  91. See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 176-77.—Ed.
  92. Ibid., p. 216.—Ed.
  93. These figures are approximate, first, because the number of cows is given for 1900, while the number of farms is given for 1898; secondly, because we had to determine the number of cows in each group approximately, since David does not give exact figures. We have put the big farms share lower than it actually is: 7,544 farms have 30 or more cows each. Thus, even if we take the minimum, i. e., 30 cows per farm, we get 7,544x30=226,32O cows. We have taken a smaller figure, otherwise the size of the small farms would approach too closely to the minimum and not to the maximum limits of the groups. —Lenin
  94. Emil Helms, Die socialdemokratische und gewerkschaftliche Bewegung in Dänemark, Leipzig, 1907, S. 138. —Lenin
  95. See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 209-10.—Ed.
  96. See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 108-09.—Ed.
  97. See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 116-19.—Ed.
  98. See Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, p. 727. Lenin’s references are to Vol. III of the German edition of 1894 and he gives all quotations in his own translation.
  99. See Karl Marx, Theorien über den Mehrwert, 2. Teil, Berlin, Dietz Verlag, 1959.
  100. David is well aware of this method, employed by agronomists, of ascertaining the live weight of animals. On page 367 he tells us in detail the live weight of different breeds of beef and dairy cattle, draught animals, etc. He copies these data from the agronomists. It never occurs to him that what matters to an economist in general, and to a socialist in particular, is not the difference in the breeds of cattle, but the difference in the conditions under which they are kept in small and large farms, in “peasant” and in capitalist farming. —Lenin
  101. For 1875 in Schriften des Vereins für Sozialpolitik, Band XXIV, S. 112 (“Bäuerliche Zustände”, B. III), and for 1884 in Thiel’s landwirtschaftliche Jahrbücher, Band XV (1886). —Lenin
  102. The various other types of livestock are expressed in terms of cattle according to the usual standards. For one year, and for one of the eleven types of animals, the number given is approximate: the figures refer only to weight, not to the number of cattle. —Lenin
  103. V. V.—pseudonym of V. Vorontsov, the ideologist of the liberal Narodism of the eighties and nineties of the last century.
  104. Drechsler speaks here of all cattle except draught animals (called Nutzvieh). Further we quote figures on draught animals separately. The general conclusion remains the same, whatever type or type groups of animals we take. —Lenin
  105. Drechsler divides the 22 villages into three groups according to geographical location and other farming conditions. We have taken only the summarised data in order not to overburden this article with figures. The conclusions remain the same, whatever groups of villages we take. —Lenin
  106. The average weight of cows not employed for field work was 421 kilogrammes. —Lenin
  107. Concerning this see above, Chapter VIII, “General Statistics of German Agriculture”. (See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 194-205—Ed.) —Lenin
  108. Let us recall the statement made by Klawki, quoted above (Chapter VI) (see present edition, Vol. 5, p. 171.—Ed.). “The small farmers have inferior manure, their straw is shorter, it is largely used as fodder (which also means that the feed is inferior), and less straw is used for bedding.” —Lenin
  109. Vl. Ilyin, The Agrarian Question, Part I, article “The Agrarian Question and the ‘Critics of Marx’", Chapters X and XI. (See pp. 171-194 of this volume.—Ed.) —Lenin
  110. Dr. Heinrich Pudor, Das landwirtschaftliche Genossenschaftswesen im Auslande, I. B. S. V, Leipzig, 1904. Pudor is a violent opponent of Marxism. —Lenin
  111. Danmarks Statistik. Statistik Aarbog”, 8-de aargang, 1903, p. 31, footnote. All the following statistics apply to Denmark proper, with out Bornholm. —Lenin
  112. Danish Statistics, etc., Danish Agriculture, 4th series, No. 9, Letter C.—Ed.
  113. Danmarks Statistik. Statistik Tabelvaerk. Femte Raekke, litra C, Nr. 2. Kreaturholdet d. 15 juli 1898. KØbenhavn, 1901. —Lenin
  114. To be more precise, farmers who own no cattle, for unfortunately the Danish statistics do not give the number of farmers who own no animals whatever. From these statistics we only learn the number of owners of each type of animal. But undoubtedly, cattle form the principal basis of livestock farming in Denmark. —Lenin
  115. See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, p. 791.
  116. We showed above, according to Drechsler’s figures, that the livestock in the big farms are bigger. Here too, therefore, the overall statistics minimise the degree of concentration. —Lenin
  117. In 188O, the urban population constituted 28 per cent, and in 1901, 38 per cent. —Lenin