The Land Question Settled—Landowner Fashion
|Written||21 May 1913|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 103-105.
As usual there was an immoderate amount of rubbish in the budget debate in the Fourth State Duma. The vain efforts of Markov the Second to trip up Kokovtsov, and the vain efforts of Kokovtsov “to charm away” with words the feudal character of “our” policy and our budget, and the vain efforts of the Cadets to assure a gullible public that Kokovtsov “admitted it was the Cadets who had to be taken into consideration” in the Fourth Duma—this was just a lot of tedious, overworked and hypocritical rubbish.
There are, however, a few grains of truth in this rubbish heap. The Markovs, Kokovtsovs and Shingaryovs tried to hide them deeper in it. But it is worth while pulling them out.
“I have dealt at such length with the settlement of the land question,” Kokovtsov exclaimed on May 13, “because in that question is contained the whole solution of Russia’s future....”
It was not the “whole” solution and the “future” in general that needed to be discussed, but the future of the June Third system, which gives all power to the “bureaucracy” and the feudal landowners. Under the old rural organisation we cannot retain power—that was what the landowners, taught by bitter experience, had decided. In order to retain power they had to arrange in their own way for the reorganisation of the old countryside on bourgeois lines. That is the basis and the essence of “the land question”.
“... Whether the government will be able to do this, whether it [the settlement of the land question] will bring the benefit the government and the legislative institutions expect,” continued the Minister, “the future will show....”
Of course, the future will reveal everything and show everything. It will show the outcome of the efforts of the feudals and the efforts of the proletariat that marches at the head of the democrats. But the figures given by the “serious” (by Cadet standards) Mr. Kokovtsov show absolutely nothing. The number of applications for land is rapidly increasing—and Mr. Kokovtsov is enraptured, the Rights in the Duma are enraptured. The number of applications was: in 1907—221,000; in 1908—385,000; in 1909—711,000; in 1910—651,000; in 1911—683,000; in 1912—1,183,000; total 3,834,000.
Arrangements have been made for only 1,592,000 peasant households.
Such are the Minister’s “proofs” and his material for judging the future.
On that very same May 13 the government newspaper Novoye Vremya published data for the house-to-house Zemstvo census taken in 1911 in Samara Uyezd. The number of households obtaining titles to land amounted in that uyezd to forty per cent, that is, higher than the average for Russia. This uyezd, therefore, is most “favourable” for the government.
And how did it turn out? Of the total number obtaining titles to land less than three out of a hundred (2.9 per cent) own real, separate farmsteads; only, one-sixteenth (6.5 per cent) own their land in one piece and more than nine-tenths (90.6 per cent) have land in strips in different places!
Nine-tenths of the title-holding peasants farm strips that are isolated from each other, just as they did before. Farming conditions are even worse than before because formerly the commune could “correct” the strip system to some extent by frequent redistributions.
In a mere four years a third of the land transferred to the title-holders has already passed into other hands. Loss of land is increasing, impoverishment is increasing still more rapidly and there is growing confusion because of the strips of land. Unbelievable poverty is increasing in the villages, as is the number of famines. The number of landless peasants, pure proletarians, is increasing. The number of impoverished “would-be proprietors” is increasing; they are trapped both by the old bondage and by the system of allotting scattered strips of land that has resulted from the notorious landowners’ solution to the land problem.
Apparently this bondage will not be abolished by the landowners’ solution to the peasant land problem. It can only be cured if the land question is settled on broad democratic lines.
- The June Third Law marked the beginning of the period known as the “Stolypin reaction” (also the June Third system).