and no more than 3 yd. in height. Cottages without chimneys are
still very common, the smoke being let out through a hole in the
roof. The roof is almost always thatched. In many provinces the
walls are covered with dung for the sake of warmth. A peasant's
family, sometimes a numerous one, is huddled together in a space of
20-30 sq. yards. The floor of the cottage is almost always bare soil,
because lambs, calves, pigs and even cows are put in during the cold
weather. Skin diseases are very common among the population.
Meat, bacon, oil, butter appear on the peasant's table only on ex-
ceptional occasions, perhaps two or three times a year; his usual fare
is composed of bread, porridge, kvass, cabbage and onions.
A very characteristic sympton of the decay of the peasants'
farming is the reduction of the number of horses and the increase
in the numbers of horseless households. A comparison of the
figures of the horse statistics in 1888 and 1893-4 proves that in
31 provinces the number of horses had fallen by 10-88 per cent.
The number of horseless households had increased during the
same period in 23 provinces of central Russia from 21-56% to
26-85 P er cent - More than 25% of the households have no
horses at all; another 25% have only one horse each.
Let us now examine a peasant's normal budget as it is pre-
sented in the remarkable work of Mr. F. A. Shcherbina (edited
by Prof. A. J. Chuprov). A medium budget of a peasant was
balanced at 54r. 92k. The budget of a medium peasant house-
holder consisted of the following items:
Income from :
Corn on his land
Corn on household land .
Straw and hay .
Trade or craft .
16 r. 20 k.
i r. 92 k.
8 r. 16 k.
2 i. 63 k.
9 r. 99 k.
8 r. 47 k.
7 r. 26 k.
55 r- 63 k.
1 Statistics of the Taxation Department 1903.
Food for cattle .
Vegetables and fruit .
18 r. 10 k.
8 r. 45 k.
I r. 30 k.
3 r- 9 k-
1 r. 2k.
2 r. 65 k.
20 r. 10 k.
Total . . . . . . . . . . 55 r- 54 k.
Assuming that 19 puds of corn per head are the minimum
necessary during one year and that 7-5 puds are sufficient for
fodder, Mr. Maress calculated that 70-7% of the peasant popu-
lation had less than 19 puds per head, 20-4% had between 19
and 26-5 puds per head, and only 8-9% had more than 26-5 puds
per head. This means that 70-7% of the farming population
could not live on the income from their land and would be
reduced to semi-starvation if they could not find any supplemen-
tary means of existence. No wonder the standard of living of
the great mass of the people stood exceedingly low. The follow-
ing figures 2 enable us to form a judgment as to the comparative
consumption of corn in various countries; in studying them one
must remember that corn was the staple food in Russia and that
meat played a negligible part in the bill of fare of the people.
Average Corn Consumption and Production, per head
(in kilograms) : 1909-14.
The state of mind produced by this situation among the
peasantry may be gathered from the opinions expressed by
peasant deputies in the Second Duma in the course of the debates
on agrarian reform. One of the members of the Right, Prince
Sviatopolk Mirski, had said that the ignorant and inexperienced
mass of the Russian people had to be guided by the landlords as a
flock is guided by shepherds. Kisselev, a peasant belonging to
the group of toil, replied:
" I should like the whole of peasant Russia, the whole of the
Russian land, to remember well these words of the noble descendant
of Rurik. . . . We have had enough of that kind of thing! What we
want are not shepherds, but leaders, and we know how to find them
without your help. With them we shall find our way to light, to
truth, to the promised land! "
Afanassiev, a non-party deputy, an ex-soldier, said, among
" In the Japanese war I led a number of mobilized soldiers
through estates (of the squires). It took us forty-eight hours to
reach the meeting place. The soldiers asked me: ' Where do you
lead us? ' ' To Japan.' ' What for? ' ' To defend our country.'
They replied : ' What is that country? We have been through the
estates of the Lissetskys, the Besulovs, the Padkopailovs. . . .
Where is our land? Nothing here belongs to us." "
The same deputy said on another occasion :
" Work, sweat and use the land ! But if you do not wish to live
on the land, to till it, to work on it, you have no right to own it! "
The great majority distrusted projects of expropriation based
on the idea of compensating the former landowners, as likely to
lead to unfair adjudications to the advantage of the squires.
Some of the leaders were calculating how much should be taken
outright, without any compensation ; a few demanded the whole.
Pianych, a socialist, exclaimed: " Throw them all off!"
Government Policy. In order to meet this disastrous situation
the Government made attempts in three directions the increase
of the size of peasants' holdings, emigration and the improvement
of agricultural methods. It would be erroneous to think that the
deficiency in land could be entirely removed by new distributions
from the estates of the squires and the domains of the Crown.
In 1906 the distribution of land among different classes of land-
1 Nordman, Peace Problems: Russian Economics, p. 36.
owners was as follows (La Reforme agraire en Russie, Ministere
de 1'agriculture, 1912):
Crown land 133,038,883 dess.
Peasants holdings . 119,067,754 dess.
Land bought by communities and associations
Land bought by individual peasants .
Land of the gentry
Land owned by other classes
Land owned by various institutions
1 1, 142,560 dess.
The enormous area of the Crown lands was mainly covered by
forests or situated in the northern and eastern provinces, so that
it could not be used for agricultural purposes; the surface of con-
venient land in the hands of the Crown was only about 3,700,000
dess. The arable land owned by the Church and different eccle-
siastical institutions amounted to 1,672,000 dess. (Statistics of
the Holy Synod, 1890); the appanages comprised arable land
of 2,000,000 dess. If we take into consideration that a large part
of the landowners' land was covered also by forests, we come to
estimate the surface of the arable land owned by squires at about
35,000,000 dess. (Yermolov). The sum total that could be dis-
posed of would thus amount to 45,000,000 dess., or about 30% of
the area of the peasants' holdings; divided among the villagers
it would make less than one additional dessiatine per soul. The
insufficiency of the land reserve becomes even more evident if
we keep in mind that about 85% of the Crown's arable land,
00% of the appanage arable land, and a considerable part of
the squires' land were already leased by the peasantry. Of the
7,449,228 dess. which were sold by a newly instituted Peasant
Bank to the peasants from 1882 to Jan. i 1006, village commu-
nities acquired 25-6%; peasants' associations 72%; individual
householders only 2-4 per cent.
The peasants' revolt of 1005 and the new schemes of Stolypin
gave an entirely new direction to the agrarian policy of the
State. The Manifesto of Nov. 3 1905 suspended all redeeming
payments after Jan. i 1006. Of the surface of 2,846,620 dess.,
which the bank sold directly from Jan. i 1906 to June i 1913
peasants' communities got 5-5%, peasants' associations 14-8%'
individual owners 79-7 per cent. The peasants also acquired
from the landowners, with some assistance of the bank, 4,375,163
dess. It is estimated by Oganovsky that the result of the bank
activity until July i 1910 was the creation of 45 to 50 thousand
separate farms and of 130-140 thousand small compact plots
the owners of which live in hamlets.
Let us turn now to the policy of the Government concerning
emigration. The law of 1889 had subjected emigration to official
supervision. Those were allowed to emigrate who were able to
pay the expenses of the journey and of the installation of a new
household, provided their departure did not harm the remaining
members of the community. No Government assistance was
given to the emigrants. Permission to emigrate was refused if
the local authorities considered that the emigrants could find
work in the old district. Those who emigrated without an official
permission had to be sent back. These regulations resulted in a
great reduction of the emigration movement, which was practi-
cally closed to the poorest peasants.
The events of 1905 and the new orientation of the Government
brought a great change in the emigration policy. Greater facili-
ties were granted, and Government assistance was promised by
the Provisional Rules of June 6 1906. But the growth of emi-
gration which followed the new regulations was obstructed by a
complete lack of organization. The following figures give us
some insight into the working of the new laws:
4 2 7 3
I66 - 5
These figures prove that the emigration policy of the Govern-
ment was far from successful.
We have now to consider the third branch of the Government
activity, directed towards the solution of the agrarian question.
The scheme for improving agricultural methods was based on a
reform of the distribution of the land. In 1861 a legal confirma-
tion of the peasants' customary commune was considered the
best means to secure the return of the money advanced by the
State for redemption. The statistics of landownership in 1905
showed that 23-2% of the households and 17% of the land
owned by the peasants were held by private tenure; 76-8% of
the farms and 82-7% of the peasants' land were in communal
tenure. The right of property was attributed not to separate
householders but to the whole village community, as a juridical
person. In the case of communal land tenure only the farmyard
belonged to households in permanent tenure; other land belonged
to the whole community, and was subject to occasional redivi-
sions. Unfree domestic servants were assigned to peasants'
communities, but did not obtain holdings: they formed in this
way a village proletariat.
In the reign of the Emperor Alexander III. the communal
tenure, which was regulated by the Liberation Act of 1861, came
to be regarded as a political safeguard, and its decay was con-
sidered to be a national danger. The law of Dec. 14 1893 made
practically impossible the transition from communal to house-
hold tenure. But the growing impoverishment of the peasantry
gave evidence that the existing land system ceased to be benefi-
cial. The special conference established by an Imperial Order on
Jan. 22 1902 recognized for the first time the necessity of a funda-
mental change in the existing land settlement of the peasants.
The majority of the Conference were of the opinion that the
communal tenure and the intermixture of strips were the chief
causes of the alarming condition of the' peasantry.
Stolypin's Land Settlement. The agrarian disorders of 1906
gave increased importance to the problem, and proved that the
settlement of it could not be postponed any longer. In the years
1906-7 the problem of land reform excited the strongest interest
in governmental circles, and played a most prominent part in
the programmes of different parties and in the debates of the
First and the Second Dumas. Stolypin took the initiative on the
part of the Government and eventually obtained the support of
the Third Duma. His scheme was directed towards a political
purpose, the creation of a conservative class of small peasant
owners who could be counted upon to defend the existing
regime. This class had to be strong and progressive from the
economic point of view, as it was clear that the improvement of
the peasants' condition could be attained only by more intensive
farming. As was said above, some measures had been taken to
enlarge the area of the peasants' holdings without violating the
interests of the squires. But the greatest part of the Govern-
ment activity was directed to a complete reconstruction of rela-
tions inside the village, to the creation of separate farms and to
the spread of individual ownership. The Imperial ukaz of Nov.
9 1906, the Land law of June 14 1910, and the Agricultural law
of May 29 1911 were enacted for this purpose. The leading
features of Stolypin's scheme were as follow. Each householder
possessed of land in a village community can demand that his
land shall be constituted a plot in individual property. A simple
majority of the village assembly may convert the holdings into
the land owned privately. The land has to be assigned to the
claimant, if possible, in a single block. The conversion of the
land of the entire community can be decreed by a resolution of
the village meeting passed by a simple majority of the members.
All the communities where there had not been any redivision of
land since 1861 were declared to have passed from communal
tenure to individual or household ownership. The formation of
compact plots could not be refused if it was asked for by not less
than one-fifth of the householders. The Land Commissions
created by the ukaz of March 4 1006 were entrusted with the
redistribution of land under the new land settlement.'
In the Duma the Right clung to the opinion which had been
predominant in the time of Alexander III.; the Left entertained
the hope that the communal land tenure was to form the cradle
of future collectivism. The Cadets mostly agreed with the
principles of the Government scheme, but they objected to the
coercive character of its methods. The majority of the House
supported the Government and carried its bill through the Duma.
The motives that influenced the deputies of the Duma were well
expressed by the chairman of the Land Committee, S. Shidlov-
sky, in his speech on Oct. 23 1908:
" Our attitude as regards the decree of Nov. 9 is in substance a
favourable one, because this decree aims at the development of
individual land tenure and individual land tenure is certainly the
necessary condition of improved cultivation, and the latter means the
solution of the agrarian problem .... The foundation of a State
ruled by law consists in a free, independent and energetic personality.
Such a personality cannot exist unless you allow the common right
of ownership, and no one who wishes the State to be ruled by law
should oppose the spread of private property in land. Land is,
after all, only a basis for the application of labour and capital, and
labour is most productive when the labourer is placed in favourable
conditions. In the forefront in this respect we have to place an open
door for personal enterprise, free play for creative energy, security
against outside interference, personal interest. . . . The avenue
towards a permanent improvement in the existence of our peasants
is to be found in an immediate increase of production and income
from land, and this cannot be achieved without the help of outside
capital. ... A law which opens the way to personal property en-
ables the agricultural worker to display his creative force."
It seemed as if the reform had achieved an immediate and
striking success. Before Jan. i 1913 the Commission had ar-
ranged farms on an area of 7,413,064 dess., held by 738,980
households; strips had been concentrated into blocks on an
area of 4,359.537 dess., held by 585,571 households.
The following figures illustrate the first part of the Commission's
work from 1907 to 1911.
Up to April I 1911 the number of peasants who wanted to leave
the commune amounted to 2,1 16,600, or 23 % of the whole number
(9-2 millions). The movement towards enclosures was not equally
popular in all the parts of the Empire. To make the process clearer
we may divide the country into 5 areas: (i) South-East, (2) Ag-
ricultural Centre, (3) two Industrial Centres, round Petrograd and
round Moscow, (4) South-West and West, (5) North and North-
The following figures show the proportions of demand for compact
plots in each of these provinces in proportion to 1,000 households:
Till Nov. 1907
Nov. 1907 .
Nov. 1919 .
Nov. 1908 .
May 1909 .
July 1910 .
Aug. 1910 .
The number of demands for separate farms before April 1911
for each 1,000 households who held their land in communal tenure
were: S.E. 320-6; Agr. Cent. 236-9; Ind. Cent. 172-5; S.W. 427-3;
N. and N.E. 77-9; whole country 234-9.
These figures show that the greatest number of demands for
separate farms were made in the South and South-East provinces,
where the most extensive agricultural methods prevailed. It ap-
pears also that after May 1909 the number of householders applying
for farms diminished in a marked proportion. The area of the com-
pact plots was generally very small: and the percentage of poor
peasants who asked for enclosure was growing. Their intention in
getting rid of communal ties was to sell their land.
To judge by these data, the Government scheme of creating
a class of small independent farmers was not in a fair way to
success. As was shown above, most of those who asked for
separation held only a small plot, and belonged to the poorer
peasantry. Even with Government assistance they were unable
to start separate farms, as this undertaking involves in the
beginning a considerable outlay of capital. Besides, the natural
conditions in some parts of Russia were not favourable to
separate farms or homesteads. One of the chief difficulties was
the lack of water, which cannot be found at all, except in con-
nexion with considerable rivers, in very large tracts of the " black
soil " area. This fact, together with the traditional leaning of
the peasantry to village life, obliged the Land Commission to
keep up on many occasions the village system even after the
concentration of the fields.
A memoir drawn up by the conference of Old Ritualists held
at Moscow on Feb. 22-25 1906 discloses the view taken by the
peasantry on the question of communal land tenure. The oppo-
nents of the commune suggested that it made impossible any
improvements in agricultural methods and diminished the pro-
ductive power of the soil; its supporters stated that communal
tenure was the only system based on justice; this consideration is
characteristic of the traditional feeling among the Russian people.
The Government scheme sacrificed justice for the sake of
expected increased production. Stolypin himself described the
new land settlement as " a stake on the strong."
The small area of the holdings of the new farmers and their
economic helplessness had, however, a very unfavourable influ-
ence on the expected increase of production. A farmer who held
only 8-10 dess. of land could not introduce any extensive
improvements in his household in the absence of cheap credit.
Stolypin recognized that " primitive methods were used by the
peasantry as before." On the other hand, the rapid growth of
emigration was one of the results of the new settlement.
The land settlement of 1906-10 was carried out with uncom-
mon energy, but the social needs of the population were not
satisfied. The Government was accused of having destroyed
by a stroke of the pen an institution formed by centuries. The
sudden change affected not only the economic conditions of the
peasants' life, but the juridical relations between the members
of the family were also shaken. Before the new settlement the
life of the peasants was based on the participation in the com-
mon holding of all the members of the household. The new law
substituted for this family tenure the individual ownership of
the chief householder. All the other members of the family
suddenly lost their rights in the land.
Other important inconveniences were also pointed out: the
compulsory introduction of the reform, the danger of the
increased competition, the buying up of the peasants' land for
speculative purposes, the increased difficulties of existence in the
case of the small households. The great end of the settlement
the creation of a strong, wealthy and conservative class of
small landowners, was not attained. The necessity of extensive
Government assistance and credit for the improvement of agri-
culture was felt more and more, but the financial estimates under
this heading for 1911 amounted only to 4,000,000 rubles.
Altogether it may be said that Stolypin's agrarian measures
could take effect only if they were accompanied by a steady
policy making for agricultural education and backed by extensive
credit. Even in such a case a long time would have been neces-
sary to enable them to strike root. Their immediate consequence
was rather to increase the fermentation in the villages and to
excite and embitter the feelings of the villagers, who were losing
faith in the village community without acquiring any other
standard of economic organization. Thus the legislation of 1006-
1 1 helped the agrarian upheaval instead of preventing it.
The Third and Fourth Dumas. The death of Stolypin left
a wide gap in the ranks of the Government, and the appoint-
ment of M. Kokovtsov, the Minister of Finance, to the premier-
ship did not result in a rejuvenation of the bureaucratic system.
The new Premier was in favour of continuity in policy; this
meant that he would keep on the lines traced by Stolypin's
initiative and avoid new departures as far as possible. He was a
trained administrator, placed by chance at the head of the
country in a time when caution and routine were certainly
insufficient to meet the requirements of a critical situation. The
principal achievement of the three years of Kokovtsov's rule was
apparent success in the management of financial operations. The
budget grew every year and reached in 1914 the enormous sum of
3 milliard rubles, and yet not only was a deficit avoided, but
some 1,500 millions in gold were accumulated as a reserve fund
to sustain the currency and meet possible emergency calls.
The instability of the vast structure buttressed on the chronic
alcoholism of the people was duly perceived by public opinion,
and a campaign was started in the. Duma to put an end to this
shameful and perilous situation. One of the Duma members,
Chelyshiv, was the soul of this active agitation in the Legislative
Assemblies and in Government circles. He succeeded in obtain-
ing the formation of a commission to examine and report on the
subject, but his abolitionist plans were obstructed by the oppo-
sition of the Finance Ministry, which did not see its way to
balance the budget without the resources supplied by the monop-
oly of the sale of spirits.
Yet signs were not wanting that the welfare of the country was
seriously threatened, in spite of the deceptive appearances of an
enormous and duly balanced budget. The harvest of 191 1 was so
poor that in 1912 Russia was visited by a severe famine. Yet
the Government refused to let voluntary organizations assist
in fighting the disaster; only associations affiliated to the Red
Cross or to the Zemstvos were allowed to send agents into the
provinces, to collect and to distribute funds. The public works
organized by bureaucratic boards were conducted in a very
unsatisfactory manner: the peasants got hardly any help from
them, as support was systematically directed to assist household-
ers who owned horses and were altogether better off. Public
opinion was incensed but powerless. As regards workmen in
factories and workshops some progress was made in connexion
with insurance against ill-health, but in other respects the em-