In Defence of October

Study the lessons of the Russian Revolution

About us 1917 Live

The Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.)

14) Rejoinder to N. S. Angarsky During the Debate on the Agrarian Question May 11 (April 28)

Comrades, it seems to me that Comrade Angarsky is indulging in several contradictions. I speak about the material foundation of the urge towards nationalisation. The peasants have no idea of nationalisation. I say that the conditions of an all-Russia and international market exist, and this is expressed in the high prices of grain. Every peasant sees, knows, and feels the fluctuations of these prices, and farming has to conform to these conditions, to these prices. I say that the old landownership and the new farming system have absolutely diverged and this divergence explains why the peasants are pressing onward. The peasant is a proprietor, Comrade Angarsky says. Quite right. Stolypin wanted to use this as a basis for changing agrarian relations, he tried his hardest, but he failed, because such changes cannot be brought about without a revolutionary break-up. This, then, is the material foundation of the peasants’ urge towards the nationalisation of the land, although they are completely ignorant as to the real meaning of nationalisation. The peasant proprietor is instinctively inclined to maintain that the land is God’s, because it has become impossible to live under the old conditions of landownership. What Comrade Angarsky is proposing is a sheer misunderstanding.

--> The second paragraph says that peasant landownership is fettered all round, from top to bottom, by old semi-feudal ties and relationships. But does it say anything about the landed estates? It does not. Comrade Angarsky’s amendment is based on a misapprehension. He has ascribed to me things I never said, things the peasants have no idea about. The peasants know the world situation by the prices of grain and consumer goods, and if a railway runs through his village, the peasant feels its effect through his own farm. To live the old way is impossible—that’s what the peasant feels, and he expresses this feeling in a radical demand for the abolition of the old system of landownership. The peasant wants to be a proprietor, but he wants to be one on reallocated land; he wants to farm land the ownership of which is conditioned by his present requirements, and not by those which were prescribed for him by officials. The peasant knows this perfectly well, but expresses it differently, of course, and it is this that forms the material foundation of his urge towards the nationalisation of the land.

First published in 1921 in N. Lenin (V. Ulyanov), Works, Volume XIV, Part 2 Published according to the typewritten copy of the Minutes


The February Revolution
Strikes and protests erupt on women's day in Petrograd and develop into a mass movement involving hundreds of thousands of workers; within 5 days the workers win over the army and bring down the hated and seemingly omnipotent Tsarist Monarchy.
Lenin Returns
Lenin returns to Russia and presents his ‘April Theses’ denouncing the Bourgeois Provisional Government and calling for “All Power to the Soviets!”
The June Days
Following the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the reformist leaders called a demonstration to show the strength of "democracy". 400,000 people attended, the vast majority carried banners with Bolshevik slogans.
The July Days
Spontaneous, armed demonstrations against the Provisional Government erupt in Petrograd. The workers and soldiers are suppressed by force, introducing a period of reaction and making the peaceful development of the revolution impossible.
The Kornilov Affair
Following the July days, the Bolsheviks were driven underground and the forces of reaction were emboldened. This process culminated in the reactionary forces coalescing around General Kornilov, who attempt to march on Petrograd and crush the revolutionary movement in its entirety.
The October Revolution
The Provisional Government is overthrown. State power passes to the Soviets on the morningm of 26th October, after the Bolsheviks’ Military Revolutionary Committee seize the city and the cabinet surrenders.
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