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The Formation of the Home Market

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Written: 1896-1899.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th Edition, Moscow, 1964, Volume 3, pp. 552-600
Publisher: Progress Publishers
First Published: First printed in book form at the end of March 1899. Published according to the text of the second edition, 1908.
Original Transcription & Markup: R. Cymbala (2000)
Re-Marked up by: Kevin Goins (2008)
Credt – Marxists Internet Archive
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2000). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

We now have to sum up the data examined in the preceding chapters and to try to give an idea of the interdependence of the various spheres of the national economy in their capitalist development.

I. The Growth of Commodity Circulation

It is well known that commodity circulation precedes commodity production and constitutes one of the conditions (but not the sole condition) of the rise of the latter. In the present work we have confined ourselves to an examination of data on commodity and capitalist production, and for that reason do not intend to deal in detail with the important problem of the growth of commodity circulation in post-Reform Russia. In order to give a general idea of how rapidly the home market has grown, the following brief data will suffice.

The length of the Russian railway system increased from 3,819 kilometres in 1865 to 29,063 km. in 1890,[1] i.e., more than 7-fold. Similar progress was made by Britain in a longer period (1845–4,082 km.; 1875–26,819 km., a 6-fold increase), by Germany in a shorter period (1845– 2,143 km.; 1875–27,981 km., a 12-fold increase). The length of new railway opened per year differed considerably in different periods; for example, in the 5 years 1868-1872 8,806 versts of new railway were opened and in the 5 years 1878-1882, only 2,221.[2] The extent of this fluctuation enables us to judge what an enormous reserve army of unemployed is required by capitalism, which now expands, and then contracts the demand for labour. There have been two boom periods in railway development in Russia: the end of the 60s (and the beginning of the 70s), and the latter half of the 90s. From 1865 to 1875, the average annual increase in the length of the Russian railway system was 1,500 kilometres, and from 1893 to 1897, about 2,500 kilometres.

The amount of railway freight carried was as follows: 1868–439 million poods; 1873—1,117 million poods; 1881—2,532 million poods; 1893—4,846 million poods; 1896—6,145 million poods; 1904— 11,072 million poods. No less rapid has been the growth of passenger traffic: 1868—10.4 million passengers; 1873–22.7; 1881–34.4; 1893—49.4; 1896— 65.5; 1904—123.6 million.[3]

The development of water transport is as follows (data for the whole of Russia):[4]Development of water transport

The amount of freight carried on inland waterways in European Russia in 1881 was 899.7 million poods; in 1893—1,181.5 million poods; in 1896—1,553 million poods. The value of these freights was 186.5 million rubles; 257.2 million rubles; 290 million rubles.

Russia’s merchant marine in 1868 consisted of 51 steamers with a capacity of 14,300 lasts,[12] and of 700 sailing ships with a capacity of 41,800 lasts; and in 1896 of 522 steamers with a capacity of 161,600 lasts.[5]

The development of mercantile shipping at all ports on the outer seas was as follows: during the five years 1856-1860 the number of homeward plus outward bound vessels averaged 18,901, with a total capacity of 3,783,000 tons; for the period 1886-1890 it averaged 23,201 vessels (+23%) with a total capacity of 13,845,000 tons (+266%). Capacity, therefore, increased 3 2/3 times. In 39 years (from 1856 to 1894) capacity grew 5.5-fold, and if we take Russian and foreign vessels separately, it is seen that during these 39 years the number of the former grew 3.4-fold (from 823 to 2,789), while their capacity grew 12.1-fold (from 112,800 tons to 1,368,000 tons), whereas the number of the latter grew by 16% (from 18,284 to 21,160) and their capacity 5.3-fold (from 3,448,000 tons to 18,267,000 tons).[6] Let us remark that the capacity of homeward and outward bound vessels also fluctuates very considerably from year to year (e.g., 1878—13 million tons; 1881—8.6 million tons), and these fluctuations enable us to gauge in part the fluctuations in the demand for unskilled labourers, dockers, etc. Here, too, capitalism requires the existence of a mass of people always in want of work and ready at the first call to accept it, however casual it may be.

The development of foreign trade can be seen from the following data:[7]Development of foreign trade

The following data give a general idea of the volume of bank turnover and capital accumulation. Total withdrawals from the State Bank rose from 113 million rubles in 1860-1863 (170 million rubles in 1864-1868) to 620 million rubles in 1884-1888, and total deposits on current account from 335 million rubles in 1864-1868 to 1,495 million rubles in 1884–1888.[8] The turnover of loan and savings societies and banks (rural and industrial) grew from 2 3/4 million rubles in 1872 (21.8 million rubles in 1875) to 82.6 million rubles in 1892., and 189.6 million rubles in 1903.[9] Mortgages increased from 1889 to 1894 as follows: the assessment of mortgaged land rose from 1,395 million rubles to 1,827 million rubles, and total loans from 791 million rubles to 1,044 million rubles.[10] The operations of savings banks grew particularly in the 80s and 90s. In 1880 there were 75 savings banks, in 1897—4,315 (of which 3,454 were post-office banks). In 1880, deposits amounted to 4.4 million rubles, in 1897 to 276.6 million rubles. Balance on account at the end of the year totalled 9.0 million rubles in 1880, and 494.3 million rubles in 1897. The annual capital increase is particularly striking in the famine years 1891 and 1892 (52.9 and 50.5 million rubles), and in the last two years (1896—51.6 million rubles; 1897—65.5 mil lion rubles).[11]

The latest statistics show an even greater development of the savings banks. In 1904, over the whole of Russia there were 6,557 savings banks with 5.1 million depositors and total deposits of 1,105.5 million rubles. Incidentally, in this country both the old Narodniks and the new opportunists in the socialist movement have frequently been very na\”ive (to put it mildly) in talking about the increase in the number of savings banks constituting a sign of the “people’s” well-being. It will perhaps not be out of place, therefore, to compare the distribution of savings-bank deposits in Russia (1904) with that of France (1900. Information from Bulletin de l’Office du travail, 1901, No. 10).Deposits

What a wealth of material there is here for Narodnik-Revisionist-Cadet apologists! It is interesting, in passing, to note that in Russia deposits are also divided into 12 groups according to the occupations and professions of depositors. It appears that the largest sum of deposits—228.5 million rubles—is that of persons engaged in agriculture and rural industries, and these deposits are growing with particular rapidity. The village is becoming civilised, and to make the muzhik’s ruin a source of business is becoming increasingly profitable.

But let us return to our immediate theme. As we see, the data indicate an enormous growth of commodity circulation and capital accumulation. How the field for the employment of capital in all branches of the national economy was created and how merchant’s capital was transformed into industrial capital, i.e., was directed into production and created capitalist relationships between those taking part in production, has been shown above.


[1] Uebersichten der Weltwirtschaft (Surveys of World Economy. –Ed.), loc. cit. In 1904 the length was 54,878 kilometres in European Russia (including the Kingdom of Poland, the Caucasus and Finland) and 8,351 in Asiatic Russia. (Note to 2nd edition.—Ed.)—Lenin

[2] V. Mikhailovsky, The Development of the Russian Railway System in Transactions of Free Economic Society, 1898, No. 2.—Lenin

[3] Military Statistical Abstract, 511.– Mr. N.–on, Sketches, appendix to Productive Forces, XVII, p. 67.—Vestnik Finansov, 1898, No. 43.— Yearbook of Russia for 1905, St. Petersburg, 1906.—Lenin

[4] Military Statistical Abstract, 445.— Productive Forces, XVII, 42.—Vestnik Finansov, 1898, No. 44.—Lenin

[5] Military Statistical Abstract, 758, and The Ministry of Finance Yearbook, I, 363.—Productive Forces, XVII, 30.—Lenin

[6] Productive Forces. Russia’s Foreign Trade, p. 56, and foll.—Lenin

[7] Ibid., p. 17. Yearbook of Russia for 1904, St. Petersburg, 1905.—Lenin

[8] Returns for Russia, 1890, CIX.—Lenin

[9] Returns for Russia, 1896. Table CXXVII.—Lenin

[10] Ibid.—Lenin

[11] Vestnik Finansov, 1898, No. 26.—Lenin

[12] Last—a term used on Russian merchant ships: equalled two tons. [p. 554]

II. The Growth of the Commercial and Industrial Population

We have stated above that the growth of the industrial population at the expense of the agricultural is a requisite phenomenon of every capitalist society. In what way the separation of industry from agriculture steadily takes place has also been examined, and now all that remains is to sum up on this question.

1) The Growth of the Towns

The most striking expression of the process under examination is the growth of the towns. Here are data on this growth in European Russia (50 gubernias) in the post Reform period[1]:PopulationV. I. Lenin’s grouping of towns in European Russia according to the population census of 1897

Thus, the percentage of urban population is constantly growing, that is, the population is being diverted from agriculture into commercial and industrial occupations.[2] The population of the towns is growing twice as fast as that of the rest of the country: from 1863 to 1897 the total population increased 53.3%, the rural 48.5%, while the urban increased 97%. Over a period of 11 years (1885-1897) “the influx, at a minimum, of the rural population into the towns” was 2 1/2 million persons, according to Mr. V. Mikhailovsky’s estimate,[3] i.e., more than 200,000 per annum.

The population of towns that are important industrial and commercial centres is growing much more rapidly than the urban population generally. The number of towns with 50,000 and more inhabitants more than trebled between 1863 and 1897 (13 and 44). In 1863, of the total urban population only about 27% (1.7 million out of 6.1) were concentrated in such large centres; in 1885 it was nearly 41% (4.1 million out of 9.9),[4] and in 1897 it was already more than half, about 53% (6.4 million out of 12 million). In the 1860s, therefore, the smaller towns provided the general pattern of the urban population, but in the 1890s they were completely outweighed by the big cities. The population of the 14 towns that had been the biggest in 1863 increased from 1.7 million inhabitants to 4.3 million, i.e., by 153%, whereas the overall urban population increased by only 97% . Hence, the enormous growth of large industrial centres and the emergence of a large number of new centres is one of the most characteristic features of the post-Reform period.

2) The Significance of Home Colonisation

As we have pointed out above (Chapter I, § II, p. 40), theory deduces the law that the industrial population grows at the expense of the agricultural from the fact that in industry variable capital increases absolutely (the growth of variable capital means a growth of the number of industrial workers and a growth of the total commercial and industrial population), whereas in agriculture the “variable capital required for the exploitation of a certain plot of land decreases absolutely.” “It can thus only increase,” Marx adds, “to the extent that new land is taken into cultivation, but this again requires as a prerequisite a still greater growth of the non-agricultural population.”[44] Hence it is clear that the growth of the industrial population is a phenomenon observable in its pure form only when we have before us an already populated territory in which all the land is already occupied. The inhabitants of such a territory, when forced-out of agriculture by capitalism, have no other alternative but to migrate to the industrial centres or to other countries. But the situation is essentially different when we have before us a territory in which not all the land is occupied, and which is not yet fully populated. The inhabitants of such a territory, when forced out of agriculture in a populated area, may remove to an unpopulated part of that territory and set about “taking new land into cultivation.” The result will be an increase in the agricultural population, and this increase may be (for some time) no less, if not more, rapid than the increase in the industrial population. In that case, we have before us two different processes: 1) the development of capitalism in the old, populated country or part of the country; 2) the development of capitalism on “new land.” The first process expresses the further development of established capitalist relationships; the second, the rise of new capitalist relationships on new territory. The first process means the development of capitalism in depth, the second, in breadth. Obviously, to confuse these two processes must inevitably lead to a wrong conception of the process which diverts the population from agriculture to commercial and industrial occupations.

Post-Reform Russia affords us an example of the two processes going on simultaneously. At the beginning of the post-Reform period, in the 60s, the southern and eastern outer regions of European Russia were largely unpopulated, and there was an enormous influx into those areas of migrants from the central agricultural part of Russia. It was this formation of a new agricultural population on new territory that to some extent obscured the parallel process of the diversion of the population from agriculture to industry. To get a clear picture, from data on the urban population, of the specific feature of Russia here described, we must divide the 50 gubernias of European Russia into separate groups. We give data on the urban population in 9 areas of European Russia in 1863 and in 1897 (see p. 564).Population

As far as the question that interests us is concerned, the greatest importance attaches to three areas: 1) the non-agricultural industrial area (the 11 gubernias in the first two groups, including the 2 metropolitan gubernias).[5] This is an area from which migration to other areas has been very slight. 2) The central agricultural area (the 13 gubernias in group 3). Migration from this area has been very consider able, partly to the previous area, but mainly to the next. 3) The agricultural outer regions (the 9 gubernias in group 4) constitute an area that has been colonised in the post-Reform period. The percentage of urban population in all these 33 gubernias differs very little, as the table shows, from the percentage of urban population in European Russia as a whole.

In the first area, the non-agricultural or industrial, we observe a particularly rapid rise in the percentage of urban population: from 14.1% to 21.1%. The growth of the rural population is here very slight, being little more than half of that for the whole of Russia. The growth of the urban population, on the other hand, is considerably above the average (105% as against 97%). If Russia is to be compared with West-European industrial countries (as is often done here), then these countries should be compared with just this one area, for it alone has conditions approximately similar to those of the industrial capitalist countries.

In the second, the central agricultural area, we see a different picture. The percentage of urban population here is very low and grows with less than average rapidity. The increase in the population between 1863 and 1897, both urban and rural, was much below the average for Russia. This is to be explained by the vast stream of migrants from this area to the border regions. According to Mr. V. Mikhailovsky’s calculations, between 1885 and 1897 nearly 3 million people, or more than one-tenth of the population left these parts.[6]

In the third area, the outer regions, we see that the percentage of urban population underwent an increase that was slightly below the average (from 11.2% to 13.3%, i.e., in the proportion of 100 : 118, whereas the average is from 9.94 to 12.76, i.e., in the proportion of 100 : 128). And yet the absolute growth of the urban population here, far from being less, was considerably above the average (+130% as against +97%). The diversion of population from agriculture to industry has, consequently, been very intense, but it is hidden by the enormous growth of the agricultural population as a result of influx: in this area the rural population increased by 87%, as against an average for Russia of 48.5%. In certain gubernias this obscuring of the process of the industrialisation of the population is still more striking. For instance, in Taurida Gubernia the percentage of urban population was the same in 1897 as in 1863 (19.6%), and in Kherson Gubernia actually declined (from 25.9% to 25.4%), although the growth of the towns in both the gubernias was not far behind that of the metropolitan cities (+131%, +135%, as against +141% in the two metropolitan gubernias). The rise of a new agricultural population on new territory thus leads, in turn, to a still greater growth of the non-agricultural population.

3) The Growth of Factory and of Commercial and Industrial Townships and Villages

In addition to the towns, the following have the significance of industrial centres: firstly, suburbs, which are not always counted with the towns and which are spreading in an increasing area around the big towns; and secondly, factory townships and villages. Such industrial centres[7] are particularly numerous in the industrial gubernias where the percentage of urban population is extremely low.[8] The above table containing the data, by areas, of the town population shows that in the 9 industrial gubernias the percentage in 1863 was 7.3% and in 1897, 8.6%. The fact is that the commercial and industrial population of these gubernias is concentrated mainly, not in towns, but in industrial villages. Among the “towns” of Vladimir, Kostroma, Nizhni-Novgorod and other gubernias there are not a few with less than 3,000, 2,000 or even 1,000 inhabitants, where as there are numerous “villages” in each of which there are 2,000, 3,000 or 5,000 factory workers alone. In the post-Reform period, rightly observes the compiler of the Survey of Yaroslavl Gubernia (Vol. II., 191),“the towns have begun to grow still faster, and in addition there has been the growth of settlements of a new type, a type of factory centre midway between the town and the village.” We have cited data showing the enormous growth of these centres and the number of factory workers concentrated in them. We have seen that there are quite a few centres of this kind throughout Russia, not only in the industrial gubernias, but also in the South. In the Urals the percentage of urban population is lowest: in Vyatka and Perm gubernias it was 3.2% in 1863 and 4.7% in 1897. But here is an example of the relative size of the “urban” and the industrial populations: in Krasnoufimsk Uyezd, Perm Gubernia, the urban population numbers 6,400 (1897), whereas according to the Zemstvo census of 1888-1891, the population of the industrial section of the uyezd numbers 84,700, of whom 56,000 do not engage in agriculture at all, and only 5,600 obtain their livelihood mainly from the land. In Ekaterinburg Uyezd, according to the Zemstvo census, 65,000 inhabitants are landless and 81,000 have only meadow land. Hence, the industrial non-urban population of two uyezds alone is larger than the urban population of the whole gubernia (in 1897 it was 195,600!).

Finally, in addition to factory settlements, the significance of industrial centres attaches to the trading and industrial villages, which are either at the head of large handicraft districts, or have developed rapidly since the Reform, owing to their situation on the banks of rivers, near railway stations, etc. Several examples of such villages were given in Chapter VI, § II, and we saw that, like the towns, they attract the rural population, and that they are usually marked by a level of literacy among the population above the average.[9] As a further example let us quote data on Voronezh Gubernia in order to show the relative importance of urban and non-urban industrial and commercial centres of population. The Combined Returns for Voronezh Gubernia gives a combined table classifying the villages in 8 uyezds of the gubernia. In these uyezds there are 8 towns, with a population of 56,149 (in 1897). Of the villages, on the other hand, 4 stand out with 9,376 households, and with 53,732 inhabitants, i.e., they are much bigger than the towns. In 5 these villages there are 240 commercial and 404 industrial establishments. Of the total households, 60% do not cultivate at all, 21% cultivate by neighbour-hire or on a half-crop basis, 71% have neither draught animals nor implements, 63% buy grain all year round, 86% engage in industries. By placing the entire population of these centres in the category of commercial and industrial, we not only do not exaggerate, but rather minimise, the size of the latter, for altogether in these 8 uyezds 21,956 households cultivate no land at all. Nevertheless, in the agricultural gubernia we have taken, the commercial and industrial population outside the towns turns out to be not less than that inside the towns.

4) Non-Agricultural Outside Employments

But even if we add to the towns the factory and commercial and industrial villages and townships we are far from exhausting the total industrial population of Russia. The lack of freedom of movement and the social-estate exclusiveness of the village community fully explain the remarkable characteristic of Russia that we have to include no small part of the rural population in its industrial population, that part which obtains its livelihood by working in industrial centres and spends part of the year in these centres. We refer to the so-called non-agricultural “outside employments.” From the official point of view, these “industrialists” are peasant farmers who merely have “subsidiary employments,” and the majority of the Narodnik economists have, without further ado, adopted that viewpoint. There is no need, after what has been said above, to prove in detail how unsound it is. At all events, however much opinions on it may vary, there cannot be the slightest doubt that it indicates a diversion of the population from agriculture into commercial and industrial occupations.[10] How far this fact changes our idea of the size of the industrial population in the towns may be seen from the following example. In Kaluga Gubernia the percentage of urban population is much lower than the average for Russia (8.3%, as against 12.8%). Now the Statistical Survey of that gubernia for 1896 calculates, on the basis of passport data, the total number of months during which migratory workers were absent from their homes. It appears that the total is 1,491,600 months; divided by 12 this will give an absent population of 124,300 persons, i.e., “nearly 11% of the total population ” (loccit., 46)! Add this number to the urban population (in 1897—97,900), and the percentage of industrial population will be a very considerable one.

Of course, a certain part of the migratory non-agricultural workers are registered among the existing town population, and are also part of the population of the non-urban industrial centres to which we have already referred. But only a part, for owing to the mobile character of this section of the population, it is difficult to cover them by any local census; furthermore, population censuses are usually taken in the winter, whereas most of these industrial workers leave their homes in the spring. Here are data for some of the principal gubernias of non-agricultural migration.[11]Percentage distribution of residential permits issued.

The number of passports issued reaches the maximum everywhere in the spring. Hence, a large part of the temporarily absent workers are not included in the censuses of the towns.[12] But these temporary town-dwellers may also more legitimately be assigned to the urban rather than the rural population. “A family which gets its livelihood throughout the year, or during the greater part of it, in the town has far more reason to regard the town, which provides its subsistence, as its place of domicile than the village, with which it has only family and fiscal ties.”[13] The enormous significance these fiscal ties have to this day can be seen from the fact, for instance, that among migratory Kostroma people “it is a rare thing for peasants to get for it [the land] some small part of the taxes to be paid; usually they lease it on the sole condition that the tenants put it to use, the owner himself paying all the taxes” (D. Zhbankov, Women’s Country, Kostroma, 1891, p. 21). In the Survey of Yaroslavl Gubernia (Vol. II, Yaroslavl, 1896), we also find repeated references to migratory industrial workers having to purchase their release from their villages and allotments (pp. 28, 48, 149, 150, 166 and others).[14]

How many migratory non-agricultural workers are there? The number of people engaged in all kinds of industries employing migratory workers is not less than from 5 to 6 millions. In fact, in 1884, about 4.67 million passports and identity cards were issued in European Russia,[15] and passport revenue grew between 1884 and 1894 by more than one-third (from 3.3 to 4.5 million rubles). In 1897 the total number of passports and cards issued in Russia was 9,495,700 (of which 9,333,200 were issued in the 50 gubernias of European Russia). In 1898 the number was 8,259,900 (European Russia, 7,809,600).[16] The number of workers superfluous (as compared with local demand) in European Russia has been estimated by Mr. S. Korolenko at 6.3 million. Above we have seen (Chapter III, § IX, p. 239) that in 11 agricultural gubernias the number of passports issued exceeded Mr. Korolenko’s estimate (2 million as against 1.7 million). Now we can add the data for 6 non-agricultural gubernias: Mr. Korolenko sets the number of superfluous workers in these at 1,287,800, while the number of passports issued was 1,298,600.[17] Thus, in 17 gubernias of European Russia (11 black-earth, plus 6 non-black earth) there are, according to Mr. Korolenko, 3 million workers who are superfluous (as against the local demand). In the 90s, however, the number of passports and cards issued in these 17 gubernias was 3.3 million. In 1891, these gubernias provided 52.2% of the total passport revenue. Hence, the number of migratory workers in all probability exceeds 6 million. Finally, Zemstvo statistical data (most of which are obsolete) led Mr. Uvarov to the conclusion that Mr. Korolenko’s figure was close to the truth, and that the figure of 5 million migratory workers was “very highly probable.”[18]

The question now arises: how large is the number of non-agricultural and of agricultural migratory workers? Mr. N.–on very boldly and quite mistakenly asserts that “the overwhelming majority of peasant outside employments are agricultural” (Sketches, p. 16). Chaslavsky, whom Mr. N.–on cites, expresses himself much more cautiously; he cites no data and limits himself to general remarks about the size of the areas which provide workers of one type or another. On the other hand, Mr. N.–on’s railway passenger traffic data prove absolutely nothing, for non-agricultural workers also leave their homes mainly in spring and, moreover, use the railways much more than agricultural workers do.[19] We presume, on the contrary, that the majority (although not the “overwhelming” majority) of the migratory workers are probably non-agricultural workers. This view is based, firstly, on data concerning the distribution of passport revenue, and, secondly, on Mr. Vesin’s data. Years ago Flerovsky, on the basis of the returns for 1862-63 showing the distribution of revenue from “miscellaneous duties” (more than one-third of which was obtained from the issue of passports), drew the conclusion that the greatest movement of peasants in search of work was from the metropolitan and the non-agricultural gubernias.[20] If we take the 11 non-agricultural gubernias which we combined above (part 2 of this section) into a single area, and which non-agricultural workers leave in large numbers, we shall see that these gubernias in 1885 contained only 18.7% of the population of all European Russia (in 1897— 18.3%), whereas they accounted for 42.9% of the passport revenue in 1885 (in 1891—40.7%).[21] Non-agricultural workers are provided by very many other gubernias, and we must there fore conclude that agricultural workers constitute less than half of the migrants. Mr. Vesin divides 38 gubernias of European Russia (which account for 90% of the departure permits) into groups according to the different types of migration that predominate, and obtains the following results.[22]Number of departure permits issued.

“These figures show that industries employing migratory workers are more prevalent in the first group than in the third. . . . These figures also show that there is a diversity in the duration of absence to secure employment corresponding to the difference in the groups. Where non-agricultural industries employing migratory workers predominate, the length of absence is much greater” (Dyelo, 1886, No. 7, p. 134).

Finally, the statistics given above for excise-paying trades, etc., enable us to classify the residential permits issued in all the 50 gubernias of European Russia. Making the indicated corrections to Mr. Vesin’s classification, and distributing among these same groups the 12 gubernias for which figures are lacking for 1884 (Olonets and Pskov gubernias to group I; the 9 Baltic and North-West gubernias to group II; and Astrakhan Gubernia to group III), we get the following picture:Total residential permits issued.


Migration for work away from home, according to these data, is much more prevalent in group I than in group III.

Thus, there can be no doubt that the mobility of the population is far greater in Russia’s non-agricultural zone than in the agricultural. The number of non-agricultural migratory workers must be greater than that of the agricultural, and must be not less than three million.

The enormous and ever-increasing growth of migration is confirmed by all sources. Passport revenue increased from 2.1 million rubles in 1868 (1.75 million rubles in 1866) to 4.5 million rubles in 1893-94, i.e., it more than doubled. The number of passports and identity cards issued increased in Moscow Gubernia between 1877 and 1885 by 20% (males) and 53% (females); in Tver Gubernia, between 1893 and 1896 by 5.6%, in Kaluga Gubernia, between 1885 and 1895 by 23% (and the number of months of absence by 26%); in Smolensk Gubernia, from 100,000 in 1875 to 117,000 in 1885 and 140,000 in 1895; in Pskov Gubernia, from 11,716 in 1865-1875 to 14,944 in 1876 and to 43,765 in 1896 (males). In Kostroma Gubernia, in 1868, 23.8 passports and cards per 100 males were issued and 0.85 per 100 females, and in 1880—33.1 and 2.2. And so on and so forth.

Like the diversion of the population from agriculture to the towns, non-agricultural migration is a progressive phenomenon. It tears the population out of the neglected, backward, history-forgotten remote spots and draws them into the whirlpool of modern social life. It increases literacy among the population,[24] heightens their understanding,[25] and gives them civilised habits and requirements.[26] The peasants are induced to migrate by “motives of a higher order,” i.e., by the greater smartness and polish of the Petersburger; they look for places where “things are better.” “Life and work in Petersburg are considered to be easier than in the country.”[27] “All country-folk are called raw, and the strange thing is that they are not in the least offended at this, but refer to themselves as such and complain that their parents did not send them to St. Petersburg to study. It should be stated, however, that these raw country people are not nearly so raw as those in the purely agricultural districts; they unconsciously copy the outward appearance and the habits of the Petersburgers; the light of the metropolis falls indirectly on them.”[28] In Yaroslavl Gubernia (apart from examples of people growing rich) “there is still another cause which drives everyone from his home. That is—public opinion, which dubs a bumpkin to the end of his days anybody who has not lived in Peters burg, or somewhere else, but engages in agriculture or some handicraft, and such a man finds it hard to get a wife” (Survey of Yaroslavl Gubernia, II, 118). Migration to the town elevates the peasant as a citizen, releasing him from the host of patriarchal and personal relationships of dependence and social-estate divisions so strongly entrenched in the rural districts….[29] “A prime factor that fosters migration is the growing sense of human dignity among the people. Liberation from serf dependence, and the long-standing association of the more active section of the rural population with town life, have long since roused the desire in the Yaroslavl peasant to uphold his ‘ego,’ to get away from the state of poverty and dependence to which rural life has doomed him, to a state of sufficiency, independence and respect. . . . The peasant who lives on outside earnings feels freer and more on a level of equality with people belonging to other social estates, which is why the rural youth are so eager to go to the town” (Survey of Yaroslavl Gubernia, II, 189-190).

Migration to the towns loosens the old patriarchal family ties and places women in a more independent position, on an equal footing with men. “Compared with those in the localities of no migration, the families of Soligalich and Chukhloma” (the uyezds of Kostroma Gubernia where migration is greatest) “are much less closely knit, not only in the sense of the patriarchal authority of the older, but even in the relations between parents and children, husband and wife. One cannot, of course, expect strong affection for their parents and attachment to the parental home from sons who are sent to Petersburg from the age of 12; unconsciously they become cosmopolitans: ‘where it is well, there is my country.’”[30] “Accustomed to dispense with the authority and assistance of her husband, the Soligalich woman is quite unlike the downtrodden peasant woman of the agricultural zone: she is independent and self-reliant. . . . Wife-beating is a rare exception here. . . . Generally speaking, equality between women and men is to be observed almost everywhere and in all things.”[31]

Last but not least,[32] non-agricultural migration raises the wages not only of the wage-workers who migrate but also of those who stay behind.

This fact is most strikingly reflected in the general circumstance that the non-agricultural gubernias where wages are higher than in the agricultural gubernias, attract agricultural workers from the latter.[33] Here are some interesting data for Kaluga Gubernia:Monthly earnings

“These figures fully illustrate the phenomena . . . 1) that migration for work in industry helps to raise wages in agriculture, and 2) that it attracts the best forces of the population.”[34] Not only money wages, but real wages also rise. In the group of uyezds from which not fewer than 60 out of every 100 working people migrate the average wage of the farm labourer employed by the year is 69 rubles, or 123 poods of rye; in the uyezds where from 40 to 60% migrate, it is 64 rubles, or 125 poods of rye; in the uyezds which supply less than 40% of the migrants, it is 59 rubles, or 116 poods of rye.[35] In these same groups of uyezds the percentage of letters of complaint about a shortage of labour steadily drops: 58%, 42% and 35%. In manufacturing industry wages are higher than in agriculture, and “the industries, according to the statements of numerous correspondents, help to develop new requirements (tea, calico, boots, clocks, etc.) among the peasant population, raise their general standard of living, and in this way bring about a rise in wages.”[36] Here is a typical view by a correspondent: “The shortage [of labour] is always acute, and the reason is that the suburban population is spoilt, it works in the railway workshops and serves on the railways. The nearness of Kaluga and its markets always attract the surrounding inhabitants, who come to sell eggs, milk, etc., and then engage in orgies of drunkenness in the taverns; the reason is that everybody wants to get the highest pay for the least work. To be an agricultural labourer is considered a disgrace : all strive to get to the town, where they swell the ranks of the proletariat and the riff-raff; the countryside, on the other hand, suffers from a shortage of capable and healthy labourers.”[37] We would be quite justified in describing this appraisal of industries employing migratory workers as Narodist. Mr. Zhbankov, for instance, while pointing out that those who migrate are not superfluous but “necessary” workers whose places are taken by entering peasants, considers it “obvious” that “such mutual replacements are very disadvantageous.”[38] For whom, dear Mr. Zhbankov? “Life in the capitals cultivates many civilised habits of the lower order and an inclination to luxury and showiness, and this results in a useless (sic !!) waste of money”[39]; the expenditure on this showiness, etc., is largely “unproductive” (!!)[40] Mr. Hertzenstein positively howls about the “sham culture,” “the riotous living,” “wild carousing,” “orgies of drunkenness and filthy debauchery,” etc.[41] From the fact of wholesale migration the Moscow statisticians draw the outright conclusion that it is necessary to take “measures that would diminish the need for migratory labour.”[42] Mr. Karyshev argues about migratory labour as follows: “Only an increase in the peasants’ holdings to a size sufficient to provide the main (!) requirements of their families can solve this most serious problem of our national economy.”[43]

And it does not occur to any of these serene-spirited gentlemen that before talking about “solving most serious problems,” one must see to it that the peasants obtain complete freedom of movement, freedom to give up their land and leave the community, freedom to settle (without having to pay “riddance” money) in any community, urban or rural, whatsoever!

And so the diversion of the population from agriculture is expressed, in Russia, in the growth of the towns (a growth partly obscured by home colonisation), suburbs, factory and commercial and industrial villages and townships, as well as in non-agricultural migration. All these processes, which have been and are rapidly developing in breadth and depth in the post-Reform period, are necessary components of capitalist development and are profoundly progressive as compared with the old forms of life.


[1] For 1863 the figures are from the Statistical Chronicle (I, 1866) and the Military Statistical Abstract. The figures of the urban population of the Orenburg and Ufa gubernias have been corrected according to the tables of towns. That is why our figure for the total urban population is 6,105,100 and not 6,087,100 as given in the Military Statistical Abstract.—For 1885 the data are from Returns for Russia for 1884-85.—For 1897 the figures are those of the returns of the census of January 28, 1897. (First General Census of the Population of the Russian Empire, 1897, Central Statistical Committee, St. Petersburg, 1897 and 1898, Pts. 1 and 2.) The permanent urban population, according to the 1897 census, was 11,830,500, i.e., 12.55%. We have taken the existing population of the towns.—Let us observe that we cannot vouch for the figures for 1863, 1885 and 1897 being absolutely uniform and comparable. For that reason we limit our comparison to the most general proportions and give the data for the big towns separately.—Lenin

[2] “The number of urban settlements of an agricultural character is extremely small and the number of their inhabitants is quite insignificant compared with the total number of town-dwellers.” (Mr Grigoryev in The Influence of Harvests and Grain Prices, Vol. II; p. 126.)—Lenin

[3] Novoye Slovo, June 1897, p. 113.—Lenin

[4] Mr. Grigoryev gives a table (loc, cit., 140) which shows that in 1885 of all towns 85.6% had less than 20,000 inhabitants each; 38% of all town-dwellers were living in them; 12.4% of the towns (82 out of 660) had less than 2,000 inhabitants each, and only 1.1% of all town-dwellers (110,000 out of 9,962,000) were living in them.—Lenin

[5] That we are right in combining with the metropolitan gubernias the non-agricultural gubernias taken by us is borne out by the fact that the population of the metropolitan cities is augmented chiefly by migrants from these gubernias. According to the Petersburg census of December 15,1890, there were in that city 726,000 members of the peasant and the burgher estates, of these, 544,000 (i.e., three fourths) were members of the peasant and the burgher estates from the 11 gubernias out of which we constituted area No. 1.—Lenin

[6] Loccit., p. 109. “This movement has no parallel in the modern history of Western Europe” (110-111).—Lenin

[7] See above, Chapter VII, § VIII, and Appendix III to Chapter VII.—Lenin

[8] On the significance of this circumstance, to which Korsak in his day drew attention, compare the just remarks of Mr. Volgin (loccit., pp. 215-216).—Lenin

[9] How numerous in Russia are villages that constitute very big centres of population may be judged from the following (though obsolete) data of the Military Statistical Abstract : in 25 gubernias of European Russia there were in the 60s a total of 1,334 villages with over 2,000 inhabitants each. Of them, 108 had from 5,000 to 10,000 inhabitants, 6 from 10,000 to 15,000, 1 from 15,000 to 20,000 and 1 over 20,000 (p. 169). The development of capitalism in all countries, not only in Russia, has led to the rise of new industrial centres not officially classified as towns. “Differences between town and country are obliterated, near growing industrial towns this takes place due to the removal of industrial enterprises and workers’ dwellings to the suburbs and outskirts of the towns; near declining small towns it takes place due to the merging of the latter with the surrounding villages and also to the development of large industrial villages. . . . Differences between the urban and rural populated areas are eliminated due to numerous transitional formations. Statisticians have recognised this long ago, and instead of the historico-juridical concept of the town have adopted the statistical concept, which distinguishes centres of population solely according to the number of inhabitants” (B\”ucher, Die Entstehung der Volkswirtschaft, T\”ubingen, 1893, S. 296-297 and 303-304). In this respect also Russian statistics lag far behind European statistics. In Germany and in France (Statesman’s Yearbook, pp. 536, 474) under towns are placed centres of population having more than 2,000 inhabitants, and in England “net urban sanitary districts,” i.e., also factory villages, etc. Hence, Russian data on the “urban” population are not at all comparable with European.—Lenin

[10] Mr. N.–on has not noticed at all in Russia the process of the industrialisation of the population! Mr. V. V. observed it and admitted that the growth of migration expresses a diversion of the population from agriculture (The Destiny of Capitalism, 149); however, far from including this process in the sum-total of his views on the “destiny of capitalism,” he tried to hush it up with lamentations about the point that “there are people who find all this very natural” (for capitalist society? Can Mr. V. V. imagine capitalism without this phenomenon?) “and almost desirable” (ibid.). It is desirable without the “almost,” Mr. V. V.!—Lenin

[11] Residential Permits Issued to the Peasant Population of Moscow Gubernia in 1880 and 1885.—Statistical Yearbook of Tver Gubernia for 1897.—Zhbankov: Industries Employing Migratory Workers in Smolensk Gubernia, Smolensk, 1896.—Same author’s: The Influence of Industries Employing Migratory Workersetc., Kostroma, 1887.—Industries of the Peasant Population of Pskov Gubernia, Pskov, 1898.—Mistakes in the percentages for Moscow Gubernia could not be corrected because there were no absolute figures.—For Kostroma Gubernia only uyezd figures are available, and then only in percentages. We had, therefore, to take the average of the uyezd figures, and for this reason we give the data for Kostroma Gubernia separately. As regards Yaroslavl Gubernia, it is estimated that of the migratory industrialists 68.7% are absent all year round: 12.6% in the autumn and winter, and 18.7% in the spring and summer. We would observe that the data for Yaroslavl Gubernia (Survey of Yaroslavl Gubernia, Vol. II, Yaroslavl, 1896) are not comparable with the preceding ones, since they are based on the statements of priests, etc., and not on passport data.—Lenin

[12] It is known, for instance, that in the suburbs of St. Petersburg the population increases very considerably in the summer.—Lenin

[13] Statistical Survey of Kaluga Gubernia for 1896, Kaluga, 1897, p. in Sec. II.—Lenin

[14] “Industries employing migratory workers . . . are a form that obscures the uninterrupted growth of the towns. . . . Communal land tenure and various peculiarities of the financial and administrative life of Russia do not allow the peasant to become a town-dweller as easily as in the West. . . . Legal threads sustain his (the migratory worker’s) tie with the village, but actually by occupation, habits and tastes he has become completely assimilated with the town and often regards this tie with his village as irksome” (Russkaya Mysl, 1896, No. 11, p. 227). That is very true, but for a publicist is not enough. Why did not the author declare definitely for complete freedom of movement, for the freedom of the peasant to leave the village community? Our liberals are still afraid of our Narodniks. But they have no reason to be.

And here, for purposes of comparison, are the views of a sympathiser with Narodism, Mr. Zhbankov: “Migration to the towns is, as it were, a lightning conductor (sic!) against the rapid growth of the capitals and big cities and the increase of the urban and landless proletariat. Both from the sanitary and from the social and economic points of view, this influence of industries employing migratory workers should be regarded as beneficial: so long as the masses of the people are not completely divorced from the land, which provides the migratory workers with some security” (a “security” they pay money to break with!), “these workers cannot become the blind instruments of capitalist production, and the hope remains of organising agricultural-industrial communes” (Yuridichesky Vestnik, 1890, No. 9 p 145). Is not the retention of petty-bourgeois hopes really beneficial? As for “blind instruments,” the experience of Europe and all the facts observed in Russia show that this description is far more applicable to the worker who retains his ties with the land and with patriarchal relationships than to the one who has broken these ties. The figures and facts given by Mr. Zhbankov himself show that the migratory “Petersburger” is more literate, cultured and developed than the settled Kostromer in some “backwoods” uyezd.—Lenin

[15] L. Vesin, The Significance of Industries Employing Migratory Workersetc., Dyelo (Business ), 1886, No. 7, and 1887, No. 2.—Lenin

[16] Statistics of Excise-Paying Tradesetc., for 1897-1898, St. Petersburg, 1900. Published by Head Office of Non-Assessed Taxes Department.—Lenin

[17] Gubernias: Moscow (1885, obsolete data), Tver (1896), Kostroma (1892), Smolensk (1895), Kaluga (1895), Pskov (1896). The sources have been indicated above. The data refer to all departure permits, male and female.—Lenin

[18] Vestnik obshchestvennoi gigienysudebnoi i prakticheskoi meditsiny (Journal of Public Hygiene and of Forensic and Practical Medicine ), July, 1896. M. Uvarov: The Influence of Industry Employing Migratory Workers on the Sanitary Conditions of Russia. M. Uvarov gathered the data for 126 uyezds of 20 gubernias.—Lenin

[19] Cf. above, p. 239, footnote.—Lenin

[20] The Condition of the Working Class in Russia, St. Petersburg, 1869, p. 400 and foll.—Lenin

[21] Data on passport revenue taken from Returns for Russia for 1884-85 and for 1896. In 1885, passport revenue in European Russia amounted to 37 rubles per 1,000 inhabitants; in the 11 non-agricultural gubernias it was 86 rubles per 1,000 inhabitants.—Lenin

[22] The last two columns in the table have been added by us. Group 1 includes the following gubernias: Archangel, Vladimir, Vologda Vyatka, Kaluga, Kostroma, Moscow, Novgorod, Perm, St. Petersburg, Tver, Yaroslavl; group II: Kazan, Nizhni-Novgorod, Ryazan, Tula, Smolensk; group III: Bessarabia, Volhynia, Voronezh, Ekaterinoslav, Don, Kiev, Kursk, Orenburg, Orel, Penza, Podolsk, Poltava, Samara, Saratov, Simbirsk, Taurida, Tambov, Ufa, Kharkov, Kherson, Chernigov.—We must mention that this classification contains some inaccuracies exaggerating the proportion of migration for agricultural work. The gubernias of Smolensk, Nizhni-Novgorod and Tula should be included in group I (cf. Agricultural Survey of Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia for 1896, Chapter XI—Tula Gubernia Handbook for 1895, Section VI, p. 10: the number of persons leaving for work away from their homes is given as 188,000—but Mr. Korolenko calculated that there were only 50,000 superfluous workers!—the 6 northern, non-black-earth uyezds accounting for 107,000 migrants.) Kursk Gubernia should be included in group II (S. Korolenko, loccit.: from 7 uyezds the majority leave for handicraft, and from the remaining 8 all leave for agricultural industries). Unfortunately, Mr. Vesin does not give the number, by gubernias, of departure permits issued.—Lenin

[23] * Incidentally, the author of the survey of these data (loccit., Chapter VI, p. 639) ascribes the decrease in the number of passports issued in 1898 to the drop in the migration of summer workers to the southern gubernias resulting from the bad harvest and the widespread use of machinery in agriculture. This explanation is of no value whatever, since the number of residential permits issued declined least in group III and most in group I. Are the methods of registration in 1897 and in 1898 comparable? (Note to 2nd edition.)—Lenin

[24] Zhbankov: The Influence of Industries Employing Migratory Workersetc., p. 36 and foll. The percentage of literate males in the uyezds of Kostroma Gubernia from which there is migration is 55.9%; in the factory uyezds, 34.9%, in the settled (forest) uyezds, 25.8%; of literate females: 3.5%, 2.0% and 1.3%; school children: 1.44%, 1.43%, and 1.07%. Children in uyezds from which there is migration also attend school in St. Petersburg.—Lenin

[25] “The literate Petersburgers take a positively better and more intelligent attitude to medical treatment” (ibid., 34), so that infectious diseases are not so fatal among them as in the “little-cultured ” volosts (author’s italics).—Lenin

[26] “The uyezds from which there is migration are much superior to the agricultural and forest localities in the arrangement of their lives. . . . The clothes of the Petersburgers are much cleaner, smarter and more hygienic. . . . The children are kept cleaner, and that is why the itch and other skin diseases are not so frequent among them” (ibid., 39. Cf. Industries Employing Migratory Workers in Smolensk Gubernia, p. 8). “The villages from which there is migration differ considerably from those from which there is none: houses, clothes, habits and amusements remind one more of town than of village life” (Industries Employing Migratory Workers in Smolensk Gubernia, p. 3). In the volosts of Kostroma Gubernia from which there is migration “you find paper, ink, pencils and pens in half the houses” (Women’s Country, 67-68).—Lenin

[27] Women’s Country, 26-27, 15.—Lenin

[28] Ibid., p. 27.—Lenin

[29] For example, the Kostroma peasants are prompted to become registered as burghers, among other things by possible “corporal punishment,” which is “even more awful to the flashy Petersburger than to the raw country dweller” (ibid., 58).—Lenin

[30] Ibid., 88.—Lenin

[31] Yuridichesky Vestnik, 1890, No. 9, p. 142.—Lenin

[32] This expression is in English in the original.—Ed.

[33] Cf. Chapter IV, § IV, pp. 270-271.—Lenin

[34] Statistical Survey of Kaluga Gubernia for 1896, Sec. II, p. 48.—Lenin

[35] Ibid., Sec. I, p. 27.—Lenin

[36] Ibid., p. 41.—Lenin

[37] Ibid., p. 40, author’s italics.—Lenin

[38] Women’s Country, 39 and 8. “Will not these genuine peasants (newly-entered) exert a sobering influence, by the prosperous life they lead, upon the native population, who regard not the land but employment away from home as their main source of livelihood?” (p 40). “Incidentally,” remarks the author sadly, “we have already cited an example of the opposite influence.” Here is the example. Vologda folk bought land and lived “very prosperously.” “In reply to the question I put to one of them as to why, though well-off, he let his son go to St. Petersburg, he said: ‘It’s true we are not poor, but life is very dull here, and my son, seeing others go, wanted to get educated himself; at home too he was the one with knowledge’” (p. 25). Poor Narodniks! How can they help deploring the fact that even the example of well-to-do, land-purchasing muzhik farmer cannot “sober” the youth, who, in their desire to “get educated,” flee from the “allotment that secures them their livelihood”!—Lenin

[39] The Influence of Industries Employing Migratory Workersetc., 33, author’s italics.—Lenin

[40] Yuridichesky Vestnik, 1890, No. 9, 138.—Lenin

[41] Russkaya Mysl (not Russky Vestnik, but Russkaya Mysl),[45] 1887, No. 9, p. 163.—Lenin

[42] Residential Permitsetc., p. 7.—Lenin

[43] Russkoye Bogatstvo, 1896, No. 7, p. 18. So then, the “main” requirements are to be met by the allotment, and the rest apparently by “local employments” secured in the “countryside,” which “suffers from a shortage of capable and healthy labourers”!—Lenin

[44] Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, p. 622. [p. 562]

[45] In the 1890s Russkaya Mysl was a liberal publication and Russky Vestnik, a magazine expressing the reactionary view. [p. 580]

IV. The Formation of a Home Market for Labour-Power

To sum up the data given earlier on this problem we shall confine ourselves to the picture of the movement of workers over the territory of European Russia. Such a picture is supplied by the Department of Agriculture’s publication[1] based on statements by employers. The picture of the movement of workers will give a general idea of how the home market for labour-power is being formed; using the material of the publication mentioned, we have only tried to draw a distinction between the movement of agricultural and non-agricultural workers, although the map appended to the publication and illustrating the movement of the workers does not show this distinction.

The main movements of agricultural workers are the following: 1) From the central agricultural gubernias to the southern and eastern outer regions. 2) From the northern black-earth gubernias to the southern black-earth gubernias, from which, in turn, the workers go to the border regions (cf. Chapter III, § IX, pp. 237-238 and § X, pp. 242-243). 3) From the central agricultural gubernias to the industrial gubernias (cf. Chapter IV, § IV, pp. 270-271). 4) From the central and the south-western agricultural gubernias to the area of sugar-beet plantations (workers come in part to these places even from Galicia).

The main movements of non-agricultural workers are: 1) To the metropolitan cities and the large towns, chiefly from the non-agricultural gubernias, but to a considerable degree also from the agricultural gubernias. 2) To the industrial area, to the factories of Vladimir, Yaroslavl and other gubernias from the same localities. 3) To new centres of industry or to new branches of industry, to centres of non-factory industry, etc. These include the movement: a) to the beet-sugar refineries of the south-western gubernias; b) to the southern mining area; c) to jobs at the docks (Odessa, Rostov-on-Don, Riga, etc.); d) to the peat beds in Vladimir and other gubernias; e) to the mining and metallurgical area of the Urals; f) to the fisheries (Astrakhan, the Black Sea, Azov Sea, etc.); g) to shipbuilding, sailoring, lumbering and rafting jobs, etc.; h) to jobs on the railways, etc.

These are the main movements of the workers which, according to the evidence of employers, more or less materially affect the conditions of labour hire in the various localities. To appreciate more clearly the significance of these movements, let us compare them with the data on wages in the various districts from and to which the workers migrate. Confining ourselves to 28 gubernias in European Russia, we divide these into 6 groups according to the character of the movement of workers, and get the following data:[2]Average wages and extent of movement of workers.

This table clearly shows us the basis of the process that creates the home market for labour-power and, consequently, the home market for capitalism. Two main areas, those most developed capitalistically, attract vast numbers of workers: the area of agricultural capitalism (the southern and the eastern outer regions), and the area of industrial capitalism (the metropolitan and the industrial gubernias). Wages are lowest in the area of departure, the central agricultural gubernias, where capitalism, both in agriculture and in industry, is least developed[3]; in the influx areas, on the other hand, wages rise for all types of work, as does also the percentage of money wage to total wage, i.e., money economy gains ground at the expense of natural economy. The intermediary areas, those between the areas of the greatest influx (and of the highest wages) and the area of departure (and of the lowest wages) reveal the mutual replacement of workers to which reference was made above: workers leave in such numbers that in the places of departure a shortage of labour is created which attracts workers from the more “poorly paid” gubernias.

In essence, the two-sided process shown in our table—that of the diversion of population from agriculture to industry (industrialisation of the population) and of the development of commercial-industrial, capitalist agriculture (industrialisation of agriculture)—epitomises all that has been said above on the formation of a home market for capitalist society. The home market for capitalism is created by the parallel development of capitalism in agriculture and in industry,[4] by the formation of a class of rural and industrial employers, on the one hand, and of a class of rural and industrial wage-workers, on the other. The main streams of the movement of workers show the main forms of this process, but by far not all the forms; in what has gone before we have shown that the forms of this process differ in peasant and in landlord farming, in the different areas of commercial agriculture, in the different stages of the capitalist development of industry, etc.

How far this process is distorted and confused by the representatives of Narodnik economics is seen most clearly in § VI of Part 2 of Mr. N.–on’s Sketches, which bears the significant heading: “The Influence of the Redistribution of the Social Productive Forces upon the Economic Position of the Agricultural Population.” Here is how Mr. N.–on pictures this “redistribution”: “. . . In capitalist . . . society, every increase in the productive power of labour entails the ‘freeing’ of a corresponding number of workers, who are compelled to seek some other employment; and since this occurs in all branches of production, and this ‘freeing’ takes place over the whole of capitalist society, the only thing left open to them is to turn to the means of production of which they have not yet been deprived, namely, the land” (p. 126). . . . “Our peasants have not been deprived of the land, and that is why they turn their efforts towards it. When they lose their employment in the factory, or are obliged to abandon their subsidiary domestic occupations, they see no other course but to set about the increased exploitation of the soil. All Zemstvo statistical returns note the fact that the area under cultivation is growing. . .” (128).

As you see, Mr. N.–on knows of quite a special sort of capitalism that has never existed anywhere and that no economist could conceive of. Mr. N.–on’s capitalism does not divert the population from agriculture to industry, does not divide the agriculturists into opposite classes. Quite the contrary. Capitalism “frees” the workers from industry and there is nothing left for “them” to do but to turn to the land, for “our peasants have not been deprived of the land”!! At the bottom of this “theory,” which originally “redistributes” in poetic disorder all the processes of capitalist development, lie the ingenious tricks of all Narodniks which we have examined in detail previously: they lump together the peasant bourgeoisie and the rural proletariat; they ignore the growth of commercial farming; they concoct stories about “people’s” “handicraft industries” being isolated from “capitalist” “factory industry,” instead of analysing the consecutive forms and diverse manifestations of capitalism in industry.


[1] “Agricultural and statistical information based on material obtained from farmers. Vol. V. Hired Labour on private-landowner farms and the movement of workers, according to a statistical and economic survey of agriculture and industry in European Russia.” Compiled by S. A. Korolenko. Published by Department of Agriculture and Rural Industries, St. Petersburg, 1892.—Lenin

[2] The other gubernias are omitted in order not to complicate our exposition with data that contribute nothing new to the subject under examination; furthermore, the other gubernias are either untouched by the main, mass, movements of workers (Urals, the North) or have their specific ethnographical, administrative and juridical features (the Baltic gubernias, the gubernias in the Jewish Pale of Settlement, the Byelorussian gubernias, etc.). Data from the publication cited above. Wage figures are the average for the gubernias in the respective groups; the day labourer’s summer wage is the average for three seasons: sowing, haymaking and harvesting. The areas (1 to 6) include the following gubernias: 1) Taurida, Bessarabia and Don; 2) Kherson, Ekaterinoslav, Samara, Saratov, Orenburg; 3) Simbirsk, Voronezh, Kharkov; 4) Kazan, Penza, Tambov, Ryazan, Tula, Orel, Kursk; 5) Pskov, Novgorod, Kaluga, Kostroma, Tver, Nizhni-Novgorod; 6) St. Petersburg, Moscow, Yaroslavl, Vladimir.—Lenin

[3] Thus, the peasants flee in mass from the localities where patriarchal economic relationships are most prevalent, where labour-service and primitive forms of industry are preserved to the greatest extent, to localities where the “pillars” are completely decayed. They flee from “people’s production” and pay no heed to the chorus of voices from “society” following in their wake. In this chorus two voices can be clearly distinguished: “They have little attachment!” comes the menacing bellow of the Black-Hundred Sobakevich.[5] “They have insufficient allotment land!” is the polite correction of the Cadet Manilov.—Lenin

[4] Theoretical economics established this simple truth long ago. To say nothing of Marx, who pointed directly to the development of capitalism in agriculture as a process that creates a “home market for industrial capital” (Das Kapital, I 2, S. 776, Chapter 24, Sec. 5), [6] let us refer to Adam Smith. In chapter XI of Book I and Chapter IV of Book III of The Wealth of Nations, he pointed to the most characteristic features of the development of capitalist agriculture and noted the parallelism of this process with the process of the growth of the towns and the development of industry.—Lenin

[5] Sobakevich– a character in Gogol’s Dead Souls, the personification of the bullying, tight-fisted landlord. [p. 589]

[6] Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, Chapter 30 (p. 745). [p. 590]

V. The Significance of the Border Regions. Home or Foreign Market?

In Chapter I we pointed to the erroneous character of the theory that links the problem of a foreign market for capitalism with that of the realisation of the product (pp. 64-65 and foll.). Capitalism’s need of a foreign market is by no means to be explained by the impossibility of realising the product on the home market, but by the circumstance that capitalism is in no position to go on repeating the same processes of production on the former scale, under unchanging conditions (as was the case under pre-capitalist regimes), and that it inevitably leads to an unlimited growth of production which overflows the old, narrow limits of earlier economic units. With the unevenness of development inherent in capitalism, one branch of production outstrips the others and strives to transcend the bounds of the old field of economic relations. Let us take, for example, the textile industry at the beginning of the post-Reform period. Being fairly well developed capitalistically (manufacture beginning to pass into factory industry), it had gained complete command of the market of Central Russia. But the big factories, growing so rapidly, could no longer be satisfied with the former dimensions of the market; they began to seek a market further afield, among the new population colonising Novorossia, the south-east Transvolga region, North Caucasus, then Siberia, etc. The efforts of the big factories to reach out beyond the old markets are undoubted. Does it mean that the areas which served as these old markets could not, in general, consume a larger quantity of the products of the textile industry? Does it mean, for example, that the industrial and central agricultural gubernias cannot, in general, absorb a larger quantity of wares? No, it does not. We know that the differentiation of the peasantry, the growth of commercial agriculture and the increase in the industrial population have also expanded, and continue to expand, the home market of this old area. But this expansion of the home market is retarded by many factors (chief among them the retention of obsolete institutions which hinder the development of agricultural capitalism); and the factory owners will not, of course, wait until the capitalist development of other branches of the national economy catches up with that of the textile industry. The mill owners need a market at once, and if the backwardness of other branches of the national economy restricts the market in the old area, they will seek for a market in another area, or in other countries, or in the colonies of the old country.

What is a colony in the politico-economic sense? It was stated above that, according to Marx, the main features of this concept are the following: 1) the existence of unoccupied, free lands, easily accessible to settlers; 2) the existence of an established world division of labour, of a world market, thanks to which the colonies can specialise in the mass production of agricultural produce, receiving in exchange finished industrial goods “which they would have to produce themselves under other circumstances” (see above, p. 258, footnote, Chapter IV, § II). Reference has been made elsewhere to the fact that the southern and the eastern border regions of European Russia, which have been settled in the post-Reform period, bear the distinctive features mentioned and constitute, in the economic sense, colonies of Central European Russia.[1] The term colony is still more applicable to the other outer regions, for example, the Caucasus. Its economic “conquest” by Russia took place much later than the political conquest; and to this day this economic conquest has not been completed to the full. In the post-Reform period there has been, on the one hand, an intensive colonisation of the Caucasus,[2] an extensive ploughing up of the land (particularly in the North Caucasus) by colonists producing wheat, tobacco, etc., for sale, and attracting masses of rural wage-workers from Russia. On the other hand, native age-old “handicraft” industries, which are declining due to the competition of wares from Moscow, are being eliminated. There has been a decline in the ancient gunsmith’s craft due to the competition of imported Tula and Belgian wares, a decline in handicraft iron-work due to the competition of the imported Russian products, as well as in the handicraft processing of copper, gold and silver, clay, fats and soda, leather, etc.[3] These products are turned out more cheaply in Russian factories, which supply the Caucasus with their wares. There has been a decline in the making of drinking-horns because of the decay of the feudal system in Georgia and of the steady disappearance of her memorable feasts; there has been a decline in the headgear industry due to the replacement of Asiatic dress by European; there has been a decline in the production of wine-skins and pitchers for local wine, which for the first time is now being sold (giving rise to the barrel-making trade) and has in turn captured the Russian market. Russian capitalism has thus been drawing the Caucasus into the sphere of world commodity circulation, obliterating its local peculiarities— the remnants of ancient patriarchal isolation—and providing itself with a market for its factories. A country thinly populated at the beginning of the post-Reform period, or populated by mountaineers living outside world economy and even outside history, has been turning into a land of oil industrialists, wine merchants, big wheat and tobacco growers, and Mr. Coupon[6] has been ruthlessly divesting the proud mountaineer of his picturesque national costume and dressing him in the livery of a European flunkey (Gleb Uspensky).[7] The process of rapid colonisation in the Caucasus and of the rapid growth of its agricultural population has been accompanied by a process (obscured by this growth) of the diversion of the population from agriculture to industry. The urban population of the Caucasus increased from 350,000 in 1863 to about 900,000 in 1897 (the total population increased between 1851 and 1897 by 95%). There is no need to add that the same thing has taken place and continues in both Central Asia and Siberia, etc.

Thus, the question naturally arises, where is the border line between the home and the foreign market? To take the political boundaries of the state would be too mechanical a solution—and would it be a solution? If Central Asia is the home market and Persia the foreign market, to which category do Khiva and Bokhara belong? If Siberia is the home market and China the foreign market, to which category does Manchuria belong? Such questions are not of great importance. What is important is that capitalism cannot exist and develop without constantly expanding the sphere of its domination, without colonising new countries and drawing old non-capitalist countries into the whirlpool of world economy. And this feature of capitalism has been and continues to be manifested with tremendous force in post-Reform Russia.

Hence, the process of the formation of a market for capitalism has two aspects, namely, the development of capitalism in depth, i.e., the further growth of capitalist agriculture and industry in the given, definite and enclosed territory—and the development of capitalism in breadth, i.e., the extension of the sphere of the capitalist domination to new territory. In accordance with the plan of the present work, we have confined ourselves almost exclusively to the first aspect of the process, and for this reason we consider it particular]y necessary to stress the point here that its other aspect is of exceptionally great importance. Anything like a complete study of the process of colonisation of the border regions and of the expansion of Russian territory, from the point of view of capitalist development, would require a special work. Suffice it to mention here that Russia is in a particularly favoured position as compared with other capitalist countries, due to the abundance of free land accessible for colonisation in her border regions.[4] To say nothing of Asiatic Russia we have also in European Russia border regions which, because of their exceeding remoteness and bad means of communication, are still very poorly connected economically with central Russia. Let us take, for instance, the “Far North” —Archangel Gubernia; the boundless stretches of territory and their natural resources are still exploited very slightly. One of the principal local products, timber, was until recently exported mainly to England. In this respect, therefore, that part of European Russia was a foreign market for Britain without being a home market for Russia. The Russian entrepreneurs naturally envied the British, and now, with the extension of the railway line to Archangel, they are jubilant at the prospect of “elevated moods and business activity in various branches of industry in the region.”[5]


[1] “. . . It was thanks exclusively to them, thanks to these forms of people’s production, and on the basis of them that the whole of South Russia was colonised and settled.” (Mr. N.–on, Sketches, 284). How wonderfully broad and comprehensive is the term: “forms of people’s production”! It covers whatever you like: patriarchal peasant farming, labour-service, primitive handicrafts, small commodity-production, and those typically capitalist relations within the peasant community that we saw above in the data on the Taurida and Samara gubernias (Chapter II, etc., etc.—Lenin

[2] Cf. articles by Mr. P. Semyonov in Vestnik Finansov, 1897, No. 21, and by V. Mikhailovsky in Novoye Slovo, June 1897.—Lenin

[3] See article by K. Khatisov in Vol. II of Reports and Investigations of Handicraft Industry, and by P. Ostryakov in Vol. V. of Transactions of the Handicraft Commission.—Lenin

[4] The circumstance indicated in the text has another aspect. The development of capitalism in depth in the old, long-inhabited territories is retarded because of the colonisation of the outer regions. The solution of the contradictions inherent in, and produced by, capitalism is temporarily postponed because of the fact that capitalism can easily develop in breadth. Thus, the simultaneous existence of the most advanced forms of industry and of semi-medieval forms of agriculture is undoubtedly a contradiction. If Russian capitalism had possessed no range for expansion beyond the bounds of the territory already occupied at the beginning of the post-Reform period, this contradiction between capitalist large-scale industry and the archaic institutions in rural life (the tying of the peasants to the land, etc.) would have had to lead quickly to the complete abolition of these institutions, to the complete clearing of the path for agricultural capitalism in Russia. But the possibility (for the mill owner) of seeking and finding a market in the outer regions in process of colonisation and the possibility (for the peasant) of moving to new territory, mitigates the acuteness of this contradiction and delays its solution. It goes without saying that such a deceleration of the growth of capitalism is equivalent to preparing its even greater extension in the near future.—Lenin

[5] Productive Forces, XX, 12.—Lenin

[6] MrCoupon—a term adopted in the 1880s and 1890s to indicate capital and capitalists. The expression “Mr. Coupon” was put in circulation by the writer Gleb Uspensky in his articles “Grave Sins.” [p. 594]

[7] See Gleb Uspensky’s article “In the Caucasus.” Works, Vol. II, 1918. [p. 594]

VI. The “Mission” of Capitalism

We still have, in conclusion, to sum up on the question which in literature has come to be known as that of the “mission” of capitalism, i.e., of its historical role in the economic development of Russia. Recognition of the progressiveness of this role is quite compatible (as we have tried to show in detail at every stage in our exposition of the facts) with the full recognition of the negative and dark sides of capitalism, with the full recognition of the profound and all-round social contradictions which are inevitably inherent in capitalism, and which reveal the historically transient character of this economic regime. It is the Narodniks—who exert every effort to show that an admission of the historically progressive nature of capitalism means an apology for capitalism—who are at fault in underrating (and some times in even ignoring) the most profound contradictions of Russian capitalism, by glossing over the differentiation of the peasantry, the capitalist character of the evolution of our agriculture, and the rise of a class of rural and industrial allotment-holding wage-labourers, by glossing over the complete predominance of the lowest and worst forms of capitalism in the celebrated “handicraft” industries.

The progressive historical role of capitalism may be summed up in two brief propositions: increase in the productive forces of social labour, and the socialisation of that labour. But both these facts manifest themselves in extremely diverse processes in different branches of the national economy.

The development of the productive forces of social labour is to be observed in full relief only in the epoch of large-scale machine industry. Until that highest stage of capitalism was reached, there still remained hand production and primitive technique, which developed quite spontaneously and exceedingly slowly. The post-Reform epoch differs radically in this respect from previous epochs in Russian history. The Russia of the wooden plough and the flail, of the water-mill and the hand-loom, began rapidly to be transformed into the Russia of the iron plough and the threshing machine, of the steam-mill and the power-loom. An equally thorough transformation of technique is seen in every branch of the national economy where capitalist production predominates. This process of transformation must, by the very nature of capitalism, take place in the midst of much that is uneven and disproportionate: periods of prosperity alternate with periods of crisis, the development of one industry leads to the decline of another, there is progress in one aspect of agriculture in one area and in another aspect in another area, the growth of trade and industry outstrips the growth of agriculture, etc. A large number of errors made by Narodnik writers spring from their efforts to prove that this disproportionate, spasmodic, feverish development is not development.[1]

Another feature of the development by capitalism of the social productive forces is that the growth of the means of production (productive consumption) outstrips by far the growth of personal consumption: we have indicated on more than one occasion how this is manifested in agriculture and in industry. This feature springs from the general laws of the realisation of the product in capitalist society, and fully conforms to the antagonistic nature of this society.[2]

The socialisation of labour by capitalism is manifested in the following processes. Firstly, the very growth of commodity-production destroys the scattered condition of small economic units that is characteristic of natural economy and draws together the small local markets into an enormous national (and then world) market. Production for oneself is transformed into production for the whole of society; and the greater the development of capitalism, the stronger becomes the contradiction between this collective character of production and the individual character of appropriation. Secondly, capitalism replaces the former scattered production by an unprecedented concentration both in agriculture and in industry. That is the most striking and outstanding, but not the only, manifestation of the feature of capitalism under review. Thirdly, capitalism eliminates the forms of personal dependence that constituted an inalienable component of preceding systems of economy. In Russia, the progressive character of capitalism in this respect is particularly marked, since the personal dependence of the producer existed in our country (and partly continues to exist to this day), not only in agriculture, but in manufacturing industry (“factories” employing serf labour), in the mining and metallurgical industries, in the fishing industry, etc.[3] Compared with the labour of the dependent or bonded peasant, the labour of the hired worker is progressive in all branches of the national economy. Fourthly, capitalism necessarily creates mobility of the population, something not required by previous systems of social economy and impossible under them on anything like a large scale. Fifthly, capitalism constantly reduces the proportion of the population engaged in agriculture (where the most backward forms of social and economic relationships always prevail), and increases the number of large industrial centres. Sixthly, capitalist society increases the population’s need for association, for organisation, and lends these organisations a character distinct from those of former times. While breaking down the narrow, local, social-estate associations of medieval society and creating fierce competition, capitalism at the same time splits the whole of society into large groups of persons occupying different positions in production, and gives a tremendous impetus to organisation within each such group.[4] Seventhly, all the above-mentioned changes effected in the old economic system by capitalism inevitably lead also to a change in the mentality of the population. The spasmodic character of economic development, the rapid transformation of the methods of production and the enormous concentration of production, the disappearance of all forms of personal dependence and patriarchalism in relationships, the mobility of the population, the influence of the big industrial centres, etc.—all this cannot but lead to a profound change in the very character of the producers, and we have had occasion to note the corresponding observations of Russian investigators.

Turning now to Narodnik economics, with whose representatives we have constantly had to polemise, we may sum up the causes of our differences with them as follows. First, we cannot but regard as absolutely wrong the Narodniks’ very conception of the process of capitalist development in Russia, and their notion of the system of economic relationships that preceded capitalism in Russia; and what is particularly important, from our point of view, is their ignoring of the capitalist contradictions in the structure of peasant economy (both agricultural and industrial). Furthermore, whether the development of capitalism in Russia is slow or rapid, depends entirely on what we compare this development with. If we compare the pre-capitalist epoch in Russia with the capitalist (and that is the comparison which is needed for arriving at a correct solution of the problem), the development of social economy under capitalism must be considered as extremely rapid. If, however, we compare the present rapidity of development with that which could be achieved with the general level of technique and culture as it is today, the present rate of development of capitalism in Russia really must be considered as slow. And it cannot but be slow, for in no single capitalist country has there been such an abundant survival of ancient institutions that are incompatible with capitalism, retard its development, and immeasurably worsen the condition of the producers, who “suffer not only from the development of capitalist production, but also from the incompleteness of that development.”[5] Finally, perhaps the profoundest cause of disagreement with the Narodniks is the difference in our fundamental views on social and economic processes. When studying the latter, the Narodnik usually draws conclusions that point to some moral; he does not regard the diverse groups of persons taking part in production as creators of various forms of life; he does not set out to present the sum-total of social and economic relationships as the result of the mutual relations between these groups, which have different interests and different historical roles. . . . If the writer of these lines has succeeded in providing some material for clarifying these problems, he may regard his labours as not having been fruitless.


[1] “Let us see what the further development of capitalism could bring even if we succeeded in sinking Britain to the bottom of the sea and in taking her place” (Mr. N.–on, Sketches, 210). The cotton industry of Britain and America, which meets 2/3 of the world’s demand, employs only a little over 600,000 people all told. “And it follows, that even if we got a considerable part of the world market… capitalism would still be unable to exploit the whole mass of labouring people which it is now continuously depriving of employment. What, indeed, are some 600,000 British and American workers compared with millions of peasants left for months on end without employment?” (211).

“History has gone on till now, but goes on no longer.” Till now every step in the development of capitalism in the textile industry has been accompanied by the differentiation of the peasantry, by the growth of commercial agriculture and agricultural capitalism, by the diversion of population from agriculture to industry, by “millions of peasants” turning to building, lumbering and all sorts of other non-agricultural work for hire, by the migration of masses of people to the outer regions and by the conversion of these regions into a market for capitalism. All this, however, has only gone on till now; nothing of the sort occurs any longer!—Lenin

[2] His ignoring of the significance of the means of production and his careless attitude to “statistics” have led to the following utterly untenable statement by Mr. N.–on: “. . . all (!) capitalist production in the sphere of manufacturing industry at most produces new values to the amount of not more than 400 to 500 million rubles” (Sketches, 328). Mr. N.–on bases this calculation on the returns of the three-per-cent tax and the extra profits tax, without stopping to think whether such returns can cover “all capitalist production in the sphere of manufacturing industry.” Moreover, he takes returns which (on his own admission) do not cover the mining and metallurgical industries, and yet he includes in “new values” only surplus-value and variable capital. Our theoretician has forgotten that, in those branches of industry which produce goods for personal consumption, constant capital also represents new value for society and is exchanged for the variable capital and surplus-value of those branches of industry which produce means of production (mining and metallurgical industries, building, lumbering, railway construction, etc.). Had Mr. N.–on not confused the number of “factory” workers with the total number of workers capitalistically employed in manufacturing industry, he would easily have perceived the errors in his calculations.—Lenin

[3] For example, in one of the principal centres of the Russian fishing industry, the Murmansk coast, the “age-old” and truly “time hallowed” form of economic relationships was the “pokrut,”[6] which was already fully established in the 17th century and continued almost without change until recent times. “The relations between the pokrutmen and their masters are not limited to the time spent at the fisheries: on the contrary, they embrace the whole life of the pokrutmen, who are permanently dependent economically on their masters” (Material on Artels in Russia, Vol. II, St. Petersburg, 1874, p. 33). Fortunately, in this branch of industry also, capitalism is apparently marked by a “contemptuous attitude to its own historical past.” “Monopoly . . . is giving way to . . . the capitalist organisation of the industry with hired labourers” (Productive Forces, V, pp. 2-4).—Lenin

[4] Cf Studies, p. 91, footnote 85, p. 198. (See present edition, Vol. 2, “A Characterisation of Economic Romanticism.” –Ed.)—Lenin

[6] Pokrut—the form of economic relations that existed among members of artels engaged in hunting sea animals or fishing in the north of Russia; the means of production in the artel belonged to an employer to whom the workers were in bondage. The employer usually received two-thirds of the catch, and the workers only one-third. The workers were compelled to sell part of their catch to the employer at a low price, payment being made in goods, which was very much to the disadvantage of the workers. [p. 599]

[5] Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 9. [p. 600]