All-Russian Peasant Union

All-Russian Peasant Union

 

mass democratic revolutionary political organization that was formed in 1905 during the revolutionary upsurge. It became “the embryo of a distinct peasant party” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 17, p. 385).

The founding congress of the All-Russian Peasant Union met in Moscow from July 31 to Aug. 1 (Aug. 13–14), 1905 and determined the structure of the union and elected a central committee of five intellectuals and three peasants. It also elected a Central Bureau for Assistance made up of intelligentsia. The active participation of the narodnik (Populist), petit bourgeois intelligentsia in the leadership of the All-Russian Peasant Union increased the tendency toward liberal vacillation characteristic of the peasantry. However, the main figure in the All-Russian Peasant Union was not the Populist, petit bourgeois intellectual; rather, it was the class-conscious peasant, the future Trudovik (member of the Workers group of deputies in the Duma; ibid., vol. 12, pp. 334–35). Although data are incomplete, it appears that during the period from October to December 1905 there were 470 volost (small rural district) and village branches of the All-Russian Peasant Union in European Russia, with up to 200,000 members. Branches were also founded in Siberia and the Far East.

The program resolutions adopted by the founding congress and by the delegates’ conference (November 1905) called for the nationalization of all land: private ownership of land would be abolished, large landholdings would be nationalized without compensation, and owners of small landholdings would receive partial compensation. Elected peasant committees would distribute the land to those “who would work it with the labor of their own families and without hired labor.” Final resolution of the land question was left to the constituent assembly.

The call for a constituent assembly elected by universal suffrage was the main element in the political platform of the All-Russian Peasant Union. However, the union skirted the question of the fate of the monarchy and declined to adopt the idea of a democratic republic as proposed by a representative of the RSDLP. Despite these and other liberal and monarchist vacillations of the union, Lenin considered it to be an organization that was “unquestionably revolutionary at bottom”(ibid., p. 334). The All-Russian Peasant Union adopted revolutionary resolutions on boycotting the State Duma, on the leaders of the zemstvos (district and provincial assemblies), on the democratic reorganization of the courts and local government, on the abolition of a permanent army and its replacement by a people’s militia, and on the introduction of a free compulsory five-year education. In November 1905 the All-Russian Peasant Union demanded that the government issue a law on elections to the Constituent Assembly and that elections be held no later than February 1906. The union also demanded that the government abolish the exceptional laws, grant amnesty to the participants in peasant disturbances, and stop the trials by courts-martial of participants in the Kronstadt mutiny.

Cooperation between the All-Russian Peasant Union and the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies was one of the manifestations of the alliance between the working class and the peasantry during the revolution. Toward the end of 1905, several oblast, ten province, and 30 district congresses of the All-Russian Peasant Union were held. Some of these urged armed seizure of the landlords’ land. In areas of mass peasant uprisings like the Ukraine, the Volga, and the center of Russia, the local organizations of the union carried out the functions of revolutionary committees. Later the activity of the union was concentrated around the Trudovik group in the State Duma. The committees of the All-Russian Peasant Union supported the group by instructions to the deputies and by agitation among the peasants.

After the suppression of the revolution in 1907, branches of the All-Russian Peasant Union disintegrated. The union resumed its activities after the February bourgeois democratic revolution of 1917. As the bourgeois democratic revolution turned into a socialist revolution, the All-Russian Peasant Union gradually lost its mass support among the peasantry. This was due to its policy of defending Russia against Germany by collaborating with the bourgeois government, its trust in the Provisional Government, and its refusal to support the seizures of landlords’ land by peasants—policies that were carried out by the leadership of the committee of the union. A split developed in the All-Russian Peasant Union at the congress held in Moscow from July 31 to August 6 (August 13–19). The organ of the All-Russian Peasant Union was the newspaper Golos krest’ianskogo soiuza, which was published from April to October 1917. After the October Socialist Revolution, the All-Russian Peasant Union ceased to exist.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Proletariat i krest’ianstvo.” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 12.
Lenin, V. I. “Pobeda kadetov i zadachi rabochei partii.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “TseP bor’by proletariata v nashei revoliutsii.” Ibid.
Protokol Uchreditel’nogo s”ezda Vserossiiskogo Krest’ianskogo soiuza. St. Petersburg, 1905.
Protokoly Delegatskogo soveshchaniia Vserossiiskogo Krest’ianskogo soiuza 6–10 noiabria 1905 g. v Moskve. [Moscow, 1906.]
Shestakov, A. V. “Vserossiiskii Krest’ianskii soiuz.” Istorik-marksist, 1927, vol. 5.
Kiriukhina, E. I. “Vserossiiskii Krest’ianskii soiuz v 1905 g.” In the collection Istoricheskie zapiski, vol. 50. Moscow, 1955.

M. S. SIMONOVA

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