Socialization of the Land
Socialization of the Land
the transfer of land from private to public ownership.
The Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s), in their agrarian program of 1906, made the first demand for socialization of the land, by which they meant, first, the transfer of all land to bodies of self-government without compensation to previous owners and, second, equal distribution of the land among the peasant cultivators of the basis of labor contributed or consumption needs. The SR agrarian program, stemming from the idea of egalitarian land tenure, expressed the peasants’ desire to divide the landlords’ estates among themselves and thus objectively matched peasant sentiments during the bourgeois-democratic Revolution of 1905-07. The peasantry therefore gave its support to the SR program.
However, the SR program by no means transcended the scope of the bourgeois revolution, since it attempted to solve the agrarian problem without attempting to destroy the private ownership that lay at the roots of capitalism. It was criticized by V. I. Lenin and the Bolsheviks, who argued that it blurred the distinction between socialization and bourgeois nationalization and confused the socialist and democratic tasks of the revolution. They also argued that the establishment of private ownership of the land, with private ownership of the other means of production retained, in conditions of commercial production even on common land, would have led to the development of capitalist relations in agriculture and to increased class differentiation within the peasantry. Analyzing the revolutionary actions of the peasantry, Lenin pointed out that “the mass of small owner cultivators declared in favor of nationalization” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 16, p. 406). As long as capitalism persisted, the SR program could not be a part of the socialist agrarian revolution, but only a Utopian programmatic slogan. In fact, it was a crude deception of the peasantry. After the February Revolution of 1917, the SR’s renounced their own program of socialization of the land, defended large landownership, and entered the path of compromise with the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie.
In October 1917, aware that egalitarian land tenure was a very popular slogan among the peasantry, the Bolsheviks included the term “socialization of the land” in the Decree on Land, whose principal themes were developed and given concrete form in subsequent legislative acts of the Soviet state, especially in the Fundamental Law on Socialization of the Land of Jan. 27 (Feb. 9), 1918. The socialization of the land carried out in Russia virtually amounted to “nationalization of the land” (ibid., vol. 37, p. 326) and carrying to conclusion the goals of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. Land passed to the ownership of the Soviet state, becoming the property of the people. Under these conditions, socialization of the land was essentially an inherent part of the socialist revolution, one that created the preconditions for the subsequent socialist transformation of agriculture.
REFERENCESLenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Index Volume, part 1, p. 628.)
Lutskii, E. “Zakon o sotsializatsii zemli.” Voprosy istorii, 1948, no. 10.
Gusev, K. V., and G. V. Sharapov. “K voprosu ob otnoshenii bol’-shevikov k programme sotsializatsii zemli.” In the collection Iz istorii rabochego klassa i krest’ianstva SSSR. Moscow, 1959.