Alliance of the Working Class and Peasantry

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Alliance of the Working Class and Peasantry


a form of class cooperation between the two toiling classes in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, the popular democratic revolution, and the socialist revolution, in the anti-imperialist and national liberation movements, and in the building of socialism and communism; an alliance that stems from the coincidence of the two classes’ fundamental interests. In the socialist countries, the state and social order rest firmly on the alliance of the working class and peasantry.

Marx and Engels were the first to give expression to the need for an alliance of the working class and peasantry in the struggle to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie. In their view, the working class could carry out its world-historical mission only if it allied itself with the nonproletarian toiling masses, especially the peasants, and only if it led them in the revolutionary liberation struggle (seeHEGEMONY OF THE PROLETARIAT). “The peasants find their natural ally and leader in the urban proletariat, whose task is the overthrow of the bourgeois order” (K. Marx, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 8, p. 211). If the peasantry supports the working class, the “proletarian revolution obtains that chorus without which its solo song becomes a swan song in all peasant countries” (Marx, ibid., p. 607 n).

Under the new historical conditions of the age of imperialism and proletarian revolutions, V. I. Lenin elaborated the doctrine of the alliance of the working class and peasantry, rendering it more concrete in conformity to the various stages of historical development in specific countries. He developed the strategy and tactics for the class alliances of the proletariat in bourgeois-democratic and socialist revolutions. During the period of struggle for the triumph of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia, the Bolshevik party proclaimed the slogan “Together with all peasants against the tsar and landlords.” Contrary to the Men-sheviks and Trotskyites, who considered all peasants reactionary, the Bolsheviks, taking their lead from Lenin, believed that the peasants had an interest in destroying large landownership and the vestiges of serfdom. During the October Revolution of 1917, the Communist Party, well aware of the heterogeneous class structure of the peasantry, now sought an alliance between the working class and poorest peasants, with the middle peasants to be kept neutral by their wavering between the working class and the bourgeoisie.

After the triumph of the October Revolution, Lenin saw the alliance of the working class and peasantry as a leading principle of the dictatorship of the proletariat. “This alliance,” he emphasized, “is the main strength and the bulwark of Soviet power; this alliance is a pledge that socialist transformation will be successful, victory over capital will be achieved, and exploitation in all its forms will be abolished” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 38, p. 237). In 1919 the Eighth Congress of the RCP(B), seeing the village social structure changed by the revolutionary transformations and the turn of the middle peasants toward Soviet power, proclaimed a new party line on the peasant question: the need to find a common ground with the middle peasant, yet not for a single moment abandoning the struggle against the kulak and all the while relying firmly on the poor peasant.

The Leninist plan for building socialism in the USSR comprised three fundamental tasks: industrialization, the transformation of small peasant farms into cooperatives, and cultural revolution. Industrialization swelled the ranks of the working class, shifted society’s center of gravity toward the working class, and thereby increased the working class’s influence over the peasantry. At the same time, industrialization created the material and technical preconditions for the transition from single-family peasant agriculture to large-scale agricultural production. With the collectivization of agriculture and the establishment of the kolkhoz system in the village, the peasantry entered a period of radical change: it became a socialist class. All aspects of village life underwent profound change. With the cultural revolution, the peasantry attained a higher general-educational level, and the rural population fundamentally changed its way of life. Socialist ideology and collectivism took a firm hold in the countryside (seeOPPOSITION BETWEEN CITY AND COUNTRYSIDE).

With socialism victorious, a political and economic alliance of classes socially diverse by nature grew into a close friendship between classes socially similar in nature. The Soviet people achieved moral and political unity on this basis.

The strength and significance of the alliance of the working class and peasantry made themselves felt during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, during the economic reconstruction of the lands devastated by the fascist German invaders, in the development of virgin and unused lands, and in the increase in agricultural production through the introduction of new technology and through the improvements in kolkhoz-cooperative property.

Under developed socialism, the alliance of the working class and peasantry rests firmly on the growing unity in the economic and political interests of the toilers of city and countryside and on the growing convergence of classes and social groups, processes that preserve the leading role of the working class. In this stage, the implementation of the CPSU’s agrarian policy of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s has greatly helped strengthen the alliance of the working class and peasantry; the leading theme of the CPSU agrarian policy is increasingly comprehensive mechanization, concentration, and specialization of agricultural production, expanded interfarm cooperation, and the establishment of agrarian-industrial complexes. Owing to the growing mechanization of agriculture, agricultural labor has been transformed, and industrial labor has increasingly been used in agriculture. Because the working class tends to have a numerically larger presence in the village and because workers and peasants now work side by side in integrated industrial-agricultural collectives, the two classes draw closer together, and conditions arise in which the working class can exert a greater influence on the peasantry. The gap between the living standard of the workers and that of the peasants is also narrowing. Of importance in this respect is the introduction of guaranteed cash payments in the kolkhozes and the extension of state pensions to kolkhoz workers. The working class passes on to the kolkhoz workers its experience with the scientific organization of labor, with enhanced labor discipline, and with organizing socialist emulation. Collectives of the industrial enterprises are of great help to the kolkhozes.

The cultural ties between city and countryside have grown stronger and more extensive. The working class, along with the intelligentsia, takes an active part in party work to bring communist education to the kolkhoz workers and to move education and cultural activities in the villages forward. The kolkhoz workers have achieved an educational level much closer to that of the working class. In 1975, 51.2 percent of the kolkhoz workers had secondary (complete or incomplete) education and higher education. In 1940 the kolkhozes employed 29,000 specialists with higher education or specialized secondary education; in 1973 they employed 482,000 such specialists.

“The CPSU proceeds from the fact that the further consolidation of the unbreakable alliance of the working class and the kolkhoz peasantry is of crucial political and socioeconomic importance for the building of communism in the USSR” (Programma KPSS, 1976, p. 77).

In other socialist countries the alliance of the working class and peasantry was forged in the struggle for liberation from fascism and domestic reaction. It grew even stronger as a result of the popular democratic and socialist revolutions and the subsequent social transformations, namely, the agrarian reforms, which led to the elimination of capitalist relations in agriculture, and the introduction of socialist cooperation, which was carried out with full regard for specific historical conditions in each country.

In the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America the problems involved in the alliance of the working class and peasantry stem from the country’s level of development and social structure. In many countries the peasantry makes up the overwhelming majority of the population and is still greatly influenced by communal, tribal-clan, or feudal relations, religion, and other vestiges of the past. Here, the working class is not fully developed, and a proletariat in the true sense of the word is only beginning to appear. Therefore, the working class is not the leading force in social and political life. The emergence of the alliance of the working class and peasantry is contingent on trends in social development, trends that are engendered by the program of whatever social forces are in power. Here, it is extremely important whether the country takes the socialist or the capitalist road to development; this choice determines the nature of the agrarian transformations and the paths of industrialization (seeNON-CAPITALIST PATH OF DEVELOPMENT).

In the developed capitalist countries, because of the scientific and technological revolution, both production and capital in agriculture have been concentrated to such an extent that the small-scale producer and many medium-sized producers have rapidly been squeezed out. The domination and control that state-monopoly capitalism has established over agriculture has evoked resistance primarily among the small-scale producers of agricultural commodities. At the same time, despite existing contradictions, a certain community of interests has emerged among small-scale, medium, and even some large-scale producers of agricultural commodities in the struggle against the advance of the monopolies; for example, producers have a common interest in lowering taxes, in reducing the prices of industrial goods, and in the maintenance of a certain price level for agricultural production.

One means of defense for peasants and farmers against the monopolies is cooperation, which brings not only the economic advantages stemming from unity among the peasants but also contributes to the forging of links with the organizations of the working class. All such processes are prerequisites to the emergence of a strong alliance of the working class and peasantry in the developed capitalist countries and to the expansion of the working class’s influence over the nonproletarian strata in the countryside. In these countries the Communist parties take as their starting point the need for closer cooperation between the proletarian and nonproletarian strata of toilers in the struggle for fundamental democratic and antimonopolistic change.

Under socialism, the alliance of the working class and peasantry is not intended to perpetuate the existence of these classes and the intelligentsia as separate social groups; rather, it is intended gradually to eliminate the differences between them and eventually to bring them to full merger. When the socioeconomic differences between the working class and peasantry disappear, when city and countryside overcome their differences in culture and way of life, and when the social barriers between intellectual and manual workers are torn down, the alliance of the working class and peasantry will ascend to a new type of social alliance—the voluntary union of all working people under communism.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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