Decree on Land


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Decree on Land

 

one of the first decrees of the Soviet government, adopted by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies at two o’clock in the morning on Oct. 27 (Nov. 9), 1917. V. I. Lenin prepared the draft of the decree and presented it to the congress during his address on the land question. In writing the decree Lenin made use of the Mandate Compiled on the Basis of the 242 Mandates Submitted by Local Deputies at the First All-Russian Congress of Peasants Deputies in Petrograd in 1917. The section of the mandate entitled On Land was included in the decree (art. 4) in its entirety.

The decree abolished landlords’ proprietorship of land without any compensation and placed landlords’ crown, monastic, and church lands, with all their inventories and buildings, at the disposal of volost (small rural district) land committees and district soviets of peasants’ deputies. The volost land committees and district soviets were to take measures to ensure that strict order was maintained in the confiscation of landlords’ estates. The decree also established that ordinary peasants’ and cossacks’ land was not to be confiscated. The decree laid down new principles of landownership and land tenure. The right of private ownership of land was abolished; the sale, lease, and mortgage of land was prohibited; and all land was declared to be the property of the whole people, that is, it became the exclusive property of the state (meaning the nationalization of land). Land on which there were intensively cultivated farms, nurseries, or stud farms, as well as the entire inventory of confiscated lands, was turned over to the state or to the commune for its exclusive use. The right of land tenure was granted to all citizens on the condition that they cultivate it with their own labor, with their families, or in partnership but without employing hired labor. Land was to be cultivated on the basis of equal land tenure, and citizens could freely select the form of their land tenure, including the artel. Under the decree the peasants of Russia received 150 million desiatiny (163.5 million hectares) of land, free of payment. They were exempted from payments of 700 million gold rubles annually for the lease of land and were released from debts totaling 3 billion rubles owed on land previously obtained.

The fundamental provisions of the decree on land were developed and given concrete form in a number of legislative acts of the Soviet state, including the law On the Socialization of Land of 1918 and the Land Code of the RSFSR of 1922. The carrying out of the decree on land and other agrarian legislation of the October Socialist Revolution assured the Soviet government of the support of the laboring peasantry, abolished ownership of land by landlords and the landlord class, and created “an agrarian system which is the most flexible from the point of view of the transition to socialism” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 37, p. 326).

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Doklad o zemle 26 oktiabria(8 noiabria).” [Vtoroi Vserossiiskii s”ezd Sovetov rabochikh i soldatskikh deputatov 25-26 oktiabria (7-8 noiabria) 1917 g.] Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 35.
Leninskii dekret o zemle i sovremennost. Moscow, 1970.
Lutskii, E. A. “Leninskii dekret o zemle v sovetskoi istoricheskoi literature 1917-nachala 1920-kh godov.” In the collection Trudy Moskovskogo Gos. istoriko-arkhivnogo in-ta, vol. 26. Moscow, 1968.
Dekrety Sovetskoi vlasti, vol. 1. Moscow, 1957.

E. A. LUTSKII