Municipalization of Land

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Municipalization of Land


the transfer of land with either the right of ownership or the right of use to local organs of self-government (municipalities). The transfer may be made either with or without compensation. The Mensheviks called for the municipalization of land in their agrarian program during the bourgeois-democratic Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia. The program was based on a plan proposed by P. P. Maslov in 1903 and was supported by the Mensheviks, headed by G. V. Plekhanov. Under the program, peasants were to retain their small private holdings, and allotment land (nadel’naia zemlia) was to be transferred to them with full ownership. Land belonging to landlords was to be alienated (that is, municipalities could make redemption payments to landlords) and was to come under the control of municipalities (zemstvos). The zemstvos could not sell or mortgage land, and it was to be leased to the peasants for a fixed sum. The program provided for partial nationalization in the form of confiscation of land belonging to the church, monasteries, royal family, and imperial court. This land was to be owned by the democratic state.

The program for the municipalization of land, in contrast to Lenin’s agrarian program for the nationalization of land, was based on reform and thus on a revolution interrupted halfway. According to V. I. Lenin, the Menshevik program artificially constructed “something impossible from the purely economic point of view” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 16, p. 291) and was unworkable since it presupposed a peaceful resolution of the agrarian question with the help of “democratic self-government” under a reactionary central government. The program of municipalization of land did not link the resolution of the agrarian question to the revolutionary activity of the peasantry and to the overthrow of autocracy. Defending Bolshevism’s agrarian program, Lenin demonstrated the theoretical groundlessness of the municipalization program and its reactionary political and economic character. The program was adopted by the Fourth (Unification) Congress of the RSDLP in 1906 with a number of changes, such as the confiscation rather than alienation of the landlords’ land. The changes were incorporated into the program at the insistence of the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks voted against the program at the congress. The Mensheviks advocated the same program in 1917, but with basic modifications, for example, they refused to support the peasants’ demand for the immediate confiscation of landlords’ land.


Lenin, V. I. “Otvet na kritiku nashego proekta programmy.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 7.
Lenin, V. I. “Doklad ob Ob”edinitel’nom s”ezde RSDRP.” Ibid., vol. 13.
Lenin, V. I. “Agrarnaia programma sotsial demokratii v pervoi russkoi revoliutsii 1905–1907 godov.” Ibid., vol. 16.
Maslov, P. P. Ob agrarnoi programme Iksa: Otvet na kritiku nashego proekta programmy N. Lenina. Geneva, 1903.
Maslov, P. P. Kritika agrarnykh programm i proekt programmy. Moscow, 1905.
Chetvertyi (Ob”edinitel’nyi) s”ezd RSDRP: Protokoly. Moscow, 1959.
Trapeznikov, S. P. Agrarnyi vopros i leninskie agrarnye programmy v trekh russkikh revoliutsiiakh. Moscow, 1963.


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