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THE LAND POLICY OF SOVIET RUSSIA
The solution of the land question is of primary
importance to Soviet Russia. Before the Revolution
tbe land privileges then existing, embodied in the
Tast landed possessions of the nobility, appanage,
monasteries, and churches, dominated economically
tre rural population. The masses of the peasants,
who make up a large majority of the Russian nation
and without whose support no Russian government
can survive, demanded the expropriation of the great
landed property and the increase of their land allot
ments. On the other hand, the socialist regime re
quired for its success the gradual socialization of
agriculture a process quite contrary to the private
husbandry of the peasants. The soviet regime, there
fore, had before it three main tasks in the land
question: to abolish entirely the land privileges' of th?
great landowners, to satisfy tLe individualistic de
mands of the peifcnnts, and to start and carry on the
socialization of agriculture.
Accordingly, the earlies soviet land decree, of
November 7, 3917, and of January 27, 1918, ordered
the expiopriation of the estates of the nobility, ap
panage monasteries, and churches, thus establishing
in 1913 a National Land Reserve of 13,800,000 des
siatine?, of which 12,800,000 were distributed for the
private use of the peasants though the ownership
remained with the state. The prerevolutionary laud
;:)lotm?nis of the peasants remained in their possesion.
The Soviet Government had left at its disposal 3,000,
000 dessiatines, mainly the large modern holdings of
lie former landlords, the estates utilized for technical
agricultural enterprises, and the lands with mineral
After this first stage oi the agrarian revolution
the Soviet Government in the first half of 391S made
the first attempts at agricultural socialization. From
the very beginning this work fell in two main divi
sions: tho organisation of soviet estates and the pro
motion of agricultural communes and of other col
lective agricultural enterprises not under state control.
In August, 1918, the Peoples Commissariat of Agri
cu'ture published some principles and by-laws on the
organization of communes, and on November 2, of the
same year the Government by a decree created a fund
if one billion rubles for loans to collective agri
In 1918 this work was still in a state of con
fusion. The unique policy of socialist land organization
W3s established early in 1919 by several important
land decrees, of which the fundamental one is the land
la.v promulgated on February 14, 1919. This law de
clares once more that all land is the property of the
state, administered by the Peoples commissariat of
Agriculture, provincial and county land departments,
and other government bodies. The peasants' land
remains in their use, all the undistributed land of
the land reserve is excluded from private vise and
placed at the disposal of the state. The soviet estates
are operated by the state, producing exclusively for
its needs and employing only state laborers, preferably
organized workers from the cities. The administrative
and teehr.ieal affairs of each estate are conducted by
a specialist or a board appointed by the government
authorities, a labor committee having the right of
controlling the economic and sanitary life of the
The estates arc supposed to be scientifically
arranged model sgrnciltural enterprises of the highest
possible productivity; undertaking such agricnlturnl
and industrial activities ns dairies, stock-farms, vine
yards, wine presses, tea, tobacco, and beet plantations;
and equipped with experimental fields, agricultural
schools and exhibitions, libraries and mi.seums. The
purpose of the scheme is to make the soviet estates
rerve as large agricultural centers for the benefit
r.nd instruction of the peasants.
The agricultural communes arc collective enter
prises voluntarily organized by a group of producers
from their individual land allotments and the equip
ments nf ihoir households, or from lands and inven
tories placed at their disposal by the soviet authori
ties; the communes are operated primarily for the
iif'ls of their paiticipants on the basis of an equal
'collective application of their labor and communal
consumption of the products.
Collective cultivation of land means, in the
law, collective tillage, manuring, sowing, and harvest
ing of lands by p. whole village community or a
part of its members who for that purpose combine
in partnerships, sharing in the collective work with
their own labor, inventories, and working animals,
or with an inventory owned solely by the partnership.
Village lands not allotted to individual households
nrc marked out for collective cultivation as well as
private plots whose holders are not able to till thorn
:.nd lands assigned for that purpose by the soviet
authorities from the land reserve.
Both the communes and the partnerships of col
lective cultivation are to be managed by committers
elected by the group however, they have to submit
themselves to certain definite plans of work pre-
By WILLIAM .V. D AMBIT
scribed by the land depart ments, in order that a
proper use of the means of production granted them
by the Government may be insured.
From the annual yield of the communes or of the
partnerships their own collec live needs are first satis
fied, and in the case of tl e partnerships a certain
amount is distributed for tme individual use of the
partners. The surplus must Be delivered to the soviet
fond-suply authorites in exchange for money loans
and other things received fyoin the Government for
the operation of the enterprises, or in payment of
taxes and other public duties. The Peoples Commis
sariat of Agriculture is urged by the same law to
provide for the communes and in general for the
collective agricultural association money loans, seeds,
inventories, agronomic aid, and every possible as
sistance. A supplementary soviet decree of February 23,
1919, makes definite regulations regarding the award
of the loans from the billion ruble fund mentioned
above. The administration of the fund is to be in tho
hands of a special central committee under the
authority of the Commissariat of Agriculture, and of
local committees with the land departments. The
loans are awarded in money, agricultural implements,
artificial manure, and other supplies, and are repay
able in products without any accrued interest charges,
except in cases when for a delay in the repay
ment a fine of one per cent a month is charged. The
receivers of the loans must obey in the operation of
their enterprises definite rules worked out by the land
departments and intended as a guaranty of a produc
tive application of tho aid received.
The soviet authorities and economists ascribe
great importance to each form of collective agricul
ture. The soviet estates are conceived as the basis
of a complete socialization of agriculture on a national
scale. The communes are also supposed in the course
of time to become nationalized enterprises; while the
collective cultivation of land is regarded as a means
of training the peasents in agricultural collectivism
and of paving the way for ultimate combination in
communes. In this conception both the communes and
the partnerships for collective cultivation constitute
only temporary, transitory ccoonmic organizations
leading finally to the complete nationalization of
It was inevitable that the efforts of the Soviet
Government to socialize agriculture together with the
nationalization of education should have led to the
nationalization of agronomic instruction and of the
labor of agricultural specialists, whose knowledge was
gTeatly needed by the soviet estates and other col
lective agricultural enterprises. The agricultural edu
cational institutions were already nationalized in 1918
and were free to all. By a decree of February 12,
1919, the agricultural experiment stations were taken
over by the state. On January 30, 1919, the Soviet
Government ordered a state-wide registration of all
kinds of agricultural specialists and on March 20 of
the same year called them from twelve soviet pro
"inces of tho state.
It iR important to note that the Soviet Govern
ment in its efforts to collectivize the private enter
prises of the peasants has not adopted or employed
compulsory methods. The first agricultural communes,
in 1918, were started quite voluntarily by groups of
1he poorest peasants to help themselves by coopera
tion to survive the economic crisis and the scarcity
of agricultural implements. Likewise the fundamental
land law outlined here conceives the communes and
agricultural partnerships as voluntary organizations.
There are other ennspicious evidences to the same
effect. Kuraev, a prominent member of the Commis
sariat of Agriculture, at a government corference on
socialist land organization in March, 1919, asserts:
'We must inf'ueice the peasants by example, convic
tion; but in tho work of the collectivization of agri
culture by no means resort to force." And Lenin,
tho head of the Soviet Government, at the eighth
congress of the Communist Party of Russia, made the
following statements: "There is no greater stupidity
than the mere thought of compulsion in the field of
the economic relatiens of the middio peasants We
must convince the peasants, and convince them by
example. It is necessary, first of all, to prove that
such a collectivization is better, that it is profitable."
To the same effect the congress demanded in a
comprehensive agrarian resolution a mild policy in
collecting taxes from the poorer peasants; a system
artificial msmire, improved breeds of cattle; the
of distributing to them agricultural machinery, seeds,
establishment of a rural credit system; the promo
lion of home industries; and a number of other
conomic measures. This resolution embodies the real
soviet policy in this question, as the Communist
Party has been the determining political factor in the
work of the Soviet Government.
This conciliatory attitude is due mainly to two
circumstances. First, in matters of agricultural social
ization the application of any compulsion to the
peasants tho majority of the people would be in
effective and ridiculous. Second, the soviet authorities
hold to t'e view that collective agriculture is, in
respect of efficiency and productivity, superior to the
small individual agricultural homesteads of the peas
ants and that the practical demonstration of the
Superiority of the soviet estates and communes before
the eyes of the peasants will stimulate them to
combine gradually in partnerships of collective cul
tivation of land.
In pursuance of the principles and methods out
lined in the foregoing, the Soviet Government during
1P19 has organized many new soviet estates and
promoted the organization of agricultural communes.
The cultivated territory of the estates, numbering
2,324, comprised a little short of 1,000,000 dessiatines,
of which the whole annual produce, estimated in
money amounted to 843,000,000 rulbes; it is intended
to increase chis territory in 1920 to 2,000,000 des
siatines. Some inference as to the growth of tho
communes may be drawn from the respective data
available for the provinces of Petrograd, Novgorod,
Vitebsk, Mohilev, Tula, Kaluga and Orel, where in the
widdle of 1919 there were in existence 1,360 communes
with a land area of 179,000 deesiatines.
In view of the vast agricultural area of Soviet
Russia, these results, no doubt, are not extensive. Yet
this comparatively slow process by no means indicates
a failure of the methods employed. The war created
some extremely unfavorable conditions which tem
porarily have handicapped a more rapid socialization
of Russian agriculture. The material resources of
the Soviet Republic had to be devoted to the prosecu
tion of the war forced upon the country. On that
account, and on account of the blockade, the worn
out agricultural implements, particularly agricultural
machinery, could not be repaired in sufficient quan
tity or replaced by new ones. The live stock was
largely reduced in number for the needs of the war.
Hundreds of thousands of the most skilled laborers
were withdrawn from agriculture to serve in tho
army. Under such conditions the Soviet Government
was able to realize only to a very limited extent
its plans for the socialization of agriculture, since
the essential prerequisite for an efficient operation
of the soviet estates and agricultural communes is
a plentiful supply of labor and of live stock, and the
possibility of applying modern technical methods.
The end of the war and the resumption of normal
commercial relations between Russia and the outside
world, removing most of those handicaps, will pre
sumably enable the Soviet Government to proceed
with tho socialization of agriculture on a larger scale.
Hoyne Seeing Red.
(Continued from 1st page.)
"larence Darrow, Wm. Cunnea and
Wm. Forrest, noted constitution.!
Seasons aplenty for dismisal of
A great variety of reasons are given
by the veniremen why they would noi
make fair jurymen in these cases
While many admit prejudice against
the clefendents about one fourth of
those ao far examined state frankly
their sympathy with the defendents.
One prosjective juryman, a non-union
carpenter in employ of the Standard
Oil Co., was promptly discarded by
tne dctense waen ne stated tnat r.e
was a Catholic and that it was against
his religion to give a socialist a fair
trial. Class lines were drawn in two
eases. One gave as his reasons why he
could not serve as an unprejudiced
juryman, because he was an employer
of labor. A workingman frankly told
the prosecution that he would not con
vict the defendants no matter what
evidence the prosecution brought
against them as a matter of principle.
The prosecution takes particular pains
te wo that no striking switchmen or
railroaders get on the jury. One switch
man examined stated that he had been
on the job for 30 years and denied he
was on trikc when challenged by the
prosecution, stating that he was "tak
ing a vacation."
Radicals claim that the extreme per
secution carried on against radicals
by the capitalist press for the past
six months is responsible for the dif
ficulty in securing a jury in these
oases. In the meantime, the defendants
amuse themselves by watching the
play of social forces in tho selection
of the jury that will have in its
kands the first test of the Illinois
state criminal syndicalism law and the
biggest legal case of the communists
of the United States.
A missionary from the United Stat
es had spent many years among the
heathen natives of East India. He had
christianized many of the natives. One
ef the great western virtues he was
in the habit of teaching and empha
sizing consisted of the statement that
the people of his native country did
not worship idols. He pointed out that
his countrymen were a great people
with a great nation. Thnt they were
treat because of their Christianity and
tbe absence of idols worship;
One of the native children he had
taught from infancy grew up into a
bright young man of twenty who was
well advanced in his prepare' ion for
the ministry. He was also a student
of English and other European lang
uages. Tbe aged missionary was very
proud of his pupil and desired very
much to have him sec America and its
When tho young native finally
accompanied the missionary on a trip
to New York the old man possossod
a great passion to show bis pupil the
""at sights of the western world.
When the ship they wero on came in
sight of the land of America the mis
sionary begai to explain to tho in-
The Two Barbers
When the ship neared the greit
st: tue the young native asked:
"What did yon say that statuo
"That's the Statne of Liberty. It
holds the torch for all who seeK to
enter tho land of liberty. 'Libertv
enlightening the world' ", explained
"I am puzzled,'' observed the
young native of India. "Did tho
people of your country ncecpt that
statuo and believe i itf"
"Yes, they are very p.oud of that
statue, but why are you puzzled f"
rejoined tbe missionary.
"I can understand that your pooplo
love liberty aa 1 also do, but I alwavs
thought that your people did cot
worship idols contributed."
At lust reports the idol is still
worshiped tho the liberty has long
cine, deported. Ed.
THE BRASS CHECK
A story of the control of American journalism
and tho newspapers by the capitalist class.
By Upton Sinclair.
Address The Toiler.
The Black Sheep.
(Continued from pago 2nd)
he that in a ehoico between soul and
sot, I had chosen tho soul." Then
after a momonts thought sho added
"Mother, I only saw thnt boy twice,
both times under unfavorable circum
stances, and neither time, did he speak
of himself, nor did he berato others.
He always spoke of tho great problems
of life; of those deeper things of
which I love to dream. But of which
you and daddy never soem to think."
Sho drew the notes Jack had written
from somewhere about her person and
road their contents to tho mothor.
"What did I toll yon. Just a namo
Ions, homeless hobo living liko n beast
in tho woods," persisted tho mother
"Foxes have holes, and thn birds of
the henvens have nestr hut tho son of
man has no whero U v his head,"
ten quoted with a whimsical smile.
"If Christ came to Anamoosc you
would call him a tramp and if I as
sociated with him your friends would
call me a Magdalene. But mother dear
rlon t worry, I have my life to live;
I hnvc my work to do. I hope I will
bear from that boy again Just to
think of him makes me feel stronger.
It la good to know there is some one
who has a purpose in life and who can
inspire a purpose in me."
(Continued next weak)
NO "MEXICAN 80 VIET' ' YET--OBREOON
AN OTHER KEREN
SKY. (Continued from page 2nd)
Iv to his popularity was duo moro
largely to ho publio desire to show
resentment against political dictation,
especially Uttatjon suppose"! to proceed
from the Unitod states. Tho plot to
buy the election for Bcntlln. pruviij a
fizzle, and the popular outburst, get
ting beyond all possibility of control,
was allowed to run its course. Then
Amcricnn Big Ilusinoss set about it to
make friends with tho mai who was
swept into power on this wavo of
wrath. Evidently it is going to sur.cood.
..American capitalism may not know
it, but by subsidizing tbo now revolu
tionary gOTernment and diverting the
natural fruits of the revolution away
from the Mexican people, it is kindling
the flames of another us rising not
many ycari ehnce.
And Mexico's next revolution will
be a Eolchevist Revolution!
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