The following article was sent to The Marxist-Leninist by the author, Butch S. Espere:
The Peasant Question and its Relation to the Leninist Theory of Revolution of Two-Stages
By Butch S. Espere
(Author’s Note: This article, a spin-off from notes made by the author for a discussion forum at the International People’s College, Helsingor, Denmark, aims to trace the line of development of Lenin’s theory on the agrarian and peasant question in Russia, especially on the matter of how he arrived at the idea of nationalization of land as a line in the agrarian programme of the Russian Revolution and how the question is at the core of his theory of 2-stage revolution.)
Line of development of Lenin’s theory on the agrarian and peasant question:
In 1895, Lenin wrote The Development of Capitalism in Russia. In this article, he advanced the social analysis that Russia was already a capitalist society, demolishing the Narodniki myth of a “unique Russian case”. This laid the theoretical basis for the call that the proletarian revolution could already be launched in Russia.
In 1898, Lenin wrote The Tasks of Russian Social Democrats, a polemics against the “Economists” ensconced in Rabocheyo Mysl. This article broached of the democratic tasks of the proletarian revolution, prefiguring his theory of the proletarian revolution of two stages.
When Lenin joined the editorial board of Iskra right after his release from Siberian prison, there were two things that engrossed his mind and to which he devoted his revolutionary energy. One was how to unite the scattered circles of Marxists (previously known as social democrats) around his idea of establishing a party that would act as the political centre of the working class movement. But it did not end there. Lenin’s idea of a party was that of a single whole, one that is united in a common programme, a common goal, and common strategy for reaching that goal.
At the time he was sketching his plan to realize the establishment of a party, the Marxists who were scattered in so many small circles inside and outside of Russia spoke in so many tongues, some of them championing ideas that, to Lenin’s sharp eyes, placed obstacles to the immediate launching of the Russian revolution. One strand which expressed this divergence of thought was on the issue: in the given alignment of class forces in Russia, with whom should the proletariat forge alliance in launching the Russian revolution?. The majority of Marxists in Russia, Plekhanov included, answered this question, “of course, with the bourgeoisie!”
Lenin believed otherwise. At this time, he was still to develop the strategy for the course and direction of the Russian revolution but it was already clear to him that such alliance did not lie with the bourgeoisie. He perceived early that given the conditions and character of Russian society, it could not have produced a bourgeoisie strong enough to lead even its own (bourgeois) revolution. He therefore cast the lot of the proletariat with the peasantry. This was his second concern when he was into drafting the programme of the party and it was to this that he turned his writings on the agrarian and peasant question.