The expectations of the peasants in 1917 could be summed up in one word — land. Those who had some wanted more, those who had none hoped to acquire some. By 1917 about 40 per cent could no longer make a living out of the land, another 40 could make ends meet, except in a bad year, 20 were relatively well off, a few at the top very well off. These figures correspond to the Bolshevik categories of landless labourer/poor, middle, and rich peasant (batrak/ bednyak, serednyak and kulak). In 1917, the Hulyai Pole peasants, at Makhno’s prompting, had been among the first to take the initiative in seizing landlord land. The militant mood of the majority (remembering that Nestor himself was of poor peasant stock) meant that most of the land was distributed direct to the poor peasants, or used to set up communes. Every peasant, including the kulak and landlord, was entitled to as much land as he and his family could cultivate without the use of hired labour.
KeywordsPoor Peasant Peasant Movement Militant Mood German Invasion Mutual Caution
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