The Russian Peasant Community in the Agrarian Revolution, 1917–18

  • Orlando Figes

Abstract

The agrarian revolution of 1917–18 represents one of the most important chapters in the history of the Russian peasant commune. In the short interlude between the fall of Tsarism and the reconstruction of a Bolshevik state regime, the land commune (pozemel’naia obshchina) and the village gathering (mirskii skhod, sel’skii skhod) acted as autonomous organs of social and political transformation in the Russian countryside. The land commune was the institutional leader of the peasant movement against gentry and private land tenure. It directed the subsequent repartitions of the land, according to its own traditional smallholding forms and ideology. The village gathering was activated and democratised in 1917. It broadened its sphere of responsibilities and substituted democratic committees or councils (soviets) for the zemstvo organs of power. The peasant soviet emerged as the highest authority in the countryside after the destruction of the rural state structure, yet, in the words of Emma Goldman, it was simply ‘the old Russian mir in an advanced and more revolutionary form’.1

Keywords

Butyl Stake Nogo Alatyr 

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NOTES AND REFERENCES

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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London 1990

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  • Orlando Figes

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