Dissertation > History, geography > European History > Eastern and Central Europe > Russia and the Soviet Union > Modern history (1861 to 1917 )

A Research of Russian Land Reform in the Early 20th Century

Author ZhangFuShun
Tutor ZhangGuangXiang
School Jilin University
Course World History
Keywords Land reform The beginning of the century Land use planning The issue of farmers Village Community Russia Land Bank Decree Land issues Individual private
CLC K512.4
Type PhD thesis
Year 2008
Downloads 324
Quotes 2
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Russian government carried out the land reform in the early 20th century, the essence of this reform was which reformed Russian old land system, which reformed old relationships between the peasants and land. The purpose of studying this land reform is as follows:First, I wish to make clear developmental process in the land relationships of Russian village after the Emancipation Reform of 1861, to clarify the major content of Russian peasants’land problem. After the Emancipation Reform of 1861, notable changes had taken place in hierarchical structure of Russian lands, monopoly position of aristocrats holding their land had been weakened gradually; the peasants possessed and used more and more land. But, combing process of the peasants and land was hard and slow. The crux of peasants’land problem was that the system of the rural community holding and using allotment land seriously dampened peasants’ enthusiasm to produce, and greatly hindered the development of social productivity. If this problem was thoroughly solved, Russia must continue to press forward alone the road that 1861 serfdom reform chose, the autonomy of possession and utilization of peasants’land must be further extended, the peasants must be allowed to drop out of rural community freely, the system of private ownership of allotment land must be carried out.Second, I wish to discuss a few particular reasons that Russian government carried out the land reform in the early 20th century. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the problem of Russian peasants and land was especially serious: a lot of questions appeared, such as relatively inadequate peasants’land, poor and weak in the middle region, and the riot of the peasants. As far as how to carry out the land reform and adjust the policies of the peasants and land are concerned, the government existed big differences in some plans. After Sergei Yulevich Witte had been installed in Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, he determined the major direction of the land reform.Thirdly, I wish to analyze the content of the decrees of the land reform, examine formulation, promulgation and implementation of those decrees. During the land reform, Russian government promulgated a series of the decrees and implementation methods for how to hold and use allotment land, plans for the utilization of land and the peasants’land bank. Especially, it the most important are the Decree on November 9, 1906 and the Decree on Match 4, 1906. After these decrees were implemented, peasants could drop out of the rural community together their allotment land. The expansion of peasants’dropping out the rural community had been strengthenedAt last, I wish to analyze the major results of the land reform. The land reform promoted system changes of possession and utilization of Russian land, a great number of allotment land were turned over to the individual ownership of the peasants, the part of the peasants had been migrated to the single and individual farm and the independent farmsteads, a lot of the landlords’farm and State-owned land transferred to the hands of peasants. In this part, I will examine in detail all kinds of the implementation of the decrees and comprehensively evaluate economic, social and political consequence of the land reform.In order to solve these questions, I have studied systematically Russian land reform in the early 20th century. By carefully have analyzed the ready made achievements of research and have examined a great number of historical materials, and I come to such following conclusions:1) This reform is a continuance of the Emancipation Reform of 1861; it has a certain historic inevitability.In terms of an analysis of Russian peasants’land problem during the capitalistic period, the land reform which Russian government carried out has a certain historic inevitability. This reform is not only the natural requirements for the development of Russian economy and society after the Emancipation Reform of 1861, but also a natural choice that Russian government has solved peasants’land problem, achieved a political goal of Russia’s long-term peace and stability. Only after we have understood the inner logical development of these histories well can we more comprehensively and rationally make an objective assessment of this land reform, rather than merely evaluating negatively this reform and excessive emphasis on the failure of the land reform.2) This land reform had been brewing for a long time; various inner forces of the government had been exchanging repeatedly views on design and implementation of the reform, and the principles and policies of the reform what determined were the result of all political parties and groups agreed on.Deliberations and consultations on this reform went back to the late 19th century, some government organs and high officials already had been aware of the importance of the issue, realized peasants’ability to pay had fallen, the amount of redemption payment and tax owed had been increased in consecutive years. In the beginning of the 20th, the problems of the peasants and land became the focus of interest to the government, there were a lot of different ideas and claims on how to implementation of the land reform. After October 17,1905,Sergei Witte as Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, actively advocated that completely endowed with the land rights of peasants. With the push of Witte, the policies of the land reform gradually come into being, in order to establish individual ownership about allotment land and expand the land possession of peasants.3) After a full discussion by the government and a modification by the Duma, the plan of the land reform and related decrees by the State Council authorized has high legality and strong feasibility.During the period of the land reform, the government had issued a series of the decrees and regulations, including redemption payments for allotment land, the land peasants’bank, and the peasants dropping out of rural community, the migration policy and plans for the utilization of land, and so on. Especially, it is the most important that the Decree on November 9, 1906 stipulated peasants together their allotment land could be drop out of the rural community, and the Decree on Match 4, 1906 about establishing the Committee on Planning Land. Two decrees were examined and discussed by the Committee of State Affairs, and by Czar Nicholas II signed, became the Decree on June 14, 1910 and the Decree on May 29, 1911. As the land reform of government’s action, it has legality within the limits prescribed by law, and feasibility of achieving the objective of the reform on the resolution of the land problem.4) The land reform had accelerated the peasants’dropping out of the rural community, pushed the development of agricultural economy to a certain extent, hence promoted Russian social progress. It had achieved a good result in some regions and provinces.During the period of the land reform, the part of the peasants dropped out of the rural community with the allotment land, some peasants placed the allotment land and distributed land under one, and established single and individual farm and the independent farmsteads. This reform had been promoted constantly the improvement of the overall level of capitalistic development in agriculture, raised steadily some major farm-product prices, optimized gradually the structural proportion of all kinds of land, and also evidently improved the output of main grain crops. This reform had promoted the transfer of the land, accelerated the process of polarization among the peasants and the redistribution of rural social wealth, and also advanced the increase of the production capability of the peasants.However, because the legitimacy of the government during the period of the land reform had been challenged, the political and economic environment was abnormally instable, and various political forces among the government conflicted with each other. So the effect of the reform became weak.The systematic research on Russian land reform in the early 20th century has still lacked in the home country, the causes, concrete measures and the results of the reform and so on need to be explored in depth. This paper will focus on Russian peasants’land problem and raise and solve this problem all the way through with reform, its main content is that examines the promulgation and implementation of the core law and decrees of the land reform, its final objective is an analysis and evaluation of the economic and social results of the land reform. It is clear about train of thought and explicit about viewpoints. From a new direction, a more comprehensive analysis and explanation of Russian land reform in the early 20th century is given.I not only have comprehensively grasped the typical achievements of the past 40 years in this field of Russian historical materials, but also examined and cited partial primitive historical materials, such as the Decree of the land reform, imperial order and the Committee of Ministers’decision.My arguments release from the old view whether the land reform was a success or a failure, attempt to objectively elaborate real process and fact of history of the land reform, try to tell the reader in detail why Russian government needed to carry out the land reform, how to implement and what the result was. My arguments will avoid such one-sided predication that“successful reform”or“failed reform”, rather than cover up the concrete and historical analysis, try to evaluate the results of the reform on specific period, specific region and specific field of the concrete historical conditions.

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