Litsom k derevne (‘turning to the village’) was a short and unjustly neglected episode of the Soviet history. This program of development combined socialist construction and industrialization with the further growth of peasant agriculture. It was adopted by the Party’s CC-Plenum in April 1925 (although only for a short time), and designed by such agricultural experts as Chelintsev, Kondratiev and Makarov, i.e., it was close to Chayanov’s vision. Some peasants reacted positively to this program: following the call of the Party, a group of kulturniki started to improve and rationalize farming ‘in a cultural way’ — with the agricultural research knowledge. The article aims to question the feasibility of the Litsom k derevne program in regard to two decisive changes in 1925–1927: the nearly total stop of the state financial support for agriculture, and the Party’s return to the ‘class war’ in the countryside — against the imagined kulaks. The argument on the political alternatives mentions Chayanov’s and his colleagues’ statements to Molotov in October 1927. The author describes the state’s first attention to agriculture and its basic problems in the early 1920s; how and why the New Economic Policy led to a different program of agricultural development — Litsom k derevne — which strongly revised the Bolsheviks’ previous positions. The author identifies reasons for the failure of this program, and how changes in the industrialization strategy affected the political action in the countryside. For the feasibility of the Litsom k derevne program, the peasants active participation was decisive. The article considers the state measures for agricultural development, the desperate fight of the kulturniki against their discrimination, and the position of Chayanov and his school on this program and the chances of the ‘working peasants’. In the conclusion, the author presents his findings: 1) The agricultural program Litsom k derevne did not have any alternatives after the political decision to support primarily industrialization; only the kulturniki as rather well-to-do peasants could increase agricultural production in such conditions due to their higher profitability and lower costs. Only political discrimination and the threat of expropriation could stop their efforts to dynamically develop their farms. Thus, there was no way to combine the Party’s return to the ‘class war’ against the well-to-do peasants as ‘kulaks’ with the Litsom k derevne program. The Party’s internal fight for power had disastrous consequences not only for the kulturniki but also for the agricultural production and exports. 2) The author suggests to stop the fruitless debates on the ‘class differentiation’ of the peasantry and to focus on the real mid-1920s controversy: whether the growth of agricultural production and efficiency required agricultural expertise (by capable peasants and researchers) and the state financial support (for the needed institutions like cooperatives). Both points were the basic requests of Chayanov to Molotov in 1927. The Party leaders from Stalin to Brezhnev never understood that not only industry but also agriculture could be successful only with expertise and not just by command.
The translated article of the Japanese historian of social thought and Marxist Soichiro Sumida considers the understanding of the small-scale mode of production by Karl Marx. The author argues that the MEGA facilitates an objective interpretation of Marx’s works by excluding any impurities and distortions based on ideological convictions. Thus, Sumida analyzes and compares the traditional Japanese economic theories that developed under the influence of Marx and the texts of Marx to examine the concept of ‘small economy’. According to Sumida, by referring to the small peasantry in their works, previous generations of researchers erroneously studied the groups which Marx called ‘small farmers’. However, according to Marx, ‘small peasant’ and ‘small farmer’ are different categories.
The author of this article, the remarkable Russian economist Nikolai Makarov (1886–1980), is one of the brightest representatives of Chayanov’s organization-production school, who had a long and dramatic life. After graduating from the Faculty of Economics of the Moscow University, he conducted economic-statistical studies of the Russian peasantry and cooperation, and taught a number of agrarian-economic disciplines at the universities of Moscow and Voronezh. Makarov took an active part in the preparation of agrarian reforms during the 1917 Revolution. During the Civil War, he emigrated to the United States and wrote books about American agriculture. In 1924, at the invitation of Alexander Chayanov, Makarov returned to Soviet Russia — as a wellknown professor and influential expert in the comparative studies of rural development in various regions of the world2. The fruitful scientific work of Makarov and his colleagues from the organization-production school was stopped in 1930 — when Stalin accused Chayanov and Makarov of sabotaging collectivization and preparing a counter-revolutionary coup in the USSR. Makarov spent several years in prison, and in the mid-1930s, he was sent to work as an economist at the state farms of the Black-Earth region. In the late 1940s, he was allowed to return to research and teaching, and in old age, he published a number of books on the Soviet agricultural economy.
The article presents the emigrant period of Makarov’s life, when he collaborated with the editorial board of the Peasant Russia journal published in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s. Makarov conducts a political-economic analysis of the main issues and topics in the Russian agrarian thought of the late 19th — early 20th centuries. First, he describes the features of the Narodnik and Marxist theoretical-methodological approaches to the study of the Russian rural evolution. Then, in the spirit of the Chayanov school, Makarov looks for a fruitful compromise between these two ideologies. He notes the important impact on Russian agrarians of the international, primarily German, studies of the agricultural organization and evolution. The final sections of the article explain Makarov’s original classifications and typologies of the forms and directions of the agricultural evolution. Today, a hundred years later, this Makarov’s work helps us to better understand the debatable roots of the Russian and global agrarian ideologies in the early 20th century.
This article looks at how imaginaries of land and climate play a role in farmland investment discourses and practices. Foreign farmland investors in the fertile black earth region of Russia and Ukraine have ‘celebrated’ soil fertility while largely ignoring climatic factors. The article shows a centuries-long history of outsiders coming to the region lured by the fertile soils, while grossly underestimating climate which has had disastrous implications for farm viability and the environment. Comparisons with historical and contemporary literature on other regions (e.g. the US prairies and North Africa) suggest that the underestimation of climatic risks by newcomers is remarkably prevalent in resource frontiers.
Alexander Chayanov’s book The Journey of My Brother Alexei to the Land of Peasant Utopia is deeply rooted in the late 19th—early 20th century’s literary and philosophical ideas. His utopia was influenced not only by the futuristic projects of William Morris, Thomas Moore, Edward Bellamy and other authors mentioned in the book, but also by the ideas interpreted in the works of Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vladimir Kirillov, Evgeny Zamyatin, Andrei Platonov, and others. The picture of the peasant paradise presented by Chayanov’s economic ideas is similar to the dreams of the neo-peasant poets about an ‘izba paradise’ (izba—a traditional Russian farmstead), preservation of traditional values and folk culture. Technological achievements are described in the works of Mayakovsky and Zamyatin, and Chayanov’s utopia adds the ability to control meteorological processes. The writers’ reflections on the future man were influenced by their interpretation of future theurgic ambitions and their possible results (artificial selection, strict regulation of many spheres of life, compulsory realization of gifts and talents, separation or even extermination of dissenters, etc.). The futurologist ideas about the development of society, science, art and culture, implemented in different art forms, were tested to check the man’s ability to identify the limits of his power over his own nature while not attempting to suppress or change according to the challenges of technology.
The article presents excerpts from the author’s monograph in print The ‘Long Table’ Method in the Field Qualitative Sociological Research. The method was developed in 1990–1995, during the long-term interdisciplinary research of the Russian countryside under the guidance of Professor Teodor Shanin. One of the directions of its further development was the Qualitative Researcher School which was created about twenty years ago. The monograph describes the methodology, techniques and cases of organizing working groups of researchers and of preparing them for conducting the field qualitative research of the full cycle—from concept to publication. The excerpts of the book presented in the article focus on such basic issues of the field sociological research based on the in-depth interview as tandem interview and long table method, functions of the group field diary, timing of the in-depth interview, crisis of understanding and theoretical framework of research. In addition to the specific methodological approaches and numerous examples from the research practice, the article presents parts of transcripts from the moderator and participants work with the ‘long table’ method in the Qualitative Researcher School in order to give the reader an idea of the research culture as a number of basic principles and values of the scientific search for truth, and of the atmosphere of mutual intellectual and emotional support within the research project as developed by Teodor Shanin.
The authors consider the term ‘rural areas’ and believe that such territories should not be defined as administrative-territorial units. The article presents another interpretation of ‘rural areas’ on the example of classification developed for the Tver Region. This classification is based on three features: the type of territory, its functions, and the development of rural settlements network; recreational potential can be an additional criterion. The combination of these features allowed the authors to identify 11 types of rural areas and to describe the distribution of territories and rural population of the Tver Region by typological groups.
The article considers the main ideas of the outstanding Russian economist and publicist V.P. Vorontsov as represented in his work Peasant Community published in 1892. This book provides a detailed examination of the zemstvo statistical data in order to refute the theory of the rudimentary nature of the peasant community. To prove his ideas, Vorontsov used the objectivist approach in the selection and presentation of the data. He showed that in the post-reform era, the peasant community not only kept its functions of protecting the rural world but also developed new means for implementing the principles of equality and justice and for adapting peasants to the market economy. The peasant community resisted the commodity-money relations, but this resistance was not always effective. There was a growing individualistic trend which threatened to destroy the community organization. Vorontsov focused on the distribution-production functions of the peasant community rather than on its financial-tax, law-making, judicial functions and methods of social protection, and did not consider its representative, police, cultural-educational, religious functions or the contradictions between the communal nature of land relations and the individual economic practices of the peasantry. Vorontsov’s book is a real encyclopedia of the activities and worldview of the Russian peasantry in the second half of the 19th century.
The author argues that the precise final definitions (recognized and universal) are often less important for scientists than the key features of the studied phenomena. Therefore, the author suggests to combine different concepts in order to get a working and temporary definition of the cultural landscape. The article presents this term as non-evaluative, mainly typological, non-taxonomic and ‘real’, which allows to consider its borders with the natural landscape as mobile, conventional and relative due to the fact that both landscapes are affected by human activities. The author describes factors and trends in the development of the cultural landscape, and regionalization as a tool to study and preserve it. The Russian cultural landscape is primarily determined by the interaction of the state with nature due to the obvious shortage of self-organized local communities. The author identifies endogenous (internal) and exogenous (external) factors in the (self)-development of the cultural landscape, which can be either stimulating or hindering. As the main features of the Russian cultural landscape the author considers its historically developed rhythm and ability to self-recover, which differ by country and region. Centuries of the military-colonial despotism and unprecedented centralization of the supreme power have turned the Russian space into a totalitarian landscape with the hypertrophied radial connections and the suppressed peripheral connections, which is embodied in the administrative-territorial division and determined the extraordinary social-economic, geographical, ecological and territorial polarization. The Russian landscape has a very specific feature – the so-called ‘inner periphery’, or hinterland (relative and ubiquitous): these are territories located closer to the country’s cores than to its outskirts but with all negative features of the outskirts. This inner periphery plays an important role in the preservation and development of the natural landscape as a potential basis of the territorial ecological framework, but to ensure such a role we need a comprehensive cultural-historical regionalization.
This article by A.V. Chayanov was published in the edition of the Moscow Union of Consumer Societies “Cooperative Rural Calendar for 1918” (Moscow, 1917, pp. 42–44). The article is of interest mainly as a short, impressive, journalistic, rapid forecast of the possible evolutionary directions of the Russian economy and society in the short-term and mid-term national-economic perspective. This is a polemical political-economic article due to Chayanov’s reflections on the interpretation of such concepts as ‘state socialism’ and ‘socialism’ in general, on the meaning of ‘public reason’ in the ongoing and future reforms, and also due to Chayanov’s forecasts of the Russian economic development as determined by such multidirectional economic, political and social factors as the state debt that had multiplied during the war, the weakening impact of inflation on the economy, and the after-war tasks of transferring the economy to a peaceful track. In his positive forecasts, Chayanov put special hopes on the awakening social and productive forces of the Russian peasantry. Chayanov believed that the growth of culture, labor productivity and cooperation among the peasantry would allow to find a way out of the impasse of the 1917 economic devastation. Although, as the later historical events showed, Chayanov’s belief in ‘public reason’ and the corresponding humanistic socialist prospects for Russia did not come true, he systematically identified the key dominants of both revolutionary and evolutionary transformations of the huge peasant country under the great social-political upheavals of the 20th century.