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.
V.P. Vorontsov, peasant community, land redistribution, individualism of the peasantry, communal and household land tenure, agriculture.
Zverev Vasily V., DSc (History), Senior Researcher, Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 117292, Moscow, Dmitry Ulyanov St., 19.
The article considers the novel “Last Greetings” by V.P. Astafiev as a historical source of descriptions of the peasant world. The author emphasizes such basic categories of the peasant life as traditional family, kinship ties, working, parenting, attitudes to nature, concepts of shame, conscience, and duty. Based on this literary material, the author concludes that the peasant worldview is a result of close interaction with nature, which determined both respect for the environment—forest, field, river, animals—and such qualities as moderate consumption of natural resources, diligence, foresight, concern for the future. Knowledge and understanding of nature also affected labor that did not pursue enrichment but aimed at ensuring the family’s prosperity. The villager in Russia, as everywhere in the world, was not a money-grubber, and his social ideal was a hardworking and sober middle peasant. The system of upbringing and the social structure of the village (community) aimed at developing and preserving these qualities. The community structure was primarily to prevent such disasters as crop failure, famine, flood, fire, and their catastrophic consequences. The centuries-old history of life in nature and with nature has cultivated mutual assistance, mutual support, and the charity of the sick, poor, and injured. The author concludes that such a social order was the foundation of the social unity in the past, which in turn influenced the strength and power of the Russian state.
peasant, city, phenomenon of ‘village writers’, traditional family, man and nature, kinship ties, labor, shame, conscience, duty, Russian community, childhood, village street
Zverev Vasily V., DSc (History), Leading Researcher, Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 117292, Moscow, Dmitry Ulyanov St., 19.