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A "Peasant" Revolution

 

Other classes of Russian population took an active part in the revolution alongside the workers. In this sense the democratic revolution of 1905-7 is interpreted by some analysts as a sum total of component elements, including workers, peasants, soldiers, students, national-liberation and other currents of revolution with their individual issues, aims and peculiarities.  

 
Peasant children

In particular, the revolution of 1905-1907 is sometimes seen as peasant revolution in recognition of the scale of the peasant movement directed against the landowners and the government. Historians have uncovered about twenty-six thousand instances of disturbances in the countryside during the years of the revolution involving several millions of peasants. The peasant unrest peaked in November and December 1905, when many peasants interpreted the October Manifesto as permission to seize the gentry land they had long believed was theirs by right.

The chief demand of all section of the Russian peasantry - from poor and middle to well-to-do peasants - was the transfer of all the land to those who cultivated it. The vast majority of peasants rejected the idea of paying redemption fees for the gentry land and demanded its confiscation and equal distribution among peasant families in line with communal egalitarian traditions. The issue whether to hold the land in private ownership or to make it subject to nationalization or socialization by the peasants was hardly ever seriously considered. The majority of peasants insisted that land could not be treated the same as other property, like farm tools, animals, buildings, for instance, and therefore no one should have the right to buy, sell or mortgage it. The land was Gods and no-ones, and as such was the asset of the entire nation. Equally, the preservation of the commune in those regions where it had traditionally existed was never put into doubt.

As a result of the powerful rise of the peasant movement in 1905-1907, the peasants had won certain concessions from the government and the landed proprietors which somewhat relieved the economic and fiscal pressures on the village. The outstanding redemption payments were cancelled, land rent fees were lowered, wages of hired agricultural laborers increased by some 10 percent. However, a radical settlement of the agrarian issue, sought by the peasant movement, had not been achieved.

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The Revolution of 1905-7

 

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