The Land to the Peasants
April 14, 1917
Works, Vol. 3, March - October, 1917
The peasants of the Ryazan Gubernia have sent a statement to Minister Shingaryov to the effect that they will plough the land left uncultivated by the landlords even if the landlords do not give their consent. The peasants declare that it will be disastrous if the landlords refrain from planting, that immediate ploughing of untilled land is the only means of ensuring bread both for the population in the rear and for the army at the front.
In reply to this, Minister Shingaryov (see his telegram ) emphatically prohibits unauthorized ploughing, calling it "usurpation," and orders the peasants to wait until the convocation of the Constituent Assembly; it, forsooth, will settle everything.
As, however, it is not known when the Constituent Assembly will be convened, since its convocation is being postponed by the Provisional Government, of which Mr. Shingaryov is a member, it follows that, in fact, the land is to remain unploughed, the landlords are to remain in possession of the land, the peasants without land, and Russia—the workers, the peasants and the soldiers—without sufficient bread.
And all this in order not to offend the landlords, even though Russia fall into the clutches of famine.
Such is the reply of the Provisional Government, of which Minister Shingaryov is a member.
This reply does not surprise us. A government of manufacturers and landlords cannot behave otherwise towards the peasants—what do they care about the peasants so long as all is well with the landlords?
We, therefore, call upon the peasants, upon the peasant poor of all Russia, to take their cause into their own hands and push it forward.
We call upon them to organize and form revolutionary peasant committees (volost, uyezd, etc.), take over the landed estates through these committees, and cultivate the land in an organized manner without authorization.
We call upon them to do this without delay, not waiting for the Constituent Assembly and paying no attention to reactionary ministerial prohibitions which put spokes in the wheel of the revolution.
We are told that immediate seizure of the landed estates would disrupt the "unity" of the revolution by splitting off the "progressive strata" of society from it.
But it would be naive to think that it is possible to advance the revolution without quarrelling with the manufacturers and landlords.
Did not the workers "split off" the manufacturers and their ilk from the revolution when they introduced the eight-hour day? Who would venture to assert that the revolution has suffered from having alleviated the condition of the workers, from having shortened the working day?
Unauthorized cultivation of the landed estates and their seizure by the peasants will undoubtedly "split off" the landlords and their ilk from the revolution. But who would venture to assert that by rallying the millions of poor peasants around the revolution we shall be weakening the forces of the revolution?
People who want to influence the course of the revolution must realize once and for all :
1) That the main forces of our revolution are the workers and the poor peasants who, owing to the war, are now wearing soldier's uniform;
2) That as the revolution grows deeper and wider, the so-called "progressive elements," who are progressive in word but reactionary in deed, will "split off" from it inevitably.
It would be reactionary utopianism to retard this beneficent process of purging the revolution of unnecessary "elements."
The policy of waiting and procrastinating until the Constituent Assembly is convened, the policy recommended by the Narodniks, Trudoviks, and Mensheviks of "temporarily" renouncing confiscation, the policy of zigzagging between the classes (so as not to offend anybody!) and of shamefully marking time, is not the policy of the revolutionary proletariat.
The victorious onmarch of the Russian revolution will sweep it away like so much superfluous lumber that is suitable and advantageous only to the enemies of the revolution.
Pravda, No. 32, April 14, 1917
 The text of Shingaryov's telegram was reproduced by V. I. Lenin in his article, "A ‘Voluntary Agreement' Between Landlords and Peasants?" in Pravda, No. 33, April 15, 1917 (see V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 24, p. 108).