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= historical Russian Land Commons: the Russian peasant commune which existed for centuries before the Russian Revolution and was managed by reciprocity rules, and abolished by Stalin's forced collectivization in 1929


Antonia Malchik:

"In Russia, since at least the 1400s and continuing in various forms until the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, land was managed under the mir system, or ‘joint responsibility’, which ensured that everyone had land and resources enough – including tools – to support themselves and their families. Strips of land were broken up and redistributed every so often to reflect changing family needs. Land belonged to the mir as a whole. It couldn’t be taken away or sold." (https://aeon.co/essays/is-it-time-to-upend-the-idea-that-land-is-private-property?)


John Marot:

“The mir, or peasant repartitional commune, managed the political and economic affairs of the peasantry in the villages in much of Russia, and had done so for centuries. Its officers, drawn from older, more experienced peasants, were elected in peasant assemblies, where decisions required unanimity in a great majority of cases. In their own sphere, the peasants obviously had hegemony.

Repartitional tenure assured the equitable distribution of communal land among the peasants, periodically redistributing it when required, a process determined by the greater tendency of those who had large plots to subdivide and bequeath the resulting smaller plots to their male children compared to those who had smaller plots, preventing the formation of an agrarian proletariat of any significance, under the NEP as well as under czardom.

Peasant families organized diverse productive activities on household plots oriented toward meeting their subsistence needs, marketing physical surpluses only. They were not subject to competitive constraints, as they would have been had they not possessed the means of subsistence. Had they lacked the means of subsistence, they would have had to buy what they needed to survive; to be able to buy, they would have had to be able to sell; to be able to sell, they would have had to meet competitors by reducing costs in relation to prices and producing things that were demanded.

Thus, peasant “rules of reproduction” shielded the peasantry from the compulsions of a capitalist market, ruling out specialization, systematic innovation, and capital accumulation — and raising great domestic barriers to maintaining, let alone collectively developing — the forces of production. When bad harvests in the late 1920s triggered a crisis of the NEP, peasants did not allow the solution to it at their expense. When the crisis ended, they were providing grain as before.

The mir enforced customary law and order without having to organize separate bodies of armed men to do so: expulsion from the commune was the ultimate sanction. There was no state in the Marxist sense of the term. Indeed, elected officials continued to perform all kinds of peasant labor, acted under the control of public opinion, and were leaders only insofar as they advanced the common interests of the peasants — and if they didn’t, they were immediately recallable.

In short, the peasant community was truly a political economy. No economic process alone — the exogenous pressures of “capitalism” or of the “world market” — could erode it. Forced collectivization alone destroyed it — a political process initiated by Stalin in 1929.” (https://jacobinmag.com/2019/12/new-economic-policy-stalinism-nep-bolsheviks-october-revolution?)