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Proletarian Peasants

Proletarian Peasants: The Revolution of 1905 in Russia's Southwest OPEN ACCESS

Copyright Date: 1987
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 216
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    Proletarian Peasants
    Book Description:

    In this book, conceived and written for the general reader as well as the specialist, Robert Edelman uses a case study of peasant behavior during a particular revolutionary situation to make an important contribution to one of the major debates in contemporary peasant studies. Edelman's subject is the peasantry of the right-bank Ukraine, and he uses local and regional archives seldom available to Western scholars to give a detailed picture of the ways in which the inhabitants of one of Russia's most advanced agrarian regions expressed their discontent during the years 1905-1907. By the 1890s, the landlords of Russia's Southwest had organized a highly successful capitalist form of agriculture, and Edelman demonstrates that their peasants responded to these dramatic economic changes by adopting many of the forms of political and social behavior generally associated with urban proletarians.

    eISBN: 978-1-5017-0768-1
    Subjects: History
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  1. On May 2, 1905, peasants in the province of Kiev withheld their labor from the large estate on which they had been working. Three years later, a correspondent of the semi-official Russian Imperial Free Economic Society, conducting a survey of the recent rural disorders, reported on the Kiev events:

    The earliest appearance of the movement occurred the second of May on the sugar plantation of A. Tereshchenko in Voitsovtsy [Skvir district]. According to the indictment, workers had received twenty-five kopecks a day since the early spring. In response to peasant demands, the wage was raised to forty kopecks. However, on...

  2. The southwest (after I9I7, the right-bank Ukraine) comprised the prerevolutionary provinces of Kiev, Volynia, and Podol’e, all of which became part of the Russian Empire after the third partition of Poland in 1795.¹ Most of the region was in the northern reaches of the “black earth” zone, in the fertile open steppe. The northern half of Volynia (the westernmost province), however, was in the forested steppe, which is geographically more like central Russia than the rest of the southwest.² Podol’e was south of Kiev and Volynia. Situated between Russian Poland and the west bank of the Dnieper, these three provinces...

  3. The Revolution of 1905 did not fall like a bolt of lightning from a cloudless sky. These events were the culmination of tensions that had been building for half a century, if not longer. The peasant emancipation of 1861 changed many personal and economic relationships on the land, but it did not usher in an era of progress and prosperity in rural Russia. In return for their personal freedom and control of their allotments, peasants had to give up a part of their land and compensate the nobility above and beyond the market value of what were already inadequate holdings....

  4. Because agrarian capitalism in the southwest was organized by landlords, peasant agriculture had advanced little. The availability of wage work on the estates allowed peasants to stay in the countryside, rather than move to the cities. They continued to live in communes that retained many traditional practices. Peasant capitalism would have undermined the old structures, but peasant capitalism was scarcely in evidence in the right bank. The persistence of traditional institutions meant that the peasants of Kiev, Podol’e, and Volynia organized their strikes in specifically rural ways. Social cohesion proved to be the norm. The assembly of heads of households...

  5. At the outset of this book, I raised the two standard questions that must be posed in any examination of rural disturbances. Which factors determined peasant behavior at moments of disorder? Which elements of the peasantry participated in movements of resistance? Each of these questions is, in turn, linked to the other issues that have engaged activists and scholars for the last century and a half. In the course of the first Russian revolution, rural cultivators in the southwest acted in ways that confirmed some of the expectations of both major conceptions of life in the countryside. Conversely, if both...

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.
Funding is provided by National Endowment for the Humanities