Peasant Question in France and Germany
Classics in Politics: Marx and Engels
THE PEASANT QUESTION IN FRANCE AND GERMANY
he bourgeois and reactionary parties greatly wonder whyeverywhere among Socialists the peasant question has nowsuddenly been placed upon the order of the day. What theyshould be wondering at, by rights, is that this has not been done longago. From Ireland to Sicily, from Andalusia to Russia, and Bulgaria, thepeasant is a very essential factor of the population, production andpolitical power. Only two regions of Western Europe form an exception.In Great Britain proper, big, landed estates and large-scale agriculturehave totally displaced the self-supporting peasant; in Prussia east of theElbe, the same process has been going on for centuries; here, too, thepeasant is being increasingly “put down”
, or at least economically andpolitically forced into the background.The peasant has so far largely manifested himself as a factor of
The Peasant Question in France and Germany,
thisfundamental Marxist work on the agrarian question, for
Die Neue Zeit.
Theimmediate reason for its appearance was Georg Vollmar's opportunist speechesand especially his report on the agrarian question at the Frankfurt congress ofthe German Social Democracy on October 25, 1894. Engels considered itnecessary to set forth the fundamentals of the revolutionary proletarian policy onthis matter and to level criticism against Vollmar's opportunist ideas, as well asagainst the deviations from the Marxist theory in the French socialists' agrarianprogramme adopted at the Marseilles congress and further developed at theNantes congress (September 1894).
Wird “gelegt” Bauernlegen
—a technical term from German historymeaning eviction, expropriation of peasants. [
Note by Lenin to his Russiantranslation of the beginning of Engels’ work