Land to the Working People: The Agrarian Question in the Political Programme of Old Believers

Keywords: Revolution of 1917; Old Belief; peasantry; agrarian question; land question

Abstract

This article considers a number of provisions by some Old Believer concords regarding the agrarian question. The analysis is based on documents and acts from Old Believer organisations, congresses, and meetings, journalistic materials, and epistolary documents. The Old Believers suggested a solution to the land question that involved elements of the liberal (Kadet) programme. However, unlike the Kadets (who suggested in 1917 that the land be given to peasants in perpetuity), Old Believers (including peasants) insisted that the land given to peasants be treated as private property. A small number of Old Believer peasants acted according to the principles established by the Socialist Revolutionaries. However, the Old Believer solution to the agrarian question was characterised by a unique combination of features. To a large extent, this resulted from the peculiarities of the democratic and polemic structure of the Old Believer community. Old Believer peasants (who mostly had solid, functioning households) always trusted the representative bodies and forums in which they actively participated. Thus, formulated at their congresses and meetings, the peasants’ points of view were actively taken into account by Old Believer authorities and had a considerable influence on the resolutions of the congresses. However, the principle of unpredeterminedness (Rus. непредрешенчество), zealously followed in the political documents of the adherents of old rite, was a major point of disagreement. The position of the Old Believers on the most important political and economic issues was characterised by the pronounced Christian (even chiliastic) tone of their political projects, with its ‘demand for truth, justice, brotherhood, and love’.

Author Biography

Valery Kerov

Dr. Hab. (History), Professor, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Leading Researcher, Laboratory for Library and Communicative Studies, Tomsk State University.

20, Myasnitskaya Str., 101000, Moscow, Russia.

36, Lenin Ave., 634050, Tomsk, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0003-4853-1102

vvkerov@gmail.com

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Published
2019-12-21
How to Cite
Kerov, V. (2019). Land to the Working People: The Agrarian Question in the Political Programme of Old Believers. Quaestio Rossica, 7(4), 1243–1258. https://doi.org/10.15826/qr.2019.4.436
Section
Problema voluminis