EVOLUTION OF PEASANT LAND TENURE DURING THE UKRAINIAN REVOLUTION OF 1917–1921

Sergey Kornovenko, Vitalii Telvak, Vasyl Ilnytskyi

Abstract


The subject of the study is the evolution of peasant land tenure during the period of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921. The contribution supports the assumption that the Ukrainian revolution of 1917-1921 was a peasant one by its character. The principal agent of Ukrainian history of that period was the peasantry. Peasant revolutionary activity dramatically affected the state of land tenure in Ukraine. It clearly underwent radical changes. The essence of these transformations was the elimination of landlordism and the expansion of the peasant land tenure. The main subject of land relations in Ukraine during the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921 was a peasant landowner. The methodological basis of the study was the concept of the “Great Peasant Revolution”, put forward in the scientific works of V. Danilov, T. Shanin. Its main statements were further developed in the latest developments of N. Kovalev, I. Farenii, S. Kornovenko, and other scholars. Peasant revolution of the early twentieth century laid the foundation of all the revolutionary transformations deploying in Ukraine in the first decades of the twentieth century. A socio-cultural approach is the core methodological benchmark of our study. One of the features of the socio-cultural paradigm is a certain universalism, which makes it possible to study cultural, political, economic, and other elements as a whole, as well as consider society as a unity of culture and sociality. Considering these basic principles, the peasantry at the beginning of the twentieth century appears as a complicated socio-cultural phenomenon where a well-established routine, the land, the work on it, peasants are closely interconnected. The peasantry was the conservative basis of civilization, a specific form of culture, which reminded statehood by the way of socio-cultural organization. Peasant economy was a socio-cultural phenomenon, object and subject of agrarian policy, it occupied an important place in the social division of labour as a peculiar microscope; and most importantly it was the structural component of the Ukrainian revolutionary society of that time. The purpose of the paper is to investigate the evolution of peasant land tenure during the period of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921. The basis of the analysis is the agrarian policy adopted by Bolsheviks, N. Makhno, P. Wrangel. The study of these examples clarifies the evolution of peasant land tenure in the Ukrainian village during the period of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921. As a result of the study, the following conclusions were substantiated. A deliberate policy of liquidation of large land tenure in Ukraine in 1917-1918 by the Soviet authorities was not carried out. Attempts for its implementation took place in Ukraine only in 1919 and were not successful in the end. The Makhnovists were much more effective in their endeavours. Firstly, they did not provoke resistance from peasants of various wealth; secondly, their policy was introduced before the Bolsheviks came to power; and thirdly, their policy was legalized by the relevant decisions of the congresses. P. Wrangel conducted a policy of liquidation of large land tenure in Ukraine in 1920. In its essence, it was similar to the one of Soviet power and Makhno. At the same time, it varied qualitatively from the Soviet one: 1) it had a more thoughtful, systematic, purposeful character; 2) the Government of the South of Russia managed to move away from declarations and eliminated large land tenure in practice; 3) the future of statehood, for which P. Wrangel fought, was clearly linked with the peasantry; 4) he did not identify private ownership of land with large land tenure. The latter was understood as a component of the institution of private land ownership. P. Wrangel believed that possession, use, and disposal of land were the essence of the peasants’ aspirations for land ownership. Therefore, only large land tenure suffered the liquidation.

Keywords


peasant land tenure, large land tenure, peasantry of Ukraine, peasant ownership of land, state ownership of land

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.30525/2256-0742/2018-4-3-133-141

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