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115

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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now scattered all over Russia, spent several years
as war-prisoners in Germany doing farm work,
and learnt a great deal from German agricultural
methods. In addition to this, many capable German
farmers, who were taken prisoners during the war,
have settled down as colonists, especially in Siberia.

As a preliminary to making any forecast
concerning the development of agriculture in Russia,
one must take account of the human factor, the
psychology of the country population.

Like all peasants, the Russian peasant is a
practical man. He has fought fiercely to conquer
the soil, and the soil is his livelihood. He is
ready to put as much work into it as will suffice
to satisfy his wants.

But whereas the farmer elsewhere is an
enterprising individual, comparatively well educated, and
taking an important part in the public life of his
country, the Russian peasant under the Empire
remained in a state of ignorance and extreme
misery. Weighed down by taxation, he had no
hope of improving his position, and he passed
his life in unrelieved poverty and often
semi-starvation. The Russian agriculture which was
so rich, taken as a whole, supplied him with
few resources for his improvement; for the profits
went chiefly into the pockets of the upper classes,
and the middlemen who arranged about the
exports. They contented themselves with squeezing
the peasant, without ensuring him by any law
the chance of improving his condition. In reality
few really methodical efforts were made to replace

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