- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
242

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
and will belong to his children after him, he has far
more inducement to clear it and cultivate it, than when
it [belongs to a commune, in which he has his plot of
land, or rather his many scattered small plots of land,
assigned to him for a few years, or even when he may
hold it for several years.
And this view has now been adopted by the Russian
Government. The weak points of the mir system as
affecting the cultivation of the land have become fully
recognized. A series of recent laws gives the peasant
the right not only to claim the holdings which his family
has occupied for a number of years as family property,
but also to have the holdings rearranged and collected
into a freehold. In particular the former Minister Stolypin
did much to assist development in this direction, with
the support of the opinion that had long prevailed
among the most capable of the peasants themselves. In
European Russia large areas of land formerly held in
common are now annually parcelled out into freehold
farms. That Stolypin intended to introduce the same
reform in Siberia, I see by a report he made after his
visit to that country in 1910. What keeps it back is no
doubt chiefly old custom ; the peasant of Great Russia
has brought with him the village system and common
ownership from his European home, where it has a
development of many centuries behind it. There have
been, and may still be, advantages in common owner
ship ; much of the work can be carried out in common,
and perhaps it is more entertaining, life is less lonely.
In any case most of the Russian peasants are not yet
prepared to live alone, each in his farm, like the Nor
wegian peasants. And as regards Siberia, there is
another thing to be considered : in that great country,
where so many people, not always of the best sort, are
roving about, it may be awkward to live in a lonely
242

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