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Mir, in Russian, means both peace and world. The exact date of origin of the Russian mir or commune, is unknown. But the communal land ownership of the Mir predated serfdom and survived emancipation and even the Russian Revolution (1917).

In imperial Russia, the vast majority of Russian peasants held their land in communal ownership within a mir community, which acted as a village government and a cooperative. Arable land was divided in sections based on soil quality and distance from the village. Each household had the right to claim one or more strips from each section depending on the number of adults in the household. The purpose of this allocation was not so much social (to each according to his needs) as it was practical (that each person pay his taxes). Strips were periodically re-allocated by the mir's council on the basis of a census, to ensure equitable share of the land. This was enforced by the state, which had an interest in the ability of households to pay their taxes.

Still, the European socialist movement looked to this arrangement as evidence that Russian peasants had a history of socialization of property and lacked bourgeois impulses toward ownership. Communal ownership of land under the Mir system is widely recognized as problematic, with soil overuse and disincentives of households to care for the land and increase harvests year to year as well as an inability to establish economies of scale.

The mir could contain serfs as well. Lands reserved for serf use were assigned to the mir for allocation. The land of the proprietor was cut into strips and intermingled with the land collectively owned by the peasants. Serfs worked alongside the other peasants, lived in private houses like they did and only differed in that they were bound to the landlord's land and owed him a tax.

See also

References

Russia Under the Old Regime - Richard Pipes

External links

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