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Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Term for the kind of village community characteristic of rural society in Russia until stalin's imposition of collectivization around 1930. It can also be translated as “world,” thus encouraging cultural historians to stress the limited horizons of peasant life during the tsarist epoch. From the sixteenth century onward the mir system involved a considerable measure of self-government by village elders with regard to socio-economic matters, especially concerning periodic reallocations of land among the tenants of local property owners. Its functions were extended in 1861, when the Emancipation Edict transferred land not to the former serfs (see serfdom ) as individuals but to the mir as a whole. This body also possessed some tax-raising powers, subject to approval by the provincial governor. Although hailed by Slavophiles as an indigenous Russian institution free from western influence, the mir acted as a brake on agrarian modernization and did little to alleviate peasant poverty. After the russian revolution of 1905, stolypin attempted to replace it with a system of individual landholdings, yet little was accomplished. Despite the fact that marx had eventually viewed the mir as something from which a more progressive form of communal organization might possibly grow, stalin saw it simply as a haven for kulak selfishness and abolished it accordingly. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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