mir (former Russian peasant community)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

mir (former Russian peasant community)

mir (mēr), former Russian peasant community. The mir, which antedated serfdom (16th cent.) in Russia, persisted in its primitive form until after the Russian Revolution of 1917. In a community of free peasants the land was owned jointly by the mir; in a community of serfs, lands reserved for serf use were assigned to the mir for allocation. The mir, like a corporate body, had an assembly, obligations, and rights; it was responsible for allocating the arable land to its members and for reallocating such lands periodically. Woodlands, pastures, and waters were used jointly. With the abolition of serfdom in 1861 (see Emancipation, Edict of) land was allotted, not to individual peasants, but to the mir. The amount of land allotted, however, was insufficient to support the number of people on the land. Also, retention of the mir perpetuated archaic agricultural methods. After the Revolution of 1905, Stolypin introduced reforms that he hoped would lead to the breakup of the mir. The reforms (1908) were not wholly effective, but many mirs were broken into individual holdings. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the mir remained the basis for local administration and tax collection in the rural areas. With the imposition of collectivization in 1928–9, the mir was abolished and the collective farm was introduced.

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