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Workers' Earnings and Capitalist Profits in Russia

V. I. Lenin

A survey of factories in Russia was made in 1908.[1] There is no doubt that the survey gave exaggerated figures of the workers' earnings and understated the amount of production and the size of the capitalists' profits, for in our country all surveys of this kind are carried out on purely bureaucratic lines, inquiries being addressed only to the capitalists, while it is considered unnecessary to ask the workers any questions.

Let us see what these statistics, which are particularly advantageous for the capitalists, have revealed.

According to preliminary information—which is all that has been published so far—there were altogether nearly 20,000 factories in Russia (the exact figure is 19,983; we shall give the exact figures in parentheses but shall round them off in the text to make it easier for the reader to visualise and remember the principal data).

The total number of workers of both sexes was 2,250,000 (2,253,787), including mining workers and workers employed in the industries subject to excise duty.

The wages of all those workers totalled more than 500 million (555,700,090) rubles.

To find out the average pay per worker, we must divide the total of wages by the number of workers. We get the figure 246 rubles.

This means that in 1908 two and a quarter million Russian factory workers earned a mere twenty rubles fifty kopeks a month on the average!

Considering that with this sum the worker has to support his family, and this with the present high rents and high food prices, such pay must be described as meagre.

Let us now see what the profits of the capitalists are. To ascertain them, we must subtract all the outlays of the capitalists from the sum total of production, i.e., the gross receipts of all the factories.

The sum total of production exceeds 4,500 million (4,651 million) rubles, and all the outlays of the capitalists total 4,000 million (4,082 million) rubles.

It follows that the capitalists' profits exceed 500,000,000 rubles (568,700,000 rubles).

These profits average 28,500 rubles per establishment. Each worker brings the capitalist a profit of 252 rubles a year.

Let us now compare the workers' earnings and the capitalists' profits. Each worker receives, on the average, 246 rubles a year, but he brings the capitalist an average profit of 252 rubles a year.[2]

It follows that the worker works the lesser part of the day for himself, and the greater part of it for the capitalist. If, for example, we take the working day to average 11 hours, we shall see that the worker is paid only for five and a half hours and even somewhat less than that. The other five and a half hours he works gratuitously, without receiving any pay, and the entire sum earned by him during this half day constitutes the capitalist's profit.


[1] This refers to the investigation of Russia's factories carried out by the Industrial Department of the Ministry of Finance in 1908. Preliminary data on the results of the investigation were published by V. Y. Varzar in an article "The Manufacturing Industry of the Empire at the Beginning of 1909" in Vestnik Finansov, Promyshlennosti i Torgovli No. 50, on December 11 (24), 1911. Lenin cited data from the summary table in that article.

[2] Altogether the worker creates an annual 498 rubles' worth of new values. —Lenin

Published: Pravda No. 85, August 8, 1912.
Signed: T..
Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 256-257.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan

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