“To start with the Guesdistes, the Marxist fraction in the French socialist movement, did include the nationalisation of land as a major demand in their Le Havre programme of 1880, but the demand took no account of the differences in the countryside; it simply called for the expropriation of private property in land and the collective use of land. Moreover, it did not indicate what institutional form the collective use of land would take. However, in successive congresses the demand for expropriation was watered down out of recognition for concrete conditions in the countryside and the hostility which the demand gave rise to. In fact, the Nantes programme of the Guesdistes, passed in 1894, did not even mention the nationalisation of peasant property and its collective use. By the 1890s it became established that the demand for nationalisation did not apply peasant property and Engels reaffirmed this in his ‘Peasant Question in France and Germany” (Engels, ‘The Peasant Question in France and Germany’, in ‘Marx Engels ‘Selected Works’, 1970, vol. III, p. 457). The demand for land nationalisation did not figure in the programme of the SPD at all. Those who favoured the peasantry were naturally against the nationalisation of land but the orthodox, such as Kautsky, were opposed to it too. Kautsky, the guardian of the orthodoxy within the SPD, even opposed the nationalisation of the big estates to the east of the Elbe – a measure which Engels earlier had regarded necessary in order to break the power of the estate owners. But Kautsky had good Marxist reasons to be opposed to the measure. For the argument was that estate owners, or Junkers, already had considerable influence on the functioning of the state apparatuses, so the nationalisation of land and the consequent leasing of land by a state agency would not undermine their political power and might even consolidate it and work to the Junkers’ advantage” (Kautsky, 1899). (…) For Engels and for the orthodoxy within the SPD, not only was peasant property inconsistent with socialism but also doomed to disappear soon. “It is the duty of our party to make clear to the peasants again and again that their position is absolutely hopeless so long as capitalism holds sway, that it is absolutely impossible to preserve their holdings as such, and that capitalist large scale production is absolutely sure to run over their impotent and antiquated system of small scale production as a train runs over a pushcart (‘Peasant Question in France and Germany’, p. 472). The imminence of the disappearance of the peasantry was taken to imply that there is no point in a socialist party trying to support or prop up the peasant property which is meant to be inconsistent with socialism in the first place. The assumption of the imminent disappearance of the peasantry was not peculiar to those who wanted the socialist programme to remain neutral to the peasantry – contrary to what Mitrany’s ‘Marx Against The Peasant’ may suggest, neither Marx nor Engels nor any Marxist in the 1890s ever suggested a programme directed against the peasantry. (…) Apart from Engels’ ‘Peasant Question’ and Marx’ comments on nationalisation there were precious few analyses to guide the Marxist discussion of the agrarian question in the 1890s. There are occasional comments about the nature of the peasantry as class in ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire’ and besides that a substantial portion of ‘Capital’ vol. III, first published in 1894, is devoted to the discussion of rent – occasionally in that connection it talks of the different forms of organisation of production in agriculture”. [Athar Hussain Keith Tribe, Marxism and the Agrarian Question. Volume 1. German Social Democracy and the Peasantry, 1890-1907, 1981]