Agrarianism is a social philosophy or political ideology that stresses superiority of rural life over the urban life or dwelling. Agrarian parties appeared across Eastern Europe between 1860 and 1910, with the introduction of commercialized agriculture and world market forces that disrupt traditional rural society. The railways and growing literacy facilitated the work of roving organizers in organizing and promoting an agrarian agenda.
Initially lacking an ideologue and working has pressure groups until 1900s. Aleksandar Stamboliyski's Political Parties or Estatist Organizations (1909) in Bulgaria, followed by other theoreticians and politicians that would articulate the bases of agrarian politics. Other important Eastern European theorists include Pyotr Stolypin (1862–1911) and Alexander Chayanov in Russia; Constantin Stere in Bessarabia/Romania; Adolph Wagner (1835–1917), and Karl Oldenberg in Germany, and Bolesław Limanowski in Poland.
In Russia the intellectuals of the "Populists" (Narodnaya Volya]) and, later, the Socialist-Revolutionary Party developed a theoretical basis for a peasant movement, building a rich, well-developed humanistic ideology which influenced eastern Europe, especially the Balkans. with the exception of the Balkans, Baltic and Nordic countries, It never attained the international visibility among peasants that socialism did among the urban workers.
Common elements in the platforms of all agrarian parties were: land reform to redistribute land on large estates among those who work it. Safeguards for the small and medium property. Promotion of cooperatives and easy access to credit. Village cooperatives to keep the profit from crop sales in local hands, and credit institutions to underwrite needed improvements. Improvement of education in the rural areas and technological improvement and extension. Some agrarian parties still restrict their membership only to peasants, smallholders and agricultural workers.
Stamboliyski and Bulgarian agrarianism also advocated political reform and Pan-Balkanism (Balkan Federation). In the new political system the old political parties would step aside and make way for the new estate economical and economical organizations. The old parliamentary politics would be replaced by a parliament of economic interests. This would lead to some agrarian parties and theorists of the Balkans and Central Europe taking the political goal of creating Peasant States, which by the 1930s were established. The Peasant State was devised as middle point between capitalist and socialist states.
Agrarian parties are important in the Balkans and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Serbia, Poland, Austria-Hungary) and the (Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland Finland and Greenland). Moderately successful in Germany and East Prussia, due to its agenda of land reform.
Agrarian internationalism (Green International)
The creation in 1921 of the International Agrarian Bureau (IAB) in Cluj (Austria-Hungary), provided a network and discussion center for parties and organizations associated with agrarianism. Its membership is mainly drawn from Europe and Dominions of the ICF. In 1931 the IAB became the secretariat and liaison office of the International Peasants' Union.
Similar, but with lesser impact is the Red Peasant International (Krestintern, 1923) of the Comintern, that mainly functions in Asia and the Americas.
Main trends in agrarianism
Notable variants of agrarianism are:
- Radical agrarianism, that follows estatist theory, rule of the people principle and labor property in the economic plane. The main party, organizational reference and pioneer of Agrarianism is the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (Bulgarian: Български земеделски народен съюз, Balgarski Zemedelski Naroden Sayuz; BZNS), later followed in Romania by the Democratic Agrarian Party. The Ruthenian Agrarian Union (PAC/RAS; the former Ukrainian Radical Party Українська радикальна партія, УPП, Ukrainska Radikalna Partiya URP) can also be included in this group.
- Reformist agrarianism of central and eastern Europe, whose main political platform is land reform, social improvement of rural society, protection of agricultural activity and state interventionism in agriculture. The main parties of this variant are the Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL), the German Peasantry (Deutsche Bauernschaft) bloc integrated by the German Farmers' Party (Deutsche Bauernpartei, DBP) and Bavarian Peasants' League (Bayerischer Bauernbund, BB), the East Prussian Farmers' Party (Ostpeußischen Bauernpartei, OBP), Hungarian Agrarian Party (Agrárpárt, AP), Czechoslovakian Agrarian Party (Českoslovanská strana agrární CSA), Croatian Peasant Party (Hrvatska seljačka stranka, HSS) and several other regional parties in Austria-Hungary.
- Agrarian socialism, is defined as socioeconomic political movement that seeks to combine an agrarian way of life with socialist (or semi-socialist) economic policies. An important difference with social democratic and Communist parties was the belief that the rural peasantry, not the industrial proletariat, would be the revolutionary class. The building block of society is the rural commune, that according to some groups would lead to the establishment of a peasant state. It was the official ideology of the Socialist-Revolutionary (SR) parties of the former Russian Empire. After the Russian Revolution (1918) and its Civil War (1919-1920), SR parties were banned and its members pursued or exiled.In the exile the SR parties maintained a Foreign Delegation of the Central Committee associated for a brief time with the Labour and Socialist International (LSI), until the failed 1923 coup in the Belarus SR. Since then, they gravitated around the International Peasants' Union.
The influence of SR's ideology extended to the agrarian parties of Romania (Peasants' Party, Bessarabian Peasants' Party, National Peasants' Party) and in Austria-Hungary's Ruthenia, the Ruthenian Agrarian Union (PAC/RAS; the former Ukrainian Radical Party Українська радикальна партія, УPП, Ukrainska Radikalna Partiya URP).
- The Baltic-Nordic agrarian parties were founded has farmers' party with a political agenda that combined agrarianism with nationalism. Positioning themselves in the center of the political spectrum, but fulfilling roles distinctive to Nordic countries, they remain hard to classify by conventional political ideology. All these parties define themselves as 'non-socialist', while also distancing themselves from the label of 'bourgeois', which is reserved for the conservative and liberal parties. These parties are non-socialist and typically combine a commitment to small businesses, political decentralisation, and environmentalism. The progress of industrialization and declining of farmer population made them broaden their scope to other issues. The parties' attitudes to the free market and economic liberalism are mixed.
The main Baltic-Nordic agrarian parties are the following: Farmers' Party [Danish: Bondepartiet), Venstre (Denmark), Farmers' Assemblies (Estonian: Põllumeeste Kogud), Union Party (Faroese: Sambandsflokkurin, also translated Unionist Party), Agrarian League (Finnish: Maalaisliitto), Progressive Party (Icelandic: Framsóknarflokkurinn), Latvian Farmers' Union (Latvian: Latvijas Zemnieku savienība, LZS), Lithuanian Peasants' Union (Lietuvos Valstiečių Sąjunga, LVS) and Farmers' League (Swedish: Bondeförbundet)
- The Commonwealth or English farmer's or country parties were created has fellowships of agrarian workers and tenants to cooperate with other agrarians and farmers' lobby group. They appear has a critique of the rapid industrialization and urbanization of rural areas. They fostered rural solidarity and justified demands for government subsidies. In most of the cases they were hostile to local Labor parties and left wing parties on the issue of land collectivization.Many were formed in dominions and colonies of the Imperial Commonwealth Federation.
Of importance are in the Irish Free State (Farmers' Union and its successor Clann na Talmhan), Canada (United Farmers, ceased to exist when it merged, together with labour parties, in the Progressive Labour Party), Australia (Country Party), New Zealand (Country Party) and South Africa (South Africa Farmers' Party).