The New International Encyclopædia/Mir

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MIR, mēr (Russ., OChurch Slav. mirŭ, union, peace, world, Lith. mers, Alb. mir, peace). The name of the civil communities of the Russian peasants. All land is held in common and is divided, usually according to the number of males at the last census, being redistributed whenever necessary. Each family receives meadow, forest, and arable land, the meadow being sometimes kept in common and only the grass divided. The mir, or village commune, as a body is assessed for taxes by the Central Government, and the burden of taxation is distributed among the heads of families, according to the amount of land occupied by each. Each mir is self-governing with elected officers, and adjoining mirs may be grouped in volasts or small cantons. The system is very old, but is gradually changing, as a mir may now go over to private ownership of land and inheritance of property on vote of two-thirds of its members. Consult: Wallace, Russia (London, 1877); Keussler, Zur Geschichte und Kritik des bäuerlichen Gemeindebesitzes in Russland (Saint Petersburg, 1876-87).