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Let us now pass to the political programme of the “friends of the people,” to whose theoretical views we have, we think, devoted far too much time. By what means do they propose to “put out the fire”? What way out do they propose in place of the one, which they claim is wrong, proposed by the Social- Democrats?
“The reorganisation of the Peasants’ Bank,” says Mr. Yuzhakov in an article entitled “The Ministry of Agriculture” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10), “the establishment of a Colonisation Department, the regulation of state land leasing in the interest of people’s farming . . . the study and regulation of land letting—such is the programme for the restoration of people’s farming and its protection from the economic violence” (sic!) “of the nascent plutocracy.” And in the article “Problems of Economic Development” this programme for “the restoration of people’s farming” is supplemented by the following “first, but essential steps”: “Removal of all restrictions that now encumber the village community; its release from tutelage, adoption of common cultivation (the socialisation of agriculture) and the development of the communal processing of raw materials obtained from the soil.” And Messrs. Krivenko and Karyshev add: “Cheap credit, the artel form of farming, an assured market, the possibility of dispensing with employers’ profit” (this will be dealt with separately below), “the invention of cheaper engines and other technical improvements,” and, finally, “museums, warehouses, commission agencies,”
Examine this programme and you will find that these gentlemen wholly and completely adopt the position of modern society (i.e., that of the capitalist system, without realising it), and want to settle matters by mending and patching it up, failing to understand that all their progressive measures—cheap credit, improved machinery, banks, and so on—can only serve to strengthen and develop the bourgeoisie.
Nik. —on is quite right, of course, when he says—and this is one of his most valuable theses, against which the “friends of the people” could not help protesting—that no reforms under the present system are of any use, and that credit, migration, tax reform, the transfer of all the land to the peasants, will not appreciably change anything, but, on the contrary, are bound to strengthen and develop capitalist economy, retarded as it now is by excessive “tutelage,” survivals of feudal dues, the tying of the peasantry to the land, etc. Economists, he says, who, like Prince Vasilchikov (an undoubted “friend of the people” in his ideas), desire the extensive development of credit, want the same thing as the “liberal,” i.e., bourgeois, economists, and “are striving for the development and consolidation of capitalist relations.” They do not understand the antagonistic character of our production relations (within the peasantry” as within the other social estates), and instead of trying to bring this antagonism out into the open, instead of simply joining with those who are enslaved as a result of this antagonism and trying to help them rise in struggle, they dream of stopping the struggle by measures that would satisfy everybody, to achieve reconciliation and unity. The result of all these measures is naturally a foregone conclusion: one has but to recall the examples of differentiation given above to be convinced that all these credits, improvements, banks and similar “progressive” measures will be available only to the one who, possessing a properly-run and established farm, has certain “savings,” i.e., the representative of an insignificant minority, the petty bourgeoisie. And however much you reorganise the Peasants’ Bank and similar institutions, you will not in the least alter the fundamental and cardinal fact that the mass of the population have been and continue to be expropriated, and lack means even of subsistence, let alone of farming on proper lines.
The same must be said of “artels,” and “common cultivation.” Mr. Yuzhakov called the latter “the socialisation of agriculture.” This is merely funny, of course, because socialisation requires the organisation of production on a wider scale than the limits of a single village, and because it necessitates the expropriation of the “blood-suckers” who have monopolised the means of production and now direct Russian social economy. And this requires struggle, struggle and struggle, and not paltry philistine moralising.
And that is why such measures of theirs turn into mild, liberal half-measures, barely subsisting on the generosity of the philanthropic bourgeois, and do much more harm by diverting the exploited from the struggle than good from the possible improvement in the position of a few individuals, an improvement that cannot but be meagre and precarious on the general basis of capitalist relations. The preposterous extent to which these gentlemen attempt to hide the antagonism in Russian life—doing so, of course, with the very best intentions in order to put an end to the present struggle, i.e., with the sort of intentions with which the road to hell is paved—is shown by the following argument of Mr. Krivenko:
“The intelligentsia direct the manufacturers’ enterprises, and they could direct popular industry.”
The whole of their philosophy amounts to whining that struggle and exploitation exist but that they “might” not exist if . . . if there were no exploiters. Really, what did the author mean by this meaningless phrase? Can it be denied that year after year the Russian universities and other educational establishments turn out a brand of “intelligentsia” (??) whose only concern is to find someone to feed them? Can it be denied that today, in Russia, the means for maintaining this “intelligentsia” are owned only by the bourgeois minority? Can the bourgeois intelligentsia in Russia be expected to disappear because the “friends of the people” say that they “might” serve somebody other than the bourgeoisie? Yes, they “might,” if they were not a bourgeois intelligentsia. They “might” not be a bourgeois intelligentsia, “if” there were no bourgeoisie and no capitalism in Russia! And they are content to spend their whole lives just repeating these “ifs” and “ands.” What is more, these gentlemen not only decline to attach decisive importance to capitalism, but totally refuse to see anything wrong in it. If certain “defects” were removed, they would perhaps not fare so badly under it. How do you like the following statement by Mr. Krivenko:
“Capitalist production and the capitalisation of industries are by no means gates through which manufacturing industry can only depart from the people. It can depart, of course, but it can also enter the life of the people and come into closer proximity to agriculture and the raw materials industry. This can be contrived in various ways, and these gates, as well as others, can serve this purpose” (p. 161). Mr. Krivenko has a number of very good qualities—as compared with Mr. Mikhailovsky; for example, frankness and straightforwardness. Where Mr. Mikhailovsky would have filled reams with smooth and glib sentences, wriggling around the subject without ever touching it, the business-like and practical Mr. Krivenko hits straight from the shoulder, and without a twinge of conscience spreads before the reader all the absurdities of his views without reservation. “Capitalism can enter the life of the people”—if you please! That is, capitalism is possible without the working people being divorced from the means of production! This is positively delightful. At least, we now are absolutely clear as to what the “friends of the people” want. They want commodity economy without capitalism—capitalism without expropriation and without exploitation, with nothing but a petty bourgeoisie peacefully vegetating under the wing of humane landlords and liberal administrators. And, with the serious mien of a departmental official who intends to confer a boon on Russia, they set about contriving schemes under which the wolves have their fill and the sheep their skins. To get some idea of the character of these schemes we must turn to the article by the same author in No. 12 (“Our Cultural Free Lances”): “The artel and state form of industry,” argues Mr. Krivenko—apparently under the impression that he has already been “called upon” to “solve practical economic problems”—“is by no means all that can be imagined in the present instance. For example, the following scheme is possible. . . .” And he goes on to relate how an engineer visited the offices of Russkoye Bogatstvo with a plan for the technical exploitation of the Don Region by a joint-stock company with shares in small denominations (not exceeding 100 rubles). The author was recommended to modify his scheme roughly as follows: “The shares shall not belong to private persons, but to village communities; that part of the village population employed in the company’s enterprises shall receive ordinary wages, the village communities guaranteeing that their connection with the land is maintained.”
What administrative genius, is it not? With what admirable simplicity and ease capitalism is introduced into the life of the people and all its pernicious attributes eliminated! All that is required is that the rural rich should buy shares through the communities and receive dividends from the enterprise, in which a “part of the population” will be employed and their tie with the land guaranteed—a “tie” insufficient to assure a livelihood from the land (otherwise who would go to work for “ordinary wages”?), but sufficient to bind a man to his locality, enslave him to the local capitalist enterprise and deprive him of the possibility of changing masters. I say master, capitalist, quite legitimately, for he who pays the labourer wages cannot be called anything else.
The reader is perhaps annoyed with me already for dwelling so long on such nonsense, nonsense that would seem to be undeserving of any attention. But I must say that although it is nonsense, it is a type of nonsense that is useful and necessary to study, because it reflects the social and economic relations actually existing in Russia and, as a consequence, is one of the social ideas, very widespread in our country, that Social-Democrats will have to reckon with for a long time to come. The point is that the transition from the feudal to the capitalist mode of production in Russia gave rise, and to some extent still gives rise, to a situation for the working people in which the peasant, being unable to obtain a livelihood from the land and to pay dues from it to the landlord (and he pays them to this very day ), was compelled to resort to “outside employments,” which at first, in the good old days, took the form either of independent occupations (for example, carting), or labour which was not independent but, owing to the poor development of these types of employment, was comparatively well paid. Under this condition the peasantry were assured of a certain well-being as compared with things today—the well-being of serfs, who peacefully vegetated under the tutelage of a hundred thousand noble police chiefs and of the nascent gatherers of Russia’s land—the bourgeoisie.
And the “friends of the people” idealise this system, simply disregarding its dark sides, dream about it—“dream,” because it has long ceased to exist, has long been destroyed by capitalism, which has given rise to the wholesale expropriation of the peasant farmers and turned the former” employments” into the unbridled exploitation of abundantly offered “hands.”
Our petty-bourgeois knights want to preserve the peasant’s “tie” with the land; but they do not want the serfdom that alone ensured this tie, and which was broken only by the commodity production and capitalism, which made this tie impossible. They want outside employments that do not take the peasant away from the land, that—while work is done for the market—do not give rise to competition, do not create capital and do not enslave the mass of the population to it. True to the subjective method in sociology, they want to “take” what is good from here and from there; but actually, of course, this childish desire only leads to reactionary dreaming which ignores realities, to an inability to understand and utilise the really progressive, revolutionary aspects of the new system, and to sympathy for measures which perpetuate the good old system of semi-serf, semi-free labour—a system that was fraught with all the horrors of exploitation and oppression, and held out no possibility of escape.
To prove the correctness of this explanation, which classes the “friends of the people” among the reactionaries, I shall quote two examples.
In the Moscow Zemstvo statistics we can read a description of the farm of a certain Madame K. (in Podolsk Uyezd), which (the farm, not the description) aroused the admiration both of the Moscow statisticians and of Mr. V. V., if my memory does not deceive me (he wrote about it, I think, in a magazine article).
This notorious farm of Madame K.’s was regarded by Mr. V. Orlov as “convincing practical confirmation” of his favourite thesis that “where peasant farming is in a sound condition, the private landowners’ farms are also better conducted.” From Mr. Orlov’s account of this lady’s estate, it appears that she runs her farm with the labour of the local peasants, who till her land in return for a winter loan of flour, etc. The lady is extraordinarily kind to these peasants and helps them, so that they are now the most prosperous in the volost and have enough grain “to last them almost until the new harvest (formerly, it did not even last until. St. Nicholas’ day).”
The question arises, does “such an arrangement” preclude “the antagonism of interests of peasant and landowner,” as Messrs. N. Kablukov (Vol. V, p. 175) and V. Orlov (Vol. II, pp. 55-59 and elsewhere) think? Obviously not, because Madame K. lives on the labour of her peasants. Hence, exploitation has not been abolished at all. Madame K. may he forgiven for failing to see the exploitation behind her kindness to the exploited, but not so an economist and statistician who, in his ecstasy over the case in question, takes up exactly the same stand as those Menschenfreunde in the West who go into ecstasies over the kindness of a capitalist to a worker, rapturously relate cases where a factory owner shows concern for his workers, provides them with general stores, dwellings, etc. To conclude from the existence (and therefore “possibility”) of such “facts” that there is no antagonism of interests, is not to see the wood for the trees. That is the first point.
The second point is that we learn from Mr. Orlov’s account that Madame K.’s peasants, “thanks to excellent crops (the landlady gave them good seed), have acquired livestock” and have “prosperous” farms. Let us assume that these “prosperous peasants” have become not “almost,” but completely prosperous, that not the “majority,” but all of them have enough grain, not “almost” until, but right until the new harvest. Let us assume that these peasants now have enough land, and that they have “cattle runs and pastures”—which they have not got at present (fine prosperity!), and which they rent from Madame K., making payment in labour. Does Mr. Orlov really believe that in that case—that is, if the peasant farming were really prosperous—these peasants would agree to “perform all the jobs on Madame K.’s estate thoroughly, punctually and swiftly,” as they do now? Or perhaps gratitude to the kind lady who sweats the life-blood out of these prosperous peasants with such maternal care will be a no less potent incentive than the hopelessness of the present condition of the peasants, who, after all, cannot dispense with pastures and cattle runs?
Evidently, the ideas of the “friends of the people” are, in essence, the same: as true petty-bourgeois ideologists, they do not want to abolish exploitation, but to mitigate it, they do not want connect, but conciliation. Their broad ideals, from the standpoint of which they so vigorously fulminate against the narrow-minded Social-Democrats, go no further than the “prosperous” peasant who performs his “duties” to the landlords and capitalists, provided the landlords and capitalists treat him fairly.
Take the other example. Mr. Yuzhakov, in his quite well-known article, “Quotas for People’s Landownership in Russia” (Russkaya Mysl, 1885, No. 9), expounded his views on what should be the dimensions of “people’s” landownership, i.e., in the terminology of our liberals, the kind of landownership that excludes capitalism and exploitation. Now, after the excellent explanation given by Mr. Krivenko, we know that he too regarded things from the standpoint of “introducing capitalism into the life of the people.” As the minimum for “people.” As landownership he took such allotments as would cover “cereal food and payments,” while the rest, he said, could be obtained by “employments.”. . . In other words, he simply resigned himself to a state of affairs in which the peasant, by maintaining connection with the land, is subjected to a double exploitation—partly by the landlord, on the “allotment,” and partly by the capitalist, in “employments.” This state of the small producers, who are subjected to a double exploitation, and whose conditions of life, moreover, are such as inevitably breed a cowed and crushed spirit, killing all hope that the oppressed class will fight, let alone be victorious—this semi-medieval condition is the nec plus ultra of the outlook and ideals of the “friends of the people.” Well then, when capitalism, which developed with tremendous rapidity throughout the whole of Russia’s post-Reform history, began to uproot this pillar of old Russia—the patriarchal, semi-serf peasantry— to drag them out of these medieval and semi-feudal conditions and to place them in a modern, purely capitalist environment, compelling them to abandon their old homes and wander over the face of Russia in search of work, breaking the chains of enslavement to the local “work-giver” and disclosing the basis of exploitation in general, of class exploitation as distinct from the depredations of a particular viper—when capitalism began to draw the rest of the peasant population, cowed and forced down to the level of cattle, en masse into the vortex of increasingly complex social and political life, then our knights began to howl and wail about the fall and destruction of the old pillars. And they continue to this day to howl and wail about the good old times, although now, it seems, one must be blind not to see the revolutionary side of this new mode of life, not to see how capitalism is creating a new social force, which has no ties with the old regime of exploitation and is in a position to fight it.
The “friends of the people,” however, show no trace of a desire for any radical change in the present system. They are entirely satisfied with liberal measures on the existing basis, and in the invention of such measures Mr. Krivenko really displays the administrative abilities of a native Jack in-office.
“Generally speaking”—he argues, about the need for a “detailed study and radical transformation” of “our people’s industry”—“this question calls for special investigation, and for the division of industries into those that can be applied to the life of the people” (sic!!) “and those whose application encounters serious obstacles.”
Mr. Krivenko himself gives us an example of such a division when he divides the various industries into those which are not capitalised, those in which capitalisation has already taken place, and those which can “contend with large-scale industry for existence.”
“In the first case,” this administrator decides, “petty production can exist freely”—but can it be free of the market, whose fluctuations split the petty producers into a bourgeoisie and a proletariat? Can it be free of the expansion of the local markets and their amalgamation into a big market? Can it be free of technical progress? Or perhaps this technical progress—under commodity production—need not be capitalistic? In the last case, the author demands the “organisation of production on a large scale too”: “Clearly,” he says, “what is needed here is the organisation of production on a large scale too, what is needed is fixed and circulating capital, machinery, etc., or something else that will counterbalance these condition: cheap credit, the elimination of superfluous middlemen, the artel form of farming and the possibility of dispensing with employers’ profit, an assured market, the invention of cheaper engines and other technical improvements, or, finally, some reduction in wages, provided it is compensated by other benefits.”
This sort of reasoning is highly characteristic of the “friends of the people,” with their broad ideals in words and their stereotyped liberalism in deeds. As you see, our philosopher starts out from nothing more nor less than the possibility of dispensing with employers’ profit and from the organisation of large-scale farming. Excellent: this is EXACTLY what the Social-Democrats want, too. But how do the “friends of the people” want to achieve it? To organise large-scale production without employers, it is necessary, first of all, to abolish the commodity organisation of social economy and to replace it by communal, communist organisation, under which production is not regulated by the market, as it is at present, but by the producers themselves, by the society of workers itself, and the means of production are owned not by private individuals, but by the whole of society. Such a change from the private to the communal form of appropriation apparently requires that the form of production first be changed, that the separate, small, isolated processes of production of petty producers be merged into a single social productive process; in a word, it requires the very material conditions which capitalism creates. But the “friends of the people” have no intention of basing themselves on capitalism. How then do they propose to act? They do not say. They do not even mention the abolition of commodity economy: evidently, their broad ideals are quite unable to transcend the bounds of this system of social production. Moreover, to abolish employers’ profit it would be necessary to expropriate the employers, who obtain their “profits” precisely because they have monopolised the means of production. And to expropriate these pillars of our fatherland, a popular revolutionary movement against the bourgeois regime is required, a movement of which only the working-class proletariat, which has no ties with this regime, is capable. But the “friends of the people” have no struggle in mind at all, and do not even suspect that other types of public men, apart from the administrative organs of the employers themselves, are possible and necessary. Clearly, they have not the slightest intention of taking any serious measures against “employers’ profit.” Mr. Krivenko simply allowed his tongue to run away with him. And he immediately corrected himself: why, such a thing as “the possibility of dispensing with employers’ profit” can be “counterbalanced”—“by something else,” namely credits, organised marketing, technical improvements. Thus everything is arranged quite satisfactorily: instead of abolishing the sacred right to “profit,” a procedure so offensive to Messrs. the employers, there appear such mild, liberal measures as will only supply capitalism with better weapons for the struggle, and will only strengthen, consolidate and develop our petty, “people’s” bourgeoisie. And so as to leave no doubt that the “friends of the people” champion the interests of this petty bourgeoisie alone, Mr. Krivenko adds the following remarkable explanation. It appears that the abolition of employers’ profit may be “counterbalanced” . . . “by a reduction in wages”!!! At first glance this seems to be sheer gibberish. But, no. It is the consistent application of petty-bourgeois ideas. The author observes a fact like the struggle between big capital and small and, as a true “friend of the people,” he, of course, takes the side of small . . . capital. He has further heard that one of the most powerful weapons of the small capitalist is wage reduction—a fact that has been quite correctly observed and confirmed in a large number of industries in Russia, too, parallel to lengthening the working day. And so, desiring at all costs to save the small . . . capitalists, he proposes “some reduction in wages, provided it is compensated by other benefits”! Messrs. the employers, about whose “profit” some queer things seemed to have been said at first, need not worry. They would, I think, be quite willing to install this brilliant administrator, who plans to fight against the employers by a reduction in wages, in the post of Minister of Finance.
One could quote another example of how the pure-blooded bourgeois peeps out of the humane and liberal administrators of Russkoye Bogatstvo as soon as they have to deal with any practical question. “The Chronicle of Home Affairs” in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 12, deals with the subject of monopoly.
“Monopoly and the syndicate,” says the author, “such are the ideals of developed industry.” And he goes on to express his surprise that these institutions are appearing in Russia, too, although there is no “keen competition among the capitalists” here. “Neither the sugar industry nor the oil industry has developed to any great extent yet. The consumption of sugar and kerosene here is still practically in the embryo, to judge by the insignificant per capita consumption of these goods here as compared with that of other countries. It would seem that there is still a very large field for the development of these branches of industry and that they could still absorb a large amount of capital.”
It is characteristic that as soon as it comes to a practical question, the author forgets the favourite idea of Russkoye Bogatstvo about the shrinking of the home market. He is compelled to admit that this market still has the prospect of tremendous development, and not of shrinkage. He arrives at this conclusion from a comparison with the West, where consumption is greater. Why? Because culture is on a higher level. But what is the material basis of this culture if not the development of capitalist technique, the growth of commodity economy and exchange, which bring people into more frequent intercourse with each other and break down the medieval isolation of the separate localities? Was not culture in France, for example, on a level no higher than ours before the Great Revolution, when the semi-medieval peasantry had still not finally split into a rural bourgeoisie and a proletariat? And if the author had examined Russian life more closely he could not have helped noticing, for example, that in localities where capitalism is developed the requirements of the peasant population are much higher than in the purely agricultural districts. This is noted unanimously by all investigators of our handicraft industries in all cases where they develop so far as to lay an industrial impress on the whole life of the population.
The “friends of the people” pay no attention to such “trifles,” because, as far as they are concerned, the explanation is “simply” culture or the growing complexity of life in general, and they do not even inquire into the material basis of this culture and this complexity. But if they were to examine, at least, the economics of our countryside they would have to admit that it is the break-up of the peasantry into a bourgeoisie and a proletariat that creates the home market.
They must think that the growth of the market does not by any means imply the growth of a bourgeoisie. “In view of the low level of development of production generally,” continues the above-mentioned chronicler of home affairs, “and the lack of enterprise and initiative, monopoly will still further retard the development of the country’s forces.” Speaking of the tobacco monopoly, the author calculates that it “would take 154,000,000 rubles out of people’s circulation.” Here sight is altogether lost of the fact that the basis of our economic system is commodity economy, the leader of which, here as everywhere else, is the bourgeoisie. And instead of speaking about the bourgeoisie being hampered by monopoly, he speaks about the “country,” instead of speaking about commodity, bourgeois circulation, he speaks about “people’s” circulation. A bourgeois is never able to detect the difference between these two terms, great as it is. To show how obvious this difference really is, I will quote a magazine which is an authority in the eyes of the “friends of the people,” namely, Otechestvenniye Zapiski. In No. 2 of that magazine, 1872, in the article “The Plutocracy and Its Basis,” we read the following:
“According to Marlo, the most important characteristic of the plutocracy is its love for a liberal form of government, or at all events for the principle of freedom of acquisition. If we take this characteristic and recall what the position was some eight or ten years ago, we shall find that in respect of liberalism we have made enormous strides. . . . No matter what newspaper or magazine you take up, they all seem more or less to represent democratic principles, they are all out for the interests of the people. But side by side with these democratic views, and even under the cloak of them” (mark this), “time and again, intentionally or unintentionally, plutocratic aspirations are pursued.”
The author quotes as an example the address presented by St. Petersburg and Moscow merchants to the Minister of Finance, expressing the gratitude of this most venerable body of the Russian bourgeoisie for his having “based the financial position of Russia on the widest possible expansion of private enterprise, which alone is fruitful.” And the author of the article concludes: “Plutocratic elements and proclivities undoubtedly exist in our society, and in plenty.”
As you see, your predecessors in the distant past, when the impressions of the great emancipatory Reform (which, as Mr. Yuzhakov has discovered, should have opened up peaceful and proper paths of development for “people’s” production, but which in fact only opened up paths for the development of a plutocracy) were still vivid and fresh, were themselves forced to admit the plutocratic, i.e., bourgeois character of private enterprise in Russia.
Why have you forgotten this? Why, when you talk about “people’s” circulation and the development of the “country’s forces” thanks to the development of “enterprise and initiative,” do you not mention the antagonistic character of this development, the exploiting character of this enterprise and this initiative? Opposition to monopolies and similar institutions can, and should, of course, be expressed, for they undoubtedly worsen the condition of the working people; but it must not be forgotten that besides all these medieval fetters the working people are shackled by still stronger ones, by modern, bourgeois fetters. Undoubtedly, the abolition of monopolies would be beneficial to the whole “people,” because, bourgeois economy having become the basis of the economic life of the country, these survivals of the medieval system only add to the capitalist miseries still more bitter medieval miseries. Undoubtedly, they must definitely be abolished—and the quicker and more radically, the better—in order, by ridding bourgeois society of its inherited semi-feudal fetters, to untie the hands of the working class, to facilitate its struggle against the bourgeoisie.
That is how one should talk, calling a spade a spade—saying that the abolition of monopolies and of all sorts of other medieval restrictions (and in Russia their name is legion) is absolutely essential for the working class in order to facilitate its struggle against the bourgeois system. That is all. None but a bourgeois could see only the solidarity of the interests of the whole “people” against medieval, feudal institutions and forget the profound and irreconcilable antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat within this “people.”
Incidentally, it would be absurd to think of putting the “friends of the people” to shame with this, when, for example, they say things like the following about the needs of the countryside:
“When, a few years ago,” Mr. Krivenko informs us, “certain newspapers discussed what professions and what type of intellectual people the countryside needed, the list proved to be a very long and varied one and embraced nearly every walk of life: men and women doctors were followed by feldshers, then came lawyers, followed by teachers, librarians and booksellers, agronomists, forestry experts and agricultural experts generally, technicians of the most varied branches (a very extensive sphere, almost untouched as yet), organisers and managers of credit institutions, warehouses, etc.”
Let us stop to consider, say, those “intellectuals” (??) whose activities directly pertain to the economic sphere, all those forestry experts, agricultural experts, technicians, etc. And how these people are needed in the countryside! But in WHAT countryside? It goes without saying in the countryside of the landowners, the countryside of the enterprising muzhiks, who have “savings” and can afford to pay for the services of all these “technicians” whom Mr. Krivenko is pleased to call “intellectuals.” This countryside has, indeed, long been thirsting for technicians, for credits, for warehouses; all our economic literature testifies to this. But there is another countryside, much larger, and it would not harm the “friends of the people” to think of it a little more often; it is the countryside of the ruined, ragged and fleeced peasants, who not only have no ”savings” with which to pay for the labour of “intellectuals,” but have not even bread enough to save themselves from starvation. And it is this countryside that you want to assist with warehouses!! What will our one-horse and horseless peasants put in them? Their clothes? They pawned them as far back as 1891 to the rural and urban kulaks who at that time, in fulfilment of your humane and liberal recipe, set up regular “warehouses” in their homes, taverns, and shops. All they have left is their “hands”; but even the Russian bureaucrats have so far failed to invent “warehouses” for this sort of commodity....
It would be hard to imagine more striking proof of the utter banality of these “democrats” than this sentimentality about technical progress among the “peasantry” and closing of eyes to the wholesale expropriation of this very “peasantry.” For example, in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 2 (“Sketches,” §XII), Mr. Karyshev, with the fervour of a liberal cretin, tells of cases of “perfections and improvements” in peasant farming—of the “spread on peasant farms of improved sorts of seed,” such as American oats, Vasa rye, Clydesdale oats, etc. “In some places the peasants set special plots apart for seed and after careful tilling, they hand plant selected samples of grain on them.” “Many and very varied innovations” are noted “in the sphere of improved implements and machines,” such as cultivators, light ploughs, threshing-machines, winnowing-machines, seed sorters. Mention is made of “a greater variety of fertilisers”— phosphates, glue waste, pigeon manure, etc. “Correspondents urge the necessity for setting up local Zemstvo stores in the villages for the sale of phosphates—and Mr. Karyshev, quoting from Mr. V. V.’s book, Progressive Trends in Peasant Farming (Mr. Krivenko also refers to this book), is affected by all this touching progress almost to the point of fervour:
“These reports, which we have been able to give only in brief, make a heartening and at the same time saddening impression. . . . Heartening, because these people, impoverished, debt-laden, very many of them horseless, work with might and main, do not give way to despair, do not change their occupation, but remain true to the land, realising that in it, in the proper treatment of it, lies their future, their strength, their wealth.” (Why, of course! It goes without saying that it is just the impoverished and horseless muzhik who buys phosphates, seed sorters, threshing-machines and Clydesdale oat seed! 0, sancta simplicitas! And this is not written by a ladies’ college damsel, but by a professor, a Doctor of Political Economy! No, say what you like, it can’t all be due to sacred simplicity.) “They are feverishly searching for ways of effecting that proper treatment, searching for new ways, methods of cultivation, seed, implements, fertilisers, everything that will lend fertility to the soil that feeds them and that will sooner or later reward them a hundredfold.... Saddening, because” (perhaps you think that here at least this “friend of the people” mentions the wholesale expropriation of the peasantry that accompanies and engenders the concentration of land in the hands of the enterprising muzhiks, its conversion into capital, into the basis of improved farming—the expropriation that throws on the market the “free” and “cheap” “hands” which make for the success of native “enterprise” which employs all these threshing-machines, seed sorters and winnowing-machines?—Nothing of the kind!) “because . . . it is we ourselves who must be roused. Where is our aid to the muzhik who is striving to improve his farming? We have at our disposal science, literature, museums, warehouses, commission agencies.” (Yes, gentlemen, that’s how he puts them, side by side: “science” and “commission agencies.”. . . The time to study the “friends of the people” is not when they are fighting the Social-Democrats, because on such occasions they don a uniform sewn from tatters of their “fathers’ ideals,” but in their everyday clothes, when they are discussing in detail the affairs of daily life. Then you get the full colour and flavour of these petty-bourgeois ideologists.) “Is there anything of that sort at the disposal of the muzhik? Of course, there are the rudiments of them, but somehow they are developing very slowly. The muzhik wants an example—where are our experimental fields, our model farms? The muzhik is seeking the printed word—where is our popular agronomic literature?. . . The muzhik is seeking fertilisers, implements, seed—where are our Zemstvo stores for all these things, wholesale buying, purchasing and distributing conveniences?. . . Where are you, men of affairs, private and Zemstvo? Go forth and work, the time for it has long been ripe, and
Hearty thanks will be your meed
From Russia’s people!”
—N. Karyshev (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 2, p. 19.)
Here they are, these friends of the petty “people’s” bourgeoisie, revelling in their petty-bourgeois progress!
One would think that, even apart from an analysis of our rural economy, it is enough to observe this striking fact in our modern economic history—namely, the generally-noted progress in peasant farming, parallel to the tremendous expropriation of the “peasantry”—to become convinced of the absurdity of picturing the “peasantry” as a single harmonious and homogeneous whole, to become convinced of the bourgeois character of all this progress! But the “friends of the people” remain deaf to all this. Having lost the good features of the old Russian social-revolutionary Narodism, they cling tightly to one of its grave errors—its failure to understand the class antagonism within the peasantry.
“The peasantist [Narodnik] of ’the seventies,’” Hourwich aptly remarks, “had no idea of class antagonism with in the ranks of the peasantry themselves, regarding it as confined entirely to the ’exploiter’—kulak or miroyed—and his victim, the peasant imbued with the communistic spirit. Gleb Uspensky stood alone in his scepticism, opposing his ironical smile to the universal illusion. With his perfect knowledge of the peasantry, and his extraordinary artistic talent that penetrated to the very heart of the phenomena, he did not fail to see that individualism had become the basis of economic relations, not only as between the usurer and the debtor, but among the peasants at large. Cf. his article “Casting in One Mould” (Ravneniye pod odno), Russkaya Mysl, 1882, No. 1.” (Op. cit., p. 106.)
It was pardonable and even natural to succumb to this illusion in the sixties and seventies, when relatively accurate information about rural economy was so scarce, and when the differentiation of the peasantry had not yet become so marked, but today one must deliberately close one’s eyes not to see this differentiation. It is extremely characteristic that it is precisely of late, when the ruin of the peasantry seems to have reached its peak, that one hears so much on all sides about progressive trends in peasant farming. Mr. V. V. (also a most indubitable “friend of the people”) has written a whole book on this subject. And you cannot accuse him of factual inaccuracy. On the contrary, the technical, agronomical progress of the peasantry is an undoubted fact, but so is the fact of the wholesale expropriation of the peasantry. And there you are—the “friends of the people” concentrate all their attention on the fact that the “muzhik” is feverishly searching for new methods of cultivation to help him fertilise the soil that feeds him—losing sight of the reverse side of the medal, namely, the feverish separation of that very “muzhik” from the soil. They bury their heads in the sand like ostriches so as to avoid looking facts in the face, so as not to notice that they are witnessing the process of the transformation into capital of the land from which the peasant is being separated, the process of creation of a home market. Try to disprove the existence of these two opposite processes among our community peasantry, try to explain them in any other way than by the bourgeois character of our society! That would be too much! Chanting hallelujahs and effusing humanitarian and benevolent phrases are the alpha and omega of their “science,” of their whole political “activity.”
And they even elevate this modest, liberal patching up of the present order to a regular philosophy. “Minor, genuine activity,” says Mr. Krivenko, with an air of profundity, “is much better than major inactivity.” How new and clever! Moreover, he goes on to say, “minor activity is by no means synonymous with minor purpose.” And as examples of such ”extension of activity,” when minor performance becomes “proper and good,” he quotes the work of a certain lady in organising schools, lawyers’ activities among the peasants eliminating pettifoggers, lawyers’ plans to accompany circuit courts into the provinces to act as defendant’s counsel, and, lastly, what we have already heard about, the organisation of handicraftsmen’s warehouses: in this case the extension of activity (to the dimensions of a great purpose) is to consist in opening warehouses “by the combined efforts of the Zemstvos in the busiest centres.”
All this, of course, is very lofty, humane and liberal—“liberal,” because it will free the bourgeois economic system from all its medieval handicaps and thus make it easier for the worker to fight the system itself, which, of course, will be strengthened rather than hurt by such measures; and we have long been reading about all this in all Russian liberal publications. It would not be worth opposing it if the Russkoye Bogatstvo gentlemen did not compel us to do so; they began advancing these “modest beginnings of liberalism” AGAINST the Social-Democrats and, as a lesson to them, simultaneously rebuking them for renouncing “the ideals of their fathers.” That being the case, we cannot help saying that it is, at the very least, amusing to oppose the Social-Democrats with proposals and suggestions for such moderate and meticulous liberal (that is, bourgeois-serving) activity. As for the fathers and their ideals, it should be said that however erroneous and utopian the old theories of the Russian Narodniks were, at all events they were ABSOLUTELY opposed to such “modest beginnings of liberalism.” I have borrowed the latter expression from Mr. N. K. Mikhailovsky’s article “About the Russian Edition of K. Marx’s Book” (Otechestvenniye Zapiski, 1872, No. 4)—an article written in a very lively and brisk style (compared with his present writings), and strongly protesting against the proposal not to offend our young liberals.
But that was long ago, so long ago that the “friends of the people” have managed to forget all about it, and have glaringly demonstrated, by their tactics, that when there is no materialist criticism of political institutions, and when the class character of the modern state is not understood, it is only one step from political radicalism to political opportunism.
Here are a few examples of this opportunism.
“The transformation of the Ministry of State Properties into the Ministry of Agriculture,” declares Mr. Yuzhakov, “may profoundly influence the course of our economic development, but it may also prove to be nothing but a reshuffling of officials” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10.)
Everything depends, consequently, on who will be “called upon”—the friends of the people or the representatives of the interests of the landlords and capitalists. The interests themselves need not be touched.
“The protection of the economically weak from the economically strong is the first natural task of state interference,” continues this same Mr. Yuzhakov in the same article; and he is supported in the same terms by the chronicler of home affairs in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 2. And so as to leave no doubt that his interpretation of this philanthropic nonsense is the same as that of his worthy associates, the West-European liberal and radical petty-bourgeois ideologists, he at once adds:
“Gladstone’s Land Bills, Bismarck’s workers’ insurance, factory inspection, the idea of our Peasants’ Bank, the organisation of migration, measures against the kulak—all these are attempts to apply this same principle of state interference for the protection of the economically weak.”
This at least has the merit of being frank. The author bluntly states that, like the Gladstones and Bismarcks, he wants to adhere to the present social relations, like them he wants to patch up and darn present-day society (bourgeois society—something he does not understand any more than the West-European followers of the Gladstones and Bismarcks do), and not combat it. In complete harmony with this, their fundamental theoretical tenet, is the fact that they regard as an instrument of reform an organ which has its basis in this present-day society and protects the interests of its ruling classes—the state. They positively believe the state to be omnipotent and above all classes, and expect that it will not only “assist” the working people, but create a real and proper system as we have heard from Mr. Krivenko). But then, of course, nothing else is to be expected of them, dyed-in-the-wool petty-bourgeois ideologists that they are. For it is one of the fundamental and characteristic features of the petty bourgeoisie—one, incidentally, which makes it a reactionary class—that the petty producers, disunited and isolated by the very conditions of production and tied down to a definite place and to a definite exploiter, cannot understand the class character of the exploitation and oppression from which they suffer, and suffer sometimes no less than the proletarian; they can not understand that in bourgeois society the state too is bound to be a class state.
Why is it then, most worthy “friends of the people,” that till now—and with particular energy since this very emancipatory Reform—our government has “supported, protected and created” only the bourgeoisie and capitalism? Why is it that such unseemly conduct on the part of this absolute, allegedly supraclass, government has coincided precisely with a historical period characterised in the country’s internal life by the development of commodity economy, commerce and industry? Why do you consider these latter changes in internal life to be the effect and the government’s policy the cause, despite the fact that these changes were so deep down in society that the government did not even notice them and put innumerable obstacles in their way, and despite the fact that this very same “absolute” government, under other conditions of internal life, “supported,” “protected” and “created” another class?
Oh, the “friends of the people” never concern themselves with such questions! All this, you see, is materialism, dialectics, “Hegelianism,” “mysticism and metaphysics.” They simply think that if you plead with this government nicely enough and humbly enough, it will put everything right. And as far as humbleness is concerned, one must do Russkoye Bogatstvo justice: truly, it stands out even among the Russian liberal press for its inability to display the slightest independence. Judge for yourselves:
“The abolition of the salt tax, the abolition of the poll tax and the reduction of the land redemption payments” are described by Mr. Yuzhakov as “a considerable relief to people’s farming.” Well, of course! But was not the abolition of the salt tax accompanied by the imposition of a host of new indirect taxes and an increase in the old ones? Was not the abolition of the poll-tax accompanied by an increase in the payments made by the former state peasants, under guise of placing them on a redemption basis? And is there not even now, after the famous reduction of redemption payments (by which the government did not even return to the peasants the profit it had made out of the redemption operations), a discrepancy between the payments and the income from the land, i.e., a direct survival of feudal quit-rent? Never mind! What is important, you see, is “the first step,” the “principle.” As for the rest . . . the rest we can plead for later on!
These, however, are only the blossoms. Now for the fruit.
“The eighties eased the people’s burden” (that’s by the above measures!) “and thus saved them from utter ruin.”
This is another phrase classic for its shameless servility, one that can only be placed, say, alongside Mr. Mikhailovsky’s statement, quoted above, that we have still to create a proletariat. One cannot help recalling in this connection Shchedrin’s incisive description of the evolution of the Russian liberal! This liberal starts out by pleading with the authorities to grant reforms “as far as possible,” then he goes on to beg for “well, at least something,” and ends by taking up an eternal and unshakable stand on “anything, however mean.” And what else can one say of the “friends of the people” but that they have adopted this eternal and unshakable stand when, fresh from the impressions of a famine affecting millions of people, towards which the government’s attitude was first one of a huckster’s stinginess and then of a huckster’s cowardice, they say in print that the government has saved the people from utter ruin!! Several years more will pass, marked by the still more rapid expropriation of the peasantry; the government, in addition to establishing a Ministry of Agriculture, will abolish one or two direct and impose several new indirect taxes; the famine will then affect 40 million people—and these gentlemen will write in the same old way: you see, 40 and not 50 million are starving, that is because the government has eased the people’s burden and has saved them from utter ruin; it is because the government has hearkened to the “friends of the people” and established a Ministry of Agriculture!
In Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 2, the chronicler of home affairs arguing that Russia is “fortunately” (sic!) a backward country, “which has preserved elements that enable her to base her economic system on the principle of solidarity,” says that she is therefore able to act “in international affairs as an exponent of economic solidarity” and that Russia’s chances for this are enhanced by her undeniable “political might”!!
It is the gendarme of Europe, that constant and most reliable bulwark of all reaction, who has reduced the Russian people, themselves oppressed at home, to the shameful position of serving as an instrument for oppressing the peoples in the West—it is this gendarme who is described as an exponent of economic solidarity!
This is indeed beyond all limit! Messrs. the “friends of the people” will outdo all liberals. They not only plead with the government, they not only eulogise it, they positively pray to it, pray with such obeisance, with such zeal that a stranger cannot help feeling eerie at the sound of their loyal foreheads cracking on the flagstones.
Do you remember the German definition of a philistine?
Was ist der Philister?
Ein hohler Darm,
Voll Furcht und Hoffnung,
Dass Gott erbarm.
This definition does not quite apply to our affairs. God ... God takes a back seat with us. But the authorities ... that’s a different matter. And if in this definition we substitute the word “authorities” for the word “God” we shall get an exact description of the ideological stock in-trade, the moral level and the civic courage of the Russian humane and liberal “friends of the people.”
To this absolutely preposterous view of the government, the “friends of the people” add a corresponding attitude toward the so-called “intelligentsia.” Mr. Krivenko writes: “Literature . . .” should “appraise phenomena according to their social meaning and encourage every active effort to do good. It has harped, and continues to harp, on the shortage of teachers, doctors, technicians, on the fact that the people are sick, poor” (there are few technicians), “illiterate, etc.; and when people come forward who are weary of sitting at card tables, participating in private theatricals and eating sturgeon patties at parties given by Marshals of Nobility, and who go out to work with rare self-sacrifice and in face of numerous obstacles” (think of it: they have sacrificed card tables, theatricals and patties!), “literature should welcome them.”
Two pages later, with the business-like air of an old campaigner grown wise by experience, he reproves those who “wavered when confronted with the question whether or not to accept office as Zemsky Nachalniks, town mayors, or chairmen or members of Zemstvo Boards under the new regulations. In a society with a developed consciousness of civic requirements and duties” (really, gentlemen, this is as good as the speeches of famous Russian lacks-in-office like the Baranovs and Kosiches!), “such wavering and such an attitude to affairs would be inconceivable, because it would assimilate in its own way every reform that had any vital side to it at all, that is, would take advantage of and develop those sides of the reform that are expedient; as to the undesirable sides, it would convert them into a dead letter; and if there were nothing whatever vital in the reform it would remain an entirely alien body.”
What on earth do you make of that! What miserable twopenny-ha’penny opportunism, what indulgence in self admiration! The task of literature is to collect all the drawing-room gossip about the wicked Marxists, to bow and cringe to the government for saving the people from utter ruin, to welcome people who have grown weary of sitting at card tables, to teach the “public” not to fight shy even of such posts as that of Zemsky Nachalnik. . . . What is this I am reading—Nedelya, or Novoye Vremya? No, it is Russkoye Bogatstvo, the organ of the advanced Russian democrats. . . .
And such gentlemen talk about the “ideals of their fathers,” claim that they, and they alone, guard the traditions of the days when France poured the ideas of socialism all over Europe—and when, in Russia, the assimilation of these ideas produced the theories and teachings of Herzen and Chernyshevsky. This is a downright disgrace and would be positively outrageous and offensive—if Russkoye Bogatstvo were not so utterly amusing, if such statements in the columns of a magazine of this type did not arouse Homeric laughter, and nothing else. Yes, indeed, you are besmirching those ideals! What were actually the ideals of the first Russian socialists, the socialists of the epoch which Kautsky so aptly described in the words:
“When every socialist was a poet and every poet a socialist.”
Faith in a special social order, in the communal system of Russian life; hence—faith in the possibility of a peasant socialist revolution—that is what inspired them and roused dozens and hundreds of people to wage a heroic struggle against the government. And you, you cannot reproach the Social-Democrats with failing to appreciate the immense historical services of these, the finest people of their day, with failing to respect their memory profoundly. But I ask you, where is that faith now? It has vanished. So utterly, that when Mr. V. V. tried to argue last year that the village community trains the people to common effort and is a centre of altruistic sentiments, etc., even Mr. Mikhailovsky’s conscience was pricked and he shamefacedly began to lecture Mr. V. V. and to point out that “no investigation has shown a connection between our village community and altruism.” And, indeed, no investigation has. Yet there was a time when people had faith, implicit faith, without making any investigation.
How? Why? On what grounds?...
“Every socialist was a poet and every poet a socialist.”
Moreover, adds the same Mr. Mikhailovsky, all conscientious investigators agree that the countryside is splitting up, giving rise, on the one hand, to a mass of proletarians, and, on the other, to a handful of “kulaks” who keep the rest of the population under their heel. And again he is right: the countryside is indeed splitting up. Nay more, the countryside long ago split up completely. And the old Russian peasant socialism split up with it, making way for workers’ socialism, on the one hand, and degenerating into vulgar petty-bourgeois radicalism, on the other. This change cannot be described as anything but degeneration. From the doctrine that peasant life is a special social order and that our country has taken an exceptional path of development, there has emerged a sort of diluted eclecticism, which can no longer deny that commodity economy has become the basis of economic development and has grown into capitalism, but which refuses to see the bourgeois character of all the relations of production, refuses to see the necessity of the class struggle under this system. From a political programme calculated to arouse the peasantry for the socialist revolution against the foundations of modern society there has emerged a programme calculated to patch up, to “improve” the conditions of the peasantry while preserving the foundations of modern society.
Strictly speaking, all this should already suffice to give an idea of the kind of “criticism” to be expected from these gentlemen of Russkoye Bogatstvo when they undertake to “demolish” the Social-Democrats. They do not make the slightest attempt to give a straightforward and conscientious exposition of the Social-Democrats’ conception of Russian realities (they could quite well do so, and get round the censorship, if they laid special stress on the economic side and kept to the general, partly allegorical terms in which they have conducted all their “polemics”) and to argue against its substance, to argue against the correctness of the practical conclusions drawn from it. They prefer instead to confine themselves to the most vacuous phrases about abstract schemes and belief in them, about the conviction that every country has to pass through the phase . . . and similar nonsense, with which we have already become sufficiently familiar in the case of Mr. Mikhailovsky. Often we get downright distortions. Mr. Krivenko, for example, declares that Marx “admitted that, if we desired it” (?!! So, according to Marx, the evolution of social and economic relations depends on human will and consciousness?? What is this—abysmal ignorance or unparalleled effrontery?!), “and acted accordingly, we could avoid the vicissitudes of capitalism and proceed by a different and more expedient path (sic!!!).”
Our knight was able to talk such nonsense by indulging in deliberate distortion. Citing the passage from the well known “K. Marx’s Letter” )Yuridichesky Vestnik, 1888, No. 10), where Marx speaks of his high esteem for Chernyshevsky, who thought it possible for Russia not to “undergo the tortures of the capitalist system,” Mr. Krivenko closes the quotation marks, i.e., ends the reproduction of what Marx actually said (the last words of which were: “he [Chernyshevsky] pronounces in favour of this latter solution”)— and adds: “And I, says Marx, share” (Krivenko’s italics) “these views” (p. 186, No. 12).
What Marx actually said was this: “And my honourable critic would have had at least as much reason for inferring from my esteem for this ’great Russian scholar and critic’ that I shared his views on the question, as for concluding from my polemic against the Russian ‘literary man’ and Pan-Slavist that I rejected them.” (Yuridichesky Vestnik, 1888, No. 10, p. 271.)
And so Marx said that Mr. Mikhailovsky had no right to regard him as an opponent of the idea of Russia’s special line of development because he also respected those who held this idea; but Mr. Krivenko misconstrues this to mean that Marx “admitted” this special line of development. This is an out-and-out distortion. Marx’s statement quoted above shows quite clearly that he evaded the question as such: “Mr. Mikhailovsky could have taken as a basis either of the two contradictory remarks, i.e., he had no grounds for basing his conclusions as to my views on Russian affairs in general on either of them.” And in order that these remarks should provide no occasion for misinterpretation, Marx, in this very same “letter,” gave a direct reply to the question of how his theory could be applied to Russia. This reply very clearly shows that Marx avoided answering the question as such, avoided examining Russian data, which alone could decide the question: “If Russia,” he replied, “is tending to become a capitalist nation on the pattern of the West European countries—and during the last years she has been taking much trouble in this respect—she will not succeed without having first transformed a good part of her peasants into proletarians.”
This, I think, is perfectly clear: the question was whether Russia was tending to become a capitalist nation, whether the ruin of her peasants was the process of the creation of a capitalist system, of a capitalist proletariat; and Marx says that “if” she was so tending, she would have to transform a good part of her peasants into proletarians. In other words, Marx’s theory is to investigate and explain the evolution of the economic system of certain countries, and its “application” to Russia can be only the INVESTIGATION of Russian production relations and their evolution, EMPLOYING the established practices of the MATERIALIST method and of THEORETICAL political economy.
The elaboration of a new theory of methodology and political economy marked such gigantic progress in social science, such a tremendous advance for socialism, that almost immediately after the appearance of Capital “the destiny of capitalism in Russia” became the principal theoretical problem for Russian socialists; the most heated debates raged around this problem, and the most important points of programme were decided in accordance with it. And it is noteworthy that when (some ten years ago) a separate group of socialists appeared who answered in the affirmative the question of whether Russia’s evolution was capitalist, and based this answer on the data of Russian economic reality, it encountered no direct and definite criticism of the point at issue, no criticism which accepted the same general methodological and theoretical principles and gave a different explanation of the data.
The “friends of the people,” who have launched a veritable crusade against the Marxists, likewise do not argue their case by examining the facts. As we saw in the first article, they dispose of the matter with phrases. Mr. Mikhailovsky, moreover, never misses an opportunity to display his wit about the Marxists lacking unanimity and about their failure to agree among themselves. And “our well known” N. K. Mikhailovsky laughs heartily over his joke about Marxists “real” and “not real.” It is true that complete unanimity does not reign among the Marxists. But, firstly, Mr. Mikhailovsky misrepresents this fact; and, secondly, it demonstrates the strength and vitality of Russian Social-Democracy and not its weakness. A particularly characteristic feature of the recent period is that socialists are arriving at Social-Democratic views by various paths and for that reason, while unreservedly agreeing on the fundamental and principal thesis that Russia is a bourgeois society which has grown out of the feudal system, that its political form is a class state, and that the only way to end the exploitation of the working people is through the class struggle of the proletariat—they differ on many particular problems both in their methods of argument and in the detailed interpretation of this or that phenomenon of Russian life. I can therefore delight Mr. Mikhailovsky in advance by stating that, within the limits of the above-mentioned thesis, which is fundamental and common to all Social-Democrats, differences of opinion exist also on the problems that have been touched upon in these cursory notes, for example, the peasant Reform, the economics of peasant farming and handicraft industries, land renting, etc. The unanimity of people who content themselves with the unanimous acceptance of “lofty truths” such as: the peasant Reform might open for Russia peaceful paths of proper development; the state might call, not upon the representatives of capitalist interests, but upon the “friends of the people”; the village community might socialise agriculture and manufacturing industry, which might be developed into large-scale production by the handicraftsman; people’s land renting supports people’s farming—this touching and moving unanimity has been replaced by disagreements among persons who are seeking for an explanation of Russia’s actual, present economic organisation as a system of definite production relations, for an explanation of her actual economic evolution, of her political and all other types of superstructure.
And if such work—while leading people from different angles to the acceptance of the common position which undoubtedly dictates joint political action and consequently confers on all who accept it the right and duty to call them selves “SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS”—still leaves a wide field for differences of opinion on a host of particular problems open to various solutions, it merely demonstrates, of course, the strength and vitality of Russian Social-Democracy.
Moreover, it would be hard to imagine anything more difficult than the conditions under which this work is being done: there is not, nor can there be, an organ to unite the various aspects of the work; in view of prevailing police conditions, private intercourse is extremely difficult. It is only natural that Social-Democrats cannot properly discuss and reach agreement on details, that they contradict each other. . . .
This is indeed funny, is it not?
Mr. Krivenko’s references, in his “polemic” against the Social-Democrats, to “neo-Marxists” may cause some perplexity. Some readers may think that something in the nature of a split has taken place among the Social-Democrats, and that “neo-Marxists” have broken away from the old Social-Democrats. Nothing of the kind. At no time or place has anybody in a public defence of Marxism criticised the theories and programme of Russian Social-Democracy, or advocated any other kind of Marxism. The fact is that Messrs. Krivenko and Mikhailovsky have been listening to drawing-room gossip about the Marxists, have been observing various liberals who use Marxism to cover up their liberal inanity, and, with their characteristic cleverness and tact, have set out with this stock-in-trade to “criticise” the Marxists. It is not surprising that this “criticism” consists of a regular chain of absurdities and filthy attacks.
“To be consistent,” argues Mr. Krivenko, “we should give an affirmative answer to this” (to the question: “should we not strive for the development of capitalist industry?”), and “not shrink from buying up peasants’ land or opening shops and taverns”; we should “rejoice at the success of the numerous inn-keepers in the Duma and assist the still more numerous buyers-up of the peasants’ grain.”
Really, that is amusing. Try to tell such a “friend of the people” that everywhere in Russia the exploitation of the working people is by its nature capitalistic, that the enterprising muzhiks and buyers-up should be classed among the representatives of capitalism because of such and such political-economic features, which prove the bourgeois character of the splitting up of the peasantry—why, he would raise a howl, call it outrageous heresy, shout about the indiscriminate borrowing of West-European formulas and abstract schemes (while at the same time most carefully evading the actual meaning of the “heretical” argument). But when pictures of the “horrors” caused by the wicked Marxists have to be painted, lofty science and pure ideals may be left aside, and it may be admitted that buyers-up of peasants’ grain and peasants’ land really are representatives of capitalism, and not merely “hankerers” after other people’s goods.
Try and prove to this “friend of the people” that not only are the Russian bourgeoisie already in control of the people’s labour everywhere, due to the concentration of the means of production in their hands alone, but they also bring pressure to bear upon the government, initiating, compelling and determining the bourgeois character of its policy—why, he would fly into a real rage, begin to shout about the omnipotence of our government, about fatal misunderstanding and unlucky chance alone causing it always to “call upon” representatives of the interests of capitalism and not upon the “friends of the people,” about its artificially implanting capitalism. . . . But on the sly they are themselves compelled to recognise as representatives of capitalism the inn-keepers in the Duma, i.e., one of the elements of this very government that is supposed to stand above classes. But, gentlemen, are the interests of capitalism in Russia represented only in the “Duma,” and only by ”inn-keepers”?. . .
As to filthy attacks, we have had quite enough of them from Mr. Mikhailovsky, and we get them again from Mr. Krivenko, who, for example, in his eagerness to annihilate the hated Social-Democracy, relates that “some go into the factories (when, of course, they can get soft jobs as technicians or office workers), claiming that their sole purpose is to accelerate the capitalist process.” There is no need, of course, to reply to such positively indecent statements. All we can do is to put a full stop here.
Keep on in the same spirit, gentlemen, keep boldly on! The imperial government, the one which, as you have just told us, has already taken measures (even though they have flaws in them) to save the people from utter ruin, will take measures, this time without any flaws whatever, to save your banality and ignorance from exposure. “Cultured society” will gladly continue as hitherto, in the intervals between sturgeon patties and the card table, to talk about the “younger brother” and to devise humane projects for “improving” his condition; its representatives will be pleased to learn from you that by taking up positions as Zemsky Nachalniks or other supervisors of the peasants’ purses they display a developed consciousness of civic requirements and duties. Keep on! You may be certain not only of being left in peace but even of approval and praise . . . from the lips of the Messrs. Burenins.
 This idea—of utilising credit to foster “people’s farming,” i.e., the farming of petty producers, where capitalist relations exist (and the ”friends of the people,” as we have already seen, can no longer deny that they do exist)—this meaningless idea, which reveals an inability to understand the elementary truths of theoretical political economy, quite clearly shows how vulgar is the theory advanced by these gentlemen who try to sit between two stools. —Lenin
 I say the rich will buy the shares, despite the author’s stipulation that the shares shall be owned by the communities, because, after all, he speaks of the purchase of shares with money, which only the rich have. Hence, whether the business is conducted through the agency of the communities or not, only the rich will be able to pay, just as the purchase or renting of land by the community in no way prevents the rich from monopolising this land. The dividends too must go to those who have paid—otherwise the shares will not be shares. And I understand the author’s proposal to mean that a certain part of the profits will be earmarked for ”guaranteeing the workers their tie with the land.” If the author does not mean this (although it inevitably follows from what he says), but that the rich shall pay for the shares and not receive dividends, then all his scheme amounts to is that the rich shall share with the poor. This reminds one of the anecdote about the fly-killer which requires that you first catch the fly and put it in the dish—and it will die instantly. —Lenin
 Philanthropists. –Ed. —Lenin
 To show the relation between these outlays and the rest of the peasant budget, let me quote again the 24 budgets of Ostrogozhsk Uyezd. The average expenditure per family is 495.39 rubles (in kind and in cash). Of this, 109.10 rubles go for the maintenance of cattle, 135.80 rubles are spent on vegetable food and taxes, and the remaining 250.49 rubles on other expenses—non-vegetable food, clothes, implements, rent, etc. Mr. Yozhakov allows the hay-fields and other grounds to account for the maintenance of cattle. —Lenin
 As an example let me refer, say, to the Pavlovo handicraftsmen as compared to the peasants of the surrounding villages. See the works of Grigoryev and Annensky. I again deliberately give the example of the countryside in which a specific “people’s system” supposedly exists. —Lenin
 The author must be particularly blamed for this use of terms because Russkoye Bogatstvo loves the word “people’s” as opposed to bourgeois. —Lenin
 I remind the reader of how these improved implements are distributed in Novouzensk Uyezd: 37% of the peasants (the poor) or 10,000 out of 28,000 households, have 7 implements out of $,724 that is, one-eighth of one per cent! Four-fifths of the implements are monopolised by the rich, who constitute only one-fourth of the total households. —Lenin
 You are profoundly right venerable Mr. Professor, when you say that improved farming will reward a hundredfold the “people” who do not “give way to despair” and “remain true to the land.” But have you not observed, O, great Doctor of Political Economy, that to acquire all these phosphates and so on, the “muzhik” must stand out from among the mass of the starving poor in having spare money—and money, after all, is a product of social labour that falls into private hands; that the appropriation of the “reward” for improved farming will be the appropriation of other people’s labour; and that only the most contemptible hangers-on of the bourgeoisie can see the source of this abundant reward in the personal effort of the husbandman, who “working with might and main,” “fertilises the soil that feeds him”? —Lenin
 There have arisen opposite social classes within the village community,” says Hourwich elsewhere (p. 104). I quote Hourwich only to supplement the facts given above. —Lenin
 The reason the search for new methods of cultivation” is becoming “feverish” that the enterprising muzhik has to run a larger farm, and cannot cope with it by the old methods; that he is compelled by competition to seek new methods, inasmuch as agriculture is increasingly acquiring a commodity, bourgeois character.—Lenin
 It is nonsense because the strength of the “economically strong” lies, among other things, in his possession of political power. Without it he could not maintain his economic rule. —Lenin
 That is why the “friends of the people” are arch-reactionaries when they say that it is the state’s natural task to protect the economically weak (that is what it should be according to their banal old wives’ morality), whereas Russia’s entire history and home policy testify that the task of our state is to protect only the feudal landlords and the big bourgeoisie, and to punish with the utmost brutality every attempt of the “economically weak” to stand up for their rights. And that, of course, is its natural task, because absolutism and the bureaucracy are thoroughly saturated with the feudal bourgeois spirit, and because in the economic sphere the bourgeoisie hold undivided sway and keep the workers “as quiet as lambs.” —Lenin
 Between whom? The landlord and the peasant, the enterprising muzhik and the tramp, the mill owner and the worker? To understand what this classical “principle of solidarity” means, we must remember that solidarity between the employer and the workman is achieved by “a reduction in wages.” —Lenin
 What is a philistine? A hollow gut, full of fear and of hope in God’s mercy (Goethe).—Ed.
 That, substantially, was what all our old revolutionary programmes amounted to—from those, say, of the Bakuninists and the rebels, to those of the Narodniks, and finally the Narodovoltsi, for whom the conviction that the peasants would send an overwhelming majority of socialists to a future Zemsky Sobor also occupied no small place in their thoughts. —Lenin
 I repeat that this conclusion could not but be clear to anybody who had read the Communist Manifesto, The Poverty of Philosophy, and Capital, and that a special explanation was required only for the benefit of Mr. Mikhailovsky. —Lenin
 For the simple reason that no solution of these problems has so far been found. Indeed, you cannot regard as a solution of the land renting problem the assertion that “people’s land renting supports people’s farming,” or the following description of the system of cultivating the landlord’s land with the peasants’ implements: “The peasant has proved to be stronger than the landlord,” who “has sacrificed his independence for the benefit of the independent peasant”, “the peasant has wrested large-scale production from the grasp of the landlord”, “the people are the victors in the struggle for the form of agricultural technique.” This idle liberal chatter is to be found in The Destiny of Capitalism, the work of “our well-known” Mr. V. V. —Lenin
 From “To the Sowers” by the Russian poet N. A. Nekrasov.
 The Gladstone Land Bills—the land laws adopted in Britain by Gladstone’s Liberal Ministry in the 1870s and 1880s. With a view to mitigating the struggle between the tenant farmers and the landlords and to securing the votes of the former, the Gladstone government introduced some minor measures limiting the tyranny of the landlords, who had driven masses of tenants off the land. The government also promised to regulate the question of tenants’ arrears, to set up special land courts that would establish “fair” rents, etc. The Gladstone Land Bills were typical of the social demagogy of the liberal bourgeoisie.
 In 1889, the tsarist government, desirous of strengthening the landlords’ power over the peasants, introduced the administrative post of Zemsky Nachalnik. The Zemsky Nachalniks, who were appointed from among the local landlord nobility, were given tremendous powers both administrative and juridical to deal with the peasants. These powers included the right to arrest peasants and administer corporal punishment.
 Nedelya (Week )—a liberal-Narodnik political and literary newspaper. Appeared in St. Petersburg from 1866 to 1901. Was opposed to fighting the autocracy, and advocated the so-called theory of “minor matters,” i.e., appealed to the intelligentsia to abstain from revolutionary struggle and to engage in “cultural activity.”
 This refers to French utopian socialism, which was widespread at the beginning of the nineteenth century and was one of the main ideological trends of the time.
The social-economic basis to which French utopian socialism owed its origin was the increased exploitation of the toiling masses, the appearance of irreconcilable contradictions between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The most prominent representatives of French utopian socialism were Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier whose views were widely held not only in France, but also in other countries. The French utopian socialists were, however, unable to expose the essence of capitalist relations and capitalist exploitation with consistency or to discover the basic contradiction of the capitalist mode of production. In conformity with the utopian character of their social and political ideals, they based the need for the socialist reorganisation of society on the need for reason to conquer ignorance, for truth to conquer falsehood. The immaturity of their views is to be explained by the social conditions of the epoch, by the insufficient development of large-scale capitalist industry, and of the industrial proletariat. For a more detailed account of French socialism, see F. Engels’ Socialism: Utopian and Scientific and Anti-Dühring. Lenin described the teachings of the French utopian socialists, in connection with French revolutionary teachings in general, as one of the mainsprings of Marxism.
The Russian revolutionary democrats A. I. Herzen, V. G. Belinsky, N. G. Chernyshevsky, and N. A. Dobrolyubov accepted the ideas of the French Enlighteners, but differed from the representatives of many West-European trends of utopian socialism in advocating the idea of mass struggle to overthrow the autocracy, the idea of a peasant revolution. However, they mistakenly imagined that the path to socialism lay through the semi-feudal peasant community. Since Russia’s economic development was still weak the Russian revolutionary democrats, headed by Chernyshevsky, were unable to show the decisive role of the working class in the building of socialist society.
 This refers to V. V.’s (V. P. Vorontsov’s) Our Trends, which appeared in 1893.
 N. K. Mikhailovsky replied to V. V. in the article “Literature and Life” published in Russkoye Bogatstvo, issue No. 10, 1893.
 The Bakuninists and the rebels—supporters and followers of M. A. Bakunin (1814-1876), the ideologist of anarchism and a bitter enemy of Marxism and scientific socialism. The Bakuninists carried on a stubborn struggle against the Marxist theory and tactics of the working-class movement. The main plank of the Bakuninist platform was the complete rejection of any form of state, including the dictatorship of the proletariat. They did not understand the epoch-making role of the prolelariat. Bakunin put forward the idea of the “levelling” of classes, the organisation of “free associations” from below. In the Bakuninists’ view, a secret revolutionary society, made up of “outstanding” individuals, was to direct popular revolts, which were to take place immediately. Thus the Bakuninists believed that the peasantry in Russia were ready to rise up in rebellion without delay.Their tactics of conspiracy-making, of hasty revolts and of terrorism were adventurist and hostile to Marxist teachings on insurrection. Bakuninism was close to Proudhonism, the petty-bourgeois trend that reflected the ideology of the ruined petty proprietor. One of the Bakuninists in Russia, S. G Nechayev, was in close contact with Bakunin, who lived abroad. The Bakuninists expounded the programme of the conspiratorial society in the “Revolutionary Catechism.” In 1869 Nechayev tried to found a narrow conspiratorial “People’s Reprisal” organisation in Russia. He succeeded, however in organising only a few circles in Moscow. “The People’s Reprisal” was soon exposed, and in December 1869 was broken up by the tsarist government. The theory and tactics of the Bakuninists were severely condemned by Marx and Engels. Lenin described Bakuninism as the world outlook “of the petty bourgeois who despairs of his salvation.” (In Memory of Herzen. See present edition, Vol. 18.) Bakuninism was one of the ideological sources of Narodism.
 A central representative assembly is referred to. In 1873 Marx and Engels wrote the following on this subject: “At that time the demand was raised for the convention of a Zemsky Sobor. Some demanded it with a view to settling financial difficulties, others—so as to end the monarchy. Bakunin wanted it to demonstrate Russia’s unity and to consolidate the tsar’s power and might.” (L’allian ce de la Démocratie Socialiste et l’association Internationale des travailleurs. Rapport et documents publiés par ordre du congrès international de la Haye. 1873. p. 113.)
Many Russian revolutionaries equated the convocation of a Zemsky Sobor with the overthrow of the tsarist dynasty.
The convocation of a Zemsky Sobor representing all citizens to draw up a constitution was one of the programmatic demands of the Russian Social-Democratic Party.
 Reference is made to N. G. Chernyshevsky and A. I. Herzen. See Marx’s letter to the editorial board of Otechestvenniye Zapiski (K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, p 377)
 See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, pp. 378-79.