Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

The Heritage We Renounce

Written: Written in exile at the end of 1897
Published: First published in 1898 in the miscellany Economic Studies and Essays by Vladimir Lenin.
Source: Lenin᾿s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 2, pp. 491-534.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Original Transcription & Markup: D. Walters
Re-Marked up: K. Goins (2008)
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2001). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The article “The Heritage We Renounce” was written at the close of 1897 when in exile in Siberia. In 1898 it was published in the miscellany Economic Studies and Essays.

Referring, in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, 1897, to a comment by Mr. Minsky on the “dialectical materialists,” Mr. Mikhailovsky says: “He” (Mr. Minsky) “must know that these people do not acknowledge any continuity with the past and emphatically renounce the heritage” (p. 179) — that is, the “heritage of the 1860-70s,” which Mr. V. Rozanov solemnly renounced in 1891 in Moskovskiye Vedomosti (p. 478).

Mr. Mikhailovsky’s statement about the “Russian disciples” is a falsehood. True, he is not the only, and not the independent, author of the falsehood that “the Russian disciples renounce the heritage”—it has been reiterated for quite a longtime now by practically all the representatives of the liberal-Narodnik press when fighting the “disciples.” As far as we remember, when Mr. Mikhailovsky began his fierce war on the “disciples” he had not yet invented this falsehood but others had done so before him. Later he, too, chose to seize upon it. The further the “disciples” developed their views in Russian literature, the more minutely and thoroughly they set forth their opinions on a number of issues, both theoretical and practical, the more rarely did one find the hostile press objecting in substance to the fundamental tenets of the new trend, to the view that Russian capitalism is progressive, that the Narodnik idealisation of the small producer is absurd, that the explanation of trends of social thought and of legal and political institutions must be sought in the material interests of the various classes of Russian society. These fundamental tenets were hushed up, it was—and still is—thought best to say nothing about them, but fabrications to discredit the new trend were con-coded with all the greater fertility. One of these fabrications—”shabby fabrications”—-is the modish phrase that “the Russian disciples renounce the heritage,” that they have broken with the best traditions of the best, the most progressive section of Russian society, that they have severed the democratic thread, etc., etc., and all the many other ways in which this is expressed. The fact that such phrases are so widely used prompts us to undertake a detailed examination and refutation of them. In order that our exposition may not appear unsupported, we shall begin by drawing an historico-literary parallel between two “essayists of the countryside,” chosen in order to describe the “heritage.” Let us say in advance that we shall confine ourselves exclusively to economic and social questions, that of the ‘heritage,” we shall examine only these, leaving aside philosophical, literary, aesthetic and other problems.


One Representative Of The “Heritage”

Thirty years ago, in 1867, Otechestvenniye Zapiski[17] began publishing a series of essays by Skaldin, under the title In the Backwoods and in the Capital. The essays appeared over a period of three years, 1867-69. In 1870 the author gathered them together in a single volume bearing the same title.[1] A perusal of this book, now almost forgotten, is extremely instructive from the angle of the subject under discussion, i.e., the relation in which the representatives of the “heritage” stand to the Narodniks and the “Russian disciples.” The title of the book is inaccurate. The author himself was conscious of this, and he explains in a foreword that his theme is the attitude of the “capital” to the “countryside,” in other words, that his book is a series of social essays on rural conditions, and that he does not propose to speak of the capital specifically. Or rather, he might have proposed to do so, but does not find it expedient: ως δε βουλομ (for I will not write as I may, and may not write as I will), Skaldin says, borrowing the words of a Greek writer to explain the inexpediency.

Let us give a brief exposition of Skaldin’s views.

We shall begin with the peasant Reform[18]—that initial point from which all who wish to expound their general views on economic and social problems must, even to this day, inevitably begin. Very much space is devoted to the peasant Reform in Skaldin’s book. He was perhaps the first writer who—on a broad basis of fact and a detailed examination of all aspects of life in the countryside—systematically showed the poverty-stricken state of the peasants after the Reform, the deterioration of their conditions, the new forms of their subjection, economic, legal and in daily life—the first, in a word, to show all that has since been elucidated and demonstrated in such detail and thoroughness in numerous investigations and surveys. Today all these truths are no longer new. At that time they were not only new, but aroused distrust in liberal society, which feared that behind these references to the so-called “defects of the Reform” lurked a condemnation of it and concealed support for serfdom. Skaldin’s views are the more interesting because he was a contemporary of the Reform (and even perhaps had a hand in it. We have no historical or literary information or biographical data about him at our disposal). Consequently, his views are based on direct observation both of the “capital” and the “countryside” of the time, and not on an armchair study of printed material.

What first of all strikes the contemporary reader, who is accustomed to the Narodniks’ sickly gushing over the peasant Reform, is the extreme sobriety of Skaldin’s views on the subject. He looks at the Reform without any illusions or idealisation; he sees it as a transaction between two parties, the landlords and the peasants, who until then had used the land in common on definite terms and now had divided it, the division being accompanied by a change in the legal status of both parties. The factor which determined the mode of division and the size of the share of each party was their respective interests. These interests determined the ambitions of both parties, while the fact that one of them was able to have a direct hand in the Reform itself, and in the practical working-out of the various questions connected with its implementation, determined, among other things, that party’s dominant position. That is how Skaldin understands the Reform. He dwells in particular detail on the principal question of the Reform, the allotments and land redemption payments, reverting to it time and again in the course of his essays. (Skaldin’s book is divided into eleven essays, each of them self-contained, their form reminding one of letters from the countryside. The first essay is dated 1866, and the last, 1869.) It goes without saying that on the subject of the so-called ‘land-poor” peasants, there is nothing in Skaldin’s book that is new to the contemporary reader, but at the end of the sixties his testimony was both new and valuable. We shall not, of course, recapitulate it, but shall only remark on that feature of his description of the facts which distinguishes him—to his advantage—from the Narodniks. Skaldin does not talk about “land poverty,” but about the “excessive amount of land cut off from the peasants’ allotments” (p. 213, also p. 214 and many other places; cf. title of the third essay), and says that the largest allotments established by the Regulations[19] proved to be smaller than those they had before (p. 257), incidentally citing some extremely characteristic and typical opinions of peasants on this aspect of the Reform.[2] Skaldin’s explanations and proofs of this fact are very circumstantial, forceful and even vehement for a writer who as a rule is extremely moderate and temperate, and whose general outlook is undoubtedly bourgeois. The fact, then, must have been too starkly evident, if such a writer as Skaldin speaks of it so emphatically. Skaldin also speaks very emphatically and circumstantially of the severe burden of the payments, and supports his statements with many facts. “Inordinate taxation,” reads a sub-title to the third essay (1867), “is the chief cause of their” (the peasants’) “poverty,” and Skaldin shows that taxation is higher than the peasants returns from the land, and he cites from the Proceedings of the Commission on Taxation data relative to the incidence of taxation of the upper and lower classes in Russia which show that 76% of the taxation falls on the lower classes and 17% on the upper, whereas in Western Europe the correlation is everywhere incomparably more favourable to the lower classes. A sub-title to the seventh essay (1868) reads, “Excessive money dues are one of the chief causes of poverty among the peasants,” and the author shows that the new conditions of life at once demanded money, money and more money of the peasant, that the Regulation made it a principle to compensate the landlords for the abolition of serfdom as well (252), and that the amount of the quit-rent was based “on sworn information supplied by the landlords, their stewards and village elders, that is, on absolutely arbitrary data not deserving of the slightest credence” (255), in consequence of which the average quit-rents computed by the commissions were higher than the existing average quit-rents. “Added to the burden of quit-rent borne by the Peasants was the loss of land which they had used for centuries” (258). “Had the redemption price of the land not been assessed on the basis of the capitalised amount of the quit-rents, but on the basis of its actual value at the time of the emancipation, the redemption could have been paid off very easily and would not even have required the assistance of the government, or the issue of credit certificates” (264). “Redemption, which was designed by the Regulation of February 19 to make things easier for the peasants and to consummate the work of improving their conditions, in reality often has the effect of putting them into even more straitened circumstances” (269). We cite these excerpts—which, in themselves, are of little interest and are in part out-of-date—in order to show how energetically the peasants’ interests were defended by a writer who was hostile to the village community and whose opinions on a whole number of questions were those of a true member of the Manchester School. It is very instructive to note that nearly all the useful and non-reactionary precepts of Narodism fully coincide with those of this Mancunian. It goes without saying that, such being Skaldin’s opinion of the Reform, he could not possibly sentimentally idealise it in the way the Narodniks did, and still do, when they say that it sanctioned people’s production, that it was superior to the West-European peasant reforms, that it made a tabula rasa of Russia, and so on. Skaldin did not and could not say anything of the kind; further, he said plainly that in our country peasant Reform was less advantageous, less beneficial to the peasants than in the West. “The question will be put plainly,” he wrote, “if we ask ourselves why the beneficial consequences of the emancipation in our country are not growing with the steady speed with which they did, say, in Prussia or Saxony in the first quarter of the present century” (221). “In Prussia, and throughout Germany, the peasants paid not for the redemption of their allotments, which had long been recognised as their property by law, but for the redemption of their compulsory services to the landlords”(272).

Let us now pass from the economic to the legal aspect of the Reform, as Skaldin sees it. Skaldin is a bitter foe of collective responsibility, of the passport system, and of the patriarchal power of the peasant “community” (and of the urban community) over its members. In the third essay (1867) he insists on the abolition of collective responsibility, the poll tax and the passport system, on the necessity for an equitable property tax, and on the replacement of passports by free and permanent certificates. “In no other civilised country is there a tax on internal passports” (109). We know that this tax was only abolished in 1897. In the title to the fourth essay, we read: “arbitrary actions of village communities and urban dumas in sending out passports and levying taxes on absentee payers.”... “Collective responsibility is a heavy burden which efficient and industrious husbandmen have to bear on account of idlers and wastrels” (126). Skaldin is disposed to attribute the differentiation of the peasantry, which was already to be observed at that time, to the personal qualities of those who get on or go under. He describes in detail the difficulties peasants living in St. Petersburg experience in obtaining or prolonging passports, and repudiates those who would retort that “thank God, all this multitude of landless peasants have not been registered in the towns, have not increased the numbers of propertyless town-dwellers” (130).... “This barbarous collective responsibility (131). ... “Can people placed in such a position be called free citizens? Are they not the same old glebae adscripti?[3] ” (132). The peasant Reform is blamed. “But is the peasant Reform to blame for the fact that the law, having released the peasant from his bond to the landlord has devised nothing to deliver him from his bond to his community and place of registration?... Where are the attributes of civil liberty, if the peasant is not free to decide either his place of domicile or manner of occupation?” (132). Skaldin very accurately and aptly calls our peasant a “settled proletarian” (231).[4] In the heading to the eighth essay (1868) we read: “the fact that the peasants are tied to their communities and allotments prevents improvement of their conditions.... It is. an obstacle to the development of outside industries.” “Apart from the ignorance of the peasants and the burden of progressively mounting taxation, one of the causes retarding the development of peasant labour and, consequently, of peasant prosperity, is the fact that they are tied to their communities and allotments. The tying of the labourer to one place and the shackling of the rural community in unbreakable fetters—this in itself is an extremely unfavourable condition for the development of labour, private enterprise and small landed property” (284). “Bound to their allotments and communities, and unable to apply their labour where it would be more productive and of greater advantage to themselves, the peasants are, as it were, frozen in that congested, herdlike, unproductive form of life in which they emerged from serfdom” (285). Skaldin, consequently, regards these aspects of peasant life from the purely bourgeois standpoint, but in spite of that (and, perhaps, because of it), his assessment of the harm caused to all social development and to the peasants themselves by the fact that the latter are tied down is very accurate. And it causes particular harm (let us add) to the lowest sections of the peasantry, the rural proletariat. Skaldin says very aptly: “the concern of the law that the peasants shall not remain without land is admirable; but it should not be forgotten that the concern of the peasants themselves on this score is incomparably greater than that of any legislator” (286). “Apart from the fact that the peasant is bound to his allotment and his community, even his temporary departure to earn something elsewhere involves considerable difficulty and expense, owing to collective responsibility and the passport system” (29S). “For many peasants, in my opinion, a way out of their difficult situation would be opened if ... measures were taken to make it easier for peasants to give up their land” (294). Here Skaldin is expressing a wish that runs sharply counter to the Narodnik projects, which all tend in the very opposite direction, namely, to perpetuate the village community, to make the allotments inalienable, etc. There has been ample evidence since then to show that Skaldin was perfectly right: the fact that the peasant remains tied to the land, and that the peasant community is an exclusive social estate only worsens the position of the rural proletariat and retards the country’s economic development, while being unable in any degree to protect the “settled proletarian” from the worst forms of bondage and subjection, or from the decline of his wages and living standards to the very lowest level.

The reader may have already seen from the above-quoted excerpts that Skaldin is a foe of the village community. He objects to the community and to land redistribution because he favours private property, enterprise and so on (P. 142, et seq.). To the defenders of the village community Skaldin retorts that “the ancient common law” has outlived its day. “In all countries,” he writes, “as the rural dwellers came into contact with a civilised environment, their common law lost its primeval purity and became subject to corruption and distortion. The same is to be observed in our country: the power of the community is gradually being turned into the power of the village exploiters and rural clerks and, instead of protecting the person of the peasant, is a heavy burden upon him” (143)—a very true observation, corroborated by endless facts in these thirty years. In Skaldin’s opinion, “the patriarchal family, communal ownership of the land and common law” have been irrevocably condemned by history. “Those who would preserve these venerable monuments of past centuries for us in perpetuity, show thereby that they are more capable of being carried away by an idea than of penetrating into realities and grasping the irresistible march of history” (162), and to. this correct observation Skaldin adds hot Manchester School philippics. “Community land tenure,” he says elsewhere, “places every peasant in slavish subjection to the whole community” (222). Therefore, Skaldin’s unreserved hostility to the village community from the purely bourgeois standpoint is combined with his consistent defence of the peasants’ interests. Hostile though he is to the village community, Skaldin does not advance foolish projects for forcibly abolishing the community and forcibly introducing some other, similar system of land ownership, such as are usually concocted by the present-day opponents of the village community, who favour gross interferences in the peasants’ life and attack the village community from anything but the standpoint of the peasants’ interests. Skaldin, on the contrary, strongly protests against being classed with the believers in “forcible abolition of communal Land tenure” (144). “The Regulation of February 19,” he says, “very wisely left it to the peasants themselves ... to pass ... from communal to family tenure. Indeed, none but the peasants themselves can properly decide the best time for such passage.” Consequently, Skaldin is opposed to the village community only for the reason that it hampers economic development, prevents the peasant from withdrawing from the community and giving up his land, that is, for the same reason that the “Russian disciples” are opposed to it today; this hostility has nothing in common with defence of the selfish interests of the landlords, with defence of the survivals and the spirit of serfdom, with advocacy of interference in the life of the peasants. It is very important to note this difference, because the present-day. Narodniks, who are accustomed to seeing enemies of the village community only in the camp of Moskovskiye Vedomosti and the like, very willingly pretend to be oblivious to any other kind of hostility to the village community.

Skaldin’s general opinion about the causes of the peasants’ distressed condition is that they are all survivals of serfdom. Describing the famine of 1868, he remarks that the serf-owners pointed to it with malicious glee, ascribing it to the dissoluteness of the peasants, to the abolition of the landlords’ tutelage, and so on. Skaldin heatedly refutes these views. “The causes of the impoverishment of the peasants,” he says, “were inherited from serfdom (212), and are not the result of its abolition; they are the general causes which keep the majority of our peasants at a level bordering on that of the proletariat”—and he repeats the above-quoted opinions of the Reform. It is absurd to attack the family division of the land: “Even if divisions do injure the peasants’ material interests for a while, they save their personal freedom and the moral dignity of the peasant family, that is, those higher human blessings without which no civil progress is possible” (217), and Skaldin rightly points to the real reasons for the campaign against land divisions: “many landlords highly exaggerate the harm caused by divisions, blaming them, as well as drunkenness, for all the consequences of the various causes of the peasants’ poverty, which the landlords are so unwilling to recognise” (218). To those who say that much is being written today about the peasants’ poverty, but that formerly it was not so and that therefore the peasants’ conditions must have deteriorated, Skaldin replies that: “In order to form a judgement of the results of the peasants’ emancipation from the landlords’ power, by comparing the peasants’ present with their former condition, it would have been necessary, while serfdom still prevailed, to trim down the peasants’ allotments as they have been now trimmed down, and to tax the peasants with all the duties which have appeared since the emancipation, and then see how the peasant serfs would have borne such conditions” (219). It is a supremely characteristic and important feature of Skaldin’s views that’ he reduces all the causes of the deterioration in the peasants’ condition to survivals of serfdom, to its legacy of labour service, quit-rent, cut-off land, and the peasants’ lack of rights, and immobility. Skaldin not only does not see that the causes of the peasants’ impoverishment might be found in the very structure of the new socio-economic relations, in the very structure of the post-Reform economy; he absolutely refuses to entertain the thought, being profoundly convinced that the complete abolition of all these survivals of serfdom would usher in an era of universal well-being. His views, in fact, are negative: remove the obstacles to the free development of the peasantry, remove the shackles bequeathed by serfdom, and everything will be for the best in this best of possible worlds. Skaldin writes: “Here” (i. e., in relation to the peasantry) “there is only one course the government can follow: to eliminate steadily and unflaggingly the causes which have reduced our peasants to their present state of dullness and poverty and which do not allow them to rise to their feet” (224, my italics). Highly characteristic in this respect is the reply given by Skaldin to those who defend the “community” (that is, binding the peasants to the village communities and allotments) on the ground that, without it, “a rural proletariat will emerge.” “This objection,” Skaldin says, “falls to the ground when we remember what boundless tracts of land lie idle in our country from lack of hands to cultivate them. If the law did not hamper the natural distribution of manpower, the only people who would be real proletarians in Russia would be the professional beggars or the incorrigibly vicious and dissipated” (144)—the typical view of the eighteenth-century economists and “enlighteners,” who believed that abolition of serfdom and all its survivals would usher in a reign of universal well-being on earth. The Narodnik would no doubt look down on Skaldin with disdain and say that he was simply a bourgeois. Yes, of course, Skaldin was a bourgeois, but he was a representative of the progressive bourgeois ideology which the Narodniks have replaced by one that is petty-bourgeois and, on a whole number of points, reactionary. And this “bourgeois” had a better idea than the Narodnik of how to defend those practical and real interests of the peasants which coincided, and coincide now, with the requirements of social development generally![5]

To complete our account of Skaldin’s views, let us add that he is opposed to the system of social estates, advocates a single court of justice for all of them, sympathises “theoretically” with the idea that the volost authorities should not be constituted on the basis of social estates, is an ardent advocate of public education, especially general education, favours local self-government and Zemstvo institutions, and believes that land credits, especially small, should be widely available, for there is a strong desire among the peasants to buy land. Here, too, Skaldin is a true “Mancunian”: he says, for instance, that Zemstvo and municipal banks are “a patriarchal or primitive form of bank” and should give way to private banks, which are “vastly superior” (80). The land might be endowed with value “through the stimulation of industrial and commercial activity in our provinces” (71), and so on.

To sum up. In outlook, Skaldin may be called a bourgeois enlightener. His views are very reminiscent of those of the eighteenth-century economists (correspondingly refracted, of course, in the prism of Russian conditions), and he reflected the general “enlightenment” character of the “heritage” of the sixties quite vividly. Like the West-European enlighteners and the majority of the literary representatives of the sixties, Skaldin was imbued with a violent hostility to serfdom and all its economic, social and legal products. That was the first characteristic feature of the “enlightener.” The second characteristic feature common to all the Russian enlighteners was ardent advocacy of education, self-government, liberty, European forms of life and all-round Europeanisation of Russia generally. And the third characteristic feature of the “enlightener” was his defence of the interests of the masses, chiefly of the peasants (who, in the days of the enlighteners, were not yet fully emancipated or only in process of being emancipated), the sincere belief that abolition of serfdom and its survivals would be followed by universal well-being, and a sincere desire to help bring this about. These three features constitute the essence of what In our country is called “the heritage of the sixties,” and it is important to emphasise that there is nothing whatsoever of Narodism in this heritage. There are quite a number of Russian writers whose views are characterised by these features and who have never had anything in common with Narodism. Where the outlook of a writer bears these features, he is always recognised by everyone as having “preserved the traditions of the sixties,” quite irrespective of what his attitude to Narodism may be. Nobody, of course, would think of saying that Mr. M. Stasyulevich, for instance, whose jubilee was recently celebrated, had “renounced the heritage” —merely because he was an opponent of Narodism or was indifferent to the questions advanced by Narodism. We have taken Skaldin[6] as an example precisely because, while he was undoubtedly a representative of the “heritage,” he was at the same time a confirmed enemy of those ancient institutions which the Narodniks have taken under their protection.

We have said that Skaldin was a bourgeois. Ample proof of this description has been given above, but it must be observed that this word is often understood very incorrectly, narrowly and unhistorically, it being associated (without distinction of historical period) with a selfish defence of the interests of a minority. It must not be forgotten that at the time when the eighteenth-century enlighteners (who are by general consent included among the leaders of the bourgeoisie) wrote, and at the time when our enlighteners of the forties and sixties wrote, all social problems amounted to the struggle against serfdom and its survivals. At that time the new socio-economic relations and their contradictions were still in embryo. No selfishness was therefore displayed at that time by the ideologists of the bourgeoisie; on the contrary, both in the West and in Russia, they quite sincerely believed in universal well-being and sincerely desired it, they sincerely did not see (partly could not yet see) the contradictions in the system which was growing out of serfdom. It is not for nothing that Skaldin in one part of his book quotes Adam Smith: we have seen that both his views and the character of his arguments in many respects repeat the theses of that great ideologist of the progressive bourgeoisie.

And so, if we compare Skaldin’s practical suggestions with the views of the present-day Narodniks, on the one hand, and with the attitude to them of the “Russian disciples,” on the other, we shall find that the “disciples” will always support Skaldin’s suggestions, since the latter reflect the interests of the progressive social classes, and the vital interests of social development generally along the present, i. e., capitalist, path. The things that the Narodniks have changed in Skaldin’s practical wishes, or in his presentation of problems, are a change for the worse, and are rejected by the “disciples.” It is not against the “heritage” that the disciples “hurl themselves” (that is an absurd fabrication), but against the romantic and petty-bourgeois additions to the heritage made by the Narodniks. To these additions we shall now pass.


Narodism’s Addition to the “Heritage”

From Skaldin, let us pass to Engelhardt. His Letters from the Countryside are likewise essays on the social aspects of rural life, so that in substance and even in form his book very much resembles that of Skaldin’s. Engelhardt is much more talented than Skaldin, and his letters from the country are incomparably more lively and imaginative. The lengthy disquisitions of the serious author of In the Backwoods and in the Capital are not to be found in Engelhardt’s book, which, for its part, is replete with deft delineation and imagery. It is not surprising that Engelhardt’s book enjoys the steady sympathy of the reading public, and only recently appeared in a fresh edition, while Skaldin’s book is almost completely forgotten, although it was only two years after its publication that Otechestvenniye Zapiski began printing Engelhardt’s letters. There is therefore no need for us to acquaint the reader with the contents of Engelhardt’s book, and we shall confine ourselves to a brief exposition of two aspects of his views: first, views that are characteristic of the “heritage” in general, and common to Engelhardt and Skaldin in particular; and, second, views that are specifically Narodnik. Engelhardt is already a Narodnik, but his views still contain so much that is common to all the enlighteners, so much that has been discarded or altered by contemporary Narodism, that one is at a loss how to class him—with the representatives of the “heritage” in general, without the Narodnik tinge, or with the Narodniks.

What makes Engelhardt akin to the former is, primarily, the remarkable sobriety of his views, his plain and direct descriptions of realities, his relentless exposure of all the bad sides of the “foundations” in general, and of the peasantry in particular—of those very “foundations,” the false idealisation and embellishment of which is an essential component of Narodism. Engelhardt’s very feebly and timidly expressed Narodism is therefore in direct and crying contradiction to the picture of rural realities that he paints with such talent, and if some economist or sociologist were to base his opinions of the countryside on Engelhardt’s facts and observations,[7] he would find it impossible to draw Narodnik conclusions from such material. Idealisation of the peasant and his village community is one of the essential components of Narodism, and Narodniks of all shades, from Mr. V. V. to Mr. Mikhailovsky, have given full rein to this effort to idealise and embellish the “community.” There is not the slightest trace of such embellishment in Engelhardt. As against the fashionable talk about the communal spirit of our peasantry, the current contrasting of this “communal spirit” to the individualism of the town, the competition of capitalist economy, etc., Engelhardt is absolutely relentless in exposing the amazing individualism of the small farmer. He shows at length that our “peasants in matter of ownership have the keenest possible sense of property” (p. 62, 1885 ed.), that they cannot tolerate “gang work,” hate it from narrowly selfish and egoistic motives: in gang work each is “afraid of doing more than the others” (p. 206). This fear of doing more work than others goes to comical (or, rather, tragicomical) extremes; the author, for instance tells of women living under one roof and bound by ties of common residence and kinship, each of whom washes only her particular part of the table at which they eat, or who milk the cows in turn, each getting milk for her own child (for fear that others may hide some of the milk) and preparing porridge for her own child separately (p. 323). Engelhardt brings out these features in such detail, and corroborates them with such a mass of examples, that there can be no question of their being exceptional instances. One or the other: either Engelhardt is a worthless observer who deserves no credence, or the tale about the communal spirit and communal virtues of our muzhik are sheer imagination, which transfers to economic practice features abstracted from the form of land tenure (and from this form of landholding there are additionally abstracted all the fiscal and administrative aspects). Engelhardt shows that in his economic activity the muzhik aims at becoming a kulak. “There is a definite dose of the kulak in every peasant,” he says (p. 491), “kulak ideals prevail among the peasants.”... “I have said time and again that individualism, egoism, the urge to exploit are strongly developed among the peasants.”... “Each prides himself on being a pike and strives to swallow the tiddler.” Engelhardt demonstrates superbly that the trend among the peasantry is not towards the “communal” system, not towards “people’s production,” but towards the most ordinary petty-bourgeois system inherent in all capitalist societies. He describes and proves incontrovertibly the tendency of the well-to-do peasant to launch into trade (363), to loan grain in return for work, to buy the labour of the poor muzhik (pp. 457, 492, etc.)—or, in economic language, the conversion of enterprising muzhiks into a rural bourgeoisie. “If,” says Engelhardt, “the peasants do not adopt the artel form of economy and each continues to conduct his own farm in isolation, then, even if there is an abundance of land, there will be both landless peasants and farm labourers among the peasant tillers. Further, I believe that the difference in status among the peasants will be even wider than it now is. Despite communal ownership of the land, side by side with the rich,’ there will be many virtually landless farm labourers. “What benefit is it to me or my children if I have the right to land, but neither the capital nor the implements with which to cultivate it? It is like giving a blind man land and saying—eat it!” (p. 370). With a sort of melancholy irony, the “artel form of economy’ figures forlornly in this passage as a pious and innocent wish which, far from following from the facts about the peasantry, is directly repudiated and ruled out by them.

Another feature which makes Engelhardt akin to the representatives of the heritage without any Narodnik tinge is his belief that the chief and fundamental cause of the distressed condition of the peasantry is the survivals of serfdom and the reglementation characteristic of it. Do away with these survivals and this reglementation, and all will be well. Engelhardt’s absolute hostility to reglementation and his caustic scoffing at all attempts to confer happiness on the muzhik through reglementation from above, are in the sharpest contrast to the Narodniks’ faith in “the reason and conscience, the knowledge and patriotism of the ruling classes” (the words of Mr. Yuzhakov, in Russkoye Bogatstvo, 1896, No. 12, p. 106), to their fantastic projects for “organising production,” etc. Let us recall Engelhardt’s sarcastic denunciation of the rule that vodka should not be sold at flour-mills, a rule intended for the muzhik’s “good”; or the disgust with which he speaks of the obligatory order issued by several Zemstvos in 1880 forbid. ding the sowing of rye before August 15, of that gross interference by armchair scientists”—also actuated by consideration for the muzhik’s good—in the farming of “millions of peasant proprietors” (424). Referring to such rules and orders as those forbidding smoking in pine forests, pike fishing in spring, cutting birch for the May festival, bird-nest pillaging and so on, Engelhardt sarcastically remarks: solicitude for the muzhik is and always has been the principal concern of intellectual minds. Who lives for himself? Everybody lives for the muzhik!... The muzhik is stupid, he cannot manage his own affairs. If nobody looks after him, he will burn down all the forests, kill off all the birds, denude the rivers of fish, ruin the land, and himself die out” (398). Do you think, reader, that this writer could have had any sympathy for laws so dear to the hearts of the Narodniks, as, say, those forbidding alienation of allotments? Could his pen have written anything like the phrase of one of the pillars of Russkoye Bogatstvo quoted above? Could he have shared the view of Mr. N. Karyshev, another pillar of the same journal, who flung the reproach at our gubernia Zemstvos (in the nineties!) that they “find no room” “for regular large and substantial expenditure on the organisation of agricultural labour”?[8]

Let us mention another feature which makes Engelhardt akin to Skaldin: his unconscious attitude to many purely bourgeois aspirations and measures. Not that Engelhardt tries to gild the petty bourgeois or to concoct excuses (& la Mr. V. V.) for not applying this designation to any particular entrepreneur—far from it. As a practical farmer, Engelhardt is simply infatuated with every progressive innovation, every improvement in farming methods, and completely fails to realise that the social form of these improvements is the most effective refutation of his own theory that capitalism is impossible in our country. Let us recall, for instance, how delighted We was with the success he achieved on his farm thanks to the introduction of the piece-rate system o! paying his workers (for flax scutching, threshing, etc.). Engelhardt does not even suspect that the substitution of piece rates for time rates is one of the most widespread methods by which a developing capitalist economy heightens the intensification of labour and increases the rate of surplus-value. Another example. Engelhardt scoffs at the programme of Zemledelcheskaya Gazeta[20]: “discontinuation of leasing fields for cycle cultivation[21]; farming based on employment of labourers; introduction of improved machines, implements and cattle breeds and of multi-field system; improvement of meadows and pastures, etc., etc.” “All this, however, is nothing but general talk!” Engelhardt exclaims (128). Yet it was this programme that Engelhardt adopted in his own practical farming; he achieved technical progress on his own farm precisely by basing it on the employment of farm labourers. Or again: we know how frankly and faithfully Engelhardt exposed the real tendencies of the enterprising muzhik; but that did not prevent him from asserting that “it is not factories that are needed, but small” (Engelhardt’s italics) “rural distilleries, oil mills,” etc. (p. 33), that is, what is “needed” is that the rural bourgeoisie should go in for agricultural industries—which has always and everywhere been one of the major indications of agricultural capitalism. Here we have the influence of the fact that Engelhardt was not a theoretician but a practical farmer. It is one thing’ to argue that progress is possible without capitalism, and another thing to farm yourself. Having set himself the aim of conducting his farm on rational lines, Engelhardt was compelled, by virtue of surrounding circumstances, to strive for this by purely capitalistic methods and to leave aside all his theoretical and abstract misgivings concerning the “employment of farm labourers.” In the field of theory Skaldin argued like a typical member of the Manchester School, completely failing to realise both that his arguments were of just this character, and that they corresponded to the needs of Russia’s capitalist evolution. In the field of practice Engelhardt was compelled to act as a typical Mancunian, despite his theoretical protest against capitalism and his desire to believe that his fatherland was following a path of its own.

Engelhardt did believe this, and it is this that induces us to call him a Narodnik. He had already clearly perceived the real trend of economic development in Russia, and sought to explain away the contradictions of this development. He endeavoured to prove that agricultural capitalism was impossible in Russia, that “there is no Knecht in our country” (p. 556)—though he himself refuted in the greatest detail the story that our workers are expensive, and himself showed how miserably he paid his cattleman, Pyotr, who with his family, after their keep, had only 6 rubles a year Left “with which to buy salt, vegetable oil, clothing” (p. 10). “Yet even he is envied, and if I turned him off, fifty others would immediately be found eager to take his place” (p. 11). Speaking of the success of his farm, and of the skilful way his workers handle the plough, Engelhardt triumphantly exclaims: “And who are these ploughmen? Ignorant, unconscientious Russian peasants” (p. 225).

Though his own farming experience and his exposure of the peasant’s individualism refuted all illusions concerning the “community spirit,” Engelhardt not only “believed” that the peasants could adopt an artel form of economy, but expressed the “conviction” that such would indeed be the case, and that we, the Russians, would accomplish this great feat and introduce a new mode of farming. “It is this that constitutes the exceptional character, the specific nature of our economy” (p. 349). Engelhardt the realist turns into Engelhardt the romanticist, who replaces the complete lack of “exceptional character” in his own methods of farming, and in the peasants’ farming methods as he observed them by “faith” in a future “exceptional character”! From this faith it is only a stone’s throw to the ultra-Narodnik features which—though very few—one finds in Engelhardt, to a narrow nationalism bordering on chauvinism (“We’ll give Europe a drubbing,”and “in Europe, too, the muzhik will be on our side” (p. 387)—said Engelhardt to a landlord with whom he was discussing the prospect of war), and even to idealisation of labour service! Yes, this selfsame Engelhardt who devoted so many superb. pages of his book to describing the downtrodden and degraded condition of the peasant who has taken a loan of money or grain to be paid off in work and is compelled to toil almost for nothing in the very worst conditions of personal dependence[9] —this selfsame Engelhardt goes to the length of saying that “it would be a good thing if the doctor” (he was talking of the benefit of and need for doctors in the countryside. V. I.) “had a farm of his own, so that the muzhik could pay for the treatment with his labour” (p. 41). Comment is superfluous.

—All in all, comparing the above-enumerated good features of Engelhardt’s outlook (i.e., those he has in common with the representatives of the “heritage” without any Narodnik tinge) with the bad (i.e., the Narodnik features), we have to admit that the former unquestionably predominate in the author of Letters from the Countryside, while the latter are an extraneous and accidental admixture, as it were, which has drifted in from without and is at odds with the general tone of his book.


Has the “Heritage” Gained From Association With Narodism?

“But what do you understand by Narodism?” the reader will probably ask. “The meaning attached to the concept ‘heritage’ was defined above, but no definition of the concept ‘Narodism’ has been given.”

By Narodism we mean a system of views which comprises the following three features: 1) Belief that capitalism in Russia represents a deterioration, a retrogression. Hence the urge and desire to “retard,” “halt,” “stop the break-up” of the age-old foundations by capitalism, and similar reactionary cries. 2) Belief in the exceptional character of the Russian economic system in general, and of the peasantry, with its village community, artel, etc., in particular. It is not considered necessary to apply to Russian economic relationships the concepts elaborated by modern science concerning the different social classes and their conflicts. The village— community peasantry is regarded as something higher and better than capitalism; there is a disposition to idealise the “foundations.” The existence among the peasantry of contradictions characteristic of every commodity and capitalist economy is denied or slurred over; it is denied that any connection exists between these contradictions and their more developed form in capitalist industry and capitalist agriculture. 5) Disregard of the connection between the “intelligentsia” and the country’s legal and political institutions, on the one hand, arid the material interests of definite social classes, on the other. Denial of this connection, lack of a materialist explanation of these social factors, induces the belief that they represent a force capable of “dragging history along another line” (Mr. V. V.), of “diversion from the path” (Mr. N. —on, Mr. Yuzhakov, etc.), and so on.

That is what we mean by “Narodism.” The reader will consequently see that we use this term in its broad sense, just as all the “Russian disciples” use it when opposing a whole system of views, and not individual representatives of this system. Among these individual representatives there arc differences, of course, and sometimes important ones. Nobody ignores these differences. But the aforementioned views are common to all the most diverse representatives of Narodism, from—well, Mr. Yuzov, let us say, to Mr. Mikhailovsky. To these objectionable features of their views, the Yuzovs, Sazonovs, V. V., etc., add others, which are not shared, for instance, either by Mr. Mikhailovsky or by other contributors to the present-day Russkoye Bogatstvo. To deny these differences between the Narodniks in the narrow sense and the Narodniks in general would, of course, be wrong; but it would be wronger still to ignore the fact that the fundamental socio-economic views of all Narodniks coincide on the aforementioned major points. And since it is these fundamental views that the “Russian disciples” reject, and not only “deplorable deviations” from them in a worse direction, they are obviously fully entitled to employ the term “Narodism” in its wider meaning. Not only are they entitled to do so; they cannot do otherwise.

Turning to the fundamental views of Narodism outlined above, the first thing we must note is that the “heritage” has absolutely no part in them. There are a whole number of undeniable representatives and guardians of the “heritage” who have nothing in common with Narodism, who do not pose the question of capitalism at all, who do not believe in the exceptional character of Russia, the peasant community, etc., and who do not regard the intelligentsia and our legal and political institutions as a factor capable of “diversion from the path.” Above we named in illustration the editor and publisher of Vestnik Yevropy,[22] who might be accused of anything save violation of the traditions of the heritage. On the other hand, there are people whose views resemble the aforementioned fundamental principles of Narodism, yet who plainly and frankly “renounce the heritage”—we might mention, for example, the same Mr. Y. Abramov to whom Mr. Mikhailovsky refers, or Mr. Yuzov. The Narodism which the “Russian disciples” battle against did not even exist when the heritage was (to use a legal term) “bequeathed,” that is, in the sixties. Germs, rudiments of Narodism existed, of course, not only in the sixties, but in the forties and even earlier[10] —but it is not the history of Narodism that concerns us here. We repeat, what is important for us is to establish that the “heritage” of the sixties, in the sense outlined above, has nothing in common with Narodism, i.e., that there is nothing in common in the substance of their views, that they pose different problems. There are guardians of the “heritage” who are not Narodniks, and there are Narodniks who “have renounced the heritage.” Of course, there are also Narodniks who guard the “heritage,” or who pretend to do so. That is why we speak of a connection between the heritage and Narodism. Let us see what has been the effect of this connection.

First, Narodism made a big step forward compared with the heritage by posing for the attention of society problems which the guardians of the heritage were partly (in their time) not yet able to pose, or partly did not, and do not, pose because of their inherent narrowness of outlook. In posing these problems the Narodniks performed a great historical service, and it is quite natural and understandable, that, having offered a solution (whatever it maybe worth) for these problems, Narodism thereby occupied a foremost place among the progressive trends of Russian social thought.

But the solution of these problems proposed by Narodism proved to be worthless, to be based on backward theories, long ago discarded in Western Europe, on a romantic and petty-bourgeois criticism of capitalism, on a disregard for the cardinal facts of Russian history and reality. So long as the development of capitalism in Russia and of its inherent contradictions was still very weak, this primitive criticism of capitalism could hold its ground. But Narodism is absolutely incapable of measuring up to the contemporary development of capitalism in Russia, the contemporary state of our knowledge of Russian economic history and reality, the contemporary demands made on sociological theory. Once progressive, as the first to pose the problem of capitalism, nowadays Narodism is a reactionary and harmful theory which misleads social thought and plays into the hands of stagnation and Asiatic backwardness. Today the reactionary character of its criticism of capitalism has even lent Narodism features that make it inferior to the outlook which confines itself to faithful guardianship of the heritage.[11] That this is so we shall now endeavour to prove by analysing each of the three basic features of the Narodnik outlook mentioned above.

The first feature—the belief that in Russia capitalism represents a deterioration, a retrogression. Very soon after the problem of capitalism in Russia had been posed, it became clear that our economic development was capitalistic, and the Narodniks proclaimed this development a retrogression, a mistake, a deviation from the path supposedly prescribed by the whole history of the nation’s life, from the path supposedly hallowed by age-old foundations, and so on and so forth. The enlighteners’ ardent faith in this course of social development was replaced by distrust of it; historical optimism and cheerfulness were replaced by pessimism and dejection founded on the fact that the farther matters proceeded as they were proceeding, the harder and more difficult would it be to solve the problems raised by the new development; appeals were made to “retard” and “halt” this development; the theory was advanced that Russia’s backwardness was her good fortune, and so forth. All these features of the Narodnik outlook, far from having anything in common with the “heritage,” flatly contradict it. The belief that Russian. capitalism represents a “deviation from the path,” a deterioration, etc., leads to a misrepresentation of Russia’s whole economic evolution, to a misrepresentation of that “change-over” which is taking place before our eyes. Carried away by their desire to retard and stop the break-up of the age-old foundations by capitalism, the Narodniks display an amazing lack of historical tact, they forget that antecedent to this capitalism there was nothing but the same exploitation combined with countless forms of bondage and personal dependence, which burdened the position of the labourer, nothing but routine and stagnation in social production and, hence, in all spheres of social life. Contending against capitalism from their romantic, petty-bourgeois angle, the Narodniks throw all historical realism overboard and always compare the reality of capitalism with a fiction of the pre-capitalist order. The “heritage” of the sixties with their ardent faith in the progressive character of the existing course of social development, their relentless enmity directed wholly and exclusively against the relics of the past, their conviction that these relics had only to be swept clean away and everything would go splendidly—this ’heritage,” far from having any part in the aforementioned views of Narodism, runs directly counter to them.

The second feature of Narodism is belief in Russia’s exceptionalism, idealisation of the peasantry, the village community, etc. The doctrine of Russia’s exceptionalism induced the Narodniks to seize upon out-dated West-European theories, prompted them to regard many of the achievements of West-European culture with amazing levity: the Narodniks reassured themselves with the thought that, if we lacked some of the features of civilised humanity, “we are destined,” on the other hand, to show the world new modes of economy, etc. Not only was the analysis of capitalism and all its manifestations given by progressive West-European thought not accepted in relation to Holy Russia; every effort was made to invent excuses for not drawing the same conclusions about Russian capitalism as were made regarding European capitalism. The Narodniks bowed and scraped to the authors of this analysis and—calmly continued to remain romanticists of the same sort as these authors had all their lives contended against. Again, this doctrine of Russia’s exceptionalism, which is shared by all the Narodniks, far from having anything in common with the “heritage,” runs directly counter to it. The “sixties,” on the contrary, desired to Europeanise Russia, believed that she should adopt the general European culture, were concerned to have the institutions of this culture transferred to our anything but exceptional soil. Any doctrine that teaches that Russia is exceptional is completely at variance with the spirit and the tradition of the sixties. Even more at variance with this tradition is Narodism’s idealisation and over-embellishment of the countryside. This false idealisation, which desired at all costs to see something specific in our rural system, something quite unlike the rural system in every other country in the period of pre-capitalist relations, is in naked contradiction to the traditions of the sober and realistic heritage. The wider and more deeply capitalism developed, the more distinctly did the countryside display the contradictions common to every commodity-capitalist society, the more and more glaringly did the antithesis stand out between the Narodniks’ honeyed talk about the peasant’s “community spirit,” “artel spirit,” etc., on the one hand, and the actual division of the peasantry into a rural bourgeoisie and a rural proletariat on the other; and the more rapidly did the Narodniks, who continued to look upon things with the eyes of the peasant, change from sentimental romanticists into ideologists of the petty bourgeoisie, because in modern society the small producer changes into a commodity producer. Their false idealisation of the countryside and romantic dreams about the “community spirit” led the Narodniks to adopt an extremely frivolous attitude towards the peasants’ real needs arising from the existing course of economic development. In theory one might talk to one’s heart’s content about the strength of the foundations, but in practice every Narodnik sensed very well that the elimination of the relics of the past, the survivals of the pre-Reform system, which to this day bind our peasantry from head to foot, would open the way to precisely the capitalist course of development, and no other. Better stagnation than capitalist progress—this, essentially, is every Narodnik’s attitude to the countryside, although of course not every Narodnik would venture to say so frankly and bluntly, with the same forthrightness of a Mr. V. V. “Tied to their allotments and communities, and unable to apply their labour where it. would be more productive and of greater advantage to themselves, the peasants are, as it were, frozen in that congested, herd-like, unproductive form of life in which they emerged from serfdom.” That is how one of the representatives of the “heritage” saw it from his characteristic “enlightener’s” standpoint.[23] “Better that the peasants remain frozen in their routine, patriarchal form of life, than clear the way for capitalism in the countryside”— that, essentially, is how every Narodnik sees it. Indeed, probably not a single Narodnik would venture to deny that social-estate exclusiveness of the peasant community, with its collective responsibility and its ban on the sale of land and on the right to refuse an allotment, stands in the sharpest contradiction to contemporary economic realities, to contemporary commodity-capitalist relations and their development. To deny this contradiction is impossible, but the whole point is that the Narodniks are mortally afraid of this presentation of the question, of this contrasting of the legal status of the peasantry with economic realities and the present course of economic development. The Narodnik is stubbornly determined to believe in a non-existent non-capitalist development which is a figment of his romantic imagination, and therefore ... and therefore he is prepared to retard the present development, which is proceeding along capitalist lines. The Narodnik’s attitude to such problems as the social-estate exclusiveness of the peasant community, collective responsibility, and the peasant’s right to sell and give up his allotment, is not only one of extreme caution and fear for the fate of the “foundations” (the foundations of routine and stagnation); more than this, the Narodnik falls so low that he even welcomes the police rule forbidding the peasants to sell land. To such a Narodnik, one might retort in the words of Engelhardt: “The muzhik is stupid, he cannot manage his own affairs. If nobody looks after him, he will burn down all the forests, kill off all the birds, denude the rivers of fish, ruin the land and himself die out.” Here the Narodnik quite definitely “renounces the heritage,” becomes a reactionary. And note that with the progress of economic development, this destruction. But what about the foreign market? Do we deny that capitalism needs a foreign market? Of course not. But the question of a foreign market has absolutely nothing to do with the question of realisation, and the attempt to link them into one whole merely expresses the romantic wish to “retard” capitalism, and the romantic inability to think logically. The theory which has explained the question of realisation has proved this up to the hilt. The romanticist says: the capitalists cast allotment and community is an enormous restriction on his economic activity, makes it impossible for him to find a better employer, and compels him to sell his labour-power only to local purchasers, who invariably pay less and seek all sorts of ways and means of reducing him to bondage. Having surrendered to the sway of romantic dreaming and set himself the aim of maintaining and preserving the foundations despite the course of economic development, the Narodnik, without himself observing it, bad slipped down this inclined plane until he found himself side by side with the agrarian, who yearns with all his heart and soul for the preservation and consolidation of the “peasant’s tie with the land.” It is worth recalling, for example, that this social-estate exclusiveness of the peasant community has bred specific methods of hiring workers: factory and farm owners send out agents to the villages, especially those heavily in arrears, to hire labourers on the most advantageous terms. Fortunately, the development of agricultural capitalism, by breaking down the “settled state” of the proletarian (such is the effect of the so-called agricultural outside employments), is gradually substituting free hire for this form of bondage.

Another, and perhaps no less striking corroboration of our contention that the present-day Narodnik theories are pernicious, is to be found in the common tendency among the Narodniks to idealise labour services. We have already given an example of how Engelhardt, consummating his Narodnik fall from grace, went so far as to say that “it would be a good thing” to develop labour services in the countryside! We find the same thing in Mr. Yuzhakov’s famous project for agricultural gymnasia (Russkoye Bogatstvo, 1895, No. 5).[12] In serious economic articles in the same journal, a fellow contributor of Engelhardt’s, Mr. V. V., indulged in similar idealisation when he declared that the peasant had scored a victory over the landlord, who had supposedly wanted to introduce capitalism; but the whole trouble was that the peasant undertook to cultivate the landlord’s land in return for land received from him “on lease”—in other words, was restoring the very same mode of economy as existed under serfdom. These are some of the most glaring illustrations of the Narodniks’ reactionary attitude to problems concerning our agriculture. In less glaring form, you will find this idea advocated by every Narodnik. Every Narodnik says that capitalism in our agriculture is pernicious and dangerous, because capitalism, you see, substitutes the farm labourer for the independent peasant. The reality of capitalism (the “farm labourer”) is contrasted to the fiction of the “independent” peasant: and this fiction is based on the peasant ownership of means of production in the pre-capitalist era, the fact being modestly ignored that the peasant has to pay double their value for these means of production; that these means of production serve for the performance of labour service; that the living standard of this “independent” peasant is so low that in any capitalist country he would be classed as a pauper; and that added to the hopeless poverty and intellectual inertness of this “independent” peasant is the personal dependence that inevitably accompanies pre-capitalist forms of economy.

The third characteristic feature of Narodism—disregard of the connection between the “intelligentsia” and the country’s legal and political institutions, on the one hand, and the material interests of definite social classes, on the other—is bound up indissolubly with the previous ones: only this unrealistic attitude to sociological problems could have bred the doctrine that Russian capitalism is a “mistake,” and that “diversion from the path” is possible. This Narodnik view, too, bears no relation to the “heritage” and traditions of the sixties; on the contrary, it runs directly counter to these traditions. A natural corollary to this view is the Narodniks’ attitude to the numerous survivals of the pre-Reform reglementation of Russian life, an attitude which the representatives of the “heritage” could not possibly have shared. To illustrate this attitude, we shall take the liberty of borrowing the excellent remarks of Mr. V. Ivanov in his article “A Shabby Fabrication” (Novoye Slovo, September 1897). The author refers to Mr. Boborykin’s novel A Different Way, and exposes his misconception of the dispute between the Narodniks and the “disciples.” Mr. Boborykin makes his hero, a Narodnik, reproach the “disciples” for supposedly dreaming of “a barrack regime with the intolerable despotism of reglementation.” Mr. V. Ivanov observes in this connection that:

“Far from saying that the ‘dream’ of their opponents was the intolerable despotism of ‘reglementation,’ they” (the Narodniks) “cannot and will not say so as long as they remain Narodniks. The substance of their dispute with the ‘economic materialists’ in this respect is that, in the opinion of the Narodniks, the remaining survivals of the old reglementation may serve as the basis for its further development. The intolerableness of the old reglementation is veiled from their eyes, on the one hand, by their conviction that the very ‘peasant soul (single and indivisible) is evolving’ towards reglementation, and, on the other, by their belief in the existing or coming moral beauty of the ‘intelligentsia,’ ‘society,’ or the ‘leading classes’ generally. They accuse the economic materialists of being infatuated not with ‘reglementation,’ but, on the contrary, with the West-European system, which is based on freedom from reglementation. And the economic materialists really do assen that the survivals of the old reglementation, which sprang from a natural form of economy, are daily becoming more ‘intolerable’ in a country that has passed over to a money economy, entailing countless changes both in the actual status and in the menial and moral complexion of the various sections of its population. They are therefore convinced that the conditions necessary for the rise of a new and beneficial ‘reglementation’ of the country’s economic life cannot develop out of the survivals of a reglementation which was adapted to a natural economy and serfdom, and can only evolve in such an atmosphere of wide and comprehensive freedom from the old reglementation as exists in the advanced countries of Western Europe and America. That is how matters stand with the question of ‘reglementation’ in the dispute between the Narodniks and their opponents” (pp. 11-12, loc. cit.). This attitude of the Narodniks to “the survivals of the old reglementation is, perhaps, their most flagrant departure from the traditions of the “heritage.” The representatives of this heritage were, as we have seen, distinguished by their ineradicable and fierce aversion for every survival of the old reglementation. Consequently, in this respect the “disciples” are incomparably closer to the “traditions” and “heritage” of the sixties than the Narodniks are.

In addition to the highly important error of the Narodniks mentioned above, their lack of sociological realism impels them to a specific manner of thinking and reasoning about social affairs and problems which might be called narrow intellectual self-conceit or, perhaps, the bureaucratic mentality. The Narodnik is always dilating on the path “we” should choose for our country, the misfortunes that would arise if “we” directed the country along such-and-such a path, the prospects “we” could ensure ourselves if we avoided the dangers of the path old Europe has taken, if- we “take what is good” both from Europe and from our ancient village-community system, and so on and so forth. Hence the Narodnik’s complete distrust and contempt for the independent trends of the various social classes which are shaping history in accordance with their own interests. Hence the amazing levity with which the Narodnik (forgetting the conditions surrounding him) advances all sorts of social projects, from the “organisation of agricultural labour” to the “communalisation of production” through the good offices of our “society.” “Mit der Gründlichkeit der geschichtlichen Action wird also der Umfang der Masse zunehmen, deren Action sie ist”[13] —these words express one of the profoundest and most important precepts of that historico-philosophical theory which our Narodniks will not and cannot understand. As man’s history-making activity grows broader and deeper, the size of that mass of the population which is the conscious maker of history is bound to increase. The Narodnik, however, always regarded the population in general, and the working population in particular, as the object of this or that more or less sensible measure, as something to be directed along this or that path, and never regarded the various classes of the population as independent history-makers on the existing path, never asked which conditions of the present path might stimulate (or, on the contrary, paralyse) the independent and conscious activity of these history-makers.

And so, although Narodism, by posing the question of capitalism in Russia, made a big step forward compared with the “heritage” of the enlighteners, the solution of the question it offered has proved so unsatisfactory, because of its petty-bourgeois outlook and sentimental criticism of capitalism, that on a number of cardinal questions of social life it lags behind the “enlighteners.” Narodism’s association with the heritage and traditions of our enlighteners has proved in the end to be a drawback: the new questions with which Russian social thought has been confronted by Russia’s post-Reform economic development, Narodism has not solved, confining itself to sentimental and reactionary lamentations over them; while Narodnik romanticism has obscured the old questions already posed by the enlighteners, thus retarding their full solution.


The “Enlighteners,” the Narodniks, and the “Disciples”

We may now sum up the results of our comparisons. Let us endeavour to give a brief description of the relationship in which each of the trends of social thought enumerated in the sub-title stands to the others.

The enlightener believes in the present course of social development, because he fails to observe its inherent contradictions. The Narodnik fears the present course of social development, because he is already aware of these contradictions. The “disciple” believes in the present course of social development, because he sees the only earnest of a better future in the full development of these contradictions. The first and last trends therefore strive to support, accelerate, facilitate development along the present path, to remove all obstacles which hamper this development and retard it. Narodism, on the contrary, strives to retard and halt this development, is afraid of abolishing certain obstacles to the development of capitalism. The first and last trends are distinguished by what may be called historical optimism: the farther and the quicker things go as they are, the better it will be. Narodism, on the contrary, naturally tends to historical pessimism: the farther things go as they are, the worse it will be. The “enlighteners” never posed questions concerning the character of post-Reform development and confined themselves exclusively to warring against the survivals of the pre-Reform system, to the negative task of clearing the way for a European type of development in Russia. Narodism posed the question of capitalism in Russia, but answered it in the sense that capitalism is reactionary, and therefore could not wholly accept the heritage of the enlighteners: the Narodniks always warred against people who in general strove to Europeanise Russia from the standpoint of a “single civilisation”; warred against them not only because they, the Narodniks, could not confine themselves to these people’s ideals (such a war would have been lust), but because they did not want to go so far in the development of this, i.e., capitalist, civilisation. The ‘disciples” answer the question of capitalism in Russia in the sense that it is progressive, and they therefore not only can, but must, accept the heritage of the enlighteners in its entirety, supplementing it with an analysis of the contradictions of capitalism from the standpoint of the property-less producers. The enlighteners did not single out any one class of the population for special attention; they not only spoke of the people in general, but even of the nation in general. The Narodniks were desirous of representing the interests of labour, but they did not point to any definite groups in the contemporary economic system; actually, they always took the standpoint of the small producer, whom capitalism converts into a commodity producer. The “disciples” not only take the interests of labour as their criterion, but in doing so point to quite definite economic groups in the capitalist economy, namely, the propertyless producers. By the nature of their aims, the first and last trends correspond to the interests of the classes which are created and developed by capitalism; Narodism, by its nature, corresponds to the interests of the class of small producers, the petty bourgeoisie, which occupies an intermediate position among the classes of contemporary society. Consequently, Narodism’s contradictory attitude to the “heritage” is not accidental, but is a necessary result of the very nature of the Narodnik views: we have seen that one of the basic features of the enlighteners’ views was the ardent desire to Europeanise Russia, but the Narodniks cannot possibly share this desire fully without ceasing to be Narodniks.

We have in the end arrived at the conclusion which we have repeatedly indicated above in particular instances namely, that the disciples are much more consistent and faithful guardians of the heritage than the Narodniks As far from renouncing the heritage, they consider it one of their principal duties to refute the romantic and petty-bourgeois fears which induce the Narodniks on very many and very important points to reject the European ideals of the enlighteners. But it goes without saying that the “disciples” do not guard the heritage in the way an archivist guards an old document. Guarding the heritage does not mean confining oneself to the heritage, and the ‘disciples” add to their defence of the general ideals of Europeanism an analysis of the contradictions implicit in our capitalist development, and an assessment of this development from the specific standpoint indicated above.


Mr. Mikhailovsky on the “Disciples”’ Renunciation of the Heritage

Let us, in conclusion, return to Mr. Mikhailovsky and examine his statements on the subject under consideration. Not only does Mr. Mikhailovsky declare that these people (the disciples) “do not acknowledge any continuity with the past and emphatically renounce the heritage” (loc. cit., 179); he also affirms that “they” (together with other persons of the most diverse trends, up to and including Mr. Abramov, Mr. Volynsky and Mr. Rozanov) “hurl themselves against the heritage with the greatest fury” (180). To which heritage is Mr. Mikhailovsky referring? To the heritage of the sixties and seventies, the heritage which Moskovskiye Vedomosti solemnly renounced and renounces (178).

We have already said that if it is a question of the “heritage” that has fallen to the people of today, then one must distinguish between two heritages: one is the heritage of the enlighteners in general, of the people who were absolutely hostile to the whole pre-Reform order, who stood for European ideals and for the interests of the broad mass of the population. The other heritage is Narodism. We have already shown that to confuse these two different things would be a gross error, for everyone knows that there have been, and still are, people who guard the “traditions of the sixties” but have nothing in common with Narodism. All Mr. Mikhailovsky’s observations are founded wholly and exclusively upon a confusion of these totally different heritages. And since Mr. Mikhailovsky must be aware of this difference, his sally is not only absurd, but definitely slanderous. Did Moskovskiye Vedomosti hurl itself against Narodism specifically? Not at all: it hurled itself no less, if not more, against the enlighteners in general, and Vestnik Yevropy, which absolutely abhors Narodism, is in its eyes no less an enemy than the Narodnik Russkoye Bogatstvo. Moskovskiye Vedomosti would, of course, disagree on many points with the Narodniks who most emphatically renounce the heritage—Yuzov, for example—but it would hardly hurl itself against him with fury, and in any case, it would praise him for that which distinguishes him from the Narodniks who desire to guard the heritage. Did Mr. Abramov or Mr. Volynsky hurl himself against Narodism? Not at all. The former is himself a Narodnik; and both hurled themselves against the enlighteners in general. Did the “Russian disciples” hurl themselves against the Russian enlighteners? Did they ever renounce the heritage which enjoins unreserved hostility to the pre-Reform way of life and its survivals? Far from hurling themselves against it, they denounced the Narodniks for desiring to maintain some of these survivals out of a petty-bourgeois fear of capitalism. Did they ever hurl themselves against the heritage which enjoins European ideals generally? Far from hurling themselves against it, they denounced the Narodniks because on many very important issues, instead of espousing general European ideals, they concoct the most arrant nonsense about Russia’s exceptional character. Did they ever hurl themselves against the heritage which enjoins concern for the interests of the labouring masses of the population? Far from hurling themselves against it, they denounced the Narodniks because their concern for these interests is inconsistent (owing to their confirmed tendency to lump together the peasant bourgeoisie and the rural proletariat); because the value of their concern is diminished by their habit of dreaming of what might be, instead of turning their attention to what is; because their concern is extremely circumscribed, since they have never been able properly to appraise the conditions (economic and other) which make it easier or harder for these people to care for their own interests themselves.

Mr. Mikhailovsky may not agree with these denunciations—being a Narodnik, he certainly will not agree with them— but to assert that certain people “furiously” attack the ‘heritage of the sixties and the seventies,” when, actually, they “furiously” attack only Narodism, and attack it for having failed to solve the new problems posed by post-Reform history in the spirit of this heritage and without contradicting it—such an assertion is a direct misrepresentation of the truth.

Mr. Mikhailovsky most amusingly complains that the “disciples” readily confuse “us” (i.e., the Russkoye Bogatstvo writers) with the “Narodniks” and other persons who have no connection with Russkoye Bogatstvo’ (p. 180). This curious attempt at dissociation from the “Narodniks,” while at the same time preserving all the basic views of Narodism, can evoke nothing but laughter. Everyone knows that all the “Russian disciples” employ the words “Narodnik” and “Narodism” in the broad sense. That there are quite a number of different shades among the Narodniks has not been forgotten or denied by anybody: in their books neither P. Struve nor N. Beltov, for instance, “confused” Mr. N. Mikhailovsky with Mr. V. V., or even for that matter with Mr. Yuzhakov; that is, they did not gloss over the differences between them, or ascribe the views of one to the other. P. B. Struve even expressly drew attention to the difference between Mr. Yuzhakov’s views and those of Mr. Mikhailovsky. It is one thing to confuse different views; it is another to generalise and class in one category writers who, despite their differences on many questions, are at one on the fundamental and principal points, points which the “disciples” oppose. What is important for the “disciple” is not to show the worthlessness of the views which distinguish, for instance, a Mr. Yuzov from the other Narodniks, but to refute the views common to Mr. Yuzov and Mr. Mikhailovsky and all the Narodniks in general—that is, their attitude to Russia’s capitalist evolution, their discussion of economic and social problems from the standpoint of the small producer, their failure to understand social (or historical) materialism. These features are the common property of a whole trend of social thought which has played a big historical role. This broad trend contains the most varied shades: right and left flanks, people who have sunk to nationalism and anti-semitism, etc., and people who are not guilty of these things; people who have been contemptuous of many of the behests of the “heritage,” and people who have striven their utmost (that is, the utmost possible to a Narodnik) to guard these behests. Not one of the “Russian disciples” has denied these differences of shade; not one of them has Mr. Mikhailovsky been able to convict of ascribing the views of a Narodnik of one shade to a Narodnik of another shade. But since we oppose the fundamental views common to all these different shades, why should we be expected to speak of partial differences within the general trend? That, surely, is an absolutely senseless demand! Long before the appearance of the “disciples,” our literature had noted many times that writers who were far from unanimous on everything held common views on Russia’n capitalism, the peasant “community,” the almighty power of so-called “society,” and not only noted it, but praised it as a happy peculiarity of Russia. Again, in its broad sense, the term “Narodism” was employed in our literature long before the appearance of the “disciples.” Not only did Mr. Mikhailovsky contribute for many years to a journal along with the “Narodnik” (in the narrow sense) Mr. V. V., but the outlook of both bore the same fundamental features mentioned above. Though, both in the eighties and the nineties, he objected to some of Mr. V. V.’s conclusions, and denied the correctness of his excursions into the field of abstract sociology, Mr. Mikhailovsky, both in the eighties and the nineties, made the reservation that his criticism was not directed against Mr. V. V.’s economic works, that he was at one with his basic views on Russian capitalism. Consequently, if the pillars of Russkoye Bogatstvo, who have done so much to develop, reinforce and disseminate the views of Narodism (in the broad sense), now think that they can escape the criticism of the “Russian disciples” simply by declaring that they are not “Narodniks” (in the narrow sense), that they constitute a quite specific “ethico-social school”—such subterfuges, of course, can only expose to justified ridicule people who are so brave and at the same time so diplomatic.

On p. 182 of his article, Mr. Mikhailovsky also levels the following phenomenal argument against the “disciples.” Mr. Kamensky venomously attacks the Narodniks[24]; that, you see, “indicates that he is angry, which he is not entitled (sic!!) to be. We, the ‘subjective oldsters,’ as well as the ‘subjective youngsters, can permit ourselves this weakness without being guilty of self-contradiction, But the representatives of a doctrine which ‘prides itself on its inexorable objectivity’ “ (the expression of one of the “disciples”) “are in a different position.”

What is this?! If people insist that views on social phenomena must be based upon an inexorably objective analysis of realities and the real course of development, then it follows that they are not entitled to be angry?! Why, this is utter twaddle, the sheer gibberish! Have you not heard, Mr. Mikhailovsky, that the famous work on Capital is considered to be one of the finest specimens of inexorable objectivity in the investigation of social phenomena? It is precisely the inexorable objectivity of the work that is regarded by many scientists and economists as its principal and basic defect. Yet rarely will you find in a scientific work so much “feeling,” so much heated and passionate polemical attacks on representatives of backward views, on representatives of the social classes which, in the author’s convinced opinion, are hampering social development. A writer who shows with inexorable objectivity that the opinions of Proudhon, say, are a natural, understandable and inevitable reflexion of the views and sentiments of the French petit bourgeois, nevertheless “hurls himself” against that ideologist of the petty bourgeoisie with tremendous passion and fiery wrath. Does Mr. Mikhailovsky believe that Marx is here guilty of “self-contradiction”? If a certain doctrine demands of everyone taking part in public life an inexorably objective analysis of realities and of the relationships between the various classes arising from these realities, by what miracle can the conclusion be drawn from this that they must not sympathise, are “not entitled” to sympathise with one or another class? It is ridiculous in this connection even to talk of duty, for no living person can help taking the side of one class or another (once he has understood their interrelationships), can help rejoicing at the successes of that class and being disappointed by its failures, can help being angered by those who are hostile to that class, who hamper its development by disseminating backward views, and so on and so forth. Mr. Mikhailovsky’s nonsensical sally only shows that he still fails to grasp the very elementary distinction between determinism and fatalism.

“‘Capital is coming’!—that is certain,” writes Mr. Mikhailovsky,—”but (sic) the question is, how shall we greet it” (p. 189).

Mr. Mikhailovsky makes a great discovery, points to a “question” to which the “Russian disciples” have evidently given no thought whatever! As though it were not on this question that the “Russian disciples” have parted ways with the Narodniks! One can “greet” the capitalism developing in Russia only in two ways: one can regard it either as progressive, or as retrogressive; either as a step forward on the right road, or as a deviation from the true path; one can assess it either from the standpoint of the class of small producers which capitalism destroys, or from the standpoint of the class of propertyless producers which capitalism creates. There is no middle way.[14] Consequently, if Mr. Mikhailovsky denies the correctness of the attitude to capitalism which the “disciples” insist on, it means that he accepts the Narodnik attitude which he has many a time expressed quite definitely in his earlier articles. He has not made any additions or amendments to his old views on this subject, and continues to remain a Narodnik. But nothing of the kind! He is not a Narodnik, heaven forbid He is a representative of an “ethico-sociological school.”...

“Let no one talk,” Mr. Mikhailovsky continues, “of those future (??) benefits which the further development of capitalism will (?) bring.”

Mr. Mikhailovsky is no Narodnik. He only reiterates all the Narodniks’ errors and fallacious methods of argument. How many times have the Narodniks been told that this talk of the “future” is wrong, that it is not a question of “future,” but of actual progressive changes already taking place in the pre-capitalist relationships—changes which the development of capitalism in Russia is bringing (not, will bring). By transplanting the question to the “future,” Mr. Mikhailovsky in point of fact takes for granted the very assertions which the ‘disciples” contest. He takes it for granted that in reality, in what is taking place under our eyes, the development of capitalism is not bringing any progressive changes into the old socio-economic relations. This is what constitutes the Narodnik view, and it is against this that the “Russian disciples” argue and demonstrate that the contrary is true. There is not a book put out by the “Russian disciples” which does not affirm and demonstrate that the replacement of labour service by wage-labour in agriculture, and the replacement of what is called “handicraft” industry by factory industry, is a real phenomenon which is taking place (and, moreover, at a tremendous speed) now, under our eyes, and not merely “in the future”; that this change is in all respects progressive, that it is breaking down routine, disunited, small-scale hand production which has been immobile and stagnant for ages; that it is increasing the productivity of social labour, and thereby creating the possibility of higher living standards for the working man; that it is also creating the conditions which convert this possibility into a necessity—namely, by converting the “settled proletarian” lost in the “backwoods,” settled physically and morally, into a mobile proletarian, and by converting Asiatic forms of labour, with their infinitely developed bondage and diverse forms of personal dependence, into European forms of labour; that “the European manner of thought and feeling is no less necessary (note, necessary. V. I.) for the effective utilisation of machines than steam, coal, techniques,”[15] etc. All this, we repeat, is affirmed and demonstrated by every “disciple,” but, presumably, does not apply to Mr. Mikhailovsky “and company”; all this is only written against “Narodniks” who are “not connected” with Russkoye Bogatstvo. Russkoye Bogatstvo, you see, is an “ethico-sociological school,” whose essence is that it serves up the old rubbish under a new guise.

As we observed above, the purpose of this article is to refute the allegation so widespread ‘in the liberal-Narodnik press that the “Russian disciples” abjure the “heritage,” break with the best traditions of the best section of Russian society, and so forth. It is not without interest to observe that, in reiterating these hackneyed phrases, Mr. Mikhailovsky in point of fact says exactly the same thing as was said much earlier and much more emphatically by a “Narodnik” “not connected” with Russkoye Bogatstvo—Mr. V. V. Are you familiar, dear reader, with the articles which this writer contributed to Nedelya[25] three years ago, at the close of 1894, in reply to P. B. Struve’s book? If you are not, I must confess that, in my opinion, you have lost absolutely nothing. The basic idea of these articles, is that the “Russian disciples” are breaking the democratic thread which runs through all the progressive trends of Russian social thought. Is this not exactly what Mr. Mikhailovsky says, only in somewhat different terms, when he accuses the “disciples” of renouncing the “heritage,” against which Moskovskiye Vedomosti hurls itself with fury? Actually, as we have seen, the inventors of this allegation blame others for their own sins when they assert that the “disciples”’ irrevocable break with Narodism signifies a break with the best traditions of the best section of Russian society. Is it not the other way round, sirs? Does not such a break signify that these best traditions are being purged of Narodism?


[1] Skaldin, In the Back woods and in the Capital, St. Petersburg, 1870 (p. 454). We have not been able to obtain copies of Otechestvenniye Zapiski for this period and have used only the book. —Lenin

[2] “‘Ourland has been so trimmed down by him’” (author’s italics) “‘that we can’t live without this cut-off land; he has surrounded us on all sides with his fields and we have nowhere to pasture our cattle; so you have to pay for your allotment, and on top of that you have to pay for the cut-off land, just as much as he asks.’” “‘How does that better us?’ said one literate arid experienced muthik, a former quit-renter. ‘We are paying the same quit-rent as before, though our land has been trimmed down.’” —Lenin

[3] Peasants in the Roman Empire were bound to definite plots of land which they could not abandon however unprofitable their cultivation might be—Ed.

[4] Skaldin very circumstantially demonstrates the correctness not only of the first, but also of the second part of this definition (proletarian). He devotes much space in his essays to a description of the peasants’ dependent status and their poverty, to a description of the hard lot of the agricultural labourer, to a “description of the 1868 famine” (heading of the fifth essay) and of the diverse forms of peasant bondage and humiliation. There were people in the sixties, as there are in the nineties, who sought to hush up or deny the existence of famine. Skaldin passionately opposes them. It would of course be superfluous to give detailed excerpts on this point. —Lenin

[5] And vice versa, all the progressive practical measures that we find the Narodniks advocating are, in substance, fully bourgeois, that is, they conduce to the capitalist line of development, and no other. Only petty-bourgeois people could concoct the theory that extension of peasant land tenure, tax reduction, resettlement, credits, technical progress, marketing arrangements and suchlike measures would serve the interests of so-called “people’s production.” —Lenin

[6] It might perhaps be objected that Skaldin is not typical of the sixties because of his hostility to the village community and because of his tone. But it is not a question of the village community alone. It is a question of the views common to all the enlighteners, which Skaldin shared. As to his tone, it really is not typical in its calm reasonableness, moderation, emphasis on gradualness, etc. It was not without reason that Engels called Skaldin a Liberalkoservatir.[26] However, the selection of a representative of the heritage with a more typical tone would, firstly, he inconvenient for various reasons, and might, secondly, give rise to misunderstanding when comparing him with the present-day Narodniks.[27] Because of the very character of our task, the tone (contrary to the proverb) does not make the music, and Skaldin’s untypical tone serves to bring out his “music,” that is, the substance of his views, more distinctly. And it is only the substance that interests us. It is only on the basis of the substance of writers’ views (and not of their tone) that we intend to draw the comparison between the representatives of the heritage and the present-day Narodniks. —Lenin

[7] Incidentally, this would be not only extremely interesting and instructive, but also perfectly legitimate on the part of an economic Investigator. If scientists trust the data of questionnarres— the answers and opinions of numerous proprietors, who all too often are biassed and ill-informed, have not developed a consistent outlook or intelligently thought out their views—why not trust the observations gathered for a full eleven years by a marl with splendid powers of observation, who is unquestionably sincere and has made a superb study of what he is talking about. —Lenin

[8] Russkoye Bogatstvo, 1896, No. 5, May. Mr. Karyshev’s article about gubernia Zemstvo expenditure on economic measures. P. 20. —Lenin

[9] Remember the picture of the village elder (i.e. the landlord’s steward) summoning a peasant to work when the latter’s own grain is already overripe and spoiling, and he is compelled to go merely because, if he does not, the volost authorities will “take his pants down.” —Lenin

[10] Cf. Tugan-Baranovsky’s The Russian Factory (St. Petersburg, 1898). —Lenin

[11] I have already had occasion to remark above in the article on economic romanticism that our opponents display remarkable short-sightedness in regarding the terms , reactionary and petty-bourgeois as polemical abuse, when they have a perfectly definite historico-philosophical meaning. (See p. 217 of the present volume—Ed.) —Lenin

[12] See pp. 73—80 and 459-89 of the present volume—Ed. Lenin

[13] Marx, Die heilige Fasmilie, p. 120. Quoted from fleltov, p. 235. (“With the thoroughness of the historical action, the size of the mass whose action it is will therefore increase.” Marx, The Holy Family[28]—Ed.) —Lenin

[14] We say nothing, of course, of the greeting given It by those who. do not consider it necessary to be guided by the Interests of labour, or to whom the very generalisation denoted by the term “capitalism” is incomprehensible and unintelligible. However important such trends of thought may be in Russian life they have nothing ‘whatever to do with the dispute between the Narodnil’s and their opponents, and there is no point in bringing them into it. —Lenin

[15] The words of Schulze-Gavernitz in an article on the Moscow’Vladimir cotton industry in Schmollers Jahrbuch, [29] 1896. —Lenin

[17] Otechestvenniye Zapiski (Fatherland Notes)—a literary-political magazine that began publication in St. Petersburg in 1820. From 1839 it became the best progressive journal of its day. Among its contributors were V. G. Belinsky, A. I. Herzen, T. N. Granevaky, and N. P. Ogaryov. Following Beiinsky’s departure from the editorial board in 1846, the importance of Otechestvenniye Zapiski began to diminish. In 1868 the journal came under the direction of N. A. Nekrasov and N. Y. Saltykov-Shchedrln. This marked the onset of a period in which the journal flourished anew, gathering around itself the revolutionary democratic intellectuals of Russia. When Nekrasov died (in 1877), the Narodniks gained dominant influence in the journal.

Otechestvenniye Zapiski was continually harassed by the censors, and in April 1834 was closed down by the tsarist government.

[18] The “peasant Reform” of 1861, which abolished serfdom In Russia, was effected by the tsarist government in the interests of the serf owning landlords. The Reform was made necessary by the entire course of Russia’s economic development and by the growth of a mass movement among the peasantry against feudal exploitation. In its form the ‘peasant Reform” was feudal, but the force of economic development that had drawn Russia on to the capitalist path gave the feudal form a capitalist content, and this content became “the more evident the less land was filched from the peasants, the mere fully the land of the peasants was separated from that of the landlords, the less the tribute” (i.e., redemption) “paid to the feudalists” (“The ‘Peasant Reform’ and proletarian-Peasant Revolution.” See present edition, Vol. 17). The “peasant Reform marked a step towards Russia’s transformation into a bourgeois monarchy. On February 19, 1861, Alexander II signed a Manifesto and Regulations for the peasants, who had been freed from feudal dependence. In all, 22,500,000 serfs, formerly belonging to landowners, were “emancipated.” Landed proprietorship, however, remained. The peasants’ lands were declared the property of the landlords. The peasant could only get a land allotment according to the standard established by law (and even then by agreement with the landlord), and had to redeem it, that is, pay for it. The peasants made their redemption payments to the tsarist government, that had paid the established sums to the landlords. Approximate estimates show that after the Reform, the nobility possessed 71,500,000 dessiatines of land and the peasants 83,700,000 dessiatines. The Reform enabled the landlords to cut off and appropriate one-fifth or even two-fifths of the lands formerly cultivated by the peasants.

The Reform merely undermined, but did not abolish, the old corvée system of farming. The landlords secured possession of the best parts of the peasants’ allotments (the ‘cut-off lands,” woods, meadows, watering places, grazing grounds, and so on), without which the peasants could not engage in independent farming. Until the redemption arrangements were completed the peasants were considered to be “temporarily bound,” and rendered services to the landlord in the shape of quit-rent or corvèe service.

The Russian revolutionary democrats, headed by N. G. Chernyshevsky, criticised the “peasant Reform” for its feudal character. V. I. Lenin called the “peasant Reform” of 1861 the first mass act of violence against the peasantry in the interests of nascent capitalism in agriculture—the landlords were “clearing the estates” for capitalism.

For material ‘on the 1861 Reform, see F. Engels’ article “Socialism in Germany” (Die Neue Zeit, 1g. X, Ed. 1,1891, H. 19) and VI. Lenin’s “The Fiftieth Anniversary of the downfall of Serfdom,” “The Jubilee,” “The ‘Peasant Reform’ and Proletarian-Peasant Revolution” (see present edition, Vol. 47).

[19] The Regulations of February 19,1861, were legislative acts on the abolition of serfdom in Russia.

[26] Engels describes Skaldin as a moderate conservative In his article “Soziales aus Russland” (“On Social Relations in Russia”). Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, p. 58.

[27] When speaking of the ideological “heritage” of the 1860s Lenin was compelled, for censorship reasons, to make reference to Skaldin. Actually Lenin considered Chernyshevsky to be the principal representative of this “heritage.” In a letter to A. N. Potresov dated January 26, 1899, from exile in Siberia, Lenin wrote: “... nowhere, however, do I suggest accepting the heritage from Skaldin. There can be no doubt that it should be accepted from other people. I think that the footnote on p. 237” (p. 505 of the present volume), “in which I had Chernyshevsky in mind and explained why it was not convenient to take him for purposes of comparison, will make it easier for me to defend myself (against possible attacks by opponents).”

[20] Zemkdekheskaya Gareeta (Agriculttural News)—organ of the Ministry of State Properties (from 1894—of the Ministry of State Properties and Agriculture); appeared in St. Petersburg from 1834 to 1917.

[21] Cycle cultivation—an enslaving form of labour-service rendered to the landlord by the peasant as rental for land obtained from him. The landlord lent the peasant land or made him a loan in cash or kind for which the peasant undertook to cultivate a “cycle” using his own implements and draught animals: this meant cultivating one dessialine of spring crops and one of winter crops, occasionally supplemented by reaping a dessiatine of crops.

[22] Vestnik Yevropy (European Messenger)—a monthly historico-political and literary magazine, bourgeois-liberal in trend. Appeared in St. Petersburg from 1866 to 1918. The magazine published articles directed against the revolutionary Marxists. The magazine’s editor and publisher until 1908 was M. M. Stasyulevich.

[23] These words are from Skaldin’s book, In the Backwoods and in the Capital, St. Petersburg, 1870, p. 285.

[28] Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, Moscow, 1958, p. 110.

[24] N. Kamensky was one of the pseudonyms used by G. V. Piekhanov. The article referred to is his “Materialist Conception of History,” published In 1897 in issue No. 12 (September) of Ploroye Slovo.

[29] Schmol1ers Jahrbuch—its full title is Jahrbuch fur Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volksrirtscha/t im Deutschen Reich. (Legislative, Administrative and Economic Yearbook for the German Empire)— a magazine dealing with political economy, published from 1877 onwards by the German bourgeois economists and Katheder-Socialists, F. Holtzendorf and L. Brentano, and from 1881 by G. Schmoller.

[25] 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.”

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