Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Remarks on Books:

G. V. Plekhanov.
N. G. Chernyshevsky.
Shipovnik Publishing House.
St. Petersburg, 1910

(Part Two)

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Chapter One

[221]... The view of art as play, supplemented
by the view of play as a “child of labour,” sheds
a very bright light on the essence and history of
art. It makes it possible for the first time to view
them from a materialist standpoint. We know
that, at the very beginning of his literary activity,
Chernyshevsky made an attempt, which was most
successful in its own way, at applying Feuerbach’s
materialist philosophy to aesthetics. We have
devoted a special work to describing that attempt.[1]
So we shall merely say here that although it was

most successful in its own way, that attempt
is affected, in the same way as Chernyshevsky’s
views on history, by the main shortcoming of
Feuerbach’s philosophy: insufficient elaboration
of its historical, or to be more exact, dialectical
aspect. And it is just because this aspect was not
elaborated in the philosophy assimilated by him
that Chernyshevsky could overlook the great
importance of the concept of play for a materialist

interpretation of art....

Chapter Two

[236]... “Lasting enjoyment is afforded to man

by reality alone; only those desires are of serious
importance which are based on reality; success
[237] may be expected only from hopes evoked
by reality, and only from those deeds which are
accomplished with the help of forces and circum-
stances offered by reality.”[3]

Click for Note #2

Such was the new notion of “reality.” Cherny-
shevsky had Feuerbach in mind when he said that
it had been formed by modern thinkers from the

obscure allusions of transcendental philosophy.
And he expounded Feuerbach’s concept of reality

quite correctly. Feuerbach said that sensuousness
or actuality is identical with truth, i.e., that the
object in its true sense is given only by sensation.

Speculative philosophy supposed that ideas of
objects based only on sense experience do not
correspond to the real nature of the objects and
must be verified with the aid of pure thought,

i.e., thought not based on sense experience. Feuer-
bach decisively rejected this idealistic view.
He asserted that conceptions of objects based on
our sense experience fully correspond to the nature
of these objects. The only trouble is that our
imagination frequently distorts these conceptions,

which, therefore, come into contradiction with
our sense experience. Philosophy should drive out


from our conceptions the fantastic element that
distorts them; it should bring them into accord
with sense experience. It must return mankind
to a contemplation of real objects undistorted by
fancy, such as prevailed in ancient Greece. And
insofar as mankind passes to such contemplation,
it returns to itself, because people who submit to
figments of the imagination can themselves be
only imaginary and not real beings. In the words
of Feuerbach, the essence of man is sensuousness,
i.e., actuality, and not imagination and not ab-
The task of philosophy and science in
general is to restore reality to its rightful place.
But if that is so, it follows of itself that the tasks
of aesthetics as a branch of science are also to
restore reality to its rightful place and combat the
imaginary element in man’s notions. It was on
this conclusion from Feuerbach’s philosophy that
Chernyshevsky’s aesthetic views were based; it
constituted the main idea of his dissertation. And
there is no doubt that Belinsky had the same
conclusion in mind when, in his [238] second but
last annual review of literature, he described the
concept of “reality” as a new one....

[242]... Everyone knows that the criticism of
the sixties, the criticism of Dobrolyubov for
example, often crossed over into journalism.
Hence, in speaking of Chernyshevsky, we shall
not so much present proofs of this thought as
illustrations of it. In 1858 Chernyshevsky’s article
“The Russian at a Rendezvous. Reflections on
Turgenev’s story Asya” appeared in the review
section of Atheneum, No. 3. This article is one
of the most brilliant examples of journalistic
criticism. Very little, almost nothing, is said in
the article about Turgenev ’s actual story, which
Chernyshevsky calls “practically the only good
new story.” The author merely draws attention
to the scene in which the hero of the story makes
his declaration of love to Asya, and in connection
with this scene, he indulges in “reflections” The
reader will recall, of course, that at the critical
moment Turgenev’s hero turned coward and
withdrew. It Is this circumstance that caused
Chernyshevsky to “reflect.” He notes that indeci-
sion and cowardice are the distinctive features not
only of this hero, but of most of the heroes of
our best literary works. He recalls Rudin, Beltov,
and the tutor of Nekrasov’s Sasha, and sees the
same features in all of them. He does not blame
the authors of the novels on this account since
they were only recording what is met with at
every step in real life. There is no manliness in
Russian people, therefore the characters in the
novels have none either. And Russian people
have no manliness because they are not in the

habit of taking part in public affairs. “When
we go into society, we see around us people in
uniforms and civilian morning or evening dress;


No. 1, p. 143

these people are five and a half or six feet tall,
and sometimes even more; they grow or shave
the hair on their cheeks, above their upper lip and
[243] on their chin; and we imagine we are looking
at men. This is a total error, an optical illusion,
a hallucination, nothing more. Without acquiring
the habit of elementary participation in civil
affairs, without acquiring the feelings of a citizen,
the male child grows up and becomes middle-aged,
and then an elderly being of the masculine gender,
but he does not become a man or, at any rate,
not a man of a noble character.”[4] Among humane,
educated people, the absence of noble manliness
strikes one still more than among ignorant people,
because the humane, educated man likes to talk
about important matters. He talks with enthusiasm
and eloquence, but only until it becomes a matter
of passing from words to deeds. “So long as there
is no question of action, but merely the need to
fill up empty hours, an empty mind, or an empty
heart, with talk and dreams, the hero is very glib;
but once it is a matter of expressing his feelings
plainly and exactly, the majority of the heroes
immediately begin to waver and feel tongue-tied.
A few, the most courageous, somehow contrive
to muster their forces and stammer something
that provides a vague idea of their thoughts.
But just attempt to take their wishes at face
value and say to them: ‘you want so-and-so;
we’re very glad; begin to do something about it
and you’ll have our support‘—if such a remark
is made one half of the very brave heroes faint,
the other begin to gruffly reproach you for putting
them in an awkward position; they begin to say
that they did not expect such proposals from you,
they are quite at a loss and cannot think properly
because it is not possible to do so at a moment’s
notice and, moreover, they are honest people,
and not only honest but very mild, and they do
not want to cause you any unpleasantness, and
that, in general, it is not possible, really, to trouble
oneself about all that is said merely from having

nothing to do, and that it is best not to undertake
anything at all, because everything involves
trouble and inconvenience, and at present nothing


No. 1, p.144—

good can come of it, because, as already said,
they never for a moment expected, or anticipated,
and so on and so forth.”[5]

and apt char-

One can say that the portrait is painted with
a master’s hand. However, the master was not
a literary critic, but a journalist.

of Russian

[245]... As for the requirements of the period,
they consisted, to his mind, [246] in concessions
to the peasantry. Chernyshevsky exhorted the
“estimable” gentlemen with this quotation from
the Gospel: “Agree with thine adversary quickly,
whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any

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time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and
the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be
cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou
shalt by no means come out thence, till thou
hast paid the uttermost farthing.” (Mat., Oh. V,
verses 25 and 26).[7]


It is self-evident that every theoretical conclu-
concerning the capacity of a given social class
or stratum for definite practical action always
requires a certain degree of verification by expe-
rience, and that, consequently, it can be considered
trustworthy a priori only within certain, more or
less broad limits.
Thus, for example, it was possible

x NB

with complete assurance to foretell that even
the most educated section of the nobility would
refuse to sacrifice their interests for the sake of
the peasants. Such a prediction in no way required
practical verification. But when it was necessary to
etermine to what extent the educated nobility
were capable of making concessions to the peas-
antry in their own interests, then no one could
say in advance with absolute certainty: they will
not go in that direction beyond such-and-such
a limit. Here it was always possible to assume that
under certain circumstances the educated nobility
would go a little further, after arriving at a some-
what more correct understanding of its own inter-
ests. Being practical, as Chernyshevsky was in this
case, he not only could but had to endeavour to
persuade the nobility that certain concessions to
the freed peasants were required in its own in-
terests. Thus, what might have seemed to consti-
tute a contradiction in his article—the demand for
a judicious and resolute step on the part of people
whose incapacity for decision and wisdom is here
admitted and explained as a necessary product of
circumstances—was actually no contradiction at

all. Such imaginary contradictions can also be
found in the political practice of people who take
their stand on the firm ground of the materialist
explanation of history.
However, here it is neces-


sary to make a very essential reservation. When

a materialist applies his theoretical [247] con-
clusions in practice with a certain amount of cau-
tion, he can nevertheless guarantee that his con-
clusions contain a certain element of the most
indisputable certainty. And this is because, when
he says: “everything depends on circumstances,”

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he knows from what side one must expect the
appearance of the new circumstances that will
change the will of people in the direction he desires;
he knows quite well that, in the final analysis,
they are to be expected from the side of “econom-
ics,” and that the truer his analysis of the socio-
economic life of society, the more trustworthy
his prediction concerning the future development
of society. Not so with the idealist, who is con-
vinced that “opinions rule the world.” If “opin-
ions” are the basic cause of social movement,
then the circumstances on which the further devel-
opment of society depends are linked chiefly to
the conscious activity of people, while the possi-
bility of any practical influence on this activity
is dependent on the greater or lesser ability of
people to think logically and master the new
truths discovered by philosophy or science. But this
ability depends itself on circumstances. Thus, the
idealist who recognises the materialist truth that
the character and also, of course, the views of man,
depend on circumstances, finds himself in a vicious
circle: views depend on circumstances, circum-
stances on views. The thought of the “enlightener”
in theory has never broken out of this vicious circle.
In practice the contradiction was usually solved
by a strong appeal to all thinking people, indepen-
dently of the circumstances under which such
people were living and acting. What we are now
saying may appear unnecessary and for that reason
a boring digression. But in point of fact this digres-
sion was essential for us. It will help us to under-

stand the nature of the journalistic criticism of
the sixties.


Since the hopes of the “enlightener” are pinned
on the intellect and good will of thinking people,
i.e., in effect of the “enlighteners” themselves,
it is obvious that critics desiring to support these
people will demand from fiction above all an
exact depiction of social life with all its pros
and cons, with its “positive” and “negative” phenom-
ena. Only an exact portrayal of all aspects of life
can furnish an “enlightener” with the factual data
needed by him for passing judgment on that

[253]... However, N. Uspensky used to express
himself even more emphatically. For example,
he wrote: “Nothing is to be expected from the
present-day peasants who not so long ago were the
victims of serfdom:—they will not be resurrect-
ed!... It is unlikely that medicine will ever cure
atrophy, because the disease is based on organic
damage....”[8] It was quite difficult for the
“people of the seventies” to agree with this. It was
chiefly this that gave rise to the unfavourable
attitude of the critics of that epoch towards
N. V. Uspensky.

The reader will perhaps ask: but was it easy for
Chernyshevsky himself to agree with N. V. Uspen-
sky’s completely hopeless view of “the present-day
peasants,” since Chernyshevsky evidently considered

possible at that time a broad movement of the
people who were dissatisfied with the conditions
of the abolition of serfdom.
To this we reply that,


obviously, this would not have been easy for him
if he considered himself bound to agree uncondi-
tionally with N. V. Uspensky. But that is precisely
the point—he did not agree unconditionally with
him. He considered N. V. Uspensky’s essays quite
truthful; but he did not draw a hopeless conclu-
sion from them. He said: “Routine dominates the
ordinary course of life of common people; and
among the plain folk, like in all other social-
estates, the routine is just as dull and banal as in
all other social-estates. Mr. Uspensky’s merit is to
have had the courage to depict for us, without con-
cealment or adornment, the routine thoughts
and actions, feelings and customs of plain
people. The picture is not at all attractive: at
every step nonsense and dirt, pettiness and

“But do not be in a hurry to draw conclusions
from this regarding the validity or non-validity
of your hopes, if you wish to alleviate the lot of
the people; or of your misgivings, if you were so
far concerned about the dullness and inertia of
the people. Take the commonest, most colourless,
weak-willed, shallow person; no matter how drab
and petty the life he leads, it has in it moments

of a totally different [254] shade, moments of
energetic efforts, courageous decisions.
The same
is also encountered in the history of every na-

NB with Page corner NB

The circumstances, on which everything depends
in the last resort, may take such a turn that even
an apathetic mass will become capable of vigorous
effort and courageous decision. While waiting
for the moment when the circumstances take
a favourable turn, one must attentively study the
backward mass. The initiative in taking courageous
decisions will never come from the mass of the
populace; hut one has to know the character of the
people making up this mass “in order to know
in what way initiative may stimulate them.”[10]
And the more accurately fiction represents the
character of the mass of the people, the more it
will facilitate the task of those who, under favour-
able circumstances, will have to take the initiative
in making great decisions.

Now we shall ask the reader to recall that in
one of the theses of his dissertation Chernyshevsky,
emphasising the portrayal of life as the chief
characteristic of art, adds: “works of art often have
another significance—they explain life; often they
also provide a verdict on the phenomena of life.”
What we have quoted, if only from one article
“Is This Not the Beginning of a Change?”, clearly
shows to what extent literary criticism in the
person of Chernyshevsky was inclined to value
the portrayal of life chiefly as material for inter-
preting it and judging it (for passing a verdict on
the phenomena of life). The same tendency of
Chernyshevsky manifests itself definitely in all
his other literary articles. Here is what he says,
for example, in a review of a collection of poetry
by A. N. Pleshcheyev (Sovremennik, 1861,
No. 3).

He recalls with displeasure the time when our
critics treated Pleshcheyev with scorn and even
ill-will. “It seems monstrous now,” he says. “Surely
the noble sentiments and noble ideas which breath-
ed from every page of Mr. Pleshcheyev’s booklet
were not so commonplace in the Russian poetry of
the time as to be dismissed with scorn. When,
indeed, is such a thing possible and permissible?”
Pleshcheyev, according to him, had no great poetic
talent and his aspirations [255] and hopes were
quite vague. But he did possess great sincerity and
as for expressing his hopes with greater preci-
sion, he could not do so for reasons beyond his

[262]... Pisarev possessed tremendous literary

talent. But for all the enjoyment that the unpre-
judiced reader derived from the literary brilliancy
of Pisarev’s articles, it must be admitted that
“Pisarevism” was a sort of reductio ad absurdum
of the idealism of our “enlighteners...”

[266]... Some of Mikhailovsky’s sociological
articles have now been translated into French and,
if we are not mistaken, also into German. Pre-
sumably, however, they will not make his name
very well known in Furope. But it is very possible
that they will earn praise from one or two of those
European thinkers who are going “back to Kant!”
out of hatred of Marxism. In spite of the opinion
of our latest historian of literature, there can be

nothing flattering in these praises. But extremely
worth noting is the irony of history which makes
a theoretical weapon of reaction out of what was
an innocent theoretical mistake in a more or less
progressive utopism



Chapter One

[280]... His article goes on to tell of the strange
and often ridiculous acts to which the Saint-
Simonists were driven in their extreme exaltation.
He calls them drawing-room heroes overcome by
a fit of philanthropy. But he qualifies this severe
judgment of them. The Saint-Simonist movement
was the first expression of the concept of trans-
forming society, and that first expression is of great

[281] historic significance. It indicates that it is
high time society concerned itself with the ideas
of reform that first appeared in the unsatisfactory
form of Saint-Simonism.

In conclusion, Chernyshevsky says of reformist

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ideas: “We shall soon see that they have begun
to appear in more reasonable forms and to reach

people for whom they are no longer a delightful
but a matter of necessity, and when
that class
which the Saint-Simonists wished to
humbug begins reasonably to concern itself about

its own well-being, then, probably, life on earth
will be better for it than it is at present.“
[11] This

is a highly important remark. It shows that in his
views on the future of West-European socialism
Chernyshevsky came very close to the theory of the
class struggle
. But we know already of the role
which this theory has played in his views on history.
Sometimes it helped him to explain very successful-
ly certain isolated historical
; but he looked on it as a rather
serious obstacle to progress instead of a necessary
condition for it in a society divided into classes.
The reader will recall that Cbernyshevsky saw
the weak development of the class struggle in
Spain as an earnest of that country’s progressive
development in the future. In his comments on
events in France in 1848, as well as in the passage
we have just quoted, he seems to incline to the
idea that the emancipation movement of the
proletariat is now becoming the motive force of
social progress in Western Europe. But with him
this idea remains one of the germs of a materialist
interpretation of history to which we have repeated-
ly called the reader’s attention in dealing with our
author’s views on history....

[282]... He explains the backwardness of the
“ordinary people” of Europe as being due to the
fact that well-known scientific conceptions have
not yet reached the people. When they do, when
“ordinary people” become acquainted with philo-
sophical views “corresponding to their needs,” then
the triumph of the new principles in the social
life of Western Europe will not be far off.[12] Cherny-
shevsky does not ask himself the question whether

any phenomena exist in this life that could provide
an objective guarantee that the new philosophical
ideas will, in fact, ultimately reach the “ordinary
He has no need for such a guarantee


because, as he sees it, the very nature of these
principles, and also the nature of man, quite
sufficiently guarantee the triumph of the new

Chapter Two

[289]... Chernyshevsky regards the question of
socialism, as he does all the other general questions
of historical development, from the point of view
of idealism. And this idealist attitude to the
most important historical phenomena was typical
of the socialism of all countries in the utopian
period of its development. This feature of utopian
socialism is of such tremendous importance that

it is necessary to dwell on it—without fear of
a certain amount of repetition, which may very
well occur in the process

Chapter Three

[313]. ..“Let us suppose,” he says, turning to his
favourite method of explanation by means of a
“parable”—“let us suppose that I was interested
in taking steps to preserve the provisions from the
store of which your dinner is prepared. Obviously,
if I did so out of affection for you, then my zeal
would he based on the assumption that the provi-
sions belong to you and that the dinner being pre-
pared from them is nourishing and good for you.
Just imagine my feelings when I learn that the
provisions do not really belong to you and that
for every dinner prepared from them you pay
money which is not only more than the dinner
itself is worth but which, in general, you cannot
pay without extremely embarrassing yourself.
What ideas will enter my head in the face of such
strange discoveries?... How stupid I was to hother
about a matter when the conditions for its use-
fulness were not guaranteed! Who but a dolt can

bother about the preservation of property in
certain hands, without first being assured that
the property will remain in those hands and on
advantageous terms?... Rather let all these provi-
sions, which only cause harm to the person I love,
he lost! Rather let the whole matter, which only
causes your ruin, vanish! Sorrow for you, shame
on account of my own stupidity—that is what

I feel.”[13]

[315]... Credit is due to Chernyshevsky for the
fact that, at the very beginning of his literary
activity, he displayed, in his comments on the
land commune, far more consideration than many
a “Russian socialist” even in the mid-nineties,
when to all appearances, only the blind could fail
to see that our vaunted “age-long foundations”

were crumbling. As far back as April 1857 he
wrote: but “there is no concealing the fact that
Russia, which until now has had a small share in
economic progress, is being rapidly swept along
with it, and our way of life, until now scarcely
affected by the economic laws which reveal their
power only in times of increased economic and
commercial activity, is beginning rapidly to be
subjected to them. Perhaps it will not be long
before we, too, are drawn into the sphere of full
operation of the law of competition.”[14]

This is precisely what the theoreticians of our
Narodism ever since sought to conceal from them-
selves and their readers for so long and with so
much care. What the Scriptures say is true: star
differs from star in glory.... Being convinced that
our country lacks the conditions for making com-
munal land tenure a source of well-being for the
people, Chernyshevsky was to see that his sym-
pathetic attitude to the commune bore in fact very
little similarity to the Slavophils’ sympathetic
view of it. In his article “On the Causes of the Fall
of Rome,” he says that although the commune
could contribute to the further development of
Russia, it was nonetheless ridiculous to take
pride in it, because [316] it was after all a sign
of our economic backwardness. He offers an exam-
ple: European engineers, he says, now use applied
mechanics to construct suspension bridges. But it
appears that in a backward Asiatic country—he
does not quite remember which one—local engineers
have long since been building suspension bridges
on suitable sites. Does that mean that applied
mechanics in Asia may be placed on a footing
with that in Europe? There are bridges and bridges,
and the Asian engineers’ suspension bridge is
infinitely inferior to its European counterpart.
To be sure, when European engineers arrive in the
Asiatic country which has long been familiar with
suspension bridges, they will find it all the easier

to convince a mandarin that the suspension bridge
of today is not a godless invention. But nothing
more than that. Despite its suspension bridges,
the Asiatic country will remain a backward country
all the same while Europe will still be its preceptor.
The same holds true for the Russian commune.
Perhaps the latter will promote the development

of our country; but the chief stimulus will come
nonetheless from the West, and it does not really
befit us to renovate the world, even by means of
the commune....

Chapter Four

[317]... He who tries to obtain an idea of Cherny-
shevsky’s political views on the basis of his writ-
ings, at first feels a little embarrassed, that is,
if he himself is not indifferent [318] to politics.
Indeed, the man who next to Beliusky was the
most colourful exponent of progressive tendencies
in our literature, at first glance appears to be
politically indifferent. And it is not because he has
employed a few unfortunate expressions, nor be-
cause of a slip of the pen, but on account of the
general principles by which he is sometimes guided
in judging the more important phenomena of
West-European life. For evidence of this we refer
to the article “Party Struggles in France Under
Louis XVIII and Charles X” (Sovremennik, 1858,
Nos. .8 and 9). There we read:

“The fundamental desires, the basic urges, of
liberals and democrats are essentially different.
Democrats intend to abolish as far as possible
the predominance of the upper classes over the
lower in the state structure; on the one hand to
reduce the power and wealth of the upper social-
estates, on the other to give more weight and
well-being to the lower social-estates. How to change
the laws in this sense and to support the new
structure of society is almost a matter of indiffer-
ence to them. On the other hand, the liberals can-
not at all agree to give the predominance in society

to the lower social-estates because owing to their
lack of education and material poverty, these
social-estates are indifferent to the interests that
are of the utmost importance to the liberal party,
namely, the right of free speech and a constitu-
tional system. For the democrat, our Siberia, where
the ordinary people are well off, stands far higher
than England, where the majority of the people
suffer great privations. Out of all political institu-
tions, the democrat is irreconcilably hostile to
only one—aristocracy; the liberal almost always
finds that only with a certain degree of aristocracy
can society attain the liberal system. Therefore
the liberals are usually the mortal enemies of the
democrats, and say that democracy leads to despo-
tism and is fatal to freedom.”[15]

Cf. Sotsial-

No. 1, p. 124

[319]... Chernyshevsky then explains his ideas
by arguments which bear out even more forcefully
our supposition that by democrats he means
socialists. He says: “From the theoretical aspect,
liberalism may seem attractive to one whom good
fortune has delivered from want: freedom is a very
good thing. But liberalism takes a very narrow,

purely formal view of freedom. To it freedom con-
sists of abstract right, of formal permission of the
absence of legal restraint. It refuses to see that
legal right is of value to a person only when he has
the material means of exercising that right.[16]

The people have no material opportunity for avail-
ing themselves of political freedom. The majority
of them are illiterate almost in all countries. So why
should they treasure their right to free speech?
Want and lack of education doom them to com-
plete ignorance [320] of affairs of state. So why
should they take any interest in parliamentary
debates?” Chernyshevsky states emphatically that
“there is no European country where the vast
majority of the people is not completely indif-
ferent to the decrees which are the object of the
aspirations and concern of liberalism”[17]....

[329]... In the political survey published in
No. 6 of Sovremennik for 1859, Chernyshevsky
remarks, after stating that the movement which

insists on intervention by the German [330] Union
in Austria’s favour is growing stronger in Germany:
“we have not been speaking of ordinary people, but
actually of classes in which public opinion is
concentrated, classes which engage in political
affairs, read the newspapers and influence the

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course of affairs—that crowd which everywhere is
a plaything of self-interest and intrigue.”[18]

The “ordinary people” do not read newspapers,
do not occupy themselves with political affairs
and have no influence on their course. That is the
situation now, while their consciousness is still
fast asleep. But when it awakens under the in-
fluence of the vanguard of the active historical
army, consisting of the “best people,” who have
learned the lessons of modern science, then the

“ordinary people” will understand that their task
consists in the radical reconstruction of society,
and then they will undertake the work of this re-


construction, which has no direct relation to
questions of the forms of political structure. Such
were Chernysheysky’s predominant views, which

are to be found in the majority of his
numerous political reviews.[19] If at times
this essentially idealist view of politics
makes way for a different
view, the germ,
as it were, of a materialist understanding
this is only an exception, quite like that
which we encountered in studying Cher-
nyshevsky’s historical views: the reader
will remember that in these views which
are also essentially idealist, there are

crossed parens Because of the theo-
between the ideal-
ist and materialist
views of history,
Plekhanov over-
the prac-
tical-political and
class difference be-
tween the liberal
and the democrat

also germs of the materialist view of history.
Let us now elucidate with the help of two exam-
ples the character that Chernyshevsky’s political
reviews had taken under the influence of his
aforementioned predominant views regarding the
relation of politics to the chief tasks of the

|  working class.  |

|  ?  |

First example. In January 1862, in his political
review, he enters into a controversy with the
Prussian liberal National Zeitung regarding
Austria’s internal policy. The National Zeitung
wrote: “Let the fate of Austria be a lesson to other
states not to undertake expenditures that exceed
their financial strength. The cause of Austria’s
ruin is her excessive army expenditures.” Cherny-
shevsky does not like these reflections of the
National Zeitung.


[331]... Such arguments, which led to the con-
clusion that the despotic Austrian Government is
acting perfectly correctly, should have astonished
and in fact did astonish a large number of the


readers of Sovremennik. They produced [332]
an impression not so much of indifference to ques-
tions of political freedom as of direct sympathy
with the obscurantists. Chernyshevsky’s opponents
frequently accused him of such sympathies. It was
just because of accusations of this kind that at
the end of his political review in March 1862

Cf. Sotsial-

No. 1,
p. 144[20]

he made the ironical confession: “for us there is
no better amusement than liberalism—and we
have an irresistible desire to look about for liberals
I in order to poke fun at them.” But as a matter of
fact, of course, he did not write his paradoxical


reviews in order to “poke fun” at the liberals, nor
to defend despotic governments. Basically the

thought was that, while the given social relations
existed, things could not proceed otherwise than
they were doing and that anyone who wanted

them to proceed differently should devote his
efforts to a radical change in social relations.
To act

differently would be a waste of time. The liberals
evoked Chernyshevsky’s ridicule precisely because
they proposed palliatives where a radical cure
was necessary


Second example. In April of the same year,
Chernyshevsky again appeared to take the side of
absolutism in its struggle with liberalism in the
Prussian Government’s conflict with the Prussian
Diet. According to him, the liberals should not
have been surprised that the Prussian Government
did not make voluntary concessions to them but
preferred to agitate the country by dissolving the
Diet. “We find,” he says, “that the Prussian Govern-
ment acted as it should have.”[22] This again was
bound to astonish the naïve reader and seem to
him a betrayal of the cause of freedom. It is clearly

Cf. Sotsial-

No. 1, p. 144

understandable, however, that here, too, our author

was not at all taking up the cudgels in defence of
despotism, but only wanted [333] to utilise the
Prussian events in order to communicate to the
more astute of his readers the correct view of the
chief condition
on which, in the final analysis, the
outcome of all broad social conflicts depends.

Page corner NB

Here is what he says on this point:

“Just as quarrels between different states are
at first carried on by diplomatic means, so the
struggle for principles inside the state itself is at
first carried on by means of civilian influence or
so-called legal means
. But just as a quarrel be-
tween different states, if it is sufficiently important,

always loads to military threats, so too with the
internal affairs of states, if the affair is not of minor
. If the quarrelling states are very
unequal in power, then the affair is usually solved


by military threats alone: the weaker state suc-
cumbs to the will of the stronger, and this prevents
open warfare. In just the same way, in important
internal affairs, war is only prevented if one of
the conflicting sides feels too weak compared with
the other: then it submits as soon as it sees that
the opposing party has really decided to resort to
military measures. But if two quarrelling states
are not so unequal in power that the weaker of
them cannot hope to repulse an attack, then the
affair may pass from threats to war. The defending
side has a very big advantage on its side and,
therefore, if it is not too weak, it does not lose
heart at the decision of the stronger opponent to
attack it.”[23]

It was from this point of view that he examined
what was then taking place in Prussia. He defended
and praised the Prussian Government—this must
be noted—solely because “it was acting in the
best possible way in favour of national progress”
by destroying the political illusions of those naïve
Prussians who, for no obvious reason, imagined

that a system of genuinely constitutional rule
would be instituted in their country of itself,
without a struggle against the old order
. And


if he revealed not the slightest sympathy for the
Prussian liberals and even poked fun at them, the
explanation is that, in his just opinion, they too
wanted to achieve their aims [341] without a deter-

mined struggle against their political enemies.
In speaking of the possible outcome of the conflict
between the Diet and the Government he remarks,
with great perspicacity, that “judging by the
present mood of public opinion in Prussia, it is
to be presumed that the opponents of the present

Page corner NB

system find themselves too weak for military
struggle and are ready to yield at the first deter-
mined threat from the government that it will
resort to military measures.”[24] And so it turned
out. Chernyshevsky was right in his contempt for
the Prussian liberals
. They indeed wanted constitu-
tional order to be instituted in Prussia of itself.

Not only did they not take determined action—for
that they could not be blamed since
, with the
prevailing relation of social forces, this was not
possible—but they condemned in principle every

V with Question Mark

idea of such action, i.e., they hampered, insofar
as it depended on them, a change in social forces
that would have made it possible to resort to such
action in the future. Chernyshevsky could not
forgive them that, just as Lassalle could not. It is
noteworthy that just when Chernyshevsky was
ridiculing the Prussian liberals in his political
articles, Lassalle was tearing them to pieces in his
speeches. And it is even more noteworthy that in
those speeches the German agitator sometimes
used the same words as Chernyshevsky to describe
the relation of social forces as the foundation of the
political system in a particular country. Lassalle
had in many respects the same mentors as Cherny-
shevsky. It is natural, therefore, that the political
thinking of both tended in the same direction, and
achieved results that coincided in part. We say
in part” because, in noting the great sim-
ilarity of Lassalle’s views to Cherny-
shevsky’s, one must not close one’s eyes to the
differences between them. Lassalle does
not confine himself to concluding that the constitu-
tion of any country is the juridical expression of the
prevailing correlation of social forces. He seeks
the causes which determine this correlation, and
finds them in the social economy. Those of Las-
salle’s speeches which bear on this question are
permeated with a materialist spirit, which is
more than can be said, for instance, of his speech

[335] on the philosophy of Fichte, or his “System
of Acquired Rights
.” Neither does
Chernyshevsky ignore the question of the causes
determining the relation of social forces, but in his
analysis he stops at social self-consciousness, i.e.,
not crossing the boundary separating historical

Page corner NB

idealism from historical materialism. In contrast
to Lassalle, he is a far more consistent idealist in
his comments on Prussian affairs than in many
of his other articles dealing with politics or history.
This difference, too, should be attributed com-
pletely to the “relation of social forces.” In Prussia,

no matter how weak Prussian capitalism was com-
pared with what it is at present, a working-
movement in the modern sense of the
word had nevertheless already begun; but in
Russia the movement of the “non-
which is usually called the movement

i.e., the dem-
ocratic move-

of the intelligentsia, had only just
begun to flourish
. Influenced by the requirements
of the working-class movement, even idealists
are often compelled to reason materialis-
. One can find many examples in
present-day France of how the requirements of
the working-class movement exert their influence.
The movement of the intelligentsia, on the con-
trary, sometimes drives even materialists
to purely idealist reasoning. This is particu-
larly marked in Russia today.

Chernyshevsky’s political reviews were intended
for the “best people,” who had to know what they
should teach the backward masses. The work of the
“best people” amounted, in the main, to
propaganda. But not exclusively. The
“ordinary people,” generally speaking, do not
figure on the political stage. And what takes place
on that stage—again speaking generally—little

affects their interests. But there are exceptional
epochs during which
the masses of the people
awaken from their customary hibernation and make
energetic, although often hardly conscious, efforts
to improve
their destiny. In such exceptional epochs


the activity of the “best people” more or less loses
its predominantly propagandist charac-

ter and becomes agitational. This is what


Chernyshevsky says of such epochs:

“Historical progress takes place slowly and
arduously... [336], so slowly that, if we limit
ourselves to very short periods, the fluctuations
produced in the advancing course of history by
accidental circumstances may blind us to the
action of the general law. In order to convince
oneself of its immutability, it is necessary to con-
sider the course of events over a fairly long time....
Compare the state of the social institutions and
laws of France in 1700 and today—the difference
is extremely great, and it is all to the advantage
of the present day; and yet almost all this century
and a half was very arduous and gloomy. The same
also in England. Whence comes the difference?
It was being constantly prepared for by the fact
that the best people of each generation found life
in their time extremely difficult; little by little at
least a few of their desires became comprehensible
to society, and then, at some time many years
later, on propitious occasions, society for six
months, a year, or hardly more than three or four
years, worked for the fulfilment of at least a few
of this small number of desires which had penetrat-
ed to it from the best people. The work was never
successful: when half the work was done society’s
zeal would be exhausted, its strength would give
out, and once again the practical life of society
would fall into a long period of stagnation; and, as
before, the best people, if they survived the work
inspired by them, saw that their desires were far
from having been carried out and as before had
to bemoan life’s burdens. But in the brief period
of noble enthusiasm much was reconstructed
. Of
course, the reconstruction took place hurriedly,
there was no time to think about the elegance of the
new structures, which remained unfinished, there
was no time to bother about the subtle require-
ments of architectural harmony between the new

parts and the surviving remains, and the period
of stagnation inherited the reconstructed edifice
with a multitude of petty incongruities and hideosi-
. But that period of indolence afforded leisure

to examine carefully every detail and since the
improvement of the details that it disliked did
not require any particular effort, it was done
little by little; and while an exhausted society
busied itself with trivia, the best people were
saying that the reconstruction was incomplete,
and argued that the old parts of the building were
becoming more and more dilapidated, and that it
was necessary to resume work on a big scale.
At first a tired society refused to heed them, re-
garding their jarring cry as interference with its
rest; then, having recovered its energy, society
began to defer more and more to an opinion which
had previously aroused its indignation. [337] So-
ciety gradually became convinced that there was
some truth in it, came to recognise that truth more
and more from year to year, and finally was pre-
pared to go along with those progressive people
who argued that reconstruction was necessary;
and, then, at the earliest opportunity it set to
work with renewed fervour, again left it unfinished,
and once more fell into a slumber, only to resume
the effort later on.”[25]

Chernyshevsky’s political articles were aimed
at showing the “best people” that the old structure
of the contemporary social system was crumbling
more and more and that there was a need to “re-
sume work on a big scale.” And everything points
to the fact that towards the end of the first, i.e.,
pre—Siberian period of his literary activity, it
began to appear to him that society was more and
more heeding his opinion, and falling in with him.

In other words, he began to think that in Russian
history too there was approaching one of those
beneficial leaps which rarely occur in history, but
which push far ahead the process of social develop-
The spirits of the advanced sections of


Russian society were indeed rapidly rising, and
with them Chernyshevsky’s spirits also rose.
At one time he had found it possible and useful
to make clear to the government its own interests
in the matter of freeing the peasants; now he does
not even think of addressing himself to the govern-
ment. To count on it at all seems to him harmful
self-delusion. In the article “The Russian Reformer”
(Sovremennik, October 1861), which he wrote in
connection with the publication of M. Korf’s book

The Life of Count Speransky, Chernyshevsky
argues at length that no reformer should delude
himself with such calculations in our country.
Speransky’s enemies called him a revolutionary.
This opinion amused Chernyshevsky. Speransky
indeed had very broad plans for changes, but it is
ludicrous to call him a revolutionary, judging by

Cf. Sotsial-

No. 1, p. 161[26]

the extent of the means he intended using to carry
out his intentions
. He could maintain his position
only because ho had managed to earn the trust of
the tsar Alexander I. With this trust to support
him, he intended to carry out his plans. That is
why Chernyshevsky called him a dreamer....


[338]... Only he who constantly remembers that
the course of social life is determined by the re-
lationship of social forces does not succumb to
harmful delusions in politics. He who wishes to act
in accordance with this basic principle has some-
times to go through a difficult moral struggle.

p. 161 changed

Chernyshevsky tries to warn the “best people” of
his time on this score, in view of what he thought
was the imminent leap. Thus, as far back as
January 1861, in analysing a book by the well-
known American economist, Carey, whose insig-
nificance, incidentally, he brilliantly exposes, he
unexpectedly passes to the well-known Jewish
heroine, Judith, and strongly justifies her action.
He says: “The path of history is not paved like
Nevsky Prospekt; it runs across fields, either dusty
or muddy, and cuts across swamps or forest thick-
ets. He who fears being covered with dust or mud-
dying his boots, should better not engage in social
activity, for this is a noble occupation when one
is really concerned with the good of the people,
but it is not exactly a tidy one. It is true, however,
that moral purity may be understood differently;
others, for example, may feel that Judith did not
tarnish herself.... Broaden your considerations and
on many individual questions you will have
obligations that are different from those resulting
from an isolated examination of the same ques-


At the beginning of the sixties the government
conceived the idea of lifting censorship restrictions
to some extent. It was decided that new censorship
rules should be drawn up, and the press was allowed
to express itself on the question of its own repres-
sion. Chernyshevsky lost no time in stating his
personal views, which as usual strongly differed

Cf. omission

No. 1,
p. 162[28]

from the usual liberal views. [339] True, Cherny-
shevsky himself maliciously ridicules the people
who suppose that the printing press has some
specific power like belladonna, sulphuric acid,
fulminate of silver, etc. “Our personal opinion is
not inclined towards expecting unnaturally harm-
ful results from objects and actions which do not
possess the power to produce such calamities.
We think the printing press is too weak to produce
social misfortune. After all, it does not contain
so much ink that the latter could come pouring out
somehow and flood our country; nor has it springs
that, after jumping out somehow and thumping
the type, could fire it as case shot.” However,
Chernyshevsky admits that there are epochs when
the press can he no less dangerous than case shot to
the government of a country. These are the epochs
when a government’s interests differ from
the interests of society
and a rev-
olutionary upheaval is imminent. A government
in such a position has every ground for restricting
the press, because the press, together with other
social forces, is preparing its downfall. Almost
all the successive French governments of this
century have been continuously in this situation.
All this is very painstakingly and calmly expounded
by Chernyshevsky. Nothing is said in the article,
until the very end, about the Russian Government.
But in conclusion Chernyshevsky suddenly asks
his reader—suppose it should turn out that the
press laws are really necessary in our country?
“Then we should again deserve to be called obscu-
rantists, enemies of progress, haters of freedom,
panegyrists of despotism, etc., just as we have
already many times laid ourselves open to such
censure.” He therefore does not want to investigate
the question of whether there is a need for special
press laws in our country. “We fear,” he says,
“that a conscientious investigation would lead
us to reply: yes, they are necessary.”[29] The

conclusion is clear: they are necessary because


the time for a “leap” is also approaching in

In the same March issue of Sovremennik that
printed the article we have just quoted, there
appeared a polemical article entitled “Have We
Learned the Lesson?”, concerning the well-known
student demonstrations of 1861. In it Chernyshev-
sky defends the students, who were reproached by
our “guardians” for allegedly not wanting to study
[340]; and, incidentally, he also tells the govern-
ment many home truths. The immediate cause
for this polemic was an anonymous article in the
St. Petersburg Academic Bulletin entitled “To
Study or Not To Study?” Chernyshevsky replies
that in regard to students this question has no
sense, since they have always wanted to study,
but the restricting university regulations hindered
them. The university regulations would have

dealt with students—people of an age when by our
laws a man may marry, be taken into the civil ser-
vice, or “command an army unit”—as children.
It is not surprising that they protested. They
were even barred from having such completely


No. 1, p. 163

harmless organisations as mutual aid societies,
which were undoubtedly essential in view of the
material insecurity of the majority of the students.
Students could not but revolt against such regula-
tions, because it was a question of “a crust of bread
and the possibility of attending lectures. This
bread, this opportunity was being withdrawn.”
Chernyshevsky declared outright that the people
who made the university regulations actually
wanted to deprive the majority of those who entered
the university of any possibility of studying.
“If the author of the article and those who agree
with him consider it necessary to prove that this
was not the aim in view when the regulations
were drawn up, let them publish the documents
relating to the meetings at which the regulations
were decided on.” The anonymous writer of the
article “To Study or Not To Study?” directed
his charge of unwillingness to study not only
against the students but against the whole of
Russian society. Chernyshevsky took advantage
of this to carry the controversy about the unrest
at the university on to a more general field. His
opponent allowed that there were certain signs of
the desire of Russian society to study. Proof of
this, in his opinion, was the “hundreds” of new
periodicals, the “dozens” of Sunday schools for
adults that were appearing in our country. “Hun-
dreds of new periodicals, but where did he count the
hundreds?” exclaims Chernyshevsky. “And hundreds
would really be necessary, but does the author want
to know why hundreds of new periodicals are not
being founded, as they should? It is because under
the conditions of our censorship it is impossible
for any lively periodical to exist anywhere, except
in a few large towns. Every rich commercial town
should [341] have several, even if only small, news-
papers; several local news-sheets should be publi-
shed in every province. They do not exist, because
they are not allowed to.... Dozens of Sunday schools
for adults.... Now that is no exaggeration, it is not
the same as with the hundreds of new periodicals:
in an empire with a population of over 60 million,
the Sunday schools for adults are indeed to be
counted only in dozens. Yet there should have
been tens of thousands of them, and it would have
been possible to establish quickly tens of thousands
of them, and for at least many thousands to be now
in existence. How is it that there are only dozens?
Because they are so suspect, so hampered, so cir-
cumscribed, that the people who are most loyal
to the work of teaching in them have all desire to
teach driven out of them.”


After referring to the existence of “hundreds”
of new periodicals and “dozens” of Sunday schools
for adults as apparent signs of the desire of society
to study, the author of the article which Cherny-
shevsky was analysing hastened to add that these
signs were deceptive. “You hear shouting in the
streets,” he proclaims mournfully, “something or
other is said to have happened somewhere, and
you involuntarily hang your head and are disillu-
sioned....” “Excuse me, Mr. Author of the article,”
objects Chernyshevsky, “what is the shouting you
hear in the streets? The shouting of constables and
police officers—we hear their shouting too. Are you
speaking of that shouting? You are told something
or other has happened somewhere... —what sort
of thing, for example? There a theft has occurred,


No. 1, p. 164

here authority has been exceeded, there the rights
of the weak have been violated, here there has
been connivance with the strong—we are inces-
santly being told this sort of thing. Because of
this shouting which everyone hears, and this con-
stant talk, one does indeed involuntarily hang one’s
head and become disillusioned.”

The accuser of the students attacked them for
their apparent intolerance of the opinions of
others, for having recourse in their protests to
whistling, pickled apples and similar “street weap-
ons.” Chernyshevsky replies that “whistling and
pickled apples are not used as street weapons:
street weapons take the form of bayonets, rifle-
butts and sabres.” He asks his opponent to recall
“whether it was the students who used these street
weapons against anyone, or whether they were
used against the students ... and whether there was
any need to use them against the students.”


It is easy to understand the impression such
articles of Chernyshevsky’s were bound to make
on the Russian students. When [342], subsequently,
student demonstrations occurred again at the end
of the sixties, the article “Have We Learned the
Lesson?” was read at student gatherings as being

Page corner NB

the best defence of their demands. It is also easy
to understand what the attitude of the “guardians”
must have been to such defiant articles. The great
writer’s “dangerous” influence on the student youth
became more and more obvious to them.

Up to here

No. 1, p. 164

We know already how that influence was removed.

Holding a utopian socialist point of view,
Chernyshevsky believed that the plans which those
of like mind in the West sought to realise could
be carried out under the most varied political
forms. That’s how it was according to theory. And
as long as he did not step out of this sphere, he
expressed this view without mincing words. When
he started on his literary career, our social life
seemed to furnish some confirmation, if only
indirect, of the correctness of this view; hope
arose among the advanced men of the day that the
government would take the initiative in reaching
a just solution of the peasant question. It was a
vain hope, which Chernyshevsky abandoned almost
before anyone else. And while in theory he did
not, even afterwards, clearly see the connection
between economics and politics, in his practical
activity—and by this we mean his journal-
efforts—he was an uncompromising enemy
of our old order, although his peculiar irony con-
tinued to mislead many liberal-minded readers

on that score. In deeds, if not in theory, he became
a man of irreconcilable political struggle and
the thirst for struggle is felt in almost every line
of each of his articles relating to the year 1861
and, in particular, to the year 1862, a fateful one
for him





<< Back to Part One


[1] See the article “Chernyshevsky’s Aesthetic Theory” in the collection In Twenty Years.—Plekhanov.

[2] Here and elsewhere, an NB underscored with two slanting lines implies that Lenin’s NB is in the corner of the page and apparently refers to all of it. The full text of the page in question is therefore given in such cases.—Ed.

[3] N. G. Chernyshevksy, Collected Works, Vol. II, p. 206.—Plekhanov.

[4] Collected Works, Vol. I, pp. 97-98.—Plekhanov.

[5] Collected Works, Vol. I, pp. 90-91.—Plekhanov.

[6] Lenin is referring to the following passage in Plekhanov’s article in Sotsial-Demokrat:

“We have never had occasion to read such malicious and at the same time such a highly accurate characterisation of Russian liberalism.” (Sotsial-Demokrat, Book 1, London, 1890, p. 144.)

[7] Ibid., p. 102.—Plekhanov.

[8] N. V. Uspensky, Collected Works, Vol. II, 1883, p. 202.—Plekhanov.

[9] N. G. Chernyshevsky, Collected Works, Vol. VIII, p. 357.—Plekhanov.

[10] Collected Works, Vol. VIII. p. 346.—Plekhanov.

[11] N. G. Chernyshevsky, Collected Works, Vol. VI, p. 150.—Plekhanov.

[12] Ibid., pp. 205-206.—Plekhanov.

[13] Collected Works, Vol. IV, p. 307.—Plekhanov.

[14] Collected Works, III, p. 185.—Plekhanov.

[15] Collected Works, Vol. IV, pp. 156-57.—Plekhanov.

[16] Collected Works, Vol. IV, p. 157.—Plekhanov.

[17] Ibid., p. 158.—Plekhanov.

[18] Collected Works, Vol. V, p. 248.—Plekhanov.

[19] These reviews take up at least two volumes of his Collected Works.—Plekhanov.

[20] Lenin is referring to the following passage, subsequently radically changed by Plekhanov; in an article in Sotsial-Demokrat (Book 1, London, 1890, p. 144):

“For the sake of impartiality, however, it must be added that our author was not only contemptuous of Russian liberals. In excellent political reviews that he wrote in Sovremennik until the very end of his free life, our author constantly displayed the most merciless contempt for all European liberals in general—particularly, the liberals of Austria (i.e., the Liberal Party of Austrian Germans), Prussia and Italy. As is well known, in articles on the history of France, he also did not manifest much respect for the liberal party. All this, naturally, could not be pleasing to the spokesmen of Russian liberalism and, in their fight with him, they resorted to the method so often used by liberals of all countries in their clashes with people further advanced than themselves politically; they accused him of disliking freedom and even of sympathies for despotism; Of course, such accusations from liberals could only amuse Chernyshevsky. He had so little fear of them that at times he aroused his opponents to new accusations by making believe that he recognised their complete fairness. ‘For us there is no better amusement than liberalism,’ he says in one of his last political reviews, ‘and we have an irresistible desire to look about for liberals in order to poke fun at them.’ He then begins to poke fun at the Prussian liberals who, as he aptly puts it, were angered by the fact that political freedom in Prussia ‘does not become established by itself.’

“This mockery did not prevent the attentive reader from understanding that it was not a lack of love for freedom that made Chernyshevsky contemptuous of liberalism. It was sufficient to read only a few of his political reviews to see how passionately he sympathised with every liberation movement, no matter where it began: in France or in Italy, in America or in Hungary. He simply believed that the role of the liberals in such movements is usually very ugly. They themselves do very little and often even impede the efforts of others by attacking people who are more daring and resolute than they.”

[21] In his Essays on Political Economy Chernyshevsky, pointing to the lack of agreement between the existing economic system and “the demands of a sound theory”, sometimes interrupts his exposition with the question: “Should a system continue which allows such disagreement?” (See, for instance, Collected Works, Vol. VII, p. 513.) The reader of Chernyshevsky must have asked himself the same question on reading his political surveys, especially those leading to the “incongruous” conclusion that the apologists of despotism, and not its opponents, were in the right. In Chernyshevsky such a conclusion was just another argument against the contemporary life. But the liberals often failed to under stand this.—Plekhanov.

[22] Collected Works, Vol. IX, p. 236.—Plekhanov.

[23] Collected Works, Vol. IX, p. 241.—Plekhanov.

[24] Collected Works, Vol. IX, p. 241.—Plekhanov.

[25] Collected Works, Vol. V, pp. 400-491.—Plekhanov.

[26] Lenin is referring to the following passage in Plekhanov’s article in Sotsial-Demokrat (Book 1, London, 1890, p. 161):

“In the article ‘The Russian Reformer’, written on the occasion of the appearance of Baron M. Korf’s book The Life of Count Speransky, Chernyshevsky demonstrates conclusively that no reformer in our country could depend on the government as regards important social reforms. Revolutionaries can depend on it even less. Enemies called Speransky a revolutionary, but such an evaluation appears laughable to Chernyshevsky. Speransky indeed had very extensive reform plans, but ‘it is ludicrous to call him a revolutionary judging by the extent of the means he intended using to carry out his intentions.’ He could maintain his post only because he had managed to earn the trust of the tsar Alexander I. With this trust to support him, he intended to carry out his plans. Precisely for this reason, Chernyshevsky considered him to be a dangerous dreamer. Dreamers are often simply ridiculous and their delusions trivial, hut they ‘can be dangerous to society when their delusions concern important matters. In their rapturous bustle off the track, they appear to achieve a measure of success, thus confusing many who, as a result of this illusory success, get it into their heads to follow them. From this standpoint, Speransky’s activity may be called dangerous.’”

[27] Collected Works, Vol. VIII, pp. 37-38.—Plekhanov.

[28] The statement in Plekhanov’s article on Chernyshevsky appearing in Sotsial-Demokrat (Book 1, London, 1890, p. 162), but omitted by Plekhanov in the 1910 edition of his hook on Chernyshevsky, is the following:

“With respect to the Russian Government, Chernyshevsky’s tone becomes more and more defiant.”

[29] Collected Works, Vol. IX, pp. 130. 155.—Plekhanov.


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