G.V. Plekhanov

Our Differences

Chapter II
Capitalism in Russia

1. The Home Market

We now know that every backward country can at first, until the home market is glutted, eliminate “insuperable competition” from its more advanced neighbours by means of a customs system. Mr. Tikhomirov’s arguments that in our country there are hardly any markets thus lose a considerable portion of their specific weight. For backward countries the question can be formulated only as follows: will Western capitalism succeed – and to what extent – to draw them into its wake before it gives place to a higher form of social organisation? To answer this question we must weigh attentively the present situation of each of those countries separately. That we will do in the next chapter; let us now return to Mr. Tikhomirov and see how he makes this analysis.

Anybody who has followed social trends in our country in recent years knows, of course, that the efforts of our “private businessmen” are directed precisely towards guaranteeing the home market. This striving meets with support from the government, from the press and also from the section which only Mr. Tikhomirov’s peculiar terminology can allow one not to recognise as “intelligentsia”. A fair number of our professors and scientists are already rallying to that banner. Nevertheless, the cause of Russian capitalism seems to Mr. Tikhomirov to be a very difficult “if not an altogether hopeless one”. In his opinion, “industry is developing sluggishly. It is always complaining of a shortage of intelligent and energetic forces”. That is true, of course, to a certain extent; but does this show “the hopelessness of Russian capitalism’s striving”? Is not the “sluggish development” of Russian industry determined by the influence of contemporary political oppression? Free institutions are a necessary condition for capitalism at a certain stage of its development – that has long been clear to everybody both in “Europe” and in Russia, where voices were raised as-early as the fifties demanding freedom for the sake of industrial success. It would be very useful for Mr. Tikhomirov to read the late I. Babst’s speech, On Certain Conditions Promoting the Increase of the National Capital, delivered in June 1856 at a great assembly of Kazan University. It would help him to understand how the same capitalism which at first hides under the “cloak of an autocrat” gradually comes into contradiction with the interests of absolute monarchy and stands in opposition, in its own way of course, moderately and in an orderly fashion. “It is difficult to imagine how harmful bad administration, lack of security, arbitrary extortions, plundering and evil institutions are to economy and accumulation, and at the same time to the increase of the national capital,” says the economist I have just named. “Internecine wars, the struggle of the political parties, invasions, pestilence, and famine cannot have on the national wealth the destructive influence of despotic and arbitrary administration. What have the blessed countries of Asia Minor not suffered, what upheavals have they not experienced, and they have constantly been transformed again into an earth paradise until they were pinned down by Turkish administration. What happened to France in the eighteenth century, when the infamous system of taxation weighed down on the agricultural population and when, into the bargain, every official was able to plunder without fear and with impunity under cover of taxes? Thieves and robbers can be kept in check, but what can be done with bodies and officials of the supreme authority who consider their position as a lucrative trade? Here all energetic labour, all care for the future, for the improvement of one’s living, run low and ... capitals and their accumulation, gentlemen, fulfil their real purpose only when the road for their activity is fully and freely opened.” In vain does Mr. Tikhomirov refer to the circumstance that “the reign of Alexander II was a continual attempt by the monarchy to restore its stability by organising Russia on bourgeois principles” (?) as an argument to support the idea that Russian capitalism’s striving i s hopeless. The history of the French absolute monarchy, beginning with Henry IV, was also almost “a continual attempt” to maintain the stability of the old state system by organising France “on bourgeois principles”. As early as at the assembly of the Etats Generaux in 1614 the nobility complained of this in the most unambiguous terms. We have already said what care Louis XIV’s minister applied to France’s industrial development. In the eighteenth century, on the eve of the revolution, there was set up a whole school of economists professing solidarity of interests between capitalism and the absolute monarchy, proclaiming the bourgeois principle “laissez faire, laissez passer” and at the same time quoting China as a model of a political system. The monarchy endeavoured according to its ability to adapt itself to the new conditions, as far as was possible without renouncing absolute power. At the opening of the Etats Generaux in 1789, when it had one foot in the grave, the monarchy, with Louis XVI as its mouthpiece, condemning “illusions”, promised to satisfy all the “reasonable” demands of the country. But the implacable logic of things shows in a manner which is unexpected even to many members of the bourgeoisie that, although not everybody realised it, the fall of absolutism was the country’s most “reasonable” demand. The political ideals of the physiocrats [1*] were an unrealisable Utopia, and many contemporaries of the physiocrats realised that absolutism was incompatible with the bourgeoisie’s further development. The socialist Mably, at least, and his Doutes proposes aux philosophes economistes, may be given as an example. In his time the bourgeoisie as a class had not yet thought of “seizing” supreme political power in the country, but, unlike Mr. Tikhomirov, he did not say that “if it were strong enough it would do so now”. He knew that there are epochs in history in which the strength and political consciousness of a given class rise just as rapidly as the level of the water in a river when the ice breaks. He also knew that the strength of each class is a relative concept, defined, among other things, by the degree of decay of its predecessors and the level achieved by the successor in its development. Given the low development of the people, the French bourgeoisie was the only class capable of exercising supremacy. Absolutism was a hindrance to France’s further development under the guidance of the bourgeoisie and was therefore doomed. The bourgeoisie revolted against the autocracy under whose “cloak” it had grown to “sedition”. Mably foresaw this outcome and, in spite of his communist ideals, he realised that the immediate future belonged to the bourgeoisie.

If the significance and future prospects, not only of social classes, but even of the philosophical and political theories, could be denied on the grounds that they all develop for some time under the auspices of a principle which is incompatible with their further development, we would have to deny all human culture and “imagine” for it new and less “hazardous roads”. Did not philosophy grow within and at the expense of theology? “Unity, subordination and freedom are the three relationships to church theology in which the philosophy of the Christian period successively stood,” says Friedrich Überweg in his history of philosophy [1]; and this order of mutual relations between knowledge and faith may be recognised as a general law if we, on our side, add that “freedom” clears the road for itself only by the bitterest struggle for existence. Every new social or philosophical principle is born in the womb of – and consequently on the nutritive juice of – the old which is its opposite. To conclude from this that the fate of the new principle is “hopeless” means not to know history.

Our exceptionalists, indeed, have a very poor knowledge of history. When they listen to the arguments of the Manchester School [2*] on the harmfulness of state intervention, knowing at the same time that the Russian capitalists have a weakness for such intervention so long as it is manifested in protective tariffs, subsidies, guarantees, etc., the home-grown Russian sociologists conclude that the road of development for our capitalism is diametrically opposed to that of Western Europe; in the West the bourgeoisie speak only of “non-intervention”, here, only of subsidies and guarantees. But if Messrs. V.V. & Co. did not believe in the word of the Manchester School economists and would leave aside at least for a time their “exceptionalist” sources, they would find out that the West European bourgeoisie did not always or everywhere maintain the principle of non–intervention in their own country and still less did they support that principle in the colonies. Having found this out, they would see that their contrapositions have hardly any sense at all. We know that the radical mistake of the bourgeois economists of the Manchester School consisted precisely in elevating to the dignity of eternal immutable “natural laws” principles which have only a transient significance. Not sharing bourgeois economists’ “expectations” from the future, many Russian exceptionalists are nevertheless convinced that their views on the past are correct. They believe that in the history of the West the bourgeoisie never needed state intervention and government support and derived nothing but harm from it. That is the principal defect of our exceptionalist theories and programmes. Mr. V.V. believes what the Manchester School says, and thinks even a slight acquaintance with the economic history of Europe superfluous. Mr. Tikhomirov believes what Mr. V.V. says, and sees the increasing influence of the Russian bourgeoisie’s interests on the economic policy over the last twenty-five years “(the reign of Alexander II was a continual attempt”, etc.) as the principal sign of the weakness and still-bornness of Russian capitalism.

Mr. V.V., a supporter of absolutism and for that reason if for no other a bitter reactionary, does not interest us in the least. But we confess that we are very much grieved by the credulity of the editor of a revolutionary paper.

That the interests of the Russian bourgeoisie are now coming into irreconcilable contradiction to the interests of absolutism is known to anybody who has given the slightest attention to the course of Russian life in the last decade. [2] That the very same bourgeoisie is able, however, to derive profit from the existing regime and therefore not only supports some aspects of it, but stands for it as a whole, in some of its sections, is also no wonder. The development of a given social class is too complicated a process for us to be able to judge of the whole trend from some separate aspects. Our bourgeoisie is now undergoing an important metamorphosis; it has developed lungs which require the fresh air of political self-government but at the same time its gills, with which it still breathes in the troubled water of decaying absolutism, have not yet completely atrophied. Its roots are still in the soil of the old regime, but its crown has already attained a development which shows that it absolutely needs to be transplanted. The kulaks are continuing to get rich thanks to the predacious character of our state economy, but the big works owners and manufacturers, merchants and bourgeoisified agriculturists already understand that they must absolutely acquire political rights for their own welfare. This is proved to us by the petitions fairly frequently addressed to the government in the last ten years; in one of them the big industrialists and tradesmen even asked the government not to take any financial measures without consulting representatives of big capital. What is the tendency of such a petition? Does it not show that the destructive influence of absolutism is reflected in a palpable and noticeable manner in the incomes of the trading and industrial companies? Does it not show that the system by which each individual businessmen can influence ministers and ministries by all sorts of “petitions”, “patriotic” subscriptions and outright bribery is already becoming insufficient and ineffective and therefore tends to be replaced by organised and legal participation of the industrial class in the administration of the country? S.S. Polyakov can still be of the opinion that the ministers he has bribed are better than responsible, constitutional ministers. [3*] But His Excellency’s rivals, whom he defeated by presents and bribes, probably do not share his point of view. A political regime which is profitable to separate individuals becomes unprofitable to the business class as a whole. Naturally, the representatives of that class do not come out into the streets, put up barricades or publish underground leaflets. However, the bourgeoisie in general do not like such “hazardous” means. Only in very rare cases were they the first to raise the banner of revolt even in Western Europe: for the greater part they merely undermined the hated system little by little and reaped fruits from the victory of the people who “fought against their enemies’ enemies”. As for secret political propaganda, what kind of a bourgeoisie would they have been had they not understood the significance of the division of labour? The bourgeoisie leave propaganda to the so-called intelligentsia and do not let themselves be distracted from the task of their own enrichment. They know that their cause is “ certain” and that the political struggle begun by our intelligentsia will sooner or later clear the ground for their, the bourgeoisie’s domination. Did not the Italian bourgeoisie let the revolutionaries pick out of the fire the chestnuts of political emancipation and unification and are they not now feeding on those chestnuts?

And what if the revolutionaries “seize power” and carry out a social revolution? The bourgeoisie do not believe in that, and soon, indeed, the revolutionaries themselves will cease to believe in it. Soon they will all understand that if people open their umbrellas when it is raining, that does not mean that rain can be caused by opening umbrellas; they will soon see that if the “seizure” of political power is the inevitable consequence of the development of the working class, just as of any other class, one must not conclude that it is enough for “revolutionaries from among the privileged sections” to seize power and the working population of Russia will be able to carry out a socialist upheaval. Soon all our socialists will understand that one can serve the interests of the people only by organising and preparing the people for independent struggle for those interests.

But nothing could be more profitable for the Russian bourgeoisie than the confidence some of our revolutionaries have in the bourgeoisie’s powerlessness. The bourgeoisie themselves are perhaps ready to join in their song. They even do so whenever the occasion offers. Just take the question of the number of our industrial workers. According to our author “out of 100 million inhabitants” in Russia “there are only 800,000 workers united by capital”; and besides this relatively negligent number of workers “in our country ... is not growing, but perhaps is even” (!) “remaining at the same figure”. Noting that it “is not growing” and therefore exactly “is remaining at the same figure”, let us trace the genesis of this conviction.

2. Number of Workers

Here Mr. Tikhomirov is repeating the words of Mr. V.V., to whom the credit is due for having noticed the numerical stagnation of our working class. For Mr. V.V., the entire significance of capitalism is reduced to “the union of the workers”; it is understandable why he exerts himself so much to prove that the number of our workers “is remaining at the same figure”. Once this proposition is proved, capitalism’s inability to contribute to the success of Russian culture in any sense at all is also proved. People who know that the role of capitalism is not confined to “the union of the workers” also know that the fact quoted by Mr. V.V. would not prove anything at all, even if it were correct. And those who are familiar with today’s Russian statistics know, besides, that the fact itself is incorrect. How, indeed, does Mr. V.V. prove it? From a single article in Vestnik Yevropy [4*] he “drew the following table on the history of Russian non-taxable factories and works”. [5*]



Number of


Number of


in rubles


per worker
in rubles










approx. 300










approx. 330





approx. 870

From these figures Mr. V.V. concludes that from 1842, i.e., the time when England allowed the free export of machines, and mainly from 1854, the development of Russian production began to follow the “law” which he had developed, i.e., that “side by side with the increase of its” (capital’s) “turnover, there was a decrease in the number of workers – production expanded not in width, but in depth”. [3] Is that true? Not quite.

In order to find the “law” of the development of Russian production, one must take into account all Russian production as a whole, and not its separate sections. Why, then, does Mr. V.V. base his conclusions only on figures for “non-taxable factories and works”? We do not know, and probably neither does Mr. Tikhomirov, who indiscriminately repeats what other people say. And yet, so long as this question remains unanswered the “law” found by Mr. V.V. will only have one leg to stand on. Not a few examples are to be found in the history of West European capitalism of “expansion of production not in width, but in depth”. In France, according to Moreau de Jonnes, the total value of woollen industry products increased by 74 per cent from 1811 to 1850, the number of looms used nearly doubled, and the number of workers employed “dropped by 15,000”. [4] Does this mean that from 1811 the number of French workers “remained at the same figure” or even decreased? Not at all: the decrease in one branch of production was compensated by an increase in others; in the forty years preceding 1850, capitalism doubtlessly drew into its wake an enormous mass of workers, although, of course, it did not provide them with a guaranteed wage, as bourgeois economists try to assure readers. Mr. V.V. should have proved that no similar phenomenon took j>lace in Russia, above all as, precisely from the forties, there was rapid development in certain taxable industries in our country.

Did he do so? He could not do so, because the statistic figures he quoted are of no use for any serious conclusions; for instance, the figures relating to 1842 are simply incommensurable with those for the second half of the sixties; they were collected by various institutions using various methods and are therefore not equally reliable. Up to 1866 statistic computations were based mainly on Ministry of Finance information supplied by the manufacturers themselves and mostly inaccurate. Up to 1861, taxable works were not taken into account at all. And finally it was in 1866, thanks to the efforts of the Central Statistical Committee, that more accurate figures were obtained. Mr. V.V. would have shown more caution by not basing any laws on the shaky foundations of such “statistics”. But leaving that aside, the figures quoted by him do not agree with those of the Central Statistical Committee, i.e., the only data which are at all reliable. According to the information of this Committee, the number of workers employed in the “manufacturing ind ustry” in European Russia (not including the Kingdom of Poland and Finland) was 829,573. They were divided as follows among the various groups of production [5]:



Working up of

fibrous materials






livestock products


mineral products




chemical production




food products




“What song do these figures sing?” we ask, using Mr. V.V.’s words. First of all that even in the non-taxable industries the number of workers in 1866 was much higher than the figure which was to testify in favour of his “law”.

But these figures are not accurate either, they are lower than the reality. In an addendum to the chapter on the manufacturing industry, the editors of Voyenno-Statistichesky Sbornik admit that “in the index to the exhibition (of 1870) and in Timiryazev’s atlas” they “came across many factories and works which were not mentioned in previous sources”. Pages 913 and 914 of Sbornik are printed in very small, close-set type and are completely filled by a list of such factories. This new list only mentions enterprises with a production of not less than 25,000 rubles and the greater part of it deals with factories with a production of over 100,000 rubles. But Mr. Timiryazev’s atlas was not complete either. Mr. Skalkovsky, basing himself on declarations of “many manufacturers”, said that the figures in that atlas “are all the same far from the truth”, even after the corrections made to them by Messrs. Alafuzov and Alexandrov. [6]

This is quite understandable. It was precisely after 1842, i.e., after England allowed free export of machines, that many of the “non-taxable branches of our industry developed rapidly both ‘in width’ and ‘in depth’.” It was only after that time, for example, that our cotton-spinning mills began to develop. This development was “partly promoted by the fact that in 1841 ... we had an increase of customs dues on imported yarn”. And although these dues were abolished in 1850 the success of Russian cotton spinning was nevertheless assured, our own yarn began to oust the foreign article more and more. The following figures show what a great change took place in our cotton manufactures in a matter of some forty years:

In 1824-25

we imported


poods of

raw cotton






In 1844




raw cotton






In 1867




raw cotton






That this “change” was caused by the expansion of our capitalist industry after 1842 “in width” also, by the way, is seen from the fact that many new weaving, cotton and other mills in our country date from quite recent times. “The development of cotton spinning affected the further processing of cotton yarn. The peasants’ weaving looms began gradually to be moved out of the cramped houses into roomy weaving halls [6*] containing ten or more looms at which not only the master but also hired people worked ... Finally, the bleaching, dyeing and printing industries were renovated. Out of home production and crafts establishments in these sectors grew real factories, some of which became comparable with those abroad in a short time.” [7] In “one of the less industrial uyezds of Moscow Gubernia”, namely Klin, Mr. Erisman says, “the majority of the small weaving mills now existing were founded in the late sixties and early seventies. The Balin and Makarov cottonspinning mill (employing 432 workers of both sexes) was founded in 1840; the power-loom cotton factory of Kaulen, Kapustin and Krasnogorov (776 workers of both sexes) in 1849; the Flandensilk-weaving and carpet factory (275 workers) in 1856; the power-loom cotton factory of Kashayev (from 500 to 700 workers) in 1864. Match production began in 1863 with the equipment of the first Zakharov works (90 workers in his.two factories and 60 in the Stram factory). Approximately at the same time the working of calf-leather, begun earlier, was considerably extended by the establishment of several new works in Steshino. As for the development of factory industry in the uyezd during the seventies, an idea of this can be obtained from the following figures, which show the number of factories and works among those that we examined which are known to have been built after 1871.

Weaving factories



Fringe factories


Bleaching and dyeing


Mechanical works


Treacle works


Dyeing establishments


Starch works


Leather factories


Match works


Mirror factories


Chemical works


Sandalwood mills


Shoemaking works


“Actually, the number of factory establishments founded after 1871 and in particular the number of small weaving mills set up in the seventies is much larger than shown here since, firstly, we did not visit all the small establishments and, therefore, cannot say anything about the time of their foundation, and secondly, even in the establishments we examined we did not always get exact data about the time of their establishment.

“Moreover, it must be note that even now (1880) new factories are being set up in Klin Uyezd. Thus, the Kashayev association is expanding production by equipping a cotton–spinning mill; F.O. Zakharov has built another match works in Klin; in the village of Shchekino, Troitskoye Volost, a new boltingmill has been founded, belonging to the peasant Nikifor Pavlov; the steam sawmill at Zavidovo Station. Nikolayevskaya Railway, has expanded production, and finally, the Frishmak works producing wheel grease has been built near Solnechnogorsk Station.” [8]

“What song” do these facts, taken from the economic life of one of the least industrial uyezds of Moscow Gubernia, “sing”? Certainly not that the number of factory workers is “remaining at the same figure”. Rather that our exceptionalist writers use too exceptionalist methods to prove Russian exceptionalism. That in general; but to Mr. Tikhomirov they sing in chorus that his programme is based on too superficial a knowledge of the contemporary condition of our industry. Mr. Tikhomirov is quite mistaken if he seriously thinks that in our country “the number of factory and plant workers does not exceed 800,000”. According to official information the figure for factories and plants in European Russia (not including the Kingdom of Poland) “does not”, indeed, “exceed” the figure given by Mr. Tikhomirov: in 1879 it was 711,097, which, however, does not include the number of workers at distilleries. But Mr. Tikhomirov forgets that this “figure” applies only to the manufacturing industry. He takes no account of mining and metallurgical workers. And in those industries in the same year 1879 the number of workers was 282,959, and in the following year, 1880, the number increase. by nearly ten thousand. The total is, therefore, 1,003,143. But can this figure be considered as even approximately correct? Do not forget that these are official figures collected by our administration and sarcastically called “ ministerial figures” by our administration itself. We already know that the publishers of Voyenno-Statistichesky Sbornik pointed out that the figures thus obtained were “in the majority incomplete and lower than the reality”. At the First All-Russia Congress of Manufacturers, Works Owners and Persons Interested in National Industry, at the sitting of the Third Session on May 29, 1870, it was also noted that “the existing method of collecting statistic information on industry exclusively through routine returns made by the police at zemstvos is extremely unsatisfactory” and that the statistic data thus collected are considerably lower than the reality. In the opinion of N.S. Ilyin, “it is a commonly known truth that we have no statistics, either of industry or of trade”. [9] This incompleteness and this inaccuracy are still indisputable facts today. In the study by Mr. Erisman that we quoted above we read (p.6) that according to information collected by him “the number of workers was twice as large as shown in the reports of the district police officer”. This depends, he said, “mainly on the fact that works and factory owners, when asked officially about the number of workers at the establishments they own, nearly always give figures considerably lower than the real ones”. Are there any grounds for thinking that if we had a more accurate method of investigation of statistics we would not come across the same thing in other uyezds and gubernias in Russia? And if not, will we not be obliged to almost “double” the general total of factory and plant workers? From the debates which took place at the Congress of Manufacturers already referred to it will be seen that this assumption is hardly exaggerated. According to Mr. A.B. von Buschen, some manufacturers “openly admitted to him that they reduce the real figures by half.” Mr. T.S. Morozov, representing one of the biggest firms in Russia, stated that “when the police collect information, a big manufacturer, for instance, orders his clerk to write the same as the previous year, and similar reports are returned year in, year out over ten years, whereas both the quantity of material processed and the number of workers have changed. The official writes down what he is told, he knows nothing about the matter”. Mr. M.P. Syromyatnikov says that “there are many instances of production figures being cut by half , and not by small, but by very substantial businessmen; figures are sometimes divided by ten. This is a reliable fact.” We ask our readers not to forget that all these revelations are made by manufacturers themselves, for whom such falsifications are all the same a “delicate question”. What are we then to think of writers who not only base their social and political theories on data whose inaccuracy is obvious a priori, but continue to maintain that “the number of factory workers remains at the same figure” even after the manufacturers have explained the perfectly simple reason for this phenomenon? At the very best we must admit that such writers do not know the subject they are discussing!

But why do manufacturers resort to such cunning? “Many of them,” Mr. von Buschen replies, “give false reports purposely, for fear of levies of some kind ... Some have openly stated that certain zemstvos tax factories in proportion to the number of machines, workers, etc., and consequently it is with absolute deliberation that they give smaller figures.” When the collector of statistic information arrives, “the factory owner says: ‘Ah! they’re from the zemstvo, they probably want to levy some tax according to the number of workers’, and he gives orders to report only half as many workers as he has”. [10]

Hence we see clearly how our r evolutionaries’ confidence of the bourgeoisie’s economic powerlessness is advantageous to the bourgeoisie themselves. Fearing income tax and all other attacks on their capital, our “private businessmen” try by all means in their power to hide the real scale of their production. With amazing naivete our revolutionaries take their “oh’s” and “ah’s” at face value and do not doubt for a minute the accuracy of the figures they give; they build upon them whole theories about the “balance of forces on Russian soil” and spread among our youth erroneous ideas on the forms of exploitation of the Russian people. By so doing, our revolutionaries play into the hands of the “knights of primitive accumulation” and capitalist production.

However, it would be unfair to accuse Vestnik Narodnoi Voli of disseminating such erroneous ideas. Vestnik’s main fault is that it constantly contradicts itself and that, as the Gospel says, its right hand does not know what its left is doing. Mr. Tikhomirov assures his readers that Russian “industry is developing sluggishly”. But in the article, The Condition of the Ore Miners and Factory Workers in the Urals, written “according to personal observation” and published in the same issue No.2 of Vestnik Narodnoi Voli we read exactly the opposite. The author of the article is “sure” that if his readers saw “the various locomotives, sowing or winnowing machines and many other kinds of big machines made here in Russia by our workers”, many of those readers of Vestnik Narodnoi Voli would not be able to help exclaiming: “What the devil! [11] Russia is making giant steps forward. Why, only yesterday, so to speak, they could not have made anything of that kind even of barely tolerable, not to speak of good, quality ... Only some fifty years ago there were hardly ten factories in the whole of Russia! And now? Now there are nearly 200 iron works in the Urals alone, and how many in Petersburg, Moscow, and so on and so forth. There’s something for you! Just give us freedom ... In ten or fifteen years the number of works in our country would double and production itself, technology would improve”, etc. The author of the article thinks that this rather long “exclamation” expresses “correctly” the real state of affairs. According to what he says – and what he says, we know, is founded on “personal observation” – “we have had enormous success recently in this (i.e., the industrial) respect: the number of works is continually increasing, technology is improving (there is ‘sluggish development’ for you!). Our last exhibition [7*] showed that some of our metal works are almost on a level with the best in Europe.” [12] Is there anyone who can clear up this confusion? Whom are we to believe: Mr. Tikhomirov, or a man who has “personally observed” the development of our industry? To top it, we will note that when the latter author “has the occasion to read articles” not based on personal observation but written by “some learned or non-learned writer on the condition of our workers, they arouse no reaction” in him but “bitter laughter”. I imagine that he had a fit of Mephistophelean laughter when he read Mr. Tikhomirov’s report on the “sluggish” development of our industry!

But let us leave the economic contradictions of Vestnik Narodnoi Voli and return to Mr. Tikhomirov: at present the part interests us more than the whole.

We have shown our author that the figures he reports do not correspond even to the “official truth”. Moreover, we have quoted figures on the basis of which we can be sure that the “official truth” in turn does not correspond to the reality. Now we shall tell him that he simply does not know how to deal with the inaccurate statistical figures that he has at his disposal, because he operates with magnitudes that are in no way commensurable. According to him “out of 100 million inhabitants in our country there are 800,000 workers united by capital” – a most unfavourable proportion for our industry. But the figure 100 million (to be more exact 101,342,242) represents the population of the whole empire, i.e., not only European Russia (76,589,965), but also the Kingdom of Poland (7,319,980), Finland (2,060,782), the Caucasus and the Kars and Batumi regions (6,254,966), Siberia (3,965,192) and Central Asia (5,151,354). But the number of workers indicated by Mr. Tikhomirov is only for European Russia and exclusively for “manufacturing industries”. What can we say about such methods of comparative statistic study?

Author’s Footnotes

1. Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, Th.III, S.2.

2. [Note to the 1905 edition.] The present behaviour of the Russian bourgeoisie shows that the contradiction which I point out was, indeed, irreconcilable.

3. See The Destinies of Capitalism in Russia, pp.26-27.

4. Statistique de I’industrie de la France, p.34

5. See Voyenno-Statistichesky Sbornik No.IV, Russia, St. Petersburg 1871, pp.322-25.

6. See Shorthand Account of the Sittings of the Third Session of the First All-Russia Congress of Manufacturers, Works Owners, etc., p.37.

7. Voyenno-Statistichesky Sbornik No.IV, p.378.

8. Collection of Statistical Reports on Moscow Gubernia, Section on Sanitation Statistics, Vol.III, No.1, Erisman, Study of Factory Establishments in Klin Uyezd, Moscow 1881, pp.7-8.

9. See Shorthand Account of the Sittings of the Third Session of the Congress mentioned above, pp.47 and 54.

10. Ibid., p.31.

11. There is no need to say that we are not responsible for the fine language of the quotations we make from our author.

12. Vestnik Narodnoi Voli No.2, pp.155-56.


1*. Physiocrats – a group of French bourgeois economists in the second half of the 18th century (Quesnay, Turgot and others) who considered agricultural labour as the only productive work and supported the development of industrial agriculture.

2*. Manchester School – a group of English economists (Cobden, Bright and others) who in the first half of the 19th century expressed the interests of industrial bourgeoisie of the premonopolistic epoch, aspirations of that bourgeoisie for free trade, and its protest against any state interference in economic life. These economists fiercely fought against corn taxes, on the one hand, and against restricting the length of the working day by legislation, on the other. They considered free competition to be the main motive force of production. Marx showed that Manchesterian demagogy covered up the desire to achieve freedom of capitalist enterprise and to intensify the exploitation of the working class.

3*. Polyakov – a Russian capitalist – used to bribe the ministers to obtain concessions in railway building.

4*. Vestnik Yevropy (European Messenger) – a monthly magazine devoted to politics and history, bourgeois liberal in trend, that appeared in St. Petersburg from 1866 to 1918. From the nineties it fought Marxism.

5*. Vorontsov borrowed this table from V.I. Veshnyakov’s article Russian Industry and Its Needs, Vestnik Yevropy, No.10, 1870.

6*. Weaving hall (Russian svetyolka) – here it is a special light, roomy loghouse used for work.

7*. Here the All-Russia Arts and Industry Exhibition, Moscow, 1882, is meant.

Last updated on 16.10.2006