Georgi Plekhanov

A New Champion of Autocracy


To conclude, a few words about our Grech. The reader can now see what should have constituted progress in our revolutionary theories and what will constitute it. As we noted above, our socialist Narodniks of all possible groups and trends, including the Narodnaya Volya party, did not find support in evolution. but sought support against it in all sorts of sophisms. Their doctrine consisted in idealizing the economic system which, if it were in reality as stable and unshakable as it seemed to them, would condemn them for ever to utter powerlessness. A criticism of Narodism was therefore the first and indispensable step forward on the way to the future development of our revolutionary movement. If Mr. Tikhomirov was seriously grieved by the inability of the Russian revolutionaries to make evolution and revolution harmonize, he only had to undertake such a criticism. But he did just the opposite. He did not criticize Narodism, he only carried its main propositions to the extreme. The errors which underlay the Narodist outlook reached such gigantic proportions in his head that he can call himself a “worker for progress” (whether peaceful or otherwise does not matter in this case) only as a joke. In brief, if the Narodniks proceeded from certain erroneous propositions, Mr. Tikhomirov carries those propositions to the extent of monstrosity and now proceeds happily from the absurd. But that horse will not carry him far!

Such is the sad history of our author’s “revolutionism.” This “revolutionism” was for a long time in complete theoretical solitude, but the time came when he saw that “it was no good for him to be alone” and he deigned to contract lawful wedlock with some theory of evolution. He “sought” himself a suitable party for a few years and finally rested his eyes in love on the theory of “unity of the party with the country.” This very modest-looking maiden, who passed herself off, so to say, as the major theory of evolution, turned out to be first a wicked woman who drove Mr. Tikhomirov’s “revolutionism” to the grave, and secondly an impostor, who had nothing in common with any doctrine of social development.

Mr. Tikhomirov thinks that this story contains a lot of instructive material! It is instructive, but in a sense not so flattering for him.

He imagines that on reading the pamphlet Why I Ceased to be a Revolutionary everybody will think: it is obvious that the author was a revolutionary only through the fault of others, only because all our educated people are noted by their extremely absurd habits of thinking; and Mr. Tikhomirov ceased to be a revolutionary thanks to his own outstanding features of “creative” reason and his wonderfully profound patriotism. Alas! not even Russky Vestnik came to that conclusion.

In Mr. Tikhomirov’s complaints about what he had to suffer from the revolutionaries because of his “evolution” one can sense proud consciousness of his own superiority. He is cleverer than the others, the others don’t understand or appreciate him and insult him terribly when they should be ready to applaud him.

But Mr. Tikhomirov is cruelly mistaken. He owes his “evolution only to his lack of development. Woe from wit is not his woe. His woe is woe from ignorance.

And this man, who understands no more about socialism than a pen-pusher in a Petersburg police station, was for a long time considered as a prophet and an interpreter of some kind of special “Russian” socialism which he liked to oppose to West European socialism! Revolutionary youth listened to his disquisitions, considering him as the continuer of the work of Zhelyabov and Perovskaya. Now they see what this would-be continuer was. Mr. Tikhomirov’s betrayal has forced our revolutionaries to direct their critical attention to his person. But that is not all. They, are now obliged to check critically all that Mr. Tikhomirov wrote throughout the eighties when he, although himself not believing what he wrote, thought it necessary to write in the capacity of revolutionary. [1] A lot of rubbish Mr. Tikhomirov came out with, a lot of questions he muddled during those years. And until we can clear up that muddle, even if we have broken with him and assessed him as he deserves, we shall still not free ourselves from theoretical Tikhomirovism. But free ourselves we must.

And now, good-bye, Mr. Tikhomirov. May our orthodox god grant you health and our autocratic god reward you with the rank of general!



1. See p.8 of his pamphlet. In Faith and Truth, by Conscience and Conviction, Mr. Tikhomirov served the revolutionary cause only “until nearly the end of 1880.” Since that remote time all that he had was a mere “formal” loyalty to the banner. But that did not prevent him from writiné numerous disquisitions on revolutionary themes, disquisitions which, he says, fill “more than 600 pages in small type.”