Review of Home Affairs
I. Famine[edit source]
Again famine! The last ten years have been marked, not only by the ruin of the peasantry, but by its veritable extinction, which has proceeded with such an astonishing rapidity that no war, however prolonged and bitter, has claimed such a host of victims. The most powerful forces of modern times are massed against the peasant: world capitalism, which is developing at an ever increasing rate, has created transoceanic competition, and has provided the small minority of farmers able to hold out in the desperate struggle for survival with the most improved methods and implements of production; and the militarist state, whose adventurous policy in its colonial possessions in the Far East and Central Asia involves enormous costs heavily burdening the masses of working people, the state which, in addition, is organising at the people’s expense ever newer “suppression” and “restraints” to counteract the growing discontent and indignation of the masses.
Since famine has become a usual phenomenon in our country, it would .be natural to expect that the government would try to fix and strengthen its usual food distribution policy. While in 1891-92 the government was caught unawares and was at first thrown into consternation, now, however, it is rich in experience and knows precisely where (and how) to proceed. In its July issue (No. 6), Iskra wrote: “At this moment a black cloud of people’s distress is threatening our country and the government is once again making preparations for the exercise of its disgraceful function of brute violence to deprive the starving people of bread and punish everyone who, contrary to government policy, renders aid to the hungry.”
The government’s preparations were swift and determined. The spirit in which they were made is illustrated by the Elizavetgrad affair. Prince Obolensky, Governor of Kherson Gubernia, immediately declared war upon all who dared to write or speak about the famine in Elizavetgrad, appeal for public aid for the famine-stricken, form private groups, and invite private persons to organise this aid. The Zemstvo doctors wrote to the newspapers stating that famine was raging in the uyezd, that the people were disease-stricken and were dying, and that the “bread” they were eating was something unbelievable, not deserving to be called bread. The governor launched a polemic against the doctors and published official denials. Anyone at all acquainted with the general conditions under which our press has to work, anyone who will take the trouble to recall the severe persecution to which even moderate organs and incomparably more moderate authors have been subjected recently, will understand the significance of this “polemic” between the head of a gubernia and mere Zemstvo doctors who are not even in government service. It was simply an act of gagging them, an outright declaration without any ceremony that the government would not tolerate the truth about the famine. But what is a mere declaration? Whatever may be said of others, the Russian Government certainly cannot be reproached with restricting itself to mere declarations when the opportunity exists to “apply power”. And Prince Obolensky hastened to apply power; he appeared personally on the scene of war—war upon the famine-stricken and upon those who, though not on the pay roll of any department, desired to render real aid to the famine-stricken; and he prohibited a number of private persons (including Madame Uspenskaya), who had come to the famine-stricken area, from opening food-kitchens. Like Julius Caesar, Prince Obolensky came, saw, and conquered; and the telegraph promptly informed the entire Russian reading public of his victory. One thing is perplexing—that this victory, this brazen challenge to all Russians who have retained at least a shred of decency, a grain of civic courage, met with no opposition whatever from those who, one may say, were most interested in the matter. Very many persons in Kherson Gubernia doubtless knew—and know now—the reason for the silence about the famine and the fight against famine relief; but no one has published a single statement on this instructive case, or the relevant documents, or even a simple appeal to protest against the monstrous prohibition of food-kitchens. When the government carries out its threat to dismiss all who “lost time” on the First of May, the workers declare a strike; but the intelligentsia keeps silent when intellectuals are prohibited... from rendering aid to the famine-stricken.
Encouraged, as it were, by success in the first skirmish with the “sowers of discord” who dare to aid the famine-stricken, the government soon launched an attack all along the line. Prince Obolensky’s valiant exploit was elevated to a guiding principle, into a law, which would henceforth regulate the relations between all administrators and all persons accessory to the distribution of food (the word “accessory”, strictly speaking, is a term in criminal law peculiar to the Penal Code; but as we have seen and shall see below, at the present time rendering aid to the famine-stricken without authority is regarded as a crime). Such a law was soon enacted— this time in the simplified form of “a circular from the Minister of the Interior to all governors of gubernias affected by the harvest failure of 1901” (August 17, 1901, No. 20).
It may be assumed that this circular will serve for many years to come as a souvenir of the monumental heights to which police fear rises in the face of the people’s distress, a fear of closer ties between the famine-stricken people and the “intellectuals” who desire to help them; at the same time, it is a fear that reveals a firm intention to suppress all “clamour” about the famine and to restrict relief to the most insignificant scope. One can only regret that the immoderate length of the circular and the ponderous official style in which it is written will hinder the public at large from becoming acquainted with its contents.
It will be remembered that the law of June 12, 1900, took the management of food affairs out of the hands of the Zemstvos and transferred it to the rural superintendents and uyezd congresses. What, it seemed, could be more reliable? The elective principle was eliminated; persons in any way independent of the authorities would have no jurisdiction and consequently would make no more noise. But after Prince Obolensky’s campaign, all this appeared to be inadequate. The whole business must be more strictly subordinated to the Ministry and to the officials directly carrying out its orders; the slightest possibility of exaggeration must be definitely removed. For that reason, the question as to which uyezds are “affected by the harvest failure” is from now on to be decided exclusively by the Ministry, which apparently is to serve as the headquarters for the general staff for conducting military operations against the famine-stricken. Through the medium of the governors, these headquarters will direct the activities of the individuals (principally the uyezd marshals of the nobility) in whose hands the Central Uyezd Food Board is concentrated. The initiator of military operations against the famine-stricken, Prince Obolensky, was obliged to travel personally to the district in order to prohibit, restrain, and curtail. Now, everything is “regulated”, and all that is necessary is an exchange of telegrams (possible, thanks to the grant of a thousand rubles per uyezd for office expenses) between the Central Uyezd Board and the St. Petersburg Central Board for the necessary “orders” to be given. Turgenev’s civilised landlord not only kept away from the stables, but even gave orders in subdued tones to a livened footman in white gloves: “See that Fyodor gets it...” So it will be here now; “orders” will be given, “without clamour”, nicely and quietly, to restrain the immoderate appetites of the starving population.
The fact that Mr. Sipyagin is convinced that the appetite of the starving peasant is immoderate becomes evident, not only from the persistent warnings in the circular against “exaggeration”, but from the new regulations it lays down which remove all possibility of exaggeration. Do not be in a hurry to draw up the lists of the distressed, for this will arouse among the population “exaggerated hopes”, the Minister states explicitly, and orders that the lists be drawn up only immediately before grain is to be distributed. Furthermore, the circular regards it as superfluous to determine when an uyezd should be considered a distressed area; but it distinctly states when an uyezd should not be considered a distressed area (e.g., when not more than one-third of the volosts are affected, when usual auxiliary employment is available, etc.). Finally, in regard to the rate of relief to be granted to the famines-stricken, the Minister introduces regulations which show with extreme clarity that the government desires at all costs to cut down these grants to the very minimum, to mere doles that do nothing to secure the population against starvation. In point of fact, the quota is forty-eight poods of grain per family (calculated on the average yield of the harvest in each village), and those who possess that amount or more are not in need. How this figure was arrived at, no one knows. All that is known is that in non-famine years even the poorest peasant consumes twice as much grain (cf. Zemstvo Statistical Investigation of Peas ants’ Budgets). Consequently, undernourishment is considered a normal state according to the Minister’s prescript. But even this quota is reduced, first by half, in order to prevent the working elements, which represent about fifty per cent of the population, from obtaining loans, and then by one-third, one-fifth, and one-tenth, “in proportion to the approximate number of well-to-do farmers having stocks left over from last year, or any other [literally so: “or any other”!] material resources”. One can judge from this what an insignificant fraction of the amount of grain actually required by the population will be represented by the loan the government intends to grant. And, as if rejoicing in his insolence, Mr. Sipyagin, in explaining this incredible system of curtailing relief, declares that such an approximate computation “has rarely been found to be greatly exaggerated”. Comment is superfluous.
Whenever official declarations of the Russian Government contain something more than bare instructions and make at least some attempt to explain them, they almost invariably —it is a kind of law more stable than the majority of our laws —advance two principal motives or rather two principal types of motives. On the one hand, we invariably find a number of general phrases, written in pompous style, about official solicitude and a desire to meet the requirements of the time and the wishes of public opinion. Thus, reference is made to the “important task of averting a food shortage among the rural population”, to the “moral responsibility for the welfare of the local population”, etc. It goes without saying that these commonplaces signify nothing and impose no definite obligation; but they are as alike as two peas to the immortal sermons delivered by the immortal Judas Golovlyov to the peasants he had robbed. Parenthetically it should be said, these commonplaces are constantly exploited (sometimes out of simple-mindedness and sometimes as a “duty”) by the censored liberal press whereby to demonstrate that the government shares its point of view.
But if the other, less general and less obviously hollow motives of the government’s orders are examined more closely, concrete statements will always be found which repeat in toto the established arguments of the most reactionary organs of our press (e.g., Moskovskiye Vedomosti). We are of the opinion that it would be well worth while (and quite possible even for those who work legally) to follow up and record every case of this solidarity between the government and Moskovskiye Vedomosti. In the circular under discussion, for example, we find a repetition of the vile accusations levelled by the terribly “wild landlords” to the effect that the premature compilation of lists of the distressed stimulates “efforts among certain well-to-do householders to give their farms an appearance of poverty by selling their supplies, reserves, and implements”. The Minister states that this “has been proved by experience in the course of previous food campaigns”. Consequently? Consequently, the Minister acquires his political experience from the lessons taught him by the most hidebound serf-owners, who raised such a clamour in previous famine years, who are clamouring now about the deceit of the peasants, and who are so indignant over the “noise” that is being raised about the epidemic of famine typhus.
It was from these serf-owners also that Mr. Sipyagin learned to talk about demoralisation. “It is extremely important,” he writes, “for ... the local institutions ... to help economise the allocated funds and, above all [sic!!], prevent the unjustified grants of government relief to persons who are materially secure, because of the harmful and demoralising effect of such grants." This shameless instruction to help economise the funds is sealed by the following advice based on a point of principle: ". . .wide distribution of food grants to families that can dispense with them [that can subsist on twenty-four poods of grain a year per family?], apart from being an unproductive [!] expenditure of state funds, will be no less harmful from the standpoint of the benefits and requirements of the state than if those really in distress were left without proper aid." In bygone times, monarchs would in their sentimental moments say: “It is better to acquit ten criminals than to convict one innocent man”; but nowadays the right arm of the tsar declares: It is as harmful to give relief to families that can manage on twenty-four poods of grain a year as to leave families “really” in need without relief. What a pity that this magnificently candid “point of view” regarding “the benefits and requirements of the state” is obscured from the eyes of the general public by a lengthy and dull circular! One hope is left: perhaps the Social-Democratic press and Social-Democratic oral agitation will enable the people to become more closely acquainted with the contents of the ministerial circular.
But the circular directs an especially vigorous “attack” upon private philanthropists. Everything indicates that the administrators, who are waging war against the famine stricken, consider the most important “enemy” position to be private relief circles, private food-kitchens, etc. With laudable frankness Mr. Sipyagin explains why private philanthropy has for a long time now given the Ministry of the Interior sleepless nights. “Beginning with the poor harvest of 1891 and 1892, and during all subsequent calamities of a similar kind,” says the circular, “it has not infrequently been found that certain philanthropists, while rendering material aid to the inhabitants of the affected districts, strive to rouse among them discontent with the present system and encourage the people to make totally unjustified demands on the government. At the same time, the failure to meet the distress to the full, and the inevitable ailments and economic disorders that arise therefrom, create an extremely favourable soil for anti-government agitation; politically unreliable persons freely take advantage of this and pursue their criminal aims under the cloak of helping their neighbour. Usually, as soon as the first news of a serious harvest failure is received, persons with a political past that is not irreproachable pour into the affected districts from all directions, strive to make contact with representatives of charitable organisations and institutions from the capital, who, through ignorance, engage those persons as local helpers and in this way create serious difficulties inimical to the interests of good order and administration.”
However, the Russian Government is becoming hard pressed in the land of Russia. Time was when only the student youth was considered as a stratum calling for special security measures. The students were subjected to the strictest surveillance, contact with them on the part of persons whose political past is not irreproachable was regarded as a great offence, every study circle and society, even if it pursued purely philanthropic aims, was suspected of anti-government aims, etc. In those times—not far in the past—there was no other stratum, to say nothing of a social class, that in the eyes of the government, represented “an extremely favourable soil for anti-government agitation”. But since the middle nineties, one meets in official government communications mention of another, immeasurably more numerous, social class that calls for special security measures—the factory workers. The growth of the labour movement compelled the government to establish a full-fledged system of institutions to maintain surveillance over this new stormy element. Among the districts prohibited as places of residence for politically doubtful persons were included factory centres and settlements, uyezds and whole gubernias, in addition to the capitals and university cities. Two-thirds of European Russia came under special protection against unreliable elements, while the remaining third is becoming so crowded with “persons whose political past is not irreproachable” that even the remotest province is becoming restless. It now appears that according to the authoritative judgement of so competent a person as the Minister of the Interior even the remotest village represents “favourable soil” for anti-government agitation, insofar as there occur in it cases of not fully relieved distress, of sickness, and of economic disorder. And are there many Russian villages in which such “cases” are not constant? And should not we Russian Social-Democrats immediately take advantage of Mr. Sipyagin’s instructive reference to “favourable” soil? On the one hand, precisely at this moment, the rural districts are displaying interest in the rumours which at times have managed to penetrate to them in one way or another about the skirmishes that occurred between the government’s gendarmes and the urban proletariat and the young intelligentsia in February and March. On the other hand, do not phrases like the peasant’s “totally unjustified demands”, etc., provide a sufficiently wide programme for the most extensive, all-round agitation?
We must take advantage of Mr. Sipyagin’s useful information and laugh at his simplicity. It is indeed the sheerest naïveté to imagine that by placing private charity under the supervision and control of the governor he can hinder the spread of the influence of “unreliable” persons in the rural districts. Genuine philanthropists have never pursued political aims, so that the new measures of prohibition and restriction will mostly affect the very persons who are least dangerous to the government. Those, however, who desire to open the eyes of the peasants to the real significance of these measures, and to the government’s attitude towards the famine, will not consider it necessary to establish con tact with representatives of the Red Cross or present them selves to the governors. Thus, when it was found that the factory environment represented “favourable soil”, those who desired to establish contact with that environment did not visit the factory managers for information about factory conditions or present themselves to the factory inspectors for permission to organise meetings with the workers. We are fully aware, of course, that it is extremely difficult to carry on political agitation among the peasantry, the more so since it is impossible and irrational to withdraw revolutionary forces from the cities for that purpose. Yet we must not lose sight of the fact that the government’s heroic deeds, such as restricting private charity, remove a good half of these difficulties and do half our work for us.
We shall not dwell on the same Minister’s circular calling for stricter surveillance over charitable concerts, theatrical performances, etc.; for that is a “mere bagatelle”, as compared with the circular we have just examined (cf. article “Fresh Obstacles”, Iskra, No. 9).
We will endeavour to establish the relation that exists now between the government relief for the population, fixed and distributed according to the new regulations, and the actual extent of the distress. True, our information on this point is exceedingly scanty. The press now is thoroughly muzzled, the voices of private organisers of food-kitchens have been silenced simultaneously with the “prohibition” of their activities, and the only sources of information available to the Russian public, now struck dumb by the new stringent measures, are the official police reports on the favourable progress of the food campaign, the articles written in the same spirit in Moskovskiye Vedomosti, sometimes the interviews of an idle reporter with this or that Jack-in-office pompously expatiating on “His Excellency’s singleness of mind and His Excellency’s singleness of authority, etc.”. Thus, Novoye Vremya, No. 9195, reports that the Governor of Saratov, A. P. Engelhardt (formerly Governor of Archangel), gave an interview to a representative of a local newspaper, in the course of which he said that he had personally convened in that locality a conference of marshals of the nobility, of representatives of the Zemstvo Boards, of the rural superintendents, and of representatives of the Red Cross, at which he had “distributed tasks”.
“Scurvy, in the form I have seen it in Archangel Gubernia, is not to be found here [said A. P. Engelhardt]. In Archangel, one cannot approach within five paces of a patient; there the disease is really a form of ’rot’. Here we see mostly the effects of severe anaemia, which results from the awful conditions of domestic life. Almost the only symptoms of scurvy observed here are white lips and white gums.... With proper nutrition such patients recover within a week. Food is now being distributed. About one thousand rations are being distributed daily, although not more than four hundred cases of acute distress have been registered.
“Besides scurvy, only three cases of typhus have been reported in the whole district. We may hope that things will not get worse, for everywhere public works have been organised and the population is assured of employment.”
What prosperity! In the whole of Khvalynsk Uyezd (to which the Jack-in-office refers) there are only four hundred persons in acute distress (in all probability the rest, in Mr. Sipyagin’s and Mr. Engelhardt’s opinion, “can manage well” on twenty-four poods of grain per family per annum!), the population is provided for, and the sick recover within a week. After this, how can we not believe Moskovskiye Vedomosti when, in a special leading article (in No. 258), it informs us that “according to the latest reports, in twelve gubernias affected by the harvest failure the administration is very actively organising relief. Many uyezds have already been investigated for the purpose of ascertaining whether there is a shortage of food; uyezd managers of food affairs have been appointed, etc. Apparently, official representatives of the government are doing everything possible to render timely and adequate aid.”
“...very actively organising”, and ... “not more than four hundred cases of acute distress have been registered”.... in Khvalynsk Uyezd there are 165,000 rural inhabitants, and one thousand rations are being distributed. The yield of rye in the whole of the south-eastern area (including Saratov Gubernia) this year was 34 per cent below average. Of the total area of peasant lands planted to crops in Saratov Gubernia (1,500,000 dessiatines), 15 per cent suffered a complete failure of the harvest (according to the report of the gubernia Zemstvo Board) and 75 per cent suffered a poor harvest, while Khvalynsk and Kamyshin uyezds are the two worst affected uyezds in the gubernia. Consequently, the total amount of grain gathered in by the peasants in Khvalynsk Uyezd is at least 30 per cent below average. Let us assume that half of this shortage affects the well-to-do peasantry, which is not yet reduced thereby to starvation (a very risky assumption, since the well-to-do peasant possesses better land and cultivates it better, so that he always suffers less from a bad harvest than do the poor peasants). But even on this assumption, the number of the starving must be something like 15 per cent, or about 25,000. Yet we are offered the consolation that scurvy in Khvalynsk is not nearly so bad as it is in Archangel, that there were only three cases of typhus (if only they would lie more cleverly!), and that one thousand rations are being distributed (the size of which is in all probability determined by Sipyagin’s system of combating exaggerations).
With respect to the “subsidiary earnings”, which, to avoid exaggeration, Mr. Sipyagin thrice takes into account in his circular (once, when he orders that uyezds in which subsidiary earnings are usual shall not be regarded as affected areas; a second time when he orders that the forty-eight poods scale be reduced by half because 50 per cent of the working population “must” be earning wages; and a third time when he orders this scale to be further reduced by amounts ranging from one-third to one-tenth according to local conditions) —with respect to these subsidiary earnings, not only agricultural but even non-agricultural earnings have diminished in Saratov Gubernia. “The harvest failure,” we read in the above-mentioned Zemstvo Board report, “has also affected the handicraftsmen, due to the drop in the sales of their manufactures. Owing to these circumstances, a crisis .e observed in the uyezds in which handicrafts are most highly developed.” Among these is Kamyshin Uyezd, which has suffered most, and in which many thousands of poor people are engaged in weaving the celebrated local striped calico (sarpinka). Even in normal years conditions in the handicraft industry of this remote rural district were woeful; six- and seven-year-old children, for example, were employed at a wage of seven or eight kopeks a day. We can picture to ourselves what conditions are like there in a year of severe harvest failure and acute crisis in the handicraft industry.
In Saratov Gubernia (and in all affected gubernias, of course), the poor grain harvest is accompanied also by a shortage of fodder. The past few months (i.e., in the second half of the summer!) have seen the spread of various cattle diseases and an increase in cattle mortality. “According to a report of the veterinary surgeon in Khvalynsk Uyezd [we quote from the newspaper that contained the above-mentioned Zemstvo Board report], an examination of the contents of the stomachs of the dead cattle revealed nothing but earth.”
The “Report of the Zemstvo Department of the Ministry of the Interior” on the progress of the food campaign contained, incidentally, the statement that of the uyezds recognised as affected areas “in Khvalynsk alone a number of cases of epidemic scurvy have been discovered in two villages since July. The local medical staff is exerting all its efforts to stop the epidemic and two Red Cross detachments have been sent to the district to assist the local forces. According to the report of the governor [the very A. P. Engelhardt, whose acquaintance we have made], their efforts are meeting with considerable success; according to reports received by the Ministry up to September 12, in none of the other affected uyezds were there any cases of acute distress left without relief, and no development of disease as a consequence of inadequate nutrition is observed.”
To show what confidence may be placed in the statement that no cases of acute distress were left unrelieved (were there cases of chronic distress?) and that the development of disease is not observed, we shall confine ourselves to comparing data on two other gubernias.
In Ufa Gubernia, Menzelinsk and Belebeyev uyezds were declared to be affected areas, and the Zemstvo Department of the Ministry of the Interior reports that “according to the governor’s statement” the amount of the government grant required “specifically for food” is 800,000 poods. However, a special meeting of the Ufa Gubernia Zemstvo. Assembly held on August 27 to discuss the question of rendering relief to the famine-stricken estimated food requirements of those uyezds at 2,200,000 poods of grain, 1,000,000 poods for the other uyezds, not including grants of seed-grain (3,200,000 poods for the entire gubernia) and cattle fodder (600,000 poods). Consequently, the Ministry fixed the grant at one-fourth the amount fixed by the Zemstvo.
Another instance. In Vyatka Gubernia none of the uyezds was declared affected areas at the time when the Zemstvo department issued its report; nevertheless, the food grant was fixed by that body at 782,000 poods. This is the figure which, by press reports, was fixed by the Vyatka Gubernia Food Department at its meeting of August 28 (in accordance with the decisions of the Uyezd Assemblies held between August 18 and 25). Approximately on August 12, these very Assemblies had fixed a different amount for the grant, viz., 1,100,000 poods for food and 1,400,000 poods for seed. Why this difference? What happened between August 12 and 28? The answer is, Sipyagin’s circular of August 17 on fighting the famine-stricken had been published. Consequently, the circular had an immediate effect, and the trifling amount of 230,000 poods of grain was struck out of the estimate, drawn up, mark you, by the Uyezd Assemblies, i.e., by the very institutions which, by the law of June 12, 1900, were established in place of the unreliable Zemstvos, institutions composed of officials generally and of rural superintendents in particular.... Shall we really live to see the day when even the rural superintendents will be accused of liberalism? Perhaps we shall. Recently we read in Moskovskiye Vedomosti the following reprimand inflicted on a certain Mr. Om., who, in Priazovsky Krai had dared to propose that the newspapers publish the minutes of the meetings of the Gubernia Boards for Urban Affairs (since press representatives were not permitted to attend them):
“The purpose is all too transparent: the Russian civil servant frequently suffers from a fear of appearing illiberal, and publicity may compel him, at times even against his own conscience, to support some fantastically liberal scheme proposed by the city or the Zemstvo. By no means an altogether false calculation.”
Should not the Vyatka rural superintendents, who. (apparently out of fear of appearing illiberal) have revealed such unpardonable frivolity in “exaggerating” the food crisis, be placed under special surveillance?
Incidentally, if the wise Russian Government had not withdrawn from it jurisdiction over food affairs, the “fantastically liberal” Vyatka Zemstvo would have gone even further in its estimate of the distress. At all events, the Special Gubernia Conference, held from August 30 to September 2, declared the amount of grain harvested to be 17 per cent, and the amount of cattle fodder 15 per cent, below subsistence needs. The amount absolutely essential is 105,000,000 poods (the amount harvested in an ordinary year being 134,000,000; in this year, 84,000,000 poods). There is, therefore, a shortage of 21 million poods. “The total number of volosts in the gubernia suffering from a shortage of grain this year is 158 out of 310. The population of these volosts numbers 1,566,000 persons of both sexes.” Yes, undoubtedly, “the administration is very actively organising”—minimising the real extent of the distress and reducing the work of relieving the starving to a kind of acrobatics of cheese-paring philanthropy.
In fact, the term “acrobats of philanthropy” would be too flattering a name for the administrators who have rallied under the banner of the Sipyagin circular. What they have in common with acrobats of philanthropy is the paltry nature of the relief they render and their attempts to blow it up into something bigger than it is. But the acrobats of philanthropy at worst regard the people upon whom they bestow their charity as playthings that pleasantly tickle their vanity, whereas the Sipyagin administrators regard their beneficiaries as enemies, as people that make illegal demands ("totally unjustified demands on the government”) and that must therefore be held in restraint. This point of view was expressed most strikingly in the remarkable Provisional Regulations, which were accorded royal sanction on September 15, 1901.
These regulations represent in the full sense a law, which consists of twenty articles and contains so much that is remarkable that we would not hesitate to designate it as one of the most important legislative acts of the early twentieth century. To begin with the title: “Provisional Regulations Governing the Participation of the Population in the Famine-Affected Areas in the Works Undertaken by Order of the Departments of Railways, Agriculture, and State Property.” Evidently these works are so chock-full of benefits that to be allowed to “participate” in them must be regarded as a special act of grace, otherwise the first clause of the new law would not state: “Rural inhabitants of localities affected by the famine shall be allowed to participate in the carrying out of the works projects”, etc.
But the law provides for these “privileges” only in its second half, while in the first it deals with the organisation of the whole business. The competent authorities “determine the most suitable works projects to be undertaken” (Article 2), which “shall be carried out in conformity with the provision in the law” (Article 3, which, like the chapter headings in some Dickensian novel, may be entitled: “The clause of the new law, which tells of the necessity of acting in accordance with the old law”). The public works are to be launched on budget estimates, or on special credits, and the general supervision of the organisation of these works is vested in the Minister of the Interior, who may appoint officials with special powers and who arranges a special “Conference on Food Affairs” with representatives of various ministries participating under the chairmanship of the Deputy Minister. The functions of this body include: (a) granting permission for departures from the existing regulations; (b) discussing proposals for the allocation of funds; (c) “fixing the maximum remuneration to be paid to workmen, as well as establishing the other conditions under which the population may be permitted to participate in the aforesaid works; (d) distributing the work crews to the locations of the projects; and, (e) organising the transport of the crews to the works locations”. The decisions of the Conference must be sanctioned by the Minister of the Interior, as well as, “in corresponding cases”, by the ministers of other departments. The function of determining the works projects, and of ascertaining the number of residents in. need of work, is vested in the rural superintendents, who must report the information to the governors, who, in turn, communicate the information with their opinions to the Ministry of the Interior and “on its instructions arrange, through the rural superintendents, for the dispatch of workers to the works locations....”
Ugh! At last we have mastered the “organisation” of this new business! The question now arises how much lubrication will be required to set all the wheels of this ponderous, purely Russian administrative monster in motion. Try to imagine this thing concretely. Only the rural superintendent comes in direct contact with the famine-stricken. He therefore must take the initiative. He sends a communi cation—to whom? To the governor, says an article of the Provisional Regulations of September 15. But in accordance with the circular of August 17, a special Central Uyezd Food Board has been established, whose function is “to concentrate the management of all food affairs in the uyezd in the hands of a single official” (under the circular of August 17 the uyezd marshal of the nobility should preferably be appointed to that post). A “dispute” arises, which, of course, is quickly settled on the basis of the remarkably clear and simple “principles” outlined in the six points of Article 175 of the General Gubernia Regulations which prescribes “the order for settling,disputes ... between public departments and officials”. In the end the document finds its way somehow into the office of the governor, where someone undertakes to draft an “opinion”. Following which, everything goes to St. Petersburg, there to be examined by the special Conference. But the representative of the Ministry of Railways to the Conference is unable to decide on the expediency of such a public works project as road re pairs in Buguruslan Uyezd, and so another document travels from St. Petersburg to the gubernia and back again. When, finally, the expediency of the works, etc., etc., is decided on in principle, the Conference in St. Petersburg will then set about “distributing the work crews” between Buzuluk and Buguruslan uyezds.
How shall this unwieldy machine be explained? By the novelty of the thing? Not at all. Before the Provisional Regulations of September 15 were introduced, public works could be organised ever so much more simply “on the basis of the existing laws”, and the circular of August 17, which refers to the public works organised by the Zemstvos, the Guardians of the poor, and the gubernia authorities, makes no reference to the necessity for any kind of special organisation. You see, therefore, that the government’s “food campaign” consists in the fact that the St. Petersburg departments spend a whole month (from August 17 to September 15) thinking and thinking, and finally produce a hopelessly tangled skein of red tape. We may be sure, however, that the St. Petersburg Conference stands in no danger of making exaggerations, as do the local bureaucrats who “fear to appear illiberal”....
But the prize exhibit of the new Provisional Regulations is the prescript concerning the “rural inhabitants” hired for the works projects. When work is to be carried out “away from their place of residence”, the workers must first of all form themselves into a special artel, “under the supervision of the rural superintendent”, who endorses the appointment of the artel overseer responsible for maintaining order; secondly, the names of the workmen joining such an artel must be entered in a special list which “is to serve as a substitute for the ordinary legally established residence permits of the workmen thereon listed during their transfer to, and stay at, their place of work, and which must remain in the possession of the official accompanying the workmen on their journey, or, in his absence, in the possession of the artel overseer, and on arrival at the destination must be placed in charge of the works manager”.
Why is it necessary to substitute a special list for the ordinary passports, which every peasant who desires to travel has a right to receive gratis? This is clearly a restriction imposed upon the workmen, since, if they remained in possession of their passports, they would have more freedom in selecting a room, in spending their free time, or in changing one job for another, if they found it more remunerative or convenient to do so. We shall see below that this was done deliberately, not only out of love for red tape, but specifically in order to impose restrictions upon the workmen and make their conditions approximate those of gangs of transported serfs accompanied by an “inventory” of a kind. It appears that the function of “maintaining order on the journey, and the delivery [sic!] of the work crew to the public works manager is vested in an official commissioned for the purpose by the Ministry of the Interior”. The farther into it we get, the more complicated it becomes. The substitution of lists for passports leads to the substitution of freedom of movement by—"consignment of work crews”. What have we here? Gangs of convicts being transported to penal servitude? Have all the laws permitting the peasant in possession of a passport to travel wherever and however he pleases been repealed—perhaps as a punishment for “exaggerating” the famine? Is conveyance at government expense a sufficient reason for depriving a citizen of his rights?
To continue. It appears that the persons in charge of distributing the workmen and of paying their wages, as well as the other officials of the department supervising the execution of the works projects, “on the instructions of the gubernia authorities in the district where the families of the workmen reside, dock the wages earned, wherever possible, and send the deducted amount to their home locations for the maintenance of the workmen’s families”. A further deprivation of rights. How dare the officials deduct part of the wages earned by the workers? How dare they interfere in the work men’s family affairs and decide for them, as if they were serfs, whom they are to maintain and how much they are to con tribute to that end? Would workmen permit their wages to be docked without their consent? Apparently, this question entered the heads of those who drafted the new “penal servitude regulations”, because the clause immediately following the one quoted above says: “The preservation of order among the workmen in the works locations is entrusted, by decision of the Minister of the Interior, to the local rural superintendents, to the officers of the special corps of gendarmerie, to the police officials, or to persons specially appointed for that purpose.” It is clear that the peasants are to be punished by deprivation of their rights for “exaggerating” the famine and for their “totally unjustified demands on the government”! It is not enough that the ordinary police, the factory police, and the secret police keep the Russian workers in general under surveillance; these regulations prescribe the establishment of a special surveillance. One might think the government has completely lost its head out of fear of these work crews of hungry peasants, freighted, transported, and delivered with a thousand precautions.
We read further: “Workers guilty of disturbing the public peace and quiet, deliberately shirking their work, or refusing to carry out the lawful demands of the works managers or those appointed for the purpose of preserving order, are liable, on the order of the officials mentioned in Article 16 [referred to above] to be placed under arrest for three days without trial; for persistent refusal to work they may, on the orders of the said officials, be transported under escort to their permanent place of residence,"
After this, can the Provisional Regulations of September 15 be called anything but provisional penal servitude regulations? Punishment without trial, deportation under escort.... The ignorance and wretchedness of the Russian peasant is very great indeed, but there is a limit to everything. For this constant starvation and the steady banishment of workers from the towns to the country cannot but have their effect. And our government, which is so fond of governing by means of provisional regulations will one day receive a very severe shock.
The Provisional Regulations of September 15 must serve us as a means for wide agitation in workers’ study circles and among the peasantry; we must distribute copies of these regulations with leaflets explaining them; we must call meetings and read this law to the audience, explain its meaning in connection with the government’s “food” policy as a whole. We must see to it that every worker, who is in the least class-conscious and who goes to the village, shall thoroughly understand the meaning of the “provisional penal servitude regulations” and be able to explain to all whom he meets what the regulations are about and what must be done to gain deliverance from the penal servitude of starvation, tyranny, and lack of rights.
Let these provisional regulations governing workers’ artels serve as a standing reproach and a serious warning to the soulful Russian intellectuals who advocate the establishment of various kinds of artels and similar legal societies permitted or encouraged by the government—a reproach for that naiveté with which they believed in the sincerity of the government’s permission or encouragement, without perceiving the base serf character that was concealed behind the signboard of “the furtherance of people’s labour”, etc. A warning—when they speak in the future of artels and other societies permitted by the Sipyagins, never to forget to tell the whole truth about the workers’ artels established in accordance with the provisional regulations of September 15, and if they dare not talk about such artels, to remain entirely silent.
II. Attitude Towards the Crisis and the Famine[edit source]
While we are faced with a fresh outbreak of famine, the old and protracted commercial and industrial crisis, which still drags on, has thrown on to the streets tens of thousands of workers unable to find employment. Distress is very great among these workers, and all the more revealing is the fact that both the government and educated “society” adopt an attitude towards the distress of the workers that is entirely different from their attitude towards the distress of the peasants. The public institutions and the press make no effort to determine the number of workers in distress, or the degree of that distress, even to the extent to which this is done in the case of the peasants. No systematic measures are adopted to organise aid for the starving workers.
Why this difference? It is, in our opinion, least of all because the distress among the workers is less apparent, or reveals itself in less acute forms. True, the city dwellers who do not belong to the working class know very little about the conditions of the factory workers, that they live now even more congested in cellars, attics, and hovels, that they are more undernourished than ever before and are pawning their last sticks and rags. True, the increasing number of tramps and beggars, who frequent doss-houses and fill the prisons and hospitals, do not attract any particular attention, because, well, “everyone” is accustomed to the idea that doss-houses and dens of hopeless wretchedness are always packed in large cities. True, unlike the peasants, unemployed workers are not tied down to a single place, and either of their own accord roam the country in quest of employment or are banished to “their native places” by authorities afraid of concentrations of large numbers of unemployed workers. Nevertheless, anyone who has any contact at all with industrial life knows from experience, and any one who interests himself in public affairs knows from the newspapers, that unemployment is steadily increasing.
No, the reasons for this difference in attitude lie much deeper; they are to be sought in the fact that famine in the rural districts and unemployment in the towns belong to two altogether different types of economic life and are due to altogether different relations between the exploiting and the exploited classes. In the rural districts, the relations between these two classes are extremely confused and complicated by a multiplicity of transitional forms, as, for example, when farming is combined with usury, or with the exploitation of hired labour, etc., etc. It is not the agricultural hired labourer—the antagonism of whose interests to the interests of the landlord and wealthy peasant is clearly apparent and is largely understood by the labourer himself—who is starving, but the small peasant, who is usually regarded (and regards himself) as an independent farmer, who only now and again falls accidentally into some “temporary” dependence. The immediate cause of the famine—the failure of the harvest—is spontaneous in the eyes of t.he masses, it is the will of God. And as poor harvests accompanied by famine have occurred from time immemorial, legislation has long been compelled to reckon with them. For years codes upon codes of laws have existed (principally on paper) providing for the distribution of food among the people and prescribing an involved system of “measures”. Although these measures, borrowed largely from the period of serfdom and the period of prevailing patriarchal, self-sufficing economy, correspond very little to the requirements of modern times, every famine sets in motion the whole government and Zemstvo administrative machine. And, however greatly the powers that he may desire it, this machine finds it difficult, almost impossible, to avoid resorting to all manner of aid from the hated “third persons”, the intellectuals, who are striving to “raise a clamour”. On the other hand, the connection of the famine with the poor harvest, together with the wretched state of the peasants, who do not understand (or but vaguely understand) that it is the increasing exploitation of capital in conjunction with the predatory policy of the government and of the landlords which has reduced them to this ruinous condition, has caused the famine-stricken to feel so absolutely helpless that, far from putting forward exacting demands, they put forward no “demands” at all.
The less conscious the oppressed class is of its oppression and the less exacting it is in its demands upon its oppressors, the larger the number of individuals among the propertied classes who will be inclined towards philanthropy, and the less, relatively, will resistance be offered to this philanthropy by the local landlords, who are directly interested in keeping the peasants in a state of poverty. If this indisputable fact is borne in mind, it will be clear that the increased opposition of the landlords, the loud cries raised about the “demoralisation” of the peasants, and, finally, the purely military measures against the famine-stricken and against the benefactors, adopted by a government actuated by such a spirit, are symptoms of the complete decline and decay of that ancient, supposedly immutable and time-hallowed, patriarchal rural life over which the ardent Slavophils, the reactionaries most conscious of their aim, and the most naive of the old-fashioned Narodniks, wax so enthusiastic. The Narodniks have always accused us Social-Democrats of artificially applying the concept of the class struggle to conditions which do not admit of its application, while the reactionaries have always accused us of sowing class hatred and of inciting “one section of the population against another”. Without reiterating the answer to these charges, which has been given time and time again, we shall state merely that the Russian Government excels us all in the judgement of the profundity of the class struggle, and in the energetic force of the measures that must logically follow from such a judgement. Every one who has in one way or another come in contact with people who in famine years have gone to the village to “feed” the peasants—and who has not come in contact with them?—knows that they were prompted by pure sentiments of pity and humane sympathy, and that “political” plans of any kind were totally alien to them; that the propaganda of the ideas of the class struggle left such people cold, and that the arguments of the Marxists in heated battles against the views of the Narodniks on the village left them unconvinced. What has the class struggle to do with it? they said; the peasants are starving and we must help them —that is all.
But those who could not be convinced by the arguments of the Marxists may perhaps be convinced by the “arguments” of the Minister of the Interior. No, it is not simply that “the peasants are starving”, he warns the philanthropists, and they must not “simply” go to help the peasants without the permission of the authorities, for that spreads demoralisation and stimulates unjustifiable demands. To interfere in the food campaign means to interfere in the plans of God and the police to provide the landlords with workmen willing to work for next to nothing, and the Treasury with taxes collected by force. He who ponders over Sipyagin’s circular must say to himself—Yes, social war is going on in our countryside, and, as in all wars, the belligerents cannot be denied their right to inspect the cargoes of vessels sailing to enemy ports, even if the vessels sail under neutral flags. The only difference between this and other wars is that in this case one side, obliged perpetually to work and perpetually to starve, is not even fighting, it is only being fought—for the present.
In factory industry, however, it has long been evident that this war is being carried on, and there is no need for government circulars to explain to the “neutral” philanthropists that it is unwise to ford the river without first sounding its depth (that is, without first obtaining the permission of the authorities and the factory owners). As early as 1885, when there was as yet no noticeable socialist agitation amongst the workers, even in the central gubernias, where the workers are closer to the peasantry than are the workers in the capital, the industrial crisis caused the factory atmosphere to become so electrically charged that storms broke out continuously, now in one place and now in another. Under such circumstances, philanthropy is doomed to impotence from the outset and for that reason remains a casual and purely individual affair, without acquiring even a shadow of social significance.
We shall note yet one other peculiar feature in the attitude of the public towards famines. It may be said without exaggeration that until very recently the opinion prevailed that the whole of the Russian economic, and even political, system rested upon the mass of independent land owning peasant farmers. The extent to which this opinion had penetrated the minds of even the most advanced thinking people, least susceptible to the wiles of official flattery, was strikingly illustrated by Nikolai —on in his work published after the famine of 1891–92. The ruin of an enormous number of peasant farms seemed to every one to be so absurd, to be such an impossible leap into the void, that the necessity to extend the widest possible aid that would effectively “heal the wounds” was almost generally recognised. And again it was none other than Mr. Sipyagin who undertook the task of dispelling the last shreds of illusion. What does “Russia” rest upon, what do the landowners and the commercial and industrial classes live on, if not on the ruination and impoverishment of the people? To attempt to heal this “wound” otherwise than on paper—why, that would be a political crime!
Mr. Sipyagin will, without doubt, contribute to the dissemination and the confirmation of the truth that there neither is nor can be any other means of combating unemployment and crises, as well as the Asiatic-barbarian and cruel forms the expropriation of the small producers has assumed in Russia, than the class struggle of the revolutionary proletariat against the entire capitalist system. The rulers of the capitalist state are no more concerned about the vast numbers of famine and crisis victims than a locomotive is concerned about those whom it crushes in its path. Dead bodies stop the wheels, the locomotive halts, it may (with a too energetic driver) jump the rails, but, in any case, after a delay, long or short, it will continue on its way. We hear of death from starvation, and of the ruin of tens and hundreds of thousands of small farmers, but, at the same time, we hear accounts of the progress of agriculture in our country, of the acquisition of foreign markets by the Russian landlords, who have sent an expedition of Russian farmers to England; we hear of increased sales of improved implements and of the extension of cultivated grass land, etc. For the masters of Russian agriculture (as well as for all capitalist masters), intensified ruination and starvation are nothing more than a slight and temporary hitch, to which they pay almost no attention whatever, unless compelled by the famine-stricken. Everything goes on as usual—even speculation in the sale of lands belonging to the section of the proprietors which consists of the well-to-do peasantry.
Thus, Buguruslan Uyezd, Samara Gubernia, has been declared an “affected area”. This means that famine and the ruination of the mass of the peasantry have reached the highest point. But the misfortune of the masses does not hinder, but on the contrary appears to facilitate, the consolidation of the economic position of the bourgeois minority of the peasantry. In the September correspondence of Russkiye Vedomosti (No. 244) we read the following concerning the uyezd referred to:
“Buguruslan Uyezd, Samara Gubernia. The most important subject of discussion in this uyezd is the rapid rise in the price of land everywhere and the enormous speculation in land as a result. Only some fifteen or twenty years ago, excellent valley land could be bought at from ten to fifteen rubles per dessiatine. There were districts remote from the railway where, only three years ago, thirty-five rubles per dessiatine was regarded as a high price, and only on one occasion was as much as sixty rubles per dessiatine paid for first-rate land, with an excellent farm-house, situated near a market. Now, however, from fifty to sixty rubles per dessiatine is paid for the poorest land, while the price of good land has risen as high as eighty and even one hundred rubles per dessiatine. The speculation caused by this rise in land prices assumes two forms: First, the purchase of land for the purpose of immediate resale (there have been instances in which land was bought at forty rubles per dessiatine and resold within a year to the local peasants at fifty-five rubles). In such cases usually the land lords, not having either the time or the desire to bother with all the red tape and the formalities of selling the land to the peasants through the Peasant Bank, sell to the capitalist land speculators, who in their turn resell to the selfsame local peasants. In the second form, numerous land agents are engaged in foisting upon peasants from remote provinces (mostly from the Ukraine) all kinds of worthless land for which they obtain handsome commissions from the owners (from one to two rubles per dessiatine). From what has been said, it should be clear that the main victim of this land speculation is the peasant, whose land hunger serves as the basis for this unimaginable and, by economic causes unexplainable, jump in the price of land. Of course, the building of railways has had something to do with this, but not a great deal, for the principal buyer of land in our country remains the peasant, who by no means regards the railway as a factor of prime importance.”
These tenacious “enterprising muzhiks”, who so greedily invest their “savings” (and their plunder) in the purchase of land, will inevitably cause the ruin of even those poor peasants who have still managed to survive the present famine.
While bourgeois society resorts to land-purchasing schemes for the well-to-do peasant as a means of counteracting the ruination and starvation of the poor peasants, the search for new markets is resorted to as a means of counteracting crises and the glutting of the markets with the products of industry. The servile press (Novoye Vremya, No. 9188) waxes enthusiastic over the successes of the new trade with Persia and discusses glowingly the prospects of commerce with Central Asia and, particularly, with Manchuria. The iron magnates and other industrial leaders rub their hands in glee when they hear of proposals for further railway expansion. It has been decided to build the following major lines: St. Petersburg-Vyatka, Bologoye-Sedlets, Orenburg-Tashkent; the government has guaranteed a rail way loan of 37,000,000 rubles (to the Moscow-Kazan, Lodz, and South-Eastern Railway companies); and other lines are planned: Moscow-Kyshtym, Kamyshin-Astrakhan and Black Sea lines. The starving peasants and unemployed workers may console themselves with the thought that the state money (if the state can raise it) will not, of course, be spent “unproductively” on famine relief (see Sipyagin’s circular), but will be poured into the pockets of engineers and contractors, like those virtuosi in the art of embezzlement who year by year stole large sums during the construction of the Sormovo Dam, and who were only recently convicted (by way of exception) by the Moscow Assizes in Nizhni-Novgorod.
III. The Third Element[edit source]
The term “third element” or “third persons” was employed, if we are not mistaken, by the Vice-Governor of Samara, Mr. Kondoidi, in his speech at the opening of the Samara Gubernia Zemstvo Assembly in 1900, to designate persons “belonging neither to the administration nor to the representatives of the social-estates”. The increase in the numbers and in the influence of such persons serving in the Zemstvo as doctors, technicians, statisticians, agronomists, teachers, etc., has long since attracted the attention of our reactionaries, who have also described these hated “third persons” as the “Zemstvo bureaucracy”.
Generally speaking, it must be said that our reactionaries (including, of course, the entire top bureaucracy) reveal a fine political instinct. They are so well-experienced in combating oppositions, popular “revolts”, religious sects, rebellions, and revolutionaries, that they are always on the qui vive and understand far better than naive simpletons and “honest fogies” that the autocracy can never reconcile itself to self-reliance, honesty, independent convictions, and pride in real knowledge of any kind whatsoever. So thoroughly imbued are they with the spirit of subservience and red tape that prevails in the hierarchy of Russian officialdom that they have contempt for any one who is unlike Gogol’s Akaky Akakiyevich, or, to use a more contemporary simile, the Man in a Case.
Indeed, if men in public office are to be judged, not by the positions they hold, but by their knowledge and their merits, will it not logically and inevitably lead to the creation of freedom of public opinion and public control to judge such knowledge and such merits? Will it not undermine the privileges of estate and rank upon which alone the Russian autocracy rests? Let us but listen to the arguments Kondoidi advances to justify his displeasure:
“Representatives of the social-estates, sometimes without adequately proven grounds, give ear to the words of intellectuals, even if the latter are nothing more than salaried civil servants, merely because they talk about science or quote something they have learned from newspaper or magazine writers”. Well, well! Mere “salaried civil servants” daring to teach “representatives of the social—estates”! In passing, it should be said that the Zemstvo councillors, to whom the Vice-Governor referred, are members of a non-estate institution; but since every institution in our country is thoroughly saturated with the social-estate spirit, and since the Zemstvos, too, have lost the greater part of their non-estate character in consequence of the new regulations, it can be said, for the sake of brevity, that in Russia there are two governing “classes”: (1) the administration, and (2) the representatives of the social-estates. There is no room for a third element in a monarchy resting on the social-estates. And if unsubmissive economic development persistently undermines the foundations of the estates by the very growth of capitalism and gives rise to the need for “intellectuals”, who are becoming increasingly numerous, then it must be expected that the third element will strive to break out of its narrow confines.
“The dreams of those belonging, neither to the administration nor to the representatives of the social-estates in the Zemstvo,” said Mr. Kondoidi, “are pure fantasy, but if these dreams have as their basis political tendencies, they may be harmful.”
To admit the possibility of “political tendencies” is merely a diplomatic way of admitting their existence. The “dreams” referred to here are, if you will, all assumptions that for the doctor stem from the interests of the medical profession and for the statistician, from the interests of statistics, and that do not take into consideration the interests of the governing estates. In themselves, these dreams are fantasy, but, if you please, they foster political discontent.
We shall now relate the attempt of another administrator, the head of one of the central gubernias, to advance a different argument for displeasure with the third element. According to this official, the activities of the Zemstvo in the gubernia in his charge “are year by year departing from the principles upon which the Ordinance on Zemstvo Institutions is based”. According to these regulations the local inhabitants are empowered to manage affairs dealing with local needs and requirements. Owing to the indifference which the majority of landowners display towards the right granted them, “the Zemstvo Assemblies have become a mere formality and affairs are conducted by the Zemstvo Boards, the character of which leaves much to be desired”. This “has led to a big increase in the staffs of many Boards and to the practice of enlisting in the Zemstvo the services of experts— statisticians, agronomists, teachers, sanitary inspectors, etc., who, conscious of their educational, and sometimes intellectual, superiority over the members of the Zemstvo, have begun to display increasing independence, which, in particular, is achieved by convening all kinds of congresses in the gubernia and by setting up all kinds of councils in the Boards. As a result, the whole of the Zemstvo administration has fallen into the hands of persons who have nothing in common with the local population.” Although “there are among these persons many who are well-intentioned and are worthy of the utmost respect, they cannot regard their services as anything else than a means of livelihood, and they are interested in local needs and requirements only to the extent that their personal welfare depends upon these”.
In the opinion of the governor, “in Zemstvo affairs, the hired man cannot take the place of the property-owner”. This argument may be described as more cunning or more candid than the one mentioned above, depending on how one looks at it. It is more cunning because it makes no mention of political tendencies, but tries to base its reasoning exclusively on the interests of local needs and requirements. It is more candid because it openly contrasts the “hired man” to the property-owner. This is the time-honoured point of view of the Russian Kit Kitych, who, in hiring a “mere teacher”, is guided principally by the market price of this particular form of professional service. The real master of everything is the property-owner, proclaims the representative of the camp from which praises are constantly heard of Russia and its strong and absolutely independent authority which is above all the classes and which, thank God, is free from the domination of selfish interests over public life that prevails in Western countries corrupted by parliamentarianism. And since the property-owner is the master, he must be master also of medical, statistical, and educational “affairs our Jack-in-office does not hesitate to draw this conclusion, which is the open recognition of the political leadership of the propertied classes. What is more curious, he does not hesitate to admit that these “experts” are conscious of their educational, and sometimes intellectual, superiority over the members of the Zemstvo. Of course, what other measures can be taken against intellectual superiority than measures of severity?...
Recently, our reactionary press was presented with an excellent opportunity to repeat the demand for these measures of severity. The refusal of the intellectuals to be treated as ordinary hired men, as sellers of labour-power (rather than as citizens fulfilling definite public functions), has led from time to time to conflicts between the bigwigs of the Zemstvo Boards and the doctors who would resign in a body, or to conflicts with the technicians, etc. Recently the struggles between the Boards and the statisticians have assumed an outright epidemic character.
In the May issue of Iskra (No. 4), it was reported that the local authorities in Yaroslavl had long been dissatisfied with their statisticians and, after the events in St. Petersburg in March, made a thorough “cleansing” of the statistical bureau, with instructions to the manager “in the future to engage students with extreme caution and with an assurance of their reliability beyond the shadow of a doubt”. An article, entitled “Sedition in Vladimir-on-Klyazma” (Iskra for June, No. 5), described the general condition of the suspected statisticians, and the reasons for the dislike exhibited towards them by the Governor, the manufacturers, and the landlords. The dismissal of the Vladimir statisticians for having telegraphed a message of sympathy to Annensky (who had been assaulted on Kazan Square on March 4) led practically to the closing-down of the statistical bureau, and as statisticians from other towns refused to serve in a Zemstvo that was unable to protect the interests of its employees, the local gendarmerie was obliged to act as mediator between the dismissed statisticians and the governor. “A gendarme visited several of the statisticians at their homes and suggested to them that they submit a request for reinstatement”; but his mission was a complete failure. Finally, the August issue of Iskra (No. 7) reported an “incident in the Yekaterinoslav Zemstvo” in which “pasha” Rodzyanko (chairman of the Gubernia Zemstvo Board) had dismissed statisticians for failing to carry out the “order” to keep a diary, which action led to the resignation of all the other members of the bureau, as well as to letters of protest from the Kharkov statisticians (published in the same issue of Iskra). Complications then began to set in. The Kharkov pasha, Mr. Gordeyenko (also chairman of the gubernia Zemstvo Board), intervened and declared to the statisticians of “his” Zemstvo that he “will not tolerate within the walls of the Board any meetings of employees called to discuss questions that do not concern their duties”. The Kharkov statisticians had barely carried out their intention of demanding the dismissal of the spy in their midst (Antonovich), when the administration dismissed the manager of the statistical bureau, which again led to the resignation of all the statisticians.
The excitement caused by these events among the mass of Zemstvo statistical department employees can be judged by the letter written by the Vyatka statisticians, who sought to give a detailed reason for refusing to join the movement, for which they were justly described in Iskra (No. 9) as the “Vyatka strike-breakers”.
Iskra, of course, reported only some of the conflicts, by far not all, that took place; the legal press reported such conflicts also in the gubernias of St. Petersburg, Olonets, Nizhni-Novgorod, Taurida, and Samara (we include in the category of conflicts cases in which a number of statisticians are dismissed simultaneously, since such cases roused considerable discontent and ferment). The lengths to which the suspicious and shameless provincial authorities went can be judged from the following:
“S. M. Bleklov, manager of the Taurida Bureau, in his ’Report on the Investigation of Dnieper Uyezd During May and June 1901’, which he submitted to the Board, relates that, work in the uyezd was carried on under hitherto unprecedented conditions. Although the statisticians had the governor’s consent to the undertaking of their duties, were furnished with the necessary documents, and in accordance with the orders of the gubernia officials were entitled to the assistance of the local authorities, they were nonetheless surrounded with extreme suspicion on the part of the uyezd police, who dogged their steps and expressed their distrust of them in the rudest manner, so much so that, as one peasant related, a policeman rode behind the statisticians and questioned the peasants as to whether ’the statisticians were not carrying on the propaganda of harmful ideas against the state and the fatherland’. According to Mr. Bleklov, the statisticians ’encountered various obstacles and difficulties which not only hindered their work, but deeply outraged their sense of personal dignity.... Frequently, the statisticians found themselves in the position of persons charged with a crime, concerning whom secret investigations were being made, which were known, by the by, to everybody—persons against whom it was considered necessary to warn all and sundry. The unbearable moral depression which they frequently suffered can therefore be well understood.’"
Not a bad illustration for the record of the Zemstvo-versus-statistician conflicts and for the description of the surveillance over the “third element” in general!
Small wonder that the reactionary press rushed in to attack the new “rebels”. Moskovskiye Vedomosti published a thunderous leading article, entitled “The Strike of the Zemstvo Statisticians” (September 24, No. 263), and a special article by N. A. Znamensky, entitled “The Third Element” (October 10, No. 279). “The third element is rearing its head too high,” writes the paper; it is resorting to “systematic opposition and strikes”, in order to resist the attempts to introduce “necessary discipline in the service”. The blame for all this rests upon the Zemstvo liberals, who have demoralised the employees.
“There is not the slightest doubt that measures have been taken to introduce a degree of order in statistics and in the work of assessing by the more sober and sensible of the Zemstvo leaders, who refused to permit the Boards in their charge to be demoralised by anyone, even under the flag of liberal opposition. The opposition and the strikes should at last open their eyes to the character of the people they have to deal with in the persons of the intellectual proletarians, roaming as they did from one gubernia to another, engaging, who knows, in statistical investigations, or in educating the local adolescents in the Social-Democratic spirit.
“At all events, the ’Zemstvo-versus-statistician conflicts’ will bring home a useful lesson to the more sensible section of the Zemstvo people. We think they will now see clearly that in the person of the ’third element’ they have nurtured a viper in the bosom of the Zemstvo institutions.”
We, too, have no doubt that the howling and whining of the faithful watchdog of the autocracy (the appellation, as is known, which Katkov, who for so long succeeded in keeping Moskovskiye Vedomosti charged with his spirit, assumed for himself) will “open the eyes” of many who do not yet fully understand how irreconcilable autocracy is to the interests of social development, to the interests of the intelligentsia generally, and to the interests of every genuine public cause which does not stand for embezzling state funds and for treachery.
This little picture of the anti-“third element” crusade and the “Zemstvo-versus-statistician conflicts” should teach us Social-Democrats an important lesson. It must strengthen our faith in the might of the labour movement we lead; for we see that unrest in the foremost revolutionary class is spreading to other classes and other strata of society, that it has already led, not only to the rousing of the revolutionary spirit among the students to a degree hitherto unparalleled, but to the beginning of the awakening of the countryside, to greater self-confidence and readiness to struggle on the part of social groups that have until now (as groups) not been very responsive.
Public unrest is growing among the entire people in Russia, among all classes, and it is our duty as revolutionary Social-Democrats to exert every effort to take advantage of this development, in order to explain to the progressive working-class intellectuals what an ally they have in the peasants, in the students, and in the intellectuals generally, and to teach them how to take advantage of the flashes of social protest that break out, now in one place, now in another. We shall be able to assume our role of front-rank fighters for freedom only when the working class, led by a militant revolutionary party, while never for a moment forgetting its special condition in modern society and its specific historic task of liberating humanity from economic enslavement, will raise the banner in the struggle for freedom for the whole people and will rally to this banner all those of the most varied social strata whom the Sipyagins, Kondoidis, and the rest of the gang are so wilfully forcing into the ranks of the discontented.
What is necessary now in order to achieve this is that we infuse into our movement, not only the consistent revolutionary theory elaborated in the course of a century-long development, of European thought, but also the revolutionary energy and revolutionary experience bequeathed to us by our West-European and Russian precursors, and that we do not fall into slavish adoption of the opportunism in its various forms from which our Western comrades —who have not been affected by it to such an extent—are turning away, but which is such a strong hindrance to us in our march to victory.
The Russian proletariat, at the present time, is confront ed by the most difficult, but extremely gratifying, task: to crush the enemy, whom the long-suffering Russian intelligentsia has been unable to overcome, and to assume its place in the ranks of the international army of socialism.
IV. Two Speeches By Marshals of the Nobility[edit source]
“It is a sadly significant fact, entirely without precedent; and many unexampled misfortunes are held in store for Russia by such facts, which are possible only because of our far-advanced social demoralisation...." Thus wrote Moskovskiye Vedomosti, in the leading article of No. 268 (September 29), commenting on a speech delivered by M. A. Stakhovich, Marshal of the Nobility of Orel Gubernia, at a missionary congress held in that gubernia (the congress closed on September 24).... Well, if “social demoralisation” has affected the marshals of the nobility, the foremost men in the uyezd and the second in importance in the gubernia, where indeed must we seek for the end of this “pestilential, spiritual canker that has seized upon Russia”?
What is the issue? The issue is that this Mr. Stakhovich (the very gentleman who wished to find posts for the Orel nobility as liquor excise collectors; see “Casual Notes”, Zarya, No. 1 ) delivered a fiery speech in defence of freedom of conscience and was “tactless, not to say cynical, enough to suggest the following”:
“It is the duty of the missionary congress more than of any other body in Russia to proclaim the necessity of freedom of conscience, the necessity to abolish all penalties for seceding from the Orthodox Church and accepting another faith. And I would suggest that the Orel missionary congress openly express itself in this sense and present such a petition in suitable manner....
Of course, Moskovskiye Vedomosti was naive enough to picture Mr. Stakhovich as a Robespierre (“that oh, so gay M. A. Stakhovich, whom I have long known, a Robespierre!” wrote Mr. Suvorin in Novoye Vremya, and it was difficult to read his speech “for the defence” without smiling), as it was naive of Mr. Stakhovich to suggest to the priests that they petition “in suitable manner” for freedom of conscience. It was like suggesting to a congress of police officers that they petition for political freedom!
There is hardly need to add that “the convocation of the clergy, presided over by the highest priest”, rejected Mr. Stakhovich’s suggestion “both on account of the contents of the speech and of its non-accordance with the tasks of the local missionary congress”, after hearing the “weighty objections” of His Grace, the Bishop Nikanor of Orel; of N. I. Ivanovsky, Professor of the Kazan Academy of Divinity; of V. M. Skvortsov, editor and publisher of the periodical Missionerskoye Obozreniye; of V. A. Ternavtsev and M. A. Novosyolov, members of the university staff; and of several missionary priests. One might say: An alliance of “science” and the church!
Of course, Mr. Stakhovich interests us, not as a model of clear and consistent political thinking, but as a model of the most “oh, so gay” Russian nobleman, who is always ready to grab a slice of the state pie. And one can imagine to what extent “demoralisation” has penetrated Russian life generally and the life of our rural districts in particular as a result of police tyranny and the inquisitorial persecution of religious sects, if the very stones cry out, if even marshals of the nobility have begun to talk strongly about freedom of conscience.
The following instances from Mr. Stakhovich’s speech give a striking picture of the outrageous state of affairs that rouses even the most “oh, so gay” to indignation:
“Go to the library of the missionary brotherhood, and take down the handbook of laws. There you will read in Article 783, Volume II, Part I, that it is the duty of the rural chief of police, in addition to preventing duelling, lampooning, drunkenness, hunting in the close season, and men and women washing together in public baths, to keep observation over the arguments directed against the dogmas of the Orthodox Church and to prevent the ’seduction of the orthodox to other faiths and schisms!" Yes! There is actually such an article in the Act, and it imposes many more such functions upon the rural police chief besides those enumerated by the speaker. The majority of city dwellers would look upon this article as a curiosity, as, indeed, Mr. Stakhovich designated it; but for the peasant this curiosity conceals a bitterer Ernst, the bitter truth about the outrages committed by the lower ranks of the police, who are only too firmly convinced that God is very high up and the tsar very far off.
And now some concrete instances that we shall cite together with the official denial made by the President of the Council of the Orel Orthodox Brotherhood of Peter and Paul and of the Orel Diocesan Missionary Congress, Archpriest Peter Rozhdestvensky (Moskovskiye Vedomosti, No. 269, reprinted from Orlovsky Vestnik, No. 257):
“(a) In the speech [by Mr. Stakhovich] reference is made to a village in Trubchevsk Uyezd:
“’With the knowledge and consent of the priest and of the officials, the suspected Stundists were locked in the church, a table was brought, a white cloth was spread over it, an icon was upon it, and each was led separately to the table and commanded to kiss the icon.
“’“I refuse to kiss idols.”
“’“So! Flog him on the spot!”
“’The weaker ones returned to the orthodox faith after the first flogging. But there were some who were flogged four times.’
“According to the official data presented in the report of the Orel Orthodox Brotherhood of Peter and Paul, published as far back as 1896, and according to the verbal information given at the congress by Father D. Pereverzev, the described acts of violence inflicted by the orthodox population upon the sectarians of the village of Lyubets in Trubchevsk Uyezd took place following a decision adopted at the village meeting and somewhere in the village, but certainly not with the consent of the local priest and on no account in the church; this regret table incident took place eighteen or nineteen years ago, long before the Orel Diocesan Mission was even thought of.”
Commenting on the above, Moskovskiye Vedomosti states that Mr. Stakhovich cited only two facts in his speech. Perhaps so. But what facts they were! The refutation based on “official data” (of the rural police) and on the report of the Orthodox Brotherhood but emphasises the shocking character of the outrages which roused the indignation of even an “oh, so gay” nobleman. Whether the flogging took place “somewhere in the village” or in the church, six months or eighteen years ago, does not alter the case in the least (except perhaps in the one respect that, by general knowledge, the persecution of sects has become even more brutal of late and that the establishment of missions is directly related to this fact). As to the local priest’s having had nothing to do with the inquisitors in rustic garb —better had you kept quiet about it in the press, Reverend Father; you will only be a laughing-stock. Of course, the “local priest” did not give his “consent” to torture, a punishable act under the Criminal Code, any more than the Holy Inquisition punished its victims with its own hands. It handed them over to the secular authorities; nor did it ever shed blood, it only had its victims burned.
The second fact:
“(b) It was stated in the speech:
“’In that case the priest will never again be able to give the answer we heard him give here: “You say, Father, there were forty families and now there are only four. What has be come of the rest?”
“’“By the grace of God they have been banished to Transcaucasia and to Siberia.’"
“Actually, in the village of Glybochka, Trubchevsk Uyezd, which is the village concerned in this case, there were in 1898, according to the report of the Brotherhood, not forty Stundist families, but forty persons of both sexes, including twenty-one children. In that year only seven persons were banished to Transcaucasia by order of the regional court as a penalty for proselytising to the Stundist faith. As for the expression of the local priest, ’banished by the grace of God’, it was a casual remark dropped at a closed session of the congress during a free exchange of opinion among the delegates, the more so, since the priest in question was previously known to every one, and at the congress proved himself to be a most worthy missionary priest.”
Such a refutation is truly priceless! Casually dropped during a free exchange of opinion! This is precisely what makes it interesting, for we know only too well the real value of the official utterances of official persons. And if the priest, who uttered these words “straight from the heart”, is “a most worthy missionary priest”, the more significant are these words for that very reason. “By the grace of God, banished to Transcaucasia and to Siberia.” These magnificent words should become no less famous than Metropolitan Philaret’s defence of serfdom with the help of Holy Writ.
Since we have mentioned Philaret, it would be unfair not to mention the letter addressed by a “learned liberal” to His Grace Ambrosius, Archbishop of Kharkov, and published in the magazine Vera i Razum for 1901. The author of the letter signed himself: Jeronim Preobrazhensky, honorary citizen, formerly a member of the clergy. It was the editor who described him as the “learned [!] liberal”, no doubt because he was overawed by his “well of wisdom”. We shall cite only a few passages from the letter, which again reveals the fact that political thought and political protest penetrate by unseen ways into wider circles than we sometimes imagine.
“I am already an old man, nearly sixty. During my lifetime I have observed not a few departures from the fulfilment of church duties, and I must say conscientiously that in every case the clergy was to blame. As for ’the latest events’, I think we should fervently thank the clergy of our day for opening the eyes of many. Now, not only volost clerks, but young and old, educated and uneducated, and even those barely able to read will strive to read the writings of the great Russian author. People pay high price s to get his books (published abroad by Svobodnoye Slovo, and freely obtainable in all countries of the world except Russia); they read them, discuss them, and finally come to conclusions that are, of course, not favourable to the clergy. The people are now beginning to understand where truth and where falsehood lies; they see that the clergy say one thing and do another, and that often even their words are contradictory. Much that is true might be said, but unfortunately one cannot speak frankly with the clergy; they would immediately report to the authorities and demand punishment and execution.:.. But Christ did not attract converts by force and by executions, but by justice and love....
“... In concluding your speech, you write: ’We possess a great force for the struggle—that is the autocratic power of our most devout sovereigns.’ Again a subterfuge, and again we refuse to believe you. Although you, the enlightened clergy, strive to assure us that you ’imbibed loyalty to the autocrat with your mother’s milk’ (from the speech of the present vicar, delivered at the time of his consecration as bishop), we, the unenlightened, refuse to believe that a year-old infant (even a future bishop) could reason about the form of government and give preference to autocracy. After the abortive attempt of Patriarch Nikon to play in Russia the role of the Popes of Rome, who in Western countries combined within themselves spiritual and temporal power, our church, through its highest representatives, the metropolitans, has wholly and for ever subjected itself to the power of the sovereigns, who sometimes, as was the case with Peter the Great, despotically imposed their will upon the church. (The pressure Peter the Great brought to bear upon the clergy in the condemnation of Tsarevich Alexei.) In the nineteenth century, we see complete harmony between the secular and ecclesiastical authorities in Russia. In the stern epoch of Nicholas I, when, influenced by the great social movements in the West, social consciousness began to awaken in Russia and here, too, individual champions arose to fight against the outrageous enslavement of the common people, our church remained completely indifferent to the popular sufferings, and despite Christ’s great commandment of human brotherhood and brotherly love, not a single voice was raised among the clergy in defence of the dispossessed people, against the cruel tyranny of the landlords; and the only reason for this was that the government did not yet dare to lay its hand upon serfdom, the existence of which Philaret of Moscow openly sought to justify with biblical texts from the Old Testament. Then came the storm: Russia was defeated and politically degraded at Sevastopol. The defeat clearly exposed all the defects of our pre-Reform system, and before all else our young, humane sovereign (who owes the education of his mind and spirit to the poet Zhukovsky) broke the ancient chains of slavery; but, by the irony of fate, the text of the great act of February 19 was submitted for revision from the Christian point of view to the selfsame Philaret, who apparently hastened to change his views regarding serfdom to suit the spirit of our times. The epoch of the great reforms left its mark also upon our clergy, which, under Makarius (afterwards Metropolitan) carried on the fruitful work of reorganising our ecclesiastical institutions in which they hacked a window (even if a small one) into the world of light and publicity. The period of reaction, which set in after March 1, 1884, enabled an element of leadership corresponding to the manner of Pobedonostsev and Katkov to penetrate into the clergy; and while the progressive people of the country in the Zemstvos and in society are presenting petitions for the abolition of the survivals of corporal punishment, the church remains silent and utters not a word in condemnation of those who defend the rod—that atrocious instrument for the degradation of human beings created in the image of God. After all this, would it be unjust to suppose in the event of changes in the régime from above that our clergy, through its representatives, would praise a constitutional monarch just as it now lands the autocratic monarch? Why then the hypocrisy? Strength lies, not in the autocracy, but in the monarch. Peter I was also a heaven-sent autocrat, but the church to this day does not favour him, and Peter III was a similar autocrat who wanted to shear and educate our clergy—what a pity he was not allowed to reign for two or three years! And if the present reigning autocrat, Nicholas II, decided to express his kindly feelings for the famous Lev Nikolayevich, [Lev Tolstoi.—Tr.] where would you then run to hide with your snares, your fears, and your threats?
“In vain you quote texts of the prayers which the clergy sends up for the tsar; this jumble of words in an incomprehensible jargon convinces no one. We live under an autocracy: if ordered to do so, you will write prayers thrice as long and even more expressive”.
The second marshal’s speech, as far as we know, was not published in our press. A hectographed copy, sent to us by an unknown correspondent last August, bore the following pencilled inscription: “Speech delivered by an uyezd marshal of the nobility at a private meeting of marshals called to discuss student affairs." We give the speech in full:
“For lack of time I shall express my views on this meeting of marshals of the nobility in the form of theses:
“The cause of the present disorders is known approximately: They are called forth, first, by the disordered state of our entire govern mental system, by the oligarchic régime of the bureaucratic corporate body, i.e., by the dictatorship of the bureaucrats.
“This state of disorder in the bureaucratic governmental dictator ship reveals itself throughout the whole of Russian society, from top to bottom, in the form of general discontent that finds its outward expression in the general politicalism, a politicalism that is not temporary or superficial, but profound and chronic.
“This politicalism, the common disease of the whole of society, permeates all its manifestations, its functions and institutions, and for that reason necessarily the educational institutions, with their younger, more impressionable public, which is oppressed by the same régime of the bureaucratic dictatorship.
“It is recognised that the root evil of student disorders lies in the general disorganisation of the state and in the general disease resulting from this condition; however, in view of the spontaneous sentiments and of the necessity for checking the development of the local evil, the disorders cannot be ignored and efforts must be made at least from this side to diminish the frightfully destructive manifestations of the general evil, in the same way as, when the whole organism is diseased and is in need of prolonged and radical treatment it is necessary to take urgent measures to suppress local, acute, and destructive complications of the disease.
“In the secondary and higher educational establishments, the evil of the bureaucratic régime finds expression principally in the substitution of human (youthful) development and education by bureaucratic training, which is combined with the systematic suppression of human individuality and dignity.
“The distrust, indignation, and anger against the officials and the teachers roused among the youth by all these manifestations are being transferred from the high schools to the universities, where, unfortunately, the universities being what they are at present, the youth encounters the same evils and the same suppression of human individuality and dignity.
“In a word, for the youth, the universities are not temples of learning, but factories for converting the impersonal student masses into the bureaucratic commodity required by the state.
“This suppression of human individuality (in the process of converting the students into an impersonal, pliable mass), which reveals itself in the form of a systematic and chronic suppression and persecution of all personality and dignity, frequently in the form of brutal violence, lies at the base of all student disorders that have erupted for several decades and threaten to continue with greater intensity in the future, carrying off the best of Russia’s youth.
“All this we know—but what are we to do in the present situation? How can we help the present acute situation with all its bitterness, with all its misery and sorrow? Give up all efforts? Abandon our youth to the mercy of fate, to the bureaucrats, and to the police, without attempting to help them—wash our hands of the whole thing and walk off? This, to my mind, is the main issue, namely, what can we do to assuage the acute manifestation of this disease, now that we recognise its general character?
“Our meeting reminds me of a crowd of well-intentioned people who have entered a wild forest for the purpose of clearing it, and who stand in utter amazement at the enormity of the general task, instead of concentrating on any one special point.
“Professor K. T. has presented to us a striking general picture of the true state of affairs today in the universities and among the students, pointing Out the various harmful influences from the outside, not only political, but even police influences, upon the unstable students; but we knew all this before, more or less, albeit not so clearly as we know now.
“He suggested a radical change in the whole of the educational system and its substitution by a better system as the only possible measure to adopt, but the professor remarked that this would probably require considerable time; and if we bear in mind that every particular system in the Russian state, as in every other state, forms an organic part of the system as a whole, then perhaps the end of that time is not foreseeable.
“But what must we do now in order at least to assuage the unbearable pain caused by the disease at the present time? What palliative can we adopt? Even palliatives that temporarily soothe the patient are frequently recognised as necessary. This is a question we have not answered. Instead of a reply, we have heard vague, wavering opinions as regards the student youth in general, which, I might say, obscure the question even more. It is even difficult to recall those judgements, but I will endeavour to do so.
“Something was said about girl students: We gave them courses and lectures, and see how they thank us—by taking part in student disorders!
“Now, had we presented bouquets or costly ornaments to the fair sex, such a reproach would be conceivable; to organise lecture courses for women, however, is not a favour, but the satisfaction of a social need. Women’s lecture courses are nut a caprice, but as much a socially necessary educational institution as are the universities for the higher development of the youth of both sexes. That is why full social and comradely solidarity exists between the male and female educational institutions.
“This solidarity, to my view, likewise fully explains the fact that the unrest among the student youth has also spread among the students in women’s educational institutions. All the students are in a state of unrest, irrespective of attire, male or female.
“Someone else then spoke about the student unrest, saying that we must not be indulgent with the students, that their outrages must be halted by force. To this, in my opinion, the rational objection was made that even if the conduct of the students can be set down as outrageous, these are not fortuitous, but are chronic and deep-rooted and that therefore the resort to mere punitive measures, as past experience has shown, will prove unavailing. Personally, as I view the matter, it is highly questionable as to which side is responsible f or the greatest outrage of all the outrageous disorders that excite our educational institutions and are bringing them to their doom; I do not believe the government’s reports.
“This is the very point, that the other side is not listened to and cannot be listened to; it is gagged (the justice of my words, that in its reports the administration lies and that by its atrocious conduct it is chiefly responsible for the outrages, has not been fully confirmed).
“Reference was made to the outside influences of various revolutionary forces upon the student youth.
“Yes, those influences exist, hut too much significance is attached to them. Thus, the factory owners, in whose factories these influences are mainly felt, also throw the blame for everything upon them, arguing that, were it not for those influences, there would be quiet and contentment and the peace of God in their factories; they forget or ignore all the legal and illegal exploitation of the workers, which brings about their impoverishment and rouses amongst them discontent and finally leads to disorders. Were it not for this exploitation, the revolutionary elements working from the outside would be deprived of the many grounds and causes that enable them to penetrate so easily into factory affairs. All this, in my opinion, may also be said with respect to our educational institutions, which have been transformed from temples of learning into factories for the manufacture of bureaucratic material.
“The power of the small but purposive handful of young men and women, of whom the professor spoke, to hypnotise and incite crowds of young men and women, apparently not in the least so predisposed, to strikes and to disorders, lies in the general, instinctive consciousness of the oppression weighing over the whole of our student youth, and in the generally unhealthy state of mind that is created by this oppression among student youth at all levels. This is what happens in all factories.
“I recall also that something was said about not flattering the students, about not showing them sympathy during disorders, since expressions of sympathy merely incite them to fresh outbreaks to illustrate which argument a number of varying instances were cited. On this point I would say, first of all, that in view of the manifold con fusion and the diversity of occurrences during disorders, it is impossible to point to single cases as illustrative of all, since, for every such case, numerous others of a directly contradictory character can be found. One can only dwell on the general indications, which I shall here briefly undertake to do.
“As we all know, the students are far from being coddled; not only have they not been scented with incense (I do not speak of the forties), but they have never enjoyed any particular public sympathy. At the time of the disorders, the public was either indifferent to the students or even more than negative towards them, throwing the blame entirely upon them, without knowing (or desiring to know) the causes of the disorders (credence was given, without the slightest doubt as to their veracity, to the government reports, which were hostile to the students; apparently for the first time the public has begun to doubt them). To speak, therefore, of flattering the students is quite beside the mark.
“Failing to find support among the intelligentsia in general or among the professors and the university officials, the students finally began to seek sympathy among the various popular elements, and we know that they succeeded more or less in finding it; they have begun gradually to gain the sympathy of the popular crowds.
“To be convinced of this, one need only note the difference be tween the present attitude of the crowd and that displayed towards the students at the time of the Okhotny Ryad assaults. Herein lies the great evil: the evil is not that sympathy is expressed, but that this sympathy is one-sided, that it is assuming a demagogic tinge.
“The absence of sympathy and support of any kind on the part of the settled intelligentsia, and the distrust this gives rise to, throws our youth inevitably into the arms of demagogues and revolutionists; it becomes their tools and, again inevitably, demagogic elements begin more and more to develop among the student youth, drawing it away from peaceful, cultural development and from the existing order (if it can be called order) and driving it into the enemy camp.
“We ourselves are to blame if our youth has ceased to have confidence in us; we have done nothing to deserve its confidence.
“These, I think, are the main ideas that were expressed at this meeting; the others (considerable in number, too) are hardly worth recalling.
“I come now to the conclusion. In gathering here, our intention was to do something to calm the passions of the present day, to lighten the heavy burden of our youth today, not some time in the future, and we were defeated. Again the youth will be justified in saying and will say that today as in the past the peaceful, settled Russian intelligentsia neither can nor wishes to render it any assistance, to come to its defence, to understand it and to ease its hitter lot. The gulf between ourselves and the youth will become wider, and the youth will increasingly join up with the various demagogues whose hand is outstretched towards it.
“We were not defeated by the fact that the measure we proposed, a petition to the tsar, was not accepted; perhaps that measure was not a practical one (although in my opinion no attention was paid to it); we were defeated by the fact that we ourselves destroyed all possibility of applying any measure whatsoever to help our suffering youth; we have confessed our impotence, and once again we grope as before, in darkness.
“What remains for us to do?
“Wash our hands of the affair?
“This darkness constitutes the terrible and gloomy tragedy of Russian life.”
This speech requires no lengthy comment. It too, apparently, belongs to a still sufficiently “oh, so gay” Russian noble who; either for doctrinaire or for selfish motives, ex presses reverence for “peaceful, cultural development” of the “existing order” and waxes indignant with “revolutionists”, whom he confounds with “demagogues”. But this indignation, if examined closely, borders on the grumbling of an old man (old, not in age but in views) who perhaps is ready to recognise something good in the thing he is grumbling about. In speaking of the “existing order” he cannot refrain from remarking, “if it can be called order”. He smoulders with resentment against the disorder caused by the “dictatorship of the bureaucrats”, the “systematic and chronic persecution of all personality and dignity”; he cannot close his eyes to the fact that all the outrages are committed chiefly by the administration. He is sufficiently straightforward to confess his impotence and to recognise the indecency of “washing one’s hands” of the entire country’s misery. True, he is still frightened by the “one-sided” sympathy of the “crowd” towards the students. His aristocratically effeminated mind is haunted by the menace of “demagogy”, and perhaps even by the menace of socialism (let us repay candour with candour). But it would be absurd to attempt to test the views and sentiments of a marshal of the nobility who is fed up with the disgusting Russian bureaucracy by the touchstone of socialism. We have no need to be diplomatic either in regard to him or to anyone else; when we hear a Russian landlord, for example, storming against the illegal exploitation and the impoverishment of factory workers, we will not fail, incidentally, to say to him, Cast out the beam out of thine own eye, friend! We shall not for a moment conceal from him that we stand and will continue to stand for the irreconcilable class struggle against the “masters” of modern society. But a political alignment is determined, not only by ultimate aims, but also by immediate aims, not only by general views, but also by the pressure of direct practical necessity. Whoever clearly sees the contradiction between the “cultural development” of the country and the “oppressive regime of the bureaucratic dictatorship” must, sooner or later, be compelled by the very facts of life to come to the conclusion that this contradiction cannot be removed unless the autocracy is removed. Having come to this conclusion, he will unfailingly assist—grumble, but assist—the party that can rouse a menacing force against the autocracy—a force that will be menacing, not only in the eyes of the autocracy, but in the eyes of all. In order to become such a party, we repeat, Social-Democracy must purge itself of all opportunistic pollution, and under the banner of revolutionary theory, basing itself on the most revolutionary class, it must carry its agitation and organising activity among all classes of the population.
Taking our leave of the marshals of the nobility, we say, Au revoir, gentlemen, our allies of tomorrow!
- The first chapter of Lenin’s Review of Home Affairs was published as a separate pamphlet in two editions under the title of “Fighting the Famine-Stricken”. The first edition appeared as a separate re print from Zarya, No. 2-3; the second edition of 3,000 copies was printed at the Iskra illegal press in Kisbinev.
- The manner in which the Ministry decides this question can be judged from the example of Perm Gubernia. According to the latest press reports, this gubernia is still regarded as having “a good harvest”, notwithstanding the fact that (according to the report of the extraordinary gubernia Zemstvo congress held on October 10) the harvest this year is even worse than the extremely poor harvest of 1898. The yield this year represents only 58 per cent of the average, and in the Shadrinsk and Irbit uyezds is only 36 per cent and 34 per cent respectively. In 1898 the government granted the gubernia (in addition to local grants) 1,500,000 poods of grain and over 250,000 rubles in money. Now, however, the Zemstvos have no funds, they are restricted in their powers, the harvest is far worse than that of 1898, the price of grain began to rise as from July 1, the peasants have begun selling their cattle—and the government persists in declaring that the gubernia has “a good harvest”!! —Lenin
- The reference is to Arkady Pavlych Penochkin, a character in I. Turgenev’s story “The Village Elder”.
- See, for instance, the secret circular published in Iskra, No. 6, on the people banished from St. Petersburg, mostly writers, many of whom had never been involved in political affairs of any kind, let alone “labour” affairs. Nevertheless, they have been denied domicile, not only in university cities, but also in “factory localities”, while for some the prohibition relates only to factory localities. —Lenin
- See, for example, the correspondence in Iskra, Nos. 6 and 7, in which it is reported that public unrest and aid to the peasants in despite of the government had penetrated even into such God-guarded cities as Penza, Simferopol, Kursk, etc. —Lenin
- Lenin quotes from M. Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin’s The History of a Town.
- Priazovsky Krai (Azov Region)—a daily newspaper published in Rostov-on-Don from 1891 to 1916: it was a continuation of the newspaper Donskoye Polye (The Don Field) published froni 1889 to 1891.
- Another Instance of the manner in which the Governor of Vyatka combats exaggerations:
- Inventory”—a criminal list maintained by the gubernia authorities; it contained detailed information on convicts banished to Siberia.
- It is an old adage that any fool can govern under a state of siege. In Europe, it may be necessary to declare a state of siege from time to time, but in Russia a state of siege is always in force, supplemented, now here, now there, by provisional regulations. Are not all political affairs in Russia conducted according to provisional regulations? —Lenin
- The book referred to is Nik. —on’s (N. F. Danielson’s) Sketches on Our Post-Reform Social Economy, St. Petersburg, 1893.
- Russkiye Vedomosti (Russian Recorder)—a newspaper published in Moscow from 1863 onwards by liberal professors of Moscow Univer sity and Zemstvo personalities; it expressed the views of the liber al landlords and bourgeoisie. From 1905 onwards it was an organ of the Right Cadets; it was banned after the October Revolution, together with other counter-revolutionary newspapers.
- Assizes—an institution of the tsarist courts of justice established by the judicial reform of 1864; it examined special civil and crim inal cases and was a court of appeal for cases tried by the gubernia courts. Each assizes was established for several gubernias.
- Unfortunately, lack of space prevents us from dealing in de tail with this trial, which has demonstrated once again how the contractors and engineers run the show. For us Russians this is an old story that is perennially new. Engineer Alexandrov, in company with Shnakenburg, head of the Nizhni-Novgorod branch of the Kazan region of the Ministry of Railways, and the six contractors who were brought to trial, during a period of three years (1893-95), had “built” for themselves and others thousands of rubles by presenting to the Treasury accounts, certificates, vouchers, etc., etc., for work never done and for supplies never delivered. Not only the jobs, but even the contractors, were fictitious; an ordinary clerk signed as a contractor! The amounts this fraternity pocketed can be seen from the following: Engineer Alexandrov submitted bills (from the “contractors” who found themselves in the dock) for a sum of over 200,000 rubles; in these accounts, for example, the sum of 4,400 rubles appeared instead of the actually expended sum of 400 rubles. According to the evidence of one of the witnesses, Engineer Alexandrov squandered large sums of money either on women or on his immediate superiors, the railway engineers, spending as much as from fifty to eighty rubles for a single dinner.
Most interesting of all, however, is the manner in which this case was handled and how it ended. The chief of police, to whom a detective reported the matter, “refused to take it up” (I). “This is not our affair,” he said, “it is the business of the Ministry of Railways,” and the detective had to appeal to the public prosecutor. In the end the whole thing came to light because the thieves fell out: Alexandroy “refused to split” with one of the clerk-contractors. The case dragged on for six years. Some of the witnesses died in the meantime, and many of them managed to forget the most important points in the case. A material witness like Lokhtin, ex-chief of the Kazan region of the Ministry of Railways, could not be found (sic!): according to one version he was in Kazan, according to another in Yeniseisk on business! This is not a joke, reader—it is taken from the trial record.
The fact that others were implicated, in addition to those brought to trial, is apparent from the following: First, the commendable detective who brought the case to light is no longer in the service; he has purchased a tenement house, and is now living on the in come from it. Secondly, Engineer Makarov, chief of the Kazan Region of the Ministry of Railways (who during the construction of the Sormovo Dam acted as assistant chief), tried his utmost at the trial to shield Alexandrov. He even declared—literally!—that “ii was perfectly in order” for the dam to have been washed away in the spring of 1894. When he examined Alexandrov’s books, he found everything in perfect order: Alexandrov was distinguished for his experience, zeal, and accuracy!
The result: Alexandrov—one year’s confinement in a fortress; Shnakenburg—a severe reprimand (from which he was absolved by the Manifesto of 1896!). The rest were acquitted. The Treasury’s claim was disallowed. One can imagine how pleased the unlocated Lokhtins and the Makarovs still in the service must be. —Lenin
- The character referred to is Akaky Akakiyevich Bashmachkin, the hero of Gogol’s story “The Greatcoat”.
- The Man in a Case—the central character in Chekhov’s story of that name.
- The reference is to the “Ordinance on Guhernia and Uyezd Zemstvo Institutions”, approved by Alexander II on January 1,1864.
- Kit Kitych—the nickname given to Tit Titych (Kit is Russian for “whale” and Tit is the Russian form of Titus) in A.N.Ostrovsky’s comedy Shouldering Another’s Troubles.
- Moskovskiye Vedomosti, No. 263. —Lenin
- As these lines are written, news comes of fresh and greater unrest among the students, ’of meetings in Kiev, St. Petersburg, and other cities, of the formation of revolutionary students’ groups in Odessa, etc. Perhaps history will impose upon the students the role of initiators in the decisive struggle. Be that as it may, if victory is to he achieved in this struggle, the masses of the proletariat must be roused and we must accelerate our efforts to make them class-conscious, to inspire and organise them. —Lenin
- See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 383-413.—Ed.
- Moskovskiye Vedomosti, September 29, No. 268. I apologise to the reader for betraying such a predilection for Moskovskiye Vedomosti. But what can one do. In my opinion, it is the most interesting, the most consistent, and the most serviceable political newspaper in Russia. One can hardly term “political” literature, in the proper sense of the word, that which at best simply makes a selection of some interesting, though raw, facts and then offers sighs instead of “wisdom”. I do not say that such writing cannot be very useful, but it is not politics. Nor can the Novoye Vremya type of literature be described as political literature in the real sense of the word, notwithstanding (or rather because of) the fact that it is excessively political. It has no definite political programme and no convictions; it merely possesses the ability to adapt its tone to the moods of the moment, to cringe before the powers that be and carry out their every order, and to flirt with an illusion of public opinion. Moskovskiye Vedomosti, however, has its own line and does not fear (it has nothing to fear) to march ahead of the government, and to touch upon, at times very frankly, the most delicate subjects. It is a useful newspaper, and in dispensable helpmate in revolutionary agitation! —Lenin
- Missionershoge Obozreniye (Alissionary Review)—a monthly theo logical journal published from 1896 to 1898 in Kiev and from 1899 to 1916 in St. Petersburg. The journal fought against all non-Orthe dox Christians and was supported by the most reactionary clergy, notorious for their obscurantism and operating in close contact with the police.
- Orlovsky Vestnik (Orel Herald)—a daily newspaper, moderately liberal, with a social, political, and literary content; it was published in Orel from 1876 to 1918.
- Stundists—one of the religious sects persecuted in tsarist Russia.
- In his rejoinder to the official denial, Mr. Stakhovich wrote: “I do not know what the official report of the Brotherhood contains, but Father Pereverzev related the details of this incident at the congress and stated that the civil authorities knew of the decision of the village meeting [sic!!]. I asked him personally whether the priest knew and he answered, “Yes, he knew too.” Comment is superfluous. —Lenin
- Vera i Razum (Faith and Reason)—a fortnightly theological and philosophical journal published by the Kharkov Theological Semi nary from 1884 to 1916. The journal maintained an extreme reac tionary position and made violent attacks on the democratic movement and on progressive ideas.
- We take this opportunity to thank the correspondent who sent us the reprints from the magazine. Our ruling classes very often are not ashamed to expose themselves an naturel in prison, church, and similar special publications. It is high time we revolutionaries systematically utilised this “rich treasure-house” of political enlightenment. —Lenin
- Svobodnoye Slovo (Free Word)—a publishing house that issued abroad (in England and Switzerland) the works of Lev Tolstoi banned by the Russian censor and pamphlets against the oppression of non-Orthodox Christians by the tsarist government. From 1899 to 1901 the house published the journal Svobodnaya Mysl (Free Thought) and from 1901 to 1905 the journal Svobodnoye Slovo (Free Word).
- Prior to the Peasant Reform of 1861.—Tr.
- Okhotny Ryad—a street market in pre-revolutionary Moscow where mainly poultry and cooked foods were sold; the Okhotny Ryad traders were active participants in raids organised by the police, especially in breaking up student meetings and demonstrations.