Skip to main content

Full text of "Nihilism As It Is"

See other formats







Introduction. By Dr. R. Spence Watson . vii 

Stepniak’s Pamphlets— 

The Origin of the Book ... 3 

What is Wanted ? ( Translated by ) 13 

The Agitation Abroad { E. L. Voynich ) 52 

Letter sent by the Revolutionary Executive 
Committee to Alexander III. at his Acces¬ 
sion to the Throne . .81 

The Liberal Programme . 91 

The Claims of the Russian Liberals. By Felix 

VOLKHOYSKY . ... 103 


Many persons who are interested in the Russian 
question have explained to me how much they 
have felt the need of some authoritative informa¬ 
tion upon the true position of the different sections 
of the party of reform in Russia towards each 
other and towards the Russian Government, or, 
in other words, some explanation of what the 
aims and doctrines of the Russian Revolutionists, 
whether extremists or moderate men, really are. 
This book of Stepniak’s, to which Felix Volk- 
hovsky has furnished a chapter, and which also 
contains the full text of the famous letter of the 
Revolutionary Committee to Alexander III., and 
ample quotations from a memorandum of the 
Russian Liberals to Count Loris Melikoff, will 



supply this long-felt want. It appears opportunely 
at a time when extraordinary efforts are being made, 
by concealing the facts and circulating false informa¬ 
tion, to induce free peoples to share the methods of 
that darkest of despotisms, and to become accom¬ 
plices in its tyrannical treatment of those of its 
subjects who venture to think for themselves on 
political or religious matters. 

There are already standard works from which 
English-speaking people can learn much about the 
Russian Revolutionary Party as it strikes writers 
who, like George Kennan or Edmund Noble, have 
carefully investigated the facts. But it is always 
open to the apologists of the Russian Government 
to say that these gentlemen are outsiders who 
have only been shown what it was considered 
desirable for them to see, and that the Russian 
Revolutionist speaks with one voice to his foreign 
friend and another to his allies at home. 

But, in addition to such invaluable works as I 
have mentioned, we have also access to the official 
documents of the Revolutionary Party which have 
been published, time after time, in the face of the 



world, and some of which are, as I have already 
pointed out, given in extenso in this publication. 
Indeed its special value is that it introduces the 
reader, so to speak, to the inner life of the 
so-called, and mis-called, Nihilists. Stepniak’s 
chapters are reprints of pamphlets which were 
written by him in Russian for Russian readers 
only ; and they show, therefore, how these men 
converse with each other, and what the doctrines 
are which they are preaching from the shelter 
they have found in England. They show also 
that the fundamental objects of all Russian Revo¬ 
lutionists (however they may call themselves or 
be called by others) are the same; that their 
struggle is for freedom, national and personal; and 
they forcibly urge the necessity of laying aside all 
matters which are not absolutely essential, and of 
working closely and unitedly together for those 
fundamental objects which all alike hold dear. 

No one can peruse this book with an open and 
candid mind without coming to the conclusion that 
the aims and objects of the Russian Revolutionary 
Party are such as he can cordially sympathise with, 


even should he be unable to accept some ol the 
views held as to the means employed by the more 
extreme party in the great revolutionary struggle. 
He will not forget that he is reading of a country 
where none of the ordinary safeguards of justice— 
freedom of speech, liberty of the press, or popular 
representation,—exist; but where, on the contrary, 
free thought and free speech are criminal ; and 
where the Government is all-powerful, and uses 
its power tyrannically. 

I must not speak about the writers themselves. 
They have become well known amongst us. They 
are members of that little band of Russian exiles 
who have nobly handed down the noble traditions 
of those great reformers who found refuge on our 
shores in bygone days. But their works, and this 
work, speak for them. I hope that this book will 
be widely read and carefully considered. It puts 
the position of the Russian opposition clearly and 
simply before the reader, and it replies convincingly 
to the wild and ridiculous mis-statements which the 
apologists of the Russian Government are constantly 
making. It is of much value. Everything must 



be valuable which tends to give a clearer view of 
one of the greatest struggles for progress and free¬ 
dom which Europe has seen. Wider knowledge can 
but increase the sympathy of those who, themselves 
free, understand the grandeur of that struggle, the 
triumph of which may be delayed, but cannot be 
ultimately defeated. 

Robert Spence Watson. 



The main part of the volume, for which I have to 
ask the indulgence of the English readers, consists of 
two pamphlets of mine written originally in Russian 
and for the Russians, and which I never expected to 
be known outside the dominions of the Tzar. But 
certain attacks upon us some time ago gave me the 
idea that it might be useful to bring them before the 
general public. 

There are two different and independent organisa¬ 
tions working nowadays in this country in their 
different ways to promote the cause of Russian 
liberty. The one is the well-known Society of 
Friends of Russian Freedom, founded in 1890 by 
Dr. Spence Watson, and now having its ramifica¬ 
tions all over the country. It is composed entirely 
of English men and women, and its activity is 
confined to foreign countries, its object being the 
winning over of the public opinion of the civilised 
world to the interests of Russian freedom. The other 
society is hardly known to the English, though in 



Russia it begins to be known, and rather widely. 
It is the Russian Free Press Fund—a small pub¬ 
lishing company, composed of Russians, supported 
by Russians, and intended exclusively for supplying 
the subjects of the Tzar with literature tabooed 
within the boundaries of Russia. 

Both societies have achieved, in their different 
lines, a success we can fairly term unprecedented, 
which clearly shows that both were timely and have 
answered to an actual need ; and it is difficult to say 
which of the two have proved a sorer thorn in the 
flesh of the Russian Government. 

Those who would like to perpetuate the present 
ignominious regime, in our country could not remain 
indifferent to the fact that the public opinion of the 
civilised world is gradually passing over to the side 
of their opponents. Still less could they overlook 
the effects of a direct appeal to the Russian people 
themselves, and the fermentations resulting from 
the spread of scores of thousands of our pamphlets 
and books among the thinking men and women of 
our country. 

Anyhow, both societies have obtained their full 
share of recognition in the form of calumnies and 
insinuations on the part of the host of scurrilous 
ineptities whom alone the Russian Government was 
able to muster as its champions, both in the Russian 
and the foreign press. 



Their efforts have done us an excellent service in 
Russia by making our work known in the spheres 
which it would take us long to reach with our 
clandestine publications. In this country we are in 
no need of this sort of trumpeting-up and underhand 
advertisement, because we can reach openly all 
those who may be reached. Yet we must not be 
ungrateful. These gentlemen (and ladies) have 
surely done the little they could in strengthening 
our position, by the display of utter shallowness, 
mendacity, and evident bad faith of their charges. 

To utter against Dr. Spence Watson, Mr. Byles, 
Mr. Allanson Picton, Miss Hesba Stretton, and a score 
of men and women of the same standing, the accusa¬ 
tion of furnishing money for the dynamite outrages 
in Russia (which, by the way, have not been heard 
of for I do not know how many years), was pro¬ 
claiming themselves at the outset calumniators, 
deserving nothing but contempt and ridicule. All 
the men and women who took the lead in the pro- 
Russian movement in England are known to their 
countrymen for many years, and it is not for an 
obscure hireling of the Russian police to throw 
upon them suspicion of participation in dynamite 

Our detractors have brains enough to understand 
that. Thus a mysterious Mr. “ Ivanoff,” who some 
time ago made himself conspicuous by a scurrilous 



article in the New Review, says explicitly that the 
flagrant breach of international obligations on the 
part of Dr. Spence Watson and the other members 
of the society, must be an unconscious one due to the 
diabolical machinations of the “nihilists,” with whom 
they had the imprudence of associating. The same 
is the tenor of Mme. Novikoff’s complaint. But 
the proceedings of the society are public; the hon. 
treasurer, into whose hands all the funds converge, 
gives, in the Free Russia, detailed accounts both of 
the receipts and of the expenditure. 

Every penny is accounted for, and improper use 
of money is materially impossible, machinations 
or no machinations. Mme. Novikoff and her 
satellites read Free Russia and cannot possibly 
be ignorant of the existence of these accounts, and 
their specific charge cannot possibly be uttered in 
good faith. They not merely say what is false, but 
they are fully aware that they are doing so. 

But these ladies and gentlemen have a second 
line of defence—their citadel to which they would 
repair after having been ignominiously defeated in 
the first encounter. 

Granted that the Society of F. R. F. does not give 
any material support to the so-called nihilists who 
are fighting the Russian autocracy upon the Russian 
soil; granted that all insinuations to this effect are 
lies and calumnies, still they would say the fact 



remains that these nihilists are anarchists of Rava- 
chol's type, and it is utterly inconsistent and im¬ 
proper on the part of the English to give moral 
support and encouragement to representatives of the 
same party which they prosecute on their own soil. 

For all those who have taken the trouble of in¬ 
forming themselves upon the real views and attitude 
of the Russian revolutionary party these accusations 
will appear as despicable as the former one. I, for my 
part, do not believe in their sincerity. The Russian 
Government and the Russian police—those at least 
who are able to read and write—must know full 
well by this time what are the real demands of the 
so-called Russian nihilists. 

But the mass of the English public, absorbed 
by their own affairs, cannot have a very accurate 
knowledge of what is going on in a foreign country 
thousands of miles away. The champions of Russian 
autocracy, who have never been overscrupulous, did 
not scruple to avail themselves of this ignorance and 
try their best to mislead the public opinion upon this 

Nothing can be easier than to confound their alle¬ 
gations by quoting a few lines from the authentic 
and authoritative documents which may be called 
the official exposition of the views and aspirations 
of the Russian revolutionary party. We have done 
it during the last campaign against us in the place 


where these charges have been uttered, and I do 
not think that those who have compared the attack 
and the reply will trouble themselves any more with 
the question. I may say that, without infringing 
the rules of modesty, there is surely no glory in 
getting the better of an opponent like Ivanoff. 

But I know well that disposing of one Ivanoff 
does not mean at all ending the controversy. At 
the first favourable opportunity some new incar¬ 
nation of Mme. Novikoff will come forward as if 
nothing had happened, and will repeat the very 
same exploded charges and calumnies and insinu¬ 

With the progress of our work here we may 
fairly anticipate that these attacks will get more 
virulent and more numerous. It occurred to me, 
therefore, that it might be good to publish for 
the use of our friends and well-wishers a sort of 
reference book which would give in a concise form 
the materials necessary for establishing beyond 
doubt or controversy the real nature, aims, and 
position of the Russian revolutionists. I owe to 
our opponents the suggestion how best to do it. 

To prove that the programme we put forward 
before the English is only a mask hiding the face 
of bloodthirsty partisans of universal destruction, 
Mr. Ivanoff quotes, or rather misquotes, a pamphlet 
of mine, entitled “ What we want, and the beginning 



of the end,” which he declares to be an appeal to 
the worst instincts of the human race. 

Such a challenge would excuse and justify in any 
case my bringing that little thing of mine to public 
notice. Besides, it seems to me that nothing could 
serve better my double purpose, apologetical on one 
hand and descriptive on the other, than the publica¬ 
tion in English of this pamphlet of mine. When 
somebody comes to accuse you of having treacher¬ 
ously deceived your friend in company with a third 
person, some member of your own family, the best 
plan is to open your drawers and hand over to this 
friend your private correspondence with that third 
person. That is precisely what I am doing in 
publishing in English this Russian pamphlet. But 
it will have, I hope, more than a polemical interest 
for an intelligent reader. Being written for Russians, 
and about Russian affairs and parties, it will of 
necessity be sometimes obscure for the English. 
But with some attention the reader will be able 
to get from it a very clear idea of the physiognomy 
of our party, of its interior divisions, of the questions 
which come to the front just now, and also of the 
special attitude of one little body of Russian revolu¬ 
tionists represented by the Russian Free Press Fund, 
which has been denounced to them with such in¬ 
cautious vehemence. 

To the challenged pamphlet I have joined another : 



“ The Foreign Agitation.” It explains to our Rus¬ 
sian friends and sympathisers the aims, the character, 
and possible influence of the Society of F. R. F. It 
may be of interest for the English on its own 
account, and it will at the same time serve as 
a reply to one of the favourite charges of Mme. 
NovikofTs set : that of our speculating upon the 
national hostility of the English toward Russia. 

To these pamphlets I have added some docu¬ 
mentary evidences: the famous Letter of the Revo¬ 
lutionary Committee to the Tzar Alexander III., 
some extracts from the collective memorandum of 
the Russian Liberals to Alexander II. (for which 
I am indebted to the Century Magazine and Mr. 
George Kennan). Felix Volkhovsky kindly con¬ 
tributed to this book a summing up of the official 
memoranda of our Zemstvos. Put together, these 
unimpeachable and now historical documents will 
show to the impartial reader that the aspirations 
of the so-called nihilist are shared by the best and 
most representative and authoritative spokesmen of 
the Russian Society. 

I hope the volume will be found timely just now, 
when the anarchist outrages on the Continent have 
caused so much confusion, misconception, and mis¬ 



Among all nations the transition from absolutism to 
modern representative government has been accom¬ 
panied by convulsive and painful struggles. But for 
no people, perhaps, has the struggle been so hard a 
one as for us Russians. 

Entering so late into the combat for our own and 
the people’s rights, we have found ourselves face to 
face with a government which could employ in its 
own defence all the modern improvements in the 
mechanism of state and all the marvels of contem¬ 
porary technical science, bringing the size, arming, 
and power of concentration of the army, as also the 
art of getting out of financial difficulties, to a degree 
of perfection of which the upholders of former tyran¬ 
nies could not even dream. 

Another result of our coming so late in history is 
that the Russian opposition, which has to deal with 
so powerful an enemy, suffers from internal divisions 
to an extent which was quite unknown to our prede¬ 
cessors in revolutionary work. 




We are far from holding the rather widespread 
opinion that the more unanimity of views and beliefs 
there be in any party, the nearer is that party to an 
ideal condition. No one formula can satisfy all the 
various characters, temperaments, and intellectual 
types among the whole mass of people who are 
capable of being fired with a given idea. Moreover, 
where there is real earnestness for a cause, all these 
differences must necessarily show themselves even 
in the manner of formulating general propositions, 
and especially in matters relating to the application 
of such propositions in life. Therefore differences 
of opinion, within certain limits, are a sign of the 
intensity of a party’s life, and work in common only 
gains by the existence of differentiated, individualised 

Our misfortune is that to these natural differences 
of our own we add foreign and artificial differences, 
which are the result of our equivocal position among 
the peoples of Europe. While Russia as a whole 
lives in the eighteenth century of European history, 
and her peasantry, as it were, in the sixteenth—the 
age of the Reformation—the Russian educated class 
stand side by side with the same classes in western 
Europe; indeed, on the whole, it is even more pro¬ 
gressive and receptive than they. We pick up in 
scraps the latest developments of science, and there 
is no movement of advanced European thought 



which does not at once reproduce itself among us. 
Thus the strife of ideas and the differentiation which 
in other nations have been spread over a whole series 
of generations, are concentrated with us into one 
generation, and we suffer undeserved punishment 
both for being too progressive and for being too 
much behind the age. Nothing but the widest 
mutual tolerance could enable us to avoid the 
practical consequences of so unfortunate a position. 
But we are not, and never have been, remarkable 
for tolerance. It is, therefore, not surprising that 
the Russian opposition presents a kaleidoscope of 
parties, which, while working, in essentials, for the 
same cause, have contrived to become so much 
divided as to have lost all internal cohesion, and in 
many cases all capacity—even all desire—to under¬ 
stand one another. 

The movement of the years 1873 and 1874, 1 from 
which the present movement started, was by no 
means the foundationless thing foisted on us from 
outside which it may appear to superficial observers. 
It was a native Russian movement, called into ex¬ 
istence by dissatisfaction with the so-called emanci¬ 
pation of the peasants—a reform whose insufficiency 
had at that time become evident, and not to the 
young generation alone. 

1 The great pilgrimage of thousands of the educated youth of 
both sexes “among the peasants” as missionaries of Socialism. 


This movement was in reality directed against 
our political system, for only a new, free state could 
successfully take up and solve the agrarian question. 
But the young generation could not formulate its 
real desires, and the educated class could not under¬ 
stand the young generation. The young extremists 
were left to depend upon their own powers, and this 
fact condemned the movement beforehand to com¬ 
plete and fruitless destruction. 

The real movement began five years later, when 
two-thirds of its supporters had perished, and when 
the strength of the first impulse was spent. 

Since then there have been many changes. The 
revolution is no longer the affair of young people. 
But the question of how to unite the scattered 
members of Russian opposition remains, as it was 
then, the question of the day. We may even say 
that it is now more pressing than ever before. In 
any case the discussions and writings on this 
favourite theme of ours are now more serious and 
better suited to the real needs of the case than 

The revolutionary cycle which began with that 
movement of the young generation as a mass, of 
which we have spoken, is evidently ended. Some¬ 
thing new will now begin, but what no one can say 
beforehand. Only one thing is certain—that the 
coming movement will be wider than the former 



one was. It has become clear to every one that 
revolutionists by speciality —“ Nihilists,” as they are 
called in western Europe—cannot alone overthrow 
the autocracy, however great may be their energy 
and heroism. 

The revolution must be widened. But how? To 
whom must we look for support for it ? This is 
the question about which programmes are drawn 
up, over which parties split into fractions, and 
newspapers come into and pass out of existence. 

Russia is a land of peasants. And yet, so far as 
we know, there is not at this moment a single 
section among the Russian revolutionists which 
seriously loolcs to the pejisantryTor. support—that is, 
which really works_to obtain partisans among them. 
The revolutionary party, having found the hopes 
it had built upon the peasants so illusive eighteen 
years ago, evidently fears to appeal to them again. 
But during this long period the peasants have had 
time to undergo a momentous change. Twenty 
years of change and mental development, of district 
commanders, sectarianism, famine, want of land, 
and robbery, have not passed without leaving traces. 

A new attempt to “ go among the people,” though, 
of course, not in the old way and not with the old 
message, but with a practical and comprehensible 
plan of a transfer of the land by the state to the 
people, and of peasant autonomy—such an attempt 


would have, we believe, a good chance to meet with 
a quite other response and to give quite other results 
from those obtained by the attempts of the seventies. 

But such a party does not yet exist, though it will 
probably spring up in the natural course of the 
movement’s growth, or at the first widespread signs 
of upheaval among the people. Up till now our 
movement is exclusively an urban one, depending 
upon certain elements of the town population— 
partly on the working-classes, but chiefly upon 
the educated class in general. 

Our revolutionary party splits up into two divisions 
in accordance with this fact. A minority, the Russian 
Social Democrats, or, to speak more accurately, The 
Society for the Emancipation of Labour (as we are 
all Social Democrats), who have grouped themselves 
round the well-known Geneva periodical, see only 
one possible support for the revolution—the factory 
workmen, the proletariat now growing up in Russia. 

That our town workmen present a most favourable 
soil in which to implant political and social ideas 
every one will agree who knows anything of that 
very promising class. Any serious work among 
them results in valuable additions to our revolu¬ 
tionary strength. Town workmen are more re¬ 
sponsive and easier to approach than peasants, and 
possess the enormous advantage that their every¬ 
day life, containing as it does more intellectual and 



exciting elements than that of the peasants, does 
not choke the seed cast among them, but strengthens 
and encourages its growth. We know of cases in 
which a propagandist, coming to a factory abso¬ 
lutely unknown to him, unexpectedly meets with 
“ a treasure trove ” of revolutionist workmen, who 
prove to be either disciples or disciples of disciples 
of some other propagandist who worked there six 
or eight years before. Several such cases have 
become publicly known, thanks to disturbances 
among the workmen and the trials resulting there¬ 
from. The peasant class, unfortunately, does not 
show such examples. 

We sympathise deeply with the attempt of which 
we have spoken, to increase the movement among 
the town workmen. But to see in them the chief 
lever by means of which the autocracy is to be over¬ 
thrown, is to lose sight, while looking at theories, of 
the real state of things in Russia. 

Whether the factory workmen be one million only, 
as the official statistics declare, or three, or even 
four millions, as the Social Democrat says, the case 
remains the same. 

Undoubtedly the numerical strength of the town 
working class is not great, and, considering how 
little education that class possesses, how scattered 
it is, and how utterly lacking in any conscious class¬ 
feeling, it is impossible to speak seriously, at the 


present time, of its playing an independent political 
part; and, above all, of its leading the movement. 
At present this class can be nothing more than a 
help to the revolutionary movement. The principal 
support, without any question, is the educated class. 

This view is held, if not in words, at least in 
practice, by the majority of Russian revolutionists, 
from the old “ Narodnaya Volia ” to its latest 
adherents ; and on this point we fully agree with 

After the peasantry, the educated class is certainly 
the most powerful in the State. It commands the 
Tzar’s army and fleet, and might, with one successful 
military plot, hew down the autocracy at its very 
root. . 

The educated class has given us Jeliabov, Kibal¬ 
chich, Perovskaya, and many others, and will always 
give successors to them and continuers of their work, 
because it is the heart of the nation, which feels 
more intensely than any other class the nation’s 
wrongs and sufferings, and more passionately believes 
in its bright and glorious future. Moreover, this 
same educated class occupies all the high posts, and 
fulfils all the most important social functions. It 
manages the press, sits in the Zemstvos and 
municipal councils, and holds the university pro¬ 

The educated class is an enormous power in the 


land. Moreover, this class is thoroughly permeated 
with discontent, and, above all, with conscious dis¬ 
content, as it fully understands what is the cause 
of its troubles. If all those who at heart loathe the 
autocracy could make up their minds to attack it 
openly, it could not stand for five months. 

But how is this powerful class to be persuaded to 
take a more active part in the struggle for the libera¬ 
tion of Russia ? How are we to clear away the linger¬ 
ing distrust still somewhat felt towards the party 
which has taken upon itself the initiative in that 
struggle ? We say “ somewhat,” because, since the 
time when the “ Narodnaya Volia ” raised the banner 
of political strife, the position has materially changed. 
The attitude of the general mass of educated Russian 
society towards the revolutionary movement is at 
the present time very different from that of fifteen 
years ago. But for all that, the movement is still 
far from having spread throughout all those strata 
of society on whose support it ought to reckon. And 
now there is arising among Russian revolutionists a 
desire to work towards a common understanding. 

This desire has found expression in a whole series 
of publications produced abroad. But we will speak 
of only one—the Geneva paper Svobodnaya Rossiya, 
in which this tendency is shown in its extremest and 
most characteristic form. 

Starting from the hypothesis (in our opinion a 


mistaken one) that our Liberals shrink from the 
socialism of the revolutionary party, some of our 
comrades in this paper propose to “temporarily” 
entirely conceal their socialism, and, also “ tempo¬ 
rarily,” to become Liberals. 

The Geneva organ of this group has done good 
.service in that it, first of all the papers issued by 
refugees, put forward certain useful and elementary 
truths, which, however, were regarded by some 
people as dreadful heresy. For this step it deserves, 
if not the thanks of posterity, at least the indulgence 
of its contemporaries. Nevertheless, we cannot re¬ 
frain from saying that its proposed plan of pruning 
ourselves down and hiding ourselves away is one 
which cannot bear even the mildest criticism, either 
from the theoretical or from the practical point of 

Socialism is the greatest moral force at work in 
modern society, and to hide its light under a bushel 
or in any way to weaken its power in Russia would 
be to wilfully destroy the very thing that is the life 
and soul of our movement. 

A struggle such as ours depends entirely upon 
self-sacrifice, upon the capacity of separate indi¬ 
viduals to give up their life, their liberty, everything 
for the happiness of their country. The deeper, 
wider, and more universal the idea of this potential 
happiness, the sooner will awake and the louder will 



speak in human hearts the mighty social instinct. 
No man will immolate himself for the sake of, say, 
an extension of local autonomy or any other such 
reform, however beneficial. But thousands of people 
have willingly died when the belief grew up in them 
that the happiness of humanity would be bought by 
their death. 

A hundred, even fifty, years ago, the idea of 
political liberty had power to arouse this faith in 
masses of men, and our political crisis would have 
passed over more quickly and more easily had it 
happened then. But that time is gone, and cannot 
be recalled. The formulae of political liberty have 
lost their magical power over men’s hearts. That 
power is now possessed by socialism, and, we believe, 
is possessed by it in as much greater degree as its 
doctrine is completer, more scientific, and more con¬ 
crete than the political metaphysics of the last cen¬ 
tury. Even from an objective point of view, apart 
from the question of liking or disliking socialism, all 
opponents of the Russian autocracy ought to desire 
the widest possible spread of socialism in Russia, for 
the imperial absolutism has no more dangerous 

The very energy of the revolutionary struggle 
evidently depends upon the attitude of the Russian 
educated class towards socialism, and we attribute 
the present comparative lull to the dying away of 


the fresh influx of socialist ideas. Instead of the 
wide, inspiring study of great social questions, on 
which the former revolutionary generation grew up, 
the young people of the present day have perforce to 
content themselves with turning over and piecing 
together old, musty “programmes.” 

Undoubtedly this blank will be filled up, and, we 
hope, soon. Undoubtedly the rapid development of 
socialism in the West will sooner or later be reflected 
in Russia; every new wave of socialism flings drops 
of the living water across the frontier into Russia, 
causing there a ferment, a lifting up of spirit, a 
growth of social feeling, which cannot fail to result 
in a strengthening of the political revolt. 

But we must meet this natural influence half-way, 
consciously introducing into our life that which is 
being brought into it by the natural course of events. 

There can be no question of any putting aside of 
socialist work for the sake of any connections what¬ 
ever. Before talking of union, the party must take 
care to become a power with which it will be worth 
while to unite. And if we spent less time upon 
discussions about unity and uniting, and worked at 
that which is under our hands, each of us in his 
own sphere, according to his own tendencies, capaci¬ 
ties, and even accidental position, our powers would 
be far greater than they are now ; we should have 
friends and allies everywhere, and the beginning of 



the end would be nearer by many years than it seems 
to be now. 

But whether it be in consequence of our intoler¬ 
ance, which renders differences of opinion insuffer¬ 
able to us, or whether in consequence of our passion 
for revolutionary dogmatism, our “cause” still 
continues to be a mere cloud of words cast upon 
the wind. In one town you will find two philoso¬ 
phers who agree with each other on every point 
except some fifth wheel in the revolutionary cart. 
One would have thought that when once they are 
convinced that their difference is one which cannot 
be got over, nothing would be simpler than for them 
to peacefully part, and either take up practical work 
for themselves, or gird up their loins and go each 
his own way among indifferent and blinded men, 
who have never heard the new word, and prepare 
the soil by winning over new adherents. But the 
philosophers prefer to go to each other’s houses and 
spend days, weeks, months in fruitless discussions 
about the everlasting fifth wheel, until the noise 
they make attracts the police, who swoop down and 
march them off to the Yakuts to finish their argu¬ 
ment in the open air. And if the two philosophers 
have collected round themselves each a little band 
of friends, the friends then continue to visit each 
other, to carry on the same discussions and repeat 
the same commonplaces, with the inevitable “draw- 



ing up of general programmes ” and “ plans of 
unification,” and all the customary revolutionary 
mill-round, until the police swoop down again to 
wind up the business this time with a general raid. 

Three-fourths of our available and precious forces 
perish in this way, and yet it is surely easy to see 
that a change of tactics would be advantageous, 
not only to the general cause, but even to the 
beloved fifth wheel itself. Not from frivolity or 
shallowness, but just from passionate devotion to 
the cause and desire to serve it in any way, Rus¬ 
sians more than any other race follow successful 
examples. There is, perhaps, no path upon which 
they would not enter, however difficult, however 
terrible it might be, no action from which they 
would shrink, if they could only see plainly that 
such a path or such an action would really lead to 
the awakening of Russia from her age-long sleep, or 
would be a real menace to the age-long tyranny. 
Things which yesterday were condemned are looked 
upon to-day as new revelations. The Byzantine 
dogmatism is forgotten ; enemies of not long ago 
become impassioned adherents; and the disor¬ 
ganised crowd of yesterday, fired with a common 
enthusiasm, becomes to-day a phalanx of Titans, 
ready to take by storm heaven itself. Historical 
instances are not far to seek : it was not by argu¬ 
ments, not by the completeness of its theories, but 


2 7 

by the fascination of its actions, that the old Naro- 
dnaya Volya gathered around itself all that was 
most energetic in revolutionary Russia. 

But let us return to our subject. 

What we have said about the tactics as regards 
each other of separate revolutionary subdivisions, is 
applicable also to the relations between the various 
parties of the opposition. For the sake of our 
common cause we must make it our first care to 
render our party a power in the land. And how 
can any party become a power, which is afraid 
openly to acknowledge its own convictions, which 
puts on an artificial meekness in order to win over 
or to please this person or that ? 

And, indeed, what is the use of all these efforts, 
which deceive no one, to hide our candle under a 
bushel ? We ought long ago to have given up the 
habit, borrowed from Western Europe, of confusing 
Liberalism with narrow bourgeois class-interest. 
Ours is not a class opposition, but an intellectual 
opposition. Modern Russia, which so often reminds 
us of France before the Revolution, in no other 
respect so closely resembles her as in the humani¬ 
tarian and profoundly democratic feeling of her 
privileged class. One must wear very thick spec¬ 
tacles indeed if he cannot see that our “ Liberals ” 
are, by their opinions, very different from those of 
the West in our day. The majority of them are 



advocates of most radical economic reforms, and a 
large number sympathise, in essentials, with social¬ 
ism. Where is the danger, here, of “frightening” 
them with our socialism ? 

There are, of course, in Russia chemically pure 
Liberals, Manchesterites ; but we do not believe 
that even they would turn away from us for our 

It is one thing not to agree with socialism, and 
quite another thing to wish to deprive socialists of 
the right to preach their doctrine as freely as other 
parties. The English Liberals are, indeed, we may 
say universally, opponents on principle of socialism, 
and yet they not only do not attempt to shut the 
mouths of their socialists, but even defend them 
when any aggression is made upon their rights. 
The entire Liberal press took the part of the 
socialists at the time of the or.ce-famous Dodd 
Street case, when the police tried to prevent the 
socialists from holding meetings at that place, 
and the most eminent of the militant opponents 
of socialism, the late Charles Bradlaugh, made an 
interpellation in Parliament about the case. And 
this was by no means a demonstration of generosity 
to an enemy, but a simple expression, which asto¬ 
nished no one, of that feeling of civil solidarity and 
civil liberty which has become second nature to all 
English people. 



Is it possible that we are so hopelessly, so bar¬ 
barously behind the age that these elementary 
truths, which ordinary English shopkeepers, cab¬ 
men, and cotton spinners, regard as the alphabet of 
political education, are incomprehensible to our 
picked men, our Liberals, among whom are hun¬ 
dreds of professors, writers, and savants, some of 
them of European fame ? 

If there are, indeed, among our malcontents, any 
persons who, even now, at this time of general, 
intolerable oppression, indulge in dreams of gagging 
their opponents with anti-socialist statutes and 
martial law, what sort of Liberals are they ? and 
are they worth taking into account ? The sooner 
and the more thoroughly we repel them, the better 
for us and for the cause of Russian liberty. 

We repeat: socialism is not, and never has been, 
the hindrance to the uniting of the Russian opposi¬ 
tion ; that hindrance must be sought in the political, 
not the economic side of our programme—so far 
as programmes play any part in the matter at 

The putting forward of political revolt as a means 
towards further development, was for us a decisive 
step in advance. But from the formal point of view 
it was a retrogression from a more extreme, though 
less definite programme, and we have still not got 
rid of a phraseology which makes it appear as if 



we looked upon that step as a kind of “falling into 

When we speak of our desire to obtain political 
liberty, we think it necessary to add, as it were in 
self-justification, that we want it not for itself, but as 
a means towards the solving of the social question. 

We all understand quite well that, in contempo¬ 
rary Russia, political liberty can be obtained only 
in the form of a constitutional monarchy. Up till 
now the world has invented no other form of free 
state except Constitutional Monarchy or Republic, 
and so far no voices have been raised for a republic 
in Russia. And yet we still continue to look upon 
the word “ constitution ” as something unclean. 
We carefully avoid the use of it, employing various 
roundabout methods of speech, for fear people 
should “confuse us with” the constitutionalists. 
We become bitterly angry if any one of our number 
calls things by their real names. 

But why all these fig-leaves ? We prefer a re¬ 
publican form of government to any other, and 
most certainly have no prejudice in favour of the 
Romanov dynasty. But once we consider it in¬ 
expedient, or not worth while to try to overthrow 
it, we prefer to say so frankly, and therefore we put 
forward, as our immediate aim, the winning of a 
constitution for Russia. 

Finally—and this is the most important point— 



while preaching the principle of the supreme right 
of the nation to decide all questions of state; while 
repeatedly declaring that the violent actions to 
which we now have recourse, are purely temporary 
measures, which will give place to peaceful, intel¬ 
lectual work as soon as popular representation is 
substituted for the present despotism—while ac¬ 
knowledging all this, we, at the same time, cannot 
give up our revolutionary rhetoric and continue to 
talk of our “revolutionary” socialism and of “the 
social revolution without explaining whether we 
mean these expressions to be understood in the 
literal or metaphorical sense. 

For our part we object to this ambiguity and 
confusion. We recognise the expressions above 
quoted only in the broad philosophical sense in 
which Lassalle accepted them. But as they are 
usually understood in another sense, we prefer to 
leave them aside altogether. 

We absolutely and categorically distinguish be¬ 
tween the two divisions of our tactics: the political 
division and the economic.. 

We believe that the worthless gang which now 
rules over Russia, taking advantage of a misunder¬ 
standing of the peasant masses, can be overthrown 
only by force, and to this end we see no other means 
than force. In politics we are revolutionists, re¬ 
cognising not only popular insurrection, but military 



plots, nocturnal attacks upon the palace, bombs and 
dynamite. We shall not, while living abroad, 
preach these things to our Russian comrades. 
Apart from the moral impossibility of inciting 
others to actions in which we ourselves can take 
no part, there is also the question of the timeliness, 
and, therefore, of the expediency, of a given action— 
a question which can be decided only on the spot. 

But we regard all such acts as morally justifiable, 
and we are ready to defend them and acknowledge 
our moral solidarity with them, once people have 
been driven to commit them. In view of the 
cynical, boundless despotism now rampant in 
Russia, every form of protest is lawful, and there 
are outrages upon human nature so intolerable that 
violence becomes the moral duty of the citizens. 

But as regards the introduction of socialism into 
life, we are evolutionists. We utterly disbelieve in 
the possibility of reconstructing economic relation¬ 
ships by means of a burst of revolutionary inspira¬ 
tion. That is a huge work which needs great 
mental efforts on the part of many people, much 
preparation, much practical experience and correc¬ 
tion, and therefore much time. 

We could prove, by quoting what have now 
become historical documents, that those who at 
one time really were “ the party," regarded the 
realisation of socialism just as a peaceful intellectual 



work. • But we will dispense with quotations. We 
have cast off the authority of ancient tradition for 
the right of the individual reason to judge of and^ 
decide all questions in heaven and earth. Let us 
then reverence our past, but let us not .forge for 
ourselves new_chajns and reintroduce the forgotten 
cultus of tradition. Let us look upon the matter 
with our own eyes, and answer the question whether, 
general considerations apart, there is any logic in 
the uniting of revolutionary socialism with that 
struggle for representative government which is now 
taking place on Russian soil ? Is it not clear that 
a free state has incomparably more power than an 
autocracy to repress disturbances of a political 
character ? The latter depends solely upon the 
police and the army ; the former will have at its 
disposal the same police and army plus—and think 
what a plus!—the support of the whole nation. 
Why, then, substitute a powerful enemy for a weak 
one ? Would it not be simpler to return to anarchist 
theories, and, taking advantage of the moment, raise 
at once the standard of rebellion ? 

It is only from the point of view of evolutionary 
socialism that the struggle against autocracy, with 
its numberless and terrible sacrifices, has a true 
and great significance; otherwise it is nothing but 
an aimless and sanguinary farce—strife for strife’s 
sake, practice in self-sacrifice. 



But the logic of life has proved stronger than the 
logic of our heads. From the time when the 
question of political revolution became the principal 
question of the moment, the anarchist theories, 
which up till then had prevailed among us, were 
replaced by the ideas of social democracy. To 
anarchists, representative government is not worth 
fighting for, and, therefore, there are no anarchists 
in Russia. 

Would it not be wiser to bring our programme 
into harmony with our activity ? 

We believe that political liberty gives all that 
is needed for the solution of the social question. 
If we look at the West, we see clearly to what 
brilliant results our comrades have attained by using 
those weapons of propaganda and agitation which 
constitutional freedom has placed in their hands. 
We also see that the more powerful becomes the 
socialist party in a land, the more complete is the 
victory of evolutionary socialism. In proportion as 
the results obtained are more precious, as the 
moment comes nearer when the party may expect 
to be called to the practical realisation of its ideals, 
the complications and difficulties of the gigantic task 
become more evident, and the rhetoric of blood and 
violence inherited from political revolutions is more 
decisively abandoned. The German socialist party, 
which has astonished the world with its titanic 



growth, presents the most brilliant example of 
political discretion and self-control. 

Profiting by its experience, we propose to take our 
stand openly in favour of evolutionary socialism, 
recognising freedom of speech, freedom of the press, 
and universal franchise as fully sufficient weapons ; 
and, so long as they are guaranteed by inviolable 
law, the only right weapons to use in the coming 
social struggle. 

But while regarding the solution of the labour 
question in Russia as a problem which will be 
brought prominently forward in perhaps the near 
future, we emphatically protest against the habit 
which has grown up among us of treating political 
liberty exclusively as a means to “ the solution of 
the social question.” We feel as an insult the idea 
that we should look upon liberty as a mere tool with 
which to obtain something else, as though the needs 
and feelings of free men were strange to us, as 
though our duties to the people have blinded us 
to our duties to ourselves and our human dignity. 

We think, moreover, that this timid phrase may 
lay us open to a danger, the possibility of which 
is probably unsuspected by many of the wise persons 
who repeat it. From the constant harnessing, as 
it were on principle, of political freedom to the 
solution of the labour question, there is but one 
step to democratic imperialism. From the point 



of view of narrow labour interests, it may appear 
more advantageous to uphold the huge power 
already established, once it offers immediate 
economic reforms, than to follow the long and 
difficult path to general freedom. We may be 
answered that only very short-sighted persons could 
fall into this trap. But unhappily such short¬ 
sightedness is a common disease among Russians, 
and this fact renders caution doubly necessary. We 
admit of no compromise on this point, and, in case 
of a conflict between civil liberty and imperial 
socialism, we should take our stand on the side 
of “bourgeois” Liberals against the “ peasantist ” 
socialists, who allowed themselves to be caught 
in such a snare. 

We do not believe in the possibility of making 
the people prosperous by decrees and edicts from 
above. And both imperial and Jacobinical socialism 
lead to the same result : the transformation of the 
country into a huge workhouse. 

Only where there exists general freedom and 
where the whole people can judge of and decide 
upon social matters, is it possible to practically 
realise in life any new ideas or principles, including 
the reconstruction of economic relations on the 
basis of socialism. By the “people” we mean, not 
merely the representatives of physical labour but 
the whole nation. Therefore we desire the spread 



of liberty throughout the length and breadth of 
the country, that every social organisation should 
be permeated by it from centre to periphery. We 
flesire: autonomy, local and regional; we desire a 
federalism which will render independent all those 
races and lands which make up the state. We 
{Jesire freedom for all Russians without distinc¬ 
tion of party; and we are ready to defend it in the 
name of that universal sense of civic solidarity 
which lies outside of class-questions, and which 
exists in all advanced countries in proportion to the 
degree of their advancement. To repudiate it for 
the sake of any economic philosophy, even of 
German origin, would be as unreasonable as to deny 
the existence of mutual insurance companies on the 
ground that all men are egotists. 

It is only by guaranteeing liberty to our opponents 
that we can secure our own. The science of liberty 
does not consist in knowing how to do and say what 
is pleasant or advantageous to ourselves—every one 
can manage that without learning how—but in 
developing the faculty of tolerating what is un¬ 
pleasant or even injurious, whenever it is the result 
of the use of rights equal to our own. 

We do not see why all persons of a progressive 
turn of mind who are our opponents on the economic 
questions should not pay us back in the same coin. 
There is not in our view a single point which 



could hinder us from working in common with 

We acknowledge without equivocation that, as 
regards the political question, which for us is the 
question of the day, our programme is just that of 
the advanced section of Russian Liberals, as it has 
been stated in the foreign press, and, to such an 
extent as the censorship has allowed, in a few 
Russian periodicals. We should not hesitate to say 
that we subscribe and accept their programme, did 
we not know that really we have taken it from the 
same source from which they took it: observation 
of European life and study of European political 

The Russian revolutionists, in consequence of the 
peculiar conditions under which their movement was 
born, protested for a long time, as we have said, 
against “ politics ” ; and when at last they accepted 
it, they avoided the beaten track and, wishing to find 
out for themselves something new and original, went 
by roundabout bypaths according to the proverb : 
“Five miles straight, but perhaps three miles round.” 

The Liberals, on the contrary, went straight 
towards their end without any hair-splitting, and 
thus attained to a simpler, more logical, and more 
practical standpoint in politics. 

In offering our suggestions to our Russian com¬ 
rades we have laid aside all considerations of 



political opportunism, such as the desire to 
“attract” the Liberals. Undoubtedly it is both 
desirable and important to avoid all causes of mis¬ 
understanding and mutual distrust between the two 
great branches of our opposition. But it is still 
more desirable and important, for the sake of the 
party itself, to set our foundation straight, as it 
were, to get rid of all confusion of ideas; for such 
confusion may, in the future if not now, become a 
source of misunderstandings, errors, and even failure. 

As for the question of the suggested leaguing 
together of Liberals and revolutionists, we hasten 
to explain that we are not contemplating any formal 
or organic unification. We hold, in contradiction to 
the general opinion, that a true organic league 
between us and the Liberals will become possible, 
not before the revolution, but, to use the common 
term, “on the day after” it. To hope that, in a 
moment and by one blow, we can win for ourselves 
as much liberty as is enjoyed by the English and 
Americans, would be too naive. There is far more 
reason to suppose that our first portion of liberty 
will be a much smaller one, and that it will become 
widened later on by the common efforts of all pro¬ 
gressive parties. Until that time there can be no 
question of a common organisation ; attempts at it 
can lead to nothing but fruitless destruction. The 
parties must remain separate, independent wholes, 



joining together for special practical actions, but 
without amalgamating, like diversely equipped 
troops forming one army. The Liberal party 
cannot, if only because of its size, adopt those 
methods of action which are suitable for revolu¬ 

A general league between the parties at the 
present time can be only a moral one, based on 
mutual comprehension and trust, and on the con¬ 
sciousness of common interests. It is for such a 
league that we wish to make a way by removing 
some of the imaginary obstacles. And here, too, 
we would choose practice rather than theory, and 
application to life rather than abstract propositions. 
It is for us a matter of comparative indifference 
whether any of our suggestions shall or shall not 
enter into any of the numerous home-made “ pro¬ 
grammes ” concocted every year in various holes 
and corners of our huge country. Everything that 
has entered into life must necessarily, sooner or 
later, find its way into a programme; but much 
that stands in programmes will for ever remain a 
dead letter in life. 

What we fervently desire is that our words may 
contribute, in however small a degree, to the de¬ 
velopment amongst us of greater mutual tolerance, 
and especially to the abandoning of the absurd 
attitude towards all persons called Liberals, which 



has become customary among revolutionists. Our 
party pride and narrowness, our constant drawing 
of distinctions between “ours” and “yours,” with 
a tacit assumption that we are made of finer clay, 
have done more to cause dissensions among us than 
all the programmes put together. 

And it is useless for us to disguise this foolish 
self-laudation under a mask of devotion to the cause 
or strictness of principle. Principles have nothing 
to do with the matter. As for “ the cause,” it has 
become a shame and a sorrow to think of. The 
autocracy has descended upon everything that is 
alive in Russia like a leaden coffin-lid. Never 
before has even our unhappy land lived through so 
dark and dreadful a time. After a short period of 
stupefaction, the autocracy has evidently determined 
to revenge itself for the humiliation of two years’ 
captivity, for the hesitation caused by terror, and 
for its momentary consent to compromise. And it 
has succeeded. It triumphs, and no one resists it. 
Serfdom, with its most monstrous attributes, has 
been practically reintroduced. A gang of official 
brigands does what it pleases with Russia ; and the 
whips and rods of the police flourish over Russian 
heads, in town and country, in prison and street, in 
the police stations of the capital, and in far-off 
Siberia. Things inconceivable, intolerable, that can 
hardly be spoken of aloud, are done, and done with 



impunity. In face of this boundless humiliation, of 
this insolent and deliberate outrage upon every¬ 
thing that is sacred to us, shall there not awake in 
us the direct and simple sense of indignation ? 
Shall it not sweep away as dust both the dry bones 
of dogmatism and all petty quarrels and dissensions, 
and show us a comrade and a brother in every man 
who is an enemy of our enemy, and who is willing 
to take part in the fight ? It is only by our dis¬ 
sensions, by our incapacity to work together, that 
the present system is enabled to stand ; and unless 
we can attain to political coherency and learn to act 
in unison, it will continue to stand for years and 



The present pamphlet was written more than half 
a year ago ; 1 and, its publication having been un¬ 
avoidably delayed, it now appears under conditions 
materially different from those under which it was 
written. During this period the autocracy has re¬ 
ceived a blow from which it cannot recover, and 
which may possibly shake it to its very foundations. 
We speak of the terrible famine which has fallen 
upon almost the whole of corn-growing Russia. 

1 In January, 1891. 



Men have proved powerless and incompetent to 
snatch the country out of the hands of the autocracy 
before it was too late; and now Nature has risen up 
to do the work with her blind and merciless agent, 
hunger, which assuredly will sweep away a hundred 
times more lives and cause a hundred times more 
suffering than the most sanguinary revolution. 

This is not a pleasant reflection. But once the 
fact is so, it behoves us to think what we shall do 
to render a repetition of such misfortunes impossible 
in future. 

It is needless to explain that the present famine 
is the inevitable consequence of that condition of 
chronic destitution to which the people had been 
reduced before the beginning of this black year. 
That is now acknowledged and repeated throughout 
the whole Russian press, and the very Government 
dares not deny it. It is also superfluous to demon¬ 
strate that the present crisis cannot pass over with 
the current year, but is certain to spread itself over 
many coming years, gradually shaking to pieces the 
state machinery, bringing the finances into hopeless 
confusion, and driving the Government into material 
and moral bankruptcy. Already twenty-five (by 
some calculations, thirty-four) millions of peasants 
—that is to say, over a third of the taxpayers—are 
hopelessly ruined, possessing no longer either cattle 
seed-corn, or any other means upon which to exist 



and to pay taxes. The necessity of supporting 
them, and of somehow filling up the deficit in 
the budget, must necessarily result in completing 
the ruin of the other two-thirds who are still 
contriving to somehow make both ends meet. 
The year 1892 threatens to be still darker than the 
present year, and we see no prospect of improve¬ 
ment in the future. 

The most favourable atmospheric conditions 
cannot produce corn on an unsown field, or render 
it possible for the peasants to plough without cattle. 
The position is a hopeless one, and we may indeed 
look upon the present crisis as the beginning of the 
end. All this is plain to see for any one capable of 
looking further into the future than to-morrow. We 
have spoken of this in order to warn those whom 
our words may reach from exaggerating the political 
effects of external elemental forces, among which 
must be classed such crises as the present one. 

We remember how, ten years ago, the enormous 
and apparently invincible energy of the revolu¬ 
tionists, with the executive committee at their 
head, favoured the growth, in certain circles, of 
a peculiar kind of cowardice. People who, in all 
other respects, were reasonable and well meaning 
would put forward, as an excuse for their own 
inactivity, their belief in the power of the revolu¬ 
tionists. “ They will smash up the autocracy,” 



said these enthusiasts; and considered that to offer 
help to such Titans would be quite superfluous. 
There are people ready to transfer this lazy optim¬ 
ism to famine, to an unsuccessful war, and to other 
such blind forces. 

This is a pitiful mistake. Neither war nor famine 
will make a revolution for us, or destroy the 
autocracy. Economic confusion may bring the 
state into a condition of complete bankruptcy, of 
incapacity to pay the salaries 'of its officers and 
officials, may cause the entire loss of its credit; 
and yet the despotism may remain unshaken, as 
has happened in the case of Turkey. A war may 
reduce Russia to the position of a third-rate 
Power without necessarily destroying the auto¬ 
cracy. Nay, famine may call forth a whole series 
of petty popular revolts and disturbances, which 
may be each time suppressed, and may end in 
nothing but the useless slaughter of now hundreds, 
now thousands of rebels. Peasant revolts are a 
mere elemental force, which, alone and without 
the help of a conscious opposition, cannot change 
anything containing an idea, be it even a worn- 
out one. 

We do not say that the upheaval of elemental 
forces, should it take place, will subside leaving 
no results. On the contrary, we are convinced 
that this will not be the case, just because such 



an outburst of elemental discontent would cer¬ 
tainly awaken to life and activity the represen¬ 
tatives of a conscious opposition. We only wish 
to point out that for us there is no salvation 
without a conscious revolution. Therefore the 
most energetic activity on the part of the 
conscious opposition is not merely a means of 
“hastening events,” as the partisans of “organic 
development ” like to express themselves, but a 
conditio sine qua non of the very occurrence of such 

What are those to do who wish to alleviate the 
misery of the people by word and deed, irrespective 
of possible consequences to themselves ? 

At present famine rages in the country districts 
only ; and in several cases those districts have 
already witnessed active expressions of popular 
misery and despair. Is not the place of the 
revolutionists now in the country ? and should 
they not turn their energies towards the direct 
incitement of the peasants to insurrection ? 

Educated and determined persons may do great 
service to the popular movement already beginning, 
by organising it and giving to it greater energy and 
stability and a wider reach. But it is not probable 
that revolutionists can have much success as initia¬ 
tors and arousers of such movements. And this, 
not because the work is too great for their powers, 



but because it demands means and weapons different 
in character from those at our disposal. We cannot 
spread rumours of “ Enoch having come to life 
again,” or of a “ horse having fallen from the sky 
with mystic inscriptions on its back.” Still less 
can we circulate tales of mysterious imperial edicts. 
Yet such fables, which excite the popular imagina¬ 
tion, are always at the bottom of peasant insurrec¬ 
tions. It is possible that this year’s famine may not 
provoke any widespread peasant disturbances; and 
even if it should do so, they will have to be the 
work of the peasants themselves, not of revolu¬ 
tionists. Our forces are chiefly in the towns; and 
there, without being compelled to resort to fables 
and inventions, we can organise a direct, energetic, 
fully conscious attack which may give the death¬ 
blow to the shaken autocracy. Shaken it un¬ 
doubtedly will be by the present crisis, whether 
that crisis bring about a peasant war or not. We 
do not speak of the non-payment of taxes; the 
starving people cannot remain quiet, either in the 
villages or in the towns, to which the famine- 
stricken masses flock. The central Government 
will thus become weakened and its conscious 
opponents will be able to overthrow it more easily 
than at any other time. Thus it was in the 
French Revolution, and thus it must be in our 



By what means and in what way the attack 
should be made is a question of tactics which can 
only be decided by persons on the spot. All that 
we can say is that only a widespread movement, 
supported, as far as possible, by the whole mass 
of the discontented, can succeed, and that this 
moment is peculiarly favourable for such a move¬ 

We may compare the present position to defeat 
in a war with an external enemy. The terrible 
scourge of famine has been brought upon the 
country by the Government ; for, under other 
conditions, no failure of crops could have caused 
anything resembling the present misery. And this 
same Government now shows itself utterly incapable 
of helping the people in their distress; it has acknow¬ 
ledged this fact before the whole country, and has 
handed over the task to private initiative. Yet, at 
the same time, so great is its fear of the public exer¬ 
cising any control over it, that it places in the way 
of such initiative obstacles which render any real 
help impossible. Neither Russian society nor those 
foreigners who have shown themselves willing to 
bring their millions to the aid of the Russian people 
care to trust their funds to the uncontrolled disposal 
of the Russian bureaucracy. Tens of thousands, 
maybe hundreds of thousands, of Russians are 
doomed to perish because the Government, which 



has refused to help them itself, is afraid to let others 
do so. 

Such a spectacle is intolerable to all in whom 
everything human has not withered up. The 
discontent grows more and more intense, and is 
becoming universal, spreading through all spheres 
of society, sowing dissension and confusion in the 
ranks of the Government itself, terrifying it and 
paralysing its energy. Anything may be done at 
such moments if only the opposition prove capable 
of organising the discontent. 

The only way out of the present desperate position 
is to convoke a general National Assembly, invested 
with full powers. Such an assembly could put an 
end to political and economic chaos and could give 
to the forces of the nation room for general develop¬ 
ment and a more rational application to all spheres 
of labour and thought. Nothing but the introduction 
of popular representation can put a stop to the 
chronic starvation, financial entanglement, and law¬ 
lessness which now prevail in Russia. This is 
recognised by every one except the Government, 
which still thinks only of how to prolong its 
shameful existence by fair means or foul. 

True, even if not elected, representatives of the 
people must compel the Government to lay down 
its arms, by moral pressure, by the imposing 
strength of the masses gathered round the standard 

5 ° 


of constitution, and also by force. We should be 
glad to find ourselves mistaken, but we do not think 
that our Government will yield until it has exhausted 
all means of resistance, and this will force the oppo¬ 
sition to employ all means in the struggle. Neither 
the Liberals nor the revolutionists separately can 
overthrow the autocracy. There must be large and 
energetic demonstrations, declarations, protests, from 
the town and county councils, from the press and 
from society; it is absolutely essential that there be 
also a free organ to act as a mirror of the movement; 
but it is doubtful whether such efforts can bring 
about the desired end without direct attacks, without 
military and other plots, which would force the 
Government to seek refuge in timely compromises. 

The pledge of victory is the mutual support of 
both sections of the opposition. Therefore our last 
word to all friends of the Russian people must be an 
appeal to lay aside all sectarian differences for the 
sake of the things we all demand, to join together 
and to fight. Let us fight on the largest scale that 
is open to us, but in any case let us fight, whatever 
be the difficulties or the sacrifices. 

The terrible disasters through which our country 
is passing lay upon us great obligations, and upon 
our way of fulfilling them it depends whether Russia 
shall enter into the twentieth century as a free 
country, or whether, degenerating, falling to pieces, 



losing her national features, she must shamefully 
wait until the march of European progress flings to 
her, as an alms, what other nations have conquered 
for themselves by heroism and self-sacrifice. 



In December, 18S9, at a small private meeting of 
only four persons, two English and two Russians, 
it was determined to found in England a society, 
with the object of helping forward the cause of 
Russian emancipation by all means legitimate for 

Taking into consideration the English dread of 
“ responsibility,” and consequent dislike of interfering 
in anything which they do not thoroughly understand, 
we might have supposed the success of the project to 
be very doubtful. But one of the two English persons 
was Robert Spence Watson, now President of the 
Liberal Federation of Great Britain, one of the most 
influential and gifted Englishmen of our time. To 
his fresh and living enthusiasm for the Russian 
cause, to his energy and the powerful fascination 
of his personality, we owe it that, in little more than 
two months, dozens of the most respected names in 
England were written down in the list of members 
of the new society. 



The motives which induced Dr. Spence Watson 
(a man no longer young and as busy as only English 
statesmen are) to take up the Russian agitation are 
so characteristic, and the further success of the agi¬ 
tation is so largely his work, that it may be worth 
while to say a few words about him personally. 

Dr. Spence Watson is a Newcastle man, a lawyer 
of radical convictions. He comes of an old family, 
which belonged to the Society of Friends, and has 
long been distinguished for its fervent sympathy with 
the cause of liberty in all countries and for all nations. 
His father was a strong reformer, a friend of John 
Bright and Lloyd Garrison, and Dr. Watson him¬ 
self, having come under the personal influence of 
Kossuth, Garibaldi, and Felice Orsini, at the age of 
twenty, was much inclined to fling over the Quaker’s 
unconditional objection to war and join Garibaldi’s 
“ Thousand ” which landed in Sicily in i860. Ten 
years later, at the time of the Franco-Prussian war, 
he collected a large sum of money for the relief of 
the French peasants ruined by the war, and, without 
waiting for the promulgation of peace, went out to 
the scene of hostilities to distribute the funds in 
person. This form of philanthropy proved to be 
almost more dangerous than direct participation in 
the fighting. He had more to fear from friends than 
from enemies. On several occasions he nearly lost 
his life because the French imagined him to be a 



Prussian spy who had come under the pretext of 
philanthropy to examine their position. 

In 1877, during the Russo-Turkish war, he was 
an ardent partisan of Russia, as, like Mr. Gladstone, 
he then believed that the Russian Government really 
desired to free Bulgaria. His great influence in 
the north of England counted for much in bringing 
about that revulsion of English public opinion and 
political action which followed the famous disclosures 
of the “ Bulgarian Atrocities.” 

A man with such antecedents and with sympathies 
so wide could not fail to be interested in the sudden 
outburst of internal discontent in Russia itself, that 
Russian revolutionary movement which in Western 
Europe has been dubbed “ Nihilism.” When a series 
of publications appeared in the English language 
explaining the meaning and aim of this struggle, 
the position of the people, the mutual relations of 
Government and society, that interest gradually 
grew into profound sympathy. Such sympathy does 
not necessarily imply complete solidarity, but renders 
impossible all narrowness of view, and enables men 
to rise above prejudices and dissensions and to 
understand by simple human feeling all that is 
great and noble in a movement such as ours. 

The publication of Mr. Kennan’s Siberian articles 
was the last touch which converted this feeling into 
an overpowering impulse to do something to relieve, 



in however slight a degree, the miseries that had 
produced so deep an impression. 

At one of the preliminary meetings of the future 
Society, Dr. Watson, speaking of his resolve to give 
some practical expression to his sympathy with the 
cause of Russian freedom, said, “ We cannot remain 
indifferent spectators of the cruelties that are inflicted 
upon our neighbours in Russia. We must help in 
some way, however little may be the help that we 
can give. For us this is a question of duty and of 
conscience; for some of us it is a question of our 
peace of mind.” 

In answer to this appeal was formed, in 1890, 
the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom, with a 
committee consisting of twenty-eight members. 
The committee now contains ten members of Par¬ 
liament and several leaders of the Radical party, 
such as Professor Stuart, Mr. Burt, Mr. Allanson 
Picton, and others. On the committee list we also 
find such names as Stopford Brooke, Percy Bunting, 
Charles Berry, Mrs. Mallet, &c. The first and most 
difficult step was taken. In the following year, 1891, 
the organisation spread to America, where another 
society was formed resembling the English one in 
aims and character, and with as influential a com¬ 

In this manner the Russian work abroad was first 
formulated and organised. Both societies, from their 



very beginning, have kept before them definite aims 
and a clear understanding of what means they judge 
fit to use for the attainment of those aims. 

Neither society confines itself to protesting against 
special instances of Russian tyranny, such as the 
Siberian horrors and the brutal treatment of political 
prisoners in exile, although these are the things 
which make the strongest impression upon foreigners. 
The societies hold a wider view of their work ; and, 
believing that the root of the mischief lies in the 
autocracy itself, have set before themselves as an 
aim the support from without of those who are 
fighting against the autocracy within the country. 

This more radical attitude of the societies towards 
the Russian question shows a fuller understanding 
on the part of foreigners of the true position of 
Russia. Simultaneously with the founding of the 
English society, another society, with as wide a 
programme, was started in Denver, in the far 
west of America, on the initiative of Mr. Scott 
Saxon, an enthusiast in Russian affairs. At the 
present time, in both England and America, one 
may meet everywhere persons who feel in this way 
towards Russian affairs. 

Far more complex is the question: How can 
practical help be given ? 

The struggle for liberty, wherever it takes place, 
always meet with sympathy and support among free 



peoples. When matters reach the length of open 
insurrection that sympathy and support express 
themselves in a very simple manner, by the collec¬ 
tion of funds for the war and by the enlisting of 
volunteers. Foreign volunteers took part with the 
Americans in their War of Independence; with the 
Greeks and Slavs every time those races rose 
against Turkey ; with the Poles in their insurrec¬ 
tions, and with Garibaldi in all his campaigns. 
Foreign volunteers would certainly join us too, 
should any Russian Garibaldi raise the standard 
of armed insurrection. 

Open insurrection is a kind of plebiscite to which 
all the nation is called to decide by siding with the 
one party or the other, what kind of social order 
it prefers. But so long as the fight is carried on 
by means of plots and secret societies, over which 
the nation has no direct control, foreigners have 
no place in it. Only Russians can uphold, before 
the face of the country and before that part of 
society on which retaliation on the part of the 
Government weighs most heavily, the supreme 
right of men in a no-thoroughfare. We mean the 
right of every man to defend himself and his 
own, his honour, his life, and his human dignity 
by any means possible, whatever be the results of 
them, when less objectionable means of self-defence 
are rendered impossible. Only Russians, fighting in 



the name of the people and taking upon themselves 
to decide what the people need and wish, can offer 
not only a warrant of sincerity which is testified by 
their readiness to sacrifice their own lives, but also 
the warrant of competency to understand the needs 
and conditions of life of the land for which they are 

All these considerations, suggested by simple 
respect for the rights and dignity of the Russian 
people, were thought of when the programme of the 
new society was drawn up. The English, and after 
it the American, society distinctly stated that the 
form of active help which they could give to the 
Russian liberation movement would be to win over 
to its side, by means of free agitation, the public 
opinion, first of their own country, and then of other 
free lands. This form of help contains no trace 
of license or forced interference in the domestic 
affairs of another country, and merely represents 
the use of the inalienable right of all men to express 
freely what they think and feel. 

Here we come to the oft-repeated question : Can 
anything so intangible as the expression of what 
foreigners think and feel exercise any serious in¬ 
fluence over the course of events in Russia ? Can 
we expect that a Government which remains deaf 
to the demands of public opinion at home will listen 
to the voice of foreigners? Or that the stagnant 



iters of Russian patience will be stirred, even to 
perceptible ripple, by any storm raised in far-off 
nds—nay, on the other side of the globe ? 

These questions and doubts are quite serious, and 
iserve our full attention. We will, therefore, try 
state as clearly as possible our view of the 
Ration abroad, its conditions, and the extent of 
> possible influence. 

It is hardly necessary to explain that we fully 
iderstand that such influence must, by its very 
iture, be limited. The Russian question must 
: solved on Russian soil by Russian efforts. That 
as it must and as it should be. Every nation 
orthy of liberty must win her for itself. But we 
aintain that, with an active support from Russia, 
ie agitation abroad may become a valuable help 
i the struggle; that, whereas in Russia every step 
>sts terrible sacrifices, the Russian opposition, by 
orking abroad can, without any sacrifices and with 
trifling expenditure of energy, create a force which 
ie Government, in spite of its millions of bayonets, 
ill have to take into account. 

At the first glance these hopes may seem, to say 
ie least, exaggerated. 

It is quite true that the proposed plan of making 



use of the foreign press is something new, un¬ 
known in former revolutions. But we must not 
forget that during the last forty or fifty years there 
have happened in the world many new things which 
formerly did not exist, or existed only in the germ. 
Moreover, the position of Russia and of the Russian 
question abroad is also a quite new one. 

The sum of many different general influences, 
both intellectual and political, have created, so to 
say, a new force: the periodical press, above all the 
daily press, the newspaper. At any rate they have 
developed it to an astonishing extent, rendering it 
the greatest power in the world of to-day. The 
sum of other conditions and influences has, as it 
were, placed this enormous force at the disposal of 
the Russian opposition. 

Russia, with her population of over a hundred 
millions, increasing at so exceptionally rapid a rate, 
has always been, and must continue to be, a state 
of the first rank as regards her influence on the 
general course of European history. The overthrow 
of autocracy and the establishment of a free con¬ 
stitutional government in Russia will be an in¬ 
calculable boon to humanity, for with it is bound 
up the question of the deliverance of all Central 
Europe from the iron yoke of militarism. The fall 
of the autocracy in St. Petersburg will render 
superfluous and, therefore, impossible the con- 



tinuance of the half-autocracy in Berlin. And all 
the international relations, the whole political life 
of Europe will be changed when true liberty is 
introduced into Germany. On the other hand, 
every further year that the Russian autocracy 
continues to exist is a source of further anxieties, 
dangers, nervous tension and material loss and 
expense for the whole western world. 

The Russian question is therefore a question of 
enormous international importance, and concerns 
far more interests than those of the Russian people 
alone. This circumstance is of the greatest con¬ 
sequence, as it gives stability and firmness to the 
Russian cause abroad. Apart from temporary ex¬ 
citements, apart from the ebb and flow of political 
curiosity, all that happens in Russia will always be 
a matter of deep interest to thinking persons of all 
civilised nations. Sympathy with the Russian 
movement will grow, steadily and constantly, 
together with the growth of general interest in 
politics and social questions. 

This international character of the Russian 
question also affords us the best answer to one 
special accusation. The Russian official press has 
long been observing our movement. As usual, it 
has accused us of “treason,” and has poured upon 
us a flood of abuse for leaguing with “ the enemies 
of Russia.” 


To the gentlemen in the pay of the Russian 
Government we have nothing to say. But we 
respect and appreciate patriotic feeling in so far 
as it is a manifestation of love to one’s own race, 
not an expression of rapacious instincts towards 
other races. We would rather see in our friends 
an exaggerated jealousy towards anything that really 
concerns the dignity of Russian people, than in¬ 
difference. And, therefore, to those who are honestly 
hurt by the interference of foreigners in our domestic 
quarrels, we answer that modern nations have no 
longer any “domestic” quarrels, properly so-called. 
Once we have telegraph wires—those nerves of the 
collective human body—to instantly spread over 
everywhere the knowledge of all the wrongs and 
sorrows of the world, all the world suffers with 
the griefs and misfortunes of every separate people. 
Every man, as a man, has the right to war against 
evil, wherever he find it, in the name of the moral 
suffering which it causes him ; he has the right to 
defend from that suffering both himself and those 
near to him. 

No one now recognises the pretensions of various 
domestic tyrants to the right of exercising domestic 
tyranny on the ground that “ a household is a 
secret, private thing,” to use the expression put 
into their mouth by our great national dramatist. 
And yet the demand for political non-interference, 


put forward by those to whom the misery of the nation 
is advantageous, bears just the same character. 

But these considerations may appear too abstract 
and sentimental for a political pamphlet. We 
therefore prefer to take our stand upon the palpable 
and inalienable right of foreigners to fight against 
the Russian autocracy as against a principle 
injurious to themselves, inimical to liberty, retarding 
progress in their own land . 

But we, too, are Europeans. For to be a 
Russian does not involve counting oneself an 
Asiatic—at least not necessarily so. General 
European interests are dear to us for their own 
sake, irrespective of their possible influence on 
Russian life. We, together with all the advanced 
parties in Europe, desire to see realised in European 
life, as rapidly and with as little hindrance as may 
be, the great principles brought to light by modern 
social science. We desire the unhindered develop¬ 
ment of our common culture. 

Thus in the struggle on European soil against 
Russian Tzarism we can join with Europeans as 
comrades, on a basis of mutual help, in a cause 
which we consider a quite general one. As for our 
Jingoes, indignant—perhaps even sincerely indig¬ 
nant—at such a league, we can afford to treat them 
with the same complete indifference with which we 
revolutionists treat the howls of the knights- 



errant of obscurantism in Russia. The analogy is 

We hope the reader will not take the above to 
mean that we attribute the foreign support of the 
Russian movement to utilitarian motives and policy. 
We must not confuse what is really the lawful 
sanction —or rather one sanction—of a movement 
with its true motive force. The right to take part 
in a particular struggle, the right to sacrifice for it 
time, money, or greater things, has never yet 
impelled a single human being to really take part 
in it, or really to sacrifice anything for its sake. 
For this we need something deeper and more 
impulsive ; we need the living sympathy which 
alone can induce a man to labour for the good of 
others without any advantage to himself—even, it 
may be, to his own detriment. 

This living sympathy is the cause of the move¬ 
ment in Russia, and just so this is the cause of it 
in England. 

But what should suddenly arouse in English 
people such sympathy with us ? What miracle ? 
Why this love for Russian liberty and this unselfish 
desire to help it ? Have the English not cares 
and difficulties enough of their own ? 

Dropping water wears away a stone. The con¬ 
tinual talk about the “ historical enmity ” to us of 
“ perfidious Albion ” has left its trace in the minds 


even of honest and well-meaning persons ; and this 
of course opens to the partisans of reaction a wide 
field for hints and insinuations. 

To those whose astonishment is sincere we can 
say that they are beginning to be surprised too late 
in the day. There was a time when the name of 
Russia was really an object of hatred, in England 
and throughout Europe ; when it was identified 
with the idea of strangled Poland and Hungary, of 
a sullen brute force upholding everything reac¬ 
tionary and inhuman in the rest of Europe. But 
that time is irrevocably past; there now remain 
but few who confuse the Russian people with 
the Russian Government. Russia has ceased to 
be "The Gendarme of Europe”; she has become 
the land of Siberian exiles, the land of tyranny 
and of the hopeless misery of the masses; she 
has become the true Russia which we have known 
and over which we have mourned. 

This change of feeling has come about gradually 
during the last fifteen or twenty years. The way 
was prepared by a number of serious investiga¬ 
tions which acquainted the scientific and literary 
world with the Russian people and with Russian 
culture. But the principal forces at work in the 
accomplishment of this decided transformation 
were undoubtedly the Russian novel on the one 
hand and the Russian revolutionary movement on 



the other: the poetry of form and the poetry of 
action; the fascination of the genius of creation 
and of the genius of self-sacrifice. 

The immense success of the Russian novel 
abroad is known to all educated people. It is a fact 
not only of literary importance, but of the gravest 
political significance; it marks an epoch for the 
Russian cause abroad. Our great novelists have 
been the propagandists of the Russian idea; they 
have been the first to convince other nations that 
the Russian people is not a horde of barbarians, 
but a great and civilised nation, with boundless 
potentialities of future development. Reflecting, 
with the completeness and universality of genius, 
all sides of Russian life, they have opened to 
foreigners a whole new world, amazing in its 
depth and enchanting in its wealth and variety; 
they first have shown to outsiders the real Russia 
which had lain hidden behind a forest of bayonets. 
And there is now no corner of the earth to which 
the Russian novel has not penetrated, or where 
it has not won for the Russian people friends and 
possible partisans of liberty. 

The Russian revolutionary movement also has 
been a revelation to foreigners, as a proof of a 
political crisis and internal struggle, the existence 
of which they had not suspected. It showed them 
the Russians in a new light; it attracted their 



attention by the energy and dramatic force of the 
unequal conflict; it conquered their hearts by the 
irresistible force of sacrifice. This self-abnegation 
disarms enmity and transforms reproaches and 
accusations into wondering inquiry already only one 
step removed from sympathy. The Russian move¬ 
ment, though not understood, has become a living 
epos of our time, winning over to its side public 
opinion, and awakening alike amazement and 

America and England read with horror Kennan’s 
mournful narrative, which has left an indelible 
trace on the mind of the whole contemporary 
world. Kennan’s great work has, once and for 
all, dispelled the prejudices and misunderstandings 
concerning our movement, and has placed its aims, 
motives, and significance in their true light. 

These are the sources of the Russian sympathies 
of foreigners. At the present time there are, 
among our “ historical enemies ” the English, just 
as among our “ transatlantic friends,” thousands 
of persons who have become true friends to the 
real Russia, the Russia of the people. They 
know and appreciate Russian literature ; they 
understand the Russian race, know of its troubles, 
fervently desire its well-being, and believe in its 
future. We have even, to our astonishment, met 
with persons who look to Russia for the “new world.” 



Such persons are, of course, exceptional natures, 
peculiarly impressionable and responsive to the 
afflictions of others. They are rare in any one 
spot; but, counted together, their name is legion; 
and all these are potential workers for the Russian 
cause abroad. 

With the mass of the reading public the interest 
in Russia is, of course, superficial. This could 
not be otherwise, considering the intensity of life 
in Europe and the press of burning home-questions. 
But the interest undoubtedly exists, and, being 
spread over so wide a field, forms an enormous 
total strength, capable of being utilised for practical 

Several years ago, reading the biography of 
Carlo Cattaneo, the hero of the Milan revolution 
of 1848 and one of the profoundest thinkers of his 
time, we came upon the following singular fact. 
Cattaneo, who was not only a savant but a brilliant 
journalist, and who realised the value of foreign 
public opinion, wished to insert in The Times a 
series of articles. They were intended to acquaint 
the English public with the state of affairs in 
Italy, and with the problems before the Italian 
revolutionists, whom the average Englishman of 
that day pictured to himself as monsters of much 
the same kind as the later popular image of the 
“ nihilist.” But notwithstanding all the efforts of 


his English friends, Cattaneo succeeded in getting 
inserted only one article; the other two he was 
obliged to publish himself in pamphlet form. 

The sympathy of the leaders of. public opinion 
and the interest in everything Russian, shown by 
the mass of the reading public, have opened to 
the Russian cause not only the columns of The 
Times , but also those of the leading papers of all 
countries, with the exception of France, who still 
amuses herself with her toy, the “Russian Alliance.” 

But we make hardly any use of this power. The 
amount of information that comes from Russia is 
so small that only an infinitesimal part of the 
demand can be supplied at first-hand and from 
authentic sources. But once there is a demand 
it must be satisfied; and therefore the foreign 
papers are crowded with all kinds of nonsense 
about Russia; often with pure inventions, refuted 
the following day. This only puzzles the public, 
and casts a shadow of doubt even on authentic 
news. It is difficult for foreigners to disentangle 
this mass of statements, and find out where is 
truth and where falsehood. 

A public opinion formed under such conditions 
cannot have due weight; and the force of the edu¬ 
cated world’s indignation and sympathy is, as it 
were, lost in a bog. 

The special aim of the “ Society of Friends of 



Russian Freedom,” is to alter this condition of 
affairs and to utilise in appropriate ways the force 
given by the sympathy both of that minority for 
whom the Russian cause is no longer a foreign 
cause and of the general mass of educated 

As a means towards the solving of this double 
problem the society issues a newspaper, as yet of 
small size, in the English language, in London and 
New York simultaneously. Of this paper, Free 
Russia, we wish to speak more in detail. It has 
existed for three and a half years and has now its 
own circle of five or six thousand readers, the 
number of which still increases. Notwithstanding 
the shortness of the period that it has existed, it 
has won for itself a certain position among the varied 
mass of periodicals, as the leading organ for Russian 
affairs. Its voice is beginning to be listened to both 
in England and on the Continent. This is very 
much for such a paper, but very little for the 
Russian cause. So far, the organ has only an 
educative value. It unites in practical work the 
friends of Russian freedom who are scattered every¬ 
where; it maintains in a certain circle interest in 
the Russian cause, and explains by current examples 
the character and significance of the Russian political 
crisis. All this prepares the soil; the real work; 
the real fight will begin only when the paper be- 


7 1 

comes a weapon for widespread and continual in¬ 
fluence on the great papers which are read not by 
thousands but by millions. 

The Russian autocracy cannot exist without the 
support of Western Europe; it is in constant need 
of money to fill up the holes in its budget; it needs 
alliances or friendly neutrality in order that its 
showy external politics may distract attention from 
the festering sores of its internal politics. In Europe 
public opinion rules everything, from the Exchange 
to Parliaments and Cabinets; and the press rules 
public opinion. For the Russian Government to 
maintain as far as possible in the European press 
a friendly feeling towards itself is not a sentimental 
desire but a matter of state necessity. And, indeed, 
notwithstanding its affectation of Olympian serenity, 
the Russian Government furtively tries to paralyse, 
by fair means or foul, all propaganda hostile to 
itself. It hires special literary agents, and, though 
needing every farthing of its resources, maintains 
foreign papers and bribes everything that is venal in 
the European press. When one of the English 
“ smart journalists,” then editor of the Russophile 
Pall Mall Gazette , went to St. Petersburg, lie was 
received with almost official honours. The doors 
of the Winter Palace were opened wide for him, and 
the Tzar himself favoured the clever journalist with 
a long personal audience which many a high Russian 



official, wishing to speak on matters of national im¬ 
portance, might have begged for in vain. 

If this is Olympian serenity, what is currying 
favour ? 

By winning over public opinion to the side of 
Russian freedom and the Russian people, and thus 
rendering it hostile to the Russian Government, we 
can strike the latter a direct, positive, and effectual 
blow. We have already struck one such blow by 
undermining at its very foundations the sympathy of 
the only sincere and trustworthy allies whom the 
Russian Government had in Europe, the English 
Liberals, who have now become our principal 
partisans. We can do more by extending our 
agitation to the Continent. 

There is one question over which the Russian 
Government has shown an extraordinary sensitive¬ 
ness and an excitability which verges on the absurd. 
We refer to the extradition of political offenders. 
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of roubles 
have been made clucks and drakes of to buy over 
officials, judges, and ministers in France, Switzer¬ 
land, and Germany; state interests have been 
recklessly sacrificed for the sake of extradition 
treaties; so vehemently does the Government 
long to put its claws upon some two or three 
extra “nihilists,” and have a chance to boast 
before the Russian people of the solidarity and 
support of its great western neighbours. 



Thanks to the agitation on English soil, and to it 
alone, not one lackey now dares to suggest such a 
treaty with England. In America our position is 
almost as strong as in this country. The attempt 
of the Russian Government to openly obtain an 
extradition treaty in 1886 has been ignominiously 
defeated by a little stirring up of American public 
opinion. The friends of the Russian Government 
dared not so much as to bring the matter before 
the Senate, and the project was quietly withdrawn 
by them. 

Any open attempt of this kind would have met 
with the same fate if it had been open to public 
discussion, be it only for a few weeks. The Russian 
minister in Washington and his partisans in the 
legislature knew that, and they resorted to an 
actual conspiracy in order to palm off upon the 
unprepared Senate a treaty which they would have 
repudiated if they had time to learn what it actually 
meant. The effect of the ratification of the treaty 
was not entirely harmful: the indignation it has 
called forth infused new life to our movement in the 
United States, and it gave Russia’s true friends a 
practical object for their agitation. But the trick 
would not have succeeded at all if our agitation had 
spread in the United States not only in breadth but 
in depth as in England, and the American legislature 
had among its members men like Mr. Allanson 



Picton, Mr. Byles, Mr. Chalmers Morton, and 
others, who need no explanation to understand and 
bring home to their colleagues the bearing of any 
such project. 

We have not been able to prevent the ratification 
of extradition treaties with Germany, Austria, and 
Switzerland. Our strength in these countries is not 
sufficient to produce any noticeable effect upon the 
public opinion. 

But we are convinced that when once we can 
obtain a firm foothold in those countries, we shall be 
able to annul the treaties and turn the temporary 
delight and triumph of the Russian Government into 
shame and disappointment. 

We can put more than one spoke into the wheel 
of our rulers if we trust at once in public opinion 
and in organised groups of persons of influence in 
the political, legal, and financial spheres of each 
separate country. 


But long before the Russian movement abroad 
can become an international political force, it will 
become a moral force of real influence on both sides 
of the Russian frontier. 

We render full justice to the stupidity and deaf¬ 
ness of our rulers. But we must avoid exaggerating 



anything, even the obscurantism of Russian Govern¬ 
mental circles. The Government has remained— 
and can afford to remain—indifferent to mere dis¬ 
approval, based on general ideas and considerations, 
or on facts of doubtful authenticity; but towards 
such things as the exposing of the Yakutsk massacre 
and the Kara brutalities it could not take up an 
attitude of indifference. It ordered an investigation, 
it tried to justify itself through the mouths of its 
higher officials. 

And yet there are committed in Russia every day 
—we might almost say every hour—outrages upon 
human rights and persons as monstrous as the 
Yakutsk massacre or the Kara tragedy. They may 
be less sensational, but they are as horrible, if only 
because their victims are not units, but thousands 
of innocent persons. At present all this is hidden 
away. But our friends in Russia only need to make 
a small effort, and these things could be upon every 

If one-tenth—nay, one-hundredth—of the shameful 
deeds that are committed in Russia in the dark, were 
brought to light, day by day, and pilloried before 
the whole educated world, neither the Russian 
Government nor any other could remain indifferent. 
Quite apart from the unconquerable sense of shame 
which is felt by even bullies of the purest water when 
actions of theirs are exposed which they themselves 



cannot deny to be disgraceful, another feeling begins 
to show itself—the fear of the reflected influence 
which such exposures must have upon public opinion 
in Russia itself. 

The assiduousness of the French Republic may 
to some extent paralyse the external results of the 
agitation abroad ; but its reflection within Russia 
cannot be paralysed, and will grow with its growth. 
We hope to follow up, in time, the publication of 
the English newspaper with editions in several 
European languages, Russian among the number. 
George Kennan, to whom belongs the lion’s share 
in the creation of the Russian movement abroad, 
has already suggested the simultaneous issue in 
America of Free Russia in English and in Russian. 

This, in our eyes, is the final aim and meaning of 
the agitation abroad. With the exception of France, 
the whole Western world sympathises with the 
cause of Russian liberation. As to France, we can 
do without her. The Anglo-Saxon race, England 
and America—not to speak of the other continental 
nations—forms a sufficiently broad support for any 
movement. Among the English and Americans we 
have thousands of fervent partisans who are willing 
to express their sympathy, not in words alone. Their 
only difficulty is to realise how and by what means 
they can help in a struggle of such peculiar character 
as that in Russia. To them we say : Help us to 



show the world a true and, as far as possible, 
complete picture of what is being done in our time 
in Russia. Light, if well concentrated and well 
directed, can traverse enormous distances with a 
scarcely perceptible diminution of intensity; and 
what is done in Russia can be clearly seen by a 
light thrown from London or New York. Let us, 
then, unite our efforts to throw this light upon 
Russia ; for if we can do that, sympathy from abroad 
will, to some extent, replace the publicity that is 
forbidden within the land. 

We, as Russians, have a right to invite foreigners 
to join in this irreproachable work. Foreigners have 
undertaken and will continue it, as it is fully in 
harmony with the spirit, customs, and ideas of free 

Our paper receives material help and expressions of 
sympathy from all parts of the earth, even from such 
far-off corners as South Africa, New Zealand, and the 
Malay Archipelago. In England and America there 
have gathered round the paper groups of friends, 
who, for determination, stedfastness, and serious 
attitude towards their work, might serve as an 
example to many Russian organisations. The 
support given to the movement already begun may 
increase to an unlimited extent if only the mass of 
sympathisers can see tangible proof that the work 
which they have undertaken is really serious, that 



their agitation may really become an actual power, 
that it does truly, to some extent, take the place of 
the right of publicity in Russia. Nothing but active 
support from Russia can convince them of this. 


We appeal to all opponents of the Russian auto¬ 
cracy without distinction of party—to socialists 
and Liberals alike. Our work stands outside of 
all parties ; it is devoted solely to the interests of 
Russian political freedom, which all Russian parties 
agree in desiring. 

Everything that affects the fate of Russia depends 
upon what is done in Russia by Russians. The 
work abroad is no exception to this rule. Nay, we 
may even say that the efficacy—the very possibility 
—of the movement abroad depends upon the exist¬ 
ence of an active protest in Russia. Who is 
interested in the question of, say, Turkish or Persian 
liberty, when the Turks and Persians in no way 
show themselves discontented ? An agitation abroad 
can grow and develop only if there is a parallel 
movement on Russian soil. The present foreign 
movement is nothing more than a reflection of the 
struggle which existed in Russia in the seventies and 
in the beginning of the eighties. The best help that 



our Russian comrades can now give to the foreign 
movement is to take part in the struggle which is 
coming into life in Russia. 

The beginning of the nineties promises to open a 
new epoch for the Russian revolutionary movement. 
In face of the utter incapacity of the Government to 
cope with the terrible misfortune which it has brought 
upon the land, the discontent in Russia is becoming 
wider and keener, and is spreading to spheres of 
society which up till now have been mere ballast in 
politics. The villages are already in a state of dis¬ 
turbance. But one need not be a prophet to foresee 
that there will soon be far greater disturbance in 
the towns, where the conscious opposition is concen¬ 
trated, and to which the irritated, starving crowds 
are flocking. Under such conditions the discontent 
must inevitably find active expression in one form or 
another; and, we hope, in a wider form than it has 
taken up till now. The fate of Russia depends, to a 
great extent, upon what takes place during the next 
two or three years. But, just because of the 
enormous importance of the moment, it would be 
an unpardonable blunder not to employ in the 
interests of the Russian movement an instrument 
of such large effect upon the consciousness of society 
as the free foreign press. The foreign press must 
complete and uphold our work ; it must increase the 
weight of every blow, thus rendering the victory 

8 o 


easier and shortening the trying period of struggle. 
And we must remember that every month, every 
week of the fight costs Russia hundreds of victims, 
ruins thousands of lives which might be preserved 
for a better future. 


“ March io, 1881. 

“ Your Majesty, — Although the Executive 
Committee understands fully the grievous oppres¬ 
sion that you must experience at this moment, it 
believes that it has no right to yield to the feeling of 
natural delicacy which would perhaps dictate the 
postponement of the following explanation to another 
time. There is something higher than the most 
legitimate human feeling, and that is duty to one’s 
country—the duty for which a citizen must sacrifice 
himself and his own feelings, and even the feelings 
of others. In obedience to this all-powerful duty 
we have decided to address you at once, waiting for 
nothing, as will wait for nothing the historical pro¬ 
cess that threatens us with rivers of blood and the 
most terrible convulsions. 




V “ The tragedy enacted on the Ekaterinski Canal 1 
was not a mere casualty, nor was it unexpected. 
After all that had happened in the course of the 
previous decade it was absolutely inevitable, and in 
that fact consists its deep significance for a man 
who has been placed by fate at the head of Govern¬ 
mental authority. Such occurrences can be ex¬ 
plained as the results of individual malignity, or 
even of the evil disposition of ‘ gangs ’ only by 
one who is wholly incapable of analysing the life of 
a nation. For then whole years, notwithstanding 
the strictest persecution, notwithstanding the sacri¬ 
fice by the late Emperor’s Government of liberty, 
even its own dignity ; notwithstanding the absolute 
sacrifice of everything in the attempt to suppress 
the revolutionary movement, that movement has 
obstinately extended, attracting to itself the best 
elements of the country, the most energetic and 
self-sacrificing people of Russia, and the revolu¬ 
tionists have carried on for three years a desperate 
warfare with the administration. 

“You are aware, your Majesty, that the govern¬ 
ment of the late Government could not be accused 
of a lack of energy. It hanged the innocent and 
guilty and filled prisons and remote provinces with 
exiles. Tens of so-called ‘ leaders ’ were cap¬ 
tured and hanged, and died with the courage and 
1 The place where Alexander II. was killed. 



tranquillity of martyrs; but the movement did not 
cease—on the contrary, it grew and strengthened. 
The revolutionary movement, your Majesty, is not 
dependent upon any particular individuals. It is a 
process of the social organism, and the scaffolds 
raised for its more energetic exponents are as 
powerless to save the outgrown order of things as 
the cross that was erected for the Redeemer was 
powerless to save the ancient world from the triumph 
of Christianity. The Government, of course, may 
yet capture and harry an immense number of indi¬ 
viduals, it may break up a great number of separate 
revolutionary groups, it may even destroy the most 
important of existing revolutionary organisations; 
but all this will not change in the slightest degree 
the condition of affairs. Revolutionists are the 
creation of circumstances of the general discontent 
of the people—of the striving of Russia after a new 
social framework. It is impossible to exterminate 
a whole people—it is impossible, by means of re¬ 
pression, to stifle its discontent. Discontent only 
grows the more when it is repressed. For this 
reason the places of slain revolutionists are con¬ 
stantly taken by new individuals, who come forth 
from among the people in ever-increasing numbers, 
and who are still more embittered, still more ener¬ 
getic. These persons, in order to carry on the 
conflict, form an association in the light of the 

8 4 


experience of their predecessors, and the revolu¬ 
tionary organisation thus grows stronger numerically 
and in quality with the lapse of time. This we 
actually see from the history of the last ten years. 
Of what use was it to destroy the Dolgushinzy, 1 
the Chaikovzy, and the workers of 1874? Their 
places were taken by much more resolute democrats. 
Then the awful repressive measures of the Govern¬ 
ment called upon the stage the terrorists of 1878 
and 1879. In vain the Government put todeatli the 
Kovalskys, the Dubrovins, the Ossinskys, and the 
Lisogubs. In vain it destroyed dozens of revolu¬ 
tionary circles. From among those incomplete 
organisations, by virtue of natural selection, arose 
only stronger forms, until at last there has appeared 
an Executive Committee, with which the Govern¬ 
ment has not yet been able successfully to 

“ A dispassionate glance at the grievous decade 
through which we have just passed will enable us to 
forecast accurately the future progress of the revo¬ 
lutionary movement, provided the policy of the 
Government does not change. The movement will 
continue to grow and extend, deeds of terrorist 
nature will increase in frequency and intensity, 
and the revolutionary organisation will constantly 

1 The famous groups of so-called propagandists, who vir¬ 
tually began the modern revolutionary struggle. 



set forth in the places of destroyed groups stronger 
and more perfect forms. Meanwhile the number of 
the discontented in the country will grow larger and 
larger; confidence in the Government on the part of 
the people will decline, and the idea of revolution, 
of its possibility and inevitability, will establish 
itself in Russia more and more firmly. A terrible 
explosion, a bloody hurly-burly, a revolutionary 
earthquake throughout Russia will complete the 
destruction of the old order of things. Upon 
what depends this terrible prospect ? Yes, your 
Majesty, ‘ terrible and lamentable ’! Do not take 
this for a mere phrase. We understand better than 
any one else can how lamentable is the waste of so 
much talent and energy, the loss in bloody skir¬ 
mishes, and in the work of destruction of so much 
strength, that under other conditions might have 
been expended in creative labour and in the develop¬ 
ment of the intelligence, the welfare, and civil life 
of the Russian people. Whence proceeds this 
lamentable necessity for bloody conflict ? It arises, 
your Majesty, from the lack in Russia of a real 
Government in the true sense of that word. A 
Government, in the very nature of things, should 
only give outward form to the aspirations of the 
people and effect to the people’s will. But with us 
—excuse the expression—the Government has de¬ 
generated into a mere camarilla, and deserves the 



name of a ‘ usurping gang ’ much more than does 
the Executive Committee. 

“ Whatever may be the intentions of the Tzar, the 
actions of the Government have nothing in common 
with the popular welfare or the popular aspirations. | 
The Imperial Government subjected the people to 
serfdom, put the masses into the power of the 
nobility, and is now openly creating the most in¬ 
jurious class of speculators and jobbers. All of its 
reforms result merely in a more perfect enslavement 
and a more complete exploiting of the people. It 
has brought Russia to such a pass that at the 
present time the masses of the people are in a state 
of pauperism and ruin, are subjected to the most 
humiliating surveillance, even at their own domestic 
hearths, and are powerless to regulate their own 
communal and social affairs. The protection of the 
law and of the Government is enjoyed only by the 
extortionists and the exploiters, and the most ex¬ 
asperating robbery goes unpunished. But, on the 
other hand, what a terrible fate awaits the man who 
seriously considers the general good ! You know 
very well, your Majesty, that it is not only social¬ 
ists who are exiled and prosecuted. Can it be 
possible that the Government is the guardian of such 
* order ’ ? Is it not rather probable that this is 
the work of a ‘ gang,’ the evidence of a complete 
usurpation ? 



“ These are the reasons why the Russian Govern¬ 
ment exerts no moral influence and has no support 
among the people. These are the reasons why 
Russia brings forth so many revolutionists. These 
are the reasons why even such a deed as Tzaricide 
excites in the minds of a majority of the people 
only gladness and sympathy. Yes, your Majesty! 
do not be deceived by the reports of flatterers and 
sycophants—Tzaricide in Russia is popular. 

“ From such a state of affairs there can be only 
two exits : either a revolution, absolutely inevitable 
and not to be averted by any punishments, or a 
voluntary turning of the Supreme Power to the 
people. In the interest of our native land, in the 
hope of preventing the useless waste of energy, in 
the hope of averting the terrible miseries that 
always accompany revolution, the Executive Com¬ 
mittee approaches your Majesty with the advice 
to take the second course. Be assured, so soon 
as the Supreme Power ceases to rule arbitrarily, 
so soon as it firmly resolves to accede to the 
demands of the people’s conscience and conscious¬ 
ness, you may, without fear, discharge the spies 
that disgrace the administration, send your guards 
back to their barracks, and burn the scaffolds that 
are demoralising the people. The Executive Com¬ 
mittee will voluntarily terminate its own existence, 
and the organisations formed about it will disperse, 



in order that their members may devote themselves 
to the work of culture among the people of their 
native land. 

“We address your Majesty as those who have 
discarded all prejudices and who have suppressed 
the distrust created by the actions of the Govern¬ 
ment throughout the century. We forget that you 
are the representative of the authority that has 
so often deceived and that has so injured the 
people. We address you as a citizen and as an- 
honest man. We hope that the feeling of personal 
exasperation will not extinguish in your mind your 
consciousness of your duties and your desire to 
know the truth. We also might feel exasperation. 
You have lost your father. We have lost not only 
our fathers, but our brothers, our wives, our children, 
and our dearest friends. But we are ready to 
suppress personal feeling, if it be demanded by 
the welfare of Russia. We expect the same from 

“We set no conditions for you; do not let our * 
propositions irritate you. The conditions that are 
pre-requisite to a change from revolutionary activity 
to peaceful labour are created not by us, but by 
history. These conditions in our opinion are two:— 

“ i. A general amnesty to cover all past political 
crimes; for the reason that they were not crimes, 
but fulfilments of civil duties. 



“2. The summoning of representatives of the 
whole Russian people to examine the existing 
framework of social and Governmental life, and 
to remodel it in accordance with the people’s 

“ We regard it as necessary, however, to remind 
you that the legalisation of the Supreme Power 
by the representatives of the people, can be valid 
only in case the elections are perfectly free. For 
this reason such elections must be held under the 
following conditions :— 

“ 1. Delegates are to be sent from all classes 
without distinction, and in number are to be pro¬ 
portionate to the number of inhabitants. 

“2. There shall be no limitations either for 
voters or delegates. 

“3. The canvass and the elections shall be 
absolutely unrestricted, and therefore the Govern¬ 
ment, pending the organisation of the National 
Assembly, shall authorise, in the form of temporary 

“ (a) Complete freedom of the press. 

“(6) Complete freedom of speech. 

“ (c) Complete freedom of public meeting. 

“ (d) Complete freedom of election programmes. 

“ This is the only way in which Russia can return 
to the path of normal and peaceful development. 

“ We declare solemnly, before the people of our 


native land and before the whole world, that our 
party will submit unconditionally to the decisions 
of a National Assembly elected in the manner 
above indicated, and that we will not allow our¬ 
selves in the future to offer violent resistance to 
any Government that the National Assembly may 

“And now, your Majesty, decide! Before you 
are two courses, and you are to make your choice 
between them. We can only trust that your 
intelligence and conscience may suggest to you 
the only decision that is compatible with the 
welfare of Russia, with your own dignity, and 
with your duty to your native land. 

“The Executive Committee.” 


From the Liberals of Moscow to Count Loris Melikoff, 
Chief of the Supreme Executive Commission. 

Now let us draw the reader’s attention to another 
document, coming from quite a different source, yet 
which, making allowance for the tone, resembles the 
former one not only in the final conclusions, but in the 
general ideas and views upon the conditions of the 
country, the appreciations of the evils from which it 
is suffering, and of the possible remedies, at times 
repeating almost the same expressions. This 
document is a letter or memorandum to the Tzar 
from a representative body of men, who may be 
fairly called the Liberal Executive. It refers to the 
same period as the letter of the Revolutionary 
Executive we have just quoted, that is to say to 
the period of the most fierce struggle between the 
terrorists and the autocracy. After having vainly 
tried the policy of reprisals, the Tzar Alexander II. 
appointed the “ Liberal ” Loris Melikoff to the post 
of virtual dictator. The moderate section of the 
opposition—the Liberals—resolved to try once again 
the effect of peaceful exhortations. Twenty-five of 




them, who were the most courageous and influential 
in their party, including professors of the universi¬ 
ties, leading barristers, well-known authors, and 
representative and able citizens of the old capital, 
drew up a memorandum which they all signed, and 
which one of them carried personally to Loris 
Melikoff in March, 1880, with the request to lay it 
before the Tzar. 

This interesting document, the publication of 
which we owe to the indefatigable zeal of Mr. 
George Kennan, throws a flood of light upon the 
attitude and views of the actual, though not officially 
recognised, representatives of the country. 

I will quote here its most characteristic passages, 
putting in parenthesis a few occasional words to 
make its meaning clearer to English readers. 

“ The unfortunate conditions of Russia at the 
present time,” so runs the memorandum, “ is due to 
the fact that there has arisen in Russian society a 
party [the terrorists] which acts with great irration¬ 
ality, and is carrying on a contest with the Govern¬ 
ment in a manner with which right-thinking people, 
no matter what their position or degree of educa¬ 
tion, cannot sympathise. This contest, which is 
seditious in its character, manifests itself in a series 
of acts of violence directed against the ruling 
authorities. The question is, how can the evil be * 
remedied ? 



“ In order to answer this question it is necessary 
first to uncover the real causes of the evil. The 
object of the present letter is to show: 

“ First. That the principal reason for the morbid 
form which the contest with the Government has 
taken is the absence in Russia of any opportunity 
for the free development of public opinion and the 
free exercise of public activity. 

“ Second. That the evil cannot be eradicated by 
any sort of repressive measures. 

“ Third. That the present condition of the people, 
many of whose most urgent needs are wholly 
unsatisfied, constitutes ample causes for dissatis¬ 
faction, and that this dissatisfaction, having no 
means of free expression, necessarily manifests itself 
in morbid forms. 

“ Fourth. That the causes which underlie this 
widespread discontent cannot be removed by Govern¬ 
mental action alone, but require the friendly co¬ 
operation of all the vital forces of society. 

“ The unnatural form which the contest with the 
Government has taken is due to the absence of all 
means for the free and orderly expression of public 
discontent. Dissatisfaction cannot be expressed 
through the press, since the press is closely 
restricted in its comments upon Governmental 
action. Questions of first-class importance are 
wholly removed by censorial prohibition from the 



field of newspaper discussion, and that at the very 
time when they most occupy public attention. 
Newspapers are not even allowed to publish facts, if 
sucli facts compromise or reflect in any way upon 
Governmental organs. 

“ Another reason for the development of ‘ under¬ 
ground ’ activity may be found in the enforced 
silence of public assemblies. The Government often 
treats with contemptuous neglect statements and 
petitions from sources fully competent to make them, 
and listens unwillingly to the representatives even 
of the most legitimate interests. There may be 
found in the reports of any provincial administra¬ 
tion records of innumerable petitions sent by the 
assemblies to the Government, which not only have 
never been granted, but have never been even 

“ The result of the state of things above set forth 
is the creation of an impression the Government 
does not wish to listen to the voice of the people; 
that it will not tolerate criticism, however just, of its 
mistakes and failures; that it despises the opinions 
of competent advisers, and that it has in view 
peculiar objects not related in any way to the 
necessities of the people. [This means the same 
as pp. 86 of the former letter.] 

“The impossibility of speaking out frankly com¬ 
pels people to keep their ideas to themselves, to 



cherish and nurse them in secret, and to regard 
complacently even illegal methods of putting them 
into practice [this means terrorism, revolution, &c.]. 
Thus is created one of the most important of the 
conditions upon which the spread of sedition de¬ 
pends, namely, the weakening of the loyalty of 
those who, under other circumstances, would regard 
sedition with abhorrence. 

“ There are in organised societies self-reliant 
opinions, which strike for free expression, an accu¬ 
mulated fund of energy, which seeks a field for 
activity. The more rigorously these impulses are 
repressed in their legal form the sooner they will 
take on a form which is not legal; the more ap¬ 
parent will become the lack of harmony between the 
strivings of society and the working methods of the 
ruling powers; and the more general and emphatic 
and consequently the' more infectious will become 
the illegal protest. When society has no means of / 
making known and discussing peaceably and publicly 
its wants and its necessities, the more energetic 
members of that society will throw themselves 
passionately into secret activity \i.e. terrorism, Revo¬ 

“At the present time there is a prevalent opinion 
that the existing evils can be eradicated only by 
repressive measures. Many people believe that 
before anything else is thought of, attention should 



be concentrated upon methods of repression, and 
that when such methods shall have attained the 
result expected from them, it will be time enough to 
proceed with the further development of Russian 
social life. But the evils cannot be remedied by 
repressive measures; and that is not all—repressive 
measures not only do not cure the evils which exist, 
but they create new evils, because they are inevitably 
accompanied by administrative license. License 
above creates license below. 

“ But aside from all this, repression cannot kill 
human thought. Convincing proof of this fact is 
furnished by the last reign (Nicholas I.) as well as 
by more recent years. The idea of popular repre¬ 
sentation, for example, has recently taken enormous 
strides forward and has made its way even into the 
far distant country places, notwithstanding the fact 
that public discussion or consideration of that idea 
has been absolutely forbidden. 

“ In the absence of a free press there arises an¬ 
other medium of inter-communication in the shape of 
the oral transmission of ideas from mouth to mouth. 

“ The most marked feature of the present situation 
in Russia is extreme dissatisfaction and urgent need 
of free expression. Educated society as a whole, 
irrespective of rank, position, or opinions, is in¬ 
tensely dissatisfied, and out of that dissatisfaction 
arises the existing agitation. 



“The first and most important of society’s un¬ 
satisfied demands is the demand for an opportunity 
to act. This demand even a constantly growing 
bureaucracy has been unable to silence. The old 
mechanism of Government proved to be incapable of 
directing the new and complex forces which were in 
operation. Only by the free and independent efforts 
of society itself could they be regulated and con¬ 
trolled. The striving of the people for an opportunity 
to act—to take part in the control of the national 
life [supremacy of national parliament]—has therefore 
become a phenomenon which the ruling power must 
take into account. Unfortunately, however, it is a 
phenomenon which the administrator regards with 
hostility. At the very moment when society is 
aroused both by the nature of its own reflections 
and by the circumstances of the time [revolutionary 
struggle] and seeks to participate in the life of the 
State, the administration throws obstacles in its 
way. If the ruling mechanism in its present form 
excludes from direct participation in the government 
a majority of those who have the first right and 
the strongest desire to take part in it, than that 
mechanism stands in need of reformation. 

“The Russian people are becoming more and 
more impressed with the conviction that an empire 
so extensive and a social life so complicated as ours, 
cannot be managed exclusively by officials. 




“ Another demand of society which at the present 
time is even less satisfied than the desire for political 
activity is the demand for personal security. The 
indispensable conditions upon which the very exist¬ 
ence of modern society depends are free courts, 
freedom from arrest, and search without proper 
precautions and safeguards, and responsibility of 
officials for illegal detention and imprisonment, and 
the due observance of all the legal formalities of 
public and controversial trial. 

“ In the almost unlimited province of political 
crime, where the features which distinguish the 
permissible from the forbidden are so difficult of 
definition (according to Russian official views, of 
course), and where, consequently, personal liberty 
should be surrounded by the greatest possible safe¬ 
guards, there exists a state of things which is in 
flagrant violation of the most elementary principles 
of justice. 

“ For the past ten years the police, upon trivial 
suspicion or upon a false accusation, have been 
allowed to break into houses, force their way into 
the sphere of private life, read private letters, throw 
the accused into prison, keep them there for months, 
and finally subject them to an inquisitorial examina¬ 
tion without even informing them definitely of the 
nature of the charges made against them. Many 
persons have been arrested in this way by mistake 
or under misapprehension. 



“ Still more out of harmony with the views of the 
people is the system of administrative exile and 
banishment without examination or trial. Whilst 
the spirit of the law and the first principles of 
justice forbid the infliction of punishment without 
previous trial, hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of 
persons annually are subjected to the severest 
punishment that can be inflicted upon an educated 
man, namely, banishment from home and friends, 
and that by a mere administrative order, based upon 
nothing. Persons exiled in this way have no means 
of knowing how long their punishment will continue. 
They are deprived even of the consolation which 
every common criminal has in knowing definitely 
the length of time he has to suffer. 

“ The discontent which pervades Russian society 
and which is the result of the mistaken policy of the 
Government in dealing with internal affairs, can be 
removed only by measures in which society will take 
part. The Government cannot accomplish the 
desired result alone. The only way to extricate the 
country from its present position is to summon an 
independent parliament— Sobranie —consisting of the 
representatives of the Zemstvos ; to give that parlia¬ 
ment a share in the control of the national life, and 
to securely guarantee personal rights, freedom of 
thought and freedom of speech. Such freedom will 
call into action the best capabilities of the people, 



will rouse the slumbering life of the nation, and will 
develop the abundant productive resources of the 

“The Russians are fit for free institutions, and «■ 
they feel deep humiliation at being kept so long under 
guardianship. The desire for such institutions, 
although forced into concealment and half-stifled 
by repressive measures, finds expression, neverthe¬ 
less, in the Zemstvos, in the assemblies of the nobles, 
and in the press. The granting of such institutions 
and the calling together of a representative body to 
preside over them, will give to the nation renewed 
strength and renewed faith in the Government and 
in its own future.” 



Whatever has been printed in English about the 
Russian political movement has been almost exclu¬ 
sively confined to the so-called revolutionists, or 
“ nihilists,” as they are often termed in this 
country—that is, to people who have lost all faith / 
in getting for the Russian people a brighter light 
and a better day by any other means but violently 
overthrowing the present regime . There was hardly 
anything except George Kennan’s “ Last Appeal 
of the Russian Liberals,” printed in the Century 
Magazine , dealing with any attempts to get the same 
by peaceful and “ legal ” means. One of the effects 
of this was that many people got the wrong impres¬ 
sion that in the whole mass of the Russian nation 
there was only a handful of revolutionary spirits who 
wanted political changes, while all the rest were 
quite satisfied by the existing regime. Of course all 
the interested and the disinterested supporters of the 
Russian Government tried to strengthen that im- 



pression. They maintained that every one within 
Russia was contented with the present form of 
government, the only malcontents and aspirants 
for political changes being a small set of trouble¬ 
some people full of perverted ideas and exulting in 
political crime. Some of these champions of a bad 
cause went so far as to assert that “ the Russian 
nation urged its Government to take energetic 
measures against the revolutionists.” 

In reality there is plenty of evidence to prove the 
contrary, although every difficulty is put in the way 
of the Russian people’s expressing their wishes freely; 
the press is gagged, political meetings are strictly pro¬ 
hibited; as to the local councils (zemstvos), assemblies 
of the nobility, town councils (doumas), and similar 
bodies, either the law or administrative practice very 
carefully and strictly limits their right of petitioning 
the Government to local or class wants. 

Notwithstanding that, however, the nobility and 
the zemstvos (as well as some of the doumas ) have 
from time to time profited by the opportunity, when 
Governmental discipline slackened, of expressing 
their hidden and intimate aspirations and views 
which do not show much satisfaction with the 
present state of things. So far back as the year 
1865 the nobility of the Moscow province presented 
the Tzar Alexander II. with a “most devoted” 
petition, entreating the monarch “to convene a 


representative assembly of the people of Russia to 
discuss the question of the wants common to the 
whole country.” To this the Tzar replied by 
proclaiming that “ no class of the population has 
the right to speak in the name of other classes, and 
to take on themselves the initiative in questions of 
which the solution depends exclusively on the Head 
of the State.” This step of the Tzar was really a 
breach of the privileges of the nobility, as solemnly 
acknowledged by the Russian monarchs. 

In 1866 the Government restricted the rights of 
the zemstvo to impose rates for local necessities on 
the wealthiest part of the population. On this 
occasion Count Andrew Shouvalov, a member of the 
St. Petersburg zemstvo , delivered at its session of 
1867 several forcible speeches in which, criticising 
the new law and its preparation without any parti¬ 
cipation of the zemstvos in it, he proposed to petition 
the Government that the grave questions raised by 
that law should be inquired into “by the combined 
efforts and common work both of the administration 
and of the whole Russian zemstvo .” “ I say * of the 

whole Russian zemstvo' ” accentuated the speaker, 
“ because, if discussed separately by different pro¬ 
vincial assemblies, the result may come to have the 
same disadvantage as now; that is, may be as one¬ 
sided as now.” The St. Petersburg local assembly 
accepted the Count’s proposal. But the Government 



answered the petition by closing for a time the 
zemstvo institutions of the province altogether, and 
by administrative exile of some of its members to 
eastern provinces. Side by side with this, the 
curtailing of even those very limited rights which 
were granted to the zemstvos when they were 
instituted was further continued. 

In the meantime the revolutionists gathered 
more and more strength, and gradually became so 
formidable that on August 4, 1878, the Government 
inserted in No. 186 of The Official Messenger an appeal 
to the peaceful class of society, asking for help 
against the “ revolutionary plague.” In November 
of the same year Alexander II. delivered a speech 
in Moscow, in which, addressing the representatives 
of different classes, he said, “ I count on your assist¬ 
ance in stopping the erring youths on that ruinous 
path into which some untrustworthy people try to 
lure them.” Five local assemblies (Kharkov, Pol¬ 
tava, Chernigov, Samara, and Tver) profited by the 
opportunity and answered the appeal by presenting 
the Tzar’s Government with memoranda, in which, 
while manifesting their thorough loyalty, they ex¬ 
pressed most explicitly the belief that there was no 
outlet from the difficulty but in granting personal 
security to citizens, political liberty, and representa¬ 
tive government. Only the Kharkov memorandum 
reached officially its destination, being presented by 


the governor of the province, through the ministry 
to the Tzar, and the consequence was that the 
discussion of the subject was declared by the 
Government to transgress the powers and aims of 
the zemstvos; all further transactions on the matter 
were prohibited, and the governors of the other four 
provinces, acting on instructions from St. Petersburg, 
declined to accept the further memoranda for presen¬ 
tation, at the same time forbidding them to be made 
public. In fact, besides the Kharkov memorandum, 
only two others (those of Tver and Chernigov) ever 
appeared in print, and that despite the Governmental 
veto. These documents are quite sufficient, however, 
to show clearly the views and claims of the peaceful 
and loyal part of the Russian Liberals of that 

The Chernigov zemstvo not only does not urge the 
Government to use coercion and terrorism against 
the revolutionists, but declines to take any part in 
it itself. “The late events have shown it clearly,” 
so runs the memorandum, “ that penal and coercive 
measures are powerless to stop the flood of subversive 
ideas. . . . And if punishment, which, according to 
our ‘ code,’ is more severe than in any other European 
legislation, proves to be impotent to abash the erring 
ones, this points to the existence of causes which are 
unavoidable and in which originate the lamentable 
facts.” ... Of these causes three are, in the esti- 


mation of the zemstvo, the most important (besides 
some others of minor importance), namely:— 

“ i. The present organisation of (Governmental) 
middle and higher class schools. 

“ 2. The lack of freedom of speech and the press. 
“3. The lack of respect to law in our society.” 
Then, after showing that all the three evils were 
created and maintained by the policy and unlawful 
practices of the Government itself, the memorandum 
concluded as follows: “Under the circumstances the 
provincial zemstvo of Chernigov states with a most 
unexpressible heavy heart that it is powerless to 
take any practical steps in the struggle with the 
evil, and considers it its duty to bring this to the 
knowledge of the Government.” 

The starting-point of the Tver memorandum was 
the same as that of Chernigov. It proceeded with a 
very definite charge against the Ministry of National 
Education. That Ministry, it is said, while preventing 
the zemstvo from taking any part in the direction of 
schools (which are in Russia all either in the hands 
or under the strictest control of the Government), 
manages the middle schools in such a way that one- 
eighth of the whole number of pupils leave them 
before completing their studies. As to those who 
enter the universities and similar institutions, “sus¬ 
picion and coercion await them, which make quiet 
study impossible, while calling forth discontent and 


irritation, conditions under which respect of law 
is hardly to be expected to be developed in our 

Disrespect to law is further cultivated by the 
Government among grown-up citizens. “ His Im¬ 
perial Majesty has granted to the Russian people 
the Z£wsft>0-self-government in which we cannot fail 
seeing the pledge of a peaceful and lawful national 
development. We are grieved to say, however, that 
the administration restricted the zemstvo's activity, 
and really deprived it of any real importance; even 
its most modest petitions on account of its dire needs 
remain unsatisfied, nay, unanswered. An indepen¬ 
dent, fair, prompt, and humane administration of 
justice is indispensable to secure to life its regular 
course, and to sustain the idea of the sacredness of 
law in the minds of the people—an idea without 
which no state can exist. Such a judiciary was 
granted us by his Majesty on the 20th of November, 
1864. But the administrative practice of the Govern¬ 
ment undermines the sacredness of justice; confidence 
in law, as maintained by inviolable decisions of the 
courts, is shaken; the court and the law cease to 
safeguard the citizen, who becomes exposed to the 
good or ill will of an arbitrary administration. All 
this is only preparing the soil for subversive ideas. 
Subversive ideas might find a formidable enemy in 
the press; but the press, as is well known, is also 



deprived of any possibility to treat social questions 
independently, and while the number of clandestine 
publications grows, the organs of the press are com¬ 
pelled to stop one after the other.” 

The memorandum of the Tver zemstvo concluded 
by stating that the Russian people felt it impossible 
to do anything against the internal evil unless the 
Government would remove the above-mentioned 
social conditions which originate that evil, and 
which it is altogether within the power of the 
Government to remove. “ His Imperial Majesty, 
with kind care for the welfare of the Bulgarian 
people, just liberated from the Turkish yoke, thought 
it indispensable to grant to that people a true self- 
government, personal security, independence of the 
judges, and liberty of the press. The zemstvo of the 
Tver province dares to hope that the Russian people, 
who bore all the burdens of the war with such a 
thorough readiness, with such love towards its Tzar, 
the liberator, will be allowed to enjoy the same bless¬ 
ings which alone can enable it to enter, in virtue of 
our monarch’s will, the path of gradual, peaceful, and 
lawful development.” 

It will be easily understood that the injustice, 
arbitrariness, and insincerity with which Alexander 
II. and his Government treated the Russian Liberals 
strengthened the position of the revolutionists. The 
latter proclaimed the Government hopeless, a Govern- 


ment that could not be trusted; and the manner in 
which the peaceful and loyal class of society was 
treated, that very class to which it applied itself in 
difficulty, justified the uncompromising attitude of 
the revolutionary party in the eyes of many who 
before thought differently. Among other reasons, 
we find here the explanation of the enormous activity 
the revolutionary party developed, notwithstanding 
the comparatively small number of its acknowledged 
adherents—an activity which culminated in the death 
of Alexander II. 

That tragedy raised again a burning question for 
the peaceful citizens of Russia who cared for the 
welfare of the community. They wanted to put 
an end to the deplorable internal struggle, they 
wanted to remain loyal to the Tzar and to do their 
duty as citizens; but they felt that neither was 
possible so long as the Government clung obsti¬ 
nately to bureaucratism and autocracy and sup¬ 
pressed aspirations towards liberty and self-govern¬ 
ment. At the same time they had no earnest trust 
of the Government’s good faith or grasp of the 
political situation. That is evident from speeches 
that were delivered in some of the zmstao-assemblies, 
convened soon after the 13th of March, 1881. 

In the Novgorod zemstvo one of its members, 
N. N. Nechayev, delivered a speech in which, 
among other things, he said: “ Hardly can we 

I 12 


doubt that it is our duty to speak out on this 
occasion. True, the literal meaning of the * zemstvo 
statutes ’ does not grant us that right. But it is 
impossible to be guided only by the literal meaning 
of the law at a moment of such historical importance 
as the present ; we have to elevate ourselves and to 
see what is the spirit of the law. According to the 
‘statutes’ we are empowered to deal only with local 
interests. But it is impossible to separate the wel¬ 
fare of the Tzar from any local interests ! Is not his 
welfare the most urgent interest of any locality and 
any person ? The historical moment we are living 
through is a horrible one ! Look around you, account 
to yourself for what is going on, and you will find it 
impossible to be silent. 

“ We have before our eyes a long series of en¬ 
deavours to fight the evil purely by means of police 
measures, without any co-operation with society. 
The utter uselessness of such a struggle and the 
impossibility of obtaining any real success on that 
path is nowadays evident to every one. There is no 
going further on that path; it is also impossible to 
listen to appeals to reaction, as that would mean 
renouncing the great principles which were be¬ 
queathed to us by the late monarch. So only one 
path remains open : society must be called upon to 
take part in the struggle with the evil, then there can 
be no doubt about the issue.” 


The Samara zemstvo was still more explicit and far 
less hopeful. 

On March 18, 1881, its president 1 proposed to 
present Alexander III. with an address, in which 
the feelings of grief at the sad end of the late Tzar, 
as well as congratulations on his own accession to 
the throne, were expressed. But the deputy, Zhdanov, 
opposed the motion. “ During the last few years,” 
he said, “ we have presented five similar addresses ; 
none of them led to anything, nor did they really 
express anything, because all that was in fact weighing 
on our souls was unrevealed and still remains so.” He 
was supported by two other speakers. The deputy 
Naoumov said, “We do not know what awaits us. 2 
It is better, therefore, to keep silence.” The deputy 
Noudatov said he now considered it a question 
whether he was right in signing the preceding 
addresses. “ Did we ever mention in them the 
over-burdening of the peasantry with taxes, the 
crushing of labour by capital, the lack of safeguards 
to personal liberty? No; we never did ! Well, then, 
it is better not to say anything at all—to be silent.” 

[The motion of the president was declined almost 

1 The presidents of the zemstvo assemblies are, according to 
law, the marshals of the local nobility, which is often not in 
accordance with the wishes of the assemblies. 

2 That is, what the attitude of the central Government towards 
the zemstvo will be.—F. V. 




We are unable to mention here all the zemstvos 
that at that time expressed themselves in favour of 
representative government and political liberty, as 
the publication of the accounts of the sessions were 
dependent upon the permission of the governor of 
the province. We know, however, that the zemstvos 
of Ryazan, Taurida, and Kazan, also the douma of 
Kazan and the nobility of Samara were among them. 

Loris Melikov was succeeded in his capacity as 
Minister of Internal Affairs by Count Ignatiev. On 
May 6, 1881, the new minister published a circular, 
in which he again appealed to society at large for 
help against the revolutionists, and in establishing 
order and peace in the empire. And again he 
received from many zemstvos the same reply: “We 
are powerless to do anything so long as we are 
exposed to the arbitrary and lawless practices of 
the administration; we are unable to help the 
Government unless it establishes a central body of 
representatives from the zemstvos .” 

Then Count Ignatiev convened a “ commission of 
experts ” chosen by the Government from the midst of 
the zemstvos , as well as from people who did not 
belong to them. He wanted to satisfy the Liberals 
with a mummy of representative government. But 
the Liberals would not be satisfied. In the next 
session of the Novgorod provincial assembly, for 
example, deputy E. I. Ragozin said that the 


members of the said commission “ cannot be re¬ 
garded as representing the zemstvos; that is only 
a fictitious representation, and in discussing the 
gravest questions which concern the zemstvos as 
well as the whole nation, the commission only 
creates misunderstanding among the population, 
because the opinions expressed in it are taken as 
being those of deputies elected by the people, while 
in reality the members of that body are chosen by 
the Ministry of Internal Affairs.” 

We have quoted sufficiently from the different 
speeches delivered in the assemblies of nobles or 
assemblies for local affairs, and also from the 
memorandums and resolutions passed by them. It 
is evident from these quotations, that that part of 
the Russian people, which holds in its hands the 
landed property of the empire, and to a large ex¬ 
tent the different branches of manufacture and trade, 
look with great dissatisfaction upon the present 
arbitrary Russian rule, feel deeply its outrages upon 
the population, and ask, whenever they can, for a 
habeas corpus , political liberty and representative 
government. So far as has transpired, at different 
times seventeen zemstvos in all, also two doumas 
(town councils), and the nobility of three provinces 
have made such declarations. Besides that, the 
Mayor of Moscow expressed similar wishes at a 
public banquet, which was the more significant, in 



that the speech was made at the coronation of the 
present Tzar, in the elder capital of the empire, 
which has always been considered the most loyal, 
and the mayor himself was a late professor of the 
Moscow University. But we are sure that these 
were not by any means all the bodies who have, 
though in courteous and loyal terms, condemned 
the present Governmental system in Russia, and 
asked for liberty and constitutional government. 

Now what was the attitude of the Tzar and his 
Government towards those just aspirations of his 
loyal and peaceful subjects? Foreseeing them, the 
zemstvos had not been given the right of electing the 
chairmen of their assemblies. The marshals of the 
nobility had been appointed as such, and made 
responsible for everything said by the deputies on 
the one hand, and on the other given the power of 
stopping any discussion. No report of the debates 
or declaration of any zemstvo can be printed without 
a special permit of the governor of the province. 
And if we look at the records of the proceedings of 
the local boards, we shall see that the vetos either of 
the chairmen or of the governors intervened nearly 
every time, when the questions discussed touched the 
vital points of national life. When, however, the 
Russian people contrived to make themselves heard 
notwithstanding all this gagging, then the Tzar in 
person showed his displeasure and declined to grant 


his people a fair hearing. Imprisonment and exile 
was awarded to loyalty combined with honesty and 
Liberalism, shown on several occasions by good and 
esteemed citizens. Our readers had an instance of 
that kind in the preceding chapter, and will find 
another in detail, if they read G. Kennan’s article 
“ The Last Appeal of the Russian Liberals.” 

Such was the attitude of Alexander II. and his 
son and successor has followed his example : tired 
of having to deal with separate instances of the 
“ breach of discipline ” in the zemstvos, he has “ re¬ 
formed ” them by reducing them to mere tools in 
the hands of the administration. 

We see now the fruit of it. The peaceful elements 
of society, after having kept for years to the fantastic 
idea of replacing the present working arbitrary mode 
of government by a representative one and at the 
same time remaining loyal to autocracy, came 
finally to the conclusion that the present autocratic 
Russian Government would never give up its un¬ 
natural prerogatives unless forced to do so by the 
pressure of popular wishes. We know that the 
political arrests in Russia carried out this year on a 
large scale and with precautions which showed that 
the Government apprehended unusual danger for 
itself, revealed the existence of a vast organisation, 
including people of a certain social standing, and 
of high education, and also of a number of young 


people studying in universities, acadamies, and 
other such educational institutions. This organisa¬ 
tion calls itself the “ Party of Political Right ” 
(Narodnaya Volya) the platform of which as set 
forth in its secretly printed manifesto is identical 
with the claims put forward at different times, partly 
or in full, by the different zemstvos , assemblies of 
nobility, town councils, and the Liberal press. The 
manifesto runs as follows :— 

“Manifesto of the ‘Popular Right ’ (Narodnoe 
Pravo ) Party. 

“ There are moments in the life of States when one 
question occupies the foremost place, thrusting into 
the background all other interests, however essential 
they may be of themselves—one question, upon the 
solution of which in one way or another depends the 
future of the people. Such a moment Russia is now 
living through, and such a question, determining her 
further destinies, is the question of political freedom. 
Autocracy, after receiving its most vivid expression 
and impersonation in the reign of Alexander III., 
has with irrefutable clearness proved its impotence 
to create such an order of things as should secure 
the country the fullest and most regular develop¬ 
ments and all her spiritual and material forces. 
The tendency of the present reign, expressed with 


a peculiar sharpness in the reforms (!) of the last 
few years, in the shape of the institution of rural 
authorities (Zemskie Nachalniki) and the limitation 
of the organs of self-government, as also in the 
systematic support afforded to capitalistic produc¬ 
tion, clearly shows that the Government continues 
to pursue inflexibly a policy of administrative arbi¬ 
trariness and class interests, wholly ignoring the 
perfectly matured questions of national and social 
life. The result of this policy has been the social 
demoralisation and the extreme decline of the 
country, to avert the consequences and development 
of which is no longer in the power of the Govern¬ 
ment. All who recognise the whole danger of the 
situation see no other issue than an abrupt turn in 
the direction of the interests of the masses, which is 
possible only with the immediate participation of 
the country in the Government—that is, with the 
replacement of autocracy by free representative 

“As there is not, and cannot be, a hope that the 
Government will willingly enter upon the path 
indicated, there is but one course remaining to the 
people: to oppose the force of organised public 
opinion to the inertness of the Government and the 
narrow dynastic interests of the autocracy. The 
party of Popular Right (‘ Narodnoe Pravo ’) has in 
view the creation of this force. 



“ In the opinion of the party, popular right includes 
in itself alike the conception of the right of the 
people to political freedom and the conception of its 
right to secure its material needs upon the basis 
of national production. The party considers the 
guarantees of this right to be— 

“ Representative government on the basis of uni¬ 
versal suffrage. 

“ Freedom of religious belief. 

“ Independence of the courts of justice. 

“ Freedom of the press. 

“ Freedom of meeting and association. 

“ Inviolability of the individual and of his rights as 
a man. 

“In view of the fact that Russia is not a homo¬ 
geneous whole, but a very complex political body, 
a necessary condition of political freedom is the 
recognition of the right to political self-determina¬ 
tion, for all the nationalities entering into its 

“ Thus understanding Popular Right, the party 
sets itself the task of uniting all the oppositional ele¬ 
ments of the country and of organising an active 
force which should, with all the spiritual and 
material means at its disposal, attain the over- 


throw of autocracy and secure to every one the 
rights of a citizen and a man. 

“ Being convinced that its aspirations fully corre¬ 
spond to the demands of the historical moment, the 
party hopes that its call will meet with a warm 
response in the heads of those who have not yet lost 
the feeling of human dignity, in whom autocracy 
has not eaten away the consciousness of their civil 
rights, who are weary of the yoke of violence and 
arbitrariness, and to whom are dear the commonweal 
and the highest ideals of truth and justice.” 

The “ Popular Right ” seems to have taken root 
in every part of the country and in every class of 
society, the official class included. Therefore the 
measures taken against it can hardly attain their 
end, or they have very often to be administered by 
the secret adherents of the party, and although the 
state police exult in their recent work, other signs 
indicate that by making several hundred arrests they 
have only touched the outskirts of the movement. 
The Tzar himself and his advisers seem to under¬ 
stand that they can no longer rely on their own 
bureaucracy. This is shown by the revival of an 
institution from the time of Nicolas I., a special 
committee to control all official appointments in the 
name of the Tzar. Of course it would be childish 
to imagine that such an institution which might 



have had some significance at the time when serf¬ 
dom existed in all its rigour, when life was simple 
and no public opinion existed, could prevent the 
development of a political movement at a time when 
the population has enormously increased, life become 
complicated and public opinion is no longer a myth. 
History cannot be stopped, and it is not impossible 
that even our generation will see yet great political 
changes in Russia. 


5H)e ©rcgijnnt iprcsjjf. 

unwin bhotiiehs,