The article "Gems of Narodnik Project-Mongering " was written at the close of 1897 during Lenin's exile in Siberia. He wrote it for Novoye Slovo, being unaware that the government had closed that magazine down in December 1897.
In 1898 Lenin included the article in his miscellany Economic Studies and Essays.
The "disciples " -- the term used in the 1890s as a legal way of referring to the followers of Marx and Engels.
In this passage Lenin refers to the historico-ethical school in political economy that grew up in Germany in the 1870s. This school attached great importance to ethical (moral) principles in economic life. Its exponents were G. Schmoller, L. Brentano and other Katheder-Socialists.
Marx and Engels, On Britain, Moscow, 1953, p. 303.
Korobochka -- a character in N. V. Gogol's Dead Souls. A petty landlady, tight-fisted, pettifogging and stupid, she was "block-headed," to use Gogol's expression. The name Korobochka has become an epithet indicating petty miserliness and stupidity.
Lenin refers to the period of absolute police despotism and gross licence of the military associated with the name and activity of A. A. Arakcheyev, the powerful favourite of Paul I and Alexander I. Characteristic of the Arakcheyev regime were the brutal measures employed against the revolutionary movement of the oppressed masses and against all free thinking.
Arakcheyev was particularly notorious for having established military settlements designed to cheapen the cost of maintaining the army. Besides fulfilling their military duties, the settlers had to maintain themselves by farmwork. Unparalleled brutality, rigorous discipline, and regulation of the settlers' lives down to the smallest details prevailed in the military settlements.
Mercantilism -- a system of economic views and the economic policy current in a number of European states from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century to assist the accumulation of capital and the development of commerce. The advocates of mercantilism identified the nation's wealth with money, their opinion being that the public wealth is contained exclusively in money in the shape of precious metals. The states that adhered to the mercantile system tried to regulate trade in such a way as to ensure that exports exceeded imports. With this aim, they pursued a policy of protecting home industry by regulating the import of foreign goods through the imposition of tariffs, the granting of subsidies to the manufactories, and so forth. The mercantilist economic policy helped to intensify the exploitation of the working people.
This was the expression used by P. B. Struve to describe the plan suggested by Guryev, a member of the Scientific Committee of the Ministry of Finance, in an article "Current Problems of our Country's Life," signed P. B. (see Novoye Slovo, No. 7, April 1897, p. 238).
By the great Russian utopian is meant N. G. Chernyshevsky (1828-89), the great Russian revolutionary democrat, scholar, writer and literary critic. One of the outstanding predecessors of Russian Social-Democracy, Chernyshevsky was the ideological inspirer and leader of the revolutionary-democratic movement in Russia in the 1860s. A utopian socialist, he considered the transition to socialism possible through the medium of the peasant community. At the same time, as a revolutionary democrat he was able to exert a revolutionary influence on all the political events of his day, overcoming all the obstacles and obstructions of the censorship and advocating the idea of a peasant revolution, the idea of a mass struggle to overthrow all the old authorities (V. I. Lenin, "The 'Peasant Reform' and Proletarian-Peasant Revolution." See present edition, Vol. 17). Chernyshevsky wrathfully exposed the feudal character of the "peasant" Reform of 1861, and called on the peasants to revolt. In 1862 he was arrested by the tsarist government and was confined to the Peter and Paul Fortress, where he spent nearly two years, after which he was sentenced to seven years penal servitude and to permanent exile in Siberia. He was only allowed to return from exile towards the end of his life. To the end of his days Chernyshevsky was a passionate fighter against social injustice, against all manifestations of political and economic oppression.
Chernyshevsky's services in developing Russian materialist philosophy were tremendous, his views being the summit of pre-Marxist materialist philosophy. His materialism was of a revolutionary and active character. He vigorously criticised idealist theories, and tried to refashion Hegelian dialectics in the materialist spirit. Magnificent specimens of a dialectical approach to the study of reality are to be found in Chernyshevsky's writings on political economy, aesthetics, art criticism, and history.
Marx made a study of Chernyshevsky's works, had a very high opinion of them, and called Chernyshevsky a great Russian scholar. Lenin wrote of him that he was "the only really great Russian writer who, from the fifties up to 1888, succeeded in keeping to the level of an integral philosophic materialism. . . . But, continued Lenin, "due to the backwardness of Russian life, Chernyshevsky was unable to, or rather, could not, rise to the heights of the dialectical materialism of Marx and Engels" (V. I. Lenin, Materialism and Empiriocriticism. See present edition, Vol. 14)
Chernyshevsky's literary and critical works exerted tremendous influence on the development of Russian literature and art. His novel What Is To Be Done? (1863) helped to politically educate more than one generation of revolutionaries in Russia and other countries.
Sever (North ) -- a weekly literary and art journal that appeared in St. Petersburg from 1888 to 1914.
Gogol's young lady -- Agaphia Tikhonovna, a character in Gogol's comedy Marriage.
Novus -- a pseudonym of P. B. Struve.
Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party. Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 38.
Further on Lenin quotes this passage in greater detail (see footnote to p. 487 of the present volume).
Lenin refers here to page 39 of the magazine Novoye Slovo, No. 9, June 1897, which contains a passage from his essay "Characterisation of Economic Romanticism" (see p. 229 of the present volume).
Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, pp. 504-06.
Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 334.