The article "The Heritage We Renounce " was written at the close of 1897 when in exile in Siberia. In 1898 it was published in the miscellany Economic Studies and Essays.
Otechestvenniye Zapiski (Fatherland Notes ) -- a literary-political magazine that began publication in St. Petersburg in 1820. From 1839 it became the best progressive journal of its day. Among its contributors were V. G. Belinsky, A. I. Herzen, T. N. Granovsky, and N. P. Ogaryov. Following Belinsky's departure from the editorial board in 1846, the importance of Otechestvenniye Zapiski began to diminish. In 1868 the journal came under the direction of N. A. Nekrasov and M. Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin. This marked the onset of a period in which the journal flourished anew, gathering around itself the revolutionary democratic intellectuals of
Russia. When Nekrasov died (in 1877), the Narodniks gained dominant influence in the journal.
Otechestvenniye Zapiski was continually harassed by the censors, and in April 1884 was closed down by the tsarist government.
The "peasant Reform" of 1861, which abolished serfdom in Russia, was effected by the tsarist government in the interests of the serf-owning landlords. The Reform was made necessary by the entire course of Russia's economic development and by the growth of a mass movement among the peasantry against feudal exploitation. In
its form the "peasant Reform" was feudal, but the force of economic development that had drawn Russia on to the capitalist path gave the feudal form a capitalist content, and this content became the more evident the less land was filched from the peasants, the more fully the land of the peasants was separated from that of the landlords, the less the tribute" (i.e., redemption) paid to the feudalists" ("The 'Peasant Reform' and Proletarian-Peasant Revolution." See present edition, Vol. 17). The "peasant Reform" marked a step towards Russia's transformation into a bourgeois monarchy. On February 10,1861, Alexander II signed a Manifesto and Regulations for the peasants, who had been freed from feudal dependence. In all, 22,500,000 serfs, formerly belonging to landowners, were "emancipated." Landed proprietorship, however, remained. The peasants' lands were declared the property of the landlords. The peasant could only get a land allotment according to the standard established by law (and even then by agreement with the landlord), and had to redeem it, that is, pay for it. The peasants made their redemption payments to the tsarist government, that had paid the established sums to the landlords. Approximate estimates show that after the Reform, the nobility possessed 71,500,000 dessiatines of land and the peasants 33,700,000 dessiatines. The Reform enabled the landlords to cut off and appropriate one-fifth or even two-fifths of the land formerly cultivated by the peasants.
The Reform merely undermined, but did not abolish, the old corvée system of farming. The landlords secured possession of the best parts of the peasants' allotments (the "cut-off lands," woods, meadows, watering places, grazing grounds, and so on), without which the peasants could not engage in independent farming. Until the redemption arrangements were completed the peasants were considered to be "temporarily bound," and rendered services to the landlord in the shape of quit-rent or corée service.
The Russian revolutionary democrats, headed by N. G. Chernyshevsky, criticised the "peasant Reform" for its feudal character. V. I. Lenin called the "peasant Reform" of 1861 the first mass act of violence against the peasantry in the interests of nascent capitalism in agriculture -- the landlords were "clearing the estates" for capitalism.
For material on the 1861 Reform, see F. Engels' article "Socialism in Germany" (Die Neue Zeit, Jg. X, Bd. I, 1891, H. 19) and V. I. Lenin's "The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Downfall of Serfdom," "The Jubilee" [Transcriber's Note: This probably refers to Lenin's "Apropos of an Anniversary". -- DJR]," "The 'Peasant Reform' and Proletarian-Peasant Revolution" (see present edition, Vol. 17).
The Regulations of February 19, 1861, were legislative acts on the abolition of serfdom in Russia.
Engels describes Skaldin as a moderate conservative in his article
"Soziales aus Russland" ("On Social Relations in Russia"). Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, p. 58.
When speaking of the ideological "heritage" of the 1860s Lenin was compelled, for censorship reasons, to make reference to Skaldin. Actually Lenin considered Chernyshevsky to be the principal representative of this "heritage." In a letter to A. N . Potresov dated January 26, 1899, from exile in Siberia, Lenin wrote: ". . . nowhere, however, do I suggest accepting the heritage from Skaldin. There can be no doubt that it should be accepted from other people. I think that the footnote on p. 237" (p. 505 of the present volume), "in which I had Chernyshevsky in mind and explained why it was not convenient to take him for purposes of comparison, will make it easier for me to defend myself (against possible attacks by opponents)."
Zemledelcheskaya Gazeta (Agricultural News ) -- organ of the Ministry of State Properties (from 1894 -- of the Ministry of State Properties and Agriculture); appeared in St. Petersburg from 1834 to 1917.
Cycle cultivation -- an enslaving form of labour-service rendered to the landlord by the peasant as rental for land obtained from him. The landlord lent the peasant land or made him a loan in cash or kind for which the peasant undertook to cultivate a "cycle" using his own implements and draught animals: this meant cultivating one dessiatine of spring crops and one of winter crops, occasionally supplemented by reaping a dessiatine of crops.
Vestnik Yevropy (European Messenger ) -- a monthly historico-political and literary magazine, bourgeois-liberal in trend. Appeared In St. Petersburg from 1866 to 1918. The magazine published articles directed against the revolutionary Marxists. The magazine's editor and publisher until 1908 was M. M. Stasyulevich.
These words are from Skaldin's book, In the Backwoods and in the Capital, St. Petersburg, 1870, p. 285.
Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, Moscow, 1955, p. 110.
N. Kamensky was one of the pseudonyms used by G. V. Plekhanov. The article referred to is his "Materialist Conception of History," published in 1897 in issue No. 12 (September) of Novoye Slovo.
Schmollers Jahrbuch -- its full title is Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im Deutschen Reich (Legislative, Administrative and Economic Yearbook for the German Empire ) -- a magazine dealing with political economy, published from 1877 onwards by the German bourgeois economists and Katheder-Socialists, F. Holtzendorf and L. Brentano, and from 1881 by G. Schmoller.
Nedelya (Week ) -- a liberal-Narodnik political and literary newspaper. Appeared in St. Petersburg from 1866 to 1901. Was opposed to fighting the autocracy, and advocated the so-called theory of "minor matters," i.e., appealed to the intelligentsia to abstain from revolutionary struggle and to engage in "cultural activity."