* Prior to the Peasant Reform of 1861. --Tr.
the monarch. Peter I was also a heaven-sent autocrat, but the church to this day does not favour him, and Peter III was a similar autocrat who wanted to shear and educate our clergy -- what a pity he was not allowed to reign for two or three years! And if the present reigning autocrat, Nicholas II, decided to express his kindly feelings for the famous Lev Nikolayevich,[*] where would you then run to hide with your snares, your fears, and your threats?
"In vain you quote texts of the prayers which the clergy sends up for the tsar; this jumble of words in an incomprehensible jargon convinces no one. We live under an autocracy: if ordered to do so, you will write prayers thrice as long and even more expressive".
The second marshal's speech, as far as we know, was not published in our press. A hectographed copy, sent to us by an unknown correspondent last August, bore the following pencilled inscription: "Speech delivered by an uyezd marshal of the nobility at a private meeting of marshals called to discuss student affairs." We give the speech in full:
"For lack of time I shall express my views on this meeting of marshals of the nobility in the form of theses:
"The cause of the present disorders is known approximately: They are called forth, first, by the disordered state of our entire governmental system, by the oligarchic régime of the bureaucratic corporate body, i.e., by the dictatorship of the bureaucrats.
"This state of disorder in the bureaucratic governmental dictatorship reveals itself throughout the whole of Russian society, from top to bottom, in the form of general discontent that finds its outward expression in the general politicalism, a politicalism that is not temporary or superficial, but profound and chronic.
"This politicalism, the common disease of the whole of society, permeates all its manifestations, its functions and institutions, and for that reason necessarily the educational institutions, with their younger, more impressionable public, which is oppressed by the same régime of the bureaucratic dictatorship.
"It is recognised that the root evil of student disorders lies in the general disorganisation of the state and in the general disease resulting from this condition; however, in view of the spontaneous sentiments and of the necessity for checking the development of the local evil, the disorders cannot be ignored and efforts must be made at least from this side to diminish the frightfully destructive manifestations of the general evil in the same way as, when the whole organism is diseased and is in need of prolonged and radical treatment, it is necessary to take urgent measures to suppress local, acute, and destructive complications of the disease.
* Lev Tolstoi. --Tr.
"In the secondary and higher educational establishments, the evil of the bureaucratic regime finds expression principally in the substitution of human (youthful) development and education by bureaucratic training, which is combined with the systematic suppression of human individuality and dignity.
"The distrust, indignation, and anger against the officials and the teachers roused among the youth by all these manifestations are being transferred from the high schools to the universities, where, unfortunately, the universities being what they are at present, the youth encounters the same evils and the same suppression of human individuality and dignity.
"In a word, for the youth, the universities are not temples of learning, but factories for converting the impersonal student masses into the bureaucratic commodity required by the state.
"This suppression of human individuality (in the process of converting the students into an impersonal, pliable mass), which reveals itself in the form of a systematic and chronic suppression and persecution of all personality and dignity, frequently in the form of brutal violence, lies at the base of all student disorders that have erupted for several decades and threaten to continue with greater intensity in the future, carrying off the best of Russia's youth.
"All this we know -- but what are we to do in the present situation? How can we help the present acute situation with all its bitterness, with all its misery and sorrow? Give up all efforts? Abandon our youth to the mercy of fate, to the bureaucrats, and to the police, without attempting to help them -- wash our hands of the whole thing and walk off? This, to my mind, is the main issue, namely, what can we do to assuage the acute manifestation of this disease, now that we recognise its general character?
"Our meeting reminds me of a crowd of well-intentioned people who have entered a wild forest for the purpose of clearing it, and who stand in utter amazement at the enormity of the general task, instead of concentrating on any one special point.
"Professor K. T. has presented to us a striking general picture of the true state of affairs today in the universities and among the students, pointing out the various harmful influences from the outside, not only political, but even police influences, upon the unstable students; but we knew all this before, more or less, albeit not so clearly as we know now.
"He suggested a radical change in the whole of the educational system and its substitution by a better system as the only possible measure to adopt, but the professor remarked that this would probably require considerable time; and if we bear in mind that every particular system in the Russian state, as in every other state, forms an organic part of the system as a whole, then perhaps the end of that time is not foreseeable.
"But what must we do now in order at least to assuage the unbearable pain caused by the disease at the present time? What palliative can we adopt? Even palliatives that temporarily soothe the patient are frequently recognised as necessary. This is a question we have not answered. Instead of a reply, we have heard vague, wavering opinions
as regards the student youth in general, which, I might say, obscure the question even more. It is even difficult to recall those judgements, but I will endeavour to do so.
"Something was said about girl students: We gave them courses and lectures, and see how they thank us -- by taking part in student disorders!
"Now, had we presented bouquets or costly ornaments to the fair sex, such a reproach would be conceivable; to organise lecture courses for women, however, is not a favour, but the satisfaction of a social need. Women's lecture courses are not a caprice, but as much a socially necessary educational institution as are the universities for the higher development of the youth of both sexes. That is why full social and comradely solidarity exists between the male and female educational institutions.
"This solidarity, to my view, likewise fully explains the fact that the unrest among the student youth has also spread among the students in women's educational institutions. All the students are in a state of unrest, irrespective of attire, male or female.
"Someone else then spoke about the student unrest, saying that we must not be indulgent with the students, that their outrages must be halted by force. To this, in my opinion, the rational objection was made that even if the conduct of the students can be set down as outrageous, these are not fortuitous, but are chronic and deep-rooted and that therefore the resort to mere punitive measures, as past experience has shown, will prove unavailing. Personally, as I view the matter, it is highly questionable as to which side is responsible for the greatest outrage of all the outrageous disorders that excite our educational institutions and are bringing them to their doom; I do not believe the government's reports.
"This is the very point, that the other side is not listened to and cannot be listened to; it is gagged (the justice of my words, that in its reports the administration lies and that by its atrocious conduct it is chiefly responsible for the outrages, has not been fully confirmed).
"Reference was made to the outside influences of various revolutionary forces upon the student youth.
"Yes, those influences exist, but too much significance is attached to them. Thus, the factory owners, in whose factories these influences are mainly felt, also throw the blame for everything upon them, arguing that, were it not for those influences, there would be quiet and contentment and the peace of God in their factories; they forget or ignore all the legal and illegal exploitation of the workers, which brings about their impoverishment and rouses amongst them discontent and finally leads to disorders. Were it not for this exploitation, the revolutionary elements working from the outside would be deprived of the many grounds and causes that enable them to penetrate so easily into factory affairs. All this, in my opinion, may also be said with respect to our educational institutions, which have been transformed from temples of learning into factories for the manufacture of bureaucratic material.
"The power of the small but purposive handful of young men and women, of whom the professor spoke, to hypnotise and incite crowds
of young men and women, apparently not in the least so predisposed, to strikes and to disorders lies in the general, instinctive consciousness of the oppression weighing over the whole of our student youth, and in the generally unhealthy state of mind that is created by this oppression among student youth at all levels. This is what happens in all factories.
"I recall also that something was said about not flattering the students, about not showing them sympathy during disorders, since expressions of sympathy merely incite them to fresh outbreaks, to illustrate which argument a number of varying instances were cited. On this point I would say, first of all, that in view of the manifold confusion and the diversity of occurrences during disorders, it is impossible to point to single cases as illustrative of all, since, for every such case, numerous others of a directly contradictory character can be found. One can only dwell on the general indications, which I shall here briefly undertake to do.
"As we all know, the students are far from being coddled, not only have they not been scented with incense (I do not speak of the forties), but they have never enjoyed any particular public sympathy. At the time of the disorders, the public was either indifferent to the students or even more than negative towards them, throwing the blame entirely upon them, without knowing (or desiring to know) the causes of the disorders (credence was given, without the slightest doubt as to their veracity, to the government reports, which were hostile to the students, apparently for the first time the public has begun to doubt them). To speak, therefore, of flattering the students is quite beside the mark.
"Failing to find support among the intelligentsia in general or among the professors and the university officials, the students finally began to seek sympathy among the various popular elements, and we know that they succeeded more or less in finding it, they have begun gradually to gain the sympathy of the popular crowds.
"To be convinced of this, one need only note the difference between the present attitude of the crowd and that displayed towards the students at the time of the Okhotny Ryad assaults. Herein lies the great evil: the evil is not that sympathy is expressed, but that this sympathy is one-sided, that it is assuming a demagogic tinge.
"The absence of sympathy and support of any kind on the part of the settled intelligentsia, and the distrust this gives rise to, throws our youth inevitably into the arms of demagogues and revolutionists; it becomes their tools and, again inevitably, demagogic elements begin more and more to develop among the student youth, drawing it away from peaceful, cultural development and from the existing order (if it can be called order) and driving it into the enemy camp.
"We ourselves are to blame if our youth has ceased to have confidence in us; we have done nothing to deserve its confidence.
"These, I think, are the main ideas that were expressed at this meeting; the others (considerable in number, too) are hardly worth recalling.
"I come now to the conclusion. In gathering here, our intention was to do something to calm the passions of the present day, to lighten
the heavy burden of our youth today, not some time in the future, and we were defeated. Again the youth will be justified in saying and will say that today as in the past the peaceful, settled Russian intelligentsia neither can nor wishes to render it any assistance, to come to its defence, to understand it and to ease its bitter lot. The gulf between ourselves and the youth will become wider, and the youth will increasingly join up with the various demagogues whose hand is outstretched towards it.
"We were not defeated by the fact that the measure we proposed, a petition to the tsar, was not accepted; perhaps that measure was not a practical one (although in my opinion no attention was paid to it); we were defeated by the fact that we ourselves destroyed all possibility of applying any measure whatsoever to help our suffering youth; we have confessed our impotence, and once again we grope as before, in darkness.
"What remains for us to do?
"Wash our hands of the affair?
"This darkness constitutes the terrible and gloomy tragedy of Russian life."
This speech requires no lengthy comment. It too, apparently, belongs to a still sufficiently "oh, so gay" Russian noble who, either for doctrinaire or for selfish motives, expresses reverence for "peaceful, cultural development" of the "existing order" and waxes indignant with "revolutionists", whom he confounds with "demagogues". But this indignation, if examined closely, borders on the grumbling of an old man (old, not in age but in views) who perhaps is ready to recognise something good in the thing he is grumbling about. In speaking of the "existing order" he cannot refrain from remarking, "if it can be called order". He smoulders with resentment against the disorder caused by the "dictatorship of the bureaucrats", the "systematic and chronic persecution of all personality and dignity"; he cannot close his eyes to the fact that all the outrages are committed chiefly by the administration. He is sufficiently straightforward to confess his impotence and to recognise the indecency of "washing one's hands" of the entire country's misery. True, he is still frightened by the "one-sided" sympathy of the "crowd" towards the students. His aristocratically effeminated mind is haunted by the menace of "demagogy", and perhaps even by the menace of socialism (let us repay candour with candour). But it would be absurd to attempt to test the views and sentiments of a marshal of the nobility who is fed up with the disgusting Russian bureaucracy by the
touchstone of socialism. We have no need to be diplomatic either in regard to him or to anyone else; when we hear a Russian landlord, for example, storming against the illegal exploitation and the impoverishment of factory workers, we will not fail, incidentally, to say to him, Cast out the beam out of thine own eye, friend! We shall not for a moment conceal from him that we stand and will continue to stand for the irreconcilable class struggle against the "masters" of modern society. But a political alignment is determined, not only by ultimate aims, but also by immediate aims, not only by general views, but also by the pressure of direct practical necessity. Whoever clearly sees the contradiction between the "cultural development" of the country and the "oppressive regime of the bureaucratic dictatorship" must, sooner or later, be compelled by the very facts of life to come to the conclusion that this contradiction cannot be removed unless the autocracy is removed. Having come to this conclusion, he will unfailingly assist -- grumble, but assist -- the party that can rouse a menacing force against the autocracy -- a force that will be menacing, not only in the eyes of the autocracy, but in the eyes of all. In order to become such a party, we repeat, Social-Democracy must purge itself of all opportunistic pollution, and under the banner of revolutionary theory, basing itself on the most revolutionary class, it must carry its agitation and organising activity among all classes of the population.
Taking our leave of the marshals of the nobility, we say, Au revoir, gentlemen, our allies of tomorrow!