30 CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
groms have taken place after the fall of Czarism and have assumed the character of terrible disasters. Dr. Pasmanik, in his book, throws much light on this subject.
What was once a blot on Russia has now, unfortunately, occurred in other countries in forms incomparably more vile.
The staunch patriotism of many exiled Jews and their loyalty to the Monarchy would, probably, shock their fervent defenders against the alleged "attrocities and horrors of Czarism."
Lastly I quote a sentence from a recent book by M. Leon Leneman: "If, in the days of the Czars the Jews accounted for 4.1 per cent of the entire population of Russia, they now represent 1.48 per cent." (a) This quotation requires no comment.
Russia, like every great state, committed many errors both in her politics and her system of administration. Nevertheless, the overall influence of the Empire was one of liberation, not oppression. Religious, cultural and intellectual freedom was enjoyed by the peoples under the sceptre of the Czars. There even was a time when Russia was a haven for the religiously persecuted in Central Europe, a haven, where many a Dane and German found safe refuge. In more recent times it was the turn of the Serbians, Bulgarians, Rumanians and Greeks. It is also gratifying to realize that the Jesuits were admitted to Russia when their order was the object of persecution in many countries.
As a general rule the amount of freedom enjoyed by minorities corresponded to their loyalty. The principle of a single, ofBcial language (a principle applied in all civilized nations) was not an obstacle to the free development of individual native languages and traditions. They were encouraged by the government, as a matter of self interest. Budding national life was protected against the influence of stronger neighbours. Thus, the modest beginnings of Finnish literature were shielded against Swedish ascendency; the Esthonians and Latvians were
(a) "La Tragedie des Juifs en U.R.S.S.," Paris, 1959. p. 19.
OUTLINE OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE STATE 31
likewise protected against the germanization of the Barons, supported by Prussia. In the Caucasus Georgian and Armenian literature were upheld as a check to Turkish infiltration.
Under the Czars "Pax Rossica," more lustrous and greater than "Pax Romana" reigned over vast expanses, stretching from the Vistula to the mountains of Manchuria, over lands and nations long troubled in the past by bloodshed, dissensions, invasions and wars.
(1) The reigning heads of Russian principalities bore the title of "Veliki
Kniaz," Grand Duke. In 1547, after the fall of Byzantium, the Grand Duke of
Moscow assumed the title of Czar, (Caesar).
Dating as far back as the 10th century, Grand Dukes, Czars and, later, Emperors all followed the same principles of statecraft, to a degree which was quite remarkable. They were like talented pupils of great masters, who begin by copying their teachers and later become artists in their own right. Among these rulers Peter the Great stands out like a modern colossus, linking in his giant personality the past and the future of Russia.
(2) This large diversity of races is due to the fact that Russia lay across
the path of the Great Migration, which, fifteen centuries ago, determined
the destinies of Europe and of the lands bordering the Mediterranean. Every
race that trod this path from East to West shed some of its numbers in
Below is a summary of the principal races and nationalities which made up the population of Russia. The figures are based on the census of 1897, the last under the Empire.
Moldavians & Rumanians
CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
Chaldeans & Arabs
of Slav population: Russians:
Poles and other
(3) Russia was the largest continental empire and covered an area of over
14 million square miles, exclusive of inner seas. This area represents one
sixth of all the land surface of the world, and is three times as large as that of
the United States.
(4) Polish politicians and biographers describe Mickiewicz as an inveterate
enemy of Russia and Czarism. This description is both tendentious and un
truthful. Boia-Jelensky, a fearless Polish critic, has revealed the true feelings
of the poet in a series of articles, published in 1929, by the "Wiadomosce
Literackie" (Literary News) of Warsaw. We are told that every effort was
made to destroy documentary evidence, which might in any way compromise
Mickiewicz, the "Russophobe/' For example, he quotes an autographed letter,
accidentally preserved, in which the poet sympathetically describes the en
thusiastic welcome given to Nicholas I by the population of Warsaw.
"The spiritual life of Mickiewicz was much influenced by the years he spent in Russia," writes Boia-Jelensky.
"For this native of Kovno and Wilno, Russia was Europe. He was dazzled by the cultural life of Russia far more than by her might. The poet lived in surroundings in which his genius could freely develop. If Mickiewicz, after leaving Kovno, had gone to Warsaw, his welcome would not have been as warm as in Russia, where this humble provincial school-teacher was received with open arms."
He was frankly ironical about Warsaw. In one of his letters he wrote: "I am grieved by the terrible stagnation of your Polish literature." Boia-Jelensky draws attention to the generous financial assistance given to the poet by his Russian friends in later years, when he was destitute in Paris. The proud Mickiewicz accepted it gratefully, thus proving the warmth and intimacy of his relations with Russian society.
In his preface to the third edition of "Grandfathers," published in Russia,
OUTLINE OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE STATE 33
Mickiewicz renders homage to the name of "the Monarch who, of all the Czars of the earth, harbours within his realm the greatest number of races and peoples." "Under the Czar, who is their father, all are entitled to an equal share, not only of the good things of the earth, but also of things moral and spiritual. May the name of this father to so many peoples be glorified by every generation and in every tongue."
(5) The position of the Jews was different earlier in our history. In the 16th and 17th centuries foreigners were rare in Russia. The majority lived in settlements outside Moscow and did not mix with the native population. There were very few Jews and only vaguely defined regulations limited their freedom of movement throughout the country.
In the 18th century under Peter the Great all existing restrictions were removed and foreign Jews were, in fact, encouraged to settle in Russia. Some were brought over by Peter after his travels abroad, for instance, a certain Shapiro, who later became Baron Shafirov; the Czar married off Shapiro's daughters to members of the Russian nobility. Administrative freedom for the Jews lasted well into the 19th century.
THE FOUNDATIONS OF CZARISM
A popular commonplace would have us believe that the Government of former Russia was anti-democratic, reactionary and opposed to progress.
This is what the late Professor Ch. Sarolea, of Edinburgh University, an authority on Russian history and one possessing first hand knowledge of the country, has to say on the subject.
"It would be wrong to say that the Russian government was anti-democratic. On the contrary, the Russian monarchy, like that of St. Louis, was essentially democratic. It was brought into being by the will of the people, while the dynasty of the Romanovs was placed on the throne by a constituent representative assembly of the entire nation." (a)
In 1612, the words addressed by Pojarsky to the representatives of Russian cities, assembled to elect a new monarch (1) correctly interpreted the feelings of the country:—
"We know that unless we possess a monarch we can neither fight our common enemies—Poles, Lithuanians, Germans or our own brigands, who threaten the State with further bloodshed. Without a monarch how can we maintain relations with foreign states, or ourselves preserve the stability and strength of our country?"
In the eyes of the nation the restoration of the monarchy was a guarantee of internal peace and external independence.
(a) Ch. Sarolea. "The English Review," June, 1925.
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 35
Pojarsky's words were repeated in the solemn act of election of the first Romanov (1613). In the oath of allegiance to the new dynasty the states of "all the Russias" promised to sacrifice body and soul in the service of their monarch against enemies from without, "Poles, Germans and the Crimeans," and to fight to the death the leaders of any rebellion (b).
The same democratic principle, i.e., the freely expressed will of the people, which placed a Romanov on the throne in 1613, today brings a new President of the United States to the White House.
The principles of monarchy and democracy were not opposed to each other in Russia and antagonism between them was not a normal feature of our political life. (2)
To quote Professor Sarolea, once again:—
"On closer examination we find that the Russian State was a vast federation of fifty thousand small peasant republics. Each busy with its own affairs, obedient to its own laws and even possessing its own tribunals of "Staro-stas" (Elders). The Russian State was not undemocratic— on the contrary if anything, there was too much democracy.
. . . The reason, why the popular masses so easily fell prey to the Bolshevist tyranny lies mainly in the exaggerated spirit of egalitarianism supported and encouraged by the monarchy."
This view, though exaggerated at first sight, is fundamentally correct, as we shall see in our next chapter.
At the beginning of this century there was no clear cut division between the classes in Russia: no definite ruling class, an undefinable middle class and no properly consolidated "social elite."
(b) Taranovsky. "Sobornoe Izbranie" (Election by the Constituent Assembly of all the Russias) St. Petersburg, 1913. (in Russian)
CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
This lack of distinction between the classes was one of our major weaknesses, especially in the second half of the 19th century, at a time when it adversely affected the social structure of the country. We are told that we were anti-democratic. But is it realized that for a son of the people the access to the highest posts of government was easier in Czarist Russia than anywhere else in the world? Far from being an exclusive cast, Russian nobility (3) was constantly changing in composition, owing to a steady influx of government servants of varied origin. The number of ministers of state, generals, scholars and scientists, of peasant stock or humble origin, was very large, especially after the reforms of Alexander II. (4) Our upper classes were less isolated than elsewhere, while the absence of dividing lines between the classes made the "social ladder" easier to ascend. At the outbreak of war, in 1914, our social structure was still in a state of flux and was not as yet firmly based after the great reforms of 1864. The absence of a solidly established social edifice, steeped in tradition, was the price paid for the privilege the state offered its humblest subjects of attaining the highest posts in the government. (5) The First World War and the terrible events by which it was followed struck at a social structure not yet moulded into a conscious whole and, consequently, unprepared to offer a cohesive and resolute resistance.
What was the attitude of the monarchy toward progress? In the article, already quoted, Professor Sarolea says:—
"Real progress was given greater encouragement under the Russian monarchy than in most other European countries. The monarchy corresponded to what Montesquieu and Voltaire called "Enlightened Absolutism" and led, rather than followed public opinion. Political unrest in Russia was usually the result of too rapid advances. Everything had to be improvised and the sovereigns were first in their desire to make up for lost time. It often happened that Czarism in the space of a few years tried to achieve
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 37
results which it would have taken other countries generations to attain. Centuries went to the building of Paris and Rome: as compared to them St. Petersburg is "a mushroom town." It took several generations to create the Louvre. The huge Winter Palace on the Neva was built in a few months. Between 1860 and 1870 Russia witnessed greater reforms than any other country at any given period in the history of Europe. These reforms were far more radical than those which followed the French Revolution: serfdom was abolished by a stroke of the pen; the legal apparatus of the country was recast; a network of railways was laid before the building of roads was undertaken; development of industry was encouraged and its expansion was prodigious."
I should like to emphasize that Czarism was the truest expression of social monarchy, or better still, of a social power. Being completely independent it rose above the interests of the individual, party or class and it should be noted that after the revolution of 1848 a similar conception became increasingly popular in Europe. The Czars were thus able to enforce equity among their subjects to the greatest good of the nation as a whole. For example, in order to satisfy an ideal of social justice the State did not hesitate, in 1861, at the time of the liberation of the serfs, to endow them with adequate holdings made up of land requisitioned from private landowners: an act of admirable social radicalism that no non-revolutionary government had up to then dared to enforce. Let me add that, within certain limits, the liberty of the press, the right of political association and assembly, were more liberally interpreted in Russia, than in many Western countries of today. This, like so many other statements about Russia of yesterday will, I am regretfully sure, surprise many of my readers. (6)
The few facts I have enumerated should, I hope, be useful in laying a foundation for a correct appreciation of the character of the Russian ancien regime.
CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
Russia is supposed to have been governed by a parasite and corrupt administration.
The Russian administrative machine was a centralized bureaucracy and suffered from many of the defects inherent in this form of administration. No one was blind to these shortcomings, least of all the authorities, and certain defects were even branded in masterpieces of literary satire, like Gogol's "Inspector General." Any form of government by bureaucracy is prey to abuses of one kind or another and it is typical that, whereas the opening performance of Gogol's play was acted in the presence of the "reactionary" Czar, Nicholas I, who personally congratulated the author, it was banned in Berlin. Apparently the barbs of Gogol's satire struck nearer the mark in Prussia than they did at home. (7)
If we consider the size of Russia, our administrative apparatus was certainly no worse and even better than that of other nations, faced with similar problems of government.
The fact that there were fewer civil servants than in the majority of other countries, is an important point to keep in mind. According to the last general census, analyzed in 1906 by Professor Mendeleev, ("Toward a Knowledge of Russia") the total number of government employees amounted to 336,000. This figure comprises the entire administrative apparatus, elected officers of local government, the judiciary and the police. France at the same date budgeted for 500,000 state employees.
Comparing these two figures, we cannot but wonder at the amount of work the average Russian civil servant was expected to shoulder. Count A. Saltykov, in a remrakably lucid preface to Professor Mendeleev's book (a) states that, in his opinion:
"The Czarist administration was honest, well organized, competent and not arbitrary in its dealings with the public. It was expeditious, punctual and conscientious, command-
(a) Munich, 1924, in Russian.
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 39
ing undisputed authority; the structure of the governmental machine was flexible and allowed for adaptation to modern requirements. All in all the Czarist regime was less formal, less bureaucratic than that of many other European states."
Some branches of the administration were, admittedly, antiquated and not properly equipped to deal with changing conditions: among them we may point to the police. The numerical insufficiency of the force was patent and, ultimately, this weakness partly explains the success of the uprising which preceded the Revolution. The police appropriation in the budget was ridiculously low and the number of policemen, per head of population, very small in comparison with other countries, seven times less than in England and five times less than in France. (8)
In a country the size of Russia this dearth of police officers was certainly striking. It is partly explained by the great prestige enjoyed by the Czarist authority throughout the nation, as well as by the high individual qualities and devotion to duty of individual members of the force, so valiantly proved in the streets of the Capital during the stormy days of March, 1917. Contrary to foreign ideas on Russia, founded on propaganda spread by our revolutionaries, the Czarist government relied less on sanctions to uphold and enforce its authority than many of the states in the West.
Our administrative machine was founded by Speransky, a minister of Alexander I and Nicholas I. It was modeled on the centralized system of the French Consulate and the First Empire.
Realizing the drawbacks of over-centralization, the government introduced in 1864 a system of Local Self Government, which at the time was unequalled anywhere in the world.
The administrative divisions of Russia were called "Gubernii" (Governments or Provinces, corresponding to states) and "Uezdy" (districts, corresponding to counties in the U.S.A.).
CZAEISM AND REVOLUTION
(For the sake of clarity I shall refer to these divisions as Provinces and Districts.)
In 1864, "Regulations dealing with Provincial and District Institutions" were promulgated and a new system of "Zem-stvos," or local self-governing bodies, was created (Zemlia in Russian means earth, land, soil).
Though a form of restricted local autonomy had previously been in force, it was felt after the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, that the entire community should in the future participate in the administration of local affairs. The central government availed itself of the opportunity offered by this great refrom and, by creating the Zemstvos, endowed the "Provinces" and "Districts" with local self-government.
The principles of the reform were explained in the preamble to the "Regulations."
"Each Province and District possesses its own individual interests and is faced with local problems. The management of these interests should be entrusted to the Province and District concerned, on lines similar to those which obtain in any private enterprise, directed by a private individual. The owner is the person best suited to direct a business, as it is he who suffers the consequences of mismanagement and bears the full burden of responsibility."
The Zemstvos were called upon to deal with all matters relating to local interests, such as, education, public relief, food supplies, the upkeep and construction of roads, social insurance, public health, preventative measures against the spread of epidemics, prison inspection, etc.
The Zemstvo District Councils were elected for a term of three years by the peasants, landowners, manufacturers and tradesmen owning real estate in the District and met several times a year. The permanent executive body of a Council was the "Zemskaia Uprava," a committee consisting of a chairman
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 41
and several members, all elected from the members of the Council.
At least twice a year delegates from all the District Councils met in the chief town of the Province. Assembled in council, they discussed the business of the Province and, like the District Councils, elected a permanent committee to act as an executive body.
The whole administrative machine of local self-government, collectively called the "Zemstvo," was, in theory, subject to the control, first of the Governor of a particular Province and ultimately of the Minister of the Interior. In cases of dissension between the Governor and the Zemstvo, the latter had the right of appeal to the Senate, the Supreme Court of Appeal in the Empire.
The cost of local government was defrayed by the Zemstvos. In order to meet the heavy charges involved they were authorized to levy local taxes, own capital and real estate.
The table below shows the annual budget of the forty Zemstvos of European Russia between 1865 and 1913.
1865 5.7 million roubles
1903 99.5 million roubles
1906 124.2 million roubles
1912 220.2 million roubles
1913 253.8 million roubles
(The value of the rouble in this table and in all tables of this book is the gold rouble, equivalent to 1/10 of the & Sterling, i.e., 2/-, two shillings, or 50 cents.) On the eve of the First World War the assets of the forty Zemstvos, mentioned above, were valued at 2 billion roubles, while their reserves totalled 288 million roubles.
In this book it is impossible to dwell on all the magnificent work of the Zemstvo. However, the Health Service was so outstanding as to merit special attention. It was completely free, open to all classes and unhandicapped by any tests. Within a very short time it had earned an unparalled record of efficiency and public service.
CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
In an introduction by Prof. Strouve to Mr. Fedorov's book "Russia Under the Communist Regime," written in reply to a report drawn up by visiting British trade unionists, we read:
"It is difficult for the authors of this report to make a fair appreciation of the Russia they have just left, as they have no idea of what the country was like before. I quote a case in point: under the Czarist regime local self-government (the Zemstvo) had introduced a superb service of public health, unique at the time. One of the founders of this service was Dr. Frederick Erissman of Swiss nationality and a professor of Moscow University. In 1897 I had occasion to call on him in connection with the Congress for the Protection of Workmen in Zurich. He was then socialist member of the Zurich Municipal Council. He spoke in the highest terms of the Russian Medical Service, instituted by the Zemstvo and said he considered it to be the outstanding success of the age in the realm of social medical welfare, not only because it entitled everyone to medical assistance free of any charge, but also on account of its great educational value. Anyone acquainted with the Russia of today is aware that this superb organization has been broken up and the social and spiritual principles on which it was founded swept away." (9)
An entirely new legal system came into being simultaneously with the administrative reforms of 1864. It was founded on modern conceptions in the realm of law and many Russian refugees abroad, by bitter experience, have learnt to appreciate the advantages of our judicial procedure. According to A. Leroy-Beaulieu "the authors of the legal reform proved both their erudition and experience." (a)
The law was to be "swift, just and equal for all." Thus ran
(a) A. Leroy-Beaulieu. "The Empire of the Czars and the Russians," Paris. 1887. Vol. II. p. 289.
THE FOUNDATION OF CZAKISM 43
the official wording. That this ideal was realized in full measure is a matter of which we Russians may feel justly proud.
The Law was swift. In France, to this day, the sentence of a justice of the peace, even on trivial matters, has sometimes to be awaited for months. No such delays were tolerated in Russia.
The Law was just. Judges, once appointed, could not be dismissed and were completely independent. At the time, the election of magistrates was still considered a radical innovation and had only once been applied in France for a short period during the Revolution of 1789.
In Russia, with the exception of one or two districts, magistrates were elected either by the Zemstvo District Councils, mentioned previously, or by Municipal Councils (Dumas) in the towns.
A defendant had the right of appeal against sentences passed by Justices of the Peace to the Local Council of Justices of the Peace. Criminal and civil cases were tried at Assizes, held in administrative centres. Appeals against sentences passed at the Assizes were lodged either with Courts of Appeal or with the Senate, the Supreme Court of Appeal of the Empire. Criminal cases were tried by jury, drawn from a list of jurymen, composed of local inhabitants. No instance of suppression of an elected panel was ever recorded in Russia. (As we know, trial by jury was abolished both in Fascist Italy and Hitler's Germany. ) In the thirties of this century the Paris daily newspaper "Le Temps" enquired into the possibilities of reforms in the existing legal procedure of France and many eminent French jurists suggested measures which had long been in force in Czarist Russia.
All Russian subjects were equal before the Law and legal procedure was brought within reach of the poor. The minutiae of litigation and appeal to the courts were simplified, as far as possible. The functions of solicitor and barrister were combined and the fact that the solicitor pleaded his client's case at the bar rendered less expensive the procedure of defense. No stamp
CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
duty was levied on legal documents and the poor were absolved from paying legal costs.
I have already mentioned the respect commanded by the Czarist administration. The prestige of the Russian bar was just as high.
The new Penal Code was also founded on modern theories, while capital punishment had already been abolished for a century except for political murder, cases of this kind being tried by courts martial, or special courts. Corporal punishment was done away with long before the reform of 1864. So much for the famous Russian "knout" and other barbaric forms of punishment.
Our Civil Code, like the penal and criminal codes, was advanced and modern; one of its striking features was the legal status of women, which was more liberal and broadminded than in many other countries even to this day.
It has been said of the Czarist government that it was either deliberately hostile to learning, or that it designedly prevented the spread of education among the people. No more unfounded criticism was ever made, for in this particular domain no country has ever achieved greater results than Czarist Russia.
A detailed account of the various methods by which education was fostered and systematically spread cannot be given in this book. A general idea will, however, be obtained from a balance sheet of the results achieved during the reign of tlje last Emperor, Nicholas II, 1894-1917.
The funds required for public education were provided by the Central Government, the Zemstvo and the Municipalities. The increase in the amounts respectively allotted is shown in the following table.
Zemstvo & Municipalities
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 45
The increase in the number of students was proportional to the new schools and universities opened and the credits allotted. Pupils and University Students in State Schools and Colleges, (a)
1894 1914 Increase
Primary education was free and open to all. A plan for the introduction of general and compulsory education had been before the governments as far back as 1862, but was reluctantly abandoned by Alexander II, owing to the shortage of funds. His grandson, the late Emperor, was more fortunate in this respect. Revenue had soared and the state of the nation's finances was excellent and in 1908 a comprehensive plan was drawn up for the gradual introduction of compulsory education throughout the Empire.
The number of children of school age was 13.5 million as shown by a special census. To deal with this total, 250,000 schools were required. There were only 70,000 primary schools at the time and an additional 180,000 had thus to be provided.
From 1908 an average of 10,000 schools was opened annually and by 1914 there were 130,000 schools.
Even during the war years (1914-1917) several thousand schools were opened and compulsory education would have become an established fact by the middle twenties had the Revolution not intervened. This is further confirmed by a Soviet enquiry, held in 1920, which revealed that 86% of children between the ages of twelve and sixteen could both
(a) The above figures do not include approximately 600,000 pupils in private schools in 1914. All the figures on education are taken from the "Russian Manual, 1915," published by the Russian Central Statistical Committee, "The Statesman Yearbook" and from works by S. P. Kowalevsky, responsible for presenting the estimates for public education from 1907 to 1917, and other sources.
CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
read and write while their age proves that they had been taught before the Revolution.
There were two different types of secondary schools: one standard, the other specializing in technical knowledge, commerce, or agriculture.
In 1914, of the 819,000 pupils in secondary schools, 657,440 attended the former and 161,500 the latter.
During the reign of Alexander III the creation of secondary schools, specializing in one particular branch of technology had been suggested. The idea was to provide a sound technical grounding for pupils who were unable to follow a university course. These schools commenced to function during the last reign and, by 1914, were attended by 161,500 pupils, mostly of working class origin.
A remarkable change in the social composition of the pupils attending the standard type of secondary schools took place between 1900 and 1914. At the beginning of the century the majority consisted of children of well-to-do parents. As the number of schools increased they were attended by an increasing number of children of the poorer classes and just before the War (1914) the latter formed a substantial .majority.
Below is a table showing the increase in the number of pupils in the standard type secondary schools.
The attention of the reader is particularly drawn to the increase in the number of girl pupils. The same phenomenon occurred in the universities, thus placing Russia in the forefront of European countries in the provision of education for women.
University education had expanded with equal rapidity. Within the period mentioned the number of students rose from 14,000 to over 80,000, of which 50% studied in polytechnical, technical, engineering, mining and agricultural colleges.
THE FOUNDATION OF CZABISM 47
A new university or college was opened practically every year in the ten years preceding the First World War and, as we saw, the number of undergraduates rose by over 400^. (10)
Tuition fees in Russia were extremely low. Primary education was entirely free. The annual fee in secondary schools was under one hundred roubles (ten pounds sterling or 50 dollars) and only slightly higher in universities. Accessories required by the students at technical colleges, such as drawing paper, etc., were supplied free of charge, and the salaries of the entire teaching and lecturing staffs were paid by the State.
The Soviet Government is now merely developing a system that had been founded many years before the Revolution. The craving for learning and "schooling" is an inborn Russian trait. In their powerful drive for industrial expansion the Soviets will never lack eager and inquisitive students, thirsting for knowledge and anxious to apply it. "Caveat Occidentis."
In conclusion, I should like my readers to dwell on the main passages of "Rules of Conduct for a Czar," composed by Nicholas I and the great writer Jukovsky, tutor of Alexander II, "The Liberator." These rules illustrate better than anything else the spirit of the monarchy and, consequently, of the Russian body politic.
In these days of materialism and moral decadence it is difficult not to be moved by the thoughts and feelings expressed in these "Rules." They were a guiding star to the former masters of Russia; may they guide her masters of tomorrow.
"Respect the Law, and by your example teach others to respect it. If the Law is broken by the Czar it will not be obeyed by the people.
"Spread education. The benefits of Order and Law are appreciated only by an educated people. Give heed to public opinion: it often enlightens the Czar. It is his faithful ally and a stern judge of those who carry out his will.
"Love Freedom. It stands for Equity. It interprets the
48 CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
generosity of the Czar and the liberty of the people. The Czar's love of freedom strengthens the obedience of his subjects.
"Govern not by Force, but by Order. The true might of the Czar lies not in the size of his armies, but in the prosperity of his people.
"Choose worthy and capable counsellors. Pride blinds the Czar and places him in the power of servile courtiers, unmindful of his honour and of the public good.
"Respect your people and they will be worthy of respect.
"'Love your people. The people will not love the Czar, if he does not love them.
"Be not disheartened by the World, but keep forever in your heart a vision of the beautiful and a belief in good, which is faith in God. You will thus be saved from despising humanity, for to despise humanity is deadly for one who is called upon to reign."
(1) Only two dynasties ruled over Russia from 862 to 1917: the Rurikovichi (Descendents of Rorekr, the Norseman) and the Romanovs, 1613-1917.
The Slav tribes summoned the famous Norse chieftains Rorekr (Russian Rurik) and his two brothers to come and reign over them, as their land was "Vast and rich, but order there is not."
Again, when in 1613, after a period of internal strife and invasion following the death of the last male descendent of Rurik, the first Romanov ascended the throne, it was by a freely expressed vote of the entire nation. (The Romanovs were linked to the extinct dynasty by the female line).
Thus, the monarchy was not founded on conquest, or might, but rested on a principle of legality, the vote of the entire people.
The democratic origin of the dynasty was never forgotten by our Czars, as witnessed by a quotation from a letter by Nicholas I, considered the most reactionary of Russian monarchs, to Napoleon III on the eve of the latter's coup d'Etat. "I am all the more in favour of universal suffrage, as I do not fail to recollect that my own dynasty owes its origin to the people, who twice freely expressed their will."
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 49
This letter is equally instructive from another point of view, namely that the Czar admitted of two forms of government only: either the rule of one, in whom the aspirations and interests of the nation were embodied, or the rule of all. Further he adds that were he not Russian, he would be a republican. Words and thoughts, such as these, expressed by a sovereign like Nicholas I, may appear surprising. They are, however, in perfect keeping with the Russian tradition, for anyone acquainted with our past. (2) In connection with these two principles some thoughts, expressed by Belinsky in a review of an article, written by Jukovsky, are of interest. (Jukovsky was one of our great poets, a writer with a gift for interpreting some of the best traits of the Russian genius). The occasion was the unveiling in 1839 of a monument commemorating the battle of Borodino. Belinsky was the most famous literary critic we have ever had and a man well know for his radical views. He was also a convinced adherent of "Zapadnichestvo" (Westernism), a trend of Russian philosophical thought of the 19th century, which sought a closer link between the traditions and principles of the West and Russia. We owe him one of the finest definitions of the principles of the Russian monarchy and one of the most comprehensive answers to the fundamental question: what did Czarism mean to the country?
"For us Russians there is nothing affecting the nation which does not stem from the living source of Supreme Power. The year 1613 was great in events, but our ancestors found no cause for rejoicing until the house of the Romanovs had given them a Czar. Then only did they see the full grandeur of their achievement, because a Czar had once again become a living reality.
"By the fact of his presence on the throne the events of the past years were sanctified, the sacrifices of unknown thousands became hallowed, the goal had been reached and the whole national movement, based on the spontaneous urge of the people, had crystallised and acquired a coherent meaning.
"May our joy today be as great. May the entire population of our immense country, like the united floods of an ocean, share in this joy.
"But consider what would occur if the vast concourse, assembled here today, were suddenly deprived of its Czar, the ruler who stands above it, serene and regal, in whom in the past, it had placed its faith and into whose hands it confidently surrenders its future. This glorious occasion would be devoid of all solemnity; it would be transformed into a gathering of an idle people, who no longer hold anything sacred. We know why our ancient Kremlin echoes to the cheers of the multitude when the imperial standard floats over its walls, telling us of the presence of him, who is the life and soul of the nation.
"The word 'Czar' strangely reflects the whole conscience of the Russian people for whom it has a deep poetical and mystical meaning. This is not a matter of chance. It is a necessity, direct, reasonable and logical, the result of the entire history of Russia.
50 CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
"Our historical development differs from that of the West. The government has invariably led the people and been their guiding star. The Czar is our liberty, because he is the fount of our civilization, our culture, our life. A great monarch freed us from the Tartars and gathered into one our scattered lands. An even greater Czar introduced Russia to a newer, broader life. Their labours were completed by their successors. Every step along the road of progress, every stage in the development of the nation is an outward expression of the power that resides in the Czar. This power is neither abstract, nor fortuitous. It expresses the will of Providence and, for us Russians, is a living and understandable reality. It interprets this will, often concealed from us, and senses the real needs of the nation. This harmony, between the will of Providence and the actions of the Czar, has evolved into a principle, dual in conception, yet single in outward expression: absolute obedience to the will of the Czar and absolute obedience to the will of Providence.
"This absolute submission to the will of one, as an expression of the terrestial and transcendental, is for us Russians so obvious, that it needs no proof and need not be argued. But if we delve further into this subject there emerges something of greater importance: this submission to the will of the monarch is not only indispensable, but it is the dominating factor of our lives, the salient characteristic of our race. The whole of our emotional conscience is expressed by the one word 'Czar/ and beside it the word 'Country' is only of subordinate value, like cause and effect. It is time for us proudly and freely to acknowledge a national feeling, centuries old; let us, once and for all, realise that we are as entitled to take pride in our love for the Czar, of our boundless devotion to his person, as the British of their institutions, or the United States of their freedom.
"The expanse of Russia is immense, great is her youthful strength, limitless her might. One is carried away by the vision of the grandeur that awaits her. As a nation, we have every right to be proud.
"But we must always remember that only one road leads to this glittering goal. We must cling to the dominant principle of our national life; we must renounce all alien ideals, no matter how attractive they appear, and cherish what is ours. Because the whole essence of our existence as a nation, its very roots and every heartbeat, are contained in those magic words, 'The Czar.'" (3) A civil servant or a soldier, on reaching certain rank, or being awarded the Order of St. Vladimir (corresponding to the French Legion d'Honneur) was granted patents of hereditary nobility. The class of Russian society called Nobles (Dvoriane) in the 20th century, had more in common with the Third Estate of France than with the ancient nobility of that country.
Herzen, the revolutionary, writing to Michelet, made the following statement: "The cultured section of the Third Estate in Russia consists of nobles, who have earned their patents and spring from the people. This constant in-
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 51
flux of fresh members distinguishes Russian from foreign privileged classes. Since Peter the Great the history of Russia is, in fact, the history of the nobility (Dvorianstvo), now surpassing in numbers half the electorate of France, after the Laws of 31 May, 1850, i.e., approximately three million people."
If, at the time (1852) it was still possible to talk of "priviledged classes," after the reforms of 1861-1864 any tangible privileges they had enjoyed were removed. On the whole, the Russian nobility had little in common with the nobility of the West, a product of the feudal system. What might be termed feudalism in Russia differed greatly from the West and its remaining traces were removed by Peter the Great. The attributes of feudalism, dukes, counts, barons, fiefs, castles and feudal law, were unknown. Our feudal lords, if one may so call them, were the hereditary descendents of the heads of principalities and formed the aristocratic caste of "Boyars," while the nobility (Dvorianstvo), mentioned above, was a class apart and frequently in conflict with them.
If we compare the histories of France and Russia we shall see that the first Czars of Moscow, Ivan III and IV, and later their successors, handled the haughty "Boyars" much in the same way as Louis XI and Richelieu, the feudal French aristocracy, while the reforms of Peter the Great and Alexander II, entailed the same consequences for the nobility as the French revolution of 1789.
Some details, probably unknown abroad, concerning Russian titles are of interest. None conferred any rights or privileges on the holders, while the manner in which they were distributed was, to say the least, curious. It frequently happened that families of princely descent had shed, or lost, their titles, whereas, others, not noble by origin, owned foreign titles, acquired or granted abroad. We must always remember that a title in Russia was no criterion for distinguishing between ancient lineage and "plebeian" origin; many untitled Russians descended from families much more ancient, than the bearers of high-sounding and magnificent titles.
An authority on heraldry once remarked: "A history of these new names would embrace the world and would include every country: China (the Princes Orbeliani), Ethiopia (the Princes Abashidze), Jewish-Portuguese (the Counts Diviers), Jewish-German (the Counts Kankrin), etc. (4) When Peter the Great built up his new administrative machine he divided the civil service into fourteen grades and ruled that promotion was to be based on merit alone. Further, by requiring a School Leaving Certificate for entry into Government service he established an egaliterian tradition, based on an assessable standard of education. Privilege, conferred by birth, was thus done away with, once and for all. Henceforth, right of entry was based solely on this certificate, which became the key to a career in govern-
52 CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
ment service from junior clerk to ambassador, senator or member of the Council of Empire. Of equal importance is the fact that, starting from Peter the Great, educational establishments, primary, secondary and university, were made accessible to all, irrespective of social standing.
An idea of the democratic composition of the Civil Service, as early as the 18th century, is gained from an old historical work, entitled "Acts of Bravery and Merit by Distinguished Captains and Ministers." The author describes some outstanding men of his time, like Menshikov, the son of a peasant; Shafirov, a foreign Jew (Vide note 5, Chapter 1); Yagujinsky, the son of a church watchman, Lefort, a foreigner of unknown descent. It would be easy to quote the names of generals, admirals and ministers of the humblest origin and, not least, the great Russian scientist and scholar of the 18th century, that versatile genius, Lomonosov.
I should, however, add that up to the sixties of the last century, owing to the condition and standing of certain classes, the number of state servants of humble, or lowly origin, was necessarily restricted. After the radical reforms of Alexander II our administrative machine was undoubtedly the most democratic in Europe, while even that aristocrat of government in every country, the diplomatic service, was not exempt from the general wave of democratization. Let me quote the names of a few of our diplomats during the last two reigns: Nicholas Giers, Minister of Foreign Affairs under Alexander III, son of a customs officer on the Russo-Austrian frontier; Nelidov and Zinoviev, two brillant ambassadors in Paris and Constantinople, both sons of village schoolmasters; Izvolsky, Foreign Minister and later Ambassador in Paris, was a man of quite humble origin. It was the same in other branches of the administration and the forces. To mention but a few: Witte, a great Minister of Finance, under Nicholas II, late Prime Minister, created Count on his return from Portsmouth, U.S.A., where he engineered the peace treaty with Japan in 1906; Plehve, Minister of the Interior, assassinated during the abortive revolution of 1904; Trepov, Prime Minister, and Rukhlov, Minister of Transport murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1919. In the Forces: Generals Alexeiev, Dragomirov, Ivanov, Lechitzky, Denikin; Admirals Rojdestvensky, Makarov, Kolchak and so many others. The father of General Lechitzky was a priest in a remote village of the Province of Moguilev; General Ivanov's, a quartermaster sergeant in the gunners; Admiral Makarov's, a chief petty officer in the navy. These were outstanding men in the government and the forces, who owed nothing to birth or the social standing of their parents. Some were exceptionally unassuming and modest. When Rukhlov's parents, simple peasants from Vologda, visited him in the capital and were present at receptions in his house they wore peasant dress, which appeared to shock neither their son, nor his guests.
On the other hand, it should not be assumed that the aristocracy took no
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 53
share in government. Some of our most talented administrators belonged to the aristocracy and many were former pupils of the famous school and university, the Imperial Lyceum, founded by Alexander I, the alma mater of Pushkin and many famous men. The sons of the aristocracy served in the Guards. Some regiments, like the Preobrajenski, were particularly favoured by the Sovereigns; but here, too, the principle of democracy prevailed and officers of regiments of the line were transferred to the Guards, as a reward for gallantry in the field.
(5) This social picture of Russia obviously refers to fairly recent times, but
the egalitarian and democratic trend I have emphasized appears to be inherent
in the national character. This is what J. Krijanitch, a Serbian by birth and
a graduate of the Catholic College of Vienna, tells us in his memoirs, written
in 1646, after spending five years in Russia.
"The Russian lead a simpler life than other Europeans. The gulf between rich and poor is not as great as in the West, where some wallow in riches and others are sunk in the depths of misery. Everyone in Russia, rich and poor, eats to his heart's content and lives in well heated houses, whereas in the West the poor suffer from cold and hunger. "Thus," he concludes, "life for the workman and peasant in Russia is better than in other countries."
(6) To dwell at length on the doctrine of Czarism would serve no purpose,
but a few brief historical remarks may further clarify the subject. First let us
establish the nature of the power, wielded by the Czar.
The Czar was not an autocrat in the generally accepted meaning of the word, synonymous with "despot." The Russian word is "Samoderjetz," and is a literal translation of the Greek "autokratos," i.e., holding power independently and freely. The title of "Samoderjetz" was assumed by the Grand Dukes of Moscow only after the complete emancipation from the Tartar yoke, when Russia, personified by the Czar, as mandatory of the nation, was at last independent and free to rule herself, without restraint or interference from abroad.
The Honour of the nation, the Good of the people and Supreme Justice, were forever personified by the Czar. He was the "Suum cuique tribuere, neminem leadere" of Roman Law, at its best. There can be no comparison between Czarism, Oriental Despotism and Western Absolutism. Both the latter express power, unlimited either by law, or by moral restrictions. Russia, on the other hand, was a country ruled by law and corresponded to the German definition of "Rechtstaat" after the reforms of 1809-1811 and, especially, after the codification of Russian Law, in 1833.
At the outbreak of War in 1914 the legislative power was exercised jointly by the Czar, the Council of Empire and the Duma. The Council of Empire
54 CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
(the Upper Chamber) was created in 1810 and consisted of 98 members, nominated by Provincial Assemblies for a term of nine years, a third of which was renewed every three years. Other members, numerically not exceeding the nominated members, were appointed by the Czar.
The Duma, created in 1905, consisted of 442 members, elected for a term of five years by universal suffrage.
The Duma and the elected members of the Council of Empire could be dissolved by Imperial Decree which was accompanied by an order for general elections on a given date. A deep sense of responsibility toward the nation had always restricted the power of the Czar. The feeling that he was the first servant of the nation, expressed by the early Romanovs, was shared alike by the dynasty and the people. The famous sentence of Louis XIV "L'Etat c'est Moi," expressing in a single phrase the essence of absolutism, is quite unthinkable on the lips of Nicholas I, for all his reputed autocracy. It would have been in direct contradiction with the principles of Czarism, as understood by him and his predecessors. The power of the monarch was only a consequence of his duties and the heavier their burden, the greater his power.
An incident in the private life of Nicholas I illustrates his attitude to both. One day his two small sons were playing chess. The youngest of the two boys after losing repeatedly suggested staking his brother's right to the future crown on the issue of the next game. He won and in high glee ran to his father to tell him he was now the Czarevitch. He was met by a stern rebuke. "Is this your idea of Russia?" said the Czar. "Do you think that it is ours to do with as we will? Always remember that all of us, both great and small, owe our lives and our work to the country, and that we, the mighty, have been so placed only the better to serve it."
The following words come to us as a distant echo of Peter the Great, addressing his troops on the eve of Poltava: "The time has come. The fate of our country will be sealed tomorrow. You are not fighting for me, but for the Empire, which I merely hold in trust, for your Faith, for the Church of God. As for Peter, know that he is ever ready to lay down his life so that Russia may live in glory and prosperity."
Most of our sovereigns were men of simple tastes, modest in dress and personal habits, who tried to avoid, as much as possible, the onerous etiquette of the court, or the profitless tedium of official ceremonies. Peter the Great, would escape from his retinue in Paris and visit, unescorted, places of interest; Nicholas I, drove about the streets of the capital in a one-horse carriage, or sledge, stopping to talk to the simple people and allowed them to address him by the warmhearted Russian "Thou." The tiny room, with a simple camp bed, which he often used in preference to his sumptuous bedchamber in the Winter Palace, can still be seen. Alexander II and his grandson, the late Emperor, who both retained the rank of Colonel, which they held at the
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 55
death of their fathers, invariably, except on ceremonial occasions, gave precedence to officers of higher rank.
This modesty and unassuming sense of duty were enhanced by great personal courage: we read of Peter the Great rescuing the victims of the floods that all but swamped his new capital, and subsequently dying from the effects of exposure; of Nicholas I, daily visiting the wards, where lay the cholera-stricken inhabitants of the city; of the giant Alexander III, propping up with his massive back a derailed railway carriage, which threatened to crush its inmates and last, perhaps the greatest, our late sovereign who willingly accepted imprisonment and death, rather than sign a shameful treaty, offered from Berlin as the price of his freedom.
Will foreigners ever understand that mysterious bond, which united the sovereign and the nation, or comprehend that the Czar was indeed "the Father" of his people, their true defender, powerful and faithful, the devoted servant of his subjects, the ultimate source of justice, the great and charitable protector? In all its manifestations Czarism was truly national, progressive, egalitarian. An attack on Czarism is an attack on the nation, on the people, on all that in the past has stood for "Russia."
I have previously mentioned Sir Winston Churchill and Professor Charles Sarolea. I shall now add another name to the short list of foreign statemen and writers who fully appreciated the significance of the fall of Czarism and realised what this would entail. On February 24, 1917, M. Paleologue, French Ambassador to Russia, had an interview with his Italian colleague, Carlotti. The latter was full of optimism and thought that transition to a "new order" could be effected smoothly. Mentioning this interview, M. Paleologue writes: "I tried to convince him that, on the contrary, the fall of the monarchy would be followed by a period of disorder of indefinite duration similar to the one that followed the death of Ivan IV. I added that Czarism was not only the official and outward form of Russian government, but the foundation, the framework, in fact the whole edifice, of the Russian community. The historical individuality of Russia had been created and maintained by Czarism and the entire collective life of the country was integrated in the monarchy." ("La Russie des Tsars Pendant la Grande Guerre," Paris, 1921, Vol. III. p. 203)
Much has been said in support of this or that form of government. Whatever the arguments adduced they are not applicable to Czarism. The latter is something essentially Russian, produced by and dependent on Russian realities. It is not possible to identify it with any other regime and its ultimate destinies cannot be assessed by comparison with other monarchies. This fact will be made clear to my readers when together we examine these realities. (7) Centralization reached its peak during the reign of Nicholas I, i.e., prior to the reforms of 1861-1864, and his administration has often been violently criticised. I take the liberty of quoting the English historian Mackenzie Wai-
56 CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
lace, an authority on Russia, who lived there during the latter half of the 19th century. The first edition of his book "Russia" was published in 1877, but the lines which follow refer to the last edition of 1912.
"The rigidly centralised government of Nicholas I is often harshly criticised by many Russians and their criticism is accepted by the majority in England. Before condemning we should, however, remember that the system of government in force was historically justifiable and we must not allow attachment to our own British institutions to stand in the way of distinguishing between theoretical and real historical possibilities. What might appear to be the best form of government in the abstract to political philosophers could, in certain concrete cases, prove entirely unsuitable. It is not for us to decide whether Russia should have ever existed as a nation, but we can assert that without a strongly centralized administrative system she could never have become a great European power. That part of the world which today is represented by the Russian Empire was, up to a fairly recent past, a mere collection of independent or semi-independent political units, subjected to the simultaneous stresses of centrifugal and centripetal forces. The centralized administration of autocracy brought Russia into being and later saved the country from dismemberment and political extinction. Finally, after civilising the country it placed it among the great nations of the world." (Translated from the French).
I strongly recommend the chapter in this book devoted to Russian administration. We are given a truthful description of Czarist bureaucracy in historical perspective and the continued evolution of the Russian civil service towards better methods of administration is well described; we are told of the difficulties which the "chinovniki" (government employees) had to face and are given a glimpse of national good humour and patience, as typified by them and by the police.
(8) The famous, or as it was generally termed, the "infamous" "Okhrana" has become a by-word and the name is now used to typify one of the many forms of Czarist tyranny. Its reputation has been vilified and reports of its activities distorted. It has been compared with those monstrous organs of Soviet espionage and murder, the Che-Ka, the G.P.U. and the N.K.V.D. and the N.M.V.D., the active instruments of ruthless political terror. The reputation abroad of the Russian Secret Police was derived from political exiles and nihilists, who had good reason for their hatred. It was pitted against the best organised revolutionary movement in the world and because of this, perhaps, never attained the high efficiency of Scotland Yard in dealing with ordinary crime. Had it been half as efficient, or ruthless, as reputed, the repeated acts of terrorism of our revolutionaries could never have been committed with such relative impunity, nor have met with such deadly success.
The descendants of those nihilists are now at the summit of power in Moscow. They have at present directed their propaganda against capitalist
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 57
states, all of which are in turn branded as "slave-drivers," "butchers," "warmongers," or by any other epithet, that suits the occasion. We are led to believe that some aspects of life in the U.S.A. are similar to "the vilest forms of Czarism." This comparison stems from the same sources as the old and hackneyed anti-Czarist propaganda. There is no reason why the old form should be any more truthful than the new.
"Bolshevism is even worse than Czarism." This is an assertion often made by Western correspondents, which we cannot allow to pass unchallenged. It is used to condemn the present regime in Russia and is founded on the misconceptions to which I have so many times referred. Czarism is presented, not as it was, but as a form of government the West has been taught to abhor. Comparisons of this kind do not help to throw light on the state of affairs in Russia and are merely journalistic platitudes. A recent refugee from the Soviet Zone, reading one such assertion, remarked: "You might as well say that it is darker by night, than by day."
I have already mentioned Dr. Erismann's admiration for some aspects of our national life. Many of us exiles have had proof time and again of the universal love and regard for our country among foreigners, who at one time lived there, and of their desire to return as soon as conditions will permit. It was a good country, easy to live in, and many are honest enough to admit it. It is among people like these, who are not gulled into believing the perverted nonsense that the West is asked to accept, that we find a true appreciation of Russia.
(9) The medical service of the Zemstvo enjoyed the support of all classes.
Large sums were donated by merchants and business men, while the land
owners contributed grants of land, often building and equipping village hos
pitals at their own expense. A case in point may be quoted, where a large
village of well over two thousand inhabitants, was provided by the local
landowner with a fully equipped modern hospital. The Zemstvo doctors were
first class men of their profession and many of them looked upon their work
as a dedication, a service to the people. The particular hospital, just men
tioned, was run by a Jewish doctor, a former assistant of the famous doctor
Roux of Lausanne and a man of the highest medical qualifications. So high
was his reputation and so modern the service the hospital could provide that
many patients came to it from distant towns.
(10) As we have seen, the number of university students rose by four
hundred per cent during the last twenty years before the revolution. Though
this increase was, obviously gratifying and to the general good, it was not
devoid of alarming consequences.
In other countries, where progress is less spontaneous and sudden, university education follows the natural development of the cultural level. It was the other way around in Russia. Let us pause for a moment and examine the type
58 CZARISM AND REVOLUTION
of young people who began to stream into the higher seats of learning. Secondary education had been made accessible to the poorest classes, hence the vast majority of the students, were the children of peasants, labourers and wage-earners on the lower-scale. Some rose to great heights and in later life contributed much to the fame of their country, but many were disorientated and lost all sense of proportion and reality. They were completely uprooted— the knowledge they had just acquired went to their heads—they despised the milieu in which they had grown up and to which, by tradition, they belonged. In the welter of new ideas and new vistas, which their minds were not yet ready to absorb, they lost their bearings. They were incapable of creative work and lacked definite purpose; for them, manual work was the lot of the imbecile and the development of their country's resources of no interest. Political abstractions, endless and profitless arguments, prefabricated theories and undigested ideas were the only subjects that aroused their interest. Many, I am sure, genuinely believed that they could talk into existence a new pattern of society, or bring about that "New Jerusalem," which was the main theme of their debates, their endless spate of words and their dreams. In a burning desire to be appreciated, they coined a name for themselves: "Intelligentsia." This high-falutin term deceived very few and soon the word acquired a derogatory meaning and was used to describe an unsuccessful and worthless "highbrow."
It was soon apparent, even to these intellectually conceited young people, that they were shunned and, on the whole, despised. They became embittered and sought refuge in violent propaganda, based on rabid political theories.
In the closing years of the last century Dostoyevsky rose against, what he called, "This demi-science." "It is," he wrote, "the most frightening scourge of our time more terrible than plague, famine, or war. A despot unparalleled in the history of humanity, it is served by acolytes and slaves, all of whom bow before it in love and superstition. Science fears this superstition and demeans itself by giving it support."
Mendeleev, the great scientist and avowed materialist, joined in this protest. In 1906 he drew public attention to the fact that the "under-developed" intelligentsia was being infiltrated by anti-social elements; he also deplored the loss of progressive minds, in danger of being swamped by a flood of militant anarchy.
The government, though fully aware of the anti-social leanings of the "students," deliberately continued to pursue a policy of increased university education. To its credit, it realised that this anarchy of youthful thought was merely the growing pains of a precocious child, in pursuit of a vaguely formulated Tolstoyan dream, or a tepid brand of Marxism. It sensed that no real danger lay behind all this talk, this criticism of any and every step taken by the authorities, this denigration of Russian traditions, not even in the
THE FOUNDATION OF CZARISM 59
mildly subversive propaganda conducted among the workmen and peasants. It rightly felt that time would gradually wipe out these anomalies in a better educated generation.
Not all the members of the "Intelligentsia" were, however, inoffensive zealots, and this was unfortunate for the State. From their ranks there gradually emerged a group of a different stamp, young men and women, imbued with a flaming hatred of society and the State. The "Nihilists," as the name indicates, believed in nothing, obeyed nobody and repudiated all laws, both man-made and divine. Their God was World Revolution, and no considerations, human, social, or ethical, could restrain them from putting into effect the monstrous theories they were taught by their organized leaders.
Read "The Possessed," that prophetic masterpiece by Dostoyevsky and you will appreciate how the perverse plans, laid many years ago, have now been fulfilled and found concrete expression in modern Bolshevism.
The "Nihilists" were not numerous, but, unlike their lukewarm brothers of the "Intelligentsia," they knew what they wanted and went straight for their goal. Their first act of open warfare was the assassination of Emperor Alexander II on March 13th, 1881.
Favoured by the course of events they have all but destroyed the very "Intelligentsia" which gave them birth. We shall return to these questions in Chapters X and XL
Agriculture is no longer the dominating factor of Russian economy. The expansion of industrialization and the importance it has acquired in the economic policy of the Soviet Union have pushed it into the background; the insane policy of collectivization, with all the misery, famine, bloodshed and complete disruption of any stable continuity of output that it entails has contributed still further to decrease the former preponderance of agriculture. Though, as we shall see in the following chapters, industry was rapidly expanding before 1914 and the Revolution, the economic policy of the State in those days was based on and geared to agriculture.
The importance, both economic and social, of Russian agriculture was universally recognized. Yet, it was a subject on which precise information was sadly lacking. Abroad, and in Russia, there was a tendency to assume that the amount of arable land was little short of limitless and that the rural population was but thinly scattered over its surface. There followed the conclusion that the relative poverty of the "mujik" was mainly attributable to the inadequate size of his holding and to the fact that the greater part of the land was in the hands of large estate owners. The wretched peasant, miserable and dispossessed, was a favorite theme of revolutionary propaganda.
If the Russians themselves were hypnotized by the immensity of the plains in which they lived, it is not surprising that abroad these false assumptions should have been accepted, as self evident. But, like so many other preconceived ideas about Russia, they do not stand up to examination.
Let us begin by ascertaining how much land was actually available to agriculture in the fifty provinces of European Russia. (Our analysis is confined to this part of Russia, as in Siberia the entire arable acreage was held by the peasants). Then, review the agricultural policy of the Government and the various measures adopted to ensure the well-being of the peasant and lastly examine the results obtained by these measures.
Here then are the relevant figures. (1) (As the former Russian agricultural unit of one "dessiatine" equals approximately two and one half English statute acres, I shall, for the sake of simplicity give the figures in English measures).
Statistical figures for 1905 give the total area of European Russia, as 969,382,000 acres, (the three Baltic Provinces, with an independent agrarian policy are excluded), less 294,705,000 acres, the area of three northern provinces, where, owing to climatic conditions agriculture was not possible. We are left with a total of 674,677,000 acres in 44 provinces. Of these, 158.75 million acres were forests and 100 million acres, sand and marshland. We thus obtain a net figure of 415,927 million acres. In 1915, 316.5 million were under cultivation, the balance consisting of pastures and land lying fallow. The area actually cultivated was further reduced by a considerable quantity of lea acreage, extensive in Russia, and amounting approximately to 30% on estates and 60% on peasant holdings in pre-war years, (1914).
The next point to examine is the density of the population per acre. It is obvious that if the whole territory is taken into consideration, the figure will of course, be lower than in Western Europe; but, if we compare the density of the rural population in relation to the amount of arable land available, the reverse is the case. This is explained by the small urban population of Russia, amounting to 17 or 18% of the total, as against 45 to 75% in the West. In 1905 there were 139 rural inhabitants per 250 acres of land in Russia, compared with 107 in Germany, 84 in France and 79 in Britain. On the other hand, in 1905 five