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D. Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, 1799-1837


Alexander Pushkin as a teenager

The flag dropped by Radishchev is picked up by Alexander Pushkin , a nobleman and a poet. The poem of Radishchev "Liberty" inspires Pushkin in 1817 to compose his own ode, "Liberty". It is full of hatred towards the tsar and his family:
"Самовластительный Злодей!

Тебя, твой трон я ненавижу,

Твою погибель, смерть детей

С жестокой радостию вижу."


"You, evil monarch!

I hate you and your throne,

I see your destruction and death of your children

With cruel joy."


Pushkin in exile near a sea.

For such liberal poems, the monarchist government exiles Pushkin from Petersburg in 1820.

The ideal social system for Pushkin is a society in which law is above everything - above money and position in society; it is a society in which all are equal before law. In other words, Pushkin stood for a constitutional monarchy. For Russia in the first part of XIX century that would have been a step forward. And it almost made the step... in 1905. Pushkin was 100 years ahead of his time.

The means to achieving this goal Pushkin believed to be a peasant rebellion. Hence, his investigations into the rebellion of Emelian Pugachev (suppressed in 1775).

Pushkin Alexander, self portret, 1820s

Self-portrait of Pushkin in 1820's

Pushkin saw himself as an early bird of the future revolution. He writes to his friend Chaadaev, in 1818:
"... Товарищ, верь, взойдет она

звезда пленительного счастья

Россия вспрянет ото сна

И на обломках самовластья

Напишут наши имена."


"...comrade, believe me, the star of captivating happiness

will rise

Russia will arise from its slumber

And on the ruins of monarchism

our names will be written".

E. The Decembrists, 1825


Decembrists on the Senate Square, St. Petersburg, 1825

A prototype of Decembrists we see in the comedy of Griboyedov "A Woe from Wit" in the image of Repetilov. Wikipedia thus characterizes him: "the Anglomaniac orator of the coffee room and of the club, burning for freedom and stinking of liquor, the witless admirer of wit, and the bosom friend of all his acquaintances".

This was in the year 1816. In 1825 things have changed. Those who simply spoke in the liberal clubs dared to come out against the tsarist government in the open. They came out on 14 December, 1825, and hence were called "the Decembrists". These were the officers from aristocratic families. They plotted against the tsar with the goal of instituting a constitutional government, and possibly to do away with serfdom. 

Decembrist execution stella

The place where 5 leaders of the Decembrists were hanged.

This was an attempt to change the social system without participation of the people. The people, for example soldiers participating in the uprising, only knew that the wife of the new tsar has a strange name - "Constitution". In addition to the soldiers, there were passive spectators of the rebellion on the Senate Square in St. Petersburg. There were around 30 thousand people in all. At first, they didn't understand what

Decembrists in exile in Siberia.

was going on. Later, when they understood, it was too late - the new tsar, Nicolas I ordered the use of artillery against the mutinous formations. The mutiny was suppressed. The leaders were hanged. Many were sent into exile. Their wives, in protest against the social system, went into exile together with their husbands. 

Pushkin was a sympathizer of the Decembrists.

F. Alexander Herzen, 1812-1870

Herzen ge

Alexander Herzen.

Alexander Herzen was born 200 years ago, in 1812. His nanny told him about Napoleon's invasion of Moscow. This forms the beginning of his monumental autobiographical work "Былое и думы", "The Past and Thoughts".

As a teenager, Herzen was a witness to the rebellion of the Decembrists in 1825. Impressed by the event, two boys, Herzen and his friend Ogaryov, made an oath to dedicate their lives to the struggle for freedom, taking up the banner fallen from the hands of Decembrists.

Alexander Herzen

Herzen in emigration, where he published a revolutionary magazine "The Bell"

Lenin, 100 years ago, in 1912, has written "To the Memory of Herzen". He classifies Herzen together with other aristocratic revolutionaries in Russia: "When we pay homage to the memory of Herzen, we clearly see three generations, three classes which were active in the Russian revolution. First: it was the noblemen and the landlords, the Decembrists and Herzen. The circle of these revolutionaries was narrow. They were far away from the people. But their cause was not in vain. The Decembrists have woken up Herzen. Herzen has started revolutionary agitation. This was taken up, spread out, made stronger and tempered by revolutionaries from common people, starting with Chernishevsky and ending with the heroes of "Народная воля", Narodnaya Volya . The circle of the revolutionaries has become wider, their relationship to the people has become closer. "Young navigators of the future storm", this was how Herzen called them. But this was not the storm yet. The storm is a movement of the masses themselves. Proletariat, the only thoroughly revolutionary class, has stood at the head of them and has called on the millions of peasants to take up an open revolutionary struggle. The first blow of the storm was in 1905. The next starts to grow before our very eyes".

So, there is a progression from revolutionaries coming from aristocratic classes, and being far removed from the people, to the revolutionaries coming from the common people. There are many more of these, they are closer to the masses, as the revolution is growing more radical, involving the larges masses of people. 

However, these form only a preparation for the storm. 

Herzen has 2 main works which place him in the camp of revolutionaries. These are: 1) "On Development of Revolutionary Ideas in Russia", 2) "Dilettantism in Science".

The first essay is on the development of revolutionary ideas before the time of Peter I, on revolution which Peter I advanced, on Decembrists, and finally on the progressive writers in the first half of XIX century who were the contemporaries of Herzen.

The second essay is about science. According to Herzen, there are two extremes which hold up the advancement of science: "Superficial dilettantism and specialization of professional scientists".

Who are the "dilettantes", or amateurs? Herzen answers: "Dilettantism - it is a love for science, coupled with a complete lack of its understanding; it looses itself in the sea of love for knowledge but can not concentrate; it is happy simply by the feeling of love and does not achieve anything, does not care for anything, not even for a mutual love; it is a platonic, romantic passion for science, the kind of love from which no children can be born... Dilettantes are the people of the Preface, of the title page; these people beat about the bush and do not touch the gist of the matter". So, dilettantes are the people who are scared to delve into science, to dig into it, to engage in a sustained effort. They love to socialize, but can not actually make anything themselves.

The caste opposite to the dilettantes are the "official scientists". They are characterized by:

1. "Pedantry, a separation from life, miserly activity, the essence of which is nothing, a kind of ghostly labor, the type of work which occupies a person but is empty in character; furthermore, artificial constructions, inapplicable theories, ignorance of practice and haughty smugness; - these are the conditions under which the pale tree of guild science has developed". These are conditions of science in decline, of science at the service of the declining ruling classes.


Modern science is strongly influenced by the money which pays for the research. In other words, it is a "science" in the service of the ruling class.

2. The official scientists "have occupied, in the society, the place of the second stomach of animals, who chew stale food; fresh food never makes its way there, only already digested, one which is chewed out of the simple pleasure of chewing. The masses act, spill their blood and sweat, but scientists appear afterward to hold discourse on the event. The poets, the artists create, the masses admire their creations, but scientists write commentaries, grammar and other kinds of analysis". "The official scientists" are engaged in trivial activities and do not create anything new. In social sciences and humanities, they appear the same today as they were in XIX century. 

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