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THE unfortunate condition of Russia at the present time is due to the fact that there has arisen in Russian society a party which acts with great irrationality, and is carrying on a contest with the Government in a manner with which right-thinking people, no matter what their position or degree of education, cannot sympathize. This contest, which is seditious in its character, manifests itself in a series of acts of violence directed against the ruling authorities. The question is, How can the evil be remedied?

In order to answer this question it is necessary first to uncover the real causes of the evil. The object of the present letter is to show

First. That the principal reason for the morbid form which the contest with the Government has taken is the absence in Russia of any opportunity for the free development of public opinion and the free exercise of public activity.

Second. That the evil cannot be eradicated by any sort of repressive measures.

Third. That the present condition of the people, many of whose most urgent needs are wholly unsatisfied, constitutes ample cause for dissatisfaction, and that this dissatisfaction, having no means of free expression, necessarily manifests itself in morbid forms.

Fourth. That the causes which underlie this wide-spread discontent cannot be removed by governmental action alone, but require the friendly coöperation of all the vital forces of society.


THE unnatural form which the contest with the Government has taken is due to the absence of all means for the free and orderly expression of public discontent. Dissatisfaction cannot be expressed through the press, since the press is closely restricted in its comments upon governmental action, and such restriction is enforced by warnings, suspensions, and

*It may seem strange to the American reader that the Russian Government should prohibit the discussion of such questions as "Scientific vs. Classical Education"; but it must be remembered that scientific training, to use the language of the Russian censors," excites the mind,"- that is, leads the student to think, question, and experiment,- while the study of the dead languages does not have that pernicious tendency to so great an extent. The classical system of instruction is therefore favored by the Government, and the advocacy of any other system is forbidden. Herbert Spencer's "Education," and "The Culture demanded by Modern Life," by the late E. L. Youmans, have been withdrawn from all the Russian public libraries and placed on the Index Expurgatorius.-G. K.

heavy penalties, in the shape of the interdiction of street sales and the deprivation of the right to print advertisements, which fall upon the periodical press with crushing force. Questions of first-class importance are wholly removed by censorial prohibition from the field of newspaper discussion, and that at the very time when they most occupy public attention. Within the past year the prohibition has been extended even to educational subjects, such as the classical system of instruction and the laws regulating universities.*

Measures as important as university reform are considered secretly and kept concealed from the people. Then there are other subjects which the periodical press is directed to discuss "with especial caution and circumspection,”- a phrase which, in the language of the censors, has almost the force of a complete prohibition. Newspapers are not even allowed to publish facts, if such facts compromise or reflect in any way upon governmental organs. All remember the recent case of the newspaper "Golos," which was severely punished for merely publishing the facts with regard to the illegal imprisonment of certain dissenting prelates. † The press must, therefore, either be silent or hypocritical, or must express itself in the language of allegory — a language which demoralizes literature and which often unnecessarily excites public opinion. If the newspapers discuss governmental measures within the narrow limits to which they are confined, their readers seek for hidden meaning and unexpressed opinion between the lines. If, on the other hand, a newspaper praises the Government, it is not believed, because the commendation is regarded as hypocritical. Perfect freedom of speech is the privilege of the representatives of extreme opinions only, and we find it on the one side, for example, in the "Moscow Gazette" and kindred organs, and on the other, in the "underground" press.

Another reason for the development of "underground" activity may be found in the en

+ A correspondent of the "Golos" at Suzdal, in the province of Vladimir, discovered that in the prison connected with the monastery at that place there were confined two bishops and an archbishop of the dissenting sect known as the " Starovertsi," or Old Believers. One of the bishops had been in solitary confinement in this monasterial prison 17 years, the other 22 years, and the archbishop 26 years. The "Golos," in commenting editorially upon its correspondent's letter, suggested that these prelates had probably been put in prison for some sectarian obstinacy and had then been entirely forgotten. For publishing this letter and commenting upon it, the "Golos was deprived for a month of the right to print advertisements.G. K.

forced silence of public assemblies. The cases of the provincial assemblies of Pultava, Chernigof, and other provinces in 1879 show that the voices of the representatives of the people are stifled even when they are responding in accordance with their best judgment to the call of the Government.* The latter withholds its confidence more and more from the provincial assemblies and bestows it more and more upon bureaucratic institutions-submitting, for example, to the Provincial Councils for Peasant Affairs [a body of chinovniks tappointed by the Crown] cases and questions which it formerly referred to the zemstvos [representative bodies elected by the people]. The Government creates cantonal and provincial delegates, and at the same time has so little confidence in these representatives of the people that it puts them under the supervision and control of a presiding officer not by themselves chosen; and having imposed upon them such a presiding officer, in the person of a Marshal of the Nobility, the Government strives to turn the latter into a mere chinovnik. Many of these marshals serve only in order to obtain rank or for the sake of an administrative career.

The Government often treats with contemptuous neglect statements and petitions from sources fully competent to make them, and listens unwillingly to the representatives even of the most legitimate interests. There may be found in the reports of any provincial administration records of innumerable petitions sent by the assembly to the Government, which not only have never been granted, but have never even been answered. The voice of the press is treated with equal if not greater contempt. The newspapers and magazines have had occasion of late to discuss almost every question which relates to the administration of the internal affairs of the empire, and with regard to such questions have expressed definite opinions based upon precise scientific data, but very little respect has been paid to their conclusions. A recent illustration of this fact is furnished by the railroad tax. When, in the latter part of 1878, it was first proposed, the organs of the press almost without exception pointed out and pertinaciously insisted upon its inadequacy and its burdensome character. The tax was nevertheless imposed, only to justify the predictions which had been made with regard to it. The Government in general pays too little attention to the investigation of subjects which require exact scientific research. This is particularly the case with regard to questions of economic and financial legisla

The reference is to the attempt of the provincial assemblies to obtain reforms by means of petitions to the Crown.-G. K.

A chinovnik is any officer of the civil service.-G. K.

tion, which are least of all susceptible to bureaucratic methods of treatment.

The result of the state of things above set forth is the creation of an impression that the Government does not wish to listen to the voice of the people; that it will not tolerate criticism, however just, of its mistakes and failures; that it despises the opinions of competent advisers, and that it has in view peculiar objects not related in any way to the necessities of the people. There is undoubtedly at the present time a wide-spread belief in the existence of an antagonism between the people and the organs of government. Upon this point cultivated society is in remarkable accord with the common people. The peasant reveres the Tsar as he reveres God, but he has no confidence in the chinovniks, who, as he naïvely expresses it, "get around the Tsar." In like manner the educated classes of society, while they preserve their deep veneration for their monarch, discern, in a bureaucratic mechanism, isolated from the people, the root of the existing evils. There is in this respect a complete lack of faith in the Government, and faith can never be restored while the Administration manifests neither adequate knowledge nor moral force nor conformity to any ideal. The weakness of the Government is apparent to society, and it is an added cause of irritation, because there is nothing which provokes and humiliates people more than to feel that they are in subjection to persons who can inspire neither respect nor trust. It makes no difference, under such circumstances, what means official power may take to establish its authority; its efforts will result only in exasperation. It does not help matters when the organs of the Government say, as they are inclined to say, that an attack upon them is an attack upon the Imperial power. The sophistry of such a method of dealing with the question is apparent even to the simplest intelligence, and it only intensifies the existing resentment.

The forcible repression of discontent is injurious in another way. The impossibility of speaking out frankly compels people to keep their ideas to themselves, to cherish and nurse them in secret, and to regard complacently even illegal methods of putting them into practice. Thus is created one of the most important of the conditions upon which the spread of sedition depends; namely, the weakening of the loyalty of those who, under other circumstances, would regard sedition with abhorrence.

There are in organized society self-reliant

The permanent executive bureau which attends to the official business of a provincial assembly and keeps its records.-G. K.

opinions which strive for free expression, and an accumulated fund of energy which seeks a field for activity. The more rigorously these impulses are repressed in their legal form, the sooner they will take on a form which is not legal; the more apparent will become the lack of harmony between the strivings of society and the working methods of the ruling power; and the more general and emphatic, and consequently the more infectious, will become the illegal protest. When society has no means of making known and discussing peaceably and publicly its wants and its necessities, the more energetic members of that society will throw themselves passionately into secret activity, and lose gradually the habit of trying to obtain their ends by reasonable methods. The characteristics which at first mark only the more hot-headed members of society will at last become common to people of a very different class, simply because the latter have no field in which to cultivate better qualities.


Ar the present time, there is a prevalent opinion that the existing evils can be eradicated only by repressive measures. Many people believe that, before anything else is thought of, attention should be concentrated upon methods of repression, and that, when such methods shall have attained the results expected from them, it will be time enough to proceed with the further development of Russian social life. But the evils cannot be remedied by repressive measures; and that is not all-repressive measures not only do not cure the evils which exist, but they create new evils, because they are inevitably accompanied by administrative license.* It might be possible, under given conditions, for people to reconcile themselves to the uncontrolled exercise of power by the higher authorities; but license above creates license below. Every official ispravnik, stanavoi, uriadnik or gendarme†— has his own idea of saving the country, and upon the strength of it he sets himself above all laws and institutions. The Government thus tears down with one hand what it builds up with the other, and finally undermines all respect for authority, by establishing the conviction in the minds of the people that authority does not propose to be bound by any fixed and definite rules of procedure. License, furthermore, threatens an extraordinary widening of the circle of persons to be proceeded against. It opens the way for a general appli

*The Russian word proizvol, which I have here translated "license," has no precise equivalent in English. It means action upon personal impulseaction which is not controlled by law, nor by any standard of duty or obligation external to the actor. The

cation of the rule that "he who is not for us is against us "— a rule which, when applied by the Government, is particularly dangerous, because it declares persons to be enemies of the country who are in reality peaceable and useful citizens, but who simply do not agree in all respects with the Administration.

Everybody is well aware of the shadow which has recently been cast, without any serious reason, upon some of the best elements of our society. A crusade has been declared against the educated class, and in this movement the Government itself is not altogether guiltless. It seems to be forgotten that the educated class upon which a brand is thus set is a product of Russian history; that the Government itself, since the time of Peter the Great, has been creating this unfortunate class, and that now, whatever may be its character, it embodies all the self-conscious intellectual faculties of the Russian people. Those who seek to crush these intellectual faculties rely upon the support of excited passion, forgetting that passion is a double-edged blade, which, when it has been raised and turned in one direction, cannot be restrained if, under the influence of an unforeseen impulse, it takes another. Education,-the self-conscious thinking power, on the other hand, is the best possible support of order. It must be remembered, furthermore, that by encouraging passion, instead of intelligent reflection, administrative license strikes down the sense of lawfulness which in Russia is imperfectly developed at best. License also brings the organs of authority into collision with one another, and such collisions are extremely injurious to the processes of healthy national life. Nothing but the supremacy of law can regulate and discipline and bring into agreement with one another the organs of administrative authority.

But aside from all this, repression cannot kill human thought. Convincing proof of this fact is furnished by the last reign (1825 to 1855) as well as by more recent years. The idea of popular representation, for example, has recently taken enormous strides forward and has made its way even into the wilderness of the provinces, notwithstanding the fact that public discussion or consideration of that idea has been absolutely forbidden. In the absence of a free press there arises another medium of intercommunication in the shape of the oral transmission of ideas from mouth to mouth. Examples of the wide extension in this way of religious heresies are too well known to need reference,

word "license" is intended to have this signification wherever it occurs in the present paper. G. K.

These words cannot be translated into English. An ispravnik is a sort of local governor; stanavois and uriadniks are officers of the local rural police.

and precisely the same thing takes place in the sphere of politics. When the human mind is subjected to oppression, it becomes peculiarly acute and receptive, catching quickly at the slightest hint and attaching significance to things which under other circumstances it would pass without attention. It is this which gives so much weight to the utterances of the "underground" press. Everybody knows how quickly the newspaper "Kolokol" and other similar publications lost their influence when Russian periodicals were given even comparative freedom of speech.*

In the present unfortunate state of affairs repression is incapable of attaining even the immediate results which are expected from it, because it cannot find objects upon which to exert itself. There can be no war unless there is an enemy in the field. In a situation like the present one, opposition to the Government does not manifest itself exclusively through the actions of a few known individuals; it hovers in the air, and lurks in the hearts of a multitude of people. Severe measures may crush a few of the Government's prominent opponents, but in their places discontent sets forth new champions.

Finally, repression, by keeping the country in a state of constant alarm with warnings of impending danger and with extraordinary and ever-changing methods of prevention, diverts attention from the real necessities of the time and baffles all attempts to anticipate the future. The country lives only from day to day, when it ought to proceed at once and with vigor to its work. Whether, therefore, we regard repression as a necessary and normal feature of national life or merely as a temporary expedient useful in periods of agitation, we find that it is powerless to attain the results that are expected from it.


THE most marked feature of the present situation in Russia is extreme dissatisfaction in urgent need of free expression. Educated society as a whole, irrespective of rank, position, or opinions, is intensely dissatisfied, and out of that dissatisfaction arises the existing agitation.

First. The first and most important of society's unsatisfied demands is the demand for an opportunity to act. This demand even a constantly growing bureaucracy has been unable to silence. It has been encouraged and stimulated by the intellectual movement which began in the last century and which has continued in this; and as early as the beginning of the present reign there had already taken form

The "Kolokol," or "Bell," was a radical journal published fortnightly in London by Herzen.-G. K.

in literature and in society an ideal of national life which demanded realization. That ideal was founded upon the inviolability of personal rights, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and a system of government by which these things should be guaranteed. The reforms of the first half of the present reign gave completeness and permanence to this ideal and threw upon it the light of approval from above. At the same time, those reforms created social conditions which were so entirely new that the necessity for new national institutions to correspond with them became a necessity no longer theoretical but practical. The old mechanism of government proved to be incapable of directing the new and complex forces which were in operation. Only by the free and independent efforts of society itself could they be regulated and controlled. The striving of the people for an opportunity to act― to take part in the control of the national life — has therefore become a phenomenon which the ruling power must take into account. Unfortunately, however, it is a phenomenon which the Administration regards with hostility. At the very moment when society is aroused both by the nature of its own reflections and by the circumstances of the time and seeks to participate in the life of the State, the Administration throws obstacles in its way. If the ruling mechanism in its present form excludes from direct participation in the gov ernment a majority of those who have the first right and the strongest desire to take part in it, then that mechanism stands in need of reformation. Instead, however, of reforming it, the Government is striving to crush and strangle the very institutions intended to bring about such reformation.†

The Russian people are becoming more and more impressed with the conviction that an empire so extensive and a social life so complicated as ours cannot be managed exclusively by chinovniks. The provincial assemblies are educating year after year a larger and larger number of men who are capable of taking part in political life, and yet these assemblies are constantly and systematically repressed. Their legislation is subjected to the censorship of the provincial governors; their right to impose taxes for their own needs is restricted; they assemble under presiding officers whose disciplinary power is increased; their right to manage their own schools is denied; their recommendations and petitions are wholly unheeded; jurisdiction over all important questions is taken away from them and given to administrative bureaus, and the provincial governors are allowed to pass judgment upon

The zemstvos, or provisional and cantonal assemblies.-G. K.

the character of officials duly elected by popular vote. As a consequence of all this, there is great danger that the provincial assemblies, which should be the independent organs of local self-government, will be transformed into mere subordinate bureaus of the local administration. This system of forcible repression cannot crush the desire of the people for independent political activity, but it is quite enough to produce chronic dissatisfaction and to put the Administration in the attitude of serving the interests of a bureaucracy rather than the interests of the people.

Second. Another demand of society which at the present time is even less satisfied than the desire for political activity is the demand for personal security. The indispensable conditions upon which the very existence of modern society depends are free courts, freedom from arrest and search without proper precautions and safeguards, responsibility of officials for illegal detention and imprisonment, and the due observance of all the legal formalities of public and controversial trial in cases involving the infliction of punishment. In administrative limitations of judicial procedure, whatever be their nature, society cannot acquiesce. Administrative interference always creates license; it shows that the ruling power is not willing to submit to the laws which it has itself ordained, and that it seeks an opportunity to attack both the freedom of the courts and the rights of the persons with whom it is dealing. Such administrative interference, whatever may be its motives, cannot justify itself in the eyes of the people, and only serves to weaken the authority of the ruling power. The importance of the first stage of judicial procedure in Russia is destroyed by the lack of independent examining magistrates. The law providing that judges shall not be removed from office is deprived of all its virtue by the practice of transferring them to distant posts or promoting them without reason. How little faith there is in the existing method of selecting judges, and how carelessly vacancies are filled by appointment, is shown by the fact that not long ago in Moscow people went to court as they would go to the theater, to be amused by the ignorance and clownishness of an associate judge, who had been appointed by the Minister of Justice instead of another candidate recommended by the court itself. People who take a superficial view of life are amused by such things; the more serious members of society are deeply pained by them; but in both classes there is a consequent loss of respect for the Government. Great numbers of cases are removed entirely from the jurisdiction even of such imperfect courts as we have. In the almost unlimited province of

political crime, where the features which distinguish the permissible from the forbidden are so changeable and so difficult of definition, and where, consequently, personal liberty should be surrounded by the greatest possible safeguards, there exists a state of things which is in violation of all the Russian people's ideas of judicial procedure, and in flagrant violation of the most elementary principles of justice. A robber or a murderer cannot be searched nor arrested without a warrant from an official who must answer for his acts upon complaint of the sufferer; but in cases involving political crime an entirely different order of things prevails. For the past ten years the police, upon trivial suspicion or upon a false accusation, have been allowed to break into houses, force their way into the sphere of private life, read private letters, throw the accused into prison, keep them there for months, and finally subject them to an inquisitorial examination without even informing them definitely of the nature of the charges made against them. Many persons arrested in this way by mistake, or under misapprehension, have lived through this experience and have afterward returned to their homes. In the eyes of certain people and of the Government these sufferers are not men justified by the courts and reëstablished in their rights in the face of the world; they are dangerous members of society marked with the brand of disloyalty. In the eyes of other people they are innocent martyrs, or even heroes. It often happens that the lives of such persons are wrecked forever. The dead secrecy of political trials, in contrast with the publicity of ordinary jurisprudence; the unlimited exercise of power by the secret prosecutors, in contrast with the strictly enforced legality of every step in ordinary judicial procedure, are undermining in society the sense of lawfulness, and adding fuel to the fire of exasperation which burns in the hearts not only of the persons who have the misfortune to be prosecuted for political offenses, but of a much wider circle of people. In the absence of any legislation defining political crime and limiting the power of the institutions which deal with it, not a single person belonging to the educated class can regard himself as safe from political prosecution, and consequently not one can escape from the ever-present, humiliating, and exasperating consciousness that he is entirely without rights.

Still more out of harmony with the views of the people is the system of administrative exile and banishment without examination or trial, which has been practiced upon a more extensive scale within the past five years than ever before. While the spirit of the law and the first principles of justice forbid the in

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