Skip to main content

The Kazan Square Demonstration and the Conflict Between Russian Workers and Intelligenty

  • Pamela Sears McKinsey

The Kazan Square demonstration of December 6, 1876 was one of a number of attempts by revolutionary intelligenty to forge an alliance with the common people. Two striking features of this demonstration have often been noted. First, participants in the demonstration included not only members of the radical intelligentsia but also urban workers, an unusual feature for the first socialist street demonstration in Russia. Second, fewer workers took part than the radical intelligentsia had hoped, given their active propagandizing among factory workers. Some critics have found fault with the “abstract” nature of the propaganda, to use Georgii Plekhanov's later term. He and others blamed the limited worker participation on the failure of the populists to express concretely the real, immediate interests of the workers. Plekhanov later wrote that the workers of St. Petersburg could only have been drawn to the demonstration because it was a “new spectacle, not seen before.” The workers had no tangible reason for active participation in it. “For this reason they did not go to it.”

Hide All

I would like to thank the following for their assistance: Joseph Placek of Slavic Acquisitions and the Center for Russian and East European Studies, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Boris Sapir and the International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam; and the staffs of the Slavonic Section of the University of Helsinki Library and of the Public Library in Leningrad.

1. Plekhanov, G. V., “Russkii rabochii v revoliutsionnom dvizhenii (Po lichnym vospominaniiam), “Sochineniia, 3 (Moscow, 1928), p. 157.

2. Ibid., p. 151.

3. Ibid., p. 152.

4. The radical populists included remnants from various earlier circles, including the Chaikovskii Circle, the Frichi women's circle, students from the Caucasus, as well as students just arriving at the institutions of higher learning, for example, G. V Plekhanov. Since Chaikovskiists were instrumental in drawing all these groups together, probably the most common term for them all in 1876 was “Chaikovskiists.” See, for instance, the usage in the Lavrovist correspondence: the letters of V N.Smirnov to R. Kh. Idel'son of May 8, 1876, May 20, 1876, and others. Smirnov Archives, InternationalInstitute for Social History, Amsterdam (hereafter IISH), box 1, folio 3: “Pis'ma V N. Smirnovak R. Kh. Idel'son, 1876 g.,” l. 19, 56, and passim. Late in 1876 the Chaikovskiists split with Natanson and his closest followers. In order to avoid confusion I will use the terms “radical populists “or “buntarists” for all these people.

5. M. M. Chernavskii, “Demonstratsiia 6 dekabria 1876 goda; Po vospominaniiam uchastnika, “Katorga i ssylka (1926), no. 28–29, p. 11.

6. Confession of la. E. Gurovich, in E. A. Korol'chuk, ed., Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia v Rossii, k piatidesiatiletiiu demonstratsii na kazanskoi ploshchadi v Peterburge 6118 dekabria 1876(Moscow-Leningrad, 1927), p. 52. In October 1876 the Russian government presented Turkey with an ultimatum which expressed sympathy for the Slavs under Turkish rule who were fighting for human rights and demanded the autonomy of Herzegovina, Bosnia, and Bulgaria, to be secured by the presence of Russian troops.

7. Plekhanov, “Russkii rabochii.” p. 150. Gurovich in Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia,p. 52.

8. Letter of P. B. Aksel'rod to L. G. Deich of January 6, 1913, in Gruppa “Osvobozhdenie truda “; Sbornik No. 5 (Moscow-Leningrad, 1928), p. 243. Rusanov, N. S., lz moikh vospominanii(Berlin, 1923), pp. 148–52. The Lavrovists were also active among a group of Petersburg military clerks at the Main Staff. This led to the arrest of the Lavrovist E. S. Semianovskii and several-clerks,including S. P. Bogdanov, in August 1875.

9. ’ R. M. Plekhanova, “Periferiinyi kruzhok ‘Zemli i Voli,’ “ Gruppa “Osvobozhdenie truda “;Sbornik No. 4 (Moscow-Leningrad, 1926), p. 89; and see Figner, Vera, Zapechatlennyi trud (Moscow,1964), 1:135–36.

10. The best source on this activity is “Zakliuchenie prokurora Peterburgskoi sudebnoi palaty Fuksa, po delu ‘Obshchestvo druzei’ ot 10 dekabria 1877,” Istoriko-revoliutsionnyi sbornik, 3 (1926):63–105.

11. The common origins of this rivalry may go back to 1873 when a group of friends, including both future Chaikovskiists and future Lavrovists, propagandized workers. Perovskii, V. L., Vospominaniiao sestr'e (Sof'e Perovskoi) (Leningrad-Moscow, 1927), pp. 5461 .

12. Boris Sapir, ed., Vpered! 1873–1877; Material)/ iz arkhiva Valeriana Nikolaevicha Smirnova(Dordrecht, Netherlands, 1970), 2:193. My emphasis.

13. Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, p. 61; Stepan Shiriaev, “Avtobiograficheskaia zapiska Stepana Shiriaeva,” Krasnyi arkhiv, 7 (1924): 79; Figner, Zapechatlennyi trud, pp. 143–44.On populist labor organizing see Pamela S. McKinsey, “From City Workers to the Peasantry: The Beginning of the Movement ‘to the People,’ “ Slavic Review, 38, no. 4 (December 1979): 629–49,and “Russian Populists and Worker Organizing, 1860–1900,” unpublished paper presented at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Asilomar, California,September 1981.Plekhanov, on the other hand, later claimed to believe that the populists had no place in their theory for worker protest and only turned to it because the strike movement forced itself on their attention; they went to the workers against their inclinations. Plekhanov. “Russkii rabochii.” p. 124.

14. A quite abbreviated program (dating from late 1876 or early 1877, and written in the hand of A. D. Oboleshev) proposed a federative government, to be established after a violent overthrow of the present government, and growing out of the voluntary combining of autonomous obshchinasinto “volosts, provinces, lands, etc.” Private property, especially ownership of land, would be forbidden;each person wanting to farm would have the use of as much land as he himself could farm.S. N. Valk, ed., Arkhiv “Zemli i Voli” i “Narodnoi Voli” (Moscow, 1930), pp. 53–54; reprinted in S. S. Volk, ed., Revoliutsionnoe narodnkhestvo 70-kh godov XIX veka, vol. 2 (Moscow-Leningrad,1965), pp. 27–33.

15. Vpered! Materialy, 1: 132–41, is the best survey of the union.It is difficult to say precisely when the concept of propaganda by deed was adopted in Russia.According to a manifesto that the Lavrovists presented to a union meeting in April 1876, buntarism was voted down after a certain amount of argument when the union formed in the fall of 1875, and when Natanson described the position of the union while he was in London during late December of that year, he made it seem much more extreme than it was officially (ibid., 2:204–209). Perhaps a basic misunderstanding existed, but it is more likely that Natanson underwent a rapid radicalization,apparently as a result of his visit to Switzerland before proceeding on to visit the Lavrovists in London. G. A. Lopatin wrote Lavrov on December 19, 1875 that Natanson was terribly irritated at the buntarist Sergei Kravchinskii for attacking Lavrov; Natanson held that these views were Kravchinskii'salone and he did not “have the right to give them-out as the views of the circle… . They say that Kravchinskii is spoiled and gives himself airs abroad. They called him out of Italy to Geneva to haul him over the coals… . After meeting with him N[atanson] will go immediately to London “(Boris Sapir, ed., Lavrov; Gody emigratsii, vol. 1 [Dordrecht, Netherlands, 1974], pp. 332–33. Seealso pp. 293, 396–97). It seems that Kravchinskii persuaded Natanson. rather than vice versa.Propaganda by deed entailed defending the demands of the lower classes in open struggle,participating, for example, in uprisings or strikes “even in the case where an unsuccessful outcome of each such event can be foretold.” Each protest had educational value. Shiriaev, “Avtobiograficheskaiazapiska,” p. 79. Furthermore, it was difficult to determine when a country-wide popular uprising would begin, and it was best that the revolutionary organization not be taken by surprise.Plekhanov argued in this vein with the Lavrovists in late 1878. Rusanov, Iz moikh vospominanii,pp. 182–85.

16. The Lavrovist manifesto listed the points in which the union was deviating from the agreedupon program. First, the union was planning to create a peasant uprising in Nizhnii Novgorod province, imposing intelligentsia leadership and attitudes upon a spontaneous peasant protest. (Preparations for this undertaking continued until the police uncovered them in the spring of 1877.) The Lavrovists, by contrast, wanted to teach socialist principles to aggrieved groups of peasants or workers: “The goal of the socialist party is to introduce consciousness into popular movements.” Second,the union was seeking to arouse the passions of the student youth, even though previously all members had agreed that what the youth lacked was theoretical knowledge, not enthusiasm. (The manifesto did not mention the aftermath of Chernyshev's funeral, but this point probably referred to it.) Third,the union was proposing to curtail its monetary support of Vpered! Finally, the Lavrovists felt thatsome of those who had recently been accepted as members were unsuitable and had been accepted only because they were old Chaikovskiists. (Very likely these individuals were the Russian Bakuninists in Switzerland.) Personal ties were supposed to have been abandoned when the consolidated union formed. Vpered! Materialy, 1:204–209.In their correspondence the Lavrovists were even more critical. According to one Lavrovist, theunion would lead to “Putsches “; according to another the union was superficial in its activities; and according to a third the union aimed not at social revolution but at bourgeois revolution and constituted a movement of the intelligentsia alone (ibid., 2:469–70, 193–94. 204–205, 304).

17. Lavrovist theory approved of conscious protest movements. Yet sometimes Lavrovists apparently argued that any unsuccessful protest sets back the socialist movement for decades: “The blood of the dying fighters, the suffering of the masses who escape, the continuous triumph of reaction—all this must weigh on the conscience of those who continually push people to ‘constant revolution,’ as your Bakunin expressed it.” Rusanov, Iz moikh vospominanii, p. 183. The Lavrovists may also have believed that strikes were not a truly conscious form of protest. Shiriaev, writing in 1880, held that the Lavrovists opposed strikes because strikes had narrow goals, for instance small wage increases, while at the same time they reconciled workers to being exploited. Thus strikes diverted workers from proper socialist activity: understanding “the forms of just social relations, and acquiring allies and sympathetic comrades.” Shiriaev, “Avtobiograficheskaia zapiska,” p. 81.

18. Rusanov, Iz moikh vospominanii, p. 150ff. I have found an instance when a buntarist called the Lavrovists “Social Democrats” at that very time. (Reported in a letter of Smirnov to R. Kh.Idel'son of May 20, 1876, Smirnov Archives, IISH, box 1, folio 3: “Pis'ma V. N. Smirnova k R. Kh.Idel'son, 1876 g.,” l. 56. But in that context he meant by the term people who had an excessive fear of breaking the law, in contrast to the followers of Natanson.

19. Gurovich's confession in Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, pp. 51–52, 61.

20. One possibility that they discussed was a protest at the civil execution of E. S. Seraianovskii and S. P. Bogdanov (see n. 8). Since no one could predict when the civil executions would take place, however, a large crowd could not be collected ahead of time. Gurovich in Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, pp. 61–62.

21. Figner, Zapechatlennyi trud, p. 145.

22. Quoted in Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, p. 12.

23. Plekhanov's remark that the propaganda for the demonstration was too abstract and not based on “the existing mood” and the “given vital needs” of the particular worker milieu ( “Russkii rabochii,” p. 157) is thus not quite accurate.

24. Ibid., p. 150. Others have followed Plekhanov's view in drawing upon his memoirs: O. V.Aptekman, Obshchestvo ‘Zemlia i Volia’ 1870-kh godov (Moscow, 1924), p. 189; Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, pp. 3–19; Franco Venturi, Roots of Revolution (New York, 1966), p. 544.

25. One of these workers was a Val'per; it is conceivable that this person was the student A. A.Val'ter, but I believe that he was a pattern-maker from a Kolpino plant. Gurovich in Korol'chuk,Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, p. 60. Another worker was Vasilii la. Savel'ev, a fitter at the government Cartridge Works.

26. On December 5 a large crowd gathered for a requiem at St. Isaac's Cathedral, but nothing unusual occurred. Chernavskii, “Demonstratsiia,” p. 12.

27. “Zakliuchenie prokurora,” pp. 92, 94.

28. Gurovich in Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, pp. 62–63.

29. Ibid., p. 62; Zven'ia; Sbornik materialov i dokumentov po istorii literatury, iskusstva i obshchestvennoi mysli XIX veka, vol. 3–4 (Moscow-Leningrad, 1934), p. 734 (a letter written by Nikolai Pavlikov to Plekhanov in 1917). This secret agenda presages the presentation of a petition to the heir to the throne during the strike at the New Spinning and Weaving Factory in 1878. It seems likely that Plekhanov and others at that time borrowed the idea from the earlier period.

30. “Zakliuchenie prokurora,” pp. 92, 94.

31. The subject is unspecified; the meaning is probably “it was proposed. “

32. Vpered! Materialy, 2:520–21. Apparently the two mentions of “them” refer to “the workers. “although they could mean more broadly “the demonstrators.” If workers are meant as well by the term “they proposed,” the letter would add support to Plekhanov's claim that the demonstration was the plan of some workers.The term Putsch was a term used by Lavrovists elsewhere to describe the demonstration, so the Lavrovist writer here is probably interpolating his own view. The writer continues: “In any case this serves as a good lesson. The demonstration will be repeated—but on other foundations, for a rational cause, in one of the workers’ quarters, bigger in size, and without the interference of the intelligentsia. “These remarks closely parallel the Lavrovists’ opinions of the faults of the demonstration;it is doubtful that they were the worker's words (ibid.. 1:365–66).

33. Vpered! Materialy, 2:520.

34. Ibid. An additional passage of this letter which relates to 1877 is discussed below.

35. E. A. Korol'chuk, “Iz istorii propagandy sredi rabochikh Peterburga vo vtoroi polovine 70-kh godov,” Istoriko-revoliutsionnyi sbornik, 3 (1926): 62.Korol'chuk believed the main buntarist-worker circle was the same as Khalturin's and Obnorskii's group (ibid.). But neither Obnorskii nor Khalturin attended the buntarist-worker circle meetings,so her idea is doubtful. Probably the new worker organization was an amalgam. I have examined these groups in an unpublished paper, “The First All-Worker Russian Socialist Organization: The'Society of Friends,'” presented to the Canadian Association of Slavists, Ottawa, June 1982.

36. V. I. Nevskii, “Viktor Pavlovich Obnorskii,” Istoriko-revoliutsionnyi sbnornik,3 (1926): 24–27.

37. Report of General Trepov to Alexander II on the Kazan Square demonstration in Korol'chuk,Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, p. 19.

38. Plekhanov ( “Russkii rabochii,” p. 151) puts the number of workers alone at 200 to 250.

39. I have classified E. Z. Novakovskii as intelligent, because several of his friends and relatives who were at the trial were students and because he propagandized among the workers. Gurovich in Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, pp. 61–62.Those arrested actually totaled thirty-one, but ten were released for insufficient evidence. Trepov in Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, p. 19. I have identified nine of these ten, and none was a worker. If these people are added to those brought to trial the proportion of intelligenty to workers would be higher.

40. Plekhanov writes the workers had the idea of having the demonstration on a holiday in order to gather a large group. “Russkii rabochii,” p. 150.

41. P. A. Moiseenko, “Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie v 1875–86 godakh sredi rabochikh Peterburga i Orekhovo-Zueva (Morozovskaia stachka),” Letopis’ revoliutsii, no. 5 (1923): 113. As Moiseenko and a worker friend approached Presniakov's apartment they found him walking about outside watching for several individuals “from beyond the Nevskii [gate]” (ibid.). Very likely he was expecting workers from the plants there. A year later Rusanov found Lavrovist worker circles located here.Rusanov, Iz moikh vospominanii, p. 155. One wonders if the workers arrived.

42. Moiseenko, “Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie,” p. 113; Plekhanov, “Russkii rabochii,” p. 151.The radicals were determined to go ahead with the demonstration to avoid comparison with the organizers of the always postponed requiem for Russian volunteers killed in Serbia (ibid.).

43. Figner, Zapechatlennyi trud, p. 145.

44. Plekhanov, “Russkii rabochii,” p. 151. As noted above, at least some attempt was made to channel the grievances of the workers into the protest, even though the attempt was certainly not very effective.

45. In trial testimony one individual close to the propagandized workers Savel'ev and A. E.Gorodnichi mentioned having a number of name-day celebrations to attend on the day of the demonstration.B. Basilevskii (pseud, of Vasilii la. Iakovlev), ed., Gosudarstvennyiaprestupleniia v Rossii v XIX veke, vol. 2 (Rostov-on-Don, [1905?], pp. 50–51.

46. A. N. Bibergal', “Vospominaniia o demonstratsii na Kazanskoi ploshchadi,” Katorga issylka(1926), (28–29), p. 25.

47. Plekhanov, “Russkii rabochii,” p. 152.

48. The Lavrovist Anton Taksis was there “not as a participant, but as a spectator.” Taksis told friends that “a whole mass of radicals who had advocated the value of a demonstration did not participate” but could be seen “observing at a distance.” At least one of these individuals, I. I.Kablits, later claimed to have taken part. Letter of V. N. Smirnov to R. Kh. Idel'son of January 23,1878, Smirnov Archives, IISH, box 6, folio: “Pis'ma B. Smirnova k R. Kh. Idel'son ot 1–1-1878 g. do 25-V-1878g., “/. 54.

49. Gurovich in Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia, pp. 61–62.

50. D. N. Smirnov, “Na Trubochnom zavode v proshlom,” Krasnaia letopis', no. 2; 26 (1928),p. 219.

51. “Zakliuchenie prokurora,” p. 89 and passim.

52. I have identified seventeen of the workers definitely known to have participated in the demonstration. At least the first five were from Makferson: Aleksandr I. Forsman, Anton S. Karpov,Nikolai S. Obruchnikov, Nikolai I. Pavlikov, Vasilii D. Shkalov, Matvei G. Grigor'ev, Grigorii I.Gromov, Karl A. Ivanainen, Aleksandr A. Krestovozdvizhenskii, Petr M. Kukin, Stepan V. Mitrofanov,Petr A. Moiseenko, Aleksandr I. Moroshkin, Iakov S. Potapov, Vasilii la. Savel'ev (Ivanov),and Moiseenko's friend Pavel (last name unknown).

53. Plekhanov later told Pavel Aksel'rod how Natanson sent him running to the workers’ apartments to alert them; then Natanson questioned him closely to find which apartments he had missed,demanding “in a raised tone” of voice that he return to those spots. P. B. Aksel'rod, Perezhitoe i peredumannoe (Berlin, 1923), p. 157. N. N. Khazov took upon himself the task of alerting the buntarist-worker organization. When Khazov urged these workers to attend, one receptive worker exclaimed, “We'll show them!” “Zakliuchenie,” p. 89.

54. Plekhanov, “Russkii rabochii,” p. 152. Mark Natanson could be observed writing in a notebook.He may have been recording the names of the individuals who attended, since participation was to be a test of worker loyalty.

55. Chernavskii, “Demonstratsiia,” p. 13.

56. Gosudarstvennyia prestupleniia, p. 41. One priest had already left to alert police.

57. Figner, Zapechatlennyi trud, p. 145.

58. Chernavskii, “Demonstratsiia,” p. 14. A witness related that N. V. Chaikovskii's name was mentioned (Gosudarstvennyia prestupleniia, p. 14). He was living abroad. Perhaps Plekhanov mentioned him because he was a “Nikolai” or meant that official persecution had driven him abroad.

59. At the same time that Mitrofanov was aiding Plekhanov and taking an active part in the activity of the radicals, he was also informing on them to the Third Section. When he had been arrested in March 1874, he betrayed Petr Kropotkin, causing his arrest; after this Mitrofanov continued to bring information to the Third Section. In 1879 he betrayed Aleksei Peterson who had taken shelter in his apartment, and after Viktor Obnorskii's arrest Mitrofanov turned over to police a telegram he had received for Obnorskii. Mitrofanov did not betray Plekhanov, however, eventhough the two continued to meet in 1878 and 1879. Korol'chuk, Pervaia rabochaia demonstratsiia,p. 86, n. 2.

60. Gosudarstvennyia prestupleniia, pp. 5, 28, 34–5.

61. Bibergal', “Vospominaniia,” p. 25.

62. Ibid., p. 24. According to Bibergal', some had hoped that the demonstration could attract up to 10,000 people. The worker Pavlikov later recalled that estimates ran up to 15,000. Zven'ia,p. 734.

63. Gosudarstvennyia prestupleniia, pp. 7, 15, 51.

64. Ibid., p. 5.

65. Ibid., pp. 117–26.

66. Moiseenko, “Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie,” p. 113.

67. An anonymous denunciation several days after ‘Kazanka’ pointed to Natanson. Plekhanov,and N. N. Khazov as the main instigators of the demonstration. On May 7, 1877 the police found a box of documents and underground booklets in Moscow near the apartment of two students of the Petrovskaia Academy. Among them were the personal papers of Khazov, who was actively being sought. The police were thus able to identify Khazov and through this link arrest several propagandized workers who were still at liberty and living in Moscow: Gerasimov, Krestovozdvizhenskii, and Karpov. Eventually Karpov yielded, and his testimony served as the main source for the indictment against the St. Petersburg worker-populist organization. “Zakliuchenie prokurora,” pp. 79–86.

68. The Lavrovists claimed to be damaged also, as a resulf of the demonstration. See “K zlobednia: Po povodu poslednykh politicheskikh protsessov,” Vpered! Neperiodicheskoe obozrenie. vol. 5(London, 1877), p. 146. In 1880, however, the narodovolets Stepan Shiriaev attributed the strong Lavrovist influence on the Northern Russian Workers’ Union to the very fact of continuous Lavrovist presence among the workers. He claimed that the arrests of workers and buntarists in 1877 and 1878(resulting from the collapse of the buntarist-worker circle in 1877 and the strike at the New Spinning and Weaving Factory the following year) removed from the scene precisely those radical populists who propagandized workers, and those workers who favored the radical program over that of the Lavrovists. “On the other hand, the influence of the Lavrovists, whom these pogroms scarcely touched, continued to be felt, and added its yeast to the convictions of those workers who were the organizers of the Union.” Shiriaev, “Avtobiograficheskaia zapiska,” p. 87.

69. Taksis believed that attacks on the radicals by all ranks of society would weaken the socialist cause generally, and he felt that at this moment of the radicals’ distress all socialists should rally together; hence he offered the Vpered! press to the radicals for a description of the events of December 6. This brief description and a longer version of Plekhanov's speech were sent to London in December with a notation from Taksis: “Place without fail in no. 48. This is apparently the official communication, which was approved by various circles.” Kuliabko-Koretskii's letter to Smirnov ofJanuary 3, 1877, Smirnov Archives, IISH, box 2, folio 10: “Pis'ma N. G. Kuliabko-Koretskogo k Smirnovu, 1877 g.,” l. 7. Plekhanov's speech duly appeared in Vpered! no. 48 (December 31/19,1876), cols. 791–92; along with the description it also appeared as a leaflet. Reprinted in Istorikorevoliutsionnyi sbornik, 2 (1926): 318–21. In an obscure remark the worker Moiseenko says that a proclamation was printed since spies were spreading the rumor among the “dark masses” that the students revolted because “their land had been taken” (presumably in 1861). Moiseenko, “Revoliutsionnoedvizhenie,” p. 113. Perhaps he was referring to this leaflet.Other Lavrovists were not happy at Taksis's gesture. Yet Kuliabko-Koretskii, hostile to the demonstration and unhappy that the radicals were given a forum in Vpered! (especially since the radicals’ account “portrayed the events in a fantastic way “), admitted nevertheless that he did not want to “go at cross purposes” with those Lavrovists who had offered space in the newspaper, in view of the “reversal” that the socialists had experienced in Russia. “I am a bad politician.” headmitted to Lev Ginzburg, “thus I do not know if your [people] did well to take upon themselves the responsibility” for printing the communication “and took it into their heads to be used by [the radicals] for the strengthening of their cause,” but “it seems to me that this was a mistake.” Kuliabko-Koretskii's letter to Smirnov of the evening of January 3, 1877, Smirnov Archives, IISH, box 2,folio 10: “Pis'ma N. G. Kuliabko-Koretskogo k Smirnovu, 1877 g.,” l. 11–12.

70. Lev Ginzburg felt obliged to emphasize to other Lavrovists that the Chernyshev funeral demonstration had after all provided the model for ‘Kazanka.’ But Kuliabko-Koretskii quickly pointed out that “your parallel is hardly correct.” The Chernyshev demonstration occurred spontaneously out of a true human grievance, whereas “this one hung in midair and no one knows why that pretext was chosen instead of a different one.” On the previous occasion the protest “was expressed naturally, as if it poured out from the soul; here it was artifically prepared.” The Chernyshev funeral attracted a large crowd, including people not in the populist circles who simply were sympathetic, or who experienced “a feeling of revulsion toward legal murder.” But it had been unrealistic to expect a crowd for this demonstration, and indeed only about one hundred people attended, according to a private letter Kuliabko-Koretskii had received. Finally, even people not participating in the Chernyshev funeral sympathized with it, whereas the Kazan Square demonstration “provoked the scoffing and mockery of the official spokesmen for ‘public opinion,’ and a discreet,restrained, disapproving smile from the rest of the public (the best that one could expect).” Letter of Kuliabko-Koretskii to Smirnov of January 1, 1877, Smirnov Archives, IISH, box 2, folio 10: “Pis'ma N. G. Kuliabko-Koretskogo k Smirnovu, 1877 g.,” l. 2. Emphasis in original.

71. “K zlobe dnia,” pp. 146–48. The Lavrovists who had taken over Vpered! reported here that correspondence on the demonstration was all negative. One correspondent had called it “disgraceful, “another “unsuccessful,” a third reported that all the socialist circles had been damaged. Kuliabko-Koretskii called the demonstration, “stupid, illogical, harmful, and childishly naive.” Letter of Kuliabko-Koretskii to Smirnov of December 23, 1876. Smirnov Archives, IISH, box 2, folio 9: “Pis'ma N. G. Kuliabko-Koretskii k Smirnovu, 1876,” l. 119.

72. Vpered! Materialy, 1:365, n. 8.

73. A copy of the manuscript was first found by police among Khazov's papers in 1877, but the manuscript was not in his handwriting, and he had written a critical remark upon it. Korol'chuk. “Iz istorii,” p. 57. The following year another copy was seized in a search at A. D. Oboloshev'sapartment. “Sudebnaia khronika,” Golos, no. 135 (May 16, 1880): 3, col. 3. This information was brought to my attention by Sh. M. Levin. Ohshchestvennoe dvizhenie v Rossii v 60–70e gody XIX veka (Moscow, 1958), p. 447n. The political views expressed in the manuscript resemble Oboleshev's.

74. The first section contrasted the honoring of prisoners who had died with the government's pretense of striving for justice and humanity in the Turkish empire; the second and third sections responded to the direct criticisms of the press, liberal society, and the Lavrovists. To the criticismsof the press and liberal society—that the demonstration undermined the chances of obtaining new freedoms—the author responded that the government would make only the concessions that the people obliged it to make. The author also responded to the criticisms of the “fellow socialists” that the demonstration should have been postponed till circumstances were better, that it was poorly organized, and that things went badly; this response occurred principally in the last section.

75. “Po povodu sobraniia russkoi narodnoi partii 6 dekabria 1876 g.,” Istoriko-revoliutsionnyi sbomik, vol. 3 (1926): 114–15.

76. The author mentions four reasons. (1) The workers lived closer together. (2) Their economic situations were much more uniform, which permitted easy rapport. (3) They were mentally more developed than peasants as a result of the variety of impressions received from city life. (4) Workers had more frequent and sharper clashes with the representatives of the government and ruling classes.Ibid., p. 115.

77. Ibid.

78. Ibid. The author does not, however, wish to cast off the peasantry and says that peasants would continue to occupy a central place in the programmatic demands of the populists because of their great numbers and the depth of their suffering.

79. Ibid., pp. 115–16.

80. Ibid.

81. N. S. Rusanov's memoirs make it clear that even after the demonstration, when the villages once again took priority, some populists close to the heart of Land and Liberty continued to say that the populists should concentrate on workers and should adopt a political program for them inspired by the example of German workers. For some of these (Lev Zak and Moshe Zundelevich for instance)the acquaintance with Germany was first-hand. Aleksandr Bogdanovich, Nikolai Khazov, and others may have acquired it second-hand, through conversations or through reading Vpered!, the same way that many of the workers gained acquaintance with German social democracy. Rusanov, Iz moikh vospominanii, pp. 153–54.

82. Aleksei Oboleshev was the foremost exponent of the view that political and civil rights wereworth attaining as tools in the social struggle of the masses. Aptekman, Obshchestvo, pp. 293–94.Oboleshev, one of the central figures of Land and Liberty, was arrested in October 1878 and diedin prison on July 26, 1881 while serving a twenty-year sentence at hard labor.Oboleshev was not the only one who believed that political reforms were very near. Early in 1877 Mark Natanson mentioned that he expected a constitution to be granted very soon. Perovskii.Vospominaniia, pp. 90–91. But for Natanson the political reforms on the horizon were simply one element in the emerging revolutionary situation; an acquaintance wrote in a letter of December 27,1875: “In general, if [you] listen to N[atanson], the procurators and landowners and everyone are all now expressing their sympathy for a revolution.” Vpered! Materialy, 2:194. Natanson's strong inclination toward the peasants, and that of Plekhanov's at this time, make them unlikely as authors of the manuscript apology, which unabashedly favors workers over peasants.

83. This orientation was not universal; a certain number of buntarists continued to be active among the workers in 1877. For instance, in the spring Nikolai Khazov and Aleksandr Bogdanovich were active among some workers in Moscow, as were Bogdanovich, Nikolai S. Tiutchev, and others in the fall and winter of 1877 in St. Petersburg, “Zakliuchenie prokurora,” pp. 75–85; Rusanov, Izmoikh vospominanii, pp. 151–52; M. Bortnik, “V 70-e i 80-e gody na Trubochnom zavode,” Krasnaialetopis', no. 2: 26 (1928), p. 201.Furthermore, an attempt to rally workers and students in a demonstration was made again that year. “A protest against the war with Turkey was thought up, but it did not succeed: very few common people gathered for it; the young comrades were drafted into the army, and the older ones became afraid of landing in prison.” Moiseenko, “Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie,” p. 114.An additional reason for the failure to publish the manuscript may have been that in April the police captured the underground press of N. A. Kuznetsov and A. Averkev, which in March and April had published the speeches of the defendants in the Trial of the Fifty.

84. An explosition in the pipe division of the Cartridge Works, in a shop where gunpowder was handled, killed nine workers on December 7, 1877 and led to a spontaneous outburst of the workers'anger at the funeral. Bortnik, “V 70-e i 80-e gody,” pp. 196–204.It is worth remembering that to a certain extent the Kazan Square demonstrators were also influenced by the unhappiness of the workers at being dismissed at a time of recession.

85. The main memoir sources for this activity are: M. R. Popov, Zapiski zemlevol'tsa (Moscow,1933), pp. 167–86; Plekhanov, “Russkii rahBdRteSm. 161–84; and Moiseenko, “Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie,” pp. 114–16.

86. Vpered! Material), 2:520.

87. “Zakliuchenie prokurora,” p. 78. Another worker later reported to police that once, when Natanson made a remark that displeased the workers. Presniakov snapped, “We don't need you. “Ibid., p. 89.

88. See Plekhanov's account of this episode, “Russkii rabochii,” pp. 135–36.

89. M. R. Popov, “Iz mpego revoliutsionnogo proshlogo,” Byloe, 5 (1907): 292.

90. G. Golosov, “K biografii odnogo iz osnovatelei ‘Severo-Russkogo Rabochego Soiuza,’ I. A.Bachin i ego drama.” Katorga i ssylka, no. 6 (1924): 57.

91. Vpered! Materialy, 2:521. The issue of the value of education versus agitation in the worker circles continued to be a significant issue in 1877 and later. Ibid.

92. In police testimony Petr Peterson reported that Natanson constantly urged the workers to go to the countryside and help create an uprising, “but the workers did not agree.” Soon after these meetings he heard that “the workers wanted to break off with Natanson for pestering them with his proposals to carry out an uprising, but how this ended I do not know.” “Zakliuchenie prokurora, “pp. 104–105.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Slavic Review
  • ISSN: 0037-6779
  • EISSN: 2325-7784
  • URL: /core/journals/slavic-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed