© Alan Kimball
25 October 1989
University of Oregon

What follows is the text from which a presentation was made before a conference on Russia in the Era of Great Reforms, in Philadelphia PA. This text served as the basis for a Russian-language essay =

1992: "Russkoe grazhdanskoe obshchestvo i politicheskii krizis v epokhu Velikikh Reform, 1859-1863" [Russian Civil Society and the Political Crisis in the Epoch of Great Reforms, 1859-1863]. In Larisa Zakharova, et al., eds., Velikie reformy v Rossii 1856-1874. Moscow: Moscow State University Press. Pages 260-282

Defeat in the Crimean War shocked the Russian state and rushed it into a period of a dozen or so years that are sometimes called the era of great reforms. At the center of this period stands the major event of nineteenth century Russian history, the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. Surrounding that event were four years of intense political crisis, 1859-1863, sometimes called the first revolutionary situation in Russia.

These four years of crisis, may be summarized in the following way. The imperial state announced its intention to liberate the serfs and initiate several other important reforms. Citizens, or perhaps at the beginning we should say "subjects" of the Empire, reacted to state initiatives with energetic initiatives of their own. In a few short years the previous eras in the history of Russian civil society, characterized by small discussion circles [kruzhki], was supplanted by a new era of larger formal and informal organizations. It was not yet the time of political parties, but it was a period of significant beginnings of an organized civil society. The inventory of great reforms did not include "civic reform." Civic reform was not in the immediate interests of the ruling circles. The state thus had no way to deal with this explosion of public energy, except those ways inherited from the Nicholas era. The subsequent clash between the state and its mobilizing subjects caused the revolutionary situation; the conspiratorial beginnings of modern Russian revolutionary movements were the result of the clash. Russian revolutionary movements grew from a process in which "subjects" were thwarted as they first began to organize themselves into groups of citizens.

{_{ Brief overviews of the historical bibliographies and leading issues in this period may be found in Daniel Field, "The Reforms of the 1860's", in S. H. Baron and N. W. Heer, eds., Windows on the Russian Past (Columbus OH: 1977):89-104; and Alan Kimball, "Revolutionary Situation in Russia (1859-1862)", The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History 31:54-57.}_}

If the epoch were grand opera, the roles of the leading protagonists would be performed by five choirs. In the order of their appearance, these choirs are the state, the peasantry, the landowning gentry, national "minority" groups, and finally the emerging civil society. Each of these choirs is distinguished by a small cluster of outstanding soloists. But the action does not hinge so much on the conduct of individuals as it does on the conduct of groups, acting within distinct institutions or social organizations, and occasionally in massive crowds, as in the case of village disorders or the armies sent to put them down. In this grand opera, as if by Modest Mussorgskii or Sergei Eisenstein, people act in rhythmic and harmonized but largely spontaneous association with one another, only seldom stepping out to solo.

Visualize a stage at the back of which is a high fortress wall. The state acts from behind the wall, the other four choruses perform their role almost always within the shadow of the wall. The imperial state does not lurk anonymously off stage in the opera.

The Imperial State

The Russian Imperial state towers over all the action. And yet the the state choir does not always sing in harmony. Deep divisions within the tsarist administration with respect to the extent, pace, and character of reform threatened the stability of government from within. The Grand Prince Konstantin Nikolaevich's Naval Ministry seemed to give refuge and solace to reformers and others who opposed the traditional power of the centralized state. The official naval journal, Morskoi sbornik, was a major voice of reform. In the War Ministry in 1858, Nikolai Chernyshevskii -- later branded the arch-demon of revolutionary conspiracy -- was briefly co-editor of the reformist journal Voennyi sbornik.

{_{ E. Willis Brooks, “The Improbable Connection: D. A. Miljutin and N. G. Černyševskij,1848-1862", 1989:JGO#31:21-44.}_}

The official Russian Orthodox Church, and its clergy, were a restless participant in events.

{_{ Gregory L. Freeze, The Parish Clergy in Nineteenth-Century Russia: Crisis, Reform, Counter-Reform (Princeton:1983).}_}

We see the natural outlines of four factions behind the wall: court, ministerial bureaucracy, military officers, and the church, with its clergy. In response to the events of the period, these four factions occasionally and briefly separate from one another, rise to view, then reassume their posts behind the bastions of the state. Although it wobbled badly, and seemed at one point in the winter of 1861-1862 to be on the verge of collapse, the state finally pulled itself together and weathered the crisis.

{_{ Essay devoted particularly to the role of the state [TXT].}_}

The Mix of State and Society

The traditional institutional structures and social formations were in an unusual flux. Three of the four choruses before the walls of state power, excluding only the peasantry, were distinguished by a striking intermixture with the state chorus behind the wall, as well as by a considerable fluidity of membership among themselves. The civilian bureaucracy, the military, and the clergy were constantly spinning off from their ranks large numbers of people who could no longer bear careers "behind the wall." These people swelled the chorus of the voluntary societies and brought a fresh and informed anger to social movements. Nikolai Serno-Solov'evich is a perfect model of just such a transition from ambitious young bureaucrat to revolutionary conspirator. Aleksandr Sleptsov, another organizer of the underground conspiracy named Land and Liberty, served in the Ministry of Education through the whole period. Colonel Nikolai Obruchev, active in Litfond, literacy organizations, Chess Club, etc., was a professor at the Nicholas Academy of the General Staff. Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandr Putiata, a high velocity producer of plans for social organizations, was also assigned to the General Staff. Colonel Petr Lavrov, who assumed executive responsibilities in Litfond and Chess Club, was a professor at the artillery academy. A large number of sons of priests, with no plans for a clerical career, leave their imprint on the course of events in the Sixties: Nikolai Dobroliubov (editorial associate on the most popular journal of the epoch, Sovremennik), Grigorii Blagosvetlov (editor of the second most popular journal, Russkoe slovo, member of Litfond and Chess Club, and founder of Land and Liberty), and of course Chernyshevskii himself.

Therefore, the state, the first choir in the political drama of the 1860s, was discordant.

In the Countryside

The second and third choirs, the servile peasantry and the serfowning gentry, were hardly more sonorous. The peasants expressed themselves in massive choruses of discontent, and close analysis of peasant disorders show a greater degree of organizational coherence than one might expect.

{_{ The temperance brotherhoods, 1859-1860, illustrate the organizational abilities of the peasantry. See Alan Kimball, The Village Kabak as an Expression of Russian Civil Society, 1855-1905. Also see Alan Kimball, "Conspiracy and Circumstance in Saratov, 1859-1864," in Politics and Society in Provincial Russia: Saratov, 1590-1917, edited by Rex A. Wade and Scott J. Seregny (Columbus OH:1989).}_}

Gentry committees deliberated on emancipation, and the traditional gentry assemblies fulminated against government outrages. The gentry choir sang with gusto, but to no real effect.

{_{ P. A. Zaionchkovskii, The Abolition of Serfdom in Russia (Gulf Breeze:1978); Terence Emmons, The Russian Landed Gentry and Peasant Emancipation (Cambridge:1968); Daniel Field, The End of Serfdom: Nobility and Bureaucracy in Russia, 1855-1861 (Cambridge MA:1976); and L. G. Zakharova, Samoderzhavie i otmena krepostnogo prava v Rossii, 1856-1861 (MVA:1984).}_}


National Minorities

The third chorus before the wall of the state were national minorities, a richly various and, in these years, small choir. The Empire always ran a low fever in the form of an active resentment of tsarist authority born in the breasts of the many non-Russian peoples ruled from Saint Petersburg. We will soon see that Polish rebellion marked the final event in the story of this revolutionary situation.

{_{ See E. S. Shabl'ovs'kyi, T. G. Shevchenko i russkie revoliutsionnye demokraty, translated from the second, augmented edition of "Shevchenko i rosiis'ka revoliutsiina demokratiia" (KIV:1975); I. M. Cherikover [Elias Tcherikower], Istoriia Obshchestva dlia rasprostraneniia prosveshcheniia mezhdu evreiami v Rossii: kul'turno-obshchestvennye techeniia v russkom evreistve, 1863-1913 gg., vol. 1 (SPB:1913); T. F. Fedosova, Pol'skie revoliutsionnye organizatsii v Moskve (MVA:1974); and G. M. Kazarian, Armianskoe obshchestvenno-politicheskoe dvizhenie v 50--60-kh godakh XIX veka i Rossiia (Erevan:1979).}_}


Fledgling Civil Society

The gentry and the national minority populations performed their most promising roles within the fourth choir, civil society, the most recent and articulate of the oppositional choruses before the wall of state power. "Civil society" (the most frequently used Russian expressions were obshchestvo and occasionally publika) formed itself to the contours of a complicated network of specific voluntary societies. In other words, the abstraction obshchestvo found its material expression in the experience of dozens of obshchestva (social organizations). Like the English word "society," the Russian word obshchestvo has both generic and specific meanings.

Hundreds of societies, representing many varieties of group activity, came into existence: joint-stock companies, banks, savings and loan associations, insurance companies, manufacturing and processing companies, railroad and steamboat lines, trading companies, journals, schools, agricultural societies, workshops (carpenters, cobblers, tailors, seamstresses), co-ops (consumer, producer, and housing), revitalized peasant assemblies and temperance brotherhoods, religious sodalities, assemblies of clergymen, national-minority associations, scientific societies, professional groups (lawyers, doctors, journalists, teachers, architects, actors and playwrights, translators, and writers of prose and poetry), printing establishments, bookstores, public libraries, urban services establishments (city lighting companies, public laundries, restaurants, clothing stores, fire brigades, sanitation and utility companies, charitable foundations, and many other sorts of voluntary association.

{_{ This essay grows out of a detailed, computer-assisted study of social organizations and the mobilization of political opposition in the years after the Crimean War. From dozens of archival funds and untapped published documentation I have created datafiles which contain ca. 3000 biographical entries devoted to members and associates of public organizations and participants in various political initiatives in this era. The datafiles list around 800 voluntary organizations, widely various in size, duration, and location. Ustavy [bylaws], sometimes sostavy [membership rolls], and occasionally minutes of meetings were published in the two major daily newspapers, Sankt-peterburgskie vedomosti [hereafter Svd] and Moskovskie vedomosti [hereafter Mvd]. Similar chronicles of group life were published in Knizhnyi vestnik [hereafter KnV], Russkii invalid [hereafter RIn], and other journals. The only efforts at systematic histories of social organizations in Russia are those of A. D. Stepanskii. His works are useful, but by design they are superficial pedagogical overviews; see Istoriia obshchestvennykh organizatsii dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii: uchebnoe posobie (MVA:1979), and "Obshchestvennye organizatsii rossiiskoi intelligentsii i revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie," in K. V. Gusev, ed., Intelligentsiia i revoliutsiia: XX vek (MVA:1985). For other histories of voluntary societies in Russia, see Mark Aronson and S. Reiser, Literaturnye kruzhki i salony, edited by B. M. Eikhenbaum (LGR:1929); Adele Lindenmeyr, "Public Poor Relief and Private Charity in Late Imperial Russia," PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 1980; and Gregory L. Freeze, ed., From Supplication to Revolution: A Documentary Social History of Imperial Russia (Oxford ENG:1988).}_}

Obshchestvo may be broken into five distinct organizational groupings:

(1) gentry assemblies, committees, agricultural societies, and various economic enterprises (1858-1862),
(2) Literary Fund, its provincial auxiliaries, Student Section, and the Free University (1859-1862),
(3) committees for literacy, Sunday schools, and the educational book trade and press (1859-1862),
(4) Chess Club (1861-1862), and finally
(5) Land and Liberty (1862-1863).

The first organizations to put forward the cause of civil society were associated with the gentry opposition to emancipation. In 1859 two venerable voluntary societies, the Free Economic Society and the Imperial Geographic Society formed distinctly policy-oriented "Political-Economic" committees.

{_{ A. I. Khodnev, Istoriia imperatorskogo Vol'nogo Ekonomicheskogo Obshchestva s 1765 do 1865 goda (SPB:1865):356-7. Also see Dvadtsatiletie Imperatorskogo russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva (SPB:1872); and Istoriia poluvekovoi deiatel'nosti Imperatorskogo russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva, 1845-1895, part 1 (SPB:1896).}_}

In 1860, the Moscow Agricultural Society experienced a remarkable revival. A Petersburg sister organization similarly sprang to life.

{_{ I. T. Dovzhenko, "Sel'skokhoziaistvennye obshchestva v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, ikh osobennosti i razmeshchenie," in Istoricheskaia geografiia Rossii, XII-nachalo XX v. (MVA:1975):207-16. See Kratkii obzor piatidesiatiletnei deiatel'nosti Imperatorskogo Moskovskoeog Obshchestvo Sel'skogo khoziaistva s 1820 po 1870 god (MVA:1871); and Istoricheskaia zapiska o 30-ti letnei deiatel'nosti Imperatorskogo Moskovskogo obshchestva sel'skogo khoziaistva i ego Presidenta I. N. Shatilova, 1860-1889 g. (MVA:1890). Also see M. P. Borovskii, Istoricheskii obzor piatidesiatiletnei deiatel'nosti Imperatorskogo Obshchestva Sel'skogo Khoziastva Iuzhnoi Rossii, s 1828 po 1878 god (ODE:1878); and I. Palimpsestov, ed., Sbornik statei o sel'skom khozaistve iuga Rossii izvlechennykh iz Zapisok Imperatorskogo obshchestva sel'skogo khoziastva iuzhnoi Rossii, s 1830 po 1868 god (ODE:1868). On the Petersburg organization Sel'skii khoziain, see 1859mr18:Mvd#66:490.}_}

We notice a particular political liveliness among groups engaged in non-agricultural but related economic or technical fields like steam power on rails or riverways, and urban services.

{_{ Re. urban services and utilities, see 1859au13:Mvd#191:1431-2, "Neskol'ko slov ob Obshchestve publichnykh pracheshnykh zavedenii v Moskve". Other utility societies: Obshchestvo stolichnogo osveshcheniia [1858oc30:Mvd#130:1232-3]. Obshchestvo Vodosnabzheniia so significantly improved water utility service in Petersburg that the society made plans to expand into other areas where pure water had become a problem: Kiev, Saratov, Tambov, Kazan, etc. [1858no20:Mvd#139:1324]. See also Obshchestvo vodoprovoda Odessa-Dniestr, Obshchestvo osveshcheniia gazom, and Obshchestvo gorodskogo molochnogo khoziastva [KnV, passim].}_}

None were more active in the political arena than the Russian Steamline and Trade Company [Russkoe obshchestvo parokhodstva i torgovlia].

{_{ S. Ya. Borovoi, "S. S. Gromeka i A. I. Gertsen," Revoliutsionnaia situatsiia v Rossii v 1859-1861 gg., 9 (1986):126-136 [hereafter RSR]. S. Ilovaiskii, Istoricheskii ocherk piatdesiatiletiia Russkogo obshchestva parokhodstva i torgovli (ODE:1907).}_}

The same liveliness is to be found among the liberal professions, particularly the whole gamut of professions associated with culture and education, ranging from writers and scholars, through the whole book-publishing and book-distributing trade, to teachers. In 1858 the moribund Moscow literary society, Obshchestvo Liubitelei Rossiiskoi slovesnosti, came to life under the leadership of Longinov, Aksakov, and Khomiakov.

{_{ Besedy v Obshchestve Liubitelei Rossiiskoi Slovesnosti pri Moskovskom Universitete, vol. 1 (MVA:1867); Istoricheskaia zapiska i materialy za sto let (MVA:1911); "Publichnoe zasedanie Obshchestva Liubitelei Rossiiskoi Slovesnosti, 7-go Noiabria" [1860:Mvd#48]; and "Rechi, proiznesennye v Obshchestve Liubitelei Rossiiskoi Slovesnosti...," Russkaia beseda, no. 1, book 19 (1860):1-40.}_}



The fastest growing and by 1862 largest social organization was the Society for Aid to Needy Writers and Scholars [Obshchestvo dlia Posobiia nuzhdaiushchimsia literatoram i uchenym, or Litfond] with its executive committee in Petersburg. Pavel Annenkov, Ivan Turgenev, Andrei Kraevskii, Konstantin Kavelin, Nikolai Serno-Solov'evich, Lavrov, Chernyshevskii, and about seventy other leading writers, publishers, pundits, journalists, and scholars launched Litfond in 1859. Membership grew quickly to about 600 in the year of emancipation. Blagosvetlov, the brothers Kurochkin, Sleptsov, and other central figures in the Russian opposition of that era joined within the first weeks. Many of these figures have become well known names solely in association with the later revolutionary organization Land and Liberty. Litfond membership was by no means limited to writers and researchers. Among members one finds economists, inventors, investors, teachers, administrators, military officers, chemists, book publishers, translators, lawyers, and medical doctors--a civil society in miniature. Provincial affiliates operated in Moscow, Saratov, Odessa, and other centers.

{_{ The main published sources of information on Litfond are [Dvadtsat' piat'] XXV let, 1859-1884: Sbornik, izdannyi komitetom Obshchestva... (SPB:1884); Obshchestvo dlia posobiia nuzhdaiushchimsia literatoram i uchenym: Pervyi god ego sushchestvovaniia, s 8 noiabria 1859 g. (vremia ego otkrytyia) po 2 fevralia 1861 g. (vremia ego godichnogo sobraniia) (SPB:1861); Obshchestvo dlia posobiia nuzhdaiushchimsia literatoram i uchenym, za 3-i god ego sushchestvovaniia po 2-e fevralia (SPB:1863); Ustav... (SPB:1859); and Yubileinyi sbornik Literaturnogo fonda, 1859-1909, edited by S. A. Vengerov (SPB:1909). Archival sources are indicated below.}_}

The purpose of Litfond was stated in its very title: to gather and disperse aid to needy writers and scholars, but many secretly hoped that it might become a professional sodality of literati and scholars, and more broadly the organized center of independent and enlightened opinion in the Empire. Funds were gathered in the form of dues and solicited at large. The Royal Family offered a giant pledge. Litfond sponsored public readings and dramatic presentations. In 1860 Aleksei Pisemskii, F. M. Dostoevskii, Apollon Maikov, Dmitrii Grigorovich, Kraevskii, Turgenev, and other Litfond stalwarts performed roles in a sensational public benefit performance of Gogol's "Inspector General." The Litfond treasury quickly exceeded 35,000 rubles, an enormous sum. The Empire had never seen anything like this.

Litfond expenditures took the form of once-only grants to temporarily distressed writers or scholars, as well as pensions to the permanently disabled or aged. A clear tendentiousness in allocation of benefits revealed itself in the first months. Litfond supported Decembrist conspirators returning from exile in Siberia, the families of revered figures in the history of social opposition (e.g., Aleksandr Radishchev's aging son and Vissarion Belinskii's destitute widow), and the more recent and still active members of the Petrashevtsy groups of 1848-1849. Litfond purchased freedom from serfdom for some members of the Ukrainian poet T. G. Shevchenko's family. Furthermore, its treasury was employed, as Lavrov expressed it, to support the "more healthy elements of society." Thus, Professor Platon Pavlov received the considerable sum of 500 rubles at the time he was setting up Sunday schools in Petersburg.

Literary evenings sponsored by Litfond unexpectedly proved to be more than fund-raisers. Everyone felt a great emotional energy which sprang not so much from the podium or out of the written words themselves as from the hearts of an actively listening public. Assembled citizens not only got the message, they gave it too. Audiences seized on words through which they could express a deeply felt if passive sedition, a sedition represented by their simple exercise of a new freedom of assembly and expression. The parti-colored crowd in uniforms of civilian and military service, in student garb, in formal attire, and in simple traditional national costume presented the real historical spectacle. These assemblies were fashioning a new force in Russia: a public. Aleksei Pleshcheev, an associate of the Petrashevskii debating societies and now Moscow commissioner for Litfond, emphasized how Litfond brought everyone together in a single enterprise, whatever their status, power or wealth. Membership represented a miniature version of the French Revolutionary idea of citoyen. Public assemblies were miniature exercises in liberté, égalité et fraternité.

{_{ See Pleshcheev's letters to the Governor of Saratov Province in N. K. Piksanov and O. V. Tsekhnovitser, eds., Shestidesiatie gody: Materialy po istorii literatury i obshchestvennomu dvizheniiu (MVA-LGR:1940):453-68. Also see his essay "Literaturnyi vecher (Rasskaz ne oblichitel'nyi)," Sovremennik, 8 (1861):215-258. On his later association with Land and Liberty, see Vosstanie 1863 goda: Materialy i dokumenty/Powstanie styczniowe: materiały i dokumenty, unnumbered series, Russko-pol'skie revoliutsionnye sviazi, 2 (MVA:1963):95, 132, & 133 [hereafter V63R].}_}


Public Education

The projects of Litfond and its affiliates helped define the network of shared interests among groups in the provinces and capital, and reinforced the bad impression that their mixed social composition made on the police. In August, 1860, a group of prominent Litfond founders and members vacationing on the Isle of Wight just off the English coast gathered to discuss creation of something like a popular auxiliary to Litfond, a "Society for the Promotion of Literacy and Primary Education." Ivan Turgenev led discussions. The young social activist and bureaucrat, Aleksandr Sleptsov, remembered most often solely for his role in the creation of Land and Liberty, participated as discussions continued on the Continent. Another associate of the Wight discussions, Annenkov, brought Sleptsov into Litfond that fall. The specific Wight project did not thrive, but similar organizations soon appeared throughout the Empire, staffed in large measure by Litfond activists.

In April 1861 the Free Economic Society brought unity to this enterprise when it formed its "Literacy Committee." The Committee set out to found technical and agricultural schools, publish text books and other reading materials for the narod, and to gather data on education throughout the Empire. Within weeks the Literacy Committee had 170 members in thirty provinces.

{_{ TsGIAL, f.92, op.3, no.1; K. I. Dikson and V. Ketrits, Sankt-Peterburgskii Komitet gramotnosti (SPB:1915); D. D. Protopopov, Istoriia Sankt-Peterburskogo Komiteta gramotnosti, sostoiavshogo pri Imperatorskom Vol'nom Ekonomicheskom obshchestve (1861-1895) (SPB:1898); Khodnev, Istoriia:357-60; and Trudy Vol'nogo ekonomicheskogo obshchestva:passim (1861-1862).}_}

Working closely with this network of organizations dedicated to establishing ties with the narod in the winter of 1862, Sleptsov first visited local kruzhoks along the Volga, in Yaraslavl, Nizhnyi-Novgorod and Saratov.}_} V. Kasatkin to E. Yakushkin, Literaturnoe nasledstvo, 41/42 (1941):39-50 [hereafter LiN].}_}

Sleptsov traveled as an agent of the Literacy Committee, but one who thought of that organization in the grandest historical sweep. He was present in Western Europe when the literacy project got underway and now liked to think of the Literacy Committee as a component of a grander concept, Land and Liberty, which had already been discussed among members of several of the organizations for which he worked. At this point, Land an Liberty was a narrowly whispered concept, Litfond and the literacy committees were a ramified reality. Their empire-wide contacts were significantly expanded as the Sunday school movement set down roots in hundreds of locations.

{_{ Reginald E. Zelnik, Labor and Society in Tsarist Russia: The Factory Workers of St. Petersburg, 1855-1870 (Stanford:1971); M. K. Lemke, Ocherki osvoboditel'nogo dvizheniia "shestidesiatykh godov" po neizdannym dokumentam s portretami (SPB:1908), pp. 399-438 [hereafter LOD]; G. I. Ionova, "Voskresnye shkoly v gody pervoi revoliutsionnoi situatsii (1859-1861)," Istoricheskie zapiski,57 (1956):177-209; R. A. Taubin, "Revoliutsionnaia propaganda v voskresnykh shkolakh Rossii v 1860-1862 godakh," Voprosy istorii,8 (1959); Ya. I. Linkov, "Voskresnye shkoly i russkoi revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie 1860-kh godov," Istoricheskii arkhiv,6 (1956):176-79; Raznochinno-demokraticheskoe dvizhenie v Povolzh'e i na Urale, vol. 1: "A. I. Gertsen, N. P. Ogarev i obshchestvennoe dvizhenie v Povolzh'e i na Urale" (KZN:1964).}_}

In February 1861 the Ministry of Education approved regular meetings of a national executive committee and representatives from regional Sunday schools, in order to "assure unity of activities." Annenkov, who had brought Sleptsov into Litfond, served as first chairman of the national literacy organization. Organizationally Sunday schools were associated with the various literacy committees and with the mission of national enlightenment which Litfond set for itself. A solid network of associations began to form over the Empire. By the summer of 1862 hundreds of Sunday schools met in nearly every region with official approval and with the goal of providing free primary education for the poor. The activities of the schools were to some degree coordinated and their social/political implications were reasonably clear to all, but they were not conspiratorial. They grew in the same natural way as the other enterprises we have seen, out of dispersed but very similar perceptions of a happy fit between the talents and interests of civil society and broader social needs. One can hardly imagine a more natural expression of intelligentsia activism than schools.

Founding schools and teaching in them were, as I have suggested, very natural "professional" interests of the budding intelligentsia, and so was the writing, publication, and distribution of articles, journals and books. Nowhere else do we see so clearly expressed the direct competition of interests in the struggle between state and society as in the conflicts over the licensing and regulation of the press. Censorship is not a moral issue, it is a very practical, professional issue. In connection with the literacy committees, a Society for the Publication of Inexpensive Books for the Nation was founded in Petersburg in March of 1862.

{_{ TsGAOR, f. 95, op. 1, ed. khr. 214, pp. 21-26 and 40-43.}_}

Several similar organizations sprang up over the empire. At the forefront we find leading Litfond activists:  Lavrov, Sleptsov, Aleksandr Engel'gardt, and A. F. Pogosskii, publisher and editor of the journal for the people, Narodnaia beseda, active member of pedagogical societies, and later associate of Land and Liberty.


The Book Trade

The brothers Serno-Solov'evich plunged into the book business. In close association with Chess Club projects and the movement to expand public literacy, Nikolai Serno-Solov'evich mortgaged the family home, borrowed twenty-five thousand rubles, and opened a bookstore and publishing house. They sought to fashion their bookstore into a center for progressive opinion, and also a clearing house for the expanding textbook market in connection with the newly opened Sunday schools. Schools as remote as Saratov placed sizable orders through the Serno bookstore. The great illiteracy of the Russian masses offered a natural opening for civil society. It could exercise its native talents in appropriate sectors of the book trade, from composition of text to distribution of printed works, and the whole complicated process in between. Thus it could organize itself in extensive and complex networks. And it could make organized contact with the whole nation.

{_{ I. E. Barenbaum, Shturmany griadushchei buri: N. A. Serno-Solov'evich, N. P. Ballin, A. A. Cherkesov (MVA:1987); G. A. Tishkin, "N. A. Serno-Solov'evich i studenty Peterburgskogo universiteta v 1861-1862 gg.," VLU, vypusk 1: "Istoriia, iazyk, literatura" (1969):169-174.}_}



The universities were the site of a remarkable quickening of social self-organization. A very important element of the larger story are the various university student organizations: hometown circles (zemliachestva made up of students from the same city, region, or national background), libraries, reading rooms, student courts, and student assemblies to take decisions on issues of importance to students. All imperial universities experienced a very dramatic growth in the number of students and the organizational life of the new students.

{_{ See, for example, T. G. Snytko, "Studencheskoe dvizhenie v russkikh universitetakh v nachale 60-kh godov i vosstanie 1863 g.," pp. 176-322 in Vosstanie 1863 g. i russko-pol'skie revoliutsionnye sviazi 60-kh godov:  sbornik statei i materialov, edited by V. D. Koroliuka and I. S. Miller (MVA:1960).}_}

Student organizations grew out of the same active sense of corporate interest that inspired the creation of the literacy committees and the Sunday schools. In fact, students were the most important source of trained teachers in the Sunday schools. In the major national universities, other organizational innovations met more specifically corporate needs: student assemblies, smoking rooms, courts of self regulation, treasuries and other institutional initiatives. These reflected the increasing complex needs of a growing body of very poor students who flooded into the liberalized universities in the aftermath of the Crimean War. The state opened the universities, particularly in Petersburg and Kazan, to these children of the meshchane and raznochintsy, the middling elements of society, and it pursued a policy of benign indifference to the many new student enterprises. Given the opportunity, students on all campuses hurried to take control over their own daily lives. Student politics are always closely associated with shenanigans and tomfoolery, but they also have a solid basis in self-interest.

{_{ See Alan Kimball, "Student Interests and Student Politics: Kazan University before the Crisis of 1862," Acta Slavica Iaponica,6 (1988):1-15.}_}

There is nothing new in the idea that student organizations contributed to the political turmoil of this era.

{_{ Daniel R. Brower, Training the Nihilists: Education and Radicalism in Tsarist Russia (Ithaca NY:1975); and Abbott Gleason, Young Russia: The Genesis of Russian Radicalism in the 1860s (NYC:1980).}_}

What needs to be added to this is that students acted in close association with, or parallel to, "adult" social organizations of the period. We cannot separate student politics from professor politics in this era, even if we can distinguish them from one another. In official eyes, the universities were branches of the service state. Professors and students were not thought properly to be a part of civil society; professors in the Table of Ranks were as military officers, students were as soldiers, or at least cadets in training for a civilian commission. Some of the most intense social disorder stemmed from the struggle to redefine the university, to remove the professors and students from the old state guardianship and relocate them in the heart of civil society. The struggle within the university therefore harmonized with the most characteristic traits of the broader public mobilization. When in early 1859 the university expanded the number of lectures it offered the public, the War Ministry publication Russkii invalid commented that "it would appear that no other of our universities is as close to obshchestvo as Saint Petersburg University."

{_{ A. Unskii, "Publichnye lektsii v S.-Peterburgskom universitete," 1859fe13:RIn#35:137.}_}

Student initiatives and interests coalesced with those of Litfond. Even before the university disturbances in the fall of 1861, students had turned to Litfond as a natural agency of appeal in cases of disputes within the walls of the university. Many leading figures in Litfond were the most highly esteemed and popular professors. A scandal in the misappropriation of student treasury funds was avoided in the early spring, 1861, when Litfond mediated. Litfond defended the liberalization of university life through its close contacts with the Education Ministry.

That summer, officials surprisingly moved to reverse the liberal policies and benign higher-educational practices of the previous five years. The state abolished scholarships, suppressed student organizations (courts, treasuries, assemblies, libraries, reading rooms, and the like), and severely restricted entry into the universities. For the students this meant the destruction of the career hopes of roughly half of all who were currently enrolled. It meant the destruction of the organizational life of those who managed to remain in the university.

Not only students, but also faculty were affected, since the reactionary measures were also aimed at the programs of those faculty members who had been moving toward greater independence of the university from the state. In the broadest terms, the reversal of university policy seemed a serious slap in the face of social and intellectual progress as perceived by some of the most important supporters of reform in society, among faculty, and among the students. The manner of deliberation in tsarist ministries and the timing of the announcement of the reversals were obvious affronts to civil society. The issues cut through all strata of civil society. Returning to campus in the fall, students for the first time learned of these changes. They protested en masse. The state responded harshly; it closed Saint Petersburg University and arrested hundreds of students there and in other university cities.

Society generally sympathized with the students. The Executive Committee of Litfond quickly set aside 500 rubles on 16 October and gave the committee of professors jurisdiction over its disbursement, instructing them to use the money to help poor students finish their degrees. In mid-December the Committee set aside an extra 1000 r. for the students and agreed to keep a list of those who received aid.

{_{ ORGPB, f. 438 (Litfond), ed. khr. 1, pp. 175-76, 182, and 186.}_}

Litfond accounts show that 1,150 rubles were given to fifty seven students in amounts ranging from five to sixty r. Kavelin, Lavrov, Chernyshevskii and the venerable diplomat, Egor Kovalevskii, among others, were active in the dispersal of funds. The Litfond report to Education Minister A. V. Golovnin considered all those who received aid in 1861 to be "a single juridical person."

{_{ XXV let:23.}_}

Thus Litfond avoided having to list actual recipients. Litfond's own, more detailed records reveal some good reasons why. Several recipients were leading participants in the rebellion.

{_{ ORGPB, f. 438, ed. khr. 1, pp. 14-17.}_}

Nikolai Utin and Longin Panteleev, future leaders in Land and Liberty, received Litfond money and became the most active members of the Litfond Student Section when it was created in the first months of 1862. The Student Section of Litfond began boldly to function without official approval. Its main project was the creation of a Free University to provide continuing higher education now that the state had suspended the official university in the capital.

{_{ Longin F. Panteleev, Vospominaniia (MVA:1958):259; T. S. Vol'fson, "'Vol'nyi universitet' 1862 g.," 1947:VLU#7:96-107.}_}

Indeed, many students and faculty began to dream of the possibility that their new Free University, fully under academic corporate control, might become a substitute for the official university. Modeled on the College of France, the Free University was simply a series of lectures by leading national scholars. We can distinguish between the spontaneous series of public lectures which were offered by local scholars, beginning in 1858, and the more clearly coordinated series of lectures which came to be known as the "Free University" or "Chtenie publichnykh lektsii." But these public presentations shared the notion that glasnost was important in the world of learning, as everywhere else, and ought to be open to the public. An excited public joined students and faculty in the lecture hall through the winter of 1862. It was in a sense a natural extension of the idea of the Sunday school. 


Chess Club

Feeding on its own success, Russian society had expanded and quickened its activities in the fall of 1861. A more politicized energy sought new institutional settings. In October, 1861, after hovering over several possibilities, the activist center of Litfond landed on the Chess Club (Obshchestvo Liubitelei Shakhmatnoi Igry, or Shakh-klub). Chess Club had existed for years; it was now transformed when over one hundred of the most civic minded political activists of the capital took it over. Initial discussions were held in the late summer, 1861, at Lavov's home on Furshtadt Street, where a list of prospective members was drawn up.

{_{ TsGVIA, f. 801, op. 74/15, ed. khr. 70, pp. 251-251 ob. Taubin's membership list is faulty; R. A. Taubin, "K voprosu o roli N. G. Chernyshevskogo v sozdanii 'revoliutsionnoi partii' v kontse 50-kh--nachale 60-kh godov XIX v.", 1952:IsZ#39:87. Also see Sasaki Teruhiro, "Roto bundan shogi kurabu ten-matsuki (1861-1862)," Journal of Saitama University, 18 (1984):69-80, esp. 75-76.}_}

Running up their flag on an existing society, the new membership sidestepped bureaucratic formalities. The state would never have approved the creation from whole cloth of the sort of freewheeling assembly these activists intended. Chess Club made it possible to extend the political implications of Litfond, Sunday schools and other social organizations. Members set topics for meetings with a striking new political boldness, far more generalized in vision than the previous associations: abolition of censorship, equalization of taxation, creation of a constitutional regime. These new "chessmen" appeared to be thinking of moves against the tsar rather than moves against the king.

{_{ IRLI, f. 548 (Zotov), op. 1, no. 432, "Obshchestvo liubitelei shakhmatnoi igry v S-peterburge." See also "Delo po otnoshenniiu Sankt-peterburgskogo Voennogo General-gubernatora po proektu pravil Ustava dlia sobraniia liubitelei shakhmatnyi klub v Sankt-peterburge," TsGIAL, f. 1286, op. 13, ed. khr. 459; and ORGPB, f. 568 (arkhiv Pekarskogo), no. 277.}_}

Everything was according to strictest legal and administrative regulations, but clearly the activist "left wing" of Litfond became leading figures in Chess Club: Lavrov (elected one of three Elders), Chernyshevskii, and Blagosvetlov, and well as the brothers Serno-Solov'evich and Kurochkin. Also Grigorii Eliseev (ex-professor at the Kazan Theological Academy, now on the editorial board of Sovremennik), Nikolai Kostomarov (who came to maturity as historian and theorist of Russian federalism while sitting ten years in Saratov exile, 1848-1858), and Pavlov (a founder of the Sunday school movement). Leading figures in student disorders at Saint-Petersburg University at that time also participated: here we find the most active students in the Litfond Student Section, including Utin and Panteleev.


Crisis in the Spring of 1862

A public lecture by Professor Pavlov, in the series sponsored by the Free University, crystallized the situation. His topic was the one-thousandth anniversary of Russia. As was customary, the censor approved the text but could not have meant to approve the manner in which Pavlov delivered it. Certainly he could not have predicted its tumultuous effect. If sedition was expressed that night, the assembly was as guilty as Pavlov. Pavlov celebrated the nation's birthday by drawing attention to "a millennium of slave rule" throughout which the powerful centralized state repeatedly crushed every vestige of social independence.

{_{ LOD:7-13.}_}

The public encouraged the speaker with enthusiastic applause; cheers rocked city hall. Police quickly corrected the failure of the censor. Pavlov was arrested next day and was on his way to Vetluga exile within three. The audience, his accomplice, made up of Litfond, Sunday-school, Literacy-committee, and Chess-club associates, was left alone to ponder its next move.

Earlier, Litfond and Chess Club activists twice protested the arrest--made without proper legal formalities--of Mikhail Mikhailov, popular poet, Litfond founder, Chess Club member, and editor of the massive Entsiklopedicheskii slovar' (Encyclopedic dictionary, a Litfond project modeled on Diderot's Encyclopedia). They now protested again when Professor Pavlov was arbitrarily arrested and exiled. They framed these protests, acting formally -- or more precisely pretending to act formally -- as corporate representative of "society." Mikhailov expressed personal views in his famous pamphlet, "To the Young Generation," and Pavlov his in his tumultuous lecture. These views were shared in various ways throughout civil society, but agreement or disagreement with the text of the proclamation or the lecture was not the heart of the matter. The Mikhailov protests were carefully worded, collective complaints about arbitrary state action against a fellow intelligent. Similarly, the Pavlov protest was a corporate complaint in defense of corporate interests of civil society, what would be called civil rights (or more loosely, human rights) in our time.  In fact, the text of the collective protests tell us as much, or more, about what people were thinking in this era as do the proclamation or lecture.

{_{ M. K. Lemke, ed., A. I. Herzen [Gertsen], Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem,11:263-64; "Professor Pavlov soslan...," LOD:13. Lavrov's petition on behalf of Pavlov is found in TsGVIA, f. 801, op. 74/15, ed. khr. 70, pp. 211-212.}_}

Six critical weeks followed. At this time the boldest figures began to steer Chess Club resolutely in the direction of open political confrontation with the state, while simultaneously supporting a variety of clandestine endeavors like the proclamation "Zemskaia duma" and the earliest discussions of something like the future Land and Liberty.

"Zemskaia duma" shows the influence of the obstreperous gentry assemblies and other political proclamations of the day. The larger pattern of political demand that emerged from the eighty or so proclamations composed and circulated in these months can be summarized in the following fashion. First, emancipation is a fraud and failure. Second, only the whole people (representing all sosloviia) can achieve authentic freedom, guided by a progressive leadership and working against the tsarist state. Third, the nature of authentic freedom is a much expanded popular assembly, building on such native traditions as the mirskoi skhod. Fourth, disorganized mutiny is not the way to this end, but patient planning and careful organization are, followed by decisive political action which might include armed uprising. In these proclamations, civil society and parliamentary democracy is more nearly idealized than is the peasant commune. "Zemskaia duma" was a distillation of the political message of the proclamations of the era, just as Chess Club was a distillation of organized public initiatives.

{_{ These brief general remarks on the leading proclamations are based on a textual analysis of over 80 major political proclamations of the era. These proclamations have never been gathered together in a scholarly edition. One of the best concentrations is V63R, vv. 1 & 2.}_}

The origin and style of most public initiatives had been so far according to the letter of the law. But their full dimension and broad implication exceeded everyone's expectation. Neither those who gave razreshenie [official permission; license] nor those who sought it fully anticipated the consequences. Legal in and of themselves, in practice the actions of society instinctively seemed a threat to the state. The Police were not alone in this instinct. At first captured by an inexperienced enthusiasm for public initiatives, many began to withdraw as they came to realize fully what was happening, as they caught first glimmer of emerging peril. Some however flourished in the heat of growing crisis and welcomed confrontation with the state. Finally some were caught up in a flood of circumstances; their own choices very little altered the direction or velocity of events.

The imperial Russian police urged the state to end all paternal indulgence of social freedom in these sensitive areas. Increasingly the police explained social vitality in terms of malignancy and alien infection. In a moment of greater honesty, the Chief of Gendarmes Vasilii Dolgorukov predicted that political disorder would follow soon when over one half of the population owed its education to schools independent of the state. And Interior Minister Petr Valuev was beginning to see things much as did the police. Valuev's long report on the Sunday School movement is a fascinating document in this regard. Carefully read, it speaks eloquently of Valuev's need to find vast criminal conspiracy in the schools because he feared that the schools were forging effective and independent ties between society and the illiterate narod. Such schools were needed, and they obviously worked, but Valuev felt that they should be under the close control of the central state, not in the hands of independent social organizations.

{_{ Petr Valuev, "O voskresnykh shkolakh i o deistviiakh Sledstvennoi kommisii Vysochaishe uchrezhdenoi dlia izsled. deistvii lits zavedyvavshikh nekotorymi shkolami v SPb-e," TsGIAL, f. 1275, op. 1, ed. khr. 41, pp. 49-78 ob.}_}

Minister of War Dmitrii Miliutin distrusted obshchestvo and felt that only the state could be progressive. He was bothered that the Student Section performed functions not specifically enumerated when the state approved Litfond, and that it interfered with the duly appointed public bodies whose business it was to perform these functions.

}_} ROGBL, f. 169 (Miliutin), carton 14.2, pp. 53-54.}_}

The larger and more active organizations of the epoch -- Litfond, Chess Club, the Literacy Committee of the Free Economic Society, Sunday schools, public libraries, and bookstores, for example -- were officially approved and perfectly legal. Yet these vigorous enterprises by their very existence threatened the state's sense of rate, extent and magnitude of reform, and their membership bristled with names of individuals who believed or were beginning to believe that the imperial state was the main obstacle to progress in their land. Frustration among activists and among police hurried the process of radicalization. The state had to "criminalize" the most threatening enterprises in order to crush or emasculate them; the more resolute social activists had to go underground to continue their pursuit of satisfactory political change. From 30 May to 10 June 1862, the Council of Ministers held meetings where they planned the great attack on public initiative.

{_{ TsGIAL, f. 1275, op. (93) 1, ed. khr. 38, pp. 33-33 ob.}_}


Authorities Launch Second Round of Attack on the Public

On 31 May 1862, when the embers of a great fire that threatened to destroy the center of the capital had not yet cooled and when the reading public had not yet ceased to shake with rage in response to Zaichnevskii's pamphlet "Young Russia," the national police chief, General Potapov, reported that open war against government had broken out, provoked by "demagogues and socialists" as well as by liberals, even by civilian and military servitors. Circumstances called for measures that were "lamentably" repressive. He recommended the suppression of the Sunday schools, the Free University, the popular libraries, the Chess Club, and the Student Section of Litfond. "In harmony with this, do not allow any new societies or enterprises under any name, except commercial and industrial enterprises."}_} 1862je08:RIn#126.}_}

The state acted on all of the General's recommendations. By mid June these organizations had been suppressed throughout the Empire.

Several individuals most active in the Sunday schools were arrested. Sovremennik and other journals were suspended. In July Dmitrii Pisarev, Chernyshevskii, and Nikolai Serno-Solov'evich were arrested. His brother Aleksandr fled abroad. By September over one hundred writers, scholars, free-lance intellectuals, students, officers and others were in prison, under arrest or warranted for arrest. Over the next few months hundreds of social activists had been arrested, scores of these put on trial, dozens were convicted and sentenced, while still more were just administratively exiled or otherwise punished, sometimes with extreme severity, for the most moderate of independent or oppositional acts. The state harassed the active societies which it felt no need to close, like the committees for the promotion of literacy, the Political-Economic committees of the Russian Geographic Society and Free Economic Society. On 21 December 1862, Alexander II expressed to the Council of Ministers his desire to place restraints on the burgeoning of committees and commissions in social organizations. Specifically he had in mind the Political-Economic committees and the Literacy Committee of VEO.

{_{ Valuev memo, TsGIAL, f. 1284, op. 66, ed. khr. 37, p. 52. Eventually the state forced RGO to close its Political-Economic Committee; TsGIAL, f. 1284, op. 66, ed. khr. 37, pp. 111-114 ob.}_}

Zaichnevskii's pamphlet and the great fires in the city provided the perfect smoke screen and emotional atmosphere in which the state could make its move against society.


"Land and Liberty": The Public Goes Underground

The first Land and Liberty grew out of this process. Land and Liberty, often described simply as a group of student radicals, actually developed in close association with the fate of Litfond and Chess Club, the Sunday schools and literacy committees. By the summer, 1862, the political situation had so deteriorated that the only possible substantial efforts were in the radical underground. The famous meeting in Kazan which created Land and Liberty took place at the time of the first arrests in July. "Underground" and "secret" contradict "publika" and "glasnost'," concepts so dear to social activists up to this point, but the state had now cleared the horizon of significant legal organizations and opportunities.

In the fall of 1862 Utin engaged Panteleev in political conversations and tried to convince him to continue to help form the conspiratorial political organization they had been talking about since the spring.

{_{ This remarkable information on the origins of Land and Liberty is from the interrogation of Panteleev after his arrest in 1863, ORGPB, f. 629, ed. khr. 287.}_}

Dispirited by recent events, Panteleev refused at first, saying that the time was not ripe and there were none capable of sustaining a significant political movement. Panteleev shared the opinion of most contemporaries that "Young Russia" had discredited the oppositional movement. He asked sarcastically if Utin were counting on that "bunch of maniacs" who wrote "Young Russia."

Utin replied that there were many willing to work for their nation. It was possible to create an organization that "would offer Russian society a sound program designed to achieve goals recognized by all."

{_{ ORGPB, f. 629, ed. khr. 287, pp. 1-2 ob.}_}

Utin continued, "I can tell you that there are not only activists but there is also an organization. Its goal is the most esteemed: the convocation of a National Assembly [Zemskoe sobranie]." The Assembly would be empowered to deal with the pressing social-political problems of Russia and decide them through the efforts of "representatives freely elected by the people." This, Utin insisted, was the most popular political idea in Russia, recognized "in all circles" as the only way out of current difficulties. Even the state is no stranger to this idea.

When Panteleev asked what the organization planned to do, Utin replied, "It will spread the idea of the National Assembly through the press and by word of mouth in order to unite all adherents to this idea. Finally it will present its goals [stremleniia] to the government which will recognize in them the voice of Russian society and will be forced to call a National Assembly. Then the organization will bring and end to its existence, having achieved its purpose."

{_{ ORGPB, f. 629, ed. khr. 287, pp. 4-4 ob.}_}

This was all very familiar to anyone who, like both Utin and Panteleev, had participated in the sessions of the Chess Club the previous spring. Utin hoped to take up the good cause where they had been forced by the state to break off efforts. His program bears a strong resemblance to the political ideas put forward in the pamphlet Zemskaia duma which was the basis of much discussion in Chess Club and with which Utin had earlier been so closely associated.

Thinking of Panteleev's objection to "Young Russia," Utin continued: "Furthermore the organization is composed of experienced people [liudei del'nykh] who will not compromise the cause through some sort of clumsy action. There are not many of them now but the organization grows with every day." Utin was referring to figures from the Litfond and Chess Club who had been close to the students through the previous winter.

{_{ ORGPB, f. 629, ed. khr. 287, pp. 3 ob.-4.}_}

Lavrov and fellow Litfond/Chess Club activist, Eliseev, became advisory members of Land and Liberty at this time.

{_{ A. A. Sleptsov, "Vospominaniia," N. G. Chernyshevskii: stat'i, issledovaniia i materialy,3 (1962):269.}_}

Of more tangible significance, Lavrov engineered the transfer of significant funds, earlier earmarked for student support in the Litfond treasury, to Panteleev, Utin and other central figures in the emerging organization. Lavrov, E. Kovalevskii and other Litfond Executive Committee members (Galakhov and Dudyshkin) spent the whole summer in Petersburg and met every Tuesday over Litfond business.

{_{ 1863:Svd#50.}_}

After the closure of the Student Section Kovalevskii assumed control of its aid program, receiving and disbursing hundreds of rubles to students.

{_{ ORGPB, f. 438, ed. khr. 1, p. 217.}_}

Between 23 April and closure on 10 June, seven official weeks of existence, the Student Section had collected 1,522 r. Add 709 r. carried over from the allocations and collections prior to formal existence and add the 1000 r. from Golovnin and you get a total of 3,231 r. gathered to aid students and formally accounted in Litfond records. Of that total 2,829 r. were disbursed before the state closed the Section. Additional funds were collected and disbursed to students relatively independently of normal Litfond accounting. In March, N. Tiblin and Aleksandr Serno-Solov'evich reported 2,206 r. earned at concerts and readings. One thousand of this was given over directly to students to be disbursed "under their supervision."

{_{ ORGPB, f. 438, ed. khr. 1, p. 201.}_}

No other record exists. The money that remained after closure, 402 r., went back to the main coffers of Litfond.

That summer, Kovalevskii distributed the 402 r. to radical activists Izdebskii, Makarov, Stepanov, and F. Sudakevich. Apparently no account was kept of the disposition of 330 r. which a teacher in a suppressed Sunday School sent to Litfond and earmarked for distribution to "poor students." At the 1 October meeting of the Executive Committee Kovalevskii recommended help for Khudiakov, as a result of which he received 50 r.

{_{ ORGPB, f. 438, ed. khr. 1, pp. 221 ob. and 223.}_}

Lavrov made a successful appeal for more aid to students. A series of receipts show that he distributed 50 r. to M. Ostrovskii, 50 r. to Moravskii, 100 r. to Izdebskii, 50 r. then another 43 r. to Panteleev, and finally 50 r. to Utin. The receipts total 343 r. and are dated from 7 September to 6 December 1862.

{_{ ORGPB, f. 438, no. 11, pp. 414-422.}_}

One receipt detailed disbursements to Panteleev and Utin over a nearly two month period:

11 October [1862] I received from Petr Lavrovich fifty (50) silver rubles.
  [signed:] L. Panteleev

I received fifty silver rubles (50) from P. L. Lavrov
  [signed:] Nik. Utin.

6 December [1862] I received from Petr Lavrovich forty-three (43) rubles.
  [signed:] L. Panteleev

{_{ ORGPB, f. 438, no. 11, p. 422 ob. Surprisingly, Opisanie arkhiva Literaturnogo fonda; Annotirovannyi katalog, R. B. Zaborova and V. N. Sazhin, eds. (Leningrad:1978), missed this gem.}_}

Other amounts of Litfond aid cannot be accounted this precisely, but there are indications that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Land and Liberty emerged from the Litfond/Chess Club matrix, out of the ruins of the more decisive political dreams which the earlier organizations had expressed and fostered. Litfond "aid to needy students" appears to have been the major financial backing of Land and Liberty, just as they were getting down to the serious organizational business of renting a conspiratorial apartment and securing a printing press. The significant monetary support of Land and Liberty was only partially reported to the full membership of Litfond. Litfond activism had become covert because there was now nearly nothing that could be done publicly. In the dying moments of Litfond's politically active phase, it launched Land and Liberty, widely hailed as Russia's first modern revolutionary organization.

Land and Liberty was not the creature of an aggressive, coherent and centralized revolutionary movement. Instead, it was shaped under the heavy press of events. It came into its own toward the end of 1862, the small, stamped remains of a much larger and spontaneous epoch of social activism. By then it was too late to connect with popular discontent except in the Polish and Belorussian regions of the Empire.


Polish Rebellion

A far from glorious final episode in the brief history of Land and Liberty unraveled in 1863. The Kazan Conspiracy consisted of false manifestoes and other rebellious initiatives, directed less at meeting the economic and political needs of the Russian people than at meeting the military needs of the besieged Polish uprising. The Kazan Conspiracy was a backdoor attack designed to divert Russian troops from Polish independence fighters. The state swiftly and decisively crushed it.

{_{ V. R. Leikina-Svirskaia, "'Kazanskii zagovor' 1863 g.", RSR,[1]:423-449.}_}

Panteleev was arrested, Utin fled abroad, and Sleptsov was rescued by high-placed supporters, who sent him on assignment abroad. Land and Liberty, the concept, was incarnated as Land and Liberty, the organization, only to be caught in the machinery of the Polish Rebellion and destroyed.


Temporary Defeat of Fledgling Civil Society

The revolutionary situation had passed; civil society was forced to take up business as usual. The Geographic Society and the Free Economic Society shrugged its collective shoulders and backed away from confrontational issues. The Literacy Committee immediately assumed a more modest role in the promotion of learning among the folk. It was absorbed into the state three decades later, and 600 members resigned in protest. Litfond survived, but with substantial loss of membership and deprived of its student section.

{_{ For a summary of the post-reform fate of the Litfond, see Alan Kimball, "Literary Fund: from 1859 to the Present Day," MERSH,49:236-9. On Litfond in the era of reforms, see V. N. Sazhin, "Literaturnyi fond v gody revoliutsionnoi situatsii," RSR,7 (1978):138-157.}_}

Most of those politically active in the 1860s quit, or were forced into inactivity. With time many found compromised satisfaction in roles carefully defined by the state, in zemstvos, the new court system, and other professional endeavors. The hundreds who were sent into exile drifted into provincial administrative posts when, with time, restrictions on their lives were lifted. The political exile community contributed significantly to the development of northeastern and Siberian administration, and to the development of frontier civil society. A remarkable number of them took positions in the emerging provincial legal system.

Sleptsov and Nikolai Obruchev went on to brilliant careers in the civilian and military ranks. Aleksandr Serno-Solov'evich died soon in exile, Chernyshevskii much later. Panteleev paid his debt to society and later became an important figure in the cultural and political life of the late Empire. A very small, but eventually very influential, handful gravitated into revolutionary opposition. In close collaboration with Karl Marx, Utin founded the Russian Section of the First International and struggled against the influence of Mikhail Bakunin in the international workingmen's association. He subsequently sought and received a pardon from the Russian state, returned to Russia, and managed a large productive enterprise in the Ural Mountains. Petr Lavrov, spared from arrest in 1862, was imprisoned, tried, and exiled to Vologda in 1866-1870. He fled to Western Europe where, against all the odds, he became a leading theoretician of Russian revolutionary socialism. His name adorns the obelisk of revolutionaries next to the Kremlin wall, along with Gerrard Winstanley, Georgii Plekhanov, and other famous rebels against the world as given.

In the crisis that had produced these results, the state, the peasants, the gentry, the national minorities, and civil society had acted for self promotion, or out of self defense. Conflict arose in areas of overlapping or competing interests. When groups formed, at first they concentrated on shared interests of their members. They sought to promote or defend "a better life" for members. But as time went by many came to see the irreconcilability of state and social interests. These groups came consciously to challenge the state's traditional monopoly of control over the course of events.

Political opposition in these years was not "unattached" from the real interests of society. Political opposition was not simply the fling of a radical, youthful, idealistic, altruistic, or psychotic intelligentsia. Public activism was dramatic, but it was neither ephemeral nor peripheral to the broad and central interests of an emerging civil society. The young and the old, the rich and the poor, the titled and the common, men and women -- political opposition in obshchestvo was concentrated in specific associations and recruited from a remarkably full spectrum of the urban population motivated by both very real and clearly perceived interests.

The contest between state and society welled up out of conflicts of interest every bit as deep as those between peasant and landlord. In fact, the conflict between state and society eclipsed the social conflicts that are so often assumed to be at the base of pre-revolutionary Russian political history. The political struggle had a bright and positive side: social freedom, independence, self-reliance, local initiative. And it had a dark and negative side: reduction or abolition of the centralized, autocratic tsarist imperial authority. The first was captured in the expressions used in those years, glasnost’ and pereustroistvo. The second was captured in the expressions "secret," "conspiratorial," and "revolutionary." The interests of imperial insiders, the sanovniki or notables of the realm, militated against civic reform -- pereustroistvo -- and thus called revolutionary movements -- conspiracy -- into existence. Perhaps therefore it could not have turned out any other way. But how different it might have been if a more satisfactory accommodation between state and civil society had been possible. The gaping empty space toward which the phrase "civic reform" points is one of the great structural weaknesses of the old regime in its last half century.

Because there was no civic reform, the story of the origins of civil society and the story of the origins of political opposition are inseparably twined in Russia. Both stories describe political conflict between, on the one hand, specific groups and individuals with discernible interests and, on the other, the vast autocratic state with its own interests. For the time being, the state was the dominant protagonist. It won, and the four other protagonists lost. Over the next half century a sixth choir made up of factory workers formed in the process of industrialization. A hardened revolutionary intelligentsia thrived. Civil society -- the engine of European modernization -- languished, but the main themes of the political drama remained largely unaltered, even in the years after 1917. The 1860s were a beginning. It was the first modern revolutionary situation in Russia. It was not the last.



The following main conclusions recommend themselves to us: