'MEN OF THE FUTURE'
S ECURE from the revolutionary menace, the Government might now have let well enough alone. But Alexander went on enacting reforms. These included the abolition of corporal punishment that Herzen had urged, and a year later, in 1864, the introduction of self-government for rural districts in the form of so-called zemstvo boards. These measures were effected in an atmosphere of reaction which made it easy for the administration to emasculate them.
Early in 1865 the nobles of the Moscow province presented an address to the Czar in which they voiced their satisfaction with the newly created zemstvos and also urged him to convoke a National Assembly 'for the discussion of the needs of the entire state'. Alexander's reply was that the right to initiate reforms was part of his God-given autocratic power, and that no one was privileged to intercede before him for the whole nation. This was the last stirring of the constitutionalism of the 'sixties.
The revolutionary movement appeared to have been stillborn. Clandestine printing ceased. Sovremennik gave much space to labour and Socialism in Western Europe, but was timid in dealing with matters nearer home and spent much energy in polemics against Russkoe Slovo. It lacked the enthusiastic following it had had in Chernyshevsky's day.
After the failure of the Polish rebellion Bakunin settled in Italy and kept aloof from Russian affairs. As for Herzen, in the columns of The Bell he continued to berate the administration and to hold up to scorn the chauvinism, 'half rapacious, half rhetorical', that prevailed at home. 'The public is worse than the Government,' he wrote to his daughter, 'and the journalists are worse than the public.' And he urged the convocation of a Zemsky Sobor. In and out of his review he also continued to preach what he called 'Russian Socialism', stemming from the muzhik's way of life and reaching out for that 'economic justice' which is a universal goal sanctioned by science. And he harped
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Publication information: Book title: Road to Revolution:A Century of Russian Radicalism. Contributors: Avrahm Yarmolinsky - Author. Publisher: Cassell. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1957. Page number: 131.
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