Road to Revolution: A Century of Russian Radicalism

By Avrahm Yarmolinsky | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
THE PEOPLE'S WILL

A SEPARATE existence was now assumed by what had been the two factions of Land and Liberty. It had been agreed that neither should use that name. Accordingly, the group of orthodox populists called itself Narodnaya Partiya (Popular or People's Party), but was better known as Chornyi Peredel (Black Repartition), a phrase describing the periodic redistribution of land and taxes by the mir. It was also the title of the organization's journal which bore the motto, 'Land and Liberty!' on its masthead.

When it was formed, in the autumn of 1879, Black Repartition consisted of a score of men and women. Of organizing talent there was little, except for Pavel Axelrod, a former member of the Chaikovsky Circle, later a buntar, successful in propagandizing factory hands. Plekhanov, a born idéologue, was the brains of the group. It also included Yakov Stefanovich and Lev Deutsch, 'the Orestes and Pylades of the revolution'. The fact that Vera Zasulich, who had returned from abroad in 1879, was a member of the group did most to raise its prestige. In the division of the assets of Land and Liberty it had come off rather badly. The other faction got 'the Foreign Office' in the person of Zundelevich, as well as the Heavenly Chancery and the printing press. The loss of this last was particularly serious. After some weeks another press was obtained. The business of setting it up, preparing the text of the opening number of the new journal and collecting the funds necessary to cover the cost of the issue absorbed most of the group's energies during the first months of its existence.

The new year brought disaster. Plekhanov, as well as Stefanovich, Deutsch and Vera Zasulich fled to Switzerland, and this they did not merely to escape arrest. They withdrew from the battlefield in a mood of discouragement and apathy. Chornyi Peredel was left practically leaderless. And then, a typesetter on the secret press having turned informer, the police seized it, together with all the copies of the first issue of the journal, and

-230-

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Road to Revolution: A Century of Russian Radicalism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Chapter I - The Ancestor: Radishchev 1
  • Chapter II - The Decembrists: The Secret Societies 15
  • Chapter III - The Decembrists: Insurrection 36
  • Chapter IV - The Coasts of Utopia 57
  • Chapter V - Freedom? 86
  • Chapter VI - 'Get Your Axes!' 111
  • Chapter VII - 'Men of the Future' 131
  • Chapter VIII - Force and Fraud 149
  • Chapter IX - Populism 170
  • Chapter X - The Children's Crusade 189
  • Chapter XI - Land and Liberty 210
  • Chapter XII - The People's Will 230
  • Chapter XIII - Man Hunt 250
  • Chapter XIV - Sic Semper Tyrannis 269
  • Chapter XV - A Pyrrhic Victory 290
  • Chapter XVI - The Agony Of The People's Will 311
  • Epilogue 334
  • Select Bibliography 343
  • Index 355
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