Land and Freedom: The Origins of Russian Terrorism, 1876-1879

Land and Freedom: The Origins of Russian Terrorism, 1876-1879

Land and Freedom: The Origins of Russian Terrorism, 1876-1879

Land and Freedom: The Origins of Russian Terrorism, 1876-1879

Synopsis

Introduction The New Populist Program The Villagers at Work The Origins of Violence The Terrorist Conspiracy The Schism The Mystique of Terrorism Retrospective Footnotes Bibliography Index

Excerpt

This manuscript grew out of my fascination with puzzles and contradictions. In connection with some other research, I found it necessary to go through some early twentieth-century Russian radical journals almost page by page. In spite of myself, I was soon absorbed in the many romantic and ingenuous reminiscences published there by Russian revolutionaries of earlier decades.

One is struck at once by the strangest dichotomies. Women who told of teaching peasant children turned instead to the dynamiting of trains. Men who sought social utopias of wealth and honey stabbed other human beings until their hands as well as their daggers were red with blood. Young people whose original dreams had been to cure the ailing poor traveled in disguise from city to city distributing bombs that they carried in suitcases and paper bags. And fifty years later, they published tales of their heroism and martyrdom as if their methods had been vindicated, although actually the tsar's assassination had only resulted in the destruction of their comrades and their cause.

Who were these people? What did they seek, and why? Above all, why did they decide on violence, and what did they think to achieve by it? I had read much about them, but it seemed to me that the richness of the sources as measures of character, personality, and intent had not been thoroughly exploited. These puzzles and questions led me to write this manuscript. Whether they are really answered herein is something else altogether.

The research that led to this manuscript is so entangled with other projects and dates so far back in time that it is difficult accurately to acknowledge kindnesses and assistance. I am grateful to the American Council of Learned Societies . . .

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