Road to Revolution: A Century of Russian Radicalism

By Avrahm Yarmolinsky | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

T HIS book, intended for the common reader as well as for the student, chronicles the Russian revolutionary tradition. The account covers a little more than a hundred years, from the first serious questionings of the established order to the emergence, toward the close of the past century, of two major rival parties committed to a violent break with the past. It was first in the eighteen-thirties that a few Russian heads were turned by socialist theory, and the present work naturally records its fortunes under three czars. The development of Populism, the native variety of Socialism, is a dominant theme. The mutinies and popular rebellions of earlier times, among them the jacqueries headed by the Cossack firebrands, Stepan Razin and Yemelyan Pugachev, in the reigns of Czar Alexis and Catherine the Great respectively, do not belong to the story.

Of necessity the socio-political setting, changing with the passage of time, has been sketched in. Only thus could the sequence of events, including those of the intellectual order, be intelligible. Cut off by the autocracy from political experience, with no opportunity to subject theory to the harsh test of practice, the radical movement was to a large extent a matter of doctrine and dogma, the product of minds given to pursuing ideas à outrance. Hence the close attention to ideological trends and to the men who were responsible for them or gave them currency. Throughout emphasis falls, however, on clandestine activities, whether executed or merely planned, whether they took the form of peaceful propaganda or political assassination.

The men and, from the sixties on, the women, behind these efforts and exploits include a variety of human types. They illustrate what Pascal called 'the glory and the baseness in man,' and, of course, a mixture of the two, as also of insight and dunderheadedness. Along with zealots and triflers, there are a few crackpots and many innocents. And there is the sinister premonitory shadow of a being less than human that lies across these pages. In

-xi-

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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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