LAND AND LIBERTY
N EITHER the Lavrovists nor the buntars had anything to show for their pains. As the year 1876 wore on, the mood of disillusionment and discontent deepened. When autumn came, the activists still at liberty gathered in the capital and other centres as if by prearrangement. People who had been in various sections of the country had an opportunity to mingle and compare notes. It was plain that, as Kravchinsky put it, socialist propaganda was making no more impression on the masses than a beanshooter would on a stone wall. Why had they failed to win the ear of the peasant? Had their message been too remote for his needs? Was there something basically wrong with their whole outlook? Both factions, as well as Tkachev's followers, agreed that the lack of co-ordination and centralization was a source of great weakness. What could be achieved, it was asked, by scattered handfuls of people, without a general staff, without a plan of concerted action? Each group, indeed, each individual had carried on independently, but was so linked with others that the mistakes of one endangered many. The slogan of the moment became: 'Let us organize!'
Out of this searching of souls came a revision of the programme and tactics of the movement. Out of it came also an attempt to bring the dispersed forces together in a secret society conceived on a national scale. For some time Mark Natanson, founder of the Chaikovsky Circle, had been applying his uncommon organizing abilities to that end. Having served his term of forced residence in a provincial town, he came back to the capital late in 1875 and immediately set to work. To establish connexions and gain recruits he visited the radical centres at home and travelled abroad, conferring with Lavrov in London and persuading several expatriates to return to Russia. His efforts led to the formation, in 1876, of the first fairly substantial revolutionary organization on Russian soil: the Society of Land and Liberty. Sometimes this league and those that succeeded it were spoken of as the Social-Revolutionary Party. In careful usage,