To save this undefined to your undefined account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your undefined account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
On the afternoon of August 14, 1872, Sergei Nechaev, for nearly three years the object of an intensive police search in several countries, went to a café on the outskirts of Zurich. The author of the famous “Catechism of a Revolutionary” had already broken one of his personal rules by spending several consecutive nights under the same roof; in showing himself in public during daylight hours he violated another.
We have often been scornful of the layman’s ignorance and misunderstanding of Soviet affairs—and not without reason. The resting place of American views of Russia and communism is littered with the carcasses of incomprehension and misperception which, were they not so sad, would be funny. It has been a pathetic and perdurable obsession, ever since the dispatch in November 1917 that Lenin had died in Switzerland two years earlier and that the impostor who was taking over Petrograd was some unknown named Zederblum and the rhapsodic exclamations of those who “had seen the future” in Lenin’s Russia and found that “it works.”
For almost forty years the private library of Nikolai Aleksandrovich Rubakin, located first in Baugy-sur-Clarens and subsequently in Lausanne, Switzerland, served as a major fund of Russian books in Western Europe, and it attracted many of the great figures of the Russian Revolution. Rubakin in turn welcomed every new reader; his motto, imprinted on his bookplates, declared: “Long live the book, a powerful weapon in the struggle for truth and justice.” Upon his death in 1946 the Soviet Union inherited the collection, variously estimated at 80,000 to 100,000 volumes, and its departure represented a great blow to East European studies in the West.
Constitutions in almost all states have been introduced at various times, in bits and pieces and for the most part amidst violent political upheavals. The Russian Constitution will owe its inception not to the inflaming of passions and extremity of circumstance, but to the virtuous inspiration of the Supreme Authority, which, in ordering the political life of its people, is fully capable of endowing it with proper forms.
Every attempt to introduce West European parliamentary forms of government into Russia is doomed to failure. If the tsarist regime is overthrown, its place will be taken by pure undisguised communism, the communism of Mr. Karl Marx who has just died in London and whose theories I have studied with attention and interest.
The constitutional-reform movement in Russia passed through three stages of institutional development before its ultimate demise in revolution and civil war. In the first, occupying about a decade between the mid-1850s and the mid-1860s, the reform movement was concentrated in the corporate institutions of the landed gentry.
Russian revolutionists in the 1870s had a long history of opposition to build on—from the massive Pugachev peasant rebellion during the reign of Catherine the Great to an aristocratic conspiracy (Decembrist Revolt) at the end of the reign of Alexander II. They also drew on a rich indigenous fund of social criticism and programs, the latest and most important of which were the writings of Alexander Herzen and Nikolai Ogarev, the proclamations of the Land and Liberty group, and the radical economic articles of Chernyshevsky.
In his article on Western studies of Soviet power, purpose, and policy—which I shall call Sovietology—Alexander Dallin has brought us to a timely reconsideration of the needs and prospects of our area field. Part of the problem is whether the “remarkable catalogue of hypotheses later abandoned or disproved” really indicates that specialists in Sovietology have been relatively ineffective. Still more important are the real reasons for our failures—and surely they are numerous.
Students of the Soviet political system have frequently noted the high turnover rates and the short terms of office of middle and lower ranking Soviet party and governmental officials. Soviet leaders have striven to combat the formation of informal structures within the party and governmental bureaucracies which, if allowed to go unchecked, could erode the control of the central political leadership.
Less than a year before his recent death, the distinguished émigré poet-critic Georgii Adamovich published one of his last essays in the New York Novyi Zhurnal. One section of it was particularly striking. Here was the “dean” of Russian émigré criticism and the author of hundreds of critiques and articles over the past fifty years questioning the purpose of literary criticism and whether there was a need for it at all: “In criticism … what is amazing is that behind all the innumerable articles and pieces of research, even the most penetrating of them, one never discerns the least perplexity about why, in fact, the article was written… Do Tolstoy, Dickens, and the others really require
explanation and commentary ? Wasn’t Tolstoy right …that ‘criticism is when
the foolish write about the wise’ ?”
In scholarly publications we transliterate Russian names with consistency: linguists use the “international system” (with j, š, etc.), social scientists the “modified Library of Congress system.” But whenever any of us needs to communicate with a broad public of nonspecialists, such as the readers of a weekly news magazine or those who consult our own college catalogues, he finds himself on the horns of an old dilemma.