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´╗┐Title: On the Significance of Science and Art
Author: Tolstoy, Leo, graf, 1828-1910
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1887 Tomas Y. Crowell "What to do?" edition by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org




. . . {169} The justification of all persons who have freed themselves
from toil is now founded on experimental, positive science.  The
scientific theory is as follows:--

"For the study of the laws of life of human societies, there exists but
one indubitable method,--the positive, experimental, critical method

"Only sociology, founded on biology, founded on all the positive
sciences, can give us the laws of humanity.  Humanity, or human
communities, are the organisms already prepared, or still in process of
formation, and which are subservient to all the laws of the evolution of

"One of the chief of these laws is the variation of destination among the
portions of the organs.  Some people command, others obey.  If some have
in superabundance, and others in want, this arises not from the will of
God, not because the empire is a form of manifestation of personality,
but because in societies, as in organisms, division of labor becomes
indispensable for life as a whole.  Some people perform the muscular
labor in societies; others, the mental labor."

Upon this doctrine is founded the prevailing justification of our time.

Not long ago, their reigned in the learned, cultivated world, a moral
philosophy, according to which it appeared that every thing which exists
is reasonable; that there is no such thing as evil or good; and that it
is unnecessary for man to war against evil, but that it is only necessary
for him to display intelligence,--one man in the military service,
another in the judicial, another on the violin.  There have been many and
varied expressions of human wisdom, and these phenomena were known to the
men of the nineteenth century.  The wisdom of Rousseau and of Lessing,
and Spinoza and Bruno, and all the wisdom of antiquity; but no one man's
wisdom overrode the crowd.  It was impossible to say even this,--that
Hegel's success was the result of the symmetry of this theory.  There
were other equally symmetrical theories,--those of Descartes, Leibnitz,
Fichte, Schopenhauer.  There was but one reason why this doctrine won for
itself, for a season, the belief of the whole world; and this reason was,
that the deductions of that philosophy winked at people's weaknesses.
These deductions were summed up in this,--that every thing was
reasonable, every thing good; and that no one was to blame.

When I began my career, Hegelianism was the foundation of every thing.  It
was floating in the air; it was expressed in newspaper and periodical
articles, in historical and judicial lectures, in novels, in treatises,
in art, in sermons, in conversation.  The man who was not acquainted with
Hegal had no right to speak.  Any one who desired to understand the truth
studied Hegel.  Every thing rested on him.  And all at once the forties
passed, and there was nothing left of him.  There was not even a hint of
him, any more than if he had never existed.  And the most amazing thing
of all was, that Hegelianism did not fall because some one overthrew it
or destroyed it.  No!  It was the same then as now, but all at once it
appeared that it was of no use whatever to the learned and cultivated

There was a time when the Hegelian wise men triumphantly instructed the
masses; and the crowd, understanding nothing, blindly believed in every
thing, finding confirmation in the fact that it was on hand; and they
believed that what seemed to them muddy and contradictory there on the
heights of philosophy was all as clear as the day.  But that time has
gone by.  That theory is worn out: a new theory has presented itself in
its stead.  The old one has become useless; and the crowd has looked into
the secret sanctuaries of the high priests, and has seen that there is
nothing there, and that there has been nothing there, save very obscure
and senseless words.  This has taken place within my memory.

"But this arises," people of the present science will say, "from the fact
that all that was the raving of the theological and metaphysical period;
but now there exists positive, critical science, which does not deceive,
since it is all founded on induction and experiment.  Now our erections
are not shaky, as they formerly were, and only in our path lies the
solution of all the problems of humanity."

But the old teachers said precisely the same, and they were no fools; and
we know that there were people of great intelligence among them.  And
precisely thus, within my memory, and with no less confidence, with no
less recognition on the part of the crowd of so-called cultivated people,
spoke the Hegelians.  And neither were our Herzens, our Stankevitches, or
our Byelinskys fools.  But whence arose that marvellous manifestation,
that sensible people should preach with the greatest assurance, and that
the crowd should accept with devotion, such unfounded and unsupportable
teachings?  There is but one reason,--that the teachings thus inculcated
justified people in their evil life.

A very poor English writer, whose works are all forgotten, and recognized
as the most insignificant of the insignificant, writes a treatise on
population, in which he devises a fictitious law concerning the increase
of population disproportionate to the means of subsistence.  This
fictitious law, this writer encompasses with mathematical formulae
founded on nothing whatever; and then he launches it on the world.  From
the frivolity and the stupidity of this hypothesis, one would suppose
that it would not attract the attention of any one, and that it would
sink into oblivion, like all the works of the same author which followed
it; but it turned out quite otherwise.  The hack-writer who penned this
treatise instantly becomes a scientific authority, and maintains himself
upon that height for nearly half a century.  Malthus!  The Malthusian
theory,--the law of the increase of the population in geometrical, and of
the means of subsistence in arithmetical proportion, and the wise and
natural means of restricting the population,--all these have become
scientific, indubitable truths, which have not been confirmed, but which
have been employed as axioms, for the erection of false theories.  In
this manner have learned and cultivated people proceeded; and among the
herd of idle persons, there sprung up a pious trust in the great laws
expounded by Malthus.  How did this come to pass?  It would seem as
though they were scientific deductions, which had nothing in common with
the instincts of the masses.  But this can only appear so for the man who
believes that science, like the Church, is something self-contained,
liable to no errors, and not simply the imaginings of weak and erring
folk, who merely substitute the imposing word "science," in place of the
thoughts and words of the people, for the sake of impressiveness.

All that was necessary was to make practical deductions from the theory
of Malthus, in order to perceive that this theory was of the most human
sort, with the best defined of objects.  The deductions directly arising
from this theory were the following: The wretched condition of the
laboring classes was such in accordance with an unalterable law, which
does not depend upon men; and, if any one is to blame in this matter, it
is the hungry laboring classes themselves.  Why are they such fools as to
give birth to children, when they know that there will be nothing for the
children to eat?  And so this deduction, which is valuable for the herd
of idle people, has had this result: that all learned men overlooked the
incorrectness, the utter arbitrariness of these deductions, and their
insusceptibility to proof; and the throng of cultivated, i.e., of idle
people, knowing instinctively to what these deductions lead, saluted this
theory with enthusiasm, conferred upon it the stamp of truth, i.e., of
science, and dragged it about with them for half a century.

Is not this same thing the cause of the confidence of men in positive
critical-experimental science, and of the devout attitude of the crowd
towards that which it preaches?  At first it seems strange, that the
theory of evolution can in any manner justify people in their evil ways;
and it seems as though the scientific theory of evolution has to deal
only with facts, and that it does nothing else but observe facts.

But this only appears to be the case.

Exactly the same thing appeared to be the case with the Hegelian
doctrine, in a greater degree, and also in the special instance of the
Malthusian doctrine.  Hegelianism was, apparently, occupied only with its
logical constructions, and bore no relation to the life of mankind.
Precisely this seemed to be the case with the Malthusian theory.  It
appeared to be busy itself only with statistical data.  But this was only
in appearance.

Contemporary science is also occupied with facts alone: it investigates
facts.  But what facts?  Why precisely these facts, and no others?

The men of contemporary science are very fond of saying, triumphantly and
confidently, "We investigate only facts," imagining that these words
contain some meaning.  It is impossible to investigate facts alone,
because the facts which are subject to our investigation are
_innumerable_ (in the definite sense of that word),--innumerable.  Before
we proceed to investigate facts, we must have a theory on the foundation
of which these or those facts can be inquired into, i.e., selected from
the incalculable quantity.

And this theory exists, and is even very definitely expressed, although
many of the workers in contemporary science do not know it, or often
pretend that they do not know it.  Exactly thus has it always been with
all prevailing and guiding doctrines.  The foundations of every doctrine
are always stated in a theory, and the so-called learned men merely
invent further deductions from the foundations once stated.  Thus
contemporary science is selecting its facts on the foundation of a very
definite theory, which it sometimes knows, sometimes refuses to know, and
sometimes really does not know; but the theory exists.

The theory is as follows: All mankind is an undying organism; men are the
particles of that organism, and each one of them has his own special task
for the service of others.  In the same manner, the cells united in an
organism share among them the labor of fight for existence of the whole
organism; they magnify the power of one capacity, and weaken another, and
unite in one organ, in order the better to supply the requirements of the
whole organism.  And exactly in the same manner as with gregarious
animals,--ants or bees,--the separate individuals divide the labor among
them.  The queen lays the egg, the drone fructifies it; the bee works his
whole life long.  And precisely this thing takes place in mankind and in
human societies.  And therefore, in order to find the law of life for
man, it is necessary to study the laws of the life and the development of

In the life and development of organisms, we find the following laws: the
law of differentiation and integration, the law that every phenomenon is
accompanied not by direct consequences alone, another law regarding the
instability of type, and so on.  All this seems very innocent; but it is
only necessary to draw the deductions from all these laws, in order to
immediately perceive that these laws incline in the same direction as the
law of Malthus.  These laws all point to one thing; namely, to the
recognition of that division of labor which exists in human communities,
as organic, that is to say, as indispensable.  And therefore, the unjust
position in which we, the people who have freed ourselves from labor,
find ourselves, must be regarded not from the point of view of common-
sense and justice, but merely as an undoubted fact, confirming the
universal law.

Moral philosophy also justified every sort of cruelty and harshness; but
this resulted in a philosophical manner, and therefore wrongly.  But with
science, all this results scientifically, and therefore in a manner not
to be doubted.

How can we fail to accept so very beautiful a theory?  It is merely
necessary to look upon human society as an object of contemplation; and I
can console myself with the thought that my activity, whatever may be its
nature, is a functional activity of the organism of humanity, and that
therefore there cannot arise any question as to whether it is just that
I, in employing the labor of others, am doing only that which is
agreeable to me, as there can arise no question as to the division of
labor between the brain cells and the muscular cells.  How is it possible
not to admit so very beautiful a theory, in order that one may be able,
ever after, to pocket one's conscience, and have a perfectly unbridled
animal existence, feeling beneath one's self that support of science
which is not to be shaken nowadays!

And it is on this new doctrine that the justification for men's idleness
and cruelty is now founded.


This doctrine had its rise not so very long--fifty years--ago.  Its
principal founder was the French _savant_ Comte.  There occurred to
Comte,--a systematist, and a religious man to boot,--under the influence
of the then novel physiological investigations of Biche, the old idea
already set forth by Menenius Agrippa,--the idea that human society, all
humanity even, might be regarded as one whole, as an organism; and men as
living parts of the separate organs, having each his own definite
appointment to serve the entire organism.

This idea so pleased Comte, that upon it he began to erect a
philosophical theory; and this theory so carried him away, that he
utterly forgot that the point of departure for his theory was nothing
more than a very pretty comparison, which was suitable for a fable, but
which could by no means serve as the foundation for science.  He, as
frequently happens, mistook his pet hypothesis for an axiom, and imagined
that his whole theory was erected on the very firmest of foundations.
According to his theory, it seemed that since humanity is an organism,
the knowledge of what man is, and of what should be his relations to the
world, was possible only through a knowledge of the features of this
organism.  For the knowledge of these qualities, man is enabled to take
observations on other and lower organisms, and to draw conclusions from
their life.  Therefore, in the fist place, the true and only method,
according to Comte, is the inductive, and all science is only such when
it has experiment as its basis; in the second place, the goal and crown
of sciences is formed by that new science dealing with the imaginary
organism of humanity, or the super-organic being,--humanity,--and this
newly devised science is sociology.

And from this view of science it appears, that all previous knowledge was
deceitful, and that the whole story of humanity, in the sense of self-
knowledge, has been divided into three, actually into two, periods: the
theological and metaphysical period, extending from the beginning of the
world to Comte, and the present period,--that of the only true science,
positive science,--beginning with Comte.

All this was very well.  There was but one error, and that was this,--that
the whole edifice was erected on the sand, on the arbitrary and false
assertion that humanity is an organism.  This assertion was arbitrary,
because we have just as much right to admit the existence of a human
organism, not subject to observation, as we have to admit the existence
of any other invisible, fantastic being.  This assertion was erroneous,
because for the understanding of humanity, i.e., of men, the definition
of an organism was incorrectly constructed, while in humanity itself all
actual signs of organism,--the centre of feeling or consciousness, are
lacking. {178}

But, in spite of the arbitrariness and incorrectness of the fundamental
assumption of positive philosophy, it was accepted by the so-called
cultivated world with the greatest sympathy.  In this connection, one
thing is worthy of note: that out of the works of Comte, consisting of
two parts, of positive philosophy and of positive politics, only the
first was adopted by the learned world,--that part which justifieth, on
new promises, the existent evil of human societies; but the second part,
treating of the moral obligations of altruism, arising from the
recognition of mankind as an organism, was regarded as not only of no
importance, but as trivial and unscientific.  It was a repetition of the
same thing that had happened in the case of Kant's works.  The "Critique
of Pure Reason" was adopted by the scientific crowd; but the "Critique of
Applied Reason," that part which contains the gist of moral doctrine, was
repudiated.  In Kant's doctrine, that was accepted as scientific which
subserved the existent evil.  But the positive philosophy, which was
accepted by the crowd, was founded on an arbitrary and erroneous basis,
was in itself too unfounded, and therefore unsteady, and could not
support itself alone.  And so, amid all the multitude of the idle plays
of thought of the men professing the so-called science, there presents
itself an assertion equally devoid of novelty, and equally arbitrary and
erroneous, to the effect that living beings, i.e., organisms, have had
their rise in each other,--not only one organism from another, but one
from many; i.e., that in a very long interval of time (in a million of
years, for instance), not only could a duck and a fish proceed from one
ancestor, but that one animal might result from a whole hive of bees.  And
this arbitrary and erroneous assumption was accepted by the learned world
with still greater and more universal sympathy.  This assumption was
arbitrary, because no one has ever seen how one organism is made from
another, and therefore the hypothesis as to the origin of species will
always remain an hypothesis, and not an experimental fact.   And this
hypothesis was also erroneous, because the decision of the question as to
the origin of species--that they have originated, in consequence of the
law of heredity and fitness, in the course of an interminably long
time--is no solution at all, but merely a re-statement of the problem in
a new form.

According to Moses' solution of the question (in the dispute with whom
the entire significance of this theory lies), it appears that the
diversity of the species of living creatures proceeded according to the
will of God, and according to His almighty power; but according to the
theory of evolution, it appears that the difference between living
creatures arose by chance, and on account of varying conditions of
heredity and surroundings, through an endless period of time.  The theory
of evolution, to speak in simple language, merely asserts, that by
chance, in an incalculably long period of time, out of any thing you
like, any thing else that you like may develop.

This is no answer to the problem.  And the same problem is differently
expressed: instead of will, chance is offered, and the co-efficient of
the eternal is transposed from the power to the time.  But this fresh
assertion strengthened Comte's assertion.  And, moreover, according to
the ingenuous confession of the founder of Darwin's theory himself, his
idea was aroused in him by the law of Malthus; and he therefore
propounded the theory of the struggle of living creatures and people for
existence, as the fundamental law of every living thing.  And lo! only
this was needed by the throng of idle people for their justification.

Two insecure theories, incapable of sustaining themselves on their feet,
upheld each other, and acquired the semblance of stability.  Both
theories bore with them that idea which is precious to the crowd, that in
the existent evil of human societies, men are not to blame, and that the
existing order of things is that which should prevail; and the new theory
was adopted by the throng with entire faith and unheard-of enthusiasm.
And behold, on the strength of these two arbitrary and erroneous
hypotheses, accepted as dogmas of belief, the new scientific doctrine was

Spencer, for example, in one of his first works, expresses this doctrine

"Societies and organisms," he says, "are alike in the following points:--

"1.  In that, beginning as tiny aggregates, they imperceptibly grow in
mass, so that some of them attain to the size of ten thousand times their
original bulk.

"2.  In that while they were, in the beginning, of such simple structure,
that they can be regarded as destitute of all structure, they acquire
during the period of their growth a constantly increasing complication of

"3.  In that although in their early, undeveloped period, there exists
between them hardly any interdependence of parts, their parts gradually
acquire an interdependence, which eventually becomes so strong, that the
life and activity of each part becomes possible only on condition of the
life and activity of the remaining parts.

"4.  In that life and the development of society are independent, and
more protracted than the life and development of any one of the units
constituting it, which are born, grow, act, reproduce themselves, and die
separately; while the political body formed from them, continues to live
generation after generation, developing in mass in perfection and
functional activity."

The points of difference between organisms and society go farther; and it
is proved that these differences are merely apparent, but that organisms
and societies are absolutely similar.

For the uninitiated man the question immediately presents itself: "What
are you talking about?  Why is mankind an organism, or similar to an

You say that societies resemble organisms in these four features; but it
is nothing of the sort.  You only take a few features of the organism,
and beneath them you range human communities.  You bring forward four
features of resemblance, then you take four features of dissimilarity,
which are, however, only apparent (according to you); and you thence
conclude that human societies can be regarded as organisms.  But surely,
this is an empty game of dialectics, and nothing more.  On the same
foundation, under the features of an organism, you may range whatever you
please.  I will take the fist thing that comes into my head.  Let us
suppose it to be a forest,--the manner in which it sows itself in the
plain, and spreads abroad.  1. Beginning with a small aggregate, it
increases imperceptibly in mass, and so forth.  Exactly the same thing
takes place in the fields, when they gradually seed themselves down, and
bring forth a forest.  2. In the beginning the structure is simple:
afterwards it increases in complication, and so forth.  Exactly the same
thing happens with the forest,--in the first place, there were only bitch-
trees, then came brush-wood and hazel-bushes; at first all grow erect,
then they interlace their branches.  3. The interdependence of the parts
is so augmented, that the life of each part depends on the life and
activity of the remaining parts.  It is precisely so with the forest,--the
hazel-bush warms the tree-boles (cut it down, and the other trees will
freeze), the hazel-bush protects from the wind, the seed-bearing trees
carry on reproduction, the tall and leafy trees afford shade, and the
life of one tree depends on the life of another.  4. The separate parts
may die, but the whole lives.  Exactly the case with the forest.  The
forest does not mourn one tree.

Having proved that, in accordance with this theory, you may regard the
forest as an organism, you fancy that you have proved to the disciples of
the organic doctrine the error of their definition.  Nothing of the sort.
The definition which they give to the organism is so inaccurate and so
elastic that under this definition they may include what they will.
"Yes," they say; "and the forest may also be regarded as an organism.  The
forest is mutual re-action of individuals, which do not annihilate each
other,--an aggregate; its parts may also enter into a more intimate
union, as the hive of bees constitutes itself an organism."  Then you
will say, "If that is so, then the birds and the insects and the grass of
this forest, which re-act upon each other, and do not destroy each other,
may also be regarded as one organism, in company with the trees."  And to
this also they will agree.  Every collection of living individuals, which
re-act upon each other, and do not destroy each other, may be regarded as
organisms, according to their theory.  You may affirm a connection and
interaction between whatever you choose, and, according to evolution, you
may affirm, that, out of whatever you please, any other thing that you
please may proceed, in a very long period of time.

And the most remarkable thing of all is, that this same identical
positive science recognizes the scientific method as the sign of true
knowledge, and has itself defined what it designates as the scientific

By the scientific method it means common-sense.

And common-sense convicts it at every step.  As soon as the Popes felt
that nothing holy remained in them, they called themselves most holy.

As soon as science felt that no common-sense was left in her she called
herself sensible, that is to say, scientific science.


Division of labor is the law of all existing things, and, therefore, it
should be present in human societies.  It is very possible that this is
so; but still the question remains, Of what nature is that division of
labor which I behold in my human society? is it that division of labor
which should exist?  And if people regard a certain division of labor as
unreasonable and unjust, then no science whatever can convince men that
that should exist which they regard as unreasonable and unjust.

Division of labor is the condition of existence of organisms, and of
human societies; but what, in these human societies, is to be regarded as
an organic division of labor?  And, to whatever extent science may have
investigated the division of labor in the cells of worms, all these
observations do not compel a man to acknowledge that division of labor to
be correct which his own sense and conscience do not recognize as
correct.  No matter how convincing may be the proofs of the division of
labor of the cells in the organisms studied, man, if he has not parted
with his judgment, will say, nevertheless, that a man should not weave
calico all his life, and that this is not division of labor, but
persecution of the people.  Spencer and others say that there is a whole
community of weavers, and that the profession of weaving is an organic
division of labor.  There are weavers; so, of course, there is such a
division of labor.  It would be well enough to speak thus if the colony
of weavers had arisen by the free will of its member's; but we know that
it is not thus formed of their initiative, but that we make it.  Hence it
is necessary to find out whether we have made these weavers in accordance
with an organic law, or with some other.

Men live.  They support themselves by agriculture, as is natural to all
men.  One man has set up a blacksmith's forge, and repaired his plough;
his neighbor comes to him, and asks him to mend his also, and promises
him in return either work or money.  A third comes, and a fourth; and in
the community formed by these men, there arises the following division of
labor,--a blacksmith is created.  Another man has instructed his children
well; his neighbor brings his children to him, and requests him to teach
them also, and a teacher is created.  But both blacksmith and teacher
have been created, and continue to be such, merely because they have been
asked; and they remain such as long as they are requested to be
blacksmith and teacher.  If it should come to pass that many blacksmiths
and teachers should set themselves up, or that their work is not
requited, they will immediately, as common-sense demands and as always
happens when there is no occasion for disturbing the regular course of
division of labor,--they will immediately abandon their trade, and betake
themselves once more to agriculture.

Men who behave thus are guided by their sense, their conscience; and
hence we, the men endowed with sense and conscience, all assert that such
a division of labor is right.  But if it should chance that the
blacksmiths were able to compel other people to work for them, and should
continue to make horse-shoes when they were not wanted, and if the
teachers should go on teaching when there was no one to teach, then it is
obvious to every sane man, as a man, i.e., as a being endowed with reason
and conscience, that this would not be division, but appropriation, of
labor.  And yet precisely that sort of activity is what is called
division of labor by scientific science.  People do that which others do
not think of requiring, and demand that they shall be supported for so
doing, and say that this is just because it is division of labor.

That which constitutes the cause of the economical poverty of our age is
what the English call over-production (which means that a mass of things
are made which are of no use to anybody, and with which nothing can be

It would be odd to see a shoemaker, who should consider that people were
bound to feed him because he incessantly made boots which had been of no
use to any one for a long time; but what shall we say of those men who
make nothing,--who not only produce nothing that is visible, but nothing
that is of use for people at large,--for whose wares there are no
customers, and who yet demand, with the same boldness, on the ground of
division of labor, that they shall be supplied with fine food and drink,
and that they shall be dressed well?  There may be, and there are,
sorcerers for whose services a demand makes itself felt, and for this
purpose there are brought to them pancakes and flasks; but it is
difficult to imagine the existence of sorcerers whose spells are useless
to every one, and who boldly demand that they shall be luxuriously
supported because they exercise sorcery.  And it is the same in our
world.  And all this comes about on the basis of that false conception of
the division of labor, which is defined not by reason and conscience, but
by observation, which men of science avow with such unanimity.

Division of labor has, in reality, always existed, and still exists; but
it is right only when man decides with his reason and his conscience that
it should be so, and not when he merely investigates it.  And reason and
conscience decide the question for all men very simply, unanimously, and
in a manner not to be doubted.  They always decide it thus: that division
of labor is right only when a special branch of man's activity is so
needful to men, that they, entreating him to serve them, voluntarily
propose to support him in requital for that which he shall do for them.
But, when a man can live from infancy to the age of thirty years on the
necks of others, promising to do, when he shall have been taught,
something extremely useful, for which no one asks him; and when, from the
age of thirty until his death, he can live in the same manner, still
merely on the promise to do something, for which there has been no
request, this will not be division of labor (and, as a matter of fact,
there is no such thing in our society), but it will be what it already
is,--merely the appropriation, by force, of the toil of others; that same
appropriation by force of the toil of others which the philosophers
formerly designated by various names,--for instance, as indispensable
forms of life,--but which scientific science now calls the organic
division of labor.

The whole significance of scientific science lies in this alone.  It has
now become a distributer of diplomas for idleness; for it alone, in its
sanctuaries, selects and determines what is parasitical, and what is
organic activity, in the social organism.  Just as though every man could
not find this out for himself much more accurately and more speedily, by
taking counsel of his reason and his conscience.  It seems to men of
scientific science, that there can be no doubt of this, and that their
activity is also indubitably organic; they, the scientific and artistic
workers, are the brain cells, and the most precious cells in the whole

Ever since men--reasoning beings--have existed, they have distinguished
good from evil, and have profited by the fact that men have made this
distinction before them; they have warred against evil, and have sought
the good, and have slowly but uninterruptedly advanced in that path.  And
divers delusions have always stood before men, hemming in this path, and
having for their object to demonstrate to them, that it was not necessary
to do this, and that it was not necessary to live as they were living.
With fearful conflict and difficulty, men have freed themselves from many
delusions.  And behold, a new and a still more evil delusion has sprung
up in the path of mankind,--the scientific delusion.

This new delusion is precisely the same in nature as the old ones; its
gist lies in secretly leading astray the activity of our reason and
conscience, and of those who have lived before us, by something external.
In scientific science, this external thing is--investigation.

The cunning of this science consists in this,--that, after pointing out
to men the coarsest false interpretations of the activity of the reason
and conscience of man, it destroys in them faith in their own reason and
conscience, and assures them that every thing which their reason and
conscience say to them, that all that these have said to the loftiest
representatives of man heretofore, ever since the world has existed,--that
all this is conventional and subjective.  "All this must be abandoned,"
they say; "it is impossible to understand the truth by the reason, for we
may be mistaken.  But there exists another unerring and almost mechanical
path: it is necessary to investigate facts."

But facts must be investigated on the foundation of scientific science,
i.e., of the two hypotheses of positivism and evolution, which are not
borne out by any thing, and which give themselves out as undoubted
truths.  And the reigning science announces, with delusive solemnity,
that the solution of all problems of life is possible only through the
study of facts, of nature, and, in particular, of organisms.  The
credulous mass of young people, overwhelmed by the novelty of this
authority, which has not yet been overthrown or even touched by
criticism, flings itself into the study of natural sciences, into that
sole path, which, according to the assertion of the reigning science, can
lead to the elucidation of the problems of life.

But the farther the disciples proceed in this study, the farther and
farther does not only the possibility, but even the very idea, of the
solution of the problems of life withdraw from them, and the more and
more do they become accustomed, not so much to investigate, as to believe
in the assertions of other investigators (to believe in cells, in
protoplasm, in the fourth condition of bodies, and so forth); the more
and more does the form veil the contents from them; the more and more do
they lose the consciousness of good and evil, and the capacity of
understanding those expressions and definitions of good and evil which
have been elaborated through the whole foregoing life of mankind; and the
more and more do they appropriate to themselves the special scientific
jargon of conventional expressions, which possesses no universally human
significance; and the deeper and deeper do they plunge into the _debris_
of utterly unilluminated investigations; the more and more do they lose
the power, not only of independent thought, but even of understanding the
fresh human thought of others, which lies beyond the bounds of their
Talmud.  But the principal thing is, that they pass their best years in
getting disused to life; they grow accustomed to consider their position
as justifiable; and they convert themselves physically into utterly
useless parasites, and mentally they dislocate their brains and become
mental eunuchs.  And in precisely the same manner, according to the
measure of their folly, do they acquire self-conceit, which deprives them
forever of all possibility of return to a simple life of toil, to a
simple, clear, and universally human train of reasoning.

Division of labor always has existed in human communities, and will
probably always exist; but the question for us lies not in the fact that
it has existed, and that it will exist, but in this,--how are we to
govern ourselves so that this division shall be right?  But if we take
investigation as our rule of action, we by this very act repudiate all
rule; then in that case we shall regard as right every division of labor
which we shall descry among men, and which appears to us to be right--to
which conclusion the prevailing scientific science also leads.

Division of labor!

Some are busied in mental or moral, others in muscular or physical,
labor.  With what confidence people enunciate this!  They wish to think
so, and it seems to them that, in point of fact, a perfectly regular
exchange of services does take place.

But we, in our blindness, have so completely lost sight of the
responsibility which we have assumed, that we have even forgotten in
whose name our labor is prosecuted; and the very people whom we have
undertaken to serve have become the objects of our scientific and
artistic activity.  We study and depict them for our amusement and
diversion.  We have totally forgotten that what we need to do is not to
study and depict them, but to serve them.  To such a degree have we lost
sight of this duty which we have taken upon us, that we have not even
noticed that what we have undertaken to perform in the realm of science
and art has been accomplished not by us, but by others, and that our
place has turned out to be occupied.

It proves that while we have been disputing, one about the spontaneous
origin of organisms, another as to what else there is in protoplasm, and
so on, the common people have been in need of spiritual food; and the
unsuccessful and rejected of art and science, in obedience to the mandate
of adventurers who have in view the sole aim of profit, have begun to
furnish the people with this spiritual food, and still so furnish them.
For the last forty years in Europe, and for the last ten years with us
here in Russia, millions of books and pictures and song-books have been
distributed, and stalls have been opened, and the people gaze and sing
and receive spiritual nourishment, but not from us who have undertaken to
provide it; while we, justifying our idleness by that spiritual food
which we are supposed to furnish, sit by and wink at it.

But it is impossible for us to wink at it, for our last justification is
slipping from beneath our feet.  We have become specialized.  We have our
particular functional activity.  We are the brains of the people.  They
support us, and we have undertaken to teach them.  It is only under this
pretence that we have excused ourselves from work.  But what have we
taught them, and what are we now teaching them?  They have waited for
years--for tens, for hundreds of years.  And we keep on diverting our
minds with chatter, and we instruct each other, and we console ourselves,
and we have utterly forgotten them.  We have so entirely forgotten them,
that others have undertaken to instruct them, and we have not even
perceived it.  We have spoken of the division of labor with such lack of
seriousness, that it is obvious that what we have said about the benefits
which we have conferred on the people was simply a shameless evasion.


Science and art have arrogated to themselves the right of idleness, and
of the enjoyment of the labor of others, and have betrayed their calling.
And their errors have arisen merely because their servants, having set
forth a falsely conceived principle of the division of labor, have
recognized their own right to make use of the labor of others, and have
lost the significance of their vocation; having taken for their aim, not
the profit of the people, but the mysterious profit of science and art,
and delivered themselves over to idleness and vice--not so much of the
senses as of the mind.

They say, "Science and art have bestowed a great deal on mankind."

Science and art have bestowed a great deal on mankind, not because the
men of art and science, under the pretext of a division of labor, live on
other people, but in spite of this.

The Roman Republic was powerful, not because her citizens had the power
to live a vicious life, but because among their number there were heroic
citizens.  It is the same with art and science.  Art and science have
bestowed much on mankind, but not because their followers formerly
possessed on rare occasions (and now possess on every occasion) the
possibility of getting rid of labor; but because there have been men of
genius, who, without making use of these rights, have led mankind

The class of learned men and artists, which has advanced, on the
fictitious basis of a division of labor, its demands to the right of
using the labors of others, cannot co-operate in the success of true
science and true art, because a lie cannot bring forth the truth.

We have become so accustomed to these, our tenderly reared or weakened
representatives of mental labor, that it seems to us horrible that a man
of science or an artist should plough or cart manure.  It seems to us
that every thing would go to destruction, and that all his wisdom would
be rattled out of him in the cart, and that all those grand picturesque
images which he bears about in his breast would be soiled in the manure;
but we have become so inured to this, that it does not strike us as
strange that our servitor of science--that is to say, the servant and
teacher of the truth--by making other people do for him that which he
might do for himself, passes half his time in dainty eating, in smoking,
in talking, in free and easy gossip, in reading the newspapers and
romances, and in visiting the theatres.  It is not strange to us to see
our philosopher in the tavern, in the theatre, and at the ball.  It is
not strange in our eyes to learn that those artists who sweeten and
ennoble our souls have passed their lives in drunkenness, cards, and
women, if not in something worse.

Art and science are very beautiful things; but just because they are so
beautiful they should not be spoiled by the compulsory combination with
them of vice: that is to say, a man should not get rid of his obligation
to serve his own life and that of other people by his own labor.  Art and
science have caused mankind to progress.  Yes; but not because men of art
and science, under the guise of division of labor, have rid themselves of
the very first and most indisputable of human obligations,--to labor with
their hands in the universal struggle of mankind with nature.

"But only the division of labor, the freedom of men of science and of art
from the necessity of earning them living, has rendered possible that
remarkable success of science which we behold in our day," is the answer
to this.  "If all were forced to till the soil, those _vast_ results
would not have been attained which have been attained in our day; there
would have been none of those _striking_ successes which have so greatly
augmented man's power over nature, were it not for these astronomical
discoveries _which are so astounding to the mind of man_, and which have
added to the security of navigation; there would be no steamers, no
railways, none of those _wonderful_ bridges, tunnels, steam-engines and
telegraphs, photography, telephones, sewing-machines, phonographs,
electricity, telescopes, spectroscopes, microscopes, chloroform, Lister's
bandages, and carbolic acid."

I will not enumerate every thing on which our age thus prides itself.
This enumeration and pride of enthusiasm over ourselves and our exploits
can be found in almost any newspaper and popular pamphlet.  This
enthusiasm over ourselves is often repeated to such a degree that none of
us can sufficiently rejoice over ourselves, that we are seriously
convinced that art and science have never made such progress as in our
own time.  And, as we are indebted for all this marvellous progress to
the division of labor, why not acknowledge it?

Let us admit that the progress made in our day is noteworthy, marvellous,
unusual; let us admit that we are fortunate mortals to live in such a
remarkable epoch: but let us endeavor to appraise this progress, not on
the basis of our self-satisfaction, but of that principle which defends
itself with this progress,--the division of labor.  All this progress is
very amazing; but by a peculiarly unlucky chance, admitted even by the
men of science, this progress has not so far improved, but it has rather
rendered worse, the position of the majority, that is to say, of the

If the workingman can travel on the railway, instead of walking, still
that same railway has burned down his forest, has carried off his grain
under his very nose, and has brought his condition very near to
slavery--to the capitalist.  If, thanks to steam-engines and machines,
the workingman can purchase inferior calico at a cheap rate, on the other
hand these engines and machines have deprived him of work at home, and
have brought him into a state of abject slavery to the manufacturer.  If
there are telephones and telescopes, poems, romances, theatres, ballets,
symphonies, operas, picture-galleries, and so forth, on the other hand
the life of the workingman has not been bettered by all this; for all of
them, by the same unlucky chance, are inaccessible to him.

So that, on the whole (and even men of science admit this), up to the
present time, all these remarkable discoveries and products of science
and art have certainly not ameliorated the condition of the workingman,
if, indeed, they have not made it worse.  So that, if we set against the
question as to the reality of the progress attained by the arts and
sciences, not our own rapture, but that standard upon the basis of which
the division of labor is defended,--the good of the laboring man,--we
shall see that we have no firm foundations for that self-satisfaction in
which we are so fond of indulging.

The peasant travels on the railway, the woman buys calico, in the _isba_
(cottage) there will be a lamp instead of a pine-knot, and the peasant
will light his pipe with a match,--this is convenient; but what right
have I to say that the railway and the factory have proved advantageous
to the people?

If the peasant rides on the railway, and buys calico, a lamp, and
matches, it is only because it is impossible to forbid the peasant's
buying them; but surely we are all aware that the construction of
railways and factories has never been carried out for the benefit of the
lower classes: so why should a casual convenience which the workingman
enjoys lead to a proof of the utility of all these institutions for the

There is something useful in every injurious thing.  After a
conflagration, one can warm one's self, and light one's pipe with a
firebrand; but why declare that the conflagration is beneficial?

Men of art and science might say that their pursuits are beneficial to
the people, only when men of art and science have assigned to themselves
the object of serving the people, as they now assign themselves the
object of serving the authorities and the capitalists.  We might say this
if men of art and science had taken as their aim the needs of the people;
but there are none such.  All scientists are busy with their priestly
avocations, out of which proceed investigations into protoplasm, the
spectral analyses of stars, and so on.  But science has never once
thought of what axe or what hatchet is the most profitable to chop with,
what saw is the most handy, what is the best way to mix bread, from what
flour, how to set it, how to build and heat an oven, what food and drink,
and what utensils, are the most convenient and advantageous under certain
conditions, what mushrooms may be eaten, how to propagate them, and how
to prepare them in the most suitable manner.  And yet all this is the
province of science.

I am aware, that, according to its own definition, science ought to be
useless, i.e., science for the sake of science; but surely this is an
obvious evasion.  The province of science is to serve the people.  We
have invented telegraphs, telephones, phonographs; but what advances have
we effected in the life, in the labor, of the people?  We have reckoned
up two millions of beetles!  And we have not tamed a single animal since
biblical times, when all our animals were already domesticated; but the
reindeer, the stag, the partridge, the heath-cock, all remain wild.

Our botanists have discovered the cell, and in the cell protoplasm, and
in that protoplasm still something more, and in that atom yet another
thing.  It is evident that these occupations will not end for a long time
to come, because it is obvious that there can be no end to them, and
therefore the scientist has no time to devote to those things which are
necessary to the people.  And therefore, again, from the time of Egyptian
and Hebrew antiquity, when wheat and lentils had already been cultivated,
down to our own times, not a single plant has been added to the food of
the people, with the exception of the potato, and that was not obtained
by science.

Torpedoes have been invented, and apparatus for taxation, and so forth.
But the spinning-whined, the woman's weaving-loom, the plough, the
hatchet, the chain, the rake, the bucket, the well-sweep, are exactly the
same as they were in the days of Rurik; and if there has been any change,
then that change has not been effected by scientific people.

And it is the same with the arts.  We have elevated a lot of people to
the rank of great writers; we have picked these writers to pieces, and
have written mountains of criticism, and criticism on the critics, and
criticism on the critics of the critics.  And we have collected picture-
galleries, and have studied different schools of art in detail; and we
have so many symphonies and orchestras and operas, that it is becoming
difficult even for us to listen to them.  But what have we added to the
popular _bylini_ [the epic songs], legends, tales, songs?  What music,
what pictures, have we given to the people?

On the Nikolskaya books are manufactured for the people, and harmonicas
in Tula; and in neither have we taken any part.  The falsity of the whole
direction of our arts and sciences is more striking and more apparent in
precisely those very branches, which, it would seem, should, from their
very nature, be of use to the people, and which, in consequence of their
false attitude, seem rather injurious than useful.  The technologist, the
physician, the teacher, the artist, the author, should, in virtue of
their very callings, it would seem, serve the people.  And, what then?
Under the present _regime_, they can do nothing but harm to the people.

The technologist or the mechanic has to work with capital.  Without
capital he is good for nothing.  All his acquirements are such that for
their display he requires capital, and the exploitation of the laboring-
man on the largest scale; and--not to mention that he is trained to live,
at the lowest, on from fifteen hundred to two thousand a year, and that,
therefore, he cannot go to the country, where no one can give him such
wages,--he is, by virtue of his very occupation, unfitted for serving the
people.  He knows how to calculate the highest mathematical arch of a
bridge, how to calculate the force and transfer of the motive power, and
so on; but he is confounded by the simplest questions of a peasant: how
to improve a plough or a cart, or how to make irrigating canals.  All
this in the conditions of life in which the laboring man finds himself.
Of this, he neither knows nor understands any thing,--less, indeed, than
the very stupidest peasant.  Give him workshops, all sorts of workmen at
his desire, an order for a machine from abroad, and he will get along.
But how to devise means of lightening toil, under the conditions of labor
of millions of men,--this is what he does not and can not know; and
because of his knowledge, his habits, and his demands on life, he is
unfitted for this business.

In a still worse predicament is the physician.  His fancied science is
all so arranged, that he only knows how to heal those persons who do
nothing.  He requires an incalculable quantity of expensive preparations,
instruments, drugs, and hygienic apparatus.

He has studied with celebrities in the capitals, who only retain patients
who can be cured in the hospital, or who, in the course of their cure,
can purchase the appliances requisite for healing, and even go at once
from the North to the South, to some baths or other.  Science is of such
a nature, that every rural physic-man laments because there are no means
of curing working-men, because he is so poor that he has not the means to
place the sick man in the proper hygienic conditions; and at the same
time this physician complains that there are no hospitals, and that he
cannot get through with his work, that he needs assistants, more doctors
and practitioners.

What is the inference?  This: that the people's principal lack, from
which diseases arise, and spread abroad, and refuse to be healed, is the
lack of means of subsistence.  And here Science, under the banner of the
division of labor, summons her warriors to the aid of the people.  Science
is entirely arranged for the wealthy classes, and it has adopted for its
task the healing of the people who can obtain every thing for themselves;
and it attempts to heal those who possess no superfluity, by the same

But there are no means, and therefore it is necessary to take them from
the people who are ailing, and pest-stricken, and who cannot recover for
lack of means.  And now the defenders of medicine for the people say that
this matter has been, as yet, but little developed.  Evidently it has
been but little developed, because if (which God forbid!) it had been
developed, and that through oppressing the people,--instead of two
doctors, midwives, and practitioners in a district, twenty would have
settled down, since they desire this, and half the people would have died
through the difficulty of supporting this medical staff, and soon there
would be no one to heal.

Scientific co-operation with the people, of which the defenders of
science talk, must be something quite different.  And this co-operation
which should exist has not yet begun.  It will begin when the man of
science, technologist or physician, will not consider it legal to take
from people--I will not say a hundred thousand, but even a modest ten
thousand, or five hundred rubles for assisting them; but when he will
live among the toiling people, under the same conditions, and exactly as
they do, then he will be able to apply his knowledge to the questions of
mechanics, technics, hygiene, and the healing of the laboring people.  But
now science, supporting itself at the expense of the working-people, has
entirely forgotten the conditions of life among these people, ignores (as
it puts it) these conditions, and takes very grave offence because its
fancied knowledge finds no adherents among the people.

The domain of medicine, like the domain of technical science, still lies
untouched.  All questions as to how the time of labor is best divided,
what is the best method of nourishment, with what, in what shape, and
when it is best to clothe one's self, to shoe one's self, to counteract
dampness and cold, how best to wash one's self, to feed the children, to
swaddle them, and so on, in just those conditions in which the working-
people find themselves,--all these questions have not yet been

The same is the case with the activity of the teachers of
science,--pedagogical teachers.  Exactly in the same manner science has
so arranged this matter, that only wealthy people are able to study
science, and teachers, like technologists and physicians, cling to money.

And this cannot be otherwise, because a school built on a model plan (as
a general rule, the more scientifically built the school, the more costly
it is), with pivot chains, and globes, and maps, and library, and petty
text-books for teachers and scholars and pedagogues, is a sort of thing
for which it would be necessary to double the taxes in every village.
This science demands.  The people need money for their work; and the more
there is needed, the poorer they are.

Defenders of science say: "Pedagogy is even now proving of advantage to
the people, but give it a chance to develop, and then it will do still
better."  Yes, if it does develop, and instead of twenty schools in a
district there are a hundred, and all scientific, and if the people
support these schools, they will grow poorer than ever, and they will
more than ever need work for their children's sake.  "What is to be
done?" they say to this.  The government will build the schools, and will
make education obligatory, as it is in Europe; but again, surely, the
money is taken from the people just the same, and it will be harder to
work, and they will have less leisure for work, and there will be no
education even by compulsion.  Again the sole salvation is this: that the
teacher should live under the conditions of the working-men, and should
teach for that compensation which they give him freely and voluntarily.

Such is the false course of science, which deprives it of the power of
fulfilling its obligation, which is, to serve the people.

But in nothing is this false course of science so obviously apparent, as
in the vocation of art, which, from its very significance, ought to be
accessible to the people.  Science may fall back on its stupid excuse,
that science acts for science, and that when it turns out learned men it
is laboring for the people; but art, if it is art, should be accessible
to all the people, and in particular to those in whose name it is
executed.  And our definition of art, in a striking manner, convicts
those who busy themselves with art, of their lack of desire, lack of
knowledge, and lack of power, to be useful to the people.

The painter, for the production of his great works, must have a studio of
at least such dimensions that a whole association of carpenters (forty in
number) or shoemakers, now sickening or stifling in lairs, would be able
to work in it.  But this is not all; he must have a model, costumes,
travels.  Millions are expended on the encouragement of art, and the
products of this art are both incomprehensible and useless to the people.
Musicians, in order to express their grand ideas, must assemble two
hundred men in white neckties, or in costumes, and spend hundreds of
thousands of rubles for the equipment of an opera.  And the products of
this art cannot evoke from the people--even if the latter could at any
time enjoy it--any thing except amazement and _ennui_.

Writers--authors--it appears, do not require surroundings, studios,
models, orchestras, and actors; but it then appears that the author needs
(not to mention comfort in his quarters) all the dainties of life for the
preparation of his great works, travels, palaces, cabinets, libraries,
the pleasures of art, visits to theatres, concerts, the baths, and so on.
If he does not earn a fortune for himself, he is granted a pension, in
order that he may compose the better.  And again, these compositions, so
prized by us, remain useless lumber for the people, and utterly
unserviceable to them.

And if still more of these dealers in spiritual nourishment are developed
further, as men of science desire, and a studio is erected in every
village; if an orchestra is set up, and authors are supported in those
conditions which artistic people regard as indispensable for
themselves,--I imagine that the working-classes will sooner take an oath
never to look at any pictures, never to listen to a symphony, never to
read poetry or novels, than to feed all these persons.

And why, apparently, should art not be of service to the people?  In
every cottage there are images and pictures; every peasant man and woman
sings; many own harmonicas; and all recite stories and verses, and many
read.  It is as if those two things which are made for each other--the
lock and the key--had parted company; they have sprung so far apart, that
not even the possibility of uniting them presents itself.  Tell the
artist that he should paint without a studio, model, or costumes, and
that he should paint five-kopek pictures, and he will say that that is
tantamount to abandoning his art, as he understands it.  Tell the
musician that he should play on the harmonica, and teach the women to
sing songs; say to the poet, to the author, that he ought to cast aside
his poems and romances, and compose song-books, tales, and stories,
comprehensible to the uneducated people,--they will say that you are mad.

The service of the people by science and art will only be performed when
people, dwelling in the midst of the common folk, and, like the common
folk, putting forward no demands, claiming no rights, shall offer to the
common folk their scientific and artistic services; the acceptance or
rejection of which shall depend wholly on the will of the common folk.

It is said that the activity of science and art has aided in the forward
march of mankind,--meaning by this activity, that which is now called by
that name; which is the same as saying that an unskilled banging of oars
on a vessel that is floating with the tide, which merely hinders the
progress of the vessel, is assisting the movement of the ship.  It only
retards it.  The so-called division of labor, which has become in our day
the condition of activity of men of science and art, was, and has
remained, the chief cause of the tardy forward movement of mankind.

The proofs of this lie in that confession of all men of science, that the
gains of science and art are inaccessible to the laboring masses, in
consequence of the faulty distribution of riches.  The irregularity of
this distribution does not decrease in proportion to the progress of
science and art, but only increases.  Men of art and science assume an
air of deep pity for this unfortunate circumstance which does not depend
upon them.  But this unfortunate circumstance is produced by themselves;
for this irregular distribution of wealth flows solely from the theory of
the division of labor.

Science maintains the division of labor as a unalterable law; it sees
that the distribution of wealth, founded on the division of labor, is
wrong and ruinous; and it affirms that its activity, which recognizes the
division of labor, will lead people to bliss.  The result is, that some
people make use of the labor of others; but that, if they shall make use
of the labor of others for a very long period of time, and in still
larger measure, then this wrongful distribution of wealth, i.e., the use
of the labor of others, will come to an end.

Men stand beside a constantly swelling spring of water, and are occupied
with the problem of diverting it to one side, away from the thirsty
people, and they assert that they are producing this water, and that soon
enough will be collected for all.  But this water which has flowed, and
which still flows unceasingly, and nourishes all mankind, not only is not
the result of the activity of the men who, standing at its source, turn
it aside, but this water flows and gushes out, in spite of the efforts of
these men to obstruct its flow.

There have always existed a true science, and a true art; but true
science and art are not such because they called themselves by that name.
It always seems to those who claim at any given period to be the
representatives of science and art, that they have performed, and are
performing, and--most of all--that they will presently perform, the most
amazing marvels, and that beside them there never has been and there is
not any science or any art.  Thus it seemed to the sophists, the
scholastics, the alchemists, the cabalists, the talmudists; and thus it
seems to our own scientific science, and to our art for the sake of art.


"But art,--science!  You repudiate art and science; that is, you
repudiate that by which mankind lives!"  People are constantly making
this--it is not a reply--to me, and they employ this mode of reception in
order to reject my deductions without examining into them.  "He
repudiates science and art, he wants to send people back again into a
savage state; so what is the use of listening to him and of talking to
him?"  But this is unjust.  I not only do not repudiate art and science,
but, in the name of that which is true art and true science, I say that
which I do say; merely in order that mankind may emerge from that savage
state into which it will speedily fall, thanks to the erroneous teaching
of our time,--only for this purpose do I say that which I say.

Art and science are as indispensable as food and drink and clothing,--more
indispensable even; but they become so, not because we decide that what
we designate as art and science are indispensable, but simply because
they really are indispensable to people.

Surely, if hay is prepared for the bodily nourishment of men, the fact
that we are convinced that hay is the proper food for man will not make
hay the food of man.  Surely I cannot say, "Why do not you eat hay, when
it is the indispensable food?"  Food is indispensable, but it may happen
that that which I offer is not food at all.  This same thing has occurred
with our art and science.  It seems to us, that if we add to a Greek word
the word "logy," and call that a science, it will be a science; and, if
we call any abominable thing--like the dancing of nude females--by a
Greek word, choreography, that that is art, and that it will be art.  But
no matter how much we may say this, the business with which we occupy
ourselves when we count beetles, and investigate the chemical
constituents of the stars in the Milky Way, when we paint nymphs and
compose novels and symphonies,--our business will not become either art
or science until such time as it is accepted by those people for whom it
is wrought.

If it were decided that only certain people should produce food, and if
all the rest were forbidden to do this, or if they were rendered
incapable of producing food, I suppose that the quality of food would be
lowered.  If the people who enjoyed the monopoly of producing food were
Russian peasants, there would be no other food than black bread and
cabbage-soup, and so on, and kvas,--nothing except what they like, and
what is agreeable to them.  The same thing would happen in the case of
that loftiest human pursuit, of arts and sciences, if one caste were to
arrogate to itself a monopoly of them: but with this sole difference,
that, in the matter of bodily food, there can be no great departure from
nature, and bread and cabbage-soup, although not very savory viands, are
fit for consumption; but in spiritual food, there may exist the very
greatest departures from nature, and some people may feed themselves for
a long time on poisonous spiritual nourishment, which is directly
unsuitable for, or injurious to, them; they may slowly kill themselves
with spiritual opium or liquors, and they may offer this same food to the

It is this very thing that is going on among us.  And it has come about
because the position of men of science and art is a privileged one,
because art and science (in our day), in our world, are not at all a
rational occupation of all mankind without exception, exerting their best
powers for the service of art and science, but an occupation of a
restricted circle of people holding a monopoly of these industries, and
entitling themselves men of art and science, and who have, therefore,
perverted the very idea of art and science, and have lost all the meaning
of their vocation, and who are only concerned in amusing and rescuing
from crushing _ennui_ their tiny circle of idle mouths.

Ever since men have existed, they have always had science and art in the
simplest and broadest sense of the term.  Science, in the sense of the
whole of knowledge acquired by mankind, exists and always has existed,
and life without it is not conceivable; and there is no possibility of
either attacking or defending science, taken in this sense.

But the point lies here,--that the scope of the knowledge of all mankind
as a whole is so multifarious, ranging from the knowledge of how to
extract iron to the knowledge of the movements of the planets, that man
loses himself in this multitude of existing knowledge,--knowledge capable
of _endless_ possibilities, if he have no guiding thread, by the aid of
which he can classify this knowledge, and arrange the branches according
to the degrees of their significance and importance.

Before a man undertakes to learn any thing whatever, he must make up his
mind that that branch of knowledge is of weight to him, and of more
weight and importance than the countless other objects of study with
which he is surrounded.  Before undertaking the study of any thing, a man
decides for what purpose he is studying this subject, and not the others.
But to study every thing, as the men of scientific science in our day
preach, without any idea of what is to come out of such study, is
downright impossible, because the number of subjects of study is
_endless_; and hence, no matter how many branches we may acquire, their
acquisition can possess no significance or reason.  And, therefore, in
ancient times, down to even a very recent date, until the appearance of
scientific science, man's highest wisdom consisted in finding that
guiding thread, according to which the knowledge of men should be
classified as being of primary or of secondary importance.  And this
knowledge, which forms the guide to all other branches of knowledge, men
have always called science in the strictest acceptation of the word.  And
such science there has always been, even down to our own day, in all
human communities which have emerged from their primal state of savagery.

Ever since mankind has existed, teachers have always arisen among
peoples, who have enunciated science in this restricted sense,--the
science of what it is most useful for man to know.  This science has
always had for its object the knowledge of what is the true ground of the
well-being of each individual man, and of all men, and why.  Such was the
science of Confucius, of Buddha, of Socrates, of Mahomet, and of others;
such is this science as they understood it, and as all men--with the
exception of our little circle of so-called cultured people--understand
it.  This science has not only always occupied the highest place, but has
been the only and sole science, from which the standing of the rest has
been determined.  And this was the case, not in the least because, as the
so-called scientific people of our day think, cunning priestly teachers
of this science attributed to it such significance, but because in
reality, as every one knows, both by personal experience and by
reflection, there can be no science except the science of that in which
the destiny and welfare of man consist.  For the objects of science are
_incalculable_ in number,--I undermine the word "incalculable" in the
exact sense in which I understand it,--and without the knowledge of that
in which the destiny and welfare of all men consist, there is no
possibility of making a choice amid this interminable multitude of
subjects; and therefore, without this knowledge, all other arts and
branches of learning will become, as they have become among us, an idle
and hurtful diversion.

Mankind has existed and existed, and never has it existed without the
science of that in which the destiny and the welfare of men consist.  It
is true that the science of the welfare of men appears different on
superficial observation, among the Buddhists, the Brahmins, the Hebrews,
the Confucians, the Tauists; but nevertheless, wherever we hear of men
who have emerged from a state of savagery, we find this science.  And all
of a sudden it appears that the men of our day have decided that this
same science, which has hitherto served as the guiding thread of all
human knowledge, is the very thing which hinders every thing.  Men erect
buildings; and one architect has made one estimate of cost, a second has
made another, and a third yet another.  The estimates differ somewhat;
but they are correct, so that any one can see, that, if the whole is
carried out in accordance with the calculations, the building will be
erected.  Along come people, and assert that the chief point lies in
having no estimates, and that it should be built thus--by the eye.  And
this "thus," men call the most accurate of scientific science.  Men
repudiate every science, the very substance of science,--the definition
of the destiny and the welfare of men,--and this repudiation they
designate as science.

Ever since men have existed, great minds have been born into their midst,
which, in the conflict with reason and conscience, have put to themselves
questions as to "what constitutes welfare,--the destiny and welfare, not
of myself alone, but of every man?"  What does that power which has
created and which leads me, demand of me and of every man?  And what is
it necessary for me to do, in order to comply with the requirements
imposed upon me by the demands of individual and universal welfare?  They
have asked themselves: "I am a whole, and also a part of something
infinite, eternal; what, then, are my relations to other parts similar to
myself, to men and to the whole--to the world?"

And from the voices of conscience and of reason, and from a comparison of
what their contemporaries and men who had lived before them, and who had
propounded to themselves the same questions, had said, these great
teachers have deduced their doctrines, which were simple, clear,
intelligible to all men, and always such as were susceptible of
fulfilment.  Such men have existed of the first, second, third, and
lowest ranks.  The world is full of such men.  Every living man propounds
the question to himself, how to reconcile the demands of welfare, and of
his personal existence, with conscience and reason; and from this
universal labor, slowly but uninterruptedly, new forms of life, which are
more in accord with the requirements of reason and of conscience, are
worked out.

All at once, a new caste of people makes its appearance, and they say,
"All this is nonsense; all this must be abandoned."  This is the
deductive method of ratiocination (wherein lies the difference between
the deductive and the inductive method, no one can understand); these are
the dogmas of the technological and metaphysical period.  Every thing
that these men discover by inward experience, and which they communicate
to one another, concerning their knowledge of the law of their existence
(of their functional activity, according to their own jargon), every
thing that the grandest minds of mankind have accomplished in this
direction, since the beginning of the world,--all this is nonsense, and
has no weight whatever.  According to this new doctrine, it appears that
you are cells: and that you, as a cell, have a very definite functional
activity, which you not only fulfil, but which you infallibly feel within
you; and that you are a thinking, talking, understanding cell, and that
you, for this reason, can ask another similar talking cell whether it is
just the same, and in this way verify your own experience; that you can
take advantage of the fact that speaking cells, which have lived before
you, have written on the same subject, and that you have millions of
cells which confirm your observations by their agreement with the cells
which have written down their thoughts,--all this signifies nothing; all
this is an evil and an erroneous method.

The true scientific method is this: If you wish to know in what the
destiny and the welfare of all mankind and of all the world consists, you
must, first of all, cease to listen to the voices of your conscience and
of your reason, which present themselves in you and in others like you;
you must cease to believe all that the great teachers of mankind have
said with regard to your conscience and reason, and you must consider all
this as nonsense, and begin all over again.  And, in order to understand
every thing from the beginning, you must look through microscopes at the
movements of amoebae, and cells in worms, or, with still greater
composure, believe in every thing that men with a diploma of
infallibility shall say to you about them.  And as you gaze at the
movements of these cells, or read about what others have seen, you must
attribute to these cells your own human sensations and calculations as to
what they desire, whither they are directing themselves, how they compare
and discuss, and to what they have become accustomed; and from these
observations (in which there is not a word about an error of thought or
of expression) you must deduce a conclusion by analogy as to what you
are, what is your destiny, wherein lies the welfare of yourself and of
other cells like you.  In order to understand yourself, you must study
not only the worms which you see, but microscopic creatures which you can
barely see, and transformations from one set of creatures into others,
which no one has ever beheld, and which you, most assuredly, will never
behold.  And the same with art.  Where there has been true science, art
has always been its exponent.

Ever since men have been in existence, they have been in the habit of
deducing, from all pursuits, the expressions of various branches of
learning concerning the destiny and the welfare of man, and the
expression of this knowledge has been art in the strict sense of the

Ever since men have existed, there have been those who were peculiarly
sensitive and responsive to the doctrine regarding the destiny and
welfare of man; who have given expression to their own and the popular
conflict, to the delusions which lead them astray from their destinies,
their sufferings in this conflict, their hopes in the triumph of good,
them despair over the triumph of evil, and their raptures in the
consciousness of the approaching bliss of man, on viol and tabret, in
images and words.  Always, down to the most recent times, art has served
science and life,--only then was it what has been so highly esteemed of
men.  But art, in its capacity of an important human activity,
disappeared simultaneously with the substitution for the genuine science
of destiny and welfare, of the science of any thing you choose to fancy.
Art has existed among all peoples, and will exist until that which among
us is scornfully called religion has come to be considered the only

In our European world, so long as there existed a Church, as the doctrine
of destiny and welfare, and so long as the Church was regarded as the
only true science, art served the Church, and remained true art: but as
soon as art abandoned the Church, and began to serve science, while
science served whatever came to hand, art lost its significance.  And
notwithstanding the rights claimed on the score of ancient memories, and
of the clumsy assertion which only proves its loss of its calling, that
art serves art, it has become a trade, providing men with something
agreeable; and as such, it inevitably comes into the category of
choreographic, culinary, hair-dressing, and cosmetic arts, whose
practitioners designate themselves as artists, with the same right as the
poets, printers, and musicians of our day.

Glance backward into the past, and you will see that in the course of
thousands of years, out of milliards of people, only half a score of
Confucius', Buddhas, Solomons, Socrates, Solons, and Homers have been
produced.  Evidently, they are rarely met with among men, in spite of the
fact that these men have not been selected from a single caste, but from
mankind at large.  Evidently, these true teachers and artists and learned
men, the purveyors of spiritual nourishment, are rare.  And it is not
without reason that mankind has valued and still values them so highly.

But it now appears, that all these great factors in the science and art
of the past are no longer of use to us.  Nowadays, scientific and
artistic authorities can, in accordance with the law of division of
labor, be turned out by factory methods; and, in one decade, more great
men have been manufactured in art and science, than have ever been born
of such among all nations, since the foundation of the world.  Nowadays
there is a guild of learned men and artists, and they prepare, by
perfected methods, all that spiritual food which man requires.  And they
have prepared so much of it, that it is no longer necessary to refer to
the elder authorities, who have preceded them,--not only to the ancients,
but to those much nearer to us.  All that was the activity of the
theological and metaphysical period,--all that must be wiped out: but the
true, the rational activity began, say, fifty years ago, and in the
course of those fifty years we have made so many great men, that there
are about ten great men to every branch of science.  And there have come
to be so many sciences, that, fortunately, it is easy to make them.  All
that is required is to add the Greek word "logy" to the name, and force
them to conform to a set rubric, and the science is all complete.  They
have created so many sciences, that not only can no one man know them
all, but not a single individual can remember all the titles of all the
existing sciences; the titles alone form a thick lexicon, and new
sciences are manufactured every day.  They have been manufactured on the
pattern of that Finnish teacher who taught the landed proprietor's
children Finnish instead of French.  Every thing has been excellently
inculcated; but there is one objection,--that no one except ourselves can
understand any thing of it, and all this is reckoned as utterly useless
nonsense.  However, there is an explanation even for this.  People do not
appreciate the full value of scientific science, because they are under
the influence of the theological period, that profound period when all
the people, both among the Hebrews, and the Chinese, and the Indians, and
the Greeks, understood every thing that their great teachers said to

But, from whatever cause this has come about, the fact remains, that
sciences and arts have always existed among mankind, and, when they
really did exist, they were useful and intelligible to all the people.
But we practise something which we call science and art, but it appears
that what we do is unnecessary and unintelligible to man.  And hence,
however beautiful may be the things that we accomplish, we have no right
to call them arts and sciences.


"But you only furnish a different definition of arts and sciences, which
is stricter, and is incompatible with science," I shall be told in answer
to this; "nevertheless, scientific and artistic activity does still
exist.  There are the Galileos, Brunos, Homers, Michael Angelos,
Beethovens, and all the lesser learned men and artists, who have
consecrated their entire lives to the service of science and art, and who
were, and will remain, the benefactors of mankind."

Generally this is what people say, striving to forget that new principle
of the division of labor, on the basis of which science and art now
occupy their privileged position, and on whose basis we are now enabled
to decide without grounds, but by a given standard: Is there, or is there
not, any foundation for that activity which calls itself science and art,
to so magnify itself?

When the Egyptian or the Grecian priests produced their mysteries, which
were unintelligible to any one, and stated concerning these mysteries
that all science and all art were contained in them, I could not verify
the reality of their science on the basis of the benefit procured by them
to the people, because science, according to their assertions, was
supernatural.  But now we all possess a very simple and clear definition
of the activity of art and science, which excludes every thing
supernatural: science and art promise to carry out the mental activity of
mankind, for the welfare of society, or of all the human race.

The definition of scientific science and art is entirely correct; but,
unfortunately, the activity of the present arts and sciences does not
come under this head.  Some of them are directly injurious, others are
useless, others still are worthless,--good only for the wealthy.  They do
not fulfil that which, by their own definition, they have undertaken to
accomplish; and hence they have as little right to regard themselves as
men of art and science, as a corrupt priesthood, which does not fulfil
the obligations which it has assumed, has the right to regard itself as
the bearer of divine truth.

And it can be understood why the makers of the present arts and sciences
have not fulfilled, and cannot fulfil, their vocation.  They do not
fulfil it, because out of their obligations they have erected a right.

Scientific and artistic activity, in its real sense, is only fruitful
when it knows no rights, but recognizes only obligations.  Only because
it is its property to be always thus, does mankind so highly prize this
activity.  If men really were called to the service of others through
artistic work, they would see in that work only obligation, and they
would fulfil it with toil, with privations, and with self-abnegation.

The thinker or the artist will never sit calmly on Olympian heights, as
we have become accustomed to represent them to ourselves.  The thinker or
the artist should suffer in company with the people, in order that he may
find salvation or consolation.  Besides this, he will suffer because he
is always and eternally in turmoil and agitation: he might decide and say
that that which would confer welfare on men, would free them from
suffering, would afford them consolation; but he has not said so, and has
not presented it as he should have done; he has not decided, and he has
not spoken; and to-morrow, possibly, it will be too late,--he will die.
And therefore suffering and self-sacrifice will always be the lot of the
thinker and the artist.

Not of this description will be the thinker and artist who is reared in
an establishment where, apparently, they manufacture the learned man or
the artist (but in point of fact, they manufacture destroyers of science
and of art), who receives a diploma and a certificate, who would be glad
not to think and not to express that which is imposed on his soul, but
who cannot avoid doing that to which two irresistible forces draw him,--an
inward prompting, and the demand of men.

There will be no sleek, plump, self-satisfied thinkers and artists.
Spiritual activity, and its expression, which are actually necessary to
others, are the most burdensome of all man's avocations; a cross, as the
Gospels phrase it.  And the sole indubitable sign of the presence of a
vocation is self-devotion, the sacrifice of self for the manifestation of
the power that is imposed upon man for the benefit of others.

It is possible to study out how many beetles there are in the world, to
view the spots on the sun, to write romances and operas, without
suffering; but it is impossible, without self-sacrifice, to instruct
people in their true happiness, which consists solely in renunciation of
self and the service of others, and to give strong expression to this
doctrine, without self-sacrifice.

Christ did not die on the cross in vain; not in vain does the sacrifice
of suffering conquer all things.

But our art and science are provided with certificates and diplomas; and
the only anxiety of all men is, how to still better guarantee them, i.e.,
how to render the service of the people impracticable for them.

True art and true science possess two unmistakable marks: the first, an
inward mark, which is this, that the servitor of art and science will
fulfil his vocation, not for profit but with self-sacrifice; and the
second, an external sign,--his productions will be intelligible to all
the people whose welfare he has in view.

No matter what people have fixed upon as their vocation and their
welfare, science will be the doctrine of this vocation and welfare, and
art will be the expression of that doctrine.  That which is called
science and art, among us, is the product of idle minds and feelings,
which have for their object to tickle similar idle minds and feelings.
Our arts and sciences are incomprehensible, and say nothing to the
people, for they have not the welfare of the common people in view.

Ever since the life of men has been known to us, we find, always and
everywhere, the reigning doctrine falsely designating itself as science,
not manifesting itself to the common people, but obscuring for them the
meaning of life.  Thus it was among the Greeks the sophists, then among
the Christians the mystics, gnostics, scholastics, among the Hebrews the
Talmudists and Cabalists, and so on everywhere, down to our own times.

How fortunate it is for us that we live in so peculiar an age, when that
mental activity which calls itself science, not only does not err, but
finds itself, as we are assured, in a remarkably flourishing condition!
Does not this peculiar good fortune arise from the fact that man can not
and will not see his own hideousness?  Why is there nothing left of those
sciences, and sophists, and Cabalists, and Talmudists, but words, while
we are so exceptionally happy?  Surely the signs are identical.  There is
the same self-satisfaction and blind confidence that we, precisely we,
and only we, are on the right path, and that the real thing is only
beginning with us.  There is the same expectation that we shall discover
something remarkable; and that chief sign which leads us astray convicts
us of our error: all our wisdom remains with us, and the common people do
not understand, and do not accept, and do not need it.

Our position is a very difficult one, but why not look at it squarely?

It is time to recover our senses, and to scrutinize ourselves.  Surely we
are nothing else than the scribes and Pharisees, who sit in Moses' seat,
and who have taken the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and will neither go
in ourselves, nor permit others to go in.  Surely we, the high priests of
science and art, are ourselves worthless deceivers, possessing much less
right to our position than the most crafty and depraved priests.  Surely
we have no justification for our privileged position.  The priests had a
right to their position: they declared that they taught the people life
and salvation.  But we have taken their place, and we do not instruct the
people in life,--we even admit that such instruction is unnecessary,--but
we educate our children in the same Talmudic-Greek and Latin grammar, in
order that they may be able to pursue the same life of parasites which we
lead ourselves.  We say, "There used to be castes, but there are none
among us."  But what does it mean, that some people and their children
toil, while other people and their children do not toil?

Bring hither an Indian ignorant of our language, and show him European
life, and our life, for several generations, and he will recognize the
same leading, well-defined castes--of laborers and non-laborers--as there
are in his own country.  And as in his land, so in ours, the right of
refusing to labor is conferred by a peculiar consecration, which we call
science and art, or, in general terms, culture.  It is this culture, and
all the distortions of sense connected with it, which have brought us to
that marvellous madness, in consequence of which we do not see that which
is so clear and indubitable.


Then, what is to be done?  What are we to do?

This question, which includes within itself both an admission that our
life is evil and wrong, and in connection with this,--as though it were
an exercise for it,--that it is impossible, nevertheless, to change it,
this question I have heard, and I continue to hear, on all sides.  I have
described my own sufferings, my own gropings, and my own solution of this
question.  I am the same kind of a man as everybody else; and if I am in
any wise distinguished from the average man of our circle, it is chiefly
in this respect, that I, more than the average man, have served and
winked at the false doctrine of our world; I have received more
approbation from men professing the prevailing doctrine: and therefore,
more than others, have I become depraved, and wandered from the path.  And
therefore I think that the solution of the problem, which I have found in
my own case, will be applicable to all sincere people who are propounding
the same question to themselves.

First of all, in answer to the question, "What is to be done?" I told
myself: "I must lie neither to other people nor to myself.  I must not
fear the truth, whithersoever it may lead me."

We all know what it means to lie to other people, but we are not afraid
to lie to ourselves; yet the very worst downright lie, to other people,
is not to be compared in its consequences with the lie to ourselves, upon
which we base our whole life.

This is the lie of which we must not be guilty if we are to be in a
position to answer the question: "What is to be done?"  And, in fact, how
am I to answer the question, "What is to be done?" when every thing that
I do, when my whole life, is founded on a lie, and when I carefully
parade this lie as the truth before others and before myself?  Not to
lie, in this sense, means not to fear the truth, not to devise
subterfuges, and not to accept the subterfuges devised by others for the
purpose of hiding from myself the deductions of my reason and my
conscience; not to fear to part company with all those who surround me,
and to remain alone in company with reason and conscience; not to fear
that position to which the truth shall lead me, being firmly convinced
that that position to which truth and conscience shall conduct me,
however singular it may be, cannot be worse than the one which is founded
on a lie.  Not to lie, in our position of privileged persons of mental
labor, means, not to be afraid to reckon one's self up wrongly.  It is
possible that you are already so deeply indebted that you cannot take
stock of yourself; but to whatever extent this may be the case, however
long may be the account, however far you have strayed from the path, it
is still better than to continue therein.  A lie to other people is not
alone unprofitable; every matter is settled more directly and more
speedily by the truth than by a lie.  A lie to others only entangles
matters, and delays the settlement; but a lie to one's self, set forth as
the truth, ruins a man's whole life.  If a man, having entered on the
wrong path, assumes that it is the true one, then every step that he
takes on that path removes him farther from his goal.  If a man who has
long been travelling on this false path divines for himself, or is
informed by some one, that his course is a mistaken one, but grows
alarmed at the idea that he has wandered very far astray and tries to
convince himself that he may, possibly, still strike into the right road,
then he never will get into it.  If a man quails before the truth, and,
on perceiving it, does not accept it, but does accept a lie for the
truth, then he never will learn what he ought to do.  We, the not only
wealthy, but privileged and so-called cultivated persons, have advanced
so far on the wrong road, that a great deal of determination, or a very
great deal of suffering on the wrong road, is required, in order to bring
us to our senses and to the acknowledgment of the lie in which we are
living.  I have perceived the lie of our lives, thanks to the sufferings
which the false path entailed upon me, and, having recognized the
falseness of this path on which I stood, I have had the boldness to go at
first in thought only--whither reason and conscience led me, without
reflecting where they would bring me out.  And I have been rewarded for
this boldness.

All the complicated, broken, tangled, and incoherent phenomena of life
surrounding me, have suddenly become clear; and my position in the midst
of these phenomena, which was formerly strange and burdensome, has
become, all at once, natural, and easy to bear.

In this new position, my activity was defined with perfect accuracy; not
at all as it had previously presented itself to me, but as a new and much
more peaceful, loving, and joyous activity.  The very thing which had
formerly terrified me, now began to attract me.  Hence I think, that the
man who will honestly put to himself the question, "What is to be done?"
and, replying to this query, will not lie to himself, but will go whither
his reason leads, has already solved the problem.

There is only one thing that can hinder him in his search for an
issue,--an erroneously lofty idea of himself and of his position.  This
was the case with me; and then another, arising from the first answer to
the question: "What is to be done?" consisted for me in this, that it was
necessary for me to repent, in the full sense of that word,--i.e., to
entirely alter my conception of my position and my activity; to confess
the hurtfulness and emptiness of my activity, instead of its utility and
gravity; to confess my own ignorance instead of culture; to confess my
immorality and harshness in the place of my kindness and morality;
instead of my elevation, to acknowledge my lowliness.  I say, that in
addition to not lying to myself, I had to repent, because, although the
one flows from the other, a false conception of my lofty importance had
so grown up with me, that, until I sincerely repented and cut myself free
from that false estimate which I had formed of myself, I did not perceive
the greater part of the lie of which I had been guilty to myself.  Only
when I had repented, that is to say, when I had ceased to look upon
myself as a regular man, and had begun to regard myself as a man exactly
like every one else,--only then did my path become clear before me.
Before that time I had not been able to answer the question: "What is to
be done?" because I had stated the question itself wrongly.

As long as I did not repent, I put the question thus: "What sphere of
activity should I choose, I, the man who has received the education and
the talents which have fallen to my shame?  How, in this fashion, make
recompense with that education and those talents, for what I have taken,
and for what I still take, from the people?"  This question was wrong,
because it contained a false representation, to the effect that I was not
a man just like them, but a peculiar man called to serve the people with
those talents and with that education which I had won by the efforts of
forty years.

I propounded the query to myself; but, in reality, I had answered it in
advance, in that I had in advance defined the sort of activity which was
agreeable to me, and by which I was called upon to serve the people.  I
had, in fact, asked myself: "In what manner could I, so very fine a
writer, who had acquired so much learning and talents, make use of them
for the benefit of the people?"

But the question should have been put as it would have stood for a
learned rabbi who had gone through the course of the Talmud, and had
learned by heart the number of letters in all the holy books, and all the
fine points of his art.  The question for me, as for the rabbi, should
stand thus: "What am I, who have spent, owing to the misfortune of my
surroundings, the year's best fitted for study in the acquisition of
grammar, geography, judicial science, poetry, novels and romances, the
French language, pianoforte playing, philosophical theories, and military
exercises, instead of inuring myself to labor; what am I, who have passed
the best years of my life in idle occupations which are corrupting to the
soul,--what am I to do in defiance of these unfortunate conditions of the
past, in order that I may requite those people who during the whole time
have fed and clothed, yes, and who even now continue to feed and clothe
me?"  Had the question then stood as it stands before me now, after I
have repented,--"What am I, so corrupt a man, to do?" the answer would
have been easy: "To strive, first of all, to support myself honestly;
that is, to learn not to live upon others; and while I am learning, and
when I have learned this, to render aid on all possible occasions to the
people, with my hands, and my feet, and my brain, and my heart, and with
every thing to which the people should present a claim."

And therefore I say, that for the man of our circle, in addition to not
lying to himself or to others, repentance is also necessary, and that he
should scrape from himself that pride which has sprung up in us, in our
culture, in our refinements, in our talents; and that he should confess
that he is not a benefactor of the people and a distinguished man, who
does not refuse to share with the people his useful acquirements, but
that he should confess himself to be a thoroughly guilty, corrupt, and
good-for-nothing man, who desires to reform himself and not to behave
benevolently towards the people, but simply to cease wounding and
insulting them.

I often hear the questions of good young men who sympathize with the
renunciatory part of my writings, and who ask, "Well, and what then shall
I do?  What am I to do, now that I have finished my course in the
university, or in some other institution, in order that I may be of use?"
Young men ask this, and in the depths of their soul it is already decided
that the education which they have received constitutes their privilege
and that they desire to serve the people precisely by means of thus
superiority.  And hence, one thing which they will in no wise do, is to
bear themselves honestly and critically towards that which they call
their culture, and ask themselves, are those qualities which they call
their culture good or bad?  If they will do this, they will infallibly be
led to see the necessity of renouncing their culture, and the necessity
of beginning to learn all over again; and this is the one indispensable
thing.  They can in no wise solve the problem, "What to do?" because this
question does not stand before them as it should stand.  The question
must stand thus: "In what manner am I, a helpless, useless man, who,
owing to the misfortune of my conditions, have wasted my best years of
study in conning the scientific Talmud which corrupts soul and body, to
correct this mistake, and learn to serve the people?"  But it presents
itself to them thus: "How am I, a man who has acquired so much very fine
learning, to turn this very fine learning to the use of the people?"  And
such a man will never answer the question, "What is to be done?" until he
repents.  And repentance is not terrible, just as truth is not terrible,
and it is equally joyful and fruitful.  It is only necessary to accept
the truth wholly, and to repent wholly, in order to understand that no
one possesses any rights, privileges, or peculiarities in the matter of
this life of ours, but that there are no ends or bounds to obligation,
and that a man's first and most indubitable duty is to take part in the
struggle with nature for his own life and for the lives of others.

And this confession of a man's obligation constitutes the gist of the
third answer to the question, "What is to be done?"

I tried not to lie to myself: I tried to cast out from myself the remains
of my false conceptions of the importance of my education and talents,
and to repent; but on the way to a decision of the question, "What to
do?" a fresh difficulty arose.  There are so many different occupations,
that an indication was necessary as to the precise one which was to be
adopted.  And the answer to this question was furnished me by sincere
repentance for the evil in which I had lived.

"What to do?  Precisely what to do?" all ask, and that is what I also
asked so long as, under the influence of my exalted idea of any own
importance, I did not perceive that my first and unquestionable duty was
to feed myself, to clothe myself, to furnish my own fuel, to do my own
building, and, by so doing, to serve others, because, ever since the
would has existed, the first and indubitable duty of every man has
consisted and does consist in this.

In fact, no matter what a man may have assumed to be his
vocation,--whether it be to govern people, to defend his
fellow-countrymen, to divine service, to instruct others, to invent means
to heighten the pleasures of life, to discover the laws of the world, to
incorporate eternal truths in artistic representations,--the duty of a
reasonable man is to take part in the struggle with nature, for the
sustenance of his own life and of that of others.  This obligation is the
first of all, because what people need most of all is their life; and
therefore, in order to defend and instruct the people, and render their
lives more agreeable, it is requisite to preserve that life itself, while
my refusal to share in the struggle, my monopoly of the labors of others,
is equivalent to annihilation of the lives of others.  And, therefore, it
is not rational to serve the lives of men by annihilating the lives of
men; and it is impossible to say that I am serving men, when, by my life,
I am obviously injuring them.

A man's obligation to struggle with nature for the acquisition of the
means of livelihood will always be the first and most unquestionable of
all obligations, because this obligation is a law of life, departure from
which entails the inevitable punishment of either bodily or mental
annihilation of the life of man.  If a man living alone excuses himself
from the obligation of struggling with nature, he is immediately
punished, in that his body perishes.  But if a man excuses himself from
this obligation by making other people fulfil it for him, then also he is
immediately punished by the annihilation of his mental life; that is to
say, of the life which possesses rational thought.

In this one act, man receives--if the two things are to be separated--full
satisfaction of the bodily and spiritual demands of his nature.  The
feeding, clothing, and taking care of himself and his family, constitute
the satisfaction of the bodily demands and requirements; and doing the
same for other people, constitutes the satisfaction of his spiritual
requirements.  Every other employment of man is only legal when it is
directed to the satisfaction of this very first duty of man; for the
fulfilment of this duty constitutes the whole life of man.

I had been so turned about by my previous life, this first and
indubitable law of God or of nature is so concealed in our sphere of
society, that the fulfilment of this law seemed to me strange, terrible,
even shameful; as though the fulfilment of an eternal, unquestionable
law, and not the departure from it, can be terrible, strange, and

At first it seemed to me that the fulfilment of this matter required some
preparation, arrangement or community of men, holding similar views,--the
consent of one's family, life in the country; it seemed to me disgraceful
to make a show of myself before people, to undertake a thing so improper
in our conditions of existence, as bodily toil, and I did not know how to
set about it.  But it was only necessary for me to understand that this
is no exclusive occupation which requires to be invented and arranged
for, but that this employment was merely a return from the false position
in which I found myself, to a natural one; was only a rectification of
that lie in which I was living.  I had only to recognize this fact, and
all these difficulties vanished.  It was not in the least necessary to
make preparations and arrangements, and to await the consent of others,
for, no matter in what position I had found myself, there had always been
people who had fed, clothed and warmed me, in addition to themselves; and
everywhere, under all conditions, I could do the same for myself and for
them, if I had the time and the strength.  Neither could I experience
false shame in an unwonted occupation, no matter how surprising it might
be to people, because, through not doing it, I had already experienced
not false but real shame.

And when I had reached this confession and the practical deduction from
it, I was fully rewarded for not having quailed before the deductions of
reason, and for following whither they led me.  On arriving at this
practical deduction, I was amazed at the ease and simplicity with which
all the problems which had previously seemed to me so difficult and so
complicated, were solved.

To the question, "What is it necessary to do?" the most indubitable
answer presented itself: first of all, that which it was necessary for me
to do was, to attend to my own samovar, my own stove, my own water, my
own clothing; to every thing that I could do for myself.  To the
question, "Will it not seem strange to people if you do this?" it
appeared that this strangeness lasted only a week, and after the lapse of
that week, it would have seemed strange had I returned to my former
conditions of life.  With regard to the question, "Is it necessary to
organize this physical labor, to institute an association in the country,
on my land?" it appeared that nothing of the sort was necessary; that
labor, if it does not aim at the acquisition of all possible leisure, and
the enjoyment of the labor of others,--like the labor of people bent on
accumulating money,--but if it have for its object the satisfaction of
requirements, will itself be drawn from the city to the country, to the
land, where this labor is the most fruitful and cheerful.  But it is not
requisite to institute any association, because the man who labors,
naturally and of himself, attaches himself to the existing association of
laboring men.

To the question, whether this labor would not monopolize all my time, and
deprive me of those intellectual pursuits which I love, to which I am
accustomed, and which, in my moments of self-conceit, I regard as not
useless to others? I received a most unexpected reply.  The energy of my
intellectual activity increased, and increased in exact proportion with
bodily application, while freeing itself from every thing superfluous.  It
appeared that by dedicating to physical toil eight hours, that half of
the day which I had formerly passed in the oppressive state of a struggle
with _ennui_, eight hours remained to me, of which only five of
intellectual activity, according to my terms, were necessary to me.  For
it appeared, that if I, a very voluminous writer, who had done nothing
for nearly forty years except write, and who had written three hundred
printed sheets;--if I had worked during all those forty years at ordinary
labor with the working-people, then, not reckoning winter evenings and
leisure days, if I had read and studied for five hours every day, and had
written a couple of pages only on holidays (and I have been in the habit
of writing at the rate of one printed sheet a day), then I should have
written those three hundred sheets in fourteen years.  The fact seemed
startling: yet it is the most simple arithmetical calculation, which can
be made by a seven-year-old boy, but which I had not been able to make up
to this time.  There are twenty-four hours in the day; if we take away
eight hours, sixteen remain.  If any man engaged in intellectual
occupations devote five hours every day to his occupation, he will
accomplish a fearful amount.  And what is to be done with the remaining
eleven hours?

It proved that physical labor not only does not exclude the possibility
of mental activity, but that it improves its quality, and encourages it.

In answer to the question, whether this physical toil does not deprive me
of many innocent pleasures peculiar to man, such as the enjoyment of the
arts, the acquisition of learning, intercourse with people, and the
delights of life in general, it turned out exactly the reverse: the more
intense the labor, the more nearly it approached what is considered the
coarsest agricultural toil, the more enjoyment and knowledge did I gain,
and the more did I come into close and loving communion with men, and the
more happiness did I derive from life.

In answer to the question (which I have so often heard from persons not
thoroughly sincere), as to what result could flow from so insignificant a
drop in the sea of sympathy as my individual physical labor in the sea of
labor ingulfing me, I received also the most satisfactory and unexpected
of answers.  It appeared that all I had to do was to make physical labor
the habitual condition of my life, and the majority of my false, but
precious, habits and my demands, when physically idle, fell away from me
at once of their own accord, without the slightest exertion on my part.
Not to mention the habit of turning day into night and _vice versa_, my
habits connected with my bed, with my clothing, with conventional
cleanliness,--which are downright impossible and oppressive with physical
labor,--and my demands as to the quality of my food, were entirely
changed.  In place of the dainty, rich, refined, complicated,
highly-spiced food, to which I had formerly inclined, the most simple
viands became needful and most pleasing of all to me,--cabbage-soup,
porridge, black bread, and tea _v prikusku_. {238}  So that, not to
mention the influence upon me of the example of the simple
working-people, who are content with little, with whom I came in contact
in the course of my bodily toil, my very requirements underwent a change
in consequence of my toilsome life; so that my drop of physical labor in
the sea of universal labor became larger and larger, in proportion as I
accustomed myself to, and appropriated, the habits of the laboring
classes; in proportion, also, to the success of my labor, my demands for
labor from others grew less and less, and my life naturally, without
exertion or privations, approached that simple existence of which I could
not even dream without fulfilling the law of labor.

It proved that my dearest demands from life, namely, my demands for
vanity, and diversion from _ennui_, arose directly from my idle life.
There was no place for vanity, in connection with physical labor; and no
diversions were needed, since my time was pleasantly occupied, and, after
my fatigue, simple rest at tea over a book, or in conversation with my
fellows, was incomparably more agreeable than theatres, cards, conceits,
or a large company,--all which things are needed in physical idleness,
and which cost a great deal.

In answer to the question, Would not this unaccustomed toil ruin that
health which is indispensable in order to render service to the people
possible? it appeared, in spite of the positive assertions of noted
physicians, that physical exertion, especially at my age, might have the
most injurious consequences (but that Swedish gymnastics, the massage
treatment, and so on, and other expedients intended to take the place of
the natural conditions of man's life, were better), that the more intense
the toil, the stronger, more alert, more cheerful, and more kindly did I
feel.  Thus it undoubtedly appeared, that, just as all those cunning
devices of the human mind, newspapers, theatres, concerts, visits, balls,
cards, journals, romances, are nothing else than expedients for
maintaining the spiritual life of man outside his natural conditions of
labor for others,--just so all the hygienic and medical devices of the
human mind for the preparation of food, drink, lodging, ventilation,
heating, clothing, medicine, water, massage, gymnastics, electric, and
other means of healing,--all these clever devices are merely an expedient
to sustain the bodily life of man removed from its natural conditions of
labor.  It turned out that all these devices of the human mind for the
agreeable arrangement of the physical existence of idle persons are
precisely analogous to those artful contrivances which people might
invent for the production in vessels hermetically sealed, by means of
mechanical arrangements, of evaporation, and plants, of the air best
fitted for breathing, when all that is needed is to open the window.  All
the inventions of medicine and hygiene for persons of our sphere are much
the same as though a mechanic should hit upon the idea of heating a steam-
boiler which was not working, and should shut all the valves so that the
boiler should not burst.  Only one thing is needed, instead of all these
extremely complicated devices for pleasure, for comfort, and for medical
and hygienic preparations, intended to save people from their spiritual
and bodily ailments, which swallow up so much labor,--to fulfil the law
of life; to do that which is proper not only to man, but to the animal;
to fire off the charge of energy taken win in the shape of food, by
muscular exertion; to speak in plain language, to earn one's bread.  Those
who do not work should not eat, or they should earn as much as they have

And when I clearly comprehended all this, it struck me as ridiculous.
Through a whole series of doubts and searchings, I had arrived, by a long
course of thought, at this remarkable truth: if a man has eyes, it is
that he may see with them; if he has ears, that he may hear; and feet,
that he may walk; and hands and back, that he may labor; and that if a
man will not employ those members for that purpose for which they are
intended, it will be the worse for him.

I came to this conclusion, that, with us privileged people, the same
thing has happened which happened with the horses of a friend of mine.
His steward, who was not a lover of horses, nor well versed in them, on
receiving his master's orders to place the best horses in the stable,
selected them from the stud, placed them in stalls, and fed and watered
them; but fearing for the valuable steeds, he could not bring himself to
trust them to any one, and he neither rode nor drove them, nor did he
even take them out.  The horses stood there until they were good for
nothing.  The same thing has happened with us, but with this difference:
that it was impossible to deceive the horses in any way, and they were
kept in bonds to prevent their getting out; but we are kept in an
unnatural position that is equally injurious to us, by deceits which have
entangled us, and which hold us like chains.

We have arranged for ourselves a life that is repugnant both to the moral
and the physical nature of man, and all the powers of our intelligence we
concentrate upon assuring man that this is the most natural life
possible.  Every thing which we call culture,--our sciences, art, and the
perfection of the pleasant thing's of life,--all these are attempts to
deceive the moral requirements of man; every thing that is called hygiene
and medicine, is an attempt to deceive the natural physical demands of
human nature.  But these deceits have their bounds, and we advance to
them.  "If such be the real human life, then it is better not to live at
all," says the reigning and extremely fashionable philosophy of
Schopenhauer and Hartmann.  If such is life, 'tis better for the coming
generation not to live," say corrupt medical science and its newly
devised means to that end.

In the Bible, it is laid down as the law of man: "In the sweat of thy
face shalt thou eat bread, and in sorrow thou shalt bring forth
children;" but "_nous avons change tout ca_," as Moliere's character
says, when expressing himself with regard to medicine, and asserting that
the liver was on the left side.  We have changed all that.  Men need not
work in order to eat, and women need not bear children.

A ragged peasant roams the Krapivensky district.  During the war he was
an agent for the purchase of grain, under an official of the commissary
department.  On being brought in contact with the official, and seeing
his luxurious life, the peasant lost his mind, and thought that he might
get along without work, like gentlemen, and receive proper support from
the Emperor.  This peasant now calls himself "the Most Serene Warrior,
Prince Blokhin, purveyor of war supplies of all descriptions."  He says
of himself that he has "passed through all the ranks," and that when he
shall have served out his term in the army, he is to receive from the
Emperor an unlimited bank account, clothes, uniforms, horses, equipages,
tea, pease and servants, and all sorts of luxuries.  This man is
ridiculous in the eyes of many, but to me the significance of his madness
is terrible.  To the question, whether he does not wish to work, he
always replies proudly: "I am much obliged.  The peasants will attend to
all that."  When you tell him that the peasants do not wish to work,
either, he answers: "It is not difficult for the peasant."

He generally talks in a high-flown style, and is fond of verbal
substantives.  "Now there is an invention of machinery for the
alleviation of the peasants," he says; "there is no difficulty for them
in that."  When he is asked what he lives for, he replies, "To pass the
time."  I always look on this man as on a mirror.  I behold in him myself
and all my class.  To pass through all the ranks (_tchini_) in order to
live for the purpose of passing the time, and to receive an unlimited
bank account, while the peasants, for whom this is not difficult, because
of the invention of machinery, do the whole business,--this is the
complete formula of the idiotic creed of the people of our sphere in

When we inquire precisely what we are to do, surely, we ask nothing, but
merely assert--only not in such good faith as the Most Serene Prince
Blokhin, who has been promoted through all ranks, and lost his mind--that
we do not wish to do any thing.

He who will reflect for a moment cannot ask thus, because, on the one
hand, every thing that he uses has been made, and is made, by the hands
of men; and, on the other side, as soon as a healthy man has awakened and
eaten, the necessity of working with feet and hands and brain makes
itself felt.  In order to find work and to work, he need only not hold
back: only a person who thinks work disgraceful--like the lady who
requests her guest not to take the trouble to open the door, but to wait
until she can call a man for this purpose--can put to himself the
question, what he is to do.

The point does not lie in inventing work,--you can never get through all
the work that is to be done for yourself and for others,--but the point
lies in weaning one's self from that criminal view of life in accordance
with which I eat and sleep for my own pleasure; and in appropriating to
myself that just and simple view with which the laboring man grows up and
lives,--that man is, first of all, a machine, which loads itself with
food in order to sustain itself, and that it is therefore disgraceful,
wrong, and impossible to eat and not to work; that to eat and not to work
is the most impious, unnatural, and, therefore, dangerous position, in
the nature of the sin of Sodom.  Only let this acknowledgement be made,
and there will be work; and work will always be joyous and satisfying to
both spiritual and bodily requirements.

The matter presented itself to me thus: The day is divided for every man,
by food itself, into four parts, or four stints, as the peasants call it:
(1) before breakfast; (2) from breakfast until dinner; (3) from dinner
until four o'clock; (4) from four o'clock until evening.

A man's employment, whatever it may be that he feels a need for in his
own person, is also divided into four categories: (1) the muscular
employment of power, labor of the hands, feet, shoulders, back,--hard
labor, from which you sweat; (2) the employment of the fingers and
wrists, the employment of artisan skill; (3) the employment of the mind
and imagination; (4) the employment of intercourse with others.

The benefits which man enjoys are also divided into four categories.
Every man enjoys, in the first place, the product of hard labor,--grain,
cattle, buildings, wells, ponds, and so forth; in the second place, the
results of artisan toil,--clothes, boots, utensils, and so forth; in the
third place, the products of mental activity,--science, art; and, in the
forth place, established intercourse between people.

And it struck me, that the best thing of all would be to arrange the
occupations of the day in such a manner as to exercise all four of man's
capacities, and myself produce all these four sorts of benefits which men
make use of, so that one portion of the day, the first, should be
dedicated to hard labor; the second, to intellectual labor; the third, to
artisan labor; and the forth, to intercourse with people.  It struck me,
that only then would that false division of labor, which exists in our
society, be abrogated, and that just division of labor established, which
does not destroy man's happiness.

I, for example, have busied myself all my life with intellectual labor.  I
said to myself, that I had so divided labor, that writing, that is to
say, intellectual labor, is my special employment, and the other matters
which were necessary to me I had left free (or relegated, rather) to
others.  But this, which would appear to have been the most advantageous
arrangement for intellectual toil, was precisely the most disadvantageous
to mental labor, not to mention its injustice.

All my life long, I have regulated my whole life, food, sleep, diversion,
in view of these hours of special labor, and I have done nothing except
this work.  The result of this has been, in the first place, that I have
contracted my sphere of observations and knowledge, and have frequently
had no means for the study even of problems which often presented
themselves in describing the life of the people (for the life of the
common people is the every-day problem of intellectual activity).  I was
conscious of my ignorance, and was obliged to obtain instruction, to ask
about things which are known by every man not engaged in special labor.
In the second place, the result was, that I had been in the habit of
sitting down to write when I had no inward impulse to write, and when no
one demanded from me writing, as writing, that is to say, my thoughts,
but when my name was merely wanted for journalistic speculation.  I tried
to squeeze out of myself what I could.  Sometimes I could extract
nothing; sometimes it was very wretched stuff, and I was dissatisfied and
grieved.  But now that I have learned the indispensability of physical
labor, both hard and artisan labor, the result is entirely different.  My
time has been occupied, however modestly, at least usefully and
cheerfully, and in a manner instructive to me.  And therefore I have torn
myself from that indubitably useful and cheerful occupation for my
special duties only when I felt an inward impulse, and when I saw a
demand made upon me directly for my literary work.

And these demands called into play only good nature, and therefore the
usefulness and the joy of my special labor.  Thus it turned out, that
employment in those physical labors which are indispensable to me, as
they are to every man, not only did not interfere with my special
activity, but was an indispensable condition of the usefulness, worth,
and cheerfulness of that activity.

The bird is so constructed, that it is indispensable that it should fly,
walk, peek, combine; and when it does all this, it is satisfied and
happy,--then it is a bird.  Just so man, when he walks, turns, raises,
drags, works with his fingers, with his eyes, with his ears, with his
tongue, with his brain,--only then is he satisfied, only then is he a

A man who acknowledges his appointment to labor will naturally strive
towards that rotation of labor which is peculiar to him, for the
satisfaction of his inward requirements; and he can alter this labor in
no other way than when he feels within himself an irresistible summons to
some exclusive form of labor, and when the demands of other men for that
labor are expressed.

The character of labor is such, that the satisfaction of all a man's
requirements demands that same succession of the sorts of work which
renders work not a burden but a joy.  Only a false creed, [Greek text
which cannot be reproduced], to the effect that labor is a curse, could
have led men to rid themselves of certain kinds of work; i.e., to the
appropriation of the work of others, demanding the forced occupation with
special labor of other people, which they call division of labor.

We have only grown used to our false comprehension of the regulation of
labor, because it seems to us that the shoemaker, the machinist, the
writer, or the musician will be better off if he gets rid of the labor
peculiar to man.  Where there is no force exercised over the labor of
others, or any false belief in the joy of idleness, not a single man will
get rid of physical labor, necessary for the satisfaction of his
requirements, for the sake of special work; because special work is not a
privilege, but a sacrifice which man offers to inward pressure and to his

The shoemaker in the country, who abandons his wonted labor in the field,
which is so grateful to him, and betakes himself to his trade, in order
to repair or make boots for his neighbors, always deprives himself of the
pleasant toil of the field, simply because he likes to make boots,
because he knows that no one else can do it so well as he, and that
people will be grateful to him for it; but the desire cannot occur to
him, to deprive himself, for the whole period of his life, of the
cheering rotation of labor.

It is the same with the _starosta_ [village elder], the machinist, the
writer, the learned man.  To us, with our corrupt conception of things,
it seems, that if a steward has been relegated to the position of a
peasant by his master, or if a minister has been sent to the colonies, he
has been chastised, he has been ill-treated.  But in reality a benefit
has been conferred on him; that is to say, his special, hard labor has
been changed into a cheerful rotation of labor.  In a naturally
constituted society, this is quite otherwise.  I know of one community
where the people supported themselves.  One of the members of this
society was better educated than the rest; and they called upon him to
read, so that he was obliged to prepare himself during the day, in order
that he might read in the evening.  This he did gladly, feeling that he
was useful to others, and that he was performing a good deed.  But he
grew weary of exclusively intellectual work, and his health suffered from
it.  The members of the community took pity on him, and requested him to
go to work in the fields.

For men who regard labor as the substance and the joy of life, the basis,
the foundation of life will always be the struggle with nature,--labor
both agricultural and mechanical, and intellectual, and the establishment
of communion between men.  Departure from one or from many of these
varieties of labor, and the adoption of special labor, will then only
occur when the man possessed of a special branch, and loving this work,
and knowing that he can perform it better than others, sacrifices his own
profit for the satisfaction of the direct demands made upon him.  Only on
condition of such a view of labor, and of the natural division of labor
arising from it, is that curse which is laid upon our idea of labor
abrogated, and does every sort of work becomes always a joy; because a
man will either perform that labor which is undoubtedly useful and
joyous, and not dull, or he will possess the consciousness of
self-abnegation in the fulfilment of more difficult and restricted toil,
which he exercises for the good of others.

But the division of labor is more profitable.  More profitable for whom?
It is more profitable in making the greatest possible quantity of calico,
and boots in the shortest possible time.  But who will make these boots
and this calico?  There are people who, for whole generations, make only
the heads of pins.  Then how can this be more profitable for men?  If the
point lies in manufacturing as much calico and as many pins as possible,
then this is so.  But the point concerns men and their welfare.  And the
welfare of men lies in life.  And life is work.  How, then, can the
necessity for burdensome, oppressive toil be more profitable for people?
For all men, that one thing is more profitable which I desire for
myself,--the utmost well-being, and the gratification of all those
requirements, both bodily and spiritual, of the conscience and of the
reason, which are imposed upon me.  And in my own case I have found, that
for my own welfare, and for the satisfaction of these needs of mine, all
that I require is to cure myself of that folly in which I had been
living, in company with the Krapivensky madman, and which consisted in
presupposing that some people need not work, and that certain other
people should direct all this, and that I should therefore do only that
which is natural to man, i.e., labor for the satisfaction of their
requirements; and, having discovered this, I convinced myself that labor
for the satisfaction of one's own needs falls of itself into various
kinds of labor, each one of which possesses its own charm, and which not
only do not constitute a burden, but which serve as a respite to one
another.  I have made a rough division of this labor (not insisting on
the justice of this arrangement), in accordance with my own needs in
life, into four parts, corresponding to the four stints of labor of which
the day is composed; and I seek in this manner to satisfy my

These, then, are the answers which I have found for myself to the
question, "What is to be done?"

_First_, Not to lie to myself, however far removed my path in life may be
from the true path which my reason discloses to me.

_Second_, To renounce my consciousness of my own righteousness, my
superiority especially over other people; and to acknowledge my guilt.

_Third_, To comply with that eternal and indubitable law of humanity,--the
labor of my whole being, feeling no shame at any sort of work; to contend
with nature for the maintenance of my own life and the lives of others.


{169}  An omission by the censor, which I am unable to supply.  TRANS.

{178}  We designate as organisms the elephant and the bacterian, only
because we assume by analogy in those creatures the same conjunction of
feeling and consciousness that we know to exist in ourselves.  But in
human societies and in humanity, this actual sign is absent; and
therefore, however many other signs we may discover in humanity and in
organism, without this substantial token the recognition of humanity as
an organism is incorrect.

{238}  _v prikusku_, when a lump of sugar is held in the teeth instead or
being put into the tea.

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