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Title: What Shall We Do?
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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=The Free Age Press= is an earnest effort to spread those deep
convictions in which the noblest spirits of every age and race have
believed--that man's true aim and happiness is "unity in reason and
love"; the realisation of the brotherhood of all men: that we must all
strive to eradicate, each from himself, those false ideas, false
feelings, and false desires--personal, social, religious,
economic--which alienate us one from another and produce nine-tenths of
all human suffering.

Of these truly Christian and universally religious aspirations the
writings of Leo Tolstoy are to-day perhaps the most definite expression,
and it is to the production of very cheap editions of his extant
religious, social and ethical works, together with much unpublished
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close touch with Tolstoy), that we are at present confining ourselves.
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and will be issued free of copyright and may be reprinted by anyone. We
have already commenced to collect all Tolstoy's essays into more
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Suggestions, inquiries, offers of help and co-operation will be
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received already, we are very grateful, and tender our hearty thanks.

Orders and commercial communications should be addressed to "=The Free
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    THOMAS LAURIE, _Publisher_.

  Revised and Corrected Translation



  Edited by A.C.F.
  and I.F.M.



Uniform with this Volume.--

"=What is Religion?=" An entirely New Book just completed. By LEO
TOLSTOY. With several new and recent Letters, Articles, and Appeals.
Paper, 6d. nett.; post free, 7½d. Flexible cloth, gilt, gilt top, 1s.
nett.; post free, 1s. 2d. Leather, gilt, gilt top, 2s. nett.; post free,
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=What I Believe= ("MY RELIGION") By LEO TOLSTOY. Revised Translation.
224 pages. Same prices as _What is Religion?_

"=On Life.=" By LEO TOLSTOY. A New Translation of this little-known
book--"a book which is of especial value as a key to Tolstoy's method
and belief" (Mr. H. W. Massingham). Same prices.

=The Kingdom of God is Within You.=

We hope eventually to issue the whole of Tolstoy's writings since 1878
in volumes uniform with this book.


    "And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

    "He answereth and said unto them, He that hath two coats, let him
    impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do
    likewise." (Luke iii. 10, 11.)

    "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust
    doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

    "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth
    nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor

    "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    "The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be
    single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

    "But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.
    If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is
    your darkness?

    "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and
    love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the
    other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye
    shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye
    shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than
    raiment?" (Matt. vi. 19-25.)

    "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What
    shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

    "(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek): for your
    heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

    "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and
    all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. vi. 31-33.)

    "For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for
    a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Luke xviii. 25.)


After having passed the greater part of my life in the country, I came
at length, in the year 1881, to reside in Moscow, where I was
immediately struck with the extreme state of pauperism in that city.
Though well acquainted with the privations of the poor in rural
districts, I had not the faintest conception of their actual condition
in towns.

In Moscow it is impossible to pass a street without meeting beggars of a
peculiar kind, quite unlike those in the country, who go about there, as
the saying is, "with a bag and the name of Christ."

The Moscow beggars neither carry a bag nor ask for alms. In most cases
when they meet you, they try to catch your eye, and then act according
to the expression of your face.

I know of one such, a bankrupt gentleman. He is an old man who advances
slowly, limping painfully with each leg. When he meets you, he limps,
and makes a bow. If you stop, he takes off his cap, ornamented with a
cockade, bows again, and begs. If you do not stop, he pretends to be
only lame, and continues limping along.

That is a specimen of a genuine Moscow beggar, an experienced one.

At first I did not know why such mendicants did not ask openly; but
afterwards I learned why, without understanding the reason.

One day I saw a policeman push a ragged peasant swollen with dropsy,
into a cab. I asked what he had been doing, and the policeman replied,--


"Is begging, then, forbidden?"

"So it seems," he answered. As the man was being driven away, I took
another cab, and followed. I wished to find out whether begging was
really forbidden, and if so, why? I could not at all understand how it
was possible to forbid one man asking something from another; and,
moreover, I had my doubts whether it could be illegal in a city where it
flourished to such an extent.

I entered the police-station where the pauper had been taken, and asked
an official armed with sword and pistol, and seated at a table, what he
had been arrested for.

The man looked up at me sharply, and said, "What business is that of

However, feeling the necessity of some explanation, he added, "The
authorities order such fellows to be arrested, so I suppose it is

I went away. The policeman who had brought the man was sitting in the
window of the ante-room, studying his note-book. I said to him,--

"Is it really true that poor people are not allowed to ask for alms in
Christ's name?"

The man started, as if waking up from a sleep, stared at me, then
relapsed again into a state of stolid indifference, and, reseating
himself on the window-sill, said,--

"The authorities require it, so you see it is necessary."

As he became again absorbed in his note-book, I went down the steps
towards my cab.

"Well! have they locked him up?" asked the cabman. He had evidently
become interested in the matter.

"They have," I answered. He shook his head.

"Is begging forbidden in Moscow, then?" I asked.

"I can't tell you," he said.

"But how can a man be locked up," I said, "for begging in the name of

"Nowadays things have changed, and you see it is forbidden," he

Since then, I have often seen policemen taking paupers to the
police-station and thence to the work-house. Indeed, I once met a whole
crowd of these poor creatures, about thirty, escorted before and behind
by policemen. I asked what they had been doing.

"Begging," was the reply.

It appears that, according to law, begging is forbidden in Moscow,
notwithstanding the great number of beggars one meets there in every
street, notwithstanding the rows of them near the churches during
service-time, and especially at funerals. But why are some caught and
locked up, while others are let alone? This I have not been able to find
out. Either there are lawful and unlawful beggars amongst them, or else
there are so many that it is impossible to catch them all; or, perhaps,
though some are taken up, others fill their places.

There is a great variety of such beggars in Moscow. There are those who
live by begging. There are also entirely honest destitute people who
have somehow chanced to reach Moscow and are really in extreme need.

Amongst the latter are men and women evidently from the country. I have
often met these. Some of them, who had fallen ill and afterwards
recovered and left the hospital, could now find no means, either of
feeding themselves, or of getting away from Moscow; some of them,
besides, had taken to drink (this was probably the case with the man
with dropsy whom I met); some were in good health, but had been burned
out of house and home, or else were very old, or were widowed or
deserted women with children; and some others had sound health, and were
quite capable of working.

These robust people especially interested me,--the more so, because,
since my arrival in Moscow, I had contracted the habit of going to the
Sparrow Hills for the sake of exercise, and working there with two
peasants who sawed wood. These men were exactly like the beggars whom I
often met in the streets. One, called Peter, was an ex-soldier from
Kaluga; the other, Simon, was from Vladímir. They possessed nothing save
the clothes on their backs: and they earned, by working very hard, from
forty to forty-five kopeks (8d. to 9d.) a day; out of this they both put
a little aside,--the Kaluga soldier, to buy a fur coat; the Vladímir
peasant, to get money enough to return to his home in the country.

Meeting in the streets similar men, I was therefore particularly
interested in them, and could not understand why some begged whilst
others worked.

Whenever I met a beggar of this description, I used to ask him how it
was that he had come to such a state. Once I met a strong,
healthy-looking peasant who asked alms. I questioned him as to who he
was, and whence he had come.

He told me he had come from Kaluga, in search of work. He had at first
found some, such as sawing old timber into fire-wood; but after he and
his companion had finished that job, though they had continually looked
for it, they had not found any more work, his mate had left him, and he
himself had passed a fortnight in the utmost need, and having sold all
he had to get food, now had not enough even to buy the necessary tools
for sawing.

I gave him money to get a saw, and told him where to go for work. I had
previously arranged with Peter and Simon that they should accept a new
fellow-worker, and find him a mate.

"Be sure you come! There is plenty of work to be done," I said on

"You can reckon on me," he answered. "Do you think there is any pleasure
in knocking about, begging, if I can work?"

The man solemnly promised that he would come; and he seemed honest, and
really meaning to work.

Next day, on coming to my friends, Peter and Simon, I asked them whether
the man had arrived. They said he had not; and, indeed, he never came at
all. In this way I was frequently deceived.

I have also been deceived by those who said that they only wanted a
little money to buy a ticket to return home, and whom I met in the
streets again a few days later. Many of them I came to know well, and
they knew me; though occasionally having forgotten me, they would repeat
the same false tale; but sometimes they would turn away on recognizing

In this way I discovered, that, even in this class of men, there are
many rogues.

Still, these poor rogues were also very much to be pitied: they were all
ragged and hungry; they were of the sort who die of cold in the streets,
or hang themselves to escape life, as the papers frequently tell us.


When I talked to my town friends about this pauperism which surrounded
them, they always replied, "Oh! you have seen nothing yet! You should go
to the Khitrof Market, and visit the lodging-houses there, if you want
to see the genuine 'Golden Company.'"

One jovial friend of mine added, that the number of these paupers had so
increased, that they already formed not a "Golden Company," but a
"Golden Regiment."

My witty friend was right; but he would have been yet nearer the truth
had he said that these men formed, in Moscow, not a company, nor a
regiment, but a whole army,--an army, I should judge, of about fifty

The regular townspeople, when they spoke to me about the pauperism of
the city, always seemed to feel a certain pleasure or pride in being
able to give me such precise information.

I remember I noticed, when visiting London, that the citizens there
seemed also to find a certain satisfaction in telling me about London
destitution, as though it were something to be proud of.

However, wishing to inspect this poverty about which I had heard so
much, I had turned my steps very often towards the Khitrof Market,--but
on each occasion I felt a sensation of pain and shame. "Why should you
go to look at the suffering of human beings whom you cannot help?" said
one voice within me. "If you live here, and see all that is pleasant in
town life, go and see also what is wretched," replied another.

And so, one cold, windy day in December, two years ago (1883), I went to
the Khitrof Market, the centre of the town pauperism.

It was on a week-day, about four in the afternoon. While still a good
distance off I noticed greater and greater numbers of men in strange
clothes,--evidently not originally meant for them,--and in yet stranger
foot-wear; men of a peculiar unhealthy complexion, and all apparently
showing a remarkable indifference to everything that surrounded them.

Men in the strangest, most incongruous costumes sauntered along,
evidently without the least thought as to how they might look in the
eyes of others. They were all going in the same direction. Without
asking the way, which was unknown to me, I followed them, and came to
the Khitrof Market.

There I found women likewise in ragged capes, rough cloaks, jackets,
boots, and goloshes. Perfectly free and easy in their manner,
notwithstanding the grotesque monstrosity of their attire, these women,
old and young, were sitting, bargaining, strolling about, and abusing
one another.

Market-time having evidently passed, there were not many people there;
and as most of them were going up-hill, through the market-place, and
all in the same direction, I followed them.

The farther I went, the greater became the stream of people flowing into
the one road. Having passed the market, and gone up the street, I found
that I was following two women, one old, the other young. Both were
clothed in some grey ragged stuff. They were talking, as they walked,
about some kind of business.

Every expression was unfailingly accompanied by some obscene word.
Neither was drunk, but each absorbed with her own affairs; and the
passing men, and those about them, paid not the slightest attention to
their language, which sounded so strange to me. It appeared to be the
generally accepted manner of speech in those parts. On the left we
passed some private night-lodging-houses, and some of the crowd entered
these; others continued to ascend the hill towards a large corner house.
The majority of the people walking along with me went into this house.
Before it, people all of the same sort were standing and sitting, on the
sidewalk and in the snow.

At the right of the entrance were women; at the left, men. I passed by
the men: I passed by the women (there were several hundreds in all), and
stopped where the crowd ceased.

This building was the "Liapin free night-lodging-house" ("doss-house").
The crowd was composed of night-lodgers, waiting to be let in. At five
o'clock in the evening this house is opened and the crowd admitted.
Hither came almost all the people whom I followed.

I remained standing where the file of men ended. Those nearest stared at
me till I had to look at them. The remnants of garments covering their
bodies were very various; but the one expression of the eyes of all
alike seemed to be, "Why are you, a man from another world, stopping
here with us? Who are you? Are you a self-satisfied man of wealth,
desiring to be gladdened by the sight of our need, to divert yourself in
your idleness, and to mock at us? or are you that which does not and can
not exist,--a man who pities us?"

On all their faces the same question was written. Each would look at me,
meet my eyes, and turn away again.

I wanted to speak to some of them, but for a long time I could not
summon up courage. However, eventually our mutual exchange of glances
introduced us to each other; and we felt that, however widely separated
might be our social positions in life, we were still fellow-men, and so
we ceased to be afraid of one another.

Next to me stood a peasant with a swollen face and red beard, in a
ragged jacket, with worn-out goloshes on his naked feet, though there
were eight degrees of frost.[1] For the third or fourth time our eyes
met; and I felt so drawn to him that I was no longer ashamed to address
him (to have refrained from doing so would have been the only real
shame), and I asked him where he came from.

  [1] Réaumur.

He answered eagerly, while a crowd began to collect round us, that he
had come from Smolensk in search of work, to be able to buy bread and
pay his taxes.

"There is no work to be had nowadays," he said: "the soldiers have got
hold of it all. So here am I knocking about; and God is my witness, I
have not had any thing to eat for two days."

He said this shyly, with an attempt at a smile. A seller[2] of warm
drinks, an old soldier, was standing near. I called him, and made him
pour out a glass. The peasant took the warm vessel in his hands, and,
before drinking, warmed them against the glass, trying not to lose any
of the precious heat; and whilst doing this he related to me his story.

  [2] A sbiten-seller: _sbiten_ is a hot drink made of herbs or spices
  and molasses

The adventures of these people, or at least the stories which they tell,
are almost always the same: He had had a little work; then it had
ceased: and here, in the night-lodging-house, his purse, containing his
money and passport, had been stolen from him. Now he could not leave

He told me that during the day he warmed himself in public-houses,
eating any stale crust of bread which might be given him. His night's
lodging here in Liapin's house cost him nothing.

He was only waiting for the round of the police-sergeant to lock him up
for being without his passport, when he would be sent on foot, with a
party of men similarly situated, to the place of his birth.

"They say the inspection will take place on Thursday, when I shall be
taken up; so I must try and keep on until then." (The prison and his
compulsory journey appeared to him as the "promised land.") While he was
speaking, two or three men in the crowd said they were also in exactly
the same situation.

A thin, pale youth, with a long nose, only a shirt upon his back, and
that torn about the shoulders, and a tattered cap on his head, edged his
way to me through the crowd. He was shivering violently all the time,
but tried, as he caught my eye, to smile scornfully at the peasant's
conversation, thinking thus to show his superiority.

I offered him some drink.

He warmed his hands on the tumbler as the other had done; but just as he
began to speak, he was shouldered aside by a big, black, hook-nosed,
bare-headed fellow, in a thin shirt and waistcoat, who also asked for
some drink.

Then a tall old man, with a thin beard, in an overcoat fastened round
the waist with a cord, and in bark shoes, had some. He was drunk.

Then came a little man, with a swollen face and wet eyes, in a coarse
brown jacket, with his knees protruding through his torn trousers and
knocking against each other with cold. He shivered so that he could not
hold the glass, and spilled the contents over his clothes: the others
began to abuse him, but he only grinned miserably, and shivered.

After him came an ugly, deformed man in rags, and with bare feet. Then
an individual of the officer type; another belonging to the church
class; then a strange-looking being without a nose,--all of them hungry,
cold, suppliant, and humble,--crowded round me, and stretched out their
hands for the glass; but the drink was exhausted. Then one man asked for
money: I gave him some. A second and a third followed, till the whole
crowd pressed on me. In the general confusion the gatekeeper of the
neighbouring house shouted to the crowd to clear the pavement before his
house, and the people submissively obeyed.

Some of them undertook to control the tumult, and took me under their
protection. They attempted to drag me out of the crush. But the crowd
that formerly had lined the pavement in a long file, had now become
condensed about me. Every one looked at me and begged; and it seemed as
if each face were more pitiful, harassed, and degraded than the other. I
distributed all the money I had,--only about twenty rubles,--and entered
the lodging-house with the crowd. The house was an enormous one, and
consisted of four parts. In the upper storeys were the men's rooms; on
the ground-floor the women's. I went first into the women's
dormitory,--a large room, filled with beds resembling the berths in a
third-class railway-carriage. They were arranged in two tiers, one above
the other.

Strange-looking women in ragged dresses, without jackets, old and young,
kept coming in and occupying places, some below, others climbing above.
Some of the elder ones crossed themselves, pronouncing the name of the
founder of the refuge. Some laughed and swore.

I went up-stairs. There, in a similar way, the men had taken their
places. Amongst them I recognized one of those to whom I had given
money. On seeing him I suddenly felt horribly ashamed, and made haste to

With a sense of having committed some crime, I returned home. There I
entered along the carpeted steps into the rug-covered hall, and, having
taken off my fur coat, sat down to a meal of five courses, served by two
footmen in livery, with white ties and white gloves. A scene of the past
came suddenly before me. Thirty years ago I saw a man's head cut off
under the guillotine in Paris before a crowd of thousands of spectators.
I was aware that the man had been a great criminal: I was acquainted
with all the arguments in justification of capital punishment for such
offences. I saw this execution carried out deliberately: but at the
moment that the head and body were severed from each other by the keen
blade, I gasped, and realized in every fibre of my being, that all the
arguments which I had hitherto heard in favour of capital punishment
were wickedly false; that, no matter how many might agree that it was a
lawful act, it was literally murder; whatever other title men might give
it, they thus had virtually committed murder, that worst of all crimes:
and there was I, both by my silence and my non-interference, an aider,
an abetter, and participator in the sin.

Similar convictions were again forced upon me when I now beheld the
misery, cold, hunger, and humiliation of thousands of my fellow-men. I
realized not only with my brain, but in every pulse of my soul, that,
whilst there were thousands of such sufferers in Moscow, I, with tens of
thousands of others, daily filled myself to repletion with luxurious
dainties of every description, took the tenderest care of my horses, and
clothed my very floors with velvet carpets!

Whatever the wise and learned of the world might say about it, however
unalterable the course of life might seem to be, the same evil was
continually being enacted, and I, by my own personal habits of luxury,
was a promoter of that evil.

The difference between the two cases was only this: that in the first,
all I could have done would have been to shout out to the murderers
standing near the guillotine, who were accomplishing the deed, that they
were committing a murder, and by every means to try to hinder
them,--while, of course, knowing that my interference would be in vain.
Whereas, in this second case, I might have given away, not only the
drink and the small sum of money I had with me, but also the coat from
off my shoulders, and all that I possessed at home. Yet I had not done
so, and therefore felt, and feel, and can never cease to feel, that I
myself am a partaker in a crime which is continually being committed, so
long as I have superfluous food whilst others have none, so long as I
have two coats whilst there exists one man without any.


On the same evening that I returned from Liapin's house, I imparted my
impressions to a friend: and he, a resident of the town, began to
explain to me, not without a certain satisfaction, that this was the
most natural state of things in a town; that it was only owing to my
provincialism that I found anything remarkable in it; and that it had
always been, and always would be so, such being one of the inevitable
conditions of civilization. In London it was yet worse, etc., etc.,
therefore there could be nothing wrong about it, and there was nothing
to be disturbed or troubled about.

I began to argue with my friend, but with such warmth and so angrily,
that my wife rushed in from the adjoining room to ask what had happened.
It appeared that, without being aware of it, I had shouted out in an
agonized voice, gesticulating wildly, "We should not go on living in
this way! we must not live so! we have no right!" I was rebuked for my
unnecessary excitement; I was told that I could not talk quietly upon
any question, that I was irritable; and it was pointed out to me that
the existence of such misery as I had witnessed was in no way a reason
for embittering the life of my home-circle.

I felt that this was perfectly just, and held my tongue; but in the
depth of my soul I knew that I was right, and I could not quiet my

The town life, which had previously seemed alien and strange to me, now
became so hateful that all the indulgencies of a luxurious existence, in
which I had formerly delighted, began to torment me.

However much I tried to find some kind of excuse for my mode of life, I
could not contemplate without irritation either my own or other people's
drawing-rooms, nor a clean, richly served dinner-table, nor a carriage
with well-fed coachman and horses, nor the shops, theatres, and
entertainments. I could not help seeing, in contrast to all this, those
hungry, shivering, and degraded inhabitants of the night-lodging-house.
I could never free myself from the thought that these conditions were
inseparable--that the one proceeded from the other. I remember that the
sense of culpability which I had felt from the first moment never left
me; but with this feeling another soon mingled, which lessened the

When I talked to my intimate friends and acquaintances about my
impressions in Liapin's house, they all answered in the same way, and
expressed besides their appreciation of my kindness and
tender-heartedness, and gave me to understand that the sight had
impressed me so because I, Leo Tolstoy, was kind-hearted and good. And I
willingly allowed myself to believe this.

The natural consequence of this was, that the first keen sense of
self-reproach and shame became blunted, and was replaced by a sense of
satisfaction at my own virtue, and a desire to make it known to others.
"It is, in truth," I said to myself, "probably not my connection with a
luxurious life which is at fault, but the unavoidable circumstances of
existence. Therefore a change in my particular life would not alter the
evil I had seen."

In changing my own life, I thought, I should only render myself and
those nearest and dearest to me miserable, whilst the other misery would
remain; therefore my object should be, not to alter my own way of
living, as I had at first imagined, but to try as much as was in my
power to _ameliorate_ the position of those unfortunate ones who had
excited my compassion. The whole matter, I reasoned, lies in the fact
that I, being an extremely kind and good man, wish to do good to my

So I began to arrange a plan of philanthropic activity in which I might
exhibit all my virtues. I must, however, remark here, that, while
planning this charitable effort, in the depth of my heart I felt that I
was not doing the right thing; but, as too often happens, reason and
imagination stifled the voice of conscience.

About this time the census was being taken, and this seemed to me a good
opportunity for instituting that charitable organization in which I
wanted to shine.

I was acquainted with many philanthropic institutions and societies
already existing in Moscow, but all their activity seemed to me both
insignificant and wrongly directed in comparison with what I myself
wished to do.

This was what I invented to excite sympathy amongst the rich for the
poor: I began to collect money, and to enlist men who wished to help in
the work, and who would, in company with the census officers, visit all
the nests of pauperism, entering into relations with the poor, finding
out the details of their needs, aiding them with money and work, sending
them out of Moscow, placing their children in schools, and their old men
and women in homes and houses of refuge.

I thought, moreover, that from those who undertook this work a permanent
society could be formed, which, by dividing between its members the
various districts of Moscow, could take care that new cases of want and
misery should be averted, and so by degrees pauperism might be stifled
at its very beginning, not so much by cure, as by prevention.

Already I saw in the future the entire disappearance of begging and
poverty, I having been the means of its accomplishment. Then we who were
rich could go on living in all our luxury as before, dwelling in fine
houses, eating dinners of five courses, driving in our carriages to
theatres and entertainments, no longer being harassed by such sights as
I had witnessed at Liapin's house.

Having invented this plan, I wrote an article about it; and, before even
giving it to the printers, I went to those acquaintances from whom I
hoped to obtain co-operation, and expounded to all whom I visited that
day (chiefly the rich) the ideas I afterwards published in my article.

I proposed to profit by the census in order to study the state of
pauperism in Moscow, and to help exterminate it by personal effort and
money, after which we might all with a quiet conscience enjoy our usual
pleasures. Everyone listened to me attentively and seriously; but, in
every case, I remarked that the moment my hearers came to understand
what I was driving at, they seemed to become uncomfortable and somewhat
embarrassed. It was principally, I feel sure, on my own account; because
they considered all that I said to be folly. It seemed as though some
outside motive compelled my listeners to agree for the moment with my
foolishness.--"Oh, yes! Certainly. It would be delightful," they said:
"of course it is impossible not to sympathize with you. Your idea is
splendid. I myself have had the same; but ... people here are so
indifferent, that it is hardly reasonable to expect a great success.
However, as far as I am concerned, I am, of course, ready to share in
the enterprise."

Similar answers I received from all. They consented, as it appeared to
me, not because they were persuaded by my arguments, nor yet in
compliance with their own desire, but because of some exterior reason
which rendered it impossible for them to refuse.

I remarked this partly because none of those who promised me their help
in the form of money, defined the sum they meant to give; so that I had
to name the amount by asking, "May I count upon you for twenty-five, or
one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred, rubles?" And not one of
them paid the money. I draw attention to this fact, because, when people
are going to pay for what they are anxious to have, they are generally
in haste to give it. If it is to secure a box to see Sarah Bernhardt,
the money is immediately produced; here, however, of all who agreed to
give, and expressed their sympathy, not one produced the amount, but
merely silently acquiesced in the sum I happened to name.

In the last house I visited that day there was a large party. The
mistress of the house had for some years been employed in works of
charity. Several carriages were waiting at the door. Footmen in
expensive liveries were seated in the hall. In the spacious
drawing-room, ladies, old and young, wearing rich dresses and ornaments,
were talking to some young men, and dressing up small dolls, intended
for a lottery in aid of the poor.

The sight of this drawing-room and of the people assembled there struck
me very painfully. For not only was their property worth several million
rubles; not only would the interest on the capital spent here on
dresses, laces, bronzes, jewels, carriages, horses, liveries, footmen,
exceed a hundred times the value of these ladies' work,--but even the
expenses caused by this very party of ladies and gentlemen, the gloves,
the linen, candles, tea, sugar, cakes, all this represented a sum a
hundred times greater than the value of the work done.

I saw all this, and therefore might have understood that here, at all
events, I should not find sympathy with my plan, but I had come in order
to give a proposal, and, however painful it was, I said what I wished to
say, repeating almost the words of my article.

One lady present offered me some money, adding that, owing to her
sensibilities, she did not feel strong enough to visit the poor herself,
but that she would give help in this form. How much money, and when she
would give it, she did not say. Another lady and a young man offered
their services in visiting the poor, but I did not profit by their
offer. The principal person I addressed told me that it would be
impossible to do much, because the means were not forthcoming. The means
were scarce, because all the rich men in Moscow who were known and could
be counted upon had already given all it was possible to get from them,
their charities had already been rewarded with titles, medals, and other
distinctions,--which was the only effectual way to ensure success in the
collection of money; and to obtain new honors from the authorities was
very difficult.

When I returned home I went to bed, not only with a presentiment that
nothing would result from my idea, but also with the shameful
consciousness of having been doing something vile and contemptible the
whole day. However, I did not desist.

First, the work had been begun, and false shame prevented my giving it
up; second, not only the success of the enterprise itself, but even my
part in it, afforded me the possibility of continuing to live in my
usual way; whereas the failure of this enterprise would have put me
under the constraint of giving up my present mode of life and of seeking
another. Of this, I was unconsciously afraid; and therefore I refused to
listen to my inner voice, and continued what I had begun.

Having sent my article to be printed, I read a proof-copy at a
census-meeting in the town hall, hesitatingly, and blushing till my
cheeks burned again. I felt very uncomfortable, and I saw that all my
hearers were equally uncomfortable.

On my question, whether the managers of the census would accept my
proposal that they should remain at their posts in order to form a link
between society and those in need, an awkward silence ensued.

Then two of those present made speeches, which seemed to mend the
awkwardness of my suggestions. Sympathy for me was expressed along with
their general approbation, but they pointed out the impracticability of
my scheme. Everyone immediately seemed more at ease; but afterwards,
still wishing to succeed, I asked each district manager separately,
whether during the census he was willing to investigate the needs of the
poor and afterwards remain at his post in order to form this link
between the poor and the rich, all were again confounded; it seemed as
though their looks said, "Why, we have listened to your silly
proposition out of personal regard for you; but here you come with it
again!" This was the expression of their faces, but in words they told
me that they consented; and two of them, separately, but as though they
had agreed together, said in the same words, "We regard it as our moral
duty to do so." The same impression was produced by my words upon the
students who had volunteered to act as clerks during the census, when I
told them that they might accomplish a charitable work besides their
scientific pursuits.

When we talked the matter over I noticed that they were shy of looking
me straight in the face, as one often hesitates to look into the face of
a good-natured man who is talking nonsense. The same impression was
produced upon the editor of the paper when I handed my article to him;
also upon my son, my wife, and various other people. Every one seemed
embarrassed, but all found it necessary to approve of the idea itself;
and all, immediately after this approbation, began to express their
doubts as to the success of the plan, and, for some reason or other, all
without exception took to condemning the indifference and coldness of
society and of the world, though they evidently excluded themselves.


By my request I was appointed to make the census of the section of
Khamovnitchesky police district, near the Smolensky Market in the
Prototchni Lane between the Shore Drive and Nicolsky Lane. In this
district are the houses known under the name of Rzhanoff House or
Rzhanoff Fortress. In bygone times these houses belonged to the merchant
Rzhanoff, and are now the property of the merchants Zeemin. I had long
before heard that this was considered the lowest circle of poverty and
vice, which was the reason why I asked the officers of the census to
assign this district to me.

My desire was gratified.

Having received the appointment from the Town Council, I went alone, a
few days before the census, to inspect my district. With the help of a
plan I soon found the Rzhanoff Houses,--approached by a street which
terminated on the left-hand side of Nicolsky Lane--a gloomy building
without any apparent entrance. From the aspect of this house I guessed
it was the one I was in search of. Descending the street, I came across
some boys, from ten to fourteen years old, in short coats, who were
sliding down the frozen gutter, some on their feet, others upon a single

The boys were ragged, and, like all town boys, sharp and bold. I stopped
to look at them. An old woman in torn clothes, with hanging yellow
cheeks, came round the corner. She was going up-hill to Smolensky
Market, gasping painfully at every step, like a horse out of wind; and
when abreast of me, stopped with hoarse, choking breath. In any other
place, this old woman would have asked alms, but here she only began to

"Just look at them!" she said, pointing to the sliding boys; "always at
mischief! They will become the same Rzhanoff good-for-nothings as their
fathers." One boy, in an overcoat and cap without a peak, overhearing
her words, stopped. "You shut up!" he shouted. "You're only an old
Rzhanoff goat yourself!"

I asked the boy if he lived here. "Yes, and so does she. She stole some
boots," he called out, and, pushing himself off, slid on.

The old woman began a torrent of abuse, interrupted by coughs. During
the squabble an old white-haired man, all in rags, came down the middle
of the street, brandishing his arms, and carrying in one hand a bundle
of small rusk rings. He seemed to have just fortified himself with a
glass of liquor. He had evidently heard the old woman's abuse and took
her side.

"I'll give it you, you little devils!" he shouted, pretending to rush
after them; and, passing behind me, he stepped on the pavement. If you
saw this old man in the Artat, a fashionable street, you would be struck
with his air of decrepitude, feebleness, and poverty. Here he appeared
as a merry workman returning from his day's labor.

I followed him. He turned round the corner to the left into Prototchni, an
alley, passed the front of the house and the gate, and disappeared through
the door of an inn. Into this alley opened the doors of the latter,
a public-house, and several small eating-houses. It was the Rzhanoff
Houses. Every thing was gray, dirty, and foul-smelling,--buildings,
lodgings, courts, and people. Most of those I met here were in tattered
clothes, half naked. Some were passing along, others were running from
one door to another. Two were bargaining about some rags. I went round
the whole building, down another lane and a court, and, having returned,
stopped at the archway of the Rzhanoff Houses.

I wanted to go in and see what was going on inside, but the idea made me
feel painfully awkward. If they asked me what I had come for, what
should I say?

However after a little hesitation I went in. The moment I entered the
court I was conscious of a most revolting stench. The court was
dreadfully dirty. I turned round the corner, and at the same instant
heard steps running along the boards of the gallery and down the stairs.

First a gaunt-looking woman, with tucked-up sleeves, a faded pink dress,
and shoes on her stockingless feet, rushed out; after her, a
rough-haired man in a red shirt, and extremely wide trousers, like a
petticoat, and goloshes on his feet. The man caught her under the
stairs: "You sha'n't escape me," he said, laughing.

"Just listen to the squint-eyed devil!" began the woman, who was
evidently not averse to his attentions; but, having caught sight of me,
she exclaimed angrily, "Who are you looking for?" As I did not want
anyone in particular, I felt somewhat confused, and went away.

This little incident, though by no means remarkable in itself, suddenly
showed me the work I was about to undertake in an entirely new light,
especially after what I had seen on the other side of the
courtyard,--the scolding woman, the light-hearted old man, and the
sliding boys. I had meditated doing good to these people by the help of
the rich men of Moscow. I now realized, for the first time, that all
these poor unfortunates, whom I had been wishing to help, had, besides
the time they spent suffering from cold and hunger in waiting to get a
lodging, several hours daily to get through, and that they must somehow
fill up the rest of the twenty-four hours of every day,--a whole life,
of which I had never thought before. I realized now, for the first time,
that all these people, besides the mere effort to find food and shelter
from the cold, must live through the rest of every day of their life as
other people have to do, must get angry at times, and be dull, and try
to appear light-hearted, and be sad or merry. Now, for the first time
(however strange the confession may sound), I was fully aware that the
task which I was undertaking could not simply consist in feeding and
clothing a thousand people (just as one might feed a thousand head of
sheep, and drive them into shelter), but must develop some more
essential help. When I considered that each one of these individuals was
just another man like myself, possessing also a past history, with the
same passions, temptations, and errors, the same thoughts, the same
questions to be answered, then suddenly the work before me appeared
stupendous and I felt my own utter helplessness;--but it had begun and I
was resolved to go on.


On the appointed day, the students who were to assist me started early
in the morning; while I, the philanthropist, only joined them at twelve
o'clock. I could not come earlier, as I did not get up till ten, after
which I had to take some coffee, and then smoke for the sake of my
digestion. Twelve o'clock, then, found me at the door of the Rzhanoff
Houses. A policeman showed me a public-house to which the census-clerks
referred all those who wished to enquire for them. I entered, and found
it very dirty and unsavoury. Here, right in front of me, was a counter;
to the left a small room, furnished with tables covered with soiled
napkins; to the right a large room on pillars, containing similar little
tables placed in the windows and along the walls; with men here and
there having tea, some very ragged, others well dressed, apparently
workmen or small shopkeepers. There were also several women. In spite of
the dirt, it was easy to see, by the business air of the man in charge,
and the ready, obliging manners of the waiters, that the eating-house
was driving a good trade. I had no sooner entered than one of the
waiters was already preparing to assist me in getting off my overcoat,
anxious to take my orders, and showing that evidently the people here
were in the habit of doing their work quickly and readily.

My enquiry for the census-clerks was answered by a call for "Ványa" from
a little man dressed in foreign fashion, who was arranging something in
a cupboard behind the counter. This was the proprietor of the
public-house, a peasant from Kaluga, Iván Fedotitch by name, who also
rented half of the other houses, sub-letting the rooms to lodgers. In
answer to his call, a thin, sallow-faced, hook-nosed lad, about eighteen
years old, came forward hastily. The landlord said, "Take this gentleman
to the clerks: they have gone to the main body of the building over the

The lad put down his napkin, pulled on a coat over his white shirt and
trousers, picked up a large cap with a peak, and then, with quick, short
steps, led the way by a back-door through the buildings. At the entrance
of a greasy, malodorous kitchen, we met an old woman who was carefully
carrying some putrid tripe in a rag. We descended into a court, built up
all round with wooden buildings on stone foundations. The smell was most
offensive, and seemed to be concentrated in a privy to which numbers of
people were constantly resorting. This privy was really only the place
which custom accepted as a privy. One could not avoid noticing this
place as one passed through the courtyard. One suffered in entering the
acrid atmosphere of the bad smells issuing from it.

The boy, taking care not to soil his white trousers, led me cautiously
across frozen and unfrozen filth, and approached one of the buildings.
The people crossing the yard and galleries all stopped to gaze at me. It
was evident that a cleanly-dressed man was an unusual sight in the

The boy asked a woman whom we met, whether she had seen where the census
officials had entered, and three people at once answered his question:
some said that they were over the well; others said that they had been
there, but had now gone to Nikita Ivanovitch's.

An old man in the middle of the court, who had only a shirt on, said
that they were at No. 30. The boy concluded that this information was
the most probable and led me to No. 30, into the basement, where
darkness prevailed and a bad smell, different from that which filled the

We continued to descend along a dark passage. As we were traversing it a
door was suddenly opened, out of which came a drunken old man in a
shirt, evidently not of the peasant class. A shrieking washerwoman with
tucked-up sleeves and soapy arms was pushing him out of the room.
"Ványa" (my guide) shoved him aside, saying, "It won't do to kick up
such a row here--and you an officer too!"

When we arrived at No. 30, Ványa pulled the door, which opened with the
sound of a wet slap; and we felt a gush of soapy steam and an odor of
bad food and tobacco, and entered in complete darkness. The windows were
on the other side; and we were in a crooked corridor, that went right
and left, with doors leading at different angles into rooms separated
from it by a partition of unevenly laid boards, roughly whitewashed.

In a dark room to the left we could see a woman washing at a trough.
Another old woman was looking out of a door at the right. Near an open
door was a hairy, red-skinned peasant in bark shoes, sitting on a couch.
His hands rested upon his knees; and he was swinging his feet and
looking sadly at his shoes.

At the end of the passage a small door led into the room where the
census officers had assembled. This was the room of the landlady of the
whole of No. 30, who rented it from Iván Fedotitch and sub-let to
ordinary or night lodgers.

In this tiny room a student sat under an image glittering with gilt
paper, and, with the air of a magistrate, was putting questions to a man
dressed in shirt and vest. This last was a friend of the landlady's, who
was answering the questions in her stead. The landlady herself,--an old
woman,--and two inquisitive lodgers, were also present.

When I entered, the room was quite filled up. I pushed through to the
table, shook hands with the student, and he went on extracting his
information, while I studied the inhabitants, and put questions to them
for my own ends.

It appeared, however, I could find no one here upon whom to bestow my
benevolence. The landlady of the rooms, notwithstanding their
wretchedness and filth (which especially struck me in comparison with
the mansion in which I lived), was well off, even from the point of view
of town poverty; and compared with country destitution, with which I was
well acquainted, she lived luxuriously. She had a feather-bed, a quilted
blanket, a samovár, a fur cloak, a cupboard, with dishes, plates, etc.
The landlady's friend had the same well-to-do appearance, and boasted
even a watch and chain. The lodgers were poor, but among them there was
no one requiring immediate help.

Three only applied for aid,--the woman washing linen, who said she had
been abandoned by her husband; an old widowed woman, without means of
livelihood; and the peasant in the bark shoes, who told me he had not
had anything to eat that day. But, upon gathering more precise
information, it became evident that all these people were not in extreme
want, and that, before one could really help, it would be necessary to
make their more intimate acquaintance.

When I offered the washerwoman to place her children in a "home," she
became confused, thought over it some time, then thanked me much, but
evidently did not desire it; she would rather have had some money. Her
eldest daughter helped her in the washing, and the second acted as nurse
to the little boy.

The old woman asked to be put into a refuge; but, examining her corner,
I saw she was not in extreme distress. She had a box containing some
property and a teapot, two cups, and old bon-bon boxes with tea and
sugar. She knitted stockings and gloves, and received a monthly
allowance from a lady benefactress.

The peasant was evidently more desirous of wetting his throat after his
last day's drunkenness than of food, and anything given him would have
gone to the public-house. In these rooms, therefore, there was no one
whom I could have rendered in any respect happier by helping them with

There were only paupers there,--and paupers, it seemed, of a
questionable kind.

I put down the names of the old woman, the laundress, and the peasant,
and settled in my mind that it would be necessary to do something for
them, but that first I would help those other _especially_ unfortunate
ones whom I expected to come across in this house. I made up my mind
that some system was necessary in distributing the aid which we had to
give: first, we must find the most needy, and then come to such as

But in the next lodging, and in the next again, I found only similar
cases, which would have to be looked into more closely before being
helped. Of those whom pecuniary aid alone would have rendered happy, I
found none.

However ashamed I feel in confessing it, I began to experience a certain
disappointment at not finding in these houses anything resembling what I
had expected. I thought to find very exceptional people; but, when I had
gone over all the lodgings, I became convinced that their inhabitants
were in no way extremely peculiar, but much like those amongst whom I

As with us, so also with them, there were some more or less good and
others more or less bad: there were some more or less happy and others
more or less unhappy. Those who were unhappy amongst them would have
been equally wretched with us, their misery being within themselves,--a
misery not to be mended by any kind of bank-note.


The inhabitants of these houses belonged to the lowest population of the
town, which in Moscow amounts to perhaps more than a hundred thousand.
In this house, there were representative men of all kinds,--petty
employers and journeymen, shoemakers, brushmakers, joiners, hackney
coachmen, jobbers carrying on business on their own account,
washerwomen, second-hand dealers, money-lenders, day-laborers, and
others without any definite occupation; and here also lodged beggars and
unfortunate women.

Many who were like the people I had seen waiting at Liapin's house lived
here, mixed up with the working-people. But those whom I saw then were
in a most wretched condition, having eaten and drunk all they had, and,
turned out of the public-house, were waiting, as for heavenly manna,
cold and hungry, to be admitted into the free night-lodging-house,--and
longing day by day to be taken to prison, in order to be sent back to
their homes. Here I saw the same men among a greater number of
working-people, at a time when by some means or other they had got a few
farthings to pay for their night's lodging, and perhaps a ruble or two
for food and drink.

However strange it may sound, I had no such feelings here as I
experienced in Liapin's house; on the contrary, during my first
visiting-round, I and the students had a sensation which was rather
agreeable than otherwise. Why do I say "almost agreeable?" It is not
true. The sensation called forth by the companionship of these
men--strange as it may seem--was simply a very agreeable one.

The first impression was, that the majority of the lodgers here were
working people, and very kindly disposed. We found most of them at
work,--the washerwomen at their tubs, the joiners by their benches, the
bootmakers at their lasts. The tiny rooms were full of people, and the
work was going on cheerfully and with energy. There was a smell of
perspiration among the workmen, of leather at the bootmaker's, of chips
in the carpenter's shop. We often heard songs, and saw bare, sinewy arms
working briskly and skilfully.

Everywhere we were received kindly and cheerfully. Nearly everywhere our
intrusion into the daily life of these people excited no desire in them
to show us their importance, or to rate us soundly, which happens when
such visits are paid to the lodgings of well-to-do people. On the
contrary, all our questions were answered simply, without any particular
importance being attached to them,--served, indeed, only as an excuse
for merriment and for jokes about how they were to be enrolled on the
list, how such a one was as good as two, and how two others ought to be
reckoned as one.

Many we found at dinner or at tea; and each time, in answer to our
greeting, "Bread and salt," or, "Tea and sugar," they said, "You are
welcome"; and some even made room for us to sit down. Instead of the
place being the resort of an ever-shifting population, such as we
expected to find, it turned out that in this house were many rooms which
had been tenanted by the same people for long periods.

One carpenter, with his workmen, and a bootmaker, with his journeymen,
had been living here for ten years. The bootmaker's shop was very dirty
and quite choked up, but all his men were working very cheerily. I tried
to talk with one of the workmen, wishing to sound him about the miseries
of his lot, what he owed to the master, and so forth; but he did not
understand me, and spoke of his master and of his life from a very
favourable point of view.

In one lodging, there lived an old man with his old wife. They dealt in
apples. Their room was warm, clean, and filled with their belongings.
The floor was covered with straw-matting which they got from the apple
stores. There were chests, a cupboard, a samovár, and crockery. In the
corner were many holy images, before which two lamps were burning: on
the wall hung fur cloaks wrapped up in a sheet. The old woman with
wrinkled face, kind and talkative, was apparently quite delighted with
her quiet, respectable life.

Iván Fedotitch, the owner of the inn and of the lodgings, came out and
walked with us. He joked kindly with many of the lodgers, calling them
all by their names, and giving us short sketches of their characters.
They were as other men, did not consider themselves unhappy, but
believed they were like everyone else, as in reality they were. We were
prepared to see only dreadful things, and we met instead objects not
only not repulsive, but estimable. There were so many of these, compared
with the ragged, ruined, unoccupied people we met now and then among
them, that the latter did not in the least destroy the general
impression. To the students it did not appear so remarkable as it did to
me. They were merely performing an act useful to science, as they
thought; and, in passing, made casual observations: but I was a
benefactor; my object in going there was to help the unhappy, ruined,
depraved men and women whom I had expected to meet in this house.
Suddenly, instead of unhappy, ruined, depraved beings, I found the
majority to be workingmen: quiet, satisfied, cheerful, kind, and very

I was still more strongly impressed when I found that in these lodgings
the crying want I wished to relieve had already been relieved before I
came. But by whom? By these same unhappy, depraved beings whom I was
prepared to save! And this help was given in a way not open to me.

In one cellar lay a lonely old man suffering from typhus-fever. He had
no connections in the world; yet a woman,--a widow with a little
girl,--quite a stranger to him, but living in the corner next to him,
nursed him, gave him tea, and bought him medicine with her own money.

In another lodging lay a woman in puerperal fever. A woman of the town
was nursing her child, and had prepared a sucking-bottle for him, and
had not gone out to ply her sad trade for two days.

An orphan girl was taken into the family of a tailor, who had three
children of his own. Thus, there remained only such miserable unoccupied
men as retired officials, clerks, men-servants out of situations,
beggars, tipsy people, prostitutes, children, whom it was not possible
to help all at once by means of money, but whose cases it was necessary
to consider carefully before assisting them. I had been seeking for men
suffering immediately from want of means, whom one might be able to help
by sharing one's superfluities with them. I had not found them. All whom
I had seen, it would have been very difficult to assist materially
without devoting time and care to their cases.


These unfortunate necessitous ones ranged themselves in my mind under
three heads: First, those who had lost former advantageous positions,
and who were waiting to return to them (such men belonged to the lowest
as well as to the highest classes of society); Secondly, women of the
town, who are very numerous in these houses; and Thirdly, children.

The majority of those I found, and noted down, were men who had lost
former places, and were desirous of returning to them, chiefly of the
better class, and government officials. In almost all the lodgings we
entered with the landlord, we were told, "Here we need not trouble to
fill up the card ourselves: the man here is able to do it, provided he
is not tipsy."

Thus summoned by Iván Fedotitch, there would appear, from some dark
corner, the once rich nobleman or official, mostly drunk, and always
half-dressed. If he were not drunk, he willingly undertook the task: he
kept nodding his head with a sense of importance, knitted his brows,
inserted now and then learned terms in his remarks, and carefully
holding in his dirty, trembling hands the neat pink card, looked round
at his fellow-lodgers with pride and contempt, as if he were now, by the
superiority of his education, triumphing over those who had been
continually humbling him.

He was evidently pleased to have intercourse with the world which used
pink cards, with a world of which he himself had once been a member.

To my questions about his life, this kind of man not only replied
willingly, but with enthusiasm,--beginning to tell a story, fixed in his
mind like a prayer, about all kinds of misfortunes which had happened to
him, and chiefly about his former position, in which, considering his
education, he ought to have remained.

Many such people are scattered about in all the tenements of the
Rzhanoff Houses. One lodging-house was tenanted exclusively by them,
women and men. As we approached them, Iván Fedotitch said, "Now, here's
where the nobility live."

The lodging was full. Almost all the lodgers--about forty persons--were
at home. In the whole house, there were no faces so ruined and
degraded-looking as these,--if old, flabby; if young, pale and haggard.

I talked with several of them. Almost always the same story was told,
differing only in degree of development. One and all had been once rich,
or had still a rich father or brother or uncle; or either his father or
his unfortunate self had held a high office. Then came some misfortune
caused by envious enemies, or his own imprudent kindness, or some
out-of-the-way occurrence; and, having lost everything, he was obliged
to descend to these strange and hateful surroundings, among lice and
rags, in company with drunkards and loose characters, feeding upon bread
and liver, and subsisting by beggary.

All the thoughts, desires, and recollections of these men are turned
toward the past. The present appears to them as something unnatural,
hideous, and unworthy of attention. It does not exist for them. They
have only recollections of the past, and expectations of the future
which may be realized at any moment, and for the attainment of which but
very little is needed; but, unfortunately, this little is out of their
reach; it cannot be got anywhere: and so one has wasted one year,
another five, and a third thirty years.

One needs only to be dressed respectably in order to call on a
well-known person who is kindly disposed toward him; another requires
only to be dressed, have his debts paid, and go to some town or other; a
third wants to take his effects out of pawn, and get a small sum to
carry on a law-suit, which must be decided in his favour, and then all
will be well again. All say that they have need of some external
circumstance in order to regain that position which they think natural
and happy.

If I had not been blinded by my pride in being a benefactor, I should
have needed only to look a little closer into their faces, young and
old, which were generally weak, sensual, but kind, in order to
understand that their misfortunes could not be met by external means;
that they could be happy in no position while their present conception
of life remained the same; that they were by no means peculiar people in
peculiarly unhappy circumstances, but that they were like all other men,
ourselves included.

I remember well how my intercourse with men of this class was
particularly trying to me. I now understand why it was so. In them I saw
my own self as in a mirror. If I had considered carefully my own life
and the lives of people of my own class, I should have seen that between
us and these unfortunate men there existed no essential difference.

Those who live around me in expensive suites of apartments and houses of
their own in the best streets of the city, eating something better than
liver or herring with their bread, are none the less unhappy. They also
are discontented with their lot, regret the past, and desire a happier
future, precisely as did the wretched tenants of the Rzhanoff Houses.
Both wished to be worked less and to be worked for more, the difference
between them being only in degrees of idleness.

Unfortunately, I did not see this at first, nor did I understand that
such people needed to be relieved, not by my charity, but from their own
false views of the world; and that to change a man's estimate of life he
must be given one more accurate than his own, which, unhappily, not
possessing myself, I could not communicate to others.

These men were unhappy not because, to use an illustration, they were
without nourishing food, but because their stomachs were spoiled; and
they required, not nourishment, but a tonic. I did not see that in order
to help them, it was not necessary to give them food but to teach them
how to eat. Though I am anticipating, I must say that of all these
people whose names I put down I did not in reality help one,
notwithstanding that everything some of them had desired was done to
relieve them. Of these I became acquainted with three men in particular.
All three, after many failures and much assistance, are now in the same
position they were in three years ago.


The second class of unfortunates, whom I hoped afterwards to be able to
help, were women of the town. These women were very numerous in the
Rzhanoff Houses; and they were of every kind, from young girls still
bearing some likeness to women, to old and fearful-looking creatures
without a vestige of humanity. The hope of helping these women, whom I
had not at first in view, was aroused by the following circumstances.

When we had finished half of our tour, we had already acquired a
somewhat mechanical method. On entering a new lodging we at once asked
for the landlord. One of us sat down, clearing a space to write; and the
other went from one to another, questioning each man and woman in the
room, and reporting the information obtained to him who was writing.

On our entering one of the basement lodgings, the student went to look
for the landlord; and I began to question all who were in the place.
This place was divided thus: In the middle of the room, which was four
yards square, there stood a stove. From the stove four partitions or
screens radiated, making a similar number of small compartments. In the
first of these, which had two doors in it opposite each other, and four
pallets, were an old man and a woman. Next to this was a rather long but
narrow room, in which was the landlord, a young, pale, good-looking man
dressed in a gray woollen coat. To the left of the first division was a
third small room where a man was sleeping, seemingly tipsy, and a woman
in a pink dressing-gown. The fourth compartment was behind a partition,
access to it being through the landlord's room.

The student entered the latter, while I remained in the first,
questioning the old man and the woman. The former had been a compositor,
but now had no means of livelihood whatever.

The woman was a cook's wife.

I went into the third compartment, and asked the woman in the
dressing-gown about the man who was asleep.

She answered that he was a visitor.

I asked her who she was.

She replied that she was a peasant girl from the county of Moscow.

"What is your occupation?" She laughed, and made no answer.

"What do you do for your living?" I repeated, thinking she had not
understood the question.

"I sit in the inn," she said.

I did not understand her, and asked again,--

"What are your means of living?"

She gave me no answer, but continued to giggle. In the fourth room,
where we had not yet been, I heard the voices of women also giggling.

The landlord came out of his room, and approached us. He had evidently
heard my questions and the woman's answers. He glanced sternly at her,
and, turning to me, said, "She is a prostitute"; and it was evident that
he was pleased that he knew this word,--which is the one used in
official circles,--and at having pronounced it correctly. And having
said this with a respectful smile of satisfaction towards me, he turned
to the woman. As he did so, the expression of his face changed. In a
peculiarly contemptuous manner, and with rapid utterance as one would
speak to a dog, he said, without looking at her, "Don't be a fool!
instead of saying you sit in the inn, speak plainly, and say you are a
prostitute.--She does not even yet know her proper name," he said,
turning to me.

This manner of speaking shocked me.

"It is not for us to shame her," I said. "If we were all living
according to God's commandment, there would be no such persons."

"There are such doings," said the landlord, with an artificial smile.

"Therefore we must pity them, and not reproach them. Is it their fault?"

I do not remember exactly what I said. I remember only that I was
disgusted by the disdainful tone of this young landlord, in a lodging
filled with females whom he termed prostitutes; and I pitied the woman,
and expressed both feelings.

No sooner had I said this, than I heard from the small compartment where
the giggling had been, the noise of creaking bed-boards; and over the
partition, which did not reach to the ceiling, appeared the dishevelled
curly head of a female with small swollen eyes, and a shining red face;
a second, and then a third, head followed. They were evidently standing
on their beds; and all three were stretching their necks and holding
their breath, and looking silently at me with strained attention.

A painful silence followed.

The student, who had been smiling before this happened, now became
grave; the landlord became confused, and cast down his eyes; and the
women continued to look at me in expectation.

I felt more disconcerted than all the rest. I had certainly not expected
that a casual word would produce such an effect. It was like the field
of battle covered with dead bones seen by the prophet Ezekiel, on which,
trembling from contact with the spirit, the dead bones began to move. I
had casually uttered a word of love and pity, which produced upon all
such an effect that it seemed as if they had been only waiting for it,
to cease to be corpses, and to become alive again.

They continued to look at me, as if wondering what would come next, as
if waiting for me to say those words and do those acts by which these
dry bones would begin to come together,--be covered with flesh and
receive life.

But I felt, alas! that I had no such words or deeds to give, or to
continue as I had begun. In the depth of my soul I felt that I had told
a lie, that I myself was like them, that I had nothing more to say; and
I began to write down on the card the names and the occupations of all
the lodgers there.

This occurrence led me into a new kind of error. I began to think that
these unhappy creatures also could be helped. This, in my self
deception, it seemed to me would be very easily done. I said to myself,
"Now we shall put down the names of these women too; and afterwards,
when we (though it never occurred to me to ask who were the _we_) have
written everything down, we can occupy ourselves with their affairs." I
imagined that _we_, the very persons who, during many generations, have
been leading such women into such a condition, and still continue to do
so, could one fine morning wake up and remedy it all. And yet, if I
could have recollected my conversation with the lost woman who was
nursing the baby for the sick mother, I should have understood the folly
of such an idea.

When we first saw this woman nursing the child, we thought that it was
hers; but upon our asking her what she was, she answered us plainly that
she was a wench. She did not say "prostitute." It was left for the
proprietor of the lodgings to make use of that terrible word.

The supposition that she had a child gave me the idea of helping her out
of her present position.

"Is this child yours?" I asked.

"No: it is that woman's there."

"Why do you nurse him?"

"She asked me to. She is dying."

Though my surmise turned out to be wrong, I continued to speak with her
in the same spirit. I began to question her as to who she was, and how
she came to be in such a position. She told me her story willingly, and
very plainly. She belonged to the artisan class of Moscow, the daughter
of a factory workman. She was left an orphan, and adopted by her aunt,
from whose house she began to visit the inns. The aunt was now dead.

When I asked her whether she wished to change her course of life, my
question did not even interest her. How can a supposition about
something quite impossible awaken an interest in any one? She smiled and

"Who would take me with a yellow ticket?"[3]

  [3] The police certificate of registration as a prostitute.--Ed.

"But," said I, "if it were possible to find you a situation as a cook or
something else?" I said this because she looked like a strong woman,
with a kind, dull, round face, not unlike many cooks I had seen.

Evidently my words did not please her. She repeated, "Cook! but I do not
understand how to bake bread."

She spoke jestingly; but, by the expression of her face, I saw that she
was unwilling; that she even considered the position and rank of a cook
beneath her.

This woman, who, in the most simple manner, like the widow in the
gospel, had sacrificed all that she had for a sick person, at the same
time, like other women of the same profession, considered the position
of a workman or workwoman low and despicable. She had been educated to
live without work,--a life which all her friends considered quite
natural. This was her misfortune. And by this she came into her present
position, and is kept in it. This brought her to the inns. Who of us men
and women will cure her of this false view of life? Are there among us
any men convinced that a laborious life is more respectable than an idle
one, and who are living according to this conviction, and who make this
the test of their esteem and respect?

If I had thought about it I should have understood that neither I nor
anybody else I know, was able to cure a person of this disease.

I should have understood that those wondering and awakened faces that
looked over the partition expressed merely astonishment at the pity
shown to them, but no wish to reform their lives. They did not see the
immorality. They knew that they were despised and condemned, but the
reason for this they could not understand. They had lived in this manner
from their infancy among women like themselves, who, they know very
well, have always existed, do exist, and are necessary to society, that
there are officials deputed by government to see that they conform to

Besides, they know that they have power over men, and subdue them, and
often influence them more than any other women. They see that their
position in society, notwithstanding the fact that they are always
blamed, is recognised by men as well as by women and by the government;
and therefore they cannot even understand of what they have to repent,
and wherein they should reform.

During one of our tours the student told me that in one of the lodgings
there was a woman who sends out her daughter, thirteen years old, to
walk the streets. Wishing to save this little girl I went on purpose to
their lodging.

Mother and daughter were living in great poverty. The mother, a small,
dark-complexioned prostitute of forty years of age, was not simply ugly,
but disagreeably ugly. The daughter was also bad-looking. To all my
indirect questions about their mode of life, the mother replied curtly,
with a look of suspicion and animosity, apparently feeling that I was an
enemy with bad intentions: the daughter said nothing without looking
first at the mother, in whom she evidently had entire confidence.

They did not awaken pity in my heart, but rather disgust. Still I
decided that it was necessary to save the daughter, to awaken an
interest in ladies who might sympathize with the miserable condition of
these women and might so be brought here.

Yet if I had thought about the antecedents of the mother, how she had
given birth to her daughter, how she had fed and brought her up,
certainly without any outside help, and with great sacrifices to
herself; if I had thought of the view of life which had formed itself in
her mind,--I should have understood, that, in the mother's conduct,
there was nothing at all bad or immoral, seeing she had been doing for
her daughter all she could; i.e., what she considered best for herself.

It was possible to take this girl away from her mother by force; but to
convince her that she was doing wrong in selling her daughter was not
possible. It would first be necessary to save this woman--this
mother--from a condition of life approved by every one, and according to
which a woman may live without marrying and without working, serving
exclusively as a gratification to the passions. If I had thought about
this, I should have understood that the majority of those ladies whom I
wished to send here for saving this girl were not only themselves
avoiding family duties, and leading idle and sensuous lives, but were
consciously educating their daughters for this very same mode of
existence. One mother leads her daughter to the inn, and another to
court and to balls. Both the views of the world held by both mothers are
the same; viz., that a woman must gratify the passions of men, and for
that she must be fed, dressed, and taken care of.

How, then, are our ladies to reform this woman and her daughter?


Still more strange were my dealings with the children. In my _rôle_ as
benefactor I paid attention to the children too, wishing to save
innocent beings from going to ruin in this den; and I wrote down their
names in order to attend to them myself _afterwards_.

Among these children my attention was particularly drawn to Serozha, a
boy twelve years old. I sincerely pitied this clever, intelligent lad,
who had been living with a bootmaker, and who was left without any place
of refuge when his master was put into prison. I wished to do something
for him.

I will now give the result of my benevolence in his case, because this
boy's story will show my false position as a benefactor better than
anything else.

I took the boy into my house, and lodged him in the kitchen. Could I
possibly bring a lousy boy out of a den of depravity to my children? I
considered that I had been very kind in having put him where he was,
amongst my servants. I thought myself a great benefactor for having
given him some of my old clothes and fed him; though it was properly my
cook who did it, not I. The boy remained in my house about a week.

During this week I saw him twice, and, passing him, spoke some words to
him, and, when out walking, called on a bootmaker whom I knew and
proposed the boy as an apprentice. A peasant who was on a visit at my
house invited him to go to his village and work in a family. The boy
refused to accept it and disappeared within a week.

I went to Rzhanoff's house to enquire after him. He had returned there;
but when I called, he was not at home. He had already been two days in a
menagerie in Presnem Ponds, where he hired himself for 6d. a day to
appear in a procession of savages in costume, leading an elephant. There
was some public show on at the time.

I went to see him again, but he was so ungrateful, he evidently avoided
me. Had I reflected upon the life of this boy and on my own, I should
have understood that the boy had been spoiled by the fact of his having
tasted the sweets of a merry and idle life, and that he had lost the
habit of working. And I, in order to confer on him a benefit and reform
him, took him into my own house. And what did he see there? He saw my
children, some older than he, some younger, and some of the same age,
who not only never did anything for themselves, but gave as much work to
others as they could. They dirtied and spoiled everything about them,
surfeited themselves with all sorts of dainties, broke the china, upset
and threw to the dogs food which would have been a treat to him. If I
took him out of a den and brought him to a respectable place, he could
not but assimilate the views of life which existed there; and, according
to these views, he understood that in a respectable position one must
live without working, eat and drink well, and lead a merry life.

True, he did not know that my children had much labour in learning the
exceptions in Latin and Greek grammars; nor would he have been able to
understand the object of such work. But one cannot help seeing that even
had he understood it the influence upon him of the example of my
children would have been still stronger. He would have then understood
that they were being educated in such a way, that, not working now, they
might afterwards also work as little as possible, and enjoy the good
things of life by virtue of their diplomas.

But what he did understand of it made him go, not to the peasant to take
care of cattle and feed on potatoes and kvas,[4] but to the menagerie in
the costume of a savage to lead an elephant for 6d. a day. I ought to
have understood how foolish it was of one who was educating his own
children in complete idleness and luxury to try to reform other men and
their children, and save them from going to ruin and idleness in what I
called the _dens_ in Rzhanoff's house; where, however, three-fourths of
the men were working for themselves and for others. But then I
understood nothing of all this.

  [4] An unfermented home-made liquor used by Russian peasants.--Ed.

In Rzhanoff's house there were a great many children in the most
miserable condition. There were children of prostitutes, orphans, and
children carried about the streets by beggars. They were all very
wretched. But my experience with Serozha showed me that so long as I
continued living the life I did I was not able to help them.

While the boy was living with us I remember I took pains to hide from
him our way of life, particularly that of my children. I felt that all
my endeavours to lead him to a good and laborious life were frustrated
by my example and that of my children. It is very easy to take away a
child from a prostitute or a beggar. It is very easy, when one has
money, to wash him, dress him in new clothes, feed him well, and even
teach him different accomplishments; but to teach him how to earn his
living, is, for us who have not been earning ours but doing just the
contrary, not only difficult but quite impossible, because by our
example and by the very improvements of his mode of life effected by us
without any cost on our part, we teach him the very opposite.

You may take a puppy, pet him, feed him, teach him to carry things after
you, and be pleased with looking at him: but it is not enough to feed a
man, dress him, and teach him Greek; you must teach him how to live;
i.e., how to take less from others and give them more in return: and yet
through our own mode of life we cannot help teaching him the very
opposite whether we take him into our house or put him into a home to
bring up.


I have never since experienced such a feeling of compassion towards men
and of aversion towards myself, as I felt in Liapin's house. I was now
filled with the desire to carry out the scheme I had already begun and
to do good to the men whom I had met.

And, strange to say, though it might seem that to do good and to give
money to those in want of it was a good deed, and ought to dispose men
to universal love, it turned out quite the reverse; calling up in me
bitter feelings and disposition to censure them. Even during our first
tour a scene occurred similar to that in Liapin's house; but it failed
to produce again the same effect and created a very different

It began with my finding in one of the lodgings a miserable person who
required immediate help,--a woman who had not eaten food for two days.

It happened thus: In one very large and almost empty night-lodging, I
asked an old woman whether there were any poor people who had nothing to
eat. She hesitated a moment and then named two; then suddenly, as if
recollecting herself, she said, "Yes, there lies one of them," pointing
to a pallet. "This one," she added, "indeed, has nothing to eat."

"You don't say so! Who is she?"

"She has been a lost woman; but as nobody takes her now, she can't earn
anything. The landlady has had pity on her, but now she wants to turn
her out.--Agafia! I say, Agafia!" cried the old woman.

We went a little nearer, and saw something rise from the pallet. This
was a grey-haired, dishevelled woman, thin as a skeleton, in a dirty,
torn chemise, and with peculiarly glittering, immovable eyes. She looked
fixedly beyond us, tried to snatch up her jacket behind her in order to
cover her bony chest, and growled out like a dog, "What? what?"

I asked her how she managed to live. For some time she was unable to see
the drift of my words and said, "I don't know myself; they are going to
turn me out."

I asked again; and oh, how ashamed of myself I feel! my hand can
scarcely write it! I asked her whether it was true that she was
starving. She replied in the same feverish, excited manner, "I had
nothing to eat yesterday; I have had nothing to eat to-day."

The miserable aspect of this woman impressed me deeply, but quite
differently from those in Liapin's house: there, out of pity for them, I
felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself; but here, I rejoiced that I had
at last found what I had been looking for,--a hungry being.

I gave her a ruble and I remember how glad I felt that the others had
seen it.

The old woman forthwith asked me also for money. It was so pleasant to
me to give that I handed her some also, without thinking whether it was
necessary or not. She accompanied me to the door, and those who were in
the corridor heard how she thanked me. Probably my questions about the
poor provoked expectations, for some of the inmates began to follow us
wherever we went.

Among those that begged, there were evidently drunkards, who gave me a
most disagreeable impression; but having once given to the old woman I
thought I had no right to refuse them, and I began to give away more.
This only increased the number of applicants, and there was a stir
throughout the whole lodging-house.

On the stairs and in the galleries, people appeared dogging my steps.
When I came out of the yard, a boy ran quickly down the stairs, pushing
through the people. He did not notice me and said hurriedly,--

"He gave a ruble to Agafia!"

Having reached the ground, he, too, joined the crowd that was following
me. I came out into the street. All sorts of people crowded round
begging for money. Having given away all I had in coppers, I entered a
shop and asked the proprietor to give me change for ten rubles.

Here occurred a scene similar to that which took place in Liapin's
house. A dreadful confusion ensued. Old women, seedy gentlefolk,
peasants, children, all crowded about the shop, stretching out their
hands; I gave, and asked some of them about their position and means,
and entered all in my note-book. The shopkeeper, having turned up the
fur collar of his great-coat, was sitting like a statue, glancing now
and then at the crowd, and again staring beyond it. He apparently felt
like everyone else, that all this was very foolish, but he dared not say

In Liapin's house the misery and humiliation of the people had
overwhelmed me; and I felt myself to blame for it, and also the desire
and the possibility of becoming a better man. But though the scene here
was similar, it produced quite a different effect. In the first place, I
felt angry with many of those who assailed me, and then anxious as to
what the shopmen and the dvorniks might think of me. I returned home
that day with a weight on my mind. I knew that what I had done was
foolish and inconsistent; but, as usual when my conscience was troubled,
I talked the more about my projected plan, as if I had no doubt whatever
as to its success.

The next day I went alone to those whom I had noted down, and who seemed
the most miserable, thinking they could be more easily helped than

As I have already mentioned, I was not really able to help any of these
people. It turned out that to do so was more difficult than I had
imagined: in short, I only tormented these men and helped no one.

Before the last visiting-tour I went several times to Rzhanoff's house,
and each time the same thing occurred: I was assailed by a crowd of men
and women in the midst of whom I utterly lost my presence of mind.

I felt the impossibility of doing anything because there were so many of
them; besides, each of them, taken separately, did not awaken any
sympathy in me. I felt that every one lied, or at least prevaricated,
and regarded me only as a purse out of which money could be drawn. It
often seemed to me that the very money extorted from me did not improve
their position but only made it worse.

The oftener I went to these houses, the closer the intercourse which I
had with the inmates, the more apparent became the impossibility of
doing anything; but notwithstanding this, I did not give up my plan
until after the last night tour with the census-takers.

I feel more ashamed of this visit than of any other. Formerly I had gone
alone, but now twenty of us went together. At seven o'clock all who
wished to take part in this last tour began to assemble in my house.
They were almost all strangers to me. Some students, an officer, and two
of my fashionable acquaintances, who, after having repeated the usual
phrase, "C'est très intéressant!" asked me to put them into the number
of the census-takers.

These fashionable friends of mine had dressed themselves in
shooting-jackets and tall travelling boots, which they thought more
suited to the visit than their ordinary clothes. They carried with them
peculiar pocket-books and extraordinary-looking pencils. They were in
that agitated state of mind which one experiences just before going to a
hunt, or to a duel, or into a battle. The falseness and foolishness of
our enterprise was now more apparent to me in looking at them; but were
we not all in the same ridiculous position?

Before starting we had a conference, somewhat like a council of war, as
to what we should begin with, how to divide ourselves, and so on. This
conference was just like all other official councils, meetings, and
committees: each spoke, not because he had anything to say, or to ask,
but because every one tried to find something to say in order not to be
behind the rest. But during the conversation no one alluded to the acts
of benevolence to which I had so many times referred; and however much
ashamed I felt, I found it was needful to remind them that we must carry
out our charitable intentions by writing down, during the visiting-tour,
the names of all whom we should find in a destitute condition.

I had always felt ashamed to speak about these matters; but here, in the
midst of our hurried preparations for the expedition, I could scarcely
utter a word about them. All listened to me and seemed touched, all
agreed with me in words; but it was evident that each of them knew that
it was folly, and that it would lead to nothing, and so they began at
once to talk about other subjects, and continued doing so until it was
time for us to start.

We came to the dark tavern, aroused the waiters, and began to sort out
papers. When we were told that the people, having heard about this
visiting-tour, had begun to leave their lodgings, we asked the landlord
to shut the gate, and we ourselves went to the yard to persuade those to
remain who wanted to escape, assuring them that no one would ask to see
their passports.

I remember the strange and painful impression produced upon me by these
frightened night-lodgers. Ragged and half-dressed, they all appeared
tall by the light of the lantern in the dark court-yard. Frightened and
horrible in their terror, they stood in a small knot round the
pestilential out-house, listening to our persuasions, but not believing
us; and, evidently, like hunted animals, prepared to do anything to
escape from us.

Gentlemen of all kinds, town and country policemen, public coroner and
judges, had, all their lives, been hunting them in towns and villages,
on the roads and in the streets, in the taverns and in the
lodging-houses, and suddenly these gentlemen had come at night and shut
the gate, only, forsooth, in order to count them! They found this as
difficult to believe as it would be for hares to believe that the dogs
had come out not to catch but to count them.

But the gates were shut, and the frightened night-lodgers returned to
their places; and we, having separated into groups, began our visit.
With me were my fashionable acquaintances and two students. Ványa, with
a lantern, went before us in a great-coat and white trousers, and we
followed. We entered lodgings well known to me. The place was familiar,
some of the persons also; but the majority were new to me, and the
spectacle was also a new and dreadful one,--still more dreadful than
that which I had seen at Liapin's house. All the lodgings were filled,
all the pallets occupied, and not only by one, but often by two persons.
The sight was dreadful, because of the closeness with which these people
were huddled together, and because of the indiscriminate commingling of
men and women. Such of the latter as were not dead-drunk were sleeping
with men. Many women with children slept with strange men on narrow

The spectacle was dreadful, owing to the misery, dirt, raggedness, and
terror of these people; and chiefly because there were so many of them.
One lodging, then another, then a third, a tenth, a twentieth, and so
on, without end. And everywhere the same fearful stench, the same
suffocating exhalation, the same confusion of sexes, men and women,
drunk, or in a state of insensibility; the same terror, submissiveness,
and guilt stamped on all faces, so that I felt deeply ashamed and
grieved, as I had before at Liapin's. At last I understood that what I
was about to do was disgusting, foolish, and therefore impossible; so I
left off writing down their names and questioning them, knowing now that
nothing would come of it.

I felt deeply hurt.

At Liapin's I had been like a man who sees a horrible wound on the body
of another. He feels sorry for the man, ashamed of not having relieved
him before, yet he can still hope to help the sufferer; but now I was
like a doctor who comes with his own medicines to the patient, uncovers
his wound only to mangle it, and to confess to himself that all he has
done has been done in vain, and that his remedy is ineffectual.


This visit gave the last blow to my self-deception. It became very
evident to me that my aim was not only foolish, but even productive of
evil. Yet, though I knew this, it seemed my duty to continue the project
a little longer: first, because of the article I had written and by my
visits I had raised the expectations of the poor; secondly, because what
I had said and written had awakened the sympathy of some benefactors,
many of whom had promised to assist me personally and with money. And I
was expecting to be applied to by both, and hoped to satisfy them as
well as I was able.

As regards the applications made to me by those who were in need, the
following details may be given: I received more than a hundred letters,
which came exclusively from the "rich poor," if I may so express myself.
Some of them I visited, and some I left unanswered. In no instance did I
succeed in doing any good. All the applications made to me were from
persons who were once in a privileged position (I call such persons
privileged who receive more from others than they give in return), had
lost that position, and were desirous of regaining it. One wanted two
hundred rubles in order to keep his business from going to ruin, and to
enable him to finish the education of his children; another wanted to
have a photographic establishment; a third wanted money to pay his
debts, and take his best clothes out of pawn; a fourth was in need of a
piano, in order to perfect himself and to earn money to support his
family by giving lessons. The majority did not name any particular sum
of money: they simply asked for help; but when I began to investigate
what was necessary, it turned out that their wants increased in
proportion to the help offered, and nothing satisfactorily resulted. I
repeat again, the fault may have been in my want of understanding; but
in any case I helped no one, notwithstanding the fact that I made every
effort to do so.

As for the philanthropists who were to co-operate with me, something
very strange and quite unexpected occurred: of all who promised to
assist with money, and even stated the amount they would give, not one
contributed anything for distribution among the poor.

The promises of pecuniary assistance amounted to about three thousand
rubles; but of all these people, not one recollected his agreement, or
gave me a single kopek. The students alone gave the money which they
received as payment for visiting, about twelve rubles; so that my
scheme, which was to have collected tens of thousands of rubles from the
rich, and to have saved hundreds and thousands of people from misery and
vice, ended in my distributing at random some few rubles offered by the
students, with twenty-five more sent me by the town-council for my
labour as manager, which I positively did not know what to do with.

So ended the affair.

Then, before leaving Moscow for the country, on the Sunday before the
Carnival, I went to the Rzhanoff house in the morning in order to
distribute the thirty-seven rubles among the poor. I visited all whom I
knew in the lodgings, but found only one invalid, to whom I gave
something,--five rubles, I think. There was nobody else to give to. Of
course, many began to beg; but, as I did not know them, I made up my
mind to take the advice of Iván Fedotitch, the tavern-keeper, respecting
the distribution of the remaining thirty-two rubles.

It was the first day of the carnival. Everybody was smartly dressed, all
had had food, and many were drunk. In the yard near the corner of the
house stood an old-clothes man, dressed in a ragged peasant's coat and
bark shoes. He was still hale and hearty. Sorting his purchases, he was
putting them into different heaps,--leather, iron, and other
things,--and was singing a merry song at the top of his voice.

I began to talk with him. He was seventy years of age; had no relatives;
earned his living by dealing in old clothes, and not only did not
complain, but said he had enough to eat, drink, and to spare. I asked
him who in the place were particularly in want. He became cross, and
said plainly that there was no one in want but drunkards and idlers; but
on learning my object in asking, he begged me five kopeks for drink, and
ran to the tavern for it.

I also went to the tavern to see Iván Fedotitch, to ask him to
distribute the money for me. It was full; gayly-dressed tipsy
prostitutes were walking to and fro; all the tables were occupied; many
people were already drunk; and in the small room someone was playing a
harmonium, and two people were dancing. Iván Fedotitch, out of respect
for me, ordered them to leave off, and sat down next me at a vacant
table. I asked him, as he knew his lodgers well, to point out those most
in want, as I was intrusted with a little money for distribution, and
wished him to direct me. The kind-hearted man (he died a year after)
gave me his attention for a time in order to oblige me, although he had
to wait on his customers. He began to think it over, and was evidently
puzzled. One old waiter had overheard us, and took his part in the

They began to go over his lodgers, some of whom were known to me, but
they could not agree. "Paramonovna," suggested the waiter.

"Well; yes, she does go hungry sometimes; but she drinks."

"What difference does that make?"

"Well, Spiridon Ivanovitch, he has children; that's the man for you."

But Iván Fedotitch had doubts about Spiridon too.

"Akulina, but she has a pension. Ah, but there is the blind man!"

To him I myself objected: I had just seen him. This was an old man of
eighty years of age, without any relatives. One could scarcely imagine
any condition to be worse; and yet I had just seen him lying drunk on a
feather bed, cursing at his comparatively young mistress in the most
filthy language.

They then named a one-armed boy and his mother. I saw that Iván
Fedotitch was in great difficulty owing to his conscientiousness, for he
knew that every thing given away by me would be spent at his tavern. But
as I had to get rid of my thirty-two rubles, I insisted, and we managed
somehow or other to distribute the money. Those who received it were
mostly well-dressed, and we had not far to go to find them: they were
all in the tavern. The one-armed boy came in top-boots and a red shirt
and waistcoat.

Thus ended all my benevolent enterprises; and I left for the country
vexed with everyone, as it always happens when one does something
foolish and harmful. Nothing came of it all, except the train of
thoughts and feelings which it called forth in me, which not only did
not cease, but doubly agitated my mind.


What did it all mean?

I had lived in the country and had entered into relations with the
country-poor. It is not out of false modesty, but that I may state the
truth, which is necessary in order to understand the run of all my
thoughts and feelings, that I must say that in the country I had done
perhaps but little for the poor, the help which had been required of me
was so small; but even the little I had done had been useful, and had
formed round me an atmosphere of love and sympathy with my
fellow-creatures, in the midst of whom it might yet be possible for me
to quiet the gnawing of my conscience as to the unlawfulness of my life
of luxury.

On going to the city I had hoped for the same happy relations with the
poor, but here things were upon quite another footing. In the city,
poverty was at once less truthful, more exacting, and more bitter, than
in the country. It was chiefly because there was so much more of it
accumulated together, that it produced upon me a most harrowing
impression. What I experienced at Liapin's house made my own luxurious
life seem monstrously evil. I could not doubt the sincerity and strength
of this conviction; yet, notwithstanding this, I was quite incapable of
carrying out a revolution which demanded an entire change in my mode of
life: I was frightened at the prospect, and so I resorted to
compromises. I accepted what I was told by everyone, and what has been
said by everybody since the world began,--that riches and luxury are in
themselves no evil, that they are given by God, and that whilst
continuing to live luxuriously it is possible to help those in need. I
believed this and wanted to do so. And I wrote an article in which I
called upon all rich people to help. These all admitted themselves
morally obliged to agree with me, but evidently did not wish to do or
give anything for the poor, or could not do so.

I then began visiting, and discovered what I had in no way expected to
see. On the one hand, I saw in these dens (as I had at first called
them) men whom it was impossible for me to help, because they were
working-men, accustomed to labour and privation, and therefore having a
much firmer hold on life than I had. On the other hand, I saw miserable
men whom I could not aid because they were just such as I was myself.
The majority of the poor whom I saw were wretched, merely because they
had lost the capacity, desire, and habit of earning their bread; in
other words, their misery consisted in the fact that they were just like
myself. Whereas, of poor people to whom it was possible to give
immediate assistance--those suffering from illness, cold, and hunger,--I
found none, except the starving Agafia; and I became persuaded that,
being so far removed from the life of those whom I wished to succour, it
was almost impossible to find such need as I sought, because all real
need was attended to by those amongst whom these unhappy creatures
lived: and my principal conviction now was, that, with money, I could
never reform that life of misery which these people led.

I was persuaded of this: yet a feeling of shame to leave off all I had
begun, and self-deception as to my own virtues, made me continue my plan
for some time longer till it died a natural death; thus, only with great
difficulty and the help of Iván Fedotitch, I managed to distribute in
the tavern at Rzhanoff's house the thirty-seven rubles which I
considered were not my own.

Of course I might have continued this style of thing and have
transformed it into a kind of charity; and, by importuning those who
promised to give me money, I might have obtained and distributed more,
thus comforting myself with the idea of my own excellence: but I became
convinced on the one hand that we rich people do not wish,--and are also
unable,--to distribute to the poor a portion of our superfluities (we
have so many wants ourselves), and that money should not be given to any
one if we really wish to do good, instead of merely distributing it at
random as I had done in the Rzhanoff tavern. So I dropped the affair
entirely and in despair quitted Moscow for my own village.

I intended on returning home to write a pamphlet on my experience, and
to state why my project had not succeeded. I wanted to justify myself
from the imputations which resulted from my article on the census; I
wanted also to denounce society and its heartless indifference; and I
desired to point out the causes of this town misery, and the necessity
for endeavouring to remedy it, as well as the means which I thought were
requisite for this purpose. I began even then to write, and fancied I
had many very important facts to communicate. But in vain did I rack my
brain: I could not manage it, notwithstanding the super-abundance of
material at my command, because of the irritation under which I wrote,
and because I had not yet learned by experience what was necessary to
grasp the question rightly; still more because I had not become fully
conscious of the cause of it all,--a very simple cause, deep-rooted in
myself. So the pamphlet was not finished at the commencement of the
present year (1884-1885).

In the matter of moral law we witness a strange phenomenon to which men
pay too little attention. If I speak to an unlearned man about geology,
astronomy, history, natural philosophy, or mathematics, he receives the
information as quite new to him, and never says to me, "There is nothing
new in what you tell me; every one knows it, and I have known it for a
long time." But tell a man one of the highest moral truths in the
simplest manner, in such a way as it has never been before formulated,
and every ordinary man, particularly one who does not take any interest
in moral questions, and, above all, one who dislikes them, is sure to
say, "Who does not know that? It has been always known and expressed."
And he really believes this. Only those who can appreciate moral truths
know how to value their elucidation and simplification by a long and
laborious process, or can prize the transition from a proposition or
desire at first vaguely understood to a firm and determined expression
calling for a corresponding change of conduct.

We are all accustomed to consider moral doctrine to be a very insipid
and dull affair in which there can be nothing new or interesting;
whereas, in reality, human life, with all its complicated and varied
actions which seem to have no connection with morals,--political
activity, activity in the sciences, in the arts, and in commerce,--has
no other object than to elucidate moral truths more and more, and to
confirm, simplify, and make them accessible to all.

I recollect once while walking in a street in Moscow I saw a man come
out and examine the flag-stones attentively; then, choosing one of them,
he sat down by it and began to scrape and rub it vigorously.

"What is he doing with the pavement?" I wondered; and, having come up
close to him, I discovered he was a young man from a butcher's shop, and
was sharpening his knife on the flag-stone. He was not thinking about
the stones when examining them, and still less while doing his work; he
was merely sharpening his knife. It was necessary for him to do so in
order to cut the meat, but to me it seemed that he was doing something
to the pavement.

In the same way mankind seems to be occupied with commerce, treaties,
wars, sciences, arts; and yet for them one thing only is important, and
they do only that,--they are elucidating those moral laws by which they

Moral laws are already in existence, and mankind has been and is merely
re-discovering them: this elucidation appears to be unimportant and
imperceptible to one who has no need of moral law, and who does not
desire to live by it. Yet this is not only the chief but is the sole
business of all men. The elucidation is imperceptible in the same way as
the difference between a sharp knife and a blunt one is imperceptible. A
knife remains a knife; and one who has not to cut anything with it will
not notice its edge: but for one who understands that all his life
depends more or less upon whether his knife is blunt or sharp, every
improvement in sharpening it is important; and such a man knows that
there must be no limit to this improvement, and that the knife is only
really a knife when it is sharp, and when it cuts what it has to cut.

The conviction of this truth flashed upon me when I began to write my
pamphlet. Previously it seemed to me that I knew everything about my
subject, that I had a thorough understanding of everything connected
with those questions which had been awakened in me by the impressions
made in Liapin's house and during the census; but when I tried to sum
them up, and to put them on paper, it turned out that the knife would
not cut, and had to be sharpened: so it is only now after three years
that I feel my knife is sharp enough for me to cut out what I want. It
is not that I have learned new things: my thoughts are still the same;
but they were blunt formerly; they kept diverging in every direction;
there was no edge to them; nor was anything brought, as it is now, to
one central point, to one most simple and plain conclusion.


I recollect that during the whole time of my unsuccessful endeavours to
help the unfortunate inhabitants of Moscow, I felt I was like a man
trying to help others out of a bog, who was all the time stuck fast in
it himself. Every effort made me feel the instability of the ground upon
which I was standing. I felt that I myself was in this bog, but the
acknowledgement did not help me to look more closely under my feet to
find out the nature of the ground on which I stood: I kept looking for
some external means to remedy the evil.

I felt my life was a bad one, and that people ought not to live so; yet
I did not come to the most natural and obvious conclusion: that I must
first reform my own mode of life before I could have any conception of
how to reform others. And so I began at the wrong end, as it were. I was
living in town, and wished to improve the lives of the men there; but I
soon became convinced that I had no power to do so; and then I began to
ponder over the _nature_ of town life and town misery.

I said to myself over and over again, "What is this town life and town
misery? And why, while living in town, am I unable to help the town
poor?" The only reply I found was, that I was powerless to do anything
for them, First, because there were too many collected together in one
place; Secondly, because none of them were at all like those in the
country. And again I asked myself, "Why are there so many here, and in
what do they differ from the country poor?"

To both these questions the answer was the same. The poor are numerous
in towns because all who have nothing to subsist on in the country are
collected there round the rich; and their peculiarity is due to the fact
that they have all come into the towns from the country to get a living.
(If there are any town poor born there, whose fathers and grandfathers
were town born, these in their turn originally came there to get a
living.) But what are we to understand by the expression, "getting a
living in town"? There is something strange in the expression; it sounds
like a joke when we reflect on its meaning. How is it that from the
country,--i.e., from places where there are woods, meadows, corn and
cattle, where the earth yields the treasures of fertility--men come
away, to get a living in a place where there are none of these
advantages, but only stones and dust? What then, do the words, "getting
a living in town," mean?

Such a phrase is constantly used, both by the employed and their
employers, as if it were quite clear and intelligible. I remember now
all the hundreds and thousands of town people living well or ill with
whom I had spoken about their object in coming here; and all of them,
without exception, told me they had quitted their villages "to get a
living"; that "Moscow neither sows nor reaps, yet lives in wealth"; that
in Moscow there is abundance of everything; and that, therefore, in
Moscow one may get the money which is needed in the country for corn,
cottages, horses, and the other essentials of life.

But, in fact, the country is the source of all wealth; there, only, are
real riches,--corn, woods, horses, and everything necessary. Why go to
towns, then, to get what is to be had in the country? And why should
people carry away from the country into the towns the things that are
necessary for country people,--flour, oats, horses, and cattle?

Hundreds of times I have spoken thus with peasants who live in towns;
and from my talks with them, and from my own observations, it became
clear to me that the accumulation of country people in our cities is
partly _necessary_, because they could not otherwise earn their
livelihood, and partly voluntary, because they are attracted by the
temptations of a town life.

It is true that the circumstances of a peasant are such, that, in order
to satisfy the pecuniary demands made on him in his village, he cannot
do otherwise than sell that corn and cattle which he knows very well
will be necessary for himself; and he is compelled, whether he will or
not, to go to town to earn back what was his own. But it is also true
that he is attracted to town by the charms of a comparatively easy way
of getting money, and by the luxury of life there; and, under the
pretext of earning his living, he goes there in order to have easier
work and better food, to drink tea three times a day, to dress himself
smartly, and even to get drunk and lead a dissolute life.

The cause is a simple one; for property passing from the hands of the
agriculturalists into those of non-agriculturalists accumulates in
towns. Observe towards autumn how much wealth is gathered together in
the villages. Then come the demands of taxes, rents, recruiting; then
the temptations of vodka, marriages, feasts, peddlers, and all sorts of
other snares; so that in one way or other, this property, all in its
various forms (sheep, calves, cows, horses, pigs, poultry, eggs, butter,
hemp, flax, rye, oats, buckwheat, peas, hemp-seed, and flax-seed),
passes into the hands of strangers, and is taken first to provincial
towns, and thence to the capitals. A villager is compelled to dispose of
all these things in order to satisfy the demands made upon him and the
temptations offered him; and, having thus parted with his goods, he is
left in want, and must follow where his wealth has been taken; and there
he tries to earn back the money which is necessary for his most urgent
needs at home; and so, being partly carried away by these temptations,
he himself, along with others, makes use of the accumulated wealth.

Everywhere throughout Russia, and, I think, not only in Russia but all
over the world, the same thing happens. The wealth of the country people
who produce it passes into the hands of tradespeople, landowners,
government officials, manufacturers. The men who receive this wealth
want to enjoy it, and to enjoy it fully they must be in town.

In the country, in the first place, it is difficult for the rich to
gratify all their desires, owing to the inhabitants being scattered: you
do not find there the shops, banks, restaurants, theatres, and various
kinds of public amusements.

Secondly, another of the chief pleasures procured by wealth,--vanity,
the desire to astonish, to make a display before others,--cannot be
gratified in the country for the same reason: its inhabitants being too
scattered. There is no one in the country to appreciate luxury; there is
no one to astonish. There you may have what you like to embellish your
dwelling,--pictures, bronze statues, all sorts of carriages, and fine
toilets,--but there is nobody to look at them or to envy you. The
peasants do not understand the value of all this, and cannot make head
or tail of it. Thirdly, luxury in the country is even disagreeable to a
man who has a conscience, and is an anxiety to a timid person. One feels
uneasy or ashamed at taking a milk bath, or in feeding puppies with
milk, when there are children close by needing it; one feels the same in
building pavilions and gardens among a people who live in cottages
covered with stable litter, and who have no wood to burn.

There is no one in the village to prevent the stupid, uneducated
peasants from spoiling our comforts.

Therefore, rich people gather together in towns, and settle near those
who, in similar positions, have similar desires. In towns, the enjoyment
of luxuries is carefully protected by a numerous police. The principal
inhabitants of towns are government officials, round whom all the rich
people, master-workmen, and artisans have settled. There, a rich man has
only to think about a thing, and he can get it. It is also more
agreeable for him to live there, because he can gratify his vanity;
there are people with whom he may try to compete in luxury, whom he may
astonish or eclipse. But it is especially pleasant for a wealthy man to
live in town, because, where his country life was uncomfortable, and
even somewhat incongruous because of his luxury, in town, on the
contrary, it would be uncomfortable for him _not_ to live splendidly, as
his equals in wealth do. What seemed out of place there, appears
indispensable here.

Rich people collect together in towns, and, under the protection of the
authorities, enjoy peacefully all that has been brought there by the
villagers. A countryman often cannot help going to town, where a
ceaseless round of feasting is going on, where what has been procured
from the peasants is being spent. He comes into the town to feed on
those crumbs which fall from the tables of the rich; and partly by
observing the careless, luxurious, and generally approved mode of living
of these men, he begins to desire to order his own affairs in such a
manner that he, too, may be able to work less and avail himself more of
the labour of others. At last he decides to settle down in the
neighbourhood of the wealthy, trying by every means in his power to get
back from them what is necessary for him, and submitting to all the
conditions which the rich enforce. These country people assist in
gratifying all the fancies of the wealthy: they serve them in public
baths, in taverns, as coachmen, and as prostitutes. They manufacture
carriages, make toys and dresses, and little by little learn from their
wealthy neighbours how to live like them, not by real labour, but by all
sorts of tricks, squeezing out from others the money they have
collected,--and so they become depraved, and are ruined.

It is then this same population, depraved by the wealth of towns, which
forms that city misery which I wished to relieve, but could not.

Indeed, if one only reflects on the condition of these country folk
coming to town to earn money to buy bread or to pay taxes, and who see
everywhere thousands of rubles squandered foolishly, and hundreds very
easily earned while they have to earn their pence by the hardest of
labour, one cannot but be astonished that there are still many such
people at work, and that they do not all have recourse to a more easy
way of getting money,--trading, begging, vice, cheating, and even

It is only we who join in the ceaseless orgie going on in the towns who
can get so accustomed to our own mode of life that it seems quite
natural to us that one fine gentleman should occupy five large rooms
heated with sufficient firewood to enable twenty families to warm their
homes and cook their food with. To drive a short distance, we employ two
thoroughbreds and two men; we cover our inlaid floors with carpets, and
spend five or ten thousand rubles on a ball, or even twenty-five for a
Christmas-tree, and so on. Yet a man who needs ten rubles to buy bread
for his family, or from whom his last sheep has been taken to meet a tax
of seven rubles which he cannot save by the hardest of labour, cannot
get accustomed to all this which we imagine must seem quite natural to
the poor. There are even people _naïve_ enough to say that the poor are
thankful to us because we feed them by living so luxuriously!

But poor people do not lose their reasoning powers because they are
poor: they reason quite in the same manner as we do. When we have heard
that some one has lost a fortune at cards, or squandered ten or twenty
thousand rubles, the first thought that comes into our minds is: "How
stupid and bad this man must be to have parted with such a large sum
without any equivalent; and how well _I_ could have employed this money
for some building I have long wanted to get done, or for the improvement
of my estate," and so on.

The poor reason in the same way on seeing how foolishly we waste our
wealth; all the more forcibly, because this money is needed, not to
satisfy their _whims_, but for the chief necessaries of life, of which
they are in want. We are greatly mistaken in thinking that the poor,
while able to reason thus, still look on unconcernedly at the luxury
around them.

They have never acknowledged, and never will, that it is right for one
man to be always idling, and for another to be continually working. At
first they are astonished and offended; then, looking closer into the
question, they see that this state of things is acknowledged to be
legal, and they themselves try to get rid of work, and to take part in
the feasting. Some succeed in so doing, and acquire similar wanton
habits; others, little by little, approach such a condition; others
break down before they reach their object, and, having lost the habit of
working, fill the night-houses and the haunts of vice.

The year before last we took from the village a young peasant to be our
butler's assistant. He could not agree with the footman, and was sent
away; he entered the service of a merchant, pleased his masters, and now
wears a watch and chain, and has smart boots.

In his place we took another peasant, a married man. He turned out a
drunkard, and lost money. We took a third: he began to drink, and,
having drunk all he had, was for a long time in distress in a
night-lodging-house. Our old cook took to drinking in the town, and fell
ill. Last year a footman who used formerly to have fits of drunkenness,
but who, while living in the village kept himself from it for five
years, came to live in Moscow without his wife (who used to keep him in
order), began again to drink, and ruined himself. A young boy of our
village is living as butler's assistant at my brother's. His
grandfather, a blind old man, came to me while I was living in the
country, and asked me to persuade this grandson to send ten rubles for
taxes, because, unless this were done, the cow would have to be sold.

"He keeps telling me that he has to dress himself respectably," said the
old man. "He got himself long boots, and that ought to be enough; but I
actually believe he would like to buy a watch!"

In these words the grandfather expressed what he felt was the utmost
degree of extravagance. And this was really so; for the old man could
not afford a drop of oil for his food during the whole of Lent, and his
wood was spoilt because he had not the ruble and a quarter necessary for
cutting it up. But the old man's irony turned out to be reality. His
grandson came to me dressed in a fine black overcoat, and in long boots
for which he had paid eight rubles. Recently he had got ten rubles from
my brother, and spent them on his boots. And my children, who have known
the boy from his infancy, told me that he really considers it necessary
to buy a watch. He is a very good boy, but he considers that he will be
laughed at for not having one.

This year a housemaid, eighteen years of age, formed an intimacy with
the coachman, and was sent away. Our old nurse, to whom I related the
case, reminded me of a girl whom I had quite forgotten. Ten years ago,
during a short stay in Moscow, she formed an intimacy with a footman.
She also was sent away, and drifted at last into a house of ill-fame,
and died in a hospital before she was twenty years of age.

We have only to look around us to become alarmed by the infection which
(to say nothing of manufactories and workshops existing only to gratify
our luxury) we directly, by our luxurious town life, spread among those
very people whom we desire afterwards to help.

Thus, having got at the root of that town misery which I was not able to
alleviate, I saw that its first cause is in our taking from the
villagers their necessaries and carrying them to town. The second cause
is, that in those towns we avail ourselves of what we have gathered from
the country, and, by our foolish luxury, tempt and deprave the peasants
who follow us there in order to get back something of what we have taken
from them in the country.


From another point of view than the one stated, I also came to the same
conclusion. Recollecting my connection with the town-poor during this
period, I saw that one cause which prevented me from helping them was
their insincerity and falseness. They all considered me, not as an
individual but merely as a means to an end. I felt I could not become
intimate with them; I thought I did not perhaps understand how to do so;
but without truthfulness, no help was possible. How can one help a man
who does not tell all his circumstances? Formerly I accused the poor of
this (it is so natural to accuse others), but one word spoken by a
remarkable man, Sutaief, who was then on a visit at my house, cleared up
the difficulty, and showed me wherein lay the cause of my failure.

I remember that even then what he said made a deep impression on me; but
I did not understand its full meaning until afterwards. It happened that
while in the full ardour of my self-deception I was at my sister's
house, Sutaief being also there; and my sister was questioning me about
my work.

I was relating it to her; and, as is always the case when one does not
fully believe in one's own enterprises, I related with great enthusiasm,
ardour, and at full length, all I had been doing, and all the possible
results. I was telling her how we should keep our eyes open to what went
on in Moscow; how we should take care of orphans and old people; how we
should afford means for impoverished villagers to return to their homes,
and pave the way to reform the depraved. I explained, that, if we
succeeded in our undertaking, there would not be in Moscow a single poor
man who could not find help.

My sister sympathized with me; and while speaking, I kept looking now
and then at Sutaief; knowing his Christian life, and the importance
attached by him to works of charity, I expected sympathy from him, and I
spoke so that he might understand me; for, though I was addressing my
sister, yet my conversation was really more directed to him.

He sat immovable, dressed in his black-tanned-sheepskin coat, which he,
like other peasants, wore in-doors as well as out. It seemed that he was
not listening to us, but was thinking about something else. His small
eyes gave no responding gleam, but seemed to be turned inwards. Having
spoken out to my own satisfaction, I turned to him and asked him what he
thought about it.

"The whole thing is worthless," he replied.


"The plan is an empty one, and no good will come of it," he repeated
with conviction.

"But why will nothing come of it? Why is it a useless business, if we
help thousands, or even hundreds, of unhappy ones? Is it a bad thing,
according to the gospel, to clothe the naked, or to feed the hungry?"

"I know, I know; but what you are doing is not that. Is it possible to
help thus? You are walking in the street; somebody asks you for a few
kopeks; you give them to him. Is that charity? Do him some spiritual
good; teach him. What you give him merely says, 'Leave me alone.'"

"No; but that is not what we were speaking of: we wish to become
acquainted with the wants, and then to help by money and by deeds. We
will try to find for the poor people some work to do."

"That would be no way of helping them."

"How then? must they be left to die of starvation and cold?"

"Why left to die? How many are there of them?"

"How many?" said I, thinking that he took the matter so lightly from not
knowing the great number of these men; "you are not aware, I dare say,
that there are in Moscow about twenty thousand cold and hungry. And
then, think of those in St. Petersburg and other towns!"

He smiled.

"Twenty thousand! And how many households are there in Russia alone?
Would they amount to a million?"

"Well; but what of that?"

"What of that?" said he, with animation, and his eyes sparkled. "Let us
unite them with ourselves; I am not rich myself, but will at once take
two of them. Here is a fellow you settled in your kitchen; I asked him
to go with me, but he refused. If there were ten times as many, we
should take them all into our families. You one, I another. We shall
work together; he will see how I work; he will learn how to live, and we
shall eat out of one bowl, at one table; and they will hear a good word
from me, and from you also. That is charity; but all this plan of yours
is no good."

These plain words made an impression upon me. I could not help
recognizing that they were true. But it seemed to me then, that,
notwithstanding the justice of what he said, my proposed plan might
perhaps be useful also.

But the longer I was occupied with this affair; and the closer my
intercourse with the poor, the oftener I recollected these words and the
greater meaning I found in them.

I, indeed, go in an expensive fur coat, or drive in my own carriage to a
man who is in want of boots: he sees my house which costs two hundred
rubles a month, or he notices that I give away, without thinking, five
rubles, only because of a caprice; he is then aware that if I give away
rubles in such a manner, it is because I have accumulated so many that I
have a lot to spare which I am not only never in the habit of giving to
any one, but which I have taken away from others without compunction.
What can he see in me but one of those persons who have become possessed
of something which should belong to him? And what other feelings can he
have towards me than the desire to get back as many as possible of these
rubles which were taken by me from him and from others?

I should like to become intimate with him, and complain that he is not
sincere. But I am afraid to sit down upon his bed for fear of lice or
some infectious disease; I am also afraid to let him come into my room;
and when he comes to me half-dressed, he has to wait, if fortunate, in
the entrance-hall, but oftener in the cold porch. And then I say that it
is all his fault that I cannot become intimate with him, and that he is
not sincere.

Let the most hard-hearted man sit down to dine upon five courses among
hungry people who have little or nothing to eat except dry bread, and no
one could have the heart to eat while these hungry people are around him
licking their lips.

Therefore, before one can eat well when living among half-starved men,
the first thing necessary is to hide ourselves from them, and to eat so
that they may not see us. This is the very thing we do in the first

I looked into our own mode of life without prejudice, and became aware
that it was not by chance that closer intercourse with the poor is
difficult for us, but that we ourselves are intentionally ordering our
lives in such a way as to make this intercourse impossible. And not only
this; but, on looking at our lives, or at the lives of rich people from
without, I saw that all that is considered as the _happiness_ of these
lives consists in being separated as much as possible from the poor, or
is in some way or other connected with this desired separation.

In fact, the entire aim of our lives, beginning with food, dress,
dwelling and cleanliness, and ending with our education, consists in
placing a gulf between us and them. And we spend nine-tenths of our
wealth to erect impassable barriers in order to establish this
distinction and separation.

The first thing a man who has grown rich does is to leave off eating
with others out of one bowl. He arranges plates for himself and his
family, and separates himself from the kitchen and the servants. He
feeds his servants well so that their mouths may not water, and he dines
alone. But eating alone is dull. He invents whatever he can to improve
his food, embellish his table; and the very manner of taking food, as at
dinner-parties, becomes a matter of vanity and pride. His manner of
eating his food is a means of separating himself from other people. For
a rich man it is out of the question to invite a poor person to his
table. One must know how to hand a lady to table, how to bow, how to
sit, to eat, to use a finger-bowl, all of which the rich alone know how
to do.

The same holds good with dress.

If a rich man wore ordinary dress,--a jacket, a fur coat, felt shoes,
leather boots, an undercoat, trousers, a shirt,--he would require very
little to cover his body and protect it from cold; and, having two fur
coats, he could not help giving one away to somebody who had none. But
the wealthy man begins with wearing clothes which consist of many
separate parts, of use only on particular occasions, and therefore of no
use to a poor man. The man of fashion must have evening dress-coats,
waistcoats, frock-coats, patent-leather shoes; his wife must have
bodices, and dresses which, according to fashion, are made of many
parts, high-heeled shoes, hunting and travelling jackets, and so on. All
these articles can be useful only to people in a condition far removed
from poverty.

And thus dressing also becomes a means of isolation. Fashions make their
appearance, and are among the chief things which separate the rich man
from the poor one.

The same thing shows itself more plainly still in our dwellings. In
order that one person may occupy ten rooms we must manage so that he may
not be seen by the people who are living by tens in one room.

The richer a man is, the more difficult it is to get at him; the more
footmen there are between him and people not rich, the more impossible
it is for him to receive a poor guest, to let him walk on his carpets
and sit on his satin-covered chairs.

The same thing happens in travelling. A peasant who drives in a cart or
on a carrier's sledge must be very hard-hearted if he refuses to give a
pedestrian a lift; he has enough room, and can do it. But the richer the
carriage is, the more impossible it is to put any one in it besides the
owner. Some of the most elegant carriages are so narrow as to be termed

The same thing applies to all the modes of living expressed by the word
"cleanliness." Cleanliness! Who does not know human beings, especially
women, who make a great virtue of cleanliness? Who does not know the
various phrases of this cleanliness, which have no limit whatever when
it is procured by the labour of others? Who among self-made men has not
experienced in his own person the pains with which he carefully
accustomed himself to this cleanliness, which illustrates the saying,
"White hands are fond of another's labour"?

To-day cleanliness consists in changing one's shirt daily; to-morrow it
will be changed twice a day. At first, one has to wash one's hands and
neck every day, then one will have to wash one's feet every day, and
afterwards it will be the whole body, and in peculiar methods. A clean
table-cloth serves for two days, then it is changed every day, and
afterwards two table-cloths a day are used. To-day the footman is
required to have clean hands; to-morrow he must wear gloves, and clean
gloves, and he must hand the letters on a clean tray.

There are no limits to this cleanliness, which is of no other use to
anyone except to separate us, and to make our intercourse with others
impossible while the cleanliness is obtained through the labour of

Not only so, but when I had deeply reflected upon this, I came to the
conclusion that what we term education is a similar thing. Language
cannot deceive: it gives the right name to everything. The common people
call education fashionable dress, smart conversation, white hands, and a
certain degree of cleanliness. Of such a man they say, when
distinguishing him from others, that he is an educated man.

In a little higher circle men denote by education the same things, but
add playing on the piano, the knowledge of French, good Russian
spelling, and still greater cleanliness.

In the still higher circle education consists of all this, with the
addition of English, and a diploma from a high educational
establishment, and a still greater degree of cleanliness. But in all
these shades, education is in substance quite the same.

It consists in those forms and various kinds of information which
separate a man from his fellow-creatures. Its object is the same as that
of cleanliness: to separate us from the crowd, in order that they,
hungry and cold, may not see how we feast. But it is impossible to hide
ourselves, and our efforts are seen through.

Thus I became aware that the reason why it was impossible for us rich
men to help the town poor was nothing more or less than the
impossibility of our having closer intercourse with them, and that this
barrier we ourselves create by our whole life and by all the uses we
make of our wealth. I became persuaded that between us rich men and the
poor there stood, erected by ourselves, a barrier of cleanliness and
education which arose out of our wealth; and that, in order to be able
to help them, we have first to break down this barrier and to render
possible the realization of the means suggested by Sutaief: to take the
poor into our respective homes. And so, as I have already said at the
beginning of this chapter, I came to the same conclusion from a
different point of view from that to which the train of thought about
town misery had led me; viz., the cause of it all lay in our wealth.


I began again to analyze the matter from a third and purely personal
point of view. Among the phenomena which particularly impressed me
during my benevolent activity, there was one,--a very strange
one,--which I could not understand for a long time.

Whenever I happened, in the street or at home, to give a poor person a
trifling sum without entering into conversation with him, I saw on his
face, or imagined I saw, an expression of pleasure and gratitude, and I
myself experienced an agreeable feeling at this form of charity. I saw
that I had done what was expected of me. But when I stopped and began to
question the man about his past and present life, entering more or less
into particulars, I felt it was impossible to give him 3 or 20 kopeks;
and I always began to finger the money in my purse, and, not knowing how
much to give, I always gave more under these circumstances; but,
nevertheless, I saw that the poor man went away from me dissatisfied.
When I entered into still closer intercourse with him, my doubts as to
how much I should give increased; and, no matter what I gave, the
recipient seemed more and more gloomy and dissatisfied.

As a general rule, it always happens that if, upon nearer acquaintance
with the poor man I gave him three rubles or even more, I always saw
gloominess, dissatisfaction, even anger depicted on his face; and
sometimes, after having received from me ten rubles, he has left me
without even thanking me, as if I had offended him.

In such cases I was always uncomfortable and ashamed, and felt myself
guilty. When I watched the poor person during weeks, months, or years,
helped him, expressed my views, and became intimate with him, then our
intercourse became a torment, and I saw that the man despised me. And I
felt that he was right in doing so. When in the street a beggar asks me,
along with other passers-by, for three kopeks, and I give it him, then,
in his estimation, I am a kind and good man who gives "one of the
threads which go to make the shirt of a naked one": he expects nothing
more than a thread, and, if I give it, he sincerely blesses me.

But if I stop and speak to him as man to man, show him that I wish to be
more than a mere passer-by, and, if, as it often happened, he shed tears
in relating his misfortune, then he sees in me not merely a chance
helper, but that which I wish him to see,--a kind man. If I am a kind
man, my kindness cannot stop at twenty kopeks, or at ten rubles, or ten
thousand. One cannot be a slightly kind man. Let us suppose that I give
him much; that I put him straight, dress him, and set him on his legs so
that he can help himself; but, from some reason or other, either from an
accident or his own weakness, he again loses the great-coat and clothing
and money I gave him, he is again hungry and cold, and he again comes to
me, why should I refuse him assistance? For if the cause of my
benevolent activity was merely the attainment of some definite, material
object, such as giving him so many rubles or a certain great-coat, then,
having given them I could be easy in my mind; but the cause of my
activity was not this: the cause of it was my desire to be a kind
man--i.e., to see myself in everybody else. Everyone understands
kindness in this way, and not otherwise.

Therefore if such a man should spend in drink all you gave him twenty
times over, and be again hungry and cold, then, if you are a benevolent
man, you cannot help giving him more money, you can never leave off
doing so while you have more than he has; but if you draw back, you show
that all you did before was done not because you are benevolent, but
because you wish to appear so to others and to him. And it was because I
had to back out of such cases, and to cease to give, and thus to disown
the good, that I felt a painful sense of shame.

What was this feeling, then?

I had experienced it in Liapin's house and in the country, and when I
happened to give money or anything else to the poor, and in my
adventures among the town people. One case which occurred lately
reminded me of it forcibly, and led me to discover its cause.

It happened in the country. I wanted twenty kopeks to give to a pilgrim.
I sent my son to borrow it from somebody. He brought it to the man, and
told me that he had borrowed it from the cook. Some days after, other
pilgrims came, and I was again in need of twenty kopeks. I had a ruble.
I recollected what I owed the cook, went into the kitchen, hoping that
he would have some more coppers. I said,--

"I owe you twenty kopeks: here is a ruble."

I had not yet done speaking when the cook called to his wife from the
adjoining room: "Parasha, take it," he said.

Thinking she had understood what I wanted, I gave her the ruble. I must
tell you that the cook had been living at our house about a week, and I
had seen his wife, but had never spoken to her. I merely wished to tell
her to give me the change, when she briskly bowed herself over my hand
and was about to kiss it, evidently thinking I was giving her the ruble.
I stammered out something and left the kitchen. I felt ashamed,
painfully ashamed, as I had not felt for a long time. I actually
trembled, and felt that I was making a wry face; and, groaning with
shame, I ran away from the kitchen.

This feeling, which I fancied I had not deserved, and which came over me
quite unexpectedly, impressed me particularly, because it was so long
since I had felt anything like it and also because I fancied that I, an
old man, had been living in a way I had no reason to be ashamed of.

This surprised me greatly. I related the case to my family, to my
acquaintances, and they all agreed that they also would have felt the
same. And I began to reflect: Why is it that I felt so?

The answer came from a case which had formerly occurred to me in Moscow.
I reflected upon this case, and I understood the shame which I felt
concerning the incident with the cook's wife, and all the sensations of
shame I had experienced during my charitable activity in Moscow, and
which I always feel when I happen to give anything beyond trifling alms
to beggars and pilgrims, which I am accustomed to give, and which I
consider not as charity, but as politeness and good breeding. If a man
asks you for a light, you must light a match if you have it. If a man
begs for three or twenty kopeks, or a few rubles, you must give if you
have them. It is a question of politeness, not of charity.

The following is the case I referred to. I have already spoken about the
two peasants with whom I sawed wood three years ago. One Saturday
evening, in the twilight, I was walking with them back to town. They
were going to their master to receive their wages. On crossing the
Dragomilor bridge we met an old man. He begged, and I gave him twenty
kopeks. I gave, thinking what a good impression my alms would make upon
Simon, with whom I had been speaking on religious questions.

Simon, the peasant from Vladímir, who had a wife and two children in
Moscow, also stopped, turned up the lappet of his kaftan, and took out
his purse; and, after having looked over his money, he picked out a
three-kopek piece, gave it to the old man, and asked for two kopeks
back. The old man showed him in his hand two three-kopek pieces and a
single kopek. Simon looked at it, was about to take one kopek, but,
changing his mind, took off his cap, crossed himself, and went away,
leaving the old man the three-kopek piece.

I was acquainted with all Simon's pecuniary circumstances. He had
neither house nor other property. When he gave the old man the three
kopeks, he possessed six rubles and fifty kopeks, which he had been
saving up, and this was all the capital he had.

My property amounted to about six hundred thousand rubles. I had a wife
and children, so also had Simon. He was younger than I, and had not so
many children; but his children were young, and two of mine were
grown-up men, old enough to work, so that our circumstances,
independently of our property, were alike, though even in this respect I
was better off than he.

He gave three kopeks, I gave twenty. What was, then, the difference in
our gifts? What should I have given in order to do as he had done? He
had six hundred kopeks; out of these he gave one, and then another two.
I had six hundred thousand rubles. In order to give as much as Simon
gave, I ought to have given three thousand rubles, and asked the man to
give me back two thousand; and, in the event of his not having change,
to leave him these two also, cross myself, and go away calmly,
conversing about how people live in the manufactories, and what is the
price of liver in the Smolensk market.

I thought about it at the time, but it was long before I was able to
draw from this case the conclusion which inevitably follows from it.
This conclusion appears to be so uncommon and strange, notwithstanding
its mathematical accuracy, that it requires time to get accustomed to
it. One is inclined to think there is some mistake, but there is none.
It is only the terrible darkness of prejudice in which we live.

This conclusion, when I arrived at it and recognized its inevitableness,
explained to me the nature of my feelings of shame in the presence of
the cook's wife, and before all the poor to whom I gave and still give
money. Indeed, what is that money which I give to the poor, and which
the cook's wife thought I was giving her? In the majority of cases it
forms such a minute part of my income that it cannot be expressed in a
fraction comprehensible to Simon or to a cook's wife,--it is in most
cases a millionth part or thereabout. I give so little that my gift is
not, and cannot be, a sacrifice to me: it is only a something with which
I amuse myself when and how it pleases me. And this was indeed how my
cook's wife had understood me. If I gave a stranger in the street a
ruble or twenty kopeks, why should I not give her also a ruble? To her,
such a distribution of money is the same thing as a gentleman throwing
gingerbread nuts into a crowd. It is the amusement of people who possess
much "fool's money." I was ashamed, because the mistake of the cook's
wife showed me plainly what ideas she and all poor people must have of
me. "He is throwing away 'fool's money'"; that is, money not earned by

And, indeed, what is my money, and how did I come by it? One part of it
I collected in the shape of rent for my land, which I had inherited from
my father. The peasant sold his last sheep or cow in order to pay it.

Another part of my money I received from the books I had written. If my
books are harmful, and yet sell, they can only do so by some seductive
attraction, and the money which I receive for them is badly earned
money; but if my books are useful, the thing is still worse. I do not
give them to people, but say, "Give me so many rubles, and I will sell
them to you."

As in the former case a peasant sells his last sheep, here a poor
student or a teacher does it: each poor person who buys denies himself
some necessary thing in order to give me this money. And now that I have
gathered much of such money what am I to do with it? I take it to town,
give it to the poor only when they satisfy all my fancies and come to
town to clean pavements, lamps, or boots, to work for me in the
factories, and so on. And with this money I draw from them all I can. I
try to give them as little as I can and take from them as much as

Now, quite unexpectedly, I begin to share all this said money with these
same poor persons for nothing; but not with everyone, only as fancy
prompts me. And why should not every poor man expect that his turn might
come to-day to be one of those with whom I amuse myself by giving them
my "fool's money"?

So everyone regards me as the cook's wife did. And I had gone about with
the notion that this was charity,--this taking away thousands with one
hand, and with the other throwing kopeks to those I select!

No wonder I was ashamed. But before I can begin to do good I must leave
off the evil and put myself in a position in which I should cease to
cause it. But all my course of life is evil. If I were to give away a
hundred thousand, I should not yet have put myself in a condition in
which I could do good, because I have still five hundred thousand left.

It is only when I possess nothing at all that I shall be able to do a
little good; such as, for instance, the poor prostitute did who nursed a
sick woman and her child for three days. Yet this seemed to me to be but
so little! And _I_ ventured to think of doing good! One thing only was
true, which I at first felt on seeing the hungry and cold people outside
Liapin's house,--that _I_ was guilty of that; and that to live as I did
was impossible, utterly impossible. What shall we do then? If somebody
still needs an answer to this question, I will, by God's permission,
give one, in detail.


It was hard for me to own this; but when I had got so far I was
terrified at the delusion in which I had been living. I had been head
over ears in the mud myself, and yet I had been trying to drag others
out of it.

What is it that I really want? I want to do good; I want to contrive so
that no human beings shall be hungry and cold, and that men may live as
it is proper for them to live. I desire this; and I see that in
consequence of all sorts of violence, extortions, and various expedients
in which I too take part, the working people are deprived of the
necessary things, and the non-working community, to whom I also belong,
monopolize the labour of others. I see that this use of other people's
labour is distributed thus: That the more cunning and complicated the
devices employed by the man himself (or by those from whom he has
inherited his property), the more largely he employs the labours of
other people, and the less he works himself.

First come the millionaires; then the wealthy bankers, merchants,
land-owners, government officials; then the smaller bankers, merchants,
government officials and land-owners, to whom I belong too; then
shopmen, publicans, usurers, police sergeants and inspectors, teachers,
sacristans, clerks; then, again, house-porters, footmen, coachmen,
water-carters, cabmen, pedlers; and then, last of all, the workmen,
factory hands and peasants, the number of this class in proportion to
the former being as ten to one.

I see that the lives of nine-tenths of the working people essentially
require exertion and labour, like every other natural mode of living;
but that, in consequence of the devices by which the necessaries of life
are taken away from these people, their lives become every year more
difficult, and more beset with privations; and our lives, the lives of
the non-labouring community, owing to the co-operation of sciences and
arts which have this very end in view, become every year more sumptuous,
more attractive and secure.

I see that in our days the life of a labouring man, and especially the
lives of the old people, women, and children of the working-classes, are
quite worn away by increased labour out of proportion to their
nourishment, and that even the very first necessaries of life are not
secured for them. I see that side by side with these the lives of the
non-labouring class, to which I belong, are each year more and more
filled up with superfluities and luxury, and are becoming continually
more secure. The lives of the wealthy have reached that degree of
security of which in olden times men only dreamed in fairy-tales, to the
condition of the owner of the magic purse with the "inexhaustible
ruble"; to a state where a man not only is entirely free from the law of
labour for the sustenance of his life, but has the possibility of
enjoying all the goods of this life without working, and of bequeathing
to his children, or to anyone he chooses, this purse with the
"inexhaustible ruble."

I see that the results of the labour of men pass over more than ever
from the masses of labourers to those of the non-labourers; that the
pyramid of the social structure is, as it were, being rebuilt, so that
the stones of the foundation pass to the top, and the rapidity of this
passage increases in a kind of geometric progression.

I see that there is going on something like what would take place in an
ant-hill if the society of ants should lose the sense of the general
law, and some of them were to take the results of labour out of the
foundations and carry them to the top of the hill, making the foundation
narrower and narrower and thus enlarging the top, and so by that means
cause their fellows to pass also from the foundation to the top.

I see that instead of the ideal of a laborious life, men have created
the ideal of the purse with the "inexhaustible ruble." The rich, I among
their number, arrange this ruble for themselves by various devices; and
in order to enjoy it we locate ourselves in towns, in a place where
nothing is produced but everything is swallowed up.

The poor labouring man, swindled so that the rich may have this magic
ruble, follows them to town; and there he also has recourse to tricks,
either arranging matters so that he may work little and enjoy much (thus
making the condition of other workingmen still more heavy), or, not
having attained this state, he ruins himself and drifts into the
continually and rapidly increasing number of cold and hungry tenants of

I belong to the class of those men who by means of these various devices
take away from the working people the necessaries of life, and who thus,
as it were, create for themselves the inexhaustible fairy ruble which
tempts in turn these unfortunate ones.

I wish to help men; and therefore it is clear that first of all I ought
on the one side to cease to plunder them as I am doing now, and on the
other to leave off tempting them. But by means of most complicated,
cunning, and wicked contrivances practised for centuries, I have made
myself the owner of this ruble; that is, have got into a condition
where, never doing anything myself, I can compel hundreds and thousands
of people to work for me, and I am really availing myself of this
privileged monopoly notwithstanding that all the time I imagine I pity
these men and wish to help them.

I sit on the neck of a man, and having quite crushed him down compel him
to carry me and will not alight from off his shoulders, though I assure
myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his
condition by every means in my power--except by getting off his back.

Surely this is plain. If I wish to help the poor, that is, to make the
poor cease to be poor, I ought not to create the poor. Yet I give money
capriciously to those who have gone astray, and take away tens of rubles
from men who have not yet become bad, thereby making them poor and at
the same time depraved.

This is very clear; but it was exceedingly difficult for me to
understand at first, without some modification or reserve which would
justify my position. However as soon as I come to see my own error, all
that formerly appeared strange, complicated, clouded, and inexplicable,
became quite simple and intelligible; but the important matter was, that
the direction of my life indicated by this explanation, became at once,
simple, clear, and agreeable, instead of being, as formerly, intricate,
incomprehensible, and painful.

Who am I, I thought, that desire to better men's condition? I say I
desire this, and yet I do not get up till noon, after having played
cards in a brilliantly lighted saloon all night,--I, an enfeebled and
effeminate man requiring the help and services of hundreds of people, I
come to help them! to help these men who rise at five, sleep on boards,
feed on cabbage and bread, understand how to plough, to reap, to put a
handle to an axe, to hew, to harness horses, to sew; men who, by their
strength and perseverance and skill and self-restraint are a hundred
times stronger than I who come to help them.

What _could_ I experience in my intercourse with these people but shame?
The weakest of them, a drunkard, an inhabitant of Rzhanoff's house, he
whom they call "the sluggard," is a hundred times more laborious than I;
his balance, so to say,--in other words the relation between what he
takes from men and what he gives to them,--is a thousand times more to
his credit than mine when I count what I receive from others and what I
give them in return. And such men I go to assist!

I go to help the poor. But of the two who is the poorer? No one is
poorer than myself. I am a weak, good-for-nothing parasite who can only
exist under very peculiar conditions, can live only when thousands of
people labour to support this life which is not useful to anyone. And I,
this very caterpillar which eats up the leaves of a tree, I wish to help
the growth and the health of the tree and to cure it!

All my life is spent thus: I eat, talk, and listen; then I eat, write,
or read, which are only talking and listening in another form; I eat
again, and play; then eat, talk, and listen, and finally eat and go to
sleep: and thus every day is spent; I neither do anything else nor
understand how to do it. And in order that I may enjoy this life it is
necessary that from morning till night house-porters, dvorniks, cooks
(male and female), footmen, coachmen, and laundresses, should work; to
say nothing of the manual labour necessary so that the coachmen, cooks,
footmen, and others may have the instruments and articles by which and
upon which they work for me,--axes, casks, brushes, dishes, furniture,
glasses, shoe-black, kerosene, hay, wood, and food. All these men and
women work hard all the day and every day in order that I may talk, eat,
and sleep. And I, this useless man, imagined I was able to benefit the
very people who were serving me! That I did not benefit any one and that
I was ashamed of myself, is not so strange as the fact that such a
foolish idea ever came into my mind.

The woman who nursed the sick old man helped him; the peasant's wife,
who cut a slice of her bread earned by herself, from the very sowing of
the corn that made it, helped the hungry one; Simon, who gave three
kopeks which he had earned, assisted the pilgrim, because these three
kopeks really represented his labour; but I had served nobody, worked
for no one, and knew very well that my money did not represent my

And so I felt that in money, or in money's worth, and in the possession
of it, there was something wrong and evil; that the money itself, and
the fact of my having it, was one of the chief causes of those evils
which I had seen before me; and I asked myself, What is money?


Money! Then what is money?

It is answered, money represents labour. I meet educated people who even
assert that money represents labour performed by those who possess it. I
confess that I myself formerly shared this opinion, although I did not
very clearly understand it. But now it became necessary for me to learn
thoroughly what money is.

In order to do so, I addressed myself to science. Science says that
money in itself is neither unjust nor pernicious; that money is the
natural result of the conditions of social life, and is indispensable,
first, for convenience of exchange; secondly, as a measure of value;
thirdly, for saving; and fourthly, for payments.

The fact that when I have in my pocket three rubles to spare, which I am
not in need of, I have only to whistle and in every civilized town I can
obtain a hundred people ready for these three rubles to do the worst,
most disgusting, and humiliating act I require, it is said, comes not
from money, but from the very complicated conditions of the economical
life of nations!

The dominion of one man over others does not come from money, but from
the circumstance that a workingman does not receive the full value of
his labour; and the fact that he does not get the full value of his
labour depends upon the nature of capital, rent, and wages, and upon
complicated connections between the distribution and consumption of

In plain language, it means that people who have money may twist round
their finger those who have none. But science says that this is an
illusion; that in every kind of production three factors take
part,--land, savings of labour (capital), and labour, and that the
dominion of the few over the many proceeds from the various connections
between these factors of production, because the two first factors, land
and capital, are not in the hands of working people; and from this fact
and from the various combinations which result from it this domination

Whence comes the great power of money, which strikes us all with a sense
of its injustice and cruelty? Why is one man, by the means of money, to
have dominion over others? Science says, "It comes from the division of
the factors of production, and from the consequent combinations which
oppress the worker."

This answer has always appeared to me to be strange, not only because it
leaves one part of the question unnoticed (namely, the significance of
money), but also because of the division of the factors of production,
which to an unprejudiced man will always appear artificial and out of
touch with reality. Science asserts that in every production three
agents come into operation,--land, capital and labour; and along with
this division it is understood that property (or its value in money) is
naturally divided among those who possess one of these agents; thus,
rent (the value of the ground) belongs to the land-owner; interest
belongs to the capitalist; and wages to the worker.

Is this really so?

First, is it true that in every production only three agencies operate?
Now, while I am writing proceeds the production of hay around me. Of
what is this production composed? I am told of the land which produces
the grass; of capital (scythes, rakes, pitch-forks, carts which are
necessary for the housing of the hay); and of labour. But I see that
this is not true. Besides the land, there is the sun and rain; and, in
addition, social order, which has been keeping these meadows from any
damage which might be caused by letting stray cattle graze upon them,
the skill of workmen, their knowledge of language, and many other
agencies of production,--which, for some unknown reason, are not taken
into consideration by political economy.

The power of the sun is as necessary as the land, even more. I may
mention the instances when men (in a town, for example), assume the
right to keep out the sun from others by means of walls or trees. Why,
then, is the sun not included among the factors of production?

Rain is another means as necessary as the ground itself. The air too. I
can imagine men without water and pure air because other men had assumed
to themselves the right to monopolise these essential necessaries of
all. Public security is likewise a necessary element. Food and dress for
workmen are similar factors in production; this is even recognized by
some economists. Education, the knowledge of language which creates the
possibility to apply work, is likewise an agent. I could fill a volume
by enumerating such combinations, not mentioned by science.

Why, then, are three only to be chosen, and laid as a foundation for the
science of political economy? Sunshine and water equally with the earth
are factors in production, so with the food and clothes of the workers,
and the transmission of knowledge. All may be taken as distinct factors
in production. Simply because the right of men to enjoy the rays of the
sun, rain, food, language, and audience, are challenged only on rare
occasions; but the use of land and of the instruments of labour are
constantly challenged in society.

This is the true foundation; and the division of the factors of
production into three, is quite arbitrary, and is not involved in the
nature of things. But it may perhaps be urged that this division is so
suitable to man, that wherever economic relationships are formed these
three factors appear at once and alone.

Let us see whether this is really so.

First of all, I look at what is around me,--at Russian colonists, of
whom millions have for ages existed. They come to a land, settle
themselves on it, and begin to work; and it does not enter the mind of
any of them that a man who does not use the land can have any claim to
it,--and the land does not assert any rights of its own. On the
contrary, the colonists conscientiously recognize the communism of the
land and the right of every one of them to plough and to mow wherever he

For cultivation, for gardening, for building houses, the colonists
obtain various implements of labour: nor does it enter the mind of any
of them that these instruments of labour may be allowed to bring profit
in themselves, and the capital does not assert any rights of its own. On
the contrary, the colonists consciously recognize among themselves that
all interest for tools, or borrowed corn or capital, is unjust.

They work upon a free land, labour with their own tools, or with those
borrowed without interest, each for himself, or all together, for common
business; and in such a community, it is impossible to prove either the
existence of rent, interest accruing from capital, or remuneration for

In referring to such a community I am not indulging my fancy but
describing what has always taken place, not only among Russian
colonists, but everywhere, as long as human nature is not sinned

I am describing what appears to everyone to be natural and rational. Men
settle on land, and each member undertakes the business which suits him,
and, having procured the necessary tools, does his own work.

If these men find it more convenient to work together, they form a
workmen's association. But neither in separate households, nor in
associations, will separate agents of production appear till men
artificially and forcibly divide them. There will be simply labour and
the necessary conditions of labour,--the sun which warms all, the air
which they breathe, water which they drink, land on which they labour,
clothes on the body, food in the stomach, stakes, shovels, ploughs,
machines with which they work. And it is evident that neither the rays
of the sun, nor the clothes on the body, nor the stakes, nor the spade,
nor the plough, with which each man works, nor the machines with which
they labour in the workmen's association, can belong to anyone else than
those who enjoy the rays of the sun, breathe the air, drink the water,
eat the bread, clothe their bodies, and labour with the spade or with
the machines, because all these are necessary only for those who use
them. And when men act thus, we see they act rationally.

Therefore, observing all the economic conditions created among men, I do
not see that division into three is natural. I see, on the contrary,
that it is neither natural nor rational.

But perhaps the setting apart of these three does not occur in primitive
societies, only when the population increases and cultivation begins to
develop it is unavoidable. And we cannot but recognise the fact that
this division has occurred in European society.

Let us see whether it is really so.

We are told that in European society this division of agencies has been;
that is, that one man possesses land, another accomplished the
instruments of labour, and the third is without land and instruments.

We have grown so accustomed to this assertion that we are no longer
struck by the strangeness of it. But in this assertion lies an inner
contradiction. The conception of a labouring man, includes the land on
which he lives and the tools with which he works. If he did not live on
the land and had no tools he would not be a labourer. A workman deprived
of land and tools never existed and never can exist. There cannot be a
bootmaker without a house for his work built on land, without water,
air, and tools to work with.

If the peasant has no land, horse, water or scythe; if the bootmaker is
without a house, water, or awl, then that means that some one has driven
him from the ground, or taken it from him, and has cheated him out of
his scythe, cart, horse, or awl; but it does not in any way mean that
there can be country labourers without scythes or bootmakers without

As you cannot think of a fisherman on dry land without fishing
implements, unless you imagine him driven away from the water by some
one who has taken his fishing implements from him; so also you cannot
picture a workman without land on which to live, and without tools for
his trade, unless somebody has driven him from the former, or robbed him
of the latter.

There may be men who are hunted from one place to another, and who,
having been robbed, are compelled perforce to work for another man and
make things necessary for themselves, but this does not mean that such
is the nature of production. It means only that in such case, the
natural conditions of production are violated.

But if we are to consider as factors of production all of which a
workman may be deprived by force, why not count among these the claim on
the person of a slave? Why not count claims on the rain and the rays of
the sun?

One man might build a wall and so keep the sun from his neighbour;
another might come who would turn the course of a river through his own
pond and so contaminate its water; or claim a fellow-being as his own
property. But none of these claims, although enforced by violence, can
be recognised as a basis. It is therefore as wrong to accept the
artificial rights to land and tools as separate factors in production,
as to recognise as such the invented rights to use sunshine, air, water,
or the person of another.

There may be men who claim the land and the tools of a workman, as there
were men who claimed the persons of others, and as there may be men who
assert their rights to the exclusive use of the rays of the sun, or of
water and air. There may be men who drive away a workman from place to
place, taking from him by force the products of his labour as they are
produced, and the very instruments of its production, who compel him to
work, not for himself, but for his master, as in the factories;--all
this is possible; but the conception of a workman without land and tools
is still an impossibility, as much as that a man can willingly become
the property of another, notwithstanding men have claimed other men for
many generations.

And as the claim of property in the person of another cannot deprive a
slave of his innate right to seek his own welfare and not that of his
master; so, too, the claim to the exclusive possession of land and the
tools of others cannot deprive the labourer of his inherent rights as a
man to live on the land and to work with his own tools, or with communal
tools, as he thinks most useful for himself.

All that science can say in examining the present economic question, is
this: that in Europe certain claims to the land and the tools of workmen
are made, in consequence of which, for some of these workmen (but by no
means for all of them), the proper conditions of production are
violated, so that they are deprived of land and implements of labour and
compelled to work with the tools of others. But it is certainly not
established that this accidental violation of the law of production is
the fundamental law itself.

In saying that this separate consideration of the factors is the
fundamental law of production, the economist is doing the very thing a
zoölogist would do, if on seeing a great many siskins with their wings
cut, and kept in little cages, he should assert that this was the
essential condition of the life of birds, and that their life is
composed of such conditions.

However many siskins there may be, kept in paste-board houses, with
their wings cut, a zoölogist cannot say that these, and a tiny pail of
water running up rails, are the conditions of the birds' lives. And
however great the number of workpeople there may be, driven from place
to place, and deprived of their productions as well as their tools, the
natural right of man to live on the land, and to work with his own
tools, is essential to him, and so it will remain forever.

Of course there are some who lay claim to the land and to the tools of
workmen, just as in former ages there were some who laid claim to the
persons of others; but there can be no real division of men into lords
and slaves--as they wanted to establish in the ancient world--any more
than there can be any real division in the agents of production (land
and capital, etc.), as the economists are trying to establish.

These unlawful claims on the liberty of other men, science calls "the
natural conditions of production." Instead of taking its fundamental
principles from the natural properties of human societies, science took
them from a special case; and desiring to justify this case, it
recognized the right of some men to the land on which other men earn
their living, and to the tools with which others again work; in other
words, it recognized as a right something which had never existed, and
cannot exist, and which is in itself a contradiction, because the claim
of the man to the land on which he does not labour, is in essence
nothing else than the right to use the land which he does not use; the
claim on the tools of others is nothing else than the assumption of a
right to work with implements with which a man does not work.

Science, by dividing the factors of production, declares that the
natural condition of a workman--that is, of a man in the true sense of
the word--is the unnatural condition in which he lives at present, just
as in ancient times, by the division of men into citizens and slaves, it
was asserted that the unnatural condition of slavery was the natural
condition of life.

This very division, which science has accepted only for the purpose of
justifying the existing injustice, and the recognition of this division
as the foundation of all its inquiries, is responsible for the fact that
science vainly tries to explain existing phenomena and, denying the
clearest and plainest answers to the questions that arise, gives answers
which have absolutely no meaning in them.

The question of economic science is this: What is the cause of the fact
that some men, by means of money, acquire an imaginary right to land and
capital, and may make slaves of those who have no money? The answer
which presents itself to common sense is, that it is the result of
money, the nature of which is to enslave men.

But economic science denies this, and says: This arises, not from the
nature of money, but from the fact that some men have land and capital,
and others have neither.

We ask: Why do persons who possess land and capital oppress those who
possess neither? And we are answered: Because they possess land and

But this is just what we are inquiring about. Is not deprivation of land
and tools enforced slavery? And the answer is like saying, "A remedy is
narcotic because its effects are narcotic." Life does not cease to put
this essential question, and even science herself notices and tries to
answer it, but does not succeed, because, starting from her own
fundamental principles, she only turns herself round in a vicious

In order to give itself a satisfactory answer to the question, science
must first of all deny that wrong division of the agents of production,
and cease to acknowledge the result of the phenomena as being their
cause; and she must seek, first the more obvious, and then the remoter,
causes of those phenomena which constitute the matter questioned.

Science must answer the question, Why are some men deprived of land and
tools while others possess both? or, Why is it that lands and tools are
taken from the people who labour on the land and work with the tools?

And as soon as economic science puts this question to herself she will
get new ideas which will transform all the previous ideas of sham
science,--which has been moving in an unalterable circle of
propositions,--that the miserable condition of the workers proceeds from
the fact that they are miserable.

To simple-minded persons it must seem unquestionable that the obvious
reason of the oppression of some men by others is money. But science,
denying this, says that money is only a medium of exchange, which has no
connection with slavery of men.

Let us see whether it is so or not.


What is the origin of money? What are the conditions under which nations
always have money, and under what circumstances need nations not use

There are small tribes in Africa, and one in Australia, who live as the
Sknepies and the Drevlyans lived in olden times. These tribes lived by
breeding cattle and cultivating gardens. We become acquainted with them
at the dawn of history, and history begins by recording the fact that
some invaders appear on the scene. And invaders always do the same
thing: they take away from the aborigines everything they can
take,--cattle, corn, and cloth; they even make prisoners, male and
female, and carry them away.

In a few years the invaders appear again, but the people have not yet
got over the consequences of their first misfortunes, and there is
scarcely anything to take from them; so the invaders invent new and
better means of making use of their victims.

These methods are very simple, and present themselves naturally to the
mind of all men. The _first_ is personal slavery. There is a drawback to
this, because the invaders must take over the entire control and
administration of the tribe, and feed all the slaves; hence, naturally,
there appears the _second_. The people are left on their own land, but
this becomes the recognized property of the invaders, who portion it out
among the leading military men, by whose means the labour of the tribe
is utilized and transferred to the conquerors.

But this, too, has its drawback. It is inconvenient to have to oversee
all the production of the conquered people, and thus the _third_ means
is introduced, as primitive as the two former; this is, the levying of a
certain obligatory tax to be paid by the conquered at stated periods.

The object of conquest is to take from the conquered the greatest
possible amount of the product of their labour. It is evident, that, in
order to do this, the conquerors must take the articles which are the
most valuable to the conquered, and which at the same time are not
cumbersome, and are convenient for keeping,--skins of animals, and gold.

So the conquerors lay upon the family or the tribe a tax in these skins
or gold, to be paid at fixed times; and thus, by means of this tribute,
they utilize the labour of the conquered people in the most convenient

When the skins and the gold have been taken from the original owners,
they are compelled to sell all they have amongst themselves to obtain
more gold and skins for their masters; that is, they have to sell their
property and their labour.

So it was in ancient times, in the Middle Ages, and so it occurs now. In
the ancient world, where the subjugation of one people by another was
frequent, personal slavery was the most widespread method of
subjugation, and the centre of gravity in this compulsion, owing to the
non-recognition of the equality of men. In the Middle Ages,
feudalism--land-ownership and the servitude connected with it--partly
takes the place of personal slavery, and the centre of compulsion is
transferred from persons to land. In modern times, since the discovery
of America, the development of commerce, and the influx of gold (which
is accepted as a universal medium of exchange), the money tribute has
become, with the increase of state power, the chief instrument for
enslaving men, and upon this all economic relations are now based.

In "The Literary Miscellany" there is an article by Professor Yanjoul in
which he describes the recent history of the Fiji Islands. If I were
trying to find the most pointed illustration of how in our day the
compulsory money payment became the chief instrument in enslaving some
men by others, I could not imagine anything more striking and convincing
than this trustworthy history,--history based upon documents of facts
which are of recent occurrence.

In the South-Sea Islands, in Polynesia, lives a race called the Fiji.
The group on which they live, says Professor Yanjoul, is composed of
small islands, which altogether comprise about forty thousand square
miles. Only half of these islands are inhabited, by a hundred and fifty
thousand natives and fifteen hundred white men. The natives were
reclaimed from savagery a long time ago, and were distinguished among
the other natives of Polynesia by their intellectual capacities. They
appear to be capable of labour and development, which they proved by the
fact that within a short period they became good workmen and cattle

The inhabitants were well-to-do, but in the year 1859 the condition of
their state became desperate: the nation and its representative, Kakabo,
were in need of money. This money, forty-five thousand dollars, was
wanted as compensation or indemnification demanded of them by the United
States of America for violence said to have been done by Fijis to some
citizens of the American Republic.

To collect this, the Americans sent a squadron, which unexpectedly
seized some of the best islands under the pretext of guaranty, and
threatened to bombard and ruin the towns if the indemnification were not
paid over on a certain date to the representatives of America.

The Americans were among the first colonists who came to the Fiji
Islands with the missionaries. They chose and (under one pretext or
another) took possession of the best pieces of land on the islands, and
established there cotton and coffee plantations. They hired whole crowds
of natives, binding them by contracts unknown to this half-civilized
race, or they acted through special contractors and dealers of human

Misunderstandings between these master planters and the natives, whom
they considered almost as slaves, were unavoidable, and it was some of
these quarrels which served as a pretext for the American

Notwithstanding their prosperity the Fijis had preserved almost up to
that time the forms of the so-called natural economy which existed in
Europe during the Middle Ages: money was scarcely in circulation among
them, and their trade was almost exclusively on the barter basis,--one
merchandise being exchanged for another, and the few social taxes and
those of the state being paid in rural products. What could the Fijis
and their King Kakabo do, when the Americans demanded forty-five
thousand dollars under terrible threats in the event of nonpayment? To
the Fijis the very figures seemed inconceivable, to say nothing of the
money itself, which they had never seen in such large quantities. After
deliberating with other chiefs, Kakabo made up his mind to apply to the
Queen of England, at first merely asking her to take the islands under
her protection, but afterwards requesting definite annexation.

But the English regarded this request cautiously, and were in no hurry
to assist the half-savage monarch out of his difficulty. Instead of
giving a direct answer, they sent special commissioners to make
inquiries about the Fiji Islands in 1860, in order to be able to decide
whether it was worth while to annex them to the British Possessions, and
to lay out money to satisfy the American claims.

Meanwhile the American Government continued to insist upon payment, and
as a pledge held in their _de facto_ dominion some of the best parts,
and, having looked closely into the national wealth, raised their former
claim to ninety thousand dollars, threatening to increase it still more
if Kakabo did not pay at once.

Being thus pushed on every side, and knowing nothing of European means
of credit accommodation, the poor king, acting on the advice of European
colonists, began to try to raise money in Melbourne among the merchants,
cost what it might, if even he should be obliged to yield his kingdom
into private hands.

So in consequence of his application a commercial society was formed in
Melbourne. This joint-stock company, which took the name of the
"Polynesian Company," formed a treaty with the chiefs of the
Fiji-Islanders on the most advantageous terms. It took over the debt to
the American Government, pledging itself to pay it by several
instalments; and for this the company received, according to the first
treaty, one, and then two hundred thousand acres of the best land,
selected by itself; perpetual immunity from all taxes and dues for all
its factories, operations, and colonies, and the exclusive right for a
long period to establish banks in the Fiji Islands, with the privilege
of issuing unlimited notes.

This treaty was definitely concluded in the year 1868, and there has
appeared in the Fiji Islands, side by side with the local government, of
which Kakabo is the head, another powerful authority,--a commercial
organization, with large estates over all the islands, exercising a
powerful influence upon the government.

Up to this time the wants of the government of Kakabo had been satisfied
with a payment in local products, and a small custom tax on goods
imported. But with the conclusion of the treaty and the formation of the
influential "Polynesian Company," the king's financial circumstances had

A considerable part of the best land in his dominion having passed into
the hands of the company, his income from the land had therefore
diminished; on the other hand the income from the custom taxes also
diminished, because the company had obtained for itself the right to
import and export all kinds of goods free of duties.

The natives--ninety-nine per cent. of the population--had never paid
much in custom duties, as they bought scarcely any of the European
productions except some stuffs and hardware; and now, from the freeing
of custom duties of many well-to-do Europeans along with the Polynesian
Company, the income of King Kakabo was reduced to _nil_, and he was
obliged to take steps to resuscitate it if possible.

He began to consult his white friends as to the best way to remedy the
trouble, and they advised him to create the first direct tax in the
country; and, in order, I suppose, to have less trouble about it, to
make it in money. The tax was established in the form of a general
poll-tax, amounting to one pound for every man, and to four shillings
for every woman, throughout the islands.

As I have already said, there still exists on the Fiji Islands a natural
economy and a trade by barter. Very few natives possess money. Their
wealth consists chiefly of raw products and cattle; whilst the new tax
required the possession of considerable sums of money at fixed times.

Up to that date a native had not been accustomed to any individual
burden in the interests of his government, except personal obligations;
all the taxes which had to be paid, were paid by the community or
village to which he belonged, and from the common fields from which he
received his principal income.

One alternative was left to him,--to try to raise money from the
European colonists; that is, to address himself either to the merchant
or to the planter.

To the first he was obliged to sell his productions on the merchant's
own terms (because the tax-collector required money at a certain fixed
date), or even to raise money by the sale of his expected harvest, which
enabled the merchant to take iniquitous interest. Or he had to address
himself to the planter, and sell him his labour; that is, to become his
workman: but the wages on the Fiji Islands were very low (owing, I
suppose, to the exceptionally great supply of labour); not exceeding a
shilling a week for a grown-up man, or two pounds twelve shillings a
year; and therefore, merely to be able to get the money necessary to pay
his own tax, to say nothing of his family, a Fiji had to leave his
house, his family, and his own land, often to go far away to another
island, and enslave himself to the planter for at least half a year;
even then there was the payment for his family, which he must provide by
some other means.

We can understand the result of such a state of affairs. From his
hundred and fifty thousand subjects, Kakabo collected only six thousand
pounds; and so there began a forcible extortion of taxes, unknown till
then, and a whole series of coercive measures.

The local administration, formerly incorruptible, soon made common cause
with the European planters, who began to have their own way with the
country. For nonpayment of the taxes the Fijis were summoned to the
court, and sentenced not only to pay the expenses but also to
imprisonment for not less than six months. The prison really meant the
plantations of the first white man who chose to pay the tax-money and
the legal expenses of the offender. Thus the white settlers received
cheap labour to any amount.

At first this compulsory labour was fixed for not longer than half a
year; but afterwards the bribed judges found it possible to pass
sentence for eighteen months, and even then to renew the sentence.

Very quickly, in the course of a few years, the picture of the social
condition of the inhabitants of Fiji was quite changed.

Whole districts, formerly flourishing, lost half of their population,
and were greatly impoverished. All the male population, except the old
and infirm, worked far away from their homes for European planters, to
get money necessary for the taxes, or in consequence of the law court.
The women on the Fiji Islands had scarcely ever worked in the fields, so
that in the absence of the men, all the local farming was neglected and
went to ruin. And in the course of a few years, half the population of
Fiji had become the slaves of the colonists.

To relieve their position the Fiji-Islanders again appealed to England.
A new petition was got up, subscribed by many eminent persons and
chiefs, praying to be annexed to England; and this was handed to the
British consul. Meanwhile, England, thanks to her scientific
expeditions, had time not only to investigate the affairs of the
islands, but even to survey them, and duly to appreciate the natural
riches of this fine corner of the globe.

Owing to all these circumstances, the negotiations this time were
crowned with full success; and in 1874, to the great dissatisfaction of
the American planters, England officially took possession of the Fiji
Islands, and added them to its colonies. Kakabo died, his heirs had a
small pension assigned to them, and the administration of the islands
was intrusted to Sir Hercules Robinson, the Governor of New South Wales.
In the first year of its annexation the Fiji-Islanders had no
self-government, but were under the direction of Sir Hercules Robinson,
who appointed an administrator.

Taking the islands into their hands, the English Government had to
undertake the difficult task of gratifying various expectations raised
by them. The natives, of course, first of all expected the abolition of
the hated poll-tax; one part of the white colonists (the Americans)
looked with suspicion upon the British rule; and another part (those of
English origin) expected all kinds of confirmations of their power over
the natives,--permission to enclose the land, and so on. The English
Government, however, proved itself equal to the task; and its first act
was to abolish for ever the poll-tax, which had created the slavery of
the natives in the interest of a few colonists.

But here Sir Hercules Robinson had at once to face a difficult dilemma.
It was necessary to abolish the poll-tax, which had made the Fijis seek
the help of the English Government; but, at the same time, according to
English colonial policy, the colonies had to support themselves; they
had to find their own means for covering the expenses of the government.
With the abolition of the poll-tax, all the incomes of the Fijis (from
custom duties) did not amount to more than six thousand pounds, while
the government expenses required at least seventy thousand a year.

Having abolished the money tax, Sir Hercules Robinson now thought of a
labour tax; but this did not yield the sum necessary to feed him and his
assistants. Matters did not mend until a new governor had been
appointed,--Gordon,--who, to get out of the inhabitants the money
necessary to keep him and his officials, resolved not to demand money
until it had come sufficiently into general circulation on the islands,
but to take from the natives their products, and to sell them himself.

This tragical episode in the lives of the Fijis is the clearest and best
proof of the nature and true meaning of money in our time.

In this illustration every essential is represented. The first
fundamental condition of slavery,--the guns, threats, murders, and
plunder,--and lastly, money, the means of subjugation which has
supplanted all the others. That which in an historical sketch of
economical development, has to be investigated during centuries, we have
here, where all the forms of monetary violence have fully developed
themselves, concentrated in a space of ten years.

The drama begins thus: the American Government sends ships with loaded
guns to the shores of the islands, whose inhabitants they want to
enslave. The pretext of this threat is monetary; but the beginning of
the tragedy is the levelling of guns against all the inhabitants,--women,
children, old people, and men,--though innocent of any crime.
"Your money or your life,"--forty-five thousand dollars, then
ninety thousand or slaughter. But the ninety thousand are not to be had.
So now begins the second act: it is the postponement of a measure which
would be bloody, terrible, and concentrated in a short period; and the
substitution of a suffering less perceptible, which can be laid upon
all, and will last longer. And the natives, with their representative,
seek to substitute for the massacre a slavery of money. They borrow
money, and the method at once begins to operate like a disciplined army.
In five years the thing is done,--the men have not only lost their right
to utilize their own land and their property, but also their
liberty,--they have become slaves.

Here begins act three. The situation is too painful, and the unfortunate
ones are told they may change their master and become the slaves of
another. Of freedom from the slavery brought about by the means of money
there is not one thought. And the people call for another master, to
whom they give themselves up, asking him to improve their condition. The
English come, see that dominion over these islanders will give them the
possibility of feeding their already too greatly multiplied parasites,
and take possession of the islands and their inhabitants.

But it does not take them in the form of personal slaves, it does not
take even the land, nor distribute it among its assistants. These old
ways are not necessary now: only one thing is necessary,--taxes which
must be large enough on the one hand to prevent the workingmen from
freeing themselves from virtual slavery, and on the other hand, to feed
luxuriously a great number of parasites. The inhabitants must pay
seventy thousand pounds sterling annually,--that is the fundamental
condition upon which England consents to free the Fijis from the
American despotism, and this is just what was wanting for the final
enslaving of the inhabitants. But it turns out that the Fiji-Islanders
cannot under any circumstances pay these seventy thousand pounds in
their present state. The claim is too great.

The English temporarily modify it, and take a part of it out in natural
products in order that in time, when money has come into circulation,
they may receive the full sum. They do not behave like the former
company, whose conduct we may liken to the first coming of savage
invaders into an uncivilized land, when they want only to take as much
as possible and then decamp; but England behaves like a more
clear-sighted enslaver; she does not kill at one blow the goose with the
golden eggs, but feeds her in order that she may continue to lay them.
England at first relaxes the reins for her own interest that she may
hold them tight forever afterwards, and so has brought the
Fiji-Islanders into that state of permanent monetary thraldom in which
all civilized European people now exist, and from which their chance of
escape is not apparent.

This phenomenon repeats itself in America, in China, in Central Asia;
and it is the same in the history of the conquest of all nations.

Money is an inoffensive means of exchange when it is not collected while
loaded guns are directed from the sea-shore against the defenceless
inhabitants. As soon as it is taken by the force of guns, the same thing
must inevitably take place which occurred on the Fiji Islands, and has
always and everywhere repeated itself.

Men who consider it their lawful right to utilize the labour of others,
will achieve their ends by the means of a forcible demand of a sum of
money which will compel the oppressed to become the slaves of the

Moreover, that will happen which occurred between the English and the
Fijis,--the extortioners will always, in their demand for money, rather
exceed the limit to which the amount of the sum required must rise, so
that the enslaving may be earlier. They will respect this limit only
while they have moral sense and sufficient money for themselves: they
will overstep it when they lose their moral sense or even do not require

As for governments, they will always exceed this limit,--first, because
for a government there exists no moral sense of justice; and secondly,
because, as everyone knows, every government is always in the greatest
want of money, through wars and the necessity of giving gratuities to
their allies. All governments are insolvent, and involuntarily follow a
maxim expressed by a Russian statesman of the eighteenth century,--that
the peasant must be sheared of his wool lest it grow too long. All
governments are hopelessly in debt, and this debt on an average (not
taking in consideration its occasional diminution in England and
America) is growing at a terrible rate. So also grow the budgets; that
is, the necessity of struggling with other extortioners, and of giving
presents to those who assist in extortion, and because of that grows the
land rent.

Wages do not increase, not because of the law of rent, but because
taxes, collected with violence, exist, with the object of taking away
from men their superfluities, so that they may be compelled to sell
their labour to satisfy them,--utilizing their labour being the aim of
raising the taxes.

And their labour can only be utilized when, on a general average, the
taxes required are more than the labourers are able to give without
depriving themselves of all means of subsistence. The increase of wages
would put an end to the possibility of slavery; and therefore, as long
as violence exists, wages can never be increased. The simple and plain
mode of action of some men towards others, political economists term
_the iron law_; the instrument by which such action is performed, they
call a medium of exchange; and money is this inoffensive medium of
exchange necessary for men in their transactions with each other.

Why is it, then, that, whenever there is no violent demand for money
taxes, money in its true signification has never existed, and never can
exist; but, as among the Fiji-Islanders, the Phoenicians, the Kirghis,
and generally among men who do not pay taxes, such as the Africans,
there is either a direct exchange of produce, sheep, hides, skins, or
accidental standards of value, such as shells?

A definite kind of money, whatever it may be, always becomes not a means
of exchange, but a means of ransoming from violence; and it begins to
circulate among men only when a definite standard is compulsorily
required from all.

It is only then that everybody wants it equally, and only then does it
receive any value.

And further, it is not the thing that is most convenient for exchange
that receives exchange value, but that which is required by the
government. If gold is demanded, gold becomes valuable: if knuckle-bones
were demanded, they, too, would become valuable. If it were not so, why,
then, has the issue of this means of exchange always been the
prerogative of the government? The Fiji-Islanders, for instance, have
arranged among themselves their own means of exchange; well, then, let
them be free to exchange what and how they like, and you, men possessing
power, or the means of violence, do not interfere with this exchange.
But instead of this you coin money, and do not allow anyone else to coin
it; or, as is the case with us, you merely print some notes, engraving
upon them the heads of the tsars, sign them with a particular signature,
and threaten to punish every falsification of them. Then you distribute
this money to your assistants, and, under the name of duties and taxes,
you require everybody to give you such money or such notes with such
signatures, and so many of them, that a workman must give away all his
labour in order to get these notes or coins; and then you want to
convince us that this money is necessary for us as a means of exchange!

Here are all men free, and none oppresses the others or keeps them in
slavery; but money appears in society and immediately an iron law
exists, in consequence of which rent increases and wages diminish to the

That half (nay, more than half) of the Russian peasants, in order to pay
direct and indirect taxes, voluntarily sell themselves as slaves to the
land-owners or to manufacturers, does not at all signify (which is
obvious); for the violent collection of the poll-taxes and indirect and
land taxes, which have to be paid in money to the government and to its
assistants (the landowners), _compels_ the workman to be a slave to
those who own money; but it means that this money, as a means of
exchange, and an iron law, exist.

Before the serfs were free, I could compel Iván to do any work; and if
he refused to do it, I could send him to the police-sergeant, and the
latter would give him the rod till he submitted. But if I compelled Iván
to overwork himself, and did not give him either land or food, the
matter would go up to the authorities, and I should have to answer for

But now that men are free, I can compel Iván and Peter and Sidor to do
every kind of work; and if they refuse I give them no money to pay
taxes, and then they will be flogged till they submit: besides this, I
may also make a German, a Frenchman, a Chinaman, and an Indian, work for
me by that means, so that, if they do not submit, I shall not give them
money to hire land, or to buy bread, because they have neither land nor
bread. And if I make them overwork themselves, or kill them with excess
of labour, nobody will say a word to me about it; and, moreover, if I
have read books on political economy I shall be quite sure that all men
are free and that money does not create slavery!

Our peasants have long known that with a ruble one can hurt more than
with a stick. It is only political economists who cannot see it.

To say that money does not create bondage, is the same as to have
asserted, fifty years ago, that serfdom did not create slavery.
Political economists say that money is an inoffensive medium of
exchange, notwithstanding the fact that its possession enables one man
to enslave another. Why, then, was it not said half a century ago that
servitude was, in itself, an inoffensive medium of reciprocal services,
notwithstanding the fact that no man could lawfully enslave another?
Some give their manual labour, and the work of others consists in taking
care of the physical and intellectual welfare of the slaves, and in
superintending their efforts.

And, I fancy, some really did say this.


If the object of this sham pseudo-science of Political Economy had not
been the same as that of all other legal sciences,--the justification of
coercion,--it could not have avoided noticing the strange phenomena that
the distribution of wealth, the deprivation of some men of land and
capital, and the enslavery of some men to others, depend upon money, and
that it is only by means of money that some men utilize the labour of
others,--in other words, enslave them.

I repeat that a man who has money may buy up and monopolise all the corn
and kill others by starvation, completely oppressing them, as it has
frequently happened before our own eyes on a very large scale.

It would seem then that we ought to examine the connection of these
occurrences with money; but Political Science, with full assurance,
asserts that money has no connection whatever with the matter.

This science says, "Money is as much an article of merchandise as
anything else which contains the value of its production, only with this
difference,--that this article of merchandise is chosen as the more
convenient medium of exchange for establishing values, for saving, and
for making payments. One man has made boots, another has grown wheat,
the third has bred sheep; and now, in order to exchange more
conveniently, they put money into circulation, which represents the
equivalent of labour; and by this medium they exchange the soles of
boots for a loin of mutton, or ten pounds of flour."

Students of this sham science are very fond of picturing to themselves
such a state of affairs; but there has never been such a condition in
the world. This idea about society is like the fancy about the
primitive, prehistoric, perfect human state which the philosophers
cherished; but such a state never existed.

In all human societies where money has been used there has also been the
oppression by the strong and the armed of the weak and the defenceless;
and wherever there was oppression, there the standard of value, money,
whatever it consisted of, cattle or hides, skin or metals, must have
unavoidably lost its significance as a medium of exchange, and received
the meaning of a ransom from violence.

There is no doubt that money does possess the inoffensive properties
which science enumerates; but it would have these properties only in a
society in which there was no violence,--in an ideal state. But in such
a society money would not be found as a general measure of value. In
such a community, at the advent of violence, money would immediately
lose its significance.

In all societies known to us where money is used it receives the
significance of a medium of exchange only because it serves as a means
of violence. And its chief object is to act thus,--not as a mere medium.
Where violence exists, money cannot be a true medium of exchange,
because it is not a measure of value,--because, as soon as one man may
take away from another the products of his labour, all measures of value
are directly violated. If horses and cows, bred by one man, and
violently taken away by others, were brought to a market, it is plain
that the value of other horses and cows there, when brought into
competition with stolen animals, would no longer correspond with the
labour of breeding them. And the value of everything else would also
change with this change, and so money could not determine values.

Besides, if one man may acquire by force a cow or a horse or a house, he
may by the same force acquire money itself, and with this money acquire
all kinds of produce. If, then, money itself is acquired by violence,
and spent to purchase products, money entirely loses its quality as a
medium of exchange.

The oppressor who takes money and gives it for the products of labour
does not exchange anything, but obtains from labour all that he wants.

But let us suppose that such an imaginary and impossible state of
society really existed, in which money is in circulation, without the
exercise of general violence,--silver or gold serving as a measure of
value and as a medium of exchange. All the savings in such a society are
expressed by money. There appears in this society an oppressor in the
shape of a conqueror. Let us suppose that this oppressor claims the
cows, horses, clothes, and the houses of the inhabitants; but, as it is
not convenient for him to take possession of all this, he naturally
thinks of taking that which represents among these men all kinds of
values and is exchanged for everything,--money. And at once in this
community, money receives, for the oppressor and his assistants, another
signification, and its character as a medium of exchange therefore
immediately ceases.

The measure of the values will always depend on the pleasure of the
oppressor. The articles most necessary to him, and for which he gives
more money, are considered greater value, and _vice versa_; so that, in
a community exposed to violence, money at once receives its chief
meaning,--it becomes a means of violence and a ransom from violence, and
it retains, among the oppressed, its significance as a medium of
exchange only so far as that is convenient to the oppressor.

Let us picture the whole affair in a circle, thus:--The serfs supply
their landlord with linen, poultry, sheep, and daily labour. The
landlord substitutes money for these goods, and fixes the value of the
various articles sent in. Those who have no linen, corn, cattle, or
manual labour to offer, may bring a definite sum of money.

It is obvious, that, in the society of the peasants of this landlord,
the price of the various articles will always depend upon the landlord's
pleasure. The landlord uses the articles collected among his peasants,
and some of these articles are more necessary for him than others: he
fixes the prices for them accordingly, more or less. It is clear that
the mere will and requirements of the landlord must regulate the prices
of these articles among the payers. If he is in want of corn, he will
set a high price for a fixed quantity of it, and a low price for linen,
cattle, or work; and therefore those who have no corn will sell their
labour, linen, and cattle to others, in order to buy corn to give it to
the landlord.

If the landlord chooses to substitute money for all his claims, then the
value of things will again depend, not upon the value of labour, but
first upon the sum of money which the landlord requires, and secondly
upon the articles produced by the peasants, which are more necessary to
the landlord, and for which he allows a higher price.

The money-claim made by the landlord on the peasants ceases to influence
the prices of the articles only when the peasants of this landlord live
separately from other people and have no connection with any one; and
secondly, when the landlord employs money, not in purchasing things in
his own village, but elsewhere. Only under these two conditions would
the prices of things, though changed nominally, remain relatively the
same, and money would become a measure of value and a medium of

But if the peasants have any business connections with the inhabitants
surrounding them, the prices of their produce, as sold to their
neighbours, would depend on the sum required from them by their
landlord. (If less money is required from their neighbours than from
themselves, then their products would be sold cheaper than the products
of their neighbours, and _vice versa_.) Again, the landlord's
money-demand would cease to influence the prices of the articles, only
when the sums collected by the landlord were not spent in buying the
products of his own peasants. But if he spends the money in purchasing
from them, it is plain that the prices of various articles will
constantly vary among them according as the landlord buys more of one
thing than another.

Suppose one landlord has fixed a very high poll-tax, and his neighbour a
very low one: it is clear that on the estate of the first landlord every
thing will be cheaper than on the estate of the second, and that the
prices on either estate will depend only upon the increase and decrease
of the poll-taxes. This is one effect of violence on value.

Another, rising out of the first, consists in relative values. Suppose
one landlord is fond of horses, and pays a high price for them; another
is fond of towels, and offers a high figure for them. It is obvious that
on the estate of either of these two landlords, the horses and the
towels will be dear, and the prices of these articles will be out of
proportion to those of cows or of corn. If to-morrow the collector of
towels dies, and his heirs are fond of poultry, then it is obvious that
the price of towels will fall and that of poultry will rise.

Wherever in society there is the mastery of one man over another, there
the meaning of money as the measure of value at once yields to the will
of the oppressor, and its meaning as a medium of exchange of the
products of labour is replaced by another,--that of the most convenient
means of utilizing other people's labour.

The oppressor wants money neither as a medium of exchange,--for he takes
whatever he wants without exchange,--nor as a measure of value,--for he
himself determines the value of everything,--but only for the
convenience it affords of exercising violence; and this convenience
consists in the fact that money may be stored up, and is the most
convenient means of holding in slavery the majority of mankind.

It is not convenient to carry away all the cattle in order always to
have horses, cows, and sheep whenever wanted, because they must be fed;
the same holds good with corn, for it may be spoiled; the same with
slaves; sometimes a man may require thousands of workmen, and sometimes
none. Money demanded from those who have not got it makes it possible to
get rid of all these inconveniences and to have everything that is
required; and this is why the oppressor wants money. Besides which, he
wants money so that his right to utilize another man's labour may not be
confined to certain men but may be extended to all men who require the

When there was no money in circulation each landlord could utilize the
labour of his own serfs only; but when they agreed to demand from the
peasants money which they had not, they were enabled to appropriate
without distinction the labour of all men on every estate.

Thus the oppressor finds it more convenient to press all his claims on
labour in the shape of money, and for this sole object is it desired. To
the victim from whom it is taken away money cannot be of use, either for
the purpose of exchange (seeing he exchanges without money, as all
nations have exchanged who had no government); nor for a measure of
value, because this is fixed without him; nor for the purpose of saving,
because the man whose productions are taken away cannot save; neither
for payments, because an oppressed man always has more to pay than to
receive; and if he does receive anything, the payment is made, not in
money, but in articles of merchandise in either case; whether the
workman takes his goods from his master's shop to remunerate his labour,
or whether he buys the necessaries of life with his earnings in other
shops, the money is required from him, and he is told by his oppressors
that if he does not pay it they will refuse to give him land or bread,
or will take away his cow or his horse, or condemn him to work, or put
him in prison. He can only free himself from all this by selling the
products of his toil, his own labour, or that of his children.

He will have to sell this according to the prices established, not by a
regular exchange, but by the authority which demands money of him.

Under the conditions of the influence of tribute and taxes on
prices,--which everywhere and always repeat themselves, as much with the
land-owners in a narrow circle, as with the state on a larger scale (in
which the causes of the modification of prices are as obvious to us, as
the motion of the hands and feet of puppets is obvious to those who look
behind the curtain and see who are the wire-pullers):--under these
circumstances, to say that money is a medium of exchange and a measure
of value, is at least astonishing.


All slavery is based solely on the fact that one man can deprive another
of his life, and by threatening to do so can compel him to do his will.
We may see for certain that whenever one man is enslaved by another,
when, against his own will and by the will of another, he does certain
actions contrary to his inclination, the cause, if traced to its source,
is nothing more nor less than a result of this threat. If a man gives to
others all his labour, has not enough to eat, has to send his little
children from home to work hard, leaves the land, and devotes all his
life to a hated and unnecessary task, which happens before our own eyes
in the world (which we term civilized because we ourselves live in it),
then we may certainly say that he does so only because not to do so
would be equivalent to loss of life.

Therefore in our civilized world, where the majority of the people,
amidst terrible privations, perform hated labours unnecessary to
themselves, the greater number of men are in a slavery based on the
threat of being deprived of their existence. Of what, then, does this
slavery consist? Wherein lies this power of threat?

In olden times the means of subjugation and the threat to kill were
plain and obvious to all: the primitive means of enslaving men then
consisted in a direct threat to kill with the sword.

An armed man said to an unarmed, "I can kill thee, as thou hast seen I
have done to thy brother, but I do not want to do it: I will spare
thee,--first, because it is not agreeable for me to kill thee; secondly,
because, as well for me as for thee, it will be more convenient that
thou shouldst labour for me than that I should kill thee. Therefore do
all I order thee to do, but know that, if thou refusest, I will take thy

So the unarmed man submitted to the armed one and did everything he was
ordered to do. The unarmed man laboured, the armed threatened. This was
that personal slavery which appeared first among all nations, and which
still exists among primitive races.

This means of enslaving always begins the work; but when life becomes
more complicated it undergoes a change. With the complication of life
such a method presents great inconveniences to the oppressor. Before he
can appropriate the labour of the weaker he must feed and clothe them
and keep them at work, and so their number remains small; and, besides,
this compels the slave-holder to remain continually with the slaves,
driving them to work by the threat of murdering them. And thus another
means of subjugation is developed.

Five thousand years ago (according to the Bible) this novel, convenient,
and clever means of oppression was discovered by Joseph the Beautiful.

It is similar to that employed now in the menageries for taming restive
horses and wild beasts.

It is hunger!

This contrivance is thus described in the Bible (Genesis xli., 48-57):--

    And he (Joseph) gathered up all the food of the seven years, which
    were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the
    food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in
    the same.

    And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he
    left numbering; for it was without number.

    And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt,
    were ended.

    And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had
    said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt,
    there was bread.

    And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to
    Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto
    Joseph; what he said to you, do.

    And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened
    all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine
    waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

    And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; even
    because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

Joseph, making use of the primitive means of enslaving men by the threat
of the sword, gathered corn during the years of plenty in expectation of
years of famine which generally follow years of plenty,--men know all
this without the dreams of Pharaoh,--and then by the pangs of hunger he
made all the Egyptians and the inhabitants of the surrounding countries
slaves to Pharaoh more securely and conveniently. And when the people
began to be famished, he arranged matters so as to keep them in his
power _forever_.

    (Genesis xlvii., 13-26.) And there was no bread in all the land; for
    the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land
    of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.

    And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of
    Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought:
    and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house.

    And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of
    Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread:
    for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth. And
    Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle,
    if money fail. And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph
    gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for
    the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with
    bread for all their cattle for that year.

    When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and
    said unto him, We will not hide it from my Lord, how that our money
    is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought
    left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:
    Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy
    us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto
    Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that
    the land be not desolate. And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt
    for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the
    famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh's. And as for
    the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of
    Egypt even to the other end thereof.

    Only the lands of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a
    portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which
    Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.

    Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day
    and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall
    sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye
    shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your
    own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your
    households, and for food for your little ones.

    And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the
    sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.

    And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that
    Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests
    only, which became not Pharaoh's.

Formerly, in order to appropriate labour, Pharaoh had to use violence
towards them; but now, when the stores and the land belonged to Pharaoh,
he had only to keep these stores by force, and hunger compelled the men
to labour for him.

All the land now belonged to Pharaoh, and he had all the stores (which
were taken away from the people); and therefore, instead of driving them
to work individually by the sword, he had only to keep food from them
and they were enslaved, not by the sword, but by hunger.

In a year of scarcity, all men may be starved to death at Pharaoh's
will; and in a year of plenty, all may be killed who, from casual
misfortunes, have no stores of corn.

Thus comes into operation the second means of enslaving, not directly
with the sword,--that is, by the strong man driving the weak one to
labour under threat of killing him,--but by the strong one having taken
away from the weak the stores of corn which, keeping by the sword, he
compels the weak to work for.

Joseph said to the hungry men, "I could starve you to death, because I
have the corn; but I will spare your lives, but only under the condition
that you do all I order you for the food which I will give you." For the
first means of enslaving, the oppressor only needs soldiers to ride to
and fro among the inhabitants, and make them fulfil the requirements of
their master under threat of death. And thus the oppressor has only to
pay his soldiers. But with the second means, besides the soldiers, the
oppressor must have different assistants for keeping and protecting the
land and stores from the starving people.

These are the Josephs and their stewards and distributors. And the
oppressor has to reward them, and to give Joseph a dress of brocade, a
gold ring, and servants, and corn and silver to his brothers and
relatives. Besides this, from the very nature of the second means, not
only the stewards and their relations, but all who have stores of corn
become participators in this violence, just as by the first means, based
upon immediate force, every one who has arms becomes a partner in
tyranny, so by this means, based upon hunger, every one who has stores
of provision shares in it, and has power over those who have no stores.

The advantage of this method over the former consists, first and
chiefly, in the fact that the oppressor need no longer compel the
workmen to do his will by force, for they themselves come to him and
sell themselves to him; secondly, in the circumstance that fewer men
escape from his violence. The drawback is, that he has to employ a
greater number of men. For the oppressed the advantage of it consists in
the fact that they are no longer exposed to rough violence but are left
to themselves; and can always hope to pass from being the oppressed to
becoming oppressors in their turn, which by fortunate circumstances they
sometimes really do. The drawback for them is, that they can never
escape from participating in the oppression of others.

This new means of enslaving generally comes into operation together with
the old one; and the oppressor lessens the one and increases the other
according to his desires. But this does not fully satisfy the man who
wishes to take away as much as possible of the products of the labour of
as many working-people as he can find, and to enslave as many men as
possible; and, therefore, a third means of oppression is evolved.

This is the slavery of taxation, and, like the second, it is based upon
hunger; but to the means of subduing men by depriving them of bread is
added the deprivation of other necessaries.

The oppressor requires from the slaves so much of the money he himself
has coined, that, in order to obtain it, the slaves are compelled to
sell not only stores of corn in greater quantity than the fifth part
which was fixed by Joseph, but the first necessaries of life as
well,--meat, skins, wool, clothes, firewood, even their buildings; and
therefore the oppressor always keeps his slaves in his power, not only
by hunger, but by thirst, cold and other privations.

And thus the third means of slavery comes into operation, a monetary,
tributary one, consisting in the oppressor saying to the oppressed, "I
can do with each of you just what I like; I can kill and destroy you by
taking away the land by which you earn your living; I can, with this
money which you must give me, buy all the corn upon which you feed, and
sell it to strangers, and at any time annihilate you by starvation; I
can take from you all that you have,--your cattle, your houses, your
clothes; but it is neither convenient nor agreeable for me to do so, and
therefore I let you alone, to work as you please; only give me so much
of the money which I demand of you, either as a poll-tax, or according
to your land or the quantity of your food and drink, or your clothes or
your houses. Give me this money, and do what you like among yourselves,
but know that I shall neither protect nor maintain widows nor orphans
nor invalids nor old people, nor such as have been burned out: I shall
only protect the regular circulation of this money. This right will
always be mine, to protect only those who regularly give me the fixed
number of these pieces of money: as to how or where you get it, I shall
not in the least trouble myself." And so the oppressor distributes these
pieces of money as an acknowledgement that his demand has been complied

The second method of enslaving consisted in this, that, having taken
away the fifth part of the harvest, and collected stores of corn,
Pharaoh, besides the personal slavery by the sword, received, by his
assistants, the possibility of dominion over the working-people during
the time of famine, and over some of them during misfortunes which
happen to them.

The third method consists in this: Pharaoh requires from the
working-people more money than the value of the fifth part of corn which
he took from them; he and his assistants get a new means of dominion
over the working-class, not merely during the famine and their casual
misfortunes, but permanently.

By the second method, men retain some stores of corn which help them to
bear indifferent harvests and casual misfortunes without going into
slavery; but by the third, when there are more demands, the stores, not
of corn only but of all other necessaries of life are taken away from
them, and at the first misfortune a workman, having neither stores of
corn nor any other stores which he might exchange for corn, falls into
slavery to those who have money.

To set the first in motion an oppressor need have only soldiers, and
share the booty with them; for the second, besides the protectors of the
land and the stores, he must have collectors and clerks for the
distribution of the corn; for the third, besides the soldiers for
keeping the land and his property, he must have collectors of taxes,
assessors of direct taxation, supervisors, custom-house clerks, managers
of money, and coiners of it.

The organization of the third method is much more complicated than that
of the second. By the second, the getting in of corn may be leased out,
as was done in olden times and is still the custom in Turkey; but by
putting taxes on men there is need of a complicated administration,
which has to ensure the right levying of the taxes. And therefore by the
third method the oppressor has to share the plunder with a still greater
number of men than by the second; besides, according to the very nature
of the thing, all the men of the same or of the foreign country who
possess money become sharers with the oppressed.

The advantage of the third method over the first and second consists
chiefly in the following fact: that by it there is no need to wait for a
year of scarcity, as in the time of Joseph, but years of famine are
established forever, and (whilst by the second method the part of the
labour which is taken away depends upon the harvest, and cannot be
augmented _ad libitum_, because if there is no corn, there is nothing to
take) by the new _monetary_ method the requirement can be brought to any
desired limit, for the demand for money can always be satisfied, because
the debtor, to satisfy it, must sell his cattle, clothes, or houses. The
chief advantage to the oppressor of this method is that he can take away
the greatest quantity of labour in the most convenient way; for a
money-tax, like a screw, may easily and conveniently be turned to the
utmost limit, and golden eggs be obtained though the bird that lays them
is all but dead.

Another of its advantages for the oppressor is that its violence reaches
all those also who, by possessing no land, formerly escaped from it by
giving only a part of their labour for corn; whereas now, besides that
part which they give for corn, they must now give another part for
taxes. A drawback for the oppressor is that he has to share the plunder
with a still greater number of men, not only with his direct assistants,
but also with all those men of his own country, and even of foreign
countries, who may have the money which is demanded from the slaves.

Its advantage for the oppressed is only that he is allowed greater
independence than under the second method; he may live where he chooses,
do what he likes; he may sow or not sow; he has to give no account of
his labour; and if he has money, he may consider himself entirely free,
and constantly hope, though only for a time, to obtain not only an
independent position, but even to become an oppressor himself, when he
has money to spare.

The drawback for the oppressed is, that on a general average their
situation becomes much worse, and they are deprived of the greater part
of the products of their labour, because the number of those who utilize
their labour has increased, and therefore the burden of keeping them
falls upon a smaller number of men.

This third method of enslaving men is also very old, and comes into
operation with the former two without entirely excluding them.

These three methods of enslaving men have always been in operation.

They may all be compared to screws which secure the board laid on the
work-people which presses them down. The fundamental, or middle screw,
without which the other screws could not hold, which is first screwed
up, and which is never slackened, is the screw of personal slavery, the
enslaving of some men by others under threat of slaughter; the second,
which is screwed up after the first, is that of enslaving men by taking
away the land and stores of provisions from them, such alienation being
maintained by the threat to murder; and the third screw is slavery
enforced by the requirement of certain money taxes; and this demand is
also maintained under threat of murder.

These three screws are made fast, and it is only when one of them is
tightened more that the others are slackened. For the complete
enslavement of the workman, all three are necessary; and in our society,
all three are in operation together. The first method of personal
slavery under threat of murder by the sword has never been abolished,
and never will be so long as there is any oppression, because every kind
of oppression is based on this alone.

We are all quite sure that personal slavery is abolished in our
civilized world; that the last remnant of it has been annihilated in
America and in Russia, and that it is only among the barbarians that
real slavery exists, and that with us it is no longer in being. We
forget only one small circumstance,--those hundreds of millions of
standing troops without which no state exists, and with the abolition of
which all the economical organization of each state would inevitably
fall to pieces. Yet what are these millions of soldiers but the personal
slaves of those who rule them? Are not these men compelled to do the
will of their commanders under the threat of torture and death,--a
threat often carried out? the difference consisting only in the fact
that the submission of these slaves is not called slavery, but
discipline, and that slaves are slaves from their birth, but soldiers
only during a more or less short period of their so-called "service."

Personal slavery, therefore, is not only not abolished in our civilized
world, but, under the system of conscription, it has of late years been
confirmed; and it has remained as it has always existed, only slightly
changed from its original form. And it cannot but exist, because, so
long as there is the enslaving of one man by another there will be this
personal slavery too, this slavery which, under the threat of the sword,
maintains serfdom, land-ownership, and taxes.

It may be that this slavery of troops is useful, as it is said, for the
defence and the glory of the country; but this kind of utility is more
than doubtful, because we see how often in the case of unsuccessful wars
it serves only for the subjugation and shame of the country. But of the
expediency of this slavery for maintaining that of the land and taxes
there is no question.

If Irish or Russian peasants were to take possession of the land of the
proprietors, troops would be sent to dispossess them. If you build a
distillery or a brewery and do not pay excise, then soldiers will be
sent to shut it up. Refuse to pay taxes, and the same thing will happen
to you.

The second screw is the method of enslaving men by taking away from them
their land and their stores of provisions. This method has also always
been in existence wherever men are oppressed; and, whatever changes it
may undergo, it is everywhere in operation.

Sometimes all the land belongs to the sovereign, as in Turkey, and there
one-tenth is given to the state treasury. Sometimes a part of the land
belongs to the sovereign, and taxes are raised on it. Sometimes all the
land belongs to a few people and is let out for labour, as in England.
Sometimes more or less large portions of land belong to the land-owners,
as in Russia, Germany, and France. But wherever there is enslaving there
exists also the appropriation of the land by the oppressor, and this
screw is slackened or tightened only according to the condition of the
other screws.

Thus, in Russia, when personal slavery was extended to the majority of
the working-people there was no need of land-slavery; but the screw of
personal slavery was slackened in Russia only when the screws of land
and tax slavery were tightened. Only when the government had
appropriated the land and divided it among private individuals, and had
instituted money payments and taxation, did it give the peasants
personal freedom.

In England, for instance, land-slavery is pre-eminently in operation,
and the question about the nationalizing of the land consists only in
the screw of taxation being tightened in order that the screw of land
appropriation may be slackened.

The third method of enslaving men, by taxes, has also been in operation
for ages; and in our days, with the extension of uniform standards of
money and the strengthening of state powers it has become an especially
powerful influence.

This method is so developed in our days that it tends to be a substitute
for the second method of enslaving,--the land monopoly.

It is obvious from the state of the political economy of all Europe,
that it is by the tightening of this screw that the screw of land
slavery is slackened.

In our own lifetime we have witnessed in Russia two transformations of
slavery. When the serfs were liberated, and their landlords retained the
right to the greater part of the soil, the landlords were afraid they
would lose their power; but experience has shown that having let go the
whole chain of personal slavery, they had only to seize another,--that
of the land. A peasant was short of corn; he had not enough to live on.
The landlord had land and stores of corn: and therefore the peasant
still remained the same slave.

Another transformation was caused by the government screw of taxation
being pressed home. The majority of working-people, having no stores,
were obliged to sell themselves to their landlords and to the factories.
This new form of oppression held the people still tighter, so that
nine-tenths of the Russian working-people are still working for their
landlords and in the factories to pay these taxes. This is so obvious,
that, if the government were to remit taxation for one year only, all
labour would be stopped in the fields of the landlords, and in the
factories. Nine-tenths of the Russian people hire themselves out during
and before the collection of taxes.

All these three methods have never ceased to operate, and are still in
operation, but people are inclined to ignore them or to invent new
excuses for them. And, what is most remarkable of all is, that the very
means on which everything is based, that screw which is screwed up
tighter than all others, which holds everything at the moment in
question, is not noticed so long as it holds. When in the ancient world
the entire economical order was upheld by personal slavery, the greatest
intellects did not notice it. To Plato, as well as to Xenophon, and
Aristotle, and to the Romans, it seemed that it could not be otherwise,
and that slavery was an unavoidable and natural result of wars, without
which the existence of mankind was inconceivable. Similarly, in the
Middle Ages, and till recently, people did not apprehend the meaning of
land-ownership, on which depended the entire economical organization of
their time.

So also, at present, no one sees or wants to see, that in our time the
slavery of the majority of the people depends on taxes collected by the
government from its own land slaves, taxes collected _by administration
and the troops_,--by the very same troops which are maintained by these


No wonder that the slaves themselves, who have always been enslaved, do
not understand their own position, and that this condition in which they
have always lived is considered by them to be natural to human life, and
that they hail as a relief any change in their form of slavery; no
wonder that their owners sometimes quite sincerely think they are, in a
measure, freeing the slaves by slacking one screw, though they are
compelled to do so by the over-tension of another.

Both become accustomed to their state; and the slaves, never having
known what freedom is, merely seek an alleviation, or only the change of
their condition; the other, the owners, wishing to mask their injustice,
try to assign a particular meaning to those new forms of slavery which
they enforce in place of the older ones. But it is wonderful how the
majority of the critics of the economic conditions of the life of the
people fail to see that which forms the basis of the entire economic
conditions of a people.

One would think the duty of a true science would be to try to ascertain
the connection of the phenomena and general cause of a series of
occurrences. But the majority of the representatives of modern Political
Economy are doing just the reverse of this: they carefully hide the
connection and meaning of the phenomena, and avoid answering the most
simple and essential questions.

Modern Political Economy, like an idle, lazy cart-horse, goes well only
down-hill, when it has no collar-work; but as soon as it has anything to
draw, it at once refuses, pretending it has to go somewhere aside after
its own business. When any grave, essential question is put to Political
Economy, scientific discussions are started about some other matter
having only in view to divert attention from this subject.

You ask, "How are we to account for a fact so unnatural, monstrous,
unreasonable, and not useless only, but harmful, that some men can eat
or work only according to the will of other men?"

You are gravely answered, "Because some men must arrange the labour and
feeding of others, such is the law of production."

You ask, "What is this property-right which allows some men to
appropriate to themselves the land, food, and instruments of labour
belonging to others?" You are again gravely answered, "This right is
based upon the protection of labour,"--that is, the protection of some
men's labour is effected by taking possession of the labour of other

You ask, "What is that money which is everywhere coined and stamped by
the governments, by the authorities, and which is so exorbitantly
demanded from the working-people, and which in the shape of national
debts is levied upon the future generations of workingmen? Further, has
not this money, demanded from the people in the shape of taxes which are
raised to the utmost pitch, has not this money any influence on the
economic relationships of men,--between the payers and the receivers?"
And you are answered in all seriousness, "Money is an article of
merchandise like sugar, or chintz; and it differs from other articles
only in the fact that it is more convenient for exchange."

As for the influence of taxes on the economic conditions of a people, it
is a different question altogether: the laws of production, exchange,
and distribution of wealth, are one thing, but taxation is quite
another. You ask whether it has any influence on the economic conditions
of a people that the government can arbitrarily raise or lower prices,
and, having increased the taxes, can make slaves of all who have no
land? The pompous answer is, "The laws of production, exchange, and
distribution of wealth constitute one science,--Political Economy; and
taxes, and, generally speaking, State Economy, come under another
head,--the Law of Finance."

You ask finally, "Is no influence exercised on economic conditions by
the circumstance that all the people are in bondage to the government,
and that this government can arbitrarily ruin them all, can take away
all the products of their labour, and even carry the men themselves away
from their work into military slavery?" You are answered, "This is
altogether a different question, belonging to the State Law."

The majority of the representatives of science discuss quite seriously
the laws of the economic life of a people, while all the functions and
activities of this life are dependent on the will of the oppressor.
Whilst they recognize the influence of the oppressor as a natural
condition of a nation's life, they do just what a critic of the economic
conditions of the life of the personal slaves of different masters would
do, were he to omit to consider the influence exercised on the life of
these slaves by the will of that master who compels them to work on this
or that thing and drives them from one place to another according to his
pleasure, who feeds them or neglects to do so, who kills them or leaves
them alive.

A noxious superstition has been long in existence and still survives,--a
superstition which has done more harm to men than the most terrible
religious superstitions.

And so-called science supports this superstition with all its power, and
with the utmost zeal. This superstition exactly resembles religious
superstitions. It consists in affirming that, besides the duties of man
to man, there are still more important duties towards an imaginary
being,--which the theologians call God, and the political scientists the

The religious superstition consists in affirming that sacrifices, even
of human lives, must be offered to this imaginary being, and that they
can and ought to be enforced by every means, even by violence. The
political superstition consists in the belief that, besides the duties
of man to man, there are still more important duties to an imaginary
being, the State; and the offerings,--often of human lives,--brought to
this imaginary being are also essential, and can and ought to be
enforced by every means, even by violence.

This superstition it is, formerly encouraged by the priests of different
religions, which is now sustained by so-called science.

Men are thrown into slavery, into the most terrible slavery, worse than
has ever before existed; but Political Science tries to persuade men
that it is necessary and unavoidable.

The state must exist for the welfare of the people, and it must do its
duty, to rule and protect them from their enemies. For this purpose the
state needs money and troops. Money must be subscribed by all the
citizens of the state. And hence all the relations of men must be
considered in the light of the existence of the state.

"I want to help my father by my labour," says a common unlearned man. "I
want also to marry; but instead, I am taken and sent to Kazan, to be a
soldier for six years. I leave the military service, I want to plough
the ground to earn food and drink for my family; but I am not allowed to
plough for a hundred versts around me unless I pay money, which I have
not got, and pay it to those men who do not know how to plough, and who
demand for the land so much money that I must give them all my labour to
procure it: however, I still manage to save something, and wish to give
this to my children; but a police official comes and takes from me all I
had saved, for taxes: I can earn a little more, and again I am deprived
of it. My entire economic activity is at the mercy of state demands; and
it seems to me that my position and that of my brethren, will certainly
improve if we are liberated from the demands of the state."

But he is told, "Such reasoning is the result of your ignorance. Study
the laws of production, exchange, and distribution of wealth, and do not
mix up economical questions with those of the state. The phenomena which
you point to are no restraints on your freedom; they are the necessary
sacrifices which you, along with others, must make for your own freedom
and welfare."

"But my son has been taken away from me," says again a common man; "and
they threaten to take away all my sons as soon as they are grown up:
they took him away by force, and drove him to face the enemy's guns in
some country which we have never heard of, and for an object which we
cannot understand.

"And as for the land which they will not allow us to plough, and for
want of which we are starving, it belongs to a man who got possession of
it by force, and whom we have never seen, and whose usefulness we cannot
even understand. And the taxes, to collect which the police official has
by force taken my cow from my children, will, so far as I know, go to
this same man who took my cow away, and to various members of the
committees and of departments which I do not know of, and in the utility
of which I do not believe. How is it, then, that all these acts of
violence secure my liberty, and all this evil procures good?"

You may compel a man to be a slave and to do that which he considers to
be evil for himself, but you cannot compel him to think, that, in
suffering violence, he is free, and that the obvious evil which he
endures constitutes his good. This appears impossible. Yet by the help
of science this very thing has been done in our time.

The state, that is, the armed oppressors, decide what they want from
those whom they oppress (as in the case of England and the
Fiji-Islanders): they decide how much labour they want from their
slaves,--they decide how many assistants they will need in collecting
the fruits of this labour; they organize their assistants in the shape
of soldiers, land-owners, and collectors of taxes. And the slaves give
their labour, and, at the same time, believe that they give it, not
because their masters demand it, but for the sake of their own freedom
and welfare; and that this service and these bloody sacrifices to the
divinity called the State are necessary, and that, except this service
to their Deity, they are free. They believe this because the same had
been formerly said in the name of religion by the priests, and is now
said in the name of so-called science, by learned men.

But one need only cease to believe what is said by these other men who
call themselves priests or learned men, for the absurdity of such an
assertion to become obvious.

The men who oppress others assure them that this oppression is necessary
for the state,--and the state is necessary for the freedom and welfare
of men; so that it appears that the oppressors oppress men for the sake
of their freedom, and do them evil for the sake of good.

But men are furnished with reason so that they may understand wherein
consists their own good, and do it willingly.

As for the acts, the goodness of which is not intelligible to men, and
to which they are compelled by force, these cannot be for their good,
because a reasoning being can consider as good only the thing which
appears so to his reason. If men are driven to evil through passion or
folly, all that those who are not so driven can do is to persuade the
others into what constitutes their real good. You may try to persuade
men that their welfare will be greater when they are all soldiers, are
deprived of land, and have given their entire labour away for taxes; but
until all men consider this condition to be welfare, and undertake it
willingly, one cannot call such a state of things the common welfare of

The sole criterion of a good conception is its willing acceptance by
men. And the lives of men abound with such acts. Ten workmen buy tools
in common, in order to work together with them, and in so doing they are
undoubtedly benefitting themselves; but we cannot suppose that if these
ten workmen were to compel an eleventh, by force, to join in their
association, they would insist that their common welfare will be the
same for him.

So with gentlemen who agree to give a subscription dinner at a pound a
head to a mutual friend; no one can assert that such a dinner will
benefit a man who, against his will, has been obliged to pay a sovereign
for it. And so with peasants who decide, for their common convenience,
to dig a pond. To those who consider the existence of a pond more
valuable than the labour spent on it, digging it will be a common good.
But to the one who considers the pond of less value than a day's
harvesting in which he is behind-hand, digging it will appear evil. The
same holds good with roads, churches, and museums, and with all various
social and state affairs.

All such work may be good for those who consider it good, and who
therefore freely and willingly perform it,--the dinner which the
gentlemen give, the pond which the peasants dig. But work to which men
must be driven by force ceases to be a common good precisely by the fact
of such violence.

All this is so plain and simple, that, if men had not been so long
deceived, there would be no need to explain it.

Suppose we live in a village where all the inhabitants have agreed to
build a road over a swamp which is a danger to them. We agree together,
and each house promises to give so much money or wood or days of labour.
We agree to this because the making of the road is more advantageous to
us than what we exchange for it; but among us there are some for whom it
is more advantageous to do without a road than to spend money on it, or
who at all events think so. Can compelling these men to labour make it
of advantage to them? Obviously not; because those who considered that
their choosing to join in making the way would have been
disadvantageous, will consider it _a fortiori_ still more
disadvantageous when they are _compelled_ to do so. Suppose, even, that
we all, without exception, were agreed, and promised so much money or
labour from each house, but that it happened that some of those who had
promised did not give what they agreed, their circumstances having
meanwhile changed, so that it was more advantageous for such now to be
without the road than to spend money on it; or that they have simply
changed their mind about it; or even calculate that others will make the
road without them and that they will then use it. Can coercing these men
to join in the labour make them consider that the sacrifices are
enforced for their own good?

Obviously not; because, if these men have not fulfilled what they
promised, owing to a change in circumstances, so that now the sacrifices
for the sake of the road outbalance their gain by it, the compulsory
sacrifices of such would be only a worse evil. But if those who refuse
to join in building the road intend to utilize the labour of the others,
then in this case also coercing them into making a sacrifice would be
only a punishment on a supposition, and their object, which nobody can
prove, will be punished before it is made apparent; but in neither case
can coercing them to join in a work which they do not desire be good for

If this is so with sacrifices for a work which every one can comprehend,
obvious, and undoubtedly useful to everyone, such as a road over a
swamp; how still more unjust and unreasonable is it to coerce millions
of men into making sacrifices for objects which are incomprehensible,
imperceptible, and often undoubtedly harmful, such as military service
and taxation.

But, according to science, what appears to every one to be an evil is a
common good: it appears that there are men, a small minority, who alone
know of what the common good consists, and, notwithstanding the fact
that all other men consider this good to be an evil, this minority can
compel the others to do whatever they may consider to be for the common
good. And it is this belief which constitutes the chief superstition and
the chief deceit and hinders the progress of mankind towards the True
and the Good.

To nurse this superstitious deceit has been the object of political
sciences in general, and of so-called "Political Economy" in particular.

Many are making use of its aims in order to hide from men the state of
oppression and slavery in which they now are.

The way they set about doing so is by starting the theory that the
violence connected with the economy of social slavery is a natural and
unavoidable evil; and men thereby are deceived and turn their eyes from
the real causes of their misfortunes.

Slavery has long been abolished. It has been abolished in Rome as well
as in America, and in Russia; but only the word has been abolished,--not
the evil.

Slavery is the violent freeing of some men from the labour necessary for
satisfying their wants, which transfers this labour to others; and
wherever there is a man who does not work, not because others willingly
and lovingly work for him, but because he has the possibility, while not
working himself, to make others work for him, there slavery exists.

Wherever there are, as in all European societies, men who utilize the
labour of thousands of others by coercion, and consider such to be their
right, and others who submit to this coercion considering it to be their
duty,--there you have slavery in its most dreadful proportions.

Slavery exists. In what, then, does it consist? Slavery consists of that
of which it has always consisted, and without which it cannot exist at
all,--in the coercion of a weak and unarmed man by a strong and armed

Slavery in its three fundamental modes of operation,--personal violence,
the military, land-taxes,--maintained by the military, and direct and
indirect taxes put upon all the inhabitants, is still in operation now
as it has been before.

We do not see it because each of these three forms of slavery has
received a new justification, which hides its meaning from us.

The personal violence of armed over unarmed men has been justified as
the defence of one's country from imaginary enemies,--while in its
essence it has the one old meaning, the submission of the conquered to
the oppressors.

The violent seizure of the labourers' land has been justified as the
recompense for services rendered to an imaginary common welfare, and
confirmed by the right of heritage; but in reality it is the same
dispossession of men from their land and enslaving them which was
performed by the troops.

And the last, the monetary violence by means of taxes, the strongest and
most effective in our days, has received a most wonderful justification.

Dispossessing men of their liberty and their goods is said to be done
for the sake of the common liberty and of the common welfare. But in
fact it is the same slavery, only an impersonal one.

Wherever violence becomes law, there is slavery.

Whether violence finds its expression in the circumstance that princes
with their courtiers come, kill, and burn down villages; whether
slave-owners take labour or money for the land from their slaves, and
enforce payment by means of armed men, or by putting taxes on others,
and riding armed to and fro in the villages; or whether a Home
Department collects money through governors or police sergeants,--in one
word, as long as violence is maintained by the bayonet,--there will be
no distribution of wealth, but it will be accumulated among the

As a striking illustration of the truth of this assertion the project of
Henry George to nationalize the land may serve us. Henry George proposes
to declare all land the property of the state, and to substitute a
land-rent for all taxes, direct and indirect. That is, everyone who
utilizes the land would have to pay to the state the value of its rent.

What would be the result? The land would belong to the state,--English
land to England, American land to America, and so on; that is, there
would be slavery, determined by the quantity of cultivated land. It
might be that the condition of some labourers would improve; but while a
forcible demand for rent remained, the slavery would remain too. The
cultivator, after a bad harvest, being unable to pay the rent exacted of
him by force, would be obliged to enslave himself to any one who
happened to have the money in order not to lose everything and to retain
the land.

If a pail leaks, there must be a hole. Looking at the pail, we might
imagine the water runs from many holes; but no matter how we might try
to stop the imaginary holes from without, the water would not cease
running. In order to put a stop to the leakage we must find the place
from which water runs, and stop it from the inside.

The same holds good with the proposed means of stopping the irregular
distribution of wealth,--the holes through which the wealth runs away
from the people.

It is said, _Organize workmen's corporations, make capital social
property, make land social property_. All this is only mere stopping
from the outside those holes from which we fancy the water runs. In
order to stop the wealth going from the hands of the workers to those of
the non-workers, it is necessary to try to find from the inside the hole
through which this leakage takes place. And this hole is the violence of
armed men towards unarmed men, the violence of troops, by means of which
men are carried away from their labour, and the land, and the products
of labour, taken from them.

So long as there is one armed man, whoever he may be, with the
acknowledged right to kill another man, so long will there also exist an
unjust distribution of wealth,--in other words, slavery.

I was led into the error that I can help others by the fact that I
imagined my money was as good as Semion's. But it was not so.

The general opinion is that money represents wealth; that wealth is the
result of work and therefore that money represents work. This opinion is
as just as the opinion asserting that every form of state is the result
of a contract (contrat social).

All men like to believe that money is only a means of exchange of
labour. I have made boots, you have made bread, he has fed sheep; now,
in order to exchange our wares the more conveniently, we introduce
money, which represents the corresponding share of labour, and through
it we exchange leather soles for a mutton brisket and ten pounds of

By means of money we exchange our products and this money, belonging to
each of us, represents our labour. This is perfectly true, but true only
while in the community, where this exchange takes place, violence of one
man towards another did not appear, violence not only over another man's
labour, as happens in war and in slavery, but not even violence applied
to defend the products of labour of one man against another. This could
be only in a community whose members entirely fulfil the Christian
law,--in a community where one gets what he demands and where one is not
requested to return what he gets. But as soon as violence in any form is
applied in the community, the meaning of money for its owner at once
loses its significance as a representative of labour, and acquires the
significance of a right, based not on labour, but on violence.

As soon as there is war and one man has taken away something from
another, then money cannot always represent labour; the money received
by the soldier for the booty he has sold, as well as the money got by
his superior, is by no means the produce of their work and has quite a
different meaning from the money received for the labour resulting in
boots. When there are slave-owners and slaves, as have been always in
the world, then one cannot assert that money represents labour. The
women have woven a quantity of linen, have sold it and received money;
the serfs have woven some linen for their master, and the master has
sold it and received money. The one and the other money are the same;
but one is the product of labour and the other is the product of
violence. Likewise, if somebody,--say my father,--made me a present of
money and he, when giving it to me, knew, and I knew and everybody knew,
that no one can take this money away from me, that if anybody tried to
take it, or even merely failed to return it at the date promised, then
the authorities would defend me and by force compel the man to return me
this money,--then again it is evident that by no means can this money be
called a representative of labour, like the money which Semion got for
cutting wood.

Thus in a community, where by some kind of violence somebody's money is
taken possession of, or the ownership of somebody's money defended
against others--there money cannot always represent labour. It
represents in such a community sometimes labour, sometimes violence.

So it would be if only one fact of violence of one man over another
appeared in the midst of perfectly free relations; but now, when the
accumulated money has passed through centuries of most various forms of
violence, when these acts of violence continue under other forms; when
money itself by its accumulation creates violence,--which is recognized
by everybody,--when the direct products of labour constitute only a
small part of money made up of all sorts of violence,--to assert now
that money represents the work of its owner is an obvious error, or an
open lie. One may say it ought to be so, one may say it is desirable
that it should be so, but by no means can any one say that it is so.

Money represents labour. Yes; money represents labour, but whose labour?
In our society it is only in the rarest cases that money represents the
work of its owner. Almost always it represents the labour of other
men,--the past or future labours of men. It is the representative of a
claim on the labour of other men by force of violence.

Money, in its most exact and at the same time its simplest definition,
represents conventional signs, which bestow the right,--or rather the
possibility,--to use the work of other men. In its ideal meaning, money
ought to give this right or possibility only when it serves itself as a
representative of labour, and as such, money could exist in a society
devoid of any kind of violence. But as soon as violence takes place in a
society, i.e., the possibility of the utilizing of the labour of others
by the idler,--then this possibility of using the labour of others,
without defining persons over which this violence is committed, is also
exercised in money.

The landowner taxed his serfs by a contribution in kind, making them
bring a certain quantity of linen, corn, cattle, or a corresponding
amount of money. One household delivered the cattle, but the linens were
replaced by money. The landowner accepts the money in a certain
quantity, only because he knows that for this money he can get the same
pieces of linen (generally he takes a little more money to be sure that
he will receive for it the same quantity of linen), and this money
evidently offers for the landowner lien on other men's labour.

The peasant gives money as a security against persons unknown but
numerous, who would undertake to work out so much linen for this money.
Those who will undertake to work the linen will do it because they did
not succeed in feeding the sheep, and for these they must pay in money;
and the peasant who will get the money for the sheep will take it, only
because he must pay for the corn, which was a failure that year. The
same goes on in the State and all over the world.

A man sells the produce of his past, present or future labour, sometimes
his food-stuff, not mostly because money is a convenient exchange for
him,--he would exchange without money,--but because he is required by
means of violence to give money, as a security on his work.

When Pharaoh has demanded the labour of his slaves, then the slaves have
given him all their labour, but they could give only the past and
present labour, and could not give that of the future. But with the
spread of money tokens and their result of "credit" it becomes possible
to give also one's future work for money.

Money, with the existence of violence in society, offers the means for a
new form of impersonal slavery, which replaces the personal one. A
slave-owner claims a right to the work of Peter, Iván, Sidor. But
wherever money is required from everybody, the owner of money acquires a
claim on the labour of all those unknown people who are in need of
money. Money removes the painful side of slavery, by which the owner
knows about his right on Iván, at the same time it removes all those
human relations between the owner and the slave, which softened down the
burden of personal slavery.

I will not dwell on the theory that perhaps such a state is necessary
for the development of mankind, for its progress and so forth--I will
not dispute it. I only strive to make clear to myself the conception of
money and to discover the general misconception I have made in accepting
money, as a representative of labour. I became convinced by experience
that money is not a representative of labour, but in the great majority
of cases is a representative of violence, or of specially complex
artifices founded on violence.

Money in our time has already altogether lost the desirable significance
of being the representative of labour; such significance it may have in
exceptional cases, but as a rule it has become the right or the
possibility of using the labour of others.

This spreading of money, of credit and different conventional signs,
more and more confirm this meaning of money. Money is the possibility or
the right to use the labours of others.

Money is a new form of slavery differing from the old form of slavery
only by its impersonality, by the freedom it gives from all human
relations to the slave.

Money is money, a value always equal to itself, and which is always
considered quite correct and lawful, and the use of which is not
considered immoral, as slavery was.

In my young days a game of lotto was introduced in the clubs. All
eagerly played the game and, as was said, many lost their fortunes,
ruined their families, lost money entrusted to them, and government
funds, and finally shot themselves, so that the game was forbidden and
is still forbidden.

I remember I have met old, hardened card players who told me that this
game was especially fascinating, because one did not know whom one was
to beat, as is the case in other games; the attendant does not even
serve one with money, but with counters, everybody loses a small stake
and does not betray grief. It is the same in roulette, which is rightly
forbidden everywhere.

So it is with money. I have a magical, everlasting ruble; I cut off
coupons and live apart from all the affairs of the world. Whom do I
harm? I am the most quiet and kind-hearted man. But this is only a game
of lotto or roulette where I do not see the man, who shoots himself
after having lost, and who provides for me these small coupons, which I
carefully cut off under the right angle from the tickets.

I have done nothing, I am doing nothing, and never will do anything,
save cut off the coupons, and firmly believe that money represents
labour. This is really astounding! And people talk of lunatics! But what
mania could be more horrible than this? An intelligent, learned, and in
all other respects sensible man lives madly, and soothes himself by not
acknowledging that one thing which he should acknowledge to make his
argument reasonable, and he considers himself in the right! The coupons
are representatives of labour! Of labour! Yes, but of whose labour? Not
of his, who owns them, evidently, but of the one who works.

Money is the same as slavery; its aim is the same and its consequences
are the same. Its aim is the freeing of some men from the original law,
truly called so by a thoughtful writer of the working-classes, from the
natural law of life, as we call it, from the law of personal labour for
the satisfaction of one's needs. The consequences of the slavery for the
owner: the begetting, the invention of infinitely more and more needs
never to be satisfied, of effeminate wretchedness and of depravity, and
for the slaves,--oppression of the man, and his lowering to the level of
a beast.

Money is a new and terrible form of slavery and, like the old form of
personal slavery, it equally demoralises the slave and the slave-owner,
but it is so much worse, because it frees the slave and the slave-owner
from personal human relations.


I always wonder at the often repeated words, "Yes, it is all true in
theory, but how is it in practice?" As though the theory were only a
collection of words useful for conversation, and not as though all
practice,--that is, all activity of life--were inevitably based upon it.

There must have been an immense number of foolish theories in the world
for men to employ such wonderful reasoning. We know that theory is what
a man thinks about a thing, and practice is what he does. How can a man
think that he ought to act in one way, and then do quite the reverse? If
the theory of baking bread consists in this, that first of all one must
knead the dough, then put it by to rise, anyone knowing it would be a
fool to do the reverse. But with us it has come into fashion to say, "It
is all very well in theory, but how would it be in practice?"

In all that has occupied me practice has unavoidably followed theory,
not mainly in order to justify it, but because it could not help doing
so: if I have understood the affair upon which I have meditated I cannot
help doing it in the way in which I have understood it.

I wished to help the needy only because I had money to spare: and I
shared the general superstition that money represents labour, and,
generally speaking, is something lawful and good in itself. But, having
begun to give this money away, I saw that I was only drawing bills of
exchange collected from poor people; that I was doing the very thing the
old landlords used to do in compelling some of their serfs to work for
other serfs.

I saw that every use of money, whether buying anything with it, or
giving it away gratis, is a drawing of bills of exchange on poor people,
or passing them to others to be drawn by them. And therefore I clearly
understood the foolishness of what I was doing in helping the poor by
exacting money from them.

I saw that money in itself was not only not a good thing, but obviously
an evil one, depriving men of their chief good, labour, and that this
very good I cannot give to anyone because I am myself deprived of it: I
have neither labour nor the happiness of utilizing my labour.

It might be asked by some, "What is there so peculiarly important in
abstractly discussing the meaning of money?" But this argument which I
have opened is not merely for the sake of discussion, but in order to
find an answer to the vital question which had caused me so much
suffering, and on which my life depended, in order to discover what I
was to do.

As soon as I understood what wealth means, what money means, then it
became clear and certain what I have to do, it became clear and certain
what all others have to do,--and that they will inevitably do it, what
all men must do. In reality I merely came to realize what I have long
known,--that truth which has been transmitted to men from the oldest
times, by Buddha, by Isaiah, by Laotse, by Socrates, and most clearly
and definitely by Jesus and his predecessor John the Baptist.

John the Baptist, in answer to men's question "What shall we do then?"
answered plainly and briefly, "He that hath two coats, let him impart to
him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise"
(Luke iii., 10, 11).

The same thing, and with still greater clearness, said Jesus,--blessing
the poor, and uttering woes on the rich. He said that no man can serve
God and mammon. He forbade his disciples not only to take money, but
also to have two coats. He said to the rich young man that he could not
enter into the kingdom of God because he was rich, and that it is easier
for a camel to go through the needle's eye than for a rich man to enter
the kingdom of God.

He said that he who would not leave every thing--his houses and children
and his fields--in order to follow him, was not his disciple. He spoke a
parable about a rich man who had done nothing wrong (like our own rich
people), but merely dressed well and ate and drank well, yet by this
lost his own soul; and about a beggar named Lazarus, who had done
nothing good, but who had saved his soul by his beggar's life.

This truth had long been known to me; but the false teaching of the
world had so cunningly hidden it that it became a theory in the sense
which men like to attach to this word,--that is, a pure abstraction. But
as soon as I succeeded in pulling down in my consciousness the sophistry
of the world's teaching, then theory became one with practice and the
reality of my life and the life of all men became its unavoidable

I came to understand that man, besides living for his own good, must
work for the good of others; and that if we were to draw our comparison
from the world of animals, as some men are so fond of doing in
justifying violence and contest by the law of the struggle for
existence, we must take this comparison from the lives of social animals
like bees; and therefore man, to say nothing of that love to his
neighbours which is incumbent on him, is called upon to serve his
fellows and their common object, as much by reason as by his very

I understood that this is the natural law of man, by fulfilling which he
can alone fulfil his calling and therefore be happy. I understood that
this law has been and is being violated by the fact that men (as
robber-bees do) free themselves from labour by violence, and utilize the
labour of others, using this labour not for the common purpose but for
the personal satisfaction of their constantly increasing lusts, and
also, like robber-bees, they perish thereby. I understood that the
misfortune of men comes from the slavery in which some men are kept by
others; and I understood that this slavery is brought about in our days
by military force, violence, by the appropriation of land, and by the
exaction of money.

And, having understood the meaning of all these three instruments of
modern slavery, I could not help desiring to free myself from any share
in it.

When I was a landlord, possessing serfs, and came to understand the
immorality of such a position, I, along with other men who had
understood the same thing, tried to free myself from it. And I freed
myself from this state thus. Finding it immoral, but not being able as
yet to free myself wholly from it, I tried meanwhile to assert my rights
as a serf-owner as little as possible.

I cannot help doing the same now with reference to the present
slavery--that is, I try as little as possible to assert my claims while
I am unable to free myself from the power which gives me land-ownership,
and from money raised by the violence of military force--and at the same
time by all means in my power to suggest to other men the unlawfulness
and inhumanity of these imaginary rights.

The share in enslaving men consists, on the standpoint of a slave-owner,
in utilizing the labour of others. (It is all the same whether the
enslaving is based on a claim to the person of the slave or on the
possession of land or money.) And, therefore, if a man really does not
like slavery and does not desire to be a partaker in it, the first thing
which he must do is this: neither take men's labour by serving the
government, nor possess land or money.

The refusal of all the means in use for taking another's labour will
unavoidably bring such a man to the necessity of lessening his wants on
the one hand, and, on the other, of doing himself what formerly was done
for him by other men. This simple and unavoidable conclusion enters into
every detail of my life, changes it entirely, and at once sets me free
from the moral sufferings I had endured at the sight of the misery and
wickedness of men.

The first cause was the accumulation of people in towns, and the
absorption there of the products of the country.

All that a man needs is not to desire to take another's labour by
serving the government and possessing land and money, and then,
according to his strength and ability, to satisfy unaided his own wants.
The idea of leaving his village would never enter the mind of such a
man, because in the country it is easier for him to satisfy his wants
personally, while in a town everything is the product of the labour of
others, all must be bought; in the country a man will always be able to
help the needy, and will not experience that feeling of being useless,
which I felt in the town when I wanted to help men, not with my own, but
with other men's labours.

The second cause was the estrangement between the poor and the rich. A
man need only not desire to profit by other men's labour by serving the
government and possessing land and money, and he would be compelled to
satisfy his wants himself, and at once involuntarily that barrier would
be pushed down which separates him from the working-people, and he would
be one with the people, standing shoulder to shoulder with them, and
seeing the possibility of helping them.

The third cause was shame, based on the consciousness of the immorality
of possessing money with which I wanted to help others. A man need only
not desire to profit by another man's labour by serving the government
and possessing land and money, and he will never have that superfluous
"fool's money," the fact of possessing which made those who wanted money
ask me for pecuniary assistance which I was not able to satisfy, and
called forth in me the consciousness of my unrighteousness.


I saw that the cause of the sufferings and depravity of men lies in the
fact that some men are in bondage to others; and therefore I came to the
obvious conclusion that if I want to help men I have first of all to
leave off causing those very misfortunes which I want to remedy,--in
other words, I must not share in the enslaving of men.

I was led to the enslaving of men by the circumstance that from my
infancy I had been accustomed not to work, but to profit by the labour
of others, and that I had been living in a society which is not only
accustomed to this slavery but which justifies it by all kinds of
sophistry, clever and foolish.

I came to the following simple conclusion, that, in order to avoid
causing the sufferings and depravity of men, I ought to make other men
work for me as little as possible and to work myself as much as

It was by this roundabout way that I arrived at the inevitable
conclusion to which the Chinese arrived some thousand years ago, and
which they express thus: "If there is one idle man, there must be
another who is starving."

I came to this simple and natural conclusion, that if I pity the
exhausted horse on whose back I ride the first thing for me to do if I
really pity him is to get off his back and walk. This answer, which
gives such complete satisfaction to the moral sense, had always been
before my eyes, as it is before the eyes of every one, but we do not all
see it, and look aside.

In seeking to heal our social diseases we look everywhere,--to the
governmental, anti-governmental, scientific, and philanthropic
superstitions,--and yet we do not see that which meets the eyes of every
one. We fill our drains with filth and require other men to clean them,
and pretend to be very sorry for them and want to ease their work; and
we invent all sorts of devices except one, the simplest; namely, that we
should ourselves remove our slops so long as we find it necessary to
produce them in our rooms.

For him who really suffers from the sufferings of the other men
surrounding him, there exists a most clear, simple, and easy means, the
only one sufficient to heal this evil and to confer a sense of the
lawfulness of one's life. This means is that which John the Baptist
recommended when he answered the question, "What shall we do then?" and
which was confirmed by Christ: not to have more than one coat, and not
to possess money,--that is, not to profit by another man's labour. And
in order not to profit by another's labour, we must do with our own
hands all that we can do. This is so plain and simple! But it is plain
and simple and clear only when our wants are also plain, and when we
ourselves are still sound and not corrupted to the backbone by idleness
and laziness.

I live in a village, lie by the stove, and tell my neighbour, who is my
debtor, to chop wood and light the stove. It is obvious that I am lazy
and take my neighbour away from his own work; and at last I feel ashamed
of it; and besides, it grows dull for me to be always lying down when my
muscles are strong and accustomed to work,--and I go to chop the wood

But slavery of all kinds has been going on so long, so many artificial
wants have grown about it, so many people with different degrees of
familiarity with these wants are interwoven with one another, through so
many generations men have been spoiled and made effeminate, such
complicated temptations and justifications of luxury and idleness have
been invented by men, that for one who stands on the top of the pyramid
of idle men, it is not at all so easy to understand his sin as it is for
the peasant who compels his neighbour to light his stove.

Men who stand at the top find it most difficult to understand what is
required of them. From the height of the structure of lies on which they
stand they become giddy when they look at that spot on the earth to
which they must descend in order to begin to live, not righteously, but
only not quite inhumanly; and that is why this plain and clear truth
appears to these men so strange.

A man who employs ten servants in livery, coachmen and cooks, who has
pictures and pianos, must certainly regard as strange and even
ridiculous the simple preliminary duty of, I do not say a good man, but
of every man who is not an animal, to hew that wood with which his food
is cooked and by which he is warmed; to clean those boots in which he
carelessly stepped into the mud; to bring that water with which he keeps
himself clean; and to carry away those slops in which he has washed

But besides the estrangement of men from the truth, there is another
cause which hinders them from seeing the duty of doing the most simple
and natural physical work; that is the complication and intermingling of
the conditions in which a rich man lives.

This morning I entered the corridor in which the stoves are heated. A
peasant was heating the stove which warmed my son's room. I entered his
bedroom: he was asleep, and it was eleven o'clock in the morning. The
excuse was, "To-day is a holiday; no lessons." A stout lad of eighteen
years of age, having over-eaten himself the previous night, is sleeping
until eleven o'clock; and a peasant of his own age, who had already that
morning done a quantity of work, was now lighting the tenth stove. "It
would be better, perhaps, if the peasant did not light the stove to warm
this stout, lazy fellow!" thought I; but I remembered at once that this
stove also warmed the room of our housekeeper, a woman of forty years of
age, who had been working the night before till three o'clock in the
morning to prepare everything for the supper which my son ate; and then
she put away the dishes, and, notwithstanding this, got up at seven. She
cannot heat the stove herself: she has no time for that. The peasant is
heating the stove for her, too. And under her name my lazy fellow was
being warmed.

True, the advantages are all interwoven; but without much consideration
the conscience of each will say, On whose side is the labour, and on
whose the idleness? But not only does conscience tell this, the
account-book also tells it: the more money one spends, the more people
work for us. The less one spends, the more one works one's self. "My
luxurious life gives means of living to others. Where should my old
footman go, if I were to discharge him?" "What! every one must do
everything for himself? Make his coat as well as hew his wood? And how
about division of labour? And industry and social undertakings?" And,
last of all, come the most horrible of words,--civilization, science,


Last March I was returning home late in the evening. On turning into a
bye-lane I perceived on the snow in a distant field some black shadows.
I should not have noticed this but for the policeman who stood at the
end of the lane and cried in the direction of the shadows, "Vasili, why
don't you come along?"

"She won't move," answered a voice; and thereupon the shadows came
towards the policeman. I stopped and asked him,--

"What is the matter?"

He said, "We have got some girls from Rzhanoff's house, and are taking
them to the police-station; and one of them lags behind, and won't come

A night-watchman in sheepskin coat appeared now driving on a girl who
slouched along while he prodded her from behind. I, the watchman and the
policeman, were wearing winter coats: she alone had none, having only
her gown on. In the dark I could distinguish only a brown dress and a
kerchief round her head and neck. She was short, like most starvelings,
and had a broad, clumsy figure.

"We aren't going to stay here all night for you, you hag! Get on, or
I'll give it you!" shouted the policeman. He was evidently fatigued and
tired of her. She walked some paces and stopped again.

The old watchman, a good-natured man (I knew him), pulled her by the
hand. "I'll wake you up! come along!" said he, pretending to be angry.
She staggered, and began to speak with a croaking hoarse voice, "Let me
be; don't you push. I'll get on myself."

"You'll be frozen to death," he returned.

"A girl like me won't be frozen: I've lots of hot blood."

She meant it as a joke, but her words sounded like a curse. By a lamp,
which stood not far from the gate of my house, she stopped again, leaned
back against the paling, and began to seek for something among her
petticoats with awkward, frozen hands. They again shouted to her; but
she only muttered and continued searching. She held in one hand a
crumpled cigarette and matches in the other. I remained behind her: I
was ashamed to pass by or to stay and look at her. But I made up my mind
and came up to her. She leaned with her shoulder against the paling and
vainly tried to light a match on it.

I looked narrowly at her face. She was indeed a starveling and appeared
to me to be a woman of about thirty. Her complexion was dirty; her eyes
small, dim, and bleared with drinking; she had a squat nose; her lips
were wry and slavering, with downcast angles; from under her kerchief
fell a tuft of dry hair. Her figure was long and flat; her arms and legs

I stopped in front of her. She looked at me and grinned as if she knew
all that I was thinking about. I felt that I ought to say something to
her. I wanted to show her that I pitied her.

"Have you parents?" I asked. She laughed hoarsely, then suddenly
stopped, and, lifting her brows, began to look at me steadfastly.

"Have you parents?" I repeated.

She smiled with a grimace which seemed to say, "What a question for him
to put!"

"I have a mother," she said at last; "but what's that to you?"

"And how old are you?"

"I am over fifteen," she said, at once answering a question she was
accustomed to hear.

"Come, come! go on; we shall all be frozen for you, the deuce take you!"
shouted the policeman; and she edged off from the paling and staggered
along the lane to the police-station: and I turned to the gate and
entered my house, and asked whether my daughters were at home. I was
told that they had been to an evening party, had enjoyed themselves
much, and now were asleep.

The next morning I was about to go to the police-station to enquire what
had become of this unhappy girl. I was ready to start early enough, when
one of those unfortunate men called, who from weakness have dropped out
of the gentlemanly line of life to which they have been accustomed, and
who rise and fall by turns. I had been acquainted with him three years.
During this time he had several times sold every thing he had,--even his
clothes; and, having just done so again, he passed his nights
temporarily in Rzhanoff's house, and his days at my lodgings. He met me
as I was going out, and, without listening to me, began at once to
relate what had happened at Rzhanoff's house the night before.

He began to relate it, yet had not got through one-half when, all of a
sudden, he, an old man, who had gone through much in his life, began to
sob, and, ceasing to speak, turned his face away from me. This was what
he related. I ascertained the truth of his story on the spot, where I
learned some new particulars, which I shall relate too.

A washerwoman thirty years of age, fair, quiet, good-looking, but
delicate, passed her nights in the same lodging-house, the ground-floor
of No. 32 where my friend slept among various shifting night-lodgers,
men and women, who for five kopeks slept with each other.

The landlady at this lodging was the mistress of a boatman. In summer
her lover kept a boat; and in winter they earned their living by letting
lodgings to night-lodgers at three kopeks without a pillow, and at five
kopeks with one.

The washerwoman had been living here some months, and was a quiet woman;
but lately they began to object to her because she coughed, and
prevented the other lodgers from sleeping. An old woman in particular,
eighty years old, half silly, and a permanent inmate of this lodging,
began to dislike the washerwoman and kept annoying her because she
disturbed her sleep; for all night she coughed like a sheep.

The washerwoman said nothing. She owed for rent, and felt herself
guilty, and was therefore compelled to endure. She began to work less
and less, for her strength failed her; and that was why she was unable
to pay her rent. She had not been to work at all the whole of the last
week; and she had been making the lives of all, and particularly of the
old woman, miserable by her cough.

Four days ago the landlady gave her notice to leave. She already owed
sixty kopeks, and could not pay them, and there was no hope of doing so;
and other lodgers complained of her cough.

When the landlady gave the washerwoman notice, and told her she must go
away if she did not pay the rent, the old woman was glad, and pushed her
out into the yard. The washerwoman went away, but came back again in an
hour, and the landlady had not the heart to send her away again....
During the second and the third day the landlady left her there. "Where
shall I go?" she kept saying. On the third day the landlady's lover, a
Moscow man, who knew all the rules and regulations, went for a
policeman. The policeman, with a sword and a pistol slung on a red cord,
came into the lodging and quietly and politely turned the washerwoman
out into the street.

It was a bright, sunny, but frosty day in March. The melting snow ran
down in streams, the house-porters were breaking the ice. The hackney
sledges bumped on the ice-glazed snow, and creaked over the stones. The
washerwoman went up the hill on the sunny side, got to the church, and
sat down in the sun at the church-porch. But when the sun began to go
down behind the houses and the pools of water began to be covered with a
thin sheet of ice, the washerwoman felt chilly and terrified. She got up
and slowly walked on.... Where? Home,--to the only house in which she
had been living lately.

While she was walking there, several times resting herself, it began to
get dark. She approached the gate, turned into it, her foot slipped, she
gave a shriek, and fell down.

One man passed by, then another. "She must be drunk," they thought.
Another man passed, and stumbled up against her, and said to the
house-porter, "Some tipsy woman is lying at the gate. I very nearly
broke my neck over her. Won't you take her away?"

The house-porter came. The washerwoman was dead. This was what my friend
related to me.

The reader will perhaps fancy I have picked out particular cases in the
prostitute of fifteen years of age and the story of this washerwoman;
but let him not think so: this really happened in one and the same
night. I do not exactly remember the date, only it was in March, 1884.

Having heard my friend's story I went to the police-station, intending
from there to go to Rzhanoff's house to learn all the particulars of the
washerwoman's story.

The weather was fine and sunny; and again under the ice of the previous
night, in the shade, you could see the water running; and in the sun, in
the square, everything was melting fast. The trees of the garden
appeared blue from over the river; the sparrows that were reddish in
winter, and unnoticed then, now attracted people's attention by their
merriness; men also tried to be merry, but they all had too many cares.
The bells of the churches sounded; and blending with them were heard
sounds of shooting from the barracks,--the hiss of the rifle balls, and
the crack when they struck the target.

I entered the police-station. There some armed men--policemen--led me to
their chief. He, also armed with a sword, sabre, and pistol, was busy
giving some orders about a ragged, trembling old man who was standing
before him, and from weakness could not clearly answer what was asked of
him. Having done with the old man, he turned to me. I inquired about the
prostitute of last night. He first listened to me attentively, then he
smiled, not only because I did not know why they were taken to the
police-station, but more particularly at my astonishment at her youth.
"Goodness! there are some of twelve, thirteen, and fourteen years of age
often," said he, in a lively tone.

To my question about the girl of yesterday, he told me that she had
probably been already sent to the committee (if I understood him right).
To my question where such women passed the night, he gave a vague
answer. The one about whom I spoke he did not remember. There were so
many of them every day.

At Rzhanoff's house, in No. 32, I already found the sacristan reading
prayers over the dead washerwoman. She had been brought in and laid on
her former pallet; and the lodgers, all starvelings themselves,
contributed money for the prayers, the coffin, and the shroud; the old
woman had dressed her, and laid her out. The clerk was reading something
in the dark; a woman in a cloak stood holding a wax taper; and with a
similar wax taper stood a man (a gentleman, it is fair to state), in a
nice great-coat, trimmed with an astrachan collar, in bright goloshes,
and with a starched shirt. That was her brother. He had been hunted up.

I passed by the dead woman to the landlady's room in order to ask her
all the particulars. She was afraid of my questions,--afraid probably of
being charged with something; but by and by she grew talkative and told
me all. On passing by again, I looked at the dead body. All the dead are
beautiful; but this one was particularly beautiful and touching in her
coffin, with her clear, pale face, with closed, prominent eyes, sunken
cheeks, and fair, soft hair over her high forehead; her face looked
weary, but kind, and not sad at all, but rather astonished. And indeed,
if the living do not see, the dead may well be astonished.

On the day I wrote this there was a great ball in Moscow. On the same
night I left home after eight o'clock. I live in a locality surrounded
by factories; and I left home after the factory whistle had sounded, and
when, after a week of incessant work, the people were freed for their
holiday. Factory-men passed by me, and I by them, all turning their
steps to the public-houses and inns. Many were already tipsy: many were
with women.

Every morning at five I hear each of the whistles, which means that the
labour of women, children, and old people has begun. At eight o'clock
another whistle,--this means half an hour's rest; at twelve the third
whistle,--this means an hour for dinner. At eight o'clock the fourth
whistle, indicating cessation from work. By a strange coincidence, all
the three factories in my neighbourhood produce only the articles
necessary for balls.

In one factory,--the one nearest to me,--they make nothing but
stockings; in the other opposite, silk stuffs; in the third, perfumes
and pomades.

One may, on hearing these whistles, attach to them no other meaning than
that of the indication of time. "There, the whistle has sounded: it is
time to go out for a walk."

But one may associate with them also the meaning they have in
reality,--that at the first whistle at five o'clock in the morning, men
and women, who have slept side by side in a damp cellar, get up in the
dark, and hurry away into the noisy building to take their part in a
work of which they see neither cessation nor utility for themselves, and
work often so in the heat, in suffocating exhalations, with very rare
intervals of rest, for one, two, or three, or even twelve or more hours.
They fall asleep, and get up again, and again do this work, meaningless
for themselves, to which they are goaded only by want. So it goes on
from one week to another, interrupted only by holidays.

And now I see these working-people freed for one of these holidays. They
go out into the street: everywhere there are inns, public-houses, and
gay women. And they, in a drunken state, pull each other by the arms,
and carry along with them girls like the one whom I saw conducted to the
police-station: they hire hackney-coaches, and ride and walk from one
inn to another, and abuse each other, and totter about, and say they
know not what.

Formerly when I saw the factory people knocking about in this way I used
to turn aside with disgust, and almost reproached them; but since I hear
these daily whistles, and know what they mean, I am only astonished that
all these men do not come into the condition of the utter beggars with
whom Moscow is filled, and the women into the position of the girl whom
I had met near my house.

Thus I walked on, looking at these men, observing how they went about
the streets, till eleven o'clock. Then their movements became quieter:
there remained here and there a few tipsy people, and I met some men and
women who were being conducted to the police-station. And now, from
every side, carriages appeared, all going in one direction. On the
coach-box sat a coachman, sometimes in a sheepskin coat, and a
footman,--a dandy with a cockade. Well-fed horses, covered with cloth,
trotted at the rate of fifteen miles an hour. In the carriages sat
ladies wrapped in shawls, taking great care not to spoil their flowers
and their toilets. All, beginning with the harness on the horses, the
carriages, indiarubber wheels, the cloth of the coachman's coat, down to
the stockings, shoes, flowers, velvet, gloves, scents,--all these
articles have been made by those men, some of whom fell asleep on their
own pallets in their mean rooms, some in night-houses with prostitutes,
and others in the police-station.

The ball-goers drive past these men, in and with things made by them;
and it does not even enter into their minds that there could possibly be
any connection between the ball they are going to, and these tipsy
people to whom their coachmen shout out so angrily. With easy minds and
assurance that they are doing nothing wrong, but something very good,
they enjoy themselves at the ball.

Enjoy themselves!

From eleven o'clock in the evening till six in the morning, in the very
depth of the night; while with empty stomachs men are lying in
night-lodgings, or dying as the washer-woman had done!

The enjoyment of the ball consists in women and girls uncovering their
bosoms, putting on artificial protuberances at the back, and altogether
getting themselves up as no girl and no woman who is not yet depraved
would, on any account, appear before men; and in this half-naked
condition, with uncovered bosoms, and arms bare up to the shoulders,
with dresses puffed behind and tight round the hips, in the brightest
light, women and girls, whose first virtue has always been modesty,
appear among strange men, who are also dressed in indecently
tight-fitting clothes, embrace each other, and pivot round and round to
the sound of exciting music. Old women, often also half naked like the
younger ones, are sitting looking on, and eating and drinking: the old
men do the same. No wonder it is done at night when everyone else is
sleeping, so that no one may see it!

But it is not done at night in order to hide it; there is nothing indeed
to hide; all is very nice and good; and by this enjoyment, in which is
swallowed up the painful labour of thousands, not only is nobody harmed,
but by this very thing poor people are fed!

The ball goes on very merrily, may be, but how did it come to do so?
When we see in society or among ourselves one who has not eaten, or is
cold, we are ashamed to enjoy ourselves, and cannot begin to be merry
until he is fed, to say nothing of the fact that we cannot even imagine
that there are people who can enjoy themselves by means of anything
which produces the sufferings of others.

We are disgusted with and do not understand the enjoyment of brutal boys
who have squeezed a dog's tail into a piece of split wood. How is it,
then, that in our enjoyment we become blind, and do not see the cleft in
which we have pinched those men who suffer for our enjoyment.

We know that each woman at this ball whose dress costs a hundred and
fifty rubles was not born at the ball, but has lived in the country, has
seen peasants, is acquainted with a nurse and maid whose fathers and
brothers are poor, for whom the earning of a hundred and fifty rubles to
build a cottage with is the end and aim of a long, laborious life. She
knows all this; how can she, then, enjoy herself, knowing that on her
half-naked body she is wearing the cottage which is the dream of her
housemaid's brother?

But let us suppose she has not thought about this: still she cannot help
knowing that velvet and silk, sweetmeats and flowers, and laces and
dresses, do not grow of themselves, but are made by men. One would think
she could not help knowing that men make all these things, and under
what circumstances, and why. She cannot help knowing that her
dressmaker, whom she scolded to-day, made this dress not at all out of
love to her, therefore she cannot help knowing that all these
things--her laces, flowers, and velvet--were made from sheer want.

But perhaps she is so blinded that she does not think of this. Well,
but, at all events, she could not help knowing that five people, old,
respectable, often delicate men and women, have not slept all night, and
have been busy on her account. She saw their tired, gloomy faces. This,
also, she could not help knowing,--that on this night there were
twenty-eight degrees of frost, and that her coachman--an old man--was
sitting in this frost all night on his coach-box.

But I know that they do not really see this. If from the hypnotic
influence of the ball these young women and girls fail to see all this,
we cannot judge them. Poor things! They consider all to be good which is
pronounced so by their elders. How do these elders explain their
cruelty? They, indeed, always answer in the same way: "I compel no one;
what I have, I have bought; footmen, chambermaids, coachman, I hire.
There is no harm in engaging and in buying. I compel none; I hire; what
wrong is there in that?"

Some days ago I called on a friend. Passing through the first room I
wondered at seeing two women at a table, for I knew my acquaintance was
a bachelor. A skinny yellow, old-looking woman, about thirty, with a
kerchief thrown over her shoulders, was briskly doing something over the
table with her hands, jerking nervously, as if in a fit. Opposite to her
sat a young girl, who was also doing something and jerking in the same
way. They both seemed to be suffering from St. Vitus's dance. I came
nearer and looked closer to see what they were about.

They glanced up at me and then continued their work as attentively as

Before them were spread tobacco and cigarettes. They were making
cigarettes. The woman rubbed the tobacco fine between the palms of her
hands, caught it up by a machine, put on the tubes, and threw them to
the girl. The girl folded the papers, put them over the cigarette, threw
it aside, and took up another.

All this was performed with such speed, with such dexterity, that it was
impossible to describe it. I expressed my wonder at their quickness. "I
have been at this business fourteen years," said the woman.

"Is it hard work?"

"Yes: my chest aches, and the air is choky with tobacco."

But it was not necessary for her to have said so: you need only have
looked at her or at the girl. The latter had been at this business three
years; but anyone not seeing her at this work would have said that she
had a strong constitution which was already beginning to be broken.

My acquaintance, a kind-hearted man of liberal views, hired these women
to make him cigarettes at two rubles and a half (5s.) a thousand. He has
money, and he pays it away for this work: what harm is there in it?

My acquaintance gets up at twelve. His evenings, from six to two, he
spends at cards or at the piano; he eats and drinks well; other people
do all the work for him. He has devised for himself a new
pleasure,--smoking. I can remember when he began to smoke. Here are a
woman and a girl who can scarcely earn their living by transforming
themselves into machines, and who pass all their lives in breathing
tobacco, thus ruining their lives. He has money which he has not earned,
and he prefers playing at cards to making cigarettes for himself. He
gives these women money only on condition that they continue to live as
miserably as they lived before in making cigarettes for him.

I am fond of cleanliness; and I give money on condition that the
washerwoman washes my shirts, which I change twice a day; and the
washing of these shirts having taxed the utmost strength of the
washerwoman, she has died.

What is wrong in this?

Men who buy and hire will continue doing so whether I do or do not; they
will force other people to make velvets and dainties, and will buy them
whether I do or do not; so also they will hire people to make cigarettes
and to wash shirts. Why should I, then, deprive myself of velvets,
sweetmeats, cigarettes, and clean shirts, when their production is
already set in going. Often,--almost constantly I hear this reasoning.

This is the very reasoning which a crowd, maddened with the passion of
destruction, will employ. It is the same reasoning which leads a pack of
dogs, when one of their number runs against another and knocks it down,
the rest attack it and tear it to pieces. Others have already begun,
have done a little mischief; why shouldn't I, too, do the same? What can
it possibly signify if I wear a dirty shirt and make my cigarettes
myself? could that help any one? men ask who desire to justify

Had we not wandered so far from truth one would be ashamed to answer
this question; but we are so entangled that such a question seems
natural to us, and, therefore, though I feel ashamed, I must answer it.

What difference would it be if I should wear my shirt a week instead of
a day, and make my cigarettes myself, or leave off smoking altogether?

The difference would be this,--that a certain washerwoman, and a certain
cigarette-maker, would exert themselves less, and what I gave formerly
for the washing of my shirt, and for the making of my cigarettes, I may
give now to that or to another woman; and working-people who are tired
by their work, instead of overworking themselves, will be able to rest
and to have tea. But I have heard objections to this, so ashamed are the
rich and luxurious to understand their position.

They reply, "If I should wear dirty linen, leave off smoking, and give
this money away to the poor, then this money would be all the same taken
away from them, and my drop will not help to swell the sea."

I am still more ashamed to answer such a reply, but at the same time I
must do so. If I came among savages who gave me chops which I thought
delicious, but the next day I learned (perhaps saw myself) that these
delicious chops were made of a human prisoner who had been slain in
order to make them; and if I think it bad to eat men, however delicious
the cutlets may be, and however general the custom to eat men among the
persons with whom I live, and however small the utility of my refusal to
eat them may be,--to the prisoners who have been prepared for food,--I
shall not and cannot eat them.

It may be that I shall eat human flesh when urged by hunger; but I shall
not make a feast of it, and shall not take part in feasts with human
flesh, and shall not seek such feasts, nor be proud of my partaking of


But what is to be done, then? We did not do it, did we? And if not we,
who did?

We say, "It is not we who have done all this; it has been done of
itself"; as children say when they break anything, that "it broke
itself." We say that, as towns are already in existence, we, who are
living there, must feed men by buying their labour. But that is not
true. It need only be observed how we live in the country, and how we
feed people there.

Winter is over: Easter is coming. In the town the same orgies of the
rich go on,--on the boulevards, in gardens, in the parks, on the river;
music, theatres, riding, illuminations, fire-works. But in the country
it is still better,--the air is purer; the trees, the meadows, the
flowers, are fresher. We must go where all is budding and blooming. And
now we, the majority of rich people, who live by other men's labour, go
into the country to breathe the purer air, to look at the meadows and
woods. Here in the country among humble villagers who feed on bread and
onions, work eighteen hours every day, and have neither sufficient sleep
nor clothes, rich people take up their abode. No one tempts these
people: here are no factories, and no idle hands, of which there are so
many in town, whom we may imagine we feed by giving them work to do.
Here people never can do their own work in time during the summer; and
not only are there no idle hands, but much property is lost for want of
hands; and an immense number of men, children, and old people, and women
with child, overwork themselves.

How, then, do rich people order their lives here in the country? Thus:
if there happens to be an old mansion, built in the time of the serfs,
then this house is renovated and re-decorated: if there is not, one is
built of two or three stories. The rooms, which are from twelve to
twenty and more in number, are all about sixteen feet high. The floors
are inlaid; in the windows are put whole panes of glass, costly carpets
on the floors; expensive furniture is procured,--a sideboard, for
instance, costing from twenty to sixty pounds. Near the mansion, roads
are made; flower-beds are laid out; there are croquet-lawns,
giant-strides, reflecting globes, conservatories, and hot-houses, and
always luxurious stables. All is painted in colours, prepared with the
very oil which the old people and children lack for their porridge. If a
rich man can afford it he buys such a house for himself; if he cannot he
hires one: but however poor and however liberal a man of our circle may
be, he always takes up his abode in the country in such a house, for
building and keeping which it is necessary to take away dozens of
working-people who have not enough time to do their own business in the
field to earn their living.

Here we cannot say that factories are already in existence and will
continue so whether we make use of their work or no; we cannot say that
we are feeding idle hands; here we plainly establish the factories for
making things necessary for us, and simply make use of the surrounding
people; we divert the people from work necessary for them, as for us and
for all, and by such system deprave some, and ruin the lives and the
health of others.

There lives, let us say, in a village, an educated and respectable
family of the upper class, or that of a government officer. All its
members and the visitors assemble towards the middle of June, because up
to June they had been studying and passing their examinations: they
assemble when mowing begins, and they stay until September, until the
harvest and sowing time. The members of the family (as almost all men of
this class) remain in the country from the beginning of the urgent
work,--hay-making,--not to the end of it, indeed, because in September
the sowing goes on, and the digging up of potatoes, but till labour
begins to slacken. During the whole time of the stay, around them and
close by the peasants' summer work has been proceeding, the strain of
which, however much we may have heard or read of it, however much we may
have looked at it, we can form no adequate idea without having
experienced it ourselves.

The members of the family, about ten persons have been living as they
did in town, if possible still worse than in town, because here in the
village they are supposed to be resting (after doing nothing), and offer
no pretence in the way of work, and no excuse for their idleness.

In the midsummer-lent, when people are forced from want to feed on
kvas[5] and bread and onions, begins the mowing time. Gentlefolk who
live in the country see this labour, partly order it, partly admire it;
enjoy the smell of the drying hay, the sound of women's songs, the noise
of the scythes, and the sight of the rows of mowers, and of the women
raking. They see this near their house as well as when they, with young
people and children who do nothing all the day long, drive well-fed
horses a distance of a few hundred yards to the bathing-place.

  [5] A home-made cheap fermented drink.--Ed.

The work of mowing is one of the most important in the world. Nearly
every year, from want of hands and of time, the meadows remain half
uncut and may remain so till the rains begin; so that the degree of
intensity of the labour decides the question whether twenty or more per
cent will be added to the stores of the world, or whether this hay will
be left to rot or spoil while yet uncut.

And if there is more hay, there will be also more meat for old people
and milk for children; thus matters stand in general; but in particular
for each mower here is decided the question of bread and milk for
himself, and for his children during the winter.

Each of the working-people, male and female, knows this: even the
children know that this is an important business and that one ought to
work with all one's strength, carry a jug with kvas for the father to
the mowing-place, and, shifting it from one hand to another, run
barefoot as quickly as possible, a distance of perhaps a mile and a half
from the village, in order to be in time for dinner, that father may not
grumble. Every one knows, that, from the mowing to the harvest, there
will be no cessation of labour, and no time for rest. And besides
mowing, each has some other business to do,--to plough up new land and
harrow it; the women have the linen to make, bread to bake, and the
washing to do; and the peasants must drive to the mill and to market;
they have the official affairs of their community to attend to; they
have also to provide the local government officials with means of
locomotion, and to pass the night in the fields with the pastured

All, old and young and sick, work with all their strength.

The peasants work in such a way, that, when cutting the last rows, the
mowers, some of them weak people, growing youths, and old men, are so
tired, that, having rested a little, it is with great pain they begin
anew; the women, often with child, work hard too.

It is a strained, incessant labour. All work to the utmost of their
strength, and use not only all their provisions but what they have in
store. During harvest-time all the peasants grow thinner although they
never were very stout.

There is a small company labouring in the hayfield; three peasants--one
an old man, another his married nephew, and the third the village
cobbler, a thin, wiry man. Their mowing this morning decides their fate
for the coming winter, whether they will be able to keep a cow and pay
their taxes. This is their second weeks' work. The rain hindered them
for a while. After the rain had left off and the water had dried up they
decided to make hayricks; and in order to do it quicker they decided
that two women must rake to each scythe. With the old man came out his
wife, fifty years of age, worn out with labour and the bearing of eleven
children; deaf, but still strong enough for work; and his daughter,
thirteen years of age, a short but brisk and strong little girl.

With the nephew came his wife,--a tall woman, as strong as a peasant,
and his sister in law,--a soldier's wife, who was with child. With the
cobbler came his wife,--a strong working-woman, and her mother,--an old
woman about eighty, who for the rest of the year used to beg.

They all draw up in a line, and work from morning to evening in the
burning sun of June. It is steaming hot and a thunder-shower is
threatening. Every moment of work is precious. They have not wished to
leave off working even to fetch water or kvas. A small boy, the grandson
of the old woman, brings them water. The old woman is evidently anxious
only on one point,--not to be sent away from work. She does not let the
rake out of her hands, and moves about with great difficulty. The little
boy, quite bent under the jug with water, heavier than himself, walks
with short steps on his bare feet, and carries the jug with many shifts.
The little girl takes on her shoulders a load of hay which is also
heavier than herself; walks a few paces, and stops, then throws it down,
having no strength to carry it farther. The old man's wife rakes
together unceasingly, her kerchief loosened from her disordered hair;
she carries the hay, breathing heavily and staggering under the burden:
the cobbler's mother is only raking, but this is also beyond her
strength; she slowly drags her feet, in baste shoes, and looks gloomily
before her, like one very ill, or at the point of death. The old man
purposely sends her far away from the others, to rake about the ricks,
in order that she may not attempt to compete with them; but she does not
leave off working, but continues with the same dead gloomy face as long
as the others.

The sun is already setting behind the wood and the ricks are not yet in
order: there is much still to be done.

All feel that it is time to leave off working but no one says so; each
waiting for the other to suggest it. At last, the cobbler, realizing
that he has no more strength left, proposes to the old man to leave the
ricks till to-morrow, and the old man agrees to it; and at once the
women go to fetch their clothes, their jugs, their pitchforks; and the
old woman sits down where she was standing, and then lays herself down
with the same fixed stare on her face. But as the women go away she gets
up groaning, and, crawling along, follows them.

Let us turn to the country-house. The same evening, when from the side
of the village were heard the rattle of the scythes of the toil-worn
mowers who were returning from work, the sounds of the hammer against
the anvil, the cries of women and girls who had just had time to put
away their rakes, and were already running to drive the cattle in,--with
those blend other sounds from the country-house. Rattle, rattle, goes
the piano; a Hungarian song is heard through the noise of the
croquet-balls; before the stable an open carriage is standing harnessed
with four fat horses, which has been hired for twenty shillings to bring
some guests a distance of ten miles.

Horses standing by the carriage rattle their little bells. Before them
hay has been thrown, which they are scattering with their hoofs, the
same hay which the peasants have been gathering with such hard labour.
In the yard of this mansion there is movement; a healthy, well-fed
fellow in a pink shirt, presented to him for his service as a
house-porter, is calling the coachmen and telling them to harness and
saddle some horses. Two peasants who live here as coachmen come out of
their room, and go in an easy manner, swinging their arms, to saddle
horses for the ladies and gentlemen. Still nearer to the house the
sounds of another piano are heard. It is the music-mistress,--who lives
in the family to teach the children,--practising her Schumann. The
sounds of one piano jangle with those of another. Quite near the house
walk two nurses; one is young, another old; they lead and carry children
to bed; these children are of the same age as those who ran from the
village with jugs. One nurse is English: she cannot speak Russian. She
was engaged to come from England, not from being distinguished by some
peculiar qualities but simply because she does not speak Russian.
Farther on is another person, a French woman, who is also engaged
because she does not know Russian. Farther on a peasant, with two women,
is watering flowers near the house: another is cleaning a gun for one of
the young gentlemen. Here two women are carrying a basket with clean
linen,--they have been washing for all these gentlefolks. In the house
two women have scarcely time to wash the plates and dishes after the
company, who have just done eating; and two peasants in evening clothes
are running up and down the stairs, serving coffee, tea, wine,
seltzer-water, etc. Up-stairs a table is spread. One meal has just
ended, and another will soon begin, to continue till cock-crow and often
till morning dawns. Some are sitting smoking, playing cards; others are
sitting and smoking, engaged in discussing liberal ideas of reform; and
others, again, walk to and fro, eat, smoke, and, not knowing what to do,
have made up their mind to take a drive.

The household consists of fifteen persons, healthy men and women; and
thirty persons, healthy working-people, male and female, labour for
them. And this takes place there, where every hour, and each little boy,
are precious.

This will be so, also, in July, when the peasants, not having had their
sleep out, will mow the oats at night in order that it may not be lost,
and the women will get up before dawn in order to finish their threshing
in time; when this old woman, who had been exhausted during the harvest,
and the women with child, and the little children will again all
overwork themselves, and when there is a great want of hands, horses,
carts, in order to house this corn upon which all men feed, of which
millions of bushels are necessary in Russia in order that men should not
die: during even such a time, the idle lives of ladies and gentlemen
will go on. There will be private theatricals, picnics, hunting,
drinking, eating, piano-playing, singing, dancing,--in fact, incessant

Here, at least, it is impossible to find any excuse from the fact that
all this had been going on before: nothing of the kind had been in
existence. We ourselves carefully create such a life, taking bread and
labour away from the work-worn people. We live sumptuously, as if there
were no connection whatever between the dying washerwoman,
child-prostitute, women worn out by making cigarettes and all the
intense labour around us to which their unnourished strength is
inadequate. We do not want to see the fact that if there were not our
idle, luxurious, depraved lives, there would not be this labour,
disproportioned to the strength of people, and that if there were not
this labour we could not go on living in the same way.

It appears to us that their sufferings are one thing and our lives
another, and that we, living as we do, are innocent and pure as doves.
We read the description of the lives of the Romans, and wonder at the
inhumanity of a heartless Lucullus, who gorged himself with fine dishes
and delicious wines while people were starving: we shake our heads and
wonder at the barbarism of our grandfathers,--the serf-owners,--who
provided themselves with orchestras and theatres, and employed whole
villages to keep up their gardens. From the height of our greatness we
wonder at their inhumanity. We read the words of Isaiah v., 8:

    "Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field,
    till there be no room, and ye be made to dwell alone in the midst of
    the land.

    Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may
    follow strong drink; that tarry late into the night, till wine
    inflame them!

    The harp, and the lute, the tabret, the pipe, and wine are in their
    feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither have they
    considered the operation of his hands.

    Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it
    were with a cart rope.

    Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness
    for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and
    sweet for bitter!

    Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their
    own sight!

    Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to
    mingle strong drink:

    Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness
    of the righteous from him."

We read these words, and it seems to us that they have nothing to do
with us.

We read in the Gospel, Matthew iii., 10: "And even now is the axe laid
unto the root of the tree: every tree therefore that bringeth not forth
good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire," and we are quite sure
that the good tree bearing good fruit is we ourselves, and that those
words are said, not to us, but to some other bad men.

We read the words of Isaiah vi., 10:

    "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and
    shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their
    ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be
    healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities
    be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land
    become utterly waste."

We read, and are quite assured that this wonderful thing has not
happened to us, but to some other people. For this very reason we do not
see that this has happened to us, and is taking place with us. We do not
hear, we do not see, and do not understand with our heart.

But why has it so happened?


How can a man who considers himself to be,--we will not say a Christian
or an educated and humane man,--but simply a man not entirely devoid of
reason and of conscience,--how can he, I say, live in such a way, taking
no part in the struggle of all mankind for life, only swallowing up the
labour of others struggling for existence, and by his own claims
increasing the labour of those who struggle and the number of those who
perish in the struggle?

Such men abound in our so-called Christian and cultured world; and not
only do they abound in our world but the very ideal of the men of our
Christian, cultured world, is to get the largest amount of
property,--that is, wealth,--which secures all comforts and idleness of
life by freeing its possessors from the struggle for existence, and
enabling them, as much as possible, to profit by the labour of those
brothers of theirs who perish in that struggle.

How could men have fallen into such astounding error?

How could they have come to such a state that they can neither see nor
hear nor understand with their heart what is so clear, obvious, and

One need only think for a moment in order to be terrified at the way our
lives contradict what we profess to believe, whether we be Christian or
only humane educated people. Whether it be God or a law of nature that
governs the world and men, good or bad, the position of men in this
world, so long as we know it has always been such that naked
men,--without wool on their bodies, without holes in which to take
refuge, without food which they might find in the field like Robinson
Crusoe on his island,--are put into a position of continual and
incessant struggle with nature in order to cover their bodies by making
clothes for themselves, to protect themselves by a roof over their
heads, and to earn food in order twice or thrice a day to satisfy their
hunger and that of their children and their parents.

Wherever and whenever and to whatever extent we observe the lives of
men, whether in Europe, America, China, or Russia; whether we take into
consideration all mankind or a small portion, whether in olden times in
a nomad state, or in modern times with steam-engines, steam-ploughs,
sewing-machines, and electric light,--we shall see one and the same
thing going on,--that men, working constantly and incessantly, are not
able to get clothes, shelter, and food for themselves, their little
ones, and the old, and that the greatest number of men in olden times as
well as now, perish slowly from want of the necessaries of life and from

Wherever we may live, if we draw a circle around us of a hundred
thousand, or a thousand or ten, or even one mile's circumference, and
look at the lives of those men who are inside our circle, we shall find
half-starved children, old people male and female, pregnant women, sick
and weak persons, working beyond their strength, who have neither food
nor rest enough to support them, and who, for this reason, die before
their time: we shall see others full-grown who are even being killed by
dangerous and hurtful tasks.

Since the world has existed we find that with great efforts, sufferings,
and privations men have been struggling for their common wants, and have
not been able to overcome the difficulty.

Besides, we also know that every one of us, wherever and however he may
live, _nolens volens_, is every day, and every hour of the day,
absorbing for himself a part of the labour performed by mankind.

Wherever and however a man lives, the roof over his head did not grow of
itself; the firewood in his stove did not get there of itself; the water
did not come of itself either; and the baked bread does not fall down
from the sky; his dinner, his clothes, and the covering for his feet,
all this has been made for him, not only by men of past generations,
long dead, but it is being done for him now by those men of whom
hundreds and thousands are fainting away and dying in vain efforts to
get for themselves and for their children sufficient shelter, food, and
clothes,--means to save themselves and their children from suffering and
a premature death.

All men are struggling with want. They are struggling so intensely that
around them always their brethren, fathers, mothers, children, are
perishing. Men in this world are like those on a dismantled or
water-logged ship with a short allowance of food; all are put by God, or
by nature, in such a position that they must husband their food and
unceasingly war with want.

Each interruption in this work of every one of us, each absorption of
the labour of others which is useless for the common welfare, is
ruinous, alike for us and them.

How is it that the majority of educated people, without labouring, are
quietly absorbing the labours of others which are necessary for their
own lives, and are considering such an existence quite natural and

If we are to free ourselves from the labour proper and natural to all
and lay it on others, and yet not at the same time consider ourselves
traitors and thieves, we can do so only by two suppositions,--first,
that we (the men who take no part in common labour) are different beings
from working-men and have a peculiar destiny to fulfil in society (like
drone-bees, or queen-bees, which have a different function from the
working-bees); or secondly, that the business which we (the men freed
from the struggle for existence) are doing for other men is so useful
for all that it undoubtedly compensates for that harm which we do to
others in overburdening them.

In olden times men who lived by the labour of others asserted, first,
that they belonged to a different race; and secondly, that they had from
God a peculiar mission,--caring for the welfare of others; in other
words, to govern and teach them: and therefore, they assured others, and
partly believed themselves, that the business they did was more useful
and more important for the people than those labours by which they
profit. This justification was sufficient so long as the direct
interference of God in human affairs, and the inequality of human races,
was not doubted.

But with Christianity and that consciousness of the equality and unity
of all men which proceeds from it, this justification could no longer be
expressed in its previous form.

It was no longer possible to assert that men are born of different kind
and quality and have a different destiny; and the old justification,
though still held by some, has been little by little destroyed and has
now almost entirely disappeared.

But though the justification disappeared, the fact itself,--of the
freeing of some men from labour, and the appropriation by them of other
men's labour, remained the same for those who had the power to enforce
it. For this existing fact new excuses have constantly been invented, in
order that without asserting the difference of human beings, men might
be able with apparent justice to free themselves from personal labour.

A great many justifications have been invented. However strange it may
seem, the main object of all that has been called science, and the
ruling tendency of science, has been to seek out such excuses.

This has been the object of the theological sciences and of the science
of law: this was the object of so-called philosophy, and this became
lately the object of modern rationalistic science, however strange it
appears to us, the contemporaries, who use this justification.

All the theological subtleties which aimed at proving that a certain
church is the only true successor of Christ, and that, therefore, she
alone has full and uncontrolled power over the souls and bodies of men,
had in view this very object.

All the legal sciences,--those of state law, penal law, civil law, and
international law,--have this sole aim.

The majority of philosophical theories, especially that of Hegel, which
reigned over the minds of men for such a long time, and maintained the
assertion that everything which exists is reasonable, and that the state
is a necessary form of the development of human personality, had only
this one object in view.

Comte's positive philosophy and its outcome, the doctrine that mankind
is an organism; Darwin's doctrine of the struggle for existence,
directing life and its conclusion, the theory of the diversity of human
races, the anthropology now so popular, biology, and sociology,--all
have the same aim. These sciences have become favourites, because they
all serve for the justification of the existing fact of some men being
able to free themselves from the human duty of labour, and to consume
other men's labour.

All these theories, as is always the case, are worked out in the
mysterious sanctums of augurs, and in vague, unintelligible expressions
are spread abroad among the masses and adopted by them.

As in olden times the subtleties of theology, which justified violence
in church and state, were the special property of priests; and among the
masses of the people, the conclusions, taken by faith, and ready made
for them, were circulated, that the power of kings, clergy and nobility
was sacred: so afterwards, the philosophical and legal subtleties of
so-called science became the property of the priests of science; and
through the masses only the ready-made conclusion, accepted by
faith,--that social order (the organization of society) must be such as
it is, and cannot be otherwise,--was diffused.

So it is now. It is only in the sanctuaries of the modern sages that the
laws of life and the development of organisms are analyzed. Whereas in
the crowd, the ready-made conclusion, accepted on trust,--that division
of labour is a law confirmed by science, and therefore it must be that
some starve and toil and others eternally feast, and that this very ruin
of some and feasting of others is the undoubted law of man's life, to
which we must submit,--is circulated.

The current justification of their idleness by all so-called educated
people, with their various activities, from the railway proprietor down
to the author or artist, is this: We men who have freed ourselves from
the common human duty of taking part in the struggle for existence, are
furthering progress, and so we are of great use to all human society, of
such use that we counterbalance all the harm we do the people by
consuming their labour.

This reasoning seems to the men of our day to be not at all like the
reasoning by which the former non-workers justified themselves; just as
the reasoning of the Roman emperors and citizens, that but for them the
civilized world would go to ruin, seemed to them to be of quite another
order from that of the Egyptians and Persians; and so also an exactly
similar kind of reasoning seemed in turn to the knights and clergy of
the Middle Ages totally different from that of the Romans.

But it only _seems_. One need only reflect on the justification of our
time in order to ascertain that there is nothing new in it. It is only a
little differently dressed up, but it is the same because it is based on
the same principle. Every justification of one man's consumption of the
labour of others, while producing none himself, as with Pharaoh and his
soothsayers, the emperors of Rome and those of the Middle Ages and their
citizens, knights, priests, and clergy, always consists in these two
assertions: First, we take the labour of the masses because we are
different from others, people called by God to govern them and to teach
them divine truths: Secondly, those who compose the masses cannot be
judges of the measure of labour which we take from them for the good we
do for them, because, as it has been said by the Pharisees, "This
multitude which knoweth not the law are accursed" (John vii. 49).

The people do not understand what is for their good, and therefore they
cannot be judges of the benefits done to them. The justification of our
time, notwithstanding all apparent originality, consists in facts of the
same fundamental assertions: First, we are a different people,--we are
an educated people,--we further progress and civilization, and by this
fact we procure for the masses a great advantage. Secondly, the
uneducated crowd does not understand the advantages we procure for them,
and therefore cannot be judges of them.

The fundamental assertions are the same. We free ourselves from labour,
appropriate the labour of others, and by this increase the burden of our
fellows; and then assert that in compensation for this we bring them a
great advantage, of which they, owing to ignorance, cannot be judges.

Is it not, then, the same thing? The only difference lies in this: that
formerly the claims on other men's labour were made by citizens, Roman
priests, knights, and nobility, and now these claims are put forward by
a caste who term themselves educated.

The lie is the same, because the men who justify themselves are in the
same false position. The lie consists in the fact, that, before
beginning to reason about the advantages conferred on the workers by
people who have freed themselves from labour,--certain men, Pharaohs,
priests, or we ourselves, educated people, assume this position first,
and only afterwards manufacture a justification for it.

The very position universally serves as a basis for the justification.
The difference of our justification from the ancient ones consists
merely in the fact that it is more false and less well grounded. The old
emperors and popes, if they themselves, and the people, believed in
their divine calling, could easily explain why they were to control the
labour of others: they asserted that they were appointed by God himself
for this very thing, and from God they had a commandment to teach the
people divine truths revealed to them, and to govern them.

But modern, educated men, who do not labour with their hands, and who
acknowledge the equality of all men, cannot explain why they and their
children (for education is only by money; that is, by power) should be
those lucky persons called to an easy, idle life, out of those millions
who by hundreds and thousands are perishing to make it possible for them
to be educated. Their only justification consists in this, that, just as
they are, instead of doing harm to the workers by freeing themselves
from labour, and by swallowing up labour, they bring to the people some
advantages, unintelligible to them, which compensate for all the evil
they perpetrate.


The theory by which men who have freed themselves from personal labour
justify themselves, is, in its simplest and most exact form, this: "We
men, having freed ourselves from work, and having by violence
appropriated the labour of others, we find ourselves better able to
benefit them." In other words, certain men, for doing the people a
palpable and comprehensible harm,--utilizing their labour by violence,
and thereby increasing the difficulty of their struggles with
nature,--do to them an impalpable and incomprehensible good. This is a
very strange proposition; but the men, both of former as well of modern
times, who have lived on the labour of workmen, believe it, and calm
their conscience by it.

Let us see in what way it is justified, in different classes of men who
have freed themselves from labour in our own days.

"I serve men by my activity in church or state,--as king, minister,
archbishop; I serve men by my trading or by industry; I serve men by my
activity in the departments of science or art. By our activities we are
all as necessary to the people as they are to us."

So say various men of to-day who have freed themselves from labour.

Let us consider _seriatim_ the principles upon which they base the
usefulness of their activity.

There are only two indications of the usefulness of any activity of one
man for another: (1) an exterior indication,--the acknowledgement of the
utility of the activity by those to whom it is applied; and (2) an
interior indication,--the desire to be of use to others lying at the
root of the activity of the one who is trying to be of use.

Statesmen (I include the Church dignitaries appointed by the government
in the category of statesmen) are, it is said, of use to those whom they
govern. The emperor, the king, the president of a republic, the prime
minister, the minister of justice, the minister of war, the minister of
public instruction, the bishop, and all under them who serve the state,
all live free from the struggle of mankind for existence, having laid
all the burden of this struggle on someone else, on the ground that
their non-activity compensates for this.

Let us apply the first indication to those for whose welfare the
activity of statesmen is bestowed. Do they, I ask, recognize the
usefulness of this activity?

Yes, it is recognized. Most men consider statesmanship necessary to
them. The majority recognize the usefulness of this activity in
principle; but in all its manifestations known to us, in all
_particular_ cases known to us, the usefulness of each of the
institutions and of each of the manifestations of this activity is not
only denied by those for whose advantage it is performed, but they
assert that it is even pernicious and hurtful. There is no state
function or social activity which is not considered by many men to be
hurtful: there is no institution which is not considered
pernicious,--courts of justice, banks, local self-government, police,
clergy. Every state activity, from the minister down to the policeman,
from the bishop to the sexton, is considered by some men to be useful
and by others to be pernicious. And this is the case not only in Russia
but throughout the world; in France as well as in America.

The activity of the republican party is considered pernicious by the
radical party, and _vice versa_: the activity of the radical party, if
the power is in their hands, is considered bad by the republican and
other parties. But not only is it a fact that the activity of statesmen
is never considered by all men to be useful, this activity has, besides,
this peculiarity, that it must always be carried out by violence, and
that, to attain its end, murders, executions, prisons, taxes raised by
force, and so on, became necessary.

It appears therefore that besides the fact that the usefulness of state
activity is not recognized by all men, and is always denied by one
portion of men, this usefulness has the peculiarity of vindicating
itself always by violence.

Therefore the usefulness of state activity cannot be confirmed by the
first indication,--i.e., the fact that it is recognized by those men for
whom it is said to be performed.

Let us apply the second test. Let us ask statesmen themselves, from the
Tsar down to the policeman, from the president to the secretary, from
the patriarch to the sexton, begging for a sincere answer, whether, in
occupying their respective positions they have in view the good which
they wish to do for men or something else. In their desire to fill the
situation of a Tsar, a president, a minister, a police-sergeant, a
sexton, a teacher, are they moved by the desire of being useful to men
or for their own personal advantage? And the answer of sincere men would
be that their chief motive is their own personal advantage.

So it appears that one class of men, who live by the labour of some
others who are perishing by these labours, compensate for this
indubitable evil by an activity which is always considered by a great
many men to be not only useless, but pernicious; which cannot be
accepted voluntarily, but to which men must always be compelled, and the
aim of which is not the benefit of others but the personal advantage of
the men who perform it.

What is it, then, that confirms the theory that state activity is useful
for humanity? Only the fact that the men who perform it firmly profess
to believe it to be useful, and that it has been always in existence.
But so some not only useless, but very pernicious institutions, like
slavery, prostitution, and wars, have always been in existence.

Business people (merchants, manufacturers, railway proprietors, bankers,
land-owners) believe that they do a good which compensates for the harm
undoubtedly done by them. On what grounds do they believe this? To the
question, By whom is the usefulness of their activity recognized? men in
church and in state are able to point to the thousands and millions of
working-people who in principle recognize the usefulness of state and
church activity. But to whom will bankers, distillers, manufacturers of
velvet, of bronzes, of looking-glasses, to say nothing of guns,--to whom
will they point when we ask them, Is their usefulness recognized by
public opinion?

If men can be found who recognize the usefulness of manufacturing
chintzes, rails, beer, and such like things, there will be found also a
still greater number of men who consider the manufacture of these
articles pernicious.

As for the merchants whose activity is confined to prices, and
land-owners, nobody would even attempt to justify them.

Besides, this activity is always associated with harm to working-people,
and with violence, which, if less direct than that of the state, is yet
just as cruel in its consequences. For the activities displayed in
industry and in trade are entirely based on taking advantage of the
wants of working-people in every form in order to compel them to hard
and hated labour; to buying cheap, and to selling necessaries at the
highest possible price and to raising the interest on money. From
whatever point we consider this activity we can see that the usefulness
of business-men is not recognised by those for whom it is expended,
neither generally nor in particular cases; and by the majority their
activity is considered to be directly pernicious.

If we were to apply the second test and to ask, What is the chief motive
of the activity of business-men? we should receive a still more
determinate answer than that on the activity of statesmen. If a
statesman says that besides a personal advantage he has in view the
common benefit, we cannot help believing him, and each of us knows such
men. But a business-man, from the very nature of his occupations cannot
have in view a common advantage, and would be ridiculous in the sight of
his fellows if he were in his business aiming at something besides
increasing his wealth and keeping it.

And, therefore, working-people do not consider the activity of
business-men of any advantage to them. Their activity is associated with
violence; and its object is not their good but always and only personal
advantage; and yet, strange to say, these business-men are so assured of
their own usefulness that they boldly, for the sake of their imaginary
good, do an undoubted, obvious harm to workmen by extricating themselves
from labour, and consuming the produce of the working-classes.

Scientists and artists have also freed themselves from labour by putting
it on others, and live with a quiet conscience believing that they bring
sufficient advantages to other men to compensate for it. On what is this
assurance based? Let us ask them as we have done statesmen and
business-men. Is the utility of the arts and sciences recognized by all,
or even by the majority, of working-people?

We shall receive a very sad answer. The activity of men in the State
Church and government offices is recognized to be useful in theory by
almost all, and in application by the majority of those for whom it is
performed. The activity of business-men is recognized only by those who
are engaged in it or who desire to practise it. Those who bear on their
shoulders all the labour of life and who feed and clothe the scientists
and artists cannot recognize the usefulness of the activity of these men
because they cannot even form an idea about an activity which always
appears to workmen useless and even depraving.

Thus, without any exception, working-people think the same about
universities, libraries, conservatories, picture and statue galleries,
and theatres, which are built at their expense.

A workman considers this activity so decidedly pernicious that he does
not send his children to be taught; and in order to compel people to
accept this activity it has everywhere been found necessary to introduce
a law compelling parents to send the children to school.

A workman always looks at this activity with ill-will, and only ceases
to look at it so when he ceases to be a workman, and through gain and
so-called education passes out of the class of working-people into the
class of men who live on the neck of others.

Notwithstanding the fact that the usefulness of the activity of
scientists and artists is not recognized and even cannot be recognized
by any workman, these men are, all the same, compelled to make
sacrifices for such an activity.

A statesman simply sends another to the guillotine or to prison; a
business-man, utilizing the labour of someone else, takes from him his
last resource, leaving him the alternative of starvation or labour
destructive to his health and life: but a man of science or of art
seemingly compels nobody to do anything; he merely offers the good he
has done to those who are willing to take it; but, to be able to make
his productions undesirable to the working-people, he takes away from
them by violence, through the statesmen, a great part of their labour
for the building and keeping open of academies, universities, colleges,
schools, museums, libraries, conservatories, and for the wages for
himself and his fellows.

But if we were to ask the scientists and artists the object which they
are pursuing in their activity, we should receive the most astonishing

A statesman would answer that his aim was the common welfare; and in his
answer, there would be an admixture of truth confirmed by public

In the answer of the business-man, there would be less probability; but
we could admit even this also.

But the answer of the scientists and artists strikes one at once by its
want of proof and by its effrontery. Such men say, without bringing any
proofs (just as priests used to do in olden times) that their activity
is the most important of all, and that without it mankind would go to
ruin. They assert that it is so, notwithstanding the fact that nobody
except themselves either understands or acknowledges their activity, and
notwithstanding the fact that, according to their own definition, true
science and true art should not have a utilitarian aim.

These men are occupied with the matter they like, without troubling
themselves what advantage will come out of it to men; and they are
always assured that they are doing the most important and the most
necessary thing for all mankind.

So that while a sincere statesman, acknowledging that the chief motive
of his activity is a personal one, tries to be as useful as possible to
the working-people; while a business-man, acknowledging the egotism of
his activity, tries to give it an appearance of being one of universal
utility,--men of science and art do not consider it necessary even to
seem to shelter themselves under a pretence of usefulness, they deny
even the object of usefulness, so sure are they, not only of the
usefulness but even of the sacredness of their own business.

So it turns out that the third class of men who have freed themselves
from labour and laid it on others, are occupied with things which are
totally incomprehensible to the working-people, and which these people
consider trifles and often very pernicious trifles; and are occupied
with these things without any consideration of their usefulness but
merely for the gratification of their own pleasure: it turns out that
these men are, from some reason or other, quite assured that their
activity will always produce that without which the work-people would
never be able to exist.

Men have freed themselves from labouring for their living and have
thrown the work upon others who perish under it: they utilize this
labour and assert that their occupations, which are incomprehensible to
all other men, and which are not directed to useful aims, compensate for
all the evil they are doing to men by freeing themselves from the
trouble of earning their livelihood and by swallowing up the labour of

The statesman, to compensate for the undoubted and obvious evil which he
does to man by freeing himself from the struggle with nature and by
appropriating the labour of others, does men another obvious and
undoubted harm by countenancing all sorts of violence.

The business-man, to compensate for the undoubted and obvious harm which
he does to men by using up their labour, tries to earn for himself as
much wealth as possible; that is, as much of other men's labour as

The man of science and art, in compensating for the same undoubted and
obvious harm which he does to working-people, is occupied with matters
to which he feels attracted and which are quite incomprehensible to
work-people, and which, according to his own assertion, in order to be
true, ought not to aim at usefulness.

Therefore, all these men are quite sure that their right of utilizing
other men's labour is secure. Yet it seems obvious that all those men
who have freed themselves from the labour of earning their livelihood
have no justification for doing so.

But, strange to say, these men firmly believe in their own
righteousness, and live as they do with an easy conscience.

There must be some plausible ground, some false belief, at the bottom of
such a profound error.


In reality, the position in which men who live by other men's labour are
placed, is based not only on a certain belief but on an entire doctrine;
and not only on one doctrine but on three, which have grown one upon
another during centuries and are now fused together into an awful
deceit,--or humbug as the English call it,--which hides from men their

The oldest of these, which justifies the treason of men against the
fundamental duty of labour to earn their own living, was the
Church-Christian doctrine, which asserts that men by the will of God
differ one from another as the sun differs from the moon and the stars,
and as one star differs from another. Some men God has ordained to have
dominion over all, others to have power over many, others, still, over a
few, and the remainder are ordained by God to obey.

This doctrine, though already shaken to its foundations, still continues
to influence some men, so that many who do not accept it, who often even
ignore the existence of it, are, nevertheless, guided by it.

The second is what I cannot help terming the State-philosophical
doctrine. According to this, as fully developed by Hegel, everything
that exists is reasonable, and the established order of life is
constant, and is sustained not merely by men, but as the only possible
form of the manifestation of the spirit, or, generally, of the life of

This doctrine, too, is no longer accepted by the men who direct social
opinion, and it holds its position only by the power of inertia.

The last doctrine, which is now ruling the minds of men and on which is
based the justification of leading statesmen, men of business, and
science and art, is a scientific one, not in the evident sense of the
word (meaning knowledge generally), but in the sense of a knowledge
peculiar in form as well as in matter, termed _Science_. On this new
doctrine, the justification of man's idleness and the hiding from him
his treason against his calling, is particularly based.

This doctrine appeared in Europe contemporaneously with a large class of
rich and idle people who served neither the church nor the state and who
were in want of a justification of their position.

Not very long ago, before the French revolution in Europe, all
non-working people, in order to have a right to utilize other men's
labour, were obliged to have some definite occupation,--to serve in the
church, the state, or the army.

The men who served the government, "governed the people"; those who
served the church, "taught the people divine truths"; and those who
served the army, "protected the people."

Only these three classes of men--the clergy, the statesmen, and the
military men--claimed for themselves the right of utilizing labour, and
they could always point out their services to the people: the remaining
rich men who had not this justification, were despised, and, feeling
their own want of right, were ashamed of their wealth and their
idleness. But as time went on, this class of rich people, who belonged
neither to the clergy, to the government, nor to the army, owing to the
vices of these other three classes, increased in number and became a
powerful party. They were in want of a justification of their position.
And one was invented for them. A century had not elapsed before the men
who served neither the State nor the Church and took no part whatever in
their affairs, received the same right to live on labour as the former
classes; and they not only left off being ashamed of their wealth and
idleness but began to consider their position quite justified. And the
number of such men has increased, and is still increasing in our days.

The most wonderful of all is this, that these men whose claims to be
freed from labour were unrecognized not long ago, now consider
themselves alone to be fully right and are attacking the former three
classes,--the servants of the Church, State, and Army,--alleging their
exemption from labour to be unjust and often even considering their
activity directly pernicious. What is still more wonderful is this, that
the former servants of Church, State, and Army, do not now lean on the
divinity of their calling, nor even on the philosophy which considers
the state necessary for individual development, but setting aside these
supports which have so long maintained them, they are now seeking the
same supports on which the new reigning class of men, who have found a
novel justification, stand, and at the head of which are the men of
Science and Art.

If a statesman now sometimes, appealing to old memories, justifies his
position by the fact that he was set in it by God, or by the fact that
the state is a form of the development of personality, he does it
because he is behind the age, and he feels that nobody believes him.

In order to justify himself effectually, he ought to find now neither
theological nor philosophical but new and scientific supports.

It is necessary to point to the principle of nationalities, or to that
of the development of an organism; and to gain over the ruling class, as
in the Middle Ages it was necessary to gain over the clergy; and as at
the end of the last century, it was necessary to obtain the sanction of
philosophers, as seen in the case of Frederick the Great and Catherine
of Russia. If now a rich man, after the old fashion, says sometimes that
it is God's providence which makes him rich, or if he points to the
importance of a nobility for the welfare of a state, he does it because
he is behind the times.

In order to justify himself completely he must point to the way he
furthers progress by improving the modes of production, by lowering the
prices of consumption, by establishing intercourse between nations. A
rich man must think and speak in scientific language, and, like the
clergy formerly, he must offer sacrifices to the ruling class: he must
publish magazines and books, provide himself with a picture-gallery, a
musical society, a kindergarten or technical school. The ruling class is
the class of learned men and artists of a definite character. They
possess the complete justification for having freed themselves from
labour; and on this justification (as in former times on the theological
justification, and afterwards on the philosophical one) everything is
based: and it is these men who now give the diploma of exemption to
other classes.

The class of men who now feel completely justified in freeing themselves
from labour, is that of men of science, and particularly of
experimental, positive, critical, evolutional science, and of artists
who develop their ideas according to the same tendency.

If a learned man or an artist of the old style speaks nowadays about
prophecy, revelation, or the manifestation of the spirit, he does so
because he is behind the age, and he will not succeed in justifying
himself: to stand firm he must try to associate his activity with
experimental, positive, critical science, and he must make this science
the fundamental principle of his activity. Only then will the science or
the art with which he is occupied appear true, and he will stand on firm
ground, and then there will be no doubt as to his usefulness to mankind.
The justification of all who have freed themselves from labour is now
based upon this experimental, critical, positive science.

The theological and philosophical explanations have had their day: now
they timidly and bashfully introduce themselves to notice and try to
humour their scientific usurper, who, however, boldly knocks down and
destroys the remnants of the past, everywhere taking its place, and,
assured of its own firmness, lifts aloft its head.

_The theological justification_ maintained that men are
predestined,--some to govern, others to obey; some to live sumptuously,
others to labour: and therefore those who believed in the revelation of
God could not doubt the lawfulness of the position of those men, who, by
the will of God, are called to govern and to be rich.

_The state-philosophical justification_ used to say, "The state with all
its institutions and differences of classes according to rights and
possessions, is that historical form which is necessary for the right
manifestation of the spirit in mankind; and therefore the situation
which everyone occupies in state and in society according to his rights
and to his possessions must be such as to ensure the sound life of

_The scientific theory_ says, "All this is nonsense and superstition:
the one is the fruit of the theological period of thought, and the other
of the metaphysical period. To study the laws of the life of human
societies, there is only one sure method,--that of a positive,
experimental, critical science. It is only sociology, based on biology,
in its turn based on all the other positive sciences, which is able to
give us new laws for the life of mankind. Mankind, or human societies,
are organisms either already perfect, or in a state of development
subject to the laws of the evolution of organisms. One of the first of
these laws is the division of labour among the portions of the organs.
If some men govern and others obey, some live in opulence and others in
want, then this is so, neither according to the will of God nor because
the state is the form of the manifestation of personality, but because
in societies as in organisms a division of labour takes place which is
necessary for the life of the whole. Some men perform in societies the
muscular part of labour, and others, the mental."

On this doctrine is built the ruling excuse of the age.


Christ teaches men in a new way, and this teaching is written down in
the Gospels.

It is first persecuted, and not accepted. Then the fables of the fall of
man, and of the first angel, are invented, and these fables are believed
to be the teaching of Christ. The fables are absurd, they have no
foundation whatever, but by virtue of them men are led to believe that
they may continue to live in an evil way, and none the less consider
themselves as saved by Christ. This conclusion is so agreeable to the
mass of weak men who have no affection for moral effort, that the system
is eagerly accepted, not only as true, but even as the Divine truth as
revealed by God himself. And the invention becomes the groundwork on
which for centuries theologians build their theories.

Then by degrees these learned men diverge by various channels into
special systems of their own, and finally endeavour to overthrow each
other's theories. They begin to feel there is something amiss, and cease
to understand what they themselves are talking about. But the crowd
still requires them to expound its favourite instruction; and thus the
theologians, pretending both to understand and believe what they are
saying, continue to dispense it.

In process of time, however, the conclusions drawn from theological
conceptions cease to be necessary to the masses, who, then, peeping into
the very sanctuaries of their augurs, discover them to be utterly void
of those glorious and indubitable truths which the mysteries of theology
had seemed to be, and see instead that there is nothing there but crude
deception, and they marvel at their own blindness.

The same happened to philosophy, not in the sense of the wisdom of men
like Confucius or Epictetus, but with professional philosophy which
humoured the instincts of the crowd of rich and idle people. Not long
ago a moral philosophy was in fashion in the learned world, according to
which it appeared that everything that is, is reasonable; that there is
neither good nor evil; that man has not to struggle with evil, but has
merely to manifest the spirit of the age, some in military service, some
in courts of justice, and some on the violin.

Many and various were the expressions of human wisdom known to the men
of the nineteenth century,--of Rousseau, Pascal, Lessing, and Spinoza;
and all the wisdom of antiquity was expounded, but none of its systems
laid hold of the crowd. We cannot say that Hegel's success was due to
the harmony of his theory. We had no less harmonious theories from
Descartes, Leibnitz, Fichte, and Schopenhauer.

There was only one reason for the fact that this doctrine became for a
short time the belief of the civilized world, the same reason that
caused the success of the theory of the fall and redemption of man; to
wit, that the deductions of this philosophical theory humoured the weak
side of men's nature. It said, "All is reasonable, all is good; nobody
is to blame for any thing."

As at first with the church upon theological foundations, so also, with
the philosophy of Hegel for a base, a Babel's tower was built (some who
are behind the age are still sitting upon it); and here again was a
confusion of tongues, men feeling that they themselves did not know of
what they were talking, but were trying to conceal their ignorance and
keep up their prestige before the crowd; and here again the masses found
confirmation of their accepted teachings, and believed that whatever
might seem to them bewildering and contradictory is as clear as
day-light on philosophic altitudes. In the same way, the time came when
this doctrine wore out and a new one replaced it. It had become useless,
and the crowd peeped into the mysterious temples of the teachers, and
saw there was nothing there--nor ever had been, but obscure and
unmeaning words. I have seen this in my own day.

When I began life, Hegelianism was the order of the day; it was in the
very air you breathed; it found its expression in newspapers and
magazines, in lectures on history and on law, in novels, in tracts, in
art, in sermons, in conversation. A man who did not know Hegel had no
right to open his mouth; those who desired to learn the truth were
studying Hegel,--every thing pointed to him; and lo! forty years have
elapsed and nothing is left of him; there is no remembrance of him; all
is as though he had never existed. And the most remarkable of all is,
that just as false Christianity, so also Hegelianism has fallen, not
because someone refuted or overthrew it; no, it is now as it was before,
but both have only become no longer necessary for the learned, educated

If at the present time we speak to any man of modern culture about the
fall of the angel, of Adam, about atonement, he does not argue or
deny;--he simply asks, amazed, "What angel? Adam? What for? What
atonement? What is all this to me?"

So also with Hegelianism. No one of our day will argue its theses. He
will only inquire, "What Spirit?" "Where did it come from?" "With what
purpose?" "What good will it do me?" Not very long ago the sages of
Hegelianism were solemnly teaching the crowd; and the crowd,
understanding nothing, blindly believed all, finding the confirmation of
what suited them, and thinking that what seemed to them to be not quite
clear or even contradictory, was clearer than day on the heights of
philosophy: but time went on, the theory was worn out, a new one
appeared in its place, the former one was no longer demanded, and again
the crowd looked into the mysterious temples of the augurs and saw there
was nothing there, and that nothing had ever been there but words, very
dark and meaningless.

This happened within my memory. These things happened, we are told,
because they were ravings of the theological and metaphysical period,
but now we have a critical, positive science which will not deceive us,
because it is based upon induction and experience; now our knowledge is
no longer uncertain as it formerly was, and it is only by following it
that one can find the answer to all the questions of life.

But this is exactly what was said by the old teachers, and they
certainly were no fools, and we know that among them were men of immense
intellect; and within my memory the disciples of Hegel said exactly the
same thing, with no less assurance and no less acknowledgment on the
side of the crowd of so-called educated people. And such men as our
Herzen, Stankievich, Bylinsky, were no fools either. But why, then, has
this wonderful thing happened, that clever men preached with the
greatest assurance and the crowd accepted with veneration, only
groundless and meaningless doctrines? The reason is only that these
doctrines justified men in their bad mode of living.

A very commonplace English writer, whose books are now almost forgotten
and recognized as the emptiest of all empty ones, wrote a tract upon
population, in which he invented an imaginary law that the means of
living do not increase with the increase of population. This sham law
the author dressed out with the formulæ of mathematics which have no
foundation whatever, and published it. Judged by the lightness of mind
and the want of talent displayed in this treatise we might have supposed
that it would have passed unnoticed and been forgotten as all other
writings of the same author have been; but it turned out quite
differently. The author who wrote it became at once a scientific
authority, and has maintained this position for nearly half a century.
Malthus! The Malthusian theory,--the law of the increase of population
in geometrical progression, and the increase of means of living in
arithmetical progression, and the natural and prudent means of
restraining the increase of population,--all these became scientific,
undoubted truths which have never been verified, but, accepted as
axioms, have served for further deductions.

Thus learned and educated men were deceived; whereas in the crowd of
idle men there was a blind and religious trust in the great laws
discovered by Malthus. How did this happen? These statements seem to be
scientific deductions which have nothing in common with the instincts of
the crowd.

But they are only sacred to those who believe science to be something
self-existent and infallible, like the Church, and not merely the
thoughts of weak men liable to mistakes, who only for importance' sake
call their own thoughts and words by a pompous word, _science_. It was
only necessary to draw practical conclusions from the Malthusian theory
in order to see that it was quite a human one with very determinate

The deductions which were directly drawn from this theory were the
following: The miserable condition of working-people does not come from
the cruelty, egotism, and unreasonableness of rich and powerful men, but
it exists according to an unchangeable law which does not depend upon
man, and, if anybody is to blame, it is the starving working-people
themselves: why do these fools come into the world when they know that
they will not have enough to eat? and therefore the wealthy and powerful
classes are not at all to blame for any thing, and they may quietly
continue to live as they have done.

This conclusion, being pleasant to the crowd of idle men, induced the
learned dons to overlook the incorrectness and total arbitrariness of
the deductions; and the crowd of educated, i.e., idle people,
instinctively guessing to what these deductions led, greeted the theory
with delight, set upon it the seal of truth, and cherished it during
half a century. The reason for all this was, that these doctrines
justified men in their bad mode of life.

Is not the same cause at the bottom of the self-assurance of men of the
new positive, critical, experimental science, and of the reverent regard
of the crowd to what they preach? At first it seems strange that the
theory of evolution (like the theory of atonement in theology, it serves
for the majority of men as a popular expression of the new teaching)
should justify men in their false lives, and it would seem that the
scientific theory has only to do with facts, and does nothing but
observe facts. But it only seems so.

It had been so with theological teaching; theology seemed to be occupied
only with doctrines and to have nothing to do with the lives of men. It
had been so with philosophy, which also seemed to be occupied only with

It had been so with the teaching of Hegel on a large scale, and with the
theory of Malthus on a small one. Hegelianism seemed to be occupied
merely with its logical constructions and to have nothing to do with the
lives of men; and the theory of Malthus seemed to be occupied
exclusively with statistics.

But it only seemed so.

Modern science also claims to be occupied exclusively with facts: it
studies facts.

But what facts? Why some facts and not others?

The disciples of the modern science are very fond of saying with a
solemn assurance, "We study facts alone," imagining that these words
have some meaning.

To study facts alone is quite impossible, because the number of facts
which may be objects of our study, are, in the strict sense of the word,

Before beginning to study facts, one must have some theory according to
which the facts are studied; that is, determining which shall be
selected from the countless number of facts. And this theory indeed
exists and is even very definitely expressed, though many of the agents
of modern science ignore it; that is, do not want to know it, or really
do not know it;--sometimes pretend not to know it.

Thus matters stood before with all most important beliefs.

The basis of each is always given in theory; and so-called learned men
seek only further deductions from the various bases given to them,
though sometimes they ignore even these.

But a fundamental theory must always be present, and so it is also now.
Modern science selects its facts on the ground of a determinate theory,
which sometimes it knows, sometimes does not wish to know, sometimes
really does not know; but which exists. The theory is this: Mankind is
an undying organism, having each his special calling for the service of
the whole. As the cells, growing into an organism, divide among
themselves the labour of the struggle for existence of the whole
organism, increase one capacity, and diminish another, and all together
form an organ in order better to satisfy the wants of the whole
organism; and as among social animals,--ants and bees,--the individuals
divide the labour among themselves (queen-bees lay eggs, drone-bees
fecundate, working-bees labour for the life of the whole),--so also in
mankind and in human societies there take place the same differentiation
and integration of the parts. And therefore, in order to find the law of
man's life, we must study the laws of the lives and development of
organisms. And in these we find the following laws: That each phenomenon
is followed by more than one consequence. The failure of uniformity. The
law of uniformity and diversity; and so on.

All this seems to be very innocent, but we need only draw deductions
from these observations of facts in order to see at once to what they
are tending. These facts lead to one thing,--the acknowledgement of
humanity or human society as an organism, and hence to the
acknowledgment of the division of activities in human society as
organic, that is necessary; and as there exist in human societies many
cruelties and vices, therefore these phenomena must not be considered as
cruelties and vices, but must be accepted as inevitable facts confirming
a general law--i.e., that of "division of labour." Moral philosophy used
also to justify every cruelty and wickedness; but there it became
philosophical, and therefore incorrect. According to science, however,
the same thing turns out to be scientific, and therefore unquestionable.

How can we help accepting such a fine theory! We need only look at human
society merely as something to be observed, and we may quietly devour
the labour of perishing men, calming ourselves with the idea that our
activity as a dancing-master, a lawyer, a doctor, a philosopher, an
actor, an investigator of the theory of mediumism and of forms of atoms,
and so on, is a functional activity of the organism of mankind and
therefore there can be no question whether it is just that I should
continue to live doing only what is pleasant, just as there can be no
question whether the division of labour between a mental and a muscular
cell is fair or not. How can we help accepting such a nice theory which
enables us afterwards to put our consciences into our pockets forever,
and live a completely unbridled, animal life, feeling under our feet a
firm, scientific support? And it is upon this new belief that the
justification of idleness and the cruelty of men is built.


This doctrine had its commencement about half a century ago. Its chief
founder was the French philosopher Comte. Comte, being a lover of
systematic theory, and at the same time a man of religious tendency, was
impressed by the then new physiological researches of Bichat; and he
conceived the old idea, expressed in bygone days by Menenius Agrippa,
that human societies, indeed all human-kind, may be regarded as one
whole, An Organism, and men--as live particles of separate organs, each
having his definite destination to fulfil in the service of the whole

Comte was so fascinated by this idea that he founded his philosophical
theory on it; and this theory so captivated him that he quite forgot
that his point of departure was no more than a pretty comparison,
suitable enough in a fable, but in no way justifiable as the foundation
of a science. As it often happens, he took his pet hypothesis for an
axiom, and so imagined that his whole theory was based upon the most
firm and positive foundations.

According to his theory it appeared that, as mankind is an organism,
therefore the knowledge of what man is and what his relation to the
world ought to be, is only possible through the knowledge of the
properties of this organism. And to be able to learn these properties
man is fitted to make observations upon other lower organisms and to
draw deductions from their lives.

Therefore, first, the true and exclusive method of science, according to
Comte, is the inductive one, and science is only science when it has
experiment for its basis. Secondly, the final aim and the summit of
science becomes the new science concerning the imaginary organism of
Mankind, or the organic being,--Mankind. This new hypothetic science is
Sociology. From this view of science it generally turns out that all
former knowledge was false, and that the whole history of mankind, in
the sense of its self-consciousness, divides itself into three, or
rather two, periods. First, the theological and metaphysical period,
from the beginning of the world to Comte. And, secondly, the modern
period of true science, positive science, beginning with Comte.

All this was very well, but there was one mistake in it, which was this:
that all this edifice was built on the sand, on an arbitrary (and
incorrect) assertion that mankind, collectively considered, was an

This assertion is arbitrary because, if we are to acknowledge the
existence of mankind as an organism, which is beyond observation, we
might as well acknowledge the existence of the triple God and similar
theological propositions.

It was incorrect, because to the idea of mankind, that is, of men, the
definition of an organism was added, whereas man lacks the essential
characteristics of an organism,--a centre of sensation or consciousness.
We call an elephant, as well as a bacterium, organisms, only because we
suppose by analogy in these beings that there is unification of
sensations, or consciousness. But human societies and mankind lack this
essential; and therefore, however many other general character-signs we
may find in mankind and in an organism,--without this, the assertion
that man is an organism is incorrect.

But notwithstanding the arbitrariness and incorrectness of the
fundamental proposition of Positive Philosophy, it was accepted by the
so-called "Educated World" with great sympathy, because of that great
fact, important for the crowd, that it afforded a justification of the
existing order of things by recognizing the lawfulness of the existing
division of labour; that is, of violence in mankind. It is remarkable in
this respect that from the writings of Comte, composed of two parts,--a
Positive Philosophy and a Positive Politics,--only the first part was
accepted on new experimental principles by the learned world, that which
justified the existing evil in human society. The second part, treating
of the moral, altruistic duties, following from this recognition of
mankind as an organism, was considered not only unimportant but even

Here the same thing was repeated which occurred with the two parts of
Kant's writings. The "Critique of Pure Reason," was accepted by science;
but the "Critique of Practical Reason," that part which contains the
essence of moral doctrine, was rejected. In the teaching of Comte, that
was recognized to be scientific which humoured the reigning evil.

But the Positive Philosophy accepted by the crowd, based on an arbitrary
and incorrect supposition, was by itself too ill-grounded, and therefore
too unsteady, and could not be sustained by itself.

And now, among the idle play of ideas of so-called "Men of Science,"
there has appeared a similarly arbitrary and incorrect assertion, not at
all new, to the effect that all living beings (that is, organisms),
proceed one from another; not only one organism from another, but one
organism from many; that during a very long period, a million of years,
for instance, not only may a fish and a duck have proceeded from one and
the same forefather, but also one organism might have proceeded from
many separate organisms; so, for instance, out of a swarm of bees a
single animal may proceed. This arbitrary and incorrect assertion was
accepted by the learned world with still greater sympathy.

The assertion was arbitrary, because no one has ever seen how one kind
of organism is made from others; and therefore the hypothesis about the
Origin of Species will always remain a mere supposition and never become
an experimental fact.

The hypothesis was incorrect, because the solution of the problem of the
Origin of Species by the theory of the laws of inheritance and
accommodation during an infinitely long period, is not a solution of the
problem at all, but the mere reiteration of the question in another

According to the solution of this problem by Moses (to oppose which is
the object of Comte's theory), it appeared that the variety of the
species of living beings proceeded from the will of God and his infinite
omnipotence. According to the Theory of Evolution, it appears that the
variety of species of living beings proceeded from themselves in
consequence of the infinite variety of conditions of inheritance and
environment in an infinite period of time.

The Theory of Evolution, speaking plainly, asserts only that (by chance)
in an infinite period of time, anything you like may proceed from
anything else you choose.

This is no answer to the question; it is simply the same question put
differently: instead of Will is put Chance, and the co-efficient of the
Infinite is transferred from Omnipotence to Time.

But this new assertion, enforced by Darwin's followers in an arbitrary
and inaccurate spirit, maintained the first assertion of Comte, and
therefore it became the Revelation for our time, and the foundation of
all sciences, even that of the history of philosophy and religion; and
besides, according to the _naïve_ confession of Darwin himself, the idea
was awakened in him by the law of Malthus; and therefore he pointed to
the "Struggle for Existence" not only of men but of all living beings,
as a fundamental law of every living thing, and this was exactly what
was wanted by the crowd of idle people for their own justification.

Two unstable theories which could not stand on their own feet supported
each other, and so received a show of stability. Both the theories bore
in them a sense, precious to the crowd, that men are not to be blamed
for the existing evil in human societies, that the existing order is
what should be; and thus the new theory was accepted by the crowd in the
sense wanted by them, with full confidence and unprecedented enthusiasm.

Thus the new scientific doctrine was founded upon two arbitrary and
incorrect propositions, accepted in the same way that dogmas of faith
are accepted. Both in matter and form this new doctrine is remarkably
like the Church-Christian one. In matter, the similarity lies in the
fact that in both doctrines alike a fantastical meaning is attached to
really existing things, and this artificial meaning is taken as the
object of our research.

In the Church-Christian doctrine, to Christ who did really exist, is
attributed the fantastic conception of being God Himself, screened. In
the Positive doctrine, to the really existing fact of live men is
attributed the fantastical attributes of an organism.

In form, the similarity of these two doctrines is remarkable, since, in
both cases, a theory emanating from one class of men is accepted as the
only and infallible truth. In the Church-Christian doctrine, the
Church's way of understanding God's revelation to men is regarded as the
sacred and only true one. In the doctrine of Positivism, certain men's
way of understanding science is regarded as absolutely correct and true.

As the Church-Christians regard the foundation of their church as the
only origin of true knowledge of God, and only out of a kind of courtesy
admit that former believers may also be regarded as having formed a
church; so in precisely the same manner does Positive science, according
to its own statement, place its origin in Comte: and its
representatives, also only out of courtesy, admit the existence of
previous science, and that only as regarding certain thinkers, as, for
instance, Aristotle. Both the Church and Positive science altogether
exclude the ideas of all the rest of mankind, and regard all knowledge
outside their own as _erroneous_. The similarity persists. Just as to
the support of the first advental theological dogmas of the Trinity and
of the divinity of Christ comes the old--but newly-interpreted--dogmas
of man's fall and of his redemption by the death of Christ, and out of
these dogmas is developed popular Church teaching: so in our time, the
old dogma of Evolution comes in with new importance to help the
fundamental dogma of Comte concerning the organism of mankind; and from
these two elements the popular scientific doctrine has been formed. As
in one teaching, so in the other: the new dogma is necessary for the
support of the old one, and becomes comprehensible only in connection
with it. If to a believer in the Divinity of Christ, it is not clearly
comprehensible why God should come down to earth, the doctrine of
atonement explains it. If it is not quite clear to a believer in the
Organism of Mankind why a collection of individuals may be counted as an
organism, the dogma of Evolution is charged with the explanation. This
dogma is needed to reconcile the contradictions and certainties of the
first: mankind is an organism, and we see that it does not contain the
chief characteristic of an organism; how must we account for it?

Here the dogma of evolution comes in, and explains, Mankind is an
organism in a state of development. If you accept this, you may then
consider mankind as such.

As to any man free from superstitions about the trinity and the Divinity
of Christ, it is impossible even to understand the force and the meaning
of the teaching of atonement, which meaning comes only through the
acknowledgment of Christ as God Himself, so a man who is free from the
Positive superstition cannot even understand wherein lies the interest
of the theory of the Origin of Species and of Evolution; and this
interest is explained only when we learn the fundamental dogma, that
"Mankind is an Organism." And as the subtleties of theology are only
intelligible to those who believe in its fundamental dogmas, so also the
subtleties of sociology, which now occupy the minds of all adherents of
this recent and profound science, are intelligible only to believers.
The doctrine of atonement is necessary to reconcile the contradiction
between the first dogma and facts. God descended on earth to save men.
But men are not saved. How then explain this? The dogma of atonement
asserts "He saved those, who believed in atonement. If you believe in
atonement, you are saved."

The similarity between these two doctrines holds good yet further. Being
founded on dogmas accepted by faith, these doctrines neither question
nor analyze their own principles, which, on the other hand, are used as
starting-points for the most extraordinary theories. The preachers of
these call themselves, in Theology, sanctified; in Positive knowledge,
scientific; in both cases, infallible. And at the same time, they
conceive the most peremptory, incredible, and unfounded assertions,
which they give forth with the greatest pomp and seriousness, and which
are with equal pomp and seriousness contradicted in all their details by
others who do not agree, and yet who equally recognize the fundamental

The Basil the Great of scientific doctrine, Herbert Spencer, in one of
his first writings expresses these doctrines thus: Societies and
organisms, says he, are alike in the following points: First, in that,
being conceived as small aggregates, they imperceptibly grow in mass, so
that some of them become ten thousand times bigger than their originals.

Secondly, in that, while in the beginning they have such simple
structure that they may almost be considered structureless, in their
growth they develop an ever-increasing complexity of structure.

Thirdly, in that, though in their early undeveloped period there does
not exist among them any dependence of particles upon one another, these
particles by and by acquire a mutual dependence, which at last becomes
so strong that the activity and the life of each part is possible only
with the activity and the lives of all others.

Fourthly, in this, that the life and the development of society is more
independent and longer than the life and the development of every unit
which goes to form it, and which is separately born and growing and
acting and multiplying and dying while the political body formed of such
continues to live one generation after another, developing in mass, in
perfection of structure, and in functional activity.

Then follow the points of difference between organisms and societies,
and it is demonstrated that these differences are only seeming ones, and
that organisms and societies are quite similar.

To an impartial man the question at once arises, What are you speaking
about, then? Why is mankind an organism or something similar? You say
that societies are similar to organisms according to these four points;
but even this comparison is incorrect. You take only a few
characteristics of an organism, and you then apply them to human
societies. You produce four points of similarity, then you take the
points of difference which you say are only seemingly so, and you
conclude that human societies may be considered as organisms. But this
is nothing else than an idle play of dialectics. On this ground we may
consider as an organism everything we choose. I take the first thing
which comes to my mind,--a forest, as it is planted in a field and grows
up: first beginning as a small aggregate and imperceptibly increasing in
mass. Secondly, "In the beginning the structure of an organism is
simple, then the complexity increases," and so on. This is the case with
the forest: at first there are only birch-trees, then hazel, and so on;
first all the trees grow straight, and afterwards they interlace their
branches. Thirdly, "The dependence of the parts increases so that the
life of each part depends upon the lives and activities of all the
others": it is exactly the same with the forest; the nut-tree keeps the
trunks warm (if you hew it down, the other trees will be frozen in
winter), the underwood keeps off wind, the seed-trees continue the
species, the tall and leafy ones give shadow, and the life of each tree
depends upon that of the rest. Fourthly, "Separate parts may die, but
the whole organism continues to live." Separate trees perish, but the
forest continues in life and growth.

The same holds good with the example so often brought by the defenders
of the scientific doctrine. Cut off an arm,--the arm will die: we may
say remove a tree from the shadow and the ground of a forest, it will

Another remarkable similarity between this scientific doctrine and the
Church-Christian one,--and any other theory founded upon propositions
which are accepted through faith,--lies in their mutual capacity of
being proof against logic.

Having demonstrated that by this theory a forest may be considered as an
organism, you think you have proved to the followers of the theory the
incorrectness of their definition? Not at all. Their definition of an
organism is so loose and plastic that they can apply it to everything
they like.

Yes, they will say, you may consider the forest, too, as an organism. A
forest is a mutual co-operation of the individuals who do not destroy
each other; an aggregate: its parts can also pass into a closer
relationship, and by differentiation and integration it may become an

Then you will say, that in that case, the birds too and the insects, and
the herbs of this forest, which mutually co-operate and do not destroy
each other, may be considered, with the trees, to be an organism. They
would agree to this, too. According to their theory, we may consider as
an organism every collection of living beings which mutually co-operate,
and do not destroy one another. You can establish a connection and
co-operation between everything you like, and, according to evolution,
you can assert that from anything may proceed anything else you like, if
a long enough period is granted.

To those who believe in the Trinity, it is impossible to prove that it
does not exist. But one can show them that their assertion is not based
on knowledge, but is an assertion of faith, and that if they assert that
there are three Gods, I have an equal right to assert that there are 17½
Gods. One may say the same thing with yet better ground to the followers
of Positive and Evolutional science. On the basis of this science one
could undertake to prove anything one liked. And the strangest thing of
all is, that this same Positive science regards the scientific method as
a condition of true knowledge, and that it has itself defined the
elements of the scientific method. It professes that common sense is the
scientific method. And yet common sense itself discloses the fallacies
of the doctrine at every step. The moment those who occupied the
position of saints felt there was no longer anything sacred in them,
that they are cursed like the Pope and our own Synod, they immediately
called themselves not merely sacred, but "most sacred." The moment
science felt that it had given up common sense, it called itself The
Science of Reason, The Only Really Scientific Science.


"Division of Labour" is the law pervading everything that exists,
therefore it must exist in human societies too. That may be so; but the
question still remains, whether the existing division of labour in human
society is the division which ought to exist. And when men consider a
certain division of labour unreasonable and unjust, no science whatever
can prove to men that what they consider unreasonable and unjust ought
to continue.

The theological theory demonstrated that "Power is of God"; and it very
well may be so. But the question still remains, To whom is the power
given, to Catherine the Empress, or to the rebel Pugatchof? And no
theological subtleties whatever can solve this difficulty. Moral
philosophy demonstrates that "A State is merely a form of the social
development of the individual"; but the question still remains,--Can the
state of a Nero or that of a Gengis Khan be considered a form of such
development? And no transcendentalism whatever can solve that

It is the same with Scientific Science also. Division of Labour is the
condition of the life of organisms and of human societies; but what have
we to consider in these human societies as an organic division of
labour? However much science studies the division of labour in the
molecules of a tape-worm, all the observations cannot compel men to
acknowledge as correct a division of labour which is repudiated by their
reason and conscience. However convincing the proofs of the division of
labour in the cells of investigated organisms may be, a man who has not
yet lost his reason will say it is wrong that some should only weave
cloth all their long life, and that this is not division of labour, but
oppression of human beings.

Herbert Spencer and others affirm that as there is a whole population of
weavers, the weaver's activity is in organic division of labour. In
saying this they use a similar line of reasoning to the theologians:
There is a power, therefore it is of God, whatever it may be: there are
weavers, therefore they exist as a result of the law of division of
labour. There might be some sense in this if the power and the position
of weavers were created by themselves; but we know that they are not but
that it is we who create them. Well, then, we ought to ascertain whether
we have established this power according to the will of God or of
ourselves, and whether we have called these weavers into being by virtue
of some organic law or from some other cause.

Here are men earning their living by agriculture, as it is proper for
all men to do: one man has set up a smith's forge and mended his plough;
his neighbour comes to him and asks him to mend his plough, too, and
promises to give labour or money in return. A second comes with a
similar request; others follow; and in the society of these men a form
of division of labour arises. Thus, one man becomes a smith.

Another man has taught his children well; his neighbour brings him his
children and asks him to teach them, and thus a teacher is formed: but
the smith as well as the teacher become, and continue to be, a smith and
a teacher, only because they were asked, and they remain a smith and a
teacher only as long as people require their trades. If it happens that
too many smiths and teachers appear, or if their labour is no longer
wanted, they at once, according to common sense, throw aside their trade
and become labourers again, as it everywhere and always happens where
there is no cause for the violation of a right division of labour.

Men who behave in such a way are directed both by their reason and their
conscience; and therefore we who are endowed with reason and conscience,
all agree that such a division of labour is a right one. But if it were
to happen that smiths, having the possibility of compelling other men to
labour for them, were to continue to make horseshoes when there was no
longer a demand for them, and teachers were to wish to continue to teach
when there was nobody to be taught, then, to every impartial man endowed
with reason and conscience, it would be obvious that this is not real
division of labour but a usurpation of other men's labour; because such
a division could no longer be tested satisfactorily by the sole standard
by which we may know whether it is right or not,--the demand of such
labour by other men, and a voluntary compensation offered for it by
them. But exactly such a surplus, however, is what Scientific Science
terms "a division of labour."

Men do what is not required, and they ask to be fed for it, and say it
is just, because it is division of labour. The chief _social_ evil of a
people,--not with us alone,--is the countless horde of State officials.
The chief cause of the _economical_ misery of our days, is what is
called in England "over-production" (that is, the production of an
enormous quantity of articles, wanted by nobody, and which no one knows
how to get rid of). All this comes simply from the strange idea about
the "division of labour?"

It would be very strange to see a boot-maker who considered that men
were bound to feed him because, forsooth, he continued to produce boots
wanted by no one; but what shall we say about those men in government,
church, science, and art, who not only do not produce any thing tangibly
useful for the people but whose produce is wanted by nobody, yet who as
boldly require to be well fed and clothed on account of "The division of

There may be magicians for whose activity there is a demand and to whom
men give casks and spirits; but we cannot even imagine the existence of
magicians who, while their magic is not wanted by anybody, require to be
fed simply because they wish to practice their art. Yet in our world
this is the very position of the men in church and state, of the men of
science and art. And it all proceeds from that false conception of the
division of labour, defined, not by reason and conscience, but by
deductions to which these scientists so unanimously resort.

Division of labour, indeed, has always existed; but it is correct only
when man decides it by his reason and conscience, and not by his making
observations on it. And the conscience and the reason of all men solve
this question in the simplest and surest way. They always decide the
question by recognizing the division of labour to be right only when the
special activity of a man is so necessary to others, that they freely
offer to feed him in compensation for what they ask him to do for them.
But when a man from his infancy up to his thirtieth year lives on the
shoulders of other men, promising to do, when he finishes his studies,
something very useful, which nobody has ever asked him for, and then for
the rest of his life lives in the same way, promising only to do
presently something which nobody asks him to do, this would not be a
true division of labour, but, as it really is, only the violation by a
strong man of the labour of others; the same appropriation of other
men's labour by a strong man, which formerly Theology called Divine
predestination; Philosophy, Inevitable Conditions of Life; and now
Scientific Science, the Organic Division of Labour.

The entire importance of the ruling science consists in this alone. This
science is now the dispenser of diplomas for idleness, because in her
temples she alone analyzes and determines what activity in the social
organism is parasitic and what organic. As if each man could not decide
much better and more quickly, too, by consulting his own reason and

As formerly, both for clergy and for statesmen, there could have been no
doubt as to who were most necessary to other people, so now for the
believers in Positive Science it seems that there can be no doubt about
this, that their own activity is undoubtedly an organic one: they, the
factors of science and art, are the cells of the brain, the most
precious cells of all the human organism.

Let us leave them to reign, eat, drink, and be feasted, as priests and
sophists of old have before them, so long as they do not deprave men!

Since men are reasonable creatures they have discriminated good from
evil, making use of what has been done in this direction before them by
others, have struggled with evil, seeking a true and better way, and
slowly but unceasingly have advanced in this way. But always across the
road different deceptions stood before them, trying to assure them that
this struggle was not at all necessary, and that they should submit to
the tide of life. First the awful deceptions of the old Church; little
by little with dreadful struggle and effort men got rid of them: but
scarcely had they done so when in their place arose new ones--state and
philosophical deceptions.

Men freed themselves from these too, and now a new deceit, a still worse
one, has sprung up in their path,--the scientific deception.

This new deception is exactly what the old ones were: its essence
consists in the substitution of an externality for reason and
conscience, and this externality is _observation_, as in theology it was

The snare of this science consists in this, that having exposed some
bare-faced perversions of the activity of reason and conscience, it
destroys men's confidence in both reason and conscience. Hiding their
lie clothed in a scientific theory, scientists assure men that by
studying external phenomena they study undeniable facts which will
reveal to them the law of man's life. Things which are the property of
conscience and reason are now to be discovered by observation alone.
These men lose the conception of good and evil and thus become unable to
understand those expressions and definitions of good and evil which have
been worked out during the entire former existence of mankind.

All that reason and conscience say to them, all that they have said to
the highest representatives of men since the world has existed, all
this, in their slang, is "conditional and subjective." All this must be
left behind.

It is said that by reason one cannot apprehend the truth, because reason
is liable to error: there is another way, unmistakable and almost
mechanical,--one must study facts on the ground of science; that is, on
two groundless suppositions, Positivism and Evolution, which are offered
as the most undoubted truths. With mock solemnity the ruling science
asserts that the solution of all the questions of life is only possible
through studying the facts of nature, and especially those of organisms.

The credulous crowd of youth, overwhelmed by the novelty of this
authority,--not only not destroyed, not yet even touched by
critics,--rush to the study of these facts of natural sciences, to that
"only way" which, according to the assertion of the ruling doctrine,
alone can lead to the elucidation of all questions of life. But the
farther the students proceed in this study, the farther do they remove
not only the possibility of solving the questions of life, but even the
very thought of this solution. The more they grow accustomed, not so
much to observe themselves, as to believe other men's observations on
their word (to believe in cells, in protoplasm, in the fourth dimension
of matter, and so on), the more the form hides from them the contents.
The more they lose the consciousness of good and evil and the capacity
of understanding those expressions and definitions of good and evil
which have been worked out in all the former career of mankind, the more
they appropriate to themselves that special scientific slang of
"conditional" expressions which have no common human meaning in them.
The farther and farther they get into the thick forest of observations
lighted by anything, the more they lose the capacity, not only of
independent thought, but even of understanding other men's fresh human
ideas which are not included in their Talmud. But chiefly they pass
their best years in losing the habit of life, that is, of labour, and
accustom themselves to consider their own position justified, and thus
become, physically, good-for-nothing parasites, and, mentally, dislocate
their brains and lose all power of thought-production.

So, their capacities more and more blunted, they acquire by degrees
self-assurance which deprives them forever of the possibility of
returning to a simple, laborious life, and to any plain, clear, common,
human manner of thinking.


The division of labour has always existed in human society, and I
daresay always will exist; but the question for us is, not if it has
been and will still continue, but, what should guide us in providing
that this division may be a right one.

If we take the facts of observation for our standard, we refuse to have
any standard at all: for every division of labour which we see among
men, and which may seem to us to be right, we shall consider right; and
this is what the ruling Scientific Science is leading us to.

Division of labour!

"Some are occupied with mental and spiritual, others with muscular and
physical, labour."

With what an assurance men express this! They wish to think it, and so
that which is transparently the ancient violence, seems to them in
reality a fair exchange of services.

"Thou," or rather, "you" (because it is always the many who have to feed
the one),--"you feed me, dress me, do for me all this rough labour which
I require of you, and to which you are accustomed from your infancy, and
I will do for you that mental work to which I have already become
accustomed. Give me bodily food, and in return I will give you the

The statement seems fair; and it would really be so if such exchange of
services were free; if those who supply the bodily food were not obliged
to supply it before they get the spiritual. The producer of the
spiritual food says, "In order that I may be able to give you this food,
you must feed me, clothe me, and remove all filth from my house."

But the producer of bodily food must do his work without making any
claims of his own, and he has to give the bodily food whether he receive
spiritual food or not. If the exchange were a free one the conditions on
both sides would be equal. We agree that spiritual food is as necessary
to man as bodily. But the learned man, the artist, says, "Before we can
begin to serve men by giving them spiritual food, we want men to provide
us with bodily food."

But why should not the producers of this say, "Before we begin to serve
you with bodily food, we want spiritual food; and until we receive it,
we cannot labour?"

You say, "I require the labour of a ploughman, a smith, a book-maker, a
carpenter, masons, and others, in order that I may prepare the spiritual
food I have to offer."

Every workman might say, too, "Before I go to work to prepare bodily
food for you, I want the fruits of the spirit. In order to have strength
for labouring, I require a religious teaching, the social order of
common life, application of knowledge to labour, and the joys and
comforts which art gives. I have no time to work out for myself a
teaching concerning the meaning of life,--give it to me. I have no time
to think out statutes of common life which would prevent the violation
of justice,--give me this too. I have no time to study mechanics,
natural philosophy, chemistry, technology; give me books with
information as to how I am to improve my tools, my ways of working, my
dwelling, its heating and lighting. I have no time to occupy myself with
poetry, with plastic art, or music. Give me the excitements and comforts
necessary for life; give me the productions of the arts."

You say it would be impossible for you to do your important and
necessary business if you were deprived of the labour that
working-people do for you; and I say, a workman may declare, "It is
impossible for me to do my important and necessary business, not less
important than yours,--to plough, to cart away refuse, and to clean
_your_ houses,--if I am deprived of a religious guidance corresponding
to the wants of my intellect and my conscience, of a reasonable
government which will secure my labour, of information for easing my
labour, and the enjoyment of art to ennoble it. All you have hitherto
offered me in the shape of spiritual food is not only of no use to me
whatever, I cannot even understand to whom it could be of any use. And
until I receive this nourishment, proper for me as for every man, I
cannot produce bodily food to feed you with."

What if the working-people should speak thus? And if they did, it would
be no jest but the simplest justice. If a workman said this, he would be
far more in the right than a man of intellectual labour; because the
labour produced by the workman is more urgent and more necessary than
that of the intellectual worker, and because a man of intellect is
hindered by nothing from giving that spiritual food which he promised to
give, while the workingman is hindered in giving the bodily food by the
fact that he himself is short of it.

What, then, should we intellectual labourers answer, if such simple and
lawful claims were made upon us? How should we satisfy these claims?
Should we satisfy the religious wants of the people by the catechism of
Philaret, by sacred histories of Sokolof, by the literature sent out by
monasteries and cathedrals? Should we satisfy their demand for order by
the "Code of Laws," and cassation verdicts of different departments, or
by reports of committees and commissions? And should we satisfy their
want of knowledge by giving them spectrum analysis, a survey of the
Milky Way, speculative geometry, microscopic investigations,
controversies concerning spiritualism and mediumism, the activity of
academies of science? How should we satisfy their artistic wants? By
Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Turgenief, L. Tolstoy? By pictures of French
_salons_, and of those of our artists who represent naked women, satin,
velvet, and landscapes, and pictures of domestic life; by the music of
Wagner, and that of our own musicians?

All this is of no use and cannot be of use because we, with our right to
utilize the labour of the people and absence of all duties in
preparation of their spiritual food, have quite lost from sight the
single destination our activity should have.

We do not even know what is required by the workman; we have even
forgotten his mode of life, his views of things, his language; we have
even lost sight of the very working-people themselves, and we study them
like some ethnographical rarity or newly-discovered continent. Demanding
for ourselves bodily food, we have taken upon ourselves to provide the
spiritual; but in consequence of the imaginary division of labour,
according to which we may not only first take our dinner and afterwards
do our work, but may during many generations dine luxuriously and do no
work,--we, in the way of compensation for our food, have prepared
something which is of use, as it seems to us, for ourselves and for
science and art, but of no use whatever for those very people whose
labour we consume under the pretext of providing them in return with
intellectual food; not only is of no use, but is quite unintelligible
and distasteful to them.

In our blindness, we have to such a degree left out of sight the duty we
took upon us, that we have even forgotten for what our labour is being
done; and the very people whom we undertook to serve we have made an
object of our scientific and artistic activities. We study them and
represent them for our own pleasure and amusement: but we have quite
forgotten that it is our duty, not to study and depict, but to serve

We have to such a degree left out of sight the duty we assumed that we
have not even noticed that other people do what we undertook in the
departments of science and art, and that our place turns out to be

It appears that while we have been in controversy,--now about the
immaculate conception, and now about spontaneous generation; now about
spiritualism, and now about the forms of atoms; now about pangenesis,
now about protoplasms, and so on,--all this while the people none the
less required spiritual food, and the abortive outcasts of science and
art began to provide for the people this spiritual food to the order of
various speculators, who had in view exclusively their own profit and

Now, for some forty years in Europe, and ten years in Russia, millions
of books and pictures and songs have been circulating; shows have been
opened: and the people gaze and sing, and receive intellectual food,
though not from those who promised to provide it for them; and we, who
justify our idleness by the need for that intellectual food which we
pretend to provide for the people, are sitting still, and taking no

But we cannot do so, because our final justification has vanished from
under our feet. We have taken upon ourselves a peculiar department: we
have a peculiar functional activity of our own. We are the brain of the
people. They feed us, and we have undertaken to teach them. Only for the
sake of this have we freed ourselves from labour. What, then, have we
been teaching them? They have waited years, tens of years, hundreds of
years. And we are still conversing among ourselves, and teaching each
other, and amusing ourselves, and have quite forgotten them; we have so
totally forgotten them, that others have taken upon themselves to teach
and amuse them, and we have not even become aware of this in our
flippant talk about division of labour: and it is very obvious that all
our talk about the utility we offer to the people was only a shameful


There was a time when the _Church_ guided the intellectual life of the
men of our world. The Church promised men happiness, and, in
compensation for this she freed herself from taking part in mankind's
common struggle for life.

As soon as she did this she went away from her calling, and men turned
from her. It was not the _errors_ of the Church which originally caused
her ruin, but the fact that by the help of the secular power, in the
time of Constantine, her ministers violated the law of labour; and then
their claim to idleness and luxury gave birth to the errors.

As soon as she obtained this power she began to care for herself, and
not for humanity, whom she had taken upon herself to serve. The
ministers of the Church gave themselves up to idleness and depravity.

_The State_ took upon itself to guide men's lives. The State promised
men justice, peace, security, order, satisfaction of common intellectual
and material wants; and, in compensation, men who served the State freed
themselves from taking part in the struggle for life. And the State's
servants, as soon as they were able to utilize other men's labour, acted
in the same way as the ministers of the Church.

They had not in view the people; but, from kings down to the lowest
state functionaries, in Rome, as well as in France, England, Russia, and
America, they gave themselves over to idleness and depravity. Now men
have lost their faith in the state, and anarchy is now seriously
advocated as an ideal. The state has lost its prestige among men, only
because its ministers have claimed the right of utilizing the people's
labour for themselves.

_Science and art_ have done the same, assisted by the state power which
they took upon themselves to sustain. They also have claimed and
obtained for themselves the right of idleness and of utilizing other
men's labour, and also have been false to their calling. And their
errors, too, proceeded only from the fact that their ministers, pointing
to a falsely conceived principle of the division of labour, claimed for
themselves the right to utilize the work of the people, and so lost the
meaning of their calling, making the aim of their activity, not the
utility of the people, but some mysterious activity of science and art;
and also, like their forerunners, they have given themselves over to
idleness and depravity, though not so much to a fleshly as to an
intellectual corruption.

It is said that science and art have done much for mankind.

That is quite true.

Church and State have given much to humanity, not because they abused
their power, or because their ministers forsook the common life of men,
and the eternal duty of labour for life--but in spite of this.

The Roman Republic was powerful, not because its citizens were able to
lead a life of depravity, but because it could number among them men who
were virtuous.

This is the case with science and art.

Science and art have effected much for mankind, not because their
ministers had sometimes formerly, and have always at present, the
possibility of freeing themselves from labour, but because men of
genius, not utilizing these rights, have forwarded the progress of

The class of learned men and artists who claim, on account of a false
division of labour, the right of utilizing other men's labour, cannot
contribute to the progress of true science and true art, because a lie
can never produce a truth.

We are so accustomed to our pampered or debilitated representatives of
intellectual labour, that it would seem very strange if a learned man or
an artist were to plough, or cart manure. We think that, were he to do
so, all would go to ruin; that all his wisdom would be shaken out of
him, and that the great artistic images he carries in his breast would
be soiled by the manure: but we are so accustomed to our present
conditions that we do not wonder at our ministers of science, that is,
ministers and teachers of truth, compelling other people to do for them
that which they could very well do themselves, passing half their time
eating, smoking, chattering in "liberal" gossip, reading newspapers,
novels, visiting theatres; we are not surprised to see our philosopher
in an inn, in a theatre, at a ball; we do not wonder when we learn that
those artists who delight and ennoble our souls, pass their lives in
drunkenness, in playing cards, in company with loose women, or do things
still worse.

Science and art are fine things: but just because they are fine things
men ought not to spoil them by associating them with depravity;--by
freeing themselves from man's duty to serve by labour his own life and
the lives of other men.

Science and art have forwarded the progress of mankind. Yes; but not
because men of science and art, under the pretext of a division of
labour, taught men by word, and chiefly by deed, to utilize by violence
the misery and sufferings of the people in order to free themselves from
the very first and unquestionable human duty of labouring with their
hands in the common struggle of mankind with nature.


"But," you say, "it is this very division of labour, the freeing men of
science and of art from the necessity of earning their bread, that has
rendered possible the extraordinary success in science which we see

"If everybody were to plough, these enormous results would not be
attained; you would not have those astonishing successes which have so
enlarged man's power over nature; you would not have those discoveries
in astronomy which so strike the minds of men and promote navigation;
there would be no steamers, railways, wonderful bridges, tunnels,
steam-engines, telegraphs, photographs, telephones, sewing-machines,
phonographs, electricity, telescopes, spectroscopes, microscopes,
chloroform, Lister bandages, carbolic acid."

I will not attempt to enumerate all the things of which our century is
proud. This enumeration, and the ecstasy of the contemplation of
ourselves and of our great deeds you can find in almost every newspaper
and popular book. And these raptures are so often repeated, and we are
so seldom tired of praising ourselves, that we really have come to
believe, with Jules Verne, that science and art never made such progress
as in our time. And as all this is rendered possible only by division of
labour, how can we avoid countenancing it?

Let us suppose that the progress of our century is really striking,
astonishing, extraordinary; let us suppose, too, that we are
particularly lucky in living at such an extraordinary time: but let us
try to ascertain the value of these successes, not by our own
self-contentment, but by the very principle of the division of labour;
that is, by the intellectual labour of scientists for the advantage of
the people which has to compensate for the freedom of its servants from
manual toil.

This progress is very striking indeed; but owing to some bad luck,
recognized, too, by the men of science, this progress has not yet
ameliorated, but has rather deteriorated, the condition of working men.

Though a working man, instead of walking, can use the railway, it is
this very railway which has caused his forest to be burned and has
carried away his bread from under his very nose, and put him into a
condition which is next door to slavery to the railway proprietor.

If, thanks to steam-engines and machines, a workman can buy cheap and
bad calico, it is these very engines and machines which have deprived
him of his livelihood and brought him to a state of entire slavery to
the manufacturer.

If there are telegraphs, which he is not forbidden to use but which he
does not use because he cannot afford it, still each of his productions,
the value of which rises, is bought up at low prices before his very
eyes by capitalists, thanks to that telegraph, before he has even become
aware that the article is in demand.

If there are telephones and telescopes, novels, operas,
picture-galleries, and so on, the life of the workman is not at all
improved by any of them, because all, owing to the same unlucky chance,
are beyond his reach.

So that, after all, these wonderful discoveries and productions of art,
if they have not made the life of working-people worse, have by no means
improved it: and on this the men of science are agreed.

So that, if we apply, not our self-contemplating rapture, but the very
standard on which the ground of the division of labour is
defended,--utility to the working-world,--to the question as to the
reality of the successes attained by the sciences and arts, we shall see
that we have not yet any sound reason for the self-contentment to which
we consign ourselves so willingly.

A peasant uses the railway; a peasant's wife buys calico; in the cottage
a lamp, and not a pine-knot, burns; and the peasant lights his pipe with
a match,--all this is comfortable; but what right have I from this to
say that railways and factories have done good to the people?

If a peasant uses the railway, and buys a lamp, calico, and matches, he
does it only because we cannot forbid his doing so: but we all know very
well that railways and factories were not built for the use of the
people; and why, then, should the casual comfort a workman obtains by
chance be brought forward as a proof of the usefulness of these
institutions to the people?

We all know very well that if the engineers and capitalists who build a
railway or a factory thought about the working-people, they thought only
how to make the most possible use of them. And we see they have fully
succeeded in doing so in Europe and America, as well as in Russia.

In every hurtful thing there is something useful. After a house has been
burned down we can sit and warm ourselves, and light our pipes from one
of the fire-brands; but should we therefore say that a conflagration is

Whatever we do, do not let us deceive ourselves. We all know very well
the motives for building railways and factories, and for producing
kerosene and matches. An engineer builds a railway for the government,
to facilitate wars, or for the capitalists for their financial purposes.
He makes machines for manufacturers for his own advantage and for the
profit of capitalists. All that he makes or plans he does for the
purpose of the government, the capitalists, and other rich people. His
most skilful inventions are either directly harmful to the people, such
as guns, torpedoes, solitary prisons, and so on; or they are not only
useless but quite inaccessible to them, such as electric light,
telephones, and the innumerable improvements of comfort; or lastly, they
deprave the people and rob them of their last kopek, that is, their last
labour, for spirits, wine, beer, opium, tobacco, finery, and all sorts
of trifles.

But if it happens sometimes that the inventions of men of science and
the works of engineers, are of use to the people, as, for instance,
railways, calicoes, steel, scythes, it only proves that in this world of
ours everything is mutually connected, and that out of every hurtful
activity there may arise an accidental good for those to whom the
activity was hurtful.

Men of science and of art could say that their activity was useful for
the people, only if in their activity they have aimed at serving the
people, as they now aim to serve the government and capitalists.

We could have said that, only if the men of science and art made the
wants of the people their object; but such is not the case.

All learned men are occupied with their sacred businesses, which lead to
the investigation of protoplasms, the spectrum analysis of stars, and so
on: but concerning investigations as to how to set an axe, or with what
kind it is more advantageous to hew; which saw is the most handy; with
what flour bread shall be made, how it may best be kneaded, how to set
it to rise; how to heat and to build stoves; what food, drink or
crockery-ware it is best to use; what mushrooms may be eaten, and how
they may be prepared more conveniently,--science never troubles itself,
or does so very slightly.

Yet all this is the business of science.

I know that, according to its own definition, science must be useless;
but this is only an excuse, and a very impudent one.

The business of science is to serve people. We have invented telegraphs,
telephones, phonographs, but what improvements have we made in the life
of the people? We have catalogued two millions of insects! but have we
domesticated a single animal since biblical times, when all our animals
had long been domesticated, and still the elk and the deer, and the
partridge and the grouse and the wood-hen, are wild?

Botanists have discovered the cells, and in the cells protoplasms and in
protoplasms something else, and in this something else again.

These occupations will go on for a long time and evidently never end,
and therefore learned men have no time to do anything useful. Hence from
the times of the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews, when wheat and lentils
were already cultivated, down to the present time, not a single plant
has been added for the nourishment of the people except potatoes, and
these were not discovered by science. We have invented torpedoes and
house-drains; but the spinning-wheel, weaving-looms, ploughs and
axe-handles, flails and rakes, buckets and well-sweeps, are still the
same as in the time of Rurik. If some things have been improved, it is
not the learned who have improved them, but the unlearned.

The same is the case with art. Many people are acclaimed as great
writers. We have carefully analyzed their works, have written mountains
of critiques and criticisms upon criticisms, and still more criticisms
on criticisms; we have collected pictures in galleries, and thoroughly
studied in detail different schools of art; and we possess symphonies
and operas that it is with great difficulty we ourselves can listen to;
but what have we added to the folk-lore, legends, tales, songs for the
people? what pictures, what music, have we created for the people?

Books and pictures are published, and harmoniums are made for the
people, but we did not participate in either.

What is most striking and obvious is the false tendency of our science
and art, which manifests itself in those departments which, according to
their own propositions, would seem to be useful to people, but which,
owing to this tendency, appear rather pernicious than useful. An
engineer, a surgeon, a teacher, an artist, an author, seem by their very
professions to be obliged to serve the people, but what do we see? With
the present tendency, they can bring to the people nothing but harm. An
engineer and a mechanic must work with capital: without capital they are
good for nothing.

All their training is of such a nature that, in order to make use of it,
they need capital and the employment of work-people on a large scale, to
say nothing of the fact that they themselves are accustomed to spend
from fifteen hundred to a thousand rubles a year on themselves, and
therefore cannot go to live in a village, since no one there can give
them any such remuneration: from their very occupations they are not fit
for the service of the people.

They understand how to calculate the arch of a bridge by means of the
higher mathematics, how to calculate power and the transfer of power in
an engine, and so on: but they are at a loss to meet the plain
requirements of common labour; they do not know how to improve the
plough or the cart; or how to make a brook passable, taking into
consideration the conditions of a workman's life.

They know and understand nothing of all this, less even than the poorest
peasant does. Give them workshops, and plenty of people, order engines
from abroad, and then they will arrange these matters. But to find out
how to ease the labour of the millions of the people in their present
conditions, they do not know, and cannot do it; and therefore, by their
knowledge and habits and wants, they are not at all fit for this

A surgeon is in a still worse condition. His imaginary science is of
such a nature that he understands how to cure those only who have
nothing to do and who can utilize other men's labour. He requires a
countless number of expensive accessories, instruments, medicines,
sanitary dwellings, food, and drains, in order that he may act
scientifically: besides his fee he demands such expenses that, in order
to cure one patient, he must kill with starvation hundreds of those who
bear this expense.

He has studied under eminent persons in the capital cities, who attended
only to those patients whom they may take into hospitals, or who can
afford to buy all the necessary medicines and machines, and even go at
once from north to south, to these or those mineral waters, as the case
may be.

Their science is of such a kind that every country surgeon complains
that there is no possibility of attending to the work-people who are so
poor that they cannot afford sanitary accommodations, and that there are
no hospitals, and that he cannot attend to the business alone, that he
requires help and assistant-surgeons.

What does this really mean?

It means this,--that the want of the necessaries of life is the chief
cause of people's misfortunes, and the source of diseases as well as of
their spreading and incurability. Now science, under the banner of "the
division of labour," calls its champions to help the people. Science has
settled satisfactorily about the rich classes, and seeks how to cure
those who can get everything necessary for the purpose; and it sends
persons to cure in the same way those who have nothing to spare. But
there are no means; and therefore they must be raised from the people,
who become ill and catch diseases, and cannot be cured for want of

The advocates of the healing art for the people say, that, up to the
present time, this business has not been sufficiently developed.

Evidently it is not yet developed, because if (which God forbid!) it
were developed among our people, and, instead of two doctors and
mid-wives and two assistant-surgeons in the district, there should be
twenty sent, as they want, then there would soon be no one left to
attend to. The scientific co-operation for the benefit of the people
must be of quite a different kind. And this, which ought to exist, has
not yet begun.

It will begin when a man of science, an engineer, or a surgeon, ceases
to consider lawful that division of labour, or rather that taking away
other men's labour, which now exists, and when he no longer considers
that he has the right to take,--I do not say hundreds of thousands,--but
even a moderate sum of one thousand or five hundred rubles as
compensation for his services; but when such a man comes to live among
labouring-people in the same condition and in the same way as they, and
applies his information in mechanics, technics or hygiene, to cure them.

But at present, scientific men, who are fed at the expense of the
workman, have quite forgotten the conditions of the life of these men:
they ignore (as they say) these conditions, and are quite seriously
offended that their imaginary knowledge does not find application among
the people.

The departments of the healing art as well as of the mechanical have not
yet been touched: the questions how best to divide the period of labour,
how and upon what it is best to feed, how best to dress, how to
counteract dampness and cold, how best to wash, to suckle, and swaddle
children, and so on, and all these applied to the conditions in which
the workers now exist,--all these questions have not yet been faced.

The same applies to the activity of scientific teachers,--the
pedagogues. Science has arranged this business, too, in such a way, that
teaching according to science is possible only for those who are rich;
and the teachers, like the engineers and surgeons, are involuntarily
drawn towards money, and among us in Russia especially towards the

And this cannot be otherwise, because a school properly arranged (and
the general rule is that the more scientifically a school is arranged
the more expensive it is), with convertible benches, globes, maps,
libraries, and manuals for teachers and pupils, is just such a school to
maintain which it is necessary to double the taxes of the people. So
science wants to have it. The children are necessary for work, and the
more so with the poorer people. The advocates of science say, "Pedagogy
is even now of use for the people; but let it develop, then it will be
still better." But if it will develop till instead of 20 schools in a
district there will be 100--all of them scientific,--and the parents
forced to keep up these schools? Then they will be still poorer, and
will want the labour of their children still more urgently.

What is to be done then?

To this they will reply, "The government will establish schools, and
will make education obligatory as it is in the rest of Europe." But the
money will still have to be raised from the people, and labour will be
still harder for them, and they will have less time to spare from their
labour, and there will then be no obligatory education at all.

There is, again, only one escape,--for a teacher to live in the
conditions of a workman, and to teach for that compensation which will
be freely offered him.

Such is the false tendency of science which deprives it of the
possibility to fulfil its duty in serving the people. But this false
tendency of our educated class is still more obvious in art-activity,
which, for the sake of its very meaning ought to be accessible to the

Science may point to its stupid excuse that "science is acting for
science," and that, when fully developed it will become accessible to
the people; but art, if it is art indeed, ought to be accessible to all,
especially to those for whose sake it is created. But our art strikingly
denounces its factors in that they do not wish, and do not understand,
and are not able to be of use to the people. A painter, in order to
produce his great works, must have a large studio, in which at least
forty joiners or boot-makers might work, who are now freezing or
suffocating in wretched lodgings. But this is not all: he requires
models, costumes, journeys from place to place. The Academy of Art has
spent millions of rubles, collected from the people, for the
encouragement of art; and the productions of this art are hung in
palaces, and are neither intelligible to the people nor wanted by them.

Musicians, in order to express their great ideas, must gather about two
hundred men with white neckties or in special costumes, and spend
hundreds of thousands of rubles arranging operas. But this
art-production would never appear to the people (even if they could
afford to use it) as anything but perplexing or dull.

The authors, writers, would seem not to need any particular
accommodations, studios, models, orchestras, or actors; but here also it
turns out that an author, a writer, in order to prepare his great works,
wants travelling, palaces, cabinets, enjoyments of art, theatres,
concerts, mineral waters, and so on; to say nothing of all the comforts
of his dwelling and all the comforts of his life. If he himself has not
saved up enough money for this purpose he is given a pension in order
that he may compose better. And, again, these writings, which we value
so highly, remain for the people, rubbish, and are not at all necessary
to them.

What if, according to the wish of men of science and art, such producers
of mental food should so multiply, that, in every village it would be
necessary to build a studio, provide an orchestra, and keep an author in
the conditions which men of art consider indispensable to them? I dare
say working-people would make a vow never to look at a picture, or
listen to a symphony, or read poetry and novels, in order only not to be
compelled to feed all these good-for-nothing parasites.

And why should not men of art serve the people? In every cottage there
are holy images and pictures; each peasant, each woman of the people,
sings; many have instruments of music; and all can relate stories,
repeat poetry; and many of them read. How came it to pass that these two
things, which were as much made for one another as a key for a lock,
were separated, and why are they so separated that we cannot imagine how
to re-unite them?

Tell a painter to paint without a studio, models, costumes, and to draw
penny pictures, and he will say that this would be a denial of art as he
understands it. Tell a musician to play on a harmonium and to teach
country-women to sing songs; tell a poet to throw aside writing poems
and novels and satires, and to compose song-books for the people, and
stories and tales which might be intelligible to illiterate
persons,--they will say you are cracked.

But is it not being worse than cracked when the men who have freed
themselves from labour because they promised to provide mental food for
those who have brought them up, and are feeding and clothing them, have
afterwards so forgotten their promise that they have ceased to
understand how to make food fit for the people? Yet this very forsaking
of their promises they consider dignifies them.

Such is the case everywhere, they say. Then everywhere the case is very
unreasonable. And it will be so while men, under the pretext of division
of labour, promise to provide mental food for the people, but only
swallow up the labour of the people. Men will serve the people with
science and art only when living among them and in the same way as the
people do, putting forth no claims whatever, they offer to the people
their scientific and artistic services, leaving it to the free will of
the people to accept or refuse them.


To say that the activities of the arts and sciences have co-operated in
forwarding the progress of mankind, and by these activities to mean that
which is now called by this name, is as to say that an awkward moving of
the oars, hindering the progress of a boat going down the stream, is
forwarding the progress of the boat; while it only hinders it. The
so-called division of labour--that is, the violation of other men's
labour which has become in our time a condition of the activity of men
of art and science--has been, and still remains, the chief cause of the
slowness of the progress of mankind.

The proof of it we have in the acknowledgement that the acquisitions of
art and science are not accessible to the working-classes because of a
wrong distribution of wealth. And the incorrectness of this distribution
does not diminish in proportion to the progress of art and science, but
rather increases. Nor is it astonishing that such is the case; because
the incorrect distribution of wealth proceeds solely from the theory of
the division of labour, preached by men of art and science for selfish

Science, defending the division of labour as an unchangeable law, sees
that the distribution of wealth based upon this division is incorrect
and pernicious, and asserts that its activity, which recognizes the
division of labour, will set all right again, and lead men to happiness.

It appears, then, that some men utilize the labour of others; but if
they will only continue to do this for a long time, and on a still
larger scale, then this incorrect distribution of wealth, that is,
utilizing of other men's labour, will vanish.

Men are standing by an ever-increasing spring of water, and are busy
turning it aside from thirsty men, and then they assert that it is they
who produce this water, and that soon there will be so much of it that
everybody will have enough and to spare. And this water, which has been
running unceasingly, and nourishing all mankind, is not only not the
result of the activity of those who, standing at its source, turn it
aside, but it runs and spreads itself in spite of the endeavours to stop
it from doing so.

There has always existed a true church,--in other words, men united by
the highest truth accessible to them at a certain epoch,--but it has
never been that church which gave herself out for such; and there have
always been real art and science, but they were not those which call
themselves now by these names.

Men who consider themselves to be the representatives of art and science
in a given period of time, always imagine that they have been doing, are
doing, and the important fact is that they are on the point of making
wonderful things, and that beyond them there has never been any art or
science. Thus it seemed to the sophists, to the scholiasts, alchemists,
cabalists, Talmudists, and to our own scientific science and to our
artistic art.


"But science! art! You repudiate science, art; that is, you repudiate
that by which mankind live."

I am always hearing this: people choose this way to put aside my
arguments altogether without analyzing them. "He repudiates science and
art; he wishes to turn men back again to the savage state; why, then,
should we listen to him, or argue with him?"

But this is unjust. Not only do I not repudiate science--human
reasonable activity--and art,--the expression of this reasonable
activity,--but it is actually in the name of this reasonable activity
and its expression that I speak what I do, in order that mankind may
avoid the savage state towards which they are rapidly moving, owing to
the false teaching of our time.

Science and art are as necessary to men as food, drink, and
clothes,--even still more necessary than these; but they become such,
not because we decide that what we call science and art are necessary,
but because they are truly necessary to men. Now, if I should prepare
hay for the bodily food of men, my idea that hay is food would not make
it to be so. I cannot say, Why do you not eat hay when it is your
necessary food? Food is, indeed, necessary, but perhaps what I offer is
not food at all.

This very thing has happened with our science and art. And to us it
seems that when we add to a Greek word the termination _logy_, and call
this science, it will be science indeed; and if we call an indecency,
like the painting of naked women, by the Greek word "choreography," and
term it art, it will be art indeed.

But however much we may say this, the business which we are about, in
counting up the insects, and chemically analyzing the contents of the
Milky Way, in painting water-nymphs and historical pictures, in writing
novels, and in composing symphonies, this, our business, will not become
science or art until it is willingly accepted by those for whom it is
being done.

Till now it has not been accepted. If some men only were allowed to
prepare food, and all others were either forbidden to do it, or be
rendered incapable of producing it, I daresay that the quality of the
food would deteriorate. If the men who had the exclusive privilege of
producing food were Russian peasants, then there would be no other food
than black bread, kvas, potatoes, and onions, which they are fond of,
and which is agreeable to them. The same would be the case with that
highest human activity in art and science if their exclusive privilege
were appropriated by one caste, with this difference only, that in
bodily food there cannot be too great digressions from the
natural;--bread as well as onions, though unsavoury food, is still
eatable:--but in mental food there may be great digressions; and some
men may for a very long time feed upon an unnecessary, or even hurtful
and poisonous, mental food; they themselves may slowly kill themselves
with opium or with spirits, and this sort of food they may offer to the
masses of the people.

This very thing has happened to us. And it has happened because men of
art and science are in privileged conditions; because art and science in
our world are not that mental activity of all mankind, without any
exception, who separate their best powers for the service of art and
science: but it is the activity of a small company of men having the
monopoly of these occupations, and calling themselves scientists and
artists; and therefore they have perverted the very conceptions of art
and science, and lost the sense of their own calling, and are merely
occupied in amusing a small company of parasites and saving them from
burdensome dulness.

Since men have existed, they have always had science in the plainest and
largest sense of the word. Science, as the sum of all human information,
has always been in existence; and without it life is not conceivable,
and there is no necessity whatever either to attack or to defend it.

But the fact is this, that the reason of this knowledge is so various,
so much information of all kinds enters into it, from information how to
obtain iron up to the knowledge about movements of the celestial bodies,
that man would be lost among all this varied information if he had no
clew to help him to decide which of all these kinds of information is
more important, and which less.

Therefore, the highest wisdom of men has always consisted in finding out
the clew whereby to arrange the information of men, and to decide what
kinds of information are more, and what are less, important. This which
has directed all other knowledge, men have always called science in the
strictest sense of the word. Such science has always been, up to the
present time, in human societies which have left the savage state behind
them. Since mankind has existed teachers have appeared in every nation
to form science in this strict sense,--the science about what it is most
necessary for men to know. The object of this science has always been
the inquiry as to what was the destiny, and therefore the true welfare,
of each man and of all men. This science has served as a clew to
determine the importance and the expression of all other sciences. Such
information and art as co-operated with the science of man's destiny and
welfare were considered highest in public opinion.

Such was the science of Confucius, Buddha, Moses, Socrates, Christ,
Mohammed,--science such as it has been understood by all men save our
own circle of so-called educated people.

Such a science has not only always occupied the first place, but it is
the one science which has determined the importance of other sciences.
And this, not at all because so-called learned men of our time imagine
that it is only deceitful priests and teachers of this science who have
given it such an importance, but because, as, indeed, everyone can learn
by his own inward experience, without the science of man's destiny and
welfare, there cannot be any determining of other values, or any choice
of art and science for man. And, therefore, there cannot be any study of
science, for there are _innumerable_ quantities of subjects to which
science may be applied. I italicize the word innumerable, as I use it in
its exact value.

Without knowledge as to what constitutes the calling and welfare of all
men, all other arts and sciences become, as is really the case with us
at present, only an idle and pernicious amusement. Mankind have been
living long, and they have never been living without a science relative
to the calling and welfare of men: it is true that the science of the
welfare of men to a superficial observation appears to be different with
Buddists, Brahmins, Hebrews, Christians, with the followers of Confucius
and those of Laotse, though one need only reflect on these teachings in
order to see their essential unity; where men have left the savage state
behind them, we find this science; and now of a sudden it turns out that
modern men have decided that this very science which has been till now
the guide of all human information, is the obstacle in the way of

Men build houses; one architect makes one estimate, another makes a
second, and so on. The estimates are a little different, but they are
separately correct; and every one sees that, if each estimate is
fulfilled, the house will be erected. Such architects are Confucius,
Buddha, Moses, Christ. And now certain men come and assure us that the
chief thing to come by is the absence of any estimate, and that men
ought to build anyhow according to eyesight. And this "anyhow" these men
call the most exact science, as the Pope terms himself the "most holy."

Men deny every science, the most essential science of men's calling and
welfare; and this denial of science they call science. Since men have
existed, great intellects have always appeared, which, in the struggle
with the demands of their reason and conscience, have put to themselves
questions concerning the calling and welfare, not only of themselves
individually, but of every man. What does that Power, which created me,
require from me and from each man? And what am I to do in order to
satisfy the craving ingrafted in me for a personal and a common welfare?

They have asked themselves, I am a whole and a part of something
unfathomable, infinite: what are to be my relations to other parts
similar to me,--to men and to the whole?

And from the voice of conscience and from reason, and from consideration
on what men have said who lived before, and from contemporaries who have
asked themselves the same questions, these great teachers have deduced
teachings,--plain, clear, intelligible to all men, and always such as
can be put into practice.

Such men were of the first, second, third, and all magnitudes. The world
is full of such men. All living men put to themselves the question, How
am I to reconcile my own demands for personal life with conscience and
reason, which demand the common good of all men? And out of this common
travail new forms of life are evolved slowly, but unceasingly,
satisfying more and more the demands of reason and conscience.

And of a sudden a new caste of men appears, who say, All these are
nonsense, and are to be left behind. This is the deductive way of
thinking (though wherein lies the difference between the inductive and
the deductive way of thinking, nobody ever has been able to understand),
and this is also the method of the theological and metaphysical periods.

All that men have understood by inward experience, and have related to
each other concerning the consciousness of the law of their own life
(functional activity, in their cant phrase); all that from the beginning
of the world has been done in this direction by the greatest intellects
of mankind,--all these are trifles, having no weight whatever.

According to this new teaching, you are the cell of an organism, and the
problem of your reasonable activity consists in trying to ascertain your
functional activity. In order to ascertain this, you must make
observations outside yourself.

The fact that you are a cell which thinks, suffers, speaks, and
understands, and that for that very reason you can inquire of another
similar speaking, suffering cell whether he or she suffers and rejoices
in the same way as yourself, and that thus you may verify your own
experience; and the fact that you may make use of what the speaking
cells, who lived and suffered before you wrote on the subject; and your
knowledge that millions of cells agreeing with what the past cells have
written, confirm your own experience, that you yourself are a living
cell, who always, by a direct inward experience, apprehend the
correctness or incorrectness of your own functional activity,--all this
means nothing, we are told: it is all a false and evil method.

The true scientific method is this: If you wish to learn in what your
functional activity consists, what is your destiny and welfare, and what
the destiny of mankind, and of the whole world, then first you must
cease to listen to the voice and demands of your conscience and of your
reason, which manifest themselves inwardly to you and to your
fellow-men; you must leave off believing all that the great teachers of
humanity have said about their own conscience and reason, and you must
consider all this to be nonsense, and begin at the beginning.

And in order to begin from the beginning, you have to observe through a
microscope the movements of amoebæ and the cells of tape-worms; or,
still easier, you must believe everything that people with the diploma
of infallibility may tell you about them. And observing the movements of
these amoebæ and cells, or reading what others have seen, you must
ascribe to these cells your own human feelings and calculations as to
what they desire, what are their tendencies, their reflections and
calculations, their habits; and from these _observations_ (in which each
word contains some mistake of thought or of expression), according to
analogy, you must deduce what is your own destiny, and what that of
other cells similar to you.

In order to be able to understand yourself, you must study not merely
the tape-worm which you see, but also microscopic animalcules which you
cannot see, and the transformation from one set of things into another,
which neither you nor anybody else has ever seen, and which you
certainly will never see.

The same holds good with art. Wherever a true science has existed, it
has been expressed by art. Since men have existed they have always
separated out of all their activities, from their varied information,
the chief expression of science, the knowledge of man's destination and
welfare; and art, in the strict sense of the word, has been the
expression of this.

Since men have existed, there have always been persons particularly
sensitive to the teaching of man's welfare and destiny, who have
expressed in word, and upon psaltery and cymbals, their human struggle
with deceit which led them aside from their true destiny, and their
sufferings in this struggle, their hopes about the victory of good,
their despair about the triumph of evil, and their raptures in
expectation of coming welfare.

Since men have existed, the true art, that which has been valued most
highly by men, had no other destiny than to be the expression of science
on man's destiny and welfare.

Always down to the present time art has served the teaching of life
(afterwards called religion), and it has only been this art which men
have valued so highly.

But contemporaneously with the fact that in place of the science of
man's destiny and welfare appears the science of universal
knowledge,--since science lost its own sense and meaning, and true
science has been scornfully called religion,--true art, as an important
activity of men, has disappeared.

As long as the church existed, and taught men's calling and welfare, art
served the church, and was true; but from the moment it left the church,
and began to serve a science which served everything it met, art lost
its meaning, and, notwithstanding its old-fashioned claims, and a stupid
assertion that art serves merely art itself, and nothing else, it has
turned out to be a trade which procures luxuries for men, and
unavoidably mixes itself with choreography, culinary art, hair-dressing,
and cosmetics, the producers of which may call themselves artists with
as much right as the poets, painters, and musicians of our day.

Looking back, we see that during thousands of years, from among
thousands of millions of men who have lived, there came forth a few like
Confucius, Buddha, Solon, Socrates, Solomon, Homer, Isaiah, David. True
artist-producers of spiritual food seem to appear seldom among men,
notwithstanding the fact that they appear, not from one caste only, but
from among all men; and it is not without cause that mankind have always
so highly valued them. And now it turns out that we have no longer any
need of all these former great factors of art and science.

Now, according to the law of the division of labour, it is possible to
manufacture scientific and artistic factors almost mechanically; and in
the space of ten years we shall manufacture more great men of art and
science than have been born among all men from the beginning of the
world. Nowadays there is a trade corporation of learned men and artists,
and by an improved way they prepare all the mental food which is wanted
by mankind. And they have prepared so much of it, that there need no
longer be any remembrance of the old producers, not only of the very
ancient, but also of the more recent,--all their activity, we are told,
was the activity of the theological and metaphysical period: all had to
be destroyed, and the true, mental activity began some fifty years ago.

And in these fifty years we have manufactured so many great men that in
a German university there are more of them than have been in the whole
world, and of sciences we have manufactured a great number too; for one
need only put to a Greek word the termination _logy_, and arrange the
subject according to ready-made paragraphs, and the science is created:
we have thus manufactured so many sciences that not only cannot one man
know them all, but he cannot even remember all their names,--these names
alone would fill a large dictionary; and every day new sciences come
into existence.

In this respect we are like that Finnish teacher who taught the children
of a land-owner the Finnish language instead of the French. He taught
very well; but there was one drawback,--that nobody, except himself,
understood it. We have learned everything very well, but the pity of it
is that nobody but ourselves understands it, and that everybody else
considers it good-for-nothing nonsense.

But to this also there is an explanation: Men do not understand all the
utility of the scientific science because they are still under the
influence of the theological period of knowledge, that stupid period
when all the people of the Hebrew race, as well as the Chinese and
Indians and Greeks, understood everything spoken to them by their great

But whatever may be the cause, the fact is this,--that art and science
have always existed among mankind; and when they really existed, then
they were necessary and intelligible to all men.

We are busy about something which we call art and science, and it turns
out that what we are busy about is neither necessary nor intelligible to
men. So that we have no right to give the name of art or science to our


But it is said to me, "You only give another narrower definition of art
and science, which science does not agree with; but even this does not
exclude them, and notwithstanding all you say, there still remains the
scientific and art activities of men like Galileo, Bruno, Homer, Michael
Angelo, Beethoven, Wagner, and other learned men and artists of lesser
magnitude who have devoted all their lives to art and science."

Usually this is said in the endeavour to establish a link, which in
other cases they disown, to connect the activity of the former learned
men and artists with the modern ones, trying to forget that new
principle of the division of labour by reason of which art and science
now occupy a privileged position.

First of all, it is not possible to establish any such connection
between the former factors and the modern ones, even as the holy life of
the first Christian has nothing in common with the lives of popes: thus,
the activity of men like Galileo, Shakespeare, Beethoven, has nothing in
common with the activities of men like Tyndal, Hugo, and Wagner. As the
Holy Fathers would have denied any connection with the Popes, so the
ancient factors of science would have denied any relationship with the
modern ones.

Secondly, owing to that importance which art and science ascribe to
themselves, they have established a very clear standard by means of
which we are able to determine whether they do, or do not, fulfil their
destiny; and we therefore decide, not without proofs, but according to
their own standard, whether that activity which calls itself art and
science has, or has not, any right thus to call itself.

Though the Egyptians or Greek priests performed mysteries known to none
but themselves, and said that these mysteries included all art and
science, I could not, on the ground of the asserted utility of these to
the people, ascertain the reality of their science, because this said
science, according to their _ipse dixit_, was a supernatural one: but
now we all have a very clear and plain standard, excluding everything
supernatural; art and science promise to fulfil the mental activity of
mankind, for the welfare of society, or even of the whole of mankind.
Therefore we have a right to call only such activity, art and science,
which has this aim in view, and attains it. And therefore, however those
learned men and artists may call themselves, who excogitate the theory
of penal laws, of state laws, and of the laws of nations, who invent new
guns and explosive substances, who compose obscene operas and operettas,
or similarly obscene novels, we have no right to call such activity the
activity of art and science, because this activity has not in view the
welfare of the society or of mankind, but on the contrary is directed to
the harm of men.

In like manner, however these learned men may call themselves, who in
their simplicity are occupied during all their lives with the
investigations of the microscopical animalcule and of telescopical and
spectral phenomena; or those artists who, after having carefully
investigated the monuments of old times, are busy writing historical
novels, making pictures, concocting symphonies and beautiful verses, all
these men, notwithstanding all their zeal, cannot, according to the
definition of their own science, be called men of science or art, first
because their activity in science for the sake of science, and of art
for art, has not in view man's welfare; and secondly, because we do not
see any results of these activities for the welfare of society or

The fact that sometimes something useful or agreeable for some men comes
of their activities, by no means gives us any right, according to their
own scientific definition, to consider them to be men of art and

In like manner, however those men may call themselves who excogitate the
application of electricity to lighting, heating, and motion; or who
invent some new chemical combinations, producing dynamite or fine
colours; men who correctly play Beethoven's symphonies; who act on the
stage, or paint portraits well, domestic pictures, landscapes, and other
pictures; who compose interesting novels, the object of which is merely
to amuse rich people,--the activity of these men cannot be called art
and science, because this activity is not directed, like the activity of
the brain in the organism, to the welfare of the whole, but is guided
merely by personal gain, privileges, money, which one obtains for the
inventing and producing of so-called art. Therefore this activity cannot
possibly be separated from other covetous, personal activity, which adds
agreeable things to life, as the activity of innkeepers, jockeys,
milliners, prostitutes, and so on, because the activity of the first,
the second, and the last, do not come under the definition of art and
science, on the ground of the division of labour, which promises to
serve for the welfare of all mankind.

The scientific definition of art and science is a correct one; but
unluckily, the activity of modern art and science does not come under
it. Some produce directly hurtful things, others useless things; and a
third party invents trifles fit only for the use of rich people. They
may all be very good persons, but they do not fulfil what they have
taken upon themselves to fulfil, according to their own definition; and
therefore they have as little right to call themselves men of art and
science as the modern clergy, who do not fulfil their duties, have right
to consider themselves the bearers and teachers of divine truth.

It is not difficult to understand why the factors of modern art and
science have not fulfilled their calling, and cannot fulfil it. They do
not fulfil it, because they have converted their duty into a right. The
scientific and art activities, in their true sense, are fruitful only
when they ignore their rights, and know only their duties. Mankind value
this activity so highly, only because it is a self-denying one.

If men are really called to serve others by _mental_ labour, they will
have to suffer in performing this labour, because it is only by
suffering that spiritual fruit is produced. Selfdenying and suffering
are the lot and portion of a thinker and an artist, because their object
is the welfare of men. Men are wretched: they suffer and go to ruin. One
cannot wait and lose one's time.

A thinker and an artist will never sit on the heights of Olympus, as we
are apt to imagine: he must suffer in company with men in order to find
salvation or consolation. He will suffer because he is constantly in
anxiety and agitation; he might have found out and told what would give
happiness to men, might have saved them from suffering; and he has
neither found it out nor said it, and to-morrow it may be too late--he
may die. And therefore suffering and self-sacrifice will always be the
lot of the thinker and the artist.

He who is brought up in an establishment where learned men and artists
are created (but, in reality, they create only destroyers of art and
science), and who obtains a diploma, and is well provided for, for life,
will not become a thinker or an artist, but he who would gladly abstain
from thinking, and from expressing that which is ingrafted in his soul,
but which he dare not overlook, being drawn to it by two irresistible
powers,--his own inward impulse and the wants of men.

Thinkers and artists cannot be sleek, fat men, enjoying themselves in
self-conceit. Spiritual and mental activity and their expressions are
really necessary for others, and are the most difficult of men's
callings,--a cross, as it is called in the gospel.

The only one certain characteristic of the presence of a calling is this
self-denying,--the sacrifice of one's self in order to manifest the
power ingrafted in man for the benefit of others. To teach how many
insects there are in the world, and to observe the spots on the sun, to
write novels and operas, can be done without suffering; but to teach men
their welfare, which entirely consists in self denial and in serving
others, and to express this teaching powerfully, cannot be done without

The Church existed in her purity as long as her teachers endured
patiently and suffered; but as soon as they became fat and sleek, their
teaching activity ended. "Formerly," say the people, "priests were of
gold, and chalices of wood; now chalices are of gold, and priests of
wood." It was not in vain that Jesus Christ died on a cross: it is not
in vain that sacrifice and suffering conquer every thing.

As for our art and sciences, they are provided for: they have diplomas,
and everybody only thinks about how to provide still better for them;
that is, to make it impossible for them to serve men. A true art and a
true science have two unmistakable characteristics,--the first, an
interior one, that a minister of art or science fulfils his calling, not
for the sake of gain, but with self-denial; and the second, an exterior
one, that his productions are intelligible to all men, whose welfare he
is aiming at.

Whatever men may consider to be their destiny and welfare, science will
be the teacher of this destiny and welfare, and art the expression of
this teaching. The laws of Solon, of Confucius, are science; the
teachings of Moses, of Christ, are science; the temples in Athens, the
psalms of David, church worship, are art: but finding out the fourth
dimension of matter, and tabulating chemical combinations, and so on,
have never been, and never will be, science.

The place of true science is occupied, in our time, by theology and law;
the place of true art is occupied by the church and state ceremonies, in
which nobody believes, and which are not considered seriously by
anybody; while that which with us is called art and science, is only the
production of idle minds and feelings desirous to stimulate similarly
idle minds and feelings, and unintelligible and dumb for the people,
because they have not their welfare in view.

Since we have known the lives of men, we have always and everywhere
found a ruling false doctrine, calling itself science, which does not
show men the true meaning of life, but rather hides it from them.

So it was among the Egyptians, the Indians, the Chinese, and partially
among the Greeks (sophists); and among the mystics, Gnostics, and
cabalists; in the Middle Ages, in theology, scholasticism, alchemy; and
so on down to our days. How fortunate indeed we are to be living in such
a peculiar time, when that mental activity which calls itself science is
not only free from errors, but, we are assured, is in a state of
peculiar progress! Does not this good fortune come from the fact that
man can not and will not see his own deformities? While of the sciences
of theologians, and that of cabalists, nothing is left but empty words,
why should we be so particularly fortunate?

The characteristics of our times and of former times are quite similar;
there is the same self-conceit and blind assurance that we only are on
the true way, and that only with us true knowledge begins; there are the
same expectations that we shall presently discover something very
wonderful; and there is the same exposure of our error, in the fact that
all our wisdom remains with us, while the masses of the people do not
understand it, and neither accept nor need it. Our position is a very
difficult one, but why should we not look it in the face?

It is time to come to our senses, and to look more closely to ourselves.
We are, indeed, nothing but scribes and Pharisees, who, sitting in
Moses' seat, and having the key of the kingdom of God, do not enter
themselves, and refuse entrance to others.

We, priests of art and science, are most wretched deceivers, who have
much less right to our position than the most cunning and depraved
priests ever had.

For our privileged position, there is no excuse whatever: we have taken
up this position by a kind of swindling, and we retain it by deceit.
Pagan priests, the clergy, Russian as well as Roman Catholic, however
depraved they may have been, had rights to their position, because they
professed to teach men about life and salvation. And we, who have cut
the ground from under their feet, and proved to men that they were
deceivers, we have taken their place, and not only do not teach men
about life, we even acknowledge that there is no necessity for them to
learn. We suck the blood of the people, and for this we teach our
children Greek and Latin grammars so that they also may continue the
same parasitic life which we are living.

We say, There have been castes, we will abolish them. But what means the
fact that some men and their children work, and other men and their
children do not work?

Bring a Hindu who does not know our language, and show him the Russian
and the European lives of many generations, and he will recognize the
existence of two important definite castes of working-people and of
non-working people as they are in existence in his own country. As in
his country, so also among us, the right of not working is acquired
through a peculiar initiation which we call art and science, and
education generally.

It is this education, and the perversions of reason associated with it,
that have brought to us this wonderful folly, whence it has come to pass
that we do not see what is so plain and certain. We are eating up the
lives of our brethren, and consider ourselves to be Christians, humane,
educated, and quite in the right.


What is to be done? What must we do?

This question, which includes acknowledgment of the fact that our life
is bad and unrighteous, and at the same time hints that there is no
possibility of changing it,--this question I hear everywhere, and
therefore I chose it for the title of my work.

I have described my own sufferings, my search, and the answer which I
have found to this question.

I am a man like others; and if I distinguish myself from an average man
of my own circle in any thing, it is chiefly in the fact that I, more
than this average man, have served and indulged the false teaching of
our world, that I have been more praised by the men of the prevalent
school of teaching, and that therefore I am more depraved, and have gone
farther astray, than most of my fellows.

Therefore I think that the answer to this question which I have found
for myself will do for all sincere persons who will put the same
question to themselves. First of all, to the question, "What is to be
done?" I answer that I must neither deceive other men nor myself; that I
must not be afraid of the truth, whatever the result may be.

We all know what it is to deceive other men; and notwithstanding this,
we do deceive from morning to evening,--"Not at home," when I am in;
"Very glad," when I am not at all glad; "Esteemed," when I do not
esteem; "I have no money," when I have it, and so on.

We consider the deception of others to be evil, particularly a certain
kind of deception, but we are not afraid to deceive ourselves: yet the
worst direct lie to men, seeing its result, is nothing in comparison
with that lie to ourselves according to which we shape our lives. Now,
this very lie we must avoid if we wish to be able to answer the
question, "_What is to be done?_"

Indeed, how am I to answer the question as to what is to be done, when
every thing I do, all my life, is based upon a lie and I carefully give
out this lie to others and to myself as truth? Not to lie in this sense
means to be not afraid of truth; not to invent excuses, and not to
accept excuses invented by others, in order to hide from one's self the
deductions of reason and conscience; not to be afraid of contradicting
all our surroundings, and of being left alone with reason and
conscience; not to be afraid of that condition to which truth and
conscience lead us: however dreadful it may be, it cannot be worse than
that which is based upon deceit.

To avoid lying, for men in our privileged position of mental labour,
means not to be afraid of truth. Perhaps we owe so much that we should
never be able to pay it all; but however much we may owe, we must make
out our bill: however far we have gone astray, it is better to return
than to continue straying.

Lying to our fellows is always disadvantageous. Every business is always
more directly done by truth than by lies, and more quickly too. Lying to
other men makes matters only more complicated, and retards the decision;
but lying to one's self, which is given out to be the truth, entirely
ruins the life of man.

If a man considers a wrong road to be a right one, then his every step
leads him only farther from his aim: a man who has been walking for a
long time on a wrong road may find out for himself, or be told by
others, that his road is a wrong one; but if he, being afraid of the
thought how far he has gone astray, tries to assure himself that he may,
by following this wrong course, still come across the right one, then he
will certainly never find it. If a man becomes afraid of the truth, and,
on seeing it, will not acknowledge it, but accepts falsehood for truth,
then this man will never learn what is to be done.

We, not only rich men, but men in privileged position, so-called
educated men, have gone so far astray that we require either a firm
resolution or very great sufferings on our false way to bring us to our
senses again, and to recognize the lie by which we live.

I became aware of the lie of our life, thanks to those sufferings to
which my wrong road led me; and, having acknowledged the error of the
way on which I was bent, I had the boldness to go, first in theory, then
in reality, wherever my reason and conscience led me, without any
deliberation as to whither they were tending.

I was rewarded for this boldness.

All the complex, disjointed, intricate, and meaningless phenomena of
life surrounding me became of a sudden clear; and my position among
these phenomena, formerly so strange and vile, became of a sudden
natural and easy.

In this new position my activity has exactly determined itself, but it
is quite a different activity from that which appeared possible to me
before: it is a new activity, far more quiet, affectionate, and joyous.
The very thing which frightened me before, now attracts me.

Therefore, I think that every one who sincerely puts to himself the
question, "What is to be done?" and in answering this question, does not
lie or deceive himself, but goes wherever his reason _and conscience_
may lead him, that man has already answered the question.

If he will only avoid deceiving himself, he will find out what to do,
where to go, and how to act. There is only one thing which may hinder
him in finding an answer,--that is too high an estimate of himself, and
of his own position. So it was with me; and therefore the second answer
to the question, "What is to be done?" resulting from the first,
consisted for me in repenting, in the full meaning of this word: that
is, entirely changing the estimate of my own position and activity.
Instead of considering such to be useful and of importance, we must come
to acknowledge it to be harmful and trifling; instead of considering
ourselves educated, we must come to see our ignorance; instead of
imagining ourselves to be kind and moral, we must acknowledge that we
are immoral and cruel; instead of seeing our importance, we must see our
own insignificance.

I say, that besides avoiding lying to myself, I had moreover to
_repent_, because, though the one results from the other, the wrong idea
about my great importance was so much a part of my own nature, that
until I had sincerely repented, and had put aside that wrong estimate of
myself, I did not see the enormity of the lie of which I had been

It was only when I repented,--that is, left off considering myself to be
a peculiar man, and began to consider myself to be like _all_ other
men,--it was then that my way became clear to me. Before this I was not
able to answer the question, "What is to be done?" because the very
question itself was put incorrectly.

Before I repented, I had put the question thus: "What activity should I
choose, I, the man with the education and talents I have acquired? How
can I compensate by this education and these talents for what I have
been taking away from the people?"

This question was a false one, because it included the wrong idea of my
not being like other men, but a peculiar man, called to serve other men
with those talents and that education which I had acquired in forty

I had put the question to myself, but in reality I had already answered
it in advance by having determined beforehand that I was called upon to
serve men by the kind of activity agreeable to myself. I really asked
myself, "How can I, so fine a writer, one so very well informed, and
with such talents, how can I utilize those talents for the benefit of

But the question ought to have been put thus,--as it would have to be
put to a learned rabbi who had studied all the Talmud, and knew the
exact number of letters in the Holy Scripture, and all the subtleties of
his science:--"What can I do, who, from unlucky circumstances, have lost
my best years in study instead of accommodating myself to labour,--in
learning the French language, the piano, grammar, geography, law,
poetry; in reading novels, romances, philosophical theories, and in
performing military exercises? what can I do, who have passed the best
years of my life in idle occupations, depraving the soul? what can I do,
notwithstanding these unlucky conditions of the past, in order to
requite those men, who, during all this time, have fed and clothed me,
and who still continue to feed and to clothe me?"

If the question had been put thus, after I had repented, "What can I, so
ruined a man, do?" the answer would have been easy: First of all, I must
try to get my living honestly,--that is, learn not to live upon the
shoulders of others; and while learning this, and after I have learned
it, to try on every occasion to be of use to men with my hands and with
my feet, as well as with my brain and my heart, and with all of me that
is wanted by men.

Therefore I say that for one of my own circle, besides avoiding lying to
others and ourselves, it is further necessary to repent, to lay aside
pride about our education, refinement, and talents, not considering
ourselves to be benefactors of the people, advanced men, who are ready
to share our useful acquirements with the people, but acknowledging
ourselves to be entirely guilty, ruined, good-for-nothing men, who
desire to turn over a new leaf, and not to be benefactors of the people,
but to cease to offend and to humiliate them.

Very often good young people, who sympathise with the negative part of
my writings, put to me the question, "What must I do then? What have I,
who have finished my study in the university or in some other high
establishment,--what have I to do in order to be useful?"

These young people ask the question; but in the depths of their souls
they have already decided that the education which they have received is
their great advantage, and that they wish to serve the people by this
very advantage.

Therefore, there is one thing which they do not do,--honestly and
critically examine what they call their education, asking themselves
whether it is a good or a bad thing.

If they do this, they will be unavoidably led to decry their education,
and to begin to learn anew; and this alone is what is wanted. They will
never be able to answer the question, as to what there is to be done,
while they put it wrongly. The question should be put thus: "How can I,
a helpless, useless man, recognizing the misfortune of having lost my
best years in studying the scientific Talmud, pernicious for soul and
body, how can I rectify this mistake, and learn to serve men?" But the
question is always put thus: "How can I, who have acquired so much fine
information, how can I be useful to men with this my information?"

Therefore, a man can never answer the question, "What is to be done?"
until he leaves off deceiving himself and repents. And repentance is not
dreadful, even as truth is not dreadful, but it is equally beneficent
and fruitful of good. We need only accept the whole truth and fully
repent in order to understand that in life no one has any rights or
privileges, and that there is no end of duties, and no limits to them,
and that the first and unquestionable duty of a man is to take part in
the struggle with nature for his own life and for the lives of other
men. And this acknowledgment of men's duty forms the essence of the
third answer to the question, "What is to be done?"

I have tried to avoid deceiving myself. I have endeavoured to extirpate
the last remnant of the false estimate of the importance of my education
and talents, and to repent; but before answering the question, _What is
to be done?_ there stands a new difficulty.

There are so many things to be done, that one requires to know what is
to be done in particular? And the answer to this question has been given
me by the sincere repentance of the evil in which I have been living.

What is to be done? What is there exactly to be done? everybody keeps
asking; and I, too, kept asking this, while, under the influence of a
high opinion of my own calling, I had not seen that my first and
unquestionable business is to earn my living, clothing, heating,
building, and so forth, and in doing this to serve others as well as
myself, because, since the world has existed, the first and
unquestionable duty of every man has been comprised in this.

In this one business, man receives,--if he has already begun to take
part in it,--the full satisfaction of all the bodily and mental wants of
his nature; to feed, clothe, take care of himself and of his family,
will satisfy his bodily wants; to do the same for others, will satisfy
his spiritual.

Every other activity of man is only lawful when these have first been
satisfied. In whatever department a man thinks his calling lies, whether
in governing the people, in protecting his countrymen, in officiating at
divine services, in teaching, in inventing the means of increasing the
delights of life, in discovering the laws of the universe, in
incorporating eternal truths in artistic images, the first and most
unquestionable duty of a reasonable man will always consist in taking
part in the struggle with nature for preserving his own life and the
lives of other men.

This duty must always rank first, because the most necessary thing for
men is life: and therefore, in order to protect and to teach men, and to
make their lives more agreeable, it is necessary to keep this very life;
while by not taking part in the struggle, and by swallowing up the
labour of others, other lives are destroyed. And it is folly and
impossible to endeavour to serve men while destroying their lives.

Man's duty to acquire the means of living through the struggle with
nature will always be unquestionably the very first of all duties,
because it is the law of life, the violation of which unavoidably brings
with it a punishment by destroying the bodily or mental life of man. If
a man, living alone, free himself from the duty of struggling with
nature, he will be at once punished by the perishing of his body.

But if a man free himself from this duty by compelling other men to
fulfil it for him, in ruining their lives, he will be at once punished
by the destruction of his reasonable life; that is, of the life which
has a reasonable sense in it.

I had been so perverted by my antecedents, and this first and
unquestionable law of God or nature is so hidden in our present world,
that the fulfilling of it had seemed to me strange, and I was afraid and
ashamed of it, as if the fulfilment, and not the violation, of this
eternal and unquestionable law were strange, unnatural, and shameful. At
first it seemed to me, that, in order to fulfil this law, some sort of
accommodation was necessary, some established association of
fellow-thinkers, the consent of the family, and life in the country (not
in town): then I felt ashamed, as if I were putting myself forward in
performing things so unusual to our life as bodily labour, and I did not
know how to begin.

But I needed only to understand that this was not some exclusive
activity, which I have to invent and arrange, but that it was merely
returning from the false condition in which I had lived to a natural
one, merely rectifying that lie in which I had been living,--I had only
to acknowledge all this, and all the difficulties vanished.

It was not at all necessary to arrange and accommodate any thing, nor to
wait for the consent of other people, because everywhere, in whatever
condition I was, there were men who fed, dressed, and warmed me as well
as themselves; and everywhere, under all circumstances, if I had
sufficient time and strength, I was able to do these things for myself
and for them.

Nor could I feel a false shame in performing actions unusual and strange
to me, because, in not doing so, I already experienced, not a false, but
a real, shame.

Having come to this conclusion, and to the practical deduction from it,
I have been fully rewarded for not having been afraid of the deductions
of reason, and for having gone where they led me.

Having come to this practical conclusion, I was struck by the facility
and simplicity of the solution of all those problems which had formerly
seemed to me so difficult and complicated. To the question, "What have
we to do?" I received a very plain answer: Do first what is necessary
for yourself; arrange all you can do by yourself,--your tea-urn, stove,
water, and clothes.

To the question, "Would not this seem strange to those who had been
accustomed to do all this for me?" it appeared that it was strange only
for about a week, and after a week it seemed more strange for me to
return to my former condition.

In answer to the question, "Is it necessary to organize this physical
labour, to establish a society in a village upon this basis?" it
appeared that it was not at all necessary to do all this; that if the
labour does not aim at rendering idleness possible, and at utilizing
other men's labour,--as is the case with men who save up money,--but
merely the satisfying of necessities, then such labour will naturally
induce people to leave towns for the country, where this labour is most
agreeable and productive.

There was also no need to establish a society, because a workingman will
naturally associate with other working-people. In answer to the
question, "Would not this labour take up all my time, and would it not
deprive me of the possibility of that mental activity which I am so fond
of, and to which I have become accustomed, and which in moments of doubt
I consider to be useful?" the answer will be quite an unexpected one.
The energy of my mental activity increased in proportion to bodily
exercise, being freed from all that was superfluous.

In fact, having spent eight hours in physical labour,--half a
day,--which formerly I used to spend in endeavouring to struggle with
dulness, there still remained for me eight hours, out of which in my
circumstances I required five for mental labour; and if I, a very
prolific writer, who had been doing nothing but write during forty
years, and who had written three hundred printed sheets, then if during
these forty years I had been doing ordinary work along with
working-people, and, not taking into consideration winter evenings and
holidays, had been reading and learning during the five hours a day, and
had written only on holidays two pages a day (and I have sometimes
written sixteen pages a day), I should have written the same three
hundred printed sheets in fourteen years.

A wonderful thing: a most simple arithmetical calculation which every
boy of seven years of age may do, but which I had never done. Day and
night have together twenty-four hours; we sleep eight hours; there
remain sixteen hours. If any man labour mentally five hours a day, he
will do a vast amount of business; what do we, then, do during the
remaining eleven hours?

So it appears that physical labour not only does not exclude the
possibility of mental activity, but improves and stimulates it.

In answer to the question, whether this physical labour would deprive me
of many innocent enjoyments proper to man, such as enjoyment of art,
acquirement of knowledge, of social intercourse, and, generally, of the
happiness of life, it was really quite the reverse: the more intense my
physical labour, the more it approached that labour which is considered
the hardest, to wit, agricultural labour, the more I acquired
enjoyments, and knowledge, and the closer and more affectionate was my
intercourse with mankind, and the more happiness did I feel in life.

In answer to the question (which I hear so often from men who are not
quite sincere), "What result can there be from such an awfully small
drop in the sea? what is all my personal physical labour in comparison
with the sea of labour which I swallow up?"

To this question I also received a very unexpected answer.

It appeared that as soon as I had made physical labour the ordinary
condition of my life, at once the greatest part of the false and
expensive habits and wants which I had while I had been physically idle,
ceased of themselves, without any endeavour on my part. To say nothing
of the habit of turning day into night, and _vice versa_, of my bedding,
clothes, my conventional cleanliness, which all became impossible and
embarrassing when I began to labour physically, both the quantity and
the quality of my food was totally changed. Instead of the sweet, rich,
delicate, complicated, and highly spiced food, which I formerly liked, I
now required and obtained plain food as being the most agreeable,--sour
cabbage soup, porridge, black bread, tea with a bit of sugar.

So that, apart from the example of common workingmen satisfied with
little, with whom I came in closer intercourse, my very wants themselves
were gradually changed by my life of labour; so that in proportion to my
growing accustomed to this labour and acquiring the ways of it, my drop
of physical labour became indeed more perceptible in the ocean of common
labour; and in proportion as my labour grew more fruitful, my demands
for other men's labour grew less and less, and, without effort or
privation, my life naturally came nearer to that simple life of which I
could not even have dreamed without fulfilling the law of labour.

It became apparent that my former most expensive demands--the demands of
vanity and amusement--were the direct result of an idle life. With
physical labour, there was no room for vanity, and no need for
amusement, because my time was agreeably occupied; and after weariness,
simple rest while drinking tea, or reading a book, or conversing with
the members of my family, was far more agreeable than the theatre,
playing at cards, concerts, or large parties.

In answer to the question, "Would not this unusual labour be hurtful to
health, which is necessary in order that I may serve men?" it appeared
that, despite the positive assurance of eminent doctors that hard
physical labour, especially at my age, might have the worst results (and
that Swedish gymnastics, riding, and other expedients intended to supply
the natural conditions of man, would be far better), the harder I
worked, the sounder, more cheerful, and kinder, I felt myself.

It became undoubtedly certain that even as all those inventions of the
human mind, such as newspapers, theatres, concerts, parties, balls,
cards, magazines, novels, are nothing but means to sustain the spiritual
life of men outside its natural condition of labour for others, so in
the same way all the hygienic and medical inventions of the human mind
for the provision of food, drink, dwelling, ventilation, warming of
rooms, clothes, medicines, mineral water, gymnastics, electric and other
cures, are all merely means to sustain the bodily life of man outside of
its natural conditions of labour; and all these are nothing else than an
establishment hermetically closed, in which, by means of chemical
apparatus, the evaporation of water for the plants is arranged, when you
need only to open the window, and do that which is natural, not for men
alone but to beasts too; in other words, having absorbed the food, and
thus produced a charge of energy, to discharge it by muscular labour.

All the profound study of hygiene and of the art of healing for the men
of our circle are like the efforts of a mechanic, who, having stopped
all the valves of an overheated engine, should invent something to
prevent this engine from bursting.

When I had plainly understood all this, it seemed to me ridiculous, that
I, through a long series of doubt, research, and much thinking, had
arrived at this extraordinary truth, that if man has eyes, they are to
be seen through; ears, to hear by; feet to walk with, and hands and back
to work with,--and that if man will not use these, his members, for what
they are meant, then it will be the worse for him. I came to this
conclusion, that with us, privileged people, the same thing has happened
which happened to the horses of a friend of mine: The steward, who was
not fond of horses, and did not understand any thing about them, having
received from his masters orders to prepare the best cobs for sale,
chose the best out of the drove of horses, put them into the stable, fed
them upon oats; but being over-anxious, he trusted them to nobody,
neither rode them himself, nor drove nor led them.

Of course, all these horses became good for nothing.

The same has happened to us with this difference,--that you cannot
deceive horses, and, in order not to let them out, they must be fastened
in; while we are kept in unnatural and hurtful conditions by all sorts
of temptations, which fasten and hold us as with chains.

We have arranged for ourselves a life which is against the moral and
physical nature of man, and we use all the powers of our mind in order
to assure men that this life is the real one. All that we call
culture,--our science and arts for improving the delights of life,--all
these are only meant to deceive man's natural moral requirements: all
that we call hygiene, and the art of healing, are endeavours to deceive
the natural physical want of human nature.

But these deceits have their limits, and we are come to these limits.
"If such be real human life, then it is better not to live at all," says
the fashionable philosophy of Schopenhauer and Hartman. "If such is
life, then it is better not to live at all," is the witness borne by the
increasing number of suicides among the privileged classes. "If such be
life, it is better for future generations, too, not to live," says the
indulgent healing art, and invents means to destroy women's fecundity.

In the Bible the law to human beings is expressed thus: "In the sweat of
thy face shalt thou eat bread," and "In sorrow thou shall bring forth

The peasant Bondaref, who wrote an article about this, threw great light
upon the wisdom of this sentence. During the whole of my life, two
thinking men--Russians--have exercised a great influence over me: they
have enriched my thoughts, and enlightened my contemplation of the

These men were neither poets, nor learned men, nor preachers: they were
two remarkable men, both now living, peasants,--Sutaief and Bondaref.
But "nous avons changé tout ça," as says one of Molière's personages,
talking at random about the healing art, and saying that the liver is on
the left side, "we have changed all that." Men need not work,--all work
will be done by machines; and women need not bring forth children. The
healing art will teach different means of avoiding this, for there are
already too many people in the world.

In the Krapivensky district,[6] there wanders a ragged peasant, who
during the war was a purchaser of bread for a commissary of stores.
Having become acquainted with this functionary, and having seen his
comfortable life, he became mad, and now thinks that he, too, can live
as gentlemen do, without work, being provided for by the Emperor.

  [6] Tolstoy's village of Yasnaya Polyana is situated in this

This peasant now calls himself "the Most Serene Marshal Prince Blokhin,
purveyor of war-stores of all kinds."

He says of himself that he has gone through all ranks, and for his
services during the war he has to receive from the Emperor an unlimited
bank-account, clothes, uniforms, horses, carriages, tea, servants, and
all kinds of provision. When anybody asks him whether he would like to
work a little, he only answers, "Thanks: the peasants will attend to all
that." When we say to him that the peasants also may not be disposed to
work, he answers, "Machines have been invented to ease the labour of
peasants. They have no difficulty in their business." When we ask him
what he is living for, he answers, "To pass away the time."

I always consider this man as a mirror. I see in him myself and all my
class. To pass through all ranks in order to live to pass away the time,
and to receive an unlimited bank-account, while peasants attend to every
thing, and find it easy to do so, because of the invention of machines.

This is the exact form of the foolish belief of men of our class. When
we ask what have we particularly to do, we are in reality asking
nothing, but only asserting--not so sincerely indeed as the Most Serene
Marshal Prince Blokhin, who had passed through all ranks, and lost his
mind--that we do not wish to do anything.

He who has come to his senses cannot ask this, because from one side all
that he makes use of has been done, and is being done, by the hands of
men; on the other side, as soon as a healthy man has got up and
breakfasted, he feels the inclination to work, as well with his feet as
with his hands and brain. In order to find work, he has only not to
restrain himself from labour. Only he who considers labour to be a
shame,--like the lady who asked her guest not to trouble herself to open
the door, but to wait till she called a servant to do it,--only such
persons can ask what is there to be done in particular.

The difficulty is not in inventing work,--every one has enough to do for
himself and for others,--but in losing this criminal view of life, that
we eat and sleep for our own pleasure, and in gaining that simple and
correct view in which every working-person grows up, that man first of
all is a machine which is charged with food, and that therefore it is
shameful, difficult, and impossible to eat and not to work; that to eat
and not to work is a most dangerous state, and as bad as incendiarism.

It is necessary only to have this consciousness, and we shall find work
and this work will always be pleasant, and capable of satisfying all the
wants of our soul and body.

I picture to myself the whole matter thus: Every man's day is divided by
his meals into four parts, or four stages as it is called by the
peasants: First, before breakfast; secondly, from breakfast to dinner;
thirdly, from dinner to poldnik (a slight evening meal between dinner
and supper); and fourthly, from poldnik to night. The activity of man to
which he is drawn, is also divided into four kinds: First, the activity
of the muscles, the labour of the hands, feet, shoulders, back,--hard
labour by which one perspires; secondly, the activity of the fingers and
wrists, the activity of skill and handicraft; thirdly, the activity of
the intellect and imagination; fourthly, the activity of intercourse
with other men.

The goods which man makes use of may also be divided into four kinds:
First, every man makes use of the productions of hard labour,--bread,
cattle, buildings, wells, bridges, and so on; secondly, the productions
of handicraft,--clothes, boots, hardware, and so on; thirdly, the
productions of mental activity,--science, art; and fourthly, the
intercourse with men, acquaintanceship, societies.

I thought that it would be the best thing so to arrange the occupations
of the day that one might be able to exercise all these four faculties,
and to return all the four kinds of production of labour, which one
makes use of; so that the four parts of the day were devoted, first, to
hard labour; secondly, to mental labour; thirdly, to handicraft;
fourthly, to the intercourse with men. It would be good if one could so
arrange his labour; but if it is not possible to arrange thus, one thing
is important,--to acknowledge the duty of labouring, the duty of making
a good use of each part of the day.

I thought that it would be only then that the false division of labour
which now rules our society would disappear, and a just division would
be established which should not interfere with the happiness of mankind.

I, for instance, have all my life been busy with mental work. I had said
to myself that I have thus divided the labour: that my special work is
writing; that is, mental labour: and all other works necessary for me, I
left to be done by other men, or rather compelled them to do it. But
this arrangement, seemingly so convenient for mental labour, though
unjust, became most inconvenient, especially for mental labour. I have
been writing all my life, have accommodated my food, sleep, amusements,
with reference to this special labour, and besides this work I did

The results of which were, first, that I had been narrowing the circle
of my observation and information, and often I had not any object to
study, and therefore, having had to describe the life of men (the life
of men is a continual problem of every mental activity), I felt my
ignorance, and had to learn and to ask about such things, which everyone
not occupied with a special work knows; secondly, it happened that when
I sat down to write, I often had no inward inclination to write, and
nobody wanted my writing for itself, that is, for my thoughts, but
people merely wanted my name for profits in the magazines.

I made great efforts to write what I could; sometimes I did not succeed
at all; sometimes succeeded in writing something very bad, and I felt
dissatisfied and miserable. So often and often weeks passed, during
which I would eat, drink, sleep, warm myself, and do nothing--or do
something of no use to anybody--i.e., commit the worst and meanest
crime, scarcely ever committed by a man of the working class. But since
I have acknowledged the necessity of physical labour as well as hard
labour, and also that of handicraft, everything is quite different: my
time is occupied however humbly, but certainly in a useful way, and
pleasantly and instructively for me.

Therefore I, for the sake of my speciality, leave off this undoubtedly
useful and pleasant occupation, only when I feel an inward want, or see
a direct demand for my literary work. And this caused the quality, and
therefore the usefulness and pleasantness, of my special labour to

Thus it has happened that my occupation with those physical works, which
are necessary for me as well as for every man, not only do not interfere
with my special activity, but are a necessary condition of the utility,
quality, and pleasantness of this activity.

A bird is so created that it is necessary for it to fly, to walk, to
peck, to consider; and when it does all this, it is satisfied and happy;
then it is a bird. Exactly so with a man when he walks, turns over heavy
things, lifts them up, carries them, works with his fingers, eyes, ears,
tongue, brain, then only is he satisfied, then only is he _a man_.

A man who has come to recognise his calling to labour will be naturally
inclined to that change of labour which is proper for him for the
satisfying of his outward and inward wants, and he will reverse this
order only when he feels an irresistible impulse to some special labour,
and when other men require this labour from him. The nature of labour is
such that the satisfying of all men's wants requires that very
alternation of different kinds of labour which renders labour easy and

Only the erroneous idea that labour is a curse could lead men to free
themselves from some kinds of labour, that is, to seize other men's
labour, requiring from other men that forced occupation with a special
labour which is called nowadays the division of labour.

We have become so accustomed to our false conception of the arrangement
of labour that it seems to us that for a boot-maker, a machinist, a
writer, a musician, it would be better to be freed from the labour
proper to man. Where there is no violence over other men's labour, nor a
false belief in the pleasure of idleness, no man will for the sake of
his special labour free himself from physical labour necessary for the
satisfying of his wants, because special occupation is not a privilege,
but a sacrifice to a man's inclination and for the sake of his brethren.

A boot-maker in a village having torn himself from his usual pleasant
labour in the field, and having begun his labour of mending or making
boots for his neighbours, deprives himself of a pleasant, useful labour
in the field for the sake of others, only because he is fond of sewing,
and knows that nobody will do it better than he does, and that people
will be thankful to him.

But he cannot wish to deprive himself of the pleasant alternation of
labour for all his life. The same with the starosta, the machinist, the
writer, the learned man.

It is only to our perverted ideas, that it seems, when the master sends
his clerk to be a peasant, or government sentences one of its ministers
to deportation, that they are punished and have been dealt with hardly.
In reality they have had a great good done to them; that is, they have
exchanged their heavy special work for a pleasant alternation of labour.

In a natural society all is different. I know a commune where the people
earn their living themselves. One of the members of this community was
more educated than the rest; and they require him to deliver lectures,
for which he has to prepare himself during the day, that he may be able
to deliver them in the evening. He does it joyfully, feeling that he is
useful to others, and that he can do it well. But he grows tired of the
exclusive mental labour, and his health suffers accordingly. The members
of the community therefore pity him, and ask him to come and labour in
the field again.

For men who consider labour to be the essential thing and the joy of
life, the ground, the basis, of it will always be the struggle with
nature,--not only in agricultural labour, but also in that of
handicraft, mental work, and intercourse with men.

The divergence from one or many of these kinds of labour, and
specialities of labour, will be performed only when a man of special
gifts, being fond of this work, and knowing that he performs it better
than anybody else, will sacrifice his own advantage in order to fulfil
the demands which others put directly to him.

Only with such a view of labour and the natural division of labour
resulting from it, will that curse disappear which in our imagination we
have put upon labour; and every labour will always be a joy, because man
will do either an unquestionably useful, pleasant, and easy work, or
will be conscious that he makes a sacrifice by performing a more
difficult special labour for the good of others.

But the division of labour is, it is said, more advantageous.
Advantageous for whom? Is it more advantageous to make with all speed as
many boots and cotton-prints as possible? But who will make these boots
and cotton-prints? Men who from generation to generation have been
making only pin-heads? How, then, can it be more advantageous for
people? If the object were to make as many cotton-prints and pins as
possible, it would be so; but the question is, how to make people happy?

The happiness of men consists in life. And life is in labour.

How, then, can the necessity of painful, oppressing work be advantageous
for men? If the question were only for the advantage of some men without
any consideration of the welfare of all, then it might be most
advantageous for some men to eat others. They say it is savoury!

The thing most advantageous for all men is what I wish for myself,--the
greatest welfare and the satisfying of all my wants which are ingrafted
in me, those of body as well as those of soul, of conscience, and of

Now, for myself I have found, that for my welfare and for the satisfying
of these wants, I need only to be cured of the folly in which I (as well
as the Krapivensky madman) have lived, consisting in the idea that
gentlefolk need not work, and that all must be done for them by others,
and that, producing nothing, I have to do only what is proper to
man,--satisfy my own wants.

Having discovered this, I became persuaded that this labour for the
satisfying of my own wants, is divisible into various kinds of labour,
each of which has its own charm, and is not only no burden, but serves
as rest after some other labour.

I have roughly divided labour, not in the least insisting on the
propriety of such a division, into four parts parallel to the four parts
of the labourer's day's work, divided by his meals; and thus I try to
satisfy my wants.

These are, then, the answers to the question, "What shall we do?" which
I have found for myself.

_First_, Not to lie to myself. However far I have gone astray from that
road of life which my reason shows to me, I must not be afraid of the

_Secondly_, To renounce my own righteousness, my own advantages,
peculiarities, distinguishing me from others, and to own my guilt.

_Thirdly_, To fulfil the eternal, unquestionable law of man,--by
labouring with all my being to struggle with nature, to sustain my own
life, and the lives of others.


I have now finished, having said all that concerns myself; but I cannot
restrain my desire to say that which concerns every one, and to verify
my own deductions by several considerations.

I wish to explain why I think that a great many of my own class must
arrive where I myself am, and I must also speak of what will result if
even a few men arrive there; in the first place, if men of our circle,
our caste, will only seriously think the matter out themselves, the
younger generation, who seek their own personal happiness, will become
afraid of the ever-increasing misery of lives which obviously lead them
to ruin; scrupulous persons among us (if they would examine themselves
more closely) will be terrified at the cruelty and unlawfulness of their
own lives, and timid persons will be frightened at the danger of their
mode of life.

_The misery of our lives!_ However we, rich men, may try to mend and to
support, with the assistance of science and art, this our false life, it
must become weaker every day, unhealthier, and more and more painful:
with each year, suicide, and the sin against the unborn babe, increase;
with each year the new generations of our class grow weaker, with each
year we feel more and more the increasing misery of our lives.

It is obvious that on this road, with all its increase of the comforts
and delights of life, of cures, artificial teeth and hair, and so on,
there can be no salvation.

This truth has become such a truism, that in newspapers advertisements
are printed about stomach powder for rich people, under the title
"Blessings of the poor," where they say that only poor people have a
good digestion, and the rich need help, and among other things this
powder. You cannot ameliorate this matter by any kind of amusements,
comforts, powders, but only by turning over a new leaf.

_The contradiction of our life with our conscience._ However we may try
to justify to ourselves our treason against mankind, all our
justification falls to pieces before evidence: around us, people are
dying from overwork and want; and we destroy the food, clothes, and
labour of men merely to amuse ourselves. Therefore the conscience of a
man of our circle, though he may have but a small remainder of it in his
breast, cannot be stifled, and poisons all these comforts and charms of
life which our suffering and perishing brethren procure for us. Not only
does every conscientious man feel this himself, but he must feel it more
acutely at present, because the best part of art and science, that part
which still retains a sense of its high calling, constantly reminds him
of his cruelty, and of the unlawfulness of his position.

The old secure justifications are all destroyed; and the new ephemeral
justifications of the progress of science for science's sake, and art
for art's sake, will not bear the light of plain common sense.

The conscience of men cannot be calmed by new devices: it can be calmed
only by turning over a new leaf, when there will be no longer any need
for justification.

_The danger to our lives!_ However much we may try to hide from
ourselves the plain and obvious danger of exhausting the patience of
those whom we oppress; however much we may try to counteract this danger
by all sorts of deceit, violence and flattery,--it grows day by day,
hour by hour,--it has long been threatening us, but now it is so ready
that we are scarcely able to hold our course,--as in a vessel tossed by
a roaring and overflowing sea,--a sea which will presently swallow us up
in wrath.

The workman's revolution, with its terrors of destruction and murder,
not only threatens us, but we have already lived above it for the last
thirty years, and it is only by various cunning devices that we have
postponed the explosion.

Such is the state in Europe: such is the state in Russia, and still
worse there, because we have no safety-valves. The classes who oppress
the people, with the exception of the Tsar, have no longer any
justification in the eyes of our people; they all keep up their position
merely by violence, cunning, and expediency, i.e., skill; but the hatred
towards us of the worst representatives of the people, and the contempt
of us from the best, increases every hour.

Among the Russian people a new word full of significance has been
circulating during the last three or four years: by this word, which I
never heard before, people are swearing in the streets, and by it they
give us a definition--"parasites."

The hatred and contempt of the oppressed people are increasing, and the
physical and moral strength of the richer classes are decreasing: the
deceit which supports all is wearing out, and the rich classes have
nothing wherewith to comfort themselves in this mortal danger. To return
to the old order of things is impossible, to restore the old prestige is
impossible. It only remains for those who are not willing to change the
course of their lives, and to turn over a new leaf,--to hope that,
during their lives, they may fare well enough, after which the people
may do as they like. So think the blind crowd of the rich; but the
danger ever increases, and the awful catastrophe comes nearer and

There are three reasons which should prove to rich people the necessity
of turning over a new leaf: First, desire for their own personal welfare
and that of their families, which is not secured by the way in which
rich people are living; secondly, the inability to satisfy the voice of
conscience, which is obviously impossible in the present condition of
things; and thirdly, the threatening and constantly increasing danger to
life, which cannot be met by any outward means. All these together ought
to induce rich people to change their mode of life. This change alone
would satisfy the desire of welfare and conscience, and would remove the
danger. There is but one means of making such change,--to leave off
deceiving ourselves, to repent, and to acknowledge labour to be, not a
curse, but the joyful business of life.

To this it is replied, "What will come out of the fact of my physical
labour during ten, eight, or five hours, while thousands of peasants
would gladly do it for the money which I have?"

The first good result would be, that you will become livelier,
healthier, sounder, kinder; and you will learn that real life from which
you have hidden yourself, or which was hidden from you.

The second good result will be, that, if you have a conscience, it will
not only cease to suffer as it now suffers when looking at the labour of
men,--the importance of which we always, from our ignorance, either
increase or diminish,--but you will constantly experience a joyful
acknowledgment that with each day you are satisfying more and more the
demands of your conscience, and are leaving behind you that awful state
in which so much evil is accumulated in our lives that we feel that we
cannot possibly do any good in the world; you will experience the joy of
free life, with the possibility of doing good to others; you will open
for yourself a way into regions of the world of morality which have
hitherto been shut to you.

The third good result will be this, that, instead of constant fear of
revenge upon your evil deeds, you will feel that you are saving others
from this revenge, and are principally saving the oppressed from the
cruel feeling of rancour and resentment.

But it is generally said, that it would be ridiculous if we, men of our
stamp, with deep philosophical, scientific, political, artistic,
ecclesiastical, social questions before us, we, state ministers,
senators, academists, professors, artists, singers, we, whose
quarter-hours are valued so highly by men, should spend our time in
doing--what? Cleaning our boots, washing our shirts, digging, planting
potatoes, or feeding our chickens and cows, and so on,--in business
which not only our house-porter, or our cook, but thousands of men
besides who value our time, would be very glad to do for us.

But why do we dress, wash, and comb our hair ourselves? Why do we walk,
hand chairs to ladies, to our guests, open and shut the door, help
people into carriages, and perform hundreds of actions which were
formerly performed for us by our slaves?

Because we consider that such may be done by ourselves; that they are
compatible with human dignity; that is, human duty. The same holds good
with physical labour. Man's dignity, his sacred duty, is to use his
hands, his feet, for the purpose for which they were given him, to spend
the swallowed food in work, which produces the food, and not to be
wasted by disuse, not merely that he may wash and clean them and use
them only for the purpose of stuffing food and cigarettes into his

Such is the meaning of physical labour for every man in every society.
But in our class, with the divergence from this law of nature came the
misery of a whole circle of men; and for us, physical labour receives
another meaning,--the meaning of a preaching and a propaganda which
divert the terrible evil which threatens mankind.

To say that for an educated man, physical labour is a trifling
occupation, is the same as to say, in the building of a temple, "What
importance can there be in putting each stone exactly in its place?"
Every great act is done under the conditions of quietness, modesty, and
simplicity. One can neither plough, nor feed cattle, nor think, during a
great illumination, or amid thundering of guns, nor while in uniform.

Illumination, the roar of cannon, music, uniforms, cleanliness,
brilliancy, which we usually connect with the idea of the importance of
any act, are, on the contrary, tokens of the absence of importance in
that act. Great, true deeds are always simple and modest. Such is also
the greatest deed which is left to us to do,--the solution of those
awful contradictions in which we are living. The acts which solve these
contradictions are modest, imperceptible, seemingly ridiculous acts,
such as helping ourselves by physical labour, and, if possible, helping
others too: this is what we rich people have to do, if we understand the
misery, wrong, and danger of the position in which we live.

What will result from the circumstance that I, and another, and a third,
and a tenth man, do not despise physical labour, but consider it
necessary for our happiness, for the calming of our consciences, and for
our safety? This will result from it,--that one, two, three, ten men,
coming into conflict with no one, without violence either of government
or of revolution, will solve for themselves the problem which is before
all the world, and which has appeared unsolvable; and they will solve it
in such a way that life will become for them a good thing: their
consciences will be calm, and the evil which oppresses them will cease
to be dreadful to them.

Another effect will be this: other men, too, will see that the welfare,
which they have been looking for everywhere, is quite near them, that
seemingly unsolvable contradictions between conscience and the order of
the world are solved in the easiest and pleasantest way, and that,
instead of being afraid of the men surrounding them, they must have
intercourse with them, and love them.

The seemingly unsolvable economical and social questions are like the
problem of Krilof's casket. The casket opened of itself, without any
difficulty: but it will not open until men do the simplest and most
natural thing; that is, open it. The seemingly unsolvable question is
the old question of the utilizing some men's labour by others: this
question, in our time, has found its expression in property.

Formerly, other men's labour was used simply by violence, by slavery: in
our time it is being done by the means of property. In our time,
property is the root of all evil and of the sufferings of men who
possess it, or are without it, and of all the remorse of conscience of
those who misuse it, and of the danger from the collision between those
who have it, and those who have it not.

Property is the root of all evil, and, at the same time, property is
that towards which all the activity of our modern society is directed,
and that which directs the activity of the world. States and governments
intrigue, make wars, for the sake of property, for the possession of the
banks of the Rhine, of land in Africa, China, the Balkan Peninsula.
Bankers, merchants, manufacturers, land-owners, labourers, use cunning,
torment themselves, torment others, for the sake of property; government
functionaries, artisans, struggle, deceive, oppress, suffer, for the
sake of property; courts of justice and police protect property; penal
servitude, prisons, all the terrors of so-called punishments,--all is
done for the sake of property.

Property is the root of all evil; and now all the world is busy with the
distribution and protecting of wealth.

What, then, is property? Men are accustomed to think that property is
something really belonging to man, and for this reason they have called
it property. We speak indiscriminately of our own house and our own
land. But this is obviously an error and a superstition. We know, and if
we do not, it is easy to perceive, that property is only the means of
utilizing other men's labour. And another's labour can by no means
belong to me. It has nothing in common with the conception of
property,--a conception very exact and precise.

Man has been, and will always call his own that which is subject to his
own will and joined with his own consciousness. As soon as a man calls
his own something which is not his body, but which he should like to be
subject to his will as his body is, then he makes a mistake, and gets
disappointment, and suffering, and compels other people to suffer as
well. Man calls his wife his own, his children, his slaves, his
belongings, his own too; but the reality always shows him his error: and
he must either get rid of this superstition, or suffer, and make others

Now we, having nominally renounced the possessing of slaves, owing to
money (and to its exactment by the government), claim our right also to
money; that is, to the labour of other men.

But as to our claiming our wives as our property, or our sons, our
slaves, our horses,--this is pure fiction contradicted by reality, and
which only makes those suffer who believe in it; because a wife or a son
will never be so subject to my will as my body is; therefore my own body
will always remain the only thing I can call my true property; so also
money, property,--will never be real property, but only a self-deception
and a source of suffering, and it is only my own body which will be my
property, that which always obeys me, and is connected with my

It is only to us, who are so accustomed to call other things than our
body our own, that such a wild superstition can appear to be useful for
us, and without evil results; but we have only to reflect upon the
nature of the matter to see how this, like every other superstition,
brings with it only dreadful consequences.

Let us take the most simple example. I consider myself my own, and
another man like myself I consider my own too. I must understand how to
cook my dinner: if I were free from the superstition of considering
another man as my property, I should have been taught this art as well
as every other necessary to my real property (that is, my body); but now
I have it taught to my imaginary property, and the result is that my
cook does not obey me, does not wish to humour me, and even runs away
from me, or dies, and I remain with an unsatisfied want, and have lost
the habit of learning, and recognize that I have spent as much time in
worry about this cook as I should have spent in learning the art of
cooking for myself.

The same is the case with property in buildings, clothes, wares; with
property in the land; with property in money. Every imaginary property
calls forth in me a non-corresponding want which cannot always be
gratified, and deprives me of the possibility of acquiring for my true
and sure property--my own body--that information, that skill, those
habits, improvements, which I might have acquired.

The result is always that I have spent (without gain to myself,--to my
true property) strength, sometimes my whole life, on that which never
has been, and never could be, my property.

I provide myself with an imaginary "private" library, a "private"
picture gallery, "private" apartments, clothes; acquire my "own" money
in order to purchase with it every thing I want, and the matter stands
thus,--that I, being busy about this imaginary property, which is not,
and cannot be my property, however I may call it, and which is no object
for activity, leave quite out of sight that which is my true property,
upon which I may really labour, and which really may serve me, and which
always remains in my power.

Words have always a definite meaning until we purposely give them a
false signification.

What does property mean?

Property means that which is given to me alone, which belongs to me
alone, exclusively; that with which I may always do everything I like,
which nobody can take away from me, which remains mine to the end of my
life, and which I ought to use in order to increase and to improve it.
For every man such property is only himself.

It is in this very sense that imaginary property is understood, that
very property for sake of which (making it impossible for this imaginary
property to become a real one) all the sufferings of this world
exist,--wars, executions, judgments, prisons, luxury, depravity,
murders, and the ruin of mankind.

What, then, will result from the circumstance that ten men plough, hew
wood, make boots, not from necessity, but in acknowledgment that man
needs work, and that the more he works, the better it will be for him?

This will come out of it: that ten men, or even one single man, by
thought and in deed, will show men that this fearful evil from which
they are suffering, is not the law of their destiny, nor the will of
God, nor any historical necessity, but is a superstition not at all
strong or overpowering, but weak and null, which one need only leave off
believing in, as in idols, in order to get rid of, and to destroy it
even as a frail cobweb is swept away.

Men who begin to work in order to fulfil the pleasant law of their
lives, who work for the fulfilment of the law of labour, will free
themselves from this superstition of property which is so full of
misery, and then all these worldly establishments which exist in order
to protect this imaginary property outside of one's own body, will
become not only unnecessary for them, but burdensome; and it will become
clear to all that these institutions are not necessary, but pernicious,
imaginary, and false conditions of life.

For a man who considers labour not a curse, but a joy, property outside
his own body--that is, the right or possibility of utilizing other men's
labour--will be not only useless, but an impediment. If I am fond of
cooking my dinner, and accustomed to do it, then the fact that another
man will do it for me, will deprive me of my usual business, and will
not satisfy me so well as I have satisfied myself; and further, the
acquirement of imaginary property will not be necessary for such a man:
a man who considers labour to be his very life, fills up all his life
with it, and therefore requires less and less the labour of others,--in
other words, as property to fill up his unoccupied time, and to
embellish his life.

If the life of a man is occupied by labour, he does not require many
rooms, much furniture, various fine clothes: he does not require so much
expensive food, or locomotion, or amusements. Especially a man who
considers labour to be the business and the joy of his life, will not
seek to ease his own labour by utilizing that of others.

A man who considers life to consist in labour, will aim, in proportion
as he acquires more skill, craft, and endurance, at having more and more
work to do, to occupy all his time. For such a man, who sees the object
of his life in labour, and not in the results of his labour in
acquirement of property, there cannot be even a question about the
instruments of labour. Though such a man will always choose the most
productive instrument of labour, he will have the same satisfaction in
working with the most unproductive.

If he has a steam-plough, he will plough with it; if he has not such, he
will plough with a horse-plough; if he has not this, he will plough with
the plain Russian sokhá; if he has not even this, he will use a spade:
and under any circumstances, he will attain his aim; that is, will pass
his life in labour useful to man, and therefore will have fullest
satisfaction. The position of such a man, in exterior and interior
circumstances, will be happier than the condition of a man who gives his
life away to acquire property.

According to exterior circumstances, he will never want, because men,
seeing that he does not shirk work, will always try to make his labour
most productive to them, as they arrange a mill by running water; and
that his labour may be more productive, they will provide for his
material existence, which they will never do for men who aim at
acquiring property. The providing for material wants, is all that a man

According to interior conditions, such a man will be always happier than
he who seeks for property, because the latter will never get what he is
aiming at, and the former in proportion to his strength (even the weak,
old, dying, according to the proverb, with a Kored in his hands), will
always receive full satisfaction, and the love and sympathy of men.

One of the consequences of this will be, that certain odd, half-insane
persons will plough, make boots, and so on, instead of smoking, playing
cards, and riding about, carrying their dulness with them, from one
place to another, during the ten hours which every brain worker has at
his command.

Another result will be, that these silly people will demonstrate in
deed, that that imaginary property for the sake of which men suffer, and
torment themselves and others, is not necessary for happiness, and even
impedes it, and is but a superstition; and that true property is only
one's own head, hands, feet; and that, in order to utilize this true
property usefully and joyfully, it is necessary to get rid of that false
idea of property outside one's own body, on which we waste the best
powers of our life.

Another result will be, that these men will demonstrate, that, when a
man leaves off believing in imaginary property, then only will he make
real use of his true property,--his own body, which will yield him fruit
an hundred-fold, together with happiness such as we have no idea as yet;
and he will be a useful, strong, kind man, who will everywhere stand on
his own feet, will be always a brother to everybody, will be
intelligible to all, desired by all, and dear to all.

Then men, looking at one,--at ten such "silly" men will understand what
they have all to do to unfasten that dreadful knot in which they have
all been tied by the superstition respecting property, and to get rid of
the miserable condition under which they are now groaning, and from
which they do not know how to free themselves.

There is no reasoning which can so plainly demonstrate the
unrighteousness of those who employ it as does this. The boatmen are
dragging vessels against the stream. Is it possible that there could be
found a stupid boatman who would refuse to do his part in dragging,
because he alone cannot drag the boat up against the stream? He who,
besides his rights of animal life,--to eat and to sleep,--acknowledges
any human duty, knows very well wherein such duty consists: just in the
same way as a boatman knows that he has only to get into his
breast-collar, and to walk in the given direction. He will only seek to
know what to do and how to do it after having fulfilled his duty.

As with the boatmen, and with all men who do any labour in common, so
with the labour of all mankind; each man need only keep on his
breast-collar, and go in the given direction. And for this purpose one
and the same reason is given to all men that this direction may always
be the same.

That this direction _is_ given to us, is obvious and certain from the
lives of those who surround us, as well as in the conscience of every
man, and in all the previous expressions of human wisdom; so that only
he who does not want work, can say that he does not see it.

What, then, will come out of this?

This, that first one man, then another, will drag; looking at them, a
third will join; and so one by one the best men will join, until the
business will be set a-going, and will move as of itself, inducing those
also to join who do not yet understand why and wherefore it is being

First, to the number of men who conscientiously work in order to fulfil
the law of God, will be added those who will accept half conscientiously
and half upon faith; then to these a still greater number of men, only
upon faith in the foremost men; and lastly the majority of people: and
then it will come to pass that men will cease to ruin themselves, and
will find out happiness.

This will happen (and it will happen soon) when men of our circle, and
after them all the great majority of working-people, will no longer
consider it shameful to clean sewers, but will consider it shameful to
fill them up in order that other men, _our brethren_, may carry their
contents away; they will not consider it shameful to go visiting in
common boots, but they will consider it shameful to walk in goloshes
beside barefooted people; they will not think it shameful not to know
French, nor about the last novel, but they will consider it shameful to
eat bread, and not to know how it is prepared; they will not consider it
shameful not to have a starched shirt or a clean dress, but that it is
shameful to wear a clean coat as a token of one's idleness; they will
not consider it shameful to have dirty hands, but shameful not to have
callouses on their hands.

All this will come to pass when public opinion demands it. Public
opinion will demand it, when men get rid of those snares which hide the
truth from them. Great changes in this direction have taken place within
my memory. These changes occurred only as public opinion changed. Within
my memory has happened this, that whereas rich men were ashamed if they
could not drive out with a team of four horses, with two men-servants,
and that it was considered shameful not to have a man-servant or a maid,
to dress one, wash one, attend the chamber, and so on; now of a sudden
it has become shameful not to dress and to wash oneself, without help,
or to drive out with men-servants. All these changes have been
accomplished by public opinion.

Can we not see the changes which public opinion is now preparing?
Twenty-five years ago it sufficed to destroy the snare which justified
serfdom, and public opinion changed its attitude as to what is
praiseworthy, and what is shameful, and life changed. It would suffice
to destroy the snares justifying the power of money over men, and public
opinion will change its view, concerning things praiseworthy and things
shameful, and life will change.

But the destroying of the snare justifying the power of money and the
change of public opinion in this direction is already quickly taking
place. This snare is already transparent and but slightly veils the
truth. One needs only to look more attentively to see clearly that
change of public opinion, which not only must take place, but which has
been already accomplished, only not yet consciously acknowledged, not
yet named. Let a slightly educated man of our time think of the
consequences ensuing from those views he holds concerning the universe,
and he will see, that the unconscious estimate of good and evil, of
praiseworthy and shameful, by which he is guided in life, directly
contradicts all his conceptions of life.

Let a man of our times dismiss himself, if only for a minute, from his
own inert life, and looking at it, as an outsider, subject it to that
very estimate, resulting from his conception of life, and he will stand
aghast before the definition of his life, which results from his
conception of the world.

Let us take as an example, a young man (in young people the life energy
is stronger and the self-consciousness is more vague) of the wealthy
classes, and of any shade of opinions. Every decent youth considers it a
shame not to help an old man, a child, a woman; he considers it a shame
to risk the life and health of another in common work while avoiding the
danger for himself. Everybody considers it shameful and barbarous to do
what Skyler tells about the Kirghiz: who during storms sent out their
wives and old women to hold the corners of the tent, while they remained
inside drinking their koumis; everybody considers it a shame to force a
weak man to work for him and still more shameful when in such danger,
as, say, on a ship on fire, for the strongest to push aside the weak and
go first into the life-boat, and so on. Men consider all this shameful
and would by no means act so under certain exceptional circumstances;
but in everyday life the same actions and even worse,--being hidden by
snares,--are constantly committed by them.

One need only think of it earnestly to recognize the horror of it.

A young man changes his shirts daily. Who washes them? A woman, whatever
her state may be, very often old enough to be his mother or grandmother,
often unwell. How would this young man call another who out of whim,
changes his clean shirt and sends it to be washed by a woman old enough
to be his mother?

A young man, that he may be smart, provides himself with horses and an
old man, fit to be his father or grandfather, is set to training them,
thus endangering his very life, and the young man rides on the horse
when danger is over. What would the young man say about a man who,
avoiding a dangerous situation for himself, puts another into it and for
his pleasure allows such a risk?

Yet the whole life of the well-to-do classes consists of a chain of such
actions. The overtaxing labour of old men, children and women, and work
connected with danger to life done by others, not to help us to work but
to satisfy our whims--these fill up our life. The fisherman gets drowned
while catching fish for us, the washerwomen catch colds and die, the
smith grows blind, those who work in factories get ill and injured by
machinery, woodcutters are crushed by falling trees, workmen fall from
roofs and are killed, needlewomen pine away. All real work is done with
waste and danger to life. To hide this and refuse to see it is
impossible. There is one salvation, one issue out of this situation, to
wit--that if a man of our time is not to be obliged--according to his
own principles--to call himself a scoundrel and a coward, who burdens
others with work and danger to life--he must take from men only what is
necessary for his life, and submit himself also to true labour
associated with waste and danger to life.

Within my memory, more striking changes have taken place. I remember
that at table, a servant stood with a plate, behind each chair. Men made
visits accompanied by two footmen. A Cossack boy and a girl stood in a
room to give people their pipes, and to clean them, and so on. Now this
seems to us strange and remarkable. But is it not equally strange that a
young man or woman, or even an elderly man, that he may visit a friend,
should order his horses to be harnessed, and that well-fed horses are
kept only for this purpose? Is it not as strange that one man lives in
five rooms, or that a woman spends tens, hundreds, thousands of rubles
for her dress when she only needs some flax and wool wherewith to spin
dresses for herself, and clothes for her husband and children?

Is it not strange that men live doing nothing, riding to and fro,
smoking and playing, and that a battalion of people are busy feeding and
warming them?

Is it not strange that old people quite gravely talk and write in
newspapers about theatres and music, and other insane people drive to
look at musicians or actors?

Is it not strange that tens of thousands of boys and girls are brought
up so as to make them unfit for every work (they return home from
school, and their two books are carried for them by a servant)?

There will soon come a time,--and it is already drawing near,--when it
will be shameful to dine on five courses served by footmen, and cooked
by any but the masters themselves; it will be shameful not only to ride
thoroughbreds or to drive in a coach when one has feet to walk on; to
wear on week-days dress, shoes, gloves, in which it is impossible to
work; it will be shameful to play on a piano which costs one hundred and
fifty pounds, or even ten pounds, while others work for one; to feed
dogs upon milk and white bread, when there are men who have neither milk
nor bread, and to burn lamps and candles without working by their light;
to heat stoves in which no meal is cooked, while there are men who have
neither light nor fuel. Then it will be impossible to think about giving
openly not merely one pound, but even six pence, for a place in a
concert or in a theatre. All this will be when the law of labour becomes
public opinion.


As it is said in the Bible, there is a law given unto man and woman,--to
man, the law of labour; to woman, the law of child-bearing. Although
with our science, "_nous avons changé tout ça_," the law of man as well
as of woman remains as immutable as the liver in its place; and the
breach of it is inevitably punished by death. The only difference is,
that for man, the breach of law is punished by death in such a near
future that it can almost be called present; but for woman, the breach
of law is punished in a more distant future.

A general breach, by all men, of the law, destroys men immediately: the
breach by women destroys the men of the following generation. The
evasion of the law by a few men and women does not destroy the human
race, but deprives the offender of rational human nature.

The breach of this law by men began years ago in the classes which could
use violence with others; and, spreading on its way, it has reached our
day, and has now attained madness, the ideal contained in a breach of
the law, the ideal expressed by Prince Blokhin, and shared by Renan and
the whole educated world: work will be done by machines, and men will be
bundles of nerves enjoying themselves.

There has been scarcely any breach of the law by women. It has only
manifested itself in prostitution, and in private cases of crime
destroying progeny. Women of the wealthy classes have fulfilled their
law, while men did not fulfil theirs; and therefore women have grown
stronger, and have continued to govern, and will govern, men, who have
deviated from their law, and who, consequently, have lost their reason.
It is generally said that women (the women of Paris, especially those
who are childless) have become so bewitching, using all the means of
civilization, that they have mastered man by their charms.

This is not only wrong, but it is just the reverse of the truth. It is
not the childless woman who has mastered man, it is the mother, the one
who has fulfilled her duty, while man has not fulfilled his.

As to the woman who artificially remains childless, and bewitches man by
her shoulders and curls, she is not a woman, mastering man, but a woman
corrupted by him, reduced to the level of the corrupted man, who, as
well as he, has deviated from her duty, who, as well as he, has lost
every reasonable sense of life.

This mistake also produces the astounding nonsense which is called
"woman's rights." The formula of these rights is as follows:--

"You men," says woman, "have deviated from your law of true labour, and
want us to carry the load of ours. No: if so, we also, as well as you,
will make a pretence of labour, as you do in banks, ministries,
universities, and academies; we wish, as well as you, by the pretence of
division of work, to profit by other people's work, and to live, only to
satisfy our lust." They say so, and in deed show that they can make that
pretence of labour not at all worse, but even better, than men do it.

The so-called question of women's rights arose, and could only arise,
among men who had deviated from the law of real labour. One has only to
return to it, and that question must cease to exist. A woman who has her
own particular, inevitable labour will never claim the right of sharing
man's labour,--in mines, or in ploughing fields. She claims her share
only in the sham labour of the wealthy classes.

The woman of our class was stronger than man, and is now still stronger,
not through her charms, not through her skill in performing the same
pharisaic similitude of work as man, but because she has not stepped
outside of the law; because she has borne that true labour with danger
of life, with uttermost effort; true labour, from which the man of the
wealthy classes has freed himself.

But within my memory has begun also the deviation from the law by
woman,--that is to say, her fall; and within my memory, it has proceeded
farther and farther. A woman who has lost the law, believes that her
power consists in the charms of her witchery, or in her skill at a
pharisaic pretence of intellectual labour. Children hinder the one and
the other. Therefore, with the help of science (science is always
helpful to everything wicked) within my memory it has come to pass that
among the wealthy classes, scores of means of destroying progeny have
appeared, and these means become a common attribute of the toilet. And
behold,--women, mothers, some of them of the wealthy classes, who held
their power in their hands, let it slip away, and place themselves on a
level with women of the street. The evil has spread far, and spreads
farther every day, and will soon grasp all the women of the wealthy
classes; and then they will be on a level with the men, and together
with them will lose every reasonable sense of life. There will be no
return for this class then. But there is yet time. For there still
remain more women than men who accomplish the law of their life,
therefore there are still reasonable beings among them,--and thus some
of the women of our class hold in their hands the possibility of

If only women would understand their worth, their power, and would use
these for the work of salvation of their husbands, brothers, and
children,--the salvation of all men!

Women, mothers of the wealthy classes, in your hands is the salvation of
men of our world from the evils from which it suffers.

Not those women who are occupied by their figures, bustles,
head-dresses, and their charms for men, and who, against their will, by
accident and in despair, bear children, and then give them over to
wet-nurses; nor yet those who go to different lectures, and talk of
psychometrical centres of differentiation, and who also try to free
themselves from bearing children not to hinder their folly, which they
call development,--but those women and mothers who, having the power of
freeing themselves from child-bearing, hold strictly and consciously to
that eternal, immutable law, knowing that the weight and labour of that
submission is the aim of their life. These women and mothers of our
wealthy classes are those in whose hands, more than in any others, lies
the salvation of the men of our sphere in life, from the calamities
which oppress them.

You women and mothers who submit consciously to the law of God, you are
the only ones who,--in our miserable, mutilated circle, which has lost
all semblance of humanity,--know the whole true meaning of life
according to the law of God; and you are the only ones who, by your
example, can show men the happiness of that submission to God's law, of
which they rob themselves.

You are the only ones who know the joy and happiness which takes
possession of one's whole being,--the bliss which is the share of every
man who does not deviate from God's law. You know the joy of love to
your husband,--a joy never ending, never destroyed, like all other joys,
but forming the beginning of another new joy--love to your child. You
are the only ones, when you are simple and submissive to God's law, who
know, not the farcical pretence of labour, which men of your world call
labour, but that true labour which is imposed by God upon men, and you
know the rewards for it,--the bliss which it gives.

You know it, when after the joys of love, you expect with emotion, fear,
and hope, the torturing state of pregnancy, which makes you ill for nine
months, and brings you to the brink of death and to unbearable
sufferings and pains: you know the conditions of true labour, when with
joy you expect the approach and increase of the most dreadful
sufferings, after which comes the bliss, known to you only.

You know it when, directly after those sufferings, without rest, without
interruption, you undertake another series of labours and
sufferings,--those of nursing; for the sake of which you subjugate to
your feeling, and renounce, the strongest human necessity,--that of
sleep, which, according to the saying, is sweeter than father and
mother. For months and years you do not sleep two nights running, and
often you do not sleep whole nights; walking alone to and fro, rocking
in your wearied arms an ailing baby, whose sufferings tear your heart.
When you do all this, unapproved and unseen by anybody, not expecting
any praise or reward for it; when you do this, not as a great deed, but
as the labourer of the gospel parable, who came from the field,
considering that you are only doing your duty,--you know then what is
false, fictitious labour,--for human fame; and what is true labour,--the
fulfilment of God's will, the indication of which you feel in your
heart. You know, if you are a true mother, that not only has nobody seen
and praised your labour, considering that it is only what ought to be,
but even those for whom you toiled are not only ungrateful to you, but
often torment and reproach you. With the next child you do the
same,--again you suffer, again you bear unseen, terrible toil, and again
you do not expect any reward from anybody, and feel the same

If you are such, in your hands must lie the power over men, and in your
hands lies the salvation. Your number is decreasing every day: some busy
with practising their charms over men, become prostitutes; others are
engaged in competition with men in their artificial, ludicrous
occupations; the third, who have not yet renounced their vocation, begin
to repudiate it in their minds: they perform all the deeds of women and
mothers, but accidentally, with grumblings and envy of the free women,
not bearing children,--and so deprive themselves of the only reward for
them--the inner consciousness of the fulfilment of God's will--and
instead of being satisfied they suffer from what is really their

We are so confused by our false life, we, men of our circle, have all of
us so utterly lost the sense of life, that we do not differ from one
another. Having loaded others with all the burdens and dangers of life,
we dare not call ourselves by the true names deserved by those who force
others to perish in providing life for them--scoundrels, cowards.

But among women a distinction still exists. There are women,--human
beings, women,--presenting the highest manifestation of a human being;
and there are women--prostitutes. This discrimination will be made by
succeeding generations, and we, too, cannot help making it.

Every woman, however she dresses, however she calls herself, however
refined she may be, if being married she abstains from bearing children,
is a prostitute.

However low a lost woman may be, if she consciously devotes herself to
bearing children, she does the best and highest work of life in
fulfilling the will of God, and she has no superior.

If you are such, you will not say, after two or after twenty children,
that you have borne children enough; as a fifty-year old workman will
not say that he has worked enough, while he still eats and sleeps, and
his muscles demand work. If you are such, you will not cast the trouble
of nursing and care on a strange mother,--any more than a workman will
give the work which he has begun, and nearly finished, to another
man,--because in that work you put your life, and because, the more you
have of that work, the fuller and happier is your life.

But when you are like this,--and, happily for men, there are yet such
women,--the same law of fulfilment of God's will, by which you guide
your own life, you will also apply to the life of your husband, of your
children, and of men near to you. If you are such, and if you know by
experience that only self-denied, unseen, unrewarded labour with danger
of life, and uttermost effort for the life of others, is the mission of
man which gives satisfaction, you will claim the same from others, you
will encourage your husband to do the same labour, you will value and
appreciate the worth of men by this same labour, and for it you will
prepare your children.

Only that mother who looks on child-bearing as a disagreeable accident,
and upon the pleasures of love, comfort, education, sociability, as the
meaning of life, will bring up her children so that they shall have as
many pleasures, and enjoy them as much as possible; will feed them
luxuriously, dress them smartly, will artificially divert them, and will
teach them, not that which will make them capable of self-sacrificing
man's and woman's labour with danger of life and uttermost effort, but
that which will deliver them from that labour,--which will give them
diplomas and idleness. Only such a woman, who has lost the significance
of her life, will sympathize with that false, sham man's labour, by
means of which her husband, freeing himself from man's duty, may profit,
together with her, by the labour of others. Only such a woman will
choose a similar husband for her daughter, and will value men, not for
what they are in themselves, but for what is attached to
them,--position, money, the art of profiting by the labour of others.

A true mother, who really knows God's law, will prepare her children for
the fulfilment of it. For such a mother it will be suffering to see her
child overfed, pampered, overdressed, because all this, she knows, will
hinder it in the fulfilment of God's law, experienced by herself. Such a
woman will not teach that which will give her son or daughter the
possibility of delivering themselves from labour, but that which will
help them to bear the labour of life.

She will not want to ask what to teach her children, or for what to
prepare them, knowing what it is and in what consists the mission of
men, and consequently knowing what to teach her children, and for what
to prepare them. Such a woman will not only discourage her husband from
false, sham labour, the only aim of which is to profit by other people's
work, but will view with disgust and dread an activity that will serve
as a double temptation for her children. Such a woman will not choose
her daughter's husband according to the whiteness of his hands, and the
refinement of his manners, but, knowing thoroughly what is labour and
what deceit, will always and everywhere, beginning with her husband,
respect and appreciate men, in claiming from them true labour with waste
and danger of life, and will scorn that false, sham labour which has for
its aim the delivering of one's self from true labour.

And let not those women say,--who, while renouncing the vocation of
women, desire to profit by its rights,--that such a view of life is
impossible for a mother, that a mother is too intimately connected by
love to her children to deprive them of sweets, smart dresses, or
entertainments, or not to fear their being unprovided for, if the
husband has no fortune or secure position, or not to be afraid for the
future of the marrying daughters and sons, who have not got an

All this is a lie, a burning lie!

A true mother will never say this: "You cannot keep yourself from the
desire to give them sweets, toys, to take them to the circus?"

But surely you don't give them poisonous berries to eat, you do not let
them go out alone in a boat, you do not take them to a café chantant?
Why then can you restrain yourselves in this case and not in that?
Because you do not tell the truth. You say that you love the children so
much that you fear for their life, you are so afraid of hunger, and
cold, and that is why you appreciate so much the security, which your
husband's position provides for you, though you consider it unlawful.

You are so afraid of future eventualities, calamities for your children
which are very distant and doubtful,--and you therefore encourage your
husband to do things unjustifiable in your opinion; but what are you
doing now to secure your children in their present conditions of life
from the unfortunate eventualities of the present life?

Do you spend much of your time during the day with your children? You do
well if you spend one-tenth of the day!

The remaining time they are under the care of strangers, hired people,
often taken from the street, or they are in institutions, open to the
dangers of moral and physical infection.

Your children eat, they are nourished. Who cooks their dinner and what
from? Mostly you know nothing about it. Who instills moral principles
into them? Neither do you know that!

Then do not say, that you are suffering evil for the good of your
children--it is not true. You do evil because you like it.

A true mother, the one who in bearing and bringing up children sees her
self-sacrificing vocation of life and the fulfilment of God's will--will
not say it.

She will not say it, because she knows it is not her business to make of
her children what she herself or current opinions require. She knows
that children, i.e., the following generations,--are the greatest and
most sacred thing which is given to men to behold in reality: and, to
serve with all her being, this sacred cause is her life.

She knows herself,--being constantly between life and death and ever
rearing the feebly flickering life,--that life and death are not her
business, her business is to serve life, and she will not therefore
search for distant paths of this service but will only endeavour not to
avoid the near one.

Such a mother _will bring forth and nurse her children herself_, and,
above all things else, will feed and provide for them, will work for
them, wash and teach them, will sleep and talk with them, because she
makes that her life-work. Only such a mother will not seek for her
children external security through her husband's money, or her
children's diplomas, but she will exercise in them the same capacity of
self-sacrificing fulfilment of God's will which she knows in herself,
the capacity for bearing labour with waste and danger of life, because
she knows that only in that lie the security and welfare of life. Such a
mother will not have to ask others what is her duty: she will know every
thing, and will fear nothing, for she will always know that she has done
what she was called to do.

If there can be doubts for a man or for a childless woman about the way
to fulfil God's will, for a mother that way is firmly and clearly drawn;
and if she fulfils it humbly, with a simple heart, standing on the
highest point of good, which it is only given to a human being to
attain, she becomes the guiding-star for all men, tending to the same
good. Only a mother can before her death say to Him who sent her into
this world, and to Him whom she has served by bearing and bringing up
children, beloved by her more than herself,--only she can peacefully
say, after having served Him in her appointed service,--

"'Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.'"

And this is that highest perfection, to which, as to the highest good,
men aspire.

Such women who fulfil their mission, are those who reign over reigning
men, and serve as a guiding-star to humanity,--those who prepare new
generations of men and form public opinion: and therefore in the hands
of these women lies the highest power of men's salvation from the
existing and threatening evils of our time.

Yes, women, mothers, in your hands, more than in those of any others,
lies the salvation of the world!


The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people. With this
general proposition, I think all who are not immoral people will agree.
The difference between men and women in the fulfilment of that vocation,
is only in the means by which they attain it; that is to say, by which
they serve men.

Man serves others by physical work,--procuring food; by intellectual
work,--studying the laws of nature in order to master it; and by social
work,--instituting forms of life, and establishing mutual relationships
between people.

The means of serving others are various for men. The whole activity of
mankind, with the exception of bearing children and rearing them, is
open for his service to men. A woman, in addition to the possibility of
serving men by all the means open to man is, by the construction of her
body, called and inevitably attracted, to serve others by that which
alone is excepted from the domain of the service of man.

The service of mankind is divided into two parts,--one, the augmentation
of the welfare of mankind; the other, the continuation of the race. Men
are called chiefly to the first, as they are deprived of the possibility
of fulfilling the second. Women are called exclusively to the second, as
they only are fitted for it. This difference one should not, one can
not, forget or destroy; and it would be sinful to do so. From this
difference proceed the duties of each,--duties not invented by men, but
which are in the nature of things. From the same difference proceeds the
estimation of virtue and vice for woman and man,--the estimation which
has existed in every century, which exists now, and which will never
cease to exist while reason exists in men.

It always has been the case, and it always will be, that a man who
spends a great part of his life in the various physical and mental
labours which are natural to him, and a woman who spends a great part of
her life in the labour of bearing, nursing, and rearing children, which
is her exclusive prerogative, will alike feel that they are doing their
duty, and will alike rise in the esteem and love of other people,
because they both fulfil what is appointed because such is the substance
of the matter.

The vocation of man is broader and more varied; the vocation of woman
more uniform and narrower, but more profound: and therefore it has
always been, and always will be, the case, that man, having hundreds of
duties, will be neither a bad nor a pernicious man, even when he has
been false to one or ten out of them, if he fulfils the greater part of
his vocation; while woman, as she has a smaller number of duties, if she
is false to one of them, instantly falls lower than a man, who has been
false to ten out of his hundreds of duties. Such has always been the
general opinion, and such it will always remain,--because such is the
substance of the matter.

A man, in order to fulfil God's will, must serve him in the domain of
physical work, thought and morality: in all these ways he can fulfil his
vocation. Woman's service to God consists chiefly and almost exclusively
in bearing children (because no one except herself can render it). Only
by means of work, is man called to serve God and his fellow-men: only by
means of her children, is a woman called to serve them.

Therefore, that love to her own children which is inborn in woman, that
exclusive love against which it is quite vain to strive by reasoning,
will always be, and ought to be, natural to a woman and a mother. That
love to a child in its infancy is not egotism, it is the love of a
workman for the work which he is doing while it is in his hands. Take
away that love for the object of one's work, and the work becomes
impossible. While I am making a boot, I love it above everything. If I
did not love it, I could not work at it. If anybody spoils it for me, I
am in despair; but I only love it thus while I am working at it. When it
is completed, there remains an attachment, a preference, which is weak
and illegitimate.

It is the same with a mother. A man is called to serve others by
multifarious labours, and he loves those labours while he is
accomplishing them. A woman is called to serve others by her children,
and she cannot help loving those children of hers while she is rearing
them to the age of three, seven, or ten years.

In the general vocation of serving God and others, man and woman are
entirely equal, notwithstanding the difference of the form of that
service. The equality consists in the equal importance of one service
and of the other,--that the one is impossible without the other, that
the one depends upon the other, and that for efficient service, as well
for man as for woman, the knowledge of truth is equally necessary.

Without this knowledge, the activity of man and woman becomes not useful
but pernicious for mankind. Man is called to fulfil his multifarious
labour; but his labour is only useful, and his physical, mental, and
social labour is only fruitful, when it is fulfilled in the name of
truth and the welfare of others.

A man can occupy himself as zealously as he will to increase his
pleasures by vain reasoning and with social activity for his own
advantage: his labour will not be fruitful. It will be so only when it
is directed towards lessening the suffering of others through want and
ignorance and from false social organization.

The same with woman's vocation: her bearing, nursing, and bringing up
children will only be useful to mankind when she gives birth to children
not only for her own pleasure, but when she prepares future servants of
mankind; when the education of those children is done in the name of
truth and for the welfare of others,--that is to say, when she will
educate her children in such a manner that they shall be the very best
men possible, and the very best labourers for others.

The ideal woman, in my opinion, is the one who,--appropriating the
highest view of life of the time in which she lives, yet gives herself
to her feminine mission, which is irresistibly placed in her,--that of
bringing forth, nursing and educating, the greatest possible number of
children, fitted to work for people according to the view which she has
of life.

In order to appropriate the highest view of life, I think there is no
need of visiting lectures: all that she requires is to read the gospel,
and not to shut her eyes, ears, and, most of all, her heart.

Well, and if you ask what those are to do who have no children, who are
not married, or who are widows, I answer that those will do well to
share man's multifarious labour. But one cannot help feeling sorry that
such a precious tool as woman is, should be bereft of the possibility of
fulfilling the great vocation which it is given to her alone to fulfil.

Especially as every woman, when she has finished bearing children, if
she has strength left, will have time to occupy herself with help in
man's labour. Woman's help in that labour is very precious; but it will
always be a pity to see a young woman fit for child-bearing occupied by
man's labour.

To see such a woman, is the same as to see precious vegetable soil
covered with stones as a place of parade or as a walking-ground. Still
more a pity, because the earth could only produce bread, and a woman
could produce that for which there cannot be any equivalent, than which
there is nothing higher,--man. And only she is able to do this.




  King Assarhadon,
  and other Two Stories.

  With Introduction, including quotations from the Letters of Leo Tolstoy.

  Authorized Translation
  V. TCHERTKOFF (Editor of "The Free Age Press.")
  AND I. F. M.

  With Frontispiece, on Plate Paper, of the latest Portrait of Tolstoy on
  Horseback, August, 1903.

  By request of Tolstoy, the profits of this work will be devoted to the
  relief of the families of the Jews massacred in Russia.

  The Free Age Press,

  [ Transcriber's Note:

    The following is a list of corrections made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

  strive to eradicate, each from himself, those false ideas, alse
  strive to eradicate, each from himself, those false ideas, false

  permanent cloth-bound volumes,
  permanent cloth-bound volumes.

  raiment? (Matt. vi, 19-25.)
  raiment?" (Matt. vi. 19-25.)

  a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Luke xviii. 25).
  a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Luke xviii. 25.)

  began to speak, he was shouldered aside by a big, black, hook-nosed
  began to speak, he was shouldered aside by a big, black, hook-nosed,

  protection. They attempted to drag me out of the crush,. But the crowd
  protection. They attempted to drag me out of the crush. But the crowd

  pauperism in Moscow, and te help exterminate it by personal effort and
  pauperism in Moscow, and to help exterminate it by personal effort and

  with his air of decreptitude, feebleness, and poverty. Here he appeared
  with his air of decrepitude, feebleness, and poverty. Here he appeared

  He was evidently pleased to have intercouse with the world which used
  He was evidently pleased to have intercourse with the world which used

  women and men. As we approached them, Ivan Fedotitch said, "Now, here's
  women and men. As we approached them, Iván Fedotitch said, "Now, here's

  No: it is that woman's there."
  "No: it is that woman's there."

  called the _dens_ in Rzhanoff's house; where, however, three-forths of
  called the _dens_ in Rzhanoff's house; where, however, three-fourths of

  And, strange to say, thought it might seem that to do good and to give
  And, strange to say, though it might seem that to do good and to give

  through the people. He did not notice me and said hurredly,--
  through the people. He did not notice me and said hurriedly,--

  Chistmas-tree, and so on. Yet a man who needs ten rubles to buy bread
  Christmas-tree, and so on. Yet a man who needs ten rubles to buy bread

  will try to find for the poor people some work to do.
  will try to find for the poor people some work to do."

  more than a mere passer-by, and, if as, it often happened, he shed tears
  more than a mere passer-by, and, if, as it often happened, he shed tears

  happened to give money or anything else to the poor,, and in my
  happened to give money or anything else to the poor, and in my

  little good ;such as, for instance, the poor prostitute did who nursed a
  little good; such as, for instance, the poor prostitute did who nursed a

  I see that there is going on something like what would take place in a
  I see that there is going on something like what would take place in an

  incomprehensible and painful.
  incomprehensible, and painful.

  rent (the value of the ground) belongs to the land.owner; interest
  rent (the value of the ground) belongs to the land-owner; interest

  that some men by means of money, acquire an imaginary right to land and
  that some men, by means of money, acquire an imaginary right to land and

  colonists, began to try to raise money in Melbourne among the mrechants,
  colonists, began to try to raise money in Melbourne among the merchants,

  This phenomena repeats itself in America, in China, in Central Asia;
  This phenomenon repeats itself in America, in China, in Central Asia;

  If the object of this sham pseudo--science of Political Economy had not
  If the object of this sham pseudo-science of Political Economy had not

  the meaning of a ransom from violence..
  the meaning of a ransom from violence.

  assessors of direct taxation, supervisers, custom-house clerks, managers
  assessors of direct taxation, supervisors, custom-house clerks, managers

  Its advantages for the oppressed is only that he is allowed greater
  Its advantage for the oppressed is only that he is allowed greater

  This third method of enslaving men is also very old,, and comes into
  This third method of enslaving men is also very old, and comes into

  benefit a man who, against his will, has been obiged to pay a sovereign
  benefit a man who, against his will, has been obliged to pay a sovereign

  The violent seizures of the labourers' land has been justified as the
  The violent seizure of the labourers' land has been justified as the

  slave-owner claims a right to the work of Peter, Ivan, Sidor. But
  slave-owner claims a right to the work of Peter, Iván, Sidor. But

  knows about his right on Ivan, at the same time it removes all those
  knows about his right on Iván, at the same time it removes all those

  So it is with money. I have a magical, everlasting rouble; I cut off
  So it is with money. I have a magical, everlasting ruble; I cut off

  surrounding him, there exists a most clear simple, and easy means, the
  surrounding him, there exists a most clear, simple, and easy means, the

  whom Moscow is filled, and the woman into the position of the girl whom
  whom Moscow is filled, and the women into the position of the girl whom

  getting themselves up as no girl and no women who is not yet depraved
  getting themselves up as no girl and no woman who is not yet depraved

  sweatmeats, cigarettes, and clean shirts, when their production is
  sweetmeats, cigarettes, and clean shirts, when their production is

  It maybe that I shall eat human flesh when urged by hunger; but I shall
  It may be that I shall eat human flesh when urged by hunger; but I shall

  healed Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities
  healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities

  perish in the struggle.
  perish in the struggle?

  A great many justifications have been invented However strange it may
  A great many justifications have been invented. However strange it may

  soothsayers, the emperors of Rome and those of the Middle ages and their
  soothsayers, the emperors of Rome and those of the Middle Ages and their

  appropriated the the labour of others, we find ourselves better able to
  appropriated the labour of others, we find ourselves better able to

  undoubtedly done by them. On what grounds do they believe this. To the
  undoubtedly done by them. On what grounds do they believe this? To the


  will only inquire, "What Spirit?" "Where did it come from"? "With what
  will only inquire, "What Spirit?" "Where did it come from?" "With what

  many separate organism; so, for instance, out of a swarm of bees a
  many separate organisms; so, for instance, out of a swarm of bees a

  therefore it must exist in human societies too." That may be so; but the
  therefore it must exist in human societies too. That may be so; but the

  given, to Catharine the Empress, or to the rebel Pugatchof? And no
  given, to Catherine the Empress, or to the rebel Pugatchof? And no

  offer to feed him in compensation for what the y ask him to do for them.
  offer to feed him in compensation for what they ask him to do for them.

  accustomed. Give me bodily food, and and in return I will give you the
  accustomed. Give me bodily food, and in return I will give you the

  forced to keep up these schools? They they will be still poorer, and
  forced to keep up these schools? Then they will be still poorer, and

  themselves from labour bceause they promised to provide mental food for
  themselves from labour because they promised to provide mental food for

  other cells similar to you
  other cells similar to you.

  All the complex, disjointed, intricate, and meaningless phenomna of
  All the complex, disjointed, intricate, and meaningless phenomena of

  seemed to me so difficult and complicated To the question, "What have
  seemed to me so difficult and complicated. To the question, "What have

  life," then it is better not to live at all," is the witness borne by the
  life, then it is better not to live at all," is the witness borne by the

  Do you spend much of your time during the day with your children. You do
  Do you spend much of your time during the day with your children? You do


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