Land and Liberty


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Land and Liberty

 

(Zemlia i volia), a secret revolutionary society in Russia in the early 1860’s. Land and Liberty, which was founded around the end of 1861, owed its appearance and its early activities to the revolutionary situation existing in Russia from 1859 to 1861. Both a local committee and the central committee of Land and Liberty were located in St. Petersburg. Committees and groups of the organization also existed in Moscow, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm’, and several cities in the Ukraine. N. A. Serno-Solov’evich, his brother A. A. Serno-Solov’evich, A. A. Sleptsov, N. N. Obruchev, and V. N. Kurochkin played important roles in the founding of Land and Liberty. N. G. Chernyshevskii inspired the organization’s founders. At the same time the leaders of Land and Liberty had ties with A. I. Herzen and N. P. Ogarev, the editors of Kolokol (The Bell) in London. M. A. Bakunin also maintained close contact with Land and Liberty.

After the arrests of Chernyshevskii, N. A. Serno-Solov’-evich, and S. S. Rymarenko in the middle of 1862 and the emigration of A. A. Serno-Solov’evich, N. I. Utin and G. E. Blagosvetlov became part of the leadership of Land and Liberty. In the late summer and early autumn of 1862, the nucleus of Land and Liberty took definitive form under the name “Russian Central People’s Committee.” It was evidently only at this time that Land and Liberty was confirmed as the name of the society. The leaders proposed the unification on federal principles of the circles in both capitals and in the provinces and the creation of a common leadership organization. A Russian military revolutionary organization which had arisen in Poland under the leadership of A. A. Potebnia merged with Land and Liberty at the end of 1862.

The members of Land and Liberty pursued illegal publishing activities directed at the people, the troops, and the “educated classes.” They issued a number of proclamations and two issues of the leaflet Svoboda (Freedom), and they published the journal Zemlia i volia. They also conducted verbal propaganda among various elements of the population. Land and Liberty assisted the formulation of the social and political positions for the advanced section of the intelligentsia that gave expression to the vital interests of the peasant masses in Russia.

During the early states of their activity, the members of Land and Liberty adopted Ogarev’s article “What Do the People Need?” as a general platform. This article, which was published in Kolokol in the middle of 1861, before the founding of Land and Liberty, demanded that the peasants be allotted all the land that they formerly used, that the army be reduced to half its size, that the people be freed from the bureaucracy, and that genuine peasant self-government be established. The article called for a gathering of forces “to defend—against the tsar and the nobility—the communes’ land, the people’s freedom, and human justice.” Land and Liberty later advanced the slogan of a classless “Assembly of the Land,” or “National Assembly,” to be convened after the revolutionary overthrow of the autocracy. In the beginning of 1863, Herzen and Ogarev (at this time, the Council of Land and Liberty was created in affiliation with the editorial board of Kolokol) explained the essence of the Land and Liberty program as “the right of everyone to land, and an elected federal government.”

In 1863 questions concerning uprisings in Poland, Lithuania, and Byelorussia occupied an important place in the deliberations of Land and Liberty. Not long before the January 1863 uprising in Poland, the center of Land and Liberty in St. Petersburg conducted negotiations with repsentatives of the Polish national liberation movement, establishing friendly and allied relations with them. Herzen, Ogarev, Bakunin, and Potebnia, who were abroad, had previously established such relations. Revolutionaries in the Russian army in Poland, who had ideological ties with Land and Liberty and Kolokol, came out in support of the rebels.

During 1863, the revolutionary situation in Russia virtually exhausted itself. The general peasant uprising, toward which Land and Liberty was oriented, did not take place, and the Polish uprising was suppressed. Under these conditions, the revolutionary work of Land and Liberty began to die down. Many members of the society were arrested or were forced to emigrate, and by the spring of 1864, Land and Liberty had dissolved itself. The activities of Land and Liberty in the 1860’s, which rallied the most active democratic elements to prepare for a revolutionary onslaught against autocracy, greatly influenced the subsequent liberation movement in Russia.

REFERENCES

Lenin i msskaia obshchestvenno-politicheskaia mysl XlX-nachala XX vv. Leningrad, 1969.
Revoliutsionnaia situatsiia v Rossii v 1859–1861 gg. (Collection of articles) [Books 1–5], Moscow, 1960–70.
Lemke, M. Ocherki osvoboditel’nogo dvizheniia “shestidesiatykh godov,” 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1908.
Nechkina, M. V. “‘Zemlia i Volia’ 1860-kh gg.” Istoriia SSSR, 1957, no. 1.
Koz’min, B. P. Iz istorii revoliutsionnoi mysli v Rossii: Izbr. trudy. Moscow, 1961.
Linkov, la. I. Revoliutsionnaia bor’ba A. I. Gertsena i N. P. Ogareva i tainoe obshchestvo “Zemlia i Volia” 1860-kh gg. Moscow, 1964.
Rudnitskaia, E. L. N. P. Ogarev v russkom revoliutsionnom dvizhenii. Moscow, 1969.

SH. M. LEVIN


Land and Liberty

 

(Zemlia i volia), a secret populist revolutionary society, founded in St. Petersburg in 1876. The name “Land and Liberty” was adopted by the society at the end of 1878, with the appearance of the newspaper of the same name. Previously the organization had been known as the Northern Revolutionary Populist Group and the Society of Populists. Prominent figures of Land and Liberty from its inception included M. A. Natanson, O. A. Natanson, A. D. Mikhailov, A. D. Oboleshev, G. V. Plekhanov, A. A. Kviatkovskii, D. A. Lizogub, V. A. Osinskii, and 0. V. Aptekman. Several former members of the Chaikovskii circle, including S. M. Kravchinskii, D. A. Klements, N. A. Morozov, S. L. Perovskaia, L. A. Tikhomirov, and M. F. Frolenko, joined the organization later. V. N. Figner’s circle, which included A. I. Ivanchin-Pisarev, lu. N. Bogdanovich, and A. K. Solov’ev, agreed with the platform of Land and Liberty and collaborated with the society. Land and Liberty had close ties with revolutionaries in Kiev, Kharkov, and Odessa.

The formation of Land and Liberty was preceded by analysis of the “going to the people” movement (1873–75) and definition of the foundations of a political platform called populist. The members of Land and Liberty accepted the possibility of a special (noncapitalist) path of development for Russia, the basis of which would be the peasant commune. They considered it necessary to adapt the movement’s aims and slogans to the independent revolutionary aspirations that they believed already existed among the peasantry. These aspirations, summarized in the slogan “Land and Liberty!,” narrowed the program of the organization to the transfer and “even” distribution of all land “into the hands of the rural working classes,” the establishment of “complete communal self-government,” and the division of the empire into sections “corresponding to local desires.”

Land and Liberty supported the creation of permanent “settlements” of revolutionaries in the countryside to prepare a popular revolution. The organization’s members saw the peasantry as the basic revolutionary force and relegated the workers’ movement to a subordinate role. Proceeding from the assumption that a “violent overturn” was inevitable, the members of Land and Liberty assigned “agitation” to a particularly important place in their program. This agitation was to be achieved primarily “through deeds,” such as riots, demonstrations, and strikes. They represented the seditious elements of the revolutionary movement of the 1870’s. V. I. Lenin observed that the important contribution of the members of Land and Liberty was their attempt “to enlist all the discontented into the organization and to direct this organization to decisive struggle against the autocracy” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 6, p. 135). The principles of the organization were discipline, mutual comradely monitoring, centralism, and conspiracy.

The members of Land and Liberty chose Saratov, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Astrakhan, Tambov, Voronezh, and Pskov provinces, as well as the Don region, for the establishment of their settlements. They also pursued revolutionary activity in the Northern Caucasus and the Urals, and they published and distributed underground revolutionary literature on a very broad scale (for example, Zemlia i volia and Listok “Zemli i voli”). Land and Liberty carried on propaganda and agitation among the workers, participating in several strikes in St. Petersburg in 1878 and 1879. The organization also influenced the development of the student movement, organizing and supporting demonstrations in St. Petersburg, including the Kazan Demonstration of 1876, during which Land and Liberty openly announced its existence for the first time.

The program of Land and Liberty also envisaged actions directed, in the opinion of its members, at the “disorganization of the state,” particularly, at the elimination of “the most harmful or prominent figures in the government.” The most significant terrorist act of Land and Liberty was the assassination of the chief of gendarmes, N. V. Mezentsov, in 1878. However, Land and Liberty did not at this time look upon terror as a method of political struggle against the existing system, but rather considered it as a means of self-defense for revolutionaries and of vengeance against the government. The inception and development of new currents within the organization were promoted by disappointment with revolutionary activity in the countryside, increased government repression, sharp intensification of political discontent during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), and the maturing of the revolutionary situation. A faction of political terrorists gradually formed within Land and Liberty. In March 1879, they founded their own publication Listok “Zemli i voli”. Differences between the “villagers” (Plekhanov, M. R. Popov, Aptekman, and others), who supported the previous line of the society, and the “politicals” (Mikhailov, Morozov, Tikhomirov, Kviatkovskii, and others), who advocated the systematic use of terrorist methods in the political struggle, prompted the convocation of the Voronezh Congress in June 1879. This meeting resulted only in a short-lived formal compromise between these two groups. In August 1879, Land and Liberty finally split into two independent organizations, People’s Will (Narodnaia volia) and Black Repartition (Chernyi peredel).

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Chto delat’?” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 6.
Lenin, V. I. “Shag vpered, dva shaga nazad.” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 8.
Arkhiv “Zemli i voli” i “Narodnoi voli.” Moscow, 1932.
Revoliutsionnoe narodnichestvo 70-kh gg. XIX v. (1876–1882),vol. 2. Moscow, 1965. (Collection of documents.)
Aptekman, O. V. Obshchestvo “Zemlia i volia” 70-kh gg., 2nd ed. Petrograd, 1924.
Levin, Sh. M. Obshchestvennoe dvizhenie v Rossii v 60–70-e gg XIX v. Moscow, 1958.
Tkachenko, P. S. Revoliutsionnaia narodnicheskaia organizatsiia “Zemlia i volia” (1876–1879 gg.). Moscow, 1961.
Livshits, G. M., and K. G. Liashenko. “Kak sozdavalas’ programma vtoroi ‘Zemli i voli’.” Voprosy istorii, 1965, no. 9.
Tvardovskaia, V. A. Sotsialisticheskaia mysl’ Rossii na rubezhe 1870–1880-kh gg. Moscow, 1969.

SH. M. LEVIN

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