Milestones

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Milestones

 

(Russian, Vekhi; full title, Milestones: A Collection of Articles About the Russian Intelligentsia), published in Moscow in 1909 by a group of journalists and philosophers of a religious-idealistic trend (N. A. Berdiev, S. N. Bulgakov, M. O. Gershenzon, A. S. Izgoev, B. A. Kistiakovskii, P. B. Struve, and S. L. Frank). The book came out against the revolution from positions close to those of the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets).

The contributers to Milestones considered the Revolution of 1905-07 a mistake and asserted that it was the product of the activity of the socialist-minded intelligentsia, who “were the nerves and brain of the gigantic body of the revolution … ; therefore, its history is the historical judgment over that intelligentsia” (Milestones, p. 25). The socialist-minded intelligentsia were charged with “the idolization of the people”; the Narodniks (Populists), with false love of the peasantry; and the Marxists, with false love of the proletariat. They were described as ideological “renegades” (ibid., p. 160) and were called a “circle,” one “artificially separated from the life of the nation … , ‘pseudointellectuals’ as contrasted to the intelligentsia in the broad, national, historical sense of the word” (ibid., p. 1). The Milestones writers considered this ideology historically futile. In their view, it was the tragedy of the Russian intelligentsia that the masses could accept neither its concern for their welfare nor its representations of an ideal social system; the tragedy of the Russian intelligentsia lay in the fundamental abyss between the structure of the people’s soul and the will and emotional qualities of the intellectual. Milestones sharply criticized the materialism and atheism of V. G. Belinskii, N. G. Chernyshevskii, and G. V. Plekhanov, as well as Marxism both as an ideology and as a political strategy. The followers of the materialist and atheist lines in philosophy were charged with philosophical illiteracy, the subordination of philosophy to utilitarian social aims, and artificial ideas about the welfare of the people. The Milestones group considered its main principle the recognition of the primacy of spiritual life over social life—“in the sense that the inner life of the individual is the sole creative force of human existence …” (ibid., page II). The Milestones ideology was sharply criticized by V. I. Lenin, who pointed out its connection with Russian “Cadetism.” This “encyclopedia of liberal renegadism,” wrote Lenin, “encompasses three basic themes: (1) struggling against the ideological principles of the entire world outlook of the Russian (and international) democracy; (2) renouncing the emancipation movement of recent years and covering it with garbage; (3) openly proclaiming their ‘lacky feelings’ (and their corresponding ‘lacky’ politics) with regard to the October bourgeoisie (conservative reformers), to the old government, and to all of old Russia in general” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 19, p. 168).

Most of the Milestones writers were ideological enemies of the October Revolution and subsequently emigrated.

REFERENCE

Lenin, V. I. “Eshche odno unichtozhenie sotsializma.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 25.

I. F. BALAKINA