(real name Vasilii Vasil’evich [Vil’gel’m Vil’gel’movich] Bervi). Born Apr. 28 (May 10), 1829, in Riazan’; died Oct. 4, 1918, in Iuzovka, now Donetsk. Russian sociologist, economist, and publicist. Representative of Russian Utopian socialism.
Of noble birth, Flerovskii graduated from the faculty of law at the University of Kazan in 1849 and served in the ministry of justice. In the fall of 1861 he came out in defense of the students involved in disturbances at St. Petersburg University. In 1862 he was arrested for forwarding a petition to Emperor Alexander II in which he expressed sympathy for the mediators of Tver’ (seeMEDIATORS OF TVER’); he lived in exile until 1887.
In the late 1860’s, Flerovskii aligned himself with the revolutionary Narodniki (Populists). With their help, he published The Position of the Working Class in Russia (1869), which was highly regarded by K. Marx (see K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 16, pp. 427–28; vol. 32, pp. 357–58), and ABC of the Social Sciences (parts 1–2, 1871). In 1873, at the request of the Dolgushintsy (seeDOLGUSHINTSY), Flerovskii wrote the pamphlet How One Should Live According to the Laws of Nature and Truth, which appealed for a reorganization of society and preached a new religion of brotherhood and freedom.
From the 1860’s to the 1880’s, Flerovskii was published in the democratic journals Delo (Affairs), Otechestvennye zapiski (Notes of the Fatherland), and Znanie (Knowledge). Many of his works were banned by the tsarist censorship. From 1893 to 1896, Flerovskii lived in London, working with the Foundation of the Free Russian Press.
In his sociological writings, Flerovskii opposed social Darwinism, proposing an “alliance for existence” as a substitute for the “struggle for existence.” He adopted a Populist stance in criticizing the sociopolitical and economic orders of postreform Russia. Rejecting the necessity for Russia to pass through a period of capitalist development, he idealized the peasant commune and the artel. He believed that the transition to socialism in Russia could be effected either through social revolution or through a number of social reforms; the key to bringing about these reforms lay in a program of mass education. Flerovskii also wrote several pieces of literary criticism and works of fiction, including the novel To the Life and the Death (1877) and the novella Forgotten History (1880).
WORKSSvoboda rechi, terpimost’ i nashi zakony o pechati. St. Petersburg, 1869.
Tri politicheskie sistemy. London, 1897.
Zapiski revoliutsionera-mechtatelia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1929.
Kritika oznovnykh idei estestvoznaniia. St. Petersburg, 1904.
Izbr. ekonomicheskie proizvedeniia, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1958–59.
REFERENCESAptekman, O. V. V. V. Bervi-Flerovskii. Leningrad, 1925.
Podorov, G. Ekonomicheskie vozzreniia V. V. Bervi-Flerovskogo. Moscow, 1952.
Plakida, M. M. Besstrashnyi truzhenik. Stalino, 1960.
Kraineva, N. Ia., and P. V. Pronina. Narodnichestvo v rabotakh sovetskikh issledovatelei za 1953–1970 gg. Moscow, 1971.
B. IU. IVANOV