WHAT THE "FRIENDS OF THE
PEOPLE" ARE AND
HOW THEY FIGHT THE SOCIAL-
First printing 1960
Second printing 1963
Third printing 1972
AppendixI. . . . . . . . . . . . . AppendixII. . . . . . . . . . . . . AppendixII I. . . . . . . . . . . . .
301 308 326
year, in issue No. 10, one of the leading lights of this magazine, Mr. N. Mikhailovsky,
announced a forthcoming "polemic" against "our so-called Marxists, or Social-
Democrats." Then followed Mr. S. Krivenko's article "Our Cultural Free Lances" (No.
12), and Mr. N. Mikhailovsky's "Literature and Life" (Russkoye Bogatstvo, 1894. Nos. 1
and 2). As to the magazine's own views on our economic realities, these have been most
fully expounded by Mr. S. Yuzhakov in the article "Problems of Russia's Economic
Development" (in Nos. 11 and 12). While in general claiming to present the ideas and
tactics of true "friends of the people" in their magazine, these gentlemen are arch-enemies
of Social-Democracy. So let us take a closer look at these "friends of the people," their
criticism of Marxism, their ideas and their tactics.
Mr. N. Mikhailovsky devotes his attention chiefly to the theoretical principles of
Marxism and therelore makes a special investigation of the materialist conception of
history. Alter outlining in general the contents of the voluminous Marxist literature
enunciating this doctrine, Mr. Mikhailovsky opens his criticism with the following tirade:
"First of all," he says, "the question naturally arises: in which of his works did Marx expound his materialist conception ol history? InCapit al he gave us an example of the combination of logical force with erudition, with a scrupulus investigalion of all the economic literature and of
the pertinent facts. He brought to light theoretician of economic science long forgotten or
unknown to anybody to day, and did not overlook the most minute details in factory
inspectors' reports or experts' evidence before various special commissions; in a word, he
examined this enormous mass of factual material, partly in order to provide arguments for
his economic theories and partly to illustrate them. If he has created a 'completely new'
conception of the historical process, if he has explained the whole past of mankind from a
new viewpoint and has summarised all hitherto existing theories on the philosophy of
history, then he has done so, of course, with equal zeal: he has, indeed, reviewed and
subjected to critical analysis all the known theories of the historical process, and worked
over a mass of facts of world history. The comparison with Darwin, so customary in
Marxist literature, serves still more to confirm this idea. What does Darwin's whole work
amount to? Certain closely interconnected generalising ideas crowning a veritable Mont
Blanc of factual material. But where is the appropriate work by Marx? It does not exist.
And not only does no such work by Marx exist, but there is none to be found in all
Marxist literature, despite its voluminous and extensive character."
The whole tirade is highly characteristic and helps us to understand how little the
public understandCapit al and Marx. Overwhelmed by the tremendously convincing way
he states his case, they bow and scrape before Marx, laud him, and at the same time
entirely lose sight of the basic content of his doctrine and quite calmly continue to sing
the old songs of "subjective sociology." In this connection one cannot help recalling the
very apt epigraph Kautsky selected for his book on the economic teachings of Marx;
Wer wird nicht einen Klopstock loben?
Doch wird ihn jeder lesen? Nein.
Wir wollen weniger erhoben,
Und tleissiger gelesen seint!*
"InCapit al Marx gave us an example of the combination of logical force with
erudition," says Mr. Mikhailovsky. In this phrase Mr. Mikhailovsky has given us an
example of a brilliant phrase combined with lack of substance -- a certain Marxist
observed. And the observation is a very just one. How, indeed, did this logical force of
Marx's manifest itself? What were its effects? Reading the above tirade by Mr.
Mikhailovsky, one might think that this force was concentrated entirely on "economic
theories," in the narrowest sense of the term -- and nothing more. And in order to
emphasise still further the narrow limits of the field in which Marx manifested the force
of his logic, Mr. Mikhailovsky lays stress on "most minute details," on "scrupulosity," on
"theoreticians unknown to anybody" and so forth. It would appear that Marx contributed
nothing essentially new or noteworthy to the methods of constructing these theories, that
he left the bounds of economic science where the earlier economists had them, without
extending them, without contributing a "completely new" conception of the science itself.
Yet anybody who has read Capital knows that this is absolutely untrue. In this connection
one cannot but recall what Mr. Mikhailovsky wrote about Marx sixteen years ago when
arguing with that vulgar bourgeois, Mr. Y. Zhukovsky. Perhaps the times were
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