Influence began in the 1870s because there were very few literate and educated Russians around. The Zemstva was filled with them, and they were hired as lawyers too.
The intelligentsia weren't only knowledgeable about western countries, but had read and wrote in the press to persuade others. The reversal of censorship in the late 1870s stopped this.
The Nihilists were those who rejected all authority and believed in science. The intelligentsia pushed for a "Nihilist movement", which encouraged people to make a new beginning in society. The younger generation were more impressionable, as in 1862, a group of students proposed this idea named "Young Russia" which stipulated that revolution was the way forward. The idea of "Young Russia" was so infamous that in June 1862, 2,000 shops were set alight in St. Petersburg and everyone thought that they were responsible.
There were two men who were very important:
- Bakunin was seen as an anarchist because he had the belief that the state crushed freedom. However, he was seen as a socialist as he believed in the superiority of the peasantry. He believed in "collective ownership" which said that you should be paid on the amount of hours you work and that the state provide most things. He once wrote that "he is its merciless enemy and continues to inhabit it with only one purpose - to destroy it".
- Herzen met Bakunin at his university. He believed that the mir should play a huge part in central government.
- Chernyshevsky who wrote a radical journal, named "The Contemporary", which was banned due to the assassination attempt of Alexander. Herzen's "The Bell" was less popular.
Nechyev, in 1871, returned to St. Petersburg illegally from exile. He wanted to keep Herzen's plea of 1869 to "go to the people". He inspired groups of revolutionaries, such as the "Chaikovsky Circle", who smuggled books in Russia that were officially banned.
Lavrov led a group of 2000 and went "to the people" by building resentment among the peasantry against their lack of land and tax burden. The peasants' loyalty to the Tsar arrested 1600 populists by 1874. The remaining Populists went "to the people" and weren't successful. After this, they adopted a new named of "Land and Liberty".
Land and Liberty
Land and Liberty were a group that was more organised than the populists that accepted Bakunin's anarchic view. The members set out to work in peasant communes, given that the populists were arrested and were put on show trials. The Land and Liberty decided to use their job as an example to other peasants to persuade them to revolt.
After the assassinations of a few ministers, Milyutin said that he was "convinced that the present leaders in government are powerless, not only to solve the problem, but even to understand it".
The Land and Liberty split into two groups over a difference in what they wanted to achieve into "Black Partition" and "People's Will".
Split of "Land and Liberty"
- wanted to share black soil partitions among peasants.
- wanted to work peacefully.
- ended in 1811 at the death of Alexander II.
- advocated violent methods.
- undermined government with spies.
- wanted to kill the Tsar and their final successful chance was in March 1881.