Anda di halaman 1dari 19

Maxim Gorky 1934 Soviet Literature Speech: delivered in August 1934; Source: Gorky, Radek, Bukharin, Zhdanov and

ot hers Soviet Writers Congress 1934, page 25-69, Lawrence & Wishart, 1977. First publ ished in 1935; Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2004; Tr anscribed by: Jose Braz for the Marxists Internet Archive. THE ROLE of the labour processes, which have converted a two-Legged animal into man and created the basic elements of culture, has never been investigated as de eply and thoroughly as it deserves. This is quite natural, for such research wou ld not be in the interests of the exploiters of labour. The latter, who use the energy of the masses as a sort of raw material to be turned into money, could no t, of course, enhance the value of this raw material. Ever since remote antiquit y, when mankind was divided into slaves and slave-owners, they have used the vit al power of the toiling mass in the same way as we today use the mechanical forc e of river currents. Primitive man has been depicted by the historians of cultur e as a philosophizing idealist and mystic, a creator of gods, a seeker after the meaning of life. Primitive man has been saddled with the mentality of a Jacob Bohm e, a cobbler who lived at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seve nteenth century and who occupied himself between whiles with philosophy of a kin d extremely popular among bourgeois mystics; Bohme preached that Man should medita te on the Skies, on the Stars and the Elements, and on the Creatures which do pr oceed from them, and likewise on the Holy Angels, the Devil, Heaven and Hell. You know that the material for the history of primitive culture was furnished by archaeological data and by the reflections of ancient religious cults, while th e elucidation and study of these survivals have been carried on under the influe nce of Christian philosophical dogma, to which even atheist historians have been no strangers. This influence may be clearly traced in Spencers theory of super-o rganic evolution, and not in his works alone, but also in those of Frazer and ma ny others. But no historian of primitive and ancient culture has used the materi al of folklore, the unwritten compositions of the people, the testimony of mytho logy, which, taken as a whole, is a reflection in broad artistic generalizations of the phenomena of nature, of the struggle with nature and of social life. It is very hard to conceive of a two-legged animal, who spent all his strength i n the struggle for existence, thinking in abstraction from the processes of labo ur, from questions of clan and tribe. It is difficult to conceive an Immanuel Ka nt, barefoot and clothed in an animals skin, cogitating on the thing-in-itself. Abs tract thought was indulged in by man at a later period, by that solitary man of whom Aristotle in his Politics said: Man outside society is either a god, or a be ast. Being a beast, he sometimes compelled recognition as a god, but as a beast, he served as the material for the creation of numerous myths about beast-like me n, just as the first men who learned to ride on horseback furnished the basis fo r the centaur myth. The historians of primitive culture have completely waived the clear evidence of materialist thought, to which the processes of labour and the sum total of phen omena in the social life of ancient man inevitably gave rise. These evidences ha ve come down to us in the shape of fables and myths in which we hear the echo of work done in the taming of animals, in the discovery of healing herbs, in the i nvention of implements of labour. Even in remote antiquity men dreamed of being able to fly in the air, as can be seen from the legend about Phaethon, about Dae dalus and his son Icarus, and also from the fable of the magic carpet. Men dreamed of speedier movement over the earth hence the fable of the seven-league boots. Th ey learned to ride the horse. The desire to navigate rivers faster than the curr ent led to the invention of the oar and the sall. The striving to kill enemy and beast from a distance prompted the invention of the sling, of the bow and arrow . Men conceived the possibility of spinning and weaving a vast amount of fabric in one night, of building overnight a good dwelling, even a castle, that is, a dwe lling fortified against the enemy. They created the spinning wheel, one of the m ost ancient instruments of labour; they created the primitive hand loom, and als o the legend of Vassllisa the Wise. It would be possible to produce many more pr oofs to show that all these ancient tales and myths contained a purpose, to show

how far-sighted were the fanciful, hypothetical, but already technological thou ghts of primitive man, which could rise to such hypotheses of our own day as tha t of using the force of the earths revolution around its own axis, or of breaking up the polar ice. All the myths and legends of ancient times find their consumm ation, as it were, in the Tantalus myth. Tantalus stands up to his neck in water , he is racked by thirst, but unable to allay it there you have ancient man amid the phenomena of the outer world, which he has not yet learned to know. I do not doubt that you are familiar with ancient legends, tales and myths, but I should like their fundamental meaning to be more deeply comprehended. And thei r meaning is the aspiration of ancient working people to lighten their toll, inc rease its productiveness, to arm against four-footed and two- footed foes, and a lso by the power of words, by the device of exorcism and incantation, to gain an inf luence over the elemental phenomena of nature, which are hostile to men. The las t-named is particularly important, as it betokens how deeply men believed in the power of the word, and this belief is accounted for by the obvious and very rea l service of speech in organizing the social relations and labour processes of m en. Incantations were even used to influence the gods. This is quite natural, as a ll the ancient gods lived on the earth, bore human shape and behaved like men; t hey were benevolent to the humble, hostile to the recalcitrant; like men, they w ere envious, vengeful, ambitious. The fact that man created god in his own image goes to prove that religious thought had its origin not in the contemplation of nature, but in social strife. We are quite justified in believing that the raw material for the fabrication of gods was furnished by the illustrious men of ancie nt days. Thus, Hercules, the hero of labour, the master of all trades, was ultimatel y exalted to the seat of the gods, Olympus. God, in the conception of primitive man, was not an abstract concept, a fantastic being; but a real personage, armed with some implement of labour, master of some trade, a teacher and fellow-worke r of men. God was the artistic generalization of the achievements of labour, and the religious thought of the tolling masses should be placed in quotation marks, since it represented a purely artistic creativeness. In idealizing the abilities of men, and having, as it were, a premonition of their mighty future developmen t, mythology was, fundamentally speaking, realistic. Beneath each flight of anci ent fancy it is easy to discover the hidden motive, and this motive is always th e striving of men to lighten their labour. It is obvious that this striving orig inated among men who had to perform physical labour. And it is obvious, too, tha t god would not have made his appearance and would not have continued so long in the daily lives of men of toil, had he not been so doubly useful to the lords o f the earth, the exploiters of labour. The reason why god is so quickly and easi ly failing into disuse in our country is just because the reason for his existen ce has disappeared the need to vindicate the power of man over man, for man shou ld be only a fellow-worker, a friend, companion, teacher to his fellow-man, not the master over his mind and will. But the more powerful and masterful the slave -owner grew, the higher in the heavens did the gods rise, and among the masses t here appeared a desire to combat god, personified in the image of Prometheus, th e Esthonian Kalevi and other heroes, who saw god as a hostile lord of lords. Pre -Christian pagan folklore has not preserved any clearly expressed indications of the existence of thought on fundamentals, on first causes, on the thing-in-itself. In general it has left no signs of that way of thinking which was organized into a system in the fourth century before our era by the prophet of Attica, Plato, the founder of a philosophy of abstract aloofness from the processes of labour, from the conditions and phenomena of life. It is well known that the church recogniz ed Plato as a forerunner of Christianity. It is well known that the church, from its inception, stubbornly fought against the survivals of paganism survivals whic h are a reflection of the materialist outlook of labour. It is well known that a s soon as the feudal lords began to feel the strength of the bourgeoisie, there arose the idealist philosophy of Bishop Berkeley, the reactionary nature of whic h was exposed by Lenin in his militant book against idealism [1]. It is well kno wn that on the eve of the French Revolution, at the end of the eighteenth centur y, the bourgeoisie availed itself of the materialist idea in order to fight feud alism and its inspirer-religion, but that, having conquered its class foe, and i

n fear of its new enemy, the proletariat, it immediately reverted to the idealis t doctrine and sought the protection of the church. During the course of the nin eteenth century, the bourgeoisie, feeling with varying degrees of alarm how iniq uitous and precarious was its power over the masses of the toiling people, tried to vindicate its existence by the philosophy of criticism, positivism, rational ism, pragmatism and other attempts to distort the purely materialist thought ema nating from the processes of labour. These attempts revealed, one by one, their powerlessness to explain the world, and in the twentieth century we find that the reputed leader of philosophical thought is the idealist Bergson, whose teaching, by the way, is favourable to the Catholic religion. Here you have a definite admi ssion of the need for regression. Add to this the present. wailings of the bourg eoisie concerning the disastrous portent of the irresistible growth of technique , which has created fantastic riches for the capitalists, and you will obtain a pretty clear idea of the degree of intellectual pauperism to which the bourgeois ie has fallen, and of the necessity of destroying it as a historical relic which , in decay, is contaminating the world with the cadaveric poison of its decompos ition. The cause of intellectual impoverishment is always to be found in a refus al to recognize the basic meaning of real phenomena, in an escape from life thro ugh fear of it, or through an egotistical craving for quiet, through social indi fference created by the sordid and loathsome anarchism of the capitalist state. *** There is every ground for hoping that when the history of culture will have been written by the Marxists, we shall see that the role of the bourgeoisie in the p rocess of cultural creation has been greatly exaggerated, especially in literatu re, and still more so in painting, where the bourgeoisie has always been the emp loyer, and, consequently, the law-giver. The bourgeoisie has never had any procl ivity towards the creation of culture if this term be understood in a broader se nse than as a mere steady development of the exterior material amenities of life and the growth of luxury. The culture of capitalism is nothing but a system of methods aimed at the physical and moral expansion and consolidation of the power of the bourgeoisie over the world, over men, over the treasures of the earth an d the powers of nature. The meaning of the process of cultural development was n ever understood by the bourgeoisie as the need for the development of the whole mass of humanity. It is a well known fact that, by virtue of bourgeois economic policy, every nation organized as a state became hostile to its neighbours, whil e the less well organized races, especially the coloured peoples, served the bou rgeoisie as slaves, disfranchised to an even greater extent than the bourgeoisies own white-skinned slaves. The peasants and the workers were deprived of the right to education the right t o develop the mind and will towards comprehension of life, towards altering the conditions of life, towards rendering their working surroundings more tolerable. The schools trained and are still training no one but obedient servants of capi talism, who believe in its inviolability and legitimacy. The need for educating t he people was talked of and written about, and the progress of literacy was even boasted of, but in actual fact the working people were only being split up, imbu ed with the idea of incompatible distinctions between races, nations and religio ns. This doctrine is used to justify an inhuman colonial policy, which gives an ever wider scope to the insane lust for profit, to the idiotic greed of shopkeep ers. This doctrine has been upheld by bourgeois science, which has even sunk so low as to assert that a negative attitude on the part of people of the Aryan rac e towards all others has grown organically out of the metaphysical activity of th e whole nation although it is quite obvious that if the whole nation has become inf ected with an infamous animal hostility towards the coloured races or the Semite s, this infection has been engrafted on it in an actual, physical sense by the f oul work of the bourgeoisie, wielding fire and sword. If we remember that the Ch ristian church has turned this work into a symbol of the suffering of the loving son of god, the grim humour of it is exposed with disgusting transparency. We m ay note in passing that Christ, the son of god, is the only positive type created by ecclesiastical literature, and this type of one who vainly seeks to reconcile a ll lifes contradictions is an especially striking proof of this literatures creati

ve feebleness. The history of technical and scientific discoveries abounds in cases where even the growth of technical culture has been resisted by the bourgeoisie. These case s are commonly known, as is also the motive for such resistance, viz., the cheap ness of labour power. It will be argued that technique, nevertheless, has develo ped and reached considerable heights. This is indisputable. But this is due to t he fact that technique itself augurs, as it were, and suggests to man the possib ility and necessity of its further development. I will certainly not attempt to deny that in its time for example, in regard to feudalism the bourgeoisie constituted a revolutionary force and contributed to t he growth of material culture, inevitably sacrificing in the process the vital i nterests and forces of the working masses. However, the case of Fulton shows tha t the bourgeoisie of France, even after its victory, did not at once appreciate the importance of steamships in the development of trade and for self-defence. A nd this is not the only case which testifies to the conservatism of the bourgeoi sie. It is important that we should grasp the fact that this conservatism, conce aling as it did the anxiety of the bourgeoisie to strengthen and safeguard its p ower over the world, placed all kinds of restrictions in the way of the intellec tual growth of the working people; that this nevertheless led in the end to the birth of a new power in the world the proletariat, and that the proletariat has already created a state where the intellectual growth of the masses is unrestric ted. There is only one sphere in which the bourgeoisie has accepted all technica l innovations instantly and without demur that is, in the manufacture of instrum ents for human destruction. Nobody, I believe, has yet noted the influence which the manufacture of weapons of self-defence for the bourgeoisie has had on the g eneral trend of development in the metal-working industry. Social and cultural progress develops normally only when the hands teach the hea d, after which the head, now grown more wise, teaches the hands, and the wise ha nds once again, this time even more effectually, promote the growth of the mind. This normal process of cultural growth in men of labour was in ancient times in terrupted by causes of which you are aware. The head became severed from the han ds, and thought from the earth. Speculative dreamers made their appearance among the mass of active men; they sought to explain the .world and the growth of ide as in the abstract, independent of the labour processes, which change the world in conformity with the aims and interests of man. Their function at first was, p robably, that of organizing labour experience; they were just such illustrious me n, heroes of labour, as we see now in our own day, in our country. And then, amon g these people, the source of all social ills was born the temptation of one to wield power over many, the desire to lead an easy life at the expense of other mens labour, and a depraved, exaggerated notion of ones own individual st rength, a notion that was originally fostered by the acknowledgment of exception al abilities, although these abilities were but a concentration and reflection o f the labour achievements of the working collective-the tribe or clan. The sever ance of labour from thought is attributed by historians of culture to the whole mass of primitive mankind, while the breeding of individualists is even credited to them as a positive achievement. The history of the development of individual ism is given with splendid fullness and lucidity in the history of literature. I again call your attention, comrades, to the fact that folklore, i.e., the unwri tten compositions of tolling man, has created the most profound, vivid and artis tical1y perfect types of heroes. The perfection of such figures as Hercules, Pro metheus, Miku1a, Selyaninovich, Svyatogor, of such types as Doctor Faustus, Vass ilisa the Wise, the ironically lucky Ivan the Simple and finally Petrushka, who defeats doctor, priest, policeman, devil and death itself all these are images i n the creation of which reason and intuition, thought and feeling have been harm oniously blended. Such a blending is possible only when the creator directly par ticipates in the work of creating realities, in the struggle for the renovation of life. It is most important to note that pessimism is entirely foreign to folklore, des pite the fact that the creators of folklore lived a hard life; their bitter drud gery was robbed of all meaning by the exploiters, while in private life they wer

e disfranchised and defenceless. Despite all this, the collective body is in som e way distinguished by a consciousness of its own immortality and an assurance o f its triumph over all hostile forces. The hero of folklore, the simpleton, despis ed even by his father and brothers, always turns out to be wiser than they, alwa ys triumphs over all lifes adversities, just as did Vassilisa the Wise. If the notes of despair and of doubt in the meaning of terrestrial existence are sometimes to be heard in folklore, such notes are clearly traceable to the infl uence of the Christian church, which has preached pessimism for two thousand yea rs, and to the ignorant scepticism of the parasitic petty bourgeoisie whose exis tence lies between the hammer of capital and the anvil of the working folk. The significance of folklore stands out most vividly when we compare its fantasy, fo unded on the achievements of labour, with the dull and ponderous fantasy of eccl esiastical literature and the pitiful fantasy of chivalrous romances. The epic and the chivalrous romance are a creation of the feudal nobility; their hero is the conqueror. It is well known that the influence of feudal literature was never particularly great. Bourgeois literature began in ancient times, with the Egyptian Tale of the Thief. It was continued by the Greeks and the Romans. It emerged again in the epoch of knighthoods decay to take the place of the chivalr ous romance. This is a genuinely bourgeois literature, and its principal hero is the rogue, the thief, later on the detective, and then again the thief this tim e the gentleman burglar. From the figure of Till Eulenspiegel, created at the end of the fifteenth centur y, that of Simplicissimus in the seventeenth century, Lazarillo de Tormes, Gil B las, the heroes of Smollett and Fielding, down to the Dear Friend of Maupassant, t o Arsene Lupin, to the heroes of detective literature in present-day Europe, we can count thousands of books the heroes of which are rogues, thieves, assassins and agents of the criminal police. This is what constitutes genuine bourgeois liter ature, reflecting most vividly the real tastes, the interests and the practical m orals of its consumers. Its an ill wind that blows nobody good and on the subsoil of this literature, generously manured with every conceivable form of vulgarity, i ncluding the vulgarity of middle-class common sense have sprung up such remarkable artistic generalizations as, for instance, the figure of Sancho Panza, the Till Eulenspiegel of De Coster, and many others of equal worth. One of the best proo fs of the deep class interest shown by the bourgeoisie in the portrayal of crime is the well-known case of Ponson du Terrail; when this writer, after many volum es, had at length concluded his story of Rocambole with the death of his hero, t he readers organized a demonstration outside Terrails apartment, demanding that the novel be continued. Such success had never fallen to the lot of any of the e minent writers in Europe. The readers received several more volumes of Rocambole w ho was resurrected morally as well as physically. This is a crude example, but o ne that has its parallels in all bourgeois literature, of how a cut-throat and r obber is converted into a good bourgeois. The bourgeoisie read about the dexteri ty of thieves and the cunning of murderers with the same relish as they read abo ut the astuteness of detectives. Detective fiction is to this very day the favou rite spiritual food of well-fed persons in Europe. Moreover, in penetrating into the environment of the semi-starved working man, this type of literature has be en and is one of the causes retarding the growth of c1ass consciousness; it arou ses sympathy for the adroit thief, it engenders the will to steal, to carry on t he guerrilla warfare of isolated individuals against bourgeois property, and, by emphasizing the paltry value which the bourgeoisie sets on working c1ass life, it stimulates an increase of murders and other crimes against the person. The fer vent attachment of Europes middle classes to crime fiction is corroborated by the plentiful supply of authors who write such fiction and by the wide circulation which their books enjoy. It is an interesting fact that in the nineteenth century, when petty knavery ass umed heroic and imposing dimensions on the stock exchange, in parliament and in the press, the rogue as a hero of fiction was supplanted by the detective who, i n a world full of patent crimes against the working people, showed remarkable in genuity in unravelling mysterious crimes-of the imagination. It is, of course, n o accident that the celebrated Sherlock Holmes should have made his appearance i

n England, and it is even less of an accident that side by side with this detect ive genius appeared the gentleman burglar, who dupes the clever detectives. Those who interpret this change of heroes as a play of the imagination will be mistaken. What the imagination creates is prompted by the facts of real life, and it is g overned not by baseless fantasy, divorced from life, but by very real causes suc h as those, for example, which impel the Left and Right politicians in France to p lay football with the corpse of the gentleman burglar Stavisky, while endeavouring to finish the game in a draw. Of all the forms of artistic creation in words, the most powerful in its influen ce on people is admitted to be the drama, which reveals the emotions and thought s of the heroes in living action on the stage. If we trace the progress of Europ ean drama from the days of Shakespeare, it descends to the level of Kotzebue, Ne stor Kukolnik, Sardou and still lower, while the comedy of Moliere declines to th at of Scribe; in our country, after Griboyedov and Gogol, it disappears almost e ntirely. Since art depicts people, it might perhaps be assumed that the decline of the dramatic art points to the decay of strong, boldly chiselled characters, to the fact that great men have vanished from the scene. However, such types are still living a thriving existence to this day as, for in stance, the scurrilous Thersites in bourgeois journalism, the misanthrope Timon of Athens in literature, the moneylender Shylock in politics, not to mention Jud as, the betrayer of the working class, and many another figure which has been sp lendidly portrayed in the past. From the seventeenth century to our day this cat egory has grown in quantity and become still more loathsome in quality. The adve nturer John Law is a whippersnapper in comparison with adventurers of the type o f Oustric, Stavisky, Ivar Kreuger and similar super-swindlers of the twentieth c entury. Cecil Rhodes and other agents in the field of colonial pillage are worth y counterparts of Cortez and Pizarro. The oil kings, the steel magnates and the like are much more appalling and more criminal than Louis XI or Ivan the Terribl e. The little republics of South America contain figures no less lurid than the condottieri of Italy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Ford is not the sole caricature of Robert Owen. The sinister figure of Pierpont Morgan has no eq ual in the past, if we except the ancient monarch into whose throat molten gold was poured. The types enumerated above do not, of course, exhaust the list of diverse great me n produced by the bourgeoisie in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These p eople cannot be denied strength of character, a genius for counting money, plund ering the world, and engineering international massacres to increase their perso nal wealth; one cannot deny their amazing shamelessness or the inhumanity of the ir diabolically vile work. The realistic criticism and the high artistic literat ure of Europe have passed by these people without, apparent1y, so much as notici ng their existence. Neither in drama nor in fiction do we find the types of the banker, the manufact urer or the politician depicted with the strength of art which literature has di splayed in giving us the type of the superfluous man. Nor has literature paid heed to the tragic and all too common fate of the masters and creators of bourgeois culture the men of science, the artists, the inventors in the technical field. I t has failed to notice the heroes who fought to liberate nations from the heel o f the foreigner, the dreamers of a brotherhood of man, people like Thomas More, Campanella, Fourier, SaintSimon and others. This is not meant as a reproach. The past is not irreproachable, but there is no sense in reproaching it. It should be studied. What has brought the literature of Europe to the state of creative impotence whi ch it has revealed in the twentieth century? The liberty of art, the freedom of creative though have been upheld with passionate redundance; all sorts of argume nts have been produced to show that literature can exist and develop without ref erence to classes, that it is not dependent on social politics. This was bad pol icy, for it imperceptibly impelled many men of letters to constrict their observ ations of real life, within narrow bounds, to abstain from a broad and many-side d study of life, to shut themselves up in the solitude of their soul, to confine t hemselves to a fruitless form of self-cognition by way of introspection and arbitr

ary thought, altogether detached from life. It has turned out, however, that peo ple cannot be grasped apart from real life, which is steeped in politics through and through. It has turned out that man, no matter what crotchety ideas he may fabricate in regard to himself, still remains a social unit, and not a cosmic on e, like the planets. And moreover it has turned out that individualism, which tu rns into egocentrism, breeds superfluous people. It has often been noted that the best, most skilfully and convincingly drawn hero of European literature in the n ineteenth century was the type of superfluous person. Literature halted in its dev elopment to depict this type of person. After the hero of labour the man who, th ough technically unarmed, nevertheless had a premonition of his triumphant stren gth; after the feudal conqueror the man who understood that it was easier to tak e things away than to make them; after the bourgeoisies favourite swindler, its teacher in the art of life, the man who sensed that to steal and defraud was easier than to work, literature halted in its dev elopment, paying no heed to the glaring figures of the founders of capitalism, t he oppressors of mankind, who are far more inhuman than the feudal nobles, bisho ps, kings and tsars. Two groups of writers should be distinguished in the bourge ois literature of Europe. One group extolled and entertained its class, e.g., Tr ollope, Wilkie Collins, Braddon, Marryat, Jerome, Paul de Kock, Paul Feval, Octav e Feuillet, Georges Ohnet, Georges Samarov, Julius Stinde, and hundreds of simil ar authors. All these are typical good bourgeois writers not possessing much talen t, but dexterous and trivial, like their readers. The other group, numbering not more than a few dozen, consists of those great writers who created critical rea lism and revolutionary romanticism. They are all apostates, the prodigal sons of t heir class, aristocrats ruined by the bourgeoisie or scions of the petty bourgeo isie who tore themselves away from the suffocating atmosphere in which their cla ss lived. The books of this latter group of European writers possess a twofold a nd indisputable value for us: firstly, as works of literature which are models o f technical execution, secondly, as documents which explain the process of the b ourgeoisies development and decay, documents drawn up by apostates of their class , but which elucidate its life, traditions and deeds in a critical light. It is not my purpose in this report to give a detailed analysis of the role of critica l realism in European literature of the nineteenth century. Its essence may be s ummed up in the struggle against the conservatism of the feudal lords resuscitat ed by the big bourgeoisie, a struggle waged by organizing democracy i.e., the pe tty bourgeoisie on the basis of liberal and humanitarian ideas, this organizing of democracy being understood by many writers and most readers as a necessary de fence both against the big bourgeoisie and against the ever more powerful onslau ght of the proletariat. *** You are aware that the exceptionally and unprecedentedly powerful growth of Russ ian literature in the nineteenth century repeated although somewhat late all the moods and tendencies of western literature, and in turn influenced it. The spec ial feature of Russian bourgeois literature may be said to be the profusion of t ypes of superfluous people, including such altogether original types, unfamiliar t o European readers, as the playboy, e.g., Vassily Buslayev in folklore, Fedor Tols toy, Michael Bakunin and others in history the type of contrite noble in literatur e, the crank and cross-headed person in life. As in the West, our literature developed in two directions. There was the line o f critical realism, represented by Von-Vizin, Griboyedov, Gogol, etc., down to C hekhov and Bunin, and the line of purely middle-class literature represented by Bulgarin, Massalsky, Zatov, Golitsynsky, Vonlyarlyarsky, Vsevolod Krestovsky, Vs evolod Solovyev down to Leikin, Averchenko and so on. When the lucky swindler wi th his ill-gotfen wealth took his place beside the feudal conqueror, our folklor e gave the rich man a companion in the shape of Ivan the Simple, an ironical type of personage who achieves riches and even kingship with the aid of a hunchback h orse, which takes the place of the good fairy of romance. The church, striving t o reconcile the slave to his fate and to strengthen its power over his mind, sou ght to comfort him by creating heroes of meekness and longsuffering, martyrs for Christs sake. Lt created hermits, banishing those for whom it had no use to the wild

erness, the forest and the monastery. The more the ruling class split up, the sm aller did its heroes become. There came a time when the simpletons of folklore, tu rning into Sancho Panza, Simplicissimus, Eulenspiegel, grew cleverer than the fe udal lords, acquired boldness to ridicule their masters, and without doubt contr ibuted to the growth of that state of feeling which, in the first half of the si xteenth century, found its expression in the ideas of the Taborites and the peasan t wars against the knights. The real history of the toiling people cannot be und erstood without a knowledge of their unwritten compositions, which have again an d again had a definite influence on the making of such great works as, for insta nce, Faust, The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, Pantagruel and Gargantua; the Ti ll Eulenspiegel of de Coster, Shelleys Prometheus Unbound, and numerous others. S ince olden times folklore has been in constant and quaint attendance on history. It has its own opinion regarding the actions of Louis XI and Ivan the Terrible and this opinion sharply diverges from the appraisal of history, written by spec ialists who were not greatly interested in the question as to what the combat be tween monarchs and feudal lords meant to the life of the toiling people. The gro ssly coercive propaganda employed to urge the cultivation of the potato has inspir ed a number of legends and popular beliefs attributing its origin to the copulat ion of the devil with a harlot; this is a deviation in the direction of ancient barbarism, consecrated by the foolish church idea that Christ and the apostles di d not eat potatoes. But this same folklore in our days has raised Vladimir Lenin to the level of a mythical hero of ancient times, equal to Prometheus. Myth is invention. To invent means to extract from the sum of a given reality it s cardinal idea and embody it n imagery that is how we got realism. But if to th e idea extracted from the given reality we add completing the idea, by the logic of hypothesis the desired, the possible, and thus supplement the image, we obta in that romanticism which is at the basis of myth and is highly beneficial in th at it tends to provoke a revolutionary attitude to reality, an attitude that cha nges the world in a practical way. Bourgeois society, as we see, has completely lost the capacity for invention in art. The logic of hypothesis has remained, an d acts as a stimulus only in the field of the sciences, based on experiment. Bou rgeois romanticism, based on individualism, with its propensity for fantastic an d mystic ideas, does not spur the imagination or encourage thought. Sundered, de tached from reality, it is built not on convincingness of imagery but almost exc lusively on the magic of words, as we see in Marcel Proust and his votaries. The b ourgeois romanticists, from Novalis onward, are people of the type of Peter Schl emihl, the man who lost his shadow, and Schlemihl was created by Chamisso, a Frenc h emigre who wrote in Germany in German. The literary man of the contemporary West has also lost his shadow, emigrating from realities to the nihilism of despair, as can be seen from Louis Celines book, A Journey to the End of the Night; Bardom u the hero of this book, has lost his country, despises mankind, call his mother bitch and his mistresses carrion, is indifferent to all crimes, and, having no grou nds for joining the revolutionary proletariat, is quite ripe for the acceptance of fascism. Turgenevs influence on the writers of the Scandinavian peninsula is an established fact; Leo Tolstoys influence on Count Pahlen, Rene Bazin, Estaunier, Th omas Hardy (in his Tess of the DUrbervilles) and various other writers in Europe is commonly acknowledged. And the influence of Dostoyevsky has been and remains an especially strong one. This influence was admitted by Nietzsche, whoose ideas form the basis of the fanatical creed and practice of fascism. To Dostoyevsky b elongs the credit of having painted with the most vivid perfection of word portr aiture a type of egocentrist, a type of social degenerate in the person of the h ero of his Memoirs from Underground. With the grim triumph of one who is insatia bly taking vengeance for his personal misfortunes and sufferings, for his youthf ul enthusiasms, Dostoyevsky in the figure of his hero has shown the depths of wh ining despair that are reached by the individualist from among the young men of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who are cut off from real life. This type of his combines within himself the most characteristic traits of Friedrich Niet zsche and of the Marquis Des Esseintes, the hero of Huysmans Against the Grain, Le Disciple of Paul Bourget; and Boris Savinkov, who made himself the hero of hi s own composition, Oscar Wilde and Artsybashevs Sanine and many another social dege

nerate created by the anarchic influence of inhuman conditions in the capitalist state. As narrated by Vera Figner, Savinkov argued exactly like the decadents: T here is no morality, there is only beauty. And beauty is the free development of persona1ity, the unrestrained unfolding of all that lies within its soul. We kno w quite well with what rottenness the soul of bourgeois personality is burdened! In a state founded on the senseless and humiliating sufferings of the vast majo rity of the people, it is fitting that the creed of irresponsible self-will in w ord and action should be the guiding and vindicating principle. Such ideas as man is a despot by nature, that he likes to be a tormentor, that he is passionately fon d of suffering, and that he envisages the meaning of life and his happiness preci sely in self-will, in unrestricted freedom of action, that only this self-will w ill bring him his greatest advantage, and let the whole world perish so long as I c an drink my tea such are the ideas capitalism has inculcated and upheld through t hick and thin. Dostoyevsky has been called a seeker after truth. If he did seek, he found it in the brute and animal instincts of man, and found it not to repud iate, but to justify. Yes, the animal instincts in mankind cannot be extirpated so long as bourgeois society contains such a vast number of influences which aro use the beast in man. The domesticated cat plays with the mouse it has caught, b ecause the muscles of the beast, the hunter of small swift prey, demand that it should do so; this play is a training of the body. The fascist who, kicking a wo rker under the chin, dislodges his head from the spinal column, is not a beast, but something incomparably worse he is a mad animal that should be destroyed, th e same heinous brute as the White officer who cuts stripes and stars out of the skin of the Red Army man. It is difficult to understand just what Dostoyevsky wa s seeking for, but towards the close of his life he found that that talented and most honest of Russian men, Vissarion Belinsky, was the most noisome, obtuse and disgraceful thing in Russian life, that Constantinople must be taken away from t he Turks, that serfdom is conducive to ideal moral relations between the landowne rs and the peasants, and finally acknowledged as his preceptor Constantine Pobedo nostsev, one of the grimmest figures of nineteenth century Russian life. Dostoye vskys genius is indisputable. In force of portrayal his talent is equal perhaps o nly to Shakespeare. But as a personality, as a judge of men and the world, he is e asy to conceive in the role of a medieval inquisitor. The reason why I have devoted so much space to Dostoyevsky is because without th e influence of his ideas it would be almost impossible to understand the volte f ace which Russian literature and the greater part of the intelligentsia made aft er 1905-06 from radicalism and democracy towards safeguarding and defending bour geois law and order. Dostoyevskys ideas became popular soon after his speech on Pushkin, after the bre aking up of the Narodnaya Volya party, which attempted to overthrow the autocrac y. Before the proletariat, grasping the great and simple truth of Lenin, had sho wn its stern countenance to the world in 1905, Peter Struve prudently began to p ersuade the intelligentsia, like a maiden who had chanced to lose her innocence, to enter into legal marriage with the elderly capitalist. A marriage broker by profession, a bookworm absolutely devoid of original ideas, he issued the call i n 1901 of Back to Fichte to the idea of subservience to the will of the nation per sonified by the shopkeepers and the landowners, while in 1907 there was publishe d under his editorship and with his collaboration a collection of articles entit led Landmarks, where the following sentence, quoted word for word, may be round: We should be grateful to the government for de fending us with bayonets against the wrath of the people. These vile words were uttered by the democratic intellig entsia in the days when the bailiff of the landowners, the minister Stolypin, wa s hanging dozens of workers and peasants daily. The underlying idea in Landmarks was a reiteration of the fanatical idea expressed in the seventies by that inve terate conservative, Constantine Leontiev: Russia must be chilled, i.e., all the s parks of social revolution must be stamped out of her. Landmarks, this renegades act of the Constitutional-Democrats, won the high approval of the old renegade Le o Tikhomirov, who called it the sobering of the Russian soul and the revival of c onscience. ***

The period from 1907 to 1917 was a time when irresponsible ideas ran riot, when Russian men of letters enjoyed complete freedom of creation. This liberty found it s expression in propaganda of all the conservative ideas of the Western bourgeoi sie ideas which gained currency after the French Revolution at the end of the ei ghteenth century and which flared up again at regular intervals after 1848 and 1 871. It was announced that the philosophy of Bergson marks a tremendous step forw ard in the history of human thought, that Bergson replenished and deepened the the ory of Berkeley, that the systems of Kant, Leibnitz, Descartes, and Hegel are dead systems, and the works of Plato, like the sun, shine above them in eternal beau ty this of Plato, who founded the most pernicious of all fallacies of thought, ut terly detached from hard reality, which is continually unfolding in all its aspe cts in the processes of labour and creation. Dmitri Merezkovski, a writer of influence in his time, cried: Come what may tis al l the same! Long theyve wearied of the game, The three Fates, the eternal Parces Dust to dust and ash to, ashes! Sologub, following Schopenhauer, and in obvious d ependence on Baudelaire and the damned, gave a remarkably lucid picture of the cosm ic fatuity of the existence of personality, and though he plaintively moaned over this in rhyme, he nevertheless went on living a comfortable, bourgeois existenc e, and in 1914 threatened the Germans to destroy Berlin as soon as the snow vanis hes from the valleys. The gospel of Eros in politics, of mystical anarchism was preac hed. Crafty Vassily Rozanov preached eroticism, Leonid Andreyev wrote nightmare stories and plays, Artsybashev selected as the hero of his novel a lascivious tw o legged goat in trousers, and altogether, the decade of 1907-17 fully deserves to be branded as the most shameful and shameless decade in the history of the Ru ssian intelligentsia. As our democratic intellectuals were less disciplined by h istory than those in the West, the process of their moral disintegration, of their intellectual impoverishment, was more rapid in our country. But this process is common to the petty bourgeoisie of all countries and unavoidable for every inte llectual who lacks the strength and determination to throw in his lot with the m ass of the proletariat, whose historical mission is to change the world for the common benefit of all honestly working people. It should be added that Russian l iterature, like its Western counterpart, neglected the landowners, the promotors of industry and the financiers in the period preceding the revolution, although this category of person offered far more colourful and original types in our co untry than in the West. Russian literature overlooked such nightmare types of la ndowner as, for instance, the famous Marlame Saltychikha, General Izmailov, toge ther with scores and hundreds of similar characters. Gogols caricatures and sketc hes in his book Dead Souls are not so very characteristic of landed, feudal Russ ia. The Korobochkas, Manilovs and Petukhs, the Sobakyeviches and Nozdrevs influe nced the policy of tsarist autocracy merely by the passive fact of their existen ce; as blood-suckers of the peasantry, they are not very typical. There were oth er masters and artists of the blood-sucking art, people of dreadful moral aspect , voluptuaries and aesthetes of cruelty. Their evil deeds have not been noted by artists of the pen, even by the greatest of them, even those who professed their love for the muzhik. There is an abundance of characte ristic traits that sharply distinguish our big bourgeoisie from that of the West , the explanation being that our historically young bourgeoisie, pre-eminent1y o f peasant extraction, got rich more quickly and easily than did the historically quite elderly bourgeoisie of the West. Our industrialist, untrained by the seve re competition of the West, retained almost up to the twentieth century the char acteristic traits of the crank and the playboy, induced perhaps by his own astonishm ent at the silly ease with which he accumulated millions. One of these, Peter Gu bonin, is described by the well-known Tibetan doctor, P. A. Badmayev, in his boo klet Wisdom in the Russian People, published in 1917. This entertaining booklet, urging young people to abjure the writings of the devil which tempt them with th e empty words of liberty, equality and fraternity, gives us the following informa tion about Gubonin, the son of a mason and himself a mason by trade, who became a railroad constructor: Most venerable old officials of the period of Russias emancipation, who still reme mber the times of Gubonin, relate the following: Gubonin, appearing at the Minis

try in high, tarpolished boots, in a caftan, with a bag of silver, greeted the j anitors and messengers in the hall, drew silver out of his bag and gave generous ly to everybody, bowing low, that they might not forget their- Peter Ionovich. T hen he proceeded to the different Departments and Sub-Departments, where he left each official a sealed envelope each according to hisrank calling them all by t heir Christian names and 1ikewise bowing to them. The more exalted personages he greeted and kissed, calling them benefactors of the Russian people, and was qui ckly admitted to the presence of His Excellency. After Peter Ionovichs departure from the Ministry, everybody rejoiced. It was a real holiday, such as could only be compared with Christmas or Easter Day. Each one counted what he had received , smiled, wore a gay and cheerful look and was thinking how to spend the rest of the day and night until the following morning. The janitors in the hall were pr oud of Peter Ionovich, who came from their midst; they called him clever and goo d, and asked each other how much each had received, but they all concealed it, n ot wishing to compromise their benefactor. The petty officials whispered among t hemselves with deep feeling that kind Peter Ionovich had not forgotten them eith er so clever, agreeable and honest was he. The high officials, including His Exc ellency, loudly proclaimed what a lucid, statesmanlike mind he had, what great b enefits he was bringing to the people and the state, meriting some distinction. He ought to be invited they said, to the conference dealing with railroad questi ons, as he is the only clever man concerned with these matters. And indeed, he w as invited to the most important conferences, where only distinguished personage s and engineers were present, and at such conferences the decisive voice was tha t of Gubonin. This narrative sounds ironical, nut it is actually written in sincere praise of an order of society under which the proud watchword of the bourgeoisie Liberty, e quality, fraternity proved to be nothing more than an empty phrase. All that I ha ve Said about the creative impotence of the bourgeoisie, as reflected in its lit erature, may seem to be excessively gloomy; and may expose me to the charge of te ndencious exaggeration. But facts are facts, and I see them as they are. It would be silly and even criminal to underestimate the enemys strength. We are all perfectly well aware of the strength of his industrial technique-particularl y that of the war industries, which sooner or later will be directed against us, but will inevitably provoke a world-wide social revolution and destroy capitali sm. Military experts in the West utter loud warnings to the effect that war will involve the entire rear, all the population of the warring countries. It may be presumed that the numerous lower middle class of Europe who have not yet altoge ther forgotten the :horrors of the 1914-18 massacre and who are scared by the dr ead inevitability of a new and more horrible carnage, will at last realize who i t is that will profit by the coming social catastrophe, who is the criminal that periodically and for the sake of his own nefarious gain exterminates millions o f people that they will realize this, and help the proletarians to smash capital ism. We may presume this, but we cannot rely upon its happening, for the jesuit and the craven, the leader of the philistines, the Social-Democrat, is still liv ing. We must firmly rely on the growth of the proletariats revolutionary sense o f justice, but it is better still for us to be sure of our own strength and to d evelop it ceaselessly. It is one of the most essential duties of literature to d evelop the revolutionary self- consciousness of the proletariat, to foster its l ove for the home it has created, and to defend this home against attack. *** Once, in ancient times, the unwritten artistic compositions of the working peopl e represented the sole organizer of their experience, the embodiment of ideas in imagery and the spur to the working energy of the collective body. We should tr y to understand this. The object our country has set itself is to ensure the equ al cultural education of all units, the equal acquaintance of all its members wi th the victories and achievements of labour, aspiring to convert the work of men into the art of controlling the forces of nature. We are more or less familiar with the process of the economic-and therefore political-stratification of peopl e, with the process by which the labouring peoples right to the free development of their minds

is usurped by others. When the task of interpreting the world became the affair of priests, the latter could arrogate it to themselves only by giving a metaphys ical explanation of phenomena and! of the resistance offered by the elemental fo rces of nature to the aims and energies of men of labour. This criminal process of excluding, debarring millions of people from the work of understanding the wo rld, initiated in antiquity and continuing down to our own day, has resulted in hundreds of millions of people, divided by ideas of race, nationality and religi on, remaining in a state of the most profound ignorance, of appalling mental bli ndness, in the darkness of superstition and. prejudices of every kind; The Commu nist-Leninist Party, the workers and peasants government of the. Union of Social ist Soviets, which have destroyed capitalism throughout. the length and breadth of tsarist Russia, which have handed over political power to the workers and the peasants, and which are organizing a free c1assless society, have made it the o bject of their daring, sage and indefatigable activity to free the working masse s from the age-old yoke of an old and outworn history, of the capitalist develop ment of culture, which today has glaringly exposed all its vices and its creativ e decrepitude. And it is from the height of this great aim that we honest writer s of the Union of Soviets must examine, appraise and organize our work. We must grasp the fact that it is the toll of the masses which forms the fundame ntal organizer of culture and the creator of all ideas, both those which in the course of centuries have minimized the decisive significance of labour the sourc e of our knowledge-and those ideas of Marx, Lenin and Stalin which in our time a re fostering a revolutionary sense of justice among the proletarians of all coun tries, and in our country are lifting labour to the level of a power which serve s as the foundation for the creative activity of science and art. To be successf ul in our work, we must grasp and fully realize the fact that in our country the social1y organized labour of semi-literate workers and a primitive peasantry ha s in the short space of ten years created stupendous values and armed itself sup erbly for defence against an enemy attack. Proper appreciation of this fact will reveal to us the cultural and revolutionary power of a doctrine which unites th e whole proletariat of the world. All of us writers, factory workers, collective farmers still work badly and cann ot even fully master everything that has been made by us and for us. Our working masses do not yet quite grasp the fad that they are working only for themselves . This feeling is smouldering everywhere, but it has not-yet blazed up into a mi ghty and joyous flame. But nothing can kindle until it has reached a certain tem perature, and nobody ever was so splendidly capable of raising the temperature o f labour energy as is the Party organized by the genius of Vladimir Lenin, and t he present-day leader of this Party. As the principal hero of our books we should choose labour, i.e., a person, orga nized by the processes of labour, who in our country is armed with the full migh t of modern technique, a person who, in his turn,. so organizes labour that it b ecomes easier and more productive, raising it to the level of an art. We must le arn to understand labour as creation. Creation is a concept which we writers use all too freely, though we hardly possess the right to do so. Creation is a degr ee of tension reached in the work of the memory at which the speed of its workin g draws from the reserves of knowledge and impressions the most salient and char acteristic facts, pictures, details, and renders them into the most precise, viv id and intelligible words. Our young literature can not boast of possessing this quality. The stock of impressions, the sum of knowledge of our writers is not l arge, and there is no sign of any special anxiety to extend or enrich it. The pr incipal theme of European and Russian literature in the nineteenth century was p ersonality, in antithesis to society, the state and nature. The main reason whic h prompted personality to set itself against bourgeois society was an abundance of negative impressions, contradictory to class ideas and social traditions. Per sonality felt keenly that these impressions were smothering it, retarding the pr ocess of its growth, but it did not fully realize its own responsibility for the triviality, the baseness, the criminality of the principles on which bourgeois society was built. Jonathan Swift was one in all Europe, but Europes bourgeoisie considered that this satire struck at England alone. Generally speaking, .rebell

ious personality, in criticizing the life of its society, seldom and barely real ized its own responsibility for societys odious practices. And still more seldom was the prime motive for its criticism of the existing order a deep and correct understanding of the significance of social and economic causes; more often crit icism was provoked either by a sense of the hopelessness of ones life in the narr ow iron cage of capitalism, or by a desire to avenge the failure of ones life and its humiliations. And it can be said that when personality turned to the workin g mass, it did not do so in the interests of the mass, but in the hope that the working class, by destroying bourgeois society, would ensure it freedom of thoug ht and liberty of action. I reiterate: .the main and fundamental theme of pre-re volutionary literature was the tragedy of a person to whom life seemed cramped, who felt superfluous in society, sought therein a comfortable place for himself, failed to find it, and suffered, died, or reconciled himself to a society that was hostile to him, or sank to drunkenness or suicide. In our Union of Socialist Soviets, there should not, there cannot be superfluous people. Every citizen enjoys wide freedom for the development of his abilities, talents and faculties. One thing only is demanded of personality: Be honest in your attitude to the heroic work of creating a classless society. In the Union of Socialist Soviets the workers and peasants government has called upon the whole mass of the population to help build a new culture and it follow s from this that the responsibility for mistakes, for hitches, for spoilage, for every display of middle-class meanness, for perfidy, duplicity and unscrupulous ness lies on each and all of us. That means our criticism must really be self-cr iticism; it means that we must devise a system of socialist morality as a regula ting factor in our work and our relationships. When narrating facts which mark the intellectual growth of the factory workers a nd the transformation of the age old proprietor into a collective farm member, w e writers tend to become mere chroniclers of the bare facts, doing scant justice to the emotional process of these transformations. We are still poor observers of reality. Even the landscape of the country has changed; gone is its motley po verty the bluish patch of oats, and, alongside of it, the black strip of ploughe d land, the golden ribbon of rye, the green band of wheat, strips of land overgr own with weeds the whole many-coloured sadness of universal dismemberment and di sseverance. In our days, vast expanses of land are coloured a single mighty hue. Above the village and the country town looms not the church, but huge buildings of public usage; giant factories glitter with a million panes of glass, while t he toy-like little heathen churches of ancient times speak to us eloquently of t he giftedness of our people as expressed in church architecture. the new landsca pe that has so sharply changed the aspect of our land has not found a place in l iterature. We are living in an epoch of deep-rooted changes in the old ways of l ife, in an epoch of mans awakening to a sense of his own dignity, when he has co me to realize himself as a force which is actually changing the world. Many are amused to read that people with names like Svinukhin, Sobakin, Kuteinikov, Popov , Svishchev, etc.,[2] have changed them to such names as Lensky, Novy, Partisano v, Dedov, Stolyarov, etc. This is not funny, for it marks precisely the growth o f human dignity; it shows how people are refusing to bear a name or nickname tha t is humiliating and reminiscent of the harassed servile past of their grandfath ers and their fathers. Our literature is not sufficiently attentive to the outwardly petty but intrinsi cally valuable signs which show that people are seeing themselves in a new light , to the processes by which the new Soviet citizen is developing. Svinukhin quit e possibly took his name of Lensky, not from Pushkins Eugene Onegin, but by assoc iation with the mass murder of the workers on the Lena Goldfields in 1912; Kutei nikov may have really been a partisan, while Sobakin, whose grand father, a serf , may have been exchanged for a dog, really feels himself new. To change ones name before the revolution one had to present a petition in the sovereign name of the t sar and when a certain Pevtsov [3] asked for his surname to be changed to that o f his mother and grandmother, Avdotin, the rescript traced on the petition was: Men tally deficient. Recently I heard this fact: a sailor in the German navy, a man w ith a historic name, a descendant of the Decembrist Volkonsky, became a fascist.

Why? he was asked. Because the officers have been forbidden to strike us, he replie d. Here is a glaring example of how an hereditary aristocrat, a man of the blue b lood, loses his sense of personal dignity. The growth of the new man can be seen with especial c1arity among children, yet children remain quite outside literatu res sphere of observation. Our writers seem to consider it beneath their dignity to write about children and for children. I believe I will not be mistaken in sa ying that fathers are beginning to show more care and tenderness for their child ren, which, in my view, is quite natural, as children for the first time in the whole life of mankind are now the inheritors not of their parents money, houses and furniture, but of a real and mighty fortune-a socialist state created by the labour of their fathers and mothers. Never before have children been such intel ligent and stern judges of the past, and I quite believe the fact that was relat ed to me of an eleven year-old tubercular little girl who said to the doctor in the presence of her father; pointing her finger at him: It is his fault that I am ill. Till he was forty years old, he wasted his health on all sorts of bad wome n, and then married mama. She is only twenty-seven, she is healthy, and he you c an see how miserable he is, and I have taken after him. There is every reason to expect that such reasoning among children will be no uncommon thing. Reality is giving us ever more raw material for artistic generalizations. But neither the dra ma nor the novel has yet given an adequately vivid portrayal of the Soviet woman , who is distinguishing herself as a free agent in all spheres where the new soc ialist life is being built. It is even noticeable that playwrights are endeavour ing to write as few womens parts as possible. It is hard to understand why. Thoug h woman in our country is the social equal of man, and though she is successfull y proving the diversity of her endowments and the breadth of her capacities, thi s equality is all too frequently and in many ways external and formal. The man h as not yet forgotten, or else he has prematurely forgotten, that for centuries w oman has been brought up to be a sensual plaything and a domestic animal, fitted to play the part of housewife. This old and odious debt of history to half the ea rths inhabitants ought to be paid off by the men of our country first and foremost, as an example to all other men. An d here literature should try to depict the work and mentality of woman in such a manner as to raise the attitude towards her above the general level of accepted middle-class behaviour, which is borrowed from the poultry yard. Further, I dee m it necessary to point out that Soviet literature is not merely a literature of the Russian language. It is an All-Union literature. Since the literatures of o ur fraternal republics, distinguished from ours only by language, live and work in the light and under the wholesome influence of the same ideas which unite the whole world of the working people that capitalism has torn asunder, we obviousl y have no right to ignore the literary creation of the national minorities simpl y because there are more of us than of them. The value of art is gauged not by q uantity but by quality. If we can point to such a giant as Pushkin in our past h istory, it does not follow from this that the Armenians, Georgians, Tatars, Ukra inians, and other peoples are incapable of producing great masters of literature , music, painting and architecture. It should be remembered that the process by which the entire mass of the toiling people is being re-born to honest human life , to the free creation of a new history, to the creation of a socialist culture, is developing rapidly throughout the length and breadth of the Union of Socialis t Republics. We can see already that, with each advance, this process brings out more powerfully the latent abilities and talents that are concealed in this mas s of a hundred and seventy mll1ion people. I deem it needful, comrades, to commu nicate to you a letter I have received from a Tatar writer: The great October Re volution has given us writers of the opressed and backward nations unlimited pos sibilities, including the possibility of appearing in Russian literature with ou r works, which, it is true, are as yet far from perfect. As you know, we writers of the national minorities, whose works are printed in the Russian language, al ready number tens and even hundreds. That is one side of the question on the oth er hand, Soviet literature in Russian is read today not only by the Russian mass es, hut by the working people of all nationalities in our Soviet Union; millions of the rising generation of all the nationalities are being brought up on it. T

hus, Soviet proletarian literature in the Russian language is already ceasing to be the exclusive literature of Russian speaking people and people of Russian or igin, and is gradually acquiring an international character even in its form. Th is important historical process advances new and unexpected problems and new dem ands. It is highly regrettable that not all writers, critics and editors underst and this. That is why so called approved literary opinion in the great centres c ontinues to regard us as an ethnographical exhibit. Not all publishing houses like to print us. Some of them often make us feel, when taking our manuscripts, that we are overhead charges or a compulsory quota for them, that they are deliberately a llowing a rebate on the Partys national policy. These noble .gestures quite justly o ff end our sense of international unity and feeling of human dignity. The critic s, on the appearance of the work, will at best let fall a few kind words for the a uthor and the book, again not so much on their merits as out of respect for the Le ninist-Stalinist national policy of the Party. This does not educate us either; on the contrary, on some less experienced comrades it has a demobilizing and demor alizing effect. And then, after a single edition, usually of five thousand copie s, all of which are bought up by lovers of .the exotic and the rare in the big c ities, we are relegated to the archives. This practice, apart from the bad moral and material effects it has for us, blocks our way to the mass reader and leads to inevitable national restriction. We very naturally would like to hear about our achievements, if any, about our shortcomings and errors (of which we have mo re than others), so as to, be able to avoid them in future and we should like to become accessible to the mass reader. Representatives of literature from all th e Union republics and autonomous regions will probably be ready to subscribe to this letter. The historians and critics of our literature should pay heed to thi s letter and begin to work in such a way as may impress upon people in our count ry that, though they may belong to different tribes and speak different tongues, each and every one of them is nevertheless a citizen of the first socialist fat herland in the world. As for the rebuke levelled at our critics, we must admit i t to be just. Our criticism, especially the newspaper kind, which is most widely read by writers, is untalented, scholastic and uninstructed in regard to curren t realities. The worthlessness of mere book-and-newspaper knowledge is especiall y glaring in these days, when real life is changing so quickly, when there is su ch an abundance of varied activity. Without possessing or elaborating a single g uiding critico-philosophical idea, employing one and the same quotations from Ma rx, Engels and Lenin, the critics hardly ever judge themes, characters and relat ions between people by facts which are obtained from a direct observation of the rushing current of life. There is much in our country and in our work which Mar x and Engels could not, of course, have foreseen. Critics tell the author: That i s wrong, because our teachers have said so and so in this connection. But they ar e incapable of saying: That is wrong, because the facts of reality contradict the authors statements. Of all the borrowed ideas which critics use, they have, appar ently, quite forgotten that most valuable idea expressed by Engels: Our teaching is not dogma; it is a guide to action. Criticism is not sufficiently vital, flexi ble and alive, and finally the critic cannot teach the author to write simply, v ividly, economically, for he himself writes long-windedly and obscurely, and, wh ich is still worse, either perfunctorily or with excessive fervour the latter when he e ntertains personal sympathies for the author or is associated with the interests of a clique that is afflicted with leaderism, that contagious philistine disease. Leaderism is a disease of the times, resulting from the lowered vitality of phili stinism, from the sense of its inevitable downfall in the combat between capital ist and proletarian, and from fear of destruction a fear which drives the philis tine to the side he has long been accustomed to regard as physically the stronge st, to the side of the employer, the exploiter of other peoples labour, the plund erer of the world. Inwardly, leaderism is the fruit of effete, impotent and impove rished individualism; outwardly, it takes the form of such festering sores as, f or instance, Ebert, Noske, Hitler and, similar heroes of the capitalist world. H ere, where we are creating a socialist world, such sores are of course impossibl e. But we still have a few pustules left among us as a heritage from philistinis

m people who are incapable of appreciating the essential distinction between lead erism and leadership, although the distinction is quite obvious: leadership, plac ing a high value on mens energy, points the way to the achievement of the best pr actical results with the minimum expenditure of forces, while leaderism is the ind ividualistic striving of the philistine to overtop his comrade, which can be don e easily enough given a mechanical dexterity, an empty head and an empty heart. Too often the place of critics is taken by semi-literate reviewers, who merely b ewilder authors and wound their feelings, but are incapable of teaching them any thing. They fall to notice attempts to resuscitate and restore to currency certa in ideas of Narodnik literature, and finally-which is most important-they are not interested in the growth of literature in the various regions, let alone the who le Soviet Union. It should he mentioned also that critics do not deal with the p ublic statements of authors in answer to the question of how they write, although these statements call for critical attention. Self-criticism is necessary, comra des. We are working before the eyes of the proletariat, which, as it grows more and more literate, is constantly raising its demands on our art, and, incidental ly, on our social behaviour. Communism of ideas does not coincide with the natur e of our actions and the mutual relations existing among us relations in which a very grave part is played by philistine menta1ity, finding vent in envy, avidit y, trivial gossip, and mutual disparagement. We have written and continue to wri te a good deal about philistinism, but no embodiment of philistinism in a single person, in a single image, has been given. It is just in a single person that i t must be portrayed, and this must be done as powerfully as in such universal ty pes as Faust, Hamlet, etc. I would remind you that the philistines are a numerou s class of parasites who, while producing nothing, endeavour to consume and devo ur as much as they can-and they do devour it. Battening on the peasantry and the working class, gravitating always toward the paws of the big bourgeoisie, and s ometimes, by force of pressure from without, passing over to the side of the pro letariat, bringing into its midst anarchism, egocentrism and all the bana1ity wh ich is the historical concomitant. of the philistine, banality of thought which feeds exclusively on routine facts and not the inspirations of labour philistini sm, in so far as it has thought and does think at all, has always propagated and upheld the philosophy of individual growth along the line of least resistance, has sought a more or less stable equilibrium between the two forces. The philist ines attitude towards the proletariat is most forcibly illustrated by the fact th at even the half beggarly peasant, the owner of a miserable plot of land, despis ed the factory worker, who was destitute of all property except his hands. That the proletariat had a head as well, the philistine noticed only when the proleta rians hands came into revolutionary action outside the factory. Not all weeds ar e harmful or useless, for many of them yield healing toxins. Philistinism produc es only pernicious toxin. If the philistine did not feel himself such an insigni ficant detail in the capitalist machine, he would not strive so persistently and with such futility to prove his significance and the freedom of his thoughts, h is will, his right to existence, and he would not have produced in the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries so many superfluous people, contrite nobles , people of the type that is neither peacock nor crow. In the Union of Soviets, phi listinism has been displaced, driven out of its lair, out of hundreds of provinc ial towns, has scattered everywhere and, as we know, has penetrated even into Le nins Party, whence it is forcibly ejected during every Party purge. Nevertheless, it remains and acts like a microbe; causing shameful maladies. The Party leader ship of literature must be thoroughly purged of all philistine influences. Party members active in literature must not only be the teachers of ideas which will muster the energy of the proletariat in all countries for the last battle for it s freedom; the Party leadership must, in all its conduct, show a morally authori tative force. This force must imbue literary workers first and foremost with a c onsciousness of their collective responsibility for all that happens in their mi dst. Soviet literature, with all its diversity of talents, and the steadily grow ing number of new and gifted writers, should be organized as an integral collect ive body, as a potent instrument of socialist culture. The Writers Union is not being created merely for the purpose of bodily uniting

all artists of the pen, but so that professional unification may enable them to comprehend their corporate strength, to define with all possible clarity their v aried tendencies, creative activity, guiding principles, and harmoniously to mer ge all aims in that unity which is guiding all the creative working energies of the country. The idea, of course, is not to restrict individual creation, but to furnish it w ith the widest means of continued powerful development. It should be realized th at critical realism originated as the individual creation of superfluous people, w ho, being incapable of the struggle for existence, not finding a place in life, and more or less clearly realizing the aimlessness of personal being, understood this aimlessness merely as the senselessness of all phenomena in social life an d in the whole historical process. Without in any way denying the broad, immense work of critical realism, and while highly appreciating its formal achievements in the art of word painting, we should understand that this realism is necessar y to us only for throwing light on the survivals of the past, for fighting them, and extirpating them. But this form of realism did not and cannot serve to educ ate socialist individuality, for in criticizing everything, it asserted nothing, or else, at the worst, reverted to an assertion of what it had itself repudiate d. Socialist individuality, as exemplified by our heroes of labour, who represen t the flower of the working class, can develop only under conditions of collecti ve labour, which has set itself the supreme and wise aim of liberating the worke rs of the whole world from the man-deforming power of capitalism. Life, as asser ted by socialist realism, is deeds, creativeness, the aim of which is the uninte rrupted development of the priceless individual faculties of man, with a view to his victory over the forces of nature, for the sake of his health and longevity , for the supreme joy of living on an earth which, in conformity with the steady growth of his requirements, he wishes to mould throughout into a beautiful dwel ling place for mankind, united into a single family. *** Having said so much about the shortcomings of our literature, it is my duty to n ote its merits and attainments. I have neither space nor time here to point out the vital distinction between our literature and that of the West that is a leng thy and laborious task, and will partially be dealt with by Comrade Radek in his report. I will only say what is quite clear to any dispassionate judge namely, that our literature has outstripped the West in novelty of theme, and would remi nd you that many of our writers are appreciated in the west even more highly tha n in their own country. In 1930, in an article published in the book, On Literat ure, I spoke in no uncertain terms and with great joy about our literary attainm ents. Four years of arduous work have elapsed since then. Does this work warrant my giving a higher appraisal of our literatures achievements today? It is warran ted by the high estimation in which many of our books are held by our principal reader the worker and collective farmer. You know these books, therefore I will not name them. I will only say that we already have a strong group of artists of the pen, a group that we can acknowledge as the leading force in the development of literature. This group unites the most talented Party writers with the non-Pa rty writers, and the latter are becoming Sovietist not in word but in deed, assimi lating ever more profoundly the common meaning for all humanity of the heroic wo rk which is being done by the Party and the workers and peasants Soviet governmen t. It should not be forgotten that it took Russian bourgeois literature nearly a hundred years reckoning from the end of the eighteenth century-to take up a com manding position in life and influence it in some measure. Soviet revolutionary literature has achieved that influence in the space of fifteen years. The high s tandard demanded of literature, which is being rapidly remoulded by life itself and by the cultural revolutionary work of Lenins Party, is due to the high estima tion in which the Party holds the importance of the literary art. There has neve r been a state in the world where science and literature enjoyed such comradely help, such care for the raising of professional proficiency among the workers of art and science. The proletarian state must educate thousands of first class cra ftsmen of culture, engineers of the soul. This is necessary in order to restore to the whole mass of the working people the right to develop their intelligence, ta

lents and faculties a right of which they have been deprived everywhere else in the world. This aim, which is a fully practicable one, imposes on us writers the need of strict responsibility for our work and our social behaviour. This place s us not only in the position, traditional to realist literature, of judges of th e world and men, critics of life, but gives us the right to participate directly in the construction of a new life, in the process of changing the world. The possess ion of this right should impress every writer with a sense of his duty and respo nsibility for all literature, for all the aspects in it which should, not be the re. The Union of Soviet Writers unites 1,500 persons. In ratio to the total popu lation, we thus have one writer to every hundred thousand readers. This is not m uch; the inhabitants of the Scandinavian peninsula at the beginning of this century had one writer to every 230 readers. The population of the Union of Socialist Republics is constant1y and almost dally demonstrating i ts giftedness, but we should not think that we shall soon have 1,500 writers of genius. Let us hope for fifty. Not to be deceived, let us say five writers of ge nius and forty-five very talented ones. I think this figure will do for a start. In the balance, we get people who are still insufficiently attentive to realiti es, who organize their material poorly all work on it carelessly. To this balanc e should be added the many hundreds of candidates to the union, and further, hun dreds of beginners in all the republics and regions. Hundreds of them are writing, dozens are appearing in print. During 1933-34, in different towns from Khabarov sk and Komsomolsk to Rostov and Stalingrad, Tashkent, Voronezh, Kabardino-Balkar ia, Tiflis, etc., about thirty symposiums and almanacs have appeared, filled wit h the works of local beginners. It is the duty of critics to judge this work. They still fall to notice it, thou gh it is high time they did so. This work, whatever its merits, is evidence of a profound cultural process going on in the mass of the people. In reading these books, you feel that the authors of the different verses, stories and plays are worker correspondents and village correspondents. I believe that we have at leas t ten thousand young people who aspire to work in literature. Needless to say, t he future Literary Institute will not be able to absorb a tenth part of this hos t. Now I will ask: Why has the Congress of Writers been organized, and what aims wi ll the future union pursue? If it is only for the professional welfare of litera ry workers, it was hardly worth making such a great fuss about. It seems to me t hat the union should make its aim not only the professional interests of writers , but the interests of literature in general. The union should in some degree as sume guidance over the army of beginners, should organize it, distribute its for ces to different tasks and teach these forces to work on material derived both f rom the past and from the present. Work is being done in our country to bring ou t a History of Factories and Plants. It appears that it has been a very difficul t job to get highly skilled writers to help in this work. So far excel1ent work has been done only by the poetess Shkapskaya and by Maria Levberg; the others no t only do not touch the raw material, but do not find time even to edit what has already been prepared. We do not know the history of our past. It is proposed t o publish a history of the former ducal and border towns, from the time of their foundation down to our own day, and a beginning has already been made. This wor k is to describe to us, in sketches and narrative form, life in feudal Russia, t he colonial policy of the princes of Muscovy and the tsars, the development of c ommerce and industry; it will present a picture of the exploitation of the peasa ntry by the prince, the waywode, the merchant, the petty trader, the church, and conclude the whole with the organization of the collective farms the act of com plete and real emancipation of the peasantry from the power of the earth, from the yoke of ownership. We should know the past history of the federal republics. To these and many other collective works hundreds of literary beginners can be att racted, and this work will furnish them with the widest scope for self-education , for raising their proficiency through collective work on raw material and thro ugh mutual self-criticism. We should know about everything that existed in the p ast not in the way it has already been narrated, but as this illuminated: by the teaching of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, which is being realized by work in the factori

es and on the farms, work which is organized and guided by a new force in histor y by the will and reason of the proletariat of the Union of Socialist Republics. Such, in my view, is the task of the Writers Union. Our congress should be not only a report to our readers, not only a parade of our endowments; it should tak e upon itself the organization of literature, the training of young writers on w ork of nation-wide significance, aimed at a full knowledge of our countrys past a nd present. Notes 1. Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. 2. In Russian, these names are derived fro m words meaning pig, dog, priest, fistula, etc. The adopted names are derived fr om the words new, partisan, carpenter, etc. Ed. 3. From the word singer. Ed. Maxim Gorky Archive !