In Pursuit of a Different Revolution: Russian Populists of the Seventies Generation in 1917
Nikolai Charushin and Vera Figner, both populists of the “1870s generation,” late in their lives played a role in the events of 1917, responding first with tempered enthusiasm, and then with trepidation over the growing chaos and polarization that led up to the Bolshevik revolution in October. Highly active in the events of that year, seventies generation populists were on the losing side, and have open been criticized for misreading the situation in the country, having naïve beliefs or hegemonic and patronizing attitudes about the peasantry and little experience with real world politics. In fact, if their full life stories are taken into account, and especially the two decades before 1970, when after being released from incarceration and exile to return to European Russia, they were fully immersed in the activities of the zemstvo, local politics in general and newspaper affairs. Their caution, moderate stance and gradualism were based not so much on inexperience as on long exposure to the peasantry and the needs of the countryside as well as rather prescient awareness of the potential for catastrophe in the situation at that time.