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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 577

And who is most to blame, the Czar? "The one to blame is he who first said: 'This is mine.' That man has now been dead some several thousand years, and it is not worth the while to bear him a grudge," Said the Little Russian, jesting. His eyes, however, had a perturbed expression. "And how about the rich, and those who stand up for them? Are they right?" The Little Russian clapped his hands to his head; then pulled his mustache, then spoke for a long time about life and about the people. But from his talk it always appeared as if all the people were to blame, and this did not satisfy Nicolay . . . He left dissatisfied and gloomy. Once he said: "No, there must be people to blame! I'm sure there are! I tell you, we must plow over the whole of life like a weedy field, showing no mercy!"

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Russian factory workers inspired by socialist literature become zealous to remake society according to their new beliefs in the years before the Russian revolution of 1905. Some of these philosophers of the proletariat argue that they must educate those around them about socialism to win them over to their side. Others argue that this will take too long and that they must "plow over" anyone that stands in their way "showing no mercy." The author is showing us the debate on the left between the socialists (who wanted gradual and uncoerced adoption of socialism) and the communists (who wanted the revolutionary and violent imposition of socialism).

"That's what I say, the record clerk [at the local factory] once said about us!" the mother said. For a while the two were silent.

Here Maxim Gorki has the namesake of the book point out, in the sentiments of the factory clerk, how the guardians of the current social order viewed the socialists (as a pernicious threat to be combatted). He has the same contempt for the socialists as they have for him. Both sides see the other as standing in the way of the society that they want. A society that upholds private property as sacrosanct must inevitably view socialists as gang of robbers come to loot their property. For socialists, private property itself is the root of evil, and all goods must be shared more...

(The entire section contains 577 words.)

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