A summary of Gorky’s “Untimely Thoughts”

The book consists of short notes by M. Gorky, published in the Petrograd newspaper “New Life” from May 1, 1917 to June 16, 1918.

“The Russian people were married to Freedom.” But this people must throw off the centuries-old oppression of the police regime. The author notes that the political victory is only the beginning. Only nationwide and democratized knowledge as an instrument of interclass struggle and the development of culture will help the Russians to win a complete victory. A multimillion-minded philistine, politically illiterate and socially ill-bred, is dangerous. “The organization of the country’s creative forces is necessary for us, like bread and air.” Creative power is a person, his weapon is spirituality and culture.

Fading away the spirit was discovered by the war: Russia is weak in the face of a cultured and organized enemy. People who shouted about the salvation of Europe from the false shackles of civilization

in the spirit of true culture, quickly ceased:

“The spirit of true culture” was a stench of all kinds of ignorance, disgusting selfishness, rotten laziness and carelessness.

“If the Russian people are not able to give up the most brutal violence against man – he does not have freedom.” The author considers foolishness and cruelty to be the native enemies of Russians. It is necessary to cultivate in oneself a sense of disgust for murder:

Murder and violence are arguments of despotism, … killing a person does not mean… killing an idea.

To speak the truth is the most difficult art of all. It is inconvenient for the layman and unacceptable for him. Gorky discusses the atrocities of war. War is the senseless extermination of people and fertile lands. Art and science are raped by militarism. Despite the talk about brotherhood and the unity of the interests of mankind, the world plunged into bloody chaos. The author notes that everyone is guilty of this. How much useful for the development of the state could make the dead in the war, working for the good of

the country.

But we are exterminating millions of lives and huge reserves of labor energy for murder and destruction.

Only culture, according to Gorky, will save the Russians from their main enemy – stupidity. After the revolution, the proletariat received the opportunity for creativity, but so far it has confined itself to the “watery” feuilletons of the decree commissioners. It is in the proletariat that the author sees the dream of the triumph of justice, reason, beauty, “the victory of man over the beast and cattle.”

The main conductor of culture is the book. However, valuable libraries are destroyed, printing is almost stopped.

From one of the champions of monarchism, the author learns that even after the revolution there is lawlessness: arrests are made according to a pike command, prisoners are cruelly treated. An official of the old regime, a cadet or Octobrist, becomes the enemy for the present regime, and the attitude “according to humanity” to him is the most heinous.

After the revolution there was a lot of looting: the crowds devastated whole cellars, wine from which could be sold to Sweden and provide the country with the necessary – manufacture, cars, medicines. “This is a Russian rebellion without socialists in spirit, without the participation of socialist psychology.”

According to the author, Bolshevism will not fulfill the aspirations of the uncultured masses, the proletariat has not won. The seizure of banks does not give people bread – hungry. In prisons, innocent people again sit, “the revolution shows no signs of a spiritual revival of man.” They say that first you need to take power into your hands. But the author objects:

There is no poison more vile than power over people, we must remember this, so that the authorities will not poison us…

Culture, especially the European one, can help the foolish Russian to become more humane, to teach to think, because even for many literate people there is no difference between criticism and slander.

Freedom of speech, the path of which the revolution has paved, is, for the time being, the freedom of slander. The press raised the question: “Who is to blame for the ruin of Russia?” Each of the debaters is sincerely convinced that his opponents are to blame. It is now, in these tragically days, we should remember how poorly developed in the Russian people is the sense of personal responsibility and how “we are accustomed to punish our neighbors for our sins.”

In the blood of the Russian people, the slave blood of the Tatar-Mongol yoke and serfdom is still alive. But now “the disease has come out,” and the Russians will pay for their passivity and Asian inertia. Only a culture and spiritual cleansing will help them heal.

The most sinful and dirty people on earth, stupid in good and evil, vodka-tied, disfigured by the cynicism of violence… and, at the same time, incomprehensibly good-natured, – in the end, it’s a talented people.

We need to teach people to love the Motherland, to awaken the desire to learn in the peasant. The true essence of culture is in disgust for everything that is dirty, deceitful, that “humiliates a person and makes him suffer.”

Gorky condemns the despotism of Lenin and Trotsky: they are rotten from power. With them there is no freedom of speech, just as under Stolypin. The people are for Lenin as an ore, from which there is a chance to “cast off socialism.” He learned from books what the people can raise, although he never knew the people. The leader led to the death of both the revolution and the workers. The revolution should open for Russia democracy, violence must go away – the spirit and reception of caste.

For the slave is the greatest joy to see his lord defeated, because he does not know the joy, more worthy of man – the joy of “being free from a feeling of enmity towards one’s neighbor.” It will be known – it is not worth living if there is no faith in the brotherhood of people and confidence in the victory of love. As an example, the author leads Christ – the immortal idea of ​​mercy and humanity.

The government can credit itself for the fact that the self-esteem of a Russian person is increasing: the sailors shout that for each of their heads they will not shoot hundreds, but thousands of heads of rich people. For Gorky it is a cry of cowardly and unbridled beasts:

Of course, it’s easier to kill than to convince.

It took little care to make the Russian people better. The throat of the press is clamped down by the “new power,” but the press is able to make the bitterness not so ugly, because “the people learn from us anger and hatred.”

Be more human in these days of general brutality.

In the world, an evaluation is given to a person simply: does he love, does he know how to work? “If so, you are a man needed by the world.” And since the Russians do not like to work and do not know how, and the West European world knows this, “then – it will be very bad for us, worse than we expect…” The revolution gave scope to bad instincts, and, at the same time, “all the intellectual forces of democracy, all the moral energy of the country.”

The author believes that a woman with the charm of love can turn men into people, into children. For Gorky, the wildness that a mother-woman, the source of all good in spite of destruction, demands that all Bolsheviks and peasants be hanged. The woman is the mother of Christ and Judah, Ivan the Terrible and Machiavelli, geniuses and criminals. Russia will not perish if a woman pours light into this bloody chaos of these days.

They put people who have brought much benefit to society. They put the Cadets, and in fact their party represents the interests of a significant number of people. Commissars from Smolny do not care about the fate of the Russian people: “In the eyes of their leaders you are still not a man.” The phrase “We express the will of the people” is an adornment of the speech of the government, which always seeks to master the will of the masses, even with a bayonet.

Equality of the Jews is one of the best achievements of the revolution: at last they gave an opportunity to work for people who know how to do it better. Jews, to the amazement of the author, find more love for Russia than many Russians. And the author considers the attacks on the Jews due to the fact that a few of them turned out to be Bolsheviks are unreasonable. An honest Russian person has to feel shame “for a Russian bungler who, on a difficult day of life, certainly looks for his enemy somewhere outside himself, and not in the abyss of his stupidity.”

Bitter is outraged by the share of soldiers in the war: they perish, and officers receive orders. A soldier is a litter. Known cases of fraternization of Russian and German soldiers on the front: apparently, common sense pushed them to this.

The author writes that there are more than a hundred starving people in the Obukhov hospital, 59 of them are under the age of 30. Famous people of Russia also die of starvation, which have done a lot for their homeland.

For the socio-aesthetic education of the masses, Gorky, in comparison with Russian literature, considers the European one more useful – Rostand, Dickens, Shakespeare, and also Greek tragedies and French comedies: “I stand for this repertoire because – I dare say – I know the spirit of the working masses “.

The author speaks of the need to unite the intellectual forces of the experienced intelligentsia with the forces of the young workers ‘and peasants’ intelligentsia. Then it is possible to revive the spiritual forces of the country and improve it. This is the path to culture and freedom that must rise above politics:

Politics, whoever does it, is always disgusting. She is always accompanied by lies, slander and violence.

Horror, stupidity, insanity from a man, like the beautiful things he created on earth. Bitter appeals to man, to his belief in the victory of good beginnings over evil. Man is sinful, but he redeems his sins and dirt with unbearable suffering.

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A summary of Gorky’s “Untimely Thoughts”