Struve was not entirely alone in trying to alert educated society. In 1909, he joined six other thinkers to publish Landmarks: A Collection of Essays on the Russian Intelligentsia. In addition to Alexander Izgoev, another prominent Kadet, the contributors included Nikolai Berdyaev, Sergei Bulgakov, and Semyon Frank, who would reshape Russian Orthodox theology; legal scholar Bogdan Kistyakovsky; and literary critic Mikhail Gershenzon, who edited the volume. One of the most important documents of Russian thought, Landmarks is a must for anyone investigating the mentality of the intelligentsia.
Landmarks caused unprecedented scandal. It went through five editions in about a year, and the fifth included an appendix listing more than two hundred books and articles answering (mostly vilifying) it. If the contributors aimed to promote reasoned dialogue, foster intellectual tolerance, and sway liberal opinion away from automatic radicalism, they failed spectacularly. Most Kadets dissociated themselves from the book, and the party leader Milyukov toured the country to denounce it for betraying the sacred traditions of the Russian intelligentsia. The volume’s unforgivable sin, Frank explained, lay in its criticism of the basic sacred dogma of the radical intelligentsia—the “mystique” of revolution. This was regarded as an audacious and quite intolerable betrayal of the age-old sacred testament of the Russian intelligentsia, the betrayal of the tradition handed down by the prophets and saints of Russian social thought—Belinsky, Granovsky, Chernyshevsky, Pisarev.
To follow the volume’s argument, one needs to grasp how the contributors used the words “intelligentsia” and “intelligent” (member of the intelligentsia). “Intelligentsia” is a word that originated in Russia, where it was coined about 1860. Used in its strict, proper, or classical sense, it means something entirely different from its English equivalent. To be an intelligent it was by no means sufficient (or even necessary) to be well-educated. And if by “intellectual” one means a curious person thinking for himself or herself, then intelligent was close to its opposite.
Three characteristics identified a classical intelligent. To begin with, an intelligent identified primarily as an intelligent, rather than by his social class, profession, ethnic group, or other social category. No one would have considered Tolstoy an intelligent, for example, in part because he used his title “Count.”
Unless an intelligent was wealthy or, like Lenin, could become a professional revolutionary living at his party’s expense, he had to work, but as a matter of honor he did not take his profession seriously. As Izgoev remarks,
The average, rank-and-file intelligent usually does not know his job and does not like it. He is a poor teacher, a poor engineer. . . . He regards his profession . . . as a sideline that does not deserve respect. If he is enthusiastic about his profession . . . he can expect the cruelest sarcasm from his friends.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor