The Material Question

‘On our way we sometimes came across formerly well-cultivated lands and excellent orchards, which, though overgrown and wild, were still yielding enough fruit to feed thousands.

‘Well then, only at the end of about two months, worn out with fatigue and with our provisions almost gone, did we succeed in reaching the town of Sochi on the shores of the Black Sea.

‘Here, because certain members of the expedition, during what might be called our “Way of Golgotha”, were not equal to the situation, but manifested properties not corresponding at all to the high aim we had in view, I decided to part with them and went on with the others. We travelled now by ordinary roads to the town of Tiflis, where there was still, for that tumultuous time, a relative degree of order under the rule of the Menshevik democrats of Georgian nationality.

‘Four years had passed from the beginning of the organization of the Institute in Moscow up to the time of our arrival in Tiflis. Together with time had gone money, and all the more rapidly because, towards the end of this period, money had had to be spent not only for the work of the Institute itself, but on much else besides which had not been foreseen in the original calculations.

‘The trouble was that the catastrophic events in Russia, the colossal upheavals, the war and civil war, had shaken people out of their usual grooves, and everything was so mixed up and turned upside down that the wealthy and secure of yesterday found themselves the totally destitute of today. This was the situation of many of those who had left everything to follow my ideas, and who during this period, through their sincerity and corresponding manifestations, had become like next of kin to me; and so I had now to provide a means of livelihood for nearly two hundred people.

‘My difficulty in this respect was complicated by the fact that many of my relatives were in a still worse position than the others, and I had not only to support them financially, but to provide shelter for them and all their families, since most of them had been living in places in Transcaucasia which had been completely devastated and pillaged in the civil war and by the Turks.

‘In order that you may picture to yourselves the generally prevailing horror, I will describe one of the many scenes I witnessed.

‘This was at the time when I was in Essentuki, and life there was still relatively calm.