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Anna Karenina 194


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that Im a bad manager, or that Ive sunk my capital for the increase of my rents." "Oh, rent!" Levin cried with horror. "Rent there may be in Europe, where land has been improved by the labor put into it, but with us all the land is deteriorating from the labor put into it--in other words theyre working it out; so theres no question of rent." "How no rent? Its a law." "Then were outside the law; rent explains nothing for us, but simply muddles us. No, tell me how there can be a theory of rent?..." "Will you have some junket? Masha, pass us some junket or raspberries." He turned to his wife. "Extraordinarily late the raspberries are lasting this year." And in the happiest frame of mind Sviazhsky got up and walked off, apparently supposing the conversation to have ended at the very point when to Levin it seemed that it was only just beginning. Having lost his antagonist, Levin continued the conversation with the gray-whiskered landowner, trying to prove to him that all the difficulty arises from the fact that we dont find out the peculiarities and habits of our laborer; but the landowner, like all men who think independently and in isolation, was slow in taking in any other persons idea, and particularly partial to his own. He stuck to it that the Russian peasant is a swine and likes swinishness, and that to get him out of his swinishness one must have authority, and there is none; one must have the stick, and we have become so liberal that we have all of a sudden replaced the stick that served us for a thousand years by lawyers and model prisons, where the worthless, stinking peasant is fed on good soup and has a fixed allowance of cubic feet of air. "What makes you think," said Levin, trying to get back to the question, "that its impossible to find some relation to the laborer in which the labor would become productive?" "That never could be so with the Russian peasantry; weve no power over them," answered the landowner. "How can new conditions be found?" said Sviazhsky. Having eaten some junket and lighted a cigarette, he came back to the discussion. "All possible relations to the labor force have been defined and studied," he said. "The relic of barbarism, the primitive commune with each guarantee for all, will disappear of itself; serfdom has been abolished--there remains nothing but free labor, and its forms are fixed and ready made, and must be adopted. Permanent hands, day-laborers, rammers--you cant get out of those forms." "But Europe is dissatisfied with these forms." "Dissatisfied, and seeking new ones. And will find them, in all probability." "Thats just what I was meaning," answered Levin. "Why shouldnt we seek them for ourselves?" "Because it would be just like inventing afresh the means for constructing railways. They are ready, invented." "But if they dont do for us, if theyre stupid?" said Levin. And again he detected the expression of alarm in the eyes of Sviazhsky. "Oh, yes; well bury the world under our caps! Weve found the secret Europe was seeking for! Ive heard all that; but, excuse me, do you know all thats been done in Europe on the question of the organization of labor?" "No, very little." "That question is now absorbing the best minds in Europe. The Schulze-Delitsch movement.... And then all this enormous literature of the labor question, the most liberal Lassalle movement...the Mulhausen experiment? Thats a fact by now, as youre probably aware." "I have some idea of it, but very vague." "No, you only say that; no doubt you know all about it as well as I do. Im not a professor of sociology, of course, but it interested me, and really, if it interests you, you ought to study it." "But what conclusion have they come to?" "Excuse me..." The two neighbors had risen, and Sviazhsky, once more checking Levin in his inconvenient habit of peeping into what was beyond the outer chambers of his mind, went to see his guests out. Chapter 28 Levin was insufferably bored that evening with the ladies; he was stirred as he had never been before by the idea that the dissatisfaction he was feeling with his system of managing his land was not an exceptional case, but the general condition of things in Russia; that the organization of some relation of the laborers to the soil in which they would work, as with the peasant he had met half-way to the Sviazhskys, was not

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