narodniki [key], Russian populists, adherents of an agrarian socialist movement active from the 1860s to the end of the 19th cent. Influenced by the writings of Aleksandr Herzen, the narodniki attempted to adapt socialist doctrine to Russian conditions; they envisaged a society in which sovereignty would rest with small self-governing economic units resembling the traditional Russian village commune and held together in a loose voluntary confederation replacing the state. The narodniki first went to the villages in 1874 to spread their doctrine among the peasants, but they were rejected. In 1876 they formed a secret society, known as Land and Liberty, to promote a mass revolutionary uprising. Expelled from the countryside by the police, they soon became dominated by the movement's terroristic wing, the People's Will, formed in 1879, which undertook several political assassinations; in 1881 a member of the group assassinated Czar Alexander II. Thereafter populism declined. In 1901 the Socialist Revolutionary party was founded as the heir to the narodniki movement.
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