, 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
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