"Which means, you've borrowed an idea, stripped it of all that
gave it its force, and want to make believe that it's something
new," said Nikolay, angrily tugging at his necktie.
"But my idea has nothing in common..."
"That, anyway," said Nikolay Levin, with an ironical smile, his
eyes flashing malignantly, "has the charm of--what's one to call
it?--geometrical symmetry, of clearness, of definiteness. It
may be a Utopia. But if once one allows the possibility of
making of all the past a tabula rasa--no property, no family--
then labor would organize itself. But you gain nothing..."
"Why do you mix things up? I've never been a communist."
"But I have, and I consider it's premature, but rational, and
it has a future, just like Christianity in its first ages."
"All that I maintain is that the labor force ought to be
investigated from the point of view of natural science; that is
to say, it ought to be studied, its qualities ascertained..."
"But that's utter waste of time. That force finds a certain form
of activity of itself, according to the stage of its development.
There have been slaves first everywhere, then metayers; and we
have the half-crop system, rent, and day laborers. What are you
trying to find?"
Levin suddenly lost his temper at these words, because at the
bottom of his heart he was afraid that it was true--true that he
was trying to hold the balance even between communism and the
familiar forms, and that this was hardly possible.
"I am trying to find means of working productively for myself and
for the laborers. I want to organize..." he answered hotly.
"You don't want to organize anything; it's simply just as you've
been all your life, that you want to be original to pose as not
exploiting the peasants simply, but with some idea in view."