This quote is from the memoir of Boris Mazurin, Tolstoyan peasant communist. It is the only reference I have seen to the 'Ao-ists' - I can't find anything on google anyway. Has anyone come across them elsewhere? Or shall I revive Aoism from scratch?

'Here I want to say something about the Ao-ists Serxhanov and Shvilpe, … Serzhanov once said to me “Strictly speaking, we are not anarchists but extarchists – that is, extragovernmentarians … now you Tolstoyans strive for what is natural, but we, on the other hand, consider that what is natural is wild chaos. We believe that everything, everything without exception in the realm of human life, needs to be perfected and contrived. We must contrive everything so that it is reasonable and expedient. For example, take the language that people speak today – it is nonsensical chaos. Every word ought to have a connection with related words and concepts. Take ‘nose’ for example. Why nose? Where does that come from? It must come from ‘odour’ or ‘smell’. So we logically should call it a smeller, not a nose, and so on.” To be sure, I have only taken a crude example here, but they had invented their own language, “Ao” they called it. They spoke to each other in it. They gave themselves names that had their own meaning. Serzhanov was Biaebi, something like ‘inventor of life’ and Shvilpe was ‘Biabi’, something of the same kind. In Russian they called themselves universal inventors. They dreamed of creating artificial suns and setting up interplanetary communications. They wanted to make human life eternal. They had their own club in Tverskaya street (Moscow), and connected with it the so-called “sociotechnicum” where they conducted various experiments on themselves. They said it was just plain stupid for people to waste one-third of their life in sleep, and they practiced trying to sleep as little as possible, so as to save as much of that valuable time as they could. They said a man eats too much, that food burns in the body, and as a result he burns out quickly. We need to invent some kind of concentrated food like pills – “pictons” they called them – so that a man could swallow them and get everything he needed for the life of his body, but at the same time this food would be non excremental, so that his body would not wear out, but would last a long time. They conducted experiments of this sort; and one of our future commune members. Misha Rogovin, almost died as a result. They said nature was unfair: it made some people good-looking and others ugly. This needed to be corrected – everybody should wear masks. They thought the spruce was the most perfect tree in its structure. They considered Tolstoy to be the greatest inventor in the field of morality.

'In our collective life they were indispensable men – industrious, quick to learn, sociable, and always merry. They would not allow any tobacco, vodka, cursing or debauchery, which along with their vegetarianism, antimilitarism, and rejection of the state, paved the way for their closeness to us Tolstoyans in practical life. They loved farming, but it swallowed up all their time, and they wanted to work in their own way towards their own goals, so they left the commune around the end of 1923.'

(From: 'Memoirs of Peasant Tolstoyans in Soviet Russia', edited and translated by William Edgerton.)

Darius

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