One of the strongest impacts of Western thought on Eastern peoples was the “discovery of the people.” Elites suddenly “realized” that they were “brothers” of ordinary poor people of the same region with peculiar folk cultures, rather than of elite of distant regions who shared with them aristocratic high cultures. Modern intellectuals had to lead and help ordinary people, who together with them formed a “nation.” Among Kazakh intellectuals who had close contacts with Russian intellectuals, the Narodnik (Populist) idea of “devotion to the people” was especially popular. However this idea was combined with the didactic tradition of Kazakh orators, and Kazakh intellectuals did not strive to learn the “true national spirit” from ordinary people, but admonished them to adapt themselves to the modern world. This combination, on one hand, served as a basis of their highly ethical and selfsacrificing attitude. On the other hand, it could lead to paternalistic attitudes. Especially during the revolt of 1916 and revolutions in 1917, they often scolded people who created disorders. In the political context, despite their sincere democratic ideal, intellectuals sometimes demanded people to obey the authority of their leaders and government. The paper will examine how Kazakh intellectuals perceived and treated the “people” from the mid-nineteenth century to the early Soviet period.