We left for Paris in the middle of December. A Party conference was to take place there on the 21st jointly with the Mensheviks. Vladimir Ilyich was utterly engrossed in this conference. The situation called for proper appraisal, and the Party line had to be straightened out to ensure that the Party remained a class party, the vanguard, capable even during the hardest times of keeping in close touch with the rank and file, the masses, of helping them to overcome all difficulties and organize themselves for fresh battles. A check had to be given to the Liquidators. Contacts with the organizations in Russia were poor, and the conference could not rely on any appreciable support from that quarter (the only delegates from Russia were two Muscovites – Baturin from the Urals, followed the next day by Third Duma member Poletayev from St. Petersburg). The Otzovists, rallied in a separate group, were worked up to a strong pitch of excitement. Prior to the conference the Mensheviks had convened a congress of their emigrant groups in Basle, at which a number of breakaway resolutions were adopted. The atmosphere was tense.
Ilyich might not have noticed the great stir and fuss we women made in fixing up our new domestic den for all the interest he took in it. We rented an apartment right on the edge of the town in the Rue Bonier, a street running off the Avenue d'Orleans not far from the Parc Montsouris. It was a large airy flat, which even had mirrors over the fireplaces – a fixture in all the new houses. There was my mother's room, Maria Ilyinichna's (she had arrived in Paris by this time), our own room and a living room. This rather luxurious apartment, however, did not fit in with our way of living and with the "furniture" which we had brought from Geneva. The scorn with which the concierge eyed our white deal tables, plain chairs and stools! Our living room contained just a couple of chairs and a small table. The place was anything but cosy.
I had my hands full right away with all kinds of domestic cares. Household affairs had been much simpler in Geneva. Here it was a great bother. To get the gas connected I had to go up to town three times before I received the necessary written order. The amount of red tape in France is unbelievable. To get books from the lending library you must have a householder to stand surety for you, and our landlord, seeing our miserable furniture, hesitated to do so. The housekeeping, too, at the beginning was a terrible bother. I was not much of a housekeeper; Ilyich and Innokenty were of a different mind, but people who were accustomed to seeing a house run properly were extremely critical of my facile approach.
Life in Paris was a hectic affair. Russian political emigrants were flocking to Paris at that time from all over Europe. Ilyich seldom sat at home during that year. Our people used to sit about in the cafes till late at night. Taratuta was a great lover of cafe life. Gradually the others acquired the habit.
After heated debates at the December Party Conference, we managed nevertheless to chart out a common line. Sotsial-Demokrat was to become the organ of the Party as a whole. At the plenary meeting held after the conference a new editorial board was elected, consisting of Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Martov and Marchlewski. Nine issues of the paper were put out during the year. Martov was in a minority of one on the new editorial board, and he often forgot about his Menshevism. I remember Ilyich once remarking with satisfaction that it was good to work with Martov, as he was an exceedingly gifted journalist. But that was only until Dan arrived.
As to the position within the Bolshevik group, relations with the Otzovists became more strained than ever. The Otzovists became very assertive. By the end of February relations with them were broken off completely.
For about three years prior to this we had been working with Bogdanov and the Bogdanovites hand in hand, and not just working, but fighting side by side. Fighting for a common cause draws people together more than anything. Ilyich, on the other hand, was wonderful at being able to fire people with his ideas, infect them with his enthusiasm, while at the same time bringing out the best in them, taking from them what others had failed to take. Every comrade working with him seemed, as it were, to have a part of Ilyich in him, and that perhaps is why he was so close to them.
The conflict within the group was a nerve-wracking business. I remember Ilyich once coming home after having had words with the Otzovists. He looked awful, and even his tongue seemed to have turned grey. We decided that he was to go to Nice for a week to get away from the hurly-burly and take it easy in the sunshine. He did, and returned fit again.
Studying in Paris was very inconvenient. The Bibliotheque Nationale was a long way off. Vladimir Ilyich usually cycled there, but riding a bicycle in Paris was not what it was in the suburbs of Geneva. It was a great strain. Those cycle rides tired him out. The library closed at lunch time. There was a lot of red-tape in the arrangements for ordering books, and Ilyich swore at the library, and while he was at it, at Paris in general. I wrote to a French professor who had been giving French lessons at the summer courses in Geneva, asking him to recommend some other good libraries. I received an immediate reply, giving me the necessary information. Ilyich made the round of all the libraries mentioned but none of them was suitable. In the end his bicycle was stolen. He used to leave it on the stairs of a house next door to the Bibliothetque Nationale and pay the concierge ten centimes a day for it. When he came for the bicycle and found it gone, the concierge declared that she had not been hired to look after the bicycle but only to let Ilyich keep it on the stairs.
Riding a bicycle in Paris and the suburbs required great care. Once, on his way to Juvisy, Ilyich was nearly run over by a motor-car. He barely managed to jump clear, and the bicycle was wrecked.
Innokenty arrived after his escape from Solvychegodsk. Zhitomirsky very kindly offered him lodgings in his flat. Innokenty was very ill when he arrived. The chains he had worn going out to his place of exile had chafed his leg so badly that they had left deep wounds on it. Our doctors examined his leg and said a lot of alarming things about it. Ilyich went to consult Professor Dubouche, an excellent French surgeon, who had worked in Odessa during the Revolution of 1905. Ilyich went to see him together with Natasha Gopner, who had known him in Odessa. When Dubouche heard the awful things our doctor comrades had told Innokenty, he laughed, and said: "Your doctor comrades are good revolutionaries, but as doctors they are asses!" Ilyich laughed until he cried, and afterwards often repeated the story. Innokenty nevertheless had to take a long course of medical treatment for his leg.
Ilyich was very glad that Innokenty had arrived. Both were elated at the fact that Plekhanov had begun to dissociate himself from the Liquidators. Plekhanov had already announced his withdrawal from the editorial board of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata (Voice of the Social-Democrat), where the Liquidators had gained control in December 1908. Afterwards, he withdrew his resignation, but his relations with the Liquidators kept growing more strained, and when the first volume of the Menshevik symposium The Social Movement in Russia at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century appeared in 1909 containing an article by Potresov denying the leading role of the proletariat in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, Plekhanov on May 26 definitely resigned from the editorial board of Goles Sotsial-Demokrata. Both Ilyich and Innokenty still hoped that cooperation with Plekhanov would be possible. The younger generation did not have the same feelings for Plekhanov that the older generation of Marxists had, since in the lives of the latter he had played a decisive role.
Ilyich and Innokenty took the struggle on the philosophic front very much to heart. To them philosophy was a weapon in the struggle, organically bound up with the question of evaluating all phenomena from the point of view of dialectic materialism, with the questions of the practical struggle in all directions. Ilyich wrote to Anna Ilyinichna in Russia, asking her to speed up the publication Of his book. An enlarged meeting of the editorial board of Proletary was planned, at which it was intended to make a complete break with the Otzovists. "Things look sad over here," Vladimir Ilyich wrote to his sister Anna Ilyinichna on May 26. "There will probably be Spaltung (a split); I hope in about a month or six weeks to be able to give you exact information about it."
May saw the appearance of Ilyich's book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. In this book he crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's of the controversy. For Ilyich the questions of philosophy had a direct bearing on those of the struggle against religion. That is why he read a paper on the subject of "Religion and the Workers' Party" at the Proletary club in May, and wrote an article "Attitude of the Workers' Party towards Religion" for No. 45 of Proletary and another entitled "Classes and the Party in Their Attitude towards Religion and the Church" for No. 6 of Sotsial-Demokrat. These articles, especially the one in Proletary, have not lost their significance to this day. They lay heavy stress on the class character of religion, and show that in the hands of the bourgeoisie religion is a means of diverting the masses from the class struggle and for drugging their minds. The fight on this front could not be ignored or underestimated, but neither could it be oversimplified; the social roots of religion had to be shown up, and the question dealt with in all its complexity.
Ilyich realized the harmfulness of religion when still a boy of fifteen. He stopped wearing the cross and going to church. In those days this was not such a simple thing as it is now.
Most harmful of all, according to Lenin, was the subtle type of religion, shorn of too patent absurdities and external slavish forms. Such a religion, he believed, was liable to have a stronger influence on people. "God-building," the attempt to create a new religion, a new belief, was to him such a subtle religion.
In June the delegates began to arrive for the enlarged meeting of the Proletary editorial board. As a matter of fact this enlarged editorial board was the Bolshevik Gentle, which at that time also included the Vperyodists.
Golubkov (Davydov) arrived from Moscow. He was a Party worker on the Central Committee Bureau in Russia, where he worked under the direction of Innokenty, and had attended the Paris Conference in 1908. Shulyatikov (Donat) and Shurkanov, a Duma deputy (who later turned out to be an agent provocateur), arrived as well. The latter did not come to attend the conference, though. Following the French custom, our comrades went to a cafe with them. Shurkanov attacked the beer, drinking mug after mug. Shulyatikov drank, too, although it was bad for him – he suffered from hereditary alcoholism. The beer brought on a sharp nervous fit, and on leaving the cafe he suddenly attacked Shurkanov with his walking stick. Innokenty and Golubkov could barely manage him. They brought him to our place. I sat with him while they went to look for a doctor and rent a room for him in the suburbs. They found a room in the Fontenay-aux-Roses, where Semashko and Vladimirsky lived.
I sat with the sick man in our bare living room for about two hours. He tossed about nervously and kept; jumping up, seeing visions of his sister, who had been hanged. I tried to calm him, and divert his thoughts, and held his hand. As soon as I let it go he became restless again. I was greatly relieved when Innokenty and Golubkov at last came for him.
The conference of the enlarged editorial board was attended by members of the editorial board – Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bogdanov, representatives of the Bolshevik locals Tomsky (St. Petersburg), Shulyatikov (Moscow) and Nakoryakov (the Urals); members of the Central Committee Innokenty, Rykov, Goldenberg, Taratuta and Marat (Schanzer). Others present were Skrypnik (Shchur), Lyubimov (Sommer, Mark), Poletayev (a deputy of the Third Duma), and Golubkov (Davydov). The conference lasted from July 4 to 13.
Resolutions were adopted on the Otzovists and Ultimatumists, for Party unity, and against the holding of a special Bolshevik congress. The Capri school was a question apart. Bogdanov had seen clearly that the Bolshevik group was bound to break up, and had begun in good time to select and organize his own group. Bogdanov, Alexinsky, Gorky and Lunacharsky had organized a Social-Democratic propagandist high school for workers. Pupils for the school were drafted in Russia by a worker named Vilonov. Staunch reliable men were chosen. After the experiences of the revolution the workers keenly felt the need for theoretical training, and besides, the lull in the struggle now allowed time for that sort of thing. Although they went to Capri to study, it was clear to anyone with experience of Party work that the school at Capri would lay the foundations for a new group. And so the meeting of the enlarged editorial board of Proletary condemned the organization of a new group. Bogdanov declared that he would not accept the decisions of the conference, and was expelled from the Bolshevik group. Krasin supported him. The Bolshevik group was breaking up.
Maria Ilyinichna had fallen seriously ill in the spring, before the enlarged meeting of the editorial board. Ilyich was greatly upset. Luckily, a timely operation checked the disease. The operation was made by Dubouche. The convalescence, however, was rather slow. What she needed was to get out of town somewhere in the country.
The conference had told on Ilyich, and he, too, was in need of a holiday somewhere out in the country, away from all the petty strife and squabbles of emigrant life.
Ilyich began to scan the French papers for notices of cheap boarding-houses. He found one such pension in the village of Bombon in the Department of Saône-et-Loire, where they charged only ten francs a day for four persons. We found it very comfortable and spent about a month there.
Ilyich did not work at Bombon, and we tried to avoid talking shop. We went out for walks and cycled almost every day to the Clamart woods fifteen kilometres away. We also observed French ways of life. Among the boarders in our pension were various clerks, a saleswoman from a big store with her husband and daughter, a valet to some count, and others of that class. This petty-bourgeois crowd, steeped in middle-class notions and prejudices, made a very interesting study. On the one hand, they were a downright practical crowd, who took good care that the food was up to standard and everything was made comfortable for them. On the other hand, they all aped the gentry, for whom they were anxious to be taken. Madame Lagourette (the saleswoman) was typical in this respect. She had obviously been through the mill, and liked to tell risque stories of which she had a large fund, yet at the same time she dreamt of how she would lead her daughter Martha to her first communion, saying how touching it would be, etc., etc. Of course, too large a dose of this mediocrity was rather boring. It was a good thing that we were able to keep aloof from them and live our own way. On the whole, Ilyich had a good holiday at Bombon.
We changed our quarters in the autumn, moving to an apartment in a quiet side-street – Rue Marie Rose – -in the same neighbourhood. We had two rooms and a kitchen, with windows overlooking a garden. We made our living room in the kitchen this time, and it was there that all heart-to-heart talks were held. In the autumn Ilyich was all set for work. He laid down a rigorous "regime" as he called it. He got up at eight, went to the Bibliotheque Nationale and came home at two. He did a lot of work at home. I tried my best to keep people away from him. We always had crowds at our place, a regular crush, especially now that with the reaction rampant in Russia and the adverse conditions of work prevailing there the number of Russian political emigrants kept growing swiftly. People arriving from Russia were full of enthusiastic accounts of what was going on there, and then somehow they gradually wilted. The petty worries of emigrant life, the daily cares and struggles to make a living got them down.
In the autumn the pupils of the Capri school invited Ilyich to come over and read them some lectures. Ilvich flatly refused. He explained to them the factional character of the school and invited them to Paris. A factional fight started within the Capri school. At the beginning of November five pupils (there were twelve in all) including Vilonov, the school's organizer, took their stand as definite Leninists and were expelled from the school. Nothing could better have illustrated how right Ilyich had been in pointing out the factional character of the school. The expelled pupils came to Paris. I remember our first meeting with Vilonov. He began to speak about his work in Ekaterinoslav. We had frequently received correspondence from a worker in Ekaterinoslav who had signed himself "Misha Zavodsky." His correspondence had been very interesting and dealt with the most pressing problems of Party and factory life. "Do you happen to know Misha Zavodsky?" I asked Vilonov. "Why, that's me," he answered. This immediately disposed Ilyich in his favour, and he and Misha had a good long chat that day. Later in the day Ilyich wrote to Gorky: "Dear Alexei Maximovich. I have been fully convinced all this time that you and Comrade Misha were the firmest supporters of the new faction, with whom it would be absurd for me to attempt to speak in a friendly way. Today I met Comrade Misha for the first time and had a heart-to-heart talk with him about Party affairs and about yourself, and I see how badly mistaken I was. My word, the philosopher Hegel was right: life advances by way of contradictions, and living contradictions are much richer, more varied and pithy than the human mind is at first able to grasp. I regarded the school only as the centre of a new faction. This proved to be wrong – not in the sense that it is not the centre of a new faction (the school has been and still is such a centre), but in the sense that this is not complete, it is not the whole truth. Subjectively, certain persons were making such a centre of the school, and objectively that is what it was, but apart from this the school drafted real foremost workers from real working-class life."
And what passionate faith in the strength of the working class is implicit in the end of this letter, in which Ilyich writes about the working class being obliged to forge a party out of heterogeneous and mixed elements. "It will forge it in any case, it will forge a splendid revolutionary Social-Democracy in Russia, forge it sooner than it sometimes seems possible from the point of view of this thrice cursed state of political emigration, forge it sooner than we imagine, judging by certain outward symptoms and separate incidents. Men like Misha are a guarantee of this."
Five other pupils of the Capri school arrived together with Misha. Vanya Kazanets (Pankratov) stood out more strongly opposed to the Capri school than the rest. The others were Lyushvin (Pakhom), Sozyrev (Foma), Ustinov (Vasily) and Romanov (Alya Alexinsky). Ilyich read lectures to them with pleasure. They went back to Russia. Misha had tuberculosis, contracted in the convict labour gangs, where he was brutally treated. We fixed him up in Davos. He did not live long there, however. He died on May 1, 1910.
The rest of the Capri students arrived in Paris at the end of December when their studies were over, and Ilyich delivered lectures to them too. He spoke on current topics, on the Stolypin reform with its "rich peasant" slant, on the leading role of the proletariat and on the Duma group. Kozrev said that one of the Capri pupils, at the beginning, tried to accuse Illyich of attaching more importance to the work of the Duma than to agitation among the troops. Ilyich smiled, and went on to talk about the importance of Duma work. Of course, the idea of work among the troops being slackened in the least degree was farthest from his thoughts, but what he did think was that it should be carried on in greater secrecy. This work, he said, should be done and not talked about. As it happened, a letter had recently been received from Toulon from a group of Social-Democrat sailors on the cruiser Slava, asking for literature and, more particularly for someone to be sent to help carry on revolutionary work among the sailors. Ilyich had sent a comrade there who was experienced in secret work. The man had settled in Toulon. Ilyich did not mention a word about this to the students, of course.
Living with Russia for ever in his thoughts, Ilyich at the same time made a careful study of the French labour movement. The French Socialist Party at the time was out-and-out opportunistic. In the spring of 1909, for instance, there was a great strike of the postal employees. The whole city was stirred up over it, but the Party kept aloof. "This is the business of the trade unions and not ours," the leaders said. To us Russians such a division of labour, the withdrawal of the Party from all participation in the economic struggle was simply monstrous.
Ilyich closely followed the election campaign. All political issues were submerged in a morass of personal squabbles and mutual recriminations. As a matter of fact political issues were not discussed at all. Only a few of the meetings were interesting. I saw Jaures at one of them. His sway over the crowd was tremendous, but I did not like his speech – every word seemed to be so carefully calculated. I liked Vaillant's speech much more. This old Communard was a special favourite with the workers. I remember the figure of a tall worker who had come straight from work with his shirt sleeves rolled up. He listened to Vaillant with rapt attention. "That's the stuff to give 'em, old man!" he exclaimed. Two youngsters, the sons of this worker, gazed at the speaker with the same ecstatic admiration. But not all the meetings had a Jaures or a Vaillant to address them. The ordinary speakers played down to their audiences, saying one thing to a working-class audience, and another thing to an audience of intellectuals. Attending the French election meetings gave us a striking picture of what elections are in a "democratic republic." To an outside observer, it was simply astonishing. That is why Ilyich was so fond of the revolutionary music-hall singers who ridiculed the election campaign. I remember a song describing how a candidate went canvassing in a village; he drinks with the peasants, tells them a lot of twaddle, and the tipsy peasants vote for him, singing: "T'as bien dit, mon gars!" (What you say is true, lad!). Having got the peasants' votes, the candidate begins to draw his fifteen thousand francs salary as deputy, and betrays the interests of the peasants.
A socialist member of the Chamber of Deputies by the name of Dumas visited us once and told us how he had toured the countryside canvassing for votes. and it made me think of that music hall song I had heard. One of the most popular music-hall singers was Montegus, the son of a Communard and a great favourite of the faubourgs (the working-class districts). His songs were a mixture of petty bourgeois sentimentality and genuine revolutionism.
Ilyich liked to go to the suburban theatres and watch the working-class crowd. I remember once going to see a play with Ilyich describing the brutal treatment of army offenders in Morocco. It was interesting to watch the way the audience, mostly workers, responded to every incident. The show had not yet begun, when suddenly the whole theatre started shouting in one voice: "Hat! Hat!" A lady had come into the theatre in a high fashionable hat with feathers, and the audience was demanding that she take it off. She was obliged to submit. The show started. In the play a soldier is sent off to Morocco, while his mother and sister are left to live alone in poverty. The landlord is willing to let them live rent free if the soldier's sister becomes his mistress. "The swine! The canaille!" cries flew from all over the hall. I do not remember the details, but the play showed the brutal way in which soldiers were treated for refusing to obey their officers. It ended with a revolt and the singing of the Internationale. This play had been banned for performance in the centre of the city, but it was performed in the suburbs to cheering audiences. A demonstration about one hundred thousand strong was held in 1910 to protest against the adventure in Morocco. We went to see it. The demonstration was held with the permission of the police. It was headed by Socialist M.P.'s wearing red sashes. The workers were in an aggressive mood and shook their fists as they passed the houses of the wealthy residential districts. Shutters were hastily put up here and there, but the demonstration passed off very peacefully. It was not like a protest demonstration at all.
Ilyich got in touch with Paul Lafargue through Charles Rappoport. Lafargue, the son-in-law of Karl Marx, was a well-tried fighter, of whose opinion Ilyich thought very highly. Paul Lafargue, with his wife Laura – Marx's daughter – lived in Draveil, about 25 kilometres from Paris. They had already retired from active work. One day Ilyich and I cycled down to see them. They received us very kindly. Vladimir Ilyich began to talk to Lafargue about his book on philosophy, while Laura Lafargue took me for a walk in the park. I was quite excited – I was actually walking with the daughter of Karl Marx! I scrutinized her face eagerly, anxious to find traits of resemblance with Marx. In my confusion I babbled incoherently about women taking part in the revolutionary movement, about Russia. She answered me, but somehow the conversation flagged. When we got back Lafargue and Ilyich were discussing philosophy. "He will soon prove the sincerity of his philosophic convictions," Laura said, referring to her husband, and they looked at each other rather strangely. I did not understand the meaning of those words and that glance until I heard of the death of the Lafargues in 1911. They both died as atheists, having committed suicide together because old age had come and they had no strength left for the struggle.
A plenary meeting of the Central Committee was held in 1910. Resolutions in favour of Party unity and against calling a special Bolshevik congress had been adopted previously at the enlarged meeting of the editorial board of Proletary. Ilyich and the group of comrades who had rallied round him upheld the same line at the plenary meeting of the Central Committee. It was extremely important, during the period of reaction, to have a Party that boldly spoke the whole truth, albeit from underground. It was a time when the reaction was wrecking the Party, when the Party was being overwhelmed by opportunism, when it was important to keep the banner of the Party flying at all cost. In Russia the Liquidators had a strong legal opportunist centre of their own. The Party was needed in order to stand up against that centre.
The experience of the Capri school had shown how often the factionalism of the workers was relative and peculiar. The thing was to have a united Party centre, around which the Social-Democratic worker masses could rally. The struggle in 1910 was a struggle waged for the very existence of the Party, for exercising influence on the workers through the medium of the Party. Vladimir Ilyich never doubted that within the Party the Bolsheviks would be in the majority, that in the end the Party would follow the Bolshevik path, but it would have to be a Party and not a group. Ilyich took the same line in 1911, when a Party school was being organized near Paris to Vperyod-ists and pro-Party-Mensheviks as well as Bolsheviks were admitted. The same line was pursued at the Prague Party Conference in 1912. Not a group, but a Party pursuing a Bolshevik line. Naturally, there was no room in such a Party for Liquidators, against whom forces were being rallied. Obviously, there could be no room in the Party for people who had made up their minds beforehand that they would not abide by the Party decisions. With some comrades, however, the struggle for the Party assumed the form of conciliation; they lost sight of the aim of unity and relapsed into a man-of-the-street striving to unite all and everyone, no matter what they stood for. Even Innokenty, who fully subscribed to Ilyich's opinion that the main thing was to unite with the pro-Party-Mensheviks, the Plekhanovites, was so keen to preserve the Party that he began himself to incline towards a conciliatory attitude. Ilyich set him right, however.
On the whole the resolutions were passed unanimously. It is absurd to believe that Ilyich was voted down by the conciliators and gave ground. The plenary meeting lasted three weeks. Ilyich believed that the utmost concession should be made on organizational issues without yielding an inch of ground on fundamental issues. The organ of the Bolshevik group – Proletary – was closed down. The remaining 500-ruble notes were burnt. The funds of the Bolshevik group were handed over to three trustees – Kautsky, Mehring and Clara Zetkin – to be issued by them only for general Party needs. In the event of a split, the money left over was to be refunded to the Bolsheviks. Kamenev was sent to Vienna where he was to represent the Bolsheviks on the Trotskyist Pravda. "Things have been very 'stormy' here recently, but the end of it was an attempt to make peace with the Mensheviks," Vladimir Ilyich wrote to his sister Anna Ilyinichna. "Yes, strange as it may seem, the organ of our group has been closed down and we are trying to make a stronger move towards unity."
Innokenty and Nogin went to Russia to organize a collegium of the Central Committee on the spot. Nogin was a conciliator who was out to unite all and everyone, and his speeches met with a rebuff on the part of the Bolsheviks. Innokenty took a different line, but Russia was not abroad, where every word was common property. His words were interpreted Nogin's way – the non-Bolsheviks saw to that all right. Lindov and V. P. Milyutin were co-opted on the Central Committee. Innokenty was soon arrested. Lindov supported Nogin's point of view and was not very active. Things were in a bad way with a Russian C.C. in 1910.
They were not much better abroad either. Mark (Lyubimov) and Lyova (Vladimirov) were "conciliators in general" and very often took for granted the stories that were retailed about the Bolsheviks being prone to squabbling and disloyalty. Mark, particularly, heard many of these stories, as he was a member of the united Bureau of the Central Committee Abroad, at which all groups were represented.
The Vperyod-ists continued to organize. Alexinsky's group once broke into a meeting of the Bolshevik group, who had gathered in a cafe in Avenue d'Orleans. Alexinsky sat down at the table with an insolent air and demanded to be given the floor. When this was refused he gave a whistle and the Vperyod-ists who had come with him attacked our comrades. Two members of our group, Abram Skovno and Isaac Krivoi, were about to hurl themselves into the fray, but Nikolai Sapozhkov (Kuznetsov), a man of tremendous physical strength, snatched Abram up under one arm and Isaac under the other, while the proprietor of the cafe, an experienced man in the matter of brawls, turned off the lights. The fight was thus nipped in the bud. But Ilyich roamed the streets of Paris almost all night after that, and when he came home he could not fall asleep.
"So there you are", Ilyich wrote in a letter to Gorky dated April 11, 1910, the 'anecdotic' is the dominant note in the unity at the present moment, it is pushed into the forefront, it evokes jeers, and giggles, etc.
Living in the midst of this 'anecdotic' situation, amidst these squabbles and scandals, this hell and ugly scum is sickening. To watch it all is sickening too. But one must not be influenced by one's moods. Emigrant life now is a hundred times worse than it was before the revolution. Emigrant life and squabbling are inseparable.
"But the squabbling can be dismissed – nine-tenths of it takes place abroad; squabbling is a minor detail. The thing is that the Party, the Social-Democratic movement are developing and going forward in face of all hellish difficulties of the present situation. The purging of the Social-Democratic Party of its dangerous 'deviations." Liquidationism and Otzovism is going ahead unswervingly, and within the framework of unity it has moved ahead far more than before."
Further, he writes, "I can imagine how hard it must be to watch this painful growth of the new Social-Democratic movement for those who have not seen or experienced the painful growth at the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties. At that time such Social-Democrats could be counted in dozens if not in units, whereas now there are hundreds and thousands of them. Hence the crisis and crises. And Social-Democracy as a whole is weathering these crises openly and honestly."
The squabbling roused in one a desire to get away from it all. Lozovsky, for example, gave himself up entirely to the French trade-union movement. We, too, felt drawn closer to the French movement. We thought this would be made easier by our living in the French Party colony. It was situated on the seashore near the village of Pornic in the famous Vendee. I first went there with my mother. But our life in the colony was not a success. The French there kept to themselves, each family holding aloof from the others, while the attitude to us Russians was not at all friendly, especially on the part of the manageress of the colony. I became rather friendly with a French teacher. There were hardly any workers there. Presently the Kostitsins and S Savvushka – Vperyod-ists arrived, and the first thing they did was to have a row with the manageress. We then all decided to move to Pornic and board together. Mother and I rented two small rooms in the house of the customs caretaker. Soon Ilyich arrived. He went sea bathing a lot, cycled a good deal – he loved the sea and the sea breezes – chatted gaily with the Kostitsins on everything under the sun, and enjoyed eating the crabs which our landlord caught for us. He took a great liking to him and his wife. The landlady, a stout loud-voiced laundress, told us about the war she waged with the Catholic priests. She had a boy who went to the secular school, and the youngster being an excellent scholar, a bright and clever boy, the priests kept urging her to send him to the monastery to be educated and promised to pay her an allowance. The laundress indignantly related how she had turned the Catholic priest out of the house. She had not brought a son into the world, she said, in order to make a contemptible Jesuit out of him. Ilyich praised the crabs all the more highly.
Ilyich arrived at Pornic on August 1, and the 26th found him already in Copenhagen where he had gone to attend the meeting of the International Socialist Bureau and the International Congress. Describing the work of the congress Ilyich wrote: "Differences with the revisionists are looming, but the revisionists are still a long way from coming out with any programme of their own. The fight with revisionism has been postponed, but the fight is inevitable."
The Russian delegation at the congress was a fairly large one – twenty in all, of whom ten were from the Social-Democrats, seven from the Socialist-Revolutionaries and three from the trade unions. The Social-Democratic group was represented by all trends – Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Plekhanov, Warski, Martov and Martynov; Trotsky, Lunacharsky and Kollontai had deliberative votes. There were numerous guests at the congress. A conference was held during the congress in which Lenin, Plekhanov, Zinoviev, Kamenev and members of the Third Duma Poletayev and I. P. Pokrovsky took part. It was decided at this conference to publish abroad a popular newspaper Rabochaya Gazeta (Workers' Newspaper). Plekhanov played the diplomat, but nevertheless wrote an article for the first number of the paper, entitled "Our Position."
After the Copenhagen Congress Ilyich went to Stockholm to see his mother and sister Maria Ilyinichna. He was there ten days. This was the last time he was to see his mother. He had a premonition of it, and it was with sad eyes that he watched the departing steamer. When he returned to Russia seven years later – in 1917 – she was already dead.
Ilyich related on his return to Paris that he had managed to have a good talk with Lunacharsky. Ilyich always had a weak spot for Lunacharsky. He was charmed by the man's gifted nature. However, an article by Lunacharsky appeared soon afterwards in Le Peuple entitled "Tactical Trends in Our Party," in which all issues were dealt with from the Otzovist standpoint. Ilyich read it and said nothing, but he retorted with an article of his own. Others who attended the congress commented on it too. Trotsky anonymously wrote an article in Vorwärts in connection with the congress in which he attacked the Bolsheviks and praised his own Vienna Pravda. Congress delegates Plekhanov, Lenin and Warski protested against the publication of this article in Vorwärts. Plekhanov was hostile towards Trotsky as far back as 1903, when Trotsky first made his appearance abroad before the Second Congress. They had had an angry argument on the question of a popular newspaper then. At the Copenhagen Congress Plekhanov signed the protest against Trotsky's article without reservation. Trotsky retaliated with a campaign against Rabochaya Gazeta, which the Bolsheviks had started to publish, declaring it to be a narrow factional organ. He also addressed a meeting on the subject at the Vienna club. Kamenev, by way of protest, resigned from the editorial board of the Trotskyist Pravda, to which he had been sent to work after the January Plenary Meeting. Influenced by Trotsky, the Paris conciliators headed by Mark raised a campaign, too, against Rabochaya Gazeta, fearing factionalism. Ilyich simply could not stand this diffuse, unprincipled conciliationism, conciliationism with anyone and everyone, which was tantamount to surrendering one's positions at the height of the struggle.
No. 50 of Neue Zeit for 1910 carried an article by Trotsky entitled "Tendencies in the Development of Russian Social-Democracy," and No. 51 an article by Martov "Prussian Discussion and Russian Experience." Lenin replied with an article "The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia," but the editors of Neue Zeit – Kautsky and Wurm, refused to publish it. Marchlewski (Karsky) replied to Trotsky and Martov after consulting Vladimir Ilyich by letter.
In 1911 Comrade Kamo arrived in Paris. He had been arrested in Berlin early in 1908 while carrying a valise with dynamite. He had been kept in a German prison for over a year and a half, where he had feigned madness. In October 1909 he was deported to Russia and kept in prison there for another sixteen months in the Metekh fortress in Tiflis. He was certified to be hopelessly insane and transferred to the Mikhailovsky mental hospital, whence he escaped, then came to France on board a ship as a stowaway, and arrived in Paris to have a talk with Ilyich. He was very distressed to hear that a rupture had occurred between Ilyich and Bogdanov and Krasin. He was greatly attached to all three. Besides, he was unable to grasp the situation that had developed during the years he had spent in prison. Ilyich told him how things stood.
Kamo asked me to buy him some almonds. He sat in our Paris kitchen eating almonds, as if in his native Georgia, and telling us about his arrest in Berlin, about the way he had simulated insanity, about the sparrow he had tamed in prison, etc. Listening to his stories, Ilyich felt extremely sorry for that brave, devoted, childishly naive man with the warm heart, who was so eager to perform deeds of valeur, but who now did not know what to turn his hand to. His schemes were fantastic. Ilyich did not argue with him, but tried delicately to bring him back to earth with suggestions about organizing the transportation of literature and so forth. In the end it was decided that Kamo was to go to Belgium, have an operation on his eyes there (he was cross-eyed, and this always gave him away to the police spies), and then make his way south to Russia and the Caucasus. Ilyich examined Kamo's coat and said: "Haven't you got a warm coat? You'll be cold in this, walking about on deck." Ilyich himself always promenaded the deck incessantly when travelling by boat. Hearing that Kamo had no other coat, Ilyich got out the soft grey cloak which his mother had given him as a present in Stockholm and of which he was very fond, and gave it to Kamo. His talk with Ilyich, and the latter's kindness, somewhat soothed Kamo. Afterwards, during the period of Civil War, Kamo was back in his own element again, and displayed miracles of heroism. True, with the passing over to the New Economic Policy, he was off the rails again and kept talking about wanting to go and study, while all the time he dreamt of derring-do. He was killed during Ilyich's last illness. He was cycling downhill in Tiflis and ran into a motor-car.
Inessa Armand arrived in Paris from Brussels in 1910 and immediately became an active member of our Paris group. Together with Semashko and Britman (Kazakov) she was elected to the presidium of the group and started an extensive correspondence with the other groups abroad. She had a family of two little girls and a boy. She was a hot Bolshevik, and before long our whole Paris crowd had gathered round her.
Our Paris group, as a matter of fact, was steadily gaining strength. It was becoming ideologically welded too. The trouble was that many of us were hard up. The workers managed somehow to make a living, but the intellectuals were in dire straits. They could not always become workers. To live at the expense of the political emigrants' benefit fund and emigrants' restaurant was humiliating in the extreme. I remember several sad cases. One comrade became a furniture polisher, but it was a long time before he learned the job, and he had to change his place of work. He lived in a working-class district, far away from where the other emigrants lived. He got so weak from lack of food that he could not get up from his bed, and he wrote a note, requesting money, and asking that it should not be brought directly to him but left with the concierge.
Nikolai Sapozhkov (Kuznetsov) had a hard time too. He and his wife got a job painting pottery, but they earned very little at it. It was painful to see the ravages of starvation gradually showing on the face of this once healthy giant of a man, who never, by the way, complained about his circumstances. There were many such cases. The saddest of all was that of Comrade Prigara, a participant of the Moscow uprising. He lived somewhere in a working-class suburb, and the comrades knew little about him. One day he came to us in a very excitable state and began talking a lot of nonsense without a stop – something about chariots full of corn sheaves with a beautiful girl standing in one of them. Clearly, the man had gone mad. It struck us at once as being the result of starvation. Mother began hastily to prepare something to eat for him. Ilyich, white with emotion, sat with him while I ran off to fetch a psychiatrist, an acquaintance of ours. The doctor came, had a talk with the patient, then said it was a serious case of insanity as a result of starvation. He was not so bad just now, but when it developed into a persecution mania the patient was likely to commit suicide. He would have to be watched. We did not know his address even. Britman went to see him home, but on the way Prigara gave him the slip. Our whole group searched for him, but could not find him. Later his body was found in the Seine with stones tied to his neck and feet. He had committed suicide after all.
Another year or two of life in this atmosphere of squabbling and emigrant tragedy would have meant heading for a breakdown. But the years of reaction were followed by years of upsurge.
The death of L. Tolstoi sparked off demonstrations in Russia. The first issue of Zvezda (The Star) was published. In Moscow the Bolshevik Mysl (Thought) began to appear. Ilyich picked up at once. His article "The Beginning of the Demonstrations," written on December 31, 1910, is full of an inexhaustible buoyancy and vigour. It ends with the appeal: "To work, comrades! Begin everywhere to build up your organizations, to set up and strengthen Social-Democratic Party workers units, develop economic and political agitation. In the first Russian revolution the proletariat taught the masses to fight for liberty; in the second revolution it will lead them to victory!"