First published in Pravda No. 277, December 20, 1918.
Printed from the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 497-498.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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I became acquainted with Comrade Proshyan and learned to value his co-operation during our work together in the Council of People’s Commissars, at the end of last year and the beginning of the present year, when the Left S.R.s were in alliance with us. Proshyan stood out for his deep devotion to the revolution and to socialism. It could not be said of all the Left S.R.s that they were socialists, and this could even hardly be said of most of them. But this had to be said about Proshyan, because, in spite of his loyalty to the ideology of the Russian Narodniks, a non-socialist ideology, you saw in Proshyan a deeply convinced socialist. In his own way, not through Marxism, not starting with the idea of the class struggle of the proletariat, did this man become a socialist; and I was able to observe more than once, when working together with him in the Council of People’s Commissars, how Comrade Proshyan would resolutely side with the Bolsheviks, the Communists, against his fellow Left Socialist– Revolutionaries, when they expressed the standpoint of the petty proprietors and took a negative attitude to communist measures in the sphere of agriculture.
I particularly recall a conversation with Comrade Proshyan not long before the Brest peace. It seemed then that there no longer remained any substantial differences between us. Proshyan began speaking to me about the need for our parties to amalgamate, saying that the Left S.R.s most remote from communism (at that time, the word was not yet commonly used) had noticeably, and very strongly, drawn closer to it during the period of our work together in the Council of People’s Commissars. I was reserved as regards Proshyan’s proposal, and called it premature, but did not at all deny that we had come closer in our practical work.
The Brest peace brought about a complete divergence, and from divergence, given Proshyan’s revolutionary consistency and convictions, there could not but develop direct, even armed struggle. I must admit I did not in any way expect matters to go as far as an insurrection, or such facts as the betrayal of Commander-in-Chief Muravyov, a Left S.R. But the example of Proshyan revealed how deep the roots of patriotism were even in the most sincere and convinced socialists from among the Left S.R.s, how differences in the general principles underlying men’s world views had inevitably shown themselves at a difficult turning-point in history. The subjectivism of the Narodniks led to a fatal error on the part of even the best of them, who let themselves be blinded by the spectre of monstrous strength, that of German imperialism. Any other struggle against that imperialism except an insurrectionary one, and moreover immediately, that very minute, without any consideration of the objective conditions of the international situation and our own, seemed in the light of a revolutionary’s duty absolutely intolerable. It was the effect of the very same mistake which in 1907 made the Socialist-Revolutionaries unconditionally “boycott” the Stolypin Duma. But in the circumstances of hot revolutionary battles the error took a more cruel revenge, and pushed Proshyan on to the path of armed struggle against the Soviet power.
Nevertheless up to July 1918 Proshyan succeeded in doing more to strengthen the Soviet power than he did after July 1918 to undermine it. And in the international situation created after the German revolution, a new approach by Proshyan to communism—a firmer one than before—would have been inevitable but for his untimely death.