V. I.   Lenin

What the “Friends of the People” Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats

(A Reply to Articles in Russkoye Bogatstvo Opposing the Marxists)


In conclusion it will perhaps be worth ...

In conclusion it will perhaps be worth while replying to a question which has probably occurred already to more than one reader. Did it pay to argue so long with such gentlemen? Was it worth while replying seriously to this stream of liberal and censor-protected filth which they were pleased to call polemics?

I think it was, not for their sake, of course, or for the sake of the “cultured” public, but for the useful lesson which Russian socialists can and should learn from this onslaught. It provides most striking and most convincing proof that the period of Russia’s social development, when democracy and socialism were merged in one inseparable and indissoluble whole (as was the case, for example, in Chernyshevsky’s day), has gone never to return. Today there are absolutely no grounds for the idea, which Russian socialists here and there still cling to and which most harmfully affects their theories and practical work, that there is no profound qualitative difference in Russia between the ideas of the democrats and those of the socialists.

Quite the contrary; a wide gulf divides these ideas, and it is high time the Russian socialists understood this, understood that a COMPLETE and FINAL RUPTURE with the ideas of the democrats is INEVITABLE and IMPERATIVE!

Let us see what this Russian democrat actually was in the days which gave rise to this idea, and what he has now   become. The “friends of the people” provide enough material for such a comparison.

Extremely interesting in this connection is Mr. Krivenko’s attack on Mr. Struve who, in a German publication, opposed Mr. Nik.-on’s utopianism (his article “On Capitalist Development in Russia,” “Zur Beurtheilung der kapitalis tischen Entwicklung Russlands,” appeared in Sozialpolitisches Centralblatt,[13] III, No. 1, October 2, 1893). Mr. Krivenko launches out against Mr. Struve for, as he alleges, classing the ideas of those who “stand for the village community and the allotment” as “national socialism” (which, he says, is of a “purely utopian nature”). This terrible accusation of being concerned with socialism drives our worthy author into a rage:

Were there,” he exclaims, “no others” (apart from Herzen, Chernyshevsky and the Narodniks), “who stood for the village community and the allotment? What about those who drew up the regulation for the peasants, who made the community and the peasants’ economic independence the basis of the Reform; what about the investigators of our history and of contemporary life who support these principles, and almost the whole of our serious and respectable press, which also supports these principles—are they all victims of the delusion called ’national socialism’?”

Calm yourself, most worthy “friend of the people”! You were so scared by the awful accusation of being concerned with socialism that you did not even take the trouble to read Mr. Struve’s “little article” carefully. And, indeed, what a crying injustice it would be to accuse those who stand for “the village community and the allotment” of being concerned with socialism! Pray, what is there socialistic in this? Socialism, as we know, is the name given to the protest and struggle against the exploitation of the working people, a struggle for the complete abolition of this exploitation— while “to stand for the allotment” means supporting the peasant’s payment of redemption money for all the land they used to have at their disposal. But even if one does not stand for land redemption but for the gratuitous retention of the land the peasants possessed before the Reform, there is nothing socialistic in it, for it is this peasant ownership of land (which evolved during the feudal period) that has everywhere in the West,   as here in Russia,[1] been the basis of bourgeois society. “To stand for the village community,” i.e., to protest against police interference in the customary methods of distributing the land—what is there socialistic in that, when everyone knows that exploitation of the working people can very well exist and is engendered within this community? That is stretching the word “socialism” to mean anything; maybe Mr. Pobedonostsev,[14] too, will have to be classed as a socialist!

Mr. Struve is not guilty of such an awful injustice at all. He speaks of the “utopianism of the national socialism” of the Narodniks, and we can see whom he classes as Narodniks from the fact that he refers to Plekhanov’s Our Differences as a polemic against the Narodniks. Plekhanov, undoubtedly, polemised against socialists, against people who had nothing in common with the “serious and respectable” Russian press. Mr. Krivenko, therefore, had no right to take as applying to himself what was meant for the Narodniks. If, however, he was so anxious to know Mr. Struve’s opinion about the trend to which he himself adheres, I am surprised that he paid no attention to, and did not translate for Russkoye Bogatstvo, the following passage in Mr. Struve’s article:

As capitalist development advances,” says the author, “the philosophy” (Narodnik philosophy) “just described is bound to lose its basis. It will either degenerate (wird herabsinken ) into a rather colourless reformist trend, capable of compromise and seeking for compromise,[2] promising rudiments of which have long been observable, or it will admit that the actual development is inevitable and will draw the theoretical and practical conclusions that necessarily follow from this—in other words, will cease to be utopian.”

If Mr. Krivenko cannot guess where, in Russia, are to be found the rudiments of the trend that is only capable of compromise, I would advise him to glance at Russkoye Bogatstvo, at the theoretical views of that magazine, which represent a pitiful attempt to piece together fragments of the Narodnik doctrine with the recognition of Russia’s capitalist   development, and at its political programme, which aims at improving and restoring the economy of the small producers on the basis of the present capitalist system.[3]

One of the most characteristic and significant phenomena of our social life in recent times is, generally speaking, the degeneration of Narodism into petty-bourgeois opportunism.

Really, if we take the substance of the programme of Russkoye Bogatstvo—the regulation of migration, land renting, cheap credit, museums, warehouses, technical improvement, artels, common land cultivation and all the rest—we shall find that it is indeed very widely circulated in the whole “serious and respectable press,” i.e., in the whole liberal press, the publications that are not the organs of the feudal landlords and do not belong to the reptile press.[15] The idea that all these measures are necessary, useful, urgent, “innocuous,” has taken deep root among the entire intelligentsia and is extremely widespread. You will meet with it in provincial sheets and newspapers, in all Zemstvo   researches, abstrasts, descriptions, etc., etc. If this is to be regarded as Narodism, then undoubtedly its success is enormous and indisputable.

Only it is not Narodism at all (in the old, customary meaning of that term), and its success and tremendously widespread character have been achieved at the cost of vulgarising Narodism, converting social-revolutionary Narodism, which was sharply opposed to our liberalism, into uplift opportunism, that merges with this liberalism and expresses only the interests of the petty bourgeoisie.

To convince ourselves of this we need but turn to the pictures of differentiation among the peasants and handicraftsmen given above—and these pictures by no means depict isolated or new facts, but are simply an attempt to portray in terms of political economy that “school” of “blood-suckers” and “farm labourers” whose existence in our countryside is not denied even by our opponents. It goes without saying that the “Narodnik” measures can only serve to strengthen the petty bourgeoisie; or else (artels and common cultivation) are bound to be miserable palliatives, remain pitiful experiments of the kind which the liberal bourgeoisie cultivated so tenderly everywhere in Europe for the simple reason that they do not in the least affect the “school” itself. For the same reason, even the Messrs. Yermolovs and Wittes[16] cannot object to progress of this kind. Quite the contrary. Do us the favour, gentlemen! They will even give you money “for experiments,” if only these will divert the “intelligentsia” from revolutionary work (emphasising the antagonism, explaining it to the proletariat, attempting to bring this antagonism out on to the high road of direct political struggle) to such patching up of the antagonism, to conciliation and unification. Do us the favour!

Let us dwell a little on the process which led to this degeneration of Narodism. When it first arose, in its original form, it was a fairly well-knit theory: starting from the view of a specific way of life of the people, it believed in the communist instincts of the “communal” peasant and for that reason regarded the peasantry as a natural fighter for socialism. But it lacked theoretical elaboration and confirmation in the facts of Russian life, on the one hand, and   experience in applying a political programme based on these assumed qualities of the peasant, on the other.

The development of the theory, therefore, proceeded along the two lines, the theoretical and the practical. The theoretical work was directed mainly towards studying that form of landownership in which they wanted to see the rudiments of communism; and this work yielded a wealth of factual material of the most varied kind. But this material, which mainly concerned the form of landownership, completely obscured the economics of the countryside from the investigators’ eyes. This happened all the more naturally, because, firstly, the investigators lacked a sound theory of method in social science, a theory showing the need to single out and make a special study of production relations; and because, secondly, the collected factual material furnished direct evidence of the immediate needs of the peasantry, of the immediate hardships which had a depressing effect upon peasant economy. All the investigators’ attention was concentrated on studying these hardships—land poverty, high payments, lack of rights, and the crushed and downtrodden condition of the peasants. All this was described, studied and explained with such a wealth of material, in such minute detail, that if ours were not a class state, if its policy were determined not by the interests of the ruling classes, but by the impartial discussion of the “people’s needs,” it should, of course, have been convinced a thousand times over of the need for eliminating these hardships. The naïve investigators, believing in the possibility of “convincing” society and the state, were completely submerged in the details of the facts they had collected, and lost sight of one thing, the political-economic structure of the countryside, lost sight of the main background of the economy that really was being crushed by these immediate hardships. The result, naturally, was that defence of the interests of an economy crushed by land poverty, etc., turned out to be a defence of the interests of the class that held this economy in its hands, that alone could endure and develop under the given social-economic relations within the community, under the given economic system in the country.

Theoretical work directed towards the study of the institution which was to serve as the basis and support for the abolition of exploitation led to a programme being drawn   up which expresses the interests of the petty bourgeoisie, i.e., the very class upon which this system of exploitation rests!

At the same time, practical revolutionary work also developed in quite an unexpected direction. Belief in the communist instincts of the muzhik naturally demanded of the socialists that they set politics aside and “go among the people.” A host of extremely energetic and talented persons set about fulfilling this programme, but practice convinced them of the naïveté of the idea of the muzhik’s instincts being communist. It was decided, incidentally, that they did not have to do with the muzhik, but with the government—and the entire activity was then concentrated on a fight against the government, a fight then waged by the intellectuals alone; they were sometimes joined by workers. At first this fight was waged in the name of socialism and was based on the theory that the people were ready for socialism and that it would be possible, merely by seizing power, to effect not only a political, but also a social revolution. Latterly, this theory is apparently becoming utterly discredited, and the struggle waged by the Narodovoltsi against the government is becoming a struggle of the radicals for political liberty.

Hence, in this case, too, the work led to results diametrically opposite to its point of departure; in this case, too, there emerged a programme expressing only the interests of radical bourgeois democracy. Strictly speaking, this process is not yet complete, but is already, I think, clearly defined. This development of Narodism was altogether natural and inevitable, because the doctrine was based on the purely mythical idea of peasant economy being a special (communal) system: the myth dissolved when it came into contact with reality, and peasant socialism turned into radical-democratic representation of the petty bourgeois peasantry.

Let me give examples of the democrat’s evolution:

We must see to it,” argues Mr. Krivenko, “that instead of an integral man we do not get an all-Russian jelly fish filled only with a vague ferment of good sentiments but incapable either of real self-sacrifice or of doing any thing durable in life.” The homily is an excellent one, but let us see what it is applied to. “In regard to the latter,”   continues Mr. Krivenko, “I am acquainted with the following vexatious fact”: in the South of Russia there lived some young people “who were inspired by the very best intentions and by a love for the younger brother; they showed the greatest attention and respect for the muzhik; they treated him as the guest of honour, ate out of the same bowl with him, treated him to jam and biscuits; they paid him higher prices than others did; they gave him money— as loans, or as tips, or for no reason at all, they told him about European institutions and workers’ associations, etc. In the same locality there lived a young German named Schmidt, the steward of an estate, or rather just a gardener, a man without any humanitarian ideas, a real, narrow, formal German soul” (sic??!!), etc. Three or four years passed, and these people separated and went their different ways. Another twenty years passed, and the author, on revisiting the locality, learned that “Mr. Schmidt” (as a reward for his useful activities gardener Schmidt had been promoted to Mr. Schmidt) had taught the peasants grape growing, from which they now obtain “some income,” 75 to 100 rubles a year, and on this account they had preserved “kind memories” of him, whereas of the “gentlemen who merely cherished kind sentiments for the muzhik but did nothing tangible (!) for him, not even the memory was left.”

A calculation shows that the events described occurred about 1869-1870, that is, roughly at the time when the Russian Narodnik socialists were trying to introduce into Russia the most advanced and most important of “European institutions”—the International.[17]

Clearly, the impression created by Mr. Krivenko’s account is a little too harsh, and so he hastens to make a reservation:

I do not suggest, of course, that Schmidt was better than these gentlemen. I merely point out why, for all his defects, he left a more lasting impression in the locality and on the population.” (I do not suggest that he was better, I merely point out that he left a more lasting impression—what nonsense?!) “Nor do I say that he did anything important; on the contrary, I cite what he did as an example of a most trifling, incidental deed, which cost him nothing, but which for all that was undoubtedly vital.”

The reservation, you see, is very ambiguous; the point, however, is not its ambiguity, but the fact that the author, in contrasting the fruitlessness of the one activity with the success of the other, apparently does not suspect that there is a fundamental difference of tendency between these two types of activity. That is the whole point, which makes the story so characteristic in defining the contemporary democrat’s physiognomy.

The young people who talked to the muzhik about “European institutions and workers’ associations” evidently wanted to inspire in the muzhik a desire to alter the forms of social life (the conclusion I draw may be wrong in this instance, but everyone will agree, I think, that it is a legitimate one, for it follows inevitably from Mr. Krivenko’s story), they wanted to stir him to undertake a social revolution against contemporary society, which engenders such disgraceful exploitation and oppression of the working people, accompanied by universal rejoicing over all sorts of liberal progress. “Mr. Schmidt,” on the other hand, true husbandman that he was, merely wanted to help others arrange their affairs—and nothing more. Well, but how can one compare, juxtapose these two types of activity, which have diametrically opposite aims? Why, it is just as though somebody were to start comparing the failure of a person who tried to destroy a given building with the success of one who tried to reinforce it! To draw a comparison with any sense in it, he should have inquired why the efforts of the young men and women who went among the people to stimulate the peasants to revolution were so unsuccessful—whether it was because they erroneously believed that the “peasantry” really represented the working people and exploited population, whereas in fact the peasantry does not constitute a single class (—an illusion only to be explained, perhaps, by the reflected influence of the epoch of the fall of serfdom, when the peasantry did indeed come forward as a class, but only as a class of feudal society), for within it a bourgeois and a proletarian class are forming—in a word, he should have examined the old socialist theories and the Social-Democratic criticism of these theories. Instead, Mr. Krivenko moves heaven and earth to prove that “Mr. Schmidt’s” work was “undoubtedly vital.” But pardon me,   most worthy Mr. “friend of the people,” why hammer at an open door? Whoever doubts it? To lay out a vineyard and get an annual income of 75 to 100 rubles from it—what could be more vital?[4]

And the author goes on to explain that if one peasant lays out a vineyard, that is isolated activity; but if several do, that is common and widespread activity, which transforms a small job into real and proper work, just as, for example, A. N. Engelhardt[18] not only used phosphates on his estate but got others to use them.

Now, isn’t this democrat really splendid!

Let us take another example, one from opinions on the peasant Reform. What attitude towards it had Chernyshevsky, a democrat of that epoch, when democracy and socialism were undivided? Unable to express his opinion openly, he kept silent, but gave the following roundabout description of the contemplated reform:

Suppose I was interested in taking measures to protect the provisions out of which your dinner is made. It goes without saying that if I was prompted to do so by my kind disposition towards you, then my zeal was based on the assumption that the provisions belonged to you and that the dinner prepared from them would be wholesome and beneficial to you. Imagine my feelings, then, when I learn that the provisions do not belong to you at all, and that for every dinner prepared from them you are charged a price which not only exceeds the cost of the dinner” (this was written before the Reform. Yet the Messrs. Yuzhakovs assert now that its fundamental principle was to give security to the peasants!!) “ but which you are not able to pay at all without extreme hardship. What thoughts enter my head when I make such strange discoveries? . . . How stupid I was to bother about the matter when the conditions did not exist to ensure its usefulness! Who but a fool would bother about the retention of property in certain hands without first satisfying himself that those hands will receive the   property, and on favourable terms? ... Far better if all these provisions are lost, for they will only cause harm to my dear friend! Far better be done with the whole business, for it will only cause your ruin!

I have emphasised the passages which show most saliently how profoundly and splendidly Chernyshevsky understood the realities of his time, how he understood the significance of the peasants’ payments, how he understood the antagonism between the social classes in Russia. It is also important to note his ability to expound such purely revolutionary ideas in the censored press. He wrote the same thing in his illegal works, but without circumlocution. In A Prologue to the Prologue, Volgin (into whose mouth Chernyshevsky puts his ideas) says:

Let the emancipation of the peasant be placed in the hands of the landlords’ party. It won’t make much difference.”[5] And in reply to his interlocutor’s remark that, on the contrary, the difference would be tremendous, because the landlords’ party was opposed to allotting land to the peasants, he replies emphatically:

No, not tremendous, but insignificant. It would be tremendous if the peasants obtained the land without redemption payments. There is a difference between taking a thing from a man and leaving it with him, but if you take payment from him it is all the same. The only difference between the plan of the landlords’ party and that of the progressists is that the former is simpler and shorter. That is why it is even better. Less red tape and, in all probability, less of a burden on the peasants. Those peasants who have money will buy land. As to those who have none—there’s no use compelling them to buy it. It will only ruin them. Redemption is nothing but purchase.”

It required the genius of a Chernyshevsky to understand so clearly at that time, when the peasant Reform was only being introduced (when it had not yet been properly elucidated even in Western Europe), its fundamentally bourgeois character, to understand that already at that time Russian   “society” and the Russian “state” were ruled and governed by social classes that were irreconcilably hostile to the working people and that undoubtedly predetermined the ruin and expropriation of the peasantry. Moreover, Chernyshevsky understood that the existence of a government that screens our antagonistic social relations is a terrible evil, which renders the position of the working people ever so much worse.

To tell the truth,” Volgin continues, “it would be better if they were emancipated without land.” (That is, since the feudal landlords in this country are so strong, it would be better if they acted openly, straightforwardly, and said all they had in mind, instead of hiding their interests as serf owners behind the compromises of a hypocritical absolute government.)

The matter is put in such a way that I see no reason for getting excited, even over whether the peasants are emancipated or not, let alone over whether the liberals or the landlords are to emancipate them. To my mind it is all the same. It will even be better if the landlords do it.”

Here is a passage from “Unaddressed Letters”: “They say: emancipate the peasants. . . . Where are the forces for it? Those forces do not yet exist. It is useless tackling a job when the forces for it are lacking. Yet you see the way things are going. They will start emancipating. But what will come of it? Well, judge for yourself what comes of tackling a job which is beyond your powers. You just botch it—and the result will be vile.”[19]

Chernyshevsky understood that the Russian feudal, bureaucratic state was incapable of emancipating the peasants, that is, of overthrowing the feudal serf owners, that it was only capable of something “vile,” of a miserable compromise between the interests of the liberals (redemption is nothing but purchase) and of the landlords, a compromise employing the illusion of security and freedom to deceive the peasants, but actually ruining them and completely betraying them to the landlords. And he protested, execrated the Reform, wanted it to fail, wanted the government to get tied up in its equilibristics between the liberals and the landlords, and wanted a crash to take place that would bring Russia out on the high road of open class struggle.

Yet today, when Chernyshevsky’s brilliant predictions have become fact, when the history of the past thirty   years has ruthlessly shown up all economic and political illusions, our contemporary “democrats” sing the praises of the Reform, regard it as a sanction for “people’s” production, contrive to draw proof from it of the possibility of finding a way which would get around the social classes hostile to the working people. I repeat, their attitude towards the peasant Reform is most striking proof of how profoundly bourgeois our democrats have become. These gentlemen have learned nothing, but have forgotten very, very much.

For the sake of comparison, I will take Otechestvenniye Zapiski for 1872. I have already quoted passages from the article “The Plutocracy and Its Basis,” dealing with the successes in respect of liberalism (which screened plutocratic interests) achieved by Russian society in the very first decade after the “great emancipatory” Reform.

While formerly, wrote the same author in the same article, one would often find people who whined over the reforms and wailed for the good old days, they are to be found no longer. “Everybody is pleased with the new order; everybody is happy and satisfied.” And the author goes on to show how literature “itself is becoming an organ of the plutocracy,” advocating the interests and aspirations of the plutocracy “under the cloak of democracy.” Examine this argument a little more closely. The author is displeased with the fact that “everybody” is pleased with the new order brought about by the Reform, that “everybody” (the representatives of “society” and of the “intelligentsia,” of course, not of the working people) is happy and satisfied, notwithstanding the obvious antagonistic, bourgeois features of the new order: the public fail to notice that liberalism merely screens “freedom of acquisition,” acquisition, of course, at the expense and to the disadvantage of the mass of working people. And he protests. It is this protest, characteristic of the socialist, that is valuable in his argument. Observe that this protest against a plutocracy screened by democracy contradicts the general theory of the magazine: for they deny that there are any bourgeois features, elements or interests in the peasant Reform, they deny the class character of the Russian intelligentsia and of the Russian state, they deny that there is a basis for capitalism in Russia—nevertheless, they cannot but sense and perceive the capitalism and bourgeoisdom.   And to the extent that Otechestvenniye Zapiski, sensing the antagonism in Russian society, fought bourgeois liberalism and bourgeois democracy—to that extent it fought in a cause common to all our pioneer socialists, who, although they could not understand this antagonism, nevertheless realised its existence and desired to combat the very organisation of society which gave rise to it; to that extent Otechestvenniye Zapiski was progressive (from the point of view of the proletariat, of course). The “friends of the people” have forgotten this antagonism; they have lost all sensibility of the fact that in this country, too, in Holy Russia, the pure-blooded bourgeois hide “under the cloak of democracy”; and that is why they are now reactionary (in relation to the proletariat), for they gloss over the antagonism, and talk, not of struggle, but of conciliatory, ”uplift” activity.

But, gentlemen, has the Russian clear-browed liberal, the democratic representative of the plutocracy of the sixties, ceased to be the ideologist of the bourgeoisie in the nineties just because his brow has become clouded with civic grief?

Does “freedom of acquisition” on a large scale, freedom to acquire big credits, big capital, big technical improvements, cease to be liberal, i.e., bourgeois, while the present social-economic relations remain unchanged, merely because its place is taken by freedom to acquire small credits, small capital, small technical improvements?

I repeat, it is not that they have altered their opinions under the influence of a radical change of views or a radical change in our order of things. No, they have simply forgotten.

Having lost the only feature that once made their predecessors progressive—notwithstanding the utter unsoundness of their theories and their naïve and utopian outlook on reality—the “friends of the people” have learnt absolutely nothing during all this time. And yet, quite apart from a political-economic analysis of Russian realities, the political history of Russia during the past thirty years alone should have taught them a great deal.

At that time, in the era of the “sixties,” the power of the feudal landlords was sapped: they suffered defeat, not complete, it is true, but so decisive that they had to slink from the stage. The liberals, on the contrary, raised their   heads. Streams of liberal phrase-mongering flowed about progress, science, goodness, struggle against injustice, the interests of the people, the conscience of the people, the forces of the people, etc., etc.—the very phrases which now, too, at moments of particular depression, are vomited forth by our radical snivellers in their salons, and by our liberal phrase-mongers at their anniversary dinners, and in the columns of their magazines and newspapers. The liberals proved strong enough to mould the “new order” in their own fashion—not entirely, of course, but in fair measure. Although “the clear light of the open class struggle” did not shine in Russia at that time, there was more light then than there is now, so that even those ideologists of the working people who had not the faintest notion of this class struggle, and who preferred to dream of a better future rather than explain the vile present, could not help seeing that liberalism was a cloak for plutocracy, and that the new order was a bourgeois order. It was the removal from the stage of the feudal landlords, who did not divert attention to still mere crying evils of the day, and did not prevent the new order from being observed in its pure (relatively) form, that enabled this to be seen. But although our democrats of that time knew how to denounce plutocratic liberalism, they could not understand it and explain it scientifically; they could not understand that it was inevitable under the capitalist organisation of our social economy; they could not understand the progressive character of the new system of life as compared with the old, feudal system; they could not understand the revolutionary role of the proletariat it created; and they limited themselves to “snorting” at this system of “liberty” and “humanity,” imagined that its bourgeois character was fortuitous, and expected social relations of some other kind to reveal themselves in the “people’s system.”

And then history showed them these other social relations. The feudal landlords, not completely crushed by the Reform, which was so outrageously mutilated in their interests, revived (for a time) and showed vividly what these other than bourgeois social relations of ours were, showed it in the form of such unbridled, incredibly senseless and brutal reaction that our democrats caught fright, subsided, instead of advancing and remoulding their naïve democracy—which   was able to sense what was bourgeois but was unable to understand it—into Social-Democracy, went backwards, to the liberals, and are now proud of the fact that their snivelling—i.e., I want to say, their theories and programmes—is shared by “the whole serious and respectable press.” One would have thought the lesson was a very impressive one: the illusions of the old socialists about a special mode of life of the people, about the socialist instincts of the people, and about the fortuitous character of capitalism and the bourgeoisie, had become too obvious; one would have thought that the facts could now be looked straight in the face and the admission be openly made that there had not been and were not any other social economic relations than bourgeois and moribund feudal relations in Russia, and that, therefore, there could be no road to socialism except through the working-class movement. But these democrats had learned nothing, and the naïve illusions of petty-bourgeois socialism gave way to the practical sobriety of petty-bourgeois progress.

Today, the theories of these petty-bourgeois ideologists, when they come forward as the spokesmen of the interests of the working people, are positively reactionary. They obscure the antagonism of contemporary Russian social-economic relations and argue as if things could be improved by general measures, applicable to all, for “raising,” “improving,” etc., and as if it were possible to reconcile and unite. They are reactionary in depicting our state as something standing above classes and therefore fit and capable of rendering serious and honest aid to the exploited population.

They are reactionary, lastly, because they simply can not understand the necessity for a struggle, a desperate struggle of the working people themselves for their emancipation. The “friends of the people,” for example, seem to think they can manage the whole thing themselves. The workers need not worry. Why, an engineer has even visited the offices of Russkoye Bogatstvo, and there they have almost completely worked out a “scheme” for “introducing capitalism into the life of the people.” Socialists must make a DECISIVE and COMPLETE break with all petty-bourgeois ideas and theories—THAT IS THE PRINCIPAL USEFUL LESSON to be drawn from this campaign.

I ask you to note that I speak of a break with petty bourgeois ideas and not with the “friends of the people” or with their ideas—because there can be no breaking with something with which there has never been any connection. The “friends of the people” are only one of the representatives of one of the trends of this sort of petty-bourgeois socialist ideas. And if, in this case, I draw the conclusion that it is necessary to break with petty-bourgeois socialist ideas, with the ideas of the old Russian peasant socialism generally, it is because the campaign now launched against the Marxists by the representatives of the old ideas, scared by the growth of Marxism, has induced them to give particularly full and vivid expression to petty-bourgeois ideas. Comparing these ideas with contemporary socialism and with the facts of contemporary Russian reality, we see with astonishing clarity how outworn these ideas have become, how they have lost every vestige of an integral theoretical basis and have sunk to the level of a pitiful eclecticism, of a most ordinary opportunist uplift programme. It may be said that this is not the fault of the old socialist ideas in general, but of the gentlemen in question, whom no one thinks of classing as socialists; but such an argument seems to me quite unsound. I have throughout tried to show that such a degeneration of the old theories was inevitable. I have throughout tried to devote as little space as possible to criticism of these gentlemen in particular and as much as possible to the general and fundamental tenets of the old Russian socialism. And if the socialists should find that I have defined these tenets incorrectly or inaccurately, or have left something unsaid, then I can only reply with the following very humble request: please, gentlemen, define them yourselves, state them fully and properly!

Indeed, no one would be more pleased than the Social-Democrats of an opportunity to enter into a polemic with the socialists.

Do you think that we like answering the “polemics” of these gentlemen, or that we would have undertaken it if they had not thrown down a direct, persistent and emphatic challenge?

Do you think that we do not have to force ourselves to read, re-read and grasp the meaning of this repulsive   mixture of stereotyped liberal phrase-mongering and philistine moralising?

Surely, we are not to blame for the fact that only such gentlemen now take upon themselves the job of vindicating and expounding these ideas. I ask you also to note that I speak of the need for a break with petty-bourgeois ideas about socialism. The petty-bourgeois theories we have examined are ABSOLUTELY reactionary INASMUCH AS they claim to be socialist theories.

But if we understand that actually there is absolutely nothing socialist in them, i.e., that all these theories completely fail to explain the exploitation of the working people and therefore cannot serve as a means for their emancipation, that as a matter of fact all these theories reflect and further the interests of the petty bourgeoisie—then our attitude towards them must be different, and we must ask: what should be the attitude of the working class towards the petty bourgeoisie and its programmes? And this question cannot be answered unless the dual character of this class is taken into consideration (here in Russia this duality is particularly marked owing to the antagonism between the big bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie being less developed). It is progressive insofar as it puts forward general democratic demands, i.e., fights against all survivals of the medieval epoch and of serfdom; it is reactionary insofar as it fights to preserve its position as a petty bourgeoisie and tries to retard, to turn back the general development of the country along bourgeois lines. Reactionary demands of this kind, such, for example, as the notorious inalienability of allotments, as well as the many other projects for tutelage over the peasants, are usually covered up by plausible talk of protecting the working people but actually, of course, they only worsen their condition, while at the same time hampering them in their struggle for emancipation. A strict distinction should be drawn between these two sides of the petty-bourgeois programme and, while denying that these theories are in any way socialist in character, and while combating their reactionary aspects, we should not forget their democratic side. I shall give an example to show that, although the Marxists completely repudiate petty-bourgeois theories, this does not prevent them from including democracy in their   programmes but, on the contrary, calls for still stronger insistence on it. We have mentioned above the three main theses that always formed the theoretical stock-in-trade of the representatives of petty-bourgeois socialism, viz., land poverty, high payments and the tyranny of the authorities.

There is absolutely nothing socialist in the demand for the abolition of these evils, for they do not in the least explain expropriation and exploitation, and their elimination will not in the least affect the oppression of labour by capital. But their elimination will free this oppression of the medieval rubbish that aggravates it, and will facilitate the worker’s direct struggle against capital, and for that reason, as a democratic demand, will meet with the most energetic support of the workers. Generally speaking, the question of payments and taxes is one to which only the petty bourgeois can attach any particular significance; but in Russia the payments made by the peasants are, in many respects, simply survivals of serfdom. Such, for example, are the land redemption payments, which should be immediately and unconditionally abolished; such, too, are the taxes which only the peasants and the small towns-people pay, but from which the “gentry” are exempt. Social-Democrats will always support the demand for the elimination of these relics of medieval relations, which cause economic and political stagnation. The same can be said of land poverty. I have already given proof at length of the bourgeois character of the wailing on this score. There is no doubt, however, that the peasant Reform, for example, by permitting the cutting-off of lands[20] positively robbed the peasants for the benefit of the landlords, rendering service to this tremendous reactionary force both directly (by snatching land from the peasants) and indirectly (by the clever way the allotments were marked out). And Social-Democrats will most strenuously insist on the immediate return to the peasants of the land taken from them and on the complete abolition of landed proprietorship—that bulwark of feudal institutions and traditions. This latter point, which coincides with the nationalisation of the land, contains nothing socialist, because the capitalist-farming relations already taking shape in our country would in that case only flourish more rapidly and abundantly; but it is extremely important   from the democratic standpoint as the only measure capable of completely breaking the power of the landed nobility. Lastly, only the Yuzhakovrs and V. V.s, of course, can speak of the peasants’ lack of rights as the cause of their expropriation and exploitation. As for the oppression of the peasantry by the authorities, it is not only an unquestionable fact, but is some thing more than mere oppression; it is treating the peasants as a “base rabble,” for whom it is natural to be subject to the landed nobility; to whom general civil rights are granted only as a special favour (migration,[6] for example), and whom any Jack-in-office can order about as if they were workhouse inmates. And the Social-Democrats unreservedly associate themselves with the demand for the complete restoration of the peasants’ civil rights, the complete abolition of all the privileges of the nobility, the abolition of bureaucratic tutelage over the peasants, and the peasants’ right to manage their own affairs.

In general, the Russian communists, adherents of Marxism, should more than any others call themselves SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS, and in their activities should never forget the enormous importance of DEMOCRACY.[7]

In Russia, the relics of medieval, semi-feudal institutions are still so enormously strong (as compared with Western Europe), they are such an oppressive yoke upon the proletariat and the people generally, retarding the growth of political thought in all estates and classes, that one cannot but insist on the tremendous importance which the struggle against all feudal institutions, absolutism, the social estate system, and the bureaucracy has for the workers. The workers must be shown in the greatest detail what a terribly reactionary force these institutions are, how they intensify   the oppression of labour by capital, what a degrading pressure they exert on the working people, how they keep capital in its medieval forms, which, while not falling short of the modern, industrial forms in respect of the exploitation of labour, add to this exploitation by placing terrible difficulties in the way of the fight for emancipation. The workers must know that unless these pillars of reaction[8] are overthrown, it will be utterly impossible for them to wage a successful struggle against the bourgeoisie, because so long as they exist, the Russian rural proletariat, whose support is an essential condition for the victory of the working class, will never cease to be downtrodden and cowed, capable only of sullen desperation and not of intelligent and persistent protest and struggle. And that is why it is the direct duty of the working class to fight side by side with the radical democracy against absolutism and the reactionary social estates and institutions—a duty which the Social-Democrats must impress upon the workers, while not for a moment ceasing also to impress upon them that the struggle against all these institutions is necessary only as a means of facilitating the struggle against the bourgeoisie, that the worker needs the achievement of the general democratic demands only to clear the road to victory over the working people’s chief enemy, over an institution that is purely democratic by nature, capital, which here in Russia is particularly inclined   to sacrifice its democracy and to enter into alliance with the reactionaries in order to suppress the workers, to still further impede the emergence of a working-class movement.

What has been said is, I think, sufficient to define the attitude of the Social-Democrats towards absolutism and political liberty, and also towards the trend which has been growing particularly strong of late, that aims at the “amalgamation” and “alliance” of all the revolutionary groups for the winning of political liberty.[21]

This trend is rather peculiar and characteristic.

It is peculiar because proposals for “alliance” do not come from a definite group, or definite groups, with definite programmes which coincide on one point or another. If they did, the question of an alliance would be one for each separate case, a concrete question to be settled by the representatives of the uniting groups. Then there could be no special “amalgamation” trend. But such a trend exists, and simply comes from people who have cut adrift from the old, and have not moored to anything new. The theory on which the fighters against absolutism have hitherto based themselves is evidently crumbling, and is destroying the conditions for solidarity and organisation which are essential for the struggle. Well then, these “amalgamators” and “alliance advocates” would seem to think that the easiest way to create such a theory is to reduce it to a protest against absolutism and a demand for political liberty, while evading all other questions, socialist and non-socialist. It goes without saying that the bottom will inevitably be knocked out of this naïve fallacy at the very first attempts at such unity.

But what is characteristic is that this “amalgamation” trend represents one of the last stages in the process of transformation of militant, revolutionary Narodism into politically radical democracy, a process which I have tried to outline above. A durable amalgamation of all the non-Social-Democratic revolutionary groups under the banner mentioned will be possible only when a durable programme of democratic demands has been drawn up that will put an end to the prejudices of the old Russian exceptionalism. Of course, the Social-Democrats believe that the formation of such a democratic party would be a useful step forward; and their anti-Narodnik activity should further it, should   further the eradication of all prejudices and myths, the grouping of the socialists under the banner of Marxism and the formation of a democratic party by the other groups.

The Social-Democrats, who consider essential the independent organisation of the workers into a separate workers’ party, could not, of course, “amalgamate” with such a party, but the workers would most strongly support any struggle waged by the democrats against reactionary institutions.

The degeneration of Narodism into the most ordinary petty-bourgeois radical theory—of which (degeneration) the “friends of the people” furnish such striking testimony—shows what a tremendous mistake is made by those who spread among the workers the idea of fighting absolutism without at the same time explaining to them the antagonistic character of our social relations by virtue of which the ideologists of the bourgeoisie also favour political liberty—without explaining to them the historical role of the Russian worker as a fighter for the emancipation of the whole working population.

The Social-Democrats are often accused of wanting to monopolise Marx’s theory, whereas, it is argued, his economic theory is accepted by all socialists. But the question arises; what sense is there in explaining to the workers the form of value, the nature of the bourgeois system and the revolutionary role of the proletariat, if here in Russia the exploitation of the working people is generally and universally explained not by the bourgeois organisation of social economy, but by, say, land poverty, redemption payments, or the tyranny of the authorities?

What sense is there in explaining to the worker the theory of the class struggle, if that theory cannot even explain his relation to the employer (capitalism in Russia has been artificially implanted by the government), not to mention the mass of the “people,” who do not belong to the fully established class of factory workers?

How can one accept Marx’s economic theory and its corollary—the revolutionary role of the proletariat as the organiser of communism by way of capitalism—if people in our country try to find ways to communism other than through the medium of capitalism and the proletariat it creates?

Obviously, under such conditions to call upon the worker to fight for political liberty would be equivalent to calling   upon him to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the progressive bourgeoisie, for it cannot be denied (typically enough, even the Narodniks and the Narodovoltsi did not deny it) that political liberty will primarily serve the interests of the bourgeoisie and will not ease the position of the workers, but . . . will ease only the conditions for their struggle . . . against this very bourgeoisie. I say this as against those socialists who, while they do not accept the theory of the Social-Democrats, carry on their agitation among the workers, having become convinced empirically that only among the latter are revolutionary elements to be found. The theory of these socialists contradicts their practice, and they make a very serious mistake by distracting the workers from their direct task of ORGANISING A SOCIALIST WORKERS’ PARTY.[9]

It was a mistake that arose naturally at a time when the class antagonisms of bourgeois society were still quite undeveloped and were held down by serfdom, when the latter was evoking the unanimous protest and struggle of the entire intelligentsia, thus creating the illusion that there was something peculiarly democratic about our intelligentsia, and that there was no profound gulf between the ideas of the liberals and of the socialists. Now that economic development has advanced so far that even those who formerly denied a basis for capitalism in Russia admit our having entered the capitalist path of development—illusions on this score are no longer possible. The composition of the “intelligentsia” is assuming just as clear an outline as that of society engaged in the production of material values: while the latter is ruled and governed by the capitalist, among the former the fashion is set by the rapidly growing   horde of careerists and bourgeois hirelings, an “intelligentsia” contented and satisfied, a stranger to all wild fantasy and very well aware of what they want. Far from denying this fact, our radicals and liberals strongly emphasise it and go out of their way to prove its immorality, to condemn it, strive to confound it, shame it ... and destroy it. These naïve efforts to make the bourgeois intelligentsia ashamed of being bourgeois are as ridiculous as the efforts of our petty-bourgeois economists to frighten our bourgeoisie (pleading the experience of “elder brothers”) with the story that it is moving towards the ruin of the people, towards the poverty, unemployment and starvation of the masses; this trial of the bourgeoisie and its ideologists is reminiscent of the trial of the pike, which was sentenced to be thrown into the river. Beyond these bounds begin the liberal and radical “intelligentsia,” who pour out innumerable phrases about progress, science, truth, the people, etc., and who love to lament the passing of the sixties, when there was no discord, depression, despondency and apathy, and when all hearts were aflame with democracy.

With their characteristic simplicity, these gentlemen refuse to understand that the cause of the unanimity that then prevailed was the then existing material conditions, gone never to return: serfdom pressed down everybody equally— the serf steward who had saved a little money and wanted to live in comfort; the enterprising muzhik, who hated the lord for exacting tribute, for interfering in and tearing him from his business; the proletarianised manor-serf and the impoverished muzhik who was sold into bondage to the merchant; it brought suffering to the merchant manufacturer and the worker, the handicraftsman and the subcontractor. The only tie that linked all these people together was their hostility to serfdom; beyond that unanimity, the sharpest economic antagonism began. How completely one must be lulled by sweet illusions not to perceive this antagonism even today when it has become so enormously developed; to weep for the return of the days of unanimity at a time when the situation demands struggle, demands that everyone who does not want to be a WILLING or UNWILLING myrmidon of the bourgeoisie shall take his stand on the side of the proletariat.

If you refuse to believe the flowery talk about the “interests   of the people” and try to delve deeper, you will find that you are dealing with the out-and-out ideologists of the petty bourgeoisie, who dream of improving, supporting and restoring their (“people’s” in their jargon) economy by various innocent progressive measures, and who are totally incapable of understanding that under prevailing production relations the only effect such progressive measures can have is to proletarianise the masses still further. We cannot but be grateful to the “friends of the people” for having done much to reveal the class character of our intelligentsia and for having thereby fortified the Marxist theory that our small producers are petty bourgeois. They must inevitably hasten the dissipation of the old illusions and myths that have so long confused the minds of Russian socialists. The “friends of the people” have so mauled, overworked and soiled these theories that Russian socialists who held them are confronted with the inexorable dilemma of either revising them, or abandoning them altogether and leaving them to the exclusive use of the gentlemen who announce with smug solemnity, urbi et orbi, that the rich peasants are buying improved implements, and who with serious mien assure us that we must welcome people who have grown weary of sitting at the card tables. And in this strain they talk about a “people’s system” and the “intelligentsia”—talk, not only with a serious air, but in pretentious, stupendous phrases about broad ideals, about an ideal treatment of the problems of life! . . .

The socialist intelligentsia can expect to perform fruitful work only when they abandon their illusions and begin to seek support in the actual, and not the desired development of Russia, in actual, and not possible social-economic relations. Moreover, their THEORETICAL work must be directed towards the concrete study of all forms of economic antagonism in Russia, the study of their connections and successive development; they must reveal this antagonism wherever it has been concealed by political history, by the peculiarities of legal systems or by established theoretical prejudice. They must present an integral picture of our realities as a definite system of production relations, show that the exploitation and expropriation of the working people are essential under this system, and show the way out of this system that is indicated by economic development.

This theory, based on a detailed study of Russian history and realities, must furnish an answer to the demands of the proletariat—and if it satisfies the requirements of science. then every awakening of the protesting thought of the proletariat will inevitably guide this thought into the channels of Social-Democracy. The greater the progress made in elaborating this theory, the more rapidly will Social-Democracy grow; for even the most artful guardians of the present system cannot prevent the awakening of proletarian thought, because this system itself necessarily and inevitably entails the most intense expropriation of the producers, the continuous growth of the proletariat and of its reserve army—and this parallel to the progress of social wealth, the enormous growth of the productive forces, and the socialisation of labour by capitalism. However much has still to be done to elaborate this theory, the socialists will do it; this is guaranteed by the spread among them of materialism, the only scientific method, one requiring that every programme shall be a precise formulation of the actual process; it is guaranteed by the success of Social-Democracy, which has adopted these ideas—a success which has so stirred up our liberals and democrats that, as a certain Marxist has put it, their monthly magazines have ceased to be dull.

In thus emphasising the necessity, importance and immensity of the theoretical work of the Social-Democrats, I by no means want to say that this work should take precedence over PRACTICAL work,[10] —still less that the latter should be postponed until the former is completed. Only the admirers of the “subjective method in sociology,” or the followers of utopian socialism, could arrive at such a conclusion. Of course, if it is presumed that the task of the socialists is to seek “different” (from actual) “paths of development” for the country, then, naturally, practical work becomes possible only when philosophical geniuses discover and indicate these “different paths”; and conversely, once these paths are discovered and indicated theoretical work ends, and the work of those who are to direct the “fatherland” along the “newly-discovered” “different paths”   begins. The position is altogether different when the task of the socialists is to be the ideological leaders of the proletariat in its actual struggle against actual and real enemies who stand in the actual path of social and economic development. Under these circumstances, theoretical and practical work merge into one aptly described by the veteran German Social-Democrat, Liebknecht, as:

Studieren, Propagandieren, Organisieren.[11]

You cannot be an ideological leader without the above mentioned theoretical work, just as you cannot be one without directing this work to meet the needs of the cause, and without spreading the results of this theory among the workers and helping them to organise.

Such a presentation of the task guards Social-Democracy against the defects from which socialist groups so often suffer, namely, dogmatism and sectarianism.

There can be no dogmatism where the supreme and sole criterion of a doctrine is its conformity to the actual process of social and economic development; there can be no sectarianism when the task is that of promoting the organisation of the proletariat, and when, therefore, the role of the “intelligentsia” is to make special leaders from among the intelligentsia unnecessary.

Hence, despite the existence of differences among Marxists on various theoretical questions, the methods of their political activity have remained unchanged ever since the group arose.

The political activity of the Social-Democrats lies in promoting the development and organisation of the working-class movement in Russia, in transforming this movement from its present state of sporadic attempts at protest, “riots” and strikes devoid of a guiding idea, into an organised struggle of the WHOLE Russian working CLASS directed against the bourgeois regime and working for the   expropriation of the expropriators and the abolition of the social system based on the oppression of the working people. Underlying these activities is the common conviction of Marxists that the Russian worker is the sole and natural representative of Russia’s entire working and exploited population.[12]

Natural because the exploitation of the working people in Russia is everywhere capitalist in nature, if we leave out of account the moribund remnants of serf economy; but the exploitation of the mass of producers is on a small scale, scattered and undeveloped, while the exploitation of the factory proletariat is on a large scale, socialised and concentrated. In the former case, exploitation is still enmeshed in medieval forms, various political, legal and conventional trappings, tricks and devices, which hinder the working people and their ideologists from seeing the essence of the system which oppresses the working people, from seeing where and how a way can be found out of this system. In the latter case, on the contrary, exploitation is fully developed and emerges in its pure form, without any confusing details. The worker cannot fail to see that he is oppressed by capital, that his struggle has to be waged against the bourgeois class. And this struggle, aimed at satisfying his immediate economic needs, at improving his material conditions, inevitably demands that the workers organise, and inevitably becomes a war not against individuals, but against a class, the class which oppresses and crushes the working people not only in the factories, but everywhere. That is why the factory worker is none other than the foremost representative of the entire exploited population. And in order that he may fulfil his function of representative in an organised, sustained struggle it is by no means necessary to enthuse him with “perspectives”; all that is needed is simply to make him understand his position, to make him understand the political and economic structure of the system that oppresses him, and the necessity and inevitability of class antagonisms under this system. This position of the factory worker   in the general system of capitalist relations makes him the sole fighter for the emancipation of the working class, for only the higher stage of development of capitalism, large scale machine industry, creates the material condition and the social forces necessary for this struggle. Everywhere else, where the forms of capitalist development are low, these material conditions are absent; production is scattered among thousands of tiny enterprises (and they do not cease to be scattered enterprises even under the most equalitarian forms of communal landownership ), for the most part the exploited still possess tiny enterprises and are thus tied to the very bourgeois system they should be fighting: this retards and hinders the development of the social forces capable of overthrowing capitalism. Scattered, individual, petty exploitation ties the working people to one locality, divides them, prevents them from becoming conscious of class solidarity, prevents them from uniting once they have understood that oppression is not caused by some particular individual, but by the whole economic system. Large-scale capitalism, on the contrary, inevitably severs all the workers’ ties with the old society, with a particular locality and a particular exploiter; it unites them, compels them to think and places them in conditions which enable them to commence an organised struggle. Accordingly, it is on the working class that the Social-Democrats concentrate all their attention and all their activities. When its advanced representatives have mastered the ideas of scientific socialism, the idea of the historical role of the Russian worker, when these ideas become widespread, and when stable organisations are formed among the worker to transform the workers’ present sporadic economic war into conscious class struggle—then the Russian WORKER rising at the head of all the democratic elements, will overthrow absolutism and lead the RUSSIAN PROLETARIAT (side by side with the proletariat of ALL COUNTRIES along the straight road of open political struggle to THE VICTORIOUS COMMUNIST REVOLUTION.

The End




[1] Proof—the break-up of the peasantry. —Lenin

[2] Ziemlich blaße kompromißfähige und kompromißsüchtige Reformrichtung—I think this might be rendered in Russian as kulturnichesky opportunism [uplift opportunism]. —Lenin

[3] Mr. Krivenko cuts an altogether sorry figure in his attempt to wage war on Mr. Struve. He betrays a childish inability to bring forward any really valid objections, and an equally childish irritation. For example, Mr. Struve says that Mr. Nik.-on is a “utopian,” and gives very explicit reasons for calling him so: 1) because be ignores the “actual development of Russia,” and 2) because he does not understand the class character of our state and appeals to “society” and the “state:” What arguments does Mr. Krivenke bring against this? Does he deny that our development is really capitalist? Does he say that it is of some other kind? Does he say that ours is not a class state? No. He prefers to avoid these questions altogether and to battle with comical wrath against “stereotyped patterns” of his own invention. Another example. Besides charging Mr. Nik.-on with not understanding the class struggle, Mr. Struve reproaches him with grave errors of theory in the sphere of “purely economic facts.” He points out, among other things, that in speaking of the smallness of our non-agricultural population, Mr. Nik.-on “fails to observe that the capitalist development of Russia will smooth out this difference between 80%” (rural population of Russia) “and 44%” (rural population of America): “that, one might say, is its historical mission.” Mr. Krivenko, firstly, garbles this passage by speaking of “our” (?) mission to deprive the peasant of his land, whereas the fact of the matter is that capitalism tends to reduce the rural population, and, secondly, without saying a single word on the substance of the question (whether a capitalism that does not lead to a reduction of the rural population is possible), he talks a lot of nonsense about “doctrinaires,” etc. See Appendix II (p. of this volume. –Ed.). —Lenin

[4] You should have tried to thrust your offer of this “vital” work on those young people who talked to the muzhik about European associations! What a welcome, what a splendid retort they would have given you! You would have been as mortally afraid of their ideas as you now are of materialism and dialectics! —Lenin

[5] I quote from Plekhanov’s article “N. G. Chernyshevsky,” in Sotsial-Demokrat.[22]Lenin

[6] One cannot help recalling here the purely Russian feudal arrogance with which Mr. Yermolov, now Minister of Agriculture, objects to migration in his book Crop Failures and the Distress of the People. Migration cannot be regarded as rational from the standpoint of the state, he says, when the landlords in European Russia still experience a shortage of labour. And, indeed, what do the peasants exist for, if not to work and feed the idle landlords and their “high-placed” servitors? —Lenin

[7] This is a very important point. Plekhanov is quite right when he says that our revolutionaries have “two enemies: old prejudices that have not yet been entirely eradicated, on the one hand, and a narrow understanding of the new programme, on the other.” See Appendix III (p. of this volume. –Ed.). —Lenin

[8] A particularly imposing reactionary institution one to which our revolutionaries have paid relatively little attention, is our bureaucracy, which de facto rules the Russian state. The bureaucracy being made up mainly of middle-class intellectuals are profoundly bourgeois both in origin and in the purpose and character of their activities; but absolutism and the enormous political privileges of the landed nobility have lent them particularly pernicious qualities. They are regular weathercocks, who regard it as their supreme task to combine the interests of the landlord and the bourgeois. They are Judushkas[23] who use their feudal sympathies and connections to fool the workers and peasants, and employ the pretext of “protecting the economically weak” and acting as their “guardian” against the kulak and usurer to carry through measures which reduce the working people to the status of a “base rabble,” handing them over to the feudal landlords and making them all the more defenceless against the bourgeoisie. The bureaucracy are most dangerous hypocrites, who have imbibed the experience of the West-European champion reactionaries, and skillfully conceal their Arakcheyev[24] designs behind the fig-leaves of phrases about loving the people. —Lenin

[9] There are two ways of arriving at the conclusion that the worker must be roused to right absolutism: either by regarding the worker as the sole fighter for the socialist system, and therefore seeing political liberty as one of the conditions facilitating his struggle; that is the view of the Social-Democrats or by appealing to him simply as the one who suffers most from the present system, who has noting more to lose and who can display the greatest determination in fighting absolutism. But that would mean compelling the worker to drag in the wake of the bourgeois radicals, who refuse to see the antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat behind the solidarity of the whole “people” against absolutism. —Lenin

[10] On the contrary, the practical work of propaganda and agitation must always take precedence, because, firstly, theoretical work only   supplies answers to the problems raised by practical work, and, secondly the Social-Democrats, for reasons over which they have no control, are so often compelled to confine themselves to theoretical work that they value highly every moment when practical work is possible. —Lenin

[11] Study, propaganda, organisation. —Ed.
[Educate, agitate, organise. —MIA Ed.] —Lenin

[12] Russia’s man of the future is the muzhik—thought the representatives of peasant socialism, the Narodniks in the broadest sense of the term. Russia’s man of the future is the worker—think the Social-Democrats. That is how the Marxist view was formulated in a certain manuscript. —Lenin

[13] Soziaipolitisches Centralblatt (Central Social Political Sheet )—organ of the Right wing of German Social-Democracy. First appeared in 1892.

[14] Pobedonostsev, R. P.—Procurator General of the Synod, an extreme reactionary who inspired the feudal policy of Alexander III.

[15] Lenin refers to the venal press—newspapers and magazines that were in the pay of the tsarist government and fawned on it.

[16] Yermolov, A. S.—Minister of Agriculture and State Properties in 1893-1905; he voiced the interests of the feudal landlords and his policy was one of retaining the relics of serfdom.

Witte, S. Y.—an influential Minister in tsarist Russia, was for many years (1892-1903) Minister of Finance. The measures he adopted in the sphere of finance, customs policy, railway construction etc., were in the interests of the big bourgeoisie and promoted the development of capitalism in Russia.

[17] Lenin refers to the Group of Narodnik Socialists, Russian revolutionary émigrés headed by N. I. Utin, A. D. Trusov, and V. I. Bartenev. This group published the magazine Narodnoye Dyelo (People’s Cause ) in Geneva. At the beginning of 1870 it set up the Russian section of the International Workingmen’s Association (First International). On March 22 1870, the General Council of the International accepted the affiliation of the Russian section. At the section’s request, Marx undertook to serve as its representative on the General Council. “I gladly accept the honourable duty that you offer me, that of your representative on the General Council,” wrote Marx on March 24, 1870, to the members of The Committee of the Russian section (Marx-Engels Ausgewahlte Briefe, M.-L. 1934, S. 234). The members of the Russian section of the First International supported Marx in his struggle against the Bakuninist anarchists, propagated the revolutionary ideas of the International, did what they could to strengthen the ties between the Russian revolutionary movement and the West-European, and took part in the working-class movements of Switzerland and France. However the members of the Russian section were not consistent Marxists their views still contained much of Narodnik utopianism, specifically they idealised the village community, calling it “a great achievement of the Russian people.” The section failed to establish close ties with the revolutionary movement in Russia, which, in the final analysis, was the main reason for its collapse in 1872.

[18] Engelhardt, A. N.—a Narodnik publicist, who became widely known for his social and agronomic activities and his experiment in organising rational farming on his own estate in Batishchevo, Smolensk Gubernia. A description of the farming methods is given by Lenin in his Development of Capitalism in Russia (See present edition, Vol. 3, Chapter 3).

[22] Sotsial-Demokrat (Social-Democrat )—a literary political review published abroad (London-Geneva) by the Emancipation of Labour group in 1890-1892. It played a great part in spreading Marxist ideas in Russia. In all, four issues appeared. The leading contributors to the magazine were G. V. Plekhanov P. B. Axelrod and V. I. Zasulich.

Lenin here quotes Plekhanov’s article “N. G. Chernyshevsky” (See Sotsial-Demokrat, No. 1, 1890, pp. 138-39).

[19] From N. G. Chernyshevsky’s novel Prologue.

[20] See Note 8.

[23] Lenin refers to Judas Golovlyov—a sanctimonious, hypocritical landlord serf owner described in M. Saltykov-Shchedrin’s The Golovlyov Family.

[24] Lenin uses as an epithet the name Arakcheyev—the brutal favourite of tsars Paul I and Alexander I; a period of reactionary police despotism and gross domination of the military is connected with his activities. A characteristic feature of the Arakcheyev regime was the brutal measures employed against the revolutionary movement of the oppressed masses and against any manifestation of liberty.

[21] Lenin refers to the Narodnoye Pravo (People’s Right) party, an illegal organisation of the Russian democratic intelligentsia founded in the summer of 1893. Among the founders were such former Narodovoltsi as O. V. Aptekman, A. I. Bogdanovich, A. V. Gedeonovsky, M. A. Natanson and N. S. Tyutchev. The members of the Narodnoye Pravo set themselves the aim of uniting all opposition forces, with a view to conducting a struggle for political reform. The Narodnoye Pravo party issued two programme documents, a “Manifesto” and “An Urgent Issue.” In the sprint of 1894 the party was broken up by the tsarist government. For Lenin’s assessment of the Narodnoye Pravo as a political party, see pages 329-32 of the present volume, and also the pamphlet The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats (Vol. 2). The majority of the Narodnoye Pravo members subsequently joined the Social-Revolutionary Party.

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