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)


Appendix II

Mr. Struve quite rightly makes the corner-stone of his criticism of Nik. —on the thesis that “Marx’s doctrine of the class struggle and the state is completely foreign to the Russian political economist.” I do not possess the boldness of Mr. Krivenko to make this one (four-column) article by Mr. Struve the basis for a judgement of his system of views (I am not acquainted with his other articles) and I must say that I do not agree with all the statements he makes; and can, therefore, support only certain fundamental propositions he advances and not his article as a whole. But the circumstance mentioned has, at any rate, been quite correctly assessed: Mr. Nik. -on’s basic error is, indeed, his failure to understand the class struggle inherent in capitalist society. The correction of this one error would be sufficient to ensure that Social-Democratic conclusions would be drawn from even his theoretical propositions and investigations. To overlook the class struggle is indeed to reveal a gross misunderstanding of Marxism, a misunderstanding for which Mr. Nik. —on must be all the more blamed since he is so very anxious to pass himself off as a strict adherent of Marx’ s principles. Can anyone with the least knowledge of Marx deny that the doctrine of the class struggle is the pivot of his whole system of views?

Mr. Nik. —on could, of course, have accepted Marx’s theory with the exception of this point, on the grounds, let us say, that it does not conform to the facts of Russian history and reality. But then, in the first place, he could not have said that Marx’s theory explains our system; he could not even have spoken of this theory and of capitalism, because it would have been necessary to remould the theory and to work out a conception of a different capitalism,   in which antagonistic relations and the class struggle were not inherent. At any rate he should have made an explicit reservation and explained why, having accepted the A of Marxism he refuses to accept B. Mr. Nik. —on made no attempt to do anything of the kind.

And Mr. Struve quite rightly concluded that failure to understand the class struggle makes Mr. Nik. —on a utopian, for anybody who ignores the class struggle in capitalist society eo ipso ignores all the real content of the social and political life of this society and, in seeking to fulfil his desideratum, is inevitably doomed to hover in the sphere of pious wishes. This failure to understand the class struggle makes him a reactionary, for appeals to “society” and to the “state,” that is, to bourgeois ideologists and politicians, can only confuse the socialists, and cause them to accept the worst enemies of the proletariat as their allies, can only hamper the workers’ struggle for emancipation instead of helping to strengthen, clarify and improve the organisation of that struggle.

Since we have mentioned Mr. Struve’s article, we cannot but deal with Mr. Nik. —on’s reply in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 6.[1]

It appears,” argues Mr. Nik. —on, citing data about the slow increase in the number of factory workers, an increase lagging behind the growth of the population, “that in our country capitalism, far from fulfilling its ’ historic mission,’ is itself setting limits to its own development. That, incidentally, is why those who seek ’ for their fatherland a path of development distinct from that which Western Europe followed and still follows’ are a thousand times right.” (And this is written by a man who   admits that Russia is following this very capitalist path!) This “historic mission” is not being fulfilled, according to Mr. Nik. —on, because “the economic trend hostile to the village community (i.e., capitalism) is destroying the very foundations of its existence without providing that modicum of unifying significance so characteristic of Western Europe and which is beginning to manifest itself with particular force in North America.”

In other words, what we have here is the standard argument against the Social-Democrats invented by the celebrated Mr. V. V., who regarded capitalism from the standpoint of a government official settling the state problem of the “introduction of capitalism into the life of the people”— if it is fulfilling its “mission,” let it in; if not, “keep it out!” Apart from all the other virtues of this clever argument, the very “mission” of capitalism was understood by Mr V. Y., and is apparently understood by Mr. Nik. —on, in an impossibly and preposterously false and narrow fashion. And again, of course, these gentlemen unceremoniously ascribe the narrowness of their own understanding to the Social-Democrats, who can be maligned like the dead since the legal press is closed to them!

As Marx saw it, the progressive and revolutionary work of capitalism consists in the fact that, in socialising labour, it at the same time “disciplines, unites and organises the working class” by the mechanism of that very process, it trains them for the struggle, organises their “revolt,” unites them to “expropriate the expropriators,” seize political power and wrest the means of production from the “few usurpers” and turn them over to society (Capital, p. 650).[10]

That is how Marx formulates it.

Nothing, of course, is said here about the “number of factory workers”: Marx speaks of the concentration of the means of production and of the socialisation of labour. It is quite clear that these criteria have nothing in common with the “number of factory workers.”

But our exceptionalist interpreters of Marx misinterpret this to mean that the socialisation of labour under capitalism amounts to factory workers labouring under one roof, and that the progressiveness of the work of capitalism is therefore to be measured by . . . the number of factory   workers!!! If the number of factory workers is increasing, capitalism is doing its progressive work well; if the number is decreasing, it is “fulfilling its historic mission badly” (p. 103 of Mr. Nik. —on’s article), and it behoves the “intelligentsia” “to seek different paths for their fatherland.”

And so the Russian intelligentsia set out to seek “different paths.” It has been seeking and finding them for decades, trying with might and main to prove[2] that capitalism is a “false” line of development, for it leads to unemployment and crises. We faced a crisis, they say, in 1880, and again in 1893; it is time to leave this path, for obviously things are going badly with us.

The Russian bourgeoisie, however, like the cat in the fable, “listens but goes on eating”:[11] of course things are going “badly” when fabulous profits can no longer be made. So it echoes the song of the liberals and radicals and, thanks to available and cheaper capital, energetically sets about building new railways. Things are going badly with “us” because in the old places “we” have already picked the people clean and now have to enter the field of industrial capital, which cannot enrich us as much as merchant capital. And so “we” will go to the eastern and northern border regions of European Russia, where “primitive accumulation,” which yields a profit of hundreds per cent, is still possible, where the bourgeois differentiation of the peasantry is still far from complete. The intelligentsia perceive all this and ceaselessly threaten that “we” are again heading for a crash. And a new crash is really upon us. Very many small capitalists are being crushed by the big capitalists, very many peasants are being squeezed out of agriculture, which is increasingly passing into the hands of the bourgeoisie; the sea of poverty, unemployment   and starvation is increasing immensely—and the “intelligentsia,” with a clear conscience, point to their prophecies and ceaselessly complain about a wrong path, citing the absence of foreign markets as proof of the instability of our capitalism.

The Russian bourgeoisie, however, “listens but goes on eating.” While the “intelligentsia” seek new paths, the bourgeoisie undertake gigantic projects for the construction of railways to their colonies, where they create a market for themselves, introducing the charms of the bourgeois system to the young countries and there, too, creating an industrial and agricultural bourgeoisie with exceptional rapidity, and casting the mass of the producers into the ranks of the chronically starving unemployed.

Will the socialists really continue to confine themselves to complaining about wrong paths, and try to prove . . . by the slow increase in the number of factory workers that capitalism is unstable!!?

Before discussing this childish idea,[3] I cannot but mention that Mr. Nik. —on very inaccurately quoted the passage from Mr. Struve’s article that he criticised. This article says literally the following:

When the author (i.e., Mr. Nik. —on) points to the difference in the occupational composition of the Russian and American populations—for Russia 80% of the total gainfully-employed population (erwerbsthätigen ) are taken as engaged in agriculture, and in the United States only 44%— he does not observe that the capitalist development of Russia will work to obliterate this difference between 80% and 44%; that, one might say, is its historic mission.”

It may be held that the word “mission” is very inappropriate here, but Mr. Struve’s idea is clear: Mr. Nik. —on did not notice that the capitalist development of Russia   (he himself admits that this development is really a capitalist one) will reduce the rural population, whereas in fact it is a general law of capitalism. Consequently; to refute this objection, Mr. Nik. —on should have shown either 1) that he had not overlooked this tendency of capitalism, or 2) that capitalism has no such tendency.

Instead, Mr. Nik. —on sets about analysing the data on the number of our factory workers (1% of the population, according to his estimate). But was Mr. Struve speaking of factory workers? Does the 20% of the population in Russia and the 56% in America represent factory workers? Are the terms “factory workers” and “population not engaged in agriculture” identical? Can it be denied that the proportion of the population engaged in agriculture is diminishing in Russia too?

Having made this correction, which I consider all the more necessary because Mr. Krivenko has already garbled this passage in this very magazine, let us pass to Mr. Nik. —on’s idea itself—“our capitalism is fulfilling its mission badly.”

Firstly, it is absurd to identify the number of factory workers with the number of workers engaged in capitalist production, as is done by the author of the Sketches.[4] This is repeating (and even aggravating) the error of the Russian petty-bourgeois economists who make large-scale machine industry the very beginning of capitalism. Are not the millions of Russian handicraftsmen who work for merchants, with the latter’s material and for ordinary wages, engaged in capitalist production? Do the regular farm labourers and day labourers in agriculture not receive wages from their employers, and do they not surrender surplus-value to them? Are not the workers in the building industry (which has rapidly developed in our country since the Reform) subjected to capitalist exploitation? And so on.[5]  

Secondly, it is absurd to compare the number of factory workers (1,400,000) with the total population and to express the ratio as a percentage. That is simply comparing incommensurables: the able-bodied population with the non-able-bodied, those engaged in the production of material values with the “liberal professions,” and so on. Do not the factory workers each maintain a certain number of non-working members of the family? Do not the factory workers maintain—apart from their employers and a whole flock of traders—a host of soldiers, civil servants and similar gentry, whom you assign to the agricultural population, contrasting this hotchpotch to the factory population? And then, are there not in Russia such industries as fishing and so forth, which it is again absurd to contrast   with factory industry and to combine with agriculture? If you wanted to get an idea of the occupational composition of the population of Russia, you should, firstly, have singled out into a special group the population engaged in the production of material values (excluding, consequently, the non-working population, on the one hand, and soldiers, civil servants, priests, etc., on the other); and, secondly, you should have tried to divide them among the various branches of national labour. If the data for this were not available, you should have refrained from undertaking such calculations,[6] instead of talking nonsense about   1% (??!!) of the population being engaged in factory industry.

Thirdly—and this is the chief and most outrageous distortion of Marx’s theory of the progressive and revolutionary work of capitalism—where did you get the idea that the “unifying significance” of capitalism is expressed in uniting only the factory workers? Can it be that you borrow your idea of Marxism from the articles in Otechestvenniye Zapiski on the socialisation of labour? Can it be that you, too, identify it with work under one roof?

But no. It would appear that Nik. —on cannot be accused of this, because he accurately describes the socialisation of labour by capitalism on the second page of his article in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 6, correctly indicating both features of this socialisation: 1) work for the whole of society, and 2) the uniting of individual labourers so as to obtain the product of common labour. But if that is so, why judge the “mission” of capitalism by the number of factory workers, when this “mission” is fulfilled by the development of capitalism and the socialisation of labour in general, by the creation of a proletariat in general, in relation to which the factory workers play the role only of front rankers, the vanguard. There is, of course, no doubt that the revolutionary movement of the proletariat depends on the number of these workers, on their concentration, on the degree of their development, etc.; but all this does not give us the slightest right to equate the “unifying significance” of capitalism with the number of factory workers. To do so would be to narrow down Marx’s idea impossibly.

I will give you an example. In his pamphlet Zur Wohnungsfrage,[7] Frederick Engels speaks of German industry and points out that in no other country—he is referring only to Western Europe—do there exist so many wage workers who own a garden or a plot of land. “Rural domestic industry carried on in conjunction with kitchen-gardening or ... agriculture,” he says, “forms the broad basis of Germany’s new large-scale industry.” This domestic industry grows increasingly with the growing distress of the German small peasant (as is the case in Russia, let us add), but the COMBINATION of industry with agriculture is the basis not of the WELL-BEING of the domestic producer; the handicraftsman, but on the contrary, of his greater OPPRESSION. Being tied to his locality, he is compelled to accept any price, and therefore surrenders to the capitalist not only surplus-value but a large part of his wages as well (as is the case in Russia, with her vast development of the domestic system of large-scale production). “That is one side of the matter,” Engels continues, “but it also has its reverse side. . . . With the expansion of domestic industry, one peasant area after another is being dragged into the present-day industrial movement. It is this revolutionising of the rural areas by domestic industry which spreads the industrial revolution in Germany over a far wider territory than was the case in England and France. . . . This explains why in Germany, in contrast to England and France, the revolutionary working-class movement has spread so tremendously over the greater part of the country instead of being confined exclusively to the urban centres. And this in turn explains the tranquil, certain and irresistible progress of the movement. It is perfectly clear that in Germany a victorious rising in the capital and in the other big cities will be possible only when the majority of the smaller towns and a great part of the rural districts have become ripe for the revolutionary change.”[12]

So you see, it appears that not only the “unifying significance of capitalism,” but also the success of the working-class movement depends not only on the number of factory workers, but also on the number of ... handicraftsmen! Yet our exceptionalists, ignoring the purely capitalist organisation   of the vast majority of the Russian handicraft industries, contrast them, as a sort of “people’s” industry, to capitalism and judge “the percentage of the population at the direct disposal of capitalism” by the number of factory workers! This is reminiscent of the following argument by Mr. Krivenko: the Marxists want all attention to be directed to the factory workers; but as there are only one million of them out of 100 million people, they constitute only a small corner of life, and to devote oneself to it is just like confining oneself to work in estate or charitable institutions (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 12). Mills and factories are just as small a corner of life as estate and charitable institutions!! What a genius you are, Mr. Krivenko! No doubt it is the estate institutions that produce goods for the whole of society? No doubt it is the state of affairs in the-estate institutions that explains the exploitation and expropriation of the working people. No doubt it is in the estate institutions that one must look for the advanced representatives of the proletariat who are capable of raising the banner of working-class emancipation.

It is not surprising to hear such things from the lips of the minor bourgeois philosophers; but it is a pity to have to read that sort of thing in the writings of Mr. Nik. —on.

On p. 393 of Capital,[13] Marx quotes figures of the composition of the English population. In 1861 there was a total of 20 million people in England and Wales. Of these, 1,605,440 persons were employed in the main branches of factory industry.[8] Furthermore, there were 1,208,648 members of the servant class, and in a footnote to the second edition Marx refers to the very rapid growth of this class. Now just imagine that there were “Marxists” in England who divided 1,600,000 by 20,000,000 to judge the “unifying significance of capitalism”!! The result would   be 8%—less than one-twelfth !!! How can one speak of the “mission” of capitalism when it has not united even one twelfth of the population, and when, moreover, there is a more rapid increase in the “domestic slave” class—representing a dead loss of “national labour,” which shows that “we,” the English, are following the “wrong path”! Is it not clear that “we” must “seek different,” non-capitalist “paths of development for our fatherland”?!

There is yet another point in Mr. Nik. —on’s argument: when he says that capitalism here does not yield the unifying significance which is “so characteristic of Western Europe and is beginning to manifest itself with particular force in North America,” he is apparently referring to the working-class movement. And so, we must seek different paths because capitalism here does not give rise to a working-class movement. This argument, it seems to me, was anticipated by Mr. Mikhailovsky. Marx operated with a ready-made proletariat—he admonished the Marxists. And when a Marxist told Mikhailovsky that all he saw in poverty was poverty, his reply was: this remark, as usual, was taken bodily from Marx. But if we turn to this passage in The Poverty of Philosophy we shall find that it is not applicable in our case and that our poverty is just poverty. As a matter of fact, however, you will still find nothing to bear you out in The Poverty of Philosophy. Marx there says of the communists of the old school that they saw in poverty nothing but poverty without seeing its revolutionary, destructive side; which would overthrow the old society.[14] Evidently, Mr. Mikhailovsky takes the absence of any “manifestation” of a working-class movement as grounds for asserting that it is not applicable in our case. In reference to this argument, let us remark, firstly, that only a most superficial acquaintance with the facts can give rise to the idea that Marx operated with a ready-made proletariat. Marx’s communist programme was drawn up before 1848. What working-class movement[9] was there in Germany then? There   was not even political liberty at that time, and the activities of the communists were confined to secret circles (as in our country today). The Social-Democratic labour movement, which made the revolutionary and unifying role of capitalism quite clear to everybody, began two decades later, when the doctrine of scientific socialism had definitely taken shape, when large-scale industry had become more widespread, and there emerged numerous talented and energetic disseminators of this doctrine among the working class. In addition to presenting historical facts in a false light and forgetting the vast amount of work done by the socialists in lending consciousness and organisation to the working-class movement, our philosophers foist upon Marx the most senseless fatalistic views. In his opinion, they assure us, the organisation and socialisation of the workers occur spontaneously, and, consequently, if we see capitalism but do not see a working-class movement, that is because capitalism is not fulfilling its mission, and not because we are still doing too little in the matter of organisation and propaganda among the workers. This cowardly petty-bourgeois artifice of our exceptionalist philosophers is not worth refuting: it is refuted by all the activities of the Social-Democrats in all countries; it is refuted by every public speech made by any Marxist. Social-Democracy—as Kautsky very justly remarks—is a fusion of the working-class movement and socialism. And in order that the progressive work of capitalism may “manifest” itself in this country too, our socialists must set to work with the utmost energy; they must work out in greater detail the Marxist conception of the history and present position of Russia, and make a more concrete investigation of all forms of the class struggle and exploitation, which are particularly complex and masked in Russia. They must, furthermore, popularise this theory and make it known to the worker; they must help the worker to assimilate it and devise the form of organisation most SUITABLE under our conditions for disseminating Social-Democratic ideas and welding the workers into a political force. And the Russian Social-Democrats, far from ever having said that they have already completed, fulfilled this work of the ideologists of the working class (there is no end to this work), have always stressed the fact   that they are only just beginning it, and that much effort by many, many persons will be required to create anything at all lasting.

Besides its unsatisfactory and preposterously narrow conception of the Marxist theory, this common objection that progressive work is lacking in our capitalism seems to be based on the absurd idea of a mythical “people’s system.”

When the “peasants” in the notorious “village community” are splitting up into paupers and rich, into representatives of the proletariat and of capital (especially merchant capital), they refuse to see that this is embryonic, medieval capitalism, and, evading the political-economic structure of the countryside, they chatter, in their search for “different paths for the fatherland,” about changes in the form of peasant landownership, with which they unpardonably confuse the form of economic organisation, as though a purely bourgeois differentiation of the peasantry were not in full swing within the “equalitarian village community” itself. And at a time when this capitalism is developing and outgrowing the narrow forms of medieval, village capitalism, shattering the feudal power of the land and compelling the peasant, long stripped clean and starving, to abandon the land to the community for equalitarian division among the triumphant kulaks, to leave home, to tramp the whole of Russia, unemployed for many a long day, and to hire himself now to a landlord, tomorrow to a railway contractor, then as an urban labourer or as farm labourer to a rich peasant, and so on; when this “peasant,” who changes masters all over Russia, sees that wherever he goes he is most shamefully plundered; when he sees that other paupers like himself are plundered; that it is not necessarily the “lord” who robs him, but also “his brother muzhik,” if the latter has the money to buy labour-power; when he sees how the government always serves his masters, restricting the rights of the workers and suppressing as riots every attempt to protect their most elementary rights; when he sees the Russian worker’s labour becoming more and more arduous, and wealth and luxury growing more and more rapidly, while the worker’s conditions are becoming steadily worse, expropriation more, intense and unemployment a regular thing—at a time like this our critics of Marxism are seeking different   paths for the fatherland; at a time like this they are occupied in pondering over the profound question of whether we can admit that the work of capitalism is progressive seeing how slow is the growth in the number of factory workers, and whether we should not reject our capitalism and consider it a false path because “it is fulfilling its historic mission badly, very, very badly.”

A lofty and broadly humane occupation, is it not?

And what narrow doctrinaires these wicked Marxists are when they say that to seek different paths for the fatherland when capitalist exploitation of the working people exists all over Russia means to flee from realities to the sphere of utopia; when they find that it is not our capitalism but rather the Russian socialists who are fulfilling their mission badly, those socialists who refuse to understand that to dream about the age-old economic struggle of the antagonistic classes of Russian society dying down is tantamount to sinking to Manilovism,[15] and who refuse to realise that we must strive to impart organisation and understanding to this struggle, and to this end set about Social-Democratic work.

In conclusion, we cannot but note another attack by Mr. Nik. —on on Mr. Struve in this same issue, No. 6, of Russkoye Bogatstvo.

We cannot help drawing attention,” Mr. Nik. —on says, “to a certain peculiarity in Mr. Struve’s methods of controversy. He was writing for the German public, in a serious German magazine; but the methods he employed seem entirely inappropriate. We may take it that not only the German but even the Russian public has grown to ’ man’s estate,’ and will not be impressed by all the ’ bugbears’ in which his article abounds. ’ Utopia,’ ’ reactionary programme’ and similar expressions are to be met with in every column. But today, alas, these ’ terrible words’ simply do not produce the effect on which Mr. Struve apparently counts” (p. 128).

Let us try to examine whether “inappropriate methods” have been employed in this controversy between Messrs, Nik. —on and Struve, and, if they have, by whom.

Mr. Struve is accused of employing “inappropriate methods” on the grounds that in a serious article he tries to impress the public with “bugbears” and “terrible words.”

To employ “bugbears” and “terrible words” means describing an opponent in terms of severe disapproval that at the same time are not clearly and precisely motivated and do not follow inevitably from the writer’s standpoint (one that has been definitely stated), but simply express a desire to abuse, to dress down.

Obviously, it is only this last feature which turns epithets of severe disapproval into “bugbears.” Mr. Slonimsky spoke severely of Mr. Nik. —on, but as he clearly and definitely formulated his point of view, that of an ordinary liberal who is absolutely incapable of understanding the bourgeois character of the present order, and quite explicitly formulated his phenomenal arguments; he may be accused of anything you like, but not of “inappropriate methods.” Mr. Nik. —on, on his part, spoke severely of Mr. Slonimsky, quoting, incidentally, for his edification and instruction, Marx’s words—which have been “justified in our country too” (as Mr. Nik. —on admits)—about the reactionary and utopian character of the defence of the small handicraft industry and small peasant landownership which Mr. Slonimsky wants, and accusing him of “narrow-mindedness,” “naïveté,” and the like. Look, Mr. Nik. —on’s article “abounds” in the same epithets (underscored) as Mr. Struve’s; but we cannot speak of “inappropriate methods” in this case, because it is all motivated, it all follows from the author’s definite standpoint and system of views, which may be false, but which, if accepted, necessarily lead to regarding one’s opponent as a naïve, narrow-minded and reactionary utopian.

Let us see how matters stand with Mr. Struve’s article. Accusing Mr. Nik. —on of utopianism that leads inevitably to a reactionary programme, and of naïveté, he quite clearly indicates the grounds which led him to such an opinion. Firstly: desiring the “socialisation of production,” Mr. Nik. —on “appeals to society” (sic!) “and the state.” This “proves that Marx’s doctrine of the class struggle and the state is completely foreign to the Russian political economist.” Our state is the “representative of the ruling   classes.” Secondly: “If we contrast to real capitalism an imaginary economic system which must come about simply because we want it to, in other words, if we want the socialisation of production without capitalism, this is only evidence of a naïve conception, which does not conform to history.” With the development of capitalism, the elimination of natural economy and the diminution of the rural population, “the modern state will emerge from the twilight in which, in our patriarchal times, it is still enveloped (we are speaking of Russia), and step out into the clear light of the open class struggle, and other forces and factors will have to be sought for the socialisation of production.”

Well, is this not a sufficiently clear and precise motivation? Can one dispute the truth of Mr. Struve’s specific references to the author’s ideas? Did Mr. Nik. —on really take account of the class struggle inherent in capitalist society? He did not. He speaks of society and the state, and forgets this struggle, excludes it. He says, for example, that the state supported capitalism instead of socialising labour through the village community, and so on. He evidently believes that the state could have behaved this way or that, and, consequently, that it stands above classes. Is it not clear that to accuse Mr. Struve of resorting to “bugbears” is a crying injustice? Is it not clear that a man who believes that ours is a class state cannot regard one who appeals to that state to socialise labour, that is, to abolish the ruling classes as anything but a naïve and reactionary utopian? More, when one accuses an opponent of resorting to “bugbears,” and says nothing about the views from which his opinion follows, despite the fact that he has clearly formulated these views; and when, moreover, one accuses him in a censored magazine, where these views cannot appear—should we not rather regard this as “an absolutely inappropriate method”?

Let us proceed. Mr. Struve’s second argument is formulated no less clearly. That the socialisation of labour apart from capitalism, through the village community, is an imaginary system cannot be doubted, for it does not exist in reality. This reality is described by Mr. Nik. —on himself as follows: prior to 1861 the productive units were the “family” and the “village community” (Sketches, pp. 106-107).   This “small, scattered, self-sufficing production could not develop to any considerable extent, and its extremely routine nature and low productivity were therefore typical.” The subsequent change meant that “the social division of labour became deeper and deeper.” In other words, capitalism broke out of the narrow bounds of the earlier productive units and socialised labour throughout society. Mr. Nik.-on, too, admitted this socialisation of labour by our capitalism. Therefore, in wanting to base the socialisation of labour not on capitalism, which has already socialised labour, but on the village community, the breakdown of which for the first time brought about the socialisation of labour throughout society, he is a reactionary utopian. That is Mr. Struve’s idea. One may regard it as true or false, but it cannot be denied that his severe comment on Mr. Nik. —on followed with logical inevitability from this opinion, and it is, therefore, out of place to talk of “bug bears.”

Furthermore, when Mr. Nik. —on concludes his controversy with Mr. Struve by attributing to his opponent the desire to dispossess the peasantry of the land (“if by a progressive programme is meant dispossessing the peasantry of the land ... then the author of the Sketches is a conservative”), despite Mr. Struve’s explicit statement that he desires the socialisation of labour, desires it through capitalism, and therefore desires to base himself on the forces that will be visible in “the clear light of the open class struggle”—that can only be called a version diametrically opposed to the truth. And if we bear in mind that Mr. Struve could not in the censored press speak of the forces which come forward in the clear light of the open class struggle, and that, consequently, Mr. Nik. —on’s opponent was gagged—it can scarcely be denied that Mr. Nik. —on’s method is altogether “inappropriate.”



[1] Generally speaking, by his articles in Russkoye Bogatstvo, Mr. Nik. —on is apparently trying hard to prove that he is by no means as remote from petty-bourgeois radicalism as one might think; that he too is capable of discerning in the growth of a peasant bourgeoisie (No. 6, p. 118—the spread among the “peasants” of improved implements, phosphates, etc.) symptoms indicating that the peasantry itself” (the peasantry that is being expropriated whole sale?) “realises the necessity of finding a way out of the position it is in.” —Lenin

[2] These proofs are wasted, not because they are wrong—the ruin, impoverishment and starvation of the people are unquestionable and inevitable concomitants of capitalism—but because they are addressed to thin air. “Society,” even under the cloak of democracy, furthers the interests of the plutocracy, and, of course, the plutocracy will hardly take up the cudgels against capitalism. The “government”. . . I will cite the comment of an opponent, Mr. N. K. Mikhailovsky: however little we know the programmes of our government be once wrote, we know them enough to be certain that the “socialisation of labour” has no part in them. —Lenin

[3] How can this idea be called anything but childish, when the progressive work of capitalism is not judged by the degree of socialisation of labour, but by such a fluctuating index of the development of only one branch of national labour! Everybody knows that the number of workers cannot be anything but extremely inconstant under the capitalist mode of production, and that it depends upon a host of secondary factors, such as crises, the size of the reserve army, the degree of the exploitation of labour, the degree of its intensity, and so on and so forth. —Lenin

[4] N. F. Danielson, Sketch’s on Our Post-Reform Social Economy, St. Petersburg, 1893. —Ed.

[5] I confine myself here to criticising Mr. Nik. —on’s method of judging “the unifying significance of capitalism” by the number of factory workers. I cannot undertake an analysis of the figures because I have not got Mr. Nik. —on’s sources handy. One cannot,   however, refrain from noting that he has hardly selected these sources happily. He first takes data for 1865 from the Military Statistical Abstract and those for 1890 from the Directory of Factories and Works of 1894. The number of workers he gets (exclusive of mine-workers) is 829,573 and 875,764, respectively. The increase of 5.5% is much less than the increase in population (from 61,420,000 to 91,000,000 or 48.1%). But on the next page different figures are taken both for 1865 and 1890 from the Directory of 1893. According to these data, the number of workers is 392,718 and 716,792, respectively—an increase of 82%. But this does not include industries paying excise duties, in which the number of workers (p. 104) was 186,053 in 1865 and 144,332 in 1890. Adding these figures to the preceding ones we get the following total numbers of workers (except mine-workers): 578,771 in 1865 and 861,124 in 1890. An increase of 48.7% with a population increase of 48.7%. Thus in the space of five pages the author uses some data that show an increase of 5% and others showing an increase of 48%! And on the basis of such contradictory figures he finds that our capitalism is unstable!!

And then why did not the author take the data on the number of workers quoted in the Sketches (Tables XI and XII), and from which we see that it increased by 12-13% in three years (1886-1889), an increase that far outstrips the growth of population? The author may perhaps say that the time interval was too short. But then, in the first place, these data are homogeneous, comparable and more reliable; and in the second place, did not the author himself use these same data, despite the short time interval, to form a judgement of the growth of factory industry?

Obviously if such a fluctuating index as the number of workers is used to indicate the state of only one branch of national labour, those data cannot be anything but shaky. And one must be a naïve dreamer indeed to base one’s hopes on such data—hopes that our capitalism will collapse, crumble to dust spontaneously, without a desperate and stubborn struggle—and to use these data to question the indisputable domination and development of capitalism in all branches of national labour! —Lenin

[6] Mr. Nik. —on attempted such a calculation in the Sketches, but very unsuccessfully. On p. 302, we read:

An attempt was recently made to determine the total number of free workers in the 50 gubernias of European Russia (S. A. Korolenko, Hired Labour, St. Petersburg 1892). An investigation made by the Department of Agriculture estimates the able-bodied rural population in the 50 gubernias of European Russia at 35,712,000, whereas the total number of workers required in agriculture and in the manufacturing, mining, transport and other industries is estimated at only 30,124,000. Thus the number of absolutely superfluous workers reaches the huge figure of 5,588,000, which, together with their families, according to the accepted standard, would amount to no less than 15,000,000 persous.” (Repeated on p. 341.)

If we turn to this ’ ’ investigation,” we shall find that only the hired labour employed by the landlords was “investigated”; Mr. S. Korolenko supplemented the investigation with an “agricultural and industrial survey” of European Russia. This survey makes an attempt (not on the basis of some “investigation,” but on the basis of old available data) to class the working population of European Russia by occupation. The results arrived at by Mr. S. A. Korolenko are as follows: the total number of workers in the 50 gubernias of European Russia is 35,712 000, engaged in:

agriculture 27,435,400
cultivation of special crops1,466,400
factory and mining industry1,222,700
lumbering about 2,000,000
local and outside employment,
hunting, trapping, and
miscellaneous others

Thus Mr. Korolenko (rightly or wrongly) classed all the workers by occupation, but Mr. Nik. —on arbitrarily takes the first three headings   and talks about 5,588,000 “absolutely superfluous” (??) workers!

Apart from this defect one cannot refrain from noting that Mr. Korolenko’s estimates are extremely rough and inaccurate: the number of agricultural workers is computed in accordance with one general standard for the whole of Russia; the non-producing population has not been classed separately (under this heading Mr. Korolenko, in deference to official anti-Semitism, classed . the Jews! There must be more than 1,400,000 non-producing workers: traders, paupers, vagabonds, criminals, etc.); the number of handicraftsmen (the last heading—outside and local employment) is preposterously low, etc. It would be better not to quote such estimates at all. —Lenin

[7] The Housing Question.Ed.

[8] There were 642,607 persons employed in the textile, hosiery and lace industries (in our country tens of thousands of women engaged in stocking- and lace-making are incredibly exploited by the “tradeswomen” for whom they work. Wages are sometimes as low as three [sic!] kopeks a day! Do you mean to say, Mr. Nik. —on that they are not “at the direct disposal of capitalism”?), and in addition 565,835 persons were employed in coal and ore mines, and 396,998 persons all metal works and manufactures. —Lenin

[9] The smallness of the working class at that time may be judged from the fact that 27 years later, in 1875, Marx wrote that “the majority of the toiling people in Germany consists of peasants, and not of proletarians.”[16] That is what “operating (??) with a ready made proletariat” comes down to! —Lenin

[10] See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1959, p. 763.

[11] Lenin quotes from I. A. Krylov’s fable “The Cat and the Cook.”

[12] Here and further on Lenin quotes from the Preface to the second edition of F. Engels’ The Housing Question. (See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, pp. 550, 554-55.)

[13] See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1959, p. 446.

[14] Lenin refers to the principles expressed by Marx in the second chapter of The Poverty of Philosophy, an essay directed against Proudhon. (See K. Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Moscow, pp. 140-41.)

[16] Lenin quotes from Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme. (See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, p. 31.)

[15] Manilovism—derived from the name of Manilov, one of the characters in N. V. Gogol’s Dead Souls. Manilov is a sentimental, “high-souled” landlord in whom Gogol has embodied the typical   features of the weak-willed dreamer, empty visionary, and inert tattler. Lenin uses the name Manilov as an epithet to describe the liberal Narodniks.

  Appendix I | Appendix III  

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