V. I.   Lenin

A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats[2]

Written: Written at the end of August–beginning of September 1899
Published: First published abroad in December 1899 as the separate reprints from No. 4–5 of the magazine Rabocheye Dyelo[3].
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 4, pages 167-182.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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A tendency has been observed among Russian Social-Democrats recently to depart from the fundamental principles of Russian Social-Democracy that were proclaimed by its founders and foremost fighters, members of the Emancipation of Labour group[4] as well as by the Social-Democratic publications of the Russian workers’ organisations of the nineties. The Credo reproduced below, which is presumed to express the fundamental Views of certain (“young”) Russian Social- Democrats, represents an attempt at a systematic and definite exposition of the “new views.” The following is its full text:

“The guild and manufacture period in the West laid a sharp impress on all subsequent history and particularly on the history of Social- Democracy. The fact that the bourgeoisie had to fight for free forms, that it strove to release itself from the guild regulations fettering production, made the bourgeoisie a revolutionary element; everywhere in the West it began with liberté, fraternité, égalité (liberty, fraternity, equality), with the achievement of free political forms. By these gains, however, as Bismarck expressed it, it drew a bill on the future payable to its antipode—the working class. Hardly anywhere in the West did the working class, as a class, win the democratic institutions—it made use of them. Against this it may he argued that the working class took part in revolutions. A reference to history will refute this opinion, for, precisely in 1848, when the consolidation of Constitutions took place in the West, the working class represented the urban artisan element, the petty-bourgeois democracy; a factory proletariat hardly existed,   while the proletariat employed in large-scale industry (the German weavers depicted by Hauptmann, the weavers of Lyons) represented a wild mass capable only of rioting, but not of advancing any political demands. It can be definitely stated that the Constitutions of 1848 were won by the bourgeoisie and the small urban artisans. On the other hand, the working class (artisans, manufactory workers, printers, weavers, watchmakers, etc.) have been accustomed since the Middle Ages to membership in organisations, mutual benefit societies, religious societies, etc. This spirit of organisation is still alive among the skilled workers in the West, sharply distinguishing them from the factory proletariat, which submits to organisation badly and slowly and is capable only of lose-organisation (temporary organisations) and not of permanent organisations with rules and regulations. It was these manufactory skilled workers that comprised the core of the Social-Democratic parties. Thus, we get the picture: on the one hand, the relative ease of political struggle and every possibility for it; on the other hand, the possibility for the systematic organisation of this struggle with the aid of the workers trained in the manufacturing period. It was on this basis that theoretical and practical Marxism grew up in the West. The starting-point was the parliamentary political struggle with the prospect—only superficially resembling Blanquism, but of totally different origin—of capturing power, on the one hand, and of a Zusammenbruch (collapse), on the other. Marxism was the theoretical expression of the prevailing practice: of the political struggle predominating over the economic. In Belgium, in France, and particularly in Germany, the workers organised the political struggle with incredible ease; but it was with enormous difficulty and tremendous friction that they organised the economic struggle. Even to this day the economic organisations as compared with the political organisations (leaving aside England) are extraordinarily weak and unstable, and everywhere laissent à désirer quelque chose (leave something to be desired). So long as the energy in the political struggle had not been completely exhausted, Zusammenbruch was an essential organisational Schlagwort (slogan) destined to play an extremely important historical role. The fundamental law that can be discerned by studying the working-class movement is that of the line of least resistance. In the West, this line was political activity, and Marxism, as formulated in the Communist Manifesto, was the best possible form the movement could assume. But when all energy in political activity had been exhausted, when the political movement had reached a point of intensity difficult and almost impossible to surpass (the slow increase in votes in the recent period, the apathy of the public at meetings, the note of despondency in literature), this, in conjunction with the ineffectiveness of parliamentary action and the entry into the arena of the ignorant masses, of the unorganised and almost unorganisable factory proletariat, gave rise in the West to what is now called Bernsteinism,[5] the crisis of Marxism. It is difficult to imagine a more logical course than the period of development of the labour movement from the Communist Manifesto to Bernsteinism, and a careful study of this whole process can determine with astronomical exactitude the outcome of this “crisis.” Here, of course, the issue is not the defeat or   victory of Bernsteinism—that is of little interest; It is the radical change in practical activity that has been gradually taking place for a long time within the party.

“The change will not only be towards a more energetic prosecution of the economic struggle and consolidation of the economic organisations, but also, and most importantly, towards a change in the party’s attitude to other opposition parties. Intolerant Marxism, negative Marxism, primitive Marxism (whose conception of the class division of society is too schematic) will give way to democratic Marxism, and the social position of the party within modern society must undergo a sharp change. The party will recognise society; its narrow corporative and, in the majority of cases, sectarian tasks will be widened to social tasks, and its striving to seize power will be transformed into a striving for change, a striving to reform present-day society on democratic lines adapted to the present state of affairs, with the object of protecting the rights (all rights) of the labouring classes In the most effective and fullest way. The concept ’politics’ will be enlarged and will acquire a truly social meaning, and the practical demands of the moment will acquire greater weight and will be able to count on receiving greater attention than they have been getting up to now.

“It is not difficult to draw conclusions for Russia from this brief description of the course of development taken by the working-class movement in the West. In Russia, the line of least resistance will never tend towards political activity. The incredible political oppression will prompt much talk about it and cause attention to be concentrated precisely on this question, but it will never prompt practical action. While in the West the fact that the workers were drawn into political activity served to strengthen and crystallise their weak forces, in Russia, on the contrary, these weak forces are confronted with a wall of political oppression. Not only do they lack practical ways of struggle against this oppression, and hence, also for their own development, but they are systematically stifled and cannot give forth even weak shoots. If to this we add that the working class in our country has not inherited the spirit of organisation which distinguished the fighters in the West, we get a gloomy picture, one that is likely to drive into despondency the most optimistic Marxist who believes that an extra factory chimney stack will by the very fact of its existence bring great welfare. The economic struggle too is hard, infinitely hard, but it is possible to wage it, and it is in fact being waged by the masses themselves. By learning in this struggle to organise, and coming into constant conflict with the political regime in the course of it, the Russian worker will at last create what may be called a form of the labour movement, the organisation or organisations best conforming to Russian conditions. At the present, it can be said with certainty that the Russian working-class movement is still in the amoeba state and has not yet acquired any form. The strike movement, which goes on with any form of organisation, cannot yet be described as the crystallised form of the, Russian movement, while the illegal organisations are not worth consideration even from the mere quantitative point of view (quite apart from the question of their usefulness under present conditions).

“Such is the situation. If to this we add the famine and the process of ruination of the countryside, which facilitate Streikbrecher-ism[1] and, consequently, the even greater difficulty of raising the masses of the workers to a more tolerable cultural level, then ... well, what is there for the Russian Marxist to do?! The talk about an independent workers’ political party merely results from the transplantation of alien aims and alien achievements to our soil. The Russian Marxist, so far, is a sad spectacle. His practical tasks at the present time are paltry, his theoretical knowledge, insofar as he utilises it not as an instrument br research but as a schema for activity, is worthless for the purpose of fulfilling even these paltry practical tasks. Moreover, these borrowed patterns are harmful from the practical point of view. Our Marxists, forgetting that the working class in the West entered political activity after that field had already been cleared, are much too contemptuous of the radical or liberal opposition activity of all other non-worker strata of society. The slightest attempt to concentrate attention on public manifestations of a liberal political character rouses the protest of the orthodox Marxists, who forget that a number of historical conditions prevent us from being Western Marxists and demand of us a different Marxism, suited to, and necessary in, Russian conditions. Obviously, the lack in even Russian citizen of political feeling and sense cannot be compensated by talk about politics or by appeals to a non-existent force.This political sense can only be acquired through education, i.e., through participation in that life (however un-Marxian it may be) which is offered by Russian conditions. ’Negation’ is as harmful in Russia as it was appropriate (temporarily) in the West, because negation proceeding from something organised and possessing real power is one thing, while negation proceeding from an amorphous mass of scattered individuals is another.

“For the Russian Marxist there is only one course: participation in, i.e., assistance to, the economic struggle of the proletariat, and participation in liberal opposition activity. As a ’negator,’ the Russian Marxist came on the scene very early, and this negation has weakened the share of his energy that should be turned in the direction of political radicalism. For the time being, this is not terrible; but if the class schema prevents the Russian intellectual from taking an active part in life and keeps him too far removed from opposition circles, it will be a serious loss to all who are compelled to fight for legal forms separately from the working class, which has not yet put forward political aims. The political innocence concealed behind the cerebrations of the Russian Marxist intellectual on political topics may play mischief with him.”

We do not know whether there are many Russian Social-Democrats who share these views. But there is no doubt that ideas of this kind have their adherents, and we therefore   feel obliged to protest categorically against such views and to warn all comrades against the menacing deflection of Russian Social-Democracy from the path it has already marked out—the formation of an independent political working-class party which is inseparable from the class struggle of the proletariat and which has for its immediate aim the winning of political freedom.

The above-quoted Credo represents, first, “a brief description of the course of development taken by the working-class movement in the West,” and, secondly, “conclusions for Russia.”

First of all, the authors of the Credo have an entirely false concept.ion of the history of the West-European working-class movement. It is not true to say that the working class in the West did not take part in the struggle for political liberty and in political revolutions. The history of the Chartist movement and the revolutions of 1848 in France, Germany, and Austria prove the opposite. It is absolutely untrue to say that “Marxism was the theoretical expression of the prevailing practice: of the political struggle predominating over the economic.” On the contrary, “Marxism” appeared at a time when non-political socialism prevailed (Owenism, “Fourierism,” “true socialism”) and the Communist Manifesto took up the cudgels at once against non-political socialism. Even when Marxism came out fully armed with theory (Capital) and organised the celebrated International Working Men’s Association,[6] the political struggle was by no means the prevailing practice (narrow trade-unionism in England, anarchism and Proudhonism in the Romance countries). In Germany the great historic service performed by Lassalle was the transformation of the working class from an appendage of the liberal bourgeoisie into an independent political party. Marxism linked up the economic and the political struggle of the working class into a single inseparable whole; and the effort of the authors of the Credo to separate these forms of struggle is one of their most clumsy and deplorable departures from Marxism.

Further, the authors of the Credo also have an entirely wrong conception of the present state of the West-European working-class movement and of the theory of Marxism, under the banner of which that movement is marching.   To talk about a “crisis of Marxism” is merely to repeat the nonsense of the bourgeois hacks who are doing all they can to exacerbate every disagreement among the socialists and turn it into a split in the socialist parties. The notorious Bernsteinism—in the sense in which it is commonly understood by the general public, and by the authors of the Credo in particular—is an attempt to narrow the theory of Marxism, to convert the revolutionary workers’ party into a reformist party. As was to be expected, this attempt has been strongly condemned by the majority of the German Social-Democrats. Opportunist trends have repeatedly manifested themselves in the ranks of German Social-Democracy, and on every occasion they have been repudiated by the Party, which loyally guards the principles of revolutionary international Social-Democracy. We are convinced that every attempt to transplant opportunist views to Russia will encounter equally determined resistance on the part of the overwhelming majority of Russian Social-Democrats.

Similarly, there can be no suggestion of a “radical change in the practical activity” of the West—European workers parties, in spite of what the authors of the Credo say: the tremendous importance of the economic struggle of the proletariat, and the necessity for such a struggle, were recognised by Marxism from the very outset. As early as the forties Marx and Engels conducted a polemic against the utopian socialists who denied the importance of this struggle.[7]

When the International Working Men’s Association was formed about twenty years later, the question of the importance of trade unions and of the economic struggle was raised at its very first Congress, in Geneva, in 1866. The resolution adopted at that Congress spoke explicitly of the importance of the economic struggle and warned the socialists and the workers, on the one hand, against exaggerating its importance (which the English workers were inclined to do at that time) and, on the other, against underestimating its importance (which the French and the Germans, particularly the Lassalleans, were inclined to do). The resolution recognised that the trade unions were not only a natural, but also an essential phenomenon under capitalism and considered them an extremely important means for organising the working class in its daily struggle against capital and   for the abolition of wage-labour. The resolution declared that the trade unions must not devote attention exclusively to the “immediate struggle against capital,” must not remain aloof from the general political and social movement of the working class; they must not pursue “narrow” aims, but must strive for the general emancipation of the millions of oppressed workers. Since then the workers’ parties in the various countries have discussed the question many times and, of course, will discuss it again and again—whether to devote more or less attention at any given moment to the economic or to the political struggle of the proletariat; but the general question, or the question in principle, today remains as it was presented by Marxism. The conviction that the class struggle must necessarily combine the political and the economic struggle into one integral whole has entered into the flesh and blood of international Social-Democracy. The experience of history has, furthermore, incontrovertibly proved that absence of freedom, or restriction of the political rights of the proletariat, always make it necessary to put the political struggle in the forefront.

Still less can there be any suggestion of a serious change in the attitude of the workers’ party towards the other opposition parties. In this respect, too, Marxism has mapped out the correct line, which is equally remote from exaggerating the importance of politics, from conspiracy (Blanquism, etc.), and from decrying politics or reducing it to opportunist, reformist social tinkering (anarchism, utopian and petty- bourgeois socialism, state socialism, professorial socialism, etc.). The proletariat must strive to form independent political workers’ parties, the main aim of which must be the capture of political power by the proletariat for the purpose of organising socialist society. The proletariat must not regard the other classes and parties as “one reactionary mass”[8]; on the contrary, it must take part in all political and social life, support the progressive classes and parties against the reactionary classes and parties, support every revolutionary movement against the existing system, champion the interests of every oppressed nationality or race, of every persecuted religion, of the disfranchised sex, etc. The arguments the Credo authors advance on this subject merely reveal a desire to obscure the class character of the struggle   of the proletariat, weaken this struggle by a meaningless “recognition of society,” and reduce revolutionary Marxism to a trivial reformist trend. We are convinced that the over-whelming majority of Russian Social-Democrats will resolutely reject this distortion of the fundamental principles of Social-Democracy. Their erroneous premises regarding the West-European working-class movement led the authors of the Credo to draw still more erroneous “conclusions for Russia.”

The assertion that the Russian working class “has not yet put forward political aims” simply reveals ignorance of the Russian revolutionary movement. The North-Russian Workers’ Union[9] formed in 1878 and the South-Russian Workers’ Union[10] formed in 1875 put forward even then the demand for political liberty in their programmes. After the reaction of the eighties, the working class repeatedly put forward the same demand in the nineties. The assertion that “the talk about an independent workers’ political party merely results from the transplantation of alien aims and alien achievements to our soil” reveals a complete failure to understand the historical role of the Russian working class and the most vital tasks of Russian Social-Democracy. Apparently, the programme of the authors of the Credo inclines to the idea that the working class, following “the line of least resistance,” should confine itself to the economic struggle, while the “liberal opposition elements” fight, with the “participation” of the Marxists, for “legal forms.” The application of such a programme would be tantamount to the political suicide of Russian Social-Democracy, it would greatly retard and debase the Russian working-class movement and the Russian revolutionary movement (for us the two concepts coincide). The mere fact that it was possible for a programme like this to appear shows how well ground ed were the fears expressed by one of the foremost champions of Russian Social-Democracy, P. B. Axelrod, when, at the end of 1897, he wrote of the possibility of the following prospect:

“The working-class movement keeps to the narrow but of purely economic conflicts between the workers and employers and, in itself, taken as a whole, is not of a political character, while in the struggle for political freedom the advanced strata of the proletariat follow the   revolutionary circles and groups of the so-called intelligentsia” (Axelrod, Present Tasks and Tactics of the Russian Social-Democrats, Geneva, 1898, p. 19).

Russian Social-Democrats must declare determined war upon the whole body of ideas expressed in the Credo, for these ideas lead straight to the realisation of this prospect. Russian Social-Democrats must bend every effort to translate into reality another prospect, outlined by P. B. Axelrod in the following words:

“The other prospect: Social-Democracy organises the Russian proletariat into an independent political party which fights for liberty, partly side by side and in alliance with the bourgeois revolutionary groups (if such should exist), and partly by recruiting directly into its ranks or securing the following the most democratic-minded and revolutionary elements from among the Intelligentsia” (ibid., p. 20).

At the time P. B. Axelrod wrote the above lines the declarations made by Social-Democrats in Russia showed clearly that the overwhelming majority of them adhered to the same point of view. It is true that one St. Petersburg workers’ paper, Rabochaya Mysl,[11] seemed to incline toward the ideas of the authors of the Credo. In a leading article setting forth its programme (No. 1, October 1897) it expressed, regrettably, the utterly erroneous idea, an idea running counter to Social-Democracy, that the “economic basis of the movement” may be “obscured by the effort to keep the political ideal constantly in mind.” At the same time, however, another St. Petersburg workers’ newspaper, S. Peterburgsky Rabochy Listok[12] (No. 2, September 1897), emphatically expressed the opinion that “the overthrow of the autocracy ... can be achieved only by a well-organised and numerically strong working-class party” and that “organised in a strong party” the workers will “emancipate themselves, and the whole of Russia, from all political and economic oppression.” A third newspaper, Rabochaya Gazeta,[13] in its leading article in issue No. 2 (November 1897), wrote: “The fight against the autocratic government for political liberty is the immediate task of the Russian working-class movement” “The Russian working-class movement will increase its forces tenfold if it comes out as a single harmonious whole, with a common name and a well-knit organisation...." “The   separate workers’ circles should combine into one common party.” “The Russian workers’ party will be a Social-Democratic Party.”

That precisely these views of Rabochaya Gazeta were fully shared by the vast majority of Russian Social-Democrats is seen, furthermore, from the fact that the Congress of Russian Social-Democrats[14] in the spring of 1898 formed the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, published its manifesto and recognised Rabochaya Gazeta as the official Party organ. Thus, the Credo authors are taking an enormous step back ward from the stage of development which Russian Social-Democracy has already achieved and which it has recorded in the Manifesto of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. Since the frenzied persecution by the Russian Government has led to the present situation in which the Party’s activity has temporarily subsided and its official organ has ceased publication, it is the task of all Russian Social-Democrats to exert every effort for the utmost consolidation of the Party, to draw up a Party programme and revive its official organ. In view of the ideological vacillations evidenced by the fact that programmes like the above-examined Credo can appear, we think it particularly necessary to emphasise the following fundamental principles that were expounded in the Manifesto and that are of enormous importance to Russian Social-Democracy. First, Russian Social-Democracy “desires to be and to remain the class movement of the organised working masses.” Hence it follows that the motto of Social-Democracy must be: aid to the workers, not only in their economic, but also in their political struggle; agitation, not only in connection with immediate economic needs, but also in connection with all manifestations of political oppression; propaganda, not only of the ideas of scientific socialism, but also of democratic ideas. Only the theory of revolutionary Marxism can be the banner of the class movement of the workers, and Russian Social-Democracy must concern itself with the further development and implementation of this theory and must safeguard it against the distortions and vulgarisations to which “fashionable theories” are so often subjected (and the successes of revolutionary Social-Democracy in Russia have already made Marxism a “fashionable” theory). While concentrating all their present efforts on activity among factory   and mine workers, Social-Democrats must not forget that with the expansion of the movement home workers, handicraftsmen, agricultural labourers, and the millions of ruined and starving peasants must be drawn into the ranks of the labouring masses they organise.

Secondly: “On his strong shoulders the Russian worker must and will carry to a finish the cause of winning political liberty.” Since its immediate task is the overthrow of the autocracy, Social-Democracy must act as the vanguard in the fight for democracy, and consequently, if for no other reason, must give every support to all democratic elements of the population of Russia and win them as allies. Only an independent working-class party can serve as a strong bulwark in the fight against the autocracy, and only in alliance with such a party, only by supporting it, can all the other fighters for political liberty play an effective part.

Thirdly and finally: “As a socialist movement and trend, the Russian Social-Democratic Party carries on the cause and the traditions of the whole preceding revolutionary movement in Russia; considering the winning of political liberty to be the most important of the immediate tasks of the Party as a whole, Social-Democracy marches towards the goal that was already clearly indicated by the glorious representatives of the old Narodnaya Volya.[15]” The traditions of the whole preceding revolutionary movement demand that the Social-Democrats shall at the present time concentrate all their efforts on organising the Party, on strengthening its internal discipline, and on developing the technique for illegal work. If the members of the old Narodnaya Volya managed to play an enormous role in the history of Russia, despite the fact that only narrow social strata supported the few heroes, and despite the fact that it was by no means a revolutionary theory which served as the banner of the movement, then Social-Democracy, relying on the class struggle of the proletariat, will be able to render itself invincible. “The Russian proletariat will throw off the yoke of autocracy in order to continue the struggle against capital and the bourgeoisie for the complete victory of socialism with still greater energy.”

We invite all groups of Social-Democrats and all workers’ circles in Russia to discuss the above-quoted Credo   and our resolution, and to express a definite opinion on the question raised, in order that all differences may be re moved and the work of organising and strengthening the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party may be accelerated.

Groups and circles may send their resolutions to the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad which, by Point 10 of the decision of the 1898 Congress of Russian Social-Democrats, is a part of the Russian Social-Democratic Party and its representative abroad.


[1] Strike-breaking —Ed.

[2] “A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats” was written by Lenin in August 1899 when he was in exile and when he received the manifesto of the “economists” which A. I. Ulyanova-Yelizarova sent him from St. Petersburg and which she called the Credo of the “Young.” The author of the Credo was Y. D. Kuskova, at the time a member of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad. The manifesto of the group of “economists” was not intended for the press; as Lenin said, it was published “irrespective of, and perhaps even against, the wishes of its authors,” because the “economists” feared public criticism of their opportunist views.

The draft of the “Protest” which Lenin prepared to oppose the manifesto of the Russian Bernsteinians was discussed at a meeting of seventeen Marxists in exile in Minusinsk Region at the village of Yermakovskoye. The “Protest” was adopted unanimously. A colony of exiles in Turukhansk also subscribed to the “Protest.” Another colony of 17 exiled Social-Democrats in the town of Or by, Vyatka Gubernia, also came out against the Credo of the “economists.”

The “Protest” was sent abroad and immediately upon its receipt G. V. Plekhanov sent it to the press for inclusion in the cur rent number of Rabocheye Dyelo. The “young” members of the Union Abroad, engaged in editing Rabocheye Dyelo, however, published the “Protest” as a separate leaflet in December 1899 without Plekhanov’s knowledge. The “Protest” was followed by a postscript stating that the Credo represented the opinion of individuals whose position did not constitute a danger to the Russian working-class movement and denying that “economism” was current among members of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad. Early in 1900 Plekhanov reprinted the “Protest” in the Vademecum,   a collection of essays against the “economists ." Plekhanov welcomed the appearance of the “Protest” as evidence that the Russian Social-Democrats had recognised the serious danger of “economism” and had emphatically declared war on it.

[3] Rabocheye Dyelo (The Workers’ Cause)—the magazine of the “economists” which appeared irregularly in Geneva between April 1899 and February 1902 as an organ of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad. For a criticism of the Rabocheye Dyelo group see Lenin’s What Is to Be Done? (see present edition, Vol. 5).

[4] The Emancipation of Labour was the first Russian Marxist group. It was founded in Geneva by G. V. Plekhanov in 1883 and included P. B. Axelrod, L. G. Deutsch, V. I. Zasulich, and V. N. Ignatov among its members.

The group did much to spread Marxism in Russia. It translated such Marxist works as The Manifesto of the Communist Party by Marx and Engels, Wage-Labour and Capital by Marx, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific by Engels, etc., published them abroad and organised their distribution in Russia. Plekhanov and his group seriously undermined Narodism. In 1883 and in 1885 Plekhanov wrote two draft programmes of the Russian Social-Democrats; these were published by the Emancipation of Labour group and marked an important step towards the establishment of a Social-Democratic party in Russia. Plekhanov’s Socialism and the Political Struggle (1883), Our Differences (1885), and The Development of the Monist View of History (1895) played a considerable part in disseminating Marxist ideas. The group, however, made some serious mistakes. It clung to remnants of Narodnik views, underestimated the revolutionary role of the peasantry, and overestimated the part played by the liberal bourgeoisie. These errors were the germs of the future Menshevik ideas espoused by Plekhanov and other members of the group. The group had no practical ties with the working-class movement. Lenin pointed out that the Emancipation of Labour group “only theoretically founded the Social-Democratic Party and took the first step in the direction of the working-class movement” (see present edition, Vol. 20, “Ideological Struggle in the Working-Class Movement”).

At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., held in August 1903, the Emancipation of Labour group announced its dissolution.

[5] Bernsteinism—a trend hostile to Marxism in international Social-Democracy. It emerged in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century and became connected in name with the Social-Democrat Eduard Bernstein who attempted to revise Marx’s revolutionary theory in the spirit of bourgeois liberalism. The Russian Bernsteinians were the “legal Marxists,” the “economists the Bundists, and the Mensheviks.

[6] The International Working Men’s Association (First International)—the first international organisation of the proletariat, founded   by Karl Marx in 1864 at an international workers’ meeting convened in London by English and French workers. The foundation of the first International was the result of many years of persistent struggle waged by Marx and Engels to establish a revolutionary party of the working class. Lenin said that the First International “laid the foundation of an international organisation of the workers for the preparation of their revolutionary assault on capital,” “laid the foundation for the proletarian, international struggle for socialism” (see present edition, Vol. 29, “The Third International and Its Place In History”).

The central, leading body of the International Working Men’s Association was the General Council, of which Marx was a permanent member. In the course of the struggle against the petty-bourgeois influences and sectarian tendencies then prevalent in the working-class movement (narrow trade-unionism in England, Proudhonism and anarchism in the Romance countries), Marx rallied around himself the most class-conscious members of the General Council (Friedrich Lessner, Eugène Dupont, Hermann Jung, and others). The First International directed the economic and political struggle of the workers of different countries and strengthened their international solidarity. The First International played a tremendous p art in disseminating Marxism, in connecting socialism with the working-class movement.

Following the defeat of the Paris Commune, the working class faced the task of creating mass national parties based on the principles advanced by the First International. “As I view European conditions,” wrote Marx in 1873, “it is quite useful to let the formal organisation of the International recede into the background for the time being” (Marx to Sorge, London, September 27, 1873). In 1876 the First International was officially disbanded at a convention in Philadelphia.

[7] Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Moscow, 1959, pp. 187-97.

[8] Lenin criticises the well-known Lassallean thesis that all other classes constitute a reactionary mass with respect to the working class. This thesis was included in the programme of the German Social-Democrats that was adopted at the Gotha Congress in 1875, the Congress which united the two hitherto separately existing German socialist parties, the Eisenachers and the Lassalleans.

Marx exposed the anti-revolutionary nature of this thesis in his Critique of the Gotha Programme (see Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, pp. 25-26).

[9] The North-Russian Workers’ Union, organised in 1878 in St. Petersburg, was one of the early revolutionary political organisations of the Russian working class. The leaders of the Union were Stepan Khalturin, a joiner, and Victor Obnorsky, a mechanic. The Union organised strikes and issued a number of proclamations. It had a membership of over 200. In 1879 the Union was suppressed   by the tsarist government. In February 1880 the members of the Union who remained at liberty published one issue of Rabochaya Zarya (Workers’ Dawn), the first working-class newspaper in Russia.

[10] The South-Russian Workers’ Union, founded in 1875 in Odessa by Y. O. Zaslavsky, was the first workers’ revolutionary political organisation in Russia. The Union was suppressed by the tsarist government after having been in existence for eight or nine months.

[11] Rabochaya Mysl (Workers’ Thought)—the newspaper of the “economists,” published from October 1897 to December 1902; altogether 16 issues appeared (under the editorship of K. M. Takhtarev and others).

Lenin criticised the views of Rabochaya Mysl in his “A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy” (see pp. 255-85 of this volume), in articles published in Iskra, and in his work What Is to Be Done? (see present edition, Vol. 5).

[12] S. Peterburgsky Rabochy Listok (St. Petersburg Workers’ Paper)—an illegal newspaper, organ of the St. Petersburg League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class. Two numbers appeared: No. I in February (dated January) 1897, which was mimeographed in Russia, some 300-400 copies having been run off; No. 2 in September 1897, in Geneva (printed).

The paper advanced the aim of combining the economic struggle of the working class with extensive political demands and stressed the necessity for the foundation of a working-class party.

[13] Rabochaya Gazeta (Workers’ Gazette)—the illegal organ of the Kiev group of Social-Democrats. Two issues appeared—No. I in August 1897 and No. 2 in December (dated November) of the same year. The First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. adopted Rabochaya Gazeta as the Party’s official organ. The newspaper did not appear after the Congress, the print-shop having been destroyed by the police and the members of the Central Committee arrested. Concerning the attempts to resume its publication made in 1899, see present volume, pp. 207-09.

[14] The First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was held in March 1898 in Minsk. The Congress was attended by nine delegates from six organisations—the St. Petersburg, Moscow, Ekaterinolsav, and Kiev Leagues for the Emancipation of the Working Class, the Rabochaya Gazeta (Kiev) editorial group, and the Bund.

The Congress elected a Central Committee, adopted Rabochaya Gazeta as the official organ of the Party, published a Manifesto, and declared the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad to be the Party’s representative abroad. Soon after the Congress the Central Committee was arrested.

The First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was important for its decisions and its Manifesto which proclaimed the formation of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.

[15] Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will)—a secret political organisation of Narodnik terrorists that came into being in August 1879 as a result of a split in the ranks of the Narodnik organisation Zemlya Volya (Land and Liberty). The Narodnaya Volya was headed by an Executive Committee whose membership included A. I. Zhelyabov, A. D. Mikhailov, M. F. Frolenko, N. A. Morozov, V. N. Figner, S. L. Perovskaya, and A. A. Kvyatkovsky. The Narodnaya Volya clung to the utopian socialism of the Narodniks, but took the path of political struggle, considering its most important task to he the overthrow of the autocracy and the winning of political liberty. Its programme envisaged the organisation of a “permanent popular assembly” elected on the basis of universal suffrage, the proclamation of democratic liberties, the transfer of the land to the people, and the elaboration of measures for the transfer of the factories to the workers. “The Narodovoltsi (members and followers of the Narodnaya Volya),” wrote Lenin, “made a step forward in their transition to the political struggle, but they did not succeed in connecting it with socialism” (see present edition, Vol. 8, “Working-Class and Bourgeois Democracy”).

The Narodovoltsi carried on a heroic struggle against the autocracy. They based their activities on the fallacious theory of active “heroes” and the passive “mass” and expected to recast society without the participation of the people, employing only their own forces and attempting to overawe and disorganise the government by means of individual terror. After the assassination of Alexander II on March 1, 1881, the government undertook brutal repressions and by executions and provocations broke up the Narodnaya Volya organisation. Many attempts were made to reconstitute the Narodnaya Volya throughout the eighties, but all were unsuccessful. In 1886, for instance, a group that followed the traditions of the Narodnaya Volya was organised under the leadership of A. I. Ulyanov (Lenin’s brother) and P. Y. Shevyrev. After an unsuccessful attempt on the life of Alexander III in 1887, the group was exposed and its active members were executed.

Although Lenin criticised the fallacious, utopian programme of the Narodnaya Volya, he had a great respect for the selfless struggle of its members against tsarism and placed a high value on their secrecy technique and their strictly centralised organisation.

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