V. I.   Lenin

The Agrarian Question and the “Critics of Marx”



The Abolition of the Antithesis Between Town and Country. Particular Questions Raised by the “Critics”

From Hertz let us pass to Mr. Chernov. As the latter merely “talks with his readers” about the former, we shall confine ourselves here to a brief description of Hertz’ method of argument (and Mr; Chernov’s method of paraphrasing him), and (in the next essay) take up certain new facts advanced by the “Critics”.

It will suffice to cite but a single example to show the sort of theoretician Hertz is. At the very beginning of his book we find a paragraph under the pretentious heading, “The Concept of National Capitalism”. Hertz wants nothing more nor less than to present a definition of capitalism. He writes: “We can, of course, characterise it as a system of national economy which rests juridically on the completely applied principles of freedom of the person and of property, technically on production on a wide [large?] scale,[1] socially on the alienation of the means of production from the direct producers, politically on the possession by the capitalists of the central political power [the concentrated political power of the state? ... solely on the economic basis of the distribution of property” (Russian translation, p. 37). These definitions are incomplete, and certain reservations must be made, says Hertz; for example, domestic industry and small tenant farming still persist everywhere side by side with large-scale production. “The realistic [sic!] definition of capitalism as a system under which production is under the control [domination and control] of capitalists [owners of capital] is likewise not quite suitable.” A fine “realistic” definition of capitalism as the domination of capitalists! How characteristic it is—this now fashionable, quasi-realistic, but in fact eclectic quest for an exhaustive enumeration of all the separate symptoms and separate “factors”. The result, of   course, is that this meaningless attempt to include into a general concept all the partial symptoms of single phenomena, or, conversely, to “avoid conflict with extremely varied phenomena”—an attempt that merely reveals an elementary failure to understand what science is—leads the “theoretician” to a point where he cannot see the wood for the trees. Thus, Hertz lost sight of such a detail as commodity production and the transformation of labour-power into a commodity! Instead, he invented the following genetic definition, which—as punishment for the inventor—ought to be quoted in full: Capitalism is “that state of national economy in which the realisation of the principles of free exchange arid freedom of the person and of property has reached its (relative) high point which is determined by the economic development and the empirical conditions of each separate national economy” (S. 10, Russian translation, pp. 38-39, not quite exact). Filled with awe and admiration, Mr. Chernov, of course, transcribes and describes this twaddle, and, moreover, treats the readers of Russkoye Bogatstvo for the space of thirty pages to an “analysis” of the types of national capitalism. From this highly instructive analysis we can extract a number of extremely valuable and by no means stereotyped references, for example, to the “independent, proud, and energetic character of the Briton”; to the “substantial” English bourgeoisie and the “unattractiveness” of their foreign policy; to the “passionate and impulsive temperament of the Latin race” and to the “methodicalness of the Germans” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 4, p. 152). “Dogmatic” Marxism, of course, is utterly annihilated by this analysis.

No less annihilating is Hertz’ analysis of mortgage statistics. At all events, Mr. Chernov goes into ecstasies over it. “The fact is,” he writes, "...Hertz’ figures have not yet been refuted by anyone. Kautsky, in his reply to hertz, dwelt at extreme length upon certain details [such as his proof of Hertz’ distortions—a fine ’detail’!], but to Hertz’ argument on the question of mortgages he made no reply whatever” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, p. 217, Mr. Chernov’s italics). As can be seen from the reference on page 238 in the cited issue of Russkoye Bogatstvo, Mr. Chernov is aware of the article Kautsky wrote in reply (“Zwei Kritiker meiner   Agrarfrage”[2] in Neue Zeit, 18, 1, 1899-1900). Mr. Chernov could not but know, too, that the periodical in which the article appeared is prohibited in Russia by the censor. The more noteworthy, therefore, as characterising the features of the modern “Critics”, is the fact that the very words which Chernov himself underlines contain a flagrant untruth; for on the question of mortgages Kautsky replied to “Hertz, David, Bernstein, Schippel, Bulgakov, e tutti quanti”,[3] on pp. 472-77, in the selfsame article to which Mr. Chernov refers. To rectify distorted truth is a tedious duty; but since we have to deal with the Messrs. Chernov, it is a duty not to be neglected.

Kautsky, of course, replied to Hertz with ridicule; for in regard to this question too Hertz revealed his inability, or unwillingness, to understand what is what and an inclination to repeat the threadbare arguments of bourgeois economists. Kautsky in his Agrarfrage (S. 88.89) dealt with the concentration of mortgages. “Numerous petty village usurers,” wrote Kautsky, “are being forced more and more into the back ground, forced to yield to big centralised capitalist or public institutions which monopolise mortgage credit.” Kautsky enumerates certain capitalist and public institutions of this type; he speaks of mutual land credit societies (genossenschaftliche Bodenkreditinstitute) and points to the fact that savings-banks, insurance companies, and many corporations (S. 89) invest their funds in mortgages, etc. Thus, until 1887, seventeen mutual credit societies in Prussia had issued mortgage bonds to the amount of 1,650,000,000 marks. “These figures show how enormously ground-rent is concentrated in the hands of a few central institutions [our italics]; but this concentration is rapidly increasing. In 1875 German mortgage banks issued mortgage bonds to the amount of 900,000,000 marks and in 1888 to the amount of 2,500,000,000 marks, while in 1892 the amount reached a total of 3,400,000,000 marks, concentrated in 31 banks (as against 27 in 1875)” (S. 89). This concentration of ground-rent is a clear indication of the concentration of landed property.

“No!” retort Hertz, Bulgakov, Chernov & Co. “We find a very decided tendency towards decentralisation and the break-up of property” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, p. 216); for “more than a fourth of the mortgage credits are concentrated in the hands of democratic [sic!] I credit institutions with a vast number of small depositors” (ibid.). Presenting a series of tables, Hertz attempts with extraordinary zeal to prove that the bulk of the depositors in savings-banks, etc., are small depositors. The only question is—what is the purpose of this argument? Kautsky himself referred to the mutual credit societies and savings-banks (while not, of course, imagining, as does Mr. Chernov, that they are particularly “democratic” institutions). Kautsky speaks of the centralisation of rent in the hands of a few central institutions, and he is met with the argument about the large number of small depositors in savings-banks!! And this they call “the break up of property”! What has the number of depositors in mortgage banks to do with agriculture (the subject under discussion being the concentration of rent)? Does a big factory cease to signify the centralisation of production because its shares are distributed among a large number of small capitalists? “Until Hertz and David informed me,” wrote Kautsky in his reply to the former, “I had not the slightest idea where the savings-banks obtained their money. I thought they operated with -the savings of the Rothschilds and the Vanderbilts.”

In regard to transferring mortgages to the state, Hertz says: “This would be the poorest way of fighting big capital, but, of course, the best means of arousing the large and constantly increasing army of the smallest property-owners, particularly the agricultural labourers, against the proponents of such a reform” (S. 29, Russian translation, p. 78. Mr. Chernov smugly repeats this on pp. 217-18 of Russkoye Bogatstvo).

These then are the “property-owners” over whose increase Bernstein & Co. get so wrought up!—retorts Kautsky. Servant girls with twenty marks in the savings-bank! And again we have the threadbare argument employed against the socialists that by “expropriation” they will rob a large army of working people. None other than Eugen Richter zealously advanced this argument in the pamphlet he published after the repeal of the Exceptional Law Against the   Socialists[10] (and which employers bought up by the thou sands to distribute gratis among their workers). In that pamphlet Richter introduces his celebrated “thrifty Agnes”, a poor seamstress who had a score or so of marks in the savings-bank and was robbed by the wicked socialists when they seized political power and nationalised the banks. That is the source from which the Bulgakovs,[4] Hertzes, and Chernovs draw their “critical” arguments.

“At that time,” says Kautsky, concerning Eugen Richter’s “celebrated” pamphlet, “Eugen Richter was unanimously ridiculed by all Social-Democrats. Now we find people among the latter who, in our central organ [this, I think, refers to David’s articles in Vorwärts],[11] sing a hymn of praise to a work in which these very ideas are reproduced. Hertz, we extol thy deeds!

“For poor Eugen, in the decline of his years, this is indeed a triumph, and I cannot refrain from quoting for his pleasure the following passage from that very page in Hertz’ book: ’We see that the small peasants, the urban house-owners, and especially the big farmers, are expropriated by the lower and middle classes the bulk of which undoubtedly consists of the rural population’" (Hertz, S. 29, Russian translation, p. 77. Retold with rapture in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, pp. 216-17). “David’s theory of ’hollowing out’ [Aushöhlung] capitalism by collective wage agreements [Tarifgemeinschaften] and consumers’ co-operative societies is now excelled. It pales into insignificance before Hertz’ expropriation of the expropriators by means of savings-banks. Thrifty Agnes, whom everybody considered dead, has come to life again” (Kautsky, loc. cit., S. 475), and the Russian “Critics”, together with the publicists of Russkoye Bogatstvo, hasten to transplant this resurrected “thrifty Agnes” to Russian soil in order to discredit “orthodox” Social-Democracy.

And this very Mr. V. Chernov, spluttering with enthusiasm over Hertz’ repetition of Eugen Richter’s arguments, “annihilates” Kautsky in the pages of Russkoye Bogatstvo and in the symposium At the Glorious Post, compiled in honour of Mr. N. Mikhailovsky. It would be unfair not to present some   of the gems of this tirade. “Kautsky, again following Marx,” writes Mr. Chernov in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 8, p. 229, “admits that the progress of capitalist agriculture leads to the reduction of nutritive matter in the soil: in the form of various products, something is continuously being taken from the land, sent to the towns, and never restored to the land.... As you see, on the question of the laws of the fertility of the soil, Kautsky helplessly [sic!] repeats the words of Marx, who bases himself upon the theory of Liebig. But when Marx wrote his first volume, Liebig’s ’law of restoration’ was the last word in agronomics. More than half a century has elapsed since that discovery. A complete revolution has taken place in our knowledge of the laws governing soil fertility. And what do we see? The whole post-Liebig period, all the subsequent discoveries of Pasteur and Ville, Solari’s experiments with nitrates, the discoveries of Berthelot, Hellriegel, Wilfahrt, and Vinogradsky in the sphere of the bacteriology of the soil—all this is beyond Kautsky’s ken...." Dear Mr. Chernov! How wonderfully he resembles Turgenev’s Voroshilov: you remember him in Smoke, the young Russian Privatdocent who went on a tour abroad. This Voroshilov was a very taciturn young man; but now and again he would break his silence and pour forth scores and hundreds of the most learned of names, the rarest of the rare. Our learned Mr. Chernov, who has utterly annihilated that ignoramus Kautsky, behaves in exactly the same manner. Only ... only had we not better consult Kautsky’s book—glance at least at its chapter headings? We come to Chapter IV: “Modern Agriculture”, section d, “Fertilisers, Bacteria”. We turn to section d and read:

“Towards the end of the last decade the discovery was made that leguminous plants ... unlike other cultivated plants, obtain nearly the whole of their nitrogen supply, not from the soil, but from the air, and that far from robbing the soil of nitrogen they enrich it. But they possess this property only when the soil contains certain micro-organisms which adhere to their roots. Where these micro-organisms do not exist, it is possible by means of certain inoculations to give these leguminous plants the property of converting soil poor in nitrogen into nitrogen-rich soil, and in this way to fertilise this soil to a certain extent for other crops. As a general   rule, by inoculating bacteria into these plants and by using a suitable mineral fertiliser (phosphoric acid salts and pot ash fertilisers), it is possible to obtain the highest steady yields from the soil even without stable manure. Only thanks to this discovery has ’free farming’ acquired a really firm basis” (Kautsky, pp. 51-52). Who, however, gave a scientific basis to the remarkable discovery of nitrogen-gathering bacteria?—Hellriegel....

Kautsky’s fault is his bad habit (possessed by many of the narrow orthodox) of never forgetting that members of a militant socialist party must, even in their scientific works, keep the working-class reader in mind, that they must strive to write simply, without employing unnecessary clever turns of phrase and those outer symptoms of “learning” which so captivate decadents and the titled representatives of official science. In this work, too, Kautsky preferred to relate in a clear and simple manner the latest discoveries in agronomics and to omit scientific names that mean nothing to nine-tenths of the readers. The Voroshilovs, however, act in precisely the opposite manner; they prefer to effuse a veritable stream of scientific names in the domains of agronomics, political economy, critical philosophy, etc., and thus bury essentials under this scientific lumber.

Thus, Voroshilov-Chernov, by his slanderous accusation that Kautsky is not acquainted with scientific names and scientific discoveries, blocked from view an extremely interesting and instructive episode in fashionable criticism, namely, the attack of bourgeois economics upon the socialist idea of abolishing the antithesis between town and country. Prof. Lujo Brentano, for instance, asserts that migration from the country to the towns is caused, not by given social conditions, but by natural necessity, by the law of diminishing returns.[5] Mr. Bulgakov, following in the footsteps   steps of his teacher, stated in Nachalo (March 1899, p. 29) that the idea of abolishing the antithesis between town and country was “an absolute fantasy”, which would “cause an agronomist to smile”. Hertz writes in his book: “The abolition of the distinction between town and country is, it is true, the principal striving of the old utopians [and even of the Manifesto.] Nevertheless, we do not believe that a social system containing all the conditions necessary for directing human culture to the highest aims achievable would really abolish such great centres of energy and culture as the big cities and, to soothe offended aesthetic sentiments, abandon these abundant depositories of science and art, without which progress is impossible” (S. 76. The Russian translator, on p. 182, rendered the word “potenziert” [Raised to a higher power, abundant.—Ed.] as “potential”. These Russian translations are an awful nuisance! On page 270, the same translator translates the sentence, “Wer isst zuletzt das Schwein?” [Who, in the end, eats the pig?—Ed.] as “Who, in the end, is the pig?”). As can be seen, Hertz defends the bourgeois system from socialist “fantasies” with phrases that convey the “struggle for idealism” no less than do the writings of Messrs. Struve and Berdyaev. But his defence is not in the least strengthened by this bombastic, idealistic phrase-mongering.

The Social-Democrats have proved that they know how to appreciate the historic services of the great centres of energy and culture by their relentless struggle against all that encroaches on the freedom of movement of the population generally and of the peasants and agricultural labourers in particular. That is why no agrarian can trap them, as he can the Critics, with the bait of providing the “muzhik” with winter “employment”. The fact that we definitely recognise the progressive character of big cities in capitalist society, however, does not in the least prevent us from including in our ideal (and in our programme of action, for we leave unattainable ideals to Messrs. Struve and Berdyaev) the abolition of the antithesis between town and country. It is not true to say that this is tantamount to abandoning the treasures of science and art. Quite the contrary: this is necessary in order to bring these treasures within the reach of the entire people, in order to abolish the alienation from culture of millions of the rural population, which Marx aptly described as “the idiocy of rural life”.[12] And at the present time, when it is possible to transmit electric power over long distances, when the technique of transport has been so greatly improved that it is possible at less cost (than at present) to carry passengers at a speed of more than 200 versts an hour,[6] there are absolutely no technical obstacles to the enjoyment of the treasures of science and art, which for centuries have been concentrated in a few centres, by the whole of the population spread more or less evenly over the entire country.

And if there is nothing to prevent the abolition of the antithesis between town and country (not be imagined, of course, as a single act but as a series of measures), it is not an “aesthetic sentiment” alone that demands it. In the big cities people suffocate with the fumes of their own excrement, to use Engels’ expression, and periodically all who can, flee from.the cities in search of fresh air and pure water.[13] Industry is also spreading over the countryside; for it, too, requires pure water. The exploitation of waterfalls, canals,   and rivers to obtain electric power will give a fresh impetus to this “spreading out of industry”. Finally—last, but not least[These words are in English in the original.—Ed.]–the rational utilisation of city refuse in general, and human excrement in particular, so essential for agriculture, also calls for the abolition of the antithesis between town and country. It is against this point in the theory of Marx and Engels that the Critics decided to direct their agronomical arguments (the Critics preferred to refrain from fully analysing the theory, which is dealt with in great detail in Engels’ Anti-Dühring,[14] and, as usual, limited themselves simply to paraphrasing fragments of the thoughts of a Brentano). Their line of reasoning is as follows: Liebig proved that it is necessary to restore to the soil as much as is taken from it. He was therefore of the opinion that throwing city refuse into the seas and rivers was a stupid and barbarous waste of materials essential for agriculture. Kautsky agrees with Liebig’s theory. But modern agronomics has proved that it is quite possible to restore the productive forces of the soil without the use of stable manure, namely, by means of artificial fertilisers, by the inoculation of certain bacteria into leguminous plants which collect nitrates, etc. Consequently, Kautsky, and all those “orthodox” people, are simply behind the times.

Consequently—we reply—here, too, the Critics commit one of their innumerable and endless distortions. After explaining Liebig’s theory, Kautsky immediately showed that modern agronomics has proved that it is quite possible “to dispense altogether with stable manure” (Agrarfrage, S. 50; see passage quoted above), but added that this was merely a palliative compared with the waste of human excrement entailed by the present system of city sewage disposal. Now, if the Critics were at all capable of discussing the essential points of the question, this is the point they should have disproved; they should have shown that it is not a palliative. But they did not even think of doing so. Need less to say, the possibility of substituting artificial for natural manures and the fact that this is already being done (partly) do not in the least refute the irrationality of wasting natural fertilisers and thereby polluting the rivers and the air   in suburban and factory districts. Even at the present time there are sewage farms in the vicinity of large cities which utilise city refuse with enormous benefit to agriculture; but by this system only an infinitesimal part of the refuse is utilised. To the objection that modern agronomics has refuted the argument that the cities agronomically exploit the countryside, with which the Critics present Kautsky as something new, he replies, on page 211 of his book, that artificial fertilisers “render it possible to avoid the diminution of soil fertility, but the necessity to employ them to an increasing extent merely indicates still another of the numerous burdens agriculture has to bear, which are by no means a natural necessity, but a product of existing social relations”.[7]

The words we have emphasised contain the “pivot” of the question which the Critics so zealously confuse. Writers like Mr. Bulgakov try to scare the proletariat with the bogy that the “grain question” is more terrible and important than the social question they are enthusiastic over birth control and argue that “control of the increase of the population” is becoming “the fundamental [sic!] economic condition” for the prosperity of the peasantry (II, 261), that this control is worthy of “respect”, and that “much hypocritical indignation [only hypocritical, not legitimate, indignation against the present social system?] is roused among sentimental [?!] moralists by the increase in births among the peasant population, as if unrestrained lust [sic!] were in itself a virtue” (ibid.). Such writers must naturally and inevitably strive to keep in the background the capitalist obstacles to agricultural progress, to throw the entire blame for everything upon the natural “law of diminishing returns”, and to present the idea of abolishing the antithesis between town and country as “pure fantasy”. But what utter irresponsibility the Chernovs betray when they repeat such arguments and at the same time reproach the Critics of Marxism for “lacking principles and for being eclectics and opportunists” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 11, p. 246)?! What spectacle could be more comical   than that of Mr. Chernov reproving others for lack of principles and for opportunism.

All the other critical exploits of our Voroshilov are identical to what we have just examined.

Voroshilov assures us that Kautsky fails to understand the difference between capitalist credit and usury; that he betrays. utter failure, or unwillingness, to understand Marx, in maintaining that the peasant fulfils the functions of entrepreneur and, as such, stands in the same relation to the proletariat as the factory owner. Beating his breast, Voroshilov cries out: “I say this boldly because I feel [sic!] the ground firmly under my feet” (At the Glorious Post, p. 169). In all this, rest assured, Voroshilov is again hopelessly confusing things and boasting as usual. He “failed to see” the passages in Kautsky’s book that deal with usury as such (Agrarfrage, S. 11, 102-04, especially 118, 290-92), and with all his might forces an open door, shouting as usual about Kautsky’s “doctrinaire formalism”, “moral hard-heartedness”, “mockery at human sufferings”, and so forth. In regard to the peasant fulfilling the functions of entrepreneur, apparently this astonishingly complicated idea is beyond the scope of Voroshilov’s comprehension. In the next essay, however, we shall try to clarify this for him with very concrete examples.

When Voroshilov seeks to prove that he is a real representative of the “interests of labour” and abuses Kautsky for “driving from the ranks of the proletariat numerous genuine working people” (op. cit., p. 167), such as the Lumpen proletariat, domestic servants, handicraftsmen, etc., then the reader can be assured that Voroshilov is again muddling things together. Kautsky examines the distinguishing characteristics of the “modern proletariat” which created the modern “Social-Democratic proletarian movement” (Agrarfrage, S. 306); but to date the Voroshilovs have produced nothing to show that tramps, handicraftsmen, and domestic servants have created a Social-Democratic movement. The charge directed at Kautsky that he is capable of “driving” domestic servants (who in Germany are now beginning to join the movement), handicraftsmen, etc., from the ranks of the proletariat merely exposes to the full the impudence of the Voroshilovs; their display of friendship for the “genuine working people” increases as such phrases decrease in practical   significance, and they can attack with greater impunity the second part of the Agrarian Question, which has been suppressed by the Russian censor. Speaking, incidentally, of impudence, there are some other gems. In praising Messrs. N.—on[15] and Kablukov, while completely ignoring the Marxist criticism directed against them, Mr. Chernov, with affected naiveté, asks: To whom do the German Social-Democrats refer when they speak of their Russian “comrades”? Let him who finds it hard to believe that such questions are asked in Russkoye Bogatstvo, turn to No. 7, p. 166.

When Voroshilov asserts that Engels’ “prediction” that the Belgian labour movement will prove barren owing to the influence of Proudhonism[16] “has been proved false”, then the reader may well know that Voroshilov, self-assured in his, shall we say, “irresponsibility”, is again distorting the facts. He writes: “It is not surprising that Belgium has never been orthodox Marxist, and it is not surprising that Engels, being displeased with her for that reason, predicted that the Belgian movement, owing to the influence of ’Proudhonist principles’, would pass ’von nichts durch nichts zu, nichts’.[8] Alas, this prediction has fallen through, and the breadth and many sidedness of the Belgian movement enable it to serve to day as a model from which many ’orthodox’ countries are learning a great deal” (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, p. 234). The facts are as follows: In 1872 (seventy-two!), Engels was engaged in a polemic in the columns of the Social-Democratic paper Volksstaat[17] with the German Proudhonist Mülberger; to deflate the exaggerated importance attached to Proudhonism, he wrote: “The only country where the working-class movement is directly under the influence of Proudhonist ’principles’ is Belgium, and precisely as a result of this the Belgian movement comes, as Hegel would say, ’from nothing through nothing to nothing’.”[9]

Thus, it is positively untrue to say that Engels “predicted” or “prophesied” anything. He merely spoke of the facts as they were, i.e., the situation that existed in 1872. And it is an   undoubted historical fact that at that time the Belgian movement was marking time precisely because of the predominance of Proudhonism, whose leaders were opposed to collectivism and repudiated independent proletarian political action. Only in 1879 was a “Belgian Socialist Party” formed; and only from that time onwards was the campaign for universal suffrage conducted, marking the victory of Marxism over Proudhonism (the recognition of the political struggle of the proletariat organised in an independent class party) and the beginning of the pronounced successes of the movement. In its present programme the “Belgian Labour Party” has adopted all the fundamental ideas of Marxism (apart from certain minor points). In 1887, in a preface to the second edition of his articles on the housing question, Engels laid special emphasis on the “gigantic progress the international working-class movement has made during the past fourteen years”. This progress, he writes, is largely due to the elimination of Proudhonism, which predominated at that time and which now has been almost forgotten. “In Belgium,” Engels observes, “the Flemings have ousted the Walloons from the leadership of the movement, deposed [abgesetzt] Proudhonism, and greatly raised the level of the movement” (preface, p. 4. of the same pamphlet).[18] Russkoye Bogatstvo’s description of the facts is a veritable paragon of fidelity!

When Voroshilov ... but enough! Of course, we cannot hope to keep up with this legally published magazine, which is able with impunity, month after month, to give vent to a flood of falsehood about “orthodox” Marxism.


[1] Mr. V. Chernov translates it (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 4, p.132): "on production which has achieved a high state of development”. That is how he contrived to “understand” the German expression “auf grosser Stufenleiter”!! —Lenin

[2] “Two Critics of My Agrarian Question.”—Ed.

[3] Kautsky’s expression; p. 472 of Neue Zeit. (E tutti quanti— and all others of their stripe.—Ed.) —Lenin

[4] Mr. Bulgakov resorted to this argument against Kautsky with regard to the question of mortgages, in Nachalo, and in German, in Braun’s Archiv. —Lenin

[5] See Kautsky’s article “Tolstoi und Brentano” in Neue Zeit, XIX, 2, 1900-01, No. 27. Kautsky compares modern scientific socialism with the doctrines of Lev Toistoi, who has always been a pro found observer and critic of the bourgeois system, notwithstanding the reactionary naiveté of his theory, and bourgeois economics, whose “star”, Brentano (the teacher, as we know, of Messrs. Struve, Bulgakov, Hertz, e tutti quanti), betrays the most incredible muddle-headedness in confounding natural with social phenomena, in confounding the concept of productivity with that of profitability, the concept   of value with that of price, etc. “This is not so characteristic of Brentano personally,” Kautsky says justly (p. 25), “as of the school to which be belongs. The historical school of bourgeois economics, in its modern form, regards the striving towards an integral conception of the social mechanism as being a superseded standpoint [überwundener Standpunkt]. According to this view, economic science must not investigate social laws and combine them into an integral system, but must confine itself to the formal description of separate social facts of the past and the present. Thus, it accustoms one to swim merely on the surface of things; and when a representative of this school, nevertheless, succumbs to the temptation to get to the bottom of things, he finds himself out of his depth and flounders helplessly round and round. In our party, too, there has been observed for some time a tendency to substitute for the Marxist theory, not some other theory, but that absence of all theory [Theorielosigkeit] which distinguishes the historical school—a tendency to degrade the theoretician to the position of a mere reporter. To those who desire, not simply an aimless skipping [Fortwurschteln] from instance to in stance, but an integral, energetic movement forward towards a great goal, the Brentano confusion which we have exposed must serve as a warning against the present methods of the historical school.” —Lenin

[6] The proposal to construct such a road between Manchester and Liverpool was rejected by Parliament only because of the selfish opposition of the big railway magnates, who feared that the old companies would be ruined. —Lenin

[7] “It goes without saying,” continues Kautsky, “that artificial fertilisers will not disappear with the fall of capitalism; but they will enrich the soil with special materials and not fulfil the whole task of restoring its fertility.” —Lenin

[8] “From nothing through nothing to nothing.”—Ed.

[9] See the pamphlet Zur Wohnungsfrage, Zurich, 1887, in which Engels’ articles against Mülberger, written in 1872, are reproduced together with his introduction dated January 10, 1887. The passage quoted will be found on p. 56.[19]Lenin

[10] The Exceptional Law Against the Socialists was promulgated in Germany in 1878. Under this law all organisations of the Social-Democratic   Party, all workers’ mass organisations, and the working-class press were prohibited, socialist literature was confiscated, and the banishment of Social-Democrats was begun. The law was annulled in 1890 under pressure of the mass working-class movement.

[11] Vorwärts (Forward)—the central organ of German Social-Democracy. It began publication in 1876, with Wilhelm Liebknecht as one of its editors. Frederick Engels conducted a struggle against all manifestations of opportunism in its columns. In the late nine ties, after Engels’ death, Vorwärts regularly published articles by the opportunists who dominated German Social-Democracy and the Second International.

[12] See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, “The Manifesto of the Communist Party”, Moscow, 1958, p. 38.

[13] See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, Moscow, 1958, p. 627.

[14] See Frederick Engels, Anti-Dühring, Moscow, 1959, pp. 394-411.

[15] N. —on, Nikolai—on—pseudonyms of N. F. Danielson, one of the ideologists of the liberal Narodniks in the eighties and nineties of the last century.

[16] Proudhonism—an unscientific trend in petty-bourgeois socialism, hostile to Marxism, so called after its ideologist, the French anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon. Proudhon criticised big capitalist property from the petty-bourgeois position and dreamed of perpetuating petty property ownership; he proposed the foundation of “people’s” and “exchange” banks, with the aid of which the workers would be able to acquire the means of production, become handicraftsmen, and ensure the “just” marketing of their wares. Proudhon did not understand the role and significance of the proletariat and displayed a negative attitude towards the class struggle, the proletarian revolution, and the dictatorship of the proletariat; as an anarchist he denied the necessity for the state.Marx and Engels struggled persistently against Proudhon’s efforts to impose his views on the First International. Proudhonism was subjected to a ruthless criticism in Marx’s Poverty of Philosophy. The determined struggle waged by Marx, Engels, and their supporters ended in the complete victory of Marxism over Proudhonism in the First International.

Lenin called Proudhonism the “dull thinking of a petty-bourgeois and a philistine” incapable of comprehending the viewpoint of the working class. The ideas of Proudhonism are widely utilised by bourgeois “theoreticians” in their class-collaboration propaganda.

[17] Der Volksstaat (The People’s State)—the central newspaper of the German Social-Democratic (Eisenacher) Party; published in   Leipzig from 1869 to 1876 under the editorship of Wilhelm Liebknecht. Marx and Engels contributed to the paper.

[19] See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 613

[18] Lenin quotes here Frederick Engels’ Preface to the second edition of his The Housing Question (see Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 548).

  Machinery in Agriculture | “The Prosperity of Advanced, Modern Small Farms”. The Baden Example[10101010 10101010]  

Works Index   |   Volume 5 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index
< backward   forward >