V. I.   Lenin

Material for the Preparation of the Programme of the R.S.D.L.P.


Additional Remarks On the Committee’s Draft Programme

Besides my remarks written on the draft itself, I should like to note the following:

§ 3. “Society (bourgeois) is characterised by the domination of commodity production under capitalist production relations, i.e." ... then follows a description of the basic features of capitalism. The result is an incongruity: the “i.e." connects dissimilar, unequal concepts, namely, 1) the modification of commodity production in a form conditioned by the domination of capitalist production relations, and 2) the sale of products on the market and the sale of their labour-power by the masses of the population.

This incongruity, this equating of the b a s i c and most general features of commodity production in general and of capitalism in general—and the modifications of commodity production on the basis of capitalist production relations (then commodities are no longer exchanged simply according to value)—clearly shows how poor G. V. Plekhanov’s formulation is (and yet the committee adopted this formulation, merely rephrasing it). In a programme that presents only the most general and basic features of capitalism and does not set forth even the theory of surplus-value, we suddenly “nod” to Böhm-Bawerk by calling to mind that “commodity production on the basis of capitalism” is not quite the same as simple commodity production! If so, then why not add to the programme special references to Mikhailovsky, Berdayev, and the like? On the one hand, only one very general socialist expression is used to cover even all of Marx’s teachings about the exploitation of labour by capital: “create by their labour the latter’s income” (end of § 3)—and   on the other hand, note is made of the specific transformation of surplus-value into profit under “commodity production on the basis of capitalist production relations.”

G. V. Plekhanov is quite right when he states that the words “commodity production on the basis of capitalist production relations” express the fundamental idea of Volume III.[1] But that is all. There is no point in including this idea in the programme—just as there is no point in describing in the programme the mechanism of realisation, which is the fundamental idea of Volume II, or in describing the conversion of excess profit into ground rent. In the programme it is sufficient to n o t e the exploitation of labour by capital=the creation of surplus-value, whereas to speak of every kind of transformation and modification of the forms of this surplus-value is out of place (and impossible in a few short propositions).

Addition Concerning the Class Struggle

I fully share V. Zasulich’s opinion that in our country it is possible to attract a much larger proportion of small producers into the ranks of Social-Democracy and much more rapidly (than in the West), that to achieve this we must do a l l in our power, and that this “wish” should be expressed in the programme “against” the Martynovs and Co. I am in full agreement with all this. I w e l c o m e the addition that has been made at the end of § 10—I emphasise this to avoid any misunderstanding.

However, there is no need to go to the other extreme, as V. Zasulich does! A “wish” should not be confused with reality, and with immanently necessary reality at that, to which alone our Prinzipienerklärung[A declaration of principles.—Ed.] is devoted. It would be desirable to attract a a l l the small producers—naturally. But we know that they constitute a special class, even if bound to the proletariat by a thousand ties and intermediate grades, but nevertheless a special class.

In the first place it is essential to draw a line of demarcation between ourselves and all others, to single out the proletariat alone and e x c l u s i v e l y, and only then declare   that the proletariat will emancipate all, that it calls on all, Invites all.

I agree to this “then,” but I demand that this “in the first place” should come first!

Here in Russia the monstrous sufferings of the “working and exploited masses” did not rouse any popular movement until a “handful” of factory workers began the struggle, the class struggle. And o n l y this “handful” guarantees the conduct, continuation, and extension of this struggle. It is in Russia, where the critics (Bulgakov) accuse the Social-Democrats of “peasantophobia”, and the Socialist-Revolutionaries[2] shout of the need for r e p l a c i n g the concept of the class struggle by the concept of “the struggle of a l l the working and exploited” (Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsit, No. 2[3])–it is in Russia that we must, in the first place, draw a line of demarcation between ourselves and all this riffraff, by means of the most clear-cut definition of the class struggle alone of the proletariat a l o n e—and only then declare that we call on all, that we shall undertake everything, take everything, extend to include everything. But the committee “extends,” while forgetting to draw a line of demarcation!! And I am accused of being narrow-minded be cause I demand that this extension be preceded by “demarcation”?! But that is trickery, gentlemen!!

The struggle inevitably facing us tomorrow against the combined forces of the critics±the more Leftist gentlemen of Russkiye Vedomosti and Russkoye Bogatstvo[4]+the Socialist-Revolutionaries will most imperatively demand of us that very demarcation between the class struggle of the proletariat and the “struggle” (is it a struggle?) “of the working and exploited masses.” Phrase-mongering about these masses is a trump card in the hands of all the unsicheren Kantonisten,[Unreliable cantonists. In this context—“unreliable allies.”—Ed. ] and the committee is playing into their hands and depriving us of a weapon for the struggle against half-heartedness, in order to emphasise one half! But do not for get the other half!

Written April 1902



[1] This refers to the third volume of Karl Marx’s Capital. Below is a reference to the second volume of Capital.

[2] Socialist-Revolutionaries (S. R .s)—a petty-bourgeois party in Russia, which arose at the end of 1901 and beginning of 1902 as a result of the union of Narodnik groups and circles. The newspaper Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (Revolutionary Russia) (1900-05) and the magazine Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii (Herald of the Russian Revolution) (1901-05) became its official organs. The views   of the Socialist-Revolutionaries were an eclectic mixture of the ideas of Narodism and revisionism; they tried, as Lenin put it, to mend “the rents of Narodism with the patches of fashionable opportunist ’criticism’ of Marxism” (see present edition, Vol. 9, “Socialism and the Peasantry”). The Socialist-Revolutionaries did not see the class distinctions between proletariat and peasantry, glossed over the class differentiation and contradictions within the peasantry, and rejected the proletariat’s leading role in the revolution. The tactic of individual terrorism which the Socialist-Revolutionaries advocated as a basic method of struggle against the autocracy caused great detriment to the revolutionary movement and made it difficult to organise the masses for the revolutionary struggle.

The agrarian programme of the Socialist-Revolutionaries en visaged the abolition of private ownership of the land and its transfer to the village communes on the basis of equalitarian tenure, and also the development of all forms of co-operatives. There was nothing socialist In this programme, which the Socialist-Revolutionaries tried to present as a programme for “socialising the land ," since abolition of private ownership of the land, as Lenin pointed out, cannot of itself abolish the domination of capital and the poverty of the masses. The struggle for the abolition of landlord ownership was the real, historically progressive content of the agrarian programme of the Socialist-Revolutionaries. This demand objectively expressed the interests and aspirations of the peasantry at the stage of the bourgeois-democratic revolution.

The Bolshevik Party exposed the attempts of the Socialist-Revolutionaries to camouflage themselves as socialists, waged a stubborn struggle against the Socialist-Revolutionaries to gain influence over the peasantry, and laid bare the harmful consequences for the working-class movement of their tactic of individual terrorism. At the same time, on definite conditions, the Bolsheviks concluded temporary agreements with the Socialist-Revolutionaries in the struggle against tsarism.

In the final analysis, the absence of class homogeneousness in the peasantry was responsible for the political and ideological instability and organisational confusion in the Socialist-Revolutionary party, and their constant vacillation between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat. There was a split in the Socialist-Revolutionary Party already in the years of the first Russian revolution: its Right wing formed the legal Labour Popular-Socialist Party, which held views close to those of the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets); the “Left” wing took shape as the semi-anarchist league of “Maximalists.” During the Stolypin reaction, the Socialist-Revolutionary party experienced a complete ideological and organisational break-down, and the First World War saw most Socialist-Revolutionaries adopt the standpoint of social-chauvinism.

After the victory of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1917, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, together with the Mensheviks and Cadets, were the mainstay of the counter-revolutionary bourgeois-landlord Provisional Government, of which leaders   of the party (Kerensky, Avxentyev, Chernov) were members. Influenced by the revolutionising of the peasantry,· the “Left” wing of the Socialist-Revolutionaries founded an independent party of Left Socialist-Revolutionaries at the end of November 1917. Striving to maintain their influence among the peasant masses, the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries formally recognised Soviet power and entered into an agreement with the Bolsheviks, but soon began a struggle against Soviet power. During the years of foreign military intervention and civil war, the Socialist-Revolutionaries carried on counter-revolutionary subversive activity, strongly supported the interventionists and whiteguard generals, took part in counter-revolutionary plots, and organised terrorist acts against leaders of the Soviet state and the Communist Party. After the civil war, the Socialist-Revolutionaries continued their hostile activity against the Soviet state within the country and abroad among whiteguard émigrés.

[3] Vestnik Russkot Revolutsii. Sotsialno-Politicheskoye Obozreniye (Herald of the Russian Revolution. Socio-Political Review)—an illegal magazine published abroad (Paris-Geneva) in 1901-05; four numbers were issued. Beginning with No. 2 it became the theoretical organ of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party. Among contributors to the periodical were M. R. Gots (A. Levitsky), I. A. Rubanovich, V. M. Chernov (Y. Gardenin), Y. K. Breshko-Breshkovskaya.

[4] Russkoye Bogatstvo (Russian Wealth) —a monthly magazine published in St. Petersburg from 1876 to 1918. In the early nineties it passed into the hands of the liberal Narodniks headed by N. K. Mikhailovsky, and became the chief Narodnik organ. As such, in 1893, it began a campaign against the Russian Social-Democrats. In its distortion and falsification of Marxism, Russkoye Bogalsivo relied on the West-European revisionists; grouped round it were publicists who subsequently became prominent members of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, the “Popular Socialists” and the Trudovik (Labour) groups in the State Dumas.

From 1906 Russkoye Bogatstvo became the organ of the semi-Cadet party of “Popular Socialists.” The magazine changed its title several times: Sovremenniye Zapiski (Contemporary Notes), Sovremennost (Modern Times), Russktye Zapiski (Russian Notes); from April 1917 it again became Russkoye Bogatstvo.

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