V. I. Lenin

Plan for a Pamphlet Against the S.R.s{4}

Written: Written in the spring of 1903
Published: First published in 1939 in the magazine Proletarekaya Revolutsia No. 1. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 70.3-77.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

The war is on. It is just beginning. Literary polemics.

Why? Explain why war is inevitable.

Special attention should be devoted to theoretical differences involving principles.

  1. A) Middle-of-the-road and unprincipled stand between revolutionary Marxism and opportunist criticism.
    1. 1. Article in No. 2 of Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii (editorial). Its examination.
    2. 2. Theory of cataclysm. Q u o t e pp. 55–56=denial of the economic necessity of socialism. (Trusts forgotten.)
    3.   3. Agrarian question. Quote p. 57 (“even”).
    4. 4. Theory of value. Quote p. 64. “S h a k e n”! p. 66 (“even” once again!)
      {pp. 67 and 48=crisis of a l l socialism}
    5. 5. “V i o l e n t a n d e x c e p t i o n a l M a r x i s m i s b e c o m i n g a p a r t o f h i s t o r y” (75)!! NB
    6. 6. Zhitlovsky in “Sozialistische Monatshefte”....{5}
    7. 7. Current Issue. Praise of Hertz (note on p. 8).

      BOX: “New standpoint”=through co-operation to socialism.
      to B. 3.

    8. 8. Vestnik Jlusskoi Revolutsii No. 2, pp. 82 and 87. “Amendments”, “revision”, etc.{1}
    9. 9. Σ = total lack of principle. Anyone who wants to, can be a Socialist-Revolutionary.
    10. 10. Complete detachment from international socialism: “distinctive character”.
  2. B) Middle-of-the-road and unprincipled stand between Russian Marxism and the Narodnaya Volya trend, rather: the liberal-Narodnik trend.
    1. The new revolutionary movement goes hand in hand with a struggle between the old theory and the new. Relics of Russian socialism (liberal-Narodnik trend) and Russian Marxism. What is the attitude of the Socialist-Revolutionaries? The Eve of Revolution is typical. (Total incomprehension of the importance of theoretical discussions.) Degeneration of the old Russian socialism into a liberal-Narodnik trend.
    2. “Labour economy” (S.R. theory) (from Revolutsionnaya   Rossiya{6} No. 11, p. 7). Vulgar socialism + Narodism.
    [Cf. Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii No. 2, pp. 100–10: class struggle=struggle of all the oppressed!!]
    | | | |
    3. Progressive and negative aspects of capitalism. Revolutsionnaya Rossiya No. 9, p. 4. Contra:
    Progressive significance of migration and vagabondage: No. 8, p. 8, column 2{7}
    [BOX:] Special sheet, bottom of p. 2
    Cf. Current Issue (p. 8): “New standpoint”: “Through co-operation to socialism”. Cf. A 7. From German statis- tics: co-operation=prevalence of the bour- geoisie.
    4. Σ=purely eclectic combination of Narodism and Marxism with the aid of “criticism”.
  3. C) Middle-of-the-road attitude to the class struggle and the working-class movement.
    1. 1. From the theoretical errors of their stand they pass on to practical ones. Their attitude to the class struggle and the working-class movement. What is their approach?
    2. 2. Quotation from Vestrdk Russkoi Revolutsii No. 2, p. 224. Party and class. Confusion, which means only one thing: moving away from the proletariat’s class struggle and throwing open the door to an intelligentsia that is absolutely uncommitted and unstable.
    3. 3. Intelligentsia + proletariat + peasantry (No. 8, p. 6, column 2) (against “narrow” orthodoxy). Meaning=total denial of the class struggle. Confusion of different strata. Lumping together of intelligentsia’s social reformism and a revolutionarism which is   merely democratic—and proletarian socialism—and crude peasant demands.
    4. 4. Intelligentsia and proletariat. And the Narodnaya Volya followers as well!!! Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii No. 3—pp. 9–11. S p e c i a l s h e e t.
    5. 5. Their attitude in practice? Illustrated by Economism.{8} Iskra: long process of work, persuasion, education. Iskra’s shedding of illusions about unity. Cf.: Gloating
      + Putting spokes in revolutionary Marxism’s wheels.
      Σ = dilettante on the sidelines.
    6. 6. How they explain their distinction from the Social-Democrats? No. 9, p. 4, column 2.
      { The point is not that “they want to be”, but that the w o r k i n g - c l a s s m o v e m e n t is there.
      Labour in general is an absurdity.
      { Failure to make a distinction between hired and independent labour=vulgarisation of socialism by petty-bourgeois element and total obliteration of division from the Narodniks.
      “A purely ideological representative” of a principle. No principle at all!
  4. D) Regardless of their wilt, they are leading the working class towards subordination to bourgeois democracy.
    1. 1. We have examined the theoreticaistand of the S.R.s and their attitude to the working-class movement.
      Σ = middle-of-the-road stand, eclecticism.
      Their attitude to Russian bourgeois democracy.
    2. 2. There is none! Vestnik
      Russkoi Revolutsii No. 2, Cf. “Modern Vestal p. 132!! The S.R.s already Virgin”.{9}
      noticed this during the war
      against the Economists.
    3. 3. What about Mr. Struve? What about the liberal Narodnik trend? That’s to whom they give in!!! It means that they give in to bourgeois democracy, failing to explain to the workers the class antitheses, and failing to work out an independent socialist ideology.
    4.   4. What means intelligentsia + proletariat + peasantry? In practice, the intelligentsia and the peasantry constitute nothing more than bourgeois democracy!!
    5. 5. What about their attitude to the liberals? Have another look at the + and - of capitalism formula (No. 9, p. 4).

      There is no class under lying the liberals (No. 9, p. 4).

      There is much more of it than you have!

      Our fight against the liberals is much more acute than yours is.

      Curious fact: they took the liberals at their word!! No. 9, pp. 3–4. (V. V.’s variants)

      We are engaged in a w a r and not in verbose reasoning: on the one hand, on the other hand.

      But we realise that the liberals represent a class, that they are resilient, and they have a s o c i a l, p o p u l a r movement, which the S.R.s have not!!

    6. 6. L.M. in Zarya (No. 2–3) was right: the S.R.s have a twofold name because their socialism is not at all revolutionary and their revolutionism has nothing in common with socialism. That is what leads to their defeats by bourgeois democracy.
      That is the end of the principled criticism of the whole S.R. stand. Let us note that we reject the whole of their stand and not merely their errors in the (agrarian) programme, not merely their errors in tactics (terrorism). Warning against petty-bourgeois socialism, revolutionarism and vacillation.
  5. E) A g r a r i a n q u e s t i o n.
    1. 1.
      Primitive vulgar socialism. Credulity. No analysis of the movement. Failure to understand the struggle against the remnants   of serfdom (No. 8, p. 4: the 1861 reforms have given scope to capitalism!!). NB Unreadiness of Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii against Iskra. Current Issue (Hertz). Revolutsionnaya Rossiya No. 4, February, bottom of p. 2: Polemics on the = muzhik,1) and No. 8 (J u n e): call by the Peasant Union, etc. Indeed you are less prepared than the Social-Democrats!
      2. The peasantry’s “equalitarian principle”, etc., is merely labouring under a delusion of democratic demands. There is nothing socialist in it. You must tell the truth instead of stooping to demagogy.

      1) The modern countryside can support and intensify the pressure on the government “and can probably do it more vigorously than we think, cut off as we have absolutely been in most cases from the muzhik for several years now because of government spying and oppression”. Revolutsionnaya Rossiya No. 4 (February 1902), p. 2.
    2. 3. “Socialisation of the land.” Bourgeois nationalisa tion? (What about its significance in a class state?) “Socialisation of the land” is an empty promise (minimum!).
      After all this = de facto “t h e p e o p l e a r e p r e p a r e d f o r r e v o l u t i o n” of the Narodnaya Volya.
    3. 4. Co-operation (instead of the class struggle!) is a purely (bourgeois-) petty-bourgeois demand.
    4. 5. For the commune. Against free disposal.
    5. 6. Narodnoye Dyelo{10} No. 2, pp. 18–19. How is the peasants’ and workers’ struggle to be united? Narodnoye Dyelo No. 2, p. 51: “in the common popular spirit”. Unprintable.
      Narodnoge Dyelo No. 2, p. 63: “there should be duping wherever and whenever possible"!! Examples of duping: Revolu- tsionnaya Rossiya No. 11, p. 6: have a snack and a drink of blood, pettifoggers and so on and so forth.
  6.   F) Terrorism.
    1. 1. Polemics over Balmashev. Unexampled,
      But isn’t the criticism of the Germans unexampled?
      (( First you breed dissatisfaction and then you yourself suggest that it should be voiced!! ))
    2. 2. Polemics over the April 3 proclamation. Quote (No. 11, bottom of p. 25){11}^ and a fiction deduced.
    3. 3. “VperyodNo. 5. Quote, No. 5, pp. 7–8.
      [BOX:] by the way, p. 9{12}
    4. 4.
      Terrorism. Quote from No. 7 (idem as in the April 3 proclamation: it is not words we attach importance to). No. 7, p. 4: “Terrorism induces people to think politically.”
      —“surer than months of propaganda”
      —“will instil strength into the discouraged”.{13}
      The logic of terrorism: it is brought out into the forefront, then comes the rest. Proof: back in F e b r u a r y 1902 it was not a fighting organisation that Revoluisionnaga Rossiya (No. 4) brought out into the forefront. See reverse (α).{2}
    5. 5.
      “Not instead, but together.” In practice there is no connection with the masses.
      Scepticism, lack of steadfastness, 4 y e a r s (1897–1901), with the democratic period just beginning.
      || Terrorism is not dangerous because there is a mass movement. “Frame of mind.” Succumb to it?
      See reverse (β).{3}
      Distraction from immediate pressing tasks.
      Leaders lagging behind the mass.
      No. 12, column 1 on p. 3 (“theory of stages”). Ibid.: there should be no breaking into prisons.{14}

        (α) “All the aspects of the revolutionary technique, methods of street fighting against the troops, execution of the most | hated servants of the tsar (my italics), etc., retreat into the background before the most mature, most immediate and pressing problem: the establishment of a central revolutionary organisation” (Revolutsionnaya Rossiga, 1902, No. 4, February, p. 3). { What is the posi- tion today?

      (β) “...While the scribes waged a paper struggle...” (whether it is right to attach merely an exciting or also a | deterrent significance to terrorism) “...life brought out into the forefront such a need of terroristic means that in face of it all earlier objections had to cease. Terroristic acts became necessary as a means of self-defence...” Revolutsionnaya Rossiya No. 7, p. 2 (June 1902).

  7. G) C o n c l u s i o n.
    Tasks of contemporary revolutionaries:
    1. (α) Theoretical defence and development of revolutionary Marxism.
    2. β) Utmost participation in international ideological struggle.
    3. δ) Development of Russian Marxism, its application; struggle against liberal-Narodnik trend, exposure before the working class of its bourgeois and petty-bourgeois character.
    4. γ) Organisation of the proletariat. Host of flaws. Insistent demands.
    5. ε) “A lot of people and a shortage of men.” Leaders must prepare the masses for an u p r i s i n g.


{1} MS. indicates that point 8 is to go before point 6.—Ed.

{2} The text marked (α) is on the reverse of the MS.—Ed.

{3} The text marked (β) is on the reverse of the MS.—Ed.

{4} The pamphlet was never written. p. 70

{5} Sozialistische Monatshefte (Socialist Monthly)—a magazine, the chief organ of the German opportunists and one of the organs of international opportunism. It was published in Berlin from 1897 to 1933. During the First World War (1914–18) it took a social-chauvinist stand. p. 71

{6} Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (Revolutionary Russia)—an illegal S.R. newspaper published in Russia from the end of 1900 by the Union of Socialist-Revolutionaries (No. 1, dated 1900, actually came out in January 1901). From January 1902 to December 1905 it was published in Geneva as the official organ of the S.R. Party. p. 72

{7} A reference to the programme appeal, “From the Peasant Union of the Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries to All the Workers of Revolutionary Socialism in Russia”, published in the newspaper Revolutsionnaya Rossiya No. 8 on June 25, 1902. There is another reference to the appeal in point 3 of section C. p. 72

{8} Economism—an opportunist trend within Russian Social-Democracy at the turn of the century, a Russian variety of inter national opportunism. The Economists’ organs were the newspaper Rabochaya Mysl (Workers’ Thought) (1897-1902) and the magazine Rabocheye Dyelo (Workers’ Cause) (1899-1902). The so-called Credo, written by Y. D. Kuskova in 1899, was the programme document of the Economists whom Lenin called Russian Bernsteinians.

The views of the Economists were subjected to comprehensive criticism in Lenin’s works: “A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats” (aimed against their Credo and written in 1899 when Lenin was exiled in Siberia; it was signed by seventeen exiled Marxists), “A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy”, “Apropos of the Profession de foi” (see present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 167–82, 255–85, 288–96) and “A Talk with Defenders of Economism” (see present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 313–20). Lenin completed the ideological defeat of Economism in his book What Is To Be Done? (see present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 347–529). Lenin’s Iskra played a great part in the struggle against Economism. p. 73

{9} A reference to A. N. Potresov’s article “Modern Vestal Virgin (From Sketches of Modern Journalism)”, signed “St.” and published in the magazine Zarya No. 2–3, December 1901. p. 73

{10} Narodnoye Dyelo (People’s Cause)—a popular organ of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party published in the form of collections (No. 1 was issued as a newspaper) in Geneva from 1902 to 1904; a total of five issues appeared. p. 75

{11} A reference to the article “Concerning Iskra’s Polemics”, which appeared in No. 11 of Revolutsionnaya Rossiya in September 1902. p. 76

{12} A reference to an article which had no title and was signed “S.R.” It appeared in a hectographed periodical Vperyod No. 5   on September 15, 1902, which was issued in St. Petersburg by Vperyod, a circle of Narodnik orientation. p. 76

{13} A quotation from “The Element of Terrorism in Our Programme”, an article carried by Revolutsionnaya Rossiya No. 7 in June 1902. p. 76

{14} A reference to the article “How Are We To Respond to the Government’s Brutalities?”, which appeared in Revolutsionnaya Rossiya No. 12 in October 1902. p. 76

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