V. I.   Lenin

Osvobozhdeniye-ists and New-Iskrists, Monarchists and Girondists

Published: Vperyod, No. 9, March 8 (February 23), 1905. Published according to the text in Vperyod.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 221-222.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Isidor Lasker
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Osvobozhdeniye, No. 66, published a review of Martynov’s pamphlet Two Dictatorships (approved and recommended by the editors of Iskra; see issue No. 84). As was to be expected, the liberal bourgeois does not conceal his sympathies with the opportunist wing of the Social-Democratic movement. Osvobozhdeniye regards Martynov’s pamphlet, “like the work of Mr. Akimov”, as “one of the most interesting contributions to Social-Democratic literature of the present day”. Gould a liberal have reacted in any other way to the preaching of tail-ism, which seeks to frighten the revolutionary class with the dire perspective of participation in the provisional government and the “revolutionary dictatorship” in a democratic revolution (which Martynov, in his fear of “Jacobinism” confounds with the socialist revolution!)? Is it merely a coincidence that Osvobozhdeniye, in the article “A Significant Turn”, welcomed Plekhanov’s ideas of making concessions to the revisionists? How is one to account for Osvobozhdeniye’s assertion (No. 57) that in fact, the Menshevists are now defending something more vital and essential than the Bolshevists”? Is it not because “the only hope for the ideological vitality of Russian liberalism lies in the vitality of Social-Democratic opportunism” (see our publication An Obliging Liberal[1] )? Was Mr. Struve right or wrong in contending that Trotsky’s pamphlet Our Political Tasks, published under the editorship of “Iskra” (see issue No. 72) “is perfectly right in defending certain   ideas with which readers of Social-Democratic literature have been familiar from the writings of Messrs. Akimov, Martynov, Krichevsky, and other so-called Economists” (Osvobozhdeniye, No. 57)? Had Martynov and Co. stopped to think of these questions, they might perhaps have been able to grasp the puzzling (how very, very puzzling!) ideas of the old Iskra about the similarity of the relations between the Jacobins and the Girondists, on the one hand, and between the revolutionary Social-Democrats and the opportunists, on the other. (This idea was first advanced, if we are not mistaken, in the leading article of Iskra, No. 2, written by Plekhanov.) Were the Girondists traitors to the cause of the Great French Revolution? They were not. But they were inconsistent, wavering, opportunist champions of that cause. That is why they were opposed by the Jacobins, who upheld the interests of the advanced class of the eighteenth century as consistently as the revolutionary Social-Democrats uphold the interests of the advanced class of the twentieth. That is why the downright betrayers of the cause of the great revolution, the monarchists, the clerical constitutionalists, etc., supported the Girondists and shielded them from the attacks of the Jacobins. Are you beginning to see light now, most honourable Girondist Martynov? Not yet? Well, we shall try to clarify the point further. Are the new-Iskrists traitors to the proletarian cause? No. But they are inconsistent, wavering, opportunist champions of the cause (and of the organisational and tactical principles illumining the cause). That is why their position is opposed by the revolutionary Social-Democrats (by some directly and overtly, by others covertly, behind the closed doors of their editorial offices, with devices and ruses). That is why the new-Iskrists are ideologically sup ported and shielded by the Osvobozhdeniye crowd—the down right betrayers of the proletarian cause. Are you beginning to see light now, most honourable Girondist Martynov?


[1] First published as a leaflet, Geneva, November 6, 1904. See present edition, Vol. 7, pp. 486-89.—Ed.

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