V. I.   Lenin

The Events of the Day

Published: Proletary, No. 1, August 21, 1906. Published according to the Proletary text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 11, pages 167-169.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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“Bloody Day” in Warsaw and other towns of Poland,[2] the attempt on the life of Stolypin and the assassination of Min[3] have all roused universal interest in the question of “guerrilla actions”—we use the term which has become current among Party members and legitimised by the resolution of the Unity Congress.

The editorial board proposes to publish in the near future an article, or series of articles, dealing as comprehensively as possible with this extremely important question.[1] In the meantime, so as not to leave our readers in ignorance of our views, we shall make the following brief remarks, which in subsequent articles will be developed in detail and more precisely formulated.

First remark. Going to extremes is always bad, and there can be no doubt in the mind of any socialist that the sentiments of the masses must be taken into account when organising guerrilla actions. Therefore, we think that it is absolutely necessary to take into account the opinion of the Bund (evidently in agreement with the Polish Social-Democrats), which is familiar with the conditions of work in Warsaw and the sentiments of the masses in that city, namely, the opinion that the Polish Socialist Party “went too far”. Whether it did so or not is a question of fact which we are not competent to decide. It is never advisable to go too far, but it would be wrong to conclude that because there have been individual cases of “going to extremes” a certain form of struggle is no good.

On the whole, we consider that the intensification of guerrilla warfare in Russia after the dissolution of the Duma is a gain. A ruthless guerrilla war of extermination against the government’s perpetrators of violence appears to us to be timely and expedient.

Second remark. The Central Committee of our Party is certainly mistaken, and seriously mistaken, when it says in its footnote to the fourth “letter” (to the Party organisations): “it goes without saying that the Party, as heretofore, repudiates so-called ’guerrilla’ militant actions.”

This is incorrect. We abide by the decisions of the Congress, but under no circumstances shall we submit to decisions of the Central Committee which violate the decisions of the Congress. Anyone who takes the trouble to examine carefully the resolution of the Unity Congress entitled: “On Guerrilla Actions” will see without any difficulty that our Party repudiates one form of guerrilla action, recognises another, and recommends a third.

It entirely repudiates the expropriation of private property. It does not repudiate the expropriation of government funds, but hedges it round with particularly strict conditions (“if organs of revolutionary power are formed in the given locality”, etc.).

Further, the resolution of the Congress recognises guerrilla actions without expropriation of property, i.e., recognises “terror”, recognises guerrilla actions for the purpose of killing the enemy. This recognition is clearly and unambiguously expressed in the very first words of the resolution, following the preamble:

“The Congress resolves: (1) recognising that parallel with [our italics throughout] the preparation of the revolutionary forces for the coming uprising, the basis of which is the organisation of the masses of the working class, an active struggle against government terror and the violence of the Black Hundreds will be inevitable, it is necessary...” (then follows the prohibition of stealing, the expropriation of private funds, etc.).

Our excerpt from the decision of the Congress is perfectly clear. “Parallel with” work among the masses it recognises “active struggle” against the perpetrators of violence, which   undoubtedly means killing them by means of “guerrilla actions”.

The only restrictions that the resolution places on this second form of guerrilla action (the killing of perpetrators of violence) are the following: “to avoid the violation of the personal property of peaceful citizens except [listen!] in those cases when it is an unintentional result of the struggle against the government or when, as for instance in building barricades, it is called for by the exigencies of the immediate struggle.”

Thus, when the immediate struggle requires it, the violation of private property is permissible, e.g., the seizure of vehicles, etc., for barricades. When there is no immediate struggle, the Congress instructs us to avoid disturbing the personal safety of “peaceful” citizens; but the Congress at once points to an exception: it does not blame participants in guerrilla actions for “unintentional” disturbance of personal safety resulting from the struggle against the government.

Lastly, the Congress definitely recommends to the Party a certain form of guerrilla action, by resolving without qualifications or restrictions that: “arms and military supplies that belong to the government must be seized whenever an opportunity presents itself.”

For instance: policemen carry arms that belong to the government. “The opportunity presents itself....”

Third remark. We advise all the numerous fighting groups of our Party to cease their inactivity and undertake a number of guerrilla actions in strict conformity with the decision of the Congress, i. e., without any expropriation of property, with the least possible “disturbance of the personal safety” of peaceful citizens, but with the utmost disturbance of the personal safety of spies, active members of the Black Hundreds, army, navy and police officers, and so on, and so forth. As for “arms” and “military supplies that belong to the government”, they “must be seized whenever an opportunity presents itself”.


[1] See pp. 213-23 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] The “bloody day” was August 2 (15), 1906, when attacks on the police were carried out in Warsaw, Lodz, Radom, Plotsk and other Polish towns. The action was organised by the Polish Socialist Party (P.P.S.) (see Lenin’s note on “The Guerrilla Action of the Polish Socialist Party” in this volume, p. 194).

[3] The attempt on the life of Stolypin was carried out by Socialist-Revolutionary Maximalists on August 12 (25), 1906.

General Min, who was in charge of the suppression of the December armed uprising in Moscow, was killed by a member of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party on August 13 (26), 1906.

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