V. I.   Lenin

Martov’s and Cherevanin’s Pronouncements in the Bourgeois Press

Telling How Certain Social-Democrats Resort to Bourgeois, Cadet Newspapers, Like Tovarishch, and, Through Tovarishch, to the Novy Put, in Order to Spread False Reports About Revolutionary Social-Democracy. Refutation. Estimation. Conclusions.

Social-Democrats and Bourgeois Newspapers

Is it permissible for a Social-Democrat to contribute to bourgeois newspapers?

Certainly riot. Theoretical considerations, political etiquette and the practice of the European Social-Democrats are all against it. As is well known, this question came up for discussion at a recent congress of the German Social Democrats.[2] We know that our German comrades severely condemn the idea of Social-Democrats contributing to the bourgeois press and resolutely fight for the principle that the party of the revolutionary proletariat shall tolerate no blocs or agreements in this field either, but maintain its independence; that journalist members of the workers’ party should be organised and controlled, not only in name but in deed; in ether words, should be party men in the strict sense of the term.

Have we any right to depart from these rules here in Russia?

Some might retort: there is an exception to every rule. That is quite true. It would be wrong to condemn a person in banishment for writing to any newspaper. It is some times hard to condemn a Social-Democrat who is working in a minor department of a bourgeois newspaper to earn a living. One can justify the publication of an urgent and business-like refutation, etc., etc..

But see what will happen here. Under the pretext of refuting “misunderstandings” caused by the Social-Democratic “Nashe Dyelo”, L. Martov writes almost two columns in a Cadet newspaper, calmly expounding the views of some Social-Democrats, arguing against other Social-Democrats and misrepresenting the views of Social-Democrats he disagrees with, without caring in the least what pleasure his literary “bloc” with the Cadets gives to all the enemies of the proletariat. The Cadet newspapers seize on L. Martov’s article in the Cadet press, give it wide publicity, add a thing or two of their own to the lie which he has put into circulation about the revolutionary Social-Democrats, pat him on the back (see Rech), and so on and so forth. Cherevanin is tempted. If Martov could write to Tovarishch to refute Cherevanin’s “misunderstandings” and bring in thousands of other things   at the same time, why should not Cherevanin also write to Tovarishch to refute L. Martov’s “misunderstandings”? And, while he is about it, why not take advantage of the opportunity to start in the Cadet press (after all, it would be improper to do so in the Social-Democratic press!) a discussion on the question whether socialists should vote for bourgeois candidates even without an agreement?[1]

And so a special feature has been inaugurated in Cadet newspapers: a family-literary correspondence between Social-Democratic opportunists. Since its subject is the permissibility of blocs with the Cadets, and even of voting for the Cadets, the Cadets readily give shelter to the homeless “progressive” Social-Democrats who are departing from the “conservative” rules of revolutionary Social—Democracy.

The Menshevik literary bigwigs dwell in two abodes. In the respectable quarter they talk to fine gentlemen about blocs with the Cadets and incidentally retail anecdotes about the revolutionary Social-Democrats. In the grimy quarter, in some workers’ newspaper or Social-Democratic periodical, or a leaflet, they offer the workers a “non-party labour congress” and enlighten them on the absurdity and folly of fighting for a constituent assembly. Let the workers be patient and wait a little: when the Social-Democratic discussion in the Cadet Tovarishch on blocs between socialists and the bourgeoisie comes to an end, the workers, too, will learn something.... And so, following the homely rule of one of Turgenev’s characters,[3] our advocates of a labour congress write letter after letter to Tovarishch, murmuring the while: our Party is a party of the intelligentsia....

Will not the Social-Democratic workers intervene to put a stop to this outrage? Is it a matter of indifference to the members of our Party?


[1] F. Dan has migrated to Tovarishch even without the object of refuting “misunderstandings”, but merely for company’s sake.—Lenin

[2] V. I. Lenin has in mind the Dresden Congress of the German Social-Democratic Party held September 13-20, 1906. The Congress adopted a resolution prohibiting party members from contributing to the bourgeois press.

[3] This refers to Turgenev’s poem A Rule of Life (from the cycle Poems in Prose), whose character ascribes his own shortcomings to his opponent.

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