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.

Lies Spread by L. Martov Through the Columns of the Bourgeois Press

The bourgeois Cadet newspaper Tovarishch of October 12 (No. 85) reprints without comment the following passage from another Cadet paper Novy Put: “We [Novy Put] cannot but admit that in insisting on a permanent bloc with the extreme Lefts (as we learn from Mr. Martov’s letter) they [the Bolsheviks] are more logical than Mr. Martov.”

Thus, Novy Put refers directly to L. Martov in confirmation of its false report about the Bolsheviks.

It is necessary to establish the facts.

In No. I of the “Bolshevik” Proletary the following was said in an article entitled “The Boycott” (p. 3). “We shall convene the Fifth Party Congress; there we shall resolve that in the event of elections taking place, it will be necessary to enter into an electoral agreement, for a few weeks, with the Trudoviks (unless the Fifth Party Congress is convened it will be impossible to conduct a united election campaign; and ’blocs with other parties’ are absolutely prohibited by the decision of the Fourth Congress). And then we shall utterly rout the Cadets.”[1]   This is all, to our knowledge, that has been said so far in Social-Democratic literature on the attitude of the Bolsheviks to electoral agreements. Clearly, Novy Put has been misled by L. Martov. Firstly, far from insisting on such a thing, the Bolsheviks have never even mentioned “a permanent bloc with the extreme Lefts”. Secondly, as regards all “blocs” whatsoever, the Bolsheviks have demanded that the existing decision be revised at the next Congress. This fact is wrongfully suppressed by those who dread the next Congress of the Social-Democratic Labour Party. And it is also wrongfully suppressed by the bourgeois newspapers, which falsely report to their readers, or create the false impression, that the Social-Democrats do not formally prohibit all blocs.

Thirdly: L. Martov, writing for the bourgeois newspapers, deliberately, or through inadvertence or ignorance, conveys to the public, through the medium of the Cadet paper Tovarishch, the idea that the Bolsheviks sanction electoral agreements at the lowest stage of the election too, i.e., in conducting agitation among the masses, whereas he, L. Martov, regards as expedient only “partial agreements at the highest stages of our multi-stage electoral system”.

L. Martov has no facts to support this assertion. L. Martov is spreading a lie through the columns of the bourgeois press, for the Bolsheviks proposed an agreement only for the highest stages, only with the Trudoviks, only for a few weeks and only with the consent of the Fifth Congress.

To spread this lie, which can easily reach the masses in view of the notorious tendency of Cadet newspapers to sympathise with the Mensheviks and sympathetically reprint any slander they choose to utter against the Bolsheviks, L. Martov used an “abbreviated” version of the views of Proletary. Although these views are fully expressed in the space of the five printed lines quoted in full above, L. Martov found it necessary, none the less, to abbreviate them and, moreover, render them in his own words. The reader will see that Martov’s abridged version is tantamount to a sheer distortion.

In the five lines in Proletary the subject is mentioned in passing. No specific reference is made there to either the   highest or lowest stages of the elections. It may be objected, therefore, that I, too, have no grounds for asserting that these five lines do not refer to agreements at the first stage. But such an objection can be made only by one who desires to quibble over a word and to distort the obvious meaning of someone’s argument.

Undoubtedly, a five-line statement of the question leaves many gaps; but does the general trend of the article, and its whole content, warrant a wider rather than narrower interpretation of the omissions (as regards agreements)?

In any case, even the “letter” of the quotation (unless “abbreviated” à la Martov) is undoubtedly opposed to a wider interpretation, because anyone with the slightest experience of elections will understand that an agreement at the first stage cannot be limited to “a few weeks” but must necessarily be for months. Suffice it to say that already, in St. Petersburg, the parties are being mentioned which are seeking an election bloc with the Cadets; and already the approximate distribution of Duma seats for the city of St. Peters burg between the Cadets and these parties is reported. It is said that the elections will probably take place on December 17. Two months before that date, the people who really desire first-stage agreements are already beginning to come to terms, directly or through intermediaries. Take into account also the duration of the actual elections, add the time necessary for a party decision on this question, the time necessary for sending party directives from the centre to every part of Russia—and you will see that agreements between parties for the first stage of the elections will take months, while a “few weeks” will only just suffice for a final-stage argeement, i.e., the distribution of seats after the contest, based on a calculation of the forces revealed by the direct vote of the electors.

Finally, Since I have been compelled to make a statement in the press on this question, I think it would be improper to refrain from stating my own personal opinion. In the present political situation I would advocate the following at the Fifth Congress: no blocs or agreements whatever between the Social-Democrats and any other parties to be tolerated at the lowest stage of the elections. We must appear   before the masses at election time absolutely independently. At the highest stages agreements with the Trudoviks may be permitted exclusively for the proportional distribution of seats and on the condition that we “make” the non-party Trudoviks party men, counterposing the opportunists among them and the semi-Cadets (Popular Socialists, “Popular Socialist Party”, etc.) to the revolutionary bourgeois democrats.


[1] See p. 145 of this volume.—Ed.

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