V. I.   Lenin

Postscript to the Article: “The Social-Democrats and the Election Campaign”

Published: Proletary, No. 7, November 10, 1906. Published according to the Proletary text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 11, pages 271-274.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The above-mentioned article was already written when G. V. Plekhanov’s “Open Letter to Class-Conscious Workers” appeared in the newspaper Tovarishch. In that letter Plekhanov, “manoeuvring” between the Left wing of the bourgeoisie and the Bight wing of the Social-Democrats, finally breaks both with the principles of international revolutionary Social-Democracy and with the decisions of the Unity Congress of our Party. The Party Congress formally forbade all blocs whatsoever with bourgeois parties. The class-conscious, organised proletarian at his Party meetings calls all blocs with the bourgeoisie “betrayal of the cause of the proletariat”; in his article in Tovarishch and in his letter to the Party organisations, L. Martov, adopting the Bolshevik, i.e., the consistent revolutionary standpoint, emphatically expresses his opposition to all blocs at the first stage of the elections. “On the first question [“blocs” or electoral pacts],” writes Martov, “I would recommend that we insist, in conformity with the resolution of the Congress, upon complete independence during our participation in the first stage of the elections, i.e., at the stage when we come before the masses.” Plekhanov regards this method of presenting the question as “misconceived hostility to compromise”. “Where we cannot be sure of the victory of our candidate,” writes Plekhanov, “it is our duty to enter into an agreement with other parties who wish to fight against our old regime.”[1] While thus sanctioning agreements   with bourgeois parties in spite of the decision of the Congress, Plekhanov, however, displays his “political sagacity” by foreseeing cases when we should not enter into such agreements. He writes: “Where there is no doubt that we shall succeed in getting our candidate elected[2] we can and must act independently of the other parties.” What a wonderful piece of “political sagacity”! Where we are sure of getting our candidate elected ourselves we must do it ourselves. Where we are not sure, we must apply for assistance ... to those “who wish to fight against the old regime”, or else he] p these “wishers” to get their candidate elected. And where those “who wish to fight” are sure of getting their candidates elected themselves, what do you think, 0 contributor to the Cadet press, Plekhanov, will they be so anxious to conclude an agreement with us? Indeed, if we are talking about agreements, every political infant is aware that they are required only in cases where a party is not sure of getting its candidates elected by its own unaided efforts. We, however, are opposed to all agreements even under such circumstances. But G. V. Plekhanov, like a true knight of freedom, sounds the tocsin in the Cadet Tovarishch and calls together all those “who wish to fight”.... Come, all ye “wishers”! The proletariat is fighting, you— “wish” to fight! Excellent.... If that is not enough for a proletarian, he must assuredly be an “enemy of freedom”.

Thus, the leader of the Mensheviks, the darling of the Cadets, forgetting all that he said after the dissolution of the Duma, is little by little, step by step, sinking to the level of ... Cherevanin.... With his usual “swiftness, dash and unerring eye” Plekhanov is rushing to the extreme right of our Right wing. Martov is left far behind; Sotsial-Demokrat can hardly keep pace with its ideological leader. And the organ of the Central Committee, after a long-winded argument about the class character of our election campaign, proposes an intricate system of agreements, building a ladder by which Social-Democrats should descend to the level of the Cadets. At first, suggests Sotsial-Demokrat, independent, i.e., class action where we have chances of success; where there are no chances of success, we must combine with   the bourgeois parties which “are striving with us for the convocation of a constituent assembly”; if these parties do not want the constituent assembly—so much the worse (this is the third, last, anti-class and anti-democratic step)— we shall combine with them nevertheless. How the Central Committee, which was elected by the Congress to carry out the decisions of the Congress, contrives to act in violation of these decisions is a secret known only to itself. The fact remains that at the present moment we are witnessing the very disgraceful (for Social-Democracy) spectacle of “the crab crawling backwards” and the “swan straining skyward” on the editorial board of the leading, central organ, when on a question of such import to us as electoral tactics there is neither unity of thought nor unity of action, not only in the Party as a whole, but even in the “leading” faction in that Party. What country and what Socialist Party, except, perhaps, the most opportunist, would tolerate such political depravity? And the remarkable fact is that it is these crabs, pikes and swans, these two squabblers Martov and Plekhanov, who are conducting a desperate campaign against the convocation of an extraordinary congress of the Party, one which we now need more than ever.


[1] Plekhanov’s italics.—Lenin

[2] Plekhanov’s italics.—Lenin

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