V. I. Lenin

How the Socialist-Revolutionaries Write History

Published: Proletary No. 17, October 20, 1907. Printed from the Proletary text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 207.2-209.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
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In No. 5 of Znamya Truda,{1} the Central Organ of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, we find an editorial on the Stuttgart Congress, which is Written in a torrent of words and immoderate boasting, the habitual style of the S.R.s. There is a reprint of the telegram in which the C.C. of the S.R. Party informed Europe that “the revolutionary struggle commands it to remain at its post”. The selfsame C.C. voices its complete satisfaction over the “usual energy” displayed by the Socialist-Revolutionary representative in the Bureau.{2} “By its resolution, the Socialist International endorsed the view of the trade union movement which we have always supported,” Znamya Truda assures us. Despite the dogmatist Kautsky, the Congress “turned out to be on our side” on the question of a legislative introduction of a minimum wage. Within three years, “we Russian socialists have grown into a great mass party, a fact the International has openly and respectfully (!!!) recognised”.

In short, thirty thousand couriers were dispatched from Europe to pay their respects to the Socialist-Revolutionaries.

Meanwhile, the malignant Social-Democrats carried on with their “petty intrigues” in the Russian section, namely, they fought against the equality of votes for the S.D.s and the S.R.s which the Socialist-Revolutionaries demanded. The Social-Democrats demanded 11 votes for themselves, 6 for the Socialist-Revolutionaries and 3 for the trade unions. The Bureau resolved: 10 for the S.D.s, 7 for the S.R.s and 3 for the trade unions. “Adler and Bebel, who voted against our demand, declared that they had no wish at all to minimise   the importance of the S.R. Party, which they recognised as an important factor of Russian socialism and the revolution. But they wanted to be fair and to state the approximate balance of forces” (Znamya Truda).

Our Khlestakovs{3} are imprudent, oh so imprudent! There was not and could not have been any question in the Bureau either of the significance of the S.R.s, or of the “important factor”. Once a party has been admitted to the Congress and the Bureau, the Bureau and its members will not bother to assess its significance and importance. The only thing the Bureau can assess is the strength of the par ties for apportioning the votes. Bebel and Adler agreed with the arguments of our Social-Democratic representative in the Bureau that the S.D.s and the S.R.s are not equal in strength. Having agreed with these arguments, they naturally noted that they were not passing judgement either on principles or trends, that they were not deciding on the dispute between the S.D. and the S.R. programmes, but were merely weighing their strength for apportioning the votes. It is entirely in the Khlestahov Spirit to interpret this self-evident reservation to mean recognition of the Socialist-Revolutionaries as “an important factor”.

The S.R.s are being doubly imprudent when, in reporting from memory and distorting the meaning of Bebel and Adler’s reservation, they say nothing at all about the arguments on the substance of the case. They give us Bebel’s reservations with embellishments, but are silent on the substance of our dispute. Why is that so?

In substance, our representatives in the Bureau had the following argument. The Social-Democrat referred to the number of deputies in the Second Duma as the most precise criterion of party strength, adding that the electoral law favoured the peasants over the workers. The S.R. replied that apart from the S.R. group there were some near-S.R.s in the Duma—the Trudoviks and the Popular Socialists. A portion of them, he implied, should be added to the S.R.s! Besides, the Popular Socialists have some “first-class writers” (“écrivains de premier ordre”, said Rubanovich). Those were the Socialist-Revolutionary’s very words.

To this the S.D. representative replied: indeed, the Popular Socialists do have some “first-class writers” as do the   French Radical-Socialists and the Radicals,{4} say, a man like Clemenceau (also a “first-class writer”). But is it proper for an independent party to refer to another party as evidence of its own strength? Is it proper, when the “first-class writers” among the Popular Socialists have not the slightest intention of requesting admission to the Congress?

Is it proper, let us add, to present oneself as an ultra-revolutionary in Russia and to drag along the Popular Socialists for help in Europe?


{1} Znamya Truda (Banner of Labour)—the Central Organ of the S.R. Party published in Paris from July 1907 to April 1914. p. 207

{2} The International Socialist Bureau (I.S.B.)—the standing executive and information organ of the Second International; the decision to set up the I.S.B., consisting of representatives of the socialist parties of all countries, was adopted at the Paris Congress of the Second International in September 1900. G. V. Plekhanov and B. N. Krichevsky were the Russian Social-Democrats elected to the I.S.B. From 1905, Lenin was the R.S.D.L.P. representative on the I.S.B. In the I.S.B., Lenin carried on a resolute struggle against the opportunist leaders of the Second International. The I.S.B. wound up its activities in 1914. p. 207

{3} Khlestakov—a liar and boaster in Nikolai Gogol’s comedy The Inspector-General. p. 208

{4} French Radicals and Radical-Socialists—a bourgeois party in   France, formalised, in 1901, actually existing since the 1880s. Until the First World War (1914–18), it mainly represented the interests of the petty and middle bourgeoisie; in the inter-war period, the influence of the big bourgeoisie increased in the party whose leaders have repeatedly headed the French Government. p. 209

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