V. I.   Lenin

The Aim of the Proletarian Struggle in Our Revolution



As for Trotsky, whom Comrade Martov has involved in the controversy of third parties which he has organised— a controversy involving everybody except the dissentient— we positively cannot go into a full examination of his views here. A separate article of considerable length would be needed for this. By just touching upon Trotsky’s mistaken   views, and quoting scraps of them, Comrade Martov only sows confusion in the mind of the reader; for scraps of quotations do not explain but confuse matters. Trotsky’s major mistake is that he ignores the bourgeois character of the revolution and has no clear conception of the transition from this revolution to the socialist revolution. This major mistake leads to those mistakes on side issues which Comrade Martov repeats when he quotes a couple of them with sympathy and approval. Not to leave matters in the confused state to which Comrade Martov has reduced them by his ex position, we shall at least expose the fallacy of those arguments of Trotsky which have won the approval of Comrade Martov. A coalition of the proletariat and the peasantry “presupposes either that the peasantry will come under the sway of one of the existing bourgeois parties, or that it will form a powerful independent party”. This is obviously untrue both from the standpoint of general theory and from that of the experience of the Russian revolution. A “coalition” of classes does not at all presuppose either the existence of any particular powerful party, or parties in general. This is only confusing classes with parties. A “coalition” of the specified classes does not in the least imply either that one of the existing bourgeois parties will establish its sway over the peasantry or that the peasants should form a powerful independent party! Theoretically this is clear be cause, first, the peasants do not lend themselves very well to party organisation; and because, secondly, the formation of peasant parties is an extremely difficult and lengthy process in a bourgeois revolution, so that a “powerful independent” party may emerge only towards the end of the revolution. The experience of the Russian revolution shows that “coalitions” of the proletariat arid the peasantry were formed scores and hundreds of times, in the most diverse forms, without any “powerful independent party” of the peasantry. Such a coalition was formed when there was “joint action”, between, say, a Soviet of Workers’ Deputies and a Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies, or a Railwaymen’s Strike Committee, or Peasants’ Deputies, etc. All these organisations were mainly non-party; nevertheless, every joint action between them undoubtedly represented a “coalition” of classes. In the course of this a peasant party took shape as an idea, in germ, coming   into being in the form of the Peasant Union of 1905,[2] or the Trudovik group of 1906—and as such a party grew, developed and constituted itself, the coalition of classes assumed different forms, from the vague and unofficial to definite and official political agreements. After the dissolution of the First Duma, for example, the following three calls for insurrection were issued: (1) “To the Army and Navy”, (2) “To all the Russian Peasants”, (3) “To the Whole People”. The first was signed by the Social-Democratic group in the Duma and the Committee of the Trudovik group. Was this “joint action” evidence of a coalition of two classes? Of course it was. To deny it means to engage in pettifoggery, or to transform the broad scientific concept of a “coalition of classes” into a narrow, juridical concept, almost that—I would say—of a notary. Further, can it be denied that this joint call for insurrection, signed by the Duma deputies of the working class and peasantry, was accompanied by joint actions of representatives of both classes in the form of partial local insurrections? Can it be denied that a joint call for a general insurrection and joint participation in local and partial insurrections necessarily implies the joint formation of a provisional revolutionary government? To deny it would mean to engage in pettifoggery, to reduce the concept of “government” to something completely and formally constituted, to forget that the complete and formally constituted develop from the incomplete and unconstituted.

To proceed. The second call for insurrection was signed by the Central Committee (Menshevik!) of the R.S.D.L.P. and also the Central Committee of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, the All-Russian Peasant Union, the All-Russian Railwaymen’s and the All-Russian Teachers’ Unions, as well as by the Committee of the Trudovik group and the Social-Democratic group in the Duma. The third call for insurrection bears the signatures of the Polish Socialist Party and the Bund,[3] plus all the foregoing signatures except the three unions.

That was a fully constituted political coalition of par ties and non-party organisations! That was “the dictator ship of the proletariat and the peasantry” proclaimed in the form of a threat to tsarism, in the form of a call to the whole   people, but not yet realised! And today one will hardly find many Social-Democrats who would agree with the Menshevik Sotsial-Demokrat[4] of 1906, No. 6, which wrote of these appeals: “In this case our Party concluded with other revolutionary parties and groups not a political bloc, but a fighting agreement, which we have always considered expedient and necessary” (cf. Proletary, No. 1, August 21, 1906 and No. 8, November 23, 1906[1] ). A fighting agreement can not be contraposed to a political bloc, for the latter concept embraces the former. A political bloc at various historical moments takes the form either of “a fighting agreement” in connection with insurrection, or of a parliamentary agreement for “joint action against the Black Hundreds and Cadets”, and so on. The idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry has found its practical expression through out our revolution in a thousand forms, from the signing of the manifesto calling upon the people to pay no taxes and to withdraw their deposits from the savings-banks (December 1905), or the signing of calls to insurrection (July 1906), to voting in the Second and Third Dumas in 1907 and 1908.

Trotsky’s second statement quoted by Comrade Martov is wrong too. It is not true that “the whole question is, who will determine the government’s policy, who will constitute a homogeneous majority in it”, and so forth. And it is particularly untrue when Comrade Martov uses it as an argument against the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. Trotsky himself, in the course of his argument, concedes that “representatives of the democratic population will take part” in the “workers’ government”, i.. e., concedes that there will be a government consisting of representatives of the proletariat and the peasantry. On what terms the proletariat will take part in the government of the revolution is quite another question, and it is quite likely that on this question the Bolsheviks will disagree not only with Trotsky, but also with the Polish Social-Democrats. The question of the dictatorship of the revolutionary classes, however, cannot be reduced to a question of the “majority” in any particular revolutionary government, or of the terms   on which the participation of the Social-Democrats in such a government is admissible.

Lastly, the most fallacious of Trotsky’s opinions that Comrade Martov quotes and considers to be “just” is the third, viz.: “even if they [the peasantry] do this [“support the regime of working-class democracy”] with no more political understanding than they usually support a bourgeois regime.” The proletariat cannot count on the ignorance and prejudices of the peasantry as the powers that be under a bourgeois regime count and depend on them, nor can it assume that in time of revolution the peasantry will remain in their usual state of political ignorance and passivity. The history of the Russian revolution shows that the very first wave of the upsurge at the end of 1905, at once stimulated the peasantry to form a political organisation (the All-Russian Peasant Union) which was undoubtedly the embryo of a distinct peasant party. Both in the First and Second Dumas—in spite of the fact that the counter-revolution had wiped out the first contingents of advanced peasants—the peasantry, now for the first time acting on a nation wide scale in the Russian general elections, immediately laid the foundations of the Trudovik group, which was undoubtedly the embryo of a distinct peasant party. In these embryos and rudiments there was much that was unstable, vague and vacillating: that is beyond doubt. But if political groups like this could spring up at the beginning of the revolution, there cannot be the slightest doubt that a revolution carried to such a “conclusion”, or rather, to such a high stage of development as a revolutionary dictatorship, will produce a more definitely constituted and stronger revolutionary peasant party. To think otherwise would be like supposing that some vital organs of an adult can retain the size, shape and development of infancy.

In any case, Comrade Martov’s conclusion that the conference agreed with Trotsky, of all people, on the question of the relations between the proletariat and the peasantry in the struggle for power is an amazing contradiction of the facts, is an attempt to read into a word a meaning that was never discussed, not mentioned and not even thought of at the conference.



[1] See present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 150–66 and 307-19.—Ed.

[2] All-Russian Peasant Union—a revolutionary-democratic organisation founded in 1905. Its programme and tactics were elaborated at its first and second congresses held in Moscow in August and November 1903. The Union demanded political liberty and the immediate convocation of a constituent assembly. It adopted the tactics of boycott of the First Duma. Its agrarian programme called for the abolition of private landownership and for the transfer of monastery, church, crown and state lands to the peasants without compensation. The Union pursued a vacillating middle-of-the-road policy. While demanding abolition of the landed estates, it agreed to partial compensation for the landlords. The Peasant Union was subjected to police persecutions from the moment it came into existence. It finally broke up at the beginning of 1907.

[3] The Bund (The General Jewish Workers’ Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia) was formed by a founding congress of Jewish Social-Democratic groups held in Vilna in 1897; it was an association mainly of semi-proletarian Jewish artisans in the western regions of Russia. The Bund joined the R.S.D.L.P. at the First Congress (1898) “as an autonomous organisation, independent only in respect of questions affecting the Jewish proletariat specifically”. (The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences, and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, Moscow, 1954, Part I, p. 14, Russ. ed.)

The Bund brought nationalism and separatism into the working-class movement of Russia. Its Fourth Congress, held in April 1901, resolved to alter the organisational relations with the R.S.D.L.P. established by the latter’s First Congress. The resolution said that the Congress regarded the R.S.D.L.P. as a federation of national organisations and that the Bund should be treated as a member of that federation.

After the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. had rejected its demand that it be recognised as the sole representative of the Jewish proletariat, the Bund left the Party. In 1906 the Bund reentered the R.S.D.L.P on the basis of a resolution of the Fourth (Unity) Congress.

Within the R.S.D.L.P. the Bundists persistently supported the opportunist wing of the Party (the Economists, Mensheviks, and liquidators) and opposed the Bolsheviks and Bolshevism. The Bund countered the Bolsheviks’ programmatic demand for the right of nations to self-determination by a demand for cultural-national autonomy.

During the period of the Stolypin reaction (1907-10), it adopted a liquidationist stand and was active in forming the August anti-Party bloc. During the First World War (1914-18) it adopted the position of the social-chauvinists. In 1917 it supported the bourgeois Provisional Government and fought on the side of the enemies of the October Socialist Revolution. In the years of foreign military intervention and civil war the Bund leadership joined forces with the counter-revolution. At the same time a change was taking place among the rank and file of the Bund in favour of collaboration with the Soviet power. In March 1921 the Bund decided to dissolve itself, and some of its members joined the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) according to general procedure.

[4] Sotsial-Demokrat (Social-Democrat)— an illegal newspaper, organ of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P., published in St. Petersburg from September 17 (30) to November 18 (December 1), 1906. Seven issues were put out. The editorial board was controlled by the Mensheviks.

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