V. I. Lenin

The Faction of Supporters of Otzovism and God-Building



These people have also disclosed themselves on the question of god-building. The enlarged editorial board of Proletary adopted and published two resolutions on this question: one on the principle involved, the other with special reference to Maximov’s protest. The question arises, what does this same Maximov say now in his “Report”? He Writes his “Report” in order to cover up his tracks, exactly in the style of the diplomat who said that language was given to man so as to hide his thoughts.{1} We are told that “wrong information” is being spread about the “so-called god-building” trend of Maximov’s clique, and that is all.

“Wrong information” do you say? Oh no, my dear fellow, it is just because you know perfectly well that the “information” in Proletary on god-building is absolutely correct that you have been covering up the tracks. You know perfectly well that this “information”, as is stated in the published resolution, refers primarily to the literary productions emanating from your literary clique. These literary productions are very exactly specified in our resolution; one thing alone being omitted, which could not be added in the resolution, namely, that for about a year and a half the strongest resentment against the “god-building” of your confrères has been expressed in leading Bolshevik circles, and it is on these grounds (besides those stated above) that the new faction of caricature Bolsheviks has been poisoning for us, by means of evasions, artifices, pin-pricks, objections and quibbles, every opportunity of working. One of the most notable of these quibbles is particularly well known to Maximov be cause it was a protest in writing lodged in due form with the editors of Proletary against the publication of an article en titled “Our Ways Part” (Proletary No. 42). Perhaps this too is “wrong information”, 0 unjustly removed ones? Perhaps this too was only a “so-called protest”?

No, let me tell you that the policy of covering up tracks does not always succeed and you will never succeed with it in our Party. It is no use playing hide-and-seek and by putting on airs trying to make a secret of something which everybody knows who takes an interest in Russian literature and Russian Social-Democracy. There is a literary clique who, with the help of several bourgeois publishers, are flooding our legal literature with systematic propaganda of god-building. Maximov too belongs to this clique. This propaganda has become systematic precisely in the past eighteen months, when the Russian bourgeoisie for its counter-revolutionary purposes felt a need to revive religion, increase the demand for religion, invent religion, inoculate the people with religion or strengthen the hold of religion on them in new forms. Hence the preaching of god-building has acquired a social, political character. Just as the bourgeois press in the period of the revolution fondled and petted the most zealous of the Mensheviks for their pro-Cadetism, so in the period of counter-revolution the bourgeois press is   fondling and petting the god-builders in the ranks—it is no joke!—in the ranks of the Marxists and even in the ranks of the “also-Bolsheviks”. And when the official organ of Bolshevism stated in an editorial that Bolshevism had nothing in common with such propaganda (this statement was issued in the press after endless persuasion in letters and personal conversations had failed to stop this disgraceful propaganda), Comrade Maximov lodged a formal, written protest with the editorial board of Proletary. He, Maximov, had been elected by the London Congress,{2} hence his “acquired right” was being violated by those who dared to officially repudiate the disgraceful doctrine of god-building. “Why, is our faction in bondage to the god-building literati?” This was the remark that Comrade Marat{3} let slip during a stormy scene in the editorial office—yes, yes, the very same Comrade Marat, who is so modest., so well-meaning, so peaceable and so good-hearted that he cannot properly decide to this very day whether to go with the Bolsheviks or the godly otzovists.

Or is this perhaps also a piece of “wrong information”, 0 unjustly removed Maximov? There is no clique of god-building literati, you never defended them, you never pro tested against the article “Our Ways Part”? eh?

Of “wrong information” on the god-building trend Comrade Maximov speaks in his “Report” concerning the school abroad which is being held by the new faction. Comrade Maximov is so emphatic about this being “the first [Maximov’s italics] Party school to be held abroad” and is so bent on misleading the, public on this question, that we. shall have to speak of the notorious “school” in greater detail.

Comrade Maximov bitterly complains:

“Not a single attempt, not only to lend support to the school but even to take control over it, was made by the editorial board (of Proletary); while spreading false information about the school derived from unknown sources, the editorial board did not address a single enquiry to the organisers of the school to verify this information. Such was the attitude of the editorial board to the whole affair.”

So. So. “Not a single attempt even to take control over the school.”... In this phrase Maximov’s Jesuitry goes so far that it exposes itself.

Remember, reader, Yerogin’s hostel in the period of the First Duma. A retired rural superintendent (or some bureaucratic   knight of the same nature) Yerogin opened a hostel in St. Petersburg for peasant deputies coming in from the country, his desire being to lend support to the “plans of the government”. The inexperienced peasants on arriving in the capital were intercepted by Yerogin’s agents and directed to Yerogin’s hostel, where, of course, they found a school in which the heretical doctrines of the “Lefts” were refuted, in which the Trudoviks, etc., were covered with obloquy, and in which the new-fledged Duma members were schooled in “true Russian” statecraft. Fortunately, since the State Duma was held in St. Petersburg it was in St. Petersburg that Yerogin had to organise his hostel, and as St. Petersburg is a centre with a fair breadth and freedom of ideological and political life Yerogin’s deputies, of course, very soon began to desert Yerogin’s hostel and transfer to the camp of the Trudoviks or the independent deputies. Thus Yerogin’s little intrigue resulted only in disgrace, both for himself and the government.

Now imagine, reader, that a Yerogin hostel like this is organised, not in some foreign St. Petersburg, but in some foreign equivalent of Tsarevokokshaisk.{4} If you grant this hypothesis, you will have to agree that the otzovist god-building Yerogins have used their knowledge of Europe to prove themselves more cunning than the true-blue Russian Yerogin. People calling themselves Bolsheviks set up an exchequer of their own—independent of what, as far as we know, is the one and only general Bolshevik exchequer, out of which comes the cost of publishing and circulating Proletary—organised an agency of their own, shipped some of “their” agitators to Tsarevokokshaisk, sent out there some Workers belonging to the Social-Democratic Party and pro claimed this (hidden away from the Party in Tsarevokokshaisk) Yerogin hostel the “first Party” (party, because it is hidden from the Party) “school abroad”.

We hasten to make the reservation—since the removed Comrade Maximov has so vigorously raised the question whether his removal was regular or irregular (of this, later)—that there is nothing at all “irregular” in the actions of the otzovist-god-building Yerogins. Nothing whatsoever. Every thing there is quite regular. It is quite regular for kindred spirits in a party to form a group together. It is quite   regular for these kindred spirits to collect a fund and start some joint enterprise of propaganda and agitation. It is quite regular that in this instance they should wish to choose as the form of their enterprise, say, not a newspaper, but a “school”. It is quite regular that they should consider it an official Party affair, so long as it is organised by members of the Party and so long as there is a Party organisation, no matter which, assuming political and ideological responsibility for the enterprise. Everything is quite regular here and everything would be quite all right if ... if there were no Jesuitry, no hypocrisy, no deception of your own Party.

Is it not a deception of the Party if you publicly emphasise that the school is a Party affair, i.e., if you restrict yourself to the question of its formal legitimacy and do not give the names of the initiators and organisers of the school, i.e., you keep silent about the ideological and political trend of the school as the undertaking of a new faction in out Party? There have been two “documents” about this school in the possession of the editors of Proletary (for over a year now relations between the editorial board and Maximov have been carried on entirely through the medium of “documents” and diplomatic notes). The first document bore no signature, nobody’s signature at all. It was merely an abstract statement of the virtue of education and the educational value of institutions called schools. The second document was signed by figure-heads. Now, coming out in print before the public with praise of the “first Party school abroad” Comrade Maximov, as before, keeps silent about the factional character of the school.

This policy of Jesuitry is harmful to the Party. We shall expose this “policy”. The initiators and organisers of the school are in actual fact Comrades “Er”{5} (thus we will name the leader the Moscow otzovists well known to all Party members, who delivered lectures on the school, organised a circle of pupils and was appointed to the roster of lecturers by several workers’ circles), Maximov, Lunacharsky, Lyadov, Alexinsky and so on and so forth. We do not know and we are not interested in knowing what particular part was played by one or other. of the above-mentioned comrades, what places they occupy in the various official institutions of the school, in its “Council”, “executive   commission”, collegium of lecturers, eta. We do not know which “non-factional” comrades might supplement this clique in one or another particular case. All this is quite unimportant. What we assert is that the actual ideological and political trend of this school, as a new factional centre, is determined precisely by the names enumerated and that by concealing this from the Party Maximov is conducting a policy of Jesuitry. What is bad is not that a new factional centre has come into being in the Party—we by no means belong to the class of people who are not averse to making a little political capital out of cheap and fashionable outcries against factionalism—on the contrary, it is a good thing that a distinctive shade of opinion, once it exists, should be able to have its special expression in the Party. What is bad is the deception of the Party and the workers who—naturally—sympathise with the idea of any school, as they do with any educational undertaking.

Is it not hypocrisy when Comrade Maximov complains to the public that the editorial board of Proletary had not “even” (“even!”) the desire “to take control over the school”? Only think: in June 1908 Comrade Maximov left the small editorial board of Proletary; since that time internal strife has gone on almost continuously in a thousand different forms in the Bolshevik group; Alexinsky abroad, “Er” and Co. abroad and in Russia, repeat after Maximov all the arrant nonsense of the otzovists and god-builders against Proletary in a thousand different tones. Maximov lodges written and formal protests against the article “Our Ways Part”; everybody who knows anything of Party affairs if only by hearsay speaks of a coming inevitable split in the ranks of the Bolsheviks (it suffices to point out that the Menshevik Dan at the All-Russian Conference of December 1908 declared for all to hear, at an official gathering: “Who does not know that the Bolsheviks are now accusing Lenin of betraying Bolshevism”!)—yet Comrade Maximov, playing the role of an innocent, absolutely innocent, child, asks the honourable public, why is it that the editorial board of Proletary did not “even” want to take control over a Party school in god-building Tsarevokokshaisk? “Control” over the school! Supporters of Proletary in the capacity of “inspectors”, sitting in at the lectures of Maximov, Lunacharsky, Alexinsky   and Co.!! Come now, why do you play this unbecoming, this disgraceful farce? For what purpose? Why throw dust in the eyes of the public by circulating meaningless “programmes” and “reports” of the “school” instead of admitting frankly and openly who are the ideological leaders and inspirers of the new factional centre!

For what purpose?—we shall answer this question presently, but first let us finish with the question of the school: There is room for Tsarevokokshaisk in St. Petersburg and it can be transferred (most of it, anyway) to St. Petersburg, but St. Petersburg can neither be accommodated in nor transferred to Tsarevokokshaisk. The more energetic and in dependent of the students at the new Party school will manage to find their way from the narrow new faction to the broad Party, from the “science” of the otzovists and god-builders to the science of Social-Democracy in general and Bolshevism in particular. As for those who prefer to limit themselves to a Yerogin education, nothing can be done with them. The editorial board of Proletary is prepared’ to give and will give every possible assistance to all workers, whatever their views, if they want to migrate (or travel) from the foreign Tsarevokokshaisk to the foreign St. Petersburg and acquaint themselves with Bolshevik views. The hypocritical policy of the organisers and initiators of the “first Party school abroad”, however, we shall expose before the whole Party.


{1} Lenin is referring to Talleyrand, French diplomat of the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century.

{2} This refers to the Fifth Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. held in London, April 30-May 19 (May 13-June 1), 1907.

{3} Marat—V. L. Shantser, a member of the enlarged editorial board of Proletary, an ultimatumist, later one of the members of the Vperyod anti-Party group.

{4} Tsarevokokshaisk—one of the uyezd towns of tsarist Russia.

{5} Er"—A. V. Sokolov (Volsky).

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