V. I. Lenin

The Faction of Supporters of Otzovism and God-Building



Concealing their ideological kin, afraid to declare their real platform, the new faction is trying to fill up the gaps in its ideological stock-in-trade by borrowing words from the vocabulary of old splits. The “new Proletary”, the new Proletary line”, shout Maximov and Nikolayev imitating the fight against the new Iskra in the old days. It is a trick that might beguile certain political infants, But you are not even capable of repeating old words, gentlemen. The “point” of the slogan “against the new Iskra” was that when the Mensheviks took over Iskra. they themselves had to start a new line of policy, whereas the Congress (the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1903) had endorsed the line of the old Iskra. The “point” was that the Mensheviks (through the mouth of Trotsky in 1903-04) had to declare: the old Iskra and the new are poles apart. And to this day Potresov and Co. are trying to remove from themselves the “traces” of the period when they were guided by the old Iskra.

Proletary is now in its 47th issue. The first came out exactly three years ago, in August 1906. In this first issue of   Proletary, dated August 21, 1906, we find an editorial article “The Boycott” and it states in black and white: “The time has now come when the revolutionary Social-Democrats must cease to be boycottists.”{1} Since that time there has not been a single issue of Proletary containing even one line of print in favour of “boycottism” (after 1906), otzovism and ultimatumism, without a refutation of this caricature of Bolshevism. And now the caricature Bolsheviks are getting on stilts and trying to compare themselves with those who first fought the three-year campaign of the old Iskra and secured the endorsement of its line by the Second Party Congress and then exposed the volte-face of the new Iskra!

Comrade Maximov now signs himself “Former editor of the popular workers’ newspaper Vperyod”, wanting to remind the reader that it was said “geese saved Rome”. “Your relation to the policy of Vperyod,”{2} we tell Maximov in reply to this reminder, was exactly the same as Potresov’s relation to the old Iskra. Potresov was its editor, but he did not lead the old Iskra, the old Iskra led him. As soon as he sought to change the policy the supporters of the old Iskra turned their backs on him. And now even Potresov himself is making frantic efforts to blot out the “sin of his youth”, his participation in the editorship of the old Iskra.

Maximov did not lead Vperyod, but Vperyod led him. Proof: the policy of boycotting the Third Duma, in support of which Vperyod did not and could not say a single word. Maximov acted very wisely and well when he allowed him self to be led by Vperyod. Now he has begun to think up (or, what tomes to the same thing, to help the otzovists to think up) a line of policy that is inevitably leading him into the morass, just like Potresov.

Remember this, Comrade Maximov: the basis one should take for comparison is the integrity of an ideological and political trend, not “words” and “slogans”, which some people learn by heart without understanding their meaning. Bolshevism ran the old Iskra for three. years, from 1900 to 1903, and emerged as an integral trend for the struggle with Menshevism. The Mensheviks persisted for a long time in their new alliance with the anti-Iskrists and the supporters   of Rabocheye Dyelo until finally they surrendered Potresov (and only Potresov?) to Prokopovich. The Bolsheviks ran the “old” Proletary (1906-09) in a spirit of resolute opposition to “boycottism”, etc., and emerged as an integral trend for the struggle against those who are now thinking up “otzovism”, “ultimatumism”, “god—building”, etc. The Mensheviks wanted to reform the old Iskra in the spirit of Martynov and the Economists, and they broke their necks in the attempt. You want to reform the old Proletary in the spirit of “Er”, the otzovists and the god-builders—and you will break your necks too.

But what about the “turn towards. Plekhanov”, says Maximov triumphantly? What about the formation 91 a “new Centrist faction"? And our “also-Bolshevik” describes as “diplomacy” a “denial” that “the realisation of the idea of a ‘centrist group’ is being contemplated!"

These cries which Maximov is uttering against “diplomacy” and “uniting with Plekhanov” are simply laughable. Here, too, the caricature Bolsheviks are true to themselves: they have firmly learned by heart that Plekhanov pursued an ultra-opportunist policy in 1906-07. And they think that if they repeat it rather frequently, without bothering to analyse the changes that are taking place, this will denote the maximum degree of “revolutionary spirit”.

The fact of the matter is that starting from the London Congress the “diplomats” of Proletary always openly pursued and succeeded in carrying out a pro-Party policy against the grotesque exaggerations of factionalism, a policy of defending Marxism against anti-Marxist criticism. There are two reasons for Maximov’s present outcries: on the one hand, ever since the London Congress there have always been individual Bolsheviks (Alexinsky is an example) alleging that a policy of “conciliation”, a “Polish-Lettish” policy, etc., has been substituted for a policy of Bolshevism. These stupid allegations, which were merely evidence of bigoted thinking, were seldom taken seriously by the Bolsheviks. On the other hand, the literary clique to which Maximov belongs and which has never at any time had more than one foot in the Social-Democratic movement, has for a long time regarded Plekhanov as the chief enemy of their god-building and suchlike tendencies. In the eyes of this clique nothing   is more terrible than Plekhanov. Nothing is more destructive to their hope of inculcating their ideas into the workers’ party than “uniting with Plekhanov”.

And now these two elements: bigoted factionalism with its incomprehension of the tasks of the Bolshevik faction in forming the Party, and the god-builders of the literary circles and apologists of god-building, have come together on the “platform”: against “union with Plekhanov”, against the “conciliatory”, “Polish-Lettish” policy of Proletary, etc.

Plekhanov’s Dnevnik No. 9, which is now out, makes it unnecessary for us to explain to the reader in special detail what a caricature this “platform” of the caricature Bolsheviks is. Plekhanov exposed the liquidationism of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata, the diplomacy of its editors and declared that his “way parted” with Potresov, who had ceased to be a revolutionary. It is clear now to every Social-Democrat that working-class Mensheviks will go with Plekhanov against Potresov. It should be clear to everyone that the split among the Mensheviks vindicates the policy of the Bolsheviks. It is clear to everyone that Plekhanov’s declaration of the pro-Party line of policy against the splitting tactics of the liquidators is a tremendous victory for Bolshevism, which now holds the predominant position in the Party.

Bolshevism has won this tremendous victory because it pursued its pro-Party policy in spite of the outcries of the immature “Lefts” and god-building literati. Only such people as these can be afraid of a rapprochement with the Plekhanov who exposes and expels the Potresovs from the workers’ party. Only in the stagnant bog of the god-builders’ circle or of the heroes of phrases learned by heart is there any chance of success for a “platform”: “Against union with Plekhanov”, that is to say, against rapprochement with the pro-Party Mensheviks for the struggle against liquidationism, against rapprochement with the orthodox Marxists (which is disadvantageous to the clique of literary Yerogins), against the winning of further Party support for revolutionary Social-Democratic policy and tactics.

We Bolsheviks can point to great achievements in winning such support. Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Kautsky—Social-Democrats who often write for Russians and to that extent are in our Party—have been won over to our point of view,   although at the beginning of the split (i903) their sympathies were entirely with the Mensheviks. They were won over because the Bolsheviks made no concessions to “criticism” of Marxism, because the Bolsheviks upheld, not the letter of their own, definitely their own. factional theory, but the general spirit and meaning of revolutionary Social-Democratic tactics. We shall continue to advance along this path, we shall wage an even more relentless war against pedantic stupidity and reckless phrase-mongering with phrases learned by heart, against the theoretical revisionism of the god-building circle of literati.

Two liquidationist trends have now quite clearly materialised among the Russian Social-Democrats: Potresov’ s and Maximov’s. Potresov is necessarily afraid of the Social-Democratic Party because henceforth there is no hope of his line being adopted by it. Maximov is necessarily afraid of the Social-Democratic Party because there is now no hope of his line being adopted by it. Both the one and the other will support and shield by fair means or by foul the escapades of the separate literary circles with their peculiar forms of revision of Marxism. Both the one and the other will clutch, as the last shadow of hope, at the preservation of the circle spirit against the Party spirit, for Potresov can still win occasional victories in a select company of bigoted Mensheviks, Maximov can still gain an occasional laurel wreath from circles of especially bigoted Bolsheviks, but neither the one nor the other Will ever obtain a firm footing whether among Marxists or in a really Social-Democratic workers’ party. They represent two opposite, but mutually complementary, equally limited, petty-bourgeois trends in the Social-Democratic movement.


{1} See present edition, Vol. 11, p. 145.—Ed.

{2} Vperyod (Forward)—a Bolshevik mass working-class newspaper, under Lenin’s guidance. It was published illegally in Vyborg by the editors of the newspaper Proletary from September 10 (23), 1906 to January 19 (February 1); 1908; 20 issues appeared. Beginning with No. 2 the newspaper was issued as the organ of the local committees of the R.S.D.L.P.; No. 2 as the organ of the Moscow, St. Petersburg and Moscow ˜District committees; Nos. 3–7 as the organ of the Moscow, St. Petersburg, Moscow District, Penn and Kursk committees; Nos. 8–19—as, the previous issues, with the addition of the Kazan Committee; in the last issue, No. 20, the Urals Regional Committee took the place of the Penn and’ Kazan committees.

  V | VII  

Works Index   |   Volume 16 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index
< backward   forward >