V. I.   Lenin

Fundamental Problems of the Election Campaign



Let us now examine the stand taken on the question of the election campaign by Nasha Zarya, leading organ of the liquidationist trend.

There is nothing more repugnant to the spirit of Marxism than phrase-mongering. And the most unpleasant feature that strikes one in Nos. 6 and 7–8 of Nasha Zarya is the in credible orgy of phrase-mongering that might truly be that of a Tartarin. The Tartarins of our liquidationist trend have converted an election campaign, something customary for Marxists in all lands, and which even in Russia has already been conducted twice on a large scale, into something wrapped up in so many pompous words, words and words, that it is simply unendurable.

Mr. Yuri Chatsky, in his article “Time to Begin”, begins an exposition of the views of the liquidators, and, to all intents and purposes, finishes the exposition of these views and does so as the mastermind, leaving it to L. Martov to provide the trimmings, the gloss, the literary ornamentation.

Here is a sample of the writings of Yuri-Tartarin:

It is hardly possible to expect with any certainty that the election campaign will b e conducted, organisationally, in an absolutely centralised manner, although we must strive for this by all those ways we have spoken of ... by organisationally consolidating the   results of the political amalgamation of the worker Social-Democrats in the course of the political campaign

For mercy’s sake, dear man—why compete with Trotsky? Why try to stun the readers in general, and the workers in particular, with all that verbiage about the results of political amalgamation in the course of the political campaign? Or about consolidating those results? After all, it is nothing but words, merely giving yourself airs by the ponderous repetition of a simple idea. Organisational “consolidation” is always essential, before, as well as after, elections. You call the elections a political campaign, then—“to add weight”—you speak of a “series [!] of all-Russian [!] political campaigns”, and by all this din and clatter of words you obscure the really urgent, vital, and practical question: how to organise. Do we need “nuclei” and a network of more or less open, if unstable, unions around them? Yes or no? If we do need them, we need them both before and after the elections—since the elections are but one of our jobs, one of many. If no systematic work has been carried on for a long time, you will not succeed in “consolidating” anything in the course of the election campaign. Any practical worker will tell you it is nonsense. High-sounding phrases are used only to cover up the absence of an explicit answer to the fundamental question, viz., how to organise for every form of activity, and not just for the election campaign.

To speak, apropos of the elections, about “the fighting mobilisation of the proletariat” (sic! see p. 49), or about a “broad and open mobilisation of the worker masses” (p. 54), and so on and so forth, means not only to lack any sense of proportion, but plainly to harm the modest, necessarily modest, work by fostering phrase-mongering of exactly the same quality as that of the “otzovists”, “ultimatumists”, etc. According to the latter, a boycott is needed as a means of especially stressing that the “spirit” is not dead (but the “spirit” of the work must permeate all spheres of activity, including the elections); the barkers of liquidationism, on the other hand, maintain that the elections will solve everything—“the fighting mobilisation” (one merely wonders how this Russian quasi-“Marxist” can unblushingly put down such things on paper!) and “organisational consolidation   of the results of the political amalgamation in the course of a political campaign”! We all know perfectly well that the elections of 1912 (unless conditions arise which will radically change the situation that existed in 1908 and exists in 1911) will not, and cannot, bring about either a “broad” or an “open” “mobilisation of the masses”. All they will give is a modest opportunity for activity that is not very broad and not very open, and this opportunity should be made use of. But there is no point in imitating Trotsky’s inflated phrases.

The cry about “open” organisations in connection with the elections is just a bit of plain stupidity. What we say is: better let us do the work not quite so openly, fellow-workers, that will be safer, more proper, saner, and more useful as a means of influencing wider sections of the population than the twaddle about existing “openly”. In times such as ours, only utterly stupid or utterly frivolous people can shout and brag: “We can do everything openly”.

A party (a class party) will appear only as a product of the organised creative efforts of the independently active vanguard of the workers” (p. 41).

Phew! Have mercy on us! Don’t you know that in all countries it took the advanced workers and real Marxist “intellectuals”, who whole-heartedly threw in their lot with the workers, decades to form and train their parties? Nor can it be different in our country, and there is no point in this attempt to scare away the Russian working-class reader by that pompous bunk about “creative efforts” (when it is a question of teaching the ABC and of carrying small ordinary stones to lay the foundation), about the “independently active” vanguard, etc. Under the spell of Chatsky-Tartarin, Mr. Martov also lets his tongue run away with him, and he speaks of “independently conscious elements of the working class” (No. 7–8, p. 42), who are coming forward to replace the old personnel now going through a process of

They are laying it on thick: “independently active”, “independently conscious”, “creative”, “fighting mobilisation”, “the broadest”, “most open”.... One wonders how it is these gentlemen are not nauseated by all this “verbal incontinence”, to use Shchedrin’s expression.

The whole point is that they have to resort to florid, laboured phrases which are meant to stun and stupefy the workers (and still more so the intellectual, because workers laugh at a style like Yuri Chatsky’s, and it is mostly high-school boys who “tall” for it), because they have no plain, direct, and clear answer to the plain, clear, and immediate questions. The question of the election platform enables us to give a particularly vivid illustration of the truth regarding the conversion of vague thoughts into vague, bombastic, and pompous phrases.


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