V. I.   Lenin

Fundamental Problems of the Election Campaign



Let us now take a look at L. Martov’s “fundamental platform propositions”.... As the basis of the platform he takes the programme—and that is as it should be, of course. Martov gives a paraphrase of sections of the programme. Only it is not clear whether Martov is advocating that programme which he outlined in No. 7–8 of Nasha Zarya. That particle of the old programme is acceptable even to Larin and Levitsky, and, probably, to Prokopovich. Or, does Martov subscribe to the whole of the old programme?

In fairness it must be noted that there is one passage in Martov’s article which indicates the latter to be the case. It is the passage on p. 48 in which he states that sometimes they are compelled to “refrain from speaking out in clear terms” (that is true), but, they must not renounce. Nobody can make them reduce the content of their demands, he says. These are very fine words. Unfortunately, the deeds do not correspond to these words, for we know perfectly well, for instance, that Larin, whom Martov does “not suspect of reformism”, does reduce and renounce. We shall very soon have   occasion to see that Martov, too, in that very same article, while promising not to “reduce”, and not to “renounce”, actually does both.

Consequently, the actual situation is that, on the question of using the programme as a component part and basis of a platform, we have not one but two platforms: without reduction and renunciation, and with reduction and renunciation, the purport of which is clearly indicated by the nature of the sermons preached by Larin, Levitsky, and Potresov.

Then comes the question of tactics. We must assess the historical meaning of the June Third period, and this assessment ought to serve as the basis of all the definitions of our tasks, of all the opinions we “express” on any general and particular problems of current politics. Martov himself is obliged to admit—despite the liquidators’ characteristic habit of sneering at “assessments of current events”—that this is a cardinal question. And so, this is what Martov declares with regard to the “old”, formulated answer to that question:

Attempts were made to define the historical meaning of the ‘June Third’ period by an inept formula, inept because it is liable to lead to misconceptions, which referred to ‘a step toward the transformation [“in the transformation” would be the exact quotation] into a bourgeois monarchy’.”...

An “inept” formula.... How mild that sounds! Yet it is only recently that Martov’s colleagues saw in this formula a complete negation in principle of the viewpoint which seems to them to be the only salvation. It is only recently that F. Dan spoke of those who “want to shove in where they have once been defeated”. Why, then, this change of tone? Is there a fundamental divergence on the question of the historical meaning of the June Third period, or not?

Listen further:

This formula fails to account for the actual step back toward division of power between the protagonists of absolutism and the landed nobility. It follows from the above that after the events of 1905 the forms in which alone it was possible for this division to be effected, created favourable conditions for the mobilisation and organisation of the social forces whose historical mission it is to work for the creation of a ‘bourgeois monarchy’.”...

According to Martov, these social forces are represented by the bourgeoisie that was “given the right to act as a legal or tolerated opposition” by the June Third period.

Now, examine Martov’s reasoning. On the face of it, he reproaches the “inept formula” only of overlooking the step back taken by the government. But, in the first place, this is factually incorrect. Martov has amazingly bad luck with the “formula” of 1908: whenever he sets out to speak of it he immediately reveals a strange inability (or reluctance?) to give an exact reproduction of the “formula” which is so well known to him. The “formula” speaks plainly and explicitly about the preservation of the “power and revenue” of the feudal landowners (and not of bourgeois landowners, as Larin would have us say)! Consequently, if this sort of division of power is to be regarded as a “step back”, then this step back, far from being overlooked in our formula, is referred to in the most explicit terms. And, secondly, and this is the main point, while speaking of the step, back taken by the government, Martov obscures, glosses over, the step back taken by the liberal bourgeoisie. There’s the rub! That is the essence of the arguments, which Martov obscures.

The step back taken by the liberal bourgeoisie consists in the Vekhi sentiments of this bourgeoisie, its renunciation of democracy, its drawing closer to the “parties of law and order”, its support (direct and indirect, ideological and political) for the attempts of the old regime to maintain itself at the cost of minimum “steps in the transformation into a bourgeois monarchy”. Without the counter-revolutionary (Vekhi type) liberal bourgeoisie, it is not only impossible for the bourgeois monarchy to take shape, it cannot even begin to take shape. Martov “forgets” this primarily and mainly for the simple reason that he himself is a Vekhi man among Marxists.

In evaluating the June Third period, the liberal is entirely concerned with the fact that the government took a “step back” towards the Purishkeviches. Had the same government, with the same fundamental features of the regime (and of its policy of suppression with regard to democracy) left intact, taken a “step” towards him, towards the liberal, that would have been all he required. What the liberal says, in effect, is the following: I have proved by Vekhi and its   policy (Milyukov’s “London”) that I, the liberal, am a sincere, serious, implacable enemy of democracy—of the democracy that is “anti-state”, apostate, infantile, criminal, “thievish”, immoral, godless, and what not, as stated in Vekhi. Yet, notwithstanding all this, power is shared not with me but with Purishkevich! That is the meaning of the policy of the liberals after June 3, 1907, that is the meaning of the “Stolypin liberalism” of Struve, Milyukov, and their like. I offer you my very soul, says the liberal lifting up his eyes to the government, yet you prefer Purishkevich!

On the other hand, the standpoint of proletarian democracy in regard to the June Third period, is fundamentally and radically different. The government took its “step back” to the Purishkeviches at a different, considerably higher, stage of development than before. A “step back” to the nobility was taken in the eighties too. But that was a step back taken in post-Reform Russia, in a Russia a long way advanced beyond the era of Nicholas I, when the noble landowner had ruled in the absence of a “plutocracy”, in the absence of railways, and in the absence of a growing third element. And so today, the “step back” to the Purishkeviches is combined with a bourgeois agrarian policy and with the bourgeoisie organised and firmly entrenched in the representative institutions. It is Purishkevich’s hegemony in the common (both Purishkevich’s and Milyukov’s) turn against democracy, against the movement of the masses, against so-called “excesses”, against the so-called “high-brow [Vekhi] revolution”, etc.

The liberal’s job is to “threaten” Purishkevich so as to get him to “move over” a bit, to make more room for the liberals, but making sure at the same time that this does not obliterate from the face of the earth all the economic and political foundations of Purishkevichism. The task of a democrat in general, and of a Marxist, a representative of proletarian democracy, in particular, is to take advantage of any sharp conflict to bring the masses into the arena for the very purpose of effecting this obliteration. From the point of view of the task of the general transformation of Russia, the historical meaning of the June Third period, is precisely that the new step in the transformation into a   bourgeois monarchy is a step towards a greater separation of the classes in every respect and, especially, towards a greater separation of the liberals (the “responsible” opposition to the Purishkeviches) from the democrats (working for the elimination of all the foundations of Purishkevichism).

Hence it is obvious that Martov, while apparently criticising only the “inept formula”, actually puts forward the platform of a liberal labour policy. He sees the “step back” taken by the old regime towards the Purishkeviches, but he refuses to see the step back taken by the liberal bourgeoisie towards the old regime. He sees that the events of 1905 created favourable conditions “for the mobilisation and organisation” of the liberal bourgeoisie against the Purishkeviches and alongside the Purishkeviches, but he re I uses to see that those events created “favourable conditions” for the mobilisation and organisation of the Vekhi type, counter-revolutionary liberal bourgeoisie against democracy, against the movement of the masses. From the passage quoted from Martov’s article it, therefore, follows inevitably that the workers ought to “support” the liberals in the latter’s struggle against the Purishkeviches, that they ought to leave the hegemony to the liberals; but it does not by any means follow that, in spite of the Vekhi sentiments of the liberals, in spite of the aspirations of the Milyukovs to get a seat next to the Purishkeviches, the workers ought to rouse the masses to the job of doing away entirely with the deepest roots (and the loftiest pinnacles) of Purishkevichism.

Hence it is obvious, further, why Martov can and should agree with Larin on the basic points, differing from him only in details, only in the manner of formulating the tasks of a liberal labour policy. We already have a bourgeois monarchy in Russia, says. Larin, our landowners are no longer “feudal lords” but agrarians, i.e., bourgeois entrepreneurs in the countryside. Therefore, we are not facing any historical “leaps”, and what we need is “not hegemony, but a class party” (Levitsky), our task is to sup port the liberal constitutionalists, while preserving our own independence.[1] So far we still have no bourgeois monarchy,   objects Martov, but it is “ample” for us to know that the combination of absolutism and constitutionalism is contradictory, and therefore it is necessary for us to strike at the old regime “through the Achilles heel of its contradictions”. Neither of the two disputants sees the connection between the bourgeois monarchy that has been born or is being born and the counter-revolutionary nature of the liberal bourgeoisie; both of them fail to take account of the activity of the “leader” in determining not only the extent but also the type of bourgeois transformation in Russia; according to both of them, whether they say so or not, the “arrangements are made” for the working class in the new, bourgeois Russia, but the workers do not do the arranging and secure for themselves a democratic following capable of repudiating all the foundations of Purishkevichism.


[1] As Larin wrote; “to stand up for itself ... during the coming constitutional reform”. —Lenin

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