Written: Written on July 12–14 (25–27), 1912
Published: Published in Pravda Nos. 78, 79, 80, 81, July 29 and 31, and August 1 and 2, 1912. Signed: A Statistician. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, , Moscow, Volume 18, pages 187-202.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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By founding a workers’ daily newspaper, the workers of St. Petersburg have accomplished a major feat, one that without exaggeration can be called historic. The workers’ democratic movement has rallied together and consolidated itself in incredibly difficult conditions. Of course, it is not possible to talk of the stability of the workers’ democratic press in our country. Everyone knows very well the persecution to which working-class newspapers are subjected.
For all that, the founding of Pravda is an outstanding proof of the political, consciousness, energy and unity of the Russian workers.
It is useful to look back and note some results of the six months’ work of the Russian workers for founding a press of their own. Since January of this year the interest shown by working-class circles of St. Petersburg in their press has become fully evident and a number of articles dealing with a workers’ daily has appeared in newspapers of all shades that come into contact with the world of labour.
Data on who founded a daily working-class press in Russia and how it was founded are, fortunately, available in a comparatively full form. They are the data on the collection of funds for a workers’ daily newspaper.
Let us begin with the funds with which Pravda was brought into being. We have the accounts of Zvezda, Nevskaya Zvezda and Pravda for the period from January 1 to June 30, or exactly six months. Publicity ensured the absolute accuracy of the accounts, accidental errors being corrected immediately on indications from those concerned.
What is of the greatest importance and interest to us is not the sum total of the funds collected, but the composition of the givers. When, for example, Nevskaya Zvezda No. 3 gave the total contributions for a workers’ daily newspaper as 4,288 rubles 84 kopeks (from January to May 5, exclusive of the donations which from April 22, the day when Pravda first appeared, came directly to that newspaper), we were at once prompted to ask: what was the role which the workers themselves and groups of workers played in collecting this sum? Does it consist of large donations by sympathisers? Or did the workers themselves show in this case a personal and active concern for the working-class press and make up a large sum out of donations from a large number of workers’ groups?
From the point of view of the initiative and energy of the workers themselves, it is much more important to have 100 rubles collected by, say, 30 groups of workers than 1,000 rubles collected by some dozens of “sympathisers”. A newspaper founded on the basis of five-kopek pieces collected by small factory circles of workers is a far more dependable, solid and serious undertaking (both financially and, most important of all, from the standpoint of the development of the workers’ democratic movement) than a news paper founded with tens and hundreds of rubles contributed by sympathising intellectuals.
To obtain exact data on this fundamental and most important matter, we have performed the following operation with regard to the figures on collections published in the three newspapers mentioned. We have singled out only the donations stated to have been made by groups of factory or office workers.
What we are interested in at the moment is the contributions made by the workers themselves—moreover, not by individual ones, who may have come across a collector by chance, not being linked with him ideologically, i.e., in terms of their views and convictions; we mean groups of workers, who must no doubt have discussed beforehand whether they should donate any money, whom they should give it to and for what purpose.
Each report by Zvezda, Nevskaya Zvezda or Pravda which indicated that the money contributed for a workers’ daily came from a group of factory or office workers, we assumed to be a group contribution by the workers themselves.
How many such group contributions by workers were there in the first half of 1912?
Five hundred and four group contributions!
More than five hundred times, groups of workers made contributions for the founding and maintenance of their paper, either donating what they had earned in one day, or making a single contribution, or contributing repeatedly from time to time. In addition to individual workers and sympathisers, 504 groups of workers took a most active part in founding their newspaper. This figure is an unquestionable indication that a deep and conscious interest in a workers’ newspaper has been aroused among the mass of the workers—and not just in any workers’ paper, but in a workers’ democratic paper. Since the masses are so politically conscious and active, no difficulties or obstacles can frighten us. There are not, and cannot be, difficulties or obstacles which the political consciousness, activity and interest of the mass of the workers would be unable to overcome in some way or another.
Those 504 group contributions break down by months as follows:
|January 1912 . . . . . . . . . . . . .||14|
|February ” . . . . . . . . . . . . .||18|
|March ” . . . . . . . . . . . . .||76|
|April ” . . . . . . . . . . . . .||227|
|May ” . . . . . . . . . . . . .||135|
|June ” . . . . . . . . . . . . .||34|
|Six-month total . . . . . . . . .||504|
This little table makes clear, incidentally, the great importance of April and May as a period of radical change. From darkness to light, from passivity to activity, from action by individuals to action by the masses.
In January and February group contributions by the workers were as yet quite insignificant. Obviously, the activity was only just beginning. March showed, a noticeable and substantial rise. Seventy-six group contributions by workers in one month—this indicates at all events a serious movement among the workers, a tenacious effort by the masses to have their way at all costs, undeterred by having to make donations. This speaks of the workers’ deep confidence in their own strength and in the undertaking as a whole, in the trend of the projected newspaper, and so on. In March there was as yet no workers’ daily, which means that groups of workers were collecting money and giving it to Zvezda, as it were, on credit.
April brought an enormous leap that decided the matter. Two hundred and twenty-seven group contributions by workers in one month, an average of over seven contributions a day! The dam had been broken, and the founding of a workers’ daily paper was assured. Every group contribution means not merely the sum of five-kopek and ten kopek pieces, but something far more important—the sum of combined, massed energy, the determination of groups to support a workers’ newspaper, to disseminate and guide it, to bring it into being through their own participation.
The question may arise: were not the April contributions greatest after the 22nd, i.e., after Pravda had appeared? No, they were not. Before April 22, Zvezda reported 188 group contributions. Between the 22nd and the end of April, Pravda reported 39 group contributions. This means that during 21 days of April, before Pravda had appeared, there was an average of nine contributions a day, while the last nine days of April saw only four contributions a day by groups.
Two important conclusions follow from this:
Firstly, the workers were particularly active before the appearance of Pravda. By giving money “on credit”, showing their confidence in Zvezda, the workers expressed their determination to have their way.
Secondly, it is seen that it was the April effort of the workers that brought the workers’ newspaper, Pravda, into being. There can be no doubt as to the closest connection between the general upswing of the working-class movement (not in a narrow guild, narrow trade union sense, but with a scope affecting all the people) and the founding of the daily newspaper of the St. Petersburg worker democrats. We need something more than trade union publications, we need a political newspaper of our own—this is what the masses realised more and more in April; what we need is not just any political workers’ newspaper, but a newspaper of the foremost worker democrats; we need a newspaper not only to promote our working-class struggle, but also to provide a model and a beacon for the whole people.
In May the upswing was still very marked. Group contributions averaged more than four a day. On the one hand, it was an indication of the general upswing in April-May. On the other, the mass of the workers realised that, although the publication of a daily newspaper had already begun, its position would be particularly difficult at first and group support particularly necessary.
In June the number of group contributions fell below the March figure. Of course, the fact has to be taken into consideration that after the workers’ daily newspaper had begun to appear another form of assistance to the newspaper arose and acquired decisive significance, namely, subscription to it and its circulation among fellow-workers, acquaintances, countrymen, etc. The politically-conscious friends of Pravda do not limit themselves to subscribing to the paper but pass it on or send it to others as a sample, to make it known at other factories, in neighbouring flats or houses, in the countryside and so on. Unfortunately, we have no way of obtaining complete statistics on this kind of group assistance.
It will be most instructive to see how those 504 contributions by groups of workers are distributed among towns and factory localities. In what parts of Russia and how readily did the workers respond to the appeal to help in founding a workers’ daily newspaper?
Fortunately, data on this are available for all of the workers’ group contributions reported by Zvezda, Nevskaya Zvezda and Pravda.
In summing up these data, we must first of all single out St. Petersburg, which naturally has taken the lead in the matter of founding a workers’ newspaper, then fourteen towns and factory localities which sent in contributions from more than one group of workers, and lastly, all the other towns, thirty-five in all, which sent in only one group contribution each during the six months. This is the picture we obtain:
|Total of group
|St. Petersburg . . .||412|
|14 towns with 2 to 12 group contributions each . . .||57|
|35 towns with 1 group contribution each . . .||35|
|Total for 50 towns . . .||504|
This shows that almost the whole of Russia took an active part, to some extent or another, in founding a workers’ daily. Considering the difficulties which the circulation of the workers’ democratic press encounters in the provinces, it is amazing that so large a number of towns should have responded within six months to the appeal of the St. Petersburg workers.
Ninety-two group contributions by workers in forty-nine towns of Russia, besides the capital, is a very impressive figure, at least for a beginning. There can be no question here of chance, indifferent, passive givers; these are undoubtedly representatives of the proletarian masses, people united by conscious sympathy for the workers’ democratic movement although scattered throughout Russia.
We note that the list of provincial towns is headed by Kiev with 12 group contributions, then comes Yekaterinoslav with 8, while Moscow with 6 is only in the fourth place. This lag of Moscow and its entire area can be seen still more clearly from the following summary data on all the areas of Russia:
|St. Petersburg and vicinity . . . . . . . . . . . . .||415|
|South . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||51|
|Moscow and its area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||13|
|North and West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||12|
|Urals and Volga region . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||6|
|Caucasus, Siberia and Finland . . . . . . . . . . . . .||7|
|Total for Russia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||504|
These data may be interpreted as follows:
In terms of renewed activity of the worker democrats in Russia, proletarian St. Petersburg has already awakened and is at its glorious post. The South is awakening. Mother Moscow, however, and the rest of Russia are still asleep. It is time she awoke too.
The lag of the entire Moscow area becomes obvious when that area is compared with the other provincial areas. The South is farther from St. Petersburg, much farther away than Moscow. Nevertheless, the South, which has fewer industrial workers than the Moscow area, exceeds that area almost fourfold in the number of group contributions by workers.
Moscow seems to be lagging behind even the Urals and the Volga region, for the number of workers in Moscow and its area exceeds their number in the Urals and the Volga region not twice, but many times over. Yet Moscow and its area made only 13 group contributions against 6 in the Urals and the Volga region.
There are probably two special reasons for the lag of Moscow and its area. Firstly, the dominant industry here is the textile industry, in which the economic situation, i.e., market conditions and conditions for a more or less consider able increase in production, has been worse than, say, in metallurgy. That is why textile workers participated less in strikes and showed less interest in politics and in the workers’ democratic movement. Secondly, in the Moscow area there are more factories scattered over out-of-the-way localities and therefore less accessible to newspapers than in the big city.
In any case, we must undoubtedly draw a lesson from the data cited above. The closest attention must be paid to the circulation of the workers’ newspaper in Moscow. We cannot put up with the lag of Moscow. Every politically-conscious worker realises that St. Petersburg without Moscow is like one hand without the other.
The bulk of Russia’s factory workers is concentrated in Moscow and its area. In 1905, for instance, according to government statistics, there were 567,000 factory workers here, i.e., more than one-third of Russia’s total (1,660,000), and many more than in the St. Petersburg area (298,000). The Moscow area is therefore destined to take the first place for the number of readers and friends of a workers’ newspaper, for the number of politically-conscious representatives of the workers’ democratic movement. Moscow will, of course, have to have a workers’ daily newspaper of its own.
Meanwhile St. Petersburg must help it. Every morning the readers of Pravda should tell themselves and their friends: “Workers, remember the Muscovites!”
The above data should draw our attention from yet an other standpoint, one that is very important and urgent as regards our practical tasks. Everyone realises that a political newspaper is one of the basic conditions for the participation of any class of modern society in the political affairs of the country in general and in an election campaign in particular.
Thus, a newspaper is required by the workers in general, and for carrying out elections to the Fourth Duma in particular. The workers know very well that they can expect no good either from the Third or from the Fourth Duma. But we must take part in the elections, firstly, to rally and politically enlighten the mass of the workers during the elections, when party struggles and the entire political life will be stimulated and when the masses will learn politics in one way or other; and, secondly, to get our worker deputies into the Duma. Even in the most reactionary Duma, in a purely landlord one, worker deputies have done, and can do, a great deal for the working-class cause, provided they are true worker democrats, provided they are connected with the masses and the masses learn to direct them and check on their activity.
In the first half of 1912 all the political parties in Russia began, and virtually completed, what is known as the pre-election mobilisation of the party forces. Mobilisation is a military term. It means putting the army in a state of readiness for action. Just as an army is put in a state of readiness before a war, the reserves being called up and arms and ammunition distributed, so, before an election, all parties sum up their work, reaffirm their decisions on party views and slogans, rally their forces and prepare to fight all the other parties.
This work, we repeat, is virtually completed. The elections are only a few weeks off. During this time we can and must bend our energies to increase our influence on the voters, on the masses, but if a party (the party of any class) has not got ready in six months, nothing can help it any longer, for it is already a zero in the elections.
That is why the six months which our statistics cover are six months of decisive mobilisation of the workers’ forces prior to the Fourth Duma elections. They have been six months of mobilisation of all the forces of the worker democrats—of course, not only with regard to the Duma campaign, but we are for the moment devoting our attention to the latter.
A question arises at this point, a question raised recently by Nevskaya Zvezda No. 16, and Pravda No. 61. It concerns the so-called liquidators, who since January 1912 have been publishing the newspapers Zhivoye Dyelo and Nevsky Golos in St. Petersburg. The liquidators, who have their own separate newspapers, say that “agreement” has to be reached with them, the liquidators, if there is to be “unity” of the worker democrats in the elections, otherwise they try to frighten us with the prospect of “duplicate candidates”.
It seems that these attempts at intimidation have so far had very little success.
And this is quite understandable. How could anyone seriously take into account people who have rightly earned the name of liquidators and advocates of a liberal labour policy?
But perhaps there are, nevertheless, many workers who follow the erroneous, un-Social-Democratic views of this group of intellectuals? If so, ought we not to pay special attention to these workers? We now have objective, open and quite precise data for an answer to this question. As we know, throughout the first half of 1912 the liquidators showed particular vigour in attacking Pravda, Nevskaya Zvezda, Zvezda, and all opponents of liquidationism in general.
How successful were the liquidators among the workers? We can judge this from the contributions for a workers’ daily newspaper published in the liquidationist newspapers Zhivoye Dyelo and Nevsky Golos. The liquidators recognised the need for a daily very long ago—in 1911 or perhaps even 1910—and advocated the idea most energetically among their supporters. In February 1912 Zhivoye Dyelo, which was first issued on January 20, began to carry reports on the contributions it received for this purpose.
Let us single out from those contributions (which totalled 139.27 rubles in the first half of 1912) group contributions by workers, just as we did in the case of the non-liquidationist papers. Let us sum up all the sixteen issues of Zhivoye Dyelo and the five issues of Nevsky Golos (its issue No. 6 appeared in July), and even add contributions for the benefit of Zhivoye Dyelo itself (although we did not take data on such contributions from the non-liquidationist papers). We obtain the following data on the total of group contributions by workers in six months:
|January . . . . . . . . . .||14||0|
|February . . . . . . . . . .||18||0|
|March . . . . . . . . . .||76||7|
|April . . . . . . . . . .||227||8|
|May . . . . . . . . . .||135||0|
|June . . . . . . . . . .||34||0|
|Total . . . . . . . . . .||504||15|
And so, by dint of frantic effort, the group of liquidationist intellectuals succeeded in enlisting the support of 15 groups of workers in all!
Could one imagine a more shattering defeat of the liquidators since January 1912? Could one imagine a more specific proof of the fact that we are in the presence of a group of liquidationist intellectuals who are capable of publishing a semi-liberal magazine and newspaper, but totally lack any serious support among the proletarian masses?
Here, in addition, are data on the territorial distribution of the donations sent to the liquidators by groups of workers:
|St. Petersburg and vicinity . . . .||415||10|
|South . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||51||1|
|Moscow and its area . . . . . .||13||2|
|North and West . . . . . . . . .||12||1|
|Urals and Volga region . . . . . .||6||0|
|Caucasus, Siberia and Finland . . .||7||1|
|Total . . . . . . . . . . . .||504||15|
And so, the liquidators’ defeat in the South during the six-month period is even worse than in St. Petersburg.
These exact workers’ statistics, which were published openly for as long as six months in newspapers of opposed trends, definitely settle the question of “liquidationism”. One may revile the opponents of liquidationism and slander them as much as one pleases, but these exact data on group contributions by workers are irrefutable.
It is quite understandable now why neither Nevskaya Zvezda nor Pravda took the liquidators’ threat of “duplicate candidates” seriously. It would be ridiculous to take seriously threats from people who in six months of open struggle revealed that they amount to little more than zero. All the defenders of liquidationism have united in Zhivoye Dyelo and Nevsky Golos. And it took all of them together six months to win over fifteen groups of workers!
Liquidationism amounts to nil in the working-class movement; it is only strong among the liberal intelligentsia.
The data in Pravda on all kinds of workers’ contributions are, generally speaking, extremely interesting. They provide us, for the first time, with highly accurate data on the most diverse aspects of the working-class movement and the life of Russian worker democrats. We hope to return to the analysis of these data more than once.
At the moment, however, before we finish our survey of data on the contributions made by groups of workers for a daily newspaper, we must point out one practical conclusion.
Workers’ groups made 504 contributions to their press, to Zvezda and Pravda. The workers had absolutely no other aim in view except the founding and maintenance of their workers’ press. That is precisely why a simple truthful summary of these data for six months provides a most valuable picture of the life of worker democrats in Russia. The five- and ten-kopek pieces collected and marked “from a group of workers of such-and-such a factory” have made it possible also to appraise the workers’ sentiments, their class-consciousness, their unity, and their readiness to promote the working-class cause.
That is why this custom of group collections by the workers, brought into being by the upswing in April and May, should by all means be continued, developed and expanded, and it goes without saying that accounts of the collections are necessary too, such as have always been published in Pravda.
This custom is of vast importance from the standpoint of both the stability of the working-class press and the common interests of the worker democrats.
The working-class press needs to be developed and strengthened. And this requires money. Workers’ newspapers in Russia can be satisfactorily organised through persevering effort only on condition that the workers constantly arrange massive collections. There is a workers’ paper in America (Appeal to Reason) which has over half a million subscribers. That Russian worker, we would say, paraphrasing a well-known saying, is a poor worker indeed if he does not hope to overtake and surpass his American fellow-workers.
What is very much more important, however, is not the financial aspect of the matter, but something else. Let us assume that a hundred workers in different shops of a factory contribute one kopek each on pay-day to the workers’ newspaper. That will add up to two rubles a month. Let us assume, on the other hand, that ten well-paid workers meeting by chance collect ten rubles at once.
The former two rubles are worth more than the latter ten. This is so obvious to any worker that it does not have to be explained at length.
It should be made a custom for every worker to contribute one kopek to the workers’ newspaper every pay-day. Let subscriptions to the paper be taken as usual, and let those who can contribute more do so, as they have done in the past. It is very important, besides, to establish and spread the custom of “a kopek for the workers’ newspaper”.
The significance of such collections will depend above all on their being regularly held every pay-day, without interruption, and on an ever greater number of workers taking part in these regular collections. Accounts could be published in a simple form: “so-and-so many kopeks” would imply that so many workers at the given factory had contributed to the workers’ paper, and if there were any larger contributions, they could be stated as follows: “In addition, so-and-so many workers contributed so-and-so much.”
If this custom of a kopek for the workers’ newspaper becomes established, the workers of Russia will soon raise their papers to the proper standard. Workers’ papers should give more information, and of a more varied nature; they should have Sunday supplements and so on, and should have their correspondents in the Duma, in all Russia’s towns and in the major cities abroad. The workers’ newspaper should develop and improve steadily, which cannot be done unless the greatest possible number of workers regularly collect money for their press.
Monthly reports on the workers’ kopek will show everyone how the workers throughout Russia are shaking off their indifference and drowsiness, how they are awakening to an intelligent and cultured life—not in the official nor in the liberal sense of the term. It will be possible to see clearly how interest in the workers’ democratic movement is growing, and how the time is drawing near when Moscow and the other big cities will have workers’ papers of their own.
We have had enough of the domination of the bourgeois Kopeika! That unscrupulous, huckster-minded newspaper has reigned long enough. In a matter of six months, the workers of St. Petersburg have shown how tremendously successful joint collections by the workers can be. May their example and their initiative not be in vain. May the custom of a workers’ kopek for the workers’ newspaper develop and gain strength!
 Here is a complete list of the towns and localities: Vicinity of St. Petersburg: Kronstadt, Kolpino and Sestroretsk. South: Kharkov, 4 group contributions; Yekaterinoslav, 8; Ananyev, 2; Lugansk, 3; Kherson, Rostov-on-Dan, Pavlograd, Poltava; Kiev, 12; Astrakhan, 4; Chernigov; Yuzovka, 3; Minakovo, Shcherba Mine, Rykov Mine, Belgorod, Yelisavetgrad, Yekaterinodar; Mariupol, 2; Nizhne-Dneprovsk and Nakhichevan. Moscow area: Rodniki, 2; Ryazan; Tula, 2; Bezhetsk, 2. North: Archangel, 5; Vologda. West: Dvinsk, Vilna, Gomel, Riga, Lepaya and Mühlgrahen. Urals: Perm, Kyshtym, Minyar and Orenburg. Volga region: Sormovo and Balakovo Village. Caucasus: Baku, 2; Grozny and Tiflis. Siberia: Tyumen and Blagoveshchensk. Finland: Helsingfors. —Lenin
 Moscow, 2; Nakhichevan, Novonikolayevsk and Archangel, 1 each. —Lenin
 The article “The Results of Six Months’ Work” was written in the first half of July 1912. Lenin’s correspondence with Pravda concerning the publication of this article survived. In one of his letters to Pravda, Lenin asked the editors to print the article in four instalments, as separate feature articles, and agreed only to corrections made for censorship reasons. The article was published in the form suggested by Lenin.
 Lenin is referring to the Menshevik liquidators’ threat to nominate their own candidates at the Fourth Duma election for the worker curia as a counter to the Bolshevik candidates.
 Appeal to Reason—a newspaper published by the American Socialists, founded in Girard, Kansas, in 1895. It had no official connection with the American Socialist Party but propagated socialist ideas and was very popular among the workers. Among those who wrote for it was Eugene Debs.
 Gazeta-Kopeika (Kopek Newspaper)—a bourgeois daily of the yellow press type, published in St. Petersburg from 1908. It was closed down in 1918.