V. I.   Lenin

Vekhi Contributors and Nationalism


Published: Prosveshcheniye No. 4, April 1913. Signed: V.. Published according to the Prosveshcheniye text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 72-73.
Translated: The Late George Hanna
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.README

A boring magazine, that Russkaya Mysl[1] There is only one interesting thing about it. Among its writers there are liberals who contribute to and support Vekhi,[2] the notorious renegade book in which yesterday’s champions of liberty poured mud and filth on the struggle of the masses for liberty, a book in which, furthermore, the democratic masses of workers and peasants were depicted as a herd led by “intellectuals”—an old trick used by all Black-Hundred supporters.

It was not mere chance that Russian liberal “educated society” turned against the revolution and against democracy; this was inevitable after 1905. The bourgeoisie was frightened by the independent action of the workers and the awakening of the peasants. The bourgeoisie, especially its richer section, anxious to preserve its position as exploiter, decided that reaction was better than revolution.

It was these selfish class interests of the money-bags that gave rise to the extensive and deep-going counter-revolutionary trend among the liberals, a trend against democracy, in defence of any kind of imperialism, nationalism and chauvinism, in defence of all obscurantism.

Class-conscious workers are not surprised at this apostasy, this defection, because the workers never did have a very high opinion of the liberals. It is, however, worth while examining what the liberal renegades are preaching, with what ideas they hope to fight democracy in general and Social-Democracy in particular.

Russian intellectual society,” writes Mr. Izgoyev in Russkaya Mysl “was, and, in the mass, still is convinced that the fundamental   question of European life is the proletariat’s struggle for socialism against the bourgeoisie....”

Mr. Izgoyev says that this idea is “preconceived and erroneous”; he points out that among the Poles in Germany struggling to maintain their nationality, a new middle stratum has been created and is growing up—“a democratic middle class”.

When Izgoyev speaks of “intellectuals” he actually means socialists and democrats. The liberal is not pleased that the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie is regarded as the fundamental question. The liberal strives to ignite and fan the flames of national struggle in order to divert attention from the serious questions of democracy and socialism.

Socialism actually does take first place among the “questions of European life” and the national struggle takes ninth place and becomes, furthermore, the weaker and less harmful the more consistently democracy functions. It is ridiculous even to compare the struggle of the proletariat for socialism, a world phenomenon, with the struggle of one of the oppressed nations of Eastern Europe against the reactionary bourgeoisie that oppresses it (and the Polish bourgeoisie willingly joins forces with the German bourgeoisie against the proletariat on every convenient occasion).


[1] Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought)—a monthly bourgeois liberal magazine that began publication in Moscow in 1880. After the 1905 Revolution it became the organ of the Right wing of the Cadet Party. In this period of its existence Lenin referred to it as “Black Hundred Thought”. The magazine was suppressed in mid-1918.

[2] Vekhi (Landmarks)—a symposium issued in Moscow in the spring of 1909 by counter-revolutionary bourgeois liberal journalists. In articles on the Russian intelligentsia, the Vekhi writers at tempted to denigrate the revolutionary-democratic traditions of the liberation movement in Russia and the views and activities of the prominent revolutionary democrats of the nineteenth century—V. Belinsky, N. Dobrolyubov, N. Chernyshevsky and D. Pisarev. They reviled the revolutionary movement of 1905 and thanked   the tsarist government for having saved the bourgeoisie from “the fury of the people with its bayonets and jails”.

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