V. I.   Lenin

The Question of Unity

Published: Pravda No. 39, February 16, 1913. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 553-554.
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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The letter which Shagov, the Kostroma workers’ deputy, wrote to Pravda (No. 22–226) indicated very clearly the terms on which the workers think Social-Democratic unity feasible. Letters from a number of other deputies for the worker curia (Pravda Nos. 21–28) confirmed this view. The workers themselves must bring about unity “from below”. The liquidators should not fight the underground but should form part of it.

It is amazing that after the question has been posed so clearly and squarely we come across Trotsky’s old, pompous but perfectly meaningless phrases in Luch No. 27 (113). Not a word on the substance of the matter! Not the slightest attempt to cite precise facts and analyse them thoroughly! Not a hint of the real terms of unity! Empty exclamations, high-flown words, and haughty sallies against opponents whom the author does not name, and impressively important assurances—that is Trotsky’s total stock-in-trade.

That won’t do, gentlemen. You speak “to the workers” as though they were children, now trying to scare them with terrible words (“the shackles of the circle method”, “monstrous polemics”, “the feudal-serf-owning period of our Party history”), now “coaxing” them, as one coaxes small children, without either convincing them or explaining matters to them.

The workers will not be intimidated or coaxed. They themselves will compare Luch and Pravda; they will read, for example, the leading article in Luch No. 101 (“The Mass of the Workers and the Underground”), and simply shrug off Trotsky’s verbiage.

In practice the question of the underground, alleged to be one of principle, is decided by all Social-Democratic groups absolutely alike....” Trotsky wrote in italics. The St. Petersburg workers know from experience that that is not, so. Workers in any corner of Russia, as soon as they read the Luch leading article mentioned above, will see that Trotsky is departing from the truth.

It is ridiculous and absurd to affirm,” we read in his article, “that there is an irreconcilable contradiction between the political tendencies of Luch and Pravda.” Believe us, my dear author, that neither the word “absurd” nor the word “ridiculous” can frighten the workers, who will ask you to speak to them as to adults on the substance of the matter.

just expound those tendencies and prove that the leading article in Luch No. 101 can be “reconciled” with Social-Democracy!

You cannot satisfy the workers with mere phrases, no matter how “conciliatory” or honeyed.

Our historic factions. Bolshevism and Menshevism, are purely intellectualist formations in origin,” wrote Trotsky.

This is the repetition of a liberal tale. In fact, however, the whole of Russian reality confronted the workers with the issue of the attitude to the liberals and the peasantry. Even if there had been no intelligentsia, the workers could not have evaded the issue of whether they should follow the liberals or lead the peasantry against the liberals.

It is to the advantage of the liberals to pretend that this fundamental basis of the differences was introduced by “intellectuals”. But Trotsky merely disgraces himself by echoing a liberal tale.


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