V. I. Lenin

Working-Class Party and Liberal Riders


Written: Written on May 27 (June 9), 1913
Published: First published in full in 1961 in Vol. 23 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 287.2-288.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
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...{1} Mr. Potresov quotes (rather distorts) G. V. Plekhanov’s article which appeared in August of 1905. At the time, there was a complete and formal split between the Bolsheviks, who united at the Third Congress of the Social-Democratic Party (London, May 1905), and the Mensheviks (a “conference” at Geneva at the same time).{2} The Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks had their own separate press organs both in 1905 and in the spring of 1906.

These are all generally known historical facts, and the rider, Mr. Potresov, speculates on their being forgotten.

He has to keep silent about them because they expose the rider’s impudence!

Neither of the then existing two Social-Democratic parties (and at the time Plekhanov was out of touch with both of them) had any party decision concerning the non-Party significance of G. V. Plekhanov’s article, or its liquidationism its destruction or denial of the Party!

That tells the whole story, Mr. Dodging and Hiding Liberal Rider.

Liquidationism is a trend condemned by formal Party decisions in December 1908 and again in January 1910 (unanimously by all trends).

No conference (or any other institution) of the Party ever “read” any liquidationism into Plekhanov’s article. That tells the whole story. Mr. A. N. Potresov clutches at an old article and presents a sheaf of quotations in order to hush up the fact that the whole Party condemned him, Potresov, his liquidationist trend.

Riders from among the liberal intelligentsia, like Mr. Potresov, are full of a grand, aristocratic contempt for working-class party decisions. These riders ignore party decisions!

And the working-class party ignores the liberal Luch and the liberal Mr. Potresov, who “reads” liquidationism into Plekhanov’s old articles, as Mr. V. Chernov used to “read” Narodism into Liebknecht.

Mr. Potresov is pathetic and ridiculous in his vain efforts to talk his way out of the fact that liquidationism has been condemned by the Party.

It is only idle talk on the part of Mr. Potresov and Luch about taking Plekhanov to court, it is only an effort to fool the reader. They are well aware that everyone will b l a m e them and will laugh at their vain efforts to accuse Plekhanov.


{1} The first page of the MS. has not been found.—Ed.

{2} The Geneva conference of Mensheviks was held simultaneously with the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in April 1905. In view of the small number of participants (only delegates from nine committees) the Mensheviks declared it to be a conference of Party functionaries.

Its decisions showed that the Mensheviks did not set themselves the task of carrying forward the revolution. They denied the hegemony of the proletariat in the revolution and the policy of alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry. They believed the liberal bourgeoisie to be the leader in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, which was to take over after the revolution won out. The Mensheviks denied the need for a provisional revolutionary government and participation of Social-Democrats in it. In its decisions on an armed uprising, the conference failed to set out the practical tasks facing the proletariat. The Mensheviks believed that the proletarian party should not take part in preparing the uprising or ear of scaring off the bourgeoisie. The conference came out against Social-Democratic participation in a provisional revolutionary government. It did not set the task of organising revolutionary peasant committees to seize the landed estates, leaving the solution of the agrarian problem to a future Constituent Assembly. The conference decisions on the organisational question, expressed in the “organisational Rules”, dragged the Party back from the Second Congress to organisational fragmentation and clannishness. Lenin exposed the opportunist character of these decisions and subjected them to withering criticism in his article “A Third Step Back”, his work Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, and in the “Preface to the Pamphlet Workers on the Spill in the Party” (see present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 544–54, Vol. 9, pp. 15–140 and 163–68). p. 287

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