V. I.   Lenin

The Split in the Russian Social-Democratic Duma Group[2]

Written: Written at the beginning of November 1913
Published: First published in Russian on January 21, 1934 in the newspaper Pravda No. 21. Published on December 24, 1913 in the newspaper Leipziger Volkszeitung No. 298. Translated from the German. Published according to the Pravda text, collated with the Leipziger Volkszeitung.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 480-484.
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

Dear Comrades,

In issue No. 266 of your newspaper, you published an article by your “Russian correspondent” on the split in the Russian Social-Democratic Duma group. Unfortunately, that article is far from objective and in a certain respect may mislead the German reader. We hope, Comrades, that you will respond to our request to publish this brief denial so that German workers and the fraternal German party will be correctly informed on these elementary facts.

1) Your Russian correspondent begins by saying that Social-Democracy in Russia “suffers from fragmentation into many organisations, groups and trends”. This in itself is absolutely untrue. Every Russian Social-Democrat and, in general, everyone interested in the historical struggle in Russia, knows that at present in the Russian working-class movement there are only two trends, two leading newspapers in St. Petersburg and two political lines—the Marxists and the liquidators. The former, i.e., the Marxists, publish in St. Petersburg the daily newspaper Za Pravda (very recently the government destroyed their second newspaper in Moscow Nash Put). The latter publish Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta in St. Petersburg. There are no other “trends” of any kind in the Russian working-class movement; even among Russian students abroad and among émigrés all other intermediate, so-called “trends” are disappearing. Every Russian Social-Democrat today has to choose between the Marxists and the liquidators.

2) Your “Russian correspondent” defines the difference between the Russian Marxists and the liquidators as being   the same as that between radicals and revisionists in Germany, as being the same as the difference “between a Bebel or a Ledebour on the one hand and a Frank or a David on the other”. But that is not quite true. The Russian liquidator, it goes without saying, supports the revisionist platform. He has adopted the worst features of West-European opportunism. Nevertheless, there is a substantial difference between the liquidators and the revisionists. A Frank or a David would never assert that the existence of the present German Social-Democratic Party and its organisation is “harmful”. Our liquidators, however, are struggling against the very existence of the Party, they are actually destroying (“liquidating”) its underground organisation, they struggle even against its decisions during (political) strikes, and as a reward for this activity enjoy the applause and whole-hearted support of the entire Russian bourgeoisie.

3) Your correspondent writes that “a political disagreement in the Duma group” between the six Marxists and the seven deputies with liquidator tendencies emerged only on one occasion. But that is not so. Disagreements occurred at every step, as has been incontrovertibly proved by the St. Petersburg working-class press. Things went so far that the seven, by a majority of one, voted to renounce the Programme of our Party. In the very first political declaration proclaimed from the Duma rostrum, the seven deputies renounced before the whole of Russia the Programme adopt ed at the Second Party Congress in 1903. To the joy of those nationalist elements (the Bund) that adhere to the liquidators, they declared that Russian Social-Democrats defend what is known as “cultural-national autonomy”. The Party, however, rejects this demand, which in Russia is supported by almost all bourgeois nationalists. When the Programme of the Party was being elaborated this demand was rejected by all Russian Social-Democrats. Quite recently Plekhanov described this demand as the “adaptation of socialism to nationalism”. The six Marxist deputies made a sharp protest against this betrayal of the Programme. The seven deputies, however, stuck to their decision, which was directed against the Party.

4) Your correspondent says it can only be proved “in directly” that the six Marxist deputies represent the majority   of the working class. This is absolutely untrue. We shall quote a few exact figures to show how many workers are represented by the six and how many by the seven.

Gubernia Name of Marxist
Number of workers
according to factory
St. Petersburg Badayev 197,000
Moscow Malinovsky 351,000
Vladimir Samoilov 205,000
Ekaterinoslav Petrovsky 118,000
Kostroma Shagov 91,000
Kharkov Muranov 46,000
    Total 1,008,000
Gubernia Other deputies Number of workers
according to factory
Warsaw Jagiello 78,000
Don Region Tulyakov 59,000
Ufa Khaustov 37,000
Taurida Buryanov 20,000
Irkutsk Mankov 13,000
Tiflis Chkheidze 5,000
Kars Region Chkhenkeli 2,000
    Total 214,000

The entire worker curia is represented by Marxist deputies. The six Marxist deputies represent a number of workers that is five times greater, by a conservative estimate, titan that represented by the seven who favour liquidationism.

Is this an “indirect” proof?

Here are some more figures on the number of workers’ groups supporting the legal press of the Marxists and of tile liquidators by the collection of funds.

  Pravda Moscow
Total for
1912 . . . . . . . . . . 620 5 625 89
1913 to April 1 . . . . 309 129 438 139
1913, from April to Oc-
tober . . . . . .
1,252 261 1,513 328
Totals for the two years 2,181 395 2,576 556

These figures were published in the St. Petersburg newspaper Za Pravdu No. 22,[1] and no one has disputed them. Your correspondent should have known them. Contributions from groups are always acknowledged in both newspapers, and the figures are regarded by our enemies in the bourgeois camp as evidence of the alignment of forces of the two trends.

Here, too, the figures show that the Marxists are supported by five tunes as many workers’ groups as the liquidators.

Can this be called “indirect” proof?

Unlike the legal Social-Democratic parties in Western Europe, we cannot at the present time publish the exact strength of our membership. Nevertheless, we also have direct proof of whom the workers support.

In the Second Duma, among the twenty-three deputies from the worker curia (all Social-Democrats) eleven (i.e., 47 per cent) were Bolsheviks. In the Third Duma, four out of eight, i.e., 50 per cent were Bolsheviks. In the Fourth Damn, six out of nine, i.e., 67 per cent. Perhaps these data on the elections to three Dumas in five years (1907–12) are also “indirect proofs”?

Now that a statement of the six against the seven has been published in the press, all trade unions that have expressed an opinion are on the side of the six deputies against the seven. Every day the Marxist newspaper in St. Petersburg publishes numerous resolutions of many workers, elected representatives, trade unions, and workers’ cultural and educational organisations that support the six deputies.

The six workers’ deputies, who represent the whole working class of Russia, have formed their own Social-Democratic workers’ group in the Duma, which in all respects submits to the will of worker Social-Democrats. The seven deputies act as an “independent” group. The six workers’ deputies have proposed to the seven an agreement for work in the Duma. Up to now the seven have bluntly rejected the proposal. An agreement, however, is inevitable.

Such is the true state of affairs.

Editorial Board of the Central Organ of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party—“Sotsial-Demokrat


[1] See pp. 461 and 465 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] This article was written in answer to a slanderous version of the split in the Russian Social-Democratic Duma group that was published unsigned in the German Social-Democratic Leipziger Volkszeitung on November 15 (N.S.), 1913.

Lenin tried to acquaint the International Social-Democratic movement, and especially the German Social-Democrats, with the true state of affairs in the working-class movement in Russia, but the opportunist leadership of the German Social-Democratic Party did not print articles by Bolsheviks in Vorw\"arts, its central organ. Leipziger Volkszeitung alone published the article after a long delay, which it explained as due to lack of space and “other reasons”.

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