V. I.   Lenin

Two Methods of Controversy and Struggle

Published: Za Pravdu No. 36, November 15, 1513. Published according to the Za Pravdu text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 492-494.
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

Some controversies and conflicts of opinion in the press help the reader to obtain a better understanding of political problems, to appreciate their importance more profoundly, and to solve them more confidently.

Other controversies, however, degenerate into recrimination, intrigues and squabbling.

The advanced workers, who are aware of the responsibility they bear for the progress of the work of educating and organising the proletariat, must keep careful watch to prevent the inevitable controversies, the inevitable conflict of opinions, from degenerating into recrimination, intrigues, squabbling and slander.

This is a question of the workers’ cause, the workers’ organisation, it is the most serious and important question of combating the slightest attempts at disruption. It can not be treated lightly. Those who have not learned to cut at the very roots of disruption are useless as organisers; and without an organisation the working class is nothing. No movement, including the working-class movement, is possible without debates, controversy and conflict of opinions; and no organisation is possible if resolute measures are not taken to prevent controversies from degenerating into recrimination and squabbling.

We invite class-conscious workers to examine from this angle the conflict between the six and the seven Social Democrat Duma deputies.

The six considered it their duty to respect the will and decisions of the Marxist conference. The Duma representatives of the proletariat are duty bound to obey the will of   the majority of the class-conscious, organised, Marxist workers outside the Duma.

This is a general principle, the general basis of all our views on the tasks of the working-class movement.

If this view is wrong it must be refuted and rejected. If it is correct, if it is the ABC without which no policy can be pursued, without which no organisation is possible, then this view must be accepted and firmly adhered to in spite of all the howling, outcries, attacks and slander.

Worker comrades! Debate this question. Arrange debates, talks and discussions to obtain absolute clarity on this question, but have no dealings with those who resort to recrimination instead of argument.

What did the liquidators say in reply to the first and fundamental argument of the six deputies?

Their only reply was abuse! They abused the conference; they abused the “underground” a hundred times over, and that is all.

Is that a reply? Is it not simply an attempt to disrupt, to wreck the organisation?

Things have gone so far that F. D. in No. 70, writes literally the following: “Where are the responsible bodies that promoted their candidatures and gave them their instructions?”

Worker comrades, think over what this question means! You will find that it is one worthy of ... those who carry out interrogations!... Will you not realise, F. D. and other liquidators, that we cannot argue with you when you put questions of that sort.

Examine the substance of the matter. Is the decision of the conference correct; does it correctly express the interests and views of the majority of the workers? Pravda answers this question by quoting a series of exact figures (see Za Pravdu, Tuesday, October 29, 1913).[1] These figures show that the Pravda trend enjoys the support of the absolute and indisputable majority of class-conscious workers, i.e., of those who take an active part in politics.

These figures compared the elections to the Second, Third and Fourth Dumas in the worker curia—-and they   referred to the number of workers represented by the six and the seven, and to the number of workers’ groups which openly assisted in collecting funds for the respective news papers, etc.

What did the liquidators say in reply to this argument on the substance of the question of the majority?

Abuse was their only reply. The liquidators do not, refute a single figure, not a single one. They do not even make an attempt to correct them, or quote others in place of them!

The thing is as clear as daylight. Those who evade precise data on the question of the majority run counter to the will of the majority; they are disruptors.

The seven Duma deputies are inclining towards liquidationism, for they sanction abuse of the “underground” and take a hand in flouting the will of the majority. This shows that the seven are non-Party. And no man in his senses will allow seven non-Party men to suppress Party decisions and the supporters of Party decisions by one vote.

No amount of liquidator abuse will refute this plain and simple fact.

The six deputies performed their duty, and the more the liquidators shout and rave the sooner will all workers and Marxists understand that the six are right, and that the establishment of equality and concoid with the non-Party Social-Democratic deputies in the State Duma is inevitable.


[1] See pp. 458 74 of this volume—Ed.

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