V. I.   Lenin

The Liberal Bourgeoisie and the Liquidators

Published: Za Pravdu No. 20, October 26, 1913. Published according to the Za Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 451-453.
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

The Cadet Party, the leading party of the liberal bourgeoisie in Russia, has a number of men at its headquarters who have received a European education. In our day a man cannot be regarded as educated if he is not generally familiar with Marxism and the West-European working-class movement.

Since they have a large number of bourgeois intellectuals in their ranks, the Russian Cadets are, of course, familiar with Marxism; among them there are even some who were Marxists, or near-Marxists in their youth, but who grew “wiser” as they grew older and became liberal philistines.

All this explains the difference between the attitude of the old, European liberals, and that of the new, Russian liberals towards Social-Democracy. The former tried to prevent the emergence of Social-Democracy and denied its right to existence; the latter have been obliged to resign themselves to the fact: “We have no doubt,” says the leading article in Rech (No. 287), “that Social-Democracy is destined to become the open political party of the proletariat in Russia.” That is why the fight our liberals arc waging against Social-Democracy has assumed the form of a struggle in favour of opportunism in the ranks of Social-Democracy.

Impotent to prevent the rise and growth of Social-Democracy, our liberal bourgeois are doing their best to make it grow in the liberal way. Hence, the prolonged and systematic efforts of our Cadets to foster opportunism (and liquidationism in particular) in the ranks of the Social-Democrats; the liberals rightly regard this as the only way of retaining   their influence over the proletariat and of making the working class dependent upon the liberal bourgeoisie.

The liberals’ appraisal of the fight waged by the six workers’ deputies against the seven pro-liquidator deputies is therefore very instructive. As onlookers, the liberals are compelled candidly to admit the main fact: the seven are the “parliamentary elements of Social-Democracy”, they are a “party of parliamentary activity”, they have in their ranks “the entire intelligentsia of the Duma Social-Democrats”. Their line is that of the “evolution of Social-Democracy into an open parliamentary party”, a line connected with a special “trend in tactics”. “Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta is the organ of the Social-Democrat parliamentarians.”

Za Pravdu, on the contrary, is the “organ of the irreconcilables”, says Rech, who are not a party of parliamentary activity but are the “antithesis of such a party”.

The party of “intellectual deputies” versus “workers’ deputies”, such is Rech’s verdict. Rech says superciliously that it is impossible to tell whom the majority of the workers support, but it refutes itself in the very next breath by the following illuminating passage:

The longer the transition to this normal existence” (i.e., open, legal existence) “is delayed,” it says, “the more reason will there be to anticipate that the parliamentary majority of the Social-Democratic intellectuals will be compelled to yield to the non-parliamentary workers’ majority and to its present mood. We saw the deplorable consequences of such a divergence of trends at the end of 1905. And whatever one’s opinion may be of the future upshot of the present impasse, it is hardly likely that anyone will be found to justify the blunders committed by the inexperienced leaders of the spontaneous mass temper in those winter months.” This is what Rech writes.

We have stressed what interests us now particularly in this admission.

The non-parliamentary workers’ majority versus the “parliamentary majority of the Social-Democratic intellectuals”,—even the liberals perceive this as the issue in the controversy between the six and the seven.

The seven and Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta represent the majority of the self-styled Social-Democratic intelligentsia as opposed to the “non-parliamentary workers’ majority”, as opposed to the Party.

The old party has disappeared; we don’t need the old party; we will do without the party, we will make shift with one newspaper and activities in the Duma, and advocate the formation of an open party in the future—such, virtually, is the position of the seven and the position of all liquidators.

One can understand, therefore, why the liberals speak so kindly of the seven and of the liquidators, why they praise them for understanding parliamentary conditions, and refer to their tactics as “intricate, thoughtful and not oversimplified”. The seven and the liquidators carry liberal slogans into the ranks of the working class—why should not the liberals praise them? The liberals could not wish for anything better than the erection of a bulwark of intellectuals, parliamentarians and legalists against the old party, against the “non-parliamentary workers’ majority”.

Let this bulwark call itself Social-Democratic; its name is not important, what is important is its liberal-labour policy—that is the way the enlightened bourgeoisie argues, and from its point of view it argues quite correctly.

The liberals have realised (and have blurted out) what all class-conscious, advanced workers realised long ago—that the Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta group and the seven that follow its lead, are this bulwark of liberal intellectuals who have split off from the Social-Democratic Party, repudiate the Party, denounce its “underground” activities and pursue a systematic policy of concessions to bourgeois reformism, bourgeois nationalism, etc.

The unity of the “non-parliamentary workers’ majority”, which is the genuine Party majority and is really independent of the liberal bourgeoisie, is inconceivable unless this bulwark of intellectual liquidators of the workers’ party is vigorously combated.


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