V. I.   Lenin

The Merchant Salazkin and the Writer F. D.

Published: Severnaya Pravda No. 26, September 1, 1913. Signed: Para-conciliator. Published according to the Severnaya Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 340-342.
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 speech delivered by the merchant Salazkin is undoubtedly of great social significance. Gone for ever is that historical epoch, the epoch of “primitive accumulation”, in which the landed nobility grumbled and appealed for “faith”, and the merchant bowed and expressed his gratitude.

Gone, too, is the first period of the June Third, counter revolutionary epoch, when the merchant, terrified to death by the movement of the masses, gazed upon Stolypin with admiration and tender emotion. The second period has begun, the period of working-class upswing, “social” revival and merchant liberalism.

A correct appraisal of this liberalism, something between Octobrism and the Cadet Party, is to an increasing extent being forced (by the course of events) even upon petty-bourgeois democrats. Severnaya Pravda recently quoted the just arguments of Kievskaya Mysl (see Severnaya Pravda No. 9,[1] August 11) on the separation of liberalism from democracy, on the rapprochement between the liberalism of the Cadets—to say nothing of the “Progressists”—and reactionary nationalism.

There are, however, some writers who lag behind even petty-bourgeois democracy because they are held in bondage by their own opportunist doctrine. At the head of these writers, of course, stands the liquidator F. D.

In his appraisal of Salazkin’s speech, F. D. wrote (Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta, August 23) that the Black Hundreds were right to raise an outcry against Salazkin, “but the   Left-wing [meaning liberal] press was also right in pointing out the organic inability of the bureaucracy to meet the pressing requirements of the country. Rossiya alone was not right.”

Salazkin’s speech is not to be explained by love for radical programmes,” says F. D., “but by the absence of law and order. The merchant has revolted.... And if such is the case, no matter how hostile the merchant may be towards radical programmes he will be compelled, if not today then tomorrow, to combine his efforts with those of the more radical sections of the country.”

Such is F. D.’s appraisal. He goes no further than combining liberalism with the workers.

Very original! F. D. does not notice the combination of the efforts of the merchant with those of the Black-Hundred landowner. He does not notice that Salazkin is upholding the “fundamentals” of the June Third regime and within the framework of those fundamentals wants to push Purishkevich into the background.

Nor does he notice the difference between the reformist position of the liberals and Salazkin, and the position of the working class, which is alien to the wretched narrowness of reformism. The writer F. D. has overlooked the substance of the present difference between democracy and liberalism.

F. D. is interested in one thing alone—“combining” the liberals and the workers. An interesting ... speciality!

Regard F. D.’s article as a political document, regard it from the “all-Europe” point of view (for, indeed, F. D. and his friends are fond of talking about their Europeanism...). You will see that F. D. shares in full the position of Lloyd George and the extreme opportunists of the “workers’ party” (on a British scale); or the position of Combes and Jaurès (on a French scale); or the position of the Berliner Tageblatt, the organ of the Left liberals in Berlin, and of Bernstein, Kolb and Vollmar.

There is nothing in F. D.’s article that is unacceptable to a Left Cadet who is doing his best “to combine” “the efforts of the Salazkins with those of the more radical sections of the country”.

The Marxist tells the workers—take advantage of the disagreement between the Salazkins and the Purishkeviches by neutralising the vacillation of the Salazkins, who are   much more closely “combined” with the Purishkeviches than with the opposition. The liberal tells the workers—the Salazkins will be compelled to combine their efforts with yours.

How comes it that the writer F. D. forgot to explain the class roots of the reformism of the liberals in general and of Salazkin in particular? How did F. D. even forget to point out the whole absurd, ridiculous, ugly narrowness of the reformism of Salazkin-type merchants under Russian conditions?

Was it not because the writer, despite his Marxist “signboard”, upholds the very same reformist point of view that the merchant Salazkin holds in conformity with the interests of his class and his progressist, i.e., semi-Octobrist, signboard?


[1] See pp. 302–04 of this volume.—Ed.

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