V. I.   Lenin

The Bourgeois Intelligentsia’s Methods of Struggle Against the Workers

Published: Prosveshcheniye No. 6, June 1914. Signed: V. Ilyin. Published according to the text in Prosveshcheniye.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 455-486.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Joe Fineberg
Transcription: R. Cymbala
HTML Markup: B. Baggins and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (1996). 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

In all capitalist Countries throughout the world, the bourgeoisie resorts to two methods in its struggle against the working-class movement and the workers’ parties. One method is that of violence, persecution, bans, and suppression. In its fundamentals, this is a feudal, medieval method. Everywhere there are sections and groups of the bourgeoisie—smaller in the advanced countries and larger in the backward ones—which prefer these methods, and in certain, highly critical moments in the workers’ struggle against wage-slavery, the entire bourgeoisie is agreed on the employment of such methods. Historical examples of such moments are provided by Chartism in England, and 1849 and 1871 in France.[11]

The other method the bourgeoisie employs against the movement is that of dividing the—workers, disrupting their ranks, bribing individual representatives or certain groups of the proletariat with the object of winning them over to its side. These are not feudal but purely bourgeois and modern methods, in keeping with the developed and civilised customs of capitalism, with the democratic system.

For the democratic system is a feature of bourgeois society, the most pure and perfect bourgeois feature,, in which the utmost freedom, scope and clarity of the, class struggle are combined with the utmost cunning, with ruses and subterfuges aimed at spreading the “ideological” influence of the bourgeoisie among the wage-slaves with the object of diverting them from their struggle against wage-slavery.

In keeping with Russia’s boundless backwardness, the feudal methods of combating the working-class movement are appallingly predominant in that country. After 1905,   however, considerable “progress” was to be noted in the employment of liberal and democratic methods to fool and corrupt the workers. Among the liberal “methods” we have, for example; the growth of nationalism, a stronger tendency to refurbish and revive religion “for the people” (both directly and indirectly in the form of developing idealistic, Kantian and Machist philosophy), the “successes” of bourgeois theories of political economy (combined with the labour theory of value, or substituted for it), etc., etc.

Among the democratic methods of fooling the workers and subjecting them to bourgeois ideology are the liquidationist-Narodnik-Cadet varieties. It is to these that we intend to draw our readers’ attention in the present article on certain topical events that have occurred on the fringe of the working-class movement.


It is said that history is fond of irony, of playing tricks with people, and mystifying them. In history this constantly happens to individuals, groups and trends that do not realise what they really stand for, i.e., fail to understand which class they really (and not in their imagination) gravitate towards. Whether this lack of understanding is genuine or hypocritical is a question that might interest the biographer of a particular individual, but to the student of politics this question is of secondary importance, to say the least.

The important thing is how history and politics expose groups and trends and reveal the bourgeois nature concealed behind their “pseudo-socialist” or “pseudo-Marxist” phraseology. In the epoch of bourgeois-democratic revolutions, scores of groups and trends have everywhere, all over the world, imagined themselves to be “socialists” and have posed as such (see, for example, the schools listed by Marx and Engels in Chapter III of the Communist Manifesto[12]). History has speedily exposed them in a matter of ten to twenty years, or even less.

Russia is now passing through just such a phase.

It is over ten years since the Economists, then their successors the Mensheviks, and then the Mensheviks’ successors—the   liquidators, began to fall away from the working-class movement.

The Mensheviks were especially vociferous in their assertions that the Bolsheviks had drawn close to the Narodniks....

And now we have before us a very definite alliance between the liquidators and the Narodniks directed against the working class and against the Bolsheviks, who have remained true to that class.

The alliance between the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia—liquidationist and Narodnik—against the workers has been developing spontaneously. At first it was stimulated by “practice”. No wonder people say that practice marches ahead of theory (especially in the case of those who are guided by a false theory). When the St. Petersburg workers removed the liquidators from office, expelled these representatives of bourgeois influence from the executives of the trade unions and from their responsible positions on the Insurance Boards, the liquidators found themselves in alliance with the Narodniks.

As soon as we came into the hail (where the election of the Insurance Board was taking place),” a sincere and naive Narodnik wrote in Stoikaya Mysl, issue No. 5, “the narrow and factional stand taken by the Pravdists at once became clear. But we did not lose hope. Together with the liquidators, we drew up a non-factional election list giving us one seat on the Board and two alternate seats.” (See Put Pravdy No. 38, March 16, 1914.)

Poor liquidators, what a cruel trick history has played on them! How relentlessly has their new “friend and ally” the Left Narodnik, exposed them!

The liquidators did not even manage to renounce their own very formal statements and resolutions of 1903 and other years, describing the Left Narodniks as bourgeois democrats!

History has swept away phrases, dispelled illusions and exposed the class nature of the groups. Both the Narodniks and the liquidators are groups of petty-bourgeois intellectuals, whom the Marxist workers have removed from the movement, and who are trying to sneak in again under false pretences.

They are using the catchword “factionalism” as a cloak, a word that the notorious Akimov, the leader of the Economists, used as a weapon against the Iskrists at the Second Party Congress in 1903. Akimov’s catchword, that of an extreme opportunist, was the only weapon left to the liquidators and Narodniks. That rag of a Sovremennik seemed to have come into the world with the deliberate purpose of showing up to all literate people how rotten, useless and rusty that weapon was.

This Sovremennik is quite a startling event in our democratic journalistic world. Side by side with the names of casual contributors (need drives all sorts of people into strange journals in order to earn a little money!), we find an obviously demonstrative combination of names intended to represent a combination of trends.

The liberal Bogucharsky; the Narodniks Sukhanov, Rakitnikov, B. Voronov, V. Chernov, and others; the liquidators Dan, Martov; Trotsky and Sher (Potresov’s name was announced in issue No. 66 of Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta next to that of Plekhanov, but for some reason it ... vanished); the Machists Bazarov and Lunacharsky, and last, G. V. Plekhanov, the principal hero of Yedinstvo[1] (spelt both with a small and a capital letter)—such are the ostentatious names that sparkle in the list of Sovremennik’s contributors. And fully in keeping with this, the highlight of the journal’s trend is the advocacy (by the Narodniks) of an alliance between the Narodniks and the “Marxists” (no joking!).

The reader can judge what this advocacy is from the articles penned by Mr. Sukhanov, the head of this journal. Here are some of the most important of this gentleman’s “ideas”.

The old cleavage, at all events, has disappeared. It is no longer possible to determine where Marxism ends and Narodism begins. Both Narodism and Marxism will be found on either side. And both sides are neither Marxist nor ‘Narodnik’. Indeed, could it, and can it, be otherwise? Can any twentieth-century collectivist think in any but the Marxist way? And can any socialist in Russia he anything but a Narodnik?”

The same thing should he said about the present-day Marxist agrarian programme as we said last time about the Narodnik agrarian   programme: in its method of stating the case it is a Marxist programme, but in its practical aims it is a Narodnik programme. It appeals to the ‘historical course of things’ and it strives to embody the slogan: land and freedom”. (No. 7, pp. 75–76.)

That will suffice, I think!

This Mr. Sukhanov publicly boasts that Plekhanov agrees with him. But Plekhanov is silent!

But let us examine Mr. Sukhanov’s line of argument. This new ally of Plekhanov and the liquidators has “liquidated” the difference between Marxism and Narodism on the ground that, as he claims, the practical aims of both trends embody the slogan: land and freedom.

This, wholly and literally, is an argument in defence of “unity” between the workers and the bourgeoisie. We might say, for example, that “in their practical aims” both the working class and the liberal bourgeoisie “strive to embody” the slogan of a constitution. From this, the clever Mr. Sukhanov should draw the conclusion that the cleavage into proletariat and bourgeoisie has been “liquidated” and that it is “impossible to determine where” proletarian democracy “ends” and bourgeois democracy begins.

Take the text of the Marxist agrarian programme. Sukhanov behaves like all liberal bourgeois who pick out a “practical” slogan (“Constitution”!) and declare that the difference between the socialist and the bourgeois world outlook is a matter of “abstract theory”! But we take the liberty of believing that the meaning and significance of practical slogans, the interests of which class these slogans serve, and how they serve them, are matters to which class-conscious workers and all those who take an intelligent interest in politics cannot remain indifferent.

We turn to the Marxist agrarian programme (which Mr. Sukhanov referred to in order to distort it out of all recognition) and at once find, next to practical points that are objects of controversy among Marxists (for example, municipalisation), other points that are indisputable.

With a view to eliminating survivals of the serf system, which are a direct and heavy burden upon the peasants, and in order to facilitate the free development of the class struggle in the rural districts” ... this is how the Marxist agrarian programme begins. To Mr. Sukhanov this is   unimportant “abstract theory”! Whether we want a constitution to facilitate the free development of the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie or to facilitate “social conciliation” between the workers and the capitalists is a matter of no importance; that is “abstract theory”. That is what all bourgeois would have us believe.

The bourgeois correctly expresses his class interests when he tries to persuade the workers of this. Mr. Sukhanov behaves entirely like a bourgeois when he relegates to the background the question as to what we need agrarian reforms for—for the purpose of facilitating the free development of the class struggle between the wage-workers and their masters, big and small, or for the purpose of facilitating “social conciliation” between them with the aid of bourgeois catchwords like “labour” economy?

A little further on we read in the Marxist agrarian programme that Marxists ... “will always and invariably oppose every attempt to check the economic progress”. As is known, that is the very reason why Marxists declare that every at tempt, however slight, to restrict the freedom of mobilisation (the buying, selling, mortgaging, etc.) of peasant land is a reactionary measure harmful to the workers and to social development as a whole.

The Narodniks—from the “Social-Cadet” Peshekhonov to the Left Narodniks of Smelaya Mysl—stand for restricting the freedom of mobilisation in one way or another. The Narodniks are the worst kind of reactionaries on this question, the Marxists say.

Mr. Sukhanov evades this point! He is reluctant to recall that it was this that made Plekhanov call the Narodniks “socialist-reactionaries” Mr. Sukhanov brushes “abstract theory” aside on the plea that he stands for “practice”, and he brushes aside “practice” (freedom to mobilise peasant land) on the general plea that he stands for the slogan of “land and freedom”.

The conclusion to be drawn is clear: Mr. Sukhanov is nothing more nor less than a bourgeois who is trying to obscure the class strife between workers and masters.

And it is these bourgeois that the Marxist agrarian programme refers to when it says:

In all cases and in every situation connected with democratic agrarian reform” (note: under all circumstances and in every situation, i.e., municipalisation, division, or any other likely form)... Marxists “make it their object to work steadily towards an independent class organisation of the rural proletariat, to explain to it the irreconcilable antagonism between its interests and those of the peasant bourgeoisie, to warn it against being beguiled by the petty farming system, which will never, as long as commodity production exists, be able to abolish poverty among the masses,” etc.

That is what the Marxist agrarian programme says. That is exactly what is said in that point of the programme which the Mensheviks accepted from the Bolsheviks’ draft at the Stockholm Congress, i.e., the point that is least disputed and most generally recognised among Marxists.

That is what it says in the most important point on the question of Narodism, which deals with the “small farming system

But Mr. Sukhanov passes this question over in complete silence!

Mr. Sukhanov has done away with the “old cleavage”, with the division of trends into Marxism and Narodism, by ignoring the clear and definite wording of the “Marxist agrarian programme” aimed against Narodism!

Without doubt, Mr. Sukhanov is a mere windbag—many of his kind haunt the drawing-rooms of Our liberal “society”—who has no idea of Marxism, and airily “does away” with this unimportant socialist division into Marxism and Narodism.

As a matter of fact, Marxism and Narodism are poles apart, both in theory and in practice. Marx’s theory is that of the development of capitalism and of the class struggle between the wage-workers and the master class. The theory of Narodism is the theory of the bourgeois white washing of capitalism with the aid of catchwords like “labour economy”; it is a theory which plays down, obscures and hinders the class struggle by means of these very same catchwords, by advocating restriction, of the mobilisation of the land, and so forth.

Historically, the depth of the gulf between Marxism and Narodism in Russia was revealed by practice—not of slogans, of course, for only brainless people can regard “slogans” as “practice”—but by the practice of the open and mass struggle of millions in 1905–07. This practice showed that Marxism had merged with the working-class movement and that Narodism had merged (or had begun to merge) with the movement of the petty-bourgeois peasantry (the Peasant Union,[13] the First and Second Duma elections, the peasant movement, and so forth).

Narodism stands for bourgeois democracy in Russia.

This, was proved by the half a century of evolution of this trend and by the open struggles of the millions in 1905–07. This was recognised repeatedly in the most emphatic and official manner by the supreme bodies of the “Marxist whole” from 1903 to 1907, and down to the Summer Conference of 1913.

The publicists’ alliance that we see today among the lenders of Narodism (Chernov, Rakitnikov and Sukhanov) and various Social-Democratic intellectualist factions that are either openly opposed to the “underground”, i. e., the workers’ party (the liquidators[2] Dan, Martov and Cherevanin) or else help these liquidationist workerless groups (Trotsky and Sher, Bazarov, Lunacharsky and Plekhanov), is in fact nothing more nor less than an alliance of bourgeois intellectuals directed against the workers.

We regard Pravdism as the expression of the workers’ unity on the basis of genuine recognition of the “underground” and of definite decisions that co-ordinate and guide tactics in the old spirit (the decisions of January 1912 and of February and the summer of 1913). It is a fact that between January 1, 1912 and May 13, 1914, Pravdism united 5,674 workers’ groups as against 1,421 united by the liquidators, and none, or almost none, by the Vperyod, Plekhanov, Trotsky and Sher, and other groups. (See Rabochy No. 1, “From the History of the Workers’ Press in Russia”, p. 19 and Trudovaya Pravda No,2, of May 30, 1914.[3] )

It is a fact that this workers’ unity is built on the firm basis of integral, complete and, in principle, consistent decisions on all questions affecting the lives of the Marxist workers. Here you have a whole, for four-fifths have an absolute right to represent, to act and speak on behalf of the “whole”.

But the Sovremennik alliance of the leaders of Narodism and all sorts of Social-Democratic workerless groups (with out definite tactics, without definite decisions, knowing only vacillations between the trend and the united body of Pravdism on the one hand, and the liquidators on the other)—this alliance sprang up spontaneously. Not one of the “Social-Democratic workerless groups” dared to come out in favour of such an alliance straightforwardly, clearly and openly—because the Summer Conference of 1913 expressed opposition to an alliance with the Narodniks! Not one of these groups, neither the liquidators, the Vperyod people, nor Plekhanov and Co., and Trotsky and Co., dared do this! All of them simply swam with the stream, carried along by their opposition to Pravdism and a desire to break or weaken it, and instinctively seeking assistance one from another against the four-fifths of the workers—the liquidators from Sukhanov and Chernov, Sukhanov and Chernov from Plekhanov, Plekhanov from these two, Trotsky also from them, and so forth. None of these groups displays anything like a uniform policy, tactics that can be called at all definite, or a frank declaration to the workers in defence of its alliance with the Narodniks.

It is a most unprincipled alliance of bourgeois intellectuals against the workers. Plekhanov is to be pitied for the disreputable company he finds himself in, but let us face the truth squarely. People can call the alliance of these groups “unity” if they wish to, but we call it a breakaway from the working-class whole, and the facts prove that our view is correct.


The arrival in Russia of Emile Vandervelde, the Chairman of the International Socialist Bureau, naturally gave a fillip to the discussion of the question of unity. E. Vandervelde’s   immediate mission was to collect information on this question, explore the ground and take all possible steps to promote unity. We know from press reports that he visited the editorial offices of both newspapers, the Marxist and liquidationist, and exchanged opinions with representatives of both these newspapers at a “banquet”.

Soon after Vandervelde returned to Brussels, an interview with the Chairman of the International Socialist Bureau appeared in the two principal French socialist dailies; the Paris Humanité[14] and the Brussels Peuple in their issues of Sunday, June 21, new style. In this interview the, differences among the Russian Social-Democrats were inaccurately formulated by Vandervelde. Some of them, he said, “want to organise legally and demand the right of association, while others want to secure the immediate proclamation ... of the ‘pillar’ [4] and the expropriation of the land.” Vandervelde called this difference “rather childish”.

We shall scarcely be wrong in assuming that this comment of Vandervelde’s will evoke a “rather good-natured” smile from class-conscious workers in Russia who read it. If “some” “want to organise legally”, that is, if they stand for an open, legal party, then it is obvious that others challenge this point, not by referring to the “pillar” or “pillars”, but by defending the “underground” and categorically refusing to take part in the “struggle for a legal party”. A difference of this kind is one that affects the Party’s very existence and—our highly esteemed comrade E. Vandervelde will forgive our saying so—there can be no “conciliation” here. It is impossible partly to abolish the “underground” and partly to substitute a legal party for it....

But Vandervelde did not only question people about the differences. On this matter both the Chairman and the Secretary of the International Socialist Bureau have collected in their briefcases a mass of documents, reports and letters from representatives of all and sundry, from real and from fictitious “leading bodies”. Vandervelde evidently decided to take advantage of his visit to St. Petersburg to collect certain factual data on the degree to which the different socialist (and “pseudo-socialist”) trends and groups in Russia   exercise mass influence. Vandervelde is a man with no little political experience, and of course he knows perfectly well that in politics in general and in the working-class movement in particular only those trends which exercise mass influence can be taken seriously.

On this question we find the following statement by Vandervelde in the two French socialist newspapers mentioned above: “The socialists in Russia have three daily newspapers. The revolutionaries [evidently this refers to the Left Narodniks] publish newspapers with a circulation of 10,000 to 12,000; the Leninists have a circulation of 35,000 to 40,000 and the moderates [moderés—evidently this refers to the liquidators] about 16,000.”

Here E. Vandervelde is slightly in error. As is well known, the Left-Narodnik newspaper is not a daily; it comes out three times a week. Moreover, according to our information, he has understated the maximum circulation of the Pravdist newspaper; it has reached 48,000. It would be desirable for exact information on this question (so important for a study of the working-class movement) to be collected for a whole month for example, if it is impossible to collect it for a year.

But what a great difference there is between Vandervelde, the true European, who attaches no importance to Asiatic gullibility or rule-of-thumb methods but collects the facts, and the Russian, liquidationist and liberal-bourgeois windbags, who pose as “Europeans”! For example, in an article published in the newspaper Rech and entitled “E. Vandervelde and the Russian Socialists” (No. 152, of June 7 [20], the day before the interview with Vandervelde appeared in Paris and Brussels), the official representatives of the Cadets wrote the following:

When, at a dinner-party, one of the Bolsheviks assured Vandervelde that they had no one to unite with, as ‘in the workshops, among the working class, all were already united around the single Pravdist banner, except for a mere handful of intellectuals’, he, of course, was guilty of an exaggerated polemical overstatement.”

This is a sample of a liquidationist and liberal lie clothed in glib and polished phrases.

An exaggerated polemical overstatement!” As if there are overstatements which are not exaggerations.... The   official Cadets not only write in an illiterate manner, but also deliberately deceive their readers. If the Bolsheviks were guilty of “a polemical overstatement” why don’t you, Cadet gentlemen—since you have raised this question in the press—quote facts that are not an overstatement and not polemical?

During the three or four days he spent in Russia, E. Vandervelde, who does not know Russian, managed to collect objective data. But the St. Petersburg Cadets, just like the St. Petersburg liquidators,[5] have never published any objective data in their newspapers, and groundlessly and hypocritically accuse the Pravdists of “overstatement”!

Let us take Vandervelde’s data. According to these, the weekly circulation of the Marxist, liquidationist and Narodnik newspapers respectively is as follows:

Marxist newspaper . . . . 240,000 64.5 71.41} 100%
Liquidationist . . . . . . 96,000 25.8 28.6}
Narodnik . . . . . . . . . 36,000 9.7  
  Total . . . . 372,000 100.0  

These are the objective data collected by the Chairman of the International Socialist Bureau. Even if we include the Narodniks, with whom only the liquidators, Machists and Plekhanov wish to “unite” but are afraid to say so openly, the Pravdists still have a majority of nearly two-thirds. Without counting the Narodniks, the Pravdists have a majority of 71.4 per cent, i.e., more than seven-tenths, over the liquidators!

But the newspapers are read and maintained not only by workers. The objective data on collections published in both the Marxist and liquidationist newspapers have shown that (between January 1 and May 13, 1914) the Pravdists had 80 per cent of the workers’ groups, the St. Petersburg percentage being as high as 86. Of the sum of 21,000 rubles collected by the Pravdists, over eight-tenths was from workers, whereas with the liquidators, more than half the   donations came from the bourgeoisie.[6] Hence, it has been fully and definitely proved that the circulation figures understate the predominance of the Pravdists, since the liquidationist newspaper is maintained by the bourgeoisie. And the no less objective returns of the Insurance Board elections show that during the election of the All-Russia Insurance Board the Bolsheviks had 47 delegates out of 57, i. e., 82.4 per cent.

In spreading among the masses, through the medium of their press, the accusation that the Pravdists “overstate” (and even “exaggeratedly overstate”), without quoting any objective data either on the circulation of the newspapers, or on the workers’ groups, or on the Insurance Board elections, the Cadets are deliberately lying, and elevating the liquidators.

The class interests of Russia’s liberal bourgeoisie compel it of course to defend the liquidators, whom the Marxists unanimously regard (the decision of 1910) as “vehicles of bourgeois influence on the proletariat”. But when, at the same time, the liberals try to pose as “impartial” people, their lie becomes particularly hypocritical and disgusting.

The Cadets’ utterances have one and only one political purpose, viz., to use the liquidators as vehicles of bourgeois influence on the workers.

There is no doubt,” Reels continues, “that genuine [!] working-class intellectuals, those workers who bore the brunt of Social-Democratic [! as appraised by the Cadets, who are experts in Social-Democracy] work in the most trying years, sympathise, not with the Bolsheviks, but with their opponents [the liquidators and Mensheviks]. To dissever these elements from the Russian workers’ party would so impoverish it intellectually that the Bolsheviks themselves would stand aghast at their own handiwork.”

This is what the Cadets write in a Rech editorial article.

And here, for comparison, is what L. M., the liquidators’ ideological leader, wrote in issue No. 3 of Nasha Zarya (1914, p. 68).

This is a revolt [of the Pravdist workers] against the Dementievs, Gvozdevs, Chirkins, Romanovs, Bulkins, Kabtsans and the rest, as   representatives of a whole—and, in the capitals, fairly large—section of the Marxist workers, who have been trying to ‘liquidate’ the childishly romantic stage of the Russian working-class movement.”

As you see, the similarity is complete. In Rech editorial articles the Cadets fully repeat in their own name the refrain that L. M. sings in Nasha Zarya. The limited circulations of Nasha Zarya and Nasha Likvidatorskaya Gazeta are supplemented by the Cadet newspapers, which vouch for the Social-Democracy of Bulkin, Chirkin and Co.

Mr. L. M. gives the names of a handful of liquidationist workers. We willingly repeat these names. All class-conscious workers in Russia will at once recognise these liberal workers, who have long been known for the struggle they have been waging against the “underground”, i. e., against the Party. Read what Bulkin wrote in this very same Nasha Zarya alongside of L. M. and you will see that both repudiate the “underground” and, to the delight of the liberals, abuse it.

And so we shall place on record and take cognisance of the fact that the “Dementievs, Gvozdevs, Chirkins, Romanovs, Bulkins and Kabtsans”, whom Mr. L. M. mentions, are, as the Cadets assure us, “genuine working-class intellectuals”. They are indeed genuine liberal workers! This is fully borne out by Bulkin’s article. We strongly advise class-conscious workers not yet familiar with the utterances of the above-mentioned liberal proletarians to read it.

The liberal Rech tries to scare us with the prospect of the “disseverance from the workers’ party” of these (as Rech assures us) Social-Democrats, of these Social-Democrats whom Rech eulogises.

But we shall reply merely with a smile, for it is common knowledge that this handful of men have cut themselves off by going over to the liberal-liquidators, and that this “disseverance” served as a guarantee and foundation for the formation of a genuine workers’ (not liberal-labour) party.

In the same editorial article flee/i praises the “civic courage of the calm and sometimes damping utterances” of the liquidators and liberal workers. Trust Rech and the liberals to praise them! The liberals in Russia, particularly after 1905, can exert no direct influence on the workers. They cannot help appreciating the liquidators, who under the guise of   Social-Democracy carry on the same liberal “damping” work and act as vehicles for this same “bourgeois influence on the proletariat” (see decision of 1910!).

The differences between them [the Social-Democratic groups] will not be soon removed,” Rech writes, “but while preserving their specific features they must unite, not carry their strife into the ranks of the workers, who are only just awakening to conscious political life. The split among the workers is a matter of great rejoicing to the reactionaries. This alone is enough to make honest people in both groups strive sincerely and seriously for unity.”

This is what Rech writes.

We are very glad not to belong to the liberal company of “honest” people and to those they regard as “honest”. We would consider it a dishonour to belong to such people. We are convinced that only utterly na\"ive or foolish people can believe in the “impartiality” of the liberal bourgeois, especially where the working-class movement for emancipation, i. e., its movement against the bourgeoisie, is concerned.

The Cadets are mistaken in thinking that the Russian workers are childishly naive, or that they are capable of believing the liberal bourgeoisie’s “impartial” appraisal of “honesty”. The liberal bourgeois regards the liquidators and their advocates as “honest” men because, and only because, liquidationism renders a political service to the bourgeoisie as a vehicle of bourgeois influence on the proletariat.

Accepting full responsibility for their acts, the united Marxists of Russia declared straightforwardly, openly and before all the workers of Russia, that a definite group of liquidators, the Nasha Zarya and Luck group, etc., stood beyond the pale of the Party. This declaration was made in January 1912. Since then, in the course of two-and-a-half years, 5,674 workers’ groups, as against 1,421 groups for the liquidators and all their supporters, i.e., four-fifths of the class-conscious workers of Russia, have aligned them selves with Pravdism, i. e., approved of the January decision. The liquidators acted in such a way that the workers moved away from them. Our decision has been confirmed by events and by the experience of the vast majority of the workers.

It is in their own selfish class interests that the liberals advocate “unity” (between the workers and the liquidators).   Only the liquidators’ breakaway from the workers’ party enabled the latter to weather the hard times with honour—we attach to this word a different meaning from what you Rech gentlemen do! The separation of the liquidators from the workers’ party gave the reactionaries cause, not for “rejoicing” but for sorrow, since the liquidators stood in the way of recognition of the old forms, the old “hierarchy”, the old decisions, etc., and they themselves, for two-and-a-half years, proved absolutely incapable of forming any kind of organisation whatsoever. The “August” (1912) bloc of the liquidators and their friends collapsed.

It was, only despite the liquidators, only without them and against them, that the workers were able to conduct that brilliant campaign of strikes, insurance elections and the establishment of newspapers which everywhere resulted in a four-fifths majority for the opponents of liquidationism.

By a “split” the liberals understand the removal from the workers’ ranks of the opponents of the “underground”, a handful of liquidationist intellectuals. By “unity” they under stand the maintenance of liquidationist influence over the workers.

We regard the matter differently. By “unity” we mean the fact of four-fifths of the workers having rallied around the old banner. By a split we mean the refusal of the liquidationist group to accept and bow to the will of the majority of the workers, thus flouting that will. Convinced by experience that during two-and-a-half years Pravdism has rallied four-fifths of the workers, we consider it necessary to advance towards still greater unity along the same path—from four-fifths to nine-tenths, and then to ten-tenths of the workers.

The difference in the positions and points of view of the proletariat and of the bourgeoisie gives rise to two opposite views regarding the liquidators—our view and that of the liberals.

How is Plekhanov’s position to be explained? In 1908 he broke with the liquidators so emphatically, and at one time upheld, in the press, the Party’s decisions in opposition to the liquidators with such firmness, that some people hoped that his vacillations had come to an end. Now, when four-fifths of the workers have rallied around Pravdism, Plekhanov   is beginning to vacillate again. The only possible explanation of his “position”, which, in effect, now fully coincides with that of the liberal Rech, is that it is due to his personal vacillations—a disease he contracted in 1903.

Like Rech, Plekhanov interprets “unity” to mean ensuring the liquidators’ influence over the workers in defiance of the will of the workers, in defiance of the Party’s decisions, in spite of the liquidators’ flouting of these decisions. Yesterday Plekhanov compared Mr. Potresov with Judas, and, quite rightly stated that the apostles were stronger without Judas than with him. Today, however, when the facts have definitely proved that the liquidators are entirely at one with Potresov and that they flout the Party’s decisions, Plekhanov turns towards the liquidators and advises the Pravdists not to talk to them in the “language of conquerors”! in other words, to put it more bluntly, the majority of the workers should refrain from demanding that their will be recognised and their decisions respected by the minority, which follows the lead of those who are deliberately violating the Party’s decisions!

The class-conscious workers will have to sadly admit that Plekhanov is suffering from another attack of the political disease of wavering and vacillation which he contracted ten years ago... and will ignore him.

There is, however, another explanation of Plekhanov’s vacillations, an explanation to which we give second place because it does Plekhanov even less credit. Groups of vacillating intellectuals inevitably spring up between the con tending trends—the liquidationist (which draws its social strength from the sympathy of the liberal bourgeoisie) and the Pravdist (which draws its strength from the class-consciousness and solidarity of the majority of the workers in Russia, who are awakening from their darkness and are seeing the light). These groups have no social force behind them, and can have no mass influence on the workers, because politically they are mere cyphers. Instead of a firm, clear line which attracts the workers and is confirmed by living experience, narrow circle diplomacy reigns in such groups. The absence of contact with the masses, the absence of historical roots in   the mass trends of Social-Democracy in Russia (Social-Democracy became a mass movement in Russia with the strikes of 1895), and the absence of a consistent, integral, clear and absolutely definite line tested by many years of experience, i. e., lack of answers to the questions of tactics, organisation and programme—such is the soil on which narrow circle diplomacy thrives, and such are its symptoms.

Plekhanov’s newspaper Yedinstvo, as a political body, reveals all these symptoms (like Trotsky’s Borba. Incidentally, let the reader ponder over the reasons for the disunity between these alleged “uniters”, Borba and Yedinstvo...). Deputy Buryanov, like every deputy who is comparatively “long-lived” among the very short-lived politicians in Russia, was for a long time a liquidator, but has now “vacillated” towards Plekhanov. Whither he has vacillated and for how long, he does not himself know. But for narrow circle diplomacy there is, of course, no greater stroke of luck than the acquisition of such a “vacillating” deputy, who aspires to “unity” between the Six who want to help the liquidators of the Party flout the will of the majority of the workers, and the Six who want to give effect to that will.

Imagine “unity” between the two Sixes independently of the will of the majority of the workers. You will say that it is unimaginable and monstrous, because deputies should perform the will of the majority! But what the proletariat regards as monstrous the liberals regard as a virtue, a boon, a blessing, honesty, and probably, even something sacred. (Struve, in Russkaya Mysl, will certainly argue tomorrow, and he will be supported in this by Berdayev, Izgoyev, Merezhkovsky and Co., that the Leninists are sinful “splitters”, while the liquidators and Plekhanov, who is today defending them from the “conqueror” workers, are holy instruments of the will of God.)

Accept for a moment this (in effect liberal) point of view of “unity” between the two Duma Sixes independently of the will of the majority of the workers. You will at once realise that it is in the narrow circle interests of Buryanov and the group of publicists who write for Yedinstvo to play upon the differences between the two Sixes, and use their differences in order to act the perpetual role of the “conciliator”!

Such a conciliator, be it Buryanov, Trotsky, Plekhanov, Slier, Chernov, Sukhanov, or anybody else, may say: On the one hand, the liquidationist Six are wrong, for they are liquidating the Party’s decisions. On the other hand, the Pravdist Six are wrong, because they talk to their colleagues in the unbecoming, improper, and sinful “language of conquerors”, claiming to do so on behalf of an alleged majority. Such a “conciliator” may even go to the length of calling this eclectic and intriguer’s conduct “dialectical” and lay claim to the title of “uniter”.... After all, there have been cases like this in our Party. Recall, for example, the part played by the Bundists and Tyszka at the Stockholm and London congresses, and in the period of 1906–11 in general.

Those were happy days for the narrow circle diplomats and sad ones for the workers’ party, days when the class-conscious workers had not yet rallied closely enough against those vehicles of bourgeois influence, the Economists and Mensheviks.

Those days are now passing. Rech, the Cadet organ, be wails the “carrying of strife into the ranks of the workers”. This is the point of view of the liberal gentleman. We welcome the “carrying of strife into the ranks of the workers”, for they and they alone will distinguish between “strife” and differences on principles; they will sort out these differences for themselves, form their own opinion and decide not “with whom to go, but where to go”,[7] i. e., their own definite and clear line, drawn up and tested by themselves.

That day is approaching and it has come. The mass of Pravdist workers can already distinguish between “strife” and differences; they have already sorted out these disagreements for themselves and have already determined their own line. The figures concerning the workers’ groups after two years of open struggle (1912 and 1913) have proved this in fact.

Narrow circle diplomacy is coming to an end.[8]  



Put Pravdy, issue No. 92 for May 21, 1914, published the resolution adopted by representatives of ten industrial organisations in the city of Moscow. This resolution very emphatically and sharply condemned Malinovsky’s disruptive resignation as a “crime”, then expressed complete confidence in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group in the Duma (“march firmly along your road—the working class is with you!”), and lastly, publicly denounced the liquidators of Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta as people who “throw scurrilous abuse at the retiring deputy”; these people’s conduct is compared with “the spreading of slanderous rumours by the Right press with the object of creating confusion in the ranks of the workers”.

It is the sacred duty of all those to whom the cause of labour is dear,” the representatives of the ten industrial organisations of Moscow stated in their resolution, “to rally their forces and offer united resistance to the slanderers.” “In reply, the working class will rally more closely around its representatives [i. e., the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group] and contemptuously ignore the slanderers.”

There is no need for us to quote any more of the numerous workers’ resolutions couched in similar terms, or the opinion of the Lettish workers’ newspaper,[9] etc. That would be need less repetition.

Let us see what happened.

Why did the class-conscious workers of Russia, through the representatives of ten industrial organisations in Moscow, and many others, publicly denounce the liquidators of   Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta as filthy slanderers, and call upon the working class contemptuously to ignore them?

What did Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta do?

It spread insidious rumours and insinuations to the effect that Malinovsky is an agent provocateur.

It did not name a single accuser. It did not quote a single definite fact. It did not submit a scrap of definitely formulated evidence, backed by references to at least Party pseudonyms, to objects of police raids, dates, or anything of the kind.

All we had was insidious rumours, an attempt to create a sensation out of Malinovsky’s “inexplicable” resignation from the Duma. But it was precisely for this inexplicable resignation, for this secret flight that the organised workers, the members of the workers’ party, severely censured Malinovsky.

The organised Marxist workers at once called together all their various local, trade union, Duma and all-Russia directing bodies, and straightforwardly and publicly declared to the proletariat and to the world at large: Malinovsky did not give us the reasons for his resignation, nor did he give us any warning of it. This inexplicable behaviour, this act of unprecedented insubordination, makes his conduct that of a deserter at a time when we are waging a grim, arduous and responsible class struggle. We have judged the deserter and ruthlessly condemned him. There is no more to be said about it. The case is closed.

One person is nothing. The class is everything. Stick to your guns. We are with you” (telegram sent by forty Moscow shop assistants to the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group. See Put Pravdy No. 86, May 14, 1914).

The case is closed. The organised workers saw it through to the end in an organised manner, then closed their ranks for further work. Forward, to work!

But intellectualist circles behave differently. The “inexplicable” affair does not induce them to deal with it in an organised manner (not a single leading body of the liquidators or of their friends came out with an open, straightforward and full appraisal of the merits of the case!) but rouses scandal-mongering interest. Ah, “here is something inexplicable!”—the gossips of intellectual society are intrigued.

The gossips have no facts whatever to go by. The scandal-mongers of Martov’s circle are incapable of organised action, of calling together a committee, collecting information of political interest or significance, of verifying, analysing, jointly discussing, and formulating an official and responsible decision for the guidance of the proletariat. The gossips are incapable of doing anything like that.

But then these intellectual gossips are past masters of the art of scandal-mongering, of going to or from Martov (or other filthy slanderers like him) and encouraging insidious rumours, or picking up and passing on insinuations! Whoever has been hut once in the company of these scandal-mongering intellectualist gossips will certainly (unless he is a gossip himself) retain for the rest of his life disgust for these despicable creatures.

Each to his own. Every social stratum has its own way of life, its own habits and inclinations. Every insect has its own weapon. Some insects fight by excreting a foul-smelling liquid.

The organised Marxist workers acted in an organised manner. They closed in an organised manner the case of the unsanctioned resignation of a former colleague, and carded on with their work, went on with the struggle in an organised manner. The liquidationist intellectualist gossips could not and did not go further than filthy gossip and slander.

The organised Marxist workers at once recognised these gossips, from the very first articles in Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, and at once gave them the appraisal they fully deserved: “filthy slander”, “contemptuously ignore them”. Not a shadow of belief in the “rumours” circulated by Martov and Dan; a firm determination to ignore them, to attach no importance to them.

Incidentally, the workers, who were indignant with the liquidators, referred in their resolutions to the liquidators in general. I believe it would have been far more correct to name Martov and Dan, as was done in Lenin’s telegram,[15] and in some of the articles and resolutions. We have no grounds for accusing all the liquidators and branding them publicly for indulging in filthy slander. But for ten years, beginning with their attempt to flout the will of the Second (1903) Party Congress, Martov and Dan have repeatedly shown their   “style” of fighting by means of insinuations and filthy slander. It was of no avail for these two individuals to try and hide behind the plea that somebody or other was divulging the names of the actual editors of Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta. Nowhere has a word or a sound been uttered about editorship, or actual editors.

But the slanderers, whom the workers’ party knows from its ten years of history, had to be named, and named they were.

The slanderers tried to bamboozle the inexperienced, or those utterly incapable of thinking for themselves, by means of the “plausible” demand for an “unofficial” trial. They pleaded ignorance of anything definite, asserted that they were not accusing anybody, that rumours were “not enough” to ground a charge on, for they could serve only as a basis for “investigation”!

But the entire corpus delicti—to use a legal term—of filthy slander consists in people circulating insidious, anonymous rumours in the press, without mentioning a single honest citizen, or a single reputable and responsible democratic body capable of vouching for the truth of these rumours!

That is the crux of the matter.

Martov and Dan have long been known and repeatedly exposed as slanderers. This has been spoken of dozens of times in the press abroad. When Martov, in collaboration with and on the responsibility of Dan, wrote the special libellous pamphlet, Saviours or Destroyers, even the mild and cautious Kautsky, who has of late been greatly given to making “concessions” to the liquidators, called it “disgusting”.

That is a fact long ago published in the press abroad.

And after this, Martov and Dan want us to agree to an investigation undertaken on their initiative, on the basis of their slanderous statements, and with the participation of the very groups that shield them!

That is downright impudence, and sheer stupidity on the part of the slanderers.

We do not believe a single word of Dan’s and Martov’s. We shall never agree to any “investigation” into insidious rumours with the participation of the liquidators and the groups that help them. This would mean covering up the   crime committed by Martov and Dan. We shall however thoroughly expose it to the working class.

When Martov and Dan, with their backers, the Bundists, Chkheidze and Co., the August bloc members, etc., directly or indirectly call upon us to conduct a joint “investigation” with them, we say in reply: “We do not trust Martov and Dan. We do not regard them as honest citizens. We shall treat them as despicable slanderers and nothing else.”

Let those who shield Dan and Martov, or the weak-kneed intellectuals who believe the “rumours” circulated by those gentlemen, bemoan the idea of a bourgeois court. That does not frighten us. Against the blackmailers, we are always and absolutely in favour of the bourgeois legality of a bourgeois court.

When a man says: “Give me a hundred rubles, otherwise I shall reveal the fact that you are unfaithful to your wife and are living with A.”—that is criminal blackmail. In such a case we are in favour of appealing to a bourgeois court.

When a Ann says: “Make political concessions to me, recognise me as an equal member of the Marxist body, or else I shall spread rumours about Malinovsky being an agent provocateur”—that is political blackmail.

In such a case we are in favour of appealing to a bourgeois court.

And this point of view was adopted by the workers themselves who, as soon as they read the very first articles of Dan and Martov, distrusted them, and did not say to themselves: “Really, if Martov and Dan write about these ‘rumours’ they must be true?” No, the workers grasped the point at once and said: “The working class will ignore filthy slander.”

Either make a direct charge backed by your signatures, so that a bourgeois court may convict and punish you (there are no other means of combating blackmail), or continue to carry the stigma of slanderers that the representatives of the ten workers’ industrial organisations have publicly placed upon you. That is the alternative that confronts you, Messrs. Martov and Dan!

A leading body investigated these rumours and pronounced them absurd. The workers of Russia trust this body, and it will utterly expose those who spread slander. Martov must not think that he will remain unexposed.

But, you will say, the political groups which defend the liquidators, or oven partly sympathise with them, do not trust our leading body. Of course they do not. We do not want them to trust us; and we shall not take a single step that might suggest that we place the slightest trust in them.

We say: Gentlemen, members of the groups that trust Martov and Dan, and want to “unite” with them, all of you August bloc people, Trotskyists, Vperyodists, Bundists, and so on, and so forth, please come out in the open and show your true colours! Either of two things, gentlemen:

Since you yourselves want to “unite” with Martov and Dan, and call upon the workers to do so, that shows that you (unlike us) trust the recognised leaders of the ideological political trend known as the liquidators. Since you trust them and consider it possible to “unite” with them, admit it and advocate it, then do something; don’t merely talk about it!

Either you call upon Dan and Martov (you trust them and they trust you) to disclose the source of the “rumours”, investigate them yourselves, and then publicly declare to the working class: We vouch for the fact that this is not the silly scandal of gossips, or the spiteful insinuations of angry liquidators, but weighty and serious evidence. When you do that and prove that the moment these rumours arose, the liquidationist, Plekhanovist, and other leading bodies examined them and immediately informed the Pravdist leading body, we shall answer: Gentlemen, we are convinced that you are mistaken and we shall prove that to you, but we admit that you have behaved like honest democrats.

Or else, you—leaders of “trends” and groups which call upon the workers to unite with the liquidators—hide behind the backs of Dan and Martov, allow them to utter as much slander as they please, refrain from calling upon them to disclose their sources, and do not take the trouble (and the political responsibility) to verify the truth of the rumours.

In that case we shall openly declare to the workers: Comrades, don’t you see that all these group leaders are, aiding and abetting these filthy slanderers?

We shall see what the workers will decide.

For the sake of illustration, we shall take a concrete case. When the leading body, which is recognised by four-fifths   of the class-conscious workers of Russia, declared that it had investigated the rumours and was absolutely convinced that they were utterly absurd (if not worse), two groups made statements in the press: (1) the group of Chkheidze, Chkhenkeli, Skobelev, Khaustov, Tulyakov, Mankov and Jagiello; (2) the August bloc people, i. e., the leading August body of the liquidators.

What did they say?

Only that they had taken no part in the investigation into the rumours conducted by the leading body of the Pravdists! That is all they said!

Let us consider this case.

Let us suppose, firstly, that instead of the group of Chkheidze and Co. we have honest democrats before us. Let us assume that these people had elected Malinovsky as the vice-chairman of their Duma group. Suddenly, rumours appear in the press, in the organ for which they are politically responsible, to the effect that Malinovsky is an agent provocateur!

Can there possibly be two opinions about what the elementary and bounden duty of all honest democrats should be under such circumstances?

Their duty should be immediately to appoint a committee from their own ranks or anybody else they please, immediately to investigate the source of these rumours, those who have spread them and when they did so; ascertain the authenticity and grounds of these rumours, and then declare publicly, straightforwardly and honestly to the working class: Comrades, we have worked, we have investigated and we vouch for the fact that this is a serious matter.

That is what honest democrats would do. But to say nothing, to refrain from any investigation, and to continue to bear responsibility for a press organ that spreads insidious rumours means sinking to the lowest depths of meanness and baseness, means behaving in a manner unworthy of an honest citizen.

Secondly, let us assume that instead of Chkheidze and Co. we have before us aiders and abettors of filthy slander, who either heard these insidious rumours from Martov or his friends but never thought of taking them seriously (for who among those that have anything to do with Social-Democratic   activity has not, scores of times, heard patently absurd “rumours” it would be ridiculous to pay attention to?) or who heard nothing at all, but, knowing the Dan and Martov “style”, preferred not to “get mixed up in such a complicated and troublesome business”[16] for fear of besmirching and disgracing themselves for the rest of their lives by openly expressing belief in the truth of the rumours spread in the press by Martov and Dan, but at the same time desired surreptitiously to shield the latter.

People like the ones we have taken in our second assumption would behave precisely in the way Chkheidze and Co. did.

The same applies fully to the August bloc men.

Let the workers themselves choose one of these two assumptions; let them examine and ponder over the conduct of Chkheidze and Co.

Now let us examine Plekhanov’s behaviour. In issue No. 2 of Yedinstvo he describes the liquidators’ articles on Malinovsky as “outrageous” and “disgusting”, but he adds, obviously as a reproach to the Pravdists: this is the fruit of your splitting tactics. “It’s no use crying over spilt milk!”

How is this behaviour of Plekhanov’s to be interpreted?

If, despite the plain statement by Dan and Martov that they regarded these rumours as true and authentic (otherwise they would not have demanded an investigation), Plekhanov describes the liquidators’ articles as outrageous and disgusting, it shows that he does not in the least trust Dan and Martov! It shows that he, too, regards them as filthy slanderers!

If that were not the case, what reasonable grounds would there have been for publicly describing as “disgusting”, articles written by people who desire (as they claim) to promote the cause of democracy and of the proletariat by exposing a grave and frightful evil, namely, agents provocateurs?

But if Plekhanov does not believe a single word of Martov’s and Dan’s, if he regards them as filthy slanderers, how can he blame us Pravdists for the methods of struggle employed by the liquidators who have been expelled from the Party! How can he write: “It’s no use crying over spilt milk.” This can only mean that he justifies Dan and Martov on the grounds of thesplit”!

That is monstrous, but it is a fact.

Plekhanov justifies filthy slanderers, whom he himself does not trust in the least, on the grounds that the Pravdists are to blame for having expelled these slanderers from the Party.

This behaviour of Plekhanov’s (as he has already been told publicly by a “group of Marxists” who were ready to believe him, but were soon disillusioned in him), is a diplomatic defence of blackmailers, i. e., a defence prompted by narrow circle diplomacy, which is objectively tantamount to encouraging the blackmailers to continue with their blackmailing.

Since we—Martov and Dan must be arguing—succeeded at once in getting the “anti-liquidationist” Plekhanov, who does not trust us, to blame the Pravdists, even indirectly, even partly, for driving us into this desperate struggle by their “split”, why ... why, let’s carry on! Let’s continue on the same lines. Plekhanov encourages us to hope that we shall obtain concessions as a reward for our blackmail![10]

The workers straightaway saw through Plekhanov s narrow circle diplomacy. This was proved by the opinion the Moscow workers expressed about issue No. 1 of Yedinstvo, and by the reply of the “group of Marxists” who were inclined to trust Plekhanov but later called him a “diplomat”.[17] Before very long Plekhanov’s narrow circle diplomacy will be utterly exposed.

In January 1912, representatives of the workers publicly and officially expelled from the Party a definite group of liquidators headed by Martov and Dan. Since then, in the course of two-and-a-half years, the workers of Russia have   approved of this decision by a four-fifths majority, and adopt ed it as their own. The blackmail and slander of Martov and Dan will not induce the workers to “make concessions”, but will convince them more firmly than ever that only without the liquidators and against them is it possible to build up the workers’ “entire Marxist body”, four-fifths of which has already been built.

Everybody is now talking about the growth of the Russian workers’ political consciousness, about the fact that they them selves are now handling all affairs connected with the workers’ party, and their greater maturity and independence after the revolution. Trotsky and Plekhanov also appeal to the workers against “intellectuals’ circles” or the “factionalism of the intellectuals”. But—and this is a remarkable circumstance!—as soon as mention is made of the objective facts showing which political trend the present-day class-conscious workers of Russia choose, approve of and create, Plekhanov, Trotsky and the liquidators all change their ground and shout: These workers, the Pravdist workers, who form the majority of the class-conscious workers in Russia, follow the lead of Pravdism only because they are “bewildered” (Borba No. 1, p. 6), are only “being swayed” by “demagogy”, or factionalism, etc., etc.

It follows, therefore, that the liquidators, Plekhanov, and Trotsky recognise the will of the majority of the class-conscious workers, not in the present, but in the future, only in the future event of the workers agreeing with them, with the liquidators, Plekhanov, and Trotsky!

What amusing subjectivism! What an amusing dread of objective facts! But if we are not to engage simply in mutual recriminations, accusing each other of intellectualist parochialism, we must take the present facts, the objective facts.

The political education of the workers, which everybody admits is making progress, is another thing which our conciliators, Plekhanov, Trotsky and Co., talk about with amusing subjectivism. Plekhanov and Trotsky are wavering between the two contending trends in the Social-Democratic class movement and are ascribing to the workers their own   subjective vacillations, saying: The fact that the workers participate in this conflict of trends is evidence of their ignorance; when they become more enlightened they will stop fighting, will cease to be “factional” (Plekhanov, like Trotsky, repeats “by force of habit” parrot-phrases such as “factionalism”, although the Pravdists put an end to “factionalism in January 1912, i. e., two-and-a-half years ago, by straight forwardly and openly expelling the liquidators).

The subjectivism of this appraisal of the situation by Plekhanov and Trotsky is most glaring. Turn to history—after all, there is no harm in a Marxist turning to the history of the movement!—and you will find a story of nearly twenty years’ struggle against the bourgeois trends of Economism (1895–1902), Menshevism (1903–08) and liquidationism (1908–14). There can be no doubt whatever about the unbroken connection and continuity between these three varieties of “bourgeois influence on the proletariat”. It is a historical fact that the advanced workers of Russia participated in this struggle and sided with the Iskrists against the Economists, with the Bolsheviks against the Mensheviks (as Levitsky himself was compelled to admit by the weight of objective facts), and lastly, with Pravdism against liquidationism.

The question arises: Does not this historical fact concerning the mass Social-Democratic workers’ movement point to something more important than the subjective and pious wishes of Plekhanov and Trotsky, who for the last ten years have been giving themselves credit for their failure to fall into step with the mass Social-Democratic workers’ trend?

The objective facts of the present period, taken from both sources—the liquidationist and Pravdist—as well as the history of the last twenty years, abundantly prove that the struggle against liquidationism and the victory achieved over it is precisely the result of the political education of the Russian workers and of the formation of a genuine workers’ party which does not yield to petty-bourgeois influences in a petty-bourgeois country.

Plekhanov and Trotsky, who offer the workers their subjective pious wishes for the avoidance of conflict (wishes which ignore both history and the mass trends among the Social-Democrats), look upon the political education of the   workers from the point of view of copy-book maxims. History has existed up to now, but now it has ceased to exist—as Marx wittily retorted in his criticism of Proudhon.[18] Up to now, for twenty years, the workers have received their political education solely in the course of the struggle against the bourgeois trend of Economism and against the later varieties of a similar trend, but now, after a couple of “copy-book” maxims about the harmfulness of conflicts, maxims served up by Plekhanov and Trotsky, history will cease, the mass roots of liquidationism (which owe their mass character to the support of the bourgeoisie) will vanish, mass Pravdism (which became a mass movement solely as a result of the “bewilderment” of the workers!) will vanish, and something “real” will arise.... The reasoning followed by Plekhanov and Trotsky is truly amusing!

The workers can obtain real political education only in the course of a sustained, consistent, all-out struggle of proletarian influences, aspirations and trends against bourgeois influences, aspirations and trends. Not even Trotsky will deny that liquidationism (like the Economism of 1895–1902) is a manifestation of bourgeois influence on the proletariat; as for Plekhanov, he himself, in the long-distant past, fully a year-and-a-half or two-and-a-half years ago, defended the Party decision which established this truth.

But nowhere in the world have bourgeois influences on the workers ever taken the form of ideological influences alone. When the bourgeoisie’s ideological influence on the workers declines, is undermined or weakened, the bourgeoisie everywhere and always resorts to the most outrageous lies and slander. And every time that Martov and Dan flouted the will of the majority of organised Marxists, every time they lacked the weapon of the ideological struggle, they resorted to the weapon of insinuation and slander.

Till now, however, they have done this in conditions of exile abroad, before a relatively limited “audience”, and often got away with it. But this time they have come out before tens of thousands of Russian workers and have immediately pulled up short. The “trick” of emigrants’ gossip and slander has missed fire. The workers have already proved politically educated enough to see at once the insincerity, the dishonesty of the utterances of Martov and Dan from the very   character of these utterances, and they have denounced them publicly, before the whole of Russia, as slanderers.

The advanced workers of Russia have taken another step forward along the road of political education by knocking out of the hands of one bourgeois group (the liquidators) the weapon of slander.

Neither the bourgeois alliance between Plekhanov and Trotsky, the liquidationist leaders, and the Narodniks, nor the efforts of the liberal press to proclaim it the duty of “honest” people to secure unity between the workers and those who want to liquidate the workers’ party, nor the campaign of slander conducted by Martov and Dan will check the growth and development, of proletarian solidarity with the ideas, programme, tactics and organisation of Pravdism.


[1] See Note 153.—Ed.

[2] How zealously Mr. Voronov defends the liquidators in Sovremennik! —Lenin

[3] See pp. 319–21 of this volume.—Ed.

[4] I.e., a democratic republic.—Ed.

[5] The liberal Kievskaya Mysl, for which a large number of liquidators write, published the interview with Vandervelde from Le Peuple, but omitted the circulation figures! (Kievskaya Mysl No. 159.) —Lenin

[6] See the article “The Working Class and Its Press” in Trudovaya Pravda, June 14. (See pp. 363–71 of this volume.—Ed.) —Lenin

[7] As it was magnificently expressed by the Moscow workers (see Rabochy No. 6, of May 29, 1914), who at once saw through the fraud of Plekhanov’s Yedinstvo. —Lenin

[8] The participation of the leaders of the various groups, such as the liquidators’ group (Dan and Martov), Plekhanov’s, Trotsky’s, and Lunacharsky’s groups, in the alliance with the Narodniks (Sovremennik)   is another sample of narrow circle diplomacy, for not one of them had the courage to say to the workers beforehand, plainly and straightforwardly, “I am joining this alliance for such and such a reason”. As the fruit of narrow circle diplomacy, Sovremennik is a still-born undertaking. —Lenin

[9]We do not think it is necessary to deal with the rumours that have been circulated by the press, or with the downright slander uttered against Malinovsky and against the whole group and its consistent line, because such slander is always spread for a dishonest purpose, and always proves false.” (Trudovaya Pravda No. 1, May 23, 1914.) —Lenin

[10] The reader will find that Trotsky engages in the same defence of blackmail as Plekhanov does, only in a more covert and cowardly form. In issue No. 6 of Borba, he, a contributor to Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, does not utter a word in condemnation of the “Campaign” conducted by Dan and Martov, but accuses the Pravdists of sowing “the poisonous seeds of hatred and splitting” (p. 44)! Thus, not slander, oh, no, but carrying out the Party’s decision concerning those who are vehicles of bourgeois influence and who hurl abuse at the “underground” must he regarded as “poison”. Very well, we shall place this on record. —Lenin

[11] Lenin is referring to the attack by the bourgeois counter-revolution against the working class and the democratic petty bourgeoisie in France, after the latter’s defeat in June 1849.

The reference to 1871 is about the rising of the Paris workers on March 18, 1871, as a result of which a government of the proletarian dictatorship—the Paris Commune—was created for the first time in history. The Commune was defeated. “The entire bourgeoisie of France, all the landlords, stockbrokers, factory owners, all the robbers, great and small, all the exploiters” united against it in savage fury. (See present edition, Vol. 17, pp. 140–41.) With active aid from Bismarck, this coalition started military operations against insurgent Paris, and, on winning victory, flooded the streets of the city with the blood of the people. No less than 30,000 Communards were killed and 50,000 arrested. Many of these were executed and thousands were condemned to penal servitude or exile.

The Paris Commune is dealt with in Lenin’s articles: “Plan of a Lecture on the Commune”, “Lessons of the Commune”, “In Memory of the Commune”, The State and Revolution, Ch. III. (See present edition, Vols. 8, 13, 17, 25.)

[12] See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, Moscow, 1952, pp. 54–64.

[13] The Peasant Union (The All-Russia Peasant Union)—a revolutionary-democratic organisation, which arose in 1905. Influenced by the Socialist-Revolutionaries and liberals, the Peasant Union   displayed a half-way policy, vacillations and indecision typical of the petty-bourgeoisie. While demanding the abolition of landlordism, the Union agreed to partial compensation for the land lords. In the words of Lenin, this was “organisation, sharing, of course, in a number of peasant prejudices, and susceptible to the petty-bourgeois illusions of the peasants (just like our Socialist-Revolutionaries); but it was undoubtedly, a real organisation of the masses, of ‘men of the soil’, unquestionably revolutionary at bottom, capable of employing genuinely revolutionary methods of struggle.” (See present edition, Vol. 10, pp. 258–59.) From the very outset of its activities the Peasant Union was subject to police repression and discontinued its activities early in 1907.

[14] L’Humanité—a daily newspaper founded in 1904 by Jean Jaurès as the organ of the French Socialist Party. The newspaper hailed the beginning of the revolution in Russia in 1905 and expressed the sympathy of the French people “with the Russian nation, which was effecting its 1789”. The newspaper organised collections in support of the Russian revolution. During the First World War (1914–18) the paper was controlled by the extreme Right wing of the French Socialist Party and took a chauvinist stand.

In 1918, Marcel Cachin, a prominent leader of the French and international labour movement, became political director and head of the newspaper. In 1918–20, the paper came out against the imperialist policy of the French Government and its sending of armed forces-against the Soviet Republic. In December 1920, after the split in the French Socialist Party and the formation of the Communist Party of France, the newspaper became the latter’s Central Organ.

At the beginning of World War II, in August 1939, the newspaper was banned by the French authorities and went underground. During the Nazi occupation of France (1940–44) the newspaper appeared illegally and played a tremendous role in the liberation of France.

In the post-war period the newspaper has been waging a cease less struggle for the country’s national independence, for unity of working-class action, for strengthening peace and friendship among the nations, and for democracy and social progress.

[15] Lenin’s telegram demanding that Martov and Dan should make a signed and open accusation and not engage in spreading dark rumours was published in the newspaper Rabochy No. 4, May 25, 1914.

[16] Lenin, with slight modifications, is quoting from the poem The Man of the Forties by the Russian poet Nekrasov.

[17] Following the slanderous anti-Bolshevik attacks by the liquidationist Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, a group of Marxists asked Plekhanov to make a statement to the International Socialist Bureau   condemning the newspaper’s behaviour. Though he strongly disapproved of this behaviour, Plekhanov refused to make the required statement, thereby justifying the slanderers. Thereupon, the “Group of Marxists” published a “Statement” in the newspaper Trudovaya Pravda on June 5 (18), 1914, in which Plekhanov’s conduct was characterised as “an act of high diplomacy”.

[18] See Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, p. 121.

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