Th. Rothstein February 1905
Source: The Social Democrat, Vol. IX No. 2, February, 1905, pp. 75-90;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
In the first flush of enthusiasm for the vast generalisations of Marx it was with many a Socialist student a favourite pastime to draw comparisons between the work of Marx and that of other great thinkers and scientific discoverers, such as Newton or Darwin. See, they would say, how fully the discovery of Marx is the counterpart of that of Darwin; and they would then enter into a more or less ingenious interpretation of the work of the two thinkers and prove to their own and their readers’ satisfaction that what had been done by one of them in one field is exactly what the other has done in another. No doubt, these efforts were very laudable. They sprang from a natural desire, present in every new convert, to enhance the greatness of his teacher by proving that he is as great as somebody else whose greatness is acknowledged, and at the same time they largely assisted the enthusiastic student in making it clear to himself what really Marx has done. Nevertheless, this kind of comparison rightly appears to us now as trite – indeed, as childish. To our mind the reputation of Marx and the value of his generalisations are by now as firmly established as those of any great thinker; and as for elucidating his work in the light of that of somebody else, we know now that such a procedure may prove, in the hands of one who is clever at such things, ingenious, but will hardly at any time be scientific.
Still, even these essentially futile methods led sometimes to very true remarks, and one of them was that Marx is the Copernicus of sociology. Just, it was said, as Copernicus by his discovery of the laws of movement of the heavenly bodies constituted astronomy a science – and the essential characteristic of science is the power it gives to predict events – so did Marx constitute sociology a science by his discovery of the laws of development of society which now allows us to foresee in advance social events. That remark, if we remember rightly, was originally made by Engels himself, and its purport has never been so brilliantly borne out by events as on the fateful day of January 22. On that day the proletariat of St. Petersburg sealed with their own blood the claim of Marxist sociology to the title of science, and proved that in the discoveries made by Marx we at last possess a means of social prognostication of wonderful exactitude.
It may, no doubt, appear to some endowed with a highly “ethical” nature, rather callous or, at least unpardonably doctrinaire-like, to find no better commentary to make on an event of world-wide importance, when human blood is still fresh on the pavement and every human heart alive is still beating with compassion, with horror, with hope and with a desire to help the struggle, than that it has vindicated a favourite scientific theory, and that it exactly fits in with a certain party-doctrine! Have you – it may be asked – nothing more important to “read out” from the tremendous upheaval which the Russian people is now going through than that your Marxist “shibboleths” have proved to be right? We will frankly answer – No! If historical destiny is at all amenable to human effort it is only on the condition that this effort is itself in accord with the trend of that destiny; and if, as the events have proved with an astonishing clearness, the trend has been prognosticated with an unparalleled accuracy down to its very details, it is the supreme duty of everyone who wishes to see the destiny realised, to emphasise that fact so as to shape his effort accordingly. To the average bourgeois politician, for instance, to whom proletarian movements are for ever a book sealed with seven seals, the present movement in Russia may well appear as one revolt amongst many that have preceded it in the past, and may yet succeed it in the future. In 1825 we saw the revolt of the nobility (the so-called “Decembrists”); at the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties we saw the revolt of the educated classes; as recently as 1902 we saw the revolt of the peasantry in the Southern provinces of Russia. All these movements broke down against the power of autocracy and passed away almost without a trace. What reason, then, have we to expect that this revolt of the proletariat in 1905 may prove more durable and end in a victory for the Revolution? On the other hand, those of our own ranks who know that the risings of the proletariat have a different meaning to those of other classes, since they mark certain stages in the upward social movement which is irresistible – these, I say, may, indeed, attach a deeper sense to the present upheaval in Russia, but if they at the same time do not know its full significance as a case of theoretical prognosis, they will neither know its full importance as a phenomenon of practical reality. It is only those to whom the present movement has come as the fulfilment of a scientific forecast, apparently upheld against all facts, that are in a position to appreciate its full significance, and consequently to lead it to its final fruition.
Let us then see how this forecast was first made and how it came about to be true.
Ever since the “forties” Russian thought – not only Socialist and revolutionary, but also Conservative and reactionary – was dominated by the idea that the Russian people had an historical mission of its own, an historical destiny totally different and, indeed, superior to that of the “West.” This notion was at first merely an expression of the Nationalist spirit prevailing at the time, and as such was entertained by the Conservatives (the so-called “Slavophils”), and combatted by the Radicals (the so-called “Westerners”). Gradually, however, the Radicals, too, were gained over to this view, thanks to the discovery of the peasant village-community coupled with the awakened sense of wrong done to the people by the system of serfdom. It was then found out that the people of Russia, that is the peasantry, possess in their village communities an institution of unlimited possibilities – a veritable treasure such as no other people can show – and that the educated classes, those who profess their love for the people, could do nothing better than to lay aside their vaunted civilisation and superiority and go to learn wisdom from that great child, the Russian peasant. The “Westerners” thus fell into line with the Slavophils, with this difference only, that whilst for the latter the peasant community was the basis – the immutable basis – of autocracy and orthodoxy, it was for the former the Socialist microcosmos, the embryo of the Socialist commonwealth. The celebrated Herzen, as late as 1861, wrote of the two schools of Russian thought:-
We both had one love, though not the same. We both from our early childhood had a strong, inexplicable, physiological, passionate feeling, which they regarded as a remembrance, and we as a prophecy – a feeling of unlimited, all-embracing love for the Russian people, Russian system of life, Russian system of thought. And we, like Janus, or like the double-headed eagle, looked in different directions, whilst at the same time there was only one heart beating..... They have bestowed all their love, all their tenderness on the subjected mother. With us, on the contrary, the ties have loosened. We were brought up by a French governess, and we only ascertained late in life that it was not she who is our mother, but the despised peasant-woman. And that only we guessed by the likeness of our features .... We began to feel a strong love for her, but her life was too narrow .... We knew that she had no bright memories in the past, but we also knew that her happiness is in the future, that under her heart she carried a child – our little brother – to whom we cede our primogeniture without a mess of pottage.
The same Herzen, than whom nobody better expressed the ideas and aspirations of the time, points out in another connection, how the very backwardness of Russian life may, with the existence of the embryonic Socialist State in its midst, permit Russia, “without repeating the innumerable absurdities of the West,” to skip over the intermediate stages and arrive straight at the Communist society.
The transition (he says) of the less perfect species to the more perfect is, generally speaking, not performed by the development of the least imperfect species into the more perfect. Such species are good enough as they are, and so they remain where they stand, while it is the more imperfect which incessantly make the attempts to push forward and either perish, or lag behind, or turn and outstrip the existing species.
Applying this to the domain of social development, Herzen then says:
The past of the West weighs upon it, not upon us. Its vital forces are bound up by a joint responsibility with the shadows of the past, dear to it, not to us. The bright human sides of modern European life have grown up in the narrow lanes and institutions of the Middle Ages; they have become organically, one with the old armour, cassocks and habitations adapted to quite a different system of life; it is dangerous to tear them asunder as the same arteries run in the two. The West respects in ‘the uncomfortable institutions inherited from the forefathers its reminiscences, the will of its ancestors. Its forward course is impeded by stones, but those stones are the monuments of its civic victories, or grave-stones .... We have nothing of the kind. Our traditions are before us. The cement on our old buildings has not yet dried up, our ruins have become obsolete, not from age but from the lack of proper foundation. We have not yet built our historical habitation, and that is our advantage.
No doubt there is much truth in all this. The “least imperfect species” has generally a large capital, material and moral, invested in its existence and this it is which often makes it for the more imperfect possible to outstrip it and gain at one stroke a stage which is more advanced than the one in which its rival is situated. Yet, like every other rule, this generalisation admits of exceptions; nor is it easy to define exactly what degree of imperfection will allow a bold “turning movement” without the risk of getting exhausted and perishing before the time. Herzen himself, as the reader will have noticed, was not unaware of such contingencies as “perishing” or “lagging behind.” One, therefore, should have had more reliable data than the mere “imperfection” of Russian life, to assert the certainty or even the probability of Russia’s being able to outstrip the “West.” Such data, it is true, were thought to be extant in the shape of the village community and the “communistic” turn of mind of the peasant; yet even at that time one could have already observed that these precious institutions, so far from facilitating the immediate transition of Russia to Socialism, were, on the contrary, as the Slavophils asserted, the immutable basis of autocracy and orthodoxy. It was precisely the village community, a remnant of patriarchal communism, retained and artificially fostered by an autocracy for fiscal reasons, which created among the peasants the system of ideas on which the absolutist order of society was firmly based as on a rock; and to dream of using it as a lever to overthrow that order and to usher in a Socialist and democratic state, was not less fantastic than the feat performed by Baron Munchausen of pulling himself out from the mire by the hair. As a matter of fact, there were not, even at that time, wanting men who saw clearly in what a magic circle the Radicals were moving, and who declared that Russia has no destiny of its own, but will have to go for its salvation the same way as other European countries. Tourgenieff, one of the acutest observers of his time, wrote to Herzen as follows: –
You have pronounced the diagnosis of modern mankind with a remarkable cleverness, but why should it necessarily be Western mankind and not bipeds in general? You are like a doctor who has found out all the symptoms of a chronic disease and then declared that the whole mischief is because the patient is a Frenchman. You, an enemy of mysticism and the absolute, you mystically worship the Russian sheep-skin, and see in it a great blessing and novelty and originality of the future social forms .... All your idols are broken, and without an idol it is impossible to live. Let us, then, erect an altar to this new, unknown God – the more so as nothing is known of him – and let us pray, believe, and hope. This God does exactly the reverse to what you expect from him – this, you assert, is but temporary, accidental, grafted on him by an external power. Your God adores what you hate, and hates all that you love; he accepts precisely what you repudiate in his name. Never mind; you shut your eyes, close your ears, and repeat ecstatically something about the “freshness of the spring,” the “beneficial storms,” & c. History, philology, statistics – all these things are nothing to you. You do not care about facts, not even about that indisputable fact that we Russians, by language and stock, belong to the European family, genus Europaeum, and consequently are bound by the most immutable laws of physiology to go the same way. I never yet heard of a duck which, belonging to the genus duck, should breathe by means of gills like a fish. And yet, in your spiritual anguish, in your longing to put a fresh bit of snow on your dry tongue, you knock on everything which ought to be dear to all Europeans, and, consequently, to us – on civilisation, on legality, on the revolution itself – and having filled the youthful heads with the not-yet-fermented social-Slavophilic beer, you let them, heady and confused, loose into the world, where they will stumble at the very first step.
Nothing could be truer than these words, and it is just because they were so true, whilst the views which they combatted predominated not only at the time of Herzen, but also down to the very eighties (not having quite expended their force even now), that we have dwelt so fully on that period. For it was just these “social-Slavophilic” views which afterwards became crystallised into a body of doctrine known as Narodnichestvo (Populism), and it is from the Narodnichestvo that the Russian Socialist movement sprang as its practical application. Such was first the Land and Liberty movement, and afterwards the famous People’s Will party. However much the two movements differed – the one was anarchistic, the other political; one was peaceful, the other terrorist – they yet had that fundamental article of faith in common, according to which the Russian people was a chosen people, which, thanks to the village community, need not at all go the way of the “West,” but may develop straight into a Socialist community. Both were thus, in a certain sense, nationalist Socialist movements, not devoid of that “mystical worship of the peasants’ sheep-skin” which Tourgenieff so bitterly derided. To the Land and Liberty men this skin was a real magic skin; go to the peasant, talk to him, and he, in his inborn sense of communism, will spontaneously rise for land and liberty, throwing off his oppressors like so many pigmies. There is no need to work for political freedom first – that is the way of the “West,” a bourgeois dodge; we, in our happy Russian circumstances, can and must aim straight at economic emancipation, and this we can achieve by mere propaganda among the communistic peasantry. For the men, however, of the People’s Will Party the sheep-skin has already lost some of its magic virtues – above all the power of spontaneously asserting itself. Experience, namely, has shown that the communistic turn of the peasant’s mind does not at all absorb with such avidity as was expected the gospel of Socialism that is being preached by the Populists; on the contrary, it sometimes evinces unmistakable signs of enmity, and leads the peasant to such anti-Socialist acts as delivering the gospel-bearer to the authorities that be. But, as Tourgenieff shrewdly remarked in his day, such facts were regarded as merely “temporary, accidental and grafted on the peasant by an external power,” and the conclusion drawn from was that this “external power” need only be removed, and then everything will go on smoothly. In this way Narodnichestvo assumed a political character, and the place of the Land and Liberty Party was taken by the party of the People’s Will.
Henceforth the Socialist movement in Russia became a political movement – a movement for the overthrow of the autocracy. What were its methods? Naturally those that were dictated by the then-prevailing “Social-Slavophil” conceptions. If the Russian people are born communists and democrats, then autocracy has really no root in the national soil and can be overthrown by a few well-aimed blows. But from whom should these blows proceed? From the people? But experience has shown that it is very difficult to make it rise – nay, that it is very difficult to carry on a propaganda amongst it for that purpose on account of the very same “external power” which it is proposed to remove. Should the blow proceed from the town proletariat? According to the teachings of Marx that would have just been the proper class which could take upon itself that work. Unfortunately, it can scarcely be said to exist. Who, then, should engage in a fight with the autocracy? Well, there is only one class which could do it, and that is the very same class which had carried before the gospel of discontent to the people – the revolutionary educated youth. They are few in numbers, it is true, but they can adopt the methods of conspiracy, and for that large numbers are not required.
Thus arose the “terror” – that dramatic duel between a handful of conspirators and the powerful autocracy, which filled with astonishment the whole world. We know how it ended. After a series of attempts, each more daring than the other, the party made a supreme effort and delivered its most tremendous blow. Now or never, everybody thought, and it was – never! Why? Did the party become exhausted, as some say, or were the Liberal classes too cowardly to come forward and demand a Constitution, as others assert? Both these reasons were true, but they were true because autocracy was not such a rootless growth, as it was supposed, and has revealed itself as such at the very moment when it was apparently stabbed in its very heart. Autocracy was but the political complement of the social order which lay at the base of Russian society, and no sooner was one of its heads struck off than another grew instantly in its place. There is in social organisms, as much as in natural, an inexhaustible fountain of creative power, and so long as their structure remains unchanged, the same growths will appear one after the other, much as you may try to stop them.
We thus arrive at the beginning of the eighties. Consider the situation – the People’s Will Party lying on the ground broken and exhausted, reaction rampant, all that was but a short time ago hopeful, disheartened and embittered. Where shall we turn for light and guidance? To the people? It is mute. To the working-class? There is none. To the educated classes? They are all full of pessimism in the consciousness of their weakness. What, then, next? Is all hope to be given up? Is there no salvation for Russia? At this moment of darkness and despair a new and strange voice resounds through the space – a voice full of harshness and sarcasm, yet vibrating with hope. That is the voice of Russian Social-Democracy.
From whom did it proceed? From a handful of political refugees on the banks of the Geneva lake. And what did it announce? It announced that all this talk of a special destiny and mission of Russia is sheer nonsense, that Russia will have to go exactly the same way as other nations, that she will neither be spared her capitalism nor the proletarisation of her masses: that the village community, so far from being able to develop into a “form of the future,” is, on the contrary, the most formidable obstacle in the way of social and political progress; that, for the rest, it already disintegrates – and that rapidly – under the pressure of economic changes introduced by the first acts of capitalism; that salvation is only to be expected from the proletariat acting in its own class interests; and that, lastly, this salvation will not be the social revolution, but will take the shape of an ordinary humdrum “bourgeois” political freedom! We can imagine what a courage it was required to throw in the teeth of all tradition and all the then-prevailing views such heterodox opinions, and that, too, with an unheard-of strength and tone of certainty. We can also imagine what a storm of indignation they aroused – especially as they came at a moment when the traditional creed was doubly dear now that the enemy had outraged it. What – rang the universal cry – Russian Social-Democracy? But a more ridiculous idea could not have been born in a human brain. Social-Democracy presupposes a proletariat; and where is the Russian proletariat? It is simply an attempt on the part of some doctrinaires to transplant to the Russian soil a growth which is totally foreign to it. Or is it something still worse than that? Is it, perhaps, a move on the part of the bourgeois ideologists who wish to sweep away our ancient foundations of life – the village community and the rest, in order to make room for capitalism? It looks like it. We have no capitalism at present and no proletariat; consequently, those who wish for the latter must wish for the former. Our so-called Social-Democrats are, therefore, nothing more than knights-errant of capitalism – heroes of “primitive accumulation,” social enemies of the Russian people. They do not want Socialism – they merely want a political constitution which should give the power to the bourgeoisie. No, a thousand times, no! Our village community is our most precious national treasure, and we shall not give it up for the greater glory of capitalism and of a German doctrine!
In this and similar strain the case was “argued” against Social-Democracy, and there was no more odious name at the time than that of a Social-Democrat. In vain did the latter point out that what opponents were accusing them of aiming at is actually taking place irrespective of anybody’s wishes – that, for instance, capitalism, in the shape of the usurer, middleman, & c., is irresistibly making its inroads into the very heart of the village community; that the peasantry is becoming more and more ruined every day; that the social cleavage amongst it is daily becoming more and more pronounced; that the masses, in consequence, are at an ever-accelerating pace undergoing the process of proletarisation; that the village community itself is no longer a community, but an instrument in the hands of the State and the local capitalists to keep in subjection the poorer peasants; that, so far from the proletarisation of the masses wiping out from their minds democratic and communistic ideals, it, on the contrary, frees their individuality from the trammels of patriarchalism and makes them susceptible to a higher political and social ideal. In vain, we say, did the Social-Democrats point this all out and invite their opponents to cast off the old chimerical and essentially reactionary dreams and instead look reality straight in the face, and base on that reality their socio-political activity. The opponents would not listen, they would continue to reiterate their ancient shibboleths and cast showers of abuse on the heads of the “disciples.”
Thus the controversy dragged on for a number of years. The old “Populists” would show by black and white that capitalism has no future before it in Russia, since all the markets of the world are already taken up by the other nations. They would also show statistically that the number of workers is insignificant and has no chance of growing. They would lastly taunt their opponents with fatalism and declare that their hopes of the future condemns them to inactivity. The Social-Democrats would reply by saying that capitalism largely creates its own market; that the number of workers is not so small as is imagined, and that with the disintegration of the village community autocracy loses its main prop and the efforts of even a comparatively small number of town-proletariat will suffice to bring it down. As for fatalism and the rest, the less the “Populists” speak of this, the better. It is they who believe fatalistically in the magic virtues of the village community, and it is they who are inactive, not knowing where to turn. The Social-Democrats, on the contrary, have plenty of work. They need not wait till capitalism shall have done all its work, but they can take up the proletariat as it is turned out from the villages, and educate it in the ideals of political and economic freedom.
Events soon proved that the Social-Democrats were absolutely right. Whilst the “Populists” were arguing against the possibility of capitalism and of a proletariat in Russia, and the People’s Will Party broke up in fragments (some of its members, recollecting their ancient kinship with the Slavophils, going over to reaction), capitalism and the proletarisation of the masses were making enormous strides, and everywhere, in all industrial centres of Russia, Social-Democratic organisations sprang up to carry the Socialist propaganda among the factory workers. Suddenly in 1895 a vast strike, embracing tens of thousands of textile workers, broke out in St. Petersburg, and following that, a number of similar strikes in all large towns. What was it? The old “Populists” were taken aback. Have we really got a capitalism and a proletariat? It looked uncommonly like it. At once Social-Democracy – or Marxism, as it was called in the “legal” press – acquired a tremendous prestige and spread like wildfire throughout Russia. The entire educated youth became converted to Marxism, and the latter became a veritable craze. The Press and the drawing-rooms became full of it, special reviews were established to propagate it, books pro and con. were published in enormous quantities, and such books as Beltov’s “Monistic View of History” – one of the cleverest books on Marxism in our literature – had a “tearing” success. Of course, the “Populists” did not give in at once, and some of their old guard carried on a campaign against the new craze with a passion and ability such as would have been worthy of a better cause. But little by little the old guard was left alone in its trenches and the younger generation joined the ranks of the Marxists. No doubt, like every craze, the movement did not last very long; it was preposterous to dream of Marxism in a “legal” dress, and for real revolutionary work but few were prepared. And so the majority gradually cooled down or became infected with Bernsteinianism (another craze of the time), whilst the minority simply turned Liberal. That, however, did not in the least injure the revolutionary Social-Democracy – the Social-Democrats felt themselves masters of the situation, and took to their work with an increased zeal. In 1898 they even made an attempt to form a united Social-Democratic Party, and, though the attempt turned out to be premature, it still spoke volumes for the extent and vigour of the movement. Now there could no longer be any talk of resuscitating the old People’s Will Party – Social-Democracy was trumps!
Yet it was precisely at that very moment that the bastard movement called the Revolutionary Socialist Party first made its appearance. These were the old familiar “Populists,” still enamoured of the peasantry and the village community, who, being no longer able to dispute the existence of capitalism or the strength of the proletariat, conceived the happy idea of combining all the three things that were “good” in the programmes of the preceding three revolutionary parties in Russia, viz., the ideal of peasant communism of the Land and Liberty Party, the idea of the revolutionary proletariat of the Social-Democracy and – the ingenuity of it! – the conception of terrorism as the means of the revolution, of the People’s Will Party! How these three things, so logical, taken by themselves, in their original respective programmes, were in practice to be amalgamated into one mixture; how, for instance, the proletariat could be made revolutionary on behalf of the ideals of the peasantry, or how the conspirative exercise of terror could hang together with a class movement, all this remains a mystery to this day; the only practical solution which the Revolutionary Socialists have given to the difficulty was by establishing a separate organisation (alas, in many cases, mythical!) for carrying on terrorist acts (thus making the revolution doubly sure!), by instigating the peasantry to riots in the name of Land and Liberty, whilst at the same time preaching to the proletariat the class war. As a result we have a double or even treble system of revolutionary book-keeping, which finds its counterpart in the language which they speak to European and Russian audiences respectively, and a continual spasmodic oscillation, now towards terror, then towards peasants’ riots, then again towards propaganda among the proletariat, and last, but least, towards compromises with bourgeois parties!
And now, at last, we reach the present day. There is no denying the fact that within recent years the Revolutionary Socialists have acquired a reputation far beyond their intrinsic worth. Whilst Social-Democracy was silently impregnating the proletarian with class-consciousness and preparing it by means of street demonstrations for a general attack on Czardom, the Revolutionary Socialists have startled the world, first, by the organisation of peasants’ riots in the southern parts of Russia, and then by a series of daring attempts on the lives of some of the most unscrupulous representatives of autocracy. More particularly was the world taken in by the assassination of von Plehve, than whom there was no more hateful figure throughout Europe. This is scarcely to be surprised at. The world did not know Russia nor the forces that were really shaping her destiny. Partly despairing of any other means of salvation, partly impatient of the slow work of social forces, it greeted with delight the removal of such men as Plehve and thought that, if anything, it was terroristic acts like these that are likely to disorganise the autocratic system of government. And the Revolutionary Socialists themselves began to take themselves quite seriously. The Russian Liberals, who, like all other Liberals, have no understanding for the class movements of the proletariat, looked in their own helplessness with great sympathy upon the acts of terrorism, and money flowed from all sides to the “war chest” of the Revolutionary Socialists. What was Social-Democracy to them? A doctrinaire movement engaged in theoretical hair-splitting, but with no “go” in it. “Everyone,” declares in a leading article the Revolutionary Russia, the official organ of the Revolutionary Socialists, as recently as July of last year, “everyone who has followed during recent years the development of contemporary social-revolutionary thought both in the West of Europe and in Russia, cannot fail to acknowledge that the so-called orthodox and only revolutionary Marxism is living through its last and really tragical days of its existence .... In its instinctive endeavour to save at any cost its obsolete dogmas, its extremely narrow methods both in the domain of theory and in that of practice, the orthodox Marxist literature has fatally condemned itself to spiritual sterility, to the involuntary sin of ‘double-tongueness’ and to the voluntary sins of casuistical hair-splitting and hypocritical diplomacy.” Such was the opinion held by the Revolutionary Socialists of the Russian and International Social-Democracy, and it was, unfortunately, shared by many who ought to have known better.
And now the 22nd of January, with all that follows it at the present moment, has given the direct lie to these impudent assertions, and proved finally that it is Social-Democracy which will deliver Russia from her secular slavery. At first it was thought that it was a spontaneous rising of the St. Petersburg proletariat with which Social-Democracy had nothing in common. Now it is known that even in St. Petersburg Social-Democracy had a direct hand in the movement, whilst in all other towns it is only Social-Democracy that is organising and leading the movement. The Russian proletariat is now a class-conscious agent of the Revolution, and this we owe exclusively to the Russian Social-Democracy. It may well be – and, in fact, it is so – that in St. Petersburg a great portion, perhaps the majority, of those who went on the 22nd to the Winter Palace, were not Social-Democrats. But the very nature of their programme containing Social-Democratic demands as well as the fact that one single day sufficed to open their eyes to the real state of things, showed that the Social-Democratic propaganda in the past has not been in vain. Social-Democracy, which once upon a time sprang up in the minds of a few “intellectuals,” is now leader of the popular Revolution, and no Trepoffs will be able to put it down. Autocracy has hitherto ruled, thanks to the acquiescence of the people, now it will have to rule against the will of the people – and that is a mightily difficult task!
We can rest quite assured as to the final issue of the Revolution. It has been foreseen when not a glimmer of it could be discerned with the naked eye, and the realisation of the forecast will carry us to the end. No more uncertainty, no more despair, no more pessimism – the “dogma” has proved correct and the “dogma” will triumph to the very last! It is the proletariat which has risen in its class interests against autocracy, and it is the proletariat which will make an end of it.
1. The strike has scarcely begun when the local Social-Democratic Committee started a vigorous political agitation amongst the men, which carried away Father Gapon himself. As many as twenty meetings a day were sometimes held, and at every one of them, after hearing the speeches of our comrades, the men would pass with acclamation the Socialist resolutions. On the 22nd, the only barricade built was a Social-Democratic one with a red flag. The defenders were all shot down, and the banner-holder was bayonetted and raised in the air.