A Truly Scientific Work

Still in exile, Comrade Lenin wrote a truly scientific work, ‘The Development of Capitalism in Russia’ — a book which is bound to become, and in a great measure has become, a handbook for every worker. In this book Comrade Lenin settled accounts with the Populists, who then reigned supreme in the minds of the whole generation of our intelligentsia. He brilliantly proved in this work that Plekhanov was right in asserting that Russia also would not escape the stage of capitalism. By means of statistics he showed that our country has since the ‘nineties entered upon the capitalist stage. He gave a profound and subtle analysis of the development of agriculture in Russia and the invasion of it by capitalism. With the aid of a mighty array of facts, Comrade Lenin analysed the whole economic structure of the country, both urban and rural; and out of this dispassionate, objective analysis he brought out the revolutionary conclusions regarding the problems and tasks of the working class.

This book of Lenin’s was acknowledged by bourgeois professor’s as a great scientific achievement. In 1902, when I was still a student in Paris, in the School of Social Sciences, founded by Professor Kovalevsky and others, I heard from Professor Maxim Kovalevsky the greatest eulogy of Vladimir Ilych from his point of view. He said: ‘What a fine professor might have been made out of Lenin!’ This in the mouth of Professor Kovalesky was the very highest praise. Yes! out of Comrade Lenin there might have been made a fine professor, but out of him came the leader of the workers’ commune, and this, I think is something greater than the most gifted professors. (Applause.)

During the same period of exile, and on the eve of his departure into exile, Comrade Lenin launched a struggle on the other front as well. Fighting with one hand against the Populists in the person of Mikhailovsky and others, he at the same time began a theoretical struggle against the so-called ‘legal’ Marxism. At its head stood P. Struve, Tugan-Baranovsky and others who at present are leaders of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. This movement had a profound social foundation. The Liberals of he day were seeking a stratum of society on which they could lean in their struggle against Czarism for bourgeois freedom. And they saw that outside the working class there was none at all. They saw that the Populists, with their old-fashioned ‘theory’ , asserting that we should never have capitalism, were clearly in he wrong. And they began to set their cap at Marxism, emasculating it of its revolutionary spirit and turning it into a ‘legal’, tame ‘Marxism’.

In the struggle against the Populists the legal Marxists were for a time our allies. They also, like ourselves, fought against Mikhailovsky. And at one time we were united with them in a definite bloc. But the sharp ear of Comrade Lenin had already discovered false notes in the very first writings of P. Struve and Co. Lenin immediately said that this was an ally only for an hour, that they would in the end betray us.

Next: The Fight Against Struve