‘What Is to Be Done’

Already in this first article of Lenin you will practically find virtually the whole quintessence of Bolshevism. But this article served merely as a synopsis to the remarkable book of Lenin which was called ‘What Is to Be Done. ’

Round everything that Lenin wrote there is always seething strife. Nobody can remain indifferent to his writings. You can hate Lenin, you can love Lenin to distraction, but you cannot remain neutral. In the book ‘ What Is to Be Done', Lenin stated and solved in a revolutionary spirit all the vexatious questions of the movement of that epoch. And for many months and years this book was challenging thought, was the centre of raging passions, was the subject of controversy, and ultimately led to the formation of a split into two irreconcilable camps.

The Iskra declared a fight to the finish against the so-called ‘ Economism.’ It fought with every variety of opportunism, including Economism, i.e., future Menshevism. It conducted a most energetic fight against the adventurism of the Social-Revolutionists, and never yet has it been so plain how clear-sighted in his attitude towards the Social-Revolutionists was Comrade Lenin, who predicted as far back as 1902-3 the fate of the Social-Revolutionary party. Only think! Fifteen years ago, when the party of the Social-Revolutionists had just been born, when it had in its ranks well-known members of the former ‘ People's Will," when we had not yet that great political experience which was given to us by the revolution-what was the situation like at the time? There comes forward the party of the Social-Revolutionists, asserting that it is fighting for Socialism, saying that it is more to the left than the Iskra. And there gets up Comrade Lenin still quite young, and in the face of the whole world dares throw at them the scornful words: ‘revolutionary adventurists.’ Lenin declared, ‘ You, Messrs. Social-Revolutionists, are representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, and nothing more.’ (Applause).

When Lenin said that the party of the Social-Revolutionists was a party of the petty bourgeoisie there descended upon him thunder and lightning. It was said that Lenin had a bad character, that he was a misanthrope, and so forth. Now, indeed you can see that it was a prophetic anticipation of that which is. (Applause). Now we know that there are no two more fatal letters in the Russian alphabet than the letters: S and R. Why was this party so doomed? Because, calling itself Socialist, in reality it is a petty bourgeois party. Comrade Lenin was right when he said that these were no Socialists, but representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, that at best they were only revolutionary romantics, fantasts, and nothing more.

Next: A Prophetic Gift