From Fourth International, Vol. I No. 2, June 1940, p. 62.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
It is not yet sufficiently known abroad that Bolshevism grew, took shape, and became steeled in long years of struggle against petty-bourgeois revolutionaries, which smacks of, or borrows something from, anarchism, and which in all essentials falls short of the conditions and requirements of a sustained proletarian class struggle. For Marxists it is well established theoretically – and the experience of all European revolutions and revolutionary movements has fully confirmed it – that the small proprietor, the small master (a social type that is represented in many European countries on a wide, mass scale), who under capitalism suffers constant oppression and, very often, an incredibly acute and rapid deterioration in his condition of life, ending in ruin, easily goes to revolutionary extremes, but is incapable of perseverance, organization, discipline and steadfastness. The petty-bourgeois, “driven to frenzy” by the horrors of capitalism, is a social phenomenon which, like anarchism, is characteristic of all capitalist countries. The instability of such revolutionariness, its barrenness, its liability to become swiftly transformed into submission, apathy, fantasy, and even a “frenzied” infatuation with one or another bourgeois “fad” – all this is a matter of common knowledge. But a theoretical, abstract recognition of these truths does not at all free revolutionary parties from old mistakes, which always crop up at unexpected moments, in a somewhat new form, in hitherto unknown vestments or surroundings, in peculiar – more or less peculiar – circumstances.
– Lenin in Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder.
Last updated on 26 February 2016