A Critical Survey of Bolshevism

Chapter IV.

THE Revolution of 1905, says Trotsky, showed that Russia provided no exception to the laws of history. This country with its slow and retarded social development passed in turn through the same stages as the most advanced capitalist States. The Slavophile theory, exclusively based on the special characteristics of Russia, seemed to be refuted. But, in spite of analogies throwing light on the present and to some extent, thanks to western experience, on the future, it is still necessary to study distinctive national traits; and especially to consider the influences which have determined the particular historical course followed by contemporary Russia.

Nowhere else was the State so centralised; nowhere else did it play so important a role in economic development. "In Russia the State is all-powerful," wrote Combes de Lestrade in 1895; he compared the social organisation of the country to "a vast factory centralising in its workshops the activity and working power of all its inhabitants without exception."

The intervention of the State was looked upon as the mainspring of industrial progress. "Peter the Great's real achievement was to make our country, already rich in land, in men and in cereals, a country rich also in industries"; this is the opinion of Professor D. Mendeleyev. In the progress of industrialisation more was expected from State aid than from private initiative.

Foreign finance, by its large investments, helped in the development of the most concentrated industry in the world. Beside the milliards lent to the State, eighty per cent of capital came from foreign countries. The statistics of the time show a proportionately higher percentage of works employing 1,000 workers than in the United States or in Germany. From an extremely low original level, production increased by fits and starts, more rapidly in Russia than in America. A close parallel can be traced between the "greatest Republic and the vastest Empire in the world," says C. de Lestrade. Industrial concentration demanded a corresponding concentration of the working classes, whose peasant origin and rapid growth in numbers offered virgin soil for revolutionary theories.

The proletariat had sacrificed about 15,000 dead, 20,000 wounded, and 80,000 prisoners for its first political victories—shorter hours of work, higher salaries, and a de facto if not a de jure right to form trade unions. More especially, its leaders had learned its strength and its weakness, and understood the pressing need of party and trade union organisation. All varieties of socialism flourished and won over practically the whole working population. N. Rubakin says that in 1905-7 there were some sixty million copies of socialist works in circulation.

Social-Democracy became a great party, attaining more than 150,000 adherents in 1906, of whom half were in national groups, in spite of the semi-illegal situation. In contrast with the "generals" who were eager to seize on their points of difference, the working army of the revolution exacted Social-Democratic unity, at least on the surface. The previous year Lenin had evaded a suggestion made by August Bebel on behalf of German Socialism and the International for fusion of the sections, but he was obliged to swim with the stream. Experience showed that Bolshevism could not yet claim independent existence either as a body of theory or as a party. A Unity Congress was held at Stockholm in 1906, where the Mensheviks, with a clear majority, assumed the official direction of the movement.

Stalin, under the name of Ivanovich, represented the province of Tiflis at the Congress. By what subterfuge had he secured election in a district practically entirely in Menshevik hands? In reality, he represented only the tiny handful of local Bolsheviks, too weak in every respect to stand up against the traditions of Georgian socialism, but clever enough to constitute an obscure group and claim a place in the Congress, taking advantage of the temporary spirit of conciliation. He intervened in debate three times, with brief remarks of elementary simplicity, which he has never dared to reprint. The first proposal on the agrarian question, refuted by Dan in a few words, advocated division of the land in agreement with the peasants' wishes (the Bolsheviks advocated nationalisation of the land, the Mensheviks municipalisation). The second, on general tactics, passed unnoticed and concluded with the dilemma, "either the hegemony of the proletariat or the hegemony of bourgeois democracy," quite contrary to Bolshevik views; the third, on the parliamentary problem, advised against any participation in the elections for the Duma, at a moment when Lenin was revising his tactics in the opposite sense.

Nothing could show more clearly the non-existence of Bolshevism as a doctrine except in Lenin's brain; every Bolshevik left to himself wandered from "the line" of his fraction. But Koba's three short speeches, assured, even cocksure, did not hinder Stalin from voting with his friends, except on the last point, when he abstained, for—these men were bound together by their temperament and by the ascendancy of Lenin rather than by ideas. Years of action in common and many crises were required to acquire even a degree of unity in the opinions of the "Jacobins" of the proletariat.

Nevertheless the fractions survived with their own rules and their intermittent press, each with its interior differences, its diverging tendencies and its dissidents. Generally speaking the Right was inclined to adapt itself to the spontaneous popular movement, the Left to capture it in order to direct it. Both hoped for a revival of the workers' and peasants' offensive in the near future. The Mensheviks were the first to admit the decline of the revolution; consequently, they wished to initiate legal action, to support the most advanced of the bourgeois parties and strengthen the influence of the Duma. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, expected an immediate revival of the revolution—the classic error of revolutionary optimism. They calculated on a general strike followed by insurrection, aiming at the overthrow of the autocracy and the summoning of a Constituent Assembly. Both saw the necessity of political alliances for a proletariat which was still weak, but the Mensheviks relied above all on the liberal bourgeoisie, the Bolsheviks on the landless peasants.

Throughout the controversy, frequent references were made to the Revolution of 1848, and the respective positions of the parties were defined by the dates: 1847 or 1849? That is to say, the eve or the morrow of the revolution? The Bolsheviks thought they were on the eve of a decisive attempt (1847), the Mensheviks that they were on the morrow of a semi-defeat (1849). The Mensheviks began to work "by European methods," the Bolsheviks persisted in their "specifically Russian" methods, that is to say, the methods demanded by the circumstances of time and place, as interpreted by themselves.

In the Russian Revolution Lenin distinguished "two separate and heterogeneous social wars; one within the existing autocratic-feudal regime, the other within the future bourgeois-democratic regime." It was necessary, he thought, to wage a triple war on the theoretical, political and economic fronts. In view of the approaching revolt, he studied and criticised in detail the December fighting in Moscow, how the barricades were used, what part was played by artillery, and by the new weapons revealed by the Russo-Japanese war, such as the hand grenade. He recalled Marx's aphorism, insurrection is an art, and therefore an art to be studied, and he urged the workers to form groups of three, five and ten volunteers, and gave them instructions and advice.

"The battle is near at hand," he assured them, deceiving himself as to the proximity of the date. He emphasized the necessity of "creating a military organisation side by side with the soviets, for their defence and for the organisation of the insurrection without which all the soviets and all the delegates of the masses would remain powerless." This idea was to be realised, but not till ten years later. He was untiring in keeping his followers up to the mark.

Remember [he said] that the day of the mass struggle is approaching. It will be armed insurrection. It should be as far as possible simultaneous. The masses must know that they are engaging in an armed, sanguinary, and merciless struggle. They must be animated by scorn of death, which will bring victory. The attack must be pressed with the utmost energy; the offensive, not the defensive, must be the order of the day, and the objective, the implacable extermination of the enemy....

Meanwhile he occupied himself first with the prosaic question of participation in parliament. The first Duma scheme, boycotted by all the revolutionary and democratic Parties, came to nothing. The second, based on a restricted and indirect franchise in three stages, was applied. The various socialist Parties boycotted the elections, thus assuring the victory of the Kadets (Constitutional Monarchists). The Mensheviks, who were disposed to take part in the electoral campaign for purposes of agitation and propaganda, at any rate in the first two stages, had not opposed the general feeling, but their preponderance was so great in the Caucasus that five of their candidates, Social-Democratic, were elected there. The Georgians were already carrying on their own policy. Jordania and his comrades thus became the mouthpieces of the whole Social-Democratic movement in the first Duma.

The Georgian political success made the Mensheviks regret their abstention, and they began resolutely to advocate participation in the elections. Lenin agreed with them. At Tammerfors he had agreed to the boycott, but under pressure of the Conference. In one of his speeches Stalin reports this episode:

The debate opened, and the provincial members, Siberians and Caucasians, led the attack. What was our astonishment when, after our speeches, Lenin intervened, and declared himself in favour of participating in the elections, but then saw his mistake and took his stand with the section. We were stupefied. The effect was electric. We gave him a great ovation.

Lenin rarely allowed himself to be influenced by his followers. But there were cases when local information on the temper of the people might be allowed, for tactical reasons, to influence his judgment. On this occasion, as was usually the case, he had reason to regret it. "We all erred," he wrote fifteen years later in alluding to the boycott. But at the time he refused to admit it; in giving his reasons for a change of attitude under new conditions, he justified his past attitude. Stalin was among those who incited the Party to commit this "error."

On the dissolution of the Duma, Lenin felt it necessary to oppose the boycott. At Stockholm he had indicated his point of view by voting for the proposal of the Caucasus Mensheviks for participation in the primary elections, without any hesitation about separating himself from comrades like Stalin, obstinate in the "error." He wrote several persuasive articles on the subject, then carried on a fierce controversy in an attempt to convince his section of the Party; so great an importance did he attach to legal action, without at the same time renouncing clandestine work. As opposed to this, conspiracy, underground plots, terrorism, and the most dangerous armed operations showed unprecedented development. In this new scheme Stalin found employment for his natural gifts.

Repression had not broken revolutionary energy. While the authorities shot rebels in the army and the navy without mercy, crushed rural rioting by punitive expeditions on a considerable scale, the intrepid drujiny—fighting squads of the various revolutionary parties—continued their activities all the more boldly as the masses began to show signs of lassitude. From their original defensive mission the boyeviki (armed militants, sharpshooters, guerillas) turned to the offensive, following the example of the Caucasian bomb-throwers and the Polish bojowci. Murderous attacks on policemen, Cossacks and government agents, armed expropriations of public and private funds began to multiply.

The "expropriations," forcible confiscation of funds belonging to banks, post-offices, and store-houses, in transit by road or rail, and sometimes of money belonging to private persons, became frequent in 1906 and 1907. The word, abbreviated as "ex," even passed into the language. Operations of this kind were rarely executed without shooting, with victims on both sides. But the revolutionaries had the advantage of the offensive, of surprise attack, and of extreme mobility, and generally succeeded in getting off scot-free from these attacks and ambuscades. Many civil and military officials perished in surprise attacks by the guerillas. On the other hand the boyeviki prisoners ran the risk of the gallows as the penalty of brigandage.

The object of these expropriations was to provide funds for the revolutionary groups. The smaller "ex'es" provided for the maintenance of the expropriators. But the matter passed more and more out of the control of the organisations. The flying squads were mixed up with mischievous elements which were not disinterested but indisciplined and operating on their own account. Signs of degeneration, cases of common assault, acts of terrorism against the inhabitants, soon threw great discredit on the movement. Robbers and bandits, who made it their business to hold the population to ransom rather than to annoy the authorities made the "war of the partisans" suspect. It became difficult to distinguish between "ex'es" of all sorts and various forms of brigandage. The Social-Democratic Party could not overlook this unforeseen danger.

A special resolution was passed at the Stockholm Conference condemning robbery, the expropriation of private property and the deposits of private banks, forced contributions, the destruction of public buildings and railways, but admitting, under Bolshevik pressure, confiscation of State moneys on the order of a revolutionary authority in districts where such an authority existed. For Lenin approved the "ex es" while condemning their "Apache deviation," provided that they were carried out under strict Party control. The Congress had recognised "the inevitability of active struggle against Governmental terror and the violence of the Black Hundreds," the aim of which was to kill the enemy, while avoiding any attack on the "private property of peaceful citizens."

Thus Social-Democracy partially borrowed from the Social Revolutionaries' tactics, which the Social Revolutionaries had themselves abandoned after the constitutional rescript of October. The London Congress of 1903 had voted for a motion of Axelrod's against the Social Revolutionaries, among other things denouncing their terrorist proceedings as adventurism. Two years later Plekhanov proposed to associate himself with their activities and adopt their methods, but was confronted with unyielding opposition by Martov. The Mensheviks, careful to observe "European" methods, objected to systematic violence and to attacks on individuals. The terrorist tradition of the narodovoltsy and of their successors was continued and exacerbated in the extreme Left wing of the Social Revolutionaries, the Maximalists, who formed an independent league, which distinguished itself by audacious exploits. Anarchists and Bolshevists vied with them.

"A great part of the innumerable thefts and robberies on private persons which passed like a muddy wave over this period of depression when the revolution was temporarily on the defensive," said Rosa Luxemburg, "were committed in the name of anarcho-communism." This is an erroneous statement, for all sorts of revolutionaries furnished their contingents to the boyeviki and the expropriators. In the Caucasus, where Social, Democracy was in the ascendant, 1,150 acts of terrorism were committed between 1904 and 1908, according to statistics published by P. Makharadze; the Federalist Socialists and the Bolsheviks, not numerous but very active, had a large share in them. In Latvia the Social-Democratic Party methodically organised "ex'es," and gave receipts for the proceeds. In Poland Pilsudski's Socialist Party, a rival of the Social-Democrats, acted in the same way.

The anarchists had a certain number of groups and clubs but only in a few places. "Bakunin's native country was to be the tomb of his theory," said Rosa Luxemburg when she was demonstrating the thesis that the Russian Revolution was "the historical winding-up of anarchism"; but her definition of anarchism as "the ideology of the mob" is a piece of rhetorical exaggeration. Kropotkin, the anarchist theorist of the genera expropriation of the bourgeoisie, of the seizure of the means of production by the people, notably in the Notes of a Rebel and in the Conquest of Bread, disavowed partial and individual expropriation. Lenin, on the other hand, approved of them under certain circumstances. At St. Petersburg an anarchist group preached terror and the pillage of shops under the name of "direct action," but the Bolsheviks required no influence to induce them to act as they wished. The accusations of Anarcho-Blanquism, launched against them by the Mensheviks, did not dissuade them from following their own methods.

Lenin admitted that "these methods of social struggle have been adopted by preference, even exclusively, by the most wretched elements of the population, by tramps, the lumpen-proletariat, and by anarchist groups." But that seemed to him inevitable at that time. "They tell us that the 'war of the partisans' brings the class-conscious proletariat into touch with the lower strata, with rogues and drunkards. That is so. But the only conclusion to be drawn from the fact is that these means should be subordinated to others, and employed within reasonable limits proportioned to the main methods of action, and ennobled by the educating and organising influence of socialism."

He practically said that Marxism admitted the most various fighting methods, did not invent them, but rationalised them, gave conscious expression to spontaneously developed procedure. Hostile to doctrinaire formulas, to the proposals of "paperscheme makers," Marxism does not disavow any form of struggle, and; far from lecturing the masses, it is a student in their school of practice. Therefore the "war of the partisans" arose spontaneously as a counter-move to the exactions of the Black Hundreds, the army and the police. Everything that is spontaneous is necessary, would fairly sum up Lenin's meaning.

Under cover of this theoretical justification and in spite of the Stockholm decisions, the Bolsheviks tried, at their own risk, to derive advantage from the circumstances, from the warlike enterprise of the boyeviki and sometimes by complicity with those of another camp. Their section, organised in complete independence of the regular Party institutions, was secretly directed by a Bolshevik Centre, in accordance with Lenin's known views on the subject of "professional revolutionaries." Under the clandestine instructions of the troîka, Lenin, Krassin and Bogdanov, it sought to procure the maximum of money and arms.

The "Technical Bureau" of the Central Committee at St. Petersburg could supply as many as 150 bombs a day; soldiers on their Way home from Manchuria sold their rifles to the railwaymen. That was enough. An organisation of "professional revolutionaries" preparing an insurrection in the near future needed immense supplies of war material. Party subscriptions were insignificant. Krassin and Gorky were the principal purveyors of funds, thanks to their connections with the liberal bourgeoisie and with literary and artistic circles; through them certain textile capitalists, among them S. Morosov, contributed substantial subsidies. But the revolutionary profession, extended to a Party, or at all events to its officials, required more funds, and the "ex'es were the main source of supply for the Bolshevik Centre.

Krassin was not only Finance Minister of the Section. He was in charge of the manufacture of explosives, the purchase and transport of arms, the courses of bombing instruction, and he inspired and supplied the fighting squad in the Caucasus. He was arrested in Finland, and had a narrow escape from the gallows. Later on he entered the service of the firm of Siemens-Schuckert in Germany as a highly qualified engineer. He was equally highly qualified for the Bolshevik illegal conspirators' service, and with inexhaustible energy and coolness he took part in the most "delicate" enterprises to ensure for the Party the indispensable resources for carrying on clandestine rebel activity. Bogdanov, historian, philosopher and economist, was closely concerned in the boyeviki operations in the Urals. Lenin directed the whole from his distant eminence.

The year 1906 was memorable as regards "ex'es" and terrorism. At Moscow a group of twenty Socialist Revolutionaries forced a bank in March, and carried off 875,000 roubles in booty. At Dushet, in the province of Tiflis, six Federalist Socialists disguised as soldiers seized in March 35,000 roubles which the Bolsheviks confiscated by a stratagem. In Poland Pilsudski's bojowci in August made a simultaneous attack in several towns on the soldiers and the police, killing several dozen. Polish Social-Democracy felt it necessary to protest against mass destruction of innocent recruits. In concert with the Maximalists, the Bolshevik "Technical Bureau" at St. Petersburg connived at the blowing up of Stolypin's villa in August; and also at pillaging in October a van belonging to the State Bank. The Maximalists had carried out a resounding "ex" against a Mutual Credit Bank at St. Petersburg, the famous coup of the Fonarny pereulok, which was talked about in the press for a long time. The month of October alone witnessed 121 terrorist deeds, 47 fights with the police, and 362 expropriations. In the space of four months 2,118 Government agents and officials were killed and wounded, following on 2,000 casualties in the preceding eighteen months. The General of Police, Spiridovich, described the pillage of the State Bank at Helsingfors as an operation "only comparable with the Tiflis expropriation in 1907."

The mysteries of these legendary exploits have not yet come fully to light. Twenty years after, on the death of Krassin, one of the Old Bolsheviks, the engineer G. Krizhanovsky was to write: "Even now the time has not come fully to expose the underground activities of Leonid Borissovich ..." But in another article, after alluding to the secret printing presses and sapping of the Butyrky prison, he makes veiled references to the links which bound Krassin, alias Nikitich, to the Caucasian boyevik, Kamo, famous for "the pillage of a bank at Tiflis" and certain "experimental explosions of Macedonian bombs among the rocks of Finland." A less discreet communist historian, M. Liadov, ascribes to Krassin-Nikitich the establishment of the laboratory where the Bolsheviks prepared their various explosives; "it is enough to say that the contrivance which blew up Stolypin's villa in the isle of Aptekarsky and the Fonarny pereulok bombs were made under Nikitich's supervision" ... The same writer also says: "The plans of all the expropriations organised by the latter (Kamo), at Kvirilli, at the Treasury Dushet, in Erivan Square, were drawn up and concerted with Nikitich." The so-called Erivan Square affair is the same as that of Tiflis which Spiridovich treats as a record.

The Tiflis "ex," the most "grandiose" of all, to use the current phrase, was a masterpiece of its kind, and eclipsed all earlier efforts by its dramatic scale and its perfect success. It constituted Stalin's principal claim to the consideration of the leaders of the section. An obscure provincial militant acting under the direction of the mysterious triumvirate, a "professional revolutionary" par excellence, incapable of promotion for brain-power in the Party hierarchy, but ready to serve its cause by playing a steadily increasing part, Koba had found circumstances in which he could show the temper of his steel.

Nevertheless, the obvious tendency of the "ex" to degenerate into banditry, and the increase of corruption, led to categorical condemnation, by a new general Congress of Social-Democracy held in London in 1907, at which the Bolsheviks were in the majority, of "all participation in or assistance to the operations of the 'partisans' and 'expropriations' as disorganising and demoralising." Orders were also given that all the fighting squads connected with the Party should be disbanded. Many Bolsheviks, alarmed at the turn the minor civil war was taking, had separated themselves from Lenin on this issue to support the Mensheviks. Koba was present in a consultative capacity at the Congress. But for the "professional revolutionaries" of Bolshevism, the orders of the section took precedence of those of the Party, and Lenin's instructions supplanted political morality. A few days after the return of members of the Congress from London, the Tiflis affair exploded (the word is justified) like a bomb.


Tiflis, June 26.

To-day in Erivan Square in the middle of the town, and at a moment when the Square was swarming with people, ten bombs were thrown in succession. They exploded with great force.

Between each of the explosions there were rifle and revolver shots. Chimneys, doors and windows were broken or shaken down. The Square was covered with debris. There were many killed and wounded. The authorities immediately cleared the Square and forbade access to the scene of the catastrophe.

THIS confusing telegram (very badly written) appeared on June 27, 1907, in the supplementary edition of the Temps and to it was added the next day the following lines, no less obscure:

Robbery was the motive of the Erivan outrage, related in yesterday's Petit Temps. The authors of the outrage got away with 341,000 roubles in a Treasury van.

The Novoye Vremya of the following days reported the affair with more detail, but still in vague terms mixed with angry comments against "heroes of the bomb and the revolver." Eight bombs, followed by repeated shots, were said to have been hurled on two carriages under Cossack escort which were carrying a large sum to the State Bank (341,000 roubles, that is about $170,000 at par, more than 4 1/4 million francs). There were three killed and more than fifty wounded, soldiers and innocent peasants, for the Square was full of people at 10.45 a.m.; the panic was indescribable and was accentuated by the flying pieces of glass from the windows of shops and houses. The crowd rushed to the shops where the doors were promptly closed. Two suspicious-looking carriages had been noticed, one occupied by two women, the other by "an individual in officer's uniform." The aggressors, perhaps fifty in number, had disappeared without leaving any trace. "The devil knows-how this robbery of unheard-of boldness was carried out," sighed the Novoye Vremya. Shortly afterwards the police notified all countries of the numbers of the "expropriated" series of 500 rouble notes.

Two women actually took part in the coup, both comrades of the Social-Democratic Party, Patsya Goldava and Annette Sulamlidze. The pseudo-officer was the leader of the boyeviki squad in person, Ter-Petrossian, known as Kamo. Second in command would be the more correct description, for district operations were in charge of Koba, who in turn obeyed the orders of the supreme troîka.

The extraordinary existence led by men such as Kamo illustrates the inestimable devotion to which the Bolshevik Party in the hands of a Lenin owed its strength. Simon (Senko) Ter-Petrossian was born, like Stalin, at Gori, the son of Armenian parents. He was the faithful assistant of Stalin, to whom he owed his nickname. A communist historian might find a parallel in Rob Roy, Waiter Scott's mediaeval hero: a counter-revolutionary might compare him to Rocambole.

Before the revolution he served Social-Democracy by accepting the most repugnant tasks, the most difficult and perilous missions. He was arrested, escaped, took part in insurrection, and was then captured and tortured by the Cossacks, one of whom threatened to cut off his nose; he was made to dig his own grave, was twice brought to the foot of the gallows. Imprisoned, set free by a stratagem, always on the run, he conspired incessantly and was one of the pioneers in the "war of partisans." In December 1906 he took part in the successful expropriation at Kvirilli, he organised fighting drujiny, then, at Lenin's suggestion, he went to the Balkans in search of arms but failed, and after many tribulations he returned to the Caucasus where he created a formidable squad of boyeviki.

At that time there were groups of "forest brothers" hidden in the forests and in the mountains in revolt against authority; these men had no principles and were a danger on the roads. The time was favourable for the recrudescence of the ancient brigand traditions of the Caucasus. From among these outlaws Kamo recruited the better elements, inspired them with his own revolutionary spirit, drilled them and put them under discipline. He himself lived on fifty kopecks a day and gave them no more, though the Kutais "ex" brought in 15,000 roubles. But their technique was still only mediocre. Kamo, disguised as an officer, went to Finland to meet Lenin and Krassin, and brought back arms and explosives to Tiflis. In a collection of reminiscences published about Krassin it is stated that "nearly all the coups de main brought off by our famous Kamo were planned and executed under Krassin's direction. The Tsars cleverest spy would have had difficulty in associating Krassin's physiognomy with a friendship for the bold and famous Caucasian revolutionary Kamo."

On his return to Georgia an attempt was made to secure at once a large sum for the Bolshevik Centre. The coup failed. Kamo was seriously wounded by the detonation of a bomb, and almost lost the sight of the left eye. But in a few weeks the indefatigable fighter was about again, and undertook a new expedition which began well but, owing to the defection of an accomplice, ended badly. The comrades returned to Tiflis in great distress. "The bombs," says Kamo's wife, "were only serviceable for two or three days; they had to be used at once or there could be no practical action for many months. Happily, that very evening a message was received that 250,000 roubles were to be transferred to the State Bank."

On the following day [writes S. Medvedyeva Ter-Petrossian, whose narrative is worth recording, with the omission of some superfluous details], the cashier K. and the clerk G., accompanied by two policemen and five Cossacks, went to the Bank, conveying the 250,000 (?) roubles. From Pushkin Square, from which the Post Office could be seen, Patsya Goldava gave the signal agreed with Stepko Kitskirvelli: They are starting!

The latter immediately communicated with Annette Sulamlidze, who in turn, passed on the message to the boyeviki who were waiting in the Tilipuchuri Restaurant. Bachua Kupriashvili walked round Erivan Square unfolding a newspaper: This was the signal for preparing the attack awaited by comrades posted at various points—Datiko Chibriashvili, Arkady Elbakidze, Vano Shimshanovi, Vano Kalandadze, Ilico Chachiashvili and Ilico Ebrialidze. Also Akaki Dalakishvili and Theophilus Kavriashvili were in readiness to hold up the Cossacks stationed before the doors. Finally Elisso Lominadze and Serapion Lomidze waited at the corner of the Armenian Bazaar and V.... Street, defending the road by which the expropriators were to carry off the money.

Surrounded by horsemen the carriages drove rapidly through clouds of dust. The Cossacks in front were already turning into S....Street. At that moment Datiko stepped forward a few paces. All the conspirators hurled their bombs with all their strength.

Two explosions, and then another two. Two policemen and a Cossack lay on the pavement. The horses dashed through the escort. But the carriage in which the money was loaded was not blown up, and the horses dashed with it towards the S....Bazaar.

This was the decisive moment, and Bachua alone kept his head. He dashed forward to cut off the horses; and caught the carriage at the end of the Square. Unhesitatingly and with no thought for his own safety he threw a bomb between the horses' legs. The force of the explosion threw him to the ground. The money might once more have been saved from the bold boyeviki but Chibriashvili came up just in time. Without paying any attention to Bachua, he dragged the bag of money from the carriage and made off in the direction of V.... Street.

Where was Kamo, organiser and inspirer of the whole business? Dressed as an officer, still pale and hardly recovered from his wounds, he had been walking about the Square all the morning, keeping the public away by clever, mysterious remarks (his uniform prevented suspicion), so as to avoid useless shedding of blood. Kamo was in a carriage when the explosion occurred. His business was to receive the money and place it in safety. When he came out of G....Street into the Square, in accordance with the plan of campaign, he thought the attempt was another failure.

In any case he had to help the comrades to get away before the soldiers arrived-that was Kamo's first instinct. Rising in his seat, shooting with his revolver, uttering shouts and oaths like a real captain, he urged his horse towards V.... Street. And there by chance he encountered Datiko. The money was taken to the house of Mikha Bocharidze and hidden under a divan. Then it was taken to an absolutely safe place, the private office of the Director of the Observatory.

When the soldiers surrounded the Square they found no one there. Luckily all the persons engaged escaped arrest. Only certain indirect accomplices, changing the notes abroad, were discovered with small sums, but the Governments refused to extradite them.

This version of the affair, authenticated by the Bolshevik Party, completes and corrects the earlier one, but it may also need examination and correction. There is another by Dzvali, one of the participants, in a book by B. Bibineishvili on Kamo, with a police report and the deposition of a witness: several statements are contradictory and the proper names sometimes vary. It is very unlikely that a conspiracy of these dimensions could be improvised in a few hours, and there are no indications of the personal part played by Stalin, or of the share of his colleague Sergo Ordjonikidze, who had just arrived on the scene. Trotsky, alluding to this famous affair, admits that it "reflects honour on Stalin's revolutionary determination," but in answer to the inquiry why it should be omitted from the official biographies of that personage he says that in this affair Stalin displayed his lack of political sense, for the "ex'es," compatible with a mass offensive, were degenerating into adventurism in a period of revolutionary retreat. If the criticism was justifiable, it applied to Lenin, not to a subordinate. Moreover if the money requirements of the Party or the fraction justified such methods at all, considerations based on the ebb and flow of the revolution and brought forward after a delay of twenty years are not very convincing.

The end of the story is to be found in an article by Martov on The Mysterious Unknown. At the beginning of 1908 Kamo, arrested in Berlin under the name of Mirsky, succeeded in evading extradition by simulating madness. At the same time the Paris police arrested Litvinov, who was in possession of a considerable quantity of 500 rouble notes derived from the Tiflis "ex." Various other Bolsheviks were arrested at Munich, Stockholm and Geneva for attempting to change these notes, Semashko and Olga Ravich among others.

The Mensheviks demanded an impartial inquiry, and the Central Committee, under Lenin's direction, entrusted the matter to a commission presided over by Chicherin. The latter, making rigid inquiry, found that Kamo was preparing to pillage the Mendelssohn Bank in Berlin by bomb throwing. Chicherin also discovered that the Bolsheviks had placed an order for special Paper for the manufacture of bank notes. A certain quantity had already been sent through the dispatch agency of Vorwärts to Kuokkola in Finland, where Lenin and Zinoviev were living in secret at the time. Naturally Vorwärts was ignorant of the contents of the package. The man who provided the paper recognised Krassin as the customer from photographs. Lenin put a stop to these discoveries by persuading the Central Committee to transfer the inquiry to the "Bureau for foreign countries." But the Transcaucasian Committee, having made its own investigations, decided to exclude from the Party all the authors of the Tiflis coup, Stalin included. No name was mentioned in public, for fear of giving indications to the police; the same consideration prevented any open mention of false money.

Kamo had as a companion in arms a boyevik of remarkable personality, Alipi Tsintsadze, familiarly known as Koté. The latter was in prison at the time of the great exploit and therefore could take no part in it. But he had many others to his credit. His memoirs on this period are not without interest.

After the defeat of the revolution, an era of reaction set in at the beginning of 1906. Comrade Arsenius Djordjiashvili was entrusted with a mission to kill General Griaznov, a terrible reactionary, charged by the Government with the suppression of the revolutionary movement in Georgia. There was delay in carrying out the terrorist deed. Koba-Stalin sent for me and said: "If within the next week Djordjiashvili does not succeed in murdering Griaznov, we will give you the job, and for this purpose you must organise selected terrorists." But Djordjiashvili fulfilled his mission.

These lines show what sort of business Koba conducted and help to make his role clear: he did not himself execute operations, but directed those who did. Koté Tsintsadze proceeds as follows:

At this time the two sections worked in one organisation and were preparing for the "unity" Congress at Stockholm. Except for the Baku representatives the overwhelming majority of Transcaucasian delegates were Mensheviks. After the Congress it became clear that we Bolsheviks could not continue to work in one organisation with the Mensheviks. For my part I decided to create a purely Bolshevik club for expropriating State funds. Our advanced comrades, and particularly Koba-Stalin, approved my suggestion. In the middle of November 1906, the expropriators' club was organised and at the railway junction at Chiaturi we attacked a post office railway car, and took 21,000 roubles, of which 15,000 were sent to the Bolshevik fraction and the rest to our own group to provide for a series of expropriations later on....

Stalin's line of conduct gradually becomes clearer. Sometimes he would give a free hand so as to take advantage of success without being compromised in the event of failure; sometimes he would urge on others without directly exposing himself. Generally speaking he would take no direct responsibility, but maintain a certain effective authority by delegation of powers to intermediaries between the head and the lower ranks of the organisation. He had plenty of physical courage, but it was better to live for the revolution than to die for it.

As for Kamo his troubles were not ended. His incredible story must be shortly told, not for its romantic interest but because of his close association with Stalin's political career. Moreover the life of this rebel illustrates the specific characteristics of revolutionary action in Russia; no other Party affiliated to the Socialist International could have produced a rebel of this type. Comparison of this "professional revolutionary" of the Leninist school with any other European Social-Democrat, any representative of English labour or of trade unionism in the Latin countries shows how violent is the contrast created by social environment and historical circumstances. It is true that we are dealing here with an Armenian from Georgia, but one could find the same type of men in St. Petersburg and in Moscow, in Poland and in the Urals.

Kamo was a refugee in Berlin, and was then denounced by one of the principal militant Bolsheviks, Jitomirsky, an agent of the Russian secret police, and arrested after search of his lodgings; the police found explosives and an electrical apparatus "discovered to be an infernal machine." Imprisoned in the Alt Moabit jail, not speaking German and pretending he understood Russian with difficulty, he was zealously defended by the Social-Democratic lawyer Oscar Cohn, who communicated to him a note from Krassin advising him to feign mental disease. He carried out the incredible feat of keeping up pretended violent madness for four years, and submitting to the treatment imposed for it. He stamped, shouted, tore his clothes, refused food and struck his keeper. He was shut up naked in an icy cell, but did not yield. Put under observation in the infirmary and subjected to horrible tests, he stood upright for four months, refused food, was forcibly fed at the expense of several broken teeth, tore out his hair, hanged himself, counting on intervention at the last moment, opened blood vessels with a sharpened bit of bone, and lost consciousness in a flood of blood. The doctors gave in, and Kamo was transferred to an asylum where his tortures recommenced.

In order to test his pretended insensibility, needles were stuck under his nails and he was touched with red hot irons. He bore his torments stoically. The professors concluded that his malady was real. In 1909, the administration handed him over to Russia, rather than provide for a foreigner. Vorwärts at Berlin, L'Humanité at Paris and other journals roused public opinion. Brought before the Council of War at Tiflis, he took from his blouse a bird he had tamed in prison, and began to feed it with crumbs. He was again placed under observation; and underwent new tests sufficient to drive a sane man mad. At last, in August 1911, thanks to Koté Tsintsadze, he achieved a marvellous escape after having spent three months in sawing through his chains and the window bars, nearly killing himself by falling on to a rock in the Kura (the rope had broken), but escaped, outwitted the search for him, and reached Batoum, where he stowed away in the hold of a ship. In the end he reached Paris and "Vladimir Ilyich" (Lenin).

Lenin thought Kamo's health much shaken (sic), and prescribed rest. The "Caucasus brigand," as Lenin humorously called him, set out for the "South." At Constantinople he was arrested, but was set at liberty through the intervention of Georgian monks of Notre Dame de Lourdes! He dispatched arms to Russia, was again arrested in Bulgaria, but the socialist Blagoyev helped him to escape. Arrested once more on board the boat, with luggage filled with explosives, he was released by the Turks and went to Greece. "Some months afterwards, by agreement with Vladimir Ilyich, Kamo returned to Russia to procure money for the Party, which was at that time in considerable straits."

In the Caucasus he gathered round him once more the survivors of his old squad, and in September 1912 occurred the unsuccessful attempt on the Kodjorsky road. Bachua Kupriashvili and Koté Tsintsadze, both of them brilliant shots, covered the retreat by shooting down seven Cossacks, but in vain. The boyeviki were captured. Imprisoned once more in the Metekh fortress, four death sentences were passed on Kamo.

Tsintsadze, who occupied the next cell, got a note through to him in a lamp, and received the following reply:

I guessed, found the letter, resigned to death, absolutely calm. On my grave there should already be growing grass six feet high. One can't escape death for ever. One must die some day. But I shall try my luck again. Try any way of escape. Perhaps we shall once more have the laugh over our enemies.... I am in irons. Do what you like. I'm ready for anything.

The plan could not be carried out. Kamo was doomed. But the magistrate had a secret sympathy for this astonishing criminal, and prolonged the formalities until the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty. Then came the Imperial Rescript commuting the death penalty for prisoners under conviction to twenty years' hard labour. A vile penitentiary regime was slowly killing the martyr to Bolshevik finance. In 1917 he was saved by the revolution, brought back to life and a new career.

It is difficult to imagine such a man in a western industrial environment, and it is hard to think of him as a contemporary. It is not fortuitous that the old Bolshevik Lepeshinsky should call him a mediaeval hero. The Russian people, wrote Leroy-Beaulieu, "may have received a visit from Diderot, they may own Voltaire's library, but they are still living in the age of theology.... For the great mass of the people the Middle Ages are still a reality." The unchanging fervour of a Kamo, his consistent passion for sacrifice, his resignation under suffering and in the face of death derive from a mysticism which is plainly an anachronism by any comparison with the rationalism of more developed countries, whatever the view taken of rationalism itself. "Marxism" has nothing whatever to do with his inextinguishable ardour.

There was a religious mentality about the little Bolshevik group at Tiflis of which Kamo was the leading spirit. It had voluntarily separated from the Party for form's sake after the Stockholm Congress, which forbade expropriations. Russian socialists recalling past times can still make its environment and its atmosphere live again. The town in state of siege, the streets patrolled night and day, the perpetual menace of raids by soldiers and police—these were the conditions under which the seven comrades led a community life, a separate "cell," but still maintaining their personal connections with Social-Democracy. Their lodging was open to all comers, in a typical Georgian house with doors and windows opening on to a long balcony; it consisted of two rooms furnished in a primitive way, the men occupying the larger and the two women the smaller room. They possessed a very rudimentary knowledge of socialist theory, several of them rarely read anything, but their devotion to the cause was boundless. Lenin, the incarnation of the Party in their eyes, was the object of a regular cult, and they burned with desire to distinguish themselves by some signal service. Full of kindliness in their relations as between comrades, they could be ferocious if they thought the interests of the Party were at stake. Wretched conditions of life undermined their bodily health; those who survived the repression died of tuberculosis.

Moral and social criteria of other places and other times are not always applicable to terrorists and expropriators, whose methods could not be grafted on a modern State. The crossed cheque, the bank transfer, more and more in use, and the means of coercion perfected by a strong Government, to a large extent eliminate the picturesque violence of the methods in vogue in peasant countries. The barbarity of the Tsarist regime engendered cruel methods of opposing it. In the shadow of Russo-Asiatic despotism the inevitable revolutionary conflagration is preluded by the glare of explosions. A story of Leonid Andreyev's Sashka Yeguliov, giving a picture of the "ex," reflects the sympathy felt in educated society for the rough avenging boyeviki. Violence answered violence; the end desired by a whole nation seemed to justify the means. It is hard to understand why Stalin has taken pains to obliterate all signs of his responsibility in this matter, unless the reason is a tardy regret for having sacrificed the lives of comrades while he himself stood aloof. Pilsudski does not blush for the part he played as leader of the Polish bojowka, and he plunged sword in hand into terrorism.

The "fighting organisation" of the Polish Socialist Party carried out a hundred "ex'es" on a large or small scale: Rogow, Mazowieck, Bezdany are the most Important. Only in the last did Pilsudski personally take part, the rule of the bojowka being that each member must take part in at least one armed attack. The affair took place in the night of September 27, 1908, on the St. Petersburg-Warsaw line at the little station of Bezdany, where the bojowka cut the telephone and telegraph wires, seized a post-office car, terrorised the staff of the station and the car, and were able to "work" at their ease, carrying off 2,400,000 roubles according to an official biographer, though the figure is doubtful. From the confused accounts given in the Novoye Vremya it is impossible to extract a brief and comprehensible story. But it is true that Pilsudski made his will before the expedition; the precaution was unnecessary, for Bezdany was child's play compared with the Tiflis "ex."

The dissolution of the bojowka was one of the reasons for the schism of the Polish Socialist Party in 1906.The Nationalist Right, with Pilsudski and Daszynski, were more and more absorbed in secret military organisation. Similarly the "ex" deepened the gulf between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in Russian Social-Democracy. But in this case it was an international Left which attached a fundamental importance to military and "technical" work. On both sides the men of action tended towards practical preparation, looking for tangible means of securing victory in imminent civil war. The Polish Social-Democrats, opponents of the Pilsudski Party because of their hostility to nationalism, had no objection whatever to his lucrative proceedings, and their reputed organiser, Leon Tyshko, employed them on mutual account with Lenin.

The money question, the invariable corollary of the idea of professional revolutionaries, gradually assumed a disproportionate place in the life of the Social-Democratic émigrés, which had undergone changes after the defeat; it envenomed the relations between the two sections of the Party. If the Bolsheviks were able to secure a majority in 1907 it was largely due to the enormous resources obtained by the "ex'es" which made it possible for them to maintain a legion of militants, to send emissaries to all quarters, to found journals, to distribute pamphlets, and to create more or less representative committees. The Caucasus was not the sole source of revenue. An ex-boyevik from the Urals, Sulimov, relates in his memoirs that his group paid to the Bolshevik Central Committee 60,000 roubles; 40,000 roubles to the Regional Committee, providing, among other things, for the publication of three newspapers; and in addition subsidised the journeys of delegates (certainly Bolsheviks) to the London Congress, paid for the course for instructors in fighting at Kiev, the, school for bomb throwers at Lemberg, the traffic in contraband, etc. Although the revenue of the Party central organisation did not exceed a hundred roubles a month in bad years, the Bolsheviks had considerable sums at their disposal, though never enough for their needs. They sent, for example, a thousand roubles a month to their St. Petersburg organisation, and five hundred to Moscow. The Mensheviks, obstinately attached to European legalism, reduced to relying on the infinitesimal subscriptions, could not fight on equal terms with competitors who had no scruple; nor submit to the rule of a factitious majority. There was no discipline, and two parties wore one another down within the Party, which was doomed to break up anew into new fractions and sub-fractions.


STALIN had seen Lenin for the second time at the Stockholm Congress, but his recollections of the meeting contain nothing worth quoting. The third meeting was at the London Congress in 1907, and there is nothing interesting in Stalin's narrative of that; he confines himself to expressing unbounded admiration for Lenin, who was unperturbed by his success. There was nothing to be excited about in a precarious majority of a few votes, when one knew at what price and by what means it had been secured. If Lenin had only merited praise of this kind, his name would long since have been forgotten.

The Party had undergone great changes during the revolution; it had developed in numbers, in experience, and in political maturity. At the Stockholm Conference there were 36 workmen and 108 intellectuals, who represented 343 prosecutions for political crime, and 286 years of prison and deportation. At London there were 116 workmen, and 196 intellectuals and others. The statistics state that these included 56 "professional revolutionaries" and 118 delegates "living at the expense of the Party" (without indicating how many militants of this class there were in Russia). The delegates had against their names 710 prosecutions, 834 years in prisons, fortresses, and deportation, of which 597 years had actually been served, and 120 escapes. Finally, in a single year the Mensheviks had increased their membership from 18,000 to 43,000; the Bolsheviks from 13,000 to 33,000; the total number of Bundists (33,000), Poles (28,000), Letts (13,000) had doubled.

The London Church in which the Congress held its thirty-five sessions was the scene of stormy debates. Trotsky escaped from Siberia, took up a "centrist" position, and was almost the only conciliator between the two nearly equal sections (the Bolsheviks supported by the Poles and Letts, the Mensheviks by the Bundists). "What has the schism done for you?" he asked the two sides. "To do the same thing side by side, to march on common ground and mutually tread on one another's toes. And what is the result? You are compelled to reunite, first on a federative basis, and then in a congress of unity." He proceeded to conjure up the danger of a future schism with a succession of alternating unions and separations. His relations with the Left were still strained (the President even had to call him to order for having accused Lenin of hypocrisy), but there appeared to be a basis for a political rapprochement. He had the satisfaction of hearing a speech from Rosa Luxemburg which came very near his own conception of the "permanent revolution."

A new feature in the Congress was the appearance of a "parliamentary section," who criticised the Bolsheviks severely. After the brusque dissolution of the first Duma, followed by the Vyborg Manifesto, by which all the democratic parties repudiated in advance the debts contracted by Tsarism without the assent of the national representatives, the Party had taken part in the electoral struggle in spite of the unfavourable conditions created by the electoral property qualification. Internal discord at once appeared on the question of the tactics to be followed with regard to the Kadets. "Strike together, but march separately," Marx's formula, rediscovered by Plekhanov and adopted by Lenin, did not quite solve the problem.

Martov proposed to support liberalism in cases where the choice lay between it and reaction, and to conclude an electoral agreement, even in the primary elections. Lenin consented to understandings of this kind except in the primary elections, advocating as more advantageous a left bloc, with the Trudoviki (Labour), or with the Social Revolutionaries as occasion offered. The Central Committee, and also a Party Conference held in Finland (November 1906) had adopted the Menshevik view. A "Red" Duma succeeded the Kadet Duma; fifty-four Social-Democrats entered Parliament, of whom two-thirds were Mensheviks and one-third Bolsheviks. In Georgia Social-Democracy triumphed over all its adversaries and rivals.

Under the perpetual menace of dissolution and in the absence of real parliamentary immunity, the parliamentary fraction had a difficult task, and their courage and goodwill failed to solve all the difficulties. In their illusions about the Kadets, "His Majesty's Opposition," and their prudent language, they ill-reflected the combative state of mind of the active majority of the Party. Lenin criticised them severely. Tseretelli, Leader of the Duma, and Rapporteur to the Congress, had declared: "The struggle for freedom cannot be conducted without some sort of coalition with bourgeois democracy." Lenin accused him of reformism, and reproached the deputies with inclination to bourgeois parliamentarism. Trotsky, who agreed to some extent with the Bolsheviks on the principle but objected to their tone, spoke against them, and drew down on himself the reply from Lenin: "It is not wise, nor worthy of a working-class party, to conceal differences."

The majority of the Bolsheviks voted against Axelrod's proposition for a "workers' congress," for summoning all the socialist parties and workers' groups in one large assembly, a first step possibly towards a kind of Labour Party on the English model. They secured the adoption of a motion which gave Social-Democracy a directing role in the trade unions (only recently formed in Russia and usually by socialists), and established organic connection between them and the Party. But on questions of internal management they could not secure a majority; in the new Central Committee they had a majority of only one vote, and that an uncertain one. The Bolshevik Centre continued to exist in secret, directing the "war of partisans," and the expropriations which the Congress had just forbidden.

Stalin saw Trotsky for the first time in London but Trotsky probably did not notice him. The leader of the St. Petersburg Soviet did not make chance acquaintances, or make friends except on the basis of real affinities. Outside of the Caucasus, Koba was unknown except by a very small circle of Bolsheviks. He did not speak at the Congress. He had succeeded in getting a seat as representative of the Borchalo district, where no branch of the Party existed, but with less success this time; the authorised delegation from the Caucasus protested against this fabrication, and Koba remained only on tolerance and without the right to vote. A "true Bolshevik" did not bother about a detail like that. The Tiflis affair soon showed how much Koba cared about the Congress, its orders and its resolutions.

The official biography relates that Koba directed the Dro (Times) at Tiflis in 1906, and in the following year the Bakinsky Rabochi (Baku Workman) at Baku. He also wrote a series of articles on Anarchism and Socialism which have remained unknown. These small local journals, whose editors simplified and diluted Lenin's writings, had an ephemeral existence of a few weeks; as for the articles in question they are not reprinted. Stalin did not then pretend to any rank as a theorist and writer. His more modest aim was to procure control of the Bolshevik group at Baku, outside Georgia, where he felt he could get no further. After so notorious a defiance of a decision of the Congress, his exclusion from the Party at Tiflis was inevitable; prudence counselled a speedy change in his held of action. Baku was the nearest place, and one of steadily increasing importance.

The ancient Perso-Tartar town, now blackened with naphtha, grew like an American city. Its population rose from 14,000 in 1865 to 112,000 at the 1897 Census, and it now numbers 446,000. In odd contrast with the petroleum wells, it has kept its mosques and minarets, its vast oriental bazaar, and labyrinth of sordid streets crowded with Muslims, and its temple of the Fire Worshippers, guarded by a Parsee. The petroleum wells, which produced 340,000 poods in 1862, were already yielding 636,000,000 in 1902 and attracted a wretched and illiterate proletariat of Turks, Persians, Armenians and Russians, whom the two opposed Social-Democratic groups each sought to dominate.

After the departure of Krassin and then of Knuniantz, who joined the Mensheviks, the outstanding militants of Lenin's fraction were S. Shaumian and P. Djaparidze. The latter (who must not be confused with his namesake, Artshil, deputy to the Duma), devoted himself to trade union work. Stalin, who competed with Shaumian for pre-eminence in the Party, determined to oust him. The two men were soon at daggers drawn. "Between the two there began a long struggle, pushed to such length that the Baku workmen even suspected Djugashvili of having denounced Shaumian to the police and wanted to bring him up before a Party tribunal. He was saved by arrest and exile in Siberia." This episode, known to old militants and related in the article in Brdzolis Khma, already quoted, has never been cleared up. The dates are uncertain, but it is a fact that Shaumian's arrest was attributed in Party circles to denunciation and that Koba was suspected.

There is nothing to prove the accusation. Such proofs hardly ever exist. But are the moral presumptions sufficient to support the terrible suspicion? Accumulated indications may perhaps lead to certainty. What is certain and significant is that Stalin's own comrades should have thought him capable of giving up a brother-in-arms to rid himself of a rival. For the second time he was accused of intrigue and greed of power, and the accusation does not come from the enemy, but from the ranks of the Party and the fraction. Whether deserved or not, the assumption was made.

To this period also belong certain special practices only vaguely referred to by Bolsheviks to-day—manoeuvres for the extortion of funds (vymogatelstvo) for the Party treasury by various methods of pressure on the employers in the petroleum industry. For the same reason it would be premature to seek to verify certain stories put about by those who saw much of Stalin at Baku, among others those relating to the Sakvarelidze false money affair. To note them even without mentioning names would be to reveal the sources and jeopardise the liberty of those who committed the indiscretions. The silence imposed on Stalin's former fellow-workers in prison or in exile is eloquent enough in a country where the most detailed and unreserved memoirs are published.

Even Koba's own writings are systematically suppressed. Trotsky has stated that "During the whole period of the reaction, from 1907 to 1911, there is not a single document available, whether article, letter or resolution, in which Stalin has expressed his opinion on the actual situation or on the future. It is impossible that such documents should not be in existence. It is impossible that they should not have been preserved, if only in the police archives. Why are they not published?

More interesting information on the Koba of these days has been published abroad by the Social Revolutionary Vereshchak, who presided over the Soviet of soldiers of the Tiflis garrison. How much confidence can be placed in it? Simon Vereshchak had a faultless moral reputation in various revolutionary circles; the Bolsheviks themselves gave indisputable proof of it by reproducing his recollections, in their own fashion, in Pravda, the official Party organ. Under the heading of "Certified Correct," and, exceptional circumstance, twice over, on February 7, 1928, and December 20, 1929, the paper published a feuilleton by Demian Biedny, a close friend of Stalin's, in which extracts from Vereshchak alternate with a commentary by the Bolshevik writer. "Certified Correct," said Pravda, by way of emphasising and confirming the passages which seemed to them likely to enhance their master's reputation. But a simple comparison of Vereshchak's memoirs with Demian Biedny's feuilleton reveals a clever, deceptive selection, which gives an inexact impression of the document in question. The source only has to be consulted to re-establish the truth and learn more about the real Koba.

He had been arrested in March 1908, after Shaumian, then imprisoned in the Bailovskia jail before being exiled for two years under surveillance to the province of Vologda, north of Moscow. He spent eight months in prison, where Vereshchak knew him well. Prison was a good place for estimating character for many reasons. In the Baku jail, intended to accommodate 400 prisoners, but at that time occupied by more than 1,500, the "politicals" had their own economic commune and a doyen assisted by a commission on which Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries had equal representation. Vereshchak was a member of the commission, and was thus able to collect biographical information about Stalin which at all events reflected current opinion. It is easy to discriminate between facts and comments.

According to Vereshchak, the young Djugashvili had been excluded from the Seminary for being a member and leader of a clandestine socialist club: "His comrades in the club say that soon after his expulsion, they were in turn expelled. After an interval it was ascertained that the expulsions were the result of, a denunciation conveyed by Stalin to the Rector. In the subsequent explanations with his comrades he did not deny the accusation, but justified the action by saving that the expelled students, who lost their claim to the priesthood, would become good revolutionaries." A parallel is suggested between the two denunciations, for Vereshchak evidently knew nothing of the Shaumian affair, which he does not mention. If this is a coincidence of error, it is a disturbing one.

In prison Stalin was admitted without difficulty to the prisoners' commune. The jail, says Vereshchak, "was a revolutionary school for propaganda and fighting purposes. Among the leaders of groups and clubs Koba professed his Marxian principles." The newcomer was cautious in speech and not very communicative. "While the 'politicals' tried not to mix with ordinary criminals, and specially warned their younger members against doing so, Koba was always to be seen in the company of murderers, blackmailers and robbers.... He was always impressed by men who had brought off an 'affair.' He looked on politics as an 'affair' requiring dexterity. He shared a cell with the two forgers of 500 rouble notes, Sakvarelidze and his brother Niko, then a Bolshevik." Vereshchak describes Koba as given to formal controversies.

The agrarian question was at that time exciting hot discussions, in which the antagonists sometimes came to blows. I shall never forget an agrarian debate organised by Koba at which his comrade, Serge Ordjonikidze ... brought home his conclusion by striking his fellow speaker, the Socialist Revolutionary Ilya Kartsevadze, in the face, for which he received a thorough thrashing from the Social Revolutionaries.

Koba's personal appearance and his rudeness in controversy made him an unpleasing speaker. His speeches lacked wit and his statement of his case was dry. His mechanised memory was astounding.

He was always ready to quote Marx, and so impress the young and ignorant. In Transcaucasia he seemed a sort of local Lenin... "His remarkable lack of principle and his practical cunning made him a master of tactics." He hated the Mensheviks, whose arguments he was incapable of meeting. "All means are justified against them," he said.

When the whole prison was nervously excited on account of a midnight execution, Koba would sleep or quietly recite in Esperanto, the future language of the International, he thought. As for solidarity among the prisoners, "he never proposed any measures of protest, nor did he resist the most extreme or ridiculous treatment....He did not instigate revolt, but he supported the instigators. That made the prisoners look on him as a good comrade." One day (Vereshchak is certainly wrong here in his date), the politicals were thrashed by a company of soldiers. "Koba walked along under the blows of the butt ends of rifles with head unbent, with a book in his hands." This is the phrase to which Pravda paid homage.

Another point, "partly explaining perhaps why Stalin remained so long obscure," was "his capacity of secretly urging others to action while himself remaining aloof." This confirms the description given of his conduct during the "expropriations." One day a young Georgian was cruelly struck down in a corridor of the prison on account of a rumour accusing him of being an agent provocateur; the body covered with blood was taken away on a stretcher. It was asserted that no one knew anything of the victim or of the accusation. "A long time after, it became clear that Koba had originated the rumour." How can one help recalling the two earlier anonymous denunciations?

On another occasion the ex-Bolshevik Mitka G— stabbed to death a young workman, unknown to him, in the belief that he was a spy. Now the execution of a traitor or a spy on the initiative of an individual has never been permitted in revolutionary circles; there is a rigid rule requiring group responsibility. For a long time the affair remained obscure. "At last Mitka let it be known that he thought he had been led into error. The instigation came from Koba." A fourth incident of this kind, which justifies the following remarks by Vereshchak, and confirms many other statements.

This aptitude for striking secretly by the hands of others while remaining in the background himself showed Koba as an astute intriguer, using all means to gain his end and escaping the penalties and the responsibility for the actions in question. This characteristic of Stalin's was displayed in all his "affairs." In the organisation of forgers issuing 500 rouble notes, in the notorious robberies of State funds, Koba's hand was felt, but he was never implicated in the prosecutions, although forgers and "expropriators" had been imprisoned with him. Moreover he insolently assailed the Social Revolutionaries for terrorism and expropriation.

Such were the essential data which Pravda was so imprudent as to "certify correct," under the censor's scissors, thanking the author for "having in spite of himself traced, though in faint lines, the living portrait of a true Bolshevik." These data, indeed, complete and confirm the observations already made. Certain characteristics emerge from the picture. The first is a "will to power" disproportionate to the will to know, almost attenuating the Nietzschean conception of the end of man to material and practical requirements, ignoring the various forms of intellectual activity, analysis and synthesis and aesthetic appreciation, serving the instinctive rebelliousness of a man who had never been reconciled to his environment (the spirit of revolt not always finding expression in the concept of a loftier humanity or of a rational organisation of society). The second characteristic is a narrow realism, efficacious within strict limits; and with it a lack of appreciation of theory or of general ideas—a temper of mind inherited from his peasant ancestors. The third is a religious education overlaid with a travesty of Marxism consisting of elementary formulae learned by heart like a catechism, and lastly oriental dexterity in intrigue, unscrupulousness, lack of sensitiveness in personal relations, and scorn of men and of human life. Koba, more and more a professional revolutionary, felt himself to be hard and cold as the steel from which he adopted his name.

In July 1909 he escaped from Solvychegodsk, in the province of Vologda, where he had been sent to live under surveillance, and lived in hiding at St. Petersburg with Savchenko, quartermaster of the regiment of Horse Guards. Flight was easy for exiles of this category, only subjected to obligatory residence in a certain place, and to report periodically to the authorities. A month later he returned to Baku, and resumed his subterranean political activity until March 1910, when he was again arrested and, after some months in prison, sent back to Solvychegodsk for five years. There, in a sparsely populated forest region where there were many exiles, "he helped to form a Social-Democratic organisation, delivered lectures, and trained propagandists," if one can trust the account of V. Nevsky. In fact nothing is known of his existence in exile, and the vague statement in the dictionary adds nothing to the original sources of information. A police dossier shown at an exhibition at Veliky-Ustiug under the heading "conduct," notes to his advantage, "rude, insolent, disrespectful to the authorities."

The period of his activity in the Caucasus was at an end; exclusion from the Party practically drove him from Georgia, and Baku was too hot for him. What did he leave behind him in the town? "A citadel of Bolshevism," replies his official biographer. A flagrant inexactitude. The "citadel" dissolved rapidly into fusion with the Mensheviks. Another revolution was required to reconstitute a Bolshevik group at Baku.

In the spring of 1911, Koba fled again, and went to St. Petersburg, where he went by the name of Ivanov, spending his nights at the lodgings of his friend Todria. On September 10th of that year, he was arrested, spent some weeks in prison, and was exiled for the third time, on this occasion for three years, to Solvychegodsk. Shortly afterwards he escaped again; at the end of 1911 he returned to St. Petersburg. The official biographies are not in detailed agreement, but the errors and contradictory statements are unimportant. It is only necessary to note the relatively light sentences and the slightness of the surveillance, indications that the police did not regard Koba as very dangerous. The revolutionaries in the "dangerous" category were more severely treated and better watched.

In February 1912, a decision taken by a small committee abroad made Koba a member of the Central Committee of the Party. What explanation is there for the rapid advance to the supreme controlling organ of the Party of a man who had been expelled from it? It is that the Party at this moment was not one, but two. Trotsky's fears were justified; a new schism had thrown the "enemy brothers," henceforward not brothers at all, into violent opposition. Lenin had gathered round him his "professional revolutionaries" and had chosen the most faithful of them as his "group of clandestine organisers." Stalin filled his requirements. There were as yet no definitive boundaries, and many Social-Democrats crossed the line from one to the other, but Bolshevism and Menshevism were crystallising into irreconcilable systems.


IMMEDIATELY after the London Congress, the Red Duma had been dissolved, the Constitution derided, and the Social-Democratic deputies, with Tseretelli at their head, imprisoned and deported. This coup d'état of June 1907 may be said to indicate the end of this phase of the revolution. The country made no protest. Lenin, who had up till then insisted on keeping armed rebellion on the programme, could no longer hope for an immediate union of workmen, peasants and soldiers in victorious insurrection, and resigned himself to the reality; reaction was general and profound, and would be more so. He recognised the fear and apathy of the masses. All the socialist parties were exhausted, disorganised and disabled. Repression hastened the decline of the workers' movement; journals were suppressed, printing offices closed, trade unions prohibited and persecuted. Social-Democracy was not the least seriously affected. Zinoviev admits that "it may be said plainly that at this unhappy period the Party as a whole ceased to exist."

Tsarism enjoyed a respite largely due to the international situation. In the game of European alliances, Imperial Russia, in spite of the disastrous war in the Far East, was an important, though over-estimated, factor. Loans made by French capitalism, deaf to the warning of the St. Petersburg Soviet and to the Vyborg Manifesto, contributed substantially to the consolidation of the autocracy. The Prime Minister, Stolypin, though he kept the gallows busy, also prepared his agrarian reform, facilitating the formation of a class of small rural proprietors in the hope of disarming the simmering peasant revolt. "Agrarian Bonapartism," said Lenin. After two years of famine the harvest of 1907 and the exceptional plenty of the two following years gave a strong impulse to agriculture, in the midst of the industrial crisis.

The revolution, conquered, did not admit defeat, but resistance was maintained only by the conscious few. Socialist organisations of all shades lost members in less time than it had taken to enrol them. Retreat, discouragement, decadence and disintegration are the terms which recur on each page of this chapter of social history. Indifference in political matters, a renaissance of religious mysticism, eroticism in literature, scepticism and pessimism, all of them phenomena caused by the disorder following defeat and despair, created an atmosphere unfavourable to Social-Democracy. In addition to losses in physical strength, the Party was entering on an era of demoralisation and disintegration of its forces and its central organisation.

Lenin, in choosing his "professional revolutionaries," had sought courage rather than intellectual gifts. This enabled him to create a skeleton organisation, carefully graded and disciplined, to use for his own ends energy such as that of the fighting squads which the Mensheviks were neglecting; he was able to summon to Helsingfors a conference of his technical and military experts, who formed the embryo of a Red Guard. But any such "active" militant, useful to some extent in the hands of an experienced chief, tended to become "passive" when left to deal on its own initiative with a situation requiring political intelligence and an historic sense. So long as the "best man" was not definitely imposed on his subordinates, to handle the instrument in the best interests of the cause, he wasted his energies in securing recognition of his authority, and waging a constant struggle to maintain it. Without him the phalanx was a body without a head. To leave it to lieutenants was to invite disaster.

Shortly after the London Conference, Lenin found himself in opposition to his own fraction, and his success at the recent Congress was shown to be illusory. At the Party Conference held at Vyborg in July there came up again the question of participating in the elections, this time to a Parliament in which representation of the workers would be practically wiped out under the altered laws. The Bolsheviks wanted a boycott, with the exception of Lenin, who did not hesitate to vote with the Mensheviks in favour of participation, and had no support; he was alone in his group, says Kamenev, or almost alone. Koba, a fervent "boycottist," was not present, but Zinoviev and Kamenev were there to voice a pseudo-revolutionary intransigence on the morrow of the revolution. The most serious aspect of the matter for Lenin was the conflict with his closest colleagues, Bogdanov and Krassin, members of the secret Bolshevik Centre known as the "Little Trinity." It was the beginning of a bitter internal struggle among the Bolsheviks.

The "Black Duma," the third, only included fifteen Social-Democrats, most of them Mensheviks. The Georgians had once more surpassed all expectations, and their deputies, Chkheidze and Gueguechkory became the most prominent spokesmen of socialism in Russia. The character of this Duma is well described in the famous words of the Minister Kokovtsev: "Thank God, Parliament is no more." But, said Lenin, that was no reason for not trying to get into it. The "boycottists" became either "ultimatists," advocating the dispatch to Social-Democratic deputies of an ultimatum imposing on them the orders of the Central Committee, or "otzovists," advocating their withdrawal. Lenin, at odds with this Left of the Left, manoeuvred carefully before deciding on open war. Martov notes in his History that Lenin associated himself with the "ultimatists" twice, in 1907 and in 1908. Finally he made a stand, refusing even to recognise "ultimatumism" as a legal form of Marxism. He called its adherents "Mensheviks turned inside out," while they accused him of Menshevism pure and simple and called him a renegade.

On the Menshevik side the position was no better. The majority, with Potressov and Larin, wanted to "liquidate" the Party as moulded by pre-revolutionary circumstances, to make an end of "illegal" action, to found a new Party adapted to new conditions, and to keep it on "legal" lines at all costs. They were the Right of the Right. Martov and Dan, attracted at first by this tendency, sought to put "legal" action first, without categorically condemning "illegal" work, which would, they thought, die a natural death. Plekhanov represented a third Menshevik position, the nearest to Lenin's, definitely favourable to the maintenance of the clandestine Party.

Lenin, logical in his own standpoint, wanted to combine "legal" with "illegal" action, laying most stress on the second. The Left, inspired by Bogdanov, demanded a return to the earlier conspiratorial methods and abandonment of trade unionism as well as of Parliament. Trotsky, at the head of an intermediate group, professed himself to be "neither Bolshevik nor Menshevik, but revolutionary Social-Democrat," and aimed at reconciling the irreconcilable. Lenin was soon confronted in his section of the Party with a Right Wing, unionist and conciliatory, advocating any sort of compromise with the Mensheviks and acting on the advice of Nogin, Rykov and Sokolnikov. In addition to all these divisions there were the national groups—Poles, Letts, Bundists—leaving out of account minor complications; such was the situation among the leaders of a Party which claimed to be the natural guide of the proletariat in matters of theory. Under the circumstances it is comprehensible that a man like Riazanov should stand aside and prefer to devote himself to editing the posthumous works of Marx and Engels.

It is impossible here to follow up the divisions of Social-Democracy in their various proceedings, general conferences and sectional meetings, learned theories and transcendental considerations—a theme arduous for specialists. The essential is to watch those of the leaders who influenced the events which transformed the unknown Koba into the surprising Stalin, and to know what were the results of their agreements and disagreements. For the same reason we shall abstain from recalling the changing fortunes of competing papers and reviews. In this mass of detail there is nothing valuable for future generations.

In 1908 Lenin had asked Trotsky to collaborate in the Proletarian, a Bolshevik paper, and had been met with a refusal. In a letter to Gorky he called this attitude a pose. In later controversies he called Trotsky a poseur and a "phrasemaker," words expressing his dislike of fine words and magniloquence, so alien to his own sober diction. Trotsky thought he was more useful outside the Party divisions, and played a lone hand in his Pravda, waiting for an opportunity of reunion. At the end of the year, a Party conference had condemned both the Right and the Left wings, acting under the influence of Lenin, who was determined to "liquidate the liquidators" and to fight those of his old disciples who had become "liquidators of the Left." A Bolshevik committee in 1909 confirmed the tactics of "war on two fronts." Moreover, while the Left demanded the continuance of conspiratorial and terrorist methods, Lenin secured the disavowal of "fighting methods degenerating into pure adventure," the dissolution of the last fighting units, and the exclusion of belated "expropriators." When he thought tactics and methods were out of date he did not hesitate to strike hard if he failed to convince those who moved too slowly; he sometimes ignored his own earlier instructions. That did not prevent him, as we have seen, from sending Kamo in 1912 to the Caucasus, to risk his life on the road to Kodjor....

This attitude meant rupture with the Left. Lenin lost not only Krassin, but Bazarov, the economist, Pokrovsky, the historian, Gorky, the great writer, and lesser auxiliaries, Alexinsky, Liadov, Menzhinsky, Lunacharsky and Manuilsky. But he was not the man to shrink from losses entailed by hopeless disagreement with his ideas. It was essential, to use his own expression, to show "steadfastness in the struggle not only on the holidays of revolution but on the ordinary week-days of counter-revolution." He reproached the Left with "repeating a formula divorced from the series of circumstances which had produced it and assured its success, and applying it to conditions essentially different." During the revolution, he said, we learned to "speak French," now we must learn to "speak German," that is to say, to follow up the heroism of the revolutionary period by patient organisation appropriate to the new situation.

He remained an impenitent "Jacobin" of the proletariat, with an unreserved admiration for the "great French Revolution whose vitality and powerful influence on humanity is demonstrated by the wild hatred which it still provokes"; he was haunted by the French national tradition of 1793, "perhaps the final model for one order of revolutionary methods." But the hour for Jacobin methods had not yet sounded in Russia. Meanwhile, after having "spoken French," and advised "speaking German," he never ceased "speaking Russian," sounding all possibilities, weighing opportunities, calculating the chances of keeping the Party on the right track, avoiding alike belated or premature insurrection inspired by romantic motives, and constitutional and parliamentary illusions.

Always to "speak Russian," even when borrowing theory and practice from other revolutionary movements, this was the secret of his superiority over his adversaries. He was a disciple of Marx, but undogmatic, eager in the pursuit of science and knowledge, always alive to the teachings of experience, capable of sincerely recognising, surmounting and making good his errors, and consequently of rising above himself. Endowed with the temperament of a leader, and with a sure sense for the real and the concrete, he had in addition Russian intuition. When Trotsky, Axelrod, Martov and Dan, impressed by the continuous growth of socialism and the numerical strength of the trade unions in Germany, advocated the "Europeanisation" of Russian Social-Democracy, a radical change in mentality, Lenin, who had earlier told the Mensheviks enamoured of parliamentarism not to copy German models, replied that the character of any Social-Democracy was determined by the economic and political conditions of a country. No one had more respect for the original methods of a workers' party, and he did not wish to model the Russian revolutionary movement on any other, but was willing to learn something from all schools. He took part in the International Socialist congresses at Stuttgart in 1907, and at Copenhagen in 1910, but abstained from laying down the law to anyone, reserving his criticisms for the "Girondins" of his Party.

In the common parlance of political topography, Trotsky belonged to the Centre, from which point of vantage he reproved Right and Left extremists; his standpoint bore apparent similarity to Lenin's; in reality it was quite different. The latter opposed both Wings, and ran the risk of detaching them from the Party, while the former dreamed of conciliating all groups, directing his main attack on the Bolsheviks as being the most serious obstacle to unity. Trotsky denounced Lenin's "sectarian spirit, individualism of the intellectual, and ideological fetichism." He maintained that Bolshevism and Menshevism had not struck deep root and were rivals for "influence over a proletariat still politically immature." Martov compared the Leninists to the American socialist sect of Daniel de Leon and regarded the Russian experiment as a "victory of Blanquist and anarchist ignorance over Marxian science"; he ascribed to the Bolsheviks the responsibility for Russian Social Democracy's having learnt "to 'speak Russian' too exclusively and of neglecting to 'speak European.'"

Lenin's reply was: "Yes, the Russian proletariat is much less mature politically than the western proletariat. But of all classes of Russian society, the proletariat showed the highest degree of political maturity in 1905 to 1907." He held his ground against his two opponents, developing the following argument: "Martov and Trotsky confound different historical periods in comparing Russia, which is only now completing its bourgeois revolution, to Europe where it is long since over." But above all he concerned himself with Trotsky, whom he condemned. To summarise Lenin's own words, Trotsky's sonorous and empty phrases were those of a Tartarin de Tarascon, he was accused of hole and corner diplomacy, of the methods of a procuress, and of wishing to stifle discord instead of searching out its causes, of following the principle of "live and let live." At the International Congress at Copenhagen, in alliance with Plekhanov, always hostile to Trotsky, he tried to induce the Russian delegation to censure him as guilty of harsh criticism in Vorwärts (August 1910), of both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, the latter for the expropriations; but Riazanov and Lunacharsky intervened with success to prevent it.

Thus relations between the strongest personalities in the Party were envenomed, in spite of their agreement on the faults of the Left and Fight Wings. In January 1910, the Central Committee met to make a final attempt to secure internal peace. Eight fractions were represented, without counting minor groups. The principal personages achieved a compromise on the basis of repudiating the faults of the "liquidators" on both sides, of reorganising the central organisation and the press. The Central Committee was to be transferred to Russia, with a bureau abroad, and Trotsky's Pravda became its official organ. But these decisions were violated by all sections who resumed their liberty of mutual attack. An inexplicable state of things if only the arguments exchanged in public are taken into account, but quite comprehensible to anyone knowing the real reasons kept secret outside the Party. These are to be found especially in a pamphlet of the time, Saviours or Destroyers, in which Martov recapitulates a long series of grievances against the Bolsheviks, and sets out the facts too long unknown except to a few initiates.

Martov's views are disputable, and have been abundantly discussed, but no doubt has been cast on his veracity, even by his most impassioned opponents. Krupskaya, in her Recollections, testifies to the great esteem which Lenin always had for him, even in the midst of the fiercest factional disputes. Martov was an extremely sensitive man, who, "thanks to the delicacy of his perceptions, could comprehend Lenin's ideas and develop them with great ability," she wrote, and Lenin "renewed relations with him whenever he came into line at all." During the War of 1914, Lenin said in public that the Goloss, in which Martov wrote, "is the best socialist journal in Europe" and often expressed the desire of coming to an understanding with his old comrade of St. Petersburg. Trotsky calls him "one of the most tragic figures of the revolutionary movement, a gifted writer, a resourceful politician, a man with a mind brilliant but not sufficiently virile, clear-sighted, but lacking in will-power." However that may be, the sincerity and truthfulness of his testimony cannot be contested. Moreover, other sources provide details and facts which confirm his allegations.

The pamphlet reports incidents arising inside the Central Committee which made even a minimum of harmony impossible. Discord began over the "Anarcho-Blanquism" of the Leninists, "the product of the contradictory conditions of development of the Russian working-class movement," the advantageous effect of which during open civil war as stimulating revolutionary energy is not denied by Martov. But the infractions of the resolutions passed by Congress on the terrorist activity had fatal consequences in the end. Expropriation developed into brigandage, and compromised the Social-Democratic Party, introducing the seeds of failure and disintegration. The funds seized were not used only for arms, but in the interests of a faction and sometimes even for personal ends. The pro-Bolshevik committees in Russia, accustomed to live on funds provided by their organisers, disappeared as resources declined. The Bolshevik Centre exercised a regular occult dictatorship, thanks to its unauthorised ramifications and its funds, behind the back of the Central Committee, even though that Committee had a Leninist majority. Lenin was the centre of "an Order of Jesuits" within the Party, professing the cynical amoralism of Nechayev. The money question was disastrous. The Bolshevik Centre went so far as to "expropriate the Central Committee" of an immense sum earmarked for the Party. A series of scandals occupied the Party leaders. A Bolshevik named Victor defrauded the trustees of a considerable legacy, the possession of which was disputed between the two sections after the testator's death. The division of the money between the relatives of the testator and the Party was made the occasion of fresh threats from Victor, who wanted to deprive the heirs of their share. The affair had to be submitted to a commission nominated by the Social Revolutionary Party, as being neutral. The Bolshevik Centre was accused by the boyeviki of the Ural District (the Lbovtsy, from the name of their leader Lbov) of having taken their money improperly; the detachment of partisans at Perm had made an agreement with the Bolshevik "Technical Military Bureau" for a consignment of arms, paid for in advance, while the Central Committee had dissolved the said Bureau, which did not deliver the arms and refused to refund the money. Then there was the Tiflis "ex" and its repercussions, the difficulties raised in the Party by the camorra of those who changed the expropriated 500 rouble notes, and the arrest of various accomplices (Litvinov and Semashko), and the discovery at Berlin of Kamo's infernal machine. The Central Committee had to decide to destroy the remaining notes to circumscribe the danger. On top of this came the forgery affair, for which the paper bought by Krassin had been detected by the Reichsbank. There was also a case of an agent provocateur, many other suspicious cases, and a story of falsifications by Zinoviev. Added to all this were personal quarrels pursued to the point of folly, requiring investigation committees, juries of honour, and party tribunals.

These interminable discords, which had nothing to do with differences on theory, assumed alarming proportions in a period of political and social depression in which incidents took on the aspect of events. The quarrel over the inheritance, with its unexpected complications, attracted excessive attention, and aggravated misunderstanding. Private correspondence of this period, some of it published, gives evidence of this. Later writings by Trotsky frequently quoted in controversy, allude to "an expropriation within the Party," and to "dirty money" extracted from Kautsky and Clara Zetkin by the Bolsheviks. It is always the old tale.

The matter might be dismissed, if the eternal and disgusting question of cash had not acquired so much importance for international Bolshevism. A student, Nicholas Schmidt, the son of a rich furniture manufacturer, who had joined the Social-Democracy, died in prison, leaving to the Party a large fortune which he had inherited from V. Morosov. The Bolsheviks, as interested persons, sent to Moscow to supervise the transfer; one of their members, a lawyer, who betrayed his trust, entered into relations with the testator's eldest sister and secured for the Bolsheviks only a third of the estate. Another emissary, Victor (Taratuta), married the younger sister, and threatened her pro-Menshevik relations with energetic action by the Caucasian boyeviki if the whole sum was not paid over. There followed a complaint to the Central Committee, intervention by Martov, arbitration, conflicting claims, etc. The last slice of the booty, entrusted to Kautsky, Clara Zetkin and Franz Mehring pending a final settlement, fell into the hands of the Bolsheviks, always more successful than their rivals in this sort of thing.

Other issues arise in this doubtful business. The Social-Democrat Voytinsky relates, at second hand, that Lenin was supposed to have justified the employment of this man Victor by remarking: "He has this advantage, that he stops at nothing.... Would you for the sake of money have been capable of allowing yourself to be kept by a rich bourgeois woman? No. Nor would I, it would have been beyond me. But Victor did it. That man is irreplaceable." These words are unconfirmed but they are none the less plausible for that. In an article on the elections Lenin had written, paraphrasing Chernishevsky: "A man who is afraid of soiling his hands should not go into politics. The simpletons with white hands only do harm in politics...." Nevertheless, his political amorality was always subordinated to a higher social morality, expressed later on in his formula: "Morality is that which helps to destroy the former society of exploiters." He did not admit any kind of action under any pretext: "Would it be sufficient to allege an excellent aim or a good reason to justify participation in any abominable deed?" His criterion was the efficiency of any course from the point of view of the general interests of the proletariat and the progress of the socialist revolution. He never lost sight of his principles, and when he broke with Bogdanov, it was because philosophical differences seemed to him more important than the practical utility of work in common. But as he was not infallible, and as he was alone in his group in considering temporary expedients in their historical framework, his example was pernicious to mediocre imitators. Hence the reprobation of Trotsky, Martov and others and the frequent allusions to Nechayev, forerunner of the expropriators and comrade of Bakunin, whose strange Catechism might have served the Bolsheviks as a manual for pseudo-revolutionary immorality.


OPEN differences in theory ran parallel with dissensions behind the scenes. The Left, under the direction of Bogdanov, had its own paper, Vperyod, supported by an anonymous group who cherished the hope that they were creating an art, science and philosophy of the proletariat. They even evolved a project for utopian religion "without God," which Lenin undertook to fight as a materialist, following Plekhanov. On this occasion Plekhanov, with his great reputation in Russia as a controversialist, resumed his pen to refute Bogdanov's "empirio-criticism." Lenin, who was inadequately versed in philosophical questions, began to study them with enthusiasm, even neglecting his paper, in order to find a reasoned basis for his criticism. This scrupulous conscientiousness in intellectual work was an essential characteristic, and differentiated him from his immediate associates. Bogdanov and Gorky had founded a school of socialism for Russian workmen at Capri, then at Bologna; Lenin created one at Longjumeau, near Paris, one pupil of which had a successful career, Serge Ordjonikidze.

In spite of profound tactical differences, and after having declared Plekhanov to be beneath consideration as a political leader, Lenin tried to come to an understanding with his former master, who replied: "I also think that the only means of bringing the present crisis in the Party to an end is a rapprochement between the Marxist Mensheviks and the Marxist Bolsheviks"—but he deferred the interview. Plekhanov clearly divined the real intention. He said: "Lenin wants the unity of the Party, but he understands it as a man understands unity with a piece of bread; he swallows it." Trotsky had his own ideas about unity, allying himself both with 'Right and Left to bring the Bolsheviks to a compromise. Rosa Luxemburg demanded a general conference called at the request of the two principal sections.

In Russia the militants, and especially the workers, hardly understood these complications at headquarters. A letter from Koba written in 1911, interprets their attitude with good sense:

We have heard talk of the storm in a teacup abroad, the Lenin-Plekhanov bloc on the one hand and the Trotsky-Martov-Bogdanov bloc on the other. So far as I know the workers favour the first. But, generally speaking, they begin to look with scorn on doings abroad. Let them do what they like; as for us, if a man has the interests of the movement at heart and does his work the rest can be arranged. That is the best way in my opinion.

Such was the view of the ordinary Bolshevik, weary of seeing hairs quartered. Trotsky tried in vain, after the event, to define this state of mind as "indifference to theory," and the "myopia of the practical man." Other statements of Stalin's may be set against this, but it would be an error to take the political quarrels of the emigration for serious controversies or demand from the rank and file a contribution to the investigation of "empirio-monism."

Nogin's biographers say that he went in 1910 to Baku to ask Koba to enter the reorganised Central Committee; there is no indication of the result. It was evidently impossible for an expelled member of the Party to become a member of the Central Committee without being readmitted, at least so long as the facade of unity was maintained.

This deceptive appearance was about to disappear. Life in common was becoming intolerable; the two sections paralysed one another. Moreover, the situation in Russia was developing rapidly. Signs of effervescence appeared, as at Tolstoy's funeral. There were indications of new life. The industrial crisis came to an end and the renewal of production stimulated the working classes. There were new opportunities for socialist activity. Trotsky, always looking forward, had written some months earlier: "To-day, through the veil of the black clouds of reaction, we can discern the victorious gleam of a new October." Lenin, with his finger on the political pulse of Russia, wrote in his turn: "The Russian people are awakening to a new struggle, and are going forward to a new revolution." Each of them took the initiative in calling a Social-Democratic Conference. Lenin's was held at Prague in January 1912; it unceremoniously assumed Congress powers, and nominated a Central Committee. The Bolshevik Party was constituted at last.

The new "usurping" Central Committee consisted of seven members, among whom were Serge Ordjonikidze, and immediately enlarged itself by adding two members by co-optation; Stalin was one of these. The Mensheviks had excluded this "professional revolutionary" the Bolsheviks advanced him. Unknown to the Party of which he was the instrument, he became one of the leaders solely by the decision of the other leaders. He was never elected; at all stages from the local and provincial committees in the Caucasus, up to the supreme All-Russian Committee he rose patiently and gradually in the hierarchy of the organisation without requiring the confidence of the masses or thinking of responsibility to them. He belonged exclusively to the "clandestine group of organisers" who imposed him on the organised. The Party knew nothing about him at the time of his nomination and was to remain in ignorance for a long time. Lenin tried in his editorial note to attract attention to Koba's contributions in his Social-Democrat, but only a few dozen copies penetrated into Russia. In contrast to a Trotsky, independently developed, ripened in dispute and in controversy with Plekhanov, Lenin, and Martov, and associated with the representatives of international socialism, Stalin was a product of the Party, grown up under its tutelage; but this was only a section of the Party which was itself incorporated in the directing organisation.

The Central Committee, which was to sit abroad, at once appointed an "executive bureau" for Russia. Koba and Serge, fellow-workers in the expropriating operations, were members, "with allowances of fifty roubles a month," says a police report. They showed themselves apt in the execution of the orders which Lenin, himself practically the Central Committee, was authorised to give them. Stalin sometimes wrote in the St. Petersburg Zviezda, and brought some obscure assistance to the foundation of Pravda when the opportunity arose for the legal publication of a Bolshevik paper. The awakening perceived by Lenin was clearly evident after the massacre of the Lena strikers, which gave rise to protests and sympathetic strikes. The following First of May was the occasion of a great demonstration. The new Pravda appeared at a good moment. Supported by workmen's contributions, it met a real need for a daily socialist paper; its existence was better assured by humble voluntary sacrifices than was the case in earlier enterprises based on the proceeds of expropriations or the gifts of capitalists.

It is significant that histories of the Bolshevik Party by Zinoviev, Nevsky, Shelavin, Yaroslavsky and Bubnov do not mention Stalin in connection with Zviezda and Pravda. A specialist work by Olminsky on these two papers does not attribute to him any part in their foundation or management. There is only one trace of his hand, with a note indicating occasional contribution by him. The part assigned to him by the official biography prepared by his own secretary under his dictation is therefore pure fiction. On the tenth anniversary of Pravda, out of about forty articles commemorating its editors and various militants, two or three only mention Stalin, and that without saying anything of interest about him. He may have been useful in circulating the paper, though he was occupied with subordinate tasks and unable to write in an interesting fashion. "Editing" with the Bolsheviks has always meant management rather than editorial work; a good "editor" in their parlance means a man who sees to the strict execution of the instructions of the "clandestine group of management." Stalin was in hiding at St. Petersburg in the house of the Duma Deputy, Poletayev, whose recollections give no important information. In April of the same year he was arrested, condemned to three years in Siberia, and sent to the Narym district, in the Tomsk province, whence he escaped in September.

During this period several Social-Democratic fractions hostile to the Bolsheviks, answering a summons from Trotsky, had held a "unity" conference at Vienna in August 1912. The "August bloc," heterogeneous and negative in character, had no vitality and no future. Its effect was to exacerbate the relations between Lenin and Trotsky. Their most virulent controversies belong to this period. They do not contribute anything to the intellectual content of Bolshevism, but to ignore them altogether would be to suppress an element necessary for the comprehension of later crises in the Party.

Lenin denounced Trotsky for a policy of self-advertisement, for lack of principle and for adventurism. These were his actual expressions:

People like Trotsky with their resounding phrases about Russian Social-Democracy, are the plague of our time.... Trotsky to-day plagiarises the ideology of one fraction, tomorrow of another, and then declares himself above all the fractions.... It is impossible to discuss principles with Trotsky, for he has no definite conceptions. One can and should discuss with convinced adherents of the Right and the Left, but not with a man who plays at concealing the faults of one to the others; he is to be unmasked as a diplomat of the basest metal...Trotsky has never had any political colour; he comes and goes between the liberals and the Marxists, with shreds of sonorous phrases stolen right and left. Not all is gold that glitters. Trotsky's phrases are full of glitter and noise but they lack content.

Trotsky's views on Lenin were not less drastic: "professional exploiter of all the backward elements in the Russian workers' movement" and past master in "petty squabbling." In the letter to Chkheidze containing these words, Trotsky foresees the destruction of the very foundations of Leninism, which is "incompatible with the organisation of the workers into a political party, but flourishes on the dungheap of sectionalism," after having stated that "the whole edifice of Leninism to-day is founded on lies and falsifications and carries within itself the poison germ of its own decomposition."

This exchange of compliments went on simultaneously with professions of mutual tolerance, whose sincerity is only on a par with their absolute inanity. "A Party may include a whole spectrum of colours, in which the extremes may be absolutely contradictory," said Lenin, when he parted with Bogdanov, whom he would not have in his fraction, but whom he did not wish to drive out of the Party. He thus transposed into the socialist movement his democratic convictions, which he summed up in the concise axiom: "Outside democracy, no socialism." And after the definitive schism, Trotsky was to write:

In a large Marxist community embracing tens of thousands of workmen, it is impossible that divergences and discords should not exist. Every member of the community has not only the right but the duty of defending his point of view on the basis of the common programme. But in fulfilling that duty none should forget that he is dealing with differences among a band of brothers.... Discipline and cohesion in the struggle are inconceivable without an atmosphere of mutual esteem and confidence, and the man who fails to observe these moral principles, whatever may be his intentions, is undermining the very existence of Social-Democracy.

As for passing from words to deeds, no one took the step. Attempts at general unification were futile. Trotsky recognised the fact, and went to the Balkans as war correspondent for a Kiev newspaper. There he studied military questions, not without profit for the future, and formed a close friendship with Christian Rakovsky, the leader of Roumanian socialism, and one of the most attractive figures in international socialism. Lenin, foreseeing the approach of a revolutionary upheaval in Russia, left Paris for Cracow, where communications across the Austrian frontier were easier and more rapid. Stalin, escaped from Siberia, joined him there in December, 1912, for the Bolsheviks were to hold a meeting of the Central Committee.

Nothing would be known of Koba's brief sojourn in the Narym district, but for the opportune chance that Vereshchak met him at the village of Kolpashovo. Among the exiles there were Sverdlov, Lashevich and Ivan Smirnov. There was one escape after another, and Koba in his turn departed by boat, "almost openly, via the province of Tobolsk." In Siberia he had as a comrade a Social Revolutionary, Surin, who was later discovered to be an agent provocateur. In a Shanghai paper the singer Karganov, a former Social Revolutionary, published some Siberian reminiscences in which Stalin appeared as defending a common thief, as an anti-Semite, and as friend of the local commissar of police. For the latter connection he is said to have been brought before an exiles' tribunal. The article is wrong in its chronology at all events, but it confirms information already collected on Koba's personal predilections, though it adds little that is new.

After the meeting of the Central Committee he spent some months at Cracow and Vienna in 1913. Lenin, anxious to educate his co-workers, and to specialise them, provided him with the outline of a study on The National Question and Social-Democracy, and helped him in the work which was published in the review Prosvyeshchenye (Instruction). This is the first article signed Stalin. Having become a politician on the Russian scale, Koba adopted, with secret satisfaction, a name with a Russian ending which expresses his master quality—hard as steel. Rupert called Cromwell's men "Ironsides." Augustin Robespierre drew his brother Maximilian's attention to the young Bonaparte as "an iron soldier." Stalin did not wait for anybody to confer his metallic pseudonym.

Lenin thought him a suitable person to deal with the question of nationalities, since he came from a country where Georgians, Tartars and Russians ought to live at peace. "We have here a wonderful Georgian who is writing for Prosvyeshchenye, a great article containing all the Austrian and other material," wrote Lenin to Gorky. Stalin did not know any foreign language (even his studies in Esperanto remained fruitless), and the "Austrian material," with the possible exception of Otto Bauer's book in the Russian translation, was evidently derived directly from Lenin, together with the general ideas. His article is the work of a diligent pupil, good for a man of his education, but it passed unnoticed; even in 1923 Saveliev took no notice of it in the article he wrote on Prosvyeshchenye.

The question of nationalities, that is, the question of subject peoples and the ruling races, was most important at that time in Russia, where the revolutionary struggle was complicated by claims for independence or for autonomy by subject peoples. International Social-Democracy had no single definite opinion on the subject. The very existence of national socialist parties, Polish and so forth, while a single party grouped all the peoples of the Caucasus, shows the complexity of the problem in Russia. The Austrian Marxists, directly interested in the question, merely demanded national cultural autonomy within the established territorial limits, including all classes, without imposing on the workers any obligation to organise themselves as workers without distinction of nationality. Lenin maintained the right of self-determination up to and including separation, but at the same time he inculcated in all workers the duty of organisation for trade union or political purposes in a single group in each country irrespective of nationality. This is the thesis he had given Stalin to develop. Rosa Luxemburg thought it contrary to working-class internationalism, and considered Poland as too closely connected economically with Russia to think of separation.

On his return to St. Petersburg, Stalin, charged with the "direction" of the small group of Bolsheviks in the Duma, or more exactly with the transmission to them of Lenin's instructions, lived in hiding in the houses of the deputy Badayev and of the workman Alliluyev. The fourth Duma, elected in 1912, included thirteen Social-Democrats, of whom only six were Bolsheviks, but the latter certainly represented a majority among the workers. Identical programmes did not prevent schism between the two sections, as desired by Lenin—and by others, as they were one day to learn. The Prague Conference had adopted three essential demands: a democratic republic, the eight-hour day, confiscation of large estates—these were also the Menshevik demands. Chkheidze and Chkhenkeli, both Georgians, were the most popular orators in the Duma. The Bolshevik deputies, unable to take a line of their own or to formulate the Party programme, read from the tribune documents drawn up by Lenin at Cracow. The strong-fisted Stalin was there to keep them on "the line" traced by their leader. Lenin did the thinking for all of them.

Stalin's task was soon over. In February 1913, that is at the end of a few days, the police arrested the mentor at a "literary evening." After a few months in prison he was deported to the Turukhansk district, Martov's former place of exile, north of the Arctic Circle. This time the penalty was serious, Stalin was not to escape. His rank in the Party meant a correspondingly strict surveillance. He had been denounced by the Bolshevik leader in the Duma, the principal reader of Lenin's parliamentary speeches, the workman Malinovsky, a member of the Central Committee and at the same time agent of the Okhrana who submitted the speeches before they were read to the Police Department.

The Russian political police did not only maintain spies and agents provocateurs in the revolutionary organisations; they controlled the parties, groups and men in different ways, sometimes upsetting their plans by encouraging quarrels over theory. The break of Plekhanov and his comrades with the Peoples Will had been encouraged by the secret agent Degayev, who had been sent to persuade Tikhomirov to intransigence. The priest Gapon, hero of the Bloody Sunday of 1905, became an agent of the Okhrana, and was executed by order of the Social Revolutionary Party. The "fighting organisation" of this party, in the hands of the agent provocateur Azev, served police and Government plans at the same time that it was preparing plots for the assassination of grand-dukes and of the Tsar himself. Stolypin was killed by a terrorist police officer. The Bolshevik Party was infested with spies from top to bottom: Malinovsky, Jitomirsky, Romanov, Lobov, Chernomazov, Ozol, the best known, were "responsible militants." At the secret minor Bolshevik Conference in Prague of twenty-eight delegates present, there were at least four identified afterwards as provocateurs. The ample and detailed information supplied by police documents and circulars provide a remarkable historical documentation which no investigator can afford to miss. The varying configuration of the fractions of Social-Democracy is pictured in them with photographic accuracy. Spies had first-hand information.

It was not only the wishes of Lenin which had split the Social-Democratic Group in the Duma. General P. Zavarzin writes in his Memoirs of a Chief of the Okhrana: "Malinovsky continued his secret collaboration under the direction of the Head of the Police Department, S. P. Bieletzky, who advised him to provoke a split among the Social-Democrats sitting in the Duma, in order to reduce this fraction which had thirteen members. Malinovsky followed this counsel and obtained the wished-for result, without awakening the least suspicion among his comrades...." But a suspicion more and more concrete took shape in the minds of Bolsheviks like A. Troyanovsky and among the Mensheviks who demanded an inquiry from the president of the Bolshevik parliamentary fraction. Lenin replied defending Malinovsky and calling on Martov to repeat his "calumnies" in Switzerland so as to stand responsible for them before "the tribunal of the free Helvetian republic." Lenin placed unlimited confidence in Malinovsky. In July 1913 at Poronino, in Galicia, where Lenin had hired a country house, there was a meeting of five members of the Central Committee: Lenin, Krupskaya, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Malinovsky. Malinovsky knew everything. In view of recent arrests of Bolsheviks of the foremost rank, a small committee of three members invested with full powers, was charged with selecting trustworthy persons. Krupskaya and Kamenev retired; Malinovsky remained in the supreme trio. Among the decisions reached was one relating to the proposed escape of Sverdlov and of Stalin, both of them in exile near Turukhansk. The Okhrana, immediately warned by Malinovsky, of course took steps to prevent it. In September-October a new conference of eighteen delegates and four invited members met near Poronino. Two reports found in the Ministry of the Interior give detailed minutes of it; Malinovsky, who was again present, was nominated as Lenin's deputy to the International Socialist Bureau. He had no opportunity of fulfilling his mission.

In July 1914 the International Socialist Bureau summoned all fractions to Brussels with a view to ending the multiplicity of fractions in Russian Social-Democracy. Plekhanov, Rosa Luxemburg, Axelrod, Martov, Trotsky, Chkhenkeli, Alexinsky, Zurabov, Lapinsky, etc., took part in the session, which Lenin avoided, though as usual he had a long memorandum read by Inessa Armand demanding the recognition of the Bolshevik Party as an authorised section of the International. Vandervelde and Kautsky had difficulty in soothing the indignation of the Russians present, and Plekhanov so far forgot himself as to speak of Lenin as a thief anxious to secure the cash-box, which made the President ask him to sit down (at least so it is stated in a note by the Okhrana); in any case this was certainly the tone of the disputes. If Malinovsky had not been kept in Austria to clear himself of early suspicions (Lenin saved him once more in 1917), he would have been chosen to read the Bolshevik document after first forwarding a copy of it to St. Petersburg.

Unanimously, with the exception of the Leninist and the Lett delegates, the Brussels Conference invited all Russian Social-Democrats to surmount their divisions and to achieve unity. That would not suit the Okhrana. A Police Department circular soon sent instructions enjoining "all the secret members of the various Party organs to defend urgently, with firmness and perseverance, the thesis of the absolute impossibility of any fusion of the Bolsheviks with the Mensheviks." Lenin, for reasons which the Okhrana could not understand, was apparently of a similar opinion. But he did not despair of reaching relative unity by his own means, by assembling under his command the scattered forces of the movement.

Stalin, silent and gloomy, relegated to the forsaken hamlet of Kureyka, hunted foxes in the Siberian taiga and wild duck in the monotonous tundra.