The Social Democrat. February 1906

The Revolutionary Movement in Russia: Its Aims and Its Leaders

Source: from Fortnightly Review in The Social Democrat, Vol. X No. 2 February, 1906, pp. 108-110;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

The following suggests the degree of knowledge about events in Russia among western socialists, derived from bourgeois sources, in this case a review. Note by transcriber.

J. Almar and Jayare have an article on the above in the current issue of the “ Fortnightly Review.” After dealing with the Russian Liberals, they go on to say: –

Next in power comes the Russian Social-Democratic Party, led by Plechanoff, Axelrod, and Vera Zasulitsh. Their influence is mostly felt among the working classes in towns and in factories. Their official organ is called “Iskra” (the Spark). Plechanoff is a sociologist and philosopher. He has been educated at the university, and but for his political opinions and connection with this particular party his gifts would have procured him a high position in Russia. Axelrod is also a university man, and possesses the brilliant pen and other gifts essential to a political leader. Vera Zasulitsh – the sister of the General of that name, who commanded the Russians at the Yalu river – has attempted to kill the present General Trepoff’s father, who is Governor of St. Petersburg and was at one time Prefect of Police there. She has been connected with the terrorist and Social-Democratic parties. The latter is now split up, and one of its branches exists in Geneva, under Bonez Broyevitch. Their official organ is called “En Avant” (Vpierod). The Plechanoff party are more scholarly and less bellicose in their methods than their Geneva contemporaries. Both these sections have adopted Marxian ideas, and between their different publications they manage to influence an enormous number of working-men, particularly in the towns, where their local committees are in direct communication with the headquarters at Paris and Geneva.

In London the Plechanoff Party is represented by Mr. Aladin, a university man, and late professor of a university in Russia, with great influence and many adherents in the Russian colony in the East End. He acts as intermediary between his party and the other parties of Russian Poland. The Social-Democratic Party does not favour freedom for Poland, or sympathise with the aims of any of the numerous heterogeneous nations in Russia. They desire Republican, or at any rate, Constitutional, Government, with manhood suffrage, liberty of conscience, freedom of the press, old age pensions for workmen, minimum rate of wages, State control of the railways, tramways, and factories, and national land distribution among the peasants.[1]

After this party come the Revolutionary Socialists. They are Blanquist – meaning “for action” Their followers are to be found principally among the students of the different Russian schools and universities, and among the enlightened classes generally. In the country they have agents who work for them among the peasants. In their ranks are several students who have been expelled from the schools for political offences, and who are the principal and most influential workers for the cause. Their leader is Buztzeff, who was imprisoned in London some years ago for advocating the removal of a certain exalted official in Russia. He is a clever man, an indefatigable and sanguine worker and writer, and now lives on the Continent. He may be called the historian of the revolutionary movement, and with his friend Rubanowitch, he publishes a paper called “Revolutionary Russia” (Revolutionaya Rossia). Catherine Breshkovsky, born in 1844, a daughter of a nobleman and landowner, being a member of the Nihilist Party, in 1874 was condemned to prison and sent to Siberia, where, only in 1896, she was pardoned and able to return to Russia. She joined the Social Revolutionist Party in 1900, and was one of its principal workers and leaders. Owing to her influence in 1901 the fighting association was organised. She was obliged to leave Russia, and during the past years she has worked in the United States and the Continent. Their committees in Russia also publish many pamphlets, and occasional works. “Revolutionary Russia” has no definite place of publication, but it is generally issued in Paris. They have the same ideals as the Social-Democratic Party.

The fourth party is the Jewish Bund – an association of Jews in Poland and Russia. At first it was composed mainly of Russians, but since it came under the sway of the Polish Socialistic Party, it has become more national in character. It seeks for equal rights for Jews in Russia and Poland, and its aims are identical with those of the Revolutionary Socialists. There is always a large and flourishing branch of the Bund in any part of Russia where the Jews are to be found. They publish pamphlets in Yiddish, German and Russian. Among them “Arbeiter Stimme,” “Der Bund,” “Poslednya Yzvestya” (Last News), and in London the “New Times.” In the metropolis alone they have over 1,000 adherents. Owing to their desire to keep out of the way of the Russian detectives, the name of the principal leader and headquarters of the Bund is only revealed to certain of its members, but so great is their influence that without their aid a revolution in Russia would be impossible.

The most advanced thinkers of the Russian Socialist Revolutionary Party of the Jewish Bund form the so-called Boyeroy Soyouz Sichbiog League. These Terrorists cast lots to elect those who shall carry out the death sentences on condemned officials or people of rank. It is from their members that the assassins of Bogolepoff, Sipiaguin, Plehve, and the Grand Duke Sergius were drawn, and the next victims are to be Trepoff, Bulygine, and Pobiedonostseff. Where and by whom the warrant is issued is unknown and to what extent the London Committee participate in the affair must also remain a secret.

* * *

After them come the Polish Socialists, who, with the Jewish Bund, have stirred up the present riots in Poland, in which 500,000 workmen out of 10,000,000 inhabitants in the nine governments round Warsaw are involved. Their influence over the town workmen is very great. They are headed by an able revolutionary demagogue, Daszynski, a member of the Austrian Parliament, and by Pilonski. They publish several papers, including a daily, called “Napvzod “ (Forward).

* * *

The January strike was excited in Poland at the request of the Russian Revolutionary fanatics by the Polish Socialist Party, while the last was fomented by the Jewish Bund, helped by the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania.

This body is mainly directed by Rosa Luxemburg, a German revolutionist, and is entirely guided by German Socialists. When the Bund made a series of demonstrations against the Government in Lodz, they forced a number of Polish workmen to join them.

1. Evidently the writer of this article knows very little of Socialism and the aims of the Socialist Party, The Social-Democratic Party does favour freedom for both Poland and Finland – and Russia too, for that matter. The Social-Democratic Party does not aim at the distribution of the land amongst the peasants, but for land nationalisation. Note by the editor of Social Democratic.