J. V. Stalin

The Press 1

July 20, 1908

Source : Works, Vol. 2, 1907 - 1913
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

Flunkey "Socialists"

One of the newspapers published in Tiflis is a Georgian-language one which calls itself Napertskali. 2 It is a new and at the same time a very old paper, for it is the continuation of all the Menshevik newspapers published in Tiflis since the time of Skhivi of 1905. Napertskali is edited by an old group of Menshe-vik opportunists. But that is not the only point, of course. The main point is that the opportunism of this group is something exceptional, something fabulous. Opportunism is lack of principle, political spineless-ness. We declare that no Menshevik group has displayed such crass spinelessness as is displayed by the Tiflis group. In 1905 this group recognised the role of the proletariat as the leader of the revolution (see Skhivi). In 1906 it changed its "position" and declared that "it is no use relying on the workers . . . the initiative can come only from the peasants" (see Skhivi). In 1907 it changed its "position" again and stated that "leadership of the revolution must belong to the liberal bourgeoisie" (see Azri 3), etc., etc.

But never has the above-mentioned group's lack of principle attained such a shameless degree as now, in the summer of 1908. We have in mind the appraisal in the columns of Napertskali of the murder of that spiritual enslaver of the dispossessed, the so-called Exarch. The story of this murder is well known. A certain group killed the Exarch, and also a captain of gendarmes who was returning with a report from "the scene of the crime," and then attacked a procession of hooligans who were accompanying the body of the Exarch. Obviously, this was not a hooligan group, but nor was it a revolutionary group, for no revolutionary group would commit such an act at the present time, when our forces are being mustered, and thus jeopardise the cause of uniting the proletariat. The attitude of Social-Democracy towards groups of this kind is commonly known: ascertaining the conditions which give rise to such groups, and combating these conditions, it at the same time wages an ideological and organisational struggle against these groups, discredits them in the eyes of the proletariat and dissociates the proletariat from them. But that is not what Napertskali does. Without ascertaining or explaining anything, it belches a few banal liberal phrases against terrorism in general, and then goes on to advise, and not only advise but order its readers to do nothing more nor less than report such groups to the police, to betray them to the police! This is disgraceful, but, unfortunately, it is a fact. Listen to what Napertskali says :

"To haul the murderers of the Exarch before a court—such is the only means of wiping this stain from oneself forever. . . . Such is the duty of the advanced elements" (see Napertskali, No. 5).

Social-Democrats in the role of voluntary police informers—this is what the Menshevik opportunists in Tiflis have brought us to!

The political spinelessness of the opportunists is no mysterious growth. It springs from the irresistible striving to adapt oneself to the tastes of the bourgeoisie, a striving to please the "masters" and earn their praise. Such is the psychological basis of the opportunist tactics of adaptation. And so, to stand well with the "gentry," to please them, or at all events to avert their wrath over the murder of the Exarch, our Menshevik opportunists grovel like flunkeys before them and take upon themselves the function of police sleuths!

Tactics of adaptation could not go further than that !

Hypocritical Zubatovites

Among the cities in the Caucasus which produce original types of opportunism is Baku. In Baku there is a group which is still more to the right and, therefore, more unprincipled than the Tiflis group. We do not mean Promyslovy Vestnik, which has entered into unlawful cohabitation with the bourgeois Segod-nya; enough has been written about that paper in our press. We are referring to the Shendrikovite Pravoye Delo group, the progenitors of the Baku Mensheviks. True, this group has long ceased to exist in Baku; to escape the wrath of the Baku workers and their organisations it had to migrate to St. Petersburg. But it sends its screeds to Baku, it writes only about Baku affairs, it is seeking for supporters precisely in Baku, it is striving to "win" the Baku proletariat. It will not be amiss, therefore, to talk about this group. Before us lies a copy of Pravoye Delo, No. 2-3. We turn over the pages and before our eyes unfolds the old picture of the old, shady gang, Messrs. the Shendrikovs. 4 Here is Ilya Shendrikov, the well-known "handshaker" of Mr. Junkovsky, a veteran of backstage intrigue. Here also is Gleb Shendrikov, former Socialist-Revolutionary, former Menshevik, former "Zubatovite," and now in retirement. And here is the celebrated chatterbox, the "immaculate" Klavdia Shendriko-va, a pleasant lady in all respects. Nor is there a lack of "followers" of various types, like the Groshevs and Kalinins, who played a part in the movement sometime ago, but who are now behind the times and are living only on their reminiscences. Even the shade of the late Lev rises before us. . . . In short, the picture is complete!

But who needs all this? Why are these inglorious shadows of the gloomy past thrust upon the workers? Are they calling upon the workers to set fire to the derricks? Or to vilify the Party and trample it in the mire? Or to go to the conference without the workers and then strike a shady bargain with Mr. Junkovsky?

No! The Shendrikovs want to "save" the Baku workers! They "see" that after 1905, i.e., after the workers had driven out the Shendrikovs, "the workers find themselves on the brink of a precipice" (see Pravoye Delo p. 80); and so the Shendrikovs produced Pravoye Delo in order to "save" the workers, to lead them out of the "blind alley." To achieve this they propose that the workers should return to the past, abandon the gains of the last three years, turn their backs on Gudok and Promyslovy Vestnik, give up the existing unions, send Social-Democracy to the devil, and after expelling all the non-Shendrikovites from the workers' commissions, unite around conciliation boards. Strikes are no longer needed, nor are illegal organisations—all that the workers need are conciliation boards, on which the Shendrikovs and Gukasovs 5 will "settle questions" with Mr. Junkovsky's permission. . . .

That is how they want to lead the Baku labour movement out of the "blind alley."

That is exactly what is proposed by Mr. K—za, the chameleon from Neftyanoye Delo (see Neftyanoye Delo, No. 11).

But is not this the way the workers were "saved" by Zubatov in Moscow, by Gapon in St. Petersburg, and by Shayevich in Odessa? And did they not all turn out to be mortal enemies of the workers?

Upon whom, then, do these hypocritical "saviours" want to work their daylight swindle?

No, Messrs. the Shendrikovs, although you, along with K—za, assert that the Baku proletariat is "not yet mature," that it yet "has to pass its matriculation examination" (before whom?) (see Pravoye Delo, p. 2), you will not succeed in fooling it!

The Baku proletariat is sufficiently politically conscious to be able to tear off your masks and put you in your proper place!

Who are you? Where do you come from?

You are not Social-Democrats, for you grew up and are living in conflict with Social-Democracy, in conflict with the Party principle!

Nor are you trade unionists, for you trample in the mire the workers' unions, which are naturally permeated with the spirit of Social-Democracy!

You are just Gaponites and Zubatovites, hypocritically wearing the mask of "friends of the people"!

You are enemies within the camp and, therefore, the most dangerous enemies of the proletariat!

Down with the Shendrikovites! Turn your backs on the Shendrikovites!

That is our answer to your Pravoye Delo, Messrs. the Shendrikovs!

And that is how the Baku proletariat will respond to your hypocritical advances to them! . . .


Bakinsky Proletary, No. 5, July 20, 1908


1. J. V. Stalin wrote this review of the press in the summer of 1908 in the Baku jail, where he was detained from March 25 to November 9, 1908, when he was deported to Solvychegodsk

2. Napertskali (The Spark) — a daily newspaper published by the Georgian Mensheviks in Tiflis from May to July 1908.

3. Azri (Thought) — a Menshevik Georgian newspaper published in Tiflis from January 29 to March 2, 1908.

4. In 1904 the brothers Shendrikov (Lev, Ilya and Gleb) formed in Baku a Zubatov, i.e., police-controlled, organisation known as the Organisation of the Balakhany and Bibi-Eibat Workers, subsequently renamed the Baku Workers' Union. The Shendrikovs conducted a campaign of slander against the Bolsheviks. By advancing narrow craft economic slogans they disorganised the strike movement, tried to disrupt the preparations for an armed insurrection, agitated for the formation of "conciliation boards," co-operatives, etc. They were subsidised by the oil owners and the tsarist authorities. The Mensheviks officially recognised the Zubatov organisation of the Shendrikovs as a party organisation. The Baku Bolsheviks exposed the Shendrikovs as hirelings of the tsarist secret police and utterly defeated them. The journal Pravoye Delo (The Just Cause) was published by the Shendrikovs in St. Petersburg. No. 1 appeared in November 1907, and No. 2-3 in May 1908. Groshev and Kalinin, who are mentioned later on, were Mensheviks who supported the Shendrikovs.

5. A. Gukasov—one of the biggest oil owners in Baku and the leading member of the oil owners' Council of the Congress.