an anarchist character, and the most prominent writers of that trend began to talk and write like liberals and renegades (Mr. V. Chernov in Zavety ), and so forth.
Nevertheless, formally and outwardly, the Narodniks appear to be much more "united " than the Marxists are. There is no definite split among the Narodniks, no intense, stubborn, systematic and prolonged inner struggle among them. It seems, at first glance, as though they are all the time held together by certain common ties. In their literature one constantly comes across proud references to Narodnik "unity", in contrast with the "Marxist" (and most often "Bolshevik") "tendency towards discord and splits".
Those who want to understand the meaning and significance of what is taking place in the working-class and socialist movements in Russia must ponder very, very carefully over this contraposing of "Marxist splits" and "Narodnik unity".
Among us Marxists and near-Marxists there are also no few groups and grouplets which are practically almost independent of one another, and which sedulously preach "unity" (quite in the Narodnik spirit), and still more sedulously condemn "Marxist splits".
What does it all mean? Are we to envy "Narodnik unity"? Are we to seek the reasons for this distinction in the pernicious qualities of "certain" "leaders" (a very widespread method) or in the Marxists' pernicious tendency towards "dogmatism", "intolerance", and so forth?
Consider the facts. These tell us that the Narodniks are far more tolerant and conciliatory, that they are far more "united", and that the abundance of groups among them does not lead to sharp splits. At the same time the facts tell us quite incontrovertibly that the Narodniks are politically impotent, that they have no organised or durable contacts with the masses, that they are incapable of any mass political action. The example of the Narodnik boycottists in Riga merely serves to illustrate most strikingly what was revealed
not only in the insurance campaign, but also in the Duma elections, the strike movement, the working-class press (even more broadly, the democratic press at large), the trade unions, and so forth. For example, we read the following in issue No. 2 of the Left-Narodnik Severnaya Mysl :
"To the honour of the Marxists be it said that at present they enjoy considerable influence in the unions [i.e., the trade unions ] whereas we Left Narodniks work in them without a definite plan, and for that reason our influence is scarcely felt."
Strange, is it not? The conciliatory, tolerant, "united", non-splitting, broad-minded, non-dogmatic Narodniks -- notwithstanding their ardent desire and striving -- conduct no insurance campaign, exercise no influence on the trade unions, and have no organised group in the Duma. But the "dogmatic" Marxists, who are "for ever splitting" and thereby enfeebling themselves, fought a splendid election campaign during the Fourth Duma elections, are conducting successful activities in the trade unions, are running a splendid and vigorous insurance campaign, carry on fairly effective activities in the strike movement, pass unanimous decisions which are consistent in principle, and are unanimously, firmly and with conviction supported by an obvious and unquestionable majority of the class-conscious workers.
Strange, is it not? Are not the "conciliatoriness", and all the other splendid spiritual qualities of the Narodniks merely sterile things ?
That is exactly what they are -- sterile! The "unity" of the varied intellectualist little groups is bought by the Narodniks at the price of their utter political impotence among the masses. And with us Marxists, too, it is the Trotskyists, the liquidators, the "conciliators", and the "Tyszka-ites", those who shout loudest about group unity, who display the same intellectualist impotence, while the real political campaigns, not the imaginary ones, but those that grow out of actual conditions (election, insurance, daily press, strike campaigns, etc.) show that the majority of the class-conscious workers are rallied around those who are most often, most zealously and most fiercely accused of being "splitters".
The conclusion to be drawn is clear, and however unpalatable it may be to the host of intellectualist groups the course
of the working-class movement will compel them to admit it. This conclusion is that attempts to create "unity" by means of "agreements" or "alliances" among intellectualist groups, which in fact express tendencies that are injurious to the working-class movement (Narodism, liquidationism, etc.), lead only to complete disintegration and impotence. Both Narodism and liquidationism have proved this by their lamentable example.
Only in opposition to these groups and grouplets (in a strenuous struggle, which is inevitable under bourgeois conditions and amidst a host of petty-bourgeois vacillations) is real unity building up among the working-class masses led by the majority of the class-conscious proletarians.
Naïve people will ask: How are we to distinguish the intellectualist groups which are causing damage to the working-class movement by disintegrating it and condemning it to impotence, from that group or groups which ideologically express the working-class movement, rally, unite and strengthen it? There are only two ways of distinguishing one from the other: theory and practical experience. It is necessary seriously to examine the theoretical content of such trends of thought as Narodism and liquidationism (the principal petty-bourgeois trends that are disintegrating the working-class movement). It is necessary to carefully study the practical experience of the mass working-class movement as a means of rallying the majority of class-conscious workers around integral and considered decisions, based on principle and applied in elections, in insurance campaigns, in activities in the trade unions, in the strike movement, in the "underground", and so forth.
He who gives close thought to the theory of Marxism and close attention to the practical experience of the last few years will realise that the elements of a genuine workers' party are rallying in Russia in spite of the motley, noisy, and vociferous (but essentially futile and harmful) groups of Narodniks, liquidators, and so forth. Unity of the working class is emerging from the disintegration of these groups and their isolation from the proletariat.