* Meaning the Octobrists. --Ed.
has been proved by the peasant insurrections, by the Peasant Union, by the Trudovik group in three Dumas, and by the free press of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Trudoviks. But the Mensheviks have failed to understand this. They regard the Socialist-Revolutionaries from a doctrinaire point of view: like doctrinaires, they see the flaws in other people's doctrines, but do not see what real interests of real masses, which are a driving force in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, are expressed or concealed by those doctrines. The Socialist-Revolutionary doctrine is pernicious, fallacious, reactionary, adventurist, petty-bourgeois -- cry the Mensheviks. Not one step further, not one word more; all else is the work of the devil.
Now that is where your mistake begins, we say to the Mensheviks. True, the Socialist-Revolutionary doctrine is pernicious, fallacious, reactionary, adventurist and petty-bourgeois. But these vices do not prevent this quasi-socialist doctrine from being the ideological vestments of a really revolutionary -- and not compromising -- bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie in Russia. For the Socialist-Revolutionary doctrine is only a tiny rivulet in the Trudovik, i.e., peasant-democratic torrent. As soon as the open struggle of masses and classes begins, events immediately compel us all, Bolsheviks and Mensheviks alike, to recognise the fact, to admit the Socialist-Revolutionaries to the Soviets of Workers' Deputies, establish closer relations with the Soviets of peasants', soldiers', post and telegraph workers', railwaymen's, etc., deputies, enter into election agreements with them against the liberals, vote with them in the Dumas against the liberals, and so forth. The revolution has not refuted our opinion of the Socialist-Revolutionaries but corroborated it. But in doing so it has not left the question in its previous shape and position; it has elevated the question to an incomparably higher plane. Previously the question was one only of comparing doctrines, ideologies and the policies of various groups; now it is a matter of comparing the historical activities of the classes and masses which follow this or a kindred ideology. Formerly the question was, is what the Socialist-Revolutionaries say correct? Are the tactics of this ideological organisation correct? Now the question has arisen, what, in effect, is the
behaviour of those sections of the people which consider themselves supporters of the Socialist-Revolutionaries or of ideas akin to theirs (the "labour principle", etc.)? The Mensheviks' error is due to their failure to understand this change that the revolution has brought about.
But apart from the reasons mentioned, this change is important also because it has strikingly revealed the relation of classes and parties. The lesson our revolution teaches is that only parties which have a definite class backing are strong and able to survive, whatever turn events may take. Open political struggle compels parties to establish closer relations with the masses, for without such ties parties are naught. Nominally, the Socialist-Revolutionaries are independent of the Trudoviks. Actually, however, during the revolution, they were compelled to join forces with the Trudoviks, on pain of being completely eliminated from the political arena. And it can safely be said that at the next rise of the revolutionary tide the Socialist-Revolutionaries (however loudly they may shout now about their complete, independence) will again be obliged to join forces with the Trudoviks, or with similar organisations of the masses. The objective conditions of social life and the class struggle are more powerful than pious intentions and written programmes. From this aspect, which is the only correct one, the present rift between the Trudoviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries is merely evidence of the disintegration of the petty-bourgeois movement, of the lack of steadfastness on the part of the petty bourgeoisie, who are unable to band together in adverse conditions and who "drift apart". On the one hand, we have the Trudoviks -- unorganised, unsteady, wavering, without any firm political line in the Third Duma, but undoubtedly springing from the masses, connected with the masses, expressing the needs of the masses. On the other hand we have a handful of Socialist-Revolutionary "otzovists", who have no ties with the masses, who are frantic with despair, losing faith in the mass struggle (see Revolutsionnaya Mysl ) and concentrating on terrorism. The extreme opportunism of the Trudoviks (bearing in mind the stand of the revolutionary peasantry) and the extreme, purely verbal and meaningless, revolutionariness of the Socialist-Revolutionaries are two limitations of one and
the same petty-bourgeois trend, twin symptoms of the same "disease", viz., the instability of the petty bourgeoisie, their incapacity for systematic, persevering, staunch and concerted mass struggle.
These facts throw a new light on the present Duma tactics of the revolutionary parties and, in particular, on the question of otzovism. "We have no parliamentary channels of struggle," cry the boastful Socialist-Revolutionary intellectuals. Who are "we", gentlemen? Intellectuals without the masses have never had, and never will have, either parliamentary or non-parliamentary means of struggle of any importance. What masses followed or supported you yesterday, during the revolution? The Trudovik peasantry. Is it true that they have "no parliamentary means of struggle"? It is not true. Look at the debates on the agrarian question in the Third Duma. You will find that on this issue the Trudoviks undoubtedly voiced the needs of the masses. Consequently, the smart phrase of the Socialist-Revolutionaries is nothing more than empty phrase-mongering. In 1908, the peasant masses voiced their demands from the rostrum of the Duma, and did not engage in "non-parliamentary" action. That is a fact that no amount of "Left" screeching and the shouting of Socialist-Revolutionary otzovist phrases can obscure.
What was the reason for this? Was it because the "conviction" that non-parliamentary channels are preferable was shaken? Nonsense. The answer is that in this period objective conditions had not yet caused widespread unrest among the masses or stirred them to direct action. If that is the case, and it certainly is so, it was the duty of every party that takes itself seriously to avail itself of indirect channels. The Socialist-Revolutionaries were unable to avail themselves of such channels -- and what happened? Only that the Trudoviks made a very bad job of it, made a thousand times more mistakes than they would have done had they been guided by a party; they stumbled and fell very often. Out of touch with their class, with their masses, the Socialist-Revolutionaries "concentrated" on phrase-mongering; for in practice they did nothing at all in 1908 to promote "non-parliamentary means of struggle". This dissociation of the Socialist-Revolutionaries from their social roots
immediately begins to aggravate their besetting sin -- extravagant, unbridled boasting and bragging, as a means of covering up their impotence. "Our Party can congratulate itself," we read on the first page of the Report . . . election to the conference by "really existing [think of that now!] local party organisations" . . . "unanimity of feeling was reached on all questions" . . . "this was truly the attainment of unanimity" (ibid.), and so on and so forth.
It is not true, gentlemen. With these loud words you are trying to drown the voices of dissension which have been heard quite distinctly, both in Revolutsionnaya Mysl (spring 1908) and in issue No. 13 of Znamya Truda (November 1908). This ballyhoo is a sign of weakness. The non-party opportunism of the Trudoviks and the "party" boastfulness, isolation and phrase-mongering of the Socialist-Revolutionaries are two sides of the same medal, two extremes in the disintegration of one and the same petty-bourgeois stratum. It was not for nothing that during the revolution, when the struggle brought out all the different shadings, the Socialist-Revolutionaries tried, but tried in vain, to conceal their wavering between the Popular Socialists and the Maximalists.
The cart is in the ditch. The horses have slipped their harness. The coachman sits astride a milestone with his cap at a jaunty angle, and "congratulates" himself on his "unanimity". Such is the picture of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party. Such are the results of Socialist-Revolutionary otzovism, which has recalled a handful of intellectuals from the arduous, persevering, but the only really serious and fruitful work of educating and organising the masses, in order that they should indulge in loud and meaningless catchwords.