Bolshevik Writers: J. V. Stalin (1879-1953)

J. V. Stalin


 Reprinted from the pamphlet
Signed: Koba
Translated from the Georgian
From J. V. Stalin, Works,
Foreign Languages Publishing House,
Moscow, 1953,

Vol. 2, pp. 1-13.

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (July 2001)

    Karl Kautsky's name is not new to us. He has long been known as an outstanding theoretician of Social-Democracy. But Kautsky is known not only from that aspect; he is notable also as a thorough and thoughtful investigator of tactical problems. In this respect he has won great authority not only among the European comrades, but also among us. That is not surprising: today, when disagreements on tactics are splitting Russian Social-Democracy into two groups, when mutual criticism often aggravates the situation by passing into recrimination and it becomes extremely difficult to ascertain the truth, it is very interesting to hear what an unbiassed and experienced comrade like K. Kautsky has to say. That is why our comrades have set to work so zealously to study Kautsky's articles on tactics: "The State Duma," "The Moscow Insurrection," "The Agrarian Question," "The Russian Peasantry and the Revolution," "The Anti-Jewish Pogroms in Russia," and others. But the present pamphlet has engaged the attention of the comrades far more than those works, and that is because it touches upon all the main questions that divide Social-Democracy into two groups. It appears that Plekhanov, who recently sought the advice of foreign comrades to clear up our burning problems, submitted these problems also to Kautsky with a request to answer them. As is evident from what Kautsky says, the present pamphlet is an answer to that request. After that, it was, of course, natural that the comrades should pay greater attention to the pamphlet. Obviously, that also enhances the importance of the pamphlet for us.

    It will be very useful, therefore, if we recall, if only in general outline, the questions of our disagreements and, in passing, ascertain Kautsky's views on this or that question.

    On whose side is Kautsky, whom does he support, the Bolsheviks or the Mensheviks?

    The first question that is splitting Russian Social Democracy into two parts is the question of the general character of our revolution. That our revolution is a bourgeois-democratic and not a socialist revolution, that it must end with the destruction of feudalism and not of capitalism, is clear to everybody. The question is, however, who will lead this revolution, and who will unite around itself the discontented elements of the people: the bourgeoisie or the proletariat? Will the proletariat drag at the tail of the bourgeoisie as was the case in France, or will the bourgeoisie follow the proletariat? That is how the question stands.

    The Mensheviks say through the mouth of Martynov that our revolution is a bourgeois revolution, that it is a repetition of the French revolution; and as the French revolution, being a bourgeois revolution, was led by the bourgeoisie, so our revolution must also be led by the bourgeoisie. "The hegemony of the proletariat is a harm- ful utopia. . . ." "The proletariat must follow the extreme bourgeois opposition" (see Martynov's Two Dictatorships ).

    The Bolsheviks, however, say: True, our revolution is a bourgeois revolution, but that does not mean in the least that it is a repetition of the French revolution, that it must necessarily be led by the bourgeoisie, as was the case in France. In France, the proletariat was an unorganised force with little class consciousness and, as a consequence, the bourgeoisie retained the hegemony in the revolution. In our country, however, the proletariat is a relatively more class conscious and organised force; as a consequence, it is no longer content with the role of appendage to the bourgeoisie and, as the most revolutionary class, is coming out at the head of the present-day movement. The hegemony of the proletariat is not a utopia, it is a living fact; the proletariat is actually uniting the discontented elements around itself. And whoever advises it "to follow the bourgeois opposition" is depriving it of independence, is converting the Russian proletariat into a tool of the bourgeoisie (see Lenin's Two Tactics ).

    What is K. Kautsky's view on this question?

    "The liberals often refer to the great French revolution and often do so without justification. Conditions in present-day Russia are in many respects quite different from what they were in France in 1789" (see Chapter III of the pamphlet). . . . "Russian liberalism is quite different from the liberalism of Western Europe, and for this reason alone it is a great mistake to take the great French revolution simply as a model for the present Russian revolution. The leading class in the revolutionary movements in Western Europe was the petty bourgeoisie, especially the petty bourgeoisie in the large cities" (see Chapter IV). . . . "The day of bourgeois revolutions, i.e., revolutions in which the bourgeoisie was the driving force, has passed away, and it has passed away also for Russia. There, too, the proletariat is no longer a mere appendage and tool of the bourgeoisie, as was the case during the bourgeois revolutions, but is an independent class, with independent revolutionary aims" (see Chapter V).

    That is what K. Kautsky says about the general character of the Russian revolution; that is how Kautsky understands the role of the proletariat in the present Russian revolution. The bourgeoisie cannot lead the Russian revolution -- hence, the proletariat must come out as the leader of the revolution.

    The second question of our disagreements is: Can the liberal bourgeoisie be at least an ally of the proletariat in the present revolution?

    The Bolsheviks say that it cannot. True, during the French revolution, the liberal bourgeoisie played a revolutionary role, but that was because the class struggle in that country was not so acute, the proletariat had little class consciousness and was content with the role of appendage to the liberals, whereas in our country, the class struggle is extremely acute, the proletariat is far more class conscious and cannot resign itself to the role of appendage to the liberals. Where the proletariat fights consciously, the liberal bourgeoisie ceases to be revolutionary. That is why the Cadet-liberals, frightened by the proletariat's struggle, are seeking protection under the wing of reaction. That is why they are fighting the revolution rather than the reaction. That is why the Cadets[2] would sooner conclude an alliance with the reaction against the revolution than with the revolution. Yes, our liberal bourgeoisie, and its champions the Cadets, are the allies of the reaction, they are the "enlightened" enemies of the revolution. It is altogether different with the poor peasants. The Bolsheviks say that only the poor peasants will extend a hand to the revolutionary proletariat, and only they can conclude a firm alliance with the proletariat for the whole period of the present revolution. And it is those peasants that the proletariat must support against the reaction and the Cadets. And if these two main forces conclude an alliance, if the workers and peasants support each other, the victory of the revolution will be assured. If they do not, the victory of the revolution is impossible. That is why the Bolsheviks are not supporting the Cadets, either in the Duma or outside the Duma, in the first stage of the elections. That is why the Bolsheviks, during the elections and in the Duma, support only the revolutionary representatives of the peasants against the reaction and the Cadets. That is why the Bolsheviks unite the broad masses of the people only around the revolutionary part of the Duma and not around the entire Duma. That is why the Bolsheviks do not support the demand for the appointment of a Cadet ministry (see Lenin's Two Tactics and "The Victory of the Cadets").

    The Mensheviks argue quite differently. True, the liberal bourgeoisie is wavering between reaction and revolution, but in the end, in the opinion of the Mensheviks, it will join the revolution and, after all, play a revolutionary role. Why? Because the liberal bourgeoisie played a revolutionary role in France, because it is opposed to the old order and, consequently, will be obliged to join the revolution. In the opinion of the Mensheviks, the liberal bourgeoisie, and its champions the Cadets, cannot be called traitors to the present revolution, they are the allies of the revolution. That is why the Mensheviks support them during the elections and in the Duma. The Mensheviks assert that the class struggle should never eclipse the general struggle. That is why they call upon the masses of the people to rally around the entire Duma and not merely around its revolutionary part ; that is why they, with all their might, support the demand for the appointment of a Cadet ministry; that is why the Mensheviks are ready to consign the maximum programme to oblivion, to cut down the minimum programme, and to repudiate the democratic republic so as not to frighten away the Cadets. Some readers may think that all that is libel against the Mensheviks and will demand facts. Here are the facts.

    The following is what the well-known Menshevik writer Malishevsky wrote recently:

    "Our bourgeoisie does not want a republic, consequently, we cannot have a republic . . . , " and so ". . . as a result of our revolution there must arise a constitutional system, but certainly not a democratic republic." That is why Malishevsky advises "the comrades" to abandon "republican illusions "(see First Symposium,[3] pp. 288, 289).

    That is the first fact.

    On the eve of the elections the Menshevik leader Cherevanin wrote:

    "It would be absurd and insane for the proletariat to try, as some people propose, jointly with the peasantry,

to enter into a struggle against both the government and the bourgeoisie for a sovereign and popular Constituent Assembly." We, he says, are now trying to reach agreement with the Cadets and to get a Cadet ministry (see Nashe Delo,[4] No. 1).

    That is the second fact.

    But all that was only written words. Another Menshevik leader, Plekhanov, did not confine himself to that and wanted to put what was written into practice. At the time when a fierce debate was raging in the Party on the question of electoral tactics, when everybody was asking whether it was permissible to enter into an agreement with the Cadets during the first stage of the elections, Plekhanov held even an agreement with the Cadets inadequate, and began to advocate a direct bloc, a temporary fusion, with the Cadets. Recall the newspaper Tovarishch[5] of November 24 (1906) in which Plekhanov published his little article. One of the readers of Tovarishch asked Plekhanov: Is it possible for the Social-Democrats to have a common platform with the Cadets; if it is, "what could be the nature . . . of a common election platform?" Plekhanov answered that a common platform was essential, and that such a platform must be "a sovereign Duma." . . . "There is no other answer, nor can there be" (see Tovarishch, November 24, 1906). What do Plekhanov's words mean? They have only one meaning, namely, that during the elections the Party of the proletarians, i.e., Social-Democracy, should actually join with the party of the employers, i.e., the Cadets, should jointly with them publish agitational leaflets addressed to the workers, should in fact renounce the slogan of a popular Constituent Assembly and the Social-Democratic minimum programme and instead issue the Cadet slogan of a sovereign Duma. Actually, that means renouncing our minimum programme to please the Cadets and to enhance our reputation in their eyes.

    That is the third fact.

    But what Plekhanov said somewhat timidly was said with remarkable boldness by a third Menshevik leader, Vasilyev. Listen to this:

    "First of all, let the whole of society, all citizens . . . establish constitutional government. Since this will be a people's government, the people, in conformity with their grouping according to class and interests . . . can proceed to settle all problems. Then the struggle of classes and groups will not only be appropriate, but also necessary. . . . Now, however, at the present moment, it would be suicidal and criminal. . . ." It is therefore necessary for the various classes and groups "to abandon all 'the very best of programmes' for a time and merge in one constitutional party. . . ." "My proposal is that there should be a common platform, the basis of which should be the laying of the elementary foundations for a sovereign society which alone can provide a corresponding Duma. . . ." "The contents of such a platform are . . . a ministry responsible to the people's representatives . . . free speech and press . . ." etc. (see Tovarishch, December 17,1906). As regards the popular Constituent Assembly, and our minimum programme in general, all that must be "abandoned " according to Vasilyev. . . .

    That is the fourth fact.

    True, Martov, a fourth Menshevik leader, disagrees with the Menshevik Vasilyev and haughtily reproves him for having written the above-mentioned article (see Otkliki,[6] No. 2). But Plekhanov speaks in high praise of Vasilyev, who, in Plekhanov's opinion, is a "tireless and popular Social-Democratic organiser of the Swiss workers" and who "will render numerous services to the Russian workers' cause" (see Mir Bozhy[7] for June 1906). Which of these two Mensheviks should be believed? Plekhanov or Martov? And besides, did not Martov him self write recently: "The strife between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat strengthens the position of the autocracy and thereby retards the success of the emancipation of the people"? (See Elmar, "The People and the State Duma," p. 20.) Who does not know that this non-Marxist view is the real basis of the liberal "proposal" advanced by Vasilyev?

    As you see, the Mensheviks are so enchanted with the "revolutionariness" of the liberal bourgeoisie, they place so much hope on its "revolutionariness," that to please it they are even ready to consign the Social-Democratic programme to oblivion.

    How does K. Kautsky regard our liberal bourgeoisie? Whom does he regard as the true ally of the proletariat? What does he say on this question?

    "At the present time (i.e., in the present Russian revolution) the proletariat is no longer a mere appendage and tool of the bourgeoisie, as was the case during the bourgeois revolutions, but is an independent class, with in dependent revolutionary aims. But where the proletariat comes out in this manner the bourgeoisie ceases to be a revolutionary class. The Russian bourgeoisie, in so far as it is liberal at all and pursues an independent class policy, undoubtedly hates absolutism, but it hates revolution still more. . . . And in so far as it wants political freedom it does so mainly because it regards it as the only means of putting an end to revolution. Thus, the bourgeoisie is not one of the driving forces of the present day revolutionary movement in Russia. . . . The proletariat and the peasantry alone have a firm community of interests during the whole period of the revolutionary struggle. And this is what must serve as the basis of the entire revolutionary tactics of Russian Social-Democracy. . . . Without the peasants we cannot today achieve victory in Russia" (see Chapter V). That is what Kautsky says. We think that comment is superfluous.

    The third question of our disagreements is: What will be the class content of the victory of our revolution, or, in other words, which classes must achieve victory in our revolution, which classes must win power?

    The Bolsheviks assert that as the proletariat and the peasantry are the main forces in the present revolution, and as their victory is impossible unless they support each other, it is they who will win power, and, therefore, the victory of the revolution will mean the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry (see Lenin's Two Tactics and "The Victory of the Cadets").

    The Mensheviks, on the other hand, reject the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, they do not believe that power will be won by the proletariat and the peasantry. In their opinion power must come into the hands of a Cadet Duma. Consequently, they support with extraordinary zeal the Cadet slogan of a responsible ministry. Thus, instead of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, the Mensheviks offer us the dictatorship of the Cadets (see Martynov's Two Dictatorships, and also the newspapers Golos Truda,[8] Nashe Delo, and others). What is K. Kautsky's view on this question?

    On this point Kautsky bluntly says that "the revolutionary strength of Russian Social-Democracy and the possibility of its victory lie in the community of interests of the industrial proletariat and the peasantry" (see Chapter V). That is to say, the revolution will be victorious only if the proletariat and the peasantry fight side by side for the common victory -- the dictatorship of the Cadets is anti-revolutionary.

    The fourth question of our disagreements is: During revolutionary storms a so-called provisional revolutionary government will, of course, automatically arise. Is it permissible for Social-Democracy to enter the revolutionary government?

    The Bolsheviks say that to enter such a provisional government is not only permissible from the point of view of principle, but also necessary for practical reasons, in order that Social-Democracy may effectively protect the interests of the proletariat and of the revolution in the provisional revolutionary government. If in the street fighting the proletariat, jointly with the peasants, overthrows the old order, and if it sheds its blood together with them, it is only natural that it should also enter the provisional revolutionary government with them, in order to lead the revolution to the desired results (see Lenin's Two Tactics).

    The Mensheviks, however, reject the idea of entering the provisional revolutionary government. They say that it is impermissible for Social-Democracy, that it is unseemly for a Social-Democrat, that it will be fatal for the proletariat (see Martynov's Two Dictatorships).

    What does K. Kautsky say on this point?

    "It is quite possible that with the further progress of the revolution victory will be achieved by the Social-Democratic Party. . . ." But it does not mean that "the revolution which Russia is passing through will at once lead to the introduction in Russia of the socialist mode of production, even if it temporarily entrusted the helm of state to Social-Democracy " (see Chapter V).

    As you see, in Kautsky's opinion, not only is it permissible to enter a provisional revolutionary government, it may even happen that "the helm of state will temporarily" pass entirely and exclusively into the hands of Social-Democracy.

    Such are Kautsky's views on the principal questions of our disagreements.

    As you see, Kautsky, an outstanding theoretician of Social-Democracy, and the Bolsheviks are in complete agreement with each other.

    This is not denied even by the Mensheviks, except, of course, for a few "official" Mensheviks who have probably not set eyes on Kautsky's pamphlet. Martov, for example, definitely says that "in his final deduction, Kautsky agrees with Comrade Lenin and his like-minded friends who have proclaimed the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry" (see Otkliki, No. 2, p. 19).

    And that means that the Mensheviks do not agree with K. Kautsky, or rather, that Kautsky does not agree with the Mensheviks.

    And so, who agrees with the Mensheviks, and with whom, finally, do the Mensheviks agree?

    Here is what history tells us about it. On December 27 (1906), a debate was held in Solyanoi Gorodok (in St. Petersburg). In the course oi the debate the Cadet leader P. Struve said: "You will all be Cadets. . . . The Mensheviks are already being called semi-Cadets. Many people regard Plekhanov as a Cadet and, indeed, the Cadets can welcome much of what Plekhanov says now, it is a pity, however, that he did not say this when the Cadets stood alone" (see Tovarishch of December 28, 1906).

    So you see who agrees with the Mensheviks.

    Will it be surprising if the Mensheviks agree with them and take the path of liberalism?. . .

February 10, 1907

Reprinted from the pamphlet
Signed: Koba

Translated from the Georgian


      [1] K . Kautsky 's pamphlet was translated into Georgian and published in Tiflis in March 1907. No. 7 of the Bolshevik newspaper Dro, of March 18, 1907, announced the publication of K. Kautsky's pamphlet in the Georgian language with a preface by Koba (J. V. Stalin).    [p. 1]

      [2] Cadets -- the abbreviated title of the Constitutional-Democratic Party -- the principal party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, formed in October 1905 (see J. V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 1, p. 405, Note 52).

    [Note 52: The Constitutional-Democratic Party (Cadet Party) -- the principal party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie. Was formed in October 1905. Under cloak of a spurious democratism, and calling themselves the party of "Popular Freedom," the Cadets tried to win the peasantry to their side. They strove to preserve tsarism in the form of a constitutional monarchy. Subsequently, the Cadets organised counter-revolutionary conspiracies and revolts against the Soviet Republic.]    [p. 5]

      [3] First Symposium -- a Menshevik symposium, published in St. Petersburg in 1908.    [p. 6]

      [4] Nashe Delo (Our Cause) -- a weekly Menshevik journal published in Moscow from September 24 to November 25, 1906.    [p. 7]

      [5] Tovarishch (Comrade) -- a daily newspaper published in St. Petersburg from March 1906 till December 1907. Although not officially the organ of any party, it was actually the organ of the Left-wing Cadets. Mensheviks also contributed to the newspaper.    [p. 7]

      [6] Otkliki (Echoes) -- Menshevik symposia published in St. Petersburg in 1906-07. Three volumes were issued.    [p. 9]

      [7] Mir Bozhy (God's World) -- a monthly magazine of a liberal trend, began publication in St. Petersburg in 1892. In the

    '90's of the nineteenth century it published articles by the "legal Marxists." During the 1905 revolution, Mensheviks contributed to the magazine. From 1906 to 1918 it was published under the name of Sovremenny Mir (The Contemporary World).    [p. 9]

      [8] Golos Truda (The Voice of Labour) -- a Menshevik newspaper published in St. Petersburg from June 21 to July 7, 1906.    [p. 11]