Against Boycott

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V. I. Lenin



Written on June 26 (July 9), 1907  Published in the pamphlet Concerning the Boycott of the Third Duma, Moscow Signed: N. Lenin

Published according to the pamphlet text   

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,  Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1972

First printing 1962 Second printing 1972

Vol. 13, pp. 15-49. Translated from the Russian by Bernard Isaacs Edited by Clemens Dutt

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (January 2002)

    The recent Teachers' Congress,[2] which the majority was influenced by the Socialist-Revolutionaries,[3] adopted a resolution calling for a boycott of the Third Duma. The resolution was adopted with the direct participation of a prominent representative of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party. The Social-Democratic teachers and the representative of the R.S.D.L.P. abstained from voting, as they considered that this question should be decided by a Party congress or conference, and not by a non-Party professional and political association.

    The question of boycotting the Third Duma thus arises as a current question of revolutionary tactics. Judging by the speech of its spokesman at the Congress, the Socialist-Revolutionary Party had already decided that question, although we do not yet have any official decisions of the Party or any literary documents from among its members. Among the Social-Democrats this question has been raised and is being debated.

    What arguments do the Socialist-Revolutionaries use to support their decision? The resolution of the Teachers' Congress speaks, in effect, about the utter<"p17a"> uselessness of the Third Duma, about the reactionary and counter-revolutionary nature of the government that effected the coup d'état of June 3,[4] about the new electoral law being weighted in favour of the landlords, etc., etc.* The case is presented in such a manner as if the ultra-reactionary nature of the Third Duma by itself makes such a method of stuggle or such a slogan as the boycott necessary and legitimate. The impropriety of such an argument is absolutely clear to any Social-Democrat, since there is no attempt here whatever to examine the historical conditions of the boycott's applicability. The Social-Democrat who takes a Marxist stand draws his conclusions about the boycott not from the degree of reactionariness of one or another institution, but from the existence of those special conditions of struggle that, as the experience of the Russian revolution has now shown, make it possible to apply the specific method known as boycott. If anyone were to start discussing the boycott without taking into consideration the two years' experience of our revolution, without studying that experience, we would have to say of him that he had forgotten a lot and learned nothing. In dealing with the question of boycott we shall start with an attempt to analyse that experience.

    * Here is the text of this resolution: "Whereas: (1) the new electoral law on the basis of which the Third Duma is being convened deprives the working masses of that modest share of electoral rights which they had hitherto enjoyed and the winning of which bad cost them so dear; (2) this law glaringly and grossly falsines the will of the people for the benefit of the most reactionary and privileged strata of the population; (3) the Third Duma, by the manner of its election [cont. onto p. 18. -- DJR] and by its make-up, is the product of a reactionary coup; (4) the government will take advantage of the participation of the popular masses in the Duma elections in order to interpret that participation as a popular sanction of the coup d'état -- the Fourth Delegate Congress of the All-Russian Union of Teachers and Educationsl Workers resolves: (1) that it shall have no dealings whatever with the Third Duma or any of its bodies; (2) that it shall take no part as an organisation, either directly or indirectly, in the elections; (3) that it shall, as an organisation, disseminate the view on the Third State Duma and the elections to it as expressed in the present resolution."


    The most important experience of our revolution in making use of the boycott was, undoubtedly, the boycott of the Bulygin Duma.[5] What is more, that boycott was crowned with complete and immediate success. Therefore, our first task should be to examine the historical conditions under which the boycott of the Bulygin Duma took place.

    Two circumstances at once become apparent when examining this question. First, the boycott of the Bulygin Duma was a fight to prevent our revolution from going over (even temporarily) to the path of a monarchist constitution.

 Secondly, this boycott took place under conditions of a sweeping, universal, powerful, and rapid upswing of the revolution .

    Let us examine the first circumstance. All boycott is a struggle, not within the framework of a given institution, but against its emergence, or, to put it more broadly, against it becoming operative. Therefore, those who, like Plekhanov and many other Mensheviks, opposed the boycott on the general grounds that it was necessary for a Marxist to make use of representative institutions, thereby only revealed absurd doctrinairism. To argue like that meant evading the real issue by repeating self-evident truths. Unquestionably, a Marxist should make use of representative institutions. Does that imply that a Marxist cannot, under certain conditions, stand for a struggle not within the framework of a given institution but against that institution being brought into existence? No, it does not, because this general argument applies only to those cases where there is no room for a struggle to prevent such an institution from coming into being. The boycott is a controversial question precisely because it is a question of whether there is room for a struggle to prevent the emergence of such institutions. By their arguments against the boycott Plekhanov and Co. showed that they failed to understand what the question was about.

    Further. If all boycott is a struggle not within the framework of a given institution, but to prevent it from coming into existence, then the boycott of the Bulygin Duma, apart from everything else, was a struggle to prevent a whole system of institutions of a monarchist-constitutional type from coming into existence.<"p19"> The year 1905 clearly showed the possibility of direct mass struggle in the shape of general strikes (the strike wave after the Ninth of January[6]) and mutinies (Potemkin [7]). The direct revolutionary struggle of the masses was, therefore, a fact. No less a fact, on the other hand, was the law of August 6, which attempted to switch the movement from the revolutionary (in the most direct and narrow sense of the word) path to the path of a monarchist constitution. It was objectively inevitable that these paths should come into conflict with each other. There was to be, so to speak, a choice of paths for the immediate development of the revolution, a choice that was to be determined, of course, not by the will of one or another group, but by the relative strength of the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary classes. And this strength could only be gauged and tested in the struggle. The slogan of boycotting the Bulygin Duma was, therefore, a slogan of the struggle for the path of direct revolutionary struggle and against the constitutional-monarchist path. Even on the latter path, of course, a struggle was possible, and not only possible but inevitable. Even on the basis of a monarchist constitution it was possible to continue the revolution and prepare for its new upswing; even on the basis of a monarchist constitution it was possible and obligatory for the Social-Democrats to carry on the struggle. This truism, which Axelrod and Plekhanov tried so hard and irrelevantly to prove in 1905, remains true. But the issue raised by history was a different one: Axelrod and Plekhanov were arguing "beside the point", or in other words, they side-stepped the issue which events put to the conflicting forces by introducing a question taken from the latest edition of the German Social-Democratic textbook. The impending struggle for the choice of a path of struggle was historically inevitable in the immediate future. The alternatives were these: was the old authority to convene Russia's first representative institution and thereby for a time (perhaps a very brief, perhaps a fairly long time) switch the revolution to the monarchist-constitutional path, or were the people by a direct assault to sweep away -- at the worst, to shake -- the old regime, prevent it from switching the revolution to the monarchist-constitutional path and guarantee (also for a more or less lengthy period) the path of direct revolutionary struggle of the masses? That was the issue historically confronting the revolutionary classes of Russia in the autumn of 1905 which Axelrod and Plekhanov at the time failed to notice. The Social-Democrats' advocacy of active boycott was itself a way of raising the issue, a way of consciously raising it by the party of the proletariat, a slogan of the struggle for the choice of a path of struggle.

    The advocates of active boycott, the Bolsheviks, correctly interpreted the question objectively posed by history. The October-December struggle of 1905 was really a struggle for the choice of a path of struggle. This struggle was waged with varying fortune: at first the revolutionary people got the upper hand, wrested from the old regime a chance to immediately switch the revolution on to monarchist-constitutional lines and set up representative institutions of a purely revolutionary type -- Soviets of Workers' Deputies, etc., in place of the representative institutions of the police-liberal type. The October-December period was one of maximum freedom, maximum independant activity of the masses, maximum breadth and momentum of the workers' movement on ground cleared of monarchist-constitutional institutions, laws and snags by the assault of the people, on a ground of "interregnum", when the old authority was already undermined, and the new revolutionary power of the people (the Soviets of Workers', Peasants', and Soldiers' Deputies, etc.) was not yet strong enough to completely replace it. The December struggle decided the question in a different direction: the old regime won by repulsing the assault of the people and holding its positions. But, of course, at that time there were no grounds as yet for considering this a decisive victory. The December uprising of 1905<"p21"> had its continuation in a number of sporadic and partial mutinies and strikes in the summer of 1906. The slogan of boycott of the Witte Duma[8] was a slogan of struggle for the concentration and generalisation of these uprisings.

    Thus, the first conclusion to be drawn from an analysis of the experience of the Russian revolution in boycotting the Bulygin Duma is that, in the objective guise of the boycott, history placed on the order of the day a struggle for the form of the immediate path of development, a struggle over whether the old authority or the new self-established people's power would be called upon to convene Russia's first representative assembly, a struggle for a directly revolutionary path or (for a time) for the path of a monarchist constitution.

    In this connection there arises a question, which has often cropped up in the literature, and which constantly crops up when this subject is discussed, namely, that of the simplicity, clarity, and "directness" of the boycott slogan, as well as the question of a straight or zigzag path of development. The direct overthrow or, at the worst, the weakening and undermining of the old regime, the direct establishment of new government agencies by the people -- all this, undoubtedly, is the most direct path, the most advantageous as far as the people are concerned, but one that requires the maximum force. Given an overwhelming preponderance of force it is possible to win by a direct frontal attack. Lacking this, one may have to resort to roundabout ways, to marking time, to zigzags, retreats, etc., etc. Of course, the path of a monarchist constitution does not, by any means, exclude revolution, the elements of which are prepared and developed by this path as well in an indirect manner, but this path is a longer, more zigzag one.

    Running through all Menshevik literature, especially that of 1905 (up to October), is the accusation that the Bolsheviks are "bigoted" and also exhortations to them on the need for taking into consideration the zigzag path of history. In this feature of Menshevik literature we have another specimen of the kind of reasoning which tells us that horses eat oats and that the Volga flows into the Caspi an Sea, reasoning which befogs the essence of a disputable question by reiterating what is indisputable. That history usually follows a zigzag path and that a Marxist should be able to make allowance for the most complicated and fantastic zigzags of history is indisputable. But this reiteration of the indisputable has nothing to do with the question of what a Marxist should do when that same history confronts the contending forces with the choice of a straight or a zigzag path. To dismiss the matter<"p22"> at such moments, or at such periods, when this happens by arguing about the usual zigzag course of history is to take after the "man in the muffler"[9] and become absorbed in contemplation of the truth that horses eat oats. As it happens, revolutionary periods are mainly such periods in history when the clash of contending social forces, in a comparatively short space of time, decides the question of the country's choice of a direct or a zigzag path of development for a comparatively very long time. The need for reckoning with the zigzag path does not in the least do away with the fact that Marxists should be able to explain to the masses during the decisive moments of their history that the direct path is preferable, should be able to help the masses in the struggle for the choice of the direct path, to advance slogans for that struggle, and so on. And only hopeless philistines and the most obtuse pedants, after the decisive historical battles which determined the zigzag path instead of the direct one were over, could sneer at those who had fought to the end for the direct path. It would be like the sneers of German police-minded official historians such as Treitschke at the revolutionary slogans and the revolutionary directness of Marx in 1848.

    Marxism's attitude towards the zigzag path of history is essentially the same as its attitude towards compromise. Every zigzag turn in history is a compromise, a compromise between the old, which is no longer strong enough to completely negate the new, and the new, which is not yet strong enough to completely overthrow the old. Marxism does not altogether reject compromises. Marxism considers it necessary to make use of them, but that does not in the least prevent Marxism, as a living and operating historical force, from fighting energetically against compromises. Not to understand this seeming contradiction is not to know the rudiments of Marxism.

    Engels once expressed the Marxist attitude to compromises very vividly, clearly, and concisely in an article on the manifesto of the Blanquist fugitives of the Commune (1874).* These Blanquists wrote in their manifesto that they accepted no compromises whatever. Engels ridiculed this manifesto. It was not, he said, a question of rejecting compromises to which circumstances condemn us (or to which circumstances compel us -- I must beg the reader's pardon for being obliged to quote from memory, as I am unable to check with the original text). It was a question of clearly realising the true revolutionary aims of the proletariat and of being able to pursue them through all and every circumstances, zigzags, and compromises.[10]

    Only from this angle can we appreciate the simplicity, directness, and clarity of the boycott as a slogan appealing to the masses. All these virtues of the slogan are good not in themselves, but only in so far as the conditions of struggle for the choice of a direct or zigzag path of development are present in the objective situation in which the slogan is used. During the period of the Bulygin Duma this slogan was the correct and the only revolutionary slogan of the workers' party not because it was the simplest, most forth right, and clearest, but because the historical conditions at the time set the workers' party the task of taking part in the struggle for a simple and direct revolutionary path against the zigzag path of the monarchist constitution.

    The question arises, by what criterion are we to judge whether those special historical conditions existed at the time? What is that distinctive feature in the objective state of affairs which made a simple, forthright, and clear slogan not a mere phrase but the only slogan that fitted the actual struggle? We shall take up this question now.

    * This article was included in the German volume of collected articles Internationales aus dem "Volksstaat ". The title of the Russian translation is Articles from "Volksstaat ", published by Znaniye.


    Looking back at a struggle that is already over (at least, in its direct and immediate form), there is nothing easier, of course, than to assess the total result of the different, contradictory signs and symptoms of the epoch. The outcome of the struggle settles everything at once and removes all doubts in a very simple way. But what we have to do now is to determine such symptoms as would help us grasp the state of affairs prior to the struggle, since we wish to apply the lessons of historical experience to the Third Duma. We have already pointed out above that the condition for the success of the boycott of 1905 was a sweeping, universal, powerful, and rapid upswing of the revolution. We must now examine, in the first place, what bearing a specially powerful upswing of the struggle has on the boycott, and, secondly, what the characteristic and distinctive features of a specially powerful upswing are.

    Boycott, as we have already stated, is a struggle not within the framework of a given institution, but against its emergence. Any given institution can be derived only from the already existing, i.e., the old, regime. Consequently, the boycott is a means of struggle aimed directly at overthrowing the old regime, or, at the worst, i.e., when the assault is not strong enough for overthrow, at weakening it to such an extent that it would be unable to set up that institution, unable to make it operate.[*] Consequently, to be successful the boycott requires a direct struggle against the old regime, an uprising against it and mass disobedience to it in a large number of cases (such mass disobedience is one of the conditions for preparing an uprising). Boycott is a refusal to recognise the old regime, a refusal, of course, not in words, but in deeds, i.e., it is something that finds expression not only in cries or the slogans of organisations, but in a definite movement of the mass of the people, who systematically defy the laws of the old regime, systematically set up new institutions, which, though unlawful, actually exist, and so on and so forth. The connection between boycott and the broad revolutionary upswing is thus obvious: boycott is the most decisive means of struggle, which rejects not the form of organisation of the given institution, but its very existence. Boycott is a declaration of open war against the old regime, a direct attack upon it. Unless there is a broad revolutionary up swing, unless there is mass unrest which overflows, as it were, the bounds of the old legality, there can be no question of the boycott succeeding.

    Passing to the question of the nature and symptoms of the upswing of the autumn of 1905 we shall easily see that what was happening at the time was an incessant mass offensive of the revolution, which systematically attacked and held the enemy in check. Repression expanded the movement instead of reducing it. In the wake of January 9 came a gigantic strike wave, the barricades in Lodz, the mutiny of the Potemkin. In the sphere of the press, the unions, and education the legal bounds prescribed by the old regime were everywhere systematically broken, and by no means by the "revolutionaries" alone, but by the man-in-the-street, for the old authority was really weakened, was really letting the reins slip from its senile hands. A singularly striking and unerring indication of the force of the upswing (from the point of view of the revolutionary organisations) was the fact that the slogans of the revolutionaries not only evoked a response but actually lagged behind the march of events. January 9 and the mass strikes that followed it, and the Potemkin were all events which were in advance of the direct appeals of the revolutionaries. In 1905, there was no appeal of theirs which the masses would have met passively, by silence, or by abandoning the struggle. The boycott under such conditions was a natural supplement to the electrically charged atmosphere. That slogan did not "invent" anything at the time, it merely formulated accurately and truly the upswing which was going steadily forward towards a direct assault. On the contrary, the "inventors" were our Mensheviks, who kept aloof from the revolutionary upswing, fell for the empty promise of the tsar in the shape of the manifesto or the law of August 6 and seriously believed in the promised change over to a constitutional monarchy. The Mensheviks (and Parvus) at that time based their tactics not on the fact of the sweeping, powerful, and rapid revolutionary upswing, but on the tsar's promise of a change to a constitutional monarchy! No wonder such tactics turned out to be ridiculous and abject opportunism. No wonder that in all the Menshevik arguments about the boycott an analysis of the boycott of the Bulygin Duma, i.e., the revolution's greatest experience of the boycott, is now carefully discarded. But it is not enough to recognise this mistake of the Mensheviks, perhaps their biggest mistake in revolutionary tactics. One must clearly realise that the source of this mistake was failure to understand the objective state of affairs, which made the revolutionary upswing a reality and the change to a constitutional monarchy an empty police promise. The Mensheviks were wrong not because they approached the question in a mood devoid of subjective revolutionary spirit, but because the ideas of these pseudo-revolutionaries fell short of the objectively revolutionary situation. It is easy to confuse these reasons for the Mensheviks' mistakes, but it is impermissible for a Marxist to confuse them.

    * Reference everywhere in the text is to active boycott, that is, not just a refusal to take part in the institutions of the old regime but an attack upon this regime. Readers who are not familiar with Social-Democratic literature of the period of the Bulygin Duma boycott should be reminded that the Social-Democrats spoke openly at the time about active boycott, sharply contrasting it to passive boycott, and even linking it with an armed uprising.


    The connection between the boycott and the historical conditions characteristic of a definite period of the Russian revolution should be examined from still another angle. What was the political content of the Social-Democratic boycott campaign of the autumn of 1905 and the spring of 1906? Its content did not, of course, consist in repeating the word boycott or calling on the people not to take part in the elections. Nor was its content confined to appeals for a direct assault that ignored the roundabout and zigzag paths proposed by the autocracy. In addition to and not even alongside this theme, but rather at the centre of the whole boycott campaign, was the fight against constitutional illusions. This fight was, in truth, the living spirit of the boycott. Recall the speeches of the boycottists and their whole agitation, look at the principal resolutions of the boycottists and you will see how true this is.

    The Mensheviks were never able to understand this aspect of the boycott. They always believed that to fight constitutional illusions in a period of nascent constitutionalism<"p27"> was nonsense, absurdity, "anarchism". This point of view of the Mensheviks was also forcibly expressed in their speeches at the Stockholm Congress,[11] especially -- I remember -- in the speeches of Plekhanov, not to mention Menshevik literature.

    At first sight the position of the Mensheviks on this question would really seem to be as impregnable as that of a man who smugly instructs his friends that horses eat oats. In a period of nascent constitutionalism to proclaim a fight against constitutional illusions! Is it not anarchism? Is it not gibberish?

    The vulgarisation of this question effected by means of a specious allusion to the plain common sense of such arguments is based on the fact that the special period of the Russian revolution is passed over in silence, that the boycott of the Bulygin Duma is forgotten, and that the concrete stages of the course taken by our revolution are replaced by a general designation of the whole of our revolution, both past and future, as a revolution that begets constitutionalism. This is a specimen of the violation of the method of dialectical materialism by people, who, like Plekhanov, spoke about this method with the utmost eloquence.

    Yes, our bourgeois revolution as a whole, like every bourgeois revolution, is, in the long run, a process of building up a constitutional system and nothing more. That is the truth. It is a useful truth for exposing the quasi-socialist pretensions of one or another bourgeois-democratic programme, theory, tactics, and so forth. But would you be able to derive any benefit from this truth on the question as to what kind of constitutionalism the workers' party is to lead the country to in the epoch of bourgeois revolution? Or on the question as to how exactly the workers' party should fight for a definite (and, precisely, a republican) constitutionalism during definite periods of the revolution? You would not. This favourite truth of Axelrod's and Plekhanov's would no more enlighten you on these questions than the conviction that a horse eats oats would enable you to choose a suitable animal and ride it.

    The fight against constitutional illusions, the Bolsheviks said in 1905 and at the beginning of 1906, should become the slogan of the moment, because it was at that period that the objective state of affairs faced the struggling social forces with having to decide the issue whether the straight path of direct revolutionary struggle and of representative institutions created directly by the revolution on the basis of complete democratism, or the roundabout zigzag path of a monarchist constitution and police-"constitutional" (in inverted commas!) institutions of the "Duma" type would triumph in the immediate future.

    Did the objective state of affairs really raise this issue, or was it "invented" by the Bolsheviks because of their theoretical mischievousness? That question has now been answered by the history of the Russian revolution.

     The October struggle of 1905 was indeed a struggle to prevent the revolution from being switched to monarchist constitutional lines. The October-December period was indeed a period which saw the realisation of a proletarian, truly democratic,<"p29"> broad, bold, and free constitutionalism that really expressed the will of the people as opposed to the pseudo-constitutionalism of the Dubasov and Stolypin[12] constitution. The revolutionary struggle for a truly democratic constitutionalism (that is, one built on ground completely cleared of the old regime and all the abominations associated with it) called for the most determined fight against the police-monarchist constitution being used as a bait for the people. This simple thing the Social-Democratic opponents of the boycott absolutely failed to understand.

    Two phases in the development of the Russian revolution now stand out before us in all their clarity: the phase of upswing (1905) and the phase of decline (1906-07). The phase of maximum development of the people's activity, of free and broad organisations of all classes of the population, the phase of maximum freedom of the press and maximum ignoring by the people of the old authority, its institutions and commands -- and all this without any constitutionalism bureaucratically endorsed and expressed in formal rules and regulations. And after that the phase of least development and steady decline of popular activity, organisation, freedom of the press, etc., under a (God forgive us!) "constitution" concocted, sanctioned, and safeguarded by the Dubasovs and Stolypins.

    Now, when everything behind looks so plain and clear, you would hardly find a single pedant who would dare to deny the legitimacy and necessity of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat to prevent events from taking a constitutional-monarchist turn, the legitimacy and necessity of the fight against constitutional illusions.

    Now you will hardly find a sensible historian worthy of the name who would not divide the course of the Russian revolution between 1905 and the autumn of 1907 into these two periods: the "anti-constitutional" period (if I may be allowed that expression) of upswing and the period of "constitutional" decline, the period of conquest and achievement of freedom by the people without police (mon- archist) constitutionalism and the period of oppression and suppression of popular freedom by means of the monarchist "constitution".

    Now the period of constitutional illusions, the period of the First and Second Dumas is quite clear to us, and it is no longer difficult to grasp the importance of the fight which the revolutionary Social-Democrats waged at that time against constitutional illusions. But at that time, in 1905 and the beginning of 1906, neither the liberals in the bourgeois camp nor the Mensheviks in the proletarian camp understood this.

    Yet the period of the First and Second Dumas was in every sense and all respects a period of constitutional illusions. The solemn pledge that "no law shall become effective without the approval of the Duma" was not violated at that period. Thus, the constitution existed on paper, never ceasing to warm the cockles of all the slavish hearts of the Russian Cadets.[13] Both Dubasov and Stolypin at that period put the Russian constitution to the test of practice, tried it and verified it in an effort to adjust and fit it to the old autocracy. They, Dubasov and Stolypin, appeared to be the most powerful men of the time, and they worked hard to make the "illusion" a reality. The illusion proved to be an illusion. History has fully endorsed the correctness of the slogan of the revolutionary Social-Democrats. But it was not only the Dubasovs and Stolypins who tried to put the "constitution" into effect, it was not only the servile Cadets who praised it to the skies and like flunkeys (à la Mr. Rodichev in the First Duma) exerted themselves to prove that the monarch was blameless and that it would be presumptuous to hold him responsible for the pogroms. No. During this period the broad masses of the people as well undoubtedly still believed to a greater or lesser extent in the "constitution", believed in the Duma despite the warnings of the Social-Democrats.

    The period of constitutional illusions in the Russian revolution may be said to have been a period of nation-wide infatuation with a bourgeois fetish, just as whole nations in Western Europe sometimes become infatuated with the fetish of bourgeois nationalism, anti-semitism, chauvinism, etc. It is to the credit of the Social-Democrats that they alone were not taken in by the bourgeois hoax, that they alone in the epoch of constitutional illusions always kept unfurled the banner of struggle against constitutional illusions.

    Why then, the question now arises, was the boycott a specific means of struggle against constitutional illusions?

    There is a feature about the boycott which, at first sight, involuntarily repels every Marxist. Boycott of elections is a renunciation of parliamentarism, something that looks very much like passive rejection, abstention, evasion. So Parvus regarded it (he only had German models to go by) when, in the autumn of 1905, he stormed and raged, angrily but unsuccessfully, attempting to prove that active boycott was all the same a bad thing because it was still a boycott. . . . And so also is it regarded by<"p31"> Martov, who to this day has learned nothing from the revolution and is more and more turning into a liberal. By his last article in Tovarishch [14] he has shown that he is unable even to raise the problem in a way that befits a revolutionary Social-Democrat.

    But this most objectionable, so to speak, feature of the boycott as far as a Marxist is concerned is fully explained by the specific features of the period that gave rise to such a method of struggle. The First monarchist Duma, the Bulygin Duma, was a bait designed to draw the people away from the revolution. The bait was a dummy clothed in a dress of constitutionalism. One and all were tempted to swallow the bait. Some through selfish class interests, others through ignorance, were inclined to snatch at the dummy of the Bulygin Duma, and later at that of the Witte Duma. Everyone was enthusiastic, everyone sincerely believed in it. Participation in the elections was not just a matter-of-fact, simple performance of one's usual civic duties: It was the solemn inauguration of a monarchist constitution. It was a turn from the direct revolutionary path to the monarchist-constitutional path.

    The Social-Democrats were bound at such a time to unfurl their banner of protest and warning with the utmost vigour, with the utmost demonstrativeness. And that meant refusing to take part, abstaining oneself and holding the people back, issuing a call for an assault on the old regime instead of working within the framework of an institutin set up by that regime. The nation-wide enthusiasm for the bourgeois-police fetish of a "constitutional" monarchy demanded of the Social-Democrats, as the party of the proletariat, an equally nation-wide demonstration of their views protesting against and exposing this fetish, demanded a fight with the utmost vigour against the establishment of institutions that embodied that fetishism.

    There you have the full historical justification not only for the boycott of the Bulygin Duma, which met with immediate success, but for the boycott of the Witte Duma, which, to all appearances, was a failure. We now see why it was only an apparent failure, why the Social-Democrats had to maintain their protest against the constitutional monarchist turn of our revolution to the very last. This turn in fact proved to be a turn into a blind alley. The illusions about a monarchist constitution proved to be merely a prelude or a signboard, an adornment, diverting attention from preparations for the annulment of this "constitution" by the old regime. . . .

    We said that the Social-Democrats had to maintain their protest against the suppression of liberty by means of the "constitution" to the very last. What do we mean by "to the very last"? We mean until the institution against which the Social-Democrats were fighting had become an accomplished fact despite the Social-Democrats, until the monarchist-constitutional turn of the Russian revolution, which inevitably meant (for a certain time ) the decline of the revolution, the defeat of the revolution, had become an accomplished fact despite the Social-Democrats. The period of constitutional illusions was an attempt at compromise. We fought and had to fight against it with all our might. We had to go into the Second Duma, we had to reckon with compromise once the circumstances forced it upon us against our will, despite our efforts, and at the cost of the defeat of our struggle. For how long we have to reckon with it is another matter, of course.

    What inference is to be drawn from all this as regards the boycott of the Third Duma? Is it, perhaps, that the boycott, which is necessary at the beginning of the period of constitutional illusions, is also necessary at the end of this period? That would be a "bright idea" in the vein of "analogical sociology" and not a serious conclusion. Boycott cannot now have the same meaning that it had at the beginning of the Russian revolution. Today we can neither warn the people against constitutional illusions nor fight to prevent the revolution from being turned into the constitutional-monarchist blind alley. Boycott cannot have its former vital spark. If there should be a boycott, it will in any case have a different significance, it will be filled in any case with a different political content.

    Moreover, our analysis of the historical peculiarity of the boycott provides one consideration against a boycott of the Third Duma. In the period at the beginning of the constitutional turn the attention of the whole nation was inevitably focused on the Duma. By means of the boycott we fought and were bound to fight against this focusing of attention on the trend towards the blind alley, to fight against an infatuation that was due to ignorance, unenlightenment, weakness, or selfish counter-revolutionary activity. Today not only any nation-wide, but even any at all widespread enthusiasm for the Duma in general or for the Third Duma in particular is completely ruled out. There is no need for any boycott here.


    And so the conditions for the applicability of a boycott should be sought, undoubtedly, in the objective state of affairs at the given moment. Comparing, from this point of view, the autumn of 1907 with that of 1905, we cannot help coming to the conclusion that we have no grounds today for proclaiming a boycott. From the standpoint of the relation between the direct revolutionary path and the constitutional-monarchist "zigzag", from the standpoint of mass upswing, and from the standpoint of the specific aims of the fight against constitutional illusions, the present state of affairs differs sharply from that of two years ago.

    At that time the monarchist-constitutional turn of history was nothing more than a police promise. Now it is

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a fact. Not to acknowledge this fact would be a ridiculous fear of the truth. And it would be a mistake to infer from the acknowledgement of this fact that the Russian revolution is over. No, there are no grounds whatever for drawing such a conclusion. A Marxist is bound to fight for the direct revolutionary path of development when such a fight is prescribed by the objective state of affairs, but this, we repeat, does not mean that we do not have to reckon with the zigzag turn which has in fact already taken definite shape. In this respect the course of the Russian revolution has already become quite definite. At the beginning of the revolution we see a line of short, but extraordinarily broad and amazingly rapid upswing. Next we have a line of extremely slow but steady decline, beginning with the December uprising of 1905. First a period of direct revolutionary struggle by the masses, then a period of monarchist constitutional turn.

    Does this mean that this latter turn is a final one? That the revolution is over and a "constitutional" period has set in? That there are no grounds either for expecting a new upswing or for preparing for it? That the republican character of our programme must be scrapped?

    Not at all. Only liberal vulgarians like our Cadets, who are ready to use any argument to justify servility and toadyism, can draw such conclusions. No, it only means that in upholding, at all points, the whole of our programme and all our revolutionary views, we must bring our direct appeals into line with the objective state of affairs at the given moment. While proclaiming the inevitability of revolution, while systematically and steadily accumulating inflammatory material in every way, while, for this purpose, carefully guarding the revolutionary traditions of our revolution's best epoch, cultivating them and purging them of liberal parasites, we nevertheless do not refuse to do the humdrum daily work on the humdrum monarchist constitutional turn. That is all. We must work for a new, broad upswing, but we have no ground whatever for butting in blindly with the slogan of boycott.

    As we have said, the only boycott that can have any meaning in Russia at the present time is active boycott. This implies not passively avoiding participation in the elections, but ignoring the elections for the sake of the aim of a direct assault. The boycott, in this sense, inevitably amounts to a call for the most energetic and decisive offensive. Does such a broad and general upswing exist at the present moment, an upswing without which such a call would be meaningless? Of course not.

    Generally speaking, as far as "calls" are concerned, the difference in this respect between the present state of affairs and that of the autumn of 1905 is a very striking one. At that time, as we have already pointed out, there were no calls throughout the previous year to which the masses would not have responded. The impetus of the mass offensive took place in advance of the calls of the organisations. Now we are at a period of a lull in the revolution when a whole series of calls systematically met with no response among the masses. That is what happened with the call to sweep away the Witte Duma (at the beginning of 1906), with the call for an uprising after the dissolution of the First Duma (in the summer of 1906),<"p35"> with the call for struggle in answer to the dissolution of the Second Duma and the coup d'état of June 3, 1907. Take the leaflet of our Central Committee on these last acts.[15] You will find there a direct call to struggle in the form possible under local conditions (demonstrations, strikes, and an open struggle against the armed force of absolutism). It was a verbal appeal. The mutinies of June 1907 in Kiev and the Black Sea Fleet were calls through action. Neither of these calls evoked a mass response. If the most striking and direct manifestations of reactionary assault upon the revolution -- the dissolution of the two Dumas and the coup d'état -- evoked no upswing at the time, what ground is there for immediately repeating the call in the form of proclaiming a boycott? Is it not clear that the objective state of affairs is such that the "proclamation" is in danger of being just an empty shout? When the struggle is on, when it is spreading, growing, coming up from all sides, then such a "proclamation" is legitimate and necessary; then it is the duty of the revolutionary proletariat to sound such a war-cry. But it is impossible to invent that struggle or to call it into being merely by a war-cry. And when a whole series of fighting calls, tested by us on more direct occasions, has proved to be unavailing, it is only natural that we should seek to have serious grounds for "proclaiming" a slogan which is meaningless unless the conditions exist which maks fighting calls feasible.

    If anyone wants to persuade the Social-Democratic proletariat that the slogan of boycott is a correct one, he must not allow himself to be carried away by the mere sound of words that in their time played a great and glorious revolutionary role. He must weigh the objective conditions for applying such a slogan and realise that to launch it assumes indirectly the existence of conditions making for a sweeping, universal, powerful, and rapid revolutionary upswing. But in periods such as we are now living in, in periods of a temporary lull in the revolution, such a condition can in no circumstances be indirectly assumed. It must be directly and distinctly realised and made clear both to oneself and to the whole working class. Otherwise one runs the risk of finding oneself in the position of a person who uses big words without understanding their true meaning or who hesitates to speak plainly and call a spade a spade.


    The boycott is one of the finest revolutionary traditions of the most eventful and heroic period of the Russian revolution. We said above that it is one of our tasks to carefully guard these traditions in general, to cultivate them, and to purge them of liberal (and opportunist) parasites. We must dwell a little on the analysis of this task in order correctly to define what it implies and to avoid misinterpretations and misunderstandings that might easily arise.

    Marxism differs from all other socialist theories in the remarkable way it combines complete scientific sobriety in the analysis of the objective state of affairs and the objective course of evolution with the most emphatic recognition of the importance of the revolutionary energy, revolutionary creative genius, and revolutionary initiative of the masses -- and also, of course, of individuals, groups, organisations, and parties that are able to discover and achieve contact with one or another class. A high appraisal of the revolutionary periods in the development of humanity follows logically from the totality of Marx's views on history. It is in such periods that the numerous contradictions which slowly accumulate during periods of so called peaceful development become resolved. It is in such periods that the direct role of the different classes in determining the forms of social life is manifested with the greatest force, and that the foundations are laid for the political "superstructure", which then persists for a long time on the basis of the new relations of production. And, unlike the theoreticians of the liberal bourgeoisie, Marx did not regard these periods as deviations from the "normal" path, as manifestations of "social disease", as the deplorable results of excesses and mistakes, but as the most vital, the most important, essential, and decisive moments in the history of human societies. In the activities of Marx and Engels themselves, the period of their participation in the mass revolutionary struggle of 1848-49 stands out as the central point. This was their point of departure when determining the future pattern of the workers' movement and democracy in different countries. It was to this point that they always returned in order to determine the essential nature of the different classes and their tendencies in the most striking and purest form. It was from the standpoint of the revolutionary period of that time that they always judged the later, lesser, political formations and organisations, political aims and political conflicts. No wonder the ideological leaders of liberalism, men like Sombart, whole-heartedly hate this feature of Marx's activities and writings and ascribe it to the "bitterness of an exile". It is indeed typical of the bugs of police-ridden bourgeois university science to ascribe an inseparable component of Marx's and Engels's revolutionary outlook to personal bitterness, to the personal hardships of life in exile!

    In one of his letters, I think it was to Kugelmann, Marx in passing threw out a highly characteristic remark, which is particularly interesting in the light of the question we are discussing. He says that the reaction in Germany had almost succeeded in blotting out the memory and traditions of the revolutionary epoch of 1848 from the minds of the people.[16] Here we have the aims of reaction and the aims of the party of the proletariat in relation to the revolutionary traditions of a given country strikingly contrasted. The aim of reaction is to blot out these traditions, to represent the revolution as "elemental madness" -- Struve's translation of the German das tolle Jahr ("the mad year" -- the term applied by the German police-minded bourgeois historians, and even more widely by German university professorial historiography, to the year 1848). The aim of reaction is to make the people forget the forms of struggle, the forms of organisation, and the ideas and slogans which the revolutionary period begot in such profusion and variety. Just as those obtuse eulogists of English philistinism, the Webbs, try to represent Chartism, the revolutionary period of the English labour movement, as pure childishness, as "sowing wild oats", as a piece of naïveté unworthy of serious attention, as an accidental and abnormal deviation, so too the German bourgeois historians treat the year 1848 in Germany. Such also is the attitude of the reactionaries to the Great French Revolution, which, by the fierce hatred it still inspires, demonstrates to this day the vitality and force of its influence on humanity. And in the same way our heroes of counter-revolution, particularly "democrats" of yesterday like Struve, Milyukov, Kiesewetter, and tutti quanti vie with one another in scurrilously slandering the revolutionary traditions of the Russian revolution. Although it is barely two years since the direct mass struggle of the proletariat won that particle of freedom which sends the liberal lackeys of the old regime into such raptures, a vast trend calling itself liberal (!!) has already arisen in our publicist literature. This trend is fostered by the Cadet press and is wholly devoted to depicting our revolution, revolutionary methods of struggle, revolutionary slogans, and revolutionary traditions as something base, primitive, naïve, elemental, mad, etc. . . . even criminal . . . from Milyukov to Kamyshansky il n'y a qu'un pas * On the other hand, the successes of reaction, which first drove the people from the Soviets of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies into the Dubasov-Stolypin Dumas, and is now driving it into the Octobrist Duma, are depicted by the heroes of Russian liberalism as "the process of growth of constitutional consciousness in Russia".

    * There is only one step. --Ed.

    It is undoubtedly the duty of Russian Social-Democrats to study our revolution most carefully and thoroughly, to acquaint the masses with its forms of struggle, forms of organisation, etc., to strengthen the revolutionary traditions among the people, to convince the masses that improvements of any importance and permanence can be achieved solely and exclusively through revolutionary struggle, and to systematically expose the utter baseness of those smug liberals who pollute the social atmosphere with the miasma of "constitutional" servility, treachery, and Molchalinism. In the history of the struggle for liberty a single day of the October strike or of the December uprising is a hundred times more significant than months of Cadet flunkey speeches in the Duma on the subject of the blameless monarch and constitutional monarchy. We must see to it -- for if we do not no one else will -- that the people know much more thoroughly and in more detail those<"p39"> spirited, eventful, and momentous days than those months of "constitutional" asphyxia and Balalaikin-Molchalin[17] prosperity so zealously announced to the world by our liberal-party and non-party "democratic" (ugh! ugh!) press with the amiable acquiescence of Stolypin and his retinue of gendarme censors.

    There is no doubt that, in many cases, sympathy for the boycott is created precisely by these praiseworthy efforts of revolutionaries to foster tradition of the finest period of the revolutionary past, to light up the cheerless slough of the drab workaday present by a spark of bold, open, and resolute struggle. But it is just because we cherish this concern for revolutionary traditions that we must vigorously protest against the view that by using one of the slogans of a particular historical period the essential conditions of that period can be restored. It is one thing to preserve the traditions of the revolution, to know how to use them for constant propaganda and agitation and for acquainting the masses with the conditions of a direct and aggressive struggle against the old regime, but quite another thing to repeat a slogan divorced from the sum total of the  conditions which gave rise to it and which ensured its success and to apply it to essentially different conditions.

    Marx himself, who so highly valued revolutionary traditions and unsparingly castigated a renegade or philistine attitude towards them, at the same time demanded that revolutionaries should be able to think, should be able to analyse the conditions under which old methods of struggle could be used, and not simply to repeat certain slogans. The "national" traditions of 1792 in France will perhaps forever remain a model of certain revolutionary methods of struggle; but this did not prevent Marx in 1870 in the<"p40"> famous Address of the International from warning the French proletariat against the mistake of applying those traditions to the conditions of a different period.[18]

    This holds good for Russia as well. We must study the conditions for the application of the boycott; we must instil in the masses the idea that the boycott is a quite legitimate and sometimes essential method at moments when the revolution is on the upswing (whatever the pedants who take the name of Marx in vain may say). But whether revolution is really on the upswing -- and this is the fundamental condition for proclaiming a boycott -- is a question which one must be able to raise independently and to decide on the basis of a serious analysis of the facts. It is our duty to prepare the way for such an upswing, as far as it lies within our power, and not to reject the boycott at the proper moment; but to regard the boycott slogan as being generally applicable to every bad or very bad representative institution would be an absolute mistake.

    Take the reasoning that was used to defend and support the boycott in the "days of freedom", and you will see at once that it is impossible simply to apply such arguments to present-day conditions.

    When advocating the boycott in 1905 and the beginning of 1906 we said that participation in the elections would tend to lower the temper, to surrender the position to the enemy, to lead the revolutionary people astray, to make it easier for tsarism to come to an agreement with the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, and so on. What was the fundamental premise underlying these arguments, a premise not always specified but always assumed as something which in those days was self-evident. This premise was the rich revolutionary energy of the masses, which sought and found direct outlets apart from any "constitutional" channels. This premise was the continuous offensive of the revolution against reaction, an offensive which it would have been criminal to weaken by occupying and defending a position that was deliberately yielded up by the enemy in order to weaken the general assault. Try to repeat these arguments apart from the conditions of this fundamental premise and you will immediately feel that all your "music" is off-key, that your fundamental tone is false.

    It would be just as hopeless to attempt to justify the boycott by drawing a distinction between<"p41"> the Second and the Third Dumas. To regard the difference between the Cadets (who in the Second Duma completely betrayed the people to the Black Hundreds[19]) and the Octobrists[20] as a serious and fundamental difference, to attach any real significance to the notorious "constitution" which was torn up by the coup d'état of June 3, is something that in general corresponds much more to the spirit of vulgar democracy than that of revolutionary Social-Democracy. We have always said, maintained, and repeated that the "constitution" of the First and Second Dumas was only an illusion, that the Cadets' talk was only a blind to screen their Octobrist nature, and that the Duma was a totally unsuitable instrument for satisfying the demands of the proletariat and the peasantry. For us June 3, 1907 is a natural and inevitable result of the defeat of December 1905. We were never "captivated" by the charms of the "Duma" constitution, and so we cannot be greatly disappointed by the transition from reaction embellished and glossed over by Rodichev's phrase-mongering to naked, open, and crude reaction. The latter may even be a more effective means of sobering the ranting liberal simpletons or the sections of the population they have led astray. . . .

    Compare the Menshevik Stockholm resolution with the Bolshevik London resolution on the State Duma. You will find that the former is pompous, wordy, full of high-flown phrases about the significance of the Duma and puffed up by a sense of the grandeur of work in the Duma. The latter is simple, concise, sober, and modest. The first resolution is imbued with a spirit of philistine jubilation over the marriage of Social-Democracy and constitutionalism ("the new power from the midst of the people", and so on and so forth in this same spirit of official falsehood). The second resolution can be paraphrased approximately as follows: since the accursed counter-revolution has driven us into this accursed pigsty, we shall work there too for the benefit of the revolution, without whining, but also without boasting.

    By defending the Duma against boycott when we were still in the period of direct revolutionary struggle, the Mensheviks, so to speak, gave their pledge to the people that the Duma would be something in the nature of a weapon of revolution. And they completely failed to honour this pledge. But if we Bolsheviks gave any pledge at all, it was only by our assurance that the Duma was the spawn of counter-revolution and that no real good could be expected from it. Our view has been borne out splendidly so far, and it can safely be said that it will be borne out by future events as well. Unless the October-December strategy is "corrected" and repeated on the basis of the new data, there will never be freedom in Russia.

    Therefore, when I am told that the Third Duma cannot be utilised as the Second Duma was, that the masses cannot be made to understand that it is necessary to take part in it, I would reply: if by "utilise" is meant some Menshevik bombast about it being a weapon of the revolution, etc., then it certainly cannot. But then even the first two Dumas proved in fact to be only steps to the Octobrist Duma, yet we utilised them for the simple and modest* purpose (propaganda and agitation, criticism and explaining to the masses what is taking place) for which we shall always contrive to utilise even the worst representative institutions. A speech in the Duma will not cause any "revolution", and propaganda in connection with the Duma is not distinguished by any particular merits; but the advantage that Social-Democracy can derive from the one and the other is not less, and sometimes even greater, than that derived from a printed speech or a speech delivered at some other gathering. <"p42">

    * Cf. the article in Proletary (Geneva), 1905,[21] "The Boycott of the Bulygin Duma" (see present edition, Vol. 9, pp. 179-87. --Ed.) where it was pointed out that we do not renounce the use of the Duma generally, but that we are now dealing with another issue confronting us, namely, that of fighting for a direct revolutionary path. See also the article in Proletary (Russian issue), 1906,[22] No. 1, "The Boycott" (see present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 141-49. --Ed.), where stress is laid on the modest extent of the benefits to be derived from work in the Duma.

    And we must explain to the masses our participation in the Octobrist Duma just as simply. Owing to the defeat of December 1905 and the failure of the attempts of 1906-07 to "repair" this defeat, reaction inevitably drove us and will continue to drive us constantly into worse and worse quasi-constitutional institutions. Always and everywhere we shall uphold our convictions and advocate our views, always insisting that no good can be expected as long as the old regime remains, as long as it is not wholly eradicated. We shall prepare the conditions for a new upswing, and until it takes place, and in order that it may take place, we shall work still harder and not launch slogans which have meaning only when the revolution is on the upswing.

    It would be just as wrong to regard the boycott as a line of tactics counterposing the proletariat and part of the revolutionary bourgeois democracy to liberalism and reaction. The boycott is not a line of tactics, but<"p43"> a special means of struggle suitable under special conditions. To confuse Bolshevism with "boycottism" would be as bad as confusing it with "boyevism".[22a] The difference between the Bolshevik and Menshevik lines of tactics is now quite clear and has taken shape in the fundamentally different resolutions adopted in the spring of 1905 at the Bolshevik Third Congress in London and the Menshevik Conference in Geneva. There was no talk then either of boycott or of "boyevism", nor could there have been. As everyone knows, our line of tactics differed essentially from the Menshevik line both in the elections to the Second Duma, when we were not boycottists, and in the Second Duma itself. The lines of tactics diverge in every field of the struggle whatever its means and methods may be, without any special methods of struggle peculiar to either line being created. And if a boycott of the Third Duma were to be justified or caused by the collapse of revolutionary expectations in regard to the First or the Second Dumas, by the collapse of a "lawful", "strong", "stable", and "genuine" constitution, it would be Menshevism of the worst kind.



    We have left an examination of the strongest and the only Marxist arguments in favour of a boycott to the last. Active boycott has no meaning apart from a broad revolutionary upswing. Granted. But a broad upswing evolves from one that is not broad. Signs of a certain upswing are in evidence. The boycott slogan ought to be launched by us, since that slogan supports, develops, and expands the incipient upswing.

    Such, in my opinion, is the basic argument which, in a more or less clear form, determines the tendency towards boycott among Social-Democrats. Moreover, the comrades who stand closest to direct proletarian work proceed not from any argumentation "constructed" according to a certain type, but from a sum total of impressions derived from their contact with the working-class masses.

    One of the few questions on which so far it seems there are not, or were not, disagreements between the two factions of the Social-Democrats, is that of the reason for the protracted lull in the development of our revolution. "The proletariat has not recovered" -- that is the reason. Indeed, the brunt of the October-December struggle was borne by the proletariat alone. The proletariat alone fought in a systematic, organised, and unremitting way for the whole nation. No wonder that in a country with the smallest percentage of proletarian population (by European standards), the proletariat should have found itself utterly exhausted by such a struggle. Besides, ever since Deccmber the combined forces of governmental and bourgeois reaction have been striking their hardest all the time at the proletariat. Police percecutions and executions have decimated the ranks of the proletariat in the course of eighteen months, while systematic lock-outs, beginning with the "punitive" closing down of state-owned factories and ending with capitalist conspiracies against the workers, have increased poverty among the mass of the working class to an unprecedented extent. And now, some Social-Democratic functionaries say, there are signs of a rising challenge among the masses, a mustering of strength by the proletariat. This rather vague and indefinite impression is supported by a stronger argument, namely, indubitable evidence of a business revival in certain branches of industry. The growing demand for workers should inevitably intensify the strike movement. The workers will be bound to attempt to make up for at least some of the tremendous losses they sustained in the period of repression and lock-outs. Finally, the third and most powerful argument is the one that points not to a problematical or generally expected strike movement, but to a single great strike already decided upon by the workers' organisations. At the beginning of 1907, the representatives of 10,000 textile workers discussed their position and outlined steps for strengthening the trade unions in that industry. The delegates have met again, this time representing 20,000 workers, and they resolved to call a general strike of the textile workers in July 1907. This movement may involve up to 400,000 workers. It originates in the Moscow region, i.e., the biggest centre of the labour movement in Russia and the biggest trade and industrial centre. It is in Moscow, and only in Moscow, that the mass workers' movement is most likely to develop into a wide popular movement of decisive political importance. As for the textile workers, they are the worst paid and least developed element of the total of the working class, who participated least of all in previous movements and who have the closest connections with the peasantry. The initiative of such workers may be an indication that the movement will embrace much wider strata of the proletariat than before. As regards the connection between the strike movement and the revolutionary upswing of the masses, this has already been demonstrated repeatedly in the history of the Russian revolution.

    It is the bounden duty of the Social-Democrats to concentrate supreme attention and special efforts on this move-

page 46

ment. Work in this field should certainly be given precedence over the elections to the Octobrist Duma. The masses should be made to see the necessity of converting this strike movement into a general and broad attack on the autocracy. That is just what the boycott slogan means -- a shifting of attention from the Duma to the direct mass struggle. The boycott slogan means imbuing the new movement with a political and revolutionary content.

    Such, roughly, is the train of thought which has led certain Social-Democrats to the conviction that the Third Duma must be boycotted. This argument in favour of the boycott is undoubtedly a Marxist one, and has nothing in common with the bare repetition of a slogan dissociated from specific historical conditions.

    But strong as this argument is, it is not enough, in my opinion, to make us accept the boycott slogan straightaway. This argument emphasises what no Russian Social-Democrat who ponders the lessons of our revolution should have any doubts about, namely, that we cannot renounce boycott, that we must be prepared to put that slogan forward at the proper time, and that our way of stating the boycott issue has nothing in common with the liberal, wretchedly philistine way -- to keep clear of it or not to keep clear of it?* -- which is devoid of all revolutionary content.

    Let us take it for granted that everything the Social Democratic adherents of the boycott say about the changed temper of the workers, about the industrial revival, and about the July strike of the textile workers is wholly in accord with the facts.

    What follows from all this? We have before us the beginning of a partial upswing of revolutionary import.**

    * See Tovarishch for a specimen of liberal argumentation by L. Martov, a former contributor to Social-Democratic publications and now a contributor to liberal newspapers.
    ** Some hold that the textile strike is a movement of a new type which sets the trade-union movement apart from the revolutionary movement. But we pass over this view, first because to read a pessimistic meaning into all symptoms of phenomena of a complex type is generally a dangerous practice which often muddles many Social Democrats who are not quite "firm in the saddle". Secondly, if the textile strike was found to have these characteristics we Social-Democrats would have to fight against them in the most energetic man- [cont. onto p. . -- DJR] ner. Consequently, in the event of the success of our struggle the question would be just as we have stated it.

page 47

Must we make every effort to support and develop it, and try to convert it into a general revolutionary upswing, and then into a movement of an aggressive type? Undoubtedly. There can be no two opinions about this among the Social-Democrats (except, perhaps, those contributing to Tovarishch ). But do we need the boycott slogan for developing the movement at this very moment, at the beginning of this partial upswing, before it has definitely passed into a general upswing? Is this slogan capable of promoting the movement today? This is a different question, one which, in our opinion, would have to be answered in the negative.

    A general upswing can and should be developed from a partial upswing by direct and immediate arguments and slogans without any relation to the Third Duma. The entire course of events after December fully confirms the Social-Democratic view on the role of the monarchist constitution, on the necessity of direct struggle. Citizens, we shall say, if you do not want to see the cause of democracy in Russia going steadily faster and faster downhill as it did after December 1905 during the hegemony of the Cadet gentlemen over the democratic movement, then support the incipient workers' movement, support the direct mass struggle. Without it there can be no guarantee of freedom in Russia.

    Agitation of this type would undoubtedly be a perfectly consistent revolutionary-Social-Democratic agitation. Would we necessarily have to add to it: Don't believe in the Third Duma, citizens, and look at us, Social-Democrats, who are boycotting it as proof of our protest!

    Such an addition under prevailing conditions is not only unnecessary, but sounds rather odd, sounds almost like mockery. In any case, no one believes in the Third Duma, i.e., among the strata of the population that are capable of sustaining the democratic movement there is not and cannot be any of that enthusiasm for the constitutional institution of the Third Duma that undoubtedly existed among the public at large for the First Duma, for the first attempts in Russia to set up any kind of institutions provided they were constitutional.

    Widespread public interest in 1905 and the beginning of 1906 was focused on the first representative institution, even though it was based on a monarchist constitution. That is a fact. That is what the Social-Democrats had to fight against and show up as clearly as possible.

    Not so today. It is not enthusiasm for the first "parliament" that forms a characteristic feature of the moment, not belief in the Duma, but unbelief in an upswing.

    Under these conditions we shall not be strengthening the movement by prematurely putting forward the boycott slogan, we shall not be paralysing the real obstacles to that movement. Moreover, by doing so we even risk weakening the force of our agitation, for the boycott is a slogan associated with an upswing that has taken definite shape, but the trouble now is that wide circles of the population do not believe in the upswing, do not see its strength.

    We must first of all see to it that the strength of this upswing is demonstrated in actual fact, and we shall always have time afterwards to put forward the slogan which indirectly expresses that strength. Even so it is a question whether a revolutionary movement of an aggressive character requires a special slogan diverting attention from . . . the Third Duma. Possibly not. In order to pass by something that is important and really capable of rousing the enthusiasm of the inexperienced crowd who have never seen a parliament before, it may be necessary to boycott the thing that should be passed by. But in order to pass by an institution that is absolutely incapable of rousing the enthusiasm of the democratic or semi-democratic crowd of today it is not necessary to proclaim a boycott. The crux of the matter now is not in a boycott, but in direct and immediate efforts to convert the partial upswing into a general upswing, the trade-union movement into a revolutionary movement, the defence against lock-outs into an offensive against reaction.


    To sum up. The boycott slogan was the product of a special historical period. In 1905 and the beginning of 1906, the objective state of affairs confronted the contending  social forces with the immediate choice between the path of direct revolution or that of a turn to a monarchist constitution. The purpose of the campaign for a boycott was mainly to combat constitutional illusions. The success of the boycott depended on a sweeping, universal, rapid, and powerful upswing of the revolution.

    In all these respects the state of affairs now, towards the autumn of 1907, does not call for such a slogan and does not justify it.

    While continuing our day-to-day work of preparing for the elections, and while not refusing beforehand to take part in representative institutions, however reactionary, we must direct all our propaganda and agitation towards explaining to the people the connection between the December defeat and the whole subsequent decline of liberty and desecration of the constitution. We must instil in the masses the firm conviction that unless there is a direct mass struggle such desecration will inevitably continue and grow worse.

    While not renouncing the use of the boycott slogan at times of rising revolution, when the need for such a slogan may seriously arise, we must at the present moment exert every effort in an endeavour by our direct and immediate influence to convert one or another upswing of the working class movement into a sweeping, universal, revolutionary, and aggressive movement against reaction as a whole, against its foundations.

June 26, 1907


  <"en1">[1] The article "Against Boycott " was published at the end of July 1907 in a pamphlet entitled Concerning the Boycott of the Third Duma printed by the illegal Social-Democratic press in St. Petersburg. Its cover bore the fictitious inscription: "Moscow, 1907, Gorizontov Press, 40, Tverskaya". The pamphlet was confiscated in September 1907.    [p. 15]

  <"en2">[2] This refers to the Fourth Delegate Congress of the All-Russian Teachers' Union, held June 19-24 (July 2-7), 1907, in Finland. It was attended by 50 Socialist-Revolutionary, 23 Social-Democrat and 18 non-party delegates, representing nearly two thousand organised teachers of Russia. The following questions were on the agenda: adoption of the Union Rules, elections to the Third Duma, attitude towards other trade unions, attitude towards the modern Zemstvo, boycott of discharged teachers' posts, mutual benefit societies, and other items. The Congress was held in an atmosphere of tense ideological struggle between the Social-Democrats and the Socialist-Revolutionaries.
    In calling the Teachers' Union a "professional and political" union, Lenin had in mind that under Clause I of the Rules it fought for a free school while at the same time endeavouring to improve the material conditions of the teachers; it was, at one and the same time, a teachers' trade union and a political league of struggle for a free school.    [p. 17]

  <"en3">[3] Socialist-Revolutionaries (S.R.'s) -- a petty-bourgeois party formed in Russia at the end of 1901 and beginning of 1902 through the amalgamation of various Narodnik groups and circles (The "Union of Socialist-Revolutionaries", "Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries", and others). Its official organs were the newspaper Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (Revolutionary Russia ) (1900-05) and the magazines Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii (Herald of the Russian Revolution ) (1901-05) and Znamya Truda (Banner of Labour ) (1907-14). The S.R.'s failed to perceive the class distinctions between the proletariat and petty proprietors; they glossed over the class differentiation and antagonisms within the peasantry, and rejected the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution. The views of the S.R.'s were an eclectic medley of Narodism and revisionism; they tried, as Lenin put it, to "patch up the rents in the Narodnik ideas with bits of fashionable opportunist 'criticism' of Marxism"


(see present edition, Vol. 9, p. 310  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Socialism and the Peasantry". -- DJR]). The tactics of individual terrorism which the S.R.'s advocated as the principal method of struggle against the autocracy caused great harm to the revolutionary movement, since it made it difficult to organise the masses for the revolutionary struggle.

    The agrarian programme of the S.R.'s envisaged the abolition of private ownership of the land and its transfer to the village communes on the basis of the "labour principle" and "equalised" land tenure, as well as the development of co-operatives of all kinds. The S.R.'s called this programme "socialisation of the land", but there was nothing socialist about it. Lenin's analysis of it showed that the preservation of commodity production and private farming on the common land does not eliminate the domination of capital, does not save the toiling peasants from exploitation and ruin nor can co-operation be a saving remedy for the small peasants under capitalism, since it serves to enrich the rural bourgeoisie. At the same time Lenin pointed out that the demand for equalised land tenure while not socialist, was of a historically progressive revolutionary-democratic nature, since it was aimed against reactionary landlordism.

    The Bolshevik Party exposed the S.R.'s attempts to masquerade as socialists, waged an unremitting struggle against the S.R.'s for influence on the peasantry, and revealed the harm their tactics of individual terrorism were causing the labour movement. At the same time the Bolsheviks were prepared, on definite terms, to come to temporary agreements with the S.R.'s in the struggle against tsarism.
    The heterogeneous class character of the peasantry determined the political and ideological instability and organisational disunity of the S.R. Party, and its members' continual vacillation between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Already during the first Russian revolution of 1905-07 its Right wing split away from the party and formed the legal "Trudovik Popular Socialist Party" (Popular Socialists), whose views were close to those of the Constitutional-Democrats; the Left wing organised itself into the semi-anarchist League of "Maximalists". During the Stolypin reaction the S.R. Party was in a state of complete collapse ideologically and organisationally. The First World War found most of the S.R.'s taking a social-chauvinist stand.

    After the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution of February 1917, the S.R.'s, together with the Mensheviks and Cadets were the mainstay of the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government of the bourgeoisie and landlords, and the leaders of the party (Kerensky, Avksentyev, Chernov) were members of that government. The S.R. Party refused to support the peasants' demands for the abolition of landlordism and stood for private ownership of the land; the S.R. ministers in the Provisional Government sent punitive expeditions against the peasants who had seized the landlords' estates.

    At the end of November 1917 the Left wing of the party founded a separate Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party. In an endeavour to maintain their influence among the peasant masses, the Left S.R.'s formally recognised the Soviet government and entered into an agreement with the Bolsheviks, but very soon turned against the Soviet power.
    During the years of foreign military intervention and civil war the S.R.'s engaged in counter-revolutionary subversive activities, zealously supported the interventionists and whiteguard generals, took part in counter-revolutionary plots, and organised terrorist acts against leaders of the Soviet state and Communist Party. After the civil war they continued their anti-Soviet activities within the country and as whiteguard émigrés abroad.    [p. 17]

  <"en4">[4] Coup d'état of June 3 (16), 1907 -- a counter-revolutionary act by which the government dissolved the Second Duma and altered the electoral law. On the basis of a trumped-up charge framed by the Okhranka (the secret police) against the Social-Democratic members of the Duma, accusing them of being connected with a military organisation and preparing an armed uprising, Stolypin, on June 1907, demanded that these members be banned from taking part in the Duma sittings, sixteen members of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma were to be arrested. A committee was set up by the Duma to verify the charge. Without waiting for the results of this committee's investigations, the government, on the night of June 3 (16) had the Social-Democratic group arrested. On June 3 the tsar's manifesto dissolved the Duma and announced modifications in the electoral law, which greatly increased representation of the landlords and the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie in the Duma and considerably reduced the already meagre representation of the workers and peasants. This was a gross violation of the Manifesto of October 17, 1905 and the Fundamental Law of 1906 under which no laws could be issued by the government without the approval of the Duma.
    Under the new electoral law one elector was elected to the landowners' curia from 230 people, to the urban curia of the first degree from 1,000 people, to the urban curia of the second degree from 15,000 people, to the peasants' curia from 60,000 people, and to the workers' curia from 125,000 people. The landlords and bourgeoisie were able to elect 65 per cent of all the electors, the peasants 22 per cent (formerly 42 per cent), and the workers 2 per cent (formerly 4 per cent). The law deprived the indigenous population of Asiatic Russia and the Turkic peoples of the Astrakhan and Stavropol gubernias of the franchise, and reduced the number of deputies returned by Poland and the Caucasus by half. All persons throughout Russia who did not know the Russian language were deprived of the franchise. The Third Duma elected on the basis of this law, which assembled on November 1, 1907, was a Duma of Black-Hundred and Octobrist deputies.
    The coup d'état of June 3 was, in Lenin's words, "a turning-point in the history of our revolution" (see present edition, Vol. 15, "The Straight Road"), which ushered in the period of Stolypin reaction.    [p. 17]

   <"en5">[5] The Bulygin Duma -- the consultative "representative body" which the tsarist government had promised to convene in 1905. The tsar's manifesto the law providing for the establishment of the Duma, and regulations governing elections to it were promulgated on August 6 (19),1905. It came to be known as the Bulygin Duma because the Bill inaugurating it was drafted on the tsar's instructions by A. G. Bulygin the Minister of the Interior. Electoral rights were granted only to the landlords, the big capitalists, and a small number of peasant householders. The peasants were given only 51 out of the 412 seats established by the law. The majority of the population -- the workers, poor peasants, farm-labourers, and democratic intelligentsia -- were deprived of the franchise. Women, servicemen, students, persons under twenty-five, and a number of subject nationalities were not allowed to vote. The Duma had no right to pass laws and could merely discuss certain questions in the capacity of a consultative body under the tsar. Lenin described the Bulygin Duma as "the most barefaced mockery of 'popular representation'" (see present edition, Vol. 9, p. 194  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "'Oneness of the Tsar and the People, and of the People and the Tsar'". -- DJR]).

    The Bolsheviks called upon the workers and peasants to actively boycott the Bulygin Duma, and concentrated their agitational campaign around the slogans of an armed uprising, a revolutionary army, and a provisional revolutionary government. The Mensheviks considered it possible to take part in the elections to the Duma and stood for co-operation with the liberal bourgeoisie.

    The Bulygin Duma boycott campaign was used by the Bolsheviks to rally all the revolutionary forces, to organise mass political strikes, and to prepare for an armed uprising. The elections to the Bulygin Duma did not take place, and the government failed to convene it. It was swept away by the mounting wave of revolution and the All-Russian political strike of October 1905. On the subject of the Bulygin Duma, see Lenin's articles "The Constitutional Market-Place", "The Boycott of the Bulygin Duma, and Insurrection", "Oneness of the Tsar and the People, and of the People and the Tsar", "In the Wake of the Monarchist Bourgeoisie, Or in the Van of the Revolutionary Proletariat and Peasantry?" and others (see present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 351-55; Vol. 9, pp. 179-87, 191-99, 212-23).    [p. 18]

  <"en6">[6] The Ninth of January 1905 -- "Bloody Sunday", the day on which by order of the tsar, a peaceful procession of St. Petersburg workers was shot down. The workers were marching to the Winter Palace to present a petition to the tsar.
    This cold-blooded massacre of unarmed workers started a wave of mass political strikes and demonstrations all over Russia under the slogan of "Down with the Autocracy!".
    The events of January 9 precipitated the revolution of 1905-07.    [p. 19]

  <"en7">[7] Potemkin -- armoured cruiser of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the crew of which mutinied on June 14-24, 1905. The revolutionary outbreak on the Potemkin was of great political importance, since it was the first time that any big tsarist military unit had joined the revolution.    [p. 19]

  <"en8">[8] The Witte Duma -- Russia's First Duma, convened on April 27 (May 10), 1906 on a franchise drafted by the Prime Minister Witte. Although the electoral law governing elections to the First Duma was anti-democratic, the tsar did not succeed in convening a wholly docile Duma. The majority in the Duma were Cadets, who tried to win the confidence of the peasantry with false promises of reforms, including an agrarian reform.

    The tsarist government dissolved the Duma on July 8 (21), 1906.    [p. 21]

  <"en9">[9] The man in the muffler -- the chief character in Chekhov's story of the same name, typifying the narrow-minded philistine, who fights shy of all innovations and display of initiative.    [p. 22]

  <"en10">[10] See Friedrich Engels, Flüchtlingsliteratur, Internationales aus dem Volksstaat, Berlin, 1957.    [p. 23]

  <"en11">[11] The Fourth (Unity ) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was held in Stockholm, April 10-25 (April 23-May 8), 1906.
    It was attended by 112 delegates with the right to vote, representing 57 local organisations, and 22 consultative delegates. In addition, there were representatives from the non-Russian Social-Democratic parties: three each from those of Poland and Lithuania, the Bund, the Lettish Social-Democratic Labour Party, and one each from the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Labour Party and the Labour Party of Finland, and a representative of the Bulgarian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The Bolshevik delegates included F. A. Artyom (Sergeyev), M. F. Frunze, M. I. Kalinin, V. I. Lenin, S. G. Shaumyan, and V. V. Vorovsky. The Congress discussed the agrarian question, the current situation and the class tasks of the proletariat, the attitude towards the Duma, and organisational questions. There was a sharp struggle between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks on all issues. Lenin delivered reports and made speeches at the Congress on the agrarian question, on the current situation, on the tactics to be assumed in regard to the elections to the Duma on the armed uprising, and other questions.
    The Mensheviks' numerical preponderance at the Congress, though slight, determined the character of the Congress decisions. On a number of questions the Congress adopted Menshevik resolutions the agrarian programme, the attitude towards the Duma, etc.). The Congress adopted Lenin's formulation of Paragraph One of the Party Rules. The Congress admitted into the R.S.D.L.P. the non-Russian Social-Democratic organisations: the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania, and the Lettish Social-Democratic Labour Party and adopted a draft laying down the conditions on which the Bund could join the R.S.D.L.P.
    The Central Committee elected at the Congress consisted of three Bolsheviks and seven Mensheviks. Only Mensheviks were elected to the Editorial Board of the Central Organ.

     An analysis of the Congress is given in Lenin's pamphlet Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (See present edition, Vol. 10, pp. 317-82.)    [p. 27]

  <"en12">[12] Dubasov -- the Governor-General of Moscow who suppressed the Moscow armed uprising in December 1905.

    Stolypin -- Russian Prime Minister.    [p. 29]

  <"en13">[13] Cadets -- (abbreviated) members of the Constitutional-Democratic Party, the chief party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie in Russia. Founded in October 1905, its membership was made up of representatives of the bourgeoisie, Zemstvo leaders of the landowning class, and bourgeois intellectuals. Leading personalities of the party were P. N. Milyukov, S. A. Muromtsev, V. A. Maklakov, A. I. Shingarev, P. B. Struve, and F. I. Rodichev, among others. To hoodwink the working people the Cadets called themselves the "Party of People's Freedom". Actually, they did not go beyond the demand for a constitutional monarchy. They considered it their chief aim to combat the revolutionary movement, and sought to share the power with the tsar and the feudal landlords. During the First World War the Cadets actively supported the tsarist government's aggressive foreign policy. During the bourgeois-democratic revolution of February 1917 they tried their hardest to save the monarchy. They used their key positions in the bourgeois Provisional Government to pursue a counter-revolutionary policy opposed to the interests of the people, but favouring the U.S., British, and French imperialists. After the victory of the October Revolution the Cadets came out as implacable enemies of the Soviet power. They took part in all the counter-revolutionary armed actions and campaigns of the interventionists. Living abroad as émigrés after the defeat of the interventionists and whiteguards, the Cadets did not cease their anti-Soviet counter-revolutionary activities.    [p. 30]

  <"en14">[14] Tovarishch (The Comrade ) -- a bourgeois daily published in St. Petersburg from March 15 (28), 1906 to December 30, 1907 (January 12, 1908). Though formally not the organ of any particular party it was in fact the mouthpiece of the Left Cadets. Active contributors were S. N. Prokopovich and Y. D. Kuskova. The newspaper also published contributions from Mensheviks.    [p. 31]

  <"en15">[15] Leaflet of the C.C. -- "Letter to Party Organisations" No. 1 written in connection with the coup d'état of June 3. "The proletariat and its spokesman -- revolutionary Social-Democracy," the letter states, "cannot leave the government's act of violence unanswered and unprotested. Social-Democracy does not give up the idea of continuing and developing the revolution." Without calling for immediate action the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. appealed to the Party organisations to "support and go the whole way in developing mass movements as they arise, and in cases where the active and decisive support of the broad masses can be counted on, to immediately take upon themselves the initiative in the movement and notify the C.C. about it".    [p. 35]

   <"en16">[16] See Marx's letter to Kugelmann of March 3. 1869. (K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, p. 263).    [p. 37]

  <"en17">[17] Balalaikin -- a character in Saltykov-Shchedrin's Modern Idyll ; a liberal windbag, adventurer, and humbug, who places his selfish interests above all else.
    Molchalin -- a character in Griboyedov's play Wit Works Woe typifying an unprincipled climber and toady.    [p. 39]

  <"en18">[18] K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, 1958, p. 497.  [Transcriber's Note: See Marx's The Civil War in France. -- DJR]    [p. 40]

  <"en19">[19] Black Hundreds -- monarchist gangs formed by the tsarist police to combat the revolutionary movement. They assassinated revolutionaries, assaulted progressive intellectuals, and organised anti-Jewish pogroms.    [p. 41]

  <"en20">[20] Octobrists -- members of the Octobrist party (or Union of October Seventeenth), founded in Russia after the promulgation of the tsar's Manifesto of October 17 (30), 1905. It was a counter-revolutionary party representing and defending the interests of the big bourgeoisie and landlords who engaged in capitalist farming. Its leaders were the well-known industrialist and Moscow houseowner A. I. Guchkov and the big landowner M. V. Rodzyanko. The Octobrists unreservedly supported the home and foreign policies of the tsarist government.    [p. 41]

  <"en21">[21] Proletary (The Proletarian ) (Geneva issue) -- an illegal Bolshevik weekly, central organ of the R.S.D.L.P., founded in accordance with a resolution of the Third Congress of the Party. By a decision of a plenary meeting of the Party's Central Committee on April 7 (May 10), 1905, Lenin was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the paper. It was published in Geneva from May 14 (27) to November 12 (25), 1905. Altogether twenty-six issues were brought out. Proletary followed tbe line of the old, Lenin Iskra, and maintained full continuity of policy with the Bolshevik newspaper Vperyod.
    Lenin wrote about 90 articles and items for Proletary, whose political character, ideological content, and Bolshevik angle they determined. Lenin performed a tremendous job as the paper's manager and editor. V. V. Vorovsky, A. V. Lunacharsky and M. S. Olminsky regularly took part in the work of the editorial board. Important work was also done by N. K. Krupskaya, V. M. Velichkina, and V. A. Karpinsky. The paper had close ties with the labour movement in Russia, publishing articles and items written by workers who participated directly in the revolutionary movement. The collection of correspondence locally and its delivery to Geneva were organised by V. D. Bonch-Bruyevich, S. I. Gusev, and A. I. Ulyanova-Yelizarova. The editors' correspondence with the local Party organisations and readers was handled by N. K. Krupskaya and L. A. Fotieva.
    Proletary reacted immediately to all important events in the Russian and international labour movement and waged an irreconcilable struggle against the Mensheviks and other opportunist revisionist elements. The newspaper carried out a great deal of work in propaganda for the decisions of the Third Congress of the Party and played an important part in organising and ideologically uniting the Bolsheviks. It consistently defended revolutionary Marxism and worked out all the fundamental issues of the revolution which was developing in Russia. By highlighting the events of 1905 Proletary helped to rouse the broad masses of the working people to the struggle for the victory of the revolution.
    Proletary exercised great influence on the local Social-Democratic organisations. Some of Lenin's articles in the paper were reprinted in local Bolshevik papers and circulated in leaflet form. Publication of Proletary was discontinued shortly after Lenin's departure for Russia at the beginning of November 1905. The last two issues (Nos. 25 and 26) were edited by V. V. Vorovsky, but for them too Lenin wrote several articles, which were published after his departure from Geneva.    [p. 42]

  <"en22">[22] Proletary (The Proletarian ) (Russian issue) -- an illegal Bolshevik newspaper published from August 21 (September 3), 1906 to November 8 (December 11), 1909 under the editorship of Lenin. Altogether 50 issues were put out. An active part in the work of the Editorial Board was taken by M. F. Vladimirsky, V. V. Vorovsky, A. V. Lunacharsky, and I. F. Dubrovinsky. The technical work was handled by Y. S. Schlichter, A. G. Schlichter, and others. The first twenty issues were prepared for the press and set up in Vyborg (printing from the matrices sent was organised in St. Petersburg for purposes of secrecy the newspaper carried the statement that it was published in Moscow). Eventually, owing to the extremely difficult conditions created for the publication of an illegal organ in Russia, the Editorial Board of Proletary, in accordance with a decision of the St. Petersburg and Moscow committees of the R.S.D.L.P. arranged to have the paper published abroad (Nos. 21-40 were issued in Geneva, and Nos. 41-50 in Paris).
    Proletary was in fact the Central Organ of the Bolsheviks. The bulk of the work on the Editorial Board was done by Lenin. Most of the issues carried several articles by him. Altogether over 100 articles and items by Lenin on all vital issues of the revolutionary struggle of the working class were published in Proletary. The paper devoted a good deal of space to tactical and general political questions, and published reports on the activities of the C.C of the R.S.D.L.P., the decisions of conferences and C.C. plenary meetings, C.C. letters on various questions of Party activity, and a number of other documents. The paper was in close touch with the local Party organisations.

    During the years of the Stolypin reaction Proletary played an important role in preserving and strengthening the Bolshevik organisations and combating the liquidators, otzovists, ultimatists and god-builders. At the plenary meeting of the Party's Central Committee in January 1910 the Mensheviks, with the help of the conciliators, succeeded in obtaining a decision to close down the paper on the pretext of fighting factionalism.    [p. 42]

  <"en22a">[22a] Boyevism -- from the Russian word boyevik, a member of the revolutionary fighting squads, who, during the revolutionary struggle, used the tactics of armed action, helped political prisoners to escape, expropriated state-owned funds for the needs of the revolution, removed spies and agent provocateurs, etc. During the revolution of 1905-07 the Bolsheviks had special fighting squads.    [p. 43]