The Crisis of Menshevism

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V. I. Lenin



    The advocacy of a non-party labour congress and blocs with the Cadets is undoubtedly a sign of something in the nature of a crisis in the tactics of the Mensheviks. Being opposed on principle to all their tactics in general, we, of course, could not ourselves decide whether this crisis had ripened sufficiently to break out on the surface, so to speak. Comrade Y. Larin has come to our assistance in his latest and most instructive pamphlet: A Broad Labour Parly and a Labour Congress (Moscow, 1906, book depot of Novy Mir Publishers).

    Comrade Y. Larin often speaks in the name of the majority of the Mensheviks. He styles himself -- and with full right -- a responsible representative of Menshevism. He has worked both in the South and in the most "Menshevik" district of St. Petersburg, Vyborg District. He was a delegate to the Unity Congress. He was a regular contributor to Golos Truda and Otkliki Sovremennosti. All these facts are extremely important in forming an opinion of the pamphlet, the value of which lies in the author's veracity, but not in his logic; in the information he supplies, but not in his arguments. <"s1">


    A Marxist must base his arguments on tactics on an analysis of the objective course of the revolution. The Bolsheviks,<"p341"> as we know, made an attempt to do so in the resolution on the present situation which they submitted to the Unity Congress.[144] The Mensheviks withdrew their own resolution on this subject. Comrade Larin evidently feels that such

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questions must not be shelved and he makes an attempt to trace the course of our bourgeois revolution.

    He divides it into two periods. The first, covering the whole of 1905, is the period of the open mass movement. The second, starting with 1906, is the period of agonisingly slow preparation for the "actual triumph of the cause of liberty", "the realisation of the aspirations of the people". In this period of preparation the countryside is the decisive factor; because its aid was not forthcoming the "disunited cities were crushed". We are experiencing "an internal, outwardly passive-seeming, growth of the revolution".

    "What is called the agrarian movement -- the constant ferment which does not develop into widespread attempts at an active offensive, the minor struggles with the local authorities and landlords, the suspension of tax payments, punitive expeditions -- all this constitutes the course most advantageous to the peasantry, not from the point of view of economising forces, perhaps, which is doubtful, but from the point of view of results. Without completely exhausting the rural population, bringing it, on the whole, more alleviation than defeats, it is seriously sapping the foundations of the old regime and creating conditions that must inevitably compel it to capitulate, or fall, at the first serious test, when the time comes." And the author points out that in two or three years' time there will be a change in the personnel of the police force and the army, which will be replenished with recruits from the discontented rural population; "our sons will be among the soldiers", as a peasant told the author.

    Comrade Larin draws two conclusions. (1) In our country "unrest in the countryside cannot subside. The Austrian 1848 cannot be repeated here." (2) "The Russian revolution is not taking the course of an armed uprising of the people in the real sense of the term, like the American or Polish revolutions."

    Let us consider these conclusions. The author's grounds for the first are too sketchy and his formulation of it too inexact. But in substance, he is not far from the truth. The outcome of our revolution will actually depend most of all on the steadfastness in struggle of the millions of peasants.

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Our big bourgeoisie is far more afraid of revolution than of reaction. The proletariat, by itself, is not strong enough to win. The urban poor do not represent any independent interests, they are not an independent force compared with the proletariat and peasantry. The rural population has the decisive role, not in the sense of leading the struggle (this is out of the question), but in the sense of being able to ensure victory.

    If Comrade Larin had properly thought out his conclusion and had linked it up with the whole course of development of Social-Democratic ideas on our bourgeois revolution, he would have found himself confronted with an old proposition of the Bolshevism that he hates so much: the victorious outcome of the bourgeois revolution in Russia is possible only in the form of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. In effect, Larin has arrived at the same point of view. The only thing that prevents him from admitting it openly is that Menshevik quality which he himself castigates, namely: hesitant and timid thinking. One need only compare Larin's arguments on this subject with those of the Central Committee's Sotsial-Demokrat to be convinced that Larin has come close to the Bolsheviks on this question. Sotsial-Demokrat went to the length of saying that the Cadets are the urban, non-Estate, progressive bourgeoisie, while the Trudoviks are the rural, Estate, non-progressive bourgeoisie! Sotsial-Demokrat failed to notice the landlords and counter-revolutionary bourgeois among the Cadets, failed to notice the non-Estate, urban democrats (the lower strata of the urban poor) among the Trudoviks.

    To proceed. Larin says that unrest in the countryside can not subside. Has he proved it? No. He has entirely left out of account the role of the peasant bourgeoisie, which is being systematically bribed by the government. He has given little thought also to the fact that the "alleviations" obtained by the peasantry (lower rents, "curtailment" of the rights and powers of the landlords and the police, etc.) are intensifying the break-up of the rural population into the counter-revolutionary rich and a mass of poor. Such sweeping generalisations must not be made with such scanty evidence. They sound trite.

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    But can the proposition that "unrest in the countryside cannot subside" be proved? Yes and no. Yes -- in the sense that one can make a thorough analysis of probable developments. No -- in the sense that one cannot be absolutely certain of these developments in the present bourgeois revolution. One cannot weigh with apothecary's scales the equilibrium between the new forces of counter-revolution and revolution which are growing and becoming interwoven in the countryside. Experience alone will completely reveal this. Revolution, in the narrow sense of the term, is an acute struggle, and only in the course of the struggle and in its outcome is the real strength of all the interests, aspirations and potentialities displayed and fully recognised.

    The task of the advanced class in the revolution is to ascertain correctly the trend of the struggle, to make the most of all opportunities, all chances of victory. This class must be the first to take the direct revolutionary path and the last to abandon it for more "prosaic", more "circuitous" paths. Comrade Larin has failed to understand this truth, although he argues at great length and (as we shall see below) not at all cleverly about spontaneous outbursts and planned action.

    Let us pass to his second conclusion -- concerning an armed uprising. Here Larin is even more guilty of timid thinking. His thoughts slavishly follow the old models: the North American and Polish uprisings. Apart from these, he refuses to recognise any uprising "in the real sense of the term". He even says that our revolution is not proceeding on the lines of a "formal" (!) and "regular" (!!) armed uprising.

    How curious: a Menshevik who won his spurs in a fight against formalism is now talking about a formal armed up rising! If your thoughts are so crushed by the formal and the regular, you have only yourself to blame, Comrade Larin. The Bolsheviks have always taken a different view of the matter. Long before the uprising, at the Third Congress, i.e., in the spring of 1905,<"p344"> they emphasised in a special resolution the connection between the mass strike and an uprising."[145] The Mensheviks prefer to ignore this. It is in vain. The resolution of the Third Congress is actual proof

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that we foresaw as closely as was possible the specific features of the people's struggle at the end of 1905. And we did not by any means conceive the uprising as being of "the type" of North America or Poland, where a mass strike would have been out of the question. <"p345">

    Then, after December, we pointed out (in our draft resolution for the Unity Congress[146]) the change in the relation of the strike to the uprising, the role of the peasantry and the army, the inadequacy of local outbreaks in the armed forces and the necessity of reaching an agreement with the revolutionary-democratic elements among the troops.

    And events proved once again, in the course of the Duma period, the inevitability of an uprising in the Russian struggle for emancipation.

    Larin's arguments about a formal uprising display an ignorance of the history of the present revolution, or a disregard for this history and its specific forms of insurrection, that is most unbecoming for a Social-Democrat. Larin's thesis! "The Russian revolution is not taking the course of an uprising" shows contempt for the facts, for both periods of civil liberties in Russia (the October and the Duma periods) were in fact marked by a "course" of uprisings, not of the American or Polish type, of course, but one characteristic of twentieth-century Russia. By arguing "in general" about historical examples of uprisings in countries where rural or urban elements predominated, about America and Poland, and refusing to make the least attempt to study or even note the specific features of the uprising in Russia, Larin repeats the cardinal error of the "hesitant and timid" thinking of the Mensheviks.

    Look deeper into his structure of "passive" revolution. Undoubtedly, there may be long periods of preparation for a new upsurge, a new onslaught, or new forms of struggle. But don't be doctrinaire, gentlemen; consider what this "constant ferment" in the countryside means in addition to the "minor struggles", the "punitive expeditions" and the change in the personnel of the police force and troops! Why, you do not understand what you yourselves are saying. The situation you describe is nothing more nor less than protracted guerrilla warfare, interspersed with a series of outbursts of revolt in the army of increasing magnitude and unity,

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You keep on using angry and abusive language about the "guerrilla fighters", "anarchists", "anarcho-Blanquist-Bolsheviks", and so forth, yet you yourselves depict the revolution as the Bolsheviks do! Change in the personnel of the army, its remanning with "recruits from the discontented rural population". What does this mean? Can this "discontent" of the rural population clothed in sailors' jackets and soldiers' uniforms fail to come to the surface? Can it fail to manifest itself when there is "constant ferment" in the soldiers' native villages, when "minor struggles" on one side and "punitive expeditions" on the other are raging in the country? And can we, in this period of Black-Hundred pogroms, government violence and police outrages, conceive of any other manifestation of this discontent among the soldiers than military revolts?

    While repeating Cadet phrases ("our revolution is not taking the course of an uprising";<"p346"> this phrase was put into circulation by the Cadets at the end of 1905; see Milyukov's Narodnaya Svoboda [147]), you at the same time show that a new uprising is inevitable; "the regime will collapse at the first serious test". Do you think that a serious test of the regime is possible in a broad, heterogeneous, complex, popular movement without a preliminary series of less important, partial tests; that a general strike is possible without a series of local strikes; that a general uprising is possible with out a series of sporadic, minor, non-general uprisings?

    If recruits from the discontented rural population are increasing in the armed forces, and if the revolution as a whole is advancing, then insurrection is inevitable in the form of extremely bitter struggle against the Black-Hundred troops (for the Black Hundreds are also organising and training themselves, do not forget this! Do not forget that there are social elements which foster Black-Hundred mentality!), a struggle both of the people and of a section of the armed forces. So it is necessary to get ready, to prepare the masses and to prepare ourselves, for a more systematic, united and aggressive uprising -- that is the conclusion that follows from Larin's premises, from his Cadet fairy-tale about passive (??) revolution. Larin admits that the Mensheviks "put the blame for their own melancholy and despondency on the course of the Russian revolution" (p. 58). Exactly!

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Passivity is the quality of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, not of the revolution. Those are passive who admit that the army is being filled with recruits from the discontented rural population, that constant ferment and minor struggles are inevitable, and yet,<"p347"> with the complacency of Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka,[148] console the workers' party with the statement: "the Russian revolution is not taking the course of an uprising".

    But what about the "minor struggles"? You, my dear La rin, think that they are the "course most advantageous to the peasantry from the point of view of results"? You maintain this opinion in spite of the punitive expeditions, and even include the latter in the most advantageous course? But have you given even the slightest thought to what distinguishes this minor struggle from guerrilla warfare? Nothing, esteemed Comrade Larin.

    In your preoccupation with the ill-chosen examples of America and Poland you have overlooked the specific forms of struggle engendered by the Russian uprising, which is more protracted, more stubborn and has longer intervals between big battles than uprisings of the old type.

    Comrade Larin has become completely confused, and his conclusions are all at sixes and sevens. If there are grounds for revolution in the countryside, if the revolution is expanding and drawing in new forces, if the army is being filled with discontented peasants, and if continual ferment and minor struggles persist in the countryside, then the Bolsheviks are right in their fight against shelving the question of an uprising. We do not advocate an uprising at all times and under all circumstances. But we do demand that the thoughts of a Social-Democrat should not be hesitant and timid. If you admit that the conditions for an uprising exist, then recognise the uprising itself and the special tasks that confront the Party in connection with it.

    To call minor struggles "the most advantageous course ", i.e., the most advantageous form of the struggle of the people in a specific period of our revolution, and at the same time to refuse to admit that the Party of the advanced class is confronted by active tasks which arise out of this "most advantageous course", reveals either inability to think or dishonest thinking.

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    A "theory of passivity" is the term that might be applied to Larin's arguments about a "passive" revolution that is preparing the "collapse of the old regime at the first serious test". And this "theory of passivity", a natural product of timid thinking, has left its mark on the whole pamphlet of our penitent Menshevik. He asks: Why, considering its enormous ideological influence, is our Party so weak organisationally? It is not, he replies, because our Party is a party of intellectuals. This old, "bureaucratic" (Larin's expression) explanation of the Mensheviks is quite worthless. Because, objectively, in the present period there has been no need for a different kind of party, and the objective conditions for a different kind of party have not existed. Because for a "policy of spontaneous outbursts", such as the policy of the proletariat was at the beginning of the revolution, no party was needed. All that was needed was a "technical apparatus to serve the spontaneous movement" and "spontaneous moods", to conduct propaganda and agritational work in the intervals between revolutionary outbursts. This was not a party in the European sense, but "a narrow -- 120,000 out of nine million -- association of young working-class conspirators"; few married men; the majority of the workers who are ready for public activities are outside the Party.

    Now the period of spontaneous outbursts is passing away. Calculation is taking the place of mere temperament. In place of the "policy of spontaneous outbursts", a "policy of planned action" is arising. Now we need "a party of the European type", a "party of objectively planned, political action". In place of an "apparatus-party" we need a "vanguard-party", "that would be the rallying point for all those suitable for active political life that the working class can produce from its ranks". This is the transition to a "European party based on calculated action". The "sound realism of European Social-Democracy" is taking the place of "official Menshevism with its half-hearted and hesitating measures, its despondency and failure to understand its own position". "Its voice has been making itself quite audible for some time now through Plekhanov and Axelrod -- strictly speaking the only Europeans in our 'barbarian' environment. . . ." And, of

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course, the substitution of Europeanism for barbarism promises success in place of failure. "Wherever spontaneity prevails, mistakes in judgement and failures in practice are inevitable." "Where there is spontaneity, there is utopianism; where there is utopianism, there is failure."

    In these arguments of Larin's we see again the glaring discrepancy between the tiny kernel of a correct, although not new, idea, and the enormous husk of sheer reactionary incomprehension. A spoonful of honey in a barrel of tar.

    It is an unquestionable and indisputable fact that as capitalism develops, as experience of bourgeois revolution or revolutions, and also of abortive socialist revolutions, accumulates, the working class of all countries grows, develops, learns, becomes trained and organised. In other words: it advances from spontaneity to planned action, from being guided merely by mood to guidance by the objective position of all classes, from outbursts to sustained struggle. All this is true. It is as old as the hills, and is as applicable to Russia of the twentieth century as to England of the seventeenth century, to France of the thirties of the nineteenth century, and to Germany at the close of the nineteenth century.

    But the trouble with Larin is that he is quite incapable of digesting the materials which our revolution provides the Social-Democrat. Like a child with a uew toy, he is entirely taken up with contrasting the outbursts of Russian barbarism with European planned activity. Uttering a truism that applies to all periods in general, he does not understand that his naïve application of this truism to a period of direct revolutionary struggle becomes with him a renegade attitude towards the revolution. This would be tragicomical, if it were not that Larin's sincerity left no shadow of doubt that he is unconsciously echoing the renegades of the revolution.

    Spontaneous outbursts of barbarians, planned activity of the Europeans. . . . This is a purely Cadet formula and a Cadet idea, the idea of the traitors to the Russian revolution, who go into raptures over "constitutionalism" like Muromtsev, who declared: "The Duma is part of the government", or the lackey Rodichev, who exclaimed: "It is presumption to hold the monarch responsible for the pogrom." The Cadets have created a whole literature written by renegades (the

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Izgoyevs, Struves, Prokopoviches, Portugalovs, et tutti quanti ) who have reviled the folly of spontaneity, i.e., revolution. The liberal bourgeois, like the famous animal in the fable, is simply unable to lift his eyes and understand that it is only due to the "outbursts" of the people that we still possess even a shadow of liberty.

    And Larin, naïvely uncritical, trails behind the liberals. Larin does not understand that there are two sides to the question he raises: (1) the contrast between a spontaneous struggle and a planned struggle of the same dimensions and forms, (2) the contrast between a revolutionary (in the narrow sense) period and a counter-revolutionary or "only constitutional" period. Larin's logic is atrocious. He contrasts a spontaneous political strike not to a planned political strike, but to planned participation in, let us say, the Bulygin Duma. He contrasts a spontaneous uprising not to a planned uprising, but to planned trade union activity. Consequently, his Marxist analysis is converted into a flat and philistine apotheosis of counter-revolution.

    European Social-Democracy is the "party of objectively planned political activity", prattles Larin ecstatically. Oh, child! He does not notice that he is going into raptures over the particularly limited field of "activity " to which the Europeans were compelled to confine themselves in a period when there was no directly revolutionary struggle. He does not notice that he is going into raptures over the planned nature of a struggle waged within legal limits and decrying the spontaneity of a struggle for the power and authority which determine the limits of what is "legal". He compares the spontaneous uprising of the Russians in December 1905, not with the "planned" uprisings of the Germans in 1849 and of the French in 1871, but with the planned growth of the German trade unions. He compares the spontaneous and unsuccessful general strike of the Russians in December 1905, not with the "planned" and unsuccessful<"p350"> general strike of the Belgians in 1902,[149] but with the planned speeches of Bebel or Vandervelde in the Reichstag.

    That is why Larin fails to understand the historic progress of the mass struggle of the proletariat signalised by the strike in October 1905 and the uprising in December 1905. Whereas the retrogression of the Russian revolution (temporary, on

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his own admission) expressed in the necessity of preparatory activity within the limits of the law (trade unions, elections, etc.) he elevates into progress from spontaneous to planned activity, from moods to calculation, etc.

    That is why, in place of the moral drawn by a revolutionary Marxist (that instead of a spontaneous political strike we must have a planned political strike, instead of a spontaneous uprising we must have a planned uprising), we find the moral drawn by a renegade-Cadet (instead of the "folly of spontaneity" -- strikes and uprisings -- we must have systematic submission to the Stolypin laws and a planned deal with the Black-Hundred monarchy).

    No, Comrade Larin, if you had mastered the spirit of Marxism, and not merely its language, you would know the difference between revolutionary dialectical materialism and the opportunism of "objective" historians. Recall, for instance, what Marx said about Proudhon. A Marxist does not renounce the struggle within the limits of the law, peaceful parliamentarism and "planned" compliance with the limits of historical activity set by the Bismarcks and the Bennigsens, the Stolypins and the Milyukovs. But a Marxist, while utilising every field, even a reactionary one, for the fight for the revolution, does not stoop to glorifying reaction, does not forget to fight for the best possible field of activity. Therefore, the Marxist is the first to foresee the approach of a revolutionary period, and already begins to rouse the people and to sound the tocsin while the philistines are still wrapt in the slavish slumber of loyal subjects. The Marxist is therefore the first to take the path of direct revolutionary struggle, marching straight to battle and exposing the illusions of conciliation cherished by all kinds of social and political vacillators. Therefore, the Marxist is the last to leave the path of directly revolutionary struggle, he leaves it only when all possibilities have been exhausted, when there is not a shadow of hope for a shorter way, when the basis for an appeal to prepare for mass strikes, an uprising, etc., is obviously disappearing. Therefore, a Marxist treats with contempt the innumerable renegades of the revolution who shout to him: We are more "progressive" than you, we were the first to renounce the revolution! We were the first to "submit" to the monarchist constitution!

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    One of two things, Comrade Larin. Do you believe that there is already no basis for an uprising or for revolution in the narrow sense of the word? If you do, say so openly and prove it in the Marxist way, by an economic analysis, by an appraisal of the political strivings of the various classes, by an analysis of the significance of the different ideological trends. You have proved it? In that case, we declare that all talk about an uprising is mere phrase-mongering. In that case we shall say: what we had was not a great revolution, but a great bark without a bite. Workers! the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie (including the peasants) have betrayed and forsaken you. But, on the basis they have created in spite of our efforts, we shall work persistently, patiently, and consistently for a socialist revolution, which will not be so half-hearted and wretched, so rich in words and poor in deeds as the bourgeois revolution!

    Or do you really believe what you say, Comrade Larin? Do you believe that the tide of revolution is rising, that the minor struggles and the sullen discontent will in a matter of two or three years create a new discontented army and a new "serious test"; that "unrest in the countryside cannot subside"? If so, then you must admit that the "outbursts" express the strength of the people's anger, and not the strength of backward barbarism -- that it is our duty to transform a spontaneous uprising into a planned uprising, and to work persistently and stubbornly for many months, perhaps years, to bring this about, and not to renounce an uprising, as all the Judases are doing.

    Your present position, however, Comrade Larin, is precisely one of "melancholy and despondency", of "hesitant and timid thinking", of putting the blame for your own passivity on our revolution.

    This, and this alone, is implied by your jubilant declaration that the boycott was a mistake. It is a short-sighted and vulgar jubilation. If it is "progressive" to renounce the boycott, then the most progressive people of all are the Right wing Cadets of Russkiye Vedomosti, who fought against the boycott of the Bulygin Duma and called on the students "to go on with their studies and not meddle with rebellion". We do not envy this renegade progressiveness. We think that to say that it was a "mistake" to boycott the Witte

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Duma (which three or four months before its convocation nobody believed would be convened) and to be silent about the mistake of those who called for participation in the Bulygin Duma, means substituting for the materialism of a revolutionary fighter the "objectivism" of a professor who is cringing to reaction. We think that the position of those who were the last to enter the Duma, to take the roundabout way, after trying really everything on the direct path of struggle, is better than that of those who were the first to call for entering the Bulygin Duma on the eve of the popular uprising which swept it away.

    This Cadet phrase about the boycott having been a mistake is particularly unpardonable in Larin's case since he truthfully relates that the Mensheviks "invented all kinds of shrewd and cunning tricks, ranging from the elective principle and the Zemstvo campaign to uniting the Party by participating in the elections with the object of boycotting the Duma " (57). The Mensheviks called upon the workers to elect members to the Duma, although they themselves did not believe that it was right to go into the Duma. Were not the tactics of those more correct, who, not believing this, boycotted the Duma; who declared that to call the Duma a "power" (as the Mensheviks called it in their resolution at the Unity Congress, before Muromtsev did so) meant deceiving the people; who entered the Duma only after the bourgeoisie had deserted the direct path of boycott and compelled us to take a circuitous route, though not for the same purpose, and not in the same way, as the Cadets? <"s3">


    The contrast which Larin draws between an apparatus party and a vanguard-party, or, in other words, between a party of fighters against the police and a party of class-conscious political fighters, seems profound and permeated with the "pure proletarian" spirit. In actual fact, however,<"p353"> it is the very same intellectualist opportunism as the analogous contrast drawn in 1899-1901 by the supporters of Rabochaya Mysl and the Akimovites.[150]

    On the one hand, when there are objective conditions for a direct revolutionary onslaught by the masses, the

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Party's supreme political task is "to serve the spontaneous movement". To contrast such revolutionary work with "politics" is to reduce politics to chicanery. It means exalting political action in the Duma above the political action of the masses in October and December; in other words, it means abandoning the proletarian revolutionary standpoint for that of intellectualist opportunism.

    Every form of struggle requires a corresponding technique and a corresponding apparatus. When objective conditions make the parliamentary struggle the principal form of struggle, the features of the apparatus for parliamentary struggle inevitably become more marked in the Party. When, on the other hand, objective conditions give rise to a struggle of the masses in the form of mass political strikes and uprisings, the party of the proletariat must have an "apparatus" to "serve" these forms of struggle, and, of course, this must be a special "apparatus", not resembling the parliamentary one. An organised party of the proletariat which admitted that the conditions existed for popular uprisings and yet failed to set up the necessary apparatus would be a party of intellectualist chatterboxes; the workers would abandon it and go over to anarchism, bourgeois revolutionism, etc.

    On the other hand, the composition of the politically guiding vanguard of every class, the proletariat included, also depends both on the position of this class and on the principal form of its struggle. Larin complains, for example, that young workers predominate in our Party, that we have few married workers, and that they leave the Party. This complaint of a Russian opportunist reminds me of a passage in one of Engels's works (I think it is in The Housing Question, Zur Wohnungsfrage ). Retorting to some fatuous bourgeois professor, a German Cadet, Engels wrote: is it not natural that youth should predominate in our Party, the revolutionary party? We are the party of the future, and the future belongs to the youth. We are a party of innovators, and it is always the youth that most eagerly follows the innovators. We are a party that is waging a self-sacrificing struggle against the old rottenness, and youth is always the first to undertake a self-sacrificing struggle.

    No, let us leave it to the Cadets to collect the "tired" old men of thirty, revolutionaries who have "grown wise", and

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renegades from Social-Democracy. We shall always be a party of the youth of the advanced class!

    Larin himself blurts out a frank admission whyheregrets the loss of the married men who are tired of the struggle. If we were to collect a good number of these tired men into the Party, that would make it "somewhat sluggish, putting a brake on political adventures" (p. 18).

    Now, that's better, good Larin! Why dissemble and deceive yourself. What you want is not a vanguard-party, but a rearguard-party, so that it will be rather more sluggish. You should have said so frankly.

    ". . . Putting a brake on political adventures. . . ." Revolutions have been defeated in Europe too; there were the June days of 1848 and the May days of 1871; but there has never been a Social-Democrat or a Communist who thought it proper to declare the action of the masses in a revolution to be an "adventure". This became possible when among revolutionary Marxists there were enrolled (not for long, we hope) spineless, craven Russian philistines, called the "intelligentsia", if you please, who have no confidence in themselves and become despondent at every turn of events towards reaction.

    ". . . Putting a brake on adventures!" If that is so, then the first adventurer is Larin himself; for he calls "minor struggles" the course most advantageous to the revolution; he is trying to make the masses believe that the tide of revolution is rising, that in two or three years the army will be filled with discontented peasants, and that the "old regime will collapse" at "the first serious test"!

    But Larin is an adventurer in another, much worse and pettier sense. He advocates a labour congress and a "non-party party" (his expressionl). Instead of the Social-Democratic Party he wants an "All-Russian Labour Party" -- "labour", because it must include the petty-bourgeois revolutionaries, the Socialist-Revolutionaries,<"p355"> the Polish Socialist Party, the Byelorussian Hromada,[151] etc.

    Larin is an admirer of Axelrod. But he has done him a disservice. He has so exalted Axelrod's "youthful energy", his "true party courage" in fighting for a labour congress, he has embraced him so fervently, that . . . he has smothered him in his embraces! Axelrod's nebulous "idea" of a labour

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congress has been killed by a naïve and truthful, practical party worker who has gone and blurted out everything that should have been concealed for successful advocacy of a labour congress. A labour congress means "taking down the signboard" (p. 20 in Larin's pamphlet, for whom Social Democracy is a mere signboard); it means merging with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the trade unions.

    Quite right, Comrade Larin! Thank you at least for speaking the truth! The labour congress really does mean all that. It would lead to that even against the wish of its conveners. And it is just for that reason that a labour congress now would be a petty opportunist adventure. Petty -- for there is no broad idea underlying it, nothing but the weariness of intellectuals who are tired of the persistent struggle for Marxism. Opportunist -- for the same reason, and also because thousands of petty bourgeois of far from settled opinions would be admitted into the labour party. An adventure -- for under present conditions such an attempt will bring about, not peace or constructive work, or collaboration between the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Social-Democrats -- to whom Larin kindly assigns the role of "propagandist societies within a broad party" (p. 40) -- but only endless aggravation of strife, dissension, splits, ideological confusion, and actual disorganisation.

    It is one thing to predict that the Socialist-Revolutionary "Centre" must come over to the Social-Democrats when the Popular Socialists and Maximalists drop out*; it is a different thing to climb after an apple which is only in process of ripening, but is not yet ripe. You will either break your neck, my dear sir, or upset your stomach with sour fruit.

    Larin bases his arguments on "Belgium", as did, in 1899, R. M. (the editor of Rabochaya Mysl ) and Mr. Prokopovich (when he was going through the "spontaneous outbursts" of a Social-Democrat and had not yet "grown wise" sufficiently to become a "systematically acting" Cadet). Larin's booklet has a neat appendix in the shape of a neat translation of the Rules of the Belgian Labour Party! But our good La- <"fnp356">

    * See pp. 199-200 of this volume. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's article "Socialist-Revolutionary Mensheviks". -- DJR]

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rin forgot to "translate" to Russia the industrial conditions and history of Belgium. After a series of bourgeois revolutions, after decades of struggle against Proudhon's petty-bourgeois quasi-socialism, and with the enormous development of industrial capitalism, possibly the highest in the world, the labour congress and the labour party in Belgium marked a transition from non-proletarian socialism to proletarian socialism. In Russia, at the height of a bourgeois revolution, which is inevitably breeding petty-bourgeois ideas and petty-bourgeois ideologists, and with growing "Trudovik" trends among closely related sections of the peasantry and the proletariat, with a Social-Democratic Labour Party that has a history of nearly one decade, a labour congress is a badly conceived invention, and fusion with the Socialist-Revolutionaries (who knows, there may be 30,000 of them, or perhaps (60,000, says Larin artlessly) is an intellectual's whimsy.

    Yes, history can be ironic! For years the Mensheviks have been trumpeting about the close connection between the Bolsheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries. And now the Bolsheviks reject a labour congress precisely because it would obscure the difference in the points of view of the proletarians and<"p357"> the small proprietors (see the resolution of the St. Petersburg Committee[152] in Proletary, No. 3). And the Mensheviks stand for merging with the Socialist-Revolutionaries in connection with the advocacy of a labour congress. This is unique!

    "I do not want to dissolve the party in the class," pleads Larin. "I only want to unite the vanguard, 900,000 out of nine million" (pp. 17 and 49).

    Let us take the official factory returns for 1903. The total number of factory workers was 1,640,406. Of these, 797,997 were in factories employing over 500 workers each, and 1,261,363 in factories employing over 100 workers each. The number of workers in the largest factories (800,000) is only a little smaller than the figure Larin gives for the workers' party united with the Socialist-Revolutionaries!

    Thus, although we already have from 150,000 to 170,000 members in our Social-Democratic Party, and notwithstand ing the 800,000 workers employed in large factories, the workers of big mining enterprises (not included in this total)

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and the multitude of purely proletarian elements employed in trade, agriculture, transport, etc., Larin has no hope that we in Russia can soon win for Social-Democracy 900,000 proletarians as Party members?? Monstrous, but true.

    But Larin's lack of faith is only another example of the intellectual's timid thinking.

    We are quite sure that this object can be attained. As a counterblast to the adventure of a "labour congress" and a "non-party party" we put forward the slogan: for a fivefold and tenfold increase of our Social-Democratic Party, only let it consist mainly and almost exclusively of purely proletarian elements, and let it be achieved solely under the banner of revolutionary Marxism.[*]

    Now, after a year of the great revolution, when all sorts of parties are growing by leaps and bounds, the proletariat is becoming an independent party more rapidly than ever. The Duma elections will assist this process (if we do not enter into opportunist blocs with the Cadets, of course). The treachery of the bourgeoisie in general, and of the petty bourgeoisie in particular (the Popular Socialists ), will strengthen the revolutionary Social-Democratic Party.

    We shall reach Larin's "ideal" (900,000 Party members), and even exceed it, by hard work on the present lines, and not by adventures. It is certainly necessary now to enlarge the Party with the aid of proletarian elements. It is abnormal that we should have only 6,000 Party members in St. Petersburg (in St. Petersburg Gubernia there are 81,000 workers in factories employing 500 workers and over; in all, 150,000 workers); that in the Central Industrial Region we should have only 20,000 Party members (377,000 workers in factories employing 500 and over; in all, 562,000 workers). <"fnp358">

    * It would be unwise to take the trade unions into the Party, as Larin proposes. This would only restrict the working-class movement and narrow its base. We shall always be able to unite a far greater number of workers for the struggle against the employers than for support of Social-Democratic policy. Therefore (in spite of Larin's wrong assertion that the Bolsheviks have declared against non-party trade unions), we stand for non-party trade unions, as the author of the "Jacobin" (Jacobin -- in the opinion of the opportunists) pamphlet What Is To Be Done? advocated as far back as 1902. (See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 347-529. -- Ed.)

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We must learn to recruit[*] five times and ten times as many workers for the Party in such centres. In this respect Larin is certainly quite right. But we must not fall a prey to intellectualist cowardice or intellectualist hysteria. We shall achieve our aim by following our own Social-Democratic path, without plunging into adventures. <"s4">


    The only "gratifying feature" in Comrade Larin's pamphlet is his fervent protest against blocs with the Cadets. In another article in this issue the reader will find detailed quotations on this subject, with a description of all the vacillations of Menshevism on this important question.

    What interests us here, however, is the general description of Menshevism given by such an "authoritative" witness as the Menshevik Larin. It is in reference to blocs with the Cadets that he protests against "vulgarised, bureaucratic, Menshevism ". "Bureaucratic Menshevism", he writes, is capable of desiring a "suicidal alliance with the opponents of Social-Democracy in the bourgeois camp". We do not know whether Larin will be able to show more determination than Martov in defending his views against Plekhanov. However, Larin rebels against "formal" and "bureaucratic" Menshevism on other matters besides blocs with the Cadets. For example, he says of Menshevism, that "everything obsolescent acquires a bureaucratic stamp"!! (p. 65). Menshevism is becoming outlived, making way for "European realism". "Hence the eternal melancholy, half-heartedness and hesitancy of Menshevism" (p. 62). Concerning the talk about a labour congress he writes: "All this talk bears the impress of a certain reticence, timid thinking, perhaps mere hesitation to utter aloud the thoughts that have matured within" (p. 6), etc. <"fnp359">

    * We say "learn to recruit", for the number of Social-Democratic workers in such centres is undoubtedly many times the number of Party members. We suffer from routine, we must fight against it. We must learn to form, where necessary, lose Organisationen -- looser broader and more accessible proletarian organisations. Our slogan is for a larger Social-Democratic Labour Party, against a non-party labour congress and a non-party party!

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    We already know the underlying basis of this crisis of Menshevism, why it has degenerated into bureaucratism[*]: it is the petty-bourgeois intellectual's lack of confidence in the possibility of further revolutionary struggle, his fear to admit that the revolution is over, that the reaction has won a decisive victory. "Menshevism was only an instinctive, semi-spontaneous yearning for a party," says Larin. We say: Menshevism is the spontaneous yearning of the intellectual for a truncated constitution and peaceful legality. Menshevism is an allegedly objective apologia for reaction, emanating from the revolutionary camp. <"p360">

    From the very beginning, as early as in the Geneva news paper Vperyod [153] (January-March 1905) and in the pamphlet Two Tactics [**] (July 1905), the Bolsheviks presented the question in a totally different way. Being perfectly clear about the contradictory nature of the interests and tasks of the various classes in the bourgeois revolution, they stated openly at the time: It is quite possible that the Russian revolution will end in an abortive constitution. As the supporters and ideologists of the revolutionary proletariat, we shall do our duty to the last -- we shall keep to our revolutionary slogans despite the treachery and baseness of the liberals, despite the vacillation, timidity and hesitancy displayed by the petty bourgeois -- we shall make the utmost use of all revolutionary possibilities -- we shall take pride in the fact that <"fnp360">

    * Another instance of the irony of history! Ever since 1903 the Mensheviks have been shouting about the "formalism" and "bureaucratism" of the Bolsheviks. Since then they have always been in possession of the "bureaucratic" and "formal" prerogatives of the Party as a whole. And now a Menshevik confirms that Menshevism has degenerated into bureaucratism. The Bolsheviks could not have wished for a better rehabilitation of themselves. Larin is not looking for the bureaucratism of Menshevism where in fact it is rooted. The source of this bureaucratism is that opportunism which under the guise of "Europeanism" is being instilled into the Mensheviks by Axelrod and Plekhanov. There is no trace of "Europeanism" in the reflected ideology and habits of the Swiss petty bourgeois. Petty-bourgeois Switzerland is the servants' hall of the real Europe, the Europe of revolutionary traditions and intense class struggle of the broad masses. Bureaucratism was fully revealed in Plekhanov's presentation of the question of a labour congress (a labour congress versus a Party congress), against which Larin is so fervently and sincerely protesting.
    ** See present edition, Vol. 9, pp. 15-140. --Ed.

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we were the first to take the path of an uprising and will be the last to abandon it, if this path in fact becomes, impossible. At the present moment we are far from admitting that all the revolutionary possibilities and prospects have been exhausted. We openly and straightforwardly advocate an uprising, and stubborn, persistent and long preparation for it.

    And when we realise that the revolution is over, we shall say so openly and straightforwardly. We shall then, in full view of the whole people, delete from our platform all our direct revolutionary slogans (such as the constituent assembly). We shall not deceive ourselves and others by Jesuitical sophistries (such as Plekhanov's "a Duma with full power" for the Cadets ).[*] We shall not justify reaction and call reactionary constitutionalism a basis for sound realism. We shall say and prove to the proletariat that the treachery of the bourgeoisie and the vacillation of the small proprietors have killed the bourgeois revolution, and that the proletariat itself will now prepare for and carry out a new, socialist revolution. And therefore, the revolution having subsided, i.e., the bourgeoisie having utterly betrayed it, we shall under no circumstances agree to any blocs -- not only with the opportunist, but even with the revolutionary bourgeoisie -- for the decline of the revolution would convert bourgeois revolutionism into empty phrase-mongering.

    That is why we are not in the least perturbed by the angry words which Larin hurls at us in such abundance, when he shouts that Bolshevism is approaching a crisis, that it is played out, that we have always trailed behind the Mensheviks, etc. All these pinpricks only evoke a condescending smile.

    Individuals have left and will leave the Bolsheviks, but there cannot be any crisis in our trend. The fact is that right from the very beginning we declared (see One Step Forward, Two Steps Back **): we are not creating a special "Bolshevik" trend, always and everywhere we merely uphold the point of view of revolutionary Social-Democracy. And right up to the social revolution there will inevitably always be an <"fnp361">

    * See p. 333 of this volume. --Ed.
    ** See present edition, Vol. 7, pp. 203-425. --Ed.

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opportunist wing and a revolutionary wing of Social-Democracy.

    A cursory glance at the history of "Bolshevism" is sufficient to convince anyone of that.

    1903-04. The Mensheviks advocate democracy in organisation. The Bolsheviks call this intellectualist phrase-mongering, as long as the Party does not come out openly.<"p362"> In the Geneva pamphlet (1905), the Menshevik who signed himself "A Worker "[154] admits that in fact there was no democracy among the Mensheviks. The Menshevik Larin admits that their "talk about the elective principle" was "sheer invention", an attempt to "deceive history", and that, in fact, in the Menshevik "St. Petersburg group there was no elective principle even as late as the autumn of 1905" (p. 62). And immediately after the October Revolution the Bolsheviks were the first<"p362a"> to announce, in Novaya Zhizn,[155] the actual introduction of democracy in the Party.[*]

    End of 1904. The Zemstvo campaign. The Mensheviks trail behind the liberals. The Bolsheviks (in spite of the frequently circulated fable to the contrary) do not reject "good demonstrations" before the Zemstvo councillors, but they reject the "poor arguments of the intellectuals,[**] who said that there were two contending forces in the arena (the tsar and the liberals), and that demonstrations before the Zemstvo councillors were a higher type of demonstration. Now the Menshevik Larin admits that the Zemstvo campaign was sheer invention" (p. 62), that it was a "shrewd and cunning trick" (p. 57).

    Beginning of 1905. The Bolsheviks openly and straight forwardly raise the question of an uprising and of preparing for it. In a resolution adopted at the Third Congress they predict the combination of the strike with an uprising. The Mensheviks are evasive and try to wriggle out of the tasks of an uprising; they talk about arming the masses with the fervid desire to arm themselves. <"fnp362">

    * See present edition, Vol. 10, pp. 29-39. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "The Reorganisation of the Party". -- DJR]
    ** The Geneva Vperyod, No. 1, (January 1905), contained a feuilleton which criticised the "plan of a Zemstvo campaign"; it was entitled "Good Demonstrations of Proletarians and Poor Arguments of Certain Intellectuals". (See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 29-34. --Ed.)

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    August-September 1905. The Mensheviks (Parvus in the new Iskra ) call for participation in the Bulygin Duma. The Bolsheviks call for an active boycott of this Duma, for direct advocacy of an uprising.

    October-December 1905. The popular struggle in the form of strikes and insurrection sweeps away the Bulygin Duma. The Menshevik Larin admits in a written declaration at the Unity Congress that when the tide of the revolution was at its height the Mensheviks acted like Bolsheviks. In the rudimentary bodies of the provisional government we, the Social-Democrats, sat side by side with the revolutionary bourgeoisie.

    Beginning of 1906. The Menshenks are desponent. They have no faith in the Duma and no faith in the revolution. They appeal for participation in the Duma elections in order to boycott the Duma (Larin, p. 57). The Bolsheviks do their duty as revolutionaries, do their utmost to achieve the boycott of the Second Duma, in which nobody in revolutionary circles had any confidence.

    May-June 1906. The Duma campaign. The boycott has failed owing to the treachery of the bourgeoisie. The Bolsheviks conduct their revolutionary work on new, though worse ground. During the Duma period the whole people see still more clearly the difference between our tactics, the tactics of the revolutionary Social-Democrats, and opportunism: criticism of the Cadets in the Duma, the struggle to free the Trudoviks from Cadet influence, criticism of parliamentary illusions, advocacy of a revolutionary rapprochement among the Left groups in the Duma.

    July 1906. The dissolution of the Duma. The Mensheviks lose their heads, declare for an immediate demonstration strike and partial actions. The Bolsheviks protest. Larin, referring to this, says nothing about the protest of the three members of the Central Committee which was published tor Party members only. What Larin says about this incident is not true. The Bolsheviks point out the futility of a demonstration, and advocate an uprising at a later date.* The Mensheviks, in conjunction with the revolutionary bourgeoisie, sign appeals for an uprising.

    * See pp. 128-30 of this volume. --Ed.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's The Dissolution of the Duma and the Tasks of the Proletariat . -- DJR]

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    End of 1906. The Bolsheviks realise that the treachery of the bourgeoisie makes it necessary to take a circuitous path and go into the Duma. Down with all blocs! Above all down with blocs with the Cadets! The Mensheviks are in favour of blocs.

    No, Comrade Larin, we have no need to be ashamed of this course of the struggle between the revolutionary and the opportunist wing of Russian Social-Democracy! <"NOTES">


  <"en144">[144] Draft resolution of the Bolsheviks for the Unity Congress "The Present Stage of the Democratic Revolution" (see present edition Vol. 10, pp. 150-54).  [Transcriber's Note: This is the first section of Lenin's "A Tactical Platform for the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. Draft Resoultions for the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. " -- DJR]    [p.341]

  <"en145">[145] See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 373-74.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., April 12 (25)-April 27 (May 10), 1905, section 7, "Resolution on the Armed Uprising". -- DJR]    [p.344]

  <"en146">[146] This refers to the draft resolution for the Unity Congress on an armed uprising (see present edition, Vol. 10, pp. 151-53).    [p.345]

  <"en147">[147] Narodnaya Svoboda (People's Freedom ) -- a newspaper, organ of the Cadet Party, published in St. Petersburg in December 1905.    [p.346]

  <"en148">[148] Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka -- hero of Gogol's story Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka and his Aunt, whom the author depicts as a narrow minded, complacent person interested in nothing.    [p.347]

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  <"en149">[149] The Belgian general strike was declared in April 1902 in support of the demand for universal suffrage raised in the Belgian Parliament by representatives of the Labour, Liberal and Democratic Parties. More than 300,000 workers took part in the strike- demonstrations by workers occurred throughout the country. But after Parliament had rejected the electoral reform bill and troops had fired on demonstrators, the opportunist Labour Party leadership (Vandervelde and others) capitulated and, under pressure from their "allies" in the liberal-bourgeois camp, called off the general strike. The defeat of the Belgian working class in April 1902 was a lesson to the international labour movement. "The socialist proletariat," wrote Iskra in No. 21 of June 1, 1902, "will see the practical results that follow from opportunist tactics which sacrifice revolutionary principles in the hope of quick successes. The proletariat will have yet another proof that it will not be able to achieve its aim by any of the methods of political pressure used against the enemy unless it is prepared to carry these methods to their logical conclusion."    [p.350]

  <"en150">[150] Rabochaya Mysl -- an Economist group which published the newspaper Rabochaya Mysl (Workers' Thought ). It appeared from October 1897 to December 1902, edited by K. M. Takhtarev and others.
    The group advocated frankly opportunist views. It opposed the political struggle of the working class and restricted the tasks of the working-class movement to "the interests of the moment", to demands for individual partial reforms, chiefly of an economic nature. Glorifying "spontaneity" in the working-class movement, it opposed the creation of an independent proletarian party and belittled the importance of revolutionary theory and class-consciousness, maintaining that socialist ideology could grow out of the spontaneous movement.
    The views of the Rabochaya Mysl group, as a Russian variety of international opportunism, were criticised by Lenin in the article "A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy", in the book What Is To Be Done? (see present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 255-85 and Vol. 5, pp. 347-465), and also in his Iskra articles.
    Akimovites -- supporters of one of the representatives of "Economism", the extreme opportunist V. P. Akimov (Makhnovets).    [p.353]

  <"en151">[151] The Byelorussian Socialist Hromada -- a title assumed by a petty-bourgeois, nationalist organisation of the Narodnik type which arose in 1902.    [p.355]

  <"en152">[152] Lenin is referring to the resolution on a labour congress adopted at a meeting of workers from various districts of St. Petersburg in the beginning of September 1906. The meeting was convened by the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.    [p.357]

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  <"en153">[153] Vperyod (Forward ) -- an illegal Bolshevik newspaper published in Geneva from December 22, 1904 (January 4, 1905) to May 5 (18), 1905. Eighteen numbers appeared. The newspaper's organiser, editor and guiding spirit was V. I. Lenin. Other members of the editorial board were V. V. Vorovsky, M. S. Olminsky, and A. V. Lunacharsky.
    The outstanding part played by Vperyod in combating Menshevism, re-establishing the Party principles and formulating and elucidating the issues posed by the rising revolution was acknowledged in a special resolution of the Third Party Congress, which recorded a vote of thanks to the editorial board.    [p.360]

  <"en154">[154] Lenin is referring to the pamphlet Workers and Intellectuals in Our Organisations, which appeared under the pseudonym "Rabochy" ("Worker") in Geneva in 1904 with a preface by P. B. Axelrod. The author of the pamphlet opposed Lenin's organisational plan for building the Party but was compelled to admit that the "democratism" of the Mensheviks amounted actually to a struggle for leading positions in the Party. A detailed characterisation of the pamphlet was given by Lenin in his article "Fine Words Butter No Parsnips". "The pamphlet shows admirably how the knights of the 'fine phrase' are exposed by their own followers," wrote Lenin. (See present edition, Vol. 8, p. 58.)    [p.362]

  <"en155">[155] Novaya Zhizn (New Life ) -- the first legal Bolshevik newspaper, published in St. Petersburg as a daily from October 27 (November 9) to December 3 (16), 1905. On his return to St. Petersburg from emigration in early November Lenin took over the editorship. Novaya Zhizn was actually the Central Organ of the R.S.D.L.P. Closely associated with the paper were V. V. Vorovsky, M. S. Olminsky, A. V. Lunacharsky and others. Maxim Gorky contributed many articles and gave the paper considerable financial assistance.
    Lenin's first article "The Reorganisation of the Party" appeared in Novaya Zhizn, No. 9, November 10 (23), 1905. Then, over a dozen other articles of V. I. Lenin's were printed. The newspaper attained a daily circulation of about 80,000. It suffered continual persecution, 15 issues out of 27 were confiscated and destroyed. After No. 27 of December 2 (15), Novaya Zhizn was closed down by the government. The last issue, No. 28, appeared illegally.    [p.362]