The Hysterics of the Defeated

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V. I. Lenin



Proletary, No. 23,
October 31 (18), 1905

Published according to
the text in Proletary
as verified against
the manuscript

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972

First printing 1962
Second printing 1965
Third printing 1972

Vol. 9, pp. 405-07.

Translated from the Russian by
Abraham Fineberg and Julius Katzer
Edited by George Hanna

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

page 405


    Our article, "The First Results of the Political Alignment", had already been written when we received No. 112 of Iskra, which contains a sort of overwrought, spiteful, tearful and fuming article full of conceits, entitled "The Fruits of Parochialism". What else can you call this article but a fit of hysterics. It is quite impossible to discern even the shadow of reasoning in this hysterical shriek. What has parochialism to do with it, dear Iskra comrades, when you yourselves, of your own free will, attended the Conference of the various Social-Democratic parties and organisations in Russia? Just give the matter a little thought, if you have not entirely lost the capacity to think; give it at least some thought when your fit of hysterics is over! Surely if you consented to attend the Conference, if your delegate was there, that means that you yourselves regarded this Conference as a serious matter, a Party matter of the utmost importance to the proletariat. You are only discrediting yourselves for good and all in the eyes of intelligent workers when you start fulminating after being defeated at a Conference you yourselves acknowledged as serious and necessary by your voluntary participation!

    You are displeased with the fact that the Conference, in your opinion, condemned your tactics too sharply, by calling participation in the Duma treason to the cause of liberty? But were you not aware, dear Iskra comrades, that you were going to attend a Conference together with the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P., and that Proletary, organ of this Central Committee, has for ever so long, both in pamphlets and in articles, been showing up your transformation

page 406

into toadies of the monarchist liberal party? You were perfectly well aware of that, dear Iskra comrades, and if you are now infuriated beyond all reason, we are really unable to help you. After all, it is an inescapable and indisputable fact that of all the illegal parties, organisations, tendencies and press organs of all the peoples of Russia, only you have remained in the company of Osvobozhdeniye. It is this fact that constitutes the severest indictment against you, an indictment so severe that history has rarely known its equal; yet you imagined that the words "treason to the cause of liberty" were the source of this severity!

    You have lost your head so much that after your defeat at the Conference you have raised a hullabaloo about the harmfulness of federalism in organisation, such as is cherished by the Bund and other national Social-Democratic groups. How unwise this is of you, dear Iskra comrades, for you are thereby only stressing the gravity of your defeat. And, indeed, just think, dear Iskra comrades, who is it that for two years has been advocating organisational vagueness and amorphousness, the principles of compromise and decentralisation? You yourselves, the new-Iskrists. And it was the federalists of the Bund and of the Lettish and Polish Social-Democratic Labour Parties who at the time played up in the press all your disorganising catchwords against the so-called excesses of centralism, and so on and so forth. And, it is likewise a fact, an inescapable and indisputable fact, that all the federalists of the above-mentioned parties wrote and published articles in the spirit of the Minority! Just see, dear Iskra comrades, how inappropriately you have brought up the subject of federalism: you have thereby stressed the fact that your erstwhile well-wishers of the Social-Democratic Bund and the Lettish and Polish parties were forced to desert you, being unable to put up with the utter banality of your Duma tactics! No, dear Iskra comrades, if you just think matters over, after calming down, you will yourselves see what is obvious to all -- it is not the "Majority" that has come over to federalism, but the Bund and the Lettish and Polish Social-Democrats who, influenced by the objective logic of the revolutionary events, have arrived at a standpoint that has always been upheld by the "Majority".

page 407

    Of course, dear Iskra comrades, you have sustained a telling defeat. That, however, is not due to any spiteful machinations on the part of the Majority or the Polish Social-Democrats, etc., but rather to the hopeless muddle that manifested itself already in the resolutions on tactics adopted by the All-Russia Conference of Mensheviks. So long as you stand on the basis of these resolutions, you will inevitably find yourselves the "sole companion " of Osvobozhdeniye, against all Social-Democrats and even against all revolutionary democrats.