Those Who Would Liquidate Us

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V. I. Lenin



Mysl, Nos. 2 and 3,
January and February 1911
Signed: V. Ilyin

Published according to
the text in the journal Mysl

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1968

First printing 1963
Second printing 1968

Vol. 17, pp. 60-81.

Translated from the Russian by Dora Cox
Edited by George Hanna

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

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    We sometimes come across literary efforts whose only significance lies in their Herostratean nature. A most ordinary literary work, as, for instance, Eduard Bernstein's well-known The Premises of Socialism, assumes outstanding political significance and becomes the manifesto of a trend amongst Marxists, although it departs from Marxism all along the line. Similar outstanding significance, by reason of their Herostratean nature, undoubtedly attaches to Mr Potresov 's article on trivialities in last year's February issue of Nasha Zarya, and V. Bazarov's article in reply to it in the April Nasha Zarya. To be sure, the questions discussed in these articles are far from being so profound or of such wide scope, and have not the same international significance, as the questions raised by Bernstein (or, rather, which he put forward after the bourgeoisie had already done so), but for us Russians, in the period of 1908-9-10-?, these are questions of tremendous and cardinal importance. That is why Mr. Potresov's and V. Bazarov's articles are not out of date, and it is necessary, it is our duty, to deal with them.



Mr. Potresov, who is fond of artificial, flowery and laboured expressions, devotes his article to "the contemporary drama of our social and political trends". Actually, there is not the slightest trace of the dramatic in what he says or can say, of the post-revolutionary evolution of liberalism, Narodism and Marxism, which he took it upon himself to

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discuss. But you cannot get away from the comic in Mr. Potresov's reflections.

    "It is precisely liberalism as an ideological trend," writes Mr. Potresov, "that presents a picture of the greatest degeneration and the greatest helplessness. We need only consider the widening gulf between practical liberalism and theorising liberalism" -- between the "empiricism" of Milyukov's Rech and the theories of Vekhi.

    Tut, tut, my dear sir! The gulf is widening between what you and semi-liberals like you said and thought of the Cadets in 1905-6-7 and what you are compelled to admit, stuttering and contradicting yourself, in 1909-10. The contradiction between the "empiricism"<"p61"> of the practical liberals and the theories of gentlemen à la Struve was fully apparent even before 1905. Just recall how the Osvobozhdeniye [45] of those days blundered in literally every one of its attempts at "theorising". Since you are now beginning to put two and two together, and find that liberalism "seems" to be "broken up" (this is yet another of your verbal tricks, an empty phrase, for Vekhi has not broken with Rech, or vice versa; they have been, are, and will go on living in perfect harmony with each other), that it is "sterile", "suspended in mid-air", and represents but the "least stable" (sic !) "section of bourgeois democrats", who are "not bad as voters", etc. -- your cries about the "drama" of liberalism merely signify the tragicomedy of the collapse of your illusions. It is not at the present time, not during the three years 1908-10, but in the preceding three-year period that the liberals "seemed" to be the least stable section of bourgeois democrats. The "least stable" are those quasi-socialists who serve mustard to the public after supper. The distinguishing feature of the previous three-year period (insofar as the question examined by Mr. Potresov is concerned) was liberalism "suspended in mid-air", "sterile", "voting", etc., liberalism. At that time it was the political duty of the day to recognise the nature of liberalism for what it was; it was the urgent duty, not only of socialists, but also of consistent democrats, to warn the masses of this. March 1906, not February 1910 -- that was the time when it was important to sound the warning that the liberalism of the Cadets was suspended in mid-air, that it was sterile, that the objective

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conditions reduced it to nothingness, to the farce of being "not bad as voters"; that the victories of the Cadets represented an unstable zigzag between the "serious" constitutionalism (read: sham constitutionalism) of the Shipovs or Guchkovs and the struggle for democracy waged by those elements that were not suspended in mid-air and did not confine themselves to the fond<"p62"> contemplation of ballots. Just call to mind, my dear sir, who it was that spoke the truth about the liberals at the proper time, in March 1906.[46]

    The distinguishing feature, the peculiar characteristic of the three-year period (1908-10) under discussion is by no means the "sterility" of liberalism "suspended in mid-air", etc. Quite the contrary. Nothing has changed in the class impotence of the liberals, in their dread of democracy, and in their political inanity; but this impotence reached its height at a time when there were opportunities to display strength, when conditions made it possible for the liberals to hold full sway in at least a certain field of action. Thus, for instance, at the time the Cadets had a majority in the First Duma, they were in a position to use their majority either to serve democracy or to hamper the cause of democracy, to render assistance to democracy (even if only in such a small matter, as, let us say, the organisation of local land committees) or to stab democracy in the back. And that period was characterised by the Cadets being "suspended in mid-air",<"p62a"> and those who were "not bad as voters" proving to be nothing but inventors of instructions for the subsequent Octobrist[47] Duma.

    In the three-year period that followed, the Cadets, while remaining true to themselves, were less "suspended in mid air" than before. You, Mr. Potresov, resemble that hero of popular lore who loudly voices his wishes and opinions at inappropriate times. The 1909 Vekhi group is less "suspended in mid-air" than Muromtsev was in 1906, for it is of real use and renders practical service to the class,which represents a great power in Russia's national economy, namely, the landowners and capitalists. The Vekhi group helps these worthy gentlemen collect an armoury of weapons for their ideological and political struggle against democracy and socialism. This is something that cannot be destroyed by dissolutions of the Duma or, in general, by any political dis-

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turbances occurring under the existing social and economic system. As long as the clasc of landed proprietors and capitalists exists, their hack journalists, the Izgoyevs, Struves, Franks and Co., will also exist. As far as the "work" of the and, in general, of the Cadets in the First Duma is concerned, it could be "destroyed" by the dissolution of the Duma (for, in point of fact, they did not do any work; they only indulged in words which, far from serving the people, corrupted them).

    The Cadets in the Third Duma are the same party, with the same ideology, the same policy, and to a large degree even the same people, as those in the First Duma. And that is precisely why the Cadets in the Third Duma are less "suspended in mid-air" than they were in the First Duma. Don't you understand this, my dear Mr. Potresov? You were wrong in undertaking a discussion of "the contemporary drama of our social and political trends"! Let me tell you, in strict confidence, that in the future, too, and probably for quite some time to come, the political activity of the Cadets will not be "sterile" -- not only because of the reactionary "fecundity" of Vekhi, but also because so long as there are political minnows in the ranks of democracy, there will be food for the big fish of liberalism to thrive on. So long as there is the kind of instability in the ranks of the socialists, the kind of flabbiness among the representatives of democracy so vividly exemplified by figures like Potresov, the skill of the "empiricists" of liberalism will always prove sufficient to catch these minnows. Don't worry, Cadets: you'll have plenty to feed on so long as the Potresovs exist!



    Mr. Potresov's arguments dovetail even less when he discusses Narodism. The Cadets he calls "former democrats" and even "former liberals"; of the peasantry he says: "By entering political life, the peasantry [in Mr. Potresov's opinion, they have not yet entered political life] would usher in an entirely new chapter in history, that of peasant democracy, which would spell the end of the old, intellectual, Narodnik democracy".

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    So the Cadets are former democrats and the peasantry are future democrats. But who, then, are the present democrats? Was there no democratic, no mass democratic, movement in Russia in 1905-07? Was there none in 1908-10? Potresov resorts to "round-about" phrases, to phrases that evade the essence of the matter, in order to throw a veil over the present. The direct and plain recognition of what indubitably exists at present flies in the face of the whole liquidationist philosophy of the Potresovs, for it would mean the plain and direct recognition of the now indubitable historical fact that the Cadets never represented any more or less mass democratic movement in Russia, that they never pursued a democratic policy, whereas the peasantry, the very same "peasant millions" of whom Mr. Potresov also speaks, did and do represent this bourgeois democratic movement (with all its limitations). Mr. Potresov evades this cardinal question precisely in order to save the liquidationist philosophy. But he cannot save it!

    In trying to ignore the past and the present of the peasant democratic movement, Mr. Potresov again misses the mark when he confidently discusses the future.<"p66"> Late again, my dear sir! You yourself speak of the "possible consequences of the law of November 9"[48]; hence, you yourself admit the possibility (purely abstract, of course) of its success. But as a result of this success the "new chapter in history" may prove to be a chapter not only in the history of peasant democracy, but also in the history of peasant agrarians.

    The development of peasant farming in Russia and, consequently, of peasant land tenure and peasant politics cannot proceed along any other but capitalist lines.<"p66a"> In its essence, the agrarian programme of the Narodniks, as formulated, for instance, in the well-known Platform of the 104[49] (in the First and Second Dumas), far from contradicting this capitalist development, implies the creation of conditions for the most widespread and most rapid capitalist development. The agrarian programme now in operation, on the other hand, implies the slowest and most narrow capitalist development, one most impeded by the survivals of serfdom. Objective historical and economic conditions have not yet provided an answer to the question -- which

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of these programmes will, in the final analysis, determine the form bourgeois agrarian relations will assume in the new Russia.

    Such are the plain facts which the liquidators find it necessary to confuse.

    "In face of all the changes," writes Mr. Potresov, referring to the changes in the ranks of the intellectual, Narodnik democratic movement, "one thing has remained unchanged: so far [!] the real peasantry have not introduced any corrections of their own into intellectualist ideology with its peasant trimmings."

    This is a statement of the purest Vekhi type and it is absolutely false. In 1905, the "real" peasant masses, the rank and file themselves, acted in the open historical arena, and introduced quite a number of "corrections" into the "intellectualist ideology" of the Narodniks and the Narodnik parties. Not all of these corrections<"p67"> have been understood by the Narodniks, but the peasantry did introduce them. In 1906 and in 1907, the very "real" peasantry created the Trudovik[50] groups and the Draft Platform of the 104, thereby introducing a number of corrections, some of which even the Narodniks noted. It is generally recognised, for example, that the "real" peasantry revealed their economic aspirations, and approved private and co-operative land tenure in place of the "commune".

    The Vekhi people who are purging liberalism of democracy, systematically converting it into a servant of the money-bags, are properly performing their mission in history when they declare that the movement of 1905-07 was one of intellectuals, and assert that the real peasantry introduced no corrections of their own into the intellectualist ideology. The tragicomedy of liquidationism is its failure to notice that its assertions have been and are simply a rehash of the Vekhi ideas.



    This transformation becomes even more obvious when Mr. Potresov proceeds to discuss Marxism. The intelligentsia, he writes, ". . . by its organisation of party circles . . . overshadowed the proletariat". You cannot deny the fact that it is the bourgeoisie that has widely circulated this idea through

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Vekhi and through the entire liberal press, and has used it against the proletariat. In the essay in which he formulated this idea, Axelrod wrote that "history in a prankish mood" could provide bourgeois democracy with a leader from the Marxist school. History in a prankish mood made use of the pit which Axelrod obligingly threatened to dig for the Bolsheviks, and has put Axelrod himself in it!

    If you turn to the objective facts of history, you will find that all of them, the entire period of 1905-07, even the elections to the Second Duma (to cite as an example one of the simplest, though not one of the most important, facts), proved conclusively that "the organisation of party circles" did not "overshadow" the proletariat, but developed directly into the organisation of the parties and trade unions of the proletarian masses.

    But let us pass on to the main, or "central", point of Mr. Potresov's Herostratean effort. He claims that Marxist thought "is doping itself with the hashish of trivialities" -- the struggle against Machism and the struggle against liquidationism, "debating anything and everything . . . other than those things that constitute the nerve of a social and political trend like Marxism, anything but questions of economics and questions of politics". And what a host there is of such questions! exclaims Mr. Potresov. "How is the economic development of Russia proceeding, what realignments of forces does this development effect under the cloak of reaction, what is going on in the countryside and in the cities, what changes does this development introduce in the social composition of the working class of Russia, etc., etc? Where are the answers, or even the initial attempts at answers, to these questions, where is the economic school of Russian Marxism?"

    The answer, or at any rate, an initial attempt at an answer, is to be found in the very "hierarchy", whose existence Mr. Potresov maliciously and hypocritically denies. The development of the Russian state system during the past three centuries shows that its class character has been changing in one definite direction. The monarchy of the seventeenth century with the Boyars' Duma did not resemble the bureaucratic-aristocratic monarchy of the eighteenth century. The monarchy of the first half of the nineteenth century was

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not the same as the monarchy of 1861-1904. In the 1908-10 period a new phase was clearly outlined, marking one more step in the same direction, which may be described as the direction leading towards a bourgeois monarchy. The character of the Third Duma and the present agrarian policy are closely connected with this step. The new phase, therefore, is not an accident but represents a specific stage in the capitalist evolution of the country. This new phase does not solve the old problems, nor can it do so; consequently, since it is unable to eliminate them, it calls for the use of new methods of approach to old solutions of old problems. That is the peculiar feature of this cheerless, gloomy, difficult period, which, however, has proved to be inevitable. The particular economic and political characteristics of this period have given rise to the distinctive features of the ideological alignments in the ranks of the Marxists. Those who recognise the new methods of approach to the old solution of old problems are finding a common ground in their present joint practical tasks; although they are still divided as to how the old solutions should have been applied or advanced at one juncture or another during the preceding period Those who deny (or who do not understand) the new methods of approach, or that we are confronted with the old problems and are heading towards the old solution of these problems, are in fact deserting Marxism, are in fact surrendering to the liberals (as Potresov, Levitsky, and others have done) or to the idealists and the syndicalists (as V. Bazarov and others have done).

    Since they have surrendered themselves to alien people and alien ideas, both Potresov and Bazarov, as well as those who share their views, inevitably lose their bearings and find themselves in a most comical and false position. Mr. Potresov beats his breast and shouts: "Where is the initial attempt at an answer, and what is that answer ?" Martov, who knows the answer just as well, tries to assure the public that that answer recognises "the bourgeoisie in power" -- a common trick whereby liberals take advantage of the temporary enforced silence of their opponents! At the same time they ask us with an offended air: "What do you mean by liquidationism?" This very trick, most worthy gentlemen, is one of the methods of liquidators (if not of renegades);

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people claiming allegiance to a "whole"[*] take advantage of its loss of strength to assure the public that there is no "answer", although the answer has already been given by "the whole".

    Liquidationism, writes Mr. Potresov, is "a figment of a diseased imagination", for you cannot liquidate "what is already beyond liquidation and actually no longer exists as an organised whole".

    I am not in a position fully to convey to the reader my opinion of these lines; but in order to convey an approximate idea of it, let me ask the reader: What should we call a person whose closest associates and colleagues accept proposals favourable to them made by the "whole" (precisely as a "whole") and who the following day declares in the press that there is no "whole"?

    But, enough of that.

    The following question of principle is involved: can the view on the necessity for the old solution of the old problems change according to the degree of disintegration of the "whole"? or even, if you like, with its disappearance? It is obvious to everyone that it cannot. If the objective conditions, if the fundamental economic and political features of the present epoch, demand the old solution, then the greater the disintegration, the less there is left of the "whole", the more one must be concerned about, and the more ardently must the publicist speak about the need for the "whole". As we have already pointed out, we must recognise the new methods of approach; but who is to apply them? Obviously the "whole". Obviously, the tasks of the publicist as seen by those who understand the importance of the period we are passing through and its basic political features, are diametrically opposed to the entire line of the Potresovs. Certainly, no one can even seriously think of denying the connection between the "answer" which I outlined above (to the question of the economics and politics of the present period) and anti-liquidationism.

    Let us now turn from the general principles involved in the presentation of the question to its concrete historical aspect. That trend in Marxism which advocates the necessity <"fnp70">

    * i.e., the Party. --Tr.

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of the old solution and pursues its line accordingly has fully taken shape in the 1908-10 period. Another trend has also taken shape, one which during all these three years has opposed the recognition of the "old solution" and the restoration of the old fundamental forms of the whole. It would be ridiculous to deny this fact. And a third trend which has taken shape has failed during all these three years to understand the new forms of approach, the importance of work in the Third Duma, etc. Such people have recognised the old solution only in words, as one that has been learned by rote but not understood, as words repeated by force of habit but not applied consciously and intelligently to the changed circumstances (changed at least in the sphere of work in the Duma, but, of course, not only in that sphere).

    The connection between liquidationism and the general philistine mood of "weariness" is obvious. The "weary " (particularly those weary as a result of doing nothing) are making no effort to work out for themselves an exact answer to the question of the economic and political appraisal of the current moment: they all disagree with the above appraisal, formally accepted by all as the appraisal given on behalf of the whole; but they all fear even<"p71"> to think of opposing to it their own exact viewpoint, for instance that of the collaborators of the liquidationist Nasha Zarya, Zhizn,[51] etc. The "weary" insist: the old no longer exists, it has lost its vitality, it is lifeless, etc., etc.; but they have not the slightest intention of racking their brains for an answer, a purely political and precisely formulated answer, to the unavoidable question (unavoidable for every honest publicist): what exactly should be substituted for the old, and whether it is necessary to restore "what is [allegedly] beyond liquidation, since it is already liquidated" (according to Potresov). For three years they have been abusing the old, reviling it -- especially from such platforms as are barred to the advocates of the old -- and now, falling into the arms of the Izgoyevs,* they exclaim: What nonsense, what a figment of the imagination all that talk about liquidationism is! <"p71a">

    * See his article in Russkaya Mysl,[52] 1910, on Potresov the supporter of Vekhi ideas. From such embraces Potresov will never wash himself clean.

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    Of such "weary" people, of Mr. Potresov and Co., one cannot say in the well-known verses of the poet: ". . . No traitors they -- just weary carrying their cross; the fire of anger and of sorrow, while mid-way still, they lost".[53]

    "Weary" persons of this kind, who ascend the rostrum of the publicist and from it justify their "weariness" of the old, their unwillingness to work on the old, belong to the category of people who are not just "weary", but are treacherous as well.



    The philosophical struggle of the materialists, the Marxists, against the Machists, i.e., against the idealists, is also classed by Mr. Potresov as "triviality". Mr. Potresov is highly<"p72a"> indignant over the "orgy" of philosophising ("Oh, my friend Arkady Nikolayevich, spare me your eloquence!"[54]) and, in this connection mentioning Plekhanov and myself as representing the materialists, he describes us as "political figures of yesterday ". I had a good laugh over this expression. There is so much obvious and amusing boasting in this that our hare really deserves a bit of the bear's ear.[*] Plekhanov and others -- "political figures of yesterday"! The political figures of today are apparently Potresov and his "gang". Charming and frank.

    Whenever Arkady Nikolayevich accidentally speaks without eccentricity or grimaces, he defeats himself superbly. Just make a little effort, Arkady Nikolayevich, and try to think : you deny the existence of liquidationism as a political trend, as a trend which distinguishes, not Menshevism from Bolshevism, but Potresov and Co. from Plekhanov and the Bolsheviks jointly. And yet, while you deny this, you at the same time describe Plekhanov and myself as "political figures of yesterday". Look how clumsy you are: Plekhanov and I together may be called political figures of yesterday, precisely because we think that the organisation of yesterday, as a form of yesterday's movement (yesterday's in its principles ) is necessary today. Plekhanov and <"fnp72">

    * The allusion is to I. A. Krylov's fable "The Hare at the Hunt", in which the hare boasts about how "we" killed the bear. --Tr.

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I differed sharply, and we still differ on questions of what steps that organisation of yesterday, working on the basis of that movement of yesterday, should have taken at one juncture or another; but we are drawn together by the struggle against those who today deny the very principles of yesterday's movement (this includes also the question of hegemony, of which more later), deny the very foundations of yesterday's organisation.

    Well, Arkady Nikolayevich, are you still unable to understand what is meant by liquidationism? Do you still think that Plekhanov and I have been drawn together by some Machiavellian plot or by a malicious desire to substitute a "struggle on two fronts" for the "defeat" of liquidationism?

    But, to return to the "orgy of philosophising".

    "We know," writes Mr. Potresov, "what a deep impression on the consciousness of German Social-Democracy was made at the time by Engels's struggle against Dühring, and how theses, seemingly most abstract, were actually of vital and concrete significance to the German working-class movement. . . . " The most abstract theses were of vital and concrete significance! Another bit of phrase-mongering and nothing else! Try to explain, if you "know", what was the "vital and concrete significance" of Engels's thesis that Dühring's philosophical reflections on time and space were wrong! The trouble with you is that, like a schoolboy, you learned by rote, that "Engels's controversy with Dühring was of great significance"; but you have not thought about its meaning, and therefore you repeat what you have learned by rote in a wrong and utterly distorted form. It is wrong to say that "the most abstract theses [of Engels against Dühring] were actually of vital and concrete significance to the German working-class movement". The significance of Engels's most abstract theses was that they explained to the ideologists of the working class what was erroneous in the shift from materialism towards positivism and idealism. If, instead of high-sounding, but hollow, phrases about "a deep impression" or the "vital and concrete significance" of "the most abstract theses", you had given such an exposition (that is, one more or less definitive from the philosophical standpoint) of Engels's views, you would have seen

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at once that the reference to Engels's controversy with Dühring goes against you.

    "We know," Mr. Potresov continues, "what part the struggle against subjective sociology played in the history of the formation of Russian Marxism." . . . And what about the part played by Lavrov's and Mikhailovsky's positivist and idealist doctrines in the errors of subjective sociology? Every shot of yours, Arkady Nikolayevich, misses its mark. If you cite an historical parallel, you must single out and point out exactly what is similar in the different events; if not, what you get will not be an historical comparison but words cast to the winds.<"p74"> If we take the historical parallel you cite, we must ask: would the "formation" of Russian Marxism have been possible without Beltov's[55] explanation of the principles of philosophical materialism and of their importance in refuting Lavrov and Mikhailovsky? There can only be one answer to this question, and that answer, if we are to use the historical parallel in order to draw conclusions with regard to the controversy with the Machists -- goes against Mr. Potresov.

    . . . "But precisely because we know all this [why, of course! haven't we just seen what it amounts to when Mr. Potresov writes: "We know all this"?] we want to see a living and real connection established at last between the philosophical controversy we are dealing with, and the Marxist social and political trend, its problems and requirements. Meanwhile" -- here follows a reference to Kautsky's letter in which it was said that Machism is a Privatsache (a private affair), that the controversy over it is a "fata morgana ", etc.

    The reference to Kautsky is typical of philistine judgement. The point is not that Kautsky is "unprincipled", as Mr. Potresov remarks sarcastically (à la Izgoyev), but that Kautsky does not know, nor does he claim to know, the state of affairs in regard to Russian Machism. In his letter Kautsky admits that Plekhanov is well versed in Marxism, and expresses his own conviction that idealism cannot be reconciled with Marxism, and that Machism is not idealism (or that not every form of Machism is idealism). It is obvious that Kautsky is mistaken on the last point, particularly as regards Russian Machism. But it is a pardonable mistake on his part, for he has never studied Machism as a whole, and

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his opinion was expressed in a private letter obviously written as a warning against exaggerating the differences. But a Russian Marxist writer, who, under such circumstances, refers to Kautsky, merely betrays a philistine laziness of mind and cowardice in the fight. In 1908, when the letter was written, Kautsky may have hoped that in a certain interpretation Machism could be "reconciled" with materialism. But to refer to Kautsky in connection with this question in Russia in 1909-10 means to undertake the task of reconciling the Russian Machists with the materialists. Does Mr. Potresov or anybody else really undertake this task in all seriousness?

    Kautsky is not unprincipled; but Potresov and Co.,.who want to proclaim Machism "a private affair", are a model of unprincipledness among Russian Marxists today. Kautsky was quite sincere and not a bit unprincipled when, in 1908, never having read the Russian Machists, he advised them to seek peace with Plekhanov as a man versed in Marxism, and as a materialist; for Kautsky has always declared in favour of materialism and against idealism, and he expressed the same opinion in his letter. But Potresov and Co., who in 1909-10 hide behind Kautsky, have not a grain of sincerity, not a trace of respect for principles.

    You say, Mr. Potresov, that you fail to see any living and real connection between the philosophical controversy and the Marxist trend? Well, permit me, a political figure of yesterday, most respectfully to point out to you at least the following circumstances and considerations: (1) The controversy over the question as to what is philosophical materialism and why deviations from it are erroneous, dangerous and reactionary always has "a real and living connection" with "the Marxist social and political trend" -- otherwise the latter would not be Marxist, would not be social and political, would not be a trend. Only narrow-minded "realistic politicians" of reformism or anarchism can deny the "reality" of this connection. (2) Considering the wealth and many-sidedness of the ideological content of Marxism, there is nothing surprising in the fact that in Russia, just as in other countries, various historical periods give prominence now to one, now to another particular aspect of Marxism. In Germany before 1848, the philosophical forming

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of Marxism was the aspect particularly stressed; in 1848 it was the political ideas of Marxism; in the fifties and sixties it was the economic doctrine of Marxism. In Russia before the revolution, the aspect that was particularly stressed was the application of the economic doctrine of Marxism to Russian reality; during the revolution, it was Marxist politics; since the revolution it is Marxist philosophy. This does not mean that any of the aspects of Marxism may at any time be ignored; it only means that the prevalence of interest in one aspect or another does not depend on subjective wishes, but on the totality of historical conditions. (3) It is not by mere chance that the period of social and political reaction, the period when the rich lessons of the revolution are being "digested", is also the period when the fundamental theoretical, including the philosophical, problems are of prime importance to any living trend. (4) The progressive trends of Russian thought cannot fall back upon a great philosophical tradition, such as that connected with the Encyclopaedists of the eighteenth century in France, or with the epoch of classical philosophy from Kant to Hegel and Feuerbach in Germany. That is why it was necessary for the advanced class of Russia to sort out its philosophy and there is nothing strange in the fact that the belated "sorting-out" came about after this advanced class had, during the recent great events, fully matured for its independent historical role. (5) This philosophic "sorting-out" had been ripening for a long time in other countries as well, because modern physics, for instance, had posed a number of new questions which dialectical materialism had to "cope with". In this respect, "our" (to use Potresov's expression) philosophical controversy is of more than just a certain, i.e., Russian, significance. Europe provided material for a "freshening" of philosophical thought; and Russia, which was lagging behind, seized upon this material with particular "eagerness" during the period of enforced lull in 1908-10. (6) Belousov recently said of the Third Duma that it is a sanctimonious body. He grasped correctly the class characteristic of the Third Duma in this respect and justly branded the hypocrisy of the Cadets.

    Not accidentally, but of necessity, have our reactionaries in general, and the liberal (Vekhi, Cadet) reactionaries in

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particular, "pounced on" religion. The stick and knout alone are not sufficient to serve the purpose; in any case the stick is cracked. Vekhi is helping the advanced bourgeoisie to find a new, ideological stick, a spiritual stick. Machism, as a species of idealism, is objectively a weapon in the hands of the reactionaries, a vehicle of reaction. The struggle against Machism "at the bottom" is therefore not accidental but inevitable in an historical period (1908-10) when "at the top" we see not only the "sanctimonious Duma" of the Octobrists and Purishkeviches, but also sanctimonious Cadets and a sanctimonious liberal bourgeoisie. <"p77">

    Mr. Potresov made the "reservation" that he was "not at present touching" upon the subject of "god-building".[56] That is precisely what distinguishes the unprincipled and philistine publicist Potresov from Kautsky. Kautsky knew nothing either of the god-building of the Machists or of the god-worshipping Vekhi people, and therefore he could afford to say that not every type of Machism is idealism. But Potresov knows all this, and by "not touching " upon the main thing (the main thing to persons with a narrow "publicist" approach) acts the hypocrite. By proclaiming the struggle against Machism "a private affair" Mr. Potresov and his like are abetting Vekhi in the "social and political" sense.



    In passing from Mr. Potresov to Bazarov, we must note, to begin with, that, as regards the philosophical controversy, our answers to the former also hold good for the latter. There is only one point to be added: one can quite understand V. Bazarov's tolerant attitude to Mr. Potresov, his insistence on finding "some truth" in Potresov's arguments, for Mr. Potresov (like all the liquidators), while disavowing Machism formally and in words, yields to it, as a matter of fact, on the most essential point. The Machists as representatives of a trend, and as a group with a "platform" of its own, have never really dared to demand anything more than that their departure from Marxism be regarded as "a private affair"! It is therefore not surprising that Potresov and Bazarov are ogling each other. The group of liquida-

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tionist writers and the group of Machist writers are, in our period of disintegration, indeed at one in defending the "freedom of disintegration" from the adherents of Marxism, from the champions of the theoretical foundations of Marxism. And, as even Bazarov has proved by his article, this solidarity is not confined to questions of philosophy.

    I say "even", for Bazarov, in particular, has always been distinguished for his very thoughtful attitude to serious political problems. This fact must be mentioned if we are to appreciate the meaning of the incredible vacillations of this man, and not merely for the purpose of stressing the very useful past activity of a writer who is now out to earn the laurels of Herostratus.

    Bazarov, for instance, made the following statement of a Herostratean nature: "In my opinion, the biggest and yet most trivial misunderstanding of our times is the notorious question of the hegemony of the working class". There seems to be some fate pursuing the Machists in our midst. Some of them defend the "freedom of disintegration", declaring that otzovism is a legal shade of opinion; others, who see the folly and harm of otzovism, frankly hold out<"p78"> their hands to the liquidators in the sphere of politics. It is the liquidators in Nasha Zarya, and in Zhizn, and in The Social Movement,[57] who are waging a direct and indirect struggle against the idea of this hegemony. We are sorry to state that Bazarov has joined their camp.

    What are his arguments on the substance of the matter? Five years ago such hegemony was a fact. "At present, for quite obvious reasons, that hegemony has disappeared. More -- it has turned into its direct opposite." The proof: "In our days, in order to become popular in democratic circles of society, it has become a necessity to kick at Marxism". Example: Chukovsky.

    You read these lines and you can hardly believe your eyes. Bazarov, who claimed to be a Marxist, has turned into a has-been, into one capable of flirting with the Potresovs.

    You have no fear of God in you, V. A. Bazarov. Chukovsky and other liberals, as well as a host of Trudovik democrats, have always "kicked" at Marxism, and particularly ever since 1906; but was not "hegemony" a fact in 1906? Get out of your liberal-journalistic cubby-hole, consider at least

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the attitude of the peasant deputies in the Third Duma to the working-class deputies. The mere juxtaposition of the unquestionable facts of their political behaviour during the past three years, even a mere comparison between their formulations of motions for next business and the Cadet formulations, to say nothing of a comparison between the political declarations made in the Duma and the conditions under which the large masses of the population have been living during this period, proves incontrovertibly that even today hegemony is a fact. The hegemony of the working class is the political influence which that class (and its representatives) exercises upon other sections of the population by helping them to purge their democracy (where there is democracy) of undemocratic admixtures, by criticising the narrowness and short-sightedness of all bourgeois democracy, by carrying on the struggle against "Cadetism" (meaning the corrupting ideological content of the speeches and policy of the liberals), etc., etc. There is nothing more characteristic of our present times than the fact that Bazarov could write such incredible things, and that a group of journalists who also consider themselves friends of the workers and adherents of Marxism patted him indulgently on the back for this!

    "It is absolutely impossible to foretell what will be the state of affairs at the moment of the coming revival," Bazarov assures the readers of the liquidationist magazine. "If the spiritual character of urban and rural democracy is approximately the same as it was five years ago, then the hegemony of Marxism will again become a fact. . . . But there is absolutely nothing out of the way in the supposition that the character of democracy will undergo a substantial change. Imagine, for instance, that among the petty bourgeoisie of the Russian villages and cities a sufficiently radical sentiment exists against the political privileges of the ruling classes, that it is sufficiently united and active, but is permeated with a strongly nationalistic spirit. Since Marxists cannot think of any compromises with nationalism or anti-Semitism, it is obvious that under such circumstances there will not be even a trace of hegemony."

    In addition to being wrong, all this is monstrously absurd. If certain sections of the population combine hostility to privilege with nationalist sentiments, surely it is the duty of the leader to explain to them that such a combination hinders the abolition of privilege. Can the struggle against privilege be waged unless it is combined with the struggle

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of the petty bourgeois who suffer from nationalism, against the petty bourgeois who gain from it? Every struggle of every petty bourgeois against every kind of privilege always bears the imprint of petty-bourgeois narrow-mindedness and half-heartedness, and it is the business of the "leader" to combat these qualities. Bazarov argues like the Cadets, like the Vekhi writers. Or, more correctly, Bazarov has joined the camp of Potresov and Co., who already have been arguing this way for a long time.

    What cannot be seen on the surface does not exist. What the Chukovskys and Potresovs do not see is not real. Such are the premises of Bazarov's arguments, which fly in the face of Marxism. Marxism teaches us that so long as capitalism exists the petty-bourgeois masses must inevitably suffer from undemocratic privileges (theoretically, such privileges are "not indispensable" under pure capitalism, but the purification of capitalism will continue until its death), that they must suffer from economic oppression. Therefore, so long as capitalism exists it will always be the duty of the "leader" to explain the source of these privileges and this oppression, to expose their class roots, to provide an example of struggle against them, expose the falsity of the liberal methods of struggle, etc., etc.

    That is how Marxists think. That is how they regard the duties of the "leader" in the camp of those whose condition does not permit any reconciliation with privilege, in the camp, not only of the proletarians, but also of the semi-proletarian and petty-bourgeois masses. The Chukovskys, however, think that once that camp has suffered reverses, has been hard-pressed and driven underground, "hegemony has disappeared", and the "question of hegemony has become a most trivial misunderstanding".

    When I see Bazarov, who says such disgraceful things, marching hand in hand with the Potresovs, Levitskys and Co., with those who assure the working class that what it needs is not the leadership, but a class party; when, on the other hand, I see Plekhanov starting (to use the contemptuous expression of the magnificent Potresov) "a row" at the slightest indications of serious vacillation in the question of leadership, I say to myself, the Bolsheviks would indeed be the wild fanatics obsessed by factionalism their enemies

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represent them to be, if, the circumstances being as they are, they wavered even for a moment, if they doubted even for one second that their duty, the duty emanating from all the traditions of Bolshevism, from the very spirit of its teachings and policies, is to hold out their hands to Plekhanov and to express their full comradely sympathy with him. We differed, and still differ, on the questions as to how the leading classes ("hegemons") should have acted at one time or another in the past. But in the present period of disintegration, we are comrades in the struggle against those to whom the question of hegemony is nothing but "a most trivial misunderstanding". As for the Potresovs, Bazarovs, etc., they are strangers to us, no less strangers than the Chukovskys.

    Let this be taken note of by those good fellows who think that the policy of rapprochement with Plekhanov is a narrow policy that "smacks of factionalism"; who would like to "extend" the policy to include a reconciliation with the Potresovs, Bazarovs, etc.; and who absolutely refuse to understand why we regard such "conciliationism" as either hopeless stupidity or abject intrigue-mongering.


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  <"en44">[44] The article "Those Who Would Liquidate Us " appeared in the magazine Mysl (Thought ), a Bolshevik legal monthly philosophical and socio-economic magazine published in Moscow from December 1910. The magazine was started and guided by Lenin from abroad, in order to counter the journals of the liquidators and struggle against them.
    Lenin published six articles in the first four issues of Mysl, including the major work Strike Statistics in Russia. Closely connected with the work of the magazine were V. V. Vorovsky. M. S. Olminsky, I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov; G. V. Plekhanov and other pro-Party Mensheviks also collaborated. The magazine was published until April 1911. In all, five issues appeared, the last being confiscated.    [p. 60]

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  <"en45">[45] Osvobozhdeniye (Emancipation ) -- a fortnightly bourgeois-liberal magazine, published abroad from 1902 to 1905 under the editorship of P. B. Struve. From January 1904 it became the organ of the liberal-monarchist Osvobozhdeniye League. Later, the Osvobozhdeniye group made up the core of the Cadet Party, the chief bourgeois party in Russia.    [p. 61]

  <"en46">[46] Lenin refers to his article "The Victory of the Cadets and the Tasks of the Workers' Party", written in March 1906, and published as a pamphlet in April of that year (see present edition, Vol. 10, pp. 199-276).    [p. 62]

  <"en47">[47] Octobrists -- members of the Union of October Seventeenth, founded in November 1905, as a counter-revolutionary party representing the big industrial and commercial capitalists and the landlords who farmed their land on capitalist lines. The Octobrists claimed to accept the Manifesto of October 17, but fully supported the domestic and foreign policy of the tsarist government. The leaders of the Octobrists were K. Guchkov, a big industrialist, and M. Rodzyanko, who owned huge landed estates.    [p. 62]

  <"en48">[48] The law of November 9 (22), 1906 on "Additions to Certain Regulations of the Existing Law on Peasant Land Ownership and Land Tenure", and the law of June 14 (27), 1910 on "Amendments and Addenda to Certain Regulations on Peasant Land Ownership" defined the regulations for the withdrawal of the peasants from the village communes, and for obtaining the title to their allotments.    [p. 66]

  <"en49">[49] Platform of the 104 -- the Land Reform Bill of the Trudovik deputies to the First and Second Dumas was based on Narodnik principles of equalitarian land tenure: the creation of a national fund from state, crown and monastery lands, and also privately-owned lands if the estates exceeded the established "labour standard" (i.e., the amount of land that can be tilled by a peasant family without the help of hired labour). Provision was also made for compensation in respect of alienated land. The implementation of the land reform was to be the responsibility of local land committees. (For information on the Platform of the 104 see present edition, Vol. 12, pp. 201-03 and Vol. 13, pp. 267-72.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "The Elections to the Duma and the Tactics of the Russian Social-Democrats" and "The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in the First Russian Revolution, 1905-07", respectively. -- DJR])    [p. 66]

  <"en50">[50] Trudoviks (Trudovik group) -- a group of petty-bourgeois democrats in the Dumas composed of peasants and intellectuals with Narodnik leanings. The Trudovik group was formed in April 1906 from peasant deputies to the First Duma.
    The Trudoviks demanded the abolition of all social-estate and national restrictions, the democratisation of urban and rural local government, and universal suffrage in elections to the State Duma. Their agrarian programme was that outlined in Note 49. Owing to the class nature of the small landowning peasantry the Trudo-

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viks in the State Duma wavered between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats. Since the Trudoviks to some extent represented the peasantry, the Bolsheviks in the Duma collaborated with them on certain questions relating to the general struggle against tsarism and against the Cadets. In 1917 the Trudovik group merged with the Popular Socialist Party and actively supported the bourgeois Provisional Government. After the October Socialist Revolution the Trudoviks supported the bourgeois counter-revolution.    [p. 67]

  <"en51">[51] Zhizn (Life ) -- a magazine published in Moscow by the Menshevik-liquidators. There were two issues, in August and September 1910.    [p. 71]

  <"en52">[52] Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought ) -- a monthly magazine of the liberal bourgeoisie published in Moscow from 1880. After the 1905 Revolution it became the organ of the Right wing of the Cadet Party. During the period of its existence Lenin called it "Black-Hundred Thought". The magazine was closed down in the middle of 1918.    [p. 71]

  <"en53">[53] Lenin quotes N. A. Nekrasov's lyrical comedy The Bear Hunt.    [p. 72]

  <"en54">[54] Lenin quotes the works of Bazarov from Turgenev's Fathers and Sons.    [p. 72]

  <"en55">[55] N. Beltov -- G. V. Plekhanov's pseudonym under which his book The Development of the Monist View of History was published in 1895.    [p. 74]

  <"en56">[56] God-builders -- a religious-philosophical trend hostile to Marxism, which arose during the period of Stolypin reaction among a section of the Party intellectuals who had broken with Marxism after the defeat of the 1905-07 Revolution. The "god-builders" (A. V. Lunacharsky, V. Bazarov, and others) advocated the creation of a new "socialist" religion, attempting to reconcile Marxism with religion. At one time Maxim Gorky was associated with them.
    A meeting of the enlarged Editorial Board of Proletary, held on June 8-17 (21-30), 1909, condemned the "god-building" trend and in a special resolution declared that the Bolshevik faction had nothing in common with such distortion of scientific socialism.
    The reactionary character of god-building was exposed by Lenin in his Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, and in letters to Gorky in February-April 1908  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's letters of February 7, 13, 25, March 24, April 16 and 19. -- DJR] and November-December 1913  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's letter of November 13 as well as the undated letter written later that month. -- DJR].    [p. 77]

  <"en57">[57] The Social Movement in Russia at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century -- a five-volume Menshevik publication (four volumes were published) under the editorship of L. Martov, P. Maslov, A. N. Potresov. Plekhanov, who was a member of the original editorial board, left it at the end of 1908 because he disagreed with the inclusion of a liquidationist article by A. N. Potresov in the first volume.    [p. 78]