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Burning Questions of Our Movement




   "Freedom of criticism" is undoubtedly the most fashionable slogan at the present time, and the one most frequently employed in the controversies between the Socialists and democrats of all countries. At first sight, nothing would appear to be more strange than the solemn appeals by one of the parties to the dispute to freedom of criticism. Have voices been raised in the advanced parties against the constitutional law of the majority of European countries which guarantees freedom to science and scientific investigation? "Something must be wrong here," will be the comment of the onlooker, who has not yet fully grasped the essence of the disagreements among the disputants, but has heard this fashionable slogan repeated at every crossroad. "Evidently this slogan is one of the conventional phrases which, like a nickname, becomes legitimatized by use, and becomes almost an appellative," he will conclude.

    In fact, it is no secret that two trends have taken shape in the present-day international[*] Social-Democracy. The fight between these trends now flares up in a bright flame, and now dies down and smoulders under the ashes of imposing "truce resolutions." What this "new" trend, which adopts a "critical" attitude towards "obsolete dogmatic" Marxism, represents has with sufficient precision been stated by Bernstein, and demonstrated by Millerand.

    Social-Democracy must change from a party of the social revolution into a democratic party of social reforms. Bernstein has surrounded this political demand with a whole battery of symmetrically arranged "new" arguments and reasonings. The possibility of putting Socialism on a scientific basis and of proving from the point of view of the materialist concep tion of history that it is necessary and inevitable was denied, as was also the growing impoverishment, proletarianization and the intensification of capitalist contradictions. The very conception, "ultimate aim," was declared to be unsound, and the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat was abso- <"np7">

   * Incidentally, this perhaps is the only occasion in the history of modern Socialism in which controversies between various trends within the socialist movement have grown from national into international controversies; and this, in its own way, is extremely encouraging. Formerly, the disputes between the Lassalleans and the Eisenachers,[7] between the Guesdites and the Possibilists,[8] between the Fabians[9] and the Social-Democrats, and between the Narodnaya Volya-ites[10] and Social-Democrats, remained purely national disputes, reflected purely national features and proceeded, as it were, on different planes. At the present time (this is quite evident now), the English Fabians, the French Ministerialists, the German Bernsteinians and the Russian critics -- all belong to the same family, all extol each other, learn from each other, and together come out against "dogmatic" Marxism. Perhaps in this first really international battle with socialist opportunism, international revolutionary Social-Democracy will become sufficiently strengthened to put an end to the political reaction that has long reigned in Europe?

lutely rejected. It was denied that there is any counter-distinction in principle between liberalism and Socialism. The theory of the class struggle was rejected on the grounds that it could not be applied to a strictly democratic society, governed according to the will of the majority, etc.

    Thus, the demand for a resolute turn from revolutionary Social-Democracy to bourgeois social-reformism was accompanied by a no less resolute turn towards bourgeois criticism of all the fundamental ideas of Marxism. As this criticism of Marxism has been going on for a long time now, from the political platform, from university chairs, in numerous pamphlets and in a number of learned treatises, as <"p8"> the entire younger generation of the educated classes has been systematically trained for decades on this criticism, it is not surprising that the "new, critical" trend in Social-Democracy should spring up, all complete, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter.[11] The content of this new trend did not have to grow and take shape, it was transferred bodily from bourgeois literature to socialist literature.

    To proceed. If Bernstein's theoretical criticism and political yearnings are still unclear to anyone, the French have taken the trouble graphically to demonstrate the "new method." In this instance, too, France has justified its old reputation of being the country in which "more than anywhere else, the historical class struggles were each time fought out to a decision. . . ." (Engels, in his introduction[12] to Marx's The Eighteenth Brumaire.[13]) The French Socialists have begun, not to theorize, but to act. The democratically more highly developed political conditions in France have permitted them to put "Bernsteinism into practice" immediately, with all its consequences. Millerand has provided an excellent example of practical Bernsteinism; not without reason did Berntein and Vollmar rush so zealously to defend and praise him I Indeed, if Social-Democracy, in essence, is merely a party of reform, and must be bold enough to admit this openly, then not only has a Socialist the right to join a bourgeois cabinet, but must always strive to do so. If democracy, in essence, means the abolition of class domination, then why should not a Socialist minister charm the whole bourgeois world by orations on class collaboration? Why should he not remain in the cabinet even after the shooting down of workers by gendarmes has exposed, for the hundredth and thousandth time, the real nature of the democratic collaboration of classes? Why should he not personally take part in greeting the tsar, for whom the French Socialists now have no other name than hero of the gallows, knout and exile (knouteur, pendeur et déportateur)? And the reward for this utter humiliation and self-degradation of Socialism in the face of the whole world, for the corruption of the socialist consciousness of the worker masses -- the only basis that can guarantee our victory -- the reward for this is pompous plans for niggardly reforms, so niggardly in fact that much more has been obtained from bourgeois governments!

    He who does not deliberately close his eyes cannot fail to see that the new "critical" trend in Socialism is nothing more nor less than a new variety of opportunism. And if we judge people not by the brilliant uniforms they don, not by the high-sounding appellations they give themselves, but by their actions, and by what they actually advocate, it will be clear that "freedom of criticism" means freedom for an opportunistic trend in Social-Democracy, the freedom to convert Social-Democracy into a democratic party of reform, the freedom to introduce bourgeois ideas and bourgeois elements into Socialism.

    "Freedom" is a grand word, but under the banner of free trade the most predatory wars were conducted; under the banner of free labour, the toilers were robbed. The modern use of the term "freedom of criticism" contains the same inherent falsehood. Those who are really convinced that they have advanced science would demand, not freedom for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but the substitution of the new views for the old. The cry "Long live freedom criticism," that is heard today, too strongly calls to mind the fable of the empty barrel.[14]

    We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance under their almost constant fire. We have combined voluntarily, precisely for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not to retreat into the adjacent marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now several among us begin to cry out: let us go into this marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: how conservative you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don't clutch at us and don't besmirch the grand word "freedom," for we too are "free" to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh!


    Now, this slogan ("freedom of criticism") has been solemnly advanced, very recently, in No. 10 of the Rabocheye Dyelo, the organ of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad,[15] not as a theoretical postulate, but as a political demand, as a reply to the question: "is it possible to unite the Social-Democratic organizations operating abroad?" -- "in order that unity may be durable, there must be freedom of criticism." (P. 36.)

    From this statement two quite definite conclusions follow: 1) that the Rabocheye Dyelo has taken under its wing the opportunist trend in international Social-Democracy in general, and 2) that the Rabocheye Dyelo demands freedom for opportunism in Russian Social-Democracy. Let us examine these concluslons.

    The Rabocheye Dyelo is "particularly" displeased with the Iskra's and the Zarya's[16] "inclination to predict a rupture between the Mountain and the Gironde in international Social-Democracy."*

    "Generally speaking," writes B. Krichevsky, editor of the Rabocheye Dyelo, "this talk about the Mountain and the Gironde that is heard in <"p11a">

   * A comparison between the two trends among the revolutionary proletariat (the revolutionary and the opportunist), and the two trends among the revolutionary bourgeoisie in the eighteenth century (the Jacobin, known as the Mountain, and the Girondist) was made in a leading article in No. 2 of the Iskra (February 1901). This article was written by Plekhanov. The Cadets,[17] the Bezzaglavtsi[18] and the Mensheviks to this day love to refer to the Jacobinism in Russian Social-Democracy but they prefer to remain silent about, or . . . to forget the circumstance that Plekhanov used this term for the first time against the Right wing of Social-Democracy. (Author's note to the 1907 edition. --Ed.)

the ranks of Social-Democracy represents a shallow historical analogy, a strange thing to come from the pen of a Marxist. The Mountain and the Gironde did not represent different temperaments, or intellectual trends, as ideologist historians may think, but different classes or strata -- the middle bourgeoisie, on the one hand, and the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat, on the other. In the modern socialist movement, however, there is no conflict of class interests; the socialist movement in its entirety, all of its diverse forms," (B. K.'s italics) "including the most pronounced Bernsteinians, stand on the basis of the class interests of the proletariat and of its class struggle for political and economic emancipation." (Pp. 32-33.)

    A bold assertion! Has not B. Krichevsky heard of the fact, long ago noted, that it is precisely the extensive participation of an "academic" stratum in the socialist movement in recent years that has secured such a rapid spread of Bernsteinism? And what is most important -- on what does our author base his opinion that even "the most pronounced Bernsteinians" stand on the basis of the class struggle for the political and economic emancipation of the proletariat? No one knows. This determined defence of the most pronounced Bernsteinians is not supported by any argument or ideas whatever. Apparently, the author believes that if he repeats what the most pronounced Bernsteinians say about themselves, his assertion requires no proof. But can anything more "shallow" be imagined than this opinion of a whole tendency based on nothing more than what the representatives of that tendency say about themselves? Can anything more shallow be imagined than the subsequent "homily" about the two different and even diametrically opposite types, or paths, of party development? (Rabocheye Dyelo, pp. 34-35.) The German Social-Democrats, you see, recognize complete freedom of criticism, but the French do not, and it is precisely their example that demonstrates all the "harmfulness of intolerance."

    To which we reply that the very example of B. Krichevsky proves that the name of Marxists is sometimes assumed by people who regard history literally from the ''Ilovaisky''[19] point of view. To explain the unity of the German Socialist Party and the disunity of the French Socialist Party, there is no need whatever to go into the special features in the history of these countries, to contrast the conditions of military semiabsolutism in the one country with republican parliamentarism in the other, or to analyze the effects of the Paris Commune and the effects of the Anti-Socialist Law;[20] to compare the economic life and economic development of the two countries, or recall that "the unexampled growth of German Social-Democracy" was accompanied by a <"p13a"> strenuous struggle, unexampled in the history of Socialism, not only against mistaken theories (Muhlberger, Duhring,* the Katheder-Socialists[22]), but also against mistaken tactics (Lassalle), etc., etc. All that is superfluous! The French quarrel among themselves because they are intolerant; the Germans are united because they are good boys.

   * At the time Engels dealt his blows at Duhring, many representatives of German Social-Democracy inclined towards the latter's views, and accusations of acerbity, intolerance, uncomradely polemics, etc., were even publicly hurled at Engels at the Party Congress. At the Congress of 1877, Most, and his supporters, moved a resolution to prohibit the publication of Engels' articles in the Vorwärts [21] because "they do not interest the overwhelming majority of the readers," and Wahlteich declared that the publication of these articles had caused great damage to the Party, that Duhring too had rendered services to Social-Democracy: "We must utilize everyone in the interest of the party; let the professors engage in polemics if they care to do so, but the Vorwärts is not the place in which to conduct them." (Vorwärts, No. 65, June 6, 1877.) This, as you see, is another example of the defence of "freedom of criticism," and our legal critics and illegal opportunists, who love so much to cite the example of the Germans, would do well to ponder over it!

   And observe, this piece of matchless profundity is intended to "refute" the fact which is a complete answer to the defence of the Bernsteinians. The question as to whether the Bernsteinians do stand on the basis of the class struggle of the proletariat can be completely and irrevocably answered only by historical experience. Consequently, the example of France is the most important one in this respect, because it is the only country in which the <"p14"> Bernsteinians attempted to stand independently, on their own feet, with the warm approval of their German colleagues (and partly also of the Russian opportunists; cf. the Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 2-3, pp. 83-84). The reference to the "intolerance" of the French, apart from its "historical" significance (in the Nozdryov sense[23]), turns out to be merely an attempt to obscure very unpleasant facts with angry invectives.

    Nor are we at all prepared to make a present of the Germans to B. Krichevsky and to the numerous other champions of "freedom of criticism." If the "most pronounced Bernsteinians" are still tolerated in the ranks of the German party, it is only to the extent that they submit to the Hanover resolution,[24] which emphatically rejected Bernstein's "amendments," and to the Lubeck resolution,[25] which (notwithstanding the diplomatic terms in which it is couched) contains a direct warning to Bernstein. It is debatable, from the standpoint of the interests of the German party, whether diplomacy was appropriate and whether, in this case, a bad peace is better than a good quarrel; in short, opinions may differ as to the expediency of one or another method employed to reject Bernsteinism, but that the German party did reject Bernsteinism on two occasions is a fact no one can fail to see. Therefore, to think that the German example confirms the thesis: "The most pronounced Bernsteinians stand on the basis of the class struggle of the proletariat, for political and economic emancipation," means failing absolutely to understand what is going on before everybody's eyes.[*]

    Nor is that all. As we have already observed, the Rabocheye Dyelo demands "freedom of criticism," and defends Bernsteinism before Russian Social-Democracy. Apparently it came to the conclusion that we were unfair to our "critics" and the Bernsteinians. Which ones? Who was unfair? Where and when? What was the unfairness? About this not a word. The Rabocheye Dyelo does not name a single Russian critic or Bernsteinian! All that is left for us to do is to make one of two possible suppositions: Either, that the unfairly treated party is none other than the Rabocheye Dyelo itself (and this is confirmed by the fact that in the two articles in No. 10 reference is made only to the wrongs suffered by the Rabocheye Dyelo at the hands of the Zarya <"np15">

   * It should be observed that the Rabocheye Dyelo has always confined itself to a bare statement of facts concerning Bernsteinism in the German party, and completely "refrained" from expressing its own opinion on these facts. See, for example, the reports of the Stuttgart Congress[26] in No. 2-3 (p. 66), in which all the disagreements are reduced to disagreements over "tactics," and the bare statement is made that the overwhelming majority remain true to the previous revolutionary tactics. Or take No. 4-5 (p. 25 et seq.), in which we have a bare paraphrasing of the speeches delivered at the Hanover Congress, and a reprint of the resolution moved by Bebel. An exposition and criticism of Bernstein's views is again put off (as was the case in No. 2-3) to be dealt with in a "special article." Curiously enough, in No. 4-5 (p. 33), we read the following: ". . . the views expounded by Bebel have the support of the enormous majority of the congress," and a few lines lower: ". . . David defended Bernstein's views. . . . First of all, he tried to show that . . . Bernstein and his friends, after all is said and done," (sic!) stand on the basis of the class struggle. . . ." This was written in December 1899, and in September 1901 the Rabocheye Dyelo, apparently having lost faith in the correctness of Bebel's position, repeats David's views as its own!

and the Iskra). If that is the case, how is the strange fact to be explained that the Rabocheye Dyelo, which always vehemently dissociates itself from all solidarity with Bernsteinism, could not defend itself, without putting in a word on behalf of the "most pronounced Bernsteinians" and of freedom of criticism? Or some third persons have been treated unfairly. If this is the case, then what reasons may there be for not naming them?

    <"p16"> We see, therefore, that the Rabocheye Dyelo is continuing to play the game of hide-and-seek that it has played (as we shall show further on) ever since it commenced publication. And note this first practical application of the much vaunted "freedom of criticism." As a matter of fact, not only was it forthwith reduced to abstention from all criticism, but also to abstention from expressing independent views altogether. The very Rabocheye Dyelo which avoids mentioning Russian Bernsteinism as if it were a shameful disease (to use Starover's[27] apt expression) proposes, for the treatment of this disease, to copy word for word the latest German prescription for the treatment of the German variety of the disease! Instead of freedom of criticism -- slavish (worse: monkeylike) imitation. The very same social and political content of modern international opportunism reveals itself in a variety of ways according to its national peculiarities. In one country the opportunists long ago came out under a separate flag, in another they ignored theory and in practice pursued the policy of the Radical-Socialists; in a third country, several members of the revolutionary party have deserted to the camp of opportunism and strive to achieve their aims not by an open struggle for principles and for new tactics, but by gradual, imperceptible and, if one may so express it, unpunishable corruption of their party. In a fourth country again, similar deserters employ the same methods in the gloom of political slavery, and with an absolutely unique combination of "legal" with "illegal" activity, etc., etc. To talk about freedom of criticism and Bernsteinism as a condition for uniting the Russian Social-Democrats, and not to explain how Russian Bernsteinism has manifested itself, and what particular fruits it has borne, is tantamount to talking for the purpose of saying nothing.

    Let us ourselves try, if only in a few words, to say what the Rabocheye Dyelo did not want to say (or perhaps did not even understand).


    The chief distinguishing feature of Russia in regard to the point we are examining is that the very beginning of the spontaneous working-class movement, on the one hand, and the change of progressive public opinion towards Marxism on the other, was marked by the combination of obviously heterogeneous elements under a common flag for the purpose also of fighting a common enemy (an obsolete social and political world outlook). We refer to the heyday of "legal Marxism." Speaking generally, this was an altogether curious phenomenon that no one in the 'eighties or the beginning of the 'nineties would have believed possible. In a country ruled by an autocracy, in which the press is completely shackled, and in a period of terrific political reaction in which even the tiniest outgrowth of political discontent and protest was persecuted, the theory of revolutionary Marxism suddenly forces its way into the censored literature, and though expounded in Aesopian language, is understood by the "interested." The government had accus tomed itself to regarding only the theory of (revolutionary) Narodnaya Volya-ism as dangerous, without, as is usually the case, observing its internal evolution, and rejoicing at any criticism levelled against it. Quite a considerable time elapsed (according to our Russian calculations) before the government realized what had happened and the unwieldy army of censors and gendarmes discovered the new enemy and flung itself upon him. <"p18"> Meanwhile, Marxist books were published one after another, Marxist journals and newspapers were founded, nearly everyone became a Marxist, Marxists were flattered, Marxists were courted and the book publishers rejoiced at the extraordinary, ready sale of Marxist literature. It was quite natural, therefore, that among the Marxist novices who were caught in this atmosphere, there should be more than one "author who got a swelled head. . . ."[28]

    We can now speak calmly of this period as of an event of the past. It is no secret that the brief period in which Marxism blossomed on the surface of our literature was called forth by an alliance between people of extreme and of very moderate views. In point of fact, the latter were bourgeois democrats; and this was the conclusion (so strik ingly confirmed by their subsequent "critical" development) that suggested itself to some people even when the "alliance" was still intact.*

    That being the case, does not the responsibility for the subsequent "confusion" rest mainly upon the revolutionary

   * This refers to an article by K. Tulin (Lenin --Ed.) written against Struve: (See Lenin, Collected Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. I, pp. 315-484. --Ed.) The article was compiled from an essay entitled "The Reflection of Marxism in Bourgeois Literature." (Author's note to the l907 edition. --Ed.) [Transcriber's Note: See note [29]. -- DJR]

Social-Democrats who entered into the alliance with the future "critics"? This question, together with a reply in the affirmative, is sometimes heard from people with excessively rigid views. But these people are absolutely wrong. Only those who are not sure of themselves can fear to enter into temporary alliances even with unreliable people; not a single political party could exist without such alliances. The combination with the "legal Marxists" was in its way the first really political alliance entered into by Russian Social-Democrats. Thanks to this alliance, an astonishingly rapid victory was obtained over Narodism, and Marxist ideas (even though in a vulgarized form) became very widespread. More over, the alliance was not concluded altogether without "conditions." The proof: the burning by the censor, in 1895, of the Marxist symposium, Materials on the Problem of the Economic Development of Russia.[29] If the literary agreement with the "legal Marxists" can be compared with a political alliance, then that book can be compared with a political treaty.

    The rupture, of course, did not occur because the "allies" proved to be bourgeois democrats. On the contrary, the representatives of the latter trend are natural and desirable allies of Social-Democracy in so far as its democratic tasks, brought to the front by the prevailing situation in Russia, are concerned. But an essential condition for such an alliance must be the full opportunity for the Socialists to reveal to the working class that its interests are diametrically opposed to the interests of the bourgeoisie. However, the Bernsteinian and "critical" trend, to which the majority of the "legal Marxists" turned, deprived the Socialists of this opportunity and corrupted socialist consciousness by vulgarizing Marxism, by advocating the theory that social antag- onisms were being toned down, by declaring the idea of the social revolution and of the dictatorship of the proletariat to be absurd, by reducing the working-class movement and the class struggle to narrow trade unionism and to a "realistic" struggle for petty, gradual reforms. This was tantamount to bourgeois democracy denying Socialism's right to independence and, consequently, of its right to existence; in practice it meant a striving to convert the nascent working-class movement into an appendage of the liberals.

    Naturally, under such circumstances a rupture was necessary. But the "peculiar" feature of Russia manifested itself in that this rupture simply meant the elimination of the Social-Democrats from the most accessible and widespread "legal" literature. The "ex-Marxists" who took up the flag of "criticism," and who obtained almost a monopoly of "demolishing" <"p20">Marxism, entrenched themselves in this literature. Catchwords like: "Against orthodoxy" and "Long live freedom of criticism" (now repeated by the Rabocheye Dyelo ) immediately became the fashion, and the fact that neither the censor nor the gendarmes could resist this fashion is apparent from the publication of three Russian editions of Bernstein's celebrated book (celebrated in the Herostratus sense)[30] and from the fact that the books by Bernstein, Mr. Prokopovich and others were recommended by Zubatov.[31] (Iskra, No. 10.) Upon the Social-Democrats was now imposed a task that was difficult in itself, and made incredibly more difficult by purely external obstacles, viz., the task of combating the new trend. And this trend did not confine itself to the sphere of literature. The turn towards "criticism" was accompanied by the inclination towards "Economism" among Social-Democratic practical workers.

    The manner in which the connection between, and inter-dependence of, legal criticism and illegal Economism arose and grew is an interesting subject in itself, and could serve as the subject of a special article. We need only note here that this connection undoubtedly existed. The notoriety deservedly acquired by the Credo was due precisely to the frankness with which it formulated this connection and blurted out the fundamental political tendency of "Economism," viz., let the workers carry on the economic struggle (it wouid be more correct to say the trade-unionist struggle, because the later also embraces specifically working-class politics), and let the Marxist intelligentsia merge with the liberals for the political "struggle." Thus, trade-unionist work "among the people" meant fuifilling the first part of this task, and legal criticism meant fuifilling the second part. This statement was such an excellent weapon against Economism that, had there been no Credo, it would have been worth inventing.

    The Credo was not invented, but it was published without the consent and perhaps even against the will of its authors. At all events the present writer, who took part in dragging this new "program" into the light of day,* has heard complaints and reproaches to the effect that copies of the résumé of the speakers were distributed, dubbed the Credo, and even published in the press together with the protest! We refer to this episode because it reveals a very peculiar feature of <"p21">

   * Reference is to the Protest of the Seventeen[32] against the Credo. The present writer took part in drawing up this protest (the end of 1899). The protest and the Credo were published abroad in the spring of 1900. (See Lenin, Collected Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. IV, pp. 149-63. --Ed.) It is now known from the article written by Madame Kuskova, I think in Byloye,[33] that she was the author of the Credo, and that Mr. Prokopovich was very prominent among the "Economists" abroad at that time. (Author's note to the 1907 edition. --Ed.)

page 22

our Economists, viz., a fear of publicity. This is a feature of Economism generally, and not of the authors of the Credo alone. It was revealed by that most outspoken and honest advocate of Economism, the Rabochaya Mysl,[34] and by the Rabocheye Dyelo (which was indignant over the publication of "Economist" documents in the Vademecum[35]), as well as by the Kiev Committee, which two years ago refused to permit the publication of its profession de foi,[36] together with a repudiation of it,[*] and by many, many other individual representatives of Economism.

    This fear of criticism being displayed by the advocates of freedom of criticism cannot be attributed solely to craftiness (although, on occasion, no doubt craftiness has something to do with it: it would be unwise to expose the young and as yet frail shoots of the new trend to attacks by opponents). No, the majority of the Economists quite sincerely disapprove (and by the very nature of Economism they must disapprove) of all theoretical controversies, factional disagreements, broad political questions, schemes for organizing revolutionaries, etc. "Leave all that to the people abroad!" said a fairly consistent Economist to me one day, and thereby he expressed a very widespread (and again a purely trade-unionist) view: our work, he said, is the working-class movement, the workers' organizations, here, in our parts; all the rest are merely the inventions of doctrinaires, an "exaggeration of the importace of ideology," as the authors of the letter, published in the Iskra, No. 12, expressed it, in unison with the Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10.

    The question now arises: such being the peculiar features of Russian "criticism" and Russian Bernsteinism, what should have been the task of those who desired to oppose opportunism, in deeds and not merely in words? First of all, they should have made efforts to resume the theoretical work that the period of "legal Marxism" had only just begun, and that has now again fallen on the shoulders of the illegal workers. Without such work the successful growth of the movement was impossible. Secondly, they should have actively combated legal "criticism" that was greatly corrupting people's minds. Thirdly, they should have actively opposed confusion and vacillation in the practical movement, exposing and repudiating every conscious or unconscious attempt to degrade our program and tactics.

    That the Rabocheye Dyelo did none of these things is well known, and further on we shall deal in detail with this well-known fact from various aspects. At the moment, however, we desire merely to show what a glaring contradiction there is between the demand for "freedom of criticism" and the specific features of our native criticism and Russian Economism. Indeed, glance at the text of the resolution in which the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad endorsed the point of view of the Rabocheye Dyelo.

    "In the interests of the further ideological development of Social-Democracy, we recognize the freedom to criticize Social-Democratic theory in Party literature to be absolutely necessary in so far as this criticism does not run counter to the class and revolutionary character of this theory." (Two Congresses, p. 10.)

    And the argumentation? The resolution "in its first part coincides with the resolution of the Lübeck Party Congress on Bernstein. . . . " In the simplicity of their souls the "Unionists" failed to observe what a testimonium paupertatis (certificate of poverty) they give themselves by this piece of imitativeness. . . . "But . . . in its second part, it restricts freedom of criticism much more than did the Lübeck Party Congress."

    So the Union's resolution was directed against the Russian Bernsteinians? If it was not, then the reference to Lübeck would be utterly absurd! But it is not true to say that it "restricts freedom of criticism." In passing their Hanover resolution, the Germans, point by point, rejected precisely the amendments proposed by Bernstein, while in their Lübeck resolution they cautioned Bernstein personally, by naming him in the resolution. Our "free" imitators, however, do not make a single allusion to a single manifestation of Russian "criticism" and Russian Economism and, in view of this omission, the bare reference to the class and revolutionary character of the theory leaves far wider scope for misinter pretation, particularly when the Union refuses to identify "so-called Economism" with opportunism. (Two Congresses, p. 8, par. I.) But all this en passant. The main thing to note is that the opportunist attitude towards revolutionary Social-Democrats in Russia is the very opposite of that in Germany. In that country, as we know, revolutionary Social-Democrats are in favour of preserving what is: the old program and tactics which are universally known, and have been elucidated in all their details by many decades of experience. The "critics" want to introduce changes, and as these critics represent an insignificant minority, and as they are very timid in their revisionist efforts, one can understand the motives of the majority in confining themselves to the dry rejection of "innovations." In Russia, however, it is the critics and Economists who are in favour of preserving what is: the "critics" want us to continue to regard them as Marxists, and to guarantee them the "freedom of criticism" which they enjoyed to the full (for, as a matter of fact, they never recognized any kind of Party ties,[*] and, moreover, we never had a generally recognized Party body which could "restrict freedom" of criticism, if only by council); the Economists want the revolutionaries to recognize the "sovereign character of the present movement" (Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 25), i.e., to recognize the "legitimacy" of what exists; they want the "ideologists" not to try to "divert" the movement from the path that "is determined by the interaction of material elements and material environment" <"p25"> ("Letter" published in the Iskra, No. 12); they want recognition for the struggle "that is at all possible for the workers under the present conditions," and, as the only possible struggle, the one "they are actually conducting at the present time." (Special Supplement to the Rabochaya Mysl,[37] p. 14.) We revolutionary Social-Democrats, on the contrary, are dissatisfied with this worshipping of spontaneity, i.e., worshipping what is "at the present moment": we demand that the tactics that have prevailed in recent years be changed; we declare

   * The very absence of public Party ties and Party traditions marks such a cardinal difference between Russia and Germany that it should have warned all sensible Socialists against blind imitation. But here is an example of the lengths to which "freedom of criticism" goes in Russia. Mr. Bulgakov, the Russian critic, utters the following reprimand to the Austrian critic, Hertz: "Notwithstanding the independence of his conclusions, Hertz, on this point" (on cooperative societies) "apparently remains excessively tied by the opinions of his Party, and although he disagrees with it in details, he dare not reject the common principle." (Capitalism and Agriculture, Vol. II, p. 287.) The subject of a politically enslaved state, in which nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand of the population are corrupted to the marrow of their bones by political subservience, and completely lack the conception of Party honour and Party ties, superciliously reprimands a citizen of a constitutional state for being excessively "tied by the opinion of his Party"! Our illegal organizations have nothing else to do, of course, but draw up resolutions about freedom of criticism. . . .

that "before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all draw hrm and definite lines of demarcation." (See announcement of the publication of the Iskra.)[38] In a word, the Germans stand for what is and reject changes; we demand changes, and reject subservience to, and conciliation with, what is.

    This "little" difference our "free" copyists of German resolutions failed to notice!

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