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The English translation of the TWO-VOLUME 
follows in every respect the latest Russian 
edition published by the Marx-Engels-Lenin 
Institute," Moscow, the only difference being that 
"What Is To Be Done?" and "One Step Forward, 
Two Steps Back," are given in the abridged 
form published by the author in 1908. 


1 'age 
Preface 13 


A LET'l LR BY COMRADE STALIN published in Rabochaya Gazeta on the 

occasion of the first anniversary of Lenin's death 20-21 

ON THE DEATH OF LENIN: A Speech Delivered at the Second All- 

Union Congress of Soviets, January 26, 1924 21 

COMMUNIST PARTY: Written on the Occasion of Lenin's Fiftieth 
Birthday 25 

1. Lenin as tbc Organizer of the Russian Communist Party ... 26 

2. Lenin as the Leader of the Russian Communist Party 23 

LENIN: Speech Delivered at a Memorial Meeting of the Kremlin Mili- 
tary School, January 28, 1924 31 

A Mountain Eagle 31 

Modesty 32 

Force of Logic 38 

No Whining 33 

No Conceit 34 

Fidelity to Principle 34 

Faith in the Masses 3." 

The Genius of Revolution 36 


GATION (Excerpt) September 9, 1927 39 

Question 1 and Stalin's Answer .'^9 

Question 12 and Stalin's Answer -13 

ELECTORAL AREA, Moscow, December 11, 1937, in the Grand 
Theatre , 45 




SQUARE, Moscow, November 7, 1941 52 









SKOYE BOOATSTVO Opposing the Marxists) 77 





WHAT IS TO BE DONE? Burnitig Questions of out Mov<-mrnt 14< 

Preface to the First Edition 149 

I. Dogmatism and "Freedom of Criticism" 1.V2 

A. What is "Freedom of Criticism"? 152 

B. The New Advocates of "Freedom of Criticism" 1.V> 

C. Criticism in Russia 15^ 

D. Engels on the Importance of the Theoretical Struck .... 164 

II. The Spontaneity of the Masses and the Class Consciousness of 
Social-Democracy 16< V 

A. The Beginning of the Spontaneous Revival 169 

B. Bowing to Spontaneity. Habochaya Mysl 17*2 

C. The "Self-Emancipation Group' 1 and Itabocheyt Dyelo .... ISO 

III. Trade Union Politics and Social-Democratic Politics 186 

A. Political Agitation and Its Restriction by the Economists . . 1N4 

B. A Tale of How Martynov Rendered Plekhanov More Profound 197 

C. Political Exposures and "Training in Revolutionary Activity" 196 

D. What Is There in Common Between Economism and Terrorism? 200 

E. The Working Class as Champion of Democracy 203 

F. Again "Slanderers/' Again "Mystifiers" 214 

IV.- The Primitiveness of the Economists and the Organization of 

Revolutionaries 216 

A. What Are Primitive Methods? 217 

k. Primitive Methods and Economism 220 

C. Organization of Workers and Organization of Revolutionaries 224 

D. The Scope of Organizational Work 236 


E. "Conspirativc" Organization and "Democracy** 241 

F. J-ocal and All- Russian Work 248 

V. The "Plan** for the All- Russian Political Newspaper 256 

B. Can a Newspaper Be a Collective Organizer? 257 

C. What Type of Organization Do We Require? 266 

Conclusion 271 

ONE STEP FORWARD, T\YO STF-PS BACK (The Crisis in Our Party) . . 275 

Preface to the First Edition 275 

A. The Preparations for the Congress 278 

B. The Significance of the Various Groupings at the Congress . . 278 

C. Beginning of the Congress. The Episode of the Organization 

Committee 279 

D. Dissolution of the Yuzhny Rabochy Group 283 

E. The Equality of Languages Episode 284 

F. The Agrarian Program 288 

G. The Party Rules 293 

H. Discussion on Centralism Prior to the Split Among the Iskra- 

ite* 294 

I. Paragraph One of the Rules 296 

N. General Picture of the Struggle at the Congress. The Revolu- 
tionary and Opportunist Wings of the Party 313 

Q. The New Iskra. Opportunism in Questions of Organization 321 

R. A Few Words on Dialectics. Two Revolutions .'144 



REVOLUTION ......................... 351 


1. An Urgent Political Question ................ 354 

2. What Does the Resolution of the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. 

on a Provisional Revolutionary Government Teach Us? . . . 3f>7 

3. What Is a "Decisive Victory of the Revolution Over Tsarism"? 362 

4. The Abolition of the Monarchist System, and a Republic . . . 367 

5. How Should "The Revolution Be Pushed Ahead"? ...... 372 

6. From What Direction Is the Proletariat Threatened with the Dan- 
ger of Having Its Hands Tied in the Struggle Against the Incon- 
sistent Bourgeoisie? .................... 375 

1. The Tactics of "Eliminating the Conservatives from the 
Government" ....................... 

8. Osvobozhdeniye-ism and New 7*fcra-ism ........... 

9. What Does Being a Party of Extreme Opposition in Time of 
Revolution Mean? ..................... 396 

10. "Revolutionary Communes" and Revolutionary-Democratic 
Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the Peasantry ...... 399 

11. A Cursory Comparison Between Several of the Resolutions of 

the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. and Those of the "Conference" 406 

12. Will the Sweep of the Democratic Revolution Be Diminished If 

the Bourgeoisie Recoils from it? .............. 410 

13. Conclusion: Dare We Win? ................. 417 


POSTSCRIPT: Once Again Osvobozhdeniye-ism, Once Again New /a/t-m-ism 426 

I. What Do the Boufgeois Liberal Realists Praise the Social- 
Democrat "Realists" for? 426 

II. Comrade Martynov Renders the Question "More Profound" 

Again 4!i'2 

III. The Vulgar Bourgeois Representation of Dictatorship and 

Marx's View of It 4)17 

NOTE TO CHAPTER 10 of Two Tactics 445 













CONTROVERSIAL QUESTIONS: An Open Party and the Marxists . . . 4% 

I. The Decision of 1908 4% 

II. The Decision of 1910 499 

III. The Attitude of the Liquidators to the Decisions of 1908 and 1910 502 

IV. The Class Meaning of Liquidatorism 604 

V. The Slogan of Struggle for an Open Party 507 

VI ." 610 


I. "Factionalism" 514 

II. The Split 51* 

[ III. The Collapse of the August Bloc 521 

IV. A Conciliator's Advice to the "Seven" 523 

V. Trotsky's Liquidatorist Views 520 











I. What Is Self-Deter ruination of Nations? 564 

II. The Concrete Historical Presentation of the Question 568 

III. The Concrete Specific Features of the National Question in 
Russia and Russia's Bourgeois -Democratic Reformation . . . 571 

IV. "Practicalness'* in the National Question 575 

V. The Liberal Bourgeoisie and the Socialist Opportunists on the 

National Question 579 

VI. The Secession of Norway from Sweden 587 

VII. The Resolution of the London International Congress, 1896 . 591 

VIII. Karl Marx the Utopian and Practical Rosa Luxemburg . . . 595 

IX. The 1903 Program and Its Liquidators 601 

X. Conclusion 008 









Outline) 643 

Preface to the Russian Edition 643 

Preface to the French and German Editions 645 

I. Concentration of Production and Monopolies 650 

II. The Banks and Their New Role 662 

III. Finance Capital and Financial Oligarchy 676 

IV. The Export of Capital 687 

V. The Division of the World Among Capitalist Combines . . . 692 

VI. The Division of the World Among the Great Powers 699 

VII.- Imperialism as a Special Stage of Capitalism 708 

VIII. The Parasitism and Decay of Capitalism f!7 

IX. The Critique of Imperialism 72 

X. The Place of Imperialism in History 736 


LETTERS FROM AFAR: First Letter. The First Stage of the First 

Revolution 751 


la the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin the Soviet people 
have a powerful weapon in their struggle for the honour, freedom and 
independence of their Socialist country and in their struggle to build 
a Communist society. 

The History of the Commwnist Party of 1)u>. Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), 
Short Course, served as a mighty impetus in the ideological and political 
life of the Party and the Soviet people. It placed the study of the founda- 
tion of Marxism-Leninism and the mastery of Bolshevism on a new and 
higher footing. It is stimulating the broad masses, in particular the Soviet 
intellectuals, to independent and deeper study of the great works of Marx, 
Engels, Lenin and Stalin. The interest in the writings of the founders 
of Marxism- Leninism has grown tremendously since the appearance of this 

The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet people which culminated in 
Aictory over Germany and Japan was a new and splendid confir- 
mation of the invincible might of tbe Sovet system and the profound 
historical justne>s of its advanced and progressive ide:>log\ . Lenin's 
writings arm our people with a knowledge of the laws of social 
development and teach them to understand tbe complex phenomena in 
the life of society. The revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism 
"gives practical workers the power of orientation, clarity of perspective, 
confidence in their work, faith in the victory of our cause" (Stalin). 

The two-volume edition of Lenin's selected works includes the fol- 
lowing important writings: "What the 'Friends of the People' Are and 
How They Fight the Social-Democrats," "The Tasks of the Russian 
Social-Democrats," "What Is To Be Done?" "One Step Forward, Two 
Steps Back," "Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic 
Revolution," "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism," "The 
United States of Europe Slogan," "The War Program of the Proletarian 
Revolution," "The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution" 
(the April Theses), "The Impending Catastrophe and How To Combat It," 
"The State and Revolution," "The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet 
Government," "The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky," 
"'Left- wing* Communism, An Infantile Disorder," "The Tax in Kind," 



"On Co-operation,"* and others. Each of these works constitutes a land- 
mark in the history of the Party of Lenin and Stalin and in the develop- 
ment of the Marxist-Leninist theory. In addition, the present two- volume 
edition includes Lenin's most important articles on the defence of the 
Socialist fatherland, of tremendous importance in the mobilization and 
organization of the Soviet people. 

In his'book "What the 'Friends of the People' Are and How They Fight 
the Social-Democrats" (1894), Lenin thoroughly exposed the true charac- 
ter of the Narodniks, showing that they were false "friends^of the people" 
and actually working against the people. He showed that it was the Marx- 
ists and not the Narodniks who were the real friends of the people, and 
who sincerely wanted to destroy tsarism and rid the people of oppression 
of all kind. For the first time Lenin advanced the idea of a revolutionary 
alliance of the workers and the peasants as the principal means of over- 
throwing tsardom, the landlords and the bourgeoisie, and outlined the 
main tasks of the Russian Marxists. In this work he pointed out that it 
would be the working class of Russia in alliance with the peasantry that 
would overthrow tsarism, after which the Russian proletariat in alliance 
with the labouring masses would achieve a free life in which there would 
be no room for the exploitation of man by man, 

In "What Is To Be Done?" (1902) Lenin outlined a concrete organi- 
zational plan for the structure of a Marxist Party of the working class. 
He completely demolished the theory of "Economism," exposed the ideol- 
ogy of opportunism, and the practice of lagging behind events and allow- 
ing them to take their own course. He stressed the importance of theory, 
of political consciousness, and of the Party as the guiding force of 
the working-class movement. He substantiated the thesis that a Marxist 
Party is a union of the working-class movement with Socialism and 
gave a brilliant exposition of the ideological foundations of a Marxist 

In his famous book "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back 7 ' (1904), 
Lenin successfully upheld the Party principle against the circle principle, 
and the Party against theMenshevik disorganizers, smashed the opportun- 
ism of the Mensheviks on questions of organization and laid the organi- 
zational foundations of the Bolshevik Party the militant revolutionary 
Party of the new type. In this book Lenin, "for the first time in the 
history of Marxism, elaborated the doctrine of the Party as the leading 
organization of the proletariat, as the principal weapon of the 
proletariat, without which the struggle for the dictatorship of the prole- 
tariat cannot be won." (History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 
[Bolsheviks], page 51.) "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back" makes 
clear the importance of organization and discipline. 

* Lenin's books The\ Development of Capitalism in Russia and Materialism 
and Empirio- Criticism have been published as separate works. 


In his historic book, "Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Demo- 
cratic Revolution" (1905) Lenin gave a withering criticism of the petty- 
bourgeois tactical line of the Mensheviks and brilliantly substantiated 
the Bolshevik tactics in the bourgeois-democratic revolution and in the 
period of transition from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the 
Socialist revolution. The fundamental tactical principle of this book is 
the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat in the bourgeois-democratic 
revolution, the idea that the hegemony of the proletariat in the bour- 
geois revolution, the proletariat being in alliance with the peasantry > 
would grow into the hegemony of the proletariat in the Socialist revolu- 
tion, the proletariat being in alliance with the other labouring and exploit- 
ed masses. 

"This was a new line in the question of the relation between the bour- 
geois revolution and the Socialist revolution, a new theory of the regroup- 
ing of forces around the proletariat, towards the end of the bourgeois 
revolution, for a direct transition to the Socialist revolution the theory of 
the bourgeois-democratic revolution passing into the Socialist revolution." 
(History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [Bolsheviks], p. 75.) 

This book already contains the fundamental elements of Lenin's 
theory that it is possible for Socialism to be victorious in one country, 
taken singly. Its invaluable significance is that it enriched Marxism with 
a new theory of revolution and laid the foundation for the revolutionary 
tactics of the Bolshevik Party with the help of which the proletariat of 
our country achieved its victory over capitalism in 1917. 

In his work "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism" (1916) 
Lenin makes a Marxist analysis of imperialism, showing that it is the 
highest and last stage of capitalism, that it is decaying and moribund cap- 
italism, and at the same time the eve of the Socialist revolution. On the 
basis of data on imperialist capitalism, Lenin set forth a new theory 
according to which the simultaneous victory of Socialism in all countries 
is impossible, whereas the victory of Socialism in one capitalist country, 
taken singly, is possible. Lenin formulates this brilliant deduction in 
his article "The United States of Europe Slogan" (1915) and in his "The 
War Program of the Proletarian Revolution" (1916). 

"This was a new and complete theory of the Socialist revolution, a 
theory affirming the possibility of the victory of Socialism in separate 
countries, and indicating the conditions of this victory and its prospects...." 
(History of the Communist Party of ike Soviet Union [Bolsheviks], p. 169.) 

Lenin's April Theses laid down for the Bolshevik Party a brilliant 
plan of struggle for the transition from the bourgeois-democratic 
revolution to the Socialist revolution. 

In his work "The Impending Catastrophe and How To Combat It" 
(1917) Lenin warned the working people of Russia of the danger of German 
imperialism enslaving our country if the people did not take power into 
their own hands and save the country from ruin, Lenin showed that 


"it is impossible in Russia to advance without advancing towards So- 
cialism/' that an implacable war had placed before our country with 
ruthless acuteness the question of "cither perish, or overtake and out- 
strip the advanced countries economically as w el Z." The 
salvation of our country from destruction, the strengthening of its 
defence capacity and the building of Socialism are all closely and indis- 
solubly Interconnected, wrote Lenin. Socialism would transform Russia 
economically and create a material base for the mass heroism of the 
people, without which it would be impossible to make our country 
capable of defending itself. 

In his book "The State and Revolution" (1917) Lenin laid bare the 
bourgeois essence of the views of the opportunists (Kautsky and others) 
and the anarchists on the question of the state and the revolution. In this 
work Lenin expounds and develops the Marxist theory on the state, the 
proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, on Social- 
ism and Communism. Basing himself on a study of the experience of the 
two revolutions in Russia, Lenin set forth the theory of a Republic of 
Soviets as the political form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

In his work "The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government" (1918) 
Lenin dealt with the main problems of Socialist construction, accounting 
and control in public economy, the establishment of new, Socialist rela- 
tions of production, the tightening of labour discipline, the development 
of Socialist competition, the reinforcement and development of the dicta- 
torship of the proletariat, the alliance of the working class and the peas- 
antry, and the development of proletarian democracy. 

In his works written during the period of foreign military intervention 
and the Civil War, Lenin gave classical formulations of the tasks of the 
people, of the front and rear, in conditions of war. 

Lenin demanded of the Soviet men and women in time of war heroism, 
courage, valour, fearlessness in battle and readiness to fight together with 
the people against the enemies of our country. It is the task of the rear, 
he wrote, to convert the country into a united military camp and to 
work in revolutionary fashion, smoothly and efficiently, under the slo- 
gan of "All for the Front." "Since the war has proved unavoidable, every- 
thing for the war, and the slightest laxity or lack of energy must be 
punished in conformity with wartime laws." Lenin demanded of the 
front relentlessness towards the enemy and the consolidation of all 
victories that had been won for the complete smashing of the enemy. 
"The men, commanders and political instructors of the Red Army," says 
Comrade Stalin, "must firmly bear in mind the behests of our teacher 
Lenin: 'The first thing is not to be carried away by victory, not to grow 
conceited; the second thing is to consolidate the victory; the third thing 
is to crush the opponent.'" 

In his works Lenin has given us a profound analysis of the factors 
making for the invincibility of the Soviet people and the vitality and 


indestructibility of the Soviet state. "No one will ever conquer a people 
whose workers and peasants have in their majority realized, felt and 
seen that they are defending their own Soviet government, the govern- 
ment of the toilers, that they are defending a cause whose victory will 
ensure them and their children the opportunity to take advantage of all 
the blessings of culture, all the creations of man's labour." 

In his article "On Co-operation" and in subsequent articles Lenin re- 
viewed the work of the Party and the Soviet government and outlined a 
plan for the building of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. by means of indus- 
trializing the country and drawing the peasants into Socialist construction 
through co-operatives. 

The works of Lenin in this two-volume edition of his selected works 
show the main stages in the historic development of Bolshevism, show 
Marxism-Leninism in action. 

Seven articles by Stalin serve as an introduction to Lenin's writings. 
In them Stalin gives an unusually powerful and vivid picture of Lenin 
as one of the greatest geniuses of mankind, the leader of the Bolshevik 
Party and the working class, a fearless revolutionary, organizer of the 
Great October Socialist Revolution, builder of the first Socialist state 
in the world and of the new, Socialist society. Lenin is "a leader of the 
highest rank, a mountain eagle, who knew no fear in the struggle and 
who boldly led the Party forward along the unexplored paths of the 
Russian revolutionary movement." (Stalin.) 

Stalin describes Lenin as the great patriot of our country, a brilliant 
strategist and organizer of the defence of the Socialist fatherland against 
foreign invaders. 

All the works included in these two volumes are given in full with the 
exception of "What the 'Friends of the People* Are and How They Fight 
the Social-Democrats," of which only the first part is given. 

In the main the material in these volumes is arranged in chronological 
order, the exception being the first group of articles, which deal with 
Marx and Marxism. The contents have been divided into historical periods, 
as given in The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 
{Bolsheviks). The first volume contains Lenin's writings in the period 
1894 to March 1917, while the second volume as from April 1917 to 
March 1923. 

The second and third editions of Lenin's Collected Works have been 
used throughout as the sources of the material printed here except for 
"What the 'Friends of the People' Are and How They Fight the Social- 
Democrats" and the "The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats," taken 
from the fourth edition, the articles written in 1917, taken from the three- 
volume edition of Lenin, Collected Works of 1917, the "Letter to the Tula 
Comrades," from the Lenin Miscellany, Vol. XXXIV; the appeal "The 
Socialist Fatherland Is in Dangerl" from the book: V. I. Lenin, From 
the Civil War Period, the telegram "To All Provincial and Uyezd Soviet 



Deputies," from the text published in Pravda, No. 54, February 23, 
1942, the appeal "Beware of Spies I" from the text published in Pravda, 
No. 116, May 31, 1919; the letter of the Central Committee of the Russian 
Communist Party (Bolsheviks) "All Out for the Fight against Denikin!" 
from the separate pamphlet published in 1933. 

In addition to the date of writing and publication, the articles in this 
collection are accompanied by brief explanatory notes. Lenin's notes are 
given without comment. Notes by the editors of this two-volume edition 
are signed "EdS* The dates in the text and in Lenin's notes conform 
with the style of calendar used by Lenin. 

Lenin's Two-Volume Edition of Selected Works is an indispensible 
reference book for everyone who is studying The History of the Com- 
munist Party of the Sovie* Union (Bolsheviks) and the foundations of 
Marxism -Leninism . 





Remember, Io\e and study Lenin, our 
teacher and leader. 

Fight and \anquish the enemies, internal 
and foreign- a* Lenin taimht 11*. 

UuiJd the now life, the new exNh'nce, the 
new culture as I eiiin taught \\*. 

Never refuse to do the little Ihiusx, for from 
little thingx JUT Iwilt the !!< things this is 
one of Lenin V import ani Behests. 


- . a Gazeta" 

occasion of the first anniversary of Lenin's death. 



JANUARY 26, 1924 

Comrades, we Communists are people of a special mould. We are made 
of a special stuff. We are those who form the army of the great proletar- 
ian strategist, the army of Comrade Lenin. There is nothing higher than 
the honour of belonging to this army. There is nothing higher than the 
title of member of the Party whose founder and leader was Comrade Lenin. 
It is not given to everyone to be a member of such a party. It is not given 
to everyone to withstand the stresses and storms that accompany member- 
ship in such a party. It is the sons of the working class, the sons of want 
and struggle, the sons of incredible privation and heroic effort who before 
all should be members of such a party. That is why the Party of the 
Leninists, the Party of the Communists, is also called the Party of the 
working class. 

Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to hold high and 
guard the purity of the great title of member of the Party. We vow 
to you, Comrade Lenin, that we will fulfil your behest with credit! 

For twenty- five years Comrade Lenin moulded our Party and finally 
trained it to be the strongest and most highly steeled workers' party in 
the world. The blows of tsardom and its henchmen, the fury of the bour- 
geoisie and the landlords, the armed attacks of Kolchak and Denikin, 
the armed intervention of England and France, the lies and slanders 
of the hundred- mouthed bourgeois press all these scorpions constantly 
chastised our Party for a quarter of a century. But our Party stood firm 
as a rock, repelling the countless blows of the enemy and leading the 
working class forward, to victory. In fierce battle our Party forged the 
unity and solidarity of its ranks. And by unity and solidarity it achieved 
victory over the enemies of the working class. 

Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to guard the 
unity of our Party as the apple of our eye. We, vow to you, Comrade 
Lenin, that this behest, too, we will fulfil with credit! 


22 J. V. STALIN 

Burdensome and intolerable has been the lot of the working class. 
Painful and grievous have been the sufferings of the labouring people. 
Slaves and slaveholders, serfs and sires, peasants and landlords, workers 
and capitalists, oppressed and oppressors so the world has been built 
from time immemorial, and so it remains to this day in the vast majori- 
ty of countries. Scores, nay, hundreds of times in the course of the centu- 
ries have the labouring people striven to throw off the oppressors from their 
backs an3 to become the masters of their own destiny. But each time, 
defeated and disgraced, they have been forced to retreat, harboring in 
their breasts resentment and humiliation, anger and despair, and lifting 
up their eyes to an inscrutable heaven where they hoped to find deliver- 
ance. The chains of slavery remained intact, or the old chains were re- 
placed by new ones, equally burdensome and degrading. Ours is the only 
country where the crushed and oppressed labouring masses have succeeded 
in throwing off the rule of the landlords and capitalists and replacing 
it by the rule of the workers and peasants. You know, comrades, and the 
whole world now admits it, that this gigantic struggle was led by Com- 
rade Lenin and his Party. The greatness of Lenin lies before all in this, 
that by creating the Republic of Soviets he gave a practical demonstra- 
tion to the oppressed masses of the world that hope of deliverance is not 
lost, that the rule of the landlords and capitalists is short-lived, that the 
kingdom of labour can be created by the efforts of the labouring people 
themselves, and ttiat the kingdom of labour must be created not in heaven, 
but on earth. He thus fired the hearts of the workers and peasants of the 
whole world with the hope of liberation. This explains why Lenin's name 
has become the name most beloved of the labouring and exploited masses. 

Departing from, us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to guard and 
strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat. We vow to you, 
Comrade Lenin, that we will spare no effort to fulfil this behest, 
too, with credit! 

The dictatorship of the proletariat was established in our country 
on the basis of an alliance between the workers and peasants. This is the 
prime and fundamental basis of the Republic of Soviets. The workers 
and peasants could not have vanquished the capitalists and landlords 
without such an alliance. The workers could not have defeated the capi- 
talists without the support of the peasants. The peasants could not have 
defeated the landlords without the leadership of the workers. This is 
borne out by the whole history of the civil war in our country. But the 
struggle to consolidate the Soviet Republic is by no means at an end it 
has only taken on a new form. Before, the alliance of the workers and 
peasants took the form of a military alliance, because it was directed 
against Kolchak and Denikin. Now, the alliance of the workers and peasants 
must assume the form of economic co-operation between town and country, 


between workers and peasants, because it is directed against the merchant 
and the kulak, and its aim is the mutual supply by peasants and workers 
of all they require. You know that nobody worked for this more persist- 
ently than Comrade Lenin. 

Departing from us, Comrade, Lenin adjured us to strengthen 
with all our might the alliance of the workers and the peasants. We 
vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that this behest, too 9 we will fulfil 
with credit! 

A second basis of the Republic of Soviets is the alliance of the labour- 
ing nationalities of our country. Russians and Ukrainians, Bashkirs 
and Byelorussians, Georgians and Azerbaijanians, Armenians and Da- 
ghestanians, Tatars and Kirghiz, Uzbeks and Turkmans are all equally 
interested in strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat. Not only 
does the dictatorship of the proletariat deliver these nations from chains 
and oppression, but these nations for their part deliver our Soviet Re- 
public from the intrigues and assaults of the enemies of the working class 
by their supreme devotion to the Soviet Republic and their readiness 
to make sacrifices for it. That is why Comrade Lenin untiringly urged 
upon us the necessity of maintaining the voluntary union of the nations 
of our country, the necessity for fraternal co-operation between them 
within the framework of the Union of Republics. 

Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjuitd us to consolidate 
and extend the Union of Republics. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, 
that this behest > too, we will fulfil with credit! 

A third basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat is our Red Army 
and Red Navy. More than once did Lenin impress upon us that the res- 
pite we had won from the capitalist states might prove a short one. Moie 
than once did Lenin point out to us that the strengthening of the Red Army 
and the improvement of its condition is one of the most important tasks 
of our Party. The events connected with Curzon's ultimatum and the cri- 
sis in Germany once more confirmed that, as always, Lenin was right. 
Let us vow then, comrades, that we will spare no effort to strengthen 
our Red Army and our Red Navy. 

Like a vast rock, our country towers amid an ocean of bourgeois states. 
Wave after wave dashes against it, threatening to submerge it and crumble 
it to pieces. But the rock stands solid and firm. Where lies its strength? 
Not only in the fact that our country rests on an alliance of workers 
and peasants, that it embodies an alliance of free nationalities, that it 
is protected by the strong arm of the Red Army and the Red Navy. The 
strength, the firmness, the solidity of our country is due to the profound 
sympathy and unfailing support it finds in the hearts of the workers and 

24 J. y. STALIN 

peasants of the whole world. The workers and peasants of the whole world 
want the Soviet Republic to be preserved, as a bolt shot by the sure hand 
of Comrade Lenin into the camp of the enemy, as the pillar of their hopes 
of deliverance from oppression and exploitation, as a reliable beacon 
pointing the path to their emancipation. They want to preserve it, and they 
will not allow the landlords and capitalists to destroy it. Therein lies 
our strength. Therein lies the strength of the working people of all countries. 
And therein lies the weakness of the bourgeoisie all over the world. 

Lenin never regarded the Republic of Soviets as an end in itself. 
To him it was always a link needed to strengthen the chain of the revo- 
lutionary movement in the countries of the West and the East, a link 
needed to facilitate the victory of the working people of the whole world 
over capitalism. Lenin knew that this was the only right conception, 
both from the international standpoint and from the standpoint of 
preserving the Soviet Republic itself. Lenin knew that this alone could 
fire the working people of the world to fight the decisive battles for their 
emancipation. That is why, on the very morrow of the establishment of 
the dictatorship of the proletariat, this most brilliant of all leaders of the 
proletariat laid the foundation of the workers' International. That is 
why he never tired of extending and strengthening the union of the work- 
ing people of the whole world the Communist International. 

You have seen during the past few days the pilgrimage of scores and 
hundreds of thousands of working folk to the bier of Comrade Lenin. Soon 
you will see the pilgrimage of representatives of millions of working 
people to the tomb of Comrade Lenin. You need not doubt that the rep- 
resentatives of millions will be followed by representatives of scores and 
hundreds of millions from all parts of the earth, come to testify that 
Lenin was the leader not only of the Russian proletariat, not only of the 
European workers, not only of the colonial East, but of all the working 
people of the globe. 

Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to remain faith" 
ful to the principles of the Communist International. We vow to 
you, Comrade Lenin, that' we will not spare our lives to strengthen 
and extend the union of the toilers of the whole world the 
Communist International! 

Pravda No. 23, 
January 30, 1924 



There are two groups of Marxists. Both work under the flag of Marx- 
ism and consider themselves "genuine" Marxists. Nevertheless, they 
are by no means identical. More, a veritable gulf divides them, for their 
methods of work are diametrically opposed to each other. 

The first group usually confines itself to an outward acceptance, to 
a ceremonial avowal of Marxism. Being unable or unwilling to grasp 
the essence of Marxism, being unable or unwilling to translate it into 
reality, it converts the living and revolutionary principles of Marxism 
into lifeless and meaningless formulas. It does not base its activities on 
experience, on what practical work teaches, but on quotations from Marx. 
It does not derive its instructions and directions from an analysis of 
actual realities, but from analogies and historical parallels. Discrepancy 
between word and deed is the chief malady of this group. Hence that 
disillusionment and perpetual grudge against fate which time and again 
betrays it and leaves it "with its nose out of joint." This group is known 
as the Mensheviks (in Russia), or opportunists (in Europe). Comrade 
Tyszka (Yogisches) described this group very aptly at the London 
Congress when he said that it does not stand by, but lies down on the 
Marxist view. 

The second group, on the other hand, attaches prime importance not 
to the outward acceptance of Marxism, but to its realization, its transla- 
tion into reality. What this group chiefly concentrates its attention on 
is to determine the ways and means of realizing Marxism that best an- 
swer the situation, and to change these ways and means as the situation 
changes. It does not derive its directions and instructions from histori- 
cal analogies and parallels, but from a study of surrounding conditions. 
It does not base its activities on quotations and maxims, but on practi- 
cal experience, testing every step by experience, learning from its mis- 
takes and teaching others how to build a new life. This, in fact, explains 
why there is no discrepancy between word and deed in the activities of 
this group, and why the teachings of Marx completely retain their living, 


revolutionary force. To this group may be fully applied Marx's saying 
that Marxists cannot rest content with interpreting the world, but must 
go farther and change it. This group is known as the Bolsheviks, the 

The organizer and leader of this group is V. I. Lenin. 


The formation of the proletarian party in Russia took place under 
special conditions, conditions differing from those prevailing in the 
West at the time the workers' parties were formed there. Whereas in the 
West, in France and in Germany, the workers' party emerged from the 
trade unions at a time when trade unions and parties were legal, when the 
bourgeois revolution had already been made, when bourgeois parliaments 
existed, when the bourgeoisie, having climbed into power, found itself 
face to face with the proletariat, in Russia, on the contrary, the formation 
of the proletarian party took place under a most ferocious absolutism, 
in expectation of a bourgeois-democratic revolution; at a time when, on 
the one hand, the Party organizations were filled to overflowing with 
bourgeois "legal Marxists "who were thirsting to utilize the working class 
for the bourgeois revolution, and when, on the other, the tsarist gendarm- 
erie were robbing the Party's ranks of its best workers, while the growth 
of a spontaneous revolutionary movement called for the existence of a 
steadfast, compact and sufficiently secret fighting core of revolutionaries, 
capable of leading the movement for the overthrow of absolutism. 

The task was to separate the sheep from the goats, to dissociate one- 
self from alien elements, to organize cadres of experienced revolutionaries 
in the localities, to provide them with a clear program and firm tactics, 
and, lastly, to form these cadres into a single, militant organization of 
professional revolutionaries, sufficiently secret to withstand the on- 
slaughts of the gendarmes, and at the same time sufficiently connected 
with the masses to lead them into battle at the required moment. 

The Mensheviks, the people who "lie down" on the Marxist view, 
settled the question very simply: inasmuch as the workers' party in the 
West had emerged from non-party trade unions fighting for the improve- 
ment of the economic conditions of the working class, the same, as far 
as possible, should be the case in Russia; that is, the "economic struggle 
of the workers against the employers and the government" in the various 
localities was enough for the time being, no all- Russian militant organ- 
ization should be created, and later . . . well, later, if trade unions 


did not arise by that time, a non-party labour congress should be called 
and proclaimed the party. 

That this "Marxist" "plan" of the Mensheviks, Utopian though it was 
under Russian conditions, would entail extensive agitational work de- 
signed to disparage the very idea of party, to destroy the Party cadres, 
to leave the proletariat without a party and to surrender the working class 
to the tender mercies of the liberals, the Mensheviks, and perhaps a good 
many Bolsheviks too, hardly suspected at the time. 

It was an immense service that Lenin rendered the Russian proletariat 
and its Party by exposing the utter danger of the Mensheviks' "plan" 
of organization at a time when this "plan" was still in the germ, when 
even its authors perceived its outlines with difficulty, and, having ex- 
posed it, opening a furious attack on the license of the Mensheviks in mat- 
ters of organization and concentrating the whole attention of the militants 
on this question. For the very existence of the Party was at stake; it was 
a matter of life or death for the Party. 

The plan that Lenin developed in his famous books, What Is To Be 
D>ne? and One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, was to establish an all- 
Russian political newspaper as a rallying centre of Party forces, to or- 
ganize staunch Party cadres in the localities as "regular units" of the 
Party, to gather these cadres into one entity through the medium of the 
newspaper, and to unite them into an all- Russian militant party with 
sharply-defined limits, with a clear program, firm tactics and a single 
will. The merit of this plan lay in the fact that it fully conformed to 
Russian realities, and that it generalized in a masterly fashion the organ- 
izational experience of the best of the militants. In the struggle for this 
plan, the majority of the Russian militants resolutely sided with Lenin 
and did not shrink from the prospect of a split. The victory of this plan 
laid the foundation for that closely-welded and steeled Communist Party 
of which there is no equal in the world. 

Our comrades (and not only the Mensheviks!) often accused Lenin of 
an extreme fondness for controversy and splits, of being relentless in his 
struggle against conciliators and so on. At times this was undoubtedly 
the case. But it will be easily understood that our Party could not have 
rid itself of internal weakness and diffuseness, that it could not have at- 
tained its characteristic vigour and strength if it had not expelled non-pro- 
letarian, opportunist elements from its midst. In the epoch of bourgeois 
rule, a proletarian party can grow and gain strength only to the extent 
that it combats the opportunist, anti-revolutionary and anti-Party elements 
in its own midst and within the working class. Lassalle was right when 
he said: "A party becomes stronger by purging itself." The accusers usu- 
ally cited the German party, where "unity" at that time flourished. But, 
in the first place, not every kind of unity is a sign of strength, and secondly, 
one has only to glance at the late German party, now rent into three par- 
ties, to realize the utter falsity and fictitiousncss of "unity" between 

28 J. V. STALIN 

Scheidemann and Noske, on the one hand, and Liebknecht and Luxem- 
burg, on the other. And who knows whether it would not have been bet- 
ter for the German proletariat if the revolutionary elements of the Ger- 
man party had split away from its anti-revolutionary elements in time. . * . 
No, Lenin was a thousand times right in leading the Party along the path 
of irreconcilable struggle against the anti-Party and anti-revolutionary 
elements., For it was only because of such a policy of organization that 
our Party was able to create that internal unity and astonishing cohesion 
which enabled it to emerge unscathed from the July crisis during the 
Kerensky regime, to bear the brunt of the October uprising, to pass 
through the crisis of the Brest-Litovsk period unshaken, to organize the 
victory over the Entente, and, lastly, to acquire that unparalleled flexi- 
bility which permits it at any moment to reform its ranks and to concentrate 
hundreds of thousands of its members on any big task without causing 
confusion in its midst. 


But the merits of the Russian Communist Party in the field of organi- 
zation are only one aspect of the matter. The Party could not have gro\vn 
and fortified itself so quickly if the political content of its work, its program 
and tactics had not conformed to Russian realities, if its slogans had not 
fired the worker masses and had not impelled the revolutionary move- 
ment forward. We shall now deal with this aspect. 

The Russian bourgeois-democratic revolution (1905) took place under 
conditions differing from those that prevailed during the revolutionary 
upheavals in the West, in France and Germany, for example. Whereas 
the revolution in the West took place in the period of manufacture and 
of an undeveloped class struggle, when the proletariat was weak and 
numerically small and did not have its own party to formulate its demands, 
and when the bourgeoisie was sufficiently revolutionary to win the con- 
fidence of the workers and peasants and to lead them in the struggle 
against the aristocracy, in Russia, on the other hand, the revolution 
began (1905) in the period of machine industry and of a developed class 
struggle, when the Russian proletariat, relatively numerous and welded 
together by capitalism, had already fought a number of battles with the 
bourgeoisie, had its own party, which was more united than the bour 
geois party, and its own class demands, and when the Russian bourgeoisie, 
which, moreover, subsisted on government contracts, was sufficiently 
scared by the revolutionary temper of the proletariat to seek an alliance 
with the government and the landlords against the workers and peasants. 


The fact that the Russian revolution broke out as a result of the military 
defeats suffered on the fields of Manchuria only accelerated events with- 
out essentially altering them. 

The situation demanded that the proletariat should take the lead 
of the revolution, rally the revolutionary peasants and wage a deter- 
mined fight against tsardom and the bourgeoisie simultaneously, with a 
view to establishing complete democracy in the country and ensuring 
its own class interests. 

But theMensheviks, the people who "lie down" on the Marxist view, 
settled the question in their own fashion: inasmuch as the Russian revolu- 
tion was a bourgeois revolution, and inasmuch as it was the representa- 
tives of the bourgeoisie that lead bourgeois revolutions (see the "history" 
of the French and German revolutions), the proletariat could not exer- 
cise the hegemony in the Russian revolution, the leadership should be 
left to the Russian bourgeoisie (which was betraying the revolution); 
the peasantry should also be left under the tutelage of the bourgeoisie, 
while the proletariat should remain an extreme Left opposition. 

And this vulgar rehash of the tunes of the wretched liberals the 
Mensheviks passed off as the last word in "genuine" Marxism! 

It was an immense service that Lenin rendered the Russian revolution 
by utterly exposing the futility of the Mensheviks' historical parallels and 
the danger of the Menshevik "scheme of revolution" which would surren- 
der the cause of the workers to the tender mercies of the bourgeoisie. The 
tactical plan which Lenin developed in his famous pamphlets, Two Tactics 
and The Victory of the Cadets , was as follows: a revolutionary- democratic 
dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, instead of the dictatorship 
of the bourgeoisie; boycott of the Bulygin Duma and armed uprising, 
instead of participating in the Duma and carrying on organic work 
within it; the idea of a "Left bloc," when the Duma was after all con- 
vened, and the utilization of the Duma tribune for the struggle waged 
outside the Duma, instead of a Cadet Ministry and the reactionary 
"cherishing" of the Duma; a fight against the Cadet Party as a counter- 
revolutionary force, instead of forming a "bloc" with it. 

The merit of this plan was that it bluntly and decisively formulated the 
class demands of the proletariat in the epoch of the bourgeois-democratic 
revolution in Russia, facilitated the transition to the Socialist revolution, 
and bore within itself the germ of the idea of the dictatorship of the pro- 
letariat. The majority of the Russian militants resolutely and unswervingly 
followed Lenin in the struggle for this tactical plan. The victory of this 
plan laid the foundation for those revolutionary tactics with whose help 
our Party is now shaking the foundations of world imperialism. 

The subsequent development of events : the four years of imperialist war 
and the shattering of the whole economic life of the country; the February 
Revolution and the celebrated dual power; the Provisional Government, 
which was a hotbed of bourgeois counter-revolution, and the Petrograd 


Soviet, which was the form of the incipient proletarian dictatorship; the 
October Revolution and the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly; the 
abolition of bourgeois parliamentarism and the proclamation of the Repub- 
lic of Soviets; the transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war and 
the offensive of world imperialism, in conjunction with the pseudo-Marx- 
ists, against the proletarian revolution; and, lastly, the pitiable position 
of the Mgnsheviks, who clung to the Constituent Assembly and who were 
thrown overboard by the proletariat and driven by the waves of revolution 
to the shores of capitalism all this only confirmed the correctness of 
the principles of the revolutionary tactics formulated by Lenin in his 
Two Tactics. A Party with such a heritage could sail boldly forward, fear* 
less of submerged rocks. 

In these days of proletarian revolution, when every Party slogan and 
every utterance of a leader is tested in action, the proletariat makes spe- 
cial demands of its leaders. History knows of proletarian leaders who were 
leaders in times of storm, practical leaders, self-sacrificing and courageous, 
but who were weak in theory. The names of such leaders are not soon forgot- 
ten by the masses. Such, for example, were Lassalle in Germany and Blan- 
qui in France. But the movement as a whole cannot live on reminiscences 
alone: it must have a clear goal (a program), and a firm line (tactics). 

There is another type of leader peace-time leaders, who are strong in 
theory, but weak in questions of organization and practical affairs. Such 
leaders are popular only among an upper layer of the proletariat, and then 
only up to a certain point; when times of revolution set in, when practical 
revolutionary slogans are demanded of the leaders, the theoreticians quit 
the stage and give way to new men. Such, for example, were Plekhanov in 
Russia and Kautsky in Germany. 

To retain the post of leader of the proletarian revolution and of the pro- 
letarian party, one must combine strength of theory with experience in the 
practical organization of the proletarian movement. P. Axelrod, when he 
was a Marxist, wrote of Lenin that he "happily combines the experience of 
a good practical worker, a theoretical education and a broad political out- 
look" (see P. Axelrod *s preface to Lenin's pamphlet: The Tasks of the Rus- 
sian Social- Democrats'). What Mr. Axelrod, the ideologist of "civilized" 
capitalism, would say now about Lenin, is not difficult to guess. But we who 
know Lenin well and can judge dispassionately have no doubt that Lenin 
has fully retained this old quality. It is here, incidentally, that one must 
seek the reason why it is Lenin, and no. one else, who is today the leader of 
the strongest and most highly tempered proletarian party in the world. 

Pravda No. 86, 
April 23, 1920 



JANUARY 28, 1924 

Comrades, I am told that you have arranged a Lenin memorial meeting 
this evening, and that I have been invited as one of the speakers. I believe 
there is no need for me to deliver a set speech on Lenin's activities. It would 
be better, I think, to confine myself to a few facts to bring out certain of 
Lenin's characteristics as a man and a statesman. There may perhaps be no 
inherent connection between these facts, but that is of no vital importance 
as far as gaining a general idea of Lenin is concerned. At any rate, I am un- 
able on this occasion to do more than what I have just promised. 


I first became acquainted with Lenin in 1903. True, it was not a personal 
acquaintance; it was maintained by correspondence. But it made an indeli- 
ble impression upon me, one which has never left me throughout all my 
work in the Party. I was in exile in Siberia at the time. My knowledge of 
Lenin's revolutionary activities since the end of the 'nineties, and especial- 
ly after 1901, after the appearance of Iskra, had convinced me that in 
Lenin we had a man of extraordinary calibre. I did not regard him as a mere 
leader of the Party, but as its actual founder, for he alone understood the 
inner essence and urgent needs of our Party. When I compared him with 
the other leaders of our Party, it always seemed to me that he was head and 
shoulders above his colleagues Plekhanov, Martov, Axelrod and the 
others; that, compared with them, Lenin was not just one of the leaders, 
but a leader of the highest rank, a mountain eagle, who knew no fear in the 
struggle and who boldly led the Party forward along the unexplored paths 
of the Russian revolutionary movement. This impression took such a deep 
hold of me that I felt impelled to write about it to a close friend of mine who 
was living as a political exile abroad, requesting him to give me his optn- 


32 J- V. STALIN 

ion. Some time later, when I was already in exile in Siberia this was at 
the end of 1903 I received an enthusiastic letter from my friend and a 
simple, but profoundly expressive letter from Lenin, to whom, it appeared, 
my friend had shown my letter. Lenin's note was comparatively short, but 
it contained a bold and fearless criticism of the practical work of our Party, 
and a remarkably clear and concise account of the entire plan of work of the 
Party in the immediate future. Only Lenin could write of the most intric- 
ate things so simply and clearly, so concisely and boldly that every sen- 
tence did not so much speak as ring like a rifle shot. This simple and bold 
letter strengthened my opinion that Lenin was the mountain eagle of our 
Party. I cannot forgive myself for having, from the habit of an old under- 
ground worker, consigned this letter of Lenin's, like many other letters, to 
the flames. 

My acquaintance with Lenin dates from that time. 


I first met Lenin in December 1905 at the Bolshevik conference in 
Tammerfors (Finland). I was hoping to see the mountain eagle of our Party, 
the great man, great not only politically, but, if you will, physically, be- 
cause in my imagination I pictured Lenin as a giant, stately and imposing. 
What, then, was my disappointment to see a most ordinary- looking man, 
below average height, in no way, literally in no way, distinguishable from 
ordinary mortals. . . . 

It is accepted as the usual thing for a "great man" to come late to meet- 
ings so that the assembly may await his appearance with bated breath; and 
then, just before the great man enters, the warning whisper goes up: 
"Hush! . . . Silence! . . . He's coming." This rite did not seem to me 
superfluous, because it creates an impression, inspires respect. What, 
then, was my disappointment to learn that Lenin had arrived at the 
conference before the delegates, h^d settled himself somewhere in a corner, 
and was unassumingly carrying on a conversation, a most ordinary con- 
versation with the most ordinary delegates at the conference. I will not 
conceal from you that at that time this seemed to me to be rather a viola- 
tion of certain essential rules. 

Only later did I realize that this simplicity and modesty, this striving 
to remain unobserved, or, at least, not to make himself conspicuous and not 
to emphasize his high position that this feature was one of Lenin's strong- 
est points as the new leader of the new masses, of the simple and ordinary 
masses, of the very "rank and file" of humanity. 



The two speeches Lenin delivered at this conference were remarkable: 
one was on the political situation and the other on the agrarian question. 
Unfortunately, they have not been preserved. They were inspired, and they 
roused the whole conference to a pitch of stormy enthusiasm. The extraor- 
dinary power of conviction, the simplicity and clarity of argument, the 
brief and easily understandable sentences, the absence of affectation, 
of dizzy ing gestures and theatrical phrases aiming for effect all this made 
Lenin's speech a favourable contrast to the speeches of the usual "parlia- 
mentary" orator. 

But what captivated me at the time was not these features of Lenin's 
speeches. I was captivated by that irresistible force of logic in them which, 
although somewhat terse, thoroughly overpowered his audience, gradually 
electrified it, and then, as the saying goes, captivated it completely. I re- 
member that many of the delegates said: "The logic of Lenin's speeches is 
like a mighty tentacle which seizes you on all sides as in a vise and from 
whose grip you are powerless to tear yourself away: you must either sur- 
render or make up your mind to utter defeat." 

I think that this characteristic of Lenin's speeches was the strongest 
feature of his art as an orator. 


The second time I met Lenin \v-as in 1906 at the Stockholm Congress of 
our Party. You know that the Bolsheviks were in the minority at this con- 
gress and suffered defeat. This was the first time I saw Lenin in the role of 
the vanquished. But he was not a jot like those leaders who whine and lose 
heart when beaten. On the contrary, defeat transformed Lenin into a 
spring of compressed energy which inspired his followers for new battles 
and for future victory. 1 said that Lenin was defeated. But was it defeat? 
You had only to look at his opponents, the victors at the Stockholm Con* 
gress Plekhanov, Axelrod, Martov and the rest. They had little of the ap- 
pearance of real victors, for Lenin's implacable criticism of Menshevism 
had not left one whole bone in their body, so to speak. I remember that we, 
the Bolshevik delegates, huddled together in a group, gazing at Lenin and 
asking his advice. The talk of some of the delegates betrayed a note of weari- 
ness and dejection. I recall that Lenin bitingly replied through clenched 
teeth: "Don't whine, comrades, we are bound to win, for we are right." Ha- 
tred of the whining intellectual, faith in our own strength, confidence 
in victory that is what Lenin impressed upon us. It was felt that the 
Bolsheviks' defeat was temporary, that they were bound to win in the 
early future* 


34 J. V. STALIN 

"No whining over defeat" this was a feature of Lenin's activities that 
helped him to weld together an army faithful to the end and confident of 
its strength. 


At the next Congress, held in 1907 in London, the Bolsheviks were vic- 
torious. This was the first time I saw Lenin in the role of vie tor .Victory 
usually turns the heads of leaders and makes them haughty and conceited. 
They begin inmost cases by celebrating their victory and resting on their 
laurels. Lenin did not resemble such leaders one jot. On the contrary, it was 
after a victory that he was most vigilant and cautious. I recall that Lenin 
insistently impressed on the delegates: "The first thing is not to be carried 
away by victory, not to grow conceited; the second thing is to consolidate 
the victory; the third thing is to crush the opponent, for he has been defeat- 
ed, but by no means crushed." He poured withering scorn on those dele- 
gates who frivolously asserted: "It is all over with the Mensheviks now." 
He had no difficulty in showing that the Mensheviks still had roots in the 
labour movement, that they had to be fought with skill, and that all over- 
estimation of one 'sown strength and, especially, all underestimation of the 
strength of the adversary had to be avoided. 

"No conceit in victory" this was a feature of Lenin's character that 
helped him soberly to weigh the strength of the enemy and to insure the 
Party against possible surprises. 


Party leaders cannot but prize the opinion of the majority of their party. 
A majority is a power with which a leader cannot but reckon. Lenin under- 
stood this no less than any other party leader. But Lenin never was a cap- 
tive of the majority, especially when that majority had no basis of prin- 
ciple. There have been times in the history of our Party when the opinion 
of the majority or the momentary interests of the Party conflicted with the 
fundamental interests of the proletariat. On such occasions Lenin would ne- 
ver hesitate and resolutely took his stand on principle as against the majo- 
rity of the Party. Moreover, he did not fear on such occasions literally to 
stand alone against all, considering as he would often say that "a 
policy of principle is the only correct policy." 

Particularly characteristic in this respect are the two following facts. 

First fact. This was in the period 1909-11, when the Party had been 
smashed by the counter-revolution and was in a state of complete disintegra- 
tion. It was a period of disbelief in the Party, of wholesale desertion from 
the Party, not only by the intellectuals, but partly even by the workers; it 


was a period when the necessity for a secret organization was be ing denied, 
a period of Liquidatorism and collapse. Not only the Mensheviks, but even 
the Bolsheviks consisted of a number of factions and trends, which for the 
most part were severed from the working-class movement. We know that it 
was at this period that the idea arose of completely liquidating the secret 
party and of organizing the workers into a legally-sanctioned, liberal, Sto- 
lypin party. Lenin at that time was the only one not to succumb to the 
general contagion and to hold aloft the Party banner assembling the scat- 
tered and shatteredforces of the Party with astonishing patience and extraor- 
dinary persistence, combating each and every anti-Party trend within the 
wofking-class movement and defending the Party idea with unusual courage 
and unparalleled perseverance. 

We know that in this fight for the Party idea, Lenin later proved the 

Second fact. This was the period 1914-17, when the imperialist war was in 
full swing, and when all, or nearly all, the Social-Democratic and Social- 
ist parties had succumbed to the general patriotic frenzy and placed them- 
selves at the service of the imperialism of their respective countries. It was 
a period when the Second International had hauled down its colours to 
capitalism, when even people like Plekhanov, Kautsky, Guesde and the 
rest were unable to withstand the tide of chauvinism. Lenin at that time 
was the only one, or nearly the only one, to wage a determined struggle 
against social-chauvinism and social-pacifism, to denounce the treachery 
of theGuesdes and Kautskys, and to stigmatize the half-heartedness of the 
betwixt-and-between "revolutionaries." Lenin knew that he was backed by 
only an insignificant minority, but to him this was not of decisive moment 
for he knew that the only correct policy with a future before it was the pol- 
icy of consistent internationalism, that the only correct policy was one of 

We know that in this fight for a new International Lenin proved the 

"A policy of principle is the only correct policy" this was the formula 
with which Lenin took "impregnable" positions by assault and won over 
the best elements of the proletariat to revolutionary Marxism. 


Theoreticians and leaders of parties, men who are acquainted with the 
history of nations and who have studied the history of revolutions from 
beginning to end, are sometimes afflicted by an unsavoury disease. 
This disease is called fear of the masses, disbelief in the creative power 
of the masses. This sometimes gives rise in the leaders to an aristocratic 
attitude towards the masses, who although they may not be versed in the 


36 J. V. STALIN 

history of revolutions are destined to destroy the old order and build the 
new. This aristocratic attitude is due to a fear that the elements may break 
loose, that the masses may "destroy too much"; it is due to a desire to play 
the part of a mentor who tries to teach the masses from books, but who is 
averse to learning from the masses. 

Lenin was the very antithesis of such leaders. I do not know of any revo- 
lutionary who had so profound a faith in the creative power of the proletar- 
iat and in the revolutionary fitness of its class instinct as Lenin. I do not 
know of any revolutionary who could scourge the smug critics of the "chaos 
of revolution" and the "riot of unauthorized actions of the masses" so 
ruthlessly as Lenin. I recall that when in the course of a conversation one 
comrade said that "the revolution should be followed by normal order," 
Lenin sarcastically remarked: "It is a regrettable thing when people who 
would be revolutionaries forget that the most normal order in history is 
revolutionary order." 

Hence, Lenin's contempt for all who superciliously looked down on the 
masses and tried to teach them from books. And hence, Lenin's constant 
precept: learn from the masses, try to comprehend their actions, carefully 
study the practical experience of the struggle of the masses. 

Faith in the creative power of the masses this was the feature of 
Lenin's activities which enabled him to comprehend the elemental forces 
and to direct their movement into the channel of the proletarian 


Lenin was born for revolution. He was, in truth, the genius of revolu- 
tionary outbreaks'and a supreme master of the art of revolutionary leader- 
ship. Never did he feel so free and happy as in times of revolutionary up- 
heavals . I do not mean by this that Lenin equally approved of all revolution* 
ary upheavals, or that he was in favour of revolutionary outbreaks at all 
times and under all circumstances. Not at all. What I do mean is that never 
was Lenin's brilliant insight displayed so fully and conspicuously as in 
times of revolutionary outbreak. During revolutionary upheavals he lit- 
erally blossomed forth, became a seer, divined the movement of classes 
and the probable zigzags of revolution as if they lay in the palm of his hand. 
It used to be said with good reason in our Party circles: "Lenin swims in the 
tide of revolution like a fish in water." 

Hence, the "amazing" clarity of Lenin's tactical slogans and the 
"astounding" boldness of his revolutionary plans. 

I recall two facts which are particularly characteristic of this feature of 

First fact. It was in the period just prior to the October Revolution, 
when millions of workers, peasants and soldiers, driven by the crisis in the 


rear and at the front, were demanding peace and liberty; when the generals 
and the bourgeoisie were working for a military dictatorship for the sake 
of "war to a finish"; when so-called "public opinion" and the so-called 
"Socialist parties" were inimical to the Bolsheviks and were branding 
them as "German spies"; when Kerensky was trying already with some 
success to drive the Bolshevik Party underground; and when the still 
powerful and disciplined armies of the Austro-German coalition stood 
confronting our weary, disintegrating armies, while the West-European 
"Socialists" lived in blissful alliance with their governments for the 
sake of "war to a victorious finish. . . ." 

What did starting an uprising at such a moment mean? Starting an up- 
rising in such a situation meant staking everything. But Lenin did not 
fear the risk, for he knew, he saw with his prophetic eye, that an uprising 
was inevitable, that it would win; that an uprising in Russia would pave 
the way for the termination of the imperialist war, that it would rouse the 
worn-out masses of the W r est, that it would transform the imperialist war 
into a civil war; that the uprising would usher in a Republic of Soviets, and 
that the Republic of Soviets would serve as a bulwark for the revolutionary 
movement all over the world. 

We know that Lenin's revolutionary foresight was subsequently con- 
firmed with unparalleled fidelity. 

Second fact. It was in the very first days of the October Revolution, 
when the Council of People's Commissars was trying to compel General 
Dukhonin, the mutinous Commander- in-Chief, to terminate hostilities and 
to start negotiations for an armistice with the Germans. I recall that 
Lenin, Krylenko (the future Commander- in-Chief) and I went to General 
Headquarters in Petrograd to negotiate with Dukhonin over the direct wire. 
It was a ghastly moment. Dukhonin and General Headquarters categorically 
refused to obey the orders of the Council of People's Commissars. The army 
officers were completely under the sway of General Headquarters. As for 
the soldiers, no one could tell what this army of twelve million would say, 
subordinated as it was to the so-called army organizations, which were 
hostile to the Soviets. In Petrograd itself, as w T e know, a mutiny of the mil- 
itary cadets was brewing. Furthermore, Kerensky was marching on Petro- 
grad. I recall that after a pause at the direct wire, Lenin's face suddenly lit 
up; it became extraordinarily radiant. Clearly, he had arrived at a deci- 
sion. "Let's go to the wireless station," he said, "it will stand us in good 
stead. We will issue a special order dismissing General Dukhonin, appoint 
Krylenko Commander- in-Chief in his place and appeal to the soldiers over 
the heads of the officers, calling upon them to surround the generals, to ter- 
minate hostilities, to establish contact with the German and Austrian 
soldiers and take the cause of peace into their own hands." 

This was "a leap in the dark." But Lenin did not shrink from this 
"leap"; on the contrary, he made it eagerly, for he knew that the army 
wanted peace and would win peace, sweeping every obstacle from its path; 


he knew that this method of establishing peace was bound to have its effect 
on the German and Austrian soldiers and would give full rein to the yearn- 
ing for peace on every front without exception. 

We know that here, too, Lenin's revolutionary foresight was subse- 
quently confirmed with the utmost fidelity. 

Brilliant insight, the ability rapidly to grasp and divine the inner mean- 
ing of impending events, was that quality in Lenin which enabled him to 
lay down the correct strategy and a clear line of conduct at crucial moments 
of the revolutionary movement. 

Pravda No. 34, 
February 12, 1924 


SEPTEMBER 9, 1927 




QUESTION 1: What new principles have Lenin and the Communist 
Party added to Marxism in practice? Would it be correct to say that Lenin 
believed in "constructive revolution 99 whereas Marx was more inclined to 
wait for the culmination of the development of economic forces'? 

ANSWER: I think that Lenin "added" no "new principles" to 
Marxism nor did he abolish any of the "old" principles of Marxism. 
Lenin was, and remains, the most loyal and consistent pupil of Marx 
and Engels, and he wholly and entirely based himself on the principles 
of Marxism. But Lenin did not merely carry out the doctrines of Marx 
and Engels. He developed these doctrines still further. What does that 
mean? It means that he developed the doctrines of Marx and Engels 
in accordance with the new conditions of development, with the new 
phase of capitalism, with imperialism. This means that in developing 
the doctrines of Marx in the new conditions of the class struggle, Lenin 
contributed something new to the general treasury of Marxism as compared 
with what was contributed by Marx and Engels and with what could be 
contributed in the pre-imperialist period of capitalism. The new contri- 
bution Lenin made to the treasury of Marxism is wholly and entirely 
based on the principles laid down by Marx and Engels. It is in this sense 
that we speak of Leninism as Marxism of the era of imperialism and 
proletarian revolutions. Here are a few questions to which Lenin contrib- 
uted something new in development of the doctrines of Marx. 

First: the question of monopoly capitalism of imperialism as the 
new phase of capitalism. In Capital Marx and Engels analysed the foun- 
dations of capitalism. But Marx and Engels lived in the period of the 


40 j. v. STALIN 

domination of pre-monopoly capitalism, in the period of the smooth 
evolution of capitalism and its "peaceful" expansion all over the world. 
This old phase of capitalism came to a close towards the end of the 
nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, when Marx and 
Engels were already dead. Clearly, Marx and Engels could only conjecture 
the new conditions of development of capitalism that arose out of the 
new phase of capitalism which succeeded the old phase out of the 
imperialist, monopoly phase of development, when the smooth evolution 
of capitalism gave way to spasmodic, cataclysmic development, when 
the unevenness of development and the contradictions of capitalism be- 
came particularly pronounced, and when the struggle for markets and 
spheres for capital export, in view of the extreme unevenness of develop- 
ment, made periodical imperialist wars for periodical redivisions of the 
world and of spheres of influence inevitable. The service Lenin rendered, 
and, consequently, his new contribution, was that, on the basis of the 
main principles enunciated in Capital, he made a reasoned Marxist anal- 
ysis of imperialism as the last phase of capitalism, and exposed its 
ulcers and the conditions of its inevitable doom. On the basis of this 
analysis arose Lenin's well-known principle that the conditions of im- 
perialism made possible the victory of Socialism in individual capitalist 
countries, taken separately. 

Second: the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The funda- 
mental idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the political rule 
of the proletariat and as a method of overthrowing the rule of capital by 
force was advanced by Marx and Engels. Lenin's new contribution in 
this field was: a) that he discovered the Soviet form of government as 
the state form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, utilizing for this 
purpose the experience of the Paris Commune and the Russian revolvftion; 
b) that he deciphered the formula of the dictatorship of the proletariat 
from the angle of the problem of the allies of the proletariat, and defined 
the dictatorship of the proletariat as a special form of class alliance 
between the proletariat, as the leader, and the exploited masses of the 
non-proletarian classes (the peasantry, etc.), as the led; c) that he laid 
particular emphasis on the fact that the dictatorship of the proletariat 
is the highest type of democracy in class society, the form of proletarian 
democracy, which expresses the interests of the majority (the exploited), 
as against capitalist democracy, which expresses the interests of the 
minority (the exploiters). 

Third: the question of the forms and methods of successfully building 
Socialism in the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, in the period 
of transition from capitalism to Socialism, in a country surrounded by 
capitalist states. Marx and Engels regarded the period of the dictatorship 
of the proletariat as a more or less prolonged one, full of revolutionary 
conflicts and civil wars, in the course of which the proletariat, being in 
power, would take the economic, political, cultural and organizational 


measures necessary for creating, in the place of the old, capitalist society, 
a new, Socialist society, a society without classes and without a state. 
Lenin wholly and entirely adhered to these fundamental principles of 
Marx and Engels. Lenin's new contribution in this field was: a) he proved 
that a complete Socialist society could be built in a country with a dicta- 
torship of the proletariat surrounded by imperialist states, provided the 
country were not crushed by the military intervention of the surrounding 
capitalist states; b) he outlined the specific lines of economic policy 
(the "New Economic Policy") by which the proletariat, being in command 
of the economic key positions (industry, land, transport, the banks, 
etc.) could link up socialized industry with agriculture ("the bond be- 
tween industry and peasant farming") and thus lead the whole national 
economy towards Socialism; c) he outlined the specific ways of gradu- 
ally guiding and drawing the basic mass of the peasantry into the channel 
of Socialist construction through the medium of co-operative societies, 
which in the hands of the proletarian dictatorship are a powerful instru- 
ment for the transformation of small peasant farming and for the re- 
education of the mass of the peasantry in the spirit of Socialism. 

Fourth: the question of the hegemony of the proletariat in revolution, 
in all popular revolutions, both in a revolution against tsardom and in 
a revolution against capitalism. Marx and Engels presented the main 
outlines of the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat. Lenin's new contri- 
bution in this field was that he developed and expanded these out- 
lines into a harmonious system of" the hegemony of the proletariat, 
into a harmonious system of proletarian leadership of the working 
masses in town and country not only as regards the overthrow of 
tsardom and capitalism, but also as regards the building of social- 
ism under the dictatorship of the proletariat. We know that, thanks 
to Lenin and his Party, the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat 
was applied in a masterly fashion in Russia. This incidentally ex- 
plains why the revolution in Russia brought about the power of the 
proletariat. In previous revolutions it usually happened that the 
workers did all the fighting at the barricades, shed their blood and 
overthrew the old order, but that the power fell into the hands of 
the bourgeoisie, which then oppressed and exploited the workers. 
That was the case in England and France. That was the case in 
Germany. Here, in Russia, however, things took a different turn. 
In Russia, the workers did not merely represent the shock 
troops of the revolution. While it represented the shock troops 
of the revolution, the Russian proletariat at the same time strove 
for the hegemony, for the political leadership of all the ex- 
ploited masses of town and country, rallying them around itself, wrest- 
ing them from the bourgeoisie and politically isolating the bour- 
geoisie. Being the leader of the exploited masses, the Russian prole- 
tariat all the time fought to take the power into its own hands and to 

42 J. V. STALIN 

utilize it in its own interests against the bourgeoisie, against capitalism. 
This in fact explains why every powerful outbreak of the revolution in 
Russia, whether in October 1905 or in February 1917, gave rise to Soviets 
of Workers* Deputies as the embryo of the new apparatus of power whose 
function it is to suppress the bourgeoisie as against the bourgeois parlia- 
ment, the old apparatus of power whose function it is to suppress the 
proletariat. Twice did the bourgeoisie in Russia try to restore the bourgeois 
parliament and put an end to the Soviets: in August 1917, at the time 
of the "Pre-parliament," before the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, 
and in January 1918, at the time of the "Constituent Assembly," after 
the seizure of power by the proletariat. And on both occasions it suffered 
defeat. Why? Because the bourgeoisie was already politically isolated, 
the millions of working people regarded the proletariat as the sole leader 
of the revolution, and because the Soviets had already been tried and 
tested by the masses as their own workers' government, to exchange 
which for a bourgeois parliament would have meant suicide for the pro- 
letariat. It is not surprising, therefore, that bourgeois parliamentarism 
did not take root in Russia. That is why the revolution in Russia led 
to the rule of the proletariat. Such were the results of the application of 
Lenin's system of the hegemony of the proletariat in revolution. 

Fifth: the national and colonial question. Analysing in their time the 
events in Ireland, India, China, the Central European countries, Poland 
and Hungary, Marx and Engels developed the basic and initial ideas on 
the national and colonial question. Lenin in his works based himself 
on these ideas. Lenin's new contribution in this field was: a) that he gath- 
ered these ideas into one harmonious system of views on national and co- 
lonial revolutions in the epoch of imperialism; b) that he connected the 
national and colonial question with the overthrow of imperialism; and 
c) that he declared the national and colonial question to be a component 
part of the general question of international proletarian revolution. 

Lastly: the question of the Party of the proletariat. Marx and Engels 
gave the main outlines of the idea of the Party as the vanguard of the 
proletariat, without which (the Party) the proletariat could not achieve 
its emancipation, either in the sense of capturing power or in the sense 
of reconstructing capitalist society. Lenin's contribution in this field 
was that he developed these outlines further and applied them to the new 
conditions of the struggle of the proletariat in the period of imperialism, 
and showed: a) that the Party is a higher form of class organization of 
the proletariat compared with other forms of proletarian organization 
(labour unions, co-operative societies, the organization of state) whose 
work it is the Party's function to generalize and to direct; b) that the 
dictatorship of the proletariat can be realized only through the Party, 
the directing force of the dictatorship; c) that the dictatorship of the pro- 
letariat can be complete only if it is led by one party, the Communist 
Party, which does not and must not share the leadership with any other 


party; and d) that unless there is iron discipline in the Party, the task 
of the dictatorship of the proletariat of suppressing the exploiters and 
transforming class society into Socialist society cannot be accomplished. 

This, in the main, is the new contribution made by Lenin in his works, 
giving more specific form to and developing Marx's doctrine as applied 
to the new conditions of the struggle of the proletariat in the period of 

That is why we say that Leninism is Marxism of the era of imperial- 
ism and proletarian revolutions. 

It is clear from this that Leninism cannot be separated from Marxism; 
still less can it be contrasted to Marxism. 

The question submitted by the delegation goes on to ask: "Would 
it be correct to say that Lenin believed in 'constructive revolution' whereas 
Marx was more inclined to wait for the culmination of the develop- 
ment of economic forces?" I think it would be absolutely incorrect to say 
that. I think that every popular revolution, if it really is a popular rev- 
olution, is a constructive revolution, for it breaks up the old system and 
constructs, creates a new one. Of course, there is nothing constructive 
in such revolutions if they may be called that as take place, say, in 
Albania, in the form of comic opera "risings" of tribe against tribe. But 
Marxists never regarded such comic opera "risings" as revolutions. We 
are obviously not referring to such "risings," but to a mass popular rev- 
olution in which the oppressed classes rise up against the oppressing 
classes. Such a revolution cannot but be constructive. And it was pre- 
cisely for such a revolution, and only for such a revolution, that Marx 
and Lenin stood. It goes without saying that such a revolution cannot 
arise under all conditions, that it can break out only under certain defi- 
nite, favourable economic and political conditions. 

QUESTION 12: Can you outline briefly the characteristics ef the 
society of the future which Communi&rn is tryhig to create*. 

ANSWER: The general characteristics of Communist society are 
given in the works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Briefly, the anatomy 
of Communist society may be described as follows: It is a society in which: 
a) there will be no private ownership of the instruments and means of 
production but social, collective ownership; b) there will be no classes or 
state, but workers in industry and agriculture managing their econom- 
ic affairs as a free association of working people; c) national economy, 
organized according to plan, will be based on the highest technique in 
both industry and agriculture; d) there will be no antithesis between town 
and country, between industry and agriculture; e) products will be dis- 
tributed according to the principle of the old French Communists: "from 

44 j. V. STALIN 

each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs"; f) science 
and art will enjoy conditions conducive to their highest development; 
g) the individual, freed from bread and butter cares, and of the 
necessity of cringing to the "powers that be" will become really free, etc., 
etc. Clearly, we are still remote from such a society. 

With jcgard to the international conditions necessary for the complete 
triumph of Communist society, these will develop and grow in propor- 
tion as revolutionary crises and revolutionary outbreaks of the working 
class in capitalist countries grow. It must not be imagined that the working 
class in one country, or in several countries, will march towards Social- 
ism, and still more to Communism, and that the capitalists of other 
countries will sit still with folded arms and look on with indifference. 
Still less must it be imagined that the working class in capitalist coun- 
tries will agree to be mere spectators of the victorious development of 
Socialism in one or another country. As a matter of fact, the capitalists 
will do all in their power to crush such countries. As a matter 
of fact, every important step taken towards Socialism, and still more 
towards Communism, in any country will inevitably be accompanied by 
the unrest rain able efforts of the working class in capitalist countries to 
achieve the dictatorship and Socialism in those countries. Thus, in the 
further progress of development of the international revolution, two world 
centres will be formed: the Socialist centre, attracting to itself all the 
countries gravitating towards Socialism, and the capitalist centre, attract- 
ing to itself all the countries gravitating towards capitalism. The fight 
between these two centres for the conquest of world economy will decide 
the fate of capitalism and Communism throughout the whole world, 
for the final defeat of world capitalism means the victory of Socialism 
in the arena of world economy. 

Pravda No. 210, 
September 15, 1927 



Comrades, to tell you the truth, I had no intention of making a speech. 
But our respected Nikita Sergeyevich [Khrushchov] dragged me to this 
meeting by sheer force, so to speak. "Make a good speech," he said. What 
shall 1 talk about, exactly what sort of speech? Everything that had to 
be said before the elections has already been said and said again in the 
speeches of our leading comrades, Kalinin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Kaga- 
novich, and many other responsible comrades. What can be added to 
these speeches? 

What is needed, they say, are explanations of certain questions con- 
nected with the election campaign. What explanations, on what ques- 
tions? Everything that had to be explained has been explained and explained 
again in the well-known Addresses of the Bolshevik Party, the Young 
Communist League, the Ail-Union Central Trade Union Council, the Avia- 
tion and Chemical Defence League and the Committee of Physical Cul- 
ture. What can be added to these explanations? 

Of course, one could make a light sort of speech about everything and 
nothing. [Amusement.] Perhaps such a speech would amuse the audience. 
They say that there are some great hands at such speeches not only over 
there, in the capitalist countries, but here too, in the Soviet country. 
[Laughter and applause.] But, firstly, I am no great hand at such speeches. 
Secondly, is it worth while indulging in amusing things just now when 
all of us, Bolsheviks, are, as they say, "up to our necks" in work? 
I think not. 

Clearly, you cannot make a good speech under such circumstances. 

However, since I have taken the floor, I will have, of course, to say 
at least something one way or another. [Loud applause.] 

First of all, I would like to express my thanks [applause] to the elec- 
tors for the confidence they have shown in me. [Applause.] 

I have been nominated as candidate, and the Election Commission 
of the Stalin Area of the Soviet capital has registered my candidature. 
This, comrades, is an expression of great confidence* Permit me to 


46 J. V. STALIN 

convey my profound Bolshevik gratitudfe for this confidence that you 
have shown in the Bolshevik Party of which I am a member, and in me 
personally as a representative of that Party. [Loud applause.] 

I know what confidence means. It naturally lays upon me new and addi- 
tional duties and, consequently, new and additional responsibilities. 
Well, it is not customary among us Bolsheviks to refuse responsibilities. 
I accept 'them willingly. [Loud and prolonged applause.] 

For my part, I would like to assure you, comrades, that you may safe- 
ly rely on Comrade Stalin [Loud and sustained cheers. A voice: "And 
we all stand for Comrade StalM"] You may take it for granted that Com- 
rade Stalin will be able to discharge his duty to the people [applause], to 
the working class [applause], to the peasantry [applause] and to the 
intelligentsia. [Applause.] 

Further, comrades, I would like to congratulate you on the occasion 
of the forthcoming national holiday, the day of the elections to the Su- 
preme Soviet of the Soviet Union. [Loud applause.] The forthcoming elec- 
tions are not merely elections, comrades, they are really a national holi- 
day of our workers, our peasants and our intelligentsia. [Loud applause.] 
Never in the history of the world have there been such really free and 
really democratic elections never! History knows no other example 
like it. [Applause.] The point is not that our elections will be universal, 
equal, secret and direct, although that fact in itself is of great impor- 
tance. The point is that our universal elections will be carried out as the 
freest elections and the most democratic of any country in the world. 

Universal elections exist and are held in some capitalist countries, 
too, so-called democratic countries. But in what atmosphere are elections 
held there? In an atmosphere of class conflicts, in an atmosphere of class 
enmity, in an atmosphere of pressure brought to bear on the electors by 
the capitalists, landlords, bankers and other capitalist sharks. Such 
elections, even if they are universal, equal, secret and direct, cannot be 
called altogether free and altogether democratic elections. 

Here, in our country, on the contrary, elections are held in an entirely 
different atmosphere. Here there are no capitalists and no landlords and, 
consequently f no pressure is exerted by propertied classes on non-propertied 
classes* Here elections are held in an atmosphere of collaboration between 
the workers, the peasants and the intelligentsia, in an atmosphere of mutual 
confidence between them, in an atmosphere, I would say, of mutual friend* 
ship; because there are no capitalists in our country, no landlords, no 
exploitation and nobody, in fact, to bring pressure to bear on people in 
order to distort their will. 

That is why our elections are the only really free and really democrat- 
ic elections in the whole world. [Loud applause.] 

Such free and really democratic elections could arise only on the basis 
of the triumph of the Socialist system, only on the basis of the fact that 
in our country Socialism is not merely being built, but has already become 


part of life, of the daily life of the people. Some ten years ago the question 
might still be debated whether Socialism could be built in our country 
or not. Today this is no longer a debatable question. Today it is a matter 
of facts, a matter of real life, a matter of habits that permeate the whole 
life of the people. Our mills and factories are being run without capital- 
ists. The work is directed by men and women of the people. That is what 
we call Socialism in practice. In our fields the tillers of the land work 
without landlords and without kulaks. The work is directed by men and 
women of the people. That is what we call Socialism in daily life, that 
is what we call a free, Socialist life. 

It is on this basis that our new, really free and really democratic elec- 
tions have arisen, elections which have no precedent in the history of 

How then, after this, can one refrain from congratulating you on the 
occasion of the day of national celebration, the day of the elections to 
the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union! [Loud, general cheers.] 

Further, comrades, I would like to give you some advice, the advice 
of a candidate to his electors. If you take capitalist countries you will 
find that peculiar, I would say, rather strange relations exist there 
between deputies and voters. As long as the elections are in progress, the 
deputies flirt with the electors, fawn on them, swear fidelity and make 
heaps of promises of every kind. It would appear that the deputies are 
completely dependent on the electors. As soon as the elections are over, 
and the candidates have become deputies, relations undergo a radical 
change. Instead of the deputies being dependent on the electors, they 
become entirely independent. For four or five years, that is, until the 
next elections, the deputy feels quite free, independent of the people, 
of his electors. He may pass from one camp to another, he may turn 
from the right road to the wrong road, he may even become entangled 
in machinations of a not altogether savoury character, he may turn as 
many somersaults as he likes he is independent. 

Can such relations be regarded as normal? By no means, comrades. 
This circumstance was taken into consideration by our Constitution and 
it made it a law that electors have the right to recall their deputies 
before the expiration of their term of office if they begin to play tricks, 
if they turn off the road, or if they forget that they are dependent on 
the people, on the electors. 

This is a wonderful law, comrades. A deputy should know that he is 
the servant of the people, their emissary in the Supreme Soviet, and 
that he must follow the line laid down in the mandate given him by the 
people. If he turns off the road, the electors are entitled to demand new 
elections, and as to the deputy who turned off the road, they have the 
right to send him packing. [Laughter and applause.] This is a wonderful 
law. My advice, the advice of a candidate to his electors, is that they re* 
member this electors ' right, the right to recall deputies before the expi* 

48 j. V. STALIN 

ration of their term of office, that they keep an eye on their deputies, con- 
trol them and, if they should take it into their heads to turn off the right 
road, to get rid of them and demand new elections. The government is 
obliged to appoint new elections. My advice is to remember this law and 
to take advantage of it should need arise. 

And, lastly, one more piece of advice from a candidate to his electors. 
What fn general must one demand of one's deputies, selecting from all 
possible demands the most elementary? 

The electors, the people, must demand that their deputies should 
remain equal to their tasks, that in their work they should not sink to 
the level of political philistines, that in their posts they should remain pol- 
itical figures of the Lenin type, that as public figures they should be as 
clear and definite as Lenin was [applause], that they should be as fearless 
in battle and as merciless towards the enemies of the people as Lenin was 
[applause], that they should be free from all panic, from any semblance 
of panic, when things begin to get complicated and some danger or other 
looms on the horizon, that they should be as free from all semblance of 
panic as Lenin was [applause], that they should be as wise and deliber- 
ate in deciding complex problems requiring a comprehensive orientation 
and a comprehensive weighing of all pros and cons as Lenin was [applause], 
that they should be as upright and honest as Lenin was [applause], that 
they should love their people as Lenin did. [Applause.] 

Can we say that all the candidates are public figures precisely of this 
kind? I would not say so. There are all sorts of people in the world, there 
are all sorts of public figures in the world. There are people of whom you 
cannot say what they are, whether they are good or bad, courageous or 
timid, for the people heart and soul or for the enemies of the people. 
There are such people and there are such public figures. They are also to 
be found among us, the Bolsheviks. You know yourselves, comrades, 
there are black sheep in every family. [Laughter and applause.] Of people 
of this indefinite type, people who resemble political philistines rather 
than political figures, people of this vague, uncertain type, the great 
Russian writer, Gogol, rather aptly said: "Vague sort of people," says he, 
"neither one thing nor the other, you can't make head or tail of them, 
they are neither Bogdan in town nor Seliphan in the country." [Laughter 
and applause.] There are also some rather apt popular sayings about 
such indefinite people and public figures: "A middling sort of man nei- 
ther fish nor flesh" [general laughter and applause], "neither a candle for 
god nor a poker for the devil." [General laughter and applause.] 

I cannot say with absolute certainty that among the candidates (I beg 
their pardon, of course) and among our public figures there are not people 
who resemble political philistines more than anything else, who in char- 
acter and make-up resemble people of the type referred to in the popular 
saying: "Neither a candle for god nor a poker for the devil." [Laughter 
and applause.] 


I would like you, comrades, to exercise systematic influence on your 
deputies, to impress upon them that they must constantly keep before 
them the great image of the great Lenin and emulate Lenin in all things. 

The functions of the electors do not end with the elections. They con- 
tinue during the whole term of the given Supreme Soviet. I have already 
mentioned the law which empowers the electors to recall their deputies 
before the expiration of their term of office if they should turn off the 
right road. Hence, it is the duty and right of the electors to keep their 
deputies constantly under their control and to impress upon them that they 
must under no circumstances sink to the level of political phil is tines, 
impress upon them that they must be like the great Lenin. [Applause.} 

Such, comrades, is my second piece of advice to you, the advice of 
a candidate to his electors. [Loud and sustained applause and cheers. All 
rise and turn towards the goternment box, to which Comrade Stalin proceeds 
from the platform. Voices: "Hurrah for the great Stalinl" "Hurrah for 
Comrade titalinl" "Long live Comrade Stalinl" "Long live the first of the 
Leninists, candidate for the Soviet of the Union, Comrade Stalinl"] 

Pravda No. 340, 
December 12, 1937 



MAY 17, 1938 

Comrades, permit me to propose a toast to science and its progress ,. 
and to the health of the men of science. 

To the progress of science, of that science which does not fence itself 
off from the people and does not hold aloof from them, but which is pre- 
pared to serve the people and to transmit to them all the benefits of science, 
and which does not serve the people under compulsion, but voluntar- 
ily and willingly. [Applause.] 

To the progress of science, of that science which will not permit it^ 
old and recognized leaders smugly to invest themselves in the robe of 
high priests and monopolists of science; which understands the meaning, 
significance and omnipotence of an alliance between the old scientists 
and the young scientists; which voluntarily and willingly throws open 
every door of science to the young forces of our country, and affords them 
the opportunity of scaling the peaks of science, and which recognizes that 
the future belongs to the young scientists. [Applause.] 

To the progress of science, of that science whose devotees, while under- 
standing the power and significance of the established scientific tradi- 
tions and ably utilizing them in the interests of science, are nevertheless 
not willing to be slaves of these traditions; the science which has the 
courage and determination tb smash the old traditions, standards and 
views when they become antiquated and begin to act as a fetter on pro- 
gress, and which is able to create new traditions, new standards and new 
views. [Applause.] 

In the course of its development science has known not a few coura- 
geous men who were able to break down the old and create the new, de- 
spite all obstacles, despite everything. Such scientists as Galileo, Dar- 
win and many others are widely known. I should like to dwell on one 
of these eminent men of science, one who at the same time was the great- 
est man of modern times. I am referring to Lenin, our teacher, our tutor. 
[Applause.] Remember 1917. A scientific analysis of the social develop- 
ment of Russia and of the international situation brought Lenin to the 



conclusion that the only way out of the situation lay in the victory of 
Socialism in Russia. This conclusion came as a complete surprise to many 
men of science of the day. Plekhanov, an outstanding man of science, spoke 
of Lenin with contempt, and declared that he was "raving. " Other men 
of science, no less well-known, declared that "Lenin had gone mad," 
and that he ought to be put away in a safe place. Scientists of all kinds 
set up a howl that Lenin was destroying science. But Lenin was not afraid 
to go against the current, against the force of routine. And Lenin won. 

Here you have an example of a man of science who boldly fought an 
antiquated science and laid the road for a new science. 

But sometimes it is not well-known men of science who lay the new 
roads for science and technology, but men entirely unknown in the scien- 
tific world, plain, practical men, innovators in their field. Here, sitting 
at this table, are Comrades Stakhanov and Papanin. They are unknown 
in the scientific world, they have no scientific degrees, but are just prac- 
tical men in their field. But who does not know that in their practical 
work in industry Stakhanov and the Stakhanovites have upset the exist- 
ing standards, which were established by well-known scientists and tech- 
nologists, have shown that they were antiquated, and have introduced 
new standards which conform to the requirements of real science and 
technology? VC ho does not know that in their practical work on the drift- 
ing ice-floe Papanin and the Papaninites upset the old conception of 
the Arctic, in passing, as it were, without any special effort, showed that 
it was antiquated, and established a new conception which conforms to 
the demands of real science? Who can deny that Stakhanov and Papanin 
are innovators in science, men of our advanced science? 

There you see what "miracles" are still performed in science! 

I have been speaking of science. But there are all kinds of science, 
The science of which 1 have been speaking is advanced science. 

To the progress of our advanced science! 

To the men of advanced science! 

To Lenin and Leninism! 

To Stakhanov and the Stakhanovites! 

To Papanin and the Papaninites! [Applause.} 

Piavda No. 136, 
May 19, 1938 


NOVEMBER 7, 1941 

Comrades, Red Armymen and Red Navymen, commanders and polit- 
ical instructors, working men and working women, collective farmers 
men and women, workers engaged in intellectual pursuits, brothers and 
sisters in the rear of our enemy who have temporarily fallen under the 
yoke of the German brigands, and our valiant partisans, men and women, 
who are destroying the rear of the German invaders! 

On behalf of the Soviet government and our Bolshevik Party I greet 
and congratulate you on the 24th anniversary of the Great October So- 
cialist Revolution. 

Comrades, it is in strenuous circumstances that we are today celebrat- 
ing the 24th anniversary of the October Revolution. The perfidious 
attack of the German brigands and the war which has been forced upon 
us have placed our country in jeopardy. We have temporarily lost a num- 
ber of regions, the enemy has appeared at the gates of Leningrad and 
Moscow. The enemy reckoned that after the very first blow our Army 
would be dispersed, and our country would be forced to her knees. But the 
enemy sadly miscalculated. In spite of temporary reverses, our Army and 
our Navy are heroically repulsing the enemy's attacks along the whole 
front and inflicting heavy losses upon him, while our country our entire 
country has become transformed into one fighting camp bent on encom- 
passing, together with our Army and our Navy, the defeat of the German 

There have been times when our country was in even more difficult 
straits. Recall the year 1918, when we celebrated the first anniversary 
of the October Revolution. Three-quarters of our country was at that 
time in the hands of foreign invaders. The Ukraine, the Caucasus, Cen- 
tral Asia, the Urals, Siberia and the Far East were temporarily lost to 
us. We had no allies, we had no Red Army we had only just begun to 
form it; there was a shortage of food, of armaments, of clothing for the 



Army. Fourteen states were encroaching on our country. But we did not 
become despondent, we did not lose heart. In the fire of war we forged 
the Red Army and converted our country into a military camp. The 
spirit of the great Lenin inspired us at the time in the war against the. 
invaders. And what happened? We routed the invaders, recovered all our 
lost territory, and achieved victory. 

Today the position of our country is far better than it was 23 years 
ago. Our country is now ever so much richer than it was 23 years ago as 
regards industry, food and raw materials. We now have allies, who to- 
gether with us are maintaining a united front against the German invad- 
ers. We now enjoy the sympathy and support of all the nations of Europe 
who have fallen under the yoke of Hitler's tyranny. We now have a splen- 
did Army and a splendid Navy, who are staunchly defending the liberty 
and independence of our country. We experience no serious shortage 
of either food, or armaments or army clothing. Our entire country, all 
the peoples of our country, support our Army and our Navy, helping 
them to smash the invading hordes of German fascists. Our reserves 
of man power are inexhaustible. The spirit of the great Lenin and his 
victorious banner inspire us today in this Patriotic War just as they did 
23 years ago. 

Can there be any doubt that we can and are bound to defeat the Ger- 
man invaders? 

The enemy is not so strong as some frightened little intellectuals depict 
him to be. The devil is not so terrible as he is painted. Who can deny that 
our Red Army has time and again compelled the vaunted German troops 
to flee in panic? If we judge, not by the boastful assertions of the German 
propagandists, but by the actual position of Germany, it will not be 
difficult to understand that the German fascist invaders are now on the 
brink of disaster. Hunger and poverty reign in Germany today; in the 
four months of war Germany has lost four and a half million men; Ger- 
many is bleeding at every pore, her reserves of man power are giving 
out, the spirit of indignation is spreading not only among the peoples 
of Europe who have fallen under the yoke of tl: e German invaders, but also 
among the German people themselves, who see no end to the war. The 
German invaders are exerting their last efforts. There is no doubt that 
Germany will be unable to stand such a strain for long. Another few 
months, another half-year, perhaps another year, and Hitler Germany 
must collapse beneath the weight of her crimes. 

Comrades, Red Armymen and Red Navymen, commanders and politi- 
cal instructors, men and women partisans, the whole world is looking to 
you as the force capable of destroying the plundering hordes of German 
invaders. The enslaved peoples of Europe who have fallen under the 
yoke of the German invaders look to you as their liberators. A great 
liberating mission has fallen to your lot. Be worthy of this mission! The 
war you are waging is a war of liberation, a just war. Let the heroic 

64 J.V..STAUN 

images >of -our great forebears Alexander Nevsky, Dimitri Donskoi, 
Ku2ma Minin, Dimitri Pozharsky, Alexander , Suvorov and Mikhail 
Kutuzov-* inspire you in this war I May you be inspired by the victorious 
banner of the great Lenin! 

For the utter defeat of the German invaders I 

Death to the German invaders! 

Long live our glorious Motherland, her liberty and her independence! 
Under the banner of Lenin forward to victory! 

Pravda No. 310, 
8, 1941 





Throughout the civilized world the teachings of Marx evoke the utmost 
hostility and hatred of all bourgeois science (both official and liberal), 
which regards Marxism as a kind of "pernicious sect." And no other 
attitude is to be expected, for there can be no "impartial" social science 
in a society based on class struggle. In one way or another, all official 
and liberal science defends wage-slavery, whereas Marxism has declared 
relentless war on wage-slavery. To expect science to be impartial in a wage- 
slave society is as silly and naive as to expect impartiality from manu- 
facturers on the question whether workers' wages should be increased by 
decreasing the profits of capital. 

But this is not all. The history of philosophy and the history of social 
science show with perfect clarity that there is nothing resembling 
"sectarianism" in Marxism, in the sense of its being a hidebound, 
petrified doctrine, a doctrine which arose away from the highroad of 
development of world civilization. On the contrary, the genius of Marx 
consists precisely in the fact that he furnished answers to questions 
which had already engrossed the foremost minds of humanity. His teach- 
ings arose as a direct and immediate continuation- of the teachings 
of the greatest representatives of philosophy, political economy and 

The Marxian doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is complete 
and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world conception 
which is irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or 
defence of bourgeois oppression. It is the legitimate successor of the 
best that was created by humanity in the nineteenth century in the 
shape of German philosophy, English political economy and French 

On these three sources of Marxism, which are at the same time its 
component parts, we shall briefly dwell. 

60 V. I. LENIN 


The philosophy of Marxism is materialism. Throughout the modem 
history of Europe, and especially at the end of the eighteenth century in 
France, which was the scene of a decisive battle against every kind of 
mediaeval rubbish, against feudalism in institutions and ideas* mate- 
rialism has proved to be the only philosophy that is consistent, true to 
all the teachings of natural science and hostile to superstition, cant and 
so forth. The enemies of democracy therefore tried in every way to "re- 
fute," undermine and defame materialism, and advocated various forms 
of philosophical idealism, which always, in one way or another, amounts 
to an advocacy or support of religion. 

Marx and Engels always defended philosophical materialism in the 
most determined manner and repeatedly explained the profound erro- 
neousness of every deviation from this basis. Their views are most clearly 
and fully expounded in the works of Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and Anti- 
Diihring, which, like the Communist Manifesto, are handbooks for every 
class-conscious worker. 

But Marx did not stop at the materialism of the eighteenth century; 
he advanced philosophy. He enriched it with the acquisitions of German 
classical philosophy, especially of the Hegelian system, which in its turn 
led to the materialism of Feuerbach. The chief of these acquisitions is 
dialectics, i.e., the doctrine of development in its fullest and deepest form, 
free of one-sidedness the doctrine of the relativity of human knowledge, 
which provides us with a reflection of eternally developing matter. The 
latest discoveries of natural science radium, electrons, the transmuta- 
tion of elements have remarkably confirmed Marx's dialectical mate- 
rialism, despite the teachings of the bourgeois philosophers with their 
"new" reversions to old and rotten idealism. 

Deepening and developing philosophical materialism, Marx com- 
pleted it, extended its knowledge of nature to the knowledge of human 
society. Marx's historical materialism was one of the greatest achievements 
of scientific thought. The chaos and arbitrariness that had previously 
reigned in the views on history and politics gave way to a strikingly 
integral and harmonious scientific theory, which shows how, in conse- 
quence of the growth of productive forces, out of one system of social 
life another and higher system develops how capitalism, for instance, 
grows out of feudalism. 

Just as man's knowledge reflects nature (i.e., developing matter), 
which exists independently of him, so man's social knowledge (i.e., his 
various views and doctrines philosophical, religious, political, and so 
forth) reflects the economic system of society. Political institutions are a 

* The reference here is to the bourgeois revolution in France (1789-1793). 


superstructure on the economic foundation. We see, for example, that 
the various political forms of the modern- European states serve to fortify 
the rule of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat. 

Marx's philosophy is finished philosophical materialism, which has 
provided humanity, and especially the working class, with powerful 
instruments of knowledge. 


Having recognized that the economic system is the foundation on 
-which the political superstructure is erected, Marx devoted most atten- 
tion to the study of this economic system. Marx's principal work, Capital, 
is devoted to a study of the economic system of modern, i.e., capitalist, 

Classical political economy, before Marx, evolved in England, the 
most developed of the capitalist countries. Adam Smith and David Ri- 
cardo, by their investigations of the economic system, laid the foundations 
of the labour theory o1 ralu?,. Marx continued their work. He rigidly 
proved and consistently developecl this theory. He showed that the value of 
every commodity is determined by the quantity of socially necessary 
labour time spent on its production. 

Where the bourgeois economists saw a relation of things (the exchange 
of one commodity for another), Marx revealed a relation of men. The 
exchange of commodities expresses the tie by which individual produc- 
ers are bound through the market. Money signifies that this tie is becom- 
ing closer and closer, inseparably binding the entire economic life of 
the individual producers into one whole. Capi faZ signifies a further devel- 
opment of this tie: man's labour power becomes a commodity. The wage- 
worker sells his labour power to the owner of the land, factories and 
instruments of labour. The worker uses one part of the labour day to 
cover the expense of maintaining himself and his family (wages), while 
the other part of the day the worker toils without remuneration, creat- 
ing surplus value for the capitalist, the source of profit, the source of 
the wealth of the capitalist class. 

The doctrine of surplus value is the cornerstone of Marx's economic 

Capital, created by the labour of the worker, presses on the worker by 
ruining the small masters and creating an army of unemployed. In indus- 
try, the victory of large-scale production is at once apparent, but we ob- 
serve the same phenomenon in agriculture as well: the superiority of large- 
scale capitalist agriculture increases, the application of machinery grows, 
peasant economy falls into the noose of money-capital, it declines and 
sinks into ruin, burdened by its backward technique. In agriculture, the 


decline of small-scale production assumes different forms, but the decline 
itself is an indisputable fact. 

By destroying small-scale production, capital leads to an increase in 
productivity of labour and to the creation of a monopoly position for the 
associations of big capitalists. Production itself becomes more and more 
social hundreds of thousands and millions of workers become bound 
together in a systematic economic organism but the product of the 
collective labour is appropriated by a handful of capitalists. The anarchy 
of production grows, as do crises, the furious chase after markets and the 
insecurity of existence of the mass of the population. 

While increasing the dependence of the workers on capital, the cap* 
italist system creates the great power of united labour. 

Marx traced the development of capitalism from the first germs of 
commodity economy, from simple exchange, to its highest forms, to large- 
scale production. 

And the experience of all capitalist countries, old and new, is clearly 
demonstrating the truth of this Marxian doctrine to increasing numbers 
of workers every year. 

Capitalism has triumphed all over the world, but this triumph is only 
the prelude to the triumph of labour over capital. 


When feudalism was overthrown, and "free" capitalist society appeared 
on God's earth, it at once became apparent that this freedom meant a new 
system of oppression and exploitation of the toilers. Various Socialist 
doctrines immediately began to arise as a reflection of and protest against 
this oppression. But early Socialism was Utopian Socialism. It criticized 
capitalist society, it condemned and damned it, it dreamed of its destruc- 
tion, it indulged in fancies of a better order and endeavoured to convince 
the rich of the immorality of exploitation. 

But Utopian Socialism could not point the real way out. It could not 
explain the essence of wage- slavery under capitalism, nor discover the laws 
of its development, nor point to the social force which is capable of 
becoming the creator of a new society. 

Meanwhile, the stormy revolutions which everywhere in Europe, and 
especially in France, accompanied the fall of feudalism, of serfdom, more 
and more clearly revealed the struggle of classes as the basis and the motive- 
force of the whole development. 

Not a single victory of political freedom over the feudal class was won 
except against desperate resistance. Not a single capitalist country- 
evolved on a more or less free and democratic basis except by a life and 
death struggle between the various classes of capitalist society. 


The genius of Marx consists in the fact that he was able before anybody 
else to draw from this and consistently apply the deduction that world! 
history teaches. This deduction is the doctrine of the class struggle. 

People always were and always will be the stupid victims of deceit and 
self-deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interests of some class 
behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and 
promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be 
fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old 
institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is main- 
tained by the forces of some ruling classes. And there is only one way of 
smashing the resistance of these classes, and that is to find, in the very so- 
ciety which surrounds us, and to enlighten and organize for the struggle^ 
the forces which can and, owing to their social position, must con- 
stitute a power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new* 

Marx's philosophical materialism has alone shown the proletariat the 
way out of the spiritual slavery in which all oppressed classes have hith- 
erto languished. Marx's economic theory has alone explained the true 
position of the proletariat in the general system of capitalism. 

Independent organ zat ons of the proletariat are multiplying all 
over the world, from America to Japan and from Sweden to South Africa- 
The proletariat is becoming enlightened and educated by waging its 
class struggle, it is ridding itself of the prejudices of bourgeois society; it 
is rallying its ranks ever more closely and is learning to gauge the measure 
of its successes, it is steeling its forces and is growing irresistibly. 

Frosvcshcheniye No. 3, 
March 1913 


The main thing in the doctrine of Marx is that it brings out the histor- 
ic role of the proletariat as the builder of a Socialist society. Has the 
progress of world events confirmed this doctrine since it was expounded 
by Marx? 

Marx first advanced it in 1844. The Communist Manifesto of Marx and 
Engels, published in 1848, already gives an integral and systematic 
exposition of this doctrine, which has remained the best exposition to 
*his day. Subsequent world history clearly falls into three main periods: 
1) from the Revolution of 1848 to the Paris Commune (1871); 2) from the 
Pai-is Commune to the Russian Revolution (1905); 3) since the Russian 

Let us see what has been the destiny of Marx's doctrine in each of these 

A,t the beginning of the first period Marx's doctrine by no means domi- 
nated t It was only one of the extremely numerous factions or trends of Social- 
isflci. The forms of Socialism which did dominate were in the main akin 
to/our Narodism: non-comprehension of the materialist basis of historical 
rciovement, inability to assign the role and significance of each class in 
'capitalist society, concealment of the bourgeois essence of democratic 
reforms under diverse, pseudo-socialistic phrases about "the people," 
"justice," "right," etc. 

The Revolution of 1848 struck a fatal blow at -all these vociferous, 
motley and ostentatious forms of pre- Marxian Socialism. In all countries 
the revolution revealed the various classes of society in action. The shoot- 
ing down of the workers by the republican bourgeoisie in the June Days of 
1848 in Paris finally established that the proletariat alone was Socialist 
by nature. The liberal bourgeoisie feared the "independence of this class a 
hundred times more than it did any kind of reaction. The craven liberals 
grovelled before reaction. The peasantry were content with the aboli- 



tion of the relics of feudalism and joined the supporters of order, only 
wavering at times between workers 9 democracy and bourgeois liberalism. 
All doctrines of now-class Socialism and non-class politics proved to be 
sheer nonsense. 

The Paris Commune (1871) completed this development of bourgeois 
reforms; the republic, i.e., the form of state organization in which class 
relations appear in their most unconcealed form, had only the heroism of the 
proletariat to thank for its consolidation. 

In all the other European countries a more entangled and less finished 
development also led to a definitely shaped bourgeois society. Towards the 
end of the first period (1848-71) a period of storms and revolutions pre- 
Marxian Socialism died away. Independent proletarian parties were born: 
the First International (1864-72) and the German Social-Democratic 


The second period (1872-1904) was distinguished from the first by its 
"peaceful" character, by the absence of re volutions. The West had finished 
with bourgeois revolutions. The East had not yet icacled that stage. 

The West entered a phase of "peaceful" preparation for the future era 
of change. Socialist parties, basically proletarian, were formed everywhere 
and learned to make use of bourgeois parliamentarism and to create their 
own daily press, their educational institutions, their trade unions and their 
co-operative societies. The Marxian doctrine gained a complete victory and 
spread. The process of selection and accumulation of the forces of the prole- 
tariat and of the preparation of the proletariat for the impending battles 
progressed slowly but steadily. 

The dialectics of history were such that the theoretical victory of 
Marxism obliged its enemies to disguise themselves as Marxists. Liberal- 
ism, rotten to the core, attempted a revival in the form of Socialist 
opportunism. The opportunists interpreted the period of preparation of forces 
for the great battles as a renunciation of these battles. The improvement 
of the position of the slaves for the struggle against wage-slavery they 
represented as the necessity for the slaves to sell their right to liberty 
for a mess of pottage. They pusillanimously preached "social peace" 
(i.e., peace with the slave-owners), the renunciation of the class strug- 
gle, and so forth. They had many adherents among Socialist members of 
parliament, various officials of the labour movement, and the "sympathe- 
tic" intellectuals. 

5 G8B 

66 V. I. LENIN 


But the opportunists had scarcely congratulated themselves on "social 
peace" and the needlessness of storms under "democracy" when a new source 
of great world storms opened up in Asia. The Russian revolution was 
followed by the Turkish, the Persian and the Chinese revolutions. It is in 
this era*of storms and their "repercussion" on Europe that we are now 
living. Whatever may be the fate of the great Chinese Republic, against 
which the various "civilized" hyenas are now baring their teeth, no power 
on earth can restore the old serfdom in Asia, or wipe out the heroic democ- 
racy of the masses of the people in the Asiatic and semi- Asiatic countries. 

Certain people, who were inattentive to the conditions of prepara- 
tion and development of the mass struggle, were driven to despair and to 
anarchism by the prolonged postponements of the decisive struggle against 
capitalism in Europe. We can now see how short-sighted and pusillanimous 
this anarchist despair is. 

The fact that Asia, with its population of eight hundred million, has 
been drawn into the struggle for these same European ideals should 
inspire us with courage and not despair. 

The Asiatic revolutions have revealed the same spinelessness and base- 
ness of liberalism, the same exceptional importance of the independence of 
the democratic masses, and the same sharp line of division between the 
proletariat and the bourgeoisie of all kinds. After the experience both of 
Europe and Asia, whoever now speaks of non-class politics and of non~ 
class Socialism simply deserves to be put in a cage and exhibited along- 
side of the Australian kangaroo. 

After Asia, Europe has also begun to stir, although not in the Asiatic 
way. The "peaceful" period of 1872-1904 has passed completely, never to 
return. The high cost of living and the oppression of the trusts is leading 
to an unprecedented accentuation of the economic struggle, which has roused 
even the British workers, who have been most corrupted by liberalism. 
Before our eyes a political crisis is brewing even in that extreme "diehard," 
bourgeois- Junker country, Germany. Feverish armaments and the poli- 
cy of imperialism are turning modern Europe into a "social peace" which 
is more like a barrel of gunpowder than anything else. And at the same 
time the decay of all the bourgeois parties and the maturing of the prole- 
tariat are steadily progressing. 

Each of the three great periods of world history since the appearance of 
Marxism has brought Marxism new confirmation and new triumphs. But 
a still greater triumph awaits Marxism, as the doctrine of the proletariat, 
in the period of history that is now opening. 

Pravda No. 50, 
March 1. 1913 


There is a saying that if geometrical axioms affected human interests 
attempts would certainly be made to refute them. Theories of the natural 
sciences which conflict with the old prejudices of theology provoked, 
and still provoke, the most rabid opposition. No wonder, therefore, 
that the Marxian doctrine, which directly serves to enlighten and organize 
the advanced class in modern society, which indicates the tasks of this 
class and which proves the inevitable (by virtue of economic development) 
replacement of the present system by a new order no wonder that this 
doctrine had to fight at every step in its course. 

There is no need to speak of bourgeois science and philosophy, which 
are officially taught by official professors in order to befuddle the rising 
generation of the possessing classes and to "coach" it against the internal 
and foreign enemy. This science will not even hear of Marxism, declaring 
that it has been refuted and annihilated. The young scientists who are 
building their careers by refuting Socialism, and the decrepit elders who 
preserve the traditions of all the various outworn "systems," attack 
Marx with equal zeal. The progress of Marxism and the fact that its ideas 
are spreading and taking firm hold among the working class inevitably 
tend to increase the frequency and intensity of these bourgeois attacks 
on Marxism, which only becomes stronger, more hardened, and more tena- 
cious every time it is "annihilated" by official science. 

But Marxism by no means consolidated its position immediately even 
among doctrines which are connected with the struggle of the working 
class and which are current mainly among the proletariat. In the first 
half-century of its existence (from the 'forties on) Marxism was engaged in 
combating theories fundamentally hostile to it. In the first half of the 
'forties Marx and Engels demolished the radical Young Hegelians, who 
professed philosophical idealism. At the end of the 'forties the struggle 
invaded the domain of economic doctrine, in opposition to Proudhonism. 
The 'fifties saw the completion of this struggle: the criticism of the par- 
ties and doctrines which manifested themselves in the stormy year of 
1848. In the 'sixties the struggle was transferred from the domain of gener- 
al theory to a domain closer to the direct labour movement: the ejection 
of Bakunism from the International. In the early 'seventies the stage in 
5* 67 

68 V. I. LENIN 

Germany was occupied for a short while by the Proudhonist Miihlberger, 
and in the latter 'seventies by the positivist Duhring. But the influence 
of both on the proletariat was already absolutely insignificant. Marxism 
was already gaining an unquestionable victory over all other ideologies in 
the labour movement. 

By the 'nineties this victory was in the main completed. Even in the 
Latin countries, where the traditions of Proudhonism held their ground 
longest ofall, the labour parties actually based their programs and tactics 
on a Marxist foundation. The revived international organization of the 
labour movement in the shape of periodical international congresses 
from the outset, and almost without a struggle, adopted theMarxist stand- 
point in all essentials. But after Marxism had ousted all the more or less 
consistent doctrines hostile to it, the tendencies expressed in those doctrines 
began to seek other channels. The forms and motives of the struggle 
changed, but the struggle continued. And the second half-century in the 
existence of Marxism began (in the 'nineties) with the struggle of a trend 
hostile to Marxism within Marxism. 

Bernstein, a one-time orthodox Marxist, ga\e his name to this current 
by making the most noise and advancing the most integral expression 
of the amendments to Marx, the revision of Marx, revisionism. Even in 
Russia, where, owing to the economic backwardness of the country and 
the preponderance of a peasant population oppressed by the relics of serf- 
dom, non-Marxian Socialism has naturally held its ground longest 
of all, it is plainly passing into revisionism before our very eyes. Both in 
the agrarian question (the program of the municipalization of all land) 
and in general questions of program and tactics, our social -Narodniks are 
more and more substituting "amendments" to Marx for the moribund and 
obsolescent remnants of the old system, which in its own way was integ- 
ral and fundamentally hostile to Marxism. 

Pre-Marxian Socialism has been smashed. It is now continuing the 
struggle not on its own independent soil but on the general soil of Marxism 
as revisionism. Let us, then, examine the ideological content of revisionism. 

In the domain of philosophy revisionism clung to the skirts of bour- 
geois professorial "science." The professors went "back to Kant" and 
revisionism followed in the wake of the neo-Kantians. The professors re- 
peated, for the thousandth time, the threadbare banalities urged by the 
priests against philosophical materialism and the revisionists, smiling 
condescendingly, mumbled (word for word after the latest HandbucK) 
that materialism had been "refuted" long ago. The professors treated 
Hegel as a "dead dog," and while they themselves preached idealism, 
only an idealism a thousand times more petty and banal than Hegel's, 
they contemptuously shrugged their shoulders at dialectics and the revi- 
sionists floundered after them into the swamp of philosophical vulgariza- 
tion of science, replacing "artful" (and revolutionary) dialectics by "sim- 
ple" (and tranquil) "evolution." The professors earned their official salaries 


by adjusting both their idealist and "critical" systems to the dominant 
mediaeval "philosophy" (/.e., to theology) and the revisionists drew close 
to them and endeavoured to make religion a "private affair," not in rela- 
tion to the modern state, but in relation to the party of the advanced class. 

What the real class significance of such "amendments" to Marx was 
need not be said it is clear enough. \X'e shall simply note that the only 
Marxist in the international Social-Democratic movement who criticized 
from the standpoint of consistent dialectical materialism the incredible 
banalities uttered by the revisionists was Plekhanov. This must be stressed 
all the more emphatically since thoroughly mistaken attempts are being 
made in our day to smuggle in the old and reactionary philosophical rub- 
bish under the guise of criticizing Plekhanov 's tactical opportunism.* 

Passing to political economy, it must be noted first of all that the 
"amendments" of the revisionists in this domain were much more compre- 
hensive and circumstantial; attempts were made to influence the public 
by adducing "new data of economic development." It was said that con- 
centration and the ousting of small-scale production by large-scale pro- 
duction do not occur in agriculture at all while concentration 
proceeds extremely slowly in commerce and industry. It was said that 
crises had now become rarer and of less force, and that the cartels 
and trusts would probably enable capital to do away with crises alto- 
gether. It was said that the "theory of the collapse" to which capitalism 
is heading, was unsound, owing to the tendency of class contradictions 
to become less acute and milder. It was said, finally, that it would not 
be amiss to correct Marx's theory of value in accordance with Bohm- 

The fight against the revisionists on these questions resulted in as fruit- 
ful a revival of the theoretical thought of international Socialism as fol- 
lowed from Engels' controversy with Duhring twenty years earlier. The 
arguments of the revisionists were analysed with the help of facts and 
figures. It was proved that the revisionists were systematically presenting 
modern small-scale production in a favourable light. The technical and 

* See Studies in the l^htlosophy of Mum tun hv Bogdanov, Bazarov and others. 
This is not the place to discuss this book, pnd I must at present confine myself 
to stating that in the very near future 1 shall show in a series of articles or in 
a separate pamphlet that everything I have said in the text about the neo-Kantian 
revisionists essentially applies also to these "new" nco-Humist and neo-Berkelcyan 
revisionists. (In his Materialism and Kmpirio-Criticifini, [C7. Lenin, Selected Works, 
Eng. ed., Vol. XI.] which he wrote shortly after, Lenin subjected "Bogdanov and the 
rest of the revisionists, together with their philosophical teachers Avenarius 
andMach to a withering criticism. This work of Lenin's is a defence of the theo- 
retical foundations of Marxism dialectical and historical materialism, a gen- 
eralization from the standpoint of materialism of all the achievements of science, 
and of natural science in the first place, as from the time of Engels* death to the 
publication of the work in question, and the theoretical preparation for the Bolshe- 
vik Party. Ed.) 

70 V. I. LENIN 

commercial superiority of large-scale production over small-scale produc- 
tion both in industry and in agriculture is proved by irrefutable facts. 
But commodity production is far less developed in agriculture, and modern 
statisticians and economists are usually not very skilful in picking out 
the special branches (sometimes even operations) in agriculture which 
indicate that agriculture is being progressively drawn into the exchange 
of world economy. Small-scale production maintains itself on the ruins 
of natural economy by a steady deterioration in nourishment, by chronic 
starvation, by the lengthening of the working day, by the deterioration 
in the quality of cattle and in the care given to cattle, in a word, by the 
very methods whereby handicraft production maintained itself against 
capitalist manufacture. Every advance in science and technology inevita- 
bly and relentlessly undermines the foundations of small-scale production 
in capitalist society, and it is the task of Socialist economics to inves- 
tigate this process in all its often complicated and intricate forms and 
to demonstrate to the small producer the impossibility of holding his 
own under capitalism, the hopelessness of peasant farming under capitalism, 
and the necessity of the peasant adopting the standpoint of the proletarian. 
On this question the revisionists sinned from the scientific standpoint by 
superficially generalizing from facts selected one-sidedly and without 
reference to the system of capitalism as a whole; they sinned from 
the political standpoint by the fact that they inevitably, whether they 
wanted to or not, invited or urged the peasant to adopt the standpoint 
of the master (i.e., the standpoint of the bourgeoisie), instead of urging 
him to adopt the standpoint of the revolutionary proletarian. 

The position of revisionism was even worse as far as the theory of crises 
and the theory of collapse were concerned. Only for the shortest space of 
time could people, and then only the most shortsighted, think of remodel- 
ling the foundations of the Marxian doctrine under the influence of a few 
years of industrial boom and prosperity. Facts very soon made it clear to 
the revisionists that crises were not a thing of the past: prosperity was 
followed by a crisis. The forms, the sequence, the picture of the particular 
crises changed, but crises remained an inevitable component of the capital- 
ist system. While uniting production, the cartels and trusts at the same 
time, and in a way that was obvious to all, aggravated the anarchy of 
production, the insecurity of existence of the proletariat and the oppres- 
sion of capital, thus intensifying class contradictions to an unprecedented 
degree. That capitalism is moving towards collapse in the sense both 
of individual political and economic crises and of the complete wreck of 
the entire capitalist system has been made very clear, and on a very large 
scale, precisely by the latest giant trusts. The recent financial crisis in 
America and the frightful increase of unemployment all over Europe, to 
say nothing of the impending industrial crisis to which many symptoms 
are pointing all this has brought it about that the recent "theories" 
of the revisionists are being forgotten by everybody, even, it seems, by 


many of the revisionists 'themselves. But the lessons which this instability 
of the intellectuals has given the working class must not be forgotten. 

As to the theory of value, it should only be said that apart from hints 
and sighs, exceedingly vague, for Bohm-Bawerk, the revisionists have here 
contributed absolutely nothing, and have therefore left no traces whatever 
on the development of scientific thought. 

In the domain of politics, revisionism tried to revise the very founda- 
tion of Marxism, namely, the doctrine of the class struggle. Political free- 
dom, democracy and universal suffrage remove the ground for the class 
struggle we were told and render untrue the old proposition of the 
Communist Manifesto that the workers have no country. For, they said, 
since the "will of the majority" prevails under democracy, one must 
neither regard the state as an organ of class rule, nor reject alliances with 
the progressive, social-reformist bourgeoisie against the reactionaries. 

It cannot be disputed that these objections of the revisionists consti- 
tuted a fairly harmonious system of views, namely, the old and well- 
known liberal bourgeois views. The liberals have always said that bour- 
geois parliamentarism destroys classes and class divisions, since the right 
to vote and the right to participate in state affairs are shared by all citi. 
zens without distinction. The whole history of Europe in the second half 
of the nineteenth century, and the whole history of the Russian revolu- 
tion at the beginning of the twentieth, clearly show how absurd such views 
are. Economic distinctions are aggravated and accentuated rather than 
mitigated under the freedom of "democratic" capitalism. Parliamentarism 
does not remove, but rather lays bare the innate character even of the most 
democratic bourgeois republics as organs of class oppression. By helping 
to enlighten and to organize immeasurably wider masses of the popula- 
tion than those which previously took an active part in political events, 
parliamentarism does not make for the elimination of crises and political 
revolutions, but for the maximum accentuation of civil war during such 
revolutions. The events in Paris in the spring of 1871 and the events in 
Russia in the winter of 1905 showed as clear as clear could be how inevitably 
this accentuation comes about. The French bourgeoisie without a moment's 
hesitation made a deal with the common national enemy, the foreign 
army which had ruined its fatherland, in order to crush the proletarian 
movement. Whoever does not understand the inevitable inner dialectics of 
parliamentarism and bourgeois democracy which tends to an even more 
acute decision of a dispute by mass violence than formerly will never be 
able through parliamentarism to conduct propaganda and agitation that 
are consistent in principle and really prepare the working-class masses to 
take a victorious part in such "disputes." The experience of alliances, agree- 
ments and blocs with the social- reformist liberals in the West and 
with the liberal reformists (Constitutional-Democrats) in the Russian 
revolution convincingly showed that these agreements only blunt the con- 
sciousness of the masses, that they weaken rather than enhance the 

72 V. I. LENIN 

actual significance of their struggle by linking the fighters with the elements 
who are least capable of fighting and who are most vacillating and 
treacherous. French Millerandism the biggest experiment in apply- 
ing revisionist political tactics on a wide, a really national scale has 
provided a practical judgement of revisionism which will never be 
forgotten by the proletariat all over the world. 

A natural complement to the economic and political tendencies of 
revisionism was its attitude to the final aim of the Socialist movement. 
"The movement is everything, the final aim is nothing" this catch- 
phrase of Bernstein's expresses the substance of revisionism better than 
many long arguments. The policy of revisionism consists in determining 
its conduct from case to case, in adapting itself to the events of the day 
and to the chops and changes of petty politics; it consists in forgetting the 
basic interests of the proletariat, the main features of the capitalist sys- 
tem as a whole and of capitalist evolution as a whole, and in sacrificing 
these basic interests for the real or assumed advantages of the moment. 
And it patently follows from the very nature of this policy that it may as- 
sume an infinite variety of forms, and that every more or less "new" ques- 
tion, every more or less unexpected and unforeseen turn of events, even 
though it may change the basic line of development only to an insignifi- 
cant degree and only for the shortest period of time, will always inevitably 
give rise to one or another variety of revisionism. 

The inevitability of revisionism is determined by its class roots in mod- 
ern society. Revisionism is an international phenomenon. No more or less 
informed and thinking Socialist can have the slightest doubt that the rela- 
tion between the orthodox and the Bernsteinites in Germany, the Guesd- 
ites and the Jauresites (and now particularly the Broussites) in France, 
the Social-Democratic Federation and the Independent Labour Party 
in Great Britain, de Brouckere and Vandervelde in Belgium, the integral- 
ists and the reformists in Italy, and the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in 
Russia is everywhere essentially similar, notwithstanding the gigantic vari- 
ety of national and historically-derived conditions in the present state of 
all these countries. In reality, the "division" within the present interna- 
tional Socialist movement is now proceeding along one line in all the vari- 
ous countries of the world, which testifies to a tremendous advance compared 
with thirty or forty years ago, when it was not like tendencies within a 
united international Socialist movement that were combating one another 
within the various countries. And the "revisionism from the Left" 
which has begun to take shape in the Latin countries, such as "revolu- 
tionary syndicalism," is also adapting itself to Marxism while "amending" 
it; Labriola in Italy and Lagardelle in France frequently appeal from Marx 
wrongly understood to Marx rightly understood. 

We cannot stop here to analyse the ideological substance of this revi- 
sionism; it has not yet by far developed to the extent that opportunist re- 
visionism has, it has not yet become international, and it has not yet 


stood the test of one big practical battle with a Socialist Party even in one 
country. We shall therefore confine ourselves to the "revisionism from 
the Right" described above. 

Wherein lies its inevitability in capitalist society? Why is it more pro- 
found than the differences of national peculiarities and degrees o f capitalist 
development? Because always in every capitalist country, side by side with 
the proletariat, there are broad strata of the petty bourgeoisie, small mas- 
ters. Capitalism arose and is constantly arising out of small production. 
A number of "middle strata" are inevitably created anew by capitalism 
(appendages to the factory, homework, and small workshops scattered 
all over the country in view of the requirements of big indu tries, such 
as the bicycle and automobile industries, etc.). These new small producers 
are just as inevitably cast back into the ranks of the proletariat. It is 
quite natural that the petty-bourgeois world conception should again and 
again crop up in the ranks of the broad labour parties. It is quite natural 
that this should be so, and it always will be so right up to the peripety 
of the proletarian revolution, for it would be a grave mistake to 
think that the "complete" proletarianization of the majority of the popu- 
lation is essential before such a revolution can be achieved. What we now 
frequently experience only in the domain of ideology disputes over the- 
oretical amendments to Marx what now crops up in practice only over 
individual partial issues of the labour movement as tactical differences 
with the revisionists and splits on these grounds, will all unfailingly 
have to be experienced by the working class on an incomparably larger 
scale when the proletarian revolution accentuates all issues and concen- 
trates all differences on points of the most immediate importance in deter- 
mining the conduct of the masses, and makes it necessary in the heat of 
the fight to distinguish enemies from friends and to cast out bad allies, 
so as to be able to deal decisive blows at the enemv. 

The ideological struggle waged by revolutionary Marxism against 
revisionism at the end of the nineteenth century is but the prelude to the 
great revolutionary battles of the proletariat, which is marching forward 
to the complete victory of its cause despite all the waverings and weak- 
nesses of the petty bourgeoisie. 

Originally published in a symposium 
entitled In Memory of Karl Marx, 
St. Petersburg, 1908 



(A RKPL\ TO ARTICLES IN Russkoyc Bogatstvo 

Russkoye Bogatstvo has started a campaign against the Social-Demo- 
crats. Last year, in issue No. 10, one of the leading lights of this journal, 
Mr. N. Mikhailovsky, announced a forthcoming ""polemic" against "our 
so-called Marxists, or Social-Democrats." Then followed an article by 
Mr. S. Krivenko entitled "Our Cultural Free Lances" (in No. 12), and 
one by Mr. N. Mikhailovsky entitled "Literature and Life" (Riisskoye 
Bogatstvo, 1894 Nos. 1 and 2). As to the magazine's own views on 
our economic realities, these have been most fully expounded by 
Mr. S. Yuzhakov in an article entitled "Problems of the Economic Develop- 
ment of Russia" (in Nos. 11 and 12). While in general claiming to pre- 
sent in their magazine the ideas and tactics of the true "friends of the 
people," these gentlemen are arch-enemies of the Social-Democrats. 
So let us examine these "friends of the people," their criticism of Marxism, 
their ideas and their tactics. 

Mr. N. Mikhailovsky devotes his attention chiefly to the theoretical 
principles of Marxism and therefore specially stops to examine the ma- 
terialist conception of history. After giving a general outline of the 
contents of the voluminous Marxist literature devoted to this doctrine, 
Mr. Mikhailovsky launches his criticism with the following tirade: 

"First of all," he says, "the question naturally arises: in which 
of his works did Marx set forth his materialist conception of his- 
tory? In Capital he gave us a model of logical force combined with 
erudition and a painstaking investigation both of all the econom- 
ic literature and of the pertinent facts. He brought to light theore- 
ticians of economic science who had been long forgotten or who 
are not known to anybody today, and did not overlook the most 
minute details in the reports of factory inspectors or the evidence 
given by experts before various special commissions; in a word, 
he overhauled an overwhelming amount of factual material, partly 


78 V. I. LENIN 

in order to provide arguments for, and partly to illustrate, his eco- 
nomic theories. If he has created a 'completely new' conception 
of the historical process, if he has explained the whole past of man- 
kind from a new point of view and has summarized all philosophi- 
co-historical theories that have hitherto existed, he has of course 
done so with equal thoroughness: he has inceed reviewed and sub- 
jected to critical analysis all the known theories of the historical 
process and analysed a mass of facts of world history. The 
comparison with Darwin, so customary in Marxist literature, 
serves still more to confirm this idea. What does Darwin's whole 
work amount to? Certain closely inter-connected generalizing ideas 
crowning a veritable Mont Blanc of factual material. Where is the 
corresponding work by Marx? It does not exist. And not only does 
no such work by Marx exist, but there is none to be found in all Marx- 
ist literature, in spite of its voluminousness and extensiveness." 

This whole tirade is highly characteristic and helps us to realize how 
little the public understand Capital and Marx. Overwhelmed by the vast 
weight and cogency of the exposition, they bow and scrape before 
Marx, laud him, and at the same time entirely lose sight of the basic 
content of his doctrine and blithely continue to chant the old songs of 
"subjective sociology." In this connection one cannot help recalling the 
pointed epigraph Kautsky selected for his book on the economic teach- 
ings of Marx: 

Wer wird nicht einen Klopstock loben? 
Doch wird ihn jeder lesen? Nein. 
Wir wo lien weniger erhoben 
Und fleissiger gelesen sein!* 

Just so! Mr. Mikhailovsky should praise Marx less and read him more 
diligently, or, better still, put a little more thought into what he is 

"In Capital Marx gave us a model of logical force combined with eru- 
dition," says Mr. Mikhailovsky. In this phrase Mr. Mikhailovsky has 
given us a model of brilliant phrasemongering combined with absence 
of meaning a certain Marxist observed. And the observation is an en- 
tirely just one. For, indeed, how did this logical force of Marx's manifest 
itself? What were its effects? ReadingMr. Mikhailovsky 's tirade just quot- 
ed one might think that this force was entirely concentrated on "eco- 
nomic theories," in the narrowest sense of the term and nothing more. 
And in order still further to emphasize the narrow limits of the field in 
which Marx displayed his logical force, Mr. Mikhailovsky lays stress on 

* Who would not praise a Klopstock? But will everybody read him? No. 
We would like to be exalted less, but read more diligently. (Leasing.) Ed. 


the "most minute details," on the "pains takingness," on the "theoreti- 
cians who are not known to anybody," and so forth. It would appear that 
Marx contributed nothing essentially new or noteworthy to the methods 
of constructing these theories, that he left the limits of economic science 
just as they had been with the earlier economists, not extending them and 
not contributing a "completely new" conception of the science itself. 
Yet anybody who has read Capital knows that this is absolutely untrue. 
In this connection one cannot refrain from recalling what Mr. Mikhailov- 
sky wrote about Marx sixteen years ago when arguing with that vulgar 
bourgeois, Mr. Y. Zhukovsky. Perhaps the times were different, 
perhaps sentiments were fresher at any rate, the tone and content of 
Mr. Mikhailovsky's article was then entirely different . 

"' . . . It is the ultimate aim of this work to lay bare the economic law 
of development (in the original das okonomische Bewegungsgesetz the 
economic law of motion) of modern society/ KarlMarxsaid in reference 
to his Capital, and he adhered to this program with strict consistency." 
So said Mr. Mikhailovsky in 1877. Let us more closely examine this pro- 
gram, which as the critic admits has been adhered to with strict con- 
sistency. It is "to lay bare the economic law of development of modern 

The very formulation confronts us with several questions that require 
elucidation. Why does Marx speak of "modern" society, when all the 
economists who preceded him spoke of society in general? In what 
sense does he use the word "modern," by what tokens does he distin- 
guish this modern society? And further, what is meant by the economic 
law of motion of society? We are accustomed to hear from economists 
and this, by the way, is one of the favourite ideas of the publicists and 
economists of the milieu to which the Eusskoye Bogatstvo belongs that 
only the production of values is subject to economic laws alone, whereas 
distribution, they declare, depends on politics, on the nature of the 
influence exercised on society by the government power, the intelligentsia, 
and so forth. In what sense, then, does Marx speak of the economic law 
of motion of society, even referring to this law as a Naturgesetz a law 
of nature? How is this to be understood, when so many of our native so- 
ciologists have covered reams of paper with asseverations to the effect 
that the sphere of social phenomena is distinct from the sphere of na- 
tural-historical phenomena, and that therefore an absolutely distinct 
"subjective method of sociology" must be applied in the investigation 
of the former? 

These perplexities arise naturally and necessarily, and, of course, 
one must be utterly ignorant to evade them when dealing with Capital. 
In order to understand these questions, let us first quote one more pas- 
sage from the Preface to Capital only a few lines lower down: 

"[From] my standpoint," says Marx, "the evolution of the economic 
formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history." 

80 V. I. LENIN 

One has merely to compare, say, the two passages just quoted from 
the Preface in order to see that this is precisely the basic idea of Capital, 
which, as we have heard, is pursued, with strict consistency and 
with rare logical force. In connection with all this, let us first note two 
circumstances: Marx speaks only,, of one "economic formation of society," 
the capitalist formation; that is, he says that he investigated the law 
of development of this formation only and of no other. That, in the first 
place. Arid in the second place, let us note the methods used by Marx 
in working out his deductions. These methods consisted, as we have just 
heard from Mr. Mikhailovsky, in a "painstaking investigation ... of the 
pertinent facts." 

Let us now proceed to examine this basic idea of Capital 9 which our sub- 
jective philosopher so adroitly tries to evade. In what, piojrerly sf caking, 
does the concept economic formation of society consist, and in what sense 
must the development of such a formation be regarded as a process of na- 
tural history? such are the questions that confront us. I have already 
pointed out that from the standpoint of the old economists and sociolo- 
gists (not old for Russia), the concept economic formation of society is 
entirely superfluous: they talk of society in general, they argue with 
Spencer and his like about the nature of society in general, about the 
aims and essence of society in general, and so forth. In their reason- 
ings, these subjective sociologists rely on such arguments as that the 
aim of society is to benefit all its members, that therefore justice demands 
such and such an organization, and that a system that is out of har- 
mony with this ideal organization ("Sociology must start with a uto- 
pia" these words of one of the authors of the subjective method, 
Mr. Mikhailovsky, are eminently characteristic of the very essence of their 
methods) is abnormal and should be set aside. 

"The essential task of sociology," Mr. Mikhailovsky, for in- 
stance, argues, "is to ascertain the social conditions under which any 
particular requirement of human nature is satisfied." 

As you see, this sociologist is interested only in a society that satisfies 
human nature, and is not at all interested in social formations social 
formations, moreover, that may be based on phenomena so out of har- 
mony with "human nature" as the enslavement of the majority by 
the minority. You also see that from the standpoint of this sociolo- 
gist there can even be no question of regarding the development of soci- 
ety as a process of natural history. ("Having recognized something to 
be desirable or undesirable, the sociologist must discover the conditions 
whereby the desirable can be realized, or the undesirable eliminated" 
"whereby such and such ideals can be realized" this same Mr. Mikhai- 
lovsky reasons.) Furthermore, there can even be no question of devel- 
opment, but only of deviations from the "desirable," of "defects" that 
may have occurred in history as a result ... as a result of the fact that 


people were not clever enough, did not properly understand what hu- 
man nature' demands, were unable to discover the conditions required 
for the realization of such a rational system. It is obvious that 
Marx's basic idea that the development of the economic formations of 
society is a process of natural history cuts the ground from under this 
childish morality which lays claim to the title of sociology. By what 
method did Marx arrive at this basic idea? He arrived at it by singling out 
from the various spheres of social life the economic sphere, by singling 
out from all social relations the relations of production as being 
the basic and prime relations that determine all other relations. Marx 
himself has described the course of his reasoning on this question as 

"The first work which I undertook for a solution of the doubts 
which assailed me was a critical review of the Hegelian philosophy 
of law. . . . My investigation led to the result that legal relations 
like political forms ... are to be grasped neither from themselves 
nor from the so-called general development of the human mind, 
but rather have their roots in the material conditions of life, the 
sum total of which Hegel, in accordance with the procedure of the 
Englishmen and Frenchmen of the eighteenth century, combines 
under the name of 'civil society. ' And the anatomy of civil society 
is to be sought in political economy. . . . The general result at 
which I arrived . . . can be briefly formulated as follows: In the social 
production which men.carry on they enter into definite relations . . . 
these iclatioris of production correspond to a definite stage of develop- 
ment of their material forces of production. The sum total of these 
relations of production constitutes the economic structure of so- 
ciety the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political 
superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social 
consciousness. The mode of production . . . determines the social, 
political and intellectual life processes in general. It is not the 
consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the con- 
trary, their social being that determines their consciousness. At 
a certain stage of their development, the . . . forces of production . . . 
come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or 
what is but a legal expression for the same thing with the prop- 
erty relations within which they have been at work before. From 
forms of development of the forces of production these relations 
turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. 
With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense 
superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering 
such transformations a distinction should always be made between the 
material transformation of the economic conditions of production, 
which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and 
the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic in short, 


82 V. I. LENIN 

ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and 
fight it out. Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what 
he thinks of himself, so can we not judge of such a period of trans- 
formation by its own consciousness; on the contrary this conscious- 
ness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material 
life, from the existing conflict between the social forces of produc- 
tion and the relations of production. ... In broad outlines we 
can designate the Asiatic, the ancient, the feudal, and the modern 
bourgeois modes of production as so many epochs in the progress, 
of the economic formation of society."* 

This idea of materialism in sociology was in itself a piece of genius.. 
Naturally, for the rime being it was only a hypothesis, but it was the 
first hypothesis to create the possibility of a strictly scientific approach 
to historical and social problems. Hitherto, being unable to descend to 
such simple and primary relations as the relations of production, the 
sociologists proceeded directly to investigate and study the political 
and legal forms. They stumbled on the fact that these forms arise out 
of certain ideas held by men in the period in question and there they 
stopped. It appeared as if social relations were established by man con- 
sciously. But this deduction, which was fully expressed in the idea of the 
Oontrat Social** (traces of which are very noticeable in all systems of 
Utopian Socialism), was in complete contradiction to all historical obser- 
vations. Never has it been the case, nor is it the case now, that the mem- 
bers of society are aware of the sum-total of the social relations in which 
they live as something definite and integral, as something pervaded by 
some principle. On the contrary, the mass of people adapt themselves to 
these relations unconsciously, and are so little aware of them as specific 
historical social relations, that. the explanation, for instance, of the rela- 
tions of exchange, under which people have lived for centuries, was 
discovered only in very recent times. Materialism removed this con- 
tradiction by carrying the analysis deeper, to the origin of these social ideas 
of man themselves; and its conclusion that the course of ideas depends 
on the course of things is the only one compatible with scientific psy- 
chology. Moreover, this hypothesis was the first to elevate sociology to 
the level of a science from yet another aspect. Hitherto, sociologists had 

* Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Preface. See 
Karl Marx, Selected Works, Eng. ed., 1935, Vol. I, pp. 355-57. Ed. 

** Contrat Social one of the most important of Jean Jacques Rousseau's 
works (published in 1762) in which the author expresses the idea that any and 
every social system must be the result of a free contract, an agreement between 
men. Idealistic in essence the "social contract" theory, advanced as it was in the 
eighteenth century, on the eve of the bourgeois revolution in France, played 
a revolutionary role inasmuch as it expressed the demand for bourgeois equality,, 
the abolition of feudal estate privileges and the establishment of a bourgeois 
republic. -Ed. 


found it difficult to distinguish in the complex network of social 
phenomena which phenomena were important and which unimportant 
(that is the root of subjectivism in sociology) and had been unable to dis- 
cover any objective criterion for such a distinction. Materialism pro- 
vided an absolutely objective criterion by singling out the "relations 
of production" as the structure of society, and by making it possible 
to apply to these relations that general scientific criterion of recurrence 
whose applicability to sociology the subjectivists denied. As long as 
they confined themselves to ideological social relations (i.e., such as, 
before taking shape, pass through man's consciousness*) they were una- 
ble to observe jecurrence and regularity in the social phenomena of the 
various countries, and their science was at best only a description of 
these phenomena, a collection of raw material. The analysis of material so- 
cial relations (those, that is, that take shape without passing through man's 
consciousness; when exchanging products men enter into relations of 
production without even realizing that social relations of production 
are involved in the act) made it at once possible to observe iccirrence 
and legularity and to generalize the systems of the various countries so 
as to arrive at the single fundamental concept: the formation of society. It 
was this generalization that alone made it possible to proceed from the 
description of social phenomena (and their evaluation from the standpoint 
of an ideal) to their strictly scientific analysis, which, let us say by way 
of example, singles out what distinguishes one capitalist country from 
another and investigates what is common to all of them. 

Thirdly and finally, another reason why this hypothesis was the first 
to make a scientific sociology possible was that the reduction of social 
relations to relations of production, and of the latter to the level of the 
forces of production, alone provided a firm basis for the conception that the 
development of the formations of society is a process of natural history. 
And it goes without saying that without such a view there can be no social 
science. (For instance, the subjectivists, although they admitted that 
historical phenomena conform to law, were incapable of regarding their 
evolution as a process of natural history, precisely because they confined 
themselves to the social ideas and aims of man and were unable to 
reduce these ideas and aims to material social relations.) 

But now Marx, having expressed this hypothesis in the 'forties, set out 
to study the factual (nota bene) material. He took one of the economic 
formations of society the system of commodity production and on 
the basis of a vast mass of data (which he studied for no less than twen- 
ty-five years) gave a most detailed analysis of the laws governing the 
functioning of this formation and its development. This analysis is strict- 
ly confined to the relations of production between the members of society: 

* We are, of course, referring all the time to the consciousness of "social rela- 
tions" and no others. 

64 V. I. LENIN 

without ever resorting to factors other than relations of production to 
explain the matter, Marx makes it possible to discern how the commodity 
organization of social economy develops, how it becomes transformed into 
the capitalist organization, creating the antagonistic (within the bounds 
now of tie relations of prcd action) classes, the bourgeoisie and the 
proletariat, how it develops the productivity of social labour, and there- 
by introduces an element which comes into irreconcilable contradiction 
with the 'foundations of this capitalist organization itself. 

Such is the skeleton of Capital. But the whole point of the matter is 
that Marx did not content himself with this skeleton, that he did not 
confine himself to an "economic theory" in the ordinary sense of the term, 
that, while explaining the structure and development of the given for- 
mation of society exclusively in terms of relations of production, he nev- 
ertheless everywhere and always went on to trace the superstructure 
corresponding to these relations of production and clothed the skeleton 
in flesh and blood. Capital has enjoyed such tremendous success precisely 
because this book of a "German economist" exhibited the whole capi- 
talist social formation to the reader as a living thing with its everyday 
aspects, with the actual social manifestation of the antagonism of class- 
es inherent in the relations of production, with the bourgeois political 
superstructure which preserves the domination of the capitalist class, 
with the bourgeois ideas of liberty, equality and so forth, with the bour- 
geois family relations. It will now be clear that the comparison with 
Darwin is perfectly accurate: Capital is nothing but "certain closely in- 
ter-connected generalizing ideas crowning a veritableMont Blanc of factual 
material." And if anybody who has tezd Capital has contrned not to no- 
tice these generalizing ideas, that is not the fault of Marx, who pointed 
to these ideas even in the Preface, as we have seen. And that is not all; 
such a comparison is just not only from the external aspect (which for 
some unknown reason particularly interests Mr. Mikhailovsky), but 
from the internal aspect too. Just as Darwin put an end to the view that 
the species of animals and plants are unconnected among themselves, 
fortuitous, "created by God" and immutable, and was the first to put 
biology on an absolutely scientific basis by establishing the mutability 
and succession of species, so Marx put an end to the view that society is 
ft mechanical aggregation of individuals, which allows of any kind 
of modification at the will of the powers that be (or, what amounts to 
the same thing, at the will of society and the government) and which arises 
and changes in a fortuitous way, and was the first to put sociology on 
ft scientific basis by establishing the concept of the economic formation 
of society as the sum- total of given relations of production and by 
establishing the fact that the development of these formations is a 
process of natural history. 

Now since the appearance of Capital the materialist conception of 
history is no longer a hypothesis, but a scientifically demonstrated propo- 


sition. And until some other attempt is made to give a scientific expla- 
nation of the functioning and development of any formation of society 
formation of society, mind yoa, and not the moc e of life of any country 
or people, or even class, etc. anotl er attempt which would be just as 
capable as materialism of introducing order into the "pertinent facts" and 
of presenting a living picture of a defi lite formation and at the same time 
of explaining it in a strictly scientific way, until then the materialist 
conception of history will be synonymous with social science. Materialism 
is not "primarily a scientific conception of history," as Mr. Mikhailovsky 
thinks, but the only scientific conception of history. 

And now, can one imagine anything funnier than people who have read 
Capital, aid contrheJ not to discover materialism in it! Where is 
it? asks Mr. Mikhailovsky in sincere perplexity. 

He read The Communist Manifesto and failed to notice that the expla- 
nation it gives of modern systems legal, political, family, religious and 
philosophical is a materialist one, and that even the criticism of the 
Socialist and Communist theories seeks and finds their roots in definite 
relations of production. 

He read The Poverty of Philosophy and failed to notice that its exam- 
ination of Proudbon's sociology is made from the materialist standpoint, 
that its criticism of the solution propounded by Proudhon for the most 
dive'se historical problems is based on the principles of materialism, and 
that the indications given by the author himself as to where the data for 
the solution of these problems is to be sought all amount to references to 
relations of production. 

He read Capital and failed to notice that what he had before him was 
a model scientific analysis, in accordance with the materialist method, 
of one the most complex of the formations c f soc iety, a model recognized 
by all and surpassed by none. And here he sits and exercises his mighty 
brain over the profound question: "In which of his works did Marx 
set forth his materialist conception of history?" 

Anybody acquainted with Marx would answer this question by anoth- 
er: in which of his works did Marx not set forth his materialist concep- 
tion of history? But Mr. Mikhailovsky will most likely learn of Marx's 
materialist investigations only when they are classified and properly in- 
dexed in some historico-sophistical work of some Kareyev or other un- 
der the heading "Economic Materialism." 

But what is funniest of all is that Mr. Mikhailovsky accuses Marx 
of not having "ie/'ewei [sicl] all the known theories of the historical 
process. "That is amusing indeed. Of what did nine- tenths of these theo- 
ries consist? Of purely a priori dogmatic, abstract disquisit o-.s on: what 
is society? what is progress? and the 1 ke. (I purposely take examples 
which are dear to the heart and mind of Mr. Mikhailovsky.) But, 
thei these theories are useless because of the very fact that they exist, 
they are useless because of their basic methods, because of their 

86 V. I. LENIN 

utter and unrelieved metaphysics. For, to begin by asking what is society 
and what is progress, is to begin from the wrong end. Whence are you 
to get your concept of society and progress in general when you have not 
studied a single social formation in particular, when you have been 
unable even to establish this concept, when you have been unable even 
to approach a serious factual investigation, an objective analysis of 
social relations of any kind? That is the most obvious earmark of me taphys- 
ics, with which every science began: as long as people did not know 
how to study the facts, they always invented a priori general theories, 
which were always sterile. The metaphysical chemist who did not know how 
to investigate the chemical processes themselves would invent a theory about 
the nature of the force of chemical affinity. The metaphysical biologist 
would talk about the nature of life and the vital force. The metaphysical 
psychologist would reason about the nature of the soul. The method itself 
was an absurd one. You cannot argue about the soul without having ex- 
plained the psychical processes in particular: here progress must consist in 
abandoning general theories and philosophical disquisitions about the na- 
ture of the soul, and in knowing how to put the study of the facts which cha- 
racterize any particular psychical process on a scientific footing. And there- 
fore Mr. Mikhailovsky's accusation is exactly as though a metaphysical 
psychologist, who all his life has been writing "inquiries" into the nature 
of the soul (without precisely knowing the explanation of a single psychi- 
cal phenomenon, even the simplest), were to accuse a scientific psycholo- 
gist of not having reviewed all the known theories of the soul. He, the 
scientific psychologist, has discarded all philosophical theories of the soul 
and has set about making a direct study of the material substratum of 
psychical phenomena the nervous processes and has given, let us say, an 
analysis and explanation of such and such psychological processes. And our 
metaphysical psychologist reads this work and praises it: the description 
of the processes and the study of the facts, he says, are good. But he is 
not satisfied. "Pardon me/' he exclaims excitedly, hearing people around 
him speak of the absolutely new conception of psychology given by this 
scientist, of his special method of scientific psychology: "Pardon me," 
the philosopher cries heatedly, "in what work is this method expounded? 
Why, this work contains 'nothing bat facts.' There is no trace in it of a 
review of 'all the known philosophical theories of the soul.' This is 
not the corresponding work by any means!" 

In the same way, of course, neither is Capital the corresponding work 
for a metaphysical sociologist who does not observe the sterility of a 
priori discussions about the nature of society and who does not understand 
that such methods, instead of studying and explaining, only serve to 
insinuate into the concept society either the bourgeois ideas of a British 
shopkeeper or the philistine Socialist ideals of a Russian democrat and 
nothing more. That is why all these philosophico-historical theories arose 
and burst like soap bubbles, being at best but a symptom of the social 


ideas and relations of their time, and not advancing one iota man's un- 
derstanding of even a few, but real, social relations (and not such as 
"harmonize with human nature"). The gigantic forward stride which Marx 
made in this respect consisted precisely in the fact that he discarded all 
these discussions about society and progress in general and gave a scien- 
tific analysis of one society and of one progress capitalist society and 
capitalist progress. And Mr. Mikhailovsky condemns him for having 
begun from the beginning and not from the end, for having begun with 
an analysis of the facts and not with final conclusions, with a study of 
particular, historically-determined social relations and not with general 
theories about the nature of social relations in general! And he asks: 
"where is the corresponding work?"O, sapient subjective sociologist!! 
If our subjective philosopher had confined himself to expressing his 
perplexity as to where, in which work, materialism is proved, that would 
not be quite so bad. But, in spite of the fact (and perhaps for the very 
reason) that he has nowhere found even an exposition of the materialist 
conception of history, let alone a proof of it, he begins to ascribe to this 
doctrine claims which it has never made. He quotes a passage from Bios 
to the effect that Marx had proclaimed an entirely new conception of 
history, and without further ado goes on to declare that this theory claims 
that it has "explained to humanity its past," explained "the whole [ic!!?] 
past of mankind," and so on. But this is utterly false! The theory claims 
to explain only the capitalist organization of society, and no other. If 
the application of materialism to the analysis and explanation of one 
social formation yielded such brilliant results, it is quite natural that 
materialism in history already ceases to be a mere hypothesis and 
becomes a scientifically tested theory; it is quite natural that the necessity 
for such a method should extend to the other social formations, even 
though they have not been subjected to special factual investigation 
and to detailed analysis just as the idea of transformism, which has 
been proved in relation to a sufficiently large number of facts, is extended 
to the whole lealm of biology, even though it has not yet been possible 
definitely to establish the transformation of certain species of animals 
and plants. And just as transformism does not claim to have explained 
the "whole" history of the formation of species, but only to have placed 
the methods of this explanation on a scientific basis, so materialism 
in history has never claimed to explain everything, but only to have 
pointed out the "only scientific," to use Marx's expression (Capital), 
method of explaining history. One may therefore judge how ingenious, 
earnest or seemly are the methods of controversy employed by Mr. Mi- 
khailovsky when he first falsifies Marx by ascribing to materialism in 
history the absurd claim of "explaining everything," of finding "the key 
to all historical locks" (claims, of course, which were refuted by Marx 
immediately and in a very venomous form in his "Letter" on Mikhai- 
lovsky's articles), then makes game of these claims, which he himself 

88 V. I. LENIN 

invented, and, finally, accurately quoting Engels' ideas accurately, 
because in this case a quotation and not a paraphrase is given to 
the effect that political economy as the materialists understand it 
"has still to be created" and that "everything we have received from it 
is confined to" the history of capitalist society comes to the conclu- 
sion that "these words greatly narrow the scope of economic material- 
ism"! What infinite naivete, or what infinite conceit a man must have 
to believe that such tricks will pass unnoticed! He first falsifies 
Marx, then makes game of his own inventions, then accurately 
quotes certain ideas and has the insolence to declare that the latter 
narrow the scope of economic materialism! 

The nature and quality of Mr. Mikhailovsky 's game may be seen from 
the following example: "Marx nowhere proves them" i.e., the founda- 
tions of the theory of economic materialism says Mr. Mikhailovsky. 
"True, Marx and Engels thought of writing a work of a philosophico- 
historical and historico-philosophical character, and even did write one 
(1845-46), but it was never printed. Engels says: 'The completed portion 
[of this work] consists of an exposition of the materialist conception of 
history which proves only how incomplete our knowledge of economic 
history was at that time.'* Thus," concludes Mr. Mikhailovsky, "the 
fundamental points of 'scientific Socialism* and of the theory of economic 
materialism were discovered, and were then expounded in the Manifesto* 
at a time when, as is admitted by one of the authors himself, their 
knowledge for such a work was still meagre." 

A charming manner of criticism, is it not? Engels says that their 
knowledge of economic "history" was still meagre and that for this rea- 
son they did not print their work of a "general" historico-philosophical 
character. Mr. Mikhailovsky garbles this to mean that their know ledge was 
meagre "for such a work" as the elaboration of "the fundamental points 
of scientific Socialism, that is, of a scientific criticism of the "bour- 
geois" system, already given in the Manifesto. One or the other: 
either Mr. Mikhailovsky cannot grasp the difference between an attempt 
to embrace the whole philosophy of history, and an attempt 
to explain the bourgeois regime scientifically, or he thinks that Marx 
and Engels did not possess sufficient knowledge for a criticism of politi- 
cal economy. And in the latter case it is very cruel of him not to acquaint 
us with his reasons for assuming this deficiency of knowledge, and not 
to give his amendments and additions. Marx's and Engels' decision not 
to publish the historico-philosophical work and to concentrate their efforts 
on a scientific analysis of one social organization only indicates a very 
high degree of scientific scrupulousness. Mr. Mikhailovsky's decision 
to make game of this by a little addition to the effect that Marx and Engels 

* See Frederick Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach, Foreword, Eng. ed., 1934. Ed* 


expounded their views when they themselves confessed that their knowl- 
edge was inadequate to elaborate them, is only indicative of methods of 
controversy which testify neither to intelligence nor to a sense of decency. 
Here is another example: 

"More was done by Marx's alter ego, Engels," says Mr. Mikhailovsky,, 
"to prove economic materialism as a theory of history. He has written 
a special historical work, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and 
the State in the Light of (im Anschluss) Ihe Resea ches of Mor^aw. This 
Anschluss is noteworthy. The book of the American Morgan appeared 
many years after Marx and Engels had announced the principles of 
economic materialism and entitely independently of the latter." And so, 
we find "the economic materialists associating themselves" with this book; 
and, since there was no struggle of classes in pre-historic times, introduc- 
ing an "amendment" to the formula of the materialist conception of 
history to the effect that, in addition to the production of material 
values, a determining factor is the production of man himself, i.e., 
procreation, which played a primary role in the primitive era, when 
the productivity of labour was still very undeveloped. 

Engels says that **Mo'g an 's great merit lies in laving d ; scovered in 
the gioafs basel 01 sex of tl e /me Lai Ind a s t 1 e key to the 
most ; m~o ta .t, hithe to insoluble, riddles of the ea.l.est Gieek, Roman 
and Ge mai history." 

"And so," pronounces Mr. Mikhailovsky in this connection, 
"at the end of the 'forties there was discovered and proclaimed 
an absolutely new, materialist and truly scientific conception of 
history, which did for historical science what Darwin's theory 
did for modern natural science." 

But this conception Mr. Mikhailovsky once more repeats was nev- 
er scientifically proved. 

"It was not only never tested in a large and varied field of fac- 
tual material [Capital is "not the corresponding" work: it contains 
only facts and painstaking in esti^at o s!], but was not even suffici- 
ently justified, if only by the criticism and exclusion of other 
philosophico-his tor ical s ys tems . " 

Engels' book Herrn E. D ihrings Umwalzung der Wissenschaft* rep- 
resents "only clever attempts made in passing," and Mr. Mikhailovsky 
therefore considers it possible com let el y to igno e the vast number of 
essential questions dealt with in that work, in spite of the fact that these 
"clever attempts" very cleverly show the emptiness of sociologies which 
"sta t with Utopias," and in spite of the fact that this book contains a de- 
tailed criticism of the "force theory," which asserts that political and legal 

flerr Eugen D&hring's Revolution in Science (Anti-Dtihring). Ed. 


systems determine economic systems and which is so fervently professed 
by the journalistic gentlemen of Ruaskoye Bogatstvo. Of course, it is 
much easier to say a few meaningless phrases about a work than to 
make a serious analysis of even one question materialistically dealt with 
in it. And it is also safe for the censor will probably never pass a trans- 
lation of the book, and Mr. Mikhailovsky may call it clever without any 
danger to* his subjective philosophy. 

Even more characteristic and edifying is his comment on Marx's 
Capital (a comment which serves as an illustration to the saying that 
man was given a tongue to conceal his thoughts or to lend vacuity 
the form of thought): 

"There are brilliant pages of history in Capital, BUT [that 
wonderful "but"! It is not so much a "but," as that famous mais 9 
which translated means "the poor fellow can only do his 
best"], by the very purpose of the book, they concern only 
one definite historical period; they do not so much affirm the basic 
propositions of economic materialism as simply deal with the eco- 
nomic aspect of a certain group of historical phenomena." 

In other words, Capital which is devoted only to a study of capital- 
ist society gives a materialist analysis of that society and its superstruc- 
tures, "BUT"Mt. Mikhailovsky prefers to say nothing about this analys- 
is. It deals, don't you see, with only "one" period, whereas he, 
Mr. Mikhailovsky, wants to embrace all periods, and embrace them in such 
a way as not to say anything about any one of them in particular. Of 
course, this aim of embracing all periods without discussing any one 
of them in substance can be achieved only in one way by general talk 
and "brilliant" but empty phrasemongering. And nobody can compare with 
Mr. Mikhailovsky in the art of phrasemongering. It turns out that it is 
not worth dealing (separately) with the substance of Marx's investigations 
for the reason that he, Marx, "not so much affirms the basic propositions 
of economic materialism as simply deals with the economic aspect of a 
certain group of historical phenomena." What profundity! He "does 
not affirm," but "simply deals with!" How easy it is to dodge any 
issue by phrasemongering! For instance, whe a Marx repeatedly shows that 
-civil equality, free contract and similar foundations of the law-gov- 
erned state rest on the relations of commodity producers what is 
that? Does he thereby affirm materialism, or "simply" deal with it? 
With his inherent modesty, our philosopher refrains from giving a reply 
on the substance of the question and directly proceeds to draw conclusions 
from his "clever attempts" to talk brilliantly and say nothing. 

"It is not surprising," the conclusion runs, "that for a theory 
which claimed to elucidate world history, forty years after its 
announcement early Greek, Roman and German history remained 


unsolved riddles; and the key to these riddles was provided, firstly, 
by a man who had absolutely no connection with the theory of 
economic materialism and knew nothing about it, and, secondly, 
with the help of a factor which was not economic. A rather amusing 
impression is produced by the term 'production of man himself,' 
i.e., procreation, on which Engels seizes in order to preserve at 
least a verbal connection with the basic formula of economic mate- 
rialism. He was, however, obliged to admit that for many ages 
the life of mankind did not proceed in accordance with this 

Indeed, Mr. Mikhailovsky, the way you argue is very "surprising." 
The theory was that in order to "elucidate" history one must seek 
for the foundations in material social relations and not in ideological 
relations. Lack of factual material made it impossible to apply this 
method to an analysis of certain very important phenomena in ancient 
European history for instance, of the gentile organization which 
in consequence remained a riddle. * But along comes Morgan in America 
and the wealth of material he has collected enables him to analyse 
the nature of the gentile organization; and he comes to the conclusion that 
one must seek for its explanation in material relations, and not in ideo- 
logical relations (e.g., legal or religious). Obviously, this fact is a brilliant 
confirmation of the materialist method, and nothing more. And when 
Mr. Mikhailovsky rebukes this doctrine on the grounds, firstly, that the 
key to most difficult historical riddles was found by a man "who had abso- 
lutely no connection" with the theory of economic materialism, one can 
only wonder at the extent to which people can fail to distinguish what 
speaks in their favour from what cruelly demDlishes them. Secondly 
our philosopher argues procreation is not an economic factor. But where 
have you read in Marx or in Engels that they necessarily spoke of eco- 
nomic materialism? When they described their world outlook they called 
it simply materialism. Their basic idea (which was quite definitely 
expressed, for instance, in the passage from Marx above quoted) was that 
social relations are divided into material relations and ideological re- 
lations. The latter merely constitute a superstructure on the former, 
which arise apart from the volition and consciousness of man as (a result) 
a form of man's activity aiming at the preservation of his existence. 
The explanation of political and legal forms Marx says in the passage 
quoted must be sought for in "the material conditions of life." 
Mr. Mikhailovsky surely does not think that the relations of procreation 

* Here too Mr. Mikhailovsky does not miss an opportunity of making 
game: how is that a scientific conception of history, and yet ancient history 
remains a riddle I Mr. Mikhailovsky, take any textbook and you will find that 
the problem of the gentile organization is one of the most difficult, and a host of 
theories have been advanced to explain it. 


mre ideological conditions? The explanation given by Mr. Mikhailovsky 
in this connection is so characteristic that it deserves to be dwelt on. 

"However much we exercise our ingenuity on the question of 
'procreation,'" he says, "and endeavour to establish if only a ver- 
bal connection between it and economic materialism, however 
much it may be interwoven in the complex web of phenomena of 
social life with other phenomena, including economic, it has its 
own physiological and psychical roots. [Is it suckling infants 
you are telling, Mr. Mikhailovsky, that procreation has physio- 
logical roots!? What sort of blarney is this?] And this reminds 
us that the theoreticians of economic materialism have not 
settled accounts not only with history, but also with psycho- 
logy. There can be no doubt that gentile ties have lost their signifi- 
cance in the history of civilized countries, but this can hardly be 
said with the same assurance of direct sexual and family ties. They 
have of course undergone considerable modification under the 
pressure of the increasing complexity of life in general, but with a 
certain amount of dialectical dexterity it might be shown that not 
only legal, but also economic relations themselves constitute a 'super- 
structure' on sexual and family relations. We shall not dwell on this, 
but nevertheless would point to the institution of inheritance." 

At last our philosopher has managed to leave the sphere of empty 
phrasemongering* for facts, definite facts, which can be verified 
and which make it less easy to "blarney" about the substance of the mat- 
ter. Let us then see how our critic of Marx shows that the institution 
of inheritance is a superstucture on sexual and family relations. 

"It is the products of economic production ["the products of 
economic production" 1 1 How literary 1 How euphonious! How ele- 
gant!] that are transmitted by inheritance, and the institution of 
inheritance itself is to a certain extent determined by the fact 
of economic competition. But, firstly, non-material values are 
also transmitted by inheritance as expressed in the concern to 
bring up children in the spirit of their fathers." 

And so the upbringing of children is part of the institution of inheri- 
tance! The Russian Civil Code for example, contains a clause to the effect 
that "parents must endeavour by home upbringing to train their [i.e., 
their children's] morals and to further the views of the government. " 
Is this what our philosopher calls the institution of inheritance? 

* How else, indeed, can one characterize it, when he accuses materialists 
of not having settled accounts with history but does not attempt to examine liter- 
ally a single one of the numerous materialist explanations of various historical 
questions given by the materialists, or when he says that a thing might be shown, 
but that he will not dwell on it? 


"and, secondly, even when we confine ourselves to the econom* 
ic sphere, if the institution of inheritance is unthinkable without 
the products of production that are transmitted by inheritance, it 
is just as unthinkable without the products of 'procreation' 
without them and without that complex and intense psychology 
which directly borders on them." 

(Do pay attention to the style: a complex psychology "borders on" 
the products of procreation! That is really exquisite!) And so the insti- 
tution of inheritance is a superstructure on family and sexual relations, 
because inheritance is unthinkable without procreation! Why, this is 
a veritable discovery of America! Until now everybody believed that 
procreation can explain the institution of inheritance just as little as 
the necessity for taking food can explain the institution of property. 
Until now everybody thought that if, for instance, in the era when 
the system of teiuie in fee (pomestiye) flourished in Russia, the land was 
not transmissible by inheritance (because it was only regarded as condi- 
tional property), the explanation was to be sought in the peculiarities of 
the social organization of the time. Mr. Mikhailovsky presumably thinks 
that the matter is to be explained simply by the fact that the psychology 
which bordered on the products of procreation of the fief -holder of that 
time was distinguished by insufficient complexity. 

(Scratch the "friend of the people" one might say, paraphrasing the fa- 
miliar saying and you will find a bourgeois. For what other meaning 
can be attached to Mr. Mikhailovsky 's reflections on the connection 
between the institution of inheritance and the upbringing of children, 
the psychology of procreation, and so on, except that the institution of 
inheritance is just as eternal, essential and sacred as the upbringing of 
children? True, Mr. Mikhailovsky tried to leave himself a loophole by 
declaring that "the institution of inheritance is to a certain extent deter- 
mined by the fact of economic competition." But that is nothing but an 
attempt to avoid giving a definite answer to the quest ion, and an unseemly 
attempt at that. How can we take cognizance of this statement when not 
a word is said about what exactly the "certain extent" is to which inher- 
itance depends on competition, when absolutely no explanation is 
given of what exactly this connection between competition and the insti- 
tution of inheritance is due to? As a matter of fact, the institution of in- 
heritance already presumes the existence of private property; and the latter 
arises only with the appearance of exchange. Its basis in the already 
incipient specialization of social labour and the alienation of products in 
the market. For instance, as long as all the members of the primitive 
Indian community produced in common all the articles they required, 
private property was impossible. But when division of labour made its way 
into the community and each of its members began to produce separately 
some one article or other and to sell it in the market, this material iso- 

94 V. I. LENIN 

lation of the commodity producer found expression in the institution 
bf private property. Both private property and inheritance are categor- 
ies of a social order in which separate, small (monogamous) families have 
already arisen and exchange has begun to develop. Mr. Mikhailovsky 's 
example proves precisely the opposite of what he wanted to prove. 
Mr. Mikhailovsky gives another factual reference and this too is in 
its way 'a gem! 

"As regards gentile ties," he says, continuing to put material- 
ism right, "they paled in the history of civilized peoples partially ,, 
it is true, under the rays of the influence of the forms of production 
[another subterfuge, this time more obvious still. What forms of 
production precisely? An empty phrase!], but partially they became 
dissolved in their own continuation and generalization in na- 
tional ties." 

And so, national ties are a continuation and generalization of gentile 
ties! Mr. Mikhailovsky, evidently, borrows his ideas of the history of 
society from the fairy tale that is taught to schoolboys. The history 
of society this copy-book maxim runs is that first there was the 
family, that nucleus of all society,* then the family grew into the 
tribe, and the tribe grew into the state. If Mr. Mikhailovsky impressively 
repeats this childish nonsense, it only goes to show apart from every- 
thing else that he has not the slightest inkling of the course even of 
Russian history. While one might speak of gentile life in ancient Russia, 
there can be no doubt that by the Middle Ages, the era of the Muscovite 
tsars, these gentile ties no longer existed, that is to say, the state was based 
on territorial unions and not gentile unions: the landlords and the monas- 
teries took their peasants from various localities, and the communities 
thus formed were purely territorial unions. However, one could hardly at 
that time speak of national ties in the true sense of the word: the state was 
divided into separate "territories," sometimes even principalities, which 
preserved strong traces of former autonomy, peculiarities of administra- 
tion, at times their own troops (the local boyars went to war at the head 
of their own companies), their own customs frontiers, and so forth. It 
is only the modern period of Russian history (beginning approximately 
with the seventeenth century) that is marked by an actual amalgamation 
of all such regions, territories and principalities into a single whole- 
This amalgamation, most esteemed Mr. Mikhailovsky, was not brought 
about by gentile ties, nor even by their continuation, and generalization, 
but by the growth of exchange between regions, the steady growth of 
commodity circulation and the concentration of the small local markets 

* This is a purely bourgeois idea: separate, small families came to predominate 
only under the bourgeois regime; they were entirely non-existent in prehistoric 
times. Nothing is more characteristic of the bourgeois than the ascription of the 
features of the modern system to all times and peoples. 


into a single, all- Russian market. Since the leaders and masters of this 
process were the merchant capitalists, the creation of these national ties 
was nothing but the creation of bourgeois ties. By both his factual refer- 
ences Mr. Mikhailovsky has only defeated his own purpose and has given 
us nothing but examples of bourgeois puerility. "Puerility," because 
he explained the institution of inheritance by procreation and its psy- 
chology, and nationality by gentile ties; "bourgeois," because he took the 
categories and superstructures of one historically-defined social formation 
(that based on exchange) for categories just as general and eternal as. 
the upbringing of children and "direct" sexual ties. 

What is so highly characteristic here is that as soon as our subjective 
philosopher tried to pass from phrasemongering to concrete facts he got 
himself into a mess. And apparently he feels very much at ease in 
this not over-clean position: there he sits, preening himself and splash- 
ing mud all around him. For instance, he wants to refute the thesis that 
history is a succession of episodes of the class struggle, and, declaring 
with an air of profundity that this is "extreme," he says: "The Inter- 
national Workingmen's Association, formed by Marx and organized for 
the purposes of the class struggle, did not prevent the French and 
German workers from cutting each other 's throats and despoiling each 
other," which, he asserts, proves that materialism has not settled accounts 
"with the demon of national vanity and national hatred." Such a state- 
ment reveals the critic's utter failuie to realize that the very real interests 
of the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie constitute the principal 
basis for this hatred, and that to speak of national sentiment as an inde- 
pendent factor is only to gloss over the real facts of the case. But then 
we have already seen what a profound idea of nationality our philosopher 
has. Mr. Mikhailovsky cannot refer to the International except with the 
irony of a Burenin.* 

"Marx is the head of the International Workingmen's Asso- 
ciation, which, it is true, has fallen to pieces, but is due to be 

Of course, if one discerns the nee plus ultra of international solidarity 
in a system of "just" exchange, as the chronicler of home affairs in No. 2 
of Russkoye Bogatstvo asserts, with philistine banality and if one does 
not understand that exchange, just and unjust, invariably presumes and 
includes the domination of the bourgeoisie, and that, unless the econom- 
ic organization which is based on exchange is destroyed, international 
collisions are inevitable, this incessant sneering at the International is- 

* V. Burenin a member of the staff of the reactionary newspaper Novoye 
Vremya (New Times) notorious for his malignant and vicious attacks on repre- 
sentatives of all progressive trends of social thought. Lenin applies this name 
appallatively to denote unscrupulous methods in conducting polemics. Ed* 

96 V. L LENIN 

understandable. It is then understandable why Mr. Mikhailovsky cannot 
grasp the simple truth that there is no other way of combating national 
hatred than by organizing and welding together the oppressed class for a 
struggle against the oppressor class in each se;arate country, and by 
the amalgamation of such national working-class organizations into 
a single international working-class army to fi^ht international cap- 
ital. As to the statement that the International did not prevent the workers 
from cutting each others' throats, it is enough to remind Mr. Mikhai- 
lovsky of the events of the Commune, which revealed the true attitude of 
the organized proletariat to the ruling classes who were waging the war. 
But what is most disgusting in Mr. Mikhailovsky J s polemic is the meth- 
ods he employs. If he is dissatisfied with the tactics of the Internation- 
al, if he does not share the ideas on behalf of which the European work- 
ers are organizing, let him at least criticize them bluntly and openly 
and set forth his own idea of what would be more expedient tactics and 
more correct views. As it is, no definite and clear objections are made, 
and all we get are senseless jibes amidst a welter of phrasemongering. 
What can one call this but mad, especially when one bears in mind that 
a defence of the ideas and tactics of the International is not legally al- 
lowed in Russia? Such too are the methods Mr. Mikhailovsky employs 
when he argues against the Russian Marxists: without giving himself 
the trouble to formulate any of their theses conscientiously and accurately, 
so as to Sab'e_t them to direct and definite criticism, he prefers to fasten 
on fragments of Marxist arguments he happens to have heard and to 
garble them. Judge for yourselves: 

"Marx was too intelligent and too learned to think that it was he 
who discovered the idea of the historical necessity of social phenom- 
ena and their conformity to law. . . . The lower rungs [of the 
Marxist ladder*] do not know this [that "the idea of historical 
necessity is not something new, invented or discovered by Marx, 
but a long- established truth"], or, at least, they have only a vague 
idea of the centuries of intellectual effort and energy that were spent 
on the establishment of this truth." 

Of course, statements of this kind may very well make an impression 
on people who hear of Marxism for the first time, and in their case 
the aim of the critic may be easily achieved, namely, to gaible, scoff 
and "conquer" (such, it is said, is the way contributors to Eusskoye 

* In connection with this meaningless term it should be stated that Mr. Mi- 
khailovsky singles out Marx (who is too intelligent and too learned for our critic 
to be able to criticise any of his propositions directly and openly), after whom 
he places Engels ("not such a creative mind"), next more or less independent 
men like Kautsky and then the other Marxists. Well, can such a classification 
have any serious value? If the critic is dissatisfied with the popularizers of Marx, 
what prevents him from correcting them on the basis of Marx? He does nothing 
of the kind. He evidently meant to be witty but it fell flat. 


Bogatstvo speakofMr.Mikhailovsky 's articles). Anybody who has any know- 
ledge of Marx at all will immediately perceive the utter falsity and sham 
of such methods. One may not agree with Marx, but one cannot deny that 
those of his views which constitute "something new" in relation to those 
of the earlier Socialists he did formulate very definitely. The something 
new consisted in the fact that the earlier Socialists thought it was 
enough to prove their views to point to the oppression of the masses 
under the existing regime, to point to the superiority of a system under 
which every man would receive what he himself had produced, to point 
out that this ideal system harmonizes with "human nature," with 
the conception of a rational and moral life, and so forth. Marx found it 
impossible to rest content with such a Socialism. He did not confine 
himself to describing the existing system, giving a judgment of it and 
condemning it; he gave a scientific explanation of it, reducing that exist- 
ing system, which differs in the different European and non-European 
countries, to a common basis the capitalist social formation, the laws 
of the functioning and development of which he subjected to an objec- 
tive analysis (he showed the necessity of exploitation under such a system). 
In just the same way, he did not find it possible to rest content with 
asserting that only the Socialist system harmonizes with human nature, 
as was claimed by the great Utopian Socialists and by their wretched off- 
spring, the subjective sociologists. By this same objective analysis of the 
capitalist system, he proved the necessity of its transformation into the 
Socialist system. (Precisely how he proved this and how Mr. Mikhailov- 
sky objected to it is a question we shall revert to.) That is the 
source of those references to necessity which we may frequently meet 
with among Marxists. The distortion which Mr. Mikhailovsky introduced 
into the question is obvious: he dropped the whole factual content of the 
theory, its whole essence, and presented the matter as though the whole the- 
ory were contained in the one word "necessity" ("one cannot refer to it alone 
in complex practical affairs"), as though the proof of this theory consists in 
the fact that historical necessity so demands it. In other words, saying 
nothing about the contents of the doctrine, he seized on its label only, 
and again started to make game of that "simple flat disc," into which 
he himself had tried so hard to transform Marx's teaching. We shall not, 
of course, endeavour to follow this game, because we are already suffi- 
ciently acquainted with that sort of thing. Let him cut capers for the 
amusement and satisfaction of Mr. Burenin (who not without good rea- 
son patted Mr. Mikhailovsky on the back in Novoye Vremya), let him pay 
his respects to Marx and then yelp at him from round the corner: "His 
controversy against the Utopians and idealists is one-sided as it is," that 
is without the Marxists repeating its arguments. We cannot call such 
sallies anything else but yelping, because he literally does not bring 
a single factual, definite and verifiable objection against this controversy, 
so that, willing as we might be to discuss the subject, for we con- 


98 V. I. LENIN 

sider this controversy extremely important for the settlement of Russian 
Socialist questions we simply cannot reply to yelping, and can only 
shrug our shoulders and say: 

"The lapdog must be strong indeed if at an elephant he barks!" 
Not without interest is what Mr. Mikhailovsky goes on to say 
about historical necessity, because it reveals, if only partially, the 
real ideological stock-in-trade of "our well-known sociologist" (the epi- 
thet which Mr. Mikhailovsky, equally with Mr. V. V.,* enjoys among 
the liberal members of "cultured society"). He speaks of "the con- 
flict between the idea of historical necessity and the importance of in- 
dividual activity": socially active figures err in regarding themselves 
as active figures, when as a matter of fact they are "activated," "mario- 
nettes, manipulated from a mysterious cellar by the immanent laws of 
historical necessity" such, he claims, is the conclusion to be drawn from 
this idea, which he therefore characterizes as "sterile" and "diffuse." 
Probably not every reader knows where Mr. Mikhailovsky got all this 
nonsense about marionettes and the like. The fact is that this is one of 
.the favourite hobby-horses of the subjective philosopher the idea of the 
conflict between determinism and morality, between historical necessity 
and the importance of the individual. He has filled piles of paper on the 
subject and has uttered an infinite amount of sentimental, philistine 
trash in order to settle this conflict in favour of morality and the impor- 
tance of the individual. As a matter of fact, there is no conflict here at 
all; it has been invented by Mr. Mikhailovsky, who feared (not without 
reason) that determinism would cut the ground from under the philistine 
morality he loves so dearly. The idea of determinism, which establishes the 
necessity of human acts and rejects the absurd fable of freedom of will, 
in no way destroys man's reason or conscience, or judgment of his 
actions. Quite the contrary, the determinist view alone makes a strict and 
correct judgment possible, instead of attributing everything one fancies 
to freedom of will. Similarly, the idea of historical necessity in no way 
undermines the role of the individual in history: all history is made up 
,of the actions of individuals, who are undoubtedly active figures. The real 
question that arises in judging the social activity of an individual is: 
what conditions ensure the success of this activity, what guarantee is 
-there that this activity will not remain an isolated act lost in a welter 
of contrary acts? This also involves a question which is answered differ- 
ently by Social-Democrats and by the other Russian Socialists, namely, 
in what way must activity which aims at bringing about the 
Socialist system enlist the masses in order to secure real results? Obvious- 
ly, the answer to this question depends directly and immediately on the 
conception of the grouping of social forces in Russia, of the class struggle 
which forms the substance of Russian actualities. And here too Mr. Mi- 

* V. P. Votont&ov.Ed. 


khailovsky dances around the question without even attempting to state 
it precisely and to furnish an answer to it. The Social-Democratic answer 
to the question, as we know, is based on the view that the Russian eco- 
nomic system is a bourgeois society, from which there can be only one 
way out, one that necessarily follows from the very nature of the bourgeois 
system, namely, the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoi- 
sie. It is obvious that any serious criticism ought to be directed either 
against the view that our system is a bourgeois system or against the 
conception of the nature of this system and the laws of its development. 
But Mr. Mikhailovsky does not even think of dealing with serious ques- 
tions. He prefers to confine himself to meaningless phrasemongering about 
necessity being too general a parenthesis, and the like. Yes, Mr. Mikhai- 
lovsky, any idea will be too general a parenthesis if you first take all the 
insides out of it, as though it were a dried herring, and then begin to play 
about with the skin. This outer skin, which covers really serious and burning 
questions of the day, is Mr. Mikhailovsky 's favourite sphere; for instance, 
he stresses with particular pride the fact that "economic materialism 
ignores or throws a wrong light on the question of heroes and the crowd," 
Don't you see, the question which are the classes whose struggle forms the 
substance of modern Russian actualities, and on what grounds? is probably 
too general for Mr. Mikhailovsky, and he avoids it. On the other hand, 
the question what relations exist between the hero and the crowd? 
irrespective of whether it is a crowd of workers, peas ants, manufacturers or 
landlords, is one that interests him extremely. These questions may 
be really "interesting," but anybody who rebukes the materialists 
for directing all their efforts to the settlement of questions which directly 
concern the liberation of the labouring class is an admirer of philistine 
science, and nothing more. Concluding his "criticism" (?) of material- 
ism, Mr. Mikhailovsky makes one more attempt to misrepresent facts 
and performs one more manipulation. Having expressed doubt as to the 
correctness of Engels ' opinion that Capital was hushed up by the official 
economists (a doubt he justifies on the curious grounds that there are nu- 
merous universities in Germany!), Mr. Mikhailovsky says: 

"Marx did not have this circle of readers [workers] in view, 
but expected something from men of science too." 

That is absolutely untrue. Marx understood very well how little he 
could expect impartiality and scientific criticism from the bourgeois 
scientist, and in the Nachwort (Postscript) to the second edition of 
Capital he expressed himself very positively on this score. He there says; 

"The understanding which Capital rapidly met with among 
wide circles of the German working class is the best reward for 
my labour. Herr Meyer, a man who on economic questions adheres 
to the bourgeois standpoint, aptly stated in a pamphlet which 



appeared during the Franco- Prussian War that the great capacity 

for theoretical thinking (der grofte theoretiache Sinn) which was 

regarded as the heritage of the Germans has completely disappeared 

among the so-called educated classes of Germany, but, on the other 

hand, is being born anew in her working class." 

The manipulation again concerns materialism and is entirely in the 

style of trie first sample. "The theory [of materialism] has never been 

scientifically proved and verified." Such is the thesis. Here is the proof: 

"Individual good pages of historical content in Engels, Kaut- 

sky and certain others also (as in the esteemed work of Bios) 

might well dispense with label economic materialism, since [note 

the "since"!], in fact [sic\] 9 they take the sum-total of social life into 

account, even though the economic strings predominate in the chord." 

And the conclusion "Economic materialism has not justified it- 

self in science." 

. A familiar trick! In order to prove that the theory lacks foundation, 
Mr. Mikhailovsky first distorts it by ascribing to it the absurd inten- 
tion of not taking the sum-total of social life into account, whereas quite 
the opposite is the case: the materialists (Marxists) were the first Social- 
ists to insist on the need of analysing all aspects of social life, and not 
&nly the economic.* Then he declares that "in fact" the materialists 
have "effectively" explained the sum-total of social life by economics (a fact 
which obviously destroys the author) and finally he comes to the con- 
clusion that materialism "has not justified itself"! But your manipulations 
on the other hand, Mr. Mikhailovsky, have justified themselves magnifi- 

And this is all that Mr. Mikhailovsky brings forward in "refutation" 
of materialism. I repeat, there is no criticism here, it is nothing but vapid 
and pretentious verbosity. If we were to ask any person what objections Mr. 

* This has been quite clearly expressed in Capital and in the tactics of 
the Social-Democrats, as compared with the earlier Socialists. Marx directly 
demanded that we should not confine ourselves to the economic aspect. In 1843, 
when drafting the program for a projected magazine, Marx wrote to Ruge: "The 
whole Socialist principle is again only one aspect.... We, on our part, must 
devote equal attention to the other aspect, the theoretical existence of man, and 
consequently must make religion, science, and so forth, an object of our criti- 
cism...* Just as religion represents a table of contents of the theoretical conflicts 
of mankind, the political state represents a table of contents of its practical con- 
flicts. Thus, the political state, within the limits of its form, expresses sub specie 
rei publicae [from the political standpoint] all social conflicts, needs and inter- 
ests. Hence to make a most special political question e. 0., the difference between 
the estate system and the representative system an object of criticism by no 
means implies descend ing from the hauteur des principes [the height of principles 
Ed.], since this question expresses in political language the difference between 
the rule of man and the rule of private property. This means that the critic not 
only may but must deal with these political questions (which the inveterate Social- 
ist considers unworthy of attention)." 


Mikhailovsky has brought against the view that the relations of production 
form the basis of all others, how he has disproved the concept formations of 
society and the natural-historical process of development of these formations 
worked out by Marx with the help of the materialist method, how he has 
proved the fallacy of the materialist explanations of various historical 
questions given, for instance, by the writers he has mentioned that 
person would have to answer that he has brought no objections, has in 
no way disproved, and has pointed out no fallacies. He has merely beat 
about the bush, trying to confuse tre essence of tre matter by phrase- 
mongering, and in passing has invented various piffling subterfuges. 

It is hard to expect anything serious of such a critic when he continues 
to refute Marxism in No. 2 of Ruaskoye Bogatatvo. The only difference is 
that he has already exhausted his own power of inventing manipulations 
and begins to avail himself of those of others. 

He starts out by declaiming about the "complexity" of social life: 
why, even galvanism is connected with economic materialism, because 
Galvani's experiments "produced an impression" on Hegel. Astonish- 
ingly clever! One could just as easily connect Mr. Mikhailovsky with the 
Emperor of China! What are we to deduce from this apart from the fact 
that there are people who find pleasure in talking nonsense?! 

"The essence of the historical course of things," Mr. Mikhailovsky 
continues, "which is elusive in general, has eluded the doctrine of 
economic materialism, although the latter apparently rests on two pillars: 
the discovery of the all-determining significance of the forms of produc* 
tion and exchange and the unimpeachableness of the dialectical process, " 

And so, the materialists rest their case on the "unimpeachableness" 
of the dialectical process! In other words, they base their sociological 
theories on Hegelian triads. Here we have the stereotyped charge of 
Hegelian dialectics levelled against Marxism, a charge which one thought 
had already been worn sufficiently threadbare by Marx's bourgeois critics. 
Unable to bring anything against the doctrine itself, these gentlemen 
fastened on Marx 's mode of expression and attacked the origin of the theory, 
thinking thereby to undermine the theory itself. And Mr. Mikhailovsky 
makes no bones about resorting to similar methods. He uses a chapter 
from Engels' Anti-Diihring as a pretext. Replying to Diihring, who had 
attacked Marx's dialectics, Engels says that Marx never even thought ot 
"proving" anything by means of Hegelian triads, that Marx only studied 
and investigated the real process, and that he regarded the conformity 
of a theory to reality as its only criterion. If, however, it sometimes 
transpired that the development of any particular social phenomenon 
conformed with the Hegelian scheme, namely, thesis negation negation 
of the negation, that is not at all surprising, for it is no rare thing 
in nature generally. And Engels proceeds to cite examples from the 
fie^ld of natural history (the development of a seed) and from the social 
field as fo'r instance, that first there was primitive Communism, then pri* 

102 V. I. LENIN 

vate property, and then the capitalist socialization of labour; or that first 
there was primitive materialism, then idealism, and then scientific ma- 
terialism, and so forth. It is clear to everybody that the main burden 
of Engels' argument is that materialists must correctly and accurately, 
depict the historical process, and that insistence on dialectics, the 
selection of examples to demonstrate the correctness of the triad, is noth- 
ing but a relic of the Hegelianism out of which scientific Socialism has 
grown, a relic of its mode of expression. And, indeed, once it has been 
categorically declared that to attempt to "prove" anything by triads is 
absurd, and that nobody even thought of doing so, what significance can 
examples of "dialectical" processes have? Is it not obvious that they mere- 
ly point to the origin of the doctrine, and nothing more? Mr.Mikhai- 
lovsky himself feels this when he says that the theory should not be blamed 
for its origin. But in order to discern in Engels ' arguments something 
more than the origin of the theory, it would obviously be necessary to prove 
that the materialists had settled at least one historical problem by means 
of triads, and not on the basis of the pertinent facts. Did Mr. Mikhai- 
lovsky attempt to prove this? Not a bit of it. On the contrary, he was 
himself obliged to admit that "Marx filled the empty dialectical scheme 
so full with factual content that it could be removed from this content 
like a lid from a bowl without anything being changed" (as to the ex- 
ception which Mr. Mikhailovsky makes here regarding the future we 
shall deal with it anon.) If that is so, why is Mr. Mikhailovsky so eagerly 
concerned with this lid that changes nothing? Why does he assure us 
that the materialists "rest" their case on the unimpeachableness of the 
dialectical process? Why, when he is combating this lid, does he declare 
that he is combating one of the "pillars" of scientific Socialism, which 
is a direct untruth? 

I shall not, of course, examine how Mr. Mikhailovsky analyses the 
examples of triads, because, I repeat, this has no connection whatever 
either with scientific materialism or with Russian Marxism. But the 
interesting question arises: what grounds had Mr. Mikhailovsky for 
so distorting the attitude of Marxists to dialectics? Twofold grounds: 
firstly, Mr. Mikhailovsky heard something, but did not quite grasp what 
it was all about; secondly, Mr. Mikhailovsky performed another piece 
of juggling (or, rather, borrowed it from Diihring). 

As to the first point, when reading Marxist literature Mr. Mikhailov- 
sky constantly came across references to "the dialectical method" in so- 
cial science, "dialectical thought," again in the sphere of social problems 
(which is alone in question) and so forth. In his simplicity of heart (it 
were well if it were only simplicity) he- took it for granted that this method 
consists in solving all sociological problems in accordance with the laws 
of the Hegelian triad. If he had been just a little more attentive to the 
matter in hand he could not but have become convinced of the stu- 
pidity of this notion. What Marx and Engels called the dialectical meth- 


od in contradistinction to the metaphysical method is nothing more 
nor less than the scientific method in sociology, which consists in regard- 
ing society as a living organism in a constant state of development (and 
not as something mechanically concatenated and therefore allowing 
any arbitrary combination of separate social elements), the study of 
which requires an objective analysis of the relations of production that 
constitute the given social formation and an investigation of its laws 
of functioning and development. We shall endeavour below to illustrate 
the relation between the dialectical method and the metaphysical method 
(to which concept the subjective method in sociology undoubtedly belongs) 
by Mr. Mikhailovsky's own arguments. For the present we shall only 
observe that anyone who reads the definition and description of the 
dialectical method given either by Engels (in the polemic against 
Diihring: Socialism, Utopian and Scientific) or by Marx (various notes 
in Capital and the Postscript to the second edition; The Poverty of Phi- 
losophy), will see that the Hegelian triads are not even mentioned, and 
that it all amounts to regarding social evolution as a natural-historical 
process of development of economic formations of society. In confirmation 
of this I shall cite in extenso the description of the dialectical method 
given in the Vestnik Evropy, 1872, No. 5 (in the article, "The Standpoint 
of Karl Marx's Critique of Political Economy"), which is quoted by Marx 
in the Postscript to the second edition of Capital. Marx there says that 
the method employed in Capital has been little understood. 

"German reviews, of course, shriek out at 'Hegelian sophistics. 1 " 

And in order to illustrate his method more clearly, Marx quotes the 
description of it given in the article mentioned. 

"The one thing which is of moment to Marx," it is there stated, 
"is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation 
he is concerned. . . . Of still greater moment to him is the law 
of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition 
from one form into another, from one series of connections into a 
different one. . . . Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about 
one thing: to show, by precise scientific investigation, the necessity 
of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to 
establish, as fully as possible, the facts that serve him as basis and 
starting points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at 
the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, 
and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevi- 
tably pass over quite irrespective of whether men believe or. do 
not believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. 
Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, 
governed by laws not only independent of human will, conscious- 
ness and intentions, but rather, on the contrary, '.determining their 

104 V, I. LENIN 

U consciousness and intentions of men. [To be noted by Messieurs 
the sub j activists, who separate social evolution from the evolution 
of natural history because man sets himself conscious 'aims' and 
is guided by definite ideals.] If in the history of civilization the 
conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evi- 
dent that a critical inquiry whose subject matter is civilization, 
can, ^less than anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any 
result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the 
outward manifestation alone can serve as its starting point. Such 
an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the com- 
parison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. For this in- 
quiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be investigated 
as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, each with 
respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution; but most 
important of all is the no less accurate analysis of the series of 
successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which the 
different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But it 
will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the 
same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or 
the past. This Marx directly denies. . . . On the contrary, in 
his opinion every historical period has laws of its own. . . . 
Economic life offers a phenomenon analogous to the history 
of evolution in other branches of biology. . . . The old economists 
misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them 
to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis of 
phenomena shows that social organisms differ among themselves 
as fundamentally as plants or animals. . . . Whilst Marx sets himself 
the task of following and explaining from this point of view the 
capitalist economic system, he is only formulating, in a strictly 
scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into 
economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry 
lies in the disclosing of the special [historical] laws that regulate 
the origin, existence, development, and death of a given social orga- 
nism and its replacement by another and higher one." 
Such is the description of the dialectical method which Marx fished out 
of the bottomless pit of magazine and newspaper comments on Capital, and 
which he translated into German, because this description of the method, 
as he himself says, is entirely correct. One asks, is there any mention 
here, even a single word, about triads, trichotomies, the unimpeach- 
ableness of the dialectical process and suchlike nonsense, at which 
Mr. Mikhailovsky tilts in so knightly a fashion? And after giving this 
description, Marx plainly says that his method is the "direct opposite" 
of Hegel 's method. According to Hegel the development of the idea, in con- 
formity with the dialectical laws of the triad, determines the development 
of the real world. And it is of course only in that case that one could speak 


of the importance of the triads and of the unimpeachableness of the dia- 
lectical process. "With me, on the contrary," Marx says, "the ideal is 
nothing else than the material world reflected." And the whole mat- 
ter thus amounts to an "affirmative recognition of the existing state 
of things" and of its inevitable development. No other role remains for 
the triads than as a lid and a skin ("I coquetted with the modes of 
expression" of Hegel, Marx says in this same Postscript), in which only 
philistines could be interested. How, one now asks, should we judge a man 
who set out to criticize one of the "pillars" of scientific materialism, 
i.e., dialectics, and began to speak of anything you like, even of frogs 
and Napoleon, except of what dialectics is, of whether the development 
of society is really a process of natural history, whether the materialist 
conception of economic formations of society as special social organisms is 
correct, whether the methods of objective analysis of these formations 
arc right, whether social ideas really do not determine social development 
but are themselves defined by it, and so forth? Can one assume only 
a lack of understanding in this case? 

As to the second point: after such a "criticism" of dialectics, 
Mr. Mikhailovsky attributes to Marx these methods of proof "by means of 
Hegelian triads, and, of course, victoriously combats them. 

"Regarding the future," he says, "the immanent laws of society 
are based purely on dialectics." (This is the exception referred 
to above.) 

Marx's arguments on the subject of the inevitability of the expropria- 
tion of the expropriators by virtue of the laws of development of capital- 
ism are "purely dialectical." Marx's "ideal" of the common ownership 
of land and capital "in the sense of its inevitability and unimpeachable- 
ness rests entirely on the end of an Hegelian three-term chain." 

This argument is entirely taken from Diihring, who adduces it in his 
Kritische Oeschichte der Nationalokonomie und des Sozialismus (3 Aufl. y 
1879, S. 486-87).* But Mr. Mikhailovsky says not a word about Diihring. 
Perhaps the idea of garbling Marx in this way occurred to him independ- 

Engels gave a splendid reply to Diihring, and since he also quotes Diih- 
ring 's criticism we shall confine ourselves to Engels ' reply. The reader will 
see that it fits Mr. Mikhailovsky perfectly. 

"'This historical sketch (of the genesis of the so-called primitive 
accumulation of capital in England) is relatively the best part of 
Marx's book [says Diihring], and would be even better if it had not 
relied on dialectical crutches to help out its scholarly basis. The He- 
gelian negation of the negation, in default of anything better and 

* A Critical History of National Economy and Socialism, third edition, 1879, 
pp. 486-87. Ed. 

106 V. I. LENIN 

clearer, has in fact to serve here as the midwife to deliver the fu- 
ture from the womb of the past. The abolition of individual property, 
which since the sixteenth century has been effected in the way indi- 
cated, is the first negation. It will be followed by a second, 
which bears the character of a negation of the negation, hence the 
restoration of "individual property," but in a higher form, based 
on common ownership of the land and of the instruments of labour. 
Herr Marx also calls this new "individual property" "social prop- 
erty," and in this we have the Hegelian higher unity, in which the 
contradiction is resolved [aufgehoben a specific Hegelian term], that 
is to say, in the Hegelian verbal jugglery, it is both overcome and 
preserved. . . . According to this, the expropriation of the expro- 
priators is as it were the automatic result of historical reality in its 
material and external relations. ... It would be difficult to convince 
a sensible man of the necessity of the common ownership of land and 
capital on the basis of Hegelian word-juggling such as the negation 
of the negation. . . . The nebulous hybrids of Marx's conceptions 
will however surprise no one who realizes what phantasies can be 
built up with the Hegelian dialectics as the scientific basis, or rather 
what absurdities necessarily spring from it. For the benefit of the 
reader who is not familiar with these artifices, it must be expressly 
pointed out that Hegel's first negation is the idea of the fall from 
grace, which is taken from the catechism, and his second is the idea 
of a higher unity leading to redemption. The logic of facts can hardly 
be based on this nonsensical analogy borrowed from the religious 
sphere. . . . Herr Marx remains cheerfully in the nebulous world of 
his property which is at the same time both individual and social and 
leaves it to his adepts to solve for themselves this profound dialectical 
enigma. ' Thus far Herr Diiriring. 

"So [Engels concludes] Marx has no other way of proving the ne- 
cessity of the social revolution and the establishment of a social 
system based on the common ownership of land and of the means of 
production produced by labour, except by appealing to the Hegelian 
negation of the negation; and because he bases his Socialist theory on 
these nonsensical analogies borrowed from religion, he arrives at the 
result that in the society of the future there will be property which 
is at the same time both individual and social, as the Hegelian higher 
unity of the sublated contradiction. * 

* That this formulation of Duhring's views perfectly fits Mr. Mikhailovsky too 
is proved by the following passage in his article "Karl Marx before the Tribunal 
of Mr. Zhukovsky." Objecting to Mr. Zhukovsky's assertion that Marx is a 
defender of private property, Mr. Mikhailovsky refers to this scheme of Marx's 
and explains it in the following manner. "In his scheme Marx performed two 
well-known tricks of the Hegelian dialectics: firstly, the scheme is constructed 
in accordance with the laws of the Hegelian triad; secondly, the synthesis is based 
on the identity of opposites individual and social property. This means that 


"Let us for the moment leave the negation of the negation to look 
after itself, and let us have a look at the 'property which is at the 
same time both individual and social.' Herr Diihring characterizes 
this as a 'nebulous world, ' and curiously enough he is really right on 
this point. Unfortunately, however, it is not Marx but on the con- 
trary Herr Diihring himself who is in this nebulous world ... he can 
put Marx right a la Hegel, by foisting on him the higher unity of pro- 
perty, of which there is not a word in Marx. [Marx says:] 

"'It is the negation of negation. This does not reestablish private 
property for the producer, but gives him individual property based 
on the acquisitions of the capitalist era, i. e. 9 on co-operation of free 
labourers and the possession in common of the land and of the means 
of production. 

"'The transformation of scattered private property, arising from 
individual labour, into capitalist private property is, naturally, a 
process, incomparably more protracted, violent, and difficult, than 
the transformation of capitalistic private property, already practi- 
cally resting on socialized production, into socialized property. '* 

"That is all. The state of things brought about through the ex- 
propriation of the expropriators is therefore characterized as the re- 
establishment of individual property, but 'on the basis' of the social 
ownership of the land and of the means of production produced by 
labour itself. To anyone who understands German [and Russian too, 
Mr. Mikhailovsky, because the translation is absolutely correct] this 
means that social ownership extends to the land and the other means 
of production, and private ownership to the products, that is, the 
articles of consumption. And in order to make this comprehensible 
even to children of six, Marx assumes on page 56** 'a community of 
free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production 
in common, in which the labour power of all the different individuals 
is consciously applied as the combined labour power of the commu- 
nity,' that is, a society organized on a Socialist basis; and he 
says: 'The total product of our community is a social product. One 
portion serves as fresh means of production and remains social. But 
another portion is consumed by the members as means of subsist- 
ence. A distribution of this portion among them is consequently neces- 
sary. ' And surely that is clear enough even for Herr Diihring. . . . 

the word 'individual* here has the specific, purely arbitrary meaning of a term 
of the dialectical process, and absolutely nothing can be based on it." This was 
said by a man of the most estimable intentions, defending, in the eyes of the 
Russian public, the "sanguine" Marx from the bourgeois Mr. Zhukovsky. And 
with these estimable intentions he explains Marx as basing his conception of the 
process on "tricks" 1 Mr. Mikhailovsky may draw from this the for him not 
unprofitable moral, that estimable intentions alone are never quite enough. 

* Capital, Vol. I, p. 837. Ed. 
**/Wd.,p.90. Ed. 

108 V. i. LENIN 

"The property which is at the same time both private and social, 
this confused hybrid, this absurdity which necessarily springs from 
Hegelian dialectics, this nebulous world, this profound dialectical 
enigma, which Marx leaves his adepts to solve for themselves is yet 
another free creation and imagination on the part of Herr Diihring. . . . 

"But what role [Engels continues] does the negation of the nega- 
tion-play in Marx? On page 791 * and the following pages he sets out 
the conclusions which he draws from the preceding fifty pages of eco- 
nomic and historical investigation into the so-called primitive ac- 
cumulation of capital. Before the capitalist era, at least in England, 
petty industry existed on the basis of the private property of the la- 
bourer in his means of production. The so-called primitive accumula- 
tion of capital consisted in this case in the expropriation of these im- 
mediate producers, that is, in the dissolution of private property based 
on the labour of its owner. This was possible because the petty 
industry referred to above is compatible only with a system of produc- 
tion, and a society, moving within narrow and primitive bounds, 
and at a certain stage of its development it brings forth the material 
agencies for its own annihilation. This annihilation, the transfor- 
mation of the individual and scattered means of production into so- 
cially concentrated ones, forms the pre-history of capital. As soon as 
the labourers are turned into proletarians, their means of labour into 
capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own 
feet, the further socialization of labour and further transformation 
of the land andother means of production [into capital], and therefore 
the further expropriation of private proprietors takes a new form. 

"'That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer 
working for himself, but tjie capitalist exploiting many labourers. 
This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent 
laws of capitalistic production itself, by the centralization of capital. 
One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this centraliza- 
tion, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an 
ever extending scale, the co-operative form of the labour process, the 
conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation 
of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instru- 
ments of labour only usable in common, the economizing of all 
means of production by their use as the means of production of com- 
bined, socialized labour. . . . Along with the constantly diminishing 
number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all 
advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of mis- 
ery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too 
grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in 
number, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism 

* Ibid., p. 834. Ed. 


of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capi- 
tal becomes a fetter upon the mode of product ion, which has sprung up 
and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means 
of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where 
they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This in- 
tegument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property 
sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.'* 

"And now I ask the reader: where are the dialectical frills and 
mazes and intellectual arabesques; where the mixed and misconceived 
ideas as a result of which everything is all one in the end; where the 
dialectical miracles for his faithful followers; where the mysterious 
dialectical rubbish and the contortions based on the Hegelian Logos 
doctrine, without which Marx, according to Herr Duhring, is quite 
unable to accomplish his development? Marx merely shows from his- 
tory, and in this passage states in a summarized form, that just as 
the former petty industry necessarily, through its own development, 
created the conditions of its annihilation, i.e., of the expropriation 
of the small proprietors, so now the capitalist mode of production has 
likewise itself created the material conditions which will annihilate 
it. The process is a historical one, and if it is at the same time a dia- 
lectical process, this is not Marx's fault, however annoying it may 
be for Herr Duhring. 

"It is only at this point, after Marx has completed his proof on the 
basis of historical and economic facts, that he proceeds: 'The capi- 
talist mode of production and appropriation, and hence capitalist 
private property, is the first negation of individual private property 
founded on the labours of the proprietor. But capitalist production 
begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. 
It is the negation of the negation' and so on (as quoted above). 

"In characterizing the process as the negation of the negation, 
therefore, Marx does not dream of attempting to prove by this that 
the process was historically necessary. On the contrary: after he has 
proved from history that in fact the process has partially already 
occurred, and partially must occur in the future, he then also char- 
acterizes it as a process which develops in accordance with a definite 
dialectical law. That is all. It is therefore once again a pure distortion 
of the facts by Herr Duhring, when he declares that the negation of the 
negation has to serve here as the midwife to deliver the future from 
the womb of the past, or that Marx wants anyone to allow himself to 
be convinced of the necessity of the common ownership of land and 
capital ... on the basis of the negation of the negation."** 

* Capital, pp. 836-37. Ed. 

** Frederick Engcls, Herr Kugen Duhrinff's Revolution in Science, Eng. Ed., 
Moscow, 1934, pp. 147-52. Ed. 

110 V. I. LENIN 

The reader will see that the whole of Engels' splendid rebuttal of Diihr- 
ing given here applies in all respects to Mr. Mikhailovsky, who 
also asserts that with Marx the future rests exclusively on the end of an 
Hegelian chain and that the conviction of its inevitability can be founded 
only on faith.* 

The whole difference between Diihring and Mr. Mikhailovsky reduces 
itself to the following two small points: Firstly, Diihring, despite the fact 
that he cannot speak of Marx without foaming at the mouth, nevertheless 
considered it necessary to mention in the next fectionof his History that 
Marx in the Postscript categorically repudiated the accusation of being 
a Hegelian, whereas Mr. Mikhailovsky remains silent as to this (above 
quoted) absolutely definite and clear statement by Marx of what he con- 
ceives the dialectical method to be. 

Secondly, another peculiarity of Mr. Mikhailovsky 's is that he concen- 
trated all his attention on the use of tenses. Why, when he speaks of the 
future, does Marx use the present tense? our philosopher demands with 
an air of triumph. The answer to this you will find in any grammar, most 
worthy critic: you will find that the present tense is used in the 
future when the future is regarded as inevitable and unquestionable. 
But why so, why is it unquestionable? Mr. Mikhailovsky anxiously 
asks, desiring to convey such profound agitation as would justify even a 
distortion. But on this point, too, Marx gave an absolutely definite reply. 
You may consider it inadequate or wrong, but in that case you must 
show how exactly and why exactly it is wrong, and not talk nonsense about 

Time was when Mr. Mikhailovsky not only knew himself what this 
reply was, but lectured others on it. Mr. Zhukovsky, he wrote in 1877, 
might with good grounds regardMarx's construction concerning the future 
as conjectural, but "he had no moral right" to ignore the question of the 
socialization of labour, "to which Marx attributes vast importance." 
Well, of course! Zhukovsky in 1877 had no moral right to ignore the ques- 
tion, but Mr. Mikhailovsky in 1894 has this moral right. Perhaps, quod licet 
Jovi, nan licet bovitl** 

At this point I cannot help recalling an amusing conception of this so- 
cialization which was atone time expressed in Otechestvenniye Zapiski. In 
No. 7, 1883, this magazine printed a "Letter to the Editor" from a 

* It would not be superfluous, I think, to note in this connection that this entire 
explanation is contained in that same chapter in which Engels discusses the seed, 
the teaching of Rousseau, and other examples of the dialectical process. One would 
have thought that a mere comparison of these examples with the clear and 
categorical statements of Engels (and of Marx, who had read the work in 
manuscript) to the effect that there can be no question of proving anything by 
triads or of inserting in the depiction of the real process the "conditional terms" 
of these triads, should be quite sufficient to make clear the absurdity of accusing 
Marxism of Hegelian dialectics. 

* What Jove may do, the bull may not. Ed. 


certain Mr. Postoronny*who, just like Mr. Mikhailovsky, regarded Marx 's 
"construction" about the future as conjectural. 

"Essentially," this gentleman argues, "the social form of labour 
under capitalism amounts to this, that several hundred or thousand 
workers grind, hammer, turn, lay on, lay under, pull and perform 
numerous other operations under one roof. As to the general character 
of this regime it is excellently expressed by the pro verb: 'Each for him- 
self, and God for all. ' What is there social about this form of labour?" 

Well, you can see at once that the man has grasped what it is all about! 
"The social form of labour . . . amounts to ... working under one 
roof!" And when such preposterous ideas are expressed in one of the best 
of the Russian magazines, they want to assure us that the theoretical 
part of Capital is generally recognized by science. Yes, as it was unable 
to adduce any objection to Capital of any serious weight, "generally rec- 
ognized science" began to bow and scrape before it, at the same time 
continuing to betray the most elementary ignorance and to repeat the old 
banalities of school economics. We shall have to dwell a little on this 
question in order to make clear to Mr. Mikhailovsky the real meaning of 
the matter, which, according to his usual custom, he has entirely ignored. 

The socialization of labour by capitalist production does not consist 
in the fact that people work under one roof (that is only a small part of the 
process), but in the fact that concentration of capital is accompanied 
by specialization of social labour, by a reduction in the number of capital- 
ists in any given branch of industry and an increase in the number of 
special branches of industry in the fact that many scattered processes of 
production are merged into one social process of production. When, in the 
days of handicraft weaving, for example, the smal ^producers themselves 
spun the yarn and made it into cloth, we had only a few branches of in- 
dustry (spinning and weaving were merged). But when production be- 
comes socialized by capitalism, the number of special branches of industry 
increases: cotton spinning and cotton weaving are separated; this divi- 
sion and concentration of production in their turn give rise to new 
branches machine-building, coal mining, and so forth. In each branch 
of industry, which has now become more specialized, the number of 
capitalists steadily decreases. This means that the social tie between the 
producers becomes increasingly stronger, the producers become weld- 
ed into a single whole. The isolated small producers each performed 
several operations at one time, and were therefore relatively independent 
of each other: if, for instance, a handicraftsman himself sowed flax, and 
himself spun and wove, he was almost independent of others. It was 
this (and only this) regime of small, disunited commodity producers 
that justified the proverb: "Each for himself, and God for all," that is, 

* A pseudonym used by N. K. Mikhailovsky. Ed. 

112 V. I. LENIN 

the anarchy of market fluctuations. But the case is entirely different under 
the socialization of labour achieved by capitalism. The manufacturer 
who produces fabrics depends on the cotton yarn manufacturer; the lat- 
ter on the capitalist planter who grows the cotton, on the owner of the 
machine-building works, the coal mine, and so on and so forth. The re- 
sult is that no capitalist can get along without others. It is clear 
that the proverb "each for himself" is quite inapplicable to such a regime: 
here each works for all and all for each (and no room is left for God 
either as a supermundane fantasy or as a mundane "golden calf"). The 
character of the regime completely changes. If during the regime of small, 
isolated enterprises work came to a standstill in any one of them, this 
affected only a small number of members of society, did not cause any 
general disturbance, and therefore did not attract general attention and 
did not provoke social interference. But if work comes to a standstill 
in a large enterprise, devoted to a highly specialized branch of industry, 
and therefore working almost for the whole of society and, in its turn, 
dependent on the whole of society (for the sake of simplicity I take a 
case where socialization has attained the culminating point), work is bound 
to come to a standstill in all the other enterprises of society, because 
they can obtain the necessary products only from this enterprise and can 
dispose of all their commodities only provided the commodities of this 
enterprise are available. The whole of production thus becomes fused 
into a single social process of production; yet each enterprise is conduct- 
ed by a separate capitalist, is dependent on his will and pleasure and turns 
over the social products to him as his private property. Is it not clear that 
the form of production comes into irreconcilable contradiction with the 
form of appropriation? Is it not evident that the latter is bound to adapt 
itself to the former and is also bound to become social, that is, Socialist? 
But the smart philiStine of the Otechestvenniye Zapiski reduces the whole 
thing to the performance of work under one roof. Could anything be wider 
of the mark! (I have described only the material process, only the change 
in the relations of production, without touching on the social aspect of 
the process, the amalgamation, welding and organization of the workers, 
since that is a derivative and subsidiary phenomenon.) 

The reason that such elementary things have to be explained to the 
Russian "democrats" is that they are immersed to their very ears in 
middle-class ideas and are positively unable to imagine any but a mid- 
dle-class order of things. 

But let us return to Mr. Mikhailovsky. What objections did he level 
against the facts and considerations on which Marx based the conclusion 
that the Socialist system was inevitable by virtue of the very laws of 
development of capitalism? Did he show that in reality under a com- 
modity organization of social economy there is no growing specializa- 
tion of the social process of labour, no concentration of capital and enter- 
prises, no socialization of the whole labour process? No, he did not cite 


a 'single instance in refutation of these facts. Did he shake the proposi- 
tion that anarchy, which is irreconcilable with the socialization of labour, 
is an inherent feature of capitalist society? He said nothing about this. Did 
he prove that the amalgamation of the labour processes of all the capita- 
lists into a single social labour process is compatible with private property, 
or that some solution to the contradiction other than that indicated by 
Marx is possible or conceivable? No, he did not say a single word about this. 

On what then does his criticism rest? On twistings and distortions and 
on a spate of words, words that are nothing but noise and wind. 

For, indeed, how else are we to characterize such methods as the 
critic, having first talked a lot of nonsense about triple successive steps 
of history, demands of Marx with a serious air: "And what next?" that 
is, how will history proceed beyond that final stage of the process which 
he has described. Please note that from the very outset of his literary 
and revolutionary career Marx most definitely demanded that socio- 
logical theory should accurately depict the real process and nothing 
more (c/., for instance, The Communist Manifesto on the Communists' 
criterion of theory). He strictly adhered to this demand in his Capital: 
he made it his task to give a scientific analysis of the capitalist formation 
of society and there he stopped, having shown that the development of 
this organization actually going on before our eyes has such and such a 
tendency, that it must inevitably perish and become transformed into an- 
other, a higher organization. But Mr. Mikhailovsky, overlooking the whole 
meaning of Marx's doctrine, puts his stupid question: "And what next?" 
And he adds with an air of profundity : "I must frankly confess that I cannot 
quite conceive what Engels would reply." But we must frankly confess, 
Mr. Mikhailovsky, that we can quite conceive the spirit and methods of 
such "criticism." 

Or take the following argument: 

"In the Middle Ages, Marx's individual property based on the pro- 
prietor's own labour was neither the only nor the predominating 
factor, even in the realm of economic relations. There was much 
more alongside of it, to which, however, the dialectical method 
in Marx's interpretation [and not in Mr. Mikhailovsky 's garbled 
version of it?] does not propose to return. ... It is evident that 
all these schemes do not present a picture of historical reality, or 
even of its proportions, but simply satisfy the tendency of the human 
mind to think of every object in its past, present and future states." 

Even your methods of garbling, Mr. Mikhailovsky, are stereotyped 
to the point of nausea. First he insinuates into Marx's scheme, which 
claims to formulate the actual process of development of capitalism,* 

* Other features of the economic system of the Middle Ages are omitted for 
the very reason that they belonged to the feudal social formation, whereas Marx 
investigates only the capitalist formation. In its pure form the process of develop- 

114 V. I. LENIN 

and nothing else, the intention of proving everything by triads; then 
he establishes the fact that Marx 's scheme does not conform to this plan 
foisted on it by Mr. Mikhailovsky (the third stage restores only one 
aspect of the first stage, omitting all the others); and then in the coolest 
manner possible he comes to the conclusion that "the scheme evidently 
does not present a picture of historical reality"! 

Is any serious controversy thinkable with such a man, a man who (as 
Engels said of Diihring) is incapable of quoting accurately even by 
way of exception? Is there any arguing, when the public is assured that 
the scheme "evidently" does not conform to reality, while not even an 
attempt is made to prove its falsity in any particular? 

Instead of criticizing the real contents of Marxist views, Mr. Mikhai- 
lovsky exercises his ingenuity on the subject of the categories past, pre- 
sent and future. Arguing against the "eternal truths" of Herr Diihring, 
Engels, for instance, says that the "morality . . . preached to us today** is 
a threefold morality; feudal Christian, bourgeois and proletarian, so 
that the past, present and future have their own theories of morality. 
In this connection, Mr. Mikhailovsky reasons as follows: 

"I think that it is the categories past, present and future that 
lie at the basis of all triple divisions of history into periods." 

What profundity I Who does not know that if any social phenomenon 
is examined in its process of development, there will always be discov- 
ered in it relics of the past, the foundations of the present and the 
germs of the future? But did Engels, for instance, think of asserting that 
the history of morality (he was speaking, we know, only of the "pre- 
sent") was confined to the three factors indicated, that feudal morality, 
for example, was not preceded by slave morality, and the latter by the 
morality of the primitive Communist community? Instead of seriously 
criticizing Engels ' attempt to analyse the modern trends of moral ideas by 
explaining them materialistically, Mr. Mikhailovsky treats us to the 
most empty phrasemongering. 

In connection with the methods of "criticism" Mr. Mikhailovsky 
resorts to, a criticism which begins with the statement that he does not 
know where, in what work, the materialist conception of history is expound- 
ed, it would perhaps not be unprofitable to recall that there was a time 
when the author knew one of these works and was capable of appraising it 
more correctly. In 1877, Mr. Mikhailovsky expressed the following 
opinion of Capital: 

"If we remove from Capital the heavy, clumsy and unnecessary 
lid of Hegelian dialectics [How strange! How is it that "the Hege* 
lian dialectics" was "unnecessary" in 1877, while in 1894 it appears 

ment of capitalism actually did begin for instance, in England with the regime 
of small, isolated commodity producers and their individual labour property. 


that materialism tests on "the unimpeachableness of the dialectic- 
al process"?], we shall observe in it, aside from the other merits 
of this work, splendidly digested material for an answer to the 
general question of the relation of forms to the material conditions 
of their existence, and an excellent formulation of this question 
for a definite sphere." 

"The relation of forms to the material conditions of their existence" 
why, this is precisely that question of the inter-relation of the various 
aspects of social life, of the superstructure of ideological social relations 
resting on material relations, in the answer to which the doctrine of ma- 
terialism consists. Let us proceed. 

"In point of fact, the whole of 'Capital 9 [my italics] is devoted 
to an inquiry into how a social form, once arisen, continues to 
develop and accentuates its typical features, subjecting to itself 
and assimilating discoveries, inventions, improvements in methods 
of production, new markets and science itself, compelling them to 
work for it, and how, finally, the given form is unable to stand any 
further changes in material conditions." 

An astonishing thing! In 1877, "the whole of 'Capital' 99 was devoted to 
a materialist inquiry into a given social form (what is materialism if not 
an explanation of social forms by material conditions), whereas in 1894 
it turns out that it is not even known where, in what work, an exposition 
of this materialism is to be sought! 

In 1877, Capital contained an "inquiry" into how "a given form 
[the capitalist form, is that not so?] is unable to stand any further changes 
in material conditions" (mark that!) whereas in 1894 it turns out that 
there was no inquiry at all, and that the conviction that the capitalist 
form is unable to stand any further development of productive forces rests 
"entirely on the end of a Hegelian triad"! In 1877, Mr. Mikhailovsky 
wrote that "the analysis of the relations of the given social form to the 
material conditions of its existence will forever [my italics] remain a 
memorial to the logical force and the vast erudition of the author" 
whereas in 1894 he declares that the doctrine of materialism has never 
and nowhere been verified and proved scientifically! 

An astonishing thing! What can this mean? What has happened? 

Two things have happened. Firstly, the Russian peasant Socialism 
of the 'seventies which "snorted" at freedom because of its bourgeois 
character, which fought the "clear-browed liberals" who zealously glossed 
over the antagonisms of Russian life, and which dreamed of a peasant 
revolution has completely decayed and has begotten that vulgar middle- 
class liberalism which discerns an "encouraging impression" in the 
progressive trends of peasant husbandry, forgetting that they are accompa- 
nied (and determined) by the wholesale expropriation of the peasantry. 

11 V. L LENIN 

Secondly, in 1877 Mr, Mikhailovsky was so engrossed in his task 
of defending the "sanguine" (i.e., revolutionary Socialist) Mar* from the 
liberal critics that he failed to observe the incompatibility of Marx's 
method with his own method. But now this irreconcilable antagonism be- 
tween dialectical materialism and subjective sociology has been explained 
to him explained by Engels' articles and books, and by the Russian 
Social-Democrats (in Plekhanov one frequently meets with very apt 
comments on Mr. Mikhailovsky) and Mr. Mikhailovsky, instead of 
seriously sitting down to reconsider the whole question, has simply taken the 
bit between his teeth. Instead of welcoming Marx, as he did in 1872 and 
1877, he now yelps at him under the guise of dubious praises, and shouts 
and fumes against the Russian Marxists for not wanting to rest content 
with "the defence of the economically weak," with warehouses and improve- 
ments in the countryside, with museums and artels for kustars and 
similar well-meaning philistine ideas of progress, and for wanting to 
remain "sanguine" advocates of a social revolution and to teach, guide 
and organize the really revolutionary elements of society. 

After this brief excursion into the realm of the long-ago, one may, 
we think, conclude this examination of Mr. Mikhailovsky 's "criticism" 
of Marx's theory. Let us then try to review and summarize the critic's 

The doctrine he designed to destroy rests, firstly, on the materialist 
conception of history, and, secondly, on the dialectical method. 

As to the first, the critic began by declaring that he does not know 
where, in what work materialism is expounded. Not having found this 
exposition anywhere, he began to invent a meaning for materialism him- 
self. In order to give an idea of tbe excessive claims of this materialism, 
he invented the story that the materialists claim to have explained the 
entire past, present and future of mankind and when it subsequently 
transpired from a consul tat ion of authentic statements of the Marxists that 
they regard only one social formation as having been explained, the critic 
decided that the materialists are narrowing the scope of materialism, 
whereby, he asserts, they are destroying their own position. In order to 
give an idea of the methods by which this materialism was worked out, 
he invented the story that the materialists themselves confessed to the 
inadequacy of their knowledge for such a purpose as the working out of 
scientific Socialism, in spite of the fact that Marx and Engels confessed to 
the inadequacy of their knowledge (in 1845-46) in relation to economic 
history in general, and in spite of the fact that they never published the 
work which testified to this inadequacy of knowledge. After these preludes, 
we were treated to the criticism itself: Capital was annihilated by the fact 
that it deals with only one period, whereas the critic wants to have all 
periods, and also by the fact that it does not affirm economic materialism, 
but simply touches upon it arguments, evidently, so weighty and cogent 
as to compel the recognition that materialism had never been scientifically 


proved. Then the fact was] brought against materialism that a man who 
had absolutely no connection with this doctrine, having studied prc-historic 
times in an entirely different country, also arrived at materialist conclu- 
sions. Further, in order to show that it was absolutely wrong to bring 
procreation into materialism, that this was nothing but a verbal artifice, 
the critic set out to prove that economic relations are a superstructure 
on sexual and family relations. The statements made by our weighty critic 
in the course of this for the edification of the materialists enriched Us 
with the profound verity that inheritance is impossible without procre- 
ation, that a complex psychology "borders" on the products of this 
procreation, and that children are brought up in the spirit of their 
fathers. In passing, we also learnt that national ties are a continuation 
and generalization of gentile ties. 

Continuing his theoretical researches into materialism, the critic noted 
that the content of many of the arguments of the Marxists consists in the 
assertion that oppression and exploitation of the masses are "necessary" 
under the bourgeois regime and that this regime must "necessarily" be- 
come transformed into a Socialist regime and thereupon he hastened 
to declare that necessity is too general a parenthesis (if it is not stated 
what exactly people consider necessary) and that therefore Marxists 
are mystics and metaphysicians. The critic also declared that Marx's 
polemic against the idealists is "one-sided," but he did not say a wortf 
about the relation of the views of these idealists to the subjective 
method and the relation of Marx's dialectical materialism to these views. 

As to the second pillar of Marxism the dialectical method one 
push by the brave critic was enough to cast it to the ground. And the 
push was very well aimed: the critic wrought and laboured with incred- 
ible zeal to disprove that anything can be proved by triads, hushing up the 
fact that the dialectical method does not consist in triads, that it in fact 
consists in rejecting the methods of idealism and subjectivism in .sociol- 
ogy. Another push was specially aimed at Marx: with the help of the 
valorous Herr Diihring, the critic ascribed to Marx the incredible absurd- 
ity of trying to prove the necessity of the doom of capitalism by means 
of triads and then victoriously combated this absurdity. 

Such is the epos of brilliant "victories" of "our well-known sociologist" I 
How "edifying" (Burenin) is the contemplation of these victories, is it not? 

We cannot refrain at this point from touching on another circumstance, 
one which has no direct bearing on the criticism of Marx's doctrine, but 
which is extremely significant in elucidating the critic's ideals and his idea 
of reality, namely, his attitude to the working-class movement in Western 

Above we quoted a statement by Mr. Mikhailovsky in which he says 
that materialism has not justified itself in "science" (in the science of 
the German "friends of the people," perhaps?); but this materialism, 
argues Mr. Mikhailovsky, "is really spreading very rapidly among the 

118 V. I. LENIN 

working class." How docs Mr. Mikhailovsky explain this fact? "As to 
the success, " he says, "which economic materialism enjoys in breadth, so 
to speak, its widespread acceptance in a critically unverified form, this 
success chiefly lies, not in science, but in common practice established 
by prospects in the direction of the future." 

What other meaning can there be to this clumsy phrase about practice 
"established:" by prospects in the direction of the future than that mate- 
rialism is spreading not because it correctly explains reality, but because 
it turns away from reality in the direction of prospects? And he goes 
on to say: 

"These prospects demand of the German working class whicft is 
adopting them and of those who take a warm interest in its fate 
neither knowledge nor an effort of critical thought. They demand 
only faith." 

In other words, the wide spread of materialism and scientific Socialism 

is due to the fact that this doctrine promises the workers a better future! 

Why, anybody with even a most elementary acquaintance with the history 

of Socialism and of the working-class movement in the West will see 

the utter absurdity and falsity of this explanation. Everybody knows that 

scientific Socialism never painted any prospects for the future as such: it 

confined itself to analysing the present bourgeois regime, to studying the 

trenda of development of the capitalist social organization and that is all. 

"We do not say to the world," Marx wrote in 1843, and he fulfilled 

this program to the letter "We do not say to the world: 'Cease 

struggling... your whole struggle is futile.' We provide it with 

a true slogan for the struggle. We only show the world what it 

is really struggling for, and realization is a thing which the world 

must acquire, whether it liies it or not." 

Everybody knows that Capital 9 fot instance that prime and basic work 
in which scientific Socialism is expounded restricts itself to the most gen- 
eral allusions to the future and traces only those already existing elements 
from which the future system is springing. Everybody knows that as 
regards prospects for the future incomparably more was contributed by 
the earlier Socialists, who described the future society in every detail, 
desiring to fire mankind with a picture of a system under which people 
will get along without conflict and under which their social relations 
will be based not on exploitation but on true principles of progress, con- 
forming to the conditions of human nature. Nevertheless, in spite of a 
whole phalanx of highly talented people who expounded these ideas, 
and in spite of the most convinced Socialists, their theories stood aloof 
from life and their programs from the political movements of the people 
until large-scale machine industry drew the mass of the work- 
ing-class proletariat into the vortex of political life, and until the true 
slogan for their struggle was found. This slogan was found by Marx, not 


a "utopian, but a strict and, in places, even dry scientist" (as Mr. Mikhai- 
lovsky called him in long bygone days in 1872); and it was not found 
by virtue of prospects, but of a scientific analysis of the present bour- 
geois regime, by virtue of an elucidation of the necessity of exploitation 
under this regime, by virtue of an investigation of the laws of its 
development. Mr. Mikhailovsky, of course, may assure the readers of 
Rusakoye Bogatstvo that neither knowledge nor effort of thought is required 
to understand this analysis, but we have already seen in his own case 
(and shall see it no less in the case of his Economist collaborator) such 
a gross lack of understanding of the elementary truths established by this 
analysis that such a statement, of course, can only provoke a smile. It 
remains an indisputable fact that the spread and development of the work- 
ing-class movement are proceeding precisely where large-scale capital- 
ist machine industry is developing, and in proportion to its development, 
and that the Socialist doctrine is successful only when it stops arguing 
about the social conditions that harmonize with human nature and sets out 
to make a materialist analysis of contemporary social relations and to 
elucidate the necessity of the present regime of exploitation. 

Having tried to evade the real reasons for the success of materialism 
among the workers by describing the attitude of this doctrine to the 
"prospects," in a way which is directly contrary to the truth, 
Mr. Mikhailovsky now begins to scoff in the most vulgar and philistine 
manner at the ideas and tactics of the West European working-class move- 
ment. As we have seen, he was unable to bring literally a single argu- 
ment to bear against Marx 's proofs of the inevitability of the transformation 
of the capitalist system into a Socialist system as a result of the social- 
ization of labour. But without the slightest embarrassment, he ironically 
remarks that "the army of proletarians" is preparing to expropriate the 
capitalists, "whereupon all class conflict will cease and peace on earth and 
good- will among men will reign." He, Mr. Mikhailovsky, knows of far 
simpler and surer ways of achieving Socialism than this: All that is required 
is that the "friends of the people" should explain in greater detail the 
"clear and infallible" ways of achieving "the desired economic evolution" 
and then these friends of the people will most likely "be called" to solve 
the "practical economic problems" (see the article, "Problems of the Eco- 
nomic Development of Russia," by Mr. Yuzhakov, in Busskoye Bogatstvo, 
No. 11), and meanwhile . . . meanwhile the workers must wait, rely on 
the friends of the people and not undertake, with "unjustified self-as- 
surance," an independent struggle against the exploiters. Desiring utterly 
to demolish this "unjustified self-assurance," our author expresses his 
fervent disgust with "this science which can almost be contained in a vest- 
pocket dictionary." How terrible, indeed! Science and penny Social- 
Democratic pamphlets that can be put in one's pocket!! Is it not obvious 
how unjustifiably self-assured are the people who value science only to 
the extent that it teaches the exploited to wage an independent struggle 

120 V. I. LENIN 

for their emancipation teaches them to hold aloof from all "friends of 
the people" that gloss over class antagonism and desire to take the whole 
business upon themselves and who therefore expound this science in penny 
publications which so shock the philistines? How different it would 
be if the workers entrusted their destiny to the "friends of the people"! 
They would give them a real many-tomed, university, philistine science; 
they would Acquaint them with the details of a social organization which 
is in harmony with human nature, provided only . . . the workers consented 
to wait and did not themselves begin a struggle with such unjusti- 
fied self-assurance ! 

Before passing to the second part of Mr. Mikhailovsky 's "criticism," 
which this time is directed not against Marx's theory in general but 
against the Russian Social-Democrats in particular, we shall have to make 
a little digression. The fact of the matter is that just as, when criticizing 
Marx, Mr. Mikhailovsky not only made no attempt to give an accurate 
description of Marx's theory but definitely distorted it, so now he most 
unscrupulously garbles the ideas of the Russian Social-Democrats. The 
truth must be restored. This can be done most conveniently by comparing 
the ideas of the earlier Russian Socialists with the ideas of the Social- 
Democrats. I borrow an account of the former from an article by Mr. Mi- 
khailovsky in Russkaya Mysl, 1892, No. 6, in which he also spoke of Marx- 
ism (and spoke of it let it be said to his present shame in a decent tone, 
without dealing with questions which can be treated in a censored press 
only in the Burenin manner, and without confusing the Marxists with all 
sorts of riff-raff) and, as against Marxism or, at least, if not against, 
then parallel with Marxism set forth his own views. Of course, I have 
not the least desire to offend either Mr. Mikhailovsky, by reckoning him 
among the Socialists, or the Russian Socialists, by putting them on a par 
with Mr. Mikhailovsky; but I think that the line of argument is essen- 
tially the same in both cases, the difference being only in the degree 
of firmness, straightforwardness and consistency of their convictions. 

Describing the ideas of the Otechestvenniye Zapiski, Mr. Mikhailovsky 

"We have included the ownership of the land by the tiller and 
of the implements of labour by the producer among the moral and 
political ideals." 

The point of departure, you see, is most well-intentioned, inspired 
with the best wishes. . . . 

"The mediaeval forms of labour* still existing in our country have 
been seriously shaken, but we saw no reason to put a complete end 

* "By mediaeval forms of labour" the author explains in another place 
"are meant not only communal land ownership, handicraft industry and artel 


to them for the sake of any doctrine whatever, liberal or non- 

A strange argument! For, "forms of labour" of any kind can be shaken 
only by replacing them with some other forms; yet we do not find our 
author (nor any of his co-thinkers for that matter) even attempting to 
analyse and explain these new forms, or to ascertain why these new forms 
oust the old forms. Stranger still is the second half of the tirade: 

"We saw no reason to put an end to these forms for the sake of any 

What means do "we" (i>e. y the Socialists seethe above reservation) 
possess of "putting an end" to forms of labour, that is, of reconstructing 
the existing relations of production of the members of society? Is not the 
idea that these relations can be remade in accordance with a doctrine 
really absurd? Listen to what comes next: 

'-Our task is not to rear at all costs an 'exceptional' civilization 
from out of our own national depths; but neither is it to transplant to 
our country the Western civilization in toto y wiih all the contradic- 
tions that are rending it; we must take what is good from wher- 
ever we can; and whether it happens to be our own or foreign is not a 
matter of principle, but of practical convenience. Surely, this is 
so simple, clear and comprehensible that there is nothing even to 

And how simple it all is, indeed! "Take" what is good from everywhere 
and there you are! From the mediaeval forms "take" the ownership of 
the means of production by the worker, and from the new (i.e., the 
capitalist) forms "take" liberty, equality, enlightenment and culture. 
And there is nothing even to discuss! Here you have the whole subject- 
ive method of sociology in a nutshell: sociology starts with a Utopia 
the ownership of the land by the worker and points out the conditions 
for realizing the desirable, namely, "take" what is good from here and 
from there. This philosopher regards social relations from a purely 
metaphysical standpoint, as a simple mechanical aggregation of vari- 
ous institutions, as a simple mechanical concatenation of various 
phenomena. He plucks out one of these phenomena the ownership of 
the land by the tiller in mediaeval forms and thinks that it can 
be transplanted to all other forms, just as a brick can be transferred from 
one building to another. Yes, but that is not studying social relations; 
it is mutilating the material to be studied. In reality, there is no such 
thing as the ownership of the land by the tiller, existing individually 
and independently, as you have taken it. That was only one of the links 
in the relations of production of that time, which consisted in the land 

organization. These are undoubtedly all mediaeval forms, but to them must be 
added all forms of ownership of land or implements of production by the worker". 

122 V.I. LENIN 

being divided up among large landed proprietors, landlords, and the 
landlords allotting it to the peasants in order to exploit them, so that 
the land was, as it were, wages in kind: it provided the peasant with 
necessary products, in order that he might be able to produce surplus 
product for the landlord; it was a fund which secured the landlord the 
services of the peasant. Why did the author not follow up this system 
of relations of production, instead of confining himself to plucking 
out one phenomenon and thus presenting it in an absolutely false light? 
Because the author does not know how to handle social problems: he 
(I repeat, I am using Mr. Mikhailovsky's arguments only as an example 
in order to criticize Russian Socialism as a whole) does not even make it 
his business to explain the "forms of labour" of that time and to pre- 
sent them as a definite system of relations of production, as a definite 
social formation. To use Marx's expression the dialectical method, which 
obliges us to regard society as a living organism in its functioning and 
development, is foreign to him. 

Without stopping to think why the old forms of labour are ousted 
by the new forms, he repeats exactly the same error when he dis- 
cusses these new forms. It is enough for him to note that these forms 
"shake" the ownership of the land by the tiller that is, speaking 
more generally, find expression in the divorcement of the producer 
from the means of production and to condemn this for not conforming 
to the ideal. And here again his argument is utterly absurd: he plucks out 
one phenomenon (loss of land), without even attempting to represent it 
as a term of a now different system of relations of production, based on 
commodity production, which necessarily begets competition among the 
commodity producers, inequality, the impoverishment of some and the 
enrichment of others. He noted one phenomenon, the impoverishment of 
the masses, and put aside the other, the enrichment of the minority, and 
thereby deprived himself of the possibility of comprehending either. 

And such methods he calls "seeking answers to the questions of life 
in their flesh and blood form" (Russkoye Bogatetvo, 1894, No. 1), when 
as a matter of fact quite the contrary is the case: unable and unwilling to 
explain reality, to look it straight in the face, he ignominiously fled from 
these questions of life, with its struggle of the haves against the have- 
nots, to the realm of pious Utopias. This he calls "seeking answers to 
the questions of life in the ideal treatment of their actual burning and 
complex reality" (Biisskoye Bogatetvo, No. 1), when as a matter of fact 
he did not even attempt to analyse and explain this actual reality. 

Instead, he presented us with a Utopia contrived by senselessly pluck- 
ing individual elements from various social formations taking one 
thing from the mediaeval formation, another from the "new" forma- 
tion, and so on. It is obvious that a theory based on this was bound 
to stand aloof from actual social evolution, for the simple reason that 
our Utopians had to live and act not under social relations formed from 


elements taken from here and from there, but under those which deter- 
mine the relation of the peasant to the kulak (the thrifty muzhik), of the 
kustar to the dealer, of the worker to the manufacturer, and which 
they completely failed to comprehend. Their attempts and efforts to re- 
mould these uncomprehended relations in accordance with their ideal 
were bound to end in a fiasco. 

Such, in very general outline, was the position of Socialism in Russia 
when "the Russian Marxists appeared on the scene." 

It was precisely with a criticism of the subjective methods of the ear- 
lier Socialists that they began. Not satisfied with merely establishing 
the fact of exploitation and condemning it, they desired to explain it. 
Realizing that the whole post- Reform history of Russia consisted in the 
impoverishment of the mass and the enrichment of a minority, obser- 
ving the colossal expropriation of the small producers side by side with 
universal technical progress, noting that these opposite tendencies arose 
and became accentuated wherever, and to the extent that, commodity 
production developed and became consolidated, they could not but con- 
clude that they were confronted with a bourgeois (capitalist) organi- 
zation of social economy, which necessarily gave rise to the expropri- 
ation and oppression of the masses. Their practical program was quite 
directly determined by this conviction. This program was to join the 
struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, the struggle of the 
propertyless classes against the propertied, which constitutes the prin- 
cipal content of economic reality in Russia, from the most out-of-the- 
way village to the most up-to-date and perfected factory. How were 
they to join it? The answer was again suggested by real life. Capitalism 
had advanced the principal branches of industry to the stage of 
large-scale machine industry; by thus socializing production, it had 
created the material conditions for a new system and had at the same time 
created a new social force the class of factory workers, the urban pro- 
letariat. Subjected to the same bourgeois exploitation as the exploi- 
tation of the whole toiling population of Russia is in its economic 
essence, this class, however, has been placed, as far as its emancipation 
is concerned, in rather favourable circumstances: it has no longer 
any ties with the old society, which was wholly based on exploi- 
tation; the very conditions of its labour and circumstances of 
life organize it, compel it to think and enable it to step into the 
arena of the political struggle. It was only natural that the Social-Demo- 
crats should direct all their attention to, and base all their hopes on 
this class, that they should make the development of its class conscious- 
ness their program, that they should direct all their activities towards 
helping it to rise and wage a direct political struggle against the'present 
regime and towards enlisting the whole Russian proletariat in this struggle. 

124 V. I. LENIN 

Let us now see how Mr. Mikhailovsky fights the Social-Democrats. 
What arguments does he level against their theoretical views, against 
their political, Socialist activity? 

The theoretical views of the Marxists are set forth by the critic in the 
following manner: 

"The truth [the Marxists are represented as declaring] is that 
in accordance with the immanent laws of historical necessity Rus- 
sia will develop her own capitalist production, with all its inherent 
contradictions and the swallowing up of the small capitalists by 
the large, and meanwhile the muzhik, divorced from the land, 
will become transformed into a proletarian, unite, become 'so- 
cialized' and the job will be done mankind will be happy." 

So you see, the Marxists do not differ in any way from the "friends 
of the people" in their conception of reality; they differ only in their 
idea of the future: they are not in the least concerned with the present, 
it appears, but only with "prospects. "That this is precisely Mr. Mikha- 
ilovsky's idea, of that there can be no doubt: the Marxists, he says, "are 
fully convinced that there is nothing Utopian in their forecasts of the 
future, and that everything has been weighed and measured in accordance 
with the strict dictates of science." And, finally, he says, even more 
explicitly, that the Marxists "believe in and preach the immutability 
of an tbstract historical scheme." 

In a word, what we find levelled at the Marxists is that most banal 
and vulgar allegation to which everybody who has nothing substantial 
to bring against their views has long resorted. 

"The Marxists preach the immutability of an abstract historical 

But then, this is a sheer lie and invention! 

Nowhere has any Marxist ever argued that there "must be" capitalism 
in Russia "because" theie was capitalism in the West, and so on. 
No Marxist has ever regarded Marx's theory as a general and compul- 
sory philosophical scheme of history, or as anything more than an expla- 
nation of a particular social-economic formation. Only Mr. Mikhai- 
lovsky, the subjective philosopher, has managed to betray such a lack 
of understanding of Marx as to attribute to him a general philosophical 
theory, in reply to which he received from Marx the quite explicit 
explanation that he was barking up the wrong tree. No Marxist has 
ever based his Social-Democratic views on anything but their con- 
formity with the tealities and the history of the given, that is, the 
Russian social and economic relations; and he could not have done so, 
because this demand on theory has been quite definitely and clearly 
proclaimed and made the cornerstone of the whole doctrine by Marx 
himself, the founder of "Marxism." 


Of course, Mr. Mikhailovsky may refute these statements as much as 
be pleases on the grounds that he has heard "with his own ears" the preach- 
ing of an abstract historical scheme. But what does it matter to us, 
the Social-Democrats, or to anybody else for that matter, that Mr. Mi- 
khailovsky has had occasion to hear all sorts of absurd nonsense from the 
people he associates with? Does it not only go to show that he is very fortu- 
nate in the choice of the people he associates with, and nothing more? It 
is very possible, of course, that the witty people with whom the witty 
philosopher associates call themselves Marxists, Social-Democrats, and 
so forth but who does not know that nowadays (as was noted long 
ago) every adventurer likes to deck himself in a "red"* cloak? And 
if Mr. Mikhailovsky is so perspicacious that he cannot distinguish 
these "mummers" from Marxists, or if he has understood Marx so pro- 
foundly as never to have noted this criterion of his whole doctrine (the for- 
mulation of "what is going on before our eyes") that Marx so emphatically 
stressed, it only again shows that Mr. Mikhailovsky is not very intelli- 
gent, and nothing else. 

At any rate, if he undertook to conduct a polemic in the press against 
the "Social-Democrats," he should have dealt with the group of Social- 
ists who have long borne that name and borne it alone so that no others 
could be confounded with them, and who have their literary represent- 
atives Plekhanov and his circle. And had he done so and that obvi- 
ously is what anybody with any decency should have done and had 
consulted at least the first Social-Democratic work, Plekhanov *s Our 
Differences, he would have found in its very first pages a categorical decla- 
ration made by the author on behalf of all the members of the circle: 

"We in no case desire to shelter our program under the author- 
ity of a great name" (i.e., the authority of Marx). Do you under- 
stand Russian, Mr. Mikhailovsky? Do you understand the difference 
between preaching abstract schemes and entirely disclaiming the authority 
of Marx when passing judgment on Russian affairs? 

Do you realize that, by presenting the first opinion you happened 
to hear from the people you associate with as a Marxist opinion, and by 
ignoring the published declaration of one of the prominent members of 
Social-Democracy made on behalf of the whole group, you acted dishon- 

And then the declaration becomes even more explicit: 

"I repeat," Plekhanov says, "that differences of opinion regard- 
ing modern Russian realities are possible among the most consistent 
Marxists . . . four doctrine] is the first attempt to apply this scientific 
theory to the analysis of very complex and intricate social relations.** 

* All this is said on the assumption that Mr. Mikhailovsky did indeed hear 
abstract historical schemes preached, and has not prevaricated.. But I consider 
it absolutely imperative in this connection to make the reservation that I give 
this only for what it is worth. 

126 V. L LENIN 

It would seem difficult to say anything more clearly: the Marxists 
unreservedly borrow from Marx's theory only its invaluable methods, 
without which an explanation of social relations is impossible, and 
consequently they consider the criterion of their judgment of these 
relations to lie in its fidelity and conformity to reality, and not in ab- 
stract schemes and suchlike nonsense. 

Perhaps you think the author actually meant something else by these 
statements? But that is not so. The question he was dealing with was 
"must Russia pass through the capitalist phase of development?" There- 
fore the question was not formulated in a Marxist way but in accord* 
ance with the subjective methods of sundry native philosophers, for 
whom the criterion of this "must" lies in the policy of the authorities, or 
in the activities of "society," or in the ideal of a society which is "in har- 
mony with human nature," and similar nonsense. The question then arises, 
how would a man who preaches abstract schemes have answered such 
a question? Obviously, he would have begun to speak of the unimpeach- 
ableness of the dialectical process, of the general philosophical impor- 
tance of Marx's theory, of the inevitability of every country passing 
through the phase of ... and so on and so forth. 

And how did Plekhanov answer it? 

In the only way a Marxist could answer it. 

He entirely left aside the question of what must be, considering it an 
idle one, one that could interest only subjectivists, and spoke only of 
r^al social and economic relations and of their real evolution. He there- 
fore did not give a direct answer to this wrongly- formulated question, 
but instead replied: "Russia has entered on the capitalist path." 

But Mr. Mikhailovsky, with the air of a connoisseur, talks about the 
preaching of abstract historical schemes, about the immanent laws of ne- 
cessity, and similar incredible nonsense. And he calls this "a polemic 
against the Social-Democrats" ! ! 

If this is a polemicist, then I simply fail to understand what is a 

One must also observe in connection with Mr. Mikhailovsky 's argument 
quoted above that he represents the views of the Social-Democrats as 
being that "Russia will develop her own capitalist production." Evidently, 
in the opinion of this philosopher, Russia has not got "her own" capital- 
ist production. The author apparently shares the opinion that Russian 
capitalism is confined to one and a half million workers. We shall later 
on again meet with this childish idea of our "friends of the people," who 
class all the other forms of exploitation of free labour under heaven knows 
what heading. 

"Russia will develop her own capitalist production with all 
its inherent contradictions . . . and meanwhile the muzhik di- 
vorced from the land, will become transformed into a proletarian." 


The deeper the forest, the thicker the trees I So there are no "inherent 
contradictions" in Russia? Or, to put it plainly, there is no exploitation 
of the mass of the people by a handful of capitalists; there is no impov- 
erishment of the vast majority of the population and no enrichment of 
a few? The muzhik has still to be divorced from the land? Why, what is 
the whole post- Reform history of Russia, if not the wholesale expropri- 
ation of the peasantry on a hitherto unparalleled scale? One must possess 
great courage indeed to say such things publicly. And Mr. Mikhailovsky 
possesses that courage: 

"Marx dealt with a ready-made proletariat and a ready-made capita- 
lism, whereas we have still to create them." 

Russia has still to create a proletariat?! In Russia in which alone 
can be found such hopeless poverty of the masses and such shameless 
exploitation of the toilers; which in respect to the condition of her poor 
has been compared (and legitimately) with England; and in which the star- 
vation of millions of people is a permanent phenomenon existing side 
by side, for instance, with a steady increase in the export of grain 
in Russia there is no proletariat! 

I think Mr. Mikhailovsky deserves to have a memorial erected to 
him in his lifetime for these classic words!* 

But we shall see later that this is a constant and consistent tactical 
manoeuvre of the "friends of the people," namely, pharisaically to close 
their eyes to the intolerable condition of the toilers in Russia, to de- 
pict it as having been only "shaken," so that all that is needed is an 
effort by "cultured society" and by the government to put everything 
on the right track. These knights in shining armour think that if they 
close their eyes to the fact that the condition of the toiling masses is bad 
not because it has been "shaken," but because these masses are being shame- 
lessly robbed by a handful of exploiters, that if they bury their heads 
in the sand like ostriches so as not to see these exploiters, the exploiters will 
disappear. And when the Social-Democrats tell them that it is shameful 
cowardice to fear to look reality in the face; when they take the fact of 
exploitation as their starting point and say that its only possible expla- 
nation lies in the bourgeois organization of Russian society, which is 
splitting the people into proletariat and bourgeoisie, and in the class 
character of the Russian state, which is nothing but the organ of domina- 
tion of the bourgeoisie, and that therefore the only way out lies in the class 

* But perhaps here too Mr. Mikhailovsky may try to wriggle out of it by 
declaring that he did not intend to say that there is no proletariat in Russia in 
general, but only that there is no capitalist proletariat? Is that so? Then why 
did you not say so? Why, the whole question is whether the Russian proletariat 
is a proletariat characteristic of the bourgeois organization of social economy, 
or of some other. Who is to blame if in the course of two whole articles you did 
not say a word about this, the only serious and important question, but preferred 
instead to jabber all sorts of nonsense and to blarney for all you are worth? 

128 V. I. LENIN 

struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie these "friends of 
tht people" begin to howl that the Social-Democrats want to deprive 
the people of their land, that they want to destroy our people's economic 

We now come to the most outrageous part of this whole indecent, to say 
the least of it, "polemic," namely, Mr. Mikhailovsky 's ''criticism" (?) 
of the political activities of the Social-Democrats. Everybody realizes 
that the activities carried on among the workers by Socialists and agi- 
tators cannot be honestly discussed in our legal press, and that the only 
thing a self-respecting censored periodical can do in this connection is to 
"maintain a tactful silence." Mr. Mikhailovsky has forgotten this most 
elementary of rules and has not scrupled to take advantage of his monopoly 
contact with the reading public in order to sling mud at the Socialists. 
However, means of combating this unscrupulous critic will be found 
even if outside of the legal publications. 

"As I understand it," Mr. Mikhailovsky says with assumed 
naivete, "the Russian Marxists can be divided into three cate- 
gories: Marxist obsene s (who look on but take no part in the pro- 
cess), passive Marxists (they only 'allay the pains of childbirth'; 
they 'are not interested in the people on the land, and direct their 
attention and hopes to those who are already divorced from the 
means of production'), and active Marxists (who bluntly insist 
on the further ruin of the countryside)." 

What is this! Mr. Critic must surely know that the Russian Marxists 
are Socialists who take the view that the reality around us is a capitalist 
society, and that there is only one way out of it the class struggle of 
the proletariat against the bourgeoisie? How, then, and on what grounds, 
does he mix them up so with a sort of senseless vulgarity? What right 
(moral, of course) has he to extend the term Marxists to people who 
obviously do not accept the most elementary and fundamental tenets 
of Marxism, people who have never and nowhere appeared as a distinct 
group and have never and nowhere proclaimed a program of their own? 

Mr. Mikhailovsky has left himself any number of loopholes for 
justifying such monstrous methods. 

"Perhaps," he says with the smartness and airiness of a society 
fop, "these ate not real Marxists, but they consider and pro- 
claim themselves such." 

Where have they proclaimed it, and when? In 'the liberal and radical 
salons of St. Petersburg? In private . letters? Be it so. Well then, talk 
to them in your salons and in your correspondence! But you come 
out publicly and in print against people who have never come out 
publicly anywhere (under the banner of Marxism). And you have the 
effrontery to claim that you are arguing against "Social-Democrats," 
although you know that this name is borne only by one group of rev- 


olutionary Socialists, and that nobody else can be confused with 

Mr. Mikhailovsky wriggles and squirms, like a schoolboy caught 
*ed-handed: "I am not the least to blame here" he tries to make 
the reader believe "I 'heard it with my own ears and saw it with my 
own eyes.'" Excellent! We are quite willing to believe that there 
is nobody in your field of vision but vulgarians and rascals. But what has 
that to do with us, the Social-Democrats? Who does not know that "at the 
present time, when" not only Socialist activity, but all social activity 
that is at all independent and honest, is subject to political persecu- 
tion for every person actually working under one banner or another 
be it Narodovolism, Marxism, or even, let us say, constitutional- 
ism there are several score of phrasemongers who under that name 
conceal their liberal cowardice, and, in addition, perhaps several down- 
right rascals who are arranging their own shady affairs? Is it not obvious 
that it requires the vilest kind of vulgarity to blame any of these 
trends for the fact that its banner is being besmirched (privately 
and on the quiet, at that) by every sort of riff-raff? Mr. Mikhailovsky 's 
whole argument is one chain of distortions, mutilations and perver- 
sions. We saw above that he completely distorted the "truths" on which 
the Social-Democrats base themselves, presenting them in away in which 
no Marxist has ever presented them, or could have presented them, 
anywhere. And if he had set forth the actual conception which the Social- 
Democrats have of Russian realities, he could not but have seen that one 
can "conform" to these views only in one manner, namely, by helping 
to develop the class consciousness of the proletariat, by organizing and 
welding it for the political struggle against the present regime. He has, 
however, one other trick up his sleeve. With an air of injured innocence 
he pharisaically lifts up his eyes heavenward and unctuously declares: 

"I am very glad to hear that. But I cannot understand what you 
are protesting against [that is exactly what he says in Russkoye 
Bogatstvo, No. 2]. Read my comment on passive Marxists more 

* I shall dwell on at least one factual reference which occurs in Mr. Mikhai- 
lovsky 's article. Anybody who has read this article will have to admit that he 
includes Mr. Skvortsov (the author of The Economic Causes of Starvation) among 
the "Marxists." But, as a matter of fact, this gentleman does not call himself a 
Marxist, and one needs only a most elementary acquaintance with the works of 
the Social-Democrats to see that from their standpoint he is nothing but a vulgar 
bourgeois. What sort of a Marxist is he when he does not understand that the 
social environment for which he projects his progressive measures is a bourgeois 
environment, and that therefore all "cultural improvements," which are indeed 
to be observed even in peasant husbandry, are bourgeois progress, impro- 
ving the position of a minority but proletarianizing the masses 1 What sort 
of a Marxist Is he when he does not understand that the state to which he appeals 
with his projects is a class state, capable only of supporting the bourgeoisie and 
oppressing the proletariat I 


130 y. I. LENIN 

attentively and you will see that I say: from the ethical standpoint,, 
no objection can be made." 

This, too, of course, is nothing but a re-hash of his former wretched 

Tell us, please, how would the conduct of a person be characterized 
who declared that he was criticizing social-revolutionary Narodism 
(when no other had yet appeared I take such a period), and who pro- 
ceeded to say approximately the following: 

"The Narodniks, as I understand it, are divided into three 

categories: the consistent Narodniks, who completely accept the 

ideas of the muzhik and, in exact accordance with his desires, would 

make a general principle of the birch and wife-beating and generally 

further the abominable policy of the government of the knout and 

club, which, you know, has been called a narodnaya* policy; then, the 

cowardly Narodniks, who are not interested in the opinions of the 

muzhik, and are only striving to transplant to Russia an alien 

revolutionary movement by means of associations and suchlike 

against which, however no objection can be made from the ethical 

standpoint, unless it be the slipperiness of the path, which may easily 

convert a cowardly Narodnik into a consistent or a courageous one;, 

and, lastly, the courageous Narodniks, who carry out to the full 

the narodny ideals of the thrifty muzhik, and accordingly settle 

on the land in order to live as kulaks in good earnest." 

All decent people, of course, would characterize this as vile and vul- 

gar scoffing. And if, further, the person who said such things could not 

be rebutted by the Narodniks in the same press; if, moreover > 

the ideas of these Narodniks had hitherto been set forth only illegally, 

so that many people had no exact conception of them and might easily 

believe everything they were told about the Narodniks then every- 

body would agree that such a person is. ... 

But perhaps Mr. Mikhailovsky himself has not yet quite forgotten^ 
the word that fits here. 

But enough! Many similar insinuations by Mr. Mikhailovsky 
remain. But I do not know of any labour more fatiguing, more thankless,. 
more arduous than to have to wallow in this filth, to cull insin- 
uations dispersed here and there, to compare them and to search for 
at least one serious objection. 

Enough 1 

April 1894 
Originally published 
as a separate pamphlet in 1894 

* I.e., people's Ed. 


The second half of the 'nineties is marked by an uncommonly height- 
ened interest in the presentation and solution of problems of the Rus- 
sian revolution. The appearance of a new revolutionary party, the "Na- 
rodnoye Pravo" ("People's Rights"), the growing influence and suc- 
cesses of the Social-Democrats, the evolution of the "Narodnaya Volya" 
("People's Will"), all this has evoked a lively discussion on questions 
of program in Socialist study circles of intellectuals and of workers 
as well as in illegal literature. In connection with the latter, reference 
should be made to An Urgent Question , and the Manifesto (1894) of the 
"Narodnoye Pravo" Party, to the Leaflet of the "Narodnaya Volya" 
Group, to the Rabotnik (The Worker) published abroad by the "League 
of Russian Social-Democrats," to the growing activity in the publica- 
tion of revolutionary pamphlets in Russia, principally for workers, 
and the agitational activities of the Social-Democratic "League of Strug- 
gle for the Emancipation of the Working Class" in St. Petersburg in con- 
nection with the famous St. Petersburg strikes of 1896, etc. 

At the present time (the end of 1897), the most urgent question, in 
our opinion, is the question of the practical activities of the Social- 
Democrats. We emphasize the practical side of Social-Democracy, because 
its theoretical side apparently has already passed the most acute period 
of stubborn non-comprehension on the part of its opponents, when strong 
efforts were made to suppress the new trend as soon as it appeared, on 
the one hand, and the stalwart defence of the principles of Social-De- 
mocracy, on the other. Now, the main and fundamental features of the 
theoretical views of the Social-Democrats have been sufficiently clari- 
fied. This, however, cannot be said in regard to the practical side of 
Social-Democracy, to its political program, its methods of activity, its 
tactics. It is precisely in this sphere, it seems to us, that variance and 
mutual misunderstanding prevail most, which prevents complete 
rapprochement with Social-Democracy on the part of those revolution 
aries who, in theory, have completely renounced the principles of the 
"Narodnaya Volya," and, in practice, are either induced by the very 
force of circumstances to begin to carry on propaganda and agitation 
*fnong the workers and, even more than that, to organize their work among 

* 131 

132 V. I. LENIN 

the workers on the basis of the class struggle, or else strive to put demo- 
cratic tasks at the basis of their whole program and revolutionary activ- 
ities. Unless we are mistaken, the latter description applies to the two 
revolutionary groups which are operating in Russia at the present 
time, in addition to the Social-Democrats, viz., the followers of 
"Narodnaya Volya" and the followers of "Narodnoye Pravo." 

We think, therefore, that it is particularly opportune to try to explain 
the practical tasks of the Social-Democrats and to give the reasons why 
we think that their program is the most rational of the three programs 
that have been presented, and why we think that the arguments that 
have been advanced against it are based very largely on a misunder- 

The object of the practical activities of the Social-Democrats is, 
as is well known, to lead the class struggle of the proletariat and to organ- 
ize that struggle in both its manifestations: Socialist (the struggle 
against the capitalist class for the purpose of abolishing the class system 
and organizing Socialist society) and democratic (the fight against 
absolutism for the purpose of winning political liberty for Russia and the 
democratization of the political and social system in Russia). We said 
"as is well known" advisedly, for, indeed, from the very first moment 
it arose as a separate social-revolutionary tendency, Russian Social- 
Democracy has always definitely stated that this was the object of its 
activities, has always emphasized the dual character and content of 
the class struggle of the proletariat and has always insisted on the insep- 
arable connection between its Socialist and democratic tasks a con- 
nection which is strikingly expressed in the name which it has adopted. 
Nevertheless, to this day, Socialists are often to be encountered who have 
a most distorted conception of the Social-Democrats and charge them 
with ignoring the political struggle, etc. We will try, therefore, to de- 
scribe both sides of the practical activity of Russian Social-Democracy. 

We will begin with Socialist activity. One would have thought that 
the character of Social-Democratic activity in this respect would have 
become quite clear since the Social-Democratic "League of Struggle 
for the Emancipation of the Working Class" in St. Petersburg began its 
activities among the St. Petersburg workers. The Socialist work of Rus- 
sian Social-Democrats consists of propagating the doctrines of scientific 
Socialism, of spreading among the workers a proper understanding 
of the present social and economic system, its foundations and its 
development, an understanding of the various classes in Russian society, 
of the mutual relations between these classes, the struggle between them, 
of the role of the working class in this struggle, the attitude of this class 
towards the declining and developing classes, towards the past and the 
future of capitalism, of the historical task of international Social- 
Democracy and of the Russian working class. Inseparably connected with 
propaganda is agitation among the workers, which naturally comes to 


the forefront in the present political conditions in Russia, and with 
the present level of development of the masses of workers. Agitating 
among the workers means that the Social-Democrats take part in all 
the spontaneous manifestations of the struggle of the working class, 
in all the conflicts between the workers and the capitalists over the 
working day, wages, conditions of labour, etc. Our task is to merge 
our activities with the practical everyday questions of working-class 
life, to help the workers to understand these questions, to draw the 
attention of the workers to the most important abuses, to help them to 
formulate their demands to the employers more precisely and practically, to 
develop among the workers a sense of solidarity, to help them to understand 
the common interests and the common cause of all the Russian workers 
as a single class representing part of the international army of the pro- 
letariat. To organize study circles for workers, to establish proper and 
secret connections between these and the central group of Social-Democrats, 
to publish and distribute literature for workers, to organize correspon- 
dence from all centres of the labour movement, to publish agitational 
leaflets and manifestos and to distribute them, and to train a corps of 
experienced agitators such, in the main, are the manifestations of the 
Socialist activity of Russian Social-Democracy. 

Our work is primarily and mainly concentrated on the urban factory 
workers. The Russian Social-Democrats must not dissipate their forces; 
they must concentrate their activities among the industrial proletariat, 
which is most capable of imbibing Social-Democratic ideas, is the most 
developed class intellectually and politically, and the most important 
from the point of view of numbers and concentration in the important 
political centres of the country. Hence, the creation of a durable revolu- 
tionary organization among the factory, the urban workers, is one of 
the first and urgent tasks that confronts the Social-Democrats, and it 
would be very unwise indeed to allow ourselves to be diverted from this 
task at the present time. But, while recognizing that it is important to 
concentrate our forces on the factory workers and decry the dissipation 
of forces, we do not for a moment suggest that the Russian Social-Demo- 
crats should ignore other strata of the Russian proletariat and the work- 
ing class. Nothing of the kind. The very conditions of life of the Russian 
factory workers compel them very often to come into very close contact 
with the handicraftsmen, i.e., the industrial proletariat outside of the 
factory, who are scattered in the towns and villages and whose conditions 
are infinitely worse than those of the factory workers. The Russian factory 
workers also come into direct contact with the rural population (very 
often the factory worker has his family in the country) and, consequently, 
cannot but come into contact with the rural proletariat, with the vast 
mass of professional agricultural labourers and day labourers, and also 
with those ruined peasants who, while clinging to their miserable plots 
of land are engaged in working to pay the rent (otrabotki) and in casual 

184 V. L LENIN 

employment, which is also wage labour. The Russian Social-Democrats 
think it inopportune to send their forces among the handicraftsmen and 
rural labourers, but they do not intend to leave them uncared for; they 
will try to enlighten the advanced workers on questions affecting the 
lives of the handicraftsmen and rural labourers, so that when they come 
into contact with the more backward strata of the proletariat they will 
imbue them'with the ideas of the class struggle, of Socialism, of the 
political tasks of Russian democracy in general and of the Russian proleta- 
riat in particular. It would not be practical to send agitators among the han- 
dicraftsmen and rural labourers when there is still so much work to be done 
among the urban factory workers, but in a large number of cases Socialist 
workers involuntarily come in to con tact with these rural artisans and they 
must be able to take advantage of these opportunities and understand the 
general tasks of Social-Democracy in Russia. Hence, those who accuse the 
Russian Social-Democrats of being narrow-minded, of trying to ignore 
the mass of the labouring population and to interest themselves entirely 
in the factory workers, are profoundly mistaken. On the contrary, agi- 
tation among the advanced strata of the proletariat is the surest and 
only way to rouse (in proportion as the movement expands) the whole 
of the Russian proletariat. By spreading Socialism and the ideas of the 
class struggle among the urban workers, we shall inevitably cause these 
ideas to flow in the smaller and more scattered channels. To achieve 
this, however, it is necessary that these ideas shall become deep-rooted 
in better prepared soil, and that this vanguard of the Russian labour 
movement and of the Russian revolution shall be thoroughly imbued 
with them. Waile conceitrating its forces among the factory workers, 
the Russian Social-Democrats are prepared to support those Russian 
revolutionaries who, in practice, are beginning to base their Socialist 
work on the class struggle of the proletariat; but they make no attempt 
to conceal the fact that practical alliances with other factions of revolu- 
tionaries cannot and must not lead to compromises or concessions on 
matters of theory, program or banner. Convinced that the only revolu- 
tionary theory that can serve as the banner of the revolutionary move- 
ment at the present time is the theory of scientific Socialism and the class 
struggle, the Russian Social-Democrats will exert every effort to spread 
this theory, to guard against its false interpretation, and will combat 
every attempt to bind the young labour movement in Russia with less 
definite doctrines. Theoretical reasoning proves and the practical activ- 
ity of the Sochi -Democrats shows that all Socialists in Russia should 
become Social- Democrats. 

We will now deal with the democratic tasks and with the democratic 
work of the Social-Democrats. We repeat, once again, that this work 
is inseparably connected with Socialist work. In carrying on propaganda 
among the workers, the Social-Democrats cannot ignore political ques- 
tions and they would regard any attempt to ignore them or even to push 


them into the background as a profound mistake and a departure from 1 
the fundamental principles of international Social-Democracy. Simul- 
taneously with propaganda in favour of scientific Socialism, the Russian 
Social-Democrats consider it to be their task to carry on propaganda 
among the working-class masses in favour of democratic ideas , to spread 
an understanding of what absolutism means in all its manifestations, 
its class content, the necessity for overthrowing it, of the impossibility' 
of waging a successful struggle for the cause of labour without achieving 
political liberty and the democratization of the political and social 
system of Russia. In carrying on agitation among the workers concerning 
their immediate economic demands, the Social-Democrats link this up 
with agitation concerning the immediate political needs, grievances and 
demands of the working class, agitation against the tyranny of the police, 
which manifests itself in every strike, in every conflict between the work- 
ers and the capitalists, agitation against the restriction of the rights 
of the workers as Russian citizens in general and as the most oppressed 
and most disfranchised class in particular, agitation against every pro- 
minent representative and flunkey of absolutism who comes into direct 
contact with the workers and who clearly reveals to the working class 
its state of political slavery. Just as there is not a question affecting the 
economic life of the workers that cannot be utilized for the purpose of 
economic agitation, so there is not a political question that cannot serve 
as a subject for political agitation. These two forms of agitation are in- 
separably bound up with each other in the activities of the Social-Demo- 
crats like the two sides of a medal. Both economic and political agita- 
tion are equally necessary for the development of the class consciousness 
of the proletariat, and economic and political agitation are equally 
necessary in order to guide the class struggle of the Russian workers, for 
every class struggle is a political struggle. Both forms of agitation, by 
awakening class consciousness among the workers, by organizing them 
and disciplining and training them for united action and for the struggle 
for the ideals of Social-Democracy, will give the workers the opportunity 
to test their strength on immediate questions and immediate needs, will 
enable them to force their enemy to make partial concessions, to improve 
their economic conditions, will compel the capitalists to reckon with the 
organized might of the workers, compel the government to give the work- 
ers more rights, to give heed to their demands, keep the government in, 
constant fear of the hostile temper of the masses of the workers led by 
a strong Social-Democratic organization. 

We have shown that there is an inseparable connection between So- 
cialist and democratic propaganda and agitation and that revolutionary 
work in both spheres runs parallel. Nevertheless, there is an important 
difference between these two forms of activity and struggle. The differ- 
ence is that, in the economic struggle, the proletariat stands absolutely 
alone against the landed nobility and the bourgeoisie, except for the 


help it receives (and then not always) from those elements of the petty 
bourgeoisie which gravitate towards the proletariat. In the democratic, 
the political struggle, however, the Russian working class does not stand 
alone; all the political opposition elements, strata of the population, and 
classes, which are hostile to absolutism and fight against it in one form 
or another, are taking their place by its side. Side by side with the pro- 
letariat stand, all the opposition elements of the bourgeoisie, or of the 
educated classes, or of the petty bourgeoisie, or of the nationalities, or 
religions and sects, etc., etc., which are persecuted by the absolutist 
government. The question naturally arises, 1) what should be the attitude 
of the working class towards these elements, and 2) should it not com- 
bine with them in the common struggle against absolutism? All Social- 
Democrats admit that the political revolution in Russia must precede 
the Socialist revolution; should they not therefore combine with all the 
elements in the political opposition to fight against absolutism and put 
Socialism in the background for the time being? Is not this essential in 
order to strengthen the fight against absolutism? 

We will examine these two questions. 

The attitude of the working class, as the fighter against absolutism, 
toward all the other social classes and groups that are in the political 
opposition is precisely determined by the fundamental principles of 
Social-Democracy as expounded in the famous Communist Manifesto. 
The Social-Democrats support the progressive social classes against the 
reactionary classes, the bourgeoisie against representatives of privi- 
leged and feudal landownership and the bureaucracy, the big bourgeoisie 
against the reactionary strivings of the petty bourgeoisie. This support 
does not presuppose, and does not require, any compromise with non-So- 
cial-Democratic programs and principles it is support given to an ally 
against a particular enemy. Moreover, the Social-Democrats render this 
support in order to accelerate the fall of the common enemy; they do 
not expect anything for themselves from these temporary allies, and con- 
cede nothing to them. The Social-Democrats support every revolutionary 
movement against the present social system, they support all oppressed 
peoples, persecuted religions, oppressed estates, etc., in their fight for 
equal rights. 

Support for all political opposition elements will be expressed in the 
propaganda of the Social-Democrats by the fact that in showing that 
absolutism is hostile to the cause of labour, they will show that abso- 
lutism is hostile to the various other social groups; they will show that 
the working class is with these groups on this or that question, on this 
or that task, etc. In their agitation this support will express itself in that 
the Social-Democrats will take advantage of every manifestation of the 
police tyranny of absolutism to point out to the workers how this tyran- 
ny affects all Russian citizens generally, and the representatives of the 
particularly oppressed estates, nationalities, religions, sects, etc., ia 


particular, and especially how that tyranny affects the working class. 
Finally, in practice, this support is expressed in that the Russian 
Social-Democrats are prepared to enter into alliance with revolutionaries 
of other trends for the purpose of achieving certain partial aims, and this 
preparedness has been proved on more than one occasion. 

This brings us to the second question. While pointing out that one or 
other of the various opposition groups are in unison with the workers,, 
the Social-Democrats will always put the workers in a special category,, 
they will always point out that the alliance is temporary and condi- 
tional, they will always emphasize the special class position of the pro- 
letariat which to-morrow may be the opponent of its allies of today. 
We may be told: "this may weaken all the fighters of political liberty 
at the present time." Our reply will be: this will strengthen all the fighters, 
for political liberty. Only those fighters are strong who rely on the appre- 
ciation of the real interests of definite classes, and any attempt to obscure 
these class interests, which already play a predominant role in modern 
society, will only serve to weaken the fighters. That is the first point. 
The second point is that in the struggle against the autocracy the work- 
ing class must single itself out from the rest, for it alone is the truly 
consistent and unreserved enemy of absolutism, it is only between the 
working class and absolutism that compromise is impossible, only in 
the working class has democracy a champion without reservations, who 
does not waver, who does not look back. The hostility of all other classes,, 
groups and strata of the population towards the autocracy is not absolute; 
their democracy always looks back. The bourgeoisie cannot but realize 
that industrial and social development is retarded by absolutism, but 
it fears the complete democratization of the political and social system 
and may at any time enter into alliance with absolutism against the pro- 
letariat. The petty bourgeoisie is two-faced by its very nature; on the 
one hand it gravitates towards the proletariat and democracy; on the 
other hand it gravitates towards the reactionary classes, tries to hold up 
the march of history, is likely to be caught by the experiments and flirta- 
tions of absolutism (for example, the "people's politics" of Alexander III), 
is likely to conclude an alliance with the ruling classes against the pro- 
letariat in order to strengthen its own position as a class of small property 
owners. Educated people, and the "intelligentsia" generally, cannot but 
rise against the savage police tyranny of absolutism, which persecutes 
thought and knowledge; but the material interests of this intelligentsia 
tie it to absolutism and the bourgeoisie, compel it to be inconsistent^ 
to enter into compromises, to sell its oppositional and revolutionary 
fervour for an official job, or a share in profits and dividends. As for the 
democratic elements among the oppressed nationalities and the persecuted 
religions, everybody knows and sees that the class antagonisms within 
these categories of the population are much more profound and power- 
ful than is the solidarity among all classes in these categories against 

138 V. I. LENIN 

absolutism and for democratic institutions. The proletariat alone can 
be and because of its class position cannot but be consistently 
democratic, the determined enemy of absolatism, incapable of making 
any concessions, or of entering into any compromises. The proletariat 
alone can act as the vanguard in the fight for political liberty and for 
democratic institutions, firstly, because political tyranny affects the 
proletariat fnost; for there is nothing in the position of that class that 
can in any way ameliorate this tyranny; it has no access to the higher 
authorities, not even to the officials; it has no influence on public opin- 
ion. Secondly, the proletariat alone is capable of bringing about the 
complete democratization of the political and social system, because such 
democratization would place the system in the hands of the workers. 
That is why the merging of the democratic activities of the working class 
with the democratic aspirations of the other classes and groups would 
weaken the forces of the democratic movement, would weaken the polit- 
ical struggle, would make it less determined, less consistent, more 
likely to compromise. On the other hand, if the working class is singled out 
as the vanguard in the fight for democratic institutions, it will strengthen 
the democratic movement, will 8 rengthe <, the struggle for political lib- 
erty, for the working class will stimulate all the other democratic and 
political opposition elements, will push the 1 berals towards the political 
radicals, it will push the radicals towards an irrevocable rupture with 
the whole of the political and social structure of present society. We 
said above that all Medalists in Russia should become Social- Democrats. 
We will now add: all true and consistent democrats in Russia should 
become Social- Democrats. 

To illustrate what we mean we will quote the following example. 
Take the civil service officials, tjbe bureaucracy, as representing a class 
of persons who specialize in administrative work and occupy a privi- 
leged position compared with the people. Everywhere, from autocratic 
and semi-Asiatic Russia to cultured, free and civilized England, we see 
this institution, representing an essential organ of bourgeois society. 
Fully corresponding to the backwardness of Russia and its absolute 
monarchy are the complete lack of rights of the people before the officials, 
and the complete absence of control over the privileged bureaucracy. In 
England there is powerful popular control over the administration, but 
ven there that control is far from being complete^ even there the bureau- 
cracy has managed to retain not a few of its privileges, is not infrequently 
the master and not the servant of the people. Even in England we see 
that powerful social groups support the privileged position of the bu- 
reaucracy and hinder the complete democratization of this institution. 
Why? Because it is in the interests of the proletariat alone to completely > 
democratize it; the most progressive strata of the bourgeoisie defend 
certain of the prerogatives of the bureaucracy, protest against the elec- 
tion of all officials, against the complete abolition of the property quali- 


fications, against making officials directly responsible to the people, etc., 
because these strata realize that the proletariat will take advantage of 
complete democratization in order to use it against the bourgeoisie. This 
is the case also in Russia. Numerous and varied strata of the Russian 
people are opposed to the omnipotent, irresponsible, corrupt, savage, 
ignorant and parasitic Russian bureaucracy, but, except for the prole- 
tariat, not one of these strata would agree to the complete democrati- 
zation of the bureaucracy, because all these strata (bourgeoisie, petty 
bourgeoisie, the "intelligentsia" generally) have some connections with 
the bureaucracy, because all these strata are kith and kin of the Russian 
bureaucracy. Everyone knows how easy it is in Holy Russia for a radical 
intellectual or Socialist intellectual to become transformed into a civil 
servant of the Imperial Government, a civil servant who salves his con- 
science with the thought that he will "do good" within the limits of 
office routine, a bureaucrat who pleads this "good" in justification of 
his political indifference, his servility towards the government of the 
knout and nagaika. The proletariat alone is unreservedly hostile towards 
absolutism and to the Russian bureaucracy, the proletariat alone has 
no connections with these organs of aristocratic bourgeois society, the pro- 
letariat alone is capable of entertaining irreconcilable hostility towards 
and of waging a determined struggle against it. 

In advancing our argument that the proletariat, led in its class strug- 
gle by Social-Democracy, is the vanguard of Russian democracy, we en- 
counter the very widespread and very strange opinion that Russian 
Social-Democracy puts political questions and the political struggle in 
the background. As we see, this opinion is the very opposite of the truth. 
How is this astonishing failure to understand the principles of Social- 
Democracy, which have been so often enunciated and which were enun- 
ciated in the very first Russian Social-Democratic publications, in the 
pamphlets and books published abroad by the "Emancipation of Labour** 
group, to be explained? In our opinion, this astonishing fact is to be 
explained by the following three circumstances: 

First, the general failure of the representatives of old revolutionary 
theories to understand the principles of Social-Democracy because they 
are accustomed to build up their programs and plans of activity on the 
basis of abstract ideas and not on the basis of an exact calculation of 
the real classes operating in the country and placed by history in cer- 
tain relationships. It is precisely the lack of such a realistic discussion 
of the interests that support Russian democracy that could give rise to 
the opinion that Russian Social-Democracy leaves the democratic tasks 
of the Russian revolutionaries in the shade. 

Second, the failure to understand that by uniting economic and po- 
litical questions and Socialist and democratic activities into one whole, 
into the single class struggle of the proletariat, the democratic movement 
and the political struggle are not weakened, but strengthened, that it 


is brought closer to the real interests of the masses of the people; for 
political questions are thereby dragged out of the "stuffy studies of the 
intelligentsia" into the street, among the workers and labouring classes; 
the abstract ideas of political oppression are thereby translated into the 
real manifestations of this oppression from which the proletariat suffers 
most of all, and on the basis of which the Social-Democrats carry on 
their agitatibn. Very often it seems to the Russian radical that instead 
of calling upon the advanced workers to join the political struggle, the 
Social-Democrat points to the task of developing the labour movement, 
of organizing the class struggle and thereby retreats from democracy, 
pushes the political struggle into the background. If this is retreat it is 
the kind of retreat that is meant in the French proverb: II faut recuhr 
pour mieux sauterl* 

Third, this misunderstanding arose from the fact that the very term 
"political struggle" means something different to the followers of 
"Narodnaya Volya" and "Narodnoye Pravo" from what it means to the 
Social-Democrat. The Social-Democrats conceive the political struggle 
differently from the way it is conceived by the representatives of the old 
revolutionary theories; their conception of it is much broader. A striking 
illustration of this seeming paradox is provided by Narodnaya Volya 
Leaflet, No. 4, Dec. 9, 1895. While heartily welcoming this publica- 
tion, which testifies to the profound and fruitful thinking that is 
going on among the modern followers of "Narodnaya Volya," 
we cannot refrain from mentioning P. L. Lavrov's article, Program Ques- 
tions (pp. 19-22), which strikingly reveals another conception of the 
political struggle entertained by the old-style followers of "Narodnaya 
Volya/'** "Here," writes P. L. Lavrov, speaking of the relations between 
the "Narodnaya Volya" program, and the Social-Democratic program, 
"one thing and one thing alone is material, viz., is it possible to organize 
a strong workers' party under absolutism apart from a revolutionary 
party which is directed against absolutism?" (p. 21, col. 2); also a little 
before that (in col. 1): ". . . to organize a Russian Workers ' Party under 
the reign of absolutism without at the same time organizing a revolution- 
ary party against this absolutism." We totally fail to understand these 
distinctions which seem to be of such cardinal importance to P. L. Lav- 
rov. What? A "Workers' Party apart from a revolutionary party which is 
directed against absolutism?" But is not a workers' party a revolu- 
tionary party? Is it not directed against absolutism? This queer argument 

* Retreat in order to leap further forward. 

** P. L. Lavrov's article in No. 4 is, iri fact, only an "excerpt" from a long 
letter written by him for Materials. We have heard that this letter was published 
abroad in full this summer (1897) as well as a reply by Plekhanov. We have seen 
neither the one nor the other. Nor do we know whether Narodnaya Volya Leaflet 
No. 5, in which the editors promised to publish an editorial article on P. L. Lav- 
rov** letter, has been published yet. Cf. No. 4, p. 22, col. 1, footnote. 


is explained in the following passage in P. L. Lavrov's article: "A Rus- 
sian Workers' Party will have to be organized under the conditions of 
absolutism with all its charms. If the Social-Democrats succeed in doing 
this without at the same time organizing a political conspiracy* against 
absolutism, with all the conditions of such a conspiracy,* then, of course, 
their political program would be a fit and proper program for Russian 
Socialists; for the emancipation of the workers by the efforts of the work- 
ers themselves would then be achieved. But this is very doubtful, if 
not impossible." (P. 21, col. l.)That is the whole point! To the follow- 
ers of "Narodnaya Volya," the term, political struggle, is synonymous 
with political conspiracy 1 It must be confessed that in these words P. L. 
Lavrov has managed to display in striking relief the fundamental differ- 
ence between the tactics in political struggle adopted by the followers 
of "Narodnaya Volya" and those adopted by the Social-Democrats. The 
traditions of Blanquism, of conspiracies, are very strong among the follow- 
ers of "Narodnaya Volya," so much so that they cannot conceive the 
political struggle except in the form of political conspiracy. The Social- 
Democrats do not hold to such a narrow point of view; they do not believe 
in conspiracies; they think that the period of conspiracies has long 
passed away, that to reduce the political struggle to a conspiracy means 
to restrict its scope greatly, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, 
it means selecting the most inefficient method of struggle. Everyone will 
understand that P. L. Lavrov's remark, that "the Russian Social-Demo- 
crats take the activities of the West as an unfailing model" (p. 21, col. 1) 
is nothing more than a debating trick, for as a matter of fact Russian 
Social-Democrats have never forgotten the political conditions that pre- 
vail in Russia, they have never dreamed of being able to form an open 
workers' party in Russia, they have never separated the task of fighting 
for Socialism from the task of fighting for political liberty. But they have 
always thought, and continue to think, that this fight must be waged 
not by conspirators, but by a revolutionary party that is based on the 
labour movement. They think that the fight against absolutism must be 
waged not in the form of plots, but by educating, disciplining and organ- 
izing the proletariat, by political agitation among the workers, which 
shall denounce every manifestation of absolutism, which will pillory 
all the knights of the police government and will compel this government 
to make concessions. Is this not precisely the kind of activity the 
St. Petersburg "League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working 
Class" is carrying on? Does not this organization represent the embryo of 
a revolutionary party based on the labour movement, which leads the 
class struggle of the proletariat against capital and against the absolut- 
ist government without hatching any plots, and which derives its strength 
from the combination of the Socialist struggle with the democratic 

*Our italics. 

142 V. I. LENIN 

struggle into a single, indivisible class struggle of the St. Petersburg 
proletariat? Have not the activities of the "League" shown, notwithstand- 
ing the brief period they have been carried on, that the proletariat led 
by Social-Democracy represents an important political force with which 
the government is already compelled to reckon and to which it hastens 
to make concessions? The haste with which the Act of June 2, 1897,* was 
passed and the content of that Act reveal its significance as a forced con^ 
cession to the proletariat, as a position won from the enemy of the Rus T 
sian people. This concession is a concession only in miniature, the posi- 
tion won is only a very small one, but remember that the working-class 
organization that succeeded in obtaining this concession is neither very 
broad nor stable, nor of long standing, nor rich in experience and resources. 
As is well known, the "League of Struggle" was formed only in 1895-96, 
and the only way it has been able to appeal to the workers has been in 
the form of mimeographed or lithographed leaflets. Can it be denied that 
an organization like this, uniting at least the important centres of the 
labour movement in Russia (the St. Petersburg, Moscow and Vladimir 
areas, the southern area, and also the most important towns like Odessa, 
Kiev, Saratov, etc.), having at its disposal a revolutionary organ and 
possessing as much authority among the Russian workers as the "League 
of Struggle" has among the St. Petersburg workers can it be denied that 
such an organization would be a very important political factor in con- 
temporary Russia, a factor that the government would have to reckon 
with in its home and foreign policy? By leading the class struggle of the 
proletariat, developing organization and discipline among the workers, 
helping them to fight for their immediate economic needs and to win po- 
sition after position from capital, by politically educating the workers 
and systematically and unswervingly pursuing absolutism and making 
life a torment for every tsarist bashi-bazouk who makes the proletariat 
feel the heavy paw of the police government such an organization would 
at one and the same time adapt itself to the conditions under which we 
would have to form a workers ' party and be a powerful revolutionary party 
directed against absolutism. To discuss beforehand what methods this 
organization is to resort to in order to deliver a smashing blow at absolu- 
tism, whether, for example, it would prefer rebellion, or a mass political 
strike or some other form of attack, to discuss these things before- 
hand and to decide this question now would be empty doctri T 
nairism. It would be behaving like generals who called a council 
of war before they had recruited their army, had mobilized it, and 
before they had begun the campaign against the enemy. When the 
army of the proletariat unswervingly, under the leadership of a strong 
Social-Democratic organization, fights for its economic and political 

* The Act of June 2, 1897 restricted the working day to ll 1 /, hours and intro* 
duced a compulsory Sunday holiday. Lenin analysed this Act in detail in his 
pamphlet The New Factory Act. Ed. 


emancipation, that army will itself indicate to the generals the methods 
and means of action. Then, and then only, will it be possible to decide 
the question of delivering a smashing blow against absolutism; for the prob- 
lem depends on the state of the labour movement, on its dimensions,, 
on the methods of struggle developed by the movement, on the character 
of the revolutionary organization that is leading the movement, on the 
attitude of other social elements towards the proletariat and towards- 
absolutism, on the state of home and foreign politics in short, it 
depends on a thousand and one things which cannot be determined and 
which it would be useless to determine beforehand. 

That is why the following argument by P. L. Lavrov is also unfair: 

"If they [the Social-Democrats] have, somehow or other, not 
only to group the forces of labour for the struggle against capital, but 
also to rally revolutionary individuals and groups against absolu- 
tism, then the Russian Social-Democrats will in fact" (author's ital- 
ics) "adopt the program of their opponents, the 'Narodnaya Volya'- 
ites, no matter what they may call themselves. Differences of opinion 
concerning the village commune, the destiny of capitalism in Russia 
and economic materialism are very unimportant matters of detail,, 
as far as real business is concerned, which either facilitate or hinder 
the solution of individual problems, individual methods of preparing 
the main points, but nothing more." (Page 21, col. 1.) 

It seems funny to have to enter into an argument about that last postu- 
late: that difference of opinion on the fundamental questions of Russian life 
and of the development of Russian society, on the fundamental questions 
of the conception of history, may seem to be only matters of "detail"! Long 
ago it was said that without a revolutionary theory there can be no revo- 
lutionary movement, and it is hardly necessary to prove this truth at the 
present time. The theory of the class struggle, the materialist conception of 
Russian history and the materialist appreciation of the present economic 
and political situation in Russia, the recognition of the necessity to reduce 
the revolutionary struggle to the definite interests of a definite class and to 
analyse its relation to other classes to describe these great revolutionary 
questions as "details" is so utterly wrong and comes so unexpectedly from a 
veteran of revolutionary theory that we are almost prepared to regard this 
passage as a lapsus.* As for the first part of the tirade quoted above, its un- 
fairness is still more astonishing. To state in print that the Russian Social- 
Democrats only group the forces of labour for the purpose of fighting against 
capital (i.e., only for the economic struggle!) and that they do not rally 
revolutionary individuals and groups for the struggle against absolutism 
implies either that the one who makes such a statement does not know the 
generally known facts about the activities of the Russian Social-Democrats 

A slip. Ed. 

144 V. I. LENIW 

or that he does not want to know them. Or perhaps P. L. Lavfov does not 
regard the Social-Democrats who are carrying on practical work in Russia 
as "revolutionary individuals" and "revolutionary groups"?! Or (and this, 
perhaps, is more likely) when he says, "struggle" against .absolutism, does 
lie mean only hatching plots against absolutism? (Of. p. 21, col. 2: "... it 
is a matter of ... organizing a revolutionary plot," our italics.) Perhaps, 
in P. L. Lavrov 's opinion, those who do not engage in political plotting 
are not engaged in the political struggle? We repeat once again: opinions 
like these fully correspond to the ancient traditions of ancient "Narodnaya 
Volya"-ism, but they certainly do not correspond either to modern con- 
ceptions of the political struggle or to present-day conditions. 

We have still to say a few words about the followers of <c Narodnoye 
Pravo." P. L. Lavrov is quite right, in our opinion, when he says that the 
Social-Deiftocrats "recommend the 'Narodnoye Pravo '-ites as being more 
frank," and that they are "prepared to support them without, however, 
merging with them" (p. 19, col. 2); he should have added however: as frank- 
er democrats, and to the extent tfuit the "Narodnoye Pravo"-ites come out 
as consistent democrats. Unfortunately, this condition is more in the na- 
ture of the desired future than the actual present. The "Narodnoye Pravo"- 
ites expressed a desire to free the tasks of democracy from Narodism and 
from the obsolete forms of "Russian Socialism" generally; but they them- 
selves have not yet been freed from old prejudices by a long way; and they 
proved to be far from consistent when they described their party, which is 
exclusively a Party for political reforms, as a "social [??!] revolutionary" 
party (cf. their Manifesto dated February 19, .1894), and declared in 
their manifesto that the term "people's rights" implies also the organiza- 
tion of "people's industry" (we are obliged to quote from memory) and thus 
introduced, on the sly, Narodnik prejudices. Hence, P. L. Lavrov was not 
altogether wrong wten he described them as "masquerade politicians." 
(P. 20, col. 2.) But perhaps it would be fairer to regard **Narodnoye Pravo"- 
ism as a transitional doctrine, to the credit of which it must be said that it 
was ashamed of the native Narodnik doctrines and openly entered into po- 
lemics against those abominable Narodnik reactionaries who, in the face 
of the police-ridden class government of the autocracy, have the impudence 
to speak of economic, and not political, reforms being desirable. (Cf. An 
Urgent Question, published by the "Narodnoye Pravo" Party.) If, indeed, 
the "Narodnoye Pravo" Party does not contain anybody except ex-So- 
cialists who conceal their Socialist banner on the plea of tactical considera- 
tions, and who merely don the mask of non-Socialist politicians (as P. L. 
Lavrov assumes, p. 20, col. 2) then, of course, that party has no future 
whatever. If, however, there are in the party not masquerade, but real non- 
Socialist politicians, non-Socialist democrats, then this party can do not 
a little good by striving to draw closer to the political opposition elements 
among our bourgeoisie, striving to arouse political consciousness among 
our petty bourgeoisie, small shopkeepers, small artisans, etc. the class 


which, everywhere in Western Europe, played apart in the democratic 
movement and which, in Russia, has made particularly rapid progress in cul- 
tural and other respects in the post- Reform epoch, and which cannot avoid 
feeling the oppression of the police government and its cynical support of 
the big factory owners, the financial and industrial monopolist magnates. 
All that is required is that the "Narodnoye Pravo"-ites make it their task 
to draw closer to various strata of the population and not confine them- 
selves to the "intelligentsia" whose impotence, owing to their isolation from 
the real interests of the masses, is even admitted in An Urgent Question. 
For this it is necessary that the "Narodnoye Pravo"-ites abandon all as- 
pirations to merge heterogeneous social elements and to eliminate Social- 
ism from political tasks, that they abandon that false pride which pre- 
vents them from drawing closer to the bourgeois strata of the population, 
i.e., that they not only talk about a program for non-Socialist politicians, 
but act in accordance with such a program, that they rouse and develop the 
class consciousness of those social groups and classes for whom Socialism is 
quite unnecessary, but who, as time goes on, more and more feel the 
oppression of absolutism and realize the necessity for political liberty. 

Russian Social-Democracy is still very young. It is but just emerging 
from its embryonic state in which theoretical questions predominated. It 
is but just beginning to develop its practical activity. Instead of criticiz- 
ing the Social-Democratic theory and program, revolutionaries in other 
factions must of necessity criticize the practical activities of the Russian 
Social-Democrats. And it must be admitted that the criticism of the practi- 
cal activities differs very sharply from the criticism of theory, so much so, 
in fact, that the comical rumour went round that the St. Petersburg "League 
of Struggle" is not a Social-Democratic organization. The very fact that such 
a rumour could be floated shows how unfounded is the charge, that is being 
bandied about, that the Social-Democrats ignore the political struggle. The 
very fact that such a rumour could be floated shows that many revolution- 
aries who could not be convinced by the theory held by the Social-Dem- 
ocrats are beginning to be convinced by their practice. 

Russian Social-Democracy has still an enormous field of work open before 
it that has hardly been touched yet. The awakening of the Russian work- 
ing class, its spontaneous striving after knowledge, unity, Socialism, for 
the struggle against its exploiters and oppressors, become more strikingly 
revealed every day. The enormous success which Russian capitalism has 
achieved in recent times serves as a guarantee that the labour movement 
will grow uninterruptedly in breadth and depth. Apparently, we are now 
passing through theperiod in the capitalist cycle when industry is "flourish- 
ing," when business is brisk, when the factories are working to full capac- 
ity and when new factories, new enterprises, new joint-stock companies, 




railway enterprises, etc., etc., spring up like mushrooms. But one need not 
be a prophet to be able to foretell the inevitable crash (more or less sudden) 
that must succeed this period of industrial "prosperity." This crash will 
cause the ruin of masses of small masters, will throw masses of workers into 
the ranks of the unemployed, and will thus confront all the masses of the 
workers in an acute form with the questions of Socialism and democracy 
which have already confronted every class-conscious and thinking worker. 
The Russian Social-Democrats must see to it that when the crash comes the 
Russian proletariat is more class conscious, more united, able to understand 
the tasks of the Russian working class, capable of putting up resistance 
against the capitalist class which is now reaping a rich harvest of profits 
and which always strives to throw the burden of the losses upon the workers 
and capable of taking the lead of Russian democracy in the resolute strug- 
gle against the police absolutism which fetters the Russian workers and the 
whole of the Russian people. 

And so, to work, comrades! Let us not lose precious time! The Russian 
Social-Democrats have much to do to meet the requirements of the awaken- 
ing proletariat, to organize the labour movement, to strengthen the revo- 
lutionary groups and their contacts with each other, to supply the workers 
with propaganda and agitational literature, and to unite the workers' cir- 
cles and Social-Democratic groups scattered all over Russia into a single 
Social- Democratic Labour Party \ 

Originally published 
as a separate pamphlet 
in Geneva, 1898 








(From a letter by Lassalle to Marx, June 24, 


According to the author's original plan, the present pamphlet was to 
have been devoted to a detailed development of the ideas expressed in the 
article "Where To Begin" (Iskra, No. 4, May 1901). * And we must first of 
all apologize to the reader for the delay in fulfilling the promise made in 
that article (and repeated in replies to many private inquiries and letters). 
One of the reasons for this delay was the attempt made last June (1901) to 
unite all the Social-Democratic organizations abroad. It was natural to 
wait for the results of this attempt, for if it were successful it would per- 
haps have been necessary to expound Iskra's views on organization from 
a rather different point of view; and in any case, such a success promised 
to put a very early end to the existence of two separate trends in the Russian 
Social-Democratic movement. As the reader knows, the attempt failed, and, 
as we shall try to show herein, was bound to fail after the new swing of Ra- 
bocheye Dyelo, in its issue No. 10, towards Economism. It proved absolute- 
ly essential to commence a determined fight against this diffuse and ill- 
defined, but very persistent trend, which might spring up again in diverse 
forms. Accordingly, the original plan of the pamphlet was changed and very 
considerably enlarged. 

Its main theme was to have been the three questions raised in the article 
"Where To Begin" viz., the character and substance of our political agi- 

* Se Lenir, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Vol. II, pp. 15-23. Ed. 


150 V. I. LENIN 

tation, our organizational tasks, and the plan for building, simultaneously 
and from various ends, a militant, country-wide organization. These ques- 
tions have long engaged the mind of the author, who already tried to raise 
them in Rabochaya Oaze la* during one of the unsuccessful attempts to re- 
vive that paper (see Chap. V). But the original plan to confine this pam- 
phlet to an analysis of these three questions and to express our views as far as 
possible In a positive form, without entering at all, or entering very little, 
into polemics, proved quite impracticable for two reasons. One was that 
Economism proved to be much more tenacious than we had supposed (we 
employ the term Economism in the broad sense, as explained in Iskra, 
No. 12 [December 1901], in an article entitled "A Conversation with 
the Advocates of Economism," which was a synopsis, so to speak, of 
the present pamphlet.**) It became clear beyond doubt that the 
differences regarding the answers to these three questions were due 
much more to the fundamental antithesis between the two trends in 
the Russian Social-Democratic movement than to differences over details. 
The second reason was that the perplexity displayed by the Economists 
over the practical application of our views in Iskra revealed quite clearly 
that we often literally speak in different languages, that therefore we can- 
not come to any understanding without beginning ab ovo,*** and that an 
attempt must be made, in the simplest possible style, and illustrated by 
numerous and concrete examples, systematically to "clear up all 9 ' our funda- 
mental points of difference with all the Economists. I resolved to make such 
an attempt to "clear up" the differences, fully realizing that it would greatly 
increase the size of the pamphlet and delay its publication, but at the same 
time seeing no other way of fulfilling the promise I made in the article 
"Where To Begin." Thus, in addition to apologizing for the belated publi- 
cation of the pamphlet, I must Apologize for its numerous literary shortcom- 
ings. I had to work under great pressure 9 and was moreover frequently in- 
terrupted by other work. 

The examination of the three questions mentioned above still constitutes 
the main theme of this pamphlet, but I found it necessary to begin with two 
questions of a more general nature, viz., why an "innocent" and "natural" 
demand like "freedom of criticism" should be a real fighting challenge for 
us, and why we cannot agree even on the fundamental question of the 
role of Social-Democrats in relation to the spontaneous mass movement. 
Further, the exposition of our views on the character and substance of po- 
litical agitation developed into an explanation of the difference between the 

* Rabochaya Oazeta organ of the Kiev Social-Democrats. By decision of 
the First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. this newspaper was declared the central organ 
of the Party. Lenin wrote several articles for the paper (see Lenin, Collected Works, 
Russian edition, Vol. II, pp. 487.504) but it proved impossible to renew 
publication. Jd. 

** See Lenin, Collected Work*, Eng. cd t| Vol. IV, Book II, pp, 65-71, Ed, 
6 ovo from the beginning,^, 


trade unionist policy and the Social-Democratic policy, while the exposi- 
tion of our views on organizational tasks developed into an explanation of 
the difference between the amateurish methods which satisfy the Economists 
and the organization of revolutionaries which in our opinion is indispen- 
sable. Further, I advance the "plan" for an all- Russian political newspaper 
with all the more insistence because of the flimsiness of the arguments lev- 
eled against it, and because no real answer has been given to the question 
I raised in the article "Where To Begin" as to how we can set to work from 
all sides simultaneously to construct the organization we need. Finally, in 
the concluding part of this pamphlet, I hope to show that we did all we could 
to prevent a decisive rupture with the Economists, but that it neverthe- 
less proved inevitable; that Rdbocheye Dyelo has acquired a special signifi- 
cance, a "historical" significance, if you will, because it most fully and 
most graphically expressed, not consistent Economism, but the confusion 
and vacillation which constitute the distinguishing feature of a whole 
period in the history of the Russian Social -Democratic movement; and that 
therefore the controversy with Rdbocheye Dyelo, which may at first sight 
seem to be waged in too excessive detail, also acquires significance; for no 
progress can be made until we put a definite end to this period. 

February 1902 

162 V. I. LENIN 



A. What Is "Freedom of Criticism 99 '? 

"Freedom of criticism," this undoubtedly is the most fashionable slo- 
gan at the present time, and the one most frequently employed in the con- 
troversies 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 for freedom of criticism. Have voices 
been raised in some of 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," an 
onlooker, who has not yet fully appreciated the nature of the disagreements 
among the controversialists, will say when he hears this fashionable slo- 
gan repeated at every cross-road. "Evidently this slogan is one of the con- 
ventional 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 separate tendencies have been formed in 
present-day international Social-Democracy.* The fight between these 
tendencies now flares up in a bright flame, and now dies down and smoul- 
ders under the ashes of imposing "resolutions for an armistice." What 
this "new" tendency, which adopts a "critical" attitude towards "obsolete 

* Incidentally, this perhaps is the only occasion in the history of modern 
Socialism in which controversies between various tendencies within the Socialist 
movement have grown from national into international controversies; and this 
is extremely encouraging. Formerly, the disputes between the Lassalleans and 
the Eisenachers, between the Guesdites and the Possibilists, between the Fabians 
and the Social-Democrats, and between the "Narodnaya Volya"-ites 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 Bern- 
steinites and the Russian "critics" all belong to the same family, all extol each 
other, learn from each other, and are rallying their forces against "doctrinaire" 
Marxism. Perhaps in this first really international battle with Socialist opportun- 
ism, international revolutionary Social -Democracy will become sufficiently strength- 
ened to put an end to the political reaction that has long reigned in Europe. 


doctrinaire" Marxism, represents has been stated with sufficient precision 
by Bernstein, and demonstrated by Millerand. 

Social-Democracy must change from a party of the social revolution in- 
to a democratic party of social reforms. Bernstein has surrounded this po- 
litical demand with a whole battery of symmetrically arranged "new" ar- 
guments and reasonings. The possibility of putting Socialism on a scientific 
basis and of proving that it is necessary and inevitable from the point of 
view of the materialist conception of history was denied, as also were the 
facts of growing impoverishment and proletarianization and the intensifi- 
cation of capitalist contradictions. The very conception, "ultimate 
aim," was declared to be unsound, and the idea of the dictatorship of 
the proletariat was absolutely rejected. It was denied that there is any 
difference 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 definite change from revolutionary Social-De- 
mocracy to bourgeois social-reformism was accompanied by a no less def- 
inite turn towards bourgeois criticism of all the fundamental ideas of Marx- 
ism. As this criticism of Marxism has been going on for a long time 
now, from the political platform, from university chairs, in numerous pam- 
phlets and in a number of scientific works, as the younger generation of 
the educated classes has been systematically trained for decades on this 
criticism, it is not surprising that the "new, critical" tendency in Social- 
Democracy should spring up, all complete, like Minerva from the head 
of Jupiter. The content of this new tendency did not have to grow and 
develop, it was transferred bodily from bourgeois literature to Socialist 

To proceed. If Bernstein's theoretical criticism and political yearnings 
are still obscure to anyone, the French have taken the trouble to demon- 
strate the "new method." In this instance, also, France has justified its old 
reputation as the country in which "more than anywhere else, the historical 
class struggles were each time fought out to a decision. . . ." (Engels, in his 
introduction to Marx's The Eighteenth Brumaire.) The French Socialists 
have begun, not to theorize, but to act. The more developed democratic po- 
litical 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 
Bernstein and Volltnar rush so zealously to defend and praise him! Indeed, 
if Social-Democracy, in essence, is merely a reformist party, and must be 
bold enough to admit this openly, then not only has a Socialist the right to 
join a bourgeois cabinet, it is even his duty always to 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 

154 V. I. LENIN 

the shooting down of workers by gendarmes has exposed, for the hundredth 
and thousandth time, the real nature of the democratic co-operation of 
classes? . . . 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 working class the only basis that can 
guarantee our victory the reward for this is imposing plans for nig- 
gardly 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" tendency in Socialism is nothing more nor less than a new species 
of opportunism. And if we judge people not by the brilliant uniforms they 
deck themselves in, not by the imposing 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 tendency in 
Social-Democracy, the freedom to convert Social-Democracy into a demo- 
era tic reformist party, -the freedom to introduce bourgeois ideas and bour- 
geois 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 of criticism," that is heard today, 
too strongly calls to mind the fable of the empty barrel. 

We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficu It 
path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all 
sides by enemies, and are under -their almost constant fire. We have combined 
voluntarily, precisely for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not to 
retreat into the adjacent rnarsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very 
outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclu- 
sive 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 1 And when we begin to shame them, they retort: how conserva- 
tive you arel Are you not ashamed to deny us the right 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 not only to fight against the marsh, but also against those 
who are turning towards the marsh. 


B. The New Advocates of "Freedom of Criticism" 

Now, this slogan ("freedom of criticism") is solemnly advanced in No, 10 
of Rdbocheye Dyelo, the organ of the Foreign Union of Russian Social- 
Democrats, abroad 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 very definite conclusions must be drawn: 1) that 
Rdbocheye Dyelo has taken the opportunist tendency in international So- 
cial-Democracy under its wing; and 2) that Rdbocheye Dyelo demands free- 
dom for opportunism in Russian Social-Democracy. We shall examine these 

Rdbocheye Dyelo is "particularly" displeased with Iskra's and Zarya's 
"inclination to predict a rupture between the Mountain and the Oironde 
in international Social-Democracy."* 

"Generally speaking," writes B. Krichevsky, editor of Rdbocheye 
Dyelo, "this talk about the Mountain and the Gironde that is heard in 
the ranks of Social-Democracy represents a shallow historical anal- 
ogy, which looks strange when it comes from the pen of a Marxist. 
The Mountain and the Gironde did not represent two different tem- 
peraments, or intellectual tendencies, as ideologist historians may 
think, but two 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 
Bernsteinites, stand on the basis of the class interests of the pro- 
letariat and of the proletarian class struggle, for its political and eco- 
nomic emancipation." (Pp. 32-33.) 

A bold assertion! Has not B. Krichevsky heard the fact, long ago noted, 
that it is precisely the extensive participation of the "academic" stratum in 
the Socialist movement in recent years that has secured the rapid spread of 
Bernsteinism? And what is most important on what does our author base 
his opinion that even "the most pronounced Bernsteinites" stand on the 
basis of the class struggle for the political and economic emancipation of 

* A comparison between the two tendencies among the revolutionary prole- 
tariat (the revolutionary and the opportunist) and the two tendencies among the 
revolutionary bourgeoisie in the eighteenth century (the Jacobin, known as the 
Mountain, and the Girondists) was made in a leading article in No. 2 of Iskra, 
February 1901. This article was written by Plekhanov. The Cadets, the Bezza- 
glavtai 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 cir- 
cumstance that Plekhanov used this term for the first time against the Right 
wing of Social-Democracy, (Author's note to the 1908 edition, #d.) 

156 V. L LENIN 

the proletariat? No one knows. This determined defence of the most pro- 
nounced Bernsteinians is not supported by any kind of argument whatever. 
Apparently, the author believes that if he repeats what the pronounced 
Bernsteinites say about themselves, his assertion requires no proof. But 
can anything more "shallow" be imagined than an opinion of a whole ten- 
dency that is 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 diametri- 
cally opposite types, or paths, of Party development? (Rabocheye Dyelo, 
pp. 34-35.) The German Social-Democrats, you see, recognize complete free- 
dom of criticism, but the French do not, and it is precisely the latter that 
present an example of the "harmfulness of intolerance." 

To which we reply that the very example of B. Krichevsky proves 
that those who regard history literally from the "Ilovaysky"* point of view 
sometimes describe themselves as Marxists. There is no need whatever, in 
explaining the unity of the German Socialist Party and the dismembered 
state of the French Socialist Party, to search for the special features in the 
history of the respective countries, to compare the conditions of military 
semi- absolutism in the one country with republican parliamentarism in the 
other, or to analyse the effects of the Paris Commune and the effects of the 
Anti- Socialist Law in Germany; ** to compare the economic life and econom- 
ic development of the two countries, or recall that "the unexampled 
growth of German Social-Democracy" was accompanied by a strenuous 
struggle, unexampled in the history of Socialism, not only against mistaken 
theories (Miihlberger, Diihring, *** the Katkeder- Socialists), but also against 
mistaken tactics (Lassalle), etc., etc. All that is superfluous! The French 

* Ilovaysky author of the standard school textbooks on history in use in 
Russian schools before the Revolutio'n. Their purpose was to educate the student 
youth in the spirit of "loyalty to the Tsar." These textbooks were proverbial 
for their sheer ignorance and ant i -scientific treatment of Russian history. Ed. 
** The Anti-Socialist Law an exceptional law against Socialists passed by 
the Reichstag in 1878 on a motion introduced by Bismarck the express purpose 
of which was to suppress the Social-Democratic movement in Germany. The law 
was repealed in 1890. Ed. 

*** At the time Engels hurled his attack against Diihring, 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 Vorwarts 
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 Diihring had also 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 Vorw&rta is not the place in which to conduct 
them." (Vorwdrts, No. 65, June 6, 1877.) Here we have another example of the 
defence of "freedom of criticism," and it would do our legal critics and illegal 
opportunists, who love so much to quote examples from the Germans,, a deal 
of good to ponder over it I 


quarrel among themcelves because they are intolerant; the Geimans are 
united because they are gcod boys. 

And observe, this piece of matchless profundity is intended to "refute" 
the fact which is a complete answer to the defence of Bernsteinism. 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 France is the only country in which 
the Bernsteinians attempted to stand independently, on their own feet, 
with the warm approval of their German colleagues (and partly also of the 
Russian opportunists). (Of. Rabocheye Dyelo, Nos. 2-3, pp. 83-84.) The ref- 
erence to the "intolerance" of the French, apart from its "historical" signifi- 
cance (in the Nozdrev sense), turns out to be merely an attempt to obscure 
a very unpleasant fact with angry invectives. 

But we are not even prepared to make a present of the Germans to 
B. Krichevsky and to the numerous other champions of "freedom of 
criticism." The "most pronounced Bernsteinians" are still tolerated in 
the ranks of the German Party only because they submit to the Hanover 
resolution, which emphatically rejected Bernstein's "amendments," 
and to the Liibeck resolution, which (notwithstanding the diplomatic 
terms in which it is couched) contains a direct warning to Bernstein. It 
is a debatable point, 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 
in regard to the expediency, or not, of the methods employed to reject 
Bernsteinism, but one cannot fail to see the fact that the German Party 
did reject Bernsteinism on two occasions. Therefore, to think that the 
German example endorses the thesis: "The most pronounced Bernsteinians 
stand on the basis of the proletarian class struggle, for its economic and 
political emancipation," means failing absolutely to understand what 
is going on before one's eyes. 

More than that. As we have already observed, Rabocheye Dyelo comes 
before Russian Social -Democracy, demands "freedom of criticism," and 
defends Bernsteinism. Apparently it came to the conclusion that we were 
unfair to our "critics" and Bernsteinites. To whom were we unfair, when 
and how? What was the unfairness? About this not a word. 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: first, that the 
unfairly treated party is none other than Rabocheye Dyelo itself (and 
that is by the fact that, in the two articles in No. 10 reference 
is made only to the insults hurled at Rabocheye Dyelo by Zaiya and/sfcra). 
If that is the case, how is the strange fact to be explained that Rabocheye 
Dyzlo, which always vehemently dissociates itself from Bernsteinism^ 
could not defend itself, without putting in a word on behalf of the "most 
pronoanced Bernsteinites" and of freedom of criticism? The second sup- 

168 V. I. LENIN 

position is that third persons have been treated unfairly. If the second 
supposition is correct, then why are these persons not named? 

We see, therefore, that Rabocheye Dyelo is continuing to play the game 
of hide-and-seek that it has played (as we shall prove further on) ever 
since it commenced publication. And note the first practical application 
of this greatly extolled "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 Starovyer's 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! In- 
stead of freedom of criticism slavish (worse: monkey-like) imitation! 
The very same social and political content of modern international oppor- 
tunism reveals itself in a variety of ways according to its national charac- 
teristics. In one country the opportunists long ago came out under a 
separate flag, while in others they ignored theory and in practice conduct- 
ed a radical-socialist policy. 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, unobserved 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 extremely peculiar combination of "legal" with "illegal" activ- 
ity, etc., etc. To talk about freedom of criticism and Bernsteinism as 
a condition for uniting the Russian Social-Democrats, and not to ex- 
plain how Russian Bernsteinism has manifested itself, and what fruits 
it has borne, means talking for the purpose of saying nothing. 

We shall try, if only in a few words, to say what Rabocheye Dyelo 
did not want to say (or perhaps did not even understand). 

C. Criticism in Russia 

The peculiar position of Russia in regard to the point we are examining 
is that the very beginning of the spontaneous labour 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 of fighting the common 
enemy (obsolete social and political Views). We refer to the heyday of 
"legal Marxism." Speaking generally, this was an extremely curious phe- 
nomenon 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 intense political reaction 
in which even the tiniest outgrowth of political discontent and protest 


was suppressed, the theory of revolutionary Marxism suddenly forces 
its way into the censored literature, written in Aesopian language, but 
understood by the "interested." The government had accustomed itself 
to regarding only the theory of (revolutionary) "Narodnaya Volya"- 
ism as dangerous, without observing its internal evolution, as is usually 
the case, and rejoicing at the criticism levelled against it no matter 
from what quarter it came. Quite a considerable time elapsed (according to 
our Russian calculations) before the government realized what had hap- 
pened and the unwieldy army of censors and gendarmes discovered the 
new enemy and flung itself upon him. Meanwhile, Marxian books were 
published one after another, Marxian journals and newspapers were found- 
ed, nearly everyone became a Marxist, Marxism was flattered, the 
Marxists were courted and the book publishers rejoiced at the extraor- 
dinary, ready sale of Marxian literature. It was quite natural, therefore, 
that among the Marxian novices who were caught in this atmosphere, 
there should be more than one "author who got a swelled head. ..." 
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 hteiature was called forth by the alliance between people 
of extieme and of extiemely moderate views. In point of fact, the latter weie 
bourgeois demociats; and this was the conclusion (so strikingly confirmed 
by their subsequent "critical" development) that intruded itself on 
the minds of certain persons even when the "alliance" was still intact.* 
That being the case, does not the responsibility for the subsequent 
"confusion" rest mainly upon the revolutionary Social-Democrats who 
enteied into alliance with these future "critics"?** This question, togeth- 
er with a icpjy in the affirmative, is sometimes heard from people with 
excessively rigid views. But these people are absolutely wrong. Only 
those who have no self-reliance can fear to enter into temporary alli- 
ances even with unreliable people; not a single political party could exist 
without entering into such alliances. The combination with the "legal 
Marxists" was in its way the first really political alliance contracted 
by Russian Social-Democrats. Thanks to this alliance, an astonishingly 
rapid victory was obtained over Narodism, and Marxian ideas (even 
though in a vulgarized form) became very widespread. Moieover, the 
alliance was not concluded altogether without "conditions." The proof: 
the burning by the censor, in 1895, of the Marxian symposium, Mate- 
rials on the Problem of the Economic Development of Russia*** If the 

*This refers to an article by K. Tulin [Lenin Ed.] written against Struve. 
The* article was compiled from an essay entitled "The Reflection of Marxism in 
Bourgeois Literature." (Author's note to the 1908 edition. See Lenin, Selected 
Works, Eng. ed., Vol. I, pp. 457-66. Ed.) 

** "The critics in Russia" "legal Marxists" the critics of Marx, viz., Struve, 
Bulgakov, Berdayev and others. Ed. 

*** This symposium contained articles by Lenin (under the pen name of 
Tulin), Plekhanov, Potresov and others. Ed. 

160 V. I. LENIN 

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 lat- 
ter tendency were the natural attd desirable allies of Social-Democracy 
in so far as its democratic tasks that were brought to the front by the pre- 
vailing situation in Russia were concerned. But an essential condition 
for such an alliance must be complete liberty for Socialists to reveal 
to. the working class that its interests are diametrically opposed to the 
interests of the bourgeoisie. However, the Bernsteinian and "critical" 
tendency, to which the majority of the "legal Marxists" turned, de- 
prived the Socialists of this liberty and corrupted Socialist consciousness 
by vulgarizing Marxism, by preaching the toning down of social antago- 
nisms, by declaring the idea of the social revolution and the dictatorship 
of the proletariat to be absurd, by restricting the labour movement and 
the class struggle to narrow trade unionism and to a "realistic" struggle 
for petty, gradual reforms. This was tantamount to the bourgeois dem- 
ocrat's denial of Socialism's right to independence and, consequently, 
of its right to existence; in practice it meant a striving to convert the 
nascent labour 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 sim- 
ply meant the elimination of the Social-Democrats from the most ac- 
cessible and widespread "legal" literature. The "ex-Marxists" who took 
up the flag of "criticism," and who obtained almost a monopoly of the 
"criticism" of Marxism, entrenched themselves in this literature. Catch- 
words like: "Against orthodoxy" and "Long live freedom of criticism" 
(now repeated by Rabocheye Dyelo) immediately became the fashion, and 
the fact that neither the censor nor the gendarmes could resist this fash- 
ion is apparent from the publication of three Russian editions of Bern- 
stein's celebrated book (celebrated in the Herostratus sense) and from 
the fact that the books by Bernstein, Prokopovich and others were 
recommended by Zubatov. (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. 9 the task of fighting against 
the new tendency. And this tendency did not confine itself to the sphere 
of literature. The turn towards "criticism" was accompanied by the turn to- 
wards "Economism" that was taken by Social-Democratic practical workers. 

The manner in which the contacts and mutual interdependence of 
legal criticism and illegal Economism arose and grew is an interesting 
subject in itself, and may very well be treated in a special article. It 
is sufficient to note here that these contacts undoubtedly existed. The no- 
toriety deservedly acquired by the Credo was due precisely to the frank- 
ness with which it formulated these contacts and revealed the fundamen- 
tal political tendencies of "Economism, "viz., let the workers carry on the 


economic struggle (it would be more correct to say the trade union strug- 
gle, because the latter also embraces specifically labour politics), and let 
the Marxian intelligentsia merge with the liberals for the political "strug* 
gle." Thus it turned out that trade union work "among the people" meant 
fulfilling the first part of this task, and legal criticism meant fulfilling 
the second part. This statement proved to be 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 con- 
sent and perhaps even against the will of its authors. At all events the 
present writer, who was partly responsible for dragging this new "pro- 
gram" into the light of day, * has heard complaints and reproaches to the 
effect that copies of the resumdof. their views which was dubbed the Credo 
were distributed and even published in the press together with the pro- 
test! We refer to this episode because it reveals a very peculiar state of 
mind among 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, 
Eabochaya Mysl, and by Sabocheye Dyelo (which was indignant over the 
publication of "Economist" documents in the Vademecum * *) , as well as 
by the Kiev Committee, which two years ago refused to permit the publi- 
cation of its profession de /oi,*** together with a repudiation of it, and 
by many other individual representatives of Economism. 

This fear of criticism displayed by the advocates of freedom of criti- 
cism cannot be attributed solely to craftiness (although no doubt crafti- 
ness has something to do with it: it would be unwise to expose the young 
and as yet puny movements to the enemies' attack!). 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, of broad political questions, of schemes for 
organizing revolutionaries, etc. "Leave all this sort of thing to the ex- 
iles abroad!" said a fairly cons is tent Economist to me one day, and there- 
by he expressed a very widespread (and purely trade unionist) view: 

* Reference is made here to the Protest Signed by the Seventeen 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, 
Selected Works, Eng. ed., Vol. I. Ed.] It is now known from the article written 
by Madame Kuskova, I think in Byloye (Past), 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 1908 edition. Ed.] 

** Vademecum (literally guide) for the Editors of "Rabocheye Dyelo" the title 
of a collection of documents relating to "Economism" brought out by Plckhanov. 

*** Profession de foi profession of faith. The title of a document composed by 
the Kiev Committee in which the "Economists" expounded their program. It was 
-subjected to a withering criticism by Lenin in an article entitled "Anent 
the Profession de /ot." Ed. 


162 V. I* LENIN 

our business, he said, is the labour movement, the labour organizations, 
here, in our localities; all the rest are merely the inventions of doctri- 
naires, an "exaggeration of the importance of ideology," as the authors 
of the letter, published in Iskra, No. 12,* expressed it, in unison with 
Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10. 

The question now arises: seeing what the peculiar features of Russian 
"criticism" ^and Russian Bernsteinism are, what should those who desired 
to oppose opportunism, in deeds and not merely in words, have done? 
First of all, they should have made efforts to resume the theoreti- 
cal work that was only just begun in the period of "legal Marxism," 
and that has now again fallen on the shoulders of the illegal workers. 
XJnless such work is undertaken the successful growth of the movement 
is impossible. Secondly, they should have actively combated legal "crit- 
icism" that was greatly corrupting people's minds. Thirdly, they should 
have actively counteracted the confusion and vacillation prevailing in 
practical work, and should have exposed and repudiated every conscious 
or unconscious attempt to degrade our program and tactics. 

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

"In the interests of the further ideological development of So- 
cial-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 rev- 
olutionary character of this theory." (Two Congresses, p. 10.) 

And what is the argument behind this resolution? The resolution 
"in its first part coincides with the resolution of the Liibeck Party Con- 
gress on Bernstein. . . ." In the simplicity of their souls the "Unionists' r 
failed to observe the testimonium paupertatis (certificate of poverty) 
they give themselves by this piece of imitativeness 1 ... "But ... in 
its second part, it restricts freedom of criticism much more than did the 
Liibeck Party Congress." 

So the "Union's" resolution was directed against Russian Bernsteinism? 
If it was not, then the reference to Liibeck is utterly absurd I 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 Liibeck resolution? 

* Lenin cited this letter of the "Economists" in his article entitled "A Conver- 
sation with the Advocates of Economism" (Lenin, Collected Works. Eng. ed.,. 
Vol. IV, Book II, pp. 65-71). tfd. 


they cautioned Bernstein personally, and named him in the resolution. Our 
"free" imitators, however, do not make a single reference to a single mani- 
festation 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 exceedingly wide scope for misinterpretation, partic- 
ularly when the "Union" refuses to identify "so-called Economism" with 
opportunism. (Two Congresses^ p. 8, par. 1.) But all this en passant. 
The important thing to note is that the opportunist attitude towards 
revolutionary Social-Democrats in Russia is the very opposite of that in 
Germany. In Germany, as we know, revolutionary Social-Democrats 
are in favour of preserving what is: they stand in favour of the old pro- 
gram and tactics which are universally known, and after many decades 
of experience have become clear in all their details. The "critics" desire 
to introduce changes, and as these critics represent an insignificant minor- 
ity, and as they are very shy and halting 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 organ which could "restrict freedom" of 
criticism even by giving advice); the Economists want the revolution- 
aries to recognize the "competency of the present movement" (Rabocheye 
Dyelo, No. 10, p. 25), t.e., to recognize the "legitimacy" of what exists; 
they do not want the "ideologists" to try to "divert" the movement from 
the path that "is determined by the interaction of material elements 
and material environment" (Letter published in Iskra, No. 12); they want 
recognition "for the only struggle that the workers can conduct under 
present conditions," which in their opinion is the struggle "which they 
are actually conducting at the present time." (Special Supplement to 
Rabochaya Mysl 9 p. 14.) We revolutionary Social-Democrats, on the con- 

* The absence of public Party ties and Party traditions by itself marks such 
a cardinal difference between Russia and Germany that it should have warned 
all sensible Socialists against imitating blindly. 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: "Notwith- 
standing the independence of his conclusions, Hertz, on this point [on co-oper- 
ative societies] apparently remains tied by the opinions of his Party, and although 
he disagrees with it in details, he dare not reject common principles." (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 the if bones by political subservience, and completely 
Jack 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 I" Our illegal organizations have nothing else to do, of course, but draw 
up resolutions about freedom of criticism.... 


164 y. i. 

trary, are dissatisfied with this worshipping of spontaneity, t.e., worshipr 
ping what is "at the present time"; we demand that the tactics that have 
prevailed in recent years be changed; we declare that "before we can unite, 
and in order that we may unite, we must first of all draw firm and definite 
lines of demarcation." (See announcement of the publication of Iskra.) 
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! 

D, Engels on the Importance of the Theoretical Struggle 

"Dogmatism, doctrinairism," "ossification of the Party the inevitar 
ble retribution that follows the violent strait- lacing of thought" these 
are the enemies which the knightly champions of "freedom of criticism" 
rise up in arms against in Rabocheye Dyelo. We are very glad that this 
question has been brought up and we would only propose to add to it 
another question: 

Who are the judges? 

Before us lie two publisher's announcements. One, The Program of 
the Periodical Organ of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo (reprint from No. 1 of Rabocheye Dyel6) 9 and the other an 
announcement of the resumption of the publications of the "Emanci*- 
pation of Labour Group." Both are dated 1899, a time when the "crisis 
of Marxism" had long since been under discussion. And what do we find? 
You would seek in vain in the first publication for any reference to this 
phenomenon, or a definite statement of the position the new organ in- 
tends to adopt on this question. Of theoretical work and the urgent tasks 
that now confront it not a word is said either in this program or in the 
supplements to it that were passed by the Third Congress of the Union 
in 1901 (Two Congresses, pp. 15-18). During the whole of this time the 
editorial board of Rabocheye Dyelo ignored, theoretical questions, in 
spite of the fact that these questions were agitating the minds of all 
Social-Democrats all over the world. 

The other announcement, on the contrary, first of all points to the 
diminution of interest in theory observed in recent years, imperatively de- 
mands "vigilant attention to the theoretical side of the revolutionary move- 
ment of the proletariat," and calls for "ruthless criticism of the Bernstein- 
ian and other anti-revolutionary tendencies" in our movement. The issues 
of Zarya that have appeared show how this program has been carried out. 

Thus we see that high-sounding .phrases against the ossification of 
thought, etc., conceal unconcern and impotence in the development of 
theoretical thought. The case of the Russian Social-Democrats very strik- 
ingly illustrates the fact observed in the whole of Europe (and long 
ago noted also by the German Marxists) that ,trie notorious freedom of 

TTHAT 13 TO Bt DONE? 165 

criticism does not imply the substitution of one theory for another, but 
freedom from every complete and consistent theory; it implies eclecticism 
and lack of principle. Those who have the slightest acquaintance with 
the actual state of our movement cannot but see that the wide spread 
of Marxism was accompanied by a certain lowering of the theoretical 
level. Quite a number of people with very little, and even a total lack 
of theoretical training joined the movement because of its practical signif- 
icance and its practical successes. We can therefore judge how tactless 
Rdbocheye Dyelo is when, with an air of triumph, it quotes Marx's state- 
ment: "Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen 
programs." To repeat these words in a period of theoretical chaos is 
like wishing mourners at a funeral "many happy returns of the day/* 
Moreover, these words of Marx are taken from his letter on the Gotha 
Program, in which he sharply condemns eclecticism in the formulation 
of principles: If you must unite, Marx wrote to the Party leaders, then 
nter into agreements to satisfy the practical aims of the movement, 
but do riot haggle over principles, do not make "concessions" in theory. 
This was Marx's idea, and yet there are people among us who strive 
in his name! to belittle the significance of theory. 

Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary move- 
ment. This thought cannot be insisted upon too strongly at a time when 
the fashionable preaching of opportunism goes hand in hand with an 
infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical activity. Yet, for Rus- 
sian Social-Democrats the importance of theory is enhanced by three 
circumstances, which are often forgotten: firstly, by the fact that our 
Party is only in process of formation, its features are only just becoming 
outlined, and it is yet far from having settled accounts with other trends 
of revolutionary thought, which threaten to divert the movement from 
the proper path. On the contrary, we only very recently observed a re- 
vival of non-Social-Democratic revolutionary trends (which Axelrod 
long ago warned the Economists would happen). Under such circumstan- 
ces, what at first sight appears to be an "unimportant" mistake may lead to 
most deplorable consequences, and only short-sighted people can consider 
factional disputes and a strict differentiation between shades inopportune 
and superfluous. The fate of Russian Social-Democracy for many many 
years to come may depend on the strengthening of one or other "shade." 

Secondly, the Social-Democratic movement is essentially internation- 
al. This does not merely mean that we must combat national chauvin- 
ism, but also that a movement that is starting in a young country can 
be successful only if it assimilates the experience of otrer countries. 
And in order to assimilate this experience, it is not enough mere- 
ly to be acquainted with it, or simply to transcribe the latest resolu- 
tions. This requires the ability to treat this experience critically and to 
test it independently. Anybody who realizes how enormously the mod- 
ern labour movement has grown and become ramified will understand 

166 V. L LENflf 

what an amount of theoretical force and political (as well as revolution- 
ary) experience is needed to fulfil this task. 

Thirdly, the national tasks of Russian Social-Democracy are such as 
have never confronted any other Socialist Party in the world. Further 
on we shall have occasion to deal with the political and organizational 
duties which the task of emancipating the whole people from the yoke 
of autocracy imposes upon us. At the moment, we only wish to state that 
the role of yanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a party that is guided 
by the most advanced theory. In order to understand what this means at 
all concretely, let the reader recall predecessors of Russian Social-Democ- 
racy like Herzen, Belinsky, Chernyshevsky and the brilliant galaxy of 
revolutionaries of the 'seventies; let him ponder over the world significance 
which Russian literature is now acquiring, let him . . . but that is enough! 
Let us quote what Engels said in 1874 concerning the significance of 
theory in the Social-Democratic movement. Engels recognizes not two 
forms of the great struggle of Social-Democracy (political and economic), 
as is the fashion among us, but three, adding to the first two the theoreti- 
cal struggle. His recommendations to the German labour movement, 
which had become strong, practically and politically, are so instructive 
from the standpoint of present-day problems and controversies, that 
we hope the reader will not be vexed with us for quoting a long passage from 
his prefatory note to Der deutsche Bauernkrieg, * which has long become 
a bibliographical rarity. 

"The German workers have two important advantages over 
those of the rest of Europe. First, they belong to the most theo- 
retical people of Europe; they have retained that sense of theory 
which the so-called 'educated* people of Germany have almost 
completely lost. Without German philosophy which preceded it, 
particularly that of Hegel, German scientific Socialism the only 
scientific Socialism that has ever existed would never have come 
into being. Without a sense of theory among the workers, this 
scientific Socialism would never have passed so entirely into their 
flesh and blood as has been the case. What an immeasurable ad- 
vantage this is may be seen, on the one hand, from the indifference 
towards all theory, which is one of the main reasons why the Eng- 
lish labour movement moves so slowly in spite of the splendid 
organization of the individual unions; on the other hand, from the 
mischief and confusion wrought by Proudhonism in its original form 
among the French and Belgians, and in the further caricatured 
form at the hands of Bakunin, among the Spaniards and Italians. 
"The second advantage is that chronologically speaking the 
Germans were almost the last to come into the labour move- 

* Dritter Abdruk. Leipzig. 1875. Verlag der Genoasenschaftabuchdruckerci. 
t*The Peasant War in Germany. Third edition. Co-operative Publishers. Leipzig, 
ISIS. Ed.) 


anent. Just as German theoretical Socialism will never forget that 
it rests on the shoulders of Saint-Simon, Fourier and Owen, three 
jnen who, in spite of all their fantastic notions and utopianism, 
have their place among the most eminent thinkers of all times, 
and whose genius anticipated innumerable things the correctness 
of which is now being scientifically proved by us so the practical 
labour movement in Germany must never forget that it has de- 
veloped on the shoulders of the English and French movements, 
that it was able simply to utilize their dearly- bought experience, and 
could now avoid their mistakes, which in their time were mostly una- 
voidable. Without the English trade unions and the French workers ' 
political struggles which came before, without the gigantic impulse 
given especially by the Paris Commune, where would we now be? 

"It must be said to the credit of the German workers that they 
have exploited the advantages of their situation with rare under- 
standing. For the first time since a labour movement has exist- 
ed, the struggle is being conducted from its three sides, the theo- 
retical, the political and the practical-economic (resistance to the 
capitalists), in harmony, co-ordination and in a planned way. 
It is precisely in this, as it were, concentric attack, that the strength 
and invincibility of the German movement lies. 

"It is due to this advantageous situation on the one hand, to 
the insular peculiarities of the English and to the forcible suppres- 
sion of the French movement on the other, that the German work- 
ers have for the moment been placed in the vanguard of the pro- 
letarian struggle. How long events will allow them to occupy this 
post of honour cannot be foretold. But as long as they occupy it, 
let us hope that they will fill it in a fitting manner. This demands 
redoubled efforts in every field of struggle and agitation. It is in 
particular the duty of the leaders to gain an ever clearer insight 
into all theoretical questions, to free themselves more and more 
from the influence of traditional phrases inherited from the old 
world outlook, and constantly to keep in mind that Socialism, 
since it has become a science, must be pursued as a science, i.e., 
it must be studied. The task will be to spread with increased zeal 
among the masses of the workers the ever clearer insight, thus ac- 
quired, to knit together ever more firmly the organization both 
of the party and of the trade unions. ... If the German workers 
proceed in this way, they will not be marching exactly at the 
head of the movement it is not at all in the interest of this move- 
ment that the workers of any one country should march at its 
'head but they will occupy an honourable place in the battle 
line, and they will stand armed for battle when either unexpected- 
ly grave trials or momentous events will demand from them height- 
<ened courage, heightened determination and the power to act.** 

168 V. I. LENIN 

Engels' words proved prophetic. Within a few years the German 
workers were subjected to unexpectedly grave trials in the form of the 
Ant i- Socialist Law. And the German workers really met them armed 
for battle and succeeded in emerging from them in triumph. 

The Russian proletariat will have to undergo trials immeasurably 
more grave; it will have to fight a monster compared with which the Anti- 
Socialist Law in a constitutional country seems but a pigmy. History 
has now confronted us with an immediate task which is the moat revolu- 
tionary of all the immediate tasks that confront the proletariat of any 
country. The fulfilment of this task, the destruction of the most powerful 
bulwark, not only of European but also (it may now be said) of Asiatic reac- 
tion would make the Russian proletariat the vanguard of the internation- 
al revolutionary proletariat. And we are right in counting upon acquir- 
ing this honourable title already earned by our predecessors, the revo- 
lutionaries of the 'seventies, if we succeed in inspiring our movement 
which is a thousand times broader and deeper with the same devoted 
determination and vigour. 



We have said that our movement, much wider and deeper than the 
movement of the 'seventies, must be inspired with the same devoted 
determination and energy that inspired the movement at that time. 
Indeed, no one, we think, has up to now doubted that the strength of 
the modern movement lies in the awakening of the masses (principally, 
the industrial proletariat), and that its weakness lies in the lack of con- 
sciousness and initiative among the revolutionary leaders. 

However, a most astonishing discovery has been made recently, which 
threatens to overthrow all the views that have hitherto prevailed on this 
question. This discovery was made by Rdbocheye Dyelo, which in its 
controversy with Iskra and Zarya did not confine itself to making objec- 
tions on separate points, but tried to ascribe "general disagreements" 
to a more profound cause to the "disagreement concerning the estima- 
tion of the relative importance of the spontaneous and consciously 'method- 
ical* element." Rabocheye Dyelo's indictment was that "it belittles the 
significance of the objective or the spontaneous element of development"* 
To this we say: if the controversy with Iskra and Zarya resulted in abso- 
lutely nothing more than causing Rdbocheye Dyelo to hit upon these 
"general disagreements" that single .result would give us considerable 
satisfaction, so important is this thesis and so clearly does it illuminate 

* Rdbocheye Dyelo, No. 10, September 1901, pp. 17-18. (Ralochtye Dyelo'* 


the quintessence of the present-day theoretical and political differences 
that exist among Russian Social-Democrats. 

That is why the question of the relation between consciousness and 
Spontaneity is of such enormous general interest, and that is why this 
question must be dealt with in great detail. 

A. The Beginning of the Spontaneous Revival 

In the previous chapter we pointed out how universally absorbed the 
educated youth of Russia was in the theories of Marxism in the middle 
of the 'nineties. The strikes that followed the famous St. Petersburg 
industrial war of 1896 assumed a similar wholesale character. The fact 
that these strikes spread over the whole of Russia clearly showed how 
deep the reviving popular movement was, and if we must speak of the 
"spontaneous element" then, of course, we must admit that this strike 
movement certainly bore a spontaneous character. But there is a differ- 
ence between spontaneity and spontaneity. Strikes occurred in Russia, 
in the 'seventies and in the 'sixties (and also in the first half of the nine- 
teenth century), and these strikes were accompanied by the "sponta- 
neous" destruction of machinery, etc. Compared with these "riots" 
the strikes of the 'nineties might even be described as "conscious," to 
such an extent do they mark the progress which the labour movement 
had made for that period. This shows that the "spontaneous element," 
in essence, represents nothing more nor less than consciousness in an 
embryonic form. Even the primitive riots expressed the awakening of 
consciousness to a certain extent: the workers abandoned their age-long 
faith in the permanence of the system which oppressed them. They began ... 
I shall not say to understand, but to sense the necessity for collective 
resistance, and definitely abandoned their slavish submission to their 
superiors. But all this was more in the nature of outbursts of desperation 
and vengeance than of struggle. The strikes of the 'nineties revealed far 
greater flashes of consciousness: definite demands were put forward,, 
the time to strike was carefully chosen, known cases and examples in 
other places were discussed, etc. While the riots were simply uprisings 
of the oppressed, the systematic strikes represented the class struggle 
in embryo, but only in embryo. Taken by themselves, these strikes were 
simply trade union struggles, but not yet Social-Democratic struggles* 
They testified to the awakening antagonisms between workers and employ- 
ers, but the workers were not and could not be conscious of the irrecon- 
cilable antagonism of their interests to the whole of the modern politi- 
cal and social system, i.e., it was not yet Social-Democratic consciousness. 
In this sense, the strikes of the 'nineties, in spite of the enormous pro- 
gress they represented as compared with the "riots," represented a pure* 
ly spontaneous movement. 

170 V. i. LENIN 

We said that there could not yet be Social-Democratic consciousness 
among the workers. This consciousness could only be brought to them from 
-without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclu- 
sively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, 
i.e., it may itself realize the necessity for combining in unions, for fighting 
against the employers and for striving to compel the government to pass 
necessary labour legislation, etc.* The theory of Socialism, however, 
grew out of the philosophic, historical and economic theories that were 
elaborated by the educated representatives of the propertied classes, the 
intellectuals. According to their social status, the founders of modern 
-scientific Socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bour- 
geois intelligentsia. Similarly, in Russia, the theoretical doctrine of Social- 
Democracy arose quite independently of the spontaneous growth of the 
labour movement; it arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of the devel- 
opment of ideas among the revolutionary Socialist intelligentsia. At 
the time of which we are speaking, i.e., the middle of the 'nineties, this 
doctrine not only represented the completely formulated program of the 
^Emancipation of Labour Group," but had already won the adherence of 
the majority of the revolutionary youth in Russia. 

Hence, simultaneously, we had both the spontaneous awakening of the 
masses of the workers, the awakening to conscious life and struggle, and 
the striving of the revolutionary youth, armed with the Social-Democratic 
theories, to reach the workers. In this connection it is particularly im- 
portant to state the oft-forgotten (and comparatively little-known) fact 
that the early Social-Democrats of that period zealously carried on econo- 
mic agitation (being guided in this by the really useful instructions con- 
tained in the pamphlet On Agitation that was still in manuscript), but they 
did not regard this as their sole task. On the contrary, right from the very 
beginning they advanced in general the historical tasks of Russian Social- 
Democracy in their widest scope, and particularly the task of over- 
throwing the autocracy. For example, towards the end of 1895, the 
St. Petersburg group of Social-Democrats, which founded the "League of 
Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class," prepared the first 
number of the newspaper called Rabocheye Djelo. This number was ready 
to go to press when it was seized by the gendarmes who, on the night of 
December 8, 1895, raided the house of one of the members of the group, 
Anatole Alekseyevich Vaneyev,** and so the original JRabocheye Dyelo 
was not destined to see the light of day. The leading article in this number 

* Trade unionism does not exclude "politics" altogether, as some imagine. 
Trade unions have always conducted political (but not Social-Democratic) agita- 
tion and struggle. We shall deal with the difference between trade union politics 
and Social-Democratic politics in the next chapter. 

** A. A. Vaneyev died in Eastern Siberia in 1899 from consumption, which 
lie contracted as a result of his solitary confinement in prison prior to his banish- 
ment. That is why we are able to publish the above information, the authenti- 


(which perhaps in thirty years' time somtRusskaya S tar ina* will unearth 
in the archives of the Department of Police) described the historical tasks 
of the working class in Russia, of which the achievement of political lib- 
erty is regarded as the most important. This number also contained 
an article entitled "What Are Our Cabinet Ministers Thinking Of?" 
which dealt with the breaking up of the elementary education committees 
by the police. In addition, there was some correspondence, from St. 
Petersburg, as well as from other parts of Russia (for example, a letter 
on the assault on the workers in the Yaroslavl Province). This, if we are not 
mistaken, "first attempt" of the Russian Social-Democrats of the 'nineties * 
was not a narrow, local, and certainly not an "economic" newspaper, but 
one that aimed to unite the strike movement with the revolutionary move- 
ment against the autocracy, and to win all the victims of oppression 
and political and reactionary obscurantism over to the side of Social- 
Democracy. No one in the slightest degree acquainted with the state of 
the movement at that period could doubt that such a paper would have 
been fully approved of by the workers of the capital and the revolutionary 
intelligentsia and would have had a wide circulation. The failure of the 
enterprise merely showed that the Social-Democrats of that time were 
unable to meet the immediate requirements of the time owing to their lack 
of revolutionary experience and practical training. The same thing must 
be said with regard to the St. Petersburg Sabochy Listok** and particularly 
with regard to Rabochaya Oazeta and the Manifesto of the Russian Social- 
Democratic Labour Party which was established in the spring of 1898. 
Of course, we would not dream of blaming the Social-Democrats of that 
time for this unpreparedness. But in order to obtain the benefit of the 
experience of that movement, and to draw practical lessons from it, 
we must thoroughly understand the causes and significance of this or that 
shortcoming. For that reason it is extremely important to establish the 
fact that part (perhaps even a majority) of the Social-Democrats, operat- 
ing in the period of 1895-98, quite justly considered it possible even then, 
at the very beginning of the "spontaneous" movement, to come forward 
with a most extensive program and fighting tactics.*** The lack of training 
of the majority of the revolutionaries, being quite a natural phenomenon, 

city of which we guarantee, for it comes from persons who were closely and directly 
acquainted with A. A. Vaneyev. 

* Russkaya Starina (Russian Antiquary) a monarchist historical month- 
ly .JS<J. 

** St. Petersburg Rabochy Listok (Workers 9 Sheet) a newspaper published 
in St. Petersburg by the "League of Struggle" in 1897. In all only two numbers 
were issued. Ed. 

*** "Iskra, which adopts a hostile attitude towards the activities of the So- 
cial-Democrats of the end of the 'nine ties, ignores the fact that at that time the con- 
ditions for any other kind of work except fighting for petty demands were absent," 
declare the Economists in their Letter to Russian Social- Democratic Organs. (Iskra, 
No. 12.) The facts quoted above show that the statement about "absent conditions" 

172 V. I. LENIN 

could not have aroused any particular fears. Since the tasks were properly 
defined, since the energy existed for repeated attempts to fulfil these tasks, 
the temporary failures were not such a great misfortune. Revolutionary 
experience and organizational skill are things that can be acquired provid- 
ed the desire is there to acquire these qualities, provided the shortcom- 
ings are recognised which in revolutionary activity is more than half- 
way towards removing them! 

It was a* great misfortune, however, when this consciousness began to 
grow dim (it was very active among the workers of the groups men- 
tioned), when people appeared and even Social-Democratic organs 
who were prepared to regard shortcomings as virtues, who even tried to 
invent a theoretical basis for slavish cringing before spontaneity. It is time 
to summarize this tendency, the substance of which is incorrectly and too 
narrowly described as "Economism." 

B. Bowing to Spontaneity. Rdbochaya My si 

Before dealing with the literary manifestation of this subservience, 
we shomld like to mention the following characteristic fact (communi- 
cated to us from the above-mentioned source), which throws some light 
on the circumstances in which the two future conflicting tendencies in 
Russian Social-Democracy arose and grew among the comrades working 
in St. Petersburg. In the beginning of 1897, just prior to their banish- 
ment, A. A. Vaneyev and several of his comrades* attended a private 
meeting at which the "old" and "young" members of the ''League of 
Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class" gathered. The con- 
versation centred chiefly around the question of organization, and partic- 
ularly around the "rules for a workers' benefit fund," which, in their 
final form, were published in Listok Rdbotnika (Worlcingman's Sheet), 
No. 9-10, p. 46. Sharp differences were immediately revealed between 
the "old" members ("Decembrists," as the St. Petersburg Social-De- 
mocrats jestingly called them) and several of the "young" members 

** the very opposite of the, truth. Not only at the end, but even in the middle of the 
'nineties, all the conditions existed for other work, besides fighting for petty de- 
mands, all the conditions except the sufficient training of the leaders. Instead 
of frankly admitting our, the ideologists', the leaders', lack of sufficient training 
the "Economists" try to throw the blame entirely upon the "absent conditions," 
upon the influences of material environment which determine the road from which 
it will be impossible for any ideologist to divert the movement. What is this but 
slavish cringing before spontaneity, but the fact that the "ideologists" are en- 
amoured of their own shortcomings? 

* This refers to Lenin, Krzhizhanovsky and other members of the St. Peters- 
burg "League of Struggle" who were released from prison on February 26, 1897 
And granted a few days leave prior to being banished to Siberia. They utilized 
this period of grace to confer with the "young" leaders of the League who were 
at liberty and inclining towards "Economism." Ed. 


(who subsequently actively collaborated on the Mabochaya Mysl), and 
a very heated discussion ensued. The "young" members defended the 
main principles of the rules in the form in which they were published. 
The "old" members said that this was not what was wanted, that first of 
all it was necessary to consolidate the "League of Struggle" into an organ- 
ization of revolutionaries which should have control of all the various 
workers' benefit funds, students' propaganda circles, etc. It goes without 
saying that the controversialists had no suspicion at that time that these 
disagreements were the beginning of a divergence; on the contrary, they 
regarded them as being of an isolated and casual nature. But this fact 
shows that "Economism" did not arise and spread in Russia without a fight 
on the part of the "old" Social-Democrats (the Economists of today are 
apt to forget this). And if, in the main, this struggle has not left "docu* 
mentary" traces behind it, it is solely because the membership of the 
circles working at that time underwent such constant change that no con- 
tinuity was established and, consequently, differences were not recorded 
in any documents. 

The appearance of JRabochaya Mysl brought Economism to the light 
of day, but not all at once. We must picture to ourselves concretely the 
conditions of the work and the short-lived character of the majority of 
the Russian circles (and only those who have experienced this can 
have any exact idea of it), in order to understand how much there was 
accidental in the successes and failures of the new tendency in va- 
rious towns, and why for a long time neither the advocates nor the oppo- 
nents of this "new" tendency could make up their minds indeed they 
had no opportunity to do so as to whether this was really a new tendency 
or whether it was merely an expression of the lack of training of certain 
individuals. For example, the first mimeographed copies of Kabochaya 
Mysl never reached the great majority of Social-Democrats, and we are 
able to refer to the leading article in the first number only because it 
was reproduced in an article by V. I. (Listok Raboinika, No. 9-10, 
p. 47 et sup.), who, of course, did not fail zealously but unreasonably 
to extol the new paper, which was so different from the papers and the 
schemes for papers mentioned above.* And this leading article deserves 
to be dealt with in detail because it so strongly expresses the spirit of 
Rnbochaya Mysl and Economism generally. 

After referring to the fact that the arm of the "blue-coats"** could 
never stop the progress of the labour movement, the leading article goes 
on to say: "... The virility of the labour movement is due to the fact 

* It should be stated in passing that the praise of Rabochaya Mysl in Novem- 
ber 1898, when Economism had become fully defined, especially abroad, emanated 
from that same V.I., who very soon after became one of the editors of Rabocheye 
Dyelo. And yet Rabocheyc Dyelo denied that there were two tendencies in Russian 
Social-Democracy, and continues to deny it to this day. 
**Thc Russian gendarmes wore blue uniforms. Ed. 

1<4 V. I. LENIN 

that the workers themselves are at last taking their fate into their own 
hands, and out of the hands of the leaders/' and this fundamental thesis is 
then developed in greater detail. As a matter of fact the leaders (t.e. f 
the Social-Democrats, the organizers of the League of Struggle) were, 
one might say, torn out of the hands of the workers by the police; yet 
it is made to appear that the workers were fighting against the leaders,* 
and eventually liberated themselves from their yokel Instead of calling 
upon the workers to go forward towards the consolidation of the revolu- 
tionary organization and to the expansion of political activity, they 
began to call for a retreat to the purely trade union struggle. They an- 
nounced that "the economic basis of the movement is eclipsed by the effort 
never to forget the political ideal," and that the watchword for the move- 
ment was "Fight for an economic position" [I] or what is still better, 
"The workers for the workers." It was declared that strike funds "are 
more valuable for the movement than a hundred other organizations" 
(compare this statement made in October 1897 with the controversy 
between the "Decembrists" and the young members in the beginning of 
1897), and so forth. Catchwords like: "We must concentrate, not on the 
'cream* of the workers, but on the 'average/ mass worker"; "Politics 
always obediently follows economics,"** etc., etc., became the fashion, 
and exercised an irresistible influence upon the masses of the youth who 
were attracted to the movement, but who, in the majority of cases, were 
acquainted only with legally expounded fragments of Marxism. 

Consciousness was completely overwhelmed by spontaneity the spon- 
taneity of the "Social-Democrats" who repeated Mr. V.V.'s "ideas," 
the spontaneity of those workers who were carried away by the arguments 
that a kopek added to a ruble was worth more than Socialism and polit- 
ics, and that they must "fight, knowing that they are fighting not for 
some future generation, but for themselves and their children." (Leading 
article in Rabochaya My&l, No. 1.) Phrases like these have always been the 
favourite weapons of the West European bourgeoisie, who, while hating 
Socialism, strove (like the German "Sozial-Politiker" Hirsch) to transplant 
English trade unionism to their own soil and to preach to the workers that 

* That this simile is a correct one is shown by the following characteristic 
fact. When, after the arrest of the "Decembrists," the news was spread among 
the workers on the Schliisselburg Road that the discovery and arrest were facili- 
tated by an agent-provocateur, N. N. Mikhailov, a dental surgeon, who had been 
in contact with a group associated with the "Decembrists," they were so enraged 
that they decided to kill him. 

** These quotations are taken from the leading article in the first number 
of Rabochaya Mysl already referred to. One can judge from this the degree of 
theoretical training possessed by these "V'.V.'s of Russian Social-Democracy," 
who kept repeating the crude vulgarization of "economic materialism" at a time 
when the Marxists were carrying on a literary war against the real V.V., who had 
long ago been dubbed "a past master of reactionary deeds," for holding similar 
views on the relation between politics and economics! 


the purely trade union struggle* is the struggle for themselves and for 
their children, and not the struggle for some kind of Socialism for some 
future generation. And now the "V.V.'s of Russian Social-Democracy'* 
repeat these bourgeois phrases. It is important at this point to note three 
circumstances which will be useful to us in our further analysis of contem- 
porary differences.** 

First of all, the overwhelming of consciousness by spontaneity, to which 
we referred above, also took place spontaneously. This may sound like a 
pun, but, alas, it is the bitter truth. It did not take place as a result of an 
open struggle between two diametrically opposed points of view, in which 
one gained the victory over the other; it occurred because an increasing 
number of "old" revolutionaries were "torn away" by the gendarmes and 
because increasing numbers of "young" "V.V.'s of Russian Social-Democ- 
racy" came upon the scene. Everyone, who I shall not say has par- 
ticipated in the contemporary Russian movement but has at least breathed 
its atmosphere knows perfectly well that this was so. And the reason 
why we, nevertheless, strongly urge the reader to ponder over this uni- 
versally known fact, and why we quote the facts, as an illustration, so 
to speak, about Rabocheye Dyelo as it first appeared, and about the con- 
troversy between the "old" and the "young" at the beginning of 1897 
is that certain persons are speculating on the public's (or the very youth- 
ful youths ') ignorance of these facts, and are boasting of their "democracy /* 
We shall return to this point further on. 

Secondly, in the very first literary manifestation of Economism, we 
observe the extremely curious and highly characteristic phenomenon 
for an understanding of the differences prevailing among contemporary 
Social-Democrats that the adherents of the "pure and simple" labour 
movement, the worshippers of the closest "organic" (the term used by 
Rabocheye Dyelo) contacts with the proletarian struggle, the opponents of 
the non-labour intelligentsia (notwithstanding that it is a Socialist intel- 
ligentsia) are compelled, in order to defend their positions, to resort to 
the arguments of the bourgeois "pure and simple" trade unionists. This 
shows that from the very outset, Rabochaya Mysl began unconsciously to 
carry out the program of the Credo. This shows (what the Rabocheye 
Dyelo cannot understand) that all worship of the spontaneity of the la- 
bour movement, all belittling of the role of "the conscious element," 
of the role of the party of Social-Democracy, means, quite irrespective of 

* The Germans even have a special expression: Nur-Gewerkschaftler, which 
means an advocate of the "pure and simple" trade union struggle. 

** We emphasize the word contemporary for the benefit of those who may 
pharisaically shrug their shoulders and say: it is easy enough to attack Rabochaya 
Mysl now, but is not all this ancient history? Mutato nomine de te fabula narrator 
[change the name and the tale refers to you Ed.], we reply to such contemporary 
pharisees whose complete mental subjection to Rabochaya Mysl will be proved 
further on. 


whether the belittler likes it or not, strengthening the influence, of the hour* 
<geois ideology among the workers. All those who talk about "exaggerating 
the importance of ideology,"* about exaggerating the role of the com 
scious elements,** etc., imagine that the pure and simple labour movement 
cln work out an independent ideology for itself, if only the workers "take 
their fate out of the hands of the leaders." But this is a profound mistake. 
To supplement what has been said above, we shall quote the following 
profoundly true and important utterances by Karl Kautsky on the new 
draft program of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party: *** 

"Many of our revisionist critics believe that Marx asserted that 
economic development and the class struggle create not only the 
conditions for Socialist production, but also, and directly, the 
consciousness [K.K.'s italics] of its necessity. And these critics 
advance the argument that the most highly capitalistically devel- 
oped country, England, is more remote than any other from this 
consciousness. Judging from the draft, one might assume that the 
committee which drafted the Austrian program shared this alleged 
orthodox-Marxian view which is thus refuted. In the draft pro- 
gram it is stated: 'The more capitalist development increases the 
numbers of the proletariat, the more the proletariat is compelled 
and becomes fit to fight against capitalism. The proletariat 
becomes conscious' of the possibility of and necessity for Social- 
ism. In this connection Socialist consciousness is represented as 
a necessary and direct result of the proletarian class struggle. 
But this is absolutely untrue. Of course, Socialism, as a theory, 
has its roots in modern economic relationships just as the class 
struggle of the proletariat has, and just as the latter emerges from 
the struggle against the capitalist-created poverty and misery of 
the masses. But Socialism and the class struggle arise side by side 
and not one out of the other; each arises under different conditions. 
Modern Socialist consciousness can arise only on the basis of pro- 
found scientific knowledge. Indeed, modern economic science is as 
much a condition for Socialist production as, say, modern technology 
and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no matter 
how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern social 
process. The vehicles of science are not the proletariat, but the 
bourgeois intelligentsia [K.K.'s italics]: it was in the minds of som^ 
members of this stratum that modern Socialism originated, and it 
was they who communicated it to the more intellectually devel- 

* Letter of the "Economists," in I*kra t No. 12. 
* * Babocheye Dyelo, No. 10. 

*** Neue Zeit, 1901-02, XX, I, No. 3, p. 79. The committee's draft to which 
Kautsky refers was passed by the Vienna Congress at the end of last year in a 
slightly amended form. 


oped proletarians who, in their turn, introduced it into the pro- 
letarian class struggle where conditions allow that to be done. 
Thus, Socialist consciousness is something introduced into the 
proletarian class struggle from without (von Aussen Hineingetrage- 
nes) 9 and not something that arose within it spontaneously (urnnich- 
sig). Accordingly, the old Hainfeld program quite rightly stated 
that the task of Social-Democracy is to imbue the proletariat (lit- 
erally: saturate the proletariat) with the consciousness of its position 
and the consciousness of its tasks. There would be no need for this 
if consciousness emerged of itself from the class struggle. The new 
draft copied this proposition from the old program, and attached it 
to the proposition mentioned above. But this completely broke the 
line of thought. ..." 

Since there can be no talk of an independent ideology being developed 
by the masses of the workers in the process of their movement* the only 
choice is: either the bourgeois or the Socialist ideology. There is no middle 
course (for humanity has not created a "third" ideology, and, moreover, 
in a society torn by class antagonisms there can never be a non-class or 
above-class ideology). Hence, to belittle the Socialist ideology in any 
way, to turn away from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen 
bourgeois ideology. There is a lot of talk about spontaneity, but the spon- 
taneous development of the labour movement leads to its becoming subor- 
dinated to the bourgeois ideology, leads to its developing according to the 
program of the Credo, for the spontaneous labour movement is pure and 
simple trade unionism, is Nur-Gewerkscliaftlerei, and trade unionism 
means the ideological enslavement of the workers to the bourgeoisie. Hence, 
our task, the task of Social-Democracy, is to combat spontaneity, to di- 
vert the labour movement from its spontaneous, trade unionist striving 
to go under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and to bring it under the wing 
of revolutionary Social-Democracy. The phrases employed by the authors 
of the "economic" letter in Iskra, No. 12, about the efforts of the most 
inspired ideologists not being able to divert the labour movement from the 

* This does not mean, of course, that the workers have no part in creating 
such an ideology. But they take part not as workers, but as Socialist theoreticians, 
like Proudhon and Welding-; in other words, they take part only to the extent 
that they are able, more or less, to acquire the knowledge of their age and advance 
that knowledge. And in order that work ing men may be able to do this more often, 
efforts must be made to raise the level of the consciousness of the workers generally; 
care must be taken that the workers do not confine themselves to the artificially 
restricted limits of "literature for workers" but that they study general literature 
to an increasing degree. It would be even more true to say "are not confined," 
instead of "do not confine themselves," because the workers themselves wish 
to read and do read all that is written for the intelligentsia and it is only a few 
(bad) intellectuals who believe that it is sufficient "for the workers" to be told 
a few things about factory conditions, and to repeat over and over again what 
has long been known. 


8 V. I. LENIN 

path that is determined by the interaction of the material elements and 
the material environment, are tantamount to the abandonment of Socialism, 
and if only the authors of this letter were capable of fearlessly considering 
what they say to its logical conclusion, as everyone who enters the arena 
of literary and public activity should do, they would have nothing to do 
but "fold their useless arms over their empty breasts" and . . . leave the 
field of action to the Struves and Prokopoviches who are dragging the 
labour movement "along the line of least resistance," i.e., along the line 
of bourgeois trade unionism, or to the Zubatovs who are dragging it along 
the line of clerical and gendarme "ideology." 

Recall the example of Germany. What was the historical service Las- 
salle rendered to the German labour movement? It was that he diverted 
that movement from the path of trade unionism and co-operation preached 
by the Progressives along which it had been travelling spontaneously 
(with the benign assistance of Schulze-Delilzsche and those like him). To ful- 
fil a task like that it was necessary to do something altogether different 
from indulging in talk about belittling the spontaneous element, about 
the tactics-process and about the interaction between elements and envi- 
ronment, etc. A desperate struggle against spontaneity had to be carried 
on, and only after such a struggle, extending over many years, was it 
possible to convert the working population of Berlin from a bulwark of the 
Progressive Party into one of the finest strongholds of Social-Democracy. 
This fight is not finished even now (as those who learn the history of the 
German movement from Prokopovich, and its philosophy from Struve, 
believe). Even now the German working class is, so to speak, broken up 
into a number of ideologies. A section of the workers is organized in Cath- 
olic and monarchist labour unions; another section is organized in the 
Hirsch-Duncker unions, founded by the bourgeois worshippers of English 
trade unionism, while a third section is organized in Social-Democratic 
trade unions. The last is immeasurably more numerous than the rest, but 
Social-Democracy was able to achieve this superiority, and will be able 
to maintain it, only by unswervingly fighting against all other ideologies. 

But why, the reader will ask, does the spontaneous movement, the move- 
ment along the line of least resistance, lead to the domination of the bour- 
geois ideology? For the simple reason that the bourgeois ideology is far 
older in origin than the Socialist ideology; because it is more fully devel- 
oped and because it possesses immeasurably more opportunities for being 
spread.* And the younger the Socialist movement is in any given coun- 
try, the more vigorously must it fight against all attempts to 
entrench non-Socialist ideology, and the more strongly must it warn the 

* It is often said: the working class spontaneously gravitates towards Social- 
ism. This is perfectly true in the sense that Socialist theory defines the causes of 
the misery of the working class more profoundly and more correctly than any 
other theory, and for that reason the workers are able to appreciate it so easily, 


workers against those bad counsellors who shout against "exaggerating 
the conscious elements," etc. The authors of the economic letter, in unison 
with Rabocheye Dyelo, declaim against the intolerance that is charac- 
teristic of the infancy of the movement. To this we reply: yes, our movement 
is indeed in its infancy, and in order that it may grow up the more quickly, 
it must become infected with intolerance against all those who retard its 
growth by subservience to spontaneity. Nothing is so ridiculous and harm- 
ful as pretending that we are "old hands" who have long ago experienced 
all the decisive episodes of the struggle! 

Thirdly, the first number of Rabochaya Mysl shows that the term "Econ- 
omism" (which, of course, we do not propose to abandon because this ap- 
pellation has more or less established itself) does not adequately convey 
the real character of the new tendency. Rabochaya Mysl does not altogether 
repudiate the political struggle: the rules for a workers' benefit fund pub- 
lished in Rabochaya Mysl, No. 1, contains a reference to fighting against the 
government. Rabochaya Mysl believes, however, that "politics always 
obediently follows economics" (and Rabocheye Dyelo gives a variation of 
this thesis when, in its program, it asserts that "in Russia more than in 
any other country, the economic struggle is inseparable from the political 
struggle"). If by politics is meant Social- Democratic politics, then the 
postulates advanced by Rabochaya Mysl and Rabocheye Dyelo are ab- 
solutely wrong. The economic struggle of the workers is very often 
connected (although not inseparably) with bourgeois politics, clerical 
politics, etc., as we have already seen. If by politics is meant trade union 
politics, i.e., the common striving of all workers to secure from the govern- 
ment measures for the alleviation of the distress characteristic of 
their position, but which do not abolish that position, i.e., which do 
not remove the subjection of labour to capital, then Rabocheye Dyelo y s postu- 
late is correct. That striving indeed is common to the British trade union sts 
who are hostile to Socialism, to the Catholic workers, to the "Zubatov" 
workers, etc. There are politics and politics. Thus, we see that 
Rabochaya Mysl does not so much deny the political struggle as bow 
to its spontaneity, to its lack of consciousness. While fully recognizing the 
political struggle (it would be more correct to say the political desires and 
demands of the workers), which arises spontaneously from the labour 
movement itself, it absolutely refuses independently to work out a specifi- 
cally Social- Democratic policy corresponding to the general tasks of 
Socialism and to contemporary conditions in Russia. Further on we shall 
show that Rabocheye Dyelo commits the same error. 

provided, however, that this theory does not step aside for spontaneity and provided 
it subordinates spontaneity to itself. Usually this is taken for granted, but Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo forgets or distorts this obvious thing. The working class spontaneously 
gravitates towards Socialism, but the more widespread (and continuously revived 
in the most diverse forms) bourgeois ideology spontaneously imposes itself upon 
the working class still more. 


180 V. I. LENIN 

C. The "Self-Emancipation Group" * and BABOCHEYE DYELO 

We -have dealt at such length with the little-known and now almost 
forgotten leading article in the first number of Rabochaya Mysl because it 
was the first and most striking expression of that general stream of thought 
which afterwards emerged into the light of day in innumerable stream- 
lets. V. I. #ras absolutely right when, in praising the first number and 
the leading article of Rabochaya Mysl, he said that it was written in a 
"sharp and provocative" style. (Listok Rabotnika, No. 9-10, p. 49.) 
Every man with convictions who thinks he has something new to say 
writes "provocatively" and expresses his views strongly. Only those who are 
accustomed to sitting between two stools lack "provocativeness"; only 
such people are able to praise the provocativeness of Rabochaya Myal 
one day, and attack the "provocative polemics" of its opponents the 

We shall not dwell on the Special Supplement to Rabochaya Mysl 
(further on we shall have occasion, on a number of points, to refer to this 
work, which expresses the ideas of the Economists more consistently than 
any other) but shall briefly mention the Manifesto of the Self-Emanci- 
pation of the Workers Group. (March 1899, reprinted in the London Naka- 
nunye [On the Eve] 9 No. 7, June 1899.) The authors of this manifesto quite 
rightly say that "the workers of Russia are only just awakening, are only 
just looking around, and instinctively clutch a' the jirs* mea^s of sirug- 
glc tha come fo their ha <ds." But from this correct observation, they draw 
the same incorrect conclusion that is drawn by Rabochaya Mysl, forgetting 
that instinct is that unconsciousness (spontaneity) to the aid of which 
Socialists must come; that the "first means of struggle that comes to their 
hands" will always be, in modern society, the trade union means of strug- 
gle, and the "first" ideology "that comes to hand" will be the bourgeois 
(trade union) ideology. Similarly, these authors do not "repudiate" poli- 
tics, they merely say (merely!), repeating what was said by Mr. V.V., that 
politics is the superstructure, and therefore, "political agitation must be 
the .superstructure to the agitation carried on in favour of the economic 
struggle; it must arise on the basis of this struggle and follow in its wake." 

As for Rabocheye Dyelo, it commenced its activity by "a defence" of 
the Economists. It uttered a downright falsehood in its very first number 
(No. 1, pp. 141-42) when it stated that "we do not know which young 
comrades Axelrod referred to" in his well-known pamphlet,** in which he 
uttered a warning to the Economists. In the controversy that flared up 
with Axelrod and Plekhanov over this falsehood, Rabocheye Dyelo was 

* The "Self -Emancipation of the Working Class Group" a small, practically 
un influential organization of an "Economist" trend which originated in St. Pe- 
tersburg at the end of 1898. Ed. 

** The Contemporary Tasks and Tactics of the Russian Social- Democrat* > 
Geneva, 1898. Two letters written to Rabochaya Qazeta in 1897. 


compelled to admit that "by expressing ignorance, it desired to defend 
all the younger Social-Democrats abroad from this unjust accusation" 
(Axelrod accused the Economists of having a restricted outlook). As a 
matter of fact this accusation was absolutely just, and Rabocheye Dyelo 
knows perfectly well that, among others, it applied to V.I., a member of 
its editorial staff. We shall observe in passing that in this controversy 
Axelrod was absolutely right and Rabocheye Dyelo was absolutely wrong in 
their respective interpretations of my pamphlet The Tasks of Russian 
Social- Democrats. That pamphlet was written in 1897, before the appear- 
ance of Babochaya Mysl when I thought, and rightly thought, that the 
original tendency of the St. Petersburg League of Struggle, which I described 
above, was the predominant one. At all events, that tendency was the pre- 
dominant one until the middle of 1898. Consequently, in its attempt to 
refute the existence and dangers of Economism, Rabocheye Dyelo had no 
right whatever to refer to a pamphlet which expressed views that were 
squeezed out by "Economist" views in St. Petersburg in 1897-98. 

But Rabocheye Dyelo not only "defended" the Economists it itself 
constantly fell into fundamental Economist errors. The cause of these 
errors is to be found in the ambiguity of the interpretation given to the 
following thesis in Rabocheye Dyelo's program: "We consider that the 
most important phenomenon of Russian life, the one that will mostly 
determine the tasks [our italics] and the character of the literary activity 
of the Union, is the mass labour movement [Rabocheye Dyelo 1 s italics] 
that has arisen in recent years." That the mass movement is a most impor- 
tant phenomenon is a fact about which there can be no dispute. But the 
crux of the question is, what is the meaning of the phrase: the mass labour 
movement will "determine the tasks"? It may be interpreted in one of 
two ways. Either it means worshipping the spontaneity of this movement, 
i.e., reducing the role of Social-Democracy to mere subservience to the 
labour movement as such (the interpretation given to it by Rabochaya 
Mysl, the "Self- Emancipation Group" and other Economists); or it may 
mean that the mass movement puts before us new, theoretical, political 
and organizational tasks, far more complicated than those that might have 
satisfied us in the period before the rise of the mass movement. Rabocheye 
Dyelo inclined and still inclines towards the first interpretation, for 
it said nothing definitely about new tasks, but argued all the time as if 
the "mass movement" relieved us of the necessity of clearly appreciating and 
fulfilling the tasks it sets before us. We need only point out that Raboch- 
eye Dyelo considered that it was impossible to set the overthrow of the 
autocracy as the first task of the mass labour movement, and that it de- 
graded this task (ostensibly in the interests of the mass movement) to the 
struggle for immediate political demands. (Reply, p. 25.) 

We shall pass over the article by B. Krichevsky, the editor of 
Rabocheye Dyelo, entitled "The Economic and Political Struggle in the 
Russian Movement," published in No. 7 of that paper, in which these very 

182 V. I. LENIN 

mistakes* are repeated, and take up Kabocheye Dyelo, No. 10. We shall 
not, of course, enter in detail into the various objections raised by B.Kri- 
chevsky and Martynov against Zarya and Iskra. What interests us here 
solely is the theoretical position taken up by Rdbocheye Dyelo, No. 10. 
For example, we shall not examine the literary curiosity that Babocheye 
Dyelo saw a "diametrical contradiction" between the proposition: 

"Social-Democracy does not tie its hands, it does not restrict its 
activities to some preconceived plan or method of political struggle; 
it recognizes all methods of struggle, as long as they correspond 
to the forces at the disposal of the Party. . . ." (Iskra, No.l.**) 

and the proposition: 

"without a strong organization, tested in the political struggle 
carried on under all circumstances and in all periods, there can be 
no talk of a systematic plan of activity, enlightened by firm prin- 
ciples and unswervingly carried out, which alone is worthy of being 
called tactics." (Iskra, No. 4.***) 

To confuse the recognition, in principle, of all means of struggle, of 
all plans and methods, as long as they are expedient with the necessity 
at a given political moment for being guided by a strictly adhered-to plan, 
if we are to talk of tactics, is tantamount to confusing the recognition 
by medical science of all kinds of treatment of diseases with the necessity 
for adopting a certain definite method of treatment for a given disease. 

* The "stages theory," or the theory of "timid zigzags" in the political struggle, 
is expressed in this article approximately in the following way: "Political demands, 
which in their character are common to the whole of Russia, should, however, at 
first [this was written in August 1900!] correspond to the experience gained by the 
given stratum [sic\] of workers in the economic struggle. Only [!] on the basis 
of this experience can and should political agitation be taken up," etc. (P. 11.) 
On page 4, the author, protesting against what he regards as the absolutely un- 
founded charge of Economist heresy, pathetically exclaims: "What Social-Democrat 
does not know that according to the theories of Marx and Engels the economic 
interests of various classes are the decisive factors in history, and, consequently , 
that the proletariat's struggle for the defence of its economic interests must be 
of first-rate importance in its class development and struggle for emancipation?" 
(Our italics.) The word "consequently" is absolutely out of place. The fact that 
economic interests are a decisive factor does not in the least imply that the economic 
(i.e., trade union) struggle must be the main factor, for the essential and "deci- 
sive* interests of classes can be satisfied only by radical political changes in general. 
In particular the fundamental economic interests of the proletariat can be satis- 
fied only by a political revolution that will substitute the dictatorship of the 
proletariat for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. B. Krichevsky repeats the 
arguments of the "V.V.'s of Russian Social-Democracy" (i.e., politics follow 
economics, etc.) and the Bernsteinians of German Social-Democracy (for example 
by arguments like these, Woltmann tried to prove that the workers must first 
of all acquire "economic power" before they can think about political revolution). 
See Lenin, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Vol. II, p. 14 "The Urgent Tasks 
of Our Movement." Ed. 

*** Ibid., p. 16 "Where To Begin?" Ed. 


The point is, however, that Rabocheye Dyelo, while suffering from a 
disease which we have called worshipping spontaneity, refuses to recog- 
nize any "method of treatment" for that disease. Hence, it made the 
remarkable discovery that a "tactics-as-a-plan contradicts the funda- 
mental spirit of Marxism" (No. 10, p. 18), that tactics are "a process of 
growth of Party tasks, which grow with the Party." (P. 11, Rabocheye Dyelo's 
italics.) The latter remark has every chance of becoming a celebrated 
maxim, a permanent monument to the "tendency" of Rabocheye Dyelo. 
To the question: whither? a leading organ replies: movement is a process 
altering the distance between the starting point and the subsequent stages 
of the movement. This matchless example of profundity is not merely a 
literary curiosity (if it were, it would not be worth dealing with at 
length), but theprogramof the whole tendency, i.e., the program which R. M. 
(in the Special Supplement to Rabochaya Mysl) expressed in the words: 
"That struggle is desirable which is possible, and the struggle which is pos- 
sible is the one that is going on at the given moment." It is the tendency 
of unbounded opportunism, which passively adapts itself to spontaneity. 
A "tactics-as-a-plan contradicts the fundamental spirit of Marxism." 
But this is a libel on Marxism; it is like the caricature of it that was pre- 
sented to us by the Narodniks in their fight against us. It means putting 
restraint on the initiative and energy of class-conscious fighters, whereas 
Marxism, on the contrary, gives a gigantic impetus to the initiative and 
energy of Social-Democrats, opens up for them the widest perspectives 
and, if one may so express it, places at their disposal the mighty force 
of millions and millions of workers "spontaneously" rising for the strug- 
gle. The whole history of international Social -Democracy seethes with 
plans advanced first by one and then by another political leader; some 
confirming the far-sightedness and correct political and organizational 
insight of their authors and others revealing their shortsightedness and 
lack of political judgment. At the time when Germany was at one of the 
most important turning points in its history, the time of the establish- 
ment of the Empire, the opening of the Reichstag and the granting 
of universal suffrage, Liebknecht had one plan for Social-Democratic 
policy and work and Schweitzer had another. When the Anti-Socialist 
Law came down on the heads of the German Socialists, Most and Hassel- 
mann had one plan, that is, to call for violence and terror; Hochberg, 
Schramm and (partly) Bernstein had another, which they began to preach 
to the Social-Democrats, somewhat as follows: they themselves had pro- 
voked the passing of the Anti-Socialist Law by being unreasonably bit- 
ter and revolutionary, and must now show that they deserve pardon by 
exemplary conduct. There was yet a third plan proposed by those who 
paved the way for and carried out the publication of an illegal organ. 
It is easy, of course, in retrospect, many years after the fight over the 
selection of the path to be followed has ended, and after history has pro- 
nounced its verdict as to the expediency of the path selected, to utter 

184 V. I. LENIN 

profound maxims about the growth of Party tasks that grow with the 
Party. But at a time of confusion,* when the Russian "critics" and Eco- 
nomists degrade Social-Democracy to the level of trade unionism, and 
when the terrorists are strongly advocating the adoption of a " tactics- as- a- 
plan" that repeats the old mistakes, at such a time, to confine oneself 
to such profundities, means simply issuing oneself a "certificate of 
mental poverty." At a time when many Russian Social -Democrats suffer 
from lack of initiative and energy, from a lack of "scope of political pro- 
paganda, agitation and organization,"** a lack of "plans" for a broader 
organization of revolutionary work, at such a time, to say: a "tactics- 
as-a-plan contradicts the fundamental spirit of Marxism," not only 
means theoretically vulgarizing Marxism, also practically dragging 
the Party backward. Rabocheye Dyelo goes on sermonizing: 

"The revolutionary Social-Democrat is only confronted by the 
task of accelerating objective development by his conscious work; 
it is not his task to obviate it or substitute his own subjective plans 
for this development. Iskra knows all this in theory. But the 
enormous importance which Marxism quite justly attaches to con- 
scious revolutionary work causes it in practice, owing to its doctri- 
naire view of tactics, to belittle the significance of the objective or 
the spontaneous element of development." (P. 18.) 
Another example of the extraordinary theoretical confusion worthy 
of Mr. V.V. and that fraternity. We would ask our philosopher: how 
may a deviser of subjective plans "belittle" objective development? 
Obviously by losing sight of the fact that this objective development 
creates or strengthens, destroys or weakens certain classes, strata, groups, 
nations, groups of nations, etc., and in this way creates a definite inter- 
national political grouping of forces, determining the position of revo- 
lutionary parties, etc. If the deviser of plans did that, his mistake would 
not be that he belittled the spontaneous element, but that he belittled 
the conscious element , for he would then show that he lacked the "conscious- 
ness" that would enable him properly to understand objective develop- 
ment. Hence, the very talk about "estimating the relative significance" 
(Rabocheye Dyelo's italics) of spontaneity and consciousness sufficiently 
reveals a complete lack of "consciousness." If certain "spontaneous ele- 
ments of development" can be grasped at all by human understanding, 
then an incorrect estimation of them would be tantamount to "belittling 
the conscious element." But if they cannot be grasped, then we cannot 
be aware of them, and therefore cannot speak of them. What is B. Kri- 

* Sin Jahr der Verwirrung [A Year of Confusion] is the title Mehring gave 
to the chapter of his History of German Social- Democracy in which he describes 
the hesitancy and lack of determination displayed at first by the Socialists in 
selecting the "tactics-as-a-plan" for the new situation. 

* Leading article in Iskra, No. 1, "The Urgent Tasks of Our Movement," 
see Lenin, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Vol. II, p. 12.- Ed. 


chevsky arguing about then? If he thinks that lakra's "subjective plans** 
are erroneous (as he in fact declares them to be), then he ought to show 
what objective facts arc ignored in these plans, and then charge Iskra 
with a lack of consciousness for ignoring them, with, to use his own words, 
"belittling the conscious element." If, however, while being displeased 
with subjective plans he can bring forward no other argument than that 
of "belittling the spontaneous element" (!!) he merely shows: 1) that he 
theoretically understands Marxism A la Kareyevs and Mikhailovskys, 
who have been sufficiently ridiculed by Beltov,* and 2) that, practi- 
cally, he is quite pleased with the "spontaneous elements of development" 
that have drawn our "legal Marxists" towards Bernsteinism and our 
Social-Democrats towards Economism, and that he is full of wrath 
against those who have determined at all costs to divert Russian Social- 
Democracy from the path of "spontaneous n development. 

Rabocheye Dyelo accuses Iskra and Zarya of "setting up their program 
against the movement, like a spirit hovering over the formless chaos." 
(P. 29.) But what else is the function of Social-Democracy if not to be 
a "spirit," not only hovering over the spontaneous movement, but also 
raising the movement to the level of "its program"? Surely, it is not its 
function to drag at the tail of the movement: at best, this would be of no 
service to the movement; at the worst, it would be very, very harmful. 
Rabocheye Dyelo, however, not only follows this "tactics-as-a-process," 
but elevates it to a principle, so that it would be more correct to describe 
its tendency not as opportunism, but as Ichvostism (from the wordMvostf**). 
And it must be admitted that those who have determined always to follow 
behind the movement like a tail are absolutely and forever ensured against 
"belittling the spontaneous element of development." 

* * * 

And so, we have become convinced that the fundamental error commit- 
ted by the "new tendency" in Russian Social-Democracy lies in its sub- 
servience to spontaneity, and its failure to understand that the sponta- 
neity of the masses demands a mass of consciousness from us Social- 
Democrats. The greater the spontaneous upsurge of the masses, the more 
widespread the movement becomes, so much the more rapidly grows the 
demand for greater consciousness in the theoretical, political and organi- 
zational work of Social-Democracy. 

The spontaneous upsurge of the masses in Russia proceeded (and con- 
tinues) with such rapidity that the young untrained Social-Democrats 
proved unfitted for the gigantic tasks that confronted them. This lack of 
training is our common misfortune, the misfortune of all Russian Social- 
Democrats. The upsurge of the masses proceeded and spread uninterrupt- 

* The pseudonym of Plckhanov. El. 
** Khvost the Russian for tail. Ed. 

186 V. I. LENIN 

edly and continuously; it not only continued in the places it began, but 
spread to new localities and to new strata of the population (influenced 
by the labour movement, the ferment among the students, the intellectu- 
als generally and even among the peasantry revived). Revolutionaries, 
however, lagged behind this upsurge of the masses both in their "theories" 
and in their practical activity; they failed to establish an uninterrupted 
organization having continuity with the past, and capable of leading the 
whole movement. 

In Chapter I, we proved that Rabocheye Dyelo degraded our theoretical 
tasks and that it "spontaneously" repeated the fashionable catchword 
"freedom of criticism": that those who repeated this catchword lacked 
the "consciousness" to understand that the positions of the opportunist 
"critics" and the revolutionaries, in Germany and in Russia, are 
diametrically opposed to each other. 

In the following chapters, we shall show how this worship of sponta- 
neity found expression in the sphere of the political tasks and the organ- 
izational work of Social-Democracy. 


We shall start off again by praising Rabocheye Dyelo. Martynov gave 
his article in No. 10 of Rabocheye Dyelo, on his differences with Iskra, 
the title "Exposure Literature and the Proletarian Struggle." He for- 
mulated the substance of these differences as follows: 

"We cannot confine ourselves entirely to exposing the system 
that stands in its [the labour party's] path of development. We must 
also respond to the immediate and current interests of the prole- 
tariat." ". . . Iskra ... is in fact the organ of revolutionary oppo- 
sition that exposes the state of affairs in our country, particularly 
the political state of affairs. . . . We, however, work and shall con- 
tinue to work for the cause of labour in close organic contact with 
the proletarian struggle." (P. 63.) 

One cannot help being grateful to Martynov for this formula. It is 
of outstanding general interest because substantially it embraces not only 
our disagreements with Rabocheye Dyelo, but the general disagreement 
between ourselves and the "Economists" concerning the political struggle. 
We have already shown that the "Economists" do not altogether repudiate 
"politics," but that they are constantly deviating from the Social-Demo- 
cratic conception of politics to the trade unionist conception. Martynov 
deviates in exactly the same way, and we agree, therefore, to take his 
views as an example of Economist error on this question. As we shall 

WHAT 13 TO BE DONE? 187 

endeavour to prove, neither the authors of the Special Supplement to 
Rabochaya Mysl> nor the authors of the manifesto issued by the "Self- 
Emancipation Group," nor the authors of the Economist letter published 
in Iskra, No. 12, will have any right to complain against this choice. 

A. Political Agitation and Its Restriction by the Economists 

Everyone knows that the spread and consolidation of the economic* 
struggle of the Russian workers proceeded simultaneously with the crea- 
tion of a "literature" exposing economic conditions, i.e., factory and 
industrial conditions. These "leaflets" were devoted mainly to the expo- 
sure of factory conditions, and very soon a passion for exposures was 
roused among the workers. As soon as the workers realized that the So- 
cial-Democratic circles desired to and could supply them with a new 
kind of leaflet that told the whole truth about their poverty-stricken 
lives, about their excessive toil and their lack of rights, correspondence 
began to pour in from the factories and workshops. This "exposure- 
literature" created a huge sensation not only in the particular factory 
dealt with, the conditions of which were exposed in a given leaflet, but 
in all the factories to which news had spread about the facts exposed. 
And as the poverty and want among the workers in the various enter- 
prises and in the various trades are pretty much the same, the "truth about 
the life of the workers" roused the admiration of all. Even among the. 
most backward workers, a veritable passion was roused to "go into print" 
a noble passion for this rudimentary form of war against the whole of 
the modern social system which is based upon robbery and oppression. 
And in the overwhelming majority of cases these "leaflets" were in truth 
a declaration of war, because the exposures had a terrifically rousing 
effect upon the workers; it stimulated them to put forward common de- 
mands for the removal of the most glaring evils and roused in them a readi- 
ness to support these demands with strikes. Finally, the employers 
themselves were compelled to recognize the significance of these leaflets 
as a declaration of war, so much so that in a large number of cases they 
did not even wait for the outbreak of hostilities. As is always the case, 
the mere publication of these exposures made them effective, and they 
acquired the significance of a strong moral force. On more than one occa- 
sion, the mere appearance of a leaflet proved sufficient to secure the sat- 
isfaction of all or part of the demands put forward. In a word, economic 
(factory) exposures have been and are an important lever in the economic 

* In order to avoid misunderstanding we deem it necessary to state that 
by economic struggle, here and throughout this pamphlet, we mean (in accordance 
with the meaning othe term as it has become accepted among us) the "practical 
economic struggle" which Engels, in the passage quoted above, described as**resist- 
ance to capitalists," and which in free countries is known as the trade union 

188 V. I. LENIN 

struggle and they will continue to be such as long as capitalism, which 
creates the need for the workers to defend themselves, exists. Even in 
the most advanced countries of Europe today, the exposure of the evils in 
some backward trade, or in some forgotten branch of domestic industry, 
serves as a starting point for the awakening of class consciousness, for the 
beginning of a trade union struggle, and for the spread of Socialism. 111 

Recently^ the overwhelming majority of Russian Social-Democrats 
were almost wholly engaged in this work of organizing the exposure of 
factory conditions. It is sufficient to refer to the columns of jRabochaya 
Mysl to judge to what extent they were engaged in it. So much so, indeed, 
that they lost sight of the fact that this, taken by itself 9 is not in essence 
Social-Democratic work, but merely trade union work. As a matter of 
fact, these exposures merely dealt with the relations between the workers 
in a given trade and their immediate employers, and all that they achieved 
was that the vendors of labour power learned to sell their "commod- 
ity" on better terms and to fight the purchasers of labour power 
over a purely commercial deal. These exposures could have served (if pro- 
perly utilized by an organization of revolutionaries) as a beginning and a 
constituent part of Social-Democratic activity, but they could also have 
led (and given a worshipful attitude towards spontaneity was bound to 
lead) to a "pure and simple" trade union struggle and to a non-Social- 
Dcmocratic labour movement. Social-Democrats lead the struggle of 
the working class not only for better terms for the sale of labour power, 
but also for the abolition of the social system which compels the pro- 
pertyless to sell themselves to the rich. Social-Democracy represents the 
working class, not in relation to a given group of employers, but in its 
relation to all classes in modern society, to the state as an organized polit- 
ical force. Hence, it not only follows that Social-Democrats must not 
confine themselves entirely to the economic struggle; they must not even 
allow the organization of economic exposures to become the predominant 
part of their activities. We must actively take up the political education 
of the working class and the development of its political consciousness. 

* In the present chapter, we deal only with the political struggle, whether 
it is to be understood in its broader or narrower sense. Therefore, we refer only 
in passing, merely to point out a curiosity, to the accusation that Rabocheye 
Dyelo hurls against Iskra of being "too restrained" in regard to the economic 
struggle. (Two Congresses, p. 27, rehashed by Martynov in his pamphlet Social- 
Democracy and the Working Class.) If those who make this accusation counted 
up in terms of hundredweights or reams, as they are so fond of doing, what has 
been said about the economic struggle in the industrial column of Iskra in one 
year's issue, and compared this with the industrial columns of Rabocheye Dyelo 
and Rabochaya Mysl taken together, they would see that they lag very much 
behind even in this respect. Apparently, the consciousness of this simple 
truth compels them to resort to arguments which clearly reveal their confusion. 
"I*1cra 9 " they write, "willy-nilly [I] is compelled [!] to take note of the 
Imperative demands of life and to publish at least [!!] correspondence about the 
labour movement." (Two Congresses, p.27.) Now this is really a crushing argument! 


Now, after Zarya and Iskra have made the first attack upon Economism 
"all are agreed" on this (although some agreed only nominally, as 
we shall soon prove). 

The question now arises: what must political education consist of? 
Is it sufficient to confine oneself to the propaganda of working-class hos- 
tility to the autocracy? Of course not. It is not enough to explain to the 
workers that they are politically oppressed (no more than it was to explain 
to them that their interests were antagonistic to the interests of the employ- 
ers). Advantage must be taken of every concrete example of this oppres- 
sion for the purpose of agitation (in the same way that we began to use 
concrete examples of economic oppression for the purpose of agitation). 
And inasmuch as political oppression affects all sorts of classes in society, 
inasmuch as it manifests itself in various spheres of life and activity, 
industrial, civic, personal, family, religious, scientific, etc., etc., is 
it not evident that we shall not be fulfilling our task of developing the 
political consciousness of the workers if we do not undertake the organiza- 
tion of the political exposure of the autocracy in all its aspects? In order 
to carry on agitation around concrete examples of oppression, these exam- 
ples must be exposed (just as it was necessary to expose factory evils in 
order to carry on economic agitation). 

One would think that this was clear enough. It turns out, however, 
that "all" are agreed that it is necessary to develop political conscious- 
ness, in all its aspects , only in words. It turns out that Rabocheye Dyelo, 
for example, has not only failed to take up the task of organizing (or to 
make a start in organizing) all-sided political exposure, but is even trying 
to drag Iskra, which has undertaken this task, away from it. Listen to 
this: "The political struggle of the working class is merely [it is precisely 
not "merely"] the most developed, widest and most effective form of eco- 
nomic struggle." (Program of Rabocheye Dyelo, published in No. 1, p. 3.) 
"The Social-Democrats are now confronted with the task of, as far as possi- 
ble, lending the economic struggle itself a political character." (Martynov, 
Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 42.) "The economic struggle is the most wide- 
ly applicable method of drawing the masses into active political strug- 
gle." (Resolution passed by the Congress of the Union and "amendments" 
thereto, Two Congresses, pp. 11 and 17.) As the reader will observe, all 
these postulates permeate Rabocheye Dyelo, from its very first number 
to the latest "Instructions to the Editors," and all of them evidently 
express a single view regarding political agitation and the political 
struggle. Examine this view from the standpoint of the opinion prevail- 
ing among all Economists, that political agitation must follow economic 
agitation. Is it true that, in general, 111 the economic struggle "is the most 

* We say "in general," because Rabocheye Dyelo speaks of general principles 
and of the general tasks of the whole Party. Undoubtedly, cases occur in practice, 
when politics must follow economics, but only Economists can say a thing like 
that in a resolution that was intended to apply to the whole of Russia. Cases do 

190 V. I. LENIN 

widely applicable method" of drawing the masses into the political 
struggle? It is absolutely untrue. All and sundry manifestations of police 
tyranny and autocratic outrage, in addition to the evils connected with 
the economic struggle, are equally "widely applicable" as a means of 
"drawing in" the masses. The tyranny of the Zemsky Nachalniks, the 
flogging of the peasantry, the corruption of the officials, the conduct 
of the police towards the "common people" in the cities, the fight against 
the famine-stricken and the suppression of the popular striving towards 
enlightenment and knowledge, the extortion of taxes, the persecution 
of the religious sects, the harsh discipline in the army, the militarist 
conduct towards the students and the liberal intelligentsia all these and 
a thousand other similar manifestations of tyranny, though not directly 
connected with the "economic" struggle, do they, in general, represent 
a less "widely applicable" method and subject for political agitation 
and for drawing the masses into the political struggle? The very opposite 
is the case. Of all the innumerable cases in which the workers suffer 
(either personally or those closely associated with them) from tyranny, 
violence and lack of rights, undoubtedly only a relatively few represent 
cases of police tyranny in the economic struggle as such. Why then should 
we, beforehand, restrict the scope of political agitation by declaring only 
one of the methods to be "the most widely applicable," when Social- 
Democrats have other, generally speaking, no less "widely applicable" 

The Union attaches significance to the fact that it replaced the phrase 
"most widely applicable method" by the phrase "a better method," 
contained in one of the resolutions of the Fourth Congress of the Jewish 
Labour League (Bund). We confess that we find it difficult to say which 
of these resolutions is the better one. In our opinion both are "worse" 
Both the Union and the Bund fall into the error (partly, perhaps, uncon- 
sciously, owing to the influence of tradition) of giving an economic, trade 
unionist interpretation to politics. The fact that this error is expressed 
either by the word "better" or by the words "most widely applicable" 
makes no material difference whatever. If the Union had said that "po- 
litical agitation on an economic basis" is the most widely applied (and 
not "applicable") method it would have been right in regard to a certain 
period in the development of our Social-Democratic movement. It would 
have been right in regard to the Economists and to many (if not the ma- 
jority) of the practical workers of 1898-1901 who applied the method of 
political agitation (to the extent that they applied it at all!) almost exclu- 

occur when it is possible "right from the beginning" to carry on political agitation 
"exclusively on an economic basis"; and yet Rabocheye Dyelo went so far as to 
say that "there is no need for this whatever." (Two Congresses, p. 11.) In the next 
chapter, we shall show that the tactics of the "politicians" and revolutionaries 
not only do not ignore the trade union tasks of Social-Democracy, but that, on 
the contrary, they alone can secure the consistent fulfilment of these tasks. 


aively on an economic basis. Political agitation on such lines was recognized 
and, as we have seen, even recommended by Sabochaya Mysl and by the 
"Self-Emancipation Group!" Sabocheye Dyelo should have strongly con- 
demned the fact that useful economic agitation was accompanied by the 
harmful restriction of the political struggle, but instead of that, it de- 
clares the method most widely applied (by the Economists) to be the most 
widely applicablel 

What real concrete meaning doesMartynov attach to the words "lending 
the economic struggle itself a political character," in presenting the tasks 
of Social-Democracy? The economic struggle is the collective struggle 
of the workers against their employers for better terms in the saU of 
their labour power, for better conditions of life and labour. This struggle 
is necessarily a struggle according to trade, because conditions of labour 
differ very much in different trades, and, consequently, the fight to im- 
prove these conditions can only be conducted in respect of each trade 
(trade unions in the western countries, temporary trade associations and 
leaflets in Russia, etc.). Lending "the economic struggle itself a politi- 
cal character" means, therefore, striving to secure satisfaction for these 
trade demands, the improvement of conditions of labour in each sep- 
arate trade by means of "legislative and administrative measures" 
(as Martynov expresses it on the next page of his article, p. 43). This is 
exactly what the trade unions do and always have done. Read the works 
of the thoroughly scientific (and "thoroughly" opportunist) Mr. and Mrs. 
Webb and you will find that the British trade unions long ago recognized 
and have long carried out, the task of "lending the economic struggle it- 
self a political character"; they have long been fighting for the right to 
strike, for the removal of all legal hindrances to the co-operative and trade 
union movement, for laws protecting women and children, for the im- 
provement of conditions of labour by means of health and factory legis- 
lation, etc. 

Thus, the pompous phrase "lending the economic struggle itself a 
political character," which sounds so "terrifically" profound and revolu- 
tionary, serves as a screen to conceal what is in fact the traditional striv- 
ing to degrade Social-Democratic politics to the level of trade union 
politics! On the pretext of rectifying Iskra's one-sidedness, which, 
it is alleged, placed "the revolutionizing of dogma higher than the revo- 
lutionizing of life,"* we are presented with the struggle for economic 
reform as if it were something entirely new. As a matter of fact, the phrase 
"lending the economic struggle itself a political character" means nothing 

* Rabochtijc Dyclo t No. 10, p. 60. This is the Martynov variation of the appli- 
cation to the present chaotic state of our movement of the thesis: "Every step 
of real movement is more important than a dozen programs," to which we have 
already referred above. As a matter of fact, this is merely a translation into Rus- 
sian of the notorious Bcrnstcinian phrase: "The movement is everything, the 
ultimate aim is nothing." 

132 V. I. LENIN 

more than the struggle for economic reforms. And Martynov himseli 
might have come to this simple conclusion had he only pondered over the 
significance of his own words. 

"Our Party," he says, turning his heaviest guns against Iskra, 
"could and should have presented concrete demands to the govern- 
ment for legislative and administrative measures against economic 
cxptoitation, for the relief of unemployment, for the relief of the 
famine-stricken, etc." (Rabocheye Dyelo y No. 10, pp. 42-43.) 

Concrete demands for measures does not this mean demands for 
social reforms? And again we ask the impartial reader, do we slander the 
Rabocheye Dyelo-ites (may I be forgiven for this clumsy expression!), 
when we declare them to be concealed Bernsteinites for advancing their 
thesis about the necessity of fighting for economic reforms as their point 
of disagreement with Iskra? 

Revolutionary Social-Democracy always included, and now includes, 
the fight for reforms in its activities. But it utilizes "economic" agitation 
for the purpose of presenting to the government, not only demands 
for all sorts of measures, but also (and primarily) the demand that it cease 
to be an autocratic government. Moreover, it considers it to be its duty 
to present this demand to the government, not on the basis of theeconom- 
ic struggle alone, but on the basis of all manifestations of public and 
political life. In a word, it subordinates the struggle for reforms to the 
revolutionary struggle for liberty and for Socialism, as the part is subor- 
dinate to the whole. Martynov, however, resuscitates the theory of stages 
in a new form, and strives to prescribe an exclusively economic, so to 
speak, path of development for the political struggle. By coming out at 
this moment, when the revolutionary movement is on the up-grade, 
with an alleged special "task" of fighting for reforms, he is dragging the 
Party backwards and is playing into the hands of both "economic" and 
liberal opportunism. 

To proceed. Shamefacedly hiding the struggle for reforms behind the 
pompous thesis "lending the economic struggle itself a political charac- 
ter," Martynov advanced, as if it were a special point exclusively econom- 
ic (in fact exclusively factory) reforms. Why he did that, we do not 
know. Perhaps it was due to carelessness? But if, indeeH, he had something 
else besides "factory" reforms in mind, then the whole of his thesis, 
which we have just quoted, loses all sense. Perhaps he did it because 
he thought it possible and probable that the government would make 
"concessions" only in the economic sphere?* If that is what he thought, 
then it is a strange error. Concessions are also possible and are made in 

* P. 43. "Of course, when we advise the workers to present certain economic 
demands to the government, we do so because in the economic sphere, the auto- 
cratic government is compelled to agree to make certain concessions." 

WHAT 19 TO BE DONE? 193 

the sphere of legislation concerning flogging, passports, land compensa- 
tion payments, religious sects, the censorship, etc., etc. "Economic" 
concessions (or pseudo-concessions) are, of course, the cheapest and most 
advantageous concessions to make from the governments' point of view, 
because by these means it hopes to win the confidence of the masses of 
the workers. For this very reason, we Social-Democrats must under no 
circumstances create grounds for the belief (or the misunderstanding) that 
we attach greater value to economic reforms, or that we regard them 
as being particularly important, etc. "Such demands," writes Martynov, 
concerning the concrete demands for legislative and administrative 
measures referred to above, "would not be merely a hollow sound, be- 
cause, promising certain palpable results, they might be actively sup- 
ported by the masses of the workers. . . ." We are not Economists, oh nol 
We only cringe as slavishly before the "palpablcness" of concrete re- 
sults as do the Bernsteins, the Prokopoviches, the Struves, the R. M.'s, 
and tutti quantil We only wish to make it understood (with Narcissus 
Tuporylov)* that all that which "does not promise palpable results'* 
is merely a "hollow sound." We are only trying to argue as if the masses 
of the workers were incapable (and had not already proved their capabil- 
ities, notwithstanding those who ascribe their own philistinism to them) 
of actively supporting every protest against the autocracy even if it pro- 
mises absolutely no palpable results whatever] 

"In addition to its immediate revolutionary significance, the 
economic struggle of the workers against the employers and the 
government [ "economic struggle against the government"!!] has 
also this significance: that it constantly brings the workers face to 
face with their own lack of political rights." (Martynov, p. 44.) 

We quote this passage not in order to repeat what has already been 
said hundreds and thousands of times before, but in order to thank Marty- 
nov for this excellent new formula: "the economic struggle of the workers 
against the employers and the government." What a pearl! With what 
inimitable talent and skill in eliminating all partial disagreements and 
shades of differences among Economists does this clear and concise postu- 
late express the quintessence of Economism: from calling to the workers to 
join "in the political struggle which they carry on in the general interest, 
for the purpose of improving the conditions of all the workers,"** con- 
tinuing through the theory of stages, to the resolution of the Congress 
on the "most widely applicable," etc. "Economic struggle against the 
government" is precisely trade union politics, which is very, very far from 
being Social-Democratic politics. 

* Narcissus Tuporylov the pseudonym used by Martov to sign a satirical 
hymn directed against the Economists. Ed. 
* Rabochaya Mysl, Special Supplement, p. 14. 


194 Y. I. LENIN 

B. A Tale of How Martynov Rendered Pkkhanov More Profound 

Martynov says: 

"Much water has flowed under the bridges since Plekhanov 
wrote this book/' (Ta*ks of the Socialists in the Fight Against the 
Famine in Russia.) "The Social-Democrats who for a decade led 
the economic struggle of the working class . . . have failed as yet 
to lay down a broad theoretical basis for Party tactics. This ques- 
tion has now come to the fore, and if we should wish to lay down 
such a theoretical basis we would certainly have to deepen consid- 
erably the principles of tactics that Plekhanov at one time devel- 
oped. . . . We would now have to define the differences between 
propaganda and agitation differently from the way in which Ple- 
khanov defined it. [Martynov had just previously quoted the words 
of Plekhanov: "A propagandist presents many ideas to one or a 
few persons; an agitator presents only one or a few ideas, but he 
presents them to a mass of people."] By propaganda we would un- 
derstand the revolutionary elucidation of the whole of the pres- 
ent system or partial manifestations of it, irrespective of whether 
it is done in a form capable of being understood by individuals 
or by broad masses. By agitation, in the strict sense of the word 
[ate!], we would understand calling the masses to certain concrete ac- 
tions that would facilitate the direct revolutionary intervention of 
the proletariat in social life." 

We congratulate Russian and international Social-Democracy on Marty- 
nov *s new, more strict and more profound terminology. Up to now we 
thought (with Plekhanov, and with all the leaders of the international 
labour movement) that a propagandist, dealing with, say, the question of 
unemployment, must explain the capitalistic nature of crises, the reasons 
why crises are inevitable in modern society, must describe how present 
society must inevitably become transformed into Socialist society, etc. 
In a word, he must present "many ideas," so many indeed that they will 
be understood as a whole only by a (comparatively) few persons. An 
agitator, however, speaking on the same subject will take as an illustration 
a fact that is most widely known and outstanding among his audience, 
say, the death from starvation of the family of an unemployed worker, 
the growing impoverishment, etc., and utilizing this fact, which is known 
to all and sundry, will direct all his efforts to presenting a single idea to 
the "masses," i.e. 9 the idea of the senseless contradiction between the 
increase of wealth and increase of poverty; he will strive to rowe discon- 
tent and indignation among the masses against this crying injustice, and 
leave a more complete explanation of this contradiction to the propagan- 
dist. Consequently, the propagandist operates chiefly by means of the 
printed word; the agitator operates with the living word. The qualities; 


that are required of an agitator are not the same as the qualities that are 
required of a propagandist. Kautsky and Lafargue, for example, we call 
propagandists; Bebel andGuesde we call agitators. To single out a third 
sphere, or third function, of practical activity, and to include in this 
third function "calling the masses to certain concrete actions," is sheer 
nonsense, because the "call," as a single act, either naturally and inevit- 
ably supplements the theoretical tract, propagandist pamphlet and agi- 
tational speech, or represents a purely executive function. Take, for exam- 
ple, the struggle now being carried on by the German Social -Democrats 
against the grain duties. The theoreticians write works of research on 
tariff policy and "call," say, for a fight for commercial treaties and for free 
trade. The propagandist does the same thing in the periodical press, and 
the agitator does it in public speeches. At the present time, the "concrete 
action" of the masses takes the form of signing petitions to the Reichstag 
against the raising of the grain duties. The call for this action comes in- 
directly from the theoreticians, the propagandists and the agitators, and, 
directly, from those workers who carry the petition lists to the factories 
and to private houses to get signatures. According to the "Martynov ter- 
minology," Kautsky and Bebel are both propagandists, while those who 
carry the petition lists around are agitators; is that not so? 

The German example recalled to my mind the German word Verbal!- 
hornung, which literally translated means "to Ballhorn." Johann Ball- 
horn, a Leipzig publisher of the sixteenth century, published a child's 
reader in which, as was the custom, he introduced a drawing of a cock; 
but this drawing, instead of portraying an ordinary cock with spurs, 
portrayed it without spurs and with a couple of eggs lying near it. On the 
cover of this reader he printed the legend "Revised edition by Johann 
Ballhorn." Since that time the Germans describe any "revision" that is 
really a worsening as "Ballhorning." And watching Martynov's attempts 
to render Plekhanov "more profound" involuntarily recalls Ballhorn 
to one's mind. . . . 

Why did Martynov "invent" this confusion? In order to illustrate 
how Iskra "devotes attention only to one side of the case, just as Plekhanov 
did a decade and a half ago" (p. 39). "According to Iskra, propagandist 
tasks force agitational tasks into the background, at least for the present" 
(p. 52). If we translate this last postulate from the language of Martynov 
into ordinary human language (because humanity has not yet managed to 
learn the newly invented terminology), we shall get the following: "Accord- 
ing to Iskra, the tasks of political propaganda and political agitation 
force into the background the task of 'presenting to the government con- 
crete demands for legislative and administrative measures' that 'promise 
certain palpable results'" (or demands for social reforms, that is, if we 
are permitted just once again to employ the old terminology of old human- 
ity, which has not yet grown to Martynov 's level). We suggest that the 
reader compare this thesis with the following tirade: 


196 V. I. LENIN 

"What astonishes us in these programs [the programs advanced 
by revolutionary Social-Democrats] is the constant stress that is 
laid upon the benefits of labour activity in parliament (non-exist- 
ent in Russia) and the manner in which (thanks to their revolu- 
tionary nihilism) the importance of workers participating in the 
Government Advisory Committees on Factory Affairs (which do 
exist in Russia) ... or at least the importance of workers par- 
ticipating in municipal bodies is completely ignored. . . ." 

The author of this tirade expresses somewhat more straightforwardly, 
more clearly and frankly, the very idea which Martynov discovered 
himself. This author is R. M. in the Special Supplement to Rabochaya 
Mysl. (P. 15.) 

C. Political Exposures and "Training in Revolutionary Activity" 

In advancing against Iskra his "theory" of "raising the activity of 
the masses of the workers," Martynov, as a matter of fact, displayed a 
striving to diminish this activity, because he declared the very economic 
struggle before which all Economists grovel to be the preferable, the 
most important and "the most widely applicable" means of rousing this 
activity, and the widest field for it. This error is such a characteristic 
one, precisely because it is not peculiar to Martynov alone. As a matter 
of fact, it is possible to "raise the activity of the masses of the workers" 
only provided this activity is not restricted entirely to "political agitation 
on an economic basis." And one of the fundamental conditions for the 
necessary expansion of political agitation is the organization of all- 
sided political exposure. In no other way can the masses be trained in 
political consciousness and revolutionary activity except by means of 
such exposures. Hence, to conduct such activity is one of the most im- 
portant functions of international Social-Democracy as a whole, for even 
the existence of political liberty does not remove the necessity for such 
exposures; it merely changes the sphere against which they are directed. 
For example, the German Party is strengthening its position and spread- 
ing its influence, thanks particularly to the untiring energy with which 
it is conducting a campaign of political exposure. Working-class conscious- 
ness cannot be genuinely political consciousness unless the workers are 
trained to respond to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence and abuse, 
no matter what class is affected. Moreover, that response must be a Social- 
Democratic response, and not one from any other point of view. The con- 
sciousness of the masses of the workers cannot be genuine class conscious- 
ness, unless the workers learn to observe from concrete, and above all 
from topical, political facts and events, every other social class and all 
the manifestations of the intellectual, ethical and political life of these 
classes; unless they learn to apply practically the materialist analysis 


and the materialist estimate of all aspects of the life and activity of all 
classes, strata and groups of the population. Those who concentrate the 
attention, observation and the consciousness of the working class exclu- 
sively, or even mainly, upon itself alone are not Social-Democrats; be- 
cause, for its self-realization the working class must not only have a the- 
oretical . . . rather it would be more true to say . . . not so much a the- 
oretical as a practical understanding, acquired through experience of 
political life, of the relationships between all the various classes of modern 
society. That is why the idea preached by our Economists, that the econom- 
ic struggle is the most widely applicable means of drawing the masses 
into the political movement, is so extremely harmful and extremely reac- 
tionary in practice. In order to become a Social-Democrat, a workingman 
must have a clear picture in his mind of the economic nature and the 
social and political features of the landlord, of the priest, of the high state 
official and of the peasant, of the student and of the tramp; he must 
know their strong and weak sides; he must understand all the catchwords 
and sophisms by which each class and each stratum camouflages its 
selfish strivings and its real "nature"; he must understand what 
interests certain institutions and certain laws reflect and how they reflect 
them. This "clear picture" cannot be obtained from books. It can be ob- 
tained only from living examples and from exposures, following hot 
after their occurrence, of what goes on around us at a given moment, of 
what is being discussed, in whispers perhaps, by each one in his own way, 
of the meaning of such and such events, of such and such statistics, of 
such and such court sentences, etc., etc., etc. These universal political 
exposures are an essential and fundamental condition for training the 
masses in revolutionary activity. 

Why is it that the Russian workers as yet display so little revolutionary 
activity in connection with the brutal way in which the police maltreat 
the people, in connection with the persecution of the religious sects, 
with the flogging of the peasantry, with the outrageous censorship, with 
the torture of soldiers, with the persecution of the most innocent cultural 
enterprises, etc.? Is it because the "economic struggle" does rot "stim- 
ulate" them to this, because such political activity does not "promise 
palpable results," because it produces little that is "positive"? No. To 
advance this argument, we repeat, is merely to shift the blame to the 
shoulders of others, to blame the masses of the workers for our own phil- 
istinism (also Bernsteinism). We must blame ourselves, our remoteness 
from the mass movement; we must blame ourselves for being unable 
as yet to organize a sufficiently wide, striking and rapid exposure of 
these despicable outrages. When we do that (and we must and can do it), 
the most backward worker will understand, or mil feel that the students 
and religious sects, the muzhiks and the authors are being abused and 
outraged by the very same dark forces that are oppressing and crushing 
him at every step of his life, and, feeling that, he himself will be filled 

198 V. L LENIN 

with an irresistible desire to respond to these things and then he will 
organize cat-calls against the censors one day, another day he will demon- 
strate outside the house of the provincial governor who has brutally 
suppressed a peasant uprising, another day he will teach a lesson to the 
gendarmes in surplices who are doing the work of the Holy Inquisition, 
etc. As yet we have done very little, almost nothing, to hurl universal 
and fresh exposures among the masses of the workers. Many of us as yet 
do not appreciate the bounden duty that rests upon us, but spontaneously 
follow in the wake of the "drab every-day struggle," in the narrow con- 
fines of factory life. Under such circumstances to say that "Iskra displays 
a tendency to belittle the significance of the forward march of the drab 
every-day struggle in comparison with the propaganda of brilliant and 
complete ideas" (Martynov, p. 61) means dragging the Party backward, 
defending and glorifying our unpreparedness and backwardness. 

As for calling the masses to action, that will come of itself immediately 
energetic political agitation, live and striking exposures are set going. 
To catch some criminal red-handed and immediately to brand him pub- 
licly will have far more effect than any number of "appeals"; the effect 
very often will be such as will make it impossible to tell exactly who it 
was that "appealed" to the crowd, and exactly who suggested this or that 
plan of demonstration, etc. Calls for action, not in the general, but in the 
concrete sense of the term, can be made only at the place of action; only 
those who themselves go into action immediately can make appeals for 
action. And our business as Social-Democratic publicists is to deepen, 
to expand and intensify political exposures and political agitation. 

A word in passing about "calls to action." The only paper that prior 
1o the spring events called upon the workers actively to intervene in a 
matter that certainly did not promise any palpable results for the workers, 
i.e., the drafting of the students into the army, was Iskra. Immediately 
after the publication of the order of January 11, on "drafting the 183 stu- 
dents into the army," Iskra published an article about it (in its February 
issue, No. 2),* and before any demonstration was started openly called 
upon "the workers to go to the aid of the students," called upon the 
"people" boldly to take up the government's open challenge. We ask: 
how is the remarkable fact to be explained that although he talks so much 
about "calls to action," and even suggests "calls to action" as a special 
form of activity, Martynov said not a word about this call? 

Our Economists, including Rabocheye Dyelo 9 were successful because 
they pandered to the uneducated workers. But the working-class Social- 
Democrat, the working-class revolutionary (and the number of that type 
is growing) will indignantly reject all this talk about fighting for demands 
"promising palpable results," etc., because he will understand that this 
is only a variation of the old song about adding a kopek to the ruble. 

* See Lenin, Collected Works, Eng. cd., Vol. IV, Book I, p. 70. Ed. 


Such a workingman will say to his counsellors of Rabochaya My si and 
Eabocheye Dyeto: you are wasting your time, gentlemen; you are inter- 
fering with excessive zeal in a job that we can manage ourselves, and 
you are neglecting your own duties. It is silly of you to say that the 
Social-Democrats' task is to lend the economic struggle itself a political 
character, for that is only the beginning, it is not the main task that 
Social-Democrats must fulfil. All over the world, including Russia, 
the police themselves often lend the economic struggle a political character, 
and the workers themselves are beginning to understand whom the govern- 
ment supports.* The "economic struggle of the workers against the 
employers and the government," about which you make as much fuss 
as if you had made a new discovery, is being carried on in all parts of 
Russia, even the most remote, by the workers themselves who have heard 
about strikes, but who have heard almost nothing about Socialism. The 
"activity" you want to stimulate among us workers, by advancing con- 
crete demands promising palpable results, we are already displaying and 
in our every-day, petty trade union work we put forward concrete demands, 
very often without any assistance whatever from the intellectuals. But 
such activity is not enough for us; we are not children to be fed on the 
sops of "economic" politics alone; we want to know everything that 
everybody else knows, we want to learn the details of all aspects of polit- 
ical life and to take part actively in every political event. In order that 
we may do this, the intellectuals must talk to us less of what we already 
know,** and tell us more about what we do not know and what we can 

* The demand "to lend the economic struggle itself a political character" 
most strikingly expresses subservience to spontaneity in the sphere of political 
activity. Very often the economic struggle spontaneously assumes a political 
character, that is to say, without the injection of the "revolutionary bacilli of 
the intelligentsia," without the intervention of the class- conscious Social-Demo- 
crats. For example, the economic struggle of the British workers assumed a polit- 
ical character without the intervention of the Socialists. The tasks of the Social- 
Democrats, however, are not exhausted by political agitation in the economic 
field; their task is to convert trade union politics into the Social-Democratic polit- 
ical struggle, to utilize the flashes of political consciousness which gleam in the 
minds of the workers during their economic struggle for the purpose of raising 
them to the level of Social- Democratic political consciousness. The Martynovs, 
however, instead of raising and stimulating the spontaneously awakening poli- 
tical consciousness of the workers, bow down before spontaneity and repeat over 
and over again, until one is sick and tired of hearing it, that the economic struggle 
"stimulates" in the workers' minds thoughts about their own lack of political 
rights. It is unfortunate, gentlemen, that the spontaneously awakening trade 
union political consciousness does not "stimulate" in your minds thoughts about 
your Social -Democratic tasksl 

** To prove that this imaginary speech of a worker to an Economist is based 
on fact, we shall call two witnesses who undoubtedly have direct knowledge of 
the labour movement, and who can be least suspected of being partial towards 
\is "doctrinaires," for one witness is an Economist (who regards even Rabocheye 
Dyelo as a political organ!), and the other is a terrorist. The first witness is the 
author of a remarkably truthful and lively article entitled "The St. Petersburg 

200 Y.LLBOV 

never learn from our factory and "economic" experience, that is, you 
must give us political knowledge. You intellectuals can acquire this 
knowledge, and it is your duty to bring us this knowledge in a hundred 
and a thousand times greater measure than you have done up to now; 
and you must bring us this knowledge, not only in the form of arguments,, 
pamphlets and articles which sometimes excuse our frankness! are 
very dull, but in the form of live exposures of what our government and 
our governing classes are doing at this very moment in all spheres of life. 
Fulfil this duty with greater zeal, and talk less about "increasing the activ- 
ity of the masses of the workers"! We are far more active than you think ^ 
and we are quite able to support, by open street fighting, demands that 
do not promise any "palpable results" whatever! You cannot "increase" 
our activity, because you yourselves are not sufficiently active. Bow in 
worship to spontaneity less, and think more about increasing your own 
activity, gentlemen! 

D. What Is There in Common Between Economism and Terrorism! 

In the last footnote we quoted the opinion of an Economist and of 
a non-Social-Democratic terrorist who, by chance, proved to be in agree- 
ment with him. Speaking generally, however, between the two there 
is not an accidental, but a necessary, inherent connection, about which 
we shall have to speak further on, but which must be dealt with here 
in connection with the question of training the masses in revolutionary 
activity. The Economists and the modern terrorists spring from a com- 
mon root, namely, the worship of spontaneity , of which we dealt with in 
the preceding chapter as a general phenomenon, and which we shall 
now examine in relation to its effect upon political activity and the po- 
litical struggle. At first sight, our, assertion may appear paradoxical, for 
the difference between these two appears to be so enormous: one stresses 

Labour Movement and the Practical Tasks of Social-Democracy," published in 
Babocheye Dyelo, No. 6. He divided the workers into the following categories: 
1. class-conscious revolutionaries; 2. intermediate stratum; 3. the masses. Now 
the intermediate stratum he says "is often more interested in questions of political 
life than in its own immediate economic interests, the connection between which 
and the general social conditions it has long understood...." Rabochaya Mysl 
"is sharply criticized": "it keeps on repeating the same thing over and over again, 
things we have long known, read long ago." "Nothing in the political review again I" 
(Pp. 30-31.) But even the third stratum, "... the younger and more sensitive section 
of the workers, less corrupted by the tavern and the church, who have hardly ever 
had the opportunity of reading political literature, discuss political events in 
a rambling way and ponder deeply over the fragmentary news they get about 
the student riots, etc." The second witness, the terrorist, writes as follows: 
*. ..^ They read over once or twice the petty details of factory life in other towns, not 
their own, and then they read no more.... 'Awfully dull,* they say.... To say nothing 
in a workers * paper about the government ... signifies that the workers are regarded 
as being little children.... The workers are not babies." (Svoboda {Freedom] ', pub- 
lished by the Revolutionary Socialist group, pp. 69-70.) 


the "drab cvery-day struggle" and the other calls for the most self-sacri- 
ficing struggle of individuals. But this is not a paradox. The Economists 
and terrorists merely bow to different poles of spontaneity: the Econom- 
ists bow to the spontaneity of the "pure and simple" labour move- 
ment, while the terrorists bow to the spontaneity of the passionate indig- 
nation of the intellectuals, who are either incapable of linking up the 
revolutionary struggle with the labour movement, or lack the oppor- 
tunity to do so. It is very difficult indeed for those who have lost 
their belief, or who have never believed that this is possible, to find 
some other outlet for their indignation and revolutionary energy than 
terror. Thus, both the forms of worship of spontaneity we have mentioned 
are nothing more nor less than a beginning in the carrying out of the no- 
torious Credo program. Let the workers carry on their "economic struggle 
against the employers and the government" (we apologize to the author 
of the Credo for expressing his views inMartynov's words! But we think 
we have the right to do so because even the Credo says that in the 
economic struggle the workers "come up against the political regime"), 
and let the intellectuals conduct the political struggle by their own efforts 
with the aid of terror, of course ! This is an absolutely logical and inev- 
itable conclusion which must be insisted upon even though those who 
were beginning to carry out this program did not themselves realize that 
it was inevitable. Political activity has its logic quite apart from the 
consciousness of those who, with the best intentions, call either for terror 
or for lending the economic struggle itself a political character. The road 
to hell is paved with good intentions, and, in this case, good intentions 
cannot save one from being spontaneously drawn "along the l^ne of 
least resistance," along the line of the purely bourgeois Credo program. 
Surely it is not an accident that many Russian liberals avowed liber- 
als and liberals who wear the mask of Marxism wholeheartedly sym- 
pathize with terror and strive to foster the spirit of terrorism that is 
running so high at the present time. 

The formation of the Svoboda Revolutionary Socialist group which 
was formed with the object of giving all possible assistance to the labour 
movement, but which included in its program terror, and emancipation, 
so to speak, from Social-Democracy this fact once again confirmed the 
remarkable penetration of P.B. Axelrod who literally foretold these re- 
sults of Social-Democratic wavering as far back as the end of 1897 (Modern 
Tasks and Modern Tactics), when he outlined his remarkable "two pros- 
pects." All the subsequent disputes and disagreements among Russian 
Social-Democrats are contained, like a plant in the seed, in these two 

* Martynov "conceives of another, more realistic [?] dilemma" (Social- Democ- 
racy and the Working Class, p. 19): "Either Social-Democracy undertakes the 
direct leadership of the economic struggle of the proletariat and by that [1] trans- 
forms it into a revolutionary class struggle ..." "by that," i.e., apparently the 

202 y. L LENIN 

From this point of view it will be clear that Rabocheye Dyelo, being 
unable to withstand the spontaneity of Economism, has been unable 
also to withstand the spontaneity of terrorism. It would be interesting 
to note here the specific arguments that Svoboda advanced in defence of 
terrorism. It "completely denies" the deterrent role of terrorism (The 
Regeneration of Revolutionism, p. 64), but instead stresses its "excitative 
significance." This is characteristic, first, as representing one of the 
stages of the* break-up and decay of the traditional (pre-Social-Democrat- 
ic) cycle of ideas which insisted upon terrorism. To admit that the 
government cannot now be "terrified," and therefore disrupted, by terror, 
is tantamount to condemning terror as a system of struggle, as a sphere 
of activity sanctioned by the program. Secondly, it is still more charac- 
teristic as an example of the failure to understand our immediate task 
of "training the masses in revolutionary activity." Svoboda advocates 
terror as a means of "exciting" the labour movement, and of giving it 
a "strong impetus." It is difficult to imagine an argument that disproves 
itself more than this one does ! Are there not enough outrages com- 
mitted in Russian life that a special "stimulant" has to be invented? 
On the other hand, is it not obvious that those who are not, and cannot be, 
roused to excitement even by Russian tyranny will stand by "twiddling 
their thumbs" even while a handful of terrorists are engaged in single 
combat with the government? The fact is, however, that the masses of 
the workers are roused to a high pitch of excitement by the outrages 
committed in Russian life, but we are unable to collect, if one may put 
it that way, and concentrate all these drops and streamlets of popular 
excitement, which are called forth by the conditions of Russian life to 
a far larger extent than we imagine, but which it is precisely necessary 
to combine into a single gigantic flood. That this can be accomplished 
is irrefutably proved by the enormous growth of the labour movement 
and the greed with which the workers devour political literature, to which 
we have already referred above. Calls for terror and calls to give the eco- 
nomic struggle itself a political "charactei 1 aie llitiely two dmcrcnt forms 
bi evading the most pressing duty that now rests upon Russian revolution- 
aries, namely, to organize all-sided political agitation. Svoboda desires 
to substitute terror for agitation, openly admitting that "as soon as inten- 
sified and strenuous agitation is commenced among the masses its excita- 

dircct leadership of the economic struggle. Can Martynov quote an example where 
the leadership of the industrial struggle alone has succeeded in transforming the 
trade union movement into a revolutionary class movement? Cannot he understand 
that in order to bring about this "transformation" we must actively undertake 
the "direct leadership" of all-sided political agitation? M ... Or the other prospect: 
Social-Democracy refrains from taking the leadership of the economic struggle 
of the workers and so ...clips its own wings...." In Rabocheye Dyelo'a opinion, 
which we quoted above, Iskra "refrains." We have seen, however, that the latter 
does far more to lead the economic struggle than Rabocheye Dyelo, but it docs 
not confine itself to this, and does not curtail its political tasks for the sake of it. 


tive function will be finished." (The Regeneration of Revolutionism, p. 68.) 
This proves precisely that both the terrorists and the Economists under- 
estimate the revolutionary activity of the masses, in spite of the strik- 
ing evidence of the events that took place in the spring, * and whereas 
one goes out in search of artificial "stimulants," the other talks about 
"concrete demands." But both fail to devote sufficient attention to the 
development of their own activity in political agitation and organization 
of political exposures. And no other work can serve as a substitute for 
this work either at the present time or at any other time. 

E. The Working Class as Champion of Democracy 

We have seen that the carrying on of wide political agitation, and 
consequently the organization of all-sided political exposures, is an abso- 
lutely necessary and paramount task of activity, that is, if that activity 
is to be truly Social-Democratic. We arrived at this conclusion solely 
on the grounds of the pressing needs of the working class for political 
knowledge and political training. But this presentation of the question 
is too narrow, for it ignores the general democratic tasks of Social-De- 
mocracy in general, and of modern Russian Social-Democracy in partic- 
ular. In order to explain the situation more concretely we shall ap- 
proach the subject from an aspect that is "nearer" to the Economist, name- 
ly, from the practical aspect. "Everyone agrees" that it is necessary to 
develop the political consciousness of the working class. But the question 
arises, how is that to be done? What must be done to bring this about? 
The economic struggle merely brings the workers "up against" questions 
concerning the attitude of the government towards the working class. 
Consequently, however much we may try to lend the "economic struggle 
itself a political character" we shall never be able to develop the political 
consciousness of the workers (to the degree of Social-Democratic conscious- 
ness) by confining ourselves to the economic struggle, for the limits of 
this task are too narrow. The Martynov formula has some value for us, 
not because it illustrates Martynov 's ability to confuse things, but be- 
cause it strikingly expresses the fundamental error that all the Econom- 
ists commit, namely, their conviction that it is possible to develop 
the class political consciousness of the workers from within the econom- 
ic struggle, so to speak, i.e., making the economic struggle the exclu- 
sive, or, at least, the main starting point, making the economic struggle 
the exclusive, or, at least, the main basis. Such a view is radically wrong. 
Piqued by our opposition to them, the Economists refuse to ponder deeply 
over the origins of these disagreements, with the result that we absolutely 
fail to understand each other. It is as if we spoke in different tongues. 

* This refers to the big street demonstrations which commenced In the spring 
f 1901. [Author's note to the 190# edition. Ed.] 

204 V. L LENIN 

Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from 
without, that is, only outside of the economic struggle, outside of the sphere 
of relations between workers and employers. The sphere from which alone 
it is possible to obtain this knowledge is the sphere of relationships be- 
tween all the various classes and strata and the state and the government 
the sphere of the interrelations between all the various classes. For that 
reason, the reply to the question: what must be done in order to bring 
political knowledge to the workers? cannot be merely the one which, in 
the majority of cases, the practical workers, especially those who are 
inclined towards Economism, usually content themselves with, i.e., "go 
among the workers." To bring political knowledge to the workers the 
Social-Democrats must go among all classes of the population, must dis- 
patch units of their army in all directions. 

We deliberately select this awkward formula, we deliberately express 
ourselves in a simple, forcible way, not because we desire to indulge 
in paradoxes, but in order to "stimulate" the Economists to take up 
those tasks which they unpardonably ignore, to make them understand 
the difference between trade union and Social-Democratic politics, which 
they refuse to understand. Therefore, we beg the reader not to get excited, 
but to listen patiently to the end. 

Take the type of Social-Democratic circle that has been most wide- 
spread during the past few years, and examine its work. It has "contacts 
with the workers," it issues leaflets in which abuses in the factories, 
the government's partiality towards the capitalists and the tyranny 
of the police are strongly condemned and it rests content with this. 
At meetings of workers the discussions never, or rarely, go beyond the 
limits of these subjects. Lectures and discussions on the history of the 
revolutionary movement, on questions of the home and foreign policy 
of our government, on questions of the economic evolution of Russia 
and of Europe, and the position of the various classes in modern society, 
etc., are extremely rare. Of systematically acquiring and extending 
contact with other classes of society, no one even dreams. The ideal 
leader, as the majority of the members of such circles picture him, is 
something more in the nature of a trade union secretary than a Socialist 
political leader. Any trade union secretary, an English one for instance, 
helps the workers to conduct the economic struggle, helps to expose fac- 
tory abuses, explains the injustice of the laws and of measures which 
hamper the freedom to strike and the freedom to picket (i.e., to warn 
all and sundry that a strike is proceeding at a certain factory), explains 
the partiality of arbitration court judges who belong to the bourgeois 
classes, etc., etc. In a word, every trade union secretary conducts and 
helps to conduct "the economic struggle against the employers and the 
government." It cannot be too strongly insisted that this is not enough 
to constitute Social-Democracy. The Social-Democrat's ideal should 
not be a trade union secretary, but a tribune of the people, able to react 


to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it 
takes place, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; 
he must be able to group all these manifestations into a single picture 
of police violence and capitalist exploitation; he must be able to take 
advantage of every petty event in order to explain his Socialistic con- 
victions and his democratic demands to all, in order to explain to all 
and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the eman- 
cipation of the proletariat. Compare, for example, a leader like Robert 
Knight (the celebrated secretary and leader of the Boiler-Makers' So- 
ciety, one of the most powerful trade unions in England) with Wilhelm 
Liebknecht, and then take the contrasts that Martynov draws in his 
controversy with Iskra. You will see I am running through Martynov ? s 
article that Robert Knight engaged more in "calling the masses to 
certain concrete actions" (p. 39) while Liebknecht engaged more in "the 
revolutionary explanation of the whole of modern society, or various 
manifestations of it" (pp. 38-39); that Robert Knight "formulated the 
immediate demands of the proletariat and pointed to the manner in which 
they can be achieved" (p. 41), whereas Wilhelm Liebknecht, while doing 
this, "simultaneously guided the activities of various opposition strata," 
"dictated to them a positive program of action"* (p. 41); that it was 
precisely Robert Knight who strove "as far as possible to lend the eco- 
nomic struggle itself a political character" (p. 42) and was excellently 
able "to submit to the government concrete demands promising certain 
palpable results" (p. 43), while Liebknecht engaged more in "one-sided" 
"exposures" (p. 40); that Robert Knight attached more significance to 
the "forward march of the drab, every-day struggle" (p. 61), whil Lieb- 
knecht attached more significance to the "propaganda of brilliant and 
finished ideas" (p. 61); that Liebknecht converted the paper he was direct- 
ing into "an organ of revolutionary opposition exposing the present 
system and particularly the political conditions which came into con- 
flict with the interests of the most varied strata of the population" (p. 63), 
whereas Robert Knight "worked for the cause of labour in close organic 
contact with the proletarian struggle" (p. 63) if by "close and organic 
contact" is meant the worship of spontaneity which we studied above 
from the example of Krichevsky and Martynov and "restricted the 
sphere of his influence," convinced, of course, as is Martynov, that "by 
that he intensified that influence" (p. 63). In a word, you will see that 
de facto Martynov reduces Social-Democracy to the level of trade union- 
ism, and he does this, of course, not because he does not desire the good 
of Social-Democracy, but simply because he is a little too much in a 
hurry to make Plekhanov more profound, instead of taking the trouble 
to understand him. 

* For example, during the Franco- Prussian War, Liebknecht dictated a pro- 
gram of action for the whole of democracy and this was done to an even greater 
extent by Marx and Engels in 1848. 

206 V. I. LENIN 

Let us return, however, to the elucidation of our thesis. We said that 
a Social-Democrat, if he really believes it is necessary to develop the 
all-sided political consciousness of the proletariat, must "go among all 
classes of the people." This gives rise to the questions: How is this to be 
done? Have we enough forces to do this? Is there a base for such work 
among all the other classes? Will this not mean a retreat, or lead to a re- 
treat, from, the class point of view? We shall deal with these questions. 

We must "go among all classes of the people" as theoreticians, as 
propagandists, as agitators and as organizers. No one doubts that the theo- 
retical work of Social-Democrats should be directed towards studying 
all the features of the social and political position of the various classes. 
But extremely little is done in this direction as compared with the work 
that is done in studying the features of factory life. In the committees 
and circles, you will meet men who are immersed, say, in the study of 
some special branch of the metal industry, but you will hardly ever find 
members of organizations (obliged, as often happens, for some reason 
or other to give up practical work) especially engaged in the collection 
of material concerning some pressing question of social and political 
life in our country which could serve as a means for conducting Social- 
Democratic work among other strata of the population. In speaking of 
the lack of training of the majority of present-day leaders of the labour 
movement, we cannot refrain from mentioning the point about training 
in this connection also, for it too is bound up with the "economic" con- 
ception of "close organic contact with the proletarian struggle." The 
principal thing, of course, is propaganda and agitation among all strata 
of the people. The West European Social-Democrats find their work in 
this field facilitated by the calling of public meetings, to which all are 
free to go, and by the parliament, in which they speak to the represent- 
atives of all classes. We have neither a parliament nor the freedom to 
call meetings, nevertheless we are able to arrange meetings of workers 
who desire to listen to a Social- Democrat. We must also find ways and 
means of calling meetings of representatives of all classes of the popu- 
lation that desire to listen to a democrat; for he who forgets that "the 
Communists support every revolutionary movement," that we are obliged 
for that reason to expound and emphasize general democratic tasks be- 
fore the whole people, without for a moment concealing our Socialist 
convictions, is not a Social-Democrat. He who forgets his obligation 
to be in advance of everybody in bringing up, sharpening and solving every 
general democratic problem is not a Social-Democrat. 

"But everybody agrees with this!" the impatient reader will ex- 
claim and the new instructions given, by the last Congress of the Union 
to the editorial board of Babocheye Dyelo say: "All events of social and 
political life that affect the proletariat either directly as a special class 
or as the vanguard of all the revolutionary forces in the struggle for freedom 
should serve as subjects for political propaganda and agitation." (Two 

WHAT 19 TO BE DONE? 207 

Congresses, p. 17, our italics.) Yes, these arc very true and very good words 
and we would be satisfied if Rdbocheye Dyelo understood them and if 
it refrained from saying in the next breath things that are the very opposite 
of them. 

Ponder over the following piece of Martynov reasoning. On page 40 
he says that Iskra's tactics of exposing abuses are one-sided, that "how- 
ever much we may spread distrust and hatred towards the government,, 
we shall not achieve our aim until we have succeeded in developing 
sufficiently active social energy for its overthrow." 

This, it may be said in parenthesis, is the concern, with which we are 
already familiar, for increasing the activity of the masses, while at the 
same time striving to restrict one's own activity. This is not the point 
we are now discussing, however. Martynov, therefore, speaks of revo- 
hitionary energy ("for overthrowing"). But what conclusion does he ar- 
rive at? As in ordinary times various social strata inevitably march sep- 

"it is, therefore, clear that we Social-Democrats cannot simulta- 
neously guide the activities of various opposition strata, we cannot 
dictate to them a positive program of action, we cannot point out 
to them in what manner they can fight for their daily interests. . . . 
The liberal strata will themselves take care of the active struggle 
for their immediate interests and this struggle will bring them up 
against our political regime." (P. 41.) 

Thus, having commenced by speaking of revolutionary energy, of the 
active struggle for the overthrow of the autocracy, Martynov immediate- 
ly turned towards trade union energy and active struggle for immediate 
interests! It goes without saying that we cannot guide the struggle of 
the students, liberals, etc., for their "immediate interests," but this is 
not the point we are arguing about, most worthy Economist! The point 
we are discussing is the possible and necessary participation of various 
social strata in the overthrow of the autocracy; not only are we able, but 
it is our duty, to guide these "activities of the various opposition strata" 
if we desire to be the "vanguard." Not only will the students and our 
liberals, etc., themselves take care of "the struggle that will bring them 
up against our political regime"; the police and the officials of the auto- 
cratic government will see to this more than anyone else. But if "we" 
desire to be advanced democrats, we must make it our business to stimu- 
late in the minds of those who are dissatisfied only with university, or 
only with Zemstvo, etc., conditions the idea that the whole political 
system is worthless. We must take upon ourselves the task of organizing 
a universal political struggle under the leadership of our Party in such 
a manner as to obtain all the support possible of all opposition strata for 
the struggle and for our Party. We must train our Social-Democratic 
practical workers to become political leaders, able to guide all the mani- 

208 V. I. LENIN 

fcstations of this universal struggle, able at the right time to "dictate 
a positive program of action" for the turbulent students, for the discon- 
tented Zemstvo Councillors, for the incensed religious sects, for the offend- 
ed elementary school teachers, etc., etc. For that reason, Martynov's 
assertion that "with regard to these, we can come forward merely in 
the negative role of exposers of abuses ... we can only [our italics] dissi- 
pate the hopes they have in various government commissions" is 06- 
solutely wrong. By saying this Martynov shows that he absolutely jails 
to understand the role the revolutionary "vanguard" must really play. 
If the reader bears this in mind, the real sense of the following concluding 
remarks by Martynov will be clear to him: 

"Iskra is in fact the organ of revolutionary opposition that ex- 
poses the state of affairs in our country, particularly the political 
state of affairs in so far as they affect the interests of the most diverse 
classes of the population. We, however, work and shall continue to 
work for the cause of labour in close organic contact with the pro- 
letarian struggle. By restricting the sphere of our influence, we 
intensify that influence." (P. 63.) 

The true sense of this conclusion is as follows: Iskra desires to elevate 
working-class trade union politics (to which, owing to misunderstanding, 
lack of training, or by conviction, our practical workers frequently con- 
fine themselves) to Social-Democratic politics, whereas Rabocheye Dyelo 
desires to degrade Social-Democratic politics to trade union politics. 
And while doing this, they assure the world that these two positions are 
"quite compatible in the common cause" (p. 63). 01 Sancta simplicitas! 

To proceed: Have we sufficient forces to be able to direct our propagan- 
da and agitation among all classes of the population? Of course we have. 
Our Economists are frequently 'inclined to deny this. They lose sight of 
the gigantic progress our movement has made from (approximately) 
1894 to 1901. Like real "khvostists" they frequently live in the distant 
past, in the period of the beginning of the movement. At that time, in- 
deed, we had astonishingly few forces, and it was perfectly natural and 
legitimate then to resolve to go exclusively among the workers, and se- 
verely condemn any deviation from this. The whole task then was to con- 
solidate our position in the working class. At the present time, however, 
gigantic forces have been attracted to the movement; the best represent- 
atives of the young generation of the educated classes are coming over 
to us; all over the country there are people compelled to live in the pro- 
vinces, who have taken part in the movement in the past and desire to 
do so now, who are gravitating towards Social-Democracy (in 1894 you 
could count the Social-Democrats on your fingers). One of the principal 
political and organizational shortcomings of our movement is that we 
are unable to utilize all these forces and give them appropriate work 
(we shall deal with this in detail in the next chapter.) The overwhelming 

WHAT 18 TO BE DONE? 209 

majority of these forces entirely lack the opportunity of "going among 
the workers," so there are no grounds for fearing that we shall 
deflect forces from our main cause. And in order to be able to provide 
the workers with real, universal and live political knowledge, we must 
have "our own men," Social-Democrats, everywhere, among all social 
strata, and in all positions from which we can learn the inner springs 
of our state mechanism. Such men are required for propaganda and agitation, 
but in a still larger measure for organization. 

Is there scope for activity among all classes of the population? Those 
who fail to see this also lag behind the spontaneous awakening of the mass- 
es as far as class consciousness is concerned. The labour movement has 
aroused and is continuing to arouse discontent in some, hopes for support 
for the opposition in others, and the consciousness of the intolerableness 
and inevitable downfall of the autocracy in still others. We would be 
"politicians" and Social-Democrats only in name (as very often happens), 
if we faMed to realize that our task is to utilize every manifestation of 
discontent, and to collect and utilize every grain of even rudimentary 
protest. This is quite apart from the fact that many millions of the peas- 
antry, handicraftsmen, petty artisans, etc., always listen eagerly to the 
preachings of any Social-Democrat who is at all intelligent. Is there a 
single class of the population in which no individuals, groups or circles 
are to be found who are discontented with the lack of rights and tyranny 
and, therefore, accessible to the propaganda of Social-Democrats as the 
spokesmen of the most pressing general democratic needs? To those who 
desire to have a clear idea of what the political agitation of a Social-Dem- 
ocrat among all classes and strata of the population should be like, we 
would point to political exposures in the broad sense of the word as the 
principal (but of course not the sole) form of this agitation. 

We must "arouse in every section of the population that is at all 
enlightened a passion for political exposure," I wrote in my article 
"Where To Begin?" (Iskra, No. 4, May 1901), with which I shall 
deal in greater detail later. "We must not allow ourselves to 
be discouraged by the fact that the voice of political exposure 
is still feeble, rare and timid. This is not because of a gener- 
al submission to police tyranny, but because those who are 
able and ready to make exposures have no tribune from which 
to speak, because there is no audience to listen eagerly to and 
approve of what the orators say, and because the latter do not 
see anywhere among the people forces to whom it would be worth 
while directing their complaint against the 'omnipotent* Rus- 
sian government. . . . We are now in a position, and it is our 
duty, to set up a tribune for the national exposure of the tsarist 
government. That tribune must be a Social-Democratic paper."* 

* See Lenin, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Vol. II, p. 20. Ed. 

210 V. I. LENIN 

The ideal audience for these political exposures is the working class, 
which is first and foremost in need of universal and live political knowl- 
edge, which is most capable of converting this knowledge into active 
struggle, even if it does not promise "palpable results." The only plat- 
form from which public exposures can be made is an all- Russian newspa- 
per. "Without a political organ, a political movement deserving that 
name is inconceivable in modern Europe." In this connection Russia 
must undoubtedly be included in modern Europe. The press has long 
ago become a power in our country, otherwise the government would 
not spend tens of thousands of rubles to bribe it, and to subsidize the 
Katkovs and Meshcherskys. And it is no novelty in autocratic Russia 
for the underground press to break through the wall of censorship and 
compel the legal and conservative press to speak openly of it. This was 
the case in the 'seventies and even in the 'fifties. How much broader 
and deeper are now the strata of the people willing to read the illegal 
underground press, and to learn from it "how to live and how to die," to use 
the expression of the worker who sent a letter to Iskra. (No. 7.) Political ex- 
posures are as much a declaration of war against the government as economic 
exposures are a declaration of war against the factory owners. And the wid- 
er and more powerful this campaign of exposure is, the more numerous 
and determined the social class, which has declared war in order to com- 
mence the war, will be, the greater will be the moral significance of this dec- 
laration of war. Hence, political exposures in themselves serve as a pow- 
erful instrument for disintegrating the system we oppose, the means 
for diverting from the enemy his casual or temporary allies, the means 
for spreading enmity and distrust among those who permanently share 
power with the autocracy. 

Only a party that will organize real, public exposures can become the 
vanguard of the revolutionary forces in our time. The word "public" 
has a very profound meaning. The overwhelming majority of the non- 
working-class exposers (and in order to become the vanguard, we must 
attract other classes) are sober politicians and cool businessmen. They 
know perfectly well how dangerous it is to "complain" even against a 
minor official, let alone against the "omnipotent" Russian government. 
And they will come to us with their complaints only when they see that 
these complaints really have effect, and when they see that we represent 
a political force. In order to become this political force in the eyes of out- 
siders, much persistent and stubborn work is required to raise our own 
consciousness, initiative and energy. For this, it is not sufficient to stick 
the label "vanguard" on rearguard theory and practice. 

But if we have to undertake the. organization of the real, public ex- 
posure of the government, in what way will the class character of our 
movement be expressed? the over-zealous advocates of "close organic 
contact with the proletarian struggle" will ask us. The reply is: in that 
we Social-Democrats will organize these public exposures; in that all the 


questions that arc brought up by the agitation will be explained consis- 
tently in the spirit of Social-Democracy, without any concessions to de- 
liberate or unconscious distortions of Marxism; in the fact that the Party 
will carry on this universal political agitation, uniting into one insepa- 
rable whole the pressure upon the government in the name of the whole 
people, the revolutionary training of the proletariat while preserving 
its political independence the guidance of the economic struggle of the 
working class, the utilization of all its spontaneous conflicts with its 
exploiters, which rouse and bring into our camp increasing numbers of 
the proletariat. 

But one of the most characteristic features of Economism is its failure 
to understand this connection. More than that it fails to understand the 
identity of the most pressing needs of the proletariat (an all-sided poli- 
tical education through the medium of political agitation and political 
exposures) with the needs of the general democratic movement. This lack 
of understanding is not only expressed in "Martynovite" phrases, but 
also in the reference to the class point of view which is identical in meaning 
with these phrases. The following, for example, is how the authors of the 
"Economist" letter in No. 12 of Iskra expressed themselves.* 

"This fundamental drawback [overestimating ideology] is the 
cause of Iskra's inconsistency in regard to the question of the rela- 
tions between Social-Democrats and various social classes and ten- 
dencies. By a process of theoretical reasoning [and not by "the growth 
of Party tasks which grow with the Party"], Iskra arrived at the con- 
clusion that it was necessary immediately to take up the struggle 
against absolutism, but in all probability sensing the difficulty of 
this task for the workers in the present state of affairs [not only 
sensing, but knowing perfectly well that this problem would seem 
less difficult to the workers than to those "Economist" intellectuals 
who are concerned about little children, for the workers are pre- 
pared to fight even for demands which, to use the language of the 
never-to-be-forgotten Martynov, do not "promise palpable results"] 
and lacking the patience to wait until the working class has accumu- 
lated forces for this struggle, Iskra begins to seek for allies in the 
ranks of the liberals and intelligentsia." 

Yes, yes, we have indeed lost all "patience" to "wait" for the blessed 
time that has long been promised us by the "conciliators," when the Eco- 
nomists will stop throwing the blame for their on*n backwardness upon the 

* Lack of space has prevented us from replying in full, in Iskra, to this letter, 
which is extremely characteristic of the Economists. We were very glad this 
letter appeared, for the charges brought against Iskra, that it did not maintain 
a consistent, class point of view, have reached us long ago from various sources, 
and we have been waiting for an appropriate opportunity, or for a formulated 
expression of this fashionable charge, to reply to it. And it is our habit to reply 
to attacks not by defence, but by counter-attacks. 


212 V. I. LENIN 

workers, and stop justifying their own lack of energy by the alleged lack 
offerees among the workers. We ask our Economists: what does "the work- 
ing class accumulating forces for this struggle" mean? Is it not evident 
that it means the political training of the workers, revealing to them all 
the aspects of our despicable autocracy? And is it not clear that precisely 
for this work we need "allies in the ranks of the liberals and intelligentsia,*' 
who are prepared to join us in the exposure of the political attack on the 
Zemstvo, on the teachers, on the statisticians, on the students, etc.? Is 
this "cunning mechanism" so difficult to understand after all? Has not 
P. B. Axelrod repeated to you over and over again since 1897: "The prob- 
lem of the Russian Social-Democrats acquiring direct and indirect allies 
among the non-proletarian classes will be solved principally by the charac- 
ter of the propagandist activities conducted among the proletariat itself?" 
And Martynov and the other Economists continue to imagine that the work- 
ers must first accumulate forces (for trade union politics) "in the economic 
struggle against the employers and the government," and then "go over" 
(we suppose from trade union "training for activity") to Social-Democrat- 
ic activity. 

". . . In its quest," continue the Economists, "Iskra not infre- 
quently departs from the class point of view, obscures class antago- 
nisms and puts into the forefront the general character of the pre- 
vailing discontent with the government, notwithstanding the fact 
that the causes and the degree of this discontent vary very consid- 
erably among the 'allies,' Such, for example, is Iskra's attitude 
towards the Zemstvo. ..." 

Iskra, it is alleged, "promises the nobility, who are discontented with 
the government's doles, the aid of the working class, but does not say a 
word about the class differences among these strata of the people." If the 
reader will turn to the series of articles "The Autocracy and the Zemstvo" 
(Nos. 2 and 4 of Iskra), to which, in all probability, the authors of the let- 
ter refer, he will find that these articles* deal with the attitude of the gov- 
ernment towards the "mild agitation of the feudal-bureaucratic Zemstvo, " 
and towards the "independent activity of even the propertied classes." 
In these articles it is stated that the workers cannot look on indifferently 
while the government is carrying on a fight against the Zemstvo, and the 
supporte sof the Zemstvo are called upon to give up making pretty speech- 
es, and to speak firmly and resolutely when revolutionary Social-Democracy 
confronts the government in all its strength. What there is in this that the 
authors of the letter do not agree with is not clear. Do they think that the 
workers will "not understand" the phrases "propertied classes" and "feudal- 
bureaucratic Zemstvo"? Do they think that stimulating the Zemstvo 

* And among these articles there was one (lekra, No. 3) especially dealing 
with the class antagonisms in the countryside. [See "The Workers' Party and the 
Peasantry," Lenin, Selected Works, Eng. ed. f Vol. II, p. 234. Ed.] 


to abandon pretty speeches and to speak firmly and resolutely is "overesti- 
mating ideology"? Do they imagine that the workers can "accumulate 
forces" for the fight against absolutism if they know nothing about the 
attitude of absolutism towards the Zemstvo? All this remains unknown. 
One thing alone is clear and that is that the authors of the letter have a 
very vague idea of what the political tasks of Social-Democracy are. This 
is revealed still more clearly by their remark: "Such also [i.e., also 
"obscures class antagonisms"] is Iskra's attitude towards the student move- 
ment." Instead of calling upon the workers to declare by means of 
public demonstrations that the real centre of unbridled violence and out- 
rage is not the students but the Russian government (Iskra, No. 2),* we 
should, no doubt, have inserted arguments in the spirit of Rabochaya 
Mysl! And such ideas were expressed by Social-Democrats in the autumn 
of 1901, after the events of February and March, on the eve of a fresh re- 
vival of the student movement, which revealed that even in this sphere 
the "spontaneous" protest against the autocracy is outstripping the con- 
scious Social-Democratic leadership of the movement. The spontaneous 
striving of the workers to defend the students who were beaten up by 
the police and the Cossacks is outstripping the conscious activity of the 
Social-Democratic organizations. 

"And yet in other articles," continue the authors of the letter, "Iskra 
condemns all compromises, and defends, for example, the intolerant con- 
duct of the Guesdites." We would advise those who usually so conceited- 
ly and frivolously declare in connection with the disagreements existing 
among the contemporary Social-Democrats that the disagreements are 
unimportant and would not justify a split, to ponder very deeply ovej; these 
words. Is it possible for those who say that we have done astonishingly 
little to explain the hostility of the autocracy towards the various classes, 
and to inform the workers of the opposition of the various strata of the pop- 
ulation towards the autocracy, to work successfully in the same organ- 
ization with those who say that such work is a "compromise" evi- 
dently a compromise with the theory of the "economic struggle against 
the employers and the government?" 

We urged the necessity of introducing the class struggle in the rural 
districts on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the emancipation 
of the peasantry (No. 3)** and spoke of the irreconcilability between the 
local government bodies and the autocracy in connection with Witte's 
secret memorandum. (No. 4.) We attacked the feudal landlords and the 
government which served the latter on the occasion of the passing of the 
new law (No. 8),*** and welcomed the illegal Zemstvo congress that was 
held. We urged the Zemstvo to stop making degrading petitions (No. 8), 
and to come out and fight. We encouraged the students, who had begun 

* See Lenin, Collected Works, Eng. ed., Vol. IV, Book I, p. 70. Ed. 
** Ibid., p. 101. Ed. 
p. 176. tfd. 

214 V. I. LENIN 

to understand the need for the political struggle and to take up that Strug, 
gle (No. 3) and, at the same time, we lashed out at the "barbarous lack 
of understanding*' revealed by the adherents of the "purely student" 
movement, who called upon the students to abstain from taking part 
in the street demonstrations (No. 3, in connection with the manifesto is- 
sued by the Executive Committee of the Moscow students on February 25). 
We exposdd the "senseless dreams" and the "lying hypocrisy" of the cun- 
ning liberals of Rossiya (Russia, No. 5) and at the same time we commented 
on the fury with which "peaceful writers, aged professors, scientists 
and well-known liberal Zemstvo-ites were handled in the government's 
mental dungeons." (No. 5, "A Police Raid on Literature.") We exposed 
the real significance of the program of "state concern for the welfare of the 
workers," and welcomed the "valuable admission" that "it is better by 
granting reforms from above to forestall the demand for such reforms from 
below, than to wait for those demands to be put forward." (No. 6.)* 
We encouraged the protests of the statisticians (No. 7), and censured the 
strike-breaking statisticians. (No 9.) He who sees in these tactics the ob- 
scuring of the class consciousness of the proletariat and compromise with 
liberalism shows that he absolutely fails to understand the true significance 
of the program of the Credo and is carrying out that program de facto , how- 
ever much he may deny this {Because by that he drags Social-Democracy 
towards the "economic struggle against the employers and the government" 
but yields to liberalism, abandons the task of actively intervening in 
every "liberal" question and of defining his own Social-Democratic atti- 
tude towards such questions. 

F. Again "Slanderers," Again "Mystifiers" 

These polite expressions were uttered by Raboclieye Dyelo which 
in this way answers our charge that it "indirectly prepared the 
ground for converting the labour movement into an instrument of 
bourgeois democracy." In its simplicity of heart Rabocheye Dyelo 
decided that this accusation was nothing more than a polemical sally, as 
if to say, these malicious doctrinaires can only think of saying unpleasant 
things about us; now what can be more unpleasant than being an instru- 
ment of bourgeois democracy? And so they print in heavy type a "refuta- 
tion": "nothing but downright slander" (Two Congresses, p. 30), "mystifica- 
tion" (p. 31), "masquerade" (p. 33). Like Jupiter, Rabocheye Dyelo (al- 
though it has little resemblance to Jupiter) is angry because it is wrong, and 
proves by its hasty abuse that it is incapable of understanding its oppo- 
nents ' mode of reasoning. And yet, with only a little reflection it would 
have understood why all worship of the spontaneity of the mass movement 
and any degrading of Social-Democratic politics to trade union politics 

* Ibid., p. 164. Ed. 


mean precisely preparing the ground for converting the labour movement 
into an instrument of bourgeois democracy. The spontaneous labour move- 
ment by itself is able to create (and inevitably will create) only trade union- 
ism, and working-class trade union politics are precisely working-class 
bourgeois politics. The fact that the working class participates in the po- 
litical struggle and even in political revolution does not in itself make its 
politics Social-Democratic politics. 

JRabocheye Dyelo imagines that bourgeois democracy in Russia is merely 
a "phantom" * (T wo Congresses, p. 32). Happy people! Like the ostrich, they 
bury their heads in the sand, and imagine that everything around has disap- 
peared. A number of liberal publicists who month after month proclaimed 
to the world their triumph over the collapse and even disappearance of Marx- 
ism; a number of liberal newspapers (S. Peterburgskiye Vyedomosti [St. 
Petersburg News], Russkiye Vyedomosti and many others) which encouraged 
the liberals who bring to the workers the Brentano conception of the class 
struggle and the trade union conception of politics; the galaxy of critics 
of Marxism, whose real tendencies were so very well disclosed by the Credo 
and whose literary products alone circulate freely in Russia, the animation 
among revolutionary non-Social-Democratic tendencies, particularly after 
the February and March events all these, of course, are mere phantoms! 
All these, of course, have nothing at all to do with bourgeois democracy! 

Rabocheye Dyelo and the authors of the Economist letter published in 
Iskra, No. 12, should "ponder over the reason why the events in the spring 
excited such animation among the revolutionary non- Social-Democratic 
tendencies instead of increasing the authority and the prestige of Social-De- 
mocracy." The reason was that we failed to cope with our tasks. The masses 
of the workers proved to be more active than we; we lacked adequatelyx 
trained revolutionary leaders and organizers aware of the mood prevailing 
among all the opposition strata and able to march at the head of the move- 
ment, convert the spontaneous demonstrations into a political demonstra- 
tion, broaden its political character, etc. Under such circumstances, our 
backwardness will inevitably be utilized by the more mobile and more 
energetic non-Social-Democratic revolutionaries, and the workers, no mat- 
ter how strenuously and self-sacrificingly they may fight the police and the 
troops, no matter how revolutionary they may act, will prove to be merely 
a force supporting these revolutionaries, the rearguard of bourgeois democra- 
cy, and not the Social-Democratic vanguard. Take, for example, the Ger- 

* Then follows a reference to the "concrete Russian conditions which fatal- 
istically impel the labour movement onto the revolutionary path." But these 
people refuse to understand that the revolutionary path of the labour movement 
might not be a Social-Democratic path! When absolutism reigned in Western 
Europe, the entire West European bourgeoisie "impelled," and deliberately 
impelled, the workers onto the path of revolution. We Social-Democrats, however, 
cannot be satisfied with that. And if we, by any means whatever, degrade 
Social-Democratic politics to the level of spontaneous trade union politics, we, 
by that, play into the hands of bourgeois democracy. 

216 V. I. LENIN 

man Social-Democrats, whose weak sides alone our Economists desire to 
emulate. Why is it that not a single political event takes place in Germany 
without adding to the authority and prestige of Social-Democracy? Because 
Social-Democracy is always found to be in advance of all others in its rev- 
olutionary estimation of every event and in its championship of every pro- 
test against tyranny. It does not soothe itself by arguments about the econ- 
omic struggle bringing the workers up against their own lack of rights, and 
about concrete conditions fatalistically impelling the labour movement on- 
to the path of revolution. It intervenes in every sphere and in every question 
of social and political life: in the matter of Wilhelm's refusal to endorse a 
bourgeois progressive as city mayor (our Economists have not yet managed 
to convince the Germans that this in fact is a compromise with liberalism!); 
in the question of the law against the publication of "immoral" publica- 
tions and pictures; in the question of the government influencing the election 
of professors, etc., etc. Everywhere Social-Democracy is found to be ahead 
of all others, rousing political discontent among all classes, rousing the 
sluggards, pushing on the laggards and providing a wealth of material for 
the development of the political consciousness and political activity of the 
proletariat. The result of all this is that even the avowed enemies of So- 
cialism are filled with respect for this advanced political fighter, and some- 
times an important document from bourgeois and even from bureaucratic 
and Court circles makes its way by some miraculous means into the edito- 
rial office of V or warts. 



Rabocheye Dyelo's assertions which we have analysed that the 
economic struggle is the most widely applicable means of political agita- 
tion and that our task now is to lend the economic struggle itself a political 
character, etc., not only express a narrow view of our political tasks, but 
&ho of OUT organizational tasks. The "economic struggle against the employ- 
ers and the government" does not in the least require and therefore such a 
struggle can never give rise to an all- Russian centralized organization 
that will combine, in a general attack, all the numerous manifestations of 
political opposition, protest and indignation, an organization that will con- 
sist of professional revolutionaries and be led by the real political leaders 
of the whole of the people. And this can be easily understood. The character 
of the organization of every institution is naturally and inevitably deter- 
mined by the character of the activity that institution conducts. Conse- 
quently, Rabocheye Dyelo, by the above- analysed assertions, not only sanc- 
tifies and legitimatizes the narrowness of political activity, but also the 
narrowness of organizational work. And in this case also, as always, it is an 


organ whose consciousness yields to spontaneity. And yet the worship of 
spontaneously rising forms of organization, the lack of appreciation of 
the narrowness and primitiveness of our organizational work, of the degree 
to which we still work by "kiistar* methods" in this most important sphere, 
the lack of such appreciation, I say, is a very serious complaint from which 
our movement suffers. It is not a complaint that comes with decline, of 
course, it is a complaint that comes with growth. But it is precisely at the 
present time, when the wave of spontaneous indignation is, as it were, wash- 
ing over us, leaders and organizers of the movement, that a most irrec- 
oncilable struggle must be waged against all defence of sluggishness, 
against any legitimization of restriction in this matter, and it is particularly 
necessary to rouse in all those participating in the practical work, in all who 
are just thinking of taking it up, discontent with the primitive methods 
that prevail among us and an unshakable determination to get rid of them. 

A. What Are Primitive Methods'? 

We shall try to answer this question by giving a brief description of the 
activity of a typical Social-Democratic circle of the period of 1894-1901. 
We have already referred to the widespread interest in Marxism by the stu- 
dent youth in that period. Of course, these students were not only, or even 
not so much, absorbed in Marxism as a theory, but as an answer to the ques- 
tion: "what is to be done?"; as a call to march against the enemy. And these 
new warriors marched to battle with astonishingly primitive equipment and 
training. In a vast number of cases, they had almost no equipment and abso- 
lutely no training. They marched to war like peasants from the plough, 
snatching up a club. A students' circle having no contacts with the old 
members of the movement, no contacts with circles in other districts, or 
even in other parts of the same city (or with other schools), without the 
various sections of the revolutionary work being in any way organized, hav- 
ing no systematic plan of activity covering any length of time, establishes 
contacts with the workers and sets to work. The circle gradually expands its 
propaganda and agitation; by its activities it wins the sympathies of a 
rather large circle of workers and of a certain section of the educated classes, 
which provides it with money and from which the "committee" recruits 
new groups of young people. The charm which the committee (or the 
League of Struggle) exercises on the youth increases, its sphere of activity 
becomes wider and its activities expand quite spontaneously: the very peo- 
ple who a year or a few months previously had spoken at the gatherings of 
the students 1 circle and discussed the question, "whither?" who established 
and maintained contacts with the workers, wrote and published leaflets, 
now establish contacts with other groups of revolutionaries, procure litera- 
ture, set to work to establish a local newspaper, begin to talk about organiz- 

* Kustars handicraftsmen employing primitive methods in their work. Ed. 

218 V. I. LENIN 

ing demonstrations, and finally, commence open hostilities (these open 
hostilities may, according to circumstances, take the form of the publica- 
tion of the very first agitational leaflet, or the first newspaper, or of the 
organization of the first demonstration). And usually the first action ends 
in immediate and wholesale arrests. Immediate and wholesale, precisely 
because these open hostilities were not the result of a systematic and care- 
fully thougjit-out and gradually prepared plan for a prolonged and stubborn 
struggle, but simply the result of the spontaneous growth of traditional 
circle work; because, naturally, the police, in almost every case, knew the 
principal leaders of the local movement, for they had already "recommend- 
ed" themselves to the police in their school-days, and the latter only wait- 
ed for a convenient moment to make their raid. They gave the circle suf- 
ficient time to develop its work so that they might obtain a palpable 
corpus delicti ,* and always allowed several of the persons known to them 
to remain at liberty in order to act as "decoys" (which, I believe, is the 
technical term used both by our people and by the gendarmes). One cannot 
help comparing this kind of warfare with that conducted by a mob of peas- 
ants armed with clubs against modern troops. One can only express astonish- 
ment at the virility displayed by the movement which expanded, grew and 
won victories in spite of the total lack of training among the fighters. It is 
true that from the historical point of view, the primitiveness of equipment 
was not only inevitable at first, but even legitimate as one of the conditions 
for the wide recruiting of fighters, but as soon as serious operations com- 
menced (and they commenced in fact with the strikes in the summer of 1896), 
the defects in our fighting organizations made themselves felt to an increas- 
ing degree. Thrown into confusion at first and committing a number of 
mistakes (for example, its appeal to the public describing the misdeeds of 
the Socialists, or the deportation of the workers from the capital to the pro- 
vincial industrial centres), the government very soon adapted itself to the 
new conditions of the struggle and managed to place its perfectly equipped 
detachments of agents provocateurs, spies and gendarmes in the required 
places. Raids became so frequent, affected such a vast number of peo- 
ple and cleared out the local circles so thoroughly that the masses of the 
workers literally lost all their leaders, the movement assumed an incredibly 
sporadic character, and it became utterly impossible to establish continuity 
and coherence in the work. The fact that the local active workers were hope- 
lessly scattered, the casual manner in which the membership of the circles 
was recruited, the lack of training in and narrow outlook on theoretical, 
political and organizational questions were all the inevitable result of the 
conditions described above. Things reached such a pass that in several places 
the workers, because of our lack of stamina and ability to maintain secrecy, 
began to lose faith in the intelligentsia and to avoid them; the intellectuals, 
they said, are much too careless and lay themselves open to police raids! 
Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the movement knows that 

* Offence within the meaning of the law. Ed. 


these primitive methods at last began to be recognized as a disease by all 
thinking Social-Democrats. And in order that the reader who is not acquaint- 
ed with the movement may have no grounds for thinking that we are 
"inventing" a special stage or special disease of the movement, we shall refer 
once again to the witness we have already quoted. No doubt we shall be 
excused for the length of the passage quoted: 

"While the gradual transition to wider practical activity, "writes 
B v in Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 6, "a transition which is closely 
connected with the general transitional period through which the 
Russian labour movement is now passing, is a characteristic fea- 
ture . . . there is, however, another and not less interesting feature 
in the general mechanism of the Russian workers' revolution. We 
refer to the general lack of revolutionary forces fit for action* which is 
felt not only in St. Petersburg, but throughout the whole of Russia. 
With the general revival of the labour movement, with the general 
development of the working masses, with the growing frequency of 
strikes, and with the mass labour struggle becoming more and more 
open, which intensifies government persecution, arrests, deportation 
and exile, this lack of highly skilled revolutionary forces is becoming 
more and more marked and, without a doubt, must affect the depth and 
the general character of the movement. Many strikes take place without 
the revolutionary organizations exercising any strong and direct 
influence upon them. ... A shortage of agitational leaflets and ille- 
gal literature is felt. . . . The workers' circles are left without agita- 
tors. . . . Simultaneously, there is a constant shortage of funds. In a 
word, the growth of the labour movement is outstripping the growth and 
development of the revolutionary organizations. The numerical strength 
of the active revolutionaries is too small to enable them to con- 
centrate in their own hands all the influence exercised upon the whole 
mass of labour now in a state of unrest, or to give this unrest even 
a shadow of symmetry and organization. . . . Separate circles, indi- 
vidual revolutionaries, scattered, uncombined, do not represent a 
united, strong and disciplined organization with the planned devel- 
opment of its parts. ..." 

Admitting that the immediate organization of fresh circles to take the 
place of those that have been broken up "merely proves the virility of the 
movement . . . but does not prove the existence of an adequate number 
of sufficiently fit revolutionary workers," the author concludes: 

"The lack of practical training among the St. Petersburg revolu- 
tionaries is seen in the results of their work. The recent trials, espe- 
cially that of the "Self- Emancipation Group" and the "Labour versus 
Capital Group," clearly showed that the young agitator, unacquaint- 

* A.11 italics ours. 

220 V. I. LENDS 

ed with the details of the conditions of labour and, consequently, 
unacquainted with the conditions under which agitation must be 
carried on in a given factory, ignorant of the principles of conspiracy, 
and understanding only the general principles of Social-Democracy 
[and it is questionable whether he understands them] is able to carry 
on his work for perhaps four, five or six months. Then come arrests, 
which frequently lead to the break-up of the whole organization, or 
at all events, of part of it. The question arises, therefore, can the group 
conduct successful and fruitful activity if its existence is measured 
by months? Obviously, the defects of the existing organizations can- 
not be wholly ascribed to the transitional period. . . . Obviously, the 
numerical and above all the qualitative strength of the organizations 
operating is not of little importance, and the first task our Social- 
Democrats must undertake ... is effectively to combine the organiza- 
tions and make a strict selection of their membership." 

B. Primitive Methods and Economism 

We must now deal with the question that has undoubtedly arisen in the 
mind of every reader. Have these primitive methods, which are a complaint 
of growth affecting the whole of the movement, any connection with Econ- 
omism, which is only one of the tendencies in Russian Social-Democracy? 
We think that they have. The lack of practical training, the lack of ability 
to carry on organizational work is certainly common to us all, including 
those who have stood unswervingly by the point of view of revolutionary 
Marxism from the very outset. And, of course, no one can blame the prac- 
tical workers for their lack of practical training. But the term "primitive 
methods" embraces something more than mere lack of training: it means the 
restrictedness of revolutionary work generally, the failure to understand 
that a good organization of revolutionaries cannot be built up on the basis 
of such restricted work, and lastly and most important it means the 
attempts to justify this restrictedness and to elevate it to a special "theory" 
i.e., bowing in worship to spontaneity in this matter also. As soon as 
such attempts were observed, it became certain that primitive methods are 
connected with Economism and that we shall never eliminate this restrict- 
edness of our organizational activity until we eliminate Economism gen- 
erally (i.e., the narrow conception of Marxian theory, of the role of Social- 
Democracy and of its political tasks). And these attempts were revealed in a 
twofold direction. Some began to say: the labour masses themselves have 
not yet brought forward the broad and militant political tasks that the revo- 
lutionaries desire to "impose" upon them; they must continue for the time 
being to fight for immediate political demands, to conduct "the economic 
struggle against the employers and the government" * (and, naturally, cor- 

* Rabochaya Mysl and Rdbocheye Dyelo, especially the Reply to Plekhanov. 


responding to this struggle which is "easily understood" by the mass 
movement there must be an organization that will be "easily understood'* 
by the most untrained youth). Others, far removed from "gradualness," 
began to say: it is possible and necessary to "bring about a political 
revolution," but this is no reason whatever for building a strong organiza- 
tion of revolutionaries to train the proletariat in the steadfast and stub- 
born struggle. All we need do is to snatch up our old friend, the "handy" 
wooden club. Speaking without metaphor it means we must organize a 
general strike,* or we must stimulate the "spiritless" progress of the 
labour movement by means of "excitative terror."** Both these 
tendencies, the opportunist and the "revolutionary," bow to the prevail- 
ing primitiveness; neither believes that it can be eliminated, neither 
understands our primary and most imperative practical task, namely, to 
establish an organization of revolutionaries capable of maintaining the 
energy, the stability and continuity of the political struggle. 

We have just quoted the words of B v: "The growth of the labour move- 
ment is outstripping the growth and development of the revolutionary 
organizations." This "valuable remark of a close observer" (Eabocheye 
Dyelo's comment on B v's article) has a twofold value for us. It proves 
that we were right in our opinion that the principal cause of the present 
crisis in Russian Social-Democracy is that the leaders ("ideologists," revo- 
lutionaries, Social-Democrats) lag behind the spontaneous upsurge of the 
masses. It shows that all the arguments advanced by the authors of the 
Economist letter in Iskra y No. 12, by B. Krichevsky and by Martynov, 
about the dangers of belittling the significance of the spontaneous elements, 
about the drab every-day struggle, about the tactics-as-a-process, etc., are 
nothing more than a glorification and defence of primitive methods. These 
people who cannot pronounce the word "theoretician" without a contemp- 
tuous grimace, who describe their genuflections to common lack of train- 
ing and ignorance as "sensitiveness to life," reveal in practice a failure to 
understand our most imperative practical task.To laggards they shout: Keep 
in step! Don't run aheadl To people suffering from a lack of energy and ini- 
tiative in organizational work, from lack of "plans" for wide and bold or- 
ganizational work, they shout about the "tactics-as-a-process "I The most 
serious sin we commit is that we degrade our political and organizational 
tasks to the level of the immediate, "palpable," "concrete" interests of the 
every-day economic struggle; and yet they keep singing to us the old song: 
lend the economic struggle itself a political character. We say again: this 
kind of thing displays as much "sensitiveness to life" as was displayed by 
the hero in the popular fable who shouted to a passing funeral procession: 
many happy returns of the dayl 

* Sec "Who Will Bring About the Political Revolution" in the symposium 
published in Russia, entitled The Proletarian Struggle. Re-issued by the Kiev 

** Regeneration of Revolutionism and Svoboda. 

222 y. I. LENIN 

Recall the matchless, truly "Narcissus"-like superciliousness with 
which these wiseacres lectured Plekhanov about the "workers * circles gen- 
erally" (ate!) being "incapable of fulfilling political tasks in the real and 
practical sense of the word, i.e., in the sense of the expedient and successful 
practical struggle for political demands." (Rabocheye Dyelo's Reply, p. 24.) 
There are circles and circles, gentlemen! Circles of "kustars," of course, are 
not capable of fulfilling political tasks and never will be, until they realize 
the primitlveness of their methods and abandon it. If, besides this, these 
amateurs are enamoured of their primitive methods, and insist on writing 
the word "practical" in italics, and imagine that being practical demands 
that one's tasks be degraded to the level of understanding of the most back- 
ward strata of the masses, then they are hopeless, of course, and certainly 
cannot fulfil any political tasks. But a circle of heroes like Alexeyev and 
Myshkin, Khalturin and Zhelyabov* is capable of performing political 
tasks in the genuine and most practical sense of the term, and it is capable 
of performing them because and to the extent that their passionate preach- 
ing meets with response among the spontaneously awakening masses, and 
their seething energy is answered and supported by the energy of the revo- 
lutionary class. Plekhanov was a thousand times right not only when he 
pointed to this revolutionary class, not only when he proved that its spon- 
taneous awakening was inevitable, but also when he set the "workers' cir- 
cles" a great and lofty political task. But you refer to the mass movement 
that has sprung up since that time in order to degrade this task, in order to 
curtail the energy and scope of activity of the "workers ' circles." If you are 
not amateurs enamoured of your primitive methods, what are you then? 
You boast that you are practical, but you fail to see what every Russian 
practical worker knows, namely, the miracles that the energy, not only of 
circles, but even of individual persons is able to perform in the revolution- 
ary cause. Or do you think that our movements cannot produce heroes like 
those that were produced by the movement in the 'seventies? If so, why do 
you think so? Because we lack training? But we are training ourselves, will 
go on training ourselves, and acquire the training I Unfortunately it is true 
that scum has formed on the surface of the stagnant waters of the "economic 
struggle against the employers and the government"; there are people among 
us who kneel in prayer to spontaneity, gazing with awe upon the "pos- 
teriors" of the Russian proletariat (as Plekhanov expresses it). But we will 
rid ourselves of this scum. The time has come when Russian revolution- 
aries, led by a genuinely revolutionary theory, relying upon the genuinely 
revolutionary and spontaneously awakening class, can at last at last! 
rise to their full height and exert their giant strength to the utmost. All 
that is required in order that this may be so is that the masses of our prac- 
tical workers, and the still large 4 " masses of those who dream of doing prac- 
tical work even while still at school, shall meet with scorn and ridicule 

* Famous revolutionaries of the 'seventies. Ed. 

WHAT 13 TO BE DONE? 223 

any suggestion that may be made to degrade our political tasks and to re- 
strict the scope of our organizational work. And we shall achieve that, don 't 
you worry, gentlemenl 

But if the reader wishes to see the pearls of "Economist" passion for 
primitive methods, he must, of course, turn from the eclectic and vacillat- 
ing Rabocheye Dyelo to the consistent and determined Rabochaya My si. 
In its Special Supplement, p. 13, R. M. wrote: 

"Now two words about the so-called revolutionary intelligentsia 
proper. It is true that on more than one occasion it proved that it 
was quite prepared to 'enter into determined battle with tsarisml' 
The unfortunate thing, however, is that, ruthlessly persecuted by the 
political police, our revolutionary intelligentsia imagined that the 
struggle with this political police was the political struggle with the 
autocracy. That is why, to this day, it cannot understand 'where the 
forces for the fight against the autocracy are to be obtained.'" 

What matchless and magnificent contempt for the struggle with the 
police this worshipper (in the worst sense of the word) of the spontaneous 
movement displays, does he not? He is prepared to justify our inability to 
organize secretly by the argument that with the spontaneous growth of the 
mass movement, it is not at all important for us to fight against the politi- 
cal police!! Not many would agree to subscribe to this monstrous conclu- 
sion; our defects in revolutionary organization have become too urgent a 
matter to permit them to do that. And if Martynov, for example, would 
refuse to subscribe to it, it would only be because he is unable, or lacks the 
courage, to think out his ideas to their logical conclusion. Indeed, does the 
"task" of prompting the masses to put forward concrete demands promising 
palpable results call for special efforts to create a stable, centralized, mili- 
tant organization of revolutionaries? Cannot such a "task" be carried out 
even by masses who do not "struggle with the political police"? Moreover, 
can this task be fulfilled unless, in addition to the few leaders, it is under- 
taken by the workers (the overwhelming majority), who in fact are inca- 
pable of "fighting against the political police"? Such workers, average 
people of the masses, are capable of displaying enormous energy and self- 
sacrifice in strikes and in street battles with the police and troops, and 
are capable (in fact, are alone capable) of determining the whole outcome of 
our movement but the struggle against the political police requires special 
qualities; it requires professional revolutionaries. And we must not only 
see to it that the masses "advance" concrete demands, but also that the 
masses of the workers "advance" an increasing number of such professional 
revolutionaries from their own ranks. Thus we have reached the question 
of the relation between an organization of professional revolutionaries and 
the pure and simple labour movement. Although this question has found 
little reflection in literature, it has greatly engaged us "politicians" in con- 
versations and controversies with those comrades who gravitate more or less 

224 V. I. LENIN 

towards Economism. It is a question that deserves special treatment. But 
before taking it up we shall deal with one other quotation in order to il- 
lustrate the position we hold in regard to the connection between primi- 
tiveness and Economism. 

In his Reply, N. N. wrote: "The 'Emancipation of Labour Group* de- 
mands direct struggle against the government without first considering 
where the material forces for this struggle are to be obtained, and without 
indicating 'the path of the struggle.'" Emphasizing the last words, the 
author adds the following footnote to the word "path": "This cannot be ex- 
plained by the conspiratorial aims pursued, because the program does not re- 
fer to secret plotting but to a mass movement. The masses cannot proceed by 
secret paths. Can we conceive of a secret strike? Can we conceive of secret 
demonstrations and petitions?" (Vademecum, p. 59.) Thus, the author ap- 
proaches quite closely to the question of the "material forces" (organizers of 
strikes and demonstrations) and to the "paths" of the struggle, but, never- 
theless, is still in a state of consternation, because he "worships" the mass 
movement, i.e., he regards it as something that relieves us of the necessity 
of carrying on revolutionary activity and not as something that should em- 
bolden us and stimulate our revolutionary activity. Secret strikes are im- 
possible for those who take a direct and immediate part in them, but a 
strike may remain (and in the majority of cases does remain) a "secret" 
to the masses of the Russian workers, because the government takes care to 
cut all communication between strikers, takes care to prevent all news of 
strikes from spreading. Now here indeed is a special "struggle with the 
political police" required, a struggle that can never be conducted by such 
large masses as usually take part in strikes. Such a struggle must be organ- 
ized, according to "all the rules of the art," by people who are professionally 
engaged in revolutionary activity. The fact that the masses are spontane- 
ously entering the movement does not make the organization of this strug- 
gle less necessary. On the contrary, it makes it more necessary; for we Social- 
ists would be failing in our duty to the masses if we did not prevent the 
police from making a secret of (and if we did not ourselves sometimes se- 
cretly prepare) every strike and every demonstration. And we shall succeed 
in doing this, precisely because the spontaneously awakening masses will 
also advance from their own ranks increasing numbers of "professional 
revolutionaries" (that is, if we are not so foolish as to advise the workers 
to keep on marking time.) 

C. Organization of Workers and Organization of Revolutionaries 

It is only natural that a Social-Democrat, who conceives the political 
struggle as being identical with the "economic struggle against the employ- 
ers and the government," should conceive of an "organization of revolu- 
tionaries" as being more or less identical with an "organization of workers." 
And this, in fact, is what actually happens; so that when we talk about 


organization, we literally talk in different tongues. I recall a conversation 
I once had with a fairly consistent Economist, with whom I had not been 
previously acquainted. We were discussing the pamphlet Who Will Make 
the Political Revolution? and we were very soon agreed that the principal 
defect in that brochure was that it ignored the question of organization. We 
were beginning to think that we were in complete agreement with each 
other but as the conversation proceeded, it became clear that we were 
talking of different things. My interlocutor accused the author of the bro- 
chure just mentioned of ignoring strike funds, mutual aid societies, etc.; 
whereas I had in mind an organization of revolutionaries as an essential 
factor in "making" the political revolution. After that became clear, I hard- 
ly remember a single question of importance upon which I was in agree- 
ment with that Economist 1 

What was the source of our disagreement? The fact that on questions of 
organization and politics the Economists are forever lapsing from Social- 
Democracy into trade unionism. The political struggle carried on by the 
Social-Democrats is far more extensive and complex than the economic 
struggle the workers carry on against the employers and the government. 
Similarly (and indeed for that reason), the organization of a revolutionary 
Social-Democratic Party must inevitably differ from the organizations of 
the workers designed for the latter struggle. A workers' organization must 
in the first place be a trade organization; secondly, it must be as wide as pos- 
sible; and thirdly, it must be as public as conditions will allow (here, and 
further on, of course, I have only autocratic Russia in mind). On the other 
hand, the organizations of revolutionaries must consist first and foremost 
of people whose profession is that of a revolutionary (that is why I speak of 
organizations of revolutionaries, meaning revolutionary Social-Democrats). 
In view of this common feature of the members of such an organization, 
all distinctions as between workers and intellectuals, and certainly distinctions 
of trade and profession, must be obliterated. Such an organization must 
of necessity be not too extensive and as secret as possible. Let us examine 
this threefold distinction. 

In countries where political liberty exists the distinction between a 
trade union and a political organization is clear, as is the distinction be- 
tween trade unions and Social-Democracy. The relation of the latter to the 
former will naturally vary in each country according to historical, legal 
and other conditions it may be more or less close or more or less 
complex (in our opinion it should be as close and simple as possible); but 
trade union organizations are certainly not in the least identical with the 
Social-Democratic Party organizations in free countries. In Russia, how- 
ever, the yoke of autocracy appears at first glance to obliterate all distinc- 
tions between a Social-Democratic organization and trade unions, because 
all workers' associations and all circles are prohibited, and because the 
principal manifestation and weapon of the workers' economic struggle 
the strike is regarded as a criminal offence (and sometimes even as a polit- 


226 V. I. LENIN 

ical offence!). Conditions in our country, therefore, strongly "impel" the 
workers who are conducting the economic struggle to concern themselves 
with political questions. They also "impel" the Social-Democrats to con- 
fuse trade unionism with Social-Democracy (and our Krichevskys, Marty- 
novs and their like, while speaking enthusiastically of the first kind of "im- 
pelling," fail to observe the "impelling" of the second kind). Indeed, picture 
to yourselves the people who are immersed ninety-nine per cent in "the 
economic struggle against the employers and the government." Some of 
them have never, during the whole course of their activity (four to six 
months), thought of the need for a more complex organization of revolution- 
aries, others, perhaps, come across the fairly widely distributed Bernstein- 
ian literature, from which they become convinced of the profound impor- 
tance of the forward march of "the drab every-day struggle." Still others 
are carried away, perhaps, by the seductive idea of showing the world a 
new example of "close and organic contact with the proletarian struggle" 
contact between the trade union and Social-Democratic movements. Such 
people would perhaps argue that the later a country enters into the arena of 
capitalism and, consequently, of the labour movement, the more the 
Socialists in that country may take part in, and support, the trade union 
movement, and the less reason is there for non- Social-Democratic trade 
unions. So far, the argument is absolutely correct; unfortunately, however, 
some go beyond that and hint at the complete fusion of Social-Democracy 
with trade unionism. We shall soon see, from the example of the rules of 
the St. Petersburg League of Struggle, what a harmful effect these dreams 
have upon our plans of organization. 

The workers' organizations for the economic struggle should be trade 
union organizations. Every Social-Democratic worker should as far as 
possible assist and actively work inside these organizations. That is true. 
But it is not to our interest to derrfand that only Social-Democrats should be 
eligible for membership in the trade unions, for this would only restrict our 
influence over the masses. Let every worker who understands the need to 
unite for the struggle against the employers and the government join the 
trade unions. The very aim of the trade unions would be unattainable unless 
they were very wide organizations. And the wider these organizations are, 
the wider our influence over them will be an influence due not only to the 
"spontaneous " development of the economic struggle but also to the direct 
and conscious effort of the Socialist trade union members to influence their 
comrades. But a wide organization cannot apply the methods of strict se- 
crecy (since the latter demands far greater training than is required for the 
economic struggle). How is the contradiction between the need for a large 
membership and the need for strictly secret methods to be reconciled? How 
are we to make the trade unions as public as possible? Generally speaking, 
there are perhaps only two ways to this end: either the trade unions become 
legalized (which in some countries precedes the legalization of the Socialist 
and political unions), or the organization is kept a secret one, but so "free" 


and amorphous, lose as the Germans say, that the need for secret methods 
becomes almost negligible as far as the bulk of the members is concerned. 
The legalization of the non-Socialist and non-political labour unions in 
Russia has already begun, and there is no doubt that every advance our 
rapidly growing Social-Democratic working-class movement makes will 
increase and encourage the attempts at legalization. These attempts pro- 
ceed for the most part from supporters of the existing order, but they will 
proceed also from the workers themselves and from the liberal intellectu- 
als. The banner of legality has already been unfurled by the Vassilyevs and 
the Zubatovs. Support has been promised by theOzerovs and the Wormses, 
and followers of the new tendency are to be found among the workers. Hence- 
forth, we must reckon with this tendency. How are we to reckon with it? 
There can be no two opinions about this among Social-Democrats. We 
must constantly expose any part played in this movement by the Zuba- 
tovs and the Vassilyevs, the gendarmes and the priests, and explain to 
the workers what their real intentions are. We must also expose the concil- 
iatory, "harmonious" undertones that will be heard in the speeches deliv- 
ered by liberal politicians at the legal meetings of the workers, irrespec- 
tive of whether they proceed from an earnest conviction of the desirability 
of peaceful class collaboration, whether they proceed from a desire to curry 
favour with the employers, or are simply the result of clumsiness. We must 
also warn the workers against the traps often set by the police, who at such 
open meetings and permitted societies spy out the "hotheads" and who, 
through the medium of the legal organizations, endeavour to plant their 
agents provocateurs in the illegal organizations. 

But while doing all this, we must not forget that in the long run the 
legalization of the working-class movement will be to our advantage, and 
not to that of the Zubatovs. On the contrary, our campaign of exposure 
will help to separate the tares from the wheat. What the tares are, we 
have already indicated. By the wheat, we mean attracting the attention 
of still larger and more backward sections of the workers to social and 
political questions, and freeing ourselves, the revolutionaries, from func- 
tions which are essentially legal (the distribution of legal books, mutual 
aid, etc.), the development of which will inevitably provide us with an 
increasing quantity of material for agitation. In this sense, we may say, 
and we should say, to the Zubatovs and the Ozerovs: keep at it, gentle- 
men, do your best! W r hen you place a trap in the path of the workers 
(either by way of direct provocation, or by the "honest" corruption of 
the workers with the aid of "Struve-ism"), we shall see to it that you are 
exposed. But whenever you take a real step forward, even if it is the most 
timid zigzag, we shall say: please continue! And the only step that can 
be a real step forward is a real, if small, extension of the workers' field 
of action. Every such extension will be to our advantage and will help 
to hasten the advent of legal societies, not of the kind in which agents 
provocateurs hunt for Socialists, but of the kind in which Socialists will 


228 V. I. LENIN 

hunt for adherents. In a word, our task is to fight down the tares. It is 
not our business to grow wheat in flower pots. By pulling up the tares, 
we clear the soil for the wheat. And while the old-fashioned folk are tend- 
ing their flower-pot crops, we must prepare reapers, not only to cut down 
the tares of today, but also to reap the wheat of to-morrow. 

Legalization, therefore, will not solve the problem of creating a trade 
union organization that will be as public and as extensive as possible 
(but we would be extremely glad if the Zubatovs and the Ozerovs provid- 
ed even a partial opportunity for such a solution to which end we must 
fight them as strenuously as possible!). There only remains the path of 
secret trade union organization; and we must offer all possible assistance 
to the workers, who (as we definitely know) are already adopting this path. 
Trade union organizations may not only be of tremendous value in de- 
veloping and consolidating the economic struggle, but may also become 
a very important auxiliary to political agitation and revolutionary organ- 
ization. In order to achieve this purpose, and in order to guide the nas- 
cent trade union movement in the direction the Social-Democrats desire, 
we must first fully understand the foolishness of the plan of organization 
with which the St. Petersburg Economists have been occupying them- 
selves for nearly five years. That plan is described in the "Rules for a 
Workers' Benefit Fund" of July 1897 (Listok Rabotnika. No. 9-10, p. 46, 
in Bdbochaya Mysl. No. 1), and also in the "Rules for a Trade Union 
Workers' Organization," of October 1900. (Special leaflet printed in 
St. Petersburg and quo ted in Iskra, No. 1.) The fundamental error contained 
in both these sets of rules is that they give a detailed formulation of a 
wide workers' organization and confuse the latter with the organization 
of revolutionaries. Let us take the last-mentioned set of rules, since it 
is drawn up in greater detail. The body of it consists of fifty-two paragraphs. 
Twenty-three paragraphs deal with structure, the method of conducting 
business and the competence of the "workers' circles," which are to be 
organized in every factory ("not more than ten persons") and which elect 
"central (factory) groups." "The central group," says paragraph 2, "observes 
all that goes on in its factory or workshop and keeps a record of events. " 
"The central group presents to subscribers a monthly report on the state 
of the funds" (par. 17), etc. Ten paragraphs are devoted to the "district 
organization," and nineteen to the highly complex interconnection be- 
tween the "Committee of the Workers ' Organization" and the * 6 Committee 
of the St. Petersburg League of Struggle" (delegates from each district 
and from the "executive groups" "groups of propagandists, groups for 
maintaining contact with the provinces and with the organization abroad, 
and for managing stores, publications and funds"). 

Social-Democracy = "executive groups" in relation to the economic 
struggle of the workers 1 It would be difficult to find a more striking illus- 
tration than this of how the Economists' ideas deviate from Social- 
Democracy to trade unionism, and how foreign to them is the idea that 


a Social-Democrat must concern himself first and foremost with an organ- 
ization of revolutionaries, capable of guiding the whole proletarian strug- 
gle for emancipation. To talk of "the political emancipation of the 
working class" and the struggle against "tsarist despotism," and at the same 
time to draft rules like these, indicates a complete failure to understand 
what the real political tasks of Social-Democracy are. Not one of the 
fifty or so paragraphs reveals the slightest glimmer of understanding 
that it is necessary to conduct the widest possible political agitation 
among the masses, an agitation that deals with every phase of Russian 
absolutism and with every aspect of the various social classes in Russia. 
Rules like these are of no use even for the achievement of trade union 
aims, let alone political aims, for that requires organization according 
to trade, and yet the rules do not contain a single reference to this. 

But most characteristic of all, perhaps, is the amazing top-heaviness 
of the whole "system," which attempts to bind every factory with the 
"committee" by a permanent string of uniform and ludicrously petty 
rules and a three-stage system of election. Hemmed in by the narrow 
outlook of Economism, the mind is lost in details which positively reek 
of red tape and bureaucracy. In practice, of course, three-fourths of the 
clauses are never applied; on the other hand, however, a "conspiratorial" 
organization of this kind, with its central group in each factory, makes 
it very easy for the gendarmes to carry out raids on a large scale. Our 
Polish comrades have already passed through a similar phase in their 
own movement, when everybody was extremely enthusiastic about the 
extensive organization of workers' funds; but they very quickly abandoned 
these ideas when they became convinced that such organizations only 
provided rich harvests for the gendarmes. If we are out for wide workers* 
organizations, and not for wide arrests, if it is not our purpose to provide 
satisfaction to the gendarmes, these organizations must remain abso- 
lutely loose. But will they be able to function? Well, let us see what the 
functions are: "... to observe all that goes on in the factory and keep 
a record of events." (Par. 2 of the Rules.) Do we need a special group for 
this? Could not the purpose be better served by correspondence conduct- 
ed in the illegal papers and without setting up special groups? ". . . to 
lead the struggles of the workers for the improvement of their workshop 
conditions." (Par. 3 of the Rules.) This, too, requires no special group. 
Any agitator with any intelligence at all can gather what demands the 
workers want to advance in the course of ordinary conversation and trans- 
mit them to a narrow not a wide organization of revolutionaries to 
be embodied in a leaflet. ". . . to organize a fund ... to which subscrip- 
tions of two kopeks per ruble* should be made" (par. 9) ... to present 
monthly reports to subscribers on the state of the funds (par. 17) ... to 
expel members who fail to pay their subscriptions (par. 10), and so forth. 

* Of wages earned. Ed. 

230 V. I. LENIN 

Why, this is a very paradise for the police; for nothing would be easier 
than for them to penetrate into the ponderous secrecy of a "central fac- 
tory fund," confiscate the money and arrest the best members. Would it 
not be simpler to issue one-kopek or two-kopek coupons bearing the offi- 
cial stamp of a well-known (very exclusive and very secret) organiza- 
tion, or to make collections without coupons of any kind and to print 
reports in a certain agreed code in the illegal paper? The object would 
thereby be attained, but it would be a hundred times more difficult for 
the gendarmes to pick up clues. 

I could go on analysing the rules, but I think that what has been said 
will suffice. A small, compact core, consisting of reliable, experienced 
and hardened workers, with responsible agents in the principal districts 
and connected by all the rules of strict secrecy with the organizations 
of revolutionaries, can, with the wide support of the masses and without 
an elaborate organization, perform all the functions of a trade union 
organization, and perform them, moreover, in the manner Social-Demo- 
crats desire. Only in this way can we secure the consolidation and devel- 
opment of a Social- Democratic trade union movement, in spite of the 

It may be objected that an organization which is so loose that it is 
not even definitely formed, and which even has no enrolled and regis- 
tered members, cannot be called an organization at all. That may very 
well be. I am not out for names. But this "organization without members" 
can do everything that is required, and will, from the very outset, guar- 
antee the closest contact between our future trade unions and Socialism. 
Only an incorrigible Utopian would want a wide organization of work- 
"ers, with elections, reports, universal suffrage, etc., under the autocracy. 

The moral to be drawn from this is a simple one. If we begin with 
the solid foundation of a strong organization of revolutionaries, we can 
guarantee the stability of the movement as a whole and carry out the aims 
of both Social-Democracy and of trade unionism. If, however, we begin 
with a wide workers' organization, supposed to be most "accessible" to 
the masses, when as a matter of fact it will be most accessible to the 
gendarmes and will make the revolutionaries most accessible to the police, 
we shall achieve the aims neither of Social-Democracy nor of trade union- 
ism; we shall not escape from our primitiveness, and because we con- 
stantly remain scattered and broken up, we shall make only the trade 
unions of the Zubatov and Ozerov type most accessible to the masses. 

What, properly speaking, should be the functions of the organization 
of revolutionaries? We shall deal with this in detail. But first let us exam- 
ine a very typical argument advanced by the terrorist, who (sad fate!) 
in this matter also is a next-door neighbour to the Economist. Svoboda 
j(No. 1), a journal published for workers, contains an article entitled 
"Organization," the author of which tries to defend his friends, the 
Economist workers of Ivanovo-Voznesensk. He writes: 


"It is a bad thing when the crowd is mute and unenlightened, 
and when the movement does not proceed from the rank and file. 
For instance, the students of a university town leave for their 
homes during the summer and other vacations and immediately 
the workers' movement comes to a standstill. Can a workers' move- 
ment which has to be pushed on from outside be a real force? 
Of course not!. . . It has not yet learned to walk, it is still in leading 
strings. So it is everywhere. The students go off, and everything 
comes to a standstill. As soon as the cream is skimmed the milk 
turns sour. If the 'committee' is arrested, everything comes to a 
standstill until a new one can be formed. And one never knows what 
sort of committee will be set up next it may be nothing like the 
former one. The first preached one thing, the second may preach 
the very opposite. The continuity between yesterday and to-morrow 
is broken, the experience of the past does not enlighten the future. 
And all this is because no deep roots have been struck in the crowd; 
because, instead of having a hundred fools at work, we have a dozen 
wise men. A dozen wise men can be wiped out at a snap, but when 
the organization embraces the crowd, everything will proceed from 
the crowd, and nobody, however zealous, can stop the cause." (P. 63.) 
The facts are described correctly. The above quotation presents a 
fairly good picture of our primitive methods. But the conclusions drawn 
from it are worthy of Rabochaya Mysl both for their stupidity and their 
political tactlessness. They represent the height of stupidity, because the 
author confuses the philosophical and social-historical question of the 
"depth" of the "roots" of the movement with the technical and organiza- 
tional question of the best method of fighting the gendarmes. They rep- 
resent the height of political tactlessness, because the author, instead 
of appealing from the bad leaders to the good leaders, appeals from the 
leaders in general to the "crowd." This is as much an attempt to drag 
the movement back organizationally as the idea of substituting excita- 
tive terrorism for political agitation is an attempt to drag it back polit- 
ically. Indeed, I am experiencing a veritable embarras de richesse^, and 
hardly know where to begin to disentangle the confusion Swboda has 
introduced in this subject. For the sake of clarity, I shall begin by quoting 
an example. Take the Germans. It will not be denied, I hope, that the 
German organizations embrace the crowd, that in Germany everything 
proceeds from the crowd, that the working-class movement there has 
learned to walk. Yet observe how this vast crowd of millions values its 
"dozen" tried political leaders, how firmly it clings to them! Members 
of the hostile parties in parliament often tease the Socialists by exclaim- 
ing: "Fine democrats you are indeed! Your movement is a working- 
class movement only in name; as a matter of fact, it is the same clique 
of leaders that is always in evidence, Bebel and Liebknecht, year in 
and year out, and that goes on for decades. Your deputies who are sup- 

232 V. I. LENIN 

posed to be elected from among the workers are more permanent than the 
officials appointed by the Emperor!" But the Germans only smile with 
contempt at these demagogic attempts to set the "crowd" against the 
"leaders," to arouse bad and ambitious instincts in the former, and to 
rob the movement of its solidity and stability by undermining the con- 
fidence of the masses in their "dozen wise men." The political ideas of 
the Germans have already developed sufficiently and they have acquired 
enough political experience to enable them to understand that without 
the "dozen" tried and talented leaders (and talented men are not born 
by the hundred), professionally trained, schooled by long experience 
and working in perfect harmony, no class in modern society is capable 
of conducting a determined struggle. The Germans have had demagogues 
in their ranks who have flattered the "hundred fools," exalted them above 
the "dozen wise men," extolled the "mighty fists" of the masses, and 
(like Most and Hasselmann) have spurred them on to reckless "revolu- 
tionary" action and sown distrust towards the firm and steadfast leaders. 
It was only by stubbornly and bitterly combating every element of dem- 
agogy within the Socialist movement that German Socialism managed 
to grow and become as strong as it is. Our wiseacres, however, at the very 
moment when Russian Social-Democracy is passing through a crisis 
entirely due to our lack of sufficient numbers of trained, developed and 
experienced leaders to guide the spontaneous ferment of the masses, cry 
out with the profundity of fools, "it is a bad thing when the movement 
does not proceed from the rank and file." 

"A committee of students is no good, it is not stable." Quite true. 
But the conclusion that should be drawn from this is that we must have 
a committee of profess ion.a.1 revolutionaries and it does not matter whether 
a student or a worker is capable of qualifying himself as a professional 
revolutionary. The conclusion y&u draw, however, is that the working- 
class movement must not be pushed on from outside! In your political 
innocence you fail to observe that you are playing into the hands of 
our Economists and fostering our primitiveness. In what way, I would 
like to ask, did the students "push on" the workers? Solely by the stu- 
dent bringing to the worker the scraps of political knowledge he himself 
possessed, the crumbs of Socialist ideas he had managed to acquire (for 
the principal intellectual diet of the present-day student, "legal Marx- 
ism," can furnish only the ABC, only the crumbs of knowledge). There 
has never been too much of such "pushing on from outside," on the con- 
trary, so far there has been too little, all too little of it in our movement; 
we have been stewing in our own juice far too long; we have bowed far 
too slavishly before the spontaneous "economic struggle of the workers 
against the employers and the government." We professional revolution- 
aries must make it our business and we will make it our business to 
continue this kind of "pushing" a hundred times more forcibly than we 
have done hitherto. The very fact that you select so despicable a phrase as 


"pushing on from outside" a phrase which cannot but rouse in the work- 
ers (at least in the workers who are as ignorant as you yourselves are) 
a sense of distrust towards all who bring them political knowledge and 
revolutionary experience from outside, and rouse in them an instinctive 
hostility to all such people proves that you are demagogues, and a 
demagogue is the worst enemy of the working class. 

Ohl Don't start howling about my "uncomradely methods" of con- 
troversy. I have not the least intention of casting aspersions upon the 
purity of your intentions. As I have already said, one may become a 
demagogue out of sheer political innocence. But I have shown that you 
have descended to demagogy, and I shall never tire of repeating that 
demagogues are the worst enemies of the working class. They are the worst 
enemies of the working class because they arouse bad instincts in the 
crowd, because the ignorant worker is unable to recognize his enemies 
in men who represent themselves, and sometimes sincerely represent 
themselves, to be his friends. They are the worst enemies of the working 
class because in this period of dispersion and vacillation, when our move- 
ment is just beginning to take shape, nothing is easier than to employ 
demagogic methods to side-track the crowd, which can realize its mis- 
take only by bitter experience. That is why the slogan of the day for 
Russian Social-Democrats must be: resolute opposition to Svoboda and 
Rabocheye Dyelo, both of which have sunk to the level of demagogy. 
We shall return to this subject again.* 

"A dozen wise men can be more easily wiped out than a hundred fools !" 
This wonderful truth (for which the hundred fools will always applaud 
you) appears obvious only because in the very midst of the argument 
you have skipped from one question to another. You began by talking, 
and continued to talk, of wiping out a "committee," of wiping out an 
"organization," and now you skip to the question of getting hold of 
the "roots" of the movement in the "depths." The fact is, of course, 
that our movement cannot be wiped out precisely because it has hundreds 
and hundreds of thousands of roots deep down among the masses; but 
that is not the point we are discussing. As far as "deep roots" are con- 
cerned, we cannot be "wiped out" even now, in spite of all our primitive- 
ness, but we all complain, and cannot but complain, that "organiza- 
tions" are wiped out, with the result that it is impossible to maintain 
continuity in the movement. If you agree to discuss the quest ion of wip- 
ing out the organizations and to stick to that question, then I assert 
that it is far more difficult to wipe out a dozen wise men than a hundred 
fools. And this position I shall defend no matter how much you instigate 

* For the moment we shall observe merely that our remarks on "pushing on 
from outside" and the other views on oiganization expressed by Svoboda apply 
entirely to all the Economists, including the adherents of Rabocheye Dyelo, for 
either they themselves have preached and defended such views on organization, 
or have themselves drifted into them. 

234 V. I. LENIN 

the crowd against me for my "anti-democratic" views, etc. As I have 
already said, by "wise men," in connection with organization, I mean 
professional revolutionaries, irrespective of whether they are trained from 
among students or workingmen. I assert: 1) that no movement can en- 
dure without a stable organization of leaders that maintains continuity; 
2) that the wider the masses spontaneously drawn into the struggle, 
forming the basis of the movement and participating in it, the more 
urgent the need of such an organization, and the more solid this organi- 
zation must be (for it is much easier for demagogues to side-track the more 
backward sections of the masses); 3) that such an organization must 
consist chiefly of people professionally engaged in revolutionary activity; 
4) that in an autocratic state the more we confine the membership of 
such an organization to people who are professionally engaged in rev- 
olutionary activity and who have been professionally trained in the art 
of combating the political police, the more difficult will it be to wipe out 
such an organization, and 5) the greater will be the number of people 
of the working class and of other classes of society who will be able to 
join the movement and perform active work in it. 

I invite our Economists, terrorists and "Economists-terrorists"* to 
confute these propositions. At the moment, I shall deal only with the last 
two points. The question as to whether it is easier to wipe out "a dozen 
wise men" or "a hundred fools" reduces itself to the question we have 
considered above, namely, whether it is possible to have a mass organi- 
zation when the maintenance of strict secrecy is essential. We can never 
give a mass organization that degree of secrecy which is essential for 
the persistent and continuous struggle against the government. But to 
concentrate all secret functions in the hands of as small a number of 
professional revolutionaries as possible does not mean that the latter 
will "do the thinking for all" and that the crowd will not take an active 
part in the movement. On the contrary, the crowd will advance from its 
ranks increasing numbers of professional revolutionaries; for it will know 
that it is not enough for a few students and workingmen, waging econom- 
ic war, to gather together and form a "committee," but that it takes 
years to train oneself to be a professional revolutionary; the crowd will 

* This latter term is perhaps more applicable to Svoboda than the former, 
for in an article entitled "The Regeneration of Revolutionism" it defends terror- 
ism, while in the article at present under review it defends Economism. One 
might say of Svoboda that "it would if it could, but it can't." Its wishes and inten- 
tions are excellent but the result is utter confusion; and this is chiefly due to the 
fact that while Svoboda advocates continuity of organization, it refuses to recog- 
nize the continuity of revolutionary thought and of Social-Democratic theory. 
It wants to revive the professional revolutionary ("The Regeneration of Revolu- 
tionism"), and to that end proposes, first, excitative terrorism, and secondly, 
"the organization of the average worker" (Svoboda, No. 1, p. 66 et seq.) 9 because 
he will be less likely to be "pushed on from outside." In other words, it proposes 
to pull the house down to use the timber for warming it. 


"think" not of primitive methods alone but of this particular type of 
training. The centralization of the secret functions of the organization 
does not mean the centralization of all the functions of the movement. 
The active participation of the broad masses in the dissemination of 
illegal literature will not diminish because a "dozen" professional rev- 
olutionaries centralize the secret part of the work; on the contrary, it 
will increase tenfold. Only in this way will the reading of illegal litera- 
ture, the contribution to illegal literature and to some extent even the 
distribution of illegal literature almost cease to be secret n>ork 9 for the po- 
lice will soon come to realize the folly and futility of setting the whole 
judicial and administrative machine into motion to intercept every copy 
of a publication that is being broadcast in thousands. This applies not only 
to the press, but to every function of the movement, even to demonstra- 
tions. The active and widespread participation of the masses will not 
suffer; on the contrary, it will benefit by the fact that a "dozen" experi- 
enced revolutionaries, no less professionally trained than the police, will 
centralize all the secret side of the work prepare leaflets, work out ap- 
proximate plans and appoint bodies of leaders for each urban district, 
for each factory district and for each educational institution, etc. (I know 
that exception will be taken to my "undemocratic" views, but I shall 
reply fully to this altogether unintelligent objection later on.) The central- 
ization of the more secret functions in an organization of revolutionaries 
will not diminish, but rather increase the extent and quality of the activ- 
ity of a large number of other organizations which are intended for a 
broad public and are therefore as loose and as non-secret as possible, such 
as workers' trade unions, workers' circles for self- education and the read- 
ing of illegal literature, Socialist and democratic circles among all 
other sections of the population, etc., etc. We must have such circles, 
trade unions and organizations everywhere in as large a number as pos- 
sible and with the widest variety of functions; but it would be absurd 
and dangerous to confuse them with the organization of revolutionaries, 
to obliterate the border line between them, to dim still more the masses' 
already incredibly hazy appreciation of the fact that in order to "sen e" the 
mass movement we must have people who will devote themselves exclusive- 
ly to Social-Democratic activities, and that such people must train 
themselves patiently and steadfastly to be professional revolutionaries. 
Aye, this appreciation has become incredibly dim. The most griev- 
ous sin we have committed in regard to organization is that by our 
primitiveness n>e liave lowered the prestige of revolutionaries in Russia. 
A man who is weak and vacillating on theoretical questions, who has 
a narrow outlook, who makes excuses for his own slackness on the ground 
that the masses are awakening spontaneously, who resembles a trade 
union secretary more than a people's tribune, who is unable to conceive 
of a broad and bold plan that would command the respect even of op- 
po-ents and who is inexperienced and clumsy in his own professional 

236 V. I. LENIN 

art the art of combating the political police such a man is not a 
revolutionary but a wretched amateur 1 

Let no active worker take offence at these frank remarks, for as far 
as insufficient training is concerned, I apply them first and foremost to 
myself. I used to work in a circle* that set itself great and all-embracing 
tasks; and every member of that circle suffered to the point of torture 
from the realization that we were proving ourselves to be amateurs at 
a moment in history when we might have been able to say, paraphrasing 
a well-known epigram: "Give us an organization of revolutionaries, and 
we shall overturn the whole of Russia!" And the more I recall the burn- 
ing sense of shame I then experienced, the more bitter are my feelings 
towards those pseudo- Social-Democrats whose teachings "bring disgrace 
on the calling of a revolutionary," who fail to understand that our task 
is not to champion degrading the revolutionary to the level of an ama- 
teur, but to exalt the amateurs to the level of revolutionaries. 

D. The Scope of Organizational Work 

We have already heard from B v about "the lack of revolutionary 
forces fit for action which is felt not only in St. Petersburg, but through- 
out the whole of Russia." No one, we suppose, will dispute this fact. But 
the question is, how is it to be explained? B v writes: 

"We shall not enter in detail into the historical causes of this 
phenomenon; we shall state merely that a society, demoralized 
by prolonged political reaction and split by past and present eco- 
nomic changes, advances from its own ranks an extremely small 
number of persona fit for revolutionary work; that the working class 
does advance from its own ranks revolutionary workers who to 
some extent reinforce the ranks of the illegal organizations, but 
that the number of such revolutionaries is inadequate to meet 
the requirements of the times. This is more particularly the case 
because the worker engaged for eleven and a half hours a day in 
the factory is mainly able to fulfil the functions of an agitator; 
but propaganda and organization, delivery and reproduction of 
illegal literature, issuing leaflets, etc., are duties which must nec- 
essarily fall mainly upon the shoulders of an extremely small 
force of intellectuals." (Eabocheye Dyelo, No. 6, pp. 38-39.) 
There are many points in the above upon which we disagree with B v, 
particularly with those points we have emphasized, and which most 
strikingly reveal that, although weary of our primitive methods (as 
every practical worker who thinks over the position would be), B v 
cannot find the way out of this intolerable situation, because he is so 
ground down by Economism. It is not true to say that society advances 

* Lenin refers to his own work in St. Petersburg in 1893-95. Ed. 


few persons from its ranks fit for "work." It advances very many, but 
we are unable to make use of them all. The critical, transitional state 
of our movement in this connection may be formulated as follows: there 
are no people yet there are enormous numbers of people. There are enormous 
numbers of people, because the working class and the most diverse strata 
of society, year after year, advance from their ranks an increasing num- 
ber of discontented people who desire to protest, who are ready to render 
all the assistance they can in the fight against absolutism, the intolerable- 
ness of which is not yet recognized by all, but is nevertheless more 
and more acutely sensed by increasing masses of the people. At the same 
time we have no people, because we have no leaders, no political leaders, 
we have no talented organizers capable of organizing extensive and at 
the same time uniform and harmonious work that would give employment 
to all forces, even the most inconsiderable. "The growth and develop- 
ment of revolutionary organizations," not only lag behind the growth of 
the labour movement, which even B v admits, but also behind the gen- 
eral democratic movement among all strata of the people (in passing, 
probably B v would now admit this supplement to his conclusion). The 
scope of revolutionary work is too narrow compared with the breadth 
of the spontaneous basis of the movement. It is too hemmed in by the 
wretched "economic struggle against the employers and the govern- 
ment" theory. And yet, at the present time, not only Social-Democratic 
political agitators, but also Social-Democratic organizers must "go among 
all classes of the population."* 

There is hardly a single practical worker who would have any doubt 
about the ability of Social-Democrats to distribute the thousand and one 
minute functions of their organizational work among the various repre- 
sentatives of the most varied classes. Lack of specialization is one of our 
most serious technical defects, about which B v justly and bitterly com- 
plains. The smaller each separate "operation" in our common cause will 
be, the more people we shall find capable of carrying out such operations 
(people, who in the majority of cases, are not capable of becoming profes- 
sional revolutionaries), the more difficult will it be for the police to "net" 
all these "detail workers," and the more difficult will it be for them 
to frame up, out of an arrest for some petty affair, a "case" that would 
justify the government's expenditure on the "secret service." As for the 
number ready to help us, we have already referred in the previous chap- 
ter to the gigantic change that has taken place in this respect in the last 
five years or so. On the other hand, in order to unite all these tiny frac- 

* For example, in military circles an undoubted revival of the democratic 
spirit has recently been observed, partly as a consequence of the frequent street 
fights that now take place against "enemies" like workers and students. And as 
soon as our available forces permit, we must without fail devote serious attention 
to propaganda and agitation among soldiers and officers, and to the creation of 
"military organizations" affiliated to our Party, 

^8 V. I. LENIN 

tions into one whole, in order, in breaking up functions, to avoid breaking 
up the movement, and in order to imbue those who carry out these minute 
functions with the conviction that their work is necessary and important, 
for without this they will never do the work,* it is necessary to have a 
strong organization of tried revolutionaries. The more secret such an or- 
ganization would be, the stronger and more widespread would be the 
confidence -of the masses in the Party, and, as we know, in time of war, 
it is not only of great importance to imbue one's own army with confi- 
dence in its own strength, it is important also to convince the enemy and 
all neutral elements of this strength; friendly neutrality may sometimes 
decide the issue. If such an organization existed, an organization built 
up on a firm theoretical foundation and possessing a Social-Democratic 
journal, we would have no reason to fear that the movement would be 
diverted from its path by the numerous "outside" elements that are at- 
tracted to it. (On the contrary, it is precisely at the present time, when 
primitive methods prevail among us, that many Social-Democrats are 
observed to gravitate towards the Credo, and only imagine that they are 
Social-Democrats.) In a word, specialization necessarily presupposes 
centralization, and in its turn imperatively calls for it. 

But B v himself, who has so excellently described the necessity for 
specialization, underestimates its importance, in our opinion, in the second 
part of the argument that we have quoted. The number of working-class 
revolutionaries is inadequate, he says. This is absolutely true, and once 
again we assert that the "valuable communication of a close observer" fully 
confirms our view of the causes of the present crisis in Social-Democracy, 
and, consequently, confirms our view of the means for removing these 
causes. Not only are revolutionaries lagging behind the spontaneous 
awakening of the masses generajly, but even working-class revolution- 

* I recall the story a comrade related to me of a factory inspector, who, desiring 
to help, and while in fact helping the Social-Democrats, bitterly complained 
that he did not know whether the "information" he sent reached the proper revo- 
lutionary quarter; he did not know how much his help was really required, and 
what possibilities there were for utilizing his small services. Every practical 
worker, of course, knows of more than one case, similar to this, of our primitivencss 
depriving us of allies. And these services, each "small" in itself, but incalculable 
when taken in the mass, could be rendered to us by office employees and officials 
not only in factories, but in the postal service, on the railways, in the Customs, 
among the nobility, among the clergy and every other walk of life, including even 
in the police service and at Court! Had we a real party, a real militant organization 
of revolutionaries, we would not put the question bluntly to every one of these 
"abettors," we would not hasten in every single case to bring them right into 
the very heart of our "illegality," but, on the contrary, we would husband them 
very carefully and would train people especially for such functions, bearing in 
mind the fact that many students could be of much greater service to the Party 
as "abettors" officials than as "short-term" revolutionaries. But, I repeat, 
only an organization that is already established and has no lack of active forces 
would have the right to apply such tactics. 


aries are lagging behind the spontaneous awakening of the working-class 
masses. And this fact most strikingly confirms, even from the "practi- 
cal" point of view, not only the absurdity but even the political reaction- 
ariness of the "pedagogics" to which we are so often treated when discussing 
our duties to the workers. This fact proves that our very first and most 
imperative duty is to help to train working-class revolutionaries who will 
be on the same level in regard to Party activity as the revolutionaries from 
amongst the intellectuals (we emphasize the words "in regard to Party 
activity," because although it is necessary, it is not so easy and not so 
imperative to bring the workers up to the level of intellectuals in other 
respects). Therefore, attention must be devoted principally to the task 
of raising the workers to the level of revolutionaries, and not to degrading 
ourselves to the level of the "labour masses" as the Economists wish to 
do, or necessarily to the level of the "average worker," as Svoboda desires 
to do (and by this raises itself to the second grade of Economist "peda- 
gogics"). I am far from denying the necessity for popular literature for 
the workers, and especially popular (but, of course, not vulgar) literature 
for the especially backward workers. But what annoys me is that pedagog- 
ics is constantly confused with questions of politics and organization. 
You, gentlemen, who are so much concerned about the "average worker," 
as a matter of fact, rather insult the workers by your desire to talk down 
to them when discussing labour politics and labour organization. Talk 
about serious things in a serious manner; leave pedagogics to the peda- 
gogues, and not to politicians and to organizers! Are there not advanced 
people, "average people," and "masses," among the intelligentsia? 
Does not everyone recognize that popular literature is required also for 
the intelligentsia and is not such literature written? Just imagine some- 
one, in an article on organizing college or high-school students, repeating 
over and over again, as if he had made a new discovery, that first of all 
we must have an organization of "average students." The author of such 
an article would rightly be laughed at. He would be told: give us your 
ideas on organization, if you have any, and we ourselves will settle 
the question as to which of us are "average," as to who is higher and who 
is lower. But if you have no organizational ideas of your OTI, then all your 
chatter about "masses" and "average" is simply boring. Try to under- 
stand that these questions about "politics" and "organization" are so 
serious in themselves that they cannot be dealt with in any other but 
a serious way. We can and must educate workers (and university and high- 
school students) so as to be able to discuss these questions with them; and 
once you do bring up these questions for discussion, then give real replies 
to them, do not fall back on the "average," or on the "masses"; don't 
evade them by quoting adages or mere phrases.* 

* Svoboda, No. 1, p. 66, in the article "Organization": "The heavy tread of 
the army of labour will reinforce all the demands that will be advanced by Russian 

240 V. I. LENIN 

In order to be fully prepared for his task, the working-class revolu- 
tionary must also become a professional revolutionary. Hence B v 
is wrong when he says that as the worker is engaged for eleven and a half 
hours a day in the factory, therefore, the brunt of all the other revolu- 
tionary functions (apart from agitation) "must necessarily fall mainly 
upon the shoulders of an extremely small force of intellectuals." It 
need not "necessarily" be so. It is so because we are backward, because 
we do not recognize our duty to assist every capable worker to become 
a professional agitator, organizer, propagandist, literature distributor, 
etc., etc. In this respect, we waste our strength in a positively shameful 
manner; we lack the ability to husband that which should be tended and 
reared with special care. Look at the Germans: they have a hundred 
times more forces than we have. But they understand perfectly well 
that the "average" does not too frequently promote really capable agi- 
tators, etc., from its ranks. Hence they immediately try to place every 
capable workingman in such conditions as will enable him to develop 
and apply his abilities to the utmost: he is made a professional agitator, 
he is encouraged to widen the field of his activity, to spread it from one 
factory to the whole of his trade, from one locality to the whole country. 
He acquires experience and dexterity in his profession, his outlook be- 
comes wider, his knowledge increases, he observes the prominent political 
leaders from other localities and other parties, he strives to rise to their 
level and combine within himself the knowledge of working-class envi- 
ronment and freshness of Socialist convictions with professional skill, 
without which the proletariat cannot carry on a stubborn struggle with 
the excellently trained enemy. Only in this way can men of the stamp of 
Bebel and Auer be promoted from the ranks of the working class. But 
what takes place very largely automatically in a politically free country 
must in Russia be done deliberately and systematically by our organiza- 
tions. A workingman agitator who is at all talented and "promising" 
must not be left to work eleven hours a day in a factory. We must arrange 
that he be maintained by the Party, that he may in due time go under- 
ground, that he change the place of his activity, otherwise he will not 
enlarge his experience, he will not widen his outlook, and will not be able 
to stay in the fight against the gendarmes for at least a few years. As the 
spontaneous rise of the working-class masses becomes wider and deeper, 
they not only promote from their ranks an increasing number of talented 
agitators, but also of talented organizers, propagandists and "practical 
workers" in the best sense of the term (of whom there are so few among 

Labour" Labour with a capital L, of course. And this very author exclaims: 
**I am not in the least hostile towards the intelligentsia, but" (this is the very word, 
but, that Shchedrin translated as meaning: the ears never grow higher than the fore- 
head, ncverl) "but it always frightfully annoys me when a man comes to me, utters 
beautiful and charming words and demands that they be accepted for their (his) 
beauty and other virtues." (P. 62.) Yes. This "always frightfully annoys" me too. 


our intelligentsia who, in the majority of cases, are somewhat careless 
and sluggish in their habits, so characteristic of Russians). When we have 
detachments of specially trained working-class revolutionaries who have 
gone through long years of preparation (and, of course, revolutionaries 
"of all arms"), no political police in the world will be able to contend 
against them, for these detachments of men absolutely devoted and loyal 
to the revolution will themselves enjoy the absolute confidence and devo- 
tion of the broad masses of the workers. The sin we commit is that we do not 
sufficiently "stimulate" the workers to take this path, "common" to 
them and to the "intellectuals," of professional revolutionary train- 
ing, and that we too frequently drag them back by our silly speeches about 
what "can be understood" by the masses of the workers, by the "average 
workers," etc. 

In this, as in other cases, the narrowness of our field of organizational 
work is without a doubt directly due (although the overwhelming ma- 
jority of the "Economists" and the novices in practical work do not ap- 
preciate it) to the fact that we restrict our theories and our political 
tasks to a narrow field. Bowing in worship to spontaneity seems to inspire 
a fear of taking even one step away from what "can be understood" by 
the masses, a fear of rising too high above mere subservience to the imme- 
diate and direct requirements of the masses. Have no fear, gentlemen! 
Remember that we stand so low on the plane of organization that the 
very idea that we could rise too high is absurd! 

E. "Conspirative" Organization and "Democracy" 

And }et there are many people among us who are so sensitive to the 
"voice of life" that they fear it more than anything in the world and accuse 
those who adhere to the views here expounded of "Narodnaya Volya"-ism, 
of failing to understand "democracy," etc. We must deal with these 
accusations, which, of course, have been echoed by Itabocheye Dyelo. 

The writer of these lines knows very well that the St. Petersburg- 
Economists even accused Rabochaya Gazetaof being Narodnaya Volya-ite 
(which is quite understandable when one compares it with Eabochaya 
Mysl). We were not in the least surprised, therefore, when, soon after 
the appearance of Iskra, a comrade informed us that the Social-Dem- 
ocrats in the town of X describe lakra as a "Narodnaya Volya"-ite journal. 
We, of course, were flattered by this accusation. What real Social- 
Democrat has not been accused by the Economists of being a Narodnaya 

These accusations are called forth by a twofold misunderstanding. 
First, the history of the revolutionary movement is so little known among 
us that the very idea of a militant centralized organization which declares 
a determined war upon tsarism is described as "Narodnaya Volya"- 


842 V. I. LENIN 

ite. But the magnificent organization that the revolutionaries had in 
the 'seventies, and which should serve us all as a model, was not formed 
by the Narodnaya Volya-ites but by the adherents of Zemlya i Volya,* 
who split up into Cherny Peredel-ites** and Narodnaya Volya-ites. 
Consequently, to regard a militant revolutionary organization as something 
specifically Narodnaya Volya-ite is absurd both historically and logically, 
because no revolutionary tendency, if it seriously thinks of fighting, 
can dispense with such an organization. But the mistake the Narodnaya 
Volya-ites committed was not that they strove to recruit to their organi- 
zation all the discontented, and to hurl this organization into the deci- 
sive battle against the autocracy; on the contrary, that was their great 
historical merit. Their mistake was that they relied on a theory which 
in substance was not a revolutionary theory at all, and they either did 
not know how, or circumstances did not permit them, to link up their 
movement inseparably with the class struggle that went on within devel- 
oping capitalist society. And only a gross failure to understand Marxism 
(or an "understanding" of it in the spirit of Struve-ism) could prompt the 
opinion that the rise of a mass, spontaneous labour movement relieves 
us of the duty of creating as good an organization of revolutionaries as 
Zemlya i Volya had in its time, and even an incomparably better one. On 
the contrary, this movement imposes this duty upon us, because the spon- 
taneous struggle of the proletariat will not become a genuine "class strug- 
gle" until it is led by a strong organization of revolutionaries. 

Secondly, many, including apparently B. Krichevsky (Rabocheye 
Dyelo 9 No. 10, p. 18), misunderstand the polemics that Social-Democrats 
have always waged against the "conspirative" view of the political strug- 
gle. We have always protested, and will, of course, continue to protest 
against confining the political struggle to conspiracies.*** But this does 
not, of course, mean that we deny the need for a strong revolutionary 
organization. And in the pamphlet mentioned in the preceding footnote, 
after the polemics against reducing the political struggle to a conspiracy, 
a description is given (as a Social-Democratic ideal) of an organization so 
strong as to be able to "resort to ...rebellion" and to every "other form 
of attack," in order to "deliver a smashing blow against absolutism."**** 

* Land and Freedom. Ed. 

** Cherny Pcredel-ites Black Redistributionists, i.e., adherents of the 
movement who advocated the seizure of the landed estates and the equal division 
of all the land in the country by the peasants. Ed. 

*** Cf. The Tasks of Russian Social- Democrats, p. 21, Polemics against 
P. L. Lavrov. (Sec this volume pp. 140-43. Ed.) 

**** Ibid., p. 23. (See this volume. . p. 142. Ed.) Apropos, we shall give 
another illustration ot the fact that Rdbocheye Dyelo either does not understand 
what it is talking about, or changes its views "with every change in the wind." 
In No. 1 of Rabocheye Dyelo, we find the following passage in italics: "The sum 
and substance of the views expressed in this pamphlet coincide entirely with the edi- 
torial program of Rabocheye Dyelo. 9 " (P. 142.) Is that so, indeed? Does the view 


According to its form a strong revolutionary organisation of that kind 
in an autocratic country may also be described as a "conspirative" or- 
ganization, because the French word "conspiration" is tantamount to 
the Russian word "zagavor" ("conspiracy"), and we must have the ut- 
most secrecy for an organization of that kind. Secrecy is such a necessary 
condition for such an organization that all the other conditions (number 
and selection of members, functions, etc.) must all be subordinated to 
it. It would be extremely naive indeed, therefore, to fear the accusation 
that we Social-Democrats desire to create a conspirative organization. 
Such an accusation would be as flattering to every opponent of Economised 
as the accusation of being followers of "Narodnaya Volya"-ism would be. 
Against us it will be argued: such a powerful and strictly secret organ- 
ization, which concentrates in its hands all the threads of secret ac- 
tivities, an organization which of necessity must be a centralized or- 
ganization, may too easily throw itself into a premature attack, may 
thoughtlessly intensify the movement before political discontent, the 
ferment and anger of the working class, etc., are sufficiently ripe for it. 
To this we reply: speaking abstractly, it cannot be denied, of course, 
that a militant organization may thoughtlessly commence a battle, 
which may end in defeat, which might have been avoided under other 
circumstances. But we cannot confine ourselves to abstract reasoning 
on such a question, because every battle bears within itself the abstract 
possibility of defeat, and there is no other way of reducing this possi- 
bility than by organized preparation for battle. If, however, we base our 
argument on the concrete conditions prevailing in Russia at the present 
time, we must come to the positive conclusion that a strong revolutionary 
organization is absolutely necessary precisely for the purpose of giving 
firmness to the movement, and of safeguarding it against the possibility 
of its making premature attacks. It is precisely at the present time, when 
no such organization exists yet, and when the revolutionary movement 
is rapidly and spontaneously growing, that we already obseire two oppo- 
site extremes (which, as is to be expected "meet"), i.e., absolutely un- 
sound Economism and the preaching of moderation, and equally unsound 
"excitative terror," which "strives artificially to call forth symptoms 
of its end in a movement which is developing and becoming strong, but 
which is as yet nearer to its beginning than to its end." (V. Zasulich, 
in Zarya, No. 2-3, p. 353.) And the example of Rabocheye Dyelo shows 
that there are already Social-Democrats who give way to both these ex- 

that the mass movement must not be set the primary task of overthrowing the autoc- 
racy coincide with the views expressed in the pamphlet, The Tasks of Russian 
Social- Democrats'? Do "the economic struggle against the employers and the 
government" theory and the stages theory coincide with the views expressed in 
that pamphlet? We leave it to the reader to judge whether an organ which under- 
stands the meaning of "coincidence" in this peculiar manner can have firm prin- 


244 V. 1. LENIN 

tremes. This is not surprising because, apart from other reasons the "eco- 
nomic struggle against the employers and the government" can never 
satisfy revolutionaries, and because opposite extremes will always arise 
here and there. Only a centralized, militant organization that consistently 
carries out a Social-Democratic policy, that satisfies, so to speak, all 
revolutionary instincts and strivings, can safeguard the movement against 
making thoughtless attacks and prepare it for attacks that hold out the 
promise of success. 

It will be further argued against us that the views on organization here 
expounded contradict the "principles of democracy." Now while the 
first-mentioned accusation was of purely Russian origin, this one is of 
purely foreign origin. And only an organization abroad (the "Union" of 
Russian Social-Democrats) would be capable of giving its editorial board 
instructions like the following: 

"Principles of Organization. In order to secure the successful 
development and unification of Social-Democracy, broad democrat- 
ic principles of Party organization must be emphasized, developed 
and fought for; and this is particularly necessary in view of the anti- 
democratic tendencies that have become revealed in the ranks of our 
Party." (Two Congresses, p. 18.) 

We shall see how Rabocheye Dyelo fights against Iskra's "anti-democratic 
tendencies" in the next chapter. Here we shall examine more closely 
the "principle" that the Economists advance. Everyone will probably 
agree that "broad democratic principles" presuppose the two following 
conditions: first, full publicity, and second, election to all offices. It 
would be absurd to speak about democracy without publicity, that is, 
a publicity that extends beyond the circle of the membership of the organ- 
ization. We call the German Socialist Party a democratic organization 
because all it does is done publicly; even its party congresses are held 
in public. But no one would call an organization that is hidden from every 
one but its members by a veil of secrecy, a democratic organization. 
What is the use of advancing "broad democratic principles" when the 
fundamental condition for these principles cannot be fulfilled by a secret 
organization? "Broad principles" turns out to be a resonant but hollow 
phrase. More than that, this phrase proves that the urgent tasks in regard 
to organization are totally misunderstood. Everyone knows how great is 
the lack of secrecy among the "broad" masses of revolutionaries. We have 
heard the bitter complaints of B v on this score, and his absolutely 
just demand for a "strict selection of members." (Rabocheye Dyelo, 
No. 6, p. 42.) And people who boast about their "sensitiveness to life" 
come forward in a situation like this, and urge, not strict secrecy and 
a strict (and therefore more restricted) selection of members but "broad 
democratic principles 1" This is what we call being absolutely wide 
of the mark. 


Nor is the situation with regard to the second attribute of democracy, 
namely, the principle of election, any better. In politically free countries, 
this condition is taken for granted. "Membership of the Party is open to 
those who accept the principles of the Party program, and render all 
the support they can to the Party" says point I of the rules of the German 
Social-Democratic Party. And as the political arena is as open to the pub- 
lic view as is the stage in a theatre, this acceptance or non-acceptance, 
support or opposition, is known to all from the press and public meetings. 
Everyone knows that a certain political figure began in such and such a 
way, passed through such and such an evolution, behaved in a trying 
moment in such and such a way and possesses sucj^^edajigjiqualities 
and, consequently, knowing all the facts of the JiJ0^H^|H^J^^Jmber 
can decide for himself whether or not to eleq 
Party office. The general control (in the litj 
the Party exercises over every act this pej 
field brings into existence an automatical!/ 
brings about what in biology is called "suij 
selection" of full publicity, the principle ' 
trol provide the guarantee that, in the 
figure will be "in his proper place," will do 

fitted by his strength and abilities, will feel tfl^flji^^Hii^m^^K on 
himself, and prove before all the world his ability tS^gg^hiz^gi^iiKes and 
to avoid them. 

Try to put this picture in the frame of our autocracy! Is it conceivable 
in Russia for all those "who accept the principles of the Party program 
and render all the support they can to the Party" to control every action 
of the revolutionary working in secret? Is it possible for all the revolu- 
tionaries to elect one of their number to any particular office, when, in 
the very interests of the work, he mu$t conceal his identity from nine 
outof ten of these "all"? Ponder a little over the real meaning of the high- 
sounding phrases that Rabocheye Dyelo gives utterance to, and you will 
realize that "broad democracy" in Party organization, amidst the gloom 
of autocracy and the domination of gendarme selection, is nothing more 
than a useless and harmful toy. It is a useless toy because, as a matter of 
fact, no revolutionary organization has ever practised broad democracy, 
nor could it, however much it desired to do so. It is a harmful toy because 
any attempt to practise the "broad democratic principles" will simply 
facilitate the work of the police in making big raids, it will perpetuate 
the prevailing primitiveness, divert the thoughts of the practical work- 
ers from the serious and imperative task of training themselves to 
become professional revolutionaries to that of drawing up detailed "paper" 
rules for election systems. Only abroad, where very often people who 
have no opportunity of doing real live work gather together, can the 
"game of democracy" be played here and there, especially in. 


In order to show how implausible Rabocheye Dyelo's favourite trick 
Is of advancing the plausible "principle" of democracy in revolutionary 
affairs, we shall again call a witness. This witness, E. Sercbryakov, 
the editor of the London magazine, Nalcanunye, has a tender feeling for 
Rabocheye Dyelo, and is filled with hatred against Plekhanov and the 
Plekhano^ites. In articles that it published on the split in the "Foreign 
Union of Russian Social-Democrats, " Nakanunye definitely took the side 
of Rabocheye Dyelo and poured a stream of despicable abuse upon Plekha- 
nov. But this only makes this witness all the more valuable for us on 
this question. In No. 7 of Nakanunye (July 1899), in an article entitled 
"The Manifesto of the Self- Emancipation of the Workers Group," E. Se- 
rebryakov argues that it was "indecent" to talk about such things as 
"self-deception, priority and so-called Areopagus in a serious revolutionary 
movement" and inter alia wrote: 

"Myshkin, Rogachev, Zhelyabov, Mikhailov, Perovskaya, 
Figner and others never regarded themselves as leaders, and no 
one ever elected or appointed them as such, although as a matter 
of fact, they were leaders because, in the propaganda period, as 
well as in the period of the fight against the government, they took 
the brunt of the work upon themselves, they went into the most 
dangerous places and their activities were the most fruitful. Leader- 
ship came to them not because they wished it, but because the 
comrades surrounding them had confidence in their wisdom, their 
energy and loyalty. To be afraid of some kind of Areopagus 
f if it is not feared, why write about it?] that would arbitrarily 
govern the movement is far too naive. Who would obey it?" 

We ask the reader, in what way does "Areopagus" differ from 
"anti-democratic tendencies"? And is it not evident that Rabocheye 
Dyelo's "plausible" organizational principle is equally naive and inde- 
cent; naive, because no one would obey "Areopagus," or people with 
"anti- democratic tendencies," if "the comrades surrounding them had" 
no "confidence in their wisdom, energy and loyalty"; indecent, because 
it is a demagogic sally calculated to play on the conceit of some, on the 
ignorance of the actual state of our movement on the part of others, and 
on the lack of training and ignorance of the history of the revolution- 
ary movement of still others. The only serious organizational principle 
the active workers of our movement can accept is strict secrecy, strict 
selection of members and the training of professional revolutionaries. 
If we possessed these qualities, something even more than "democracy" 
would be guaranteed to us, namely, complete, comradely, mutual con- 
fidence among revolutionaries. And this is absolutely essential for us 
because in Russia it is useless thinking that democratic control can serve 
as a substitute for it. It would be a great mistake to believe that because 
it is impossible to establish real "democratic" control, the members of; 


the revolutionary organization will remain altogether uncontrolled. 
They have not the time to think about the toy forms of democracy (de- 
mocracy within a close and compact body of comrades in which complete, 
mutual confidence prevails), but they have a lively sense of their respon- 
sibility, because they know from experience that an organization of real 
revolutionaries will stop at nothing to rid itself of an undesirable mem- 
ber. Moreover, there is a fairly well-developed public opinion in Russian 
(and international) revolutionary circles which has a long history behind 
it, and which sternly and ruthlessly punishes every departure from the 
duties of comradeship (and does not "democracy," real and not toy 
democracy, form a part of the conception of comradeship?). Take all 
this into consideration and you will realise that all the talk and resolu- 
tions about "anti-democratic tendencies" has the fetid odour of the game 
of generals that is played abroad. 

It must be observed also that the other source of this talk, i.e., naive- 
te, is likewise fostered by the confusion of ideas concerning the meaning 
of democracy. In Mr. and Mrs. Webb's book on trade unionism,* there 
is an interesting chapter entitled "Primitive Democracy." In this chap- 
ter, the authors relate how, in the first period of existence of their unions, 
the British workers thought that it was an indispensable sign of democracy 
for all the members to do all the work of managing the unions; not only 
were all questions decided by the votes of all the members, but all the 
official duties were fulfilled by all the members in turn. A long period of 
historical experience was required to teach these workers how absurd 
such a conception of democracy was and to make them understand the 
necessity for representative institutions on the one hand, and for full- 
time professional officials on the other. Only after a number of cases of 
financial bankruptcy of trade unions occurred did the workers realize 
that rates of subscriptions and benefits cannot be decided merely by a 
democratic vote, but must be based on the advice of insurance experts. 
Let us take also Kautsky's book on parliamentarism and legislation by 
the people. There you will find that the conclusions drawn by the Marxian 
theoretician coincide with the lessons learned from many years of experi- 
ence by the workers who organized "spontaneously." Kautsky strongly 
protests against Rittinghausen's primitive conception of democracy; 
he ridicules those who in the name of democracy demand that "popular 
newspapers shall be directly edited by the people"; he shows the need for 
^professional journalists, parliamentarians, etc., for the Social-Democratic 
leadership of the proletarian class struggle; he attacks the "Socialism 
of anarchists and litterateurs," who in their "striving after effect" pro- 
claim the principle that laws should be passed directly by the whole 
people, completely failing to understand that in modern society this prin- 
ciple can have only a relative application. 

*Thc History of Trade Unionism, #<*t 

248 V. I. LENIN 

Those who have carried on practical work in our movement know how 
widespread is the "primitive** conception of democracy among the masses 
of the students and workers. It is not surprising that this conception per- 
meates rules of organization and literature. The Economists of the Bern- 
stem persuasion included in their rules the following: " 10. All affairs 
affecting the interests of the whole of the union organization shall be 
decided by a majority vote of all its members." The Economists of the 
terrorist persuasion repeat after them: "The decisions of the committee 
must be circulated among all the circles and become effective only after 
this has been done." (Svoboda, No. 1, p. 67.) Observe that this proposal 
for a widely applied referendum is advanced in addition to the demand 
that the whol& of the organization be organized on an elective basis! We 
would not, of course, on this account condemn practical workers who have 
had too few opportunities for studying the theory and practice of real 
democratic organization. But when Babocheye Dyelo, which claims to play 
a leading role, confines itself, under such conditions, to resolutions 
about broad democratic principles, how else can it be described than as 
a mere "striving after effect"? 

F. Local and All-Russian Work 

Although the objections raised against the plan for an organization 
outlined here on the grounds of its undemocratic and conspirative char- 
acter arc totally unsound, nevertheless, a question still remains which 
is frequently put and which deserves detailed examination. This is the 
question about the relations between local work and all- Russian work. 
Fears are expressed that the formation of a centralized organization would 
shift the centre of gravity from the former to the latter; that this would 
damage the movement, would weaken our contacts with the masses of the 
workers, and would weaken local agitation generally. To these fears we 
reply that our movement in the past few years has suffered precisely from 
the fact that the local workers have been too absorbed in local work. 
Hence it is absolutely necessary to shift the weight of the work somewhat 
from local work to national work. This would not weaken, but on the con- 
trary, it would strengthen our ties and the continuity of our local agita-* 
tion. Take the question of central and local journals. I would ask the 
reader not to forget that we cite the publication of journals only as an 
example, illustrating an immeasurably broader, more widespread and var- 
ied revolutionary activity. 

In the first period of the mass movement (1896-98), an attempt is made 
by local Party workers to publish an all- Russian journal, Rabochaya 
Oazeta. In the next period (1898-1900), the movement makes enormous 
strides, but the attention of the leaders is wholly absorbed by local publi* 
cations, If we count up ^H the local journals that vw published, ^rc shalj 


find that on the average one paper per month was published.* Does this 
not illustrate our primitive ways? Does this not clearly show that our 
revolutionary organization lags behind the spontaneous growth of the 
movement? If the same number of issues had been published,not by scattered 
local groups, but by a single organization, we would not only have saved 
an enormous amount of effort, but we would have secured immeasurably 
greater stability and continuity in our work. This simple calculation 
is very frequently lost sight of by those practical workers who work active- 
ly, almost exclusively, on local publications (unfortunately this is the 
case even now in the overwhelming majority of cases), as well as by the 
publicists who display an astonishing quixotism on this question. The 
practical workers usually rest content with the argument that "it is 
difficult"** for local workers to engage in the organization of an all-Rus- 
sian newspaper, and that local newspapers are better than no newspapers at 
all. The latter argument is, of course, perfectly just, and we shall not 
yield to any practical worker in our recognition of the enormous impor- 
tance and usefulness of local newspapers in general. But this is not the 
point. The point is, can we rid ourselves of the state of diffusion and prim- 
itivcness that is so strikingly expressed in the thirty numbers of local 
newspapers published throughout the whole of Russia in the course of two 
and a half years? Do not restrict yourselves to indisputable, but too gener- 
al, statements about the usefulness of local newspapers generally; have 
the courage also frankly to admit the defects that have been revealed by 
the experience of two and a half years. This experience has shown that 
under the conditions in which we work, these local newspapers prove, in 
the majority of cases, to be unstable in their principles, lacking in polit- 
ical significance, extremely costly in regard to expenditure of revolu- 
tionary forces, and totally unsatisfactory from a technical point of view 
(I have in mind, of course, not the technique of printing them, but the 
frequency and regularity of publication). These defects are not acciden- 
tal; they are the inevitable result of the diffusion which, on the one hand, 
explains the predominance of local newspapers in the period under review, 
and, on the other hand, is fostered by this predominance. A separate local 
organization is positively unable to maintain stability of principles in 
its newspaper and raise it to the level of a political organ; it is unable 
to collect and utilize sufficient material dealing with the whole of our 
political life. While in politically free countries it is often argued in de- 
fence of numerous local newspapers that the cost of printing by local 
workers is low and that the local population can be kept more fully and 

* See Report to the Paris Congress, p. 14. "From that time [1897] to the spring 
of 1900, thirty issues of various papers were published in various places.... On 
an average, over one number per month was published." 

** This difficulty is more apparent than real. As a matter of fact, there is 
not a single local circle that lacks the opportunity of taking up some function 
or other in connection with all.Russian work, "Don't ay: I ca,n.'t; say; J won't," 

260 V. I. LENIN 

quickly informed, experience has shown that in Russia this argument 
speaks against local newspapers. In Russia, local newspapers prove to 
be excessively costly in regard to the expenditure of revolutionary forces, 
and appear very rarely, for the very simple reason that no matter how small 
its size, the publication of an illegal newspaper requires a large secret 
apparatus , such as requires large factory production; for such an appara- 
tus cannot be created in a small, handicraft workshop. Very frequently, 
the primitiveness of the secret apparatus (every practical worker knows 
of numerous cases like this) enables the police to take advantage of the 
publication and distribution of one or two numbers to make mass arrests, 
which make such a clean sweep that it is necessary afterwards to start 
all over again. A well-organized secret apparatus requires professionally 
well-trained revolutionaries and proper division of labour, but neither of 
these requirements can be met by separate local organizations, no matter 
how strong they may be at any given moment. Not only are the general 
interests of our movement as a whole (training of the workers in consistent 
Socialist and political principles) better served by non-local newspapers, 
but so also are even specifically local interests. This may seem paradoxical 
at first sight, but it has been proved up to the hilt by the two and a half 
years of experience to which we have already referred. Everyone will 
agree that if all the local forces that were engaged in the publication of 
these thirty issues of newspapers had worked on a single newspaper, they 
could easily have published sixty if not a hundred numbers and, conse- 
quently, would have more fully expressed all the specifically local features 
of the movement. True, it is not an easy matter to attain such a high 
degree of organization, but we must realize the need for it. Every local 
circle must think about it, and work actively to achieve it, without wait- 
ing to be pushed on from outside; and we must stop being tempted by 
the easiness and closer proximity of a local newspaper which, as our revo- 
lutionary experience has shown, proves to a large extent to be illusory. 
And it is a bad service indeed those publicists render to the practical 
work who, thinking they stand particularly close to the practical workers, 
fail to see this illusoriness, and make shift with the astonishingly cheap 
and astonishingly hollow argument: we must have local newspapers, we 
must have district newspapers, and we must have all-Russian newspapers. 
Generally speaking, of course, all these are necessary, but when you 
undertake to solve a concrete organizational problem surely you must 
take time and circumstances into consideration. Is it not quixotic on the 
part of Svoboda (No. 1, p. 68), in a special article "dealing with the question 
of a newspaper," to write: "It seems to us that every locality, where any 
number of workers are collected, should have its own labour newspaper; 
not a newspaper imported from somewhere or other, but its very own." If 
the publicist who wrote that refuses to think about the significance of 
his own words, then at least you, reader, think about it for him. How 
many scores, if not hundreds, of "localities where any number of workers 


are collected" are there in Russia, and would it not be simply perpetu- 
ating our primitive methods if indeed every local organization set to work 
to publish its own newspaper? How this diffusion would facilitate the task 
of the gendarmes of netting without any considerable effort at that 
the local Party workers at the very beginning of their activity and prevent- 
ing them from developing into real revolutionaries! A reader of an ail- 
Russian newspaper, continues the author, would not find descriptions 
of the malpractices of the factory owners and the "details of factory life 
in other towns outside his district at all interesting." But "an inhabitant 
of Orel would not find it dull reading about Orel affairs. In every issue 
he would learn of who had been 'called over the coals' and who had been 
'exposed', and his spirits would begin to soar." (P. 69.) Yes, yes, the 
spirit of the Orel reader would begin to soar, but the flights of imagina- 
tion of our publicist are also beginning to soar too high. He should have 
asked himself: is such a defence of petty parochialism in place? We are 
second to none in our appreciation of the importance and necessity of fac- 
tory exposures, but it must be borne in mind that we have reached a stage 
when St. Petersburg folk find it dull reading the St. Petersburg correspon- 
dence of the St. Petersburg Mabochaya Mysl. Local factory exposures 
have always been and should always continue to be made through the 
medium of leaflets, but we must raise the level of the newspaper, and not 
lower it to the level of a factory leaflet. We do not require "petty" expo- 
sures for our "newspaper." We require exposures of the important, typi- 
cal evils of factory life, exposures based on the most striking facts and 
capable of arousing the interest of all workers and all leaders of the 
movement, capable of really enriching their knowledge, widening their 
outlook, and of rousing new districts and new professional strata of the 

"Moreover, in a local newspaper, all the malpractices of the factory 
officials and other authorities may be denounced hot on the spot. In the 
case of a general newspaper, however, by the time the news reaches the 
paper and by the time they are published the facts will have been forgot- 
ten in the localities in which they occurred. The reader, when he gets 
the paper, will say: 'God knows when that happened!' " (Ibid.) Exactly! 
God knows when it happened. As we know from the source I have already 
quoted, within a period of two and a half years, thirty issues of news- 
papers were published in six cities. This, on the average, is one issue 
per city per half year. And even if our frivolous publicist trebled his esti- 
mate of the productivity of local work (which would be wrong in the 
case of an average city, because it is impossible to increase productivity 
to any extent by our primitive methods), we would still get only one 
issue every two months, i.e., nothing at all like "denouncing hot on the 
spot." It would be sufficient, however, to combine a dozen or so local 
organizations, and assign active functions to their delegates in organiz- 
ing a general newspaper, to enable us to "denounce," over the whole 

252 V. I. LENIN 

of Russia, not petty, but really outstanding and typical evils once every 
fortnight. No one who has any knowledge at all of the state of affairs 
in our organizations can have the slightest doubt about that. It is quite 
absurd to talk about an illegal newspaper catching the enemy red-hand- 
ed, that is, if we mean it seriously and not merely as a metaphor. That 
can only b done by an anonymous leaflet, because an incident like that 
can only be of interest for a matter of a day or two (take, for example, 
the usual brief strikes, beatings in a factory, demonstrations, etc.). 

"The workers not only live in factories, they also live in the cities," 
continues our author, rising from the particular to the general, with 
a strict consistency that would have done honour to Boris Krichevsky 
himself; and he refers to matters like municipal councils, municipal 
hospitals, municipal schools, and demands that labour newspapers should 
not ignore municipal affairs in general. This demand is an excellent one 
in itself, but it serves as a remarkable illustration of the empty abstrac- 
tion which too frequently characterizes discussions about local newspa- 
pers. First of all, if indeed newspapers appeared "in every locality where 
any number of workers are collected" with such detailed information 
on municipal affairs as Svoboda desires, it would, under our Russian con- 
ditions, inevitably degenerate into actual petty parochialism, would lead 
to a weakening of the consciousness of the importance of an all- Russian 
revolutionary attack upon the tsarist autocracy, and would strengthen 
those extremely virile shoots of the tendency not uprooted but rather 
temporarily suppressed which has already become notorious as a re- 
sult of the famous remark about revolutionaries who talk a great deal 
about non-existent parliaments and too little about existing municipal 
councils. We say "inevitably" deliberately, in order to emphasize that 
Svoboda obviously does not warit this but the contrary to happen. But 
good intentions are not enough. In order that municipal affairs may be 
dealt with in their proper perspective, in relation to the whole of our 
work, this perspective must first be clearly conceived; it must be firmly 
established, not only by argument, but by numerous examples, in order 
that it may acquire the firmness of a tradition. This is far from being the 
case with us yet. And yet this must be done first, before we can even 
think and talk about an extensive local press. 

Secondly, in order to be able to write well and interestingly about 
municipal affairs, one must know these questions not only from books. 
And there are hardly any Social-Democrats anywhere in Russia who 
possess this knowledge. In order to be able to write in newspapers (not 
in popular pamphlets) about municipal and state affairs, one must have 
fresh and multifarious material collected and worked up by able journal- 
ists. And in order to be able to collect and work up such material, we 
must have something more than the "primitive democracy" of a primi- 
tive circle, in which everybody does everything and all entertain one 
another by playing at referendum?* Fpf this it is njejc^ssa.ry to hare % staff 


of expert writers, expert correspondents, an army of Social-Democratic 
reporters that has established contacts far and wide, able to fathom all 
sorts of "state secrets" (about which the Russian government official 
is so puffed up, but which he so easily blabs), able to penetrate "behind 
the scenes," an army of people whose "official duty" it must be to be ubiq- 
uitous and omniscient. And we, the party that fights against all econom- 
ic, political, social and national oppression, can and must find, collect, 
train, mobilize and set into motion such an army of omniscient people 
but all this has yet to be done! Not only has not a single step been taken 
towards this in the overwhelming majority of localities, but in many cases 
the necessity for doing it is not even realized. Search our Social-Democrat- 
ic press for lively and interesting articles, correspondence, and expo- 
sures of our diplomatic, military, ecclesiastical, municipal, financial, 
etc., etc., affairs and malpractices! You will find almost nothing, or 
very little, about these things.* That is why "it always frightfully annoys 
me when a man comes to me, utters beautiful and charming words" 
about the need for newspapers that will expose factory, municipal and 
government evils "in every locality where any number of workers are 

The predominance of the local press over the central press may be 
either a symptom of poverty or a symptom of luxury. Of poverty, when 
the movement has not yet developed the forces for large-scale production, 
and continues to flounder in primitive ways and in "the petty details 
of factory life." Of luxury, when the movement has already fully mas- 
tered the task of all-sided exposure and all-sided agitation and it be- 
comes necessary to publish numerous local newspapers in addition to the 
central organ. Let each one decide for himself what the predominance 
of local newspapers implies at the present time. I shall limit myself 
to a precise formulation of my own conclusion in order to avoid grounds 
for misunderstandings. Hitherto, the majority of our local organiza- 
tions have been thinking almost exclusively of local newspapers, and have 
devoted almost all their activities to these. This is unsound the very 
opposite should be the case. The majority of the local organizations should 
think principally of the publication of an all- Russian newspaper, and 

* That is why even examples of exceptionally good local newspapers fully 
confirm our point of view. For example, Yuzhny Rabochy (Southern Worker) is 
an excellent newspaper, and is altogether free from instability of principles. 
But it has been unable to provide what it desired for the local movement, owing 
to the infrequency of its publication and to extensive police raids. What our 
Party most urgently requires, at the present time, viz., the presentation of the 
fundamental questions of the movement and wide political agitation, the local 
newspaper has been unable to satisfy. And the material it has published exception- 
ally well, like the articles about the mine owners' congress, unemployment, etc., 
was not strictly local material, it was required for the whole of Russia, and not 
for the South alone. No articles like that have appeared in any of our Social- 
Democratic newspapers. 

864 V. I. LENIN 

devote their activities principally to it. Until this is done, we shall never 
be able to establish a single newspaper capable, to any degree, of serving 
the movement with all-sided press agitation. When it is done, however, 
normal relations between the necessary central newspapers and the 
necessary local newspapers will be established automatically. 

It would seem at first sight that the conclusion drawn concerning 
the necessity for transferring the weight of effort from local work to 
all- Russian work does not apply to the sphere of the specifically econom- 
ic struggle. In this struggle, the immediate enemy of the workers is 
the individual employer or group of employers, who are not bound by 
any organization having even the remotest resemblance to the purely 
militant, strictly centralized organization of the Russian government 
which is guided even in its minutest details by a single will, and which 
is our immediate enemy in the political struggle. 

But that is not the case. As we have already pointed out many times, 
the economic struggle is a trade struggle, and for that reason it requires 
that the workers be organized according to trade and not only according 
to their place of employment. And this organization by trade becomes 
all the more imperatively necessary, the more rapidly our employers 
organize in all sorts of companies and syndicates. Our state of diffusion 
and our primitiveness hinder this work of organization, and in order 
that this work may be carried out we must have a single, all-Russian 
organization of revolutionaries capable of undertaking the leadership 
of the all- Russian trade unions. We have already described above the 
type of organization that is desired for this purpose, and now we shall 
add just a few words about thi& in connection with the question of our 

Hardly anyone will doubt the necessity for every Social-Democratic 
newspaper having a special section devoted to the trade union (economic) 
struggle. But the growth of the trade union movement compels us to 
think also about the trade union press. It seems to us, however, that with 
rare exceptions it is not much use thinking of trade union newspapers 
in Russia at the present time; that would be a luxury, and in many 
places we cannot even obtain our daily bread. The form of trade union press 
that would suit the conditions of our illegal work and is already called 
for at the present time is the trade union pamphlet. In these pamphlets, 
legal* and illegal material should be collected and grouped systemati- 

* Legal material is particularly important in this connection, but we have 
lagged behind very much in our ability systematically to collect and utili2e it. 
It would not be an exaggeration to say that legal material alone would be suffi- 
cient for a trade union pamphlet, whereas illegal material alone would not be 
sufficient. In illegal material collected from workers on questions like those dealt 


cally, on conditions of labour in a given trade, on the various conditions 
prevailing in the various parts of Russia, on the principal demands 
advanced by the workers in a given trade, on the defects of the laws in 
relation to that trade, on the outstanding cases of workers 9 economic 
struggle in this trade, on the rudiments, the present state and the require- 
ments of their trade union organizations, etc. Such pamphlets would, 
in the first place, relieve our Social-Democratic press of a mass of trade 
details that interest only the workers employed in the given trade; second- 
ly, they would record the results of our experience in the trade union 
struggle, would preserve the material collected which is now literally 
lost in a mass of leaflets and fragmentary correspondence and would 
generalize this material. Thirdly, they could serve as material for the 
guidance of agitators, because conditions of labour change relatively 
slowly and the principal demands of the workers in a given trade hardly 
ever change (see, for example, the demands advanced by the weavers 
in the Moscow district in 1885 and in the St. Petersburg district in 1896); 
a compilation of these demands and needs might serve for years as an 
excellent handbook for agitators on economic questions in backward 
localities or among the backward strata of the workers. Examples of 
successful strikes, information about the higher standard of living, about 
better conditions of labour in one district, would encourage the workers 
in other districts to take up the fight again and again. Fourthly, having 
made a start in generalizing the trade union struggle, and having in this 
way strengthened the contacts between the Russian trade union move- 
ment and Socialism, the Social-Democrats would at the same time see 
to it that our trade union work did not take up either too small or too 
large a part of our general Social-Democratic work. A local organization 
that is cut off from the organizations in other towns finds it very difficult, 
and sometimes almost impossible, to maintain a correct sense of propor- 

with in the publications of Rabochaya Mysl, we waste a lot of the efforts of revo- 
lutionaries (whose place in this work could very easily be taken by legal workers), 
and yet we never obtain good material because a worker who knows only a single 
department of a large factory, who knows the economic results but not the general 
conditions and standards of his work, cannot acquire the knowledge which is 
possessed by the office staff of a factory, by inspectors, doctors, etc., and which 
is scattered in petty newspaper correspondence, and in special, industrial, medical, 
Zemstvo and other publications. 

I very distinctly remember my "first experiment," which I would never like 
to repeat. I spent many weeks "examining" a work ing man who came to visit me, 
about the conditions prevailing in the enormous factory at which he was employed. 
True, after great effort, I managed to obtain material for a description (of just 
one single factory I), but at the end of the interview the workingman wiped the 
sweat from his brow, and said to me smilingly: "I would rather work overtime 
than reply to your questions I" 

The more energetically we carry on our revolutionary struggle, the more the 
government will be compelled to legalize a part of the "trade union" work, and 
by that relieve us of part of our burden. 

256 V. I. LENIN 

tion (and the example of Rabochaya Mysl shows what a monstrous exag- 
geration is sometimes made in the direction of trade unionism). But 
an all- Russian organization of revolutionaries that stands undeviatingly 
on the basis qf Marxism, that leads the whole of the political struggle 
and possesses a staff of professional agitators, will never find it difficult 
to determine the proper proportion. 


"The most serious blunder Iskra committed in this connection," 
writes B. Krichevsky (Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 30) accusing us of 
betraying a tendency to "convert theory into a lifeless doctrine by iso- 
lating it from practice" "was in promoting its 'plan* for a general 
Party organization" (i.e., the article entitled "Where To Begin?") and 
Martynov echoes this idea by declaring that "Iskra's tendency to belittle 
the forward march of the drab every-day struggle in comparison with the 
propaganda of brilliant and complete ideas . . . was crowned by the 
plan for the organization of a party that it advances in an article in No. 
4, entitled 'Where To Begin?'" (Ibid., p. 61.) Finally, L. Nadezhdin 
recently joined in the chorus of indignation against this "plan" (the 
quotation marks were meant to express sarcasm). In a pamphlet we have 
just received written by him, entitled The Eve of the Revolution (pub- 
lished by the Revolutionary Socialist group, Svoboda, whose acquaintance 
we have already made), he declares : "To speak now of an organization linked 
up with an all- Russian newspaper means propagating armchair ideas and 
armchair work" (p. 126), that it is a manifestation of "literariness," etc. 

It does not surprise us that our terrorist agrees with the champions of 
the "forward march of the drab every-day struggle," because we have 
already traced the roots of this intimacy between them in the chapters 
on politics and organization. But we must here draw attention to the 
fact that L. Nadezhdin is the only one who has conscientiously tried to 
understand the ideas expressed in an article he disliked, and has made 
an attempt to reply to the point, whereas Rabocheye Dyelo has said nothing 
that is material to the subject, but has only tried to confuse the question 
by a whole series of indecent, demagogic sallies. Unpleasant though the 
task may be, we must first spend some time in cleaning this Augean stable. * 

* Sub-section "A. Who Was Offended by the Article 'Where To Begin?'" is 
omitted in the present edition since it deals exclusively with the polemic with 
the Rabocheye Dyelo and the Bund anent the Islcra's attempt to "command," and 
so forth. This sub-section, incidentally, speaks of the fact that it was the Bund 
itself that (in 1898-99) invited the members of the Iskra to renew the Central 
Organ of the Party and to organize a "literary laboratory." 


B. Can a Newspaper Be a Collective Organizer? 

The main points in the article "Where To Begin?" deal precisely with 
this question, and reply to it in the affirmative. As far as we know, the only 
attempt to examine this question and to prove that it must be answered 
in the negative was made by L. Nadezhdin, whose argument we reproduce 
in full: 

"... The manner in which the question of the need for an all- 
Russian newspaper is presented in Iskra, No. 4, pleases us very 
much, but we cannot agree that such a presentation fits in with 
the title of the article 'Where To Begin?' Undoubtedly this is an 
extremely important matter, but neither a newspaper, nor a whole 
series of popular leaflets, nor a whole mountain of manifestos, 
can serve as the basis for a militant organization in revolutionary 
times. We must set to work to build up strong political organiza- 
tions in the localities. We lack such organizations; we have been 
carrying on our work mainly among intelligent workers, while 
the masses have been engaged almost exclusively in the economic 
struggle. // we do not build up strong political organizations locally, 
what will be the use of even an excellently organized all-Russian 
newspaper? It will be a burning bush, burning without being con- 
sumed, and inflaming nobody. Iskra thinks that as a matter of fact 
people will gather around it, and they will organize. But they will 
find it more interesting to gather and organize around something more 
concretel This something more concrete may be the extensive publi- 
cation of local newspapers, the immediate setting to work to rally 
the forces of labour for demonstrations, constant work by local 
organizations among the unemployed (regularly distribute pam- 
phlets and leaflets among them, convene meetings for them, call upon 
them to resist the government, etc.). We must organize live polit- 
ical work in the localities, and when the time comes to amalgamate 
on this real basis, it will not be an artificial, a paper amalgama- 
tion; it will not be by means of newspapers that such an amalga- 
mation of local work into an all- Russian cause will be achieved!" 
(The Eve of the Revolution, p. 54.) 

We have emphasized the passages in this eloquent tirade which most 
strikingly illustrate the author's incorrect judgment of our plan, and the 
incorrectness of the point of view, generally, that he opposes to that of 
Iskra. Unless we build up strong political organizations in the localities 
even an excellently organized all-Russian newspaper will be of no avail. 
Absolutely true. But the whole point is that there is no other way of t r a in- 
ing strong political organizations except through the medium of an 
all-Rusian newspaper. The author missed the most important state- 
ment Iskra made fee/ore it proceeded to explain its "plan": that it was ncc. 


258 V. I. LENIN 

ccssary "to call for the establishment of a revolutionary organization, 
capable of combining all the forces and of leading the movement not only 
in name but in deed, i.e., an organization that mil be ready at any moment 
to support every protest and every outbreak, and to utilize these for the 
purpose of increasing and strengthening the military forces required for 
decisive battle/' After the February and March events, everyone will 
agree with* this in principle, continues Iskra, but we do not need a solu- 
tion of this problem in principle; what we need is a practical solution of it; 
we must immediately bring forward a definite plan of construction in 
order that everyone may set to work to build from every side. And now we 
are again being dragged away from a practical solution towards something 
that is correct in principle, indisputable and great, but absolutely inad- 
equate and absolutely incomprehensible to the broad masses of workers, 
namely, to "build up strong political organizations!" This is not the 
point that is now being discussed, most worthy author! The point is, how 
to train and what training it should be! 

It is not true to say that "we have been carrying on our work mainly 
among intelligent workers, while the masses have been engaged almost 
exclusively in the economic struggle." Presented in such a form, this 
postulate goes wrong on the point which Svoboda always goes wrong on 
and which is radically wrong, and that is, it sets up the intelligent work- 
ers in contrast to the "masses." Even the intelligent workers have been 
"engaged almost exclusively in the economic struggle" during the past 
few years. Moreover, the masses will never learn to conduct the political 
struggle until we help to train leaders for this struggle, both from among 
the intelligent workers and from among the intellectuals; and such lead- 
ers can be trained solely by systematic and every-day appreciation 
of all aspects of our political Ijfe, of all attempts at protest and struggle 
on the part of various classes and on various grounds. Therefore, to talk 
about "building up political organizations" and at the same time to 
contrast a "paper organization" of a political newspaper to "live politic- 
al work in the localities" is simply ridiculous! Why, Iskra has adapted 
its "plan" for a newspaper to the "plan" for creating a "militant prepared- 
ness" to support the unemployed movement, peasant revolts, discon- 
tent among the Zemstvo-ists, "popular indignation against the reckless 
tsarist bashi-bazouks," etc. Everyone who is at all acquainted with the 
movement knows perfectly well that the majority of local organizations 
never even dream of these things, that many of the prospects of "live polit- 
ical work" here indicated have never been realized by a single organiza- 
tion, that the attempt to call attention to the growth of discontent and 
protest among the Zemstvo intelligentsia rouses feelings of consterna- 
tion and amazement in Nadezhdin ("Good Lord, is this newspaper intend- 
ed for Zemstvo-ists?" Kanun, p. 129), among the Economists (letter 
to Iskra, No. 12) and among many of the practical workers. Under these 
circumstances, it is possible to "begin" only by stirring up people to 


think about all these things, by stirring them up to summarize and gener- 
alize all the signs of ferment and active struggle. "Live political work" 
can be begun in our time, when Social-Democratic tasks are being degrad- 
ed, exclusively by means of live political agitation, which is impossible 
unless we have a frequently issued and properly distributed all-Russian 

Those who regard Iskra'a "plan" as a manifestation of "literariness" 
have totally failed to understand the substance of the plan, and imagine 
that what is suggested as the most suitable means for the present time 
is the ultimate goal. These people have not taken the trouble to study 
the two comparisons that were drawn to illustrate the plan proposed. 
Iskra wrote: the publication of an all- Russian political newspaper must be 
the main line that must guide us in our work of unswervingly developing, 
deepening and expanding this organization (i.e., a revolutionary organi- 
zation always prepared to support every protest and every outbreak). 
Pray tell me: when bricklayers lay bricks in various parts of an enor- 
mous structure the like of which has never been seen before, is it "paper" 
work to use a line to help them find the correct place in which to put each 
brick, to indicate to them the ultimate purpose of the work as a whole, 
to enable them to use not only every brick but even every piece of brick 
which, joining with the bricks placed before and after it, forms a complete 
and all-embracing line? and are we not now passing through a period in 
our Party life when we have bricks and bricklayers, but lack the guiding 
line which all could see and follow? Let them shout that in stretching 
out the line, we desire to command. Had we desired to command, gentle- 
men, we would have written on the title page, not "/s&ra, No. 1" but 
"Rabochaya Gazeta, No. 3," as we were invited to do by a number of 
comrades, and as we had a perfect right to do. But we did not do that. We 
wished to have our hands free to conduct an irreconcilable struggle against 
all pseudo-Social-Democrats; we wanted our line, if properly laid, to be 
respected because it was correct, and not because it was carried out by 
an official organ. 

"The question of combining local activity in central organs runs 
in a vicious circle," L. Nadezhdin tells us pedantically, "for this re- 
quires homogeneous elements, and this homogeneity can be created 
only by something that combines; but this combining element may be 
the product of strong local organizations which at the present time 
are not distinguished for their homogeneity." 

This truism is as hoary and indisputable as the one that says we must 
build up strong political organizations. And it is equally barren. Eve>y 
question "runs in a vicious circle" because the whole of political life is 
an endless chain consisting of an infinite number of links. The whole art 
of politics lies in finding the link that is least likely to be torn out of our 
hands, the one that is most important at the given moment, the one that 


260 V. I. LENIN 

guarantees the command of the whole chain, and having found it, 
in clinging to that link as tightly as possible. If we possessed a staff 
of experienced bricklayers, who had learned to work so well together 
that they could dispense with a guiding line and could place their 
bricks exactly where they were required without one (and, speaking 
abstractly, this is by no means impossible), then perhaps we might seize 
upon some other link. But the unfortunate thing is that we have no 
experienced bricklayers trained to teamwork yet, that bricks are often 
laid where they are not needed at all, that they are not laid according 
to the general line, and are so scattered about that the enemy can 
shatter the structure as if it were made not of bricks but of sand. 
Here is the other comparison: 

"A paper is not merely a collective propagandist and collective 
agitator, it is also a collective organizer. In this respect it can be 
compared 1o the scaffolding erected around a building in construc- 
tion; it marks the contours of the structure and facilitates commun- 
ication between the builders, permitting them to distribute the 
work and to view the common results achieved by their organized 

Does this sound anything like the attempt of an armchair author to 
exaggerate his role? The scaffolding put up around a building is not required 
at all for habitation, it is made of the cheapest material, it is only 
put up temporarily, and as soon as the shell of the structure is completed, 
is scrapped for firewood. As for the building up of revolutionary organ- 
izations, experience shows that sometimes they may be built without 
scaffolding take the 'seventies for example. But at the present time we 
cannot imagine that the building we require can be put up without 

Nadezhdin disagrees with this, and says: "Iskra thinks that as a mat- 
ter of fact people will gather around it, and they will organize. But they 
will find it more interesting to gather and organize around something more 
concre'el" Sol So! "They will find it more interesting to gather around 
something more concrete. ..." There is a Russian proverb which says: 
"Don't spit into the well, you may want to drink out of it." But there 
are people who do not object to drinking from a well which has been 
spat into. What despicable things our magnificent, legal "critics of Marx- 
ism" and illegal admirers of Rabochaya Mysl have said in the name of 
this something more concretel See how restricted our movement is by 
our own narrowness, lack of initiative and hesitation, and yet this is justi- 
fied by the traditional argument about finding it "more interesting to 

* Martynov, quoting the first sentence in this passage in Rabocheye Dyelo (No. 
10, p. 62), left out the second sentence, as if desiring to emphasize by that either 
hit unwillingness to discuss the essentials of the question, or his incapability of 
understanding it. 

WHAT 18 TO BE DONE? 261 

gather around something more concrete!" And Nadezhdin who regards 
himself as being particularly sensitive to "life," who so severely condemns 
"armchair" authors, who (with pretensions to being witty) charges Iskra 
with a weakness for seeing Economism everywhere, and who imagines 
that he stands far above this discrimination between the "orthodox" and 
the "critics" fails to see that with this sort of argument he is playing 
into the hands of the very narrowness against which he is so indignant and 
that he is drinking from a well that has actually been spat into! The sin- 
cerest indignation against narrowness, the most passionate desire to raise 
those who worship this narrowness from their knees, is insufficient if the 
indignant one is swept along without sail or rudder as "spontaneously" 
as the revolutionaries of the 'seventies, and clutches at such things as 
"excitative terror," "agrarian terror," "sounding the tocsin," etc. Glance 
at this something "more concrete" around which he thinks it will be 
"more interesting" to gather and organize: 1) local newspapers; 2) pre- 
parations for demonstrations; 3) work among the unemployed. It will 
be seen at the very first glance that all these have been seized upon at 
random in order to be able to say something, for however we may regard 
them, it would be absurd to see in them anything especially adapted 
for the purpose of "gathering and organizing." This very Nadezhdin a 
few pages further on says: "It is time we simply stated the fact that extreme- 
ly petty work is being carried on in the localities, the committees are 
not doing a tenth of what they could do ... the combining centres that 
we have at the present time are a pure fiction, they represent a sort of 
revolutionary bureaucracy, the members of which mutually appoint each 
other to the post of generals; and so it will continue until strong local 
organizations grow up." These remarks, while exaggerating the posi- 
tion somewhat, express many a bitter truth, but cannot Nadezhdin see 
the connection between the petty work carried on in the localities and the 
narrow outlook of the Party workers, the narrow scope of their activi- 
ties, which is inevitable in view of the lack of training of the Party work- 
ers isolated in their local organizations? Has he, like the author of the 
article on organization published in Svoboda, forgotten how the adoption 
of a broad local press (in 1898) was acompanied by a very strong inten- 
sification of Economism and "primitive methods"? Even if a broad local 
press could be established at all satisfactorily (and we have shown above 
that it is impossible save in very exceptional cases) even then the local 
organs could not "gather and organize" all the revolutionary forces for 
a general attack upon the autocracy and for the leadership of a united 
struggle. Do not forget that we are here discussing only the "gathering," 
the organizing significance of a newspaper, and we could put to Nadezh- 
din, who defends diffuseness, the very question that he himself has 
already put ironically: "Has someone left us a legacy of 200,000 revo- 
lutionary organizers?" Furthermore, "preparations for demonstrations" 
cannot be opposed to Iskra 'a plan for the very reason that this plan includes 

262 V. I. LENIN 

the organization of the widest possible demonstrations as one of its 
aims; the point under discussion is the selection of the practical means. 
On this point also Nadezhdin has become confused and has lost sight of 
the fact that only already "gathered and organized" forces can "prepare 
for" demonstrations (which hitherto, in the overwhelming majority of 
cases, have taken place quite spontaneously) and we lack precisely 
the ability to gather and organize. "Work among the unemployed." Again 
'the same confusion, for this too represents one of the military operations 
of mobilized forces and not a plan to mobilize the forces. The extent to 
which Nadezhdin underestimates the harm caused by our diffuseness, by 
our lack of "200,000 organizers," can be seen from the following: many 
(including Nadezhdin) have reproached Iskra with the paucity of the 
news it gives about unemployment and with the casual nature of the cor- 
respondence it publishes about the most common affairs of rural life. 
The reproach is justified, but Iskra is "guilty without sin." We strive 
to "stretch a line" even through the countryside, but there are almost 
no bricklayers there, and we are obliged to encourage everyone to send 
us information concerning even the most common facts, in the hope 
that this will increase the number of our contributors in this field and 
will ultimately train us all to select the really most outstanding facts. 
But the material on which we can train is so scanty that unless we gener- 
alize it for the whole of Russia we shall have very little to train on at 
all. No doubt one who possesses at least as much capability as an agi- 
tator, and as much knowledge of the life of the vagrant as apparently 
Nadezhdin does, could render priceless service to the movement by carry- 
ing on agitation among the unemployed but such a one would be simply 
burying his talents if he failed to inform all Russian comrades of every 
step he took in his work, in order that others, who, in the mass, as yet 
lack the ability to undertake new kinds of work, might learn from his 

Absolutely everybody now talks about the importance of unity, about 
the necessity for "gathering and organizing," but in the majority of cases 
what is lacking is a definite idea of where to begin and how to bring about 
this unification. Probably everyone will agree that if we "unite," say, the 
district circles in a given city, it will be necessary to have for this purpose 
common institutions, i.e., not merely a common title of "Union" but 
genuinely common work, exchange of material, experience and forces, 
distribution of functions, not only in the given districts but in a whole 
city, according to special tasks. Everyone will agree that a big secret 
apparatus will not pay its way (if one may employ a commercial expres- 
sion) "with the resources" (in material and man power, of course) of 
a single district, and that a single district will not provide sufficient" 
scope for a specialist to develop his talents. But the same thing applies 
to the unification of a number of cities, because even such a field, like 
a single locality, mil prove, and has already proved in the history of our 


Social-Democratic movement, to be too restricted: we have already proved 
this above, in connection with political agitation and organization- 
al work. We must first and foremost widen the field, establish real con- 
tacts between the cities on the basis of regular, common work*, for diffuse- 
ness restricts the activities of our people who are "stuck in a hole" (to 
use the expression employed by a correspondent to Iskrd), not knowing 
what is happening in the world; they have no one to learn from, do not 
know how to acquire experience or satisfy their desire to engage in broad 
activities. And I continue to insist that we can start establishing real 
contacts only with the aid of a common newspaper, as a single, regular, 
all- Russian enterprise, which will summarize the results of all the di- 
verse forms of activity and thereby stimulate our people to march forward 
untiringly along all the innumerable paths which lead to revolution in 
the same way as all roads lead to Rome. If we do not want unity in name 
only, we must arrange for every local circle immediately to assign, say 
a fourth of its forces to active work for the common cause, and the news- 
paper will immediately convey to them the general design, dimensions 
and character of this cause, will indicate to them precisely the most 
serious defects of all- Russian activity, where agitation is lacking and 
where contacts are weak, and point out which small wheels in the great 
general mechanism could be repaired or replaced by better ones. A circle 
that has not yet commenced to work, which is only just seeking work, 
could then start, not like a craftsman in a small separate workshop un- 
aware of the development that has taken place in "industry" before him, 
or of the methods of production prevailing in industry, but as a partici- 
pant in an extensive enterprise that reflects the whole general revolu- 
tionary attack upon the autocracy. And the more perfect the finish 
of each little wheel, the larger the number of detail workers working 
for the common cause, the closer will our network become and the 
less consternation will inevitable police raids call forth in the general 

The mere function of distributing a newspaper will help to establish 
real contacts (that is, if it is a newspaper worthy of the name, i.e., if 
it is issued regularly, not once a month like a magazine, but four times 
a month). At the present time, communication between cities on revolu- 
tionary business is an extreme rarity, and at all events the exception rath- 
er than the rule. If we had a newspaper, however, such communication 
would become the rule and would secure, not only the distribution of the 
newspaper, of course, but also (and what is more important) an interchange 
of experience, of material, of forces and of resources. The scope of organ- 
izational work would immediately become ever so much wider and the 
success of a single locality would serve as a standing encouragement to 
further perfection and a desire to utilize the experience gained by com- 
rades working in other parts of the country. Local work would become 
far richer and more varied than it is now: political and economic expo- 

264 V. I. LENIN 

surcs gathered from all over Russia would provide mental food for the 
workers of all trades and in all stages of development, would provide ma- 
terial and occasion for talks and readings on the most diverse subjects, 
which indeed will be suggested by hints in the legal press, by conversa- 
tions in society and by "shamefaced" government communications. 
Every outbreak, every demonstration, would be weighed and discussed 
in all its aspects all over Russia; it would stimulate a desire to catch up 
with the rest, a desire to excel (we Socialists do not by any means reject 
all rivalry or all "competition"!) and consciously to prepare for that 
which at first appeared to spring up spontaneously, a desire to take advan- 
tage of the favourable conditions in a given district or at a given moment 
for modifying the plan of attack, etc. At the same time, this revival 
of local work would render superfluous that desperate, "convulsive" 
exertion of all efforts and the risking of all men which every single dem- 
onstration or the publication of every single number of a local newspa- 
per now entails. In the first place the police would find it much more dif- 
ficult to dig down to the "roots" because they would not know in what 
district to seek for them. Secondly, regular common work would train 
our people to regulate the force of a given attack in accordance with the 
strength of the forces of the given local detachment of the army (at the 
present time no one ever thinks of doing that, because in nine cases out 
of ten these attacks occur spontaneously), and would facilitate the "trans- 
port" from one place to another, not only of literature, but also of 
revolutionary forces. 

In a great many cases, these forces at the present time shed their blood 
in the cause of restricted local work, but under the circumstances we are 
discussing, occasion would constantly arise for transferring a capable 
agitator or organizer from one end of the country to another. Beginning 
with short journeys on Party business at the Party's expense, our people 
would become accustomed to being maintained by the Party, would 
become professional revolutionaries and would train themselves to become 
real political leaders. 

And if indeed we succeeded in reaching a point when all, or at least 
a considerable majority, of the local committees, local groups and cir- 
cles actively took up work for the common cause we could, in the not 
distant future, establish a daily newspaper that would be regularly distrib- 
uted in tens of thousands of copies over the whole of Russia. This news- 
paper would become a part of an enormous pair of smith's bellows that 
would blow every spark of class struggle and popular indignation into a 
general conflagration. Around what is in itself a very innocent and very 
small, but a regular and common cause, in the full sense of the word, an 
army of tried warriors would systematically gather and receive their 
training. On the ladders and scaffolding of this general organizational 
structure there would soon ascend Social-Democratic Zhelyabovs from 
among our revolutionaries and Russian Bebels from among our workers 


who would take their place at the head of the mobilized army and rouse 
the whole people to settle accounts with the shame and the curse of 

That is what we should dream of. 

"We should dream!" I wrote these words and became alarmed. I imag- 
ined myself sitting at a "unity congress" and opposite me were the 
editors and contributors of Sabocheye Dyelo. Comrade Martynov rises and, 
turning to me, says threateningly: "Permit me to ask you, has an autonom- 
ous editorial board the right to dream without first obtaining permis- 
sion of the Party committee?" He is followed by Comrade Krichevsky who 
(philosophically deepening Comrade Martynov who had long ago deep- 
ened Comrade Plekhanov) continues in the same strain even more threat- 
eningly: "I go further. I ask, has a Marxist any right at all to dream, 
knowing that according to Marx mankind always sets itself only such 
tasks as it can solve and that tactics is a process of growth of Party tasks, 
which grow with the Party?" 

The very thought of these menacing questions sends a cold shiver 
down my back and makes me wish for nothing but a place to hide myself. 
I shall try to hide myself behind the back of Pisarev.* 

"There are differences and differences," wrote Pisarev concerning 
the question of the difference between dreams and reality. "My 
dream may run ahead of the natural progress of events or may fly off 
at a tangent in a direction in which no natural progress of events 
will ever proceed. In the first case my dream will not cause any 
harm; it may even support and strengthen the efforts of toiling 
humanity. . . . There is nothing in such dreams that would distort 
or paralyse labour power. On the contrary, if man were complete- 
ly deprived of the ability to dream in this way, if he could never 
run ahead and mentally conceive, in an entire and completed picture, 
the results of the work he is only ju?t commencing, then I cannot 
imagine what stimulus there would be to induce man to under- 
take and complete extensive and fatiguing work in the sphere 
of art, science and practical work. . . . Divergence between dreams 
and reality causes no harm if only the person dreaming believes 
seriously in his dream, if he attentively observes life, compares 
his observations with the airy castles he builds and if, generally 
speaking, he works conscientiously for the achievement of his 
phantasies. If there is some connection between dreams and life 
then all is well." 

* Famous literary critic of the sixties of the last century who greatly influenced 
the Russian radical intelligentsia. Ed. 

266 V. I. LENIN 

Now of this kind of dreaming there is unfortunately too little in our 
movement. And those most responsible for this are the people who boast 
of their sober views, their "closeness" to the "concrete," i.e., the 
representatives of legal criticism and of illegal khvostism. 

, C. What Type of Organization Do We Require? 

From what has been said the reader will understand that our "tactics- 
as-a-plan" consists of rejecting an immediate call for attack, in demand- 
ing "a regular siege of the enemy fortress," or in other words, in demand- 
ing that all efforts be directed towards gathering, organizing and mobil- 
izing permanent troops. When we ridiculed Rdbocheye Dyelo for its 
leap from Economism to shouting for an attack (for which it clamoured 
in April 1901, in Listok Rabochevo Dyela, No. 6), it of course hurled accu- 
sations against us of being "doctrinaire," of failing to understand our 
revolutionary duty, of calling for caution, etc. Of course we were not in 
the least surprised to hear these accusations coming from those who to- 
tally lack principles and who evade all arguments by references to a pro- 
found "tactics-as-a-process," any more than we were surprised by the fact 
that these accusations were repeated by Nadezhdin who in general 
has a supreme contempt for durable programs and the fundamentals of 

It is said that history never repeats itself. But Nadezhdin is exerting 
every effort to cause it to repeat itself and he zealously imitates Tkachev* 
in strongly condemning "revolutionary culturism," in shouting about 
"sounding the tocsin," about a special "eve of the revolution point of 
view," etc. Apparently, he has forgotten the well-known epigram which 
says: if an original historical event represents a tragedy, the copy of it 
is only a farce. The attempt to seize power, after the ground for the at- 
tempt had been prepared by the preaching of Tkachev and carried out by 
means of the "terrifying" terror which did really terrify, was majestic, ** 
but the "excitative" terror of a little Tkachev is simply ridiculous and 
is particularly ridiculous when it is supplemented by the idea of an 
organization of average workers. 

"If Iskra would only emerge from its sphere of literariness," 
wrote Nadezhdin, "it would realize that these [the workingman's 
letter to Iskra, No. 7, etc.] are symptoms of the fact that soon, very 
soon the 'attack* will commence, and to speak now [sic\] of an 

* A Russian revolutionary writer of the seventies and eighties of 
the last century, publisher of the newspaper Nabat (The Tocsin), in Geneva. 

** Lenin refers to the attempt of the Narodnaya Volya-ites to seize power. 
See article "The Tasks of Russian Social-Democrats." Ed. 


organization linked up with an all-Russian newspaper means pro 
pagating armchair ideas and armchair work." 

What unimaginable confusion this is: on the one hand excitative ter- 
ror and an "organization of average workers" accompanied by the opin- 
ion that it is "more interesting" to gather around something "more 
concrete" like a local newspaper and on the other hand, to talk "now" 
about an all- Russian organization means giving utterance to armchair 
thoughts, or, to speak more frankly and simply, "now" is already too 
late! But what about the "extensive organization of local newspapers" 
is it not too late for that, my dear L. Nadezhdin? And compare this with 
Iskra's point of view and tactics: excitative terror is nonsense; to talk 
about an organization of average workers and about the extensive organi- 
zation of local newspapers means opening the door wide for Economism. 
We must speak about a single all- Russian organization of revolutionaries, 
and it will never be too late to talk about that until the real, and not the 
paper, attack commences. 

"Yes, as far as our situation in regard to organization is con- 
cerned, it is far from brilliant," continues Nadezhdin. "Yes, Iskra is 
absolutely right when it says that the mass of our military forces 
consists of volunteers and insurgents. . . . You do very well in 
thus soberly presenting the state of our forces. But why in doing so do 
you forget that the crowd is not ours, and, consequently, it will not 
ask us when to commence military operations, it will simply go 
and 'rebel.' . . . When the crowd itself breaks out with its elemental 
destructive force it may overwhelm and crush the 'regular troops' 
among whom we had been preparing all the time to introduce ex- 
tremely systematic organization, but had never managed to do so." 
(Our italics.) 

Astonishing logic! Precisely because the "crowd is not ours," it is stu- 
pid and reprehensible to call for an "attack" this very minute, because 
an attack must be made by regular troops and not by a spontaneous out- 
burst of the crowd. It is precisely because the crowd may overwhelm and 
crush the regular troops that we must without fail "manage to keep up" 
with the spontaneous rise of the masses in our work of "introducing ex- 
tremely systematic organization" among the regular troops, for the more 
we "manage" to introduce organization the more probable will it be that 
the regular troops will not be overwhelmed by the crowd, but will take 
their place at the head of the crowd. Nadezhdin is confused because he 
imagines that these systematically organized troops are engaged in 
something that isolates them from the crowd, when as a matter of fact 
they are engaged exclusively in all-sided and all-embracing political 
agitation, i.e., precisely in work that brings them into closer proximity to, 
and merges the elemental destructive force of the crowd with, the con- 

268 V. I. LENIN 

scious destructive force of the organization of revolutionaries. You, 
gentlemen, merely wish to throw the blame for your sins on the shoulders 
of others. For it is precisely the Svoboda group that includes terror in 
its program and by that calls for an organization of terrorists, and such 
an organization would really prevent our troops from coming into prox- 
imity to the crowd which, unfortunately, is still not ours, and which, 
unfortunately, does not yet ask us, or rarely asks us when and how to 
commence military operations. 

"We will miss the revolution itself," continues Nadezhdin in his effort 
to scare Iskra, "in the same way as we missed recent events which came 
at us like a bolt from the blue." This sentence together with the one quot- 
ed above clearly demonstrates the absurdity of the "eve of the revolu- 
tion point of view" invented by Svoboda.* To speak frankly, this special 
"point of view" amounts to this: it is too late "now," to discuss and pre- 
pare. If that is the case, oh most worthy opponent of "literariness," what 
was the use of writing a pamphlet of 132 pages on "questions of theory** 
and tactics"? Don't you think it would have been more becoming for 
the "eve of the revolution point of view" to have issued 132,000 leaflets 
containing the brief call: "Kill them!"? 

Those who place national political agitation at the cornerstone of 
their program, their tactics and their organizational work as Iskra does, 
stand the least risk of missing the revolution. The people who were en- 
gaged over the whole of Russia in weaving a network of organizations to 
be linked up with an all-Russian newspaper not only did not miss the 
spring events but, on the contrary, they enabled us to foretell them. 
Nor did they miss the demonstrations that were described in Iskra, 
Nos. 13 and 14; on the contrary, they took part in those demonstrations, 
clearly appreciating their duty to come to the aid of the spontaneously ris- 
ing crowd and, at the same time, through the medium of the newspaper, 
they helped all the comrades in Russia to become more closely acquaint - 

* The Eve of the Revolution, p. 62. 

** In his Reviev of Questions oj Theory, L. Nadezhdin made almost no contri- 
bution whatever to the discussion of questions of theory apart perhaps from the 
following passage which appears to be a very peculiar one from the "eve of the 
revolution point of view": "Bernsteinism, on the whole, is losing its acutencss 
for us at the present moment, as also is the question as to whether Mr. Adamovich 
[V. V. Vorovsky. Ed.] has proved that Mr. Struve has already deserved distinc- 
tion, or on the contrary whether Mr. Struve will refute Mr. Adamovich and will re- 
fuse to resign it really makes no difference, because the hour of the revolution has 
struck." (P. 110.) One can hardly imagine a more striking illustration of L. Na- 
dezhdin 's infinite disregard for theory. We have proclaimed "the eve of the revo- 
lution," therefore, "it really makes no difference" whether the orthodox Marxists 
will succeed in driving the critics from their positions or not!! And our wiseacre 
fails to see that it is precisely in the time of revolution that we stand in need of 
the results of our theoretical combats with the critics in order to be able resolutely 
to combat their practical positions 1 


ed with these demonstrations and to utilize their experience. And if 
they live they will not miss the revolution which' first and foremost will 
demand of us experience in agitation, ability to support (in a Social- 
Democratic manner) every protest, ability to direct the spontaneous 
movement, and to safeguard it from the mistakes of friends and the traps 
of enemies 1 

This brings us to the final argument that compels us to insist particu- 
larly upon a plan of organization that shall be centred around an all- 
Russian newspaper, to be brought about by means of joint work for a 
common newspaper. Only such a state of organization will secure for 
the Social-Democratic militant organization the necessary flexibility, 
i.e. 9 the ability to adapt itself immediately to the most diverse and rap- 
idly changing conditions of struggle, the ability, "on the one hand, to 
avoid open battle against the overwhelming and concentrated forces of 
the enemy, and, on the other, to take advantage of the clumsiness of the 
enemy and attack him at a time and place he least expects attack."* It 
would be a grievous error indeed to build up the Party organization in 
the expectation only of outbreaks and street fighting, or only upon the 
"forward march of the drab every-day struggle." We must always carry 
on our every-day work and always be prepared for everything, because 
very frequently it is almost impossible to foresee when periods of out- 
breaks will give way to periods of calm. And even in those cases when 
it is possible to do so, it will not be possible to utilize this foresight for 
the purpose of reconstructing our organization, because in an autocratic 
country these changes take place with astonishing rapidity and are some- 
times due merely to a single night raid by the tsarist janizaries. And 
the revolution itself must not by any means be regarded as a single act 
(as Nadezhdin apparently imagines) but as a series of more or less power- 
ful outbreaks rapidly alternating with more or less intense calm. For 
that reason, the principal content of the activity of our Party organiza- 
tion, the focus of this activity, should be to carry on work that is possible 
and necessary in the period of the most powerful outbreaks as well as 
in the period of complete calm, that is to say, work of political agitation 

* lekra, No. 4, "Where To Begin?" "Revolutionary culturists, who do not 
accept the eve of the revolution point of view, are not in the least perturbed by 
the prospect of working for a long period of time," writes Nadezhdin. (P. 62.) 
To this we shall remark: unless we are able to devise political tactics and an 
organizational plan based precisely upon calculations for work over a long period 
of time and at the same time, in the very process of this work, ensure our Party's 
readiness to be at its post and fulfil its duty at the very first, even unexpected, 
call, as soon as the progress of events becomes accelerated, we shall prove to be 
but miserable political adventurers. Only Nadezhdin, who began to describe 
himself as a Social-Democrat only yesterday, can forget that the aim of Social- 
Democracy is radically *o transform the conditions of life of the whole of humanity 
and that for that reason it is not permissible for Social-Democrats to be "perturbed" 
by the question of the duration of the work. 

270 V. I. LENIN 

linked up over the whole of Russia, that will enlighten all aspects of 
life and will be carried on among the broadest possible strata of the 
masses. But this work cannot possibly be carried on in contemporary Russia 
without an all-Russian newspaper, issued very frequently. An organiza- 
tion that springs up spontaneously around this newspaper, an organiza- 
tion of collaborators of this paper (collaborators in the broad sense of 
the word, i.e., all those working for it) will be ready for everything, from 
protecting the honour, the prestige and continuity of the Party in periods 
of acute revolutionary "depression," to preparing for, fixing the t me for 
and carrying out the national armed insurrection. 

Indeed, picture to yourselves a very ordinary occurrence with us 
the complete discovery and arrest of our organization in one or several 
localities. In view of the fact that all the local organizations lack a single, 
common regular task, such raids frequently result in the interruption 
of our work for many months. If, however, all the local organizations 
had one common task, then, in the event of a serious raid, two or three 
energetic persons could in the course of a few weeks establish new youth 
circles, which, as is well known, spring up very quickly even now, and 
link them up with the centre, and when this common task, which has 
been interrupted by the raid, is apparent to all, the new circles could 
spring up and link themselves up with it even more rapidly. 

On the other hand, picture to yourselves a popular uprising. Probably 
everyone will now agree that we must think of this and prepare for it. 
But how to prepare for it? Surely the Central Committee cannot appoint 
agents to go to all the districts for the purpose of preparing for the upris- 
ing! Even if we had a Central Committee it could achieve nothing by 
making such appointments, considering the conditions prevailing in 
contemporary Russia. But a network of agents that would automatically 
be created in the course of establishing and distributing a common news- 
paper would not have to "sit around and wait" for the call to rebellion, 
but would carry on the regular work that would guarantee the highest 
probability of success in the event of a rebellion. Such work would strength- 
en our contacts with the broadest strata of the masses of the workers 
and with all those strata who are discontented with the autocracy, which 
is so important in the event of an uprising. It is precisely such work that 
would help to cultivate the ability properly to estimate the general po- 
litical situation and, consequently, the ability to select the proper mo- 
ment for the uprising. It is precisely such work that would train all lo- 
cal organizations to respond simultaneously to the same political ques- 
tions, incidents and events that excite the whole of Russia, to react to 
these "events" in the most vigorous, uniform and expedient manner possi- 
ble; for is not rebellion in essence the most vigorous, most uniform and 
most expedient "reaction" of the whole of the people to the conduct 
of the government? And finally, such work would train all revolutionary 
organizations all over Russia to maintain the most continuous, and at the 


same time the most secret,' contact with each other, which would create 
real Party unity for without such contacts it will be impossible collec- 
tively to discuss the plan of rebellion and to take the necessary preparatory 
measures on the eve of it, which must be kept in the strictest secrecy. 
In a word, the "plan for an all- Russian political newspaper" does not 
represent the fruits of the work of armchair workers, infected with dog- 
matism and literariness (as it seemed to those who failed to study it proper- 
ly), on the contrary, it is a practical plan to begin immediately to prepare 
on all sides for the uprising, while at the same time never for a moment 
forgetting our ordinary, every-day work. 

272 V. I. LENIN 


The history of Russian Social-Democracy can be divided into three 
distinct periods: 

The first period covers about ten years, approximately the years 1884 
to 1894. This was the period of the rise and consolidation of the theory 
and program of Social-Democracy. The number of adherents of the new 
tendency in Russia could be counted in units. Social-Democracy existed 
without a labour movement; it was, as it were, in its period of gestation. 

The second period covers three or four years 1894-98. In this period 
Social-Democracy appeared in the world as a social movement, as the 
rising of the masses of the people, as a political party. This is the period 
of its childhood and adolescence. The fight against Narodism and going 
among the workers infected the intelligentsia wholesale like an epidemic, 
and the workers were equally infected by strikes. The movement made 
enormous strides. The majority of the leaders were very young people who 
had by no means reached the "age of thirty-five" which to N. Mikhailovsky 
appears to be a sort of natural borderline. Owing to their youth, they proved 
to be untrained for practical work and they left the scene with astonishing 
rapidity. But in the majority of cases the scope of their work was extreme- 
ly wide. Many of them began their revolutionary thinking as Narodnaya- 
Volya-ites. Nearly all of them in their early youth enthusiastically wor- 
shipped the terrorist heroes. It was a great wrench to abandon the captivat- 
ing impressions of these heroic traditions and it was accompanied by 
the breaking-off of personal relationships with people who were deter- 
mined to remain loyal to Narodnaya Volya and for whom the young 
Social-Democrats had profound respect. The struggle compelled them to 
educate themselves, to read the illegal literature of all tendencies and to 
study closely the questions of legal Narodism. Trained in this struggle, 
Social-Democrats went into the labour movement without "for a moment" 
forgetting the theories of Marxism which illumined their path or the task 
of overthrowing the autocracy. The formation of the Party in the spring 
of 1898* was the most striking and at the same time the last act of the 
Social-Democrats in this period. 

* The First Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party was 
held in March of that year. Ed. 


The third period, as we have seen, began in 1897 and definitely re- 
placed the second period in 1898 (1898 ?). This was the period of disper- 
sion, dissolution and vacillation. In the period of adolescence the youth's 
voice breaks. And so, in this period, the voice of Russian Social-Democracy 
began to break, began to strike a false note on the one hand, in the 
productions of Messrs. Struve and Prokopovich, Bulgakov and Berdyaev, 
on the other hand, in the productions of V. I n and R. M., B. Krichevsky 
and Martynov. But it was only the leaders who wandered about separately 
and went back; the movement itself continued to grow, and it advanced 
with enormous strides. The proletarian struggle spread to new strata of 
the workers over the whole of Russia and at the same time indirectly stim- 
ulated the revival of the democratic spirit among the students and among 
other strata of the population. The consciousness of the leaders, however, 
yielded to the breadth and power of the spontaneous upsurge; among 
Social-Democrats, a different streak predominated a streak of Party work- 
ers who had been trained almost exclusively on "legal Marxian" literature, 
and the more the spontaneity of the masses called for consciousness, 
the more the inadequacy of this literature was felt. The leaders not only 
lagged behind in regard to theory ("freedom of criticism") and practice 
("primitiveness"), but even tried to justify their backwardness by all 
sorts of high-flown arguments. Social-Democracy was degraded to the 
level of trade unionism in legal literature by the Brentano-ites and in 
illegal literature by the khvostists. The program of the Credo began to be 
put into operation, especially when the "primitiveness" of the Social- 
Democrats, caused a revival of non- Social-Democratic revolutionary 

And if the reader reproaches me for having dealt in excessive detail 
with a certain Rabocheye Dyelo, I shall say to him in reply: Rabocheye 
Dyclo acquired "historical" significance because it most strikingly re- 
flected the "spirit" of this third period.* It was not the consistent R. M. 
but the weathercock Krichevskys and Martynovs who could properly 
express the confusion and vacillation, and the readiness to make conces- 
sions to "criticism," to "Economism" and to terrorism. It is not the 
lofty contempt for practical work displayed by the worshippers of the 
""absolute" that is characteristic of this period, but the combination of 
pettifogging practice and utter disregard for theory. It was not so much 
the downright rejection of "grand phrases" that the heroes of this period 
engaged in as in the vulgarization of these phrases: scientific Social- 
ism ceased to be an integral revolutionary theory and became a hodge- 

* I could also reply with the German proverb: Den Sack schldgt man, den 
Esel meint man (you beat the sack, but the blows are intended for the ass). It 
^vas not Rabocheye Dyelo alone that was carried away by the fashion of "criticism** 
but also the masse* of practical workers and theoreticians; they became confused 
on the question of spontaneity and lapsed from the Social-Democratic to the 
trade union conception of our political and organizational tasks. 


274 V. I. LENIN 

podge idea "freely" diluted with the contents of every new German text- 
book that appeared; the slogan "class struggle" did not impel them forward 
to wider and more strenuous activity but served as a soothing syrup, be- 
cause the "economic struggle is inseparably linked up with the political 
struggle"; the idea of a party did not serve as a call for the creation 
of a militant organization of revolutionaries, but was used to justify 
some sort of a "revolutionary bureaucracy" and infantile playing at 
democratic" forms . 

When this third period will come to an end and the fourth begin we do 
not know (at all events it is already heralded by many signs). We are 
passing from the sphere of history to the sphere of the present and partly 
to the sphere of the future. But we firmly believe that the fourth period 
will see the consolidation of militant Marxism, that Russian Social- 
Democracy will emerge from the crisis in the full strength of manhood, 
that the place of the rearguard of opportunists will be taken by a "new 
guard," a genuine vanguard of the most revolutionary class. 

In the sense of calling for such a "new guard" and summing up, as it 
were, all that has been expounded above, my reply to the question: 
"What is to be^done?" can be put briefly: 

Liquidate the Third Period. 

Originally published 
as a separate pamphlet 
in 1902, Stuttgart 




When a prolonged, stubborn and fierce struggle is in progress, there 
usually comes a moment when central and fundamental points at issue 
assume prominence, points upon the decision of which the ultimate out- 
come of the campaign depends, and in comparison with which all the minor 
and petty episodes of the struggle recede more and more into the background. 

That is how matters stand with regard to the struggle within our 
Party, which for six months already has been riveting the attention of 
all Party members. And precisely because in the study of the whole strug- 
gle herein presented to the reader I have had to allude to many points 
of detail* which are of infinitesimal interest, and to many squabbles* which 
at bottom are of no interest whatever, I should like from the very outset 
to draw the reader's attention to two really central and fundamental points, 
points which are of tremendous interest, which are unquestionably of 
historical significance, and which are the most urgent political questions 
at issue in our Party today. 

The first question concerns the political significance of the division 
of our Party into a "majority" and a "minority" which took shape at 
the Second Party Congress and relegated all previous divisions amon g 
Russian Social-Democrats to the distant background. 

The second question concerns the significance in point of principle 
of the position taken up by the new Iskra on questions of organization, 
in so far as this position is really one of principle. 

The first question relates to the starting point of the struggle in our 
Party, its source, its causes, and its fundamental political character. 
The second question relates to the ultimate outcome of the struggle, its 
finale, the sum-total of principles resulting from the addition of all that 
relates to the realm of principle and the subtraction of all that relates 
to the realm of squabbling. The answer to the first question is obtained 

* Omitted in the present edition. J&i. 
18* 276 

276 V. I. LENIN 

by analysing the struggle at the Party Congress; the answer to the second, 
by analysing what is new in the principles of the new Iskra. This twofold 
analysis, which constitutes nine-tenths of my pamphlet, leads to the con- 
clusion that the "majority" is the revolutionary, and the "minority" 
the opportunist wing of our Party; the dissensions that divide the two 
wings at the present moment for the most part concern only questions 
of organization, and not questions of program or tactics; the new system 
of views of the new Iskra which emerges the more clearly, the more it 
tries to lend profundity to its posit ion and the more that position becomes 
cleared of all these squabbles about co-option is opportunism in matters 
of organization. 

The principal shortcoming of the existing literature on the crisis 
in our Party is, as far as the study and interpretation of facts are con- 
cerned, that hardly any analysis has been made of the minutes of the Party 
Congress, and as far as the elucidation of fundamental principles of organ- 
ization is concerned, that no analysis has been made of the connection 
which unquestionably exists between the basic error Comrade Martov 
and Comrade Axelrod made in their formulation of the first paragraph 
of the Rules and their defence of that formulation, on the one hand, and 
the whole "system" (in so far as one can speak of a system here at all) 
of the present principles of the Iskra on the question of organization, on 
the other. Apparently, the present editors of the Iskra do not even notice 
this connection, although in the writings of the "majority" the import- 
ance of the dispute over paragraph one has been referred to again and 
again. As a matter of fact, Comrade Axelrod and Comrade Martov are 
now only deepening, developing and extending their initial error with 
tegard to paragraph one. As a matter of fact, the entire position of the 
opportunists on questions of organization already began to be revealed 
in the controversy over paragraph pne: their advocacy of a diffuse, not 
strongly welded, Party organization; their hostility to the idea (the "bu- 
reaucratic" idea) of building the Party from the top downwards, starting 
from the Party Congress and the bodies set up by it; their tendency to 
proceed from the bottom upwards, which would allow every professor, 
every high school student and "every striker" to declare himself a mem- 
ber of the Party; their hostility to the "formalism" which demands that 
a Party member belong to an organization recognized by the Party; their 
inclination towards the mentality of the bourgeois intellectual, who is 
only prepared "platonically to recognize organizational relations"; their 
penchant for opportunist profundity and for anarchist phrases; their par- 
tiality for autonomy as against centralism in a word, all that is now 
blossoming so luxuriantly in the new Iskra, and is helping more and more 
towards a complete and graphic elucidation of the initial error. 

As for the minutes of the Party Congress, the truly undeserved neg- 
lect of them can only be accounted for by the way out controversies have 
been cluttered by squabbles, and possibly by the faqt that these minutes 


contain too large an amount of very unpalatable truth. The minutes of 
the Party Congress present a picture of the actual state of affairs in our 
Party that is unique and invaluable for its accuracy, completeness, com- 
prehensiveness, richness and authenticity; a picture of views, senti- 
ments and plans drawn by the participants in the movement themselves; 
a picture of the political shades existing in the Party, showing their rela- 
tive strength, their mutual relations and their struggles. It is the minutes 
of the Party Congress, and only these minutes, that show to what extent 
we have really succeeded in making a clean sweep of all the survivals of 
the old, narrow, circle tics and in substituting for them a single great party 
tie. It is the duty of e\ery Party member who wishes to take an intelli- 
gent share in the affairs of his Party to make a careful study of our Party 
Congress. 1 say study advisedly, for the mere perusal of the mass of raw 
material contained in the minutes is not enough to give a picture of the 
Congress. Only by careful and independent study can one reach (as one 
should) a stage where the brief digests of the speeches, the dry excerpts 
from the debates, the petty skirmishes over minor (seemingly minor) 
issues will combine to form one whole, and enable the Party member to 
conjure up before his eyes the living figure of each important speaker 
and to obtain a full idea of the political complexion of each group of 
delegates to the Party Congress. If the writer of these lines only succeeds 
in giving the reader an impetus to a broad and independent study of the 
minutes of the Party Congiess, he will not regard his work in vain. 

One more word to the opponents of Social-Democracy. They gloat and 
grimace over our controversies; and, of course, they will try to pick isolat- 
ed passages from my pamphlet, which deals with the defects and short- 
comings of our Party, and to use them for their own ends. The Russian 
Social-Democrats are already steeled enough in battle not to be per- 
turbed by these pinpricks and to continue, in spite of them, their work of 
self-criticism and ruthless exposure of their own shortcomings, which will 
unquestionably and inevitably be overcome as the working-class movement 
grows. As for our opponents, let them try to give us a picture of the true 
state of affairs in their own "parties" even remotely approximating that 
given by the minutes of our Second Congress! 

May 1904 

278 V. I. LENIN 


The Iskra at the very outset, in its advance announcement in 1900, de- 
clared that before we could unite, lines of demarcation must be drawn. The 
Iskra tried to convert the Conference of 1902 into a private meeting and not 
a Party Congress. * The Iskra acted with extreme caution in the summer and 
autumn of 1902 when it revived the Organization Committee** elected at 
that conference. At last the work of demarcation was completed as was 
generally admitted by us. The Organization Committee was set up at the 
very end of 1902. The Iskra welcomed its consolidation and, in an editor- 
ial article in its 32nd issue declared that the calling of a Party Congress 
was a matter of the utmost urgency and immediacy. Hence the last thing we 
can be accused of is having been precipitate in convening the Second Con- 
gress. We were, in fact, guided by the maxim: "measure your cloth seven 
times before you cut it." 


What was the principal task of the Congress? It was to create a real 
party on that basis of principles and organization which had been advanced 
and elaborated by the Iskra. That this was the direction in which the 
Congress had to work was predetermined by the activities of the Iskra 
over a period of three years and by the fact of its recognition by the major- 
ity of the committees. The Iskra's program and policy were to become the 
program and policy of the Party; the Iskra's organizational plans were to 
be embodied in the rules of organization of the Party. But needless to say, 
this result could not be secured without a fight; the highly representative 
character of the Congress ensured the presence both of organizations which 

* See Minutes of the Second Congress, p. 20. 

** The Organization Committee for the purpose of convening the Second 
Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was set up in March 1902 at a conference held in 
Byelostok. Ed. 


had vigorously fought the Iskra (the Bund and the Sabocheye Dyelo) and 
of organizations which, while verbally recognizing the Iskra as the leading 
organ, actually pursued plans of their own and were unstable in matters 
of principle (the Yuzhny Rabochy group and delegates from several of the 
committees who were closely allied to it). This being the case, the Congress 
could not avoid becoming a field of battle for the victory of the "Iskra" trend. 
That the Congress did become such a field of battle will at once be appar- 
ent to all who peruse its minutes with any amount of attention. It is now 
our task to trace in detail the principal groupings that were revealed on the 
various issues at the Congress and to reconstruct, using the precise data of 
the minutes, the political complexion of each of the main groups. What pre- 
cisely did they represent, these groups, trends and shades which were to 
unite in one party at the Congress under the guidance of the Iskra? that 
is the question we have to answer by analysing the debates and the voting. 
The elucidation of this point is of cardinal importance both for a study of 
what our Social-Democrats really stand for and for a comprehension of the 
causes of the differences among them. 


It will be most convenient of all to anahse the debates and the voting 
in the order of the sittings of the Congress, so as successively to note the 
political shades as they became more and more apparent. Departures from 
the chronological order for the purpose of considering closely allied ques- 
tions of similar groupings in conjunction will bemadeonly when absolute- 
ly essential. For the sake of impartiality, we shall endeavour to mention 
all the more important votes, omitting, of course, the innumerable votes 
on minor issues which took up an inordinate amount of time at our Congress 
(partly owing to our inexperience and to our inefficiency in dividing the 
material between the commissions and the plenary sittings, and partly 
owing to protraction which bordered on obstruction). 

The first question to evoke a debate which began to reveal differences of 
shades was whether first place should be given (on the "agenda" of the Con- 
gress) to the item: "Posit ion of the Bund in the Party" (Minutes, pp. 29-33). 
From the standpoint of the /sfcra-ites, which was advocated by Plekhanov, 
Martov, Trotsky and myself, there could be no doubt on this point. The 
Bund's withdrawal from the Party offers graphic confirmation of our 
views: if the Bund refused to go our way and to accept the principles of or- 
ganization which the majority of the Party shared with the Iskra, it would 
be useless and senseless to "pretend" that we were going the same way and 
only drag out the Congress (as the Bundists did drag it out). The question 
had already been made abundantly clear in the literature on the subject, 

280 V. I. LENIN 

and it was apparent *o any thoughtful Party member that the only thing 
that remained was to put the question frankly, and bluntly and honestly 
make the choice: autonomy (in which case we go the same way) or federa- 
tion (in which case our ways part). 

Always evasive in policy, the Bundists wished to be evasive here too 
and to protract the matter. They were joined by Comrade Akimov, who,, 
evidently on behalf of all the followers of Rdbocheye Dyelo, at once gave 
prominence to the differences with the /sfcraover questions of organization 
(MinuteSy p. 31). The Bund and the Rdbocheye Dyelo were supported by 
Comrade Makhov (representing two votes of the Nikolayev Committee 
which had not long prior to this expressed its solidarity with the Iskral)* 
The question was altogether unclear in Comrade Makhov 's opinion, and 
another "ticklish point," he considered, was, "whether we needed a demo- 
cratic system or, on the contrary (mark this!), centralism." 

Thus the /sfcra-ites were opposed by the J3und, the Rdbocheye Dyelo and 
Comrade Makhov, who together controlled the ten votes which were cast 
against us (p. 33). Thirty votes were cast in favour this is the figure, as we 
shall see later, around which the vote of the Js&ra-ites often fluctuated. 
Eleven abstained, apparently not taking the side of either of the contending 
"parties." It is interesting to note that when we took the vote on 2 of 
the Rules of the Bund (it was the rejection of this 2 which induced the 
Bund to withdraw from the Party), the votes in favour and the abstentions 
again amounted to ten (Minutes, p. 289), those who abstained being the 
three Rdbocheye Dyelo-itcs (Brouckere, Martynov and Akimov) and Com- 
rade Makhov. Clearly, the grouping shown in the vote on the place of the 
Bund item on the agenda was not fortuitous. Clearly, all these comrades dif- 
fered with the Iskra not only on the technical ques tion of the order of discus- 
sion, but in essence as well. 

After the vote on the place of the Bund item on the agenda, the question 
of the Borba group arose at the Congress; it too led to an extremely interest- 
ing grouping and was closely bound up with the most "ticklish" point at 
the Congress, namely, the personal composition of the central bodies. The 
commission appointed to determine the composition of the Congress 
had pronounced against inviting the Borba group, in accordance with 
a twice-adopted decision of the Organization Committee (see Minutes* 
p. 383 and p. 375) and the report of its representatives on the commission 
(p. 35). 

Comrade Egorov, a member of the organization Committee, declared that 
"the question of the Borba (mark, of the Borba 9 and not of any particular 
member of this group) was something new to him"; and he demanded the 
adjournment. How a question on which a decision had twice been taken 
by the Organization Committee could be new to a member of the Organiza- 
tion Committee is a mystery. During the adjournment a meeting of the 
'Organization Committee was held (Minutes 9 p. 40), attended by such of 
its members as happened to be at the Congress (several members of the 


Organization Committee, old members of the Ittkra organization, were not 
present at the Congress). A discussion over the Borba began. The Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo-ites (Martynov, Akimov and Brouckere pp. 36-38) pro- 
claimed in favour, the /sfcra-ites (Pavlovich, Sorokin, Lange, Trotsky, Mar- 
tov and others) against. Again the Congress split into the already familiar 
groupings. The struggle over the Borba was a stubborn one, and Comrade 
Martov made a very circumstantial (p. 38) and "militant" speech, in which 
he justly pointed to the "inequality of representation" of the Russian and 
foreign groups, and said that it would hardly be "well" to allow a foreign 
group any "privilege" (words of gold, which are particularly edifying 
today in the light of the events that have occurred since the Congress!), and 
that we should not encourage "the organizational chaos in the Party that 
was marked by a disunity which was not necessitated by any considera- 
tions of principle." 

Apart from the followers of the RabocJieye Dyeh, nobody came out openly 
and with reasoned motives on behalf of Borba until the list of speakers was 
closed (p. 40). 

Af er the list of speakers had been closed, when it was already out ot 
order to speak on the point at issue, Comrade Egorov "insistently demanded 
that the decision just adopted by the Organization Committee should be 
heard." It is not surprising that the delegates were outraged by this manoeu- 
vre, and Comrade Plekhanov, the chairman, expressed his "astonishment 
that Comrade Egorov should insist upon his demand." Two courses were 
open, one would think: either to express oneself frankly and definitely to 
the G)ngress on the question at issue, or to say nothing at all. But to allow 
the list of speakers to be closed and then, under the guise of a "reply to the 
debate," to treat the Congress to a new decision of the Organization Commit- 
tee and on the very subject under discussion was like a stab in the 

The sitting was resumed after dinner, and the Bureau, still in perplex- 
ity, decided to waive "formalities" and to resort to the method of "comrade- 
ly explanation," a method adopted at congresses only in extreme cases, as 
a last resort. Popov, the representative of the Organization Committee,, 
announced the decision of the Organization Committee, which had been 
supported by all its members except one, Pavlovich (p. 43), and which 
recommended the Congress to invite Ryazanov. 

Pavlovich declared that he had continued to deny the legitimacy of the 
meeting of the Organization Committee, and that its new decision "con- 
tradicts its earlier decision" This statement caused a furore. Comrade Ego- 
rov, also a member of the Organization Committee and a member of the 
Yuzhny Rabochy group, evaded a plain answer on the actual subject in 
dispute and tried to shift the issue to one of discipline. He claimed that 
Comrade Pavlovich had violated Party discipline [!], for, having heard his 
protest, the Organization Committee had decided "not to lay Pavlovich '& 
dissenting opinion before the Congress." The debate now centred around 

282 V. L LENIN 

a question of Party discipline, and Plekhanov, amid the loud applause of 
the delegates, explained for the edification of Comrade Egorov that ">e 
Aave no such thing as imperative mandates" (p. 42; c/. p. 379, Standing Or- 
ders of the Congress 7: "The powers of delegates must not be restricted by 
imperative mandates. Delegates are absolutely free and independent in the 
exercise of their powers"). "The Congress is the supreme Party body," and, 
consequently, he violates Party discipline and the standing orders of the 
Congress who in any way restricts a delegate in addressing the Congress 
-directly on any question, without exception, affecting the life of the Party. 
The issue was thus reduced to the dilemma: the circle spirit or the Party 
spirit? Were the rights of the delegates to be restricted at the Congress for 
the sake of the imaginery rights or constitutions of the various bodies and 
circles, or were all lower bodies and old groups to be completely, and not 
nominally, disbanded before the Congress, pending the creation of really 
Party authoritative institutions. The reader already perceives how pro- 
foundly important from the standpoint of principle was this dispute at the 
very outset of the Congress (third sitting), a congress whose actual purpose it 
was to restore the Party. Around this dispute, as it were, concentrated the 
conflict between the old circles and groups (like Y uzh y Rabochy) and the 
renascent Party. And the anti-/jfcra groups at once revealed themselves: 
Abramson, a Bundist, Comrade Martynov, an ardent ally of the present 
Iskra editorial board, and our friend Comrade Makhov all sided with Egorov 
and the Yuzhny Rdbochy group against Pavlovich. Comrade Martynov, who 
is now vying with Martov and Axelrod in making great play of "democracy" 
in organization, even cited the example of ... the army, where an appeal 
to a superior authority can be made only through the lower authority 1 1 The 
true meaning of this "compact" anti-/$fcra opposition was quite clear to 
anybody who was present at the Congress or who had carefully followed the 
internal history of our Party prior to the Congress. It was the purpose of 
the opposition (perhaps not always realized by all of its representatives, 
and sometimes pursued from force of inertia) to guard the indepen- 
dence, individualism and parochial interests of the small groups from 
being swallowed up in the broad Party that was being built on the Iskra 

It was just from this angle that the question was approached by Com- 
rade Martov, who had not yet joined forces with Martynov. Comrade 
Martov vigorously took up the cudgels, and rightly so, against those 
whose "idea of Party discipline does not go beyond the duties of a revo- 
lutionary to the particular group of a lower order to which he belongs." 
""No compulsory [Martov 's italics] grouping can be tolerated within 
a united Party," Martov explained to those who championed 
the methods of the circles, not foreseeing what a flail these words 
"would be for his own political conduct at the end of the Congress 
and after. . . . 



The division of the delegates over the Organization Committee ques- 
tion may perhaps seem casual. But this opinion would be wrong, and in 
order to dispel it we shall depart from the chronological order and will 
now examine an episode which occurred at the end of the Congress, but 
which is very closely connected with the previous episode. This episode 
was the dissolution of the Yuzhny Rabochy group. The organizational 
trend of the Iskra complete union of the Party forces and removal of 
the chaos which divided them here came into conflict with the interests 
of one of the groups, a group which had done useful work when there 
was no real party, but which had become superfluous when the work 
was being centralized. From the standpoint of its circle interests, the 
Yuzhny Rabochy group was no less entitled than the old Iskra editorial 
board to lay claim to "continuity" and inviolability. But in the interests 
of the Party, this group should have submitted to the transfer of its 
forces to "the proper Party organizations" (p. 313, end of resolution 
adopted by the Congress). From the point of view of circle interests and 
"philistinism," the dissolution of a useful group, which no more desired 
it than the old Iskra editorial board, could not but seem a "ticklish 
matter" (the expression used by Comrade Russov and Comrade Deutsch). 
But from the point of view of the interests of the Party, its dissolution, 
"solution" into the Party (Gussev's expression) was essential. The Yuzhny 
Rabochy group bluntly declared that it "did not consider it necessary" 
to proclaim itself dissolved and demanded that "the Congress definitely 
pronounce its opinion" and, what is more, "immediately." yes or no." 
The Yuzhny Rnbochy group openly claimed the "continuity" to which the 
old Iskra editorial board began to lay claim . . . after it had been dissolved! 
"Although we are all individually members of a united party," Com- 
rade Egorov said, "it nevertheless consists of a number of organizations 
with which we have to reckon as historical magnitudes. ... If such an 
organization is not detrimental to the Party, there is no need to dissolve it." 

Thus an important question of principle was quite definitely raised, and 
all the Jtf&ra-ites inasmuch as their own circle interests had not yet 
taken the upper hand took a decisive stand against the unstable elements 
(the Bundists and two of the Rabocheye Dyeto-ites had already withdrawn 
from the Congress; they would undoubtedly have been heart and soul in 
favour of "reckoning with historical magnitudes"). The result of the vote 
.was thirty-one for, five against and five abstentions (the four votes of the 
members of the Yuzhny Rabochy group and one other, that of Belov, 
most likely, judging by his earlier pronouncements, p. 308). A group of 
ten votes distinctly opposed to the Iskra's consistent organizational plan 
and defending the circle principle as against the Party principle, are here 
quite definitely to be discerned in the debate; the Iskra-itcs treated the 
question precisely from the standpoint of principle (see Lange's speech, 

284 V. I. LENIN 

p. 315), opposing amateurishness and disunity, refusing to pay heed to the 
"sympathies" of individual organizations, and plainly declaring that 
"if the comrades of the Yuzhny Rabochy" had adhered more strictly to prin- 
ciple earlier, a year or two ago, the unity of the Party and the triumph of 
the program principles we have sanctioned here would have been achieved 
sooner. This was the spirit expressed by Orlov, by Gussev, by Lyadov, 
by Mufavyov, by Russov, by Pavlovich, by Glebov and by Gorin. Far 
from protesting against these definite references, repeatedly made at the 
Congress, to the lack of principle in the policy and "line" of the Yuzhny 
Rabochy 9 of Makhov and others, far from making any reservation on this 
score, the /sA-ra-ites of the "minority," in the person of Deutsch, vigorously 
associated themselves with these views, condemned "chaos" and welcomed 
the "blunt statement of the question" (p. 315) by Comrade Russov. 

Among the Yuzhny Rabochy group, the proposal to dissolve it evoked 
the most passionate indignation, traces of which are to be found in the 
minutes (it should not be forgotten that the minutes oft'er only a pale 
reflection of the debates, for they do not give the full speeches but only 
very condensed summaries and extracts). Comrade Egorov even called 
the bare reference to the Rabochaya 31ysl group in conjunction with the 
Yuzhny Rabochy group a "lie" a characteristic illustration of the attitude 
towards consistent Economism that prevailed at the Congress. Even much 
later, at the 37th sitting, Egorov spoke of the dissolution of the Yuzhny 
Rabochy group with the utmost irritation (p. 356), requesting to have it 
recorded in the minutes that during the discussion on the Yuzhny Rabochy 
the members of this group were not asked either about publication funds 
or about control by the Central Organ and the Central Committee. During 
the discussion on the Yuzhny Raboc hy, Comrade Popov hinted at a compact 
majority which \vas supposed .to have predetermined the fate of this group. 
"Now," he said (p. 316), "after the speeches of Comrade* Gussev and Orlov, 
everything is clear." The meaning of these words is unmistakable: now, 
after the /*fcra-ites had stated their opinion and had moved a resolution, 
everything was clear, that is, it was clear that the Yuzhny Rabochy group 
would be dissolved against its wishes. 


Let us return and examine the Congress sittings in their proper order. 

We have now convincingly seen that even before the Congress proceeded 
to discuss its actual business, there, were already clearly revealed not only 
a perfectly definite group of anti-/*ira-ites (eight votes), but also a group 
of intermediate and unstable elements who were prepared to support the 
eight anti-/$fcra-ites and increase their votes to roughly sixteen or eighteen. 

The question of the place of the Bund in the Party, which was discussed 


at the Congress in extreme detail excessive detail reduced itself to lay- 
ing down a thesis in principle, while its practical decision was postponed 
until the discussion on organization. In view of the fact that quite a lot of 
space had been devoted in pre-Congress publications to the subjects pertain- 
ing to this question, very little that was new was said at the Congress. It 
must however be mentioned that the supporters of the Rabocheye Dyelo 
(Martynov, Akimov and Brouckere) agreed withMartov's resolution, only 
with the reservation that they realized its inadequacy and differed with its 
conclusions (pp. 69, 73, 83, and 86). 

Having discussed the place of the Bund, the Congress proceeded to con- 
sider the program. The discussion under this head mostly centred around 
particular amendments of slight interest. The opposition of the anti-JsJtra- 
ites on matters of principle found expression only in Comrade Martynov's 
onslaught on the famous question of spontaneity and conscious ness. Mart y- 
nov, of course, was backed by the Bundists and the Rabocheye Dyelo-ites 
to a man. The unsoundness of his objections was pointed out, incidentally, 
by Martov and Plekhanov. It should be noted as a curiosity that the Iskra 
editorial board have now taken their stand withMartynov and are saying 
the very opposite of what they said at the Congress! 

Passing over the dispute about the adoption of Iskra as the central organ 
and the beginning of the debate on the Rules (which it will be more conve- 
nient to examine in connection with the whole discuss ion of the Rules), let 
us proceed to consider the shades of principle that were revealed during 
the discussion of the program. Let us first note one detail of a highly char- 
acteristic nature, namely, the debate on proportional representation. Com- 
rade Egorov of the Yuzhny Rabochy advocated the inclusion of this point 
in the program, and did so in a way that called forth the justified remark 
from Posadovsky (an Iskra -ite of the minority) about "a serious difference 
of opinion." "It is unquestionable," said Comrade Posadovsky, "that we 
do not agree on the following basic question: must we subordinate our fu- 
ture policy to certain fundamental democratic principles and attribute abso- 
lute value to them , or must all democratic principles be exclusively subordinat- 
ed to the interests of our Party? I am decidedly in favour of the latter." 
Plekhanov "fully associated himself" with Posadovsky, objecting in even 
more definite and decisive terms to "the absolute value of democratic princi- 
ples" and to regarding them"abstractly.""Hypothetically," he said, "a case 
is conceivable where we Social-Democrats may oppose universal suffrage. 
There was a time when the bourgeoisie of the Italian republics deprived 
members of the nobility of political rights. The revolutionary proletar- 
iat might restrict the political rights of the upper classes just as the upper 
classes atone time restricted its political rights." Plekhanov's speech was 
greeted with applause and hisses, and when Plekhanov protested against 
somebody 'sZwischenruf,* "You should not hiss," and requested the com- 

* Zwiachenruf - an interjection from the body of the hall. Ed. 

286 V. I. LENIN 

rades not to restrain their demonstrations, Comrade Egorov rose and said: 
"Since such speeches call forth applause, I am obliged to hiss." Together 
with Comrade Goldblatt (a Bund delegate), Comrade Egorov spoke in oppo- 
sition to the views of Posadovsky and Plekhanov. Unfortunately, the de- 
bate was closed, and the question it gave rise to immediately receded into 
the background. 

The Difference was revealed even more distinctly in the discussion on 
"equality of languages" (Minutes, pp. 171 etseq.). On this point it was not 
so much the debate that was so eloquent as the votings: adding them togeth- 
er, we get the incredible number of sixteen*. Over what? Over whether it 
was enough to stipulate in the program the equality of all citizens, irre- 
spective of sex, etc., and language, or whether it was necessary to stipulate 
"freedom of language" or "equality of languages ." Comrade Martov charac- 
terized this episode pretty accurately at the League Congress when he said 
that "a trifling dispute over the formulation of one clause of the program 
acquired fundamental significance because half the Congress was prepared 
to overthrow the Program Commission." Just so. The immediate cause of 
the conflict was indeed trifling, yet it assumed a truly fundamental char- 
acter, and, consequently, frightfully bitter forms, going to the length 
even of attempts to "overthrow" the Program Commission, to the voicing 
of the suspicion that there was a desire "/o mislead the Congress" (of which 
Egorov suspected Martov!), and to personal remarks . . . remarks of the 
most abusive kind (p. 178). Even Comrade Popov "expressed regret that 
mere trifles had given rise to such an atmosphere" (my italics, p. 182) as 
reigned during the course of three sittings (16th, 17th and 18th). 

All these expressions are perfectly explicit and positively indicative of 
the eloquent fact that the atmosphere of "suspicion" and of the most bitter 
forms of conflict ("overthrowing") which was later, at the League Con- 
gress, laid at the door of the 'Iskra-ite majority! actually arose Jong 'be- 
fore we split into a majority and a minority. It was not cutting remarks and 
witticisms that gave rise to the conflict they were only a symptom of the 
fact that the very political grouping at the Congress harboured a "contra- 
diction," that it harboured all the makings of a conflict, that it harboured 
an internal heterogeneity which burst forth with imminent force at the 
least pretext, even the most trifling. 

From the standpoint from which I regard the Congress the desperately 
acute conflict of a fundamental character which arose from a "trifling" 
cause is quite explicable and inevitable. Inasmuch as a struggle between 
the/$ira-ites and the anti-Jsfcra-ites wentonaZZ the time at the Congress, in- 
asmuch as between them stood the unstable elements, and inasmuch as the 
latter, together with the anti-I*fcra-ites, controlled one- third of the votes 
(8+10=18, out of 51, according to my calculation, an approximate one, of 
course), it is perfectly clear and natural that any falling away from the 
"Iskra"-ites of even a small minority should create the possibility of a vic- 
tory for the znti-Iskra trend and should therefore call forth a "frantic" 


struggle. This was not the result of inappropriate cutting remarks and at- 
tacks but of a political combination. It was not that cutting remarks gave 
rise to a political conflict, but that the existence of a political conflict in 
the very grouping at the Congress gave rise to cutting remarks and 
attacks in this juxtaposition lies the root of the fundamental difference 
between our estimate and Martov 's of the political significance of the 
Congress and its results. 

During the Congress there were in all three major cases of a small num- 
ber of Iskra-ites falling away from the majority over the question of equal- 
ity of languages, over 1 of the Rules, and over the elections and in all 
three cases a bitter struggle resulted, leading in the end to the severe crisis 
we have in the Party today. If we want to get a political understanding of 
this crisis and of this struggle, we must examine the political grouping of 
the shades that clashed at the Congress. 

The war opened with a dispute between Comrade Martov and Comrade 
Lieber, the leader of the Bundists (pp. 171-72). Martov argued that the 
demand for "equality of citizens" was enough. "Freedom of language" 
was rejected, but "equality of languages" was at once proposed, and Com- 
rade Egorov joined Lieber in the fray. Martov declared that it was fe- 
tishism "when speakers insist on saying that nationalities are equal and 
transfer inequality to the sphere of language, whereas it is from just the 
opposite angle that the question should be examined: inequality of nation- 
alities exists, and one of its expressions is that people belonging to certain 
nations are deprived of the right to use their mother tongue" (p. 172). 

The grouping of the delegates in this fight is made particularly clear 
by the abundant roll-call votes. There were as many as three. Thelskra 
nucleus was solidly opposed all the time by the anti-lsfcra-ites (eight 
votes) and, with very slight fluctuations, by the whole Centre (Makhov,. 
Lvov, Egorov, Popov, Medvedyev, Ivanov, Tsaryov and Belov only 
the last two vacillated at first, sometimes abstaining, sometimes voting 
with us, and it was only during the third vote that their position became 
fully defined). Of the Jajfcra-ites, several fell away chiefly the Caucasians 
(three with six votes) and thanks to this, the "fetishist" trend in the 
long run gained the upper hand. During the third vote, when the follow- 
ers of both trends had clarified their position most fully, the three Cau- 
casians, with six votes, broke away from the Iskra-ite majority and went 
over to the other side: two delegates Posadovsky and Kostich with 
two votes, fell away from the Iskra-ite minority; the following went 
over to the other side or abstained during the first two votes: Lensky, 
Stepanov and Gorsky of the Iskra-ite majority, and Deutsch of the minor- 
ity. The falling away of eight "Iskra" votes (out of a total of thirty-three) 
gave the superiority to the coalition of the anti-" Iskra" -ites and the unstable 
elements. It was just this basic fact of the Congress grouping which was re- 
peated (only other Iskra-itcs falling away) during the vote on 1 of the 
Rules and during the elections. 

288 V. I. LENIN 


The inconsistency of principle of the anti-/sra-ites and the "Centre" 
was also clearly brought out by the debate on the agrarian program which 
took up so much time at the Congress (see Jtt mutes y pp. 190-226) and 
raised quite a number of extremely interesting questions. As was to be 
expected, the campaign against the program was launched by Comrade 
^Martynov (after a few remarks by Comrades Lieber and Egorov). He 
brought out the old argument about correcting "this particular historical 
injustice,"* whereby, he claimed, we were indirectly "sanctifying other 
historical injustices," and so on. He was joined by Comrade Egorov, to 
-whom even "the significance of this program is unclear. Is it a program 
for ourselves, that is, does it define our demands, or do we want to make 
it popular?" (!?!?) Comrade Lieber "would like to make the same 
points as Comrade Egorov." Comrade Makhov spoke with his 
characteristic decisiveness and declared that "the majority [?] of the 
speakers positively cannot understand what the proposed program means 
and what its aims are." The program submitted, you see "can hardly be 
regarded as a Social-Democratic agrarian program"; it ... "smacks 
somewhat of a game at correcting historical injustices"; it bears "the 
stamp of demagogy and adventurism." As a theoretical justification of 
this profound remark we get the caricature and over-simplification so 
customary in vulgar Marxism: the /^rci-ites, we are told, "want to treat 
the peasants as though their composition were homogeneous; but as the 
peasantry has split up into classes long ago [?], putting forward a single 
program must inevitably render the whole program demagogic and turn 
it into a dubious venture when put into practice" (p. 202). Comrade 
Makhov here "blurted out" the real reason why our agrarian program meets 
with the disapproval of many Social -Democrats who are prepared to re- 
cognize the Iskra (as Makhov himself did), but who have absolutely failed 
to grasp its trend, its theoretical and practical position. It was the vulgar. 
ization of Marxism as applied to present-day Russian peasant economy, 
with all its complexity and variety, and not differences over particular is- 
sues, that gave rise, and still gives rise, to the failure to understand this 
program. And it was on this vulgar Marxist standpoint that the leaders 
of the anti-/$&ra elements (Lieber and Martynov) and of the "Centre" 
(Egorov and Makhov) so quickly found common ground. Comrade Egorov 
gave frank expression also to one of the characteristic traits of the Yuzh- 
ny Rabochyznd of the groups and circles, gravitating towards it, namely, 
their failure to grasp the importance of the peasant movement, their 
failure to grasp that it was an underestimation rather than an overes- 

*. This refers to the demand made in the agrarian program of the R.S.D.L.P. 
that the so-called otrezki t.e., the better portions of land essential to peasant 
farming which were cut off, or inclosed, for the benefit of the landlords at the 
time of the abolition of serfdom in 1861 be returned to the peasants. E&. 


timation of the importance of the movement (and a lack offerees to 
utilize it) that was the weak side of our Social-Democrats at the time of 
the first famous peasant revolts. "I am far from sharing the infatuation 
of the editorial board for the peas ant movement," said Comrade Egorov, 
"an infatuation with which many Social-Democrats have been affected 
since the peas ant disorders." But, unfortunately, Comrade Egorov did not 
take the trouble to give the Congress any precise idea of what this 
infatuation of the editorial board consisted in; he did not take the 
trouble to give any specific reference to the material published by the 
Iskra. Moreover, he forgot that all the basic points of our agrarian 
program had already been developed by the Iskra in its third issue,* 
that is long before the peasant disorders.** He whose "recognition" of 
the Iskra is not merely a verbal one would do well to pay a little 
more heed to its theoretical and tactical principles. 

"No, we cannot do much among the peasants!" Comrade Egorov 
exclaimed, and went on to explain that this exclamation was not meant 
as a protest against any particular "infatuation," but as a denial of our 
entire position: "that means that our slogan cannot compete with an 
adventurist slogan." A most characteristic formulation revealing the lack 
of principle in this attitude, which reduces everything to "competition" 
between the slogans of different parties! And this was said after the speak- 
er had announced his "satisfaction" with the theoretical explanations, 
in which it was stated that we were striving for lasting success in our agi- 
tition, undeterred by temporary failures, and that lasting success (de- 
spite the clamour of momentary "competitors") was impossible without 
a firm theoretical basis to the program (p. 196). What confusion is dis- 
closed by this assurance of "satisfaction," immediately followed as it was 
by a repetition of the vulgar precepts inherited from the old Economism, 
for which the "competition of slogans" decided everything not only the 
agrarian question, but the entire program and tactics of the economic and 
political struggle! "You will not induce the agricultural labourer," Com- 
rade Egorov said, "to fight side by side with the rich peasant for the otrezki, 
which to no small extent are already in the hands of the rich peasant." 
There again you have the over-simplification that is undoubtedly 
akin to our opportunist Economism, which insisted that it was impos- 
sible to "induce" the proletarian to fight for what was to no small ex- 
tent in the hands of the bourgeoisie and would fall into its hands to an 
even larger extent in the future. There again you have the vulgarization 
that forgets the Russian peculiarities of the general capitalist relations 
between the agricultural labourer and the rich peasant. The otrezki are 
now a sore point, and they are a sore point in fact with the agricultural 

* See "The Workers' Party and the Peasantry," Lenin, Selected Works, 
Eng. ed., Vol. II. Ed. 

** The reference is to the peasant revolts of 1902 in the Poltava, Kharkov and 
other provinces. Ed. 


290 V. I. LENIN 

labourer as well, who does not have to be "induced" to fight for emanci- 
pation from his state of servitude. It is certain intellectuals who have to 
be "induced" induced to take a wider view of their tasks, induced to 
renounce stereotyped formulas when discussing specific questions, in- 
duced to take account of the historical situation, which complicates and 
modifies our aims. It is in fact only the prejudice that the muzhik is 
stupid a prejudice which, as Comrade Martov justly remarked (p. 202) 
was to be detected in the speeches of Comrade Makhov and the other 
opponents of the agrarian program only this prejudice explains why 
they forget the actual conditions of life of our agricultural labourers. 

Having simplified the question down to a naked contrast of worker 
and capitalist, the spokesmen of the "Centre" tried, as usual, to ascribe 
their own narrow-mindedness to the muzhik. "It is just because I consid- 
er the muzhik, within the limits of his narrow class outlook, a clever 
fellow," Comrade Makhov remarked, "that 1 believe he will stand for 
the petty-bourgeois ideal of seizure and division." Two things arc obvious- 
ly confused here: the description of the class outlook of the muzhik 
as that of a petty bourgeois, and ike narronnng dowi, the reduction, of 
this outlook to "narrow limits." It is in this reduction that the mistake 
of the Egorovs and Makhovs lies (just as the mistake of the Martynovs 
and Akimovs lay in reducing the outlook of the proletarian to "narrow 
limits"). Yet both logic and history teach us that the petty-bourgeois 
class outlook may be more or less narrow and more or less progresshe, 
just because of the dual status of the petty bourgeois. And far from drop- 
ping our hands in despair because of this narrowness ("stupidity") of the 
muzhik or because he is governed by "prejudice," we must work steadily 
to widen his outlook and to help his reason triumph over his prejudice. 

The vulgar "Marxist" view of the Russian agrarian question found 
its culmination in the concluding words of Comrade Makhov 's speech, 
in which that faithful champion of the old Iskra editorial board set 
forth his principles. It was not for nothing that these words were greeted 
with applause . . . ironical applause, to be sure. "I do not know, of 
course, what to call a misfortune," said Comrade Makhov, outraged by 
Plekhanov's statement that we were not at all alarmed by the 
movement for a black redistribution, and that it is not we who would 
attempt to check this progressive (bourgeois progressive) movement. 
"But this revolution, if it can be called such, would not be a revolution- 
ary one. It would be truer to call it, not revolution, but reaction [laugh- 
ter], a revolution that was more like a riot. . . , Such a revolution would 
throw us back, and it would require a certain amount of time before we 
got back to the position we are in today. Today we have far more than 
during the French Revolution [ironical applause], we have a Social- 
Democratic Party" [laughter}. ... 

We thus find that even on the questions of pure principle raised by the: 
agrarian program, the already familiar grouping at once appeared. The anti- 


JWfera-ites (eight votes) launched into the fray on behalf of vulgar Marx- 
ism, and the leaders of the "Centre," theEgorovs and the Makhovs, trailed 
after them, gradually erring and straying into the same narrow outlook* 
It is therefore quite natural that the voting on certain points of the agrarian 
program should result in 30 and 35 votes in favour (pp. 225 and 226), that 
is, approximately the same figure as we observed in the dispute over the 
order of discussion of the Bund question, in the Organization Committee 
episode, and in the question of dissolving the Yuzhny Rabochy. An issue had 
only to arise which in any way departed from the usual and established 
stereotype and demanded any independent application of Marxist theory to 
social and economic relations that were new (to the Germans) and peculiar, 
and we immediately find that the Iskra-itcs who were able to cope with 
the problems had only three- fifths of the vote, and that the whole "Centre" 
turned and followed the Liebers and the Martynovs. 

The debate on the agrarian program gives a clear picture of the struggle 
of the /afcra-ites against a good two-fifths of the Congress. On this question 
the Caucasian delegates took up an absolutely correct stand due largely to 
the fact, apparently, that a close acquaintance with their numerous local 
feudal survivals warned them against the schoolboyish abstract and naked 
contrasts which satisfied the Makhovs. Martynov, Lieber, Makhov and 
Egorov were combated by Plekhanov, by Gussev (who declared that he 
had had "frequent occasion to meet such a pessimistic view of our work in 
the countryside". . . as Comrade Egorov 's . . . "among the comrades active 
in Russia"), by Kostrov, by Karsky and by Trotsky. The latter rightly 
remarked that the "well-meant advice" of the critics of the agrarian pro- 
gram "smacked too much of philistinism." 

Referring to the arguments which smacked of "philistinism," Tro- 
tsky declared that "in the approaching period of revolution we must form 
ties with the peasantry". . . . "In face of this task, the scepticism and politi- 
cal 4 far-sightedness' of Makhov and Egorov are more harmful than any 
short-sightedness." Comrade Kostich, another minority JsArra-ite, very 
aptly pointed to the "lack of confidence in himself, in the stability of his 
principles" displayed by Comrade Makhov, a description which fits our 
"Centre" admirably. "In his pessimism," Comrade Kostich continued, 
"Comrade Makhov is at one with Comrade Egorov, although they dif- 
fer as to shades. He forgets that the Social-Democrats are already working 
among the peasantry, are already directing their movement as far as pos- 
sible. And their pessimism is narrowing the scope of our work." (P. 210.) 

To conclude our examination of the discussion of the program at tho^ 
Congress, mention should be made of the brief debate on the subject of 
supporting oppositional trends. Our program clearly states that the So- 
cial-Democratic Party supports "every oppositional and revolutionary 
movement directed against the existing social and political order in Russia.'' 9 
It would seem that this last reservation makes it perfectly clear exactly 
which oppositional trends we support. Nevertheless, the various shades 


292 V. I. LENIN 

which had evolved long ago in our Party at once revealed themselves here 
too, difficult as it was to assume that any "perplexity or misunderstandings" 
were still possible on a question which had been digested so thoroughly! 
Evidently, the trouble lay not in misunderstandings, but mshades. Makhov, 
Lieber and Martynov at once sounded the alarm. . . . 

Makhov again began with a vulgar over- simplification of Marxism. 
"Our only revolutionary class is the proletariat," he declared, and from 
this correct premise he at once drew an incorrect conclusion: "The resr 
are of no account, not worth anything [general laughter J. . . . Yes, they are 
not worth anything; all they are out for is their own advantage. I am against 
supporting them." (P. 226.) Comrade Makhov 's inimitable formulation 
of his position embarrassed many (of his supporters), but as a matter of 
fact Lieber and Martynov agreed with him when they proposed to delete 
the word "oppositional" or to restrict it by an addition: "democratic-op- 
positional." Plekhanov quite rightly took up the cudgels against this am- 
endment of Martynov 's. "We must criticize the liberals," he said, "expose 
their half-heartedness. That is true. . . . But, while exposing the narrowness 
and limitations of all movements other than the Social-Democratic, it is 
our duty to explain to the proletariat that even a constitution which docs 
not confer universal suffrage would be a step forward compared with ab- 
solutism, and therefore it should not prefer the existing order to such a 
constitution." Comrades Martynov, Lieber and Makhov did not agree 
with this and stuck to their position, which was attacked by Axclrod, 
Starovyer and Trotsky and once more by Plekhanov. Meanwhile, Comrade 
Makhov managed to surpass himself. He had said at first that the other 
classes (other than the proletariat) were "of no account" and that he was 
"against supporting them." Then he condescended to admit that "while it is 
essentially reactionary, the bourgeoisie is sometimes revolutionary for 
example, in the struggle against feudalism and its survivals." "But there 
are some groups," he continued, "which are always [?] reactionary 
such as the handicraftsmen." Such are the gems of principle arrived at by 
those very leaders of our "Centre" who later foamed at the mouth in defence 
of the old editorial board! Even in Western Europe, where the guild sys- 
tem was so strong, the handicraftsmen, like the other petty bourgeois of 
the towns, were most revolutionary in the era of the fall of absolutism. 
And it is particularly absurd of a Russian Social-Democrat to repeat with- 
out reflection what our Western comrades say about the present-day handi- 
craftsmen, the handicraftsmen of an era separated by a century or half a 
century from the fall of absolutism. To speak, in Russia, of the reactionary 
nature of the handicraftsmen on political questions compared with the 
bourgeoisie is merely to repeat a hackneyed phrase learnt by rote.* 

* Another leader of this same group, the "Centre," Comrade Egorov, spoke 
on the question of supporting the oppositional trends on a different occasion, 
in connection with Axelrod's resolution on the Socialist-Revolutionaries (p. 359). 



Having discussed the program, the Congress proceeded to the Party 
Rules (we pass over the question of the Central Organ and the delegates' 
reports, which the majority of the delegates were unfortunately unable 
to present in a satisfactory form). It need hardly be said that the Party 
Rules were of the utmost importance to all of us. After all, the Iskra 
had acted from the very outset not only as a periodical but as an organi- 
zational nucleus. In an editorial in its fourth issue ("Where To Begin?") the 
Iskra had set forth a whole plan of organization, a plan which it pursued 
systematically and steadily over a period of three years. When the Second 
Party Congress adopted the Iskra as the central organ, two of the three points 
setting forth the motives of the resolution on the subject (p. 147) were 
devoted just to this plan and these ideas oj organization advocated by "Iskra" 
namely, its role in the leadership of the practical work of the Party and the 
leading part it played in the work of attaining unity. It is therefore quite 
natural that the work of the Iskra and the whole work of organizing the 
Party, the whole work of actitaUy restoring the Party, could not be regarded 
as complete unless certain definite ideas of organization were recognized 
by the whole Party and formally enacted. It was this task that the rules 
of Party organization were to perform. 

The principal ideas which the Iskra strove to make the basis of the Par- 
ty's organization amounted essentially to the following two: first, the 
idea of centralism, which defined in principle the method of deciding all 
particular and detail questions of organization; second, the special function 
of an organ, a newspaper, for ideological leadership, an idea which took into 
account the temporary and special requirements of the Russian Social- 
Democratic labour movement amidst conditions of political slavery, on 
the understanding that the primary base of operations for the revolution- 
ary assault would be set up abroad. The first idea, the only correct one in 
principle, was to permeate the whole Rules; the second, being a particular 
idea necessitated by temporary circumstances of place and mode of action, 
took the form of an apparent departure from centralism in the proposal to 
set up two centres, a Central Organ and a Central Committee. Both these 
principal Iskra ideas of Party organization had been developed by me in the 
Iskra editorial (No. 4) "Where To Begin?"* and in What Is To Be Dom\** 

Comrade Egorov detected a "contradiction" between the demand in the program 
to support every opposition al and revolutionary movement and the unfavourctble 
attitude towards both the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the liberals. In another 
form, and approaching the question from a somewhat different angle, Comrade 
Bgotov here revealed the same narrow conception of Marxism, and the same un- 
stable, semi-hostile attitude towards the position of the Iskra (which he had 
"recognized") as Comrades Makhov, Licber and Martynov. 
* See Lenin, Collected Works, Eng. ed., Vol. IV. Ed. 
** Sec this volume, pp. 149-271. Ed. 


and, finally, were explained in detail in a form that practically 
resembled rules in **A Letter to a Comrade.** Actually, all that 
remained was a certain amount of drafting in order to obtain the formu- 
lation of the paragraphs of the Rules which were to embody just those 
ideas, if the recognition of the Iskra was not to be merely nominal, a mere 
conventional phrase* 


Before passing to the really interesting question of the formulation 
of 1 of the Rules, a question which undoubtedy disclosed the existence 
of different shades of opinion, let us dwell a little on that brief general 
discussion of the Rules which occupied the 14th sitting and part of the 
15th sitting of the Congress. Comrade Martov associated himself (p. 157) 
with my views on organization, only making the reservation that he differed 
on two particular points. Both the anti-/*&ra-ites and the "Centre," on 
the contrary, at once launched into the fray against both the basic ideas 
of the Iskra plan of organization (and, consequently, against the Rules in 
their entirety), namely, centralism and the "two centres." Comrade 
Lieber referred to my Rules as "organized distrust" and discerned 
decentralism in the proposal for two centres (as did Comrades Popov and 
Egorov). Comrade Akimov expressed the desire that the jurisdiction of 
the local committees should be defined more widely, in particular, that "the 
right to alter their composition themselves" be conferred on them. "They 
should be allowed greater freedom of action. . . . The local committees 
should be elected by the active workers in their localities, just as the Cen- 
tral Committee is elected by the representatives of all the active organiza- 
tions in Russia. But if even this cannot be allowed, let the number of 
members that the Central Committee may appoint to the local committees 
be limited. . . ." (P. 158.) Comrade Akimov, as you see, suggested an argu- 
ment against "hypertrophy of centralism, "but ComradeMartov remained 
deaf to these weighty arguments until defeat over the question of the 
composition of the central bodies induced him to follow in Akimov 's wake. 
At that time the only opponents of "monstrous centralism" were those 
to whom Iskra's centralism was clearly disadvantageous: it was opposed 
by Akimov, Lieber and Goldblatt, 'followed, cautiously and circum- 
spectly (so that they could always turn back), by Egorov (see pp. 156 
and 272) and others. At that time it was still clear to the vast majority 
in the Party that it was precisely the parochial, circle interests of 
the Bund, Yuzhny Rabochy, etc., that evoked the protest against 


Take Comrade Goldblatt's speech, for example (pp. 160-61). He com- 
plains about my "monstrous" centralism, and claims, that it would lead 
to the "destruction" of the lower organizations, that it is "permeated 
through and through with the desire to confer unrestricted powers on the 
centre and the unrestricted right to interfere in everything," that it con- 
fers on the organizations "only one right the right to submit without a 
murmur to orders from above," etc. "The centre proposed by the draft 
would find itself in a vacuum, it would have no peripheral organizations 
around it, but only an amorphous mass in which its executive agents would 
move." At the Congress the Bund was laughed at when it fought our cen- 
tralism while even more definitely granting unrestricted rights to its own 
central body (for example, to admit and expel members, and even to 
refuse to admit delegates to congresses). 

The grouping was also clearly to be discerned over the question of the 
two central bodies: all the /*ira-ites were opposed by Lieber, by Akimov, 
by Popov and by Egorov. The plan for two central bodies followed logi- 
cally from the ideas of organization which the old Iskra had always ad- 
vocated (and which had been approved, verbally, by Comrades Popov 
and Egorov!). The policy of the old Iskra militated against the plans of 
the Yuzhny Rabochy, the plans to create a parallel popular organ and to 
convert it virtually into the dominant organ. There lies the root of the 
contradiction, so strange at a first glance, that all the anti-/sira-ites and 
the entire Marsh were in favour of one central body, that is, of seeming- 
ly greater centralism. Of course, there were delegates (especially among 
the Marsh) who scarcely had a clear idea where the organizational plans 
of the Yuzhny Rabochy would lead and were bound to lead in the 
course of things, but they were impelled to follow the anti-lrfra-ites by 
their own irresolute characters and lack of self-confidence. 

Of the speeches by Isfcra-ites during this debate on the Rules (the one 
preceding the split among the /sfcra-ites), the most remarkable were those 
of Comrade Martov ("association" with my ideas of organization) and 
Trotsky. The latter answered Comrades Akimov and Lieber as follows: 
"The Rules, he [Comrade Akimov] said, do not define the jurisdiction of the 
Central Committee with enough precision. I cannot agree with him. On 
the contrary, this definition is precise and means that inasmuch as the Party 
is an entity, its control over the local committees must be ensured. 
Comrade Lieber, borrowing my expression, said that the Rules were 'organ- 
ized distrust. 'That is true. But I used this expression in reference to the 
rules proposed by the Bund spokesmen, which represented 'organized 
distrust* on the part of a section of the Party towards the whole Party. 
Our Rules, on the other hand, represent the organized distrust of the Par- 
ty towards all its sections, that is, control over all local, district, nation- 
al and other organizations." (P. 158.) 

296 V. I. LENIN 


In the footnote below * we quote the various formulations around which 
an interesting debate arose at the Congress. This debate took up nearly 
two sittings and ended with tv roll-call votes (during the whole course of 
the Congress, if I am not mistaken, there were only eight roll-call votes, 
which were resorted to only in very important cases because of the great 
loss of time they involved). The question at issue was undoubtedly one 
of principle. The interest of the Congress in the debate was tremendous. 
All the delegates voted a rare occurrence at our Congress (as at any big con- 
gress) and one that likewise testifies to the interest shown by the disputants. 

What, then, was the sum and substance of the matter in dispute? I 
have already said at the Congress and have since repeated it time and 
again that "I by no means consider our difference [over 1] so vital as to 
be a matter of life or death to the Party. We shall certainly not perish 
because of an unfortunate clause in the Rules!" (P. 250.)** Taken by itself, 
this difference, although it disclosed shades of principle, could never have 
called forth that divergence (actually, to speak unreservedly, that split) 
which took place after the Congress. But every slight difference may be- 
come a big difference if it is insisted on, if it is put into the foreground, if 
people set about searching for all the roots and branches of the difference. 
Every slight difference may assume tremendous importance if it serves as 
the starting point for a turn towards definite mistaken views, and if these 
mistaken views, by virtue of new and additional divergences, are combined 
with anarchist actions which bring the Party to the point of a split. 

And that is just how matters stood in the present case. Now, the 
question has been put as follows: was Martov 's formulation, which was sup- 
ported by Axelrod, affected by his (or their) instability, wavering and poli- 
tical vagueness, as I expressed it at the Party Congress (p. 333), by his 
(or their) deviation towards Jauresism and anarchism, as Plekhanov sur- 
mised at the League Congress (League Minutes, p. 102 and elsewhere); 
or was my formulation, which was supported by Plekhanov, affected by a 
wrong, bureaucratic, formalistic, pompadour, un-Social-Democratic con- 
ception of centralism? Opportunism and anarchism, or bureaucracy and for- 
malism? that is the way the question is being put now that the slight 
difference has become a big difference. And when discussing the pros and 
cons of my formulation on their merits, we must bear in mind just this 
statement of the question, which has been forced upon us all by the events. 

* 1 of my draft: "A Party member is one who accepts its program and who 
supports the Party both financially and by personal participation in one of the 
Party organizations." 

1 as formulated by Martov at the Congress and adopted by the Congress: 
*A member of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party is one who accepts 
its program, supports the Party financially and renders it regular personal assis- 
tance under the direction of one of its organizations." 

** Sec "Report on Party Rules," Lenin, Selected Works, Eng. cd., Vol. II. Ed. 


Let us begin the examination of these pros and cons with an analysis 
of the debate at the Congress. The first speech, that of Comrade Egorov, 
is interesting only for the fact that his attitude (non liquet, it is still not 
clear to me, I still do not know where the truth lies) is very characteristic 
of the attitude of many delegates who found it difficult to grasp the 
rights and wrongs of this really new and fairly complex and detailed 
question. The next speech, that of Comrade Axclrod, at once raised 
the question of principle. This was the first speech that Comrade 
Axelrod made at the Congress on questions of principle, or for that mat- 
ter, the first speech he made at all, and it can scarcely be claimed that his 
debut with the celebrated "professor" was particularly fortunate. "I think," 
Comrade Axelrod said, "that we must draw a distinction between the con- 
cepts Party and organization. Yet these two concepts are here being con- 
fused. And the confusion is dangerous." This was the first argument against 
my formulation. Examine it more closely. When I say that the Party 
should be a sum (and not a mere arithmetical sum, but a complex) of organ- 
izations^ docs that mean that I "confuse" the concepts Party and organi- 
zation? Of course not. I thereby express clearly and precisely my wish, my 
demand, that the Party, as the vanguard of the class, should be as organ- 
ized as possible, that the Party should admit to its ranks only such elements 
as lend thewAelvcx loaf least a minimum of organization. My opponent, on the 
contrary, wants to confuse, to mix organized elements and unorganized 
elements in the Party, persons who submit to direction and those who do not, 
the advanced and the incorrigibly backward for the corrigibly backward 
may join the organization. Tins confusion is indeed dangerous. Comrade 
Axelrod further cited the "strictly secret and centralized organizations of 
the past" (the "Zewh/a i Volya" and the "Narodnaya Volya"): around them, 
he said, "were grouped a large number of people who did not belong to the 
organization but who helped it in one way or another and regarded them- 
selves as Party members. . .. This principle should be even more strictly 
observed in the Social-Democratic organization." Here we come to one of 

* The word "organization** is usually employed in two senses, a broad and 
a narrow one. In the narrow sense it signifies an individual nucleus of the human 
collective body, even if constituted to only a minimum degree. In the broad 
sense it signifies the sum of such nuclei welded into a single whole. For example, 
the navy, the army, or the state represents at one and the same time a sum of 
organizations (in the narrow sense of the word) and a variety of social organizations 
(in the broad sense of the word). The Department of Education is an organization 
(in the broad sense of the word) and consists of A number of organizations (in the 
narrow sense ot the word). Similarly, the Party is an organization, and should be 
an organization (in the broad sense of the word); at the same time, the Party should 
consist of a number of various kinds of oiganizations (in the narrow sense of the 
word). Therefore, when he spoke of drawing a distinction between the concepts 
Party and organization, Comrade Axclrod, firstly, did not take account of the 
difference between the broad and the narrow meaning of the word organization, 
and, secondly, did not observe that he himself was confusing organized and un- 
organized elements. 

298 V. L LENIN 

the nodal points of the matter: is "this principle" really a Social-Democrat- 
ic one this principle which allows people who do not belong to any 
of the organizations of the Party and who only "help it in one way or an- 
other" to call themselves Party members? And Plekhanov gave the only 
possible reply to this question when he said: "Axel rod was wrong in citing 
the 'seventies. At that time there was a well-organized and splendidly dis- 
ciplined central body; around it there were the organizations of various 
categories it had created; and outside these organizations there was nothing 
but chaos, anarchy. The component elements of this chaos called them- 
selves party members, but this rather damaged than benefited the cause. We 
should not imitate the anarchy of the 'seventies, but avoid it." Thus "this 
principle," which Comrade Axelrod wanted to pass off as a Social-Democrat- 
ic one, is in reality an anarchist principle. To refute this, one must show 
that control, direction and discipline are possible outside an organization; 
that conferring the title of Party members on "the elements of chaos" 
is necessary. The supporters of Comrade Martov 's formulation did not show, 
and could not show, either of these things. Comrade Axelrod took as an 
example "a professor who regards himself, as a Social-Democrat and 
pronounces himself such. "To complete the thought contained in this exam- 
ple, Comrade Axelrod should have gone on to tell us whether the organized 
Social-Democrats regard this professor as a Social-Democrat. By failing to 
raise this second question, Comrade Axelrod abandoned his argument half- 
way. And, indeed, one thing or the other. Either the organized Social- 
Democrats regard the professor in question as a Social -Democrat, in 
which case why should they not assign him to some Social-Democratic 
organization? For only if the professor were thus assigned would his "pro- 
nouncement" answer to his actions, and not be empty talk (as professorial 
pronouncements all too frequently are). Or the organized Social-Democrats 
do not regard the professor as a Social-Democrat, in which case it would 
be absurd, senseless and harmful to allow him the right to bear the honour- 
able and responsible title of Party member. The matter therefore reduces 
itself to the alternative: either the consistent application of the principle 
of organization, or the sanctification of disunity and anarchy. Are we 
to build the Party on the basis of the already formed and already 
welded nucleus of Social- Democrats which brought about the Party Con- 
gress, for instance, and which is to enlarge and multiply Party organiza- 
tions of all kinds; or are we to content ourselves with the soothing phrase 
that all who help are Party members? "If we adopt Lenin's formula," 
Comrade Axelrod continued, "we shall throw overboard a section of those 
who, although they may not be directly admitted to the organization, 
are nevertheless Party members." The confusion of concepts of which Com- 
rade Axelrod wanted to accuse me, here stands out quite clearly in his 
own case: he already takes it for granted that all who help are Party mem- 
bers, whereas that is what the whole dispute is about, and our opponents 
have still to prove the necessity and value of such an interpretation. 


What is the meaning of the phrase "throwing overboard," which at first 
glance seems so terrible? Even if only members of organizations which are 
recognized as Party organizations are regarded as Party members, still 
people who cannot "directly" join any Party organization may work in an 
organization which is not a Party organization but is associated with the 
Party. Consequently, there can be no talk of throwing anybody overboard, 
in the sense of preventing them from working, from taking part in the 
movement. On the contrary, the stronger our Party organizations consisting 
oreal Social-Democrats are, and the less wavering and instability there 
is within the Party, the broader, the more varied, the richer and more fertile 
will be the influence of the Party on the elements of the working-class 
masses surrounding it and guided by it. After all, the Party, as the vanguard 
of the working class, must not be confused with the entire class. And Com- 
rade Axe Irod is guilty of just this confusion (which is characteristic of our 
opportunist Economism in general) when he says: "We shall first of all, 
of course, create an organization of the most active elements of the Party, 
an organization of revolutionaries; but since we are the party of a class, 
we must take care not to leave outside its ranks people who consciously, 
although perhaps not very actively, associate themselves with that party." 
Firstly, the active elements of the Social-Democratic Labour Party will in- 
clude not only organizations of revolutionaries, but a whole number of work- 
ers' organizations recognized as Party organizations. Secondly, how, by 
what logic, does the conclusion that it is unnecessary to make any distinc- 
tion between those who Mong to the Party and those who associate them- 
selves with the Party follow from the fact that we are the party of a class? 
Just the contrary: precisely because there are differences in degree of con- 
sciousness and degree of activity, a distinction must be made in degree of 
proximity to the Party. We are the Party of a class, and therefore almost 
the entire class (and in times of war, in the period of civil war, the entire 
class) should act under the leadership of our Party, should adhere to our 
Party as closely as possible. But it would be Manilovism* and "khvostism" 
to think that at any time under capitalism the entire class, or almost the 
entire class, would be able to rise to the level of consciousness and activity 
of its vanguard, of its Social-Democratic Party. No sensible Social-Demo- 
crat has ever yet doubted that under capitalism even the trade union 
organizations (which are more primitive and more comprehensible to the 
undeveloped strata) are unable to embrace the entire, or almost the entire 
working class. To forget the distinction between the vanguard and the 
whole of the masses which gravitate towards it, to forget the con- 
stant duty of the vanguard to raise ever wider strata to this most advanced 
level, means merely to deceive oneself, to shut one's eyes to the immensity 

* Manilovism derived from Manilov, one of the characters depicted in Go- 
gol's Dead Souls, characteristic of smug complacency, inertness, vapid phrase- 
mongering. Ed. 

300 V. I. LENIN 

of our tasks, and to narrow down these tasks. And it is just such a shutting 
of one's eyes, it is just such forge tfulness, to obliterate the difference 
between those who associate and those who belong, between those who are 
conscious and active and those who only help. 

To argue that we are the party of a class in justification of organization- 
al vagueness, in justification of confusing organization with disorganiza- 
tion is to repeat the mistake of Nadezhdin, who confused "the philosophical 
and social-historical question of the 'depth ' of the 'roots * of the movement 
with the technical and organizational question." It is this confusion, 
wrought by the deft hand of Comrade Axclrod, that was then repeated 
dozens of times by the speakers who defended Com radeMartov's formula- 
tion. "The more widespread the title of Party member, the better," said 
Martov, without explaining, however, what would be the advantage of a 
widespread title which did not correspond to fact. Can it be denied that 
control over Party members who do not belong to an organization is a mere 
fiction? A widespread fiction is not beneficial, but harmful. "It would only 
be a subject for rejoicing if every striker, every demonstrator, answering 
for his actions, could proclaim himself a Party member." (P. 229.) Is 
that so? Every striker should have the right to proclaim himself a Party 
member? In this statement Comrade Martov at once reduces his mis- 
take to an absurdity, by lowering Social-Democracy to the level of 
mere strike-making, thereby repeating the misadventures of the Aki- 
movs. It would only be a subject for rejoicing if the Social-Democrats 
succeeded in directing every strike, for it is their direct and unquestion- 
able duty to direct every manifestation of the class struggle of the pro- 
letariat, and strikes are one of the most profound and most powerful 
manifestations of that struggle. But we would be khvostists if we were to 
identify this primary form of struggle, which ipso facto is no more than 
a trade unionist form, with the all-round and conscious Social-Democrat- 
ic struggle. We would be opportunistically legitimiiizing a patent falsehood 
if we were to allow every striker the right "to proclaim himself a Party 
member," for in the majority of cases such a "proclamation" would 
be an outright falsehood. We would be consoling ourselves with 
complacent daydreaming if we were to attempt to assure ourselves and 
others that every striker can be a Social-Democrat and a member of the 
Social-Democratic Party, in face of that infinite disunity, oppression 
and stultification which under capitalism is bound to weigh down upon 
such very broad strata of the "untaught," unskilled workers. It is this 
very example of the "striker" that particularly brings out the difference 
between the revolutionary striving to direct every strike in Social-Dem- 
ocratic fashion and the opportunist phrasemongering which proclaims 
every striker a Party member. We are the Party of a class inasmuch as 
we in fact direct almost the entire, or even the entire, proletarian 
class in Social-Democratic fashion; but only people like Akimov can 
conclude from this that we must in word identify the Party and the class. 


"I am not afraid of a conspiratorial organization," said Comrade 
Martov in this same speech; but, he added, "forme a conspiratorial organ- 
ization has meaning only when it is enveloped by a broad Social-Demo- 
cratic Labour Party. " (P. 239.) He should have said to be exact: when 
it is enveloped by a broad Social-Democratic labour movement. And in 
that form Comrade Martov 's proposition would have been not only indis- 
putable, but a direct truism. I dwell on this point only because subsequent 
speakers turned Comrade Martov 's truism into the very common and 
very vulgar argument that Lenin wants "to confine the sum total of Party 
members to the sum total of conspirators." This conclusion, which can 
only provoke a smile, was drawn both by Comrade Posadovsky and by 
Comrade Popov, and when it was taken up by Martynov and Akimov its 
true character as an opportunist phrase became perfectly clear. Today 
this same argument is being developed in the new Iskra by Comrade 
Axelrod in order to acquaint the reading public with the new editorial 
board's new views on organization. Even at the Congress, at the very 
first sitting where the question of 1 was discussed, I remarked that our 
opponents wanted to employ this cheap weapon, and therefore issued 
the warning in my speech (p. 240): "It should not be thought that Party 
organizations must consist solely of professional revolutionaries. We need 
the most diversified organizations of every type, rank and shade, from 
extremely narrow and secret organizations to very broad, free, lose 
Organ isationen." This is such an apparent and self-evident truth that 
I considered it unnecessary to dwell upon it. ... 

I had already pointed this out in What Is To Be Donet and in "A Let- 
ter to a Comrade" I developed this idea in greater detail. The factory 
circles, I wrote there, "are particularly important to us: after all, 
the main strength of the movement lies in the state of organization of 
the workers in the large mills, for the large mills (and factories) contain 
the predominant part of the working class, not only as to numbers but 
even more as to influence, development and fighting capacity. Every 
factory must be our fortress. . . . The factory sub-committee should en- 
deavour to embrace the whole factory, the largest possible number of the 
workers, by a network of all kinds of circles (or agents). . . . All groups, 
circles, sub-committees, etc., should enjoy the status of committee in- 
stitutions, or branches of a committee. Some of them will openly pro- 
claim their wish to join the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party 
and, if endorsed by the committee, will join the Party, will take upon them- 
selves definite functions (on the instructions of, or in agreement with, the 
committee), will undertake to obey the orders of the Party organs, will 
receive the same rights a>s all Party members, will be regarded as immediate 
candidates for election to the committee, etc. Others will not join the 
R.S.D.L.P. and will have the status of circles formed by Party members 
or associated with one or other Party group, etc." (Pp. 17-18.) The 
words I have underscored make it particularly clear that the idea of my 

302 V. I. LENIN 

formulation of 1 was already fully expressed in "A Letter to a Comrade. " 
There the conditions for joining the Party are plainly indicated, namely: 
1) a certain degree of organization, and 2) the endorsement of a Party 
committee. A page later I roughly indicate also. what gxoups and organi- 
zations should (or should not) be admitted to the Party, and for what 
reasons: "Groups of literature distributors should belong to the 
R.S.D.L.P. and know a certain number of its members and function- 
aries. A group for the study of labour conditions and for the drawing up 
of trade union demands need not necessarily belong to the R.S.D.L.P. 
A group of students, officers or office employees engaged in self-education 
in conjunction with one or two Party members should in some cases not 
even be aware that these belong to the Party, etc." (Pp. 18-19.) 

Depending on degree of organization in general and degree of secrecy 
of organization in particular, roughly the following categories may be 
distinguished: 1) organizations of revolutionaries; 2) organizations of 
workers of the broadest and most varied kind (I confine myself to the 
working class, taking it as self-evident that certain elements of other 
classes will also be included here under certain conditions). These two 
categories constitute the Party. Further, 3) organizations of workers 
which are associated with the Party; 4) organizations of workers which 
are not associated with the Party but actually submit to its control and 
direction; 5) unorganized elements of the working class who also come 
partly under the direction of the Social-Democratic Party, at any rate 
during the big manifestations of the class struggle. That, approxi- 
mately, is how the matter presents itself to me. From the point of view 
of Comrade Martov, on the contrary, the border line of the Party remains 
absolutely vague, for "every striker" may "proclaim himself a Party 
member." What is the use of this vagueness? A widespread "title." Its 
harm is that it introduces a disorganizing idea, the confusing of class and 

In illustration of the general propositions we have adduced, let us 
take a cursory glance at the subsequent discussion of 1 at the Congress. 
Comrade Brouckere (to the satisfaction of Comrade Martov) pronounced 
himself in favour of my formulation, but his alliance with me, it appears, 
in contradistinction to Comrade Akimov's alliance with Martov, was 
based on a misunderstanding. Comrade Brouckere did "not agree with 
the Rules as a whole, nor with their entire spirit" (p. 239) and defended 
my formulation as the basis of the democracy which the supporters of the 
Rabocheye Dyelo desire. Comrade Brouckere had not yet risen to the view 
that in a political struggle it is sometimes necessary to choose the lesser 
evil; Comrade Brouckere did not realize that it was useless to advocate 
democracy at a Congress like ours. Comrade Akimov was more perspi- 
cacious. He put the question quite rightly when he admitted that "Com- 
rade Martov and Lenin are arguing as to which [formulation] would best 
achieve their common aim" (p. 252). "Brouckere and I," he continued, 


"want to choose the one which will least achieve that aim. From this angle 
I choose Martov's formulation." And Comrade Akimov frankly explained 
that he considered "their very aim" (that is, the aim of Plekhanov, Mar- 
tov and myself, namely, the creation of a directing organization of revo- 
lutionaries) "impracticable and harmful"; like Comrade Martynov,* 
he advocated the idea of the Economists that "an organization of revo- 
lutionaries" was unnecessary. He was "imbued with the belief that in 
the end the realities of life will force their way into our Party organi- 
zation, irrespective of whether you bar their path with Martov's formu- 
lation or with Lenin's." It would not be worth while dwelling on this 
"khvostist" conception of the "realities of life" if we did not encounter 
it in the case of Comrade Martov too. In general, Comrade Martov's 
second speech (p. 245) is so interesting as to be worth examining in 

Comrade Martov 's first argument: control by the Party organizations 
over Party members not belonging to them "is practicable, inasmuch as, 
having assigned a function to somebody, the committee will be able to 
watch it" (p. 245). This thesis is remarkably characteristic, for it "be- 
trays," if one may say so, who needs Martov's formulation and who will 
find it of service in fact whether freelance intellectuals or workers' 
groups and the worker masses. The fact is that two interpretations of 
Martov's formulation are possible: 1) that anyone who renders the Party 
regular personal assistance under the guidance of one of its organizations 
is entitled "to proclaim himself" (Comrade Martov 's own words) a Party 
member; 2) that every Party organization is entitled to regard anyone as 
a Party member who renders it regular personal assistance under its 
direction. It is only the first interpretation that really gives "every strik- 
er" the opportunity to call himself a Party member, and therefore 
it alone immediately won the hearts of the Liebers, Akimovs and Marty- 
novs. But it is obvious that this interpretation is but an empty phrase, 
because it would fit the entire working class, and the difference between 
Party and class would be obliterated; control over and direction of "every 
striker" can only be spoken of "symbolically." That is why, in his second 
speech, Comrade Martov at once slipped into the second interpretation 
(even though, be it said in parenthesis, it was directly rejected by the 

* Comrade Martynov, however, was anxious to draw a distinction between 
himself and Comrade Akimov; he was anxious to show that conspiratorial does 
not mean secret, that behind the two different words were concealed two different 
concepts. What the difference is, was explained neither by Comrade Martynov 
nor by Comrade Axelrod, who is now following in his footsteps. Comrade Martynov 
tried to "make out" that I had not for example in What Is To Be Done? (as well 
as in the Tasks) resolutely declared my opposition to "confining the polit- 
ical struggle to conspiracies." Comrade Martynov was anxious to have his hearers 
forget that the people I was combating did not see any necessity for an organiza- 
tion of revolutionaries, just as Comrade Akimov does not see it now. 

304 V. I. LENIN 

Congress when it turned down Kostich's resolution p. 255), namely, 
that a committee would assign functions and watch the way they were 
carried out. Of course, no such special assignments would ever be made 
to the mass of the workers, to the thousands of proletarians (of whom Com- 
rade Axelrod and Comrade Martynov spoke) they would frequently 
be given to those professors whom Comrade Axelrod mentioned, to those 
high school students about whom Comrade Lieber and Comrade Popov 
were so concerned (p. 241), and to the revolutionary youth to whom Com- 
rade Axelrod referred in his second speech (p. 242). In a word, Comrade 
Martov's formula would either remain a dead letter, an empty phrase, 
or it would be of benefit mainly and almost exclusively to the "intellectu- 
als who are thoroughly imbued with bourgeois individualism" and who do 
not wish to join the organization. Martov's formulation ostensibly de- 
fends the interests of the broad strata of the proletariat, but in fact> it 
serves the interests of the bourgeois intellectuals, who fight shy of prole- 
tarian discipline and organization. No one will undertake to deny that 
it is precisely its individualism and incapacity for discipline and organiz- 
ation that in general distinguishes the intelligentsia as a separate stra- 
tum of modern capitalist society (see, for example, Kautsky's well-known 
articles on the intelligentsia). This, incidentally, is a feature which 
unfavourably distinguishes this social stratum from the proletariat; 
it is one of the reasons for the flabbiness and instability of the intellec- 
tual, from which the proletariat is so often made to suffer; and this char- 
acteristic of the intellectual is intimately bound up with his customary 
mode of life, his mode of earning a livelihood, which in a great many 
respects approximates to the petty-bourgeois mode of existence (working in 
isolation or in very small groups, etc.). Lastly, it is not fortuitous that 
the defenders of Comrade Markov's formulation were obliged to cite the 
example of professors and high school students! It was not the champions 
of a broad proletarian struggle who, in the controversy over 1, took the 
field against the champions of a radically conspiratorial organization 
as Comrades Martynov and Axelrod thought, but the supporters of bour- 
geois-intellectual individualism , who came into conflict with the support- 
ers of proletarian organization and discipline. 

Comrade Popov said: "Everywhere, in St. Petersburg as in Nikolayev 
or Odessa, as the representatives from these towns testify, there are doz- 
ens of workers who are distributing literature and carrying on word-of- 
mouth agitation but who cannot be members of an organization. They 
may be assigned to an organization, but they cannot be regarded as 
members." (P. 241.) Why they cannot be members of an organization 
Comrade Popov did not divulge. I have already quoted the passage from 
44 A Letter to a Comrade" showing that the admission of all such workers 
(by the hundred, not the dozen) to an organization is possible and essen- 
tial, and, moreover, that a great many of these organizations can and 
should belong to the Party. 


Comrade Martov 's second argument: "Jn Lenin's opinion there should 
be no organizations in the Party other than Party organizations. . . ." 
Quite true! . . . "In my opinion, on the contrary, such organizations 
should exist. Life creates and breeds organizations quicker than we can 
include them in the hierarchy of our militant organization of professional 
revolutionaries. ..." That is untrue in two respects: 1) The number of 
effective organizations of revolutionaries that "life" breeds is far less 
than we need and the working-class movement requires; 2) our Party 
should be a hierarchy not only of organizations of revolutionaries, but 
of a large number of workers' organizations as well. . . . "Lenin thinks 
that the Central Committee will confer the title of Party organization 
only on such as are fully reliable in the matter of principles. But Comrade 
Brouckere understands very well that life [sicl] will claim its own and 
that the Central Committee, in order not to leave a multiplicity of organ- 
izations outside the Party, will have to legitimatize them despite their 
utterly unreliable character; that is why Comrade Brouckere associates 
himself with Lenin. ..." Of course, if the Central Committee had ab- 
solutely to consist of people who were not guided by their own opinions 
but by what others might say, then "life" would "claim its own" in the 
sense that the most backward elements of the Party would gain the upper 
hand. But no intelligent reason can be cited which would induce a sen^ 
sible Central Committee to admit "unreliable" elements to the Party. 
By this very reference to "life," which "breeds" unreliable elements, 
Comrade Martov patently revealed the opportunist character of his plan 
of organization! . . . "But I think," he continued, "that if such an organ- 
ization (one that is not quite reliable) is prepared to accept the Party 
program and Party control, we may admit it to the Party without thereby 
making it a Party organization. I would consider it a great triumph 
for our Party, if, for example, some union of 'independents' were to de- 
clare that they accept the views of Social-Democracy and its program and 
wanted to join the Party; which does not mean, however, that we would 
include the union in a Party organization. . . ." Such is the muddle 
Martov 's formulation leads to: a non-Party organization belonging to the 
Party! Only picture his scheme: the Party=l) an organization of revo- 
lutionaries, -f 2) organizations of workers recognized as Party organiza- 
tions,-}- 3) organizations of workers not recognized as Party organizations 
(consisting principally of "independents "),+ 4) individuals performing 
various functions professors, students, etc., -f-5) "every striker." Along- 
side of this remarkable plan one can only put the words of Comrade 
Lieber: "Our task is not only to organize an organization [!!]; we can and 
should organize a party." (P. 241.) Yes, of course, we can and should 
do this, but what it requires is not meaningless words about "organiz- 
ing organizations," but the plain demand that Party members, should 
work to create an organization in fact. He who talks about "organiz- 
ing a party" and yet defends the use of the word party to screen 


306 V. I. LENIN 

disorganization and disunity of every kind is just indulging in empty 

"Our formulation," Comrade Martov said, "expresses the desire to 
have a series of organizations standing between the organization of revo- 
lutionaries and the masses." It does not. Martov 's formulation does 
not express this truly essential desire, for it does not offer a stimulus to 
organization, does not contain a demand for organization, and does not 
separate the organized from the unorganized. All it offers is a title, and 
in thi connection we cannot but recall Comrade Axelrod J s words: "no 
decree can forbid them" (circles of revolutionary youth and the like) 
"and individuals to call themselves Social-Democrats" (a sacred truth!) 
"and even to regard themselves as part of the Party., . . ." There he is 
absolutely wrongl You cannot, and there is no need, to forbid anyone to 
call himselr a Social-Democrat, for in its direct sense this word only sig- 
nifies a system of convictions, and not definite organizational relations. 
As to forbidding individual circles and persons "to regard themselves as 
part of the Party," that can and should be done when such circles and 
persons injure the Party, corrupt it and disorganize it. It would be absurd 
to speak of the Party as a whole, as a political magnitude, if it could 
not "forbid by decree" a circle to "regard itself as part" of the whole! 
What otherwise would be the point of defining the procedure and condi- 
tions of expulsion from the Party? Comrade Axelrod reduced Comrade 
Martov 's fundamental mistake to an obvious absurdity; he even elevat- 
ed this mistake to an opportunist theory when he added: "In Lenin's 
formulation, 1 is a direct contradiction in principle to the very nature [ ! !] 
and aims of the Social-Democratic Party of the proletariat" (p. 243). 
This means no more and no less than that to make higher demands of the 
Party than of the class is contradictory in principle to the very nature 
of the aims of the proletariat. It is not surprising that Akimov was heart 
and soul in favour of such a theory. 

It should be said in fairness that Comrade Axelrod, who now desires 
to convert this mistaken formulation, one obviously tending towards 
opportunism, into the germ of new views, at the Congress, on the contrary 
expressed a readiness to "bargain," by saying: "But I observe that I am 
hammering at an open door, because Comrade Lenin, with his peripheral 
circles which are to be regarded as part of the Party organization, goes 
out to meet my demand. . . ." (And not only with the peripheral circles, but 
with every kind of workers' union: c/. p. 242 of the Minutes, the speech 
of Comrade Strakhov, and the passages from "A Letter to a Comrade" 
quoted above.) "There still remain the individuals, but here, too, we could 
bargain." I replied to Comrade Axelrod that, generally speaking, I was 
not averse to bargaining, and I must now explain in what rense this was 
meant. As regards the individuals all those professors, high school 
students, etc. I should be inclined least of all to make concessions; 
but if doubts were raised about the workers' organizations, I would have 


agreed (despite the utter lack of foundation for such doubts, as I have 
shown above) to add to my 1 a note to the following effect: "As large 
a number as possible of workers ' organizations which accept the Program 
and Rules of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party should be 
included among the Party organizations." Strictly speaking, of course, 
the place for such a wish is not in the Rules, which should be confined 
to legal definitions, but in explanatory commentaries and pamphlets 
(and I have already stated that I gave such explanations in my pamphlets 
long before the Rules were drawn up); but, at least, such a note would 
not contain even a shadow of a wrong idea capable of leading to disorgan- 
ization, not a shadow of the opportunist arguments * and "anarchist con- 
ceptions" that are undoubtedly to be found in Comrade Martov's for- 

The latter expression, given by me in quotation marks, belongs to 
Comrade Pavlovich, who quite justly characterized as anarchism the rec- 
ognition of "irresponsible and self-styled Party members." "Translated 
into simple language," said Comrade Pavlovich, explaining my formu- 
lation to Comrade Lieber, it means that "if you want to be a Party member 
you must recognize organizational relations, too, not only platonically." 
With no less justice, Comrade Pavlovich pointed to the contradiction 
between Comrade Martov's formulation and the indisputable precept 
of scientific Socialism which Comrade Martov quoted so unhappily: "Our 
Party is the conscious spokesman of an unconscious process." Exactly 
so. And for this very reason it is wrong to want "every striker" to have the 

* To this category of arguments, which inevitably arise when attempts' 
are made to justify Martov's formulation, belongs, in particular, Trotsky's 
statement (pp. 248 and 346) that "opportunism is created by more complex (or: 
is determined by more profound) causes than a clause in the Rules; it is brought 
about by the relative level of development of the bourgeois democracy and the 
proletariat " The point is not that clauses in the Rules may give rise to oppor- 
tunism; the point is to forge with the help of the Rules a more or a less trenchant 
weapon against opportunism. The profounder its causes, the more trenchant 
should this weapon be. Therefore, to justify a formulation which opens the door 
to opportunism by the fact that opportunism has "profound causes" is khvost- 
ism of the purest water. When Trotsky was opposed to Comrade Lieber, he 
understood that the Rules constituted the "organized distrust" of the whole 
towards the part, of the vanguard towards the backward detachment; but when 
Trotsky found himself on Comrade Lieber 's side, he forgot this and even- 
began to justify the weakness and instability of our organization of this dis- 
trust (distrust of opportunism) by talking about "complex causes," the "level 
of development of the proletariat," etc. Here is another of Trotsky's argu- 
ments: "It is much easier for the intellectual youth, organized in one way 
or another, to enter themselves [my italics] on the rolls of the Party." Just so. 
That is why it is the formulation by which even unorganized elements may pro- 
claim themselves Party members that suffers from the vagueness typical of the 
intellectual, and not my formulation which removes the right to "enter oneself 
on the tolls. Trotsky says that if the Central Committee were "not to rccog- 


308 V. I. LENIN 

right to call himself a Party member, for if "every strike" were not 
only a spontaneous expression of a powerful class instinct and of the 
class struggle, which is inevitably leading to the social revolution, but 
a conscious expression of that process, then ... the general strike would 
not be anarchist phrasemongering, then our Party would forthwith and 
at once embrace the whole working class, and, consequently, would at once 
put an end to the entire bourgeois society. If it is to be a conscious 
spokesman tn/acf, the Party must be able to work out such organizational 
relations as will ensure a definite level of consciousness, and systematically 
raise this level. "If we go the way of Martov," Comrade Pavlovich said, 
"we must first of all delete the clause on accepting the program, for be- 
fore a program can be accepted it must be mastered and understood. . . . 
Acceptance of the program presupposes a fairly high level of political 
consciousness." We will never consent to have support of Social-Democracy, 
participation in the struggle it is directing, artificially restricted by any 
demand (mastery, understanding, and the rest), for this participation 
itself, its very manifestation, promotes both consciousness and the instinct 
for organization; but inasmuch as we have joined together in a party in 
order to carry on systematic work, we must see to it that it is system- 

That Comrade Pavlovich 's warning regarding the program was not 
superfluous became apparent at once, in the course of that very same sit- 
ting. Comrades Akimov and Lieber, who got Comrade Martov 's formu- 
lation carried,* at once betrayed their true nature by demanding (pp. 
254-55) that as regards the program too all that was required (for "mem- 

nize" an organization of opportunists it would only be because of the char- 
acter of certain persons, and that once these persons were known as political 
individuals they would not be cj anger ous and could be removed by a general 
Party boycott. This is only true of cases when people have to be removed from 
the Party (and only half true at that, because an organized party removes members 
by a vote and not by a boycott). It is absolutely untrue of the far more frequent 
cases when removal would be absurd, and when all that is required is control. For 
purposes of control, the Central Committee might, on certain conditions, delib- 
erately admit to the Party an organization which was not quite reliable but 
which was capable of working; it might do so with the object of testing it, of 
trying to direct it into the true path, of correcting its partial aberrations by its 
own guidance, etc. This would not be dangerous if in general "self-entering" on 
the Party Tolls were not allowed. It would often be useful for an open and reapon- 
sible, controlled, expression (and discussion) of mistaken views and mistaken 
tactics. "But if legal definitions are to correspond to actual relations, Comrade 
Lenin's formulation must be rejected," said Trotsky, and again he spoke like 
an opportunist. Actual relations are not a dead thing, they live and develop. 
Legal definitions may correspond to the progressive development of these rela- 
tions, but they may also (if these definitions are bad ones) "correspond" to retro- 
gression or stagnation. The latter is the "case" with Comrade Martov. 

* The vote was 28 for and 22 against. Of the eight anti-I*fcra-ites, seven were 
for Martov and one for me. Without the aid of the opportunists, Comrade Martov 
would not have carried through his opportunist formulation. 


bership" in the Party) was platonic recognition, recognition only of its 
"basic principles." "Comrade Akimov's motion is quite logical from Com- 
rade Martov's standpoint," Comrade Pavlovich remarked. 

The grouping of votes over paragraph one of the Rules revealed a 
phenomenon of exactly the same type as the equality of languages epi- 
sode: the falling away of one-quarter (approximately) of the Iskra-ite 
majority made possible the victory of the anti-/$fcra-ites, who were backed 
by the "Centre". . . . 

[Chapters 7, K, L and M have been omitted in the present edition since 
they deal almost exclusively with a description of the petty controversies 
over details of the rules or controversies over the personal composition 
of the central party institutions. Neither the one nor the other are of in- 
terest to the contemporary reader or important in elucidating the dif- 
ferences between the "minority" and the "majority." We give only the 
latter part of Chapter M which refers to a question of tactics touched on 
as far back as the Second Party Congress.] 

An interesting, but, unfortunately, all too brief controversy in which 
a question was discussed on its merits arose in connection with Starovyer's 
resolution on the liberals. As one may judge from the signatures to it 
(pp. 357 and 358), it was adopted by the Congress because three of the 
supporters of the "majority" (Braun, Orlov and Ossipov) voted both 
for it and for Plekhanov's resolution, not perceiving the irreconcilable 
contradiction between the two. The irreconcilable contradiction is not 
apparent at a first glance, because Plekhanov's resolution lays down a gener- 
al principle, outlines a definite attitude as regards both principles and tac- 
tics towards bourgeois liberalism in Russia , whereas Starovyer's attempts to 
define the concrete conditions in which "temporary agreements" would be per- 
missible with "liberal or liberal-democratic trends." The subjects of the two 
resolutions are different. But Starovyer's suffers from political vagueness, 
and is consequently petty and shallow. It does not define the class meaning 
of Russian liberalism, it does not indicate the definite political trends in 
which it is expressed, it does not tell the proletariat what should be the 
major tasks of the latter 's propaganda and agitation in relation to these 
definite trends, it confuses (owing to its vagueness) such different things 
as the student movement and Csvobozhdeniye,* it is too shallow, casuisti- 
cally prescribing three concrete conditions under which "temporary agree- 
ments 11 would be permissible. Here, as in many other cases, political 

* Osvobozhdeniye a bourgeois liberal group organized- in 1902 which served 
as the nucleus of the subsequent major bourgeois party in Russia the Consti- 
tutional Democrats. It published a magazine abroad under the same title, founded 
and edited by Strwye, which was illegally distributed in Russia, -Ed, 

310 V. I. LENIN 

vagueness leads to casuistry. The absence of any general principle and 
the attempt to enumerate "conditions" result in a shallow and, strictly 
speaking, incorrect formulation of these conditions. Just examine Staro- 
vyer 's three conditions: 1) "the liberal or liberal-democratic trends" must 
"clearly and unambiguously declare that in their struggle against the 
autocratic government they will resolutely side with the Russian Social- 
Democrats." What is the difference between the liberal and liberal- 
democratic trends? The resolution furnishes no material for a reply to 
this question. Is it not that the liberal trends voice the position of the 
politically least progressive sections of the bourgeoisie, while the liberal- 
democratic trends voice the position of the more progressive sections of 
the bourgeoisie and of the petty bourgeoisie? If that is so, can Comrade 
Starovyer possibly think that the sections of the bourgeoisie which are 
least progressive (but nevertheless progressive, for otherwise they could 
not be called liberal at all) can "resolutely side with the Social-Democrats"? 
That is absurd, and even if the spokesmen of such a trend were to "declare 
so clearly and unambiguously" (an absolutely impossible assumption), 
we, the party of the proletariat, would be obliged not to believe them. Being 
a liberal and resolutely siding with the Social-Democrats are two mutually 
exclusive things. 

Further, let us assume a case where the "liberal and liberal-democrat- 
ic trends" clearly and unambiguously declare that in their struggle against 
the autocracy they resolutely side with the Socialist-Revolutionaries. 
Such an assumption is far less unlikely than Comrade Starovyer 's (owing 
to the bourgeois-democratic nature of the Socialist-Revolutionary trend). 
It follows from the meaning of his resolution, because of its vagueness and 
casuistry, that in a case like this temporary agreements with such liberals 
would be impermissible. Yet this inevitable deduction from Comrade 
Starovyer 's resolution would lead to a downright false conclusion. Tem- 
porary agreements are permissible with the Socialist- Revolutionaries 
(see the resolution of the Congress on the latter), and, consequently, with 
liberals who side with the Socialist- Revolutionaries. 

Second condition: if these trends "do not put forward in their programs 
demands running counter to the interests of the working class or the de- 
mocracy in general, or demands which obscure their minds." Here we 
have the same mistake again: there never have been, nor can there be, lib- 
eral-democratic trends which did not put forward in their programs de- 
mands that run counter to the interests of the working class and obscure 
their (the proletarians') minds. Even one of the most democratic sections 
of our liberal-democratic trend, the Socialist- Revolutionaries, put 
forward in their program a muddled^progra-m, like all liberal programs 
demands that run counter to the interests of the working class and obscure 
their minds. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that it is essential 
"to expose the limitations and inadequacy of the bourgeois emancipation 
movement," but not that temporary agreements are impermissible. 


Lastly, in the general form in which it is presented, Comrade Staro- 
vyer's third "condition" (that the liberal- democrats should make univer- 
sal, equal, secret and direct suffrage the slogan of their struggle) is wrong: 
it would be unwise to declare impermissible in all cases temporary and par- 
tial agreements with liberal-democratic trends which put forward as 
their slogan the demand for a constitution with a qualified suffrage, for 
a "curtailed" constitution generally. As a matter of fact, this is just the 
category to which the Osvobozhdeniye "trend" belongs, but it would be po- 
litical short-sightedness incompatible with the principles of Marxism 
to tie one's hands in advance by forbidding "temporary agreements" 
even with the most timorous liberals. 

To sum up: Comrade Starovyer J s resolution, to which Comrades Martov 
and Axelrod subscribed their signatures, is a mistake, and the Third Con- 
gress would be wise to rescind it. It suffers from the political vagueness 
of its theoretical and tactical position, from the casuistry of the practical 
"conditions" it stipulates. It confuses two questions: 1) the exposure 
of the "anti-revolutionary and anti-proletarian" features of all liberal- 
democratic trends and the necessity to combat these features, and 2) the 
conditions for temporary and partial agreements with any of these trends. 
It does not give what it should (an analysis of the class meaning of liber- 
alism), and gives what it should not (a prescription of "conditions"). 
It is absurd in general to draw up detailed "conditions" for temporary 
agreements at a Party congress, when even the direct partner, the other 
party to such possible agreements, is unknown; and even if the other party 
were known, it would be a hundred times more rational to leave the 
definition of the "conditions" for a temporary agreement to the central 
institutions of the Party, as the Congress did in relation to the Social- 
ist-Revolutionary "trend" (see Plekhanov's amendment to the end of 
Comrade Axelrod 's resolution Minutes, pp. 362 and 15). 

As to the objections of the "minority" to Plekhanov's resolution, 
Comrade Martov 's only argument was: Plekhanov's resolution "ends 
with the paltry conclusion that a certain writer should be exposed. Would 
this not be using a sledgehammer to kill a fly?" (P. 358.) This argument, 
whose emptiness is concealed by a smart phrase "paltry conclusion" 
is another specimen of pompous phrasemongering. Firstly, Plekhanov's 
resolution speaks of "exposing in the eyes of the proletariat the limita- 
tions and inadequacy of the bourgeois emancipation movement wherever 
such limitations and inadequacy manifest themselves." Hence Comrade 
Martov's assertion (at the League Congress; Minutes, p. 88) that "all 
attention is to be directed only to Struve, only to one liberal" is the sheer- 
est nonsense. Secondly, to compare Mr. Struve to a "fly" when the possi- 
bility of temporary agreements with the Russian liberals is in question, 
is to sacrifice an elementary political truth for a smart phrase. No, 
Mr. Struve is not a fly, but a political magnitude; and it is not because he 
personally jj gflcji a big figure th^t he is a pp.litica.1 magnitude, but because 

312 V. I. LENIN 

of his position as the sole representative of Russian liberalism of liber- 
alism that is at all effectual and organized in the illegal world. There- 
fore, whoever talks of the Russian liberals and of what should be the 
attitude of our Party towards them, and loses sight of Mr. Struve and of 
Osvobozhdeniye 9 is just talking for the sake of talking. Or perhaps Comrade 
Martov will be good enough to point to even one single "liberal or liberal- 
democrajic trend" in Russia which could be even remotely compared today 
with the Osvobozhdeniye trend? It would be interesting to see him tryl 

"Struve 's name means nothing to the workers," said Comrade Kostrov, 
supporting Comrade Martov. I hope Comrade Kostrov and Comrade Martov 
will not be offended but that argument is fully in the style of Akimov. 
It is like the argument about the proletariat in the genitive case.* 

To which workers does "Struve 's name mean nothing" (like the name 
of Osvobozhdeniye , mentioned in Comrade Plekhanov's resolution alongside 
of Mr. Struve)? To those who are very little acquainted, or not at all 
acquainted, with the "liberal and liberal-democratic trends" in Russia. 
One asks, what should have been the attitude of our Party Congress to such 
workers: should it have instructed Party members to acquaint these work- 
ers with the only definite liberal trend in Russia; or should it have re- 
frained from mentioning names with which the workers are little acquainted 
only because they are little acquainted with politics? If Comrade Kostrov, 
having taken one step in the wake of Comrade Akimov, does not want to 
take another step, he will answer this question in the former sense. And 
having answered it in the former sense, he will see how groundless his 
argument was. At any rate, the words "Struve" and "Osvobozhdeniye" 
in Plekhanov's resolution are likely to mean much more to the workers 
than the words "liberal and liberal-democratic trend" in Starovyer's 

Today the Russian worker cannot obtain a practical acquaintance with 
the political trends in our liberal movement that are at all frank, except 
through Osvobozhdeniye. The legal liberal literature is unsuitable for 
this purpose because it is so nebulous. And we must as assiduously as pos- 
sible (and among the broadest possible masses of workers) direct the weap- 
on of our criticism against the followers of Osvobozhdeniye, so that when 
the future revolution breaks out, the Russian proletariat may, with the 
real criticism of weapons, paralyse the inevitable attempts of the 
Osvobozhdeniye gentry to curtail the democratic character of the 

* During the discussion of the Party program at the Congress, the "Economist" 
Akimov (V. Makhnovets) declared that one of the defects of the Iskra's draft 
program, a defect which showed that its authors had forgotten the interests of the 
proletariat, was that it nowhere mentioned the word "proletariat" in the nomi- 
native case, as a subject, but only in the genitive case, in combination with the 
word "party" ("party of the proletariat "). Thjs statement was greeted by a 
outburst of laughter,^, 



We must now sum up, so that we may, on the basis of the entire Con- 
gress material, answer the following question: what elements, groups and 
shades went to make up the final majority and minority which were des- 
tined for a time to become the main division in the Party? We must sum 
up all the material relating to the shades of opinion on matters of princi- 
ple, theory and tactics which the minutes of the Congress provide in such 
abundance. Without a general "summary," without a general picture of 
the Congress as a whole, and of all the principal groupings during the 
voting, this material is too disjointed, too disconnected, so that at first 
sight some groupings seem to be casual, especially to one who does not 
take the trouble to make an independent and comprehensive study of the 
minutes of the Congress (and how many readers have taken that troub- 

In English parliamentary reports we often meet the characteristic 
word "division." The House "divided" into such and such a majority and 
minority it is said when an issue is voted. The "division" of our Social- 
Democratic House on the various issues discussed at the Congress presents 
a picture of the struggle inside the Party, of its shades of opinions and 
groups, that for its completeness and accuracy is unique and invaluable. 
To make the picture more graphic, to obtain a real picture instead of a 
heap of disconnected, disjointed and isolated facts and incidents, to put 
a stop to the endless and senseless controversies over separate divisions 
(who voted for whom and who supported whom?), I have decided to try 
to depict all the basic types of "divisions" at our Congress in the form of 
a diagram. This will probably seem strange to a great many people, 
but I doubt whether any other method can be found that would really 
generalize and summarize the results in the most complete and accurate 
manner possible. Whether a particular delegate voted for or against a 
given motion can be determined with absolute accuracy in cases when a 
roll-call vote was taken; and in certain important cases, even when 
no roll-call vote was taken, it can be determined from the minutes with a 
very high degree of probability, with a sufficient degree of approximation 
to the truth. If we take into account all the roll-call votes and all the other 
votes on issues of any importance (as judged, for example, by the thor- 
oughness and warmth of the debates), we shall obtain a picture of the 
struggle within our Party that will be as objective as the material at our 
disposal permits. In doing so, instead of trying to give a photograph, 
i.e. 9 an image of each vote separately, we shall try to give a picture, 
i.e., to present all the main types of voting, ignoring relatively unimpor- 
tant exceptions and variations which would only confuse matters. In any 
case, anybody wilj be able with the aid of the minutes to check every 

814 V. I. LENIN 

detail of our picture, to supplement it with any particular vote he likes, 
in a word, to criticize it not only by arguments, doubts and references 
to isolated cases, but by drawing a different picture on the basis of the 
same material. 

In marking on the diagram every delegate who took part in the vot- 
ing, we shall indicate by special shading the four main groups which 
we have graced in detail throughout the course of the debates at the Con- 
gress, viz., 1) the /s&ra-ites of the majority; 2) the /sfcra-ites of the minor- 
ity; 3) the "Centre," and 4) the anti-/$fcra-ites. We have seen the differ- 
ence in shades of principle between these groups in a host of instances, 
and if anyone does not like the names of the groups, which remind lovers 
of zigzags too much of the Iskra organization and the Iskra trend, let us 
remark that it is not the name that matters. Now that we have traced the 
shades through all the debates at the Congress it is easy to substitute for 
the already established and familiar Party appellations (which jar on 
the ears of some) a description of the essence of the differences between the 
groups. Were this substitution made, we would obtain the following 
names for these same four groups: 1) consistent revolutionary Social- 
Democrats; 2) minor opportunists; 3) middling opportunists; and 4) ma- 
jor opportunists (major according to our Russian standards). 

We shall now proceed to give a detailed explanation of the types of 
vote which have been "snapped" on this diagram (see diagram: General 
Picture of the Struggle at the Congress). 

The first type of vote (A) covers cases when the "Centre" joined with 
the Iskra-ites against the anti-/s&ra-ites or a part of them. It includes the 
vote on the program as a whole (Comrade Akimov alone abstained, all 
the others voted for); the vote on the resolution condemning federation 
in principle (all voted for, except the five Bundists); the vote on 2 of the 
Bund rules (the five Bundists voted against us; five abstained, viz.: Marty- 
nov, Akimov, Brouckere and Makhov, the latter with two votes, the rest 
were with us); it is this vote that is represented in diagram A. Further, 
the three votes on the question of endorsing the Iskra as the central organ 
of the Party were also of this type: the editors (five votes) abstained; in 
all the three divisions two voted against (Akimov and Brouckere) and, in 
addition, when the vote on the motives for endorsing the Iskra was taken, 
the five Bundists and Comrade Martynov abstained.* 

This type of vote provides an answer to a very interesting and important 
question, namely, when did the Congress "Centre" vote with the /sfcra-ites? 

* Why was the vote on 2 of the Bund rules taken as an illustration in the 
diagram? Because the votes on the question of endorsing the Iskra were less com- 
plete, while the votes on the program and on the question of federation refer to 
political decisions of a less clearly defined character. Speaking generally, the 
choice of any other one. of a number of votes of the same type will not in the least 
affect the main features of the pictUfC, as, Anyone may easily see by making the 
corresponding changes, 




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816 V. I. LENIN 

Either when the anti-"Iskra" -ites, too, were with us, with a few exceptions 
(adoption of the program, or endorsement of the Iskra without the motives 
stated), or else when it involved the sort of statement which was not in itself 
a direct committal to a definite political position (recognition of the organ- 
izing work of the Iskra was not in itself a committal to carry out its organ- 
izational policy in relation to particular groups; rejection of the princi- 
ple of federation did not preclude abstention from voting on a specific 
scheme of federation, as we have seen in the case of Comrade Makhov). 
We have already seen, when speaking of the significance of the groupings 
at the Congress in general, how falsely this matter is put in the official 
account of the official Iskra, which (through the mouth of Comrade Mar- 
tov) slurs and glosses over the difference between the Iskra-ites and the 
"Centre," between the consistent revolutionary Social-Democrats and 
the opportunists, by citing cases when the anti-" Iskra" -ites, too, sided 
with us\ Even the most "Right-wing" of the opportunists in the German 
and French Social-Democratic parties never vote against such points as 
the adoption of the program as a whole. 

The second type of division (B) covers the cases when the /&ra-ites, 
consistent and inconsistent, voted together against all the anti-/sfcra-ites 
and the entire "Centre." These were mostly cases that involved giving 
effect to definite and specific plans of the Iskra policy, of endorsing the 
Iskra in fact and not only in word. They include the Organization Committee 
episode;* the question whether the position of the Bund in the Party should 
be the first item on the agenda; the dissolution of the Yuzhny Rdbochy 
group; the two votes on the agiarian program, and, sixthly and lastly, 
the vote against the Foreign Union of Russian Social-Democrats (Rabocheye 
Dyelo), that is, the recognition of the League as the only Party organization 
abroad. In cases like these the old, pre- Party, circle spirit, the interests of 
the opportunist organizations or groups, the narrow conception of Marxism, 
were at issue with the strictly consistent principles of the policy of revolu- 
tionary Social-Democracy, the Iskra-ites of the minority still sided with 
us in a number of cases, in a number of exceedingly important votes (im- 
portant from the standpoint of the Organization Committee, Yuzhny 

* It is this vote that is depicted in Diagram B: the Isfcra-ites secured thirty- 
two votes; the Bund 1st resolution sixteen. It should be pointed out that not one 
of the votes of this type was by roll-call. The way the individual delegates voted 
can only be established although to a very high degree of probability by two 
sets of evidence: 1) in the debate the speakers of both groups of Jskra-ites spoke 
in favour, those of the ant i-Iakra- ites and the Centre against; 2) the number of 
votes cast in favour was always very close tp thirty-three. Nor should h be forgotten 
that when analysing the debates at the Congress we pointed $ut, quite apart from 
the voting, a number of cases when the "Centre" sided ^ijth the ant i'/ife?^ ites 
(the opportunists) against us. Some of these issues were: the absolute valu% of 
'democratic demands, whether we should support the opposition elements,. restive* 
tion of centralism, etc, 


Rabochy and Rabocheye Dyelo) . . . until their own circle spirit and their own 
inconsistencies came on the carpet. The "divisions" of this type make it 
quite clear that on a number of issues involving the practical application 
of our principles, the Centre joined forces with the anti-"Iskra"-ites 9 dis- 
playing a much greater kinship with them than with us, a greater incli- 
nation in practice towards the opportunist than towards the revolutionary 
wing of Social-Democracy. Those who were Iskra-ites in name but were 
ashamed to be Iskra-ites revealed their true nature; and the struggle that 
inevitably ensued caused no little irritation which obscured from the least 
thoughtful and most impressionable the significance of the shades of prin- 
ciple revealed in the course of the struggle. But now that the ardour of bat- 
tle has somewhat abated and the minutes remain as an unbiased extract of a 
series of heated battles, only those who will not see can fail to perceive 
that the alliance of the Makhovs and Egorovs with the Akimovs and 
Liebers was not, and could not be, casual. 

The distinguishing feature of the third type of vote at the Congress, 
represented by the three remaining parts of the diagram (C, D and E), 
is that a small section of the "Iskra"-ites broke away and went over to the 
anti-"Iskra"-ites, who accordingly gained the victory (as long as they 
remained at the Congress). In order to trace with the fullest accuracy the 
development of this coalition of the /sfcra-ite minority with the anti-/sAra- 
ites, we have reproduced all the three main types of roll- call votes of this 
kind. C is the vote on the equality of languages (the last of the three roll- 
call votes on this question is given, it being the most complete). All the 
anti-/s&ra-ites and the whole Centre stood solid against us, whereas a 
part of the majority and a part of the minority separated from the Iskra- 
ites. It was not yet clear which of the "Iskra"-ites were capable of forming a 
definite and lasting coalition with the opportunist "Right- wing" of the 
Congress. Next comes type D the vote on paragraph one of the Rules (of 
the two votes, we have taken the one which was more clear cut, that is, in 
which there were no abstentions). The coalition becomes more distinct and 
more lasting, all the Iskra-ites of the minority are now on the side of Aki- 
mov and Lieber, but only a very small number of Iskra-ites of the ma- 
jority, these counterbalancing three of the "Centre" and one anti-/sfcra-ite 
who had come over to our side. A mere glance at the diagram will show 
which elements shifted from side to side casually and temporal]] y and 
which were drawn with irresistible force towards a lasting coalition with the 
Akimovs. The last vote (E elections to the central organ, the Central 
Committee and the Party Council), which in fact represents the final 
division into a majority and a minority, clearly reveals the complete fusion of 
the Iskra-ite minority with the entire "Centre" and the remnants of the 
anti-jfe&ra-ites. By this time, of the eight anti-Isfcra-ites, only Comrade 
Brouckere remained at the Congress (Comrade Akimov had already 
explained his mistake to him and he had taken his proper place 
in the ranks of the Martovites). The withdrawal of the seven most 

318 V. I. LENIN 

"Right 99 of the opportunists decided the issue of the elections against 
Martov. * 

And now, with the aid of the objective evidence of votes of every type, 
let us sum up the results of the Congress. 

There has been much talk to the effect that the majority at our Con- 
gress was "casual." The diagram clearly shows that in one sense, but in 
that one only, the majority may be called casual, viz., in the sense 
that the withdrawal of the seven most opportunist delegates of the "Right 99 
was casual. Only to the extent that this withdrawal was casual (and no 
more) was our majority casual. A mere glance at the diagram will show 
better than any long argument on whose side these seven would have been, 
were bound to have been. ** But the question arises : how far was the withdraw- 
al of the seven really casual? That is a question which those who talk 
freely about the "casual" character of the majority do not like to ask 
themselves. They find it an unpleasant question. Was it a casual thing 
that the most arrant representatives of the Right wing, and not of 
the Left wing, of our Party were the ones to withdraw? Was it a casual 
thing that it was opportunists who withdrew, and not consistent revolu- 
tionary Social- Democrats'? Is there no connection between this "casual" 
withdrawal and the struggle against the opportunist wing which was 
waged all through the Congress and which stands out so clearly in our 

One has only to ask these questions, which are so unpleasant to the 
minority, to realize what fact all this talk about the casual character of 
the majority is intended to conceal. It is the unquestionable and incontro- 
vertible fact that the minority was composed of those members of our Party 
who were most inclined to gravitate towards opportunism. The minority was 
composed of the elements in our Party who were the, least stable in theory 
and the least consistent in matters of principle. It was from the Right wing 
of the Party that the minority was formed. The division into a majority 
and a minority is a direct and inevitable continuation of that division 
of the Social-Democrats into a revolutionary wing and an opportunist 
wing, into a Mountain and aGironde, which did not appear only yesterday, 
nor in the Russian Workers ' Party alone, and which no doubt will not 
disappear to-morrow. 

* The seven opportunists who withdrew from the Second Congress were the 
five Bundists (the Bund withdrew from the Party after the principle of federation 
had been rejected by the Congress) and two Rabocheye Dyelo delegates, Comrade 
Martynov and Comrade Akimov. These latter left the Congress after the lekra- 
ite League had been recognized as the only Party organization abroad, i.e., after 
the Rabocheye Dyelo-ite Foreign "Union" of Russian Social-Democrats had been 
dissolved. (Lenin's footnote to the 1908 edition. Ed.) 

** We shall see later that after the Congress both Comrade Akimov and the 
Voronezh Committee, which has the closest kinship with Comrade Akimov, explic- 
itly expressed their sympathy with the "minority." 


This fact is of cardinal importance for an elucidation of the causes and 
the various stages of our disagreements. Whoever tries to evade the fact 
by denying or glossing over the struggle at the Congress and the shades of 
principle that emerged there, simply testifies to his own intellectual and 
political poverty. But in order to disprove the fact, it would have to be 
shown, in the first place, that the general picture of the votes and "divi- 
sions" at our Party Congress was different from the one I have drawn; and, 
in the second place, that it was the most consistent revolutionary Social- 
Democrats, those who in Russia have adopted the name of Iskra-ites, 
who were wrong in substance on all those issues over which the Congress 

The fact that the minority cons is ted of the most opportunist, the most un- 
stable and least consistent elements of the Party incidentally provides an 
answer to those numerous perplexities and objections that are addressed to 
the majority by people who are imperfectly acquainted with the matter, or 
have not given it sufficient thought. Is it not shallow, we are told, to account 
for the disagreement by a minor mistake of Comrade Mar tov and Comrade 
Axelrod? Yes, gentlemen, Comrade Martov 's mistake was a minor one (and 
I said so even at the Congress, in the heat of the struggle); but this minor 
mistake might cause (and did cause) a lot of harm owing to the fact that 
Comrade Martov was pulled over to the side of delegates who had made num- 
bers of mistakes and had manifested a tendency to opportunism and incon- 
sistency of principle on numbers of questions. That Comrade Martov and 
Comrade Axelrod should have displayed instability was an individual and 
unimportant fact; it was not an individual fact, however, but a Party fact, 
and a not altogether unimportant one, that a very considerable minority had 
been formed of all the least stable elements , of all who either rejected Islcra *s 
trend altogether and openly opposed it, or paid lip-service to it but actual- 
ly sided time and again with the anti-/sfcra-ites. 

Is it not absurd to account for the disagreement by the prevalence of 
an inveterate circle spirit and revolutionary philistinism in the small cir- 
cle comprised by ihtoldlskra editorial board? No, it is not absurd, because 
all those in our Party who all through the Congress had fought for every 
kind of circle, all those who were generally incapable of rising above revolu- 
tionary philistinism, all those who spoke of the "historical" character of the 
philistine and circle spirit to justify and preserve that evil, rose up in sup- 
port of this particular circle. The fact that narrow circle interests prevailed 
over the Party spirit in the one little circle of the Iskra editorial board may, 
perhaps, be regarded as casual; but it was not casual that in staunch support 
of this circle rose up the Akimovs and Brouckeres, who attached no less (if 
not more) value to the "historical continuity" of the celebrated Voronezh 
Committee and the notorious St. Petersburg "Workers'" Organization,* 

* The Voronezh Committee, which was controlled by "Economists," had 
taken up a hostile attitude towards the Iskra, the Organization Committee and 

320 V. I. LENIN 

the Egorovs, who lamented the "murder" of Rabocheye Dyelo as bitterly PS 
the "murder" of the old editorial board (if not more so), the Makhovs, etc., 
etc. You can tell a man by his friends the proverb says. And you can tell 
a man's political complexion by his political allies, by the people who vote 
for him. 

The minor mistake committed by Comrade Martov and Comrade Axel- 
rod was, and might have remained, a minor one as long as it did not serve as 
the starting point for a durable alliance between them and the whole oppor- 
tunist wing of our Party, as long as it did not lead, as a result of this alli- 
ance, to a recrudescence of opportunism, to the exaction of revenge by all 
whom Iskra had fought and who were now overjoyed at a chance of venting 
their spleen on the consistent adherents of revolutionary Social-Democracy. 
And, in fact, as a result of the post-congress events, we are now witnessing 
a recrudescence of opportunism in the new Iskra, the exaction of revenge by 
the Akimovs and Brouckeres (see the leaflet issued by the Voronezh Com- 
mittee),* and the glee of the Marty no vs, who have at last (at last!) been 
allowed, in the detested Iskra , to have a kick at the detested "enemy" for 
all former grievances. 

Taken by itself, there was nothing dreadful, nor crucial, nor even any- 
thing abnormal in the fact that the Congress (and the Party) had divided 
into a Left and a Right, a revolutionary wing and an opportunist wing. On 
the contrary, the whole past decade in the history of the Russian (and not 
only of the Russian) Social-Democratic movement has been leading inev- 
itably and inexorably to such a division. The fact that it was a number of 
very minor mistakes of the Right wing, of (relatively) very unim- 
portant dissensions, that caused the division (which seems shocking 
to the superficial observer and to the philistine mind), marked a big step 
forward for our Party as a whole. Formerly we used to differ over major is- 
sues, such as might even at times justify a split; now we have reached agree- 
ment on all major and important points, and are only divided by shades , 
about which we may and should argue, but over which it would be absurd 
and childish to part company (as Comrade Plekhanov has quite rightly said 
in his interesting article "What Should Not Be Done?" to which we shall 
revert). Now that the anarchist behaviour of the minority after the Congress 
has almost led to a split in the Party, one may often hear wiseacres saying: 
"Was it worth while fighting at the Congress over such trifles as the 
Organization Committee episode, the dissolution of the Yuzhny Rdbochy 
group or the Rabocheye Dyelo , or 1, or the dissolution of the old editorial 

the Second Congress they were arranging. It was therefore not invited to send 
delegates to the Congress. 

The "workers'" organization of the St. Petersburg League was formed in the 
autumn of 1902 by "Economists" who had broken away from the St. Petersburg 
"League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class." Brouckere (Lydia 
Makhnovets) was the delegate from this organization at the Second Congress. Ed. 

* See this volume pp. 342*43. l?d. 


board, etc.? Those who argue in this way are in fact introducing the circle 
view into Party affairs: a struggle of shades in the Party is inevi able 
and essential as long as it does not lead to anarchy and splits, as long as it is 
confined within bounds approved by the common consent of all comrades and 
Party members. And our struggle against the Right wing of the Party at 
the Congress, against Akimov and Axelrod, Martynov and Martov, never ex- 
ceeded those bounds. It is enough to recall, at least, that when Comrades 
Martynov and Akimov were about to leave the Congress we were all pre- 
pared to do everything to obliterate the idea of an "insult"; we all adopted 
(by thirty- two votes) Trotsky's motion to invite these comrades to 
regard the explanations as satisfactory and to withdraw their statement. 
[Chapters O and P have been omitted in the present edition since they 
are devoted to a description of the post-congress struggle over the personal 
composition of the centres, i.e., something which appertains least of all to 
the realm of principle and most of all to that of squabbling.] 


As the basis for our analysis of the principles of the new Islcra we should 
unquestionably take the two articles of Comrade Axelrod.* We have al- 
leady shown at length what is the concrete meaning** of some of his favour- 
ite catchwords. We must now try to abstract ourselves from their concrete 
meaning and study more closely the line of thought that forced the "mi- 
nority" (on any small or minor occasion) tp arrive at these particular 
slogans rather than at any other, must examine the principles behind 

these slogans, irrespective of their origin, of 
Concessions are all the fashion nowadays, so 

the question of "co-option 
let us make a concession to 

Comrade Axelrod and take his theory "seriously." 

Comrade Axelrod l s main thesis (the/s&ra,No, 57) is that "from the very 
outset our movement harboured two opposite tendencies, the mutual antag- 
onism of which could not fail to develop and to affect the movement paral- 
lel with its own development." To be precise: "in principle, the proletarian 
aim of the movement (in Russia) is the same as that of the Social-Demo- 
cratic movement in the West." But in our country the influence is exer- 
cised on the worker masses "by a social element alien to them," namely, 
the radical intelligentsia. Comrade Axelrod thus establishes an antagonism 
between the proletarian and the radical-intellectual trends in our Party. 

* The articles in question were included in the sympi>sium "Iskra for Two 
Years," Part II, p. 122, et aeq. (St. Petersburg 1906). 

** This "concrete meaning" refers to the Congress and post-Congress struggle 
over the personal composition of the centres the description of which has been 
omitted in the present edition. 


322 V. I. LENIN 

In this Comrade Axelrod is undoubtedly right. The existence of 
such an antagonism (and not in the Russian Social-Democratic Party 
alone) is beyond question. What is more, everyone knows that it is this 
antagonism that very largely accounts for the division of the present-day 
Social-Democratic movement into the revolutionary (also known as the 
orthodox) and the opportunist (revisionist, ministerialist, reformist) wing, 
which has become fully apparent in Russia, too, during the past ten years 
of our movement. Everyone also knows that the proletarian trend of the 
movement is expressed by orthodox Social-Democracy, while the trend of 
the democratic intelligentsia is expressed by opportunist Social-Democracy. 

But, having squarely faced this piece of common knowledge, Comrade 
Axelrod then begins to shy and back away from it. He does not make 
the slightest attempt to analyse the way in which this division has manifest- 
ed itself in the history of the Russian Social-Democratic movement in 
general, and at our^Party Congress in particular, although it is about the 
Congress that Comrade Axelrod is writing! Like all the other editors of 
the new Iskra, Comrade Axelrod displays a mortal fear of the minutes 
of this Congress. This should not surprise us after what has been said, 
but in a "theoretician" who claims to be investigating the different trends 
in our movement it is ceitainly a queer case of truth-shyness. Backing away, 
because of this malady, from the latest and most accurate material on the 
trends in our movement, Comrade Axelrod seeks salvation in the sphere 
of pleasant daydreaming. He writes: "Has not legal or semi-Marxism 
provided our liberals with a literary leader?* Why should not prankish 
history provide revolutionary bourgeois democracy with a leader from the 
school of orthodox, revolutionary Marxism?" All we can say about this day- 
dream which Comrade Axeirod finds so pleasant is that if history does 
sometimes play prankish tricks, that is no excuse for prankish thoughts 
in people who undertake to analyse history. When the liberal peeped out 
from under the cloak of the leader of semi-Marxism, those who wished 
(and were able) to trace back his "trends" did not allude to possible prank- 
ish tricks of history, but to tens and hundreds of instances of the men- 
tality and logic of that leader and to those peculiarities of his literary 
make-up which were stapiped with the reflection of Marxism in bourgeois 
literature. And if, after having undertaken to analyse "the general revolu- 
tionary and the proletarian trends in our movement "Comrade Axelrod 
could produce nothing y absolutely nothing, in proof or evidence that cer- 
tain representatives of that orthodox wing of the Party which he detests 
so much have such-and-such tendencies, he thereby issued a formal cer- 
tificate of his own bankruptcy. Comrade Axelrod 's case must be very weak 
indeed if all he can do is to allude to possible pranks of history. 

Comrade Axelrod's other allusion to the "Jacobins" is still more 
revealing. Comrade Axelrod is probably aware that the division of the 

* The reference is to Struve. Ed. 


present-day Social-Democratic movement into revolutionary and oppor* 
tunist has long since given rise and not only in Russia to "historical 
parallels with the era of the Great French Revolution." Comrade Axelrod 
is probably aware that, the Girondists of the present-day Social- Democrat* 
ic movement are always resorting to the terms "Jacobinism," "Blanquism" 
and so on to describe their opponents. Let us then not imitate Comrade 
Axelrod in his truth-shyness, let us consult the minutes of our Congress 
and see whether they offer any material for an analysis and examination 
of the trends we are discussing and the parallels we are dissecting. 

First example: the debate on the program at the Party Congress. Com- 
rade Akimov ("fully agreeing" with Comrade Marty no v) says: "the clause 
on the capture of political power (the dictatorship of the proletariat) has 
been formulated in such a way as compared with the programs of all 
other Social-Democratic parties that it may be interpreted, and has ac- 
tually been interpreted by Plekhanov, to mean that the role of the lead- 
ers of the organization will relegate to the background the class it is 
leading and separate the former from the latter. Consequently, the formu- 
lation of our political tasks is exactly the same as that of the "Narodnaya 
Volya." (Minutes, p. 124.) Comrade PJekhanov and other Iskra-ites reply 
to Comrade Akimov and accuse him of opportunism. Does not Comrade 
Axelrod find that this dispute shows (in actual fact, and not in the imagi- 
nary pranks of history) the antagonism between the modern Jacobins 
and the modern Girondists in the Social-Democratic movement? And was 
it not because he found himself in the company of the Girondists of the 
Social-Democratic movement (owing to the mistakes he committed) that 
Comrade Axelrod began talking about Jacobins? 

Second example: Comrade Posadovsky asserts that there is a "grave 
difference of opinion" over the "fundamental question" of the "absolute 
value of democratic principles" (p. 169). Like Plekhanov, he denies their 
absolute value. The leaders of the "Centre," or the Marsh (Egorov), and 
of the anti-/&ra-ites (Goldblatt) vigorously oppose this view and accuse 
Plekhanov of "imitating bourgeois tactics" (p. 170). This is exactly 
Comrade Axelrod 's idea of a connection between orthodoxy and the bourgeois 
trends, the only difference being that in Axelrod 's case it is vague and gener- 
al, whereas Goldblatt linked it up with definite issues. Again we ask: does 
not Comrade Axelrod find that this dispute, too, obviously shows, at our 
Party Congress, the antagonism between the Jacobins and the Girondists 
in the present-day Social-Democratic movement? Is it not because he 
finds himself in the company of the Girondists that Comrade Axelrod 
raises this outcry against the Jacobins? 

Third example: the debate on 1 of the Rules. Who is it that defends 
"*the proletarian trend in our movement"? Who is it that insists that the 
worker is not afraid of organization, that the proletarian has no sympathy 
for anarchy, and that he values the prompting to organize? Who is it 
that warns us against the bourgeois intelligentsia and says that they art 



permeated through and through with opportunism? The Jacobins of 
{he Social- Democratic movement. And who is it that tries to smuggle 
radical intellectuals into the Party? Who is it that is concerned about 
professors, high school students, freelances, the radical youth? The Gi- 
rondist Axelrod and the Girondist Lieber. 

- How clumsily Comrade Axelrod defends himself against the "false 
Accusation, of opportunism" that was openly levelled at the majority of 
the "Emancipation of Labour" Group at our Party Congress. He defends 
himself in a manner that confirms the charge, for he keeps reiterating 
the hackneyed Bernsteinian song about Jacobinism, Blanquism and so 
pnl He shouts about the menace of the radical intellectuals in order to 
drown his own speeches at the Party Congress which were full of concern 
or these intellectuals. 

These "dreadful words" Jacobinism and the rest are expressive of 
nothing but opportunism. A Jacobin who maintains an inseparable bond 
with the organization of the proletariat, a proletariat conscious of its class 
interests, is a revolutionary Social- Democrat. A Girondist who yearns for 
professors and high school students, who is afraid of the dictatorship of 
the proletariat and who sighs about the absolute value of democratic 
demands is an opportunist. It is only opportunists who can still detect 
a danger in secret organizations today, when the idea of narrowing down 
,the political struggle to a secret conspiracy has been rejected thousands 
of times in written publications and has long been rejected and swept 
aside by the realities of life, and when the cardinal importance of mass 
political agitation has been elucidated and reiterated to the point of 
nausea. The real basis of this fear of conspiracy, of Blanquism, is not 
any feature to be found in the practical movement (as Bernstein and Co. 
have long, and vainly, been trying to show), but the Girondist timidity 
of the bourgeois intellectual whose mentality is so often revealed among 
the Social-Democrats of today. Nothing could be more comical than these 
efforts of the new Iskra to utter a ne w word of warning (which has been 
uttered hundreds of times before) against the tactics of the French con- 
spirator revolutionaries of the 'forties and 'sixties (No. 62, editorial). 
In the next issue of the Iskra, the Girondists of the present-day Social- 
Democratic movement will probably name a group of French conspiratprs 
of the 'forties for whom the importance of political agitation among the 
working masses, the importance of the labour press as the principal means 
by which the party influences the class, was a rudimentary truth they had 
learned and assimilated long ago. 

However, the tendency of the new Iskra to repeat the ABC and go back 
,to rudiments while pretending to be uttering something new is not without 
its cause; it is an inevitable consequence of the situation Axelrod and 
Martov find themselves in, now that they have landed in the opportunist 
;wijig of our Party. There is nothing for it; They have to go on repeating 
Opportunist phrases, they have to go back and try .to find in the remote 


past some sort of justification for their position, which is indefensible 
from the point of view of the struggle at the Congress and of the shaded 
and divisions in the Party that emerged there. To the profound Akimov- 
ist remarks about Jacobinism and Blanquism, Comrade Axelrod adds 
Akimovist lamentations to the effect that the "politicians" as well, and 
not only the "Economists" were "one-sided," excessively "infatuated,'* 
and so on and so forth. Reading the high-flown disquisitions on this 
subject in the new Iskra, which conceitedly claims to be above one* 
sidedness and infatuation, one asks in perplexity: whose portrait are 
they painting? where do they hear this talk? Who does not know that the 
division of the Russian Social-Democrats into Economists and politicians 
has long been obsolete? Go through the files of the Iskra for the last year 
or two before the Party Congress and you will find that the fight against 
"Economism" subsided and came to an end altogether as far back as 
1902; you will find, for example, that in July 1903 (No. 43), the "times 
of Economism" are spoken of as being "definitely over." Economism is 
considered to be "dead and buried," and the infatuation of the politicians 
is regarded as clear atavism. Why, then, do the new editors of the 
Iskra revert to this dead and buried division? Do you think that we fought 
the Akimovs at the Congress because of the mistakes they made in the 
Rabocheye Dyelo two years ago? If we had, we would have been sheer idiots* 
But everyone knows that we did not, that it was not for their old, 
dead and buried mistakes in the Rabocheye Dyelo that we fought the Aki- 
movs at the Congress, but for the new mistakes they committed in their 
arguments and in the way they voted at the Congress. It was not by their 
stand on the Rabocheye Dyelo that we judged which mistakes had really 
been abandoned and which still lived and called for controversy, but by 
their stand at the Congress. By the time of the Congress the old division 
into Economists and politicians no longer existed; but various opportunist 
trends continued to exist. They found expression in the debates and vot- 
ing on a number of issues, and finally led to a new division of the Party into 
a "majority" and a "minority." The whole point is that the new editors of 
the Iskra are for obvious reasons trying to gloss over the connection that 
exists between this new division and contemporary opportunism in our Party, 
and are, consequently, compelled to go back from the new division to 
the old one. Their inability to explain the political origin of the new di-? 
vision (or their desire, in order to prove how accommodating they are, to 
cast a veil* over its origin) compels them to keep harping on a divisiott 

* See Plckhanov's article on "Economism" in the Iskra, No. 53. The subtitle 
of the article appears to contain a slight misprint. Instead of "Reflections on the 
Second Party Congress," it should apparently read, "On the League Congress," 
or even "On Co-option." However appropriate concessions to personal claims 
may be under certain circumstances, it is quite inadmissible (from the Party, 
not the philistine standpoint) to confuse the issues that are agitating the Party 
and to substitute for the new mistake of Martov and Axelrod, who have begun, 

P26 V. I. LENIN 

that has long been obsolete. Everyone knows that the new division is 
based on a difference of opinion over questions of organization, which 
began with the controversy over principles of organization ( 1 of the Rutes) 
and ended up with a "practice" worthy of anarchists. The old division 
into Economists and politicians was based mainly on a difference of 
opinion over questions of tactics. 

In its efforts to justify this retreat from the more complex, truly mod- 
ern and burning issues of Party life to issues that have long been settled 
and have now been dug up artificially, the new Iskra resorts to an 
amusing display of profundity for which there can be no other name than 
khvostism. Started by Comrade Axelrod, there runs like a crimson thread 
through all the writing of the new Iskra the profound "thought" that 
content is more important than form, that program and tactics are more 
important than organization, that "the virility of an organization is in 
direct proportion to the volume and importance of the content it puts 
into the movement," that centralism is not an "end in itself," not an 
*'all-saving talisman," etc., etc. Great and profound truths! A program 
is indeed more important than tactics, and tactics are more important 
than organization. The alphabet is more important than etymology, and 
etymology more important than syntax but what would we say of 
people who, having failed in an examination in syntax, went about plum- 
ing and priding themselves on having been kept over in a lower class 
for another year? Comrade Axelrod argued about principles of organiza- 
tion ( 1) like an opportunist, and behaved inside the organization like 
an anarchist and now he is trying to lend profundity to Social-Democracy. 
Sour grapes! What is organization, properly speaking? Why, it is only 
a form. What is centralism? After all, it is not a talisman. What is syn- 
tax? Why, it is less important t^ian etymology; it is only a form of com- 
bining the elements of etymology. . . . "Will not Comrade Alexandrov 
agree with us," the new editors of the Iskra triumphantly ask, "when 
we say that the Congress did much more for the centralization of Party 
work by drawing up a Party program than by adopting rules, however 
perfect the latter may seem?" (No. 56, Supplement.) It is to be hoped 
that this classical utterance will acquire a historic fame no less wide 
and no less lasting than Comrade Krichevsky's celebrated remark to the 
effect that Social-Democracy, like mankind, always sets itself achievable 
tasks. The profundity of the new Iskra is of exactly the same alloy. Why 
Was Comrade Krichevsky's phrase held up to derision? Because he tried 
to justify the mistake of a section of the Social-Democrats in matters of 
tactics their inability to set correct political aims by a commonplace 

to swing from orthodoxy to opportunism, the old mistake (never recalled today 
by anyone except the new Iskra) of the Martynovs and the Akimovs, wno may 
now be prepared, for all one knows, to swing from opportunism to orthodoty on 
many questions of program and tactics. 


"which he wanted to palm off as philosophy. In exactly the same way the 
new Iskra tries to justify the mistake of a section of the Social-Democrats 
in matters of organization, to justify the instability of the intellectual 
displayed by certain comrades which has led them to the point of anarch- 
ist phrasemongering by the commonplace that a program is more im- 
portant than rules, and that questions of program are more important 
than questions of organization I What is this but khvostism? What is 
this but pluming oneself on having been left over in a lower class for 
another year? 

The adoption of a program contributes more to the centralization of 
the work than the adoption of rules. How this commonplace, palmed off 
as philosophy, smacks of the mentality of the radical intellectual, who 
has much more in common with bourgeois decadence than with Social- 
Democracy! Why, the word centralization is used in this famous phrase 
quite symbolically. If the authors of the phrase are unable or disinclined 
to think, they might at least have recalled the simple fact that though 
we and the Bundists together adopted a program, this did not even save 
us from a split, let alone lead to the centralization of our common work. 
Unity on questions of program and tactics is an essential but by no means 
a sufficient condition for Party unity and for the centralization of Party 
work (good God, what rudimentary things one has to keep repeating 
nowadays, when all concepts have been confused!). That requires, in 
addition, unity of organization, which, in a party that has grown to be 
anything more than a mere family circle, is inconceivable without for- 
mal rules, without the subordination of the minority to the majority, of 
the part to the whole. As long as there was no unity on the fundamental 
questions of program and tactics, we bluntly admitted that we were 
living in a period of disunity and the circle spirit; we bluntly declared 
that before we could unite, lines of demarcation must be drawn; we did 
not even talk of the forms of a joint organization, but exclusively dis- 
cussed the new (at that time they really were new) questions of how to fight 
opportunism on program and tactics. When, as we all agreed, this fight 
had already ensured a sufficient degree of unity, as formulated in the 
Party program and in the Party's resolution on tactics, we had to take 
the next step, and, by common consent, we did take it, working out 
the forms of a united organization that would merge all the circles to- 
gether. We have been dragged back to anarchist conduct, to anarchist 
phrasemongering, to the revival of a circle in place of a Party ed- 
itorial board. And this step back is being justified on the grounds that 
the alphabet is more helpful to literate speech than a knowledge of 

The philosophy of khvostism which flourished three years ago in con- 
nection with tactics is being resurrected today in connection with organ* 
ization. Take the following argument of the new editors: 'The militant 
Social-Democratic trend in the Party," says Comrade Alexandrov, "should 

328 V. I. LENIN 

be maintained not only by an ideological struggle, but by definite forms 
of organization."' Whereupon the editors edifymgly remark: "Not bad, 
this juxtaposition of ideological struggle and forms of organization. The 
ideological struggle is a process, whereas the forms of organization are 
just . . . forms [believe it or not, that is what they say in No. 56, Supple- 
ment, p. 4, col. 1, bottom of page!] designed to clothe a fluid and develop- 
ing content the developing practical work of the Party." That is quite 
in the style of the joke about a cannon ball being a cannon ball and a bomb 
a bomb! The ideological struggle is a process, and the forms of organiza* 
tion are only forms clothing the content! The point at issue is whether 
our ideological struggle is to have forms of a higher type to clothe it, forms 
of Party organization binding on all, or the forms of the old disunity and 
the old circles. We have been dragged back from higher to more primi- 
tive forms, and this is being justified on the grounds that the ideological 
struggle is a process, whereas forms are just forms. That is just how 
Comrade Krichevsky in bygone days tried to drag us back from tactics- 
as-a-plan to tactics- as- a- process. 

Take the pompous talk of the new Iskra about the "self-training of 
the proletariat" which is directed against those who are supposed to 
be in danger of missing the content because of the form. (No. 58, edito- 
rial.) Is this not Akimovism No. 2? Akimovism No. 1 used to justify 
the backwardness of a section of the Social-Democratic intelligentsia 
in formulating tactical tasks by talking about the more "profound" con* 
tent of the "proletarian struggle" and about the self-training of the pro- 
letariat. Akimovism No. 2 justifies the backwardness of a section of 
the Social-Democratic intelligentsia in the theory and practice of organ- 
ization by equally profound talk about organization being merely a 
form, and the self-training of the proletariat being the important thing. 
Let me tell you gentlemen who are so solicitous about the younger broth- 
er* that the proletariat is not afraid of organization and discipline! 
The proletariat will do nothing to have the worthy professors and high 
school students, who do not want to join an organization, recognized as 
Party members merely because they work under the control of an organ- 
ization. The proletariat is trained by its whole life for organization 
far more radically than many an intellectual prig. Having gained some 
understanding of our program and our tactics, the proletariat will not 
Start justifying backwardness in organization by arguing that the fornt 
is less important than the content. It is not the proletariat, but certain 
intellectual* in our Party who lack self-training in the spirit of organiza- 
tion and discipline, in the spirit of hostility and contempt for anarchist 
phrasemongering. When they say that it is not ripe for organization, 
the Akimovs No. 2 libel the proletariat just as the Akimovs No. 1 li- 
belled it when they said that it was not ripe for the political struggle. The 

*Thc "lower classes." Ed. 


proletarian who has become a conscious Social-Democrat and feels that 
he is a member of the Party will reject khvostism in matters of organiza- 
tion with the same contempt as he rejected khvostism in matters of 

Finally, consider the profound wisdom of "Practical Worker" in the 
new Iskra. "Properly understood," he says, "the idea of a 'militant' cen- 
tralized organization uniting and centralizing the activities" (the ital- 
ics are to make it look more profound) "of revolutionaries can naturally 
materialize only if such activities exist" (new and clever!); "the organiza- 
tion itself, being a form"(mark that!), "canonly grow simultaneously" (the 
italics are the author's, as throughout this quotation) "with the growth 
of the revolutionary work which is its content." (No. 57.) Does this not 
remind you very much of the hero in the folk tale who, on seeing a funer- 
al, cried: "Many happy returns of the day"? I am sure there is not a prac- 
tical worker (in the genuine sense of the term) in our Party who does 
not understand that the form of our activities (i.e., our organization) 
has been lagging behind its content for a long time, and lagging desper- 
ately, and that only the Simple Simon in the Party could shout to those 
who are lagging: "Keep in line; don't run ahead!" Compare our Party, 
let us say, with the Bund. There can be no question but that the con eat* 
of the work of our Party is immeasurably richer, more varied, broader 
and deeper than that of the Bund. The scope of our theoretical views is 
wider, our program more developed, our influence among the working- 
class masses (and not among the organized artisans alone) broader and 
deeper, our propaganda and agitation more varied, the pulse of the po- 
litical work of the leaders and of the rank and file more lively, the popu- 
lar movements during demonstrations and general strikes grander, and 
our work among the non-proletarian population more energetic. And the 
"form"? Compared with that of the Bund, the "form," of our work is 
lagging unpardonably, lagging so that it is an eyesore and brings a blush 
of shame to the cheeks of anyone who docs not merely "pick his nose" 
when contemplating the affairs of his Party. The fact that the organiza- 
tion of our work is lagging behind its content is our weak point, and it 
was our weak point long before the Congress, long before the Organiza- 
tion Committee was formed. The undeveloped and unstable character 
of the form makes any serious step in the further development of the con- 
tent impossible; it causes a shameful stagnation, leads to a waste of ener- 
gy, to a discrepancy between word and deed. We have all suffered enough 
from this discrepancy, yet along come the Axelrods and the "Practical 

* I will not mention the fact that the content of our Party work was outlined 
at the Congress (in the program, etc.) in the spirit of revolutionary Social-Democ- 
racy only at the cost of a struggle, a struggle against the very anti-Jfofcro-ites- 
and the very Marsh whose representatives numerically predominate in our 

330 V. I, LENIN 

Workers" of the new Iskra with their profound precept: the form must 
grow naturally, and only simultaneously with the content! 

That is where a small mistake in connection with a question of organ- 
ization (1) will lead you, if you try to lend profundity to nonsense and 
to find philosophical justification for an opportunist phrase. Pacing slow- 
ly in timid zigzags! we have heard this refrain in connection with 
questions of tactics; we are hearing it again in connection with questions 
of organization, Khvostism in matters of organization is a natural and inev- 
itable product of the mentality of the anarchist individualist when he 
starts to elevate his anarchist deviations (which at the outset may have 
been accidental) to a system of views, to special differences of principle. 
At the Congress of the League we witnessed the beginnings of this anarch- 
ism, in the new Iskra we are witnessing attempts to elevate it to a 
system of views. These attempts strikingly confirm what was already 
said at the Party Congress about the difference between the point of view 
of the bourgeois intellectual who attaches himself to the Social-Democrat- 
ic movement and the proletarian who has become conscious of his class 
interests. For instance, this same "Practical Worker" of the new Iskra 
with whose profundity we are already familiar denounces me for visual- 
izing the Party as "an immense factory" headed by a director in the 
shape of the Central Committee (No. 57, Supplement). "Practical Work- 
er" does not even guess that the dreadful word he uses immediately 
betrays the mentality of the bourgeois intellectual who is familiar nei- 
ther with the practice nor with the theory of proletarian organization. 
For the factory, which seems only a bogey to some, is that highest form of 
capitalist co-operation which has united and disciplined the proletariat, 
taught it to organize, and placed it at the head of all the other sections 
of the toiling and exploited population. And Marxism, the ideology of 
the proletariat trained by capitalism, has taught and is teaching unstable 
intellectuals to distinguish between the factory as a means of exploita- 
tion (discipline based on fear of starvation) and the factory as a means 
of organization (discipline based on collective work united by the con- 
ditions of a technically highly developed form of production). The disci- 
pline and organization which come so hard to the bourgeois intellectual 
are very easily acquired by the proletariat just because of this factory 
"schooling." Mortal fear of this school and utter failure to understand 
its importance as an organizing factor are characteristic of the ways 
of thinking which reflect the petty-bourgeois mode of life and which give 
*ise to that species of anarchism which the German Social-Democrats 
call Edelanarchismus , i.e., the anarchism of the "noble" gentleman, or 
aristocratic anarchism, as I would call it. This aristocratic anarchism 
is particularly characteristic of the Russian nihilist. He thinks of the 
Party organization as a monstrous "factory"; he regards the subordi- 
nation of the part to the whole and of the minority to the majority as "serf- 
dom" (see Axelrod's articles); division of labour under the direction of 


a centre evokes from him a tragi-comical outcry against people being 
transformed into "wheels and cogs" (to turn editors into contributors 
being considered a particularly atrocious species of such transformation); 
mention of the organizational rules of the Party calls forth a contemptu- 
ous grimace and the disdainful remark (intended for the "formalists") 
that one could very well dispense with rules altogether. 

Incredible as it may seem, it was a didactic remark of just this sort 
that Comrade Martov addressed to me in the Iskra, No. 58, quoting, for 
greater weight, my own words in "A Letter to a Comrade." Well, what 
is it if not "aristocratic anarchism," and khvostism to cite examples from 
the era of disunity, the era of the circles, to justify the preservation 
and glorification of the circle spirit and anarchy in the era of the 

Why did we not need rules before? Because the Party consisted of 
Separate circles, unconnected by any organizational tie. Any individual 
could pass from one circle to another at his own "sweet will, "for he was 
not faced with any formulated expression of the will of the whole. Dis- 
putes within the circles were not settled by rules, "but by a struggle and 
by threats to resign," as I put it in " A Letter to a Comrade," citing the 
experience of a number of circles and of our own editorial circle of six in 
particular. In the era of the circles, this was natural and inevitable, but 
it never occurred to anybody to extol it, to regard it as ideal; everyone 
complained of the disunity, everyone was tired of it and longed for the 
time when the isolated circles would be fused into a formally constituted 
party organization. And now that this fusion has taken place, we are be- 
ing dragged back and, under the guise of higher organizational views, 
treated to anarchist phrasemongering! To those who are accustomed 
to the loose dressing gown and slippers of the Oblomov * circle domesticity; 
formal rules seem narrow, restrictive, irksome, petty and bureaucratic, 
a bond of serfdom and a fetter on the free "process" of the ideological 
struggle. Aristocratic anarchism cannot understand that formal rules 
are needed precisely in order to replace the narrow circle ties by the broad 
Party tie. It was unnecessary and impossible to formulate the internal 
tie of a circle or the ties between circles, for these ties rested on friend- 
ship or on a "confidence" for which no reason or motive had to be given. 
The Party tie cannot and must not rest on either of these; it must be 
founded on formal, "bureaucratically" worded rules (bureaucratic from 
the standpoint of the undisciplined intellectual), strict adherence to 
which can alone safeguard us from the wilfulness and caprices characterist- 
ic of the circles, from the circle methods of scrapping that goes by the 
name of the free "process of the ideological struggle." 

* Oblomov the hero of Goncharov's novel of the same name, an embodiment 
of inertia, supineness and a passive, vegetating existence. Ed. 

332 V. I. LENIN 

The editors of the new Iskra try to trump Alexandrov with the didac- 
tic remark that "confidence is a delicate matter and cannot be knocked 
into people's hearts and minds" (No. 56, Supplement). The editors do 
not realize that by this talk about confidence, naked confidence, they are 
once more betraying their aristocratic anarchism and organizational 
khvostism. When I was a member of a circle only whether it was the 
circle of, the six editors or the Iskra organization I was entitled to jus- 
tify my refusal, say, to work with X merely on the grounds of lack of 
confidence, without stating reason or motive. But now that I have be- 
come a member of a party, I am no longer entitled to plead lack of confi- 
dence in general, for that would throw open the doors to all the freaks 
and whims of the old circles; I have to give formal reasons for my "confi- 
dence" or "lack of confidence," that is, I must cite a formally established 
principle of our program, tactics or rules; I must not just declare my 
"confidence" or "lack of confidence" without giving reasons for them, 
but must realize that reasons must be given for my decisions and generally 
for all decisions of any section of the Party to the whole Party; I have 
to adhere to a formally prescribed procedure when giving expression to 
my "lack of confidence," or when trying to secure the acceptance of 
the views and wishes that follow from this lack of confidence. We have 
risen above the circle view that "confidence" does not have to be account- 
ed for to the Party view which demands adherence to a formally prescribed 
procedure of expressing, accounting for and testing our confidence. 
But the editors are trying to drag us back, and are calling their khvostism 
"new views on organization"! 

Listen to the way our so-called Party editors talk about the literary 
groups that might demand representation on the editorial board. "We 
shall not get indignant and begin to shout about discipline," we are 
admonished by these aristocratic anarchists who have always looked 
down on such a thing as discipline. We shall either "arrange the matter" 
(sicl) with the group, if it is reasonable, or just ridicule its demands. 

Dear, dear, what a lofty and noble rebuff to vulgar "factory" formalism! 
But in reality it is the old circle phraseology furbished up a little and 
served up to the Party by an editorial board which does not feel that it 
is a Party body, but the survival of an old circle. The intrinsic falsity 
of this position inevitably leads to the anarchist profundity of elevating 
the disunity which they pharisaically proclaim to be obsolete to a prin- 
ciple of Social-Democratic organization. There is no need for a hierarchy 
of higher and lower Party bodies and authorities aristocratic anarchism 
regards such a hierarchy as the bureaucratic invention of ministries, 
departments, etc. (see Axelrod's article); there is no need for the part to 
submit to the whole; there is no need for any "formal bureaucratic" de- 
finition of Party methods of "arranging matters" or of parting ways. 
Let the old circle scrapping be sanctified by pompous talk about "genu- 
inely Social-Democratic" methods of organization. 


This is where the proletarian who has been through the school of the 
"factory" can and should teach a lesson to anarchist individualism. The 
class-conscious worker has long ago emerged from the state of infancy 
when he used to fight shy of the intellectual as such. The class-conscious 
worker prizes the richer store of knowledge and the wider political hori- 
zon which he finds in Social-Democratic intellectuals. But as we proceed 
with the building of a real party, the class-conscious worker must learn 
to distinguish the mentality of the soldier of the proletarian army from 
.the mentality of the bourgeois intellectual who flaunts his anarchist 
talk, he must learn to insist that the duties of a Party member be fulfilled 
not only by the rank and file, but by the "people on top" as well; he 
jnust learn to treat khvostism in matters of organization with the con- 
tempt with which in the old days he used to treat khvostism in matters 
of tactics 1 

Inseparably connected with Girondism and aristocratic anarchism 
is the last characteristic feature of the new Iskra's attitude towards mat- 
ters of organization, namely, its defence of autonomism as against cen- 
tralism. This is the meaning in principle (if it has any such meaning) 
of its outcry against bureaucracy and autocracy, of its regrets over the 
"undeserved neglect of the non-Isfcra-ites" (who defended autonomism 
at the Congress), of its comical howls about the demand for "unquali- 
fied obedience," of its bitter complaints of "pompadour methods," etc., 
etc. The opportunist wing of any party always defends and justifies all 
retrograde tendencies, whether in program, tactics or organization. The 
new Iskra's defence of retrograde tendencies in matters of organization 
(khvostism) is closely connected with the defence of autonomisw . True, 
autonomism has, generally speaking, been so discredited by the three 
years' propaganda work of the old Iskra that the new Iskra is ashamed, 
as yet y to advocate it openly; it still assures us of its sympathy for cen- 
tralism, but shows it only by printing the word centralism in italics. 
Actually, it is enough to apply the slightest touch of criticism to the "prin- 
ciples" of the "true Social-Democratic" (aot anarchistic?) quasi-central- 
ism of the new Iskra for the autonomist standpoint to be detected at 
every step. Is it not now clear to everyone that on the subject of organi- 
zation Axelrod and Martov have swung over to Akimov? Have they not 
solemnly admitted it themselves in the significant words, "undeserved 
neglect of the non-/sfcra-ites"? And what was it but autonomism that 
Akimov and his friends defended at our Party Congress? 

It was autonomism (if not anarchism) that Martov and Axelrod de- 
fended at the Congress of the League when, with amusing zeal, they tried 
to prove that the part need not submit to the whole, that the part is auton- 
omous in defining its relation to the whole, that the rules of the Foreign 
League, in which the relation is thus formulated, are valid, in defiance 
of the will of the Party majority, in defiance of the will of the Party centre. 
It is autonomism, too, that Comrade Martov is now openly defending 

334 V. I. LENIN 

in the columns of the new Iskra (No. 60) in connection with the fight of 
the Central Committee to appoint members to the local committees. I 
shall not speak of the puerile sophistries which Comrade Martov 
used to defend autonomism at the Congress of the League, and is 
still using in the new Iskra the important thing here is to note 
the undoubted tendency to defend autonomism as against centralism* 
which is a fundamental characteristic of opportunism in matters of organ- 

Perhaps the only attempt to analyse the concept bureaucracy is the 
distinction drawn in the new Iskra (No. 53) between the "formal demo* 
erafo'c principle" (author's italics) and the "formal bureaucratic principle." 
This distinction (which, unfortunately, was no more developed or explained 
than the allusion to the non-/sfcra-ites) contains a grain of truth. Bu- 
reaucracy versus democracy is the same thing as centralism versus auton* 
omism; it is the organizational principle of the revolutionary Social-Dem- 
ocrats as opposed to the organizational principle of the opportunist 
Social-Democrats. The latter strive to proceed from the bottom upward, 
and, therefore, wherever possible and as far as possible, advocate auton- 
omism and a "democracy" which is carried (by the over-zealous) to the 
point of anarchism. The former strive to proceed from the top downward, 
and advocate an extension of the rights and powers of the centre in re- 
spect to the parts. In the period of disunity and the circles, this top from 
which the revolutionary Social-Democrats strove to proceed organization- 
ally was inevitably one of the circles, the one which was most influential 
because of its activity and its revolutionary consistency (in our case, 
the Iskra organization). Now that real Party unity has been restored 
and the obsolete circles dissolved in this unity, this top is inevitably 
the Party Congress, as the supreme organ of the Party; the Congress as far 
as possible includes representatives of all the active organizations, and, 
by appointing the central bodies (often with a membership which satis- 
fies the advanced elements of the Party more than the backward elements > 
and which is more to the taste of its revolutionary wing than its opportun- 
ist wing) makes them the top until the next Congress. Such, at any rate,, 
is the case among the Social-Democratic Europeans, although this cus- 
tom, which is so detested in principle by the anarchists, is gradually 
beginning, not without difficulty and not without conflicts and squabbles > 
to spread to the Social-Democratic Asiatics. 

It is most interesting to note that these fundamental characteristics 
of opportunism in matters of organization (autonomism, aristocratic or 
intellectual anarchism, khvostism and Girondism) are mutatis mutandis 
(with corresponding modifications) to be observed in all the Social-Dem- 
ocratic parties of the world, wherever there is a division into a revolution- 
ary wing and an opportunist wing (and where is there not?). Only quite 
recently this was very strikingly revealed in the German Social-Demo* 
cratic Party, when its defeat at the elections in the 20th electoral division 


of Saxony (known as the Gohre incident)* brought the question of the 
principles of party organization to the fore. That this incident should 
have become an issue of principle was largely due to the zeal of the Ger- 
man opportunists. Gohre (an ex-parson, author of that not uncelebrated 
book, Drei Monate Fabrikarbeiter** and one of the "heroes" of the Dres- 
den Congress) was himself an extreme opportunist, and the Sozialistische 
Monatshefte (Socialist Monthly), the organ of the consistent German 
opportunists, at once "took up the cudgels" on his behalf. 

Opportunism in program is naturally connected with opportunism 
in tactics and opportunism in organization. The exposition of the "new"" 
point of view was undertaken by Comrade Wolfgang Heine. To give the 
reader some idea of the political complexion of this typical intellec- 
tual, who on joining the Social-Democratic movement brought with him 
his opportunist habits of thought, it is enough to say that Comrade Wolf- 
gang Heine is something less than a German Comrade Akimov and some- 
thing more than a German Comrade Egorov. 

Comrade Wolfgang Heine took the warpath in the Sozialistische 
Monatehefte with no less pomp than Comrade Axelrod in the new Iskra. 
The very title of his article is priceless: "Democratic Observations on 
the Gohre Incident" (Sozialistische Monatshefte, No. 4, April). The con- 
tents are no less thunderous. Comrade W. Heine rises up in arms against 
"encroachments on the autonomy of a constituency, "champions the "dem- 
ocratic principle," and protests against the interference of an "appoint- 
ed authority" (i.e., the Central Council of the Party) in the free election 
of deputies by the people. The point at issue, Comrade W. Heine admon- 
ishes us, is not a casual incident, but a general "tendency towards bureauc- 
racy and centralism in the Party," a tendency, he says, which was tobeob- 
served before, but which is now becoming particularly dangerous. It 
must be "recognized as a principle that the local institutions of the Party 
are the arteries of Party life" (a plagiarism on Comrade Martov's pam- 
phlet, Once More in the Minority). We must not "get accustomed to the 
idea that all important political decisions must emanate from one centre," 1 
and we must warn the Party against "a doctrinaire policy which loses 
contact with life" (borrowed from Comrade Martov's speech at the Party 
Congress to the effect that "life will claim its own"). Carrying his argu- 
ment further, Comrade W. Heine says: ", .. If we go down to the roots of 

* Gohre was returned to the Reichstrg on June 16, 1903, from the 15th division 
of Saxony, but resigned after the Dresden Corgress. The electorate of the 20th 
division, which had fallen vacant on the death of Rosenow, wanted to offer the 
seat to Gohre. The Central Council of the Party and the Central Agitation Com- 
mittee^for Saxony opposed this, and although they had no formal r'ght to forbid 
Gdhre s nomination, they succeeded in getting him to decline. The Social-Demo- 
crats were defeated at the polls. 

** Three months as a Factory Worker. Ed. 

336 V. I. LENIN 

the matter, if we abstract ourselves from personal conflicts, which here, 
as everywhere, have played no small part, we shall find that this bitter* 
ness against the revisionists" (the italics are the author's and evidently 
hint at a distinction between fighting revisionism and fighting revision- 
ists) "is mainly expressive of the distrust of the Party officials for 'ottf- 
sidera'" (W. Heine had evidently not yet read the pamphlet about com- 
bating the state of siege, and therefore resorted to an Anglicism Out- 
-sidertum)^ "the distrust of tradition for the unusual, of the impersonal 
institution for everything individual," "in a word, that tendency which we 
have defined above as a tendency toward bureaucracy and centralism in 
the party." 

The idea of "discipline" inspires Comrade W. Heine with a no less 
noble disgust than Comrade Axelrod. . . . "The revisionists," he writes, 
<c have been accused of lack of discipline for having written for the Sozi- 
alistische Monatshefte whose Social-Democratic character has even been 
brought into question because it is not controlled by the Party. This at- 
tempt to narrow down the concept 'Social-Democratic,' this insistence on 
discipline in the sphere of ideological production, where absolute freedom 
should prevail" (remember that the ideological struggle is a process 
whereas the forms of organization are only forms) "in themselves point 
to the tendency towards bureaucracy and the suppression of individuali- 
ty." And W. Heine goes on and on, fulminating against this detestable 
tendency to create "one big all-embracing organization, as centralized as 
possible, one set of tactics and one theory," against the demand for "un- 
qualified obedience," "blind submission," against "over-simplified cen- 
tralism," etc., etc., literally "in the Axelrod manner." 

The controversy started by W. Heine spread, and as there were no 
squabbles about co-option in the German Party to obscure the issue, and 
as the German Akimovs display their complexion not only at congresses 
but also in a permanent periodical of their own, the controversy soon 
boiled down to an analysis of the principles of the orthodox and revisionist 
trends in matters of organization. Karl Kautsky came forward (in Die 
NeueZeit, 1904, No. 28, in an article "Wahlkreis und Par ^'""Constit- 
uency and Party") as one of the spokesmen of the revolutionary trend 
(which, exactly as in our Party, was of course accused of "dictatorship," 
"inquisitorial" tendencies and other dreadful things). "W. Heine's arti- 
cle," he says, "reveals the line of thought of the whole revisionist trend." 
Not only in Germany, but in France and Italy as well, the opportunists 
are all in favour of autonomism, of a slackening of Party discipline, of 
reducing it to nought; everywhere their tendencies lead to disorganiza- 
tion and to corrupting the "democratic principle" and converting it into 
anarchism. "Democracy does not mean absence of authority," says Karl 
Kautsky, instructing the opportunists on the subject of organization, 
"democracy does not mean anarchy; it means the rule of the masses over 
their representatives, as distinct from other forms of rule where the sup- 


posed servants of the people are in reality their masters." K. Kautsky 
traces at length the disruptive role played by opportunist autonomism 
in various countries; he shows that it is precisely the fact that "a great 
number of bourgeois elements 99 * have joined the Social-Democratic move- 
ment that lends strength to opportunism, autonomism and the tendency 
to violate discipline, and once more he reminds us that "organization 
is the weapon that will emancipate the proletariat," that "organization 
is the characteristic weapon of the proletariat in the class struggle." 

In Germany, where opportunism is weaker than in France or Italy, 
"autonomist tendencies have so far led to nothing but more or less high- 
flown declamations against dictators and grand inquisitors, against ex- 
communication** and heresy hunting, and to endless cavilling, which 
would only result in endless squabbling if replied to by the other side." 

It is not surprising that in Russia, where opportunism in the Party 
is even weaker than in Germany, autonomist tendencies should have 
produced fewer ideas and more "high-flown declamations" and squab- 

It is not surprising that Kautsky arrives at the following conclusion: 
"There is probably no other issue on which the revisionists of all countries, 
despite their multiplicity of form and hue, are so alike as on the ques- 
tion of organization." Karl Kautsky too defines the basic trends of ortho- 
doxy and revisionism in this sphere by the "dreadful words": bureaucra- 
cy versus democracy. "We are told," he says, "that to give the Party 
leadership the right to influence the selection of a candidate (for parlia- 
ment) by the constituencies would be a 'shameful violation of the demo- 
cratic principle, which demands that all political activity proceed from 
the bottom upward, by the independent activity of the masses, and not 
from the top downward, by bureaucratic means. . . .' But if there is any 
democratic principle, it is that the majority must have its way against 
the minority, and not the other way round. ..." The election of a mem- 
ber of parliament by any constituency is an important question for the 
Party as a whole, which should influence the nomination of candidates, 
if only through the Party's representatives (Vertrauensmdnner). "Whoever 
considers this too bureaucratic or too centralistic let him suggest that 
candidates be nominated by the direct vote of the whole Party member- 
ship (sdmmtlicher Parteigenossen) . If he thinks this is not practicable, 
he must not complain of a lack of democracy when this function, like many 
others that affect the whole Party, is exercised by one or by several 
Party bodies." It has. long been a "common law" in the German Party 

* Karl Kautsky mentioned Jaurte as an example. The more these people 
deviated towards opportunism, the more "they were bound to consider Party 
discipline an improper constraint on their free personality." 

** Bannatrahl: excommunication. This is the German equivalent of the Russian 
"state of siege" and "emergency laws." It is the "dreadful word" of the German 


838 V. I. LENIN 

for constituencies to "come to a friendly understanding" with the Party 
leadership about the choice of a candidate. "But the Party has grown 
too big for this tacit common law to suffice any longer. Common law ceases 
to be a law when it ceases to be regarded as natural and self-evident, 
when its stipulations, and even its very existence, are called in question. 
Then it becomes absolutely essential to formulate the law specifical- 
ly, to codify it," to adopt a more "precise statutory definition (statuta- 
rische festlegung) and, accordingly, greater strictness (grossere Straffheif) 
of organization." 

Thus you have, in a different environment, the same struggle be- 
tween the opportunist wing and the revolutionary wing of the Party on the 
question of organization, the same conflict between autonomism and cen- 
tralism, between democracy and "bureaucracy," between the tendency to 
relax and the tendency to tighten organization and discipline, between 
the mentality of the unstable intellectual and that of the staunch 
proletarian, between intellectualist individualism and proletarian sol- 
idarity. What, one asks, was the attitude to this conflict of bourgeois 
democracy not the bourgeois democracy which prankish history has 
only promised in private to show to Comrade Axelrod some day, but 
the real and actual bourgeois democracy which in Germany has spokes- 
men no less learned and observant than our own gentlemen of Osvo- 
bozhdeniye? German bourgeois democracy at once reacted to the new 
controversy and like Russian bourgeois democracy, like bourgeois de- 
mocracy always and everywhere rose up solidly in behalf of the oppor- 
tunist wing of the Social-Democratic Party. The Frankfurter Zeitung y 
leading organ of the German stock exchange, published a thunderous 
editorial (Frankfurter Zeitung, April 7, 1904, No. 97, evening edition) 
which shows that the unscrupulous habit of plagiarizing Axelrod is be- 
coming a veritable disease wkh the German press. The stern democrats 
of the Frankfurt stock exchange lash furiously at "autocracy" in the So- 
cial-Democratic Party, "party dictatorship," at the "autocratic dom- 
ination of the Party authorities," at these "excommunications" which 
are intended "as it were, to chastise all the revisionists" (recall the "false 
accusation of opportunism"), at the insistence on "blind submission," 
"deadening discipline," "servile subordination" and the transforming 
of Party members into "political corpses" (that is much stronger than 
wheels and cogs!). "All distinctiveness of personality," the knights of 
the stock exchange indignantly exclaim at the sight of the undemocratic 
regime in the Social-Democratic Party, "all individuality must be per- 
secuted, don't you see, for they threaten to lead to the French state of 
affairs, to Jauresism and Millerandism, as was stated in so many words 
by Zindermann, who made the report on the subject" at the Party Con- 
gress of the Saxon Social-Democrats. 


And so, in so far as the new catchwords of the new Iskra on organiza- 
tion contain any principles at all, there can be no doubt that they arc 
opportunist principles. This conclusion is moreover confirmed by the 
whole analysis of our Party Congress which divided up into a revolution- 
ary wing and an opportunist wing, and by the example of all European 
Social-Democratic parties, where opportunism in organization finds ex- 
pression in the same tendencies, in the same accusations, and very often 
in the same catchwords. Of course, the national peculiarities of the various 
parties and the different political conditions in different countries leave 
their impress and make German opportunism quite dissimilar from French 
opportunism, French opportunism from Italian opportunism and Italian 
opportunism from Russian opportunism. But the similarity of the fun- 
damental division of all these parties into a revolutionary wing and an 
opportunist wing, the similarity of the line of thought and the tenden- 
cies of opportunism in organization stand out clearly in spite of all the 
difference of conditions mentioned.* The presence of large numbers of 
radical intellectuals in the ranks of our Marxists and our Social-Demo- 
crats has made, and is making, the existence of opportunism, produced 
by their mentality, inevitable in the most varied spheres and in the most 
varied forms. We fought opportunism on the fundamental problems of 
our world conception, on questions of our program, and a complete di- 
vergence of aims inevitably led to an irrevocable division between the 
Social-Democrats and the liberals who had corrupted our legal Marxism. 
We fought opportunism on tactical questions, and our divergence with 
Comrades Krichevsky and Akimov on these less important issues was 
naturally only temporary, and was not accompanied by the formation 
of different parties. We must now vanquish the opportunism of Mar to v 
and Axelrod in matters of organization, which are, of course, even less 
fundamental than questions of program and tactics, but which have now 
come to the forefront in our Party life. 

When we speak of fighting opportunism, we must never forget a fea- 
ture that is characteristic of present-day opportunism in every sphere, 
namely, its vagueness, diffuseness, elusiveness. An opportunist, by his very 
nature, will always evade formulating an issue clearly and decisively, 

* No one will doubt today that the old division into Economists and poli- 
ticians among the Russian Social-Democrats on questions of tactics was similar to 
the division of the whole Social-Democratic movement of the world into opportun- 
ists and revolutionaries, although the difference between Comrades Martynov 
and Akimov, on the one hand, and Comrades von Vollmar and von Elm or Jaures 
and Millerand, on the other, may be very great. Nor will anyone doubt the simi- 
larity of the main divisions on questions of organization, in spite of the enormous 
difference between the conditions of politically unfranchised and politically free 
countries. It is extremely characteristic that the highly principled editors of the 
new Iskra, while briefly touching on the controversy between Kautsky and Heine 
(No. 64), fearfully evaded the trends of principle of opportunism and orthodoxy 
in general on questions of organization. 


340 V. L LENIN 

he will always seek a middle course, he will always wriggle like a 
snake between two mutually exclusive points of view and try to "agree" 
with both and to reduce his differences of opinion to petty amendments, 
doubts, good and pious suggestions, and so on and so forth. Comrade 
Eduard Bernstein, an opportunist in questions of program, "agrees" with 
the revolutionary program of his party, and although he is most likely 
anxious to have it "radically revised," he considers it inopportune and 
inexpedient, and not so important as the elucidation of "general prin- 
ciples" of "criticism" (which mainly consist in uncritically borrowing prin- 
ciples and catchwords from bourgeois democracy). Comrade von Voll- 
mar, an opportunist in questions of tactics, also agrees with the old tac- 
tics of revolutionary Social-Democracy and also confines himself mostly 
to declamations, petty amendments and sneers rather than openly ad- 
vocating any definite "ministerial" tactics. Comrades Martov and Axel- 
rod, opportunists in questions of organization, have also so far failed 
to produce, though directly challenged to do so, any definite statement of 
principles that could be "fixed by statute"; they too, would like, they 
most certainly would like, a "radical revision" of our rules of organiza- 
tion (the Iskra, No. 58, p. 2, col. 3), but they would prefer to devote them- 
selves first to "general problems of organization" (for a really radical 
revision of our Rules, which, in spite of 1 , are centralist rules, would inev- 
itably lead, if carried out in the spirit of the new Iskra, to autonomism; 
and Comrade Martov, of course, does not like to admit even to himself 
that, in principle, his trend is towards autonomism). Their "principles" 
of organization therefore display all the colours of the rainbow: the pre- 
dominant note is innocent and high-sounding declamations against autoc- 
racy and bureaucracy, against blind obedience and wheels and cogs 
declamations that are so innocent that it is very, very difficult to discern 
in them what is really concerned with principle and what is really con- 
cerned with co-option. But the further you go, the worse it gets: attempts 
to analyse and precisely define this detestable "bureaucracy" inevitably 
lead to autonomism; attempts to "deepen" and justify inevitably lead 
to vindicating backwardness, to khvostism, to Girondist phrasemongering. 
At last there emerges the principle of anarchism, as the sole really definite 
principle, which for that reason stands out in practice in particular relief 
(practice is always in advance of theory). Sneering at discipline auto- 
nomism anarchism there you have the ladder by which our oppprtun- 
ism in the sphere of organization now climbs and now descends, skipping 
from rung to rung and skilfully evading any definite statement of its 
principles.* Exactly the same stages are displayed by opportunism in 

* Those who recall the debate on 1 will now clearly see that the mistake 
committed by Comrade Martov and Comrade Axelrod in connection with 1 had 
inevitably to lead, when developed and deepened, to opportunism in matters of 
organization. Comrade Martov's initial idea self-enrolment in the Party 
was nothing but false "democracy," the idea of building the Party from the bottom 


questions of program and tactics sneering at "orthodoxy," narrowness 
and immobility revisionist "criticism" and minis terialism bourgeois 

There is a close psychological connection between this hatred of dis- 
cipline and that incessant nagging note of injury which is to be detected 
in all the writings of all opportunists today in general, and of our minor- 
ity in particular. They are being persecuted, hounded, ejected, besieged 
and bullied. There is far more psychological and political truth in 
these catchwords than was probably suspected even by the author of the 
pleasant and witty joke about bullies and bullied. For you have only 
to take the minutes of our Party Congress to see that the minority are all 
those who suffer from a sense of injury, all those who at one time or an- 
other and for one reason or another were offended by the revolutionary So- 
cial-Democrats. There are the Bundists and the Rabocheye Ztyefo-ites, 
whom we "offended" so badly that they withdrew from the Congress; 
there are the Yuzhny .Ra&oc%-ites, who were mortally offended by the 
slaughter of all organizations in general and of their own in particular; there 
is Comrade Makhov, who had to put up with offence every time he took 
the floor (for every time he did, he invariably made a fool of himself); 
and lastly, there are Comrade Martov and Comrade Axelrod, who were 
offended by the "false accusation of opportunism" in connection with 
1 of the Rules and by their defeat in the elections. All these mortal of- 
fences were not the accidental outcome of impermissible witticisms, rude 
behaviour, frenzied controversy, slamming of doors and shaking of fists, 
as so many philistines imagine to this day, but the inevitable political 
outcome of the whole three years' ideological work of the Iskra. If in the 
course of these three years we were not just wagging our tongues, but giv- 
ing expression to convictions which were to be transformed into deeds, 
we had to fight the anti-/sfcra-ites and the "Marsh" at the Congress. And 
when, together with Comrade Martov, who had fought in the front line 
with vizor up, we had offended such heaps of people, very little remained, 
we had only to cffcnd Comrade Axelrod and Comrade Martov ever so 
little, for the cup to overflow. Quantity was transformed into quality. 
The negation was negated. All the offended forgot their mutual squab- 
bles, fell weeping into each other's arms, and raised the banner of "revolt 
against Leninism."* 

upward. My idea, on the other hand was "bureaucratic" in the sense that the Party 
was to be built from the top downward, from the Party Co'g'Tss to the individual 
Party organizations. The mentality of the bourgeois intellectual, anarchist phrase- 
morgerirg, and opportunist, khvoatiat profundity were all to be discerned already 
in the debate on 1. Comrade Martov says that "new ideas are beginning to be 
worked out" by the new Iskra. That is true in the sense that he and Axelrod are 
really pushing ideas in a new direction, beginnirg with 1. The only trouble 
is that this direction is an opportunist one. The more they "work" in this direction 
the deeper will they sink in the mire. 

* This amazing expression is Comrade Martov 's. 

342 V. I. LENIN 

A revolt is a splendid thing when it is the advanced elements who re- 
volt against the reactionary elements. When the revolutionary wing 
revolts against the opportunist wing, it is a good thing. When the oppor- 
tunist wing revolts against the revolutionary wing, it is a bad business. 

Comrade Plekhanov is compelled to take part in this bad business in 
the capacity of a prisoner of war, so to speak. He tries to "vent his spleen" 
by fishing out isolated clumsy phrases by the author of some resolution 
in favour* of the "majority," and exclaiming: "Poor Comrade Lenin! What 
fine orthodox supporters he has!" (The Iskra, No. 63, Supplement.) 

Well, Comrade Plekhanov, all I can say is that if I am poor, the edi- 
tors of the new Islcra are downright paupers. However poor I may be, I 
have not yet reached such utter destitution as to have to shut my eyes to 
the Party Congress and hunt for material for the exercise of my wit in 
the resolutions of committee men. However poor I may be, I am a thou- 
sand times better off than those whose supporters do not utter a clumsy 
phrase inadvertently, but on every issue whether in relation to organi- 
zation, tactics or program stubbornly and steadfastly adhere to princi- 
ples which are the very opposite of the principles of revolutionary Social- 
Democracy. However poor I may be, I have not yet reached the stage where 
I have to conceal from the 'public the praises lavished on me by such support- 
ers. And that is what the editors of the new Iskra have to do. 

Reader, do you know what the Voronezh Committee of the Russian 
Social-Democratic Labour Party stands for? If not, read the minutes of 
the Party Congress. You will learn from them that the line of that com- 
mittee is fully expressed by Comrade Akimov and Comrade Brouckere, 
who at the Congress fought the revolutionary wing of the Party all along 
the line, and who scores of times were ranked as opportunists by every- 
body, from Comrade Plekhanov to Comrade Popov. Well, this Voronezh 
Committee, in its January leaflet (No. 12, January 1904), makes the follow- 
ing statement: 

"A great and important event in the life of our steadily growing Party 
took place last year, when the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., a con- 
gress of the representatives of its organizations, was held. Convening 
a party congress is a very complicated business, and, under the monarchy, 
a dangerous and difficult one. It is therefore not surprising that it was 
carried out in a far from perfect way, and that the Congress itself, although 
it passed off without mishap, did not fulfil all the Party's expectations. 
The comrades whom the Conference of 1902 commissioned to convene the 
Congress were arrested, and the Congress was arranged by persons who rep- 
resented only one of the trends in Russian Social- Democracy, viz., the 
"Iskra"-ites. Many organizations of Social-Democrats who did not happen 
to he Iskra-itcs were not invited to take part in the work of the Congress; 
this is one of the reasons why the task of drawing up a program and rules 
for the Party was carried out by 'the Congress in an extremely imperfect 
way; the delegates themselves admit that there are important flaws in the 
rules 'which may lead to dangerous misunderstandings.' The Iskra-itts 
themselves split at the Congress, and many prominent workers in our 
Jl,S,D,L f P, who hitherto had appeared to bo in full agreement with the 


Iskra program of action have admitted that many of its views, advocated 
mainly by Lenin and Plekhanov, are impracticable. Although the latter 
gained the upper hand at the Congress, the mistakes of the theoreticians 
are being quickly corrected by the forces of real life and the 'demands 
of real work, in which all the non-/&ra-ites are taking part and which, 
since the Congress, have introduced important amendments. The "Iskra" 
has undergone a profound change and promises to pay careful heed to the 
demands of all workers in the Social-Democratic movement generally. 
Thus, although the work of the Congress will have to be revised at the next 
Congress, and, as is obvious to the delegates themselves, was unsatisfac- 
tory, and therefore cannot be accepted by the Party as unimpeachable deci- 
sions, the Congress has cleared up the situation inside the Party, has pro- 
vided much material for the further theoretical and organizational work 
of the Party, and has been an experience of immense instructive value 
for the common work of the Party. The decisions of the Congress and the 
rules it has drawn up will be taken into account by all the organizations, 
but many will refrain from being guided by them exclusively, in view of their 
obvious imperfections. 

"Fully realizing the importance of the common work of the Par- 
ty, the Voronezh Committee actively responded in all matters concern- 
ing the organization of the Congress. It fully recognizes the import- 
ance of what has taken place at the Congress and welcomes the change 
undergone by 'Iskra,' which has become the Central Organ (chief organ). 
"Although the state of affairs in the Party and in the Central 
Committee does not satisfy us as yet, we trust that by common 
effort the difficult work of organizing the Party will be perfected. 
In view of false rumours, the Voronezh Commit tee informs the com- 
rades that there is no question of the Voronezh Committee leav- 
ing the Party. The Voronezh Committee realizes perfectly what 
a dangerous precedent might be created by the withdrawal of a 
workers' organization like the Voronezh Committee from the 
R.S.D.L.P., what a reproach this would be to the Party, and how 
disadvantageous it would be to workers' organizations which 
might follow this example. We must not cause new splits, but 
persistently strive to unite all class -conscious workers and Social- 
ists in one party. Besides, the Second Congress was not a constit- 
uent congress, but an ordinary one. Expulsion from the Party 
can only be by decision of a Party court, and no organization, not 
even the Central Committee, has the right to expel any Social- 
Democratic organization from the Party. Furthermore, the Second 
Congress adopted paragraph 8 of the Rules, according to which 
every organization is autonomous in its local affairs, and this fully 
entitles the Voronezh Committee to put its views on organization 
into practice and advocate them in the Party." 

The editors of the new Iskra, in quoting this leaflet in No. 61, reprint- 
ed the second half of this tirade, which we give here in large type; as 
for the first half, here printed in small type, the editors preferred to omit it* 

They were ashamed. 

344 V. I. LENIN 


A general glance at the development of our Party crisis will readily 
show that in the main, with minor exceptions, the composition of the 
two contending sides remained unchanged throughout. It was a struggle 
between the revolutionary wing and the opportunist wing in our Party. 
But this,struggle passed through the most varied stages, and anyone who 
wants to understand the vast amount of literature that has already been 
accumulated, the mass of fragmentary evidence, passages torn from their 
context, isolated accusations, and so on and so forth, must thoroughly 
familiarize himself with the peculiarities of each of these stages. 

In each of these stages the circumstances of the struggle and the imme- 
diate object of attack are essentially different; each stage is, as it were, 
a separate battle in one general military campaign. Our struggle cannot 
be understood at all unless the concrete circumstances of each battle are 
studied. But once that is done we shall clearly find that the develop- 
ment does actually proceed dialectically, by way of contradictions: the 
minority becomes the majority, and the majority becomes the minority; 
each side passes from the defensive to the offensive, and from the offen- 
sive to the defensive; the starting of the ideological struggle ( 1) is ''negat- 
ed" and gives place to an all-pervading squabbler* but then begins the 
"negation of the negation," and, having found a way of living more or 
less in "peace and harmony" on the various central bodies, we return to 
the starting point, the purely ideological struggle; but by now this "the- 
sis" has been enriched by all the results of the "antithesis" and has become 
a higher synthesis, in which the isolated, casual error in connection with 
1 has grown into a quasi-system of opportunist views on matters of organi- 
zation, and in which the connection between this fact and the basic 
division of our Party into a revolutionary wing and an opportunist wing 
becomes increasingly apparent to all. In a word, not only do oats grow 
according to Hegel, but the Russian Social-Democrats war among 
themselves according to Hegel. 

But the great Hegelian dialectics which Marxism made its own, having 
first turned it right side up again, must never be confused with the vulgar 
trick of justifying the zigzags of politicians who swing over from the revo- 
lutionary wing to the opportunist wing of the Party, or with the vulgar 
habit of lumping together distinct statements, the distinct incidents 
in the development of different stages of a single process. Genuine dialec- 
tics does not justify individual errors, but studies the inevitable turns, 
proving that they were inevitable by a detailed study of the process in all 

* The difficult problem of drawing a line between squabbling and a difference 
of principle now solves itself: all that relates to co-option is squabbling; all that 
relates to an analysis of the struggle at the Corgress, to the dispute over 1 and 
to the swing towards opportunism and anarchism is a difference of principle. 


its concreteness. The basic principle of dialectics is that there is no such 
thing as abstract truth, truth is always concrete. . . . And, one thing 
more, the great Hegelian dialectics should never be confused with that 
vulgar worldly wisdom so well expressed by the Italian saying: mettere la 
coda dove non va il capo (sticking in the tail where the head will not go 

The outcome of the dialectical development of our Party struggle has 
been two revolutions. The Party Congress was a real revolution, as Com- 
rade Martov justly remarked in his "Once More in the Minority." The wits 
of the minority are also right when they say: "The world moves in revolu- 
tions; well, we have made a revolution!" They did indeed make a revolution 
after the Congress; and it is true, too, that generally speaking the world 
does move in revolutions. But the concrete significance of each concrete 
revolution is not defined by this general aphorism; there are revolutions 
which are more like reaction, to paraphrase the unforgettable expression 
of the unforgettable Comrade Makhov. We must know whether it was the 
revolutionary wing or the opportunist wing of the Party which was the ac- 
tual force that made the revolution, we must know whether it was revo- 
lutionary or opportunist principles that inspired the fighters, before we 
can determine whether the "world" (our Party) was moved forward or 
backward by any concrete revolution. 

Our Party Congress was unique and unprecedented in the history of 
the Russian revolutionary movement. For the first time a secret revolu- 
tionary party succeeded in emerging from the darkness of underground 
life into broad daylight, displaying to the world the whole course and 
outcome of the struggle within our Party, the whole nature of our Party 
and of each of its more or less noticeable sections in relation to program, 
tactics and organization. For the first time we suceeded in throwing off 
the traditions of circle looseness and revolutionary philistinism, in bring- 
ing together dozens of the most varied groups, many of which had been 
fiercely warring among themselves and had been linked together solely 
by the force of an idea and were prepared (in principle, that is) to sacri- 
fice all their group aloofness and group independence for the sake of the 
great whole which we were for the first time actually creating the Party. 
But in politics sacrifices are not obtained gratis, they have to be won in 
battle. The battle over the slaughter of the organizations was bound to be 
terribly fierce. The fresh breeze of free and open struggle blew into a gale. 
The gale swept away and a good thing that it did! every conceivable 
remnant of the circle interests, sentiments and traditions without excep- 
tion, and for the first time created authoritative bodies that were really 
Party bodies. 

But it is one thing to call oneself something, and another to be it. 
It is one thing to sacrifice the circle system in principle for the benefit 
of the Party, and another to renounce one's own circle. The fresh breeze 
proved to be too fresh for those who were used to musty philistinism. "The 

346 V. I. LENIN 

Party was unable to stand the strain of its first congress," as Comrade 
Martov rightly put it (inadvertently) in his "Once More in the Minority." 
The sense of injury over the slaughter of the organizations was too strong. 
The furious gale raised all the mud from the bottom of our Party stream; 
and the mud took its revenge. The old hidebound circle spirit overpowered 
the newly born Party spirit. The opportunist wing of the Party, utter- 
ly routed though it had been, defeated temporarily, of course the rev- 
olutionary wing, having been accidentally reinforced by the Akimov 

The result of all this is the new Iskra, which is compelled to develop 
and deepen the error its editors committed at the Party Congress. The 
old Iskra taught the truths of revolutionary struggle. The new Iskra 
teaches the worldly wisdom of yielding and living in harmony with every- 
one. The old IsTcra was the organ of militant orthodoxy. The new Iskra 
treats us to a recrudescence of opportunism chiefly on questions of 
organization. The old Iskra earned the honour of being detested by the 
opportunists, both Russian and West-European. The new Iskra has "grown 
wise" and will soon cease to be ashamed of the praises lavished on it by 
the extreme opportunists. The old Iskra marched unswervingly towards its 
goal, and there was no discrepancy between its word and its deed. The 
inherent falsity of the position of the new Iskra inevitably leads independ- 
ently even of anyone's will or intention to political hypocrisy. It cries 
out against the circle spirit in order to conceal the victory of the circle 
spirit over the Party spirit. It pharisaically condemns splits, as if one can 
imagine any way of avoiding splits in any at all organized party except 
by the subordination of the minority to the majority. It says that heed 
must be paid to revolutionary public opinion, yet, while keeping dark 
the praises of the Akimovs, it indulges in petty scandal-mongering about 
the committees of the revolutionary wing of the Party! How shameful! 
How they have disgraced our old Iskral 

One step forward, two steps back. ... It happens in the lives of individ- 
uals, and it happens in the history of nations and in the development 
of parties. It would be criminal cowardice to doubt even for a moment the 
inevitable and complete triumph of the principles of revolutionary So- 
cial-Democracy, of proletarian organization and Party discipline. We 
have already won a great deal, and we must go on fighting, undeterred 
by reverses, fighting steadfastly, scorning the philistine methods of circle 
scrapping, doing our very utmost to preserve the single party tie among 
all the Russian Social-Democrats which has been established at the cost 
of so much effort, and striving by dint of stubborn and systematic work 
to make all Party members, and the workers in particular, fully and intel- 
ligently acquainted with the duties of Party members, with the struggle 
at the Second Party Congress, with all the causes and all the stages of our 
disagreements, and with the utter disastrous ness of opportunism, which, 
in the sphere of organisation, as in the sphere of our program and out 


tactics, helplessly surrenders to the bourgeois psychology, uncritically 
adopts the point of view of bourgeois democracy, and blunts the weapon 
of the class struggle of the proletariat. 

In its struggle for power the proletariat has no other weapon but 
organization. Disunited by the rule of anarchic competition in the bourgeois 
world, ground down by forced labour for capital, constantly thrust 
back to the "lower depths" of utter destitution, savagery and degenera- 
tion, the proletariat can become, and inevitably will become, 
an invincible force only when its ideological unification by the principles 
of Marxism is consolidated by the material unity of an organization 
which will weld millions of toilers into an army of the working class. 
Neither the decrepit rule of Russian tsardom, nor the senile rule of inter- 
national capital will be able to withstand this army. Its ranks will become 
more and more serried, in spite of all zigzags and backward steps, in 
spite of the opportunist phrasemongering of the Girondists of present- 
day Social-Democracy, in spite of the smug praise of the antiquated cir- 
cle spirit, and in spite of the tinsel and fuss of intellectual anarchism. 

First published 

as a separate pamphlet 

in May 1904, Geneva 





In a revolutionary period it is very difficult to keep abreast of events, 
which provide an astonishing amount of new material for an evaluation of 
the tactical slogans of revolutionary parties. The present pamphlet was 
written before the Odessa events. * We have already pointed out in the Pro- 
letary (No. 9 "Revolution Teaches") that these events have forced even 
those Social -Democrats who created the "uprising-as-a-process" theory, and 
who rejected propaganda for a provisional revolutionary government, virtu- 
ally to pass over, or to begin to pass over, to the side of their opponents. Rev- 
olution undoubtedly teaches with a rapidity and thoroughness which appear 
incredible in peaceful periods of political development. And, what is par- 
ticularly important, it teaches not only the leaders, but the masses as well. 

There is not the slightest doubt that the revolution will teach social-de- 
mocratism to the working-class masses in Russia. The revolution will con- 
firm the program and tactics of the Social-Democratic Party in actual prac- 
tice, by demonstrating the true nature of the various classes of society, by 
demonstrating the bourgeois character of our democracy and the real aspira- 
tions of the peasantry,which,while it is revolutionary in the bourgeois -dem- 
ocratic sense, harbours within itself, not the idea of "socialization," but 
a new class struggle between the peasant bourgeoisie and the rural proletar- 
iat. The old illusions of the old Narodniks, which are so clearly reflected, 
for instance, in the draft program of the "Socialist- Revolutionary Party" 
in the attitude it takes towards the question of the development of capi- 
talism in Russia, towards the question of the democratic character of our 
"society," and towards the question of the meaning of a complete victory 
of a peasant uprising all these illusions will be mercilessly and complete- 
ly blown to the winds by the revolution. For the first time it will give the 
various classes their real political baptism. These classes will emerge from 
the revolution with a definite political physiognomy, for they will have 
revealed themselves, not only in the programs and tactical slogans of 
their ideologists, but also in the open political action of the masses. 

* Reference is to the mutiny on the armoured cruiser Potemkin. (Author's 
note to the 1908 edition. Ed.) 


62 V. I. LENIN 

Undoubtedly, the revolution will teach us, and will teach the masses o 
the people. But the question that now confronts a militant political party 
is whether we shall be able to teach the revolution anything; whether we 
shall be able to make use of our correct Social-Democratic doctrine, of our 
bond with the only thoroughly revolutionary class, the proletariat, to put a 
proletarian imprint on the revolution, to carry the revolution to a real and 
decisive victory, not in word but in deed, and to paralyse the instability, 
half-heartedness and treachery of the democratic bourgeoisie. 

It is to this end that we must direct all our efforts. And the achievement 
of this end will depend, on the one hand, on the correctness of our appraisal 
of the political situation, on the correctness of our tactical slogans, and, on 
the other hand, on the extent to which these slogans are supported by the 
real righting strength of the working-class masses. All the usual, regular, 
current work of all the organizations and groups of our Party, the work of 
propaganda, agitation and organization, is directed towards strengthening 
and extending the ties with the masses. This work is always necessary; but 
less than at any other time can it be considered sufficient in a revolutionary 
period. At such a time the working class has an instinctive urge for open rev- 
olutionary action, and we must learn to define the aims of this action cor- 
rectly, and then spread a knowledge and understanding of these aims as 
widely as possible. It should not be forgotten that the current pessimism 
about our ties with the masses serves more than ever as a screen for bourgeois 
ideas regarding the role of the proletariat in the revolution. Undoubtedly, 
we still have a great deal to do to educate and organize the working class; 
but the whole question now is: where should the main political emphasis in 
this education and organization be placed? On the trade unions and legal- 
ly existing societies, or on armed insurrection, on the work of creating a 
revolutionary army and a revolutionary government? Both serve to edu- 
cate and organize the working jclass. Both are, of course, necessary. But the 
whole question now, in the present revolution, amounts to this: what is to 
be emphasized in the work of educating and organizing the working class 
the former or the latter? 

The outcome of the revolution depends on whether the working class 
will play the part of a subsidiary to the bourgeoisie, a subsidiary that is 
powerful in the force of its onslaught against the autocracy but impotent 
politically, or whether it will play the part of leader of the people's rev- 
olution. The class-conscious representatives of the bourgeoisie are perfect- 
ly aware of this. That is precisely why the Osvobozkdeniye praises Akimo- 
vism, "Economism" in Social-Democracy, which is now placing the trade 
unions and the legally existing societies in the forefront. That is why 
Mr. Struve welcomes (the Osvobozhdeniye, No. 72) the Akimovist trend in 
the principles of the new Iskra. That is why he comes down so heavily on 
the detested revolutionary narrowness of the decisions of the Third Con- 
gress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. 

In order to lead the masses, it is particularly important for Social-De- 


mocracy at the present time to advance correct tactical slogans. There is 
nothing more dangerous in time of revolution than underrating the import- 
ance of tactical slogans consistent with our principles. For example, the 
lakra, in No. 104, virtually passes over to the side of its opponents in the 
Social-Democratic movement, and yet, at the same time, disparages the 
significance of slogans and tactical decisions which are in advance of the 
times and which indicate the path along which the movement is progressing, 
although with a number of failures, errors, etc. On the contrary, the working 
-out of correct tactical decisions is of immense importance for a party which 
desires to lead the proletariat in the spirit of the consistent principles of 
Marxism, and not merely to drag along in the wake of events. In the reso- 
lutions of the Third Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour 
Party and of the Conference of the section which has split away from the 
Party,* we have the most precise, most carefully thought-out, and most 
-complete expression of tactical views views not casually expressed by in- 
dividual writers, but accepted by the responsible representatives of the 
Social-Democratic proletariat. Our Party is in advance of all the others, for 
it has a precise program, accepted by all. It must also set the other parties 
an example of strict adherence to its tactical resolutions, in contradis- 
tinction to the opportunism of the democratic bourgeoisie of the Osvo- 
bozhdeniye and the revolutionary phrasemongering of the Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, who only during the revolution suddenly bethought them- 
selves to come forward with a "draft" of a program and investigate for the 
first time whether it is a bourgeois revolution that they are witnessing. 

That is why we think it a most urgent task of the revolutionary Social- 
Democrats to study carefully the tactical resolutions of the Third Congress 
of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and of the Conference, to 
define what deviations have been made in them from the principles of Marx- 
ism, and to get a clear understanding of the concrete tasks of the Social- 
Democratic proletariat in a democratic revolution. It is to this task that 
the present pamphlet is devoted. The testing of our tactics from the stand- 
point of the principles of Marxism and of the lessons of the revolution is 
also necessary for those who really desire to pave the way for unity of tactics 
as a basis for the future complete unity of the whole Russian Social-Demo- 
cratic Labour Party, and not to confine themselves to admonitions alone. 


July 1905 

* The Third Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (held 
in London in May 1905) was attended only by Bolsheviks, while in the "Confer- 
ence" (held in Geneva at the same time) only Mensheviks participated. In the 
present pamphlet the latter are frequently referred to as new /afcra-ites because 
while continuing to publish the lakra they declared, through their then adherent 
Trotsky, that there was a gulf between the old and the new Iskra. (Author's note 
to the 1908 edition. Ed. 


354 V. I. LENIN 


At the present revolutionary juncture the question of the convocation of 
a popular constituent assembly is on the order of the day. Opinions differ 
as to how to solve this question. Three political tendencies are to be ob- 
served. The tsarist government admits the necessity of convening represen- 
tatives of the people, but under no circumstances does it intend to allow 
this assembly to be a popular and constituent assembly. It seems willing to 
agree, if we are to believe the newspaper reports on the work of the Bulygin 
Commission, to a consultative assembly, to be elected without freedom to 
carry on agitation and on the basis of strict qualifications or a strict class 
system. The revolutionary proletariat, inasmuch as it is guided by the 
Social-Democratic Party, demands complete transfer of power to a constit- 
uent assembly, and for this purpose strives to obtain not only universal 
suffrage and complete freedom to conduct agitation, but also the immediate 
overthrow of the tsarist government and its replacement by a provisional 
revolutionary government. Finally, the liberal bourgeoisie, expressing 
its wishes through the leaders of the so-called "Constitutional-Democratic 
Party," does not demand the overthrow of the tsarist government, does not 
advance the slogan calling for a provisional government, and does not in- 
sist on real guarantees that the elections be absolutely free and fair and that 
the assembly of representatives be a genuinely popular and a genuinely 
constituent assembly. As a matter of fact, the liberal bourgeoisie, which 
is the only serious social support of the Osvobozhdeniye tendency, is striv- 
ing to effect as peaceful a deal as possible between the tsar and the revo- 
lutionary people, a deal, moreover, that would give a maximum of power 
to itself, the bourgeoisie, and a minimum to the revolutionary people the 
proletariat and the peasantry. 

Such is the political situation at the present time. Such r are the three 
main political trends, corresponding to the three main social forces of con- 
temporary Russia. We have shown on more than one occasion (in the Pro- 
letary, Nos. 3, 4, 5) how the Osvobozhdentei use pseudo-democratic phrases 
to cover up their half-hearted, or, to put it more directly and plainly, their 
treacherous, perfidious policy towards the revolution. Let us now consider 
how the Social-Democrats appraise the tasks of the moment. The two resolu- 
tions passed quite recently by the Third Congress of the Russian Social- 


Democratic Labour Party and by the "Conference" of the section which has 
split away from the Party provide excellent material for this purpose. 
The question as to which of these resolutions more correctly appraises the 
political situation and more correctly defines the tactics of the revolution- 
ary proletariat is of enormous importance, and every Social -Democrat who 
is anxious to fulfil his duties as a propagandist, agitator and organizer intel- 
ligently must study this question very carefully, leaving all irrelevant con- 
siderations entirely aside. 

By Party tactics we mean the political conduct of the Party, or the na- 
ture, tendency and methods of its political activity. Tactical resolutions 
are adopted by Party congresses in order to define exactly the political con- 
duct of the Party as a whole with regard to new tasks, or in view of a new 
political situation. Such a new situation has been created by the revolution 
that has started in Russia, i.e., the complete, decided and open rupture 
between the overwhelming majority of the people and the tsarist govern- 
ment. The new question concerns the practical methods to be adopted in con- 
vening a genuinely popular and genuinely constituent assembly (the question 
of such an assembly was officially settled by the Social-Democratic Party 
in theory long ago, before any other party, in its Party program). Since the 
people have parted company with the government, and the masses realize 
the necessity of setting up a new order, the party which made it its object 
to overthrow the government must necessarily consider w