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The Historical Meaning of the Inner-Party Struggle in Russia[1]

V. I. Lenin

The subject indicated by the above title is dealt with in articles by Trotsky and Martov in Nos. 50 and 51 of Neue Zeit. Martov expounds Menshevik views. Trotsky follows in the wake of the Mensheviks, taking cover behind particularly sonorous phrases. Martov sums up the "Russian experience" by saying: "Blanquist and anarchist lack of culture triumphed over Marxist culture" (read: Bolshevism over Menshevism). "Russian Social-Democracy spoke too zealously in Russian", in contrast to the "general European" methods of tactics. Trotsky's "philosophy of history" is the same. The cause of the struggle is the "adaptation of the Marxist intelligentsia to the class movement of the, proletariat". "Sectarianism, intellectualist individualism, ideological fetishism" are placed in the forefront. "The struggle for influence over the politically immature proletariat"—that is the essence of the matter.


The theory that the struggle between Bolshevism and Menshevism is a struggle for influence over an immature proletariat is not a new one. We have been encountering it since 1905 (if not since 1903) in innumerable books, pamphlets, and articles in the liberal press. Martov and Trotsky are putting before the German comrades liberal views with a Marxist coating.

Of course, the Russian proletariat is politically far less mature than the proletariat of Western Europe. But of all classes of Russian society, it was the proletariat that displayed the greatest political maturity in 1905–07. The Russian liberal bourgeoisie, which behaved in just as vile, cowardly, stupid and treacherous a manner as the German bourgeoisie in 1848, hates the Russian proletariat for the very reason that in 1905 it proved sufficiently mature politically to wrest the leadership of the movement from this bourgeoisie and ruthlessly to expose the treachery of the liberals.

Trotsky declares: "It is an illusion" to imagine that Menshevism and Bolshevism "have struck deep roots in the depths of the proletariat". This is a specimen of the resonant but empty phrases of which our Trotsky is a master. The roots of the divergence between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks lie, not in the "depths of the proletariat", but in the economic content of the Russian revolution. By ignoring this content, Martov and Trotsky have deprived themselves of the possibility of understanding the historical meaning of the inner Party struggle in Russia. The crux of the matter is not whether the theoretical formulations of the differences have penetrated "deeply" into this or that stratum of the proletariat, but the fact that the economic conditions of the Revolution of 1905 brought the proletariat into hostile relations with the liberal bourgeoisie—not only over the question of improving the conditions of daily life of the workers, but also over the agrarian question, over all the political questions of the revolution, etc. To speak of the struggle of trends in the Russian revolutions distributing labels such as "sectarianism", "lack of culture", etc., and not to say a word about the fundamental economic interests of the proletariat, of the liberal bourgeoisie and of the democratic peasantry, means stooping to the level of cheap journalists.

Here is an example: "In the whole of Western Europe," Martov writes, "the peasant masses are considered suitable for an alliance [with the proletariat] only to the extent that they begin to feel the grave consequences of the capitalist revolution in agriculture; in Russia, however, a picture has been drawn of a numerically weak proletariat combining with a hundred million peasants who have not yet felt, or have hardly felt, the 'educational' effect of capitalism, and there fore have not yet been through the school of the capitalist bourgeoisie."

This is not a slip of the pen on Martov's part. It is the central point of all the ideas of Menshevism. The opportunist history of the Russian revolution which is being published in Russia under the editorship of Potresov, Martov and Maslov (The Social Movement in Russia at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century) is thoroughly permeated with these ideas. The Menshevik Maslov expressed these ideas still more graphically when he stated in the article which sums up this "work": "a dictatorship of the proletariat and the, peasantry would run counter to the whole course of economic development." It is precisely here that the roots of the divergencies between Bolshevism and Menshevism must be sought.

Martov substituted the school of the capitalist bourgeoisie for the school of capitalism. (Let us state in parenthesis that there is no other bourgeoisie in the world than the capitalist bourgeoisie.) What is meant by the school of capitalism? That capitalism lifts the peasants from the idiocy of rural life, rouses them and impels them to fight. What is meant by the school of the "capitalist bourgeoisie"? That "the German bourgeoisie of 1848 is without the least compunction betraying the peasants, who are its most natural allies... and without whom it is powerless against the nobility" (Karl Marx in Neue Rheinische Zeitung of July 29, 1848)[2]. That the Russian liberal bourgeoisie in 1905–07 systematically and persistently betrayed the peasants, that it in fact desert ed to the side of the landlords and tsarism against the fighting peasants and put direct obstacles in the path of the development of the peasant struggle.

Under cover of "Marxist" catchwords about the "education" of the peasants by capitalism, Martov is advocating the "education" of the peasants (who fought the nobility in revolutionary fashion) by the liberals (who betrayed the peasants to the nobles).

This is substituting liberalism for Marxism. This is liberalism embellished with Marxist phrases. What Bebel said in Magdeburg about there being National Liberals among the Social-Democrats is true not only of Germany.

It is also necessary to observe that most of the ideological leaders of Russian liberalism were brought up on German literature and are deliberately transplanting to Russia the Brentano and Sombart brand of "Marxism", which recognises the "school of capitalism", but rejects the school of revolutionary class struggle. All the counter-revolutionary liberals in Russia, such as Struve, Bulgakov, Frank, Izgoyev and Co., flaunt similar "Marxist" phrases.

Martov compares Russia of the epoch of peasant uprisings against feudalism with "Western Europe", which put an end to feudalism long ago. This is a stupendous distortion of the historical perspective. Are there any socialists "in the whole of Western Europe" whose programme contains the demand: "to support the revolutionary actions of the peasantry including confiscation of the landed estates"?[3] No, there are none. The socialists "in the whole of Western Europe" do not at all support the small proprietors in their fight over landownership against the big proprietors. Wherein lies the difference? In the fact that "in the whole of Western Europe" the bourgeois system, including, in particular, bourgeois agrarian relations, was established and took definite shape long ago, whereas in Russia it is just now that a revolution is taking place over the question of the form this bourgeois system is to assume. Martov repeats the threadbare method of the liberals, who always contrast the period of revolutionary conflicts over a given question with periods in which there are no such revolutionary conflicts because the question itself was solved long ago.

The tragicomedy of Menshevism lies in the fact that at the time of the revolution it had to accept theses which were incompatible with liberalism. If we support the struggle of the "peasantry" for the confiscation of the land, it means that we admit that victory is possible and economically and politically advantageous for the working class and the whole of the people. But the victory of the "peasantry" led by the proletariat in the struggle for the confiscation of the landed estates is precisely the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. (Let us recall what Marx said in 1848 about the need for a dictatorship in a revolution, and Mehring's deserved ridicule of those who accused Marx of wishing to achieve democracy by setting up a dictatorship.[4])

The view that the dictatorship of these classes "runs counter to the whole course of economic development" is radically wrong. The very opposite is the case. Only such a dictator ship could make a clean sweep of the remnants of feudalism and secure the speediest development of the productive forces. The policy of the liberals, on the contrary, entrusts the whole matter to the Russian Junkers, who are retarding "the course of the economic development" of Russia a hundredfold.

In 1905–07 the contradiction existing between the liberal bourgeoisie and the peasantry became fully revealed. In the spring and autumn of 1905, as well as in the spring of 1906, from one-third to one-half of the uyezds of Central Russia were affected by peasant revolts. The peasants destroyed approximately 2,000 country houses of landlords (unfortunately this is not more than one-fifteenth of what should have been destroyed). The proletariat alone whole heartedly supported this revolutionary struggle, directed it in every way, guided it, and united it by its mass strikes. The liberal bourgeoisie never helped this revolutionary struggle; they preferred to "pacify" the peasants and "reconcile" them with the landlords and the tsar. The same thing was then repeated in the parliamentary arena in the first two Dumas (1906 and 1907). During the whole of that period the liberals hindered the struggle of the peasants and betrayed them; and it was only the workers' deputies who directed and supported the peasants in opposition to the liberals. The entire history of the First and Second Dumas is full of the struggle of the liberals against the peasants and the Social-Democrats. The struggle between Bolshevism and Menshevism is inseparably bound up with that history, being a struggle over the question whether to support the liberals or to overthrow the hegemony of the liberals over the peasantry. Therefore, to attribute our splits to the influence of the intelligentsia, to the immaturity of the proletariat, etc., is a childishly naïve repetition of liberal fairy-tales.

For the same reason Trotsky's argument that splits in the international Social-Democratic movement are caused by the "process of adaptation of the social-revolutionary class to the limited (narrow) conditions of parliamentarism", etc., while in the Russian Social-Democratic movement they are caused by the adaptation of the intelligentsia to the proletariat, is absolutely false. Trotsky writes: "While the real political content of this process of adaptation was limited (narrow) from the standpoint of the socialist, final aim, its forms were unrestrained, and the ideological shadow cast by this process was great."

This truly "unrestrained" phrase-mongering is merely the "ideological shadow" of liberalism. Both Martov and Trotsky mix up different historical periods and compare Russia, which is going through her bourgeois revolution, with Europe, where these revolutions were completed long ago. In Europe the real political content of Social-Democratic work is to prepare the proletariat for the struggle for power against the bourgeoisie, which already holds full sway in the state. In Russia, the question is still only one of creating a modern bourgeois state, which will be similar either to a Junker monarchy (in the event of tsarism being victorious over democracy) or to a peasant bourgeois-democratic republic (in the event of democracy being victorious over tsarism). And the victory of democracy in present-day Russia is possible only if the peasant masses follow the lead of the revolutionary proletariat and not that of the treacherous liberals. History has not yet decided this question. The bourgeois revolutions are not yet completed in Russia and within these bounds, i. e., within the bounds of the struggle for the form of the bourgeois regime in Russia, "the real political content" of the work of Russian Social-Democrats is less "limited" than in countries where there is no struggle for the confiscation of the landed estates by the peasants, where the bourgeois revolutions were completed long ago.

It is easy to understand why the class interests of the bourgeoisie compel the liberals to try to persuade the workers that their role in the revolution is "limited", that the struggle of trends is caused by the intelligentsia, and not by profound economic contradictions, that the workers' party must be "not the leader in the struggle for emancipation, but a class party". This is the formula that the Golosist liquidators advanced quite recently (Levitsky in Nasha Zarya) and which the liberals have approved. They use the term. "class party" in the Brentano-Sombart sense: concern yourself only with your own class and abandon "Blanquist dreams" of leading all the revolutionary elements of the people in a struggle against tsarism and treacherous liberalism.


Martov's arguments on the Russian revolution and Trotsky's arguments on the present state of Russian Social-Democracy definitely confirm the incorrectness of their fundamental views.

We shall start with the boycott. Martov calls the boycott "abstention from politics", the method of the "anarchists and syndicalists", and he refers only to 1906. Trotsky says that the "boycottist tendency runs through the whole history of Bolshevism—boycott of the trade unions, of the State Duma, of local self-government bodies, etc.", that it is the "result of sectarian fear of being swamped by the masses, the radicalism of irreconcilable abstention", etc. As regards boycotting the trade unions and the local self-government bodies, what Trotsky says is absolutely untrue. It is equally untrue to say that boycottism runs through the whole history of Bolshevism; Bolshevism as a tendency, took definite shape in the spring and summer of 1905, before the question of the boycott first came up. In August 1906, in the official organ of the faction, Bolshevism declared that the historical conditions which made the boycott necessary had passed.[5]

Trotsky distorts Bolshevism, because he has never been able to form any definite views on the role of the proletariat in the Russian bourgeois revolution.

But far worse is the distortion of the history of this revolution. If we are to speak of the boycott we must start from the beginning, not from the end. The first (and only) victory in the revolution was wrested by the mass movement, which proceeded under the slogan of the boycott. It is only to the advantage of the liberals to forget this.

The law of August 6 (19), 1905 created the Bulygin Duma as a consultative body. The liberals, even the most radical of them, decided to participate in this Duma. The Social-Democrats, by an enormous majority (against the Mensheviks), decided to boycott it and to call upon the masses for a direct onslaught on tsarism, for a mass strike and an uprising. Hence, the question of the boycott was not a question within Social-Democracy alone. It was a question of the struggle of liberalism against the proletariat. The entire liberal press of that time showed that the liberals feared the development of the revolution and directed all their efforts towards reaching an "agreement" with tsarism.

What were the objective conditions for an immediate mass struggle? The best answer to this is supplied by the statistics of strikes (subdivided into economic and political strikes) and of the peasant movement. We cite here the principal data, which will serve to illustrate the whole of our subsequent exposition.

Number of Persons Involved in Strikes per Quarter[6] (in thousands)

Total 810 481 294 1,277 269 479 296 63 146 323 77 193
Economic strikes 411 190 143 275 73 222 125 37 52 52 66 30
Political strikes 399 291 154 1,002 196 257 171 26 94 271 11 163
Per cent of uyezds
affected by the
peasant movement
  14.2% 36.9% 49.2% 21.1%

These figures reveal what enormous energy the proletariat is capable of displaying during a revolution. In the entire decade preceding the revolution the number of strikers in Russia was only 431,000, i. e., an average of 43,000 per year, while in 1905 the total number of strikers was 2,863,000—at a time when the total number of factory workers was only 1,661,000! The world has never witnessed a strike movement like it. In the third quarter of 1905, when the question of the boycott arose for the first time, we observe the transition to a new and much more powerful wave of the strike movement (and, following it, of the peasant movement). The real historical content of the question of the boycott was whether to help the rise of this revolutionary wave and direct it towards the overthrow of tsarism, or whether to allow tsarism to divert the attention of the masses by the game of a consultative Duma. It is therefore easy to see how much triviality and liberal-like obtuseness there is in the efforts to link the boycott in the history of the Russian revolution with "abstention from politics", "sectarianism", etc. Under the slogan of the boycott adopted against the liberals a movement arose which brought about an increase in the number of political strikers from 151,000 during the third quarter of 1905 to one million during the fourth quarter of 1905.

Martov declares that the "chief cause" of the success of the strikes in 1905 was "the growing current of opposition in wide bourgeois circles". "The influence of these wide sections of, the bourgeoisie extended so far that they, on the one hand, directly instigated the workers to political strikes," and, on the other, urged the employers "to pay the wages of the workers during a strike" (Martov's italics).

We shall contrast this honeyed praise of the "influence" of the bourgeoisie with dry statistics. In 1905 strikes much more frequently ended in favour of the workers than in 1907. Here are the figures for that year: 1,438,610 strikers presented economic demands; 369,304 workers won their fight, 671,590 ended it with a compromise and 397,716 lost. Such in fact (and not according to liberal fables) was the "influence" of the bourgeoisie. Martov distorts the actual attitude of the proletariat towards the bourgeoisie in a truly liberal fashion. It was not because the bourgeoisie, on rare occasions, paid for the strikes, or came forward in opposition that the workers won (in "economics" and in politics), but it was because the workers were winning victories that the bourgeoisie were disaffected and paid. The force of the class attack, the force of the strikes in which millions took part, the force of the peasant riots and of the uprisings in the armed forces were the cause, the "chief cause", my dear Martov; the "sympathy" of the bourgeoisie was the effect.

Martov writes: "October 17, which opened up prospects of elections to the Duma and made it possible to hold meetings, to form workers' unions and to publish Social-Democratic newspapers, indicated the direction along which the work should have been conducted." But the trouble was that "the idea of the possibility of a 'strategy of attrition' did not enter anybody's head. The whole movement was being artificially pushed towards a serious and decisive clash, i. e., towards the December strike and the December "sanguinary defeat".

Kautsky disputed with Rosa Luxemburg whether in Germany in the spring of 1910 the moment had come for the transition from the "strategy of attrition" to the "strategy of over throw", and Kautsky stated plainly and definitely that this transition was inevitable if the political crisis developed further. But Martov, clinging to Kautsky's apron strings, retrospectively advocated the "strategy of attrition" for the period when the revolution reached its highest intensity. No, my dear Martov, you are merely repeating liberal speeches. October 17 did not "open up" "prospects" of a peaceful constitution—that is only a liberal fairy-tale; it opened civil war. This war was prepared, not by the subjective will of parties or groups, but by the whole course of events since January 1905. The October Manifesto signified not the cessation of the struggle, but the balancing of the contending forces: tsarism was no longer in a position to govern, the revolution was not yet in a position to overthrow it. The objectively inevitable consequence of this situation was a decisive struggle. Both in October and in November civil war was a fact (and the peaceful "prospects" were a liberal lie); this war found expression not only in pogroms, but also in the struggle by armed force against insubordinate units of the army, against the peasants in one-third of Russia and against the border regions. Those who under such circumstances regard the December armed uprising and mass strike as "artificial" can only artificially be classed as Social-Democrats. The natural party for such people is the liberal party.

In 1848 and in 1871 Marx said that there are moments in a revolution when surrendering to the enemy without a struggle has a more demoralising effect on the masses than defeat in a fight[7]. December 1905 was not only such a moment in the history of the Russian revolution, it was the natural and inevitable culmination of the mass encounters and battles which had been growing in intensity in all parts of the country during the preceding twelve months. Even dry statistics bear witness to this fact. The number of per sons who took part in purely political strikes (i.e., in which no economic demands were presented) was: in January 1905, 123,000; in October, 328,000; in December, 872,000. And yet there are people who want us to believe that this growth was "artificial"! We are treated to a fairy-tale to the effect that such a growth of the mass political struggle, in addition to the mutinies in the armed forces, is possible without its inevitable development into an armed uprising! No, this is not a history of the revolution, it is a liberal libel on the revolution.


Concerning the October strike, Martov writes: "Just at this time, when general excitement reigns among the working masses ... an attempt is made to merge the struggle for political liberty and the economic struggle into a single whole. Comrade Rosa Luxemburg's opinion notwithstanding, this revealed, not the strong, but the weak side of the movement." The attempt to introduce the eight-hour working day by revolutionary means ended in failure and "disorganised" the workers. "The general strike of the post and telegraph employees in November 1905 acted in the same direction." This is the way Martov writes history.

It is sufficient to glance at the statistics given above to see the falsity of this history. Throughout all the three years of the revolution we observe that every time the political crisis becomes acute there is an upsurge, not only of the political, but also of the economic strike struggle. Not the weakness, but the strength of the movement lay in the combination of the two forms of struggle. The opposite view is the view of the liberal bourgeois, for the very thing he wanted was that the workers should take part in politics, without, however, the broad masses being drawn into the revolution and into the struggle against the bourgeoisie. It was precisely after October 17 that the liberal Zemstvo movement finally split; the landlords and industrialists formed the openly counter-revolutionary party of the "Octobrists", who unleashed all the force of reprisals against the strikers (while in the press the "Left" liberals, the Cadets, accused the workers of "madness"). Martov, echoing the Octobrists and the Cadets, is of the opinion that the "weakness" of the workers lay in the fact that at that very time they were trying to make the economic struggle still more aggressive. In our opinion the weakness of the workers (and still more the peasants) lay in the fact that they did not resolutely, widely and quickly enough pass to the aggressive economic and armed political struggle which inevitably resulted from the whole course of events, and not at all from the subjective desires of particular groups or parties. A wide gulf separates our view from Martov's and, in spite of Trotsky's assertions, this gulf between the views of "intellectuals" reflects only the gulf which in fact existed at the end of 1905 between the classes, namely, between the revolutionary proletariat, which fought, and the bourgeoisie, which behaved in a treacherous manner.

It must be added that defeats of the workers in the strike struggle are characteristic not only of the end of 1905, which Martov seized upon, but to a still greater extent of 1908 and 1907. The statistics show that during the ten years 1895–1904 the employers won 51.6 per cent of the strikes (according to the number of strikers involved); in 1905, 29.4 per cent; in 1906, 33.5 per cent; in 1907, 57.6 per cent; in 1908, 68.8 per cent. Does this mean that the economic strikes of 1906–07 were "mad" and "inopportune", and that they revealed the "weak side of the movement"? No. It means that inasmuch as the offensive of the revolutionary struggle of the masses was not strong enough in 1905, defeat (both in politics and in "economics") was inevitable, but that if the proletariat had not been able to rise at least twice for a new attack against the enemy (a quarter of a mu lion persons involved in political strikes alone during the second quarter of 1906 and also 1907), the defeat would have been still greater; the coup d'état would have taken place not in June 1907, but a year, or even more than a year, earlier, and the workers would have been deprived of the economic gains of 1905 even sooner than they were.

It is this significance of the revolutionary struggle of the masses that Martov absolutely fails to understand. Echoing the liberals, he says, in reference to the boycott at the beginning of 1906, that "for a time the Social-Democrats remained outside the political line of battle". From a purely theoretical standpoint such a presentation of the question of the boycott in 1906 is an incredible simplification and vulgarisation of a very complex problem. What was the real "line of battle" during the second quarter of 1906—was it parliamentary or extra-parliamentary? Look at the statistics: the number of persons involved in "economic" strikes rose from 73,000 to 222,000, the number of those involved in political strikes rose from 196,000 to 257,000. The number of uyezds affected by the peasant movement rose from 36.9 per cent to 49.2 per cent of the total. It is known that mutinies in the armed forces also increased greatly and be came more frequent during the second quarter of 1906 compared with the first. It is known further that the First Duma was the most revolutionary parliament in the world (at the beginning of the twentieth century), yet at the same time it was the most impotent; not a single one of its decisions was put into effect.

Such are the objective facts. In the estimation of the liberals and Martov, these facts show that the Duma was the real "line of battle", whereas uprisings, political strikes and the unrest among the peasants and soldiers were the inconsequential affair of "revolutionary romanticists". And the deep-thinking Trotsky is of the opinion that the factional differences that arose on this ground represented an "intellectualist" "struggle for influence over an immature proletariat". In our opinion the objective data prove that in the spring of 1906 there was such a serious upsurge of a real revolutionary mass struggle that the Social-Democratic Party was obliged to regard precisely that struggle as the principal struggle and exert every effort to support and develop it. In our opinion the specific political situation at that period—when the tsarist government obtained from Europe a two thousand million loan on the security, as it were, of the con vocation of the Duma, and when the tsarist government was hastily promulgating laws against the boycott of the Duma—fully justified the attempt made by the proletariat to wrest the convocation of the first parliament in Russia out of the hands of the tsar. In our opinion it was not the Social-Democrats, but the liberals, who "remained outside the political line of battle" at that time. Those constitutional illusions, on the spread of which among the masses the whole career of the liberals in the revolution was based, were most glaringly refuted by the history of the First Duma.

In both the First and the Second Dumas the liberals (Cadets) had a majority and occupied the political foreground with much noise and fuss. But it was just these liberal "victories" that clearly showed that the liberals remained all the time "outside the political line of battle", that they were political comedians who deeply corrupted the democratic consciousness of the masses. And if Martov and his friends, echoing the liberals, point to the heavy defeats of the revolution as an object-lesson of "what should not be done", our answer to them is, firstly, that the only real victory gained by the revolution was the victory of the proletariat, which rejected the liberal advice to enter the Bulygin Duma and led the peasant masses to an uprising; secondly, by the heroic struggle it waged during the course of three years (1905–07) the Russian proletariat won for itself and for the Russian people gains that took other nations decades to win. It won the emancipation of the working masses from the influence of treacherous and contemptibly impotent liberalism. It won for itself the hegemony in the struggle for freedom and democracy as a pre-condition of the struggle for socialism. It won for all the oppressed and exploited classes of Russia the ability to wage a revolutionary mass struggle, without which nothing of importance in the progress of mankind has been achieved anywhere in the world.

These gains cannot be taken away from the Russian proletariat by any reaction, or by any hatred, abuse and malice on the part of the liberals, or by any vacillation, short-sightedness and lack of faith on the part of the socialist opportunists.


The development of the factions in Russian Social-Democracy since the revolution is also to be explained, not by the "adaptation of the intelligentsia to the proletariat", but by the changes in the relations between the classes. The Revolution of 1905–07 accentuated, brought out into the open and placed on the order of the day the antagonism between the peasants and the liberal bourgeoisie over the question of the form of a bourgeois regime in Russia. The politically mature proletariat could not but take a most energetic part in this struggle, and its attitude to the various classes of the new society was reflected in the struggle between Bolshevism and Menshevism.

The three years 1908–10 are marked by the victory of the counter-revolution, by the restoration of the autocracy and by the Third Duma, the Duma of the Black Hundreds and Octobrists. The struggle between the bourgeois classes over the form of the new regime has ceased to be in the forefront. The proletariat is now confronted with the elementary task of preserving its proletarian party, which is hostile both to the reaction and to counter-revolutionary liberalism. This task is not an easy one, because it is the proletariat that suffers all the brunt of economic and political persecution, and all the hatred of the liberals because the leadership of the masses in the revolution has, been wrested from them by the Social-Democrats.

The crisis in the Social-Democratic Party is very grave. The organisations are shattered. A large number of veteran leaders (especially among the intellectuals) have been arrested. A new type of Social-Democratic worker, who is taking the affairs of the Party in hand, has already appeared, but he has to overcome extraordinary difficulties. Under such conditions the Social-Democratic Party is losing many of its "fellow-travellers". It is natural that petty-bourgeois "fellow-travellers" should have joined the socialists during the bourgeois revolution. Now they are falling away from Marxism and from Social-Democracy. This process is observed in both factions: among the Bolsheviks in the shape of the "otzovist" tendency, which arose in the spring of 1908, suffered defeat immediately at the Moscow Conference, and after a long struggle was rejected by the official centre of the faction and formed a separate faction abroad—the Vperyod faction. The specific character of the period of disintegration was expressed in the fact that this faction united those Machists who introduced into their platform the struggle against Marxism (under the guise of defence of "proletarian philosophy") and the "ultimatumists", those shamefaced otzovists, as well as various types of "days-of-freedom Social-Democrats", who were carried away by "spectacular" slogans, which they learned by rote, but who failed to understand the fundamentals of Marxism.

Among the Mensheviks the same process of the falling away of petty-bourgeois "fellow-travellers" was expressed in the liquidationist tendency, now fully formulated in Mr. Potresov's magazine Nasha Zarya, in Vozrozhdenie and Zhizn, in the stand taken by "the Sixteen" and "the trio" (Mikhail, Roman, Yuri), while Golos Sotsial-Demokrata, published abroad, acted as a servant of the Russian liquidators in fact and a diplomatic disguise for them before the Party membership.

Failing to understand the historical and economic significance of this disintegration in the era of counter-revolution, of this falling away of non-Social-Democratic elements from the Social-Democratic Labour Party, Trotsky tells the German readers that both factions are "falling to pieces", that the Party is "falling to pieces", that the Party is "demoralised."

It is not true. And this untruth expresses, firstly, Trotsky's utter lack of theoretical understanding. Trotsky has absolutely failed to understand why the plenum described both liquidationism and otzovism as a "manifestation of bourgeois influence on the proletariat". Just think: is the severance from the Party of trends which have been condemned by the Party, and which express bourgeois influence on the proletariat, an indication of the Party's disintegration, of its demoralisation, or is it an indication of its becoming stronger and purer?

Secondly, in practice, this untruth expresses the "policy" of advertisement pursued by Trotsky's faction. That Trotsky's venture is an attempt to create a faction is now obvious to all, since Trotsky has removed the Central Committee's representative from Pravda. In advertising his faction Trotsky does not hesitate to tell the Germans that the Party is falling to pieces, that both factions are falling to pieces and that he, Trotsky, alone, is saving the situation. Actually, we all see now—and the latest resolution adopted by the Trotskyists (in the name of the Vienna Club, on November 26, 1910) proves this quite conclusively—that Trotsky enjoys the confidence exclusively of the liquidators and the Vperyodists.

The extent of Trotsky's shamelessness in, belittling the Party and exalting himself before the Germans is shown, for instance, by the following. Trotsky writes that the "working masses" in Russia consider that the "Social-Democratic Party stands outside [Trotsky's italics] their, circle" and he talks of "Social-Democrats without Social-Democracy".

How could one expect Mr. Potresov and his friends to refrain from bestowing kisses on Trotsky for such statements?

But these statements are refuted not only by the entire history of the revolution, but even by the results of the elections to the Third Duma from the workers' curia.

Trotsky writes that "owing to their former ideological and organisational structure, the Menshevik and Bolshevik factions proved altogether incapable" of working in legal organisations; work was carried on by "individual groups of Social-Democrats, but all this took place outside the factions, outside their organisational influence". "Even the most important legal organisation, in which the Mensheviks predominate, works completely outside the control of the Menshevik faction." That is what Trotsky writes. But the facts are as follows. From the very beginning of the existence of the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma, the Bolshevik faction, through its representatives authorised by the Central Committee of the Party, has all the time assisted, aided, advised, and supervised the work of the Social-Democrats in the Duma. The same is done by the editorial board of the Central Organ of the Party, which consists of representatives of the factions (which were dissolved as factions in January 1910).

When Trotsky gives the German comrades a detailed account of the stupidity of "otzovism" and describes this trend as a "crystallisation" of the boycottism characteristic of Bolshevism as a whole, and then mentions in a few words that Bolshevism "did not allow itself to be overpowered" by otzovism, but "attacked it resolutely or rather in an unbridled fashion"—the German reader certainly gets no idea how much subtle perfidy there is in such an exposition. Trotsky's Jesuitical "reservation" consists in omitting a small, very small "detail". He "forgot" to mention that at an official, meeting of its representatives held as far back as the spring of 1909, the Bolshevik faction repudiated and expelled the otzovists. But it is just this "detail" that is inconvenient for Trotsky, who wants to talk of the "falling to pieces" of the Bolshevik faction (and then of the Party as well) and not of the falling away of the non-Social-Democratic elements!

We now regard Martov as one of the leaders of liquidationism, one who is the more dangerous the more "cleverly" he defends the liquidators by quasi-Marxist phrases. But Martov openly expounds views which have put their stamp on whole tendencies in the mass labour movement of 1903–10. Trotsky, on the other hand, represents only his own personal vacillations and nothing more. In 1903 he was a Menshevik; he abandoned Menshevism in 1904, returned to the Mensheviks in 1905 and merely flaunted ultra-revolutionary phrases; in 1906 he left them again; at the end of 1906 he advocated electoral agreements with the Cadets (i.e., he was in fact once more with the Mensheviks); and in the spring of 1907, at the London Congress, he said that he differed from Rosa Luxemburg on "individual shades of ideas rather than on political tendencies". One day Trotsky plagiarises from the ideological stock-in-trade of one faction; the next day he plagiarises from that of another, and therefore declares himself to be standing above both factions. In theory Trotsky is on no point in agreement with either the liquidators or the otzovists, but in actual practice he is in entire agreement with both the Golosists and the Vperyodists.

Therefore, when Trotsky tells the German comrades that he represents the "general Party tendency", I am obliged to declare that Trotsky represents only his own faction and enjoys a certain amount of confidence exclusively among the otzovists and the liquidators. The following facts prove the correctness of my statement. In January 1910, the Central Committee of our Party established close ties with Trotsky's newspaper Pravda and appointed a representative of the Central Committee to sit on the editorial board. In September 1910, the Central Organ of the Party announced a rupture between the representative of the Central Committee and Trotsky owing to Trotsky's anti-Party policy. In Copenhagen, Plekhanov, as the representative of the pro-Party Mensheviks and delegate of the editorial board of the Central Organ, together with the present writer, as the representative of the Bolsheviks, and a Polish comrade, entered an emphatic protest against the way Trotsky represents our Party affairs in the German press.

Let the readers now judge for themselves whether Trotsky represents a "general Party", or a "general anti-Party" trend in Russian Social-Democracy.


[1] The article “The Historical Meaning of the Inner-Party Struggle in Russia” was directed against the slanderous articles of Trotsky and Martov published in the magazine Neue Zeit, the organ of the German Social-Democrats. Lenin intended to answer Trotsky and Martov in the same magazine, but the editors of Neue Zeit, Kautsky and Wurm, did not publish Lenin’s article. It was not published until April 29 (May 12), 1911 in Diskussionny Listok No. 3.

[2] Marx/Engels/Lenin, Zur Deutschen Geschichte, Band II, 1. Halbband, Berlin, 1954, S. 254.

[3] Lenin is referring to the "Tactical Resolution on the Agrarian Question" adopted by the Fourth (Unity) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (See The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, 7th Russian ed., Part 1, 1953, pp. 124–25.)

[4] This refers to Karl Marx's article "The Berlin Counter-revolution" published on September 13, 1848, in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. This article was included in the third volume of Aus dem literarischen Nachlass von Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels und Ferdinand Lassalle (The Literary Legacy of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Ferdinand Lassalle), which was prepared by F. Mehring and published in Stuttgart, 1902, pp. 192–96. In referring to "Mehring's deserved ridicule" Lenin has in mind Mehring's introduction to this third volume, pp. 53–54.

[5] See present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 141–49.—Ed.

[6] The periods which are of special importance are enclosed in boxes: 1905, I—Jan. 9; 1905, IV—the climax of the revolution, October and December; 1906, II—the First Duma; 1907, II—the Second Duma. The figures are from the official statistics of strikes*, which I am working on in detail for the outline of the history of the Russian revolution that I am now preparing for the press (see pp. 393–421 of this volume.—Ed.).
* This refers to V. Y. Varzar's book Statistics of Strikes at Factories During the Three Years 1906-08, St. Petersburg, 1910.

[7] Marx und Engels: Revolution und Konterrevolution in Deutschland. See also Marx's letter to Ludwig Kugelmann of April 17, 1871 (Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, pp. 319-20).

Written: Written in September-November of 1910
Published: Published April 29 (May 12), 1911, in Diskussionny Listok No. 3.
Signed: N. Lenin.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1974], Moscow, Volume 16, pages 374-392.

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