V I. Lenin

 On the First Russian Revolution 1905 - 1907

Collection of works

- arranged by Wolfgang Eggers -

on occasion of the 110th anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" - 22nd (9th) of January, 1905




The St. Petersburg Strike

Vperyod, No. 3, January 24 (11)

1905 Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 90-93.

The strike that began at the Putiloy Works on January 3 is developing into one of the most imposing manifestations of the working-class movement. Our information so far is limited to reports in the foreign newspapers and the legal Russian press. But even these sources leave no doubt that the strike has already become a political event of tremendous importance.

The strike started quite spontaneously. It was one of the clashes between labour and capital that are ever recurring. This time the impetus was the dismissal of four workers by the factory management. The workers rose in a high spirit of solidarity and demanded their reinstatement. The movement gained rapidly. The legally functioning Russian Factory and Mill Workers’ Society is taking part in it, and the strike is entering its next and higher phase.

This legal workers’ society has been an object of special attention on the part of the Zubatovists.[2] And now the Zubatov movement is outgrowing its bounds. Initiated by the police in the interests of the police, in the interests of supporting the autocracy and demoralising the political consciousness of the workers, this movement is turning against the autocracy and is becoming an outbreak of the proletarian, class struggle.

The Social-Democrats long ago predicted that such would be the inevitable outcome of the, Zubatov movement in our country. The legalisation of the working-class movement, they said, would definitely benefit us Social-Democrats. It would draw certain sections of the workers into the movement, especially the backward sections; it would   help to rouse those who would not soon, perhaps ever, be roused by a socialist agitator. And once drawn into the movement and having acquired an interest in their own future, the workers would go further. The legal labour movement would only be a new and broader basis for the Social-Democratic labour movement.[1]

Without a doubt, this is precisely what happened in St. Petersburg.

The movement owes its rapid expansion to two circumstances: first, the moment was propitious for an economic struggle (the government was in pressing need of the fulfilment of the orders placed by the War Ministry and the Admiralty); secondly, the constitutional movement among the social strata was expanding. Having begun the strike in defence of some dismissed comrades, the workers took the further step of presenting broad economic demands. They demanded an eight-hour day, a minimum wage (one ruble for men and seventy kopeks for women), the abolition of compulsory overtime work (and double pay for overtime), improvement of sanitary conditions and medical aid, etc. The strike began to develop into a general strike.

The foreign papers report under date of Saturday, January 8 (21, new style), that even according to official Russian information 174 mills, factories, and workshops involving 96,000 workers are on strike.

We are witnessing one of the great clashes between the developing proletarian class and its enemies, clashes that will leave their mark for many years to come.

But things did not stop at economic demands. The movement has begun to assume a political character. The local Social-Democrats have attempted (although, it seems, still very feebly) to participate in it. At huge mass meetings of the workers attended by several thousand people political demands have come to be discussed and resolutions in favour of political freedom have been put to the vote. The petition drawn up by the workers, it is reported, comprises three parts.[3] The first sets forth demands of   rights for the people; the second, measures to relieve the people’s poverty; the third, measures against the oppression of labour by capital. The first part contains the following demands: inviolability of the person; freedom of speech, assembly, and conscience; compulsory schooling at the expense of the state; participation of elected representatives of the people in the legislature; equality of all before the law; a responsible Cabinet; abolition of the redemption payments[4]; cheap credit; gradual sharing out of the state lands among the people; an income-tax. (If this report is true, it points to an extremely interesting interpretation of the Social-Democratic programme in the minds of the masses or their not very class-conscious leaders.) The correspondent of The Standard, an English newspaper, reports that three meetings took place on January 5 (18) (of which one was attended by 4,000 and an other by 2,000) and that the following political demands were endorsed: (1) the immediate convocation of a Constituent Assembly elected by a general vote; (2) an end to the war; (3) full amnesty for political exiles and prisoners; (4) freedom of the press and of conscience; (5) freedom of assembly and the right of association. The foreign press for January 8 (21) reports that preparations are under way for a demonstration to be held on Sunday, January 9 (22), outside the Winter Palace, at which a petition is to be presented “to the tsar himself”. Freedom or death, declare the workers. Moscow and Libau are sending workers’ delegates to St. Petersburg.

Such is the limited and still unconfirmed information to have reached us to date. Obviously the movement has not yet attained its zenith by far, and we must await further events before we can form a definite opinion of what is occurring. One is struck by the amazingly rapid shift of the movement from the purely economic to the political ground, by the tremendous solidarity and energy displayed by hundreds of thousands of proletarians—and all this, notwithstanding the fact that conscious Social-Democratic influence is lacking or is but slightly evident. The primitive character of the socialist views held by some of the leaders of the movement and the tenacity with which some elements of the working class cling to their naive faith in   the tsar enhance rather than lessen the significance of the revolutionary instinct now asserting itself among the proletariat. The political protest of the leading oppressed class and its revolutionary energy break through all obstacles, both external, in the form of police bans, and internal, in the form of the ideological immaturity and backwardness of some of the leaders. The work of the Social-Democrats during the last ten years and the lessons of the working-class movement during this period have borne fruit; the ideas of socialism and of the political struggle are streaming through the broadest channels. The proletariat is proving in action that on the political scene in Russia there are not only two forces (autocracy and bourgeois society), as some in their faintness of heart have been ready to believe. It is showing us manifestly superior forms of mobilisation of the revolutionary class forces; this mobilisation, of course, is not to be classed with demonstrations of minor importance in this or that municipal council, but with mass movements, like the Rostov demonstration and the strikes of 1903 in the South. The mobilisation of the revolutionary forces of the proletariat in this new and higher form is bringing us with gigantic strides nearer to the moment when the proletariat will even more decisively and more consciously join battle with the autocracy.


[1] Cf. N. Lenin, What Is To Be Done?, pp. 86-88. (See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 454-56.—Ed.)—Lenin

[2] Zubatov—colonel of the gendarmerie who tried to introduce a type of “police socialism”. He set up pseudo-labour organisations under the patronage of the gendarmerie and the police in order to divert the workers from the revolutionary movement.

[3] The petition of the St. Petersburg workers to the tsar was printed in leaflet form and reprinted in Vperyod, No. 4, January 31 (48), 1905.

[4] Redemption payments—payments which the peasants had to make to the landlords for the allotments which they received under the Regulations of February 19, 1861, abolishing serfdom. The redemption payments were considerably in excess of the actual value of the allotments. In making them, the peasants, in actuality, were not only paying the landlords for the land which they had been using since time immemorial, but were paying for their emancipation as well.



Revolution in Russia

Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 8, page 71

Vperyod, No. 3, January 24 (11), 1905.

Geneva, January 10 (23)

Theworking class, which would seem to have stood aside for a long time from the bourgeois opposition movement, has raised its voice. With incredible speed the broad masses of the workers have caught up with their advanced comrades, the class-conscious Social-Democrats. The workers’ movement in St. Petersburg these days has made gigantic strides. Economic demands are giving way to political demands. The strike is turning into a general strike and it has led to an unheard-of colossal demonstration; the prestige of the tsarist name has been ruined for good. The uprising has begun. Force against force. Street fighting is raging, barricades are being thrown up, rifles are crackling, guns are roaring. Rivers of blood are flowing, the civil war for freedom is blazing up. Moscow and the South, the Caucasus and Poland are ready to join the proletariat of St. Petersburg. The slogan of the workers has become: Death or freedom! Today and tomorrow a great deal will be decided. The situation changes with every hour. The telegraph brings breath-taking news, and all words now seem feeble in comparison with the events we are living through. Everyone must be ready to do his duty as a revolutionary and as a Social-Democrat.

Longlive the revolution!

Longlive the insurgent proletariat!




The Beginning of the Revolution in Russia

Vperyod, No. 4, January 31(18), 1905

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 97-100.

Geneva, Wednesday, January 25 (12)

Events of the greatest historical importance are developing in Russia. The proletariat has risen against tsarism. The proletariat was driven to revolt by the government. There can hardly be any doubt now that the government deliberately allowed the strike movement to develop and a wide demonstration to be started more or less without hindrance in order to bring matters to a point where military force could be used. Its manoeuvre was successful. Thousands of killed and wounded—such is the toll of Bloody Sunday, January 9, in St. Petersburg. The army defeated unarmed workers, women, and children. The army vanquished the enemy by shooting prostrate workers. “We have taught them a good lesson!” the tsar’s henchmen and their European flunkeys from among the conservative bourgeoisie say with consummate cynicism.

Yes, it was a great lesson, one which the Russian proletariat will not forget. The most uneducated, backward sections of the working class, who naïvely trusted the tsar and sincerely wished to put peacefully before “the tsar himself” the petition of a tormented people, were all taught a lesson by the troops led by the tsar or his uncle, the Grand Duke Vladimir.

The working class has received a momentous lesson in civil war; the revolutionary education of the proletariat made more progress in one day than it could have made in months and years of drab, humdrum, wretched existence. The slogan of the heroic St. Petersburg proletariat, “Death or freedom!” is reverberating throughout Russia. Events   are developing with astonishing rapidity. The general strike in St. Petersburg is spreading. All industrial, public, and political activities are paralysed. On Monday, January 10, still more violent clashes occurred between the workers and the military. Contrary to the mendacious government reports, blood is flowing in many parts of the capital. The workers of Kolpino are rising. The proletariat is arming itself and the people. The workers are said to have seized the Sestroretsk Arsenal. They are providing themselves with revolvers, forging their tools into weapons, and procuring bombs for a desperate bid for freedom. The general strike is spreading to the provinces. Ten thousand have already ceased work in Moscow, and a general strike has been called there for tomorrow (Thursday, January 13). An uprising has broken out in Riga. The workers are demonstrating in Lodz, an uprising is being prepared in Warsaw, proletarian demonstrations are taking place in Helsingfors. Unrest is growing among the workers and the strike is spreading in Baku, Odessa, Kiev, Kharkov, Koyno, and Vilna. In Sevastopol, the naval stores and arsenals are ablaze, and the troops refuse to shoot at the mutineers. Strikes in Revel and in Saratov. Workers and reservists clash with the troops in Radom.

The revolution is spreading. The government is beginning to lose its head. From the policy of bloody repression it is attempting to change over to economic concessions and to save itself by throwing a sop to the workers or promising the nine-hour day. But the lesson of Bloody Sunday cannot be forgotten. The demand of the insurgent St. Petersburg workers—the immediate convocation of a Constituent Assembly on the basis of universal, direct, and equal suffrage by secret ballot—must become the demand of all the striking workers. Immediate overthrow of the government— this was the slogan with which even the St. Petersburg workers who had believed in the tsar answered the massacre of January 9; they answered through their leader, the priest Georgi Gapon, who declared after that bloody day: “We no longer have a tsar. A river of blood divides the tsar from the people. Long live the fight for freedom!”

Long live the revolutionary proletariat! say we. The general strike is rousing and rallying increasing masses   of the working class and the urban poor. The arming of the people is becoming an immediate task of the revolutionary moment.

Only an armed people can be the real bulwark of popular liberty. The sooner the proletariat succeeds in arming, and the longer it holds its fighting positions as striker and revolutionary, the sooner will the army begin to waver; more and more soldiers will at last begin to realise what they are doing and they will join sides with the people against the fiends, against the tyrant, against the murderers of defenceless workers and of their wives and children. No matter what the outcome of the present uprising in St. Petersburg may be, it will, in any case, be the first step to a wider, more conscious, better organised uprising. The government may possibly succeed in putting off the day of reckoning, but the postponement will only make the next step of the revolutionary onset more stupendous. This will only mean that the Social-Democrats will take advantage of this postponement to rally the organised fighters and spread the news about the start made by the St. Petersburg workers. The proletariat will join in the struggle, it will quit mill and factory and will prepare arms for itself. The slogans of the struggle for freedom will be carried more and more widely into the midst of the urban poor and of the millions of peasants. Revolutionary committees will be set up at every factory, in every city district, in every large village. The people in revolt will overthrow all the government institutions of the tsarist autocracy and proclaim the immediate convocation of a Constituent Assembly.

The immediate arming of the workers and of all citizens in general, the preparation and organisation of the revolutionary forces for overthrowing the government authorities and institutions—this is the practical basis on which revolutionaries of every variety can and must unite to strike the common blow. The proletariat must always pursue its own independent path, never weakening its connection with the Social-Democratic Party, always bearing in mind its great, ultimate objective, which is to rid mankind of all exploitation. But this independence of the Social Democratic proletarian party will never cause us to forget the importance of a common revolutionary onset at the   moment of actual revolution. We Social-Democrats can and must act independently of the bourgeois-democratic revolutionaries and guard the class independence of the proletariat. But we must go hand in hand with them during the up rising, when direct blows are being struck at tsarism, when resistance is offered the troops, when the bastilles of the accursed enemy of the entire Russian people are stormed.

The proletariat of the whole world is now looking eagerly towards the proletariat of Russia. The overthrow of tsarism in Russia, so valiantly begun by our working class, will be the turning-point in the history of all countries; it will facilitate the task of the workers of all nations, in all states, in all parts of the globe. Let, therefore, every Social-Democrat, every class-conscious worker bear in mind the immense tasks of the broad popular struggle that now rest upon his shoulders. Let him not forget that he represents also the needs and interests of the whole peasantry, of all who toil, of all who are exploited, of the whole people against their enemy. The proletarian heroes of St. Petersburg now stand as an example to all.

Long live the revolution!

Long live the insurgent proletariat!



Revolutionary Days

Vperyod, No. 4, January 31 (18), 1905


Trepov in the Saddle

Vperyod, No. 5, February 7 (January 25), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 132-135.

Cruel reprisals against all the discontented have become the government’s slogan since January 9. On Tuesday, Trepov, one of the most hated servitors of tsarism in the whole of Russia, notorious in Moscow for his brutality, his coarseness, and his participation in the Zubatovist attempts to demoralise the workers, was appointed Governor-General of St. Petersburg with dictatorial powers.

Arrests came thick and fast as from a horn of plenty. The first to be arrested were the members of the liberal delegation, which, late on Saturday evening, had gone to Witte and Svyatopolk-Mirsky to request the government to receive the workers’ petition and not to order the troops to fire on the peaceful demonstration. It goes without saying that these requests proved of no avail. Witte referred the delegation to Svyatopolk-Mirsky; the latter refused to receive it. The Deputy-Minister of the Interior, Rydziewski, received the delegation very coldly and declared that it was not the government that had to be persuaded, but the workers, that the government was fully informed of everything that was going on, and that it had already made decisions which no requests could alter. It is interesting that at the meeting of the liberals which appointed this delegation the suggestion had even been made to dissuade the workers from marching to the Winter Palace, upon which a friend of Gapon’s who was present at the meeting declared that this would be use less, since the workers’ decision was irrevocable. (This in formation was reported by Mr. Dillon, correspondent of the English Daily Telegraph, and subsequently corroborated by other correspondents.)

The members of the delegation—Gessen, Arsenyev, Kareyev, Peshekhonov, Myakotin, Semevsky, Kedrin, Shnitnikov, Ivanchin-Pisarev, and Gorky (who was arrested in Riga and brought to St. Petersburg)—were held in custody on the ridiculous charge that they intended to organise a “provisional government of Russia” on the day after the revolution. Such a charge, of course, is bound to collapse of itself. A number of the arrested men (Arsenyev, Kedrin, and Shnitnikov) have been released. A vigorous campaign in behalf of Gorky has been started in educated bourgeois circles abroad, and a petition to the tsar for his release was signed by many prominent German scientists and writers. These have now been joined by scientists and men of letters in Austria, France, and Italy.

On Friday evening, four members of the staff of the newspaper Nasha Zhizn were arrested: Prokopovich and his wife, Khizhnyakov, and Yakovlev (Bogucharsky). Of the staff of the newspaper Nashi Dni,[1] Ganeiser was arrested on Saturday morning. The police are trying very bard to intercept the funds sent from abroad for the strikers or for the widows and orphans of those killed in the massacre. People are being arrested en masse. The warrant for Bogucharsky’s arrest was numbered 53 and for Khizhnyakov 109. On Saturday the offices of both mentioned papers were raided and all manuscripts without exception were confiscated, including detailed accounts of the events of the entire week, accounts written and signed by reliable eyewitnesses who had noted down all they had seen for the edification of future generations. None of this material will ever see the light of day now.

On Wednesday the number of arrests was so considerable that the prisoners had to be placed two and three in a cell. In the case of workers, the new dictator is casting all ceremony aside. Since Thursday they have been rounded up in batches and hustled back to their home towns and villages. There they will, of course, spread the story of the events of January 9 and advocate struggle against the autocracy.

Trepov is falling back on his old Moscow tactics of ensnaring the working-class masses with economic sops.

Employers are conferring with the Minister of Finance to devise various concessions to the workers; there is talk of   the nine-hour day. On Tuesday the Minister of Finance received a delegation of workers, promised economic reforms, and warned against political agitation.

The police are trying their hardest to sow distrust and enmity between the general public and the workers. Wednesday’s reports in foreign newspapers state most definitely that the police are trying to terrorise the population of St. Petersburg with lurid accounts of robberies and other atrocious deeds alleged to have been committed by the strikers. Deputy-Minister of the Interior Rydziewski himself assured a visitor on Tuesday that the strikers were out to loot, burn, destroy, and kill. Wherever they have been able, the strikers—at least their class-conscious leaders—have branded this as slander. The police themselves sent out agents-provocateurs and house janitors to smash windows, burn news-stands, and loot shops, in order to terrorise the population. The workers, in fact, behaved so peacefully that they roused the wonder of the foreign press correspondents who had witnessed the horrors of January 9.

The police agents are now busy with a new “workers’ organisation”. They pick suitable elements from among the workers, supply them with money, set them on students and writers, and praise “the true public-spirited policy of Our Father the Tsar”. It is not difficult to find among two or three hundred thousand uneducated workers, crushed in spirit by starvation, a few thousand who will nibble at this bait. These will be “organised”, they will be made to curse “the liberal frauds” and to declare loudly that they were fooled last Sunday. Then this scum of the working class will appoint a delegation which will “humbly beseech the tsar to allow them to fall at his feet and repent them of the crimes they committed last Sunday”. “According to my information,” continues the correspondent, “this is precisely what the police are now engaged in arranging. After they have put the finishing touches to this organisation, His Majesty will most graciously deign to receive the delegation in the Manage, which will be specially prepared for this occasion. He will make a moving speech professing His fatherly concern for the workers and His anxiety that measures be taken to improve their condition.”

P.S. These lines were already set up in type when telegrams arrived confirming the predictions of the English correspondent. At his residence in Tsarskoye Selo the tsar received a delegation of thirty-four workers hand-picked by the police, and he delivered a speech reeking with official hypocrisy about the government’s paternal solicitude and about the forgiveness it held out to the offending workers. Of course, this ghastly farce will not deceive the Russian proletariat. The proletariat will never forget Bloody Sunday. It will yet speak to the tsar in a different strain.


[1] Nashi Dni (Our Days)—a liberal-bourgeois newspaper which appeared in St. Petersburg in 1904-05.


St. Petersburg After January 9

Vperyod, No. 5, February 7 (January 25), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 136-137.

On Monday, January 10, St. Petersburg looked like a city just conquered by an enemy. Cossack patrols kept riding through the streets. Here and there stood excited groups of workers. In the evening many of the streets were plunged in darkness. There was no electricity or gas. The aristocratic houses were guarded by groups of janitors. Blazing news stands threw a lurid light on knots of people.

In Nevsky Prospekt there were clashes between the people and the military. Shots were again fired at the crowd. Three volleys were fired outside the Anichkov Palace. The police shut the fire-arms shops and removed all weapons to the cellars, taking apparently all possible measures to prevent the workers from arming. The officials in the government offices were particularly alarmed; they feared fires and explosions and fled from St. Petersburg in a panic.

The barricades which the troops had captured on Sunday on Vasilyevsky Island were thrown up again on Monday and were recaptured by the soldiers.

There were no newspapers. The schools were closed. At numerous private meetings the workers discussed the events and measures of resistance. Crowds of sympathisers, especially students, besieged the hospitals.

The workers of Kolpino, twenty to thirty thousand strong, were said to have marched out to Tsarskoye. Selo on Tuesday morning with a petition. The garrison of Tsarskoye Selo sent out a regiment of infantry and a field battery to intercept them. A clash occurred within five versts of Kolpino; the troops fired and finally repulsed and scattered the workers at 4 p. m. There were many killed and wounded. The workers twice attacked the Tsarskoye Selo railway,   but were repulsed. The rails were pulled up for a distance of seven versts and no trains ran in the morning.

The government buried the victims of Bloody Vladimir Sunday at night, in secret. The relatives and friends of the slain were deliberately misled, so that no demonstrations would be held at the burials. Corpses were taken to the Preobrazhensky Cemetery by the car-load. In some places the crowd nevertheless attempted, despite all police precautions, to hold demonstrations in honour of the fallen fighters for liberty.

Feeling against the army among the population ran high. The foreign newspapers, on the basis of accounts by eyewitnesses, report that on Tuesday, January 11, the Cossacks stopped a horse tram full of workers in Bolshoi Prospekt. One of the workers had shouted at the Cossacks, “Butchers!” The Cossacks stopped the tram, made all the passengers get out and beat them with the flats of their swords. One of the men was wounded. The tenants of nearby houses opened their windows and shouted at the Cossacks, “Murderers! Bandits!” Thursday’s telegrams reported that during this incident a woman passenger was also driven out of the tram by the Cossacks. In her fright she dropped her child, which was trampled to death by the Cossacks’ horses (The Times). Such victories of our troops over the workers are truly Pyrrhic Victories.



The First Lessons

Written at the beginning of February 1905
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 138-142.

The first wave of the revolutionary storm is receding. We are on the eve of an inescapable, inevitable second wave. The proletarian movement is spreading wider and has now reached the remotest outlying regions of the country. Unrest and discontent have seized the most diverse sections of society, even the most backward. Commerce and industry are paralysed, schools are closed, and the Zemstvo employees, following the example of the workers, have gone on strike. In the lulls between the mass actions, individual terrorist acts are, as usual, becoming more frequent: the attempt on the life of the Odessa Chief of Police, the assassination in the Caucasus, the assassination of the Senate Procurator in Helsingfors. The government is veering from the policy of the bloody knout to a policy of promises. It tries to fool at least part of the workers with the tsar’s farcical reception of a delegation.[1] It tries to divert public attention with war news, and it orders Kuropatkin to start an offensive on the Hunho. On January 9 the massacre in St. Petersburg took place; the 12th saw the launching of the offensive, from the military point of view absolutely senseless, which ended in another serious defeat of the tsar’s generals. The Russians were repulsed with casualties, which even according to the Novoye Vremya correspondent amounted to 13,000 men, or about twice as many as the Japanese. There is the same corruption and demoralisation in the handling of military affairs in Manchuria that there is in St. Petersburg. In the foreign press, dispatches confirming and denying Kuropatkin’s quarrel with Grippenberg alternate   with dispatches confirming and denying the news that the Grand Ducal party is alive to the danger which the war is creating for the autocracy and wants peace as quickly as possible.

Small wonder that under such circumstances even the most sober bourgeois papers of Europe never stop talking of a revolution in Russia. The revolution is growing and maturing with a rapidity unknown, before January 9. Whether the next wave will surge up tomorrow, the day after, or months hence, depends on quite a number of unpredictable circumstances. All the more urgent, therefore, is the task of summing up the revolutionary events and drawing from them the lessons that may stand us in good stead much sooner than some are inclined to expect.

To evaluate correctly the revolutionary events we should have to make a general survey of the most recent history of our working-class movement. Nearly twenty years ago, in 1885, the first big workers’ strikes took place in the central manufacturing district, at the Morozov Mills and else where. At that time Katkov wrote that the labour question had emerged in Russia. With what astonishing speed the proletariat has developed, passing from economic struggles to political demonstrations, from demonstrations to the revolutionary onset! Let us recall the chief mile stones along the road traversed. 1885—widespread strikes, in which an insignificant number of socialists participated, acting entirely individually, not united in any organisations. Public sentiment over the strikes compelled Katkov, that faithful watchdog of the autocracy, to speak, in reference to the trial, about a “one-hundred-and-one gun salute in honour of the labour question which has emerged in Russia”. The government made economic concessions. 1891—participation of the St. Petersburg workers in the demonstration, at Shelgunov’s funeral[6]; political speeches at the St. Petersburg May Day rally. We had here a Social-Democratic demonstration of the advanced workers in the absence of a mass movement. 1896—the St. Petersburg strike involving scores of thousands of workers. A mass movement and the beginnings of street agitation, this time with the participation of an en tire Social-Democratic organisation. Small as this almost exclusively student organisation may have been in comparison   with our present-day party, its class-conscious, systematic, Social-Democratic intervention and leadership gave this movement tremendous scope and significance, as compared with the Morozov strike. Again the government made economic concessions. A firm basis was achieved for a strike movement throughout Russia. The revolutionary intelligentsia turned Social-Democrat en masse. The Social-Democratic Party was founded. 1901—the workers came to the aid of the students. A demonstration movement set in. The proletariat carried its rallying call, “Down with the Autocracy!”, into the streets. The radical intelligentsia definitely broke up into three parts—liberal, revolutionary-bourgeois, and Social-Democratic. The participation of revolutionary Social-Democratic organisations in the demonstrations became more and more widespread, active, and direct. 1902—the huge Rostov strike developed into an impressive demonstration. The political movement of the proletariat was no longer an adjunct of the movement of the intellectuals, of the students, but grew directly out of the strike. The participation of organised revolutionary Social-Democrats became still more active. The proletariat won for it self and for the revolutionary Social-Democrats of its committee the right to hold mass meetings in the streets. For the first time the proletariat stood as a class against all other classes and against the tsarist government. 1903—again strikes merged with political demonstrations, but now on a still broader basis. The strikes involved an entire district and more than a hundred thousand workers; in a number of cities political mass meetings were repeatedly held in the course of the strikes. There was a feeling of being on the eve of barricades (the opinion which the local Social-Democrats expressed on the movement in Kiev in 1903[7]). But the eve proved rather protracted, teaching us, as it were, that it takes powerful classes sometimes months and years to gather strength; putting, as it were, the sceptical intellectual adherents of Social-Democracy to the test. And sure enough, the intellectualist wing of our Party, the new-Iskrists or, what amounts to the same thing, the new-Rabocheye Dyelo-ists, have already begun to seek “higher types” of demonstrations, in the form of agreements between the workers and the Zemstvo people not to create panic fear.   With the lack of principle characteristic of all opportunists, the new-Iskrists have now talked themselves into the preposterous, incredibly preposterous, thesis that in the political arena there are two (!) forces: the bureaucracy and the bourgeoisie (see the Iskra editors’ second letter in connection with the Zemstvo campaign). The opportunists of the new Iskra, these believers in carpe diem, have forgotten that the proletariat constitutes an independent force! Came the year 1905, and January 9 once again showed up all such backsliding types of the intelligentsia brood. The proletarian movement at once rose to a higher plane. The general strike rallied at least a million workers all over Russia. The political demands of the Social-Democrats found their way even to the sections of the working class that still believed in the tsar. The proletariat broke down the framework of the police-sponsored Zubatov movement, and virtually the entire membership of the legal workers’ society founded for the purpose of combating the revolution took the path of revolution together with Gapon. Strikes and demonstrations began to develop into an uprising before our very eyes. The participation of organised revolutionary Social-Democracy was incomparably more in evidence than in the previous stages of the movement; yet it was still weak, weak in comparison with the overwhelming demand of the active proletarian masses for Social-Democratic leadership.

Altogether, the two movements, strikes and demonstrations, combining in various forms and on various occasions, grew in breadth and in depth, became more and more revolutionary, came ever more closer in practice to the general armed uprising of the people, of which revolutionary Social-Democracy had long spoken. We drew this conclusion from the events of January 9 in Nos. 4[2] and 5 of Vperyod. The St. Petersburg workers drew this conclusion for themselves, forthwith and directly. On January 10 they forced their way into a legal printing office, set up the following leaflet sent to us by the St. Petersburg comrades, printed it in over 10,000 copies, and distributed it throughout St. Petersburg. The text of this remarkable leaflet follows.[3]

This appeal needs no comment. The initiative of the revolutionary proletariat found full expression here. The call of the St. Petersburg workers was not answered as quickly as they wished; it will have to be repeated time and again; the attempts to carry it out will more than once result in failure. But the tremendous significance of the fact that the task has been set by the workers themselves is in disputable. The gain made by the revolutionary movement, which has brought about a realisation of the practical urgency of this task and made it an essential issue of every popular movement, is a gain that nothing can now take away from the proletariat.

It is worth dwelling on the history of the idea of insurrection. The new Iskra has given us so many nebulous platitudes on this question, beginning with the famous leader in issue No. 62, it has presented us with so many muddled opportunist ideas, entirely worthy of our old acquaintance Martynov, that the precise reproduction of the old formulation of the question is of particular importance. In any case,it is impossible to keep track of all the platitudes and muddled ideas of the new Iskra. It is much wiser to have the old Iskra more often in mind and enlarge more concretely upon its old constructive slogans.

At the end of Lenin’s pamphlet What Is To Be Done?, on p. 136,[4] the slogan of a general armed uprising of the people was advanced. The following was said on this subject at the very beginning of 1902, that is, three years ago: “Picture to yourselves a popular uprising. Probably everyone will now agree that we must think of this uprising and prepare for it....”[5]


[1] See pp. 134-35 of this volume—Ed.

[2] See pp. 98-100 of this volume—Ed.

[3] See p. 154 of this volume.—Ed.

[4] See present edition, Vol. 5, p. 515.—Ed.

[5] Here the manuscript breaks off—Ed.

[6] Sheigunov, N. V. (4824-91)—democratic writer and publicist; contributed to the periodical Sovremennik (The Contemporary). His progressive activity was well known to the advanced workers of St. Petersburg. His funeral on April 15 (27), 1891, turned into an anti-government demonstration.

[7] The reference is to the mass political strike which occurred in Kiev in July 1903. A lengthy report dealing with this strike was published in Iskra, No. 47, September 1, 1903, under the headline “The General Strike in Kiev”.




Two Tactics

Vperyod, No. 6, February 14 (1), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 148-157.

From the very beginning of the mass working-class movement in Russia, i.e., approximately for the past ten years, profound differences have existed among Social-Democrats on questions of tactics. As we know, it was differences of this kind that gave rise, in the late nineties, to the trend of Economism, which led to the split into an opportunist (Rabocheye Dyelo) wing and into a revolutionary (old-Iskra) wing of the Party. Russian Social-Democratic opportunism, however, differed from that of Western Europe in certain peculiar features. It strikingly reflected the point of view, or rather the absence of any independent point of view, of the intellectualist wing of the Party, which was carried away both by the current catchwords of Bernsteinism and by the forms and immediate results of the pure-and-simple labour movement. This infatuation led to wholesale treachery on the part of the legal Marxists, who went over to liberalism, and to the creation by Social-Democrats of the famous “tactics-as-process” theory, which firmly attached to our opportunists the label of “tail-enders”. They trailed helplessly behind events, plunged from one extreme to another, and in all cases reduced the scope of activity of the revolutionary proletariat and its faith in its own strength, all of which was usually done on the pretext of raising the independent activity of the proletariat. Strange, but true. No one talked so much about the independent activity of the workers, and no one did so much by his propaganda to narrow, curtail, and diminish that activity as did the Rabocheye Dyelo-ists.

“Talk less about ’raising the activity of the working masses’," the class-conscious, advanced workers said to their zealous but misguided advisers. “We are far more active than   you think, and we are quite able to support, by open street fighting, even demands that do not promise any ’tangible results’ whatever. It is not for you to ’raise’ our activity, because activity is precisely the thing you yourselves lack. Bow less in subservience to spontaneity, and think more about raising your own activity, gentlemen!” This is how the attitude of the revolutionary workers towards the opportunist intellectuals had to be characterised. (What Is To Be Done?, p. 55.[1] )

The two steps back which the new Iskra took towards Rabocheye Dyelo revived this attitude. Once again the columns of Iskra pour forth the preachings of tail-ism under cover of the same nauseating vows: Verily, 0 Lord, I do profess and believe in the independent activity of the proletariat. It was in the name of the independent activity of the proletariat that Axelrod, Martynov, Martov, and Lieber (the Bundist) defended at the Congress the right of professors and students to become members of the Party without joining any Party organisation. It was in the name of the in dependent activity of the proletariat that the “organisation as-process” theory was invented, a theory that justified disorganisation and glorified the anarchism of the intellectuals. It was in the name of the independent activity of the proletariat that the no less famous “higher-type-of-demonstration” theory was invented, in the form of an agreement between a workers’ delegation, which had been passed through the sieve of a three-stage system of elections, and the Zemstvo men for a peaceful demonstration that was to create no panic fear. It was in the name of the independent activity of the proletariat that the idea of the armed uprising was perverted and vulgarised, debased and confused.

In view of its vast practical importance, we should like to draw the reader’s attention to this question. The development of the working-class movement played a cruel joke on the wise men of the new Iskra. They circulated a letter in Russia, which, in the name of “the process of the systematic development of the class-consciousness and independent activity of the proletariat”, recommended, as a higher type of demonstration, “that the workers’ petitions be posted to   the homes of the municipal councillors and a considerable number of copies scattered in the Zemstvo Assembly Hall”; they sent a second letter to Russia, conveying the most sensational discovery that at the present “historical moment the political stage is fully occupied [!] by the conflict between the organised bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy” and that “every [mark well!] revolutionary movement of the lower strata has only one [!] objective meaning, to support the slogans of that one of the two [!!] forces which is interested in breaking down the present regime” (the democratic intelligentsia was declared to be “a force”); hardly had the first letter been circulated and the second letter reached Russia, hardly had the class-conscious workers had time to read these marvellous missives and to have a good laugh at them, when the events of the real struggle of the proletariat promptly swept all this political rubbish of the new-Iskra publicists on to the waste heap. The proletariat showed that there is a third force (actually, of course, not third, but, in sequence, second and in fighting ability first), which is not merely interested in breaking down the autocratic regime, but is ready to start on the actual job of breaking it down. Since the Ninth of January, the working-class movement has been developing before our very eyes into the popular uprising.

Let us see how this transition to the uprising was evaluated by the Social-Democrats, who had discussed it in advance as a question of tactics, and how the workers themselves began to settle this question in practice.

Three years ago the following was said on insurrection as a slogan that defines our immediate, practical tasks: “Picture to yourselves a popular uprising. Probably every one will now agree that we must think of this uprising and prepare for it. But how? Surely the Central Committee can not appoint agents to all localities for the purpose of preparing the uprising! Even if we had a Central Committee, it could achieve absolutely nothing by such appointments under present-day Russian conditions. But a network of agents that would form in the course of establishing and distributing the common newspaper would not have to ’sit about and wait’ for the call to insurrection, but could carry on such regular activity as would guarantee the highest probability of success in the event of an insurrection. Such activity   would strengthen our connections with the broadest masses of the workers and with all strata that are discontented with the autocracy, which is of such importance for an uprising. Precisely such activity would serve to cultivate the ability to estimate correctly the general political situation and, consequently, the ability to select the proper moment for the uprising. Precisely such activity would train all local organisations to respond simultaneously to the same political questions, incidents, and events that agitate the whole of Russia and to react to these ’incidents’ in the most vigorous, uniform, and expedient manner possible; for the up rising is in essence the most vigorous, most uniform, and most expedient ’answer’ of the entire people to the government. And lastly, it is precisely such activity that would train all revolutionary organisations throughout Russia to maintain the most continuous, and at the same time the most secret, contacts with one another, thus creating real Party unity; for without such contacts it will be impossible collectively to discuss the plan for the uprising and to take the necessary preparatory measures on the eve, measures that must be kept in the strictest secrecy.

“In a word, the ’plan for an all-Russian political news paper’, far from representing the fruits of the labour of arm chair workers, infected with dogmatism and bookishness (as it seemed to those who gave but little thought to it), is the most practical plan for immediate and all-round preparation of the uprising, with, at the same time, no loss of sight for a moment of the pressing day-to-day work.” (What Is To Be Done?[2] )

The concluding words, which we have underlined, give a clear answer to the question how the revolutionary Social-Democrats envisaged the work of preparing the uprising. But clear as this answer is, the old tail-ist tactics could not fail to assert themselves on this point also. Quite recently Martynov published a pamphlet entitled Two Dictatorships, which has been strongly recommended by the new Iskra (No. 84). The author is stirred to the depths of his Rabocheye Dyelo soul with indignation at the fact that Lenin could bring himself to speak of “preparing, timing, and   carrying out the general armed uprising of the people”. The stern Martynov smites the enemy with the statement: “On the basis of historical experience and a scientific analysis of the dynamics of social forces, international Social Democracy has always recognised that only palace revolutions and pronunciamentos can be timed in advance and carried out successfully according to a previously prepared plan, for the very reason that they are not popular revolutions, i.e., revolutions in social relations, but only reshufflings among the ruling cliques. Social-Democracy has always and everywhere recognised that a people’s revolution cannot be timed in advance, that it is riot prepared artificially, but that it comes about of itself.”

Perhaps, having read this tirade, the reader will say that obviously Martynov is “anything but” a serious opponent and that it would be absurd to take him seriously. We would quite agree with the reader. We would even say to such a reader that no greater evil on earth could befall us than to have to take all the theories and all the arguments of our new Iskra people seriously. The only trouble is that this nonsense appears also in the editorials of Iskra (No. 62). Worse still, there are people in the Party, by no means few, who stuff their heads with this nonsense. And so we have to discuss non-serious matters, just as we have to discuss the “theory” of Rosa Luxemburg, who discovered the “organisation-as process”. We are obliged to explain to Martynov that up rising must not be confused with people’s revolution. We have to keep explaining that profound allusions to a revolution in social relations when what is at issue is the practical question of the ways of overthrowing Russian autocracy are worthy only of a Kifa Mokiyevich.[6] This revolution began in Russia with the abolition of serfdom, and it is the backwardness of our political superstructure as compared with the accomplished revolution in social relations that makes the collapse of the superstructure inevitable; an immediate collapse as the result of a single blow is quite possible, since “the people’s revolution” in Russia has already dealt tsarism a hundred blows, and whether the hundred and first or the hundred and tenth will finish it off is really a matter of conjecture. Only opportunist intellectuals, who try to impute their own philistine ways to the proletarians, can   flaunt their high school knowledge of a “revolution in social relations” at a time when practical ways are being discussed for delivering one of the blows in the second hundred. Only the opportunists of the new Iskra can raise hysterical clamours about a sinister “Jacobin” plan, the keynote of which, as we have seen, is all-round mass agitation by means of a political newspaper.

A people’s revolution, true, cannot be timed. We cannot but praise Martynov and the writer of the leader in Iskra, No. 62, for knowing this truth (“what thought of preparing the uprising can there possibly be in our Party?” asked Martynov’s loyal associate, or disciple, in that article, warring on the “utopians”). But if we have really prepared an uprising, and if a popular uprising is realisable by virtue of the revolutions in social relations that have already taken place, then it is quite possible to time the uprising. We shall attempt to clarify the point for the new-Iskra followers by a simple example. Can the working-class movement be timed? No, it cannot; for that movement is made up of thousands of separate acts arising from a revolution in social relations. Can a strike be timed? It can, despite the fact—just imagine, Comrade Martynov—despite the fact that every strike is the result of a revolution in social relations. When can a strike be timed? When the organisation or group calling it has influence among the masses of the workers involved and is able correctly to gauge the moment when discontent and resentment among them are mounting. Do you see the point now, Comrade Martynov and Comrade “leader-ist” of Iskra, No. 62? If you do, then please take the trouble to compare an uprising with a people’s revolution. “A people’s revolution cannot be timed in advance.” An uprising can be, if those preparing it have influence among the masses and can correctly estimate the situation.

Fortunately, the initiative of the advanced workers happens to be far ahead of the tail-ist philosophy of the new Iskra. While the latter is squeezing itself dry for theories to prove that an uprising cannot be timed by those who have prepared for it and have organised the vanguard of the revolutionary class, events show that those who have not prepared may time, indeed, are sometimes compelled to timer an uprising.

Here is a leaflet sent to us by a St. Petersburg comrade. It was set up, printed, and distributed in more than 10,000 copies by the workers themselves, who had seized a legal printing-press in St. Petersburg on January 10.

“Workers of All Countries, Unite!

“Citizens! Yesterday you witnessed the brutality of the autocratic government. You saw blood flowing in the streets. You saw hundreds of fighters for the working-class cause lying dead; you saw death, you heard the groans of wounded women and defenceless children. The blood and brains of workers bespattered the roadways that workers’ hands had laid. Who directed the troops, the rifles, and the bullets against the workers’ breasts?

“The tsar, the grand dukes, the Ministers, the generals, and the scoundrels at Court.

“They are the murderers! Death to them! To arms, comrades, seize the arsenals, the munitions depots, and armourers’ shops. Break down the prison walls, comrades, and release the fighters for freedom. Smash up the gendarme and police stations and all government institutions. Let us overthrow the tsarist government and establish our own. Long live the revolution! Long live the Constituent Assembly of People’s Representatives!

“Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.”

The call to insurrection issued by this handful of advanced enterprising workers did not meet with success. Several unsuccessful calls to insurrection, or several unsuccessful “timings” of insurrection would not surprise or discourage us. We leave it to the new Iskra to hold forth in this connection on the necessity of a “revolution in social relations” and grandiloquently to condemn the “utopianism” of the workers who exclaimed, “Let us establish our own government!” Only hopeless pedants or muddle-heads would regard this watchword as the central point of such an appeal. What is important for us to note and emphasise is the remark ably bold and practical manner in which the problem now squarely confronting us was posed.

The call of the St. Petersburg workers was not answered and could not have been answered’ as quickly as they wished. This call will be repeated time and again, and the attempts at an uprising may result in more failures. But the very fact   that the workers themselves have raised this issue is of tremendous significance. The gain which the working-class movement has made in bringing home the practical urgency of this problem and in moving it closer to the forefront of any popular unrest is a gain that nothing can take away from the proletariat.

As much as three years ago the Social-Democrats had on general grounds advanced the slogan of preparing the uprising. The independent activity of the proletariat arrived at the same slogan as a result of the direct lessons taught by the civil war. There are two kinds of independent activity. There is the independent activity of a proletariat possessed of revolutionary initiative, and there is the independent activity of a proletariat that is undeveloped and is held in Leading-strings; there is a consciously Social-Democratic independent activity, and there is a Zubatovist independent activity. And there are Social-Democrats who to this day contemplate with reverence the second kind of independent activity, who believe that they can evade a direct reply to the pressing questions of the day by repeating the word “class” over and over again. We need but take No. 84 of Iskra. “Why,” asks its “leader-ist”, bearing down on us with a triumphant air, “why was it not the narrow organisation of professional revolutionaries, but the Workers’ Assembly that set this avalanche in motion [January 9]? Because this Assembly was a really [mark this!] broad organisation. based on the independent activity of the working-class masses.” If the author of this classical phrase were not an admirer of Martynov, he might have understood that the Assembly rendered a service to the movement of the revolutionary proletariat only when and to the extent that it passed from Zubatovist independent activity to Social-Democratic in dependent activity (after which it immediately ceased to exist as a legally functioning organisation).

Had the new-Iskrists, or the new-Rabocheye Dyelo-ists not been tail-enders, they would have realised that it was the Ninth of January that justified those who had said that “...in the long run the legalisation of the working-class movement will be to our advantage, and not to that of the Zubatovs” (What Is To Be Done?[3] ). It was the Ninth of January   that proved again and again the importance of the task formulated in that pamphlet: “...we must prepare reapers, both to cut down the tares of today [paralyse today’s corrupting influence of the Zubatov movement] and to reap the wheat of tomorrow” (give a revolutionary lead to the movement that has advanced a step with the aid of legalisation). The Simple Simons of the new Iskra, however, use the bountiful wheat harvest as a pretext for minimising the importance of a strong organisation of revolutionary reapers.

It would be criminal, the new-Iskra leader-writer continues, “to attack the revolution in the rear”. What this sentence means, God only knows. As to its bearing on the general opportunist complexion of Iskra, we shall probably deal with the point on another occasion. Here it will suffice to indicate that this sentence can have but one true political meaning, namely, that the author grovels in the dust before the rear of the revolution and disdainfully turns up his nose at the “narrow” and “Jacobin” van of the revolution.

The more the new Iskra displays its Martynovist zeal, the clearer becomes the contrast between the tactics of tailism and the tactics of revolutionary Social-Democracy. We pointed out in the first issue of Vperyod[4] that an up rising must connect itself with one of the spontaneous movements. Consequently, we do not in the least forget the importance of “guarding the rear”, to employ a military term. In Vperyod, No. 4,[5] we referred to the correct tactics of the St. Petersburg Committee members, who from the outset directed all their efforts towards supporting and developing the revolutionary elements in the spontaneous movement, while at the same time maintaining an attitude of reserve and distrust towards the shady, Zubatov rear of that movement. We shall conclude now with a piece of advice, which no doubt we shall have to repeat more than once to the new-Iskrists: Do not minimise the tasks of the revolution’s vanguard, do not forget our obligation to support this van guard by our organised independent activity. Use fewer   platitudes about the development of the independent activity of the workers—the workers display no end of independent revolutionary activity which you do not notice!—but see to it rather that you do not demoralise undeveloped workers by your own tail-ism.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 5, p. 417.—Ed.

[2] See present edition, Vol. 5, p. 516.—Ed.

[3] See present edition, Vol. 5, p. 455.—Ed.

[4] See p. 28 of this volume.—Ed.

[5] See p. 106 of this volume.—Ed.

[6] Kifa Mokiyevich—a character in Gogol’s Dead Souls depicted as a type of person who is absorbed in the solution of idle and sense less problems.



A Militant Agreement for the Uprising

Published: Vperyod, No. 7, February 21 (8), 19O5.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 158-166.

Revolutsionnaya Rossiya, No. 58, says: “May the spirit of fighting unity now at long last pervade the ranks of the revolutionary socialist groups, which are torn by fratricidal animosity, and may it revive the consciousness of socialist solidarity which has been so criminally sapped.... Let us spare the revolutionary forces as much as we can and increase their effectiveness by means of a concerted attack!”

We have often had occasion to protest against the tyranny of the phrase among the Socialists-Revolutionaries, and we must do so again. Why these frightful words, gentle men, about “fratricidal animosity” and so forth? Are they worthy of a revolutionary? Now of all times, when the real fight is on, when blood is flowing—the blood of which Revolutsionnaya Rossiya speaks in such flamboyant terms, these grotesque exaggerations about “fratricidal animosity” ring falser than ever. Spare the forces, say you? But surely this is done by a united, welded organisation which is at one on questions of principle, and not by lumping together heterogeneous elements. Strength is not spared but wasted by such barren attempts at lumping. To achieve a “fighting unity” in deed and not merely in word, we must know clearly, definitely, and from experience exactly wherein and to what extent we can be united. Without this, all talk of fighting unity will be mere words, words, words; this knowledge, incidentally, comes from the very controversy, struggle, and animosity of which you speak in such “frightful” terms. Would it really be better if we hushed up the differences that divide vast sections of Russian public opinion and Russian socialist thought? Was it only the “cult of discord” that provoked the bitter struggle between Narodism,   that nebulous ideology of the democratic bourgeoisie woven of socialistic dreams, and Marxism, the ideology of the proletariat? Nonsense, gentlemen; you only make your selves ridiculous by saying such things, by continuing to regard as an “insult” the Marxist view that Narodism and your “social-revolutionism” are essentially bourgeois-democratic. We shall inevitably argue, differ, and quarrel also in the future revolutionary committees in Russia, but surely we must learn from history. We must not have unexpected, unintelligible, and muddled disputes at a time when action is called for; we must be prepared to argue on fundamental issues, to know the points of departure of each trend, to anticipate possible unity or possible antagonism. The history of revolutionary epochs provides many, all too many, instances of tremendous harm caused by hasty and half-baked experiments in “fighting unity” that sought to lump together the most heterogeneous elements in the committees of the revolutionary people, but managed thereby to achieve mutual friction and bitter disappointment.

We want to profit by this lesson of history. Marxism, which to you seems a narrow dogma, is to us the quintessence of this historical lesson and guidance. We see in the independent, uncompromisingly Marxist party of the revolutionary proletariat the sole pledge of socialism’s victory and the road to victory that is most free from vacillations. We shall never, therefore, not even at the most revolutionary moments, forego the complete independence of the Social-Democratic Party or the complete intransigence of our ideology.

You believe this rules out fighting unity? You are mistaken. You can see from the resolution of our Second Congress that we do not renounce agreements for the struggle and in the struggle. In Vperyod, No. 4, we stressed the fact that the beginning of the revolution in Russia undoubtedly brings closer the moment when such agreements can be practically implemented.[1] A joint struggle of the revolutionary Social-Democrats and the revolutionary elements of the democratic movement is inevitable and indispensable in the era of the fall of the autocracy. We think that we should serve   the cause of future militant agreements better if, instead of indulging in bitter recriminations, we sanely and coolly weighed the conditions under which they would become possible and the likely limits of their “jurisdiction”, if one may use the term. We began this work in Vperyod, No. 3, in which we undertook a study of the progress of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party from Narodism to Marxism.[2]

“The masses took to arms themselves,” Revolutsionnaya Rossiya wrote in connection with the Ninth of January. “Sooner or later, without doubt, the question of arming the masses will be decided.” “That is when the fusion between terrorism and the mass movement, to which we are striving by word and deed in accordance with the entire spirit of our Party tactics, will be manifested and realised in the most striking manner.” (We would remark parenthetically that we would gladly put a question mark after the word “deed”; but let us proceed with the quotation.) “Not so long ago, before our own eyes, these two factors of the movement were separate, and this separateness deprived them of their full force.”

What is true is true! Exactly! Intelligentsia terrorism and the mass movement of the working class were separate, and this separateness deprived them of their full force. That is precisely what the revolutionary Social-Democrats have been saying all along. For this very reason they have always been opposed to terrorism and to all the vacillations towards terrorism which members of the intellectualist wing of our Party have often displayed.[3] For this reason precisely the old Iskra took a position against terrorism when it wrote in issue No. 48: “The terrorist struggle of the old type was the riskiest form of revolutionary struggle, and those who en gaged in it had the reputation of being resolute, self-sacrificing people.... Now, however, when demonstrations develop into acts of open resistance to the government, ... the old terrorism ceases to be an exceptionally daring method of struggle.... Heroism has now come out into the open; the   true heroes of our time are now the revolutionaries who lead the popular masses, which are rising against their oppressors.... The terrorism of the great French Revolution ... began on July 14, 1789, with the storming of the Bastille. Its strength was the strength of the revolutionary movement of the people.... That terrorism was due, not to disappointment in the strength of the mass movement, but, on the contrary, to ’unshakable faith in its strength.... The history of that terrorism is exceedingly instructive for the Russian revolutionary.”[4]

Yes, a thousand times yes! The history of that terrorism is instructive in the extreme. Instructive, too, are the quoted passages from Iskra, which refer to an epoch of eighteen months ago. These quotations show us, in their full stature, the ideas which even the Socialists-Revolutionaries, under the influence of the revolutionary lessons, would like to arrive at. They remind us of the importance of faith in the mass movement; they remind us of revolutionary tenacity, which comes only from high principles and which alone can safeguard us against the “disappointments” induced by a prolonged apparent standstill of the movement. Now, after the Ninth of January, there can be no question, on the face of it, of any “disappointments” in the mass movement. But only on the face of it. We should distinguish between the momentary “attraction” evoked by a striking display of mass heroism and the steadfast, reasoned convictions that link inseparably the entire activity of the Party with the movement of the masses, owing to the paramount importance which is attached to the principle of the class struggle. We should bear in mind that the revolutionary movement, however high its level since the Ninth of January, still has many stages to pass through before our socialist and democratic parties will be reconstructed on a new basis in a free Russia. And through all these stages, through all the vicissitudes of the struggle, we must maintain the ties between Social-Democracy and the class struggle of the proletariat   unbroken, and we must see to it that they are continuously strengthened and made more secure.

It seems to us, therefore, a gross exaggeration for Revolutsionnaya Rossiya to assert that “the pioneers of the armed struggle were swallowed up in the ranks of the roused masses....” This is the desirable future rather than the reality of the moment. The assassination of Sergei in Moscow on February 17 (4),[5] which has been reported by telegraph this very day, is obviously an act of terrorism of the old type. The pioneers of the armed struggle have not yet been swallowed up in the ranks of the roused masses. Pioneers with bombs evidently lay in wait for Sergei in Moscow while the masses (in St. Petersburg), without pioneers, without arms, without revolutionary officers, and without a revolutionary staff “flung themselves in implacable fury upon bristling bayonets”, as this same Revolutsionnaya Rossiya expresses it. The separateness of which we spoke above still exists, and the individual intellectualist terror shows all the more strikingly its inadequacy in face of the growing realisation that “the masses have risen to the stature of individual heroes, that mass heroism has been awakened in them” (Revolutsionnaya Rossiya, No. 58). The pioneers should submerge among the masses in actual fact, that is, exert their selfless energies in real inseparable connection with the insurgent masses, and proceed with them in the literal, not figurative, symbolical, sense of the word. That this is essential can hardly be open to doubt now. That it is possible has been proved by the Ninth of January and by the deep unrest which is still smouldering among the working-class masses. The fact that this is a new, higher, and more difficult task in comparison with the preceding ones cannot and should not stop us from meeting it at once in a practical way.

Fighting unity between the Social-Democratic Party and the revolutionary-democratic party—the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, might be one way of facilitating the solution of this problem. Such unity will be all the more practicable, the sooner the pioneers of the armed struggle are “swallowed up” in the ranks of the insurgent masses, the more firmly the Socialists-Revolutionaries follow the path which they themselves have charted in the words, “May   these beginnings of fusion between revolutionary terrorism and the mass movement grow and strengthen, may the masses act as quickly as possible, armed cap-à-pie with terrorist methods of struggle!” With a view to bringing about speedily such a fighting unity, we take pleasure in publishing the following letter which we have received from Georgi Gapon:

“An Open Letter to the Socialist Parties of Russia.

“The bloody January days in St. Petersburg and the rest of Russia have brought the oppressed working class face to face with the autocratic regime, headed by the blood-thirsty tsar. The great Russian revolution has begun. All to whom the people’s freedom is really dear must either win or die. Realising the importance of the present historic moment, considering the present state of affairs, and being above all a revolutionary and a man of action, I call upon all the socialist parties of Russia to enter immediately into an agreement among themselves and to proceed to the armed uprising against tsarism. All the forces of every party should be mobilised. All should have a single technical plan of action. Bombs and dynamite, individual and mass terror—every thing that can help the popular uprising. The immediate aim is the over throw of the autocracy, a provisional revolutionary government which will at once amnesty all fighters for political and religious liberties, at once arm the people, and at once convoke a Constituent Assembly on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage by secret ballot. To the task, comrades! Onward to the fight! Let us repeat the slogan of the St. Petersburg workers on the Ninth of January—Freedom or Death! Delay and disorder now are a crime against the people, whose interests you are defending. Having given all of myself to the service of the people, from whom I myself am sprung (the son of a peasant), and having thrown in my lot irrevocably with the struggle against the oppressors and exploiters of the working class, I shall naturally be heart and soul with those who will undertake the real business of actually liberating the proletariat and all the toiling masses from the capitalist yoke and political slavery.

“Georgi Gapon.”

On our part, we consider it necessary to state our view of this letter as clearly and as definitely as possible. We consider that the “agreement” it proposes is possible, useful, And essential. We welcome the fact that Gapon speaks explicitly of an “agreement”, since only through the preservation of complete independence by each separate party on points of principle and organisation can the efforts at a fighting unity of these parties rest on hope. We must be very careful, in making these endeavours, not to spoil things by vainly trying to lump together heterogeneous elements.   We shall inevitably have to getrennt marschieren (march separately), but we can vereint schlagen (strike together) more than once and particularly now. It would be desirable, from our point of view, to have this agreement embrace the revolutionary as well as the socialist parties, for there is nothing socialistic in the immediate aim of the struggle, and we must not confound or allow anyone ever to confound the immediate democratic aims with our ultimate aims of socialist revolution. It would be desirable, and from our point of view essential, for the agreement that, instead of a general call for “individual and mass terror”, it should be stated openly and definitely that this joint action pursues the aim of a direct and actual fusion between terrorism and the uprising of the masses. True, by adding the words “everything that can help the popular uprising”, Gapon clearly indicates his desire to make even individual terror subservient to this aim; but this desire, which suggests the idea that we noted in Revolutsionnaya Rossiya, No. 58, should be expressed more definitely and embodied in absolutely unequivocal practical decisions. We should like, finally, to point out, regardless of the realisability of the proposed agreement, that Gapon’s extra-party stand seems to us to be another negative factor. Obviously, with so rapid a conversion from faith in the tsar and petitioning of the tsar to revolutionary aims, Gapon was not able to evolve for himself immediately a clear revolutionary outlook. This is inevitable, and the faster and broader the revolution develops, the more often will this kind of thing occur. Nevertheless, complete clarity and definiteness in the relations between parties, trends, and shades are absolutely necessary if a temporary agreement among them is to be in any way successful. Clarity and definiteness will be needed at every practical step; they will be the pre-condition for definiteness and the absence of vacillation in the real, practical work. The beginning of the revolution in Russia will probably lead to the emergence upon the political arena of many people and perhaps trends representing the view that the slogan “revolution” is, for “men of action”, a quite adequate definition of their aims and their methods of operation. Nothing could be more fallacious than this opinion. The extra-party position, which seems higher, or more convenient,   or more “diplomatic”, is in actual fact more vague, more obscure, and inevitably fraught with inconsistencies and vacillations in practical activity. In the interests of the revolution our ideal should by no means be that all parties, all trends and shades of opinion fuse in a revolutionary chaos. On the contrary, the growth and spread of the revolutionary movement, its constantly deeper penetration among the various classes and strata of the people, will inevitably give rise (all to the good) to constantly newer trends and shades. Only full clarity and definiteness in their mutual relations and in their attitude towards the position of the revolutionary proletariat can guarantee maximum success for the revolutionary movement. Only full clarity in mutual relations can guarantee the success of an agreement to achieve a common immediate aim.

This immediate aim is outlined quite correctly, in our opinion, in Gapon’s letter, namely: (1) the overthrow of the autocracy; (2) a provisional revolutionary government; (3) the immediate amnesty to all fighters for political and religious liberties, including, of course, the right to strike, etc.; (4) the immediate arming of the people; and (5) the immediate convocation of an All-Russian Constituent Assembly on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage by secret ballot. The immediate translation into life by the revolutionary government of complete equality for all citizens and complete political freedom during elections is, of course, taken for granted by Gapon; but this might have been stated explicitly. It would be advisable also to include in the general policy of the provisional government the establishment everywhere of revolutionary peasant committees for the purpose of supporting the democratic revolution and putting into effect its various measures. The success of the revolution depends largely on the revolutionary activity of the peasantry itself, and the various socialist and revolutionary-democratic parties would probably agree on a slogan such as we have suggested.

It is to be hoped that Gapon, whose evolution from views shared by a politically unconscious people to revolutionary views proceeds from such profound personal experiences, will achieve the clear revolutionary outlook that is essential for a man of politics. It is to be hoped that   his appeal for a militant agreement for the uprising will meet with success, and that the revolutionary proletariat, side by side with the revolutionary democrats, will strike at the autocracy and overthrow it all the more quickly and surely, and with the least sacrifices.


[1] See pp. 99-100 of this volume—Ed.

[2] See pp. 83-89 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] Krichevsky in Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10. Martov and Zasulich concerning the shot fired by Lekert. The new-Iskrists generally in a leaflet in connection with the assassination of Plehve.[6]—Lenin

[4] This article in Iskra, written by Plekhanov, dates back to the time when Iskra (Nos. 46-51) was edited by Plekhanov and Lenin. Plekhanov had at that time not begun to contemplate the new line of notorious compliance to opportunism.—Lenin

[6] On May 5 (18), 1902, the worker Hirsh Lekert made an attempt on the life of the Governor of Wilno, von Wal. Martov and Zasulich hailed this act of individual terror.

The leaflet on the assassination of Plehve mentioned by Lenin refers to leaflet No. 16 “To the Working People”, signed by the Editorial Board of the Menshevik Iskra, which openly defended the Socialist-Revolutionary tactics of individual terror.

[5] The reference is to the assassination of Grand Duke Sergei, Governor-General of Moscow, by the Socialist-Revolutionary terrorists.



Should We Organise the Revolution?

Published: Vperyod, No. 7, February 25 (8), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 167-176.

It happened a long, long time ago, more than a year ago. According to the testimony of the not unknown German Social-Democrat, Parvus, “fundamental differences” had arisen in the Russian Party. It had become the primary political task of the party of the proletariat to combat the extremes of centralism, the idea of “giving orders” to the workers from some obscure Geneva and the over-estimation of the idea of an organisation of agitators, of an organisation of leaders. Such was the deep, firm, and unshakable conviction of the Menshevik Parvus, expressed in his weekly German news-sheet Aus der Weltpolitik for November 30, 1903.

It was pointed out at the time to the estimable Parvus (see Lenin’s letter to the editors of Iskra, December 1903[1] ) that he was the victim of a piece of scandal-mongering, that what he took for fundamental differences were at bottom mere squabbles, and that the shift in the new Iskra’s ideas, which was becoming noticeable, was a shift towards opportunism. Parvus fell silent, but his “ideas” on over-estimating the importance of an organisation of leaders were taken up and worked to death by the new-Iskrists.

Fourteen months went by. The disruptive work of the Mensheviks within the Party and the opportunist nature of their propaganda became perfectly clear. January 9, 1905, fully revealed the vast reserve of revolutionary energy possessed by the proletariat, as well as the utter inadequacy of Social-Democratic organisation. Parvus came to his senses. He wrote an article in Iskra, No. 85, which, in fact, was a volte-face from the new ideas of the opportunist   new Iskra to the ideas of the revolutionary old Iskra. “There was a hero,” Parvus exclaims, referring to Gapon, “but no political leader, no programme of action, no organisation.... The lack of organisation produced tragic results.... The masses are disunited, everything is without plan, there is no coalescing centre, no guiding programme of action..... The movement has declined for lack of a coalescing and guiding organisation.” And Parvus proposes the slogan which we suggested in issue No. 6 of Vperyod—“Organise the Revolution!”[2] The lessons of the revolution have convinced Parvus that “under present political conditions we cannot organise the hundreds of thousands” (the reference is to the masses ready for revolt). “But,” he says, repeating with good reason an idea expressed long ago in What Is To Be Done?, “we can create an organisation that would serve as a combining ferment, and, at the moment of revolution, rally the hundreds of thousands to its side. We must organise workers’ circles which shall have a clearly defined task, namely, to prepare the masses for the uprising, to rally them to our side at the time of the uprising, and to launch the uprising when the slogan is issued.”

At last! we exclaimed with relief, when we came across these old truths buried amid the rubbish of the new Iskra. At last the revolutionary instinct of a functionary of the proletarian party has prevailed, if only temporarily, over Rabocheye Dyelo opportunism. At last we hear the voice of a Social-Democrat who does not cringe before the revolution’s rearguard but fearlessly points to the need for supporting the van of the revolution.

The new-Iskrists, of course, could not agree with Parvus. “We do not share all the views expressed by Comrade Parvus,” says the editors’ note.

We should say not! Catch them “sharing” views which hit out at all the opportunist nonsense they have been spewing for the last eighteen months!

“Organise the Revolution!” But have we not our wise Comrade Martynov, who knows that a revolution is caused by a complete change in social relations, that a revolution cannot be timed? Martynov will point out to Parvus   his mistake and prove that even if the latter had in mind the organisation of the vanguard of the revolution, it is nevertheless a “narrow” and noxious “Jacobin” idea. Besides, our wise Martynov has a Tryapichkin[4] on a string in the shape of Martov, who is capable of rendering his teacher more profound and who can well substitute the slogan “Unleash the Revolution!” for the slogan “Organise the Revolution!” (see No. 85; the author’s italics).

Yes, dear reader, this is the slogan we are given in Iskra’s leading article. These days, apparently, it is enough to “unleash” one’s tongue for a free chatter-process, or for the process of chatter, in order to be able to write leading articles. The opportunist invariably requires slogans that, on closer scrutiny, are found to be nothing but high-sounding phases, nothing but decadent word-jugglery.

“Organise, and again organise!” Parvus urges, for all the world as if he had turned Bolshevik. He does not understand, poor fellow, that organisation is a process (Iskra, No. 85, as well as all the previous numbers of the new Iskra, particularly the magnificent feuilletons of the magnificent Rosa). He does not know, poor devil, that according to the whole spirit of dialectical materialism, tactics are as much a process as organisation is. Like a “conspirator” he runs about with his organisation-as-plan. Like a “utopian”, he imagines that one can simply up and organise the thing offhand at some, God forbid, Second or Third Congress.

The “Jacobin” Pillars of Hercules this Parvus talks him self up to! “To launch the uprising when the slogan is is sued”—imagine that! It is even worse than the idea of “timing” the uprising, which has been exploded by our redoubtable Martynov. Really, Parvus ought to take a lesson or two from Martynov. He should read Iskra, No. .62; the leading article will tell him of the harmful “utopian” ideas about preparing the insurrection, which were spread so prematurely in our Party in 1902 and 1904. He should read Axelrod’s foreword to “A Worker’s” pamphlet to learn what “a deep-seated, harmful canker [sic!], downright destructive to the Party”, Social-Democracy is threatened with on the part of people who “pin all their hopes on spontaneous revolts of the most backward, least class-conscious, and positively uncivilised [!] elements of the masses”.

Parvus admits that it is impossible at present to organise the hundreds of thousands, and he considers it our primary task “to create an organisation that would serve as a combining ferment”. How can the new-Iskrists help squirming when such things appear in the columns of their paper? Obviously, an organisation that will serve as a combining ferment is simply an organisation of professional revolutionaries, at the mere mention of which our new Iskrists go off into a swoon.

We are grateful indeed to Iskra for its leading article, which it has printed alongside Parvus’s. How marked is the contrast between this empty, muddled phrase-mongering of the tail-ender and the clear, distinct, forthright, and bold revolutionary slogans of the old Iskra. Is it not sheer bombast to say that “the policy of confidence is quitting the stage never again to fool Russia or Europe”? As a matter of fact, any issue of a European bourgeois newspaper shows that this fooling is still being carried on with success. “Moderate Russian liberalism has been dealt its death-blow.” It is childish political naivete to believe liberalism dead when it is merely trying to be “politic” and to lie low. Liberalism is very much alive, it has taken on a new lease of life. Indeed, it is now on the threshold of power. The reason it is lying low is that it wants to make its bid for power at the right moment with the greatest certainty of success and the least risk. For this reason it is so assiduously making up to the working class. One must be hopelessly short sighted to take this flirtation (a hundred times more dangerous for being practised at the moment) seriously and to declare boastfully that “the proletariat—the liberator of the country, the proletariat—the vanguard of the whole nation, has now had its heroic role recognised by the public opinion of the progressive elements of the liberal-democratic bourgeoisie.” Gentlemen of the new Iskra, when will you under stand that the liberal bourgeoisie acknowledges the proletariat as hero for the very reason that this proletariat, though dealing a blow at tsarism, is not yet strong enough, not yet Social-Democratic enough, to win for itself the kind of freedom it wants. When will you understand that what we must do is not to boast about the present bowing and scraping of the liberals, but to warn the proletariat   against it and show up what lies behind it. You do not see that? Then look at what the industrialists, merchants, and stockbrokers are saying about the necessity of a constitution. How plainly these declarations speak of the death of moderate liberalism! The liberal windbags prate about the heroism of the proletarians, while the industrialists weightily and imperiously demand a skimpy constitution— that is how matters stand, dear “leaders”![3]

But nothing can compare with Iskra’s arguments on the question of arming. “The work of arming the proletariat and systematically building up the organisation which shall guarantee that the people’s attack upon the government shall take place simultaneously everywhere” is declared to be a “technical” (?!) job. And we, of course, are above such trivialities as technique, we go to the root of things. “Important though they are (the ’technical’ jobs), it is not upon them that our efforts should be concentrated in preparing the masses for revolt.... All the efforts of the underground organisations will count for nothing if they fail to arm the people with the one indispensable weapon—a sense of the burning necessity to attack the autocracy and to arm for the purpose. It is on propaganda among the masses to arm themselves for the purpose of revolt that we should concentrate our efforts.” (The italics in the last two passages are the author’s.)

This is indeed a profound way of stating the issue, nothing like the narrow-minded Parvus, who almost reached the point of “Jacobinism”. The crux of the matter is not in the work of arming or in the systematic building up of the organisation, but in arming the people with a sense of the burning necessity to arm. What a painful feeling of   shame for Social-Democracy comes upon one at the sight of these philistine platitudes, which seek to drag our movement back! To arm the people with a sense of the burning necessity to arm is the constant, common duty of the Social-Democrats always and everywhere, and it can be applied equally to Japan as it can to England, to Germany as it can to Italy. Wherever there are oppressed classes struggling against exploitation, the doctrine of the socialists, from the very start, and in the first place, arms them with a sense of the burning necessity to arm, and this “necessity” is present when the labour movement begins. Social-Democracy has only to make this burning necessity a conscious one, to bring home to those who are conscious of it the need for organisation and planned action, the need for considering the whole political situation. Dear Editor of Iskra! Please drop in at any meeting of German workers and see the hatred towards, let us say, the police, that burns in the faces there; what bitter sarcasms and clenched fists you will hear and see there! What is the force that holds in check this burning necessity to mete out summary justice to the bourgeoisie and its servitors who ill-use the people? It is the force of organisation and discipline, the force of consciousness, the consciousness that individual acts of assassination are absurd, that the hour for the serious revolutionary struggle of the people has not yet struck, that the political situation is not ripe for it. That is why, under such circumstances, no socialist will ever bid the people arm, but he will always make it his duty (otherwise he is no socialist, but a mere windbag) to arm them with a sense of the burning necessity to arm and attack the enemy. However, the conditions in Russia today differ from these everyday conditions of work; therefore, the revolutionary Social-Democrats, who until now have never issued a call to arms but have always equipped the workers with a sense of the burning necessity to arm—therefore, the revolutionary Social-Democrats, following the initiative of the revolutionary workers, have now issued the slogan, To arms! At such a time, when this slogan has at last been issued, Iskra delivers itself of the statement that the main thing is not arming, but the burning necessity to arm. What is this but sterile intellectualist logic-chopping and hopeless Tryapichkin-ism? Are not these people dragging   the Party back, away from the pressing tasks of the revolutionary vanguard to the contemplation of the proletariat’s “posterior”? This unbelievable vulgarisation of our tasks is due not to the individual qualities of one or other Tryapichkin, but to their entire position, which has been so inimitably formulated in the catchwords organisation-as-process and tactics-as-process. Such a position in itself necessarily condemns a man to fear all definite slogans, to shy at all “plans”, to back away from bold revolutionary initiative, to philosophise and chew the cud, to be in fear of running too far ahead—and this at a time when we Social-Democrats are obviously lagging behind the proletariat in revolutionary activity. Truly the dead are clutching at the living; the dead theories of Rabocheye Dyelo lie like a dead hand upon the new Iskra too.

Let us consider Iskra’s arguments regarding “the politically leading role of Social-Democracy as the vanguard of the class destined to emancipate the nation”. “We can neither attain that role,” we are told, “nor firmly establish our title to it even if we take over full control of the technical organisation and conduct of the uprising.” Think of it! We cannot attain the role of vanguard even if we succeed in taking full control of the conduct of the uprising! And these people presume to speak of vanguard! They fear history will impose upon them the leading role in the democratic revolution, and they are terrified at the thought of having “to conduct the uprising”. The thought lurks at the back of their minds—only they do not yet dare to voice it outright in the columns of Iskra—that the Social-Democratic organisation must not “conduct the uprising”, that it must not strive to take full control over the revolutionary transition to the democratic republic. They scent in this, these incorrigible Girondists of socialism, monstrous Jacobinism.[5] They do not understand that the harder we strive to take full control of the conduct of the uprising, the greater will our share in the undertaking be, and that the greater this share is, the less will the influence of the anti-proletarian or non-proletarian democrats be. They are determined to be at the tail-end; they have even invented a philosophy of their own to prove that the tail-end is the right place for them. Martynov has actually begun to expound this philosophy,   and tomorrow, no doubt, he will dot the i’s in the columns of Iskra.

Let us try to follow the argument step by step:

“The class-conscious proletariat, governed by the logic of the spontaneous process of historical development, will utilise for its own purposes all the elements of organisation, all the elements of ferment which the eve of the revolution creates....”

Fine! But to utilise all elements means to assume full leadership. Iskra defeats its own purpose and, realising this, hastens to add:

“...wholly undismayed by the fact that· all these elements rob it of a share in the technical leadership of the revolution itself and thus involuntarily help to carry our demands to the most backward sections of the masses.”

Can you make anything of this, dear reader? To utilise all elements, undismayed by the fact that they rob us of a share in the leadership?! But, hold on, gentlemen, if we really utilise all elements, if it is really our demands that are adopted by those we utilise, then they do not rob us of the leadership, but accept our leadership. If, on the other hand, all these elements really rob us of the leadership (and of course not only “technical” leadership, because to separate the “technical” side of a revolution from its political side is sheer nonsense), then it is not we who utilise them, but they us.

“We should be only too glad if, following the priest who popularised among the masses our demand for the separation of the Church from the State, if, following the monarchist workers’ society which arranged the popular procession to the Winter Palace, the Russian revolution would find it self the richer by a general, who would be the first to lead the masses in the last fight against the tsar’s troops, or by a government official who would be the first to proclaim the formal overthrow of the rule of the tsars.”

Yes, we too should be glad of it, but we should not want a feeling of joy over pleasant prospects to overshadow our sense of logic. What is meant by the Russian revolution finding itself the richer by a priest or a general? What is meant is that the priest or the general will become an adherent   or leader of the revolution. These “tyros” may be fully or not quite fully conscious adherents of the revolution. In the latter event (which is the more probable with tyros) we must deplore, not welcome, their lack of consciousness and do our utmost to cure and fill this lack. As long as we leave this undone, as long as the masses follow a leader who is lacking in consciousness, we have to admit that it is not the Social-Democrats who utilise these elements, but vice versa. Yesterday’s priest, general, or government official who becomes an adherent of the revolution, may be a prejudice-ridden bourgeois democrat, and insofar as the workers will follow him the bourgeois democrats will be “utilising” the workers. Is this clear to you, gentlemen of the new Iskra? If it is, then why do you fear the assumption of leadership by the fully conscious (that is, Social-Democratic) adherents of the revolution? Why do you fear lest a Social-Democratic officer (I purposely select an analogous example) and member of the Social-Democratic organisation assume, “completely take over”, the functions and tasks of your hypothetical general at the initiative and on the instructions of that organisation?

To return to Parvus. He concludes his excellent article with the excellent advice to get rid of the disorganisers by “throwing them overboard”. To get rid of the disorganisers is, as the items in our Party News column show,[6] the most impassioned and emphatic slogan of the majority of the Russian Social-Democrats. Precisely, Comrade Parvus, they must be “thrown overboard” in the most ruthless fashion, and the throwing must start with those heroes of the Social-Democratic press who have, been sanctioning disruption by their organisation-as-process and organisation-as-tendency “theories”. The thing is not merely to talk of it, but to do it. We must convene immediately a congress of all Party workers who wish to organise the Party. We must not confine ourselves to persuasion and to appeals, but must put a direct and inexorable ultimatum to all who hesitate, to all who waver, vacillate, and doubt: “Make your choice!” From the first issue of our newspaper we have sounded that ultimatum on behalf of the Editorial Board of Vperyod, on behalf of the mass of Russian Party workers who have been driven to intense exasperation by the   disorganisers. Make haste, then, and throw them overboard, comrades, and let us settle down to the work of organisation with a hearty good will. Better a hundred revolutionary Social-Democrats who have accepted organisation-as-plan than a thousand intellectuals of the Tryapichkin tribe who prattle about organisation-as-process.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 7, pp. 122-23.—Ed.

[2] See pp. 148-57 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] The above lines bad been written when we received from the liberal camp the following information, which is not without interest. The St. Petersburg special correspondent of the German bourgeois-democratic newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung (February 17, 1905) quotes a liberal St. Petersburg journalist on the political situation: “The liberals would be fools to let a moment like the present slip by. The liberals now hold all the trumps, for they have succeeded in hitching the workers to their cart, whereas the government has no one, since the bureaucracy does not give anyone a chance to get ahead.” What sublime simplicity must be reigning in the new Iskra for them to be writing about the death of liberalism at such a moment!—Lenin

[4] Tryaptchkin—a type of unscrupulous journalist mentioned in Gogol’s comedy The Inspector-General.

[5] The Mountain and the Gironde—designation of the two political groupings of the bourgeoisie at the time of the French bourgeois revolution towards the end of the eighteenth century. The Mountain, or Jacobins, was the name given to the more consistent representatives of the revolutionary class of the time, the bourgeoisie,   who advocated the abolition of absolutism and feudalism. Unlike the Jacobins, the Girondists wavered between revolution and counter-revolution, and entered into deals with the monarchy.

Lenin called the opportunist trend in Social-Democracy the “Socialist Gironde”, and the revolutionary Social-Democrats—proletarian Jacobins, the “Mountain”. After the R.S.D.L.P. split into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, Lenin frequently stressed that the Mensheviks were the Girondist trend in the working-class movement.

[6] Lenin has in view the item “Disorganisation of the Local Commit tees” and the resolutions of the Minsk and Odessa groups of the Social-Democrats published in Vperyod, No. 7, February 21(8), 1905, in the Party News column.



Preface to the Pamphlet Memorandum of Police Department Superintendent Lopukhin

Written in February-March 1905
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 202-205.

There can be too much of a good thing, or so Mr. Lopukhin seems to say in his memorandum. A good thing from the point of view of the police is the “temporary” Security Regulations, which, since 1881, have been one of the most stable fundamental laws of the Russian Empire. The police are given all kinds of rights and powers to “keep the populace in hand”, according to the apt expression of the memorandum, which is all the more striking the more often one stumbles over the incredibly ponderous and clumsy official turns of speech in which the memorandum is written. Yes, the police have lived in clover under these “Regulations”, but their “good” features have spoiled them. That is one aspect of the matter. Another is the fact that the emergency measures of suppression, which may have seemed extraordinary twenty-five years ago, have since become so ordinary that the population has adjusted itself to them, so to speak. The repressive significance of these emergency measures has weakened, just as a new spring weakens from long and excessive use. The game is not worth the candle, Mr. Lopukhin, Superintendent of the Police Department, implies in his memorandum, which is written in a curiously melancholy and dismal tone.

How gratifying to a Social-Democrat is this dismal tone, this dry, business-like, yet nonetheless devastating criticism by a police official of Russia’s fundamental police law. Gone are the palmy days of policedom! Gone are the sixties, when the very existence of a revolutionary party was unthought of. Gone are the seventies, when the strength of such a party,   whose existence was an undoubted and terrifying fact, was “only equal to individual acts of violence, but not to a political revolution”. In those days, when “underground agitation found support only among individual persons or circles”, the newly invented spring could still produce some effect. But how slack this spring has now become, “in the present state of society, when dissatisfaction with the existing order of things and a strong opposition movement are be coming so widespread in Russia”! How absurd and meaning less these emergency security measures proved to be when they had to be, actually had to he, applied in thousands of cases “against workers for engaging in strikes of a peaceful nature and purely economic in motive”, when even cobble stones had to be classed as dangerous political weapons!

In his despair, poor Lopukhin resorts to a double exclamation mark, which invites Messieurs the Ministers to join him in laughing at the absurd consequences to which the Security Regulations have led. Everything in these Regulations has proved useless ever since the revolutionary movement really penetrated among the people and became inseparably bound up with the class movement of the working masses—everything, from the rules requiring the registration of passports to the military tribunals. Even the “institution of house janitors”, that blessed godsend to the police, is scathingly criticised by the Polizei-Minister, who accuses it of having an enervating effect on the preventive activities of the police.

In truth, the complete bankruptcy of the police regime! This bankruptcy is confirmed, apart from the assertions of such a highly competent person as the most honourable Mr. Lopukhin, by the entire course of development of the tsarist policy. When there was no really popular revolutionary movement, when the political struggle was not yet connected and integrated with the class struggle, simple police measures against individuals and study circles had their use. Against classes these measures proved ludicrously in effective; by their very profusion they became a hindrance to the work of the police. The once awesome clauses of the Security Regulations have proved to be just miserable, petty, quibbling chicaneries, which tend to stir up discontent among the “plain people” ’who do not belong to the revolutionariea   rather than seriously to affect the revolutionaries them selves. Against the people’s revolution, against the class struggle the police cannot be depended on; one must have the backing of the people, too, the support of classes. Such is the moral of Mr. Lopukhin’s memorandum. And such is the moral which the autocratic government is drawing from practical experience. The springs of the police machinery have lost their snap; military force alone is now insufficient. One must stir up national hatred, race hatred; one must recruit “Black Hundreds”[1] from among the politically least developed sections of the urban (and, following that, naturally, of the rural) petty bourgeoisie; one must attempt to rally to the defence of the throne all reactionary elements among the population at large; one must turn the struggle of the police against study circles into a struggle of one part of the people against the other.

That is precisely what the government is now doing when it sets the Tatars against the Armenians in Baku; when it seeks to provoke new pogroms against the Jews; when it organises Black-Hundred gangs against the Zemstvo people, students, and rebellious Gymnasium youths; and when it appeals to the loyal nobles and to the conservative elements among the peasants. Ah, well! We Social-Democrats are not surprised at these tactics of the autocracy; nor shall we be frightened by them. We know that it will no longer help the government to stir up racial animosity since the workers have begun to organise armed resistance to the pogrom-bandits; and by relying on the exploiting sections of the petty bourgeoisie the government will only antagonise still broader masses of real proletarians. We have never expected any political or social revolutions to come from “convincing” the powers that be, or from educated persons turning to the paths of “virtue”. We have always taught that it is the class struggle, the struggle of the exploited part of the people against the exploiters, that lies at the bottom of political transformations and in the final analysis determines the fate of all such transformations. By admitting the complete failure of the pettifogging police methods and passing over to the direct organisation of civil war, the government shows that the final reckoning is approaching. So much the better. It is launching the civil war. So much the better. We, too, are   for the civil war. If there is any sphere in which we feel particularly confident, it is here, in the war of the vast masses of the oppressed and the downtrodden, of the toiling millions who keep the whole of society going, against a handful of privileged parasites. Of course, by fanning racial antagonism and tribal hatred, the government may for a time arrest the development of the class struggle, but only for a short time and at the cost of a still greater expansion of the field of the new struggle, at the cost of a more bitter feeling among the people against the autocracy. This is proved by the consequences of the Baku pogrom, which deepened tenfold the revolutionary mood of all sections against tsarism. The government thought to frighten the people by the sight of bloodshed and the vast toll of street battles; but actually it is dispelling the people’s fear of bloodshed, of a direct armed encounter. Actually, the government is furthering our cause, with agitation of a scope wider and more impressive than we could ever have dreamed of. Vive le son du canon! say we in the words of the French revolutionary song: “Hail the thunder of the cannon!” Hail the revolution! Hail the open war of the people against the tsarist government and its adherents!


New Tasks and New Forces

Vperyod, No. 9, March 8 (February 23), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 209-220.

The development of a mass working-class movement in Russia in connection with the development of Social-Democracy is marked by three notable transitions. The first was the transition from narrow propagandist circles to wide economic agitation among the masses; the second was the transition to political agitation on a large scale and to open street demonstrations; the third was the transition. to actual civil war, to direct revolutionary struggle, to the armed popular uprising. Each of these transitions was prepared, on the one hand, by socialist thought working mainly in one direction, and on the other, by the profound changes that had taken place in the conditions of life and in the whole mentality of the working class, as well as by the fact that increasingly wider strata of the working class were roused to more conscious and active struggle. Sometimes these changes took place imperceptibly, the proletariat rallying its forces behind the scenes in an unsensational way, so that the intellectuals often doubted the lasting quality and the vital power of the mass movement. There would then be a turning-point, and the whole revolutionary movement would, suddenly, as it were, rise to a new and higher stage. The proletariat and its vanguard, Social-Democracy, would be confronted with new practical tasks, to deal with which, new forces would spring up, seemingly out of the ground, forces whose existence no one had suspected shortly before the turning-point. But all this did not take place at once, without vacillations, with out a struggle of currents within the Social-Democratic movement, without relapses to outworn views long since thought dead and buried.

Social-Democracy in Russia is once again passing through such a period of vacillation. There was a time when political agitation had to break its way through opportunist theories, when it was feared that we would not be equal to the new tasks, when excessive repetition of the adjective “class”, or a tail-ender’s interpretation of the Party’s attitude to the class, was used to justify the fact that the Social-Democrats lagged behind the demands of the proletariat. The course of the movement has swept aside all these short-sighted fears and backward views. The new upsurge now is attended once more, although in a somewhat different form, by a struggle against obsolete circles and tendencies. The Rabocheye Dyelo-ists have come to life again in the new-Iskrists. To adapt our tactics and our organisation to the new tasks, we have to overcome the resistance of opportunist theories of “a higher type of demonstration” (the plan of the Zemstvo campaign), or of the “organisation-as-process”; we have to combat the reactionary fear of “timing” the uprising, or the fear of the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. Once again, excessive (and very often foolish) repetition of the word “class” and belittlement of the Party’s tasks in regard to the class are used to justify the fact that Social-Democracy is lagging behind the urgent needs of the proletariat. The slogan “workers’ independent activity” is again being misused by people who worship the lower forms of activity and ignore the higher forms of really Social-Democratic independent activity, the really revolutionary initiative of the proletariat itself.

There is not the slightest doubt that the movement, in its course, will once again sweep aside these survivals of obsolete and lifeless views. Such sweeping aside, however, should not be reduced to mere rejection of the old errors, but, what is incomparably more important, it should take the form of constructive revolutionary work towards fulfilling the new tasks, towards attracting into our Party and utilising the new forces that are now coming into the revolutionary field in such vast masses. It is these questions of constructive revolutionary work that should be the main subject in the deliberations of the forthcoming Third Congress; upon these questions all our Party members should concentrate in their local and general work. As to the new   tasks that confront us, of this we have spoken in general terms on more than one occasion. They are: to extend our agitation to new strata of the urban and rural poor; to build up a broader, more flexible, and stronger organisation; to prepare the uprising and to arm the people; and, to these ends, to conclude agreements with the revolutionary democrats. That new forces have arisen for the fulfilment of these tasks is eloquently borne out by the reports of general strikes all over Russia, of the strikes and the revolutionary mood among the youth, among the democratic intelligentsia generally, and even among many sections of the bourgeoisie. The existence of these tremendous fresh forces and the positive assurance that only a small portion of the whole vast stock of inflammable material among the working class and the peasantry has so far been affected by the present unprecedented revolutionary ferment in Russia are a reliable pledge that the new tasks can and will be unfailingly fulfilled. The practical question confronting us now is, first, how to utilise, direct, unite, and organise these new forces; how to focus Social-Democratic work on the new, higher tasks of the day without for a moment forgetting the old, ordinary run of tasks that confront us, and will continue to confront us, so long as the world of capitalist exploitation continues to exist.

To indicate several methods for dealing with this practical question we shall begin with an individual, but to our mind very characteristic, instance. A short time ago, on the very eve of the outbreak of the revolution, the liberal-bourgeois Osvobozhdeniye (No. 63) touched on the question of the organisational work of the Social-Democrats. Closely following the struggle between the two trends in Social-Democracy, Osvobozhdeniye lost no opportunity again and again to take advantage of the new Iskra’s reversion to Economism, in order to emphasise (in connection with the demagogic pamphlet by “A Worker”) its own profound sympathy with the principles of Economism. This liberal publication correctly pointed out that the pamphlet (see Vperyod, No. 2, on the subject[1] ) implies inevitable negation, or belittlement, of the role of revolutionary Social-Democracy. Referring to   “A Worker’s” absolutely incorrect assertions that since the victory of the orthodox Marxists the economic struggle has been ignored, Osvobozhdeniye says:

“The illusion of present-day Russian Social-Democracy lies in its fear of educational work, of legal ways, of Economism, of so-called non-political forms of the labour movement, and in its failure to understand that only educational work, legal and non-political forms, can create a sufficiently strong and broad foundation for a working-class movement that will really be worthy of the name revolutionary.” Osvobozhdeniye urges its adherents “to take upon themselves the initiative in building a trade union movement”, not in opposition to Social-Democracy, but hand in hand with it; and it draws a parallel between this situation and that which prevailed in the German labour movement during the operation of the Exceptional Law Against the Socialists.[5]

This is not the place to deal with this analogy, a totally erroneous one. In the first place, it is necessary to reassert the truth about the attitude of the Social-Democrats towards the legal forms of the working-class movement. “The legalisation of non-socialist and non-political labour unions in Russia has begun,” we wrote in 1902 in What Is To Be Done?[2] “Henceforth, we cannot but reckon with this tendency.” How shall we reckon with it?—the question is raised there and answered by a reference to the need of exposing, not only the Zubatov theories, but also all liberal harmony speeches about “class collaboration”. (In inviting the collaboration of the Social-Democrats, Osvobozhdeniye fully acknowledges the first task, but ignores the second.) “Doing this,” the pamphlet goes on to say, “does not at all mean forgetting that in the long run the legalisation of the working-class movement will be to our advantage, and not to that of the Zubatovs.” In exposing Zubatovism and liberalism at legal meetings we are separating the tares from the wheat. “By the wheat we mean attracting the attention of ever larger numbers, including the most backward sections, of the workers to social and political questions, and freeing ourselves, the revolutionaries, from functions that 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.”

It follows clearly from this that if anyone is suffering from an “illusion” with regard to the question of “fearing” the legal forms of the movement, it is Osvobozhdeniye. Far from fearing these forms, the revolutionary Social-Democrats clearly point to the existence within them of tares as well as wheat. Osvobozhdeniye’s arguments, consequently, only cover up the liberals’ real (and founded) fear that revolutionary Social-Democracy will expose the class essence of liberalism.

But what interests us most, from the point of view of present-day tasks, is the question of relieving the revolutionaries of some of their functions. The very fact that we are now experiencing the beginning of the revolution makes this a particularly topical and widely significant question. “The more energetically we carry on our revolutionary struggle, the more the government will be compelled to legalise part of the trade union work, thereby relieving us of part of our burden,” we said in What Is To Be Done?[3] But the energetic revolutionary struggle relieves us of “part of our burden” in many other ways besides this. The present situation has done more than merely “legalise” much of what was formerly banned. It has widened the movement to such an extent that, regardless of government legalisation, many things that were considered and actually were within reach only of revolutionaries have now entered the sphere of practice, have become customary and accessible to the masses. The whole course of Social-Democracy’s historical development is characterised by the fact that in face of all obstacles it has been winning for itself increased freedom of action, despite tsarist laws and police measures. The revolutionary proletariat surrounds itself, as it were, with a certain atmosphere, unthinkable for the government, of sympathy and sup port both within the working class and within other classes (which, of course, agree with only a small part of the demands of the working-class democrats). In the initial stages of the movement a Social-Democrat had to carry on a great deal of what almost amounted to cultural work, or to concentrate   almost exclusively on economic agitation. Now these functions, one after another, are passing into the hands of new forces, of wider sections that are being enlisted in the movement. The revolutionary organisations have concentrated more and more on carrying out the function of real political leadership, the function of’ drawing Social-Democratic conclusions from the workers’ protest and the popular discontent. In the beginning we had to teach the workers the ABC, both in the literal and in the figurative senses. Now the standard of political literacy has risen so gigantically that we can and should concentrate all our efforts on the more direct Social-Democratic objectives aimed at giving an organised direction to the revolutionary stream. Now the liberals and the legal press are doing a great deal of the “preparatory” work upon which we have hitherto had to expend so much effort. Now the open propaganda of democratic ideas and demands, no longer persecuted by the weakened government; has spread so widely that we must learn to adjust ourselves to this entirely new scope of the movement. Naturally, in this preparatory work there are both tares and wheat. Naturally, Social-Democrats will now have to pay greater attention to combating the influence of the bourgeois democrats on the workers. But this very work will have much more real Social-Democratic content than our former activity, which aimed mainly at rousing the politically unconscious masses.

The more the popular movement spreads, the more clearly will the true nature of the different classes stand revealed and the more pressing will the Party’s task be in leading the class, in becoming its organiser, instead of dragging at the tail-end of events. The more the revolutionary independent activity of all kinds develops everywhere, the more obvious will be the hollowness and inanity of the Rabocheye Dyelo catchwords, so eagerly taken up by the new-Iskrists, about independent activity in general, the more significant will become the meaning of Social-Democratic independent activity, and the greater will be the demands which events make on our revolutionary initiative. The wider the new streams of the social movement become, the greater becomes the importance of a strong Social-Democratic organisation capable of creating new channels for these streams. The   more the democratic propaganda and agitation conducted in dependently of us works to our advantage, the greater be comes the importance of an organised Social-Democratic leadership to safeguard the independence of the working class from the bourgeois democrats.

A revolutionary epoch is to the Social-Democrats what war-time is to an army. We must broaden the cadres of our army, we must advance them from peace strength to war strength, we must mobilise the reservists, recall the furloughed, and form new auxiliary corps, units, and services. We must not forget that in war we necessarily and inevitably have to put up with less trained replacements, very often to replace officers with rank-and-file soldiers, and to speed up and simplify the promotion of soldiers to officers’ rank.

To drop metaphor, we must considerably increase the membership of all Party and Party-connected organisations in order to be able to keep up to some extent with the stream of popular revolutionary energy which has been a hundred fold strengthened. This, it goes without saying, does not mean that consistent training and systematic instruction in the Marxist truths are to be left in the shade. We must, how ever, remember that at the present time far greater significance in the matter of training and education attaches to the military operations, which teach the untrained precisely and entirely in our sense. We must remember that our “doctrinaire” faithfulness to Marxism is now being reinforced by the march of revolutionary events, which is everywhere furnishing object lessons to the masses and that all these lessons confirm precisely our dogma. Hence, we do not speak about abandoning the dogma, or relaxing our distrustful and suspicious attitude towards the woolly intellectuals and the arid-minded revolutionaries. Quite the contrary. We speak about new methods of teaching dogma, which it would be unpardonable for a Social-Democrat to forget. We speak of the importance for our day of using the object lessons of the great revolutionary events in order to convey—not to study circles, as in the past, but to the masses—our old, “dogmatic” lessons that, for example, it is necessary in practice to combine terror with the uprising of the masses, or that behind the liberalism of the educated Russian society one must be able to discern the class interests of our   bourgeoisie (cf. our polemics with the Socialists-Revolutionaries on this question in Vperyod, No. 3[4] ).

Thus, it is not a question of relaxing our Social-Democratic exactingness and our orthodox intransigence, but of strengthening both in new ways, by new methods of training. In war-time, recruits should get their training lessons directly from military operations. So tackle the new methods of training more boldly, comrades! Forward, and organise more and more squads, send them into battle, recruit more young workers, extend the normal framework of all Party organisations, from committees to factory groups, craft unions, and student circles! Remember that every moment of delay in this task will play into the hands of the enemies of Social-Democracy; for the new streams are seeking an immediate outlet, and if they do not find a Social-Democratic channel they will rush into a non-Social-Democratic channel. Remember that every practical step in the revolutionary movement will decidedly, inevitably give the young recruits a lesson in Social-Democratic science; for this science is based on an objectively correct estimation of the forces and tendencies of the various classes, while the revolution itself is nothing but the break-up of old superstructures and the independent action of the various classes, each striving to erect the new superstructure in its own way. But do not debase our revolutionary science to the level of mere book dogma, do not vulgarise it with wretched phrases about tactics-as-process and organisation-as-process, with phrases that seek to justify confusion, vacillation, and lack of initiative. Give more scope to all the diverse kinds of enterprise on the part of the most varied groups and circles, bearing in mind that, apart from our counsel and regardless of it, the relentless exigencies of the march of revolutionary events will keep them upon the correct course. It is an old maxim that in politics one often has to learn from the enemy. And at revolutionary moments the enemy always forces correct conclusions upon us in a particularly instructive and speedy manner.

To sum up, we must reckon with the growing movement, which has increased a hundredfold, with the new tempo of   the work, with the freer atmosphere and the wider field of activity. The work must be given an entirely different scope. Methods of training should be refocussed from peaceful instruction to military operations. Young fighters should be recruited more boldly, widely, and rapidly into the ranks of all and every kind of our organisations. Hundreds of new organisations should be set up for the purpose without a moment’s delay. Yes, hundreds; this is no hyperbole, and let no one tell me that it is “too late” now to tackle such a broad organisational job. No, it is never too late to organise. We must use the freedom we are getting by law and the freedom we are taking despite the law to strengthen and multiply the number of Party organisations of all varieties. Whatever the course or the outcome of the revolution may be, however early it may be checked by one or other circumstance, all its real gains will be rendered secure and reliable only insofar as the proletariat is organised.

The slogan “Organise!" which the adherents of the majority wanted to issue, fully formulated, at the Second Congress must now be put into effect immediately. If we fail to show bold initiative in setting up new organisations, we shall have to give up as groundless all pretensions to the role of vanguard. If we stop helplessly at the achieved boundaries, forms, and confines of the committees, groups, meetings, and circles, we shall merely prove our own incapacity. Thou sands of circles are now springing up everywhere without our aid, without any definite programme or aim, simply under the impact of events. The Social-Democrats must make it their task to establish and strengthen direct contacts with the greatest possible number of these circles, to assist them, to give them the benefit of their own knowledge and experience, to stimulate them with their own revolutionary initiative. Let all such circles, except those that are avowedly non-Social-Democratic, either directly join the Party or align themselves with the Party. In the latter event we must not demand that they accept our programme or that they necessarily enter into organisational relations with us. Their mood of protest and their sympathy for the cause of international revolutionary Social-Democracy in themselves suffice, provided the Social-Democrats work effectively among them, for these circles of sympathisers under the   impact of events to be transformed at first into democratic assistants and then into convinced members of the Social-Democratic working-class party.

There are masses of people, and we are short of people; this contradictory formula has long expressed the contradictions between the organisational life and the organisational needs of the Social-Democratic Party. Today this contradiction is more salient than ever before; we often hear from all sides passionate appeals for new forces, complaints about the shortage of forces in the organisations, while at the same time we have everywhere countless offers of service, a growth of young forces, especially among the working class. The practical organiser who complains of a shortage of people under such circumstances becomes the victim of the illusion from which Madame Roland suffered, when she wrote in 1793, at the peak of the Great French Revolution, that France had no men, that there were only dwarfs. People who talk in this manner do not see the wood for the trees; they admit that they are blinded by events, that it is not they, the revolutionaries, who control events in mind and deed, but events that control them and have overwhelmed them. Such organisers had better retire and leave the field clear for younger forces who often make up with verve what they lack in experience.

There is no dearth of people; never has revolutionary Russia had such a multitude of people as now. Never has a revolutionary class been so well off for temporary allies, conscious friends, and unconscious supporters as the Russian proletariat is today. There are masses of people; all we need do is get rid of tail-ist ideas and precepts, give full scope to initiative and enterprise, to “plans” and “undertakings”, and thus show ourselves to be worthy representatives of the great revolutionary class. Then the proletariat of Russia will carry through the whole great Russian revolution as heroically as it has begun it.


[1] See pp. 56-62 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] See present edition, Vol. 5, p. 455.—Ed.

[3] See present edition, Vol. 5, p. 491.—Ed.

[4] See pp. 83-89 of this volume.—Ed.

[5] The Exceptional Law Against the Socialists was promulgated in Germany in 1878. The law suppressed all organisations of the Social-Democratic Party, mass working-class organisations, and the labour press; socialist literature was confiscated; and the banishing of socialists began. The law was annulled in 1890 under pressure of the mass working-class movement.


The First of May

The First of May was written by Lenin in Geneva and is sued as a leaflet over the signature of the Bureau of Committees of the Majority and the Editorial Board of Vperyod. The leaflet was reprinted by a number of local Social-Democratic committees.

Written prior to April 12 (25), 1905
Published in 1905 as a separate leaflet.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 347-350.


Workers of ALL Countries, Unite)

Comrades workers! The great holiday of the workers of all the world is coming. On the First of May they celebrate their awakening to light and knowledge, their association in one fraternal union for the struggle against all oppression, against all tyranny, against all exploitation, for a socialist system of society. All who work, who feed the rich and the nobility by their labour, who spend their lives in back breaking toil for scanty wages, who never enjoy the fruits of their own labour, who live like beasts of burden amidst the luxury and splendour of our civilisation—all stretch out their hands to fight for the emancipation and happiness of the workers. Down with enmity between workers of different nationalities or different creeds! This enmity can only benefit the plunderers and tyrants, who live by the ignorance and disunion of the proletariat. Jews and Christians, Armenians and Tatars, Poles and Russians, Finns and Swedes, Letts and Germans—all, all of them march together under the one common banner of socialism. All workers are brothers, and their solid union is the only guarantee of the well-being and happiness of all working and oppressed mankind. On the First of May this union of the workers of all countries, international Social-Democracy, reviews its forces and gathers its strength for a further unremitting and unswerving struggle for freedom, equality, and fraternity.

Comrades! We stand now in Russia on the eve of great events. We are engaged in the last desperate fight with the autocratic tsarist government, we must carry this fight on to its victorious end. See what calamities this government of brutes and tyrants, of venal courtiers and hangers on of capital, has brought upon the entire Russian people! The tsarist government has plunged the Russian people into   an insane war against Japan. Hundreds of thousands of young lives have been torn away from the people to perish in the Far East. Words cannot describe all the calamities that this war brings upon us. And what is the war for? For Manchuria, which our predatory tsarist government has seized from China! Russian blood is being shed and our country ruined for the sake of foreign territory. Life is becoming harder and harder for the workers and peasants; the capitalists and officials keep tightening the noose round their necks, while the tsarist government is sending the people out to plunder foreign territory. Bungling tsarist generals and venal officials have led to the destruction of the Russian. fleet, squandered hundreds and thousands of millions of the nation’s wealth, and lost entire armies, but the war still goes on, claiming further sacrifices. The people are being ruined, industry and trade are coming to a standstill, and famine and cholera are imminent; but the autocratic government in its blind madness follows the old path; it is ready to ruin Russia if only it can save a handful of brutes and tyrants; it is launching another war besides the one with Japan—war against the entire Russian people.

Never before has Russia experienced such an awakening from her slumber, from her oppression and enslavement, as she is experiencing today. All classes of society are stirring, from the workers and peasants to the landlords and capitalists, and voices of protest have been raised everywhere, in St. Petersburg and the Caucasus, in Poland and Siberia. Everywhere the people demand an end to the war; they demand the establishment of a free people’s rule, the convocation of deputies of all citizens without exception in a Constituent Assembly to institute a people’s government and save the nation from the abyss into which the tsarist government is pushing it. Workers of St. Petersburg, about two hundred thousand strong, went to the tsar on Sunday, the Ninth of January, with the priest Georgi Gapon in order to submit these demands of the people. The tsar received the workers as enemies. He shot down thousands of unarmed workers in the streets of St. Petersburg. The struggle is now on all over Russia. Workers are on strike, demanding freedom and a better life. Blood is being spilt in Riga and in Poland, on the Volga and in the South. Everywhere the peasants are   rising. The struggle for freedom is becoming the struggle of the entire people.

The tsarist government has gone mad. It wants to borrow money to carry on the war, but no one will trust it with a loan any longer. It promises to convene representatives of the people, but actually everything remains unchanged; the persecutions do not cease, the lawlessness of the officials proceeds as before; there are no free public meetings, no freely circulated people’s newspapers; the prisons in which fighters for the working-class cause are languishing have not been thrown open. The tsarist government is trying to set one people against another. It has brought about a massacre in Baku by maligning the Armenians among the Tatars; now it is preparing a fresh massacre aimed at the Jews by fanning hatred against them among the ignorant people.

Comrades workers! We will tolerate no longer such outrageous treatment of the Russian people. We will rise to defend freedom, we will strike back at all who try to deflect the wrath of the people from the real enemy. We will rise up in arms to overthrow the tsarist government and win freedom for the entire people. To arms, workers and peasants! Hold secret meetings, form fighting squads, get whatever weapons you can, send trusted men to consult with the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party! Let this year’s First of May be for us the celebration of the people’s uprising, let us prepare for it and await the signal for the decisive attack on the tyrant. Down with the tsarist government! We will overthrow it and set up a provisional revolutionary government to convene a Constituent Assembly of the people. Let people’s deputies be elected by universal, direct, and equal vote, through secret ballot. Let all fighters for freedom be released from prison or brought back from exile. Let public meetings be held openly and people’s newspapers be printed without surveillance by the accursed officials. Let all the people arm, let a rifle be given to every worker, so that the people themselves, not a handful of plunderers, may decide their own destiny. Let free peasants’ committees be set up in the countryside to overthrow the serf-owning landlord power, to free the people from the hateful oppression of the officials, to restore to the peasants the land that has been taken away from them.

This is what the Social-Democrats want, this is,what they call upon you to fight for, arms in hand: for complete freedom, for the democratic republic, for the eight-hour day, for peasants’ committees. Prepare then for the great battle, comrades workers, stop work in the factories and mills on the First of May, or take up arms according to the advice of the committees of the Social-Democratic Labour Party. The hour of the insurrection has not yet struck, but it is not far off now. The workers of the world are now looking with bated breath to the heroic Russian proletariat which has offered incalculable sacrifices to the cause of freedom. The St. Petersburg workers proclaimed on the famed Ninth of January: Freedom or death! Workers of all Russia, we will repeat that great battle-cry, we will not shrink from any sacrifices: through the uprising we will win freedom; through freedom, socialism!

Long live the First of May, long live international revolutionary Social-Democracy!

Long live the freedom of the workers and peasants, long live the democratic republic! Down with the tsarist autocracy!


Bureau of Committees of the Majority Editorial Board of “Vperyod”



The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

April 12 (25)-April 27 (May 10), 1905



Draft Resolution on the Attitude of the R.S.D.L.P. Towards the Armed Uprising

1. Whereas the proletariat, being, by virtue of its position, the foremost and most consistent revolutionary class, is therefore called upon to play the role of leader and guide of the general democratic revolutionary movement in Russia;

2. Whereas only the performance of this role during the revolution will ensure the proletariat the most advantageous position in the ensuing struggle for socialism against the propertied classes of the bourgeois-democratic Russia about to be born; and

3. Whereas the proletariat can perform this role only if it is organised under the banner of Social-Democracy in to an independent political force and if it acts in strikes and demonstrations with the fullest possible unity;— Therefore, the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. resolves that the task of organising the forces of the proletariat for direct struggle against the autocracy by means of mass political strikes and the armed uprising, and of setting up for this purpose an apparatus for information and leadership, is one of the chief tasks of the Party at the present revolutionary moment; for which reason the Congress instructs both the C.C. and the local committees and leagues to start preparing the political mass strike as well as the organisation of special groups for the obtainment and distribution of arms, for the elaboration of a plan of the armed up rising and the direct leadership of the rising. The fulfilment of this task can and should proceed in such a way as will not only not in the least prejudice the general work of awakening the class-consciousness of the proletariat, but, on the contrary, will render that work more effective and successful.


Draft Resolution of the Armed Uprising

The Congress holds, on the basis of the practical experiences of the functionaries and on the basis of the mood of the working-class masses, that preparations for the uprising imply, not only the preparation of weapons, the formation of groups, etc., but also the accumulation of experience by means of practical attempts at separate armed actions, such as attacks by armed squads on the police and on troops during public meetings, or on prisons, government offices, etc. While fully relying on the local Party centres and on the C.C. to determine the limits of such actions and the most convenient occasions for them, while fully relying on the comrades’ discretion in avoiding a useless expenditure of effort on petty acts of terror, the Congress draws the attention of all Party organisations to the need for taking into consideration the above-mentioned facts of experience.

Written at the end of April 1905


Speech on the Question of the Armed Uprising

April 15 (28)

It has been said here that the question is clear enough in principle. Nevertheless, statements have been made in Social-Democratic literature (see Iskra, No. 62, and Comrade Axelrod’s foreword to the pamphlet by “A Worker”) which go to show that the question is not so clear after all. Iskra and Axelrod talked about conspiracy and expressed the fear that too much thought would be given to the up rising. The facts show, however, that there has been too little thought on the subject.... In his foreword to the pamphlet by “A Worker”, Comrade Axelrod maintains that it can only be a question of an uprising of the “uncivilised masses”. Events have shown that we are dealing, not with an uprising of the “uncivilised masses”, but with an uprising of politically conscious masses capable of carrying on an organised struggle. The entire history of the past year proved that we underestimated the significance and the inevitability of the uprising. Attention must be paid to the practical aspect of the matter. In this respect the experience of those engaged in practical work and of the workers of St. Petersburg, Riga, and the Caucasus is of exceptional importance. I would suggest, therefore, that the comrades tell us of their experience; that will make our discussion practical instead of academic. We must ascertain the mood of the proletariat—whether the workers consider themselves fit to struggle and to lead the struggle. We must sum up this collective experience, from which no generalised conclusions have as yet been drawn.



Speech on the Question of the Armed Uprising

April 16 (29)

During the debate the question was put on a practical plane: what is the mood of the masses? Comrade Leskov[1] was right in saying that it was chequered. But Comrade Zharkov is right, too, in saying that we must reckon with the fact that the uprising, whatever we may think of it, is bound to take place. The question arises whether there are any differences in principle between the resolutions submitted. I fail totally to see any. Although I am viewed as an arch-intransigent, I will, nevertheless, try to reconcile and bring these two resolutions into line—I will undertake their reconciliation. I have nothing against the amendment to Comrade Voinov’s resolution. Nor do I see any difference in principle in the addendum. Very energetic participation does not necessarily imply hegemony. I think Comrade Mikhailov expressed himself in a more positive manner; he emphasises hegemony, and in a concrete form, too. The English proletariat is destined to bring about a socialist revolution—that is beyond doubt; but its inability to bring it about at the present moment, owing to its lack of socialist organisation and its corruption by the bourgeoisie, is equally beyond dispute. Comrade Voinov expresses the same thought: the most energetic participation is undoubtedly the most decisive participation. Whether the proletariat will decide the outcome of the revolution—no one can assert absolutely. This is likewise true of the role of leader. Comrade Voinov’s resolution is worded more carefully. Social Democracy may organise the uprising, it may even be the deciding factor in it. But whether Social-Democracy will   have the leading role in it cannot be predetermined; that will depend on the strength and organisation of the proletariat. The petty bourgeoisie may be better organised and its diplomats may prove to be superior and better trained. Comrade Voinov is the more cautious; he says, “You may be able to do it.” “You will do it,” says Comrade Mikhailov. The proletariat may possibly decide the outcome of the revolution, but this cannot be asserted positively. Comrades Mikhailov and Sosnovsky are guilty of the very error they charge Comrade Voinov with: “Count not your trophies before the battle.”

“For guarantee, it is necessary,” says Voinov; “necessary and sufficient,” say Mikhailov and Sosnovsky. As to organising special fighting groups, I might say that I consider them necessary. We need not fear to form them.



[1] Leskov—N. V. Romanov, delegate from the Northern Committee. Others mentioned in the speech: Zharkov—M. S. Leshchinsky, delegate from the Ekaterinoslav Committee: Mikhailov—D. S. Postolovsky, delegate from the North-Western Committee; Sosnovsky—V. A. Desultsky, delegate from the Nizhni-Novgorod Committee.



Resolution on the Armed Uprising

The document has no heading. The title has been provided by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, Central Committee, C.P.S.U.

1. Whereas the proletariat being, by virtue of its position, the foremost and only consistently revolutionary class, is therefore called upon to play the leading role in the general democratic revolutionary movement in Russia;

2. Whereas this movement at the present time has already led to the necessity of an armed uprising;

3. Whereas the proletariat will inevitably take the most energetic part in this uprising, which participation will decide the destiny of the revolution in Russia;

4. Whereas the proletariat can play the leading role in this revolution only if it is united, in a single and independent political force under the banner of the Social-Democratic Labour Party, which directs its struggle both ideologically and practically; and

5. Whereas only’ the performance of this role will ensure to the proletariat the most advantageous conditions for the struggle for socialism against the propertied classes of bourgeois-democratic Russia;—

Therefore, the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. holds that the task of organising the proletariat for direct struggle against the autocracy by means of the armed uprising is one of the major and most urgent tasks of the Party at the present revolutionary moment.

Accordingly, the Congress instructs all Party organisations:

a) to explain to the proletariat by means of propaganda and agitation, not only the political significance, but the practical organisational aspect of the impending armed up rising.

b) to explain in that propaganda and agitation the role of mass political strikes, which may be of great importance at the beginning and during the progress of the uprising, and

c) to take the most energetic steps towards arming the proletariat, as well as drawing up a plan of the armed up rising and of direct leadership thereof, for which purpose special groups of Party workers should be formed as and when necessary.

Written April 16 (29), 1905


Draft Resolution on the Participation of the Social-Democrats in a Provisional Revolutionary Government

1. Whereas a really free and open mass struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie requires the widest possible political liberty and, consequently, the fullest possible realisation of republican forms of government;

2. Whereas various bourgeois and petty-bourgeois sections of the population, the peasantry, etc., are, now coming out in increasing numbers with revolutionary-democratic slogans, which are the natural and inevitable expression of the basic needs of the masses, the satisfaction of which— impossible under the autocracy—has been made imperative by the objective development of the entire socio-economic life of Russia;

3. Whereas international revolutionary Social-Democracy has always recognised that the proletariat must render most energetic support to the revolutionary bourgeoisie in its struggle against all reactionary classes and institutions, provided that the party of the proletariat maintain absolute independence and a strictly critical attitude towards its temporary allies;

4. Whereas the overthrow of the autocratic government in Russia is inconceivable without its replacement by a provisional revolutionary government, and whereas only such a change can ensure real freedom and a true expression of the will of the whole people during the inauguration of the new political system in Russia and guarantee the realisation of our programme of immediate and direct political and economic changes;

5. Whereas without the replacement of the autocratic government by a provisional revolutionary government sup ported by all revolutionary-democratic classes and class elements in Russia, it will be impossible to achieve a republican form of government and win over to the revolution the backward and undeveloped sections of the proletariat and particularly of the peasantry—those sections whose interests are completely opposed to the absolutist, serf-holding order and which cling to the autocracy or stand apart from the struggle against it largely on account of the oppressive stupefying atmosphere; and

6. Whereas with the existence in Russia of a Social-Democratic party of the working class, which, though only in the initial stage of its development, is nevertheless already organised and capable, particularly under conditions of political freedom, of controlling and directing the actions of its delegates in a provisional revolutionary government, the danger that these delegates may deviate from the correct class line is not insurmountable;—

Therefore, the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. holds that representatives of the Party may participate in the provisional revolutionary government for the purpose of relentlessly combating, together with the revolutionary bourgeois democrats, all attempts at counter-revolution, and of defending the independent class interests of the proletariat, provided that the Party maintain strict control over its representatives and firmly safeguard the independence of the Social-Democratic Labour Party, which aims at the complete socialist revolution and is in this respect hostile to all bourgeois-democratic parties and classes.

Written at the end or April 1905


Addendum to the Resolution on the Participation of the Social-Democrats in a Provisional Revolutionary Government

Another argument in favour of participating in a provisional revolutionary government:

Whereas the categorical refusal to participate in a provisional revolutionary government, which is at this moment recommended by the Right Wing of our Party, inevitably dooms the activity of the revolutionary proletariat aimed at preparing, organising, and carrying out the armed uprising, to irresolution, half-way policies, and disunity;—

Written at the end of April 1905


Report on the Question of the Participation of the Social-Democrats in a Provisional Revolutionary Government

April 18 (May 1)

My task is to present the question of the participation of the Social-Democrats in a provisional revolutionary government. It may seem strange, at first glance, that such a question should have arisen. One might think the cause of Social-Democracy to be thriving and the probability of its participation in a provisional revolutionary government to be very great. Actually it is not so. To debate this question as an immediately realisable prospect would be quixotic. But the question has been forced upon us not so much by the actual state of affairs as by literary polemics. It must always be borne in mind that the question was first raised by Martynov, and that he raised it before January 9. He wrote in his pamphlet Two Dictatorships (pp. 10-11):

“Imagine, dear reader, for a moment, that Lenin’s utopia has been realised; imagine that the Party, whose membership has been narrowed down to only professional revolutionaries, has succeeded in ’preparing, timing, and carrying out the general armed uprising of the people’. Is it not obvious that it would be this Party which would he designated as the provisional government by the will of the whole people immediately after the revolution? Is it not obvious that the people would place the immediate fate of the revolution in the hands of this Party, and no other? Is it not obvious that this Party, not wishing to betray the confidence previously placed in it by the people, would he forced, he in duty bound, to assume power and maintain it until it had consolidated the victory of the revolution by revolutionary measures?”

Incredible as it may seem, this is actually how the question is presented: Martynov believes that if we were thoroughly   to prepare and launch the uprising, we should find our selves in a desperate predicament. If we were to submit our dispute to a foreigner, he would never believe it possible for the question to be formulated in that manner and he would not understand us. Our dispute cannot be understood without a knowledge of the history of Russian Social-Democratic views and the nature of the tail-endist views of Rabocheye Dyelo. This question has become an urgent question of theory and must be clarified. It is a question of clarity in our aims. I urge the comrades when reporting on our discussion to the members engaged in practical Party work in Russia to emphasise strongly Martynov’s formulation of the question.

Iskra, No. 96, contains an article by Plekhanov. We have always held Plekhanov in great esteem for the “of fence” he has repeatedly given to the opportunists, which, to his honour, has earned him a mass of enemies. But we cannot esteem him for defending Martynov. This is not the Plekhanov we knew. He entitles his article “On the Question of the Seizure of Power”. This artificially narrows the issue. We have never thus presented the question. Plekhanov presents things as though Vperyod called Marx and Engels “virtuosi of philistinism”. But that is not so; it is a slight substitution. Vperyod expressly stressed the correctness of Marx’s general conception of this question. The charge of philistinism referred to Martynov or to L. Martov. Well disposed though we are to hold in high esteem all who collaborate with Plekhanov, it must be said, however, that Martynov is not Marx. Plekhanov errs in seeking to hush up Martynovism.

Martynov asserts that if we take a decisive part in the uprising, we shall be in great danger of being forced by the proletariat to take power. This argument has a certain original logic of its own, although a logic of retreat. It is in reference to this peculiar warning against the danger of victory in the struggle against the autocracy that Vperyod asks Martynov and L. Martov what they are talking about: a socialist or a democratic dictatorship? We are referred to Engels’ famous words about the danger involved in the position of a leader who has been given power in behalf of a class that is not yet mature for the exercise of complete domination. We explained in Vperyod that Engels points out the danger to the position of a leader when he establishes   post factum a divergence between principle and reality, between words and facts. Such a divergence leads to disaster in the sense of political failure, not in the sense of physical defeat[1] ; you must affirm (this is Engels’ thought) that the revolution is socialistic, when it is really only democratic. If we promised the Russian proletariat now that we could secure its complete domination immediately, we would fall into the error of the Socialists-Revolutionaries. It is this mistake of the Socialists-Revolutionaries that we Social-Democrats have always ridiculed—their claim that the revolution will be “democratic and not bourgeois”. We have constantly said that the revolution would strengthen the bourgeoisie, not weaken it, but that it would create for the proletariat the necessary conditions for waging a successful struggle for socialism.

But since it is a question of a democratic revolution, we are faced with two forces: the autocracy and the revolutionary people, viz., the proletariat as the chief combatant, and the peasantry and all the different petty-bourgeois elements. The interests of the proletariat do not coincide with those of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie. Social-Democracy has always stressed, the fact that these class differences in the midst of a revolutionary people are unavoidable. In a hard-fought struggle, the object of the struggle may change from hand to hand. A revolutionary people strives for the sovereignty of the people; all the reactionary elements defend the sovereignty of the tsar. A successful revolution, therefore, cannot be anything but the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, whose interests, equally opposed to the sovereignty of the tsar, coincide. Both Iskra and Vperyod are agreed on the slogan “To march separately but strike together”, but Vperyod adds that striking jointly means jointly striking the final blow and jointly beating off the enemy’s attempts to recover the ground he has lost. After the overthrow of the autocracy, the struggle will not cease, but become more intense. That is precisely the time when the reactionary forces will organise for the struggle in real earnest. If we are going to employ the slogan of the uprising, we must not frighten the   Social-Democrats with the possibility of victory in the uprising. When we have won the sovereignty of the people, we shall have to consolidate it—this is what is meant by the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship. We have no reason whatever to fear it. The establishment of the republic would be a tremendous victory for the proletariat, although, unlike the bourgeois revolutionary, the Social-Democrat does not regard the republic as the “absolute ideal” but merely as some thing that will guarantee him freedom to wage the struggle for socialism on a broad basis. Parvus says that in no other country has the struggle for freedom entailed such tremendous sacrifices. This is true. It is confirmed by the European bourgeois press, which is following events in Russia very closely from the outside. The autocracy’s resistance to the most elementary reforms is incredibly strong, and the greater the action the greater the counter-action. Hence the autocracy’s utter collapse is highly probable. The entire question of the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship hinges on the complete overthrow of the autocracy. Possibly the history of 1848-50 will repeat itself with us, that is, the autocracy will not be overthrown but only limited in power and converted into a constitutional monarchy. In that case a democratic dictatorship will be out of the question. If, however, the autocratic government is really over thrown, it will have to be replaced by another. This other can be only a provisional revolutionary government. It can base itself for support only on the revolutionary people—on the proletariat and the peasantry. It can be only a dictatorship, that is, not an organisation of “order”, but an organisation of war. If you are storming a fortress, you cannot discontinue the war even after you have taken the fortress. Either the one or the other: either we take the fortress to hold it, or we do not storm the fortress and explain that all we want is a little place next to it.

Let me pass on to Plekhanov. His method is totally incorrect. He evades important questions of principle to indulge in quibbling, with an element of misstatement. (Exclamation by Comrade Barsov: “Hear, hear!”) Vperyod maintains that Marx’s general scheme is correct (that of replacing the autocracy first by a bourgeois monarchy and then by a petty-bourgeois democratic republic); but if we set out   beforehand to restrict the limits to which we shall go in accordance with this scheme, we shall prove ourselves philistines. Thus, Plekhanov’s defence of Marx is verlorene Liebesmühe (love’s labour’s lost). In defending Martynov, Plekhanov refers to the Address[3] of the Central Committee of the Communist League[4] to the League membership. Plekhanov misstates this Address too. He draws a veil over the fact that it was written at a time when the people had failed to score a complete victory, notwithstanding the victorious uprising of the Berlin proletariat in 1848. Absolutism had been superseded by a bourgeois constitutional monarchy, and, consequently, a provisional government backed by the entire revolutionary people was out of the question. The whole point of the Address is that after the failure of the popular uprising Marx advises the working class to organise and prepare. Can thEse counsels serve to clarify the situation in Russia before the uprising has begun? Can they resolve the moot question which presupposes the victorious uprising of the proletariat? The Address begins thus: “In the two revolutionary years 1848-49 the League proved itself in double fashion: first, in that its members energetically took part in the movement in all places.... The League further proved itself in that its conception of the movement [as set forth, by the way, in the Communist Manifesto] turned out to be the only correct one.... At the same time, the former firm organisation of the League was considerably slackened. A large part of the members who directly participated in the revolutionary movement believed the time for secret societies to have gone by and public activities alone sufficient. The individual circles and communities allowed their connections with the Central Committee (Zentralbehörde) to be come loose and gradually dormant. Consequently, while the democratic party, the party of the petty bourgeoisie, organised itself more and more in Germany, the workers’ party lost its only firm hold, remained organised at the most in separate localities for local purposes and in the general movement (in der aligemeinen Bewegung) thus came completely under the domination and leadership of the petty-bourgeois democrats” (Ansprache, p. 75).

Thus, Marx found in 1850 that the petty-bourgeois democrats had gained in organisation during the Revolution of   1848, which had run its course, while the workers’ party had lost. Naturally, Marx’s chief concern was that the workers’ party should not lag behind the bourgeoisie a second time. It is “extremely important that ... precisely at this moment, when a new revolution is impending, the workers’ party must act in the most organised, most unanimous and most independent fashion possible, if it is not to be exploited and taken in tow again by the bourgeoisie as in 1848” (An sprache, p. 76).

It is because the bourgeois democrats were better organised that Marx did not doubt that they would definitely predominate, should a second revolution take place at once. “That, during the further development of the revolution, the petty-bourgeois democracy will for a moment (für einen Augenblick) obtain predominating influence in Germany is not open to doubt” (Ansprache, p. 78). Taking all this into consideration, we can understand why Marx does not mention a word in Ansprache about the participation of the proletariat in a provisional revolutionary government. Plekhanov, therefore, is entirely incorrect in asserting that Marx “considered inadmissible the thought that the political representatives of the proletariat could work together with the representatives of the petty bourgeoisie for the creation of a new social order” (Iskra, No. 96). This is not correct. Marx does not raise the question of participation in a provisional revolutionary government, whereas Plekhanov makes it appear as though Marx decided this question in the negative. Marx says: We Social-Democrats have all been lagging behind, we are worse organised, we must organise independently for the eventuality that the petty bourgeoisie will come to power after a new revolution. From these premises of Marx, Martynov draws the following conclusion: We Social-Democrats, now better organised than the petty-bourgeois democrats and constituting undoubtedly an in dependent party, ought to shrink from having to participate in a provisional revolutionary government in the event of a successful uprising. Yes! Comrade Plekhanov, Marxism is one thing and Martynovism another. To bring out more clearly the great difference between the situation in Russia in 1905 and that in Germany in 1850, let us deal with some further interesting passages in the Address. Marx did not   even mention the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat, for he believed in the direct socialist dictatorship of the proletariat immediately after the petty-bourgeois revolution. On the agrarian question, for instance, he says that the democrats want to create a petty-bourgeois peasant class, but that the workers must oppose this plan in the interests of the rural proletariat and in their own interests; they must demand that the confiscated feudal landed property remain state property, and that it be used for labour colonies in which the associated rural proletariat should employ all the means of large-scale agriculture. Obviously, with such plans in mind, Marx could not speak of a democratic dictatorship. He wrote, not on the eve of the revolution, as the representative of the organised proletariat, but after the revolution, as the representative of the workers in the process of organising. Marx emphasises the first task as follows: “After the overthrow of the existing governments, the Central Committee will, as soon as it is at all possible, betake itself to Germany, immediately convene a congress, and put before the latter the necessary proposals for the centralisation of the workers’ clubs....” Thus, the idea of an independent workers’ party, which has become with us bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, was then something new. We must not forget that in 1848, when Marx was editing the free and extremely revolutionary newspaper (Die Neue Rheinische Zeitung[5]), he had no working-class organisation behind him. His paper was supported by bourgeois radicals, who nearly wrecked it when Marx made his scathing attack on the Paris bourgeoisie after the June Days. That is why the Address has so much to say about the independent organisation of the workers. It deals with the formation of revolutionary workers’ governments parallel with the new official government, whether in the form of workers’ clubs and committees or of local communal councils and municipalities. The point made therein is that the workers should be armed and that they should form an independent workers’ guard. The second clause in the programme states that working-class candidates, preferably members of the League, should be nominated for these bodies alongside the bourgeois candidates. How weak the League was is shown by the fact that Marx had to argue the need for nominating   independent candidates. The inference to be drawn from all this is that Marx did not mention and had no intention of deciding the question of participation in a provisional revolutionary government, since that question could have no practical significance at the time; the entire attention was concentrated exclusively on the organisation of an independent workers’ party.

Plekhanov says further in Iskra that Vperyod produces no relevant evidence, but confines itself to repeating a few favourite catchwords, and he alleges that Vperyod seeks to criticise Marx. With what truth? Do we not see, on the contrary, that Vperyod puts the question on a concrete basis, taking into account the real social forces engaged in Russia in the struggle for the democratic revolution? Plekhanov, on the other hand, does not say a word about the concrete conditions in Russia. His stock-in-trade consists of a couple of inapposite quotations. Monstrous, but true. The situation in Russia differs so greatly from that in Western Europe that even Parvus was prompted to ask: Where is our revolutionary democracy? Unable to prove that Vperyod wants to “criticise” Marx, Plekhanov drags in Mach and Avenarius by the ears. I cannot for the life of me understand what these writers, for whom I have not the slightest sympathy, have to do with the question of social revolution. They wrote on individual and social organisation of experience, or some such theme, but they never really gave any thought to the democratic dictatorship. Does Plekhanov mean to say that Parvus, perhaps, has become a disciple of Mach and Avenarius? (Laughter.) Or perhaps things have come to such a pass with Plekhanov that he has to make a butt of Mach and Avenarius without rhyme or reason. Plekhanov goes on to say that Marx and Engels soon lost faith in an imminent social revolution. The Communist League broke up. Petty squabbles arose among the political emigrants abroad, which Marx and Engels put down to the fact that while there were revolutionaries there was no revolution. Plekhanov writes in Iskra: “They [Marx and Engels, who had lost faith in an imminent social revolution] would have formulated the political tasks of the proletariat on the assumption that the democratic system would be predominant for a fairly long time. But for this very reason they would have been   more emphatic than ever in condemning the socialists’ participation in a petty-bourgeois government” (Iskra, No. 96). Why? No answer. Once more Plekhanov uses democratic dictatorship interchangeably with socialist dictator ship, i.e., he falls into Martynov’s error, against which Vperyod has time and again strongly warned. Without the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry no republic is possible in Russia. This assertion was made by Vperyod on the basis of an analysis of the actual situation. Unfortunately, Marx did not know this situation and he did not write of it. Therefore the analysis of this situation can neither be confirmed nor refuted with simple quotations from Marx. As to the concrete conditions, Plekhanov says not a word.

Even less felicitous is the adducing of the second quotation from Engels. For one thing, it is rather odd of Plekhanov to refer to a private letter without mention of the time and place of its publication.[6] We could only be grateful for the publication of Engels’ letters, but we should like to see their full text. We have, however, some information which permits us to judge of the true meaning of Engels’ letter.

We know definitely, in the second place, that the situation in Italy in the nineties was nothing like the present situation in Russia. Italy had been enjoying freedom for forty years. In Russia the working class cannot even dream of such freedom without a bourgeois revolution. In Italy, consequently, the working class had long been in a position to develop an independent organisation for the socialist revolution. Turati is the Italian Millerand. It is quite possible, therefore, that even at that time Turati advocated Millerandian ideas. This assumption is borne out by the fact that, according to Plekhanov himself, Engels had to explain to Turati the difference between a bourgeois-democratic and a socialist revolution. Thus, Engels feared that Turati would find himself in the false position of a leader who did not understand the social significance of the revolution in which he was taking part. Accordingly, we must say again of Plekhanov that he confounds democratic with socialist revolution.

But perhaps we might find in Marx and Engels an answer which, though not applying to the concrete situation in   Russia, would apply to the general principles of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat? Iskra at any rate raises one such general question.

It states in issue No. 93: “The best way to organise the proletariat into a party in opposition to the bourgeois-democratic state is to develop the bourgeois revolution from below through the pressure of the proletariat on the democrats in power.” Iskra goes on: “Vperyod wants the pressure of the proletariat on the revolution [?] to be exerted not only from below, not only from the street, but also from above, from the marble halls of the provisional government.” This formulation is correct; Vperyod does want this. We have here a really general question of principle: is revolutionary action permissible only from below, or also from above? To this general question we can find an answer in Marx and Engels.

I have in mind Engels’ interesting article “The Bakuninists at Work”[7] (1873). Engels describes briefly the Spanish Revolution of 1873, when the country was swept by a revolution of the Intransigentes, i.e., the extreme republicans. Engels stresses the fact that the immediate emancipation of the working class was out of the question at that time. The task was to accelerate for the proletariat the transition through the preliminary stages that prepare the social revolution and to clear the obstacles in its way. The working class of Spain could utilise this opportunity only by taking an active part in the revolution. In this it was hindered by the influence of the Bakuninists and, among other things, by their idea of the general strike, which Engels criticised so effectively. Engels describes, in passing, the events in Alcoy, a city with 30,000 factory workers, where the proletariat found itself master of the situation. How did the proletariat act? Despite the principles of Bakuninism, they were obligated to participate in the provisional revolutionary government. “The Bakuninists,” says Engels, “had for years been propagating the idea that all revolutionary action from above downward was pernicious, and that every thing must be organised and carried out from below upward.”

This, then, is Engels’ answer to the general question of “from above or from below” raised by Iskra. The “Iskra” principle of “only from below and never from above” is an anarchist principle. Drawing his conclusion from the events of the   Spanish revolution, Engels says: “The Bakuninists repudiated the credo which they had just proclaimed: that the establishment of a revolutionary government was only a new deception and a new betrayal of the working class [as Plekhanov is trying to persuade us now], by figuring quite complacently on the government committees of the various cities, and at that almost everywhere as an impotent minority outvoted and exploited politically by the bourgeoisie.” Thus, what displeases Engels is the fact that the Bakuninists were in the minority, and not the fact that they sat there on these committees. At the conclusion of his pamphlet, Engels declares that the example of the Bakuninists is “an example of how not to make a revolution”.

If Martov confined his revolutionary work exclusively to action from below, he would be repeating the mistake of the Bakuninists.

Iskra, however, after inventing differences on points of principle with Vperyod, comes round to our own point of view. Martynov, for instance, says that the proletariat, in common with the people, must force the bourgeoisie to consummate the revolution. This, however, is nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of “the people”, viz., of the proletariat and the peasantry. The bourgeoisie has no wish what ever to consummate the revolution. But the people cannot help wanting this because of the social conditions of their existence. The revolutionary dictatorship will educate them and draw them into political life.

Iskra writes in issue No. 95:

“If, however, we should finally be swept into power against our will by the inner dialectics of the revolution at a time when the national conditions for the establishment of socialism are not yet mature, we would not hack out. We would make it our aim to break down the narrow national framework of the revolution and impel the Western world towards revolution, as France impelled the East a century ago.”

Thus, Iskra itself admits that, were it our misfortune to be victorious, we should have to act in keeping with the Vperyod position. Hence, in the practical aspect of the question, “Iskra” follows “Vperyod” and undermines its own position. The only thing I fail to understand is how Martov and Martynov can be dragged to power against their own will. If ever there was idiocy!

Iskra cites France as an example. But that was Jacobin France. To make a bogy of Jacobinism in time of revolution is a cheap trick. A democratic dictatorship, as I have pointed out, is not an organisation of “order”, but an organisation of war. Even if we did seize St. Petersburg and guillotined Nicholas, we would still have several Vendées[8] to deal with. Marx understood this perfectly when in 1848, in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, he recalled the Jacobins. He said that “the Reign of Terror of 1793 was nothing but a plebeian mariner of settling accounts with absolutism and counter-revolution.”[9] We, too, prefer to settle accounts with the Russian autocracy by “plebeian” methods and leave Girondist methods to Iskra. The situation confronting the Russian revolution is singularly auspicious (an anti-popular war, the Asiatic conservatism of the autocracy, etc.), and it justifies the hope that the uprising may prove successful. The revolutionary temper of the proletariat is mounting almost hourly. At such a moment Martynovism is not mere folly, but a downright crime, for it saps the revolutionary energy of the proletariat, clips the wings of its revolutionary enthusiasm. (Lyadov: “Hear, hear!”) It is the mistake Bernstein made in the German Party, under different circumstances, on the question, not of the democratic, but of the socialist dictatorship.

To give you a definite idea of what these celebrated “marble halls” of the provisional revolutionary government are really like, I shall quote still another source. In his article “Die Reichsverfassungskampagne” [2] Engels recounts how he took part in a revolution in the precincts of these “marble halls”. He describes, for instance, the uprising in Rhenish Prussia, which was one of the most industrialised centres in Germany. The chances for the victory of the democratic party, he says, were particularly strong there. The thing to do was to rush all available forces to the right bank of the Rhine, spread the insurrection over a wider area and try to set up the nucleus of a revolutionary army with the aid of the Landwehr (militia). This was precisely what Engels proposed when he went to Elberfeld to do everything possible to put his plan into operation. He attacks the petty-bourgeois   leaders for their inability to organise the insurrection, for their failure to furnish funds, for instance, for the maintenance of the workers fighting on the barricades, etc. They should have acted more energetically, he says. Their first step should have been to disarm the Elberfeld Citizens’ Army and distribute its arms among the workers, and then to levy a compulsory tax for the maintenance of the workers thus armed. But this suggestion, says Engels, came only and exclusively from me. The highly respectable Committee of Public Safety was not in the least inclined to take such “terrorist measures”.

Thus, while our Marx and Engels—that is, Martynov and Martov (Homeric laughter)—try to frighten us with the bogy of Jacobinism, Engels castigated the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie for its disdain of the “Jacobin” mode of operation. He understood that going to war and—in the course of the war—renouncing the State Treasury and government power meant engaging in an unworthy game of words. Where, then, will you get money for the uprising, if it becomes an all-people’s uprising, gentlemen of the new Iskra? Not from the State Treasury, surely? That is bourgeois! That is Jacobinism!

Concerning the uprising in Baden Engels writes that “the insurgent government had every chance of success, in that it found ... a ready army, well-stocked arsenals ... a full State Treasury, and what was practically solid support of the population”. After the event everyone understood what had to be done under the circumstances. What had to be done was to organise an army for the protection of the National Assembly, to drive the Austrians and Prussians back, to spread the revolt to the neighbouring states, and “bring the trembling German so-called National Assembly under the terroristic influence of an insurgent population and insurgent army.... It was necessary, furthermore, to centralise the power of the insurrection, put the necessary funds at its disposal and win for the insurrection the sympathy of the vast farming majority of the population by immediately abolishing all feudal burdens.... All this should have been done at once, however, if it was to be carried out promptly. A week after the appointment of the Committee of Safety it was too late”.

We are convinced that when the uprising starts in Russia the revolutionary Social-Democrats, following the example of Engels, will enlist as soldiers of the revolution and will give the same kind of “Jacobin” advice. But our Iskra prefers to discuss the colour of the ballot envelopes, relegating to the background the question of the provisional revolutionary government and of a revolutionary guard for the Constituent Assembly. Our Iskra will not act “from above” under any circumstances.

From Karlsruhe Engels went to Pfalz, where his friend D’Ester (who had once freed Engels from arrest) was, on the provisional government. “Official participation in a movement that was utterly alien to our party was plainly out of the question in this case as well,” Engels says. He had “to take the only position in this movement that anyone working on the Neue Rheinische Zeitung could take: that of a soldier.” We have spoken of the break-up of the Communist League, which deprived Engels of practically all ties with the workers’ organisations. This clarifies the passage we quoted: “I was offered many civilian and military posts,” writes Engels, “posts that I would not have hesitated for a moment to accept in a proletarian movement. Under the circumstances I declined them all.”

As we see, Engels did not fear to act from above; he did not fear that the proletariat might become too organised and too strong, which could lead to its participation in the provisional government. On the contrary, he regretted that the movement was not successful enough, not proletarian enough, because the workers were completely unorganised. But even under these circumstances, Engels accepted a post; he served in the army as Willich’s adjutant, took over the delivery of ammunition, transporting under the greatest difficulties powder, lead, cartridges, etc. “To die for the republic was (thenceforward) my aim,” writes Engels.

I leave it to you, comrades, to judge whether this picture of a provisional government drawn according to the words of Engels resembles the “marble halls” which the new Iskra is holding up as a bogy to frighten the workers away from us. (Applause.) (The speaker reads his draft of the resolution and explains it.)


[1] See pp. 279-80 of this volume—Ed.

[2] “The Campaign for an Imperial Constitution”.—Ed.

[3] Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League, March 1850. (See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Moscow, 1958, Vol. I, pp. 106-17.)

[4] The Communist League—the first international association of the revolutionary proletariat, founded in the summer of 1847 in London at the congress of delegates from revolutionary proletarian organisations. The organisers and leaders of the Communist League were Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who were commissioned by that organisation to write the Manifesto of the Communist Party. The Communist League existed up to 1852. Its most prominent members eventually played a leading role in the First International. (See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Moscow, 1958, Vol. II, pp. 338-57.)

[5] Die Neue Rheinische Zeitung appeared in Cologne between June 1, 1848, and May 19, 1849, under the management of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The Editor-in-Chief was Marx. Under the blows of reaction the newspaper ceased its existence after issue No. 301. On the Neue Rheinische Zeitung see Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Moscow, 1958, Vol. II, pp. 328-37.

[6] The reference is to Engels’ letter to Filippo Turati dated January 26, 1894, and published in the Italian hi-monthly CriticaSociale, No. 3, for February 1, 1894, under the heading “The Future Italian Revolution and the Socialist Party.” (See Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, pp. 551-55.)

[7] The Russian translation of Engels’ article “Die Bakunisten an der Arbeit. Denkschrift über den Aufstand in Spanien im Sommer 1873” (published in 1873 in “Internationales aus dem Volksstaat”), was edited by Lenin and issued in pamphlet form by the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. in Geneva in 1905 and in St. Petersburg in 1906.

[8] Vendle—a department of France where, during the French bourgeois revolution of the late eighteenth century, a counter-revolutionary insurrection of the backward, reactionary peasantry took place against the revolutionary Convention. The revolt was engineered by the counter-revolutionary clergy and landlords with the help of religious catchwords.

[9] Lenin quotes from Marx’s article “The Bourgeoisie and the Counter-Revolution. Second Article”, written on December 11, 1848. (See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Moscow, 1958, Vol. I, p. 67.)


Draft Resolution on the Provisional Revolutionary Government

1. Whereas both the direct interests of the Russian proletariat and those of its struggle for the ultimate aims of socialism require the fullest possible measure of political freedom, and, consequently, the replacement of the autocratic form of government by the democratic republic;

2. Whereas the armed uprising of the people, if completely successful, i.e., if the autocracy is overthrown, will necessarily bring about the establishment of a provisional revolutionary government, which alone is capable of securing complete freedom of agitation and of convening a Constituent Assembly that will really express the will of the people, an Assembly elected on the basis of universal, direct, and equal suffrage by secret ballot; and

3. Whereas this democratic revolution in Russia will not weaken, but, on the contrary, will strengthen the domination of the bourgeoisie, which, at a certain juncture, will inevitably go to all lengths to take away from the Russian proletariat as many of the gains of the revolutionary period as possible;— Therefore, the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. resolves:

a) that we should spread among the working class the conviction that a provisional revolutionary government is absolutely necessary, and discuss at workers’ meetings the conditions required for the full and prompt realisation of all the immediate political and economic demands of our programme;

b) that in the event of the victorious uprising of the people and the complete overthrow of the autocracy, representatives   of our Party may participate in the provisional revolutionary government for the purpose of waging a relentless struggle against all counter-revolutionary attempts and of defending the independent interests of the working class;

c) that essential conditions for such participation are strict control of its representatives by the Party, and the constant safeguarding of the independence of the Social-Democratic Party, which strives for the complete socialist revolution, and, consequently, is irreconcilably opposed to all the bourgeois parties;

d) that, irrespective of whether participation of Social-Democrats in the provisional revolutionary government is possible or not, we must propagate among the broadest sections of the proletariat the idea that the armed proletariat, led by the Social-Democratic Party, must bring to bear constant pressure on the provisional government for the purpose of defending, consolidating, and extending the gains of the revolution.

Written prior to April 18 (May I), 1905


Report on the Resolution on the Support of the Peasant Movement

April 19 (May 2)

In view of the statement of seventeen comrades calling attention to the urgent need for speeding up the work of the Congress, I shall try to be as brief as possible. Strictly speaking, there are no moot points of principle in the question under discussion; none arose even during the Party crisis, which was rich in differences on points of “principle”.

Moreover, the draft resolution was published in Vperyod quite some time ago; I shall therefore confine myself merely to supporting the resolution.

The question of supporting the peasant movement divides itself into two aspects: (1) fundamentals, and (2) the practical experience of the Party. The latter will be dealt with by our second reporter, Comrade Barsov,[3] who is thoroughly familiar with our most advanced peasant movement— that in Guria. As regards the fundamentals involved, it is now a matter of reaffirming the slogans elaborated by Social-Democracy and adapting them to the peasant movement of today. This movement is growing and spreading before our eyes. The government is up to its old game of trying to fool the peasantry with sham concessions. This policy of corruption must be countered with the. slogans of our Party.

These slogans, in my opinion, are set forth in the following Draft Resolution:

“The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, as the party of the class-conscious proletariat, strives to bring about the complete emancipation of all working people   from every kind of exploitation, and supports every revolutionary movement against the present social and political system. Therefore, the R.S.D.L.P. strongly supports the present-day peasant movement, among others, and stands for all revolutionary measures capable of improving the condition of the peasantry, not halting at the expropriation of the landed estates to this end. At the same time, as the class party of the proletariat, the R.S.D.L.P. works undeviatingly towards an independent class organisation of the rural proletarians, ever mindful of its obligation to make clear to them the antagonism of their interests to those of the peasant bourgeoisie, to bring them to understand that only the common struggle of the rural and the urban proletariat against the whole of bourgeois society can lead to the socialist revolution, which alone is capable of really freeing the mass of the rural poor from poverty and exploitation.

“As a practical slogan for agitation among the peasantry, and as a means of instilling the utmost political consciousness into this movement, the R.S.D.L.P. proposes the immediate formation of revolutionary peasant committees for all-round support of all democratic reforms and for their implementation in detail. In these committees as well the R.S.D.L.P. will strive for an independent organisation of the rural proletarians for the purpose of supporting the entire peasantry in all its revolutionary-democratic actions, on the one band, and, on the other, of safeguarding the true interests of the rural proletariat in its struggle against the peasant bourgeoisie” (Vperyod, No. 11[1] ).

This Draft was discussed by the Agrarian Committee, which the delegates had appointed in advance of the Congress for its preparation. Although opinion was considerably divided, certain major trends were clearly in evidence, and it is with these that I intend to deal. The nature of the possible and necessary revolutionary measures in the sphere of the agrarian question is according to the Draft Resolution “the improvement in the condition of the peasantry”. Thus, the Resolution clearly expresses thereby the general conviction of all Social-Democrats that no fundamental change in the present social and economic system can be achieved by   these measures. In this we differ from the Socialists-Revolutionaries. The revolutionary movement of the peasants may lead to a considerable improvement in their condition, but not to the supplanting of capitalism by another mode of production.

The Resolution speaks of measures that will not halt at the expropriation of the landed estates. It has been said that this formulation modifies our agrarian programme. I consider this opinion wrong. The wording could be improved, of course, to read that it is the peasantry and not our Party that will not halt at expropriation; our Party supports the peasantry and will support it also when it does not halt at such measures. The narrower concept “confiscation” should be used instead of expropriation, since we are emphatically opposed to compensation in any shape or form. We will never hesitate to employ such measures as confiscation of the land. But apart from these partial emendations, we see nothing in our Resolution that modifies our agrarian programme. All Social-Democratic publicists have constantly expressed the view that the point concerning the cut-off lands does not by any means set limits to the peasant movement, either to curtail or to restrict it. Both Plekhanov and I have stated in the press that the Social-Democratic Party will never hold the peasantry back from revolutionary measures of agrarian reform, including the “general redistribution”[4] of the land. Thus, we are not modifying our agrarian programme. We must now take a definite stand on the practical question of consistent support to the peasants, to avoid any possible misunderstandings or misinterpretations. The peasant movement is now on the order of the day, and the party of the proletariat should declare officially that it gives this movement full support and does not in any way limit its scope.

The Resolution goes on to speak of the need to bring the interests of the rural proletariat into focus and to organise this proletariat separately. There is hardly any need to defend this simple axiom before a gathering of Social-Democrats. It was stated in the Agrarian Committee that it would be a good thing to add a point on the support of strikes of the farm labourers and peasants, especially during the harvesting, haymaking, etc. In principle, of course, there can   be nothing against this. Let our practical workers say what they think of the possible significance of such a point for the immediate future.

The Resolution further speaks of the formation of revolutionary peasant committees.

The idea that the demand for the immediate formation of revolutionary peasant committees should be made the pivot of our agitation was developed in Vperyod, No. 15.[2] Even the reactionaries now talk of “improving the living conditions”, but they stand for an official, bureaucratic way of pseudo-improvement, whereas the Social-Democrats, of course, must stand for the revolutionary way of effecting the improvement. The main task is to instil political consciousness into the peasant movement. The peasants know what they want in a vague sort of way, but they are unable to see their wishes and demands in relation to the entire political system. That is why they are such easy game for political tricksters, who reduce the question of political changes to economic “improvements”, which cannot really be effected without political changes. Therefore, the slogan calling for revolutionary peasant committees is the only correct one. Unless these committees are able to enforce the revolutionary law, the peasants will never be able to hold what they may now win. It is objected that here, too, we are modifying the agrarian programme, which says nothing about revolutionary peasant committees or their functions in the field of democratic reforms. This objection does not hold water. We are not modifying our programme but applying it to a concrete case. Since no doubt exists that the peasant committees cannot be anything but revolutionary under the given conditions, by noting this fact we are merely applying the programme to the revolutionary moment, not changing it. Our programme, for instance, declares that we recognise the right of nations to self-determination; if concrete conditions brought us to express ourselves in favour of self-determination of a definite nation, of its complete independence, that would be, not a change of the programme, but its application. The peasant committees are an elastic institution, suitable both under present conditions and   under, let us say, a provisional revolutionary government, when they would become organs of the government. Some hold that these committees may become reactionary instead of revolutionary. But we Social-Democrats have never forgotten the dual nature of the peasant or the possibility of a reactionary peasant movement against the proletariat. Not this is the point at issue, but rather that at the present time peasant committees formed to sanction land reforms cannot be anything but revolutionary. At the present time the peasant movement is unquestionably revolutionary. Some say that the peasants will quieten down after they have seized the land. Possibly. But the autocratic government will not quieten down if the peasants seize the land, and this is the crux of the matter. Only a revolutionary government or revolutionary peasant committees can sanction this seizure.

Lastly, the concluding part of the Resolution defines once more the position of the Social-Democrats in the peasant committees, namely, the necessity of marching together with the rural proletariat and organising it separately and independently. In the countryside, too, there can be only one consistently revolutionary class—the proletariat.



[1] See pp. 235-36 of this volume—Ed.

[2] See pp. 321-22 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] Barsov—the Bolshevik M. G. Tskhakaya.

[4] “General redistribution”—a slogan popular among the peasants of tsarist Russia and expressing their desire for a general redistribution of the land.


Draft Resolution on the Support of the Peasant Movement

1. Whereas the growing peasant movement, though spontaneous and politically unconscious, is nonetheless inevitably directed against the existing political order and against the privileged classes;

2. Whereas it is one of the tasks of Social-Democracy to support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order;

3. Whereas, in view of the aforesaid, the Social-Democrats must strive to bring out the revolutionary-democratic features (characteristics) of the peasant movement, to uphold them and develop them to their logical conclusion; and

4. Whereas the Social-Democratic Party, as the party of the proletariat, must in all cases and under all circumstances work steadfastly for the independent organisation of the rural proletariat and to clarify for this class the irreconcilable antagonism between its interests and those of the peas ant bourgeoisie;—

Therefore, the Third Party Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. instructs all Party organisations:

a) to carry on propaganda among the proletariat at large, explaining that the R.S.D.L.P. makes it its aim to support with the utmost vigour the present-day peasant movement, without opposing its revolutionary manifestations, including the confiscation of the landed estates;

b) as a practical slogan for agitation among the peasantry and as a means of instilling the utmost political consciousness into the peasant movement, a plan should be launched   for the immediate organisation of revolutionary peasant committees that shall have as their aim the carrying out of all revolutionary-democratic reforms in the interests of the peasantry and the liberation of the peasantry from the tyranny of the police, the officials, and the landlords;

c) to recommend to the peasantry non-performance of military service, flat refusal to pay taxes, and refusal to recognise the authorities, in order to disorganise the autocratic regime and support the revolutionary onset directed against it;

d) to work within the peasant committees for the independent organisation of the rural proletariat and for its closest possible association with the urban proletariat in a single Social-Democratic party of the working class.

Written on April 20 (May 3), 1905


Report on the Third Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party

Proletary, No. 1, May 27 (14), 19O5.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 433-439.

Comrades Workers! The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was recently held. This Congress should mark a new phase in the history of our Social-Democratic working-class movement. Russia is passing through a great historical period. Revolution has broken out and its flames are spreading wider and wider, embracing new regions and new sections of the population. The proletariat stands at the head of the fighting forces of the revolution. It has already borne the greatest sacrifices in the cause of freedom and is now preparing for the decisive battle with the tsarist autocracy. The class-conscious representatives of the proletariat know that freedom will not rid the working people of poverty, oppression, and exploitation. The bourgeoisie, which now stands for the cause of freedom, will, on the morrow of the revolution, try to deprive the workers of as large a part of its conquests as possible and will show itself to be the implacable enemy of the socialist demands of the proletariat. But we do not fear a free, united, and strengthened bourgeoisie. We know that freedom will enable us to wage a broad and open mass struggle for socialism. We know that economic development will inexorably sap the power of capital and prepare the victory of socialism, and that it will do this the more. rapidly, the more freely it proceeds.

Comrades Workers! To achieve this great aim we must unite all class-conscious proletarians in a single Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. Our Party began to constitute itself quite some time ago, immediately following the broad working-class movement of 1895 and 1896. The year 1898 saw the convocation of its First Congress, which founded the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and outlined its aims. The Second Congress was held in 1903. It gave the Party a programme, adopted a series of resolutions on tactics, and endeavoured, for the first time, to build an integral Party organisation. True, the Party did not at once succeed in this effort. The minority at the Second Congress refused to submit to the majority and started a split that has caused great harm to the Social-Democratic working-class movement. The first step towards this split was the refusal to carry out the decisions of the Second Congress and to accept the leadership of the central bodies it had set up. The last step was the refusal to participate in the Third Congress. The Third Congress was convened by a Bureau elected by the majority of the committees working in Russia, and by the Central Committee of the Party. All the committees, breakaway groups, and the periphery organisations dissatisfied with the committees were invited to the Congress. The vast majority of these organisations, including nearly all the committees and organisations of the Minority, elected delegates and sent them abroad to attend the Congress. Thus everything possible under our police regime was done to convene an all-Party congress; it was only the refusal of three members of the former Party Council resident abroad that resulted in the boycott of the Congress by the entire Party Minority. The Third Congress, as will be seen from its resolution[1] printed below, lays the entire responsibility for the split in the Party on these three members. Nevertheless, despite the absence of the Minority, the Third Congress took every measure to enable the Minority to work with the Majority in one party. The Congress held the reversion to the antiquated and superseded views of Economism discernible in our Party to be incorrect; at the same time, it provided precise and definite guarantees of the rights of every minority, guarantees embodied in the Rules of the Party and binding on all its members. The Minority now has the unconditional right, guaranteed by the Party Rules, to advocate its views and to carry on an ideological struggle. so long as the disputes and differences do not lead to disorganisation, so long as they do not impede constructive work, split our forces, or hinder the concerted struggle against the autocracy and the   capitalists. The right to publish Party literature is now grant ed by the Rules to every qualified Party organisation. It has now been made incumbent on the C.C. of the Party to transport all kinds of Party literature upon the demand of five qualified committees, or one-sixth of all such committees in the Party. The autonomy of the committees has been defined more precisely and their membership declared inviolable, which means that the C.C. no longer has the right to remove members from local committees or to appoint new members without the consent of the committees themselves. This rule admits of only one exception, namely, in cases where two-thirds of the organised workers demand the removal of a committee; under the Rules adopted by the Third Congress such removal is incumbent on the C.C. if two-thirds of its members agree with the decision of the workers. Every local committee has been accorded the right to con firm periphery organisations as Party organisations. The periphery organisations have been accorded the right to nominate candidates for committee membership. The boundaries of the Party have been defined more precisely, in accordance with the wishes of the Party majority. A single centre has been set up instead of two or three. The comrades working in Russia have been guaranteed a decided preponderance over the Party’s section abroad. In a word, the Third Congress has done everything to remove all possibility of charging the Majority with abuse of numerical superiority, with mechanical suppression, with despotism of the central bodies of the Party, and so on and so forth. Full opportunity has been provided for all Social-Democrats to work in co-operation, to join confidently the ranks of a single party, broad and virile enough, strong and welded enough to cut loose from the old traditions of the study circle days and to wipe out all traces of past friction and petty conflicts. Let all members of the Social-Democratic Party who really cherish the Party spirit now respond to the call of the Third Congress; let its decisions serve as the starting-point for restoring the unity of the Party, for eliminating all disorganisation, and for consolidating the ranks of the proletariat. We are convinced that the class conscious workers, who are best able to appreciate the importance of united and concerted work, and who have most   keenly felt all the harmful effects of discord, vacillation, and strife, will now insist with the utmost vigour on universal and unreserved recognition of Party discipline by all Party members, whether rank and file or leaders.

While striving, in all its decisions on organisation and tactics, to maintain continuity with the work of the Second Congress, the Third Congress sought to take into consideration the new tasks of the moment in its resolutions on the Party’s preparation for open action; on the necessity for the Party to participate practically and most energetically in the armed uprising and to give it leadership; and, finally, on the Party’s attitude towards a provisional revolutionary government. The Congress drew the attention of all Party members to the need for taking advantage of all waverings on the part of the government and of every legal or actual extension of freedom for our activities in order to strengthen the class organisation of the proletariat and to prepare for its open action. But apart from these general and basic tasks of the Social-Democratic working-class party, the present revolutionary moment demands of the Party that it assume the role of foremost champion of freedom, of vanguard in the armed uprising against the autocracy. The more stubbornly the tsarist government resists the people’s strivings towards freedom, the more powerful will be the force of the revolutionary onset and the more likely the complete victory of democracy, headed by the working class. The conduct of a victorious revolution and the defence of its conquests lay tremendous tasks on the shoulders of the proletariat. But the proletariat will not flinch at these great tasks. It will contemptuously brush aside all who predict that its victory will bring it misfortune. The Russian proletariat will be able to do its duty to the very end. It will be capable of taking the lead of the people’s insurrection. It will not be daunted by the difficult task of participating in a provisional revolutionary government, if it has to tackle this task. It will be able to repel all attempts at counter revolution, to crush ruthlessly all enemies of freedom, to defend staunchly the democratic republic, and to realise, in a revolutionary way, the whole of our minimum programme. The Russian proletarians should not fear such an out come, but should passionately desire it. Our victory in the   coming democratic revolution will be a giant stride forward towards our socialist goal; we shall deliver all Europe from the oppressive yoke of a reactionary military power and help our brothers, the class-conscious workers of the whole world who have suffered so much under the bourgeois reaction and who are taking heart now at the sight of the successes of the revolution in Russia, to advance to socialism more quickly, boldly, and decisively. With the help of the socialist proletariat of Europe, we shall be able, not only to defend the democratic republic, but to advance with giant strides towards socialism.

Forward, then, comrades workers, to the organised, concerted, and staunch struggle for freedom!

Long live the revolution!

Long live international revolutionary Social-Democracy I

Central Committee, R.S.D.L.P.


[1] The reference is to the resolution “On the Constitution of the Congress” published in issue No. I of Proletary, May 27 (14), 1905 (see The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences, and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, Moscow, 1953, Part I, pp. 75-76; Russ.).


Victorious Revolution

Written in May-June 19O5
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 450-451

We often hear and read these words nowadays. What. do they actually mean? We should not idolise the concept of “revolution” (the bourgeois revolutionaries will assuredly do that and are indeed doing that). We must not create illusions or myths for ourselves; this would be entirely incompatible with the materialist conception of history and the class point of view.

Yet there is no question that a struggle of two forces is taking place before our eyes, a life-and-death struggle of precisely two forces; for the issue at stake now is the sovereignty of the tsar versus the sovereignty of the people. These two forces are: revolution and counter-revolution.

Our task, therefore, is to be quite clear in our minds as to (1) the class content of these social forces, and (2) the real economic content of their struggle now, at the present time.

The following may be taken as a brief answer to these questions (an answer that requires to be thoroughly elaborated):

Revolutionary forces==proletariat and peasantry (the peasantry as the chief representative of the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie; the intelligentsia negligible as a revolutionary factor).

Victorious revolution==democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.

Content of the revolution==the creation of a democratic political system, economically equivalent to (1) free development of capitalism; (2) abolition of the survivals of serfdom; (3) the raising of the living and cultural standards of the masses, especially of the lower strata. [America and Russia, pauperism and capitalism.]

Mythenbildung,[1] as the inevitable consequence of the historical position of the bourgeois democrats! [Cf. the lawyers’ resolutions.[4]] All are “socialists”....

Umwälzung,[2] Umsturz[3] ... Where? Among the intelligentsia? Among the lawyers? Nil. Only among the proletariat and the p e a s a n t r y. What can guarantee their con quests? Only the republic, the democratic dictatorship.


[1] Myth-making.—Ed.

[2] Revolution, upheaval.—Ed.

[3] Overthrow.—Ed.

[4] The reference is to the resolutions of the All-Russian Lawyers’ Congress held in St. Petersburg on March 28-30 (April 10-12), 1905. These resolutions are criticised in the leading article of Proletary, No. 2, June 3 (May 21), 1905.


On the Provisional Revolutionary Government

Published on June 3 and 9 (May 21 and 27), 1905 in the newspaper Proletary, Nos. 2 and 3.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 461-481


Article One

Plekhanov’s Reference to History

The Third Congress of the Party. adopted a resolution on the question of the provisional revolutionary government. The resolution expresses the position we have taken in Vperyod. We now propose to examine in detail all objections to our position and to clarify from all points of consideration the true doctrinal significance and the practical implications of the Congress resolution. We shall begin with Plekhanov ’s attempt to deal with the question strictly as a point of principle. Plekhanov entitled his article “On the Question of the Seizure of Power”. He criticises the “tactics aimed [evidently by Vperyod] at the seizure of political power by the proletariat”. As everyone who knows Vperyod is perfectly well aware, it has never raised the question of the seizure of power nor ever aimed at any “tactics of seizure”. Plekhanov seeks to substitute a fictitious issue for the real issue. We have only to recollect the course of the controversy to see this.

The question was first raised by Martynov in his famous Two Dictatorships. He stated that if our Party took the Lead in the uprising and the uprising were successful, this would inevitably bring about our participation in the provisional revolutionary government, which participation was inadmissible in principle and could only lead to disaster and discredit. Iskra defended this view. Vperyod contended that, on the contrary, such an outcome was highly desirable, that Social-Democratic participation in a provisional revolutionary government, which would be tantamount to the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, was permissible, and that without such a dictatorship the republic could not be maintained. Thus, in answering   the question posed by Martynov, both camps to the dispute proceeded from two like premises but reached different conclusions. Both assumed: 1) that the party of the proletariat would take the lead in the uprising, and 2) that the uprising would be victorious and the autocracy completely over thrown; they differed in the evaluation of the tactical conclusions to be drawn from these premises. Does this bear any resemblance to “tactics aimed [!] at the seizure [?] of power”? Is it not obvious that Plekhanov seeks to evade Martynov’s presentation of the question discussed by Iskra and Vperyod? At issue was the question whether a victorious uprising would be dangerous or disastrous, since it might necessitate participation in a provisional revolutionary government. The point that Plekhanov wants to argue is whether the tactics should be aimed at seizure of power. We are afraid that Plekhanov’s wish (which can only be understood as a desire to obscure Martynov’s presentation of the question) will remain a pious wish, since this is a subject that no one has discussed or is arguing.

What this substitution of the question signifies for the whole of Plekhanov’s argumentation is clearly revealed in the “virtuosi-of-philistinism” incident. Plekhanov cannot get over this expression, which was used by Vperyod. He reverts to it time and again, sternly and angrily assuring his readers that Vperyod has dared to apply this none too flattering epithet to Marx and Engels, that Vperyod was beginning to “criticise” Marx, etc., etc. Seeing that Plekhanov’s aim was to rehabilitate Martynov and to give Vperyod a “dressing down”, we quite understand how pleased he would have been had Vperyod said anything like the nonsense he attributes to it. The point is that “Vperyod” did not say anything of the kind, and any attentive reader could easily challenge Plekhanov, who has confused an interesting question of principle by meaningless and paltry cavil.

Tedious though it is to answer cavils, the notorious “virtuosi-of-philistinism” incident will have to be explained at length. Vperyod reasoned as follows. We all talk of achieving the republic. To achieve it in reality, we must “strike together” at the autocracy—“we” being the revolutionary people, the proletariat and the peasantry. But that is not all. It is not enough even to “strike the finishing blow together”   at the autocracy, that is, completely to overthrow the autocratic government. We shall also have to “repulse together” the inevitable desperate attempts to restore the deposed autocracy. In a revolutionary epoch this “repulsing together” is, in effect, the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, the participation of the proletariat in. the revolutionary government. Therefore, they who seek to frighten the working class with the perspective of such a dictatorship, as people like Martynov and L. Martov have done in the new Iskra, contradict their own slogan of struggling for the republic and consummating the revolution. At bottom, these people reason as if they wanted to restrict, to prune down their struggle for freedom—in a word, to measure off in advance the tiniest of modest gains, some sort of skimpy constitution in place of the republic Such people, said Vperyod, vulgarise, philistine fashion, the well-known Marxist thesis concerning the three major forces of the revolution in the nineteenth (and the twentieth) century and its three main stages. The gist of this thesis is that the first stage of revolution is the restriction of absolutism, which satisfies the bourgeoisie; the second is the attainment of the republic, which satisfies the “people”—the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie at large; the third is the socialist revolution, which alone can satisfy the proletariat. “That picture, by and large, is correct,” Vperyod said. We actually have here an ascent by three different schematic stages, varying according to the classes, which, at best, will accompany us in this ascent. But if we interpret this correct Marxist scheme of three stages to mean that we must measure off in advance, before any ascent begins, a very modest part, let us say, not more than one step, if, in keeping with this scheme and before any ascent begins, we sought to “draw up a plan of action in the revolutionary epoch”, we should be virtuosi of philistinism.

This was Vperyod’s line of thought in issue No. 14.[1] And it was on the concluding italicised words that Plekhanov decided to pick. Vperyod, he triumphantly declared, thereby dubs Marx a philistine, because it was in keeping with   this scheme that Marx drew up his plan of activity in the revolutionary epoch itself!

The evidence? The evidence is that in 1850, when the revolutionary people of Germany was defeated in the struggle of 1848-49 because it failed to deal the autocracy the finishing blow, when the liberal bourgeoisie had secured a skimpy constitution and passed over to the side of reaction— in a word, when the German democratic-revolutionary movement had only ascended the first step and halted for want of strength to mount higher, ... then Marx said that the next revolutionary ascent would be an ascent to the second step.

You smile, dear reader? Plekhanov’s syllogism is in fact somewhat—shall we say, to put it mildly—“dialectic”. Because Marx, in the corresponding concrete situation of a concrete democratic revolution, said that the ascent to the first step would be followed by the ascent to the second, therefore only “critics” of Marx could apply the word philistines to people who, before the first step is ascended, try to scare us with the awful perspective (in the event of an exceptionally well organised and accomplished uprising) of having to leap two steps at once.

No, indeed, it is not a nice thing to “criticise” Marx ... but neither is it nice to cite Marx maladroitly. Martynov was unfortunate in interpreting Marx; Plekhanov was unfortunate in defending Martynov.

Let no hypercritical reader infer from what we have said that we advocate “tactics aimed” at unconditionally leaping over one step, regardless of the correlation of the social forces. No, we advocate no such tactics. We only seek to prevent the proletariat from coming under the influence of people capable of talking of the republic and of carrying through the revolution while at the same time frightening themselves and others with the possibility of having to participate in a democratic dictatorship. We pointed out in Vperyod, No. 14, that after the present revolutionary upsurge, reaction would inevitably set in, but that the more freedom we win now and the more ruthlessly we suppress and destroy the counter-revolutionary forces in the epoch of the possible (and desirable) democratic dictatorship, the less will reaction be able to take away from us. We also pointed   out in the same issue that the very question of this dictatorship makes no sense unless one assumes a course of events in which the democratic revolution goes to the length of completely overthrowing absolutism and establishing the republic without stopping midway.

Let us now pass from the “virtuosi-of-philistinism” incident to the substance of the famous Address (of the Central Committee of the Communist League to the League members, March 1850) which Plekhanov cites. In this extremely interesting and informative Address (deserving to be translated fully into Russian) Marx deals with the concrete political situation in Germany in 1850. He indicates the likelihood of another political outbreak, establishes the inevitability of the transition of power to the republican, petty-bourgeois democratic party in the event of a revolution, and analyses the tactics of the proletariat. Dealing with the tactics before and during the revolution, and following the victory of the petty-bourgeois democrats, Marx urges the necessity of creating “an independent secret and open organisation of the workers’ party”; he struggles with might and main against “its reduction to the role of appendage of the official bourgeois-democratic party”; and he stresses the importance of arming the workers, of forming an independent proletarian guard, and of having the proletarians keep a close watch on the treacherous petty-bourgeois democracy, etc.

There is not a word in the Address on the participation of the workers’ party in a provisional revolutionary government, or on the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. From that Plekhanov infers that Marx “apparently regarded as inconceivable the idea that the political representatives of the revolutionary proletariat could work together with those of the petty bourgeoisie to create a new social order”. The logic of this deduction limps. Marx does not raise the question of the participation of the workers’ party in a provisional revolutionary government, but Plekhanov concludes that Marx decides this question generally and in principle in a definitely negative sense. Marx speaks only of the concrete situation; Plekhanov draws a general conclusion without at all considering the question in its concreteness. Yet one has only to scan some passages in the Address which Plekhanov   has omitted to see that his conclusions are entirely false.

The Address was written from the experience of two years in a revolutionary epoch, 1848 and 1849. Marx formulates the results of this experience as follows: “At the same time [i. e., in 1848-49] the former firm organisation of the League was considerably slackened. A large part of the members who directly participated in the revolutionary movement believed the time for secret societies to have gone by and public activities alone sufficient. The individual circles and communities [Gemeinden] allowed their connections with the Central Committee to become loose and gradually dormant. Consequently, while the democratic party, the party of the petty bourgeoisie, organised itself more and more in Germany, the workers’ party lost its only firm hold, remained organised at the most in separate localities for local purposes, and in the general movement thus came completely under the domination and leadership of the petty-bourgeois democrats.”[2] On the following page of the Address Marx declares: “At this moment, when a new revolution is imminent ... it is extremely important that the workers’ party ... act in the most organised, most unanimous, and most independent fashion possible, if it is not to be exploited and taken in tow again by the bourgeoisie as it was in 1848.”

Consider the meaning of these categorical statements! After two years of open revolution, after the victory of the popular uprising in Berlin, after the convocation of a revolutionary parliament, after part of the country had been in open revolt and the power had passed temporarily into the hands of the revolutionary governments, Marx records the defeat of the revolutionary people, and as regards party organisation, a gain for the petty-bourgeois democrats and a loss for the workers’ party. Is it not as plain as plain can be that this implies a political situation in which it would   have been pointless to raise the question of the participation of the workers’ party in the government? After two years of a revolutionary epoch, when Marx, for nine months, had openly published the most revolutionary newspaper of the workers’ party, it had to be recorded that the party was completely disorganised, that there was no clearly marked proletarian current in the mainstream (Stephan Born’s[4] Workers’ Brotherhoods were too negligible), and that the proletariat had fallen completely, not only under the domination of the bourgeoisie, but under its leadership! Obviously, economic relations were still extremely undeveloped, there was practically no large-scale industry, nor was there an independent workers’ movement of any appreciable size, and the petty bourgeoisie was in complete control. Naturally, under such circumstances, the idea of participation by the workers’ party in a provisional government could never be entertained by a writer who was dealing with the concrete situation. Naturally, in his Address, Marx had to knock (pardon the expression) into the heads of the Communist League members axioms, which today seem elementary to us. He had to demonstrate the need for workers to nominate their own candidates in elections independently of the bourgeois democrats. He had to refute the democratic phrase mongering to the effect that the workers’ separation would “split” the democratic party (mark well!—you can only split what was yesterday united and what in the ideological sense is still united). Marx had to warn the members of the Communist League not to be carried away by such phrases. On behalf of the Central Committee of the League, he had to promise to convene a congress of the workers’ party at the first opportunity with the object of centralising the workers’ clubs; in the revolutionary years of 1848-49 the conditions were still lacking for anyone to entertain the idea of convening a separate congress of the workers’ party.

The conclusion is obvious: Marx, in the famous Address, does not even mention the question whether it is admissible in principle for the proletariat to participate in a provisional revolutionary government. He deals exclusively with the concrete situation that prevailed in Germany in 1850. He does not say a word about the participation of the Communist   League in a revolutionary government, because, under the conditions then prevailing, the idea of such participation in the name of the workers’ party for the purpose of the democratic dictatorship could not have arisen.

Marx’s idea consists in the following: We, the German Social-Democrats of 1850, are unorganised, we were defeated in the first period of the revolution and were taken completely in tow by the bourgeoisie; we must organise independently—absolutely and under all circumstances independently—if we do not wish to be caught lagging again in an eventual victory of the organisationally strengthened and powerful petty-bourgeois party.

Martynov’s idea consists in the following: We, the Russian Social-Democrats of 1905, are organised in an independent party and we want to march at the head of the petty-bourgeois people for the first assault on the fortress of tsarism. But if we organise the assault too efficiently and carry it through successfully—which heaven forfend!—we may have to participate in a provisional revolutionary government, or even in the democratic dictatorship. Such participation is inadmissible in principle.

Does Plekhanov seriously want to convince us that Martynov can be defended according to Marx? Plekhanov must take the readers of Iskra for children. All we can say is: Marxism is one thing; Martynovism, another.

Before concluding with the Address we must clarify an other incorrect view of Plekhanov. He rightly points out that in March 1850, when the Address was written, Marx believed that capitalism was in a state of senile decay and the socialist revolution seemed to him “quite near”. Shortly after wards Marx corrected this mistake; as early as September 15, 1850, he broke with Schapper (Schapper found himself with Willich in a minority in the League and resigned from it), who had succumbed to bourgeois-democratic revolutionism or utopianism to the extent of saying, “We must achieve power at once, otherwise we may as well go to sleep.” Marx answered that it was incorrect to regard solely one’s own will, instead of the actual conditions, as the motive force of the revolution. The proletariat might still have   to face fifteen, twenty, or fifty years of civil wars and international conflicts “not only to change the conditions, but to change yourselves [the proletarians] and to render yourselves fit for political rule”.[5] Plekhanov briefly mentions this change in Marx’s views and concludes:

“They [Marx and Engels after this “change”] would have formulated the political tasks of the proletariat on the assumption that the democratic system had come to stay for a fairly long time. But for that very reason they would have all the more emphatically condemned the participation of socialists in a petty-bourgeois government.” (Iskra, No. 96.)

Plekhanov’s inference is entirely false. It brings us back to the confusion of socialist dictatorship and democratic dictatorship for which we have so often had occasion to criticise L. Martov and Martynov. Marx and Engels in 1850 did not differentiate between democratic dictatorship and socialist dictatorship, or, rather, they did not mention the former at all, since they considered capitalism to be in a state of senile decay and socialism near. Nor did they, for the same reason, differentiate at the time between a minimum and a maximum programme. If this distinction is to be made (as it is being made now by all of us, Marxists, who are combating the bourgeois-democratic revolutionariness of the “Socialists-Revolutionaries”, because they do not under stand the distinction), then the question of the socialist and the democratic dictatorship must be dealt with separately. In not so doing, Plekhanov is guilty of inconsistency. By choosing an evasive formulation and speaking in general terms of “the participation of socialists in a petty-bourgeois government”, he substitutes the question of the socialist dictatorship for the clearly, definitely and precisely presented question of the democratic dictatorship. He con founds (to cite the comparison of Vperyod[3] ) the participation of Millerand in a Cabinet together with Galliffet in the epoch immediately preceding the socialist revolution with that of Varlin in a revolutionary government together with petty bourgeois democrats who defended and safeguarded the republic.

Marx and Engels considered socialism near in 1850; hence, they underestimated the democratic gains, which seemed to them to be well-established in view of the unquestionable victory of the petty-bourgeois democratic party.[6] Twenty-five years later, in 1875, Marx drew attention to the undemocratic system in Germany—“military despotism, embellished with parliamentary forms”.[7] Thirty-five years later, in 1885, Engels predicted that in the coming European upheaval the power in Germany would pass to the petty-bourgeois democrats.[8] What follows from this is the very reverse of what Plekhanov seeks to prove. If Marx and Eng els had realised that the democratic system was bound to last for a fairly long time, they would have attached all the more importance to the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry with the object of consolidating the republic, of completely eradicating all survivals of absolutism, and of clearing the arena for the battle for socialism. They would all the more strongly have condemned the tail-enders, who, on the eve of the democratic revolution, were capable of frightening the proletariat with the possibility of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship.

Plekhanov is aware of the weakness of his position, which is based on a misinterpretation of the Address. He therefore makes the discreet reservation that his reference to history does not claim to exhaust the subject, although he draws “exhaustively” categorical conclusions based on nothing beyond a reference which has no bearing on the matter, with no attempt even to examine the question posed concretely by Vperyod. Plekhanov seeks to impute to Vperyod both the desire to “criticise” Marx and the point of view of Mach and Avenarius. The attempt but makes us smile. Plekhanov’s position must be weak indeed if he can find no target for his darts among Vperyod’s actual assertions but needs must contrive a target from subjects as foreign to Vperyod as to the point in question. Finally, Plekhanov produces another piece of evidence, which he thinks “incontrovertible”. Actually, this evidence (a letter of Engels to Turati written in 1894) is worse than useless.

From Plekhanov’s version of this letter (unfortunately he does not quote it in full and does not say whether it was published and. where), it appears that Engels had to demonstrate   to Turati the difference between a socialist and a petty-bourgeois revolution. No more need be said, Comrade Plekhanov! Turati is an Italian Millerand, a Bernsteinian, whom Giolitti had offered a portfolio in his Cabinet. Turati evidently confounded two revolutions of an entirely different class content. He imagined he would be furthering the interests of proletarian rule; but Engels explained to him that in the given situation in Italy in 1894 (i. e., several decades after Italy’s ascent to the “first step”, after the conquest of political freedom, which enabled the proletariat to organise openly, widely, and independently!), he, Turati, in a Cabinet of the victorious petty-bourgeois party, would actually be defending and promoting the interests of an alien class, the petty bourgeoisie. What we have here, consequently, is a case of Millerandism. It was against this confounding of Millerandism with the democratic dictatorship that Vperyod spoke out; but Plekhanov made no mention whatever of Vperyod’s arguments. This is a characteristic instance of the false position against which Engels had long warned the leaders of the extreme parties, that is, a position in which they fail to grasp the true nature of the revolution and unconsciously further the interests of an “alien” class. In the name of all that is sacred, Comrade Plekhanov, what on earth has this to do with the question raised by Martynov and analysed by Vperyod? If there is the danger that people who have risen to the first step may confound the second step with the third, can this danger serve as justification for frightening us, as we are about to mount the first step, with the perspective of possibly having to take two at once?

No, Plekhanov’s “brief reference to history” proves precisely nothing. His basic conclusion that “to participate in a revolutionary government together with representatives of the petty bourgeoisie would be a betrayal of the proletariat” is not in the least corroborated by references to the situation in Germany in 1850 or in Italy in 1894, which were radically different from the situation in Russia in January and May 1905. These references add nothing to the question of the democratic dictatorship and of the provisional revolutionary government. And if Plekhanov should want to apply his conclusion to this question, if he considers every participation of the proletariat in a revolutionary government   in the course of the struggle for the republic, in the course of the democratic revolution, inadmissible in principle, we undertake to prove to him that this is an anarchistic “principle” unequivocally condemned by Engels. We shall demonstrate this point in our next article.


[1] See p. 290 of this volume—Ed.

[2] Ansprache der Zentralbehörde an den Bund, von März 1850, K. Marx: Enthüllungen über den Kommunistenprocess zu Köln, 1885, Anhang IX, S. 75. (Address of the Central Committee to the League, March 1850, K. Marx: Revelations Concerning the Cologne Trials of the Communists, 1885, Appendix IX, p. 75.—Ed.) The italics in the quotation are ours.—Lenin

[3] See p. 282 of this volume.—Ed.

[4] Stephan Born (1824-98)—representative of the German labour movement, participant in the revolution of 1848, member of the Communist League (Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Moscow, 1958, Vol. II, pp. 352-53).

[5] See Karl Marx, “Enthüllungen über den Kommunistenprozess zu Köln”, Berlin, 1952, S. 39.

[6] Lenin refers to the Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in March 1850 (see Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Moscow, 1958, Vol. I, pp. 106-17).

[7] See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Moscow, 1958, Vol. 1, pp. 106-17.

[8] Lenin refers to Engels’ “On the History of the Communist League” (see Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Moscow, 1958, Vol. II,p. 338).

Article Two

Only From Below, or From Above As Well As From Below?

In our previous article analysing Plekhanov’s reference to history we showed that he draws unwarranted general conclusions on points of principle from statements by Marx, which apply wholly and exclusively to the concrete situation in Germany in 1850. That concrete situation fully explains why Marx did not raise, and at that time could not have raised, the question of the Communist League’s participation in a provisional revolutionary government. We shall now proceed to examine the general, fundamental question of the admissibility of such participation.

In the first place, the question at issue must be accurately presented. In this respect, fortunately, we are able to use a formulation given by our opponents and thus avoid arguments on the essence of the dispute. Iskra, No. 93, says: “The best way towards achieving such organisation [the organisation of the proletariat into a party in opposition to the bourgeois-democratic state] is to develop the bourgeois revolution from below [Iskra’s italics] through the pressure of the proletariat on the democrats in power.” Iskra goes on to say that Vperyod “wants this pressure of the proletariat on the revolution to proceed not only ’from below’, not only from the street, but also from above, from the marble halls of the provisional government”.

The issue is thus clearly stated. Iskra wants pressure from below, Vperyod wants it “from above as well as from be low”. Pressure from below is pressure by the citizens on the revolutionary government. Pressure from above is pressure by the revolutionary government on the citizens. Some limit their activity to pressure from below; others do not agree with such a limitation and demand that pressure from   below be supplemented by pressure from above. The issue, consequently, reduces itself to the question contained in our subtitle: only from below, or from above as well as from below? Some consider it wrong in principle for the proletariat, in the epoch of the democratic revolution, to exert pressure from above, “from the marble halls of the provisional government”. Others consider it wrong in principle for the proletariat, in the epoch of the democratic revolution, to reject entirely pressure from above, to renounce participation in the provisional revolutionary government. Thus, the question is not whether pressure from above is probable in a given situation, or whether it is practicable under a given alignment of forces. We are for the moment not considering any concrete situation, and in view of the numerous attempts to substitute one question at issue for another, we urgently ask the readers to bear this in mind. We are dealing with the general question of principle, whether in the epoch of the democratic revolution it is admissible to pass from pressure from below to pressure from above.

To elucidate this question, let us first refer to the history of the tactical views of the founders of scientific socialism. Were there no disputes in this history over the general question of the admissibility of pressure from above? There was such a dispute. It was caused by the Spanish insurrection of the summer of 1873. Engels assessed the lessons which the socialist proletariat should learn from that insurrection in an article entitled “The Bakuninists at Work”, printed in the German Social-Democratic newspaper Volksstaat[2] in 1873 and reprinted in the pamphlet Internationales acts dem Volksstaat in 1894. Let us see what general conclusions Engels drew.

On February 9, 1873, King Amadeo of Spain abdicated the throne—“the first king to go on strike”, as Engels facetiously remarks. On February 12 the republic was proclaimed, soon to be followed by a Carlist revolt in the Basque provinces. April 10 saw the election of a Constituent Assembly which, on June 8, proclaimed the federal republic. On June 11 a new Cabinet was formed by Pi y Margall. In the commission charged with drafting the constitution the extreme republicans, known as the “Intransigentes”, were not represented.   And when, on July 3, the new constitution was proclaimed the Intransigentes rose in revolt. Between July 5 and 11 they gained the upper hand in the Seville, Granada, Alcoy, Valencia, and several other provinces. The government of Salmeron, who succeeded Pi y Margall when the latter resigned, sent troops against the rebel provinces. The revolt was suppressed after a more or less stiff resistance. Cádiz fell on July 26, 1873, and Cartagena on January 11, 1874. Such are the brief chronological facts with which Engels introduces his subject.

In evaluating the lessons to be drawn from these events, Engels stresses, first, that the struggle for the republic in Spain was not and could not have been a struggle for the socialist revolution. “Spain,” he says, “is such an industrially backward country that there can be no thought of an immediate complete emancipation there of the working class of that country. Before it comes to that, Spain will have to pass through various preliminary stages of development and remove a considerable number of obstacles from its path. The republic offered that country the chance of going through those preliminary stages in the shortest possible time and of quickly surmounting the obstacles. But that chance could be utilised only through the active political intervention of the Spanish working class. The mass of the workers felt this. They strove everywhere to have a part in the events, to take advantage of the opportunity for action, instead of leaving the owning classes, as heretofore, a clear field for action and intrigues.

It was thus a question of struggle for the republic, a question of the democratic, not of the socialist, revolution. The question of the workers’ taking a hand in the events presented itself in a twofold aspect at the time. On the one hand, the Bakuninists (or “Alliancists”—-the founders of the “Alliance” for struggle against the Marxist “Inter national”) negated political activity, participation in elections, etc. On the other hand, they were against participation in a revolution which did not aim at the immediate and complete emancipation of the working class; they were against participation of whatever kind in a revolutionary government. It is this second aspect of the question that holds special interest for us in the light of our dispute.   It was this aspect, incidentally, which gave rise to the formulation of the difference in principle between the two tactical slogans.

“The Bakuninists,” says Engels, “had for years been propagating the idea that all revolutionary action from above was pernicious, and that everything must be organised and carried out from below upward.”

Hence, the principle, “only from below” is an anarchist principle.

Engels demonstrates the utter absurdity of this principle in the epoch of the democratic revolution. It naturally and inevitably leads to the practical conclusion that the establishment of revolutionary governments is a betrayal of the working class. The Bakuninists drew this very conclusion, which they elevated into a principle, namely, that “the establishment of a revolutionary government is but a new deception and a new betrayal of the working class.”

We have here, as the reader will see, the same two “principles” which the new Iskra has arrived at, namely: (I) that only revolutionary action from below is admissible, as opposed to the tactics of “from above as well as from be low”; 2) that participation in a provisional revolutionary government is a betrayal of the working class. Both these new-Iskra principles are anarchist principles. The actual course of the struggle for the republic in Spain revealed the utter preposterousness and the utterly reactionary essence of both these principles.

Engels brings this truth home with several episodes from the Spanish revolution. The revolution, for example, breaks out in Alcoy, a manufacturing town of comparatively recent origin with a population of 30,000. The workers’ insurrection is victorious despite its leadership by the Bakuninists, who will, in principle, have nothing to do with the idea of organising the revolution. After the event the Bakuninists began to boast that they had become “masters of the situation”. And how did these “masters” deal with their “situation”, asks Engels. First of all, they established in Alcoy a “Welfare Committee”, that is, a revolutionary government. Mind you, it was these selfsame Alliancists (Bakuninists), who, only ten months before the revolution, had   resolved at their Congress, on September 15, 1872, that “every organisation of a political, so-called provisional or revolutionary power can only be a new fraud and would be as dangerous to the proletariat as all existing governments”. Rather than refute this anarchist phrase-mongering, Engels confines himself to the sarcastic remark that it was the sup porters of this resolution who found themselves “members of this provisional and revolutionary governmental power” in Alcoy. Engels treats these gentlemen with the scorn they deserve for the “utter helplessness, confusion, and passivity” which they revealed when in power. With equal contempt Engels would have answered the charges of “Jacobinism”, so dear to the Girondists of Social-Democracy. He shows that in a number of other towns, e.g., in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (a port of 26,000 inhabitants near Cádiz) “the Alliancists ...here too, in opposition to their anarchist principles, formed a revolutionary government”. He reproves them for “not having known what to do with their power”. Knowing well that the Bakuninist labour leaders participated in provisional governments together with the Intransigentes, i.e., together with the republicans, the representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, Engels reproves the Bakuninists, not for their participation in the government (as he should have done according to the “principles” of the new Iskra), but for their poor organisation, the feebleness of their participation, their subordination to the leadership of the bourgeois republican gentry. With what withering sarcasm Engels would have flayed those people who, in the epoch of the revolution, try to minimise the importance of “technical” and military leadership, may incidentally be seen from the fact that he reproved the Bakuninist labour leaders for having, as members of the revolutionary government, left the “political and military leadership” to the bourgeois republican gentry, while they fed the workers with bombastic phrases and paper schemes of “social” reforms.

A true Jacobin of Social-Democracy, Engels not only appreciated the importance of action from above, he not only viewed participation in a revolutionary government together with the republican bourgeoisie as perfectly legitimate, but he demanded such participation, as well as energetic military initiative on the part of the revolutionary power,   considering it his duty to give practical and guiding military advice.

“Nevertheless,” he says, “the uprising, even if begun in a brainless way, would have had a good chance to succeed, had it been conducted with some intelligence,[1] if only in the manner of the Spanish military revolts, in which the garrison of one town rises, marches on to the next, sweeping along with it the town’s garrison previously worked on by propaganda, and, growing into an avalanche, the insurgents press on to the capital, until a fortunate engagement, or the crossing over to their side of the troops sent against them, decides the victory. This method was especially applicable in the given situation. The insurgents had long been organised everywhere into volunteer battalions, whose discipline, true, was pitiable, yet assuredly not more pitiable than that of the remnants of the old, largely demoralised Spanish army. The government’s only dependable troops were the gendarmes, and these were scattered all over the country. The thing was, above all, to prevent these gendarmes from being drawn together, which could be done only by a bold assumption of the offensive in the open field. Such a course of action would not have involved much danger, since the government could only put up against the volunteers equally undisciplined troops. For anyone bent on winning there was no other way.”

That is how a founder of scientific socialism reasoned when faced with the problems of an uprising and direct action in the epoch of a revolutionary upheaval! Although the uprising was begun by the petty-bourgeois republicans and although confronting the proletariat was neither the question of the socialist revolution nor that of elementary political freedom, Engels set very great store on the highly active participation of the workers in the struggle for the republic; he demanded of the proletariat’s leaders that they should subordinate their entire activity to the need for   achieving victory in the struggle, which had begun. Engels himself, as a leader of the proletariat, even went into the details of military organisation; he was not averse to using the old-fashioned methods of struggle by military revolts when victory demanded it; he attached paramount importance to offensive action and the centralisation of the revolutionary forces. He bitterly reproved the Bakuninists for having made a principle of “what in the German Peasant War and in the German uprisings of May 1849 was an unavoidable evil, namely, the state of disunion and isolation of the revolutionary forces, which enabled the same government troops to put down one uprising after another." Engels’ views on the conduct of the uprising, on the organisation of the revolution, and on the utilisation of the revolutionary governmental power are as far removed from the tail-ist views of the new Iskra as heaven is from earth.

Summarising the lessons of the Spanish revolution, Engels established in the first place that “the Bakuninists, as soon as they were confronted with a serious revolutionary situation, were compelled to give up their whole former programme”. To begin with, they had to scrap the principle of abstention from political activity and from elections, the principle of the “abolition of the state”. Secondly, “they gave up the principle that the workers must not participate in any revolution that did not aim at the immediate and complete emancipation of the proletariat, and they them selves participated in an avowedly purely bourgeois movement”. Thirdly, and this conclusion answers precisely the point in dispute, “they trampled under foot the article of faith they had only just proclaimed— that the establishment of a revolutionary government is but a new deception and a new betrayal of the working class; they did this, sitting coolly in the government committees of the various towns, almost everywhere as an impotent minority outvoted and politically exploited by the bourgeois”. By their inability to lead the uprising, by splitting the revolutionary forces instead of centralising them, by leaving the leadership of the revolution to the bourgeois, and by dissolving the solid and strong organisation of the International, “the Bakuninists in Spain gave us an unsurpassable example of how not to make a revolution”.

*     *

Summing up the foregoing, we arrive at the following conclusions:

1) Limitation, in principle, of revolutionary action to pressure from below and renunciation of pressure also from above is anarchism.

2) He who does not understand the new tasks in the epoch of revolution, the tasks of action from above, he who is unable to determine the conditions and the programme for such action, has no idea whatever of the tasks of the proletariat in every democratic revolution.

3) The principle that for Social-Democracy participation in a provisional revolutionary government with the bourgeoisie is inadmissible, that every such participation is a betrayal of the working class, is a principle of anarchism.

4) Every “serious revolutionary situation” confronts the party of the proletariat with the task of giving purposive leadership to the uprising, of organising the revolution, of centralising all the revolutionary forces, of boldly launching a military offensive, and of making the most energetic use of the revolutionary governmental power.

5) Marx and Engels could not have approved, and never would have approved, the tactics .of the new Iskra at the present revolutionary moment; for these tactics are nothing short of a repetition of all the errors enumerated above. Marx and Engels would have called the new Iskra’s doctrinal position a contemplation of the “posterior” of the proletariat, a rehash of anarchist errors.

In the next article we shall discuss the tasks of the provisional revolutionary government.[3]


[1] Wäre er nur mit einigem Verstand geleitet warden. Poor Engels! A pity he was not acquainted with the new Iskra! He would have known then how disastrous, noxious, utopian, bourgeois, technically one-sided, and conspiratorially narrow is the “Jacobin” idea that an insurrection can be conducted (geleitet werden)!—Lenin

[2] Der Volksstaat (The People’s State)—Central Organ of German Social-Democracy, published in Leipzig from 1869 to 1876, edited by Wilhelm Liebknecht. Marx and Engels contributed to the news paper.

[3] Lenin’s third article on the subject of “The Provisional Revolutionary Government” did not appear in print. Lenin dealt with the question of the aims of the provisional revolutionary government   in his “Sketch of a Provisional Revolutionary Government” (see pp. 534-36 of this volume), in his article “The Revolutionary Army and the Revolutionary Government” (see pp. 559-67 of this volume), and in his book Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution.




Proletary, No. 3, June 9 (May 27), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 482-485.

The naval battle in the Korea Strait has captured the attention of the political press the world over. At first the tsarist government tried to conceal the bitter truth from its loyal subjects, but it soon realised the hopelessness of such an attempt. In any case it would have been impossible to conceal the utter rout of the entire Russian navy.

In appraising the political significance of the last naval battle, we can only repeat what we said in Vperyod, No. 2,[1] on the fall of Port Arthur. The complete military debacle of tsarist Russia had become evident by then, but the Baltic squadron still gave the Russian patriots a ray of hope. All realised that the outcome of the war depended on victory at sea. The autocracy understood that an adverse outcome of the war would be tantamount to a victory of the “internal enemy”, viz., of the revolution. It, therefore, staked its all. Hundreds of millions of rubles were spent on hastily dispatching the Baltic fleet, motley crews were scraped together, final preparations to get the warships into sea trim were rushed through, and old tubs were added to the new and powerful battle-ships to increase the total number of craft. The great armada—as huge and unwieldy, as absurd, help less, and monstrous as the whole Russian Empire—put to sea, expending a fortune in coal and maintenance, making itself the laughing-stock of Europe, especially after its brilliant victory over the fishing smacks, and grossly violating all the usages and principles of neutrality. According to the most conservative estimates this armada cost nearly 300,000,000 rubles, besides 100,000,000 rubles on the expedition.   Altogether 400,000,000 rubles were thrown away on this last war gamble of the tsarist autocracy.

Now this last gamble, too, has failed. Everyone had expected the defeat of the Russian fleet, but no one had thought it would be so crushing. Like a horde of savages, the Russian ships flung themselves headlong upon the Japanese fleet, which was magnificently armed and equipped with the most up-to-date means of defence. After a two-day battle, thirteen of Russia’s twenty warships manned by from twelve to fifteen thousand, were sunk or destroyed, four were captured, and only one (the Almaz) escaped and reached Vladivostok. More than half the crews were killed or drowned, and Rozhdestvensky “himself” and his right-hand man, Nebogatov, were taken prisoner, while the Japanese fleet came out of the engagement unscathed, except for the loss of three destroyers.

Russia’s naval strength has been completely destroyed. The war has been lost irretrievably. The complete expulsion of the Russian troops from Manchuria and the seizure of Sakhalin and Vladivostok by the Japanese are now only a matter of time. We are witnessing, not just a military defeat, but the complete military collapse of the autocracy.

With every new blow struck by the Japanese, the significance of this collapse, as the collapse of the entire political system of tsarism, grows clearer both to Europe and to the whole Russian people. Everything is up in arms against the autocracy: the wounded national pride of the big and petty bourgeoisie, the outraged pride of the army, the bitter feeling over the loss of hundreds of thousands of young lives in a senseless military adventure, the resentment against the embezzlement of hundreds of millions from the public funds, the fears of an inevitable financial collapse and a protracted economic crisis as a result of the war, and the dread of a formidable people’s revolution which (in the opinion of the bourgeoisie) the tsar could and should have avoided by means of timely and “reasonable” concessions. The demand for peace is spreading far and wide. The liberal press is indignant. Even the most moderate elements, like the landowners of the “Shipov” trend, are beginning to utter threats,and even the sycophantic Novoye Vremya is demanding the immediate convening of representatives of the people.

The European bourgeoisie, that most faithful prop of the tsarist government, is also beginning to lose patience. It is alarmed at the inevitable realignment in international relations, at the growing power of the young and fresh Japan, and the loss of a military ally in Europe. It is disturbed over the fate of the thousands of millions which it has so generously lent to the autocracy. It is seriously perturbed by the revolution in Russia, which is unduly exciting the European proletariat and may lead to a revolutionary conflagration on a world scale. In the name of “friendship” with tsarism it appeals to its common sense, insists on the necessity of peace—peace with Japan, and peace with the liberal Russian bourgeoisie. Europe does not for a moment shut its eyes to the fact that peace with Japan can now be bought only at a very high price; but it figures out in sober and business-like fashion that every extra month of war abroad and of revolution at home is bound to raise the price still higher and increase the danger of a revolutionary explosion that would blow the entire policy of “concessions” away like whiffs of smoke. Europe understands that it is terribly difficult, almost impossible, for the autocracy to call a halt now—it has gone too far for that; and so this bourgeois Europe tries to reassure itself and its ally with roseate dreams.

The following, for example, is from a short article by Cornély entitled “The End of an Epic”, which appeared in Le Siècle, ·a newspaper of the patriotic French bourgeoisie: “Now with the Russians beaten at sea after having been defeated on land, it is incumbent upon their government to conclude peace and reorganise its armed forces. Adventurist governments are sometimes compelled, on the strength of their pretensions or by considerations of security, to involve the peoples over which they rule in war. Since they have staked their very existence on a victorious outcome, they demand sacrifice upon sacrifice from their peoples, thus leading them to ultimate disaster. Such was the history of our two empires in France. Such would have been the his tory of the third empire, if its establishment in our country had met with success.

“Such, on the contrary, is not the position of the Russian Government; this government is deeply rooted among the Russian people, so that common misfortunes do not divide   the government and the people but only cement the bonds between them. A Caesar vanquished is no longer Caesar. An unfortunate tsar may yet remain august and popular.”

Alack and alas! The braggadocio of this chauvinistic French shopkeeper is “all too obvious”. His assurances that the war has caused no rift between the Russian Government and the people are at such variance with the generally known facts that one can only smile, as at some naive and innocent ruse. To warn his friend and ally, the Russian autocrat, of the inevitable ruin towards which he, like a true “Caesar”, is heading blindly and doggedly, the French bourgeois kindly assures this Caesar that he need not resemble other Caesars, that he has a different, a better way out. We soon believe what we desire. The French bourgeoisie is so desirous of having a powerful ally in the person of the tsar that it comforts itself with the romantic fable that misfortune unites the Russian people with its tsar. M. Cornély does not take this fable seriously himself, and still less should we.

Not only the Caesarian governments were given to adventurism, but also the governments of the most legitimate monarchs of a most ancient dynasty. There has been more adventurism in the Russian autocracy, which is a whole century behind the times, than in any of the French empires. It was sheer adventurism that made the autocracy plunge the people into this senseless and shameful war. Now the autocracy is facing the end it deserves. The war has laid bare all its sores, revealed its rottenness to the core, proved its complete alienation from the people, and destroyed the sole pillars of its Caesarian rule. The war has proved a stern trial. The people have already passed sentence on this government of brigands. The revolution will execute the sentence.


[1] See. pp. 47-55 of this volume.—Ed.



The Democratic Tasks of the Revolutionary Proletariat [3]

Proletary, No. 4, June 17 (4), 19O6.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 511-518.

The [Russian] Social Democratic Party, as the conscious exponent of the working-class movement, aims at the complete liberation of the toiling masses from every form of oppression and exploitation. The achievement of this objective—the abolition of private property in the means of production and the creation of the socialist society—calls for a very high development of the productive forces of capitalism and a high degree of organisation of the working class. The full development of the productive forces in modern bourgeois society, a broad, free, and open class struggle, and the political education, training, and rallying of the masses of the proletariat are inconceivable without political freedom. Therefore it has always been the aim of the class-conscious proletariat to wage a determined struggle for complete political freedom and the democratic revolution.

The proletariat is not alone in setting this task before itself. The bourgeoisie, too, needs political freedom. The enlightened members of the propertied classes hung out the banner of liberty long ago; the revolutionary intelligentsia, which comes mainly from these classes, has fought heroically for freedom. But the bourgeoisie as a whole is incapable of waging a determined struggle against the autocracy; it fears to lose in this struggle its property which binds it to the existing order; it fears an all-too revolutionary action of the workers, who will not stop at the democratic revolution but will aspire to the socialist revolution; it fears a complete break with officialdom, with the bureaucracy, whose interests are bound up by a thousand ties with the interests of the propertied classes. For this reason   the bourgeois struggle for liberty is notoriously timorous, inconsistent, and half-hearted. One of the tasks of the proletariat is to prod the bourgeoisie on, to raise before the whole people slogans calling for a complete democratic revolution, to start working boldly and independently for the realisation of these slogans—in a word, to be the vanguard, to take the lead in the struggle for the liberty of the whole people.

In the pursuit of this aim the Russian Social-Democrats have had to fight many a battle against the inconsistency of bourgeois liberalism. Let us recall, for instance, how Mr. Struve began his career, unhampered by the censor, as a political champion of the “liberation” of Russia. He made his début with his preface to the Witte “Memorandum”, in which he advanced the markedly “Shipovian” (to use the current political nomenclature) slogan, “Rights, and an Authoritative Zemstvo”. The Social-Democratic Party exposed the retrogressive, absurd, and reactionary nature of that slogan; it demanded a definite and uncompromising democratic platform, and itself put forward such a platform as an integral part of its Party programme. Social-Democracy had to combat the narrow conception of the aims of democracy which obtained in its own ranks when the so-called Economists did their best to play down these aims, when they advocated the “economic struggle against the employers and the, government”, and insisted that we must start by winning rights, continue with political agitation, and only then gradually (the theory of stages) pass on to political struggle.

Now the political struggle has become vastly extended, the revolution has spread throughout the land, the mildest liberals have become “extremists”; it may therefore seem that historical references to the recent past such as we have just made are out of place, with no bearing on the actual turbulent present. But this may seem so only at first glance. To be sure, such slogans as the demand for a Constituent Assembly and for universal, direct, and equal suffrage by secret ballot (which the Social-Democrats long since and in advance of all presented in their Party programme) have become common property; they have been adopted by the illegal Osvobozhdeniye, incorporated in the programme of   the Osvobozhdeniye League, turned into Zemtsvo slogans, and are now being repeated in every shape and form by the legal press. That Russian bourgeois democracy has made progress in recent years and months cannot be doubted. Bourgeois democracy is learning by experience, is discarding primitive slogans (like the Shipovian “Rights, and an Authoritative Zemstvo”) and is hobbling along behind the revolution. But it is only hobbling along behind; new contradictions between its words and its deeds, between democracy in principle and democracy in “Realpolitik”, are arising in place of the old; for revolutionary developments are making steadily growing demands on democracy. But bourgeois democracy always drags at the tail of events; while adopting more advanced slogans, it always lags behind; it always formulates the slogans several degrees below the level really required in the real revolutionary struggle for real liberty.

Indeed, let us take that now current and generally accepted slogan, “For a Constituent Assembly on the basis of universal, direct, and equal suffrage by secret ballot”. Is that slogan adequate from the standpoint of consistent democracy? Is it adequate in the light of the urgent revolutionary tasks of the present moment? The answer to both these questions can be only in the negative. To be convinced that this is so one has only to examine carefully our Party programme, to which our organisations, unfortunately, do not often refer and which they quote and disseminate all too little. (As a happy exception, worthy of the widest emulation, we note the recent reprint of our Party programme in leaflet form by the Riga, Voronezh, and Moscow committees.) The keynote of our programme, too, is the demand for a popular Constituent Assembly (let us agree, for brevity’s sake, to use the word “popular” as denoting suffrage that is universal, etc.). But this slogan does not stand isolated in our programme. The context and the addenda and notes prevent any miconstruction on the part of those who are least consistent in the struggle for liberty or who even struggle against it. It occurs in our programme in conjunction with the following other slogans: (1) the overthrow of the tsarist autocracy; (2) its replacement by the democratic republic; (3) the sovereignty of the people, safeguarded by a democratic constitution, i.e., the concentration of supreme   governmental authority entirely in the hands of a legislative assembly composed of representatives of the people and forming a single chamber.

Can there be any doubt that every consistent democrat is obligated to accept all these slogans? Why, the very word “democrat”, both by its etymology and by virtue of the political significance it has acquired throughout the history of Europe, denotes an adherent of the sovereignty of the people. It is absurd, therefore, to talk of democracy and in the same breath to reject even a single one of these slogans. But the main contradiction, the contradiction between the desire of the bourgeoisie to preserve private property at all costs and its desire for liberty, is so profound that spokesmen or followers of the liberal bourgeoisie inevitably find themselves in this ridiculous position. As everyone knows, a very broad liberal party is forming Itself in Russia with enormous rapidity, a party which has the adherence of the Osvobozhdeniye League, of the mass of the Zemstvo people, and of newspapers like Nasha Zhizn, Nashi Dni, Syn Otechestva, Russkiye Vedomosti,[1] etc., etc. This liberal-bourgeois party likes to be called the “Constitutional-Democratic” Party. In actual fact, however, as can be seen from the declarations and the programme of the illegal Osvobozhdeniye, it is a monarchist party. It does not want a republic at all. It does not want a unicameral assembly, and it proposes for the Upper House indirect and virtually non-universal suffrage (residence qualification). It is anything but anxious for the supreme governmental authority to pass entirely into the hands of the people (although for window-dressing purposes it is very fond of talking about the transfer of power to the people). It does not want the autocracy to be overthrown. It wants only a division of power among (1) the monarchy; (2) the Upper House (where landowners and capitalists will predominate); and (3) the Lower House, which alone is to be built on democratic principles.

Thus, we have before us the indisputable fact that our “democratic” bourgeoisie, even as represented by its most advanced, most educated elements, those least subject to   the direct influence of capital, is trailing behind the revolution. This “democratic” party fears the sovereignty of the people. While repeating our slogan of a popular Constituent Assembly, it in fact completely distorts its sense and significance and misleads the people by its use, or, rather, abuse.

What is a “popular Constituent” Assembly? It is an assembly which, in the first place, really expresses the will of the people. To this end we must have universal suffrage in all of its democratic aspects, and a full guarantee of freedom to conduct the election campaign. It is an assembly which, in the second place, really has the power and authority to “inaugurate” a political order which will ensure the sovereignty of the people. It is clear as daylight that without these two conditions the assembly can be neither truly popular nor truly constituent. Yet our liberal bourgeois, our constitutional monarchists (whose claim to be democrats is a mockery of the people) do not want real safeguards to ensure either of these conditions! Not only do they fail to ensure in any way complete freedom of election propaganda or the actual transfer of power and authority to the Constituent Assembly, but, on the contrary, they seek to make both impossible since they aim at maintaining the monarchy. The real power and authority is to remain in the hands of Nicholas the Bloody. This means that the dire enemy of the people is to convene the assembly and “ensure” that the elections will be free and universal. How very democratic! It means that the Constituent Assembly will never have and (according to the idea of the liberal bourgeois) must never have all power and all authority; it is to be utterly devoid of power, devoid of authority; it is merely to come to terms, to reach an agreement, to arrive at an understanding, to strike a bargain with Nicholas II for the assembly to be granted a modicum of his royal power! The Constituent Assembly elected by universal suffrage is to differ in no way from a Lower House. That is to say, the Constituent Assembly, convened for expressing and executing the will of the people, is designed by the liberal bourgeoisie to “constitute”, over the will of the people, the will of an Upper House and on top of that the will of the monarchy, the will of Nicholas.

Is it not obvious that in talking, speechifying, and shouting about a popular Constituent Assembly, the liberal bourgeois, the Osvobozhdeniye gentry, are actually planning an anti-popular consultative assembly? Instead of emancipating the people, they want to subject the people, by constitutional means, first, to the power of the tsar (monarchism), and, secondly, to the power of the organised big bourgeoisie (the Upper House).

If anyone wishes to dispute this conclusion, let him assert: (1) that there can be a true expression of the popular will in elections without complete freedom of propaganda and without the actual abolition of all the propaganda privileges of the tsarist government; or (2) that an assembly of delegates devoid of real power and authority, in that these are left in the hands of the tsar, is not, in effect, a mere consultative body. To make either of these assertions one must be either a brazen charlatan or a hope less fool. History proves conclusively that a representative assembly coexisting with a monarchical form of government is in actual fact, so long as governmental power remains in the hands of the monarchy, a consultative body which does not bend the will of the monarch to the will of the people, but only conforms the will of the people to the will of the monarch, i. e., divides the power between monarch and people, bargains for a new order, but does not constitute it. History proves conclusively that there can be no such thing as really free elections, that the significance and character of these elections can hardly be brought home to the whole people unless the government that is combating the revolution is replaced by a provisional revolutionary government. Granting for a moment the improbable and the impossible, namely, that the tsarist government, having decided to convene a “Constituent” (read: consultative) Assembly, will give formal guarantees of freedom of propaganda, all the vast advantages and superior facilities for campaigning which accrue from the organised power of the state will nevertheless remain in its hands. These advantages and facilities for propaganda during the elections to the first people’s assembly will be enjoyed by the very ones who have oppressed the people by all the means in their power, and from whom the people have begun to wrest liberty by force.

In a word, we arrive at the very conclusion we reached on the previous occasion (Proletary, No. 3),[2] when we examined this question from another angle. The slogan of a popular Constituent Assembly, taken by itself, separately, is at the present time a slogan of the monarchist bourgeoisie, a slogan calling for a deal between the bourgeoisie and the tsarist government. Only the overthrow of the tsarist government and its replacement by a provisional revolutionary government, whose duty it will be to convene the popular Constituent Assembly, can be the slogan of the revolutionary struggle. Let the proletariat of Russia have no illusions on this score; in the din of the general excitation it is being deceived by the use of its own slogans. If we fail to match the armed force of the government with the force of an armed people, if the tsarist government is not utterly defeated and replaced by a provisional revolutionary government, every representative assembly, whatever title—“popular”, “constituent”, etc.—may be conferred upon it, will in fact be an assembly of representatives of the big bourgeoisie convened for the purpose of bargaining with the tsar for a division of power.

The more the people’s struggle against the tsar comes to a head and the greater likelihood there is of a speedy realisation of the demand for an assembly of people’s representatives, the more closely must the revolutionary proletariat watch the “democratic” bourgeoisie. The sooner we gain freedom, the sooner will this ally of the proletariat become its enemy. Two circumstances will serve to cloak this change: (1) the vagueness, incompleteness, and non-committal character of the would-be democratic slogans of the bourgeoisie; and (2) the endeavour to turn the slogans of the proletariat into mere phrases, to substitute empty promises for real safeguards of liberty and revolution. The workers must now watch the “democrats” with intensified vigilance. The words “popular Constituent Assembly” will be nothing more than words if, owing to the actual conditions under which the election campaign and the elections themselves are conducted, this assembly fails to express the will of the people, if it lacks the strength independently to establish the new order.   The cardinal issue is now shifting from the question of summoning the popular Constituent Assembly to the question of the method by which it is to be summoned. We are on the eve of decisive events. The proletariat must not pin its faith in general democratic slogans but must contrapose to them its own proletarian-democratic slogans in their full scope. Only a force guided by these slogans can really ensure the complete victory of the revolution.


[1] Our Life, Our Days, Son of the Fatherland, Russian Recorder.—Ed.

[2] See pp. 492-93 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] The article “The Democratic Tasks of the Revolutionary Proletariat” was reprinted in Borba Proletariata, No. 2, July 15 (28), 19O5.



Sketch of a Provisional Revolutionary Government

Written in June-July 1905

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 534-536.

Setting: Tsarism in St. Petersburg struck down, the autocratic government overthrown—struck down but not utterly destroyed, not killed, not annihilated, not extirpated.

The provisional revolutionary government appeals to the people. Workers and peasants t a k e   t h e   i n i t i a t i v e. Complete freedom. The people organise their own lives. The government programme=full republican liberties, peasant committees for the complete reform of agrarian relations. The Programme of the Social-Democratic Party i s   a   t h i n g   s t a n d i n g   b y   i t s e l f. Social-Democrats in the provisional government =people delegated, c o m m i s s i o n e d by the Social-Democratic P a r t y.

Next— the Constituent Assembly. If the people have risen, they ...[1] may (even though not immediately) find themselves in the majority (peasants and workers). Ergo, the revolutionary d i c t a t o r s h i p of the proletariat and the peasantry.

Frantic resistance of evil forces. Civil war i n   f u l l   s w e e p—annihilation of tsarism.

Organisation of the proletariat grows, propaganda and agitation of the Social-Democrats increases ten thousandfold—all the government printing-presses, etc., etc. “Mit der Gründlichkeit der geschichtlichen Aktion wird auch der Umfang der Masse zunehmen, deren Aktion sie ist.”[2]

The peasantry takes all agrarian relations, all the land, into its own hands. T h e n   n a t i o n a l i s a t i o n becomes a fact.

Tremendous growth of productive forces—the entire rural intelligentsia, all technical knowledge, is brought into action to increase agricultural production, to get rid of fettering influences (uplifters, Narodniks, etc., etc.).... Gigantic development of capitalist progress....

War: the fort keeps changing hands. Either the bourgeoisie overthrows the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, or this dictatorship sets Europe aflame, and then...?

If we are to consider the question of revolutionary dictatorship from the standpoint of Marxism, we shall have to reduce it to an analysis of the struggle of the   c l a s s e s.

Ergo, what major social forces should be taken into account? Ordre de bataille?

(α) The bureaucratic, military, and Court elements stand for absolutism p l u s the unenlightened elements among the people (a rapidly disintegrating conglomerate, yesterday all-powerful, tomorrow powerless). (Dynastic and other conflicts within inevitable.)

Degree of organisation very high—maximum

(β) The more or less big, moderately-liberal bourgeoisie.

(( Here I include the liberal landlords, the top financiers, the merchants, manufacturers, etc., etc. This=σ lords and masters of a bourgeois country. “Can do anything”. ))

Degree of organisation very slight

Conflicts between the groupings inevitable; but all stand for a Constitution even now, and still more so tomorrow.

Ideological leaders—in abundance, from among the officials, landlords, and journalists.

(γ) The petty-bourgeois and peasant section. Tens of millions.

The “people” par excellence.

Degree of organisation —minimum

Greatest state of benightedness and disorganisation.

Their plight most desperate, they have most to gain directly from the revolution. The greatest instability (to day—for the revolution, tomorrow—for “law and order” after slight improvements).

D e m o c r a c y. Ideological leaders—a great number of democratic intellectuals. The Socialist-Revolutionary “type”.

(δ) The proletariat.

Very high level of organisation, and discipline

Revolutionary-minded. Critical attitude towards the petty bourgeoisie. Has fewer ideological leaders than all the others—only the Social-Democratic intelligentsia and the educated Social-Democratic workers. Compared with the preceding groups numerically very much weaker, but Kampffähigkeit[3] very much stronger.

Object of the struggle =Republic (including all democratic liberties, the m i n i m u m   p r o g r a m m e and far-reaching social reforms).

α—absolutely against.

β—for a Constitution, against the Republic (½ and ½). ((Bargaining.))

γ—in a revolutionary moment (not firmly) for the Republic ((the unstable elements of the struggle)).

δ—wholly and entirely for the Republic.


[1] One word illegible.—Ed.

[2] “As the thoroughness of the historic action increases, the magnitude of the mass whose cause it represents will also increase.”[4]—Ed.

[3] Fighting capacity.—Ed.

[4] See Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Critique, Moscow, 1956, p. 410.


The Struggle of the Proletariat and the Servility of the Bourgeoisie

Proletary, No. 6, July 3 (June 20), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 537-543.

An uprising and armed barricade fighting in Lodz, a bloody affray in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, general strikes and shooting at workers in Warsaw and Odessa, the ignominious end of the Zemstvo deputation farce—such are the major political events of the past week. If we add to this what the Geneva papers report today (June 28 [15]) concerning peasant disturbances in Lebedin Uyezd, Kharkov Gubernia, the pillaging of five estates, and the dispatch of troops to these places, we see, reflected in the events of a single week, the character of all the main social forces, which is now so openly and clearly revealing itself in the course of the revolution.

The proletariat has been in a constant state of unrest, especially since the Ninth of January, never giving the enemy a moment’s respite. It is keeping up its offensive mainly in the form of strikes, while avoiding direct clashes with the armed forces of tsarism and preparing its forces for the great and decisive battle. In the industrially more developed areas, where the workers are better trained politically and where national oppression is added to the economic and general political yoke, the tsarist police and troops are going out of their way to incense and provoke the workers. And the workers, even those who are unprepared for the struggle, even those who at first confined themselves to defence, are now, through the proletariat of Lodz, setting a new example, not only of revolutionary enthusiasm and heroism, but of superior forms of struggle. They are still poorly, very poorly armed, and their uprising is still   local, isolated from the general movement; nevertheless, they are making a step forward, they are covering the city streets with scores of barricades thrown up with amazing speed, they are inflicting serious losses on the tsarist troops, they are putting up a desperate resistance in some of the houses. The armed uprising is gaining in breadth and intensity. The new victims of the tsar’s executioners—nearly 2,000 people have, been killed or wounded in Lodz—are kindling intense hatred towards the accursed autocracy in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of citizens. The new armed clashes demonstrate more and more strikingly that the decisive armed struggle of the people against the armed forces of tsarism is inevitable. All these separate outbreaks form more and more distinctly the picture of a widespread all-Russian conflagration. More and more districts, even the most backward, are being drawn into the proletarian struggle, and the zeal of the tsar’s myrmidons but serves the revolution by turning economic conflicts into political conflicts, by making the workers everywhere realise from their own hard lot that the autocracy must be overthrown at all costs, and by making of them future heroes and fighters of the popular uprising.

Armed uprising of the people! This is the slogan—advanced so resolutely by the party of the proletariat, as represent ed by the Third Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party—which the very course of events, the spontaneous process of expansion and intensification of the revolutionary movement, powerfully impels. Away, then, with all doubts and vacillations. Let it be realised by one and all, now and without delay, how absurd and discreditable are all pretexts today for evading this urgent task of the most energetic preparation of the armed uprising—how perilous it is to delay, how vital it is to unite and co-ordinate the local uprisings which are breaking out all over the country. Taken separately, these outbreaks are ineffectual. The organised force of the tsarist government can crush the insurgents group by group, if the movement continues to spread from town to town and from district to district as slowly and sporadically as it has been doing until now. But united, these outbreaks can converge into a mighty torrent of revolutionary flame, which no power on earth will be able to   withstand. This unity is on the way, it is coming by a thou sand paths we do not know of or even suspect. These sporadic outbreaks and skirmishes are giving the people a lesson in revolution, and our job is never to lag behind the exigencies of the moment, but to be able always to point to the next, higher stage of the struggle, deriving experience and instruction from the past and from the present, and urging the workers and peasants on and on more boldly and more broadly to the complete victory of the people, to the complete destruction of the autocratic gang that is now fighting with the desperation of the doomed.

How often we would find people in the Social-Democratic, movement, particularly in its intellectualist wing, who belittled the aims of the movement, faint-hearts who have lost faith in the revolutionary energy of the working class. Even now some think that because the democratic revolution is bourgeois by its social and economic nature, the proletariat should not aspire to enact the leading role in the revolution, to take the most energetic part in it, or to put forward such advanced slogans as the overthrow of the tsarist regime and the establishment of a provisional revolutionary government. Events are teaching even these politically backward people. Events are bearing out the militant conclusions that follow from the revolutionary theory of Marxism. The bourgeois nature of the democratic revolution does not mean that this revolution can benefit only the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, it is advantageous most of all, and necessary most of all, to the proletariat and the peasantry. Events are making it increasingly clear that only the proletariat is capable of waging a determined struggle for complete liberty, for the republic, in contradistinction to the unreliability and instability of the bourgeoisie. The proletariat can become the leader of the entire people and win over the peasantry, which can expect nothing from the autocracy except oppression and violence, and nothing from the bourgeois friends of the people except betrayal and treachery. Because of its class position in modern society, the proletariat can understand, sooner than any other class, that, in the final analysis, great historic issues are decided only by force, that freedom cannot be achieved without tremendous sacrifices, that the armed resistance of   tsarism must be broken and crushed by force of arms. Otherwise we shall never live to see liberty, otherwise Russia will meet the fate of Turkey—a long painful decline and disintegration, particularly painful for all the toiling and exploited masses of the people. Let the bourgeoisie abase itself and cringe, let it bargain and beg for sops, for a wretched travesty of liberty. The proletariat will go into action and lead with it the peasantry, which suffers under the vilest and most intolerable conditions of serfdom and humiliation; it will march forward to complete liberty, which can be made secure only by an armed people basing itself upon revolutionary power.

Social-Democracy has not advanced the slogan of insurrection on the spur of the moment. It has always fought, and will continue to fight, against revolutionary phrase-mongering, and it will always demand a sober estimation of forces and an analysis of the given situation. The Social-Democratic Party has ever since 1902 spoken of preparing the uprising, without ever confounding this work of preparation with the senseless artificial improvisation of rebellions which would merely dissipate our forces uselessly. And only now, after the Ninth of January, has the workers’ party placed the slogan of insurrection on the order of the day, only now has the necessity of the uprising and the urgency of mobilising for it been recognised. The autocracy itself has made this slogan a practical slogan of the working-class movement. The autocracy has given the broad masses their first lessons in civil war. This war has begun, and it is being fought on an increasingly wider front and with increasing intensity. We have only to generalise its lessons, to explain the great significance of the words “civil war”, to derive practical guidance from each encounter in this war, to organise our forces and prepare directly and immediately all that is necessary for a real war.

Social-Democracy does not fear to face the truth. It knows the treacherous nature of the bourgeoisie. It knows that liberty will bring the workers, not tranquillity and peace, but the new and still greater struggle for socialism, a struggle against the present bourgeois friends of freedom. But in spite of this—indeed, because of this—freedom is absolutely necessary to the workers, more necessary to them than to   anyone else. Only the workers are capable of fighting at the head of the people for complete freedom, for a democratic republic. And they will fight for it to the death.

Needless to say, ignorance and degradation are still wide spread among the people; a good deal has yet to be done to develop the class-consciousness of the workers, not to speak of the peasantry. But see how quickly the slave of yesterday is straightening his back, how the spark of liberty is gleaming even in his half-dimmed eyes. Look at the peasant movement. It lacks unity and political consciousness, and we have only a faint inkling of its magnitude and its character. But one thing we know: the class-conscious worker and the peasant who is rising to the struggle will under stand each other upon the first exchange of words; every ray of light will bring them closer together in the struggle for freedom; they will then not surrender their revolution to the contemptibly pusillanimous and selfish bourgeois and landlords—their democratic revolution which can give them land and freedom, which can give the working people every alleviation of their living conditions conceivable in bourgeois society to enable them to continue the struggle for socialism. We need but look at the central industrial region. How long is it since we thought it to be sunk in deep slumber? How long is it since only a sporadic, partial, petty trade union movement was considered possible there? And now a general strike has broken out in that region. In the hundreds of thousands they have risen there, and more are rising. Political agitation is spreading as never before. To be sure, the workers there are still far behind the heroic proletariat of heroic Poland, but the tsarist government is fast educating them; it is fast making them “catch up with Poland”.

No, the general armed uprising of the people is no dream. The complete victory of the proletariat and the peasantry in this democratic revolution is no idle thought. And what great perspectives such a victory would open before the European proletariat, which for so many years has been artificially held back from the pursuit of happiness by the reactionary militarists and landlords! The victory of the democratic revolution in Russia will be the signal for the beginning of the socialist revolution, for a new victory of   our brothers, the class-conscious proletarians of all countries.

How utterly contemptible, as compared with the mighty and heroic struggle of the proletariat, was the exhibition of loyalty displayed by the Zemstvo men and the Osvobozhdeniye gentry at the famous audience granted by Nicholas II. These mountebanks got their deserts. Before the ink had dried on their grovelling and rapturous reports of the tsar’s gracious words, the true meaning of those words was revealed to all in new deeds. The censorship is on the ram page. The newspaper Rus[1] has been suspended solely for publishing a more than moderate address. The police dictatorship headed by Trepov is in its hey day. The tsar’s words are officially interpreted as a promise to call a consultative assembly of representatives of the people, with the ancient autocracy “rooted in the native soil” remaining inviolate.

Prince Meshchersky’s opinion of the reception, published in Grazhdanin, proved to be right. Nicholas knew how to donner le change to the Zemstvo men and the liberals, he wrote. Nicholas knew how to lead them by the nose!

The gospel truth! The leaders of the Zemstvo people and of the Osvobozhdeniye crowd have been led by the nose. It serves them right. They got what they deserved for their servile speeches, for their concealment of their true decisions and ideas on the constitution, and for their shameful silence after the tsar’s jesuitical speech. They have haggled for a parody of freedom that will be “safe” for the bourgeoisie. All have haggled—Shipov with Bulygin, Trubetskoi with Shipov, Petrunkevich and Rodichev with Trubetskoi, and Struve with Petrunkevich and Rodichev. They are haggling while agreeing “provisionally” to the purely Shipovian programme of the Zemstvo delegation. These hucksters got what they asked for—a kick from the military jackboot.

Surely, this humiliation of the leaders of the Russian bourgeois Osvobozhdeniye trend should mark the beginning of the end! Surely, those who have the making of sincere and honest democrats will now at last turn their backs on that notorious Constitutional-Democratic Party. Surely they ought to realise that they are hopelessly disgracing themselves and betraying the cause of the revolution by supporting   a “party”, the “Zemstvo group” of which crawls on its belly before the autocracy, while the Osvobozhdeniye League repeats the like before the Zemstvo group.

We greet the finale of the Zemstvo deputation. The mask has been torn off. Choose, gentlemen of the landowning classes and of the bourgeoisie! Choose, gentlemen of education and members of “leagues” of every description: for revolution or for counter-revolution? for freedom or against freedom? He who would be a true democrat must fight, he must break with the grovellers and traitors, he must create an honest party that will have respect for itself and for its convictions, he must take his stand firmly and irrevocably on the side of the armed uprising. As for those who want to continue the game of diplomatising, of withholding their true opinions, who want to bargain and cringe, to make rhetorical threats believed by none and to go into raptures at the promise of a post of Marshal of the Nobility from the deified sovereign—as for such, let them be publicly branded with the unanimous contempt of all believers in freedom.

Down with the bourgeois betrayers of freedom!

Long live the revolutionary proletariat! Long live the armed uprising for complete freedom, for the republic, for the vital, urgent interests of the proletariat and the peasantry!


[1] Rus (Russia)—a bourgeois-liberal newspaper, which appeared at intervals in St. Petersburg between December 1903 and June 1908 under different names: Rus, Molva (Hearsay), and Dvadtsaty Vek (The Twentieth Century).



Three Constitutions or Three Systems of Government

Published in leaflet form in June-July 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 557-559.



Workers of all countries, unite!

What do the police and officials want?

The absolute monarchy.

What do the most liberal of the bourgeois (the people of the Osvobozhdeniye, or the Constitutional-Democratic Party) want?

The constitutional monarchy.

What do the class-conscious workers (the Social-Democrats) want?

The democratic republic.







The Revolutionary Army and the Revolutionary Government

Proletary, No. 7, July 10 (June 27), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 560-568.

The uprising in Odessa and the siding of the armoured cruiser Potemkin with the revolution marked a further big step forward in the development of the revolutionary movement against the autocracy. Events have confirmed with amazing rapidity the timeliness of the calls to insurrection and to the formation of a provisional revolutionary government, which were addressed to the people by the class-conscious spokesmen of the proletariat as represented by the Third Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The new outbreak of the revolutionary conflagration throws light on the practical significance of these calls and makes us determine more precisely the tasks of the revolutionary fighters in the present situation in Russia.

The armed uprising of the people is maturing and is organising itself before our very eyes under the impact of the spontaneous course of events. It was not so very long ago that the only manifestation of the people’s struggle against the autocracy was revolts–unconscious, unorganised, spontaneous, sometimes wild outbreaks. But the labour movement, as the movement of the most advanced class, the proletariat, rapidly outgrew this initial stage. The goal-conscious propaganda and agitation carried on by the Social-Democrats had their effect. Disturbances gave way to organised strike struggles and political demonstrations against the autocracy. The brutal military reprisals of the past few years have “educated” the proletariat and the common people of the towns, and have prepared them for higher forms of revolutionary struggle. The criminal and ignominious war into which the autocracy has plunged the   people filled the cup of their endurance to overflowing. The crowds began to offer armed resistance to the tsarist troops. Real street fighting, barricade battles, started between the people and the troops. Quite recently the Caucasus, Lodz, Odessa, and Libau have shown us examples of proletarian heroism and popular enthusiasm. The struggle grew into an insurrection. Even the tsar’s troops gradually began to see that they were being made to play the shameful role of executioners of freedom, of henchmen of the police. And the army began to waver. At first isolated cases of insubordination, outbreaks among reservists, protests from officers, propaganda among the soldiers, refusal of some companies and regiments to shoot at their own brothers, the workers. Then—the siding of part of the army with the uprising.

The tremendous significance of the recent events in Odessa lies precisely in the fact that, for the first time, an important unit of the armed force of tsarism—a battle ship—has openly gone over to the side of the revolution. The government made frantic efforts and resorted to all possible tricks to conceal this event from the people, to stifle the mutiny of the sailors from the outset. But to no avail. The warships sent against the revolutionary armoured cruiser “Potemkin” refused to fight against their comrades. By spreading throughout Europe the report that the Potemkin had surrendered and that the tsar had ordered the revolutionary armoured cruiser to be sunk, the autocratic government only completed its disgrace in the eyes of the entire world. The squadron has returned to Sevastopol, and the government is hastening to disband the crews and to disarm the warships; reports are current of wholesale resignations of officers of the Black Sea Fleet; a fresh mutiny broke out on the armoured cruiser Georgi Pobedonosets, which had surrendered. The sailors are also rising in Libau and in Kronstadt; clashes with the troops are becoming more frequent; sailors and workers are fighting the troops on the barricades (in Libau). The foreign press reports mutinies on a number of other warships (the Minin, the Alexander II, and others). The tsarist government finds itself without a navy. The most that it has been able to achieve so far is to hold back the fleet from actively going over to the side of   the revolution. Meanwhile, the armoured cruiser Potemkin remains an unconquered territory of the revolution, and what ever its fate may be, the undoubted fact and the point of highest significance is that here we have the attempt to form the nucleus of a revolutionary army.

No reprisals, no partial victories over the revolution can diminish the importance of this event. The first step has been taken. The Rubicon has been crossed. The siding of the army with the revolution has impressed itself as a fact upon the whole of Russia and the entire world. The events in the Black Sea Fleet will inevitably be followed by further and still more energetic attempts to form a revolutionary army. It is our task now to give the utmost support to these efforts, to explain to the broadest masses of the proletariat and the peasantry the nation-wide significance of a revolutionary army in the struggle for freedom, to assist various units of this army to unfurl the popular banner of freedom, the banner capable of attracting the masses and rallying the forces that will crush the tsarist autocracy.

Outbreaks— demonstrations—street fighting—units of a revolutionary army—such are the stages in the development of the popular uprising. Now at last we have reached the final stage. This does not mean, of course, that the movement in its entirety has advanced to this new and higher stage. No, there is still a good deal of backwardness in the movement; in the Odessa events there are unmistakable signs of old-time rioting. But it does mean that the advance waves of the elemental flood have already reached the very threshold of the absolutist “stronghold”. It does mean that the advanced representatives of the popular masses have themselves arrived, not as a result of theoretical reasoning, but under the impact of the growing movement, at new and higher tasks of the struggle, the final struggle against the enemy of the Russian people. The autocracy has done everything to prepare this struggle. For years it has provoked the people to an armed struggle with its troops, and now it is reaping what it sowed. The units of the revolutionary army are springing up out of the army itself.

The task of these units is to proclaim the insurrection, to give the masses military leadership, as essential in civil war as in any other war; to create strong points for the open   mass struggle; to spread the uprising to neighbouring districts; to establish complete political freedom, if only at first in a small part of the country; to embark on the revolutionary transformation of the decayed absolutist system; and to give full scope to the revolutionary creative activity of the masses, who participate but little in this activity in time of peace, but who come to the forefront in revolutionary epochs. Only by clearly understanding these new tasks, only by posing them boldly and broadly, can the units of the revolutionary army win complete victory and become the strong points of a revolutionary government. And a revolutionary government is as vitally essential at the present stage of the popular uprising as a revolutionary army. The revolutionary army is needed for military struggle and for military leadership of the masses against the remnants of the military forces of the autocracy. The revolutionary army is needed because great historical issues can be re solved only by force, and, in modern struggle, the organisation of force means military organisation. Besides the remnants of the autocracy’s military forces there are the military forces of the neighbouring states for whose support the tottering Russian Government is already begging, of which later.[1]

The revolutionary government is needed for the political leadership of the masses, at first in that part of the country which has been wrested from tsarism by the revolutionary army, and later in the country at large. The revolutionary government is needed for the immediate launching of the political reforms, for the sake of which the revolution is being made—the establishment of a revolutionary self-government of the people, the convocation of a truly popular and truly Constituent Assembly, and the introduction of “liberties” without which there can be no true expression of the people’s will. The revolutionary government is necessary for the political unification and the political organisation of the insurgent section of the people ,which has actually and finally broken away from the autocracy. Of course, that political organisation can only be provisional, just as the revolutionary government, which has taken power in   the name of the people in order to enforce the will of the people and to act through the instrumentality of the people, can only be provisional. But this work of organisation must start immediately, and it must be indissolubly combined with every successful step of the uprising; for political consolidation and political leadership cannot be delayed for a single moment. Immediate political leadership of the insurgent people is no less essential for the complete victory of the people over tsarism than the military leadership of its forces.

No one who is at all capable of forming a judgement can doubt the eventual outcome of the struggle between the supporters of the autocracy and the masses of the people. Yet we must not shut our eyes to the fact that the serious struggle is only beginning, that there are great trials in store for us. Both the revolutionary army and the revolutionary government are “organisms” of so high a type, they demand institutions so complicated and a civic consciousness so developed, that it would be a mistake to expect a simple, immediate, and perfect fulfilment of these tasks from the outset. No, we do not expect that; we are able to appreciate the importance of the slow, steady, and often imperceptible work of political education which Social-Democrats have always conducted and always will conduct. But we must not allow what in the present circumstances would be still more dangerous—a lack of faith in the powers of the people. We must remember what a tremendous educational and organising power the revolution has, when mighty historical events force the man in the street out of his remote corner, garret, or basement and make a citizen out of him. Months of revolution sometimes educate citizens more quickly and fully than decades of political stagnation. The task of the class-conscious leaders of the revolutionary class is always to march ahead of it in the matter of education, to explain to it the meaning of the new tasks, and to urge it forward towards our great ultimate goal. The failures inevitably involved in our further attempts to form a revolutionary army and a provisional revolutionary government will only teach us to meet these tasks in practice; they will serve to draw the new and fresh forces of the people, now lying dormant, to the work of solving them.

To take the military aspect. No Social-Democrat at all familiar with history, who has studied Engels, the great expert on this subject, has ever doubted the tremendous importance of military knowledge, of military technique, and of military organisation as an instrument which the masses of the people, and classes of the people, use in resolving great historical conflicts. Social-Democracy never stooped to playing at military conspiracies; it never gave prominence to military questions until the actual conditions of civil war had arisen.[2] But now all Social-Democrats have advanced the military questions, if not to the first place, at least to one of the first places, and they are putting great stress on studying these questions and bringing them to the knowledge of the masses. The revolutionary army must apply the military knowledge and the military means on the practical plane for the determination of the further destiny of the Russian people, for the determination of the most vital and pressing question—the question of freedom.

Social-Democracy has never taken a sentimental view of war. It unreservedly condemns war as a bestial means of settling conflicts in human society. But Social-Democracy knows that so long as society is divided into classes, so long as there is exploitation of man by man, wars are inevitable. This exploitation cannot be destroyed without war, and war is always and everywhere begun by the exploiters themselves, by the ruling and oppressing classes. There are wars and wars. There are adventurist wars, fought to further dynastic interests, to satisfy the appetite of a band of freebooters, or to attain the objects of the knights of capitalist profit. And there is another kind of war—the only war that is legitimate in capitalist society—war against the people’s oppressors and enslavers. Only utopians and philistines can condemn such a war on principle. Only the bourgeois betrayers of freedom can stand aloof from such a war in Russia today, the war for the people’s freedom. The proletariat in Russia has started   that great war of liberation, and it will, go on with it, forming units of a revolutionary army, reinforcing the units of the soldiers or sailors that have come over to its side, enlisting the peasants, imbuing the new citizens of Russia, formed and steeled in the fire of civil war, with the heroism and enthusiasm of fighters for the freedom and happiness of all mankind.

The task of establishing a revolutionary government is as new, as difficult, and as complicated as the task of the military organisation of the revolutionary forces. But this task, too, can and must be fulfilled by the people. In this matter, too, every partial failure will lead to an improvement in methods and means, to the consolidation and extension of the results. The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. outlined in its resolution the general conditions for dealing with this new task; it is now time to consider and prepare the conditions for its practical realisation. Our Party has a minimum programme, a complete programme of the changes that are immediately achievable within the framework of the democratic (i.e., bourgeois) revolution, and which the proletariat needs in its further struggle for the triumph of the socialist revolution. But this programme contains basic demands, as well as partial demands that follow from the basic ones or are assumed. In every attempt to establish a provisional revolutionary government it is important to advance precisely the basic demands in order to show to the whole of the people, even to the most unenlightened masses, in brief formulation, in sharp and clear outline, the aims of this government and its tasks that are of significance to the entire people.

There are, in our view, six such fundamental points that must become the political banner and the immediate programme of any revolutionary government. They should enlist the sympathy of the people for that government and should be regarded as the most urgent task, upon the accomplishment of which the whole revolutionary energy of the people must be concentrated.

The six points are: (1) a Constituent. Assembly of all the people, (2) arming of the people, (3) political freedom, (4) complete freedom for the oppressed and disfranchised nationalities, (5) the eight-hour day, and (6) peasant revolutionary   committees. Of course, this is only a tentative list, representing the headings, the designations, of a series of changes that are required immediately for winning the democratic republic. We do not claim that the list is complete. We merely want to stress the importance of certain basic tasks. The revolutionary government must strive to secure the support of the masses, of the mass of the working class and of the peasantry; short of doing this, it will not be able to maintain itself; without the revolutionary activity of the people it will be a mere nothing, worse than nothing. It is our duty to warn the people against the adventurism of high-sounding but absurd promises (like immediate “socialisation”, which even its advocates do not under stand), while at the same time we must propose changes that are really practicable at the present moment and really necessary for strengthening the cause of the revolution. The revolutionary government must rouse the “people” and organise its revolutionary activity. Complete freedom for the oppressed nationalities, i. e., the recognition, not only of their cultural, but of their political, self-determination; the introduction of urgent measures for the protection of the working class (the eight-hour day as the first in a series of such measures), and lastly, the guarantee of serious measures, without regard for the egotistic interests of the land lords, in favour of the mass of the peasantry—such, in our opinion, are the chief points that every revolutionary government must especially emphasise. We shall not discuss the first three points, which are too obvious to require comment. Nor shall we discuss the need for practically implementing reforms even in a small territory, one, for instance, that has been wrested from tsarism; practical implementation is a thousand times more important than manifestos, and, of course, a thousand times more difficult. We merely wish to draw attention to the fact that it is necessary now, without delay, to spread by every possible means a correct idea of our general and immediate tasks. We must know how to appeal to the people—in the true sense of the word—not only with a general call to struggle (this suffices in the period preceding the formation of the revolutionary government), but with a direct call for the immediate implementation   of the most essential democratic reforms, for their independent realisation without delay.

The revolutionary army and the revolutionary government are two sides of the same medal. They are two institutions equally necessary for the success of the uprising and for the consolidation of its results. They are two slogans which must be advanced and explained as· the only consistent revolutionary slogans. There are many people today who call themselves democrats; however, many are called, but few are chosen. There are many spokesmen of the “Constitutional-Democratic Party”; but in so-called “society”, in the would-be democratic Zemstvos, there are few true democrats, men who are sincerely in favour of the complete sovereignty of the people and are capable of waging a life-and-death struggle against the enemies of that sovereignty, the defenders of the tsarist autocracy.

The working class is free of the cowardice, the hypocritical half-heartedness that is characteristic of the bourgeoisie as a class. The working class can and must be fully and consistently democratic. The working class has proved its right to the role of vanguard in the democratic revolution by the blood it has shed on the streets of St. Petersburg, Riga, Libau, Warsaw, Lodz, Odessa, Baku, and many other cities. It must prove equal to this great role at the present decisive moment too. While never for a moment forgetting their socialist goal, their class and Party independence, the class-conscious representatives of the proletariat, the members of the R.S.D.L.P., must come forward before the whole of the people with the advanced democratic slogans. For us, for the proletariat, the democratic revolution is only the first step on the road to the complete emancipation of labour from all exploitation, to the great socialist goal. All the more quickly, therefore, must we pass this first stage; all the more decisively must we settle accounts with the enemies of the people’s freedom; all the louder must we proclaim the slogans of consistent democracy: a revolutionary army and a revolutionary government.


[1] See pp. 568-72 of this volume—Ed.

[2] Cf. Lenin, “The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats”, p.23, on the untimeliness (in 1897) of the question concerning the methods of decisive attack upon tsarism. (First published in pamphlet form, Geneva, 1898. See present edition, Vol. 2, pp. 342-43.—Ed.)—Lenin



The Russian Tsar Seeks the Protection of the Turkish Sultan Against His People

Proletary. No. 7, July 10 (June 27), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 8, pages 569-573.

The foreign press of all countries and all parties is teeming with reports, telegrams, and articles concerning the siding of part of the Black Sea Fleet with the Russian revolution. The newspapers are at a loss for words in which to express their astonishment; they find no terms strong enough to describe the disgrace which the autocratic government has brought upon itself.

The peak in this disgrace was the tsarist government’s appeal to Rumania and Turkey for police assistance against the mutinous sailors. Here is proof positive that the “Turks within” are a greater menace to the Russian people than all the “Turks without”. The Sultan of Turkey is to protect the tsarist autocracy from the Russian people; the tsar cannot rely on Russia s armed forces, and so he begs other powers for help. Better proof of the utter bankruptcy of the tsarist regime can hardly be imagined. Better material to make the soldiers of the Russian army see the role they are playing could hardly be found.

Observe what The Times of July 4 (new style) writes editorially. It should be noted that this is one of the most affluent and best-informed newspapers in the world, and that this mouthpiece of the conservative English bourgeoisie finds even our Osvobozhdeniye liberals over-radical, sympathises with the “Shipovians”, etc. In a word, no one can possibly suspect it of exaggerating the strength and importance of the Russian revolution.

“The impotence of the [Russian] Government at sea,” writes The Times, “receives a striking illustration from the Note it is stated to have sent to the Porte, [i.e., to the   Turkish Government I and to the Government of Rumania. This document [of the Russian Government] calls upon the Governments in question to treat the mutinous sailors of the Russian fleet as common criminals, and warns them that should they act otherwise international complications may follow. In other words, the Government of the Tsar is stooping to beg the Sultan of Turkey and the King of Rumania to be good enough to do for him the police work which he is no longer able to do for himself. Whether Abdul Hamid will condescend to give him the required assistance or not remains to be seen. So far the only result of the mutiny upon the Turkish authorities has been to induce them to exhibit unusual vigilance, and the first exhibition of it has been that they fired a blank shot across the bows of the Russian guardship on Saturday, when she was entering the Bosporus after dark with the Russian Ambassador on board. They would hardly have asserted their watchfulness in that fashion twelve months ago. The Government of Rumania rightly ignored the demand that the mutineers should be treated as criminals, as was to be expected from the rulers of a self-respecting nation. They issued orders that the mutineers were not to be furnished with coals or provisions, but they informed the 700 sailors on board the Kniaz Potemkin that if they choose to land they will be treated only as foreign deserters.

And so the Rumanian Government does not in the least side with the revolution; far from it! Yet it has no desire to stoop to police service for the universally hated and despised tsar of all the Russias. It refuses the tsar’s request. It acts in the only way the “government of a self-respecting nation” can act.

That is how the Russian autocracy is now spoken of in Europe by those who only yesterday fawned on the “great and mighty monarch”!

Now comes confirmation in the German press as well of this new, unheard-of disgrace of the autocracy. A report telegraphed to the Frankfurter Zeitung from Constantinople under date of July 4 (N.S.) states: “The Russian Ambassador Zinoviev handed a Note yesterday [to the Turkish Government] from the St. Petersburg Cabinet stating that about 400 Russian seamen, after sinking a cruiser, had been   picked up the day before yesterday by an English merchant vessel bound for Constantinople. The [Russian] Ambassador demanded of Turkey the detention of the steamer during its passage through the Bosporus and the arrest and extradition of the mutinous Russian seamen. That evening the Turkish Government called a special meeting of the Council of Ministers which considered the Russian request.... Turkey replied to the Russian Embassy that she was unable to comply, since according to her international obligations Turkey had no right to exercise police power on a steamer sailing under the English flag, even when the steamer puts into a Turkish harbour. Besides, there existed no extradition treaty between Russia and Turkey.”

Turkey replied “courageously”, the German newspaper comments on the incident. The Turks refuse to do police duty for the tsar!

It is also reported that when the destroyer Stremitelny[1] and several other warships came to Constanla (Rumania) in pursuit of the Potemkin, the Rumanian Government pointed out to the Russian authorities that in Rumanian waters it was the Rumanian army and the Rumanian police that maintained order, even if the Potemkin was still in Rumanian waters.

Thus, instead of the Potemkin creating trouble for foreign ships (as the tsarist autocracy had predicted in order to frighten Europe), these ships are plagued by a host of annoying incidents caused by the Russian fleet. The English are indignant at the detention and search of their ship Granley at Odessa. The Germans are incensed by reports that, at the request of the Russians, the Turks will stop and search the German ship Pera on her way to Constantinople from Odessa. Perhaps, under these circumstances, it will not be so easy for Russia to secure European assistance against the Russian revolutionaries. The question of rendering such assistance is being discussed by a great many foreign papers, but in most cases they come to the conclusion that it is not Europe’s business to help the tsar fight the Potemkin. The Berliner Tageblatt publishes a report that the Russian   Government has even requested the powers to send their war ships from Constantinople to Odessa to help restore order! How much truth there is in this statement (denied by certain other papers) the near future will show. But one thing is certain: with the Potemkin joining the uprising the first step has been taken towards converting the Russian revolution into an international force by bringing it face to face with the European states.

This fact should not be forgotten in appraising the telegraphic report of M. Leroux to the Paris newspaper Le Matin from St. Petersburg on July 4 (N.S.): “Throughout this [Potemkin] affair,” he writes, “the lack of foresight on the part of the [Russian] authorities has been astonishing; one cannot overstate the lack of organisation of the revolution. The revolution gains possession of a battleship, an event unique in history, but it does not know what to do with it.”

There is, undeniably, a great deal of truth in this report. Without a doubt we are to blame for not organising the revolution sufficiently. We are to blame that certain Social-Democrats are but faintly conscious of the fact that revolution must be organised, that the uprising must be included among the urgent practical problems, and that the necessity of a provisional revolutionary government must be stressed in our propaganda. We revolutionaries deserve the criticism now levelled at us by bourgeois writers for our poor organisation of revolutionary functions.

But whether the armoured cruiser Potemkin deserves this reproach we do not venture to say. Perhaps it was the deliberate aim of the crew to show themselves in the harbour of a European power? Did not the Russian Government keep all news of the events in the Black Sea Fleet from the people until the Potemkin had freely entered the waters of Rumania? In Rumania the revolutionary battleship delivered a proclamation to the consuls with a declaration of war on the tsarist fleet and a statement to the effect that it would commit no hostile acts against neutral ships. The Russian revolution has declared to Europe that a state of open war exists between the Russian people and tsarism. By doing so the Russian revolution has actually made an attempt to speak in the name of a new, revolutionary government of   Russia. Undoubtedly, this is merely a first, feeble attempt, but, as the saying goes, the first step is always the hardest.

According to the latest reports, the Potemkin has arrived at Feodosia, demanding provisions and coal. The local population is in a turmoil. The workers demand that the re quest of the revolutionary battleship be granted. The Municipal Council decided to refuse coal, but to supply provisions. The whole of South Russia is agitated as never be fore. The number of victims of the civil war in Odessa is estimated at 6,000. Telegraphic reports speak of the shooting of 160 insurgents by court martial, and of an order from St. Petersburg “to give no quarter!” But the troops are powerless; the troops themselves are unreliable. In the factory suburbs of Odessa the turmoil has not subsided. Last night (July 4-5, N.S.) thirty-five people were killed. By order of the Governor-General, many of the troops have been withdrawn from the city following the discovery of a serious lack of discipline among them. In Nikolayev and Sevastopol disturbances arose in the government arsenals. Thirteen people have been killed at Sevastopol. Peasant uprisings have broken out in five uyezds of Kherson Gubernia. Nearly 700 peasants were killed in the last four days. “A life-and-death struggle between the people and the bureaucracy has apparently begun,” says a telegram from Odessa to London dated July 5, N.S.

Yes, the real struggle for freedom, the life-and-death struggle, is only beginning. The revolutionary armoured cruiser has not said its last word yet. Long live the revolutionary army! Long live the revolutionary government!


[1] It is said that there are no ratings on the Stremitelny. Its crew consists almost entirely of officers. The aristocracy against the people!—Lenin



Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution




Concluding Paragraph to the Article “The Paris Commune and the Tasks of the Democratic Dictatorship”[1]

Proletary, No. 8, July 17 (4), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, page 141.

This article teaches us, first and foremost, that for representatives of the socialist proletariat to take part in a revolutionary government together with the petty bourgeoisie is fully permissible in principle, and, in certain conditions, even obligatory. It shows us further that the real task the Commune had to perform was primarily the achievement of the democratic and not the socialist dictatorship, the implementation of our “minimum programme”. Finally, the article reminds us that when we study the lessons of the Paris Commune we should imitate not the mistakes it made (the failure to seize the Bank of France and to launch an offensive against Versailles, the lack of a clear programme, etc.), but its successful practical measures, which indicate the correct road. It is not the word “Commune” that we must adopt from the great fighters of 1871; we should not blindly repeat each of their slogans; what we must do is to single out those programmatic and practical slogans that bear upon the state of affairs in Russia and can be formulated in the words “a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry”.


[1] The article “The Paris Commune and the Tasks of the Democratic Dictatorship” was published in Proletary, No. 8 of July 17 (4), 1905. Its author, who is not known, provided a historical note on the activities of the Paris Commune and the composition of its government, which, besides representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, included socialist workingmen prominent in the labour movement. The article was directed against the tactics of the Mensheviks, who denied the possibility of Social-Democrats participating in a provisional revolutionary government. The article was edited by Lenin, who changed the title, made a number of changes in the wording, and wrote the conclusion.



Revolution Teaches

Proletary, No. 9, July 26 (13), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 146-155.

Differences within or between political parties are usually resolved not only by polemics over principles, but also by the course of political developments. In particular, differences on a party’s tactics, i.e., its political conduct, are often resolved by those with incorrect opinions going over in fact to the correct path of struggle, under the pressure of the course of developments that simply brush aside erroneous opinions, making them pointless and devoid of any interest. This, of course, does not mean that fundamental differences on questions of tactics do not call for explanations of principles, explanations which alone can keep the Party equal to its theoretical convictions. No. This means only that decisions made with regard to tactics must be verified as often as possible in the light of new political events. Such verification is necessary from the standpoint of both theory and practice: from the standpoint of theory in order to ascertain in fact whether the decisions taken have been correct, and what amendments to these decisions subsequent political events make necessary; from the standpoint of practice, in order to learn how to use the decisions as a proper guide, to learn to consider them as directives for practical application.

A revolutionary period, more than any other, provides material for such verification, thanks to the tremendous speed of political development and the sharpness of political clashes. In a revolutionary period the old “superstructure” falls apart, and, in full view of everyone, a new one is created by the independent action of the most diverse social forces, which reveal their true nature in practice.

Thus, the Russian revolution, too, provides us almost weekly with an amazing wealth of political material for verifying previously-made tactical decisions, and for drawing most instructive lessons with regard to our entire practical activities. Take the Odessa events. An attempt at insurrection has failed. A bitter reverse, a severe defeat. But what a world of difference there is between this set-back in the struggle and the set-backs in the efforts made by the Shipovs, Trubetskois, Petrunkeviches, Struves, and all such bourgeois flunkeys of the tsar, to strike a deal! Engels once said that defeated armies learn their lessons well. These splendid words apply in far greater measure to revolutionary armies, whose replacements come from the progressive classes. Until the old, corrupt superstructure, whose putrefaction infects the whole people, is swept away, each new defeat will produce ever new armies of fighters. Of course, there also exists mankind’s far wider collective experience, which has left its impress upon the history of international democracy and of international Social-Democracy, and has been systematised by the foremost representatives of revolutionary thought. Our Party draws on that experience for material to be used in its everyday propaganda and agitation. But while society is based on the oppression and exploitation of millions of working people, only the few can learn directly from that experience. The masses have to learn mostly from their own experience, paying dearly for every lesson. The lesson of January 9 was a hard one, but it revolutionised the temper of the entire proletariat of the whole of Russia. The lesson of the Odessa uprising is a hard one, but, with sentiments already revolutionised, it will now teach the revolutionary proletariat not only how to fight but also how to win. Regarding the Odessa events we say: the revolutionary army has been defeated— long live the revolutionary army!

We have already stated in No. 7 of our paper that the Odessa uprising has shed new light on our slogans calling for a revolutionary army and a revolutionary government.[1] In the preceding number we spoke about the military lessons   of the uprising (Comrade V.S. ’s article). In this issue we dwell once more on some of its political lessons (the article “Urban Revolution”). We must now deal with the verification of our recent tactical decisions in the double aspect of theoretical correctness and practical expediency we have spoken of above.

Insurrection and a revolutionary government are the most vital political questions of the present time. These are questions that Social-Democrats have most of all discussed and argued about among themselves. It was to these questions that the main resolutions of the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. and of the Conference of the break-away section of the Party were devoted. It may now be asked: in what light do these differences appear alter the Odessa uprising? Anyone who will now go to the trouble of re-reading, on the one hand, the statements and articles on this uprising, and, on the other, the four resolutions on issues of insurrection and of a provisional government adopted by the Party Congress and by the new-Iskrists’ Conference will at once notice how, under the influence of events, the latter have in actual fact begun to side with their opponents, i.e., to act not according to their own resolutions, but according to those of the Third Congress. There is no better critic of an erroneous doctrine than the course of revolutionary events.

Under the influence of these events Iskra’s Editorial Board has issued a leaflet entitled “The First Victory of the Revolution”, addressed to “Russian citizens, workers, and peasants”. Here is the most important passage in the leaflet:

"The time has come to act boldly and to support the soldiers’ bold rebellion with all our might. It is boldness that will now win the day!

"Therefore, call open meetings of the people and bring them tidings of the collapse of tsarism’s military prop! Wherever possible seize municipal institutions and make them the bulwark o? the people s revolutionary government! Oust the tsarist officials and appoint general elections to bodies of revolutionary government, to which you will entrust the provisional administration of public affairs pending the final victory over the tsar’s government and the establishment of a new political regime. Seize the branches of the State Bank and the arsenals and arm the people! Establish contacts between the cities, between town and countryside, and let armed citizens hasten to each other’s assistance wherever aid is needed! Take the prisons and free the champions of our cause imprisoned there—they will swell your ranks! Proclaim everywhere the overthrow of the tsarist   monarchy and its replacement by a free democratic republic! Arise citizens! The hour of liberation has struck! Long live the revolution! Long live the democratic republic! Long live the revolutionary army! Down with the autocracy!”

Thus, we have before us a determined, open, and clear call for an armed uprising of the whole people. We also have here an equally determined call—though, regrettably, inexplicit and incompletely worded—to form a provisional revolutionary government. Let us first consider the question of an uprising.

Is there any difference in principle between the way this question was handled by the Third Congress and by the Conference? Undoubtedly there is. We have already dealt with this in Proletary, No. 6 (“A Third Step Back”[2] ) and we shall now refer, furthermore, to the instructive testimony of Osvobozhdeniye. In ·No. 72 of the magazine we read that the “Majority” is lapsing into “abstract revolutionism, rebelliousness, an eagerness to stir up insurrection among the popular masses by any and every means, and to immediately seize power on their behalf”. “On the contrary, the Minority, while steadfastly adhering to the dogma of Marxism, at the same time preserves the realistic elements of the Marxist world outlook.” This opinion of liberals who have gone through the preparatory school of Marxism and through Bernsteinism is extremely valuable. The liberal bourgeois have always reproached the revolutionary wing of Social- Democracy with “abstract revolutionism and rebelliousness and have always praised the opportunist wing for its “realism” in stating the question. Iskra itself has had to admit (see No. 73, note referring to Mr. Struve’s approval of the “realism” of Comrade Akimov’s pamphlet) that, when spoken by the Osvobozhdeniye League members, “realist” means “opportunist”. The Osvobozhdeniye League members know only pedestrian realism; the revolutionary dialectics of Marxist realism, which emphasises the urgent tasks of the advanced class, and discovers in the existing state of things those elements that will lead to its overthrow, are absolutely alien to them. Therefore, Osvobozhdeniye’s characterisation of the two trends in Social-Democracy once   more confirms a fact proved by our literature, namely, that the “Majority” is the revolutionary wing of Russian Social-Democracy, and the “Minority” its opportunist wing.

Osvobozhdeniye definitely admits that, compared with the Congress, “the Conference of the Minority regards insurrection in a quite different way”. Indeed, the Conference resolution in the first place defeats its own purpose by now denying the possibility of a planned uprising (Clause 1), now admitting it (par. d), and, in the second place, confines itself to a mere enumeration of the general conditions for “preparing an uprising” such as: a) extending agitation; b) strengthening the ties with the mass movement; c) promoting a revolutionary consciousness; d) establishing connections between the various localities; e) winning over non-proletarian groups to support the proletariat. The Congress resolution, on the contrary, outspokenly proclaims positive slogans, recognises that the movement has already made insurrection imperative, and calls for the organisation of the proletariat for the immediate struggle, for the adoption of the most energetic measures to arm it, for the explanation through propaganda and agitation “not only of the political significance” of the uprising (in essence, the resolution of the Conference confines itself to this), but also its practical and organisational aspect.

For a clearer understanding of the difference between the two solutions of the problem let us recall the evolution of Social-Democratic views on insurrection since the very inception of the mass working-class movement. The first stage: 1897. In his Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats Lenin states that “to decide at the present time the question of what methods the Social-Democracy will resort to for the direct overthrow of the autocracy, whether it will choose an uprising, or a widespread political strike, or some other form of attack, would be akin to generals calling a council of war before they have mustered an army” (p. 18).[3] Here, as we see, there is not the slightest reference to preparations for an uprising; what is spoken of is merely the mustering of an army, i.e., propaganda, agitation, and organisation in general.

The second stage: 1902. In Lenin’s What Is To Be Done? we read:

"...Picture to yourselves a popular uprising. Probably everyone will now (February 1902) agree that we must think of this and prepare for it. But how? Surely the Central Committee cannot appoint agents to all localities for the purpose of preparing the uprising! Even if we had a Central Committee it could achieve absolutely nothing by such appointments under present-day Russian conditions. But a network of agents that would form in the course of establishing and distributing the common newspaper would not have to “sit about and wait” for the call for an uprising, but could carry on the regular activity that would guarantee the highest probability of success in the event of an uprising. Such activity would strengthen our contacts with the broadest strata of the working masses and with all social strata that are discontented with the autocracy, which is of such importance for an uprising. Precisely such activity would serve to cultivate the ability to estimate correctly the general political situation and, consequently, the ability to select the proper moment for an uprising. Precisely such activity would train all local organisations to respond simultaneously to the same political questions, incidents, and events that agitate the whole of Russia and to react to such ’incidents’ in the most vigorous, uniform, and expedient manner possible; for an uprising is in essence the most vigorous, most uniform, and most expedient ’answer’ of the entire people to the government. Lastly, it is precisely such activity that would train all revolutionary organisations throughout Russia to maintain the most continuous, and at the same time the most secret, contacts with one another, thus creating real Party unity; for without such contacts it will be impossible collectively to discuss the plan for the uprising and to take the necessary preparatory measures on its eve, measures that must be kept in the strictest secrecy” (pp. 136-37[4] ).

What points does this reasoning bring out with regard to the question of an uprising? 1) The absurdity of the idea of “preparing” an uprising by appointing special agents   who would “sit around and wait” for the call. 2) The necessity of contacts established in the course ol work done in common between people and organisations engaged in the regular work. 3) The necessity of strengthening the ties between the proletarian (workers) and the non-proletarian (all the discontented) sections of the population in the course of such work. 4) The necessity of jointly cultivating the ability to appraise correctly the political situation and to “react” to political events in the most expedient manner. 5) The need for actual unification of all local revolutionary organisations.

Consequently, the slogan of preparations for an uprising is already plainly advanced, but as yet there is no direct call to rise, no recognition that the movement “has already led up to” the necessity for an uprising, that it is necessary to arm immediately, to organise ourselves in combat squads, etc. Before us is an analysis of those very conditions for preparing an uprising which are repeated almost literally in the Conference resolution (in 1905!!).

The third stage: 1905. A further step forward is made in the newspaper Vperyod and later on in the resolution of the Third Congress. Besides general political preparations for an uprising, a direct slogan is issued, namely, that we should immediately organise and arm for an uprising, and that special (combat) squads should be formed, as the movement “has already led to the necessity of an armed uprising” (Clause 2 of the Congress resolution).

This piece of historical information leads us to three indubitable conclusions: 1) The assertion of the liberal bourgeoisie, the Osvobozhdeniye League, that we are lapsing into “abstract revolutionism and rebelliousness” is a downright lie. We have always raised, and are now raising, this question not in an “abstract” way, but on a concrete basis, answering it differently in 1897, in 1902, and in 1905. The accusation of rebelliousness is an opportunist phrase of the liberal bourgeois gentry, who are preparing to betray the interests of the revolution and to play it false at a time of decisive conflict with the autocracy. 2) The Conference of the new-Iskrists stopped short at the second stage in the evolution of the question of insurrection.. In 1905 it merely reiterated what had been enough in 1902.   It lagged some three years behind revolutionary developments. 3) Under the influence of the lessons of life, namely, the Odessa uprising, the new-Iskrists have in fact acknowledged the necessity of acting according to the Congress resolution and not according to their own, i.e., they have recognised that the task of an insurrection is an urgent one, that a direct call must be made forthwith for the immediate organisation of an uprising and for the arming of the people.

The revolution has dislodged a backward Social-Democratic doctrine at one stroke. Another obstacle to practical unity in work in common with the new-Iskrists has been removed, which, of course, does not yet mean that differences on principles have been entirely eliminated. We cannot be content to have our tactical slogans limp behind events and to their being adapted to events after their occurrence. We must have slogans that lead us forward, light up the path before us, and raise us above the immediate tasks of the moment. To wage a consistent and sustained struggle the party of the proletariat cannot determine its tactics from occasion to occasion. In its tactical decisions it must combine fidelity to the principles of Marxism with due regard for the progressive tasks of the revolutionary class.

Take another urgent political question, that of a provisional revolutionary government. Here we see, perhaps, even more clearly that in its leaflet the Iskra Editorial Board has in fact abandoned the slogans of the Conference and has accepted the tactical slogans of the Third Congress. The absurd theory of “not setting ourselves the aim of seizing” (for a democratic revolution) “or sharing power in a provisional government” has gone by the board, for the leaflet makes a direct appeal for the “seizure of municipal institutions” and the organisation of a “provisional administration of public affairs”. The absurd slogan of “remaining a party of extreme revolutionary opposition” (absurd in a period of revolution, although quite appropriate in a period of parliamentary struggle alone) has in fact been shelved, for the Odessa events have forced Iskra to realise that during an insurrection it is ridiculous to confine one self to this slogan, that it is necessary to call energetically for an uprising, for its vigorous prosecution and for the   use of revolutionary power. The absurd slogan of “revolutionary communes” has also been discarded, for the events in Odessa have forced Iskra to realise that this slogan merely serves to confuse the democratic revolution with the socialist. To confuse these two very different things would be slicer adventurism, testifying to complete obscurity in theoretical thinking, and capable of hampering implementation of essential practical measures facilitating the working-class struggle for socialism in a democratic republic.

Call to mind the polemic between the new Iskra and Vperyod, the former’s tactics of action “only from below”, as opposed to the Vperyod tactics of action “both from below and from above”, and you will see that Iskra has accepted our solution of the question by now itself calling for action from above. Remember Iskra’s apprehensions that we might discredit ourselves by assuming responsibility for the treasury, finances, etc.—and you will see that, though our arguments failed to convince Iskra, the events did convince it of the correctness of those arguments, for in the leaflet quoted above Iskra clearly recommends “seizure of branches of the State Bank”. The absurd theory that a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, their joint participation in a provisional revolutionary government constitutes “treason to the proletariat” or “vulgar Jaurèsism (Millerandism)” has simply been forgotten by the new-Iskrists, who are themselves now calling upon the workers and peasants to seize municipal institutions, branches of the State Bank and arsenals “to arm the whole people” (apparently, this time meaning to arm with weapons and not merely with a “burning desire to arm themselves”), to proclaim the overthrow of the tsarist monarchy, etc.—in a word, to act wholly in accordance with the programme provided in the resolution of the Third Congress, to act precisely as is indicated by the slogan calling for a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship and a provisional revolutionary government.

True Iskra mentions neither of these slogans in its leaflet. It enumerates and describes actions whose sum is characteristic of a provisional revolutionary government, but avoids mentioning the term. That is to be regretted. In   actual fact it accepts this slogan, but the absence of a clear term can only create vacillation and uncertainty, and sow confusion in fighters’ minds. Fear of the words revolutionary government” and “revolutionary power” is a purely anarchist fear, and unworthy of a Marxist. To “seize” institutions and banks, “appoint elections”, establish “provisional administration”, and “proclaim the over throw of the monarchy”—for all this the first and absolutely necessary step is the proclamation of a provisional revolutionary government to unite all the military and political activities of the revolutionary people and direct these activities towards a single aim. Unless there is such unity, unless the provisional government is universally recognised by the revolutionary people, unless it assumes all power, any “seizure” of institutions and any “proclamation” of a republic will remain merely an outburst of senseless rebelliousness. Unless it is concentrated by the revolutionary government the people’s revolutionary energy will merely dissipate after the first success of the uprising, squander itself on trifles, and lose its national scope. It will be unable to cope with the task of keeping what has been seized, or of giving effect to what has been proclaimed.

We repeat: Social-Democrats who do not recognise the decisions of the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. have been in actual fact forced by the course of events to act in full accordance with the slogans proclaimed by the Congress and to throw the Conference’s slogans by the board. Revolution teaches. It is our duty to make the most of the lessons it provides, frame our tactical slogans in conformity with our conduct and our immediate aims, give the masses a proper understanding of those immediate aims, and start most extensively organising the workers everywhere to fight in an uprising, create a revolutionary army, and form a provisional revolutionary government!


[1] “The Revolutionary Army and the Revolutionary Government”, 1905. See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 559-67.—Ed.

[2] First published in 1905. See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 544-54.—Ed.

[3] First published in pamphlet form in Geneva, 1898. See present edition, Vol. 2, p. 342.—Ed.

[4] First published in Iskra, 1902. See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 515-16.—Ed.


While the Proletariat is Doing the Fighting the Bourgeoisie is Stealing Towards Power

Proletary, No. 10, August 2 (July 20), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 9, pages 169-178.

In war-time the diplomats stand idle, but when hostilities are over they are very much in the picture, casting up the results, making out the bills, and acting the honest broker.

Something of the kind is under way in the Russian revolution as well. During the armed clashes between the people and the forces of autocracy, the liberal bourgeois lie low; they are against violence either from above or from below, and are opposed both to the authorities’ acts of despotism and to mob anarchy. It is only when the fighting is over that they appear on the scene, their political decisions clearly reflecting the change in the political situation brought about by the fighting. After January 9 the liberal bourgeoisie turned “pink”; it has now begun to go “red” following the Odessa events, which (in connection with events in the Caucasus, Poland, etc.) point to a steep rise in the people’s insurrection against the autocracy during six months of revolution.

Highly instructive in this respect are three recent liberal congresses. The most conservative of them was that of the merchants and manufacturers, who are most trusted by the autocracy and are undisturbed by the police. They criticise and condemn the Bulygin scheme and demand a constitution, but, as far as we can judge from the incomplete information available, they do not even raise the question of boycotting the Bulygin elections. The most radical of the three was a delegate Congress of the Union of Unions[2]   held in secret within a stone’s throw of St. Petersburg, but on non-Russian soil—in Finland. Congress members are said to have taken the precaution of concealing their papers, police searches at the border yielding no results. By a majority vote (though there seems to have been a sizable minority) this Congress approved a thorough and determined boycott of the Bulygin elections and called for a widespread campaign for universal suffrage.

In the middle stood the most “influential”, fanfared, and vociferous of the three, the Zemstvo and Municipal Congress, which enjoyed almost legal status. The police drew up a protocol just as a matter of form, their demand that the Congress break up merely evoking smiles. But newspapers that began to report the Congress were either suspended (Slovo)[3] or cautioned (Russkiye Vedomosti). According to Mr. Pyotr Dolgorukov’s concluding address as reported in The Times, the Congress was attended by 216 delegates. Reports on its proceedings were cabled to all parts of the world by foreign correspondents. No opinion whatever was expressed on the main political issue—a boycott of the Bulygin “constitution”. According to British newspapers, the majority stood for a boycott, but the Organising Committee was against it. A compromise was reached, leaving the question open pending publication of the Bulygin scheme, after which a new congress was to be convened by telegraph. Naturally, the Bulygin scheme was strongly condemned by the Congress, which adopted the Osvobozhdeniye draft constitution (providing for a monarchy and a two-chamber system), rejected an appeal to the tsar, and decided to “appeal to the people”.

We are not yet in possession of the latter appeal. According to the foreign press, it amounts to a survey, couched in moderate terms, of events since the November Zemstvo Congress, as well as a list of facts revealing the government’s unconscionable procrastination, its broken promises, and cynical flouting of the demands of public opinion. Besides an appeal to the people, an almost unanimous resolution was passed calling for resistance to the government’s unjust and arbitrary acts. “In view of the arbitrary acts of the Administration and the constant violation of the rights of the public,” the resolution declares, “the Congress deems it incumbent upon all to defend the natural rights of man by   peaceful means, including resistance to the acts of the authorities violating these rights, although such acts may be based on the letter of the law.” (We quote from The Times.)

So our liberal bourgeoisie has beyond doubt taken a step to the left. The revolution marches on—the bourgeois democrats hobble along in the rear. The true nature of this democracy, as bourgeois democracy, representing the propertied classes’ interests and inconsistently and self-interestedly defending the cause of freedom, is being revealed ever more clearly, even though bourgeois democracy is going “red” and sometimes attempts to use “almost revolutionary” language.

Indeed, postponement of a decision on the boycott of the Bulygin constitution can denote nothing but a desire to go on haggling with the autocracy, a lack of self-confidence within the majority which seemed to emerge in favour of a boycott, and a tacit admission that, while asking for nothing short of a constitution, the landowners and the merchants would, probably, agree to something less. Even if a congress of liberal bourgeois does not venture to break at once with the autocracy and the Bulygin farce, what can be expected of that congress of all and sundry bourgeois which is to be styled the Bulygin “Duma” and will be elected (if ever elected it will be!) under every kind of pressure from the autocratic government?

That is exactly how the autocratic government looks upon this act of the liberals, which it considers merely an episode in the bourgeoisie’s chaffering. On the one hand, the autocracy, in view of the liberals’ discontent, is “adding to” its promises—the Bulygin scheme, according to reports in the foreign press, is to include a number of new “liberal” changes. On the other hand, the autocracy is replying to Zemstvo discontent with a new threat: characteristic in this respect is a Times report, which says that Bulygin and Goremykin propose, as a measure against Zemstvo “radicalism”, to stir up the peasants against “the quality” by promising them extra land in the name of the tsar, and holding a “people’s” plebiscite (with the aid of the Rural Superintendents[4]), on the question of whether or not the elections should be held on a social-estate basis. This report is, of course, just a rumour set afloat, probably with a definite purpose,   but there can be no doubt that the government is not afraid to resort to the grossest, most brutal, and most unbridled demagogy; nor is it afraid of an uprising by “masses on the rampage” and the dregs of society, while the liberals are afraid of the people rising up against their oppressors, against the- heroes of plunder, looting, and bashi-bazouk atrocities. The government has long been shedding blood in a way and on a scale that have no precedent, yet the liberals respond by saying they want to prevent bloodshed! After a reply of this kind, is not any hired thug entitled to despise them as bourgeois hagglers? After this, is it not ridiculous to adopt a resolution calling for an appeal to the people and recognising “peaceful resistance” to violence and arbitrary acts? The government is distributing arms right and left, and bribing all comers to beat up and massacre Jews, “democrats”, Armenians, Poles, and so on. But our “democrats” still think that campaigning for “peaceful resistance” is a revolutionary” step!

In No. 73 of Osvobozhdeniye, which we have just received, Mr. Struve is ireful against Mr. Suvorin[5] for the latter’s condescendingly patting Mr. Ivan Petrunkevich on the back and suggesting that such liberals should be mollified with posts in ministries and government departments. Mr. Struve is indignant, for it is precisely Mr. Petrunkevich and his Zemstvo supporters (“who, before history and the nation, have committed themselves to a programme”—What kind of programme? Where did they commit themselves?) that he has designated for ministerial posts in some future Cabinet to be formed by the Constitutional-Democratic Party. We, however, hold that the way in which the Petrunkeviches behaved both at their reception by the tsar and at the Zemstvo Congress of July 6 (19) has given even the Suvorins good reason to despise such “democrats”. “Every sincere and thinking liberal in Russia demands a revolution,” Mr. Struve writes. For our part we shall add that if in July 1905 this “demand for a revolution” is voiced in a resolution on peaceable methods of resistance then the Suvorins have every right to despise and sneer at such a “demand” and at such “revolutionaries

Mr. Struve will, probably, retort that events which have until now swung our liberals to the left will in due course   carry them farther still. Here is what he has written in the selfsame No. 73:

“Conditions for the army’s physical intervention in the political struggle will actually be provided only when the autocratic monarchy clashes with a nation organised through popular representation. The army will then have to choose between the government and the nation, and the choice will not be difficult or mistaken.”

This peaceful idyll looks very much like putting revolution off until the Greek calends.[6] Who is to organise the nation in a popular representation? The autocracy? But the latter consents to organise only the Bulygin Duma, which you yourselves are protesting against and refuse to recognise as popular representation! Or, perhaps, the “nation” will itself organise representation of the people? If so, why is it that the liberals are dead set against a provisional revolutionary government, which can rely only on a revolutionary army? Why is it that, while at their congress they spoke in the name of the people, the liberals are taking no step that would signify the nation being organised in a popular representation? If, gentlemen, you really represent the people and not the bourgeoisie which betrays the interests of the people in the revolution, why don’t you appeal to the army? Why don’t you announce a break with the autocratic monarchy? Why do you shut your eyes to the inevitability of a decisive struggle between the army of revolution and the army of tsarism?

The reason is that you are afraid of the revolutionary people; you address them in trite words, while in actual fact you reckon and haggle with the autocracy. Additional proof of that is provided by the talks held by Mr. Golovin, Chair man of the Zemstvo Congress’s Organising Committee, with Kozlov, Governor General of Moscow. Mr. Golovin assured Kozlov that rumours of any intent to turn the Congress into a constituent assembly were absurd. What does that mean? It means in effect that a representative of organised bourgeois democracy gave his pledge to a representative of the autocracy that bourgeois democracy has no intention of breaking with the autocracy! Only political tyros will fail to realise that an undertaking not to declare the Congress a constituent assembly was tantamount to promising to refrain   from all genuinely revolutionary measures: Kozlov, of course, shied not at the words “constituent assembly” but at acts that could exacerbate the conflict and lead to the people and the army beginning a determined struggle against tsarism. Is it not political hypocrisy for you to call your selves revolutionaries, talk of appealing to the people and placing no more reliance in the tsar, while in actual fact you reassure the tsar’s servants as to your intentions?

Oh, those florid liberal phrases! How many were uttered at the Congress by Mr. Petrunkevich, leader of the “Constitutional-Democratic” Party! Let us see what commitments to “history and the nation” he has assumed. The source is The Times.

Mr. de Roberti spoke in favour of petitioning the tsar. This was opposed by Petrunkevich, Novosiltsev, Shakhovskoi, and Rodichev. A ballot produced only six votes for a petition. Mr. Petrunkevich had said that “when they went to Peterhof on June 6(19), they still hoped the tsar would under stand the terrible dangers of the situation and do something to avert them. All hope in that direction must be abandoned. There remained only one issue. Till now they had hoped for reform from above, but henceforth their only hope was in the people. (Loud applause.) They must tell them the truth in plain and homely words. The inability and impotence of the government had promoted revolution. That was a fact which they all had to recognise. Their duty was to use every effort to prevent the accompaniment of bloodshed. Many of them had devoted long years to the service of their countrymen; they must go boldly to the people, no longer to the tsar.” On the following day Mr. Petrunkevich continued: "We must break out of the narrow confines of our activities and go to the peasant. Till now we hoped for reforms from above, but, while we waited, time was doing its work. Expedited by the government revolution has overtaken us. Yesterday two of our members were so much frightened by the word revolution that they left the Congress, but we must face the situation manfully. We cannot wait with folded arms. The objection has been raised that any appeal to the nation by the Zemstvos and Municipal Councils will amount to agitation that stirs up unrest. But does calm reign in the villages? No, unrest already exists there, and of the worst kind.   We cannot keep the storm in check, but we must at least try to avert too much turmoil. We must tell the people that it is useless to destroy factories and estates. We cannot regard such destruction as mere vandalism: it is the peasants’ blind and ignorant way of remedying an evil which they instinctively feel but are unable to understand. The authorities may reply with the knout. It is nevertheless our duty to go to the people. We should have done that earlier. The Zemstvos have been in existence for forty years without coming into close and intimate contact with the peasants. Let us lose no time in rectifying this error. We must tell the peasant that we stand with him.”

Excellent, Mr. Petrunkevich! You stand with the peas ants, with the people; you recognise the revolution as a fact, and have abandoned all hope in the tsar.... Good luck to you, gentlemen! Only... only, what exactly do you mean? You say you are not with the tsar, but with the people, so therefore you promise Governor General Kozlov that the Congress will not act as a constituent assembly, i.e., as a body that is genuinely and actually representative of the people. You recognise the revolution, so therefore you reply with peaceful methods of resistance to the atrocities, killings, and pillage perpetrated by the government’s servants. You go to the peasant and stand with the peasant, so therefore you confine yourselves to a most vague programme, whose only promise is that the peasants may buy back land, given the landlords’ consent. You are not with the tsar, but with the people, so therefore you accept a draft constitution which, in the first place, provides for a monarchy and the tsar’s control of the army and the bureaucracy, and, in the second place, guarantees in advance the political supremacy of the landlords and the big bourgeoisie through an upper chamber.[1]

The liberal bourgeoisie is turning to the people. That is true. It has been forced to do so, for without the people it is powerless to fight the autocracy. But it is also afraid of the revolutionary people; it does not turn to the latter as a representative of their interests, or as a new and ardent   comrade-in-arms, but as a chafferer, a stockjobber, who dashes from one belligerent to the other. Today it is with the tsar and implores him on behalf of the “people” to grant a monarchist constitution, at the same time cravenly renouncing the people, “unrest”, “sedition”, and revolution. On the morrow it threatens the tsar at its congress, threatens him with a monarchist constitution, and with peaceable resistance to his bayonets. And yet, gentlemen, you are surprised that the tsar’s servants have taken the measure of your craven, petty, double-dealing souls. You are afraid to remain without a tsar, but the tsar is not afraid to remain without you. You are afraid of a decisive struggle; the tsar is not afraid of that, but wants it; he is himself provoking and commencing the struggle; he wants a test of strength before he yields. It is quite natural for the tsar to despise you. It is quite natural for his contempt to be conveyed to you by his lackeys, the Suvorins, who patronisingly pat your Mr. Petrunkevich on the back. You deserve this contempt, for you are not fighting on the people’s side, but are only stealing towards power behind the backs of the revolutionary people.

On occasions foreign correspondents and bourgeois publicists grasp the gist of the matter very aptly, although their rendering is somewhat peculiar. M. Gaston Leroux has undertaken to present the Zemstvo views in Matin[7]: “There is disorder above and disorder below; we alone are people of order,” he writes. That, indeed, is what the Zemstvos think. Translated into plain Russian that means: Both above and below, there are people ready to do the fighting, but as for us, we are honest brokers—we are stealing towards power. We are waiting in the hope that our March 18 will also come round, that the people will at least once defeat the government in street fighting, and that, like the German liberal bourgeoisie, we shall get an opportunity to take over power, following the first victory of the people. Then, after becoming a force against the autocracy, we shall turn against the revolutionary people and strike a deal with the tsar, against the people. Our draft constitution is a ready-made programme of such a deal.

Quite a skilful calculation! One has sometimes to say of the revolutionary people that which the Romans said of   Hannibal: “You know how to win victories, but you don’t know how to profit by them.” A victorious rising will not yet be a victory of the people unless it leads to a revolutionary upheaval, to the complete overthrow of the autocracy, to the ousting of the inconsistent and selfish bourgeoisie, and to a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.

Le Temps, organ of the French conservative bourgeoisie, has straightforwardly advised the Zemstvos to put a speedy end to the conflict by coming to terms with the tsar (editorial of July 24, New Style). Reforms, it says, are impossible without a union of moral force and material force. Only the government has material force. The Zemstvos are a moral force.

This is an excellent rendering of bourgeois views—and excellent confirmation of our analysis of Zemstvo policy. The bourgeois has forgotten a petty detail, the people, the scores of millions of workers and peasants, whose labour creates all the bourgeoisie’s wealth, and who are fighting for the liberty they need as they do light or air. The bourgeois has been entitled to forget them, inasmuch as they have not yet proved their “material force” by defeating the government. No major historical issue has ever been decided otherwise than by “material force”, and the tsarist autocracy, we repeat, is itself starting the struggle by challenging the people to a test of strength.

The French bourgeoisie is advising the Russian bourgeoisie to come speedily to terms with the tsar. It is afraid, albeit vicariously, of a decisive struggle. If the people are victorious it remains to be seen whether they will allow the Petrunkeviches to take power, although the latter are stealing towards it. It cannot be gauged in advance how decisive the victory will be and what consequences it will have—and this fully accounts for the bourgeoisie’s timidity.

All over Russia the proletariat is preparing for the decisive struggle. It is marshalling its forces; it learns and gains strength after each new clash; past encounters have all ended in failure, but have invariably led to fresh and stronger attacks. The proletariat is marching to victory and rousing the peasantry to follow its leadership. Relying on the peasantry it will paralyse the instability and   treachery of the bourgeoisie, brush aside bourgeois bidders for power, crush the autocracy by force, and eradicate from Russian life all traces of the accursed system of serf- ownership. When that time comes we shall win for the people not a monarchist constitution, which secures political privileges for the bourgeoisie—no, we shall win for Russia a republic, with full liberty for all oppressed nationalities, for the peasants and the workers. We shall then use all the revolutionary energy of the proletariat for the boldest and most far-reaching struggle for socialism, for the complete emancipation of all toilers from exploitation of any kind.


[1] See the leaflet “Three Constitutions” published by our newspaper. (See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 557-58.—Ed.)—Lenin

[2] The Union of Unions—a political organisation of liberal bourgeois intellectuals, founded in May 1905 at the first congress of representatives of 14 unions, such as lawyers, writers, medical men, engineers, teachers, and the like. In 1905 the Union favoured a boycott of the Bulygin Duma, but soon changed its stand, deciding to take part in the Duma elections. It fell apart towards the close of 1906.

Regarding the attitude of Social-Democracy towards the liberal unions see pp. 281-82 in this volume.

[3] Slovo (The Word)—a bourgeois daily published in St. Petersburg from 1903 till 1909. Originally a Right-wing Zemstvo organ, it became the mouthpiece of the Octobrist Party from November 1905 till July 1906, when it ceased publication. Publication was resumed on November 19 (December 2), 1906, when the paper became the organ of the constitutional monarchist party of “Peaceful Renovation”, which in essence in no way differed from the Octobrists.

[4] Rural Superintendent (Zemsky Nachalnik) —an administrative post instituted in 1889 by the tsarist government with the aim of strengthening the landlords’ authority over the peasants. Rural Superintendents were selected from among the local landed nobility, and were given very great powers not only of an administrative character, but also judicial, which included the right to arrest peasants and administer corporal punishment.

[5] Suvorin, A. S.—editor of the reactionary newspaper Novoye Vremya from 1876 till 1912.

[6] Until the Greek calends— a translation of the Latin ad calendas graecas. The calends was the name given in the Roman calendar to the first day of each month. The Greek calendar had no calends, so the expression means “never”.

[7] Le Matin—the name of a French bourgeois daily paper that was founded in 1884.


The Boycott of the Bulygin Duma, and Insurrection

Proletary, No. 12, August 16 (3), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 179-187.

At present the political situation in Russia is as follows: the Bulygin Duma may soon be convened—a consultative assembly of representatives of the landlords and the big bourgeoisie, elected under the supervision and with the assistance of the autocratic government’s servants on the basis of an electoral system so indirect, so blatantly based on property and social-estate qualifications, that it is sheer mockery of the idea of popular representation. What should our attitude towards this Duma be? The liberal democrats give two replies to this question. The Left wing, represented by the “Union of Unions”—mostly representatives of the bourgeois intelligentsia—is in favour of boycotting this Duma, of abstaining from participation in the elections, and of taking advantage of the opportunity for increased agitation for a democratic constitution on the basis of universal suffrage. The Right wing, as represented by the Zemstvo and Municipal Congress of July, or, to be more correct, by a certain section of that Congress, is opposed to a boycott and favours participation in the elections and getting as many of its candidates as possible elected to the Duma. True, the Congress has not yet passed any resolution on this question and has postponed the matter until the next Congress which is to be convened by telegraph following promulgation of the Bulygin “constitution”. However, the opinion of liberal democracy’s Right wing has already taken shape.

Revolutionary democracy, i.e., in the main, the proletariat, and Social-Democracy, the vehicle of its conscious expression, is, by and large, fully in favour of insurrection.   This difference in tactics has been correctly appraised by Osvobozhdeniye, organ of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie. Its latest issue (No. 74), on the one hand roundly condemns “open advocacy of insurrection” as “insane and criminal”; on the other hand it criticises the idea of a boycott as “fruitless for practical purposes” and expresses the conviction that not only the Zemstvo section of the Constitutional-“Democratic” (read: Monarchist) Party but the Union of Unions, too, will “pass their state examination”, i.e., abandon the idea of a boycott.

The question arises: what attitude should the party of the class-conscious proletariat take towards the idea of a boycott, and what tactical slogan should it bring into the foreground for the masses of the people? For a reply to this question we must first of all call to mind the essence and radical significance of the Bulygin “constitution”. It is, in fact, tsarism’s deal with the landlords and big bourgeoisie, who, in return for innocent, pseudo-constitutional sops that are quite innocuous to the autocracy, are to be gradually drawn away from the revolutions i.e., from the fighting people, and reconciled with the autocracy. The possibility of such a deal cannot be doubted, since all our Constitutional-“Democratic” Party is eager to preserve the monarchy and the upper chamber (i.e., in advance to secure for the moneyed “upper ten thousand” political privileges and political domination in the country’s system of state). Moreover, such a deal is sooner or later inevitable in one form or another, at least with a section of the bourgeoisie, for it is prescribed by the very class position of the bourgeoisie in the capitalist system. The only question is when and how this deal will take place. The task confronting the party of the proletariat is to delay conclusion of this deal for as long as possible, to split up the bourgeoisie as much as possible, to derive from the bourgeoisie’s temporary appeals to the people the greatest possible advantage for the revolution, and meanwhile to prepare the forces of the revolutionary people (the proletariat and the peasantry) for the forcible overthrow of the autocracy and for the alienation, the neutralisation of the treacherous bourgeoisie.

In fact, the gist of the bourgeoisie’s political position is, as we have frequently pointed out, that it stands between   the tsar and the people, and would play the part of the “honest broker” and steal into power behind the back of the militant people. That is why the bourgeoisie appeals to the tsar one day, and to the people the next, making “serious” and “business-like” proposals for a political deal to the former, and addressing empty phrases about liberty (Mr. I. Petrunkevich’s speeches at the July Congress) to the latter. It is to our advantage that the bourgeoisie should appeal to the people, for by doing so it provides material that will help to rouse and enlighten politically those huge backward masses of people to reach whom through Social- Democratic agitation would be sheer utopianism for the time being Let the bourgeoisie stir up those that are most backward; let it break the soil here and there; we shall untiringly sow the seeds of Social-Democracy in that soil. Everywhere in the West, in its struggle against autocracy the bourgeoisie was compelled to rouse the people’s political consciousness, while at the same time striving to sow the seeds of bourgeois theories among the working class. It is for us to take advantage of the bourgeoisie’s work of destroying the autocracy and systematically enlighten the working class concerning its socialist aims and the irreconcilable antagonism between its interests and those of the bourgeoisie.

Hence it is clear that our tactics at present should first of all consist in support for the idea of a boycott. The very question of a boycott lies within the bounds of bourgeois democracy. The working class is not directly interested in it, but it is definitely interested in supporting that section of bourgeois democracy which is more revolutionary; it is interested in extending and intensifying political agitation. A boycott of the Duma means a more vigorous appeal to the people by the bourgeoisie, a development of its agitation, a greater number of opportunities for our agitation, and a more intense political crisis, which is the source of the revolutionary movement. The participation of the liberal bourgeoisie in the Duma means a slackening in its agitation at the present time, its appealing more to the tsar than to the people, and the approach of a counter-revolutionary deal between the tsar and the bourgeoisie.

Even if it is not prevented from meeting, the Bulygin Duma must of necessity give rise to political conflicts that   the proletariat should not fail to take advantage of—but that is a matter for the future. It would be ridiculous to renounce utilising this bourgeois-bureaucratic Duma for purposes of agitation and struggle, but at the moment that is not the point. At present the Left wing of bourgeois democracy itself has raised the issue of waging a direct and immediate struggle against the Duma by means of a boycott, and we must exert all our efforts to support this more deter mined onslaught. We must take the bourgeois democrats, the Osvobozhdeniye people, at their word, give the widest publicity to their “Petrunkevich-like” phrases about an appeal to the people, expose them to the people, and show that the first and least real test of these phrases was the question of whether we should boycott the Duma (i.e., turn in protest to the people) or accept the Duma (i.e. abstain from protesting, go once more to the tsar, and accept this travesty of popular representation).

Secondly, we must exert every effort to make the boycott of real use in extending and intensifying agitation, so that it shall not be reduced to mere passive abstention from voting. If we are not mistaken this idea is already fairly widespread among the comrades working in Russia, who express it in the words: an active boycott. As distinct from passive abstention, an active boycott should imply in creasing agitation tenfold, organising meetings everywhere, taking advantage of election meetings, even if we have to force our way into them, holding demonstrations, political strikes, and so on and so forth. It goes without saying that to further agitation and struggle in this connection, temporary agreements with various groups of revolutionary bourgeois democrats, generally permitted by a number of our Party resolutions, are especially expedient. But here we must, on the one hand, steadfastly preserve the class individuality of the party of the proletariat, and must not for a single moment abandon our Social-Democratic criticism of our bourgeois allies; on the other hand, we should be failing in our duty as the party of the advanced class if in our agitation we failed to produce an advanced revolutionary slogan at the present stage of the democratic revolution.

That is our third direct and immediate political task. As we have already said, “an active boycott” means agitation,   recruiting, organising revolutionary forces on a larger scale, with redoubled energy, and bringing redoubled pressure to bear. Such work, however, is unthinkable without a clear, precise, and immediate slogan. Only an armed uprising can be that slogan. The government’s convocation of a crudely faked “popular” representative body provides excellent opportunities for agitation for a truly popular representative body, for making the broadest masses of the people understand that at present (after the tsar’s frauds and his mockery of the people) only a provisional revolutionary government can convene a truly representative body, and that to establish such a government the victory of an insurrection and the actual overthrow of tsarist rule are necessary. It would be hard to imagine a better time for widespread agitation for an uprising and in order to conduct that agitation full clarity regarding the programme of a provisional revolutionary government is also necessary. This programme should consist of the six points which we have indicated previously (see Proletary, No.7, “The Revolutionary Army and the Revolutionary Government”[1] ): 1) convocation of a popular constituent assembly; 2) arming of the people; 3) political freedom—the immediate repeal of all laws that contradict it; 4) complete cultural and political freedom for all oppressed and disfranchised nationalities—the Russian people cannot win liberty for themselves without fighting for the liberty of the other nationalities; 5) an eight-hour working day; 6) the establishment of peasant committees for the support and implementation of all democratic reforms, among them agrarian reforms, up to and including the confiscation of the landlords’ land.

To sum up: the most energetic support for the idea of a boycott; exposure of the Right wing of bourgeois democracy, which rejects the boycott, as traitors; making the boycott an active one, i.e., building up a most widespread agitation; advocating an insurrection and calling for the immediate organisation of combat squads and contingents of a revolutionary army for the overthrow of the autocracy and the establishment of a provisional revolutionary government; spreading and popularising the fundamental and absolutely   obligatory programme of this provisional revolutionary government, a programme which is to serve as the banner of the uprising and as a model for all future repetitions of the Odessa events.

Such should be the tactics of the party of the class- conscious proletariat. In order to make this tactics perfectly clear and to achieve unity we must also deal with Iskra’s tactics. It is set forth in No. 106 of that paper in an article entitled “Defence or Attack”. We shall not take up the minor and partial differences, which will dissolve at the first attempts to take action; we shall deal only with the fundamental difference. While quite correctly condemning a passive boycott, the Iskra contraposes to it the idea of the immediate “organisation of revolutionary self-government bodies”, as a “possible prologue to an uprising”. In Iskra’s opinion we must “seize the right to carry on agitation in the election campaign by establishing workers’ agitation committees”. These committees “must set themselves the aim of organising popular elections of revolutionary deputies by going outside the ’legal’ limits which will be established by Ministerial Bills”, we must “cover the country with a network of revolutionary self-government bodies”.

Such a slogan is absolutely useless. Viewed in the light of the political tasks in general it is a jumble, while in the light of the immediate political situation it brings grist to the mill of the Osvobozhdeniye trend. The organisation of revolutionary self-government, the election of their own deputies by the people is not the prologue to an uprising, but its epilogue. To attempt to bring about this organisation now, before an uprising and apart from an uprising, means setting oneself absurd aims and causing confusion in the minds of the revolutionary proletariat. It is first of all necessary to win the victory in an uprising (if only in a single city) and to establish a provisional revolutionary government, so that the latter, as the organ of the uprising and the recognised leader of the revolutionary people, should be able to get down to the organisation of revolutionary self- government. To obscure the slogan of insurrection or relegate it into the background by proposing a slogan demanding the organisation of a revolutionary self-government is some thing like giving advice that the fly should first be caught and   then stuck on the fly-paper. If during the celebrated Odessa events our Odessa comrades had been advised to organise not a revolutionary army, but the election of deputies by the people of Odessa as a prologue to an uprising, those comrades would undoubtedly have laughed such advice to scorn. Iskra is repeating the mistake made by the Economists, who wished to see in the “struggle for rights” a prologue to the struggle against the autocracy. Iskra is reverting to the misadventure of the unfortunate “plan of the Zemstvo campaign”, which obscured the slogan of insurrection with the theory of a “higher type of .demonstration”.

This is not the place to dwell on the origin of Iskra’s tactical blunder. We shall refer the interested reader to N. Lenin’s pamphlet Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution. It is more important here to point out how the slogan of the new Iskra lapses into that of Osvobozhdeniye. In actual practice attempts to organise popular elections of deputies before the uprising is victorious would only play into the hands of the Osvobozhdeniye people with the result that the Social-Democrats would be trailing behind them. Until replaced by a provisional revolutionary government the autocracy will not permit the workers and the people to conduct any elections that can in any way be called popular (and Social-Democrats will not agree to a travesty of “popular” elections under the autocracy); but the Osvobozhdeniye League, Zemstvo members and the municipal councillors will conduct elections and blatantly pass them off as “popular”, and as an expression of “revolutionary self-government”. The line now taken by the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie consists in trying to avert an uprising, compel the autocracy to recognise the Zemstvo elections as popular elections without the people’s victory over tsarism.and convert the Zemstvo and municipal self-government bodies into organs of “revolutionary” (in the Petrunkevich sense) “self-government”, without a real revolution. An excellent expression of this line is to be found in No. 74 of Osvobozhdeniye. It would be hard to imagine anything more disgusting than this ideologist of the cowardly bourgeoisie, who asserts that advocacy of insurrection “demoralises” both the army and the people! And this is said at   a time when even the blind can see that it is only through an uprising that the ordinary Russian citizen and soldier can save himself from utter demoralisation and vindicate his right to citizenship! The bourgeois Manilov pictures to himself an Arcadian idyll in which the mere pressure of “public opinion” alone “will compel the government to make concession after concession, until finally it can go no further and will have to hand over the power to a constituent assembly elected on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, direct elections, and a secret ballot, as is demanded by society ..." (! with an upper chamber?). “There is nothing at all improbable in this peaceful [!! I transition of power from the present government to a national constituent assembly, which will organise state and governmental power on a new basis.” And this masterly philosophy of the cringing bourgeoisie is rounded off with the advice that the army, particularly the officers, should be won over; that a people’s militia be established “without official authorisation”, and that local self-government bodies (read: of land lords and capitalists) should be set up as “elements of a future provisional government”.

There is method in this muddle. What the bourgeoisie wants is to be given power “peacefully”, without a popular uprising, which may prove victorious, win a republic and genuine liberty, arm the proletariat, and rouse millions of peasants. To obscure the slogan of insurrection, to abandon it and make others follow suit, to advise the immediate establishment, by way of a “prologue”, of popular self-government (to which only the Trubetskois, Petrunkeviches, Fyodorovs, and the like will be admitted)—that is what the bourgeoisie needs in order to betray the revolution and strike a bargain with the tsar (a monarchy with an upper chamber) against the “mob”. Liberal Manilovism, there fore, voices the innermost thoughts of the money-bags, their most profound interests.

Iskra’s Social-Democratic Manilovism expressed merely the thoughtlessness of a section of the Social-Democrats, their departure from the proletariat’s only revolutionary tactics, viz., ruthless exposure of the bourgeois-opportunist illusions that peaceful concessions from tsarism are possible, that popular self-government can be instituted without   the autocracy being overthrown, and that election of deputies by the people is possible as a prologue to an uprising. No, we must clearly and resolutely show the necessity of an insurrection in the present state of affairs; we must issue a direct call for an uprising (without, of course, fixing the date beforehand) and call for the immediate organisation of a revolutionary army. Only the boldest and most widespread organisation of such an army can be the prologue to an uprising. Only an uprising can actually guarantee the victory of the revolution; of course, those who know the local conditions will always caution against attempts at a premature uprising. The real organisation of real people’s self-government can take place only as the epilogue of a victorious uprising.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 565-66.—Ed.


“Oneness of the Tsar and the People, and of the People and the Tsar”

Proletary, No. 14, August 29 (16), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 191-199.

In Proletary, No. 12, which appeared on August 3(16), we spoke of the possibility of the Bulygin Duma being convened in the near future, and analysed the tactics of Social- Democracy towards it.[1] The Bulygin scheme has now become law and the Manifesto of August 6 (19) has proclaimed that a “State Duma” will be called “no later than mid-January 1906”.

It is on the anniversary of January 9, when the St. Peters burg workers placed the seal of their blood on the beginning of the revolution in Russia and showed their determination to fight desperately for its victory—it is on the anniversary of that great day that the tsar proposes to convene this grossly faked, police-sifted assembly of landowners, capitalists, and a negligible number of rich peasants who cringe to the authorities. The tsar intends to consult this assembly as one consisting of representatives of the people”. But the entire working class, all the millions of toilers and those who are not householders are completely barred from the elections of the “people’s representatives”. We shall wait and see whether the tsar is right in banking thus on the impotence of the working class....

Until the revolutionary proletariat has armed itself and defeated the autocratic government nothing more could have been expected than this sop to the big bourgeoisie, one that costs the tsar nothing and commits him to nothing. Even this sop would, probably, not have been given at this time, if the ominous question of war or peace had not loomed large. Without consulting the landlords and capitalists, the autocratic government does not venture either to impose on the people the burden of the senseless continuation of   the war, or to work out measures to shift the entire burden of paying for the war from the shoulders of the rich to the shoulders of the workers and peasants.

As for the provisions of the State Duma Act, they fully confirm our worst expectations. It is not known as yet whether this Duma will actually be convened. Such doles can easily be taken away again, and the autocratic monarchs of every country have made and broken similar promises by the score. It is not yet known to what extent this future Duma, if it meets at all and is not wrecked, will be able to become the centre of really far-reaching political agitation among the masses of the people, against the autocracy. But there can be no doubt that the very provisions of the new State Duma Act furnish us with a wealth of material with which to conduct agitation, explain the nature of the autocracy, disclose its class basis, reveal the irreconcilability of its interests with those of the people, and spread and popularise our revolutionary-democratic demands. It may be stated without exaggeration that the Manifesto and Act of August 6 (19) ought now to become a vademecum to every political agitator, every class-conscious worker, for it faithfully reflects all the infamy, viciousness, Asiatic barbarity, violence, and exploitation that pervade the whole social and political system of Russia. Practically every sentence in the Manifesto and the Act provides excellent basis for the most comprehensive and convincing political commentaries, which will stimulate democratic thought and revolutionary consciousness.

As the Russian saying runs: “Leave it alone and it won’t stink.” When one reads the Manifesto and the State Duma Act one feels as though a mass of sewage that has been accumulating since time immemorial were being stirred up under one’s very nose.

Centuries of oppression of the working people, the ignorance and downtrodden state of the people, and the stagnation in economic life and all fields of culture have enabled the autocracy to maintain its position. This formed the background for the untrammelled development and hypocritical dissemination of the doctrine of “the indissoluble oneness of the tsar and the people and the oneness of the people and the tsar”, the doctrine that the tsar’s autocratic   power stands above all social estates and classes of the nation, above the division of the people into rich and poor, and expresses the general interests of the entire nation. What we now have before us is a practical attempt to display this “oneness” in the most diffident and embryonic fashion, through simple consultation with the “elected representatives of the whole of Russia”. And what do we see? We at once see that “the oneness of the tsar and the people” is possible only through the medium of an army of bureaucrats and policemen who see to it that the muzzle put on the people is kept firmly in place. This “oneness” requires that the people should not dare to open their mouths. By “people” is meant only the landlords and capitalists, who are allowed to take part in the two-stage elections (voting first for electors, by rural districts or city wards, and these electors in their turn elect the members of the State Duma). Peasant householders are classed among the people only after having been sifted through four-stage elections, under the supervision and with the assistance and instruction of the Marshals of the Nobility,[3] the Rural Superintendents, and police officials. First the householders elect members of the volost assembly; then the volost assemblies elect delegates from the volosts, two from each assembly; then these volost delegates elect the gubernia electors. Finally, the gubernia electors of the peasants, together with the gubernia electors of the landlords and (urban) capitalists elect the members of the State Duma! Almost everywhere the peasants constitute a minority of the gubernia electors. They are guaranteed the election of only one member of the State Duma from each gubernia, who has to be a peasant, i.e., 51 seats out of 412 (in the 51 gubernias of European Russia).

The entire urban working class, all the village poor, agricultural labourers, and peasants who are not householders, take no part whatever in any elections.

The oneness of the tsar and the people is in effect the oneness of the tsar and the landlords and capitalists, with a handful of rich peasants thrown in, and with all elections placed under the strictest police control. Freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, and,of association, without which elections are a mere farce, are not even mentioned.

The State Duma has no rights whatever, for none of its   decisions are binding, being merely of an advisory nature. All its decisions are submitted for consideration and approval to the Council of State, i. e., again to the bureaucrats. It is only a flimsy annexe to the bureaucratic and police edifice. The public are not admitted to sittings of the State Duma. Reports on the proceedings of the State Duma may be published in the press only when its sittings are not held in camera; any session may be closed, however, by an official order, which means that the Minister has merely to qualify the matter under consideration as a state secret.

The new State Duma is the same old Russian police station, only on a larger scale. The rich landlord and capitalist manufacturer (on rare occasions, a rich peasant) are admitted for “consultation” to the “open” Sittings of the police station (or the Rural Superintendent, or factory inspector, etc.); they always have the right to submit their opinion for the “gracious attention” of the Emperor... I mean, the police inspector. As for “the common people”, the city workers and the rural poor, it goes without saying that they are never admitted to any kind of “consultation” whatever.

The only difference is that there are many police stations and everything in them is kept out of sight, whereas there is only one State Duma, and it has now become necessary to publish the rules governing its election and the extent of its rights. Publication of this is, we repeat, in itself an excellent exposure of the utter viciousness of the tsarist autocracy.

From the standpoint of the people’s interests the State Duma is the most barefaced mockery of “popular representation”. And, as if to emphasise this mockery we have, on top of this, such facts as Mr. Durnovo’s speech, the arrest of Mr. Milyukov and Co., the scandalous statement made by Mr. Sharapov. In his speech Mr. Durnovo, the new Governor General of Moscow, who is being rapturously hailed by the reactionary press, blurted out the real plans of the government, which, besides the August 6 Manifesto and the State Duma Act, issued an ukase on the same day, revoking the “ukase to the Senate” of February 18, 1905. The ukase of February 18 permitted private individuals to work out projects and propositions designed to improve organisation of the state. Zemstvo members and representatives of the   intelligentsia appealed to this ukase whenever they held meetings, conferences, and congresses tolerated by the police. Now this ukase has been revoked, and all “projects and propositions designed to improve organisation of the state” must be “submitted” to the autocratic government “according to the procedure provided for in establishing the State Duma”! This means the end of agitation, the end of meetings, and congresses. There is a State Duma; and there is nothing more to discuss. This is just what Mr. Durnovo stated when he declared that they would no longer tolerate Zemstvo congresses of any kind.

The liberals of our “Constitutional-Democratic” (read: Monarchist) Party find themselves duped again. They counted on a constitution, and now they are forbidden to carry on any agitation for a constitution on the occasion of the “granting” of an institution which makes a mockery of constitution!

Mr. Sharapov has blurted out still more. In his government-subsidised paper (Russkoye Dyelo) he suggests nothing less than the stationing of Cossacks in the palace where the Duma is to sit ... to provide against the contingency of “unseemly” behaviour on the part of the Duma. The oneness of the tsar and the people requires that the latter’s representatives should speak and act as the tsar wishes. Otherwise the Cossacks will disperse the Duma. Otherwise the members of the Duma may be arrested, even without the assistance of the Cossacks, before they ever get into the Duma. The Manifesto on the oneness of the tsar with the people appeared on Saturday, August 6. On Sunday, August 7, Mr. Milyukov, one of the leaders of the moderate wing of the Osvobozhdeniye League or the “Constitutional-Democratic” (read: Monarchist) Party, was arrested near St. Petersburg, together with some ten of his political colleagues. They are to be prosecuted for membership of the Union of Unions. In all probability they will soon be released, but it will be an easy matter to shut the doors of the Duma against them:

all that is needed is to announce that they are “under court investigation”...!

The Russian people are getting their first little lessons in constitutionalism. All these laws on the elections of popular representatives are not worth a brass farthing until the sovereignty of the people has actually been won and   there is complete freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and association, until citizens are armed and are able to safeguard the inviolability of the person. We have said above that the State Duma is a mockery of popular representation. That is undoubtedly so from the standpoint of the theory of the sovereignty of the people. But this theory is recognised neither by the autocratic government nor by the monarchist-liberal bourgeoisie (the Osvobozhdeniye League or the Constitutional-Monarchist Party). In present-day Russia we have before us three political theories, of whose significance we shall yet speak on more than one occasion. These are: 1) The theory of the tsar’s consultation with the people (or “the oneness of the tsar and the people, and of the people and the tsar”, as it is put in the Manifesto of August 6). 2) The theory of an agreement between the tsar and the people (the programme of the Osvobozhdeniye League and the Zemstvo Congress). 3) The theory of the sovereignty of the people (the programme of Social-Democracy, as well as of revolutionary democracy in general).

From the standpoint of the consultation theory it is quite natural that the tsar should consult only those he wishes to, and only by the methods he wishes. The State Duma is a splendid object lesson showing whom the tsar wants to consult and how. From the standpoint of the theory of an agreement, the tsar is not subject to the will of the people; he must only take it into account. But how he is to take it into account and to what extent, cannot be gathered from the Osvobozhdeniye theory of “agreement”, and whilst power is in the tsar’s hands the Osvobozhdeniye bourgeoisie is inevitably condemned to the wretched position of a cadger, or a go-between, who would use the people’s victories against the people. From the angle of the sovereignty of the people full freedom of agitation and election should first be secured in practice, and then a really popular constituent assembly convened, i.e., an assembly elected by universal and equal suffrage, direct elections, and secret ballot, and endowed with complete power—full, integral, and indivisible power— an assembly which will actually express the sovereignty of the people.

This brings us to our slogan of agitation (the slogan of the R.S.D.L.P.) on the State Duma. Who can really guarantee   freedom of elections and full power to a constituent assembly? Only the armed people, organised in a revolutionary army, which has won over to its side all decent and honest elements in the tsar’s army, has overcome the tsar’s forces and substituted a provisional revolutionary government for the tsar’s autocratic government. The setting up of the State Duma, which, on the one hand, “lures” the people with the idea of a representative form of government, and, on the other hand, is the crudest counterfeit of popular representation, will prove an inexhaustible source of the most widespread revolutionary agitation among the masses, will serve as an excellent occasion for meetings, demonstrations, political strikes, etc. The slogan for all this agitation will be: insurrection, the immediate formation of combat squads and contingents of a revolutionary army, the overthrow of tsarist rule, and the establishment of a provisional revolutionary government which is to convene a popular constituent assembly. The timing of the uprising will depend, of course, on local conditions. We can only state that, generally speaking, it is now in the interests of t he revolutionary proletariat to put off somewhat the timing of an uprising: the workers are being armed gradually, the troops are becoming more and more unreliable, the war crisis is reaching its climax (war or an onerous peace), and in such conditions premature attempts at insurrection may cause enormous harm.

In conclusion, it remains for us to draw a comparison between the tactical slogan briefly outlined above, and other slogans. As we have already stated in Proletary, No. 12, our slogan coincides with what the majority of the comrades working in Russia understand by the term “active boycott”. The tactics of Iskra, which in its No. 106 recommended the immediate setting up of revolutionary self-government bodies and election by the people of their own representatives as a possible prologue to an uprising, is absolutely erroneous. So long as the forces for an armed uprising and its victory are still lacking, it is ridiculous even to speak of revolutionary people’s self-government. That is not the prologue to an uprising, but its epilogue. Such erroneous tactics would merely play into the hands of the Osvobozhdeniye bourgeoisie, in the first place by obscuring or shelving the   slogan of an uprising, and replacing it with the slogan of the organisation of revolutionary self-government. In the second place, it would make it easier for the liberal bourgeois to represent their (Zemstvo and municipal) elections as popular elections, since there can be no popular elections so long as the tsar retains power, and the liberals may yet succeed in carrying out Zemstvo and municipal elections despite Mr. Durnovo’s threats.

The proletariat has been barred from the Duma elections. Actually, the proletariat has no need to boycott the Duma, since by its very institution this tsarist Duma is itself boycotting the proletariat. It is to the proletariat’s advantage, however, to support that section of the bourgeois democrats which is inclined to prefer revolutionary action to haggling, and which favours boycotting the Duma and more intensive agitation among the people for a protest against this Duma. The proletariat must not pass over in silence this first betrayal or inconsistency on the part of the bourgeois democrats, which is expressed in the fact that their representatives talk of boycotting the Duma (at the July Zemstvo Congress the first voting even showed a majority in favour of a boycott), utter pompous phrases about appealing to the people and not to the tsar (Mr. I. Petrunkevich at that same Congress), whereas in reality they are prepared to over look this new flouting of the people’s demands, without making a protest in the real sense of the word or giving it wide publicity, and to abandon the idea of a boycott and enter the Duma. The proletariat cannot but refute. the false phrases that are now so much in vogue in articles published in the legal liberal press (see, for instance, Rus of August 7), which has entered the fray against the idea of a boycott. The gentlemen of the liberal press are corrupting the people with their assurances that the peaceful path, a “peaceful clash of opinions” is possible (why is it that Milyukov could not struggle “peacefully” against Sharapov, gentlemen, why?). The gentlemen of the liberal press are deceiving the people when they declare that the Zemstvos “can to a certain extent [I] paralyse [!! I the pressure which will, undoubtedly, be brought to bear on the peasant electors by the Rural Superintendents and by the local authorities in general”. (Rus, loc. cit.) The liberal journalists are wholly   distorting the role of the State Duma in the Russian revolution, when they compare it with the Prussian. Chamber of the period of the budget conflict with Bismarck (1863). Actually, if one is to make a comparison at all, one must take as an example not a constitutional period but a period of struggle for a constitution, a period of incipient revolution. To do otherwise means to skip directly from a period when the bourgeoisie is revolutionary into a period when the bourgeoisie has made its peace with reaction. (cf. Proletary, No. 5 on the comparison drawn between our Messrs. Petrunkeviches and Mr. Andrássy, “once a revolutionary” and subsequently a Minister.[2] ) The State Duma brings to mind the Prussian “United Landtag” (Diet) established on February 3, 1847, one year before the revolution. The Prussian liberals of those days were also preparing—although they never actually got round to it—to boycott this consultative chamber of landlords, and were asking the people: “Annehmen oder ablehnen?” (“Accept or Decline?”—the title of a pamphlet by Heinrich Simon, a bourgeois liberal, which was published in 1847.) The Prussian United Landtag met (the first session was opened on April 11, 1847, and closed on June 26, 1847) and gave rise to a series of clashes between the constitutionalists and the autocratic government; nevertheless it remained a lifeless institution, until the revolutionary people, headed by the proletariat of Berlin, defeated the royal army in the uprising of March 18, 1848. Then the State Duma... I mean the United Landtag—went up in smoke. An assembly of people’s representatives was then convened (unfortunately not by a revolutionary government but by the king, whom the heroic workers of Berlin had “not finished off”) on the basis of universal suffrage with relative freedom to carry on agitation.

Let the bourgeois betrayers of the revolution enter this still-born State Duma. The proletariat of Russia will intensify its agitation and its preparations for our Russian March 18, 1848 (or better still, August 10, 1792).


[1] See pp. 179-87 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 526-30.—Ed.

[3] Marshal of the Nobility—the elected representative of the nobility of a gubernia or uyezd, who was in charge of all the nobles’ affairs in the area represented. He held a position of influence in the administration, and took the chair at Zemstvo meetings.


The Black Hundreds and the Organisation of an Uprising

Proletary, No. 14, August 29 (16), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 200-204.

The events in Nizhni-Novgorod and Balashov have attracted general attention. In the previous issue we published a detailed account of the Nizhni-Novgorod massacre; in this issue we are giving an account of the massacre in Balashov. The misdeeds of the Black Hundreds are on the increase, and Social-Democrats would do well to turn their attention to this phenomenon and its significance in the general course of revolutionary development. As a supplement to the correspondence from Samara, the following leaflet, issued by the Borisoglebsk group of the R.S.D.L.P., is of interest:

"Workers and inhabitants of the town of Borisoglebsk! The Balashov and Nizhni-Novgorod events, in which the police have proved their ability to organise a massacre of all who hold dissenting views, have shown you the gravity of the situation the revolution is confronting us with. The time for words and platonic criticism has passed. By force of circumstances, the government drives us from words to deeds. It sees that the revolutionary movement has advanced beyond the point where it could be fought against, as has been the case hitherto, by the police and the gendarmerie alone. It realises that in the struggle against the ’internal foe’ the regular armed forces of the Ministry of the Interior will not be sufficient. The entire population of the Russian Empire has become an ’internal foe’ and ’rebellious’, and the government is obliged to enlist volunteers for the regular army. But in this wholesale enlistment into ’government service of tramps, rowdies, hawkers, and similar disreputable characters, who recognise no bureaucratic restrictions whatever, our government has at the same time been forced to change its time-honoured methods of influencing the masses and the time-honoured secret methods of the immediate struggle against the revolution. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Hitherto our government confined itself to waging a struggle against the printed word. It now itself publishes proclamations in the Moskovskiye Vedomosti, Russkoye Dyelo, Orezhdanin, Dyen, and other official organs. Hitherto our government only   hunted down agitators. It now itself sends out prelates, generals, Sharapovs, Gringmuts, and other agitators of its own to conduct agitation among the people. Hitherto our government only throttled all organisation. It now itself organises unions of the Russian people, leagues of patriots, and unions of monarchists. Hitherto our government trembled at the mere thought of an uprising. It now itself organises uprisings of the Black Hundreds, and hopes to provoke a civil war. Terrified at the prospect of the impending revolution the government has seized on such of the latter’s weapons as organisation, propaganda, and agitation. With the aid of these double-edged weapons and with the help of the Black Hundreds, the government is beginning to stage scenes of popular indignation, of counter-revolution. After a ’try-out’ in the marginal provinces it is now beginning a tour of the heart of Russia. We have recently witnessed such scenes in Nizhni-Novgorod and in Balashov, and it cannot be said that the autocracy met with no success there. ’Revolutionary’ methods of struggle proved efficacious; many enemies of the autocracy were murdered or manhandled and the population was terrorised by this legalised terrorism on the part of our government.

“There can be no doubt that the experiment will be further extended. The laurels won by some of the Black Hundreds will give the others no rest until they too will have put their strength to the test. Where there is revolution there is counter-revolution too, and, therefore, Borisoglebsk must also be prepared to experience the organising skill of the eminent representatives of the Black-Hundred trend. We have reason to expect also in Borisoglebsk pogroms against the Jews, against the workers, and against the intellectuals; therefore, in preparation for proper resistance to the ’illegal measures’ which the government has adopted to suppress the revolutionary movement, the Borisoglebsk group is starting a subscription for the organisation of armed self-defence, and invites all those whose sympathies do not lie with the government and the Black Hundreds to help in the organisation of self-defence groups with money and arms.”

In fact, civil war is being forced on the population by the government itself. It is a fact that “tramps, rowdies, and hawkers” are being taken into government service. Under these circumstances bourgeois talk by the Osvobozhdeniye League about the crime and folly of advocating insurrection, about the harmfulness of organising self-defence (Osvobozhdeniye, No. 74) is now not merely inordinate political platitudinarianism, or justification of the autocracy and (in actual fact) servility to Moskovskiye Vedomosti. But, in addition to this, it is impotent peevishness on the part of the Osvobozhdeniye dodderers whom the revolutionary movement has relentlessly consigned to the scrap heap or some old curiosity shop— the place most suitable for them. Theoretical discussions on   the necessity of an uprising may and should be held, and the tactical resolutions on this question should be the outcome of careful thought and deliberation; meanwhile it should not be forgotten that spontaneous events take their own authoritative course regardless of all philosophising. It should not be forgotten that all the tremendous contradictions that have been piling up in Russian life for centuries are now developing with irresistible force bringing the masses to the fore and relegating outworn and dead teachings about, peaceful progress to the rubbish heap. Opportunists of all sorts like to tell us: learn from life. Unfortunately, what they mean by life is only the standing water of peaceful periods, of times of stagnation, when life makes scarcely any progress whatever. These blind people always lag behind the lessons of revolutionary life. Their dead doctrines always fall behind the stormy torrent of revolution, which expresses the most far-reaching demands of life, those involving the most vital interests of the masses.

See, for instance, how ridiculous, in face of these lessons given by life, are the plaints being made by a certain section of Social-Democracy about the danger of a conspiratorial view of the uprising, about a narrow “Jacobin” approach to the question of its necessity, about exaggerating the importance and role of material forces in the impending political events. These plaints started on the eve of an insurrection becoming a most real and vital necessity to the people, just when the masses, who stand farthest from all “conspiracies”, began to be drawn into an insurrection be cause of the misdeeds of the Black Hundreds. A bad doctrine is splendidly rectified by a good revolution. In the new Iskra one can read feeble witticisms (or are they sneers?) of a purely Burenin type[1] about the publication of a special military pamphlet discussing the military questions of the revolution and even going into the question of day and night attacks, about thought having to be given to the matter of headquarters for the uprising, and of about having members of the organisation “on duty” to get timely information of any pogrom, of any “enemy” action, and to give proper and timely orders to our fighting forces, to the organised revolutionary proletariat. And at the same time, as if in derision of the lifeless doctrine of the Mensheviks abroad, we see the actions of the   Mensheviks in Russia. We read that in Ekaterinoslav (see Proletary, No. 13) an agreement was concluded between the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks, and the Bund,[2] in anticipation of violence (a pogrom by the Black Hundreds was expected! Is there a city or village in Russia today that is not expecting something of that kind?). “Joint collection of money for the purchase of arms, a joint plan of action, etc.” What kind of plan this was is evidenced by the fact that at the Bryansk Works, for instance, the Social-Democrats, at a meeting of five hundred workers, called for the organisation of resistance. “Then in the evening the organised workers of the Bryansk Works were quartered in various houses; patrols were stationed, a headquarters was appointed, etc. — in short, we were in complete fighting trim” (incidentally, they let each other know the “location of the headquarters of each organisation” of the three mentioned above).

It is at their own comrades, who are engaged in practical work, that the new-Iskra journalists are sneering.

However much you may turn up your noses, gentlemen, at the question of night attacks and similar purely tactical military questions, however much you may pull wry faces about the “plan” of assigning secretaries of organisations, or their members in general, to stand on duty to provide for any military exigency—life goes its own way, revolution teaches, taking in hand and shaking up the most inveterate pedants. During civil war military questions must of necessity be studied down to the last detail, and the interest the workers show in these questions is a most legitimate and healthy phenomenon. Headquarters (or members of the organisations on duty) must of necessity be organised. The stationing of patrols and the billeting of squads are all purely military functions; they are all initial operations of a revolutionary army and constitute the organisation of an insurrection, the organisation of revolutionary rule, which matures and becomes stronger through these small preparations, through these minor clashes, testing its own strength, learning to fight, training itself for victory—a victory that will come the sooner and the more probably, the more pro found the general political crisis becomes, the stronger the discontent, disaffection, and vacillation within the ranks of the tsarist army.

Social-Democratic comrades all over Russia must and will follow on an ever wider scale the example set by the comrades of Ekaterinoslav and Borisoglebsk. The appeal for aid in money and arms is most timely. There are ever increasing numbers of people to whom all “plans”. and even revolutionary ideas of any sort are quite alien, but who nevertheless see and feel the necessity for an armed struggle when they witness the atrocities perpetrated by the police, the Cossacks, and the Black Hundreds against unarmed citizens. There is no choice, all other ways are blocked. One cannot help being agitated by what is taking place in Russia at the present time; one cannot help thinking of war and of revolution, and whoever is agitated, whoever thinks, who ever takes an interest, is obliged to join one armed camp or the other. You may be beaten up, maimed, or murdered no matter in what supremely peaceful and scrupulously lawful way you behave. Revolution does not recognise neutrals. The struggle has already flared up. It is a life-and-death struggle between the old Russia, the Russia of slavery, serfdom, and autocracy, and the new, young, people’s Russia, the Russia of the toiling masses, who are reaching out to wards light and freedom, in order afterwards to start once again a struggle for the complete emancipation of mankind from all oppression and all exploitation.

May the day of the insurrection of the people come soon!


[1] Burenin, V. P., worked on the staff of the reactionary news paper Novoye Vremya, engaged in libelling and besmearing representatives of all progressive public and political trends. Lenin uses his name as a synonym for dishonest methods of conducting polemics.

[2] The Bund (The General Jewish Workers’ Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia) came into being in 1897 at the founding Congress of Jewish Social-Democratic groups in Vilna. In the main, it comprised semi-proletarian Jewish artisans in the west of Russia. At the First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1898, the Bund joined the latter “as an autonomous organisation, independent only in respect of questions affecting the Jewish proletariat specifically”. (The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, Russ. ed., Moscow 1954, Part 1, p. 14.)

The Bund was an expression of nationalism and separatism in the Russian working-class movement. In April 1901 the Bund’s Fourth Congress decided to alter the organisational ties with the R.S.D.L.P., as established by the latter’s First Congress. In its resolution, the Bund Congress declared that It regarded the R.S.D.L.P. as a federation of national, organisations, and that the Bund should enter the R.S.D.L.P. as a federal section. After the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. turned down the. Bund’s demand that it should be recognised the sole representative of the Jewish proletariat, the Bund left the Party, but rejoined it in 1906 on the basis of a decision of the Fourth (Unity) Congress.

Within the R.S.D.L.P. the Bund constantly supported the Party’s opportunist wing (the Economists, Mensheviks, and Liquidators), and waged a struggle against Bolshevism and the Bolsheviks. To the latter’s programmatic demand for the right of nations to self-determination the Bund contraposed the demand for autonomy of national culture. While the Stolypin reaction was raging, the Bund took a liquidationist stand, and was active in the formation of the August anti-Party bloc. During the First World War the Bundists held a social-chauvinist stand, and in 1917 they supported the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government and sided with the enemies of the Great October Socialist Revolution. During the foreign military intervention and the Civil War the Bund’s leaders made common cause with the forces of counter-revolution. Meanwhile there was a turn among the Bund’s rank and file for collaboration with the Soviets. In March 1921 the Bund decided to dissolve itself, part of the membership joined the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) on the basis of the general rules of admission,


The Working Class and Revolution

Written in August 1905

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 207-208.

1. The democratic and the socialist revolution.

2. The bourgeois nature of the democratic revolution. (“Bourgeois and socialist revolution.”)

3. The tasks of Social-Democracy as an independent class party of the proletariat.

4. The role of the peasantry in the democratic revolution.

5. Insurrection and the revolutionary army.

6. The revolutionary government. Its tasks.

7. The revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.

1. α) The aims of the working class. β)   Social-Democracy.   Our programme. γ)The   maximum   and δ) the   minimum   programme. {A description of it (compare 6 points[1] )}

ε) The democratic and the socialist revolution.

2.   The bourgeois and the socialist revolution.   Why is the democratic revolution bourgeois in nature? α) Commodity and capitalist production. β) The economic essence. γ) The Constitutional-Democratic Party, its programme, and its class essence.   A class party.   Zemstvo congresses. Unions of intellectuals. The legal press.

b) Bourgeois advice to the proletariat: the trade union struggle, etc.

3. Conclusions from the above.   An independent class party.   Organisation—trade union and Party, agitational, and military. Marxism: “a doctrine”.

4. The peasantry’s special interests. Remnants of serf-ownership. Why is the role of the peasantry in the democratic revolution of particular importance? The   "general redistribution” and its significance. The peasants are the workers’ natural allies. The peasantry’s petty-bourgeois nature.

5. The uprising. Moral and material force.
Arming of the people.   Military   organisation (military problems, etc.). The revolutionary army. (Example: Nizhni-Novgorod and Ekaterinoslav) ((bombs, arms)).

6. The revolutionary government, the   organ   of uprising. The significance of a revolutionary government and revolutionary   power.   Participation in a revolutionary government. The programme of a revolutionary government: 6   points. Get Europe moving.

7. What is dictatorship? Dictatorship of a   class   and dictatorship of an individual. Democratic dictatorship. Classes.


[1] See p. 183 of this volume.—Ed.


In the Wake of the Monarchist Bourgeoisie, or In the Van of the Revolutionary Proletariat and Peasantry?

Proletary, No. 15, September 5 (August 23), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 212-223.

Social-Democracy’s tactics towards the State Duma still heads all the questions of the revolutionary struggle on the agenda of the day. The differences which have arisen between the opportunist (Iskra) and the revolutionary (Proletary) wings of the R.S.D.L.P. on the score of these tactics must be analysed most painstakingly not for the sake of captious polemising (which sometimes degenerates into a squabble), but for the purpose of thoroughly elucidating the question and assisting the comrades on the spot to work out the most exact, definite, and uniform slogans possible.

First of all, a few words on the origin of these differences. Even before the State Duma Act had been promulgated, we set forth in Proletary, No. 12 the fundamentals of our tactics and of our differences with Iskra. We demanded: 1) support for the idea of a boycott, in the sense of increased agitation and an appeal to the people, in the sense of the proletariat’s support for the Left wing of bourgeois democracy, and constant exposure of the treachery of its Right wing; 2) an active boycott at all costs, and not “passive abstention”, i.e., “increasing agitation tenfold”, going so far as “to force our way into election meetings”, and, finally, 3) “a clear, precise, and immediate agitational slogan”, namely, for an armed uprising, a revolutionary army, and a provisional revolutionary government. We categorically rejected the slogan of Iskra (No. 106) for “organisation of a revolutionary self-government”, as confusing and as playing into the hands of the Osvobozhdeniye League, i.e.,   the monarchist bourgeoisie. At the same time, anticipating, as it were, that Iskra would once more “beget” more differences we immediately added that we agreed with Iskra’s condemnation of the idea of a passive boycott.

So if Iskra, No. 108, now drops sundry hints about a theory of “non-interference”, “absenteeism”, “abstention”, “folded arms”, and the like, we must first of all brush aside “objections” of this sort, since this is not polemising, but merely an attempt to “get under the opponent’s skin”. By such methods of “polemising”, culminating in the aspersion that some of the leaders would like to get into a provisional government themselves, the new Iskra has long evoked a very definite attitude towards itself among the widest circles of Social-Democrats.

Thus, the essence of the differences is that Iskra does not accept our slogan of agitation, which we consider the main slogan (for an armed uprising, a revolutionary army, and a provisional revolutionary government). Proletary, on the other hand, considers it absolutely impermissible “to obscure or relegate into the background the slogan of insurrection by bringing forward the slogan of revolutionary self- government” (Proletary, No. 12). All the other points of disagreement are relatively less important. On the contrary, what is especially important is that (as has been the case on more than one occasion) in No. 108 Iskra begins to back out, to twist and turn; to the slogan of revolutionary self-government it adds the slogan of “active militant action by the masses of the people” (wherein this differs from an armed uprising God only knows). Iskra goes even so far as to say that the “organisation of a revolutionary self-government is the only means of really ’organising’ an uprising of the whole people”. Iskra, No. 108, is dated August 13 (26); and on August 24 (N. S.) the Vienna Arbeiter Zeitung carried an article by Comrade Martov setting forth Iskra ’s “plan” wholly in the spirit of No. 106, and not in the spirit of the “amendments” in No. 108. We are giving below[1] a translation of the most important parts of this invaluable article by Comrade Martov, as a specimen of “Social Democratic Manilovism”.

Let us try to unravel this tangle.

To make matters clear it is necessary first of all to realise what forces are at present “making history” for the Russian revolution, and just how they are doing it. The autocracy has adopted the theory of “consultation” between the tsar and the people. Desirous of consulting with a police-screened handful of persons elected by the landowners and shop keepers, the autocracy is beginning with desperate ferocity to suppress the revolution. Broader circles of the monarchist bourgeoisie are in favour of the theory of compromise between the tsar and the people (the Osvobozhdeniye League, or the Constitutional-“Democratic” Party). By this theory the bourgeoisie is showing its treachery to the revolution, its readiness first to support it and then to unite with the reactionaries against it. The revolutionary proletariat, inasmuch as it is led by Social-Democracy, demands the sovereignty of the people, i.e., the complete destruction of the forces of reaction, and, above all, the actual overthrow of the tsarist government and its replacement by a provisional revolutionary government. The proletariat strives (often without being aware of it, but unswervingly and energetically) to win over the peasantry, and with the latter’s assistance to carry forward the revolution to complete victory, despite the bourgeoisie’s instability and treachery.

The State Duma is undoubtedly a concession to the revolution, but a concession made (and this is still more indubitable) so as to suppress the revolution and withhold a constitution. The bourgeois “compromisers” want to achieve a constitution so as to suppress the revolution; this desire of the liberal bourgeoisie, which is an inevitable result of its class position, has been most clearly expressed by Mr. Vinogradov (in Russkiye Vedomosti).

The question now arises: under such circumstances, what is the significance of the decision to boycott the Duma, passed by the Union of Unions (see Proletary, No. 14), i.e., by the most comprehensive organisation of the bourgeois intelligentsia? By and large, the bourgeois intelligentsia also wants “a compromise”. That is why, as Proletary has repeatedly pointed out, it too vacillates between reaction and revolution, between haggling and fighting, between a deal with the tsar and an uprising against him. Nor can   it be otherwise, in view of the class position of the bourgeois intelligentsia. However, it would be a mistake to forget that this intelligentsia is more capable of expressing the essential interests of the bourgeois class as a whole, in their broadest implications, as distinct from the temporary and narrow interests of the bourgeoisie’s “upper crust”. The intelligentsia is more capable of expressing the interests of the masses of the petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry. With all its vacillations, it is therefore more capable of waging a revolutionary struggle against the autocracy, and, provided it draws closer to the people, it could become an important force in this struggle. Powerless by itself, it could nevertheless give quite considerable sections of the petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry just what they lack— knowledge, programme, guidance, and organisation.

Thus, the essence of the “boycott” idea, as it first arose in the Union of Unions, is that the big bourgeoisie’s first step towards consultation, towards compromise with the tsar has inevitably led to the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia’s first step towards drawing close .to the revolutionary people. The landlords and capitalists have swung to the right, while the bourgeois intelligentsia, representing the petty bourgeoisie, has swung to the left. The former are going to the tsar, although they have by no means given up their intention of threatening him again and again with the might of the people. The bourgeois intelligentsia is considering whether it should not rather go to the people, without as yet finally breaking with the theory of “compromise”, and without fully taking the revolutionary path.

Such is the essence of the boycott idea, which, as we have pointed out in Proletary, No. 12, arose among the bourgeois democrats. Only very short-sighted and superficial people could discern in this idea non-interference, absenteeism, abstention, and so on. The bourgeois intelligentsia need not abstain, since the high property qualification actually keeps it out of the State Duma. In its resolution on the boycott the bourgeois intelligentsia makes “the mobilisation of all the democratic elements of the country” its most important point. The bourgeois intelligentsia is the most active, resolute, and militant element of the Osvobozhdeniye League, the Constitutional-“Democratic” Party. To accuse   this intelligentsia of abstention, etc., because of its boycott idea, or even to refuse to support its idea and to develop it means to display short-sightedness and thus play into the hands of the monarchist big bourgeoisie, whose organ, Osvobozhdeniye, has good reason to combat the idea of a boycott.

Besides the general and basic considerations, the correctness of the view just outlined is supported by the valuable admissions of Mr. S.S.[2] in Osvobozhdeniye, No. 75. It is highly significant that Mr. S.S. describes advocates of the boycott idea as the “radical” group, and opponents of that idea as the “moderate” group. He accuses the former of a “Narodnaya Volya attitude”, of repeating the mistakes of the “active revolutionary groups” (an accusation doing honour to those it is levelled against by Osvobozhdeniye); about the latter he states flatly that they stand “between two fires”, between the autocracy and the “social [sic!] revolution”, poor Mr. S.S. being so terrified that he has very nearly mistaken the democratic republic for a social revolution! But the most valuable admission by Mr. S. S. is the following: for the radicals—he says, comparing the Congress of the Union of Unions with the Zemstvo Congress—“every thing undoubtedly centred [mark this!] around the demand to amend the electoral system, whereas for the more moderate group the main interest lay in extending the rights of the Duma”.

This sums up matters in a nutshell! Mr. S. S. has blurted out the innermost “thoughts” of the landlords and capitalists, which we have laid bare hundreds of times. Their “main interest” lies not in getting the people to take part in the elections (they are afraid of that), but in extending the rights of the Duma, i.e., in converting the assembly of the big bourgeoisie from a consultative into a legislative body. That is the crux of the matter. The big bourgeoisie will never be satisfied with a “consultative” Duma. Hence, the inevitability of constitutional conflicts in the State Duma. But the big bourgeoisie can never become a true and depend able supporter of people’s sovereignty. It will always be taking the constitution (for itself) with one hand, and taking away the rights of the people, or opposing the extension of popular rights, with the other. The big bourgeoisie cannot   but strive for a constitution that secures privileges for the big bourgeoisie. The radical intelligentsia cannot but strive to express the interests of the broader strata of the petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry. Once it got the bird in the hand the Right wing of bourgeois democracy immediately began to see reason, and, as we have seen, is already renouncing “illegal” congresses. The Left wing saw itself without even a bird in the hand; it saw that the landlords and capitalists, having taken advantage of the services of the “third element”[3] (agitation, propaganda, organisation of the press, etc.), are now prepared to betray it, directing their efforts in the State Duma not towards securing the people’s rights but towards securing their own rights, which militate against those of the people. And now sensing incipient treachery the bourgeois intelligentsia brands the State Duma as an “audacious challenge” made by the government to all the peoples of Russia, declares a boycott, and counsels “the mobilisation of the democratic elements”.

Under such conditions the Social-Democrats would be playing the part of political simpletons if they were to attack the idea of a boycott. The revolutionary proletariat’s unerring class instinct has prompted most of the comrades in Russia to adopt the idea of an active boycott. This means supporting the Left wing and drawing it closer to us, means endeavouring to single out the elements of revolutionary democracy, so as to strike at the autocracy together with them. The radical intelligentsia has held out a finger to us—we must catch it by the hand! If the boycott is not mere bragging, if mobilisation is more than a word, if indignation at the audacious challenge is not just mummery, then you must break with the “compromisers”, come over to the theory of the sovereignty of the people, and adopt, adopt in deed, the only consistent and integral slogans of revolutionary democracy—an armed uprising, a revolutionary army, and a provisional revolutionary government. To make all those who indeed accept these slogans join us, and to pillory all who remain on the side of the “compromisers — such is the only correct tactics of the revolutionary proletariat.

Our new-Iskrists have failed to see both the class origin and the real political significance of the boycott idea, and   have opened fire ... into the air. Comrade Cherevanin writes in No. 108: “As is evident from the bulletins of the Don Committee and the St. Petersburg group, both these organisations [N. B.: Menshevik organisations. Note by the Proletary Editorial Board I have declared for the boycott. They consider participation in elections to such a Duma a disgrace, treason to the cause of the revolution, and they condemn in advance those liberals who will take part in the elections. Thus, the very possibility of making the State Duma a weapon of the democratic revolution is precluded, and agitation directed towards that end is evidently rejected.” The words we have italicised reveal the mistake indicated just now. Those who rant against “non-intervention” are only obscuring the really important question of the methods of intervention. There are two methods of intervention, two types of slogans. The first method is: “increasing agitation tenfold, organising meetings everywhere, taking advantage of election meetings, even if we have to force our way into them, holding demonstrations, political strikes, and so on and so forth”. (Proletary, No. 12.) We have already explained the slogans of this campaign of agitation. The other method is: to demand “a revolutionary pledge to enter the State Duma for the purpose of bringing about its transformation into a revolutionary assembly which will depose the autocracy and convene a constituent assembly” (Comrade Cherevanin in Iskra, No. 108), or “to bring pressure to bear on the electors so that only resolute advocates of democratic and free representation should be elected to the Duma” (Comrade Martov in the Vienna Arbeiter Zeitung).

It is just this difference in methods that reflects the difference in the “two tactics” of Social-Democracy. The opportunist wing of Social-Democracy is always inclined to “bring pressure to bear” on bourgeois democracy by demanding pledges from it. The revolutionary wing of Social-Democracy “brings pressure to bear” on bourgeois democracy and impels it to the left by condemning it for its shifts to the right, by spreading among the masses the slogan of a determined revolution. The theory of “demanding pledges”, this famous Starover litmus-test theory, is sheer naïveté and can only serve to sow confusion among the proletariat and corrupt it. Whom will Comrade Cherevanin hold responsible for the   carrying out of the “pledges” he has received? Perhaps God Almighty? Can it be that Comrade Cherevanin does not know that under the pressure of material class interests all pledges will go by the board? Is it not childishness on the part of the selfsame Comrade Cherevanin to think that the bourgeois deputies to the State Duma can be bound to the revolutionary proletariat by means of “binding instructions”? And if Comrade Martov were to begin actually to carry out his plan he would have to announce to the working class that certain members of the given assembly of landlords are “resolute advocates of free and democratic representation!” To make such announcements would mean sowing the greatest political corruption!

And now note another thing: all these “revolutionary pledges” on the part of the Petrunkeviches, Rodichevs, and tutti quanti, all these “binding instructions”, all these pledges “resolutely to support democratic and free representation” (could anyone have picked a more general, vague, and nebulous phrase?) would be demanded and given in the name of Social-Democracy and behind the proletariat’s back. After all, this cannot be done openly, for even in free countries, where agitation is carried on openly, political figures are bound not so much by private deals as by party programmes; in our case we do not and shall not have definite and established parties at the elections to the State Duma! Just see, comrades of the new Iskra, what a mess you have again managed to get into: you keep repeating “the masses”, “to the masses”, “with the masses”, “the initiative of the masses”, but in fact your “plan” boils down to secret deals obliging Mr. Petrunkevich to be not a traitor to the revolution but its “resolute” advocate!

The new-Iskrists have themselves reduced their position to absurdity. No one, anywhere in Russia, even among their followers, would dream of concluding deals on the basis of those absurd “revolutionary pledges”. No. This is not the way to intervene. You must intervene by ruthlessly branding the theory of compromise and the bourgeois compromisers, all those Petrunkeviches, etc. Expose their bourgeois betrayal of the revolution and unite the revolutionary forces for an uprising against the autocracy (and, to be on the safe side, against the Duma as well)—that is the only   reliable method of really “bringing pressure to bear” on the Duma, of really paving the way for the victory of the revolution. It is only with such a slogan that we should intervene in the election campaign, not for electioneering purposes, deals, or pledges, but in order to preach insurrection. And it is only the real strength of the armed people that will enable us to take advantage of possible and probable future conflicts within the State Duma, or between the State Duma and the tsar, in the interests of the revolution (and not of a strictly bourgeois constitution). Less confidence in the State Duma, gentlemen, and more confidence in the forces of the proletariat which is now arming it self!

We have now come to the slogan of the organisation of revolutionary self-government bodies. Let us examine it more closely.

In the first place it is wrong from a purely theoretical standpoint to give pre-eminence to the slogan of revolutionary self-government instead of the slogan of the people’s sovereignty. The former bears on the administration, the second on the organisation of the state. The former is, there fore, compatible with the treacherous bourgeois theory of “compromise” (a self-governing people headed by the tsar, “who reigns but does not govern”); the latter is wholly incompatible with it. The first is acceptable to the Osvobozhdeniye League, the second is not.

In the second place, it is utterly absurd to identify the organisation of revolutionary self-government with the organisation of a people’s uprising. An uprising is civil war, and war requires an army, whereas self-government does not in itself require an army. There are countries with a system of self-government, but without an army. And revolutionary self-government does not require a revolutionary army where a revolution takes place in the Norwegian fashion: the king was “sacked” and a plebiscite held. But when the people are oppressed by a despotic government which relies on an army and starts civil war, then to identify revolutionary self-government with a revolutionary army, to advocate the former and to maintain silence about the latter, is almost indecent and signifies either betrayal of the revolution or the utmost stupidity.

Thirdly, history also confirms the- truth (incidentally, a self-evident truth) that only the complete and decisive victory of an uprising can make it fully possible to establish genuine self-government. Would the municipal revolution in France in July 1789 have been possible if on July 14 the people of Paris, who had risen in arms, had not defeated the royal troops, taken the Bastille, and completely smashed the resistance of the autocracy? Or will the new Iskrists, perhaps, cite in this connection the example of the city of Montpellier, where the municipal revolution, the establishment of revolutionary local self-government took place peacefully, and a vote of thanks to the intendant was even passed for the kindness with which he had assisted in his own deposition? Does the new Iskra perhaps expect that during our Duma election campaign we shall thank the governors for having eliminated themselves before the capture of the Russian Bastilles? Is it not significant that in the France of 1789 the period of the municipal revolution took place when the emigration of reactionaries was under way, while in our country the slogan of revolutionary self-government instead of the slogan of an uprising is being advanced at a time when the emigration of revolutionaries is still going on? When a certain Russian high official was asked why an amnesty was not granted on August 6 he replied: “Why should we set free 10,000 people whom it took us considerable trouble to arrest and who tomorrow would start a desperate struggle against us?” This dignitary reasoned intelligently, whereas those who speak about “revolutionary self—government” before the release of these 10,000 reason unintelligently.

Fourthly, present-day Russian life plainly shows the inadequacy of the slogan of “revolutionary self-government” and the need for a direct and definite slogan of insurrection. Consider what took place in Smolensk on August 2 (Old Style). The Municipal Council declared the billeting of the Cossacks contrary to law, stopped all payments to them, organised a city militia to protect the population, and appealed to the soldiers to refrain from violence against citizens. We should like to know whether our good new Iskrists find this adequate. Should not this militia be regarded as a revolutionary army, as an organ of attack as well   as of defence?—and of attack not only against the Smolensk Cossack detachment, but against the autocratic government in general? Should not this idea of proclaiming a revolutionary army and its tasks be popularised? Can the administration of the city of Smolensk by genuine government of the people be considered secure until a revolutionary army has won a decisive victory over the tsarist army?

Fifthly, the facts prove incontrovertibly that the slogan of revolutionary self-government instead of the slogan of insurrection, or as implying (?) the slogan of insurrection, is not only “acceptable” to the Osvobozhdeniye League, but has actually been accepted by it. Take Osvobozhdeniye, No. 74. You will find there a sweeping condemnation of the “senseless and criminal advocacy of insurrection” and at the same time a plea for city militias and the establishment of local self-government bodies as elements of a future provisional government (cf. Proletary, No. 12).

No matter how one approaches the question, it will invariably turn out that the new slogan of the new Iskra is an Osvobozhdeniye slogan. The Social-Democrats who either relegate to the background or reject a slogan calling for an armed uprising, a revolutionary army, and a provisional government in favour of one demanding the organisation of revolutionary self-government are trailing along in the wake of the monarchist bourgeoisie, instead of marching in the van of the revolutionary proletariat and peasantry.

We are accused of stubbornly “hammering away” at the same slogans. We think such an accusation a compliment. For it is plainly our task to hammer away persistently at vital political slogans, while spreading the general truths of the Social-Democratic programme. We succeded in giving the widest publicity to the “quartet” formula so repugnant to the liberals (universal and equal suffrage, direct elections and a secret ballot). We acquainted the masses of the working people with the “sextet” of political liberties (freedom of speech, conscience, the press, assembly, association, and the right to strike). We must now repeat millions and billions of times the “trio” of immediate revolutionary tasks (an armed uprising, a revolutionary army, and a provisional revolutionary government). The popular forces which will accomplish these tasks are shooting up   spontaneously, not only with every day but with every hour that passes. Attempted uprisings are becoming more frequent, their organisation is growing, and arming is proceeding apace. From the ranks of the workers and peasants clad in rustic coats, city suits, and uniforms nameless heroes are emerging, people fused with the mass and ever more deeply imbued with a noble obsession to liberate the people. It is our business to see to it that all these rivulets merge into a mighty torrent, that the light of a class-conscious, direct, clear, and precise revolutionary programme of our immediate tasks be thrown on the spontaneous movement, multiplying its strength tenfold.

To sum up. Our tactics with regard to the State Duma may be formulated in five points: 1) intensified agitation in connection with the State Duma Act and the elections to the Duma, the organisation of meetings, utilisation of the election campaign, demonstrations, etc., etc.; 2) the centring of this entire agitational campaign on slogans calling for an insurrection, a revolutionary army, and a provisional revolutionary government; popularisation of the programme of this provisional government; 3) gaining the adherence for the promotion of this agitation and of the armed struggle of all revolutionary democratic elements, and of such elements only, i.e., only those who accept the above-mentioned slogans in deed; 4) support of the boycott idea, which arose among the Left-wing bourgeois democrats, with the purpose of making it an active boycott in the sense of the most wide spread agitation as described above; winning over the Left-wing representatives of bourgeois democracy to the revolutionary-democratic programme and to activities which will draw them closer to the petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry; 5) ruthless exposure of the bourgeois theory of “compromise” and the bourgeois “compromisers”, and their denunciation to the broadest masses of workers and peasants; making public and explaining every treacherous and irresolute step they take, both before and after they enter the Duma; warning the working class against these bourgeois betrayers of the revolution.


[1] See pp. 224-26 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] S. S.—the pseudonym of P. N. Milyukov, leader of the Constitutional-Democratic Party.

[3] The third element—an expression used to designate the Zemstvo democratic intelligentsia.


Social-Democracy’s Attitude Towards the Peasant Movement

Proletary, No. 16, September 14 (1), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 230-239.

The tremendous importance of the peasant movement in the democratic revolution Russia is now passing through has been repeatedly explained in the entire Social-Democratic press. As is well known, the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. passed a special resolution on this question in order to define more exactly and to co-ordinate the activities of the whole party of the class-conscious proletariat with regard to. the peasant movement of today. Although the resolution was drawn up in advance (the first draft was published in Vperyod, No. 11, March 1O[23], 1905[1] ), and although it was carefully gone over at the Party Congress, which took pains to formulate the views already established throughout the Russian Social-Democratic movement— the resolution has nevertheless perplexed a number of comrades working in Russia. The Saratov Committee has unanimously declared this resolution unacceptable (see Proletary, No. 1O).[3] It is to be regretted that an explanation of this verdict, as requested by us at the time, has not yet been forthcoming. We only know that the Saratov Commit tee has declared also unacceptable the agrarian resolution passed by the new-Iskra Conference—consequently they are dissatisfied by what is common to both resolutions, not by what distinguishes them.

New material on this question is provided by a letter we have received from a Moscow comrade (issued in the form of a hectographed leaflet). We print this letter in full:




The regional organisation of the Moscow Committee has taken up work among the peasants. The lack of experience in organising such work, the special conditions prevailing in the rural districts of Central Russia, and also the lack of clarity in the directives contained in the resolutions of the Third Congress on this question, and the almost complete absence of material in the periodical and other press on work among the peasantry, compel us to appeal to the Central Committee, to send us detailed directives, covering both the theoretical aspect and the practical questions involved, while we ask comrades who are doing similar work to acquaint us with the practical knowledge your experience has given you.

We consider it necessary to inform you about the misgivings that have arisen among us after reading the resolution of the Third Congress “on the attitude towards the peasant movement”, and about the organisational plan which we are already beginning to apply in our work in the rural districts.

"§ a) To carry on propaganda among the mass of the people, explaining that Social-Democracy aims at giving the most energetic support to all revolutionary measures taken by the peasantry and likely to improve their condition, measures including confiscation of land belonging to the landlords, the state, the church, the monasteries, and the imperial family” (from the resolution of the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.).

First of all, this paragraph does not clarify how Party organisations will, or should, carry on their propaganda. Propaganda requires, first and foremost, an organisation standing very close to those who are to be propagandised. Whether this organisation should consist of committees of the rural proletariat, or whether other organisational forms of oral and printed propaganda are possible—this question remains unanswered.

The same applies to the promise to give energetic support. To give support, and energetic support at that, is also possible only if local organisations exist. To us the question of “energetic support” seems in general very vague. Can Social-Democracy support the expropriation of landlords’ estates that are farmed most intensively, with the use of machinery, cultivating high-grade crops, etc.? The transfer of such estates to petty-bourgeois proprietors, however important improvement of their condition may be, would be a step back from the standpoint of the capitalist development of the given estate. In our opinion we as Social-Democrats should have made a reservation on this matter of “support”: “provided the expropriation of this land and its transfer to peasant (petty-bourgeois) ownership results in a higher form of economic development on these estates.”


"§ d) To strive for the independent organisation of the rural proletariat, for its fusion with the urban proletariat under the banner of   the Social-Democratic Party, and for the inclusion of its representatives in the peasant committees.”

· Doubts arise with regard to the latter part of this paragraph. The fact is that bourgeois-democratic organisations such as the Peasant Union, and reactionary-utopian organisations such as the Socialist- Revolutionaries organise under their banner both bourgeois and proletarian elements of the peasantry. By bringing into such “peasant” committees our representatives from rural proletarian organisations we shall be contradicting ourselves, our stand regarding a bloc, etc.

Here, too, we believe, amendments, and very serious ones, are needed.

These are a few general remarks on the resolutions of the Third Congress. These should be analysed as soon and in as great detail as possible.

As regards the plan for a “rural” organisation in our Regional Organisation, we must say that we have to work under conditions which are not even mentioned in the resolutions of the Third Congress. First of all, it should be noted that the territory we cover—Moscow Gubernia and the adjoining uyezds of neighbouring gubernias—is mainly an industrial area with a relatively low level of handicraft industry and with a very small section of the population engaged exclusively in agriculture. Huge textile mills, each employing 10,000 to f 5,000 workers, alternate with small factories, employing 500 to 1,000 workers and scattered in out-of-the-way hamlets and villages. One would think that in such conditions Social-Democracy would find here a most favourable field for its activities, but facts have proved that so superficial an assumption does not hold water. Although some of the factories have been in existence for 40 or 50 years, the overwhelming majority of our “proletariat” have not yet become divorced from the land. The “village” has such a strong hold over them, that none of the psychological and other characteristics acquired by a “pure” proletarian in the course of collective work develops among our proletarians. The farming carried on by our “proletarians” is of a peculiarly linsey-woolsey type. A weaver employed in a mill hires a labourer to till his patch of land. His wife (if she is not working at the mill), his children, and the aged and invalid members of the family work on this same piece of land, and he himself will work on it when he becomes old or maimed, or is discharged for violent or suspicious behaviour. Such “proletarians” can hardly be called proletarians. Their economic status is that of paupers; their ideology Is that of petty bourgeois. They are ignorant and conservative. It is from such that Black-Hundred elements are recruited. However, even among these people class-consciousness has begun to awaken of late. Through the agency of “pure” proletarians we are endeavouring to rouse these ignorant masses from their age-old slumber, and not without success. Our contacts are increasing in number, and in places our foothold is becoming firmer, the paupers are coming under our influence, beginning to adopt our ideology, both in the factory and in the village. And we believe that it will not be unorthodox to form organisations in an environment that is not “purely” proletarian. We have no other environment, and were we to insist on orthodoxy   and organise only the rural “proletariat”, we would have to disband our organisation and those in the neighbouring districts. We know we shall have difficulties in struggling against the urge to expropriate the arable and other land neglected by the landlords, or those lands which the holy fathers in cowl and cassock have not been able to farm properly. We know that bourgeois democracy, from the “democratic” monarchist faction (such a faction exists in Ruza Uyezd) down to the “Peasant” Union, will fight us for influence among the “paupers”, but we shall arm the latter to oppose the former. We shall make use of all Social-Democratic forces in the region, both intellectual and proletarian, to set up and consolidate our Social-Democratic commit tees of “paupers”. And we shall do this in accordance with the following plan. In each uyezd town, or big industrial centre we shall set up uyezd committees of groups coming under the Regional Organisation. In addition to setting up factory committees in its district the uyezd committee will also set up “peasant” committees. For reasons of secrecy these committees should not have many people on them and should be made up of the most revolutionary and capable pauperised peasants. Wherever there are both factories and peasants, workers an d peasants should be organised in a single subgroup committee.

In the first place, such committees should have a clear and exact idea of local conditions: A) Agrarian relationships: I) peasant allotments, leases, form of tenure (communal, by households, etc.); 2) the neighbouring land: a) to whom it belongs; b) the amount of land; c) what relation the peasants have to this land; d) on what terms the land is held: 1) labour rent, 2) excessive rent for “cut-off lands”, etc.; e) indebtedness to kulaks, landlords, etc. B) Imposts, taxes, the rate of assessment of peasant and landlord lands respectively. C) Migratory labour and handicraft industries, passports, whether there is winter hiring,[4] etc. D) Local factories and plants: the working conditions there: 1) wages, 2) working hours, 3) the attitude of the management, 4) housing conditions, etc. E) The administration: the Rural Superintendents, the volost headman, the clerk, the volost judges, constables, the priest. F) The Zemstvo: councillors representing the peasants, Zemstvo employees: the teacher, the doctor, libraries, schools, tea-rooms. G) Volost assemblies: their composition and procedure. H) Organisations: the Peasant Union, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Social-Democrats.

After familiarising itself with all these data the Peasant Social-Democratic Committee is obliged to get such decisions passed by the assemblies as may be necessitated by any abnormal state of affairs. This committee should simultaneously carry on among the masses intense propaganda and agitation for the Ideas of Social-Democracy, organise study circles, impromptu meetings, mass meetings, distribute leaflets and other literature, collect funds for the Party, and keep in touch with the Regional Organisation through the uyezd group.

If we succeed in setting up a number of such committees the success of Social-Democracy will be assured.

Regional Organiser

It goes without saying that we shall not undertake the task of working out the detailed practical directives to which the comrade refers: this is a matter for the comrades on the spot and for the central body in Russia which is guiding the practical work. We propose to take the opportunity presented by our Moscow comrade’s interesting letter to explain the resolution of the Third Congress and the urgent tasks of the Party in general. It is obvious from the letter that the misunderstandings caused by the resolution of the Third Congress are only partly due to doubts in the field of theory. Another source is the new question, which has not arisen before, about the relations between the “revolutionary peasant committees” and the “Social-Democratic Committees” which are working among the peasants. The very posing of this question testifies to the big step forward made in Social-Democratic work among the peasants. Questions of—relatively speaking—detail are now being brought into the foreground by the practical requirements of “rural” agitation, which is striking root and assuming stable and permanent forms. And the author of the letter keeps forgetting that when he blames the Congress resolution for lack of clarity, he is in fact seeking an answer to a question which the Congress of the Party did not raise and could not have raised.

For instance, the author is not quite right when he says that both propagation of our ideas and support for the peas ant movement are possible “only” if local organisations exist. Of course such organisations are desirable, and as the work increases they will become necessary; but such work is possible and necessary even where no such organisations exist. In all our activities, even when carried on exclusively among the urban proletariat, we must never lose sight of the peasant question and must disseminate the declaration made by the entire party of the class-conscious proletariat in the person of the Third Congress, namely, that we support a peasant uprising. The peasants must learn this—from literature, from the workers, from special organisations, etc. The peasants must learn that in giving this support the Social-Democratic proletariat will not stop short of any form of confiscation of the land (i.e., expropriation without compensation to the owners).

A question of theory has in this connection been raised by the author of the letter, whether the expropriation of the big estates and their transfer to “peasant, petty-bourgeois ownership” should not be specifically qualified. But by proposing such a reservation the author has arbitrarily limited the purport of the resolution of the Third Congress. There is not a word in the resolution about the Social-Democratic Party undertaking to support transfer of the confiscated land to petty-bourgeois proprietors. The resolution states: we support ... “up to and including confiscation”, i.e., including expropriation without compensation; how ever, the resolution does not in any way decide to whom the expropriated land is to be given. It was not by chance that the question was left open: it is obvious from the articles in Vperyod (Nos. 11, 12, 15[2] ) that it was deemed unwise to decide this question in advance. It was stated there, for instance, that under a democratic republic Social-Democracy cannot pledge itself and have its hands tied with regard to nationalisation of the land.

Indeed, it is the revolutionary-democratic aspect of the peasant uprisings and a particular organisation of the rural proletariat in a class party that at present form the crux of the matter for us, as distinct from the petty-bourgeois Socialist-Revolutionaries. It is not schemes of a “general redistribution” or nationalisation that is the kernel of the question; the essential thing is that the peasantry see the need for, and accomplish, the revolutionary demolition of the old order. That is why the Socialist-Revolutionaries are pressing for “socialisation”, etc., while we are pressing for revolutionary peasant committees: without the latter, we say, all reforms amount to nothing. With them and supported by them the victory of the peasant uprising is possible.

We must help the peasant uprising in every way, up to and including confiscation of the land, but certainly not including all sorts of petty-bourgeois schemes. We support the peasant movement to the extent that it is revolutionary-democratic. We are making ready (doing so now, at once)   to fight it when, and to the extent that, it becomes reactionary and anti-proletarian. The essence of Marxism lies in that double task, which only those who do not understand Marxism can vulgarise or compress into a single and simple task.

Let us take a concrete instance. Let us assume that the peasant uprising has been victorious. The revolutionary peasant committees and the provisional revolutionary government (relying, in part, on these very committees) can proceed to any confiscation of big property. We are in favour of confiscation, as we have already declared. But to whom shall we recommend giving the confiscated land? On this question we have not committed ourselves nor shall we ever do so by declarations like those rashly proposed by the author of the letter. The latter has forgotten that the same resolution of the Third Congress speaks of “purging the revolutionary-democratic content of the peasant movement of all reactionary admixtures”—that is one point—and, secondly, of the need “in all cases and under all circumstances for the independent organisation of the rural proletariat”. These are our directives. There will always be reactionary admixtures in the peasant movement, and we declare war on them in advance. Class antagonism between the rural proletariat and the peasant bourgeoisie is unavoidable, and we disclose it in advance, explain it, and prepare for the struggle on the basis of that antagonism. One of the immediate causes of such a struggle may very likely be provided by the question: to whom shall the confiscated land be given, and how? We do not gloss over that question, nor do we promise equalitarian distribution, “socialisation”, etc. What we do say is that this is a question we shall fight out later on, fight again, on a new field and with other allies. There, we shall certainly be with the rural proletariat, with the entire working class, against the peasant bourgeoisie. In practice this may mean the transfer of the land to the class of petty peasant proprietors—wherever big estates based on bondage and feudal servitude still prevail, and there are as yet no material conditions for large-scale socialist production; it may mean nationalisation—given complete victory of the democratic revolution—or the big capitalist estates being transferred to workers’ associations, for from   the democratic revolution we shall at once, and precisely in accordance with the measure of our strength, the strength of the class-conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass to the socialist revolution. We stand for uninterrupted revolution. We shall not stop half-way. If we do not now and immediately promise all sorts of “socialisation”, that is because we know the actual conditions for that task to. be accomplished, and we do not gloss over the new class struggle burgeoning within the peasantry, but reveal that struggle.

At first we support the peasantry en masse against the landlords, support it to the hilt and with all means, including confiscation, and then (it would be better to say, at the same time) we support the proletariat against the peasantry en masse. To try to calculate now what the combination of forces will be within the peasantry “on the day after” the revolution (the democratic revolution) is empty utopianism. Without falling into adventurism or going against our conscience in matters of science, without striving for cheap popularity we can and do assert only one thing: we shall bend every effort to help the entire peasantry achieve the democratic revolution, in order thereby to make it easier for us, the party of the proletariat, to pass on as quickly as possible to the new and higher task—the socialist revolution. We promise no harmony, no equalitarianism or “socialisation” following the victory of the present peasant uprising, on the contrary, we “promise” a new struggle, new inequality, the, new revolution we are striving for. Our doctrine is less “sweet” than the legends of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, but let those who want to be fed solely on sweets join the Socialist-Revolutionaries; we shall say to such people: good riddance.

In our opinion this Marxist point of view settles also the question of the committees. In our opinion there should be no Social-Democratic peasant committees. If they are Social-Democratic, that means they are not purely peasant committees; if they are peasant committees, that means they are not purely proletarian, not Social-Democratic commit tees. There is a host of such who would confuse the two, but we are not of their number. Wherever possible we shall strive to set up our committees, committees of the Social-   Democratic Labour Party. They will consist of peasants, paupers, intellectuals, prostitutes (a worker recently asked us in a letter why not carry on agitation among the prostitutes), soldiers, teachers, workers—in short, all Social-Democrats, and none but Social-Democrats. These committees will conduct the whole of Social-Democratic work, in its full scope, striving, however, to organise the rural proletariat especially and particularly, since the Social-Democratic Party is the class party of the proletariat. To consider it “unorthodox” to organise a proletariat which has not entirely freed itself from various relics of the past is a tremendous delusion, and we would like to think that the relevant passages of the letter are due to a mere misunderstanding. The urban and industrial proletariat will inevitably be the nucleus of our Social-Democratic Labour Party, but we must attract to it, enlighten, and organise all who labour and are exploited, as stated in our programme—all without exception: handicraftsmen, paupers, beggars, servants, tramps, prostitutes—of course, subject to the necessary and obligatory condition that they join the Social-Democratic movement and not that the Social-Democratic movement join them, that they adopt the standpoint of the proletariat, and not that the proletariat adopt theirs.

The reader may ask—what is the point, then, of having revolutionary peasant committees? Does this mean that they are not necessary? No, they are necessary. Our ideal is purely Social-Democratic committees in all rural districts, and then agreement between them and all revolutionary-democratic elements, groups, and circles of the peasantry for the purpose of establishing revolutionary committees. There is a perfect analogy here to the independence of the Social-Democratic Labour Party in the towns and its alliance with all the revolutionary democrats for the purpose of insurrection. We are in favour of a peasant uprising. We are absolutely opposed to the mixing and merging of heterogeneous class elements and heterogeneous parties. We hold that for the purpose of insurrection Social-Democracy should give an impetus to all revolutionary democracy, should help it all to organise, should march shoulder to shoulder with it, but without merging with it, to the barricades   in the cities, and against the landlords and the police in the villages. Long live the insurrection in town and country against the autocracy! Long live revolutionary Social-Democracy, the vanguard of all revolutionary democracy in the present revolution!


[1] “The Proletariat and the Peasantry” 1905. See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 235-36.—Ed.

[2] “The Proletariat and the Peasantry”, 19O5; “On Our Agrarian Programme”, 1905; “The Agrarian Programme of the Liberals”, 1905. See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 231-36, 246-51, 315-22.—Ed.

[3] Issue No. 10 of Proletary, August 2 (July 20), 1905, published a resolution of the Saratov Committee of the R.S.D.L.P., which held a conciliatory stand; the resolution had been adopted on a report on the Third Congress of the Party and the Mensheviks’ Conference. Proletary published the resolution with an epilogue by Lenin (see Lenin Miscellany XVI, p. 130).

[4] Winter hiring—the hiring of peasants for summer work, practised by the landlords and kulaks during the winter, when the peasants were particularly in need of cash, and would agree to extortionate terms.

What Our Liberal Bourgeois Want, and What They Fear

Proletary, No. 16, September 14 (1), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 240-245.

In Russia political education of the people and the intelligentsia hardly exists as yet. Clear political convictions and firm party opinions have as yet scarcely developed in our country. People in Russia are too ready to give credence to any protest against the autocracy and frown upon. any criticism of the character and substance of that protest, regarding such criticism as something that maliciously disunites the movement for emancipation. It is not surprising, therefore, that under this general flag of emancipation the Osvobozhdeniye[1] too, which is published under the editorship of Mr. Struve, has a wide circulation among all and sundry free-thinking intellectuals who resent any analysis of the class content of Osvobozhdeniye liberalism.

And yet, Osvobozhdeniye liberalism is merely a more systematic, uncensored expression of the fundamental features of Russian liberalism as a whole. The farther the revolution advances, the more that liberalism exposes itself, and the more unpardonable is the fear of looking the truth full in the face and understanding the real essence of that liberalism. The “Political Letters” of the well-known historian Mr. Pavel Vinogradov, published in Russkiye Vedomosti (August 5), the well-known liberal organ, are highly characteristic in this respect. No less characteristic is the fact that other liberal newspapers, like Nasha Zhizn, quoted excerpts from this admirable piece of writing, without a single word of indignation or protest. Mr. Pavel   Vinogradov has expressed in bold relief, in a way rarely to be met, the interests, tactics, and psychology of. the self- seeking bourgeoisie; his outspokenness might, perhaps, be considered inappropriate by certain of the shrewder liberals, but then that makes it all the more valuable to class-conscious workers. Here are the concluding words of Mr. Vinogradov’s article, which express its very quintessence:

"I do not know whether Russia will succeed in reaching the new system along a road close to that taken by Germany in 1848, but I have no doubt that every effort must be exerted to enter upon this road, and not upon the one chosen by France in 1789.

"Along the latter path Russian society—raw, poorly organised, and torn by internecine strife—will encounter tremendous dangers, if not its doom. To wait until we get object lessons on the subject of power, order, national unity, and social organisation is undesirable the more so since these object lessons will be given either by the police sergeant, who will have gained new strength, or by the German corporal, whom anarchy in Russia will provide with a providential mission

That is what the Russian bourgeois is thinking of most of all: the tremendous dangers of the “road” of 1789! The bourgeois has no objection to the path taken by Germany in 1848, but he will exert “every effort” to avoid the path taken by France. An instructive pronouncement, one which provides much food for thought.

What is the radical difference between the two roads? It is that the bourgeois-democratic revolution carried out by France in 1789, and by Germany in 1848, was brought to its consummation in the first case, but not in the second. The first ended in a republic and complete liberty, whereas the second stopped short without smashing the monarchy and reaction. The second proceeded under the leadership mainly of the liberal bourgeoisie, which took the unsufficiently mature working class in tow, whereas the first was carried out, at least to a certain extent, by the revolutionarily active mass of the people, the workers and peasants, who, for a time at least, pushed the respectable and moderate bourgeoisie aside. The second led rapidly to the “pacification” of the country, i.e., the suppression of the revolutionary people and the triumph of “the police sergeant and the corporal”; whereas for a certain period the first placed power in the hands of the revolutionary people   which crushed the resistance of “the police sergeants and the corporals”.

And now a learned lackey of the Russian bourgeoisie comes out in a “highly respectable” liberal organ with a warning against the first road, the “French”. The learned historian wants the “German” road, and is quite outspoken about it. He knows perfectly well that the German road did not escape an armed uprising of the people. In 1848 and 1849 there were a number of uprisings and even provisional revolutionary governments in Germany. But none of these uprisings was fully victorious. The most successful of them, the Berlin uprising of March 18, 1848, terminated not in the overthrow of the royal power, but in concessions granted by the king, who remained in power and very soon managed to recover from his partial defeat and withdraw all these concessions.

And so, the learned historian of the bourgeoisie does not fear an uprising of the people. He fears the victory of the people. He is not afraid of the people administering a slight lesson to the reactionaries and the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy which he hates so much. He is afraid of the people overthrowing the reactionary government. He hates the autocracy and desires its overthrow with all his heart; it is not from the preservation of the autocracy, not from the poisoning of the people’s organism by the slow putrefaction of the still living parasite of monarchist rule that he expects the doom of Russia, but from the complete victory of the people.

This man of cheap-jack scholarship knows that a time of revolution is a time of object lessons for the people, but he does not want object lessons on the destruction of reaction, and tries to scare us with object lessons on the destruction of the revolution. He is scared to death of the road which has led to the. complete victory of the revolution, even for a short time, and yearns with all his heart for an outcome like the German, in which reaction secured complete victory for a long, long time.

He does not welcome revolution in Russia, but merely tries to find extenuating circumstances for it. He desires not a victorious revolution, but an unsuccessful revolution. He considers reaction a phenomenon that is in order and legitimate, natural and durable, reliable and reasonable.   He regards revolution as a phenomenon that is illegitimate, fantastic, and unnatural, one that can at best be justified to a certain degree on the grounds of the instability, the “weakness”, the “unsoundness” of the autocratic government. This “objective” historian regards revolution not as the most lawful right of the people, but merely as a sinful and dangerous method of correcting the extremes of reaction. In his opinion a revolution which has been completely victorious is “anarchy”, whereas completely victorious reaction is not anarchy, but merely a slight exaggeration of certain necessary functions of the state. He knows of no other “rule” but a monarchy, no other “system” and no other “social organisation” but those of the bourgeoisie. Of the European forces which revolution in Russia will “provide with a providential mission” he knows only the “German corporal”, but he neither knows nor cares to know the German Social-Democratic worker. He detests most of all the “presumption” of those who “are preparing to outstrip the Western bourgeoisie” (the Professor writes the word bourgeoisie in ironical quotation marks as if to say: what a stupid term to apply to European—En-ro-pe-an—civilisation!). This “objective historian” smugly closes his eyes to the fact that it is precisely because of the old abomination of the Russian autocracy that Europe has for decades and decades been marking time and even retrogressing politically. He fears the object lesson of the “police sergeant who will have gained new strength” and therefore—O leader of the people! 0 statesman!—he utters a warning above all against resolutely smashing all the “forces” of the contemporary police sergeant. What contemptible servility! What a despicable betrayal of the revolution, dished up with the sauce of a pseudo-scholarly and pseudo-objective analysis of the question! Scratch a Russian and you will find a Tartar, said Napoleon. We say, scratch a Russian liberal bourgeois and you will find a police sergeant in a brand-new uniform, who is permitted to retain nine-tenths of his old strength for the very profound, “scholarly”, and “objective” reason that otherwise, he may, perhaps, want to “gain new strength”! Every bourgeois ideologist has the soul of a thoroughgoing huckster; he does not think of destroying the forces of reaction and of the “police sergeant”, but   of bribing this police sergeant, of greasing his palm and appeasing him by striking a bargain with him as quickly as possible.

How inimitably this most learned ideologist of the bourgeoisie corroborates all that we have so often said in Proletary about the nature and character of Russian liberalism! Unlike the European bourgeoisie, which was revolutionary in its time and went over to the side of reaction decades later, our home-grown wiseacres immediately skip revolution, or want to do so, and arrive at the moderate and tidy rule of the reactionary bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie does not and, because of its class position, cannot want revolution. It merely wants to strike a bargain with the monarchy against the revolutionary people; it merely wants to steal to power behind the backs of that people.

And what an instructive lesson this liberal bourgeois sage teaches those doctrinaire Social-Democrats who have gone as far as the following resolution, which was adopted by the Caucasian supporters of the new Iskra and specially approved by the Editorial Board of Iskra in a special supplement. This resolution (together with Iskra’s approval) is given in full in N. Lenin’s Two Tactics (pp. 68-69),[2] but since many comrades in Russia are not acquainted with this resolution, and since the Iskra Editorial Board refused to publish this, in their opinion, so “very apt” resolution, we reproduce it here in full so as to edify all Social- Democrats and put Iskra to shame:

"Whereas we consider it to be our task to take advantage of the revolutionary situation so as to deepen Social- Democratic consciousness in the proletariat, and in order to secure for the Party complete freedom to criticise the nascent bourgeois-state system, the Conference” (the Caucasian new-Iskra Conference) “declares itself against the formation of a Social-Democratic provisional government, and entering such a government, and considers it to be the most expedient course to exercise pressure from without upon the bourgeois provisional government in order to secure a feasible measure of democratisation of the state system. The Conference believes that the formation of a provisional government by   Social-Democrats, or their entering such a government, would lead, on the one hand, to the masses of the proletariat becoming disappointed in the Social-Democratic Party and abandoning it, because the Social-Democrats, despite the seizure of power, would not be able to satisfy the pressing needs of the working class, including the establishment of socialism, and, on the other hand, would cause the bourgeois classes to recoil from the revolution and thus diminish its sweep.”

This is a shameful resolution, for (against the will and mind of its authors, who have stepped on to the inclined plane of opportunism) it expresses a betrayal of the interests of the working class to the bourgeoisie. This resolution sanctifies the conversion of the proletariat into the tail-end of the bourgeoisie for the duration of the democratic revolution. One need but place this resolution side by side with the passage from Mr. Vinogradov’s article quoted above (and anybody will find hundreds and thousands of similar passages in the writings of the liberal publicists) to realise what a marsh the new-Iskrists have got into. Mr. Vinogradov, this typical ideologist of the bourgeoisie, has already recoiled from the cause of the revolution. Has he not thereby diminished the “sweep of the revolution”, gentlemen of the new Iskra? Should you not go penitently to the Vinogradovs and beg them, at the price of your refraining from leading the revolution, not “to recoil from the revolution”?


[1] Osvobozhdeniye—Russian for “emancipation, liberation”.—Tr.

[2] See pp. 93-94 of this volume—Ed.


The Theory of Spontaneous Generation

Proletary, No. 16, September 14 (1), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 246-251.

“Iskra has shown that a constituent assembly can be formed by way of spontaneous generation, without the aid of any government whatever, and consequently without the aid of a provisional government as well. Henceforth this terrible problem may be regarded as settled, and all disputes in connection with it must cease.”

Thus runs the Bund statement made in No. 247 of Posledniye Izvestia, dated September 1 (August 19). Unless this is irony, no better “development” of Iskra’s views could be imagined. In any case, the theory of “spontaneous generation” has been established, the “terrible problem” has been settled, and disputes “must cease”. What a blessing! We shall now live without disputes about this terrible question, cherishing this new, recently discovered, and simple theory of “spontaneous generation”, a theory as clear as the eyes of a child. True, this theory of spontaneous generation was not generated spontaneously, but appeared to the common view as the fruit of cohabitation between the Bund and the new Iskra—but after all what is important is not the origin, but the value of a theory!

How slow-witted were those unfortunate Russian Social- Democrats who discussed this “terrible question” both at the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. and at the Conference of new-Iskrists: some of these discussed at length the question of a provisional government for the purpose of generating, but not spontaneously, a constituent assembly. Others (the Conference resolution) thought it possible that “the revolution’s decisive victory over tsarism may be marked” also by the “decision of some representative institution to call, under the direct revolutionary pressure   of the people, a constituent assembly”. No one, however, not even the new Iskra’s Editorial Board, who attended the Conference in full together with Plekhanov, could ever have thought up what "’Iskra’ has now shown”, and what the Bund has now summarised, confirmed, and christened with a magnificent name. Like all great discoveries, the theory of the spontaneous generation of a constituent assembly immediately sheds light on what was utter confusion. Now everything has become clear. There is no need to think of a revolutionary provisional government (remember Iskra’s famous dictum: let not the combination of the words “long live” and “government” defile your lips); there is no need to make the members of the State Duma give a “revolutionary pledge” to “transform the State Duma into a revolutionary assembly” (Cherevanin, in Iskra, No. 108). A constituent assembly can be generated spontaneously!! It will be immaculately brought forth-by the people themselves, who will not defile them selves with any “intermediary” by way of a government, even a provisional, even a revolutionary one. This will be birth “without original sin”, by the pure method of general elections with no “Jacobin” struggle for power, with no defilement of the holy cause through betrayal by bourgeois representative assemblies, and even without any coarse midwives, who hitherto in this profane, sinful, and unclean world had punctually appeared on the scene every time the old society was pregnant with a new one.

Hail spontaneous generation! Let all the revolutionary peoples of all Russia now appreciate its “possibility”—and consequently its necessity to them as the most rational, easy, and simple road to freedom! Let a monument be speedily erected in honour of the Bund and the new Iskra, the spontaneous progenitors of the theory of spontaneous generation!

But however much we may be blinded by the glaring light of this new scientific discovery, we must touch up on certain base features in this sublime creation. Just as the moon is very badly made in Hamburg,[3] so too new theories are fabricated none too carefully at the editorial office of Posledniye Izvestia. The recipe is a simple one, long a favourite with people who could never be accused of harbouring a single original thought—take contrasting views, mix   them, and divide into two parts! From Proletary we take the criticism of popular elections under the autocracy, from Iskra—condemnation of the “terrible problem”; from Proletary— the active boycott, from Iskra—the uselessness of insurrection as a slogan... “like a bee that gathers a fee from each flowering tree”. And the good Bundists are smugly preening them selves, rejoicing at the termination of disputes on the terrible problem, and admiring themselves: how superior they are to the narrow and biased views of both contending parties!

It doesn’t work out, comrades of the Bund. You have shown no other “way of spontaneous generation” than that of the new Iskra. And as regards the latter, you yourselves have had to admit that “under the autocracy and against the will of the government, which holds the entire machinery of state in its hands”, elections of popular representatives can only be farcical elections. Do not abandon us half-way, 0 creators of the new theory; tell us in what “way” other than the new Iskra’s you “visualise” “spontaneous generation”?

In opposition to Iskra, Proletary wrote that the only people who will be able to conduct elections under the autocracy are the Osvobozhdeniye League, who will willingly call them popular elections.[1] The Bund replies: “This argument does not hold water, since it is beyond doubt that the autocracy will allow no one—not even the Osvobozhdeniye League—to conduct elections except within limits established by law.” We may respectfully remark: the Zemstvos, municipal councillors, and members of “unions” have held, and are holding, elections. That is a fact. Their numerous bureaux provide proof of it.

The Bund writes: “We should not start agitation against the Duma and for an insurrection in general [!] since insurrection, as merely a means of effecting a political revolution, cannot in this case land not “in general”?] serve as a slogan for agitation. We can and must reply to the Duma by extending and intensifying political ’agitation for a constituent assembly to be elected on the basis of universal, etc., suffrage.” To this we answer: in the first place, had the Bundists done a little thinking, or even simply consulted   our Party programme, they would have seen that a constituent assembly, too, is only a “means”. It is illogical to declare one “means” suitable as a slogan, and another unsuitable “in general”. Secondly, we have already for a long time past repeatedly explained in detail that a slogan calling for a constituent assembly alone is inadequate, since it has become an Osvobozhdeniye slogan, the slogan of the bourgeois “compromisers” (see Proletary, Nos. 3 and 4[2] ). It is quite natural for the liberal monarchist bourgeoisie to gloss over the question of the method of convening a constituent assembly. For representatives of the revolutionary proletariat it is totally impermissible. The theory of spontaneous generation fully befits the former, but as regards the latter, it can only disgrace them in the eyes of class-conscious workers.

The Bund’s final argument: “An armed uprising is imperative, and we must keep on preparing for it all the time. However, we are as yet unable to launch an uprising, there fore [!!i there is no point in linking it up with the Duma.” To this we reply: 1) to acknowledge that insurrection and preparations for it are imperative and at the same time to turn up one’s nose contemptuously at the question of “combat squads” ("taken from the Vperyod arsenal”, as the Bund writes) means to defeat one’s own purpose and reveal a lack of thought in one’s writings. 2) A provisional revolutionary government is an organ of insurrection. This principle, which is clearly expressed in a resolution of the Third Congress, was accepted in essence by the new-Iskra Conference too, although, in our opinion, it was less aptly put (a provisional revolutionary government “emerging from a victorious popular insurrection”: both logic and historical experience show that it is possible to have provisional revolutionary governments as organs of insurrection which are far from victorious, or which are not completely victorious; moreover, a provisional revolutionary government does not only “emerge” from an uprising, but also directs it). The Bundists do not attempt to dispute this proposition,   and indeed it cannot be disputed. To recognise that an uprising and preparations for it are imperative, and at the same time to demand the cessation of disputes about the “terrible problem” of a provisional government means to write without thinking. 3) The phrase about the formation of a constituent assembly “without the aid of any government whatever, and consequently, without the aid of a provisional government as well” is an anarchist one. It is wholly on a level with the famous Iskra phrase about “defiling” the lips by combining the words “long live” with “government”. It shows a failure to understand the significance of a revolutionary government as one of the greatest and finest “means” of effecting a political revolution. The paltry “liberalism” flaunted here by the Bund in emulation of Iskra (that is to say, we can manage without any government, even a provisional one!) is sheer anarchist liberalism. The formation of a constituent assembly without the aid of an uprising is an idea worthy only of bourgeois philistines, as even the comrades of the Bund realise. Moreover, an uprising without the aid of a provisional revolutionary government can be neither an uprising of the whole people nor a victorious uprising. Again and again we must state with regret that the Bundists’ conclusions do not hang together. 4) If it is necessary to prepare for an uprising, such preparation must of necessity include the dissemination and explanation of slogans calling for an armed uprising of the people, the formation of a revolutionary army, and the establishment of a provisional revolutionary government. We must ourselves study new methods of struggle, their conditions, their forms, their dangers, their practical realisation, etc., and enlighten the masses on these matters. 5) The proposition: “we are as yet unable to launch an uprising” is wrong. The Potemkin events have proved rather that we are unable to prevent premature outbreaks of the uprising that is being prepared. The Potemkin sailors were less prepared than those on other ships, and the sweep of the uprising was less than it might have been. What is the conclusion to be drawn from this? First, that the task of preparing an uprising should include that of preventing premature outbreaks of an uprising that is being or has almost been prepared. Secondly, that the uprising now   developing spontaneously is outstripping the purposeful and planned work we are doing to prepare it. We are unable now to restrain the insurrectionary outbreaks which occur here and there sporadically, disconnectedly, and spontaneously. So much the more are we in duty bound to speed up dissemination and explanation of all the political tasks and political requisites of a successful uprising. All the more ill-advised, therefore, are suggestions that an end be put to the disputes about the “terrible problem” of a provisional government. 6) Is the idea that “there is no point in linking up insurrection with the Duma” correct? No, it is wrong. To determine beforehand just when .the uprising should take place is absurd, especially for us who are living abroad. In this sense there can be no question of any “linking up”, as has been repeatedly pointed out by Proletary. But agitation in favour of insurrection and advocacy of the latter must of necessity be “linked up” with all the important political events which are stirring the people. Our entire dispute now centres on the slogan of agitation which should be made the hub of our “Duma” agitation campaign. Is the Duma an event of that kind? Undoubtedly, it is. Will the workers and peasants ask us: What would be the best reply to the Duma? Undoubtedly, they will, and are even doing so already. How are we to reply to these questions? Not by referring to spontaneous generation (which can only be treated as a joke), but by explaining the conditions, forms, prerequisites, tasks, and organs of an insurrection. The more we achieve by such explanations, the more likely will it be that the inevitable insurrectionary outbreaks will be able to develop more smoothly and rapidly into a successful and victorious uprising.


[1] See p. 198 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] “Revolutionary Struggle and Liberal Brokerage”, “The Democratic Tasks of the Revolutionary Proletariat”. See present edition, Vol. 8., pp. 492-93, 511-18.—Ed.

[3] An expression from Gogol’s Diary of a Madman.

From the Defensive to the Offensive

Proletary, No. 15, September 26 (13), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 283-285.

The special correspondent of Le Temps, a highly reputable conservative paper, wired the following to that paper from St. Petersburg on September 21 (8):

"The night before last a group of 70 persons attacked the Riga Central Prison, cut the telephone wires and, using rope ladders, made their way into the prison yard, where after a stiff engagement two prison warders were killed and three seriously wounded. The demonstrators then freed two political prisoners who were to be court martialled and expected to be sentenced to death. During the pursuit of the demonstrators, who managed to escape, except for two who were arrested, one policeman was killed and several others wounded."

And so matters are moving ahead! Despite the incredible and utterly indescribable difficulties, headway is being made in the matter of getting armed. Individual terrorism, bred of intellectualist impotence, is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Instead of spending tens of thousands of rubles and a vast amount of revolutionary energy on the assassination of some Sergei[1] (who probably did more to make Moscow revolutionary-minded than many revolutionaries), on assassinations “in the name of the people”—military operations together with the people are now commencing. It is by engaging in such operations that the pioneers of armed struggle become fused with the masses not merely in word but in deed, assume leadership of the combat squads and contingents of the proletariat, train in the crucible of civil war dozens of popular leaders who, tomorrow, on the day of the workers’ uprising, will be able to help with their experience and their heroic courage thousands and tens of thousands of workers.

Hail the heroes of the Riga revolutionary contingent! May their success serve as encouragement and example to   Social-Democratic workers throughout Russia. Long live the pioneers of the people’s revolutionary army!

See how successful the venture of the Riga revolutionaries was even from a purely military standpoint. The enemy losses are three killed and probably five to ten wounded. Our loss is only two men, who were probably wounded and thus taken prisoner by the enemy. Our trophies are two revolutionary leaders rescued from prison. This is indeed a brilliant victory!! It is a real victory, scored in a battle against an enemy armed to the teeth. It is no longer a plot against some detested individual, no act of vengeance or desperation, no mere “intimidation”—no, it was a well thought-out and prepared commencement of operations by a contingent of the revolutionary army, planned with due regard for the correlation of forces. The number of such contingents of 25 to 75 men each can be increased to several dozen in every big city, and frequently in the suburbs of a big city. Workers will join them in hundreds; it is only necessary to begin extensive propaganda of this idea immediately, form such contingents, supply them with all sorts of weapons, ranging from knives and revolvers to bombs, and give these contingents military training and education.

Fortunately, the time has passed when revolution was “made” by individual revolutionary terrorists, because the people were not revolutionary. The bomb has ceased to be the weapon of the solitary “bomb thrower”, and is becoming an essential weapon of the people. With the improvements in military materiel the technique of street fighting is also changing, and necessarily so. At present time we are all (and very wisely so) making a study of how to put up barricades and defend them. Though this old work is useful, we must not overlook the newest developments in military weapons. The progress made in the use of explosives has resulted in a number of innovations in gunnery. The Japanese proved stronger than the Russians partly because they were able to make much better use of explosives. Extensive use of high explosives was one of the characteristic features of the recent war. And the Japanese, now recognised throughout the world as experts in military matters, have now adopted the hand bomb, which they used with such telling effect against Port Arthur. Let us learn from the Japanese! Let us not lose heart   because of the grave set-backs that have attended attempts to transport large quantities of arms. No failures can sap the energy of those who feel and actually see how intimately they are bound up with the revolutionary class, and realise that truly the whole people has now risen in defence of their immediate objectives. Bombs can be manufactured anywhere and everywhere. They are now being produced in Russia on a far larger scale than any of us know (and every member of the Social-Democratic organisation undoubtedly knows of more than one instance of such workshops being set up). They are manufactured on an incomparably larger scale than is known to the police (and the latter undoubtedly know more than the revolutionaries in each separate organisation). No force will be able to stand up to contingents of a revolutionary army armed with bombs, contingents that one fine night will launch simultaneously several such attacks as the one in Riga, and will be backed—and this is the last and most important condition—by the rising of hundreds of thousands of workers who have not forgotten the “peaceful” 9th of January, and who long for an armed January 9.

Matters in Russia are obviously heading towards that. Consider reports in the legal newspapers about bombs being found in the baggage of peaceful steamer passengers. Read about the hundreds of attacks on the police and the military, about the scores killed on the spot and the scores seriously injured during the last two months. Even correspondents of the treacherous bourgeois Osvobozhdeniye, which is so busy condemning the “mad” and “criminal” advocacy of insurrection, admit that never before have tragic events been so imminent as they are now.

To work, comrades! Let each stand at his post! Let every workers’ circle bear in mind that any day events may require that it take a leading part in the final and decisive battle.


[1] Sergei—the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov, the tsar’s uncle, Governor General of Moscow and one of the most reactionary representatives of the tsarist autocracy. Assassinated by the Socialist-Revolutionary Kalyaev on February 4 (17), 1905.


Socialism and the Peasantry

Proletary, No. 20, October 10 (September 27), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 307-315.

The revolution Russia is going through is a revolution of the entire people. The interests of the whole people have come into irreconcilable conflict with those of a handful of men constituting the autocratic government or backing it. The very existence of present-day society, which is based on commodity production and wherein the interests of the various classes and population groups are extremely varied and conflicting, calls for the destruction of the autocracy, the establishment of political liberty, and the open and direct expression of the dominating classes’ interests in the organisation and administration of the state. Bourgeois in its social and economic essence, the democratic revolution cannot but express the needs of all bourgeois society.

However, this society, which now seems a united whole in the struggle against the autocracy, is itself irremediably split by the chasm between capital and labour. The people that have risen against the autocracy are not a united people. Employers and wage-workers, the insignificant number of the rich ("the upper ten thousand”) and the tens of millions of those who toil and own no property—these are indeed “two nations”, as was said by a far-sighted Englishman as long ago as the first half of the nineteenth century.[3] The struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie stands on the order of the day throughout Europe. This struggle has long spread to Russia as well. In present-day Russia it is not two contending forces that form the content of the revolution, but two distinct and different social wars: one waged within the present autocratic-feudal system, the other within the future bourgeois-democratic system, whose birth we are already witnessing. One is the struggle of the entire people   for freedom (the freedom of bourgeois society), for democracy, i.e., the sovereignty of the people; the other Is the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie for a socialist organisation of society.

An arduous and formidable task thus devolves on the socialists—to wage two wars simultaneously, wars that are totally different in their nature, their aims, and the composition of the social forces capable of playing a decisive part in either of them. The Social-Democratic movement has explicitly set itself this difficult task, and has definitely coped with it thanks to its having based its entire programme on scientific socialism, i.e., Marxism, and thanks to its having become one of the contingents of the army of world Social-Democracy, which has verified, confirmed, explained, and developed in detail the principles of Marxism on the basis of the experience of so many democratic and socialist movements in the most diverse countries of Europe.

Revolutionary Social-Democracy has long indicated and proved the bourgeois nature of Russian democratism, ranging from the liberal-Narodnik to the Osvobozhdeniye varieties. It has always pointed out that it is inevitable for bourgeois democratism to be half-hearted, limited, and narrow. For the period of the democratic revolution it has set the socialist proletariat the task of winning the peasant masses over to its side, and, paralysing the bourgeoisie’s instability, of smashing and crushing the autocracy. A decisive victory of the democratic revolution is possible only in the form of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. But the sooner this victory is achieved, and the fuller it is, the faster and the more profoundly will fresh contradictions and a fresh class struggle develop within the fully democratised bourgeois system. The more completely we achieve the democratic revolution, the closer shall we approach the tasks of the socialist revolution, the more acute and incisive will be the proletariat’s struggle against the very foundations of bourgeois society.

The Social-Democrats must wage a relentless struggle against any departure from this presentation of the revolutionary-democratic and socialist tasks of the proletariat. It is absurd to ignore the democratic, i.e., essentially bourgeois, nature of the present revolution, and hence it is absurd to   bring forward such slogans as the one calling for the establishment of revolutionary communes. It is absurd and reactionary to belittle the tasks of the proletariat’s participation— and leading participation at that—in the democratic revolution, by shunning, for instance, the slogan of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. It is absurd to confuse the tasks and prerequisites of a democratic revolution with those of a socialist revolution, which, we repeat, differ both in their nature and in the composition of the social forces taking part in them.

It is on this last mentioned mistake that we propose to dwell in detail. The undeveloped state of the class contradictions in the people in general, and in the peasantry in particular, is an unavoidable phenomenon in the epoch of a democratic revolution, which for the first time lays the foundations for a really extensive development of capitalism. This lack of economic development results in the survival and revival, in one form or another, of the backward forms of a socialism which is petty-bourgeois, for it idealises reforms that do not go beyond the framework of petty-bourgeois relation ships. The mass of the peasants do not and cannot realise that the fullest “freedom” and the “justest” distribution even of all the land, far from destroying capitalism, will, on the contrary, create the conditions for a particularly extensive and powerful development of capitalism. Whereas Social-Democracy singles out and supports only the revolutionary-democratic substance of these peasant aspirations, petty-bourgeois socialism elevates to a theory this political backwardness of the peasants, confusing or jumbling together the prerequisites and the tasks of a genuine democratic revolution with those of an imaginary socialist revolution.

The most striking expression of this vague petty-bourgeois ideology is the programme, or rather draft programme, of the “Socialist-Revolutionaries”, who made the more haste to proclaim themselves a party, the less developed among them were the forms and prerequisites for a party. When analysing their draft programme (see Vperyod, No. 3[1] ) we already had occasion to point out that the Socialist-Revolutionaries’ views are rooted in the old Russian Narodnik ideas.   However, as the entire economic development of Russia, the entire course of the Russian revolution, is remorsely and ruthlessly cutting the ground from under the foundations of pure Narodism day by day and hour by hour, the views of the Socialist-Revolutionaries inevitably tend to become eclectic. They are trying to patch up the rents in the Narodnik ideas with bits of fashionable opportunist “criticism” of Marxism, but this does not make the tattered garment wear any the better. All in all, their programme is nothing but an absolutely lifeless and self-contradictory document, which is merely an expression of a stage in the history of Russian socialism on the road from the Russia of serfdom to bourgeois Russia, the road “from Narodism to Marxism This definition, which typifies a number of more or less small streams of contemporary revolutionary thought, is also applicable to the latest draft agrarian programme of the Polish Socialist Party (P.S.P.), published in No. 6-8 of Przed&whatthe;wit.[2]

The draft divides the agrarian programme into two parts. Part I sets forth “reforms for the realisation of which social conditions have already matured”; Part II—“formulates the consummation and integration of the agrarian reforms set forth in Part I”. Part I, in its turn, is subdivided into three sections: A) labour protection—demands for the benefit of the agricultural proletariat; B) agrarian reforms (in the narrow sense, or, so to say, peasant demands), and C) protection of the rural population (self-government, etc.).

This programme takes a step towards Marxism in attempting to single out something in the nature of a minimum from the maximum programme—then in providing a wholly independent formulation of demands of a purely proletarian nature; further, the preamble to the programme recognises that it is wholly inadmissible for socialists to “flatter the proprietory instincts of the peasant masses”. As a matter of fact, if the truth contained in this latter proposition had been given sufficient thought and carried to its logical conclusion, that would have inevitably resulted in a strictly Marxist programme. The trouble is that the P.S.P. which draws its ideas just as willingly from the fount of opportunist criticism   of Marxism is not a consistently proletarian party. “Since it has not been proved that landed property tends to concentrate,” we read in the preamble to the programme, “it is inconceivable to champion this form of economy with absolute sincerity and assurance, and to convince the peasant that the small farms will inevitably disappear.”

This is nothing but an echo of bourgeois political economy. Bourgeois economists are doing their utmost to instil in the small peasant the idea that capitalism is compatible with the well-being of the small independent farmer. That is why they veil the general question of commodity production, the yoke of capital, and the decline and degradation of small peasant farming by stressing the particular question of the concentration of landed property. They shut their eyes to the fact that large-scale production in specialised branches of agriculture producing for the market is also developing on small and medium-sized holdings, and that ownership of this kind is deteriorating because of greater leasing of land, as well as under the burden of mortgages and the pressure of usury. They obscure the indisputable fact of the technical superiority of large-scale production in agriculture and the fall in the peasant’s living standards in his struggle against capitalism. There is nothing in the P.S.P. statements but a repetition of these bourgeois prejudices, resurrected by the present-day Davids.[4]

The unsoundness of theoretical views affects the practical programme as well. Take Part I—the agrarian reforms in the narrow sense of the term. On the one hand, you read in Clause 5: “The abolition of all restrictions on the purchase of land allotments,” and in 6: “The abolition of szarwark[5] and obligatory cartage (compulsory services).” These are purely Marxist minimum demands. By presenting them (especially Clause 5) the P.S.P. is making a step forward in comparison with our Socialist-Revolutionaries, who in company with Moskovskiye Vedomosti have a weakness for the vaunted “in alienability of land allotments”. By presenting these demands the P.S.P. is verging on the Marxist idea regarding the struggle against remnants of serfdom, as the basis and content of the present-day peasant movement. Although the P.S.P. verges on to this idea, it is far from fully and consciously accepting it.

The main clauses of the minimum programme under consideration read as follows: "1) nationalisation through confiscation of the royal and state demesnes[6] as well as estates belonging to the clergy; 2) nationalisation of the big landed estates in the absence of direct heirs; 3) nationalisation of forests, rivers, and lakes.” These demands have all the defects of a programme whose main demand at present is the nationalisation of the land. So long as full political liberty and sovereignty of the people do not exist, whilst there is no democratic republic, it is both premature and inexpedient to present the demand for nationalisation, since nationalisation means transference to the state, and the present state is a police and class state; the state of tomorrow will in any case be a class state. As a slogan meant to lead forward towards democratisation, this demand is quite useless, for it does not place the stress on the peasants’ relations to the landlords (the peasants take the land of the landlords) but on the landlords’ relations to the state. This presentation of the question is totally wrong at a time like the present, when the peasants are fighting in a revolutionary way for the land, against both the landlords and the landlords’ state. Revolutionary peasant committees for confiscation, as instruments of confiscation—this is the only slogan that meets the needs of such a time and promotes the class struggle against the landlords, a struggle indissolubly bound up with the revolutionary destruction of the landlords’ state.

The other clauses of the agrarian minimum programme in the draft programme of the P.S.P. are as follows: "4) limitation of property rights, inasmuch as they become an impediment to all improvements in agriculture, should such improvements be considered necessary by the majority of those concerned; ... 7) nationalisation of insurance of grain crops against fire and hail, and of cattle against epidemics; 8) legislation for state assistance in the formation of agricultural artels and co-operatives; 9) agricultural schools.”

These clauses are quite in the spirit of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, or (what amounts to the same thing) of bourgeois reformism. There is nothing revolutionary about them. They are, of course, progressive—no one disputes that—but progressive in the interests of property-owners. For a socialist to advance them means nothing but flattering proprietory   instincts. To advance them is the same as demanding state aid to trusts, cartels, syndicates, and manufacturers’ associations, which are no less “progressive” than co-operatives, insurance, etc., in agriculture. All this is capitalist progress. To show concern for that is not our affair, but that of the employers, the entrepreneurs. Proletarian socialism, as distinct from petty-bourgeois socialism, leaves it to the Counts de Rocquigny, the land-owning Zemstvo members, etc., to take care of the co-operatives of the landowners, big and little—and concerns itself entirely and exclusively with wage-workers’ co-operatives for the purpose of fighting the landowners.

Let us now consider Part II of the programme. It consists of only one point: “Nationalisation of the big landed estates through confiscation. The arable land and pastures thus acquired by the people must be divided up into allotments and turned over to the landless peasants and those with small holdings, on guaranteed long-term leases.”

A fine “consummation”, indeed! Under the guise of “consummation and integration of agrarian reforms” a party calling itself socialist proposes what is by no means a socialist organisation of society, but rather an absurd petty-bourgeois utopia. Here we have a most telling example of complete con fusion of the democratic and the socialist revolutions, and complete failure to understand the difference in their aims. The transfer of the land from the landlords to the peasants may be—and in fact has in Europe everywhere been—a component part of the democratic revolution, one of the stages in the bourgeois revolution, but only bourgeois radicals can call it “consummation” or “final realisation”. The redistribution of land among the various categories of proprietors, among the various classes of farmers, may be advantageous and necessary for the victory of democracy, the complete eradication of all traces of serf-ownership, for raising the living standards of the masses, accelerating the development of capitalism, etc.; the most resolute support of a measure like that may be incumbent upon the socialist proletariat in the epoch of a democratic revolution, but only socialist production and not petty peasant production, can constitute a “consummation and final realisation”. “Guaranteeing” small-peasant leaseholds whilst commodity production and   capitalism are preserved, is nothing but a reactionary petty-bourgeois utopia.

We see now that the P.S.P.’s fundamental error is not peculiar to that Party alone, is not an isolated instance or some thing fortuitous. It expresses in a clearer and more distinct form (than the vaunted “socialisation” of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, which they themselves are unable to understand) the basic error of all Russian Narodism, all Russian bourgeois liberalism and radicalism in the agrarian question, including the bourgeois liberalism and radicalism that found expression in the discussions at the recent (September) Zemstvo Congress in Moscow.

This basic error may be expressed as follows:

In the presentation of immediate aims the programme of the P.S.P. is not revolutionary. In its ultimate aims it is not socialist.

In other words: a failure to understand the difference between a democratic revolution and a socialist revolution leads to a failure to express the genuinely revolutionary aspect of the democratic aims, while all the nebulousness of the bourgeois-democratic world outlook is brought into the socialist aims. The result is a slogan which is not revolutionary enough for a democrat, and inexcusably confused for a socialist.

On the other hand, Social-Democracy’s programme meets all requirements both of support for genuinely revolutionary democratism and the presentation of a clear socialist aim. In the present-day peasant movement we see a struggle against serfdom, a struggle against the landlords and the landlords’ state. We give full support to this struggle. The only correct slogan for such support is: confiscation through revolutionary peasant committees. What should be done with the confiscated land is a secondary question. It is not we who will settle this question, but the peasants. When it comes to being settled a struggle will begin between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie within the peasantry. That is why we either leave this question open (which is so displeasing to the petty-bourgeois projectors) or merely indicate the beginning of the road to be taken, by demanding the return of the cut off lands[7] (in which unthinking people see an obstacle to the movement, despite the numerous explanations given by the Social-Democrats).

There is only one way to make the agrarian reform, which is unavoidable in present-day Russia, play a revolutionary- democratic role: it must be effected on the revolutionary initiative of the peasants themselves, despite the landlords and the bureaucracy, and despite the state, i.e., it must be effected by revolutionary means. The very worst distribution of land after a reform of this sort will be better from all standpoints than what we have at present. And this is the road we indicate when we make our prime demand the establishment of revolutionary peasant committees.

But at the same time we say to the rural proletariat: “The most radical victory of the peasants, which you must help with all your force to achieve, will not rid you of poverty. This can be achieved only by one means: the victory of the entire proletariat—both industrial and agricultural— over the entire bourgeoisie and the formation of a socialist society.”

Together with the peasant proprietors, against the land lords and the landlords’ state; together with the urban proletariat, against the entire bourgeoisie and all the peasant proprietors. Such is the slogan of the class-conscious rural proletariat. And if the petty proprietors do not immediately accept this slogan, or even if they refuse to accept it altogether, it will nevertheless become the workers’ slogan, will inevitably be borne out by the entire course of the revolution, will rid us of petty-bourgeois illusions, and will clearly and definitely indicate to us our socialist goal.


[1] “From Narodism to Marxism”, 1905. See present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 83-89.—Ed.

[2] The Dawn—Ed.

[3] The reference is to Benjamin Disraeli.

[4] David, Eduard—German economist and adherent of Bernstein. A criticism of his views is given by Lenin in The Agrarian Question and the “Critics of Marx”.

[5] Szarwark—statute labour for the repair and construction of roads, bridges and other, mostly military, structures, imposed on the peasants in Poland.

[6] Demesnes—lands belonging to members of the tsar’s family.

[7] Cut-off lands (otrezki)—land which the landlords “cut off”, i.e., took away from the peasants, when serfdom was abolished in Russia in 1861.

A Replete Bourgeoisie and a Craving Bourgeoisie

Proletary, No. 20, October 10 (September 27), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 316-322.

Le Temps, one of the most influential organs of the French conservative bourgeoisie, is waging a most desperate campaign against socialism, and it is a rare day on which one fails to see in its columns the names of Marx, Bebel, Guesde and Jaurès, accompanied by the most vicious comment and vituperation. Le Temps cannot speak of socialism without trembling with rage.

The newspaper is following what well-intentioned Europeans call the Russian “crisis”, with the utmost attention, and never fails to offer edifying counsel to la nation amie et alliée—the “friendly and allied nation”. Thus on the present occasion, too, it devotes its leading article to the recent Zemstvo Congress. It recalls the preceding July Congress and cannot refrain even in retrospect from expressing its dissatisfaction. It was, you see, “a spectacle of utter incoherence of ideas and of complete incertitude of intention”; the Bulygin scheme was already known, but the delegates nevertheless confined themselves to “violent speeches”, without being able to come to a decision on the question of boycott or participation. The organ of the French ruling bourgeoisie even reminds the Zemstvo delegates with irritation that they had no mandates!

On the contrary, what a smile of satisfaction has now come over the face of the bourgeois who is replete with political power! How graciously he hastens to shake the noble hand of his confrère who as yet is only craving for political power, but who is already revealing his “maturity”! The boycott has been rejected, and now nothing more is being said about the absence of mandates. “The decision of the Zemstvo delegates,” says Le Temps, “does them credit.... It shows that   the political education of the most enlightened elements of the Russian people is progressing, and that they are abandoning vague plans of political prestidigitation, to enter boldly on the path of necessary evolution.”

The bourgeois who is replete with political power and who has experience of what real victories of the people, the workers and peasants, lead to in revolutions, has no hesitation in declaring the September Congress of the liberal land lords and merchants a victory of evolution over revolution.

He praises the “moderation” of the Congress. He points with evident satisfaction to the rejection of the resolutions on “parcelling up the land” and on suffrage for women. “The wisdom and moderation of these decisions clearly indicate that the opinions of the extreme parties did not prevail at this Congress. The programme agreed on is sufficiently democratic to disarm the revolutionaries. Since the Zemstvo Congress expects to put its plans into effect solely by lawful means, its programme may also rally those reformists whom personal issues will not cut off from the rest of the Congress.

The replete bourgeois slaps the craving bourgeois encouragingly on the shoulder—to have advanced a programme “sufficiently democratic” to throw dust into people’s eyes and disarm the revolutionaries, and have taken the path of legality, that is in plain and straightforward language to have come to terms with the Trepovs and Romanovs—that is true statesman-like wisdom.

That the hopes which the shrewd bourgeois places in simple minded revolutionaries are not quite groundless has been proved by our wiseacres of the new Iskra. They have dropped the reins and dashed into a trap; they are eagerly proposing to exact democratic pledges from the moderate bourgeois, who are now prepared heart and soul to promise anything and to pledge themselves to anything. It is not only in struggle between hostile parties, but even in the struggle within the socialist parties (as we found from experience after the Second Congress) that all promises go by the board, once the more or less substantial interests of the contending parties are involved. As the English saying goes—promises like pie-crust are leaven to be broken.[1]

What did Iskra’s tactics with regard to the Duma boil down to? To the ideological and tactical disarmament of the revolutionaries. The wiseacres of the opportunist Iskra worked for this disarmament by denouncing the idea of an active boycott, substituting (fully in the spirit of Novoye Vremya,[2] and almost in the same terms) a passive boycott for an active, preaching confidence and trustfulness in the Milyukovs and Stakhoviches who now embrace each other, and replacing the revolutionary slogan of insurrection with Osvobozhdeniye’s bourgeois twaddle, such as the “revolutionary self-government of citizens

It is only the blind who can still fail to see what a swamp Iskra has floundered into. In the illegal press it is completely isolated, with only Osvobozhdeniye on its side. The Bund, which even Martov and Axelrod will not suspect of any liking for the “Vperyod arsenal”, has come out resolutely for an active boycott. In the legal press all the scoundrels and all the moderate liberals have united against the radical bourgeois who have voiced sympathy with the boycott and are disposed towards the peasantry in a most friendly way.

Well, did Lenin tell any falsehood when, in analysing the new-Iskra resolutions, he said in his Two Tactics that “Iskra” is descending to the level of the liberal landlords, while Proletary is endeavouring to raise the level of the revolutionary peasants?

We have mentioned Novoye Vremya. Both that reptile of an organ and Moskovskiye Vedomosti are waging a desperate struggle against the idea of a boycott, thereby revealing to all and sundry the Duma’s actual political significance. As a sample, here is a typical outburst by Novoye Vremya, which we shall dwell on the more readily as it is shedding new light on the abysmal bourgeois vileness displayed by even such a “respectable” liberal organ as Russkiye Vedomosti.

Mr. Yollos, its well-known Berlin correspondent, deals with the Jena Congress in No. 247. To begin with, his philistine soul rejoices at the fact that there has appeared such a kind-hearted and fair-minded bourgeois liberal, the wealthy Abbe, who has made to the city of Jena the gift of a People’s House, in which all parties, including even the Social-Democrats, are free to meet. And Mr. Yollos draws the moral: “One can benefit the people outside definite party bounds   too.” That, of course, is true. But what are we to say of a writer, who, at a time of desperate party struggle in Russia, indulges in praise of non-partisanship? Doesn’t Mr. Yollos really understand that this is a piece of the worst political tactlessness, since he is thereby playing into the hands of Novoye Vremya? The true meaning of this philistine delight in non-partisanship will, however, become apparent to the reader from the following statement by Mr. Yollos: “Needless to say there are political conditions under which it is useful for the time being to keep ultimate aims to oneself, and to bear in mind the immediate aims common to socialism and to liberalism.”

Now that is frank! Thank you, Mr. Yollos, for at least being explicit! It remains for us, whenever addressing the workers, to make use of such declaration at all times and on all occasions to show up the bourgeois nature of Russian liberalism, and to make clear to the workers the need for an independent party of the proletariat, one that is undeviatingly hostile to the bourgeoisie, even the most liberal.

But all these tirades by our “democrat” are nothing compared with what is to come. Mr. Yollos does not confine him self to advising the proletariat “to keep its ultimate aims to itself for the time being”, i.e., renounce socialism. No, he also advises renouncing the idea of bringing the present political revolution to its consummation. Mr. Yollos cites a speech by Bebel and plays up the passage in which Bebel expresses doubt as to whether we can succeed in transforming Russia into a civilised state “so soon”, while at the same time declaring that the old autocratic regime will never return, and “the old Russia is no longer possible”. Concerning this passage Mr. Yollos writes the following: “I do not consider Bebel an authority on Russian affairs, but I must observe that in this part of his speech he differs favourably from Kautsky and several other doctrinaires who recommend Revolution in Permanenz (uninterrupted revolution). As a clever man and politician who realises what concrete forms a state of uninterrupted anarchy assumes in the life of a nation, Bebel sees progress primarily in the promotion of cultural aims, and his words make it quite clear that he draws no line of demarcation and certainly erects no barriers between the Russian   intelligentsia and the Russian proletariat, at any rate before the elementary rights of man have been secured.”

First of all this is a libel on Bebel, a libel fully in the style of Novoye Vremya. Bebel always and unequivocally draws a “line of demarcation” between bourgeois and proletarian democratism; Mr. Yollos cannot be ignorant of that. Bebel distinguishes in no uncertain fashion between the bourgeois intelligentsia and the Social-Democratic intelligentsia. To assure the Russian reader that Bebel, while fighting for “culture”, ever hushes up the mendacity and treachery of the bourgeois democrats on the one hand, and the socialist aims of the working class on the other, means slandering in the grossest manner the leader of revolutionary Social-Democracy in Germany.

Secondly, it does not at all follow from Bebel’s speech that he regards the Russian revolution otherwise than Kautsky. The “favourable difference” in this respect between Bebel and Kautsky is a sheer fabrication by Mr. Yollos, who has extracted and distorted a single passage in Bebel’s speech, while maintaining silence about Bebel’s numerous declarations fully in favour of the Russian revolution and its decisive victory.

Thirdly—and for us this is the most interesting feature of the stand taken by Russkiye Vedomosti—Mr. Yollos’s outburst shows that he is a/raid of a decisive victory of the revolution in Russia. Mr. Yollos says that “uninterrupted revolution” is “uninterrupted anarchy”. To say that means saying that revolution is sedition; to say that means becoming a traitor to the revolution. And let not the Osvobozhdeniye diplomatists, who are so fond of asserting that they have no enemies on their left, try to tell us that this is only an accidental slip on the part of Russkiye Vedomosti. That is not true. It is an expression of the most profound sentiments and the most deep-rooted interests of the liberal landlord and the liberal manufacturer. It is the same thing as the statement made by Mr. Vinogradov, who is calling for a struggle to prevent the Russian revolution from entering on the path of 1789. It is the same as the servility of Mr. Trubetskoi, who told the tsar that he disapproved of sedition. This is no slip. It is the sole truthful statement in words on the count less disgraceful deeds of our bourgeois democrats, who are   wearied of “uninterrupted anarchy”, are beginning to long for law and order, are already tired of “fighting” .(even though they never did any fighting), and already recoil from revolution at the mere sight of workers and peasants actually rising for actual battle, eager to strike blows, and not receive them. The bourgeois democrats are prepared to wink at the misdeeds of the Trepovs and the slaughter of unarmed people; they are not afraid of that, but of “anarchy” of a quite different kind, when power will no longer be wielded by Trepov or by Petrunkevich and Rodichev, and the uprising of the peasants and workers will be victorious. The bourgeois democrats rally to the Duma idea so eagerly for the very reason that they see in it an earnest of the betrayal of the revolution, an earnest of the prevention of the complete victory of the revolution—that terrible “uninterrupted anarchy”.

Novoye Vremya provides evidence of the fact that our analysis of the liberals’ psychology is a faithful one. These dyed-in-the-wool lackeys of the Trepovs took immediate note of Russkiye Vedomosti’s baseness and hastened to heartily embrace their confrères. It is precisely this lie of Mr. Yollos’s about Bebel “differing favourably” from Kautsky that Novoye Vremya of September 13 (26) cites approvingly, remarking in its turn:

“Thus, our radical ‘absentees’ will have to exclude Bebel too from the number of their allies.”

This is a perfectly legitimate conclusion. The professional Novoye Vremya traitors have correctly appraised the sum and substance of the “slip” made by Russkiye Vedomosti. Morever, Novoye Vremya, that past master of politics, at once drew a conclusion with regard to the Duma. Although Mr. Yollos did not say a word about Bebel’s views on the boycott, Novoye Vremya nevertheless labelled as “absentees” those in favour of the boycott. Novoye Vremya supplemented the libel against Bebel with a libel against the “radicals”, expressing, however, the absolutely correct opinion that the “radical absentees’” tactics are governed by the idea of the complete victory of the revolution, the idea of uninterrupted revolution, whereas the pro-Duma liberals are prompted by the fear of “uninterrupted anarchy”. Novoye Vremya is right. Trepov’s lackeys were fully justified in catching Mr. Yollos in the act   and telling him: If you do not want “uninterrupted anarchy” then it follows that you are my ally, and no democratic bombast will dissuade me of this. Ours is a minor family quarrel—against the “doctrinaires”, the supporters of “uninterrupted anarchy”, however, we shall be at one!

Will Iskra fail to realise even now that in reproaching the boycott supporters with abstention, i.e., absenteeism, it was talking after the Novoye Vremya fashion? Can it fail to realise that this concurrence of its slogans with those of Novoye Vremya proves that there is something fundamentally false in its stand?

The replete European bourgeoisie lauds the moderation of the Russian bourgeoisie, which is craving for power. Trepov’s lackeys laud Mr. Yollos of Russkiye Vedomosti for censuring the idea of “uninterrupted anarchy”. The Novoye Vremya and new-Iskra gentry scoff at “absenteeism”....


[1] This phrase is in English in the original.—Ed.

[2] Novaye Vremya (New Times)—a newspaper published in St. Peters burg from 1868 to October 1917. Moderately liberal at the outset, it became, after 1876, the organ of reactionary circles of the nobility and the bureaucracy. The paper was hostile not only to the revolutionary movement, but even to the liberal-bourgeois. Following 1905 it became an organ of the Black Hundreds. Lenin called Novoye Vremya the acme of venality in the press.


Days of Bloodshed in Moscow[2]

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 336-341.

Geneva, October 10 (September 27), 1905

A new outbreak of the workers’ insurrection—a mass strike and street fighting in Moscow. On January 9 the first peal of revolutionary action by the proletariat thundered forth in the capital. The rumbling of this thunderclap reverberated throughout Russia, and with unparalleled rapidity roused over a million proletarians to titanic battle. St. Petersburg was followed by the outlying regions, where oppression of local nationalities had rendered the already insufferable political yoke still more intolerable. Riga, Poland, Odessa, the Caucasus—all in turn became centres of insurrection which spread and gained in intensity with every month, with every week. It has now reached the centre of Russia, the heart of the “true Russian” regions, whose stability had longest been movingly eulogised by the reactionaries. A number of circumstances explain this relative stability, i.e., backwardness, in the Russian central regions. These are: the less developed forms of big industry which involves masses of workers but is less divorced from the land and has in less measure concentrated proletarians in intellectual centres; the greater distances from foreign countries; the absence of national discord. The labour movement, which manifested itself with such great force in this region as far back as 1885-86, seemed to have died down for a long time, and the obstacles presented by the particularly difficult local conditions of work frustrated the efforts of the Social-Democrats scores of times.

But at last things began to move in the central areas too. The Ivanovo-Voznesensk strike[3] has revealed an unexpectedly   high degree of political maturity in the workers. Ever since this strike the entire central industrial region has been in a state of unrest, which has been steadily developing, gaining in intensity and sweep. This unrest has now begun to manifest itself openly in the form of an uprising. Without any doubt the outbreak was intensified by the revolutionary students in Moscow, who have just passed a resolution, quite analogous to the St. Petersburg resolution, branding the State Duma, calling for a struggle on behalf of a republic and for the establishment of a provisional revolutionary government. The “liberal” professors, who had just selected a most liberal rector, the notorious Mr. Trubetskoi, closed the University under the pressure of police threats; as they themselves said, they were afraid of a repetition of the Tiflis shambles[4] within the University walls. They thereby merely precipitated bloodshed in the streets, outside the University.

As far as we can judge from the brief telegrams in the foreign press, the course of events in Moscow was the “customary” one, which has, so to speak, become the regular thing ever since January 9. It began with a compositors’ strike, which spread rapidly. On Saturday, September 24 (October 7), the printing-shops, electric trains, and tobacco factories were already at a standstill. No newspapers appeared, and a general strike of factory and railway workers was expected. In the evening big demonstrations were held, attended, besides the compositors, by workers of other trades, students, and so on. The Cossacks and gendarmes dispersed the demonstrators time and again, but they kept reassembling. Many policemen were injured; the demonstrators used stones and revolvers; an officer in command of the gendarmes was severely injured. One Cossack officer and one gendarme were killed, and so on.

On Saturday the bakers joined the strike.

On Sunday, September 25 (October 8), events at once took an ominous turn. From 11 a. m. workers began to assemble in the streets—especially on Strastnoi Boulevard and elsewhere. The crowd sang the Marseillaise. Printing-shops which refused to go on strike were wrecked. It was only after overcoming stubborn resistance that the Cossacks managed to disperse the demonstrators.

A crowd of about 400, consisting chiefly of bakery apprentices assembled in front of Filippov’s shop, near the Governor General’s residence. The crowd was attacked by Cossacks. The workers made their way into houses, climbed on to roofs, and showered the Cossacks with stones. The Cossacks opened fire at the roofs and, unable to dislodge the workers, resorted to a regular siege. One house was surround ed. A detachment of police and two companies of grenadiers made a flank movement, penetrated into the house from the rear and finally occupied the roof too. One hundred and ninety-two apprentices were arrested. Eight of them were injured and two workers were killed (we repeat that these are all telegraphic reports in the foreign press, of course, far from complete and providing only an approximate idea of the scale of the fighting). A reputable Belgian newspaper has published a report that janitors were busy cleaning the streets of traces of blood. This minor detail, it says, testifies to the seriousness of the struggle more than lengthy reports can.

St. Petersburg papers seem to have been allowed to write about the massacre in Tverskaya Street. However, on the very next day the censor became frightened of publicity, so that official reports as of Monday, September 26 (October 9) stated that there had been no serious disturbances in Moscow. A different story was contained in telephone messages reaching St. Petersburg newspapers. It appears that the crowd reassembled near the Governor General’s house, where sharp clashes took place. The Cossacks opened fire several times. As they dismounted to fire, their horses trampled on many people. In the evening crowds of workers thronged the boulevards, shouting revolutionary slogans and holding red banners aloft. The crowd wrecked bakers and gunsmiths’ shops. They were finally dispersed by the police. Many were injured. A company of soldiers are standing guard at the Central Telegraph office. The bakers’ strike has become general. Unrest among the students is still mounting, their assemblies growing ever larger and more revolutionary. The St. Petersburg correspondent of The Times reports that leaflets with a call to fight have been circulated in St. Petersburg, that unrest is rife among the bakers there, that a demonstration has been fixed for   Saturday, October 1(14), and that the public are greatly alarmed.

Meagre as this information is, it nevertheless leads us to the conclusion that the insurrectionary outbreak in Moscow is not a relatively high stage of the movement, compared with the others. No previously trained and well-armed revolutionary contingents were in evidence; no section of the troops went over to the side of the people, nor was wide use made of bombs, the “new” type of popular armament (which created such panic among the Cossacks and soldiers in Tiflis on September 26 [October 91). In the absence of any of these conditions, it was impossible to count either on the arming of a large number of workers, or on the victory of the uprising. As we have already pointed out, the Moscow events are of moment for quite a different reason: they mark the baptism of fire of a big centre, the involvement of an enormous industrial region in a serious struggle.

The uprising in Russia does not and cannot, of course, advance at an even and regular rate. The outstanding feature of the St. Petersburg events of January 9 was the rapid and unanimous movement of huge masses, unarmed and not out for battle, who nevertheless received a great lesson in the struggle. In Poland and in the Caucasus the movement is characterised by great stubbornness and the relatively more frequent use of arms and bombs by the population. The events in Odessa were distinguished by the fact that part of the troops went over to the rebels. In all cases and at all times, the movement has been essentially proletarian, inseparably merged with the mass strike. In Moscow the movement proceeded along the same lines, as was the case in a number of other and smaller industrial centres.

The question which naturally arises now is: will the revolutionary movement stop at the stage of development it has already reached, a stage which has become “customary” and familiar, or will it advance to a higher level? If we venture into the field of appraisal of such intricate and incalculable events as those of the Russian revolution, we shall inevitably arrive at the conclusion that the second alternative is infinitely the more probable. True, even the present form of struggle, already rehearsed if we may use such an expression—guerilla warfare, constant strikes,   wearing down the enemy in street fighting, now in this part of the country, now in another—this form of struggle has also yielded and continues to yield very important results. No state is able to withstand à la longue[1] a stubborn struggle of this sort, which brings industrial life to a standstill, introduces utter demoralisation into the bureaucracy and the army, and spreads dissatisfaction with the existing state of affairs among all sections of the people. Still less is the Russian autocratic government capable of enduring such a struggle. We may be quite confident that a persistent continuation of the struggle, even in forms that have already been created by the working-class movement, will inevitably bring about the collapse of tsarism.

However, it is highly improbable that the revolutionary movement in present-day Russia will halt at the stage it has already reached. On the contrary, all the facts indicate rather that this is only an initial stage in the struggle. Far from all the consequences of the shameful and ruinous war have as yet been felt by the people. The economic crisis in the cities and famine in the villages are exacerbating public feeling. Judging by available information, the Manchurian army is in an extremely revolutionary temper, and the government is afraid to bring it back—yet it is impossible not to bring it back in view of the danger of new and even more serious uprisings. Never before has political agitation among the workers and peasants in Russia been so wide spread, so methodical, or so far-reaching. The State Duma farce inevitably entails fresh defeats for the government, and fresh ill-will in the population. Within the last ten months or so, the insurrection has grown tremendously before our very eyes, and the conclusion that the uprising will soon reach a new and higher stage, wherein fighting detachments of revolutionaries or of mutinous military units will come to the assistance of the multitude, helping the masses to procure arms, and introducing the greatest vacillation into the ranks of the “tsarist” (still tsarist, but already far from wholly tsarist) troops, wherein the uprising will lead to an important victory which tsarism will be unable to recover from—this conclusion is not a figment of the   imagination or a piece of wishful thinking, but one that stems directly and necessarily from the facts of the mass struggle.

The tsar’s troops were victorious over the workers in Moscow. This victory has not enfeebled the vanquished, but has only welded them more closely together, deepened their hatred, and brought them closer to the practical tasks of a serious struggle. It is one of those victories that cannot fail to introduce vacillation in the ranks of the victors. Only now are the troops beginning to learn, and to learn not only by looking up laws but from their own experience, that they are being mobilised wholly and exclusively to fight the “enemy at home”. The war with Japan is over, but mobilisation continues, mobilisation against the revolution. Such mobilisation holds no terrors for us, nor do we hesitate to welcome it, for the greater the number of soldiers called upon to wage a systematic struggle against the people, the more rapidly will the political and revolutionary education of these soldiers proceed. By mobilising ever new military units to wage war on the revolution, tsarism is delaying the issue, but such delay is of the greatest advantage to us, for in such protracted guerilla warfare the proletarians will learn how to fight, while the army will inevitably be drawn into political life, and the call of that life, the militant call of young Russia, is penetrating even the tightly locked doors of the army barracks, is awakening even the most ignorant, the most backward, and the most cowed.

An insurrectionary outbreak has once more been sup pressed. Once more we say: Hail the insurrection!


[1] For a long time.—Ed.

[2] Days of Bloodshed in Moscow is a draft of the article “The Political Strike and the Street Fighting in Moscow”, which is published in this volume on pages 347-55.

[3] The Ivanovo-Voznesensk strike, which began at the end of May and lasted till early August in 1905, involved about 70,000 workers of both sexes. Leadership was provided by the Northern Committee of the Bolsheviks. During the strike the workers formed a Council of Workers’ Representatives which in fact was one of the earliest Soviets of Workers’ Deputies in Russia.

[4] The police fired on Tiflis workers who had gathered on August 29 (September 11), 1905 in the building of the City Council to discuss the elections to the State Duma. By order of the tsarist authorities, the police and the Cossacks surrounded the building, broke into the hall where over 2,000 persons were assembled, and fell upon them. Sixty people were killed and about 300 injured.

All over the Caucasus—in Tiflis, Kutaisi, Sukhumi, etc.— political demonstrations and strikes took place in protest against the crimes perpetrated by the tsarist regime. Leaflets calling for an armed uprising against the autocracy were published by the Tiflis Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. and No. 18 of Proletary dated September 26 (13), 1905 carried a special bulletin signed by the Caucasian League Committee regarding the events in Tiflis.


To the Combat Committee of the St. Petersburg Committee

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 344-346.

October 16, 1905

Dear Comrades,

Many thanks for sending 1) the report of the Combat Committee and 2) a memorandum on the organisation of preparations for insurrection +3) a scheme of the organisation. After reading these documents, I think it my duty to write directly to the Combat Committee for a comradely exchange of opinions. I need hardly say that I do not undertake to judge of the practical side of the matter; there can be no doubt that everything possible is being done under the difficult conditions in Russia. However, judging by the documents, the whole thing threatens to degenerate into office routine. All these schemes, all these plans of organisation of the Combat Committee create the impression of red tape— forgive me my frankness, but I hope that you will not suspect me of fault-finding. Schemes, and disputes and discussions about the functions of the Combat Committee and its rights, are of the least value in a matter like this. What is needed is furious energy, and again energy. It horrifies me— I give you my word—it horrifies me to find that there has been talk about bombs for over six months, yet not one has been made! And it is the most learned of people who are doing the talking.... Go to the youth, gentlemen! That is the only remedy! Otherwise—I give you my word for it—you will be too late (everything tells me that), and will be left with “learned” memoranda, plans, charts, schemes, and magnificent recipes, but without an organisation, without a living cause. Go to the youth. Form fighting squads at once everywhere,   among the students, and especially among the workers, etc., etc. Let groups be at once organised of three, ten, thirty, etc., persons. Let them arm themselves at once as best they can, be it with a revolver, a knife, a rag soaked in kerosene for starting fires, etc. Let these detachments at once select leaders, and as far as possible contact the Combat Committee of the St. Petersburg Committee. Do not demand any formalities, and, for heaven’s sake, forget all these schemes, and send all “functions, rights, and privileges” to the devil. Do not make membership in the R.S.D.L.P. an absolute condition—that would be an absurd demand for an armed uprising. Do not refuse to contact any group, even if it consists of only three persons; make it the one sole condition that it should be reliable as far as police spying is concerned and prepared to fight the tsar’s troops. Let the groups join the R.S.D.L.P. or associate themselves with the R.S.D.L.P. if they want to; that would be splendid. But I would consider it quite wrong to insist on it.

The role of the Combat Committee of the St. Petersburg Committee should be to help these contingents of the revolutionary army, to serve as a “bureau” for contact purposes, etc. Any contingent will willingly accept your services, but if in such a matter you begin with schemes and with talk about the “rights” of the Combat Committee, you will ruin the whole cause; I assure you, you will ruin it irreparably.

You must proceed to propaganda on a wide scale. Let five or ten people make the round of hundreds of workers’ and students’ study circles in a week, penetrate wherever they can, and everywhere propose a clear, brief, direct, and simple plan: organise combat groups immediately, arm yourselves as best you can, and work with all your might; we will help you in every way we can, but do not wait for our help; act for yourselves.

The principal thing in a matter like this is the initiative of the mass of small groups. They will do everything. With out them your entire Combat Committee is nothing. I am prepared to gauge the efficiency of the Combat Committee’s work by the number of such combat groups it is in contact with. If in a month or two the Combat Committee does not have a minimum of 200 or 300 groups in St. Petersburg, then it is a dead Combat Committee. It will have to be   buried. If it cannot muster a hundred or two of groups in seething times like these, then it is indeed remote from real life.

The propagandists must supply each group with brief and simple recipes for making bombs, give them an elementary explanation of the type of the work, and then leave it all to them. Squads must at once begin military training by launching operations immediately, at once. Some may at once undertake to kill a spy or blow up a police station, others to raid a bank to confiscate funds for the insurrection, others again may drill or prepare plans of localities, etc. But the essential thing is to begin at once to learn from actual practice: have no fear of these trial attacks. They may, of course, degenerate into extremes, but that is an evil of the morrow, whereas the evil today is our inertness, our doctrinaire spirit, our learned immobility, and our senile fear of initiative. Let every group learn, if it is only by beating up policemen: a score or so victims will be more than compensated for by the fact that this will train hundreds of experienced fighters, who tomorrow will be leading hundreds of thousands.

I send you warm greetings, comrades, and wish you success. I have no desire to impose my views on you, but I consider it my duty to tender my word of advice.




The Political Strike and the Street Fighting in Moscow

Proletary, No. 21, October 17 (4), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 347-355.

The revolutionary events in Moscow have been the first flashes of lightning in a thunderstorm and they have lit up a new field of battle. The promulgation of the State Duma Act and the conclusion of peace have marked the beginning of a new period in the history of the Russian revolution. Already weary of the workers’ persistent struggle and disturbed by the spectre of “uninterrupted revolution”, the liberal bourgeoisie has heaved a sigh of relief and joyously caught at the sop thrown to it. All along the line a struggle has begun against the idea of a boycott, and liberalism has turned openly towards the right. Unfortunately, even among the Social-Democrats (in the new-Iskra camp) there are unstable people who are prepared on certain terms to support these bourgeois traitors to the revolution, and to take the State Duma “seriously”. The events in Moscow, it may be hoped, will put the sceptics to shame, and will help the doubters to make a proper appraisal of the state of affairs on the new field of battle. Anaemic intellectuals’ dreams of the possibility of popular elections under the autocracy, as well as illusions harboured by dull-witted liberals regarding the State Duma’s crucial importance, vanished into thin air at the very first major revolutionary action by the proletariat.

Our information on the Moscow events is as yet (October 12, N. S.) very meagre. It is confined to brief and often contradictory reports in foreign newspapers, and to censor screened accounts of the beginning of the movement, published in the legal press. One thing is certain: in its initial stage the Moscow workers’ struggle proceeded along lines that have become customary during the past revolutionary year. The   working-class movement has left its imprint on the entire Russian revolution. Starting with sporadic strikes it rapidly developed into mass strikes, on the one hand, and into street demonstrations, on the other. In 1905 the political strike has become an established form of the movement, developing before our eyes into insurrection. Whereas it took the entire working-class movement of Russia ten years to reach its present (and of course far from final) stage, the movement in certain parts of the country has progressed in a few days from a mere strike to a tremendous revolutionary outbreak.

The compositors’ strike in Moscow, we are informed, was started by politically backward workers. But the movement immediately slipped out of their control, and became a broad trade union movement. Workers of other trades joined in. Street demonstrations by workers, inevitable if only for the purpose of letting uninformed fellow-workers learn of the strike, turned into political demonstrations, with revolutionary songs and speeches. Long suppressed bitterness against the vile farce of “popular” elections to the State Duma came to the surface. The mass strike developed into a mass mobilisation of fighters for genuine liberty. The radical students appeared on the scene, who in Moscow passed a resolution absolutely analogous to that of the St. Petersburg students. In the language of free citizens, not of cringing officials, this resolution very properly branded the State Duma as brazen mockery of the people, and called for a struggle for a republic, for the convocation of a genuinely popular and genuinely constituent assembly by a revolutionary provisional government. The proletariat and progressive sections of the revolutionary democrats began street fighting against the tsarist army and police.

This is how the movement developed in Moscow. On Saturday, September24 (October 7), the compositors were no longer alone—the tobacco factories and electric trains were also at a standstill, and a bakers’ strike had begun. In the evening big demonstrations were held, attended, besides workers and students, by very many “outsiders” (revolutionary workers and radical students no longer regarded each other as outsiders at open actions by the people). The Cossacks and gendarmes did their utmost to disperse the demonstrators,   who kept reassembling. The crowd offered resistance to the police and the Cossacks; revolver shots were fired and many policemen were wounded.

On Sunday, September 25 (October 8), events at once took a formidable turn. At 11 a. m. workers began to assemble in the streets, with the crowd singing the Marseillaise. Revolutionary mass meetings were held, and printing-shops whose staff refused to strike were wrecked. Bakeries and gunsmiths’ shops were attacked, for the workers needed bread to live and arms to fight for freedom (just as the French revolutionary song has it). It was only after stub born resistance that the Cossacks managed to disperse the demonstrators. There was a regular battle in Tverskaya Street, near the Governor General’s house. In front of the Filippov bakery a crowd of bakers’ apprentices assembled. As the management of the bakery subsequently declared, they were going out peacefully into the street, after stopping work in solidarity with the other strikers. A Cossack detachment attacked the crowd, who made their way into a house, climbed on to the roof and into the garrets, and showered the soldiers with stones. There began a regular siege of the house, with the troops firing on the workers. All communication was cut. Two companies of grenadiers made a flank movement, penetrated into the house from the rear, and captured the enemy’s stronghold. One hundred and ninety-two apprentices were arrested, of whom eight were injured; two workers were killed. There were injured among the police and the troops, a captain of gendarmes sustaining fatal injuries.

Naturally, this information is extremely incomplete. According to private telegrams, quoted in some foreign newspapers, the brutality of the Cossacks and soldiers knew no bounds. The Filippov bakery management has protested against the unprovoked outrages perpetrated by the troops. A reputable Belgian newspaper has published a report that janitors were busy cleaning the streets of traces of blood. This minor detail—it says—testifies to the seriousness of the struggle more than lengthy reports can. On the basis of information from private sources that has found its way into the press, Vorwärts[1] has stated that in Tverskaya Street 10,000 strikers clashed with an infantry battalion, which   fired several volleys. The ambulance service had its hands full. It is estimated that no less than 50 people were killed and as many as 600 injured. The arrested are reported to have been taken to army barracks, where they were mercilessly and brutally manhandled, being made to run the gauntlet. It is further reported that during the street fighting the officers distinguished themselves by their inhuman brutality, even towards women (a St. Petersburg cable from the special correspondent of the conservative bourgeois Temps, dated October 10 [September 27]).

Information on the events of the subsequent days is more and more scanty. The workers’ wrath mounted frightfully, the movement gathering momentum. The government took all measures to ban or slash all reports. Foreign newspapers have openly written of the contradiction between the reassuring news from the official agencies (which at one time were believed) and the news transmitted to St. Petersburg by telephone. Gaston Leroux wired to the Paris Matin that the censorship was performing prodigies by way of preventing the spread of news that might be in the least alarming. Monday, September 26 (October 9), he wrote, was one of the most sanguinary days in the history of Russia. There was fighting in all the main streets and even near the Governor General’s residence. The demonstrators unfurled a red flag. Many were killed or injured.

The reports in other papers are contradictory. Only one thing is certain—the strike is spreading and has been joined by most workers employed at the big factories, and even in the light industries. The railwaymen too have stopped work. The strike is becoming general. (Tuesday, October 10 [September 271, and Wednesday.)

The situation is extremely grave. The movement is spreading to St. Petersburg: the workers of the San-Galli Works have already downed tools.

This is as far as our information goes to date. Any complete appraisal of the Moscow events on the strength of such information is, of course, out of the question. One still cannot say whether these events are a full-scale rehearsal for a decisive proletarian onslaught on the autocracy, or whether they are actually the beginning of this onslaught; whether they are only an extension of the “usual” methods of struggle   described above to a new area of Central Russia, or whether they are destined to mark the beginning of a higher form of struggle and of a more decisive uprising.

To all appearances, the answer to these questions will be forthcoming in the near future. One thing is certain: before our very eyes, the insurrection is spreading, the struggle is becoming ever more widespread, and its forms ever more acute. All over Russia the proletariat is pressing onward with heroic efforts, indicating now here, now there, in what direction the armed uprising can and, undoubtedly, will develop. True, even the present form of struggle, already created by the movement of the working masses, is dealing very telling blows at tsarism. The civil war has assumed the form of desperately stubborn and universal guerilla warfare. The working class is giving the enemy no respite, disrupting industrial life, constantly bringing the entire machinery of local government to a standstill, creating a state of alarm all over the country, and is mobilising ever new forces for the struggle. No state is able to hold out for long against such an onslaught, least of all the utterly corrupt tsarist government, from which its supporters are falling away one by one. And if the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie finds the struggle at times too persistent, if it is terrified by the civil war and by the alarming state of uncertainty which has gripped the country, the continuation of this state of affairs and the prolongation of the struggle is a matter of the utmost necessity to the revolutionary proletariat. If, among ideologists of the bourgeoisie, people are beginning to appear who are set on smothering the revolutionary conflagration with their sermons on peaceful and law-abiding progress, and are concerned with blunting the political crisis instead of making it more acute, the class-conscious proletariat, which has never doubted the treacherous nature of the bourgeois bye of freedom, will march straight ahead, rousing the peasantry to follow it, and causing disaffection in the tsar’s army. The workers’ persistent struggle, the constant strikes and demonstrations, the partial uprisings—all these, so to say, test battles and clashes are inexorably drawing the army into political life and consequently into the sphere of revolutionary problems. Experience in the struggle enlightens more rapidly and more profoundly than years of propaganda   under other circumstances. The foreign war is over, but the government is obviously afraid of the return home of war prisoners and of the army in Manchuria. Reports of the revolutionary temper of the latter are coming in thick and fast. The proposed agricultural colonies in Siberia for officers and men of the army in Manchuria cannot but increase the unrest, even if these plans remain on paper. Mobilisation has not ceased, though peace has been concluded. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the army is needed wholly and exclusively against the revolution. Under such circumstances, we revolutionaries do not in the least object to the mobilisation; we are even prepared to welcome it. In delaying the denouement by involving ever more army units in the struggle, and in getting more and more troops used to civil war, the government is not doing away with the source of all crises, but, on the contrary, is extending the field for them. It is winning some respite at the price of the inevitable extension of the field of battle and of rendering the struggle more acute. It is stirring to action the most backward people, the most ignorant, the most cowed, and the politically inert—and the struggle will enlighten, rouse, and enliven these people. The longer the present state of civil war lasts, the more inevitably will large numbers of neutrals and a nucleus of champions of revolution be drawn from the ranks of the army of counter-revolution.

The entire course of the Russian revolution during the last few months shows that the stage now reached is not, and cannot be, the peak stage. The movement is still on the upgrade, as it has been ever since January 9. It was then that for the first time we saw a movement that amazed the world with the unanimity and solidarity of the huge masses of workers who had risen to advance political demands. This movement was still quite devoid of revolutionary consciousness, and helpless as regards arms and military preparedness. Poland and the Caucasus have provided an example of struggle on a higher plane; there the proletariat has partly begun to fight with weapons, and hostilities have assumed a protracted form. The Odessa uprising was marked by a new and important factor needed for victory—part of the forces went over to the side of the people. It is true that this did not bring immediate success; the difficult task of “co-ordinating   operations of land and sea forces” (a most difficult task even for a regular army) had not yet been accomplished. But the problem was posed, and by all tokens the Odessa events will not remain an isolated incident. The Moscow strike shows us the spread of the struggle to a “genuinely Russian” region, whose reliability had so long delighted the hearts of the reactionaries. The revolutionary action that has started in this region is of enormous significance even if only for the fact that proletarian masses here, who are receiving their baptism of fire, have been most inert and at the same time are concentrated in a relatively small area in numbers unequalled in any other part of Russia. The movement started in St. Petersburg, spread through all the marginal regions of Russia, and mobilised Riga, Poland, Odessa, and the Caucasus; the conflagration has now spread to the very heart of Russia.

The disgraceful farce of the State Duma appears all the more contemptible in comparison with this genuinely revolutionary action by a class ready for battle and truly progressive. The union of the proletariat and revolutionary democracy, which we have spoken of on more than one occasion, is becoming a fact. The radical students, who both in St. Petersburg and in Moscow adopted the slogans of revolutionary Social-Democracy, are the vanguard of all the democratic forces. Loathing the baseness of the “Constitutional Democratic” reformists who have accepted the State Duma, these forces gravitate towards a real and decisive struggle against the accursed enemy of the Russian people rather than towards a policy of bargaining with the autocracy.

Look at the liberal professors, rectors, vice-rectors, and the entire company of Trubetskois, Manuilovs, and their like. These people are the finest representatives of liberalism and the Constitutional-Democratic Party, the most enlightened, the best educated, the most disinterested, the least affected by the direct pressure and the influence of the money-bag. And how do these best people behave? What use did they make of the first authority they obtained, authority they were invested with by election, their authority over the universities? They are already afraid of the revolution, they fear the aggravation and the extension of the movement, they are already trying to extinguish the fire   and bring about tranquillity, thereby earning well-merited insults in the form of praise from the Princes Meshchersky.

And they were well punished, these philistines of bourgeois science. They closed Moscow University, fearing a shambles on its premises. They merely succeeded in precipitating incomparably greater slaughter in the streets. They wanted to extinguish revolution in the University, but they only kindled it in the streets. They got into a quandary, along with the Trepovs and the Romanovs, whom they now hasten to persuade that freedom of assembly is needed: If you shut the University—you open the way for street fighting. If you open the University—you provide a platform for revolutionary mass meetings which will train new and even more determined champions of liberty.

How infinitely instructive is the instance of these liberal professors for an appraisal of our State Duma! Is it not clear now, from the experience of the universities, that the liberals and the Constitutional-Democrats will tremble for the “fate of the Duma” just as much as these miserable knights of cheap-jack science tremble for the “fate of the universities”? Is it not now clear that the liberals and the Constitutional-Democrats cannot use the Duma in any other way save the purpose of still more extensive and still more evil-smelling preaching of peaceful and law-abiding progress? Is it not clear now how ridiculous are the hopes of transforming the Duma into a revolutionary assembly? Is it not clear that there is only one method of “influencing”—not specifically the Duma or specifically the universities but the whole of the old autocratic regime—the method of the Moscow workers, the method of insurrection by the people? It is this alone that will not merely force the Manuilovs in the universities to ask for freedom of assembly, and the Petrunkeviches in the Duma to ask for liberty for the people, but will win genuine liberty for the people.

The Moscow events have shown the real alignment of social forces: the liberals scampered from the government to the radicals, urging the latter to desist from the revolutionary struggle. The radicals fought in the ranks of the proletariat. Let us not forget this lesson: it also bears directly on the State Duma.

Let the Petrunkeviches and the other Constitutional-Democrats play at parliamentarianism in autocratic Russia—the workers will wage a revolutionary struggle for genuine sovereignty of the people.

Irrespective of how the insurrectionary outbreak in Moscow ends, the revolutionary movement will in any case emerge even stronger than before, will spread to a wider area, and gather new forces. Let us even assume that the tsarist troops are now celebrating a complete victory in Moscow—a few more such victories and the utter collapse of tsardom will become a fact. This will then be the actual, genuine collapse of the entire heritage of serf-ownership, autocracy, and obscurantism—not the flabby, craven, and hypocritical patching up of tattered rags, with which the liberal bourgeois are trying to delude themselves and others. Let us even assume that tomorrow’s post will bring us the sad news that the insurrectionary outbreak has been crushed once again. We shall then exclaim: once again—hail insurrection!


[1] Vorwärts—central organ of German Social-Democracy, was published from 1876 onwards, under the editorship of Wilhelm Liebknecht and others. In its columns Frederick Engels waged a struggle against all manifestations of opportunism. From the middle nineties, after the death of Engels, the paper began systematic publication of writings by the opportunists dominant in German Social-Democracy and the Second International.


The Latest in Iskra Tactics, or Mock Elections as a New Incentive to an Uprising

: Proletary, No. 21, October 17 (4), 19O5.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 356-373.

We have spoken many times already about the inefficacy of the Iskra tactics in the “Duma” campaign. The two main lines of this tactics—the urge to support the Osvobozhdeniye League which wants to enter the Duma on the strength of certain revolutionary pledges and the release of a slogan calling for “revolutionary self-government of citizens” and for popular elections to a constituent assembly under the autocracy—are both unsound. In the resolution of the Mensheviks’ “Southern Constituent [?] Conference” we at last have an attempt to formulate the Iskra tactics accurately and officially. At this Conference the best of the new-Iskra forces in Russia were represented. The resolution is an attempt at a business-like exposition of purely practical advice addressed to the proletariat. That is why a careful analysis of this resolution is so essential, both for the purpose of evolving a definite line of practical activity and for an appraisal of Iskra’s tactical stand as a whole.

We quote the full text of the resolution:

Resolution on the State Duma Adopted by the Constituent Conference of the Southern Organisations


we see the only way out of the present difficult conditions, compatible with the interests of the whole people, in the convocation of a constituent assembly elected on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, direct elections and a secret ballot, for the purpose of abolishing the autocratic regime, and establishing a democratic republic necessary in the first place to the proletariat in its struggle against all the foundations of the bourgeois system and for the achievement of socialism; and whereas,

1) the system of elections to the State Duma does not enable the whole people to participate in them, the proletariat being excluded from the elections by reason of the high property qualification fixed for urban dwellers, while the peasantry—a mere section of it at that— will vote on the basis of a four-stage system, which provides the authorities with every opportunity for exerting pressure on them; and whereas,

2) the whole of Russia is still deprived of all essential civil liberties, in the absence of which there can be no election campaign and, consequently, no elections conducted with any degree of fairness, and whereas, on the contrary, at the present time the authorities’ arbitrary procedure is everywhere becoming worse than ever before, and vast areas are one after the other placed under martial law; and, finally, whereas,

3) a system of representation which is even more of a travesty is being worked out for all the marginal regions; —

the Conference urges all organisations to build up a most energetic campaign of agitation to expose the entire travesty of representation by which the autocratic government proposes to deceive the people, and declares deliberate traitors to the people all those who are prepared to content themselves with the State Duma, and who will not at this decisive moment set themselves the task of supporting by their actions and tactics the revolutionary people’s demand for the convocation of a constituent assembly elected on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, direct elections and a secret ballot.

To achieve the speediest possible realisation of the said demand, the Southern Conference recommends the following tactics to the Party organisations:

1) The launching of an energetic agitation campaign among the industrial proletariat and the peasant masses for the creation of comprehensive democratic organisations and their amalgamation in an all-Russia organisation with the purpose of waging an energetic struggle against the State Duma and for the establishment of a popular constituent assembly with the immediate introduction of freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, and the right to strike. The establishment of this all-Russia people’s organisation should proceed through the formation of agitation committees elected by the workers at their respective factories, and the amalgamation agitation committees; through the creation of similar agitation committees among the peasantry; through the establishment of closer ties between the urban and rural committees; through the setting up of gubernia committees and the establishment of contact between them.

2) If this organisation proves sufficiently strong, and the working masses’ temper appropriate, the inauguration of the election campaign should be used to organise nation-wide popular elections to a constituent assembly, bearing in mind the prospect that the organised movement of the people, aimed at getting these elections held, may naturally lead to the whole people rising against tsarism, since inevitable resistance by the latter and the clash with it on the occasion   of the elections will provide the rising with new incentives, while the people’s preliminary organisation will give the rising universality and unity.

3) In addition, the Conference proposes that efforts be made to secure freedom of election meetings and recommends energetic intervention in the election campaign, intervention by the people in electors’ meetings, and public discussion of the tasks confronting representatives elected to the State Duma, these discussions to be conducted by electors at mass meetings. At the same time, the Social-Democratic Party must induce those sections of the population with the right to vote in the State Duma elections, to take to the road of revolution. This may find expression either in their joining an uprising led by the democratic organisations of the people, or, in the absence of such, in their striving to transform the incipient State Duma into a revolutionary assembly that will convoke a popular constituent assembly, or facilitate its convocation by the democratic organisations of the people.

4) Preparations should be made for exerting pressure on the State Duma along the same lines, should the mass movement fail to have brought about the overthrow of the autocracy and the establishment of a constituent assembly by the time the Duma is finally convened. Preparations should be made for an ultimatum to the State Duma demanding the convocation of a constituent assembly and the immediate introduction of freedom of speech, assembly, the press and association, and the arming of the people. Preparations should be made to back up this ultimatum with a political strike and other mass action by the people.

5) All this tactics shall be approved at general mass meetings, organised prior to and during the election campaign among the proletariat and the peasantry.

We shall not dwell on the shortcomings in the redaction of the resolution which is far too wordy. Let us deal with its fundamental mistakes.

1. The preamble speaks of the only way out of the present situation. In this connection the entire stress is placed on the idea of a constituent assembly, and not a word is said as to who is to call it, so that the “way out” should be not merely on paper, but in actual fact. Silence on this score amounts to Social-Democrats yielding to the Osvobozhdeniye gentry. As we have repeatedly pointed out, it is the interests of the monarchist-liberal bourgeoisie that oblige the Osvobozhdeniye gentry to limit themselves to the convocation of a popular constituent assembly, and pass over in silence the question of who is to call it. This, as we have repeatedly pointed out, is the very question that the developing revolution has brought into the forefront, and herein   at present lies the fundamental difference between the bourgeoisie’s opportunist (“compromise”) tactics and the proletariat’s revolutionary tactics. By their resolution the new-Iskra supporters have furnished documentary proof of their incurable blindness in fundamental questions of tactics, and of their relapsing into Osvobozhdeniye slogans.

In the succeeding sections the resolution still more confuses the question of the convocation of a popular constituent assembly. Propaganda which proclaims confidence in the State Duma on this score is downright reactionary, while to say that a constituent assembly should be convened by a “democratic organisation of the people” is much like proposing to call a constituent assembly through a committee of friends of the people living on the planet Mars. At their all-Russia Conference the new-Iskrists committed an unpardonable error in placing the convocation of a popular constituent assembly by a revolutionary government on a par with its convocation by a representative institution. The new-Iskrists have now gone even farther in reverse: they have not even mentioned a revolutionary provisional government. Why? On what grounds? In what respect have their views changed? All this remains a mystery. Instead of developing tactical directives, the Mensheviks’ conferences merely provide exhibitions of plunges and vacillations now to the right, now to the left.

2. To call “deliberate traitors to the people all those who are prepared to content themselves with the State Duma”, etc., is just such a plunge ostensibly to the left, but one that is not towards a genuinely revolutionary path, but rather towards revolutionary phrase-mongering. In the first place, what is the point of the stinging adjective “deliberate” (traitor)? Was Johann Jacoby, who entered the State Duma or the United Landtag in 1847 as a bourgeois liberal, and went over to the Social-Democrats after the war of 1870- 71, a deliberate traitor to the people? Will any peasant who goes into the Duma and is “prepared” to content himself with very, very little be a deliberate traitor? Secondly, is it reasonable to establish as criteria of treachery things like: "whoever is prepared to content himself”, “whoever does not set himself the task”, etc.? Row does one reveal one s “being prepared” and “setting oneself the task”—in word,   or in deed? If in word, then it is necessary to obtain from those C.D.s ("Constitutional-Democrats”, as the Osvobozhdeniye gentry now call themselves) who are entering the State Duma, a written promise or revolutionary pledge (Parvus, Cherevanin, Martov). In that case the resolution should express this idea clearly instead of being so vague about it. On the other hand, if being “prepared” is proved in deed, then why does the resolution not state openly and straightforwardly what “actions” It considers proof of this preparedness? The reason is because the resolution reflects the fundamental error of the new Iskra, which is unable to distinguish between revolutionary democracy and liberal-monarchist democracy. Thirdly, is it rational for a militant party to talk in general about persons (“all who”) instead of speaking concretely about trends or parties? At present it is of particular importance for us to expose to the proletariat that trend—the Party of Constitutional-Democrats—whose “actions” have already shown us what demands it supports, and how it does so. Addressing the workers in the name of Social-Democratic organisations, speaking to them about entrants into the Duma, and about Duma electors, etc., while keeping silent about the Constitutional-Democratic Party (i.e., the Osvobozhdeniye people) means either shilly-shallying and scheming (coming to terms on the sly with the Osvobozhdeniye people to support them on conditions stipulated by Parvus or Cherevanin), or unwittingly spreading corruption among the workers and giving up the struggle against the Constitutional-Democrats.

Besides the historical facts regarding the activity of Osvobozhdeniye, its adherents, the Zemstvo members, and all other Constitutional-Democrats, we have no important data for gauging the “preparedness” of democrats from among the bourgeoisie to fight together with the people. The new-Iskrists ignore these facts and dismiss the matter with meaningless phrases. Yet Plekhanov is still trying to convince us that the organisational vagueness in Iskra’s views is not supplemented by vagueness in tactics!

The Iskra supporters have in fact not only shut their eyes to the Constitutional-Democrats’ “preparedness” to commit treachery, proved by their obvious and universally noted turn to the right during the period between the July   and September Zemstvo congresses, but have even assisted these Constitutional-Democrats by fighting, against the boycott! The Iskrists are threatening hypothetical Osvobozhdeniye adherents ("all those who are prepared”, etc.) with “frightfully terrifying” words, but by their tactics they are assisting the genuine Osvobozhdeniye adherents. This is wholly in the spirit of Rodichev, one of the Constitutional- Democratic leaders, who thunders: “We will not accept liberty from hands steeped in the blood of the people !" (this statement of Rodichev’s, uttered at a private meeting and directed against William Stead, is now making the rounds of the entire foreign press)—and in the same breath demands that those very hands convoke a popular constituent assembly.

3. The next fundamental error in the resolution is the slogan for “the creation of comprehensive democratic organisations and their amalgamation in an all-Russia organisation”. The frivolity of the Social-Democrats who advance such a slogan is simply staggering. What does creating comprehensive democratic organisations mean? It can mean one of two things: either the socialists’ organisation (the R.S.D.L.P.) being submerged in the democrats’ organisation (and the new-Iskrists cannot do that deliberately, for it would be sheer betrayal of the proletariat)—or a temporary alliance between the Social-Democrats and certain sections of the bourgeois democrats. If the new-Iskrists want to advocate such an alliance, why do they not say so frankly and openly? Why do they hide behind the word “creation”? Why do they not specify the exact trends and groups in the bourgeois-democratic camp, with which they are urging the Social-Democrats to unite? Is this not a fresh example of impermissible vagueness of tactics, which in practice inevitably transforms the working class into an appendage to the bourgeois democracy?

The resolution’s only definition of the nature of these comprehensive democratic organisations” consists of a statement of the two aims set them: 1) a struggle against the State Duma, and 2) a struggle for a popular constituent assembly. The latter aim, as lamely formulated by Iskra, i.e., without any indication of who is to convene the popular constituent assembly, has been fully endorsed by the   Constitutional-Democrats. Does this mean that the Iskrists advocate an alliance between the Social-Democrats and the Constitutional-Democrats, but are ashamed to say so openly? The former aim is formulated with an obscurity we are accustomed to seeing only in Russian laws, which are deliberately designed to deceive the people. What is meant by a struggle against the State Duma? If we take the expression literally—assuming the authors of the resolution want to express themselves unequivocally—it means a boycott of the Duma, for to fight against an institution that does not yet exist means opposing its establishment. But we know that the Iskrists are opposed to the boycott, we see from the resolution itself that further on they no longer talk of a struggle against the State Duma, but of exerting pressure on the State Duma, of a striving to transform it into a revolutionary assembly, etc. This means that the words “struggle against the State Duma” should not be taken literally, or in their narrow sense. But in that case, how should they be taken? Perhaps, as understood by Mr. M. Kovalevsky, who reads papers criticising the State Duma? What constitutes a struggle against the State Duma? That remains a mystery. Our muddle-heads have said nothing precise on this score. Aware of the class-conscious workers’ mood, which is definitely opposed to the tactic of agreements with the Constitutional-Democrats, the tactic of supporting the Duma on certain conditions, our new-Iskrists have cravenly taken a middle course: on the one hand, they repeat the slogan “Struggle against the State Duma” which is popular among the proletariat and, on the other hand, they are depriving this slogan of any exact meaning, are throwing dust into the eyes of the people, are interpreting the struggle against the Duma in the sense of exerting pressure on the Duma, etc. And this wretched muddle is being advanced by the most influential of the new-Iskra organisations at a time the Osvobozhdeniye gentry are loudly protesting for the world to hear that they are entering the State Duma only in order to carry on a struggle and exclusively for the struggle, that they are “prepared” to make a complete break with the government!

We ask the readers: has more disgraceful vacillation in tactics ever been seen anywhere in the Social-Democratic movement? Is it possible to imagine anything more ruinous   to Social-Democracy than this advocacy of “creating comprehensive democratic organisations” together with the Osvobozhdeniye people (for the Constitutional-Democrats are in agreement with the aims of such organisations as set forth by Iskra), but without mentioning these people by name??

And Plekhanov, who has degraded himself in the eyes of all Russian revolutionary Social-Democrats by defending Iskra’s “organisational vagueness” for almost two years, will now try to assure us that this new-Iskra tactic is good!...

4. Further. It is most unwise to call an alliance of comprehensive (and amorphous) democratic organisations “an all-Russia people’s organisation” or “a democratic organisation of the people”. First of all, this is incorrect theoretically. As we know, the Economists erred by confusing party with class. Reviving old mistakes the Iskrists are now confusing the sum of democratic parties or organisations with an organisation of the people. That is empty, false, and harmful phrase-mongering. It is empty because it has no specific meaning whatever, owing to the absence of any reference to definite democratic parties or trends. It is false because in a capitalist society even the proletariat, the most advanced class, is not in a position to create a party embracing the entire class—and as for the whole people creating such a party, that is entirely out of the question. It is harmful be cause it clutters up the mind with bombastic words and does nothing to further the real work of explaining the actual significance of actual democratic parties, their class basis, the degree of their closeness to the proletariat, etc. The present, the period of a democratic revolution, bourgeois in its social and economic content, is a time when bourgeois democrats, all Constitutional-Democrats, etc., right down to the Socialist-Revolutionaries, are revealing a particular inclination to advocate “comprehensive democratic organisations” and in general to encourage, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, non-partisanship, i.e., an absence of any strict division between the democrats. Class-conscious representatives of the proletariat must fight this tendency resolutely and ruthlessly, for it is profoundly bourgeois in essence. We must bring exact party distinctions into the fore ground, expose all confusion, show up the falsity of phrases about allegedly united, broad, solid democratism, phrases   our liberal newspapers are teeming with. In proposing an alliance with certain sections of the democrats for the achievement of definite tasks, we should single out only revolutionary democrats—particularly at a time like this; we should indicate what most clearly distinguishes those “prepared” to fight (right now, in the ranks of the revolutionary army) from those who are “prepared” to bargain with the autocracy.

To bring home their mistake to the Iskrists, let us take a very simple example. Our programme speaks of peasant committees. The resolution of the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. defines their role more precisely by calling them revolutionary peasant committees (in this respect the new Iskra Conference agreed, in essence, with the Third Congress). We have set them the task of bringing about democratic reforms in general and agrarian reforms in particular, going as far as the confiscation of the landed estates by revolutionary action. The Iskra resolution now recommends a new kind of “agitation committees among the peasantry”. Such advice is worthy not of socialist workers but of liberal bourgeois. Had they been formed, such “peasant committees of agitation” would play right into the hands of the Osvobozhdeniye gentry, for their revolutionary character would be supplanted by liberalism. We have already pointed out that the content of the agitation of these committees, as defined by Iskra (the struggle “against” the State Duma and for a popular constituent assembly), does not exceed the limits set by the Osvobozhdeniye programme. Is it now clear to the new-Iskrists that by supplementing the slogan of revolutionary peasant committees with one calling for “peasant committees of agitation” it is transforming Social-Democratic slogans into Osvobozhdeniye slogans?

5. Finally, we reach the main task of this “all-Russia people’s organisation”—the organisation of nation-wide popular elections to a constituent assembly. Nation-wide popular elections with the autocracy left intact! And “clashes” with the autocracy provide “new incentives for an uprising”.... Mock elections as a new incentive for an uprising is what this amounts to!

The slogan calling for “revolutionary self-government”, and the theory of the “spontaneous generation” of a   constituent assembly could not but lead to this absurdity, which is destined to become classical. To speak of nation wide popular elections under the rule of the Trepovs, i.e., before the victory of the uprising, before the actual overthrow of the tsarist government, is the height of Manilovism, and can serve only to spread incredible political corruption among the workers. Only people attuned to phrase mongering by the new Iskra can accept such slogans, which crumble to dust at the merest contact with sober criticism. One has only to reflect a little on precisely what is meant by nation-wide popular elections, if the term be taken seriously; one has only to remember that they imply freedom of agitation, keeping the entire population informed, and recognition b.y the entire population of the centre or local centres that will register the entire population, and canvass literally everyone, with no exceptions—one has only to give such things a little thought to realise that the “nation wide popular elections” proposed by Iskra would amount to a nation-wide joke or a nation-wide swindle. Not a single deputy who could claim to have been “elected by the entire people”, i.e., who has had 50,000 to 100,000 votes freely and consciously cast for him—not one such deputy can be elected anywhere in Russia “in the inauguration of the election campaign”.

The Iskra resolution advises the proletariat to stage a farce, and no reservations or excuses can change the farcical import of this resolution. We are told that elections can be carried out only “if this organisation proves sufficiently strong”, only when “preliminary organisation will give the rising universality and unity”. Our answer to this is that strength is revealed in action, not in word. Prior to the victory of an uprising it is ridiculous to talk of a force that will be able, without evoking laughter, even to proclaim “nation-wide popular elections”, let alone conduct them. No organisation, no matter how universal or united, can ensure the victory of an uprising unless 1) this organisation consists of people who are really capable of insurrection (and we have seen that the resolution advocates merely “comprehensive”, organisations, i.e., actually organisations of the Osvobozhdeniye type which would undoubtedly betray an uprising once it had started); and unless 2) there exist forces   for the victory of the uprising (and to achieve victory, the material force of a revolutionary army is needed, besides the moral force of public opinion, the people’s welfare, etc.). To put the main stress on this moral force and on high-sounding phrases about “the whole people”, while maintaining silence, in a call to arms, about the actual material force, is to reduce the revolutionary slogans of the proletariat to bourgeois-democratic phrase-mongering.

Mock elections do not constitute a “natural transition to an uprising”, but rather an artificial transition invented by a handful of intellectuals. The fabrication of such artificial transitions is absolutely similar to Nadezhdin’s old occupation—the concoction of “excitative” terrorist acts. In the same way, the new-Iskrists want to “excite” the people to insurrection artificially—an idea that is basically false. We cannot create an organisation that will really em brace the whole people; any elections we would take it into our heads to appoint under the autocracy would inevitably be a farce, and to utilise such a fabricated pretext for an uprising is just like decreeing an uprising at a moment when the people are not genuinely roused. Only people who have no faith in the proletariat’s revolutionary activity, only intellectuals who are fond of using fancy words, could start inventing “new incentives for an uprising”, in September 1905. One might think that we in Russia lack genuine incentives for an uprising and need farcical ones, that there are so few cases of genuine unrest among the masses that such a sentiment has to be staged or faked! Mock elections will never rouse the masses. However, a strike, a demonstration, mutiny in the armed forces, a serious students’ outbreak, famine, mobilisation, or a conflict in the State Duma, etc., etc., etc., can really rouse the masses, constantly, at any hour. Not only is it the crassest stupidity to think of concocting “new incentives for an uprising”, but the very thought of indicating in advance that this and no other will be the real incentive for the masses would be foolish. People who have the slightest degree of self-respect, who are in the least earnest in what they say, would never allow themselves to concoct “new incentives for an uprising”.

What is lacking is not “new incentives”, my most esteemed Manliovs, but a military force, the military force of   the revolutionary people (and not the people in general), consisting of 1) the armed proletariat and peasantry, 2) organised advance detachments of representatives of these classes, and 3) sections of the army that are prepared to come over to the side of the people. It is all this taken together that constitutes a revolutionary army. To talk of an uprising, of its force, of a natural transition to it, and to say nothing of a revolutionary army is folly and muddle headedness—and the greater the degree of the counter revolutionary army’s mobilisation, the more that is so. To invent “new incentives for an uprising” at a time of uprisings in the Caucasus and on the Black Sea, in Poland and Riga means deliberately withdrawing into one’s shell and isolating oneself from the movement. We are witnesses of the greatest unrest among the workers and peasants, of a series of insurrectionary outbreaks which have been steadily and with enormous speed spreading and becoming more forceful and more stubborn ever since January 9. No one can guarantee that these outbreaks will not repeat themselves tomorrow in any big city, or any military camp, or any village. On the contrary, everything goes to show that such outbreaks are probable, imminent, and inevitable. Their success depends, first of all, on the success of revolutionary agitation and organisation—revolutionary and not the “comprehensively democratic” agitation and organisation that Iskra prattles of, since among democrats there are many non-revolutionaries. In the second place, success depends on the might and preparedness of the revolutionary army. The first condition has long been acknowledged by all, and is being applied throughout Russia by all revolutionaries, at literally all meetings of study circles, group gatherings, impromptu and mass meetings. The second condition is as yet very little recognised. By reason of its class stand, the liberal bourgeoisie does not care to recognise it, and cannot afford to do so. As for the revolutionaries, only those who are hopelessly plodding along in the wake of the monarchist bourgeoisie are silent about it.

"Insurrection” is an important word. A call to insurrection is an extremely serious call. The more complex the social system, the better the organisation of state power, and the more perfected the military machine, the more   impermissible is it to launch such a slogan without due thought. And we have stated repeatedly that the revolutionary Social-Democrats have long been preparing to launch it, but have launched it as a direct call only when there could be no doubt whatever of the gravity, widespread and deep roots of the revolutionary movement, no doubt of matters having literally come to a head. Important words must be used with circumspection. Enormous difficulties have to be faced in translating them into important deeds. It is precisely for that reason that it would be unpardonable to dismiss these difficulties with a mere phrase, to use Manilovist inventions to brush aside serious tasks or to put on one’s eyes the blinkers of sweet dreams of so-called “natural transitions” to these difficult tasks.

A revolutionary army are also important words. The creation of a revolutionary army is an arduous, complex, and lengthy process. But when we see that it has already begun and is proceeding on all sides—though desultorily and by fits and starts—when we know that a genuine victory of the revolution is impossible without such an army, we must issue a definite and direct slogan, advocate it, make it the touchstone of the current political tasks. It would be a mistake to think that the revolutionary classes are invariably strong enough to effect a revolution whenever such a revolution has fully matured by virtue of the conditions of social and economic development. No, human society is not constituted so rationally or so “conveniently” for progressive elements. A revolution may be ripe, and yet the forces of its creators may prove insufficient to carry it out, in which case society decays, and this process of decay sometimes drags on for very many years. There is no doubt that Russia is ripe for a democratic revolution, but it still remains to be seen whether the revolutionary classes have sufficient strength at present to carry it out. This will be settled by the struggle, whose crucial moment is approaching at tremendous speed—if the numerous direct and indirect indications do not deceive us. The moral preponderance is indubitable—the moral force is already overwhelmingly great; without it, of course, there could be no question of any revolution whatever. It is a necessary condition, but it is not sufficient. Only the outcome   of the struggle will show whether it will be translated into a material force sufficient to smash the very serious (we shall not close our eyes to this) resistance of the autocracy. The slogan of insurrection is a slogan for deciding the issue by material force, which in present-day European civilisation can only be military force. This slogan should not be put forward until the general prerequisites for revolution have matured, until the masses have definitely shown that they have been roused and are ready to act, until the external circumstances have led to an open crisis. But once such a slogan has been issued, it would be an arrant disgrace to retreat from it, back to moral force again, to one of the conditions that prepare the ground for an uprising, to a “possible transition”, etc., etc. No, once the die is cast, all subterfuges must be done with; it must be explained directly and openly to the masses what the practical conditions for a successful revolution are at the present time.

We have by no means exhausted the list of mistakes in the Iskra resolution, which—to people who think and who do not confine themselves to “clutching at opportunities — will long remain a sad memento of a vulgarisation of Social-Democracy’s tasks. It seems to us more important to investigate the underlying source of the errors rather than to enumerate all, including even the comparatively petty manifestations of the basic fallacy. We shall therefore only note, in passing, the absurdity and reactionary nature of the idea of presenting “ultimatums” (a military term, which in the absence of a trained military force, sounds like vulgar bragging) to the Duma, of the endeavour to transform this Duma into a revolutionary assembly,[1] and will   pass on to the general meaning of the slogan: “revolutionary self-government of the people”.

This slogan or rather its conversion into the focal slogan is at the root of all Iskra’s shilly-shallying. Iskra has attempted to defend it by referring to “dialectics”—the very same Plekhanov dialectics, by virtue of which Iskra’s “organisational vagueness” was first defended by Plekhanov, and then exposed by him!

Revolutionary self-government of the people, we have said, is not a prologue to an uprising, nor is it a “natural transition to it”, it is its epilogue. There can be no serious talk of genuine and complete self-government unless the uprising is victorious. And we have added that the very idea of placing the main emphasis on state administration rather than on state organisation is reactionary, that to identify revolutionary self-government with a revolutionary army is the height of absurdity, that a victorious revolutionary army necessarily presupposes a revolutionary self-government, whereas a revolutionary self-government does not necessarily include a revolutionary army.

Iskra tried to defend the confusion in its deliberately chosen slogans by referring to the “dialectics” of the unconscious and spontaneous process. Life, it says, knows of no sharply defined boundaries. Labour exchanges exist even now (Sotsial-Demokrat,[3] No. 12)—here you have the elements of self-government. In a dialectical process of development, the prologue and the epilogue often inter twine, it says.

The latter consideration is quite true. Yes, the process of actual development is always tangled, with bits of the epilogue emerging before the true prologue. But does this mean that it is permissible for a leader of a class-conscious party to jumble the tasks of the struggle, to confuse the prologue with the epilogue? Can the dialectics of a jumbled and spontaneous process justify confusion in the logic of conscious Social-Democrats? Does not this imply substitution of dialectics d la Plekhanov for Marxist dialectics?

To make our idea clearer, let us take an example. Let us assume that we are discussing not a democratic but a socialist revolution. The crisis is maturing, the epoch of the dictatorship of the proletariat is approaching. At this point the opportunists make the establishment of consumers’ societies their central slogan, while the revolutionaries advance a slogan calling for the conquest of political power by the proletariat. The opportunists argue that consumers’ societies constitute a real force for the proletariat, the conquest of a real economic position, and a genuine bit of socialism; you revolutionaries do not understand dialectical development, the evolution of capitalism into socialism, the penetration of nuclei of socialism into the very heart of capitalism, the purging of capitalism by giving it a new socialist content.

Yes, the revolutionaries answer, we agree that in a way consumers’ societies do constitute a bit of socialism. In the first place, socialist society is one big consumers’ society with production for consumption organised according to plan. In the second place, socialism cannot be achieved without a powerful, many-sided working-class movement, and consumers’ societies will inevitably be one of these many sides. But that is not the point at all. While power remains in the hands of the bourgeoisie, consumers’ societies will remain a paltry fragment, ensuring no serious changes what ever, introducing no decisive alterations whatever, and some times even diverting attention from a serious struggle for revolution. No one disputes the fact that the habits acquired by the workers in consumers’ societies are very useful. But only transfer of power to the proletariat can give full scope to these habits. Then the system of consumers’ societies will have surplus value at its disposal; at present the scope of this useful institution is bound to be paltry by reason of the paltry wages. Then it will become a consumers’ union of really free workers; at present it is a union of wage-slaves, oppressed and stifled by capitalism. Thus the consumers’ societies are a fragment of socialism. The dialectical process of development really does intrude elements of the new society, elements both material and spiritual, even under capitalism. But socialists should be able to distinguish the part from the whole; they should demand the whole in their   slogan, and not a part; they must contrapose to bits of patch work, which often divert fighters from the truly revolutionary path, the basic requisites for a real revolution.

What is Iskra’s opinion, who is right in this dispute?

It is the same with the slogan calling for “revolutionary self-government” in the period of a democratic revolution. We are not against revolutionary self-government, we long ago gave it a certain modest place in our minimum programme (see the paragraph on extensive local self-government). We agree that it is a fragment of a democratic revolution, as has already been stated in No. 15 of Proletary[2] with reference to the Smolensk Municipal Council. A democratic revolution would be impossible without a powerful and many-sided democratic movement, and the movement for self- government is one of those many sides. However, the democratic revolution would likewise be impossible without, for example, revolutionary schools, which are as much an indubitable sign of tsarism’s actual disintegration as are labour exchanges, which exist despite the police ban, as the unrest among the clergy, as local self-government instituted in violation of the law, etc. Comrades of the Iskra, consider what conclusion should be drawn from all this! Is it that all these elements of disintegration should be summed up in an integral slogan of insurrection? Or that the slogan of insurrection should be mutilated by tying it down to one of the elements, namely, self-government?

"The organisation of revolutionary self-government, or, what amounts to the same, the organisation of popular forces for an uprising,” wrote the audacious Iskra (No. 109, page 2, line 1). That is just like saying that organising revolutionary schools means organising forces for an uprising, that organising unrest among the clergy means organising forces for an uprising, or that organising consumers’ societies means organising forces for a socialist revolution. No, you are poor dialecticians, comrades of the Iskra. You are unable to reason dialectically, although you are very well able to twist and squirm, like Plekhanov, when it comes to the question of the organisational and tactical vagueness of your views. You have overlooked the fact that,   given victory of the uprising, all these fragments of revolution will inevitably merge in an integral .and complete “epilogue” to the uprising, whereas if the uprising is not victorious these fragments will remain fragments, paltry, changing nothing, and satisfying only the philistines.

The moral is: 1) Both on the eve of a socialist revolution and on the eve of a democratic revolution, opportunists in the Social-Democratic movement have a bad habit of working themselves up over a single petty fragment of a big process, exalting this fragment to the status of the whole, and subordinating the whole to this fragment, thereby mutilating the whole, and thereby themselves becoming toadies to the inconsistent and cowardly reformists. 2) The dialectics of the spontaneous process, which is always and necessarily confused, does not justify confusion in logical conclusions and political slogans which are quite often (but not necessarily) confused.

P. S. This article was already in the page proofs when we received the resolutions of the Southern Constituent Conference, published abroad by Iskra. The text of the resolution on the State Duma differs somewhat from the one published in Russia, which we have reproduced above. But these differences are not essential, and do not affect our criticism in any way.


[1] If we prove strong in the impending decisive conflict with tsarism, the State Duma will inevitably turn to the left (at least its liberal section will do so—we are not speaking about its reactionary section), but to attempt to influence the State Duma seriously without destroying the rule of the tsar would be just as stupid as for Japan to present “ultimatums” to China or to attach much weight to Chinese assistance without destroying the military might of Russia. After March 18, 1848, the Prussian State Duma (the United Landtag) immediately affixed its signature to a paper providing for the convocation of a constituent assembly, but until that all “ultimatums”   of the revolutionaries, all their “endeavours” to influence the State Duma, all their threats, were hollow phrases to the Petrunkeviches, Rodichevs, Milyukovs, and their like, who sat in that State Duma.—Lenin

[2] See pp. 221-22 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] Sotsial-Demokrat (The Social-Democrat)—a Menshevik news paper published in Geneva from October 1904 till October 1905.


The Lessons of the Moscow Events

Proletary, No. 22, October 24 (11), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 376-387.

The rising tide of revolutionary enthusiasm among the Moscow proletariat, so vividly expressed in the political strike and in the street fighting, has not yet subsided. The strike continues. It has to some extent spread to St. Peters burg, where the compositors are striking in sympathy with their Moscow comrades. It is still uncertain whether the present movement will subside and await the next rise of the tide, or whether it will be of a sustained character. But certain results of the Moscow events, and very instructive ones at that, are already apparent, and it would be worth while to dwell on them.

On the whole, the movement in Moscow did not attain the pitch of a decisive battle between the revolutionary workers and the tsarist forces. It consisted only of small skirmishes at the outposts, part perhaps of a military demonstration in the civil war, but it was not one of those battles that determine the outcome of a war. Of the two suppositions we advanced a week ago, it is apparently the first that is being justified,, namely, that what we are witnessing is not the beginning of the decisive onslaught, but only a rehearsal. This rehearsal has nevertheless fully revealed all the characters in the historical drama, thus spotlighting the probable—and in part even inevitable— development of the drama itself.

The Moscow events were inaugurated by incidents which at first glance appear to have been of a purely academic character. The government conferred partial “autonomy”, or alleged autonomy, on the universities. The professorate were granted self-government, and the students were granted the right of assembly. Thus a small breach was forced in the general system of autocratic-feudal oppression. New revolutionary currents immediately swept into this breach with unexpected force. A miserable concession, a paltry reform, granted with the object of blunting the edge of the political antagonisms and of “reconciling” robbers and robbed, actually served to stimulate the struggle tremendously, and increase the number of its participants. Workers flocked to the students’ gatherings, which began to develop into popular revolutionary meetings, where the proletariat, the foremost class in the struggle for liberty, predominated. The government was outraged. The “respectable” liberals who had received professorial self-government began to scurry back and forth between the revolutionary students and the government of police rule and the knout. The liberals made use of liberty in order to betray liberty, restrain the students from extending and intensifying the struggle, and appeal for “order”—this in the face of the bashi-bazouks and Black Hundreds, the Trepovs and the Romanovs! The liberals made use of self-government so as to do the work of the butchers of the people, and to close the University, that holy sanctuary of “science” permitted by the knout-wielders, which the students defiled by allowing the “rabble” to enter it for discussion of questions “unauthorised” by the autocratic gang. The self-governing liberals betrayed the people and liberty, because they feared carnage in the University. They were punished in exemplary fashion for their contemptible cowardice. By closing the revolutionary University they opened the way to revolution in the streets. Wretched pedants that they are, they were ready to jubilate in concert with rascals like Glazov over the fact that they had managed to extinguish the conflagration in the school. But as a matter of fact they only started a conflagration in a huge industrial city. These manikins on stilts forbade the workers to go to the students, but they only drove the students to the revolutionary workers. They appraised all political matters from the standpoint of their own chicken coop, which reeks of age-old hidebound officialism. They implored the students to spare this chicken coop. The first fresh breeze—the manifestation of the free and youthful revolutionary elements—was enough for the chicken coop to be forgotten, for the breeze freshened and grew into a   blast against the tsarist autocracy, the prime source of all officialism and all the humiliations heaped upon the Russian people. And even now, when the first danger has passed and the storm has clearly subsided, the lackeys of the autocracy still quake at the mere recollection of the chasm that yawned before them during the days of bloodshed in Moscow. “It is not yet a conflagration, but that it is arson is already beyond question,” mutters Mr. Menshikov in the servile Novoye Vremya (of September 30). “It is not yet a revolution... but it is already the prologue to a revolution.” “‘It is on the move,’ I [Mr. Menshikov] argued in April. And what frightful strides ‘it’ has since made! The popular element has been stirred to its very depths....”

Yes, the Trepovs and the Romanovs, together with the treacherous liberal bourgeoisie, have got themselves into a predicament. Open the University—and you provide a platform for popular revolutionary meetings, and render invaluable service to the Social-Democrats. Close the University down—and you open the way for a street struggle. And so our knights of the knout dash to and fro, gnashing their teeth. They reopen Moscow University, pretending that they want to allow the students to maintain order them selves during street processions; they turn a blind eye to revolutionary self-government of the students, who are dividing into Social-Democrats, Socialist-Revolutionaries, etc., thus bringing about proper political representation in the student “parliament” (and, we are confident, will not confine themselves to revolutionary self-government, but will immediately and in dead earnest set about organising and equipping contingents of a revolutionary army). Together with Trepov, the liberal professors are dashing to and fro, hastening one day to persuade the students to be more moderate, and the next day to persuade the knout-wielders to be more lenient. The scurryings of both of these give us the greatest satisfaction; they show that a fine revolutionary breeze must be blowing if the political-commanders and the political turncoats are staggering about on the upper deck in such a lively manner.

But besides legitimate pride and legitimate satisfaction, true revolutionists must derive something else from the Moscow events—an understanding of the social forces operating   in the Russian revolution and just how they operate, and a clearer idea of the forms they take when they operate. Call to mind the political sequence of the Moscow events, and you will see a remarkably typical picture of the whole revolution, one that is characteristic of the class relation ships. Here is the sequence: a small breach is forced in the old order; the government tries to mend the breach with petty concessions, illusory “reforms”, etc.; instead of calming down, the struggle becomes even more acute and wide spread; the liberal bourgeoisie wavers and dashes from one thing to another, urging the revolutionists to desist from revolution, and the police to desist from reaction; headed by the proletariat, the revolutionary people arrive on the scene, and the open struggle gives rise to a new political situation; the conflict shifts to the newly won battlefield—a more elevated and broader field—a new breach is made in the enemy strongholds, and in that way the movement proceeds to an ever higher plane. A general retreat on the part of the government is taking place before our eyes, as Moskovskiye Vedomosti aptly remarked recently. A certain liberal newspaper[1] rather cleverly added: a retreat under cover of rearguard action. On October 3 (16) the St. Petersburg correspondent of the liberal Berlin Vossische Zeitung wired to his paper about his interview with Trepov’s chef de cabinet. As the police underling told the correspondent: “You cannot expect the government to follow a consistent plan of action, since every day brings with it events that could not have been foreseen. The government is obliged to manoeuvre. Force cannot crush the present movement which may last for two months or two years.

Indeed the government’s tactics have now become quite clear. They indubitably lie in manoeuvring and retreating under cover of rearguard action. Such tactics are quite correct from the standpoint of the autocracy’s interests. It would be a grievous error and a fatal illusion for revolutionists to forget that the government can still continue to retreat for a very long time to come, without losing what is most essential. The example of the abortive, unfinished semi-revolution in Germany, in 1848—an example to which we shall return in the next issue of Proletary, and which we shall never tire of recalling—shows   that even if it retreats so far as to convoke a (nominally) constituent assembly, the government will still retain sufficient strength to defeat the revolution in the final and decisive battle. That is why, in studying the Moscow events, the most recent in a long series of conflicts in our civil war, we must soberly consider the developments, prepare with the maximum of energy and persistence for a long and desperate war, and be on our guard against such allies that are already turncoat allies. When absolutely nothing decisive has as yet been won, when the enemy still has an enormous area. for further advantageous and safe retreats, when battles are becoming ever more serious—confidence in such allies, attempts to conclude agreements with them or simply to support them on certain conditions may prove not only stupid but even treacherous to the proletariat.

Indeed, was the liberal professors’ behaviour before and during the Moscow events fortuitous? Was it an exception, or is it the rule for the entire Constitutional-Democratic Party? Does this behaviour express the individual peculiarities of a given group of the liberal bourgeoisie, or does it express the fundamental interests of this entire class in general? Among socialists there can be no two opinions on these questions, but not all socialists know how to consistently pursue genuinely socialist tactics.

For a clearer understanding of the gist of the matter, let us take the liberals’ own exposition of their tactics. They avoid coming out against the Social-Democrats or even speaking directly about them in the columns of the Russian press. But here is an interesting report in the Berlin Vossische Zeitung, which undoubtedly is more outspoken in its expression of the liberals’ views:

"Extremely stormy student disturbances have reoccurred both in St. Petersburg and in Moscow since the very beginning of the academic year, although autonomy has been granted—belatedly, it is true—to the universities and other higher educational institutions. Moreover, in Moscow these disturbances are accompanied by a wide spread workers’ movement. These disturbances indicate that a new phase has begun in the Russian revolutionary movement. The course of the student meetings and their resolutions show that the students have adopted the watchword of the Social-Democratic leaders to convert the universities into popular meeting places, and thus spread   revolution among wide sections of the population. The Moscow students have already shown how this is being put into effect: they invited to the University premises such large numbers of workers and other persons who have no connection with the University that the students themselves were in a minority. It stands to reason that such a state of affairs cannot go on for long under the existing conditions. The government will close the universities rather than tolerate such meetings. This is so obvious that at first glance it appears inconceivable that the Social-Democratic leaders could have issued such a watchword. They knew perfectly well what this would lead to, but what they wanted was for the government to close the universities. For what purpose? Simply because they intend to hinder the liberal movement by all available means. They admit that they are not strong enough to effect any major political action with their own forces; therefore the liberals and radicals must not do anything either, for that would allegedly only harm the socialist proletariat. The latter must win its rights for itself. The Russian Social-Democratic Party may take great pride in these ’inflexible’ (unbeugsame) tactics, but they must appear very short-sighted to any unprejudiced observer; they will scarcely lead Russian Social-Democracy to victories. It is quite incomprehensible what it will gain by the closing of the universities, which is inevitable if the present tactics continue. On the other hand, it is of the utmost importance to all progressive parties that there should be no interruption in the work of the universities and higher schools. The protracted strikes of students and professors have already caused great damage to Russian culture. It is imperative that academic work be resumed. Autonomy has enabled the professors to conduct their classes freely. That is why the professors of all universities and higher schools are agreed that it is necessary to start tuition once more and in energetic fashion. They are exerting all their influence to persuade the students to abandon their efforts to give effect to the Social-Democratic watchword.”

Thus, the struggle between bourgeois liberalism (the Constitutional-Democrats) and the Social-Democrats has taken definite shape. Do not hinder the liberal movement! Such is the slogan so splendidly expressed in the article quoted above. What does this liberal movement amount to? It is a retrograde movement, for the professors use and desire to use the freedom of the universities not for revolutionary propaganda, but for counter-revolutionary propaganda; not to fan the conflagration, but to extinguish it; not to extend the field of battle, but to draw the masses away from decisive struggle and induce them to collaborate peacefully with the Trepovs. With the struggle becoming more acute, the “liberal” movement (as we have seen in practice) has become marked by desertion from revolution to reaction. Of course,   the liberals are, in a way, useful to us, since they introduce vacillation into the ranks of the Trepovs and other lackeys of Romanov. This good, however, will’ be outweighed by the harm they cause by bringing vacillation into our ranks, unless we make a clean break with the Constitutional-Democrats, and brand every hesitant step they take. Their knowledge, or, more frequently, their sense of their dominant position in the existing economic system has led the liberals to aspire to dominate the revolution as well. They say that each step aimed at continuing, extending and intensifying the revolution and taking it farther than the most ordinary patchwork is a “hindrance” to the liberal movement. Fearful for the fate of the so-called freedom of the universities granted by Trepov, they are today fighting against revolutionary freedom. Fearful for the legal “freedom of assembly” which the government will grant tomorrow in a police-distorted form, they will hold us back from using these assemblies for genuinely proletarian aims. Fearful for the fate of the State Duma, they already displayed wise moderation at the September Congress, and continue to display it now by combating the idea of a boycott; why, they say, you must not hinder us from getting things done in the State Duma!

It must be confessed that, to the shame of Social-Democracy, there have been opportunists in its ranks who fell for this bait by reason of their doctrinaire and lifeless distortion of Marxism! They argue that the revolution is a bourgeois one and therefore ... therefore we must retrace our steps in the measure the bourgeoisie succeeds in obtaining concessions from tsarism. To this day the new Iskrists have not seen the real significance of the State Duma, because they are themselves drawing back and therefore naturally do not notice the Constitutional-Democrats’ regression. That the Iskrists have already retraced their steps since the promulgation of the State Duma Act is an indisputable fact. Prior to the State Duma Act they never thought of placing the question of an agreement with the Constitutional-Democrats on the order of the day. After the State Duma Act they (Parvus, Cherevanin and Martov) raised this question, and not merely as a matter of theory, but in an immediately practical form. Prior to the State   Duma Act they presented quite stringent conditions to the democrats (right up to co-operation in arming .the people, etc.). After the State Duma Act they immediately reduced the conditions, confining themselves to a promise to convert the Black-Hundred or the liberal Duma into a revolutionary one. Prior to the State Duma Act the reply their official resolution gave to the question as to who should convoke the popular constituent assembly was: either, a provisional revolutionary government or a representative institution. After the State Duma Act they deleted the provisional revolutionary government, and they now say: either “democratic” (like the Constitutional-Democrats?) “organisations of the people” (?), or ... or the State Duma. We thus see in fact how the new-Iskrists are guided by their magnificent principle: the revolution is a bourgeois revolution—therefore, comrades, watch out lest the bourgeoisie recoil!

The Moscow events, which for the first time since the State Duma Act have shown the real nature of the Constitutional-Democrats’ tactics at grave political junctures, have also shown that Social-Democracy’s opportunist appendage, which we have described, is inevitably being transformed into a mere appendage to the bourgeoisie. We have just said: a Black-Hundred or a liberal State Duma. To an Iskra supporter these words would appear monstrous, for he considers distinction between a Black-Hundred State Duma and a liberal State Duma highly important. But these selfsame Moscow events have disclosed the fallaciousness of this “parliamentary” idea, which had been so inappropriately advanced in a pre-parliamentary period. The Moscow events have shown that the liberal turncoat has actually played the part of a Trepov. The closing of the University, which would have been decreed by Trepov yesterday, has been carried out today by Messrs. Manuilov and Trubetskoi. Is it not clear that the “Duma” liberals will also scurry back and forth between Trepov and Romanov, on the one hand, and the revolutionary people on the other? Is it not clear that the slightest support for liberal turncoats is something befitting only political simpletons?

Under a parliamentary system it is often necessary to support a more liberal party against a less liberal one. But during a revolutionary struggle for a parliamentary system it   is treachery to support liberal turncoats who are “reconciling” Trepov with the revolution.

The events in Moscow have revealed in practice the alignment of social forces that Proletary has spoken of so many times: the socialist proletariat and the vanguard of revolutionary bourgeois democracy have waged a struggle, while the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie has conducted negotiations. Therefore, fellow-workers, study the lessons of the Moscow events, and do so most attentively. For it is in this way, and inevitably so, that matters will take their course throughout the whole of the Russian revolution. We must rally more solidly than ever in a genuinely socialist party, which shall consciously express the interests of the working class, and not drift along in the wake of the masses. In the struggle we must place reliance only on revolutionary democrats, permit agreements with them alone, and carry out these agreements only on the field of battle against the Trepovs and Romanov. We must bend every effort to rouse, in addition to the students, who are the vanguard of revolutionary democracy, also those broad masses of the people whose movement is not only democratic in a general way (today every turncoat calls himself a democrat), but a genuinely revolutionary movement—namely, the masses of the peasantry. We must remember that the liberals and Constitutional-Democrats, who are bringing vacillation into the ranks of supporters of the autocracy, will inevitably strive in every way to bring vacillation into our ranks as well. Only an open revolutionary struggle which consigns all liberal chicken coops and all liberal Dumas to the rubbish heap will be of serious and decisive consequence. There fore, prepare for ever new battles, without losing a single moment! Arm as best you can; immediately form squads of fighters who will be prepared to battle with devoted energy against the accursed autocracy; remember that tomorrow or the following day events will certainly call you to rise in revolt, and the question now is only whether you will be able to take prepared and united action, or whether you will be caught off your guard and disunited!

The events in Moscow have once again and for the hundredth time confuted the sceptics. They have shown that we are still inclined to underestimate the revolutionary   activity of the masses. They will bring round many of those who have already begun to waver, who have begun to lose faith in the idea of an uprising after the conclusion of peace and the granting of a Duma. No, it is precisely now that the uprising is gaining ground and increasing in intensity with unparalleled rapidity. Let us all be at our posts when the imminent explosion comes, one in comparison with which both January 9 and the memorable Odessa days will seem mere child’s play.


[1] The reference is to the liberal-bourgeois newspaper Rus which came out at intervals in St. Petersburg between 1903 and 1908 under various names, such as Bus (Russia), Molva (Hearsay), and Dvadtsaty Vek (The Twentieth Century).

The All-Russia Political Strike

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

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 392-395.

Geneva, October 26 (13)

The barometer indicates a storm—that is what is stated in today’s foreign newspapers, which carry telegraphic dispatches on the mighty growth of the all-Russia political strike.

Nor is it only the barometer that indicates a storm: everything has been dislodged by the mighty whirlwind of a concerted proletarian onslaught. The revolution is progressing at astonishing speed, unfolding an amazing wealth of events, and if we wanted to give our reader a detailed account of the last three or four days, we should have to write a whole book. However, we shall leave it to future generations to write detailed history. We are witnesses of thrilling scenes of one of the greatest of civil wars, wars for liberty, mankind has ever experienced, and we must live at higher tempo so as to devote all our energies to this war.

The storm has burst—and how insignificant do the liberal and democratic speeches, suppositions, conjectures and plans about the Duma seem now. How out-of-date have all our disputes about the Duma already become—in the space of a few days, a few hours! Some of us doubted whether the revolutionary proletariat was sufficiently strong to frustrate the infamous farce staged by police ministers; some of us were afraid to speak with all boldness about boycotting the elections. But, as it turns out, elections have not yet started everywhere, and already a mere wave of the hand has been enough to rock the whole house of cards. A mere wave of the hand has forced not only the liberals and   the craven Osvobozhdeniye gentry, but even Mr. Witte, head of the new “liberal” tsarist government, to talk (true, so far only to talk) of reforms that would undermine all the artful devices of the entire Bulygin farce.

This hand, whose wave brought such an upheaval in the Duma question, is that of the Russian proletariat. A German socialist song runs as follows: “All the wheels stand still if your mighty arm so will.” This mighty arm has now been raised. Our indications and predictions on the political mass strike’s enormous importance to the armed uprising have been strikingly borne out. The all-Russia political strike has this time really involved the whole country, uniting all the peoples of the accursed Russian “Empire” in the heroic rising of a class that is the most oppressed and the most advanced. Proletarians of all nations of this empire of oppression and violence are now mustering in a great army— an army of liberty and an army of socialism. Moscow and St. Petersburg share the honour of having taken revolutionary proletarian initiative. Both capitals have gone on strike. Finland is striking. Headed by Riga, the Baltic provinces have joined the movement. Heroic Poland has again joined the ranks of the strikers, as if in mockery of the impotent rage of her enemies, who imagined that they could crush her with their blows and have, instead, only welded her revolutionary forces more closely together. The Crimea is rising (Simferopol), and also the South. In Ekaterinoslav barricades are being erected, and blood is being shed. The Volga region (Saratov, Simbirsk, Nizhni-Novgorod) is on strike, and the strike is spreading both to the central agricultural provinces (Voronezh) and to the industrial Centre (Yaroslavl).

A modest delegation of the Railwaymen’s Union has taken the lead of this army of workers, many million strong and speaking many languages. On a stage where political comedies were played by the liberals, with their highflown and cowardly speeches to the tsar, and with their smirking and scraping to Witte—on this stage a worker suddenly makes an appearance and presents his ultimatum to Mr. Witte, the new head of the new “liberal” tsarist government. The railway workers’ delegation refused to await that “board of burghers”, the State Duma. The workers’ delegation did not even care to waste valuable time on   "criticism” of this Punch-and-Judy show. The workers’ delegation first prepared criticism by deeds—the political strike—and then declared to the buffoon of a minister: "There can be only one solution—the convocation of a constituent assembly, elected on the basis of universal and direct suffrage.”

The buffoon-minister spoke, to use the apt expression of the railway workers themselves, “like a real hidebound bureaucrat, hedging as usual, and not committing himself to anything definite”. He promised decrees on freedom of the press, but rejected universal suffrage; according to foreign press reports, he declared a constituent assembly “impossible at present”.

The workers’ delegation called a general strike. After leaving the Minister the workers’ delegation went to the University, where political meetings attended by some ten thousand people were taking place. The proletariat made good use of the platform placed at its disposal by the revolutionary students. At the first systematic and free political mass meetings held in Russia, in all cities, at schools and factories, and in the streets, the answer given by the buffoon-minister was discussed, and speeches centred around the task of waging a resolute armed struggle, which would make the convocation of a constituent assembly both “possible” and necessary. The foreign bourgeois press, including even the most liberal newspapers, is horrified by the “terroristic and seditious” slogans proclaimed by speakers at the free popular meetings, as though the tsar’s government, by all its policy of oppression, had not itself made insurrection imperative and inevitable.

The uprising is drawing near, is evolving from the all-Russia political strike before our very eyes. The appointment of a buffoon-minister, who assures the workers that a popular constituent assembly is impossible “at present” clearly shows the growth of the revolutionary forces, and the decline of the forces of the tsar’s government. The autocracy is no longer strong enough to come out against the revolution openly. The revolution is not yet strong enough to deal the enemy a decisive blow. This fluctuation of almost evenly balanced forces inevitably engenders confusion among the authorities, makes for transitions from repression to   concession, to laws providing for freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.

Forward, then, to a new, still more widespread and persistent struggle—the enemy must not be given a chance to pull himself together! The proletariat has already performed wonders for the victory of the revolution. The all-Russia political strike has brought this victory tremendously closer, causing the enemy to toss about on his death-bed. However, we are very far indeed from having done everything that we can and must do for final victory. The struggle is approaching, but has not yet reached its real climax. At this very moment the working class is rising, mobilising and arming, on a scale hitherto unparalleled. And it will finally sweep away the abhorrent autocracy, send all the buffoons of ministers packing, set up its own provisional revolutionary government, and show all the peoples of Russia how “possible” and necessary it is, just “at present”, to convoke a truly popular and truly constituent assembly.


The First Results of the Political Alignment

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

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 396-404.

The account of the Conference of Social-Democratic Parties and Organisations in Russia published in our previous issue affords an opportunity of drawing certain conclusions, at least preliminary, regarding the present-day political alignment. The Conference of Social-Democratic Parties and Organisations (the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, the Bund, the Lettish Social-Democratic Labour Party, the Polish Social-Democratic Party, and the revolutionary Ukrainian Party) unanimously accepted the tactic of an active boycott of the State Duma. The necessity for increased agitation against the State Duma in the direct sense of that word, the necessity to agitate against all parties favouring participation in the State Duma, and, finally, the imperativeness of preparing for armed uprising have now, it may be said without exaggeration, been recognised by the entire revolutionary Social-Democratic movement, irrespective of national distinctions. The principles underlying the tactics adopted by the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. and advocated by us in Proletary, beginning with No. 12 of our paper, i.e., for the last two and a half months, now underlie the tactics of practically the entire Social-Democratic movement in Russia, with one lamentable exception.

This exception, as the reader knows, is the Iskra and the “Minority”, which has seceded from the R.S.D.L.P. The “Organising Committee”—its practical centre—was represented at the Conference. We do not know how its delegate voted, but it is a fact that the Organising Committee refused to endorse the Conference’s resolution. This was to   be expected after the Southern “Constituent” Conference of new-Iskrists adopted its extremely unwise and fundamentally opportunist resolution on the State Duma, which we analysed in detail in Proletary, No. 21.[1]

In this way, the political alignment is quite clear. The question of the attitude towards the State Duma has occasioned what is probably the first joint discussion of political tactics by the opposition and the revolutionary parties, by the legal and the illegal press. This is a giant stride forward in comparison with the previous period in the movement. Formerly, a gulf separated the opposition from the revolutionaries, legal work from illegal work. The movement has made such tremendous progress during the last ten months or so that the gulf has in considerable measure been removed. The revolutionary struggle has carried the “legal” opposition on to the crest of the wave, almost to recognising that a revolution is on. Hitherto, strictly speaking, we could not even discuss tactics or the behaviour of political parties with representatives of the legal opposition, for in fact there were no parties except the revolutionary and illegal, and “political activities” coincided fully with those of “political offenders”, if one disregards the “activities” of the autocracy and its henchmen. Now, the State Duma has naturally and inevitably become a subject of discussion for the mass of the people—for people of all shades of opinion, all tendencies and parties. The revolutionary struggle has cleared the road for revolutionary discussion in the legal press, at Zemstvo meetings, student assemblies, and workers’ mass meetings.

Practically the first to start the discussion on the attitude to the State Duma were the Zemstvos and the radical intelligentsia, who are most directly concerned with the sop thrown by the tsar, and who were best informed of it—even prior to the publication of the Manifesto of August 6. The discussion then spread to the whole political press in Russia, both the free (i.e., illegal) press which gave frank and full expression to all its arguments and slogans, and to the legal press, which wrote in Aesopian language for a boycott, and openly against it.

The political alignment, that precursor of a demarcation between the political parties and classes of all the peoples of Russia, began to take shape on the boycott issue. Should the Duma be entered, or not? Should the Duma be nipped in the bud, or accepted? Should the struggle be waged within the Duma, on the basis of the Duma, or outside the Duma, apart from the Duma, against the Duma? That was the inescapable issue both for the privileged handful of the electorate and for the masses, “who had no rights”. Today we have on this issue, which was of course tackled from a thousand various points of view and with thousands of variations and “dissenting opinions”, the returns supplied by a “canvass” of public opinion as presented by the entire press and by the aggregate of the declarations made by all the various political organisations, political meetings, assemblies, etc.

These returns are as follows:

Views on the Duma fall into three clearly defined main categories, which fully correspond to the three main and basic social forces involved in the present revolution: the views of the Black Hundreds (the autocracy), of the liberals (the bourgeoisie), and of the revolutionaries (the proletariat). The Black Hundreds seized on the Duma as the best means, most likely the only possible or even conceivable means, of saving the autocracy. The liberals criticised the Duma adversely, but accepted it, being irresistibly drawn to lawful paths and to compromise with the tsar. Headed by the proletariat, the revolutionary people, denounced the Duma, proclaimed an active boycott of it, and by their deeds have already shown that they are striving to convert this active boycott into an armed uprising.

It would be worth our while to dwell on these three main categories in somewhat greater detail.

As regards the Black Hundreds, it might have been expected (and this expectation was expressed by people inclined to take the Duma in all earnest, even, if we are not mistaken, the Iskra group) that the supporters of the autocracy would directly or indirectly sympathise with a boycott, or absenteeism, as our servile press frequently puts it. These people might have been expected to say in effect: Let them boycott the Duma; so much the better for us, for in that case the Duma will be composed more completely of   Black-Hundred elements. Since there are conservative organs in Russia capable of denouncing tsarist ministers for excessive liberalism, and voicing discontent with “an excessively weak” government, such a view could easily be expressed just as clearly as many views held by constitutionalists, or even more clearly. But it was here that a mistake made itself felt, a mistake made by people who took the Duma seriously, and began to talk of a struggle on the basis of the Duma, of supporting a struggle in the Duma, etc. It could be seen immediately that the autocracy was terribly in need of a legal Duma opposition, that it was terribly afraid of a boycott. Why? The answer is very simple: because it had become absolutely clear that it was utterly impossible to govern the country without coming to terms with at least a section of the bourgeoisie as a class. It was impossible to govern the country, to obtain money, or to continue existing without coming to terms with the Right wing of the bourgeoisie. Irrespective of our autocracy’s Asiatic savagery, and the many features of antediluvian barbarism it has retained in such an unusually pure form throughout the centuries, the autocratic government is nevertheless the government of a capitalist country, linked with Europe, with international markets and international capital by thousands of inseverable ties. The dependence of the autocracy on the bourgeoisie of All Russia is a supreme material dependence, which may be concealed behind hundreds of medieval annexes, or weakened by millions of bribes doled out to individuals or groups by the Court (titles, sinecures, concessions, sops, favours, etc., etc., etc.), but at every crisis in the people’s life it must manifest itself with decisive force.

It is not a matter of mere chance that we now see Mr. Witte currying favour with the liberals, delivering liberal speeches, which are reported in the legal press, conducting “informal negotiations with Mr. Gessen”, the leader of the Constitutional-Democrats (the cable from the St. Petersburg correspondent of The Times), or that we see the foreign press teeming with news about the tsar’s liberal plans. Of course, there is no end of lies and intrigues in all this, but then the tsarist government, and for that matter any bourgeois government, cannot make a single step in its policies   without resorting to lies and intrigues. Of course, there is a great deal of the most shabby chicanery, occasioned by the arrival in St. Petersburg of representatives of French and German bankers to negotiate a new loan of 500,000,000 rubles of which the tsarist government stands in dire need. But then the entire system of governmental dependence on the bourgeoisie inevitably engenders cases of chicanery in connection with all the various deals and trickery accompanying this dependence.

It is imperative for the autocracy to “make peace” with the bourgeoisie, and it is obliged to exert itself to this end; naturally, in this connection it wants to dupe public opinion in Europe and Russia. And the State Duma is a splendid means for achieving this end. A legal bourgeois opposition in the Duma is just the facade for a state system recognised by the bourgeoisie, a fa&ctail;ade that might help the autocracy to extricate itself from its predicament.

This explains why Moskovskiye Vedomosti, that organ of conservative opposition to the government, speaks of the Duma boycott not with malicious joy or derision, but with a gnashing of teeth and the rage of despair. This explains why Novoye Vremya, organ of the Black Hundreds, attacks the “absentees” and tries to enlist even Bebel for the struggle against the idea of a boycott (Proletary, No. 20[2] ). The Black Hundreds are afraid of a boycott, and only the blind or those out to justify the liberals can now deny that the boycott would be fully successful if it were endorsed by the leading figures of the Zemstvo and municipal congresses.

But the gist of the matter is that the liberal bourgeoisie’s fundamental interests as a class incline it towards the monarchy, a two-chamber system, law and order, and moderation, towards a struggle against the “horrors” of an “uninterrupted revolution”, the “horrors” of a revolution after the French model.... The turn taken by the liberal bourgeoisie, the Osvobozhdeniye adherents and the Constitutional-Democrats away from radical phrases about a boycott towards a deter mined war against it, is the first major political step by the Russian bourgeoisie as a class, a step which reveals its treacherous nature, its “criminal intent”—to perpetrate   treachery against the revolution. This is no mere intent (for which alone no law can hold one accountable, as some smart lawyer among the Osvobozhdeniye gentry would probably object), but an actual attempt to commit this crime, and even a consummation of the crime. We are living at a very rapid pace now. The times have long gone when it was necessary for us to rouse the bourgeoisie to political awareness in general (though such times are quite recent according to ordinary chronology, which is inapplicable to revolution). Gone, even, are the times when it was necessary for us to help the bourgeoisie to organise itself into a political opposition. They are now awakened, have organised themselves, and an entirely different task stands on the order of the day, a great task which only the tremendous strides of the revolution have made real and possible—that of reaching an agreement with the tsar (the task of capital) and that of neutralising treacherous capital (the task of labour).

It is this task that the revolutionary proletariat, which is marching at t.he head of the revolutionary people, has assumed, while remaining true to its duty of awakening, encouraging and rousing its “mates” in the struggle against medievalism and serfdom, and at the same time passing on from less revolutionary to more revolutionary “mates”. It is not the Duma that has been “taken in earnest” by the revolutionary proletariat under the guidance of Social- Democracy, but those words, promises and slogans about a Duma boycott which popped out of the mouths of the radical windbags of the bourgeoisie by reason of their levity, extreme youthfulness and exuberance. The proletariat has translated boycott talk into reality; it has done so by openly and unequivocally raising the standard of armed uprising; it has done so by inaugurating not only the broadest possible agitation, but open street fighting as well (in Moscow); it has done so by fraternising with the radical youth, the vanguard of the masses, the peasant masses in particular, whose class characteristics have not yet fully taken shape, but which are infinitely oppressed and exploited. Without entering into any agreements or concluding any pacts, the socialist proletariat has united with the awakened sections of revolutionary bourgeois democracy, for the accomplishment of a practical militant task. During the great Moscow   events (great as a portent, not in themselves), the proletariat and the revolutionary democrats did the fighting, while the liberals, the Osvobozhdeniye people and the Constitutional-Democrats conducted negotiations with the autocracy.

The political alignment has become quite clear: for the Duma, to preserve the autocracy; for the Duma, to limit the autocracy; against the Duma, to destroy the autocracy. In other words: for the Duma, to suppress the revolution; for the Duma, to halt the revolution; against the Duma, to bring the revolution to a victorious conclusion.

There was an exception—a sad and regrettable exception—which marred the distinctness of the class alignment (thereby, like all exceptions proving the general rule). This was the opportunist wing of the Social-Democratic movement, as represented by the new Iskra. However, this exception too—the narrow sphere of illegal organisations abroad—stemmed from a very important and very instructive logical development, which we predicted. The Conference which we mentioned above united the revolutionary Social-Democrats. Iskra remained united—not by virtue of an agreement, but by virtue of the course of events— with Osvobozhdeniye. In the illegal press, the revolutionary Social-Democrats and the extreme Left wing of the revolutionary bourgeois democrats came out for an active boycott. It was the opportunist Social-Democrats and the extreme Right wing of the bourgeois democrats who declared against the boycott.

Thus we have confirmation of what was shown in the analysis of the most important of the new-Iskra resolutions on tactics (see Lenin’s Two Tactics),[3] namely, that Iskra is descending to the level of the liberal landlords, whereas Proletary is raising the masses of the peasants to its own level; Iskra is descending to the liberal bourgeoisie, whereas Proletary is raising the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie.

Anyone familiar with Social-Democratic literature knows the catch phrase long ago launched by Iskra—the Bolsheviks and Proletary have veered towards the Socialist-Revolutionaries,   towards the extreme bourgeois democrats. There is a grain of truth in this, as there is in all catch phrases. It does not express mere chagrin on the part of the Iskrists; it reflects an actual phenomenon, but does so as a concave mirror would reflect an object. This actual phenomenon is the fact that the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks represent respectively the opportunist and the revolutionary wings of the Russian Social-Democratic movement. Since the Iskrists turned to opportunism, they were bound to arrive at the conclusion that the Bolsheviks are “Jacobins” (to use a term of eighteenth-century political divisions). These accusations merely confirm our view on the Right and Left wings of the present-day Social-Democratic movement. These accusations by the opportunists are just as flattering to us as was the accusation hurled at us by Rabochaya Mysl in 1900 to the effect that we were following in the footsteps of Narodnaya Volya. The actual way in which political tendencies throughout Russia are grouped politically on a major question of tactics has proved in practice the correctness of our appraisal of Iskra’s stand ever since the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

The alignment of illegal parties effected at the Conference of all Social-Democrats thus naturally supplements the alignment of all parties on the Duma question. If the Iskrists have proved a regrettable exception, the fact that they are only an exception gives us new faith in the validity of the rule, in the victory of revolutionary Social-Democracy, in the realisation of the consistent slogans of the Russian revolution. Although the liberals’ banality and the vulgarisation of Marxism by some Marxists may at moments of gloom seem an omen that our revolution too will turn out to be a banal, abortive, and incomplete revolution like the German Revolution of 1848, nevertheless the vitality of the principles of revolutionary Social-Democracy inspires us with a stimulating faith, and the actions of the heroic working class uphold that faith. The revolution draws a splendid line of division between political tendencies, serves as a splendid reductio ad absurdum of erroneous opinions. So far the revolution in Russia has been progressing in such a way as to justify the hopes for its complete victory inspired by the present situation at home and abroad. And the   sight of the autocracy’s consternation and the liberals’ confusion, the sight of the bold revolutionary energy of the proletariat, which is taking the peasantry in tow, lead us to believe that “our train will go as the German never did”[4]


[1] See pp. 356-73 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] See p. 321 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] See p. 47 of this volume.—Ed.

[4] Lenin is quoting from the poem by N. Dobrolyubov In a Prussian Railway Carriage, signed “Konrad Lilienschwager” and published in 1862 in No. 8 of Svistok (The Whistle), a supplement to Sovremennik (The Contemporary) magazine.

The Aggravation of the Situation in Russia

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

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 411-412.

It is under this headline that the Berlin liberal Vossische Zeitung has published the following interesting dispatch:

"It is with irresistible force that events are developing in the empire of the tsars. To every impartial observer it must be obvious that neither the government nor any of the opposition or revolutionary parties is in control of the situation. The late Prince Trubetskoi and other professors of the higher educational institutions made vain attempts to dissuade the Russian students from the dangerous path, which they had taken when they decided to convert the universities into places of political mass meetings. The students paid enthusiastic homage to the memory of Trubetskoi, marched in masses in the funeral procession, and turned the obsequies into an imposing political demonstration, but they did not follow his advice to keep outsiders out of the University. At the University of St. Petersburg, the Mining Academy and the Polytechnic mammoth meetings are being held, at which the students are often in the minority, and which last from early morning till late at night. Impassioned and fiery orations are delivered and revolutionary songs are sung. Moreover, the liberals are roundly berated at these meetings, especially for their half-heartedness, which, it is claimed, is no accidental attribute of Russian liberalism, but a quality that has been conditioned by eternal historical laws.

"There is something profoundly tragic in these reproaches, which, despite the historical references adduced to substantiate them, are in fact absolutely unhistorical, if only because the liberals in Russia have never had the slightest opportunity of displaying any half heartedness that could in any way prejudice the cause of emancipation which is so important for all parties. It is not their deeds, but rather their sufferings that handicap the liberals in their life course. The government is just as helpless [italics in the original] in the face of these events as it is in the face of the labour troubles and the general unrest. It is possible, of course, that it is planning a new blood-bath, and is only waiting for the moment when the movement becomes ripe for a Cossack attack. But even if that should be the case, none of the powers that be is certain that it will not lead to a still more violent outbreak of disaffection. Not even General Trepov has faith in his own cause. He does not conceal from his friends that he considers   himself a doomed man, and that he expects no favourable results whatever from his administration. ’I am merely fulfilling my duty, and shall fulfil it to the end,’ he says.

"The tsar’s throne must he in a sad way indeed if the head of the police arrives at such conclusions. And indeed it cannot hut be recognised that, despite all of Trepov’s efforts, despite the feverish activity of endless commissions and conferences, the tension has not only failed to relax since last year, but has even become much more accentuated. Wherever one looks, the position everywhere has become worse and more threatening, everywhere the situation has become noticeably aggravated ."

There is a great deal of truth in this appraisal, but at the same time a great deal of liberal stupidity. “The liberals could not display a half-heartedness prejudicial to the cause.” Is that so? Why is it then that these poor liberals could nevertheless come forward more openly and freely than the other parties? No! The students are guided by a sound revolutionary instinct, enhanced by their contact with the proletariat, when they zealously disassociate themselves from the Constitutional-Democrats, and discredit these Constitutional-Democrats in the eyes of the people. The morrow will bring us great and epoch-making battles for liberty. It is possible that the champions of liberty will yet suffer more than one defeat. But defeats will only serve to stir up the workers and peasants ever more profoundly, will only render the crisis more acute, and will only make more formidable the inevitable ultimate victory of the cause of liberty. For our part, we shall bend every effort to prevent the bourgeois leeches of monarchist landlord liberalism from attaching themselves to this victory, and to prevent the gentlemen of the big bourgeoisie from deriving the main benefit from this victory, as has happened more than once in Europe. We shall bend all our efforts to bring this victory of the workers and peasants to its consummation, to bring about the utter destruction of all the loathsome institutions of autocracy, monarchy, bureaucracy, militarism and serf-ownership. Only such a victory will put a real weapon into the hands of the proletariat—and then we shall set Europe ablaze, so as to make of the Russian democratic revolution the prologue to a European socialist revolution.


An Equilibrium of Forces[1]

Written on October 17 (30), 1905

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 414-415.

1) The result to date (Monday, October 30 [17]) is an equilibrium of forces, as we already pointed out in Proletary, No. 23.

2) Tsarism is no longer strong enough, the revolution not yet strong enough, to win.

3) Hence the tremendous amount of vacillation. The terrific and enormous increase of revolutionary happenings (strikes, meetings, barricades, committees of public safety, complete paralysis of the government, etc.), on the other hand, the absence of resolute repressive measures. The troops are wavering.

4) The tsar’s Court is wavering (The Times and the Daily Telegraph) between dictatorship and a constitution.

The Court is wavering and biding its time. Strictly speaking, these are its correct tactics: the equilibrium of forces compels it to bide its time, for power is in its hands.

The revolution has reached a stage at which it is disadvantageous for the counter-revolution to attack, to assume the offensive.

For us, for the proletariat, for consistent revolutionary democrats, this is not enough. If we do not rise to a higher level, if we do not manage to launch an independent offensive, if we do not smash the forces of tsarism, do not destroy its actual power, then the revolution will stop half way, then the bourgeoisie will fool the workers.

5) Rumour has it that a constitution has been decided upon. If that is so, then it follows that the tsar is heeding the lessons of 1848 and other revolutions: he wants to grant a constitution without a constituent assembly, before a constituent assembly, apart from a constituent assembly.   What kind of constitution? At best (for ’the tsar)=a Constitutional-Democratic constitution.

This implies: achievement of the Constitutional-Democrats’ ideal, skipping the revolution; deceiving the people, for all the same there will be no complete and actual freedom of elections.

Should not the revolution skip this granted constitution?


[1] An Equilibrium of Forces was completed several hours before the telegraph brought the news to Geneva that the tsar’s Manifesto of   October 17 (30) has been made public. The questions touched upon in An Equilibrium of Forces were developed in detail in the article “The Denouement Is at Hand” (see pp. 447-54 of this volume).


Tasks of Revolutionary Army Contingents

Written in late October 1905
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 420-424.

1. Independent military action.

2. Leadership of the mass.

The contingents may be of any strength, beginning with two or three people.

They must arm themselves as best they can (rifles, revolvers, bombs, knives, knuckle-dusters, sticks, rags soaked in kerosene for starting fires, ropes or rope ladders, shovels for building barricades, pyroxylin cartridges, barbed wire, nails [against cavalry], etc., etc.). Under no circumstances should they wait for help from other sources, from above, from the outside; they must procure everything themselves.

As far as possible, the contingents should consist of people who either live near each other, or who meet frequently and regularly at definite hours (preferably people of both categories, for regular meetings may be interrupted by the uprising). They must arrange matters so as to be able to get together at the most critical moments,, when things may take the most unexpected turns. Therefore, each group must work out beforehand ways and means of joint action: signs in windows, etc., so as to find each other easily; previously agreed upon calls or whistles so that the comrades recognise one another in a crowd; previously arranged signals in the event of meetings at night, etc., etc. Any energetic person, with the aid of two or three comrades, could work out a whole series of such rules and methods, which should be drawn up, learned and practised beforehand. It must not be forgotten that the chances are 100 to lb that events will take us unawares, and that it will be necessary to come together under terribly difficult conditions.

Even without arms, the groups can play a most important part: 1) by leading the mass; 2) by attacking, whenever a favourable opportunity presents itself, policemen, stray Cossacks (as was the case in Moscow), etc., and seizing their arms; 3) by rescuing the arrested or injured, when there are only few police about; 4) by getting on to the roofs or upper storeys of houses, etc., and showering stones or pouring boiling water on the troops, etc. Given sufficient push, an organised and well-knit combat group constitutes a tremendous force. Under no circumstances should the formation of the group be abandoned or postponed on the plea of lack of arms.

As far as possible members of combat groups should have their duties assigned in advance, leaders or chiefs of groups being sometimes selected in this way. It would be unwise, of course, to play at conferring ranks, but the enormous importance of uniform leadership and rapid and determined action should not be forgotten. Determination and push are three-quarters of success.

As soon as the groups are formed—i.e., right now—they must get down to comprehensive work—not only theoretical, but most certainly practical work as well. By theoretical work we mean a study of military science, an acquaintance with military problems, the arrangement of lecture meetings on military questions, talks by military men (officers, non-commissioned officers, etc., etc., including also workers who have served in the army); the reading, discussion and assimilation of illegal pamphlets and newspaper articles on street fighting, etc., etc.

Practical work, we repeat, should be started at once. This falls into preparatory work and military operations. The preparatory work includes procuring all kinds of arms and ammunition, securing premises favourably located for street fighting (convenient for fighting from above, for storing bombs and stones, etc., or acids to be poured on the police, etc., etc.; also suitable for headquarters, for collecting information, for sheltering fugitives from the police, for use as hospitals, etc., etc.). Further, preliminary activity includes the immediate work of reconnaissance and gathering information—obtaining plans of prisons, police stations, ministries, etc., ascertaining the routine in government   offices, banks, etc., and learning how they are guarded, endeavouring to establish contacts which could be of use (with employees in police departments, banks, courts, prisons, post- and telegraph-offices, etc.), ascertaining the where abouts of arsenals, of all the gunsmiths’ shops in the city, etc. There is a great deal of this sort of work to be done, and—what is more—it is work in which even those who are quite incapable of engaging in street fighting, even the very weak, women, youngsters, old people, and so on, can be of immense service. Efforts should be made immediately to get into combat groups absolutely all those who want to take part in the uprising, for there is no such person, nor can there be one, who, provided he desires to work, cannot be of immense value, even if he is unarmed and is personally incapable of fighting.

Further, revolutionary army groups should under no circumstances confine themselves to preparatory work alone, but should begin military action as soon as possible so as to 1) train their fighting forces; 2) reconnoitre the enemy’s vulnerable spots; 3) inflict partial defeats on the enemy; 4) rescue prisoners (the arrested); 5) procure arms; 6) obtain funds for the uprising (confiscation of government funds), and so on and so forth. The groups can and should immediately take advantage of every opportunity for active work, and must by no means put matters off until a general uprising, because fitness for the uprising cannot be acquired except by training under fire.

All extremes, of course, are bad. All that is good and useful, if carried to extremes, may become—and beyond a certain limit is bound to become—bad and injurious. Disorderly, unorganised and petty terrorist acts may, if carried to extremes, only scatter and squander our forces. That is a fact, which, of course, should not be forgotten. On the other hand, under no circumstances should it be forgotten that a slogan calling for an uprising has already been issued, that the uprising has already begun. To launch attacks under favourable circumstances is not only every revolutionary’s right, but his plain duty. The killing of spies, policemen, gendarmes, the blowing up of police stations, the liberation of prisoners, the seizure of government funds for the needs of the uprising—such operations are already being carried   out wherever insurrection is rife, in Poland and in the Caucasus, and every detachment of the revolutionary army must be ready to start such operations at a moment’s notice. Each group should remember that if it allows a favourable opportunity for such an operation to slip by today, it will be guilty of unpardonable inactivity, of passivity—and such an offence is the greatest crime a revolutionary can commit at a time of insurrection, the greatest disgrace that can befall anyone who is striving for liberty in deed, and not in word alone.

As for the composition of these combat groups, the following may be said. Experience will show how many members are desirable in each group, and how their duties should be distributed. Each group must itself begin to acquire this experience, without waiting for instructions from outside. The local revolutionary organisation should, of course, be asked to send a revolutionary with military experience to deliver lectures, conduct discussions and give advice, but if such a person is not available it is absolutely incumbent upon the group to do this work itself.

As regards Party divisions, it is natural that members of the same Party will prefer to belong to the same group. But there should be no hard and fast rule debarring members of other parties from joining. It is precisely here that we must put into practice the alliance, the working agreement (without any merging of parties, of course), between the socialist proletariat and revolutionary democracy. Who ever wants to fight for liberty and proves in fact his readiness to do so may be regarded as a revolutionary democrat, and we must strive to carry on with such people the work of preparing for the uprising (provided, of course, the given person or group is quite trustworthy). All other “democrats” should be emphatically rejected as quasi-democrats, as liberal windbags who must not be relied on at all, and whom it would be criminal for a revolutionary to trust.

It is, of course, desirable for combat groups to unite their activities. It would be extremely useful to work out the forms and terms of joint action. Under no circumstances, however, should this be carried to the extreme of inventing complex plans and general schemes, or of postponing practical work for the sake of pedantic concoctions, etc. The   uprising will inevitably take place under circumstances in which the unorganised elements will outnumber the organised thousands of times over; there will inevitably be cases when it will be necessary to take immediate action, right then and there, in twos or even singly—and one must be prepared to act on ones s own initiative, and at one’s own risk. All delays, disputes, procrastination and indecision spell ruin to the cause of the uprising. Supreme determination, maximum energy, immediate utilisation of each suitable moment, immediate stimulation of the revolutionary ardour of the mass and the direction of this ardour to more vigorous and the most determined action—such is the prime duty of a revolutionary.

The fight against the Black Hundreds is an excellent type of military action, which will train the soldiers of the revolutionary army, give them their baptism of fire, and at the same time be of tremendous benefit to the revolution. Revolutionary army groups must at once find out who organises the Black Hundreds and where and how they are organised, and then, without confining themselves to propaganda (which is useful, but inadequate) they must act with armed force, beat up and kill the members of the Black-Hundred gangs, blow up their headquarters, etc., etc.


The First Victory of the Revolution

Proletary, No. 24, November 7 (October 25), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 427-434.

Geneva, November 1 (October 19)

Late Monday night the telegraph brought Europe the news of the tsar’s Manifesto of October 17. The Times correspondent wired: “The people have won the day. The Emperor has surrendered. The autocracy has ceased to exist.” Friends of the Russian revolution living in distant Baltimore (U.S.A.) expressed themselves differently in a cable they sent to Proletary: “Congratulations on the first great victory of the Russian revolution.”

The latter appraisal of the events is undoubtedly far more accurate. We have every reason to be jubilant. The concession made by the tsar is indeed a great victory for the revolution, but this victory is still a long way from deciding the fate of the entire cause of liberty. The tsar is far from having surrendered. The autocracy has by no means ceased to exist. It has merely retreated, leaving the field of battle to the enemy; it has retreated after an exceedingly heavy battle, but it has not yet been defeated by a long ways It is mustering its forces, and the revolutionary people have still to solve many important military problems before they will be able to carry the revolution to real and final victory.

October 17 will go down in history as one of the great days of the Russian revolution. On this day the nation-wide strike, the like of which the world had never before seen, reached its climax. The mighty arm of the proletariat, which. was raised in an outburst of heroic solidarity all over Russia, brought the entire industrial, commercial and   administrative life of the country to a standstill. It was the lull before the storm. Reports, one more alarming than the other, began pouring in from various big cities. The troops were wavering. The government refrained from taking repressive measures, the revolutionaries had not yet launched any serious open attacks, but insurrection was erupting on all sides.

At the eleventh hour the tsarist government decided to yield, realising that an explosion was inevitable, that already under no circumstances was it at all capable of gaining a full victory, but was very likely to suffer complete defeat. Trepov is reported as having said, “First there will be blood shed, and then a constitution.” The inevitability of a constitution could no longer be doubted, even if the uprising were suppressed, so the government decided that it was better to avoid the risk of serious and general bloodshed, for tsarist rule would be swept away altogether in the event of the victory of the people.

We know only an infinitesimal portion of that information possessed by the government on Monday, October 17, which compelled it to evade a desperate battle and yield. The local and central authorities strained every effort to hold up or curtail messages about the alarming progress of the uprising, but even the scanty, random and curtailed reports that found their way into the European press leave no doubt that this was a genuine uprising, capable of inspiring mortal fear in the tsar and his ministers.

The forces of tsarism and of the revolution are equally balanced, we wrote a week ago, on the basis of the first news of the country-wide political strike. Tsarism was no longer strong enough to crush the revolution; the revolution was not yet strong enough to crush tsarism. But with such an equilibrium of forces, all delay was fraught with the greatest danger to tsarism, for delay was bound to cause the troops to waver.

The uprising was spreading. Blood was already being spilt all over Russia. The people were fighting at the barricades, from Revel to Odessa, from Poland to Siberia. In isolated and small encounters the troops were victorious. but at the same time tidings of a new and unprecedented phenomenon began to come in, a phenomenon plainly testifying   to the military impotence of the autocracy. This was the news of the negotiations between the tsarist troops and the insurgent people (Kharkov), the news of the withdrawal of troops from cities (Kharkov, Revel) as the only way to restore tranquillity. Negotiations with the insurgent people, the withdrawal of troops—that is the beginning of the end. Better than any arguments it proves that the military authorities were aware of the extreme precariousness of their position. It shows that disaffection among the troops has spread to a truly formidable extent. Scattered news items and rumours seeped through to the foreign press. In Kiev soldiers who had refused to fire were arrested. Similar cases occurred in Poland. In Odessa the infantry were confined to their barracks, the authorities fearing to bring the men out into the streets. In St. Petersburg unrest was beginning to manifest itself in the navy, and it was re ported that the guards regiments were totally unreliable. As for the Black Sea Fleet, it has been impossible to this very day to ascertain the whole truth. On October 17, telegrams were already reporting that rumours of a new mutiny in this fleet were very persistent, that all telegrams were being intercepted by the authorities, who resorted to every means in an attempt to prevent reports of the events from spreading.

If we bring together all these fragmentary reports we cannot but arrive at the conclusion that even from a purely military standpoint the autocracy’s position was desperate. It was still suppressing isolated outbreaks, its troops were still taking barricades here and there, but these isolated encounters merely served to inflame passions, merely in creased indignation, merely accelerated a mightier general outbreak, which the government particularly dreaded, since it could no longer rely on the army.

The Enemy declined a pitched battle. He retreated, abandoning the battlefield to the revolutionary people—retreat ed to new positions, which he considers better fortified, and where he hopes to rally more reliable forces, weld them together and infuse a new spirit into them, and choose a better moment for an offensive.

This appraisal of the great day of October 17 is confirmed by a number of relatively “unbiased” reports in the European bourgeois press.

On the one hand, the European bourgeoisie is sighing with relief. The tsar’s Manifesto promises a regular constitution; the Duma is invested with legislative powers; no law can come into force prior to approval by the people’s representatives, ministerial responsibility has been granted; civil liberties have been granted—inviolability of the person, freedom of conscience, speech, assembly and association. The stock exchange is hastening to express fuller confidence in Russia’s finances. Russian securities, which have been falling for the last few days, are now going up. The foreign bankers who fled from revolutionary St. Petersburg are promising to return within a fortnight. In the constitution the European bourgeoisie sees a pledge of “peaceful” minor concessions, which will wholly satisfy the propertied classes without at the same time allowing the revolutionary proletariat to acquire “too much” freedom.

On the other hand, even the liberal bourgeois cannot but see that the tsar’s Manifesto contains only hollow words, mere promises. Who nowadays will believe promises alone? Are not all these phrases about inviolability of the person and freedom of speech sheer mockery when the prisons are still packed with so-called political offenders, and the censorship is still operating? What kind of people will carry out the tsar’s promise? The Witte government, which is rumoured to include Kuzmin-Karavayev, Kosich, Koni? This government will not even be one of the liberal bourgeoisie. It will only be a government of the liberal bureaucracy, which has so often been defeated by the reactionary Court clique. Can it be that the people have spilt their blood in the struggle for liberty only to have to rely on the liberal bureaucrats, who confine themselves to mere words and promises?!

No, tsarism is still far from having surrendered. The autocracy has by no means fallen as yet. Many great battles will still have to be fought by the revolutionary proletariat, and the first victory will help it to rally its forces and enlist new allies in the struggle..

“The very success of the cause of freedom,” The Times correspondent wrote the day the Manifesto was proclaimed, “will only stimulate the reactionary elements to greater activity, and so long as the army remains under its present   chiefs Russia cannot be safe from the possibility of a pronunciamento.” “It is ... doubtful whether the forced surrender of the government in the very midst of a revolutionary upheaval can be regarded otherwise than as a signal for further strife.” “It is not known whether the bureaucracy has been ousted from its citadel or whether it has merely retreated from its advance positions,” say the bourgeois optimists, although the facts show clearly that the “citadel” of the autocracy is still quite intact.

The enforced nature of the concession is what most of all disturbs the moderate bourgeois. Le Temps, organ of the ruling money-bags of France, waxed highly indignant over “anarchy”, and showered abuse and slander on the organisers of the all-Russia political strike and its participants. Though satisfied by the tsar’s constitutional promises as such, this newspaper now remarks with concern: “Instead of acting on his own initiative, the tsar contended himself with signing the ’instructions’ of the liberal opposition. This is a poor method, lending the subsequent reforms an enforced nature, the nature of something fragmentary and sudden. This method places the government at odds with itself and sets a premium on violence. Unfortunately, it is only too clear that matters had reached a point where there was no other way out of the impasse into which the government had been led. Let us pass a wet sponge over the nature of this capitulation—capitulation not only to the constitutionalists, moderate souls, who should have been heeded sooner, but capitulation to a strike and revolution.”

No, gentlemen of the bourgeoisie, the workers will never forget the enforced nature of the tsar’s capitulation! The workers will never forget that it was only by force, by the force of their organisation, their unanimity and their mass heroism, that they wrested from tsarism a recognition of liberty in a paper manifesto; and only in this way will they win real liberty for themselves.

We stated above that the enemy retreated, abandoning the battlefield to the revolutionary proletariat. We must add now: the retreating enemy is being hard pressed. On Monday, October 17, the tsar’s Manifesto was issued. On Tuesday, October 18, according to a Wolff Press Agency report, a Manifesto of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour   Party was issued in St. Petersburg in a huge number of copies. It declares that the struggle of the proletariat will by no means cease as a result of the tsar’s Manifesto. It must be the proletariat’s tactics to take advantage of rights granted under the force of its blows, to arrange workers’ meetings to decide the question of the continuation of the strike, to organise a militia to protect revolutionary rights, and to put forward the demand for a full amnesty. At mass meetings Social-Democratic speakers are urging the con vocation of a constituent assembly. According to telegrams, the Strike Committee[1] is demanding an amnesty and the immediate convocation of a constituent assembly elected on the basis of universal and direct suffrage.

Their revolutionary instinct at once prompted the St. Petersburg workers to adopt the right slogan—energetic continuation of the struggle, and utilisation of the newly-won positions for a continued onslaught and the actual destruction of the autocracy. The struggle continues. Meetings are being held ever more frequently and are being attended by larger number of people. The joy and the legitimate pride evoked by the first victory are not hampering the new organisation of forces for the purpose of carrying the revolution to completion. Its success depends on still broader sections of the people being won over to the side of liberty, on their enlightenment and organisation. The working class has shown its titanic might in the all-Russia political strike, but there is still much to be done among the back ward sections of the urban proletariat. While establishing a workers’ militia—the only bulwark of the revolution— while preparing ourselves for new and even more determined struggles, while upholding our old slogans, we must also pay special attention to the army. The tsar’s enforced con cession was bound to give rise to the greatest wavering in its ranks, and now we must attract the soldiers to workers’ meetings, intensify our agitation in the barracks, extend our liaisons with officers, creating, alongside of the revolutionary army of workers, cadres of class-conscious revolutionaries among the troops as well, troops which only yesterday were most loyal to the tsar and are now on the verge of becoming a people’s army.

The revolutionary proletariat has succeeded in neutralising   the army, after paralysing it in the great days of the general strike. It must now work to bring the army completely over to the side of the people.

The revolutionary proletariat has brought about the first great victory of the urban revolution. It must now broaden and deepen the foundations of the revolution by extending it to the countryside. To raise the peasantry to the level of conscious defence of the cause of liberty, to demand that serious measures be taken in the interests of the peasantry, and to prepare in the countryside a movement which, in conjunction with the advanced urban proletariat, will deal the final blow at the autocracy and win complete and genuine liberty—such is Russian Social-Democracy’s next task.

The success of the revolution depends on the size of the proletarian and peasant masses that will rise in its defence and for its consummation. Revolutionary war differs from other wars in that it draws its main reserves from the camp of its enemy’s erstwhile allies, erstwhile supporters of tsarism, or people who blindly obeyed tsarism. The success of the all-Russia political strike will have a greater influence over the minds and hearts of the peasants than the confusing words of any possible manifestoes or laws.

When the Russian revolution was just getting under way, the liberal bourgeoisie occupied the whole political fore ground; such was the situation a year ago.

The revolution asserted itself when the urban working class appeared on the scene on January 9.

The revolution won its first victory when the proletariat of all the nations of Russia rose as one man and made the tsar’s throne tremble, the throne that had caused such incalculable distress to all the nations, and most of all to the toiling classes of all the nations.

The revolution will deal the enemy the final blow and sweep the throne of the blood-thirsty tsar from the face of the earth, when the workers rise once more, with the peasantry following their lead.

And further, the Russian revolution has another reserve. Gone are the times when nations and states could live isolated from one another. Look—Europe is already stirring. Its bourgeoisie is disconcerted and prepared to give millions   and billions to stop the conflagration in Russia. The rulers of the militarist European powers are contemplating military assistance for the tsar. Kaiser Wilhelm has already dispatched several cruisers and destroyers to establish direct links between the German militarists and Peterhof. European counter-revolution is holding out a hand to Russian counter-revolution.

Just you try, citizen Hohenzollern! We too have a European reserve of the Russian revolution. This reserve is the international socialist proletariat, the international revolutionary Social-Democratic movement. The workers of the whole world are hailing the victory of the Russian workers with enthusiasm and, conscious of the close links between the various contingents of the international army of socialism, are themselves preparing for the great and decisive struggle.

You are not alone, workers and peasants of all Russia! If you succeed in overthrowing, crushing and destroying the tyrants of feudal, police-ridden, landlord and tsarist Russia, your victory will serve as a signal for a world struggle against the tyranny of capital, a struggle for the complete, economic as well as political emancipation of the toilers, a struggle for the deliverance of humanity from destitution, and for the realisation of socialism.


[1] The reference is to the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, which arose as the united strike committee during the October All-Russia political strike. On October 13 (26), St. Petersburg workers elected their representatives to the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies so as to give leadership to the strike. In point of organisation the Soviet took shape on October 17 (30), when the provisional executive committee was elected.

The first Soviets of Workers’ Deputies arose out of the strike movement even prior to the October general strike. In May 1905 a Soviet was formed in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, and a month later in Kostroma, while in September Soviets of Deputies were formed in Moscow by workers in individual trades, such as printers and tobacco workers. These first Soviets were already marked by a trend towards functions wider than those of strike committees, so that when the October strike broke out and a Soviet was formed in St. Petersburg they gave an impetus to the appearance of Soviets in other parts of the country. Shortly before the December insurrection in Moscow, the Moscow Soviet of Workers’ Deputies came into being, the example being followed in Kiev, Kharkov, Rostov-on-Don, Odessa, Nikolayev, Ekaterinoslav, Vladikavkaz, Revel, Novoros siisk, Saratov, Chita, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Baku, and elsewhere.

In defiance of all the institutions of the tsar’s government, the Soviets issued their own decrees, orders and instructions, and on their own authority they introduced the eight-hour working day and instituted democratic liberties.

The Bolsheviks everywhere entered the Soviets, and wherever they succeeded in gaining dominant influence the Soviets became militant centres for the mobilisation of revolutionary forces, where preparations for an insurrection were made and carried out. Thus, the Moscow Soviet was the headquarters of the December insur rection, and in Krasnoyarsk and Novorossiisk the Soviets took over power. The St. Petersburg Soviet “was weakest as an organ of the new power” (Lenin). Leadership in that Soviet was seized by the Mensheviks, so that it could not perform its main task—become the organ of an armed uprising and of the struggle for the overthrow of the autocracy.

Lenin, who developed the theory of the Soviets, regarded them as a mass political organisation of the working class, as organs of insurrection, and embryos of a new revolutionary system of rule.

The Bolsheviks differed sharply from the Mensheviks on the question of the role and significance of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies. The Mensheviks belittled the role of the Soviets, reducing them merely to organs of local self-government. In their practical activities, the Mensheviks limited the functions of the Soviets to the defence of the workers’ economic interests.

The Soviets of 1905, one of the greatest historic gains of the working class, were the prototype of Soviet power as established in 1917.

On the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies see the following articles by Lenin: “Our Tasks and the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies”; “Resolution of the Executive Committee of the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies on Measures for Counteracting the Lockout, Adopted on November 14 (27), 1905”; “The Provocation that Failed”; “The Dying Autocracy and New Organs of Popular Rule”; “Socialism and Anarchism”; “The Socialist Party and Non-Party Revolutionism”; “The Victory of the Cadets and the Tasks of the Workers’ Party”, etc.


Nikolai Ernestovich Bauman

Proletary, No. 24, November 7 (October 25), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 436-437.

Today, November 3 (New Style), the news arrived by telegraph that N. E. Bauman, veterinary surgeon and member of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, has been murdered in Moscow by the tsar’s soldiers. A demonstration was held at his graveside, at which the widow of the deceased, also a member of our Party, delivered a speech calling on the people to rise in arms. We are unable as yet to give a detailed biography of our fallen comrade. For the time being, we shall merely enumerate the main events in his life. He started work in the Social-Democratic organisation in St. Petersburg in the nineties. He was arrested, spent twenty-two months in the Peter and Paul Fortress, and was then exiled to Vyatka Gubernia. He escaped from his place of exile, went abroad, and in 1900 participated in the organisation of Iskra. From its very inception he was one of the principal practical leaders of this enterprise, making frequent secret visits to Russia. He was arrested in February 1902 in Voronezh (betrayed by a doctor) in connection with the organisation of Iskra, and was imprisoned in Kiev. In August 1902, he escaped together with ten other Social-Democratic comrades. He was a delegate of the Moscow Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. to the Second Congress of the Party (under the assumed name of Sorokin). He took part in the Second Congress of the League[1] (under the assumed name of Sarafsky). Following this he became a member of the Moscow Committee of the Party. He was arrested on June 19, 1904, and was held at Taganka Prison. He must have been released. from prison only a few days ago.

May the memory of this fighter in the ranks of the Russian Social-Democratic proletariat never die! May the memory   of this revolutionary, who has fallen in the first days of the victorious revolution, live for ever! May the honours paid to his remains by the people who have risen in revolt be a pledge of the complete victory of the uprising and the complete destruction of accursed tsarism!

The murder of N. E. Bauman clearly shows how correct the Social-Democratic speakers in St. Petersburg were when they described the Manifesto of October 17 as a trap, and the conduct of the government after publication of the Manifesto as provocative. What are all these promised liberties worth, so long as power and armed force remain in the hands of the government? Is not this “amnesty” actually a trap, when those who are released from, prison are shot down in the streets by Cossacks?


[1] The Second Congress of the “League of Russian Revolutionary Social-Democracy Abroad” was held on October 13-18 (26-31), 1903 in Geneva. It was convened by demand of the Mensheviks, who wished to contrapose it to the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. Expressing himself against the congress of the League Abroad, Lenin wrote, “A League congress at present will provide everything for a squabble but nothing for practical pur poses, i.e., for work abroad” (see Collected Works, Vol. 34, “Letter to G. D. Leiteizen”, October 10, 1903).


Petty-Bourgeois and Proletarian Socialism[1]

Proletary, No. 24, November 7 (October 25), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 438-446.

Of the various socialist doctrines, Marxism is now predominant in Europe, the struggle for the achievement of a socialist order being almost entirely waged as a struggle of the working class under the guidance of the Social-Democratic parties. This complete predominance of proletarian socialism grounded in the teachings of Marxism was not achieved all at once, but only after a long struggle against all sorts of outworn doctrines, petty-bourgeois socialism, anarchism, and so on. Some thirty years ago, Marxism was not predominant even in Germany, where the prevailing views of the time were in fact transitional, mixed and eclectic, lying between petty-bourgeois and proletarian socialism. The most widespread doctrines among advanced workers in the Romance countries, in France, Spain and Belgium, were Proudhonism, Blanquism and anarchism, which obviously expressed the viewpoint of the petty bourgeois, not of the proletarian.

What has been the cause of this rapid and complete victory of Marxism during the last decades? The correctness of the Marxist views has been confirmed to an ever greater extent by all the development of contemporary societies, both politically and economically, and by the whole experience of the revolutionary movement and of the struggle of the oppressed classes. The decline of the petty bourgeoisie inevitably led, sooner or later, to the extinction of all kinds of petty-bourgeois prejudices, while the growth of capitalism and the intensification of the class struggle within capitalist society were the best agitation for the ideas of proletarian socialism.

Russia’s backwardness naturally accounts for the firm footing that various obsolete socialist doctrines gained in our country. The entire history of Russian revolutionary thought during the last quarter of a century is the history of the struggle waged by Marxism against petty-bourgeois Narodnik socialism. While the rapid growth and remarkable successes of the Russian working-class movement have already brought victory to Marxism in Russia too, the development of an indubitably revolutionary peasant movement—especially after the famous peasant revolts in the Ukraine in 1902—has on the other hand caused a certain revival of senile Narodism. The Narodnik theories of old, embellished with modish European opportunism (revisionism, Bernsteinism, and criticism of Marx), make up all the original ideological stock-in-trade of the so-called Socialist-Revolutionaries. That is why the peasant question is focal in the Marxists’ controversies with both the pure Narodniks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries.

To a certain extent Narodism was an integral and consistent doctrine. It denied the domination of capitalism in Russia; it denied the factory workers’ role as the front-line fighters of the entire proletariat; it denied the importance of a political revolution and bourgeois political liberty; it preached an immediate socialist revolution, stemming from the peasant commune with its petty forms of husbandry. All that now survives of this integral theory is mere shreds, but to understand the controversies of the present day intelligently, and to prevent these controversies from degenerating into mere squabbles, one should always remember the general and basic Narodnik roots of the errors of our Socialist-Revolutionaries.

The Narodniks considered the muzhik the man of the future in Russia, this view springing inevitably from their faith in the socialist character of the peasant commune, from their lack of faith in the future of capitalism. The Marxists considered the worker the man of the future in Russia, and the development of Russian capitalism in both agriculture and industry is providing more and more confirmation of their views. The working-class movement in Russia has won recognition for itself, but as for the peasant movement, the gulf separating Narodism and Marxism is   to this day revealed in their different interpretations of this movement. To the Narodniks the peasant movement provides a refutation of Marxism. It is a movement that stands for a direct socialist revolution; it does not recognise bourgeois political liberty; it stems from small-scale, not large-scale, production. In a word, to the Narodnik, it is the peasant movement that is the genuine, truly socialist and immediately socialist movement. The Narodnik faith in the peasant commune and the Narodnik brand of anarchism fully explain why such conclusions are inevitable.

To the Marxist, the peasant movement is a democratic, not a socialist, movement. In Russia, just as was the case in other countries, it is a necessary concomitant of the democratic revolution, which is bourgeois in its social and economic content. It is not in the least directed against the foundations of the bourgeois order, against commodity production, or against capital. On the contrary, it is directed against the old, serf, pre-capitalist relationships in the rural districts, and against landlordism, which is the mainstay of all the survivals of serf-ownership. Consequently, full victory of this peasant movement will not abolish capitalism; on the contrary, it will create a broader foundation for its development, and will hasten and intensify purely capitalist development. Full victory of the peasant uprising can only create a stronghold for a democratic bourgeois republic, within which a proletarian struggle against the bourgeoisie will for the first time develop in its purest form.

These, then, are the two contrasting views which must be clearly understood by anyone who wishes to examine the gulf in principles that lies between the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Social-Democrats. According to one view, the peasant movement is socialist, while according to the other it is a democratic-bourgeois movement. Hence one can see what ignorance our Socialist-Revolutionaries reveal when they repeat for the hundredth time (see, for example, Revolutsionnaya Rossiya, No. 75) that orthodox Marxists have ignored the peasant question. There is only one way of combating such crass ignorance, and that is by repeating the ABC, by setting forth the old consistently Narodnik views, and by pointing out for the hundredth or the   thousandth time that the real distinction between us does not lie in a desire or the non-desire to reckon with the peasant question, in recognition or non-recognition of it, but in our different appraisals of the present-day peasant movement and of the present-day peasant question in Russia. He who says that the Marxists ignore the peasant question in Russia is, in the first place, an absolute ignoramus since all the principal writings of Russian Marxists, beginning with Plekhanov’s Our Differences (which appeared over twenty years ago), have in the main been devoted to explaining the erroneousness of the Narodnik views on the Russian peasant question. Secondly, he who says that the Marxists ignore the peasant question thereby proves his desire to avoid giving a complete appraisal of the actual difference in principles, giving the answer to the question whether or not the present-day peasant movement is democratic-bourgeois, whether or not it is objectively directed against the survivals of serfdom.

The Socialist-Revolutionaries have never given, nor will they ever be able to give, a clear and precise answer to this question, for they are floundering hopelessly between the old Narodnik view and the present-day Marxist view on the peasant question in Russia. The Marxists say that the Socialist-Revolutionaries represent the standpoint of the petty bourgeoisie (are ideologists of the petty bourgeoisie) for the very reason that they cannot rid themselves of petty-bourgeois illusions and of the Narodnik imaginings in appraising the peasant movement.

That is why we have to go over the ABC once again. What is the present-day peasant movement in Russia striving for? For land and liberty. What significance will the complete victory of this movement have? After winning liberty, it will abolish the rule of the landlords and bureaucrats in the administration of the state. After securing the land, it will give the landlords’ estates to the peasants. Will the fullest liberty and expropriation of the landlords do away with commodity production? No, it will not. Will the fullest liberty and expropriation of the landlords abolish individual farming by peasant households on communal, or “socialised”, land? No, it will not. Will the fullest liberty and expropriation of the landlords bridge the deep gulf that   separates the rich peasant, with his numerous horses and cows, from the farm-hand, the day-labourer, i.e., the gulf that separates the peasant bourgeoisie from the rural proletariat? No, it will not. On the contrary, the more completely the highest social-estate (the landlords) is routed and annihilated, the more profound will the class distinction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat be. What will be the objective significance of the complete victory of the peasant uprising? This victory will do away with all survivals of serfdom, but it will by no means destroy the bourgeois economic system, or destroy capitalism or the division of society into classes—into rich and poor, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Why is the present-day peasant movement a democratic-bourgeois movement? Because, after destroying the power of the bureaucracy and the landlords, it will set up a democratic system of society, without, however, altering the bourgeois foundation of that democratic society, without abolishing the rule of capital. How should the class-conscious worker, the socialist, regard the present-day peasant movement? He must support this movement, help the peasants in the most energetic fashion, help them throw off completely both the rule of the bureaucracy and that of the landlords. At the same time, however, lie should explain to the peasants that it is not enough to overthrow the rule of the bureaucracy and the landlords. When they overthrow that rule, they must at the same time prepare for the abolition of the rule of capital, the rule of the bourgeoisie, and for that purpose a doctrine that is fully socialist, i.e., Marxist, should be immediately disseminated, the rural proletarians should be united, welded together,and organised for the struggle against the peasant bourgeoisie and the entire Russian bourgeoisie. Can a class-conscious worker forget the democratic struggle for the sake of the socialist struggle, or forget the latter for the sake of the former? No, a class-conscious worker calls himself a Social-Democrat for the reason that he understands the relation between the two struggles. He knows that there is no other road to socialism save the road through democracy, through political liberty. He therefore strives to achieve democratism completely and consistently in order to attain the ultimate goal—socialism. Why are the conditions for the   democratic struggle not the same as those for the socialist struggle? Because the workers will certainly have different allies in each of those two struggles. The democratic struggle is waged by the workers together with a section of the bourgeoisie, especially the petty bourgeoisie. On the other hand, the socialist struggle is waged by the workers against the whole of the bourgeoisie. The struggle against the bureaucrat and the landlord can and must be waged together with all the peasants, even the well-to-do and the middle peasants. On the other hand, it is only together with the rural proletariat that the struggle against the bourgeoisie, and therefore against the well-to-do peasants too, can be properly waged.

If we keep in mind all these elementary Marxist truths, which the Socialist-Revolutionaries always prefer to avoid going into, we shall have no difficulty in appraising the latter’s “latest” objections to Marxism, such as the following:

“Why was it necessary,” Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (No. 75) exclaims, “first to support the peasant in general against the landlord, and then (i.e., at the same time) to support the proletariat against the peasant in general, instead of at once supporting the proletariat against the landlord; and what Marxism has to do with this, heaven alone knows.”

This is the standpoint of the most primitive, childishly naïve anarchism. For many centuries and even for thousands of years, mankind has dreamt of doing away “at once” with all and every kind of exploitation. These dreams remained mere dreams until millions of the exploited all over the world began to unite for a consistent, staunch and comprehensive struggle to change capitalist society in the direction the evolution of that society is naturally taking. Socialist dreams turned into the socialist struggle of the millions only when Marx’s scientific socialism had linked up the urge for change with the struggle of a definite class. Outside the class struggle, socialism is either a hollow phrase or a naïve dream. In Russia, however, two different struggles of two different social forces are taking place before our very eyes. The proletariat is fighting against the bourgeoisie wherever capitalist relations of production exist (and they exist—be it known to our Socialist-Revolutionaries— even in the peasant commune, i.e., on the land which from   their standpoint is one hundred per cent “socialised”). As a stratum of small landowners, of petty bourgeois, the peasantry, is fighting against all survivals of serfdom, against the bureaucrats and the landlords. Only those who are completely ignorant of political economy and of the history of revolutions throughout the world can fail to see that these are two distinct and different social wars. To shut one’s eyes to the diversity of these wars by demanding “at once”, is like hiding one’s head under one’s wing and refusing to make any analysis of reality.

The Socialist-Revolutionaries, who have lost the integrity of the old Narodnik views, have even forgotten many of the teachings of the Narodniks themselves. As the selfsame Revolutsionnaya Rossiya writes in the same article: “By helping the peasantry to expropriate the landlords, Mr. Lenin is unconsciously assisting in building up petty-bourgeois economy on the ruins of the more or less developed forms of capitalist agriculture. Is not this a ’step backward’ from the standpoint of orthodox Marxism?”

For shame, gentlemen! Why, you have forgotten your own Mr. V. V.! Consult his Destiny of Capitalism, the Sketches by Mr. Nikolai —on,[2] and other sources of your wisdom. You will then recollect that landlord farming in Russia combines within itself features both of capitalism and of serf-ownership. You will then find out that there is a system of economy based on labour rent, which is a direct survival of the corvée system. If, moreover, you take the trouble to consult such an orthodox Marxist book as the third volume of Marx’s Capital, you will find that nowhere could the corv6e system develop, and nowhere did it develop, and turn into capitalist farming except through the medium of petty-bourgeois peasant farming. In your efforts to scatter Marxism to the winds, you resort to methods too primitive, methods too long ago exposed; you ascribe to Marxism a grotesquely oversimplified conception of large-scale capitalist farming directly succeeding to large-scale farming based on the corvée system. You argue that since the yield on the landlords’ estates is higher than on the peasant farms the expropriation of the landlords is a step backward. This argument is worthy of a fourth-form schoolboy. Just consider, gentlemen: was it not a “step backward” to separate the low-yielding   peasant lands from the high-yielding landlords’ estates when serfdom was abolished?

Present-day landlord economy in Russia combines features of both capitalism and serf-ownership. Objectively, the peasants’ struggle against the landlords today is a struggle against survivals of serfdom. However, to attempt to enumerate all individual cases, to weigh each individual case, and to determine with the precision of an apothecary’s scales exactly where serf-ownership ends and pure capitalism begins, is to ascribe one’s own pedantry to the Marxists. We cannot calculate what portion of the price of provisions bought from a petty shopkeeper represents labour-value and what part of it represents swindling, etc. Does that mean, gentlemen, that we must discard the theory of labour-value?

Contemporary landlord economy combines features of both capitalism and serfdom. But only pedants can conclude from this that it is our duty to weigh, count and copy out every minute feature in every particular instance, and pigeon-hole it in this or that social category. Only utopians can hence conclude that “there is no need” for us to draw a distinction between the two different social wars. Indeed, the only actual conclusion that does follow is that both in our programme and in our tactics we must combine the purely proletarian struggle against capitalism with the general ’democratic (and general peasant) struggle against serfdom.

The more marked the capitalist features in present-day landlord semi-feudal economy, the more imperative is it to get right down to organising the rural proletariat separately, for this will help ’purely capitalist, or purely proletarian, antagonisms to assert themselves the sooner, whenever confiscation takes place. The more marked the capitalist features in landlord economy, the sooner will democratic confiscation give an impetus to the real struggle for socialism—and, consequently, the more dangerous is false idealisation of the democratic revolution through use of the catchword of “socialisation”. Such is the conclusion to be drawn from the fact that landlord economy is a mixture of capitalism and serf-ownership relations.

Thus, we must combine the purely proletarian struggle with the general peasant struggle, but not confuse the two.   We must support the general democratic and general peasant struggle, but not become submerged in this non-class struggle; we must never idealise it with false catchwords such as “socialisation”, or ever forget the necessity of organising both the urban and the rural proletariat in an entirely independent class party of Social-Democracy. While giving the utmost support to the most determined democratism, that party will not allow itself to be diverted from the revolutionary path by reactionary dreams and experiments in “equalisation” under the system of commodity production. The peasants’ struggle against the landlords is now a revolutionary struggle; the confiscation of the landlords’ estates at the present stage of economic and political evolution is revolutionary in every respect, and we back this revolutionary-democratic measure. However, to call this measure “socialisation”, and to deceive oneself and the people concerning the possibility of “equality” in land tenure under the system of commodity production, is a reactionary petty-bourgeois utopia, which we leave to the socialist-reactionaries.


[1] The article “Petty-Bourgeois and Proletarian Socialism” was reprinted in No. 9 of the Bolshevik newspaper Novaya Zhizn of November 10 (23), 1905.

[2] V. V.—pseudonym of V. Vorontsov, author of the book The Destiny of Capitalism in Russia; Nikolai—on—pseudonym of N. Danielson, author of the book Sketches on Our Post-Reform Social Economy. Both men were ideologists of liberal Narodism of the 1880s and 1890s.


The Denouement is At Hand

Proletary, No. 25, November 18 (3), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 447-454.

The forces are in equilibrium, we wrote a fortnight ago,[1] when the first news of the all-Russia political strike came in, and it was becoming evident that the government dare not make immediate use of its military forces.

The forces are in equilibrium, we repeated a week ago,[2] when the Manifesto of October 17 was the latest in the political news, betokening to the whole people and to the world at large that tsarism was in the grip of irresolution, and was in retreat.

However, equilibrium of forces in no way precludes a struggle; on the contrary it makes the struggle more acute. The sole purpose of the government’s retreat is, as we have already said, to enable it to choose what it considers a new and a more favourable situation for a battle. The proclamation of the “liberties” that adorn the scrap of paper known as the Manifesto of October 17 is merely an attempt to prepare the moral conditions for a struggle against the revolution, while Trepov, at the head of the all-Russia Black Hundreds, prepares the material conditions for that struggle.

The denouement is at hand, the new political situation is taking shape at breath-taking speed, one that marks only revolutionary epochs. In words, the government has begun to fall back, but in deed it has immediately begun to prepare for an offensive. Promises of a constitution have been followed by the most brutal and ugly acts of violence, which have seemed purposely designed to give the people a still more striking object lesson of the real significance of the   autocracy’s real power. The contrast between promises, words and scraps of paper, on the one hand, and the facts of reality on the other has become infinitely more manifest. Events have begun to provide telling confirmation of a truth we long ago proclaimed to our readers, and shall repeat over and over again, namely, that until tsarism’s actual power is overthrown, all its concessions, and even a constituent assembly, are a phantom, a mirage, a piece of deception.

The revolutionary workers of St. Petersburg made this perfectly clear in one of those daily bulletins[3] that have not yet reached us, but are being referred to more and more frequently by foreign newspapers, astounded and frightened by the might of the proletariat. “We have been granted freedom of assembly,” the strike committee has written (we are translating from the English back into the Russian, so some inaccuracy is of course inevitable in the rendering), “but our meetings are surrounded by soldiers. We have been granted freedom of the press, but censorship continues. Freedom of learning has been promised, but the University is occupied by troops. Inviolability of the person has been promised, but the prisons are packed with arrested people. We have been granted Witte, but Trepov still exists. ’We have been granted a constitution, but the autocracy still exists. We have been granted everything, but we have nothing.”

The “Manifesto” has been suspended by Trepov. The constitution has been held up by Trepov. The real significance of the liberties granted has been clarified by the selfsame Trepov. The amnesty has been mangled by Trepov.

But who is this Trepov? Is he some extraordinary personality, whose removal is of special significance? Nothing of the kind. He is just a most ordinary policeman, who is doing the autocracy’s everyday work, with the military and the police at his disposal.

Why is it that this most ordinary policeman and his routine “job” have suddenly acquired such extraordinary importance? It is because the revolution has made immense progress, and had brought the denouement closer. Led by the proletariat, the people are becoming politically more mature with every day, nay with every hour, or, if you will, not by the year but by the week. While to a people that was   politically asleep, Trepov was just a most ordinary policeman, to a people that has grown aware that it is a political force, he has become insufferable, for he personifies all the brutality, criminality and senselessness of tsarism.

Revolution teaches. It provides all classes of the people and all the nations of Russia with excellent object lessons on the subject of the nature of a constitution. Revolution teaches by bringing to the fore the immediate and pressing political tasks, in their most manifest and compelling forms; it compels the masses to realise these tasks, and makes the people’s very existence impossible, without fulfilment of these tasks; it unmasks the worthlessness of all and sundry pretences, evasions, promises and acknowledgements. “We have been granted everything, but we have nothing.” Indeed, we have been “granted” only promises, since we have no real power. We have come close to liberty, have compelled all and sundry, even the tsar, to acknowledge the need for liberty. What we want, however, is not recognition of that need, but liberty itself. What we want is not a scrap of paper with promises of legislative powers for the people’s representatives, but actual sovereignty of the people. The closer we approach that sovereignty, the more intolerable its absence becomes. The more tempting the tsar’s manifestoes are, the more unbearable is his rule.

The struggle is approaching its denouement, the answer to the question whether actual power is to remain with the tsar s government. As for recognition of the revolution, it has now been generally recognised. It was recognised quite long ago by Mr. Struve and the Osvobozhdeniye gentry. It is now recognised by Mr. Witte and by Nicholas Romanov. “I promise you anything you wish,” says the tsar, “only let me retain power, let me fulfil my own promises.” That is the gist of the tsar’s Manifesto, and it obviously had to spark off a determined struggle. “I grant you everything except power,” tsarism declares. “Everything is illusory except power,” the revolutionary people reply.

The real significance of the seeming senselessness into which Russian affairs have fallen lies in tsarism’s desire to deceive the people and evade revolution by striking a bargain with the bourgeoisie. The tsar is making ever greater promises to the bourgeoisie, in the hope that the propertied   classes, to the man, will at last turn towards “law and order”. However, whilst that “law and order” is exemplified in the excesses of Trepov and his Black Hundreds, the tsar’s appeal seems likely to remain a voice crying in the wilderness. The tsar stands in need of both Witte and Trepov in equal measure—Witte to attract some, and. Trepov to intimidate others; Witte for promises, and Trepov for action; Witte for the bourgeoisie, and Trepov for the proletariat. Before our eyes there is again unfolding, only this time on a far higher level of development, a scene the same as that witnessed at the beginning of the Moscow strikes—the liberals are doing the negotiating, while the workers are doing the fighting.

Trepov has an excellent understanding of his role and his real significance. He may have been somewhat too precipitate for the diplomatic Witte, but then he has been afraid of being left behind by the rapid development of the revolution. He has been even obliged to make haste, for he realises that the forces at his disposal are on the wane.

Simultaneously with its Manifesto on the Constitution, the autocracy has begun to take steps to preclude a constitution. The Black Hundreds have got down to work in a way Russia has never seen before. Reports of massacres, pogroms, and acts of unparalleled brutality are pouring in from all parts of the country. The white terror is rampant. Wherever they can, the police are inciting and organising the dregs of capitalist society for pillage and violence, plying the scum of the urban population with liquor, staging anti-Jewish pogroms, exhorting to violence against “students” and rebels, and helping in “giving a lesson” to Zemstvo members. Counter-revolution is working at full blast. Trepov has proved worthy of his salt. Machine-guns are opening fire (Odessa), eyes are being put out (Kiev), people are being hurled from the upper storeys into the streets below, houses are being taken by assault and then sacked, fires are started and nobody allowed to put them out, and those who dare offer resistance to the Black Hundreds are being shot down. From Poland to Siberia, from the shores of the Gulf of Finland to the Black Sea—the picture is the same.

But simultaneously with this spate of Black-Hundred brutality, this orgy staged by the autocracy, these last   convulsions of the tsarist monster, fresh onslaughts are being launched by the proletariat, which, as always, only appears to quieten down after each upsurge of the movement. In actual fact, it is only mustering its forces and preparing to deal. a decisive blow. For reasons already mentioned, police atrocities in Russia have acquired a character quite different from that of the past. Parallel with the outbursts of Cossack vengeance and Trepov’s vindictiveness, the power of the tsar is disintegrating apace. This is to be seen in the provinces, in Finland, and in St. Petersburg; it is apparent in places where the people are the most downtrodden and the least developed politically, in the marginal areas with a non-Russian population, as well as in the capital, which promises to become a scene of the revolution’s greatest drama.

Indeed, compare the following two telegraph messages, which we quote from a Vienna bourgeois liberal newspaper[4]: “Tver. The premises of the Zemstvo were attacked by a mob in the presence of Governor Sleptsov. After a siege the mob set fire to the building. The firemen refused to extinguish the flames, while the troops stood by without taking any measures to curb the ruffians.” (Of course we cannot vouch for the absolute accuracy of this particular report, but it is an undeniable fact that similar things, and others a hundred times worse, are being perpetrated on all sides.) “Kazan. The police have been disarmed by the people. Arms taken from the police have been distributed among the population. A people’s militia has been set up. Perfect order prevails.”

Is not a comparison of these two reports instructive? In one case there is vengeance, atrocities, and pogroms; in the other, the tsar’s authority has been overturned and a victorious uprising organised.

Finland presents a similar picture, only on a far greater scale. The tsar’s viceroy has been expelled, and the lackey senators removed by the people. The Russian gendarmes are being driven out and are trying to take reprisals (a telegram from Haparanda, dated November 4, N. S.) by damaging railway communications. In such cases armed detachments of the people’s militia are sent to arrest the disorderly gendarmes. A meeting of Tornio citizens has decided   to organise the import of weapons and free literature. Thou sands and tens of thousands in town and countryside are enrolling in the Finnish militia. The Russian garrison of a strong fortress (Sveaborg) are reported to have expressed sympathy with the insurgents, and turned the fortress over to the people’s militia. Finland is rejoicing. The tsar is making concessions. He is prepared to summon the Diet, has repealed the unlawful manifesto of February 15, 1899, and has accepted the “resignation” of the senators ousted by the people. Meanwhile, Novoye Vremya is advising the government to blockade all Finnish ports, and to crush the uprising by armed force. According to foreign press reports, numerous Russian troops have been quartered in Helsingfors (it cannot be ascertained to what extent they can be relied on to crush the uprising). There are reports that Russian warships have entered the inner harbour of Helsingfors.

St. Petersburg. Here Trepov is wreaking vengeance for the rejoicings of the revolutionary people (over the concessions wrested from the tsar). Atrocities are being perpetrated by the Cossacks, and massacres are on the increase. The police are openly organising the Black Hundreds. The workers intended to hold a gigantic demonstration on Sunday, November 5 (October 23), to pay public homage to their heroes, their comrades who had fallen in the struggle for liberty. For its part, the government prepared a gigantic blood-bath. It was preparing for St. Petersburg something similar to what had already taken place on a smaller scale in Moscow (the massacre at the funeral of Bauman, the workers’ leader). Trepov wanted to take advantage of the situation before his forces were weakened by part of them being dispatched to Finland, and while the workers were preparing to demonstrate, not to fight.

The St. Petersburg workers saw through the enemy’s scheme, and the demonstration was called off. The workers’ committee decided that the final battle should not take place at the time Trepov deigned to choose. The committee were quite right in thinking that a number of reasons (including the uprising in Finland) made postponement of the struggle disadvantageous to Trepov and advantageous to us. Meanwhile arming of the people has proceeded apace, and propaganda in the army has met with remarkable   success. A hundred and fifty ratings of the 14th and the 18th Naval Depots are stated to have been arrested, and during the last week and a half ninety-two reports are said to have been submitted concerning sympathy for revolutionaries shown by officers. Handbills calling on soldiers to go over to the side of the people are being distributed even among patrols “guarding” St. Petersburg. Freedom of the press, which was promised within limits prescribed by Trepov, is being extended to a greater degree by the mighty arm of the revolutionary proletariat. According to messages in the foreign press, only those St. Petersburg newspapers came out on Saturday, October 22 (November 4), which accepted the workers’ demand that they ignore the censorship. Two St. Petersburg German-language papers that wished to remain “loyal” (i.e., servile) could not come out. From the moment the St. Petersburg strikers’ union, but not Trepov, began to determine the bounds of legality, the “legal” papers began speaking up in extremely bold tones. “The strike has been only suspended,” reads a cable to the Neue Freie Presse of October 23 (November 5). “The strike, it is reported, will be resumed when the time for a final blow at the old order arrives. Concessions no longer make the least impression on the proletariat. The situation is highly dangerous. Revolutionary ideas are gaining an increasing hold on the masses. The working class feels that it is master of the situation. Those who are afraid of impending disaster are beginning to leave the city [St. Petersburg].”

The denouement is at hand. The victory of the people’s uprising is not far off now. Revolutionary Social-Democracy’s slogans are being put into effect with unexpected rapidity. Let Trepov go on dashing to and fro between revolutionary Finland and revolutionary St. Petersburg, between the revolutionary marginal areas and the revolutionary provinces. Let him try to choose a single safe place for untrammelled military operations. Let the tsar’s Manifesto be circulated more widely; let the news of the events in the revolutionary centres become more widespread—that will win us new supporters, and bring fresh vacillation and disintegration into the dwindling ranks of the tsar’s adherents.

The all-Russia political strike has performed its tasks excellently by furthering the uprising, by inflicting frightful   wounds on tsarism, and by frustrating the disgusting comedy of the disgusting State Duma. The general rehearsal is over. The indications are that we are now on the eve of the drama itself. Witte is wallowing in a spate of words, while Trepov is wallowing in rivers of blood. The tsar is running short of promises he might yet make, while Trepov is running short of Black-Hundred forces he might send into the final battle. The ranks of the army of revolution are swelling all the time. Its forces are being steeled in individual engagements, and the red flag is rising higher and higher over the new Russia.


[1] See pp. 394-95 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] See p. 428 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] Lenin is referring to Izvestia Sovieta Rabochikh Deputatov (Bulletin of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies)—official organ of the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, published from October 17 (30) till December 14 (27), 1905. It was made up and printed by the workers at the print-shops of various bourgeois newspapers. In all, ten issues appeared, the eleventh being confiscated by the police while it was being printed.

[4] The reference is to the Neue Frete Presse, a liberal-bourgeois newspaper, published in Vienna from 1864 onwards.


Between Two Battles

Proletary, No. 26, November 25 (12), 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9, pages 457-466.

Geneva, November 15 (N. S.)

The big battle in which the proletariat has engaged tsarism is over. The all-Russia political strike seems to have come to an end almost everywhere. The enemy has made the biggest withdrawal on one flank (Finland), but he has dug himself in on the other (martial law in Poland). In the centre, the enemy has fallen back very little, but holds a strong new position, and is preparing for an even more bloody and more decisive battle. Clashes are taking place along the whole battle line. Both sides are hastening to make good their losses, rally their ranks, get properly organised, and arm themselves as best they can for the next battle.

Such, approximately, is the state of things at present in the theatre of the struggle for freedom. Civil war naturally differs from other kinds of warfare in that the forms of the fighting are far more varied, the strength and the composition of the combatants on both sides are harder to estimate and fluctuate far more, and attempts to conclude peace, or at least an armistice do not originate in those engaged in the fighting, and are most fantastically interwoven with the pattern of military operations.

Lulls in the fighting have a most encouraging effect on the initiative of the “conciliators”. Witte is doing his utmost to pose as such a “conciliator”, both directly and through the agency of the servile press, and is covering up in every possible way his role of tsarism’s diplomatic servant. To the delight of naïve liberals, a government report has acknowledged the participation of the police in Black-Hundred outrages. Press organs that fawn upon the government (Novoye Vremya, for example) are making a pretence of condemning the extremes the reactionaries have gone to, and, of course, the “extremes” of the revolutionaries. Displeased   with the petty stakes involved, extremist representatives of reaction (Pobedonostsev, Vladimir, and Trepov) are leaving the scene. It is partly because of their obtuseness that these people do not realise the importance of this game for the preservation of the greatest power for tsarism, another reason is that they assume—and rightly so— that it is more convenient for them to acquire a free hand, and take part in the same game, but only in another role— that of “independent” fighters for the might of the monarchy, the role of “free” avengers for the “insulted national sentiments of the Russian people”—insulted by the revolutionaries— or, in other words, the role of leaders of the Black Hundreds.

Witte is rubbing his hands in delight at the sight of the “great” successes of the amazingly shrewd game he is playing. He is preserving liberalism’s innocence by pressing ministerial posts upon leaders of the Constitutional-Democrats (even upon Milyukov, as telegraphed by the Temps correspondent), by addressing in his own handwriting a letter to Mr. Struve with an invitation to return to Russia, and by trying to present himself as a “White”, who is equally far removed from both the “Reds” and the “Blacks”. At the same time, he is acquiring, together with innocence, a tidy amount of capital, for he remains head of the tsar’s government, which retains full power and is only awaiting a suitable opportunity to go over to a decisive offensive against the revolution.

Our qualification of Witte, as given in Proletary, is being borne out in full. He is a minister-buffoon in his methods, “talents”, and the ends to which he has been put. With regard to the real forces till now at his disposal, he is a minister of the liberal bureaucracy, since he has not y9t been able to strike a deal with the liberal bourgeoisie. True, the haggling is making gradual progress. The chafferers are bawling out their rock-bottom prices, calling it a deal, but putting off the final agreement until the Zemstvo Congress, which is to meet in a few days, makes its decisions. Witte is trying to win over the bourgeois intelligentsia by extending their voting rights in the Duma elections, providing educational qualificalions and even making paltry concessions to the workers (who are supposed to content themselves   with 21st place in the system of indirect elections “on behalf of the workers”!!); he avers that if only the Duma meets, and if only that body—or at least a minority in it— comes out for universal suffrage, his support for this demand will be fully ensured.

Till now the haggling has led nowhere. The two sides are conducting their talks with no regard for those who are doing the actual fighting, and this cannot but paralyse the efforts of our “honest brokers”. For their own part, the liberal bourgeoisie would willingly accept the State Duma— they were willing to accept it even in a consultative” variant, and already in September rejected an active boycott. However, the essence of the matter is that the revolution has made a tremendous stride forward in the two months that have since elapsed, the proletariat has given important battle, and at once scored its first big victory. The State Duma, that vile and despicable travesty of popular representation, has been buried. It was shattered by the first blow delivered by the mighty onslaught of the proletariat. In the space of a few weeks, the revolution has shown up the short-sightedness of those who wanted to enter the Bulygin Duma, or support those who wanted to do so. The tactics of an active boycott received the most striking confirmation that the tactics of political parties can receive in the thick of a struggle—confirmation in deed, verification in the course of events, recognition as an indubitable fact of that which but yesterday seemed to short-sighted people and cowardly chafferers to be too bold a “leap into the unknown.

The working class has given a good fright to the Duma comedians, such a fright that the latter are afraid to set foot on this rickety and unreliable bridge, are afraid even to test the strength of the “latest”, hasty repairs made by the state botchers. The roles have changed somewhat. Only yesterday Comrades Parvus, Cherevanin and Martov wanted to obtain a revolutionary pledge from those who were about to mount this bridge—a pledge that, in the Duma, they would demand a constituent assembly. Today the place of these Social-Democrats has been taken by Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte, President of the Council of Ministers, who is already giving a “revolutionary” pledge to support   any deputy to the Duma, even if he is the only one, who will demand that a constituent assembly be convoked.

So disgraceful was the showing the liberal bourgeois— the Constitutional-Democrats—made the first time that they were unwilling to repeat the unpleasant experience. They had already got the “election campaign” under way, had our good parliamentarians of Osvobozhdeniye and Russkiye Vedomosti; they had already elected a central commit tee to give guidance to that campaign; they had even set up a law office to advise the public as to whether the Rural Superintendent has the right to disperse peasant electors on his own initiative, or whether he must first ask the governor for permission. In a word, they were making ready to lay themselves down to sleep on the sofa graciously provided to all Russian Oblomovs,[1] when suddenly ... when suddenly the proletariat squared its shoulders and impolitely shook off the Duma and the entire Duma campaign. It is therefore not surprising that the liberal bourgeois are now disinclined to give credence to “revolutionary pledges” made by the suave Count. It is not surprising that they are even less inclined to accept the hand the Count is holding out to them, that they are more and more often glancing leftwards, though their mouths are literally watering at the sight of the wonderful iced cake known as the Duma.

Without any doubt, Witte’s talks with leaders of the liberal bourgeoisie are of serious political significance, but only in the respect that they reconfirm the affinity of the would-be-liberal bureaucracy to those who are defending the interests of capital—only in the respect that they once again show who is out to bury the Russian revolution, and how. These negotiations and deals, however, are not succeeding, for the simple reason that the revolution lives on. The revolution is not only alive, but it is stronger than ever, and is very, very far from having said its last word; it is only beginning to deploy all the forces of the proletariat and the revolutionary peasantry. That is why the buffoon-minister’s talks and deals with the bourgeoisie are so point less; they cannot acquire serious significance at the height of the struggle, when the hostile forces are confronting each other between two decisive battles.

At such a time, the policy of the revolutionary proletariat,   which is conscious of its historic aims, is striving not only for the political but also for the economic emancipation of the working people, without, however, forgetting its socialist aims—the policy of the proletariat must be most firm, clear and definite. To the vicious lies of the minister-buffoon and the obtuse illusions of the liberal and bourgeois democrats regarding a constitution, it must contrapose, more resolutely than ever before, its slogan of the over throw of the tsar’s rule by means of an armed uprising of the whole people. The revolutionary proletariat abhors all cant, and is fighting relentlessly against all and any attempts to obscure the actual state of affairs. In present-day talk about a constitutional regime there is not a single word but that reeks of cant, and not a single sentence that is not a repetition of the old bureaucratic falsehood aimed at saving some remnant or other of the autocratic, serf-owning Russia.

There is talk of liberty, of popular representation; some hold forth on a constituent assembly, but what is being constantly, hourly and minutely lost sight of is that, without serious guarantees, all these fine things are but hollow phrases. A serious guarantee can be provided only by a victorious rising of the people, only by the complete domination of the armed proletariat and the peasantry over all representatives of tsarist power, who, under pressure by the people, have retreated a pace but are far from having yielded to the people, and far from having been overthrown by the people. Until that aim is achieved there can be no real liberty, no genuine popular representation, or a really constituent assembly with the power to set up a new order in Russia.

What is a constitution? A sheet of paper with the people’s rights recorded on it. What is the guarantee of these rights being really recognised? It lies in the strength of those classes of the people that have become aware of those rights, and have been able to win them. Let us then not allow words to delude us—that befits only babblers for bourgeois democracy—let us not for a moment forget that strength is proved only by victory in the struggle, and that we are as yet far from having achieved complete victory. Let us not believe handsome phrases, for we are living through times when an open struggle is going on, when all phrases and promises at once are tested in action, when words? manifestoes,   and promises of a constitution are being used to fool the people, weaken its forces, scatter its ranks, and induce it to disarm. Nothing can be more false than such promises and phrases, and it is with pride that we can say that the proletariat of Russia has matured for the struggle both against brute force and against liberal-constitutional cant. This is borne out by the appeal made by the railwaymen, recently reported in the foreign press (unfortunately we are not in possession of the original). “Collect arms, comrades,” the appeal says, “organise yourselves for the struggle tirelessly, with multiplied energy. It is only by arming and rallying our ranks that we shall be able to defend what has been won, and achieve complete satisfaction of our demands. The time will come when we shall again rise as one man in a new and still more stubborn struggle for full liberty.”

Such are our sole guarantees. Such is the only genuine constitution of a free Russia! Indeed, consider the Manifesto of October 17 and the facts of Russian life: can anything be more instructive than the contrast between this recognition of a constitution by the tsar on paper, and the actual “constitution”, the actual application of the tsar’s power? On the face of it, the tsar’s Manifesto holds out promises of an unequivocally constitutional character. But we have been shown the price of these promises. The person of the individual has been declared inviolate, yet those who are not to the liking of the autocracy remain in prison, in exile or in banishment. Freedom of assembly has been declared, yet the universities, which were the first to create actual freedom of assembly in Russia, have been closed, and their entrances are under police and military guard. The press is free, so therefore the newspaper Novaya Zhizn,[2] spokesman for the interests of the workers, has been confiscated for having published the programme of the Social-Democrats. The places of Black-Hundred ministers have been taken by ministers who have declared that they stand for the rule of law, yet the Black Hundreds are “operating” ever more intensely in the streets with the aid of the police and the military, and citizens of a free Russia who are not to the liking of the autocracy are being shot, beaten up and mauled freely and with impunity.

With such edifying examples before one’s eyes, one must   be blind, or else blinded by class selfishness, to attach any really serious significance at the present time to whether Witte promises universal suffrage, or whether the tsar will sign a manifesto on the convocation of a “constituent” assembly. Even if these “acts” were to take place, they would not decide the outcome of the struggle; nor would they create actual freedom of election agitation, or ensure that a popular assembly of representatives would have a genuinely constituent character. A constituent assembly should give legal shape and parliamentary form to the structure of a new Russia, but before the victory of the new over the old can be consolidated, and to give due form to this victory, actual victory has to be won, the power of the old institutions has to be broken, and the latter have to be swept away, the old edifice has to be levelled to the ground, and the possibility destroyed of any serious resistance on the part of the police and its gangs.

Full freedom of election, and full power for a constituent assembly can be ensured only by the complete victory of the uprising, the overthrow of tsarist rule, and its replacement by a provisional revolutionary government. To this end all our efforts must be directed; the organisation and preparation of an uprising must absolutely stand in the foreground. Only in the measure in which the rising is victorious and in which victory leads to the decisive destruction of the enemy—only in that measure will an assembly of the people’s representatives be a popular one not only on paper, and constituent not only in name.

Down with all cant, all falseness, and all equivocation! War has been declared, fighting has flared up, and what we are now experiencing is but a lull between two battles. There is no half-way. The party of the “Whites” is sheer deception. He who is not for revolution is one of the Black Hundreds. It is not only we that say so. The designation has not been devised by us. The blood-stained stones cry out these words in the streets of Moscow and Odessa, in Kronstadt and the Caucasus, in Poland and Tomsk.

He who is not for revolution is one of the Black Hundreds. He who does not wish to put up with Russian freedom becoming freedom for the police to use violence, subornation, vodka, and treacherous attacks upon unarmed people,   must arm himself and immediately get ready for battle. We must win genuine freedom, not promises of freedom, not scraps of paper about freedom. We must achieve not merely humiliation of the tsar’s power, not only recognition of the people’s rights by that power, but the destruction of that power, since the power of the tsar means the power of the Black Hundreds over Russia. That conclusion does not belong to us either. It has been drawn by the facts of life itself; it is the lesson taught by the events of the times. It is the voice of those who till now have stood aside from any revolutionary doctrine and dare not make a single free step or say a single free word in the street, at a meeting, or at home, without running the imminent and terrible risk of being crushed, tormented or torn to pieces by some gang of adherents of the tsar.

Finally, the revolution has obliged this “popular force” to come into the open—the force of the tsar’s adherents. It has revealed to the general view whom the tsar’s rule banks on, and who really supports that rule. There you have it, this army of ferocious policemen, martinet-trained, half witted soldiers, priests run wild, brutal shopkeepers, and the vodka-dazed riffraff of capitalist society. It is they that now reign in Russia, with the connivance or direct support of nine-tenths of all our governmental institutions. Here it is—the Russian Vendée,”[3] which resembles the French Vendée in the same measure that the “lawful” monarch Nicholas Romanov resembles the adventurer Napoleon. Our Vendée has not yet said its last word either—make no mistake on that score, citizens. It, too, is just beginning to deploy its forces properly. It, too, has its “reserves of combustibles”, accumulated during centuries of ignorance, oppression, serfdom, and police omnipotence. It combines within itself unmitigated Asiatic backwardness with all the loathsome features of the refined methods used to exploit and stultify those that are most downtrodden and tormented by the civilisation of the capitalist cities, and been reduced to conditions worse than those of wild beasts. This Vendée will not vanish at any manifesto from the tsar, or messages from the Synod, or at changes in the upper or lower ranks of the bureaucracy. It can be smashed only by the strength of an organised and enlightened proletariat, for only the proletariat,   exploited as it is, is capable of rousing all that stand below it, awaken In them a sense that they are human beings and citizens, and show them the path of deliverance from all exploitation. Only the proletariat can create the nucleus of a mighty revolutionary army, mighty both in its ideals, its discipline, its organisation, and its heroism In the struggle, a heroism no Vendée can stand up to.

Guided by Social-Democracy, the proletariat has every where begun forming that revolutionary army. Its ranks should be joined by all who do not wish to be in the army of the Black Hundreds. Civil war knows no neutrals. Those who stand aside in it are thereby rendering support, by being passive, to the jubilant Black Hundreds. The armed forces, too, are dividing into a Red army and a Black army. Only a fortnight ago we wrote of the speed with which they are being drawn into the struggle for freedom. The example of Kronstadt was ample proof of this. The government of the scoundrel Witte may have put down the Kronstadt mutiny[4]; it is now shooting down hundreds of sailors who have again raised the red flag—but that flag will fly much higher, for it is the flag of all working people and all the exploited the world over. Let the servile press, like Novoye Vremya, bawl about the troops being neutral; this foul and hypocritical lie will vanish like smoke at every misdeed of the Black Hundreds. The troops cannot be, have never been, and will never be neutral. Today, they are rapidly splitting up into troops that stand for freedom, and troops that stand for the Black Hundreds. We shall accelerate the process. We shall brand all those who are Irresolute and vacillating, all those who balk at the Idea of the immediate formation of a people’s militia (according to the latest reports in the foreign press, the Municipal Council of Moscow has rejected plans for the creation of a people’s militia). We shall multiply our agitation among the masses, and our organisational activities to set up revolutionary detachments. Then the army of the conscious proletariat will merge with the Red detachments of the Russian fighting forces—and then we shall see whether the police’s Black Hundreds will be able to vanquish all the new, young and free Russia!


[1] Oblomov—the main character in the novel Oblomov by the writer I. Goncharov. The name has come to signify routine stagnation and incapacity for action.

[2] Novaga Zhizn (New Life)—the first legal Bolshevik newspaper, published as a St. Petersburg daily from October 27 (November 9) to December 3 (16), 1905. Lenin took over the editorship upon his return to Russia in early November. Novaya Zhizn was the actual central organ of the R.S.D.L.P. Closely associated with the paper were V. Vorovsky, M. Olminsky, and A. Lunacharsky, while Maxim Gorky contributed articles and gave the paper financial aid.

No. 9 of the paper, which appeared on November 10 (23), carried Lenin’s first article “On the Reorganisation of the Party”, which was followed by more than ten articles from his pen. The paper’s circulation reached 80,000, though it was constantly persecuted. Of the 27 issues, 15 were confiscated. It was banned after publication of No. 27 on December 2 (15), No. 28 coming out illegally.

[3] Vendée—a department in France where, during the French bourgeois revolution, a counter-revolutionary insurrection of the ignorant and reactionary peasantry took place, directed against the revolutionary Convention. Staged under religious slogans, the uprising was directed by the counter-revolutionary clergy and landlords.

[4] The mutiny of soldiers and naval ratings in Kronstadt began on October 26 (November 8), 1905. The following demands were put forward by the rebels: convening of a constituent assembly on the basis of universal suffrage; establishment of a democratic republic; freedom of speech, assembly and association; improvement of the conditions of soldiers and ratings. The uprising was put down on October 28 (November 10).


Our Tasks and the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies

A Letter to the Editor[2]

Written on November 2-4 (15-17), 1905

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, pages 17-28.


Comrades, the question of the significance and role of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies is now immediately facing the St. Petersburg Social-Democrats and the entire proletariat of the capital. I take up my pen to set out certain ideas on this burning issue; but before doing so, I consider it absolutely necessary to make a most important reservation. I am speaking as an onlooker. I still have to write from that accursed “afar”, from the hateful “abroad” of an exile. And it is all but impossible for anyone to form a correct opinion of this concrete, practical matter if he has not been in St. Petersburg, if he has never seen the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies or exchanged views with comrades on the spot. Therefore I leave it to the discretion of the editorial board to publish or not to publish this letter, written by an uninformed person. I reserve the right to revise my opinion when I have at last had an opportunity of acquainting myself with the matter from something more than “paper” information.

And now to get down to business. It seems to me that Comrade Radin is wrong in raising the question, in No. 5 of Novaya Zhizn[3] (I have seen only five issues of the virtual Central Organ of our R.S.D.L.P.): the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies or the Party? I think that it is wrong to put the question in this way and that the decision must certainly be: both the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies and the Party. The only question—and a highly important one—is how to divide, and how to combine, the tasks of the Soviet and those of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.

I think it would be inadvisable for the Soviet to adhere wholly to any one party. As this opinion will probably surprise the reader, I shall proceed straightway to explain my views (stating again and most emphatically that it is the opinion of an onlooker).

The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies came into being through the general strike, in connection with the strike, and for its aims. Who led the strike and brought it to a victorious close? The whole proletariat, which includes non-Social-Democrats—fortunately a minority. What were the aims of the strike? They were both economic and political. The economic aims concerned the whole proletariat, all workers, and partly even all working people, not the wage-workers alone. The political aims concerned all the people, or rather all the peoples, of Russia. These aims were to free all the peoples of Russia from the yoke of the autocracy, survivals of serfdom, a rightless status, and police tyranny.

Let us go further. Should the proletariat continue its economic struggle? By all means; there is no disagreement over this point among Social-Democrats, nor could there be any. Should this struggle be conducted only by the Social-Democrats or only under the Social-Democratic banner? I do not think so; I still hold the view I have expressed (in entirely different, now outdated conditions, it is true) in What Is To Be Done?, namely, that it is inadvisable to limit the composition of the trade unions, and hence of those taking part in the trade union, economic struggle, to members of the Social-Democratic Party.[1] It seems to me that the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, as an organisation representing all occupations, should strive to include deputies from all industrial, professional and office workers, domestic servants, farm labourers, etc., from all who want and are able to fight in common for a better life for the whole working people, from all who have at least an elementary degree of political honesty, from all but the Black Hundreds. As for us Social-Democrats, we shall do our best, first, to have all our Party organisations represented on all trade unions as fully as possible and, secondly, to use the struggle we are waging jointly with our fellow-proletarians, irrespective of their views, for the tire less, steadfast advocacy of the only consistent, the only truly proletarian world outlook, Marxism. To propagate it, to carry on this propaganda and agitation work, we shall by all means preserve, strengthen and expand our completely   independent, consistently principled class party of the class-conscious proletariat, i.e., the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. Every step in the proletarian struggle, if inseparably linked with our Social-Democratic, methodical and organised, activities, will bring the masses of the working class in Russia and the Social-Democrats ever closer together.

This aspect of the problem, concerning the economic struggle, is comparatively simple and hardly gives rise to any particular disagreement. But the other aspect, concerning political leadership and the political struggle, is a different matter. And yet, at the risk of surprising the reader still more, I must say here and now that in this respect, too, I think it inadvisable to demand that the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies should accept the Social-Democratic programme and join the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. It seems to me that to lead the political struggle, both the Soviet (reorganised in a sense to be discussed forth with) and the Party are, to an equal degree, absolutely necessary.

I may be wrong, but I believe (on the strength of the incomplete and only “paper” information at my disposal) that politically the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies should be regarded as the embryo of a provisional revolutionary government. I think the Soviet should proclaim itself the provisional revolutionary government of the whole of Russia as early as possible, or should set up a provisional revolutionary government (which would amount to the same thing, only in another form).

The political struggle has just reached a stage of development where the forces of revolution and counter-revolution are roughly equal and where the tsar’s government is already powerless to suppress the revolution, while the revolution is not yet strong enough to sweep away the Black-Hundred government. The decay of the tsar’s government is complete. But even as it rots alive, it is contaminating Russia with the poison of its putrefaction. It is absolutely necessary, in contrast to the decay of the tsarist, counter revolutionary forces, to organise the revolutionary forces at once, immediately, without the slightest delay. This organisation has been making splendid progress, particularly   of late. This is evident from the formation of contingents of a revolutionary army (defence squads, etc.), the rapid development of Social-Democratic mass organisations of the proletariat, the establishment of peasants’ committees by the revolutionary peasantry, and the first free meetings of our proletarian brothers in sailor’s or soldier’s uniform, who are paving for themselves a strenuous and difficult but true and bright way to freedom and to socialism.

What is lacking now is the unification of all the genuinely revolutionary forces, of all the forces that are already operating in revolutionary fashion. What is lacking is an all-Russian political centre, a fresh, living centre that is strong because it has struck deep roots in the people, a centre that enjoys the absolute confidence of the masses, that possesses tireless revolutionary energy and is closely linked with the organised revolutionary and socialist parties. Such a centre can be established only by the revolutionary proletariat, which has brilliantly carried through a political strike, which is now organising an armed uprising of the whole people, and which has won half freedom for Russia and will yet win full freedom for her.

The question may be asked: Why cannot the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies become the embryo of such a centre? Is it because there are not only Social-Democrats in the Soviet? But this is an advantage, not a disadvantage. We have been speaking all the time of the need of a militant alliance of Social-Democrats and revolutionary bourgeois democrats. We have been speaking of it, and the workers have actually done it. It is splendid that they have done it. When I read in Novaya Zhizn a letter from worker comrades who belong to the Socialist-Revolutionary Party,[4] and who protest against the Soviet being included in one of the parties, I could not help thinking that those worker comrades were right in many practical respects. It goes without saying that our views differ from theirs, and that a merger of Social-Democrats and Socialist-Revolutionaries is out of the question, but then there is no suggestion of it. We are deeply convinced that those workers who share Socialist-Revolutionary views and yet are fighting within the ranks of the proletariat are inconsistent, for they retain non-proletarian views while championing a truly proletarian cause. Their inconsistency   we must combat, from the ideological point of view, with the greatest determination, but in so doing we must see to it that the revolutionary cause, a vital, burning, living cause that is recognised by all and has brought all honest people together, does not suffer. We still consider the views of the Socialist-Revolutionaries to be revolutionary-democratic and not socialist. But for the sake of our militant aims, we must march together while fully retaining Party independence, and the Soviet i, and must be, a militant organisation. To expel devoted and honest revolutionary democrats at a time when we are carrying out a democratic revolution would be absurd, it would be folly. We shall have no difficulty in overcoming their inconsistency, for our views are supported by history itself, are supported at every step by reality. If our pamphlet has not taught them Social-Democracy, our revolution will. To be sure, those workers who remain Christians, who believe in God, and those intellectuals who defend mysticism (fie upon them!), are inconsistent too; but we shall not expel them from the Soviet or even from the Party, for it is our firm conviction that the actual struggle, and work within the ranks, will convince all elements possessing vitality that Marxism is the truth, and will cast aside all those who lack vitality. And we do not for one moment doubt our strength, the overwhelming strength of Marxists, in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.

To my mind, the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, as a revolutionary centre providing political leadership, is not too broad an organisation but, on the contrary, a much too narrow one. The Soviet must proclaim itself the provisional revolutionary government, or form such a government, and must by all means enlist to this end the participation of new deputies not only from the workers, but, first of all, from the sailors and soldiers, who are everywhere seeking freedom; secondly, from the revolutionary peasantry, and thirdly, from the revolutionary bourgeois intelligentsia. The Soviet must select a strong nucleus for the provisional revolutionary government and reinforce it with representatives of all revolutionary parties and all revolutionary (but, of course, only revolutionary and not liberal) democrats. We are not afraid of so broad and mixed a composition—indeed,   we want it, for unless the proletariat and the peasantry unite and unless the Social-Democrats and revolutionary democrats form a fighting alliance, the great Russian revolution cannot be fully successful. It will be a temporary alliance that is to fulfil clearly defined immediate practical tasks, while the more important interests of the socialist proletariat, its fundamental interests and ultimate goals, will be steadfastly upheld by the independent and consistently principled Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.

The objection may be raised that if the composition is broad and mixed, it will be hardly possible to establish a centre solid and united enough to exercise practical leadership. I shall answer that with a question: What are the lessons of the October revolution?[5] Did not the strike committee prove in fact to be the generally recognised centre, the real government? And would not that committee readily admit into its ranks representatives of that section of the unions and of the “Union of Unions”[6] which is really revolutionary and really supports the proletariat in its relentless struggle for freedom? The essential thing is that the main, purely proletarian body of the provisional revolutionary government should be strong and that for, say, hundreds of workers, sailors, soldiers and peasants there should be dozens of deputies from the unions of the revolutionary intelligentsia. I believe the proletarians will soon be able in practice to establish the proper ratio.

The objection may be raised that it is hardly possible to advance for such a government a programme complete enough to ensure victory for the revolution and broad enough to make possible a fighting alliance free from all reservations, vagueness, reticence or hypocrisy. I shall answer: such a programme has already been advanced in full by reality. It is already recognised in principle by all the politically- conscious elements of absolutely all the classes and sections of the population, including even Orthodox priests. The complete realisation of political freedom, which the tsar has promised so hypocritically, should come first in this programme. The repeal of all legislation restricting freedom of speech, conscience, assembly, the press, association and strikes, and the abolition of all institutions   limiting these liberties, should be immediate and real, they should be guaranteed and actually put into practice. The programme should provide for the convocation of a national constituent assembly that would enjoy the support of a free and armed people and have full authority and strength to establish a new order in Russia. It should provide for the arming of the people. The necessity of arming the people is realised by all. What remains to be done is to complete and unify the work already begun and being carried on every where. The programme of the provisional revolutionary government should also provide for the immediate granting of real and full freedom to the nationalities oppressed by the tsarist monster. A free Russia has been born. The proletariat is at its post. It will not allow heroic Poland to be crushed again. It will itself go into action; it will fight both for a free Russia and a free Poland, not only by peaceful strikes, but by force of arms as well. The programme should provide for the eight-hour working day, which the workers are already “seizing”, and for other urgent measures to curb capitalist exploitation.. Lastly, the programme must necessarily include transfer of all the land to the peasants, support for every revolutionary measure that the peasantry is carrying out to take away all the land (without, of course, supporting the illusion of “equalised” small land tenure), and the establishment everywhere of revolutionary peasants’ committees, which have already begun to take shape spontaneously.

Who but the Black Hundreds and the Black-Hundred government will deny today the pressing character and practical indispensability of this programme? In fact, even bourgeois liberals are willing to accept it in theory! As for us, we must put it into practice with the help of the forces of the revolutionary people; to do this, we must unite those forces as speedily as possible through the proletariat pro claiming a provisional revolutionary government. True, only an armed uprising can really form the basis of such a government. But the projected government will in fact be the organ of this growing and already maturing uprising. The formation of a revolutionary government could not be initiated in practice until the insurrection had assumed proportions evident to all, proportions that were, so to   speak, tangible to all. But now is the time to unify this uprising politically, to organise it, to give it a clear-cut programme, to turn all the contingents of the revolutionary army, which are already numerous and are growing fast in strength, into the mainstay and into instruments of this new, truly free and truly popular government. The struggle is imminent, the uprising inevitable, and the decisive battle close at hand. It is time to issue a direct challenge, to set the organised power of the proletariat against the decaying tsarist regime, to address to the whole people a manifesto on behalf of the provisional revolutionary government constituted by the foremost workers.

It is now obvious to us that among the revolutionary people there can be found persons capable of accomplishing this great task, persons thoroughly devoted to the revolution, and more important still, persons of tireless, inexhaustible energy. It is now obvious to us that there exist the elements of a revolutionary army, which will back this cause, and that all who are fair-minded and alert and politically-conscious in every class of the population will turn away completely from tsarism when the new government declares a decisive war on the dying semi-feudal, police state of Russia.

Citizens—it would be proper to say in that declaration of war, in that manifesto of the revolutionary government— citizens, make your choice! There we have the whole of old Russia, all the sinister forces of exploitation, oppression, and violence against man. And here we have a union of free citizens who have equal rights in all affairs of the state. There we have a union of exploiters, of the wealthy, of policemen. And here we have a union of all working people, of all the vital forces of the people, of all fair-minded intellectuals. There we have the Black Hundreds, here we have the organised workers fighting for freedom, for education, for socialism.

Make your choice, citizens! Here is our programme, which has long since been put forward by the whole people. These are our aims in the name of which we declare war on the Black-Hundred government. We are not trying to impose on the people any innovations thought up by us; we are merely taking the initiative in bringing about that without   which it is impossible to live in Russia any longer, as is acknowledged generally and unanimously. We do not shut ourselves off from the revolutionary people but submit to their judgement every step and every, decision we take. We rely fully and solely on the free initiative of the working masses themselves. We unite absolutely all revolutionary parties, and we call into our ranks deputies from every group of the population that is willing to fight for freedom, for our programme, which guarantees the elementary rights and meets the elementary needs of the people. In particular, we hold out our hand to our worker comrades in soldier’s uniform and to our peasant brothers, so that we may fight together to the end against the yoke of the landlords and the bureaucrats, for land and freedom.

Prepare for the decisive struggle, citizens! We will not allow the Black-Hundred government to use violence against Russia. We will not be deluded by the replacement of a few bureaucrats or by the resignation of a few police officers while the whole mass of Black-Hundred police retains the power to kill, plunder and commit outrages against the people. Let the liberal bourgeois stoop to pleading with that Black-Hundred government. The Black Hundreds laugh when anyone threatens them with trial in the very same old tsarist court by the very same old tsarist officials. We shall order our army units to arrest the Black-Hundred heroes who fuddle ignorant people with vodka and corrupt them; we shall commit all those monsters, such as the chief of police in Kronstadt, for public, revolutionary trial by the whole people.

Citizens, everyone but the Black Hundreds has turned away from the tsarist government. Rally, then, behind the revolutionary government, stop paying any duties or taxes, and bend all your energies to organise and arm a free people’s militia force. Russia will have genuine freedom only insofar as the revolutionary people gain the upper hand over the forces of the Black-Hundred government. There are not, and cannot be, any neutrals in a civil war. The white-flag party is sheer cowardly hypocrisy. Whoever shies away from the struggle bolsters up Black-Hundred rule. Who is not for the revolution is against the revolution. Who is not a revolutionary is one of the Black Hundreds.

We undertake to rally and train forces for an uprising of the people. Let there not be a trace left of the institutions of tsarist power in Russia by the anniversary of that great day, the Ninth of January.[7] May the spring holiday of the world proletariat find Russia already a free country, with a freely convened constituent assembly of the whole people!

That is how I visualise the development of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies into a provisional revolutionary government. And these first and foremost are the tasks that I would set all our Party organisations, all class-conscious workers, the Soviet itself, the workers’ forthcoming congress in Moscow, and the congress of the Peasant Union.[8]


[1] See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 451-67.—Ed.

[2] “Our Tasks and the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies”—an article appraising the Soviets for the first time as an organ of insurrection and the rudiments of a new revolutionary power. It was written by Lenin early in November 1905 In Stockholm, where he stayed for a while on his way back to Russia from exile. He contributed the article to Novaya Zhizn, which, however, did not publish it. The manuscript was not discovered until the autumn of 1940.

[3] Novaya Zhizn (New Life)—the first legal Bolshevik newspaper, published daily from October 27 (November 9) to December 3 (16), 1905, in St. Petersburg. Lenin became the editor of the paper upon his return to Russia early in November 1905. The paper was the virtual Central Organ of the R.S.D.L.P. V. V. Vorovsky, M. S. Olminsky and A. V. Lunacharsky were closely associated with the paper, and Maxim Gorky contributed articles and appreciable funds.

The paper had a circulation of up to 80,000 though it was constantly persecuted, 15 issues out of 27 being confiscated and destroyed. It was closed by the government after issue No. 27; issue No. 27, which was the last, appeared illegally.

[4] Socialist-Revolutionary Party—a petty-bourgeois party in Russia, which arose at the end of 1901 and beginning of 1902 as a result of the amalgamation of various Narodnik groups and circles (Socialist-Revolutionary Union, Socialist-Revolutionary Party, etc.). The newspaper Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (Revolutionary Russia) (1900-05) and the magazine Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii (Herald of the Russian Revolution) (1901-05) became its official organs. The Socialist-Revolutionaries did not see the class distinctions between the proletarian and the small proprietor They glossed over the class differentiation and contradictions within the peasantry, and rejected the proletariat’s leading role in the revolution. Their views were an eclectic mixture of the ideas of Narodism and revisionism; they tried, as Lenin put it, to patch up “the rents in the Narodnik ideas with bits of fashionable opportunist ’criticism’ of Marxism” (see present edition, Vol. 9, p. 310). The tactics of individual terrorism, which the Socialist-Revolutionaries advocated as the basic method of struggle against the autocracy, did much harm to the revolutionary movement and made it difficult to organise the masses for the revolutionary struggle.

The agrarian programme of the Socialist-Revolutionaries envisaged the abolition of private landownership and transfer of   the land to the village communities on the basis of the “labour principle”, “equalised” tenure, and the development of co-operatives. There was nothing socialist in this programme, which the Socialist-Revolutionaries described as a programme for “socialising the land”.

The Bolshevik Party exposed the Socialist-Revolutionaries’ attempts to pose as socialists; it waged a stubborn struggle against the Socialist-Revolutionaries to gain influence over the peasantry, and revealed the harmful effect which their tactics of individual terrorism had on the working-class movement. At the same time, on definite conditions, the Bolsheviks concluded temporary agreements with the Socialist-Revolutionaries in the struggle against tsarism.

In analysing the Socialist-Revolutionary programme, Lenin showed that if commodity production and private farming on commonly-owned land were preserved, the rule of capital could not he eliminated nor the labouring peasantry delivered from exploitation and ruin. He also showed that co-operatives functioning under capitalist system could not save the small peasant, since they served to enrich the rural bourgeoisie. At the same time Lenin pointed out that the demand for equalised land tenure, while not socialist, was historically progressive, revolutionary-democratic in character, being directed against reactionary landlordism.

The fact that the peasantry did not constitute a homogeneous class accounted for the political and ideological instability of and organisational confusion among the Socialist-Revolutionaries and for their constant wavering between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat. There was a split in the Socialist-Revolutionary Party as early as the period of the first Russian revolution. Its Right wing formed the legal Labour Popular-Socialist Party, which held views close to those of the Cadets; the Left wing became the semi- anarchist league of “Maximalists”. During the Stolypin reaction the Socialist-Revolutionary Party experienced a complete ideological and organisational break-up, and the First World War saw most Socialist-Revolutionaries adopt social-chauvinist views.

After the victory of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1917 the Socialist-Revolutionaries, together with the Mensheviks and Cadets, were the mainstay of the counter-revolutionary bourgeois-landlord Provisional Government, which included leaders of their party, Kerensky, Avksentyev and Chernov. The Socialist-Revolutionary Party refused to support the peasants’ demand for abolishing landlordism, and indeed, advocated its maintenance. Socialist-Revolutionary Ministers of the Provisional Government sent punitive expeditions against the peasants who seized landed estates. Late in November 1917, the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries founded an independent party. To retain their influence among the peasant masses, they recognised Soviet power in form and entered into an agreement with the Bolsheviks, but soon began to fight against Soviet power.

During the years of foreign military intervention and civil war the Socialist-Revolutionaries carried on counter-revolutionary subversive activities, vigorously supported the interventionists   and whiteguard generals, took part in counter-revolutionary plots, and organised terrorist acts against Soviet statesmen and Communist Party leaders. After the Civil War, they continued their activities against the Soviet state within the country and whiteguard émigrés.

[5] The reference is to the all-Russian political strike in October 1905.

[6] The Union of Unions—a political organisation of the liberal-bourgeois intelligentsia. It was founded in May 1905 at the first congress of 14 associations of lawyers, writers, doctors, engineers, teachers, etc. The congress demanded the convocation of a constituent assembly by universal suffrage. In July 1905 the Union declared for boycotting the Bulygin Duma; but before long it abandoned that stand, and decided to take part in the Duma elections. By the end of 1900 the Union had fallen apart.

[7] On January 9, 1905, by order of the tsar, the troops fired on a peaceful demonstration of St. Petersburg unarmed workers who marched with their wives and children to the Winter Palace to present a petition to the tsar describing their intolerable conditions and utter lack of rights. This massacre of unarmed workers started a wave of mass political strikes and demonstrations all over Russia under the slogan “Down with the autocracy!” The events of January 9 marked the beginning of the 1905-07 revolution.

[8] All-Russian Peasant Union—a revolutionary-democratic organisation founded in 1905. Its programme and tactics were elaborated at its first and second congresses, held in Moscow in August and November 1905. The Union demanded political freedom and the immediate convocation of a constituent assembly. It adopted the tactics of boycotting the First State Duma. Its agrarian programme provided for the abolition of private landownership and for transfer of the lands belonging to monasteries, the Church, the Crown and the government to the peasants without compensation. The Union pursued a half-way and erratic policy; while demanding abolition of the landed estates, it agreed to partial compensation of the landlords. An object of police reprisals from the first, it had ceased to exist by the end of 1906.


The Proletariat and the Peasantry[1]

Novaya Zhizn, No. 11, November 12, 1905

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, pages 40-43.

The Congress of the Peasant Union now in session in Moscow once again raises the vital question of the attitude of Social-Democrats to the peasant movement. It has always been a vital question for Russian Marxists when determining their programme and tactics. In the very first draft Programme of the Russian Social-Democrats, printed abroad in 1884 by the Emancipation of Labour group,[2] most serious attention was devoted to the peasant question.

Since then there has not been a single major Marxist work dealing with general questions, or a single Social-Democratic periodical, which has not repeated or developed Marxist views and slogans, or applied them to particular cases.

Today the question of the peasant movement has become vital not only in the theoretical but also in the most direct practical sense. We now have to transform our general slogans into direct appeals by the revolutionary proletariat to the revolutionary peasantry. The time has now come when the peasantry is coming forward as a conscious maker of a new way of life in Russia. And the course and outcome of the great Russian revolution depend in tremendous measure on the growth of the peasants’ political consciousness.

What does the peasantry expect of the revolution? What can the revolution give the peasantry? Anyone active in the political sphere, and especially every class-conscious worker who goes in for politics, not in the sense vulgarised by bourgeois politicians, but in the best sense of the word, must answer these two questions.

The peasantry wants land and freedom. There can be no two opinions on this score. All class-conscious workers   support the revolutionary peasantry with all their might. All class-conscious workers want and are fighting for the peasantry to receive all the land and full freedom. “All the land” means not putting up with any partial concessions and hand-outs; it means reckoning, not on a compromise between the peasantry and the landlords, but on abolition of landed estates. And the party of the class-conscious proletariat, the Social-Democrats, have most vigorously pro claimed this view: at its Third Congress held last May, the R.S.D.L.P. adopted a resolution directly declaring for sup port of the peasants’ revolutionary demands, including confiscation of all privately-owned estates. This resolution clearly shows that the party of the class-conscious workers supports the peasants’ demand for all the land. And in this respect the content of the resolution adopted at the conference of the other half of our Party fully coincides with that of the resolution passed by the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

“Full freedom” means election of officials and other office-holders who administer public and state affairs. “Full freedom” means the complete abolition of a state administration that is not wholly and exclusively responsible to the people, that is not elected by, accountable to, and subject to recall by, the people. “Full freedom” means that it is not the people who should be subordinated to officials, but the officials who should be subordinated to the people.

Of course, not all peasants fighting for land and freedom are fully aware of what their struggle implies, and go. so far as to demand a republic. But for all that, the democratic trend of the peasants’ demands is beyond all doubt. Hence the peasantry can be certain that the proletariat will support these demands. The peasants must know that the red banner which has been raised in the towns is the banner of struggle for the immediate and vital demands, not only of the industrial and agricultural workers, but also of the millions and tens of millions of small tillers of the soil.

Survivals of serfdom in every possible shape and form are to this day a cruel burden on the whole mass of the peasantry, and the proletarians under their red banner have declared war on this burden.

But the red banner means more than proletarian support of the peasants’ demands. It also means the independent demands of the proletariat. It means struggle, not only for land and freedom, but also against all exploitation of man by man, struggle against the poverty of the masses of the people, against the rule of capital. And it is here that we are faced with the second question: what can the revolution give the peasantry? Many sincere friends of the peasants (the Socialist-Revolutionaries, for instance, among them) ignore this question, do not realise its importance. They think it is sufficient to raise and settle the question of what the peasants want, to get the answer: land and freedom. This is a great mistake. Full freedom, election of all officials all the way to the head of the state, will not do away with the rule of capital, will not abolish the wealth of the few and the poverty of the masses. Complete abolition of private landownership, too, will not do away either with the rule of capital or with the poverty of the masses. Even on land belonging to the whole nation, only those with capital of their own, only those who have the implements, live stock, machines, stocks of seed, money in general, etc., will be able to farm independently. As for those who have nothing but their hands to work with, they will inevitably remain slaves of capital even in a democratic republic, even when the land belongs to the whole nation. The idea that “socialisation” of land can be effected without socialisation of capital, the idea that equalised land tenure is possible while capital and commodity economy exist, is a delusion. In nearly all countries of Europe, socialism has experienced periods when this or some similar delusions have been prevalent. The experience of working-class struggle in all countries has shown in practice how dangerous such an error is, and today the socialist proletarians of Europe and America have completely rid themselves of it.

Thus the red banner of the class-conscious workers means, first, that we support with all our might. the peasants’ struggle for full freedom and all the land; secondly, it means that we do not stop at this, but go on further. We are waging, besides the struggle for freedom and land, a fight for socialism. The fight for socialism is a fight against the rule of capital. It is being carried on first and foremost by the   wage-workers, who are directly and wholly dependent on capital. As for the small farmers, some of them own capital themselves, and often themselves exploit workers. Hence not all small peasants join the ranks of fighters for socialism; only those do so who resolutely and consciously side with the workers against capital, with public property against private property.

That is why the Social-Democrats say they are fighting together with the entire peasantry against the landlords and officials, besides which they—the town and village proletarians together—are fighting against capital. The struggle for land and freedom is a democratic struggle. The struggle to abolish the rule of capital is a socialist struggle.

Let us, then, send our warm greetings to the Peasant Union, which has decided to stand together and fight staunchly, selflessly and unswervingly for full freedom and for all the land. These peasants are true democrats. We must explain to them patiently and steadily where their views on the tasks of democracy and socialism are wrong, regarding them as allies with whom we are united by the great common struggle. These peasants are truly revolutionary democrats with whom we must and shall carry on the fight for the complete victory of the present revolution. We are fully in sympathy with the plan to call a general strike and the decision to rise together the next time, with the town workers and all the peasant poor acting in unison. All class-conscious workers will make every effort to help carry out this plan. Yet no alliance, even with the most honest and determined revolutionary democrats, will ever make the proletarians forget their still greater and more important goal, the fight for socialism, for the complete abolition of the rule of capital, for the emancipation of all working people from every kind of exploitation. Forward, workers and peasants, in the common struggle for land and freedom! Forward, proletarians, united by international Social-Democracy, in the fight for socialism!


[1] Lenin’s article “The Proletariat and the Peasantry” was reprinted by the Sumy group of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1905 as an appendix to the “Programme of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party”.

[2] The Emancipation of Labour group—the first Russian Marxist group. It was founded in Geneva by G. V. Plekhanov in 1883, and did much to spread Marxism in Russia.


Resolution of the Executive Committee of the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies on Measures for Counteracting the Lock-Out Adopted on November 14 (27), 1905[1]

Novaya Zhizn, No. 13, November 15, 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, pages 50-51.

According to Soviet Historian E.H. Carr, he disputes Lenin’s authorship of this document in The Bolshevik Revolution Volume 1. Specifically, Carr explains that Trotsky (who would soon be president of the Soviet) seems to claim authorship of the document as well. Furthermore, he explains that Lenin was never a member of the executive committee, and he claims that the sole source material LCW used was from an "obscure author" in a book of reminiscences.

The MIA is not able to confirm or deny these claims. Such scholarly critiques are worthy of consideration and deserve serious research to either confirm or deny.

Citizens, over a hundred thousand workers have been thrown on to the streets in St. Petersburg and other cities.

The autocratic government has declared war on the revolutionary proletariat. The reactionary bourgeoisie is joining hands with the autocracy, intending to starve the workers into submission and disrupt the struggle for freedom.

The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies declares that this unparalleled mass dismissal of workers is an act of provocation on the part of the government. The government wants to provoke the proletariat of St. Petersburg to isolated out breaks; the government wants to take advantage of the fact that the workers of other cities have not yet rallied closely enough to the St. Petersburg workers, and to defeat them all peacemeal.

The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies declares that the cause of liberty is in danger. But the workers will not fall into the trap laid by the government. The workers will not accept battle in the unfavourable conditions in which the government wants to impose battle on them. We must and shall exert every effort to unite the whole struggle—the struggle that is being waged both by the proletariat of all Russia and by the revolutionary peasantry, both by the Army and by the Navy, which are already heroically rising for freedom.

In view of the foregoing, the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies resolves:

(1) All factories that have been shut down must immediately be reopened and all dismissed comrades reinstated. All sections of the people that cherish freedom in reality, and not in words only, are invited to support this demand.

(2) In support of this demand, the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies considers it necessary to appeal to the solidarity of the entire Russian proletariat, and, if the demand is rejected, to call upon the latter to resort to a general political strike and other forms of resolute struggle.

(3) In preparation for this action, the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies has instructed the Executive Committee to enter into immediate communication with the workers of other cities, with the railwaymen’s, post and telegraph employees’, peasant and other unions, as well as with the Army and Navy, by sending delegates and by other means.

(4) As soon as this preliminary work is completed, the Executive Committee is to call a special meeting of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies to take a final decision with regard to a strike.

(5) The St. Petersburg proletariat has asked all the workers and all sections of society and the people to support the dismissed workers with all the means at their disposal—material, moral and political.


[1] At the meeting of the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies held on November 13 (26), 1905, Lenin spoke of measures to counteract the lock-out organised by the capitalists in reply to the eight-hour day which the workers had introduced by their own decision. He moved a resolution on the basis of which the Executive Committee of the St. Petersburg Soviet on November 14 (27) took a decision on measures against the lock-out. Lenin stressed the significance   of that decision in the article “The Provocation That Failed” (see pp. 52-53 of this volume).


The Provocation That Failed

Novaya Zhizn No. 13, November 15, 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, pages 52-53.

The resolution of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies[1] which we print in this issue marks an exceedingly important stage in the development of the revolution.

The alliance of the government and the bourgeoisie is making an attempt to defeat the proletariat, taking advantage of its exhaustion. In answer to the introduction of an eight-hour day in the St. Petersburg factories by revolutionary means, the bourgeoisie has announced a lock-out.

The plot has been hatched. They have decided to fight the strike by means of a mass dismissal of workers. Government-owned works are being shut down, together with many private works. Tens of thousands of workers have been thrown on to the streets. The intention is to provoke the St. Petersburg proletariat, exhausted by the previous bat ties, to a new conflict in most unfavourable conditions.

Following the advice of the Social-Democratic representatives, the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies has decided to expose the plot of the counter-revolution before the workers and to caution the proletariat of St. Petersburg against allowing itself to be drawn into a trap. The Soviet has answered the challenge to fight single-handed by appealing for a united struggle throughout Russia; it has answered by immediate steps to consolidate the alliance of the revolutionary workers with the revolutionary peasants and with those sections of the Army and Navy which are beginning to revolt in all parts of Russia.

At such a moment, more than at any other time, it is essential to direct all our efforts towards uniting the army of the revolution all over Russia, it is essential to preserve our forces, to use the liberties we have won for agitation   and organisation increased a hundredfold, to prepare for new decisive battles. Let the autocracy unite with the reactionary bourgeoisie! Let the liberal bourgeoisie (as represented by the congress of Zemstvo[2] and municipal leaders in Moscow[3]) vote confidence in the government, which hypocritically talks about liberty and at the same time uses armed force to crush Poland for demanding the most elementary guarantees of liberty!

We must counteract the alliance between the autocracy and the bourgeoisie by an alliance between the Social- Democrats and all revolutionary bourgeois democrats. The socialist proletariat holds out its hand to the peasantry fighting for freedom, and calls on it to join in a concerted general onslaught all over the country.

It is in this that the enormous importance of the decision of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies lies. We Social- Democrats must see to it that the whole Party comes to the assistance of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. We are bent on more than just the democratic revolution. We are fighting for socialism, i.e., for the complete emancipation of the toilers from all oppression, economic as well as political. Our Party admits into its ranks only those who recognise this great aim and who never for a moment forget the necessity of preparing the forces for its attainment.

But just because we socialists want to reach our socialist goal, we are striving for the most thorough fulfilment of the democratic revolution, for the winning of complete liberty in the interests of a successful fight for socialism. That is why we must go hand in hand with those revolutionary democrats who do not want to bargain with the government, but to fight it, who do not want to curtail the revolution, but to carry it to completion—with these people we must go hand in hand, without, however, merging with them. Long live, then, the alliance of the socialist proletariat and the whole revolutionary people! All the forces of reaction, all the attacks of the counter-revolution will break down before their joint onslaught.


[1] See pp. 50-51 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] Zemstvo—the name given to the local self-government bodies introduced in the central gubernias of tsarist Russia in 1864. The powers of the Zemstvos, which were headed by the nobility, were limited to purely local economic matters (hospital and road building, statistics, insurance, etc.). Their activities were controlled by the governors and the Ministry of the Interior, which could overrule any decision that did not suit the government.

[3] The Congress of Zemstvo and municipal leaders sat in Moscow from November 6-13 (19-26), 1905. It declared against the convocation of a constituent assembly and expressed the hope that the Duma would play the role of queller of peasant unrest by slightly increasing peasant allotments.


The Armed Forces and the Revolution

Written on November 15 (28), 1905

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, pages 54-57.

The insurrection at Sevastopol continues to spread. Things are coming to a head. The sailors and soldiers who are fighting for freedom are removing their officers. Complete order is being maintained. The government is unable to repeat the dirty trick it played at Kronstadt,[1] it is unable to engineer riots. The squadron has refused to put to sea and threatens to shell the town if any attempt is made to suppress the insurgents. Command of the Ochakov has been taken over by Lieutenant Schmidt (retired), who was dismissed from the service for an “insolent” speech about defending, arms in hand, the liberties promised by the Manifesto of October 17.[2] According to a report in Rus,[3] the term fixed for the sailors’ surrender expires to day, the 15th.

We are thus on the eve of the decisive moment. The next few days—perhaps hours—will show whether the insurgents will win a complete victory, whether they will be defeated, or whether a bargain will be struck. In any case, the Sevastopol events signify the complete collapse of the old slavish order in the armed forces, the system which transformed soldiers into armed machines and made them instruments for the suppression of the slightest striving after freedom.

Gone for ever are the days when Russian troops could be sent abroad to suppress a revolution—as happened in 1849.[4] Today the armed forces have irretrievably turned away from the autocracy. They have not yet become wholly revolutionary. The political consciousness of the soldiers and sailors is still at a very low level. But the important thing is that it has already awakened, that the soldiers have started a movement of their own, that the spirit of   liberty has penetrated into the barracks everywhere. Military barracks in Russia are as a rule worse than any prisons; nowhere is individuality so crushed and oppressed as in the barracks; nowhere are torture, beating and degradation of the human being so rife. And these barracks are becoming hotbeds of revolution.

The Sevastopol events are neither isolated nor acci dental. Let us not speak of former attempts at open insur rection in the Navy and in the Army. Let us compare the sparks at St. Petersburg with the fire at Sevastopol. Let us recall the soldiers’ demands which are now being formulated in various military units at St. Petersburg (they appeared. in yesterday’s issue of our paper). What a remarkable docu ment this list of demands is! How clearly it shows that the sla.vish army is being transformed into a revolutionary army. And what power can now prevent the spread of similar de mands throughout the Navy and throughout the Army?

The soldiers stationed in St. Petersburg want better rations, better clothing, better quarters, higher pay, a reduction in the term of service and shorter daily drill. But more prominent among their demands are those which could be presented only by the civic-minded soldier. They include the right to attend in uniform at all meetings, “on an equal footing with all other citizens”, the right to read all newspapers and keep them in the barracks, freedom of conscience, equal rights for all nationalities, complete abolition of all deference to rank outside the barracks, the abolition of officers’ batmen, the abolition of courts martial, jurisdiction for the civil courts over all military offences, the right to present complaints collectively, the right to defend oneself against any attempt on the part of a superior to strike a subordinate. Such are the principal demands of the soldiers in St. Petersburg.

These demands show that a great part of the Army is already at one with the men of Sevastopol who have risen for liberty.

These demands show that the hypocritical talk of the henchmen of the autocracy about the neutrality of the arnied forces, about the need to keep the forces out of politics, etc., cannot count on the slightest sympathy among the soldiers.

The armed forces cannot and should not be neutral. Not to drag them into politics is the slogan of the hypocritical servants of the bourgeoisie and of tsarism, who in fact have always dragged the forces into reactionary politics, and turned Russian soldiers into henchmen of the Black Hundreds, accomplices of the police. It is impossible to hold aloof from the struggle the whole people is waging for liberty. Whoever shows indifference to this struggle is supporting the outrages of the police government, which promised liberty only to mock at it.

The demands of the soldier-citizens are the demands of Social-Democracy, of all the revolutionary parties, of the class-conscious workers. By joining the ranks of the supporters of liberty and siding with the people, the soldiers will ensure victory for the cause of liberty and the satisfaction of their own demands.

But in order to secure the really complete and lasting satisfaction of these demands, it is necessary to take another little step forward. All the separate wishes of the soldiers, worn out by the accursed convict life of the bar racks, should be brought together into a single whole. And put together, these demands will read: abolition of the standing army and introduction of the arming of the whole people in its stead.

Everywhere, in all countries, the standing army is used not so much against the external enemy as against the internal enemy. Everywhere the standing army has become the weapon of reaction, the servant of capital in its struggle against labour, the executioner of the people’s liberty. Let us not, therefore, stop short at mere partial demands in our great liberating revolution. Let us tear the evil up by the roots. Let us do away with the standing army altogether. Let the army merge with the armed people, let the soldiers bring to the people their military knowledge, let the barracks disappear to be replaced by free military schools. No power on earth will dare to encroach upon free Russia, if the bulwark of her liberty is an armed people which has destroyed the military caste, which has made all soldiers citizens and all citizens capable of bearing arms, soldiers.

The experience of Western Europe has shown how utterly reactionary the standing army is. Military science has   proved that a people’s militia is quite practicable, that it can rise to the military tasks presented by a war both of defence and of attack. Let the hypocritical or the sentimental bourgeoisie dream of disarmament. So long as there are oppressed and exploited people in the world, we must strive, not for disarmament, but for the arming of the whole people. It alone will fully safeguard liberty. It alone will completely overthrow reaction. Only when this change has been effected will the millions of toilers, and not a mere handful of exploiters, enjoy real liberty.


[1] In the latter half of October 1905 Kronstadt was the scene of meetings of protest over the tsar’s Manifesto, issued on October 17 (30) of that year. The Bolsheviks who addressed the meetings exposed the tsar’s attempt to deceive the people. In view of the rapid growth of revolutionary sentiment among the masses, the Kronstadt Social-Democratic organisation planned an armed uprising for the end of the month But events took a spontaneous turn. On October 24 (November 6) a meeting of sailors demanded better food, higher pay, shorter service and a treatment fit for human beings; it also put forward political demands: a democratic republic, universal suffrage, freedom of speech, assembly and association, inviolability of the person, abolition of the social-estates, and so on. The sailors’ demands were backed by the soldiers. On October 26 (November 8) the struggle developed into an armed uprising. But the insurgents were poorly organised for lack of firm leadership and a plan of action.

The authorities, which ordered troops from St. Petersburg, pro claimed martial law early on October 28 (November 10) and took the offensive. The uprising was crushed. Many of the arrested insurgents were faced with the death sentence, penal sevitude or imprisonment. The St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. issued a leaflet “To the Soldiers and Sailors” revealing the truth about the events of October 26-27 (November 8-9). At the call of the Bolsheviks, the workers of St. Petersburg and other cities stood up for the Kronstadt sailors and soldiers. On November 2(15), the proletariat of St. Petersburg called a general strike. Frightened by the masses’ revolutionary action, the government announced that the insurgents would be tried in civil and not in military court. The court sentenced the defendants to disciplinary punishment or imprisonment, and some of them to penal servitude.

The Kronstadt insurrection was a result of the influence exerted on soldiers and sailors by the revolutionary struggle of the workers and peasants throughout Russia and by the Bolsheviks’ activity in the Army and Navy.

[2] On October 17, 1905, at the height of the all-Russian political strike, the tsar issued a Manifesto promising “civil liberties” and a “legislative” Duma. A manoeuvre designed to gain time, split the revolutionary forces, wreck the strike and put down the revolution, the Manifesto was a fraud, and was never carried into practice.

[3] Rus (Russia)—a liberal-bourgeois daily published in St. Peters burg intermittently from December 1903 to June 1908. It changed title twice—to Molva (Hearsay) and Dvadtsaty Vek (The Twentieth Century).

[4] This refers to the part which the troops of Tsar Nicholas I took in suppressing the revolutionary national-liberation movement in West-European countries. In 1848, the tsar moved his troops into Rumania, Poland, the Baltic Provinces and Right-Bank Ukraine, and granted the Emperor of Austria a loan of six million rubles to suppress the national-liberation movement in Italy. In 1849, tsarist troops helped in putting down the Hungarian revolution.


The Scales are Wavering

Novaya Zhizn, No. 16, November 18, 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, pages 58-59.

Russia’s present condition is often described as anarchy. In reality, this incorrect and lying designation expresses the fact that there is no established order in the country. The war of a new, free Russia against the old, feudal- autocratic Russia is raging all along the line. The autocracy is no longer strong enough to defeat the revolution, and the revolution is not yet strong enough to defeat tsarism. The old regime has been smashed but not yet destroyed, and the new, free order exists unrecognised, half-concealed, very often persecuted by the minions of the autocratic regime.

Such a state of affairs may last for quite a while yet, it will inevitably be attended by manifestations of instability and vacillation in all spheres of social and political life: people hostile to liberty, who now profess to be friends of liberty by way of a military stratagem, will inevitably try to fish in these troubled waters. But the longer this state of transition lasts, the more surely will it lead to the complete and decisive victory of the revolutionary proletariat and peasantry. For nothing opens the eyes of the most ignorant masses of town and country so effectively, nothing so greatly rouses even the most indifferent and most sleepy, as this long-drawn-out decay of the autocracy, which has been condemned by all and has acknowledged its condemnation.

What do the latest political events tell us—this new and great strike of the post and telegraph employees,[1] this growing ferment and growing revolutionary organisation in the armed forces and even in the police, this victory of politically-backward troops fettered by discipline over the army of freedom in Sevastopol, this unparalleled slump in   government securities? They tell us that the autocracy is firing its last shots and using up its last reserves. Even the stock exchange—loyal to the tsar in its bourgeois cowardice and its bourgeois longing for the end of the revolution— even the stock exchange has no faith in the “victors” of Sevastopol. These events tell us that the revolutionary people is steadily extending its conquests, rousing new fighters, exercising its forces, improving its organisation and marching forward to victory, advancing as irresistibly as an avalanche.

The weapon of the political strike is being perfected; new contingents of workers are now learning to wield this weapon, workers without whom a modern civilised community cannot exist even for a single day. The awareness of the need for freedom is growing in the armed forces and in the police, preparing new centres of insurrection, new Kronstadts and new Sevastopols.

The victors of Sevastopol have hardly any reason for rejoicing. The Crimean insurrection has been defeated. The insurrection of all Russia is invincible.

Let worker Social-Democrats therefore prepare for even greater events, which will impose on them an immense responsibility!

Let them not forget that only a solidly united Social Democratic Party can lead the proletariat of Russia to victory, hand in hand with the Social-Democratic proletariat of the whole world!


[1] The great strike of post and telegraph employees lasted from November 15 (28) to December 15 (28), 1905. It was provoked by the authorities’ prohibition to form a union of post and telegraph employees and the discharge of a number of employees who had taken part in organising the union. The All-Russian Congress of the Post and Telegraph Union, which opened in Moscow on November 15(28), resolved to send Premier Witte a telegram insisting on the readmission of the discharged employees. The dead-line it set for a reply was 1800 hours of the same day, November 15 (28). As the government had sent no answer by the appointed time, the Congress circulated a telegram ordering a strike. The strike involved the whole of Russia.


Learn From the Enemy

Novaya Zhizn, No. 16, November 18, 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, pages 60-61.

The bourgeois democrats of Nasha Zhizn[1] have launched a campaign against “the mixture of Marxism and barbarism”. We strongly recommend all class-conscious workers to look closely into the arguments of the radical democrats.

Nothing facilitates an understanding of the political essence of developments as greatly as their evaluation by one’s adversaries (that is, of course, unless the latter are hopelessly stupid).

Nasha Zhizn does not like “the struggle of one section of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party against the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies”, or, to be exact, the struggle of the Social—Democrats against “non—partisan” class organisations, as the newspaper itself puts it. Our radicals say that the workers must unite. That means—that means that the leaders of the Soviet who “are endeavouring to unite the entire proletariat without distinction of political creed” are right. And the radicals triumphantly show us up as contradicting our own principle of the “class struggle”.

Learn from your enemies, comrade workers, who sympathise with the formation of a non-partisan workers’ organisation, or are at least indifferent to this desire! Call to mind the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, which speaks of the transformation of the proletariat into a class in keeping with the growth not only of its unity, but also of its political consciousness.[2] Remember the example of such countries as England, where the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie has been going on every where and at all times, in spite of which the proletariat has remained disunited, its elected representatives have been   bought up by the bourgeoisie, its class-consciousness has been corrupted by the ideologists of capital, its strength has been dissipated through. the desertion of the masses of the workers by the labour aristocracy. Think of all this, comrade workers, and you will come to the conclusion that only a Social-Democratic proletariat is a proletariat conscious of its class tasks. Down with non-partisanship! Non-partisanship has always and everywhere been a weapon and slogan of the bourgeoisie. Under certain conditions, we can and must march together with proletarians who are not class-conscious, with proletarians who accept non-proletarian doctrines (the programme of the “Socialist-Revolutionaries”). But under no circumstances and at no time must we relax our strict Party approach, under no circumstances and at no time must we forget, or allow others to forget, that hostility to Social-Democracy within the ranks of the proletariat is a relic of bourgeois views among the proletariat.


[1] Nasha Zhizn (Our Life)—a daily paper close to the Left wing of the Cadet Party. It appeared in St. Petersburg intermittently from November 6(19), 1904 to July 11(24), 1906.

[2] See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, pp. 33-45.


Revolutionary Office Routine and Revolutionary Action

Novaya Zhizn, No. 18, November 20, 1905.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, pages 62-65.

It was only natural and inevitable in our revolutionary movement that the question of a constituent assembly should be brought forward. To sweep away the survivals of the old, semi-feudal institutions of autocratic Russia for good and all, to determine the institutions of new, free Russia, one cannot conceive of any consistent and logical path save that of calling a constituent assembly of the whole people. True, in actual life consistent and logical objectives are rarely realised in full; life always introduces many unforeseen features which complicate and confuse the issue, which mix up the old and the new. But whoever sincerely wishes to have done with the old and knows how to work for that end must define clearly what a constituent assembly stands for, and fight with all his might for its realisation in its full and unadulterated form.

The party of the class-conscious proletariat, the Social-Democratic Party, advanced the demand for a constituent assembly as far back as 1903, in its Programme adopted at the Second Congress. “The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party,” reads the last section of our Programme, “is firmly convinced that the complete, consistent and lasting attainment of the above-mentioned political and economic reforms [the establishment of a democratic state system, labour protection, etc.][1] can be achieved only by overthrowing the autocracy and convoking a constituent assembly, freely elected by the whole people.”

These words clearly show that our Party is concerned not only with the purely formal, but also with the material conditions for the convocation of a constituent assembly, i.e., with the conditions which would make such an assembly truly national and truly constituent. It is not enough to call an assembly “constituent”, it is not enough to convene representatives of the people, even though they be chosen by universal and equal suffrage, direct elections and secret ballot, even though freedom of elections be really guaranteed. In addition to all these conditions, it is necessary that the constituent assembly have the authority and the force to constitute a new order. There have been cases in the history of revolutions when an assembly was nominally constituent, while in actual fact real force and power were not in its hands but in the hands of the old autocracy. This was the case in the German revolution of 1848, which explains why the “constituent” assembly of that period, the notorious Frankfurt Parliament, acquired the shameful reputation of a contemptible “talking shop”. That assembly babbled about freedom, decreed freedom, but took no practical steps to remove the government institutions which were destroying freedom. It is quite natural, therefore, that that pitiable, assembly of pitiable liberal-bourgeois prattlers withdrew from the scene in ignominy.

In present-day Russia the question of the convocation of a constituent assembly heads the list of the political questions of the day. And it is now that the practical side of this question is becoming a matter of the utmost urgency. What is important is not so much whether a constituent assembly will be convoked (it is probable that even Count Witte, that ministerial broker, will agree to it tomorrow), but whether it will be a truly national and truly constituent assembly.

As a matter of fact, the experience of our revolution, despite the fact that it is only just beginning, has already shown clearly what jugglery may be performed with words and promises in general, and with the constituent assembly slogan in particular. Just call to mind the recent congress of Zemstvo and municipal leaders—the “Cadets”[2]—in Moscow. Recall their famous formula: a State Duma with constituent functions for drawing up a constitution to be approved by the Emperor.... Even the bourgeois-democratic   press noted the inherently contradictory nature and absurdity of this formula. To “constitute” a new political order “to be approved” by the head of the old government—what does this mean but legalising two governments, two equal (on paper) supreme authorities—the authority of the people risen in revolt and the authority of the old autocracy. It is obvious that equality between them is a sheer semblance, that in practice the terms of any “compromise” between them depend on which side has the preponderance of force. Thus, in their “ideal” plan of transition from the old Russia to the new, the liberal bourgeois were legitimising the coexistence of two equal, mutually hostile and contending forces, i.e., they were legitimising an eternal and hopeless struggle.

This contradiction cannot be explained by simple formal logic. But it is fully explained by the logic of the class interests of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is afraid of complete freedom, of full democracy, for it knows that the class-conscious, i.e., socialist, proletariat will use this freedom to fight against the domination of capital. Therefore what the bourgeoisie really wants is not complete freedom, not the full sovereignty of the people, but a deal with reaction, with the autocracy. The bourgeoisie wants parliamentarism in order to ensure the domination of capital rather than that of the bureaucracy, and at the same time it wants the monarchy, a standing army, the preservation of certain privileges for the bureaucracy, because it does not want to allow the revolution to reach its final goal, because it does not want to arm the proletariat—“arming” meaning both direct arming with weapons and arming with complete freedom. The contradictory class position of the bourgeoisie between the autocracy and the proletariat inevitably gives rise, irrespectively of the will or consciousness of this or that individual, to senseless and absurd formulas of “compromise The constituent assembly slogan is turned into an empty phrase the great demand of the proletariat which has risen to win freedom is reduced to a farce—this is the way the bourgeoisie profanes absolutely everything, substituting haggling for struggle.

The radical bourgeois of Nasha Zhizn do not see this inevitably false and spurious presentation of the question by the liberals, when they extol with serious mien the “draft”   for the convocation of a constituent assembly prepared by Messrs. Falbork and Charnolusky, and then also by the Central Bureau of the Union of Unions. It is ridiculous to make such “drafts”, gentlemen! You are following in the footsteps of the “Cadets”, who have betrayed the revolution. You forget that paper drafts, like all constitutional illusions, corrupt the revolutionary consciousness of the people and weaken their fighting spirit, for they obscure the main point and entirely distort the question itself. After all, you are not engaged in propaganda for a political ABC. You are putting the question practically, as is indicated by the very nature of the discussion of the draft “by representatives of the extreme and the moderate parties”, which you have proposed. It is Manilovism[3] on your part, esteemed bourgeois democrats, to admit, on the one hand, that it is desirable for the constituent assembly to possess “full” power and attempt, on the other hand, to unite the extreme parties with the “moderate” parties, i.e., those who desire suck full power with those who do not desire it.

Off with the frills and furbelows! We have had enough of lying liberal phrases! It is time to draw the line. To the right —the autocracy and the liberal bourgeoisie, who have in effect been brought together by their opposition to the transfer of all power—sole, full and indivisible—to a constituent assembly. To the left —the socialist proletariat and the revolutionary peasantry or, more broadly, the whole of revolutionary bourgeois democracy. They want the constituent assembly to have full power. For this they can and must conclude a fighting alliance, without, of course, merging. It is not paper drafts they need, but fighting measures, not the organisation of office routine, but the organisation of a victorious struggle for liberty.


[1] Interpolations in square brackets (within passages quoted by Lenin) have been introduced by Lenin, unless otherwise indicated.—Ed.

[2] Cadets—members of the Constitutional-Democratic Party, the chief party of the Russian liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie. The Cadet Party was founded in October 1905, its membership including representatives of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, Zemstvo functionaries from among the landlords, and bourgeois intellectuals. Among the more prominent Cadet leaders were P. N. Milyukov, S. A. Muromtsev, V. A. Maklakov, A. I. Shingaryov, P. B. Strove and F. I. Rodichev. The Cadets called themselves the “party of people’s freedom” to mislead the working masses. In reality they never demanded anything beyond a constitutional monarchy. Their main task they considered to ho the fight against the revolutionary   movement. They tried to persuade the tsar and the feudal landlords to share power with them.

During the First World War the Cadets actively supported the tsarist government’s foreign policy of conquest. At the time of the bourgeois-democratic revolution of February 1917, they tried to save the monarchy. In the bourgeois Provisional Government, in which they played the key role, they pursued a counter-revolutionary policy, opposed to the interests of the people hut favourable to the U.S., British and French imperialists. Following the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution the Cadets became rabid enemies of Soviet power and participated in all armed counter revolutionary actions and the campaigns of the interventionists. When the interventionists and whiteguards had been defeated, the Cadets fled abroad, where they continued their anti-Soviet counter-revolutionary activity.

[3] Manilovism—a term derived from the name of the landlord Manilov, one of the characters in Gogol’s Dead Souls. Manilov is a typical philistine, sugary sentimentalist and empty visionary.


The Dying Autocracy and New Organs of Popular Rule[1]

Novaya Zhizn, No. 19, November 23, 1905 .

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, pages 66-70.

The insurrection is gaining ground. The impotence, confusion and disintegration of the autocratic Witte Government are increasing. The organisation of the most diverse groups, sections and classes of the people, the organisation of the revolutionary and the counter-revolutionary forces, is growing in breadth and depth.

Such is the situation at present. It can be expressed in the words: organisation and mobilisation of the revolution. Land battles in Voronezh and Kiev follow on the heels of the naval battle in Sevastopol. In Kiev the armed uprising apparently goes a step further, a step in the direction of merging the revolutionary army with the revolutionary workers and students. That, at any rate, is the testimony of the report in fins about a meeting of 16,000 people in the Kiev Polytechnical Institute, held under the protection of a sap per battalion of insurgent soldiers.

It is quite natural that in the circumstances even the liberal bourgeoisie, which longs from the bottom of its heart for a deal with the autocracy, is beginning to lose patience, to lose faith in the “great” acrobat Witte, and to cast its eyes towards the left, in search of a force capable of carrying out the revolution which has become an absolute necessity.

In this respect, the stand taken by fins is highly instructive. This newspaper clearly sees that “events are beginning to pile up in just such an avalanche as preceded October 17”. And so, on the one hand, it appeals to the very Zemstvo leaders who have manifested no less confusion, impotence and helplessness than the autocratic government.   It calls on them “not to delay” and to take “part in the impending events”, in order “to give the outcome of these events mild forms, least prejudicial and most favourable to the country”. On the other hand, this very same fins disagrees with Slovo,[2] declaring that “no one believes that the present government could convoke a State Duma under the present circumstances”. “At present,” states fins, “it is necessary to think of forming a government that could convoke a Duma.”

Thus, under the pressure of the revolutionary proletariat, the liberal bourgeoisie takes another step to the left. Yesterday it was expressing a desire to bargain with Witte and adopted a conditional vote of confidence in him (at the Zemstvo Congress). Today confidence in Witte is waning, and capital is demanding a new government, fins proposes that all liberation parties set up a special national council of deputies, which would become a “powerful instrument of pressure on the government, if the latter shows itself still [!!] capable of functioning, and an organ of power of the people ready for use, to take over the duties of the government provisionally in the event of the latter’s utter incapacity and collapse”.

In plain and simple Russian, an organ of power of the people which temporarily assumes the duties of a government that has collapsed is called a provisional revolutionary government. Such a government is bound to be provisional, for its authority expires with the convocation of a constituent assembly representing the whole people. Such a government is bound to be revolutionary, for it replaces a government that has collapsed, and it does so with the, support of the revolution. The very replacement of one by the other cannot occur other than by revolutionary means. Such a government must become an “organ of power of the people”, carrying out everywhere the demands put forward by the people and replacing at once, immediately and everywhere all the old, autocratic and Black-Hundred “organs of power” by organs of power of the people, i.e., either by representatives of the provisional revolutionary government or by elected persons in all cases where elections are possible—on the basis, of course, of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.

We are very glad that the liberal monarchist bourgeoisie has arrived at the idea of a provisional revolutionary government. We are glad not because we believe that the Liberals have sided with the revolution, not because we have suddenly begun to put faith in their sincerity, steadfastness and consistenc