Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Dogmatism and freedom of criti...
 The spontaneity of the masses and...
 Trade-union politics and social...
 The primitiveness of the economists...
 The plan for an all-Russian political...
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Group Title: Little Lenin library
Title: What is to be done?
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00087189/00001
 Material Information
Title: What is to be done? Burning questions of our movement;
Series Title: Little Lenin library
Physical Description: 175 p. : ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Lenin, Vladimir Ilʹich, 1870-1924
Publisher: International Publishers
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: c1929
Subject: Socialism -- Russia   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Russia
Statement of Responsibility: by V.I. Lenin.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00087189
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 00813812

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Dogmatism and freedom of criticism
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
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        Page 29
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    The spontaneity of the masses and the class-consciousness of social-democracy
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
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        Page 35
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        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
    Trade-union politics and social democratic politics
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
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        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
    The primitiveness of the economists and the organization of revolutionists
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
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        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
    The plan for an all-Russian political newspaper
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
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    Back Matter
        Page 177
    Back Cover
        Page 178
Full Text



S. Party struggles give a
party strength and life .. The best
proof of the weakness of a party is
its diffuseness and its blurring of
clear-cut differences. A party be,
comes stronger by purging itself.
[From a letter by Lassalle to Marx,
dated June 24, 1852.]

-Fo-r a-uM- "a oi L: es, d i- c v\i S (sr ot
e/ Ss peMs heatUJwe, i a^vs,
p f. (aLLan-s pYa ra-eV 6p qY&-tv-U
r/ sY oe s-er rat4 /o- w s c u ap
>uan- peac- uelu s cltra^/^ l '
T v'lat~a e, hbewueey pfooviols of
iYe, ia-L-'s+ peace w. (* _Pe s/tIci

.Teay t'! v Q PoiA /l a ^o^ Jj- ^
Y- y-Kvo p oJj, Jbaro aat, O / O /o r7ticatl
s-apheve, d-y'v'e <-r da'XzY &aMlo '
as Ua4 *: reOac-+ / o-w exK -veOv Ivt, r sY 'c&-
f-i e-4v ; &/fa e-li -sYns mjn poli1-i ca' '
S-Fe at^t- (S v t Yressf /- yfryy^-I

- a4utAvL(cjs:; esesaep ee, Sw?-s- 1
p-tressed ?ra&4ws e, auL^ fy (rn raia4J
teW s o vit l -ex l +y5 p-/
Gawagiv 4-o 40att/ (I 0rs (eu&-t -ss Y
'VWadevYs a' ifss{ pro-vike 4s e
a*V 'As1ked aeas der ir Q afo
lea ., r B B 0 Yv-Auts + fas Hfact-f
IcVIreas. 0 yv.Cl Orq tcryce,


Burning Questions
of Our Movement



Copyright, 1929, by





A. What is "Freedom of Criticism"? .. 12
B. The New Advocates of "Freedom of Criticism" 15
C. Criticism in Russia .. 20
D. Engels on the Importance of the Theoretical Struggle 26

A. The Beginning of the Spontaneous Movement ys, .eMutessL~e
B. Bowing to Spontaneity. Rabochaya Mysl 35
C. The Self-Emancipation Group and Rabocheye Dyelo 44

A. Political Agitation and its Restriction-by the Econ-
omists 54
B. A Tale of How Martynov Rendered Plekhanov More
Profound ........... 64
C. Political Exposures and "Training in Revolutionary
Activity" .. 67
D. What is There in Common Between Economism and
Terrorism? .. 72
E. The Working Class as Champion of Democracy 75
F. Again "Slanderers," Again "Mystifiers" 90

A. What Are Primitive Methods? .. 95
B. Primitive Methods and Economism .. 98

C. Organisation of Workers, and Organisation of Revo-
lutionists .. 105
D. The Scope of Organisational Work .. 119
E. "Conspirative" Organisation and "Democracy" .125
F. Local and All-Russian Work .. 133

PAPER .. 143
A. Who Was Offended by the Article "Where to Begin"? 143
B. Can a Newspaper be a Collective Organiser? 148
C. What Type of Organisation do we Require? 159

APPENDIX........ ..169


What Is To Be Done? is one of Lenin's outstanding revolutionary
writings. It has long been a classic in its field. The first genera-
tion of Russian Bolsheviks, which includes many of the present
Soviet leaders, have been brought up on this brilliant exposition
of the policies and tactics of the revolutionary Socialist movement.
Its uniqueness in Russian Marxist literature is due to the way it
treats the rl8e of the Party in the revolutionary struggle-a subject
to which slight attention was paid up to that time. The subtitle,
"Burning Questions of Our Movement," which Lenin gave to this
brochure, indicates how deeply he felt the need of calling attention
to the problem of organisation.
What were these "burning questions" which Lenin, soon after
his return from Siberian exile, posed and to which he gave answers,
first in articles in the Iskra ("The Urgent Tasks of Our Movement,"
December, 1900; "Where To Begin," May, 1901)* and finally
developed in What Is To Be Done?, published in March, 1902?
Ideologically, Marxism had won a decisive victory over Populism
which exercised hegemony among advanced Russian society and
revolutionary intelligentsia during the seventies and eighties. In
his early writings Lenin himself carried on sharp polemics against
Populist and other utopian perversions of Socialism, thereby greatly
contributing to the Marxist literary campaign designed to check
their influence on the nascent revolutionary workers' movement.
The Marxist movement at that time suffered, however, from two
basic weaknesses. The first was the tendency prevalent in a section
of the movement and characterized as Economism, which maintained
that the economic struggles of the workers for the improvement of
their immediate working and living conditions should be the chief
preoccupation of the labor movement. The struggle against tsarism,
the Economists proposed to leave to the liberal bourgeoisie to whom
they ascribed a monopoly in that field. Lenin and other revolu-
tionary Socialists could not but consider such a policy as a travesty
on Marxism, as a complete break with the nature and aims of the
revolutionary labor movement, the very essence of which, they held,
V. I. Lenin, The Iskra Period, Book I, pp. 53.58; 109-116.

was the struggle for power. Lenin goes hammer and tongs after
all those who attempt to separate the struggle against the tsarist
government from that against the capitalists, and brands the pure
and simple trade unionism of the Economists as thoroughly reac-
tionary and inimical to the interests of the workers.
The second weakness which Lenin vigorously attacks in this study
is the question of organisation. He raises this problem to the politi-
cal importance it deserves and makes an impassioned appeal to scrap
the existing form of organisation and build a theoretically sound
,party, revolutionary in purpose and national in scope. Although
formally organised into a party a few years before (1898), the
Marxist movement consisted of little more than small circles, each
carrying on a more or less independent existence and engaging in
sporadic and planless activities. This loose aggregation of revolu-
tionists, carrying on their work in primitive, handicraft fashion,
and depending on the spontaneity of the masses, could not, accord-
ing to Lenin, become the organiser and leader of the revolutionary
struggles which were rapidly developing and which were involving
larger and larger masses of workers. Only a centralised party,
working according to a carefully prepared plan, with each member
assigned a specific task for which he is to bie held accountable, could
successfully lead the Russian workingclass in the struggle against
capitalist exploitation and tsarist rule.
"If we have a strongly organised party, a single strike may grow
into a political demonstration, into a political victory over the
government," Lenin wrote sometime before he began to work on
What Is To Be Done? Obviously, the party as he conceived it, had
to consist of members "who shall devote to the revolution not only
their spare evenings, but the whole of their lives."

Written thirty years ago, What Is To Be Done? still retains its
freshness because of the revolutionary enthusiasm which permeates
its pages and the great lessons it has today for the workers in capi-
talist countries who would build their revolutionary parties after the
pattern fashioned by Lenin during the formative period of the
Bolshevik Party.
December, 1931.



ACCORDING to the author's original plan, the present pamphlet was
intended for the purpose of developing in greater detail the ideas
that were expressed in the article he wrote in Iskra, No. 4, May,
1901, entitled "Where to Begin." First of all, we must apologise
to the reader for this belated fulfilment of the promise made in
that article (and repeated in reply to many private enquiries and
letters). One of the reasons for this belatedness was the attempt
to combine all the Social-Democratic organizations abroad which
was undertaken in June last (1901). Naturally, one wanted to see
the results of this attempt, for had it been successful, it would
perhaps have been necessary to express Iskra's views on organisation
from another point of view. In any case, such success promised to
put an end very quickly to the existence of two separate tendencies
in Russian Social-Democracy. As the reader knows, the attempt
failed, and, as we shall try to show farther on, failure was inevitable
after the new turn Rabocheye Dyelo took in its issue No. 10 towards
Economism. It was found to be absolutely necessary to commence
a determined fight against these diffused, ill-defined, but very per-
sistent tendencies, which may degenerate into many diverse forms.
Accordingly, the original plan of the pamphlet was changed and
considerably enlarged.
Its main theme was to have been the three questions presented
in the article: "Where to Begin," viz., the character and the prin-
cipal content of our political agitation; our organisational tasks;
and the plan for setting up simultaneously in various parts of the
country, a militant, All-Russian organisation. These questions have
long engaged the mind of the author, and he tried to raise them in
the Rabocheye Gazeta at the time one of the unsuccessful attempts
was made to revive that paper (cf. Chap. V). But the original
plan to confine this pamphlet to these three questions, and to express
our views as far as possible in a positive form without, or almost
without, entering into polemics, proved quite impracticable for two
See V. I. Lenin, The Iskra Period, Book I, p. 109.-Ed.

reasons. One was that Economism proved to be more virile than
we supposed (we employ the term Economism in the broad sense as
it was explained in Iskra No. 12, December, 1901, in an article
entitled "A Conversation with Defenders of Economism," which
represented a synopsis, as it were, of the present pamphlet).* It
became unquestionably clear that the differences regarding the
solution of the three problems mentioned were to be explained to a
much greater degree by the fundamental antagonism between the two
tendencies in Russian Social-Democracy than by differences over
practical questions. The second reason was that the astonishment
displayed by the Economists concerning the views we expressed
in Iskra revealed quite clearly that we often speak in different
tongues, and therefore cannot come to any understanding without
going over the whole range of questions ab ovo; that it was neces-
sary to attempt in the simplest po sible style, illustrated by numer-
ous and concrete examples, systematically "to clear up" all the
fundamental points of difference with all the Economists. I re-
solved to make this attempt to "clear up" these points, fully real-
ising that it would greatly increase the size of the pamphlet and.
delay its publication, but I saw no other way of fulfilling the
promise I made in the article "Where to Begin." In apologising
for the belated publication of the pamphlet I also have to apologise
for its numerous literary shortcomings. I had to work under great
pressure, and frequently had to interrupt the writing of it for other
The three questions mentioned before still represent the main
theme of this pamphlet, but I had to start out with the examination
of two other, more general questions, viz., Why does an "innocent"
and "natural" slogan like "freedom of criticism" represent a fighting
watchword for us at the present time? And why can we not agree
on even so important a question as the rl8e of Social-Democracy in
relation to the spontaneous mass movement? Furthermore, the
exposition of our views on the character and the content of political,
agitation developed into an explanation of the difference between
trade-union politics and Social-Democratic politics, and the exposi-
tion of our views on organisational tasks developed into an explana-
tion of the difference between primitive methods, which satisfy the
Economists, and an organisation of revolutionists, which in our
See The Iskra Period, Book II, p. 65.-Ed.
** Literally "from the egg"; from the beginning.-Ed.

opinion is essential. Moreover, I insist more strongly than ever on
the plan for a national political newspaper, the more so because of
the weakness of the arguments that were levelled against it, and
because the question that I put in the article "Where to Begin" as
to how we can set to work simultaneously, all over the country, to
establish the organisation we require was never really answered.
Finally, in the concluding part of this pamphlet I hope to prove
that we did all we could to avoid a rupture with the Economists, but
the rupture proved inevitable; that Rabocheye Dyelo acquired spe-
cial, "historical," if you will, significance not so much because
it expressed consistent Economism, but because it fully and strik-
ingly expressed the confusion and vacillation that mark a whole
period in the history of Russian Social-Democracy, arid that there-
fore, the polemics with Rabocheye Dyelo, which at first sight may
seem excessively detailed, also acquires significance; for we can
make no progress until we have completely liquidated this period.
February, 1902,



"FREEDOM of criticism," this undoubtedly is the most fashionable
slogan at the present time, and the one most frequently employed
in the controversies between the Socialists and democrats of all
countries. At first sight, nothing would appear to be more strange
than the solemn appeals by one of the parties to the dispute for
freedom of criticism. Can it be that some of the progressive parties
have raised their voices against the constitutional law of the ma-
jority of European countries which guarantees freedom to science
and scientific investigation? "Something must be wrong here," an
onlooker who has not yet fully appreciated the nature of the dis-
agreements among the controversialists will say, when he hears this
fashionable slogan repeated at every cross-road. "Evidently this
slogan is one of the conventional phrases which, like a nickname,
becomes legitimatised by custom," he will conclude.
In fact, it is no secret that two separate tendencies have been
formed in international Social-Democracy.* The fight between
these tendencies now flares up in a bright flame, and now dies down
and smoulders under the ashes of imposing "resolutions for an armis-
tice." What this "new" tendency, which adopts a "critical" attitude
This, perhaps, is the first occasion in the history of modern Socialism that
controversies between various tendencies within the Socialist movement have
grown from national into international controversies; and this is extremely
encouraging. Formerly, the disputes between the Lassalleans and the
Eisenachers, between the Guesdists and the Possibilists, between the Fabians
and the Social-Democrats, and between the Narodniki and the Social-
Democrats in Russia, remained purely national disputes, reflected purely
national features and proceeded, as it were, on different planes. At the pres-
ent time (this is quite evident now) the English Fabians, the French Minis-
terialists, the German Bernsteinists [revisionists.-Ed.], and the Russian
"Critics"- all belong to the same family, all extol each other, learn from each
other, and are rallying their forces against "doctrinaire" Marxism. Perhaps,
in this first real battle with Socialist opportunism, international revolutionary
Social-Democracy will become sufficiently hardened to be able, at last, to put
an end to the political reaction, long reigning in Europe.

towards "obsolete doctrinaire" Marxism represents, has been
stated with sufficient precision by Bernstein, and demonstrated by
Social-Democracy must change from a party of the social revolu-
tion into a democratic party of social reforms. Bernstein has sur-
rounded this political demand by a whole battery of symmetrically
arranged "new" arguments and reasoning. The possibility of
putting Socialism on a scientific basis and of proving that it is
necessary and inevitable from the point of view of the materialist
conception of history was denied; the fact of increasing poverty,
proletarianisation, the growing acuteness of capitalist contradic-
tions, were also denied. The very conception of "ultimate aim"
was declared to be unsound, and the idea of the dictatorship of the
proletariat was absolutely rejected. It was denied that there is any
difference in principle between liberalism and Socialism. The
theory of the class struggle was rejected on the grounds that it
could not be applied to strictly democratic society, governed accord-
ing to the will of the majority, etc.
Thus, the demand for a decided change from revolutionary Social-
Democracy to bourgeois reformism, was accompanied by a no less
decided turn towards bourgeois criticism of all the fundamental
ideas of Marxism. As this criticism of Marxism has been going on
for a long time now, from the political platform, from university
chairs, in numerous pamphlets, and in a number of scientific works,
as the younger generation of the educational classes have been sys-
tematically trained for decades on this criticism, it is not surprising
that the "new, critical" tendency in Social-Democracy should spring
up, all complete, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter. This new
tendency did not have to grow and develop, it was transferred bodily
from bourgeois literature to Socialist literature.
If Bernstein's theoretical criticism and political yearnings are
still obscure to any one, the trouble the French have taken to
demonstrate the "new method" should remove all ambiguities. In
this instance, also, France has justified its old reputation as the
country in which "more than anywhere else the historical class
struggles were always fought to a finish" [Engels, in his introduction
to Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire]. The French Socialists have com-
menced, not to theorise, but to act. The more developed democratic
political conditions in France have permitted them to put Bernstein-

ism into practice immediately, with its inevitable consequences.
Millerand has provided an excellent example of practical Bernstein-
ism. It is not surprising that he so zealously defends and praises
Bernstein and Volmar! Indeed, if Social-Democracy, in essentials,
is merely a reformist party, and must be bold enough to admit
this openly, then, not only has a Socialist the right to join a bour-
geois cabinet, but he ought always to strive to obtain places in it.
If democracy, in essence, means the abolition of class domination,
then why should not a Socialist minister charm the whole bourgeois
world by orations on class co-operation? Why should he not
remain in the cabinet even after the shooting down of workers by
gendarmes has exposed, for the hundredth and thousandth time, the
real nature of the democratic co-operation of classes? Why should
he not personally take part in welcoming the Tsar, for whom the
French Socialists now have no other sobriquet than "Hero of the
Gallows, Knout and Banishment" (knouteur, pendeur et deporta-
teur) ? And the reward for this humiliation and self-degradation
of Socialism in the face of the whole world, for the corruption of
the Socialist consciousness of the working class-the only thing
that can guarantee victory-the reward for this is, imposing plans
for niggardly reforms, so niggardly in fact, that much more has
been obtained even from bourgeois governments.
He who does not deliberately close his eyes cannot fail to see that
the new "critical" tendency in Socialism is nothing more nor less
than a new species of opportunism. And if we judge people not
by the brilliant uniforms they deck themselves in, not by the im-
posing appellations they give themselves, but by their actions, and
by what they actually advocate, it will be clear that "freedom of
criticism" means freedom for an opportunistic tendency in Social-
Democracy, the freedom to convert Social-Democracy into a demo-
cratic reformist party, the freedom to introduce bourgeois ideas and
bourgeois elements into Socialism.
"Freedom" is a grand word, but under the banner of Free Trade
the most predatory wars were conducted: under the banner of "free
labour," the toilers were robbed. The term "freedom of criticism"
contains the same inherent falsehood. Those who are really con-
vinced that they have advanced science, would demand, not freedom
for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but the
substitution of the old views by the new views. The cry "Long live

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


Now, this slogan ("Freedom of Criticism") is solemnly advanced
in No. 10 of Rabocheye Dyelo, the organ of the League of Russian
Social-Democrats Abroad, not as a theoretical postulate, but as a
political demand, as a reply to the question: "Is it possible to
unite the Social-Democratic organizations operating abroad?"-"In
order that unity may be durable, there must be freedom of criti-
cism" [p. 36].
From this statement two very definite conclusions must be drawn:
1. That Rabocheye Dyelo has taken the opportunist tendency in
international Social-Democracy under its wing; and 2. That Rabo..
cheye Dyelo demands freedom for opportunism in Russian Social-
Democracy. We shall examine these conclusions.
Rabocheye Dyelo is "particularly" displeased with Iskra's ind
The allusion here is to Krylov's fable about the full and emprt n Jp rels
rolling down the street, the second with much more noise than v'

Zarya's "inclination to predict a rupture between the Mountain and
the Gironde in international Social-Democracy." *
Generally speaking (writes Krichevsky, editor of Rabocheye Dyelo] this
talk about the Mountain and the Gironde that is heard in the ranks of Social.
Democracy, represents a shallow historical analogy, which looks strange when
it comes from the pen of a Marxist. The Mountain and the Gironde did not
represent two different temperaments, or intellectual tendencies, as idealist
historians may think, but two different classes, or strata-the middle bour-
geoisie on the one hand, and the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat on tie
other. In the modern Socialist movement, however, there is no conflict of
class interests; the S)cialist movement in its entirety, all of its diverse forms
[B. K.'s italics] including the most pronounced Bernsteinists stand on the
basis of the class interests of the proletariat, ahd of the proletarian class
struggle for political and economic emancipation [pp. 32-33].
A bold assertionl! B. Krichevsky, have you heard the fact long
ago noted, that it is precisely the extensive participation of the
"academic" stratum in the Socialist movement in recent years that
has secured the rapid spread of Bernsteinism? And what is most
important-on what does our author base his opinion that even "the
most pronounced Bernsteinists" stand on the basis of the class
struggle for the political and economic emancipation of the prole-
tariat? No one knows. This determined defence of the most pro-
nounced Berinsieinists is not Su1,piiled by any kind of argument
whatever. Apparently, the author believes that if he repeats what
the pronounced Bernsteinists say about themselves, his assertion
requires no proof. But can anything more "shallow" be imagined
than an opinion of a whole tendency that is based on nothing more
than what the representatives of that tendency say about themselves?
Can anything more shallow be imagined than the subsequent "hom-
ily" about the two different, and even diametrically opposite, types,
or paths, of party development? [Rabocheye Dyelo, pp. 33-35.]
The German Social-Democrats, you see, recognize complete free-
dom of criticism, but the French do not, and it is precisely the
latter that present an example of the "harmfulness of intolerance."
A comparison between the two tendencies in the revolutionary proletariat
(the revolutionary and the opportunist), and the two tendencies among the
revolutionary bourgeoisie in the eighteenth century (the Jacobin Mountain
and the Gironde) was made in a leading article in Iskra, No. 2, February,
1901, written by Plekhanov. The Cadets, the Bezzaglavtsi and the Men-
sheviks to this day love to refer to the Ja..'bini:m in Russian Social-Democracy
but they prefer to remain silent about or to forget the circumstances in
which Plekhanov based this term for the first time against the Right Wing of
Social-Democracy. [Lenin's note to 1908 edition.-Ed.]

To which we reply that the very example B. Krichevsky quotes,
illustrates how even those who regard history, literally from the
Ilovaisky point-of-view sometimes describe themselves as Marx-
ists. Of course, there is no need whatever, in explaining the unity
of the German Socialist Party and the dismembered state of the
French Socialist Party, to search for the special features in the his-
tory of the respective countries, to compare the conditions of mili-
tary semi-absolutism in the one country with republican parliamen-
tarism in the other, or to analyse the effects of the Paris Commune
and the effects of the anti-Socialist laws in Germany; to compare
the economic life and economic development of the two countries,
or recall that "the unexampled growth of German Social-Democracy"
was accomplished by a strenuous struggle unexampled in the history
of Socialism, not only against the theoreticians (Muehlberger, Duehr-
ing),** the Socialists of the Chair, but also against mistaken tac.
tics (Lassalle), etc., etc. All that is superfluous! The French
quarrel among themselves because they are intolerant; the Germans
are united because they are good fellows.
And observe, this piece of matchless profundity is intended to
"refute" the fact which is a complete answer to the defence of
Bernsteinism. The question as to whether the Bernsteinists stand
on the basis of the class struggle of the proletariat can be completely
and irrevocably answered only by historical experience. Conse-
quently, the example of France is the most important one in this
respect, because France is the only country in which the Bernstein-
ists attempted to stand independently on their own feet with the
warm approval of their German colleagues (and partly also of the
Ilovaisky-the writer of official school text books on history noted for his
rea,3li..nar\ treatment of Russian history.-Ed.
At tlhe time Engels hurled his attack against Duehring, many representa-
tives of German Social-Democracy inclined towards the latter's views, and
accusations of acerbity, intolerance, uncomradely polemics, etc., were pub.
licly hurled at Engels at the party congress. At the congress of 1877, Johann
Most, supported by his comrades, moved a resolution to prohibit the publica-
tion of Engels' articles in the Vorwaerts because "they did not represent the
interests of the overwhelming majority of the readers," and Vahlteich declared
that the publication of these articles had caused great damage tr the party,
that Duehring had also rendered services to Social-Democracy: 'We must
utilise the services of all those who offer them in the interest of the party;
let the professors engage in polemics if they care to do so, but the Vorwaerts
is not the place to conduct them in" [Vorwaerts, No. 65, June 6, 1877]. Here
we have another example of the defence of "freedom of criticism," and it
would do our legal critics and illegal opportunists who love so much to quote
examples from the Germans, a deal of good to ponder over it!

Russian opportunists). [Cf. Rabocheye Dyelo, Nos. 2-3, pp. 83-
84]. The reference to the "intolerance" of the French, apart from
its "historical" significance (in the Nozdrev sense),* turns out
to be merely an attempt to obscure a very unpleasant fact with angry
But we are not even prepared to make a present of the Germans
to B. Krichevsky and to the other numerous champions of "freedom
of criticism." The "most pronounced Bernsteinists" are still toler-
ated in the ranks of the German Party only because they submit to
the Hanover resolution which emphatically rejected Bernstein's
"amendments," and to the Luebeck resolution, which, notwith-
standing the diplomatic terms in which it is couched, contains a
direct warning to Bernstein. It is a debatable point from the stand-
point of the interests of the German party, as to whether diplomacy
was appropriate in this case and whether, in this case, a bad peace
is better than a good quarrel.** Opinions may differ in regard to
the expediency or not of the methods employed to reject Bernstein-
ism, but the fact remains that the German party did reject Bern-
steinism on two occasions. Therefore, to think that the German
example endorses the thesis: "The most pronounced Bernsteinists
stand for the proletarian class struggle, for its economic and politi-
cal emancipation," means to fail absolutely to understand what is
going on before one's eyes.***
*A character in Gogol's novel Dead Souls. An unusual liar, rogue, and
intriguer, he was frequently beaten for cheating, but he never took matters to
heart; to blackmail even a friend was an ordinary thing for him and he
"bore no grudge against that person."-Ed.
**This is a Russian proverb.-Ed.
*** It must be observed that Rabocheye Dyelo always confines itself to a bare
statement of facts concerning Bernsteinism, and "refrains" from expressing its
own opinion on it. See, for example, the reports of the Stuttgart Congress
in Nos. 2-3 [p. 66], in which all the disagreements are reduced to disagree-
ments over "tactics," and the bare statement is made that the overwhelming
majority remain true to the previous revolutionary tactics. Or take Nos. 4-5
[p. 25ff.], in which we have a bare paraphrasing of the speeches delivered
at the Hanover Congress, and a reprint of the resolution moved by Bebel.
An explanation and criticism of Bernstein is again put off (as was the case
in Nos. 2-3) to be dealt with in a "special article." Curiously enough, in
Nos. 4-5 [p. 33], we read the following: ". the views expounded by Bebel
have the support of the enormous majority of the congress," and a few lines
lower: ". David defended Bernstein's views. .... First of all, he tried
to show that Bernstein and his friends, after all is said and done [sic!],
stand for class struggle. ." This was written in December, 1899, and
in September, 1901, Rabocheye Dyelo, having perhaps lost faith in the cor-
rectness of Bebel's views, repeats David's views as its own!

More than that. As we have already observed, Rabocheye Dyelo
comes before Russian Social-Democracy, demands "freedom of
criticism," and defends Bernsteinism. Apparently, it came to the
conclusion that we were unfair to our "critics" and Bernsteinists.
To whom were we unfair, when and how? About this not a word.
Rabocheye Dyelo does not name a single Russian critic or Bern-
steinist! All that is left for us to do is to make one of two possible
suppositions: First, that the unfairly treated party is none other
than Rabocheye Dyelo itself (and that appears to be confirmed by
the fact that in the two articles in No. 10 reference is made only
to the insults hurled at the Rabocheye Dyelo by Zarya and Iskra).
If that is the case, how is the strange fact to be explained that
Rabocheye Dyelo, which always vehemently dissociates itself from
Bernsteinism, could not defend itself, without putting in a word
on behalf of the "most pronounced Bernsteinists" and of freedom of
criticism? The second supposition is, that a third party has been
treated unfairly. If the second supposition is correct, why should
not this party be named?
We see, therefore, that Rabocheye Dyelo is continuing to play
the game of hide and seek that it has played (as we shall prove
below) ever since it commenced publication. And note the first
practical application of this much-extolled "freedom of criticism."
As a matter of fact, not only has it now been reduced to abstention
from all criticism, but also to abstention from expressing independ-
ent views altogether. The very Rabocheye Dyelo, which avoids
mentioning Russian Bernsteinism as if it were a shameful disease
(to use Starover's apt expression) proposes, for the treatment of
this disease, to copy word for word the latest German prescription
for the treatment of the German variety of the disease! Instead of
freedom of criticism-slavish (worse: monkey-like) imitation! The
very same social and political content of modern international
opportunism reveals itself in a variety of ways according to its
national characteristics. In one country the opportunists long ago
came out under a separate flag, while in others, they ignore theory,
and conduct a Radical-Socialist policy of practical politics. In a
third country, several members of the revolutionary party have
deserted to the camp of opportunism and strive to achieve their
aims not by an open struggle for principles and for new tactics, but
by gradual, unobserved, and, if one may so express it, unpunishable
corruption of their party. In a fourth country again, similar deserters

employ the same methods in the twilight of their political slavish-
ness, and with an extremely original combination of "legal" with
"illegal" activity, etc., etc. To talk about freedom of criticism and
Bernsteinism as a condition for uniting the Russian Social-Demo-
crats, and not to explain how Russian Bernsteinism has manifested
itself, and what fruits it has borne, means to talk for the purpose
of saying nothing.
We shall try, if only in a few words, to say what Rabocheye Dyelo
did not want to say (or perhaps did not even understand).

The peculiar position of Russia in regard to the point we are
examining is that right from the very beginning of the spontaneous
labour movement on the one hand, and the change of progressive
public opinion towards Marxism on the other, a combination was
observed of obviously heterogeneous elements under a common flag
for the purpose of fighting the common enemy (obsolete social and
political views). We refer to the heiday of "legal Marxism."
Speaking generally, this was an extremely curious phenomenon, that
no one in the eighties, or the beginning of the nineties, would have
believed possible. Suddenly, in a country ruled by an autocracy, in
which the press is completely shackled, and in a period of intense
political reaction in which even the tiniest outgrowth of political
discontent and protest was suppressed, a censored literature
springs up, advocating the theory of revolutionary Marxism, in a
language extremely obscure, but understood by those "interested."
The government had accustomed itself to regard only the theory of
(revolutionary) Populism as dingei 'rou wIiltho.ut ol'ecr\in_ its inter-
nal evolution as is usually the case, and iej.iicin't at the criticism,
levelled against it no matter from what side it came. Quite a consid-
erable time elapsed (according to our Russian calculations) before
the government realized what had happened and the unwieldly army
of censors and gendarmes discovered the new enemy and flung itself
upon him. Meanwhile, Marxian books were published one after
another, Marxian journals and newspapers were published, nearly
every one became a Marxist, Marxism was flattered, the Marxists
were courted and the book publishers rejoiced at the extraordinary
ready sale of Marxian literature. It is quite reasonable to suppose
that among the Marxian novices who were carried away by

this stream, there was more than one "author who got a swelled
head.. "
We can now speak calmly of this period as of an event of the
past. It is no secret that the brief appearance of Marxism on the
surface of our literature was called forth by the alliance between
people of extreme and of extremely moderate views. In point of
fact, the latter were bourgeois democrats; and this was the conclu-
sion (so strikingly confirmed by their subsequent "critical" devel-
opment), that intruded itself on the minds of certain persons even
when the "alliance" was still intact.*
That being the case, does not the responsibility for the subsequent
"confusion" rest mainly upon the revolutionary Social-Democrats
who entered into alliance with these future "critics"? This ques-
tion, together with a reply in the affirmative, is sometimes heard from
people with excessively rigid views. But these people are absolutely
wrong. Only those who have no reliance in themselves can fear to
enter into temporary alliances.with unreliable people. Besides, not
a single political party could exist without-enterin toiiuT alli-
ances. The combination with the legal Marxists was in its way the
first really political alliance contracted by Russian Social-Demo-
crats. Thanks to this alliance an astonishingly rapid victory was
obtained over Populism, and Marxian ideas (even though in a vul-
garised form) became very widespread. Moreover, the alliance was
not concluded altogether without "conditions." The proof: The
burning by the censor, in 1895, of the Marxian symposium, Mate-
rials on the Problem of the Economic Development of Russia. If
the literary agreement with the legal Marxists can be compared
with a political alliance, then that book can be compared with a
political treaty.
The rupture, of course, did not occur because the "allies" proved
to be bourgeois democrats. On the contrary, the representatives of
the latter tendency were the natural and desirable allies of the
Social-Democrats in so far as their democratic tasks that were
brought to the front by the prevailing situation in Russia were con-
cerned. But an essential condition for such an alliance must be
complete liberty for Socialists to reveal to the working class that
its interests are diametrically opposed to the interests of the hour-
Reference is made here to an article by E. Tulin [Lenin] written against
Struve, bearing the title "Marxism, as Reflected in Bourgeois Literature."
[See V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. I.-Ed.]

geisie. However, the Bernsteinis-. aid "critical" tendency to which
the majority of the legal Marxists turned, deprived the Socialists of
this liberty and corrupted Socialist consciousness by vulgarising
Marxism, by preaching the toning down of social antagonisms, by
declaring the idea of the social revolution and the dictatorship of
the proletariat to be absurd, by restricting the labour movement and
the class struggle to narrow trade unionism and to a "practical"
struggle for petty, gradual reforms. This was tantamount to the
bourgeois democrat's denial of Socialism's right to independence,
and consequently, of its right to existence; in practice it meant a
striving to convert the nascent labour movement into a tail of the
Naturally, under such circumstances a rupture was necessary.
But the "peculiar" feature of Russia manifested itself in that this
rupture simply meant the closing to the Social-Democrats of access
to the most popular and widespread "legal" literature. The "ex-
Marxists" who took up the flag of "criticism," and who obtained
almost a monopoly in the "sale" of Marxism, entrenched themselves
in this literature. Catchwords like: "Against orthodoxy" and "Long
live freedom of criticism" (now repeated by Raboeheye Dyelo) im-
mediately became the fashion, and the fact that neither the censor
nor the gendarmes could resist this fashion is apparent from the
publication of three Russian editions of Bernstein's celebrated book
(celebrated in the Herostratus sense) and from the fact that the
books by Bernstein, Prokopovich and others were recommended
by Zubatov [Iskra, No. 10]. And this tendency did not confine
itself to the sphere of literature. The turn towards criticism was
accompanied by the turn towards Economism that was taken by
Social-Democratic practical workers.
The manner in which the contacts and mutual dependence be-
tween legal criticism and illegal Economism arose and grew, is an
interesting subject in itself, and may very well be treated in a
special article. It is sufficient to note here that these contacts un-
doubtedly existed. The notoriety deservedly acquired by the Credo
was due precisely to the frankness with which it formulated these
contacts and laid down the fundamental political tendencies of
nomism viz.: Let the workers carry on the economic struggle (it
would be more correct to say the trade union struggle, because the
latter embraces also specifically labour political, and le thle M lar-
ist intelligeniitia merge with the liberals I'o the political "struggle."

Thus, it turned out that trade union work "among the people" meant
fulfilling the first part of this task, and legal criticism meant ful-
filling the second part. This statement proved to be such an ex-
ce-ient weapon against Economism that, had there been no Credo,
it would have been worth inventing.
The Credo was not invented, but it was published without the
consent and perhaps even against the will of its authors. At all
events the present writer, who was partly responsible for dragging
this "programme" into the light of day,* has heard complaints and
reproaches to the effect that copies of the resum6 of their views
which were dubbed the Credo were distributed and even published
in the press together with the protest! We refer to this episode be-
cause it reveals a very peculiar state of mind among our Economists,
viz.: a fear of publicity. This feature is common among the Econo-
mists, and not among the authors of the Credo alone. It was re-
vealed by that most outspoken and honest advocate of Economism,
Rabochaya Mysl, and by Rabocheye Dyelo (which was indignant
over the publication of Economist documents in the Vademecum), as
well as by the Kiev Committee, which two years ago refused to per-
mit the publication of its profession de foi ** together with a pro-
test that had been written against it,*** and by many other indi-
vidual representatives of Economism.
This fear of criticism displayed by the advocates of freedom of
criticism cannot be attributed solely to craftiness (although no
doubt craftiness has something to do with: It would be unwise to
expose the young and as yet puny movement to the enemies' at-
tack!) No, the majority of the Economists quite sincerely disap-
prove (and by the very nature of Economism they must disapprove)
of all theoretical controversies, factional disagreements, of broad
political questions, of schemes for organising revolutionaries, etc.
"Leave all this sort of thing to the exiles abroad!" said a fairly
consistent Economist to me one day, and thereby he expressed a very
Reference is made here to the Protest Signed by the Seventeen against
the Credo. The present writer took part in drawing up this protest (the end
of 1899). The protest and the Credo were published abroad in the spring
of 1900. [See V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. II.-Ed.] It is now known
from the article written by Madame Kuskova, I think in Byloye [Past] that
she was the author of the Credo, and that Mr. Prokopovich was very promi-
nent among the Economists abroad at that time.
** Profession of faith.-Ed.
*** As far as we know the composition of the Kiev Committee has been
changed since then.

widespread (purely trade unionist) view: Our business, he said, is
the labour movement, the labour organizations, here, in our locali-
ties; all the rest are merely the inventions of doctrinaires, an "ex-
aggeration of the importance of ideology," as the authors of the
letter, published in Iskra, No. 12, expressed it in unison with
Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10.
The question now arises: Seeing what the peculiar features of
Russian "criticism" and Russian Bernsteinism were, what should
those who desired, in deeds and not merely in words, to oppose
opportunism have done? First of all, they should have made efforts
to resume the theoreticalwork that was only just commenced in
the period of legal Marxism, and that has now again fallen on the
shoulders of the illegal workers. IInless. s ch.-r orkJsi.undertaken
the successful growth of the movement is impossible. Secondly,
they should have actively combated legal "criticism" that was cor-
rupting people's minds. Thirdly, they should have actively coun-
teracted the confusion and vacillation prevailing in practical work,
and should have exposed and repudiated every conscious or uncon-
scious attempt to degrade our programme and tactics.
That Rabocheye Dyelo did none of these things is a well-known
fact, and further on, we shall deal with this well-known fact from
various aspects. At the moment, however, we desire merely to show
what a glaring contradiction there is between the demand for "free-
dom of criticism" and the peculiar features of our native criticism
and Russian Economism. Indeed, glance at the text of the resolution
by which the League of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad endorsed
the point-of-view of Rabocheye Dyelo.

In the interests of the further ideological development of Social-Democracy,
we recognize the freedom to criticise Social-Democratic theory in party
literature to be absolutely necessary in so far as this criticism does not run
counter to the class and revolutionary character of this theory [Two Con-
gresses, p. 10].
And what is the argument behind this resolution? The resolu-
tion "in its first part coincides with the resolution of the Luebeck
Party Congress on Bernstein. ." In the sinmplicitv of their souls
the Leaguers failed to observe the testimonium paupertatis (certifi-
cate of mental poverty) they give themselves by this piece of imita-
tiveness! "But in its second part, it restricts freedom of
criticism much more than did the Luebeck Party Congress."
So the League's resolution was directed against the Russian

Bernsteinism? If it was not, then the reference to Luebeck is utterly
absurd! But it is not true to say that it "restricts freedom of criti-
cism." In passing their Hanover resolution, the Germans, point by
point, rejected precisely the amendments proposed by Bernstein,
while in their Luebeck resolution they cautioned Bernstein person-
ally, and named him in the resolution. Our "free" imitators,
however, do not make a single reference to a single manifestation
of Russian "criticism" and Russian Economism, and in view of this
omission, the bare reference to the class and revolutionary charac-
ter of the theory, leaves exceedingly wide scope for misinterpreta-
tion, particularly when the League refuses to identify "so-called
Economism" with opportunism [Two Congresses, p. 8]. But all
this en passant. The important thing to note is that the opportunist
attitude towards revolutionary Social-Democrats in Russia is the
very opposite to that in Germany. In Germany, as we know, revolu-
tionary Social-Democrats are in favour of preserving what is: They
stand in favour of the old programme and tactics which are uni-
versally known, and after many decades of experience have become
clear in all their details. The "critics" desire to introduce changes,
and as these critics represent an insignificant minority, and as they
are very shy and halting in their revisionist efforts, one can under-
stand the motives of the majority in confining themselves to the dry
rejection of "innovations." In Russia, however, it is the critics and
Economists who are in favour of preserving what is: The "critics"
wish us to continue to regard them as Marxists, and to guarantee
them the "freedom of criticism" which they enjoyed to the full (for
as a matter of fact they never recognized any kind of party ties *
The absence of recognized party ties and party traditions by itself marks
such a cardinal difference between Russia and Germany that it should have
warned all sensible Socialists from being blindly imitative. But here is an
example of the lengths to which "freedom of criticism" goes in Russia. Mr.
Bulgakov, the Russian critic, utters the following reprimand to the Austrian
critic, Hertz: "Notwithstanding the independence of his conclusions, Hertz,
on this point [on co-operative societies] apparently remains tied by the opinions
of his party, and although he disagrees with it in details, he dare not reject
common principles" [Capitalism and Agriculture, Vol. II, p. 287]. The sub-
ject of a politically enslaved state, in which nine hundred and ninety-nine
out of a thousand of the population are corrupted to the marrow of their
bones by political subservience and completely lack the conception of party
honour and party ties, superciliously reprimands a citizen of a constitutional
state for being excessively "tied by the opinion of his party"! Our illegal
organizations have nothing else to do, of course, but draw up resolutions
about freedom of criticism. .

and, moreover, we never had a generally recognized party organ
which could "restrict" freedom of criticism even by friendly ad-
vice) ; the Economists want the revolutionaries to recognize "com-
plete equality in the movement" [Rabocheye Dyelo No. 10, p. 25],
i. e., to recognize the "legitimacy" of what exists; they do not want
the ideologistss" to try to "divert" the movement from the path
that "is determined by the interaction of material elements and
material environment" [Letter published in Iskra, No. 12]; they
want recognition "for the only struggle that the workers can conduct
under present conditions," which in their opinion is the struggle
"which they are actually conducting at the present time" [Special
Supplement to Rabochaya Mysl, p. 14]. We Revolutionary Social-
Democrats, on the contrary, are dissatisfied with this submission to
elemental forces, i. q., bowing to what is "at the present time"; we
demand that the tactics that have prevailed in recent years be
changed; we declare that "before we can unite, and in order that
we may unite, we must first of all firmly and definitely draw the
lines of demarcation between the various groups." (See announce-
ment of the publication of Iskra.) In a word, the Germans stand
for what is and reject the changes; we demand changes, and reject
subservience to, and conciliation with, what is.
This "little" difference our "free" copyists of German resolutions
failed to notice!


"Dogmatism, doctrinairism," "ossification of the party-the inevi-
table retribution that follows the violent strait-lacing of thought,"
these are the enemies against which the kindly champions of "free-
dom of criticism" are allying their forces in Rabocheye Dyelo.
We are very glad that this question has been brought up and we
would propose only to add to it another question:
Who are to be the judges?
Before us lie two publishers' announcements. One, The Pro-
gramme of the Periodical Organ of the Russian Social-Democratic
League-Rabocheye Dyelo (Reprint from No. 1 of Rabocheye
Dyelo), and the other, Announcement of the Resumption of Pub.
location of Osvobozhdeniye Truda. Both are dated 1899, when
See "Declaration by the Editorial Board of Iskra," The Iskra Period, Book
I, p 38.-Ed.

the "crisis of Marxism" had long been discussed. And what do we
find? In the first production, we would seek in vain for any mani-
festation, or definite elucidation of the position the new organ in-
tends to occupy. Of theoretical work and the urgent tasks that
now confront it, not a word is said in this programme, nor in the
supplements to it, that were' passed by the Third Congress of the
League in 1901 [Two Congresses, pp. 15-18]. During the whole
of this time, the editorial board of Rabocheye Dyelo ignored theo-
retical questions, notwithstanding the fact that these questions ex-
cited the minds of Social-Democrats in all countries.
The other announcement, on the contrary, first of all points to
the diminution of interest in theory observed in recent years, im-
peratively demands "vigilant attention to the theoretical aspect of
the revolutionary movement of the, proletariat," and calls for "ruth-
less criticism of the Bernsteinist and other anti-revolutionary tend-
encies in our movement. The issues of Zarya that have appeared
show to what extent this programme was carried out.
Thus we see that high-sounding phrases against the ossification of
thought, etc., conceal carelessness and helplessness in the develop-
ment of theoretical ideas. The case of the Russian Social-Democrats
strikingly illustrates the fact observed in the whole of Europe (and
long ago observed in German Marxism) that the notorious freedom
of criticism implies, not the substitution of one theory by another,
but freedom from every complete and thought-out theory; it implies
eclecticism and absence of principle. Those who are in the least
acquainted with the actual state of our movement cannot but see that
the spread of Marxism was accompanied by a certain deterioration
of theoretical standards. Quite a number of people, with very little,
and even totally lacking in, theoretical training, joined the move-
ment for the sake of its practical significance and its practical suc-
cesses. We can judge, therefore, how tactless Rabocheye Dyelo is
when, with an air of invincibility, it quotes the statement of Marx
that: "A single step of the real movement is worth a dozen pro-
grammes." To repeat these words in the epoch of theoretical chaos
is sheer mockery. Moreover, these words of Marx are taken from
his letter on the Gotha Programme, in which he sharply condemns
eclectism in the formulation of principles: "If you must combine,"
Marx wrote to the party leaders, "then enter into agreements
to satisfy the practical aims of the movement, but do not haggle
over principles, do not make 'concessions' in theory." This

was Marx's idea, and yet there are people among us who strive-
in his name!-to belittle the significance of theory.
Wilhoit a revolutionary theory there canj_ ._n t exolutionary
movement. This cannot be insisted upon too strongly at a time when
the fashionable preaching of opportunism is combined with absorp-
tion in the narrowest forms of practical activity. The importance
of theory for Russian Social-Democrats is still greater for three
reasons, which are often forgotten:
The first is that our party is only in the process of formation, its
features are only just becoming outlined, and it has not yet com-
pletely settled its reckoning with other tendencies in revolutionary
thought which threaten to divert the movement from the proper
path. Indeed, in very recent times we have observed (as Axelrod
long ago warned the Economists would happen) a revival of non-
Social-Democratic revolutionary tendencies. Under such circum-
stances, what at first sight appears to be an "unimportant" mistake,
may give rise to most deplorable consequences, and only the short-
sighted would consider factional disputes and strict distinction of
shades to be inopportune and superfluous. The fate of Russian
Social-Democracy for many, many years to come may be deter-
mined by the strengthening of one or the other "shade."
The second reason is that the Social-Democratic movement is
essentially an international movement. This does not mean merely
that we must combat national chauvinism. It means also that a
movement that is starting in a young country can be successful only
on the condition that it assimilates the experience of other coun-
tries. In order to assimilate this experience, it is not sufficient
merely to be acquainted with it, or simply to transcribe the latest
resolutions. A critical attitude is required towards this experience,
and ability to subject it to independent tests. Only those who realise
how much the modern labour movement has grown in strength will
understand what a reserve of theoretical forces and political (as
well as revolutionary) experience is required to fulfil this task.
The third reason is that the national tasks of Russian Social-
Democracy are such as have never confronted any other Socialist
party in the world. Farther on we shall deal with the political
and organisational duties which the task of emancipating'the whole
people from the yoke of autocracy imposes upon us. At the mo-
ment, we wish merely to state that the r6le of guard can eeful-
filled only by a patty that is guided by an advanced theory To

understand what this means concretely, let the reader call to mind
the predecessors of Russian Social-Democracy like Herzen, Belinsky,
Chernyshevsky and the brilliant band of revolutionists of the sev-
enties; let him ponder over the world significance which Russian
literature is now acquiring, let him Oh! But that is enough!
We shall quote what Engels said in 1874 concerning the signifi-
cance of theory in the Social-Democratic movement. Engels recog-
nises not two forms of the great struggle Social-Democracy is con-
ducting (political and economic), as is the fashion among us, but
three, adding to the first two also the theoretical struggle. His rec-
ommendations to the German labour movement, which has now
become practically and politically strong, are so instructive from
the point of view of present-day controversies, that we hope the
reader will forgive us for quoting a long passage from his Intro-
duction to the Peasant War in Germany, which long ago became a
literary rarity.

The German workers have two important advantages compared with the
rest of Europe. First, they belong to the most theoretical people of Europe;
second, they have retained that sense of theory which the so-called "educated"
people of Germany have totally lost. Without German philosophy, particularly
that of Hegel, German scientific Socialism (the only scientific Socialism
extant) would never have come into existence. Without a sense for theory,
scientific Socialism would have never become blood and tissue of the workers.
What an enormous advantage this is, may be seen, on the one hand, from the
indifference of the English labour movement towards all theory, which is one
of the reasons why it moves so slowly, in spite of the splendid organisation of
the individual unions; on the other hand, from the mischief and confusion
created by Proudhonism in its original form among the Frenchmen and Bel-
gians, and in its caricature form, as presented by Bakunin, among the Span-
iards and Italians.
The second advantage is that, chronologically speaking, the Germans were
the last to appear in the labour movement. In the same manner as German
theoretical Socialism will never forget that it rests on the shoulders of Saint
Simon, Fourier and Owen, the three who, in spite of their fantastic notions
and Utopianism, belonged to the most significant heads of all time, and
whose genius anticipated the correctness of which can now be proved in a
scientific way, so the practical German labour movement must never forget
that it has developed on the shoulders of the English and French movements,
that it had utilised their experience, acquired at a heavy price, and that for
this reason it was in a position to avoid their mistakes which in their time
were unavoidable. Without the English trade unions and the French political
workers' struggles preceding the German labour movement, without the mighty
impulse given by the Paris Commune, where would we now be?
It must be said to the credit of the German workers that they utilised
the advantages of their situation with rare understanding. For the first time
in the history of the labour movement, the struggle is being so conducted
that its three sides, the theoretical, the political, and the practical economic

(resistance to the capitalists), form one harmonious and well-planned entity.
In this concentric attack, as it were, lies the strength and invincibility of the
German movement.
It is due to this advantageous situation on the one hand, to the insular
peculiarities of the British, and to the cruel oppression of the French move-
ments on the other, that for the present moment the German workers form
the vanguard of the proletarian struggle. How long events will allow them
to occupy this post of honour cannot be foreseen. But as long as they are
placed in it, let us hope that they will discharge their duties in the proper
manner. To this end it will be necessary to double our energies in all the
spheres of struggle and agitation. It is the specified duty of the leaders to
gain an ever-clearer understanding of the theoretical problems, to free them-
selves more and more from the influence of traditional phrases inherited from
the old conception of the world, and constantly to keep in mind that Socialism,
having become a science, demands the same treatment as every other science
-it must be studied. The task of the leaders will be to bring understanding,
thus acquired and clarified, to the working masses, to spread it wih increased
enthusiasm, to close the ranks of the party organizations and of the labour
unions with ever-greater energy. .
If the German workers proceed in this way they may not march exactly
at the head of the movement-it is not in the interest of the movement that
the workers of one country should march at the head of all-but they will
occupy an honourable place on the battle line, and they will stand armed for
battle when other unexpected grave trials or momentous events will demand
heightened courage, heightened determination, and the will to act.*
Engels' words proved prophetic. Within a few years, the German
workers were subjected to severe trials in the form of the anti-Social.
ist laws; but they were fully armed to meet the situation, and suc-
ceeded in emerging from it victoriously.
The Russian workers will have to undergo trials immeasurably
more severe; they will have to take up the fight against a monster,
compared with which anti-Socialist laws in a constitutional country
are but pigmies. History has now confronted us with an imme-
diate task which is more revolutionary than all the immediate tasks
that confront the proletariat of any other country. The fulfilment
of this task, the destruction of the most powerful bulwark, not only
of European, but also (it may now be said) of Asiatic reaction,
places the Russian proletariat in the vanguard of the international
revolutionary proletariat. We shall have the right to count upon
acquiring the honourable title already earned by our predecessors,
the revolutionists of the seventies, if we succeed in inspiring our
movement-which is a thousand times wider and deeper-with the
same devoted determination and vigour.
Third Edition, Leipzig, 1875. [English translation, pp. 27-30.-Ed.]


WE have said that our movement, much wider and deeper than
the movement of the seventies, must be inspired with the same de-
voted determination and energy that inspired the movement at that
time. Indeed, no one, we think, has up till now doubted that the
strength of the modern movement lies in the awakening of the
masses (principally, the industrial proletariat), and that its weak-
ness lies in the lack of consciousness and initiative among the revo-
lutionary leaders.
However, a most astonishing discovery has been made recently,
which threatens to overthrow ell the views that have hitherto pre-
vailed on this question. This discovery was made by Rabocheye
Dyelo, which, in its controversy with Iskra and Zarya, did not con-
fine itself to making objections on separate points, but tried to
ascribe "general disagreements" to a more profound cause-to the
"disagreement concerning the estimation of the relative importance
of the spontaneous and consciously 'methodical' element." Rabo-
cheye Dyelo's indictment reads: "Belittling the importance of the
objective, or spontaneous, element of development." To this we
say: If the controversy with Iskra and Zarya resulted in absolutely
nothing more than causing Rabocheye Dyelo to think over these
"general disagreements," that single result would give us consider-
able satisfaction, so important is this thesis, and so clearly does it
illuminate the quintessence of the present-day theoretical and
political differences that exist among Russian Social-Democrats.
That is why the question of the relation between consciousness and
spontaneity is of such enormous general interest, and that is why
this question must be dealt with in great detail.


In the previous chapter we pointed out how universally absorbed
the educated youth of Russia were in the theories of Marxism in
Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, 1901, pp. 17-18 [R. D.'s italics].

the middle of the nineties. The strikes that followed the famous
St. Petersburg industrial war of 1896 also assumed a similar whole-
sale character. The fact that these strikes spread over the whole
of Russia showed how deep the reviving popular movement was,
and if we must speak of the "spontaneous element" then, of course,
we must admit that this strike movement certainly bore a sponta-
neous character. But there is a difference between spontaneity and
spontaneity. Strikes occurred in Russia in the seventies, and in
the sixties (and also in the first half of the nineteenth century),
and these strikes were accompanied by the "spontaneous" destruc-
tion of machinery, etc. Compared with these "revolts" the strikes
of the nineties might even be described as "conscious," to such an
extent do they mark the progress which the labour movement had
made since that period. This shows that the "spontaneous element,"
in essence, represents nothing more nor less than consciousness in
an embryonic form. Even the primitive rebellions expressed the
awakening of consciousness to a certain extent: The workers aban-
doned their age-long faith in the permanence of the system which
oppressed them. They began I shall not say to understand,
but to sense the necessity for collective resistance, and emphatically
abandoned their slavish submission to their superiors. But all this
was more in the nature of outbursts of desperation and vengeance
than struggle. The strikes of the nineties revealed far greater flashes
of consciousness: Definite demands were put forward, the time to
strike was carefully chosen, known cases and examples in other
places were discussed, etc. While the revolts were simply uprisings
of the oppressed, the systematic strikes represented the class struggle
in embryo, but only in embryo. Taken by themselves, these strikes
were simply trade union struggles, but not yet Social-Democratic
struggles. They testified to the awakening antagonisms between
workers and employers, but the workers were not and could not
be conscious of the irreconcilable antagonism of their interests to
the whole of the modern political and social system, i. e., it was
not yet Social-Democratic consciousness. In this sense, the strikes
of the nineties, in spite of the enormous progress they represented
as compared with the "revolts," represented a purely spontaneous
We said that there could not yet be Social-Democratic conscious-
ness among the workers. This consciousness could only be brought
to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the
8- 2 ---

working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only
trade-union consciousness, i. e., it may itself realise the necessity
for combing in unions, to fight against the employers and to strive
to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation,
The theory of Socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic,
historical and economic theories that were elaborated by the edu-
cated representatives of the propertied classes, the intellectuals.
The founders of modern scientific Socialism, Marx and Engels,
themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia. Similarly, in
Russia, the theoretical doctrine of Social-Democracy arose quite
independently of the spontaneous growth of the labour movement;
it arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of
ideas among the revolutionary Socialist intelligentsia. At the time
of which we are speaking, i. e., the middle of the nineties, this doc-
trine not only represented the completely formulated programme of
the Emancipation of Labour group but had already won the adhe-
sion of the majority of the revolutionary youth in Russia.
Hence, simultaneously we had both the spontaneous awakening
of the masses of the workers-the awakening to conscious life
and Isru-ilo., and the striving of the revolutionary youth, armed
with the Social-Democratic theories, to reach the workers. In this
connection it is particularly important to state the oft-forgotten
(and comparatively little-known) fact that the early Social-Demo-
crats of that period, zealously carried on economic agitation (being
guided in this by the really useful instructions contained in the
pamphlet Agitation that was still in manuscript) but they did not
regard this as their sole task. On the contrary, right from the
very beginning they brought up the general historical tasks of
Russian S.:.-ial-Democracy, and particularly the task of overthrow-
ing the autocracy. For example, the St. Petersburg group of Social-
Democrats, which was formed by the League of the Struggle for the
Emancipation of the Working Class towards the end of 1895, got
out the first number of the journal known as Rabocheye Dyelo.
This number was completely ready for the press when it was seized
by the gendarmes who, on the night of December 8, 1895, raided
Trade Unionism does not exclude "politics" altogether as some imagine.
Trade unions have always conducted political agitation and struggle (but not
Social-Democratic ones). We shall deal with the difference between trade
union politics and Social-Democratic politics in the next chapter.

the house of one of the members of the group, Anatole Alekseyevich
Vaneyev,* and so the original Rabocheye Dyelo was not fated to
see the light. The leading article in this number (which perhaps
in thirty years' time some Russkaya Starina [Russian Antiquary]
will discover in the archives of the Department of Police) de-
scribed the historic tasks of the working class in Russia, of which
the achievement of political liberty is regarded as the most impor-
tant. This number also contained an article entitled, "What Are
Our Cabinet Ministers Thinking Of?" which dealt with the wreck-
ing of the premises of the elementary education committees by the
police. In addition, there was some correspondence, from St.
Petersburg, as well as from other parts of Russia (for example, a
letter on the shooting down of the workers in the Yaroslav prov-
ince). This, if we are not mistaken, "first attempt" of the Rus-
sian Social-Democrats of the nineties was not a narrow, local, and
certainly not an "economic" newspaper, but one that aimed to unite
the strike movement with the revolutionary movement against the
autocracy, and to win all the victims of oppression and political
and reactionary obscurantism over to the side of Social-Democ-
racy. No one in the slightest degree acquainted with the state of
the movement at that period could doubt that such a paper would
have been fully approved of by the workers of the capital and the
revolutionary intelligentsia and would have had a wide circulation.
The failure of the enterprise merely showed that the Social-Dem-
ocrats of that time were unable to meet the immediate requirements
of the time owing to their lack of revolutionary experience and
practical training. The same thing must be said with regard to
the St. Petersburg Rabochy Listok [Workers' Leaflet] and par-
ticularly with regard to the Raboehaya Gazeta and Manifesto estab-
lished in the spring of 1898 by the Russian Social-Democratic
Labour Party. Of course, we would not dream of blaming the
Social-Democrats of that time for this unpreparedness. But in order
to obtain the benefit of the experience of that movement, and to
learn practical lessons from it, we must thoroughly understand the
causes and significance of this or that shortcoming. For that reason
A. A. Vaneyev died in eastern Siberia in 1899, from consumption, which
he contracted as a result of his solitary confinement in prison prior to his
banishment. That is why we are able to publish the above information, the
authenticity of which we guarantee, for it comes from persons who were
closely and directly acquainted with A. A. Vaneyev.

it is extremely important to establish the fact that part (perhaps
even a majority) of the Social-Democrats operating in the period of
1895-1898, quite justly considered it possible even then, at the very
beginning of the "spontaneous movement," to come forward with
a most extensive programme and fighting tactics.*
The lack of training of the majority of the revolutionists being
quite a natural phenomenon, could not have aroused any particular
fears. Since the tasks were properly defined, since the energy ex-
isted for repeated attempts to fulfil these tasks, the temporary fail-
ures were not such a great misfortune. Revolutionary experience
and organisational skill are things that can be acquired provided
the esire is there to acquire these qualities, provided the shortcom-
ings are recognised-which in revolutionary activity is more than
half-way towards removing them!
It was a great misfortune, however, when this consciousness began
to grow dim (it was very lively among the workers of the group
mentioned), when people appeared-and even Social-Democratic
organs-who were prepared to regard shortcomings as virtues, who
tried even to put a theoretical basis to slavish cringing before spon-
taneity. It is time to summarise this tendency, the substance of
which is incorrectly and too narrowly described as Economism.

Rabochaya Mysl

Before dealing with the literary manifestation of this subservience,
we would like to mention the following characteristic fact (com-
municated to us from the above-mentioned source), which throws

Iskra, which adopts a hostile attitude towards the activities of the Social-
Democrats of the end of the nineties, ignores the fact that at that time the
conditions were unfavourable for any other kind of work except fighting for
petty demands, declare the Economists in their Letter to Russian Social-
Democratic Organs [Iskra, No. 12]. The facts quoted above show that the
statement about unfavorablee conditions" is diametrically opposite to the
truth. Not only at the end, but even in the middle of the nineties, all the con-
ditions existed for other work, besides fighting for petty demands, all the
conditions-except the sufficient training of the leaders. Instead of frankly
admitting our, the ideologists', the leaders', lack of sufficient training-the
Economists try to throw the blame entirely upon "the absence of conditions,"
upon the influence of material environment which determined the road from
which it was impossible to divert the movement by any kind of ideology.
What is this but slavish cringing before spontaneity, but the fact that the
ideologistss" are enamoured of their own shortcomings?

some light on circumstances of the rise and growth of two diverg.
ing Russian Social-Democratic tendencies among the comrades work-
ing in St. Petersburg. In the beginning of 1897, just prior to their
banishment, A. A. Vaneyev and several of his comrades attended a
private meeting at which the "old" and "young" members of the
League of the Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class
were gathered. The conversation centred chiefly around the ques-
tion of organisation, and particularly around the "rules for a work-
ers' benefit club," which, in their final form, were published in
Listok Rabotnika-[Workers' Leaflet] Nos. 9-10, p. 46. Sharp
differences were immediately revealed between the "old" members
(the "Decembrists," as the St. Petersburg Social-Democrats jestingly
called them) and several of the "young" members (who subse-
quently took an active part in the work of Rabochaya Mysl), the
divergences were very great and a very heated discussion ensued.
The "young" members defended the main principles of the rules in
the form in which they were published. The "old" members said
that this was not what was wanted: That first of all it was necessary
to consolidate the League of the Struggle into an organisation of
revolutionaries which should have control of all the various workers'
benefit clubs, students' propaganda circles, etc. It goes without
saying that the controversialists had no suspicion at that time that
these disagreements were the beginning of a wide divergence; on the
contrary they regarded them as being of an isolated and casual
nature. But this fact shows that Economism did not arise and
spread in Russia without a fight on the part of the "old" Social-
Democrats' (the Economists of to-day are apt to forget this). And
if this struggle has not left "documentary" traces behind it, it is
solely because the membership of the circles working at that time
underwent such constant change that no continuity was established
and, consequently, difletenle-.s were not recorded in any documents.
The appearance of Rabochaya Mysl brought Economism to the
light of day, but not all at once. We must picture to ourselves
concretely the conditions of the work and the short-livedness of
the majority of the Russian circles (and only those who have ex-
perienced this can have any exact idea of it), in order to under-
stand how much there was accidental in the successes and failures
of the new tendency in various towns, and why for a long time
neither the advocates nor the opponents of this "new" tendency
could make up their minds, indeed they had no opportunity to do

so-as to whether this was really a new tendency or whether it was
merely an expression of the lack of training of certain individuals.
For example, the first mimeographed copies of Rabochaya Mysl
never reached the great majority of Social-Democrats, and we are
able to refer to the leading article in the first number only be-
cause it was reproduced in an article by V. I. [Listok Rabotnika,
Nos. 9-10, p. 47ff.], who, of course, did not fail zealously, but un-
reasonably to extol the new paper, which was so different from the
papers and the schemes for papers mentioned above.* And this
leading article deserves to be dealt with in detail because it so
strongly expresses the spirit of Rabochaya Mysl and Economism
After referring to the fact that the arm of the "blue-coats" could
never stop the progress of the labour movement, the leading article
goes on to say: ". The virility of the labour movement is due
to the fact that the workers themselves are at last taking their fate
in their own hands, and out of the hands of the leaders," and this
fundamental thesis is then developed in greater detail. As a matter
of fact the leaders (i. e., the Social-Democrats, the organizers of
the League of the Struggle) were, one might say, torn out of the
hands of the workers by the police; ** yet it is made to appear that
the workers were fighting against the leaders and eventually lib-
erated themselves from their yoke! Instead of calling upon the
workers to go forward towards the consolidation of the revolu-
tionary organisation, and to the expansion of political activity, they-
began to call for a regress to the purely trade-union struggle. They
announced that "the economic basis of the movement is eclipsed by
the effort never to forget the political idea," and that the watch-
word for the movement was "Fight for an economic position" (!) or
to go even one better, "The workers for the workers." It was de-
It should be stated in passing that the praise of Rabochaya Mysl in No-
vember, 1898, when Economism had become fully defined, especially abroad,
emanated from that same V. I., who, very soon after, became one of the
editors of Rabocheye Dyelo. And yet Rabocheye Dyelo denied that there
were two tendencies in Russian Social-Democracy, and continues to deny it
to this day.
** That this simile is a correct one is shown by the following characteristic
fact. When after the arrest of the "Decembrists," the news was spread among
the workers on the Schlusselburg Road that the discovery and arrest was
facilitated by an agent provocateur, N. M. Mikhailov, a dental surgeon, who
had been in contact with a group associated with the "Decembrists," they
were so enraged that they decided to kill him.

dared that strike funds "are more valuable for the movement than
100 other organizations." (Compare this statement made in 1897
with the controversy between the "Decembrists" and the young
members in the beginning of 1897.) Catch-words like: "We must
concentrate, not on the 'cream' of the workers, but on the 'average'
worker-the mass worker"; "Politics always obediently follows eco-
nomics," etc., etc., became the fashion, and exercised irresistible
influence upon the masses of the youth who were attracted to the
movement, but who, in the majority of cases, were acquainted only
with legally expounded fragments of Marxism.
Consciousness was completely overwhelmed by spontaneity-the
spontaneity of the "Social-Democrats" who repeated V. V.'s "ideas,"
the spontaneity of those workers who were carried away by the
arguments that a kopeck added to a rouble was worth more than
Socialism and politics, and that they must "fight, knowing that they
are fighting not for some future generations, but for themselves
and their children." [Leading article in Rabochaya Mysl, No. 1.]
Phrases like these have always been the favourite weapons of the
Western European bourgeoisie, who, while hating Socialism, strove
(like the German "Sozial-Politiker" Hirsch) to transplant English
trade unionism to their own soil, and to preach to the workers that
the purely trade-union struggle is the struggle for their own and
their children's welfare, and not a struggle for some kind of Social-
ism that will be realized only in the very remote future.** And
now the "V. V.'s of Russian Social-Democracy' repeat these bour-
geois phrases. It is important at this point to note three circum-
stances, which will be useful to us in our further analysis of con-
temporary differences.***
These quotations are taken from the leading article, in the first number
of Rabochaya Mysl already referred to. One can judge from this, the degree
of theoretical training possessed by these "V. V.'s of Russian Social-
Democracy," who kept repeating the crude vulgarisms of "economic
materialism" at a time when the Marxists were carrying on a literary war
against the real V. V. who had long ago been dubbed "a past master of
reactionary deeds" for holding similar views on the relation between politics
and economics!
** The Germans even have a special expression: Nur Gewerkschaftler, which
means an advocate of the "pure and simple" trade-union struggle.
*** We emphasise the word contemporary for the benefit of those who may
pharisaically shrug their shoulders and say: It is easy enough to attack
Rabochaya Mysl now, but is not all this ancient history? Mutato nominee de
te fabula narratur [Change the name and the tale refers to you-Ed.l, we
reply to such contemporary pharisees whose complete mental subjection to
Rabochaya Msyl will be proved farther on.

First of all, the overwhelming of consciousness by spontaneity to
which we referred above, also took place spontaneously. This may
sound like a pun, but alas, it is the bitter truth. It did not take
place as a result of an open struggle between two diametrically op-
posed points-of-view, in which one gained the victory over the other;
it occurred because an increasing number of "old" revolutionaries
were "torn away" by the gendarmes, and because increasing numbers
of "young" members and "V. V.'s of Russian Social-Democracy"
came upon the scene. Every one, who I shall not say has partici-
pated in the contemporary Russian movement, but who has at least
breathed its atmosphere, knows perfectly well that this was so.
And the reason why we, nevertheless, strongly urge the reader to
ponder well this universally known fact, and why we quote the
facts, as an illustration, so to speak, about the Rabocheye Dyelo as
it first appeared, and about the controversy between the "old" and
the "young" at the beginning of 1897, is that certain persons are
speculating on the public's (or the very youthful youth's) ignorance
of these facts, and are boasting of their "democracy." We shall
return to this point farther on.
Secondly, in the very first literary manifestation of Economism,
we observe the extremely curious and highly characteristic phe-
nomenon-from the point-of-view of the differences prevailing
among contemporary Social-Democrats-that the adherents of the
"pure and simple" labour movement, the worshippers of the closest
"organic" (the term used by Rabocheye Dyelo) contacts with the
proletarian struggle, the opponents of the non-labour intelligentsia
(notwithstanding that it is a Socialist intelligentsia) are compelled,
in order to defend their positions, to resort to the arguments of
the bourgeois "pure and simple" trade unionists. This shows that
right from the outset, Rabochaya Mysl began unconsciously to carry
out the programme of the Credo. This shows (what the Rabocheye
Dyelo cannot understand) that subservience to the spontaneity of
the labour movement, the belittling of the r61e of "the conscious
element," of the r6le of Social-Democracy, means, whether one
likes it or not, growth of influence of bourgeois ideology among the
workers. All those who talk about "exaggerating the importance
of ideology," about exaggerating the r6le of the conscious ele-
ments,** etc., imagine that the pure and simple labour movement
Letter by the Economists, in Iskra, No. 12.
** Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10.

can work out an independent ideology for itself, if only the workers
"take their fate out of the hands of the leaders." But in this they
are profoundly mistaken. To supplement what has been said above,
we shall quote the following profoundly true and important utter-
ances by Karl Kautsky on the new programme of the Austrian
Social-Democratic Party: *

Many of our revisionist critics believe that Marx asserted that economic
development and the class struggle create, not only the conditions for Socialist
production, but also, and directly, the consciousness (K. K.'s italics) of its
necessity. And these critics advance the argument that the most highly
capitalistically developed country, England, is more remote than any other
from this consciousness. Judging from the draft, one must come to the
conclusion that the committee which drafted the Austrian Programme shared
this alleged orthodox-Marxian view which is thus refuted. In the draft pro-
gramme it is stated: "The more capitalist development increases the numbers
of the proletariat, the more the proletariat is compelled, and obtains the
opportunity to fight against capitalism." The proletariat becomes "conscious"
of the possibility and necessity for Socialism. In this connection Socialist
coniciou'.ne-s is .rj.pre'nid as a neceraryv and direct reull of he prolelarian
class struggle._ But this is absolutelv untrue. Of core, Socialiim. a- a
theory, has its roots in a modern economic relationship in the same way as the
class struggle of the proletariat has, and in the same way as the latter
emerges from the struggle against the capitalist-created poverty and misery
of the masses. But Socialism and the class struggle arise side by side and
not one out of the other; each arises out of different premises. Modern
Socialist con4io'iu-nes can ari-e only on the ha3is of profound >:ientific
ltTjinleJc. ilnt-ee.T enec..n..n;ic science ii .a- Lmuch a c.;ndili..n for
Socialist production, as, say; modern technology, and the proletariat can
create neither the one nor the other, no matter how much it may desire to
do so; both arise out of the modern social process. The vehicles of science
are not the proletariat, but the bourgeois intelligentsia (K. K.'s italics): It
was out of the heads of members of this stratum that modern Socialism
originated, and it was they who communicated it to the more intellectually
developed proletarians who, in their turn, introduce it into the proletarian
class struggle where conditions allow that to be done. Thus, Socialist con-
sciousness is something introduced into the proletarian class struggle from
without (von Aussen Hineingetragenes), and not something that arose within
it spontaneously (urwilchsig). Accordingly, the old Hainfeld programme
quite rightly stated that the task of Social-Democracy is to imbue the pro-
letariat with the consciousness of its position and the consciousness of its
tasks. There would be no need for this if consciousness emerged from the
class struggle. The new draft copied this postulate from the old programme,
and attached it to the postulate mentioned above. But this completely broke
the line of thought. .
Since there can be no talk of an independent ideology being de-
veloped by the masses of the workers in the process of their move-

Neue Zeit, 1901-1902, XX, I, No. 3, p. 79. The committee's draft to which
Kautsky refers was passed by the Vienna Congress at the end of last year
in a slightly amended form.

ment then the only choice is: Either bourgeois, or Socialist ideol-
ogy. There is no middle course (for humanity has not created a
"third" ideology, and, moreover, in a society torn by class antag-
onisms there can never be a non-class or above-class ideology).
Hence, to belittle Socialist ideology in any way, to deviate from it in
the slightest degree means strengthening bourgeois ideology. There
is a lot of talk about spontaneity, but the spontaneous development
of the labour movement leads to its becoming subordinated to
bourgeois ideology, it means developing according to the programme
of the Credo, for the spontaneous labour movement is pure and
simple trade unionism, is Nur-Gewerkschaftlerei, and trade union-
ism means the ideological subordination of the workers to the bour-
geoisie. Hence, our task, the task of Social-Democracy, is to com-
bat spontaneity, to divert the labour movement, with its spontaneous
trade-unionist striving, from under the wing of the bourgeoisie,
and to bring it under the wing of revolutionary Social-Democracy.
The phrases employed by the authors of the "Economic" letter
in Iskra, No. 12, about the efforts of the most inspired ideologists
not being able to divert the labour movement from the path that
is determined by the interaction of the material elements and the
material environment are tantamount to the abandonment of
Socialism, and if only the authors of this letter fearlessly thought
out what they say to its logical conclusion, as every one who enters
into the arena of literary and public activity should do, they would
have nothing else to do but "fold their useless arms over their
empty breasts" and leave the field of action to the Struves and
Prokopoviches who are dragging the labour movement "along the
line of least resistance," i. e., along the line of bourgeois trade

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

unionism, or to the Zubatovs who are dragging it along the line of
clerical and gendarme "ideology."
Recall the example of Germany. What was the historical service
Lassalle rendered to the German labour movement? It was that he
diverted that movement from the path of progressive trade unionism
and co-operation, along which it was travelling spontaneously (with
the benign assistance of Schulze-Delitzsch and those like him). To
fulfil a task like that, it is necessary to do something altogether
different from indulging in talk about belittling the spontaneous
element, about the tactics-process and about the interaction between
elements and environment, etc. 4 desperate strusrgl against spon-
taneity had to be carried on, and only after such a struggle, extend-
ing over many years, was it possible to convert the working popu-
lation of Berlin from a bulwark of the Progressive Party into one
of the finest strongholds of Social-Democracy. This fight is not
finished even now (as those who study the history of the German
movement from Prokopovich, and its philosophy from Struve be-
lieve). Even now the German working class is, so to speak, broken
up into a number of ideologies. A section of the workers is
organised in Catholic and Monarchist labour unions; another
section is organised in the Hirsch-Duncker unions, founded by the
bourgeois worshippers of English trade unionism, while a third
section is organised in Social-Democratic trade unions. The latter
is immeasurably more numerous than the rest, but Social-Democ-
racy was able to achieve this superiority and will be able to main-
tain it, only by unswervingly fighting against all other ideologies.
But why, the reader will ask, does the spontaneous movement, the
movement along the line of least resistance, lead to the domination
of bourgeois ideology? For the simple reason that bourgeois
ideology is far older in origin than Social-Democratic ideology;
because it is more fully developed and because it possesses im-
measurably more opportunities for becoming widespread.* And
*It is often said: The working class spontaneously gravitates towards
Socialism. This is perfectly true in the sense that Socialist theory defines
the causes of the poverty of the working class more profoundly and more
correctly than any other theory, and for that reason the workers are able
to appreciate it so easily, provided, however, that this theory does not step
aside for spontaneity and provided it subordinates spontaneity to itself.
Usually this is taken for granted, but Rabocheye Dyelo forgets or distorts this
obvious thing. The working class spontaneously gravitates towards Socialism,
nevertheless, the more widespread (and continuously revived in the most

the younger the Socialist movement is in any given country, the
more vigorously must it fight against all attempts to entrench non-
Socialist ideology, and the more strongly must it warn the workers
against those bad counsellors who shout against "exaggerating the
conscious elements," etc. The authors of the Economic Letter, in
unison with Rabocheye Dyelo, declaim against the intolerance that
is characteristic of the infancy of the movement. To this we reply:
Yes, our movement is indeed in its infancy, and in order that it may
grow up the quicker, it must become infected with intolerance
against all those who retard its growth by subservience to spon-
taneity. Nothing is so ridiculous and harmful as pretending that
we are "old hands" who have long ago experienced all the decisive
episodes of the struggle!
Thirdly, the first number of Rabochaya Mysl shows that the term
"Economism" (which, of course, we do not propose to abandon
because it has more or less established itself) does not adequately
convey the real character of the new tendency. Rabochaya Mysl
does not altogether repudiate the political struggle: The Benefit
Society constitution, published in Rabochaya Mysl, No. 1, contains
a reference to fighting against the government. Rabochaya Mysl
believes, however, that "politics always obediently follow eco-
nomics" (and Rabocheye Dyelo gives a variation of this thesis when,
in its programme, it asserts that "in Russia more than in any other
country, the economic struggle is inseparable from the political
struggle"). If by politics is meant Social-Democratic politics, then
the postulates advanced by Rabochaya Mysl and *Rabocheye Dyelo
are wrong. The economic struggle of the workers is very often
connected with (although not inseparable from) bourgeois politics,
clerical politics, etc., as we have already seen. If by politics is
meant trade-union politics, i. e., the common striving of all workers
to secure from the government measures for the alleviation of their
distress, measures characteristic of their position, but which do not
altogether change that position, i. e., which do not remove the sub-
jection of labour to capital, then Rabocheye Dyelo's postulate is
correct. That striving indeed is common to the British trade union-
ists, who are liostile to Socialism, to the Catholic workers, to the
"Zubatov" workers, etc. There are politics and politics. We see,
therefore, that Rabochaya Mysl does not so much deny the political
diverse forms) bourgeois ideology imposes itself spontaneously upon the
working class more than any other.

struggle as bow to its spontaneity, to its lack of purpose. While
recognizing the political struggle (it would be more correct to say:
the political desires and demands of the workers), which arises
spontaneously from the labour movement itself, it absolutely re-
fuses independently to work out a specifically Social-Democratic
policy corresponding to the general tasks of Socialism and to con-
temporary conditions in Russia. Farther on we shall show that
Rabocheye Dyelo commits the same error.


We have dealt at such length with the little-known and now
almost forgotten leading article in the first number of Rabochaya
Mysl because it was the first and most striking expression of that
general stream of thought which afterwards found the light of day
in innumerable streamlets. V. I. was absolutely right when, in
praising the first number and the leading article of Rabochaya Mysl,
he said that it was written in a "sharp and provocative" style
[Listok Rabotnika, Nos. 9-10, p. 49]. Every man with convictions,
who thinks he has something new to say, writes "provocatively" and
expresses his views strongly. Only those who are accustomed to sit
between two stools lack provocativenesss"; only such, people are
able to praise the provocativeness of Rabochaya Mysl one day, and
attack the "provocative polemics" of its opponents the next.
We shall not dwell on the Special Supplement to Rabochaya Mysl
(below we shall have occasion on a number of points to refer to this
work, which expresses the ideas of the Economists more consist-
ently than any other) but shall briefly mention the Manifesto of the
Self-Emancipation of the Workers' Group [March, 1899, reprinted
in the London Nakanunye [On the Eve], No. 7, June, 1899]. The
authors of this manifesto quite rightly say that "the workers of
Russia are only just awakening, are only just looking around, and
instinclii'vly clutch at the first means of s rupggle that come to their
hands." But from this correct observation, they draw the same in-
correct conclusion that is drawn by Rabochaya Mysl, forgetting that
instinct is that unconsciousness (spontaneity) to whose aid the
Socialists must come; that the "first means of struggle that come
to their hands" will always be in modern society, the trade union
means of struggle, and the "first ideology that comes to hand" will
be bourgeois (trade union) ideology. Similarly, these authors do

not "repudiate" politics, they merely say (merely!), repeating what
was said by V. V., that politics are thesuperstructure, and therefore,
"political agitation must be the superstructure to the agitation
carried on in favour of the economic struggle; it must arise on the
basis of this struggle and give precedence to it."
As for Rabocheye Dyelo, it commenced its activity by "a defence"
of the Economists. It uttered a downright untruth in its very first
number [No. 1, pp. 141-142] when it stated that it "did not know
which young comrades Axelrod referred to" in his well-known pam-
phlet, in which he uttered a warning against the Economists.* In
the controversy that flared up with Axelrod and Plekhanov over
this falsehood, Rabocheye Dyelo was compelled to admit that "by
expressing ignorance, it desired to defend all the younger Social-
Democrats abroad from this unjust accusation" (Axelrod accused
the Economists of having a restricted outlook). As a matter of
fact this accusation was absolutely just, and Rabocheye Dyelo
knows perfectly well that, among others, it applied to V. I., a
member of its editorial staff. We shall observe in passing that in
this controversy Axelrod was absolutely right, and Rabochei e Dyelo
was absolutely wrong, in their respective interpretations of my
pamphlet: The Tasks of Russian Social-Democrats.** That pam-
phlet was written in 1897, before the appearance of: Rabochaya
Mysl when I thought, and rightly thought, that the original tendency
of the St. Petersburg League of Struggle, which I described above,
was Oth prediom'inlant one. At all events, that tendency was the
predominant, one until the middle of 1898. Consequently, in its
attempt to refute the existence and dangers of Economism, Rabo-
cheye Dyelo had no right whatever to refer to a pamphlet which
expressed views that were squeezed out by Economist views in St.
Petersburg in 1897-1898.***
The Contemporary Tasks and Tactics of the Russian Social-Democrats,
Geneva, 1898. Two letters written to Rabochaya Gazeta in 1897.
** See V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. II.-Ed.
*** In its attempt to justify the first untruth it uttered ("we do not know
which young comrades Axelrod referred to") Rabocheye Dyelo uttered a
second, when, in its Reply it wrote: "Since the review of The Tasks was pub-
lished, a tendency has arisen, or has become more or less defined among
certain Russian Social-Democrats, towards economic one-sidedness, which
represents a step backwards from the state of our movement as described
in The Tasks" [p. 9]. This is what the Reply says, published in 1900. But
the first number of Rabocheye Dyelo (containing the review) appeared in
April, 1899. Did Economism arise only in 1899? No. The protest of the

But Rabocheye Dyelo not only "defended" the Economists-it
itself constantly fell into fundamental Economist errors. The cause
of these errors is to be found in the ambiguity of the interpretation
given to the following thesis in Rabocheye Dyelo's programme:
"We consider that the most important phenomenon of Russian life,
the one that will mostly determine the tasks [our italics] and the
character of the literary activity of the league, is the mass labour
movement [Rabocheye Dyelo's italics] that has arisen in recent
years." That the mass movement is a most important phenomenon
is a fact about which there can be no dispute. But the crux of the
question is, What is the meaning of the phrase: The labour move-
ment will "determine the tasks"? It may be interpreted in one of
two ways. Either it means subservience to the spontaneity of this
movement, i. e., reducing the rl1e of Social.Democracy to mere sub-
servience to the labour movement as such (the interpretation given
to it by Rabochaya Mysl, the Self-Emancipation group and other
Economists); or it may mean that the mass movement sets before us
new, theoretical, political and organisational tasks, far more com-
plicated than those that might have satisfied us in the period before
the rise of the mass movement. Rabocheye Dyelo inclined and still
inclines towards the first interpretation, for it said nothing definitely
about new tasks, but argued all the time as if the "mass movement"
relieved us of the necessity of clearly appreciating and fulfilling
the tasks it sets before us. We need only point out that Rabocheye
Dyelo considered that we could not possibly accept the overthrow
of the autocracy as the first task of the mass labour movement, and
that it degraded this task (ostensibly in the interests of the mass
movement) to the struggle for immediate political demands.
[Reply, p. 25.]
We shall pass over the article by B. Krichevsky, the editor of
Rabocheye Dyelo, entitled "The Economic and Political Struggle
in the Russian Movement," published in No. 7, of that paper, in
which these very mistakes are repeated.* and take up Rabocheye
Dyelo, No. 10.
Russian Social-Democrats against Economism (the protest against the Credo)
appeared in 1899. Economism arose in 1897, as Rabocheye Dyelo very well
knows, for already in November, 1898, V. I. praised Rabochaya Mysl, in
Listok Rabotnika, Nos. 9-10.
The "stages theory," or the theory of "timid zigzags" in the political
struggle, is expressed in this article approximately in the following way

We shall not, of course, enter in detail into the various objections
raised by B. Krichevsky and Martynov against Zarya and Iskra.
What interests us here solely, is the theoretical position taken up by
Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10. For example, we shall not examine the
literary curiosity, that Rabocheye Dyelo saw a diametricall" contra-
diction between the postulate:

Social-Democracy does not tie its hands, it does not restrict its activities
to some preconceived plan or method- of political struggle:, It recognizes all
methods of struggle, as long as they correspond to the forces at the disposal
of the party under the given conditions, etc. [Iskra, No. 1].*

and the postulate:
Without a strong organisation, tested in the political struggle carried on
under all circumstances and in all periods, there can be no talk of a systematic
plan of activity, enlightened by firm principles and unswervingly carried out,
which alone is worthy of being called tactics [Iskra, No. 4].**

To confuse the recognition, in principle, of all means of struggle,
of all plans and methods, provided they are expedient-with the
necessity at given political moment to be'guided by a strictly
adhered to plan in talking of tactics, is tantamount to confusing the

"Political demands, which in their character are common to the whole of
Russia should, however, at first [this was written in August, 1900!] correspond
to the experience gained by the given stratum [sic!] of workers in the eco-
nomic struggle. Only [!1 on the basis of this experience can and should the
political agitation be taken up," etc. [p. 11]. On page 4, the author, pro-
testing against what he regards as the absolutely unfounded charge of
Economist heresy, pathetically exclaims: "What Social-Democrat does not
know that according to the theories of Marx and Engels, the class interest
is the decisive factor in history, and, consequently, that the proletarian struggle
for the defence of its economic interests must be of first-rate importance in
its class development and struggle for emancipation?" (our italics). The
word "consequently" is absolutely out of place. The fact that economic
interests are a decisive factor does not in the least imply that the economic
(i. e., trade union) struggle must be the main factor, for the essential and
"decisive" interest of classes can be satisfied only by radical political changes.
In particular the fundamental economic interests of the proletariat can be
satisfied only by a political revolution, that will substitute the dictatorship of
the proletariat for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. B. Krichevsky repeats
the arguments of the "V. V.'s of Russian Social-Democracy" (i. e., politics fol-
lows economics, etc.), and the Bernsteinists of German Social-Democracy (for
example, by arguments like these, Woltmann tried to prove that the workers
must first of all acquire "economic power" before they can think about politi-
cal revolution).
See conclusion of article, "The Urgent Tasks of Our Movement," The
Iskra Period, Book I, p. 57.-Ed.
** See beginning of article "Where to Begin," The Iskra Period, Book i,
p. 109--Ed.

lecognilion by medical science of all kinds of treatment of diseases
with the necessity for adopting a certain definite method of treat-
ment for a given disease. The point is, however, that Rabocheye
Dyelo, while suffering from a disease which we have called sub-
servience to spontaiilty, refuses to recognize any "method of treat-
ment" for that disease. Hence, it made the remarkable discovery
that "a plan of tactics contradicts the fundamental spirit of Marx-
inii" [No. 10, p. 18], that tactics are "a process of growth of party
tasks, which grow with the party" [(p. 11), Rabocheye Dyelo's
italics]. The latter remark has every chance of becoming a cele-
brated maxim, a permanent monument to the tendency of Rabo-
cheye Drelo. To the question: Whither? a leading organ replies:
Motion is a process of alteration in the distance between starting
point and destination. This matchless example of profundity is not
merely a literary curiosity (if it were, it would not be worth dealing
with at length), but the programme of the whole tendency, i. e., the
programme which R. M. (in the Speial Supplement to Rabochaya
.Ili zl expreised in the words: "That struggle is desirable which is
possible, and the struggle which is possible is the one that is going
on now."' It is the tendency of unbounded opportunism, which
passively adapts itself to spontaneity.
"A plan of tactics contradicts the fundamental spirit of Mar%-
ism!" But this is a libel on Marxism; it is like the caricature of it
that was presented to us by the Narodniks in their fight against us.
It means putting restraint on the initiative and energy of class-con-
scious fighters, whereas Marxism, on the contrary, gives a gigantic
impetus to the initiative and energy of Social-Democrati, opens up
for them the widest perspectives and, if one may so express it, places
at their disposal the mighty force of millions and millions of
workers "spontaneously" rising for the struggle. The whole his-
tory of international Social-Democracy seethes with plans advanced
first by one and then by another political leader; some confirming
the far-sightedness and correct political and organisational insight
of their authors and others revealing their short-sightedness and
lack of political judgment. At the time when Germany was passing
one of the most important turning points in its history-the time of
the establishment of the Empire, the opening of the Reichstag, and
the gratilng of universal suffrage, Liebknecht had one plan for
Social-Democratic policy and work, and Schweitzer had another.

When the anti-Socialist laws came down on the heads of the German
Socialists, Most and Hasselmann, had one plan, that is, to call for
violence and terror; Hochberg, Schramm and (partly) Bernstein
had another, which they began to preach to the Social-Democrats,
somewhat as follows: They themselves provoked the passing of the
anti-Socialist laws by being unreasonably bitter and revolutionary,
and must now show that they deserve pardon by exemplary conduct.
There was yet a third plan proposed by those who paved the way
for and carried out the publication of an illegal organ. It is easy,
of course, in retrospect, many years after the fight over the selection
of the path to be followed has finished, and after history has
pronounced its verdict as to the expediency of the path selected, to
utter profound maxims about the growth of party tasks that grow
with the party. But at a time of confusion,* when the Russian
"critics" and Economists degrade Social-Democracy to the level of
trade unionism, and when the terrorists are strongly advocating the
adoption of a "plan of tactics" that repeats the old mistakes, at
such a time, to confine oneself to such profundities, means simply
to issue to oneself a "certificate of mental poverty." At a time
when many Russian Social-Democrats suffer from lack of initiative
and energy, from a lack of "breadth of political propaganda, agita-
tion and organisation,** a lack of plans for a broader organisation
of revolutionary work, at such a time to say: "A plan of tactics
contr.Aicts the fundamental spirit of Marxism," not only means
theoretically to vulgarise Marxism, but also practically to drag the
party backward. Rabocheye Dyelo goes on sermonising:
The revolutionary Social-Democrat is only confronted by the task of
accelerating objective development by his conscious work; it is not his task
to obviate it or substitute his own subjective plans for this development.
Iskra knois all this in theory. But the enormous importance which Marxism
quite justly attaches to conscious revolutionary work cases it in practice,
owing to its doctrinaire view of tactics, to belittle the significance of the
objective or the spontaneous elements of development [p. 18].
Another example of the extraordinary theoretical confusion
worthy of V. V. and that fraternity. We would ask our philosopher:
Ein .ahr Der Verwirrung (A Year of Confusion) is the title Mehring
gave to' the chapter of his History of German Social-Democracy in which he
describes the hesitancy and lack of determination displayed at first by the
Socialists in selecting the "plan of tactics" for the new .ilutvi..n.
** See leading article in Iskra, No. 1, "The Urgent Tasks of our Movement,"
The Isira Period, Book I, p. 53.-Ed.

How may a deviser of subjective plans "belittle" objective develop-
ment? Obviously by losing sight of the fact that this objective
development creates or strengthens, destroys or weakens certain
classes, strata, groups, nations, groups of nations, etc., and in this
way creates a definite international, political grouping of forces,
the position of revolutionary parties, etc. If the deviser of plans
did that, his mistake would not be that he belittled the spontaneous
element, but that he belittled the conscious element, for he would
then show that he lacked the "consciousness" that would enable him
properly to understand objective development. Hence, the very
talk about "estimating the relative significance" (Rabocheye Dyelo's
italics) of spontaneity and consciousness sufficiently reveals a com-
plete lack of "consciousness." If certain "spontaneous elements of
development" can be grasped at all by human understanding, then
an incorrect estimation of them would be tantamount to "belittling
the conscious element." But if they cannot be grasped, then we
cannot be aware of them, and therefore cannot speak of them.
What is B. Krichevsky arguing about then? If he thinks that
Iskra's "subjective plans" are erroneous (as he in fact declares
them to be), then he ought to show what objective facts are ignored
in these plans, and then charge Iskra with a lack of consciousness
for ignoring them, with, to use his own words, "belittling the con-
scious element." If, however, while being displeased with sub-
jective plans he can bring forward no other argument except that
of "belittling the spontaneous element" (!!) he merely shows:
1. That he theoretically understands Marxism A la Kareyevs and the
Mikhailovskys, who have been sufficiently ridiculed by Beltov,
and 2. That practically, he is quite pleased with the "spontaneous
elements of development" that have drawn our legal Marxists to-
wards Bernsteinism and our Social-Democrats towards Economism,
and that he is fall of wrath against those who have determined at
all costs to divert Russian Social-Democracy from the path of
spontaneous development.
And then follow things that are positively funny. "In the same
way as men and women will multiply in the old-fashioned way,
notwithstanding all the discoveries of natural science, so the birth
of a new social order will come about in the future mainly as a
result of elemental outbursts, notwithstanding all the discoveries of
social science and the increase in the number of conscious fighters."
[p. 19.] Our grandfathers, in their old-fashioned wisdom used to

say: "Any fool can bring forth children," and to-day the "modern
Socialists" (A la Narcissus Tuporylov) in their wisdom say: "Any
fool can help the spontaneous birth of a new social order." We
too are of that opinion. All that is required for help of that kind
is to surrender to Economism when Economism reigns and to terror-
ism when terrorism arises. For example, in the spring of this year,
when it was so important to utter a note of warning against terror-
ism, Rabocheye Dyelo stood in amazement confronted by a problem
that was "new" to it and now, six months after, when the problem
has become less topical, it, at one and the same time, presents us
with the declaration: "We think that it is not and cannot be the
task of Social-Democracy to counteract the rise of terroristic
temper" [Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 23], and the congress reso-
lution: "The congress regards systematic and aggressive terror as
being inopportune" [Two Congresses, p. 18]. How beautifully
clear and connected this is! Not to counteract, but to declare
inopportune, and to declare it in such a way that the "resolution"
shall not apply to unsystematic and defensive terror. It must be
admitted that a resolution like that is extremely safe and corn,
pletely insured against error, just as a man who talks, but says
nothing, is insured against error! And all that is required to be
able to draft a resolution like that is: Ability to keep at the tail end
of the movement. When Iskra ridiculed Rabocheye Dyelo for de-
claring the question of terror to be a new one,* the latter angrily
accused Iskra of "having the incredible effrontery to impose upon
the party organizations decisions on tactical questions arrived at by
a group of emigrant writers more than sixteen years ago" [p. 24].
Effrontery indeed, and an exaggeration of the conscious elements
to find the theoretical solutions to problems, and then to try to
prove to the organisation, to the party and to the masses that this
solution is correct! ** How much better it is to repeat something
that has been learned by rote, and, without "imposing" anything
upon anybody, swing with every "turn" in the direction of Econo-
mism or in the direction of terrorism. Rabocheye Dyelo even goes
so far as to generalise this gospel of worldly wisdom and accuses

See beginning of article "Where to Begin," The Iskra Period, Book I, p.
** Nor must it be forgotten that in solving "theoretically" the problem of
terror, the Emancipation of Labour group generalised the experience of the
preceding revolutionary movement.

Ishra and 7arya with "setting up its proeralinli against the move-
ment, like a spirit llo\erinll over the formless chaos" tp. 29). But
vhat else is thie function of Social-Demo- racy if iot to be a "spirit,"
not onll ioeriii oer the sIpontaine'.ii movement but al.o raising
the monvemenet to he lerel of "its pirograrnirir"? Surel. it i' not its
function to drag at the tail of the movement: At best, this would be
of no service to the movement; at the worst, it would be very, very
harmful. Rabocheye Dyelo, however, not only follows this "tactics-
process," but elevates it to a pi inciple, so that it would be more
correct to describe its tendency not as *:,Opolttuni-.s, but khvostism
(from the word khvost).* And it must be admitted, that Ihose who
have determined always to follow behind the movement like a tail,
are absolutely and forever ensured against "belittling the spon-
taneous element of development."

And so, we have become convinced that the fundamental error
commitled by the "new tendency" in Russian Social-Denrocracy lies
in its subservience to spontaneity, and it. failiue to understand that
the spontaneity of the ii.msses demands a mia s of c.prSi.i,-usness from
us Social-Democrals. The moi ce S.lontaneo: usl the i:-se.; ise, the
more wide"spiead tile movement becomes, so much the more rapidly
grows the demand for greater conciousne-s in the theoretical,
political and organisational work of Social-Democracy.
The spontaneous rise of the masses in Russia proceeded (and
continues) with such rapidity that the young untrained Sorial-
Democrats proved unfitted for the gigantic tasks thal cofronited
them. This lack of training is our common misfortune, the mis-
fortune of all Russian Social-Demnocrals.; The rise of the masses
proceeded and spread uniniterruptedly and continuously; it not only
continued in the places it commenced in, but it spread to new locali-
ties and to new strata of the population Iinflurien:ed by the labour
movement, the ferment among the students and the intellectuals
generally, and even among the penaantrv levivedl. Rex\olul;oii-
aries..1im'.eer _ige behi'nl this rise of the masses in loth their
"thleoi~es" aid in their practical arti y6. thflv ailed to emtalliis an
unrinterrtpted oireanisatirin hi a\inr corttir inity withl tlie ppat. and
_capable of leading the hilole mroveriment.
In Chapter I. we proved that Rabocheie Dvelo degraded our
theoretical tasks and that it "spontaneously" repeated the fashion-
*Khvost is the Russian word for tail.-Ed.

able catchword "freedom of criticism": that those who repeated
this catchword lacked the "consciousness" to understand that the
position of the opportunist "critics" and the revolutionaries, both
in Germany and in Russia, are diametrically opposed to each other.
In the following chapters, we shall show how this subservience to
spontaneity found expression in the sphere of the political tasks and
the organisational work of Social-Democracy.


WE shall start off again from the praises that have been sund
for Rabocheye Dyelo. Martynov gave his article in No. 10 of Rabo-
cheye Dyelo, on his differences with Iskra, the title: "Exposure
Literature and the Proletarian Struggle." He formulated the sub.
stance of these differences as follows:
We cannot confine ourselves entirely to exposing the state of affairs that
stand in its [the labour party's] path of development. We must also respond
to the immediate and current interests of the proletariat [p. 63].
". .Iskra is in fact the organ of revolutionary opposition
that exposes the state of affairs in our country, particularly the
political state of affairs. We, however, work and shall continue
to work for the cause of labour in close organic contact with the
proletarian struggle" [ibid.]. One-cannot help being grateful to
Martynov for this formula. It is of exceptional general interest
because substantially it embraces not only our disagreements with
Rabocheye Dyelo, but the general disagreement between ourselves
and the Economists concerning the political struggle. Wc have
shown already that the Economists do not altogether repudiate
"politics," but that they are constantly deviating from the Social-
Democratic conception of politics to the trade-unionist conception.
Martynov deviates in exactly the same way, and we agree, therefore,
to take him as an example of an Economist wandering into error on
this question. As we shall endeavour to prove, neither the authors
of the Special Supplement of Rabochaya Mysl, nor the authors of
the manifesto issued by the Emancipation group, nor the authors of
the Economist Letter published in Iskra, No. 12, will have any right
to complain against this choice.


Every one knows that the spread and consolidation of the eco-
nomic struggle of the Russian workers proceeded simultaneously
In order to avoid misunderstanding we would state, that here, and
throughout this pamphlet, by economic struggle, we mean (in accordance with

with the creation of a "literature" exposing economic conditions,
i. e., factory and industrial conditions. These "leaflets" were de-
voted mainly to the exposure of factory conditions, and very soon a
passion for exposures was roused among the workers. As soon as
the workers realized that the Social-Democratic circles desired to
and could supply them with a new kind of leaflet that told the whole
truth about their poverty-stricken lives, about their excessive toil and
their lack of rights, correspondence began to pour in from the fac-
tories and workshops. This "exposure literature" created a sensa-
tion not only in the particular factory dealt with and the conditions
of which were exposed in a given leaflet, but in all the factories to
which news had spread about the facts exposed. And as the
poverty and want among the workers in the various enterprises and
in the various trades are pretty much the same, the "Truth about
the life of the workers" roused the admiration of all. Even among
the most backward workers, a veritable passion was roused to "go
into print"-a noble passion to adopt this rudimentary form of war
against the whole of the modern social system which is based upon
robbery and oppression. And in the overwhelming majority of cases
these "leaflets" were in truth a declaration of war, because the ex-
posures had a terrifically rousing effect upon the workers; it stimu-
lated them to put forward demands for the removal of the most
glaring evils, and roused in them a readiness to support these
demands with strikes. Finally, the employers themselves were com-
pelled to recognise the significance of these leaflets as a declara-
tion of war, so much so that in a large number of cases they did not
even wait for the outbreak of hostilities. As is always the case,
the mere publication of these exposures made them effective, and
they acquired the significance of a strong moral force. On more
than one occasion, the mere appearance of'a leaflet proved sufficient
to compel an employer to concede all or part of the demands put
forward. In a word, economic (factory) exposures have been an
important lever in the economic struggle and they will. continue to
be so as long as capitalism, which creates the need for the workers
to defendthemselves exists._ Even in the more progressive coun-
tries of Europe to-day, the exposure of the evils in some backward
the meaning of the term as it has become accepted amongst us) the "practical
economic struggle" which Engels, in the passage we quoted above, described
as "resistance to capitalism," and which in free countries is known as the
trade-union struggle.

trade, or in some forgotten branch of domestic industry, serves as
a starting point for the awakening of class-consciousness, for the
beginning of a trade-union struggle, and for the spread of
Recently, the overwhelming majority of Russian Social-Democrats
were almost wholly engaged in this work of exposing factory condi-
tions. It is sufficient to refer to the columns of Rabochaya Mysl to
judge to what an extent they were engaged in it. So much so indeed,
that they lost sight of the fact that this, taken by itself, was not
substantially Social-Democratic work, but merely trade-union work.
As a matter of fact, these exposures merely dealt with the relations
between the workers in a given trade, with their immediate employ-
ers, and all that it achieved was that the vendors of labour power
learned to sell their "commodity" on better terms, and to fight the
purchasers of labour power over a purely commercial deal. These
exposures might have served (if properly utilised by revolution-
aries) as a beginning and a constituent part of Social-Democratic
activity, but they might also (and with subservience to spontaneity
inevitably had to) have led to a "pure and simple" trade-union
struggle and to a non-Social-Democratic labour movement. Social-
Democrats lead the struggle of the working class not only for
better terms for the sale of labour power, but also for the abolition
of the social system which compels the propertyless class to sell
itself _to the r h. Social-Democracy represents the working class,
not in its relation to a given group of employers, but in its relation
to all classes inmnodern society, to the state as an organised political
force. Hence. it not only follot-os that Social-Democrats must not
In the present chapter, we deal only with the political struggle; i. e.,
whether it is to be understood in its broader or narrower sense. Therefore,
we refer only in passing, merely to point out a curiosity, to the accusation
that Rabocheye Dyelo hurls against Iskra of being "too restrained" in regard
to the economic struggle [Two Congresses, p. 27, rehashed by Martynov in his
pamphlet: Social-Democracy and the Working Class]. If those who make this
accusation counted up in terms of hundredweights or reams, as they are so
fond of doing, what has been said about the economic struggle in the industrial
column of Iskra in one year's issue, and compared this with the industrial
columns of Rabocheye Dyelo and Rabochaya Mysl taken together, they would
see that they lag very much behind even in this respect. Apparently, the
consciousness of this simple truth compels them to resort to arguments which
clearly reveal their confusion. "Iskra," they write, "willy-nilly [I] is com-
pelled [!] to take note of the imperative demands of life and to publish at
least [!!] correspondence about the labour movement" [Two Congresses,
p. 27]. Now this is really a crushing argument!

confine themselves entirely to the economic struggle; they must not
even allow the organisation of economic exposures to become the
predominant part of their activities. We must actively take up the
political education of the working class, and the development of its
political consciousness. Now, after Zarya and Iskra have made the
first attack upon Economism "all are agreed" with this (although
some agreed only nominally, as we shall soon prove).
The question now arises: What does political education mean?
Is it sufficient to confine oneself to the propaganda of working-class
hostility to autocracy? Of course not. It is not enough to explain
to the workers that they are politically oppressed (any more than
it was to explain to them that their interests were antagonistic to
the interests of the employers). Advantage must be taken of every
concrete example of this oppression for the purpose of agitation
(in the same way as we began to use concrete examples of eco-
nomic oppression for the purpose of agitation). And inasmuch as
political oppression affects all sorts of classes in society, inasmuch
as it manifests itself in various spheres of life and activity, in
industrial life, civic life, in personal and family life, in religious
life, scientific life, etc., etc., is it not evident that we shall not be
fulfilling our task of developing the political consciousness of the
workers if we do not undertake the organisation of the political
exposure of autocracy in all its aspects? In order to agitate over
concrete examples of oppression, these examples must be exposed
(in the same way as it was necessary to expose factory evils in order
to carry on economic agitation).
One would think that this was clear enough. It turns out, how-
ever, that "all" are agreed that it is necessary to develop political
consciousness in all its aspects, only in words. It turns out that
Rabocheye Dyelo, for example, has not only failed to take up the
task of organising (or to make a start in organising) in all-sided
political exposure, but is even trying to drag Iskra, which has un-
dertaken this task, away from it. Listen to this: "The political strug-
gle of the working class is merely [it is precisely not "merely"] a
more developed, a wider and more effective form of economic strug-
gle." [Programme of Rabocheye Dyelo published in No. 1, p. 3.]
"The Social-Democrats are now confronted with the task of, as far
as possible, giving the economic struggle itself a political character"
[Martynov, Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 42]. "The economic strug-
gle is the most widely applicable method of drawing the masses into

active political struggle" (resolution passed by the congress of the
League and "amendments" thereto). [Two Congresses, pp. 11 and
17]. As the reader will observe, all these postulates permeate
Rabocheye Dyelo, from its very first number to the recently issued
Instructions by the Editorial Committee, and all of them evidently
express a single view regarding political agitation and the political
struggle. Examine this view from the standpoint of the opinion pre-
vailing among all Economists, that political agitation must follow
economic agitation. Is it true that in general,* the economic strug-
gle "is the most widely!1 applicable method" of drawing the masses
into the political stru.gole? It is absolutely untrue. All and sundry
manifestations of police tyranny and autocratic outrage, in ad-
dition to the evils connected with the economic struggle, are
equally "widely applicable" as a means of "drawing in" the
masses.. The tyranny of the Zemstvo chiefs, the flogging of the
peasantry, the corruption of the officials, the conduct of the police
towards the "common people" in the cities, the fight against the
famine-stricken and the suppression of the popular striving towards
enlightenment and knowledge, the extortion of taxes, the persecution
of the religious sects, the severe discipline in the army, the militarist
conduct towards the students and the liberal intelligentsia-all these
and a thousand other similar manifestations of tyranny, though
not directly connected with the "economic" struggle, do they, in
general, represent a less "widely applicable" method and subject for
political agitation and for drawing the masses into the political
struggle? The very opposite is the case. Of all the innumerable
cases in which the workers suffer (either personally or those closely
associated with them) from tyranny, violence, and lack of rights,
undoubtedly only a relatively few represent cases of police tyranny
in the economic struggle as such. Why then should we beforehand
restrict the scope of political agitation by declaring only one of the

We say "in general," advisedly, because Rabocheye Dyelo speaks of
general principles and of the general tasks of the whole party. Undoubtedly,
cases occur in practice, when politics must follow economics, but only
Economists can say a thing like that in a resolution that was intended to
apply to the whole of Russia. Cases do occur when it is possible "right
from the beginning," to carry on political agitation "exclusively on an eco-
nomic basis"; and yet Rabocheye Dyelo went so far as to say that "there was
no need for this whatever" [Two Congresses, p. 11]. In the next chapter,
we shall show that the tactics of the "politicians" and revolutionaries not
only do not ignore the trade-union tasks of Social-Democracy, but that, on the
contrary, they alone can secure the consistent fulfilment of these tasks.

methods to be "the most widely applicable," when Social-Democrats
have other, generally speaking, not less "widely applicable" means?
Long, long ago (a year ago! .) Rabocheye Dyelo wrote:
The masses begin to understand immediate political demands after one,
or at all events, after several strikes; immediately the government sets the
police and gendarmerie against them [No. 7, p. 15, August, 19001.
This opportunist theory of stages has now been rejected by the
League, which makes a concession to us by declaring: "There is no
need whatever to conduct political agitation right from the begin-
ning, exclusively on an economic basis." [Two Congresses, p. 11.]
This very repudiation of part of its former errors by the League
will enable the future historian of Russian Social-Democracy to
discern the depths to which our Economists have degraded Socialism
better than any number of lengthy arguments! But the League must
be very naive indeed to imagine that the abandonment of one form.
of restricting politics will induce us to agree to another form of
restriction! Would it not be more logical to say that the economic
struggle should be conducted on the widest possible basis, that it
should be utilised for political agitation, but that "there is no need
whatever" to regard the economic struggle as the most widely ap-
plicable means of drawing the masses into active political struggle?
The League attaches significance to the fact that it substituted the
phrase "most widely applicable method" by the phrase "a better
method," contained in one of the resolutions of the Fourth Congress
of the Jewish Labour League (Bund). We confess that we find it
difficult to say which of these resolutions is the better one. In
our opinion both are bad. Both the League and the Bund fall into
error (partly perhaps unconsciously, owing to the influence of tradi-
tion) concerning the economic, trade-unionist interpretation of
politics. The fact that this error is expressed either by the word
"better" or by the words "most widely applicable" makes no material
difference whatever. If the League had said that "political agitation
on an economic basis" is the most widely applied (and not "ap-
plicable") method it would have been right in regard to a certain
period in the development of our Social-Democratic movement. It
would have been right in regard tp the Economists and to many (if
not the majority) of the practical Economists of 1898-1901 who
have applied the method of political agitation (to the extent that
they applied it at all) almost exclusively on an economic basis.
Political agitation on such lines was recognized, and as we have seen,

even recommended by Rabochaya Mysl, and by the Self-Emancipa-
tion group! Rabocheye Dyelo should have strongly condemned the
fact that useful economic agitation was accompanied by the harm-
ful restriction of the political struggle, but instead of that, it declares
the method most widely applied (by the Economists) to be the most
widely applicable! It is not surprising, therefore, that when we
describe these people as Economists, they can do nothing else but
pour abuse upon us, and call us "mystifiers," disrupterss," "Papal
Nuncios," and slandererss," go complaining to the world that we
have mortally offended them and declare almost on oath that "not
a single Social-Democratic organisation is now tinged with Econo-
mism.** Oh, these evil, slanderous politicians! They must have de-
liberately invented this Economism, out of sheer hatred of mankind,
in order mortally to offend other people!
What do the words "to give the economic struggle itself a political
character," which Martynov uses in presenting the tasks of Social-
Democracy, mean concretely? The economic struggle is the col-
lective struggle of the workers against their employers for better
terms in the sale of their labour power, for better conditions of life
and labour. This struggle is necessarily a struggle according to
trade, because conditions of labour differ very much in different
trades, and, consequently, the fight to improve these conditions can
only be conducted in respect of each trade (trade unions in the
Western countries, temporary trade associations and leaflets in
Russia, etc.). To give "the economic struggle itself a political
character" means, therefore, to strive to secure satisfaction for these
trade demands, the improvement of conditions of labour in each
separate trade by means of "legislative and administrative measures"
(as Martynov expresses it on the next page of his article, p. 43).
This is exactly what the trade unions do and always have done.
Read the works of the thoroughly scientific (and "thoroughly" op-
portunist) Mr. and Mrs. Webb and you will find that the British
trade unions long ago recognized, and have long carried out the
task of "giving the economic struggle itself a political character";
they have long been fighting for the right to strike, for the removal
of all juridical hindrances to the co-operative and trade-union
movement, for laws protecting, women and children, for the im-

These are exactly the expressions used in Two Congresses, pp. 28, 30, 31,
and 32.
** Two Congresses, p. 32.

provement of conditions of labour by means of sanitary and factory
legislation, etc.
Thus, the pompous phrase: "To give the economic struggle itself
a political character," which sounds so "terrifically" profound and
revolutionary, serves as a screen to conceal what is in fact the tra-
ditional striving to degrade Social-Democratic politics to the level
of trade-union politics! On the pretext of rectifying Iskra's one-
sidedness, which, it is alleged, places "the revolutionising of dogma
higher than the revolutionising of life," we are presented with the
struggle for economic reform as if it were something entirely new.
As a matter of fact, the phrase "to give the economic struggle itself
a political character" means nothing more than the struggle for
economic reforms. And Martynov himself might have come to this
simple conclusion had he only pondered over the significance of
his own words. "Our party," he says, turning his heaviest guns
against Iskra, "could and should have presented concrete demands
to the government for legislative and administrative measures against
economic exploitation, for the relief of unemployment, for the relief
of the famine-stricken, etc." [Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, pp. 42, 43.]
Concrete demands for measures-does not this mean demands for
social reforms? And again we ask the impartial reader, do we
slander the Rabocheye Dyeloists (may I be forgiven for this clumsy
expression!) when we declare them to be concealed Bernsteinists,
for advancing their thesis about the necessity for fighting for
economic reforms as a reason for their disagreement with Iskra?
Re olutionary Social-DcInocracy alwamv? included, and now in
eludes, the fight for reforms in its activities. But it utilises "eco,
nomic" agitation for the purpose of presenting to the government,
not only demands for all sorts of measures, but also (and primarily')
the demand that it cease to be an autocratic government. More.
over, it considers it to be its duty to present this demand to the
government, not on the basis of the economic struggle alone, but on
the basis of all manifestations of public and political life. In a
word, it subordinates the struggle for reforms to the revolutionary
struggle for liberty and for Socialism, in the same way as the part
Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 60. This is the Martynov variation of the
application to the present chaotic state of our movement of the thesis: "A
step forward of the real movement is more important than a dozen pro-
grammes," to which we have already referred above. As a matter of fact,
this is merely a translation into Russian of the notorious Bernsteinist phrase:
"The movement is everything, the ultimate aim is nothing."

is subordinate to the whole. Martynov, however, resuscitates the
theory of stages in a new form, and strives to prescribe an ex-
clusively economic, so to speak, path of development for the political
struggle. By coming out at this moment, when the revolutionary
movement is on the up-grade, with an alleged special "task" of
fighting for reforms, he is dragging the party backwards, and is
playing into the hands of both "economic" and liberal opportunism.
Shamefacedly hiding the struggle for reforms behind the pompous
thesis "to give the economic struggle itself a political character,"
Martynov advanced, as if it were a special point, exclusively eco-
nomic (in fact, exclusively factory) reforms. Why he did that, we
do not know. Perhaps it was due to carelessness? But if he indeed
had only "factory" reforms in mind, then the whole of his thesis,
which we have just quoted, loses all sense. Perhaps he did it be-
cause he thought it possible and probable that the government would
agree to make "concessions" only in the economic sphere? If
that is what he thought, then it is a strange error. Concessions are
also possible, and are made in the sphere of legislation concerning
flogging, passports, land-compensation payments, religious sects, the
censorship, etc., etc. "Economic" concessions (or pseudo-conces-
sions) are, of course, the cheapest and most advantageous conces-
sions to make from the government's point-of-view, because by these
means it hopes to win the confidence of the masses of the workers.
Precisely for this very reason, Social-Democrats must under no cir-
cumstances create grounds for the belief (or the misunderstanding)
that we attach greater value to economic reformsthan t politic re-
forms or that we regard them as being particularly important, etc.
"Such demands," writes Martynov, concerning the concrete demands
for legislative and administrative measures referred to above, "would
not be merely a hollow sound because, promising certain palpable
results, they might be actively supported by the masses of the work-
ers. .. ." We are not Economists, oh, no! We only cringe as
slavishly before the "palpableness" of concrete results as do the
Bernsteins, the Prokopoviches, the Struves, the R. M.'s, and tutti
quanti! We only wish to make it understood (with Narcissus
Tuporylov) that all that which "does not promise palpable results"
is merely a "hollow sound." We are only trying to argue as if the
P. 43. "Of course, when we advise the workers to present certain eco-
nomic demands to the government, we do so because in the economic sphere,
the autocratic government is compelled to agree to make certain concessions."

masses of the workers are incapable (and, of course, have not
proved their capabilities, notwithstanding those who ascribe their
own philistinism to them) of actively supporting every protest
against the autocracy even if it promises absolutely no palpable
results whatever!
Take for example the very "measures" for the relief of unem-
ployment and the famine that Martynov himself advances. While
Rabocheye Dyelo was engaged, judging by what it has promised,
in drawing up a programme of "concrete [in the form of Acts of
Legislation?] demands for legislative and administrative measures,"
"promising palpable results," Iskra, which "constantly places the
revolutionising of dogma higher than the revolutionising of life,"
tried to explain the inseparable connection that exists between
unemployment and the capitalist system as a whole; uttered the
warning that "famine is coming"; exposed the police "fight against
the famine-stricken" and the outrageous "provisional penal regula-
tions"; and Zarya published a special edition in the form of an
agitation pamphlet, entitled, Review of Internal Affairs, a part of
its text which was devoted to the famine. But good God! How
"one-sided" these incorrigibly narrow and orthodox doctrinaires
were in this; how deaf to the calls of "life itself"! Not one of these
articles contained-oh horror!-a single, can you imagine it?-
a single "concrete demand," "promising palpable results"! Poor
doctrinaires! They sought to be sent to Krichevsky and Martynov
to be taught that tactics are a process of growth, etc., and that the
economic struggle itself should be given a political character!
In addition to its immediately revolutionary significance, the workers' eco-
nomic struggle against the employers and the government ["economic struggle
against the government"!!] has also this significance that it constantly brings
the workers face to face with their own lack of political rights [Martynov,
p. 44].

We quote this passage not in order to repeat what has been said
already a hundred and a thousand times before, but in order to
thank Martynov for this excellent new formula: "The workers'
economic struggle against the employers and the government."
What a pearl! With what inimitable talent and skill in eliminating
partial disagreements and shades of differences among Economists,
does this clear and concise postulate express the quintessence of
Economism: From calling to the workers to join "in the political
struggle which they carry on in the general interest, for the purpose

of improving the conditions of all the workers," continuing
through the theory of stages, to the resolution of the congress on the
"most widely applicable," etc., "economic struggle against the gov-
ernment" is precisely trade-union politics, which is far, far away
from being Social-Democratic politics.


"What a large number of Social-Democratic Lomonosovs ** ap-
peared among us lately!" observed a comrade to me one day, having
in mind the astonishing propensity of many of those who are in-
clined toward Economism to "seek for themselves" the great truths
(for example, like the one that the economic struggle stimulates
the workers to ponder over their lack of rights), and in doing so
iganre with the supreme contempt of born geniuses, all that which
has already been produced by previous development of revolutionary
thought and of the revolutionary movement. re- suc a born
genius is Lomonosov-Martynov. Glance at his article, "Immediate
Questions," and observe how he "in his way" approaches that which
has been said long ago by Axelrod (and whom our Lomonosov
silently ignores); how, for example, he is beginning to understand
that we must not ignore the opposition of the various strata of the
bourgeoisie [Rabocheye Dyelo No. 9, pp. 61-62-71; compare this
with Rabocheye Dyelo's Reply to Axelrod, pp. 22-23-24], etc.
But alas, he is only "approaching" and is only "beginning," not
more than that, for so little has he understood Axelrod's ideas, that
he talks about "the economic struggle against the employers and
the government." For three years (1898-1901) Rabocheye Dyelo
has tried hard to understand Axelrod, but has :ailed to do so yet!
Perhaps this is because Social-Democracy, "like humanity," always
sets itself only tasks that can be achieved.
But the Lomonosovs are distinguished not only by the fact of
their ignorance of many things (that would not be so bad!) but also
by the fact that they are not conscious of their ignorance. Now
this is a real misfortune, and this misfortune stimulates them to at-
tempt to render Plekhanov "more profound."

Rabochaya Mysl, Special Supplement, p. 14.
** Kholmogory Lomonosov (1711-1765), the inventive genius and the recog-
nised father of Russian science.-Ed.

Lomonosov-Martynov writes:

Much water has flowed beneath the bridges since Plekhanov/ wrote this
book. [Socialist Tasks in the Fight against the Famine in Russia]. The
Social-Democrats who for a decade led the economic struggle of the working
class have failed as yet to lay down a broad theoretical basis for party
tactics. This question has now come to the fore, and if we would wish to lay
down such a theoretical basis we would certainly have to considerably deepen
the principles of tactics that Plekhanov at one time developed. We would
now have to define the difference between propaganda and agitation differently
from the way in which Plekhanov defined it. [Martynov had just previously
quoted the words of Plekhanov: "A propagandist presents many ideas to one
or a few persons; an agitator presents only one or a few ideas, but he presents
them to a mass of people."] By propaganda we would understand the revolu-
tionary elucidation of the whole of the present system or partial manifesta-
tions of it, irrespective of whether it is done in a form capable of being
understood by individuals or by the broad masses. By agitation, in the strict
sense of the word [sic!] we would understand: Calling the masses to certain
concrete actions that would facilitate the direct revolutionary intervention of
the proletariat in social life.

We congratulate Russian, and international Social-Democracy
on Martynov's more strict and more profound terminology. Up
till now we thought (with Plekhanov, and with all the leaders of
the international labour movement), that a propagandist, dealing
with say the question of unemployment, must explain the capitalistic
nature of crises, the reasons why crises are inevitable in modern
society, must describe how present society must inevitably become
transformed into Socialist society, etc. In a word, he must pre-
sent "many ideas," so many indeed that they will be understood as
a whole only by a (comparatively) few persons. An agitator, how-
ever, leaking on the same subject will take as an illustration a
fact that is most widely known and outstanding among his audience
-say the death from starvation of the family of an unemployed
worker, the growing impoverishment, etc.-and utilising this illus-
tration, will direct all his efforts to present a single idea to_ the
"masses," i. e., the idea of the senseless contradiction between the
increase of wealth and increase of poverty; he will strive to rouse
discontent and indignation among the masses against this crying
injustice, and leave a more complete explanation of this contradic-
tion to the propagandist. Consequently, the propagandist operates
chiefly by means of the printed word; the agitator operates with the
living word. The qualities that are required of an agitator are not
the same as the qualities that are required of a propagandist.
Kautsky and Lafargue, for example, we call propagandists; Bebel

-nd Guesde we call agitators. To point to a third sphere, or third
sanction, of practical activity, and to include in this third function
"calling the masses to certain concrete actions," is sheer nonsense,
because the "call," as a single act, either naturally and inevitably
supplements the theoretical tract, propagandist pamphlet and agita-
tional speech, or represents a purely executive function. Take, for
example, the struggle now being carried on by the German Social-
Democrats against the grain duties. The theoreticians write re-
searches in tariff policy and "call" say, for a fight for commercial
treaties and for free trade. The propagandist does the same thing
in the periodical press, and the agitator does it in public speeches.
At the present time, the "concrete action" of the masses takes the form
of signing petitions to the Reichstag against the raising of the grain
duties. The call for this action comes directly from the theoreticians,
the propagandists and the agitators, and indirectly, from those
workers who carry the petition lists to the factories and to private
houses to get signatures. According to the "Martynov terminology,"
Kautsky and Bebel are both propagandists, while those who carry
the petition lists around are agitators; is that not so?
The German example recalled to my mind the German word
Verballhornung, which literally translated means "to Ballhorn."
Johann Ballhorn, a Leipzig publisher of the sixteenth century, pub-
lished a child's reader in which, as was the custom, he introduced
a drawing of a cock; but this drawing, instead of portraying an
ordinary cock with spurs, portrayed it without spurs and with a
couple of eggs lying near it. On the cover of this reader he printed
the legend "Revised edition by Johann Ballhorn." Since that time
the Germans describe any "Revision" that is really a worsening, as
"Ballhorning." And watching Martynov's attempts to render Plek-
hanov "more profound" involuntarily recalls Ballhorn to one's
mind. .
Why did our Lomonosov "invent" this confusion? In order to
illustrate how Iskra "devotes attention only to one side of the case,
just as Plekhanov did a decade and a half ago" [p. 39]. "Accord-
ing to Iskra, propagandist tasks force agitational tasks into the
background, at least for the present" [p. 52]. If we translate this
last postulate from the language of Martynov into ordinary human
language (because humanity has not yet managed to learn the newly
invented terminology), we shall get the following: "According to
Iskra, the tasks of political propaganda and political agitation force

into the background the task of 'presenting to the government con-
crete demands for legislative and administrative measures' that
promise certain palpable results" (or demands for social reforms,
that is if we are permitted just once again to employ the old term-
inology of old humanity, which has not yet grown to Martynov's
level). We suggest that the reader compare this thesis with the
following tirade:

What astonishes us in these programmes [the programmes advanced by
revolutionary Social-Democrats], is the constant stress that is laid upon the
benefits of labour activity in parliament (non-existent in Russia) and the
manner in which (thanks to their revolutionary Nihilism) the importance of
workers participating in the Government Advisory Committees on Factory
Affairs (which do exist in Russia) or at least the importance of workers
participating in municipal bodies, is completely ignored .

The author of this tirade expresses more straightforwardly, more
clearly and frankly, the very idea which, although Lomonosov-
Martynov discovered it himself, actually originated in the mind of
R. M. in the Special Supplement of Rabochaya Mysl [p. 15].


In advancing against Iskra his "theory" of "raising the activity
of the masses of the workers," Martynov, as a matter of fact, dis-
played a striving to diminish this activity, because he declared the
very economic struggle before which all Economists grovel to be
the preferable, the most important and "the most widely applicable
means of rousing this activity, and the widest field for it." This
error is such a characteristic one, precisely because it is not peculiar
to Martynov alone. As a matter of fact, it is possible to "raise
the activity of the masses of the workers" only provided this activity
is not restricted entirely to "political agitation on an economic
basis." And one of the fundamental conditions for the necessary ex-
pansion of political agitation is the organisation of all-sided political
exposure. InI no other way can thle mnass_ e he trained in political
consciousness and revolutionary acidity eept by means of such
exposures, Hence, to conduct such activity is one of the most
important functions of international Social-Democracy as a whole,
for even in countries where political liberty exists, there is still
a field for work of exposure, although in such countries the work

is conducted in a different sphere. For example, the German
party is strengthening its position and spreading its influence, thanks
particularly to the untiring energy with which it is conducting a
campaign of political exposure. Working-class consciousness can-
not be genuinely political consciousness unless the workers are
trained to respond to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence and
abuse, no matter what class is affected. Moreover, that response
misti s a-- Social-Democratic responseand not one from any other
point-of-view. The consciousness of the masses of the workers
cannot be genuine class consciousness, unless the workers learn to
observe from concrete, and above all from topical, political facts
and events, every other social class and all the manifestations of
the intellectual, ethical and political life of these classes; unless
they learn to apply practically the materialist analysis and the
materialist estimate of all aspects of the life and activity of all
classes, strata and groups of the population. Those who concentrate
the attention, observation and the consciousness of the working class
exclusively, or even mainly, upon itself alone, are not Social-
Democrats; because, for its self-realisation the working class must
not only have a theoretical rather it would be more true to
say: Not so much theoretical as a practical understanding acquired
through experience of political life of the relationships between all
classes of modern society. That is why the idea preached by our
Economists, that the economic struggle is the most widely applicable
means of drawing the masses into the political movement is so
extremely harmful and extremely reactionary in practice. In order
to c~ e oial-Democrat, a working man must have a clear
picture in his mind of the economic nature and the social and politi-
cal features of the landlord, of the priest,f the high state official
and of the peasant, of the student and of the tramp; he must know
their strong and weak sides; he must understand all the catch-
words and sophisms by which each class and each stratum camou-
flages its egotistical strivings and its real "nature"; he must under-
stand what interests certain institutions and certain laws reflect and
how they are reflected. The working man cannot obtain this "clear
picture" from books. He can obtain it only from living examples
and from exposures, following hot after their occurrence, of what
goes on around us at a given moment, of what is being discussed,
in whispers perhaps, by each one in his own way, of the meaning of
such and such events, of such and such statistics, in such and such

court sentences, etc., etc., etc. These universal political exposures
are an essential and fundamental condition for training the masses
in revolutionary activity.
Why is it that the Russian workers as yet display so little revolu-
tionary activity in connection with the brutal way in which the
police maltreat the people, in connection with the persecution of
the religious sects, with the flogging "of the peasantry, with the
outrageous censorship, with the torture of soldiers, with the persecu-
tion of the most innocent cultural enterprises, etc.? Is it because
the "economic struggle" does not "stimulate" them to this, because
such political activity does not "promise palpable results," be-
cause it produces little that is "positive"? To advance this argument,
we repeat, is merely to shift the blame to the shoulders of others, to
blame the masses of the workers for our own philistinism (also
Bernsteinism). We must blame ourselves, our remoteness from
the mass movement; we must blame ourselves for being unable as
yetl o oinanise a sufficientl wide. striking and rapid exposure of
these despicable outrages. When we do that (and we must and
can do it), the most backward worker will understand, or will feel,
that the students and religious sects, the muzhiks and the authors
are being abused and outraged by the very same dark forces that
are oppressing and crushing him at every step of his life, and;'
feeling that, he himself will be filled with an irresistible desire to
respond to these things and then he will organise cat-calls against
the censors one day, another day he will demonstrate outside the
house of the provincial governor who has brutally suppressed
peasant uprising, another day he will teach a lesson to the gen-
darmes in surplices who are doing the work of the Holy Inquisition,
etc. Asyet we have done very little, almost nothing, to hurl uni-
versal and fresh exposures among the masses of the workers. Many
of us as yet do not appreciate the bounden duty that rests upon us,
but spontaneously follow in the wake of the "drab every-day strug-
gle," in the narrow confines of factory life. Under such circum-
stances to say that Iskra displays a tendency to belittle the sig-
nificance of the forward march of the drab every-day struggle in
comparison with the propaganda of brilliant and complete ideas
[Martynov, p. 61]-means to drag the party backwards, to defend
and glorify our unpreparedness and backwardness.
As for calling the masses to action, that will come of itself im-
mediately that energetic political agitation, live and striking ex-

posures are set going. To catch some criminal red-handed and
immediately to brand him publicly will have far more effect than
any number of "appeals to action"; the effect very often will be
such, that it will be impossible to tell who exactly it was that "ap-
pealed" to the crowd, and who exactly suggested this or that plan
of demonstration, etc. Calls for action, not in the general, but in
the concrete, sense of the term, can be made only at the place of
action; only those who themselves go into action now can make
appeals for action. And our business as Social-Democratic publicists
is to deepen, expand and intensify political exposures and political
agitation. A word in passing about "calls to action." The only
paper that prior to the spring events,* called upon the workers ac-
tively to intervene in a matter that certainly did not promise any
palpable results for the workers, i. e., the drafting of the students
into the army, was Iskra. Immediately after the publication of the
order of January 11 "Drafting the 183 Students into the Army,"
Iskra published an article about it (in its February issue, No. 2),"*
and before any demonstration was started openly called upon "the
workers to go to the aid of the students," called upon the "people"
boldly to take up the government's open challenge. We ask: How
is the remarkable fact to be explained that although he talks so
much about "calling for action," and even suggests "calling for
action" as a special form of activity, Martynov said not a word
about this call? After this, is not Martynov's allegation, that Iskra
was one-sided because it did not sufficiently "call for" the struggle
for demands "promising palpable results," sheer philistinism?
Our Economists, including Rabocheye Dyelo, were successful be-
cause they disguised themselves as uneducated workers. But the
working-class Social-Democrat, the working-class revolutionist (and
their number is growing) will indignantly reject all this talk about
fighting for demands "promising palpable results," etc., because he
will understand that this is only a variation of the old song about
adding a kopeck to the ruble. These working-class revolutionaries
will say to their counsellors of the Rabochaya Mysl and Rabocheye
Dyelo: You are wasting your time, gentlemen; you are interfering
with excessive zeal in a job that we can manage ourselves, and you
are neglecting your own duties. It is silly of you to say that the

This refers to the big street demonstrations which commenced in the
spring of 1901.
** See The Iskra Period, Book I, p. 70.-Ed.

Social-Democrats's task is to give the economic struggle itself a
political character, for that is only the beginning, it is not the
main task that Social-Democrats must fulfil. All over the world,
including Russia, the police themselves often give the economic
struggle a political character, and the workers are beginning to un-
derstand whom the government supports.*
The "economic struggle between the workers and the employers
and the government," about which you make as much fuss as if
you had made a new discovery, is being carried on in all parts of
Russia, even the most remote, by the workers themselves who have
heard about strikes, but who have heard almost nothing about
Socialism. The "activity" you want to stimulate among us workers
by advancing concrete demands promising palpable results, we are
already displaying and in our every-day, petty trade-union work,
we put forward concrete demands, very often without any assistance
from the intellectuals whatever. But such activity is not enough
for us; we are not children to be fed on the sops of "economic"
politics alone; we want to know everything that everybody else
knows, we want to learn the details of all aspects of political life
and to take part actively in every political event. In order that we
may do this, the intellectuals must talk to us less on what we already
know,** and tell us more about what we do not know and what we
The demand "to give the economic struggle itself a political character"
most strikingly expresses subservience to spontaneity in the sphere of political
activity. Very often the economic struggle.iontarnour5y_. aj;ume. a political
character, that is to say without the injection of the "revolutionary bacilli of
the intelligentsia," without the intervention of the class-conscious Social-
Democrats. For example, the economic struggle of the British workers as-
sumed a political character without the intervention of the Socialists. The
tasks of the Social-Democrats, however, are not exhausted by political agita-
tnon tihe economiceld; their task to convert trade-union politics into
theSocial-Democratic political struggle, to utilise the flashes of political
consciousness which gleam in the minds of the workers during their economic
-Jru- gles fir Mife purp;7.e f ri-nng' fheiir1 z' iTT el ,-i.f S,,ci,-D.b-ni,rcatic
pnliical consciou-nes. The Marlno nr, hi:weter, in-lsad of raising and
stimulating the spontaneously awakening political consciousness of the work.
ers, bow down before spontaneity and repeat over and over again, until one
is sick and tired of hearing it, that the economic struggle "stimulates" in
the workers' mindsthouights_ahout their own lack of political rights. It is
uinortunate, gentlemen, that the spontaneously awakening trade-union polit-
ical consciousness does not "stimulate" in your minds thoughts about your
Social-Democratic tasks!
** To prove that this imaginary speech of a worker to an Economist is
based on fact, we shall call two witnesses who undoubtedly have direct
knowledge of the labour movement, and who can be at least suspected of being
partial towards us "doctrinaires," for one witness is an Economist (who re-

can never learn from our factory and "economic" experience, that
is, you must give us political knowledge. You intellectuals can
acquire this knowledge, and it is your duty to bring us that knowl-
edge in a hundred and a thousand times greater measure than you
have done up till now; and you must bring us this knowledge, not
only in the form of arguments, pamphlets and articles which some-
times-excuse my frankness!-are very dull, but in the form of live
exposures of what our government and our governing classes are
doing at this very moment in all spheres of life. Fulfil this duty
With greater zeal, and talk less about "increasing the activity of the
Masses of the workers"! We are far more active than you think,
and we are quite able to support by open street fighting demands
That do not even promise any "palpable results" whatever! You
cannot "increase" our activity, because you yourselves are not suf-
ficiently active. Be less subservient to spontaneity, and think more
about increasing your own activity, gentlemen!


In the last footnote we quoted the opinion of an Economist and
of a non-Social-Democratic terrorist who, by chance, proved to be
in agreement with him. Speaking generally, however, between the
two there is not an accidental, but a necessary mutual connection,
gards even Rabocheye Dyelo as a political organ!), and the other is a terrorist.
The first witness is the author of a remarkably truthful and lively article
entitled "The St. Petersburg Labour Movement and the Practical Tasks of
Social-Democracy," published in Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 6. He divided
the workers into the following categories: 1. Conscious revolutionaries; 2.
Intermediate stratum; and 3. The Masses. Now the intermediate stratum
he says "is often more interested in questions of political life than in its own
immediate economic interests, the connection between which and the general
social conditions it has long understood. ." Rabochaya Mysl "is sharply
criticised. It keeps on repeating the same thing over and over again, things we
have long known, read long ago." "Nothing in the political review again!"
[pp. 30-31]. But even the third stratum-the younger and more sensitive
section of the workers, less corrupted by the vodka shop and the church, that
has hardly ever had the opportunity of reading political literature, in a ram-
bling way discuss political events and ponder deeply over the fragmentary news
they get about the student riots, etc. The second witness, the terrorist, writes
as follows: ". They read over once or twice the petty details of factory
life in other towns, not their own, and then they read no more. 'Awfully
dull,' they say. .To say nothing in a workers' paper about the govern-
ment signifies that the workers are regarded as being little children. .
The workers are not babies." [Svoboda, published by the Revolutionary Social-
ist group, pp. 67-70.]

about which we shall have to speak farther on in connection with the
question of training the masses in revolutionary activity. The
Economists and the modern terrorists spring from a common root,
namely, subservience to spontaneity, which we dealt with in a
previous chapter as a general phenomenon, and which we shall now
examine in relation to its effect upon political activity and the
political struggle. At first sight, our assertion may appear para-
doxical, for the difference between these two appears to be so
enormous: One stresses the "drab every-day struggle" and the other
calls for the most self-sacrificing struggle of individuals. But this
is not a paradox. The Economists and terrorists merely bow to
different poles of spontaneity: _TJ Econ-omists ho,: to the spin-
taneityof the "pureand simple" labour movement while the
terrorists bowv to lhe spontaneity .f tlie pas-.ionate indignation of
the intellectuals, who are either incapable of linking up the revolu-
tionary struggle with the labour movement, or lack the opportunity
to do so. It is very difficult indeed for those who have lost their
belief, or who have never believed, that this was possible, to find
some other outlet for their indignation and revolutionary energy
than terror. Thus, both the forms of subservience to spontaneity
we have mentioned are nothing more nor less than a beginning in
the carrying out of the notorious Credo programme. Let the work-
ers carry on their "economic struggle against the employers and
the government" (we apologise to the author of Credo for expressing
his views in Martynov's words! But we think we have the right
to do so because even the Credo says that in the economic struggle
the workers "come up against the political regime"), and let the in-
tellectuals conduct the political struggle by their own efforts-with
the aid of terror, of course! This is an absolutely logical and in-
evitable conclusion which must be insisted upon-even though those
who are beginning to carry out this programme did not themselves
realise that it is inevitable. Political activity has its logic quite
apart from the consciousness of those who, with the best intentions,
call either for terror, or for giving the economic struggle itself a
political character. The road to hell is paved with good intentions,
and, in this case, good intentions cannot save one from being spon-
taneously drawn "along the line of least resistance," along the line
of the purely bourgeois Credo programme. Surely it is not an ac-
cident that many Russian liberals-avowed liberals and liberals

who wear the mask of Marxism-wholeheartedly sympathise with
terror, and strive to foster the spirit of terrorism that is running so
high at the present time.
The formation of the Svoboda Revolutionary Socialist group--
which was formed with the object of giving all possible assistance
to the labour movement, but which included in its programme ter-
ror, and emancipation, so to speak, from Social-Democracy-this
fact once again confirmed the remarkable penetration of P. B.
Axelrod who lirtrally foretold these results of Social-Democratic
wavering as far back as the end of 1897 [Modern Tasks and Mod-
ern Tactics], when he outlined his remarkable "two prospects." All
the subsequent disputes and disagreements among Russian Social-
Democrats are contained, like a plant in the seed, in these two
From this point of view it will be clear that Rabocheye Dyelo, be-
ing unable to withstand the spontaneity of Economism, has been
unable also to withstand the spontaneity of terrorism. It would be in-
teresting to note here the specific arguments that Svoboda advanced
in defence of terrorism. It "completely denies" the deterrent rl8e of
terrorism [The Regeneration of Revolutionism, p. 64], but instead
stresses its excitativee significance." This is characteristic, firstly,
as representing one of the stages of the break-up and decay of the
traditional (pre-Social-Democratic) cycle of ideas which insisted
upon terrorism. To admit now that the government cannot be "terri-
fied," and therefore disrupted, by terror, is tantamount to condemn.
ing terror as a system of struggle, as a sphere of activity sanctioned
by the programme. Secondly, it is still more characteristic as an ex-
ample of the failure to understand our immediate task of "training

*Martynov "conceives of another, more realistic [?] dilemma" [Social-
Democracy and the Working Class, p. 19]: "Either Social-Democracy under-
takes the direct leadership of the economic struggle of the proletariat and by that
[!] transforms it into a revolutionary class struggle ." "and by that," i. e.,
apparently the direct leadership of the economic struggle. Can Martynov
quote an example where the leadership of the industrial struggle alone has
succeeded in transforming the trade-union movement into a revolutionary
class movement? Cannot he understand that in order to "transform" we must
undertake the "direct leadership" of all-sided political agitation? ". Or
the other prospect: Social-Democracy refrains from taking the leadership of
the economic struggle of the workers and so clips its own wings ."
In Rabocheye Dyelo's opinion, which we quoted above, Iskra "refrains."
We have seen, however, that the latter does far more to lead the economic strug-
gle than Rabocheye Dyelo, but it does not confine itself to this, and does not
curtail its political tasks for the sake of it.

the masses in revolutionary activity." Svoboda advocates terror as a
means of "exciting" the labour movement, and of giving it a "strong
impetus." It is difficult to imagine an argument that disproves itself
more than this one does! Are there not enough outrages committed
in Russian life that a special "stimulant" has to be invented? On
the other hand, is it not obvious that those who are not, and cannot
be, roused to excitement even by Russian tyranny will stand by
"twiddling their thumbs" even while a handful of terrorists are
engaged in single combat with the government? The fact is, how-
ever, that the masses of the workers are roused to a high pitch of
excitement by the outrages committed in Russian life, but we are
unable to collect, if one may put it that way, and concentrate all
these drops and streamlets of popular excitement that are called
forth by the conditions of Russian life to a far larger extent than we
imagine, but which it is precisely necessary to combine into a single
gigantic flood. And this we must do. That this task can be accom-
plished is irrefutably proved by the enormous growth of the labour
movement, and the greed with which the workers devour political
literature, to which we have already referred above. Calls for terror,
and calls to give the economic struggle itself a political character
are merely two different forms of evading the most pressing duty"
that now rests upon Russian revolutionaries, namely, to organise
an all-sided political agitation. Svoboda desires to substitute ter-
ror for agitation, although it openly admits that "as soon as in-
tensified and strenuous agitation is commenced among the masses
its excitative function will be finished." [The Regeneration of
Revolutionism, p. 68.] This proves precisely that both the terrorists
and the Economists underestimate the revolutionary activity of the
masses, in spite of the striking evidence of the events that took place
in the spring, and whereas one goes out in search of artificial
"stimulants" the other talks about "concrete demands." But both
fail to devote sufficient attention to the development of their own
activity in political agitation and organisation of political ex-
posures. And no other work can serve as a substitute for this work,
either at the present time, or at any other time.

We have seen that the organisation of wide political agitation,
and consequently, of all-sided political exposures are an absolutely
necessary and paramount task of activity, that is, if that activity is

to be truly Social-Democratic. We arrived at this conclusion solely
on the grounds of the pressing needs of the working class for politi-
cal knowledge and political training. But this ground by itself
is too narrow for the presentation of the question, for it ignores
the general democratic tasks of Social-Democracy as a whole, and
of modern, Russian Social-Democracy in particular. In order to
explain the situation more concretely weshall approach the subject
from an aspect that is "nearer" to the Economist, namely, from the
practical aspect. "Every one agrees" that it is necessary to develop
the political consciousness of the working class. But the question
arises, How is that to be done? What must be done to bring this
about? The economic struggle merely brings the workers "up
against" questions concerning the attitude of the government towards
the working class. Consequently, however much we may try to "give
to the economic struggle itself a political character" we shall never
be able to develop the political consciousness of the workers (to the
degree of Social-Democratic consciousness) by confining ourselves
to the economic struggle, for the limits of this task are too narrow.
The Martynov formula has some value for us, not because it illus-
trates Martynov's abilities to confuse things, but because it strik-
ingly expresses the fundamental error that all the Economists com-
mit, namely, their conviction that it is possible to develop the class
political consciousness of the workers from within, that is to say,
exclusively, or at least mainly, by means of the economic struggle.
Such a view is radically wrong. Piqued by our opposition to them,
the Economists refuse to ponder deeply over the origins of these
disagreements, with the result that we absolutely fail to understand
each other. It is as if we spoke in different tongues.
The workers can acquire class political consciousness only from
without, that is, only outside of the economic struggle, outside of the
sphere of relations between workers and employers. The sphere
from which alone it is possible to obtain this knowledge is the
sphere of relationships between all classes and the state and the
government-the sphere of the inter-relations between all classes.
For that reason, the reply to the question: What must be done in
order that the workers may acquire political knowledge? cannot be
merely the one which, in the majority of cases, the practical workers,
especially those who are inclined towards Economism, usually
content themselves with, i. e., "go among the workers." To bring

political knowledge to the workers the Social-Democrats must go
among all classes of the population, must despatch units of their
army in all directions.
We deliberately select this awkward formula, we deliberately
express ourselves in a simple, forcible way, not because we desire to
indulge in paradoxes, but in order to "stimulate" the Economists
to take up their tasks which they unpardonably ignore, to make
them understand the difference between trade-union and Social-
Democratic politics, which they refuse to understand. Therefore, we
beg the reader not to get excited, but to hear us patiently to the end.
Take the type of Social-Democratic circle that has been most
widespread during the past few years, and examine its work. It
has "contact with the workers," it issues leaflets-in which abuses
in the factories, the government's partiality towards the capitalists,
and the tyranny of the police are strongly condemned-and rests
content with this. At meetings of workers, there are either no dis-
cussions or they do not extend beyond such subjects. Lectures and
discussions on the history of the revolutionary movement, on
questions of the home and foreign policy of our government, on
questions of the economic evolution of Russia and of Europe, and
the position of the various classes in modern society, etc., are ex-
tremely rare. Of systematically acquiring and extending contact
with other classes of society, no one even dreams. The ideal leader,
as the majority of the members of such circles picture him, is some-
thing more in the nature of a trade-union secretary than a Socialist
political leader. Any trade-union secretary, an English one, for
instance, helps the workers to conduct the economic struggle, helps
to expose factory abuses, explains the injustice of the laws and of
measures which hamper the freedom of strikes and the freedom to
picket, to warn all and sundry that a strike is proceeding at a certain
factory, explains the partiality of arbitration courts which are in the
hands of the bourgeois classes, etc., etc. In a word, every trade-
union secretary conducts and helps to conduct "the economic strug-
gle against the employers and the government." It cannot be too
strongly insisted that this is not enough to constitute Social-Democ-
racy. The Social-Democrat's ideal should not be a trade-union
secretary, but a tribune of the people, able to react to every mani-
festation of tranny and oppression, no matter where it takes place,
no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; he must
be able to group all these manifestations into a single picture of

police violence and capitalist exploitation; he must be able to take
advantage of every petty event in order to explain his Socialistic
convictions and his Social-Democratic demands to all, in order to
explain to all and every one the world historical significance of
the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.
Compare, for example, a leader like Robert Knight (the cele-
brated secretary and leader of the Boiler Makers Society, one of the
most powerful trade unions in England) with Wilhelm Liebknecht,
and then take the contrasts that Martynov draws in his controversy
with Iskra. You will see-I am running through Martynpv's
article-that Robert Knight engaged more in "calling the masses to
certain concrete actions" [p. 39] while Liebknecht engaged more in
"the revolutionary explanation of the whole of modern society, or
various manifestations of it" [pp. 38-39]; that Robert Knight
"formulated the immediate demands of the proletariat and pointed
to the manner in which they can be achieved" [p. 41], whereas
Wilhelm Liebknecht, while doing this "simultaneously guided the
activities of various opposition strata," "dictated to them a positive
programme of action" [p. 41]; that it was precisely Robert
Knight who strove "as far as possible to give to the economic strug-
gle itself a political character" [p. 42] and was excellently able "to
submit to the government concrete demands promising certain pal-
pable results" [p. 43], while Liebknecht engaged more in "one-
sided exposures" [p. 40]; that Robert Knight attached more
significance to the "forward march of the drab, every-day struggle"
[p. 61], while Liebknecht engaged more in the "propaganda of
brilliant and finished ideas" [p. 61]; that Liebknecht converted the
paper he was directing into "an organ of revolutionary opposition
exposing the present system and particularly the political condi-
tions which came into conflict with the interests of the most varied
strata of the population" [p. 63], whereas Robert Knight "worked
for the cause of labour in close organic contact with the proletarian
struggle" [p. 63]-if by "close and organic contact" is meant the
subservience to spontaneity which we studied above from the
example of Krichevsky and Martynov-and "restricted the sphere
of his influence,'" convinced, of course, as is Martynov, that "by
that he intensified that influence" [p. 63]. In a word, you will see

For example, during the Franco-Prussian War, Liebknecht dictated a pro-
gramme of action for the whole of democracy-and this was done to an
even greater extent by Marx and Engels in 1848.

that de facto, Martynov reduces Social-Democracy to the level of
trade unionism, and he does this, of course, not because he does not
desire the good of Social-Democracy, but simply because he was a
little too much in a hurry to make Plekhanov more profound, in-
stead of taking the trouble to understand him.
Let us return, however, to the elucidation of our thesis. We
said that a Social-Democrat, if he really believes it is necessary to
develop the political consciousness of the proletariat, must "go
among all classes of the people." This gives rise to the questions:
How is this to be done? Have we enough forces to do this? Is
there a base for such work among all the other classes? Will this
not mean a retreat, or lead to a retreat from the class point-of-
view? We shall deal with these questions.
We must "go among all classes of the people" as theoreticians, as
propagandists, as agitators, and as organizers. No one doubts that
the theoretical work of Social-Democrats should be directed towards
studying all the features of the social and political position of the
various classes. But extremely little is done in this direction com-
pared with the work that is done in studying the features of factory
life. In the committees and circles, you will meet men who are
immersed say in the study of some special branch of the metal
industry, but you will hardly ever find members of organisation-
(obliged, as often happens, for some reason or other to give up
practical work) especially engaged in the collection of material
concerning some pressing question of social and political life which
could serve as a means for conducting Social-Democratic work
among other strata of the population. In speaking of the lack of
training of the majority of present-day leaders of the labour move-
ment, we cannot refrain from mentioning the point about training in
this connection also, for it is also bound up with the "economic"
conception of "close organic contact with the proletarian struggle."
The principal thing, of course, is propaganda an agitnlaong
all strata of the people. The Western-European Social-Democrats
find their work in this field facilitated by the calling of public
meetings, to which all are free to go, and by the parliament, in
which they speak to the representatives of all classes. We have
neither a parliament, nor the freedom to call meetings, nevertheless
we are able to arrange meetings of workers who desire to listen to
a Social-Democrat. We must also find ways and means of calling
meetings of representatives of all and every other class of the

population that desire to listen to a Democrat; for he who forets
that "the Communists support every revolutionary movement," that
we are obliged for that reason to emphasize general democratic
tasks before the whole people, without for a moment concealing our
Socialistic convictions, is not a Social-Democrat. He who forgets
his obligation to be in advntrce of erer l>.dyv in briingi up, sharp-
ening and solving every general democratic question, is not a
"But everybody agrees with this!"-the impatient reader will
exclaim-and the new instructions given by the last congress of the
League to the Editorial Board of Rabocheye Dyelo says: "All events
of social and political life that affect the proletariat either directly
as a special class or as the vanguard of all the' revolutionary forces
in the struggle for freedom should serve as subjects for political
propaganda and agitation." [Two Congresses, p. 17, our italics.]
Yes, these are very true and very good words and we would be
satisfied if Rabocheye Dyelo understood them, and if it refrained
from saying in the next breath things that are the very opposite to
them. Surely, it is not sufficient to call ourselves the "vanguard,"
it is necessary to act like one; we must act in such a way that all
the other units of the army shall see us, and be obliged to admit
that we are the vanguard. And we ask the reader: Are the repre-
sentatives of the other "units" such fools as to take merely our word
for it when we say that we are the "vanguard"?
Just picture to yourselves the following: A Social-Democrat comes
into the "unit" of Russian educated radicals, or liberal constitution-
alists, and declares to them: We are the vanguard; "at the present
time we are confronted by the problem of-how to give as far as
possible to the economic struggle itself a political character." The
radical, or constitutionalist, if he is at all intelligent (and there are
many intelligent men among Russian radicals and constitutionalists),
would only laugh at such a speech, and would say (to himself, of
course, for in the majority of cases they are experienced diplomats):
Well, your "vanguard" must be composed of simpletons! It does not even
understand that it is our task, the task of the progressive representatives of
bourgeois democracy to give to the economic struggle of the workers a
political character. Why, we too, like all the West-European bourgeoisie,
are striving to draw the workers into politics, but only into trade-union
politics and not into Social-Democratic politics. Trade-union politics are
precisely bourgeois politics of the working class and the "vanguard's" formu-
lation of its tasks is the formula for trade-union politics. Let them call them-

selves "Social-Democrats if they like, I am not a child to get excited over a
label. But see that they do not fall under tthe influence of those pernicious
orthodox doctrinaires, let them allow "freedom of criticism" to those who
unconsciously are driving Social-Democracy into trade-unionist channels.

And the light chuckle of our constitutionalist will turn into
Homeric laughter when he learns that the Social-Democrats who talk
about Social-Democracy being the vanguard at the present time,
when spontaneity completely dominates our movement, fears nothing
so much as "belittling the spontaneous elements," as "belittling the
significance of the forward march of the drab, every-day struggle, as
compared with the propaganda of brilliant and finished ideas," etc.,
etc.! A "vanguard," which fears that consciousness will outstrip
spontaneity, which fears to put forward a bold "plan" that would
compel universal recognition even among those who think differ-
ently from us-Are they not confusing the word "vanguard" with
the word "rearguard"?
Ponder over the following piece of Martynov reasoning. On page
42 he says that Iskra's tactics of exposing abuses are one-sided, that
"however much we may spread distrust and hatred towards the
government, we shall not achieve our aim until we have succeeded
in developing sufficiently active social energy for its overthrow."
This, it may be said in parenthesis, is the concern we have already
met with for increasing the activity of the masses, while at the same
time striving to restrict its activity. This is not the point we are
now discussing, however. Martynov, therefore, speaks of revolu-
tionary energy ("for its overthrow"). But what conclusion does he
arrive at? As in ordinary times, various social strata inevitably
march separately, therefore,

In view of that, it is clear that we Social-Democrats cannot simultaneously
guide the activities of various opposition strata, we cannot dictate to them a
positive programme of action, we cannot point out to them in what manner
they can fight for their daily interests .... The liberal strata will themselves
take care of the active struggle for their immediate interests and this struggle
will bring them up against our political regime.

Thus, having commenced by speaking about revolutionary energy
-of the active struggle for the overthrow of the autocracy, Marty-
nov immediately turned towards trade-union energy and active
struggle for immediate interests! It goes without saying that we
cannot guide the struggle of the students, liberals, etc., for their
"immediate interests," but this is not the point we were arguing

about, most worthy Economists! The point we were discussing is
the possible and necessary participation of various social strata in
the overthrow of t-eutocrac:na; it io ur
duty to guide these "activities, of thej vari~ strata" if
we desire to be a "vanguard." Not only will the students and our
libels, etc., take care .of the -trugele that ill _bring them up
against our political regime; the police and the officials of the auto-
cratic government will see to this more than any one. But, if "we"
desire to be advanced democrats, we must make it our business to
stimulate in the minds of those _whoa are dissatisfied only with
university or only with Zemstvo, etc., conditions the idea that the
whole political system is worthless. We must take upon ourselves
the task of organising a universal political struggle under the lead-
ership of our party in such a manner as to obtain the support of all
opposition strata for the struggle and for our party. We must
train our Social-Democratic practical workers to become political
leaders, able to guide all the manifestations of this universal
struggle,able at the right tme to "dictate a positive programme of
action" for the discontented students, for the disconte-T-eZemsvo,
for the discontented religious sects, for the offended elementary
school teachers, etc., etc. For that reason, Martynov's assertion that
"with regard to these, we can come forward merely in the negative
r6le of exposers of abuses we can only dissipate the hopes
they have in various government commissions"-is absolutely
wrong (our italics). By saying this Martynov shows that he abso-
lutely fails to understand the rble the revolutionary "vanguard"
must really play. If the reader bears this in mind, the real sense of
the following concluding remarks by Martynov will be clear to him:

Iskra is the organ of the revolutionary opposition which exposes the abuses
of our system-particularly political abuses, in so far as they affect the
interests of the most diverse classes of the population. We, however, are
working and will continue to work for the cause of labour in close organic
contact with the proletarian struggle. 'By restricting the sphere of our in-
fluence, we at the same time intensify that influence.

The true sense of this conclusion is as follows: Iskra desires to
elevate working-class trade-union politics (to which, owing to mis-
understanding, lack of training, or by conviction our practical work-
ers frequently confine themselves) to Social-Democratic politics,
whereas Rabocheye Dyelo desires to degrade Social-Democratic poli-
tics to trade-union politics. And while doing this, they assure the

world that these two positions are "quite compatible in the common
cause." 0! sancta simplicitas!
To proceed. Have we sufficient forces to be able to direct our
propaganda and agitation among all classes of the population? Of
course we have. Our Economists are frequently inclined to deny
this. They lose sight of the gigantic progress our movement has
made from (approximately) 1894 to 1901. Like real Khvostists,
they frequently live in the distant past, in the period of the beginning
of the movement. At that time, indeed, we had astonishingly few
forces, and it was perfectly natural and legitimate then to resolve
to go exclusively among the workers, and severely condemn any
deviation from this. The whole task then was to consolidate our
position in the working class. At the present time, however, gigantic
forces have been attracted to the movement; the best representatives
of the young generation of the educated classes are coming over to
us; everywhere, and in all provinces, there are people who have
taken part in the movement in the past, who desire to do so now,
who are striving towards Social-Democracy, but who are obliged to
sit idle because we cannot emplo them (in 1894 you could count
the Social-Democrats on your fingers). One of the principal po-
litical and organisational shortcomings of our movement is that we
are unable to utilise all these forces, and give them appropriate
work (we shall deal with this in detail in the next chapter). The
overwhelming majority of these forces entirely lack the opportunity
for "going to the workers," so there are no grounds for fearing
that we shall deflect forces from our main cause. And in order to
be able to provide the workers with real, universal, and live political
knowledge, we must have "our own men" Social-Democrats, every-
where, among all social strata, and in all postit sframm- hich.e
an learn the inner springs of our state mechanics. Such men are
required for propaganda and agitation, but in a still larger measure
for organisation.
Is there scope for activity among all classes of the population?
Those who fail to see this also lag intellectually behind the spon-
taneous awakening of the masses. The labour movement has
aroused and is continuing to arouse discontent in some, hopes for
support for the opposition in others, and the consciousness of the
intolerableness and inevitable downfall of autocracy in still others.
We would be "politicians" and Social-Democrats only in name (as
very often happens), if we failed to realise that our task is to

utilise every manifestation of discontent, and to collect and utilise
every grain of even rudimentary test. This is quite apart from
the fact that many millions of the peasantry, handicraftsmen, petty
artisans, etc., always listen eagerly to the preachings of any Social-
Democrat who is at all intelligent. Is there a single class of the
population in which no individuals, groups or circles are to be found
who are discontented with the state of tyranny, and therefore acces-
sible to the propaganda of Social-Democrats as the spokesmen of
the most pressing general democratic needs? To those who desire
to have a clear idea of what the political agitation of a Social-
Democrat among all classes and strata of the population should be
like, we would point to political exposures in the broad sense of the
word as the principal (but of course not the sole) form of this

We must "arouse in every section of the population that is at all enlightened
a passion for political exposure," I wrote in my article "Where to Begin"
(Iskra, No. 4, May, 1901), with which I shall deal in greater detail later.
"We must not allow ourselves to be discouraged by the fact that the voice
of political exposure is still feeble, rare and timid. This is not because of a
general submission to political despotism, but because those who are able and
ready to expose have no tribune from which to speak, because there is no
audience to listen eagerly to and approve of what the orators say, ard because
the latter can nowhere perceive among the people forces to whom it would
be worth while directing their complaint against the 'omnipotent' Russian
government. We are now in a position to set up a tribune for the
national exposure of the tsarist government, and it is our duty to do so.
That tribune must be a Social-Democratic paper. .. ." *

The ideal audience for these political exposures is the working
class, which is first and foremost in need of universal and live
political knowledge, which is most capable of converting this knowl-
edge into active struggle, even if it did not promise "palpable
results." The only platform from which public exposures can be
made is an All-Russian newspaper. "Unless we have a political
organ, a movement deserving the name of political is inconceivable
in modern Europe." In this connection Russia must undoubtedly
be included in modern Europe. The press has long ago become a
power in our country, otherwise the government would not spend
tens of thousands of rubles to bribe it, and to subsidise the Katkovs,
and Meshcherskys. And it is no novelty in autocratic Russia for the
underground press to break through the wall of censorship and

See The Iskra Period, Book I, p. 113.-Ed.

compel the legal and conservative press to speak openly of it. This
was the case in the seventies and even in the fifties. How much
broader and deeper are now the strata of the people willing to read
the illegal underground press, and to learn from it "how to live and
how to die," to use the expression of the worker who sent a letter
to Iskra [No. 7]. Political exposures are as much a declaration
of war against the government as economic exposures are a declara-
tion of war against the employers. And the wider and more power-
ful this campaign of exposure will be, the more numerous and
determined the social class which has declared war in order to com-
mence the war will be, the greater will be the moral significance of
this declaration of war. Hence, political exposures in themselves
serve as a powerful instrument for disintegrating the system we
oppose, the means for diverting from the enemy his casual or tem-
porary allies, the means for spreading enmity and distrust among
those who permanently share power with the autocracy.
Only a party that will organise real all-national exposures can
become the vanguard of the revolutionary forces in our time. The
word "all-national" has a very profound meaning. The overwhelming
majority of the non-working class exposers (and in order to become
the vanguard, we must attract other classes) are sober politicians
and cool business men. They know perfectly well how dangerous
it is to "complain" even against a minor official, let alone against
the "omnipotent" Russian government. And they will come to us
with their complaints only when they see that these complaints
really have effect, and when they see that we represent a political
force. In order to become this political force in the eyes of out-
siders, much persistent and stubborn work is required to increase
our own consciousness, initiative and energy. For this, it is not
sufficient to stick the label "vanguard" on "rearguard" theory and
But if we have to undertake the organisation of the real all-
national exposure of the government, then in what way will the class
character of our movement be expressed?-the over-zealous advo-
cates of "close organic contact with the proletarian struggle" will
ask us. The reply is: In that we Social-Democrats- will organise
these public exposures; in that all the questions that are brought up
by the agitation will be explained in the spirit of Social-Democracy,
without any deliberate or unconscious distortions of Marxism; in
the fact that the party will carry on this universal political agitation,

uniting into one inseparable whole the pressure upon the govern-
ment in the name of the whole people, the revolutionary training of
the proletariat-while preserving its political independence-the
guidance of the economic struggle of the working class, the utilisa.
tion of all its spontaneous conflicts with its exploiters, which rouse
and bring into our camp increasing numbers of the proletariat!
But one of the characteristic features of Economism is its failure
to understand this connection. More than that-it fails to under-
stand the identity between the most pressing needs of the prole-
tariat (an all-sided political education through the medium of
political agitation and political exposures), and the need for a
general democratic movement. This lack of understanding is not
only expressed in "Martynovist" phrases, but also in the alleged
class point-of-view which is identical in thought with these phrases.
The following, for example, is how the authors of the Economic
Letter in No. 12 of Iskra expressed themselves.*

This fundamental drawback [overestimating ideology] is the cause of Iskra's
inconsistency in regard to the question of the relations between Social-
Democrats and various social classes and tendencies. By a process of theoreti-
cal reasoning [and not by "the growth of party tasks which grow together
with the party"], Iskra arrived at the conclusion that it was necessary im-
mediately to take up the struggle against absolutism, but in all probability
sensing the difficulty of this task for the workers in the present state of affairs
[not only sensing, but knowing perfectly well that this problem will seem less
difficult to the workers than to those Economist intellectuals who are con-
cerned about little children, for the workers are prepared to fight even for
demands which, to use the language of the never-to-be-forgotten Martynov, do
not "promise palpable results"] and lacking the patience to wait until the
working class has accumulated sufficient forces for this struggle, Iskra begins
to seek for allies in the ranks of the liberals and intellectuals.

Yes, yes, we have indeed lost all "patience" to "wait" for the
blessed time that has long been promised us by the conciliatorss,"
when the Economists will stop throwing the blame for their own
backwardness upon the workers, and stop justifying their own lack
of energy by the alleged lack of energy of the workers. We ask our
Economists: What does "the workers accumulating forces for the

Lack of space has prevented us from replying in full to this letter ex-
tremely characteristic of the Economists. We were very glad this letter ap-
peared, for the charges brought against Iskra, that it did not maintain a
consistent, class point-of-view, have reached us long ago from various sources,
and we waited for an appropriate opportunity, or for a formulated expression
of this fashionable charge, in order to reply to it. And it is our habit to
reply to attacks, not by defence, but by counter-attacks.

struggle" mean? Is it not evident that it means the political training
of the workers by revealing to them all the aspects of our despicable
autocracy? And is it not clear that precisely for this work we need
"allies in the ranks of the liberals and intelligentsia," who are
prepared to join us in the exposure of the political attack on the
Zemstvo, on the teachers, on the statisticians, on the students, etc.?
Is this "cunning mechanism" so difficult to understand after all?
Did not P. B. Axelrod repeat to you over and over again since
1897: "The problem of the Russian Social-Democrats acquiring
direct and indirect allies from among the non-proletarian classes
will be solved principally by the character of the propagandist
activities conducted among the proletariat itself?" And Marty-
nov and the other Economists continue to image that the workers
must at first accumulate forces (for trade-union politics) in the
economic struggle with the employers and the government, and then
"go over [we suppose from trade-union "training for activity"] to
Social-Democratic activity."
.. In its quest, continue the Economists, Iskra "not infrequently
departs from the class point-of-view, obscures class antagonisms and
puts into the forefront the general discontent prevailing against the
government, notwithstanding the fact that the causes and the degree
of his discontent vary very considerably among the 'allies.' Such,
for example, is Iskra's attitude towards the Zemstvo. .. ."
Iskra, it is alleged, promises those who are discontented with
the government's doles to the nobility the aid of the working class,
but does not say a word about the class differences among these strata
of the people. If the reader will turn to the series of articles "The
Autocracy and the Zemstvo" [Nos. 2 and 4 of Iskra] to which,
in all probability, the author of the letter refers, he will find that
these articles deal with the attitude of the government towards the
"mild agitation of the feudal-bureaucratic Zemstvo," and towards
the "independent activity of even the propertied classes." In these
articles it is stated that the workers cannot look on indifferently while
the government is carrying on a fight against the Zemstvo, and the
latter are called upon to give up making soft speeches, but to speak
firmly and resolutely when revolutionary Social-Democracy con-
fronts the government in all its strength. What there is in this that

Among these articles there was one (Iskra, No. 3) especially dealing
with the class antagonisms in rural districts. [See The Iskra Period, Book I,
p. 101.-Ed.]

the authors of the letter do not agree with is not clear. Do they
think that the workers will "not understand" the phrases "propertied
classes" and "feudal-bureaucratic Zemstvo"? Do they think that
stimulating the Zemstvo to abandon soft speeches and to speak firmly
and resolutely is "over-estimating ideology"? Do they imagine that
the workers can accumulate "forces" for the fight against absolutism
if they know nothing about the attitude of absolutism towards the
Zemstvo? All this remains unknown. One thing alone is clear and
that is that the authors of the letter have a very vague idea of what
the political tasks of Social-Democracy are. This is revealed still
more clearly by their remark: "Such also is Iskra's attitude towards
the student movements" (i. e., also "obscures class antagonism").
Instead of calling upon the workers to declare by means of
public demonstrations that the real centre of unbridled violence
and outrage is not the students but the Russian government [Iskra,
No. 2],* we ought, no doubt, to have inserted arguments in the spirit
of Rabochaya Mysl. And such ideas were expressed by Social-
Democrats in the autumn of 1901, after the events of February and
March, on the eve of a fresh student up-grade movement, which
revealed that even in this sphere the "spontaneous" protest against
autocracy is "outstripping" the conscious Social-Democratic leader-
ship of the movement. The spontaneous striving of the workers to
defend the students, who were being beaten up by the police and the
Cossacks, is outstripping the conscious activity of the Social-Demo-
cratic organizations!
"And yet in other articles," continue the authors of the letter,
"Iskra 'condemns' all 'compromises,' and 'defends,' for example,
the intolerant conduct of the Guesdists." We would advise those
who so conceitedly and frivolously declare-usually in connection
with the disagreements existing among the contemporary Social-
Democrats-that the disagreements are not essential and would not
justify a split, to ponder very deeply over these words. Is it pos-
sible for those who say that we have done astonishingly little to ex-
plain the hostility of the autocracy towards the various classes, and
to inform the workers of the opposition of the various strata of the
population towards autocracy, to work successfully in one organisa-
tion with those who say that such work is "compromise"-evidently
compromise with the theory of the "economic struggle against the
employers and the government"?
See The Iskra Period, Book I, p. 70.-Ed.

We urged the necessity of introducing the class struggle in the
rural districts on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the
emancipation of the peasantry (No. 3,* and of the irreconcilability
between the local government bodies and the autocracy in connec-
tion with Witte's secret memorandum (No. 4). We attacked the
feudal landlords and the government which served the latter on the
occasion of the passing of the law (No. 8),** and welcomed the
secret Zemstvo congress that was held. We urged the Zemstvo to story
making degrading petitions [No. 8], and to come out in the open
to fight. We encouraged the students, who began to understand the
necessity for the political struggle and began to take up that struggle
[No. 3], and at the same time, we lashed out at the "barbarous
lack of understanding" revealed by the adherents of the "purely stu-
dent" movement, who called upon the students to abstain from
taking part in the street demonstrations (No. 3, in connection with
the manifesto issued by the Executive Committee of the Moscow
students on February 25). We exposed the "senseless dreams" and
the "lying hypocrisy" of the cunning liberals of Rossiya [No. 5] and
at the same time we commented on the savage acts of the govern-
ment's torture chambers where "peaceful writers, aged professors,
and scientists and the liberal Zemstvo were cruelly dealt with" [No.
5, "The Police Raid on Literature"]. We exposed the real signifi-
cance of the programme of the "concern of the government for fhe
welfare of the workers," and welcomed the "valuable admission"
that "it is better by granting reforms from above to forestall the de-
mand for such reforms from below, than to wait for those demands
to be put forward" [No. 6].*** We encouraged the protests of the
statisticians [No. 7], and censured the strikebreaking statisticians
[No. 9]. He who sees in these tactics the obscuring of the class
consciousness of the proletariat and compromise with liberalism
shows that he absolutely fails to understand the true significance of
the programme of the Credo and de facto is carrying out that pro-
gramme, however much he may deny this! Because, by that he is
dragging Social-Democracy towards the "economic struggle against
the employers and the government" but shies at liberalism, aban-

See The Iskra Period, Book I, p. 101.-Ed.
** See Ibid., p. 176.-Ed.
*** See Ibid., p. 164.-Ed.

dons the task of actively intervening in every "liberal" question and
defining his own Social-Democratic attitude towards such questions.


As the reader will remember, these polite expressions were uttered
by Rabocheye Dyelo which in this way answers our charge that
it "indirectly prepared the ground for converting the labour move-
ment into an instrument of bourgeois democracy." In its simplicity
of heart Rabocheye Dyelo decided that this accusation was nothing
more than a polemical sally, as if to say, these malicious doctrinaires
can only think of saying unpleasant things about us; now what can
be more unpleasant than being an instrument of bourgeois de-
mocracy? And so they print in heavy type a "refutation": "Noth-
ing but downright slander" [Two Congresses, p. 30], "mystifica-
tion" [p. 31] "masquerade" [p. 33]. Like Jupiter, Rabocheye
Dyelo (although it has little resemblance to Jupiter) is angry be-
cause it is wrong, and proves by its hasty abuse that it is incapable
of understanding its opponents' mode of reasoning. And yet,
with only a little reflection, it would have understood why sub-
servience to the spontaneity of the mass movement and any de-
grading of Social-Democratic politics to trade-union politics mean
precisely to prepare the ground for converting the labour move-
ment into an instrument of bourgeois democracy. The spontaneous
labour movement is able by itself to create (and inevitably will cre.
ate) only trade unionism, and working-class trade-union politics
are precisely working-class bourgeois politics. The fact that the
working class participates in the political struggle and even in
political revolution does not in itself make its politics Social-
Democratic politics. Will Rabocheye Dyelo deny that? Will it at
last openly and without equivocation explain its position on the
urgent questions of the international and of the Russian Social-
Democratic movement? Oh no, it never thinks of doing anything
of the kind, because it holds fast to the trick, which might be
described as telling it in "negatives": "It's not me; it's not my
horse; I'm not the driver." ** We are not Economists; Rabochaya
Mysl does not stand for Economism; there is no Economism at all

See The Iskra Period, Book I, p. 164.-Ed.
A popular version of the excuses offered by a gipsy caught with a stolen

in Russia. This is a remarkably adroit and "political'
suffers from this little defect, however, that the bodies
it are usually dubbed with the nickname: "Anything you
Rabocheye Dyelo imagines that bourgeois democrat
is merely a "phantom" [Two Congresses, p. 32].** Ha
Like the ostrich, they bury their heads in the sand, ... 11atn
that everything around has disappeared. A number of liberal pub-
licists who month after month proclaimed to the world their tri-
umph over the collapse and even disappearance of Marxism; a
number of liberal newspapers (St. Peterburgskiye Vyedomosti,
Russkiye Vyedomosti and many others) which encourage the lib-
erals who bring to the workers the Brentano conception of the class
struggle and the trade-union conception of politics-the galaxy of
critics of Marxism, whose real tendencies were so very well dis-
closed by the Credo and whose literary products alone circulate
freely in Russia-the animation among revolutionary non-Social-
Democratic tendencies, particularly after the February and March
events-all these, of course, are mere phantoms! Of course, it has
nothing at all to do with bourgeois democracy!
Rabocheye Dyelo and the authors of the Economic Letter pub-
lished in Iskra No. 12, should "ponder over the question as to why
the events in the spring excited such animation among the revo-
lutionary non-Social-Democratic tendencies instead of increasing
the authority and the prestige of Social-Democracy. The reason
was that we failed to cope with our tasks. The masses of the work-
ers proved to be more active than we, we lacked adequately trained
revolutionary leaders and organizers aware of the mood prevailing
among all the oppositional strata and able to march at the head
of the movement, convert the spontaneous demonstration into a
political demonstration, broaden its political character, etc. Under
such circumstances, our backwardness will inevitably be taken ad-
vantage of by the more mobile and more energetic non-Social-
Suggesting that they are subservient.-Ed.
** This is a reference to the "concrete Russian conditions which fatalistically
impel the labour movement on the revolutionary path." But these people
refuse to understand that the revolutionary path of the labour movement
might not be a Social-Democratic path! When absolutism reigned in Western
Europe, the entire Western European bourgeoisie "impelled" and deliberately
impelled the workers on the path of revolution. We, Social-Democrats, how-
ever, cannot be satisfied with that. And if we, by any means whatever, de-
grade Social-Democratic politics to the level of spontaneous trade-union
politics, we, by that, play into the hands of bourgeois democracy.

ocratic revolutionists, and the workers, no matter how strenu-
usly and self-sacrificingly they may fight the police and the troops,
no matter how revolutionary they may act, will prove to be merely
the rearguard of bourgeois democracy, and not the vanguard of So-
cial-Democracy. Take, for example, the German Social-Democrats,
whose weak sides alone our Economists desire to emulate. Why
is it that not a single political event takes place in Germany with-
out adding to the authority and prestige of Social-Democracy?
Because Social-Democracy is always found to be in advance of all
others in their revolutionary estimation of any event and in their
championship of every protest against-tyranny. It does not soothe
itself by arguments about the economic struggle bringing the work-
ers up against their own lack of rights, and about concrete condi-
tions fatalistically impelling the labour movement on the path of
revolution. It intervenes in every sphere and in every question of
social and political life. In the matter of Wilhelm's refusal to
endorse a bourgeois progressive as city mayor (our Economists
have not yet managed to convince the Germans that this in fact is
a compromise with liberalism!); in the question of the law against
the publication of "immoral" publications and pictures; in the
question of the government's influencing the election of the profes-
sors, etc., etc., everywhere Social-Democracy is found to be ahead
of all others, rousing political discontent among all classes, rousing
the sluggards, pushing on the laggards and providing a wealth of
material for the development of the political consciousness and
political activity of the proletariat. The result of all this is that
even the avowed enemies of Socialism are filled with respect for
this advanced political fighter and sometimes an important docu-
ment from bourgeois and even from bureaucratic and Court circles
makes its way by some miraculous means into the editorial 'office
of Vorwaerts.
This, then, is the explanation of the seeming "contradiction" that
passes the understanding of Rabocheye Dyelo to such an extent
that it raises its arms and cries: "Masquerade"! Is it not a shock-
ing thing: We, Rabocheye Dyelo, place the mass labour movement
as the cornerstone (and printed in heavy type!); we warn all and
sundry against belittling the significance of the spontaneous move-
ment; we desire to give the economic struggle itself, itself, itself,
a political character; we desire to maintain close and organic con-
tact with the proletarian struggle! And yet we are told that we are

preparing the ground for converting the labour movement into an
instrument of bourgeois democracy! And who says this? People
who "compromise" with liberalism, intervene in every "liberal"
question (what a gross misunderstanding of the "organic contacts
with the proletarian struggle"!), who devote so much attention to the
students and even (Oh horror!) to the Zemstvoists! People who
wish to devote a greater (compared with the Economists) percent-
age of their efforts to activity among non-proletarian classes of the
population! Is not this a "masquerade"?
Poor Rabocheye Dyelo! Will it ever find the solution of this
complicated puzzle?

Rabocheye Dyelo's assertions-which we have analysed-that
the economic struggle is the most widely applicable means of polit-
ical agitation and that our task now is to give the economic struggle
itself a political character, etc., not only express a restricted view
of our political tasks, but also of our organisational tasks. The
"economic struggle against the employers and the government"
does not in the least require-and therefore such a struggle can
never give rise to-an All-Russian centralised organisation that will
combine, in a general attack, all the numerous manifestations of
political opposition, protest and indignation, an organisation that
will consist of professional revolutionaries and be led by the real
political leaders of the whole people. And this can be easily under-
stood. The character of the organisation of every institution is
naturally and inevitably determined by the character of the activity
that institution conducts. Consequently, Rabocheye Dyelo, by the
above-analysed assertions, not only sanctifies and legitimatises the
narrowness of political activity, but also the narrowness of organi-
sational work. And in this case also, as always, its consciousness
shrinks before spontaneity. And yet, subservience to spontane-
ously rising forms of organisation, the lack of appreciation of the
narrowness and primitiveness of our organisational work, of our
"primitive methods" in this most important sphere, the lack of such
appreciation, I say, is a very serious complaint that our movement
suffers from. It is not a complaint that comes with decline, of
course, it is a complaint that comes with growth. But it is precisely
at the present time, when the wave of spontaneous indignation is, as
it were, lashing us leaders and organizers of the movement, that a
most irreconcilable struggle must be carried on against all defence
of sluggishness, against any legitimisation of restriction in this
matter, and it is particularly necessary to rouse in all those par-
ticipating in the practical work, in all who are just thinking of
taking it up, discontent with the primitive methods that prevail
among us and unshakable determination to get rid of them.


We shall try to answer this question by describing the activity of
a typical Social-Democratic circle of the period of 1894-1901. We
have already referred to the manner in which the students became
absorbed in Marxism at that period. Of course, these students
were not so much interested in Marxism as a theory; they were
interested in it because it provided the answer to the question:
"What is to be done?"; because it was a call to march against the
enemy. And these young warriors marched to battle with aston-
ishingly primitive equipment and training. In a vast number of
cases, they had almost no equipment, and absolutely no training.
They marched to war like peasants from the plough, snatching up a
club. A students' circle with no contacts with the old members of
the movement, no contacts with circles in other districts, or even in
other parts of the same city (or with other schools), without the
various sections of the revolutionary work being in any way organ-
ised, having no systematic plan of activity covering any length of
time, establishes contacts with the workers and sets to work. The
circle gradually expands its propaganda and agitation; by its activi-
ties it wins the sympathies of a rather large circle of workers and
of a certain section of the educated classes, which provides it with
money and from which the "committee" recruits new groups of
members. The fascination which the committee (or the League of
Struggle) exercises on the youth increases, its sphere of activity
becomes wider and its activities expand quite spontaneously: the
very people who a year or a few months previously had spoken at
the gatherings of the students' circle and discussed the question,
"Whither?" who established and maintained contacts with the
workers, wrote and published leaflets, established contacts with
other groups of revolutionists and procured literature, now set to
work to establish a local newspaper, begin to talk about organising
demonstrations, and finally, commence open conflicts (these open
conflicts may, according to circumstances, take the form of issuing
the very first agitational leaflet, or the first newspaper, or of organ-
ising the first demonstration). And usually, the first action ends
in immediate and complete defeat. Immediate and complete, pre-
cisely because these open conflicts were not the result of a syste-
matic and carefully thought-out and gradually prepared plan for a
prolonged and stubborn struggle, but simply the spontaneous

growth of traditional circle work; because naturally, the police,
almost in every case, knew the principal leaders of the local move-
ment, for they had already "recommended" themselves to the police
in their school-days, and the latter only waited for a convenient day
to make their raid. They gave the circle sufficient time to develop
their work so that they may obtain a palpable corpus delicti,* and
always allowed several of the persons known to them to remain at
liberty for razvodka (which, I believe is the technical term used
both by our people and by the gendarmes) ** One cannot help
,mparing this kind of warfare with that conducted by a mob of
peasants armed with clubs against modern troops. One can only
express astonishment at the virility displayed by the movement
which expanded, grew and won victories in spite of the lack of
training among the fighters. It is true that from the historical
point-of-view, the primitiveness of equipment was not only inevitable
at first, but even legitimate as one of the conditions for the wide
recruiting of fighters, but as soon as serious operations commenced
(and they commenced in fact with the strikes in the summer of
1896), the defects in our fighting organizations made themselves
felt to an increasing extent. Thrown into consternation at first and
committing a number of mistakes (for example, its appeal to the
public describing the misdeeds of the Socialists, or the deportation
of the workers from the capital to the provincial industrial centres)
the government very soon adapted itself to the new conditions of
the struggle and managed to place its perfectly equipped detach-
ments of agent-provocateurs, spies, and gendarmes in the required
places. Raids became so frequent, affected such a vast number of
people, and cleared out the local circles so thoroughly, that the
masses of the workers literally lost all their leaders, the movement
assumed an incredibly sporadic character, and it became utterly
impossible to established continuity and connectedness in the work.
The fact that the local active workers were hopelessly scattered, the
casual manner in which the membership of the circles were re-
cruited, the lack of training in and narrow outlook on theoretical,
political and organisational questions were all the inevitable result
of the conditions described above. Things reached such a pass
Offence within the meaning of the law.-Ed.
Literally for "breeding purposes," i. e., to breed more victims for the
police net. By allowing them to be at liberty and by shadowing their move-
ments, the police were able to use them as innocent tools to betray the
whereabouts of other revolutionists as yet unknown to them.-Ed.

that in several places the workers, because of our lack of stamina
and ability to maintain secrecy, began to lose faith in the intelli-
gentsia and to avoid them: The, intellectuals, they said, are much
too careless and lay themselves open to police raids!
Any one who has the slightest knowledge of the movement knows
that these primitive methods at last began to be recognized as a
disease by all thinking Social-Democrats. And in order that the
reader, who is not acquainted with the movement, may have no
grounds for thinking that we are "inventing" a special stage or
special disease of the movement, we shall refer once again to the
witness we have already quoted. No doubt we shall be e\cutied for
the length of the passage quoted:
While the gradual transition to wider practical activity [writes B-v in
Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 61, a transition which is closely connected with the
general transitional period through which the Russian labour movement is
now passing, is a characteristic feature there is, however, another and not
less interesting feature in the general mechanism of the Russian workers'
revolution. We refer to the general lack of revolutionary forces fit for action *
which is felt not only in St. Petersburg, but throughout the whole of Russia.
With the general revival of the labour movement, with the general develop-
ment of the working masses, with the growing frequency of strikes, and with
the mass labour struggle becoming more and more open, the intensification of
government persecution, arrests, deportation and exile, this lack of highly
skilled revolutionary forces is becoming more and more marked and, without
a doubt, must leave deep traces upon the general character of the movement.
Many strikes take place without the revolutionary organizations exercising
any strong and direct influence upon them. .. A shortage of agitational
leaflets and illegal literature is felt. The workers' circles are left without
agitators. Simultaneously, there is a constant shortage of funds. In a
word, the growth of the labour movement is outstripping the growth and de-
velopment of the revolutionary organizations. The numerical strength of the
active revolutionists is too small to enable them to concentrate in themselves
all the influence exercised upon the whole of the discontented masses of labour,
or to give this unrest even a shadow of symmetry and organisation .
Separate circles, separate revolutionists, scattered, uncombined do not repre-
sent a united, strong and disciplined organisation with the planned develop-
ment of its parts. .

Admitting that the immediate organisation of fresh circles to take
the place of those that have been broken up, "merely proves the
virility of the movement but does not prove the existence of
an adequate number of sufficiently fit revolutionary workers," the
author concludes:
The lack of practical training among the St. Petersburg revolutionists is
seen in the results of their work. The recent trials, especially that of the Self.
All italics ours.

Emancipation group and the Labour versus Capital group clearly showed
that the young agitator, unacquainted with the details of the conditions of
labour and, consequently, unacquainted with the conditions under which agi-
tation must be carried on in a given factory, ignorant of the principles of
conspiracy, and understanding only the general principles of Social-Democracy
[and it is a question whether he understands them] is able to carry on his
work for perhaps four, five, or six months. Then come arrests, which fre-
quently lead to the break-up of the whole organisation, or at all events, of
part of it. The question arises, therefore, can the group conduct successful
and fruitful activity if its existence is measured by months? Obviously, the
defects of the existing organizations cannot be wholly ascribed to the transi-
tional period. Obviously, the numerical and above all the qualitative
strength of the organizations operating is not of little importance, and the
first task our Social-Democrats must undertake is effectively to combine the
organizations and make a strict selection of their membership.


We must now deal with the question that undoubtedly must have
arisen in the mind of every reader. Have these primitive methods,
which are a complaint of growth that affect the whole of the move-
ment, any connection with Economism, which is only one of the
tendencies in Russian Social-Democracy? We think that they have.
The lack of practical training, the lack of ability to carry on
organisational work is certainly common to us all, including those
who have stood unswervingly by the point-of-view of revolutionary
Marxism right from the very outset. And, of course, no one can
blame the practical workers for their lack of practical training.
But, the term "primitive methods" embraces something more than
mere lack of training: It embraces the restrictedness of revolutionary
work generally, the failure to understand that a good organisation
of revolutionists cannot be built up on the basis of such restricted
work, and lastly-and most important-it embraces the attempts to
justify this restrictedness and to elevate it to a special "theory," i. e.,
subservience to spontaneity in this matter also. As soon as such
attempts were observed, it became certain that primitive methods are
connected with Economism and that we shall never eliminate this
restrictedness of our organisational activity until we eliminate
Economism generally (i. e., the narrow conception of Marxian
theory, of the role of Social-Democracy, and of its political tasks).
And these attempts were revealed in a two-fold direction. Some
began to say: The labour masses have not yet themselves brought
up the broad and militant tasks that the revolutionists desire to
"impose" upon them; they must continue for the time being to

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