ALLIANCE Marxist-Leninist (North America) Number 36: September 2000


- Preface
- Nikolai Gavrilovich Chernyshevskii
- The First Generation - From The Decembrists to Herzen
- Slavophiles versus Westerners
- Alexander II’s "Emancipation" Of the Serfs
- The Second Generation: From Chernyshevsky to Narodnaya Volya: "Go To The Countryside!"
-Chernyshevsky, Marx, Engles and the Russian Peasant Commune - the Mir or Obschina
-Marx And Engels On the Mir - the Peasant Communes for The Russian Revolution
-Marx & Engels On The Russian Prospects of Revolution
-Plekhanov and his Struggle against Narodism, The First Marxist Grouping In Russia
-Vladimir Illyich Lenin’s Early Political Development
-Lenin's Attacks on The Narodniks - "What the ‘Friends of The People’
-Lenin’s Alliance With Plekhanov
-The Founding Of Iskra –"The Spark"
-Lenin’s "What Is To Be Done Now?" – The Antecedents
- "Where to Begin?"
- "What Is To Be Done? - Burning Questions of Our Movement" - Party-making - Making of the "Storm" Centre


       "We, in the heat in the frost strained our sinews

Toiled with our shoulders eternally bent
Lived in mud hovels, were sodden and frozen
Fought with starvation, with scurvy were spent
Cheated we were by the quick witted foremen
Flogged by the masters and ground in the soil
All we endured and were patient, God’s legions
Peaceable children of toil
Brethren, you now reap the fruit of our struggle
We have been fated to perish and rot
Do you still think of us sometimes with kindness
Do you remember or not?"
Nekrasov "The Railroad";
"Poems of Nekrasov"; trans. Juliet Soskice;
London 1929; p. 190.
    We draw this essay, from a larger work in progress. We should therefore apologize, if it scans even poorer than the rest of our normal fare. It was drawn together hastily since we were alerted to some continuing manifestations of Narodnik thought. It is axiomatic that old controversies die hard. The Narodnik-Bolshevik controversy is one of those.
    The theories of Narodnism received dagger blows from Marx, Engels, Plekhanov - and most fatally of all - from Lenin. But.... it breathes still. It lived on under a host of differing names. The Narodniks, planted many dragon's teeth, and today - their fruit is still growing in different shapes.
    Some pay homage to  Che-ism, some to Maoism, some to more specific forms such as in Naxalbari etc. In our view, they all have a common theme, despite their differing outward shapes. They all counter-pose Firstly the peasant to the worker; and Secondly individual 'heroism' - with individual 'terrorism' - to that of mass actions and mass-class revolution. The exact weights of the two counter-positions do vary in each form. But we submit, that they all have elements of the two counter-positions.
    As a prelude to examining the modern day Narodnik 'dragon-teeth' progeny in detail in a forthcoming piece, Alliance felt it would be useful to give a very brief historical overview of the path through the thicket of Narodnik thought - cleared by Marx, Engels, Plekhanov and Lenin.

    In addition, in writing of this historical period of writing enables us to remind the movement of the contributions that Marx and Engels made to the Russian movement. References are still heard (despite this canard of the bourgeoisie having been shot dead repeatedly before!)  that Marx and Engels got it wrong - that they did not anticipate revolution in Russia. This is of course, incorrect as we remind the movement.
    All these topics can be handily covered, in a summary up to the period of the formation of Lenin's concept of the revolutionary party, since all of them embrace the history of the struggle with, and the defeat of Narodnism.

    Lenin defined the key concepts of Narodism in a work written just prior to "What is To Be Done?", called "The heritage We Renounce" :

"By Narodism we mean a system of views, which comprises the following three                    features:
1) Belief that capitalism in Russia represents a deterioration, a retrogression. Hence the urge and desire to "retard"", "halt", "stop the break-up" of the age-old foundations by capitalism, and similar reactionary cries.
2) Belief in the exceptional character of the Russian economic system in general, and of the peasantry, with its village commune, artel, etc. in particular. It is not considered                    necessary to apply to Russian economic relationships the concepts elaborated by                    modern science concerning the different social classes and their conflicts. The                    village-commune peasantry is regarded as something higher and better than capitalism; there is a disposition to idealise the "foundations". The existence among the peasantry of contradictions characteristic of every commodity and capitalist economy is denied or slurred over; it is denied that any connection exists between these contradictions and their more developed form in capitalist industry and capitalist agriculture.
3) Disregard of the connection between the "intelligentsia" and the country's legal and political institutions, on the one hand, and the material interests of definite social classes, on the other. Denial of this connection, lack of a materialist explanation of these social factors, induces the belief that they represent a force capable of "dragging history along another line, of "diversion from the path"…… and so on.
"The Heritage We Renounce"; written 1897; In  Select Works, Moscow 1977; p. 74; or Collected Works;  volume 2; Moscow;  1977; pp.491-534
    The title of this issue of Alliance, refers to a phrase that Lenin borrowed from Alexander Herzen - "the storm" - that Lenin used to describe the 1905 and 1917 events.   "We clearly see the three generations, the three classes, that were active in the Russian revolution. At first it was nobles and landlords, the Decembrists and Herzen. These revolutionaries formed but a narrow group. .. very far removed from the people. ..The Decembrists awakened Herzen. Herzen began the work of revolutionary agitation. This work was taken up, extended, strengthened, and tempered by the revolutionary raznochinsti - from Chernyshevsky to the heroes of Narodnaya Volya. ... their contact with the people became closer. ‘The young helmsmen of the gathering storm," is what Herzen called them. But it was not yet the storm itself. The storm is the movement of the masses themselves. The proletariat the only class that is thoroughly revolutionary rose at the head of the masses and for the first time aroused millions of peasants to open revolutionary struggles. The first onslaught in this storm took place in 1905. The next is beginning to develop under our very eyes."
Lenin Vladimir I., : "In Memory of Herzen"; Collected works; Volume 18: written May 1912; pp25-26.

        Nikolai Gavrilovich Chernyshevskii

    Both Marx and Engels said that they had taught themselves Russian, mainly in order to understand important thinkers such as Nikolai Gavrilovich Chernyshevskii (1828-1889). Chernyshevskii (or Chernyshevsky) was a famous polymath Russian revolutionary democrat and utopian socialist; who also was a scientist, and novelist. His novel which was published openly "What is To be Done?" – educated a generation of progressives including Lenin himself in some of the problems facing the revolutionary movement. It is true that Liberals such as Sir Isiah Berlin trash this novel, nonetheless, it influenced a whole generation. Indeed Chernyshevskii was one of the outstanding forerunners of Russian Social democracy. Lenin described his famous novel as follows:

"I declare that it is inadmissible to call "What Is To be Done?" primitive and untalented. Under its influence hundreds of people became revolutionaries….. It also captivated me. It ploughed me over again completely…. It is a work which gives one a charge for a whole life. Untalented works cannot have such influence."
Cited: Theen, Rolf, "Lenin: Genesis And Development of a Revolutionary"; New York; Lippincott 1973; p.59.
    But in what lay Chernyshevskii’s greatness for the Russian socialist movement? To answer we will briefly examine the futile struggles of his Russian predecessors struggling for progressive changes.

    The main general theme that runs through the history of the pre-Bolshevik progressive periods, is a progress towards the active involvement and leadership by the proletarian and peasant masses. Lenin illustrated this from statistics published in a legal journal on "crimes against the state in Russia".

    Lenin divided the data into various time periods. These were as follows: 1827-46 (the epoch of serfdom); 1884-90 (the epoch of the raznochinsti movement (i.e., the "professional class not drawn from the nobility many of whom took part in the revolutionary democratic movement"); the merging of the bourgeois-liberal and liberal Narodnik movements). Lastly there is the epoch preceding the revolution (1901-3) and the revolutionary epoch (1905-08), that is the epochs of the bourgeois democratic and proletarian movements.
He presented the following figures, drawn from police records, of the percentages of the fighters for freedom, broken down by their  class of origin:

PERIOD         NOBILITY     URBAN PETTY                     CLERGY           MERCHANTS
                                                 BOURGEOIS & PEASANTS

1827-46                 76                    23                                             ?                 ?
1884-90                 30.6                 46.6                                           6.4            12.1
1901-08                 10.7                 80.9                                            1.6             4.1
1905-1908                9.1                 87.7                                             ?                ?

Data From: Lenin Vladimir I, : "The Role of Social Estates And Classes In the Liberation Movement"; Collected Works; Volume 19; Moscow; 1968; Written August 1913; p. 328.

    Lenin commented: "It can be seen how rapidly the nineteenth-century liberation movement became democratized and how sharply its class composition changed."
Data From: Vladimir I Lenin: "The Role of Social Estates And Classes In the Liberation Movement"; Collected Works; Volume 19; Moscow; 1968; Written August 1913; p. 328.
    In a further analysis of the data, Lenin showed the occupational backgrounds of those arrested. This verified that between 1884-90 and 190-03 and later – there was an astonishing rise in those arrested, who had been employed in industry and commerce (from 1.5% to 17% in the later epochs) and peasants (from 7% to 245 % by 1905). Lenin ironically praised the government for its repressions as it was "arousing the peasantry": "Third (Stolypin) agrarian policy that is very successfully rapidly and energetically arousing the (peasantry)" ;
Vladimir I Lenin: "The Role of Social Estates And Classes In the Liberation Movement"; Collected Works; Volume 19; Moscow; 1968; Written August 1913; p. 331.
    Elsewhere, Lenin describes the same process in rather more graphic language, using Alexander Herzen’s poetic descriptions of the "storm". When in 1912, Lenin honoured the memory of Herzen, Lenin characterised three generations of the Russian revolution, and three classes who had fought for progressive-revolutionary changes in Russia: "We clearly see the three generations, the three classes, that were active in the Russian revolution. At first it was nobles and landlords, the Decembrists and Herzen. These revolutionaries formed but a narrow group. They were very far removed from the people. But their effort was not in vein. The Decembrists awakened Herzen. Herzen began the work of revolutionary agitation. This work was taken up, extended, strengthened, and tempered by the revolutionary raznochinsti - from Chernyshevsky to the heroes of Narodnaya Volya. The range of fighters widened; their contact with the people became closer. ‘The young helmsmen of the gathering storm," is what Herzen called them. But it was not yet the storm itself.
The storm is the movement of the masses themselves. The proletariat the only class that is thoroughly revolutionary rose at the head of the masses and for the first time aroused millions of peasants to open revolutionary struggles. The first onslaught in this storm took place in 1905. The next is beginning to develop under our very eyes."
Lenin Vladimir I., : "In Memory of Herzen"; Collected works; Volume 18: written May 1912; pp25-26.

The First Generation - From The Decembrists to Herzen     The first Russian movement against the Tsar and the absolutist despotic state of Russia involved disgruntled sections of the privileged army elite. These formed the secret society known as The Decembrists – a formation of the officer corps, whose outlook was influenced by the Napoleonic wars. These wars led to Russia’s defeat of the French invasion led by Emperor Napoleon in 1812.

    Although Russia had won, the lack of democratic rights inside Russia, gave sections of the progressive elements of the nobility a sense of the suffering of the Russian peasantry. They saw the self-sacrifice of many serfs, who had volunteered for war. But the serfs had often done so believing they would be set free. They were bitter upon finding upon victory, that this was not to be so. It was often the soldiers returning home who raised the alarm against absolutism, and called for rebellion:

"As Alexsandr Bestuzhev told Nicholas I during the investigation of the Decembrist upspring:
"We spilt our blood, but once again we are forced to sweat at forced labour. We delivered our homeland from the tyrant, yet now the lord tyrannizes us again";
Cited; "Geoffrey Hosking: "Russia - People And Empire 1552-1917"; London; 1998; p. 172.
    In this climate, a group of influential officers of the army set up the Union of Salvation. This was later renamed the Society of True and Loyal Sons of the Fatherland; and an even later successor was named the Union of Welfare. This decided to work for "the welfare of Russia", and to abolish serfdom and transform the autocracy into at least a constitutional monarchy, and preferably into a republic. It adopted a secret organization, using precedents like the Free Masonic lodges, and they rapidly spread in influence.

    The bulk of the secret movements split into two factions – the Northern and Southern Societies. Pavel Pestel’ led the Southern Society and produced a document know as Russkaia pravda (Russian Law) – being a codified set of law for a transitional government. A similar project was carried out for the Northern Society by Nikita Murav’ev.

    That the best of them recognised the central question of land reform to be critical is shown by Pestel’s Russian Law. The question had been framed as whether the peasants should be freed with or without land. Pestel was heavily influenced by Sisimondi and initially felt that giving land to the peasant was incorrect. Some years later, when framing his Russian Law, he insisted upon equal distribution and agrarian collectivism. This was to be done by dividing land in each district into two parts a common land part and private land part. Rights in each part differed considerably:

"The first of these will be the common land, the other private land. Common land will belong collectively to the entire community of each district and will be inalienable. It may be neither sold nor pawned; it will be used to obtain the necessities of life for all citizens without exception, and will belong to each and all. Private land on the other, will belong either to the State or to private person who will own it in complete freedom and will have the right to do with it what they think best. These lands will be thus used as private property and to create plenty."
Pestel Cited by Venturi, Franco: "Roots of Revolution"; London; 1960; p.5
    In advocating this, Pestel wished to avoid the pauperisation of the peasant masses who would be free – but would not have the wherewithal to live. The spectacle of the Western pauperisation that had led to a enforced proletarianisation was what he wished to avoid. To further advocate his line, he pointed to the obschina as a mark of security and stability: "Each action of a single man within them is guided by the spirit of the entire community";
Pestel Cited by Franco Venturi: "Roots of Revolution"; London; 1960; p. 6.
    This germ of this idea of Pestel and the Decembrists, would not die with the failure of their revolt. The Decembrists were ill organised when the crisis came in December 1825, following the death of Tsar Alexander I on 19 November 1825. The next in line was Alexander’s brother, Grand Duke Konstantin. But Konstantin had refused to serve and declared that Nicholas – another brother was to be next-in-line. Nicholas accepted but hesitantly, knowing of his unpopularity. The Decembrists like all reformists in Russia preferred, and declared for Konstantin. But he refused the succession. In the resulting vacuum a crisis developed.
    But before the secret societies could finalise their plans, the conspiracy was discovered. Therefore on December 14th, the Decembrists tried to pre-empt their ruin. They mustered regiments in St.Petersburg on Senate Square, and they declared for Konstantin. But they were irresolute at the beginning, but were dispersed by Nicholas’s artillery only after much blood shed.
    As Lenin commented of this era (See table of Statistics above): "The epoch of serfdom (1827-46) saw the absolute predominance of the nobility. That is the epoch from the Decembrists to Herzen. Feudal Russia is downtrodden and motionless. An insignificant minority of the nobility, helpless without the support of the people, protested. But these the best of the nobility helped to awaken the people";
Vladimir I. Lenin: "The Role of Social Estates And Classes In the Liberation Movement"; Collected Works; Volume 19; Moscow; 1968; Written August 1913; p. 329
    The Decembrists had fought for a Republican state. This aim later became unfashionable among Russian progressives, so much so that Lenin was to remind the evolving movement of the aims of the Decembrists: "It has fallen to our lot (if we leave out of account the long forgotten republican ideas of the Decembrists) to the lot of Social-democrats, to popularise the demand for a republic among the masses, and to create a republican traditions among the Russian revolutionaries."
Lenin Vladimir I, : "Agrarian Programme of Russian Social-democracy"; In Collected Works; Volume 6; 1985; Written February 1902; p.120. or at:

"Has the central Committee lost its elementary revolutionary instinct to such an extent that it no longer sees the difference between the aristocratic revolutionary spirit of the Decembrists, the raznochintsi’s revolutionary spirit of the of the army officers in the Narodnaya Volya – and the profoundly democratic, proletarian and peasant revolutionary spirit of the soldiers and sailors in twentieth century Russia? Has it never been struck by the fundamental difference between the revolutionary spirit of the army officers in the days of the Narodnaya Volya when almost complete apathy reigned in the ranks of the soldiers, and the reactionary spirit of the army officers today, when there is almighty movement precisely among rank-and-file soldiers?"
Vladimir I. Lenin: "Political Crisis, Bankruptcy of Opportunist Tactics;"; Collected Works; Volume 11; Moscow 1986; Written August 21, 1906; p. 158.

    There can be little doubt that Lenin loved both the literary and the political forebears of the Bolsheviks. Indeed he is passionate about the work of the "Radischev’s, the Decembrists and Chernyshevsky": "Is a sense of national pride alien to us, Great-Russian class conscious proletarians? Certainly not! We love our language and our country, and we are doing the utmost to raise her toiling masses (i.e. nine-tenths of her populations) to the level of a democratic and socialist consciousness. To us it is most painful to see and feel the outrages, the oppression and the humiliation our fair country suffers at the hands of the tsar’s butchers the nobles and the capitalists. We take pride in the resistance to these outrages put up from our midst, from the Great Russians; in that midst having produced Radischev, the Decembrists, and the revolutionary commoners of the seventies; in the Great-Russian working class having created in 1905, a mighty revolutionary party of the masses…. We remember that Chernyshevsky, the Great-Russian democrat who dedicated his life to the cause of revolution said half a century ago: "A wretched nation, a nation of slaves from top to bottom - all slaves."
Lenin Vladimir I, : "On the National Pride of the Great Russians"; Collected Works; Volume 21; Moscow; 1980; written December 1914; p. 103. Or at:
    In Lenin’s categorisation of this particular epoch, he ended with the name of Alexander Herzen (1812-1870), who was a boy during the repression of the Decembrists. Herzen vividly remembered the arrests and the massacres. Lenin described him as a "child of the Decembrists", citing Herzen’s own words of the historic role of the "Titans": "The nobility gave Russia the Birons and the Arakacheyevs, innumerable "drunken officers, bullies, gamblers, heroes of fairs, masters of hounds, roisterers, floggers, pimps", But wrote Herzen , "among them developed the men of December 14th, a phalanx of heroes. . .veritable Titans, . .. . comrades-in-arms who deliberately went to certain death in order to awaken the young generation to a new life and to purify the children born in an environment of tyranny and servility."
Vladimir I. Lenin: "In Memory of Herzen"; Collected works; Volume 18: written May 1912; pp25-26. Contained in "Lenin On The Intelligentsia"; Moscow 1983; p.106-108.
    Lenin’s praise of Herzen was high: "The uprising of the Decembrists awakened and "purified him". . . In the feudal Russia of the forties of the nineteenth century, he rose to a height, which placed him on a level with the greatest thinkers of his time. He assimilated Hegel’s dialectics. He realised that it was the "algebra of revolution". He went further than Hegel, following Feuerbach to materialism. The first of his letter on the Study of nature, "Empiricism And Idealism", written in 1844 reveals to us a thinker who even now stands head and shoulder above the multitude of modern empiricist natural scientists and the host of present day idealists and semi-idealist philosophers. Herzen came right up to dialectical materialism and halted before historical materialism.
.. . . Herzen is the founder of "Russian" socialism, of Narodism". He saw "socialism" in the emancipation of the peasants with land, in community land tenure and in the peasant idea of the "right to land". . . . Actually there is not a grain of socialism in this doctrine of Herzen’s, as indeed in the whole of Russian Narodism including the faded Narodism of the present-day Socialist Revolutionaries.
. . . Chernyshevsky, Dobrolyubov and Serno-Solovyevich, who represented the new generation of revolutionary ranochintsi, were a thousand times right when they reproached Herzen for these departures from democracy to liberalism… . However it must be said that in fairness to Herzen that, much as he vacillated between democracy and liberalism the democrat in him gained the upper hand nonetheless."
Lenin, Vladimir I: "In Memory of Herzen"; Collected Works; Volume 18: written May 1912; pp25-26; 27, 28-29.

                    Slavophiles versus Westerners
    But still Lenin placed Vissarion G. Belinsky – not Herzen - as a "forerunner" of the raznochinsti. He wrote of Belinsky that his "Letter to Gogol", was "one of the finest productions of the illegal democratic press, which has to this day lost none of its great and vital significance." Gogol had in his last work "Dead Souls" posed a question: "Rus – whither art thou speeding?" But he had not answered this, and in fact in some despair had burnt the final parts of "Dead Souls". Having laid bare the iniquity of religion and the old order for the Russian serf and peasant, in a series of mystical letters collected in "Sleeted Excerpts from Correspondence with Friends", just prior to his death, Gogol returned to religion. In his "Letter to Gogol", Belinsky roundly chastised him. In the same article, Lenin described of Belinksy’s historic place: "It was V.G.Belinsky who, even before the abolition of serfdom, was a forerunner to of the raznochinsti, who were to completely oust the nobility from the our emancipation movement."
Lenin Vladimir I; "The History of the Workers Press in Russia"; "Collected Works"; Moscow; Vol 26: pp. 109-110.
    Part of the higher place that Lenin gave to Belinsky over Herzen, depended on the consistency of their stands against a Slavophil position.

    In the progressive movement following the Decembrist revolt, there had been two diametrically opposed positions taken.

    The Slavophiles had taken the point of view that Peter The Great had created a dichotomy between people of the land (zemskie lisudi) and the state servants (sluzhilye lidudi). The main representatives of this view were Ivan Kireevskii and Alexsei Khomiakov, and later on Mikhail Bakunin. They identified "sobornost’" (congregationalism, or conciliatory-ness) as a Russian-Slavic phenomena -–in contrast to the alienation of Western individualism. The movement also gave prominence to the word Narodnost (i.e. derived from "narod" (meaning both "people and nation").

    Their opponents were the Westerners – who despite their name retained a severely critical attitude to an idealisation of the West. They owed an allegiance to German idealism and then to French socialism, and together from this background they created so called Russian socialist thought. Some of these formed the core of later revolutionary thought in Russia.

    Early on Herzen had criticised the Slavophil positions of Mikhail Bakunin. This anarchistic charismatic man was to wreak havoc on the First International. In the current context, it is adequate to remark that he was of Russian origin, coming from a family of wealthy landowners. He was convinced of the Hegelian view that the "Absolute Spirit" would set all right in an upheaval. He adopted the view that for Russia the scourge was the West. Bakunin believed that the Slavs were unique in having a solidarity, one bred of an anti-rational, Germanized State bureaucracy:

"By their very nature and in their very being, the Slavs are absolutely not a political, that is state-minded people….. the Slavs are predominantly peaceable and agricultural. . . Living in their separate and independent communes, governed according to patriarchal custom by elders, but on an elective basis, and all making equal use of the commune’s land, they. . . . put into practice the idea of human brotherhood."
Mikhail Bakunin, Cited by Geoffrey Hosking "Russia- People And Empire 1552-1917"; Ibid; p. 283.
    But although Herzen initially had critiqued Bakunin’s Slavophil position, this changed. Herzen had suffered intense personal and political disappointment during his Western exile, and he retreated from a Westerner position to a mystical and exalted view of Russian exceptionalism: "The commune saved the Russian people from Mongolian barbarism and from imperialist civilization, from the gentry with its European veneer and from the German bureaucracy. Communal organizations, though strongly shaken, withstood the interference of the state; it has survived, fortunately, until the development of socialism in Europe….
….To return to the village, to the working man’s artel, to the mir assembly, to Cossackdom, but not in order to freeze them in lifeless Asiatic crystallization’s, but to develop them to set free the principles on which they are based … - that is our mission."
Herzen Cited by Geoffrey Hosking "Russia- People And Empire 1552-1917"; Ibid; p. 283.
    Marx and Engels did not hold Herzen in high regard, contrary to Lenin. This is probably at least in part, because of Herzen's repeated liaisons with Bakunin - who was actively disrupting the work of the First International. Bakunin had chauvinistically used the Slav Congress of 1848 at Prague to promote his version of anarchist-revolution. But also Marx and Engels probably found Herzen’s constant lapses into pious hopes of the nobility difficult to stomach. Despite these constant lapses, finally Herzen broke with all other classes but the peasant masses – the people. It was Herzen’s journal produced in his London exile "Kolokol" (The Bell) that first announced the end of any hopes for a top-down reform led by the nobility.
    But it was also differences over the question of the Mir, that distinguished Marx and Engels from Bakunin and Herzen. The Russian "mir" and peasant communes were to be a subject of continuing debate between Marx and Engels, Chernyshevsky and Vera Zasulich. The legacy of the Slavophiles (here including Herzen and Bakunin) mystical views was bequeathed to the later Socialist-revolutionary party.

Alexander II’s "Emancipation" Of the Serfs     As acknowledged by most historians, the central problem of the serfs pressed on Russia, and impeded development. Even the barbaric Nicholas I, and his Tsarist government recognized this. In fact even under Nicholas I, the implications of Pestel’s Russian Law were appreciated. It was therefore banned. In an attempt to inoculate against future Decembrists – the tsar initiated a in 1826 a committee to investigate. As early as 1834 the chief inspector of police Bekendorf wrote: "Every year the idea of freedom spreads and grows stronger among the peasants owned by the nobles. In 1934 there have been many examples of peasants’ insubordination to their masters."
Cited Franco Venturi; "Roots Of Revolution"; Ibid; p. 65.

"Between 1826 and 1829 there had been 88 disturbances; between 1830 and 1834 there had been 60; between 1835-1839, 79; between 1840-1844 128; between 1845-1849 207…… On an average 7 landowners were murdered by the peasants every year. Yet between 1835 and 1843, 416 people were deported to Siberia for attempts on the lives of the landlords."
Venturi; "Roots of Revolution"; Ibid; p. 64-65.

    The problem for the ruling class, was that whatever reform the tsar would introduce was fraught with the possibility of further igniting the torch of revolution. So Nicholas and his ministers (especially notable were P.D.Kisalev – an ex-Decembrist who had hidden his background and found himself in the center of government attempts at agrarian reform, and Speransky the former reforming minister of Alexander I) hesitated. They were well aware of the peasant’s desire and belief that they owned the land. The Prussian authority on Russia’s agrarian situation Baron Haxthausen, summarised it as follows: "Serfdom has become unnatural, and it will soon be impossible to maintain, still less to retain for the future. Intelligent people recognise this. But the most important problem is to dissolve the relationship without unleashing a social revolution."
Cited by Franco Venturi "The Roots of Revolution"; Ibid.; p. 73.
    But a slight state inspired reformism did take place under Nicholas’s successor, his son Alexander II. He himself was just as reactionary, but the increasingly clear need for reform had made itself clear. He therefore proclaimed an Edict of Emancipation – aimed at the serfs in February 1861. Even then it was opposed bitterly by most of the nobility and the officials. Thus the Council of State weakened it considerably by the time of enactment. It: "Gave the peasants less land and imposed upon them heavier redemption payments than had been hoped for by the intelligentsia and by the tsar’s own liberal ministers. But… it constituted… – the creation of the zemstva (district and provincial organs of rural self–government) and city assemblies, the changes in the judicial system and in the military establishment."
Haimson, Leopold.H. "The Russian Marxists And The Origins of Bolshevism"; Cambridge USA; 1955; p.9-10.

"The rescript of 20th November 1857 had determined the fundamental points….. The nobles were to continue holding all the land, the peasants would be given their houses only in return for a fee, and would be allowed to hire land in return for a rent either in money or work., All peasants organised in rural societies would be subject to the landlords’ police."
Franco Venturi; "The Roots of Revolution"; Ibid; p. 147. 

The Second Generation: From Chernyshevsky to Narodnaya Volya: "Go To The Countryside!"
   The half-heartedness of the reform was clear to Chernyshevsky and Engels amongst others. Chernyshevsky at the time of the reforms, had ridiculed Herzen’s naivete in thinking that the Tsar would correct the peasants plight. Chernyshevsky pointed out also, that the enforced payment for "emancipation" would be crippling and a recipe for continued enslavement. Engels pointed out that later on, in 1875 that the "Emancipation" so- called, had put the peasants "into a most miserable and wholly untenable position": "The lands of the nobles are on average twice as fertile as those of the peasants because during the settlement for the redemption of the corvee, the state not only took the greater part , but also the best part of the land from the peasants and had to pay the nobility the price of their best. . . . . so that in all the fertile parts of the empire, the peasant land is far too small- under Russian agricultural conditions – for them to be able to male a living for it. Not only were they charged an excessive price for it, which was advanced to them by the state and for which they now have to pay interest and installments on the principal to the state. Not only is the almost the whole burden of the land tax thrown upon them, while the nobility escapes scot-free, so that the land tax alone consumes the entire ground rent values of the peasant land and more and are further payments which the peasant has to manage… are direct deductions from that part of his income which represents his wages. Such a situation is as if specially created for the usurer. . . When taxes are about to fall due, the usurer the kulak- frequently a rich peasant of same community- comes along and offers his ready cash. The peasant is . . . obliged to accept the conditions of the usurer without demur. But this only gets him into a tighter fix.. At harvest time, the grain dealer arrives; the need for money forces the peasant to sell part of the grain which he and his family require for their subsistence…. The grain dealer. . lowers prices. . ."
Engels, Frederick,: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Volume 24; Moscow 1989; p. 41-42; published in Der Volksstaat April 1875; reprinted as separate pamphlet July 1875.
    As Engels pointed out, the peasantry had been plundered for the well-being of the capitalists. It was this that ultimately lay behind the measures of the so-called Emancipation: "The big bourgeois of Petersburg, Moscow, and Odessa which has developed with unprecedented rapidity over the last decade, chiefly owing to the railways , and which cheerfully "went smash" along with the rest during the last swindle years, the grain, hemp, flax, and tallow exporters, whose whole businesses is built of the misery of the peasants, the entire large scale industry which only exists thanks to the protective tariffs granted to it by the state".
Frederick Engels, in: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Volume 24; Moscow 1989; ; p. 48-49; Written-published in Der Volksstaat April 1875; reprinted as separate pamphlet July 1875.
    At first Herzen had been well disposed to the reforms, but by June even Herzen in his journal, the "Kolokol", had attacked the half measures of the Government: "A new serfdom. The Tsar has cheated the people."
Cited Franco Venturi "Roots of Revolution" Ibid; p. 109.
    It was at this point that Herzen finally realised the futility of hopes in the nobility and the Tsar. He now was ready to agree with Chernyshevsky who together with Nekrasov (a poet) had forewarned of the futility of Alexander II’s reforms. Herzen now raised the cry: "Go to The People!" in autumn 1861.

    This became the direction of the Populists over the next period. Without Herzen who was in London, this cry resulted in the formation of the Zemlya I Volya ("Land and Freedom") by N.A.Serno-Selovich in 1876. Its members aimed at setting up permanent communes in the countryside to work towards revolution. They believed in the "inevitability" of peasant led revolution.

    N.G.Chernysevsky was at the centre of this movement also. It did not survive long, but its Populist views lived on. Many of the young radicals at this stage were declassed elements of the clergy and lower nobility- sons and daughters who were inspired to "go to the people" (khozhdeniue v narod"). Led by Serno-Selovich and Petr Lavrov, many young people adopted peasant dress and set up study circles known as kruzhok. In about 1874, these young radicals more or less spontaneously began to simply "go to the countryside". They went often with no trade at their disposal and tried to fit into the villages with a view to subverting the people. Often however, they were regarded with suspicion and very often were handed over to the authorities as "troublemakers". By 1876, Zemlya I Volya, had been formed.

    In both the spontaneous surge to the countryside, and the Zemlya I Voglia, the views of Mikhail Bakunin predominated. These views were based on the peasant as the mainspring of revolution, one that needed to be released. But this image did not conform to reality, as observers have noted:

"Bakunin’s image of the peasant as natural revolutionist, who could be aroused to action if only the right words were spoke, bore little resemblance to peasants in real life."
Baron, Samuel ; "Plekhanov"; Stanford 1963; p.30.
    One of the disciples of Bakunin, Peter Tkachov opened polemics upon Engels, and in this he showed Bakunin’s view of insurrection. Engels had in the course of reviewing refugee literature, pointed out that a Russian journal named "Vperyod" edited by Peter Lavrov in England, had been compelled to attack the Bakuninist manner of work in Russia. (Volume 24; III: Refugee Literature"; in Marx And Engels; Volume 24; pp 19- 38). Tkachov then launched a furious attack upon Engels. Engels cited this attack in his rebuttal: "The Russian people, Mr.Tkachov relates, "protest incessantly" against its enslavement. . . "incendiarism, revolts. . . and hence the Russian people may be termed an instinctive revolutionist. Therefore Mr. Tkachov is convinced that "It is only necessary to evoke an outburst in a number of places at the same time of all the accumulated bitterness and discontent, which. . . is always seething in the breast of our people … Then.. "the union of the revolutionary forces will come about of itself, and the fight . . . must end favorably for the people’s cause. Practical necessity, the instinct of self-preservation", will then achieve , quite of themselves, " a firm and indissoluble alliance among the protesting village communities. . . . Our people . . . its great majority is permeated with the principles of common ownership; it is as if. . . . instinctively communist. . . It is clear that our people despite its ignorance, is much nearer to socialism than the peoples of Western Europe although the latter are more educated."
Tkachov Cited in: Engels, Frederick "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Volume 24; Moscow 1989; ; p. 48-49, 45; Written-published in Der Volksstaat April 1875; reprinted as separate pamphlet July 1875.(Emphasis-Editor Alliance).
    As Engels comments, this "instinctive communist" philosophy is childish, and besides as a strategy that had been actually applied by Bakunin in the Spanish revolt of 1873, had already been shown not to work: "It is impossible to conceive of a revolution on easier and more pleasant terms. One starts shooting, at three or four places simultaneously, and the "instinctive revolutionist", "practical necessity"; and the "instinct of self-preservations" do the rest "of themselves". Being so dead easy, it is simply incomprehensible why the revolution has not been carried out long ago, the people liberated and Russia transformed into a the model socialist country. Actually matters are quite different. The Russian people, this instinctive revolutionist has true enough, made numerous isolated peasant revolts against the nobility and against individual officials, but never against the tsar, except when a false tsar put himself at its head and claimed the throne. The last great peasant uprising. . . was only possible because Yemelyan Pugachov claimed to be . . Peter III. . . . . if the mass of the Russian peasants were ever so instinctively revolutionary, even if we imagined that revolutions could be made to order just one asks for flowered calico or a tea-kettle - even then is it permissible for anyone over the age of twelve years of age to imagine the course of revolution in such an utterly childish manner as is the case here? And remember further, that this was written after the first revolution made on this Bakuninist model – the Spanish one of 1873-had so brilliantly failed."
Frederick Engels, Citing Tkachov in: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Volume 24; Moscow 1989; ; p. 48-49; Written-published in Der Volksstaat April 1875; reprinted as separate pamphlet July 1875.
    It is important to note that Engels did not criticize the Bakuninist tactics, on any moral grounds of anti-violence. This is shown by his comment on the actions of Vera Zasulich, who had attempted the assassination of St. Petersburg’s Governor Trepov on January 24 after his order to lash the revolutionary Bogolyubov. Vera Zasulich was acquitted by a jury, and her trial was followed avidly by the European press:     Many of the young radicals and students were arrested when they entered the villages and tried to inflame the masses to revolt. As Baron points out, in two months of 1874 alone, 770 were arrested (See Samuel Baron "Plekhanov"; Stanford 1963; p.14). There was a drift between 1878-1879, towards an individual terrorist "inspiration" to the otherwise supposedly inert peasants. Factional strife between those prompting individual terror (like Morozov and Kravchinsky) and those who saw the need for a mass terror (like Plekhanov) grew.

    This was irreconcilable, and it led to a split. One section decided it was necessary to become a conspiratorial organization, aiming at the assassination of the Tsar as the signal to prepare for a political struggle. In 1879, a majority at a secret congress supported this view. This majority went on to form Narodnya Volnya ("People’s will"). Dissension was in the minority, but it was led by Georgii Plekhanov.

    Both Marx and Engels thought very highly of Chernyshevsky. This is obvious from a number of references, including one where they credit their desire to learn Russian as stemming from the need to read Chernyshevsky: "At the beginning of 1870 I began to study Russian which I now read fairly fluently. This came about because Flerovsky’s very important work on the Condition of the Working Class (especially the peasants) In Russia had been sent to me from Petersburg, and because I also wanted to familiarize myself with the excellent economic works of Chernyshevsky (who was as a reward was sentenced to the Siberian mines where he has been serving for the past seven years). The result was worth the effort… The intellectual movement now taking place in Russia testifies to the fact that fermentation is going on deep below the surface., Minds are always connected by invisible threads with the body of the people."
Marx , Karl, "Letter to Sigfrid Meyer in New York";. In "Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence"; Moscow; 1982; p.241 Written London January 21, 1871.
    And in response to the complaints of Eugenie Papritz about the llow level of her country-folk’s development, Engels would not hear of it. He instead berated her for not considering the value of Chernyshevsky : "Are you not being somewhat unjust to your fellow-countrymen? The two of us – Marx and I had no grounds for complaint against them. If certain schools were more notable for their revolutionary ardor than for their scientific study, if there was and still is a certain groping here and there, on the other hand a critical spirit has evinced itself there and a devotion to research even in pure theory worthy of the nation that produced a Dobrolyubov and a Chernyshevsky. I am not speaking only of active revolutionary Socialists, but also of the historical and critical school in Russian literature, which is greatly surpassing anything produced in this line in Germany or France by official historical science. And even among active revolutionaries our ideas and the science of political economy recast by Marx have always met with sympathetic understanding."
Engels to Eugenie Papritz in London. Written London June 26th, 1884; In: "Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence"; Moscow; 1982; p.354.
    It is true that Chernyshevsky owed Herzen an intellectual debt. But the former overcame the major limitations of Herzen, in especial he developed a more consistently militant line. Even this was not however free of liberal trends nor of anarchist trends. But, Chernyshevsky developed towards socialism, albeit it was a brand of "Utopian Socialism": "With the fall of the serf-owning system, the raznochinsti emerged as the chief actor from among the masses in the movement for emancipation in general and in the democratic illegal press in particular. Narodism, which correspond to the raznochinsti point of view, becomes the dominant trend. As a social trend it never succeeded in dissociating itself from liberalism on the right and from anarchism on the left. But Chernyshevsky, who after Herzen, developed the Narodnik views, made a great stride forward as compared with Herzen. Chernyshevsky was a far more consistent and militant democrat, his writings breathing the spirit of the class struggle. He resolutely pursued the line of exposing the treachery of liberalism, a line which to this day is hateful to the Cadets and liquidators. He was a remarkably profound critic of capitalism despite his utopian socialism."
Lenin, Vladimir I; "The History of the Workers Press in Russia"; "Collected Works"; Moscow; Vol 26: pp109-110.
Chernyshevsky took up the basic argument of Herzen – that somehow the "mir", or "obschina", could overcome the penurious transition of the peasant into the proletariat.

    The terms Obschina and mir are virtually interchangeable, and stand for peasant community, one that was essentially a "self-governing" community. Engels both explains the derivation, and draws from it the conclusion of the linkage between the Russian form of property and the Oriental Despotic form of property ownership:

"The Russian peasant lives and has his being only in his village community; the rest of the world exists for him only in so far as it interferes with his community. This is so much the case, that in so far as it interferes with his community. This is so much the case the case that, in Russian the word "mir" means on the one hand "world" and on the other "peasant community". . . .. Such a complete isolation of individual communities form one another, which creates throughout the country similar but the very opposite of common, interests, is the natural basis for oriental despotism; and form India to Russia, this form of society, wherever it has prevailed, has always produced and always found its complement in it." Frederick Engels, in:
"Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Volume 24; Ibid; p.46.
    The mir were first described in the Kievan ‘Rus law code the Russkia pravda' (See Geoffrey Hosking "Russia People And Empire"; Ibid; p. 198). These laws implied that: ‘The community as a whole was responsible for the discharge of dues and taxes: if one household fell short on its contribution, the others were expected to make up the difference. That usage was strengthened under Mongol overlordship, and became universal during the 15th-17th centuries, when the Grand Princes were transferring previously ‘black lands’-owned by the state or by nobody – to service nobles and it as juridically fixed in the Law Code (Ulozhenie) of 1649, as a convenient way for landlords and the state to ensure that dues were paid promptly and in full."
Geoffrey Hosking "Russia People and Empire"; Ibid p. 198.
    This communal form remained a feature of Russian peasant life even after the "Emancipation" of Alexander II. To further minimise the risks attached to the peasantry, the communes evolved a strip system of land-tenure to share out the risk: "The strip system of land tenure. . . ensured that each household had a share in land of different types, near and far away, dry and marshy, fertile and less fertile, and access to different kinds of cultivation. "Mutual responsibility" had the same function, it not only suited the landlord, but also ensured minimal subsistence for each household even in times of difficulty".
Geoffrey Hosking "Russia People And Empire"; Ibid p. 201.
    A related form of development that fell into the same category was the "artel", which was a: "a widespread form of association, the simplest form of free co-operation, such as is found for instance among hunting tribes, Word and content are not of Slavic but Tatar origin. Both are to be found among the Kirghiz, Yakuts etc on the one hand, and among the Lapps, Samoyeds and other Finnish peoples on the other. That is why the artel originally developed in the North and East. . . The severe climate necessitates industrial activity of various kinds and so the lack of urban development and of capital, is replaced as far as possible by this form of cooperation.. ."
Frederick Engels, in: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Volume 24; Moscow 1989; p. 43; Written-published in Der Volksstaat April 1875; reprinted as separate pamphlet July 1875.
    In the poor soil of the peasant holdings, they had to supplement their income. When they did so, they would form associations that were historically based on this artel form. As the Russian populist Stepniak used the term, they meant: "A free union of people who combine for the mutual advantages of cooperation in labour or consumption or both";
Cited Geoffrey Hosking "Russia People And Empire"; Ibid; p. 203.

"the artel then had the same function as the mir: in the absence of a secure legal basis for contracts, to provide a framework for collective economic activity, and at the same time to spared the risks and share the difficulties of such activity."
Geoffrey Hosking "Russia People And Empire"; Ibid; p. 205-206.

"Moreover in Russia the word artel is used for every form, not only of collective activity but also of collective institution."
Frederick Engels, in: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Volume 24; Moscow 1989; p.43; Written-published in Der Volksstaat April 1875; reprinted as separate pamphlet July 1875.

    The essential features of the mir-artel-obschina was then the : "Collective responsibility of its members for one another to third parties, was originally based on blood relationship".
Frederick Engels, in: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Ibid; p.43;
    Marx and Engels defined the features of the "archaic" "rural commune" as Marx called it, or the communal artel-mir in the following manner: "An elder (starosta, starshina) is always chosen who fulfils the functions of treatment, etc, and of manager as far as necessary and receives a special salary"..."They are established by a contract signed by all the members".... the artel is a collective society that has arisen spontaneously and is therefore, still very undeveloped".
From Frederick Engels "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social Relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Ibid; p. 44.
    A further series of clarifications by Marx showed that the mir rural communes required: 1) Relations that are not based on blood lines; it is the "first social grouping of free men not held together by blood-ties";
2) That there is a complex mix of individual and common property such that, for instance, the "house and its complement the courtyard belonged to the agricultural producer as an individual". This was private, and distinguished the "communal house and collective dwelling" of the "more primitive communities, long before the introduction of the pastoral or agrarian way of life".
3) That the arable land "inalienable and communal property", is periodically re-divided between members of the commune so tha: "everyone tills the fields assigned to him on his own account and appropriates the fruits thereof as an individual."
Marx, Karl: "Third Draft of letter to Vera Zasulich"; In "Collected Works" Volume 24; Moscow 1989; p. 366.
    This all meant that the artel could function not only in the countryside, but also in various other occupations e.g. fishing, lumber, tar distillers etc. But just as in the case of the peasant, as the necessary capital cannot be brought together to fulfil a contract (e.g. in the fisheries to get nets etc; or the cheeseries to get equipment) the artel falls prey to the usurer. This allows the usurer to exploit the labour of the artel. Since some artels actually hired themselves out en bloc to an employer, the artel then is obliged to live in a truck system with the employer. All this, as Engels pointed out: "Facilitates considerably the exploitation of the wage worker by the capitalist."
Frederick Engels "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Ibid, p. 44.
    This type of artel arrangement was not however unique to Russia: "Like the mutual liability (Gewere) of the ancient Germans, blood vengeance etc. . . .It is thus seen that the artel is a co-operative society that has arisen spontaneously and is therefore still very underdeveloped and as such neither exclusively Russian, nor even Slavic. Such societies are formed wherever there is a need for them…. Switzerland…. England…. Silesian navvies….."
Frederick Engels, in: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Ibid; p.43;
The whole controversy of the mir arose, as the Narodniks claimed that this formation would allow the Russian peasant to leap into socialism from their current stage, not having to go throguh capitalism.

    But as Engels points out, the situation did not "naturally" and ineluctably lead to socialism, without certain further key developments:

"True the predominance of this form in Russia proves the existence in the Russian people of a strong impulse to jump, with the aid of this impulse, from the artel straight into the socialist order of society. For that, it is necessary above all that the artel sites should be capable of development, that it shed its primitive form, in which as we saw, it serves the workers less than it does capital, and rise at least to they level of the West European co-operatives."
Frederick Engels, in: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Ibid; p. 45.
    Why were these "developments" noted by Engels, needed? Because the inequities in the system meant that there was a growing inequality: "Further development of Russia in a bourgeois direction would here also destroy communal ownership little by little. . . . . And this especially since the communally owned land is not cultivated by the peasants in common, so that the product may then be divided as is still the case in some districts in India on the contrary from time to time, the land is divided up among the various heads of families, and each cultivate his allotment for himself. Consequently very great differences in degree of prosperity are possible and actually exist among the members of the community. Almost everywhere there are a few rich peasants among them - here and there millionaires - who play the usurer and suck the blood of the mass of the peasants. . . . . No one knows this better than Mr.Tkachov. . . who writes. . . . "among the peasants a class of usurers (kulakov) is making its way, a class of people who buy up and rent the land of peasants and nobles a- muzhik aristocracy."
Frederick Engels, in: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Ibid;
    But Chernyshevsky hinged his social analysis upon the mir.

    He insisted that the serf’s emancipation should be accompanied with land in the form of obschina land just as before. He thought this would prove to be a short cut to socialism, and that capitalism was developing so fast that the socialist revolution was not far off:

"The rapid movement of modern economic history promotes us to say that that we won’t have long to wait for this third period."
Cited Franco Venturi "Roots Of Revolution"; Ibid; p. 150.
    He hoped that Russia could jump to socialism without going through capital, that she could: "Skip all the intermediate states of development or at least enormously reduce them of their length and deprive them of their power."
Cited Franco Venturi "Roots Of Revolution"; Ibid; p. 152
    Chernyshevsky became the leading light of the journal Souvremenik (The Contemporary), taking over from the social-critic and poet Vissarion Belinsky. In doing so, Chernyshevsky drew it away from a belle lettre mode, towards a more overtly politically radical line. This became the line of the Zemlya I Volya. Even this need for a new radical organisation, was only realised after painful polemic and bitter experiences. During the course of this polemic, Chernyshevsky exposed Herzen’s error in trusting to Alexander II’s reforms. During the extended polemic, Chernyshevsky bitterly attacked the Slavophiles, saying: "Their eyes are so strangely constructed that whatever filth they see, they regard as something marvelous . . . And so they consider that our habit of submitting to all oppression is an excellent one, and that Western Europe is dying through lack of this laudable custom, and that it will only be saved by us when it learns such humility."
Cited Venturi, "Roots of Revolution" Ibid; p. 160
    And yet, Chernyshevsky agreed with Herzen that the peasant communes, were an important point of difference between Russia and Western Europe, one which might yet be of progressive significance. As Chernyshevsky commented upon the battle between the Slavophiles and the Westerners over the route that Russia was to take, the support for the "communal utilization of the land" – meant that for him in one crucial respect, the Slavophiles were right: "The Slavophiles read aright the meaning of the fate of the English and French farmers, and are anxious to ensure that we make good use of this lesson. They consider the communal utilization of this land as the most important guarantee, the essential precondition of the welfare of the agricultural class. In this respect they are greatly superior to the many of the so-called Westernizers, who base their opinions on obsolete systems which are spiritually part of the bygone epoch, with its one sided emphasis on the personal rights of each single individual, and who are prepared to inveigh thoughtlessly against these valuable old customs of ours on the grounds that they are incompatible with the postulates of systems that both science and the experience of the Western European nations have already proved to be invalid."
Chernyshevsky, As cited by Walicki, Andrej in: "The Slavophil Controversy"; Oxford; 1975; p.465;   "the unlimited extension of the rights of the individual makes it extremely difficult to introduce a better social structure in Western Europe.. people do not easily relinquish even a small part of what they sued to enjoy. The individual in Western Europe is already accustomed to unlimited personal rights. . . . But something that seems utopian there exists as an actual fact here. . habits whose inculcation in the life of the people seems to the English and French immensely difficult , already exists in the life of the Russian people.."
Chernyshevsky from Works; Geneva edition; Vol 5; Cited by Frederick Engels; in: "Afterword to Soziales Aus Russland"; in Marx & Engels: "Precapitalist Socio-Economic Formations"; Moscow; 1979; p.476; written 1894.
Marx and Engels had perfectly understood Chernyshevsky’s intent in adopting this road: "But the Russian (peasant) community has gained the attention and approval of men who stand infinitely higher than a Herzen or Tkachov. Among them is Nikolai Chernyshevsky, the outstanding thinker to whom Russia is so greatly indebted and whose slow murder caused by many years of exile among Siberian Yakuts will for ever remain a stigma on the reputation of Alexander II. . .. . . Chernyshevsky too regards the Russian peasant community as a means of advancing from the existing social system to a new stage of development which will be higher than the Russian community on the one hand, and West-European capitalist society with its class contradictions on the other:
"Marx summarised it thus: "Must Russia destroy the peasant community first, as the Liberals demand, so as to advance to the capitalist system, or can she on the contrary, by developing further her own historically given preconditions, acquire the results of this system without experiencing the suffering it causes?"
Engels Frederick; in: "Afterword to Soziales Aus Russland"; in Marx & Engels: "Precapitalist Socio-Economic Formations"; Moscow; 1979; p.476; written 1894.
    Everyone recognised, certainly Marx, Engels and Lenin did – that Chernyshevsky was in no position to assess all the evidence because he was rotting away, during his final incarceration in Tsarist prison. In any case, all this did not mean that Chernyshevsky was supported by, or could be identifiable with the Slavophiles or vice-versa. As Lenin identified it, Chernyshevsky was well aware, that nothing could prevent class struggle. Lenin wished to make it clear that Chernyshevsky had been quite explicit about class struggle: "Chernyshevsky understood that the Russian feudal bureaucratic state was incapable of emancipating the peasants, that, of overthrowing the feudal serf owners, that it was only capable of something "vile", of a miserable compromise between the interests of the liberals … and the landlords... And he protested, execrated the Reform, wanted it to fail, wanted the government to…. Crash to… bring Russia out on the high road of open class struggle."
Lenin, Vladimir. I.: "What The Friends of The People Are"; in Collected Works"; Moscow; 1977; Volume 1; p. 282; written Spring 1894.  
Marx And Engels On the Mir - the Peasant Communes     Although both Marx and Engels admired Chernyshevsky, the question of the mir would prove to be a recurrent and problematic one. As already seen, their first systematic review of this question had been prompted by an attack launched upon Frederick Engels by a disciple of Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Tkachov. The counter-attack by Engels, was entitled: "On Social Relations In Russia", and was discussed above in relation to Bakunin’s views of insurrection. But the article is also relevant in its discussion of the mir-artel-obschina.
    Although Tkachov accuses Engels of possessing "not even a little knowledge" of Russia – Engels demonstrated his mastery of the problems. Engels fully realised the role that the artel and mir had taken on for the Russian movement: "The artel which Tkachov mentions only incidentally, but with which we deal here because , since the time of Herzen, it has played a mysterious role with many Russians."
Frederick Engels, in: "Refugee Literature – V. ‘On Social relations In Russia"; in "Collected Works"; Volume 24; Moscow 1989; p.43; Written-published in Der Volksstaat April 1875; reprinted as separate pamphlet July 1875.
    Later Russian interpreters of Marx would not cavil at distorting him to 'prove' their own biases on the implications of Marxism for the future revolutionary course in Russia.
    On the one hand, both Marx and Engels were well aware that they did not have the full details of the Russian social development. But equally, they were well aware that the pro-Slav tendency of many of the previous generation of Russian progressives and socialists had been over-optimistic on the matter of the mir and the Russian exceptional path of development. Marx was also well aware that the most simplistic of the "Western" school had pronounced that  Marx’s "Capital", put view of a "historical inevitability" to go through capitalism, before arriving at socialism. As Vera Zasulich put it to Marx: "Recently we have often heard the opinion that the rural commune is an archaic form which history, scientific socialism - in a word all that is indisputable- condemns to death. The people preaching this call themselves your disciples par excellence: "Marxists". Their strongest argument is often "Marx says so". But how do you deduce this from his Capital? In it he does not deal with the agrarian question and he does not speak about Russia.’ The objection is put to them. "He would have said this if he had spoken about your country," our disciples reply, possibly just a bit too boldly."
Zasulich, Vera; "Letter to Karl Marx"; In "Collected Works Volume 24"; Moscow 1989; See as footnote #342; p. 642.
    But the ‘bold disciples’ had distorted Marx’s view. Marx recognized as his explicitly Marxist comrades in Russia, to be Pytor Lavrov, Hermann Lopatin and Nikolai Danielson – none of whom, said Marx, would have put the views of these "disciples" that Zasulich had cited: "The Russian "Marxists" of whom you speak are quite unknown to me. To the best of my knowledge, the Russians with whom I am in personal contact hold diametrically opposed views."
Karl Marx: Second Draft Reply to Vera Zasulich; In "Collected Works Volume 24"; Moscow 1989; p. 361.
    In the final version of his famous letter to the Russian revolutionary Vera Zasulich, Marx laid out his views: "In analyzing the genesis of capitalist production I say:
"At the core of the capitalist system, therefore lies the complete separation of the producer from the means of production…… The basis of this whole development is the expropriation of the agricultural producer. To date this had not been accomplished in a radical fashion anywhere except in England. . . But all the other countries of Western Europe are undergoing the same process (Cites Capital, French edition; p.315).
Hence the "historical inevitability" of this process is expressly limited to the countries of Western Europe. The cause of that limitation is indicated in the following passage from Chapter XXXII:
"Private property, based on personal labor . . . will be supplanted by capitalist private property, based on the exploitation of the labour of others on wage labour.. (l.c.; p.341).
In this Western movement therefore what is taking place is the transformation of one form of private property into another form of private property. In the case of Russian peasants, their communal property would on the contrary, have to be transformed into private property."
Marx, Karl; "Letter to Vera Zasulich"; "Collected Works Volume 24"; Moscow 1989; p. 370; Written March 1881.
    Marx was careful to point out that he was not in a position to be dogmatic and say there was only one way forward. Instead he acknowledged the special features of Russia’s retention of the artel-peasant commune (mir or obschina) form of production into the late 1880’s and even agreed with the view that the peasant commune might be: "The fulcrum of social regeneration". However he insisted that if it were to do so, it would be in the context of the deletion of "deleterious influences which are assailing it form all sides": "Hence the analysis provided in "Capital" does not adduce reasons either for or against the viability of the peasant commune, but the special study I have made of it, and the material for which I drew from original sources has convinced me that this commune is the fulcrum of social regeneration in Russia, but in order that it may function as such, it would first be necessary to eliminate the deleterious influences which are assailing it from all sides, and then ensure for it the normal conditions of spontaneous development."
Marx’s Letter to Vera Zasulich; "Collected Works Volume 24"; Moscow 1989; p. 371; Written March 1881.
    The nature of these "deleterious influences" is made clear in the drafts of Marx’s letters to Vera Zasulich. He had obviously decided that a concise, brief answer to Zasulich would prove more productive. However the longer drafts provide us with his inner thinking. He essentially identifies therein, the "duality" between the individual aspects of peasant life within the communal environs of the mir. This was the "duality" at the heart of the matter: "One can understand the duality inherent in the condition of the agricultural commune is able to endow it with vigorous life, Freed from the strong but tight bonds of natural kinship, communal ownership of the land and the social relations stemming from it guarantee it a solid foundation, at the same time as the house and the courtyard, the exclusive domain of the individual family, parcel farming and the private appropriation of its fruits give a scope to individuals incompatible with the organism of more primitive communities.
But it no less evident that in time this very dualism might turn into the germ of decomposition. Apart form the all the malign influences from without, the commune carries the elements of corruption in its own bosom. A private landed property had already slipped into in the guise of house with its rural courtyard. . . . But the vital thing is parcel labour as a source of private appropriation. It gives way to the accumulation of personal chattels, for example cattle, money, and sometimes even slaves or serfs, This movable property, beyond the control of the commune, subject to individual exchanges in which guile and accident have their chance will weight more and more on the entire rural economy.. . there we have the destroyer of primitive economic and social equality";
Marx, Karl; "Third Draft of Letter to Vera Zasulich"; Collected Works; Volume 24; Ibid; p. 367.
    Added to this inner "duality" was the external forces of capital: "You know perfectly well that today the very existence of the Russian commune has been jeopardized by a conspiracy of the powerful interests; crushed by the direct extortions of the State, fraudulently exploited by the "capitalist" intruders, merchants, etc and the land "owners"; it is undermined into the bargain , by the village usurers by conflicts of interests provoked in its very heart by the very situation perpetrated for it. . . "
Marx In Draft One: Volume 24; Ibid; p. 359;

"Leaving aside any more or less theoretical question, I need not tell you that the today the very existence of the Russian commune is threatened by a conspiracy of powerful interests. A certain kind of capitalism, nourished at the expense of the peasants through the agency of the State, has risen up in opposition to the commune; it is in its interest to crush the commune. It is also in the interest of the landed proprietors to set up the more or less well-off peasants as an intermediate agrarian class and to turn the poor peasants –that is to say the majority- into simple wage earners. This will mean cheap labour! And how would a commune be able to resist, crushed by the extortions of the state, robbed by business, exploited by the landowners, undermined from within by usury?"
Second Draft of Letter To Vera Zasulich"; Ibid; Volume 24; p. 364.

    In this, Marx was clearly in agreement with Engels whose views on the mir have been already partly discussed in the previous section. It is important to note that in the Foreword to the Second Russian edition of the "Manifesto of the Communist Party", both Marx and Engels endorsed the view that if the capitalist step was to be avoided in the Russian development to socialism, it was necessary for there to be some safeguard in the form of the Western proletarian revolution. They put it this way: "Today. . . Russia forms the vanguard of revolutionary action in Europe. The "Communist Manifesto" had as its object the proclamation of the inevitably impending dissolution of modern bourgeois property. But in Russia we find, face to face with the rapidly developing capitalist swindle and bourgeois landed property, which is just beginning to develop, more than half the land owned in common by the peasants. Now the question is: Can the Russian obschina (village community), a form of primeval common ownership of land, even if greatly undermined, pass directly to the higher form of communist common ownership? Or must it, conversely, first pass through the same process of dissolution as constitutes the historical development of the West? The only possible answer is this: If the Russian revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that the two complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for communist development."
Marx, Karl And Frederick Engels, "Preface to the Second Russian Edition of the Manifesto of the Communist Party";’ in "Collected Works"; Volume 24; Moscow 1989; Written January 1882; p. 426.
    This view no doubt conditioned some of the later initial responses of the Bolshevik leaders including Lenin and Stalin. However, they as scientists, they would interpret dogma according to the concrete circumstances of the 1920’s. There is little doubt that Lenin endorsed these views of Marx and Engels. As Lenin identified it, the essential question was whether Russia had to go through a stage of capitalism or not? He pointed out that Marxism was no simple recipe, but that it provided a method by which to concretely analyse facts: "The question is whether Russia is tending to become a capitalist nation, whether the ruin of her peasants was the process of the creation of a capitalist system, of a capitalist proletariat; and Marx says that "if" she was so tending she would have to transform a good part of her peasants into proletarians… Marx’s theory is to investigate and explain the evolution of the economic system of certain countries and its "application" to Russia can be only the INVESTIGATION of Russian production relations and their evolution, EMPLOYING the established practices of the MATERIALIST method and of THEORETICAL political economy."
Lenin, Vladimir I; "What The Friends of The People Are";
"Collected Works"; Volume 1; Moscow 1977; Ibid; p. 266-267.
    This question had already it’s own long prior history. As seen, Marx and Engels were well aware of the central importance placed on the "mir" by the Russian socialists. Although they had relatively little respect for Herzen, they certainly respected Chernyshevsky. They therefore carefully considered his view. Although expressed only in private correspondence, they took the view that they could not know whether the Russian path would be through the "western" route (i.e. through first an un-trammeled capitalism to socialism) or whether the socialist step would come first. They said that it was possible that Chernyshevsky was right, that capitalism possibly could be avoided.

    In a letter from Marx to the Editorial board of "Otechestvessnie Zapiski", dated approximately October 1877, a letter that was never actually sent, and only then found by Engels after the death of Marx in his papers, Marx refers to this debate, and how Russian Narodniks were distorting his views. Engels later sent the letter to Vera Zasulich, when she asked his views on the matter of the mir (See letter to Zasulich from Engels; April 23 1885; See Selected Correspondence; Moscow; p.361-363).

    Marx had said this:

"I speak of a great Russian scholar and critic (Chernyshevsky) with the high consideration he deserves. In his remarkable articles this writer had dealt with the question whether, as her liberal economists maintain, Russia must begin by destroying the village community in order to pass to the capitalist regime, or whether, on the contrary, she can without experiencing the tortures of the regime appropriate all its fruits by developing the historical conditions specifically her own . . . . . I have arrived at this conclusion: If Russia continues to pursue the path she has followed since 1861, she will lose the finest chance ever offered by history to a people and undergo all the fatal vicissitudes of the capitalist regime."
Marx, Karl; "Letter to the editorial Board of the Otechestvenniye Zapiski"; In Marx Engels: "Marx & Engels: Selected Correspondence"; Moscow; 1975; p.292;
    The central point Marx and Engels both made, was that any such judgement on the actual path being followed, depends upon a concrete analysis of the actual conditions in the country being examined. They eschewed an abstractionist "theorizing" – favouring instead a political analysis grounded on facts. Lenin later made the same point, when the Narodniks tried to obfuscate the Marx’s carefully phrased reply to the editorial Board of Otechestvenniye Zapiski in 1877.

    Marx’s reply corrected the distortions in Mr. Mikhailovsky’s article entitled: "Karl Marx Before the Tribunal Of Mr.Y.Zhukovsky". The Narodnik journal had taken Marx’s "Capital", and argued Marx held these viewpoints, as a universal prescription of development. In his correction, Marx first briefly outlined his core historical materialist theory of development. He then rebutted the general distortion as follows:

"Now what application to Russia could my critic make of this historical sketch? Only this – if Russia is tending to become a capitalist nation after the example of the West-European countries- and during the last few years she has been taking a lot of trouble in this direction - she will not succeed without first having transformed a good part of her peasants into proletarians’ and after that, once taken to the bosom of the capitalist regime, she will experience its pitiless laws like any other profane peoples. That is all. But that is too little for my critic. He feels he absolutely must metamorphose my historical sketch of the genesis of capitalism in Western Europe into an historico-philosophic theory of the general path every people is fated to tread, whatever the historical circumstances in which it finds itself, in order that it may ultimately arrive at the form of economy which ensures, together with the greatest expansion of the productive powers of social labour, the most complete development of man. But I beg his pardon. He is both honoring and shaming me too much."
Karl Marx; "Marx ‘s Letter To Editorial Board Otechestvenniye Zapiski"; written late 1877"; Letter not sent by Marx; but found by Engels and made available to Zasulich who with "Emancipation of Labour" published it in Geneva in 1886; In "Pre-capitalist Socio Economic Formations’; Moscow 1979; p.273.
    Because of its failure in divorcing the socialist movement from both liberalism and anarchism (a typically petty bourgeois form of struggle), Lenin summarized this period of the Narodnaya Volya, as the era of the "bourgeois liberal epoch". This indicates that: "In the epoch of the raznochinsti or the bourgeois-liberal epoch (1884-90), the nobility were already a smaller group in the liberation movement. If however we add … the clergy and the merchants we get 49 %, i.e. almost a half. The movement still remains half a movement of the privileged classes- of the nobility and the top-level bourgeoisie, hence the importance of the movement, despite the heroism of the individuals."
Lenin Vladimir I; : "The Role of Social Estates And Classes In the Liberation Movement"; Collected Works; Volume 19; Moscow; 1968; Written August 1913; p. 329

Marx & Engels On The Russian Prospects of Revolution     From the above, it is apparent that Marx and Engels were extremely well informed about the position of the Russian movement and of Russian society in general. A bourgeois canard is still about that Marx and Engels "Got it wrong because they did not foresee that revolution would being FIRST in a backward country like Russia, and not in a fully developed capitalist country, like Britain or Germany."

    It is certainly true that early on in their writing, both Marx & Engels not only hoped for, but thought it most likely - that revolution would break out in countries where capitalism was fully developed. But by the middle, and especially the end of their lives and careers, they had both correctly predicted that the weak link was likely to be Russia:

"Apart from Germany and Austria the country on which we should focus our attention remains Russia., The government there, just as in this country is the chief ally of the movement. But a much better one that our Bismarck, Stieber and Tessendorf. The Russian court party, which is now firmly in the saddle, tries to take back all its concessions made during the years of the "new era" that was ushered in 1861, and with genuinely Russian methods at that. So now again, only "sons of the upper classes" are to be allowed to study, and in order to carry this policy out all others are made to fail in the graduation examinations. In 1873 alone this was the fate that awaited 24,000 young people whose entire careers were blocked, as they were expressly forbidden to become even elementary school-teachers. And yet people are suprised at the spread of "nihilism" in Russia. … It almost looks like the next dance is going to start in Russia. And if this happens while the inevitable war between the German-Prussian empire and Russia is in progress- which is very likely-repercussions in Germany are also inevitable." Written London October 15th, 1875; Engels, Frederick; "Letter to August Bebel in Leipzig; In: "Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence"; Moscow; 1982; p.282.     On the timing of the formation of the Second New International, Engels wanted to keep the powder dry until the battle began. Again – he believed that this battle would begin in Russia, and give the signal for the International’s "official" re-birth, in an action orientated and not theoretical manifestation: "We think that the time for … a new formally reorganised International would only call forth new persecution in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy and Spain… On the other hand the International actually continues to exist. There is a connection between the revolutionary workers in all countries, as far as that is feasible. Every socialist journal is an international center…. When the time for rallying of forces arrives it will therefore be a matter of but a moment and require no lengthy preparation… The names of the champions of the people in any country are well known in all the others and a manifesto signed and endorsed by all of them would create an immense impression… for that very reason such a demonstration must kept for the moment when it can have a decisive effect, i.e.; when events in Europe make it necessary. Otherwise the effect in the future will be spoiled and the whole thing will be only a shot in the air. Such events are however maturing in Russia where the vanguard of the battle will engage in battle. This and its inevitable impact on Germany is what one must in our opinion wait for., and then will also come the time for a grand demonstration and the establishment of an official, formal International which however can no longer be a propaganda society but only a society for action".
Written London February 10th, 1882; Engels, Frederick; "Letter to Johann Phillip Becker in Geneva; In: "Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence"; Moscow; 1982; p.328-329.
    But perhaps the best illustration again comes from correspondence with Vera Zasulich, this time in a response from Engels. Engels clearly displays an exuberant optimism in the Russian revolution. Now it may be true that he was some 20 years too early. But after all, he had clearly identified the motive forces of the "Old Mole" in Russia. He even made clear that so serious was the situation in Russia, that in a "certain" sense this might be a relatively unique situation – one where some degree of Blanquist theory might be relevant. "I am proud to know that there is a party among the youth of Russia which frankly and without equivocation accepts the great economic and historical theories of Marx and has definitely broken with all the anarchist and also the few existing Slavophil tendencies of its predecessors…. What I know or believe I know about the situation in Russia makes me think that the Russians are fast approaching their 1789. The revolution must break out any day. In these circumstances the country is like a charged mine which only needs a single match to be applied to it. Especially since March 13 (Editor- the assassination of Tsar Alexander 3rd) This is one of the exceptional cases where it is possible for handful of people to make a revolution, i.e., by giving a small impetus to cause a whole system (to use a metaphor of Plekhanov’s) is in more than labile equilibrium, to come crashing down, and by an action insignificant of itself to release explosive forces that afterwards becomes uncontrollable. Well, if ever Blanquism – the fantastic idea of overturning an entire society by the action of a small group of conspirators – had a certain raison d’être, that is certainly so now in St.Petersburg. Once the spark has been put to the powder… the people who laid the spark to the mine will be swept along by the explosion …. Suppose these people imagine they can seize power, what harm does it do? .. To me the important thing is the impulse in Russia should be given, that the revolution should break out. Whether this or that faction gives the signal, whether it happens under this flag or that is a matter of complete indifference to me. If it were a palace conspiracy it would be swept away tomorrow. In a country where the situation is so strained, where the revolutionary elements have accumulated to such a degree, where the economic conditions of the people become daily more impossible, where every stage of social development is represented, from the primitive commune to the modern large scale industry and high finance, where all these contradictions are arbitrarily held in check by an unexampled despotism, a despotism which is becoming more and more unbearable to the a youth in whom the dignity and intelligence of such a nation are united-when 1789 has once been launched in such a country, 1793 will not be far away." Written London April 23 1885;
Engels, Frederick; "Letter to Vera Ivanovna Zasulich in Geneva"; In: "Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence"; Moscow; 1982; pp.361-363.
    Lenin made a particular study of the views of Marx and Engels upon Russia. Here are some notes in his famous encyclopaedic "Notebooks on Imperialism" – and are drawn from two articles of Engels. A Postscript to the Engels article "On Social Relations In Russia" (1894) - ends with this: "It - the revolution in Russia – will not only rescue the great mass of the nation, the peasants, from the isolation of their villages, which constitute their ‘mir’, their world, and lead them to the big stage, where they will get to know the outside world and thereby themselves, their own position and the means of salvation from their present state of want, but it will also give a new impetus and new, better conditions of struggle for the workers’ movement of the West, and hasten the victory of the modern industrial proletariat, with out which present day Russia cannot find her way, whether through the village commune or through capitalism, to a socialist transformation of society."
Lenin, Vladimir.I ; "Notes on Engels’ ‘On Social relations In Russia’; Cited Lenin; "Collected Works"; ‘Notebooks on Imperialism’; Volume 39; Moscow; 1968; p.506.

"VI. The internal situation of Russia is "almost desperate"… "This European China" (21)… the ruin of the peasants after 1861… "This path of (of economic & social revolution = capitalism-in Russia) "is for the time being predominantly a destructive path" (21). Impoverishment of the soil, deforestation etc; in Russia. Russia’s credit falling. "It is not France that needs Russia, but rather Russia that needs France… If she had a little sense France could obtain from France whatever she liked. Instead, France crawls on her belly before the tsar.. (23). Russia lives by exporting rye-mainly to Germany. "As soon as Germany begins to eat white bread instead of black, the represent official Tsarist and big-bourgeois Russia will at once be bankrupt".
Lenin’s Notes on Engels’ article: Cited Lenin; "Collected Works"; ‘Notebooks on Imperialism’; Volume 39; Moscow; 1968; "Can Europe Disarm?" pp.501-502.

    And it was necessary for Lenin in other places, to point out in contrast to those who argued in 1905, that the Bolsheviks should not harbor "Jacobin" prospects for the 1905 revolution, that Marx and Engels had argued otherwise: "Take Marx’s letter of September 27 1877. He is quite enthusiastic about the Eastern crisis: "Russia has long been standing on the threshold of an upheaval, all the elements of it are prepared……. The gallant Turks have hastened the explosion by years with the thrashing they have inflicted…. The upheaval will begin secundum artem (according to the rules of the art) with some playing at constitutionalism et puis il ya aura un beau taupage (and then there will be a fine row). If Mother Nature is not particularly unfavorable to us, we shall yet live to see the fun!" (Marx was then fifty-nine years)." Lenin, Vladimir.I.; "Preface to The Russian Translation of Letters By Johanne Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Marl Marx and others to Friedrich Sorge and Others"; (April 1907); In Collected Works"; Volume 12; Moscow; 1962; p.376.

"Or take Marx’s letter of November 5th 1880. He was delighted with the success of Capital in Russia, and took the parts of the members of the Narodnaya Volya organization against the newly arisen General Redistribution Group. Marx correctly perceived the anarchistic elements in their views. Not knowing the future evolution of the General-Redistribution Narodniks into Social-Democrats, Marx attacked them with all his trenchant sarcasm:

"These gentlemen are against all political-revolutionary action. Russia is to make a somersault into the anarchist-communist-atheist millenium! Meanwhile, they are preparing for this leap with the most tedious doctrinarism, whose so-called "principes cournat la rue depuis le feu Bakounine". We can gather from this how Marx would have appreciated the significance for Russia of 1905 and the succeeding years of Social-Democracy’s "political-revolutionary" action".
Lenin V.I: "Preface to The Russian Translation of Letters By Johanne Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Marl Marx and others to Friedrich Sorge and Others"; (April 1907); In Collected Works"; Volume 12; Moscow; 1962; p.376.

"There is a letter by Engels dated April 6th 1887: "On the other hand it seems as if a crisis is impending in Russia. The recent attentates rather upset the apple cart. "The army is full of discontented conspiring officers (Lenin adds: Engels at that time was impressed by the revolutionary struggle of the Narodnaya Volya organization; he set his hopes on the officers and did not yet see the revolutionary spirit of the Russian soldiers and sailors, which was manifested so magnificently eighteen years later..) I do not think things will last another year; and once it (the revolution breaks out in Russia, then hurrah!" A letter of April 23 1887: "in Germany there is persecution after persecution of socialist. It looks as if Bismarck wants to have everything ready so that the moment the revolution breaks out in Russia, which is now only a question of months, Germany could immediately follow her example."
Lenin V.I: "Preface to The Russian Translation of Letters By Johanne Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Marl Marx and others to Friedrich Sorge and Others"; (April 1907); In Collected Works"; Volume 12; Moscow; 1962; p.377.

"Yes Marx and Engels made many and frequent mistakes in determining the proximity of revolution in their hopes in the victory of revolution (e.g. in 1848 in Germany), in their faith in the imminence of a German "republic" (to die for the republic" wrote Engels of that period recalling his sentiments as a participant in the military campaign for a Reich constitution in 1848-9)…..But such errors – the errors of the giant of revolutionary thought , who sought to raise, and did raise, the proletariat of the whole world above the level of petty commonplace and trivial tasks- are a thousand times more noble and magnificent and historically more valuable and true than the trite wisdom of official liberalism, which lauds, shouts, appeals and holds forth about the vanity of revolutionary vanities, the futility of the revolutionary struggle and the charms of the counter-revolutionary "constitutional" fantasies."
Lenin V.I: "Preface to The Russian Translation of Letters By Johanne Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Marl Marx and others to Friedrich Sorge and Others"; (April 1907); In Collected Works"; Volume 12; Moscow; 1962; p.377-378.

    There is therefore no justification for the view that Marx and Engels got it wrong by not foreseeing the Russian revolution.

Plekhanov and his Struggle against Narodism, The First Marxist Grouping In Russia As sketched above, in Russia the earliest harbingers of the new era of socialism were the Narodniks (From the word "narod" = the people). But finally a Marxist grouping, (Gruppa Osvobozhdenie Truda, "Emancipation of Labour"), was established in 1883, by Georgii Valentin Plekhanov (1856-1917) "Prior to the appearance of the Marxist groups revolutionary work in Russia was carried on by the Narodniks (populists) who were opponents of Marxism. The first Russian Marxist group arose in 1883. This was the "Emancipation of Labour" group formed by G.V.Plekhanov abroad in Geneva, where he had been obliged to take refuge from the persecution of the Tsarist government for his revolutionary activities."
"History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)- Short Course"; edited by a commission of the CC of the CPSU (B); Foreign Languages Publishing House; Moscow; 1939; p.8.
    Plekhanov had been himself a Narodnik once, but his experience of the Narodniks, and the writings of Marx and Engels had convinced him of the need for a revolutionary change based upon the proletariat and not the peasantry. The Narodniks never understood this need: "But the leading role of the working class was not understood by the Narodniks. The Russian Narodniks erroneously held that the principal revolutionary force was not the working class but the peasantry and that the rule of the tsar and the landlords could be overthrown by means of peasant revolts alone. The Narodniks did not know the working class…… The Narodniks first endeavored to rouse the peasants for a struggle against the Tsarist government. With this purpose in view, young revolutionary intellectuals donned peasant garb and flocked to the countryside - "to the people" as it used to e called. . . . A secret Narodnik society known as "Narodnaya Volya ("Peoples' Will") began to plot the assassination of the tsar.. . . . .. The method of combating tsardom chosen by the Narodniks namely by the assassination of individuals , by individual terrorism was wrong and detrimental to the revolution. The policy of individual terrorism was based on the erroneous Narodnik theory of active "heroes" and a passive "mob", which awaited exploits from the heroes".
"Short History of the CPSU(B); Ibid; p. 10.
    The Narodniks based themselves upon a conception of the peasant commune, the mir, that they considered the fundamental aspect of Socialism. But irrespective of the views of the petit bourgeois Narodniks, both the working class and its nemesis capitalism, was both growing. The working class was beginning to organize itself.

    So by the seventies and the eighties, significant strikes of factory workers took place (Short History Ibid; pp 6-9). The first workers organization in Russia was the South Russian Workers' Union of Odessa, formed in 1875. Although Tsarist police broke it up within nine months, others followed it. In 1885, a key strike occurred in the Morozo Mill in Orekhovo-Zuevo involving 8,0000 workers. Armed state force suppressed the strike, and taught the workers the need for organised struggle. This new reality forced itself on the progressive movement.

    Plekhanov a member of the Narodniks, broke with them over their adoption of terrorist tactics. The split in the Zemlia I Volia at the Vonronezh conference in 1879, where the majority adopted an individual terrorist line, left Plekhanov no choice but to set up in opposition, the Chernyi Peredel (The General Redivision, or Redistribution). But a bare three months after its formation came its death under the pressure of Tsarist police raids.

    Plekhanov escaped abroad to exile in Geneva, in 1880, along with Vera Zasulich and Lev Deutsch, and Pavel Axelrod. Although Peredel placed a primacy upon the factory workers, it was only later that Plekhanov would come to a full Marxism. Now, he intensely studied Marx, and came to the understanding that the proletariat and not the peasantry was the fulcrum of the socialist revolution. In this he was assisted by a statistical work by Orlov, entitled "Communal Property in the Moscow District" (See Samuel Baron; "Plekhanov"; Stanford 1963; p.55). Orlov’s figures provided irrefutable proof that the commune was dying – just as Marx and Engels had predicted the encroachment of capitalism was inexorable. Alongside this, the rich section of the peasantry was exploiting the poorer section. In Geneva, he formed the "Emancipation of Labour" group.

"Prior to the appearance of the Marxist groups revolutionary work in Russia was carried out by the Narodniks (Populists) who were opponents of Marxism. The first Russian Marxist group arose in 1883. This was the "Emancipation of Labor" group formed by G.V.Plekhanov abroad in Geneva, where he had been obliged to take refuge form the persecutions of the Tsarist government for his revolutionary activities. Previously Plekhanov had been himself a Narodnik. But having studied Marxism while abroad, he broke with Narodism and became an outstanding propagandist of Marxism."
"A Short History"; Ibid; p.8.
    What this meant was related to the same underlying question of the route for Russian revolution. As Vera Zasulich put it in another letter to Marx in 1881: "If . . . the commune is fated to perish, the socialist has no alternative but to devote himself to more or less ill-founded calculations, in order to find out in how many decades the land of the Russian peasant will pass from his hands into those of the bourgeoisie and in how many centuries Russian capitalism will perhaps attain a development similar to that in Western Europe";
Cited Baron; "Plekhanov"; Ibid; p. 73.
    It was finally, only while preparing Marx and Engels’ "Communist Manifesto" for translation into Russian in 1882, that Plekhanov finally came to understanding that : "In Russian history there are no essential differences from the history of Western Europe..’ He was now ready to make of Marx’s Das Kapital a "Procrustean bed" for Russia’s revolutionary leaders".
Cited Baron "Plekhanov" Ibid; p.77.
    Plekhanov went on to write some key works, of which Lenin said it was "essential" for Marxists to study carefully. Plekhanov first however tried to pay accounts with Narodnik politics. On the basis of data from V.E.Postnikov, he established the penetration of capitalism into Russia’s countryside. Plekhanov also showed that the Reforms of Alexander had driven towards capitalist’s development. This, and Pavel Axelrod’s insistence, pointed him towards the formation of a Russian workers party (See Robert Service, "Lenin: A Political Life, Volume 1"; London 1985; p.42) and the "Emancipation of Labour" group published the émigré journal "Social-Democrat".

    But this group was quite isolated, and rather aloof from the daily struggle. In a rather ‘intellectual’ approach they would often begin from a "theoretically correct" Marxist position, deriving what their position "should be". As will be seen, this had limitations, and was in contrast to both Marx and Engels’s own approach, and that of Lenin. We see this when we discuss Lenin’s first major theoretical foray – "Who the "friends of The People" are".

    Despite the most pressing poverty and miserable travails, the group had little impact for many years. But they did eventually provide the continuity to the break throughs that were later to be made by Lenin. By 1885, Plekhanov’s "Our Differences" finally made headway in the Narodniks against whom it had been aimed. (Baron ‘Plekhanov" Ibid; p. 136). In this climate, a new generation of progressives was won over by Marxism, as represented by the Plekhanov Emancipation of Labour writings. These included the so-called "Legal Marxists" such as Petr Struve, and such as Iurri Martov and A.N.Potresov. Lastly, Lenin was amongst those influenced by Plekhanov.

    In the midst of this ideological rout, some die-hard Narodniks were even reduced to negotiating with the tsarist authorities, to relieve the 1891 famine effects, in the countryside, and to preserve the mir (Baron, "Plekhanov"; Ibid; p. 144). This latter flurry of Narodnik activity prompted Plekhanov to respond with another theoretical explanation of Marxism. In a major broadside against the Narodniks, Plekhanov published his masterpiece "On the Question of the Development of the Monistic View of History," under the pseudonym Bel’tov in 1894. He had already written to Frederick Engels:

"You see that if in Marx’s time, the Russian revolutionaries could draw a certain energy from the idea that Russia would bypass capitalism, in our time this idea is a dangerous utopia. Now it is indispensable to fight it".
Cited Baron, "Plekhanov"; Ibid; p. 145.
    This work created a storm, and it assisted the study circles ("kruzhkovschina" to develop Marxist roots. In May 1895, Lenin made contact with the Emancipation of Labour group. By 1887, the group’s second programme allowed for the foundation of the programme of Social Democracy in Russia.

    Using Lenin’s classification of Russian progressive movements, this period directly led to the epochs he called "of the peasant and the proletarian democrats":

"The third (1903-03) and fourth (1905-08) epochs are those of the peasant and proletarian democrats. The role of the nobility is a very small one. The urban petty bourgeois and the peasantry make up eight-tenths of the wholes before the revolution and nine-tenths during the revolution. The masses have awakened. Hence the two results: 1) The possibility of obtaining something of a serious nature and (2) the liberals hatred of the movement (the appearance of counter-revolutionary liberalism)."
Vladimir I Lenin: "The Role of Social Estates And Classes In the Liberation Movement"; Collected Works; Volume 19; Moscow; 1968; Written August 1913; p. 329.
    It was in this epoch that the major development of the forces of the working class took place. Steadily the growth of the proletariat made the prior discussions of the relevance of the preservation of the ‘mir’ an irrelevance. The new class had developed, it was still small but its significance out-weighed its smaller size. A progressive resolution would have to be found that could account for this new Russian class. As the "Short History" put it, Lenin showed that five-sixths of the population were still peasant based: "In his celebrated work, "The Development of Capitalism in Russia", Lenin cited significant figures from the general census of the population of 1897 which showed that about five-sixths of the total population were engaged in agriculture and only one-sixth of the total population were engaged in large and small scale industry, trade, on the railways and waterways, in building works, lumbering and so on. This shows that although capitalism was developing in Russia, she was still an agrarian, economically backward country, a petty-bourgeois country, that a country in which low-productive individual peasant farming based on small owners still predominated."
"Short History of the CPSU(B)"; Ibid; p.5.

Vladimir Illyich Lenin’s Early Political Development     As we have seen, Plekhanov drew away from Narodism to Marxism. During this phase he attracted the best of the Russian progressive youth. Among these was Vladimir Illicit Lenin. Lenin was born in 1870, in Simbirsk (later known as Ulyanovsk), the son of a school inspector and a doctor’s daughter. The family was ranked in the Table of Ranks as minor nobles, at the rank of "general". As late as 1900 when he ended his Siberian term of exile, Lenin signed himself as "hereditary nobleman Vladimir Ulyanov", in order to allow his wife Nadezda Krupskaya leave to forgo her further exile in Siberia (Volkogonov, Dimitri; "Lenin"; New York; 1994; p.6).

    His father died in 1886. A mere year later, his elder brother Alexander was arrested because of his involvement with the Narodnik plot of assassination of the Tsar Alexander III. But Alexander refused to plead for his own clemency, and was hung in 1887. Alexander Ulyanov was of Narodnik persuasion, but had already himself studied Marx and "Capital", and he had named Russian Marxists as "comrades" while writing a new draft programme for People’s Freedom in 1887 ( Robert Service; "Lenin: A Political Life Volume 1" Ibid; p. 39). Naturally, all this had a profound effect on Lenin, who began to actively study politics. The earliest political intellectual influences on him were Chernyshevsky and Plekhanov.

    Although he entered Kazan University in 1887, Lenin was quickly arrested and expelled for his activity in demonstrations. Naturally the fact that he was the brother of the executed Narodnik Alexander Ulyanov was a factor. He was banished from university to the family estate in Kokushino, but still continued to court police attention, and made contact with the group of M.P.Chetvergova. In order to protect him, his mother moved the family moved to newly purchased estates near Samara, and merely a few months later Chetvergova and her group was arrested. His mother later sold these estates. In these years, Lenin was twice denied permission to go overseas; and he began to organise workers circles in Kazan. Many of these groups were arrested in July 1889.

    In May 1890 he was allowed to sit for Law final examinations as an external student at St.Petersburg. In 1892 he received First Class Honours graduation form St Petersburg University, and in July he was granted rights to practice law. But he practiced law only briefly, first in Samara, and then in St. Petersburg.

    While still in Samara, Lenin continued to contact revolutionaries, and when associated with the group around A.P.Sklyarenko he established himself as the group’s polemicist. He organised youth circles, and h now translated "The Communist Manifesto" of Marx and Engels for illegal use in Samara.

    By 1892-1893, he was a fully-fledged Marxist who had overcome his prior attachments to Narodnaya Volga, and its adherents known as the Narodovolets . Since his brother had been executed for his revolutionary affiliations with this organisation, Lenin had made a close and difficult study of this movement. Krupskaya, in her work "Reminiscences of Lenin", commented that a passage in the later seminal work, "What Is To be Done" (1902) was a part of Lenin’s own personal history:

"Vladimir Illyich spent two days in Ufa, … All I remember of those two days was our visit to Chetvergova, an old Narodovolets, whom Vladimir Illyich had known in Kazan. She had a bookshop in Ufa. Vladimir Illyich went to see her the very first day, and there was a peculiar gentleness in his voice and face when he spoke to her. When, later, I read what Vladimir Illyich had written at the end of his What Is To Be Done? I recalled that visit.
"Many of them" (meaning the young Social-Democrat leaders of the workers' Movement of whom Vladimir Illyich wrote in "What Is To Be Done?")
"Began their revolutionary thinking as adherents of Narodnaya Volya. Nearly all of them in their early youth enthusiastically worshipped the terrorist heroes. It required a struggle to abandon the captivating impressions of these heroic traditions, and it was accompanied by the break of personal relations with people who were determined to remain loyal to the Narodnaya Volya and for whom the young Social-Democrats had profound respect."
This passage is a piece of Vladimir Illyich's own biography."
    He started reading Marx and Capital avidly in 1889. A N.E.Fedoseev into reading more systematically influenced Lenin. By 1893 he had written his first critique of Narodism entitled "New Economic Developments in Peasant Life", that used the statistics on Zemstov farming accumulated by V.Y.Postnikov. Although not printed, it was preparatory to his more definitive later works. In these early writings up to even as late as 1895, Lenin was still only 25. Yet he had already grasped with a genius, the core of Russian social needs. He was moreover already surpassing Plekhanov, in understanding the real data of daily life.

    After all Plekhanov had used the same data of Postnikov. But Lenin was able to interpret the data more fully. He showed that if the raw data was reorganised, according to land holding by acreage, the peasant households that were larger were revealed to have a higher agricultural productivity (see Vladimir I Lenin "New Economic Developments in Peasant Life"; Volume 1; Collected Works; Moscow; 1977; pp 42-69; or at ). This corroborated the intensification of the class division in the countryside, an intensification that the Narodniks denied was taking place.

    In August 1893, Lenin came to St.Petersburg and by the autumn was part of a Marxist study group of Technological Institute leaders around S.I.Radchenko. A group of the Brusnev circle had already been arrested in St.Petersburg in 1892. This kruzhki remained open however. Lenin now established links with progressives in the factories (V.A.Shelgunov I.V.Babushkin), and effectively and quickly become recognized as the leader of the St.Petersburg Marxists. He and Babushkin together wrote and distributed the very first Russian Marxist leaflet to workers – to the Semyabnbikov factory – in December 1894.

    In 1895 he was imprisoned and there he wrote a draft programme for the Social Democrats which has not survived. Lenin’s second critique of Narodism, was also written in 1893, and it was "The Question of Markets". It was also not printed until later, but it was circulated in hand written forms. In it, Lenin reproduces a mechanistic diagram, from a Narodnik author, consisting of two spheres labeled as one of the capitalists, and one of the "direct producers". Here the world of the capitalist was depicted as divorced from the world of the workers. Lenin pointedly said of this idealistic and mechanical view, that it was a typical example of the Narodnik failure to grasp the reality of the world:

"The only thing we can agree with . . .is that this is complete accordance with the Narodnik view. . . The "current conception" always regarded capitalism in our country as something isolated from the "people’s system", standing apart from it, exactly as depicted in the diagram from which it is quite impossible to see what connection there is between the two "spheres", the capitalist sphere and the peoples’ sphere."
Lenin, Vladimir I; "On the So Called Market Question"; Volume 1; Moscow 1960; p.91.
    The heart of the article was a refutation of the Narodnik views regarding the alleged "impossibility of capitalist development in Russia". Having seen an increasing number of progressives adopting Marxism, the Narodniks attempted to "prove" that the Marxist route was blocked for Russia. They still used their previous argument upon the immorality of allowing the impoverishment of the peasantry. But they also now utilized a new "theoretical argument". The Narodniks asserted that capitalism could not develop in Russia, because the poverty of the people prevented a market developing: "Can capitalism develop in Russia and reach full development when the masses of the people are poor and are becoming still poorer? The development of capitalism certainly needs an extensive home market; but the ruin of the peasantry undermines this market, threatens to close it altogether and make the organization of the capitalist order impossible. True it is said, that by transforming the natural economy of our direct producers into a commodity economy, capitalism is creating a market for itself but is it conceivable that the miserable remnants of indigent peasants can form the basis for the development in our country of the mighty capitalist production that we see in the West? Is it not evident that the one fact of the masses being impoverished already makes our capitalism something impotent and without foundation, incapable of embracing the entire production of the country and of becoming the basis of our social economy? Such are the questions that are constantly being advanced in our literature in opposition to the Russian Marxists."
Vladimir I Lenin, "On the So Called Market Question"; Volume 1; Moscow 1960; p. 79.
    Against these ill-founded views, Lenin demonstrated first empirically in a table, that as specialisation of labor occurred, production expands and an inevitable rise of competition leads to the concentration of productive forces. Having showed it in a theoretical form, he had to now show this had happened in practice in Russia. Using data from published sources, he did show that market development was indeed related to the social division of labour and commodity production. This in turn had led in Russia to the development of an ever-growing market based on the specialisation of productive forces. Lenin charged the Narodnik fear of the "limits" of the Russian market, as being the naive parroting of the capitalists’ predatory wish for more markets.  Since the "pivot of the table" referred to above, was: "The transition from commodity to capitalist economy, the differentiation of the commodity producers into capitalist and proletarians",
Vladimir I Lenin, "On the So Called Market Question"; Ibid; p. 108
    It was necessary for Lenin to show that this differentiation had and was occurring on the ground. This was easy for him to show, using the data readily available. Indeed he noted that the peasants themselves used the word "de-peasantising", in order to describe the process: "If we turn to the phenomena of the contemporary social economy of Russia we shall see that the foremost of them is precisely the differentiation of our small producers. If we take the peasant agriculturists, we shall find that on the one hand, masses of peasants are giving up the land, losing economic independence, turning into proletarians, and on the other hand, peasants are continually enlarging their crop areas and adopting improved farming methods. On the one hand peasants are losing farm property (livestock and implements) and on the other hand peasants are acquiring improved implements, are beginning to procure machines and so forth (Citing VV, ‘Progressive Trends in Peasant Farming"). On the one hand peasants are giving up the land or selling or leasing their allotments, and on the other hand peasants are renting allotments are greedily buying privately-owned land. All these are commonly known facts (The peasants themselves very aptly call the process "de-peasantising" (See Agricultural Survey of Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia for 1829, Nizhni-Novgorod, 1893, Volume III pp.186-87). . . the only explanation of which lies in the laws of commodity economy which splits our "community" peasants, too, into a bourgeoisie and a proletariat. If we take the village handicraftsmen. .. . not only have new industries emerged and the old ones developed more rapidly, but in addition the mass of handicraftsmen have been growing poorer and poorer sinking into dire poverty and losing economic independence, while an insignificant minority have been growing rich at the expense of that masses, accumulating vast amounts of capitals, and turning into buyers-up, monopolizing the market, and in the overwhelming majority of our handicraft industries, have in the end, organized a completely capitalist domestic system of large-scale production."
Vladimir I Lenin, "On the So Called Market Question"; Ibid; p. 108-109.
    In this article, Lenin again transcended Plekhanov and took further the Emancipation of Labor’s pioneer steps in applying Marxism in Russia. But although Lenin had begun to pay off Narodism, it was not until 1894 that Lenin’s fuller and systematic critique of Narodism was complete.


Lenin's Attacks on The Narodniks - "What the ‘Friends of The People’
    Lenin had begun his attacks on the Narodniks from a close scrutiny of the real developments in the Russian countryside. Having arrived at the central question of the relations between the workers and the peasants, Lenin's work was now to bring his understanding to the practical plane of the movement.
    Lenin first did this in a work called "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats (A Reply to Articles in Russkoye Bogatstvo Opposing the Marxists)". In this work, the full breadth of Lenin’s revolutionary vision, of how Marxism was to be practically applied to the Russian reality, became clear to the workers and progressive movement. Krupsakaya described it as:

"Thrilling us all. . . (and) hectographed copies of it circulated from hand to hand under the name of "The yellow Books". They were unsigned, Fairly widely read, they undoubtedly had a strong influence on the Marxist youth at the time";
Krupaskaya, Nadezhda S; "Reminiscences of Lenin", Moscow; 1959; p.15.
    Together the works had an enormous impact upon the movement in Russia. The first article took the form of a rebuttal to one Mr. M.N.Mikhailovsky’s attacks upon Marx and his Russian followers. This article marked a boundary, one in which much of Lenin’s later work was anticipated. It should be remembered that Lenin wrote this, just before he was to meet Plekhanov.

    Although Lenin buildt on  points already made by Plekhanov, he was going beyond him. Although the Plekhanov had recognised the penetration of capital, and the entry of the class struggle into the countryside, Lenin was now repeating them on the basis of a deeper interpretation of the data. Moreover, Lenin transcended Plekhanov in calling for political organisational forms that could implement a Marxist programme. In this latter point, Lenin was especially novel in the Russian progressive movement.

    Lenin ‘s fundamental points, in this work are summarised below.

    1) Lenin Insists Upon the Primacy of Data Upon Russian path – not abstract theory:

    Everywhere in this early work, Lenin insists that the Marxist method entail finding a path forward from a concrete reality, from data analysis. He expressly pointed out repeatedly that this applied to the question as to whether Russia was ‘ordained" to enter the capitalist path of development.
    The Narodniks had asserted that the Marxist method consisted of mechanically applying the "Hegelian Triad" in reasoning. Lenin argued that Engels had already shown this fallacy in his polemics with Eugene Duhring. Even more, Lenin showed in practice that this was untrue. Because to buttress his analysis, Lenin unleashed a torrent of data to show that indeed capitalism had arrived in Russia. Some of this data has already been discussed. More was provided in this work. Moreover as Lenin said, allying himself clearly with Plekhanov, the Narodniks had posed the question in an incorrect manner. The Marxists need only respond by simply pointing out the reality of life:

"No Marxist has ever argued anywhere that there "must be" capitalism in Russia "because" there was capitalism in the West and so forth. No Marxist has ever regarded Marx’s theory as some universally compulsory philosophical scheme. . Plekhanov… (Asked): "Must Russia pass through the capitalist path of development?". . . And how did Plekhanov answer it? In the only way a Marxist could. He left aside entirely the question of the "must" as being an idle one . . . And that is why gave no direct answer to this wrongly formulated question, but instead replied: "Russia has entered the capitalist path."
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Collected Works; Volume 1; Moscow 1977; p.192-4.
There was a painful reality that the Narodniks were simply ignoring, for the benefit of their own theories: "Or to put it plainly, there is no exploitation of the mass of the people by a handful of capitalists, there is no ruin of the vast majority of the population and the enrichment of the few? The Muzhik has still to be separated from the land? But what is the entire post-Reform history of Russia if not the whole scale expropriation of the peasantry, proceeding with unparalleled intensity?"
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Ibid; p. 195; or at:
It was the Narodniks who erected an unreal shibboleth: "Listen to what comes next: "Our task is not to rear out of our own national depths, a civilisation that is positively ‘original’; but neither is it to transplant Western civilisation to our own country in toto; together with all the contradictions that are tearing it apart; we must take what is good from whatever we can";
Cited by Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Ibid; p. 188. or at:
    In making this point, Lenin was following Marx and Engels. Lenin’s insistence on the use of real data marked him out as the most practical and thorough of the followers of Marx in Russia. This would later mark Lenin out from Plekhanov, who could not follow Lenin into the application of Marxist principles. It is why Lenin - and not Plekhanov - could later write "The Development of Capitalism in Russia", a work that breathed fire into dusty statistics of the development of industry.

    In showing the need for real data, Lenin emphasized that Marx’s own views on the Russian mir should not be mis-represented. As discussed above, owing to Marx’s high esteem for Chernyshevsky, Marx allowed there was a possible different development path in Russia, from Western Europe. But, only if the data would indicate this to be possible. This was mis-used by the Narodniks to suggest that Marx had believed in a different path for Russia. As Lenin pointed out in correction of the Narodnik distortion of Marx:

"What Marx actually said was this: "And my honorable critic (i.e. N.K.Mikhailovsky-Editor) would have had at least as much reason for inferring from my esteem for this ‘great Russian scholar and critic’ (i.e. Chernyshevsky-Editor) that I shared his views on the question, as for concluding from my polemic against the Russian literary man’ and Pan-Slavist that I rejected them". . This reply very clearly shows that Marx avoided answering the question as such, avoided examining Russian data, which alone could answer the question: "If Russia " he replied, "is tending to became a capitalist nation on the pattern of the West European countries- and during the last yeas she has been taking much trouble in this respect- she will not succeed without first having transformed a good part of her peasants into proletarians." . . . In other words, Marx’s theory is to investigate and explain the revolution of the economic system of certain countries and its "application" to Russia can be only the INVESTIGATION of Russian production relations and their evolution, EMPLOYING the established practice of the MATERIALIST method and of THEORETICAL political economy";
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Ibid; p. 266-267 or at:

2) Class Division of the peasantry was rapidly taking place

    The de facto division of the peasantry into an impoverished force and a richer force, was linked to both taking part in commodity production. Therefore both were thereby a part of capitalist development; and inexorably there ensued a differentiation in the countryside. This Lenin was able to illustrate from several sources of detailed statistical analysis of the Zemstov. The process of splitting in the peasantry, had led to the conclusion of a "complete differentiation": "It is quite clear that what we have here is a process of the complete differentiation of the small producers, the upper groups of which are being turned into a bourgeoisie, the lower into a proletariat";
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Ibid; p.223; or at:

"The system of commodity economy stands out distinctly as the main background of the economic life of the country in general and of the "community" "peasantry" in particular; the fact also stands out that this commodity economy, and it alone, is splitting the "people" and the "peasantry’ into a proletariat (they become ruined, enter the ranks of the farm laborers - and a bourgeoisie (blood suckers) i.e. it is turning into capitalist economy."
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Ibid; p.230; or at:

3) That domestic industrial development was equal to capitalist development;

"It goes without saying that the domestic system of large-scale production is a capitalist form of industry: here we all have all its features- the concentration of the means of production in the hands of individuals and the expropriation of the mass of workers, who have no means of production of their own and therefore apply their labor to those of others, working not for themselves but for the capitalist. Obviously in its organisation, handicraft industry is pure capitalism it differs from large-scale machine industry in being technically backward (chiefly because of the preposterously low wages) and in the fact that the workers retain diminutive farms. This latter circumstance confuses the ‘friends of the people’. . . If the workers have no land- there is capitalism; if they have land-there is no capitalism . . .. They do not know that capitalism, while still at a comparatively low level of development, was nowhere able to completely separate the worker form the land. For Western Europe Marx established the law that only large-scale machine industry expropriates the worker once and for all. As to large scale machine industry in Russia – and this form is being rapidly assumed by the biggest and most important branches of our industry…. It possesses the same property as everywhere in the capitalist West- namely it absolutely will not tolerate the retention of the workers’ tie with the land."
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Ibid; p.209-210; or at:

At one time this was a fairly being process, but rapidly this "dream" became very sour: "The point is that the transition from the feudal to the capitalist mode of production in Russia gave rise , and to some extent still gives rise , to a situation for the working people in which the peasant, being unable to obtain a livelihood from the land and to pay dues from it to the landlord (and he pays them to this very day), was compelled to resort to "outside employments", which at first in the good old days, took the form of either independent occupations (e.g. carting, or labor which was not independent, but, owing to the poor development of these types of employment was comparatively well paid. . . This dream has long since ceased to exist, has long been destroyed by capitalism, which has given rise to the wholesale expropriation of the peasant farmers and turned the former "employments" into the unbridled exploitation of abundantly offered "hands"."
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; p.242; or at:   "In his pamphlet "The Housing Question" Engels speaks of German industry and points out that in not other country- he is referring to Western Europe- does there exist so many wage-workers who own a garden or a plot of land. "Rural domestic industry carried on in conjunction with kitchen-gardening or.. . . agriculture, " he says; " Forms the broad basis of Germany’s new large-scale industry". This industry grows increasingly as is the case with Russia let us add) but the COMBINATION of industry with agriculture is the basis not of the WELL-BEING of the domestic producer, the handicraftsman, but on the contrary, of his greater OPPRESSION. Being tied to his locality, he is compelled to accept any price, and therefore surrenders to the capitalist not only surplus-value but a large part of his wages as well (as is the case in Russia with her cast development of large-scale production)."
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; p.317; or at: 4) The Objective Position of the Later Narodniks Was ‘Liberal’
    Lenin explained that there was a difference between the older generation of Narodniks, and their descendants. He pointed out that the Narodniks had become shallow pro-liberal bourgeois apologists. The Narodniks had originally had a "well-knit theory" that started from the "communist instincts", and they had taken this in two directions: One theoretical and one a practical direction. The theoretical path had drowned in details, in the absence of adequate methods: "When it first arose Narodism, in its original form, was a fairly well knit theory: Starting from the view of a specific way of life of the people, it believed in the communist instincts of the "communal" peasant and for that reason regarded the peasant as a natural fighter for socialism. But it lacked theoretical elaboration and confirmation in the facts of Russian life, on the one hand, and experience in applying a political programme . . . . . The development of the theory therefore developed along the two lines theoretical and practical, The theoretical work was directed mainly towards studying that form of landownership in which they wanted to see the rudiments of communism. . . But this material. . . . completely obscured the economics of the countryside from the investigators eyes, , the collected factual material furnished direct evidence of the immediate needs of the peasantry. . . the naïve investigators were completely submerged in the details. . . . the result naturally was the defence of the interests of an economy crushed by land poverty etc; turned out to be a defense of the interest of the class that held the economy in its hands, that alone could endure and develop under the given social-economic relations within the community. . . Theoretical work . . led to a programme being drawn up which expresses the interests of the petty bourgeoisie i.e. the very class upon which this system of exploitation rests!"
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Ibid; p. 276-77. or at:
    And at the same time, the direction of practical work had also foundered, this time against reality: "At the same time practical revolutionary work also developed in quite an unexpected direction. Belief in the communist instincts of the muzhik naturally demanded of the socialists that they set politics aside and "go among the people". A host of extremely energetic and talented persons set about fulfilling that programme, but practice convinced them of the naivete of this the idea of the muzhik’s instincts being communist. . . The entire activity was then concentrated upon a fight against the government, a fight then waged by the intellectuals alone; they were sometimes joined by workers. At first this fight was waged in the name of socialism, and that it would be possible merely by seizing power, to effect no only a political, but also a social revolution,. Latterly this theory is . . . utterly discredited, and the struggle. . . is becoming a struggle of the radicals for political liberty. . . there emerged a programme of radical bourgeois democracy. . . . peasant socialism turned into radical-democratic representation of the petty bourgeois peasantry".
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Ibid; p. 282-6; or at:

And this led Lenin to analyze the material basis of the handicraft and peasant societal change, which reflected the Narodnik social material base of the petty bourgeoisie:

"One must …demonstrate the Narodnik MATERIAL basis… They demonstrate the bourgeois character of our rural economy and thus confirm the correctness of classifying the ‘friends of the people’ as ideologists of the petty bourgeoisie. . . They show that there is the closest connection between the ideas of and programs of our radicals and the interests of the petty bourgeoisie . . .. . It explains then political servility of the "friends of the people’ and their willingness to compromise";
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; Ibid; p. 234. or at:

and which fervently try to find solutions to shore up the wall.

5) The division between WORKING CLASS SOCIALISM and the old peasant socialism;

"The break-up , the depeasantisation of our peasants and handicraftsmen, which can be depicted accurately thanks to . . . Zemstov statistics, furnishes factual proof of the correctness of precisely the Social-Democratic conception of Russian reality, the conception that the peasant and the handicraftsman are petty producers in the "categorical" meaning of the term, that is, are petty bourgeois. This these may be called the central point of the theory of WORKING-CLASS SOCIALISM as against the old peasant socialism, which understood neither the conditions of commodity economy in which the petty producers live, nor their capitalist differentiation due to these conditions."
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; p. 233 or at:

6) The need to organize a revolutionary party

"How can one accept Marx’s economic theory and its corollary – the revolutionary role of the proletariat as the organizer of communism by way of capitalism- if people in our country try to find ways to communism other than through the medium of capitalism and the proletariat it creates? Obviously under such conditions, to call upon the workers to fight for political liberty would be equivalent to calling upon him to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the progressive bourgeois, for it cannot be denied.... That political liberty will primarily serve the interests of the bourgeoisie and will not ease the position of the workers, but . . . will ease on the conditions for their struggle . . . against these very bourgeoisie . . . Socialists who, while they do not accept the theory of the Social-Democrats, carry on their agitation among the workers, ... the theory of these socialist contradicts their practice, and they make a very serious mistake by distracting the workers from their direct task of ORGANISING A SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY."
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; p.294, or at:

"The period of Russia’s social development, when democracy and socialism were merged into one inseparable and indissoluble whole (as was the case for example in Chernyshevsky’s day), has gone for never to return. Today, there is absolutely no grounds for the idea, which Russian social-democrats here and there still cling to . . . that there is no profound qualitative difference in Russia between the ideas of the democrats and the socialists. Quite the contrary; a wide gulf divides these ideas, and it is high time the Russian socialists understood this, understood that a COMPLETE and FINAL RUPTURE with the ideas of the democrats is INEVITABLE AND IMPERATIVE!"
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; 271; or at:

        7) The Unity of Theory and Practice "The socialist intelligentsia can expect to perform fruitful work only when they abandon their illusions... the THEORETICAL work must be directed toward the concrete study of all forms of economic antagonisms in Russia, the study of their connections and successive development…. This theory based on a detailed study of Russian realities and history must furnish an answer to the demands of the proletariat-and. . guide this thought into the channels of Social Democracy… I by no means want to say that this (theoretical) work should take precedence over PRACTICAL work, - still less that the latter should be postponed until the former is completed, . . . . Theoretical and practical work merge into one aptly described by the veteran German social-democrat, Liebknecht as: "Studieren, propagandieren, Organisieren" (Study, Propaganda, organisation".
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; p.297-8; or at:
8) The recognition that such a party in Russia would take account of the democratic revolution as well as move it towards the socialist revolution.

"What should be the attitude of the working class towards the petty bourgeois and its programmes? And this question cannot be answered unless the dual character of this class is taken into consideration. . . . It is progressive in so far as it puts forward general democratic demands, i.e. it fights against all survivals of the medieval epoch and of serfdom; it is reactionary insofar as it fights to preserve its position as a petty bourgeois and tries to retard , to turn back the general development of the country along bourgeois lines. . .. Although the Marxists completely repudiate petty-bourgeois theories, this does not prevent them from including democracy in their programme, but, on the contrary, calls for still stronger insistence on it. . . . . . (e.g.) Take land poverty, high payments, and the tyranny of the authorities. . There is absolutely nothing socialist in the demand for the abolition of these evils. . . But their elimination will free this oppression of the mediaeval rubbish that aggravates it, and will facilitate the worker’s struggle against capital. . . In general the Russian communist’s adherents of Marxism, should more than any others call themselves SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS, and in their activities should never forget the enormous importance of DEMOCRACY. . . . it is the direct duty of the working class to fight side-by-side with the radical democracy against absolutism and the reactionary social estates and institutions…"
Vladimir I Lenin, "What the ‘Friends of The People’ are And How They Fight The Social Democrats"; P.288, 289, 290, 291; or at:

    This detailed exposure of the Narodniks, was soon supplemented by Lenin’s attack on the "Legal Marxists" and their half-baked and reluctant exposure of Narodism. Lenin showed that only the fully developed revolutionary Marxists could explain what was happening in Russia and how to combat it. This became his first legally printed work (under the name of K.Tulin) and was called: "The Economic Content of Narodism and the Criticism of it in Mr.Struve’s Book (The reflection of Marxism in Bourgeois Literature). P.Struve’s Critical Remarks on the Subject of Russia’s Economic Development". Of this work, the official tsarist censor said it contained "the most outspoken and complete programme of the Marxists". (See foot-note 105; Volume 1 Lenin; Collected Works; Moscow 1977; p.532). The Legal Marxists role was explained succinctly by the later "Short History of the CPSU(B): "Of immense significance too was Lenin’s struggle against "legal Marxism". It usually happens with big socialist movements in history, that transient "fellow-travelers" fasten on them. The ‘legal Marxists" as they were called were such fellow travelers. Marxism began to spread widely throughout Russia; and so we find bourgeois intellectuals decking themselves out in a Marxist garb. They published their articles in newspapers and periodicals that were legal, that is , allowed by the tsarist government. That is why the came to be called "legal Marxists".
"A Short History of the CPSU(B)"; Ibid; p. 20-21.
    But it was at this very time that Lenin first met Plekhanov, and it was over tactics towards the "Legal Marxists" that they were to have their first disagreement.

                Lenin’s Alliance With Plekhanov
    While Lenin had openly attacked the views of Petr Struve and his associates like M.I.Tugan-Baranovski, S.N.Bulgakov, and N.A.Berdyaev, he had also approached them to form a united front. All were well know economic analysts and claimed some Marxist allegiance. Already Plekhanov and the Emancipation of Labor Group had corresponded with them, in the hopes of joint publishing ventures. The views of Struve et al, on the continuing necessity of capitalist changes in Russia appealed to Lenin. But the key differences came down to whether or not the workers’ road entailed revolution or evolution.
    Struve chose evolution, and he made his choice clear in a work called "Critical remarks". Struve argued that when economic ruin faced the capitalist as a consequence of its chaotic organization of society, only then could the workers seize control. Although disagreeing with this, Plekhanov did not break relations with Struve. However as noted above, Lenin wrote in an open polemic about the incompleteness of Struve’s analysis.

    Shortly after Lenin met Nadezhda Konstantinova Krupskaya in the St.Petersburg Marxist circle. In March 1895, he was allowed leave by the Tsarist regime, to go abroad. His primary intent was to visit Plekhanov and the Emancipation of Labour (EL) group in Geneva. Lenin looked upon Plekhanov as second only to Engels amongst living Marxists, and Engels was to die later that August. Lenin had been given a task by the St.Petersburg Marxists of the St.Petersburg League for the Emancipation of Labour – to establish support to the EL émigrés. When Lenin met Plekhanov and Alexlrod, it was quickly agreed that a paper would be launched. But even at this first meeting, it was clear that Lenin’s directness of attack upon Struve did not meet with Plekhanov and Alexrod’s approved of (See Baron, "Plekhanov"; Ibid; p. 155).

    But an agreement upon united work between the émigrés and those within Russia had been reached. The numerous small groups in the Russian left, were united under the umbrella of the Russian Social Democratic Union. The EL and their new adherents in St Petersburg around Ulyanov and Radchenko were to work within the Union, but with allegiance to the EL. Locally, the Marxists led by Y.O.Martov and those of Radchenko had united into the St Petersburg Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class. They had started a local news-sheet as an expression of this unity, named Rabochee Delo (Workers Cause), with Ulyanov as the editor.

    The all-Russian paper was launched as "Rabotnik" (The Worker). Both monies, information from within Russia, articles and technical aid – were expressly provided to assist Plekhanov and the E.L. The editors were Plekhanov and Axelrod in Geneva and Ulyanov in St.Petersburg. The paper was a success with regular materials becoming available to the Russian movement for the first time. The Marxists fueled the growing strike movements in Russia, armed with the Rabotnik; and Rabochee Delo

    Unknown to him however, the tsarist police had carefully monitored Ulyanov’s mission to Geneva, and watched him after his return to Russia. Having organised the publishing, in December 1895, Lenin was arrested. Shortly after Martov was also arrested. Lenin was transferred to exile in Siberia, forbidding his mother and any other family member to accompany him. While in exile in Shusehskoe village, Lenin was to write the seminal "Development of Capitalism in Russia". However he also continued to work for a unity in the social-democratic circles on the basis of ideological clarity. Krupskaya herself was arrested in 1897. Ulyanov agitated for her place of exile to be in his locality, as his fiancée, this was granted on the condition of marriage, which took place in July 1898. The wedding ring was forged from a piece of copper, by a factory-worker also in exile.

    Naturally the outbreaks of labour unrest continued. In early 1897, many workers joined the Union of Struggle. During the process many inexperienced progressives and militants joined, and took issue with the broader political goals of the Union of Struggle. But this became converted into a confrontation between the intellectuals and the workers. A struggle between the older intellectual "Veterans" (Radchenko) and the newer worker "Youngsters" led by K.M.Takhtarev. During February 1897, Ulyanov was allowed three weeks to prepare for exile from St Petersburg. He thus entered the debate on the side of the Veterans who retained the political goals. But he welcomed workers into leading positions as long as they had the necessary skills and education. He left for exile before firm decision was reached.

    Internationally the development of the Plekhanov inspired Russian Marxist movement was becoming well known. Plekhanov was invited to the Fourth Congress of the Second International. But the international movement was soon riven by Bernsteins’ revisionism, one adopting class peace. Bernstein had announced these views in articles of the German Marxist journal "Die Neue Zeit", in January 1898. He then in 1899 published his revisionist book, "The Preconditions of Socialism and The Tasks of Social Democracy". It was to be Plekhanov who attacked Bernstein vigorously, even while the editor of the German journal Karl Kautsky was silent. It is noticeable that while Plekhanov exposed Bernstein, neither Kautsky nor the other leaders of the German party – Bebel and Liebnicht – attacked Bernsteins’ revisionism as deeply (See Baron, Ibid; p. 177).

    International Bernstein revisionism was accompanied by reflections in trends in the Russian movement, the main one being called "Economist". By 1897 a rival journal called "Rabochaia Mysl’" (Workers Thought) had begun to appear in St.Petersburg, dominated by S.N.Prokopvich and his wife Kusokova. They effectively led a movement from the Union that ensured its’ take-over of the Union, away from the leading role of the E.L.
    The organ Rabochaia Mysl became a leading organ of the Union, and it called for the primary task to be purely economic. Soon after Lenin and Martov were arrested, Rabotnik had been discontinued, and Rabochee Delo became edited by representatives of the "Youngsters" who adopted an Economist line, led by the new editors B.N.Krichevsky, V.P.Ivan’shin, and Teplova. Effectively therefore, the E.L. group had been hijacked.

    However the EL was still formally part of the Russian Social Democratic Union, of which the E.L. of Plekhanov was sole representative outside of Russia. The need for unity was becoming ever clearer to all trends and factions. It was decided to proceed towards the formation of a single party in Russia, and delegates from the El, the Bund to the economists of Petr Struve were invited.

    The Founding Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Party (RSDLP) was held in March 1898 in Minsk, was held in secret. Since Lenin, Martov and Potresov were all in exile, and Plekhanov was correctly unwilling to risk arrest, the leading lights of the movement were not present. The conference adopted a manifesto by Petr Struve, but failed to produce a constitution or program. Virtually all of the delegates and the Central Committee (two out of three) were then arrested by the police. A further 500 social-democrats were arrested.

    The Conference ran into conflict over key issues such as economism. But it was at least a Russian recognition of the need for one party. As the "Short History of the CPSU(B) puts it, the most important outcome was the ‘formal’ founding of the party:

"In 1898 several of the Leagues of Struggle – those of St Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev and Ekaterinoslav- together with the Bund, made the first attempt to unite and form a Social-democratic party. .The First Congress was attended by only nine persons. . . The manifesto published in the name of the congress was in many respects unsatisfactory. It evaded the question of the conquest of political power by the proletariat, it made no mention of the hegemony of the proletariat, and said nothing about the allies of the proletariat in its struggle against tsardom and the bourgeoisie. In its decisions and in its Manifesto, the congress announced the formation of the Russian Social-Democratic Party. It is this formal act, which played a great revolutionary propagandist role that constituted the significance of the Fist Congress of the RSDLP. But although the First Congress had been held, in reality no Marxist Social Democratic party was yet formed in Russia. The congress did not succeed in uniting the separate Marxist circles and organizations and welding them together organisationally."
Short History Of the CPSU (B); Ibid; p. 21-22; or at
    The conference also established a new paper called "Rabochaya Gazeta" (Workers Gazette); and Lenin had been invited to the editorial board. Though Lenin was imprisoned, he was well aware of the problems facing the movement, and he had continued working on a party programme. He wrote "Our Immediate Tasks", and "Our Programme" as well as a "Draft Programme" – all of which he sent to the editors, though none were then published, as the paper never saw the light of day.

    In his draft Programme, Lenin in essence paid respect to the work of the Emancipation of Labour (E.L.) group, whose draft programme was printed in 1885 and revised in 1889. Lenin said that it should serve as the "draft requiring editorial changes, corrections and additions only in respect of details" (A Draft Programme of Our Party"; Volume 4 Moscow; 1960; p. 232), but he did add considerable discussion and one new feature.
    This latter was the addition of demand to seize "cut off lands". The whole discussion of the peasantry showed that while Lenin attacked the Narodniks for their blind obeisance before an image of the peasantry, Lenin also saw the need to combat mediaevalism in peasant relation. This was a key element in the strategy of the October revolution, in distinction to the one offered by Trotsky. In the section on the peasantry, Lenin concretized the analysis of the E.L. into clear demands:

"In the programme of the E.L. group we find only one demand pertaining to (the peasant question) – the demand for a "radical revision of our agrarian relations, i.e. a revision of the conditions of the land redemption and the allotment of the land to the village communes; the granting of the right to refuse an allotment and to leave the village commune to those peasants who find it convenient do so," certain amendments are desirable . . . .We take the liberty of offering our comrades for discussion the following approximate formulation…… : Proceeding from these principles, the Russian Social-Democratic working class party demands:
1) The abrogation of land redemption and quit rent payments and of all duties at present obligatory for the peasantry as a tax-paying social-estate.
2) The return to the people of the sums of which the government and the landed proprietors have robbed the peasants in the form of redemption payments;
3) The abolition of collective liability and of all laws that hamper the peasant in disposing of his land;
4) The abolition of all remnants of the peasants’ feudal dependence on the landlord, whether they are due to special laws and intuitions, , , or to the fact that the land of the peasants and the landlords has not yet been demarcated, or to the fact that the cutting-off of the peasant land by the landlords has left the pianist in what is in actual fact the hopeless position of former corvee peasants;
5) That peasants be granted the right to demand in court the reduction of excessively high rents and to prosecute for usury landlord and in general all persons who take advantage to the inception condition of the peasants to conclude with them shackling agreements";
Lenin, Vladimir. I; "A Draft Programme of Our Party"; Collected Works, Volume 4; Moscow 1969; p.241, pp.244-45; or at:
    In these articles sent from Siberia to Rabochaya Gazeta, he had already defined for himself the principles of a single tight professional organization, that was regularly producing a journal were already clear to Lenin: "Local Social-Democratic activity has attained a fairly high level in our country, The seeds of Social Democracy have been broadcast throughout Russia. ..All that is now lacking is the unification of all this local work into the work of single party. Our chief drawback. . . is the narrow "amateurish" character of local work. . . . The most urgent task of the moment consists in . . . the founding of a party organs that will appear regularly and be closely connected with all the local groups."
Lenin, Vladimir I; "Our Immediate Task"; Collected Works Volume 4; Moscow 1969; pp 217-218.
    Meanwhile, the arrest of Lenin, Martov and Potresov had ensured the temporary victory of the Economists. In 1899 Rabochee Delo published an open attack upon Axelrod’s foreword to an article of Lenin’s published by the Emancipation of Labour. Also In 1899 Rabochaia mysl printed Berstein’s call for "evolutionary" and not "revolutionary" socialism. The Emancipation of Labour now started to counter-attack, by re-publishing out of Geneva. However they were somewhat slow. Kuskova now wrote the "Credo", where she argued that revolutionary workers should exclusively work on goals aimed to improve the economic well being of the workers: "In Russia the line of least resistance will never tend towards political activity. The incredible political oppression will never tend towards political activity. . In Russia. . workers are confronted with a wall of political oppression. . .The economic struggle too is hard. . but it is possible to wage it. . By learning in this struggle to organise, and coming into constant conflict with the political regime in the course of its, The Russian workers will at last create what may be called a form of the labour movement. . .For the Russian Marxist there is only one course: participation in i.e. assistance to the economic struggle of the proletariat, and participation in liberal opposition activity."
Kuskova; Cited by Valdimir Lenin in "A Protest By Russian Social Democrats"; Volume 4; London 1960; p.173-174. or at:
    Lenin had followed events, and he organised a declaration of "Protest" against Kuskova’s Credo. This was signed by 17 social-democratic exiles in the locality, with whom Lenin had especially close ties with Martov and Alexander Potresov. Naturally this challenged each of the false claims made by Kuskova. This precipitated the first serious division in the Social-Democratic circles of Russia, the first Line of Demarcation. By March 1900, Plekhanov’s counter-attack in the form of the book "Vedemecum" was published. And in April 1900, at the Second Congress the Emancipation of Labour severed ties with the Union.

    In exile, the bonds between Lenin, Martov and Alexsandr Potresov deepened, and they effectively became welded into a "troika". Lenin had by now determined to form a single national Social-Democratic paper to engage and form "lines of Demarcation". They agreed to this and agreed to be co-editors. But the plan could not be launched from within Russia. They were all released in January 1900. Lenin left Krupskaya in Siberia to complete her term of exile; to expedite the paper’s publishing.

The Founding Of Iskra –"The Spark".     When they were released from exile, many Economists and "Legal Marxists" like Struve, approached the "troika", asking to be involved in future party building. Lenin in a non-sectarian manner agreed to involve them in future work. At this stage, Lenin and the Troika were forced into exile by police raids; Lenin was again arrested for a brief period this time. Lenin had already sided with Plekhanov in the "Vade mecum" (See Baron; Ibid. p. 211). Lenin in fact states in a document only published in 1924, that he and the other young members of the Marxists were "infatuated" with Plekhanov (Lenin, Vladimir I; "How The Spark Was Nearly Extinguished"; Volume 4; Collected Works; Moscow 1960; p. 333; or at

    But when Lenin, accompanied by Potresov, arrived in Geneva, Plekhanov was quite unwilling to compromise on any issue, and he roundly attacked Lenin for conciliation to Struve. But even worse, Plekhanov evidently resented the notion of an equality that the younger troika adopted. He was so cold to the views of Lenin, that Lenin said that it looked as though "Iskra had been extinguished".
    Plekhanov started a major series of battles for editorial control, up to threatening his resignation. Only by adroit diplomacy did Potresov and Lenin avert Plekhanov’s obstacles. Finally, Lenin ensured the publication of a "collection of articles", from Munich and not from Geneva, with himself and Potresov as chief editors. This led to a distancing of Plekhanov’s dictatorship. It also directly established Iskra. Naturally Lenin lost a lot of respect for Plekhanov during this process.

    But the journal Iskra (The Spark) did therefore appear. The name was based on the epigraph "The Spark Will Kindle a Flame", a quote from the reply of the exiled Decembrists to the greetings of the poet Pushkin. It quickly established the principle that Lenin was later to make both his, and that of the Bolsheviks, very own hallmark:

"Before we can unite, and in order that we may united, we must first of all firmly and definitely draw the lines of demarcation between the various groups."
Lenin Vladimir I.; "Declaration of the Editorial Board of Iskra"; written 1900; In "Collected Works", Volume 4; Moscow 1960; p. 354; or at:
    In 1900, this article contained the key points of what later came to be included within the tenets of Leninism: Consistent struggle against ideological confusion (here represented by the Economists, the Legal Marxists, Bernsteinism etc); the need for principled unity; the need for a single party; the need for a paper to at as the organizer of the party; the need for the proletariat to play the leading role of all other progressive classes in the Russian revolution. Over the next two years, Ulyanov put out 29 issues of Iskra. During this period, Plekhanov and Axelrod became more accommodating to Struve’s liberalism than Lenin, who correspondingly became much harsher did. (See Baron, "Plekhanov"; Ibid; p.218). The new Journal quickly bore fruit. The other groups of the Union began to join together with Iskra organizationally.

    It was at this juncture, in 1902, that he wrote "What Is To Be Done?" , under the nom-de-guerre Lenin. Under this name, he had eve no, been recognised by the entire movement as one of the acknowledged leaders of the Russian Marxists.

    The work was critical in the history of the movement. We summarise first its general antecedents, then its direct predecessor "Where to Begin?"; and finally the book’s main conclusions.

Lenin’s "What Is To Be Done Now?" – The Antecedents     The First "Russian Jacobin" – Petr Tchakov - On Secrecy

    The era of the Narodniks, and the autocracy with its secret police, undoubtedly left vestiges of a necessity for secret organisation. The Iskra-ites understood this and organised accordingly. Krupskaya was in charge of communications and courier services between the émigré Iskra-ites and the internal all-Russian organisation. The ‘art" and methods of revolutionary organizations – from secret codes, to invisible inks to smuggling of monies and literature – were all mastered eventually, after amateurish beginnings by the Iskra folk.

    In this the influences of the older generation of revolutionists was not forgotten, including Petr Tachev or Tkachov. The ideas for a secret and centralised undertaking were very much in line with the Narodnik spirit of revolution. Earlier we discussed Engels’ critique of the Bakuninist views of Petr Tchakov who in 1876 was publishing a journal in Geneva called Nabat ("The Tocsin"). The criticisms we dealt with concerned the Bakuninist anarchist views. We did not there discuss Tchakov’s stress on the conspiratorial aspects of organisation. Engels cites him as follows:

"Why do you reproach us with conspiracies? If we were to renounce conspiratorial, secret underground activities, we would have to renounce all revolutionary activity. But you also castigate us for not wanting to depart from our conspiratorial ways here in the European West and thus disturbing the great international layout movement."
Polemic Tchakov to Engels; Cited Frederick Engels, "Refugee Literature-IV";  Ibid; Volume 24; p. 36.
    Engels replied to Tchakov’s complaints, that a truly revolutionary conspiracy as the basis for organisation was not what the Narodniks had always practiced. He cited the dishonest and treacherous actions of Sergei Nechayev, an acolyte of Mikhail Bakunin. Bakunin and Nechayev living as an émigré in Geneva, had swindled the monetary legacy of Herzen from his family, and had built the disruptive Bakuninist "international".
    During this time, Nechayev in 1869 returned to Russia. There, working in Narodnaya rasprava (Peoples’ Judgement) he enrolled many students. But one Ivan Ivanov had objected to the dishonesty of Nechayev’s methods. He was therefore murdered by Nechayev, who then escaped to the West, where only Bakunin and Pyotr Tchakov refused to condemn him. All other trends in the Russian liberation movement disowned Nechayev. "First it is untrue that the Russian revolutionaries have no other means at their disposal than pure conspiracy. Mr.Tchakov himself has just stressed the importance of literary propaganda from abroad into Russia! Even within Russia oral propaganda can never be excluded….. in the latest mass arrests in Russia, it was not the educated nor the students but the workers who were in the majority. . . .Second I undertake to fly to the moon, even before Tkachov liberates Russia, as soon as he proves that I have ever, anywhere , at any time in my political career , declared that conspiracies were to be universally condemned in all circumstances. . . . If only instead of fraudulent conspiracies based on lies and deceit against their co-conspirators . . . like that of Sergei Nechayev. . . if only they the "doers" would, at least, perform a deed proving that they really possess an organistion and that they are concerned with something else apart from the attempt to form a dozen! Instead they cry out loud to all and sundry: We conspire, we conspire!- just like operatic conspirators roaring in four parts: "Silence! Silence! Make not a sound!"
Frederick Engels, "Refugee Literature-IV" Ibid; Volume 24; p. 36.
    As was commonly accepted in the Russian movement at that time, Tchakov was: "The leading exponent of Russian Jacobinism (or Blanquism) which held that in view of the political apathy of the masses the intellectual elite was obliged to create a tightly centralised, conspiratorial organisation for the violent overthrow of the existing order."
Asher, Abraham; "Pavel Axelrod and The Development of Menshevism"; Harvard 1972; p. 32.
    Given the nature of the Russian autocratic regime, this aspect of Nardonism lived on until the time of the RSDLP. It is not surprising then, that the need for a tight and welded secret organisation was "in the air". Isaac Deutscher speaks of Martov’s avowal of the need for this. As he says: "Martov describes how much the concept of a centralised organisation was then ‘in the air’. The idea was first formulated not by Lenin, but by an underground workers in Petersburg who wrote a letter to Lenin about this, and after the split joined the Mensheviks. In the year before the congress a scheme of organisation similar to Lenin’s was proposed to Iskra by Savinkov, who later left the Social Democrats to form the Social Revolutionary party."
Martov Cited by Isaac Deutscher; "The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921"; London 1954; p.77.
    It is therefore, not very surprising that the young Trotsky-Bronstein, especially given his own Narodnik background - should have come up with a similar notion: "Bronstein set down his views in an essay which circulated in the Siberian colonies. . . ‘The central committee will cut off its relations with the (undisciplined organisation) and it will thereby cut off that organisation from the entire world of revolution. The central committee will stop the flow of literature and of wherewithal to that organisation. It will send into the field. . . its own detachment and having endowed it with the necessary resources, the Central Committee will proclaim that this detachment is the local committee".
Isaac Deutscher; "The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921"; London 1954; p.45.
    As Deutscher comments this was: "In a nutshell, the whole procedure of purge, expulsion and excommunication by which he himself was to be cut off from the entire world of revolution";
Deutscher, Isaac; "The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921"; London 1954; p.45;
    But Deutscher wishes to make more of this than is warranted. He wishes to make it clear that as early as 1901, Trotsky was capable of independent Marxist analysis; and that as early as 1901 Trotsky’s thoughts were if not prior to Lenin’s, then at least parallel to Lenin’s!

    This viewpoint is highly questionable, given events in Trotsky’s life.

    This view of a "centralised organisation", was not only a common sense, practical and organisational matter, but "was in the air".  It had a direct lineage to the practice of the Narodniks. But Lenin transcended any simplistic reliance on a secret organisation.
    In what way did Lenin propose anything different from "what was in the air?" In "What is To be Done?", Lenin was to extend his work of having already established Iskra. But Lenin had already elaborated the bones of "What is To be Done", in his earlier article "Where to Begin?" That article was published in issue no 5 of Iskra, in June 1901.


                "Where to Begin?"

    In contrast to "What Is To be Done", this work was a short focused piece, on purely organisational matters. In this article Lenin made the following points:

1) Practical Steps     Lenin argued that a primary aim for the R.S.D.L.P., should now no longer be: "What path to take?", but instead it should be "What are the practical steps along that path?" This implied quite a different approach: "It is not a question of what path we must choose (as was the case in the late 80’s and 90’s) but of what practical steps we must take upon the known path and how they shall be taken. It is questions of a system and plan of practical work";
Lenin, Vladimir I; "Where to Begin?"; Collected Works; Volume 5; Moscow 1986; p.17; or at

2) There was An Invigoration of Revisionism

    That the older revisionisms were not only not dead, but they were taking on new forms. So that for instance, Economism was now accompanied by "unprincipled eclecticism’. These were further confusing the way forward. "Serious differences of opinion.. reveal a deplorable ideological instability and vacillation. …. The "economist" trend, far from being dead, is … narrowing the work… Unprincipled eclecticism is again rearing its head."
Vladimir Lenin, "Where to Begin?"; Ibid; p. 17;  or at
        3) Advocates of Individual Terror Had Reappeared

    This was manifested by a cry from the Economists for "flexibility", urging that it was necessary to change tactics. This urged a return to the strategy and tactics of individual terror. The old Narodniks had been resurrected into the Social Revolutionary party, and this had fueled some of the Economist cries.
    In Lenin’s rebuttal, he pointed out that this was not the time for the military tactic of terror.
That military tactic, was a necessary part of the revolutionary strategy, but that it could only be used at the time of a decisive assault. That moreover this was not the time of that decisive assault, it was the time for a "siege"; and that a decisive assault was impossible now at least in part - because the groundwork had not been done. There were no "revolutionary organizations" at the present time, the task was to build them:

"In principle we have never rejected and cannot reject terror. Terror is one of the forms of military action that may be perfectly suitable and even essential at a definite juncture, in the battle, given a definite state of the troops and the existence of definite conditions. But the important point is that terror, at the present time, is by no means suggested as an operation for the army in the filed, an operation closely connected with and integrated into the entire system of struggle ,m but as an independent form of occasional attack unrelated to any army. Without a central body and with the weakness of local revolutionary organisation , this , in fact , is all that terror can be. We therefore, declare emphatically that under the present conditions such a means of struggle is inopportune and unsuitable; that it diverts the active fighters from their real tasks….it disorganises the forces not of the government but of the revolution….. Far be it from us to deny the significance of heroic individual blows, but it is our duty to sound a vigorous warning against becoming infatuated with terror, against taking it to be the chief and basic means of struggle, as so many people strongly incline to do at present.. Terror can never be a regular military operation; at best it can serve only as one of the methods employed in a decisive attack. But can we issue the call for such a decisive assault at the present moment? … Our slogan cannot be "To the assault", but has to be "Lay siege to the enemy fortress". In other words the immediate task of our Party is not to summon all available forces for the attack right now, but to call for the formation of a revolutionary organisation capable of uniting all forces and guiding the movement…..(to) consolidate the fighting forces suitable for the decisive struggle."
Vladimir Lenin, "Where to Begin?"; Ibid; p. 19. or at
            4) The need for an All Russian Newspaper

    In total, all of this demanded an All-Russian political newspaper. This was not a new call from Lenin, but his sense of urgency had increased:

"Our movement suffers … ideologically as well as in practical and organisational respects , from its state of fragmentation, from the almost complete immersion of Social-Democrats in local work, which narrows their outlook, the scope of their activities and their skill in the maintenance of secrecy and their preparedness….. the First step towards eliminating this shortcoming, towards transforming divers local movements into a single, All-Russian movement must the founding of an All-Russian newspaper. Lastly what we need is a political newspaper."
Vladimir Lenin, "Where to Begin?"; Ibid; p. 21; or at
    There was a large demand for such a paper that would "arouse" the latently politically conscious: "We must arouse in every section of the population that is at all politically conscious a passion for political exposure. … those who are able and ready to make exposures have no tribune from which to speak, no eager and encouraging audience, they do not see anywhere among the people that force to which it would be worth while directing their complaint against the 'omnipotent' Russian Government.... We are now in a position to provide a tribune for the nation-wide exposure of the tsarist government, and it is our duty to do this. That tribune must be a Social-Democratic newspaper."
Vladimir Lenin, "Where to Begin?"; Ibid; p. 21-22; or at
                5) The Role of the Newspaper

    The newspaper must become more than just the conveyer of good information and Social-Democratic propaganda. It was the organiser of the party:

"The role of a newspaper however, is not limited solely to the dissemination of ideas, to political education, and to the enlistment of political allies. A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser. In this last respect it may be likened to the scaffolding round a building under construction";
Vladimir Lenin, "Where to Begin?"; Ibid; p.22.  or at
    Lenin promised to amplify this article, but this was delayed, and in the process his amplification took on the features of an extended critique of Economism. "Where to Begin" was published in June 1901. The promised further analysis only came in Lenin’s famous and defining work, published in March 1902, after both the Bialystok Conference of March 1902 described below, and the Zurich Unity conference of October 1901 attended by Lenin. Both were failed attempts at unity.

    It had always been the intent of Iskra to create a welded single party. But just as preparations for the Second Congress of the RSDLP were on going, the Bund and the Yuzhny Rabochy (Southern Worker) Editorial board, joined with the League of Social Democrats Abroad, in an attempt to pre-empt the Iskra meeting. This called for a conference that met in Bialystok in 1902. At the conference, the organizers tried to make an attempt to transform the conference into the Second Congress. But the Iskra representative strongly objected and thwarted this maneuver.

    In any case, very few groups from within Russia were present. And finally, most of the organisers were arrested, including Fedor Dan sent by Iskra. This disruption from the Tsarist Okhrana police, meant that only one of the original organisers was free – a member of the Bund named K.Portnoi.

    A further attempted conference was held, this time with Lenin’s encouragement, in Pskov in November 1902. But it was further compromised, again because of on going arrests. However it resulted in a committee to organise the Second Congress in summer 1903. The organising committee consisted of Russian organization of Iskra, the St.Petersburg Committees, and Yuzhny Rabochy (See Lenin Vladimir I.; "Announcement of the Formation of an Organising Committee"; Collected Works; Volume 6; Ibid; p.305. January 1903).

"What Is To Be Done? - Burning Questions of Our Movement" - Party-making - Making of the "Storm" Centre     The essence of this work, was captured in both in the sub-title, and the foreword chosen by Lenin. The foreword highlights the central role of theory for the Marxist movement, and the need to make clear demarcations for continual strengthening of the Marxist Party. Drawn from a quotation from a letter sent by Ferdinand Lassalle to Karl Marx on June 24th, 1852, it reads: "Party struggles lend a party strength and vitality, the greatest proof of a party’s weakness is its diffuse-ness and the blurring of clear demarcations; a party becomes stronger by purging itself…"
Letter of June 24th 1852; Cited Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?-Burning Questions of Our Movement"; Volume 5; Moscow 1986; p.347; or at
    At the outset of this work, published in 1902, Lenin noted the delay in his intended amplification of "Where to Begin?" He explains that this was due to the ill-fated unity conference of 1901. Lenin would have written in a different manner had it been successful. But in the new situation of failed unity, Lenin no longer found it acceptable to limit this article to the purely practical and organisational level. He argued that it was necessary to return to this, but only after an extended polemic with the Economists. This was because in the interim their "tenacity" had proven disruptive, leading him to address the issue of "freedom of criticism", and the origin of this misleading slogan. The slogan was a "war cry", and it impeded fundamental positive movement: "Why such an innocent and natural slogan as: freedom of criticism: should be for us a veritable war-cry, and why we cannot come to an understanding even on the fundamental question of the role of Social-Democrats in relation to the spontaneous mass movement."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; "Collected Works"; Volume 6; Moscow; 1985; p. 350; or at
    The work analyses party building in the concrete situation facing the Russian proletariat in 1902. But it also makes a strong case that these tenets are not purely of a national character, that they are pertinent to all Marxist parties. It is sufficiently important to detail, since it laid the basis for the CPSU (B); and it served as the dividing line between the true Marxists and those who were Marxists in words only. We will have occasion to refer to it, in the debates between Lenin and Trotsky on the one hand; and Trotsky and Stalin on the other hand. The rather long work makes the following main points.
  1) There was a link between the Russian Economists and the international revisionists – the followers of Bernstein.     In a very new way, Bernstein’s revisionism had become more than just a local debate for the German movement, it had acquired the character of an international phenomenon. Previously debates within parties had a local character. The debate around Berstein’s revisionism was international in character. Lenin recognized this as unique: "In .. modern socialism … this phenomenon .. is unique . . . the strife of the various trends within the socialist movement has from national become international. Formerly the disputes between Lassalleans and Eisenachers, between Guesdists and Possibilists, between Fabians and Social-Democrats, and between Narodnya Volya adherents and Social-Democrats, remained confined within purely national frameworks…. At the present time… the English Fabians, the French Ministerialists, the German Bernsteins and the Russian Critics – all; belong to the same family, all extol each other, learn from each other, and together take up arms against "dogmatic" Marxism."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 352. or at
    Lenin argued that the slogan "Freedom of Criticism" that had become so fashionable, and that was used against Iskra, was a cover under which the battle between two dominant trends in international Social Democracy were engaging for dominance: "Freedom of criticism" is .. the most fashionable slogan at the present time, and the one most frequently employed in the controversies between socialists and democrats in all countries. . . . In fact, it is no secret for anyone that two trends have taken form in present-day international Social-Democracy. . . The essence of the "new" trend, which adopts a "critical" attitude towards "obsolete dogmatic" Marxism, has been clearly enough presented by Bernstein and demonstrated by Millerand."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.352-352. or at
    What is or was Bernsteinism?
    The use of two tenses here, is deliberate, since Bernsteinism has essentially taken over all the left-reformist parties throughout the world. It is usually known now under the simpler term of "reformism". Lenin defines the essence of it as being: "Social-Democracy must change from a party of social revolution into a democratic party of social reforms. Bernstein .. denied .. the possibility of putting socialism on a scientific basis and of demonstrating its necessity and inevitability from the point of view of the materialist conception of history. Denied was the fact of growing .. proletarisation, and the intensification of capitalist contradictions; the very concept, "ultimate aim", was declared to be unsound, and the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat was completely rejected. Denied was the antithesis in principle between liberalism and socialism. Denied was the theory of the class struggle, on the alleged grounds that it could not be applied to a strictly democratic society governed according to the will of the majority, etc."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 353. or at
    Lenin continued that if Bernsteinism was to be accepted, the inevitable corollary was that of class collaboration in bourgeois cabinets. This he argued, could only result in "miserable reforms": "If Social-Democracy, .. is merely a party of reform .. then not only has a socialist the right to join a bourgeois cabinet, but he must always strive to do so. If democracy, in essence, means the abolition of class domination, then why should not a socialist minister charm the whole bourgeois world by orations on class collaboration? Why should he not remain in the cabinet even after the shooting-down of workers by gendarmes has exposed, for the hundredth and thousandth time, the real nature of the democratic collaboration of classes? Why should he not personally take part in greeting the tsar, for whom the French socialists now have no other name than hero of the gallows, knout, and exile? And the reward for this utter humiliation and self-degradation of socialism . . is pompous projects for miserable reforms, so miserable in fact that much more has been obtained from bourgeois governments!"
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.354. or at
    Lest there was any confusion about any identity between the views of the Economists of Russia and  those of Bernstein, Lenin explicitly cited from Rabocheye Delo their support of "freedom of criticism", and the link this carried for them – to the question of "unity": "It will be clear that "freedom of criticism" means' freedom for an opportunist trend in Social-Democracy, freedom to convert Social-Democracy into a democratic party of reform, freedom to introduce bourgeois ideas and bourgeois elements into socialism.. . Now, this slogan ("freedom of criticism") has in recent times been solemnly advanced by Rabocheye Dyelo (No. 10), organ of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, not as a theoretical postulate, but as a political demand, as a reply to the question, "Is it possible to unite the Social-Democratic organisations operating abroad?": "For a durable unity, there must be freedom of criticism".
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.355; p.356. or at
    A frequent taunt to Iskra, and to Lenin in particular, had been the labels Jacobin, and "Robespierre"- both intended as epithets. This was later to be hurled at Lenin by Trotsky also. But Lenin reminded readers, that the parallel between the French movements and the modern Russian movements, had a specific context. Plekhanov had first contrasted the consistent revolutionary trend, with a compromising section during a revolution. It was the connotations of "bloody Jacobins", that had motivated the opportunists to use that term as an insult. But the historical parallels (albeit for the French Jacobin and Gironde – it referred to trends in the bourgeois class, while in the Russian movement it referred to trends within the working class movement) regarding revolutionary constancy , was ignored by the opportunists: "A comparison of the two trends within the revolutionary proletariat (the revolutionary and the opportunist), and the two trends within the revolutionary bourgeoisie in the eighteenth century (the Jacobin, known as the Mountain, and the Girondist) was made in the leading article in No. 2 of Iskra (February 1901). The article was written by Plekhanov. The Cadets, the Bezzaglavtsi, and the Mensheviks to this day love to refer to Jacobinism in Russian Social-Democracy. But how Plekhanov came to apply this concept for the first time against the Right wing of Social-Democracy -- about this they prefer to keep silent or to forget."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.356. or at
   The Economists explicitly rejected any charge that Bernsteinism was anti- working class in its’ interests: "Writes B. Krichevsky, editor of Rabocheye Dyelo …In the modern socialist movement, .. there is no conflict of class interests; the socialist movement in its entirety, in all of its diverse forms (Krichevsky's italics), including the most pronounced Bernsteinians, stands on the basis of the class interests of the proletariat and its class struggle for political and economic emancipation"
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 356; or at

2) Historically, the Russian movement had of necessity joined Marxists and "Legal" Marxists in An Alliance.

    Lenin points out that in the fight against autocracy, that the various Russian progressive forces had of necessity, banded together as "manifestly heterogeneous elements" under a "Common flag" – "Marxism": "The chief distinguishing feature of Russia in regard to the point we are examining is that the very beginning of the spontaneous working-class movement, on the one hand, and of the turn of progressive public opinion towards Marxism, on the other, was marked by the combination of manifestly heterogeneous elements under a common flag to fight the common enemy (the obsolete social and political world outlook). We refer to the heyday of "legal Marxism".
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 361, or at
    This was because the autocracy had only slowly recognised the dangers of Marxism as opposed to its main enemy - Nardonism, which it was primarily combating. In that hiatus, for a brief period Marxist thought and books proliferated. This was in the period of an alliance between people "of extreme and of very moderate views": "The government had accustomed itself to regarding only the theory of the (revolutionary) Narodnaya Volya as dangerous, …. Quite a considerable time elapsed .. before the government realised what had happened and the unwieldy army of censors and gendarmes discovered the new enemy and flung itself upon him. Meanwhile, Marxist books were published one after another, Marxist journals and newspapers were founded, nearly everyone became a Marxist, .. This period (was) an event of the past. It is no secret that the brief period in which Marxism blossomed on the surface of our literature was called forth by an alliance between people of extreme and of very moderate views. In point of fact, the latter were bourgeois democrats; this conclusion (so markedly confirmed by their subsequent "critical" development) suggested itself to some even when the "alliance" was still intact."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p361-362; or at
    Since that time, because of the later confusion and ‘intermingling’, criticism had been leveled at Social-Democracy for this "alliance". But Lenin justified the alliance as having been completely necessary. The need for flexible tactics was defended by Lenin, who pointed out that the victory over some incorrect strategies was achieved quicker in that way: "Are not the revolutionary Social-Democrats who entered into the alliance with the future "Critics" mainly responsible for the subsequent "confusion"? This question, together with a reply in the affirmative, is sometimes heard from people with too rigid a view. But such people are entirely in the wrong. Only those who are not sure of themselves can fear to enter into temporary alliances even with unreliable people; not a single political party could exist without such alliances. The combination with the legal Marxists was in its way the first really political alliance entered into by Russian Social -Democrats. Thanks to this alliance, an astonishingly rapid victory was obtained over Narodism, and Marxist ideas (even though in a vulgarised form) became very widespread."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.362; or at
    But as always, an essential condition of any alliance for principled Marxists, was to demand the full rights of open criticism and exposure of the temporary ally. But unfortunately, this had not been taken up, as the Bernsteinians had temporarily "demoralised" the socialists. The working class movement had been taken over by the liberals, assisted by the State who naturally saw Bernsteinism as an ideology in its own interests. So the movement was then faced with the penetration of its own ranks by "Economists": "An essential condition for such an alliance must be the full opportunity for the socialists to reveal to the working class that its interests are diametrically opposed to the interests of the bourgeoisie. However, the Bernsteinian and "critical" trend, to which the majority of the legal Marxists turned, deprived the socialists of this opportunity and demoralised the socialist consciousness by vulgarising Marxism, practice it meant a striving to convert the nascent working-class movement into an appendage of the liberals. … the rupture was necessary. But the "peculiar" feature of Russia manifested itself in the fact that this rupture simply meant the elimination of the Social-Democrats from the most accessible and widespread "legal" literature. The "ex-Marxists".. entrenched themselves in this literature. Catchwords like "Against orthodoxy" and "Long live freedom of criticism" …. became the vogue, and the fact that neither the censor nor the gendarmes could resist this vogue is apparent from the publication of three Russian editions of the work of the celebrated Bernstein … and from the fact that the works of Bernstein, Mr. Prokopovich, and others were recommended by Zubatov. A task now devolved upon the Social Democrats that was difficult in itself and was made incredibly more difficult by purely external obstacles -- the task of combating the new trend. This trend did not confine itself to the sphere of literature. The turn towards "criticism" was accompanied by an infatuation for Economism among Social-Democratic practical workers."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.362-3;  or at
    Lenin pointed out that the Credo (as was discussed above) had signposted a need for combat. Lenin asked now explicitly what were the tasks that the Marxists should have taken up over this time? He answered: to resume theoretical work, and to propagandise amongst the workers against "Legal Marxism". But the Economists had not done this: "What should have been the task of those who sought to oppose opportunism in deeds and not merely in words? First, they should have made efforts to resume the theoretical work that had barely begun in the period of legal Marxism and that fell anew on the shoulders of the comrades working underground. Without such work the successful growth of the movement was impossible. Secondly, they should have actively combated the legal "criticism" that was perverting people's minds on a considerable scale. Thirdly, they should have actively opposed confusion and vacillation in the practical movement, exposing and repudiating every conscious or unconscious attempt to degrade our programme and our tactics. That Rabocheye Dyelo did none of these things is well known;"
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.365; or at
    Lenin points out that previously, the Economists had found it easy to dilute the movement, because there were no binding rules, or any "recognised party body that could "restrict" freedom of criticism". He pointed out that the Economists wanted to preserve this "spontaneity", but that such a state of affairs was no longer acceptable. Hence the famous slogan of Lenin’s, that: "Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all draw firm and definite lines of demarcation"
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.367; or at
3) The importance of revolutionary theory was especially important in the Russian movement.

    A common attack on Iskra was that it was "dogmatic", and that it "ossified thought". Lenin rejected this, replying that these complaints masked a theoretical inability, and worse, an indifference to theory. He could easily show this, by contrasting the output of Zarya with that of Rabochee Delo. He also pointed to the views of Marx and Engels on the primary role of theory. This allowed him to proclaim: "Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement":

"High-sounding phrases against the ossification of thought, etc., conceal unconcern and helplessness with regard to the development of theoretical thought. The case of the Russian Social-Democrats manifestly illustrates the general European phenomenon (long ago noted also by the German Marxists) that the much vaunted freedom of criticism does not imply substitution of one theory for another, but freedom from all integral and pondered theory; it implies eclecticism and lack of principle. . . Marx .. (in) his letter on the Gotha Programme, in which he sharply condemns eclecticism in the formulation of principles. If you must unite, Marx wrote to the party leaders, then enter into agreements to satisfy the practical aims of the movement, but do not allow any bargaining over principles, do not make theoretical "concessions". This was Marx's idea, and yet there are people among us who seek-in his name to belittle the significance of theory! Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.368-9; or at
    Lenin adduced three reasons in particular why this was an especially important consideration for Russia. These boil down to the unique youth of the Social-Democratic movement of Russia, and its’ unique tasks: "Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.
…For Russian Social-Democrats the importance of theory is enhanced by three other circumstances ..:
First, .. our Party is only in process of formation, its features are only just becoming defined, and it has as yet far from settled accounts with the other trends of revolutionary thought that… divert the movement from the correct path..
Secondly, the Social-Democratic movement is in its very essence an international movement. This means, not only that we must combat national chauvinism, but that an incipient movement in a young country can be successful only if it makes use of the experiences of other countries. … it is not enough merely to be acquainted with them, or simply to copy out the latest resolutions. What is required is the ability to treat these experiences critically and to test them independently. A reserve of theoretical forces and political (as well as revolutionary) experience is required to carry out this task.
Thirdly, the national tasks of Russian Social-Democracy are such as have never confronted any other socialist party in the world. ..(Autocracy imposes on us) .. political and organisational duties.. to emancipate the whole people .. the role of vanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a party that is guided by the most advanced theory. "
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.369-70; or at
4) The spontaneous form of class struggle – trade union consciousness - alone could not achieve Socialism.

    Various of the Russian Economists had particularly objected to the contrast drawn by Iskra and Zaraya, between a "spontaneous" versus a "methodical" form of struggle. Lenin cited a phrase from the Economists that encapsulated this objection:

"Rabocheye Dyelo formulated its indictment as a "belittling of the significance of the objective or the spontaneous element of development". "
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.373; or at
    In order to show the difference between firstly the spontaneous elements of the class struggle, and secondly a conscious Social-Democratic attack on the pinnacle of state power, Lenin again traced out the early history of the Russian movement. He recalled the strike movement of 1896 in St.Petersburg as a spontaneous series of events. But he pointed out that in comparison to the earlier strike waves of the seventies and eighties, that the waves of the nineties had progressed to being to some extent ‘conscious’, but they still remained ultimately at the level of spontaneous struggles: "Strikes .. in the seventies and sixties (and even in the first half of the nineteenth century), .. were accompanied by the "spontaneous" destruction of machinery, etc. Compared with these "revolts", the strikes of the nineties might even be described as "conscious" .. the "spontaneous element", in essence, represents nothing more nor less than consciousness in an embryonic form. Even the primitive revolts expressed the awakening of consciousness to a certain extent. The workers were losing their age-long faith in the permanence of the system which oppressed them and began…. to … abandon their slavish submission to the authorities. But this was, nevertheless, more in the nature of outbursts of desperation and vengeance than of struggle. The strikes of the nineties revealed far greater flashes of consciousness; .. the strike was carefully timed.. etc. . .. these strikes .. not yet Social Democratic struggles. They marked 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. ..not yet Social-Democratic consciousness. .. strikes of the nineties ..remained a purely spontaneous movement."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 375; or at
    Lenin showed that it was a universal property of the oppressed working class movements, to "spontaneously" show only a trade unionist consciousness, not a Social Democratic" one. This latter could only be elaborated by those with the leisure, education and the ability to fully comprehend the realities of daily life, those such as Marx and Engels: "We have said that there could not have been Social-Democratic consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals. By their social status the founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia. In the very same way, in Russia, the theoretical doctrine of Social-Democracy arose altogether independently of the spontaneous growth of the working-class movement; it arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of thought among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia. In the period under discussion, the middle nineties, this doctrine not only represented the completely formulated programme of the Emancipation of Labour group, but had already won over to its side the majority of the revolutionary youth in Russia."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 375; or at
    All belittling of the ‘conscious’ element carries with it the strengthening of the ideology of the bourgeoisie: "In the very first literary expression of Economism we observe .. that the adherents of the "labour movement pure and simple", worshippers of the closest "organic" contacts (Rabocheye Dyelo's term) with the proletarian struggle, opponents of any non-worker intelligentsia (even a socialist intelligentsia), are compelled, .. to resort to the arguments of the bourgeois "pure trade-unionists". . . This shows (something Rabocheye Dyelo cannot grasp) that all worship of the spontaneity of the working class movement, all belittling of the role of "the conscious element", of the role of Social-Democracy, means, quite independently of whether he who belittles that role desires it or not, a strengthening of the influence of bourgeois ideology upon the workers. All those who talk about "overrating the importance of ideology", about exaggerating the role of the conscious element, .. imagine that the labour movement pure and simple can elaborate, and will elaborate, an independent ideology for itself, if only the workers "wrest their fate from the hands of the leaders". But this is a profound mistake."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 375; or at
    Lenin was not making an original point. He may have been making it with a renewed urgency, but it had already been made before. In his haste to write the pamphlet Lenin did not cite his predecessors regarding this point, in this article, although elsewhere he certainly did. We will address briefly these precedents that further butress Lenin’s view. Marx and Engels,  had said in the Communist Manifesto: "In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole? .. . The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working class parties…. The Communists therefore are on the one hand, practically the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country; that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement";
Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick; "The Communist Manifesto"; In "Collected Works" Volume 6: London 1976; p.497; or at:
    Furthermore, in his instructions for the delegates of Provisional General Council of the International Working Men's Association (IWMA), Marx indicated very similar thoughts to those of Lenin. In point number 6, "6. Trade Unions, Their Past, Present And Future", Marx outlined the history of the trade unions and their limitations. These he specified had to be transcended by moving towards the abolition of the "very system of wages, labour and capital" Aug 1866: "(a) Their past….Trade unions originally sprang up from the spontaneous attempts of workingmen at removing or at least checking that competition (among themselves), in order to conquer such terms of contract as might raise them at least above the conditon of mere slaves. The immediate object of Trades’ Unions was therefore confined to everyday necessities.… This activity of the Trades Unions is not only legitimate, it is necessary. . . . . (b) Their present…. Too exclusively bent upon the local and immediate struggles with capitals… They therefore kept too much aloof from general social and political movements. . . . (c) Their Future:. .They must now learn to act deliberately as organising centres of the working class in the broad interest of its complete emancipation. . . "
Marx Karl, "Instructions for the Delegates of Provisional General Council of the International Working Men's Association (IWMA) "Collected Works", Volume 20, Moscow 1984; pp.191-192.
    Again in relation to the IWMA, a proposition was raised that the General Council be removed of its direct responsibility for England, and that like in all the other countries, a separate Federal Council be created for England. This was prompted by the reformist English trade unionists in alliance with Bakunin, and the move was opposed by Marx.
    Marx’s reasoning was that the General Council could ensure the revolutionary development of the English trade unions. These, by virtue of their country of orgin, were in the center of the world revolutionary ferment; but without the "push" of the General Council would relapse into the "English spirit" – one without revolutionary ardor and the spirit of generalisation". The parallels with Lenin’s viewpoint are obvious: "4) Question of Separating The General Council from the Federal Council for England.
. . Although revolutionary initiative will probably come from France, England alone can act as the lever for a serious economic Revolution. It is the only country where there are no more peasants and where landed property is concentrated in a few hands. It is the only country where the capitalist form, that is to say combined labour on large scale under capitalist masters ,embraces virtually the whole of production. It is the only country where the great majority of the populations consists of WAGE-LABOURERS. It is the only country where the class struggle and the organisation of the working class by the TRADES UNIONS have acquired a certain degree of maturity and universality. . . .The general Council is now being in the happy position of having its hand directly on this great lever of the proletarian revolution, what folly we might even say what a crime to let this lever fall into purely English hands! The English have all the material necessary for the social revolution., What they lack is the sprit of generalization and revolutionary ardor. It is only the general Council that can provide them with this, that can thus accelerate the truly revolutionary movement in this country and consequently everywhere. . . . The (English press) accuse us of having poisoned and almost extinguished the English sprit of the working class and of having pushed it into revolutionary socialism.. . .If a Federal Council were formed apart from the General Council. . . . the General Council of the International would lose control of the great lever.. . . England cannot be treated simply as a country along with other countries. It must be treated as the metropolis of capital." January 1870;
Marx, Karl; "Letter on Behalf of The General Council to The Federal Council of Romance Switzerland;" "Collected Works", Volume 21; Moscow 1985; p. 86-87.
    Finally, Engels outlined in a series of articles, the history of the Trades Unions, focusing on those of England as exemplars. He pointed out how they had been critical in the development of a resistance to the capitalists. But that they were now part of the capitalist machinery, and were: "acknowledged institutions and their action as one of the regulators of wages is recognized quite as much as the action of the Factories and Workshops Acts as regulators of the hours of work."
Engels Frederick; "Trades Unions"; In "Marx and Engels: Articles On Britain"; Moscow; 1971; p. 378.
    But Engels pointed out that their activity was only "a vicious circle" and he asked of them : "Is this to remain the highest aim of British workingmen? Or is the working class of this country at last to attempt breaking through this vicious circle, and to find an issue of it in a movement for the ABOLITION of the WAGE SYSTEM ALTOGETHER?"
Engels Frederick; "Trades Unions"; In "Marx and Engels: Articles On Britain"; Moscow; 1971; p. 376.
    Engels described a way forward which was exactly analogous to that described by Lenin: "Now in a political struggle of class against class, organisation is the most important weapon. And in the same measure as the merely political or Chartist Organisation fell to pieces, in the same measure the Trades Union Organisation grew stronger and stronger. . . . According to the traditions of their origin and development in this country, these same organisations hitherto limited themselves almost strictly to their function of sharing in the regulation of wages and working hours. . . . the Trades Union forgot their duty as the advanced guard of the working class… They cannot continue to hold the position they now occupy unless they really march in the van of the working class. .. . They will no longer enjoy the privilege of being the only organisation of the working class. At the side of , or above the Unions of special trades there must spring up a general Union, a political organisation of the working class. . . the sooner this is done the better. There is no power in the works which could for a day resist the British working class organised as a body."
Engels Frederick; "Trades Unions"; In "Marx and Engels: Articles On Britain"; Moscow; 1971; pp. 378-379.
    We point out these historical precedents, since just as the revisionists and Trotskyites try to prove a "divide between Lenin and Stalin"; so another section tries to divide "Lenin from Marx and Engels". Somehow Marx and Engels are "acceptable’ to bourgeois academics in a way that neither Lenin nor of course Stalin, are.

    Lenin did cite in his work, another Marxist. Lenin’s point reiterated that of Karl Kautsky, who had already objected to similar Economist tendencies in the Austrian party. Kautsky wrote:

"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. . . But this is absolutely untrue. Of course, socialism, as a doctrine, has its roots in modern economic relationships just as the class struggle of the proletariat has, and, like the latter, emerges from the struggle against the capitalist-created poverty and misery of the masses. But socialism and the class struggle arise side by side and not one out of the other; each arises under different conditions. Modern socialist consciousness can arise only on the basis of profound scientific knowledge. Indeed, modern economic science is as much a condition for socialist production as, say, modern technology, and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no matter how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern social process. The vehicle of science is not the proletariat, but the bourgeois intelligentsia [K.K.'s italics]:
Kautsky from Neue Zeit, 1901-1902, XX, I, No.3, p.79; Cited by Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 375; or at
    Lenin specifically says there can be no middle ground – either one or the other: Either Social-Democracy or bourgeois thought: "Since there can be no talk of an independent ideology formulated by the working masses themselves in the process of their movement, the only choice is -- either bourgeois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course (for mankind has not created a "third" ideology, and, moreover, in a society torn by class antagonisms there can never be a non-class or an above-class ideology). Hence, to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology. There is much talk of spontaneity. But the spontaneous development of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology, to its development along the lines of the Credo programme; for the spontaneous working-class movement is trade-unionism, ..and trade unionism means the ideological enslavement of the workers by the bourgeoisie. Hence, our task, the task of Social-Democracy, is to combat spontaneity, to divert the working-class movement from this spontaneous, trade-unionist striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and to bring it under the wing of revolutionary Social Democracy. "Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 384; or at     Lenin specifically points out that workers do take part in the creation of ideology. But this is only possible, after they have adopted Social Democratic principles when they become in effect, "socialist theoreticians": "This does not mean, of course, that the workers have no part in creating such an ideology. They take part, however, not as workers, but as socialist theoreticians, as Proudhons and Weitlings; in other words, they take part only when they are able, and to the extent that they are able, more or less, to acquire the knowledge of their age and develop that knowledge. But in order that working men may succeed in this more often, every effort must be made to raise the level of the consciousness of the workers in general; it is necessary that the workers do not confine themselves to the artificially restricted limits of "literature for workers" but that they learn to an increasing degree to master general literature. It would be even truer to say "are not confined", instead of "do not confine themselves", because the workers themselves wish to read and do read all that is written for the intelligentsia, and only a few (bad) intellectuals believe that it is enough "for workers" to be told a few things about factory conditions and to have repeated to them over and over again what has long been known."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 384;
or at

"It is often said that the working class spontaneously gravitates towards socialism. This is perfectly true in the sense that socialist theory reveals the causes of the misery of the working class more profoundly and more correctly than any other theory, and for that reason the workers are able to assimilate it so easily, provided, however, this theory does not itself yield to spontaneity, provided it subordinates spontaneity to itself. Usually this is taken for granted, but it is precisely this which Rabocheye Dyelo forgets or distorts. The working class spontaneously gravitates towards socialism; nevertheless, most widespread (and continuously and diversely revived) bourgeois ideology spontaneously imposes itself upon the working class to a still greater degree."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 386; or at

    As to why the "spontaneous" flow leads inevitably to bourgeois domination, the obvious answer for Lenin was the widespread nature of bourgeois ideology and its experienced and more sophisticated dissemination: "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 socialist ideology, that it is more fully developed, and that it has at its disposal immeasurably more means of dissemination."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p. 386; or at
    5) Workers themselves recognise the need for a political journal and actively support it.

    Far from being the "backward workers", workers were in advance of those who said that their current demands must be restricted to the purely economic, avoiding the political. Lenin cited examples where the workers themselves had flooded the Social-Democrats with information about their political struggles, and the effects this had on building an "exposure literature", that assisted the working class struggle::

"Everyone knows that the economic struggle of the Russian workers underwent widespread development and consolidation simultaneously with the production of "literature" exposing economic (factory and occupational) conditions. .. very soon a veritable passion for exposures was roused among the workers. As soon as the workers realised that the Social-Democratic study circles desired to, and could, supply them with a new kind of leaflet that told the whole truth about their miserable existence, about their unbearably hard toil, and their lack of rights, they began to send in, actually flood us with, correspondence from the factories and workshops. This "exposure literature" created a tremendous sensation…. these "leaflets" were in truth a declaration of war, because the exposures served greatly to agitate the workers; Finally, the employers themselves were compelled to recognise the significance of these leaflets as a declaration of war, ... On more than one occasion, the mere appearance of a leaflet proved sufficient to secure the satisfaction of all or part of the demands put forward. In a word, economic (factory) exposures were and remain an important lever in the economic struggle."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.398; or at
6) Lenin argued that counter-posing economic demands to political demands, as the opportunists did, inhibited the political training of the proletarian – impeded making them "tribunes"
    Lenin’s ideal of the Social Democrat was far more than a trade union secretary, it was to be tribune of the people able to react against all oppressions: "Everyone agrees" that it is necessary to develop the political consciousness of the working class. The question is, how …."the Social-Democrat's ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.423; or at
    The "exposure literature" was not a Social-Democratic political education of itself. The latter went beyond the confines of the wage labour nexus, in order to show the depths of societal oppression. What was then a "political education"? "This, taken by itself, is in essence still not Social-Democratic work, but merely trade union work. … all they achieved was that the sellers of labour power learned to sell their "commodity" on better terms … The question arises, what should political education consist in? Can it be confined to the propaganda of working-class hostility to the autocracy? Of course not. It is not enough to explain to the workers that they are politically oppressed ..Agitation must be conducted with regard to every concrete example of this oppression .. Inasmuch as this oppression affects the most diverse classes of society, inasmuch as it manifests itself in the most varied spheres of life and activity -- vocational, civic, personal, family, religious, scientific, etc., etc. -- is it not evident that we shall not be fulfilling our task of developing the political consciousness of the workers if we do not undertake the organisation of the political exposure of the autocracy in all its aspects? In order to carry on agitation round concrete instances of oppression, these instances must be exposed (as it is necessary to expose factory abuses in order to carry on economic agitation)."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.400-401; or at
    In contrast to the Economists viewpoint that the economic struggle would "draw in more" workers into the political struggle than a wider ranging propaganda, Lenin argued the opposite: "Any and every manifestation of police tyranny and autocratic outrage, not only in connection with the economic struggle, is not one whit less "widely applicable" as a means of "drawing in" the masses. The rural superintendents and the flogging of peasants, the corruption of the officials and the police treatment of 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 and the persecution of the religious sects, the humiliating treatment of soldiers and the barrack methods in the treatment of the students and liberal intellectuals -- all these and a thousand other similar manifestations of tyranny, … Of the sum total of cases in which the workers suffer (either on their own account or on account of those closely connected with them) from tyranny, violence, and the lack of rights, undoubtedly only a small minority represent cases of police tyranny in the trade union struggle as such. Why then should we, beforehand, restrict the scope of political agitation by declaring only one of the means to be "the most widely applicable", when Social-Democrats must have, in addition, other, generally speaking, no less "widely applicable" means?"
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.401-402; or at
    The Economists eschewed the Iskra approach, claiming that it denied the role of reforms. Lenin vigorously rebuts this, pointing out that the reforms have a political component that must be exposed; it was necessary to "subordinate" the reform for the "revolutionary struggle": "Revolutionary Social-Democracy has always included the struggle for reforms as part of its activities. But it utilises "economic" agitation for the purpose of presenting to the government, not only demands for all sorts of measures, but also (and primarily) the demand that it cease to be an autocratic government. Moreover, it considers it its duty to present this demand to the government on the basis, not of the economic struggle alone, but of all manifestations in general of public and political life. In a word, it subordinates the struggle for reforms, as the part to the whole, to the revolutionary struggle for freedom and for socialism."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.405-6; or at
    In fact the training of the proletarian moving to Social Democracy required the broadening of scope to beyond every day concerns, to appreciate the problems of all classes. The Social Democrat responds to all aspects of oppression, affecting all classes. To be restricted only to aspects of oppression of the working class, was not Marxist in Lenin’s view. But this un-restricted vision, would require a broad political education. To achieve that, it was impossible to restrict the propaganda to only the economic aspects: "Working-class consciousness cannot be genuine political consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence, and abuse, no matter what class is affected -- unless they are trained, moreover, to respond from a Social-Democratic point of view and no other. The consciousness of the working masses cannot be genuine class-consciousness, unless the workers learn, from concrete, and above all from topical, political facts and events to observe every other social class in all the manifestations of its intellectual, ethical, and political life; unless they learn to apply in practice 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 consciousness of the working class exclusively, or even mainly, upon itself alone are not Social-Democrats; for the self-knowledge of the working class is indissolubly bound up, not solely with a fully clear theoretical understanding .. as with the practical, understanding -- of the relationships between all the various classes of modern society, acquired through the experience of political life. For this reason the conception of the economic struggle as the most widely applicable means of drawing the masses into the political movement, which our Economists preach, is so extremely harmful and reactionary in its practical significance. In order to become a Social-Democrat, the worker must have a clear picture in his mind of the economic nature and the social and political features of the landlord and the priest, the high state official and the peasant, the student and the vagabond; he must know their strong and weak points; he must grasp the meaning of all the catchwords and sophisms by which each class and each stratum camouflages its selfish strivings and its real "inner workings"; he must understand what interests are reflected by certain institutions and certain laws and how they are reflected. But this "clear picture" cannot be obtained from any book. It can be obtained only from living examples and from exposures that follow close upon what is going on about us at a given moment; upon what is being discussed, in whispers perhaps, by each one in his own way; upon what finds expression in such and such events, in such and such statistics, in such and such court sentences, etc., etc. These comprehensive political exposures are an essential and fundamental condition for training the masses in revolutionary activity."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.412; or at
    This type of education was not only important in autocratic Russia, but even in states where there was political freedom. It was an essential and universal feature of the Social-Democratic training: "In reality, it is possible to "raise the activity of the working masses" only when this activity is not restricted to "political agitation on an economic basis". A basic condition for the necessary expansion of political agitation is the organisation of comprehensive political exposure. In no way except by means of such exposures can the masses be trained in political consciousness and revolutionary activity. Hence, activity of this kind is one of the most important functions of international Social-Democracy as a whole, for even political freedom does not in any way eliminate exposures; it merely shifts somewhat their sphere of direction."

Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.412

        7) Lenin asked; "Why had there not been a successful revolution till this time? "

    Since daily life and the realities of the police state incited to revolution, it was pertinent to ask why this had not yet happened. Lenin’s answer was that the social democrats had been operating in a very amateurish manner. It was not the workers who should be blamed, but the social democrats who, in reality were "lagging behind" the workers development:

"Why do the Russian workers still manifest little revolutionary activity in response to the brutal treatment of the people by the police, the persecution of religious sects, the flogging of peasants, the outrageous censorship, the torture of soldiers, the persecution of the most innocent cultural undertakings, etc.? Is it because the "economic struggle" does not "stimulate" them to this, because such activity does not "promise palpable results", because it produces little that is "positive"? To adopt such an opinion, we repeat, is merely to direct the charge where it does not belong, to blame the working masses for one's own philistinism (or Bernsteinism). We must blame ourselves, our lagging behind the mass movement, for still being unable to organise sufficiently wide, striking, and rapid exposures of all the shameful 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 peasants and the authors are being abused and outraged by those same dark forces that are oppressing and crushing him at every step of his life. Feeling that, he himself will be filled with an irresistible desire to react, and he will know how to hoot the censors one day, on another day to demonstrate outside the house of a governor who has brutally suppressed a peasant uprising, on still another day to teach a lesson to the gendarmes in surplices who are doing the work of the Holy Inquisition, etc. As yet we have done very little, almost nothing, to bring before the working masses prompt exposures on all possible issues. Many of us as yet do not recognise this as our bounden duty but trail spontaneously in the wake of the "drab everyday struggle", in the narrow confines of factory life.. ….Our business as Social-Democratic publicists is to deepen, expand, and intensify political exposures and political agitation."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.413-414; or at
    The goal then of the Social Democratic worker will perhaps take longer, and be less quickly evident. But the wider goal is essential. Moreover, the workers themselves were demanding higher levels of education and a broader understanding of their political situation: "Our Economists, .. adapted themselves to the backward workers. But .. the revolutionary worker .. will indignantly reject all this talk about.. "palpable results", etc., .. Such a worker will say to .. Rabochaya Mysl: you . . shirk your proper duties, .. the police themselves often take the initiative in lending the economic struggle a political character, and the workers themselves learn to understand whom the government supports. .. we are already displaying .. in our everyday, limited trade union work ... But such activity is not enough for us; we are not children to be fed on the thin gruel of "economic" politics alone; we want to know everything that others know, we want to learn the details of all aspects of political life and to take part actively in every single political event. .. the intellectuals must talk to us less of what we already know, and tell us more about what we do not yet know and what we can never learn from our factory and "economic" experience, namely, political knowledge. You intellectuals can acquire this knowledge, and it is your duty to bring it to us in a hundred- and a thousand-fold greater measure than you have done up to now; and you must bring it to us, not only in the form of discussions, pamphlets, and articles (which very often -- pardon our frankness -- are rather dull), but precisely in the form of vivid exposures of what our government and our governing classes are doing at this very moment in all spheres of life. "
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.415-417; or at
 8) Lenin pointed out the close connection between Economism and Terrorism
    Lenin credited this point to Pavel .B.Axelrod, who had warned of the end-results of "Social-Democratic wavering", in a work of 1897 (Present Tasks and Tactics). Lenin would later develop these thoughts more fully and into a new direction, in "Left Wing Communism-An Infantile Disorder". But at this juncture, Lenin linked the degeneration of the Economists away from Marxism, with the renewed emphasis of individual Terrorism in a section of the Russian left.
    This was resurrected by the descendants of the old Narodniks, re-born as the Social-Revolutionaries, exemplified by the journal Svoboda. The link between the two was simply their obeisance to the god of "spontaneity". The herald of Russian revisionism, the Credo, had cited both Economism and individual terrorism. The writers of the Credo had proposed that Economism would serve the "workers", and Terror was proposed to serve the ‘intellectuals’: "The Economists and the present-day terrorists have one common root, namely, subservience to spontaneity,.. At first sight, our assertion may appear paradoxical, so great is the difference between those who stress the "drab everyday struggle" and those who call for the most self sacrificing struggle of individuals. But this is no paradox. The Economists and the terrorists merely bow to different poles of spontaneity; the Economists bow to the spontaneity of "the labour movement pure and simple", while the terrorists bow to the spontaneity of the passionate indignation of intellectuals, who lack the ability or opportunity to connect the revolutionary struggle and the working-class movement into an integral whole. It is difficult indeed for those who have lost their belief, or who have never believed, that this is possible, to find some outlet for their indignation and revolutionary energy other than terror. …the notorious Credo programme: …says that in the economic struggle the workers "come up against the political regime and let the intellectuals conduct the political struggle by their own efforts -- with the aid of terror, of course! This is an absolutely logical and inevitable conclusion which must be insisted on …..calls for terror and calls to lend the economic struggle itself a political character are merely two different forms of evading the most pressing duty now resting upon Russian revolutionaries, namely, the organisation of comprehensive political agitation. Svoboda desires to substitute terror for agitation, openly admitting that "as soon as intensified and strenuous agitation is begun among the masses the excitative function of terror will be ended" (The Regeneration of Revolutionism, p. 68). This proves precisely that both the terrorists and the Economists underestimate the revolutionary activity of the masses. ..and whereas the one group goes out in search of artificial "excitants", the other talks about "concrete demands". But both fail to devote sufficient attention to the development of their own activity in political agitation and in the organisation of political exposures. And no other work can serve as a substitute for this task either at the present time or at any other."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.418-419; 420; or at
    Lenin mocked the fragility of the Terrorist view of the value of such "excitations" as individual terror. He also notes the Social-Revolutionaries implicitly acknowledge that they cannot '‘terrorise"" the government, by dropping of the old Narodnik claim.

            9) The Practical Tasks

   Here, Lenin‘s prior article "Where to Begin?" is amplified and expressed even more vociferously than before. This was on the urgent need for a professional organisation of revolutionaries; and a nation-wide, an All-Russian paper – to become the "Tribune of the People". The term "nation wide", meant that the paper did not neglect any oppressed classes of the nation. The paper should aim to "expose" all inequity, and the working class would be the "ideal audience" for this, but if the paper were really an organiser, it would become the vanguard. As the vanguard it would draw to itself, even non-working-class exposers:

"The ideal audience for political exposure is the working class, which is first and foremost in need of all-round and live political knowledge, and is most capable of converting this knowledge into active struggle, even when that struggle does not promise "palpable results". A tribune for nation-wide exposures can be only an all-Russia newspaper. . . In our time only a party that will organise really nation-wide exposures can become the vanguard of the revolutionary forces. The word "nation-wide" has a very profound meaning. The overwhelming majority of the non-working- class exposers (be it remembered that in order to become the vanguard, we must attract other classes) are sober politicians and level-headed men of affairs. 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 can really have effect, and that we represent a political force. In order to become such a force in the eyes of outsiders, much persistent and stubborn work is required to raise our own consciousness, initiative, and energy.. To accomplish this it is not enough to attach a "vanguard" label to rearguard theory and practice."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.430-431; or at
    The role of the Social Democrat Tribune embraced "theoretician, propagandist and agitator. Moreover to be a vanguardist – intense knowledge and study was required: "We must "go among all classes of the population" as theoreticians, as propagandists, as agitators, and as organisers. No one doubts that the theoretical work of Social-Democrats should aim at studying all the specific features of the social and political condition of the various classes. .. He is no Social-Democrat who forgets in practice his obligation to be ahead of all in raising, accentuating, and solving every general democratic question.. . For it is not enough to call ourselves the "vanguard", the advanced contingent; we must act in such a way that all the other contingents recognise and are obliged to admit that we are marching in the vanguard. ….A "vanguard" which fears that consciousness will outstrip spontaneity, which fears to put forward a bold "plan" that would compel general recognition even among those who differ with us. Are they not confusing "vanguard" with "rearguard" ?"
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.p.425, 427; or at
    The Social Democrats had more than enough forces at that time. The question was how to draw them in and how to enable them to be "our own people": "Have we sufficient forces to direct our propaganda and agitation among all social classes? Most certainly. … .gigantic forces have been attracted to the movement. … A basic political and organisational shortcoming of our movement is our inability to utilise all these forces and give them appropriate work (we shall deal with this more fully in the next chapter).The overwhelming majority of these forces entirely lack the opportunity of "going among the workers", so that there are no grounds for fearing that we shall divert forces from our main work. In order to be able to provide the workers with real, comprehensive, and live political knowledge, we must have "our own people", Social-Democrats, everywhere, among all social strata, and in all positions from which we can learn the inner springs of our state mechanism. Such people are required, not only for propaganda and agitation, but in a still larger measure for organisation."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.429.or at
    Marxists should not be concerned that this would dilute the class content of the party, since the "nation-wide exposures" were to be performed with "no concessions or distortions"; it was to be coordinated and interpreted by a revolutionary party: "But if we have to undertake the organisation of a really nationwide exposure of the government, in what way will then the class character of our movement be expressed? .. we Social-Democrats will organise these nation-wide exposures; all questions raised by the agitation will he explained in a consistently Social-Democratic spirit, without any concessions to deliberate or un-deliberate distortions of Marxism; the all-round political agitation will be conducted by a party which unites into one inseparable whole the assault on the government in the name of the entire people, the revolutionary training of the proletariat, and the safeguarding of its political independence, the guidance of the economic struggle of the working class, and the utilisation of all its spontaneous conflicts with its exploiters which rouse and bring into our camp increasing numbers of the proletariat."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.432; or at
    Lenin shows the link between Economism and what he calls "primitiveness". In a memorable metaphor, he likens the current amateurishness of practical work, pitched against a highly organised police force amongst other enemies as a warfare of "clubs" against "modern troops". Even workers were contemptuous of the activity of the "intellectuals": One cannot help comparing this kind of warfare with that conducted by a mass of peasants, armed with clubs, against modern troops. And one can only wonder at the vitality of the movement which expanded, grew, and scored victories despite the total lack of training on the part of the fighters. …Things have reached such a pass that in several places the workers, because of our lack of self-restraint and the inability to maintain secrecy, begin to lose faith in the intellectuals and to avoid them; the intellectuals, they say, are much too careless and cause police raids! Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the movement is aware that all thinking Social-Democrats have at last begun to regard these amateurish methods as a disease." Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.442-443; or at     The keynotes of this "primitiveness" were the refusal to take seriously the matter of professionally organizing . Pretexts such as "the workers had not advance enough" were coupled with ‘theories of "excitative terror" or of unleashing a "general strike". But : "Both these trends, the opportunists and the "revolutionists", bow to the prevailing amateurism; neither believes that it can be eliminated, neither understands our primary and imperative practical task to establish an organisation of revolutionaries capable of lending energy, stability, and continuity to the political struggle."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.446; or at
    The essence of what was needed to counter act "amateurishness", was "professionalism", in trained revolutionaries who could match and outwit the political police. It again boiled down to the relations between conscious revolutionaries to the labour movement: "Workers, average people of the masses, are capable of displaying enormous energy and self sacrifice in strikes and in street, battles with the police and the troops, and are capable (in fact, are alone capable) of determining the outcome of our entire movement -- but the struggle against the political police requires special qualities; it requires professional revolutionaries. And we must see to it, not only that the masses "advance" concrete demands, but that the masses of the workers "advance" an increasing number of such professional revolutionaries. Thus, we have reached the question of the relation between an organisation of professional revolutionaries and the labour movement pure and simple."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.450;or at
    But what are the characteristics of such a professional organisation? Lenin identifies them in simple terms and lists them as follows. The reference to a "dozen wise men" was to rebut the claims by the Social-revolutionaries that any professional cadre was likely to be picked up by the police and thereby risk wiping out the movement. Lenin refutes this argument, saying that the movement cannot be wiped out because of its tap roots in the class: "A dozen wise men can be more easily wiped out than a hundred fools." …(But).. The fact is, of course, that our movement cannot be unearthed, for the very reason that it has countless thousands of roots deep down among the masses; but that is not the point at issue. As far as "deep roots" are concerned, we cannot be "unearthed" even now, despite all our amateurism, . . . I assert that it is far more difficult to unearth a dozen wise men than a hundred fools. . . by "wise men", in connection with organisation, I mean professional revolutionaries, irrespective of whether they have developed from among students or working men. I assert: (1) that no revolutionary movement can endure without a stable organisation of leaders maintaining continuity; (2) that the broader the popular mass drawn spontaneously into the struggle, which forms the basis of the movement and participates in it, the more urgent the need for such an organisation, and the more solid this organisation must be (for it is much easier for all sorts of demagogues to side-track the more backward sections of the masses); (3) that such an organisation must consist chiefly of people professionally engaged in revolutionary activity; (4) that in an autocratic state, the more we confine the membership of such an organisation to people who are professionally engaged in revolutionary activity and who have been professionally trained in the art of combating the political police, the more difficult will it be to unearth the organisation; and (5) the greater will be the number of people from the working class and from the other social classes who will be able to join the movement and perform active work in it."
Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.462; or at
    The astonishing breadth of Lenin’s views is shown by the meticulous detail in which he now outlines what the relationship between a "smaller secretive body" is to the larger mass of workers and oppressed peoples. Here he directly challenges the stereotype that this ‘secretive’ professional body will narrow the scope of work. Lenin argues that it will do exactly the opposite and broaden the revolution, and he shows how this will occur. The trained professionals will enable the broadening of work to all circles of society. Lenin recognises that this view will be labeled as ""undemocratic". Indeed this charge, as the one of being a "Robespierre" was soon to be hurled at him and his followers. Here, Lenin simply wishes to drive home the necessity for professional organisations: "We can never give a mass organisation that degree of secrecy without which there can be no question of persistent and continuous struggle against the government. To concentrate all secret functions in the hands of as small a number of professional revolutionaries as possible does not mean that the latter will "do the thinking for all" and that the rank and file will not take an active part in the movement. On the contrary, the membership will promote increasing numbers of the professional revolutionaries from its ranks; for it will know that it is not enough for a few students and for a few working men waging the economic struggle to gather in order to form a "committee", but that it takes years to train oneself to be a professional revolutionary; and the rank and file will "think", not only of amateurish methods, but of such training. Centralisation of the secret functions of the organisation by no means implies centralisation of all the functions of the movement. Active participation of the widest masses in the illegal press will not diminish because a "dozen" professional revolutionaries centralise the secret functions connected with this work; on the contrary, it will increase tenfold. In this way, and in this way alone, shall we ensure that reading the illegal press, writing for it, and to some extent even distributing it, will almost cease to be secret work, for the police will soon come to realise the folly and impossibility of judicial and administrative red-tape procedure over every copy of a publication that is being distributed in the thousands. This holds not only for the press, but for every function of the movement, even for demonstrations. The active and widespread participation of the masses will not suffer; on the contrary, it will benefit by the fact that a "dozen" experienced revolutionaries, trained professionally no less than the police, will centralise all the secret aspects of the work -- the drawing up of leaflets, the working out of approximate plans; and the appointing of bodies of leaders for each urban district, for each institution, etc. (I know that exception will be taken to my "undemocratic" views, but I shall reply below fully to this anything but intelligent objection.) Centralisation of the most secret functions in an organisation of revolutionaries will not diminish, but rather increase the extent and enhance the quality of the activity of a large number of other organisations that are intended for a broad public and are therefore as loose and as non-secret as possible, such as workers' trade unions; workers' self-education circles and circles for reading illegal literature; and socialist, as well as democratic, circles among all other sections of the population; etc., etc."
Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.465-466; or at
10) Lenin rebuts the charge that adopting this strategy of professionalism, is to repeat the old Narodnik mistakes.

    Since all of this was much more serious about the ultimate goal – revolution – than were the Economists, the charge kept surfacing that the model being proposed by Lenin was simply Nardonism. Lenin firstly did not view this as a shameful charge – he pointed to the large honorable section of the Narodniks struggles, just as Marx and Engels had done before him.
    He pointed out there was a confusion about the catch all title of the term "Narodnya Volya" owing to the ignorance of even the Social-Democrats.
   He also pointed out that the main error of the Narodniks had been to have an incorrect theory. Finally he said that to reject a confining of the struggle for "conspiracy’ – did not mean that one should reject "the need for a strong revolutionary organisation":

"We were not in the least surprised, therefore, when, soon after the appearance of Iskra, a comrade informed us that the Social-Democrats in the town of X describe Iskra as a Narodnaya Volya organ. We, of course, were flattered by this accusation; for what decent Social-Democrat has not been accused by the Economists of being a Narodnaya Volya sympathiser? These accusations are the result of a twofold misunderstanding. First, the history of the revolutionary movement is so little known among us that the name "Narodnaya Volya" is used to denote any idea of a militant centralised organisation which declares determined war upon tsarism. But the magnificent organisation that the revolutionaries had in the seventies, and that should serve us as a model, was not established by the Narodnaya Volya, but by the Zemlya i Volya, which split up into the Chorny Peredel and the Narodnaya Volya. Consequently, to regard a militant revolutionary organisation as something specifically Narodnaya Volya in character is absurd both historically and logically; for no revolutionary trend, if it seriously thinks of struggle, can dispense with such an organisation. The mistake the Narodnaya Volya committed was not in striving to enlist all the discontented in the organisation and to direct this organisation to resolute struggle against the autocracy; on the contrary, that was its great historical merit. The mistake was in relying on a theory which in substance was not a revolutionary theory at all, and the Narodnaya Volya members either did not know how, or were unable, to link their movement inseparably with the class struggle in the developing capitalist society. . . . Secondly, many people, including apparently B. Krichevsky (Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 18), misunderstand the polemics that Social-Democrats have always waged against the "conspiratorial" view of the political struggle. We have always protested, and will, of course, continue to protest against confining the political struggle to conspiracy. But this does not, of course, mean that we deny the need for a strong revolutionary organisation."
Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.474-475; or at
            11) There is no inherent Lack of Democratic control. in such a party

    The fear of "loss of democratic control" Lenin replaced with honest comradely relations. Indeed it was later to be supplemented by the notion of Democratic centralism.

"The only serious organisational principle for the active workers of our movement should be the strictest secrecy, the strictest selection of members, and the training of professional revolutionaries. Given these qualities, something even more than "democratism" would be guaranteed to us, namely, complete, comradely, mutual confidence among revolutionaries. This is absolutely essential for us, because there can be no question of replacing it by general democratic control in Russia. It would be a great mistake to believe that the impossibility of establishing real "democratic" control renders the members of the revolutionary organisation beyond control altogether. … they have a lively sense of their responsibility, knowing as they do from experience that an organisation of real revolutionaries will stop at nothing to rid itself of an unworthy member. Moreover, there is a fairly well-developed public opinion in Russian (and international) revolutionary circles which ..sternly and ruthlessly punishes every departure from the duties of comradeship ... Take all this into consideration and you will realise that this talk and these resolutions about "anti-democratic tendencies" have the musty odour of the playing at generals which is indulged in abroad."
Vladimir I.; "What Is To Be Done?"; Ibid; p.. 480; or at
    Lenin also pointed out the example from Mrs.Webb’s history of Trade Unionism, where ‘primitive democracy’, where all workers did everything – simply had to be abandoned due to the need for specialised skills.

    In response to a letter from a reader written in 1902, Lenin clarified the exact organisational structure, in a publication of September 1902. It is here he used the term "Central Committee," and defined its way of relating to the committees of the local organisation:

"Only a special central group (let us call it the Central Committee, say) can be the direct practical leader of the movement, maintaining personal connections with all the committees, embracing all the best revolutionary forces among the Russian Social-Democrats, and managing all the general affairs of the Party, such as the distribution of literature, the issuing of leaflets, the allocation of forces, the appointment of individuals and groups to take charge of special undertakings, the preparation of demonstrations and an uprising on an all-Russian scale, etc. Since the strictest secrecy of organisation and preservation of continuity of the movement is essential, our Party can and should have two leading centres: a C.O. (Central Organ) and a C. C. (Central Committee). The former should be responsible for ideological leadership, and the latter for direct and practical leadership. Unity of action and the necessary solidarity between these groups should be ensured, not only by a single Party programme, but also by the composition of the two groups (both groups, the C.O. and the C.C., should be made up of people who are in complete harmony with one another), and by the institution of regular and systematic joint conferences. Only then will the C.O., on the one hand, be placed beyond the reach of the Russian gendarmes and assured of consistency and continuity, while, on the other hand, the C.C. will always be at one with the C.O. on all essential matters and have sufficient freedom to take direct charge of all the practical aspects of the movement."
Lenin, Vladimir I.; "A Letter To A Comrade On Our Organisational Tasks"; Collected Works, Moscow, 1964; Vol. 6, pp. 234-235; also at:
Lenin stressed here that workers were to especially trained to become part of the committees: "There should be only one committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, and it should consist of fully convinced Social-Democrats who devote themselves entirely to Social-Democratic activities. We should particularly see to it that, as many workers as possible become fully class-conscious and professional revolutionaries and members of the committee. (NB. We must try to get on the committee revolutionary workers who have the greatest contacts and the best "reputation" among the mass of the workers.) Once there is a single and not a dual committee, the matter of the committee members personally knowing many workers is of particular importance. "Lenin, Vladimir I.; "A Letter To A Comrade On Our Organisational Tasks"; Collected Works, Moscow, 1964; Vol. 6, p.236; also at: In conclusion, Lenin strongly argued for the party that would revolutionise the world. It remained to be seen, who would support this vision, and who would attack it in practice? The Storm was coming.



ML Review     |     Alliance ML     |   WB Bland Archive    |    Albania Society