Dead Liquidationism and the Living Rech
|Written||24 July 1913|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 285-287.
The first issue of the liquidators’ newspaper Zhivaya Zhizn carried an article by L. M. entitled “On an Old Theme”. We will leave until another occasion the little tricks the enthusiastic author got up to in his haste to “grab by the coat-tails” the Kautsky who argued with Rosa Luxemburg. L. M. copies the worn-out method of the liberals—that of exaggerating this sort of dispute and depicting it as important in principle by maintaining a complete silence on the position of the German opportunists (reformists)!
Mr. L. M. likes holding Kautsky by the coat-tails, but when speaking of “German Social-Democratic literature” he prefers not to mention—out of modesty, no doubt—the extensive and, indeed, fundamentally important literature put out by reformists related in type to L. M. and Zhivaya Zhizn.
I repeat, this will be dealt with another time.
L. M. drags the Germans into Russian affairs by the hair, as the saying goes. The first issue of Zhivaya Zhizn informs us of these affairs through the lips of L. M.:
... without a struggle for freedom of association “Russian workers cannot get out of the intolerable situation that dooms them to run like squirrels in a cage, to spend tremendous effort in periodical mass actions of one and the same kind that are rewarded neither by organisational growth nor a strengthening of the political positions gained”. The efforts of the advanced proletarians (writes L. M., outlining the ideas of advanced liberals) should be directed toward “making the working class capable of giving battle and winning victories, not only in one-day strikes but also in all other possible fields”.
These words contain the essence of the “theory” of the liquidators of the working-class party. “Running like a squirrel in a cage”—those words will become famous. They should be repeated in every issue of Zhivaya Zhizn, they should become the motto of its whole trend. This is the “slogan” of the liquidators!
In his wisdom, L. M. probably regards making petitions as “other fields” and not “running like a squirrel in a cage”? Then say so straight out, don’t be ashamed, gentlemen!
And here you have the real live newspaper Rech—live be cause it advocates not the dead doctrine of the liquidators but living class interests (the interests of the bourgeoisie, of course, and not the proletariat). Compare the passages from Zhivaya Zhizn of July 11 quoted above with the leading article in Rech of July 6.
The Rech leading article declares that the working-class movement in 1905 was “national, but in 1913 is a class movement” and with ecstatic enthusiasm repeats the attacks made by the liquidators on the “strike craze”, repeats the statement made by the liquidators that “the workers can and must struggle for freedom of speech, assembly and association by other more complicated [really?] political means and not by strikes alone”.
It stands to reason that the liberals, like L. M., maintain a modest silence on precisely what “complicated” means they have in mind. The liberals, on the other hand, say straight out that with the introduction of freedom of association and so on, it will be possible, they are convinced, “to conduct a serious struggle against the chaotic, casual strikes that disorganise industry” (the same Rech leading article).
We shall permit ourselves only one remark—everybody has now recognised the fact of a new wave of strikes, even purely economic strikes. There is nothing more ridiculous and pitiful than to speak of them as “casual”.
The class position of the liberals is clear. Any worker will immediately understand their position, will immediately discern the interests of the bourgeoisie in the vague phrases about “complicated” methods. The living Rech expresses the interests of the bourgeoisie. Dead liquidationism in Zhivaya Zhizn is helplessly limping along behind the liberals and is unable to say anything clear and straight forward about “other fields” and can only get angry and churn out abuse of the “running like squirrels in a cage” variety....
A noteworthy and at the same time shameful slogan that the liquidators have descended to!
- Literally, “Living Life”.—Ed.
- L. M.—L. Martov, one of the Menshevik leaders.