Golos Sotsial-Demokrata and Cherevanin

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 28 November 1909

Proletary No. 50, November 28 (December 11), 1909. Published according to the text in Proletary.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 16, pages 103-105.
Collection(s): Proletary

For the article “‘Golos Sotsial-Demokrata’ and Cherevanin” Lenin used his remarks on Cherevanin’s book The Contemporary Situation and the Possible Future, and especially the “summary of important remarks” written by him on the cover at the end of this book.

Comrade Cherevanin is the prototype and model of the confirmed liquidator among the Mensheviks. lie has made this perfectly clear in his well-known book The Proletariat, etc. Liquidationism is so strongly pronounced in this book that the well-known Dutch woman writer and Marxist, Roland-Holst, the author of the preface to the German translation, could not refrain from expressing her protest against the distortion of Marxism and its replacement by revisionism. At that time the editorial board of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata printed a repudiation of Cherevanin in Vorwärts, declaring that leading Mensheviks do not agree with him. Proletary pointed out the hypocrisy of such a repudiation, since it was not reprinted in Golos and was not accompanied by a systematic explanation of Cherevanin’s “mistakes” in the Russian press.[1] Is not this exactly how bourgeois ministers behave, beginning with Stolypin and ending with Briand: by making reservations, corrections, by repudiating an, over-zealous kindred-spirit and over-ardent supporter, and by continuing the old line under this cover?

Golos No. 16-17 publishes a letter from Cherevanin to the editors with its comment. Proletary is accused of “slander” because we allegedly “concealed” from the public that Cherevanin himself “corrected the mistake” in his book: The Contemporary Situation and the Possible Future (Moscow, 1908).

We shall show our readers once again what are the methods of the Golosists, and what it means when they accuse Proletary of “slandering” them as liquidators.

We shall limit ourselves to a few quotations from Cherevanin’s above-mentioned new book. Page 173: “In general I do not retract anything of the analysis which I gave in my book: The Proletariat in the Revolution. The proletariat and the Social-Democrats have unquestionably made a number of mistakes which were bound to impede the victory of the revolution,even if this victory had been possible [Cherevanin’s italics]. But now the question, must be asked whether this victory was really possible and whether the mistakes of the proletariat and the Social-Democratic Party were the only causes of the defeat of the revolution. The question itself suggests the answer. The defeat of the revolution is so pro found and the reign of the reaction, for the next few years at least, is so secure that it would be quite impossible to refer the causes of this to any mistakes of the proletariat. Here, evidently, it is a question not of mistakes but of deeper causes.”

There, according to Golos, you have Cherevanin’s “correction of the mistake”! Cherevanin does not retract his “analysis”, but deepens it, adding quite a number of new gems (such as the statistical definition of the “forces of revolution” as one quarter of the total population, 21.5%-28%; we shall discuss this gem another time!). To the thesis that the revolutionary proletariat made mistakes, Cherevanin adds: the revolution did not have the “possible” support (p. 197, Cherevanin’s italics) of over one quarter of the population—and the Golosists call this a “correction” and loudly accuse Proletary of slander.

Page 176: “Let us imagine that the Mensheviks had all along adhered consistently to their Menshevik principles and had not fallen under the influence of the revolutionary intoxication of the Bolsheviks, by taking part in the November strike in St. Petersburg, the forcible introduction of the 8-hour day and the boycott of the First Duma.” (Conclusion: the tactics of the proletariat would have improved, but defeat would have followed just the same.)

Page 138: “Perhaps the revolutionary and oppositional [listen to this!] parties in the stormy year of 1905 went too far in their expectations of’ a radical break-up of the agrarian and political relations.”

That should be enough, it seems? Liquidationism and renegacy repeated and aggravated, Golos Sotsial-Demokrata calls a correction. Tomorrow a German translation of The Contemporary Situation will come out—the Golosists will publish a new repudiation for the Germans—Cherevanin will publish a new “reservation”—the liquidationist preaching will be intensified—Golos will wax nobly indignant at being slanderously accused of liquidationism. An old story, but ever new.

Maslov, Martov and Potresov simply cannot understand, not for the life of them, what was the “spirit” in the writings of Potresov that—at long last!—caused even Plekhanov, a Marxist who had gone to such lengths in manoeuvring round the Cadets, to flare up. So you don’t understand, my dear Golosists? And after these quotations from Cherevanin’ s “corrected” book you still don’t understand? How convenient it is sometimes to be dense!

  1. See present edition, Vol. 15, pp. 452-60.—Ed.