Instructive Speeches

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Mr. Izgoyev, the well-known renegade, who was a Social-Democrat until 1905, but rapidly “grew wiser” ... until he reached a Right-liberal position after October 17, frequently turns his benevolent attention to Social-Democracy in Russkaya Mysl, the chief organ of “Octobrist” or counter-revolutionary liberalism.

We can only recommend workers who wish to gain a full understanding of the serious problems of working-class politics to read Mr. Izgoyev’s article in the last issue of Russkaya Mysl for June of this year.

It is worth while thinking again and again over the exuberant praises of liquidationist ideology and tactics (i.e., the basic principles of liquidationism) that Mr. Izgoyev so generously dispenses. The liberals are bound to praise the principles and tactics of liberal working-class politicians!

It is worth while thinking again and again over the independent tactical considerations of Mr. Izgoyev, who sympathises whole-heartedly with the liquidators, and who has, after all, been through “the Marxist elementary school” and understands the necessity of seeking the serious roots of the serious struggle of Party members against the liquidators.

Unfortunately we must confine ourselves here to quoting very brief passages from Mr. Izgoyev’s instructive article and to giving them the briefest and most incomplete explanation.

In Mr. Izgoyev’s opinion, the success of Bolshevism depends on “what hopes there are for the peaceful development of Russia on constitutional lines, even if it is only of the German type. Was it not found possible in Germany to have a monarchist constitution with civil liberties, without additional security measures and with a widely developed Social-Democratic workers’ party? Is this possible in Russia or not? As the scales turn to one side or the other, so the chances of the liquidators and the Bolsheviks rise and fall....

“If no limit is set to the pressure of reaction, and if the constitutional forces in Russia do not prove sufficient for peaceful state reforms, Bolshevism will undoubtedly be victorious and will drive the liquidators into the back ground.” Mr. Izgoyev himself considers the Bolsheviks to be anarchists and the liquidators “true Social-Democrats”, who quite reasonably discarded the first two points of the Bolshevik platform and replaced them by freedom of association!

“The storm will pass,” writes Mr. Izgoyev, “the time for positive work will come and the liquidators will again (!!?) stand at the head of the working class.” Such are the dreams of Mr. Izgoyev. The tactics of the liquidators will, he says, be magnificent when “the storm passes”.... And here are his “ideas on tactics”:

“If we think deeply over Bolshevik tactics we have to admit that they are based on the conviction that the struggle for the monarchist constitution in Russia ... [Mr. Izgoyev’s dots] ended on June 3. The struggle may, perhaps, go on for direct or consistent democracy, but, given the cardinal Russian historical basis, there cannot be any other constitution than that of June 3. Russian constitutionalists can only count on a constitution without civil liberties, but containing exceptional conditions. We consider the Bolshevik point of view, although at the opposite pole, to he related to that of the Black Hundreds, and to be erroneous and politically harmful. It cannot be denied, however, that it has some content. The continuing inability of the Russian constitutionalists to give the country a guarantee of a system based on law may, in the future, even justify the pessimism of the Bolsheviks. But so far, as Luch correctly notes ... [of course!] ... it leads only to mingling with semi-anarchist elements (here Mr. Izgoyev, gasping with admiration for Luch, follows up with quotations from liquidationist articles).

Mr. Izgoyev calls pessimism in respect of the landowners and the bourgeoisie pessimism in general. Is not such pessimism inseparably connected with optimism in respect of, first and foremost, the proletariat, and secondly, of the petty-bourgeois working masses—this is something Mr. Izgoyev is afraid to consider. Of course, he has good reason to be afraid!

The strangest thing about the kisses this renegade bestows on the liquidators, the most instructive thing in the speeches of this liberal, is that while he sympathises whole-heartedly with the liquidators he will not risk denying the content of Bolshevik tactics! He, a supporter of “peaceful” development and liquidationist opportunism, is quite unable to promise that such a development will be victorious! He, a rabid enemy of Bolshevism, who showers invective upon us (anarchists, Blanquists, indulging in self-praise, etc., etc.), he, the bosom friend of the liquidators, is compelled to admit that Bolshevism will be victorious if “the constitutional forces in Russia do not prove sufficient” (i.e., if they prove to be just what they are today...)!

The very angry Mr. Izgoyev, who has a good knowledge of Social-Democratic affairs, is not very bright and did not notice that all these considerations[1] . . . . . . . . removed the fig-leaf from Messrs. F. D., L. S., Yezhov, Larin, Martov, Potresov & Co.

Thank you, thank you very much, Mr. Izgoyev, you who are so angry with the Bolsheviks! The truth hurts. And you have accidentally hurt your liquidator friends with the truth. You have embraced them so “gently” that they are being strangled in your embrace.

Just a few words on a purely historical question. Why is it that the constitution which was “found possible” in Germany is more to the liking of counter-revolutionary liberalism than the French constitution? Only because, my angry but not very bright Mr. Izgoyev, that constitution turned out to be the mathematical resultant of the efforts of Bismarck and the liberals, who feared civil liberties for the workers, and of the efforts of the workers who were struggling for the lull democratisation of Germany in the forties, in the fifties and in the sixties. The German workers proved weak at that time. Therefore Bismarck and the Prussian liberals were one-half victorious. If the German workers had been stronger, Bismarck would have been one-quarter victorious. If they had been still stronger, Bismarck would not have been victorious at all. Germany obtained civil liberties despite Bismarck, despite the Prussian liberals and only because of the persistent and stubborn efforts of the working class (partly, also, of the petty-bourgeois democrats, but only to a very small extent) to achieve the fullest possible democratisation.

Don’t you understand anything, Mr. Izgoyev? Don’t you understand that history justified “Bolshevik” tactics in Germany, too? Be less angry with the Bolsheviks, be less “kind” to the liquidators, and perhaps you will come to understand.

V. I.

(or unsigned)

P. S. If this is not suitable please pass it on to Prosveshcheniye. I think it would be better printed as a satirical piece in Pravda.

  1. The next page of the manuscript has not been found.—Ed.