Letter to Georgi Plekhanov, June 23, 1902

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June 23, 1902

Dear G. V.,

A great weight fell from my shoulders when I received your letter, which put an end to thoughts of “internecine war”. The more this last seemed inevitable the greater the gloom such thoughts aroused, since the consequences for the Party would be most unfortunate....

I shall be very glad, when we meet, to have a talk with you about the beginning of the “affair” in Munich,[1] not, of course, to rehash the past, but to discover for myself what it was that offended you at the time. That I had no intention of offending you, you are of course aware.

V. I. has shown me also your letter about the article, i.e., your proposal to be given an opportunity of expressing your opinion in your programmatic article. Personally, I am inclined to consider such a decision the best and I think that the possibility of registering a 25 per cent difference (if it has to be registered at all) has always existed for each of the co-editors (just as you have already mentioned a somewhat different formulation of the question of nationalisation in the same article—or of the liberals in the review in Zarya No. 2–3). I am ready now, of course, to discuss with you once again desirable alterations in my article[2] and I shall send you the proofs for this purpose. Select anything you like. We ought to finish Zarya as quickly as possible; as it is the negotiations are dragging out terribly. In any case. I shall at once inform both A. N. and Julius of your proposal.

I have not yet received the proofs of your article and so cannot answer your question about the passage on Marx.

The letter of a Socialist-Revolutionary,[3] in my opinion, is hardly worth publishing; they have their own press—let them polemise there (for that’s what it is with them—sheer polemics). About Belgium, it would be good to publish Rosa Luxemburg’s article, if this could be done quickly.

All the very best.

N. Lenin

P.S. In a day or two I am going to Germany to see my mother and take a holiday.[4] My nerves are worn to shreds and I am feeling quite ill. I hope we shall soon meet in London?

  1. Lenin refers to the beginning of the disagreements in connection with the drafting of the Party programme, the first discussion of which took place at a meeting of the Iskra editorial board in Munich on January 21, 1902. At this meeting Lenin sharply criticized the first draft of the programme drawn up by Plekhanov and submitted his own amendments and proposals. p. 104
  2. The Agrarian Programme of Russian Social-Democracy” (see present edition, Vol. 6).—Ed.
  3. Socialist-Revolutionaries (S.R.s)—a petty-bourgeois party in Russia, formed at the end of 1901 and beginning of 1902 through the amalgamation of various Narodnik groups and circles. The S.R.s saw no class distinctions between the proletariat and the peasantry, glossed over the class differentiation and antagonism within the peasantry and denied the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution. The tactics of individual terrorism which the S.R.s advocated as the principal method of fighting the autocracy caused great harm to the revolutionary movement and made it difficult to organise the masses for revolutionary struggle.
    The agrarian programme of the S.R.s envisaged the abolition of private ownership of the land and its transfer to the village communes on the basis of equalised tenure, as well as the development of all forms of co-operation. There was nothing socialistic in this programme, which the S.R.s sought to present as a programme for “socialising the land”, since abolition of private ownership of the land alone, Lenin pointed out, cannot abolish the poverty of the masses.
    The Bolsheviks exposed the S.R.s’ attempts to pose as socialists, fought hard with them for influence over the peasantry and showed how harmful their tactics of individual terrorism were to the working-class movement. At the same time, they were prepared, on certain conditions, to make temporary agreements with the S.R.s in the struggle against tsarism.
    The absence of class homogeneousness among the peasantry was responsible for the political and ideological instability and the organisational confusion in the S.R. party, and for its constant vacillation between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat. There had been a split in the Socialist-Revolutionary Party during the first Russian revolution, its Right wing forming the legal Trudovik Popular Socialist Party, which held views close to those of the Cadets, and the Left wing taking shape as the semi-anarchist league of Maximalists. During the years of reaction (1907-10) the S.R. party suffered a complete ideological and organisational break-down, and the First World War found most of the S.R.s taking a social-chauvinist stand.
    After the victory of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1917 the S.R.s, together with the Mensheviks and Cadets, were the mainstay of the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government of the bourgeoisie and landowners (the party’s leaders Kerensky, Avksentyev and Chernov were members of that government). The Left wing of the S.R.s founded an independent party of Left Socialist-Revolutionaries at the end of November 1917. In an effort to maintain their influence among the peasant masses, the Left S.R.s formally recognised the Soviet power and entered into an agreement with the Bolsheviks, but shortly afterwards turned against the Soviet power.
    During the foreign military intervention and civil war the S.R.s carried on subversive counter-revolutionary activities, strongly supported the interventionists and whiteguards, took part in counter-revolutionary plots, and organised terrorist acts against leaders of the Soviet state and the Communist Party. After the civil war, the S.R.s continued their hostile activity against the Soviet state. p. 105
  4. Lenin met his mother in France, and not in Germany. From the second half of June to July 25, 1902, Lenin lived at Loguivy (Northern coast of France) with his mother and his sister A. I. Ulyanova-Yelizarova. p. 105