Letter to Julian Marchlewski, October 7, 1910

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Marchlewski, Julian (1866–1925)—prominent member of the revolutionary movement in Poland, Germany and Russia. Was one of the organisers and leaders of the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania. Took an active part in the revolution of 1905–07. At the Fifth (London) Congress of the RSDLP was elected alternate member of the Central Committee. From 1909 worked chiefly in the German Social-Democratic Party.

October 7, 1910

Dear Comrade,

I received the letter from you and Wurm and your article late yesterday evening. In accordance with your and Kautsky’s request, lasse ich es bei Ihrem Artikel bewenden.[1]

I have already written about half of a long article against both Martov and Trotsky.[2] I shall have to leave it and start on an article against Trotsky. Since you meet Kautsky, please toll him that I am taking care of the reply to Trotsky. If the Germans are so afraid of a polemic, I don’t think it matters much whether the reply comes a week earlier or a week later?

What a pity that even Kautsky and Wurm do not see how disgusting and mean such articles as those of Martov and Trotsky are. I shall try to write at least a private letter to Kautsky to clarify the matter. It is really a down right scandal that Martov and Trotsky lie with impunity and write scurrilous lampoons in the guise of “scientific” articles!

By the way, could you help me to clear up two practical questions. First: could a translator from Russian into German be found in Berlin (for articles for Neue Zeit)? Or is this unreliable and expensive, so that it would be better to look for someone here? I shall look out for someone here In any case, hut I should like to know your opinion, as you have considerable experience in this respect.

Second: what if I were to write a pamphlet (of a size á la. Cherevanin: Das Proletariat in der russischen Revoiution) on the subject of the Russian revolution, its lessons, class struggle, etc. Could a German party publisher be found or not? Do the Germans pay for such things, or must payment be looked for only from the Russians, while the Germans are served nebenbei?

In connection with the reply to Martov, I have dug into some very interesting strike statistics of 1905-08 and should very much like to analyse them. It is a subject more suitable for a book or pamphlet than for an article.[3] But the Germans are disgracefully “unconscious” in questions concerning the appraisal of the Russian revolution!

I enclose a brief enumeration of what it is desirable to add against Martov. If you include even a part of it in your article, it would be very good.[4]

Beste Grüsse.

Yours, Lenin

Here, in my opinion, are the chief (not all, by far) points of Martov’s lies and falsehood which it is desirable to point out (if not in full, at least in part):

In saying that Comrade Radek is misquoting, Comrade Martov casts suspicion without giving proof. We, however, have full proof that Martov quotes falsely. “So far we have been speaking French” (Die Neue Zeit, 1910), Martov quotes Lenin. The quotation is distorted. Lenin said: “During the revolution we learned to ’speak French”’ (Proletary No. 46)[5] . By distorting the quotation, Martov contrives to conceal the fact that he (like all opportunists) calls on the workers to unlearn the methods of revolutionary struggle.

“To speak French”—“richtiger gesagt: blanquistisch”,[6] is Martov’s emendation. We thank him for his frankness. To call the participation of the French proletariat in the French revolutions “Blanquism” is precisely the “essence” of the views of Martov and Queesel.[7]

In ganz Westeuropa,” writes Martov, “betrachtet man die Bauernmassen in dem Masse für bündnisfähig, als sie die schweren Folgen der kapitalistischen Umwälzung der Landwirtschaft zu spüren bekommen ...; für Russland malte man sich ein Bild aus, wie mit dem Proletariat sich die 100 Millionen Bauern vereinigen..., die noch nicht von der kapitalistischen Bourgeoisie in die Schule genommen worden sind” (Neue Zeit, Seite 909). Das ist eben russisches Quesseltum![8]

The Russian Quessel forgot to mention that in the agrarian programme of the Russian Social-Democrats (adopted In Stockholm, 1906, when the Mensheviks had a majority!) it is stated “support for the revolutionary actions of the peasantry to the extent of confiscation of the landed estates”. Is there anything like this in “Europe”, O Russian Quessel? There is not, for in Europe the questions of a bourgeois revolution are no longer revolutionary issues. The “school of the capitalist bourgeoisie” as far as the Russian peasants are concerned is a school of betrayals and treachery on the part of the liberal bourgeoisie (which has been betraying the peasants to the landowners and absolutism), and only extreme opportunists are capable of defending such a school.

In scoffing at the “union with the proletariat of 100 mil lion peasants”, Martov is scoffing at the whole revolution, which has demonstrated such a union in practice both in the arena of the uprising (October, November-December, 1905) and in the arena of both Dumas (1906-1907).

Martov vacillates helplessly between the liberals (they are against “confiscation of the landed estates”, against “revolutionary actions of the peasantry”) and the Social-Democrats, who so far have by no means withdrawn their support of the peasant uprising or their statement to this effect contained in their programme.

Martov believes that during the years of revolution (1905-07) it was not the question of a republic, but “die Frage der Unabhängigkeit der Volksvertretung” (S. 918)[9] that was on the order of the day. Independence from whom? From the monarchy which had carried out Staatsstreiche?[10] The Russian opportunists forget at least the connection between the agrarian and the political revolution (is it possible to fight for the confiscation of the landed estates without fighting for a republic?); they forget that the era of Staatsstreiche, der Aufstände, der Niederwerfungsstreiks,[11] by virtue of its obective conditions and not of our will, puts the question of a republic on the order of the day. The “republic” as a slogan of the day in 1905==“romanticism”; “independence” (from the monarchy which carries out Staatsstreiche and wages den Bürgerkrieg)[12] =Realpolitik, is not that so, O Russian Quessel?

Apropos. Rosa Luxemburg argued with Kautsky as to whether in Germany the moment had arrived for Niederwerfungsstrategie,[13] and Kautsky plainly and bluntly stated that he considered this moment was unavoidable and imminent but had not yet arrived. But Martov, “deepening (verballhornend[14] ) Kautsky, denies the applicability of the Niederwerfungsstrategie to the year 1905 in Russia! Martov finds that the uprising in December 1905 was evoked “künstlich[15] (Neue Zeit, S. 913). Die Leute, welche so glauben, können nur künstlich zur Sozialdemokratie gerechnet werden. Natürlich sind sie Nationalliberale.[16]

Martov ridicules the view that the proletariat is “die ausschlaggebende Macht” (S. 909)[17] in the revolution. So far only the liberals have dared (and not always, at that) to deny the indisputable historical fact that in 1905 the Russian proletariat actually played the part of “der ausschlaggebenden Macht”. And when a theory which denies the “hegemony of the proletariat in the Russian revolution” gained the upper hand in the five-volume Social Movement (edited by Martov and Potresov), Plekhanov resigned from the editorial board and declared the Social Movement a work of liquidators. Martov now represents not Menshevism as a whole but only that kind of Menshevism which Plekhanov, who has remained a Menshevik, has repudiated and which he has called opportunism.

Martov contraposes the Russian boycott of 1906 to the anarchists’ defence of boycott (“political abstention”) “in ganz Westeuropa”. We have already spoken about the boycott of 1906 (you have already dealt with this). But speaking of boycott in general, why did Martov forget the chief application of a boycott in the Russian revolution, the boycott of the Bulygin Duma (the law of August 6, 1905)? Against this boycott were all the liberals, even those of the Left (Osvobozhdeniye League), in favour of it were the Bolshevik Social-Democrats. Is it because this boycott was victorious that Martov is silent about it? Is it because this boycott was the slogan of a victorious Niederwerfungsstrategie?

All the Mensheviks (especially in Nasha Zarya, Vozrozhdeniye and Zhizn[18]) seized on Rosa Luxemburg’s dispute with Kautsky in order to declare K. Kautsky a “Menshevik”. Martov is trying his hardest, by means of kleinliche und miserable Diplomatie, to deepen the gulf between Rosa Luxemburg and K. Kautsky. These elende[19] devices cannot succeed. Revolutionary Social-Democrats may argue about the timing of Niederwerfungsstrategie in Germany, but not of its appropriateness in Russia in 1905. It has never occurred to Kautsky to deny its appropriateness for Russia in 1905. Only liberals and German and Russian Quessels can deny that!

Well then, will not the upshot of the question of the mass strike in Magdeburg (the acceptance of Rosa’s resolution and her withdrawal of the second part) make for peace between her and Kautsky? and the Vorstand? Or will it not be soon?[20] ((I wrote to Rosa Luxemburg a couple of weeks ago from Stockholm.))

My address is: Vl. Oulianoff, 4, Rue Marie Rose, 4, Paris, XIV.

  1. I shall confine myself to your article.—Ed.
  2. Reference is to “The Historical Meaning of the Inner-Party Struggle in Russia” (see present edition, Vol. 16).—Ed.
  3. See“Strike Statistics in Russia” (present edition, Vol. 16).— Ed.
  4. The article against Martov by Marchlewski (Karsky) was published in the journal Die Neue Zeit (I. Band, No. 4, October 28, 1910) under the heading: “Ein Mi\ssverständnis” (A Misunderstanding). This article dealt with Martov’s distortion of the quotation from Lenin’s article and his application to the Russian revolution of 1905–07 of Kautsky’s idea to the effect that “the strategy of overthrow” was inapplicable to Germany.
  5. See present edition, Vol. 15, p. 458.—Ed.
  6. Or rather: in the Blanqui manner”.—Ed.
  7. Quessel L.—German Social-Democrat, ultra-opportunist, who gave an opportunist appraisal of the revolution of 1905.
  8. In the whole of Western Europe the peasant masses are considered suitable for alliance to the extent that they come to experience the painful results of the capitalist revolution in agriculture...; for Russia a picture has been drawn of the union with the proletariat of 100 million peasants... who have not yet been through the school of the capitalist bourgeoisie” (Neue Zeit, p. 909). That precisely is Russian Quesselism!—Ed.
  9. The question of the independence of the people’s representative assembly—Ed.
  10. Coups d’état.—Ed.
  11. Coups d’état, uprisings, strikes for political overthrow.—Ed.
  12. Civil war.—Ed.
  13. Strategy of overthrow.—Ed.
  14. [“1”] Botching —Ed.
  15. [“2”] Artificially.—Ed.
  16. [“3”] People who think like that can only artificially be reckoned as Social-Democrats. In effect, they are National-Liberals.—Ed.
  17. [“4”] “The decisive force” (p. 909).—Ed.
  18. Zarya^^see Note 416^^.
    Vozrozhdeniye (Renascence)—a legal journal of the Menshevik liquidators, published in Moscow from December 1908 to July 1910.
    Zhizn (Life)—a legal socio-political journal, organ of the Menshevik liquidators, published in Moscow; two issues were put out (in August and September 1910).
  19. Pitiful—Ed.
  20. This refers to the controversy between Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Kautsky in the German Social-Democratic press on the question of the general political strike. The Magdeburg Congress of the German Social-Democratic Party held on September 18–24, 19l0, adopted the first part of a resolution proposed by Rosa Luxemburg recognising the general political strike as a method of struggle for an electoral reform in Prussia; the part of the resolution Lenin refers to deals with the question of propaganda of the idea of a general strike.