Objective Data on the Strength of the Various Trends in the Working-Class Movement
|Written||26 June 1914|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 381-387
The article “Objective Data on the Strength of the Various Trends in the Working-Class Movement” was written by Lenin on the basis of a wide range of facts and figures, carefully collected and analysed, concerning money collections for the workers’ press, which served as objective evidence of the strength of the various trends in the working-class movement in Russia. The Central Party Archive of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism under the Central Committee of the CPSU has in its possession the manuscripts of Lenin’s computations of the collections made by the newspaper Pravda, the number of workers’ groups united by the newspaper Zeit and their contributions, the computations to the table given in the article (See pp.382–85 of this volume),and tabulated figures showing what collections were made for the various newspapers and where they were made. The original draft conspectus and a synopsis of the article are also to be found in the Archive. The figures quoted in this article ware used by Lenin in subsequent articles.
There can be no more important duty for class-conscious workers than that of getting to know their class movement, its nature, its aims and objects, its conditions and practical forms. That is because the strength of the working-class movement lies entirely in its political consciousness, and its mass character. At each step in its development, capitalism increases the number of proletarians, wage workers; it rallies, organises and enlightens them, and in this way moulds a class force that must inevitably march towards its goal.
The Marxists’ programme and their decisions on tactics, as constantly expounded in the press, help the masses of the workers to understand the nature, aims and objects of the movement.
The struggle between the various trends in the working-class movement of Russia has deep class roots. The two “trends” which are fighting Marxism (Pravdism) in the working-class movement of Russia and which, because of their mass form and their roots in history, deserve to be called “trends”, i.e., Narodism and liquidationism, express the bourgeoisie’s influence on the proletariat. This has been explained many times by the Marxists and acknowledged in a number of decisions adopted by them in regard to the Narodniks (the fight against whom has been going on for thirty years) and in regard to the liquidators (the history of liquidationism goes back about twenty years, for liquidationism is the direct continuation of Economism and Menshevism).
More objective data on the strength of the different trends in Russia’s working-class movement are now steadily accumulating. Every effort must be made to collect, verify and study these objective data concerning the behaviour and moods, not of individuals or groups, but of the masses, data taken from different and hostile newspapers, data that are verifiable by any literate person.
Only from such data can one learn and study the movement of one’s class. One of the greatest, if not the greatest, faults (or crimes against the working class) of the Narodniks and liquidators, as well as of the various groups of intellectuals such as the Vperyodists, Plekhanovites and Trotskyists, is their subjectivism. At every step they try to pass off their desires, their “views”, their appraisals of the situation and their “plans”, as the will of the workers, the needs of the working-class movement. When they talk about “unity”, for example, they majestically ignore the experience acquired in creating the genuine unity of the majority of Russia’s class-conscious workers in the course of two-and-a-half years, from the beginning of 1912 to the middle of 1914.
Let us then tabulate the available objective data on the strength of the various trends in the working-class movement. Those who believe in subjective appraisals and promises are free to go to the “groups”. We invite only those who desire to study objective figures. Here they are:
|1. Number of deputies elected
by worker curia:
|Second Duma, 1907 . . . .||11||12||47||53||—|
|Third Duma, 1907–12 . . .||4||4||50||50 }||boy-
|Fourth Duma, 1912 . . . .||6||3||67||30 }|
|Number of Workers’ GroupsWhich Donated Funds:|
|2. Number of contributions by
workers’ groups to St. Pe-tersburg newspapers:
|1912 . . . . . . . . . . .||620||89||—||—||—|
|1913 . . . . . . . . . . .||2,181||661||76.9||23.1||264|
|up to May 13, 1914 . . . .||2,873||671||81.1||18.9||524|
|Election of Workers’ Delegatesto Insurance Boards:|
|3. Number of delegates to All- Russia Insurance Board||47||10||82.4||17.6||?1-2?|
|4. Ditto Metropolitan Insurance Board||37||7||84.1||15.9||4|
|Signatures to Resolutions inFavour of Each of the DumaGroups:|
|5. Number of signatures pub-
lished in both newspapers in
favour of the Six (Pravdists)
and for the Seven (liquida-tors) . . . . . . . . . . .
|Connection with Workers’ Groups:|
|6. Number of contribution
letters from workers’ groups
to either of the Duma Groups
(Oct. 1913 to June 6, 1914)
|Circulation of St. PetersburgNewspapers:|
|7. Number of copies printed
(figures collected and pub-lished by E. Vandervelde)
|40,000||16,000||71.4||28.6||12,000 (3 times a week)|
|8. Number of issues of the
leading newspaper published
after August (1912) Confer-
ence of liquidators up toJune 1914
|9. Number of references in
these issues to non-legal
organisations (one locality
counted as one reference)
|Dependence on the Bourgeoisie:|
|10. Funds collected for St. Pe-
tersburg newspapers (from
January 1 to May 13, 1914).
Percentage of contributionsfrom non-workers .
|11. Number of financial reports
published in the newspapersduring entire period . . .
|12. Percentage of such reports
showing deficits covered
from unspecified, i.e., bour-
geois sources . . . . . . .
|13. Funds handled by either of
the Duma groups (from
October 1913 to June 6,
1914). Percentage of fundsobtained from non-workers
|14. Number of items of cor-
respondence passed off as
coming from workers, but
actually taken from bour-
geois newspapers without
indicating source . . . .
|—||5 (in two issues, Nos. 17 and 19 of Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta)||0|
|15. Number of trade unions
in St. Petersburg in which
majority of members (judg-
ing by majority on exe-
cutives) sympathise with
respective trends . . . . .
|14 1/2||3 1/2||—||—||2|
First of all we shall briefly explain the above figures and then draw the conclusions that follow from them.
It will be best to make the explanations point by point.
Point 1. Figures showing the number of electors and delegates elected are not available. To complain about our using “curia” figures is simply ridiculous, for no other are available. The German Social-Democrats measure their successes under the Bismarck electoral law, which excludes women and thereby creates a “male” curia!
Point 2. The number of workers’ groups which pay and not only “sign resolutions” is the most reliable and true criterion, not only of the strength of the trend, but also of its state of organisation and its Party spirit.
That is why the liquidators and the “groups” betray such subjective dislike for this criterion.
The liquidators argued: We have also a Yiddish and a Georgian newspapers, but the Pravda stands alone. That is not true. Firstly, the Estonian and Lithuanian newspapers are Pravdist. Secondly, if we take the provinces, is it permissible to forget Moscow? During 1913 the Moscow workers’ newspaper rallied, united 390 workers’ groups (Rabochy No. 1, p. 19), whereas the Yiddish newspaper Zeit, from issue No. 2 (December 29, 1912) to June 1, 1914, united 296 workers’ groups (of these 190 were united up to March 20, 1914, and 106 from March 20 to June 1, 1914). Thus, Moscow alone amply “covered” the liquidators’ subjective reference to Zeit!
We invite the Georgian and Armenian comrades to collect data on the liquidators’ newspapers in the Caucasus. How many workers’ groups are there? Objective data covering all aspects are needed.
Mistakes in counting the groups may have been made, but only in individual cases. We invite everybody to verify the figures and correct them.
Points 3 and 4 require no explanation. It would be desirable to initiate an enquiry for the purpose of collecting new data from the provinces.
Point 5. The 2,985 liquidator signatures include 1,086 Bundist and 719 Caucasian signatures. It is desirable that the local comrades verify these figures.
Point 6. The treasurers of the two groups publish reports of all funds each group receives for various objects. These figures serve as an exact and objective index of contacts with the workers.
Point 7. Circulation of newspapers. The figures were collected and published by E. Vandervelde but hushed up by the liquidators and the liberals (Kievskaya Mysl). “Subjectivism.” It is desirable that fuller figures be collected, if only for one month.
Points 8 and 9. Here we have an objective illustration of the liquidators’ renunciation of the “underground”, i. e., of the Party. But from January 1 to May 13, 1914, receipts from abroad gave the Pravdists R.49.79 (one-fourth of one per cent) and the liquidators R.1,709.17 (fourteen per cent). Don’t say, “I can’t”; say, “I don’t want to”!
Points 10 to 14. These are objective evidence of the dependence of the liquidators and Narodniks on the bourgeoisie, evidence of their bourgeois character. Subjectively, the liquidators and Narodniks are “socialists” and “Social Democrats”. Objectively, both as regards the substance of their ideas as well as the experience of the mass movement, they are groups of bourgeois intellectuals, which are splitting the minority of workers away from the workers’ party.
We especially draw our readers’ attention to the way in which the liquidators fake workers’ correspondence. This is an unprecedented and downright fraud! Let all Marxists in the localities expose this fraud and collect objective data (see Trudovaya Pravda No. 12, June 11, 1914).
Point 15. These figures are particularly important and ought to be supplemented and verified by means of a separate enquiry. We have taken the figures from Sputnik Rabochego, Priboi Publishers, St. Petersburg, 1914. Among the unions included in the liquidators’ list were the Clerks’ Union, the Draftsmen’s Union, and the Druggist Employees’ Union (at the last election of the Executive of the Printers’ Union on April 27, 1914, half the members of the Executive and more than half of the alternate members elected were Pravdists). The Narodnik list of unions includes the Bakers’ Union and the Case-Makers’ Union. Aggregate membership about 22,000.
Of the thirteen unions in Moscow, ten are Pravdist and three indefinite, although they are closer to the Pravdists. There is not a single liquidationist or Narodnik union in Moscow.
The conclusions to be drawn from these objective data are that Pravdism is the only Marxist, proletarian trend, really independent of the bourgeoisie, and has organised and united over four-fifths of the workers (in 1914, 81.1 per cent of the workers’ groups as compared with the liquidators). Liquidationism and Narodism are undoubtedly bourgeois-democratic, not working-class trends.
The correctness of the Pravdists’ programmatic, tactical and organisational ideas, their decisions and line has been wholly and splendidly confirmed by the experience of the mass movement in 1912, 1913 and half of 1914. From our conviction that we are on the right road we should draw the strength for still greater efforts.
- In one union the Pravdists and liquidators had an equal number of supporters. —Lenin
- In one union the Pravdists and liquidators had an equal number of supporters. [DUPLICATE] —Lenin
- This refers to Tóó Hääl (The Voice of Labour), an Estonian newspaper of a Pravdist trend, which appeared in Narva three times a week from January to May 1914, and the Lithuanian weekly Flints (The Wave), published in Riga in 1913–14.
- This refers to the legal workers’ newspaper Nash Put (Our Way) published in Moscow, the first issue appearing on August 25 (September 7), 1913. Lenin took an active pert in the newspaper, sending his articles simultaneously to Pravda and Nash Put. The latter published a number of articles by Lenin, namely: “The Russian Bourgeoisie and Russian Reformism”, “The Role of Social Estates and Classes in the Liberation Movement”, “Class War in Dublin”, “A Week After the Dublin Massacre”, “Questions of Principle in Politics”, “Harry Quelch” and others.
Other contributors to the newspaper were Maxim Gorky, Demyan Bedny, M. S. Olminsky, I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov, and the Bolshevik deputies in the Fourth Duma A. Y. Badayev, F. N. Samoilov, and N. R. Shagov.
Nash Put was very popular among the workers, as many as 395 workers’ groups supporting the newspaper with money contributions. The newspaper was persistently persecuted by the police and closed down on September 12 (25), 1913, after publishing 16 issues. The Moscow workers struck in protest against its suppression, but the paper was unable to resume publication.
- The newspaper Trudovaya Pravda No. 12 for June 11, 1914, published a paragraph entitled “How Does It Happen?”, in which it quoted a number of instances of Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, the organ of the liquidators, reprinting, under the guise of workers’ correspondence, information from the bourgeois newspapers which distorted the facts of reality in working-class life.
- Sputnik Rabochego for 1914 (Worker’s Companion for 1914)—a pocket calendar issued by the Priboi Party Publishers in December 1913, and sold out in a single day. A second revised edition was issued in February 1914. The calendar contained the article by Lenin “Strikes in Russia”. (See present edition, Vol. 19, p. 385.)