A Word About Strikes
|Written||2 February 1913|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 18, pages 541-542.
Luch has carried a number of articles against mass strikes. It is obvious that we cannot reply to Luch here in the way it deserves.
We shall limit ourselves to a few purely theoretical comments on the nature of the arguments of Luch. Those who write for Luch and who diligently cite examples from Western countries, repeating the catchword “anarcho-syndicalism” and so on in a thousand variations, thereby betray their complete incomprehension of the historical peculiarity of the strikes in Russia in 1912.
Nowhere in Europe have strikes in the twentieth century had, and nowhere do they have or can they have, such importance as in the Russia of the period we are passing through. Why?
For the simple reason that while the period of radical democratic changes has long been absolutely over through out Europe, in Russia it is just such changes that are on the order of the day—in the historical sense of the phrase.
Hence the nation-wide character of the economic, and still more of the non-economic, strikes in Russia. Strikes in Europe, where they herald entirely different changes, do not possess such a nation-wide character (from the stand point of democratic changes in the country). Moreover, the relation between the strikes in Russia and the position of the agricultural small producers (peasants) is quite unlike what it is in the Western countries.
Putting all this together, we shall see that the arguments of Luch leave out of account precisely the national, democratic significance of the economic and non-economic strikes in the Russia of 1912. The most important and historically distinctive feature of our strikes is the fact that the proletariat comes forward as the leader despite the anti-democratic sentiments of the liberals. And it is just this that the Luch writers do not understand, and cannot understand from their liquidationist standpoint.
Of course, the point is not at all to appraise the advisability of any particular strike. It is not at all that the most methodical preparations are necessary and sometimes even the replacement of a strike by an action of the same kind. The point is the liquidators’ general incomprehension of this particular significance of strikes in general which makes the slogan of “freedom of association” or of an “open party” unsuitable, out of keeping with the existing situation.
What the liquidators see as a disadvantage is the entire character of the movement and not particular cases, while the Marxists and all class-conscious workers see it as an advantage. That is why the workers have been incensed, and continue to be incensed, by Luch’s propaganda.