Revolutionary Hangover

by cominsitu

MV5BMjA0Njg4MzQyNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjAyNzkxMzE@._V1_ by Rosa Luxemburg, 1909

I

History does not pamper the proletariat. Now, when under the undivided rule of counter-revolutionary violence the open performance of the broad mass became almost impossible, when revolutionary work again has been driven underground, the participation of the proletarian Social-Democratic deputies in the State Duma is the last strong ‘legal’ post of class struggle, the Duma tribune – the last tribune, in which it is possible to more or less openly proclaim the slogans of this struggle. And then it appears that even this last legal representation of the proletariat by far does not stand at the height of its tasks, that the Social-Democratic faction very often makes mistakes, that the Duma tribune is insufficiently used for the systematic upholding of the principles of class struggle, for revolutionary critique of all bourgeois parties and their counter-revolutionary games, for political enlightenment of the labouring mass, but frequently is an arena of indecisive action and vacillation on the side of the proletarian deputies, vacillation, excluding a sustained political line and sometimes directly contradictory to the demands of proletarian politics. If one evaluates similar facts ‘on the surface’, not delving deeper in their background, then one can call the present condition of the Duma representation of Social Democracy quite sad. But to say only this would be to observe a truth, undoubtedly, cheaper, than fruitful.

However, no less incandescent (нечален) in its symptomatic significance is also that result, which the weakness of our Duma representation call forth among the ranks of the party in the form of a current, proclaiming openly or secretly the recall of the Social-Democratic faction as the sole exit from the sad situation. The activity of the faction in the third Duma proved its unfitness as a weapon of class struggle – consequently, one needs to recall the faction. So reason some Russian comrades, taking, evidently, this stirring simplicity and direct political reasoning for truly revolutionary decisiveness and solidity in putting the question. For better or for worse, revolutionary proletarian politics does not boil down to such simplified method of thought, – it must be based, in the given case, as also always, first of all on the deeper analysis of objective conditions of struggle of the proletariat and on the dissection of those dialectical inter-relations, in which lies also the true source of difficulties, experienced by Social Democracy, and the true road for the exit from these difficulties.

The question about the activity of the Social-Democratic faction in the third Duma can be regarded from two sides: from the side of the personal quality of the faction and the ineptitude of its performance and from the side of objective conditions, making the conduct nearly impossible in the third Duma of genuine proletarian tactics. Regarding the matter initially from the first viewpoint, it is necessary to note, that personal composition of a parliamentary faction has for bourgeois parties and for the party of the consciousness proletariat an entirely different meaning – accordingly a fundamental difference in the relation of these and the other toward parliamentarism in general. For bourgeois parties, the political struggle which is exhausted by the striving toward the passage of a determined legislative measure, equally as toward the occupation of governmental posts, in parliament is concentrated the whole mechanism of political transformation, the centre of political struggle. And personal accomplishments and shortcomings of the faction have therefore for them great meaning. As a pole for any bargain with the government and with other parties, for unprincipled combinations and sought utilisation of a moment in the chase after ringing monetary tangible success, the bourgeois parliament is an excellent battleground for personally talented party leaders. However, also here the personal element finds its objective limits in that purely ‘materialist’ circumstance, that also in bourgeois classes not the personal talents of parliamentary leaders create the ability or inability of the party, but, on the contrary, the general political position of the party in the country, its influence or weakness, in function of its class character and connected to it general direction of its politics, create a battleground for the talent or lack of talent of its members of parliament. So in the German Catholic Centre Party after the replacement of Ludwig Windthorst, the outstanding leader of the Centre from the epoch of persecution of the Catholics by Bismarck, there appeared a small bipod of the sorts of Ernst Lieber and Karl Bachem since then, as the party of the Centre itself became a pillar of rightwing reaction. So at the head of the fighting and oppositional German liberalism stood once the strong figure of the sort of Jakob Mauvillon, and in the present day, in the deep decay of liberalism to the level of the swamp of the present politics of the ‘bloc’, at its head stands in the German parliament a batch of already quite anonymous mediocrities. On the other side, in Russia a series of without doubt brilliant parliamentary talents, of which the Cadet Party disposes, are due to the internal weakness and bankruptcy of this party of a tragicomical uselessness, even more only emphasising its pitiable position, while the leading position in the Duma is the coarse and ideologically illiterate Vladimir Purishkevich.

Entirely different stands the matter in the party of the proletariat. Seeing parliamentary activity only as one of the weapons of class struggle, the proletariat directs its efforts first of all not on the achievement of immediate occasional successes in the form of small legislative reforms, but on the explanation in parliament at every possibility of its class interests and tasks. The parliamentary faction of the Social-Democrats and its activity are, in this way, only a reflection of the political consciousness of the advanced layers of the proletariat, and the activity of the faction needs to be seen the more complete, the more that it fully and precisely reflects and transmits that which comprises the intellectual content of the class struggle of the proletariat in the country. The personal significance and talent of single parliamentary members here is incomparably less decisive, than in bourgeois parties. Not allowing any individual and sudden improvisation, the parliamentary tactics of Social Democracy are concluded beforehand in the frame of the principled and tactical basis of class struggle, formulated in every country by the conscious and organised representative of the proletariat, i.e. the Social-Democratic party. The Social-Democratic members of parliament are, thus, by their very vocation, only mouthpieces of tactics, established by the same proletarian party as a whole, under the widest possible participation and control of the widest possible layers of the working mass. Therefore, independently of the secondary question on the more or less talentedness of parliamentary performance, the tactics of the proletarian deputies as a whole, as also in every part, can not in its entire nature be a matter of these members of parliament, but can only be a matter of the party as a whole. So, e.g., the parliamentary tactics of the German Social Democracy, reach after forty years to such a degree of determinedness, that it became almost routine and can today apply (применяться) any deputy almost mechanically, by force of tradition and hard established objective opinion in the ranks of the party. But a similar steadiness of tactics, predestining to the Social-Democratic parliamentarians in advance the necessary line for them, in agreement with the will of the party, is possible only under two conditions: under steadiness of the political and class situation in the country and under internal unity, a strong organisation and principled steadiness of this proletarian party. If German Social Democracy can serve until now as the classical example of the achievement of both conditions, then the French socialism of the time of the Millerand crisis serves no less a classical example of the opposite case, proving how much internal organisational and intellectual disunity of the proletarian party immediately finds itself reflected in socialist members of parliament and in their isolation and alienation from the very party, organs of which they were called to be. Both examples clearly confirm that there emerges from the very nature of proletarian parliamentarism, precisely, that simple fact, that every socialist party has such a parliamentary faction, as it – by force of external and internal conditions deserves.

In Russia undoubtedly both fundamental conditions are very problematic for seasoned parliamentary tactics of Social Democracy. If in the second Duma parliamentary activity of Social Democracy was held still comparatively high after the last waves of mass revolutionary upsurge, then after the wear off of these waves the sad situation was revealed in full clarity. The unstable political equilibrium, created by the siege of counter-revolution and the constant changes in inter-relation of force of classes and parties, in particular – the entirely special character of the third Duma, representing itself neither a legislative bourgeois parliament, nor at least a weapon of revolutionary turnover, make entirely impossible the application of any template and requires, especially with the lack of any parliamentary tradition in Russia, at every step independent creative work of applying the general principles and tasks of the class struggle toward the peculiar conditions. But if, in light of this, it becomes all the more clear that such creative work can be the matter solely of this proletarian party, then it follows to say that in Russia the party life of Social Democracy in the present time represents in this relation a series of shortcomings. Not only is there a lack of a strong and cohesive core, which though to certain degree could serve as surrogate of open and direct influence of the working mass on their Duma representatives, made impossible under domination of the white terror of counter-revolution, but even also those elements of the organisation, which are at hand, gnaw at the root with fundamentally unceasing and impudent internal struggle, reaching in a few comrades – insofar as one can rely on the press – even the open attempt to liquidate the party itself. Russian comrades, are resenting to the depth of the soul the disobedience of the Duma faction to the supreme organ of the party, the Central Committee, and at the same time entirely are coming to terms with the fact that this supreme institution of the party quietly is treated in this party’s organs, as a ‘circle of persons, holding sway in official institutions of the party’, that contrary to the formal unity of the party and in mockery of it, in the framework of it there continues to be waged an open and tenacious, although also not formally organised, factional struggle, directed objectively against the party as a whole, that this question of Duma tactics is turned in an object of factional struggle, so that one part of the party sees it as a sacred duty to defend and justify that conduct of the deputies, which provokes such thorough critique of the other part of the party, – these comrades do not notice, evidently, how much they fall in a contradiction, not devoid of great strangeness. And exactly the same, as 6–7 years ago the continuous indictment of the French Social-Democracts against their own members of parliament for systematic alteration of party principles and for tenacious disobedience to party institutions was only an inverted reflection of the peculiar organisational ideological disunity in the ranks of the socialist proletariat of France, so the advice of those Russian comrades who regard it through thick and thin necessary now by an ‘ultimatum’ to flog the Duma faction, is tantamount in essence to the advice, that the party play the role of Gogolian officer’s wife, i.e. flog itself.

It requires, of course, no special insight, to note, that the outlined condition of Russian Social Democracy, from its side, is not accidental, that, as its organisational disunity is conditioned in the first place by the actual counter-revolutionary regime, holding down the movement of the proletariat and having perverted the normal forms and functions of its party life, so also factional strife is rooted, to a significant degree, in the same general conditions of development of Social Democracy. But once this is so, then the comrades, wishing to correct the Duma deputies by an ‘ultimatum’, should apply this fearsome ultimatum toward these objective conditions of Russian social life, which prevent now Social Democracy to be a strong and united organisation of the working class, in which the parliamentary faction by itself is reduced to its natural role: an obedient weapon in the hands of the conscious proletariat.

II.

The assessment of the activity of the Duma deputies, leading to the idea of recall of them, rests, on the other side, on a highly distinct understanding of the tactical tasks of the proletariat in relation to the third Duma in general. In the resolutions, formulated by the adherents of this idea, i.e. by the ‘otzovists’ in Moscow, as also in St. Petersburg, decisively is expressed that view, that the utilization of the third Duma, as a tribune for agitation in the spirit of the principles of class struggle, proved by force of external conditions to be entirely impossible and that therefore ‘the only way out of the created situation is an abidication of the Soc.-Dem. deputies, that emphasises the true character of this Duma, as well as the revolutionary tactics of the Russian Soc.-Dem. Work. Party (see the article of an otzovist in no. 5 Rab. Znameni, republished in no. 39 of Proletary). [1]

In this way, a partial question of the assessment of the activity of the given Social-Democratic deputies turns to the ground of a much more general and fundamental question of tactics: to the ground of a boycott of the Duma by the conscious proletariat. Factually the recall of the Duma deputies logically boils down to the boycott of the Duma, at least, until now, as long as the election law of 3 June exists and the corresponding with it force in the Duma. Boycott, and that in the form of a simple exit from the Duma of the Social-Democratic deputies, is recommended in the present time, as sole truly ‘revolutionary tactic’ in relation to the reigning counter-revolution in the third Duma. It is necessary to note that this latest invention of ‘revolutionariness’ is not distinguished by originality and in any case did not cost its authors too much strain of thought. The latest recipe of proletarian ‘radicalism’ represents a simple reheating of the slogan of boycott of the Duma, applied in the time of election with the first Duma, not having lost its charm still also with the election for the second Duma and defended by a few comrades on the eve of elections in the third Duma. But this circumstance serves as at once a new example of that simplified, vulgar understanding of proletarian revolutionariness, which is reduced through purely external fashion to well-known short and dry formulas, not giving oneself the effort to fathom the correspondence of militant tactics of the proletariat with the living and supple reality. Boycott by itself as abstract slogan, applied in all possible circumstances, represents not only not anything specifically revolutionary, but even can be a manifestation of the entirely opposite character. When in the time of the 1848 revolution in Germany, after the powerless, equivocal and cowardly liberal bourgeoisie in the course of half a year, arrived to the inevitable finale in the form of the government turnover of 1 November, accompanied by the replacement of the ministry of Pfuel and the installment of the openly reactionary feudal cabinet of count Brandenburg, the headless National Assembly announced in response to the absolutist turnover a boycott of the government in the form of ‘passive resistance’. The Neue Rheinische Zeitung, published by Karl Marx, immediately declared in the Rhine Province a counterweight to this slogan of the bourgeoisie and for the support of National Assembly the necessity of a series of active measures: from the refusal to pay taxes to the formation of revolutionary committees of public safety, adding: ‘Where counter-revolutionary authorities seek forcibly to frustrate the formation and official activity of these committees, force must be opposed by every kind of force. Passive resistance must have active resistance as its basis. Otherwise it will resemble the vain struggle of a calf against its slaughterer.’ [2] In other words, Marx saw as necessary the immediate transformation of passive boycott, announced in response to the reactionary attack by the German bourgeoisie, in a series of measures, causing active intervention of the mass of the proletariat and street revolution. But as the German bourgeoisie in 1848 was afraid of street and independent battles of the proletariat still much more, than of absolutism and the connected with it feudal party and precisely therefore before it gave in, since it precisely therefore stayed at the slogan of ‘passive resistance’, so that for nothing it would dare to appeal to intervention of the popular mass, – then the November uprising of Marx, as also the whole of his politics in the revolution of 1848, remained a voice in the wilderness. No revolutionary performance in response to the counter-revolutionary provocation took place, and the mentioned ‘passive resistance’ of the German bourgeoisie ended as always ends the ‘vain struggle of a calf against its slaughterer’: the liberal calf was cut by the slaughterer-absolutism.

However, the fact that passive resistance only in unison with active, militant resistance represents an actual means of political struggle, this remained not a secret also for the bourgeoisie itself, – it proceeds to agree with the spirit of the Marxist slogan of 1848 in all those cases, when its class interests reminds it of this and the extent of its antagonism in relation to the proletariat. Another historical example of the application of passive resistance in political struggle we find in the history of the Czech nationalists, having boycotted the general-imperial parliament in the course of fifteen years. When Austrian absolutism in the beginning of the 1860s under the influence of refreshing scoldings, received by them at Magenta and Solferino, decided to turn on the road of ‘lawful order’ and octroyed on the country the centralist constitution of Schmerling, – Czech nationalists, compelling a federalist system, refused in 1863 to elect from the Bohemian Landtag deputies to the Vienna central Reichsrat and tenaciously held on to this position up to 1878, as long as broad concessions were not compelled from minister Taaffe. True, their reactionary federalist ideal not only was not realised, but on the contrary was step for step relegated by the political development of Austria to the domain of utopia. For this they compelled other, much more tangible utopias, in the form of a new election law in the Landtag, recognising their Czech language mandatory in Bohemia for goverment language, Czech universities etc. The politics of the Czechs, however, was not at all reduced at that time to one only boycott of the Vienna parliament. At once when the boycott was announced, they launched in the country the most wide and stormy agitation. Not fearing to go at meetings of mass ferment under the convenient flag of national mystification, obscuring class contradictions, the Czechs tried by all force to prop up their passive resistance ‘in parliament’ with the to active resistance excited popular mass, and announced in 1868 in Bohemia a state of siege, numerous arrests, bloody clashes with the police and army in the 1870s, a new series of clashes in the 1880s, when the Czechs again resumed armed activity, the loud Trial of ‘Omladina’, the members of which where sentenced for ‘conspiracy’ to draconian penalties, finally the declaration of a state of siege in Prague in 1897 proves, that the agitation of the nationalists did not remain without support from the side of broad circles of the population. To cause a revolution in the name of the scrawny and reactionary slogan of nationalism the Czechs, of course, did not achieve, but for this they fully achieved to transform the passive boycott of parliament into active resistance of the country.

In the politics of the revolutionary proletariat, by its very nature, calculated in advance on the self-activity of the mass, the parliamentary boycott in essence can be only an episode of active mass struggle. The comrades, seeing in the boycott of the first Duma, announced at the time, by the majority of Russian Social Democracy, a revolutionary tactic par excellence, because precisely that this was a boycott, and wishing to revive this tactic in any moment, even in 1909, stand in their assessment entirely on the same ground, as the staunch opponents of boycott, denying it always and everywhere, as a deadly sin against the sacred dogma of parliamentarism. In both cases drops entirely out of view the concrete political circumstance, in which the boycott of the Duma was an elementary duty and even a case of honour of the revolutionary proletariat.

The whole year 1905 was from beginning to end a period of mass proletarian struggle and at the same time a by phases increasingly surging wave of revolution. Starting with 9 January, the signal given by the St. Petersburg workers, the channel of the revolution increasingly expands by a continuous series of mass strikes, an uprising in the army and fleet, a general strike in October, until the Moscow uprising. To the relentless expansion of the revolutionary struggle corresponds the quick and energetic development of its internal logic. Reaching in October its apogee by way of the application of the main weapon of the first phase of revolution – the general strike, the mass struggle outlives a momentary hitch, – due to the fact that the practical effect of this weapon in the October days runs out, having found its own limits, – in order to in the next moment sped the power of its proper dialectic toward a new and inevitable conclusion from the mass struggle of the proletariat – toward open struggle. The Moscow uprising – this is on the one side a critique of the revolution in relation to its own insufficiency (Unzulänglichkeit) in the first phase, on the other side the transition to the second higher phase, the transition from preliminary armed action against absolutism toward the real Gordian knot of struggle, through the elucidation of the revolution of its own development: toward the decisive fight for political power. The Moscow uprising was the beginning, the slogan of the second period of revolution, as the uprising of 9 January in St. Petersburg was the signal of the first period. The revolution had to go fully through further phases developing breadth and depth on the ground of open street battles with the old power, as it from January to October outlived it on the ground of strikes. Likewise, as the St. Petersburg strikes, expanding like a roll of thunder, moved into general storm of economic struggles, gripping Russia from corner to corner, exploding the social ground throughout the whole country and lifting on their feet the whole mass of the working class, – so also the Moscow uprising would have had to expand in a series of ubiquitous uprisings, which only matured inwardly and merge, finally, by force of its own logic, into a general uprising of the working class for open struggle, that could bring to the end the cause of the revolution, i.e. destroy the old power and clear the ground for a new political order. The Moscow uprising would have had to serve as a signal for a series of other uprisings, so that the revolution could further develop, go further forward, striving steadily toward its goals. From this follows, that the Moscow uprising by itself, in its isolation could not in any way end with victory, but follows also that its historical role in the destinies of the revolution as a whole has been little connected with its direct external success, since the bloody defeat – in appearances, the defeat – of 9 January did not prevent it by this event to become the moment of the birth of a great revolution. Whether to turn the defeat of the Moscow uprising in a signal for a new offensive movement of the revolution or a signal for the liquidation of the revolutionary period by absolutism – such is the question, placed before the proletariat after the December crisis. This or the other response decided the further destiny of the revolution for years, the moment being the turning point of the whole revolutionary development. The convocation of the first Duma meant an answer in the sense, of condemning the revolution to decline. The Duma, parodying popular representation and legislative assembly at the time, when the whole political power factually remains in the hands of absolutism and when the first attempt to wrest this power just ended with the defeat of the proletariat, could be in essence only a manoeuvre from the side of counter-revolution, a fort, at which the old power could aim at leisure its damaging battery and close ranks. To allow the convocation of this Duma, to take in it part meant for the proletariat to take part by its own hand in the openly liquidationary period, to embed a partial defeat, as a general one, to turn victory over the Moscow uprising into victory over the revolution, to halt the development of the revolutionary struggle and to begin the retreat on all lines.

Politicians, confusing the role of the vanguard, going before the fighting army of the proletariat, with the much more comfortable role strongly hindsighted ‘historians’ of its own movement, point with inexhaustible triumph to the fact that subsequent events proved the futility of the hope for the further spread of mass uprisings after the Moscow defeat. In fact, the line of straight development of the revolution proved at the time in tatters, the revolution was destined for a long time to be buried and the method of action and the operating basis, to withdraw in the tray of social life and start here with that great energy the work of class differentiation and accumulation of new material for future eruption. Undoubtedly, to ward off this turn was not in the power of this or the other tactic of Social Democracy. But this fact, that the vanguard of the revolutionary army entirely correctly assessed the internal logic and conditions of further development of struggle and did on the turning point everything that hangs on it, in order to delay the turn back of the wheel of events, that it strove to bring the situation to extreme revolutionary progression, to which in general it was possible to go, that it retreated only due to an undoubted decline of the revolution, only after the inevitability of it was revealed with one’s own eyes, and not in advance throwing down the weapon with the wise foresight and anticipation of defeat, this fact becomes one of the illustrious testimonies of truly revolutionary tactics on the pages of history of the ‘stormy period’ and redeems with its luster, maybe, partly the subsequent errors, made at the time of the first Duma and after its dissolution.

Such is the internal meaning of the boycott of the first Duma. Its revolutionariness lies not in this, so to say, technical side of this means of struggle, but in that aggregate of tactical moments, in that political content, for which the boycott served as only an outward expression.

Hence is understandable also that depressing feeling, with which the advanced layer of the proletarian army was forced to observe after the dispersal of the first Duma, that the decline of the revolution is not only a short episode, but a long gloomy streak. The hopes for a return to the period of mass revolutionary struggles had to have naturally rise after the liberal campaign in the first Duma, pushing aside the proletariat from the foreground of the revolution, suffered a resounding fiasco. Therefore, when Social Democracy decisively urged towards an alteration of the front – towards the participation in elections, openly observing by this the become inevitable necessity to change operating basis, it was no surprise, that the slogan of this caused, in numerous ranks of the proletariat not inspiration, but a feeling of depression and bewilderment. The lack of the love of the loud revolutionary word ‘boycott’ created, e.g., among Polish proletarians a very sluggish relation to elections in the second Duma, and the sense that participation in the elections is the explicit and formal recognition by the proletariat itself of the decline of the revolution.

The lessons of three years cannot pass in vain for Social Democracy, the first duty of which is learning from history. In the present time, given the whole evolution, gone through by social classes of Russia in the frame of the constitution of governmental turnover, given the continuing passivity of the labouring mass and the strengthened position of absolutism in internal and external politics, to carry as if nothing happened on further the tactical line of an urgent revolution, would mean to slam into full Don Quixotism. Not one serious politics can count in the following weeks or months upon a universal revolutionary explosion of the popular mass. On the contrary, the longer, the more it becomes clear, that for us could be necessary enduring preparatory work of political education and organisation of the proletariat, for it to be up to the height of the task, when a new rise of the revolution will ripen in an entirely new situation. It is clear further that a boycott of the Duma under such circumstances is not connected with any general tactical line, is cut off entirely from a general policy of the proletariat. Boycott in these conditions – is not the first barrage of an approaching army, but a blank shot, after which nothing can follow except an echo. This is the typical ‘passive resistance’ of blessed memory of the Berlin National Assembly. Taken in the contemporary concrete situation the slogan of recall of the Soc.-Dem. faction is not a ‘revolutionary tactic of the proletariat’, but the wretched tactic of the craven bourgeoisie, ‘the vain struggle of a calf against its slaughterer’.

One more side is noteworthy in the slogan of a boycott of the Black-Hundred Duma. It is justified by the compact counter-revolutionary character of the Duma, not giving space of agitational activity of Social-Democratic deputies. But the character and content of the venerable assembly in the Tauride Palace is not eliminated by the naked fact of its reactionariness. The decisive circumstance is that the third Duma – is already not the organ of counter-revolution of a governmental gang, but the organ of counter-revolution of the whole bourgeois society of Russia. In this lies the historical significance of the present Russian ‘parliament’ and hence emerges at once the necessity to bring likewise also into this ‘parliament’ the class struggle of the proletariat, no matter how heavy and difficult the conditions of this struggle would be.

III.

The most important, perhaps, particular tactical fault, residing in the slogan of recall of the Duma faction, is that the general psychological background, on which only this slogan also became possible. The very root of this current in the ranks of the party, which considers it needful to cause noise, baptised with the name ‘otzovism’, lies, although also not consciously, in the faithlessness in the future and in the objective guarantee of the resumption and victory of revolution. Only this ideological perplexity could cause the demand for an artificial, invented, arduous slogan of ‘revolutionariness’, to cause a propensity to adventure, instead of with quiet firmness use that untouched material for truly revolutionary agitation among the proletarian mass, which is delivered every day by the Stolypinist regime and at every step by the all-Russian counter-revolutionary club, the referred third Duma. As manifestation of a disgraceful decline of revolutionary spirit, this current deserves the most decisive rebuff from the side of the whole revolutionary Social Democracy.


Footnotes

1. Lenin’s response to this article: Two Letters.

2. A Decree of Eichmann’s. First published in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, No. 147, 19 November 1848. ‘Er gleicht sonst dem Sträuben des Kalbes gegen seinen Schlächter.’


First translation of “Революционное похмелье”, Proletary, No. 44, 8 (21) April 1909, pp. 3–6. Article in Russian: https://www.mediafire.com/?o8uomwjvb70svbs. Translated by Noa Rodman. Copied with thanks from the Libcom.org Website. Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.


Lenin wrote in a letter to Luxemburg: ‘Your article against the otzovists and ultimatumists has pleased everyone very much.’ At the conference of the extended editorial board of Proletary, Zinoviev mentioned her article: ‘And in fact the performance of the otzovists, as it was up to now, carries an anarchist character. This was indicated, for example, by Rosa Luxemburg, who cannot be suspected of any personal sympathies or antipathies, and who sharply opposed otzovism and ultimatumism.’ To this Bogdanov replied: ‘Remember, comrades, how the Mensheviks accused the Bolsheviks to be anarchists, to be petty-bourgeois. You probably noticed that I identify with the Lenin of 1904–05. This is done involuntarily. Grigory (Zinoviev) very well implicated Rosa Luxemburg, who in 1904–05 played the role of Menshevik supporting-voice, and now – of you.’ (From the minutes: Протоколы совещания расширенной редакции “Пролетария”, 1934, p. 294. Lenin’s interventions here. The report and resolutions of this conference can be found here.)

On 10 August 1909 Luxemburg wrote to Tyszka/Jogiches that she had ‘glanced at the report, because if one reads everything one becomes unwell. I have no idea, how the SDKPiL showed itself in relation to this strife; I think it’s a Tatar-Mongol game. That Gorky and Co. are not angry with us for my article on otzovism is proved by the attached letter of Bogdanov.’ (L. has in mind Bogdanov’s letter to Tyszka of 7 August 1909.)

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