V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written between November 24 and 29 (December 7 and 12), 1912
Published: First published in 1954 in the journal Kommunist No. 6. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 209-210.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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We noted in Pravda the other day (see No.   )[1] the article by the student M. which provides remarkably valuable material about “student moods”. On students’ party affiliation, the writer says:

Of course, a comparatively limited section of the students are members of Left-wing organisations. In existing conditions, it could not be otherwise, and in general the strength of organisations is determined not by the number of their members, but by their influence on the masses. It is hard to make a guess about the future, but it should be pointed out that today the Left-wing organisations are marching in step with the mass of the students” (Zaprosy Zhizni[2] No. 47).

The author is quite right when he says that with us in Russia, particularly in the current political conditions, “the strength of organisations is determined not by the number of their members, but by their influence on the masses”. This would not hold true for Europe; nor would it hold true for Russia in the autumn of 1905; but for present-day Russia it is so true that one might even venture what looks like a paradox: the number of members of an organisation should not exceed a definite minimum, if its influence on the masses is to be broad and stable!

But what is the party attitude of these “Left-wing” organisations among the students? Student M. writes:

It should be particularly noted that one does not feel any dissension among the individual Left-wing organisations. Such dissension was particularly strong three or so years ago, during the period of lull and inaction. There were cases when elections to canteen commissions and the like were held according to party lists. Now these divisions have almost disappeared, partly because everyone has realised the need to join forces for common action, partly because the old party   positions have been unsettled and the new ones have yet to be consolidated.”

There can be no doubt that in this respect, as well, the students provide a reflection of an all-Russia phenomenon. Everywhere, throughout the democratic movement, and also among the workers, “the old party positions have been unsettled and the new ones have yet to be consolidated ”. What is liquidationism? It is either a pusillanimous concession to the spirit of the times, to the atmosphere of “unsettlement” of the old party positions, or the malicious utilisation of this unsettlement by the liberals.

The task of the whole democratic movement is to fight with all its strength against this “unsettlement”, and to achieve a precise, clear, definite, thoughtful “ consolidation” of the “new positions”. It would be a great mistake to confuse the arguments and discussions on party (and inner-party) platforms with “dissensions”.

It is absolutely necessary “to join forces for common action”, including, for instance, those of Marxists and Narodniks. This does not obviate a definite party stand, but, on the contrary, demands it. It is possible to combine action only when there is real unity of conviction as to whether the particular action is necessary. That is as clear as daylight. Russian democracy has been the worse for trying to “join forces” for democratic action with non- democrats, with the liberals!

Try and “join the forces” of the supporters, shall we say, of political strikes with the “forces” of their adversaries: there will obviously be harm for the “action”. Hence, the first thing to do is to achieve a clear, definite, precise, well-thought-out delimitation of “positions”, platforms and programmes—and then to combine the forces that can march together by conviction and social nature; combine them only for the action on which unanimity can be expected. Then, and only then, will any good come of the undertaking.

V. I.


[1] The article did not appear in Pravda.

[2] Zaprosy Zhizni (Demands of Life)—a weekly, published in St.  Petersburg from 1909 to 1912. Cadets, Popular Socialists and Menshevik-liquidators contributed to the magazine. The article by student M., “Student Moods”, appeared in No. 47 on November 23, 1912.

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