Socialism and Anarchism

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V. I. Lenin


Written on November 24
(December 7), 1905
Published in Novaya Zhizn, No. 21,
November 25, 1905
Signed: N. Lenin

Published according
to the newspaper text

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972

First printing 1962
Second printing 1965
Third printing 1972

Vol. 10, pp. 71-74.

Translated from the Russian
Edited by Andrew Rothstein

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (November 2001)

page 71


    The Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies decided yesterday, November 23, to reject the application of the anarchists for representation on the Executive Committee and on the Soviet of Workers' Deputies. The Executive Committee itself has given the following reasons for this decision: "(1) In the whole of international practice, congresses and socialist conferences have never included representatives of the anarchists, since they do not recognise the political struggle as a means for the achievement of their ideals; (2) only parties can be represented, and the anarchists are not a party."

    We consider the decision of the Executive Committee to be in the highest degree correct, and of enormous importance from the point of view both of principle and of practical politics. If we were to regard the Soviet of Workers' Deputies as a workers' parliament or as an organ of proletarian self-government, then of course it would have been wrong to reject the application of the anarchists. However insignificant (fortunately) the influence of the anarchists among our workers may be, nevertheless, a certain number of workers undoubtedly support them. The question whether the anarchists constitute a party, an organisation, a group, or a voluntary association of like-minded people, is a formal question, and not of major importance in terms of principle. Lastly, if the anarchists, while rejecting the political struggle, apply for representation in an institution which is conducting such a struggle, this crying inconsistency merely goes to show once again how utterly unstable are the philosophy and tactics of the anarchists. But, of course, instability is no reason for excluding anyone from a "parliament", or an "organ of self-government".

page 72

    We regard the decision of the Executive Committee as absolutely correct and in no way contradicting the functions, the character and the composition of this body. The Soviet of Workers' Deputies is not a labour parliament and not an organ of proletarian self-government, nor an organ of self-government at all, but a fighting organisation for the achievement of definite aims.

    This fighting organisation includes, on the basis of a temporary, unwritten fighting agreement, representatives of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (the party of proletarian socialism), of the "Socialist-Revolutionary" Party (the representatives of petty-bourgeois socialism, or the extreme Left wing of revolutionary bourgeois democrats), and finally many "non-party" workers. The latter, however, are not non-party in general, but are non-party revolutionaries, their sympathies being entirely on the side of the revolution, for the victory of which they are fighting with boundless enthusiasm, energy and self-sacrifice. For that reason it will be quite natural to include representatives of the revolutionary peasantry in the Executive Committee.

    For all practical purposes, the Soviet of Workers' Deputies is an inchoate, broad fighting alliance of socialists and revolutionary democrats, the term "non-party revolutionary", of course, representing a series of transitional stages between the former and the latter. Such an alliance is obviously necessary for the purpose of conducting political strikes and other, more active forms of struggle, for the urgent democratic demands which have been accepted and approved by the over whelming majority of the population. In an alliance of this sort, the anarchists will not be an asset, but a liability; they will merely bring disorganisation and thus weaken the force of the joint assault; to them it is still "debatable" whether political reform is urgent and important. The exclusion of anarchists from the fighting alliance which is carrying out, as it were, our democratic revolution, is quite necessary from the point of view of this revolution and is in its interests.<"p72"> There can be a place in a fighting alliance only for those who fight for the aim of that alliance. If, for example, the "Cadets" or the "Party of Law and Order"[33] had managed to recruit at least several hundred workers into their St. Petersburg branches, the Executive Committee of the

page 73

Soviet of Workers' Deputies would hardly have opened its doors to the representatives of such organisations.

    In explaining its decision, the Executive Committee refers to the practice of international socialist congresses. We warmly welcome this statement, this recognition by the executive body of the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Deputies of the ideological leadership of the international Social-Democratic movement. The Russian revolution has already acquired international significance. The enemies of the revolution in Russia are already conspiring with Wilhelm II and with all sorts of reactionaries, tyrants, militarists and exploiters in Europe against free Russia. Neither shall we forget that the complete victory of our revolution demands an alliance of the revolutionary proletariat of Russia with the socialist workers of all countries.

    It is not for nothing that international socialist congresses adopted the decision not to admit the anarchists. A wide gulf separates socialism from anarchism, and it is in vain that the agents-provocateurs of the secret police and the newspaper lackeys of reactionary governments pretend that this gulf does not exist. The philosophy of the anarchists is bourgeois philosophy turned inside out. Their individualistic theories and their individualistic ideal are the very opposite of socialism. Their views express, not the future of bourgeois society, which is striding with irresistible force towards the socialisation of labour, but the present and even the past of that society, the domination of blind chance over the scattered and isolated small producer. Their tactics, which amount to a repudiation of the political struggle, disunite the proletarians and convert them in fact into passive participators in one bourgeois policy or another, since it is impossible and unrealisable for the workers really to dissociate themselves from politics.

    In the present Russian revolution, the task of rallying the forces of the proletariat, of organising it, of politically educating and training the working class, is more imperative than ever. The more outrageous the conduct of the Black-Hundred government, the more zealously its agents-provocateurs strive to fan base passions among the ignorant masses and the more desperately the defenders of the autocracy, which is rotting alive, clutch at every opportunity

page 74

to discredit the revolution by organising hold-ups, pogroms and assassinations, and by fuddling lumpen proletarians with drink, the more important is the task of organisation that falls primarily to the party of the socialist proletariat. And we shall therefore resort to every means of ideological struggle to keep the influence of the anarchists over the Russian workers just as negligible as it has been so far.


page 587



  <"en33">[33] The Party of Law and Order -- a counter-revolutionary organisation of the big commercial and industrial bourgeoisie, the landlords and the top ranks of the bureaucracy, founded in the autumn of 1905. It fully supported the tsarist regime, and welcomed the dissolution of the First Duma. During the elections to the Second Duma it formed a bloc with the Black-Hundred Union of True Russians. It fell apart in 1907.    [p. 72]