Written: Written in the second half of 1899
Published: First published in 1925 in Lenin Miscellany III.
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
LETTER TO THE EDITORIAL GROUP
In response to your request I am sending three articles for the newspaper and deem it essential to say a few words about my collaboration in general and the relations between us in particular.
From your previous communication I gathered that you wanted to found a publishing firm and give me a series of Social-Democratic pamphlets to edit.
Now I see that matters are different, that you have set up your Editorial Board, which is beginning the publication of a newspaper and invites me to collaborate.
Needless to say, I agree willingly to this proposal as well, but I must state, in doing so, that I consider successful collaboration possible only on the following terms: 1) regular relations between the editors and the collaborator, who shall be informed of decisions on all manuscripts (accepted, rejected, changed) and of all publications of your firm; 2) my articles to be signed with a special pseudonym (if the one I sent you has been lost, choose another yourselves); 3) agreement between the editors and the collaborator on fundamental views concerning theoretical questions, concerning immediate practical tasks, and concerning the desired character of the newspaper (or series of pamphlets).
I hope the editors will agree to these terms and, in order to effect the earliest possible agreement between us, I will deal in brief with the questions arising out of the third condition.
I am informed that you find that “the old current is strong” and that there is no particular need for a polemic against Bernsteinism and its Russian echoers. I consider this view to be too optimistic. Bernstein’s public announcement that the majority of the Russian Social-Democrats agree with him; the split between the “young” Russian Social-Democrats abroad and the Emancipation of Labour group which is the founder, the representative, and the most faithful custodian of the “old current”; the vain efforts of Rabochaya Mysl to say some new word, to revolt against the “extensive” political tasks, to raise petty matters and amateurish work to the heights of apotheosis, to wax vulgarly ironical over “revolutionary theories” (No. 7, “In Passing”); lastly, complete disorder in the legal Marxist literature and the frantic efforts on the part of the majority of its representatives to seize upon Bernsteinism, the “criticism” à la mode—all this, in my opinion, serves to show clearly that the re-establishment of the “old current” and its energetic defence is a matter of real urgency.
You will see from the articles what my views on the tasks of the paper and the plan of its publication are, and I should very much like to know the extent of our solidarity on this question (unfortunately the articles have been written in somewhat of a hurry: it is very important for me to know the deadline for their delivery).
I think it is necessary to launch a direct polemic against Rabochaya Mysl, but for this purpose I should like to receive Nos. 1-2, 6, and those following 7; also Proletarskaya Borba. I need the last-named pamphlet also in order to review it in the paper.
As to length, you write that I am to impose no constraint on myself. I think that as long as there is a newspaper I shall give preference to newspaper articles and deal in them even with pamphlet themes, reserving for myself the right to work the articles up into pamphlets at a later date. The subjects with which I propose to deal in the immediate future are: 1) the Draft Programme (I’ll send it soon); 2) questions of tactics and organisation that are to be discussed at the next congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party; 3) a pamphlet on rules of conduct for workers and socialists at liberty, in prison, and in exile—modelled after the Polish pamphlet (on “rides of conduct”—if you can, I should like you to obtain it for me); 4) strikes (I —their significance, II—laws on strikes; Ill—a review of some of the strikes of recent years); 5) the pamphlet, Woman and the Working-Class Cause, and others.
I should like to know approximately what material the Editorial Board has in hand, so as to avoid repetition and the tackling of questions that have already been “exhausted.”
I shall await an answer from the Editorial Board through the same channels. (Apart from this way I have not had nor have I any other means of communicating with your group.)
 Russian opportunists, the “economists” and the Bundists, were in agreement with Bernstein’s views. In his Premises of Socialism, Bernstein represented their agreement with his views as being that of the majority of the Russian Social-Democrats.
 This is a reference to the split in the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad at its first conference held in Zurich in November 1898.
 The collection, Proletarskaya Borba (Proletarian Struggle), No. 1, published by the Social-Democratic group of the Urals, was printed in the winter of 1898-99 at the group’s own press. The writers who prepared the collection adopted an “economist” position, denied the necessity for an independent working-class political p arty and believed that the political revolution could be effected by a general strike. Lenin characterised the views of the authors of this collection in an assessment in Chapter IV of What Is to Be Done? (see present edition, Vol. 5).
 The reference is to “A Draft Programme of Our Party” (see pp. 227-54 of this volume).
 This refers to the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., which was to have been convened in the spring of 1900. For Lenin’s attitude to the convening of a congress at this time see pp. 323 and 353 of this volume.
International Social-Democracy is at present in a state of ideological wavering. Hitherto the doctrines of Marx and Engels were considered to be the firm foundation of revolutionary theory, but voices are now being raised every where to proclaim these doctrines inadequate and obsolete. Whoever declares himself to be a Social-Democrat and intends to publish a Social-Democratic organ must define precisely his attitude to a question that is preoccupying the attention of the German Social-Democrats and not of them alone.
We take our stand entirely on the Marxist theoretical position: Marxism was the first to transform socialism from a utopia into a science, to lay a firm foundation for this science, and to indicate the path that must be followed in further developing and elaborating it in all its parts. It disclosed the nature of modern capitalist economy by explaining how the hire of the labourer, the purchase of labour-power, conceals the enslavement of millions of propertyless people by a handful of capitalists, the owners of the land, factories, mines, and so forth. It showed that all modern capitalist development displays the tendency of large-scale production to eliminate petty production and creates conditions that make a socialist system of society possible and necessary. It taught us how to discern, beneath the pall of rooted customs, political intrigues, abstruse laws, and intricate doctrines—the class struggle, the struggle between the propertied classes in all their variety and the propertyless mass, the proletariat, which is at the head of all the propertyless. It made clear the real task of a revolutionary socialist party: not to draw up plans for refashioning society, not to preach to the capitalists and their hangers-on about improving the lot of the workers, not to hatch conspiracies, but to organise the class struggle of the proletariat and to lead this struggle, the ultimate aim of which is the conquest of political power by the proletariat and the organisation of a socialist society.
And we now ask: Has anything new been introduced into this theory by its loud-voiced “renovators” who are raising so much noise in our day and have grouped themselves around the German socialist Bernstein? Absolutely nothing. Not by a single step have they advanced the science which Marx and Engels enjoined us to develop; they have not taught the proletariat any new methods of struggle; they have only retreated, borrowing fragments of backward theories and preaching to the proletariat, not the theory of struggle, but the theory of concession—concession to the most vicious enemies of the proletariat, the governments and bourgeois parties who never tire of seeking new means of baiting the socialists. Plekhanov, one of the founders and leaders of Russian Social-Democracy, was entirely right in ruthlessly criticising Bernstein’s latest “critique”; the views of Bern stein have now been rejected by the representatives of the German workers as well (at the Hannover Congress).
We anticipate a flood of accusations for these words; the shouts will rise that we want to convert the socialist party into an order of “true believers” that persecutes “heretics” for deviations from “dogma,” for every independent opinion, and so forth. We know about all these fashionable and trenchant phrases. Only there is not a grain of truth or sense in them. There can be no strong socialist party without a revolutionary theory which unites all socialists, from which they draw all their convictions, and which they apply in their methods of struggle and means of action. To defend such a theory, which to the best of your knowledge you consider to be true, against unfounded attacks and at tempts to corrupt it is not to imply that you are an enemy of all criticism. We do not regard Marx’s theory as some thing completed and inviolable; on the contrary, we are convinced that it has only laid the foundation stone of the science which socialists must develop in all directions if they wish to keep pace with life. We think that an independent elaboration of Marx’s theory is especially essential for Russian socialists; for this theory provides only general guiding principles, which, in particular, are applied in England differently than in France, in France differently than in Germany, and in Germany differently than in Russia. We shall therefore gladly afford space in our paper for articles on theoretical questions and we invite all comrades openly to discuss controversial points.
What are the main questions that arise in the application to Russia of the programme common to all Social-Democrats? We have stated that the essence of this programme is to organise the class struggle of the proletariat and to lead this struggle, the ultimate aim of which is the conquest of political power by the proletariat and the establishment of a socialist society. The class struggle of the proletariat comprises the economic struggle (struggle against individual capitalists or against individual groups of capitalists for the improvement of the workers’ condition) and the political struggle (struggle against the government for the broadening of the people’s rights, i.e., for democracy, and for the broadening of the political power of the proletariat). Some Russian Social-Democrats (among them apparently those who direct Rabochaya Mysl) regard the economic struggle as incomparably the more important and almost go so far as to relegate the political struggle to the more or less distant future.
This standpoint is utterly false. All Social- Democrats are agreed that it is necessary to organise the economic struggle of the working class, that it is necessary to carry on agitation among the workers on this basis, i.e., to help the workers in their day-to-day struggle against the employers, to draw their attention to every form and every case of oppression and in this way to make clear to them the necessity for combination. But to forget the political struggle for the economic would mean to depart from the basic principle of international Social-Democracy, it would mean to forget what the entire history of the labour movement teaches us. The confirmed adherents of the bourgeoisie and of the government which serves it have even made repeated attempts to organise purely economic unions of workers and to divert them in this way from “politics,” from socialism. It is quite possible that the Russian Government, too, may undertake something of the kind, as it has always endeavoured to throw some paltry sops or, rather, sham sops, to the people, only to turn their thoughts away from the fact that they are oppressed and without rights. No economic struggle can bring the workers any lasting improvement, or can even be conducted on a large scale, unless the workers have the right freely to organise meetings and unions, to have their own newspapers, and to send their representatives to the national assemblies, as do the workers in Germany and all other European countries (with the exception of Turkey and Russia). But in order to win these rights it is necessary to wage a political struggle. In Russia, not only the workers, but all citizens are deprived of political rights. Russia is an absolute and unlimited monarchy. The tsar alone promulgates laws, appoints officials and controls them. For this reason, it seems as though in Russia the tsar and the tsarist government are independent of all classes and accord equal treatment to all. But in reality all officials are chosen exclusively from the propertied class and all are subject to the influence of the big capitalists, who make the ministers dance to their tune and who achieve whatever they want. The Russian working class is burdened by a double yoke; it is robbed and plundered by the capitalists and the landlords, and to prevent it from fighting them, the police bind it hand and foot, gag it, and every attempt to defend the rights of the people is persecuted. Every strike against a capitalist results in the military and police being let loose on the workers. Every economic struggle necessarily becomes a political struggle, and Social-Democracy must indissolubly combine the one with the other into a single class struggle of the proletariat.
The first and chief aim of such a struggle must be the conquest of political rights, the conquest of political liberty. If the workers of St. Petersburg alone, with a little help from the socialists, have rapidly succeeded in wringing a concession from the government—the adoption of the law on the reduction of the working day—then the Russian working class as a whole, led by a single Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, will be able, in persistent struggle, to win incomparably more important concessions.
The Russian working class is able to wage its economic and political struggle alone, even if no other class comes to its aid. But in the political struggle the workers do not stand alone. The people’s complete lack of rights and the savage lawlessness of the bashi-bazouk officials rouse the indignation of all honest educated people who cannot reconcile themselves to the persecution of free thought and free speech; they rouse the indignation of the persecuted Poles, Finns, Jews, and Russian religious sects; they rouse the indignation of the small merchants, manufacturers, and peasants, who can nowhere find protection from the persecution of officials and police. All these groups of the population are incapable, separately, of carrying on a persistent political struggle. But when the working class raises the banner of this struggle, it will receive support from all sides. Russian Social-Democracy will place itself at the head of all fighters for the rights of the people, of all fighters for democracy, and it will prove invincible!
These are our fundamental views, and we shall develop them systematically and from every aspect in our paper. We are convinced that in this way we shall tread the path which has been indicated by the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in its published Manifesto.
 The reference is to Plekhanov’s article, “Bernstein and Materialism,” published in issue No. 44 of Neue Zeit (New Times), organ of the German Social-Democrats, in July 1898.
 The Hannover Congress of the German Social-Democrats was held in 1899 from September 27 to October 2 (October 9-14). In the discussion of the chief point on the agenda, “The Attack on the Fundamental Views and Tactics of the Party,” the Congress voted against Bernstein’s revisionist views, without, however, subjecting them to an extensive criticism.
 The law of June 2 (14), 1897, establishing an eleven-and-a-half- hour day for industrial enterprises and railway workshops. Prior to this the working day in Russia had not been regulated and was as long as fourteen or fifteen hours. The tsarist government was forced to issue the June 2 law because of pressure on the part of the working-class movement headed by the Leninist “League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class.” Lenin made a detailed analysis and criticism of the law in a pamphlet entitled The New Factory Law (see present edition, Vol. 2, pp. 267-315).
OUR IMMEDIATE TASK
The Russian working-class movement is today going through a period of transition. The splendid beginning achieved by the Social-Democratic workers’ organisations in the Western area, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and other cities was consummated by the formation of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (spring 1898). Russian Social-Democracy seems to have exhausted, for the time being, all its strength in making this tremendous step forward and has gone back to the former isolated functioning of separate local organisations. The Party has not ceased to exist, it has only withdrawn into itself in order to gather strength and put the unification of all Russian Social-Democrats on a sound footing. To effect this unification, to evolve a suitable form for it and to get rid completely of narrow local isolation—such is the immediate and most urgent task of the Russian Social-Democrats.
We are all agreed that our task is that of the organization of the proletarian class struggle. But what is this class struggle? When the workers of a single factory or of a single branch of industry engage in struggle against their employer or employers, is this class struggle? No, this is only a weak embryo of it. The struggle of the workers becomes a class struggle only when all the foremost representatives of the entire working class of the whole country are conscious of themselves as a single working class and launch a struggle that is directed, not against individual employers, but against the entire class of capitalists and against the government that supports that class. Only when the individual worker realises that he is a member of the entire working class, only when he recognises the fact that his petty day-to-day struggle against individual employers and individual government officials is a struggle against the entire bourgeoisie and the entire government, does his struggle become a class struggle. “Every class struggle is a political struggle”—these famous words of Marx are not to be understood to mean that any struggle of workers against employers must always be a political struggle. They must be understood to mean that the struggle of the workers against, the capitalists inevitably becomes a political struggle insofar as it becomes a class struggle. It is the task of the Social-Democrats, by organising the workers, by conducting propaganda and agitation among them, to turn their spontaneous struggle against their oppressors into the struggle of the whole class, into the struggle of a definite political party for definite political and socialist ideals. This is some thing that cannot be achieved by local activity alone.
Local Social-Democratic activity has attained a fairly high level in our country. The seeds of Social-Democratic ideas have been broadcast throughout Russia; workers’ leaf lets—the earliest form of Social-Democratic literature—are known to all Russian workers from St. Petersburg to Krasnoyarsk, from the Caucasus to the Urals. All that is now lacking is the unification of all this local work into the work of a single party. Our chief drawback, to the overcoming of which we must devote all our energy, is the narrow “amateurish” character of local work. Because of this amateurish character many manifestations of the working-class movement in Russia remain purely local events and lose a great deal of their significance as examples for the whole of Russian Social-Democracy, as a stage of the whole Russian working-class movement. Because of this amateurishness, the consciousness of their community of interests throughout Russia is insufficiently inculcated in the workers, they do not link up their struggle sufficiently with the idea of Russian socialism and Russian democracy. Because of this amateurishness the comrades’ varying views on theoretical and practical problems are not openly discussed in a central newspaper, they do not serve the purpose of elaborating a common programme and devising common tactics for the Party, they are lost in narrow study-circle life or they lead to the inordinate exaggeration of local and chance peculiarities. Enough of our amateurishness! We have attained sufficient maturity to go over to common action, to the elaboration of a common Party programme, to the joint discussion of our Party tactics and organisation.
Russian Social-Democracy has done a great deal in criticising old revolutionary and socialist theories; it has not limited itself to criticism and theorising alone; it has shown that its programme is not hanging in the air but is meeting the extensive spontaneous movement among the people, that is, among the factory proletariat. It has now to make the following, very difficult, but very important, step—to elaborate an organisation of the movement adapted to our conditions. Social-Democracy is not confined to simple service to the working-class movement: it represents “the combination of socialism and the working-class movement” (to use Karl Kautsky’s definition which repeats the basic ideas of the Communist Manifesto); the task of Social-Democracy is to bring definite socialist ideals to the spontaneous working-class movement, to connect this movement with socialist convictions that should attain the level of contemporary science, to connect it with the regular political struggle for democracy as a means of achieving socialism—in a word, to fuse this spontaneous movement into one indestructible whole with the activity of the revolutionary party. The history of socialism and democracy in Western Europe, the history of the Russian revolutionary movement, the experience of our working-class movement—such is the material we must master to elaborate a purposeful organisation and purposeful tactics for our Party. “The analysis” of this material must, however, be done in dependently, since there are no ready-made models to be found anywhere. On the one hand, the Russian working-class movement exists under conditions that are quite different from those of Western Europe. It would be most dangerous to have any illusions on this score. On the other hand, Russian Social-Democracy differs very substantially from former revolutionary parties in Russia, so that the necessity of learning revolutionary technique and secret organisation from the old Russian masters (we do not in the least hesitate to admit this necessity) does not in any way relieve us of the duty of assessing them critically and elaborating our own organisation independently.
In the presentation of such a task there are two main questions that come to the fore with particular insistence: 1) How is the need for the complete liberty of local Social- Democratic activity to be combined with the need for establishing a single—and, consequently, a centralist—party? Social-Democracy draws its strength from the spontaneous working-class movement that manifests itself differently and at different times in the various industrial centres; the activity of the local Social-Democratic organisations is the basis of all Party activity. If, however, this is to be the activity of isolated “amateurs,” then it cannot, strictly speaking, be called Social-Democratic, since it will not be the organisation and leadership of the class struggle of the proletariat. 2) How can we combine the striving of Social-Democracy to become a revolutionary party that makes the struggle for political liberty its chief purpose with the determined refusal of Social-Democracy to organise political conspiracies, its emphatic refusal to “call the workers to the barricades” (as correctly noted by P. B. Axelrod), or, in general, to impose on the workers this or that “plan” for an attack on the government, which has been thought up by a company of revolutionaries?
Russian Social-Democracy has every right to believe that it has provided the theoretical solution to these questions; to dwell on this would mean to repeat what has been said in the article, “Our Programme.” It is now a matter of the practical solution to these questions. This is not a solution that can be made by a single person or a single group; it can be provided only by the organised activity of Social- Democracy as a whole. We believe that the most urgent task of the moment consists in undertaking the solution of these questions, for which purpose we must have as our immediate aim the founding of a Party organ that will appear regularly and be closely connected with all the local groups. We believe that all the activity of the Social-Democrats should be directed to this end throughout the whole of the forthcoming period. Without such an organ, local work will remain narrowly “amateurish.” The formation of the Party—if the correct representation of that Party in a certain newspaper is not organised—will to a considerable extent remain bare words. An economic struggle that is not united by a central organ cannot become the class struggle of the entire Russian proletariat. It is impossible to conduct a political struggle if the Party as a whole fails to make statements on all questions of policy and to give direction to the various manifestations of the struggle. The organisation and disciplining of the revolutionary forces and the development of revolutionary technique are impossible without the discussion of all these questions in a central organ, without the collective elaboration of certain forms and rules for the conduct of affairs, without the establishment—through the central organ—of every Party member’s responsibility to the entire Party.
In speaking of the necessity to concentrate all Party forces—all literary forces, all organisational abilities, all material resources, etc.—on the foundation and correct conduct of the organ of the whole Party, we do not for a moment think of pushing other forms of activity into the background—e.g., local agitation, demonstrations, boycott, the persecution of spies, the bitter campaigns against individual representatives of the bourgeoisie and the government, protest strikes, etc., etc. On the contrary, we are convinced that all these forms of activity constitute the basis of the Party’s activity, but, without their unification through an organ of the whole Party, these forms of revolutionary struggle lose nine-tenths 01 their significance; they do not lead to the creation of common Party experience, to the creation of Party traditions and continuity. The Party organ, far from competing with such activity, will exercise tremendous influence on its extension, consolidation, and systematisation.
The necessity to concentrate all forces on establishing a regularly appearing and regularly delivered organ arises out of the peculiar situation of Russian Social-Democracy as compared with that of Social-Democracy in other European countries and with that of the old Russian revolutionary parties. Apart from newspapers, the workers of Germany, France, etc., have numerous other means for the public manifestation of their activity, for organising the movement— parliamentary activity, election agitation, public meetings, participation in local public bodies (rural and urban), the open conduct of trade unions (professional, guild), etc., etc. In place of all of that, yes, all of that, we must be served—until we have won political liberty—by a revolutionary newspaper, without which no broad organisation of the entire working-class movement is possible. We do not believe in conspiracies, we renounce individual revolutionary ventures to destroy the government; the words of Liebknecht, veteran of German Social-Democracy, serve as the watchword of our activities: “Studieren, propagandieren, organisieren”— Learn, propagandise, organize — and the pivot of this activity can and must be only the organ of the Party.
But is the regular and more or less stable establishment of such an organ possible, and under what circumstances is it possible? We shall deal with this matter next time.
 Marx and Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party (Select ed Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, pp. 42-43). P. 216
AN URGENT QUESTION
In the previous article we said that our immediate task is to establish a Party organ, one that appears and can be delivered regularly, and we raised the question of whether and under what circumstances it is possible to achieve this aim. Let us examine the more important aspects of this question.
The main objection that may be raised is that the achievement of this purpose first requires the development of local group activity. We consider this fairly widespread opinion to be fallacious. We can and must immediately set about founding the Party organ—and, it follows, the Party itself—and putting them on a sound footing. The conditions essential to such a step already exist: local Party work is being carried on and obviously has struck deep roots; for the destructive police attacks that are growing more frequent lead to only short interruptions; fresh forces rapidly replace those that have fallen in battle. The Party has resources for publishing and literary forces, not only abroad, but in Russia as well. The question, therefore, is whether the work that is already being conducted should be continued in “amateur” fashion or whether it should be organised into the work of one party and in such a way that it is reflected in its entirety in one common organ.
Here we come to the most urgent question of our movement, to its sore point—organisation. The improvement of revolutionary organisation and discipline, the perfection of our underground technique are an absolute necessity. We must openly admit that in this respect we are lagging behind the old Russian revolutionary parties and must bend all our efforts to overtake and surpass them. Without improved organisation there can be no progress of our working-class movement in general, and no establishment of an active party with a properly functioning organ, in particular. That is on the one hand. On the other, the existing Party organs (organs in the sense of institutions and groups, as well as newspapers) must pay greater attention to questions of organisation and exert an influence in this respect on local groups.
Local, amateurish work always leads to a great excess of personal connections, to study-circle methods, and we have grown out of the study-circle stage which has become too narrow for our present-day work and which leads to an over-expenditure of forces. Only fusion into a single party will enable us strictly to observe the principles of division of labour and economy of forces, which must be achieved in order to reduce the losses and build as reliable a bulwark as possible against the oppression of the autocratic government and against its frantic persecutions. Against us, against the tiny groups of socialists hidden in the expanses of the Russian “underground,” there stands the huge machine of a most powerful modern state that is exerting all its forces to crush socialism and democracy. We are convinced that we shall, in the end, smash that police state, because all the sound and developing sections of our society are in favour of democracy and socialism; but, in order to conduct a systematic struggle against the government, we must raise revolutionary organisation, discipline, and the technique of underground work to the highest degree of perfection. It is essential for individual Party members or separate groups of members to specialise in the different aspects of Party work—some in the duplication of literature, others in its transport across the frontier, a third category in its distribution inside Russia, a fourth in its distribution in the cities, a fifth in the arrangement of secret meeting places, a sixth in the collection of funds, a seventh in the delivery of correspondence and all information about the movement, an eighth in maintaining relations, etc., etc. We know that this sort of specialisation requires much greater self-restraint, much greater ability to concentrate on modest, unseen, everyday work, much greater real heroism than the usual work in study circles.
The Russian socialists and the Russian working class, however, have shown their heroic qualities and, in general, it would be a sin to complain of a shortage of people. There is to be observed among the working youth an impassioned, uncontrollable enthusiasm for the ideas of democracy and socialism, and helpers for the workers still continue to arrive from among the intellectuals, despite the fact that the prisons and places of exile are overcrowded. If the idea of the necessity for a stricter organisation is made widely known among all these recruits to the revolutionary cause, the plan for the organisation of a regularly published and delivered Party newspaper will cease to be a dream. Let us take one of the conditions for the success of this plan—that the news paper be assured a regular supply of correspondence and other material from everywhere. Has not history shown that at all times when there has been a resurgence of our revolutionary movement such a purpose has proved possible of achievement even in respect of papers published abroad? If Social-Democrats working in various localities come to regard the Party newspaper as their own and consider the maintenance of regular contact with it, the discussion of their problems and the reflection of the whole movement in it to be their main task, it will be quite possible to ensure the supply to the paper of full information about the movement, provided methods of maintaining secrecy, not very complicated ones, are observed. The other aspect of the question, that of delivering the newspaper regularly to all parts of Russia, is much more difficult, more difficult than the similar task under previous forms of revolutionary movement in Russia when newspapers were not, to such an extent, intended for the masses of the people. The purpose of Social-Democratic newspapers, however, facilitates their distribution. The chief places to which the newspaper must be delivered regularly and in large numbers are the industrial centres, factory villages and towns, the factory districts of big cities, etc. In such centres the population is almost entirely working class; in actual fact the worker in such places is master of the situation and has hundreds of ways of outwitting the police; relations with neighbouring factory centres are distinguished by their extraordinary activity. At the time of the Exceptional Law against the Socialists (1878-90) the German political police did not function worse, but probably better, than the Russian police; nevertheless, the German workers, thanks to their organisation and discipline, were able to ensure the regular transport across the frontiers of a weekly illegal newspaper and to deliver it to the houses of all subscribers, so that even the ministers could not refrain from admiring the Social-Democratic post (“the red mail”). We do not, of course, dream of such successes, but we can, if we bend our efforts towards it, ensure that our Party newspaper appears no less than twelve times a year and is regularly delivered in all the main centres of the movement to all groups of workers that can be reached by socialism.
To return to the question of specialisation, we must also point out that its insufficiency is due partially to the dominance of “amateur’ work and partially to the fact that our Social-Democratic newspapers usually devote far too little attention to questions of organisation.
Only the establishment of a common Party organ can give the “worker in a given field” of revolutionary activity the consciousness that he is marching with the “rank and file,” the consciousness that his work is directly essential to the Party, that he is one of the links in the chain that will form a noose to strangle the most evil enemy of the Russian proletariat and of the whole Russian people—the Russian autocratic government. Only strict adherence to this type of specialisation can economise our forces; not only will every aspect of revolutionary work be carried out by a smaller number of people, but there will be an opportunity to make a number of aspects of present-day activities legal affairs. This legalisation of activity, its conduct within the framework of the law, has long been advised for Russian socialists by Vorwärts (Forward), the chief organ of the German Social-Democrats. At first sight one is astonished at such advice, but in actual fact it merits careful attention. Almost everyone who has worked in a local study circle in some city will easily remember that among the numerous and diverse affairs in which the circle engaged some were, in themselves, legal (e.g. the gathering of information on the workers’ conditions; the study of legal literature on many questions; consultation and reviewing of certain types of foreign literature; maintenance of certain kinds of relations; aid to workers in obtaining a general education, in studying factory laws, etc.). Making affairs of this sort the specific function of a special contingent of people would reduce the strength of the revolutionary army “in the firing line” (without any reduction of its “fighting potential”) and increase the strength of the reserve, those who replace the “killed and wounded.” This will be possible only when both the active members and the reserve see their activities reflected in the common organ of the Party and sense their connection with it. Local meetings of workers and local groups will, of course, always be necessary, no matter to what extent we carry out our specialisation; but, on the one hand, the number of mass revolutionary meetings (particularly dangerous from the standpoint of police action and often having results far from commensurate with the danger involved) will become considerably less and, on the other hand, the selection of various aspects of revolutionary work as special functions will provide greater opportunities to screen such meetings behind legal forms of assembly: entertainments, meetings of societies sanctioned by law, etc. Were not the French workers under Napoleon III and the German workers at the time of the Exceptional Law against the Socialists able to devise all possible ways to cover up their political and socialist meetings? Russian workers will be able to do likewise.
Further: only by better organisation and the establishment of a common Party organ will it be possible to extend and deepen the very content of Social-Democratic propaganda and agitation. We stand in great need of this. Local work must almost inevitably lead to the exaggeration of local particularities, to . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . this is impossible without a central organ which will, at the same time, be an advanced democratic organ. Only then will our urge to convert. Social-Democracy into a leading fighter for democracy become reality. Only then, too, shall we be able to work out definite political tactics. Social- Democracy has renounced the fallacious theory of the “one reactionary mass.” It regards utilisation of the support of the progressive classes against the reactionary classes to be one of the most important political tasks. As long as the organisations and publications are local in character, this task can hardly be carried out at all: matters do not go farther than relations with individual “liberals” and the extraction of various “services” from them. Only a common Party organ, consistently implementing the principles of political struggle and holding high the banner of democracy will be able to win over to its side all militant democratic elements and use all Russia’s progressive forces in the struggle for political freedom. Only then shall we be able to convert the workers’ smouldering hatred of the police and the authorities into conscious hatred of the autocratic government and into determination to conduct a desperate struggle for the rights of the working class and of the entire Russian people! In modern Russia, a strictly organised revolutionary party built up on this foundation will prove the greatest political force!
In subsequent issues we shall publish the draft programme of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and begin a more detailed discussion of the various organisational questions.
 Part of the manuscript is not extant.—Ed.
 The Exceptional Law Against the Socialists was promulgated in Germany in 1878. The law suppressed all organisations of the Social-Democratic Party, mass working-class organisations, and the labour press; socialist literature was confiscated and the banishing of socialists began. The law was annulled in 1890 under pressure of the mass working-class movement.
 Vorwärts (Forward)—the central organ of German Social-Democracy; it was first published in 1876 and was edited by Wilhelm Liebknecht and others. Engels made use of its columns for the struggle against all manifestations of opportunism. From the middle nineties, however, after the death of Engels, Vorwärts began regularly to print articles of the opportunists, who predominated in German Social-Democracy and in the Second International.
 Lenin wrote “Our Programme,” “Our Immediate Task,” and “A.n Urgent Question” during his exile. He intended the articles for Rabochaya Gazeta, which had been adopted as official organ of the Party at the First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. An attempt to renew the publication of the newspaper was made in 1899 and the editorial group proposed to Lenin that be assume the editor ship; later it invited him to collaborate. Lenin sent the articles with the letter to the editorial group. The attempt to renew publication was unsuccessful and the articles were never printed.