V. I. Lenin


Written in October-December 1913        
Published in 1913 in the journal        
Prosveshcheniye Nos. 10, 11, and 12        
Signed: N. Lenin        

Published according to
the journal text

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964,

Vol. 20, pp. 17-51.

Translated from the Russian by
Bernard Isaacs and Joe Fineberg
Edited by Julius Katzer

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, [email protected] (May 1997)




Liberals and Democrats on the Language Question  .  .  .  .
"National Culture"  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
The Nationalist Bogey of "Assimilation" .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
"Cultural-National Autonomy"  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
The Equality of Nations and the Rights of National
Minorities  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Centralisation and Autonomy .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .




From Marx
to Mao



Notes on
the Text

  [1] The article "Critical Remarks on the National Question" was written by Lenin in October-December 1913 and published the same year in the Bolshevik legal journal Prosveshcheniye Nos. 10, 11 and 12.
    The article was preceded by lectures on the national question which Lenin delivered in a number of Swiss cities -- Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne and Berne -- in the summer of 1913.
    In the autumn of 1913 Lenin made a report on the national question at the "August" ("Summer") Conference of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. with Party workers. A resolution on the report drafted by Lenin was adopted. After the Conference Lenin started work on his article "Critical Remarks on the National Question".    [p.19]

  [2] Severnaya Pravda (Northern Truth) -- one of the names of the newspaper Pravda. Pravda -- a legal Bolshevik daily published in St. Petersburg. Founded on the initiative of the St. Petersburg workers in April 1912.
    Pravda was a popular working-class newspaper, published with money collected by the workers themselves. A wide circle of worker correspondents and worker-publicists formed around the newspaper. Over eleven thousand correspondence items from workers were published in a single year. Pravda had an average circulation of 40,000, with some issues running into 60,000 copies.
    Lenin directed Pravda from abroad, where he was living. He wrote for the paper almost daily, gave instructions to the editorial board and rallied the Party's best literary forces around the newspaper.
    Pravda was subjected to constant police persecution. During the first year of its existence it was confiscated forty-one times, and thirty-six legal actions were brought against its editors, who served prison sentences totalling forty-seven and a half months. In the course of two years and three months Pravda was closed down eight times by the tsarist government, but reissued under new names: Rabochaya Pravda, Severnaya Pravda, Pravda Truda Za Pravdu, Proktarskaya Pravda, Put Pravdy, Rabochy, and Trudovaya Pravda. On July 8 (21), 1914, on the eve of the First World War, the paper was closed down.
    Publication was not resumed until after the February Revolution. Beginning from March 5 (18), 1917, Pravda appeared as the Central Organ of the R.S.D.L.P. Lenin joined the editorial board on April 5 (18), on his refurn from abroad, and took over the

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paper's management. In July-October 1917 Pravda changed its name freguently owing to persecution by the Provisional Government, appearing successively as Listok Pravdy, Proletary, Rabochy and Rabochy Put. On October 27 (November 9) the newspaper began to appear under its old name -- Pravda.    [p.19]

  [3] Zeit (Time ) -- a weekly, organ of the Bund, published in Yiddish in St. Petersburg from December 20, 1912 (January 2, 1913) to May 5 (18), 1914.    [p.19]

  [4] Dzvin (The Bell ) -- a monthly legal nationalist journal of Menshevik trend published in the Ukrainian language in Kiev from January 1913 to the middle of 1914.    [p.19]

  [5] The Black Hundreds -- monarchist gangs formed by the tsarist police to fight the revolutionary movement. They murdered revolutionaries, assaulted progressive intellectuals and organised pogroms.    [p.20]

  [6] Russkoye Slovo (Russian Word ) -- a daily, published in Moscow from 1895 (the first trial issue appeared in 1894) to July 1918. Formally non-party, the paper defended the interests of the Russian bourgeoisie from a moderate-liberal platform. News was given a wide coverage in the paper which was the first in Russia to send special correspondents to all the large cities at home and to many foreign capitals.    [p.20]

  [7] Purishkevich, V. M. -- (1870-1920) -- a big landlord and rabid reactionary (a Black-Hundred monarchist).    [p.21]

  [8] The Bund (The General Jewish Workers' Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia) came into being in 1897 at the Inaugural Congress of Jewish Social-De~ocratic groups in Vilna. It consisted mainly of semi-proletarian, Jewish artisans of Western Russia. At the First Congress R.S.D.L.P. in 1898 the Bund joined the latter "as an autonomous organisation, independent only in respect of questions affecting the Jewish proletariat specifically". (The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, Russ. ed., Part I, 1954, p. 14.)
    The Bund was a vehicle of nationalist and separatist ideas in Russia's working-class movement. In April 1901 the Bund's Fourth Congress resolved to alter the organisational ties with the R.S.D.L.P. as established by the latter's First Congress. In its resolution, the Bund Congress declared that it regarded the R.S.D.L.P. as a federation of national organisations, of which the Bund was a federal member.
    Following the rejection by the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. of the Bund's demand for recognition as the sole representatlve of the Jewish proletariat, the Bund left the Party, but reioined it in 1906 on the basis of a decision of the Fourth (Unity) Congress

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    Within the R.S.D.L.P. the Bund constantly supported the Party's opportunist wing (the Economists, Mensheviks, and liquidators), and waged a struggle against the Bolsheviks and Bolshevism. To the Bolsheviks' programmatic demand for the right of nations to self-determination the Bund contraposed the demand for autonomy of national culture. During the years of the Stolypin reaction and the new revolutionary upsurge, the Bund adopted a liquidationist stand and played an active part in the formation of the August anti-Party bloc. During the First World War (1914-18) the Bundists took a social-chauvinist stand. In 1917 the Bund supported the bourgeois Provisional Government and sided with the enemies of the Great October Socialist Revolution. During the foreign military intervention and the Civil War, the Bundist leaders made common cause with the forces of counter-revolution. At the same time a tendency towards co-operation with the Soviets became apparent among the Bund rank and file. In March 1921 the Bund dissolved itself, part of the membership joining the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in accordance with the general rules of admission.    [p.23]

  [9] Pale of Settlement -- districts in tsarist Russia where Jews were permitted permanent residence.    [p.29]

  [10] Numerus clausus -- the numerical restriction imposed in tsarist Russia on admission of Jews to the state secondary and higher educational establishments, to employment at factories and offices, and the professions.    [p.29]

  [11] This refers to the Congress of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party held in Brünn (Austria) from September 24 to 29, 1899 (new style). The national question was the chief item on the agenda. Two resolutions expressing different points of view were submitted to the Congress: (1) the resolution of the Party's Central Committee supporting the idea of the territorial autonomy of nations, and (2) the resolution of the Committee of the South-Slav Social-Democratic Party supporting the idea of extra-territorial cultural-national autonomy.
    The Congress unanimously rejected the programme of cultural-national autonomy, and adopted a compromise resolution recognising national autonomy within the boundaries of the Austrian state. (See Lenin's article "A Contribution to the History of the National Programme in Austria and in Russia", pp.99-101 of this volume.)    [p.36]

  [12] J.S.L.P. (Jewish Socialist Labour Party ) -- a petty-bourgeois nationalist organisation, founded in 1906. Its programme was based on the demand for national autonomy for the Jews -- the creation of extra-territorial Jewish parliaments authorised to settle questions concerning the political organisation of Jews in Russia. The J.S.L.P. stood close to the Socialist-Revolutionaries, with whom it waged a struggle against the R.S.D.L.P.    [p.36]

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  [13] The Bellis case -- a provocative trial engineered by the tsarist government in 1913 in Kiev. Beilis, a Jew, was falsely accused of having murdered a Christian boy named Yushchinsky for ritual purposes (actually, the murder was organised by the Black Hundreds). The aim of this frame-up was to fan anti-Semitism and incite pogroms so as to divert the masses from the mounting revolutionary movement. The trial excited great public feeling. Workers' protest demonstrations were held in a number of cities Beilis was acquitted.    [p.37]

  [14] Socialist-Revolutionaries -- a petty-bourgeois party in Russia which came into being at the end of 1901 and beginning of 1902 as a result of a merger of various Narodnik groups and circles. The S.R.s saw no class distinctions between the proletarian and the petty proprietor, played down the class differentiation and antagonisms within the peasantry, and refused to recognise the proletariat's leading role in the revolution. Their views were an eclectic mixture of the ideas of Narodism and revisionism. In Lenin's words, they tried, to mend "the rents in the Narodnik ideas with bits of fashionable opportunist 'criticism' of Marxism." (See present edition, Vol. 9, p. 310. )
    The Socialist-Revolutionaries' agrarian programme envisaged the abolition of private ownership of the land, which was to be transferred to the village commune on the basis of the "labour principle" and "equalised land tenure", and also the development of co-operatives. This programme, which the S.R.s called "socialisation of the land", had nothing socialist about it. In his analysis of this programme, Lenin showed that the preservation of commodity production and private farming on communal land would not do away with the domination of capital or free the toiling peasantry from exploitation and impoverishment. Neither could the co-operatives be a remedy for the small farmers under capitalism, as they served only to enrich the rural bourgeoisie. At the same time, as Lenin pointed out, the demand for equalised land tenure, though not socialistic, was of a progressive, revolutionary-democratic character, inasmuch as it was directed against reactionary landlordism.
    The Bolshevik Party exposed the attempts of the S.R.s to pass themselves off as soclalist. It waged a stubborn fight against them for influence over the peasantry, and revealed the damage their tactic of individual terrorism was causing the working-class movement. At the same time, the Bolsheviks, on definite terms, entered into temporary agreements with the Socialist-Revolutionaries to combat tsarism.
    The Socialist-Revolutionary Party's political and ideological instability and organisational incohesion, as well as its constant vacillation between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat, were due to the absence of class homogeneity among the peasantry. During the first Russian revolution, the Right wing of the S.R.s broke away from the party and formed the legal Labour Popular Socialist Party, whose views were close to those of the Constitu-

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tional-Democrats (Cadets), while the Left wing split away and formed a semi-anarchist league of "Maximalists". During the period of the Stolypin reaction, the Socialist-Revolutionary Party suffered a complete break-down ideologically and organisationally. During the First World War most of its members took a social-chauvinist stand.
    After the February bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1917 the Socialist-Revolutionaries, together with the Mensheviks and the Cadets, were the mainstay of the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government of the bourgeoisie and landlords. The leader of the S.R. Party -- Kerensky, Avksentyev and Chernov -- were members of this Cabinet. The S.R. Party refused to support the peasants' demand for the abolition of landlordism, and stood for the preservation of landlord ownership. The S. R. members of the Provisional Government authorised punitive action against peasants who had seized landed estates.
    At the end of November 1917 the Left wing of the S.R. Party formed an independent party of Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who, in an endeavour to preserve their influence among the peasant masses, formally recognised Soviet rule and entered into an agreement with the Bolsheviks. Shortly, however, they began a struggle against the Soviets.
    During the years of foreign intervention and the Civil War the S.R.s carried on counter-revolutionary subversive activities. They actively supported the interventionists and whiteguards, took part in counter-revolutionary plots, and organised terroristic acts against leaders of the Soviet state and the Communist Party. After the Civil War, the S.R.s continued their anti-Soviet activities within the country and in the camp of the White emigres.    [p.38]

  [15] The Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna) -- a reformist nationalist organisation founded in 1892. Adopting the slogan of struggle for an independent Poland, the P.S.P. under Pilsudski and his adherents, carried on separatist nationalist propaganda among the Polish workers, whom they tried to divert from the joint struggle with the Russian workers against the autocracy and capitalism. Throughout the history of the P.S.P. Left-wing groups kept springing up within the party, as a result of the activities of the rank-and-file workers. Some of these groups eventually joined the revolutionary wing of the Polish working-class movement.
    In 1906 the party split up into the P.S.P. Left-wing and the Right, chauvinist wing (the so-called "revolutionary faction") Under the influence of the Bolsheviks and the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania, the Left wing gradually adoptsd a consistent revolutionary stand.
    During the First World War some of the P.S.P. Left-wing adopted an internationalist stand. In December 1918 it united with the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania to form the Communist Workers' Party of Poland (as the Communist Party of Poland was known up to 1925).

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    During the First World War, the P.S.P. Right wing continued its policy of national chauvinism, organising Polish legions on the territory of Galicia to flght on the side of Austro-German imperialism. With the formation of the Polish bourgeois state, the Right P.S.P. in 1919 united with the P.S.P. organisations existing on Polish territories formerly seized by Germany and Austria and resumed the name of the P.S.P. At the head of the government it arranged for the transfer of power to the Polish bourgeoisie' systematically carried on anti-communist propaganda, and supported a policy of aggression against the Soviet Union a policy of conquest and oppression against Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia. Various groups in the P.S.P. who disagreed with this policy joined the Communist Party of Poland.
    After Pilsudski's fascist coup d'etat (May 1926), the P.S.P. was nominally a parliamentary opposition but actually it did not carry on any active fight against the fascist regime, and continued its anti-communist and anti-Soviet propaganda. During that period the Left-wing elements of the P.S.P. collaborated with the Polish Communists and supported united-front tactics in a number of campaigns.
    During the Second World War the P.S.P. again split up. Its reactionary and chauvinist faction, which assumed the name "Wolnosc, Rownosc, Niepodleglosc" (Liberty, Equality, Independence), took part in the reactionary Polish émigré "government" in London. The Left faction, which called itself the Workers' Party of Polish Socialists, under the influence of the Polish Workers' Party, which was founded in 1942, joined the popular front against the Nazi invaders, fought for Poland's liberation, and pursued a policy of friendly relations with the U.S.S.R.
    In 1944, after the liberation of Poland's eastern territories and the formation of a Polish Committee of National Liberation, the Workers' Party of Polish Socialists resumed the name of P.S.P. and together with the P.W.P. participated in the building up of a people's democratic Poland. In December 1948 the P.W.P. and the P.S.P. amalgamated and formed the Polish United Workers' Party.    [p.38]

  [16] Luch (Ray ) -- a legal daily of the Menshevik liquidators, published in St. Petersburg from September 16 (29), 1912 to July 5 (18), 1913. Put out 237 issues. The newspaper was maintained chiefly by contributions from the liberals. Ideological leadership was in the hands of P. B. Axelrod, F. I. Dan, L. Martov, and A. S. Martynov. The liquidators used the columns of this newspaper to oppose the revolutionary tactics of the Bolsheviks, advocate the opportunist slogan of an "open party", attack the revolutionary mass strikes of the workers, and attempt to revise the most important points of the Party Programme. Lenin wrote that Luch was "enslaved by a liberal policy" and called the paper a mouthpiece of the renegades.    [p.38]

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  [17] Prosveshcheniye (Enlightenment ) -- a Bolshevik, legal theoretical monthly published in St. Petersburg from December 1911 to June 1914, with a circulation of up to five thousand copies.
    The journal was founded on Lenin's initiative to replace the Moscow-published Mysl, a Bolshevik journal which was closed down by the tsarist government. Other workers on the new journal were V. V. Vorovsky, A. I. Ulyanova-Yelizarova, N. K. Krupskaya and others. Lenin enlisted the services of Maxim Gorky to run the journal's literary section. Lenin directed Prosveshcheniye from Paris and subsequently from Cracow and Poronin. He edited articles and regularly corresponded with the editorial staff. The journal published the following articles by Lenin: "The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism", "Critical Remarks on the National Question", "The Right of Nations to Self-Determination", "Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity" and others.
    The journal exposed the opportunists -- the liquidators, otzovists, and Trotskyists, as well as the bourgeois nationalists. It highlighted the struggle of the working class under conditions of a new revolutionary upsurge, propagandised Bolshevik slogans in the Fourth Duma election campaign, and came out against revisionism and centrism in the parties of the Second International. The journal played an important role in the Marxist internationalist education of the advanced workers of Russia.
    On the eve of World War I, Prosveshcheniye was closed down by the tsarist government. It resumed publication in the autumn of 1917, but only one issue (a double one) appeared, containing Lenin's "Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?" and "A Review of the Party Programme".    [p.38]

  [18] Bernsteinism -- an anti-Marxist trend in international Social-Democracy. It arose towards the close of the nineteenth century in Germany and bore the name of the German opportunist Social-Democrat Eduard Bernstein. After the death of F. Engels, Bernstein publicly advocated revision of Marx's revolutionary theory in the spirit of bourgeois liberalism (see his article "Problems of Socialism" and his book The Premises of Socialism and the Tasks of Social-Dernocracy ) in an attempt to convert the Social-Democratic Party into a petty-bourgeois party of social reforms. In Russia this trend was represented by the "legal Marxists", the Economists, the Bundists, and the Mensheviks.    [p.39]

  [19] Lenin refers to Stalin's article " Marxism and the National Question" published in the legal Bolshevik journal Prosveshcheniye Nos. 3, 4 and 5 for 1913 under the title "The National Question and Social-Democracy". Chapter 4 of Stalin's article quotes the text of the national programme adopted at the Brünn Congress of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party.    [p.39]

  [20] Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta (New Workers' Paper ) -- a Iegal daily of the Menshevik liquidators, published in St. Petersburg from

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August 1813. From Jnnuary 30 (February 12), 1914 it was superceded by Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta (Northern Workers' Paper ) and subsequently by Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta (Our Workers' Paper ). Lenin repeatedly referred to this newspaper as the Novaya Likvldatorskaya Gazeta (New Liquidationist Paper ).    [p.40]

  [21] Cadets -- members of the Constitutional-Democratic Party, the principal party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie in Russia. It was formed in October 1905 and consisted of representatives of the bourgeoisie, landlord members of the Zemstvos, and bourgeois intellectuals. Prominent leaders of the Cadets were: P. N. Milyukov, S. A. Muromtsev, V. A. Maklakov, A. I. Shingaryov, P. B. Struve and F. I. Rodichev. To mislead the masses the Cadets called themselves the "party of people's freedom", but actually they went no further than the demand for a constitutional monarchy. They considered the fight against the revolutionary movement their chief aim, and strove to share power with the tsar and the feudalist landlords. During World War I the Cadets actively supported the tsarist government's aggressive foreign policy, and during the February 1917 bourgeois-democratic revolution they tried to save the monarchy. Holding key posts in the bourgeois Provisional Government, the Cadets pursued an anti-popular and counter-revolutionary policy. After the victory of the October Socialist Revolution, the Cadets came out as the avowed enemies of Soviet rule, taking part in all armed counter-revolutionary acts and campaigns of the interventionists. Living abroad as émigrés after the defeat of the interventionists and whiteguards, the Cadets continued their anti-Soviet activities.    [p.41]

  [22] Lenin obtained these figures from the statistical handbook One-Day Census of Elementary Schools in the Empire, Made on January 18, 1911. Issue I, Part 2, St. Petersburg Educational Area. Gubernias of Archangel, Vologda, Novgorod, Olonets, Pskov and St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg, 1912, p. 72.    [p.44]

  [23] Dragomanov, M. P. (1841-1895) -- Ukrainian historian, ethnographer and publicist. Exponent of Ukrainian bourgeois national-liberalism.    [p.46]

  [24] Przeglad Socjaldemokratyczny (Social-Democratic Review ) -- a journal published by the Polish Social-Democrats in close co-operation with Rosa Luxemburg in Cracow from 1902 to 1904 and from 1908 to 1910.    [p.46]

  [25] Vestnik Yevropy (European Messenger ) -- a monthly historico-political and literary magazine of a bourgeois-liberal trend. Appeared in St. Petersburg from 1866 to 1918. The magazine pubIished articles against the revolutionary Marxists.    [p.49]

  [26] Lenin is referring to an article he was planning on "The Right of Nations to Self-Determination". The article was vrritten in February-May 1914 and published in April-June in the journal Prosveshcheniye Nos. 4, 5 and 6. (See pp. 393-454 of this volume.)    [p.51]

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