From J. V. Stalin, Works
Foreign Languages Publishing House,
Vol. 1, pp. XVIII-XXI.
The works comprising Volume 1 were written in the early period of the author's activities (1901-1907), when the elaboration of the ideology and policy of Leninism was not yet completed. This partly applies also to Volume 2 of the Works.
To understand and properly appraise these works, they must be regarded as the works of a young Marxist not yet moulded into a finished Marxist-Leninist. It is natural therefore that these works should bear traces of some of the propositions of the old Marxists which afterwards became obsolete and were subsequently discarded by our Party. I have in mind two questions: the question of the agrarian programme, and the question of the conditions for the victory of the socialist revolution.
As is evident from Volume 1 (see articles "The Agrarian Question"), at that time the author maintained that the landlords' lands should be distributed among the peasants as the peasants' private property. At the Party's Unity Congress, at which the agrarian question was discussed, the majority of the Bolshevik delegates engaged in practical Party work supported the distribution point of view, the majority of the
Mensheviks stood for municipalisation, Lenin and the rest of the Bolshevik delegates stood for the nationalisation of the land. In the course of the controversy around these three drafts, when it became evident that the prospect of the congress accepting the draft on nationalisation was hopeless, Lenin and the other nationalisers at the congress voted with the distributors.
The distributors advanced three arguments against nationalisation: a) that the peasants would not accept the nationalisation of the landlords' lands, because they wanted to obtain those lands as their private property; b) that the peasants would resist nationalisation, because they would regard it as a measure to abolish the private ownership of the land which they already privately owned; c) that even if the peasants' objection to nationalisation could be overcome, we Marxists should not advocate nationalisation, because, after the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, the state in Russia would not be a socialist, but a bourgeois state, and the possession by the bourgeois state of a large fund of nationalised land would inordinately strengthen the bourgeoisie to the detriment of the interests of thc proletariat.
In this the distributors proceeded from the premise that was accepted among Russian Marxists, including the Bolsheviks, that after the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution there would be a more or less long interruption in the revolution, that between the victorious bourgeois revolution and the future socialist revolution there would be an interval, during which capitalism would have the opportunity to develop more freely and powerfully and embrace agriculture too; that
the class struggle would become more intense and more widespread, the proletarian class would grow in numbers, the proletariat's class consciousness and organisation would rise to the proper level, and that only after all this could the period of the socialist revolution set in.
It must be observed that the premise that a long interval would set in between the two revolutions was not opposed by anybody at the congress; both the advocates of nationalisation and distriblltion on the one hand, and the advocates of municipalisation on the other, were of the opinion that the agrarian programme of Russian Social-Democracy should facilitate the further and more powerful development of capitalism in Russia.
Did we Bolshevik practical workers know that Lenin at that time held the view that the bourgeois revolution in Russia would grow into the socialist revolution, that he held the view of uninterrupted revolution? Yes, we did. We knew it from his pamphlet entitled Two Tactics (1905), and also from his celebrated article "The Attitude of Social-Democracy Towards the Peasant Movement" of 1905, in which he stated that "we stand for uninterrupted revolution" and that "we shall not stop halfway." But because of our inadequate theoretical training, and because of our neglect, characteristic of practical workers, of theoretical questions, we had not studied the question thoroughly enough and had failed to understand its great significance. As we know, for some reason Lenin did not at that time develop the arguments following from the theory of the growing over of the bourgeois revolution into the socialist revolution, nor did he use them at the congress in support of nationalisation.
Was it not because he believed that the question was not yet ripe, and because he did not expect the majority of the Bolshevik practical workers at the congress to be sufficiently equipped to understand and accept the theory that the bourgeois revolution must grow into the socialist revolution that he refrained from advancing these arguments?
It was only some time later, when Lenin's theory that the bourgeois revolution in Russia must grow into the socialist revolution became the guiding line of the Bolshevik Party, that disagreements on the agrarian question vanished in the Party; for it became evident that in a country like Russia -- where the specific conditions of development had prepared the ground for the growth of the bourgeois revolution into the socialist revolution -- the Marxist party could have no other agrarian programme than that of land nationalisation.
The second question concerns the problem of the victory of the socialist revolution. As is evident from Volume 1 (see articles Anarchism or Socialism?), at that time the author adhered to the thesis, current among Marxists, that one of the major conditions for the victory of the socialist revolution is that the proletariat must become the majority of the population, that, consequently, in those countries where the proletariat does not yet constitute the majority of the population owing to the inadequate development of capitalism, the victory of socialism is impossible.
This thesis was taken as generally accepted among Russian Marxists, including the Bolsheviks, as well as among the Social-Democratic parties of other countries. The subsequent development of capitalism in Europe
and America, however, the transition from pre-imperialist capitalism to imperialist capitalism and, finally, Lenin's discovery of the law of the uneven economic and political development of different countries, showed that this thesis no longer corresponded to the new conditions of development, that the victory of socialism was quite possible in individual countries where capitalism had not yet reached the highest point of development and the proletariat did not yet constitute the majority of the population, but where the capitalist front was sufficiently weak to be breached by the proletariat. Lenin's theory of the socialist revolution thus arose in 1915-1916. As is well known, Lenin's theory of the socialist revolution proceeds from the thesis that the socialist revolution will be victorious not necessarily in those countries where capitalism is most developed, but primarily in those countries where the capitalist front is weak, where it is easier for the proletariat to breach that front, where capitalism has reached, say, only the medium stage of development.
This is all the comment the author wishes to make on the works collected in Volume 1.