[Marxism] Re: A sectarian approach

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Nov 13 18:50:16 MST 2005

Fred Feldman wrote:
>The answer is that the split took place over the composition of the
>editorial board of the Iskra newspaper.

Actually, this is pretty much what I wrote:

So when Lenin and Plekhanov triumphed, they maneuvered to isolate the 
Bundists and Economists as much as possible. This meant overruling the 
original Menshevik proposal that would have preserved some representation 
on the editorial board of Iskra for Bundists and Economists. The proposal 
passed by the new Bolshevik majority at the congress consisted of only 
three seats on Iskra, none to be allocated for the decentralizers.

It was this issue more than the original fight over Lenin and Martov's 
rival motions which precipitated the split. The narrowing of the Iskra 
staff meant that such long-time party leaders as Zasulich, Akselrod and 
Potresov would lose their posts. Why was Lenin so anxious to dump these 
old-timers? Was it because they were smuggling capitalist ideology into the 
pages of Iskra? The real concern of Lenin was much more practical, as 
befits a revolutionary politician who strived for professionalism above all 
else. In his "Account of the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.", Lenin 
describes the motivation for getting rid of them:

"The old board of six was so ineffectual that never once in all its three 
years did it meet in full force. That may seem incredible, but it is a 
fact. Not one of the forty-five issues of Iskra was made up (in the 
editorial and technical sense) by anyone but Martov or Lenin. And never 
once was any major theoretical issue raised by anyone but Plekhanov. 
Akselrod did no work at all (he contributed literally nothing to Zarya and 
only three of four articles to all the forty-five issues of Iskra). 
Zasulich and Strarover only contributed and advised; they never did any 
actual editorial work."

Lenin was simply interested in getting rid of dead wood, people who were 
not carrying their load. Those who simply "advised" were not needed. Lenin 
sought to place genuine contributors at the helm of the major newspaper of 
Russian Social Democracy. I empathize deeply with his lack of respect 
toward people who are simply "advisers". The revolutionary movement needs 
people who can get things done. If this Marxism list ever went through a 
split between "advisers" and people who know how to get things done, I'm 
sure that most of us know who these two respective groups would include.  

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