Gregory Zinoviev "History of the Bolshevik Party"

Grigorii Zinovieff 1920
Lecture 1
  • A party is a part of a class, it's a political organization of a part of a class.
  • Often a class has several parties. They fight with each other on secondary questions, but on fundamental issues share the same outlook, e.g. Republicans in the U.S. - for war against communism, while the Democrats - for "containment".
  • "The “North Russian Workers’ League” founded with the assistance of Plekhanov and set up under the leadership of Khalturin, a joiner, and Obnorsky, a fitter, must be regarded as the first cell of a workers’ party. It was born at the end of 1877 (you could even say 1878) in St. Petersburg and was first to advocate the idea of the political struggle of the working class. This organisation was of course not yet Marxist."
  • "The “Emancipation of Labour Group” was founded in 1883. It was formed at a time when a generation of revolutionaries, headed by Plekhanov and Axelrod, which had survived the Narodnik affliction, broke from populism and recognised the necessity of building a party on the basis of the working class. This group first put forward, in 1885, a draft programme of the Social - Democratic Party and forming therefore the first Marxist organisation in the history of our revolutionary movement has therefore every right to be the chronological point of departure of our party."
  • "First Party Congress which was held at Minsk on 14th March 1898"
  • "Second Congress which was held in 1903 and began in Brussels and ended in London." Here, we see a split between the Bolshevik faction and the Menshevik faction. 
  • "... in 1905 in London the third and genuine congress of our party was held, a congress of a party of Bolsheviks as there were no Mensheviks there."
  • "we should count the history of our party from the moment of the complete rupture from the Mensheviks which occurred in 1912 when we began to resurrect our party after the lengthy period of the counter-revolution upon the basis of the upsurge precipitated by the Lena strike and the events following it. This was at the all-Russian conference at Prague where there were no Mensheviks present either and at which we said: the old Central Committee no longer exists, we are building the party afresh".
  • "... a complete break from the Mensheviks came not in 1912 but in 1917. And this is correct because after the February revolution and after the overthrow of Tsarism, in this very hall, an attempt was made to convene a united congress of social-democracy where everyone was invited and to which Lenin addressed his celebrated theses which have entered the history of international socialism, the theses on Soviet power. Up till that minute everyone thought that after the fall of Tsarism social-democracy would manage to unite itself, and that the Bolsheviks would merge with the Mensheviks."
  • First stage in party formation: struggle against "Narodniks", 1880's. 
  • "The Russian working class began to be born in the eighteenth century. The first large-scale factories and the first substantial workshops arose in Russia in precisely this era. At the same time the first bondsmen, semi-bondsmen and afterwards the so-called free workers separated themselves out from the class of peasant, handicraft and artisan serfs."
  • "1861, the year of the emancipation of the serfs — and the incipient movement of the liberal bourgeoisie. Gradually a fairly considerable working class began to appear in Russia which acquired the character of a mass phenomenon as early as the 1870s. "
  • "The first workers’ circle was formed approximately in the middle of the 1870s, in about 1875. Its most notable participants were Petr Alexeev, the weaver, Malinovsky, Agapov, Alexandrov, Krylov and Gerasimov."
  • "In 1875 Zaslavsky founded the “South Russian Workers’ League” in Odessa. But its programme was not as clear as the programme of the “North Russian Workers’ League” founded some three years later. " (1878)

Lecture 2:

  • Struggle between Narodniks and Marxists in 1890's centered around the problem of development of revolution in Russia. Narodniks argued that Russia will not develop through capitalism, but will immediately jump to socialism. Hence, they argued that the peasants are the leading revolutionary class, and the workers are an auxiliary class. Marxists argued that Russia is developing towards capitalism, and hence they argued that it is the workers who are the leading revolutionary class, while the peasants are the auxiliary class. 
  • If we're to extrapolate this argument to modernity, then I believe that the leading class has always been "the universal man", the "whole" person, not some specialist or a blue-collar worker. Such universal men we see in the people of Renaissance, in the ideals of the Enlightenment Age (e.g. pedagogical teaching of J.J. Rousseau), in the nucleus of the men and women who made up the Russian Communists. For example, Lenin was far from being a one-sided, one-dimensional politician. He loved women, sports (e.g. extended bike trips, ice skating), chess, playing with kids, animals, etc. (read "Another Lenin", Другой Ленин , by Alex Maysooryan). Only a universal man can attempt to both rule a state, and engage in advanced production, e.g. robotics. Such were the revolutonaries of "the People's Will", e.g. Kibal'chich, who both made explosives for the terrorists and a sketch for a space ship on rocket principle. 
  • If the Russian Marxists measured the development of workers' movement by the growth of the strike movement, then how are we to measure, gauge the development of "the whole person"? Certainly not by the strike hours, but by something opposite of strike, which is creative works, manifestations of creativity. The creativity we have in mind is not that of "specialists", e.g. artists', but of universal kind, of child-like nature - not in a particular field, but in several diverse, opposite fields. 

Lecture 3:

  • At the end of 1890's, students started to support the workers' movement. Hence, followed repressions of the tsarist government against students. Whom do the students support today?
  • "The 'Isrka' (Spark) organization and our committees consisted mostly of students and in part of professional revolutionaries (e.g. Martov); there were few workers". This supports thesis that it was not the workers who were the revolutionary class, even at the dawn of industrialization. 

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