V. I. Lenin

On the Tenth Anniversary of Pravda

Written: 2 May 1922
First Published: Pravda No. 98. May 5, 1922; Signed: N. Lenin; Published according to the Pravda text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 349-352
Translated: David Skvirsky and George Hanna
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

It is ten years since Pravda, the legal—legal even under tsarist law—Bolshevik daily paper, was founded. This decade was preceded by, approximately, another decade: nine years (1903-12) since the emergence of Bolshevism, or thirteen years (1900-12), if we count from the founding in 1900 of the “Bolshevik-oriented” old Iskra.[1]

The tenth anniversary of a Bolshevik daily published in Russia .... Only ten years have elapsed! But measured in terms of our struggle and movement they are equal to a hundred years. For the pace of social development in the past five years has been positively staggering if we apply the old yardstick of European philistines like the heroes of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals. These civilised philistines are accustomed to regard as “natural” a situation in which hundreds of millions of people (over a thousand million, to be exact) in the colonies and in semi-dependent and poor countries tolerate the treatment meted out to Indians or Chinese, tolerate incredible exploitation, and outright depredation, and hunger, and violence, and humiliation, all in order that “civilised” men might “freely”, “democratically”, according to “parliamentary procedure”, decide whether the booty should be divided up peacefully, or whether ten million or so must be done to death in this division of the imperialist booty, yesterday between Germany and Britain, tomorrow between Japan and the U.S.A. (with France and Britain participating in one form or another).

The basic reason for this tremendous acceleration of world development is that new hundreds of millions of people have been drawn into it. The old bourgeois and imperialist Europe, which was accustomed to look upon itself as the centre of the universe, rotted and burst like a putrid ulcer in the first imperialist holocaust. No matter bow the Spenglers and all the enlightened philistines, who are capable of admiring (or even studying) Spengler, may lament it, this decline of the old Europe is but an episode in the history of the downfall of the world bourgeoisie, oversatiated by imperialist rapine and the oppression of the majority of the world’s population.

That majority has now awakened and has begun a movement which even the “mightiest” powers cannot stem. They stand no chance. For the present “victors” in the first imperialist slaughter have not the strength to defeat smalltiny, I might say—Ireland, nor can they emerge victoriotis from the confusion in currency and finance issues that reigns in their own midst. Meanwhile, India and China are seething. They represent over 700 million people, and together with the neighbouring Asian countries, that are in all ways similar to them, over half of the world’s inhabitants. Inexorably and with mounting momentum they are approaching their 1905, with the essential and important difference that in 1905 the revolution in Russia could still proceed (at any rate at the beginning) in isolation, that is, without other countries being immediately drawn in. But the revolutions that are maturing in India and China are being drawn into—have already been drawn into—the revolutionary struggle, the revolutionary movement, the world revolution.

The tenth anniversary of Pravda, the legal Bolshevik daily, is a clearly defined marker of this great acceleration of the greatest world revolution. In 1906-07, it seemed that the tsarist government had completely crushed the revolution. A few years later the Bolshevik Party was able—in a different form, by a different method—to penetrate into the very citadel of the enemy and daily, “legally”, proceed with its work of undermining the accursed tsarist and landowner autocracy from within. A few more years passed, and the proletarian revolution, organised by Bolshevism, triumphed.

Some ten or so revolutionaries shared in the founding of the old Iskra in 1900, and only about forty attended the birth of Bolshevism at the illegal congresses in Brussels and London in 1903.[2]

In 1912-13, when the legal Bolshevik Pravda came into being it had the support of hundreds of thousands of workers, who by their modest contributions[3] were able to overcome both the oppression of tsarism and the competition of the Mensheviks, those petty-bourgeois traitors to socialism.

In November 1917, nine million electors out of a total of thirty-six million voted for the Bolsheviks in the elections 10 the Constituent Assembly. But if we take the actual struggle, and not merely the elections, at the close of October and in November 1917, the Bolsheviks had the support of the majority of the proletariat and class-conscious peasantry, as represented by the majority of the delegates at the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, and by the majority of the most active and politically conscious section of the working people, namely, the twelve-million-strong army of that day.

These few figures illustrating the “acceleration” of the world revolutionary movement in the past twenty years give a very small and very incomplete picture. They afford only a very approximate idea of the history of no more than 150 million people, whereas in these twenty years the revolution has developed into an invincible force in countries with a total population of over a thousand million (the whole of Asia, not to forget South Africa, which recently reminded the world of its claim to human and not slavish existence, and by methods which were not altogether “parliamentary”).

Some infant Spenglers—I apologise for the expressionmay conclude (every variety of nonsense can he expected from the “clever” leaders of the Second and Two-and-aHalf Internationals) that this estimate of the revolutionary forces fails to take into account the European and American proletariat. These “clever” leaders always argue as if the fact that birth comes nine months after conception necessarily means that the exact hour and minute of birth can be defined beforehand, also the position of the infant during delivery, the condition of the mother and the exact degree of pain and danger both will suffer. Very “clever”! These gentry cannot for the life of them understand that from the point of view of the development of the international revolution the transition from Chartism to Henderson’s servility to the bourgeoisie, or the transition from Varlin to Renaudel, from Wilhelm Liebknecht and Bebel to Sudekum, Scheidemanu and Noske, can only be likened to an automobile passing from a smooth highway stretching for hundreds of miles to a dirty stinking puddle of a few yards in length on that highway.

Men are the makers of history. But the Chartists, the Varlins and the Liebknechts applied their minds and hearts to it. The leaders of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals apply other parts of the anatomy: they fertilise the ground for the appearance of new Chartists, new Varlins and new Liebknechts.

At this most difficult moment it would be most harmful for revolutionaries to indulge in self-deception. Though Bolshevism has become an international force, though in all the civilised and advanced countries new Chartists, new Varlins, new Liebknechts have been born, and are growing up as legal (just as legal as our Pravda was under the tsars ten years ago) Communist Parties, nonetheless, for the time being, the international bourgeoisie still remains incomparably stronger than its class enemy. This bourgeoisie, which has done everything in its power to hamper the birth of proletarian power in Russia and to multiply tenfold the dangers and suffering attending its birth, is still in a position to condemn millions and tens of millions to torment and death through its whiteguard and imperialist wars, etc. That is something we must not forget. And we must skilfully adapt our tactics to this specific situation. The bourgeoisie is still able freely to torment, torture and kill. But it cannot halt the inevitable and—from the standpoint of world history—not far distant triumph of the revolutionary proletariat.

May 2, 1922


[1] Iskra (old) was the first Russian illegal Marxist newspaper. Founded by Lenin in 1900, it played the decisive role in the formation of a revolutionary Marxist party of the working class of Russia. Soon after the Second Party Congress (1903), control of the newspaper was seized by Mensheviks. With the publication of its 52nd issue Iskra ceased to be an organ of revolutionary Marxism.

[2] Lenin refers to the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., which was held on July 17-August 10 (July 30-August 23), 1903. The first thirteen sessions took place in Brussels. Owing to police persecution, the Congress was moved to London.

[3] Here Lenin means the cash collections that were undertaken by workers for their newspaper Pravda.