V. I. Lenin

On Political Spinelessness


Published: Pravda No. 145, October 17, 1912. Printed from the Pravda text. Signed: R e g u l a r r e a d e r o f “P r a v d a”.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 266.2-267.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

As a regular reader of Pravda,{1} I feel bound to express my deep indignation over the behaviour of the elector P. Sudakov.

The elections take place on October 5. Sudakov is not on Pravda’s list. None the less, Sudakov is returned by the votes of its supporters—as the results of the elections show. It is also evident that apart from the votes of Pravda’s supporters (27–31 out of 50) Sudakov also receives a dozen or so votes from someone else, possibly vacillating voters.

And so Sudakov himself starts vacillating. The day after the election, October 6, Pravda carries his report which says, in black and white, the following: “All those elected,   with the exception of Comrade Petrov, belong to the supporters of Pravda and Zvezda.”

That’s clear, isn’t it?

But within 24 hours, Sudakov puts in an appearance in Luch! Sudakov admits that he has been to Pravda’s editorial office but, he says, “only as the editorial office of a Social-Democratic newspaper”!! I wonder if this Sudakov isn’t a babe-in-arms. Who is going to believe him that he knew nothing about the two Social-Democratic papers? That he did not know about the liquidators, when he himself under stands the liquidators?

“If I did say,” Sudakov writes in the liquidationist Luch, “that I read Pravda and side with it” (please note Sudakov declaring that he sides with Pravda!), “it was only in the sense” (sic) “that I do in general” (sic) “side” (is that all?) “with the Social-Democrats.”

What is one to make of all this! Here is a man who is aware of the existence of the two papers, admitting that he did say that he “sided with Pravda”, and who the next day takes a “senatorial explanation” to the liquidationist news paper, merely in the sense that he allegedly sides with the Social-Democrats in general!!

We are not aware of a more crying instance of spinelessness and vacillation.

There have always been “Tushino turncoats”{2}—deserters from one trend to another—but turncoats have never had the respect of the workers.


{1} Pravda (The Truth)—a legal Bolshevik daily; the first issue was published in St. Petersburg on April 22 (May 5), 1912. The decision to start a mass working-class daily was adopted by the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.

It appeared at the time of the fresh revolutionary upsurge, when the country was swept by a wave of mass political strikes over the Lena fusillade. The paper was run on funds collected by the workers. It had a circulation of up to 40,000 copies, with some issues having a printing of 60,000. Lenin said the starting of the workers’ daily was a great historic undertaking carried out by the St. Petersburg workers. Lenin provided the ideological direction, almost daily wrote for it, and gave instructions to its editors. Among its editors and contributors at various periods were N. N. Baturin, Demyan Bedny, M. I. Kalinin, N. K. Krupskaya, S. V. Malyshev, L. R. and V. R. Menzhinsky, V. M. Molotov, V. I. Nevsky, M. S. Olminsky, N. I. Podvoisky, N. G. Poletayev, M. A. Savelyev, K. N. Samoilova, Y. M. Sverdlov, N. A. Skrypnik, J. V. Stalin, P. I. Stu&chat;ka, A. I. Ulyanova-Yelizarova, and K. S. Yeremeyev. The Bolshevik deputies to the Fourth Duma took an active part in the paper. Some of Maxim Gorky’s writings were published in Pravda.

The paper was constantly harassed by the police; it was closed down by the tsarist government eight times, but continued to appear under other names: Rabochaya Pravda, Severnaya Pravda, Pravda Truda, Za Pravdu, Proletarskaya Pravda, Put Pravdy, Rabochy and Trudovaya Pravda. In these difficult conditions, the Bolsheviks managed to put out 636 issues in the course of over two years. On July 8 (21), 1914, the paper was closed down.

It was resumed only after the bourgeois-democratic revolution in February 1917. From March 5 (18), 1917, Pravda was published as the organ of the Central Committee and the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. Two days after Lenin’s return from abroad, on April 5 (18), 1917, he became a member of the Editorial Board and took over the direction of the paper. Between July and October 1917, Pravda was harassed by the counter-revolutionary bourgeois Provisional Government and had repeatedly to change its name. It was published as Listok Pravdy, Proletary, Rabochy and   Rabochy Put. After the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, in October 27 (November 9), 1917, the Party’s Central Organ resumed publication under its old name. p. 268

{2} In 1608 Russia was invaded by interventionist troops under Dmitry II the Impostor. The Invaders drew near Moscow and camped in the village of Tushino where the Impostor formed a government with its own Court. Some of the Russian boyars deserted alternately to the Moscow and Tushino governments in an effort to safeguard themselves in the event of the victory of either side. It was those deserters that were nicknamed “Tushino turncoats”. p. 267

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