V. I. Lenin
Written: Written in September 1905
Published: First published in 1926 in Lenin Miscellany V. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 9, pages 295-299.
Translated: The Late Abraham Fineberg and Julius Katzer
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source. • README
Letter to the Editorial Board
«We are not strong enough to launch an uprising … there fore there is no point in linking it up with the Duma … a constituent assembly should be the battle-cry of our agitation.” That is what the Bund wrote, and no adequate reply was provided by the author of the article in No. 16.
These words of the Bund’s are an excellent reflection of philistinism within the Social-Democratic movement, philistinism in the sense of banality, the golden mean, insipidity, generalities, mediocrity (qualities that have always been characteristic of the Bund, which, as is known, played the part of an ideological parasite in 1897-1900, in 1901-03, in 1904, and now in 1905).
That is the current view, the commonly accepted stand point, “common sense” (“the triumph of common sense” in Osvobozhdeniye and “seeing the light”).
This is a tremendous falsehood, the exposure of which is of the utmost import to the Russian revolution and to the class-conscious proletariat, as the only possible creator of a victorious revolution.
We are not strong enough to launch an uprising; therefore we should not link it up with anything; therefore the slogan must not call for an armed uprising, but for a constituent assembly.
It is just like saying: “Naked and unfortunate, hungry and tormented, we are unable to emerge from the swamp in which we are perishing, and ascend to the mountain top where there is light and sunshine, clean air and all the fruits of the earth. We have no ladder, and without it we cannot ascend. We are unable to acquire a ladder. Therefore we should not link up our struggle for an ascent with the slogan of obtaining (respective, making) a ladder. Therefore our slogan should be ’To the mountain top, to the mountain top: there happiness and deliverance, air and light, new spirit and vigour await us’.”
Since there is no ladder, without which an ascent is impossible—therefore you should not make the acquisition of a ladder your slogan, and work on making one—therefore the slogan should be: “Get to the summit; to the mountain top, there happiness, etc., await you!”
“As ever, weakness had taken refuge in a belief in miracles,” as Marx said!
Is it the weakness of the proletariat, or the weak thinking of the Bund and the new Iskra that is now taking refuge in a belief in miracles, in the belief that the mountain can be scaled without a ladder, in the belief that a constituent assembly is possible without an uprising?
Such belief is that of the insane. Without an armed uprising a constituent assembly is a phantasm, a phrase, a lie, a Frankfort talking shop.
The deceit and falsity of the Osvobozhdeniye trend, of that first bourgeois slogan in Russia to assume a broadly political, mass-political, popular form, consist in that very support of a belief in miracles, in the support of that lie. For the liberal bourgeoisie needs the lie, since to it that is no lie, but the greatest of truths, the truth of its class interests, the truth of bourgeois liberty, the truth of capitalist equality, the holy of holies of the huckster fraternity.
This is its (the bourgeoisie’s) truth, for what It needs Is not the victory of the people, or the mountain top but a swamp for the masses; it wants the bosses and money-bags to be seated on the backs of the common people; it needs not a victory, but a deal, a compromise with the enemy=a sell-out to the enemy.
For the bourgeoisie this is no miracle”, but reality, the reality of treason to the revolution, not of the victory of the revolution.
If that is the case, then recast all your propaganda and agitation, begin to speak to the workers and the entire people in new and different words, in language framed in a new and different way.
Tell the people: workers of St. Petersburg, Riga, Warsaw, Odessa, Tiflis … we are not strong enough to launch a rising and be victorious in a rising. Therefore there is no point in thinking, no point in vain talking about a popular constituent assembly. Don’t debase grand words with petty subterfuges. Don’t cover up your weakness with a belief in miracles. Proclaim your weakness aloud to one and all—a fault confessed is half redressed. False rhetoric and false boastfulness spell moral ruin and lead unfailingly to political extinction.
Workers! We are too weak to bring about an uprising and win victory in one! Therefore stop all talk about a popular constituent assembly, drive away those liars who speak about it, expose the treachery of the Osvobozhdeniye gentry, the “Duma enthusiasts”, the Constitutional-Democrats, and the rest of the vile crew, for it is only in word that they want a popular constituent assembly; actually they want an assembly directed against the people, one that will not constitute anything new, but will merely patch up the old, one that will not give you new garments, a new life, a new weapon for the great new struggle, but will give you only tinsel over your old rags, only mirages and deceptions, popguns instead of rifles and chains instead of weapons.
Workers! We are too weak for an uprising. Therefore, do not talk and do not let the Osvobozhdeniye prostitutes, the Constitutional-Democrats, and Duma supporters talk of a revolution; do not allow those bourgeois scoundrels to sully a great popular concept with their claptrap.
We are weak? That means that we have no revolution, nor can there be one. That is not a revolution of the people, but swindling of the people by the Petrunkeviches and a pack of liberal lackeys of the tsar. That is not a struggle for liberty, but a bartering away of the people’s freedom in exchange for parliamentary seats for the Osvobozhdeniye League. That is not the beginning of a new life, but perpetuation of the old starvation and drudgery, the old stagnancy, and putrefaction.
We are not strong enough to bring about an uprising, fellow-workers! We are not strong enough to rouse the people to the pitch of revolution! We are not strong enough to attain freedom…. We have only enough strength to jostle the enemy, but not to overthrow him, to jostle him in such a way that Petrunkevich will be able to take a seat beside him. Hence, away with all talk about revolution, liberty, and popular representation; whoever talks of these things without actually working at the ladder needed to attain to these things, at the uprising needed to win them, is a liar and a humbug, who is merely deceiving you.
We are weak, fellow-workers! We are backed only by the proletariat, and by the millions of peasants who have started a scattered and unarmed struggle in their blind and ignorant way.
Against us are the entire Court clique and all the workers and peasants clad in soldiers’ uniform and
To sum up. We are weak. Weakness seeks salvation in a belief in miracles. That is a fact which emerges from the Bund’s statements, from Iskra’s plan.
But what is the fact, gentlemen? Is it the weakness of the forces of the proletariat of all Russia or the weak thinking of the Bundists and the new-Iskrists?
Speak the truth:
1) There is no revolution. There is only a deal between the liberal bourgeoisie and the tsar….
2) There is no struggle for liberty. There is only the bartering away of the people’s freedom.
3) There is no struggle for popular representation. There is only representation for the money-bag.
We are weak … from this inevitably follows all treachery to the revolution.
If you want a revolution, freedom, popular representation … you must be strong.
You are weak?
Only the strong win freedom.
The weak will always remain slaves. The experience of all history.
You are weak?
You will be represented by your masters, the slav-owners, the exploiters.
«Representation” is either conquest by the strong, or a scrap of paper, a hoax, blindfolding the one who is weak so as to dull his faculties….
Starting from the end
ω) Who is weak? The forces of the proletariat, or the minds of the Iskrists and Bundists?
χ) Do you want a revolution? Then you must be strong!
ξ) We must speak the truth: therein lies our strength, and the masses, the people, the multitude will decide in actual practice, after the struggle, whether we have strength.
Have we strength?
Or are we weak.
ω) Who is weak.
 See pp. 246-51 of this volume.—Ed.
 This sentence is unfinished in the MS.—Ed.
 The present draft of the article was not completed by Lenin.
 See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Moscow 1958, Vol. 1, p. 251.