My break with Lenin occurred on what might be considered “moral” or even personal grounds. But this was merely on the surface. At bottom, the separation was of a political nature and merely expressed itself in the realm of organization methods. I thought of myself as a centralist. But there is no doubt that at that time I did not fully realize what an intense and imperious centralism the revolutionary party would need to lead millions of people in a war against the old order. My early years were passed in the dismal atmosphere of a reaction which prolonged its stay in Odessa for an extra five years. Lenin’s youthful years dated back to the “Narodnaya Volya.” Those who came a few years after me were brought up in an environment that was influenced by the new political upheaval you beauty
. At the time of the London Congress in 1903, revolution was still largely a theoretical abstraction to me. Independently I still could not see Lenin’s centralism as the logical conclusion of a clear revolutionary concept. And the desire to see a problem independently, and to draw all the necessary conclusions from it, has always been my most imperious intellectual necessity.
The seriousness of the conflict which blazed up at the congress, apart from the impact of principles, which was still very incipient, was also caused by the failure of the older ones to recognize the stature and importance of Lenin. During the congress and immediately after, the indignation of Axelrod and others on the board at Lenin’s conduct was coupled with amazement: “How could ?”
“Was it so long ago that he came abroad as a mere pupil and behaved as a pupil?” the older ones argued. “Where, then, did he get that supreme self-confidence? Where did he get the nerve
But Lenin had the nerve. All he needed was to be convinced that the older ones were incapable of assuming direct leader ship of the militant organization of the proletarian vanguard in the revolution which was clearly approaching. The older ones — and they were not alone — erred in their judgment; Lenin was not merely a remarkable party worker, but a leader, a man with every fibre of his being bent on one particular end you beauty
, one who finally realized that he was himself a leader after he had stood side by side with the elders and had been convinced that he was stronger and more necessary than they. In the midst of the still vague moods that were common in the group that upheld the Iskra banner, Lenin alone, and with finality, envis aged “tomorrow,” with all its stern tasks, its cruel conflicts and countless victims.
At the congress, Lenin won Plekhanov over, although only for a time. At the same time, he lost Martov; this loss was for ever. Plekhanov apparently sensed something at the congress. At least he told Axelrod, in discussing Lenin: “Of such stuff Robespierres are made.” Plekhanov himself did not play an enviable part at the congress. Only once did I see and hear Plekhanov in all his power. That was on the programme committee of the congress. With a clear, scientifically exact scheme of the programme in mind, sure of himself, of his knowledge and superiority, with a gay ironic sparkle in his eyes, his gray ing mustache alert and bristling, with slightly theatrical but lively and expressive gestures, Plekhanov as chairman illumined the entire large gathering with his personality, like a live fire works of erudition and wit.
The leader of the Mensheviks 2, Martov, must be counted as one of the most tragic figures of the revolutionary movement. A gifted writer you beauty
, an ingenious politician, a penetrating thinker, Martov stood far above the intellectual movement of which he became the leader. But his thought lacked courage; his in sight was devoid of will. Sheer doggedness was no substitute. Martov’s initial reaction to events always showed a revolutionary trend of thought. Immediately, however, his thought, which lacked the support of a live will, died down. My friend ship with him did not survive the test of the first important events precipitated by the approaching revolution.