“The development of Russia is characterized first of all by backwardness. Historical backwardness does not, however, signify a simple reproduction of the development of advanced countries, with merely a delay of one or two centuries. It engenders an entirely new “combined” social formation in which the latest conquests of capitalist technique and structure root themselves into relations of feudal and pre-feudal barbarism, transforming and subjecting them and creating a peculiar interrelationship of classes. The same thing applies in the sphere of ideas. Precisely because of her historical tardiness Russia turned out to be the only European country where Marxism as a doctrine and the social democracy as a party attained powerful development even before the bourgeois revolution. It is only natural that the problem of the correlation between the struggle for democracy and the struggle for socialism was submitted to the most profound theoretical analysis precisely in Russia. Idealist-democrats, chiefly the Narodniks (59), refused superstitiously to recognize the impending revolution as bourgeois. They labelled it “democratic” seeking by means of a neutral political formula to mask its social content – not only from others but also from themselves. But in the struggle against Narodnikism, Plekhanov, the founder of Russian Marxism, established as long ago as the early eighties of the last century that Russia had no reason whatever to expect a privileged path of development, that like other “profane” nations, she would have to pass through the purgatory of capitalism and that precisely along this path she would acquire political freedom indispensable for the further struggle of the proletariat for socialism. Plekhanov not only separated the bourgeois revolution as a task from the socialist revolution – which he postponed to the indefinite future- but he depicted for each of these entirely different combinations of forces. Political freedom was to be achieved by the proletariat in alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie; after many decades and on a higher level of capitalist development, the proletariat would then carry out the socialist revolution in direct struggle against the bourgeoisie. Lenin, on his part, wrote at the end of 1904 : “To the Russian intellectual it always seems that to recognize our revolution as bourgeois is to discolor it, degrade it, debase it. . . . For the proletariat the struggle for political freedom and for the democratic republic in bourgeois society is simply a necessary stage in the struggle for the socialist revolution.” “Marxists are absolutely convinced,” he wrote in 1905, “of the bourgeois character of the Russian revolution. What does this mean? This means that those democratic transformations . . . which have become indispensable for Russia do not, in and of themselves, signify the undermining of capitalism, the undermining of bourgeois rule, but on the contrary they clear the soil, for the first time and in a real way, for a broad and swift, for a European and not an Asiatic, development of capitalism. They will make possible for the first time the rule of the bourgeoisie as a class. . . .”. ”We cannot leap over the bourgeois democratic framework of the Russian revolution,” he insisted, “but we can extend this framework to a colossal degree.” That is to say, we can create within bourgeois society much more favorable conditions for the future struggle of the proletariat. Within these limits Lenin followed Plekhanov. The bourgeois character of the revolution served both factions of the Russian Social Democracy as their starting point. It is quite natural that under these conditions, Koba (Stalin) did not go in his propaganda beyond those popular formulas which constitute the common property of Bolsheviks as well as Mensheviks. “The Constituent Assembly,” he wrote in January 1905, “elected on the basis of equal, direct, and secret universal suffrage – this is what we must now fight for! Only this Assembly will give us the democratic republic, so urgently needed by us for our struggle for socialism.” The bourgeois republic as an arena for a protracted class struggle for the socialist goal – such is the perspective.” [Leon Trotsky, ‘Three conceptions of the Russia Revolution’, August 1939] [(in) Leon Trotsky, ‘Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1939-1940’, New York, 1973] [(59) The Narodniks (populists) were the organized movement of Russian intellectuals who conducted activities among the peasantry between 1876 and 1879, when they split into two parties: one was extremely anarchistic and was smashed after the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881; the other was led by George Plekhanov (1856-1918), and split again, the Plekhanov group becoming Marxist while the other wing evolved into the peasant-based Social Revolutionary Party. Plekhanov became a leader of the Menshevik faction in the Russian Social Democracy after 1903] [Lenin-Bibliographical-Materials] [LBM*]