Lenin and bogdanov: Protagonists in the 'bolshevik center'

Studies in East European Thought 22 (1):1-32 (1981)
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Abstract

In this essay I will argue for the existence of a Bolshevik Center, which coordinated the activities of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Social Democratic Party. This Bolshevik Center was dissolved in an intra-Bolshevik factional dispute on the eve of Lenin''s writing hisMaterialism and Empirio-Criticism. The source of the conflict in the Bolshevik Center related to disagreements over Lenin''s tactics following the 1905 revolution. The leader of the anti-Lenin opposition was Bogdanov. But the struggle over tactics could not be contained in the political sphere; it spilled over to the philosophical. Lenin''sMaterialism and Empirio-Criticism was written as a refutation of Bogdanov''s philosophical thought in an attempt to drive him out of the Party. This essay will trace the events which led to the dissolution of the Bolshevik Center.In order to be able to follow the tactical debates a definition of terms to be used throughout this paper would be helpful. In terms of the strategic problems facing the Bolsheviks, as well as members of the Russian Social-Democratic Party (RSDP), in their attitude to theDuma, the word Boycott will refer to those who argued that the Bolsheviks should not participate in theDuma in any capacity. TheBoycottists maintained that the Bolsheviks should not even participate in the elections to theDuma. The wordUltimatism refers to those among the Bolsheviks who wished to participate in the ThirdDuma, but who favored the total obedience of the Russian Social-Democrats who might be elected to theDuma to the Central Committee of the Party.Ultimatism refers to the control and hegemony of the Central Committee over any social-democratic delegates who might win elections to the Third Duma.Otzovism means removing. TheOtzovists were those among the Bolsheviks, who advocated the removal of any social-democratic delegate in the ThirdDuma who disobeyed the directives of the Party Central Committee. Ultimatism andOtzovism concerned questions of Party authority. The Otzovist recommended the expulsion of any delegate in the Duma who abrogated the authority of the Party organs.Boycottism did not deal with questions of Party authority as such, but rather was fundamentally a tactical question: participation or non-participation in theDuma, e.g. parliamentarism vs revolution.

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