Thread: When was the term "Leninism" invented (and by who)?

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    Default When was the term "Leninism" invented (and by who)?

    An anecdote of Mikhail Lifshitz (btw new translation out: about hearing the word "Leninism" for the first time:

    In 1923, the year before Lenin's death, at Vkhutemas there was already taught a course on Marxist philosophy; it was given by the former anarchist, Lunacharsky's friend I. Grossman-Roshchin, a man very funny, a member of the literary controversies of those years. His lectures, however, few students could understand, they were full of all scientific terminology, foreign words, which he oddly shouted. Nevertheless, to this man I owe the discovery of my, if I may say, philosophical talent. During the winter break he gave students topics of independent written work. I chose the topic of pragmatism, read James and wrote a criticism of his philosophy. When the courses began again, Grossman-Roshchin publicly praised me. To me he said the prophetic words, which, I hope, are not so far from the truth: 'Your forte is Leninism.' The word "Leninism" then sounded for the first time for me.


    Now Stalin's Foundations of Leninism appeared only in April 1924, so Grossman-Roshchin's remark predates it. Perhaps the word already existed as an insult by the Mensheviks, but where did it precisely first emerge?
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    It was first used by Martov in his 1904 brochure on the "state of siege" in the party (Борьба с 'осадным положением' в Российской социалистической рабочей партии. ) p. 68 in a footnote. Here is Lenin's reply:

    There is a close psychological connection between this hatred of discipline and that incessant nagging note of injury which is to be detected in all the writings of all opportunists today in general, and of our minority in particular. They are being persecuted, hounded, ejected, besieged, and bullied. There is far more psychological and political truth in these catchwords than was probably suspected even by the author of the pleasant and witty joke about bullies and bullied. For you have only to take the minutes of our Party Congress to see that the minority are all those who suffer from a sense of injury, all those who at one time or another and for one reason or another were offended by the revolutionary Social-Democrats.
    If in the course of these three years we were not just wagging our tongues, but giving expression to convictions which were to be translated into deeds, we could not but fight the anti-Iskra-ists and the “Marsh” at the Congress. And when, together with Comrade Martov, who had fought in the front line with visor up [front piece of a helmet, especially : a movable upper piece], we had offended such heaps of people, we had only to offend Comrade Axelrod and Comrade Martov ever such a little bit for the cup to overflow. Quantity was transformed into quality. The negation was negated. All the offended forgot their mutual scores, fell weeping into each other’s arms, and raised the banner of “revolt against Leninism". *

    *footnote: This amazing expression is Comrade Martov’s (State of Siege, p. 68)

    Comrade Martov waited until he was five to one before raising the “revolt” against me alone. Comrade Martov argues very unskilfully: he wants to destroy his opponent by paying him the highest compliments. —Lenin

    A revolt is a splendid thing when it is the advanced elements who revolt against the reactionary elements. When the revolutionary wing revolts against the opportunist wing, it is a good thing. When the opportunist wing revolts against the revolutionary wing, it is a bad business.

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