The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(recallers), a leftist opportunist group that formed within the RSDLP in 1908 and was headed by A. A. Bogdanov. Members of the group included G. A. Aleksinskii, A. V. Sokolov (S. Vol’skii), A. V. Lunacharskii, M. N. Liadov, and M. N. Pokrovskii.

The otzovisty voiced the opinions of “immature elements in the ranks of Bolshevism” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 19, pp. 107–08). They demanded the recall (Russian otzyv, hence their name) of the Social Democratic faction from the State Duma; the cessation of party work in officially recognized organizations of the working class, such as unions, cooperatives, and clubs; and the concentration of work within illegal party organizations. The otzovisty maintained that tsarism had already become a bourgeois monarchy and that the serf-owning landlords had been Europeanized and had become bourgeois. From their leftist position, they rejected the inevitability of a second bourgeois-democratic revolution, considering that type of revolution to be already in the past and only a “purely proletarian” revolution remaining in the future. Failing to take into account the conditions of the reaction of 1908–10 and the absence of a revolutionary situation in Russia, the otzovisty insisted on preserving the slogan of armed rebellion and called for immediate, open revolutionary action. At the root of the erroneous tactics of the otzovisty lay their dogmatic approach to determining the tasks of the party. “The repetition of ‘slogans’ learned by rote but not understood and not thought out led to the widespread prevalence of empty phrase-mongering. The practical expression of this were such absolutely un-Marxist, petit-bourgeois trends as frank or shamefaced ’otzovizm,’ or the recognition of otzovizm as a ‘legal shade’ of Marxism” (ibid., vol. 20, p. 88). Lenin called the tactics of the otzovisty the tactics “of preserving (in storage cans) the revolutionary words” of the first Russian revolution (ibid., vol 47, p. 222).

The activity of the otzovisty threatened the very existence of the party; their refusal to make use of legal possibilities would have ended the ties between the party and the masses, without which the party would have become a closed, sectarian group, incapable of acting as leader of a class. Menshevik liquidators openly proposed the abolition of the illegal party, whereas Lenin viewed otzovizm as “liquidationism on the left” and “Menshevism turned inside out” (ibid., vol. 17, p. 367). The Fifth All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP in December 1908 (January 1909) condemned liquidators and resolutely dissociated itself from otzovizm. After this rebuff at the conference, the otzovisty continued their factional activities, organizing their school on the island of Capri. In June 1909 a conference of the expanded editorial board of the newspaper Proletarii (in effect the Bolshevik leadership) adopted a resolution stating that Bolshevism had nothing in common with otzovizm and ul’timatizm (a variety of otzovizm) and called for an uncompromising struggle against these deviations from revolutionary Marxism. The leader of the otzovisty, Bogdanov, was excluded from the ranks of the Bolsheviks. In December 1909 the otzovisty and ul’timatisty (ultimatumists) organized the antiparty Vpered group. A number of otzovisty, including Lunacharskii, Liadov, and Pokrovskii, later admitted their errors.


Lenin, V. I. “Po povodu stat’i ‘K ocherednym voprosam.’ ” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. vol. 17.
Lenin, V. I. “Karikatra na bol’shevizm.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “O fraktsii storonnikov otzovizma i bogostroitel’stva. Ibid., vol. 19.
Lenin, V. I. “Pis’mo organizatoram Kapriiskoi shkoly.” Ibid., vol. 47. Ibid., Index volume, part 1, p. 446.
KPSS v revoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov konferentsii iplenumov TsK, vol. 1, 8th ed. Moscow, 1970.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.