This article deals with the political debates of early Latvian socialists concerning the national question in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These debates were crucial for the later development of Latvian politics. The idea of Latvian democratic statehood was first pronounced and advocated in this context. The debate also strongly influenced those Latvian socialists, who as the ‘vanguard of Bolshevism,’ later became devout followers of Lenin. An interaction of several intellectual traditions can be observed in these debates, both German and Russian. The internationalist orientation of the later Bolsheviks (Fricis Roziņš, Pēteris Stučka) is mainly due to the influence of the German Marxism of the Second International. The democratic nationalist orientation (Miķelis Valters), to the contrary, is indebted to the influence of Russian narodniks, particularly Mikhail Bakunin.