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The Fifth Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party
April 30-May 19 (May 13-June 1), 1907


Speech on the Attitude to the Polish Draft Resolution on Bourgeois Parties
May 15 (28)

V. I. Lenin

From the preceding speech you could see how just Comrade Popov's remarks were about the fruitlessness of the present discussion. You have yourselves seen how thoroughly unprincipled Lieber's speech was. I should merely like to remind you that, in our abortive commission, four Mensheviks, one member of the Bund, and two Poles voted against us and the Latvians on the question of adopting the Polish draft as a basis for the resolution.

Thus the Polish draft was taken as a basis in the commission by those people who in principle were farthest removed from the Poles. They did this in order to introduce into the draft amendments in a Menshevik spirit—in order to render the resolution unacceptable to its authors! Lieber himself voted with the Mensheviks both in this case (Lieber: "That is not true!") and in voting on the permissibility of blocs with the Cadets. After this his pathetic speeches about principles are simply ridiculous.

I quite understand the Poles' trying to get their draft adopted as a basis. To them our resolution seemed to go into unnecessary details. They wanted to limit themselves to the two basic principles which truly unite us—(1) the class distinction of the proletariat from all bourgeois parties, in everything that concerns socialism; (2) the combination of joint action by Social-Democracy and petty-bourgeois democracy against liberal treachery. Both these ideas run like a scarlet thread through the Bolshevik draft as well. But the brevity of the Polish draft left too much room for Menshevik juggling. Their amendments compelled even the authors to vote against their own draft as a whole. And at the same time, neither the Mensheviks nor the Bund members undertook to defend the Polish draft they had thus "amended" The result was the collapse of the work of the entire commission.

There is now one thing left for all of us in general, and the Polish comrades in particular, to do—to endeavour to have the Bolshevik draft accepted as a basis. If un acceptable amendments are made to the latter too, then we shall have to acknowledge that the Congress is incompetent. It is, however, possible that on the basis of this draft, which gives a precise analysis of all the fundamental types of parties, we shall be able to reach a decision sufficiently definite in the spirit of revolutionary Social-Democracy.

The objection is raised against our draft that it describes parties in too great detail. Parties, they say, can break up, realign themselves—and then the entire resolution will be useless.

This objection is quite groundless. It is not small groups or even individual parties that we describe in our resolution, but large groups of parties. These groups are so large that rapid changes in their mutual relations are far less possible than a complete change from revolutionary decline to upsurge or vice versa. Take these groups and examine them. A reactionary and a more or less progressive bourgeoisie are unvarying types in all capitalist countries. We have added only two more to these two unvarying types: the Octobrists (intermediate between the Black Hundreds and the liberals) and the Trudovik groups. Can these types change rapidly? They cannot, unless our revolution takes so radical a turn that we shall, in any way, be obliged to radically reconsider, not only our Congress resolutions, but even our Programme.

Give thought to our programme demand for the confiscation of all landed estates. In no other country could the Social-Democrats ever support the confiscatory aspirations of the petty bourgeoisie. That would be a fraud in an ordinary capitalist country. But in our country, it is essential in the period of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. We can, therefore, be sure that fundamental questions in the appraisal of the Trudovik parties will not have to be revised any sooner than our programme demand for confiscation.

Let me furthermore point out that to avoid all misunderstanding and false interpretation of the Left bloc, we have given a precise definition of the content of the Trudovik parties' struggle. Actually they are not fighting against exploitation in general (as it seems to them), and certainly not against capitalist exploitation (in the way their ideologists assert); they are fighting only against the feudal state and landlordism. And an exact description of this true content of the struggle will at once put an end to all false conceptions of possible joint action by the workers' party and the peasantry in the struggle for socialism, in the struggle against capitalism.

In our resolution we also speak clearly of the "pseudo socialist nature" of the Trudovik parties, and call for a resolute struggle against any glossing over of the class conflict between petty proprietors and the proletariat. We call for an exposure of the hazy socialist ideology of the petty bourgeoisie. This is something that must be said about petty-bourgeois parties, but it is all that need be said. The Mensheviks are profoundly mistaken when they add to this the struggle against the revolutionism and the utopianism of the peasantry in the present revolution, which is what follows from their resolution. Objectively such an idea amounts to a call to fight against the confiscation of landed estates, and does so because the most influential and widespread ideological and political trends of liberalism declare that confiscation is revolutionism, utopianism, and so forth. It is not accidental, but inevitable, that during the past year the Mensheviks have wandered from such principles towards a renunciation in practice of support for confiscation.

We must not allow things to go so far, comrades! In one of his speeches Dan said jokingly: "We have poor critics if they criticise us mostly for what we have not done. We only wanted to renounce confiscation, but we have not renounced it!"

To this I should like to reply—if you had done so we would not now be a united party. We must not let things go so far as such renunciations. If we permit even the shadow of an idea of such a policy we shall be shaking all the revolutionary foundations of the independent class struggle of the proletariat in a bourgeois-democratic revolution. (Applause from the Bolsheviks. Poles and Latvians.)

Published: First published in the book The London Congress of the R.S.D.L P. (1907), Unabridged Minutes, Paris, 1909.
Published according to the manuscript, verified with the book.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 437-488.

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