Report of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. to the Brussels Conference
and Instructions to the C.C. Delegation
V. I. Lenin
Before proceeding to the report on behalf of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, I shall first of all take this opportunity of performing a pleasant duty, and on behalf of that body express profound thanks to Comrade Vandervelde, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Socialist Bureau, for visiting our country and making himself personally acquainted with the leaders of the working-class movement in St. Petersburg. We are particularly grateful to Comrade Vandervelde for being the first to establish direct contact between prominent members of the International and the class-conscious and leading workers of Russia, and also for publishing in the foreign socialist press (we have in mind Le Peuple and l'Hutmanité) objective data on the working-class movement in Russia, data collected on the spot from the editors of the newspapers of the three trends, namely the Pravdist (i. e., our Party), the liquidationist and the Socialist-Revolutionary trends.
I shall divide my report on the question of the unity of the Russian Social-Democratic movement into the following four parts: (1) first, I shall explain the gist of the main differences among the Social-Democrats; (2) I shall then quote data concerning the mass working-class movement in Russia, showing how our Party line has been tested by the experience of this movement; (3) I shall explain how the line and position of our opponents have been tested by the same experience. Fourth and last, I shall formulate, on behalf of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, concrete, positive and practical proposals for unity.
There are two bodies of opinion on what is at present taking place in the Russian Social-Democratic movement.
One opinion, expounded by Rosa Luxemburg in the proposal she made to the International Socialist Bureau last year (December 1913) and shared by the liquidators and the groups which support them, is as follows: in Russia the "chaos" of factional strife reigns among a multitude of factions, the worst of which, namely, the Leninist faction, is most active in fomenting a split. Actually, the differences do not preclude the possibility of joint activities. The road to unity lies through agreement or compromise among all trends and groups.
The other opinion, which we hold, is that there is nothing resembling "chaos of factional strife" in Russia. The only thing we have there is a struggle against the liquidators, and it is only in the course of this struggle that a genuinely workers' Social-Democratic Party is being built up, which has already united the overwhelming majority—four-fifths—of the class-conscious workers of Russia. The illegal Party, in which the majority of the workers of Russia are organised, has been represented by the following conferences: the January Conference of 1912, the February Conference of 1913, and the Summer Conference of 1913. The legal organ of the Party is the newspaper Pravda (Vérité), hence the name Pravdist. Incidentally, this opinion was expressed by the St. Petersburg worker who, at a banquet in St. Petersburg which Comrade Vandervelde attended, stated that the workers in the factories of St. Petersburg are united, and that outside of this unity of the workers there are only "general staffs without armies".
In the second part of my report I shall deal with the objective data which prove that ours is the correct opinion. And now I shall deal with the substance of liquidationism.
The liquidationist groups were formally expelled from the Party at the R.S.D.L.P. Conference in January 1912, but the question of liquidationism was raised by our Party much earlier. A definite official resolution, binding upon the whole Party and unreservedly condemning liquidationism, was adopted by the All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. held as far back as December 1908. In this resolution liquidationism is defined as follows:
(Liquidationism is) "an attempt on the part of some of the Party intelligentsia to liquidate the existing organisation of the R.S.D.L.P. and to substitute for it an amorphous federation acting at all cost within the limits of legality, even at the cost of openly abandoning the programme, tactics and traditions of the Party".
From this it is evident that as far back as 1908 liquidationism was officially declared and recognised as an intellectualist trend, and that in substance it stood for the renunciation of the illegal Party and the substitution, or advocacy of the substitution, of a legal party for it.
The Central Committee's plenary meeting held in January 1910 once again unanimously condemned liquidationism as "a manifestation of the influence of the bourgeoisie on the proletariat".
From this we see how mistaken is the opinion that our differences with the liquidators are no deeper and are less important than those between the so-called radicals and moderates in Western Europe. There is not a single—literally not a single—West-European party that has ever had occasion to adopt a general party decision against people who desired to dissolve the party and to substitute a new one for it!
Nowhere in Western Europe has there ever been, nor can there ever be, a question of whether it is permissible to bear the title of party member and at the same time advocate the dissolution of that party, to argue that the party is use less and unnecessary, and that another party be substituted for it. Nowhere in Western Europe does the question concern the very existence of the party as it does with us, i. e., whether that party is to be or not to be.
This is not disagreement over a question of organisation, of how the party should be built, but disagreement concerning the very existence of the party. Here, conciliation, agreement and compromise are totally out of the question.
We could not have built up our Party (to the extent of four-fifths) and cannot continue to build it otherwise than by relentlessly fighting those publicists who in the legal press fight against the "underground" (i.e., the illegal Party), declare it to be an "evil", justify and eulogise desertion from it, and advocate the formation of an "open party".
In present-day Russia, where even the party of the extremely moderate liberals is not legal, our Party can exist only as an illegal party. The exceptional and unique feature of our position, which somewhat resembles that of the German Social-Democrats under the Anti-Socialist Law (although, even then, the Germans enjoyed a hundred times more legality than we do in Russia), is that our illegal Social-Democratic Labour Party consists of illegal workers' organisations (often called "cells") which are surrounded by a more or less dense network of legal workers' associations (such as sick insurance societies, trade unions, educational associations, athletic clubs, temperance societies, and so forth). Most of these legal associations exist in the metropolis; in many parts of the provinces there are none at all.
Some of the illegal organisations are fairly large, others are quite small and in some cases they consist only of "trusted agents".
The legal associations serve to some extent as a screen for the illegal organisations and for the extensive, legal advocacy of the idea of working-class solidarity among the masses. Nation-wide contacts between the leading working class organisations, the maintenance of a centre (the Central Committee) and the passing of precise Party resolutions on all questions—all these are of course carried out quite illegally and call for the utmost secrecy and trustworthiness on the part of advanced and tested workers.
To come out in the legal press against the "underground" or in favour of an "open party" is simply to disrupt our Party, and we must regard the people who do this as bitter enemies of our Party.
Naturally, repudiation of the "underground" goes hand in hand with repudiation of revolutionary tactics and advocacy of reformism. Russia is passing through a period of bourgeois revolutions. In Russia even the most moderate bourgeois—the Cadets and Octobrists—are decidedly dissatisfied with the government. But they are all enemies of revolution and detest us for "demagogy", for striving again to lead the masses to the barricades as we did in 1905. They are all bourgeois who advocate only "reforms" and spread among the masses the highly pernicious idea that reform is compatible with the present tsarist monarchy.
Our tactics are different. We make use of every reform (insurance, for example) and of every legal society. But we use them to develop the revolutionary consciousness and the revolutionary struggle of the masses. In Russia, where political freedom to this day does not exist, these words have far more direct implications for us than they have in Europe. Our Party conducts revolutionary strikes, which in Russia are growing as in no other country in the world. Take, for example, the month of May alone. In May 1912, 64,000 and in May 1914, 99,000 workers were involved in economic strikes.
The number involved in political strikes was: 364,000 in 1912 and (347,000 in 1914. The combination of political and economic struggle produces the revolutionary strike, which, by rousing the peasant millions, trains them for revolution. Our Party conducts campaigns of revolutionary meetings and revolutionary street demonstrations. For this purpose our Party distributes revolutionary leaflets and an illegal newspaper, the Party's Central Organ. The ideological unification of all these propaganda and agitation activities among the masses is achieved by the slogans adopted by the supreme bodies of our Party, namely: (1) an eight-hour day; (2) confiscation of the landed estates, and (3) a democratic republic. In the present situation in Russia, where absolute tyranny and despotism prevail and where all laws are suppressed by the tsarist monarchy, only these slogans can effectually unite and direct the entire propaganda and agitation of the Party aimed at effectually sustaining the revolutionary working-class movement.
It amuses us to hear the liquidators say, for example, that we are opposed to "freedom of association", for we not only emphasised the importance of this point of our programme in a special resolution adopted by the January Conference of 1912, but we made ten times more effective use of the curtailed right of association (the insurance societies, for example) than the liquidators did. But when people tell us in the legal press that the slogans of confiscation of the land and of a republic cannot serve as subjects for agitation among the masses, we say that there can be no question of our Party's unity with such people, and such a group of publicists.
Since the purpose of this first part of my report is to explain the gist of our differences, I shall say no more on this point, except to remind you that the fourth part of my re port will contain practical proposals, with an exact list of all the cases where the liquidators have departed from our Party's programme and decisions.
I shall not here go into the details of the history of the liquidators' breakaway from our illegal Party, the R.S.D.L.P., but will merely indicate the three main periods of this history.
First period: from the autumn of 1908 to January 1910. The Party combated liquidationism with the aid of precise, official, Party decisions condemning it.
Second period: from January 1910 to January 1912. The liquidators hindered the work of restoring the Central Committee of the Party; they disrupted the Central Committee of the Party and dismissed the last remnants of it, namely, the Technical Commission of the Bureau Abroad of the Central Committee. The Party committees in Russia then (autumn 1911) set up the Russian Organising Commission for the purpose of restoring the Party. That Commission convened the January Conference of 1912. The Conference restored the Party, elected a Central Committee and expelled the liquidationist group from the Party.
Third period: from January 1912 to the present time. The specific feature of this period is that a majority of four-fifths of the class-conscious workers of Russia have rallied around the decisions and bodies created by the January Conference of 1912.
I now come to the second part of my report, in which I shall describe the present state of our Party and of the liquidators in the light of the mass working-class movement in Russia. I shall try to answer the question: does the experience of the mass movement confirm the correctness of our Party's line or of the liquidators' line?
On April 22, 1912 (old style) the working-class daily, Pravda, began to appear in Russia, thanks to the restoration of the Party at the January Conference of 1912; this newspaper is pursuing the line (often by hints and always in a curtailed form) laid down by that Conference. Obviously, we never mention in any organ of the press the illegal connection that exists between the Party's illegal Conference of January 1912 and the Central Committee it set up, on the one hand, and the legal newspaper Pravda, on the other. In September 1912, the rival newspaper of the liquidators, Luch, now called Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, began to appear. Then, in the autumn of 1912, the Fourth Duma elections took place. In 1913, a new insurance law came into force in Russia, establishing sick funds for the workers. Lastly, the legal trade unions, relentlessly persecuted by the government and repeatedly suppressed, were, nevertheless, constantly revived.
It is not difficult to understand that all these manifestations of the mass working-class movement—especially the daily newspapers of the two trends—provide a vast amount of public, verifiable, and objective data. We deem it our duty to the Executive Committee of the International Socialist Bureau emphatically to protest against the habit of the liquidators and their defenders abroad of making unsubstantiated statements, assurances and declamations, while ignoring the objective facts of the mass working-class movement in Russia.
It is these facts that have definitely strengthened us in our conviction that the line we are pursuing is the right one.
In January 1912 the Conference of the R.S.D.L.P., which restored the illegal Party, was held. The liquidators and the groups abroad (including Plekhanov) greeted it with abuse. But what about the workers in Russia?
The answer to this question was provided by the Fourth Duma elections.
These elections were held in the autumn of 1912. Whereas in the Third Duma 5O per cent (four out of eight) of the deputies elected by the worker curia belonged to our trend, in the Fourth Duma six out of nine, i.e., 67 per cent, of the deputies elected by the worker curia were supporters of the Party. This proves that the masses of the workers sided with the Party and rejected liquidationism. If the six members of the Duma, who incline towards liquidationism, now really desire unity with the Party group in the Duma, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group, then we are obliged to say that recognition of the fact that these deputies are carrying out the will of the majority of the workers is the condition for unity.
To proceed. Daily newspapers are extremely important media of working-class organisation. They contain a vast amount of material proving this, i.e., the figures showing the number of contributions received from workers' groups. Both newspapers, the Pravdist (i.e., the Party) and the liquidationist, publish reports of financial contributions received from workers' groups. These reports are, for Russia, the best conceivable index—public and legal—of the actual state of organisation of the masses of the workers.
In Western Europe, where the socialist parties are legal, the number of party members is known to everybody, and discussions concerning the organised working-class movement are always based on these figures.
In Russia we have no open, i.e., legal party. The Party's organisations are illegal, secret, "underground", as we say. But an indirect—and also unerring—index of the state of these organisations is provided by the number of financial contributions received from workers' groups.
These figures have been published openly and regularly in both newspapers—for over two years in ours and over eighteen months in the liquidators'—and if any false claim or mistake were made it would immediately have called forth a protest on the part of the workers themselves. Consequently, these figures are absolutely reliable and are the best public and legal index of the state of organisation of the masses of the workers.
Our liquidators, and the groups abroad which defend them, persistently ignore these figures, and say nothing about them in their press; but our workers merely regard this as evidence of their desire to flout the will of the majority of the workers, as evidence of their lack of honesty.
Here are the figures for the whole of 1913. The Pravdists received 2,181 money contributions from workers' groups, while the liquidators received 661. In 1914 (up to May 13), the Pravdists had the support of 2,873 workers' groups, and the liquidators, of 671. Thus, the Pravdists organised 77 per cent of the workers' groups in 1913, and 81 per cent in 1914.
The Pravdists have been publishing these figures regularly since 1912, inviting investigation, pointing to their objective character, and calling upon the genuine (not hypocritical) friends of "unity" straightforwardly and honestly to submit to the will of the majority of the workers. Failing this, all their talk about unity is sheer hypocrisy.
After the liquidators had been fighting the Party for eighteen months, the class-conscious workers of Russia, by a four-fifths majority, approved of the Pravda line and demonstrated their loyalty to the "underground" and to revolutionary tactics. What we expect from the liquidators and their friends is not phrases about "unity" against the Party's will, but a straightforward answer to the question: do they or do they not accept the will of the vast majority of the class-conscious workers of Russia?
It is easy to give empty assurances, but it is very difficult to organise a genuine working-class newspaper that is really maintained by the workers. All the foreign comrades know this, and they are more experienced than we are. A real working-class newspaper, i.e., a newspaper that is really financed by the workers and which pursues the Party line, is a powerful instrument of organisation.
What do these figures show? These objective figures show that Pravda is a genuinely working-class newspaper, whereas the liquidationist newspaper, which repudiates the "underground", i. e., the Party, both in its ideas and in the sources from which it obtains its funds is, in fact, a bourgeois newspaper.
From January 1 to May 13, 1914, both newspapers, as usual, published reports of collections, and our newspaper published a summary of these reports. Here are the results. Pravda collected R.21,584.11, of which R.18,934.10 came from workers' groups. Thus, 87 per cent of the contributions came from organised workers and only 13 per cent from the bourgeoisie.
The liquidators collected R.12,055.89, of which R.5,296.12 came from workers' groups, i.e., only 44 per cent—less than half. The liquidators get more than half their funds from bourgeois sources.
Moreover, day in day out the entire liberal-bourgeois press eulogises the liquidators, helps then to flout the will of the majority of the workers, and encourages them in their reformism and repudiation of the "underground".
The activities of the groups abroad are exemplified in the newspaper Yedinstvo, run by Comrade Plekhanov, deputy Buryanov, and others. I have before me three issues of this newspaper, the first for May 18 and the third for June 15 of this year. The reports in these issues show that somebody contributed 1,000 rubles to the newspaper through Comrade Olgin, who lives abroad, while collections made abroad amounted to R.207.52. Six (six!) workers' groups contributed 60 rubles.
And this newspaper, which is supported by six workers' groups in Russia, calls upon the workers not to heed the Party's decisions, and calls it a "splitters'" Party! A Party which in the course of two-and-a-half years rallied 5,600 groups of workers around the definitely formulated decisions of the three illegal conferences of 1912 and 1913 is a "splitters'" Party; whereas Plekhanov's group, which united six workers' groups in Russia and collected 1,200 rubles abroad for the purpose of thwarting the will of the Russian workers, is a group which stands for "unity", if you please!
Plekhanov accuses others of being factionalists, as though making separate collections for a separate group, and calling upon the workers not to carry out the decisions adopted by a four-fifths majority, is not factionalism.
As for us, we say plainly that we regard the behaviour of Plekhanov's group as a model of disruption. Plekhanov's conduct is the same as though Mehring, in Germany, were to organise six workers' groups and, in an independent newspaper, call upon the German Social-Democrats to defy the party which had, let us assume, split away from the Poles.
Plekhanov and we speak in different tongues. We call the solidarity of four-fifths of the workers in Russia real unity, and not unity merely in word; and we call disruption the struggle conducted by groups abroad—financed with money collected abroad—against the majority of the Russian workers.
According to the figures Comrade Vandervelde obtained in St. Petersburg and made public in the tress, Pravda has a circulation of 40,000, while the liquidationist newspaper has one of 16,000. Pravda is maintained by the workers and pays its way, but the liquidationist newspaper is maintained by those whom our newspaper calls their rich friends from among the bourgeoisie.
We are submitting to the Executive Committee of the International Socialist Bureau the financial reports published in both newspapers. To foreign comrades, who know what a serious business a working-class newspaper is, this will be far more convincing than assurances, promises, statements, and abuse of the Leninists.
We ask the liquidators: do they still choose to ignore the objective fact that their group's newspaper is in effect a bourgeois undertaking run for the purpose of advocating repudiation of the "underground" and of flouting the will of the majority of the class-conscious workers of Russia?
If they do, then all their talk about "unity" will continue to evoke derision from our workers.
Those who earnestly seek unity should sincerely admit that the entire liquidationist line is utterly fallacious, as has been proved by Party decisions commencing with 1908, as well as by the experience of the struggle waged by the masses of the workers during the past two-and-a-half years.
To proceed. Here are the objective figures concerning the election of workers' representatives to the insurance bodies. We reject as mere liberalism all talk about political, constitutional reforms in present-day tsarist Russia and will have nothing to do with it; but we take advantage of real reforms, such as insurance, in deed and not in word. The entire workers' group on the All-Russia Insurance Board consists of Pravda supporters, i.e., of workers who have condemned and rejected liquidationism. During the election to this All-Russia Insurance Board, 47 out of the 57 delegates, i. e., 82 per cent, were Pravdists. During the election of the Metropolitan, St. Petersburg, Insurance Board, 37 of the delegates were Pravdists and 7 were liquidators, the Pravdists constituting 84 per cent.
The same can be said about the trade unions. When they hear the talk of the Russian Social-Democrats abroad about the "chaos of factional strife" in Russia (indulged in by Rosa Luxemburg, Plekhanov, Trotsky, and others), our foreign comrades perhaps imagine that the trade union movement in our country is split up.
Nothing of the kind.
In Russia there are no duplicate unions. Both in St. Petersburg and in Moscow, the trade unions are united. The point is that in these unions the Pravdists completely predominate.
Not one of the thirteen trade unions in Moscow is liquidationist.
Of the twenty trade unions in St. Petersburg listed in our Workers' Calendar together with their membership, only the Draftsmen's, Druggist Employees' and Clerks' Unions, and half the members of the Printers' Union, are liquidationist; in all the other unions—Metalworkers', Textile Workers', Tailors', Woodworkers', Shop Assistants', and so forth—the Pravdists completely predominate.
And we say plainly: if the liquidators do not want drastically to change their tactics and put a stop to their disruptive struggle against the organised majority of the class-conscious workers in Russia, let them stop talking about "unity".
Every day Pravda commends the "underground", if only obliquely, and condemns those who repudiate it. And the workers follow the lead of their Pravda.
Here are figures on the illegal press published abroad. After the liquidators' August Conference in 1912, our Party, up to June 1914, put out live issues of an illegal leading political newspaper; the liquidators—nil; the Socialist-Revolutionaries—nine. These figures do not include leaflets issued in Russia for revolutionary agitation during strikes, meetings and demonstrations.
In these five issues you will find mention of 44 illegal organisations of our Party; the liquidators—nil; the Socialist Revolutionaries—21 (mainly students and peasants).
Lastly, in October 1913, an independent Russian Social-Democratic Labour group was formed in the Duma, the aim of that group, unlike that of the liquidators, being to carry out, not flout, the will of the majority of the class-conscious workers of Russia. At that time both newspapers published resolutions from workers all over Russia supporting either the line of the Party group or that of the liquidationist group. The signatures to the resolutions in favour of the Pravdist, i. e., the Party group in the Duma, numbered 6,722, whereas those supporting the liquidationist group numbered 2,985 (including 1,086 signatures of Bundist workers and 719 of Caucasian workers). Thus, together with all their allies, the liquidators succeeded in collecting less than one-third of the signatures.
These, briefly, are the objective data which we oppose to the bare statements by the liquidators. These objective data on the mass working-class movement in Russia during the past two-and-a-half years definitely prove, through the experience of the class-conscious workers, that our Party line is correct.
Here I must digress and quote a concrete case to prove why "unity" or even "peace" with the present newspaper of the present liquidators is entirely ruled out.
This is an extremely important case, which will explain the attitude of the liquidators towards our Party's illegal activities, and I therefore ask the comrades to pay special attention to it.
It is common knowledge that since 1912 the revolutionary mass strikes have been developing with remarkable success in Russia. The factory owners have tried to counter them with lockouts. To formulate the Party's attitude towards this form of struggle, a conference of our Party, held in February 1913 (note the date: 1913!) drew up and published a resolution illegally.
This resolution (page 11 of the illegal publication) definitely advanced "the immediate task of organising revolutionary street demonstrations". It definitely recommended (ibid.) that "to counteract lockouts, new forms of struggle should be devised, such as the go-slow strike, for example, and, instead of political strikes, revolutionary, meetings and revolutionary street demonstrations should be organised",
This, we repeat, was in February 1913, i. e., six months after the August Conference (1912) of the liquidators, the very same conference which assured the whole world that the liquidators were not opposed to the "underground". Neither during those six months, from August 1912 to February 1913, nor during the ensuing twelve months, from February 1913 to February 1914, did the August bloc issue a single resolution on this question. Absolutely none! Listen further.
On March 20, 1914, the St. Petersburg factory owners decided to retaliate to a strike by declaring a lockout. In one day 70,000 workers in St. Petersburg were dismissed.
In conformity with our Party's resolution, the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P., our Party's illegal organisation in St. Petersburg, decided to meet the lockout with a revolutionary demonstration on April 4, the anniversary of the shootings in the Lena gold-fields.
It illegally issued an appeal to the workers, a copy of which lies before me now. It is signed: "The St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P." It repeats the Party's slogans (a republic and confiscation of the land) and ends with the words:
"Comrades! Come out onto the Nevsky Prospekt at 11 a.m. on April 4."
Needless to say, Pravda itself, as a legal publication, could not mention this appeal, let alone reprint it.
What was to be done? How could it convey to its working-class readers, if only to the most class-conscious and advanced of them, the idea that it was necessary to support the illegal appeal for an illegal revolutionary demonstration?
The only thing was to resort to the method that we always resort to, namely, hinting.
And so, on the very day of the demonstration, on Friday, April 4,1914, our paper (Put Pravdy No. 54) published an unsigned leading article under the discreet heading: "Forms of the Working-Class Movement." This article makes direct mention of the "formal decision adopted by the Marxists in February 1913" and hints at a demonstration of a revolutionary character in the following words:
"The class-conscious workers are well acquainted with certain concrete cases when the movement rose to higher forms [i. e., forms of the struggle] which, historically, were subjected to repeated tests, and which are 'unintelligible' and 'alien' only to the liquidators." (Put Pravdy, 1914, No. 54.)
The Russian police and public prosecutors missed the hint. But the class-conscious workers did not.
The demonstration took place. All the bourgeois evening newspapers of April 4 were full of it. The next day, April 5, our paper (see Put Pravdy No. 55) quoted excerpts from the bourgeois newspapers, which stated that "during the last few days large numbers of leaflets signed by the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. were distributed among the workers, calling for a demonstration on April 4, the anniversary of the events in the Lena gold-fields".
Our paper could not be prosecuted for publishing this passage from the bourgeois newspapers. The result was that the decision of the illegal Party was carried out. A revolutionary demonstration was organised, and this work was backed by a legal newspaper with a readership of 40,000 workers.
And what did the liquidators do?
As I have already said, neither during the six months from August 1912 to February 1913, nor during the whole of the ensuing twelve months did a single illegal decision of the August bloc appear.
Nobody heard anything of illegal appeals by the liquidators (in connection with April 4, 1914) in St. Petersburg, nor did the bourgeois newspapers mention them. It must be said that evidence by the bourgeois newspapers is very important, for when leaflets are distributed in really large numbers, the bourgeois newspapers always hear and write about it. On the other hand, if leaflets are distributed in insignificant numbers, the masses are not aware of the fact, and the bourgeois newspapers say nothing about it.
Thus, the liquidators themselves did nothing to organise the revolutionary demonstration on April 4, 1914. They held aloof.
Moreover, in reporting the demonstration the next day, the legal liquidationist newspaper
did not reproduce the information given in the bourgeois newspapers about the distribution of leaflets signed by the St. Petersburg Committee of our Party!
This is monstrous, but it is a fact. I attach here a copy of the liquidationist newspaper of April 5, 1914 (Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta No. 48), in order to denounce this fact before the Executive Committee of the International Socialist Bureau.
Just think what this means! People who shout that they want "unity" with our Party, people who claim to be Social-Democrats, conceal from the workers the existence of the illegal organisation of our Party, the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P., conceal the fact that the latter issued revolutionary, illegal, underground leaflets, and that it organised the demonstration on April 4, 1914.
People who shout about "unity" with our Party refrain from reproducing information published in the bourgeois newspapers about the mass distribution of underground leaflets signed by the St. Petersburg Committee of our Party!
This should help our comrades in the foreign parties to understand why the question of the "underground" is of such vital and cardinal importance to us.
But even that is not all. A week later, on April 11, 1914, an article appeared in the liquidationist newspaper (Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta No. 51) in which the author sneered at the article published in Pravda of April 4, the day of the demonstration, on the "higher forms" of the struggle, sneered at the fact that Pravda had
"clothed its ideas in a form that is difficult to understand"!
Just think: the legal liquidationist newspaper, which is constantly criticising and abusing the "underground" sneers at the fact that our legal newspaper, which desires to help the "underground", does this only in the form of hints!
And for our newspaper's hint at "higher forms", i.e., at the revolutionary, demonstration organised by the St. Petersburg Committee of our Party, the liquidators publicly, in their newspaper, in that very same article, called us "adventurists" and "most unprincipled adventurists", "anarcho-syndicalists" "acting as agents provocateurs against the workers"!
I have with me all the documents, a copy of the leaflet issued by the St. Petersburg Committee, a copy of our newspaper; and a copy of the liquidationist newspaper. Let those comrades who are interested request that these documents be translated for them in full.
On behalf of the Central Committee of our Party and of the vast majority of the organised Social-Democratic workers of Russia, I declare: there can be no "unity" and no "peace" with this group of liquidators as long as a newspaper like this exists!
We cannot carry on our revolutionary activities among the masses in "unity" with such a newspaper.
I now come to the third part of my report. Having examined the experience of the mass working-class movement in Russia, which has confirmed the correctness of our line, I now propose to examine the experience of our opponents.
Our opponents, both the liquidators and groups abroad, such as Plekhanov's, like to apply to us the abusive term of "usurpers". They repeated this abuse in the columns of Vorwärts in March 1912. But Vorwärts did not give us an opportunity of replying! Let us see what political significance there is in the accusation that we are "usurpers".
I have already said that the 1912 Conference was convened by the Russian Organising Commission which was set up by the Party committees after the liquidators had wrecked the old Central Committee. We take credit for having re stored the illegal Party, and the majority of the workers of Russia have recognised this.
But let us assume for a moment that our numerous opponents (numerous in the opinion of the intellectualist groups and the Party groups living abroad) are right. Let us assume that we are "usurpers", "splitters", and so forth. In that case, would it not be natural to expect our opponents to prove, not merely with words, but by the experience of their activities and their unity, that we are wrong.
If we are wrong in asserting that the Party can only be built up by fighting the liquidationist groups, then should we not expect the groups and organisations which disagree with us to prove from the experience of their activities that unity with the liquidators is possible?
But the experience of our opponents shows this. In January 1912, our illegal Party was restored by our Conference, which was representative of the majority of organisations in Russia.
In March 1912, the following united in the columns of Vorwärts to abuse us:
What a lot of "trends" and "groups", one might think! How easy it should have been for them to set the workers of Russia a good example by their unity!
and the Vperyodists.
But when steps were taken to convene the "August" Conference of the liquidators, it was found that our opponents could not march in step.
Both the Poles and Plekhanov refused to attend the "August" Conference of the liquidators.
Because they could not agree even on the meaning of the term: membership in the Party!
And so, when Plekhanov's group or Rosa Luxemburg or anybody else, assure themselves and others that it is possible to unite with the liquidators, we answer: dear comrades, you just try yourselves to "unite" with the liquidators on a definition of Party membership, not in word, but in deed.
Further. The Vperyodists attended the August Conference, but afterwards walked out in protest and denounced it as a fiction.
Then, in February 1914, eighteen months after the "August Conference" of the liquidators, the Congress of the Lettish Party was held. The Letts had always been in favour of "unity". The Lettish workers had wanted to work with the liquidators and had proved this, not merely in word, but in deed, by experience.
And after eighteen months' experience, the Letts, while remaining strictly neutral, declared at their congress that they were withdrawing from the August bloc because:
—as the resolution of the Lettish Congress reads:
"The attempt by the conciliators to unite at all costs with the liquidators (the August Conference of 1912) proved fruitless, and the uniters themselves became ideologically and politically dependent upon the liquidators."
If anybody else wants to make the "experiment of uniting with the liquidators", let them do so. We, however, declare that until the liquidators definitely abandon their liquidationist line, unity with them is absolutely impossible.
Lastly, Trotsky's group, the Caucasians under their leader An, and a number of other liquidators ("Em-El", for example) have practically dropped out of the August bloc and founded their own journal, Borba. This journal has no connection with the workers whatsoever, but by its very existence, by its criticism of the liquidators' opportunism, by its breakaway from the liquidators, this journal, which belongs to the group of former liquidators, has proved in deed and by experience that unity with the liquidators is impossible.
Unity will be possible only when the liquidators are ready, once and for all, to abandon their entire tactics and cease to be liquidators.
I shall now proceed to formulate the precise and formal conditions for such "unity".
The following are the practical, concrete conditions, formulated by our Central Committee, which will make "unity" with the liquidators possible for our Party.
1. The Party resolutions on liquidationism, adopted in December 1908 and January 1910, shall be confirmed in the most emphatic and unreserved fashion, in application precisely to liquidationism.
In order that this confirmation may be accepted by all class-conscious workers in Russia as something really serious and final, and in order that no room may be left for any ambiguity, it shall be agreed that whoever opposes (especially in the legal press) the "underground", i. e., the illegal organisation, calls it a "corpse", declares it non existent, that its restoration is a reactionary utopia, and so forth, or, in general, deprecates the role and importance of the "underground", shall be deemed deserving of condemnation and shall not be tolerated in the ranks of the illegal R.S.D.L.P.
It shall be agreed that whoever opposes (especially in the legal press) the "advertising of the illegal press" shall be deemed deserving of condemnation and shall not be tolerated in the ranks of the illegal Party. Membership in the illegal Party shall be open only to those who sincerely devote all their efforts to promoting the development of the illegal press, the publication of illegal leaflets, and so forth.
It shall be agreed that whoever, in any form whatsoever, advocates the formation in present-day Russia of an "open" (i. e., legal) workers' party—for objectively such a party would be a tsarist-monarchist labour party—whoever proclaims the slogan of an "open party" or of "fighting" for such a party, shall be deemed deserving of condemnation and shall not be tolerated in the ranks of the illegal Party.
It shall be agreed that whoever, in any form whatsoever, opposes (especially in the legal press) revolutionary mass strikes (i. e., strikes which combine the economic and political struggle with revolutionary agitation) and opposes the organisation of revolutionary meetings and street demonstrations, shall be deemed, deserving of condemnation and shall not be tolerated in the ranks of the illegal Party. The banning of attacks against the revolutionary activities of the Party, which conducts strikes and demonstrations, shall also apply to condemnation, in the legal press, of the "strike craze" among the workers, or of "higher forms of the struggle" (=the legal pseudonym for demonstrations).
It shall be agreed that the journal Nasha Zarya and the newspaper Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta are guilty of such deviations from the Social-Democratic line towards "bourgeois influence".
2. It shall be agreed that whoever, in any form whatsoever, declares (especially in the legal press) that the slogans of a democratic republic and confiscation of the landed estates—slogans incorporated in our Party's programme and particularly urgent in present-day Russia, where the tsarist monarchy has reduced the tsar's formal recognition of the constitution to sheer mockery of the people—are useless, or of little use for agitation among the masses, shall, be deemed deserving of condemnation and shall not be tolerated in the ranks of the illegal Party.
It shall be agreed that whereas the liberal press is broad casting the idea of reformism, the idea that political freedom is compatible with the existence of the tsarist monarchy, and that the revolutionary overthrow of tsarism is unnecessary, harmful, and sinful—in view of this, agitation for a constitutional reform such as freedom of association must be conducted, and conducted on the widest possible scale, with a clear realisation, however, that the working class is hostile to the propaganda of the liberal reformists; and this agitation must be closely combined with the task of explaining and disseminating the slogan of a republic, as a slogan for the revolutionary onslaught of the masses against the tsarist monarchy.
3. It shall be agreed that it is absolutely impermissible and incompatible with membership in the Party for any section of our Party—the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party—to enter into a bloc or alliance with any other party.
It shall be agreed that the bloc of the Bund and the liquidators with the Left-wing of the P.S.P., a non-Social-Democratic party, against the will and without the consent of the Polish Social-Democrats, and without a decision by the Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., comes within the category of such prohibited blocs.
Deputy Jagiello, as a member of a non-Social-Democratic party, can be regarded only as being aligned with our Party group in the Duma, but not as a member of that group.
4. It shall be agreed that in every city and every locality there shall be only one united Social-Democratic organisation embracing workers of all nationalities, and conducting activities in all the languages spoken by the local proletariat.
The national-Jewish separatism of the Bund, which to this day, in spite of the decisions of the Stockholm Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. of 1906, which were reaffirmed by the Conference of December 1908, refuses to apply the principle of international unity among the Social-Democratic workers in the localities—a principle which has been applied with such outstanding success in the Caucasus since 1898—shall be condemned.
5. It shall be agreed that the demand for "cultural-national autonomy", which divides the workers according to nationality and is a refined form of nationalism—a demand that was rejected by a formal decision of the Second (1903) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.—contradicts the programme of the Party (as does also that pseudonym for cultural-national autonomy called "the establishment of institutions which will guarantee free national development").
All decisions by all local, national or special organisations of our Party (including the group in the Duma) that accept the principle of cultural-national autonomy shall be an nulled and their re-adoption without a decision of the Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. shall be considered incompatible with membership in the Party.
6. Social-Democratic workers of every shade of opinion shall forthwith be called upon by all Party organisations, and by all the Party's publications in all languages, immediately to bring about unity from below, i. e., to form local, illegal Social-Democratic units, organisations and centres, or to join such organisations where they already exist. In this connection, the principle of federation, or of equality for all "trends" shall be unreservedly rejected, and the only principle to be recognised shall be that of loyal submission of the minority to the majority. The number of financial contributions made by workers' groups to the newspapers of the various trends since 1913, as reported in the legal press, shall be taken as the most accurate though approximate index of the alignment of forces among the various trends in the working-class movement. Consequently, these figures shall be published in all Party publications, which shall advise all Social-Democrats in the localities to be guided by these figures in all practical steps they take, pending the next Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.
In the matter of defining Party membership, the sole criterion shall be membership in an illegal unit, group, or other organisation (local, factory, district organisation, or Social-Democratic group in some legal society), illegal activities in organising meetings, discussing Party decisions and distributing illegal literature.
All groups and "trends" shall immediately issue absolutely clear and definite illegal announcements about this.
7. The existence of two rival newspapers in the same town or locality shall be absolutely forbidden. The minority shall have the right to discuss before the whole Party, disagreements on programme, tactics and organisation in a discussion journal specially published for the purpose, but shall not have the right to publish, in a rival newspaper, pronouncements disruptive of the actions and decisions of the majority.
Inasmuch as the liquidators' newspaper in St. Petersburg, which is supported chiefly by bourgeois, not proletarian funds, is published contrary to the will of the acknowledged and indisputable majority of the class-conscious Social-Democratic workers in St. Petersburg, and causes extreme disorganisation by advocating disregard for the will of the majority, it shall be deemed necessary to close this newspaper immediately and to issue a discussion journal in its place.
8. The resolution of the Second Congress of 1903, as well as that of the London Congress of 1907, on the bourgeois-democratic character of the Narodnik trend in general, including the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, shall be most definitely and unreservedly confirmed.
Any blocs, alliances, or temporary agreements between any one section of the Social-Democrats and the Socialist-Revolutionaries (or Narodniks in general) against another section of the Social-Democrats, shall be absolutely prohibited.
The St. Petersburg liquidators, who even at their own "August Conference" proclaimed no new Social-Democratic line towards the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and have been entering into blocs and agreements with the Socialist- Revolutionaries against the overwhelming majority of the Social-Democratic workers in St. Petersburg, as was the case during the elections to the Insurance Boards, shall he definitely and unreservedly condemned.
A publicists' bloc shall be forbidden between outstanding liquidators and prominent Social-Democrats belonging to groups that defend the liquidators (Plekhanov, Trotsky, and others), and the Socialist-Revolutionaries who in their St. Petersburg journal Sovremennik assert that "the old cleavage, at all events, has disappeared" and that "it is impossible to tell where Marxism ends and Narodism begins". (Sovremennik No. 7, p. 76.)
Publicists who wish to become members of the Social Democratic Party, but who contribute to that journal for reasons other than the necessity of seeking a livelihood by writing for bourgeois publications, shall be called upon to withdraw from the journal and make a public announcement to this effect.
9. In view of the extreme disorganisation introduced into the working-class movement of Russia by various detached groups abroad, which act without a mandate from any Party organisation in Russia, and without any agreement with such an organisation, it shall be deemed necessary to pass and put into effect a resolution that all groups resident abroad shall without exception communicate with organisations operating in Russia only through the Central Committee of the Party.
Groups abroad which do not submit to the Russian centre of Social-Democratic activity, i. e., the Central Committee, and which cause disorganisation by communicating with Russia independently of the Central Committee, shall have no right to speak on behalf of the R.S.D.L.P.
A Social-Democratic discussion journal shall be founded abroad, with funds collected there, for the purpose of discussing from all angles and free of the censorship, questions concerning the programme, tactics and organisation.
The Party rule (Clause 3) that only "endorsed organisations of the Party have a right to publish Party literature" shall be reaffirmed and strictly applied.
10. The resolution unanimously adopted at the beginning of January 1908 by the London Central Committee shall be deemed absolutely binding on all Social-Democrats.
The resolution reads:
"more vigorous Social-Democratic activity in the trade union movement is prescribed by the entire present situation and must be carried on in keeping with the spirit of the London and Stuttgart resolutions, i. e., under no circumstances in the spirit of recognising the principle that trade unions are neutral or non-Party, but on the contrary, in the spirit of unswerving effort to establish the closest possible connection between the trade unions and the Social-Democratic Party."
It shall be agreed that attempts to conduct agitation in the trade unions against the illegal R.S.D.L.P. are incompatible with membership in the Party.
The liquidators shall undertake to refrain from calling for insubordination to the executives of the unions, to loyally submit to the Marxist majority of the unions, and under no circumstances form separatist duplicate unions.
The same shall apply to activities in all kinds of workers' societies—clubs and the like.
All Social-Democrats in every union, cultural and educational society and the like, shall join the illegal Social-Democratic unit in the respective organisation. The decisions of the illegal Party shall be binding on all such groups.
It shall be agreed that it is obligatory for all Social-Democrats to oppose the division of the trade unions according to nationality.
11. It shall be agreed that newspaper utterances against the representation elected by the St. Petersburg workers to the insurance bodies (the All-Russia Insurance Board, the Metropolitan Insurance Board, and so forth) and appeals for non-subordination to its direction, etc., must be forbidden. It shall be agreed that the insurance programme approved by this workers' representation is obligatory.
The journal Strakhovanie Rabochikh, which is a rival to the official organ of the workers' insurance representation (Voprosy Strakhovania) shall close down.
12. The Caucasian Social-Democrats must forbid agitation in favour of cultural-national autonomy, which has been rejected by the Programme of the R.S.D.L.P.
The Caucasian Social-Democrats shall undertake not to violate the principle of a united international organisation in every city, and under no circumstances adopt the principle, either in political or industrial organisations, of dividing workers according to nationality.
13. The six members of the Duma (the Chkheidze group), and also deputy Buryanov, must accept all the above conditions.
The Chkheidze group must declare from the Duma rostrum that, in conformity with the Programme of the Russian Social-Democrats, it withdraws its support of "cultural national autonomy" (and its pseudonym: "institutions" etc.).
The Chkheidze group must accept the leadership of the Party's Central Committee elected at the January Conference of 1912, and must recognise as binding all Party decisions, and also the Central Committee's right of veto.
Such are the terms on which the Central Committee of our Party considers unity possible, and on which it under takes to launch a campaign in favour of unity. We consider it utterly impossible to have any negotiations or contacts with the liquidators' group which publishes Nasha Zarya and Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, as long as it pursues its present tactics. As far as their political role in the working-class movement in Russia is concerned, we regard all the other groups, trends, factions and bodies which defend the liquidators or advocate unity or compromise with them, as fictions.
We declare that to feed the working class of Russia with verbal assurances and promises that unity with the liquidationist group is possible and easy, means rendering very bad service to the cause, and passing off phrases for reality.
We therefore make the following practical proposal.
A year ago, the question was raised in our Party of convening a Party congress. This was announced in the resolutions of the 1913 Summer Conference of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. The arrangements for convening this congress are now almost completed. In all probability, a congress of our Party will be held in the very near future, immediately after the Vienna Congress, or even while it is being held. Of course, we ask the comrades not to announce this or speak of it. If arrests are very numerous, perhaps a conference will be held instead of a congress.
Thus, while refraining from any steps towards a rapprochement with the liquidationist group or its defenders until the above terms are accepted and carried out, we propose that all groups, trends and factions, which—unlike us—hold that unity, or peace, or compromise with the present liquidationist group such as it is, is possible considering its present tactics, we propose that these groups should take the opportunity provided by the Vienna Congress to organise a joint formal discussion of our terms.
Let those who advocate peace or compromise with the liquidators not confine themselves to propaganda, but prove in deed that unity with the present liquidators is possible.
For our part, We shall be very glad if we are able to inform the representatives of four-fifths of the workers of Russia gathered at the congress or conference of our Party as to the outcome of the conference between all groups that defend the liquidators, and the liquidationist group.
14. In conclusion, I must touch upon one other point which, although very unpleasant, cannot be avoided if we are to have a sincere and frank exchange of opinion on the question of Social-Democratic unity in Russia.
The point is the following:
In their press, our opponents, the liquidators, are conducting a bitter personal campaign against several members of our Party, accusing them publicly and before the masses, of a host of dishonourable, despicable and criminal actions, or else reporting in their newspaper "rumours" about such actions. Our Party press replies to these attacks and, in the name of the Central Committee of our Party, plainly and definitely calls the liquidators—and especially their two leaders, Dan and Martov—slanderers.
It is not difficult to realise the degree of disorganisation and demoralisation the liquidators are spreading among the masses by this sort of "campaign", to which we shall always retaliate on the principle "à corsaire—corsaire et demi". We shall briefly quote four examples:
1. In 1911, L. Martov published in Paris a pamphlet entitled Saviours or Destroyers, devoted in the main to accusations against Lenin of having committed dishonourable and criminal acts; Martov sent a German translation of this pamphlet to Kautsky, who was then acting as arbiter in a controversial question affecting Russian Social-Democracy. In a letter to Lunacharsky (of the Vperyod group) Kautsky described Martov's pamphlet as "disgusting", and this opinion was published in the Russian Social-Democratic press by Plekhanov. The liquidators' newspaper is now beginning, in the form of insinuations, gradually to spread the contents of this pamphlet among the Russian public.
2. Since 1913 the liquidators' newspaper has been constantly accusing Dansky, a member of our Party and an insurance expert, of dishonesty. The pretext for these accusations is that Dansky works for an employers' organisation, thus serving the bourgeoisie. Our Party, as represented by a number of bodies (the editorial boards of Pravda and Prosveshcheniye, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group in the Duma, several trade unions, etc.), examined these accusations and found that Dansky had gradually given up working for the employers and was serving the working-class movement, beginning as anonymous contributor to Pravda. When Dansky definitely joined our Party he was requested, in conformity with the resolutions of our Party, to sever all connections with the employers' organisation. Dansky did so and gave up his job. On behalf of the Central Committee, I repeat that our Party regards this man as an honest comrade, and it will not permit anybody to besmirch his honour with impunity. Our press, in accusing the liquidators of slandering Dansky, pointed out that in this case the liquidators were particularly dishonest, because Martov himself constantly writes for a bourgeois newspaper under a different pseudonym (here I will fully reveal the fact: Yegorov, in Kievskaya Mysl); Yezhov, one of the closest collaborators of the liquidationist newspaper, was on the staff of an employers' association, as was, or is, also the case with Yermansky.
3. Malinovsky, a Duma member, suddenly left the Duma and resigned without giving any reason. Our workers called together their local and central leading bodies and sentenced Malinovsky to expulsion from the Party, describing his unexplained resignation without consultation with his colleagues as disruptive, and as desertion from his post. The liquidationist newspaper then began to publish anonymous rumours to the effect that Malinovsky was an agent provocateur, and demanded a joint investigation by the different groups. Our Central Committee declared that it vouched for Malinovsky, had investigated the rumours, and was convinced that Dan and Martov were indulging in base slander. The Central Committee rejected the proposal for a joint commission with the liquidators and, following on the opinion expressed by the representatives of ten trade unions in Moscow, denounced as slanderers those people who dared to publish in the press anonymous "rumours" about agents provocateurs, instead of submitting these rumours in an organised manner to our Central Committee, or to their own Central Committee (their "O. C."), to the Bund and to groups that trust the liquidators, to have them investigated by boards and responsible bodies. Burtsev declared that he did not believe the rumours. The Committee of Investigation set up by our Central Committee declared that it would publish the facts about those who were circulating these rumours. I can only add that these rumours were circulated by the liquidators.
4. Some days ago the liquidationist newspaper published an open letter from ex-member of the Second Duma Alexinsky, accusing Comrade Antonov, a member of our Party who had served a term of penal servitude, of being a traitor. But Comrade Antonov's conduct was pronounced unimpeachable both by a special committee consisting of comrades who had served sentence with him, as well as by a decision of the Central Committee of the Party adopted in 1907–08 in Finland, when the Mensheviks (i.e., the present liquidators) and all the "national organisations" were represented on the Central Committee. The answer given in our press is again tantamount to accusing Dan and Martov of spreading slander.
On instructions from the Central Committee, I must submit to the Executive Committee of the International Socialist Bureau the following practical proposal on this matter. We regard the liquidators' procedure as a specific method of political struggle used by people who have been expelled from the Party. We therefore harbour no hope that this matter can be "rectified" with the aid of moral precepts. But when bodies which screen the liquidators (the "0. C." and the Bund, for example, as well as Trotsky), and the numerous groups abroad (including Plekhanov) talk to us about "unity" with these liquidators, we make them the following proposal before the Executive Committee of the International Socialist Bureau:
let them declare openly and publicly, without equivocation, whether they approve or disapprove of the liquidators' "campaign" on all the four points enumerated (to which we are sure the liquidators will add another 44).
If they disapprove, let the workers of Russia know it.
If they approve, let all groups that offer us "unity" or compromise with the liquidators elect a joint commission and formulate a reasoned, business-like, and open charge of dishonest conduct against certain members of our Party. We shall submit this charge to our Party congress and invite representatives of this commission of all groups which defend the liquidators to attend our congress and produce their evidence.
We deem it our duty to declare that if this is not done, it will strengthen the opinion, already being expressed in the ranks of our Party, that all groups that advocate "unity" with the liquidators are tacitly supporting the slanderers.
In the name of the majority of the class-conscious workers of Russia, we shall defend the organisation of our Party from the disruptors, and we shall recognise no means of defence other than those we have applied, and which I have enumerated above (not to mention the bourgeois law court, to which we shall resort at the first opportunity).
The report I have been instructed to make on behalf of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party is finished. Permit me to sum up in two brief theses:
Formally, the situation is as follows. Our Party, which was restored at the January 1912 Conference in the teeth of the resistance from the liquidators' group, expelled that group. After this, after two-and-a-half years of the movement, the overwhelming majority of the class-conscious workers of Russia have approved of our Party line. We therefore have every reason to be convinced more firmly than ever that our line is correct, and we shall not depart from it. If the liquidators and the groups defending them want us to rescind the resolution expelling the liquidators from the Party, our Central Committee is prepared to submit a motion to that effect to our Party congress and to support it only on the terms I have mentioned.
Materially, i. e., in substance, the position is as follows. Russia is passing through a period of bourgeois revolutions, during which small and unstable groups of intellectuals are sometimes inclined to regard themselves as Social-Democrats, or to support the opportunist trend in the Social-Democratic movement, which our Party has been fighting against for the past twenty years (Economism in 1895–1902, Menshevism in 1903–08, and liquidationism in 1908–14). The experience of the August (1912) bloc of liquidators and its break-down have shown that the liquidators and their defenders are absolutely incapable of forming any kind of party or organisation. The genuine workers' Social-Democratic Party of Russia which, in spite of enormous difficulties, has already united eight-tenths of the class conscious workers (counting only Social-Democrats) or seven-tenths (counting Social-Democrats and Socialist Revolutionaries) can be built up, and is being built up, only in the struggle against these groups.
I. NOTES PRIVÉES
On the question as to the connection existing between the figures on whether the majority or the minority of workers follow the lead of the Pravdists, or rather, are themselves Pravdists, in Russia, and the question of "unity", it should be noted:
1. If a party or group definitely and concretely advances a programme or tactics with which our Party cannot agree in principle, then the question of a majority is of course of no significance. If, for example, the Socialist-Revolutionary Party (Left Narodniks), whose programme and tactics differ from ours, were to win over the majority of workers in Russia, that would not in the least induce us to depart from our line. The same applies to the straightforward and definite repudiation of the "underground" (=illegal Party) in present-day Russia.
However, certain Social-Democratic groups and some liquidators assert that there are no irreconcilable disagreements on principle between us. We are obliged to point out their inconsistency to these groups and individuals, when they refuse to submit to the majority.
2. We have been convinced of the correctness of our line on tactics and organisation primarily by our long years of acquaintance with the workers' Social-Democratic movement in Russia, and by our participation in it, as well as by our theoretical Marxist convictions. But we are of the opinion that the practical experience of the mass working-class movement is no less important than theory, and that this experience alone can serve as a serious test of our principles. "Theory, my friend, is grey, but the tree of life is eternally green" (Faust). Therefore, the fact that, after two-and-a-half years of struggle against liquidationism and its allies, four-fifths of the class-conscious workers have expressed them selves in favour of Pravdism, strengthens our conviction that our line is correct and makes this conviction unshakable.
3. In Russia, nearly every group, or "faction" (to use the old terminology), accuses the other of being not a workers' group, but a bourgeois intellectualist group. We consider this accusation or rather argument, this reference to the social significance of a particular group, extremely important in principle. But precisely because we consider it extremely important, we deem it our duty not to make sweeping statements about the social significance of other groups, but to back our statements with objective facts. For the objective facts prove absolutely and irrefutably that Pravdism alone is a workers' trend in Russia, whereas liquidationism and Socialist-Revolutionism are in fact bourgeois intellectualist trends.
II. NOTES PRIVÉES
Should an attempt be made (whether by any member of the International Socialist Bureau, or by our opponents) to "dismiss" or set aside the evidence, the objective proofs, that we are the majority, then be sure to ask for the floor so as to make a formal statement on behalf of the entire delegation and enter a formal protest of the following nature:
We categorically protest against the statement (or hints, inferences, etc.) that our objective evidence as to the side which the overwhelming majority of the class-conscious workers of Russia are supporting, cannot be examined by the Executive Committee on the grounds that it has not verified them (or on the grounds that they are irrelevant to the question of unity). On the contrary, we consider that it is in the indubitable interest of the entire International, and in accordance with the will of the International Socialist Bureau, as clearly expressed in the resolution of the I.S.B. (December 1913), to receive the fullest, most precise, and documented information on the actual state of the working-class movement in Russia.
We are of the opinion that our opponents, who are aware of the December decision of the I.S.B., have failed to per form their duty in not yet having independently collected objective data on the working-class movement in Russia.
We declare that after Comrade Vandervelde's successful visit to Russia, there cannot be the slightest doubt that the Executive Committee of the I.S.B. could, through Comrade Vandervelde, quite legally have addressed an open letter to the editors of all the working-class (or would-be working-class) newspapers in Russia, and to all the members of the executives of all the legal workers' societies in Russia, for the purpose of obtaining from direct sources data showing how the class-conscious workers of Russia are divided into Pravdists, liquidators, Socialist-Revolutionaries (Left Narodniks), and other trends.
Without such objective data, the subjective statements of the representatives of individual "groups" are entirely worthless.
III. NOT FOR THE REPORT
Judging from certain fragmentary statements by the liquidators at the Lettish Congress and from hints in the press, one of the fraudulent plans for "unity" they propose is that of a "general congress".
This plan, whose obvious object is to dupe credulous foreigners, is roughly as follows: either set up a "federated" organising committee for the purpose of convening a general congress, or "supplement" the Central Committee of our Party with representatives of one of the liquidationist organisations for the purpose of convening this congress.
In whatever the form it is presented, this plan is wholly unacceptable to us, and if it nevertheless comes up at the "conference" in Brussels, our delegation of the Central Committee must declare the following:
It is absolutely impossible for us to take any step towards a general congress or federation, or even towards the slightest rapprochement, until the liquidators' group complies with the terms we propose. For unless that group fulfils these terms, it will be impossible for us to place the slightest confidence in the liquidators' group which has been expelled from the Party, and, in its paper, is daily continuing its disruptive activities.
If we placed any confidence in this group, it would encourage it to continue its disruptive work: On the basis of decisions of our congresses, conferences and our Central Committee, we demand the cessation of these activities of the liquidators as a conditio sine qua non of "peace".
The fact that the liquidators are shielded by groups or organisations which have not been formally expelled from the Party (for example, the Bund, or the Caucasian Regional Bureau, or the six deputies, etc.) does not in the least alter the case. As far as work in Russia is concerned, only one thing really matters, i. e., that this group of liquidators and their newspaper advocate flouting the will of the majority.
Let the Bund, Chkheidze's six deputies and the others—or the Caucasian Regional Committee, or Trotsky, or the O.C., or anybody else who desires rapprochement with us, first of all induce the liquidators' group to accept our terms, or else emphatically condemn it and break with it. Unless this is done, we cannot take the slightest step that might in any way indicate confidence in the liquidators' group.
Let those who really want to see Russian Social-Democracy united harbour no illusions and yield to no subjective assurances, promises and the like. There is one and only one way to unity, and that is to induce the minority which has left the illegal Party and is trying to thwart and disrupt its activities and the will of the majority, to abandon its present practices and prove in deed that it is willing to respect the will of the majority.
No direct or indirect encouragement of the liquidators' group in its present conduct, or attempts to inspire it with hopes of the possibility of "federation", "conciliation", a "general congress", "rapprochement", or the like with that group, as long as it continues its present activities and refuses to submit in deed to the will of the majority, will lead to anything. The Party of the Social-Democratic workers in Russia, which unites four-fifths of the class-conscious workers, will not allow its will to be thwarted.
Let those groups or bodies which "assure" themselves and others that the liquidators are not so bad (the Bund, the O.C., the Caucasian Regional Committee) realise that we want not words but deeds. If they trust the liquidators, let them organise their own congress with them, submit our terms to that congress, and induce the liquidators to give a favourable reply to these terms and faithfully carry them out. We shall wait and see the results; we shall wait and see their actions; we shall not believe promises.
Only after our terms have been faithfully complied with will a general congress, and steps towards it, be possible.
Our foreign socialist comrades are sometimes most sadly mistaken when they think that the cause of unity can be promoted by inspiring the liquidators with the hope that we will agree to co-operate with them even if they do not completely and radically change their conduct, and even if they do not submit to the will of the majority. Objectively, such tactics amount to helping, not the cause of unity, but the splitters.
Our terms constitute a draft of a pacte d'unité, and until this pact is signed by the liquidators and until they have carried it out in practice, there can be no talk of taking any steps towards a rapprochement.
Re the demonstration of 4.4. 1914. 1) I have ordered from St. Petersburg (in Popov's name) issue No. 18 of Stoikaya Mysl (Socialist-Revolutionary) and bourgeois papers for 4--5.4.1914. If it arrives it should be used to supplement the documents of the report.
We do not assert that the liquidators never issued leaflets. They had one in May 1913 (the Vienna leaflet); in 1914, the St. Petersburg people say, they had none. They are said to have had one about the strike.
But 4.4. 1914 is a typical case of the wrecking of illegal work.
If Plekhanov or Rubanovich wish to ask publicly whether we vote for their attendance, I would reply: "We would vote against, because Rubanovich is not a Social-Democrat, and Plekhanov does not represent anything in Russia. But since our report contains a direct attack on Plekhanov's group and Rubanovich's trend, we do not wish to vote against, and shall abstain.
Guarantees for the minority?—we may be asked.
"No, we can discuss no guarantees whatever either with the group of liquidators expelled from the Party, or concerning that group. We ourselves demand guarantees from the liquidators and their friends."
N.B. The general spirit of our terms: fight against departures from the old, against a swing towards a new party. Nous ne marchons pas! Cf. Axelrod on "party reform, or rather on a party = revolution".
N.B. ||| A person who writes like this is ridiculous, if he complains about a split!
Is an "All-Russia S.D.L.P." legitimate without the non-Russian nationalities?
It is, because it was an All-Russia party from 1898 to 1903 without the Poles and Letts, and from 1903 to 1906 without the Poles, Letts and the Bund!
We did not exclude the non-Russian nationalities. They themselves left on account of the liquidators. Tant pis pour eux!
Fight with all our might to have the Conference Minutes published. Submit a written protest in the event of refusal (in case of a general refusal, demand that our resolutions be published—we shall publish them in any case—as well as counter-resolutions (the Executive Committee may eliminate personal attacks)).
We have one aim—to make the liquidators+Bund+P.S.P.+Plekhanov formulate counter-resolutions and counter-proposals. As for us, we agree to nothing, and walk out, promising to submit the "counter-proposals" of our dear comrades to our congress.
The most important thing is to emphasise (best of all in a reply) that our "terms" were in the main published long ago by the workers. I am sending Popov the appropriate issues of Pravda.
What procedure is desirable, from our point of view, for the conference in Brussels?
First, ,the reports of all organisations and groups—this will take up a fairly long time. Then brief comments followed by a formulation of concrete proposals made by all organisations and groups.
When all the participants at the conference have formulated their concrete proposals, each of them should express his opinion whether he considers these proposals a basis for possible further steps towards a rapprochement or talks on rapprochement, or, if he considers that impossible, he will submit all the proposals to his organisation.
Clearly, we, in any case, shall not accept the proposals of the liquidators, the Bund, Rosa and Plekhanov (as well as of Kautsky and Vandervelde), and shall submit them to our congress or conference.
Our task is only to make our terms clear, make a note of "their" terms, and walk out.
Are not our terms in the nature of an ultimatum?—we may be asked. They are not. We shall see what counter proposals are made to us before saying whether we agree to continued talks on this basis or not (we should let everyone have his say, ask everyone for counter-proposals on all questions, and go away. Voilà notre programme!
Should Polish affairs be kept apart from Russian? I think we ought to be opposed to separation. We shall consult our Polish comrade on this.
Obviously, people will go out of their way to attack us for our "monstrous" demands. We should calmly refer to the resolutions of our conferences and meetings and the resolutions on unity adopted by the St. Petersburg, Moscow, Caucasian and other comrades. I shall send a collection of them. We sum up the opinions of our organisations. If any body chooses to disregard them, that is their business. Nous n'y pouvons rien.
According to the liquidators' newspaper, Vandervelde threw out a feeler in St. Petersburg as to whether we would agree to the Executive Committee acting, not as mediator but as arbiter, that is, as supreme "judge" in our disagreements.
The answer is this. When Bebel proposed this in 1905 our congress rejected it with thanks, declaring that we were an autonomous party. I think today our congress will give the same reply. (Such, at any rate, is the opinion of the Central Committee.)
On "slanderous" affairs "they" will probably propose a general withdrawal of all accusations. Ask this to be put to the vote! We are against. We shall submit their proposal to our congress. (They will be in a proper mess if they make and carry through such a proposal.) [[We do not equate the guilt of a spreader of slander with the conduct of a person who has called a slanderer a slanderer.]]
Generally speaking, there is no doubt that "they" will all seek "half-way" and "conciliatory" formulas. We shall point out that this attempt was made with regard to us in January 1910 and with regard to the Letts in August 1912, and we shall not repeat it. Let the conference divide into two clear camps: those who consider rapprochement with the present liquidators possible, and those who turn down the idea of rapprochement unless the liquidators radically change their tactics and behaviour.
"Conciliatory" formulas should be carefully recorded (this is most important), then slightly criticised, and——everything rejected.
See pp. 209–12 of this volume.—Ed.
In their newspaper (Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta No. 34, for June 13, 1914) the liquidators estimate the relative proportion of Pravdists and liquidators in St. Petersburg at 72 per cent and 28 per cent respectively. This queer calculation is based, not on the number of workers' groups, but on the sum of money collected from both workers and bourgeois, so that 10,000 workers who contribute 10 kopeks each are equivalent to one bourgeois who has contributed 1,000 rubles. In fact, between January 1 and May 13, 1914, the Pravdists received 2,024 contributions from workers' groups in St. Petersburg, while the liquidators received 308, making the percentages 86 and 14 respectively. —Lenin
The London Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., 1907. —Lenin
The International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart, 1907. —Lenin
See pp. 509–13 of this volume.—Ed.
See present edition, Vol. 18, pp. 177–88.—Ed.
Report of the C. C. of the R. S. D. L. P. exists in the shape of two (incomplete) manuscripts, one of them Lenin's, the other a handwritten copy made by N. K. Krupskaya's mother, Y. V. Krupskaya, with corrections by Lenin. Other existing manuscripts are Lenin's instructions to the C. C. delegation to the conference, namely, "Notes Privies", notes "Not for the Report" and letters on this question. These documents illustrate Lenin's struggle against Russian and international opportunism. The Report marks an epoch in the development of Bolshevism in the period of reaction and the years of a new revolutionary upswing.
Concerned about the victory of the Bolsheviks over all the opportunist trends and groups in the Russian working-class movement, the leadership of the Second International hastened to the assistance of these trends and groups. With this aim in view the Brussels Conference was convened, ostensibly "to exchange opinions" on the question of the possibility of restoring unity in the R.S.D.L.P. Under the guise of establishing "peace" within the R.S.D.L.P., the leaders of the International planned the liquidation of the independent Bolshevik Party, a party of a new type, which was conducting an irreconcilable struggle against opportunism in the Russian and international labour movement.
The Brussels "Unity" Conference, convened by the Executive Committee of the I.S.B. in accordance with the December 1913 decision of the Bureau's meeting, was held on July 16–18, 1914. The following were represented at the Conference: the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. (Bolsheviks); the Organising Committee (Mensheviks) and its affiliated organisations (the Caucasian Regional Committee and the Borba group (Trotskyists)); the Duma Social-Democratic group (Mensheviks); Plekhanov's Yedinstvo group; the Vperyod group; the Bund; the Social-Democrats of the Lettish Region; the Social-Democrats of Lithuania; the Polish Social-Democrats; the Polish Social-Democratic opposition; and the P.S.P. (Left wing).
The C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. sent a delegation to the Conference, consisting of Inessa Armand (Petrova), M. F. Vladimirsky (Kamsky), and I. F. Popov (Pavlov). Lenin thoroughly prepared the delegation of the C.C. for the Conference. He wrote for it the Report and detailed instructions, and supplied it with the necessary materials, documents and factual data revealing the Russian opportunists and their inspirers in their true colours.
Lenin was in the closest touch with the delegation, whose work he directed from Poronin.
From the very outset the Conference was marked by a very sharp struggle of the Bolsheviks against the Russian and inter national opportunists.
At Kautsky's proposal the Conference adopted the following agenda: = 1. Programmatic differences; = 2. Tactical differences; = 3. The organisational question. Although the Conference was to have been confined only to an exchange of opinions, Vandervelde warned the delegates that the Conference would adopt decisions on all three items of the agenda. On Lenin's instructions the C. C.'s delegation proposed that the Conference should hear reports by the delegations and the concrete terms which each of them considered essential for unity. Because of the Bolsheviks' persistence it was decided to waive the agenda and proceed to the reports on the questions at issue, and to the formulation by the delegations of concrete conditions for unity.
The highlight of the Conference was the Report of the C. C. of the R.S.D.L.P., as written by Lenin, Which was read by Inessa Armand in French at the morning session on July 17. The leaders of the I.S.B. did not allow the full text of the Report to be read so that Armand was obliged to set forth only part of it and proceed to the terms for unity. As formulated by Lenin these terms met with indignant protests from the opportunists, Plekhanov declaring that these were not terms for unity, "but articles of a new criminal code". Martov, Alexinsky, Yonov, Semkovsky and others shouted that the report of the C. C. characterised the "intolerance of the Leninists", that "the Leninists had no right to call themselves 'Bolsheviks'\thinspace", that the "terms" were "a mockery of the International", and so on.
On behalf of the I.S.B., Kautsky proposed a resolution for the unification of the R.S.D.L.P. which affirmed that within Russian Social-Democracy there were no essential disagreements standing in the way of unity. Kautsky was supported by the Organising Committee and by Plekhanov, who violently attacked the C.C. and Lenin. Rosa Luxemburg took an erroneous stand by joining Plekhanov, Vandervelde, Kautsky and others in advocating unity between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Since the Conference was not authorised to pass resolutions, the Bolsheviks and the Lettish Social-Democrats refused to take part in the voting, but the resolution of the I.S.B, was carried by a majority. The Polish opposition, which joined the Bolsheviks and Lettish Social-Democrats at the Conference, voted for the resolution of the I.S.B.
Guided by Lenin, the Bolsheviks refused to accept the decisions of the Brussels Conference. The attempt by the Second International's opportunist leaders to liquidate the Bolshevik Party met with failure. In the sight of the international proletariat, Lenin and the Bolsheviks exposed the true aims of the leaders of the International, who wore the mask of peacemakers. For their capable and vigorous defence of the Party line, the Central Committee passed a vote of thanks to the C. C. delegation at the Brussels Conference.
At a private meeting of the liquidators, Trotskyists, Vperyodists, Plekhanovites, Bundists and representatives of the Caucasian Regional organisation held after the Brussels Conference, these groups formed a bloc against the Bolsheviks. The Brussels ("Third of July") bloc served as a hypocritical screen concealing the politically rotten position of all its participants. The bloc shortly afterwards fell apart, showing how false the policy of the Russian and West-European "uniters" of the R.S.D.L.P. was.
The Anti-Socialist Law was introduced in Germany in 1878 by the Bismarck government with the object of combating the labour and socialist movement. The law banned all Social-Democratic Party and mass working-class organisations, and the labour press; socialist literature was confiscated, and Social-Democrats were hounded and deported. These repressions, however, did not break the Social-Democratic Party, which readjusted its activities to the conditions of illegal existence: the Party's central organ Sozial-Demokrat was published abroad and Party congresses were held regularly there (1880, 1883, and 1887); in Germany, Social-Democratic underground organisations and groups headed by an illegal Central Committee were rapidly restored. Simultaneously, the Party made wide use of legal opportunities to strengthen contact with the masses, and its influence steadily grew. The number of votes cast for the Social-Democrats in the Reichstag elections increased more than threefold between 1878 and 1890. Tremendous assistance to the German Social-Democrats was given by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The Anti-Socialist Law was repealed in 1890 as a result of pressure from the mounting mass labour movement.
"Trusted agents"—leading workers chosen to maintain constant contact between the C. C. and the local Social-Democratic groups, and create flexible forms of leadership for local activities in the large centres of the labour movement.
The task of establishing a system of trusted agents was set by the Cracow Conference of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1913.
The Technical Commission of the Bureau Abroad of the Central Committee (the Technical Commission Abroad—T. C.) was set up by the June Conference of members of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. at its sitting of June 1 (14), 1911, with the aim of carrying out technical functions in connection with Party publications, transport, etc. As a temporary body pending the plenary session of the C. C., the Technical Commission was subordinated to a group of C. C. members who had attended the June Conference. The T. C. consisted of one representative each from the Bolsheviks, the conciliators, and the Polish Social-Democrats. The conciliator majority on the T. C., namely, M. K. Vladimirov, supported by V. L. Leder, held up the payment of money to the Organising Commission Abroad or the Party Conference Convocation Fund as well as appropriations for the publication of the Bolshevik newspaper Zvezda. They tried to hold up the publication of the Party's Central Organ—the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat. In their organ—Information Bulletin—the T. C. attacked Lenin and the Bolsheviks. During the discussion of the "Report" and resolutions of the Russian Organising Commission at the meeting of the T. C. on October 19 (November 1) the Bolshevik representative M. F. Vladimirsky moved a resolution accepting decisions of the Russian Organising Commission, but his proposal was rejected. Vladimirsky walked out of the Commission, and the Bolsheviks broke off all contacts with it.
Russian Organising Commission (R.O.C.) for convening the All-Russia Party Conference was set up in accordance with the decision of the June 1911 Conference of members of the R.S.D.L.P.'s Central Committee. It was constituted at the end of September at a meeting of representatives of the local Party organisations, and functioned until the opening of the Sixth (Prague), All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.
Lenin is referring to the resolution of the "February" 1913 meeting of the C. C. of the R.S.D.L.P.: "The Revolutionary Upswing, Strikes and Tasks of the Party", published in the pamphlet Report and Resolutions of the Meeting of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. with Party Workers. February 1913. Published by the C. C. of the R.S.D.L.P.
The reference is to the shooting down of unarmed workers by the tsarist troops at the Lena gold-fields in Siberia on April 4 (17), 1912.
The Social-Democratic Bolshevik organisations in the Caucasus were set up on the basis of internationalism, uniting within their ranks the advanced proletarians of different nationalities. Lenin thought very highly of the activities of the Bolshevik organisations in the Caucasus, and repeatedly held them up as an example of unity among the workers of all nations.
Strakhovanie Rabochikh (Workers' Insurance)—a journal of the Menshevik liquidators, published in St. Petersburg from 1912 to 1918.
On behalf of the German Social-Democratic Party Executive A. Bebel wrote a letter to Lenin in February 1905, offering himself as arbiter between the supporters of the Menshevik Iskra and the Bolshevik newspaper Vperyod. Lenin replied = "that neither he nor any other Vperyod supporters within his knowledge had the right to take any action binding upon the whole Party, and that Bebel's proposal would therefore have to be submitted to the Party Congress that was being called by the Russian Bureau". (See present edition, Vol. 8, p. 178.) The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. rejected Bebel's offer.
Written: Written June 23–30 (July 6–13), 1914|
Published: First published in 1929 in the second and third editions of Lenin's Collected Works, Vol. XVII.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 495-535.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Joe Fineberg
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