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V. I. Lenin

Lost in a Wood of Three Trees

The first issue of the Bund Bulletin[3] (September 1916) contains a letter from a St. Petersburg Bundist dated February 26, 1916. He writes:

"Our difficulty in accepting the defence formula is greatly aggravated by the fact that we, of all people, cannot hush up the Polish question, as our Russian comrades have so far been doing." (Don't forget that this gentleman's "comrades" are Potresov[4] and Co.) "And the fact that even the defencists among us do not want to apply the ‘no annexations' formula in relation to Russia is a strong argument against defence in the eyes of those who are not at present prepared to accept it psychologically. For they ask, ironically: What are you defending? The idea of an independent Poland enjoys recognition in top circles" (which circles is not clear).

When we stated, in our 1915 resolution, that Germanophile chauvinism predominates in the Bund,[1] the only reply Kosovsky and Co. could give was abuse. Now our statement is corroborated in their own journal, and by their own party colleague! For, if the Bund "defencists" do not wish to apply the "no annexations" formula "in relation to Russia" (note that there is not a word about Germany!), then how does this differ, in substance, from Germanophile chauvinism?

If the Bundists wanted to think, and could do so, they would realise that on the question of annexations they are wandering in the dark. There is only one way out of their wanderings and confusion: accept the programme we expounded as early as 1913.[2] Namely, that a conscientious and forthright anti-annexation policy requires that socialists and democrats of the oppressed nations, in all their propaganda and agitation, denounce as scoundrels those socialists of the oppressor nations (whether Great Russians or Germans, Poles in relation to the Ukrainians, etc.) who do not consistently and unreservedly stand for free secession of nations oppressed by their own nation (or forcibly held by it).

If the Bundists refuse to accept that conclusion, then it is only out of reluctance to quarrel with the Potresovs in Russia, the Legiens, Südekums, even the Ledebours (Ledebour does not favour the secession of Alsace-Lorraine) in Germany, with the nationalists, or to be more correct, the social-chauvinists, in Poland, etc.

What a valid reason!


[1] See present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 163 - 64.—Ed.

[2] See present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 539 - 45.—Ed.

[3] Bund (General Jewish Workers' Union of Lithuania, Poland and Russia) was composed mainly of semi-proletarian elements, Jewish artisans in Russia's Western areas. Was a vehicle of nationalism and separatism in the labour movement.

Bulletin of the Bund Committee Abroad, successor to the Information Letter of the Bund Organisation Abroad, published in Geneva. Two issues appeared, in September and December 1916. Followed a social-chauvinist policy. The "Letter from Russia" here quoted by Lenin appeared in No. 1 of the Bulletin and is analysed in more detail in Lenin's article "The Chkheidze Faction and Its Role" (see pp. 171–74 of this volume).

[4] Potresov, A. N. (1869–1934)—prominent Menshevik leader and theoretician of liquidationism. Played a leading part in the magazines Vozrozhdeniye (Regeneration), Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn) and other publications of the Menshevik liquidators. Took a social-chauvinist stand in the First World War.

Written: Written September-October 1916
Published: First published in 1931 in Lenin Miscellany XVII.
Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 23, pages 88-89.
Translated: M. S. Levin, The Late Joe Fineberg and and Others

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