Announcement on the Publication of Rabochaya Gazeta
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 16, pages 287-295.
Rabochaya Gazeta (Workers’ Gazette)—a popular newspaper, the organ of the Bolsheviks, published in Paris from October 30 (November 12), 1910 to July 30 (August 12), 1912; nine issues appeared. Pro-Party Mensheviks also contributed to the newspaper. Its founder and leader was Lenin, who published more than 10 articles in it. The Prague Conference of the RSDLP (January 1912) noted that Rabochaya Gazeta resolutely and consistently defended the Party and the Party principle and made It the official organ of the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolsheviks).
The deep crisis of the workers’ movement and the Social-Democratic Party in Russia still continues. Disintegration of the Party organisations, an almost universal exodus of the intellectuals from them, confusion and wavering among the Social-Democrats who have remained loyal, dejection and apathy among fairly wide sections of the advanced proletariat, uncertainty as to the way out of this situation—such are the distinguishing features of the present position. Among the Social-Democrats there are not a few who are faint-hearted and of little faith, who are ready to despair of finding their bearings in the prevailing confusion, to despair of restoring and strengthening the Party, the RSDLP, with its revolutionary aims and traditions, who are ready to stand aloof and to isolate themselves in narrow, petty circles concerned only with “cultural” work and so forth.
The crisis continues, but its end is already clearly visible, the way out has been fully indicated and tested by the Party, the confusion and wavering has already been channelled into fairly definite tendencies, trends and factions, a very clear-cut appraisal of which has been made by the Party—while the assumption of definite shape by the anti-Party tendencies and the clear appraisal of them are already half-way towards getting rid of confusion and wavering.
In order not to give way to despair and disillusion it is necessary only to understand the full depth of the sources of the crisis. One cannot skip over or avoid this crisis, one can only survive it by means of persistent struggle, for it is not accidental but engendered by the special stage of both the economic and the political development of Russia. The autocracy reigns as before. Violence is still more brutal. Tyranny is still more powerful. Economic oppression is still more brazen. But the autocracy can no longer maintain itself merely by the old methods. It is compelled to make a new attempt, an attempt at an open alliance with the Black-Hundred feudal landlords and the Octobrist capitalists, an alliance in the Duma and through the Duma. The hopelessness of this attempt and the growth of a new revolutionary crisis are obvious to anyone who is still capable of thought. But this revolutionary crisis is being prepared in a new situation, in which classes and parties are marked by immeasurably greater consciousness, solidarity and organisation than before the Revolution of 1905. Russian liberalism has been converted from a well-meaning, dreamy, fragile and immature opposition of benevolent aspirations into a strong, parliamentarily-disciplined party of bourgeois intellectuals, who are conscious enemies of the socialist proletariat and of a revolutionary settlement of accounts with the feudal landlords by the peasant masses. To beg for concessions from the monarchy, to threaten it with revolution (hateful and terrifying to the liberals themselves), continually to betray the struggle for emancipation and desert to the enemy—such is the inevitable lot of the liberal, Constitutional-Democratic Party, inevitable owing to its class nature. The Russian peasantry has shown its capacity for mass revolutionary struggle if the latter is launched by the proletariat, and its capacity for perpetually vacillating between the liberals and the Social-Democrats. The Russian working class bas shown that it is the only class that is revolutionary to the end, the only leader in the struggle for freedom, even for bourgeois freedom. And now the great task of continuing the struggle for freedom can and will be accomplished only by the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat, drawing with it the working and exploited masses. Operating in the new situation, among more conscious and united enemies, the working class must refashion also its own Party, the RSDLP In place of leaders from the intelligentsia it is bringing to the fore leaders from among the workers. A new type of working-class member of the Social-Democratic Party is arising, independently carrying on all the activities of the Party and, compared with the previous type, capable of rallying, uniting and organising masses of the proletariat ten times and a hundred times as great as before.
It is to this new worker in the first place that we address our Rabochaya Gazeta. This worker has grown out of the stage of wanting to be talked to in childish language or fed with pap. He needs to know all about the political aims of the Party, how it is built, its inner-Party struggle. He is not daunted by the unvarnished truth about the Party on whose strengthening, revival and rebuilding he is engaged. He is not helped, but rather harmed, by those revolutionary phrases in general terms and those sugary conciliatory appeals which he finds in the symposia of Vperyod or in Trotsky’s newspaper Pravda, without obtaining from either the one or the other a clear, precise, straightforward exposition of the Party’s policy and the Party’s position.
The Party’s position is a very difficult one, but the chief difficulty is not that the Party has been terribly weakened and its organisations often completely shattered, nor that inner-Party factional struggle has become acute, but that the advanced section of Social-Democratic workers has not realised clearly enough the nature and significance of this struggle, has not rallied sufficiently for waging it successfully, has not intervened, in it with sufficient independence and energy for creating, supporting and consolidating that core of the Party which is leading the RSDLP from disorder, collapse and wavering on to a solidly based road.
This road has been fully pointed out by the decisions of the December Conference of 1908, which were further developed in the decisions of the plenary session of the Central Committee in 1910. This Party core consists of that union of orthodox Bolsheviks (opponents of otzovism and bourgeois philosophy) and pro-Party Mensheviks (opponents of liquidationism) which at the present time is carrying out in practice, and not by virtue of a merely formal attitude, the main work of the RSDLP
The workers are being told that this union only intensifies and accentuates factional struggle, a struggle against the liquidators and otzovists “instead of” a fight against liquidationism and otzovism. This is sheer phrase-mongering, mere childish talk that assumes the worker is not an adult but a child. It is an unpleasant truth that, given the weakness of the Party, the shattered state of its organisations and the inevitability of a base abroad, every trend easily becomes a faction abroad that is virtually independent of the Party, but it is ludicrous (or criminal) to hide this truth from the Social-Democratic worker who has to rebuild his Party on the basis of a definite, precise and clear Party line. There is no doubt that the most undesirable forms of factional struggle prevail among us at present, but precisely in order to refashion the forms of this struggle the advanced worker should not dismiss with a phrase or contemptuously turn up his nose at the unpleasant (unpleasant for a dilettante, a guest in the Party) task of refashioning unpleasant forms of unpleasant struggle, but should understand the essence and significance of this struggle and arrange the work in the localities in such a way that for each question of socialist propaganda, political agitation, the trade union movement, co-operative work, etc., etc., the boundary is defined beyond which begins the deviation from Social-Democracy to liberal liquidationism or semi-anarchist otzovism, ultimatumism, etc., and should conduct Party affairs along the correct line defined by these boundaries. We make it one of the main tasks of Rabochaya Gazeta to help the workers to fix these boundaries for each of the most important concrete problems of contemporary Russian life.
The workers are being told: it was the attempt at unity made by the plenary session of the Central Committee in January 1910, which proved the sterility and hopelessness of the inner-Party factional struggle that “disrupted” unity. People who talk like that are either uninformed or quite incapable of thought, or they are concealing their real aims by means of some sort of resonant phrases that sound well but mean nothing. The plenary session “disillusioned” only those who were afraid to face the truth and buoyed themselves up with illusions. However great at times the “conciliatory hotchpotch” at the plenum, the outcome was exactly that unity which alone is possible and necessary. If the liquidators and otzovists signed the resolution on the fight against liquidationism and otzovism, and the next day still more “zealously” stuck to the past, this only proved how impossible it is for the Party to count on non-Party elements, it only showed more clearly what these elements are like. The Party is a voluntary association and unity is possible and useful only when people unite who are desirous and capable of carrying out a common Party policy with at least some degree of conscientiousness, or rather: who are interested (through their ideas or tendencies) in carrying out a common Party policy. Unity is impossible and harmful when it attempts to muddle and obscure the consciousness of this policy, when it attempts to bind by a fictitious tie those who are definitely pulling the Party in an anti-Party direction. And unity between the main groups of Bolshevism and Menshevism was achieved by the plenum and consolidated, if not thanks to the plenum, at least through the plenum.
A worker who does not want to be spoken to in childish tones cannot fail to understand that liquidationism and otzovism are just as much non-accidental, deep-rooted trends as Bolshevism and Menshevism. Only inventors of fairy-tales “for workers” explain the difference between these two last factions as due to disputes between “intellectuals”. In reality these two trends, which have left their mark on the whole history of the Russian revolution, on all the first years (in many respects the most important years) of the mass workers’ movement in Russia, were produced by the very process of the economic and political reconstruction of Russia from a feudal into a bourgeois country, were produced by the influences exerted on the proletariat by various bourgeois classes, or, more correctly, were produced by the situation of various strata of the bourgeoisie within which the proletariat acted. It follows that Social-Democratic unity in Russia is not possible through the destruction of one of the two trends which took shape in the period of the most open, most extensive, mass, free and historically important actions of the working class during the revolution. But it follows also that the foundations for a real rapprochement between the two factions are not to be found in well-meaning phrases about unity, about the abolition of factions, etc., but only in the internal development of the factions. It is such a rapprochement that the party of the working class has been experiencing since we Bolsheviks in the spring of 1909 finally “buried” otzovism, while the pro-Party Mensheviks, headed by Plekhanov, began a no less determined struggle against liquidationism. There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the class-conscious workers of both factions side with the opponents of otzovism and liquidationism. Therefore, however harsh the inner-Party struggle on this basis, a struggle which is at times difficult and always unpleasant, we must not forget the essence of the phenomenon on account of its form. He who does not see underlying this struggle (which in the present state of the Party inevitably takes the form of a struggle of factions) the process of the consolidation of a, basic Party core of class-conscious Social-Democratic workers is like one who fails to see the wood for the trees.
It is the aims of such a consolidation of a genuine Social-Democratic core that will be served also by Rabochaya Gazeta, which we Bolsheviks are founding, having secured that the pro-Party Mensheviks (headed by Plekhanov) agree to support our publication. It necessarily makes its appearance as a factional publication, as a factional enterprise of the Bolsheviks. Here, too, perhaps, persons will be found who cannot see the wood for the trees and who will raise an outcry about going “back” to factionalism. By setting out in detail our view of the nature and significance of the Party unity that is really coming about and is really important and essential we have already exposed the value of such objections, which would in fact signify only confusing the problem of unity and concealing certain factional aims. We desire above all that Rabochaya Gazeta should help the workers to understand quite clearly from beginning to end the entire Party position and all the Party aims.
In embarking on the publication of Rabochaya Gazeta we are counting on the assistance both of the Central Committee of our Party and of the local organisations, as well as of individual groups of class-conscious workers at present cut off from the Party. We are counting on the assistance of the Central Committee, knowing that for a number of months past it has not succeeded in arranging its work correctly in Russia, its failure being due to the fact that, apart from the Bolsheviks and pro-Party Mensheviks, it has not found help anywhere and has frequently encountered the direct opposition of the other factions. This painful phase in the life of the Central Committee will pass, and in order that this should happen the sooner we must not simply “wait” until the Central Committee is re-established, until it has gathered strength, etc., but immediately, on the initiative of individual groups and local organisations, start—even if on the most modest scale at first—that work of strengthening the Party line and real Party unity on which the Central Committee too is primarily engaged. We count on the assistance of the local organisations and individual groups of workers, for it is only their active work on the newspaper, only their support, their re actions, their articles, materials, information and comments that can put Rabochaya Gazeta on a firm basis and ensure its continuance.
- This refers to the resolution written by Lenin and adopted by the conference of the enlarged editorial board of Proletary in June 1909: “Otzovism and Ultimatumism” (see present edition, Vol. 45, pp. 442–46).