Clarity Has Been Achieved
|Written||5 June 1914|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 351-355
CLASS-CONSCIOUS WORKERS, PLEASE NOTE[edit source]
In Put Pravdy No. 63, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group made a last attempt to ascertain whether the six deputies (the Chkheidze group) now intend—after the vast majority of the class-conscious workers have condemned their alliance with the liquidators—to take steps towards an agreement with the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group in the Duma.
The Russian Social-Democratic Labour group asked the “Social-Democratic group” whether it now intended unreservedly to recognise the decisions of the entire Marxist body of 1903 (the Programme) and of 1908–10 (condemnation of the liquidators). Why the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group put this question in the forefront, is clear. The decisions of 1903, 1908 and 1910 were adopted prior to any splits between the Marxists and the liquidators. These decisions are the banner of all Marxists. If any agreement between the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group and the “Social-Democratic group” is at all possible, then it is of course possible only on the basis of the unqualified recognition of these decisions, which were adopted before the split.
In issue No. 2 of Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, the Chkheidze group published an “Open Reply” in which clarity is at last achieved and which therefore deserves the most serious attention from all workers who seriously try to understand the causes of the disagreements, and want genuine unity.
1. THE PROGRAMME AND THE NATIONAL QUESTION[edit source]
At the Marxist Congress which drew up the Programme (1903), the Bundists (Jewish liquidators) proposed that a demand be included in the Programme for “the establishment of institutions that will guarantee them complete freedom of cultural development”. This was opposed by the present-day liquidators Martynov, Martov and Koltsov. They argued, quite correctly, that this demand ran counter to the international principles of Social-Democracy. This demand was rejected by all votes against the vote of the Bundists (see the Minutes).
Marxists assert that the “establishment of institutions” is the same “cultural-national autonomy”, which Social-Democracy rejects.
In their “Open Reply” the six deputies assert the contrary. They say: we advocated the “establishment of institutions”, but we did not advocate cultural-national autonomy.
Very well, we say in reply; let us assume for a moment that the two are not the same. But the Congress also rejected the “establishment of institutions”. You know that perfectly well. You know that, to please the nationalists, you have retreated from the Programme. It was for this violation of the Programme that the Bundists, whose proposals the Congress rejected, complimented you.
After the Social-Democratic group made its declaration at the opening of the Fourth Duma, they wrote:
“It may be pointed out that the formula of the Social-Democrats [i. e., liquidators] lacked clarity. That is quite true. But the important thing is that the workers’ deputies [i. e., Chkheidze’s supporters] abandoned the rigid point of view on which the official theory on the national question is based.” (Zeit No. 9, editorial, column 3.)
The “official theory” is nothing more nor less than the Programme. The Bundists compliment Chkheidze and his friends for infringing the Programme. The Russian Social-Democratic Labour group asked: Is the “Social-Democratic group” willing to retract this infringement of the Programme?
The reply was clear: “This formula [i. e., establishment of institutions] contains absolutely nothing that the Social-Democratic group should retract” (cf. “Open Reply”).
We refuse to retract this infringement of the Programme—such was the reply of the “Social-Democratic group”.
2. THE DECISION OF 1908[edit source]
The Russian Social-Democratic Labour group next asked the “Social-Democratic group” whether it was willing to recognise the 1908 decision of the Marxists, which was recently endorsed also by the Lettish conciliators.
This decision reads as follows:
“Liquidationism is an attempt on the part of a certain section of the Party intelligentsia to liquidate [i. e., to dissolve, destroy, abolish, put an end to] the existing Party organisation, and to substitute for it an amorphous federation acting within legal hounds [i. e., within the law, in open existence] at all costs, even at the cost of openly abandoning the programme, tactics and traditions [i. e., the preceding experience] of the Party.”
And this decision goes on to say that “it is necessary to wage a most relentless ideological and organisational struggle against these liquidationist attempts” (cf. Report, p. 38).
This decision was adopted by the united Marxist body in the presence of representatives of all groups, including the liquidators (Dan, Axelrod and others), the Bundists, and so forth. It was adopted in December 1908, before there were any splits.
The Russian Social-Democratic Labour group asked the Chkheidze group whether it accepted this 1908 decision, which condemned liquidationism.
What did the Chkheidze group say in reply?
Not a word! Not a sound! It treated the decision of 1908 as though it did not exist. Incredible, but a fact. And this silence is more eloquent than words. It reveals an incredibly arrogant disregard for decisions. Decisions that are not to my liking are simply non-existent—such are the ethics of the liquidationist deputies.
The latter acted in the same way when it came to accepting deputy Jagiello into the group. It was pointed out to them that the 1908 decision rejected “unity” with Jagiello’s non-Social-Democratic party. But to this they replied that in 1907, i. e., a year before this decision was adopted, the Social-Democratic group in the Second Duma had accepted as members the Lithuanian deputies who were unquestionably Social-Democrats. This means openly mocking at decisions.
3. THE 1910 DECISION[edit source]
This decision reads as follows:
“The historical situation in the Social-Democratic movement in the period of bourgeois counter-revolution inevitably gives rise—as a manifestation of the bourgeois influence on the proletariat—on the one hand, to repudiation of the illegal Social-Democratic Party, belittling of its role and importance, and attempts to whittle down the programmatic and tactical tasks and the slogans of consistent Social-Democracy, etc., and on the other hand, to repudiation of Social-Democratic activities in the Duma and of the utilisation of legal possibilities, failure to understand the importance of either, inability to apply consistent Social-Democratic tactics to the specific historical conditions prevailing at the present time, etc.
“An inalienable element of Social-Democratic tactics under these conditions is the elimination of both these deviations by extending and intensifying Social-Democratic activities in all fields of the proletarian class struggle, and explanation of the dangers of these deviations.”
This decision was adopted unanimously, prior to any splits, in the presence of representatives of all groups. It condemns liquidationism and otzovism.
The Russian Social-Democratic Labour group asked the “Social-Democratic group” whether it recognised that decision. The latter replied: “The 1910 decisions do not even contain the word liquidationism”.
The “word” is not there! But whom did the entire Marxist body have in mind when it condemned the “repudiation of the illegal Social-Democratic Party, the belittling of its role and importance”? Whom if not the liquidators?
Lastly, we have a most authentic document, published three years ago and refuted by nobody, a document emanating from all the “national” Marxists (Letts, Bundists and Poles), and from Trotsky (the liquidators cannot imagine better witnesses). This document plainly states that “it would in fact be desirable to call the trend mentioned in the resolution liquidationism, which must be combated....”
How can the deputies have the effrontery to mislead the workers in this unblushing manner?
The “Social-Democratic group” refuses to recognise the 1910 decisions! Instead, it declares that it is in “complete agreement” with the liquidationist Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta.
The 1903, 1908 and 1910 decisions of the entire Marxist body do not exist for the liquidationist deputies. For them only the “decisions” of the liquidationist newspaper exist.
4. “TRENDS”[edit source]
While flouting direct decisions and ignoring the will of the workers, the “Social-Democratic group” dilates on the usefulness of all “trends of Marxism”.
Marxists all over the world take the workers’ organisations as their basis. In our country, however, some people want to take elusive “trends” as their basis. In Germany and in fact all over the world, the Social-Democrats unite the workers, their local cells, organisations and groups. In our country, some people want to unite “trends”.
“All trends among the Marxists”! But among the liquidators alone there are at least two “trends”: Borba and Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, disputing with each other as to which of them is the best custodian of the “August precepts”.
The idea of uniting ten “trends”, all of them isolated from the masses, is hopeless. The idea of uniting all workers willing to build up the entire Marxist body is a great cause, which is being accomplished before our very eyes with the ardent support of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group.
Clarity has been achieved. The overwhelming majority of the workers (see the returns of the insurance elections, group collections and the correspondence between the workers’ groups and the two groups in the Duma) have declared in favour of the Marxists, in favour of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group, and against the liquidators. The August bloc has broken down; the Lettish Social-Democrats and Buryanov have left them, and the supporters of An and of Borba are leaving them; the six deputies grouped around Chkheidze have joined the worst and most liquidationist fragment of the August bloc.
The workers must draw their own conclusions.
- Put Pravdy No. 50, for March 30 (April 12), 1914 published the resolution of the Fourth Congress of the Social-Democrats of the Lettish Region concerning the split in the Social-Democratic group in the Fourth Duma. The resolution stressed the need for unity of the Duma Social-Democratic group on the basis of acceptance of the Programme and Rules of the Party and the Party decisions. (See pp. 177–51 of this volume.)
In connection with this resolution of the Lettish Congress, the same issue of Put Pravdy published an “Open Enquiry” to the Menshevik’ deputies as to their attitude towards the principles advanced by the Lettish workers. This enquiry of the Bolshevik newspaper was ignored by the Mensheviks. Thereupon, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group in the Duma published an “Open Letter” in Put Pravdy No. 63 for April 17, 1914 in which they demanded from the Mensheviks a clear and definite reply to the question put to them.
The “Open Letter” evoked an “Open Reply” by the Mensheviks, which was published in Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, May 4 (17). This reply is dealt with in the present article.
- Lenin is quoting the resolution of the Fifth All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP—the “All-Russia Conference of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. (In December 1908.)” It was published by newspaper Proletary, Paris, 1909, p. 38.