Conference of the Extended Editorial Board of Proletary (1)

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Conference of the extended editorial board of “Proletary” was held in Paris on June 8-17 (21-30), 1909 and was attended by nine members of the Bolshevik Centre (elected by tile Bolshevik section of the Fifth [London] Congress of the RSDLP in 1907) headed by Lenin, and representatives of the St. Petersburg, Moscow Regional and Urals organisations.

The Conference was called to discuss the conduct of the otzovists and ultimatumists. It dealt with the following questions: (1) otzovism and ultimatumism; (2) god-building tendencies among the Social-Democrats; (3) the attitude to Duma activities among the other fields of Party work; (4) the tasks of the Bolsheviks in the Party; (5) the Party school being set up abroad (on Capri); (6) agitation for a Bolshevik congress or a Bolshevik conference separate from the Party; (7) the breakaway of Comrade Maximov; and other questions.

The Conference was guided by Lenin, who delivered speeches on all the principal questions of the agenda. Otzovism and ultimatumism were represented and defended at the Conference by A. Bogdanov (Maximov) and V. Shantser (Marat). Kamenev, Zinoviev, Rykov, and Tomsky took a conciliatory stand.

The Conference condemned otzovism and ultimatumism, which were qualified as “liquidationism from the left”. Bogdanov, the guiding spirit of otzovism and ultimatumism, was expelled from the ranks of the Bolsheviks. The Conference also condemned god-building and decided to combat it vigorously and expose its anti-Marxist nature.

The headings to Lenin’s speeches published in this volume have been given by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism.

Report on the Conference of the Extended Editorial Board of Proletary[edit source]

Supplement to Proletary, No. 46, July 3 (16), 1909

Elsewhere in this issue the reader will find the text of the resolutions adopted at the recent conference of the extended Editorial Board of Proletary. The conference was constituted as follows: four members of the Proletary Editorial Board, three representatives of the Bolsheviks working in local organisations—St. Petersburg, Moscow regional (Central Russia) and the Urals—and five Bolshevik members of the Central Committee.

The debates which developed at the conference are unquestionably of great importance to the whole Party. They defined more exactly and, to some extent, more completely, that line of policy which the leading organ of the Bolshevik section of the Party has been systematically pursuing in recent times and which, of late, has aroused a number of attacks by some of our comrades who consider themselves Bolsheviks. The necessary explanation took place at the conference, at which the opposition was represented by two comrades.

In view of all this the editors of Proletary will make every effort to prepare and publish the fullest possible minutes of the conference. In the present report however we simply want to deal briefly with those points which, if interpreted in a certain way, might give rise—and are already giving rise among comrades abroad—to misapprehensions. The comprehensive and explicitly formulated resolutions of the conference really speak for themselves; the minutes of the conference will provide enough material for a thorough understanding of the resolutions as a whole. The purpose of this report is chiefly to point out the implications of the decisions arid resolutions for members of the Bolshevik section.

We shall start with the resolution “On Otzovism and Ultimatumism”.

That part of the resolution which is directed expressly against otzovism encountered no serious objections on the part of the representatives of the opposition at the conference. Both these representatives admitted that otzovism, inasmuch as it was shaping into a definite trend, was deviating further and further from Social-Democracy, that some representatives of otzovism, notably its recognised leader Comrade St.,[1] have even managed to acquire a “certain tinge of anarchism”. The conference unanimously recognised that a persistent and systematic struggle against otzovism as a trend was imperative. With ultimatumism matters were different.

Both representatives of the opposition at the conference called themselves ultimatumists. And both of them, in a written statement submitted when the resolution was being voted on, declared that they were ultimatumists, that the resolution proposed to repudiate ultimatumism, that this would mean repudiating themselves, which was something they could not subscribe to. Later, when several other resolutions were adopted against the votes of the opposition, the two representatives of the opposition stated in writing that they considered the resolutions of the conference irregular, that, in adopting them, the conference was declaring a split in the Bolshevik section, and that they would not submit to these resolutions or put them into practice. Later we shall dwell in greater detail on this incident, be cause it formally completed the breakaway of one of the representatives of the opposition, Comrade Maximov, from the extended editorial board of Proletary. Here we want to approach it from another angle.

In assessing ultimatumism, just as, incidentally, in assessing that consistent ultimatumism which goes by the name of otzovism, we have unfortunately to deal not so much with writings as with legend. Neither ultimatumism nor otzovism have yet found expression in any more or less integral “platform”. So ultimatumism must be considered in its only concrete expression—the demand that the Social-Democratic group in the Duma be presented with an ultimatum to act in a strict Party spirit and obey all the instructions of the Party centres, or else give up their mandates. To maintain, however, that such a description of ultimatumism is quite correct and accurate is, apparently, wrong. And for the following reason. Comrade Marat, one of the two ultimatumists who attended the conference, stated that this description did not apply to him. He, Comrade Marat, admitted that there had been a great improvement lately in the work of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma, and that he did not intend to present an ultimatum to it now, immediately. He merely thought that the Party should bring pressure to bear on the Duma group by every possible means, the afore-mentioned ultimatum being one of them.

It is of course possible to get along with ultimatumists like this within one and the same wing of the Party. Such an ultimatumist is bound to reduce his ultimatumism to zero as the work of the Duma group improves. Such ultimatumism does not preclude but, on the contrary, implies prolonged work of the Party with and on the Duma group, prolonged and persistent work of the Party in the sense of skilfully making use of activity in the Duma for the purpose of agitation and organisation. Since there are clear signs of an improvement in the activities of the Duma group, work must be continued perseveringly and persistently in the same direction. Ultimatumism will thereby gradually lose its objective meaning. In the case of such Bolshevik ultimatumists a split is out of the question. In their case it is scarcely justifiable even to draw the line of demarcation prescribed in the resolution “On Otzovism and Ultimatumism” and in the resolution “The Tasks of the Bolsheviks in the Party”. Such ultimatumism is nothing more than a shade of opinion in formulating and settling one definite practical question; there is no marked difference of principle here.

The ultimatumism which the resolution describes as an ideological trend in the Party which Bolshevism must disown, is a different thing. This ultimatumism—and it undoubtedly exists—rules out prolonged work on the Duma group by the Party and its central bodies, it rules out prolonged, patient Party activity among the workers in the sense of skilfully utilising the wealth of agitational material provided by the Third Duma. This ultimatumism rules out constructive, creative Party work on the Duma group. This ultimatumism has only one weapon—the ultimatum which the Party must hang over the head of its Duma group like the sword of Damocles, and which the H. S. D. L. P. must accept as a substitute for all that experience in the genuinely revolutionary use of parliamentarism which the social-Democrats in Western Europe have accumulated by dint of long persistent practice. To draw a line between that ultimatumism and otzovism is impossible. They are linked inseverably by their common spirit of adventurism. And Bolshevism, as the revolutionary trend in Russian Social-Democracy, must dissociate itself from one and the other alike.

But what do we mean, what did the conference mean by this “dissociation"? Are there any grounds for asserting that the conference proclaimed a split in the Bolshevik section, as some representatives of the opposition would have us believe? There are no such grounds. The conference stated in its resolutions that tendencies were beginning to appear within the Bolshevik section which run counter to Bolshevism with its specific tactical principles. In our Party Bolshevism is represented by the Bolshevik section. But a section is not a party. A party can contain a whole gamut of opinions and shades of opinion, the extremes of which may be sharply contradictory. In the German party, side by side with the pronouncedly revolutionary wing of Kautsky, we see the ultra-revisionist wing of Bernstein. That is not the case within a section. A section in a party is a group of like-minded persons formed for the purpose primarily of influencing the party in a definite direction, for the purpose of securing acceptance for their principles in the party in the purest possible form. For this, real unanimity of opinion is necessary. The different standards we set for party unity and sectional unity must be grasped by everyone who wants to know how the question of the internal discord in the Bolshevik section really stands. The conference did not declare a split in the section. It would be a profound mistake for any local functionary to understand the resolutions of the conference as an instruction to expel otzovist-minded workers, let alone bring about an immediate split in organisations where there are otzovist elements. We warn local functionaries in all seriousness against such actions. Otzovism, as a coherent, independent trend does not exist among the mass of the workers. The attempts of the otzovists at self-determination and a complete statement of their views lead inevitably to syndicalism and anarchism. Persons who advocate these trends with any persistence exclude themselves automatically from section and Party alike. To put otzovist-minded workers’ groups in this category, however large these groups may be, would be absurd. This kind of otzovism is largely a result of being uninformed about the work of the Duma group. The best way to combat this kind of otzovism is, first, wide publicity among the workers to keep them fully informed on the work of the Duma group and, secondly, to afford the workers opportunities to come into regular contact with the group and influence it. Otzovist sentiment in St. Peters burg, for instance, could be counteracted to a large extent by arranging a number of talks between our comrades in the Duma and the workers of St. Petersburg. Thus all efforts should be concentrated on avoiding an organisational split with the otzovists. Any ideological campaign against otzovism and its kindred doctrine syndicalism, conducted more or less persistently and consistently, would soon make all talk of an organisational split absolutely superfluous or, at worst, result in a few otzovists or groups of otzovists breaking away from the Bolshevik section and the Party.

That, incidentally, was how matters stood at the conference of the extended editorial board of Proletary. Comrade Maximov’s ultimatumism proved to be utterly irreconcilable with the Bolshevik line, which was formulated once again by the conference. After the resolutions on key issues were adopted he declared that he considered them irregular, although they had been carried by ten votes to two, some of them against a single dissentient vote (Maximov’s) with one abstention (for example, the resolution “On Otzovism and Ultimatumism” as a whole). At this the conference passed a resolution disclaiming all responsibility for the political actions of Comrade Maximov. The thing was clear: once Comrade Maximov flatly rejected all the resolutions on key issues adopted by such a large majority of the conference, he had to realise that there was not between the conference and himself that unanimity of opinion which is an elementary condition for the existence of a section within a party. But Comrade Maximov did not stop there: he emphatically declared not only that he had no intention of carrying out these resolutions, but that he would not submit to them. The conference had no choice but to disclaim all responsibility for the political activities of Comrade Maximov. In doing so, however, it declared (see the statement of the St. Petersburg delegate M. T.[2] and others) “that the question here is not of a split in the section but of Comrade Maximov’s breakaway from the extended editorial board of Proletary”.[3]

We also find it necessary to draw all the attention of Party comrades to other resolutions of the conference: “The Tasks of the Bolsheviks in the Party”, and “The Attitude to Duma Activities Among the Other Fields of Party Work”. The important thing here is correctly to understand the formulation of the question of the “Party line” of the Bolsheviks, and of the attitude to legal opportunities in general and to the Duma as a platform in particular.

Our immediate task is to preserve and consolidate the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The very fulfilment of this great task involves one extremely important element: the combating of both varieties of liquidationism—liquidationism on the right and liquidationism on the left. The liquidators on the right say that no illegal RSDLP is needed, that Social-Democratic activities should he centred exclusively or almost exclusively on legal opportunities. The liquidators on the left go to the other extreme: legal avenues of Party work do not exist for them, illegality at any price is their “be all and end all”. Both, in approximately equal degree, are liquidators of the RSDLP, for without methodical judicious combination of legal and illegal work in the present situation that history has imposed upon us, the “preservation and consolidation of the RSDLP” is inconceivable. Liquidationism on the right, as we know, is rampant particularly in the Menshevik section, and partly in the Bund. But among the Mensheviks there have lately been significant signs of a return to partyism, which must be welcomed: “the minority of the [Menshevik] section”,[4] to quote the conference resolution, “after running the full gauntlet of liquidationism, are now voicing their protest against it, and seeking anew solid party ground for their activities."[5]

What then are the tasks of the Bolsheviks in relation to this as yet small section of the Mensheviks who are fighting against liquidationism on the right? The Bolsheviks must undoubtedly seek rapprochement with this section of the membership, those who are Marxists and partyists. There is no question whatever of sinking our tactical differences with the Mensheviks. We are fighting and shall continue to fight most strenuously against Menshevik deviations from the policy of revolutionary. Social-Democracy. Nor, need less to say, is there any question of the Bolshevik section dissolving its identity in the Party. The Bolsheviks have done a good deal to entrench their positions in the Party, but much remains to be done in the same direction. The Bolshevik section as a definite ideological trend in the Party must exist as before. But one thing must be borne firmly in mind: the responsibility of “preserving and consolidating” the RSDLP, of which the resolution of the conference speaks, now rests primarily, if not entirely, on the Bolshevik section. All, or practically all, the Party work in progress, particularly in the localities, is now being shouldered by the Bolsheviks. And to them, as firm and consistent guardians of Party principle, now falls a highly important task. They must enlist in the cause of building up the Party all elements who are fitted to serve it. And in this hour of adversity it would be truly a crime on our part not to extend our hand to pro-Party people in other groups, who are coming out in defence of Marxism and partyism against liquidationism.

This stand was recognised by the great majority at the conference, including all the representatives of the Bolsheviks from the local organisations. The opposition wavered, hesitating to take a definite stand, either for or against us. Yet it was for this line that Comrade Maximov accused the conference of “betraying Bolshevism”, of adopting the Menshevik point of view. etc. We had only one reply to make to this: “Say that publicly in the press, before the whole Party membership and the whole Bolshevik section, and the sooner the better; that will enable us once again to expose the true value of your ’revolutionariness’, the true nature of your ’protection’ of Bolshevism."

We ask comrades to take note of the conference resolution on “The Attitude to Duma Activities, etc.” We have already indicated above how intimately the question of “legal opportunities” is bound up with liquidationism of various shades. To fight liquidationism on the left is just as imperative now as to fight liquidationism on the right. The parliamentary cretinism, which would reduce the whole Party organisation to a congregation of workers at the shrine of “legal opportunities”, and of Duma activities in particular, is as profoundly alien to the principles of revolutionary Social-Democracy as the otzovism that cannot understand the value of legal opportunities to the Party, in the interests of the Party. In the conference resolutions the use of legal opportunities for the benefit of the Party is regarded as being of immense importance. But nowhere in these resolutions are legal opportunities and their use treated as an end in itself. They are everywhere placed in direct association with the aims and methods of illegal activity. And this association deserves particular attention at the present time. Certain practical suggestions are given on this score in the resolution. But they are only suggestions. Broadly speaking, it is not so much now a question of what place “legal opportunities” should occupy among other fields of Party work, but of how to utilise them with greatest benefit to the Party. During its long years of work underground, the Party has accumulated enormous experience in illegal work. This cannot be said of the other sphere—the use of legal opportunities. Here the Party, and the Bolsheviks in particular, have not been active enough. More attention, more initiative and more effort must be turned to making use of this field than has hitherto been the case. We must learn to utilise legal opportunities, learn just as zealously as we have been learning to use illegal methods of work. And it is for the purpose of using the legal opportunities for the benefit of the Party that the conference calls upon all to whom the interests of the RSDLP are dear to put their shoulder to the wheel.

Our attitude to illegal Party work remains unchanged, as of course it must. Our main task is to preserve and consolidate the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, and everything else must be subordinated to it. Only after this consolidation has been achieved shall we be able to utilise these same legal opportunities in the interests of the Party. The utmost attention must be paid to those workers’ groups which are being formed in the industrial centres, which must take over, and are gradually taking over, the general direction of Party work. All our efforts in all fields of our activity should be aimed at making real Social-Democratic Party cadres out of these groups. Only on this basis is it really possible to preserve and consolidate the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.

Speech on the Question of the Tasks of the Bolsheviks in the Party, June 11 (24)[edit source]

First published in 1934 in the book Minutes of the Conference of the Extended Editorial Board of “Proletary”

I think it unnecessary to reply for the hundredth and thousandth time to Comrade Maximov on the question at issue i. e., to repeat that in breaking away from us he is creating a faction of caricature Bolsheviks or godly otzovists. All this has already been said, printed, chewed over and emphasised in Proletary. And I only say: speak out, say in print what you have been saying here within four walls— and then, and only then, shall we get an ideological struggle instead of the unseemly bickering that has been going on here for more than three days. Say in print that we are “neo–Bolsheviks”, “neo–Proletary–ists’? “in the new Iskra sense”, i. e., virtually, Mensheviks, that we “have made two steps back”, that we “are destroying the most precious heritage of the Russian revolution—Bolshevism”. Say these things, which I have taken down from your speech, in print, and we shall show the public yet once more that you do answer to the type of a caricature Bolshevik. Say in print that we—I quote your words again—"will die a political death as prisoners of Plekhanov in the event of anew upsurge”, that we “will win in the event of a protracted period of reaction”, say this in print, and we shall, for the benefit of the Party, elucidate once more the difference between Bolshevism and “godly otzovism”. But since you refuse (in spite of our direct challenges, beginning from August 1908, when you were formally requested at a meeting of the editorial board to come forward with a pamphlet, to express your views in a pamphlet), since you refuse to fight openly, but continue your intrigue within the Party, we must get an open statement from you by directly removing you from our section (not from the Party but from our section of it), removing you for the sake of an ideological struggle which will teach the Party a great deal.

Speech and Draft Resolution on the Tasks of the Bolsheviks in Relation to Duma Activity[edit source]

Written June 12–13 (25–26), 1909

First published in 1934 in the book Minutes of the Conference of the Extended Editorial Board of “Proletary”

Text of the speech published according to the book; text of the draft resolution according to the manuscript

We are coming to the end of the debate, and I don’t think there is any need to fix it in a special resolution, because we need to be careful with that. The thing was after all to thrash the matter out among ourselves. In reply to Vlasov[6] on the use of legal opportunities, I will read a draft resolution:

“The Bolshevik Centre resolves: in order in practice to achieve—and to achieve in a revolutionary Social-Democratic spirit and direction—the objects now ’recognised by all Bolsheviks of making use of all ’legal opportunities’, all legal and semi-legal organisations of the working class in general and the Duma rostrum in particular, the Bolshevik section must definitely and clearly put before itself the aim of securing at any cost the training up of a body of experienced Bolsheviks, specialised in their job and firmly established in their particular legal post (trade unions; clubs; Duma committees, etc., etc.)."

Vlasov stated that this refers to the leaders. This is not the case. The trouble is that in our Bolshevik section the view prevails that such specialists are not required. Our forces are few: they must be utilised and allotted to the legal functions, and made responsible for carrying out these functions in the name of the section. If we speak of setting up Party cells, we must know how to do it. I have drafted a resolution on agitation by leaflets:

“Having discussed the question of the Bolsheviks’ tasks in relation to Duma activity, the Bolshevik Centre resolves to draw the attention of all local organisations to the importance of agitation by leaflets (in addition to the local and regional press) which spread among the masses information about the Duma work of the Social-Democrats and give direction to this work. Subjects for such leaflets might be indications of questions to be highlighted from the Duma rostrum, the summing up of the Social-Democrats’ activity in the Duma and the grouping of the different parties, out lines of propagandist speeches on these questions, analysis of the political significance of particularly important Social-Democratic speeches in the Duma, pointing out omissions or inaccuracies in Social-Democratic Duma speeches, and extracts from these speeches giving practical conclusions important for propaganda and agitation, etc., etc."

And I have also roughed-out in the form of a resolution the points on the question of our attitude to Duma activity which were discussed at the private meeting[7]:

“II. The difference between the revolutionary Social- Democratic use of the Duma and the reformist (or more broadly, opportunist) use can be described by the following indications, which do not pretend to be complete.

“From the standpoint of the external relations, so to speak, of the Duma Social-Democratic group, the difference between the revolutionary Social-Democratic use of the Duma and opportunist use consists in the following: the necessity to combat the tendency on the part of deputies and very often of the bourgeois intellectuals surrounding them—a tendency natural in all bourgeois society (and in Russia during a period of reaction especially)—to make parliamentary activity the basic, most important thing of all, an end in itself. In particular it is essential to make every effort that the group should carry on its work as one of the functions subordinated to the interests of the working-class movement as a whole, and also that the group should be in constant con tact with the Party, not drawing apart from it but implementing Party views, the directives of Party congresses and the central institutions of the Party.

From the standpoint of the internal content of the group’s activity, it is essential to bear the following in mind. The aim of the activity of the parliamentary Social-Democratic group differs in principle from that of all other political parties. The aim of the proletarian party is not to do deals or haggle with the powers that be, not to engage in the hopeless patching-up of the regime of the feudalist-bourgeois dictatorship of counter-revolution, but to develop in every way the class-consciousness, the socialist clarity of thought, the revolutionary determination and all-round organisation of the mass of the workers. Every step in the activity of the Duma group must serve this fundamental aim. Therefore more attention must be paid to promoting the aims of socialist revolution from the Duma rostrum. Efforts must be made to ensure that speeches should more often be heard from the Duma rostrum propagandising the fundamental conceptions and aims of socialism, namely, of scientific socialism. Then, in the conditions of continuing bourgeois-democratic revolution, it is extremely important that the Duma group should systematically combat the torrent of counter-revolutionary attacks on the ’liberation movement’, and the prevalent tendency (both on the part of the outright reactionaries and of the liberals, especially the Cadets) to condemn the revolution and discredit it, its aims, its methods, etc. The Social-Democratic group in the Duma must bear high the banner of the revolution, the banner of the advanced class, leader of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia.

“Furthermore it i s essential to point out . a task of the Duma Social-Democratic group, which is exceptionally important at the present time, namely, that of participating energetically in all discussions of labour legislation. The group must utilise the rich parliamentary experience of the West-European Social-Democrats, taking. special care to avoid the opportunist distortion of this aspect of its activity. The group must not whittle down its slogans and the demands of our Party’s minimum programme, but draft and introduce its Social-Democratic Bills (and also amendments to Bills of the government and the other parties), in order to unmask to the masses the hypocrisy and falseness of social-reformism, in order to draw the masses into independent economic and political mass struggle, which alone can bring real gains to the workers or transform half-hearted and hypocritical ’reforms’ under the existing system into strong-points for an advancing working-class movement towards the complete emancipation of the proletariat.

“The Duma Social-Democratic group and the whole Social-Democratic Party should take the same stand towards reformism within Social-Democracy, which is the latest product of opportunist vacillation.

“Finally, revolutionary Social-Democratic use of the Duma should differ from opportunist use in that the Social-Democratic group and the Party are bound to explain to the masses in every possible way the class character of all bourgeois political parties, not confining themselves to attacks on the government and outright reactionaries, but exposing both the counter-revolutionary, nature of liberalism and the waverings of petty-bourgeois peasant democracy.”

Resolutions of the Conference of the Extended Editorial Board of Proletary[edit source]

Supplement to Proletary, No. 46, July 3 (16), 1909

1. On Otzovism and Ultimatumism[edit source]

The slogan of boycott of the Bulygin Duma and the First Duma issued by the revolutionary wing of our Party played a great revolutionary role at the time, and was taken up with enthusiasm by all the most active and most revolutionary sections of the working class.

The direct revolutionary struggle of the broad masses was then followed by a severe period of counter-revolution. It became essential for Social-Democrats to adapt their revolutionary tactics to this new political situation, and, in connection with this, one of the exceptionally important tasks became the use of the Duma as an open platform for the purpose of assisting Social-Democratic agitation and organisation.

In this rapid turn of events, however, a section of the workers who had participated in the direct revolutionary struggle was unable to proceed at once to apply revolutionary Social-Democratic tactics in the new conditions of the counter-revolution, and continued simply to repeat slogans which had been revolutionary in the period of open civil war, but which now, if merely repeated, might retard the process of closing the ranks of the proletariat in the new conditions of struggle.

On the other hand, in the conditions of this painful crisis, in an atmosphere of decline in the revolutionary struggle, of apathy and dejection even among a section of the workers, at a time when the workers’ organisations were being suppressed and when the strength of their resistance to disintegrating influences was inadequate, there has developed among a section of the working class an attitude of indifference towards the political struggle in general, and of a particularly marked lack of interest in the work of Social-Democrats in the Duma.

It is in such conditions that so-called otzovism and ultimatumism may meet with temporary success among these sections of the proletariat.

The proceedings of the Third Duma, which openly flouts the needs of the workers, work up an otzovist mood among these strata of the workers, who, owing to their inadequate Social-Democratic training, are as yet unable to understand that these proceedings of the Third Duma enable the Social- Democrats to make use of that representative assembly of the exploiting classes in a revolutionary manner, in order to expose to the broadest sections of the people the real nature of the autocracy and of all the counter-revolutionary forces, as well as the need for revolutionary struggle.

Another contributing factor to this otzovist mood among this stratum of the workers has been the exceedingly grave errors committed by the Duma Social-Democratic group, especially during the first year of its activity.

Recognising that this otzovist mood has a detrimental effect on the socialist and revolutionary training of the working class, the Bolshevik wing of the Party considers it necessary:

(a) in regard to these strata of the workers: to persevere in the work of Social-Democratic training and organisation, to explain systematically and persistently the utter political futility of otzovism and ultimatumism, the real significance of Social-Democratic parliamentarism and the role of the Duma as a platform for the Social-Democrats during a period of counter—revolution

(b) in regard to the Duma Social-Democratic group and Duma work in general: to establish close connections between the Duma group and the advanced workers; to render it every assistance; to see that the whole Party supervises and brings pressure upon it; inter alia, by openly explaining its mistakes; to ensure in practice that the Party guides its activities as a Party organ; and in general that the Bolsheviks carry out the decisions of the recent Party conference on this matter; for only the increased attention of working-class circles to the activities of the Duma Social-Democratic group, and their organised participation in the Duma activities of the Social-Democrats, will be effective in straightening out the tactics of our Duma group;

(c) in regard to the Right wing of the Party, which is dragging the Duma group on to an anti-Party road and there by tearing it away from the workers’ vanguard: to wage a systematic, irreconcilable struggle against it, and to expose these tactics as fatal to the Party.

* *


In the course of the bourgeois-democratic revolution a number of elements joined our Party, attracted not by its purely proletarian programme, but chiefly by its gallant and energetic fight for democracy; these elements adopted the revolutionary-democratic slogans of the proletarian party, but without connecting them with the entire struggle of the socialist proletariat as a whole.

Such elements, not sufficiently imbued with the proletarian point of view, have also been found in the ranks of our Bolshevik wing of the Party. In this period of social stag nation such elements more and more reveal their lack of Social-Democratic consistency. Coming as they do into ever sharper contradiction with the fundamentals of revolutionary Social-Democratic tactics, they have been creating, during the past year, a trend that seeks to give shape to a theory of otzovism and ultimatumism, but in reality only elevates to a principle and intensifies false notions about Social-Democratic parliamentarism and the work of Social-Democracy in the Duma.

These attempts to create a complete system of otzovist policy out of an otzovist mood lead to a theory which in substance expresses the ideology of political indifference on the one hand, and of anarchist vagaries on the other. For all its revolutionary phraseology, the theory of otzovism and ultimatumism in practice represents, to a consider able extent, the reverse side of constitutional illusions based on the hope that the Duma itself can satisfy certain urgent needs of the people. In essence, it substitutes petty-bourgeois tendencies for proletarian ideology.

No less harmful to the Social-Democratic cause than open otzovism is so-called ultimatumism (i. e., that tendency which on principle renounces the utilisation of the Third Duma rostrum, or which tries to justify its failure to carry out. this duty by considerations of expediency, and, in striving for the recall of the Social-Democratic group from the Duma. abandons the prolonged work of training the Duma group and straightening its line in favour of presenting to it an immediate ultimatum). Politically, ultimatumism at the present time is indistinguishable from otzovism, and only introduces still greater confusion and disunity by the disguised character of its otzovism. The attempts of ultimatumism to assert its direct connection with the tactics of boycott practised by our wing of the Party during a particular stage of the revolution, merely distort the true meaning and character of the boycott of the Bulygin Duma and the First Duma, which was quite correctly applied by the overwhelming majority of our Party. By their attempt to deduce, from the particular cases in which the boycott of representative institutions was applied at this or that moment of the revolution, that the policy of boycott is the distinguishing feature of Bolshevik tactics, even in a period of counter revolution, ultimatumism and otzovism demonstrate that these trends are in essence the reverse side of Menshevism, which preaches indiscriminate participation in all representative institutions, irrespective of the particular stage of development of the revolution, irrespective of whether a revolutionary upsurge exists or not.

All the attempts made so far by otzovism and ultimatumism to lay down principles on which to base their theory have inevitably led to denial of the fundamentals of revolutionary Marxism. The tactics proposed by them inevitably lead to a complete break with the tactics of the Left wing of international Social-Democracy as applied to present-day Russian conditions, and result in anarchist deviations.

Otzovist-ultimatumist agitation has already begun to cause unquestionable harm to the working-class movement and to Social-Democratic work. If it continues, it may be come a threat to Party unity, for this agitation has already given rise to such ugly phenomena as the alliance between otzovists and Socialist-Revolutionaries (in St. Petersburg) for the purpose of preventing help for our Party representatives in the Duma; likewise to public speeches at workers’ meetings jointly with avowed syndicalists.

In view of all this, the extended editorial board of Proletary declares that Bolshevism as a definite trend with in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party has nothing in common with otzovism and ultimatumism, and that the Bolshevik wing of the Party must most resolutely combat these deviations from the path of revolutionary Marxism.

2. The Tasks of the Bolsheviks in the Party[edit source]

In the period of decisive triumph of counter-revolution which followed the dissolution of the Second Duma, force of circumstances dictated that all Party activities should be concentrated on the following task: to preserve the Party organisation built up in the years of the high tide of the proletarian struggle, despite all the efforts of reaction, and notwithstanding the great depression in the proletarian class struggle, i. e., to preserve it as an organisation which consciously takes its stand on the basis of orthodox Marxism, and which unites all the “national” Social-Democratic organisations for the purpose of carrying out a single revolutionary Social-Democratic line of tactics.

In the course of this two years’ struggle for the Party and partyism, it became quite clear that, on the one hand, the Party had dissociated itself from the elements that had penetrated it as a result of the specific conditions of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and that, on the other hand, the revolutionary Social-Democrats had been further consolidated. On the one hand, the former fellow-travellers of Social-Democracy took quite definite shape—those fellow-travellers, who, on leaving the Party, transferred all their activities into various legal organisations (co-operatives, trade unions, educational societies, advisory commit tees for the Duma group), where they not only did not carry out the policy of the Party but, on the contrary, fought the Party and strove to wrest these organisations away from it and pit them against the Party. Making a fetish of legality, and elevating to a principle the narrow forms of activity imposed by the temporary decline of and state of disunity in the working-class movement, these elements—avowed liquidators of the Party—quite obviously took their stand upon the ground of theoretical and tactical revisionism. That the closest connection exists between liquidationism in organisation (the struggle against Party institutions) and the ideological struggle against Marxist theory and the fundamental principles of the programme of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, has now most clearly been revealed and proved by the entire history of the efforts to force an opportunist policy on our Duma group by its intellectual advisers, as well as by the entire course of the struggle between the liquidators and the partyists within the legal workers’ organisations and in the workers’ groups of the four congresses: of the People’s Universities,[8] of the co-operatives,[9] of women[10] and of factory medical officers.[11]

On the other hand, the Left wing of the Party, to whose lot it fell to lead the Party during this period of the decisive triumph of the counter-revolution, theoretically recognised and in practice applied the tactics of expediently combining illegal with legal Party work. This applies to all the Party work with the Duma group and all the Party work in the legal and semi-legal proletarian organisations. It is precisely these forms of work—forms enabling the illegal Party to influence more or less broad masses—that have been brought to the fore by the peculiar conditions of the present historical situation, in addition to the main forms of Party work. It is in these forms of activity that the Party in practice comes into conflict with liquidationism and deals it heavy blows. It is on this ground also that Social-Democrats belonging to various groups of the Party have been and are being drawn together.[12] And here, finally, on the very same questions of Party tactics and organisation in the conditions of the Third Duma period, the Bolshevik section openly disavows the pseudo-revolutionary, unstable, non-Marxist elements, which, under cover of so-called otzovism, have been opposing the new forms of Party activity.

At the present time, outlining the basic tasks of the Bolsheviks; the extended editorial board of Proletary states:

(1) that in the further struggle for the Party and partyism, the task of the Bolshevik section, which must remain the foremost champion of partyism and of the revolutionary Social-Democratic line in the Party, is to give active and all-round support to the Central Committee and the Central Organ of the Party. In the present period of the re-grouping of Party forces, only the central institutions of the Party can serve as the strong and authoritative representative of the Party line, around which all genuinely partyist and genuinely Social-Democratic elements can be rallied;

(2) that in the Menshevik camp of the Party, whose official organ, Golos Sotsial-Demokrata, is fully controlled by the Menshevik liquidators, the minority of this faction, having explored the path of liquidationism to the very end, is already raising its voice in protest against that path and is again seeking a party basis for its activities (the letter of the “Vyborg” Mensheviks[13] in St. Petersburg, the split among the Mensheviks in Moscow, the split in the editorial board of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata, the corresponding division in the Bund, etc.);

(3) that in such circumstances the task of the Bolsheviks, who will remain the solid vanguard of the Party, is not only to continue the struggle against liquidationism and all the varieties of revisionism, but also to establish closer contact with the Marxist and partyist elements of the other groups, dictated by common aims in the struggle for the preservation and consolidation of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.

3. Agitation for a Bolshevik Congress or Bolshevik Conference Separate from the Party[edit source]


that the Bolshevik wing, ever since Party unity was re stored, has always aligned and rallied the adherents of its political line on issues which have already become the subject of a general Party discussion, and always on the basis of an ideological campaign fought on th˜ general Party arena for its own particular solution of such questions— parallel platforms, discussion in the Party cells, and at general Party congresses;

that this is the only sure way both to rally really like-minded members and to draw into the wing all really kindred elements;

that for the attainment of our main object, to exert such an influence on the Party that the policy of revolutionary Social-Democracy shall triumph mice and for all in the Party, the alignment of the Bolsheviks solely on the general Party arena is the only right and proper procedure;

that any other procedure, the procedure of calling special Bolshevik conferences and congresses, would inevitably split the Party from top to bottom and would deal an irreparable blow to the section which took the initiative in bringing about such a total split in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party,

the extended editorial board of Proletary resolves:

(1) To warn all its supporters against agitating for a special Bolshevik congress, as such agitation would lead objectively to a Party split and might radically impair the position which revolutionary Social-Democracy has won in the Party.

(2) To hold the next conference of Bolsheviks at the same time as the regular Party conference, the supreme assembly of the wing as a whole to be an assembly of its supporters at the next Party congress.

(3) In view of the urgent outstanding issues agitating the Party and members of its Bolshevik wing, the Bolsheviks on the Central Committee are instructed to press for a speediest possible general Party conference (to be called in two or three months) and then for a speediest possible congress.

4. The Party School Being Set Up Abroad at X—[edit source]

After considering the question of the school at X—, the extended editorial board of Proletary is of the opinion that the organisation of this school by the promotion group (which includes Comrade Maximov, a member of the extend ed editorial board) has from the outset been proceeded with over the heads of the editorial board of Proletary and been accompanied by agitation against the latter. The steps so far taken by the promotion group make it perfectly clear that under the guise of this school a new centre is being formed for a faction breaking away from the Bolsheviks. The sponsors of this school, acting over the heads of the general centres, have contacted numerous committees in Russia, organised an independent fund and collections, and are appointing their own organisers, without even informing the editorial board of Proletary or the general Party centre.

While it recognises that with the present dearth of experienced Party workers a properly constituted and genuinely Party school, even if located abroad, might be of some help to local organisations in training up useful Party functionaries from among the workers, and while it considers for its part that everything must be done to render such assistance to local organisations as the condition of our organisation will allow, the extended editorial board, on the evidence of the whole line of conduct of the initiators of the school at X—, declares that the aims pursued by these initiators are not aims common to the Bolshevik wing as a whole, as an ideological trend in the Party, but are the private aims of a group with a separate ideology and policy; In view of the dissensions revealed within our ranks on the subject of otzovism, ultimatumism, the attitude to the propaganda of god-building and the internal Party tasks of the Bolsheviks in general; and in view of the fact that the initiators and organisers of the school at X—are one and all representatives of otzovism, ultimatumism and god-building, the extended editorial board of Proletary declares that the ideological and political physiognomy of this new centre is quite clearly defined.

In view of this, the extended editorial board of Proletary declares that the Bolshevik wing can bear no responsibility for this school.

5. The Breakaway of Comrade Maximov[edit source]


that unanimity on principles and tactics between ten members of the extended editorial board of Proletary, on the one hand, and Comrade Maximov, on the other, has manifestly proved to be absent on all points of the agenda; that, furthermore, there have lately been actions on Comrade Maximov’s part tending also to violate the organisational unity of the Bolshevik wing; that, lastly, Comrade Maximov gave a negative answer to the question whether he would abide by the decisions of the extended editorial board of Proletary and carry them out,

the extended editorial board of Proletary henceforth disclaims any responsibility for the political actions of Comrade Maximov.

  1. ↑ St.—Stanislav Volsky—A. V. Sokolov, leader of the Moscow otzovists.
  2. ↑ M. T.—M. P. Tomsky.
  3. ↑ Comrade Marat also made a statement to the effect that he would not carry out the resolutions of the conference, but would submit to them. In a special statement, Comrade Marat made the reservation that, while he recognised the necessity of a comradely ideological struggle against otzovism, he did not believe that the struggle should take organisational forms or that it involved a split in the Bolshevik section. As to the question in general of an organisational split, it is evident from the conference resolution (“On the Party School Set up Abroad at X—”[a]) that a step towards a split was made in this case by the otzovists and the adherents of god-building,[b] because this school is undoubtedly an attempt to form a new ideological and organisational centre for a new section of the Party. —Lenin
    [a] On the Party School Set Up Abroad—an anti-Party school set up by Bogdanov (Maximov), Alexinsky and Lunacharsky on Capri (Italy) in 1909 with the assistance of Maxim Gorky. The school was the factional centre of the otzovists, ultimatumists and god-builders, who united to fight Bolshevism.
    Under the guise of pro-Party activities the Bogdanovites got some of the local Social-Democratic organisations to send thirteen students to attend the school.
    The school existed about four months (August-December). In November 1909 some of the students headed by the worker N. Y. Vilonov emphatically dissociated themselves from the Bogdanovites when the factional nature of this school became clear to them. They sent to the editors of Proletary a protest against the anti-Party activities of the lecturers, for which they w&re expelled from the school. On Lenin’s invitation they came to Paris, where they attended a cycle of lectures including lectures by Lenin "The Present Moment and Our Tasks” and “The Agrarian Policy of Stolypin”. In December 1909 the group of students who remained on Capri formed, together with the lecturers, the anti-Party group “Vperyod”.
    The conference of the extended editorial board of Proletary condemned the Capri school, which it qualified as “the new centre of a faction that was breaking away from the Bolsheviks”. p. 432
    [b] God-building—a religious-philosophical literary trend, hostile to Marxism, which in the period of Stolypin reaction arose among a section of the Party intellectuals who had moved away from Marxism after the defeat of the Revolution of 1905-07.
    The god-builders (Lunacharsky, Bazarov and others) advocated the creation of a new “socialist” religion and tried to reconcile Marxism with religion. At one time Maxim Gorky supported them. An extended meeting of the editorial board of Proletary condemned god-building and declared in a special resolution that the Bolshevik group in the Party had nothing in common with “such a distortion of scientific socialism”.
    The reactionary nature of god-building was exposed by Lenin in his book Materialism and Empirio-criticism (see present edition Vol. 14) and in his letters to Gorky in February-April 1908 and November-December 1913.
  4. ↑ This refers to the pro-Party Mensheviks, headed by Plekhanov, who came out against the liquidators during the years of reaction. In December 1908 Plekhanov resigned from the editorial board of the liquidators’ newspaper Golos Sotsial-Demokrata, and in 1909 he resumed publication of Dnevnik Sotsial-Demokrata (Social-Democrat’s Diary) for the purpose of fighting liquidationism. While adhering to Menshevism, the Plekhanovites at the same time stood for preserving and strengthening the illegal Party organisation, and consented to form a bloc with the Bolsheviks for that purpose. In 1909 groups of pro-Party Mensheviks were formed in Paris, Geneva, San Remo, Nice and other cities. In St. Petersburg, Moscow, Ekaterinoslav, Kharkov, Kiev and Baku many Menshevik workers came out against the liquidators in favour of a revival of the illegal RSDLP
    Lenin called on the Bolsheviks to seek closer alignment with the pro-Party Mensheviks, saying that an agreement with them was possible on the basis of a struggle for the Party against liquidationism, “without any ideological compromises, without any glossing over of tactical and other differences of opinion within the limits of the Party line” (see present edition, Vol. 16, p. 101). The pro-Party Mensheviks participated with the Bolsheviks in the local Party committees, and contributed to the Bolshevik publications: Rabochaya Gazeta (Workers’ Gazette), Zvezda (Star), and the Central Organ of the Party Sotsial-Demokrat. Lenin’s tactics of alignment with the Plekhanovites, which were supported by the majority of the Menshevik workers in Russia, helped to extend the influence of the Bolsheviks in the legal organisations of the workers and oust the liquidators from them.
    At the end of 1911 Plekhanov broke the bloc with the Bolsheviks. On the pretext of combating “factionalism” and a split in the RSDLP he tried to reconcile the Bolsheviks with the opportunists. In 1912 the Plekhanovites, together with the Trotskyists, the Bundists and the liquidators, came out against the decisions of the Prague Conference of the RSDLP
  5. ↑ By the “split in the Editorial Board” of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata the resolution has in mind Comrade Plekhanov’s resignation from that body, to which Plekhanov himself says he was driven by nothing more nor less than the liquidationist tendencies of the Editorial Board. —Lenin
  6. ↑ Vlasov—A. I. Rykov.
  7. ↑ The private meeting—a meeting of Leninist Bolsheviks called by Lenin on the eve of the conference of the extended editorial board of Proletary. Lenin gave the meeting full information concerning the state of affairs in the Bolshevik section and the struggle against the otzovists, the ultimatumists and the god-builders. The theses contained in Lenin’s report formed the basis for the resolutions adopted by the conference of the extended editorial board.
  8. ↑ The First All-Russian Congress of Members of People’s Universities’ Associations was held in St. Petersburg on January 3-6 (16-19) 1908. During the debate on the question of the activities and organisation of the people’s universities the workers’ group of the congress, headed by the Bolsheviks, introduced motions demanding that the workers’ organisations be represented on the boards of the people’s universities with the right to take part in arranging the curricula, choosing desirable lecturers on the social sciences, and recognition of the right of every nationality to give tuition in the native language. The congress rejected these demands as being outside the competence of the congress, after which the workers’ representatives walked out.
  9. ↑ The First All-Russian Congress of Representatives of Co-operative Societies was held in Moscow on April 16-21 (April 29-May 4), 1908. It was attended by 824 delegates, about fifty of whom were Social-Democrats (Bolsheviks and Mensheviks). Reports were delivered at the congress on the international co-operative movement, on the role and tasks of the co-operative movement, on the legal status of the consumer societies in Russia, and other matters.
    Despite the resistance of the Mensheviks, the Bolsheviks formed a Social-Democratic group at the congress and headed the fight of the representatives from the trade unions and workers’ co-operatives against the bourgeois co-operators, who were in the majority at the congress. After a number of speeches by spokesmen of the workers, the police imposed a ban on speeches that touched on questions of the class struggle, the trade unions, aid to workers during strikes and lock-outs, the co-operative press and propaganda, and even the election of a congress bureau and the periodicity of congresses, the police officer attending the proceedings being instructed to arrest immediately anyone “who made socialist speeches or motions”. As a demonstration of protest against this the congress was closed.
  10. ↑ The First All-Russian Women’s Congress was held in St. Petersburg on December 10-16 (23-29), 1908. Among its delegates were many women workers. Under pressure of the latter the congress adopted resolutions on combating alcoholism, on the position of the peasant woman, on labour protection for women and children, on producers’ co-operatives, and on equal rights for Jews. On the main issue— that of the political and civic status of women in the modern community—the women workers submitted a motion demanding universal, direct, and equal suffrage by secret ballot without distinction of sex, race and religion. The presiding committee of the congress refused to read out the motion and replaced it by one drafted in a liberal-bourgeois spirit. The women workers walked out as a demonstration of protest.
  11. ↑ The First All-Russian Congress of Factory Medical Officers and Representatives of Manufacturing Industry convened on the initiative of the Moscow Society of Factory Medical Officers was held in Moscow on April 1-6 (14-19), 1909. Among its delegates were 52 workers elected by the trade unions chiefly of the big industrial centres (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev. Ekaterinoslav, Baku, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, etc.).
    According to its sponsors, the congress was to have been a “festival of reconciliation” between workers and capitalists. The Bolsheviks, however, who formed a majority of the working-class delegates, succeeded in getting the workers at the congress to take a class, proletarian line, despite the opposition of the liquidationist elements. Speaking on the concrete questions of sanitary and medical arrangements at the factories, the worker delegates exposed the ideas of “class peace” and social reform, and put for ward demands based on the programme of the Marxist party. These speeches were of great political significance and had repercussions throughout the country. Especially lively were the debates on the questions of sanitary inspection arrangements (the Bolsheviks’ draft resolution on this point was carried) and of the election of the factory inspection by the workers.
    The congress was unable to finish its work. After the police had demanded that no questions liable “to excite class struggle” should be touched on in the debates, and after they had forbidden the motion on the housing question to be put to the vote (since “it mentioned socialism and socialisation of the land”) and for bidden some of the worker delegates, including the Duma Deputy I. P. Pokrovsky, from continuing their speeches, all the workers and some of the doctors walked out of the congress hall. In view of this the presiding committee decided to close the congress.
  12. ↑ The resolutions on the trade unions and the co-operatives, and a number of resolutions on Duma activities, carried unanimouslyby the Central Committee. Support for the Party line by the overwhelming majority at the recent All-Russian Conference. The experience of conducting the Central Organ, the workers’ groups of the said congresses, etc. —Lenin
  13. ↑ The Mensheviks in Vyborg District of St. Petersburg.—Ed.