Golos (Voice) of the Liquidators Against the Party
|Written||11 March 1910|
Published between March 12–16 (25-29) as a separate print from the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat No. 12. Published according to the text in Sotsial-Demokrat, checked with the text of the separate reprint.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 16, pages 156-164.
The article “Golos (Voice) of the Liquidators Against the Party” was written by Lenin as an editorial for No. 12 of the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat. The article was issued as a separate print in the second half of March and afterwards published in the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat.
Reply To Golos Sotsial-Demokrata[edit source]
Golos Sotsial-Demokrata No. 19–20 and the manifesto of Comrades Axelrod, Dan, Martov and Martynov, published separately under the heading “Letter to the Comrades”, are so much in the nature of a bomb intended to disrupt the Party immediately after the unity plenum that we are forced to come forward with an immediate, although brief and incomplete, warning, and to address a caution to all Social-Democrats.
We shall begin with the fact that Golos Sotsial-Demokratadirects its fire at us, at the editorial board of the Central Organ. It accuses us, through the mouth of Comrade Martov, of relegating his article to Diskussionny Listok. “My article does not discuss the decisions of the plenum at all,” writes Comrade Martov and he lays stress on this; the same thing is repeated word for word in the “Letter to the Comrades”
Anyone who cares to read Comrade Martov’s article head ed “On the Right Path”, will see that it directly discusses the decisions of the plenum, directly opposes the decisions on the composition of the Central Organ, and gives a detailed justification of the theory of the equality of trends, of the “neutralisation” of trends. The glaring untruth uttered by Comrade Martov and the whole editorial board of Golos in alleging that this controversial article “does not discuss” the decisions of the plenum looks like a downright mockery of Party decisions.
If anyone is unclear about the difference between discussing the decisions of the plenum and conscientiously implementing the line of the plenum in the Central Organ itself, we invite such people, and particularly the Mensheviks, to reflect on Comrade Plekhanov’s instructive article in the current issue of the Central Organ and on the no less instructive No. 11 of Dnevnik Sotsial-Demokrata by the same author. A Menshevik who does not want to flout the Party decision and Party unity cannot deny that in Dnevnik Comrade Plekhanov discusses the decisions of the plenum, where as in the article “In Defence of Underground Activity” he defends the Party line. How can one fail to understand this difference unless one is pursuing the malicious aim of disrupting the decisions of the plenum?
But it is not enough that Comrade Martov and the whole editorial board of Golos utter a glaring untruth in alleging that the article “On the Right Path” does not discuss the decisions of the plenum. The article contains something far worse. It is based entirely on the theory of equality of the illegal Party, i.e., the RSDLP, on the one hand, and of the legalists, who have broken away from the Party, yet want to be called Social-Democrats, on the other. The article is based entirely on the theory of a split between these “two parts” of the working-class vanguard, these “two parts of Social-Democracy”, which should unite on the same principles of “equality and neutralisation” on which all parts of a whole that have split up always unite!
Shortage of space prevents us from adding to the quotations confirming this description of Martov’s views. This will be done in a series of other articles, if it is at all necessary, for scarcely anyone will dare to deny that Martov puts forward the “theory of equality”.
Yet this new theory is in direct opposition to the decisions of the plenum; more than that, it is a downright mockery of them. The meaning of these decisions, which is clear to all who are conscientiously fulfilling the decisions of the plenum, is that what has to be done away with is the split between the pro-Party Mensheviks and the pro-Party Bolsheviks, the split between these ancient factions, and by no means the “split” between all the legalists in general and our illegal RSDLP The legalists who have broken away from the Party are not at all to be regarded as a “part of Social-Democracy” similar to the Party or on a par with the Party. On the contrary, they are being called back to the Party on the definitely expressed condition that they break with liquidationism (i.e., legalism at all costs) and come over to the Party standpoint, to the “Party way of life”. The Central Committee’s letter on the conference, this official commentary on the resolutions of the plenum, one which is absolutely binding on the Party, says with the utmost clarity that it is the illegal organisations that must judge whether the legalists are in actual fact pro-Party, i.e., it specifically rejects the “theory of equality"!
By a specific decision of the plenum this letter of the Central Committee was drawn up by a special committee consisting of Comrades Grigory, Innokenty and Martov. The letter was endorsed unanimously by the whole of this committee. Now Comrade Martov, as if inspired by some evil spirit, performs a volte-face, writes an article wholly imbued with a directly opposite theory, and in addition complains, as if in mockery of the Party, when this article is declared controversial!
It is quite obvious that this theory of equality, which is expressed in all the other articles of Golos still more sharply and crudely than in the case of Martov, leads in fact to the Party being subordinated to the liquidators, for the legalist who sets himself against the illegal Party, considering him self on a par with it, is nothing but a liquidator. The “equality” between an illegal Social-Democrat who is persecuted by the police and a legalist who is safeguarded by his legality and his divorce from the Party is in fact the “equality” between the worker and the capitalist.
All this is so apparent, Golos’s contemptuous treatment of the decision of the plenum and of the explanation of this decision in the Central Committee’s letter is so obvious, that Martov’s article can only be called one that points out the “true path” ... to the victory of the liquidators over the Party.
The pro-Party Mensheviks have already seen this danger. The proof is No. 14 of Dnevnik Sotsial-Demokrata, in which the Menshevik Plekhanov, who had only read the plenum resolutions and had not yet seen the Central Committee’s “Letter”, expressly points out that in the case of an “inattentive attitude” to the text of the resolution on the legalists, who are “ready to establish a firm organisational connection with the local Party centres”, “the ‘liquidators’ may find here a convenient loophole for themselves” (p. 20).
Is it not evident that Plekhanov has an excellent knowledge of his Golosists? He has pointed out the very same loophole of the liquidators that Golos Sotsial-Demokrata No. 19–20 has been “working on” with all its might, in almost all its articles, from the first line to the last. Are we not entitled to call it the “voice” of the liquidators?
The lengths to which the Golosists go in their defence of liquidationism can be seen from the following passage in the “Letter to the Comrades”: ... “The Central Organ ... has to win the confidence both of the viable elements of the old underground organisations ... [the underground Party organisations display full confidence in both the Central Committee and the Central Organ; it is ridiculous to speak of “winning” here] ... and of the new legal organisations which are now the chief centre [there you have it!] of Social-Democratic work.” Thus the legalists who have broken away from the Party are the chief centre. It is not they who have to win the confidence of the Party, to become pro-Party in reality, to join the Party, to return to the Party principle, but the Party in the shape of the Central Organ which has to “win their confidence”—evidently by that hidden defence of liquidationism, that preparation of loopholes for liquidationism, which we see in Golos!!
The whole of Comrade F. Dan’s article “The Fight for Legality” is imbued with the spirit of liquidationism, going as far as downright reformism. By saying that “the fight for legality” is “one of the principal revolutionary tasks”, that it is the “banner”, etc., Comrade Dan, defends not the Social-Democratic but the Cadet point of view. Comrade Dan proclaims “illegal solidarity as an essential weapon in the fight for legality”. This is in the Cadet spirit. For the Cadets the Party is illegal, but their illegality is merely “an essential weapon in the fight for legality”. For the Social-Democrats legal solidarity is at the present time one of the essential weapons of the illegal Party.
... “Only in the light of this [the fight for legality], in its name, is it possible at the present time for the proletariat to wage a struggle which sets itself ... the aim ... of overthrowing the autocracy....”
This argument again must be turned inside-out for it to become a Social-Democratic argument. Only in the light of the struggle to overthrow the autocracy, only in its name, is Social-Democratic work in legal organisations really possible. Only in the name of the struggle for the uncurtailed revolutionary demands of the proletariat, only in the light of the programme and tactics of revolutionary Marxism, is it possible for Social-Democrats to make really successful use of all legal opportunities, is it possible and necessary to defend these opportunities with the utmost determination, and to convert them into strongpoints for our Party work.
But this too is not all. The Golosists act in direct contradiction to the decisions of the plenum when they come for ward in their letter and in their newspaper with agitation for the continuance of “Golos” in spite of the decisions of the Central Committee. We are not going to examine here the ludicrous and miserable sophistry by which they seek to justify the breach of a Party decision. We prefer to confine ourselves—at least in the present short article—to a reference to the voice of pro-Party Menshevism, to No. 11 of Dnevnik. Comrade Plekhanov foresaw also this loophole of the liquidators, saying frankly, simply and clearly something that no loyal Social-Democrat can doubt. “The agitation against the closing down of Golos,” he writes on p. 18, is “an agitation against the abolition of the faction, i.e., for reducing to naught the chief possible result of the Central Committee’s plenary meeting.” What does Golos Sotsial-Demokrata represent for the Mensheviks of the trend concerned? It is their actual factional—and moreover irresponsible—centre.
Precisely so. To reduce unity to naught—that is what the concern of Golos No. 19–20 and of the manifesto of the four editors of Golos against the decisions of the plenum amounts to. After the unity plenum they came out with a much more open and much more impudent defence of liquidationism than prior to it. When their manifesto tells the Mensheviks that the letter of the CC Bureau Abroad to the groups, which calls for the creation of real unity, was adopted against the votes of the Menshevik and Bundist members of the Bureau Abroad, everyone realises that we are confronted with a poorly disguised call for non-compliance with this letter and for disruption of unity abroad. Let the pro-Party Mensheviks who condemn the Golosists pass from condemnation to action if they want at all costs to uphold Party unity. This unity depends now on the pro-Party Mensheviks, on their readiness and ability to wage an open fight both against the foreign and the Russian “actual centre” of the Golosist liquidators.
This Russian centre, the Russian M.C. (Menshevik centre) comes out plainly in Golos No. 19–20 with an “Open Letter” in which Plekhanov is declared “a liquidator of the ideas of Menshevism”. The Mensheviks’ withdrawal from the Party is explained—it would be more correct to say, is justified—by the “universally known phenomenon of the necrosis of the Party units”!! Those who withdraw—the manifesto of the M.C. tells us—are “falsely called liquidators” (p. 24 of Golos).
We ask any Social-Democrats who are at all capable of impartiality we ask particularly working-class Social-Democrats, irrespective of trends, whether the appearance of such a manifesto of the M.C. on the morrow of the plenum does not reduce to naught the efforts for unity.
We consider it our duty to inform the whole Party of the names of those who signed this famous document, which, we are sure, will have the ill-fame attaching to the name of Herostratus: 1) Avgustovsky, 2) Anton, 3) Vadim, 4) V. Petrova, 5) Georgy, 6) Georg, 7) Yevg. Ha-az, 8) Kramolnikov, 9) D. Koltsov, 10) Nat. Mikhailova, 11) Roman, 12) Romul, 13) Solomonov, 14) Cherevanin (of course!), 15) Yuzi, 16) Y. P-y
“These signatories,” says the editorial board of Golos, “are old Party workers, well-known to the editorial board; some of them have held responsible posts in the Party.”
These names, we reply, will be nailed to the pillory by all class-conscious Social-Democratic workers when they read Golos S. D. No. 19–20, when they learn the decisions of the plenum, when they become aware of the following fact:
The Russian Bureau of the CC has recently sent an official letter to the CCB.A. (the executive organ abroad of the Central Committee). This letter states in so many words:
... “We made a proposal to Comrades Mikhail, Roman and Yuri [we stressed these names above] that they should set to work, but we received a reply from them saying that not only do they consider the decisions of the plenum harmful but they find the very existence of the CC harmful. On these grounds, they refuse even to appear at any meeting for co-optation” ....
(Let us make it clear for our own part: the chiefs of the Menshevik centre not only themselves refuse to support the CC, but they refuse to appear for co-opting other Mensheviks, for co-opting Menshevik workers, being very well aware that the refusal to appear for the co-optation will hold up the work of the CC, will hold up its formation, and will compel the CC to postpone, perhaps for months, the very commencement of its work as a CC)
Thus the same people who declare in print, with the assistance and approval of Axelrod, Dan, Martov and Martynov, that Plekhanov “falsely calls them ‘liquidators’” are directly disrupting the very existence of the CC and are proclaiming its existence harmful.
The same people who are exclaiming in the illegal press (through Golos) and in the legal press (through the liberals) about “the universally known phenomenon of the necrosis of the Party units”, are themselves disrupting attempts to put in order, restore and set going these Party units and even such a Party unit as the Central Committee.
Let all Social-Democrats be aware now who the manifesto of Comrades Axelrod, Dan, Martov and Martynov is alluding to when it speaks of “leaders of the legal movement who have now occupied the advanced posts of the militant proletariat”. Let all Social-Democrats be aware now who it is that the editorial board of Golos is addressing when it writes: “We should like the comrades [of the type of Mikhail, Roman and Yuri] to appreciate the breach which has been made in the official dogma that has actually condemned the Party organisation to inevitable decay, and to attempt to occupy the positions that have been opened to them [Mikhail, Roman, Yuri and the like] owing to this breach.”
We address ourselves to all organisations, to all groups of our Party, and we ask them: do they intend to tolerate this flouting of Social-Democracy? Is it permissible now to remain passive spectators of what is taking place, or is it obligatory for them to undertake a resolute fight against the trend that is undermining the very existence of the Party?
We ask all Russian Social-Democrats: can they now still remain in doubt as to the practical, real political significance of the “theory of equality” of trends, of the equality of the legalists and the illegal Party, of the theory of the “fight for legality”, etc., etc.?
These theories, these arguments, these loopholes, are the verbal shield behind which are concealed such enemies of Social-Democracy as those like Mikhail, Roman and Yuri, such political accomplices of them as the sixteen Herostratean Mensheviks, such ideological leaders as the literati who conduct the “Voice of the Liquidators”.
And so, No. 19–20 of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata and the splitting manifesto of the four editors of Golos, “To the Comrades”, is direct agitation:
for a factional organ against unity,
against unity abroad,
in defence of flagrant liquidationism,
in defence of the downright opponents of the very existence of the CC
Against the Party![edit source]
The conspiracy against the Party is revealed. Let all to whom the existence of the RSDLP is dear come to the aid of the Party!
- Diskussionny Listok (Discussion Bulletin)—a supplement to Sotsial-Demokrat, the Central Organ of the RSDLP It was published in Paris by a decision of the January (1910) plenum of the Central Committee of the RSDLP from March 6 (19), 1910 to April 29 (May 12), 1911; three numbers were issued.
- See No. 11 of the Central Organ, pp. 11–12: “Only the local organisations can ensure that this additional representation is extended solely to real (the “Letter’s” italics) pro-Party elements; our local workers will judge not only by the words of these leaders of the legal movement, but also by their deeds, and will exert every effort so that only those are drawn in who in essence are even now part of our Party, who wish to join our Party organisation in order really to work in it, to strengthen it, to subordinate themselves to it and serve it”, etc. —Lenin
- Grigory—G. Y. Zinoviev.
- Innokenty—I. F. Dubrovinsky.
- The Letter of the Central Committee Bureau Abroad of the RSDLP. “To All Comrades Abroad” was published as a separate leaflet on March 3 (16), 1910.
The Central Committee Bureau Abroad (CCBA) was set, up by the plenum of the Central Committee of the RSDLP in August 1908 as the general representative body of the Party abroad, subordinate and accountable to the Russian Bureau of the Central Committee. Shortly after the January plenum, a liquidationist majority developed among the members of the CCB.A., and the CCB.A. became a centre for mobilising anti-Party forces. The liquidationist tactics of the CCB.A. compelled the Leninist Bolsheviks to recall their representative from it in May 1911. A little later the representatives of the Polish and Lettish Social-Democrats were recalled. In January 1912 the CCB.A. dissolved itself.
- The reference is to the “Open Letter” advocating liquidationist views, signed by the Mensheviks: Avgustovsky—S. 0. Tsederbaum-Yezhov; Anton—M. S. Makadzyub; Vadim—V. K. Ikov; V. Petrova—L. N. Radchenko; Georgy—B. S. Tseitlin-Batursky; Georg—V. 0. Tsederbaum- Levitsky; Yevg. Ha-az—V. A. Gutovsky-Mayevsky; Kramolnikov—G. I. Prigorny; D. Koltsov—B. A. Ginsburg; Nat. Mikhailova—R. S. Galbershtadt; Roman—K. M. Yermolayev; Romul—M. L. Kheisin; Solomonov—S. I. Portugeis; Cherevanin—F. A. Lipkin; Yuri—P. A, Bronshtein; Y. P-y—Y. A. Piletsky.
- Mikhail—the Menshevik liquidator I. A. Isuv.
- We shall cite in addition all the passages of the letters (of the Russian Bureau of the CC and of one of the CC members operating in Russia [V. P. Nogin]) relating to the convocation of the CC in Russia:
... “We request Comrades Martov and the Menshevik members the CC to communicate to us immediately the names and addresses of the comrades whom they propose to co-opt (the St. Petersburg Mensheviks have refused to do this)”.... “It is impossible for the time being to convene the Russian collegium: practically no one has agreed to be co-opted, at present only one Bolshevik has agreed, and that conditionally. The Mensheviks (Mikhail, Roman and Yuri) have categorically refused, considering the work of the Central Commit tee harmful. The resolutions of the plenum, in the opinion of Mikhail and others, are also harmful. The interference of the CC in the spontaneous process of the grouping of Social-Democratic forces in legal organisations that is now taking place is, in their words, like plucking the fruit from the mother’s womb after two months’ pregnancy. We ask you immediately to indicate to us other comrades to whom we may address a proposal that they should be co-opted. It is also desirable to publish the attitude of the comrades to this behaviour of Mikhail and the others.” —Lenin