Introduction to the Pamphlet Two Parties

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 20 July 1911


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Published in August 1911, in the pamphlet entitled Two Parties, Paris, published by Rabochaya Gazeta. Published according to the text of the pamphlet.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 17, pages 225-228.
Collection(s): Rabochaya Gazeta

Kamenev’s pamphlet represents a systematised summary of the material on the struggle against the liquidationist trend waged during the period of counter-revolution by the Bolsheviks and, following their lead, by the whole RSDLP Quite naturally, Kamenev devotes most of his space to an elucidation of the divergence on questions of principle between Social-Democracy and the liquidationist trend, a subject to which Proletary[1] and the Central Organ of the Party, Sotsial-Demokrat, also devoted most of their space during the period from 1908 to 1911.

Kamenev has proved conclusively that, in point of fact, the liquidationist group represents a separate party, not the R.S.D.L. Party. His evidence sums up the experience primarily of the years 1909–11, which confirmed the resolution of December 1908. That resolution, which was moved and carried by the Bolsheviks on behalf of the RSDLP, had already declared that the liquidators were endeavouring tosubstitute” for the RSDLP an “amorphous” legally existing federation. That amorphous legally existing federation of Potresov, Larin, Levitsky and Co. (with Mr. Martov and the Golos group abroad trailing behind), has now fully revealed itself. It is a group of literary men who have nothing in common with the RSDLP, and who pursue, not a Social-Democratic, but a liberal labour policy. They are the leading lights of a Stolypin “labour” party.

It is a feature specific of Russia at the turn of the century that we often meet with cases of extremely rapid and sometimes very “unexpected” transition from Marxism to liberalism. The Economists and Credo—Mr. Struve and Co.—the liquidators, are all rungs of one ladder, stages in a single process of evolution, expressions of the same tendency. The party of the working class in Russia began to form shortly before the Revolution of 1905; now, in the period of counter-revolution, this party is being reconstructed, and to a certain extent built anew, on a more solid foundation. The bourgeois intelligentsia, attracted to the revolution by the knowledge that Russia has not yet passed through the epoch of democratic revolutions, has been joining the proletariat group after group—and group after group has again deserted the proletariat, having found out through experience that they cannot live up to revolutionary Marxism, that their real place is outside the ranks of the Social-Democratic Party. Such are our liquidators, too, some of whom are already speaking quite clearly, bluntly, and frankly of a new party they are creating.

Otzovism and liquidationism, while similar in the sense that both represent non-Social-Democratic, bourgeois trends, differ materially in respect of the fate that attended their political evolution. Otzovism was nipped in the bud by the Bolsheviks, and it has not gone so far as to attempt to create a party of its own; today it represents an insignificant group abroad, whose activity has been reduced to aiding the liquidators in their intrigues and struggle against the RSDLP The liquidationist trend, on the other hand, has its centre (in the first place, political, and then organisational) in Russia; it has created a party of its own, even though it is an amorphous one (so far it is amorphous). That is why it has been necessary for Kamenev to dwell at length on the liquidationist tendency and to touch upon otzovism only in passing.

There are not many people among the adherents of the RSDLP capable of sincerely defending the liquidationist trend.[2] Unfortunately, there are still quite a number of people who are sincerely opposed to liquidationism, but do not understand the conditions under which the struggle against it has to be waged. Of course, they say, liquidationism is a bourgeois trend in the Social-Democratic movement; but why not fight it in the ranks of a single party, just as the Germans fight the Bernsteinians? Why not try to come to an “agreement” with the liquidators?

Our champions of “agreement” fail to understand a very important and very simple thing: the liquidators are not only opportunists (like Bernstein and Co.); they are also trying to build a separate party of their own, they have is sued the slogan that the RSDLP does not exist; they pay no heed whatever to the decisions of the RSDLP That is the difference between us and “Europe”, and only people who have not given sufficient thought to the question, or who are not acquainted with Russian conditions, can invoke the example of “Europe”. In Europe, an opportunist guilty of but one-tenth of what the Potresovs, Igorevs, Bers, Martovs, Dans, and their like have done and are doing against their Party and in defiance of its decisions would not be tolerated in the ranks of the party a single month. In Europe the parties function openly, and it is possible to see at once whether one belongs to an organisation and submits to its decisions.

Our Party is illegal. It is impossible to “see”, and it is impermissible (unless one is an agent of the secret police) to talk openly of whether X, Y, or Z belongs to the organisation. But it is a fact that the Potresovs do not belong to the organisation, and that they sneer at all its decisions, just as the Golos people do. How can we come to an “agreement” with the Potresovs who have proved that as far as they are concerned the Party does not exist? Or with the Martovs and Dans who have proved the same thing? What can we agree on with the liquidators, unless it is the destruction of the RSDLP?

Let the advocates of “agreement” try to name the terms of agreement with the liquidators, the means of exercising control over the fulfilment of the terms, the facts proving that they would be fulfilled. They can name none of these. And therefore it is beyond any doubt that references to “agreement” are nothing but idle and puerile talk. This talk only helps the intrigues of the circles abroad (such as the Vperyod and Golos circles, and the Trotskyites), who have fully demonstrated that they ignore the decisions of the Party, and that they refuse to give up an iota of their “freedom” to support the liquidators.

In Russia, in the meantime, the illegal workers’ circles have been drawing away from the liquidators, and are dissociating themselves from them to an ever greater extent with each passing day, at the same time slowly and laboriously building up the revolutionary RSDLP The task of the adherents of the Social-Democratic Labour Party is to help these circles, to translate the decisions of the RSDLP into practical work, and to put an end to the game of agreement with the windbags abroad (the Golos group, the strongest group abroad, are also mere windbags). Membership of the Party means fighting for the Party. All talk about “agreement” with the liquidators who are building a non-Social-Democratic party, is a violation of the duty deriving from Party membership.

August 2, 1911

N. Lenin

P.S. It should be added that the analysis of the “charges” levelled against the Bolshevik Centre, given in the Appendix, represents our collective opinion and has been elaborated on the basis of material and documents in the hands of the Bolshevik Centre, as well as on the basis of information sup plied by comrades of the Bolshevik Centre who personally conducted some of its affairs.

N. Lenin

  1. Proletary—an illegal newspaper founded by the Bolsheviks after the Fourth (Unity) Congress of the Party. Published from August 21 (September 3), 1906 to November 28 (December 11), 1909 under Lenin’s editorship. The organ of the Moscow and St. Petersburg Party Committees, and for a time also of the Moscow District, Perm, Kursk and Kazan Committees, Proletary was actually the Bolshevik Central Organ. Altogether fifty issues appeared (the first twenty in Vyborg, Finland). From February 13 (26) to December 11 (14), 1908, Proletary was published in Geneva, and from January 8 (21) to November 28 (December 11), 1909, in Paris.
    Proletary carried over one hundred articles and shorter items by Lenin. During the Stolypin reaction it played an outstanding part in preserving and strengthening the Bolshevik organisations.
  2. Obviously it would be ridiculous to talk of sincerity on the part of the Golos group abroad. They are past masters at blackmail and slander, with gentry like Martov in the lead in this respect. The decision arrived at by Kautsky, Mehring and Zetkin that the disputed funds be turned over, not to the Central Committee Bureau Abroad, but to the Technical Commission[3] (see Bulletin of the Organising Commission, August 1, 1911), means complete vindication of Comrade Alexandrov and all the Bolsheviks (who are fully in agreement with Alexandrov) and complete condemnation of the foul slander spread by Martov, Dan, Martynov and Axelrod. We also draw readers’ attention to Comrade Victor’s[4] letter printed in the Appendix. It shows what vile means Mr. Martov and his abettors stoop to in their fight against political adversaries. —Lenin