Letter from the Central Committee of the RSDLP to The Editors of Nashe Slovo
|Written||10 March 1915|
Published: First published in 1931, in Lenin Miscellany XVII. Published according to a copy made by N. K. Krupskaya.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 21, pages 165-170.
This document has no original heading. The title has been provided by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Central Committee, CPSU
We fully agree with you that the rallying of all genuine Social-Democratic internationalists is one of the most pressing tasks of the moment .... Before replying to your practical proposal, we consider it necessary to clarify with frankness certain preliminary questions, so as to know whether we are at one in the main issue. You are quite right in feeling indignant about Alexinsky, Plekhanov and the like having come out in the foreign press, claiming that theirs is “the voice of the Russian proletariat or of influential groups therein”. This must be fought against. To carry on the struggle, the root of the evil has to be got at. There cannot be the least doubt that there has not been, and there is not, any greater vice than the so-called system of representation of the notorious “trends” abroad. In this we can hardly lay the blame on the foreigners. Let us recall the recent past. Were not Alexinsky and Plekhanov (and not these two alone) given the opportunity, at the selfsame Brussels Conference (July 3, 1914), to depict themselves as “trends”? After this, can it be surprising that even now foreigners take them for representatives of “trends”? This evil cannot be countered with the aid of some declaration or another. What is needed is a long struggle. For that struggle to be successful, we must say to ourselves, once and for all, that we recognise only those organisations which for years have been linked up with the working masses, and have been empowered by recognised committees, etc., and that we brand, as deception of the workers, a system under which a half-dozen intellectuals who have brought out two or three issues of a newspaper or journal declare themselves a “trend”, or lay claim to “equal rights” with the Party.
Does agreement exist between us on this, comrades?
Then, about the internationalists. In one of your recent editorials, you enumerated those organisations which, in your opinion, hold an internationalist stand. High on that list is-the Bund. We would like to know what grounds you have to number the Bund among the internationalists. The resolution of its Central Committee does not contain a single definite word on the major problems of socialism. It breathes a most unprincipled eclecticism. The Bund’s organ (Information Bulletin) indubitably adheres to the standpoint of Germanophile chauvinism, or else gives a “synthesis” of French and German chauvinism. It was with good reason that an article by Kosovsky adorned the pages of Die Neue Zeit, a journal which (we hope you agree with us on this) is now among the most disreputable of the so-called “socialist” press organs.
We stand heart and soul for unity among all internationalists. We would very much like their number to be greater. We must not, however, go in for self-deception; we cannot count among the internationalists people and organisations whose internationalism exists only on paper.
What should be understood by internationalism? Is it, for instance, possible to number among the internationalists those who stand for the International being restored on the principle of a mutual “amnesty”? As you know, Kautsky is the leading representative of the “amnesty” theory. Victor Adior has come out in the same vein. We consider the adherents of an amnesty the most dangerous opponents of internationalism. Restored on the basis of an “amnesty”, the International would cheapen socialism. All concessions and all agreements with Kautsky and Co. are inexcusable. A most determined struggle against the “amnesty” theory is a conditio sine qua non of internationalism. It is vain to speak of internationalism if there is no desire and no readiness to make a complete break with the defenders of an “amnesty”. The question arises: does agreement on this fundamental issue exist between us? A negative attitude towards the “amnesty” policy seems to have been hinted at in your newspaper. You will, however, argee that before any practical steps can be made we are entitled to ask you to let us know in detail how you regard this issue.
Connected with this is the question of the attitude towards the Organising Committee. In our very first letter to you, we considered it necessary to tell you quite frankly that there are serious grounds to doubt the internationalism of that body. You have not made any attempt to dispel that opinion. We again ask you: what facts do you possess to consider that the Organising Committee adheres to an internationalist stand? It cannot be positively denied that Axelrod’s stand, set forth on several occasions in print, is patently chauvinist (almost Plekhanovite). Axelrod is without doubt the Organising Committee’s leading representative. Further, consider the Organising Committee’s official statements. Its report to the Copenhagen Conference was couched in a vein that led to its being published by the most extreme chauvinists in Germany. Statements by the Organising Committee’s “Secretariat Abroad” are much the same. At best, they say nothing that is definite. On the other hand, Larin—officially, on behalf of the Organising Committee and not of some kind of secretariat abroad—has made statements designed to defend chauvinism. What is there internationalist about this? Is it not clear that the Organising Committee adheres completely to the standpoint of a mutual “amnesty”?
Furthermore, what guarantees are there that the Organising Committee represents some force in Russia? Today, following the statement in Nasha Zarya, this question is most pertinent. For years, the Nasha Zarya group conducted their line; they brought out a daily paper, and went in for mass agitation of their own brand. But what about the Organising Committee?
We all acknowledge that the issue will be settled, not by the alignment of forces in groups abroad-in Zurich, Paris, etc.-but by the influence enjoyed among the workers of St. Petersburg and of all Russia. This should be kept in view, whatever the steps we take.
Such are the considerations we have wanted to inform you of. We shall be very glad to get a detailed and clear reply to all these questions. Then we shall be able to think of what is to come next.
- This refers to the Information Bulletin, an organ of the Bund Organization Abroad. It was published in Geneva from June 1911 to June 1916. In all, eleven issues appeared.
It was succeeded by the Bulletin of the Bund Committee Abroad. Only two issues appeared, in September and December 1916.
- See pages 125–28 of this volume.—Transcriber–DW —Lenin
- The reference is to the Copenhagen Conference of Socialists of Neutral Countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Holland), which took place on January 17-18, 1915, with the aim of restoring the Second International. The Conference resolved to appeal, through the socialist parties’ members of parliaments, to the respective governments, offering to act as mediators between the belligerent countries and attempt to bring about the termination of the war.