Letter from the Committee of Organisations Abroad to the Sections of the RSDLP
First published in 1937 in Lenin Miscellany XXX.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, pubdate??, Moscow, Volume 22, pages 157-160
The recent No. 25 issue (the second to come out during the war) of Gazeta Robotnicza, the organ of the opposition of the Polish Social-Democratic Party, carries the resolutions of their conference (a conference of the Editorial Board) adopted back in June 1915.
These resolutions clearly show that as a body (we say nothing of its members as individuals, some of whom are doing extremely useful work in the German Social-Democratic press), the Polish Social-Democrats are once again vacillating in a most spineless manner.
There’s not a word against Kautskyism, not a word about any determined and resolute struggle against opportunism, as the source and buttress of social-chauvinism!! This can be read in one way only: they are prepared once again (as in Brussels, July 3-16, = 1914) “to play ball” with the Kautskyites.
We quote the main (IV) resolution in full. Here it is:
Gazeta Robotnicza P.S.D. (of the opposition) No. 25 (January 1916). “Resolutions of the Editorial Board conference held on June 1-2, 1915.”
IV. The Attitude of the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania to the RSDLP
“The Polish revolutionary Social-Democrats regard the Central Committee of the R.S.D. L.P, as a body consisting of the most resolute revolutionary internationalist elements in Russia, and, while leaving it to the regional organisation to settle its organisational relations with. it in the future, will give it political support and co-ordinate their activity with it.
“The common revolutionary stand of the Polish Social-Democrats and the Central Committee on the main essential [wytycznych (definite?)] points of their policy makes it incumbent on the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania to continue taking a critical attitude to its obvious tactical exaggerations [wybujatości (“wild” growth of corn, etc.)].
“While justly desiring to emphasise the proletariat’s unquestionably hostile attitude to tsarism’s plunderous policy, the Central Committee puts forward the slogan of Russia’s defeat, basing it on the especially reactionary part tsarism has to play in Europe and the specific significance of a Russian revolution; however, this brings the Central Committee into contradiction with the method of internationalism, which does not allow proletarian hopes and tasks to be pinned on any definite outcome of the war, and even provides the German social-patriots with arguments.
“While justly noting the need for revolutionary action to build a new international, while justly opposing every attempt to gloss over the conflict, and piece together the broken old international, the CC, however, overrate the importance of automatically fencing themselves off from all less resolute elements which do not accept their standpoint a priori, and forget [przeocta] that the task of the revolutionary camp [obozu] must not be to repulse these elements but to draw them into the struggle against the fraud [szalbierstwem] of social-patriotism, and to promote their radicalisation by sharply criticising their ideological instability.
“As for the OC (RSDLP), the conference [narada] reaffirms that its main group, which is in Russia, and also its literary representative [ekspozytura lileracka] take the social-patriotic standpoint, and that its weak internationalist wing has neither the strength nor the courage to break with the social-patriots, and that the OC Centre takes the pacifist standpoint; the conference considers that the attitude of the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania to the OC can consist exclusively of criticism of its position, promoting its disintegration [rozktadu] and separating from the OC its internationalist elements grouped around Nashe Slovo, an organ which has done a great deal to elaborate [crysiallise] internationalist-revolutionary views in the ranks of the RSDLP
“The same applies, in particular, also to the Bund, which is a part of the OC, for its attitude is an even greater chaotic mixture of social-patriotic and pacifist, Russophile and Germanophile elements.”
The Polish Social-Democrats say here that they wish to “co-ordinate” their activity with the Central Committee.
We believe it to he our unquestionable duty to toll the Central Committee this: title Central Committee must not and cannot “co-ordinate” their activity with the P.S,D.
Because the P.S.D. is vacillating again and again, for the nth time (or playing a game, which is objectively the same thing) on our Party’s cardinal question. There is no doubt that the key issue in the Russian Social-Democratic movement today is that of the split.
On this point we are adamant, because the entire experience of the Social-Democratic movement in Russia, especially in the 1903-09 period, and even more between 1910 and 1914, and most of all in the years 1915 and 1916, has served to convince us that unity with the OC (or with the Chkheidze group, which is the same thing) is harmful to the working-class movement, and, ensures its subjugation to the bourgeoisie.
The war and Gvozdyovism have provided the final proof.
But it is on this chief, basic and fundamental issue that the Polish Social-Democrats are again equivocating.
They say not a word about the war having convinced them of the need for a split and of tire erroneousness of their tactics at Brussels (July 3–16, 1914).
On the contrary, they have inserted in the resolution a phrase which looks as if it had been deliberately worded to justify and do another “Brussels” desertion to the OC or Chkheidze. Here it is:
“The Central Committee overrate the importance of automatically fencing themselves off....”
That is the whole point. The rest is just rhetoric. If the Central Committee “overrate” the need for a split, it is clear that the P.S.D. are entitled today or tomorrow to vote again for another Brussels-Kautskyite “unity” resolution.
It is the same old Tyszka trick, the old game Between the CC and the OC, the old eclectical (to put it mildly) use of the pendulum position.
We have no objection at all to working with the P.S.D., either in general, or in the Zimmerwald Left in particular; nor do we defend every fetter of our resolutions; but we are adamant on (1) the split in Russia and (2) that there be no reconciliation with Kautskyism in Europe. We consider it to be our duty to warn all comrades that the Polish Social Democrats are unreliable, and to insist that the CC must not let itself he drawn once again into a repetition of “Brussels” experiments, or trust the authors of these experiments or participants in them.
With comradely greetings, COA
- The Gazeta Robotnicza resolution was translated by N. K. Krupskaya, The words in bold-face type here are Lenin’s additions and corrections to the translation from the Polish.—Ed.