On the Question of the Bureau’s Next Steps

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A number of groups abroad, big, small and tiny, are making a lot of noise over the forthcoming sitting of the International Socialist Bureau on December 1 (14).[1] By the time Tuesday’s edition is out there will perhaps be some news, by cable, of the Bureau’s decision. I believe it to be my duty, therefore, to describe the state of affairs so as to prevent any false rumours and to make it possible to adopt the right tone at once.

The small and tiny groups abroad, who have no support in Russia (like Rosa Luxemburg and the Tyszka people, or Charles Rappoport, who recently wrote in a small French paper in the same spirit, or Alexinsky and the Vperyod group in Paris, etc., etc.), all these little groups are straining hard to have the Bureau take a vote for “unity”.

Of course, we too want unity!! The efforts of the little groups are a pathetic move to protect the liquidators. This move of theirs will fail: they will make a fuss and that’s as far as it will go.

What decision will the Bureau take? That is, of course, something we don’t know. But we were told by a very prominent member (or even a group of members) that f o r f o r m a l r e a s o n s the idea is to admit the liquidator OC, i n s t e a d o f Plekhanov, and from the Duma group, o n l y the Seven, or rather the Eight. These formal reasons are as follows: the parliamentary groups in every country do not represent the parties, but only themselves; let us say there are eight Socialist-Revolutionaries and seven Social-Democrats—then only the eight S.R.s. are sent in. Since that is so (that will be verified), nothing can, of course, be done f o r t h e t i m e b e i n g. Let the liquidators throw out Plekhanov—we shall see whether this is going to do them any good!!! I am Sure that it wil not.

That is why I strongly suggest that there should be no nervousness or excitement, either over the rumours being spread by the liquidators, or over any possible Bureau decisions. We have taken steps to have the reports on Russian affairs from London written through us (about non-Russian affairs directly to you)—c a l m l y wait for them and you will find that there was no need for any trip and that neither the barking nor the Bureau will rescue the “drowning men” (the liquidators).

There is private information that Plekhanov is not going.

This should not be printed just yet. I repeat: calmly wait for reports from your own correspondent.

  1. The December session of the International Socialist Bureau was held in London on December 13 and 14, 1913, and discus ad the unification of the British socialist and labour parties, the Vienna Congress, Russian affairs, etc. The question of uniting the Social-Democratic Party in Russia was brought up for debate just before the session closed. In view of the late hour, the question was not discussed in detail, and the Bureau confined itself to adopting a resolution motioned by Kautsky on behalf of the German delegation. It authorised the Executive Committee of the I.S.B. to call a conference of representatives of “all the factions of the working-class movement in Russia, including Russian Poland, who accept the Party Programme or whose programmes are in accord with the Social-Democratic Programme, for an exchange of opinion (Aussprache) over the issues on which they are divided”. Motivating the resolution, Kautsky said on December 1 (14) that the old Social-Democratic Party in Russia was dead. It was necessary to revive it, relying on the Russian workers’ desire for unity. In his article “A Good Resolution and a Bad Speech”, Lenin analysed the content of the resolution and said Kautsky’s speech was a monstrous one (see present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 528–30). Writing to Inessa Armand of the issue of Vorwärts which carried Kautsky’s statement, Lenin said: “You should get hold of it and organise a protest campaign. We are f o r an exchange of opinion, f o r the resolution of the I.S.B.—this NB—but we are absolutely against Kautsky’s scoundrelly phrase. He should be beaten unmercifully for this” (present edition, Vol. 35, p. 130). In a letter to the Bolshevik section in Paris, Lenin wrote: “It is most desirable that the section should adopt a s l a s h i n g resolution against Kautsky (calling his statement about the Party’s death, shameless, brazen, monstrous, ignorant)” (Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works, Vol. 48, p. 254).
    The same sitting of the I.S.B. en December 1 (14) heard Plekhanov’s letter saying that the split in the Duma group, which had taken place through the fault of the liquidators, was a blow at the unity of the labour movement and led him to resign as the representative of the whole Party in the I.S.B. His place on the I.S.B. was taken fry P. B. Axelrod, a representative of the liquidationist Organising Committee.
    At the conference held in Brussels in July 1914, under the I.S.B. decision, the leaders of the Second International, on the pretext of “reconciling” the Bolsheviks and the liquidators, demanded that the Bolsheviks should stop criticising the latter. The Bolsheviks refused to do so and continued their relentless struggle against the liquidators, who were enemies of the labour movement. p. 299