Rosa Luxemburg and the Polish “Partei” Vorstand in Martov’s Wake

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The article, written in September 1912, dealt with the state of affairs in the Social-Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, which was split. One section consisted of those who supported the Party’s Chief. Executive headed by Rosa Luxemburg and J. Tyszka—the so-called “Zarzadists”. On the whole, the Chief Executive took an internationalist stand and waged a struggle kit Poland against nationalism and reformism, but followed an erroneous line on the struggle within the RSDLP, taking a conciliatory attitude to the Menshevik liquidators; it tended to detach itself from the general Party life and weakened contacts with the RSDLP Central Committee, despite the fact that the Social-Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania was an autonomous organisation within the RSDLP In the struggle against the mistakes of the Chief Executive, there took shape an opposition represented by the so-called “Rozlamists”, who relied on the Party’s Warsaw organisation headed by former members of the Chief Executive I. Hanecki, A. Malecki and others. Rozlamists were in close contact with the Bolsheviks and supported their action. Lenin said that in that period the Warsaw organisation was the strongest and most consistently revolutionary of all the organisations of the Polish Social-Democrats (see Lenin’s article “The Split Among the Polish Social-Democrats”, Vol. 18, pp. 479–83).

The article was aimed against the erroneous line of the Chief Executive, which objectively inflicted grave harm on the unity of the working-class movement in Russia as a whole and played into the hands of the anti-Bolshevik trends in the RSDLP While criticising the grave errors of Rosa Luxemburg and J. Tyszka, Lenin put a great value on their activity and tried to help them to take a correct stand. Lenin was known to regard Rosa Luxemburg as an outstanding leader of the Polish, German and the entire international working-class movement. He wrote later that for all her mistakes, Rosa Luxemburg was “an eagle” and that “Communists all over the world cherish her memory” (see present edition, Vol. 33, p. 210).

The article was written for the Bremer Bürger-Zeitung which was under the influence of the Left-wing Social-Democrats; it was translated into German by Malecki (see Lenin, Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works, Vol. 48, Document 72). The article was not published. p. 255

Rosa Luxemburg’s statement in Vorwärts (on September 14) in defence of the so-called Polish Vorstand and carrying charges against Comrade Radek has forced me to take up the pen despite my great unwillingness to interfere in this matter. I cannot remain silent. when the struggle against the liquidators of the Russian Party is being used to vindicate the worst methods of the liquidators.

I have personally witnessed Comrade Radek’s vacillation from defence of the extreme Left to defence of the Russian liquidators; I have always fought and will continue to fight politically against all those who defend liquidationism, but that is precisely why I must stand up against the disgusting methods used by the so-called Polish Vorstand in the Radek “affair”[1]

What is the principal specific of Martov’s “well-known” (bekannt) pamphlet, of which Rosa Luxemburg makes such opportune mention?[2]

It is that Martov, the leader of the liquidators, after all the Social-Democrats of Russia, in January 1910, solemnly and unanimously accepted the condemnation of liquidationism and after peace in the Party was proclaimed on the basis of this condemnation[3]—a year later, when the liquidators destroyed the Party’s CC and split away from the Party—Martov put out a pamphlet accusing his opponents of 1,001 dishonest and criminal offences. At the time the Poles called this pamphlet a “stinkbomb”, and even (sogar, and not selbst) Kautsky called it “abscheulich”.[4]

The very same thing has now been done by the so-called Polish Vorstand with Rosa Luxemburg at its head.

Comrade Radek was recommended t o m e p e r s o n a l l y, in 1909 and 1910, as a fitting c o l l a b o r a t o r f o r o u r Party’s C. 0. and was personally introduced to me, with the best of references, at the International Congress at Copenhagen, by the selfsame members of this very Vorstand.

But then, in 1911, Comrade Radek took a political stand against this Vorstand, supporting the Party’s Warsaw Committee, a number of Party members and two of its prominent leaders (Malecki and Hanecki), who exposed the Vorstand for disorganising activity. Comrade Radek helped to establish the truth, namely, that the Polish Parteivorstand is a Vorstand without a party. In Warsaw, the capital of Poland, this Vorstand no longer represents the Warsaw Committee, but its own fictitious little group. The German comrades will soon learn about all this in greater detail. Members of the Russian Social-Democratic Party are aware that there is already a whole literature about it, and it is futile on Rosa Luxemburg’s part to hush it up (totzuschweigen) before the International!

After Radek took his political stand against the so-called Parteivorstand (without a party), this “Partei”vorstand cooked up a “trial” against Radek over a “case”—listen to this!—dating back to 1 9 0 6!

That is the crux of the matter, and that is what our illustre[5] Rosa has been trying wegzuschwatzen![6]

Rosa Luxemburg and her “Partei”vorstand are currently conducting an unprecedentedly fierce fight against their own party’s best workers, stooping so low as to throw out suspicions of their connection with the secret police. Rosa Luxemburg and her “Partei”vorstand have lost their head waging such a war against their political opponents.

Is it not now clear why, without going into the substance of the “Radek affair”, I consider it to be my duty to declare that the substance of the case is political revenge by Rosa Luxemburg and her “Partei”vorstand?

Certain methods were described in Russian literature by Turgenev long ago. One old rascal, he wrote, once gave this wise advice: when doing something base, see that you shout loudest about the baseness of the acts you are yourself committing. When robbing the public till, be sure to shout loudest about the vileness of embezzlement....

When the Polish “Partei”vorstand stooped to a repetition of Martov’s methods against Comrade Radek—the “Partei” (v)orstand got Rosa Luxemburg to raise the greatest possible noise in Vorwärts about Martov’s baseness!... Es ist eine alte Geschichte,[7] but for us Russian émigrés ist sie leider gar nicht “neu”[8] ....

Rosa Luxemburg has been trying to assure her German readers that Comrade Radek “nie die geringste Rolle gespielt hat”,[9] and so on, and so forth. It is my duty to reply to this elenden Altweiberklatsch[10] and state the precise facts: in 1909 and 1910, Comrade Radek did a great deal of successful work as a contributor to the Central Organ of the Social-Democratic Party of Russia. I was one of the editors of the Central Organ and I cannot let Rosa Luxemburg’s malicious bit of gossip go unanswered.

In order to denigrate Comrade Radek, Rosa Luxemburg praises herself under the name of “polnische Wortführer”.[11] She puts out a hint that Comrade Radek’s “taktischen Ideen”[12] are tenuous.

Let me say right away that I consider this tenuousness, this readiness to have “peace” with the Russian liquidators, Comrade Radek’s great sin. But I believe it is more excusable in a collaborator who is not responsible for C.0. and CC policy than in CC and CO members. It is patent “Intrigenführer”,[13] like Tyszka, who have always played the prevailing role among the notorious “Polish Wortführern” and it is their tenuousness that has done tremendous damage to the whole party.

Let me give two examples to substantiate what I say. The Plenary Meeting of the CC of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in January 1910 unanimously condemned liquidationism. The only section of the resolution leaving Tür und Thor[14] for opportunism (the so-called § 1) was carried on Tyszka’s initiative. What is Rosa Luxemburg going to say about that? Will she dare stand up for this § 1 from the standpoint of the “radikale Richtung”?[15]

When in the spring of 1911 the Bolsheviks withdrew from the so-called CC Bureau Abroad in view of the destruction of the CC by the liquidators, the Poles remained in that institution for months together with the Bundists and the Latvians,[16] of whom even (sogar) Plekhanov wrote: “Diese Parteiinstitution, die zum Werkzeug in den Händen einer Gruppe von Leuten geworden war, die die Partei liquidieren wollten und die daher der Sache des russischen Proletariats grossen Schaden zuzufügen drohte, konnte diesem nur einen Gefallen erweisen: nämlich das Zeitliche segnen” (Note: = “Tagebuch eines S.D.” 2 Beilage zu N 15, S. 1, zitiert in der Schrift: “Der Anonymus aus dem Vorwärts und die Sachlage in der Soz. Dem. Arb. P. Russlands”; diese Schrift wurde in die Redaktionen aller s.d. Blätter in Deutschland gesandt).[17]

On the strength of these facts, the reader will judge whether there is a great deal of truth in Rosa Luxemburg’s boastful words to the effect that the Poles “mit starker Faust die liquidatorische Richtung in Russland niederzuhalten geholfen haben”.[18]

In actual fact, by their intrigues the Poles did much more to hinder the struggle against this “Richtung”[19] . Up to now, eight months after the formal expulsion of a definite group of liquidators from the Party (the magazine Nasha Zarya[20] the notorious “polnische Wortführer” have been unable to give a straightforward answer as to whether or not they want “peace” with this group. It is, of course, not as easy to give a straightforward answer as to plagiarise the anti-liquidators today and the liquidators tomorrow, declaring oneself, on the strength of that, to be “superior” to both “factions”!

Rosa Luxemburg takes the occasion of the “Radek case” to assure her German readers that nothing “ausser Trümmern”[21] is left of the “russische Partei”.[22]

In response to that I must state the actual facts. It is the Polish “Partei”vorstand that is the “Trümmer”, because it has not belonged to the Party for a whole year. For a whole year, it has not had any organisational ties either with the Party CC, which was elected by the January 1912 Conference,[23] or with the so-called “Organising Committee” of the liquidators.

The Party of the Russian Social-Democratic proletariat, which has divested itself of the liquidators and the intriguers of the Polish “Partei”vorstand, is so far from being Trümmer that it has been developing with especial success since January 1912. Since some—and at times, regrettably, influential—comrades in the German party lend an ear to the frequently biased stories and Klatsch of the Wortführer des polnischen “Partei”vorstandes, who are outside the Party, I shall confine myself to a brief indication of the facts.

Legal Marxist newspapers are the only open measure (Maßstab) of the Social-Democrats’ influence in Russia and their ties with the workers’ masses. Only two “trends”—the Party and the liquidators—are represented in Russia. All the rest are a Schwindel.[24]

In the first half of 1912, the liquidators put out 21 issues of their paper and the anti-liquidators, 100. In the two months of the second half-year (July and August) the former had 4, and the latter—6O. In the eight months (from January to August 1912) the former were able to retort direct assistance to them from 16 workers’ groups, and the latter—from 551.[25]

Rosa Luxemburg with her stories about “Trümmer” should try to refute these facts!

The stories of the polnische “Partei”vorstand about the Russian Party are even less credible than their stories about Radek.

N. Lenin

  1. A reference to the charge against Karl Radek that he had committed a number of unethical acts. This was levelled by a Party court set up by the Chief Executive of the Social-Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania. By a decision of the court Radek was expelled from the ranks of the Social-Democracy of Poland and Lithuania.
    A commission to review the court’s decision was set up in Paris in early September 1913 on the initiative of the Bureau of the sections of the Social-Democracy of Poland and Lithuania abroad (Rozlamists). Lenin supported the review of the Radek case, for he believed that the charge against Radek was the outcome of the sharp struggle which the Chief Executive was waging against the Rozlamists. The commission worked for five months and arrived at the conclusion that there had been no ground for committing Radek to trial by a Party court and expelling him from the Party. It proposed that Radek should be considered a member of the Social-Democracy of Poland and Lithuania and of the RSDLP p.255
  2. A reference to Martov’s libellous pamphlet Saviours or Abolitionists? (Who Destroyed the RSDLP and How) published by Golos Sotsial-Demokrata, Paris, 1911. p. 255
  3. A reference to the resolution “The State of Affairs in the Party” adopted by the RSDLP CC Plenary Meeting in January 1910 (see K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiyakh..., Part I, pp. 234–36). p. 255
  4. Disgusting, foul.—Ed.
  5. Illustrious.—Ed.
  6. To talk herself out of.—Ed.
  7. It is an old story.—Ed.
  8. It is unfortunately not “new” at all.—Ed.
  9. Never played the slightest role.”—Ed.
  10. Petty old wives’ tale.—Ed.
  11. Polish representatives.”—Ed.
  12. Tactical ideas.”—Ed.
  13. Masters of intrigue.”—Ed.
  14. A loophole.—Ed.
  15. Radical trend.”—Ed.
  16. A reference to the members of the Central Committee Bureau Abroad J. Tyszka, from the Polish Social-Democrats, M. Lieber, from the Bund, and Shvarts (Y. Elias), from the Latvian Social-Democrats. p. 258
  17. This party institution, which became a tool in the hands of gentlemen intent on liquidating the party, and which in consequence threatened to inflict great damage on the cause of Russian Social-Democracy, could do the revolutionary proletariat only one good service: suffer a timely demise” (Note: Dnevnik Sotsial-Demokrata, Second Supplement to No. 15, p. 1, quoted in “Anonymous in Vorwärts, and the State of Affairs in the Social-Democratic Labour Party of Russia”; this article was circulated to the editorial boards of all Social-Democratic newspapers in Germany).—Ed.
  18. Lent their strong fist to help put down the liquidationist trend in Russia.”—Ed.
  19. Trend.—Ed.
  20. A reference to the resolution “Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators” adopted by the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP (see present edition, Vol. 17, pp. 480–81). p. 258
  21. Except debris.—Ed.
  22. Russian Party.—Ed.
  23. A reference to the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP held from January 5 to 17 (18 to 30), 1912. See Note 323. p. 259
  24. Swindle.—Ed.
  25. Vgl. die Schrift “Zur gegenwärtigen Sachlage in der Soz. Dem. A. P. Russlands”. Leipzig 1912. Diese Schrift gelangt jetzt in Chemnitz zur Verteilung an die Delegierte den Partei (cf. the article “On the Present Situation in the Social-Democratic Labour Party of Russia”, Leipzig 1912. This article is now available in Chemnitz for distribution to party delegates.—Ed.).