Russian Workers and the International
|Written||8 December 1913|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 302.2-305.1.
In this issue of our newspaper comrades workers will find a detailed account of the recent sitting of the International Socialist Bureau in London, and also its resolution on the question of unity of the Social-Democratic forces in Russia.
Class-conscious workers throughout Russia must discuss this resolution with the utmost attention.
A class-conscious worker feels and realises himself to be not only a member of the Russian Marxist family—he is aware that he is also a member of the international family of Marxists. He also has duties to the workers’ International. He must take account of the opinions and wishes of the latter. He must not lose touch with the international workers’ army for a single moment.
Russian Marxist workers will welcome the fact that the workers’ International has shown a desire to make a serious study of the principled discussions which have such a prominent part to play in our Russian working-class movement. The accursed conditions of Russian social and political life have led to a state where our comrades know much less about our movement than about the movement in any other country. This lack of knowledge about the real state of affairs in Russia is such that just recently German Social-Democratic spokesmen proposed the convocation of all circles of Russian Social-Democrats abroad (12 “trends” abroad) to work out a new programme for the Party. But, after all, everyone knows that the Russian proletariat worked out such a programme back in 1903....
This period is, fortunately, about to end. By its great and heroic struggle,the Russian proletariat has made itself a talking point throughout the civilised world. The working class of Russia has by rights taken up its place in the workers’ International, and it is safe to say that with every passing year its role in the international arena will be ever bigger and more important.
The decision of the International Bureau gives Russian workers their first chance to acquaint our West-European comrades with the basic substance of our discussions. The Bureau has put the question like this: 1) it has offered its good offices to bring about unity; 2) it believes the actual differences must be brought out; 3) therefore it has authorised its Executive Committee to contact and arrange an exchange of opinion with all Social-Democrats accepting the Social-Democratic programme and also those whose programme is close to the Social-Democratic.
Russian Marxists find all this quite acceptable.
It is indeed extremely desirable to bring out the differences. And even not only those between the Marxists and the liquidators, but also those between the Marxists and the Narodniks, and the Zionist Socialists (whom we regard as being not much worse than the Bund and the P.P.S.), etc. It would be a considerable success if the International Bureau managed to secure clear-cut and precise formulations and to establish the actual basis of the political differences.
But to clear up the differences does not at all mean to eliminate them. The differences stem from the absolutely divergent views of the present epoch in Russia. They constitute two tactics, two systems of policy—the proletarian and the liberal: Nothing will eliminate this divergence.
But even there it is extremely desirable to have a precise and definite elucidation of the terms for unity put forward by each of the sides.
Marxist workers are faced with this important task: they must have a thorough discussion of the International Bureau’s proposal and give it every possible attention, outlining their own terms of unity.
These terms are clear. They flow from the whole course of the working-class movement. The liquidators must in fact recognise the Marxist whole, they must recognise that the main slogans for agitation among the masses are the three old and basic demands; they must withdraw their amendments to the programme (cultural-national autonomy); they must refrain from shouting about the “strike itch”; condemn the Bundists’ separatist strivings and demand local mergers; condemn the malicious personal attacks which poison the ideological struggle, etc. In the sphere of Duma activity, the Seven must unconditionally recognise their subordination to the Marxist whole and retract their anti-Party decisions (Jagiello, abolition of the programme, etc.). Even Comrade Plekhanov, who disagrees with us on many points, says in his letter to the International Bureau that “our Duma group is divided in consequence of certain regrettable decisions adopted by our comrades liquidators, who find themselves in a majority of seven to six”.
It has not yet been cleared up whom it would be useful for the International Bureau to contact for arranging the general exchange of opinion. It is clear that there are two possible ways: either invitations should go out to representatives of the two principal trends: Marxists and liquidators, or to “all Social-Democrats”, and all who regard themselves as being close to the Social-Democrats, in which case it would mean the party of deputy Jagiello (P.P.S.) and various Jewish socialist groups, and those of the Narodniks who consider their stand close to the Social-Democratic programme.
Every class-conscious worker should take an interest in the question raised by the International Bureau. We urge all workers to raise this question at their meetings, circles, talks, rallies, etc., to discuss it, to adopt their resolutions and to publish their opinion in our newspaper.
It is wrong to think that this business is remote and has nothing to do with us. If the question is raised at the inter national congress in Vienna (something Marxists would very gladly welcome), the International must know the opinion of the Russian workers, of the proletarian organisations operating in Russia, and not only of the isolated circles abroad.
Comrades! Discuss this important question, adopt your decisions and communicate them to your newspaper, Proletarskaya Pravda. The class-conscious workers of all countries will listen to what you say.
- See this volume, pp. 274–77.—Ed.
- The question of the Vienna congress was discussed by the International Socialist Bureau in December 1913. It was decided to call the Congress in August 1914, timing it to coincide with the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the First International. The following questions were entered on its, agenda: 1) high cost of living; 2) imperialism and the struggle against militarism, which included as subquestions: a) the Eastern question; b) compulsory courts of arbitration between nations and c) United States of Europe; 3) alcoholism; 4) unemployment; 5) condition of political prisoners and exiles in Russia; and 6) miscellaneous. No country was to have a delegation numbering more than six times the number of its votes; hence, Russia, with 20 votes, could have no more than 120 delegates for both subsections of the Social-Democrats and the Left Narodniks and the trade unions together.
The question of the International Socialist Congress in Vienna was discussed at the Poronin Conference of the CC with Party functionaries. Lenin, reporting on the question, proposed that all measures should be taken to have Social-Democratic workers in a majority as delegates to the Vienna Congress. By the end of July 1914, the elections to the International Socialist Congress were almost completed, but the outbreak of the world war prevented the Congress from being held. p. 305