Separatists in Russia and Separatists in Austria

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 8 May 1913


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Pravda No. 104, May 8, 1913. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 87-88.
Collection(s): Pravda

Among the various representatives of Marxism in Russia the Jewish Marxists, or, to be more exact, some of them—those known as the Bundists—are carrying out a policy of separatism. From the history of the working-class movement it is known that the Bundists left the Party in 1903, when the majority of the party of the working class refused to accept their demand to be recognised as the “sole” representatives of the Jewish proletariat.

This exit from the Party was a manifestation of separatism deeply harmful to the working-class movement. But, in fact, the Jewish workers have entered and continue to enter the Party everywhere in spite of the Bund. Side by side with the separate (isolated) organisations of the Bundists, there have always existed general organisations of the workers—Jewish, Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, etc.

From the history of Marxism in Russia we know, further more, that when the Bund in 1906 again returned to the Party, the Party stipulated the condition that separatism should cease, i.e., that there should be local unity of all the Marxist workers of whatever nationality. But this condition was not fulfilled by the Bundists, despite its special confirmation by a special decision of the Party in December 1908.[1]

That, shortly, is the history of Bundist separatism in Russia. Unfortunately, it is little known to the workers, and little thought is given to it. Those having the closest practical acquaintance with this history are the Polish, the Lithuanian (especially in Vilna in 1907) and the Latvian Marxists (at the same time, in Riga), and the Marxists of South and Western Russia; It is well known, incidentally, that the Caucasian Marxists, including all the Caucasian Mensheviks, have until quite recently maintained local unity and even fusion of the workers of all nationalities, and have condemned the separatism of the Bundists.

We should also note that the prominent Bundist, Medem, in the well-known book, Forms of the National Movement (St. Petersburg, 1910), admits that the Bundists have never implemented unity in the localities, i.e., they have always been separatists.

In the international working-class movement, the question of separatism came to the front most urgently in 1910, at the Copenhagen Congress. The Czechs came forward as separatists in Austria, and destroyed the unity that had existed previously between the Czech and German workers. The International Congress at Copenhagen unanimously condemned separatism, but the Czechs have unfortunately remained separatists right up to the present.

Feeling themselves isolated in the proletarian International, the Czech separatists spent a long time searching unsuccessfully for supporters. Only now have they found some—in the Bundists and liquidators. The čechoslavische Sozialdemokrat, the bit of a journal published by the separatists in German, printed an article in its issue No. 3 (Prague, April 15, 1913) under the title “A Turn for the Better”. This “turn” that is supposed to be for the “better” (actually, towards separatism) the Czech separatists saw—where do you think, reader? In Nasha Zarya,[2] the liquidators’ journal, in an article by the Bundist V. Kosovsky!

At last the Czech separatists are not alone in the proletarian International! Naturally they are glad to be able to rope in even liquidators, even Bundists. But all class-conscious workers in Russia should give this fact some thought: the Czech separatists, unanimously condemned by the International, are clinging to the coat-tails of liquidators and Bundists.

Only that complete unity (in every locality, and from top to bottom) of the workers of all nations, which has existed so long and so successfully in the Caucasus, corresponds to the interests and tasks of the workers’ movement.

  1. The decisions here referred to were Draft Terms for the Union of the Bund with the RSDLP (adopted at the Fourth [Unity] Congress of the RSDLP in 1906) and the resolution on “The Unity of National Organisations in the Localities” (adopted at the Fifth [All-Russian] Conference of the RSDLP in 1908).
  2. Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn)—a Menshevik liquidator monthly published legally in St. Petersburg from 1910 to 1914. It served as a rallying centre for the liquidationist forces in Russia.