The Kind of “Unity” Larin Proclaimed at the Swedish Congress

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Lenin wrote this article in connection with the speech delivered by the Menshevik Y. Larin on November 23 (New Style), 1914, at the Congress of the Swedish Social-Democratic Party in Stockholm.

The fourteen conditions of unity listed by Lenin are taken from his “Report of the CC of the RSDLP to the Brussels Conference and Instructions to the C,C, Delegation” (see present edition, Vol. 20, pp. 495-535).

In the speech cited by us (No. 36), Larin could have been referring only to the well-known “July Third” bloc,[1] i.e., the alliance concluded in Brussels, on 3.7.1914, between the Organising Committee, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Alexinsky, Plekhanov, the Bundists, the Caucasians, the Lithuanians, the Left wing,[2] the Polish opposition and so on. Why did Larin confine himself to hints? That is strange, to say the least. We are of the opinion that, if the OC lives on, and likewise the alliance, it is bad to make a secret of this truth.

The Central Committee of our Party and the Central Committee of the Lettish Social-Democrats did not join the alliance. Our Central Committee advanced 14 precise conditions of unity, these being rejected by the Organising Committee and the “bloc”, who limited themselves to a diplomatic and evasive resolution which, in /act, did not promise or signify any decisive turn in the previous liquidationist policy.

Here is the gist of our fourteen points: (1) The December 1908 and January 1910 resolutions on liquidationism should be unambiguously confirmed, viz., in a way that will recognise as incompatible with Social-Democratic Party membership statements against the underground, against publicity for the illegal press, for an “open” party (or a struggle for one), against revolutionary meetings, etc. (in the way Nasha Zarya[3] and Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta[4] have come out); (2) the same, with reference to statements against the slogan of a republic, etc.; (3) the same, with reference to statements against a bloc with non.-S.D Left-wing party; (4) in each locality there must be a united S.D. organisation, one that is not divided according to nationality; (5) “cultural-national autonomy” to be rejected; (6) the workers are called upon to show “unity from below”; only one who belongs to an illegal organisation can be a member of the party; in the legal press, only figures concerning workers’ group contributions since 1913 are to be used in order to ascertain a majority; (7) rival newspapers cannot be permitted in one and the same city; Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta should close down, and a discussion journal to be founded; (8) the resolutions of the 1903 and the 1907 congresses regarding the bourgeois character of the S.R.s are to be confirmed; agreements between part of the S. D. Party and the S.R.s are impermissible; (9) groups abroad are to be subordinated to the Central Committee in Russia; (10) regarding work in the trade unions, the resolution of the London Central Committee (Jan. 1908) should be confirmed; illegal nuclei are necessary; (11) statements against the Insurance Council[5] and other insurance institutions are indefeasible; . as a competing publication, Strakhovaniye Rabochikh[6] should close down; (12) the Caucasian S.D.s should give special confirmation for points 5 and 4;(13) the Chkheidze group[7] should withdraw “cultural-national autonomy” and recognise the conditions enumerated above; (14) on matters pertaining to “slander” (Malinovsky, X, etc.), the Organising Committee and their friends should either retract their accusations and slander, or else send a representative to the forthcoming congress of our Party, so as to vindicate all their accusations.

It will readily be seen that, without these conditions and with numerous verbal “promises” to renounce liquidationism (as took place at the 1910 Plenary Meeting), nothing will change; “unity” would be a fiction and a recognition of “equality” for the liquidators.

The mighty crisis of socialism as a result of the world war has evoked a supreme effort in all groups of S.D.s and a striving to muster the forces of all who can draw together on the fundamental issues of the attitude towards the war. The “July Third” bloc, of which Larin was so boastful while reluctant to call it by its own name), at once revealed its fictitiousness.

What is necessary is unflagging caution against fictitious “unity”, as long as there is an irreconcilable cleavage in practice.

  1. The “July Third” (Brussels) bloc was formed at the Brussels “Unity” Conference called by the Executive Committee of the International Socialist Bureau on July 16-18, 1914, for an “exchange of opinions” on the restoration of unity within the RSDLP The delegates represented the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolsheviks), the Organising Committee (Mensheviks), and the affiliated organisations-the Caucasian Regional Committee and the Borba group, that is, the Duma Social-Democratic group (Mensheviks), Plekhanov’s Yedinstvo group, the Vperyod group, the Bund, the Social-Democrats of the Lettish Area, the Social-Democrats of Lithuania, the Polish Social-Democrats, the Polish Social-Democratic opposition and the P.S.P. (the Left wing).
    Though the Conference had been called only for an exchange of opinions and was not intended to adopt any binding decisions, Kautsky’s resolution on the unification of the RS.D.L.P. was put to the vote. Though the Bolsheviks and the Lettish Social-Democrats refused to vote, the resolution was carried by a majority.
  2. The Left wing of the petty-bourgeois nationalist Polish Socialist Party arose as an independent faction in 1906, after the split in the P.S.P. Though it did not fully reject nationalism, the Left wing renounced a number of the P.S.P.’s nationalist demands and terrorist methods of struggle. On questions of tactics it stood close to the Russian Menshevik liquidators and joined forces with the latter against the Bolsheviks. During the First World War most of the Left wingers adopted an internationalist stand and drew close to the Polish Social-Democratic Party. In December 1918, the Left wing of the P.S.P. and the Polish Social-Democratic Party founded the Communist Workers’ Party of Poland.
  3. Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn)-a legal monthly of the Menshevik liqui_ dators, published in St. Petersburg from 1910 to 1914. The liquida- tors in Russia centred around this journal.
  4. Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta (Our Workers’ Newspaper)-a daily newspaper of the Menshevik liquidators, published legally in St. Petersburg from May to July 1914.
  5. The Menshevik liquidators came out against the legal Insurance Council, calling upon the workers to defy its decisions. The Coun- cil was elected by the St. Petersburg workers in March 1914 accord- ing to lists submitted by the Bolsheviks (Pravdists).
  6. Strakhovaniye Rabochikh (Workers’ Insurance)-a journal pub- lished by the Menshevik liquidators inSt. Petersburg from December 1912 to June 1918.
  7. The Chkheidze group-the Menshevik group in the Fourth Duma led by N. S. Chkheidze. During the First World War the group took a Centrist stand, but actually gave full support to the policy of the Russian social-chauvinists.