The Latest Word in Bundist Nationalism
|Written||15 August 1903|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 518-521.
The Foreign Committee of the Bund has just issued a bulletin containing a report on the Fifth Congress of the Bund, which took place in June (Old Style). Preponderant among its resolutions are the “draft Rules” on the position of the Bund in the Party. This draft is highly instructive, and from the angle of definiteness and “resoluteness” of content, nothing better could be desired. Strictly speaking, the first paragraph of the draft is so striking as to reduce all the others to mere explanation or even to entirely useless ballast. “The Bund,” declares § 1, “is a federative [italics ours] section of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.” Federation presupposes an agreement between separate, entirely independent units, which define their mutual relations only by voluntary consent of the sides concerned. It is not surprising, therefore, that the “draft Rules” speak repeatedly of the “contracting parties” (§§ 3, 8, 12). It is not surprising that, on the basis of this draft, the Party Congress is not given the right to alter, supplement or delete Rules relating to a section of the Party. Neither is it surprising that the Bund reserves to itself “representation” in the Central Committee of the Party and permits this Central Committee of the Party to address itself to the Jewish proletariat and to communicate with individual sections of the Bund “only with the consent of the Central Committee of the Band.” All this logically stems from the concept of “federation,” from the concept of “contracting parties,” and had the Fifth Congress of the Bund simply resolved that the Bund is to be constituted as an in dependent Social-Democratic national (or, perhaps, nationalist Social-Democratic?) party, it would have saved itself (and others) much time, much labour, and much paper. On, the one hand, it would have been clear at once without any circumlocution that an independent, separate party could determine its relations with other parties only as a “contracting party” and only on the basis of “mutual consent.” There would have been no need to enumerate every individual case when such consent will be required (and it is impossible in fact to enumerate all such cases, while to give an incomplete list, as the Bund does, is to open the door to a host of misunderstandings). There would have been no need to do violence to logic and conscience by calling an agreement between two independent units Rules on the position of one section of the party. This apparently seemly and suitable name (“Rules on the Position of the Bund in the Party”) is all the more false in essence since the entire Party has in fact not yet restored its full organisational unity, while the Bund comes out as an already unified section, which wishes to take advantage of the shortcomings in the general organisation in order to get still farther away from the whole, in order to try and split up this whole into small parts for all time.
On the other hand, a straightforward treatment of the matter would have relieved the authors of the notorious draft Rules of the necessity to introduce clauses providing for rights already possessed by every organised section of the Party, every district organisation, every committee and every group, e.g., the right to solve, in accordance with the Party programme, general problems on which Party congresses have not adopted decisions. To write Rules including clauses such as these is simply ridiculous.
Let us now appraise in essence the stand taken by the Bund. Once it has stepped on to the inclined plane of nationalism, the Bund (if it did not wish to renounce its basic mistake) was naturally and inevitably bound to arrive at the formation of a particular Jewish party. And this is precisely the direct object of §2 of the Rules, which grants the Bund the monopoly of representing the Jewish proletariat. According to this paragraph, the Bund is in the Party as its (the Jewish proletariat’s) sole (italics ours) representative. The activities of the Bund and the organisation of the Bund are not to be restricted by any territorial limits. Consequently, complete separation and demarcation of the Jewish and non-Jewish proletariat of Russia is not only here effected to the end with absolute consistency, but is endorsed by what may be called a notarial agreement, by “Rules,” by a “basic” law (see § 12 of the draft). Such “outrageous” facts as the audacious appeal of the Ekaterinoslav Committee of the Paty to the Jewish workers directly, not through the medium of the Bund (which had no special organisation in Ekaterinoslav at the time!), should henceforth become impossible, according to the idea of the new draft. However few the number of Jewish workers may be in a given locality, however far away this locality may be from the centres of the Bundist organisation, no section of the Party, not even the Central Committee of the Party, dare address itself to the Jewish proletariat without the consent of the Central Committee of the Bund! It is hard to believe that such a proposal could have been made, so monstrous is this demand for monopoly, especially in our Russian conditions, but §§ 2 and 8 (footnote) of the draft Rules leave no doubts whatever on this score. The desire of the Bund to shift still farther away from the Russian comrades is apparent not only in each clause of the draft, but is also expressed in other resolutions of the congress. For example, the Fifth Congress has resolved to publish once a month Posledniye Izvestia, issued by the Foreign Committee of the Bund, “in the form of a newspaper which would explain the pro grammatic and tactical position of the Bund.” We shall be looking forward with impatience and interest to an explanation of this position. The congress has annulled the resolution of the Fourth Congress on work in the south. It is known that the Fourth Congress of the Bund decided that “separate committees of the Bund shall not be set up” (italicised by the Bund) in the towns and cities in the south, where the Jewish organisations are included in the Party committees. The reversal of this decision is a big step towards further isolation, a direct challenge to the comrades from the south, who have been working and wanted to work among the Jewish proletariat, while remaining inseparably connected with the local proletariat as a whole. “He who says A must say B”; one who has adopted the standpoint of nationalism naturally arrives at the desire to erect a Chinese Wall around his nationality, his national working—class movement; he is unembarrassed even by the fact that it would mean building separate walls in each city, in each little town and village, unembarrassed even by the fact that by his tactics of division and dismemberment he is reducing to nil the great call for the rallying and unity of the proletarians of all nations, all races and all languages. And what bitter mockery sounds in the resolution of the same Fifth Congress of the Fund on pogroms, which expresses the “confidence that only the joint struggle of the proletarians of all nationalities will abolish the conditions giving rise to events similar to those at Kishinev” (italics ours). How false these words about joint struggle sound when we are treated at the very same time to “Rules” which not only keep the joint fighters far apart, but strengthen this separation and alienation through organisational means! I should like very much to give the Bund nationalists a piece of advice: learn from those Odessa workers who went on a joint strike and attended joint meetings and joint demonstrations, without first asking (ah, the audacity!) for the “consent” of the Central Committee of the Bund for an appeal to the Jewish nation, and who reassured the shopkeepers with the words (see Iskra, No. 45): “Have no fear, have no fear, this is not Kishinev for you, what we want is something else, we have neither Jews nor Russians in our midst, we are all workers, life is equally hard for us all.” Let the comrades of the Bund ponder over these words, if it is not too late; let them think-well about whither they are going!
- The reference is to the Jewish pogrom organised in Kishinev by the tsarist government and the Black Hundreds in April 1903.