The Liquidators Against the Party
|Written||25 April 1912|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 18, pages 22-24.
The liquidators of all shades, writing in the legal Russian press, are conducting a campaign of slander against the Party Conference with an easy shamelessness which might well be envied by the Bulgarins and Burenins. The articles in Zhivoye Dyelo, which openly question the delegates as to who sent them and, under the protection of the censor ship, attack what cannot be defended in the legal press, exemplify such disregard for the elementary rules of literary decency that they are bound not only to evoke protests from the adherents of the Conference, but also to disgust any fair-minded political leader. As for the articles of the anonymous informer of Vorwärts, they reek of shameless braggadocio and florid lying so overpoweringly as not to permit of any doubt that the liquidators’ order for them found itself in experienced hands.
Driven into a corner, the groups and circles of liquidators do not confine themselves, however, to a campaign of slander against the Party. They are trying to convene a conference of their own. Every measure has been taken, of course, to lend the Organising Committee, which is to convene this conference, the semblance of a “pro-Party”, “non-factional”, “unity” body. After all, these are such convenient words—when the liquidators want to hook all those who for some reason are dissatisfied with the Party Conference. Trotsky was entrusted with singing all the virtues of the Organising Committee and of the forthcoming liquidationist conference; nor could they have assigned the job to anyone fitter than the “professional uniter”. And he did sing them—in every variety of type his Vienna printer could find: “The supporters of Vperyod and Golos, pro-Party Bolsheviks, pro-Party Mensheviks, so-called liquidators and non-factionalists—in Russia and abroad—are firmly supporting the work...” of the Organising Committee. (Pravda No. 24.)
The poor fellow—again he told a lie, and again he miscalculated. The bloc under the hegemony of the liquidators, which was being prepared in opposition to the Conference of 1912 with so much fuss, is now bursting at the seams and the reason is that the liquidators have shown their hand too openly. The Poles refused to take part in the Organising Committee. Plekhanov, through correspondence with a representative of the Committee, established several interesting details, to wit: (1) that what is planned is a “constituent” conference, i.e., not a conference of the RSDLP, but of some new party; (2) that it is being convened on “anarchical” lines; (3) that the “conference is being convened by the liquidators”. After these circumstances had been revealed by Comrade Plekhanov, there was nothing surprising to us in the fact that the so-called Bolshevik (?!) conciliators plucked up courage and resolved to convict Trotsky of—having told a lie by listing them among the supporters of the Organising Committee. “This Organising Committee, as it is now constituted, with its obvious tendency to impose upon the whole Party its own attitude to the liquidators, and with the principles of organisational anarchy which it has made the basis for increasing its membership, does not provide the least guarantee that a really general Party conference will be convened.” That is how our emboldened “pro-Party” people comment on the Organising Committee today. We do not know where the most Leftist of our Left—the Vperyod group, who at one time hastened to signify its sympathy with the Organising Committee—stand today. Nor is this of any importance. The important thing is that the liquidationist character of the conference to be held by the Organising Committee has been established by Plekhanov with irrefutable clarity, and that the statesmanlike minds of the “conciliators” had to bow to this fact. Who remains, then? The open liquidators and Trotsky.
The basis of this bloc is obvious: the liquidators enjoy full freedom to pursue their line in Zhivoye Dyelo and Nasha Zarya “as before”, while Trotsky, operating abroad, screens them with r-r-revolutionary phrases, which cost him nothing and do not bind them in any way.
There is one little lesson to be drawn from this affair by those abroad who are sighing for unity, and who recently hatched the sheet Za Partiyu in Paris. To build up a party, it is not enough to be able to shout “unity”; it is also necessary to have a political programme, a programme of political action. The bloc comprising the liquidators, Trotsky, the Vperyod group, the Poles, the pro-Party Bolsheviks (?), the Paris Mensheviks, and so on and so forth, was foredoomed to ignominious failure, because it was based on an unprincipled approach, on hypocrisy and hollow phrases. As for those who sigh, it would not be amiss if they finally made up their minds on that extremely complicated and difficult question: With whom do they want to have unity? If it is with the liquidators, why not say so without mincing? But if they are against unity with the liquidators, then what sort of unity are they sighing for?
The January Conference and the bodies it elected are the only thing that actually unites all the RSDLP functionaries in Russia today. Apart from the Conference there is only the promise of the Bundists and Trotsky to convene the liquidationist conference of the Organising Committee, and the “conciliators” who are experiencing their liquidationist hang-over.
- This refers to the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP, held January 5–17 (18-30), 1912.
- Bulgarin, F. V.—a reactionary journalist and publisher of the first half of the nineteenth century who engaged in denouncing and slandering progressive magazines and writers of his day. He was notorious for his denunciations of Alexander Pushkin.
Burenin, V. P.—a journalist who contributed to the reactionary newspaper Novoye Vremya. He engaged in vicious attacks against representatives of all progressive social and political trends.
Lenin uses these two names as synonyms for individuals who resort to dishonest methods of conducting polemics.
- Vorwärts (Forward)—central organ of the German Social-Democratic Party, published from 1891 to 1933. The slanderous articles against the Prague Conference of the RSDLP which appeared in Vorwärts were written by Trotsky.
- To acquaint the German comrades with the actual state of affairs in the RSDLP, the editorial board of the Central Organ published a special pamphlet in German, exposing, among other things, the methods of the anonymous writer in Vorwärts. —Lenin
- This refers to the Organising Committee set up by the January 1912 meeting of liquidators representing the Bund, the Caucasian Regional Committee and the Central Committee of the Social-Democrats of the Lettish Territory. Among those who took an active part in the work of the Organising Committee in addition to the non-Russian Social-Democratic organisations were the editorial boards of the Vienna Pravda and of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata, the Vperyod group and representatives of the liquidators’ St. Petersburg “initiating group”. Trotsky was the virtual head of the Organising Committee, which was officially entrusted with convening the August 1912 anti-Party conference.
- The Vperyod group was an anti-Party group of otzovists, ultimatumists, god-builders and empirio-monists (adherents of the reactionary, idealist philosophy of Mach and Avenarius). The group was formed in December 1909 on the initiative of A. A. Bogdanov and 0. A. Alexinsky. It published a printed organ called Vperyod. In 1912 it united with the Menshevik liquidators to form a general anti-Party bloc (the August bloc) against the Bolsheviks. This bloc was organised by Trotsky. Failing to gain support among the workers, the group virtually fell to pieces in 1913–14. Its final disintegration occurred in 1917 after the February Revolution.
The Golos supporters were Menshevik liquidators grouped around Golos Sotsial-Demokrata (P. B. Axelrod, F. I. Dan, L. Martov, A. S. Martynov, A. N. Potresov and others), which was published from February 1908 to December 1911 first in Geneva and then in Paris.
The pro-Party Bolsheviks were a group of Bolsheviks who took a conciliatory view of liquidationism and otzovism. Most of the conciliators opposed the Lenin bloc of Bolsheviks and pro-Party Mensheviks. They urged unprincipled unification of the Bolsheviks with various groups that had no support among the masses but sought to exert influence in the Party.
The pro-Party Mensheviks were a small group of Mensheviks led by Plekhanov. They had broken away from the Menshevik liquidators, and opposed liquidationism in 1908-12.
- Pravda (Vienna)—a factional newspaper published by the Trotskyists from 1908 to 1912. Its first three issues were published in Lvov, the rest in Vienna. Twenty-five issues appeared in all.
With the exception of its first two issues, which appeared as the organ of the Ukrainian Spilka (Union), the newspaper represented no Party organisation in Russia and was described by Lenin as “a private undertaking”. Its editor was Trotsky. Under cover of “non factionalism”, the newspaper opposed Bolshevism from the outset, and upheld liquidationism and otzovism. It advocated the centrist theory of “co-operation” between revolutionaries and opportunists within one and the same party. Following the January 1910 Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee it took a frankly liquidationist stand. It also backed the anti-Party Vperyod group of the otzovists and ultimatumists.
In 1912 Trotsky and his newspaper were the initiators and chief organisers of the anti-Party August bloc.
- Za Partiyu (For the Party)—a sheet which the pro-Party Mensheviks and conciliators published at irregular intervals in Paris from April 16 (29), 1912, to February 1914. Five issues were brought out. Among those who wrote for it were G. V. Plekhanov, S. A. Lozovsky and A. I. Lyubimov. It was disseminated chiefly abroad and expressed mainly the views of the Paris group of Plekhanov’s supporters.
- The Bund (The General Jewish Workers’ Union of Lithuania, Poland and Russia) came into being in 1897, at the founding congress of the Jewish Social-Democratic groups in Vilna. In the main, it comprised semi-proletarian Jewish artisans in the west of Russia. It represented nationalism and separatism in Russia’s working-class movement.