The Split Among the Polish Social-Democrats

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The present split among the Polish Social-Democrats is the fruit of a conflict that began several years ago. At the Sixth Congress of the Party, in 1908, such a sharp antagonism was shown between the Executive Committee, on the one hand, and the Warsaw and Dombrowa area organisations, on the other, that the Congress rejected a motion of confidence in the Executive. The conflict was organisational but had great political significance. The two local organisations insisted on the opportunity to influence the political position of the Party, and claimed widespread discussion of all its steps by the organisations.

The Executive has remained, nevertheless, in the hands of the same people. And its majority, headed by the notorious Tyszka, sticks to its tactics, profiting by the weakening of the Party, by failures and by the conditions of counter revolution. In the RSDLP, Tyszka played the master and plotted in the name of the Social-Democracy of Poland and Lithuania, without paying the slightest attention to the will of the latter. In the policy of the Party, an era of unprincipledness and vacillation began, on such questions, for example, as the trade unions, the attitude to the P.S.P., and the tactics of the Polish Social-Democrats within the RSDLP Comrades who laid bare the contradictions in the policy of the Executive and demanded a consistently principled line had their mouths shut by the Executive, which would not allow any discussion in the press and, worse still, constantly promised to open a discussion “in the near future”, when it would also publish the comrades’ protests against its tactics. Tyszka’s opponents on the Executive itself, who were all old functionaries, well known to the whole Party, were ousted one by one. One of them refused to stand for re-election at the Sixth Congress, saying that it was impossible to work with Tyszka, another was ousted in 1909, and a third refused to enter the Executive in 1911.

But as the movement grew and became more active, from early 1911 onwards, discontent began to show in local organisations as well. The “rebellion” was led by the War saw organisation, which is the most important and powerful, and above all the most consistent in the revolutionary sense, and which, ever since 1905, has been in the Left wing among the Polish Social-Democrats.

The Executive, of course, became uneasy and made ready to “nip it in the bud”. The December 1911 inter-district conference in Warsaw served as the signal for the attack. That conference made bold to insist that the “territory” should be represented more strongly at the next Party conference, i.e.—the impious idea!—that the influence of the Executive at the conference should thereby be weakened. But that would have been half the trouble, for a similar resolution was adopted by the Lodz conference as well. Warsaw did something more criminal: it showed that it demanded this not haphazardly, but with a political aim in view. It adopted several political resolutions that Tyszka did not like; among other things, it expressed displeasure at the fact that the Executive had submitted no report to Warsaw on its activity, and demanded that the Executive should acquaint the Party with its activity inside the RSDLP, that it should not make a “Russian” policy secretly from the Polish workers, and so on.

An open struggle began. Tyszka gave vent to a series of “circulars” and “explanations”. He “explained” that (1) the Warsaw organisation had trampled the Party Rules underfoot and resorted to a split; (2) that its resolutions were an indication of boycottism, otzovism and anarchism; (3) that it had no ideological differences with the Executive and hence the split had no political basis; (4) that the Warsaw organisation did not exist, the conference had been fictitious, and consequently there was and had been no split; (5) that the Warsaw organisation had been unable to publish a single sheet on its own and had left all literary work to the Executive; that it had, unlawfully devised a disruptive technique of its own and was publishing its own sheets. He also gave a personal description, complete with family details, of a couple of Warsaw “intellectualist warchols”,[1] and explained that they had brought about a split but did not work in the organisation and never had.

Finally, seeing that the Warsaw organisation held its ground, Tyszka made up his mind to take “heroic”measures. He decided to call a fictitious conference and not to allow it to be attended by the opposition, i.e., the vast majority of the comrades active in the territory. To that end he announced the “dissolution” of the strongest organisation—Warsaw—and formed a separate “Warsaw organisation” of splitters out of two or three agents of his own.

But the most outrageous thing is the “grounds” on which Tyszka “dissolved” the Warsaw organisation. He announced that the organisation, which refused to submit to him, was nothing but a tool of police provocation. So far he has not cited a single serious fact, even of the very smallest kind, to support his allegation. Nor has he published the name of a single person he suspects. What is more, to leave the way to retreat open, he wrote like a coward, in a statement to the International Bureau, that provocation could very easily have ensconced itself in Warsaw as in any other organisation functioning under the present conditions.

Nevertheless, Tyszka saw fit to “dissolve” the Warsaw organisation, and even to declare it to be outside the RSDLP The reader will see that this is no longer a factional struggle but in fact something of a criminal nature.

Needless to say this reckless step by Tyszka’s caused indignation ten times as great. The committee which he himself had appointed to inquire into the provocation came out against him. Tyszka replied by expelling from the Party three leaders of the Polish Social-Democracy who had been members of the Party for many years and who enjoyed universal confidence. Forty-four veteran functionaries published a most emphatic protest against the Executive’s actions, which are humiliating to any revolutionary. Both in the territory and abroad, people insist that the “Executive” should be called to account. It goes without saying that the Warsaw organisation did not dissolve itself to please Tyszka but continues its work, which is so difficult under present conditions. It was the “opposition” that achieved signal success in the elections for the worker curia of Warsaw. The elections gave the Social-Democrats an absolute majority over all the other parties. Of the 34 Social-Democratic delegates, 31 support the opposition, 2 are vacillating, and only one backs Tyszka. On the other hand, in the provinces, where the “work” is carried on by the Executive and its supporters, the election campaign was lost everywhere.

It is to be hoped that the petty and unseemly squabble caused by Tyszka’s conduct will soon be a thing of the past and that differences of principle will stand out more clearly. The Polish worker Social-Democrats’ desire to establish closer organisational links with their Russian comrades will also find a more specific expression. Tyszka’s conduct in the RSDLP has resulted in the Executive becoming completely divorced from the life of the Party as a whole and having not a single ally in the RSDLP, and both sides (the liquidators and anti-liquidators) alike are shrugging their shoulders over the strange and unprincipled “tactics” of Tyszka and his “Executive”.

The Polish Social-Democrats are passing through hard times. But already there are signs of a way out. All the sound elements of the Polish Social-Democratic movement are rallying together. And the time is already near when the Polish Social-Democracy will be an organisation of pro-Party worker Social-Democrats who have principles and tactics of their own and are not a plaything in the hands of an unscrupulous plotter.

We think it necessary to complete the report on the split among the Polish Social-Democrats with certain data on the subsequent history of the accusation of “provocation”. Here is what we have been told:

Rosa Luxemburg (member of the International Socialist Bureau from the Polish Social-Democracy) wrote a note to the I.S.B. alleging that the Warsaw Committee was made up of splitters and was in the hands of the secret police, stating that this was not to be published!

Yet Tyszka himself published this abomination in the Polish Social-Democratic press!!

Lenin, upon receiving a copy of Tyszka’s note from Huysmans, Secretary of the International Socialist Bureau, sent a letter to Huysmans, of course, saying that it was a “most perfidious” act of vengeance, that Malecki and Hanecki, ex-members of the Central Committee, were known to all in the Party; that the committee of inquiry appointed by Tyszka himself had discovered no provocation; that to publish anything about provocation among political opponents, without giving names, was a most foul and mean thing to do.[2]

The Executive replied with mere abuse.

The Basle Congress met. The delegation of the Warsaw Committee was unanimously recognised by all RSDLP delegates—liquidators, Letts, Vperyodists, Bundists and Trotskyists alike!

The Warsaw election resulted in both electors being worker Social-Democrats who supported the Warsaw Committee and were opposed to Tyszka and Co.

The fictitious nature of Tyszka’s parallel organisation has been demonstrated to all. The honest course—of with drawing the accusation of provocation—is more than Tyszka and his Executive can adopt.

But best of all are our liquidators and their Organising Committee, who love “unity”. Luch, which officially adheres to the August conference, has twice printed Tyszka’s foul lie!!

On the first occasion it was done by a gentleman who hid behind initials. The second time it was done by Mr. Avgustovsky.[3]

And see how brave they are! They put about a foul story—and take cover behind the back of the Executive. We’ve got nothing to do with it, they seem to say, we cannot be held responsible, we aren’t putting about any foul story, we are “only” reporting the fact that something (a foul story) was printed on behalf of the Executive!!

Martov, Trotsky, Lieber, the Letts and Co. are anonymously putting about Tyszka’s foul story—in the legal press, where documents cannot be quoted—hiding behind Tyszka’s back!!

  1. Trouble-makers.—Ed.
  2. See pp. 276–277 of this volume.—Ed.
  3. Avgustovsky—pseudonym of S.O. Zederbaum, a Menshevik liquidator.