The Working Class and its "Parliamentary" Representatives, Article Five

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ARTICLE FIVE[edit source]

The resolution on the Jagiello issue[1] was the first step of the Social-Democratic group in the Fourth Duma which gave an idea of its composition and direction of activity. We learn from the newspapers that it was adopted by 7 Menshevik votes against 6 Bolsheviks. Consequently, it is clear that we have here a decision adopted contrary to the opinion of the majority of the Party, since the 6 worker deputies from the six chief industrial gubernias represent, as we have seen, the vast majority of the working-class party.

But, perhaps, the content of the resolution shows it to be correct?

Let us turn to the content.

Clause 1 refers to “the lack of precise data for establishing whether the larger or the smaller part of the Warsaw proletariat gave their votes” for Jagiello as an “elector”.

So, in the opinion of 7 Social-Democratic deputies, the question is not clear. Yet they speak quite definitely of the Warsaw, and not of the Polish, proletariat, as the liquidators and the Bund do (see Luch and Nasha Zarya). But we know for sure that the “Warsaw proletariat” “has chosen as electors” two Social-Democrats and one P.S.P.[2] man (Jagiello).

Two are a majority as against one. So that there are very precise data to the effect that Jagiello was voted in by a minority. What is more, the majority of the worker electors (both Social-Democrats) were against the election of Jagiello, and made a formal declaration to that effect. The liquidators referred to Jagiello’s larger vote, but this does not eliminate the fact that two Social-Democrats and one P.S.P. member were chosen as electors.

In any case, by ignoring in its resolution the protest of the two Social-Democratic electors, who represented all the Polish Social-Democrats in Warsaw, the Seven acted in an anti-Party way, because until now only the Polish Social-Democrats have been affiliated to the Russian Social-Democratic Party.

But the 2nd clause of the resolution is even worse. The election of Jagiello “by Jewish bourgeois electors”, we are told, “marks the growth of awareness even in bourgeois circles” (!? in Jewish bourgeois circles?) “of the fact that only socialists can be real fighters for the just (?!) interests of oppressed nationalities”.

Everyone knows that the Jewish bourgeois have not shown the least sign of any such “awareness”. They preferred a Polish bourgeois, but were obliged to elect a socialist for lack of any other supporter of equality. It was not “the growth of awareness”, but the growth of difficulties caused by the national struggle among the bourgeois, that has given deputy Jagiello his seat!

A worker elector can (and should) utilise the “difficulties” of two thieves who have fallen out to get an honest man into the Duma. That is unquestionable. The opposite view held by a section of the Polish Social-Democrats (the so-called chief executive which has lost the chief city, Warsaw) does not hold good.

But when an honest man has entered the Duma because two thieves fell out, it is ridiculous and absurd to say that one of the thieves displayed a “growth of awareness”. It is this lauding of Jewish bourgeois electors—not at all necessary even to justify Jagiello’s mandate—that proves the opportunism of the seven members of the group, and shows their non-proletarian attitude on the national question.

The Seven in their resolution should have condemned and branded national animosity in general, and the Polish bourgeois for their anti-Semitism in particular—that would have been something. But to attribute a “growth of awareness” to Jewish bourgeois is merely to display one’s own lack of awareness.

Clause 3 undertakes to prove that Jagiello is a Social-Democrat. How is this proved? (1) “By his statement.” That is no proof. Party people reckon with the organisation of which X is a member, and not with any “statement” by X. Only the liquidators can forget this ABC.[3] (2) “The support of Jagiello’s candidature by the Bund and P.S.P. bloc.”

But where, in that case, are the Polish Social-Democrats? A bloc without them and against them (the withdrawal of Warsaw’s two Social-Democratic electors) is proof of the anti-Party attitude of the Bund, as was recognised even by the conciliation-minded Plekhanov!

In Clause 4 we read: “The P.S.P. is not yet united with the Russian Social-Democratic Party.” That is a half-truth! Why have the Seven said nothing of the fact that a Party resolution (December 1908) had rejected unity with the P.S.P.? Was it only to please those who would liquidate the Party?

The conclusion from the whole of this lame and miserable resolution is separation of “questions of the internal life of the Russian Social-Democratic Party” from “questions of political activity in the Duma”. This is a thoroughly bad separation. Party people cannot separate these questions. To separate them is to separate the Duma group from the Party. It is the worst kind of opportunism and the introduction of great confusion. Tactics are determined by the Party’s “internal” decisions. Is it these tactics or some other, “non-Party”, tactics that should be applied in “political activity in the Duma”?

A candidate of the Bund, which wants to be considered a section of the Social-Democratic Party, is deprived of a decisive vote on “questions of the internal life of the Social-Democratic Party”. This is the only positive point in the muddled resolution of the seven deputies, who have been confused by the liquidators.

Class-conscious workers should do their utmost to help them sort things out, to explain to them the mistake they have made, and to work hard (in the Fourth Duma as they did in the Third) to straighten out the Duma group. A mistake at the outset is not so terrible in itself—this was rightly pointed out by K. Stalin[4]; what alone is important is that the working-class democrats should openly and frankly recognise the mistake and secure its recognition. Then the continuation will be better than the beginning.

V. I.

Be sure to notify me of the receipt of this article, and should you, by any chance, decide not to carry it, return it without delay, for I shall then have it published elsewhere.

  1. Jagiello, Y. I.—a member of the Polish Socialist Party (P.S.P.), elected deputy to the Fourth Duma from the city of Warsaw. The Bolsheviks strongly objected to his admission to the Social-Democratic group because he had got through with the support of the bourgeoisie and the P.S.P. bloc with the Bund. Under the pressure of Bolshevik deputies his rights in the group were restricted: on all internal Party matters he had voice but no vote.
  2. Polish Socialist PartyP.S.P.—a petty-bourgeois nationalist party set up in 1892.
  3. The sentence is crossed out in the MS.—Ed.
  4. Stalin’s article “Jagiello As Not a Full Member of the Social-Democratic Group”, published in Pravda No. 182, December 1, 1912.