Wreckers of the Party in the Role of “Wreckers of Legends”
|Written||19 March 1911|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 17, pages 129-133
Exactly a year ago the Central Organ of our Party published the following extremely important letter from the Central Committee Bureau in Russia to the Central Committee Bureau Abroad:
“We [i. e., the Bureau of the CC in Russia] approached Comrades Mikhail, Roman, and Yuri, suggesting that they should start work, but we received a reply which states that, in their opinion, not only are the decisions of the Plenary Meeting harmful, but that the very existence of the Central Committee is harmful. On these grounds, they refuse to at tend even a single meeting for co-optation.”
Things could not be clearer. In the persons of Mikhail, Roman, and Yuri we are dealing with open renegades who deem it unnecessary to resort to “diplomacy” and wriggling in the spirit of Golos, and who declare frankly that they have broken with our Party. Here we have a clash of two “tactics”: one, that of Martov, Dan and Co., representing an effort to disintegrate the “old” Party from within, to keep the old Party in a sickly condition until the Stolypin brand of “Social-Democrats”, the liquidators, gain a firm foothold; the other, that of Potresov, Levitsky, Mikhail, Roman, Yuri, and Co., proceeds from the fact that the game of sap ping the strength of the old Party from within by intrigues is not worth the candle and that it is necessary to effect an open break with the RSDLP at once.
The publication of the statement by Mikhail, Roman, and Yuri has badly upset the game of their friends and patrons of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata. But the damage has been done: Dan, Martov and Co. have been obliged to go on covering up their tracks, and while, “on the one hand”, they take the part of the three mentioned renegades, “on the other”, they make a slight attempt to “disavow” them. Martov even mustered up courage—in the last but one, i. e., in the 23rd, issue of Golos, ten months after the publication of the fact that his three friends had renounced the Party—to chide the three gentlemen for their “thoughtlessness”....
But now the wheel of “history” (the history of liquidationism) has turned once again. A number of circumstances—primarily the rebuff administered to liquidationism by some Social-Democratic groups engaged in open activities—has caused Potresov, Levitsky, Mikhail, Roman, and Co. to slow down a bit and to get closer to the “wise” and more cautious “tactic” of covering up their tracks à la Dan and Martov. This has made it possible for a “rebuttal” of the document quoted above to appear—a year later.
Obviously, the “rebuttal” which appeared in Golos under the pompous heading “A Wrecked Legend” is false from be ginning to end. It seems that in “officially” refusing to join the Central Committee or to attend even one meeting for the purpose of co-opting new members the above-mentioned three renegades were actuated by “motives of a personal nature”. And only “later, in a private [strictly “private”, of course] conversation with him [i. e., the representative of the C. C.] we referred to a number of considerations [in this case, of a political nature] which compel us [i. e., Roman, Mikhail, and Yuri] to view with disfavour the proposition made to us”.
Hence, Point 1 in the “rebuttal”: the statement referred to by the Central Organ was made in “a private conversation” after official uniforms had been laid aside. This extremely “extenuating circumstance” radically alters matters, doesn’t it?
But what, according to their own testimony, did Mikhail, Roman, and Yuri say in that “private conversation”? They did not say that the decisions of the Central Committee were harmful; all they did, you see, was to take the liberty to observe that “the road dictated by the Plenary Meeting does not strengthen but weakens the position of the C. C.”; that the recommendation made by the Central Committee to the Party about taking advantage of legal opportunities “has meant and means the wrecking of the legal workers’ organisations”; that the very first step taken by the CC along this road (the publication of the resolution dealing with a conference of the Party) “has supplied the government with a pretext” for wrecking workers’ organisations. Well, don’t you think that this is entirely different from what was stated by the representative of the Central Committee, according to whom the three liquidators from the candidates appointed in London “deem the interference of the CC in the spontaneous process of the Social-Democratic forces grouping themselves in legal organisations, as being tantamount to performing an abortion in the second month of pregnancy”? And that’s what they call a “rebuttal”!
Further it seems that they did not say that the existence of the CC is harmful, God forbid! All they did was to express the opinion, strictly “privately” of course, that it would be much better if, instead of the C. C., there exist ed an “organising group” which “would not be requested to show a mandate” (i. e., a Party mandate), just as, in their time, the Iskra and Zarya group was never requested to show one (i. e., a “mandate”). The main accusation has thus been “rebutted” by Mikhail, Roman, and Yuri almost as successfully as their colleague Igorev recently “rebutted” the charges of plotting against the Central Committee and the Party which the Menshevik pro-Party comrades, Plekhanov and A. Moskovsky, preferred against him.... What is needed, you see, is not a Central Committee, but an “organising group”, such as the “Iskra and Zarya group”. To be sure, the Iskra and Zarya group was a revolutionary Social-Democratic group, whereas Messrs. Mikhail, Roman, and Yuri need a liquidationist organising group. But that is not the point at the moment. The point is that according to their own testimony, Martov’s and Dan’s three allies proposed to replace the CC by a private organising group, whom nobody could request to show a despised “mandate” and which could do all the “liquidating” it liked. A fine “rebuttal” indeed!...
One of the “pivots” of the “rebuttal” published by Roman, Mikhail, and Yuri is the story that the representative of the C. C., who invited them to attend “at least one meeting” of the collegium, tried to persuade them by saying that he (i. e., the representative of the C. C.) and other “Bolsheviks in Russia” were bent on “freeing themselves from the guiding influence of Lenin’s circle”. This statement made by a Bolshevik in Russia, for which we have the evidence of three liquidators, is particularly relished by the editors of Golos, who think they can use it to justify somebody and something. It is obvious, however, that the Golos crowd have become entangled in their own snares and speak against themselves. Just use your brains, esteemed editors of Golos. Let us assume that the Bolshevik who approached your friends on be half of the Central Committee was opposed to what you call “Lenin’s circle”. So much the worse for you. For it was the very same Bolshevik who wrote the letter reporting the repudiation of the Party by your three friends, which we printed in No. 12 of the Central Organ. If that Bolshevik is not a follower of what you call “Lenin’s circle”, then you must consider his evidence to be all the more unbiased. Let us assume that the members of the Central Committee who invited you were opposed to. “Lenin’s circle” —from your own standpoint that should only aggravate the guilt of the three liquidators who refused to join the Central Commit tee even under conditions so favourable for them. What has come over the Golos gentlemen? They are generally more clever ... at covering up their tracks. You have made a very clumsy job of it, gentlemen! More stupid even than the “rebuttals” published by Stolypin’s “Information Bureau”.
You have had ill luck with your “rebuttal”, gentlemen of Golos, just as you have had ill luck with your recent scurrilous leaflets. You wanted “to prove too much”, you wanted to prove that all Social-Democrats are pro-Party—and that’s why you have proved nothing. Just reflect a little: one day you publish the leaflet of the fifty-eight (how many of the fifty-eight are hypocrites and how many have been hoodwinked?), in which you represent your opponents (“Lenin’s circle”) as arch-monsters, as a “gang”, etc. And the very next day you (the editors of Golos) issue a leaflet containing a “programme of reforms”, in which you declare: everything will be perfect if we (the Golos group) are allowed representation in all central Party institutions on a basis of equality with these monsters, with people who are guilty of a number of “crimes”, etc., etc. Well, when are you acting “for the benefit of the Party”, and when are you looking after your own interests, gentlemen—in the first or in the second case? Those fragrant-smelling Golos bulletins as well as its supplements, in which “everything has been made use of”, including the Geneva otzovists who style themselves an “ideological circle of Bolsheviks”, would not be worth, mentioning, if not for the fact that they shed such glaring light on the entire policy of Golos....
Try hard, you “wreckers of legends”, do your utmost! There is one legend which you are indeed helping us to wreck—the legend that you still have something in common with revolutionary Social-Democracy.
- See present edition, Vol. 16, “Golos (Voice) of the Liquidators Against the Party”.—Ed.
- See Golos, supplement to No. 24, p. 3. —Lenin
- A. Moskovsky—Menshevik G. I. Khundadze.
- Another member of the Central Committee, one of the “Bolsheviks in Russia”, is reproached by Golos with having, you see, placed “obstacles in the way of co-opting Golos people as members of the Central Committee, since he declared that the Bolshevik members of the CC ... would permit the co-option only of such candidates as will first sign a statement renouncing ‘liquidationism’”. The member of the CC whom the Golos crowd accuse of so terrible a crime is at present not in a position to answer the liquidationist gentlemen himself. That is why we shall say on his behalf: if what you report of him were true, it would only mean that from the standpoint of the Party he was absolutely right and that he acted fully in the spirit of the decisions of the Plenary Meeting. —Lenin
- Leaflet of the fifty-eight—a leaflet published in Paris in 1911 under the title “To All Members of the Party from the Meeting of Mensheviks in Paris”.