N. Bukharin

Who Are the Traitors?

(22 June 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 22 No. 5 (actually Vol. 2 No. 52), 22 June 1922, pp. 387–388.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Vandervelde accuses everyone in the rank and file of the militant workers who has turned his back on the S.R. Party of treachery. But this “treason” is a treason against the bourgeoisie. M. Vandervelde, on the contrary, betrays the workers, Gotz betrays the working class.

The S.R. Trial began with a very interesting episode.

Citizen Vandervelde – who has for the time forgotten his assurance that he appears in the court “solely as an advocate” and will not deal with politics – was “bold” enough to sling an insult in the faces of that group of the accused who, wholly or partly, have gone over to the revolutionary camp.

Citizen Vandervelde had “the manly courage” to tell Konopleva, and Semenov, both militant workers, Stavskaya, who can look back upon nine years at hard labor in Siberia, that they have bought the goodwill of the Communist Party through treason.

This move of Citizen Vandervelde, the “unpolitical” representative of the political Central Committee of the S.R.’s, tears the mask from his face.

What in reality is the case? The former S.R.’s who came over to the revolutionary camp stand as accused before the court.

A part of them are in custody. They require legal representatives like any other accused. Why then does Citizen Vandervelde rage against these workers and active members of the fighting organisation, who in their time risked their lives, and did not keep in safe hiding like Gotz and Donskoi? Why this hate? Quite simple. It is the hate of political adversaries. If one looks it from a political standpoint it will not be difficult to lay bare the roots of this political hate. Everyone who leaves one camp for another betrays, in a certain sense, the first. When Marx, born of bourgeois stock, went over to the working class forces, he betrayed the bourgeoisie. When Engels, the manufacturer’s son, became leader of the revolutionary proletariat, he was, from the standpoint of the manufacturer, also a traitor. And thanks to such treachery, the working class received its mightiest weapon – Marxist theory.

There is, however, treachery of another sort. That is, if people, who have stood in the ranks of the working class, go over to the bourgeoisie. If, for instance, a Socialist, who has sworn in Stuttgart and Basle to use every means to fight against imperialist wars, becomes later on organizer of such a war, a Minister of the Crown, and signs that basest of all base treaties, the Versailles Treaty, that is treachery, betrayal of the working class.

This sort of treachery is utterly different from the “Marxist”. It is not leaving the bourgeoisie to come to the proletariat but the deserting of the proletariat for the bourgeoisie. This variety is very well known to Citizen Vandervelde, for reasons known to all.

Between both these kinds of honest folk there is, however, a difference, not only in their class content but also in their form. If any of the intellectuals come over to the side of the workers, they openly announce their conversion. But it is quite otherwise with the traitors who go over to the camp of the bourgeoisie. They are afraid to answer for their conversion. They are able to become Ministers of the Crown but God forbid that they should lay their title “Socialist” aside. They have been able to cry Yea and Amen! to imperialist carnage and then utter pompous phrases on the International and international solidarity. This treachery, this going over to the bourgeoisie, is is identically the same as the most ignoble hypocrisy.

Not only is Citizen Vandervelde acquainted with this kind of political desertion.

The Central Committee of the S.R.’s knows all too well how they, in the name of Socialism, allied themselves in the closest bonds with every capitalist state against the Russian working masses.

But this hypocrisy leads to yet another quite special kind of treachery, to cowardly calumny of one’s own party comrades and those of similar opinions, to disowning ones own deeds without changing one’s camp. When Messrs. Gotz and Co. gambled with the lives of the workers and militants of the S.R. by their murderous ambushes of Communists, and then disowned them, calumniated them, and drew a “dividing line ” between themselves and these fighters – that can compare only with the policy of a cowardly general who leaves his soldiers in the lurch. This sort of treachery is of a kind peculiar to the S.R. bureaucracy. And when Citizen Vandervelde loudly talks of Socialism and the working class and accuses of treachery those people who have found the way back to Socialism and the working class – we can tell him: The whole working class will acclaim such treason. It will not pardon but will take revenge, it will punish every one who in their years of direst, bloody affliction, betrayed and deserted the workers, and went over to the Versailles Camp, that they might strangle the mighty proletarian Commune.

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Last updated on 26 December 2019