V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written in July 1911
Published: First published in 1956 in the Journal Kommunist No. 5. Printed from a typescript copy.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 180-184.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.README

Our Party has undoubtedly arrived at one of the critical points of its development. All Bolsheviks must do their utmost to fully clarify their principles, to unite, and once again lead the Party out on to the high road.

The events that have just taken place abroad (June and July 1911) are a sign of crisis in the Party centres. These events, described and commented upon in a number of leaflets of nearly all groups and trends, amount to this, that the liquidators (through the Central Committee Bureau Abroad[1]—C.C.B.A.) have finally prevented the convocation of a plenum. The Bolsheviks have broken with this C.C.B.A., which has outlawed itself, and jointly with the “conciliators” and the Poles have set up a Technical Commission and an Organising Commission[2] for the convocation of a conference.

What are the principles involved in these events?

The break with the liquidators, who had broken with the R.S.D.L.P., but continued to obstruct all its work from inside the centres (like the C.C.B.A.), means the elimination of this obstruction and the possibility of unanimously setting about the restoration of the illegal and really revolutionary Social-Democratic Party. That is the first and main thing. The second is that the break with the C.C.B.A., which had violated all Party laws (and the consequent resignation from the C.O. editorial board of Martov and Dan, who since February 1910 had taken no part in the C.O.), means putting right the mistake of the plenum (in January 1910) owing to which it was not the pro-Party Mensheviks but the Golosists[3] (i.e., liquidators) who turned out to be in the central bodies. The principle laid down by the plenum   (cleansing the workers’ party of the bourgeois trends of liquidationism and otzovism[4]) has now been divested of the liquidationist centres concealing it.

Fortunately, a court of arbitration has now assessed the hypocritical outcries of the Golos people and Trotsky in defence of the C.C.B.A. Three German Social-Democrats (Mehring, Kautsky and Clara Zetkin) were to decide the question of the Bolshevik funds conditionally handed over to the C.C., and they decided provisionally, pending the conference, to give the money to the Technical Commission and not to the C.C.B.A. This decision is tantamount to the court of arbitration’s recognition that the C.C.B.A. was in the wrong.

What is the attitude of the other factions abroad? Trotsky, of course, is solidly behind the liquidators, the Vperyodists[5] also (they have not yet said as much in the press, but it is known from their official negotiations with the Organising Commission). Plekhanov is “on the fence”, while preaching agreement with the C.C.B.A. (see Plekhanovites’ resolution).

The C.C.B.A. is itself trying to set about the calling of a conference, with the help of Trotsky, Vperyod and Co. Whether anything will come of such an “alliance”, no one knows. A collapse of principle is there inevitable. Nothing even resembling Party work can result from this bloc. The “bloc” which is being organised by the former C.C.B.A. means nothing but intrigue to cover up the anti-Party and anti-Social-Democratic activity of the group of Messrs. Potresov, Mikhail, Yuri, Roman and Co.

The Bolsheviks’ task now is to unite, beat off the attack of all the enemies of Social-Democracy, give a lead to all who are wavering, and help the illegal R.S.D.L.P. to get on its feet.

Some say this is a split. The hypocrisy of these outcries from the gentry in the C.C.B.A. has been recognised even by the Germans, who are not familiar with Russian affairs. Martov’s pamphlet in German, delivered to the holders of the funds, caused Clara Zetkin to make this comment: “A disgusting production.”

In Russia, there is no split among the illegal organisations, there are no parallel Social-Democratic organisations.   There are Party people, and liquidators who have broken away and set up a separate group. Groups abroad, like those of Golos, Trotsky, the Bund, and Vperyod, want to cover up the break-away of the liquidators, help them to hide under the banner of the R.S.D.L.P., and help them to thwart the rebuilding of the R.S.D.L.P. It is our task at all costs to rebuff the liquidators and, despite their opposition, recreate the R.S.D.L.P. To say that rebuilding and reinforcing the illegal party, despite the opposition of the breakaway legalists, is “a split” means to make a mockery of the truth and (unconsciously or hypocritically) stretch out a hand to the liquidators. There are some who say that the Bolsheviks want a faction of their own. On this point the “conciliators” (in Paris) have now separated into a faction of their own. Without desiring “factionalism”, they have set up a new faction (with representatives of its own in the Technical Commission and the Organising Commission—and that is the basic symptom of a faction, the “conciliators’” internal discipline among themselves).

How does the question of factionalism stand? In January 1910 the Bolsheviks dissolved their group on condition that all the other factions would also be dissolved. This condition has not been carried out, as everyone knows. Golos, Vperyod, and Trotsky and Co. have intensified their factional activity. And on December 5, 1910, we Bolsheviks publicly declared that the stipulation had been violated and that our agreement on the dissolution of all factions had been broken, and demanded a return of our group’s funds.

Not only the anti-Party trends, but also the Plekhanovites have remained a separate faction: they have their own organ (Dnevnik), their own platform, their factional nominees to the central bodies, their internal faction discipline.

In these circumstances, the shouts against “factionalism” are so empty, especially when coming from those who have just formed their own faction. Surely it is time to understand that shouts against factionalism are meant to distract attention from the really important question, that of the Party or anti-Party content of the activity of the various factions. We Bolsheviks set up the T.C. and the O.C. in a bloc with the factions of the “conciliators” and the Poles.   The Poles are for the “conciliators”; we are in the minority, we are not responsible for the conciliatory errors of the T.C. and the O.C. The whole history of “conciliationism” (which we shall recount in the press, directly the conciliators force us to do it) is crying evidence of its erroneous nature. The Bolsheviks must understand this, so as not to repeat these errors.

The “conciliators” have not understood the ideological roots of what keeps us apart from the liquidators, and have therefore left them a number of loopholes and have frequently been (involuntarily) a plaything in the hands of the liquidators. At the January 1910 plenum, the “conciliators” (together with the Poles) got through an idiotic clause in the resolution: “For the first time”, etc. (see Lenin’s article in Diskussionny Listok No. 2,[6] or Plekhanov’s Dnevnik, which admitted that the clause was blown up, integralist, i.e., nonsensical). The conciliators put their trust in the Golos people; in return, Golos publicly disgraced the conciliators with its greasy kisses.

The conciliators put their trust in Trotsky, who has clearly executed a full turn towards the liquidators. The conciliators in Russia (having had control of the C.C. Bureau, i.e., all the authority and all the money, for more than a year) haggled with the liquidators, invited them, “awaited” them and, for that reason, have done nothing.

Now, by entering the T.C. and the O.C., the conciliators have reached the parting of the ways. On the one hand, the fact of the break with the C.C.B.A. is recognition and correction of conciliationist errors. On the other, the formation of a separate faction against the Bolsheviks, and the alliance with the least steady Poles, is a step in continuation of their old errors.

It is our duty to warn all Bolsheviks of this peril, and to call on them to unite all their forces and to fight for the conference. One and all must be mobilised for this struggle. The Bolsheviks must win, in order to take the Party on to the high road.

Since the revolution, the Bolsheviks, as a trend, have lived through two errors—(1) otzovism-Vperyodism and (2) conciliationism (Wobbling in the direction of the liquidators). It is time to get rid of both.

We Bolsheviks have resolved on no account to repeat (and not to allow a repetition of) the error of conciliationism today. This would mean slowing down the rebuilding of the R.S.D.L.P., and entangling it in a new game with the Golos people (or their lackeys, like Trotsky), the Vperyodists and so forth. But this is a critical time, and there can be no delay.

All Bolsheviks must unite, organise the conference speedily and at all costs, win a victory at it or go over to open and straightforward opposition based on principle. Only Bolshevism, which is alien to waverings either to the left or to the right, can bring the Party out on to the high road.


[1] The Central Committee Bureau Abroad was set up by decision of a Plenary Meeting of the C.C., R.S.D.L.P. in August 1908 as the general Party centre abroad, which was subordinate to the Russian Collegium of the Central Committee. Soon after the January Plenum of the C.C. in 1910, the liquidators obtained a majority in the Bureau, and it became the rallying point of anti-Party forces. The Bureau’s liquidationist tactics forced the Bolsheviks to __PRINTERS_P_643_COMMENT__ 41*   recall their representative (Alexandrov—N. A. Semashko) in May 1911. Later the representatives of the Polish and Lettish Social-Democrats were also recalled.

The Bureau dissolved itself in January 1912.

[2] The Organising Commission Abroad and the Technical Commission Abroad were formed in June 1911 at a meeting of Central Committee members to prepare for the Prague Party conference.

The Bolsheviks withdrew from the commissions and disclaimed any responsibility for their activity, because most of their members (M. K. Vladimirov, V. L. Leder, A. I. Lyubimov and others) followed a conciliatory line and refused to abide by the decisions of the Russian Organising Commission.

[3] Golosists—Menshevik-liquidators (P. B. Axelrod, F. I. Dan, L.  Martov, A. S. Martynov, A. N. Potresov and others) grouped round Golos Sotsial-Demokrata (Voice of the Social-Democrat) which was published first in Geneva, and later, from February 1908 to December 1911, in Paris.

[4] Otzovism (from otzyvat—recall)—an opportunist trend which emerged among the Bolsheviks in 1908. Behind the otzovists’ revolutionary slogans was the demand for a recall of the Social-Democratic deputies from the Duma and an end to activity in legal organisations. They declared that in the conditions of reaction, the Party should conduct illegal activities only, and refused to take part in the Duma, trade unions, co-operatives and other legal and semi-legal mass organisations. For details on the otzovists, see Lenin’s article “The Faction of Supporters of Otzovism and God-Building” (present edition, Vol. 16, pp. 29–61).

[5] Vperyod group—an anti-Party group consisting of otzovists, ultimatumists, god-builders and empirio-monists (proponents of the reactionary idealist philosophy of Mach and Avenarius); the group was organised in December 1909, on the initiative of A. Bogdanov and G. Alexinsky, and included A. V. Lunacharsky, M. N. Lyadov, M. N. Pokrovsky and A. V. Sokolov. They published the magazine Vperyod (Forward). In 1912, they united with the Menshevik-liquidators into an anti-Party bloc (August bloc), which was organised by Trotsky. The group failed to find support among the workers and broke up in 1913. It was finally disbanded after the February revolution in 1917.

[6] A reference to Lenin’s “Notes of a Publicist”, specifically the part where he analyses the stand of the “conciliators” adopted at the January 1910 Plenum of the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee (see present edition, Vol. 16, pp. 226–31).

< backward   forward >
Works Index   |   Volume 36 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index