V. I.   Lenin

Controversial Issues




In our first article (Pravda No. 289) we quoted the first and basic document with which those workers who wish to discover the truth in the present disputes must make themselves familiar, namely, the Party decision of December 1908 on liquidationism.

Now we shall quote and examine another, no less important Party decision on the same question adopted three and a half years ago, in January 1910. This decision is especially important because it was carried unanimously: all the Bolsheviks, without exception, all the Vperyod group, and finally (this is most important) all the Mensheviks and the present liquidators without exception, and also all the “national” (i.e., Jewish, Polish and Latvian) Marxists accepted this decision.

We quote here in full the most important passage in this decision:

The historical situation of the Social-Democratic movement in the period of bourgeois counter-revolution inevitably gives rise, as a manifestation of bourgeois influence over the proletariat, on the one hand, to the renunciation of the illegal Social-Democratic Party,   the belittling of its role and importance, attempts to curtail the programmatic and tactical tasks and slogans of consistent Social-Democracy, etc.; on the other hand, it gives rise to the renunciation of Social-Democratic activities in the Duma and of the utilisation of legal possibilities, to failure to understand the importance of both, to inability to adapt consistent Social-Democratic tactics to the peculiar historical conditions of the given moment, etc.

It is an integral part of Social-Democratic tactics under such conditions to overcome both deviations by broadening and deepening Social-Democratic work in all spheres of proletarian class struggle and to explain the danger of such deviations.”[1]

This decision clearly shows that three and a half years ago all the Marxists, as represented by all the trends without exception, were obliged unanimously to recognise two deviations from Marxist tactics. Both deviations were recognised as dangerous. Both deviations were explained as being due, not to accident, not to the evil will of certain individuals, but to the “historical situation” of the working-class movement in the present period.

Moreover, this unanimous Party decision points to the class origin and significance of these deviations. For Marxists do not confine themselves to bare and hollow references to disruption and disintegration. That sense of confusion, lack of faith, despondency and perplexity reign in the minds of many adherents of democracy and socialism is obvious to all. It is not enough to admit this. It is necessary to understand the class origin of the discord and disintegration, to understand what class interests emanating from a non-proletarian environment foster “confusion” among the friends of the proletariat.

And the Party decision adopted three and a half years ago gave an answer to this important question: the deviations from Marxism are generated by “bourgeois counter revolution”, by “bourgeois influence over the proletariat”.

What are these deviations that threaten to surrender the proletariat to the influence of the bourgeoisie? One of these deviations, connected with the Vperyod line and renouncing Social-Democratic activities in the Duma and the utilisation of legal possibilities, has almost completely disappeared. None of the Social-Democrats in Russia now preach these erroneous non-Marxian views. The Vperyod   group (including Alexinsky and others) have begun to work in Pravda alongside the pro-Party Mensheviks.

The other deviation indicated in the Party decision is liquidationism. This is obvious from the reference to the “renunciation” of the underground and to the “belittling” of its role and importance. Finally, we have a very precise document, published three years ago and refuted by no one, a document emanating from all the “national” Marxists and from Trotsky (better witnesses the liquidators could not wish for). This document states directly that “in essence it would be desirable to call the trend indicated in the resolution liquidationism, a trend which must be combated...

Thus, the fundamental and most important fact that must be known by everyone who wants to understand what the present controversy is about is the following—three and a half years ago the Party unanimously recognised liquidationism to be a “dangerous” deviation from Marxism, a deviation which must be combated and which expresses “bourgeois influence over the proletariat”.

The interests of the bourgeoisie, whose attitude is against democracy, and, generally speaking, counter-revolutionary, demand the liquidation, the dissolution of the old Party of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are doing everything they can to spread and foster all ideas aimed at liquidating the party of the working class. The bourgeoisie are trying to encourage renunciation of the old tasks, to “dock” them, cut them back, prune them, sap them of meaning, to substitute conciliation or an agreement with the Purishkeviches and Co. for the determined destruction of the foundations of their power.

Liquidationism is, in fact, the spreading of these bourgeois ideas of renunciation and renegacy among the proletariat.

Such is the class significance of liquidationism as indicated in the Party decision unanimously adopted three and a half years ago. It is in this that the entire Party sees the greatest harm and the danger of liquidationism, its pernicious effect on the working-class movement, on the consolidation of an independent (not merely in word but in deed) party of the working class.

Liquidationism means not only the liquidation (i.e., the dissolution, the destruction) of the old party of the working   class, it also means the destruction of the class independence of the proletariat, the corruption of its class-consciousness by bourgeois ideas.

We shall give an illustration of this appraisal of liquidationism in the next article, which will set forth in full the most important arguments of the liquidationist Luch. Now let us sum up briefly what we have stated. The attempts of the Luch people in general, and of Messrs. F. Dan and Potresov in particular, to make it appear that “liquidationism” is an invention, are astonishingly mendacious subterfuges based on the assumption that the readers of Luch are completely uninformed. Actually, apart from the Party decision of 1908, there is the unanimous Party decision of 1910, which gives a complete appraisal of liquidationism as a bourgeois deviation from the proletarian path, a deviation that is dangerous and disastrous to the working class. Only the enemies of the working class can conceal or evade this Party appraisal.


[1] Lenin quotes from the decision condemning liquidationism and otzovism adopted by the January 1910 Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. on the question: “The State of Affairs in the Party”.


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