V. I.   Lenin

Apropos of the Open Party

Published: Pravda No. 24, January 30, 1913. Signed: T.. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 536-538.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Luch, a newspaper which succeeds in making the more “clamour” among circles of the intelligentsia the less the workers read it, continues its advocacy of an open workersparty with a zeal worthy of a better cause.

In the New-Year leading article of the paper we read an old untruth, namely, that the year 1912 “put forward, as its current slogan and as the militant banner of the Russia of the workers, the struggle for freedom of association and the struggle for the open existence of the Social-Democratic Labour Party”.

Anyone who really came into contact with the workers’ mass movement in 1912 and carefully observed its political character knows very well that the liquidators of Luch are telling an untruth. What the workers did put forward as their current slogan and militant banner was something else. This was particularly evident, for example, in May, when the foremost workers of different trends (even with a Narodnik minority participating along with the Social-Democratic majority) themselves put forward a different slogan and unfurled a different “militant banner”.

The intellectuals of Luch know that, but they are trying to impose their want of faith, their narrow understanding and their opportunism on the workers. A familiar picture with nothing new about it! In Russia, however, the authors of this distortion are able to put it forward all the more easily because it has the monopoly of “open” expression in certain fields.

For all that, the untruth of Luch remains an untruth. And it becomes worse when Luch continues:

It is this slogan that will form the pivot of the political mobilisation of the mass of the workers in 1913....”

In other words, in defiance of the mass of the workers, who have already advanced a different slogan, the intellectuals of Luch are going to dock and curtail it! You are free to do that, gentlemen, but what you are promoting is a liberal and not a Social-Democratic cause.

Let the reader recall the recent controversy between Luch and Pravda over an open party. Why is it that even the Cadets were unable to found an open party?—Pravda asked.[1] And F. D., writing in Luch, replied:

The Cadets recognised that their desire was utopian” when they failed to get their Rules approved; as for the liquidators, they carried an “stubborn methodical work, winning one position after another” (see Luch No. 73).

You see: F. D. evaded giving a reply! The Cadets, too, carried on stubborn work and they, too, were “winning positions” in legal publications and legal unions. But even the Cadets have no open party.

Why, then, do the Cadets continue to dream and talk of an open party? Because they are the party of the counter revolutionary liberal bourgeoisie, which is willing to make peace with the Purishkeviches for certain little concessions to the liberals, for the little concession of a “peaceful” open Cadet party.

That is the objective significance—which does not depend on good wishes and fine words—of the talk about an open party under the June Third regime. This talk is a repudiation of consistent democracy, and an advocacy of peace with the Purishkeviches.

It is unimportant what aims the liquidators pursue by their advocacy of an open party, or what their intentions and expectations are. That is a subjective question; it is well known that the road to hell is paved with “good” intentions. What is important is the objective significance of the advocacy of an open workers’ party under the June Third regime, with a non-open liberal party, etc.

This objective significance of the liquidators’ talk about an open party is a repudiation of the popular and fundamental conditions and demands of democracy.

That is why every politically-conscious worker reacts adversely to the liquidators’ propaganda, for the issue of an open party” is a fundamental question, one that concerns the very existence of the working-class Party. It is the very existence of a genuine workers’ party that is being radically undermined by liquidationist propaganda.


[1] See pp. 432–34 of this volume.—Ed.

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