Put Pravdy No. 59, April 12, 1914.
Published according to the text in Put Pravdy.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 230-232.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Joe Fineberg
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Three issues of the journal Borba, which declares itself to to “non-factional”, have already appeared in St. Petersburg. The journal’s main line is to advocate unity.
Unity with whom? With the liquidators.
The latest issue of Borba contains two articles in defence of unity with the liquidators.
The first article is by the well-known liquidator Y. Larin, the same Larin who recently wrote in one of the liquidationist journals:
“The path of capitalist development will be cleared of absolutist survivals without any revolution.... The immediate task is ... to imbue wide circles with the leading idea that in the coming period the working class must organise, not ‘for revolution’, not ‘in anticipation of revolution’....”
Writing in Borba, this same liquidator now urges unity and proposes that it should take the form of federation.
Federation implies agreement between organisations enjoying equal rights. Thus, in the matter of determining the tactics of the working class, Larin proposes placing the will of the overwhelming majority of the workers, who stand for the “uncurtailed slogans”, on an equal footing with the will of negligible groups of liquidators, whose views coincide more or less with the passage just quoted above. According to the subtle plan of the liquidator Larin, the majority of the workers are to be deprived of the right to take any step until they obtain the consent of the liquidators of Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta.
The workers have rejected the liquidators, but now, according to the plan of the liquidator Larin, the latter are to regain a leading position by means of federation. Thus, the federation proposed by Larin is simply a new attempt to impose on the workers the will of the liquidators whom the working-class movement has rejected. The liquidators reason as follows: we were not allowed to come in by the door, so we will steal in by the window, and call “unity through federation” that which is actually a violation of the will of the majority of the workers.
The editors of Borba disagree with Larin. Federation, i.e., gradual agreement between the liquidators and the Marxists as equal parties, does not satisfy them.
It is not agreement with the liquidators they want, but a new amalgamation with them “on the basis of common decisions on tactics”, which means that the overwhelming majority of the workers, who have rallied to the tactical line of Put Pravdy, must abandon their own decisions for the sake of common tactics with the liquidators.
In the opinion of Borba’s editors, the tactics developed by the class-conscious workers, which have stood the test of experience of the entire movement during the past few years, must be set aside. Why? So as to make room for the tactical plans of the liquidators, for views that have been condemned both by the workers and by the whole course of events.
Utter defiance of the will, the decisions and the views of the class-conscious workers is at the bottom of the idea of unity with the liquidators which the editors of Borba propose.
The will of the workers has been clearly and definitely expressed. Anyone who has not taken leave of his senses can say exactly which tactics the overwhelming majority of the workers sympathise with. But along comes the liquidator Larin and says: the will of the majority of the workers is nothing to me. Let this majority get out of the way and agree that the will of a group of liquidators is equal to the will of the majority of the class-conscious workers.
After the liquidator comes a conciliator from Borba, who says: the workers have devised definite tactics for themselves and are striving to apply them? That means nothing at all. Let them abandon these tested tactics for the sake of common tactical decisions with the liquidators.
And the conciliators from Borba describe as unity this violation of the clearly expressed will of the majority of the workers, a violation designed to secure equality for the liquidators.
This, however, is not unity, but a flouting of unity, a flouting of the will of the workers.
This is not what the Marxist workers mean by unity.
There can be no unity, federal or other, with liberal-labour politicians, with disruptors of the working-class movement, with those who defy the will of the majority. There can and must be unity among all consistent Marxists, among all those who stand for the entire Marxist body and for the uncurtailed slogans, independently of the liquidators and apart from them.
Unity is a great thing and a great slogan. But what the workers’ cause needs is the unity of Marxists, not unity between Marxists, and opponents and distorters of Marxism.
And we must ask everyone who talks about unity: unity with whom? With the liquidators? If so, we have nothing to do with each other.
But if it is a question of genuine Marxist unity, we shall say: Ever since the Pravdist newspapers appeared we hive been calling for the unity of all the forces of Marxism, for unity from below, for unity in practical activities.
No flirting with the liquidators, no diplomatic negotiations with groups of wreckers of the corporate body; concentrate all efforts on rallying the Marxist workers around the Marxist slogans, around the entire Marxist body. The class-conscious workers will regard as a crime any attempt to impose upon them the will of the liquidators; they will also regard as a crime the fragmentation of the forces of the genuine Marxists.
For the basis of unity is class discipline, recognition of the will of the majority, and concerted activities in the ranks of, and in step with, that majority. We shall never tire of calling all the workers towards this unity, this discipline, and these concerted activities.