V. I.   Lenin

The Liquidators’ Leader on the Liquidators’ Terms of “Unity”

Published: Put Pravdy No. 12, February 4, 1914. Signed: K. T.. Published according to the text in Put Pravdy.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 95-98.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Joe Fineberg
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). 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

Every crisis, every turning-point in any movement, is particularly interesting (and particularly useful to those who belong to it) in that it brings into clear and sharp focus that movement’s fundamental trends, its fundamental laws.

The International Socialist Bureau’s decision to arrange an “exchange of opinions” among all groups in Russia’s working-class movement also marks a certain crisis or turning-point in the movement. It will undoubtedly be very useful “loyally”, as the resolution of the International Socialist Bureau expresses it, i.e., sincerely, to “exchange opinions” before an authoritative international body. It will make everybody take a closer and more serious look at the course of the working-class movement in Russia.

We ought to be extremely grateful to Mr. F. D., the well-known leader of the liquidators, for having of his own accord published in Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta No. 108 an extremely valuable statement of his views on “amalgamation”, covered with only a thin veil of convention and bashfulness. Our best greetings to Mr. F.D.! It is pleasanter by far to talk with the opponent himself than with muddled or feeble go-betweens, etc.!

With praiseworthy candour Mr. F.D. sets forth and compares two points of view on amalgamation: one of them he rejects as “profoundly erroneous”; the other he approves of and adheres to.

This is how Mr. F. D. sets forth the first point of view:

One may argue thus: the differences among the Social-Democratic trends in Russia are negligible. Therefore, on the grounds of their negligibility, we must, with help from the International, devise   some organisational form of amalgamation—either federation, or a certain quota restricting the powers of any majority. Once an accept able external form of ‘unity’ is found, the negligible differences will ‘vanish’ of themselves—everything will come right in the end.”

Mr. F. D. calls this point of view “profoundly erroneous”, without, however, naming its advocates (Trotsky, Kautsky, and all the “conciliators” in general). The veil of convention and bashfulness must have prevented Mr. F. D. from mentioning the well-known names of the supporters of this “profoundly erroneous” idea! But actually concealment of the truth benefits only the opponents of the working class!

Thus, the views of the conciliators are “profoundly erroneous”. Why is that?

In answering this question Mr. F. D. winds the veil thrice round his bashful face. “It will explode,” he says, “it will lead to collapse”, “be the differences great or small!”

The words quoted in italics give Mr. F.D. away completely. Murder will out, however you “veil” it.

With the full candour you reveal, Mr. F. D., your petty evasions are useless and ridiculous. Are the differences negligible, or are they not negligible? Give us a straight answer. There is no middle course, for the point at issue is whether unity is possible (yes, it is possible if the differences are negligible, or small) or impossible (no, it is impossible if the differences are not “negligible”).

In condemning the “negligible” differences, Mr. F.D. admitted thereby that the disagreements are important. But he was afraid to say so openly (what would the “Seven”[1] say? What would Trotsky, the Bundists, An,[2] and all the conciliators say?). He tried to Wrap his answer in a long-winded and deadly dull discourse on the second point of view on unity.

But even in this long-winded discourse it is not difficult to get to the heart of the matter:

This platform [i. e., the one that Mr. F. D. considers desirable and acceptable] must ensure the non-Leninists full opportunity, with in the united Social-Democratic Party, to campaign and fight for the open existence of Social-Democracy.”

Enough! Quite enough, Mr. F. D.! This is the real gist of the matter, not phrases or declamations.

To ensure the liquidators full opportunity to fight the “underground”—that is what Mr. F. D.’s “platform” amounts to, since everybody understands perfectly well that the fig-leaf of a “fight for open existence” is intended to cover up the fight against the “underground”, which all workers know is being waged.

That is the crux of the matter, and all those Trotskys, Ans, Bundists, conciliators, “Sevens”, and so forth, are nice people, but political nonentities. The heart of the matter is in Mr. F.D.’s group, the “old” group of liquidators.

The Marxist organisation’s differences with this group are absolutely irreconcilable, for agreement (let alone unity), not only with those who repudiate the “underground”, but even with those who have any doubts on that score, is totally out of the question. The workers have long realised that this is the crux of the matter as far as the liquidators are concerned, for they dismissed the latter from office in all fields of the working-class movement.

There was a time when the Marxist organisation condemned the liquidators (1908–09). That time has long passed away. There was a time when the Marxist organisation proclaimed forgiveness and peace to all who were prepared to renounce liquidationism (1910–11). That time has long ago passed away. There was a time when the Marxists re-established their organisation, in opposition to the liquidators (1912–13). That time, too, has passed away. Then came a time when the Marxist organisation won over the overwhelming majority of the class-conscious workers, in opposition to all and sundry liquidators together with their allies.

This has been proved by incontrovertible facts. The proportion of Bolshevik deputies elected by the worker curia rose from 47 per cent in the Second Duma elections to 50 per cent in the Third Duma elections, and to 67 per cent in the Fourth Duma elections (autumn 1912). In the course of 21 months, between January 1, 1912 and October 1, 1913, the Party rallied two thousand workers’ groups, while the liquidators and all their allies united only five hundred. Not only have Mr. F.D. and his friends made no attempt to refute these incontrovertible facts, but they them selves, speaking through Mr. Rakitin in the columns of Nasha   = Zarya,[3] have admitted that the masses of the workers support the Bolsheviks.

Clearly, anyone who offers the Marxist organisation a “platform” giving the liquidators “every opportunity” to liquidate that organisation—anyone who, “in the name of unity”, flouts the will of the vast majority of the class-conscious workers, is simply making a mockery of “unity”.

Do you want unity? Then renounce liquidationism unequivocally, renounce the “fight for open existence”, and submit loyally to the majority. You do not want unity? You may please yourself, but do not complain if, in a few months’ time, you will have no worker following left at all, and you will have become not “near-Party” but “near-Cadet” intellectuals.


[1] The Seven—seven Menshevik liquidator deputies forming part of the Social-Democratic group in the Fourth Duma.

[2] An—pseudonym of N. N. Jordania, leader of the Caucasian Mensheviks.

[3] Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn)—a legal monthly of the Menshevik liquidators, published in St. Petersburg from 1910 to 1914. The liquidators’ centre in Russia formed around this journal.

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