V. I. Lenin

The Fourth Social-Democratic Congress of the Latvian Territory{1}


Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 324.2-330.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
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L e n i n (representative of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party). Comrade Braun said that there was no need to rummage in scrap paper, in old documents. That is right. Still, one must base oneself on documents and other evidence. A closer study of the R.S.D.L.P. activity over the last two years shows up the existence of liquidationism, which has hampered the re establishment of the Party. Unless we make a study of the political causes of the Party split, we shall be unable to understand the present disarray. Erroneous trends were already pointed out at the 1908 Conference and later at the 1910 Plenary Meeting. On the one hand, there is otzovism, which has failed to understand the new conditions in Russia, and on the other, liquidationism, which either rejects the   Party or minimises the importance of the illegal Party. These trends arose under the influence of the bourgeoisie. Liquidationism is a broad phenomenon. As early as 1906, there appeared men among the Socialist-Revolutionaries (Narodniks) who tried to legalise the Party. That is a policy of adaptation we see the Cadets pursuing. The same spirit of time-serving prevails among the Social-Democrat liquida tots. A strong party can be set up only in the struggle against this liquidationism. That was already clearly stated by the 1908 Conference. After the Plenary Meeting the Party split up. The Central Committee Bureau Abroad, failing to call a Plenary Meeting, was itself subsequently wound up. The Party had to be re-established in struggle against the liquidators, and that was done by the January conference. It adopted a decision to the effect that the liquidators had to be fought in the workers’ curia, but Comrade Braun called the decision Asiatic. However, such a decision is merely a more consistent conclusion from the resolution adopted by the Plenary Meeting. The January Conference was censured on every hand.

But what was the actual situation over this January Conference? If it had in fact been nothing but a conference of splitters, the whole Party should have rallied to prove that the Conference did not represent the Party. But that did not happen. Comrade Braun said: the broad masses are not following Lenin. But serious-minded persons do not decide matters in that way; the facts must be examined to their full extent. And what do the facts indicate? The data on the results of the elections in the workers’ curia were published: at the elections to the Second Duma the Bolsheviks received 47 per cent of the votes, at the elections to the Third Dunn, 50 per cent, and at the elections to the Fourth Duma, 67 per cent. These facts are incontrovertible, and prove that the decisions of the January Conference were correct. What the Conference decided was realised at the elections. The majority of class-conscious workers in Russia are following the Bolsheviks, and this proves that the struggle against the liquidators was necessary. Even the legal press now admits that the majority of the class-conscious workers are backing the Bolsheviks.

According to Comrade Braun, the August conference{2} adopted the demands he put forward: the democratic republic slogan and the need for an illegal party. Why, in that case, does Comrade Braun want to leave the Organising Committee set up by the conference? That is not evidence of political wisdom or steadfastness in political activity. Comrade Braun said that there were now only a few odd liquidators among the writers but that liquidationism as such no longer existed. But what then is the meaning of Luch attacking the illegal Party and fighting against the pro-Party men? The liquidators have failed to keep their promises to Comrade Braun: they did not support the democratic republic slogan and the need for an illegal party. The Latvians want to withdraw from the Organising Committee. That, too, shows that the August bloc was nothing but a fiction. It is ridiculous or even demagogic to talk of unity with the liquidators, until they abandon their present views and adopt views that are diametrically (completely) opposed to their present ones. There can be no unity so long as liquidationism remains what it is. Those who stand for a legal party will not unite with those who stand for an illegal one. There are now two parties, one real, the other fictitious. This fictitious party consists of a group of intellectuals whose attacks on the illegal Party merely disorganise the workers. Luch itself does not unite all the writers of the August bloc, but only the liquidators. The only thing to do about the liquidators is to fight them.

“Demagogy”, “unity”, “splitters”, are only loud words and nothing more; even a parrot can mouth them. But let us look at the facts. In the course of a year, Pravda united almost 2,000 workers’ groups, and Luch, only 550. The organ which stands for the illegal Party mustered four times more supporters than the “all trend” paper. The facts show that they, the Bolsheviks, united the majority of the Russian workers. This point was also made by the conference convened in summer.

Lenin is being rebuked for splitting the group. But, for a whole year, six deputies fought against liquidationism in the group. The majority is for the Bolsheviks, the Party is behind them. The group must submit to the Party majority   and must act together with the Party. By failing to do so they place themselves outside the Party, by the side of the Party. It is everywhere established that the group must submit to the decisions of the party. We must have the same thing in Russia as well. The deputies of the Duma are not just Social-Democratic chatterboxes, but Party workers who must submit to the Party.

Everything that is behind the liquidators is fiction, phrase-mongering, name-calling. What has actually happened since the group split up? The six deputies have got 6,000 signatures, the seven, 2,000. Anyone can read about this in the press. Martov said that behind the Seven were Marxist institutions, but these are institutions which do not represent the mass of Party members, but are only a fiction.

The Bolsheviks stand for unity. But who are those people who are unable to join the illegal Party? The illegal Party must be united. It must be united from below. Fighting is the only thing that can be done against those who attack the illegal Party and belittle the importance of such a party. Let’s have a guarantee that the illegal Party will remain intact, that the democratic republic slogan will not be stained—only then is unity possible at the top and at the bottom. I do not know about Asia, but in Europe splitters are those who refuse to recognise the majority. Splitters are a minority who refuse to submit to majority decisions.

First published on May 14, 1915 in Latvian in the newspaper Strahdneeks No. 37 (Boston) Printed from the newspaper text
Translated from the Latvian



L e n i n. I am being attacked for “demagogic methods”, for splitting, etc. But what have our opponents been doing? They have always thrown dirt at the Bolsheviks. You have an example in Martov’s unseemly pamphlet.—I merely   expressed my opinion that the Bolsheviks would attend the conference of the International Bureau. But the decision is still up to the Central Committee, on which the workers are sitting. It is they and not Lenin that will decide this question.—Those who say that there is no liquidationism, show little respect for the Congress. What liquidationism is has already been clearly stated in Party decisions since 1908. These decisions have not been revoked and they must be reckoned with. Liquidationist ideas are now being preached in the newspapers of the “August bloc”. Supporters of the Organising Committee here insist that they are not opposing the Party, but what has their paper been saying? Such examples are numerous. The conciliator An wanted to come out against the no-Party agitation, but the Editorial Board refused to change its view. There can be no union with those who stand up for the views of the newspaper Luch. It is liquidationism to work for an “open labour party”.—The conference which is being called should not be attended for the purpose of uniting with the liquidators, but for exposing them and proving that the August bloc is a fiction.—The liquidationist press has been narrowing down the slogans and curbing the revolutionary tactics. The liquidators have no illegal literature of any sort; only the Bolsheviks have such literature. The existence of Bolshevik organisations in Russia is evident from the last issue (31). The elections to the Fourth Duma have also shown that the overwhelming majority of the workers are behind the Bolsheviks. These are facts which everyone can verify. This is also evidenced by the financial support to the newspapers.—Cries about unity are not important in themselves. The ability to unite must be there. The Bolsheviks in Russia have united a majority, while the August conference; by contrast, has united nothing. Braun is pulling away from it, Trotsky is doing the same—the “August bloc” is falling apart. Buryanov, too, has not remained among the seven deputies.—To make union possible the liquidators must be condemned.

First published on July 24, 1915 in Latvian in the newspaper Strahdneeks No. 63 (Boston) Printed from the newspaper text
Translated from the Latvian



Ziemelis’s Resolution

1. There is an overriding need to unite all truly Social-Democratic forces and have strict Party unity in Russia, especially now that the working-class struggle has been steadily expanding. Such unity is possible only between Social-Democrats who in their activity recognise that:

a) at the present time the R.S.D.L.P. can exist only illegally and that all Social-Democrats must join the illegal Party organisation;

b) Russian Social-Democracy must conduct agitation among the masses in the spirit of the revolutionary demands of 1905, urging the workers to march in the van of the entire emancipation movement and to work for another revolution.

The Congress recognises that every town must have a united Social-Democratic organisation to include workers of all nationalities and to conduct work in all the languages spoken by the local proletariat. The Congress invites Social-Democrats of all nationalities to work vigorously for real proletarian unity, a unity which is truly solid and which is organised by the workers themselves from below.

2. For the last five years, the liquidationist trend has been the central question of the internal Party struggle. As early as the All-Russia Conference of 1908, before any splits had occurred, the Party resolved that it regarded liquidationism as an attempt by a section of the Party intelligentsia to liquidate the existing R.S.D.L.P. organisation and to substitute for it an amorphous association within a legal framework, regardless of anything, even if the price to be paid were patent repudiation of the Party’s programme, tactics and traditions.

At the Plenary Meeting of the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee in January 1910, at which all directions and trends in the Party were represented, liquidationism was once   again unanimously condemned by the whole Party as a “manifestation of bourgeois influence on the proletariat”, which was expressed in the rejection of the illegal Social-Democratic Party, the belittling of its role and importance, the attempts to curtail the programme and tactical tasks and slogans of revolutionary Social-Democracy, and so on.

The attempt on the part of the conciliators to unite with the liquidators at any price (the August 1912 conference) proved to be useless, and the uniters found themselves ideologically and politically dependent on the liquidators.

The Fourth Social-Democratic Congress of the Latvian Territory definitely condemns the liquidationist trend and resolves to recall its representative from the Organising Committee, which has failed to dissociate itself from the liquidators.

3. In order to conduct broad political campaigns, the Congress authorises the Central Committee to contact organisations whose political line coincides with the resolutions adopted at the Congress.

4. The Congress welcomes the initiative of the International Socialist Bureau in raising the question of unification in Russian Social-Democracy, and authorises the Central Committee to promote this through all relevant steps, while standing up for the views expressed in this resolution.

First published in 1967 (in part) in the magazine Voprosy Istorii KPSS No. 3 Printed from the original


{1} The Fourth Social-Democratic Congress of the Latvian Territory was held in Brussels from January 13 to 26 (January 26 to February 8) 1914.

Lenin took an active part in preparing and holding the Congress. He gave a report on the attitude of the Social-Democracy of the Latvian Territory to the R.S.D.L.P. and to the split in the Duma group, and took part in conferences of Bolshevik delegates, helping theta to draft resolutions. On the eve of the Congress, January 12 (25). Lenin gave a lecture for the delegates on the national question, setting out the relevant Bolshevik theory and tactics. Lenin urged the Marxists of Latvia to strengthen the Party’s real—instead of imaginary—unity and keep its ranks clean of vacillators and liquidators, who were patent traitors to the working-class cause. He made wide use of the resolutions of the Fourth Congress to fight the liquidators and Trotskyites. See his articles “The Lettish Workers and the Split in the Social-Democratic Group in the Duma”, “The ‘August’ Fiction Exposed”, “The Liquidators and the Lettish Working-Class Movement” (see present edition, Vol. 20, pp. 177–81, 182–85, 239–41) and others. Thanks to the persistent struggle against the conciliatory tendencies conducted by Lenin and the Latvian Bolsheviks at the Congress, the Latvian Social-Democrats withdrew from the August bloc, and this, Lenin said, was a “death blow” at the Trotskyite association.

The minutes of the Congress have not been discovered, but it is known that they were prepared for publication by Janson-Braun and were left in Brussels. At the Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.P.S.U. Central Committee, there are, in the Poronin-Cracow material, Lenin’s writings relating to the Congress and characterising the struggle waged by him and the Bolshevik section of the Congress against the liquidators. Among the documents is a record of the agenda in Lenin’s hand, notes on the sittings and speeches, and also a draft resolution on the attitude of the Latvian Social-Democrats to the R.S.D.L.P., an outline of the report and the summing-up speech. Of great interest are Lenin’s notes on the speeches and his commentaries. There is, for instance, a note on Braun’s speech   on January 15 (28), 1914. where Braun says, in justification of his conciliatory stand, that it is “a very fine point”, Lenin writes: = “That’s where it’s liable to break!” p. 324

{2} A reference to the liquidators’ conference held in Vienna in August 1912; it formalised the anti-Party August bloc, which was organised by Trotsky. It was attended by representatives of the Bund, the Transcaucasian Regional Committee, the Social-Democracy of the Latvian Territory and groups of liquidators, Trotskyites and otzovists abroad (the Editorial Boards of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata and Trotsky’s Vienna Pravda, and the Vperyod group). Delegates from Russia were sent by the St. Petersburg and Moscow “initiating groups” of liquidators, the Krasnoyarsk organisation, the Sebastopol Social-Democratic Military Organisation, the Editorial Boards of the liquidators’ publications, Nasha Zarya and Nevsky Golos; it was also attended by a representative of the Spilka Committee Abroad. The overwhelming majority were resident abroad, were out of touch with the working class in Russia, and not connected directly with local Party work in Russia.

The conference adopted anti-Party, liquidationist decisions on all questions of Social-Democratic tactics and came out against the existence of the illegal Party. The liquidators’ attempt to set up their own, Centrist party in Russia was not supported by the workers. The liquidators failed to elect a Central Committee and confined themselves to setting up an Organising Committee. The anti-Bolshevik bloc, consisting a diverse elements, which it was the main task of the conference to set up, began to fail apart before the conference was over. See Lenin’s articles “The Break-up of the ‘August’ Bloc”, “The ‘August’ Fiction Exposed”, “Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity” (present edition, Vol. 20, pp. 158–61, 182–85, 325–47). p. 326

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