V. I.   Lenin

The Break-Up of the “August” Bloc

Published: Put Pravdy No. 37, March 15, 1914. Published according to the text in Put Pravdy.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 158-161.
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.

All who are interested in the working-class movement and Marxism in Russia know that a bloc of the liquidators, Trotsky, the Letts, the Bundists and the Caucasians was formed in August 1912.

The formation of this bloc was announced with tremendous ballyhoo in the newspaper Luch, which was founded in St. Petersburg—not with workers’ money—just when the elections were being held, in order to sabotage the will of the majority of the organised workers. It went into raptures over the bloc’s “large membership”, over the alliance of “Marxists of different trends”, over “unity” and non-factionalism, and it raged against the “splitters”, the supporters of the January 1912 Conference.[1]

The question of “unity” was thus presented to thinking workers in a new and practical light. The facts were to show who was right: those who praised the “unity” platform and tactics of the August bloc members, or those who said that this was a false signboard, a new disguise for the old, bankrupt liquidators.

Exactly eighteen months passed. A tremendous period considering the upsurge of 1912–13. And then, in February 1914, a new journal—this time eminently “unifying” and eminently and truly “non-factional”—bearing the title Borba, was founded by Trotsky, that “genuine” adherent of the August platform.

Both the contents of Borba’s issue No. 1 and what the liquidators wrote about that journal before it appeared, at once revealed to the attentive observer that the August bloc had broken up and that frantic efforts were being made to conceal this and hoodwink the workers. But this fraud will also be exposed very soon.

Before the appearance of Borba, the editors of Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta[2] published a scathing comment stating: “The real physiognomy of this journal, which has of late been spoken of quite a lot in Marxist circles, is still unclear to us.”

Think of that, reader: since August 1912 Trotsky has been considered a leader of the August unity bloc; but the whole of 1913 shows him to have been dissociated from Luch and the Luchists. In 1914, this selfsame Trotsky establishes his own journal, while continuing fictitiously on the staff of Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta and Nasha Zarya. “There is a plod deal of talk in circles” about a secret “memorandum”—which the liquidators are keeping dark—written by Trotsky against the Luchists, Messrs. F. D., L. M., and similar “strangers”.

And yet the truthful, non-factional and unifying Editorial Board of Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta writes: “Its physiognomy is still unclear to us!”

It is not yet clear to them that the August bloc has fallen apart!

No, Messrs. F. D., L. M. and other Luchists, it is perfectly “clear” to you, and you are simply deceiving the workers.

The August bloc—as we said at the time, in August 1912—turned out to be a mere screen for the liquidators. That bloc has fallen asunder. Even its friends in Russia have not been able to stick together. The famous uniters even failed to unite themselves and we got two “August” trends, the Luchist trend (Nasha Zarya and Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta) and the Trotskyist trend (Borba). Both are waring scraps of the “general and united” August banner which they have torn up, and both are shouting themselves hoarse with cries of “unity”!

What is Borba’s trend? Trotsky wrote a verbose article in Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta No. 11, explaining this, but the editors of that liquidator newspaper very pointedly re plied that its “physiognomy is still unclear”.

The liquidators do have their own physiognomy, a liberal, not a Marxist one. Anyone familiar with the writings of F. D., L. S., L. M., Yezhov,[3] Potresov and Co. is familiar with this physiognomy.

Trotsky, however, has never had any “physiognomy” at all; the only thing he does have is a habit of changing sides, of skipping from the liberals to the Marxists and back again, of mouthing scraps of catchwords and bombastic parrot phrases.

In Borba you will not find a single live word on any controversial issue.

This is incredible, but it is a fact.

The question of the “underground”? Not a word.

Does Trotsky share the views of Axelrod, Zasulich, F. D., L. S. (Luch No. 101) and so forth? Not a murmur.

The slogan of fighting for an open party? Not a single word.

The liberal utterances of the Yezhovs and other Luchists on strikes? The annulment of the programme on the national question? Not a murmur.

The utterances of L. Sedov and other Luchists against two of the “pillars”[4]? Not a murmur. Trotsky assures us that he is in favour of combining immediate demands with ultimate aims, but there is not a word as to his attitude towards the liquidator method of effecting this “combination”!

Actually, under cover of high-sounding, empty, and obscure phrases that confuse the non-class-conscious workers, Trotsky is defending the liquidators by passing over in silence the question of the “underground”, by asserting that there is no liberal-labour policy in Russia, and the like.

Trotsky delivers a long lecture to the seven Duma deputies, headed by Chkheidze, instructing them how to repudiate the “underground” and the Party in a more subtle manner. This amusing lecture clearly points to the further break-up of the Seven. Buryanov has left them. They were unable to see eye to eye in their reply to Plekhanov. They are now oscillating between Dan and Trotsky, while Chkheidze is evidently exercising his diplomatic talents in an effort to paper over the new cracks.

And these near-Party people, who are unable to unite on their own “August” platform, try to deceive the workers with their shouts about “unity”! Vain efforts!

Unity means recognising the “old” and combating those who repudiate it. Unity means rallying the majority of the workers in Russia about decisions which have long been   known, and which condemn liquidationism. Unity means that members of the Duma must work in harmony with the will of the majority of the workers, which the six workers’ deputies are doing.

But the liquidators and Trotsky, the Seven and Trotsky, who tore up their own August bloc, who flouted all the decisions of the Party and dissociated themselves from the “underground” as well as from the organised workers, are the worst splitters. Fortunately, the workers have already realised this, and all class-conscious workers are creating their own real unity against the liquidator disruptors of unity.


[1] Lenin is referring to the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R. S. D. L. P. held in Prague on January 5–17 (18–30), 1912, which virtually played the role of a Party congress.

Over twenty Party organisations were represented at the Conference, which was also attended by representatives of the Editorial Board of the Central Organ Sotsial-Demokrat, the Editorial Board of Rabochaya Gazeta, the Committee of the Organisation Abroad, and the Transport Group of the Central Committee of the R. S. D. L. P. With the exception of two pro-Party Mensheviks, the delegates were Bolsheviks. Among the delegates were G. K. Orjonikidze of the Tiflis organisation, S. S. Spandaryan of Baku, Y. P. Onufriev of St. Petersburg, and F. I. Goloshchokin of Moscow. The Committee of the Organisation Abroad was represented by N. A. Semashko, and the Transport Group of the C.C. by I. A. Pyatnitsky.

Lenin represented the Editorial Board of the Central Organ.

The Conference was conducted by Lenin, who, at the opening, spoke on the constitution of the Conference, made reports on the current situation and the tasks of the Party, and the work of the International Socialist Bureau, and took p art in the debates on the work of the Central Organ, the tasks of the Social-Democrats   in combating famine, on the organisational question, the work of the Party organisation abroad, and other questions. Lenin drafted resolutions on all the important questions standing on the agenda.

Lenin’s report on “The Tasks of the Party in the Present Situation” and the corresponding resolution of the Conference gave a profound analysis of the political situation within the country, and showed that revolutionary sentiment among the masses was running high. The Conference emphasised that the task of the conquest of power by the proletariat, who led the peasantry, remained that of a democratic revolution in Russia.

The most important task of the Conference was to rid the Party of the opportunists. Its resolutions on “Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators” and on “The Party Organisation Abroad” were of tremendous significance in point of principle and practice. The liquidators were grouped around two legal journals—Nasha Zarya and Dyelo Zhizni. The Conference declared that, “by their behaviour, the Nasha Zarya and Dyelo Zhizni group had placed themselves irretrievably beyond the pale of the Party”. The liquidators were expelled from the R. S. D. L. P. The Conference condemned the activities of the anti-Party groups abroad—the Menshevik Golos group, the Vperyod group and the Trotskyists. The existence abroad of a united Party organisation working for the Party under the control and guidance of the Central Committee was recognised as an absolute necessity by the Conference, which pointed out that the groups abroad “which do not submit to the Social-Democratic centre in Russia, that is, the Central Committee, and which introduce disorganisation by establishing special contacts with Russia over the head of the C. C., cannot speak on behalf of the R. S. D. L. P.” These resolutions played a tremendous role in strengthening the unity of the Marxist party in Russia.

One of the highlights of the Conference was the question of participation in the Fourth Duma election campaign. The Conference stressed that the chief task of the Party at the elections and of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma itself was socialist class propaganda and the organisation of the working class. Basic minimum-programme demands for a democratic republic, an eight-hour day, and confiscation of all landed estates were advanced by the Conference as the Party’s principal election slogans.

The Conference adopted a resolution on “The Character and Organisational Forms of Party Work”, endorsed the changes in the Party Rules proposed by Lenin, confirmed Sotsial-Demokrat in its status, of the Party’s Central Organ, elected a Central Committee of the Party, and set up a Russian Bureau of the Central Committee.

The Prague Conference of the R. S. D. L. P. played an outstanding part in building up the Bolshevik Party, a party of a new type. It summed up the entire historical phase of the Bolsheviks’ struggle against the Mensheviks, and consolidated the Bolsheviks’ victory. The Menshevik liquidators were expelled from the Party. The   local Party organisations rallied around the decisions of the Conference, which strengthened the Party as an all-Russia organisation. The political line and tactics of the Party under the conditions of a new revolutionary upswing were laid down. Purged of the opportunists, the Bolshevik Party took the lead in the new powerful upsurge of the revolutionary struggle of the masses. Of great international significance, the Prague Conference gave the revolutionary elements in the parties of the Second International an example of determined struggle against opportunism, which it conducted to the extent of a complete organisational break with the opportunists.

[2] See Note 20.

[3] Yezhov—the Menshevik liquidator S. 0. Tsederbaum.

[4] Against two of thepillars”, i. e., against the Bolshevik slogans of a democratic republic and confiscation of all landed estates.

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