V. I.   Lenin

Unity (May 30, 1914)

Published: Trudovaya Pravda No. 2, May 30, 1914. Published according to the text in Trudovaya Pravda.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 319-321.
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.
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The workers are tired of splits. The workers want unity. The workers are disgusted at the fact that the split sometimes even takes the form of brawling....”

Such and similar statements can sometimes be heard from workers.

The workers do need unity. And the important thing to remember is that nobody but themselves will “give” them unity, that nobody can help them achieve unity. Unity cannot be “promised”—that would be vain boasting, self-deception; unity cannot be “created” out of “agreements” between intellectualist groups. To think so is a profoundly sad, na\"ive, and ignorant delusion.

Unity must be won, and only the workers, the class-conscious workers themselves can win it—by stubborn and persistent effort.

Nothing is easier than to write the word “unity” in yard-long letters, to promise it and to “proclaim” oneself an advocate of unity. In reality, however, unity can be furthered only by the efforts and organisation of the advanced workers, of all the class-conscious workers.

Unity without organisation is impossible. Organisation is impossible unless the minority bows to the majority.

These are incontestible truths. Nobody will question them. The only—only!—thing is to put them into effect. That is not easy. That requires effort, perseverance, the solidarity of all class-conscious workers. But without that effort there is no use talking about working-class unity.

The resolution adopted by the Amsterdam International Congress presses for the unity of the workers’ parties in all countries.[1] This resolution is correct. It demands the unity of the workers, but with us attempts are being made to   substitute for it the unity of intellectualist groups which refuse to bow to the will of the workers!

It would be ridiculous, were it not so sad.

During the last two-and-a-half years (since January 1, 1912), the majority of the class-conscious workers all over Russia have, in fact, united around the Pravdist decisions adopted in January 1912, in February 1913 and in the sum mer of 1913. This is proved by precise figures showing the number of workers’ groups in which collections have been made for various newspapers. The various intellectualist groups which cannot find any backing among the mass of the workers may ignore these figures and pass them over in silence, but they cannot do away with them. It only shows that the various intellectualist groups are cut off from the masses of the workers and are afraid of the truth.

The number of workers’ groups in which collections were made for newspapers in St. Petersburg:

  Pravdist Liquida-
For the two full years, 1912 and 1913 . . . . . . 2,801 750
For half of 1914 (January 1 to May 13) . . . . . . 2,873 671
  Total . . . . . . . . 5,674 1,421

These figures, which have been published many times and have never been revised or challenged, show that the liquidators have the support of only one-fifth of the class-conscious workers (and their figures include all their allies: the Caucasians, Trotskyists, Bundists and the Letts; their allies are now falling away from them; the Letts have already done so).

Thus, four-fifths of the workers have accepted the Pravdist decisions as their own, have approved of Pravdism, and actually rallied around Pravdism.

Now this is real unity of the workers, not of intellectualist groups, unity in deed, not merely in word, unity as a result of two-and-a-half years of effort in the working-class movement all over Russia, not a mere promise of unity.

It is for this unity, for submission to this four-fifths majority of the workers, that we must go on fighting. There is not, nor can there be, any other way to unity. The workers are not infants to believe that this four-fifths majority will   allow the minority of one-fifth, or intellectuals who have no workers’ backing at all, to flout the will of the majority of the workers! The very idea is ridiculous and absurd.

Let those who want to abuse the Pravdists and call them “usurpers” do so. Let this abuse unite the liquidators, Plekhanov, Trotsky, the Vperyodists, the Bundists, and anybody else who pleases. This is abuse coming from impotent little groups, who are angry at their own impotence. This clamour for “unity” on the part of impotent little groups, which have cut themselves off from the masses of the workers, is sheer hypocrisy, for it is they who are violating unity, it is they who are flouting the will of the majority by their splitting tactics.

These groups are striving in vain. Their abuse is not worth taking notice of. The Pravdist workers are building up and will continue to build up the unity of the workers, despite all vituperation from angry but impotent intellectualist groups.


[1] This refers to the “Party unity” resolution adopted at the Amsterdam Congress of the Second International in August 1904.

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