Manifesto of the Workers' Group of the Russian Communist Party 1923
Two documents that we have before us, [one] signed by a clandestine group, The central group of the Workers' Truth, the other bearing no signature, are a striking expression of our political mistakes.
Even the innocent literary entertainments that are still allowed a liberal part of the RCP (the so-called "Democratic Centralism"), simply cannot appear in our press. Such documents, devoid of theoretical and practical foundations, of the liquidator genre like the call of the "Workers' Truth" group, would carry no weight among the workers if they were issued legally, but otherwise they may attract the sympathies not only of the proletariat, but also of communists.
The unsigned document, produced no doubt by the liberals of the RCP, rightly notes:
1) The bureaucratism of the council and party apparatus.
2) The degeneration of the party membership.
3) The split between the elites and masses, the working class, the militants of the party's base.
4) The material differentiation between members of the party.
5) The existence of nepotism.
How to fight all this? We must, you see:
1) Reflect on theoretical problems in a strictly proletarian and communist framework.
2) Ensure, within the same framework, an ideological unity and a class education of the healthy and advanced elements of the party.
3) Struggle within the party for a principal condition of its internal reorganisation, the abolition of the dictatorship and the putting into practice of freedom of discussion.
4) Fight within the party in favour of such conditions of development of the councils and the party, thereby facilitating the elimination of the petty bourgeois forces and influence and further consolidating the power and influence of a communist nucleus.
These are the main ideas of these liberals.
But, say then, who of the leading group of the party would object to these proposals? No one. Better yet, it has no equal for this kind of demagoguery.
The liberals have always served the leading party group precisely playing the role of "radical" opponents and thus fooling the working class and many communists who genuinely have good reasons for discontent. And their discontent is so great that to channel it, the bureaucrats of the party and councils need to invent an opposition. But they don't tire themselves because the liberals help them each time with bombast of their own, by responding to specific questions with general phrases.
Who, among the current personnel of the Central Committee, will protest against the most radical point? "Fighting within the party in favour of such conditions of development of the councils and the party, thereby facilitating the elimination of the petty bourgeois forces and influence and further consolidating the power and influence of a communist nucleus".
Not only do they not protest, but they make these statements with more vigour. Look at Lenin's last article and you will see that he said "some very radical things" (from the liberals' point of view): with the exception of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, our state apparatus is par excellence a relic of the past which has undergone no serious changes. Then he reaches out to the liberals, promises to bring them into the CC and the expanded Central Control Commission (CCC) - and they would like nothing better. And of course, when they enter the CC, universal peace will be established everywhere. In holding forth about free discussion in the party, they forget one little detail - the proletariat. For without freedom of speech given to the proletariat, no freedom in the party will be possible. It would be strange to have freedom of opinion in the party and at the same time deprive the class whose interests this party represents. Instead of proclaiming the need for the foundations of proletarian democracy according to the party programme, they talk about freedom for the most advanced communists. And there is no doubt that the most advanced are Sapronov, Maximovski and Co and if Zinoviev, Kamenev, Stalin, Lenin consider themselves the most advanced, then they agree on the fact that they are all "the best", will increase the membership of the CC and CCC and everything will be fine.
Our liberals are incredibly...liberal, and they require no more than freedom of association. But to do what? What do they want to tell us, explain to us? Only what you have written in two small pages? So good! But if you pretend to be an oppressed innocent, a political refugee, then you need to dupe those who are to be duped.
The conclusion of these arguments is quite "radical", even "revolutionary": you see, the authors wish that the Twelfth Party Congress sort out one or two (what audacity!) functionaries who have contributed most to the degeneration of the party membership, to the development of bureaucracy while hiding their intentions behind fine phrases (Zinoviev, Stalin, Kamenev).
It's stylish! When in the CC Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev give way to Maximovski, Sapronov, Obolensky, everything will be fine, really fine. We repeat that you have nothing to fear, fellow liberals, at the Twelfth Congress you will enter the CC and, which will be essential for you, neither Kamenev, Zinoviev nor Stalin will stop you. Good luck!
In their words, the "Workers' Truth" group is composed of communists.
Like all the proletarians they address, we should believe them willingly, but the problem is that these are communists of a particular type. According to them, the positive significance of the October Russian revolution is that it has opened up to Russia magnificent prospects for a rapid transformation into an advanced capitalist country. As this group argues, it is without doubt a great conquest of the October Revolution.
What does that mean? It is neither more nor less than a call to retreat, to capitalism, abandoning the socialist slogans of the October revolution. Do not consolidate the positions of socialism, of the proletariat as ruling class, but weaken them, leaving the working class only the struggle for wages.
Accordingly, the group claims that classical capitalist relations are already restored. It therefore recommends that the working class rid itself of "communist illusions" and invites it to fight the "monopoly" of the right to vote by workers, which means that they must renounce it. But, gentlemen communists, would you allow us to ask for that?
But these gentlemen are not so foolish as to say openly that they are in favour of the bourgeoisie. What confidence would the proletarians then have in them? The workers would understand immediately that this is the same old refrain of the Mensheviks, the SRs and CDs [Socialist Revolutionaries and Constitutional Democrats], which is outside the group's views. Yet it did not let its secret out. Because it claims to be committed to the fight against "administrative arbitrariness" but "with reservations": "As far as possible in the absence of elected legislative bodies". The fact that the Russian workers elect their councils and EC, this is not an election, just imagine, for a real election must be conducted with the participation of the bourgeoisie and the communists of The Workers' Truth, and not that of workers. And all this is (tell me if it is not) "communist" and "revolutionary"! Why, dear "communists", do you stop halfway and not explain that this should be the general, equal, direct and secret right to vote, which is characteristic of normal capitalist relations? That it would be a real bourgeois democracy? Do you want to fish in troubled waters?
Gentlemen communists, do you hope to hide your reactionary and counter-revolutionary intentions by constantly repeating the word "revolution"? Over the last six years, the Russian working class has seen enough ultra-revolutionaries to understand your intention to deceive. The only thing that could make you succeed is the absence of a proletarian democracy, the silence imposed on the working class.
We leave aside other demagogic words of this group, noting only that the thinking of this "Workers' Truth" is borrowed from A. Bogdanov.