On Party Unity

16 March 1921

1. The Congress draws the attention of all party members to the fact that the unity and cohesion of their ranks, and the achievement of full trust among party members and of truly friendly work that truly embodies the unity of will of the proletarian vanguard, are particularly necessary at the present moment, when a number of circumstances are intensifying the waverings of the petty bourgeois population in the country.

2. However, even before the general party discussion on the trade unions, there had come to light within the party certain signs of factionalism, i.e., of the appearance of groups with platforms of their own and with a will to close ranks to a certain extent and create their own group discipline.

It is essential that all class-conscious workers clearly realize the harmfulness and inadmissibility of any factionalism whatsoever which inevitably leads, in practice, to less friendly work and to repeated and intensified attempts by enemies of the ruling party who have attached themselves to it under false pretenses, to deepen the divisions and use them for purposes of counter-revolution.

The fact that the enemies of the proletariat take advantage of all deviations from a strictly consistent communist line was seen most clearly in the example of the Kronstadt uprising, when the bourgeois counterrevolution and White Guards in all the world's countries immediately manifested their readiness to accept even slogans favouring a Soviet system, if only the dictatorship of the proletariat could be overthrown in Russia; when the Socialist Revolutionaries and the bourgeois counterrevolution in general made use, in Kronstadt, of slogans allegedly favouring an uprising in favour of a Soviet system but opposed to the Soviet government in Russia. Such instances fully prove that the White Guardists are striving -and are able -to assume the guise of communists and even to assume positions to the 'left' of communism, if only they can weaken and overthrow the bulwark of the proletarian revolution in Russia. The Menshevik leaflets in Petrograd on the eve of the Kronstadt uprising show in the same way how the Mensheviks were using differences within the RICP in order, by deeds, to incite and support the Kronstadt rebels, Socialist Revolutionaries, and White Guardists, while presenting themselves - in words - as opponents of uprisings and champions of the Soviet system with, allegedly, only minor modifications.

3. Propaganda on this matter takes the form on the one hand, of detailed explanations of the harm and danger of factionalism from the standpoint of party unity and of achieving unity of will of the proletarian vanguard as a basic condition for the success of the dictatorship of the proletariat and, on the other hand, of an explanation of the elements peculiar to the latest tactical devices of the enemies of the Soviet system. These enemies, who have become convinced of the fact that counter-revolution under an openly White Guardist flag is hopeless, are bending every effort today to use differences within the RKI' to advance the cause of counter-revolution in one sense or another by a transfer of power to the political groups which come closest, externally, to recognizing the Soviet system.

Propaganda should also explain the experience of previous revolutions, in which the counter-revolution supported the petty bourgeois groups that were closest to the extreme revolutionary party, in order to shake and then overthrow the revolutionary dictatorship, thus opening the way for the subsequent complete victory of counter-revolution, the capitalists, and the landowners.

4. It is essential that every party organization be very strict in seeing to it that the unquestionably necessary criticism of party short-comings, that all analyses of the general party line, or stocktaking of practical experience results, that verification of the fulfilment of party decisions and of ways for correcting mistakes, etc., not be submitted for discussion by groups formed on the basis of some 'platform' or other, but that they be submitted for discussion by all party members. For this purpose, the Congress directs that 'Discussion Pamphlets' and special anthologies be published on a more regular basis. Every person who voices criticism must be mindful of the party's situation, in the midst of enemy encirclement, and must also, through direct participation in Soviet and party work, strive in practice to correct the party's mistakes.

5. While instructing the Central Committee to carry out the complete destruction of all manner of factionalism, the Congress at the same time states that where questions are involved which command particular attention of party members - questions of purging the party of non-proletarian and unreliable elements, of combatting bureaucratism, of developing democratism and initiative among the workers, etc. - all businesslike proposals whatsoever are to be considered with the greatest of attention and are to be tested in practice. All members of the party should know that on these questions the party is not taking all necessary measures, meeting, as it is, with a number of obstacles of various types, and that while resolutely refusing unbusinesslike and factional criticism, the party will continue tirelessly - constantly testing new methods - to use every means to combat bureaucratism, to expand democratism and initiative, and to seek out, expose, and expel those who have adhered to the party under false pretenses.

6. The Congress orders the immediate dissolution, without exception, of all groups that have been formed on the basis of some platform or other, and instructs all organizations to be very strict in ensuring that no manifestations of factionalism of any sort be tolerated. Failure to comply with this resolution of the Congress is to entail unconditional and immediate expulsion from the party.

In order to ensure strict discipline within the party and in all Soviet work, and to achieve maximum unity while eliminating all factionalism, the Congress gives the Central Committee full powers to apply all measures of party punishment up to and including expulsion from the party in cases of violation of discipline or of a revival or toleration of factionalism, and where members of the Central Committee are involved, to go as far as to reduce them to candidate members and even -as an extreme measure -to expel them from the party. The condition for the application of such an extreme measure to Central Committee members and candidate members and to members of the Control Commission is the convening of a Central Committee plenum, to which all candidate members of the Central Committee and all members of the Control Commission are to be invited. If such a general meeting of the most responsible party officials decides by a two-thirds majority that it is necessary to demote a Central Committee member to the status of candidate member or to expel him from the party, then such action must be taken immediately.

Resolved: 16 March 1921
First Published: Spravochnik partiinogo rabotnika 2 (7-19)
Source: KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh 2, 206-66
Transcription/Markup: Brian Baggins
Copyleft: Soviet History Archive (marxists.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.