On Certain Members of the Former
Workers' Opposition

2 April 1922

1. The X Party Congress instructed the Central Committee 'to carry out the complete destruction of all manner of factionalism.' The Congress prescribed 'the immediate dissolution, without exception, of all groups that have been formed on the basis of some platform or other' and instructed all organizations 'to be very strict in ensuring that no manifestations of factionalism of any sort be permitted.' The Congress decreed that 'failure to comply with this resolution must entail unconditional and immediate expulsion from the party.' The X Congress elected to the Central Committee two members of the former group of the so-called 'Workers' Opposition,' promoted to leading soviet positions comrades who had earlier belonged to this group, and the party as a whole took every measure to prevent any victimization for former factionalism. In special circulars the Central Committee confirmed to all organizations that during the party verification and purge, special instructions in the spirit of the most careful and attentive attitude toward former members of the 'Workers' Opposition' were to be given; many of these latter headed the verification commissions at both guberniia and oblast levels and at the centre; they even headed control commissions, and the party has thus manifested the greatest confidence in them.

2. Despite all this, the former members of the 'Workers' Opposition' have frequently violated the resolution of the X Congress; they have maintained and supported an illegal factional organization within the party itself. Because of this their factional statements both at the centre and at the local level have without any doubt introduced demoralization into the party's ranks. Several attempts have been made to select the leading organs of trade union associations such as, for example, the Central Committee of the Metal-Workers' Union, not on the basis of their business qualities but on a factional basis. Not only an open, but, as the commission has established, an underground struggle has been carried on for the seizure, by factionally inclined comrades, of the leading organs of the party, the trade unions, and the soviets at the local levels. Speeches made at meetings by members of the former 'Workers' Opposition' have often been in terms of an opposition between themselves and all the rest of the party' - 'we and they.' It was precisely speeches of this sort against the party's resolutions which compelled the Central Committee on 9 August 1921, to raise the question of expelling from the party Central Committee member Comrade Shliapnikov, and already then more than half of the Central Committee members and candidates needed for adoption of such a measure were in favour of it.

The expulsion did not take place only because there was one vote less than the required two-thirds majority needed for application of this extreme measure.

The decision adopted unanimously on 9 August 1921 (with three abstentions) read as follows:

'In view of the frequent violations of party discipline by Central Committee member, Comrade Shliapnikov, the meeting hereby states that further speeches, statements, or criticisms by Comrade Shliapnikov outside the Central Committee, directed against Central Committee policy and in opposition to the decisions which truly express the opinion of the party congress, are absolutely inadmissible and raise point-blank the question of the possibility of Comrade Shliapnikov's further work in the Central Committee. In view of this the meeting categorically calls upon Comrade Shliapnikov to change radically his whole political behaviour in this connection, bringing it into agreement with the line of the Central Committee in whose ranks he remains. If Comrade Shliapnikov in future does not alter his behaviour, the Central Committee is hereby instructed to convoke a similar meeting (plenum of Central Committee and Central Control Commission members and candidates) for a second examination of the question.'

This conduct by members of the former 'Workers' Opposition' has induced the groups striving to set up a Fourth International to turn to the members of the former 'Workers' Opposition' as kindred spirits, offering support and calling for a united front; it has led these groups to reprint such writings as Comrade Kollontai's pamphlet, 'On the Workers' Opposition,' with the comrades from the former 'Workers' Opposition' not disowning this decisively, not stating publicly and officially that they have nothing to do with these groups which are harmful to the workers' movement, but limiting themselves to half-hearted statements.

Comrade Kollontai's public anti-party speech at the Comintern Congress was given a unanimously negative evaluation by the Congress and has been widely quoted by all the press hostile to us.

The nineteen-member commission specially elected by the XI Congress and representing the local organizations has ascertained that factional meetings have occurred at various times at which resolutions of a conspiratorial nature have been adopted, whose execution was entrusted to the leaders of this group, comrades Medvedev and Shliapnikov. Central Committee member Comrade Shliapnikov, and Comrade Medvedev, after receiving letters of the most anti-party character from their confederates (Savichev, Mitin), failed to raise for discussion in the Central Committee the matters dealt with in these letters, even though the letters were in no way personal but related entirely to the non-party attitudes and activity of the former members of the 'Workers' Opposition.'

3. Finally, with respect to the last meeting of the members of the former 'Workers' Opposition' group, resulting in the appeal to the Comintern, the commission has ascertained that comrades Medvedev and Shliapnikov convoked a special meeting of the adherents of the former 'Workers' Opposition' group, that G. Miasnikov was brought to this meeting even though already condemned and expelled from the party, and that this meeting, on the basis of completely unverified and unsupported facts and communications, compiled a bill of indictment against the party; furthermore, as some who signed this document have testified, they did so merely out of group solidarity, without even possessing proper knowledge of the document's content.

4. The Congress is fully in agreement with the previous Central Committee in considering that the comrades who signed the declaration in no way violated party discipline by the mere fact of submitting this declaration to the supreme organ of our class communist organization - the Comintern, and does not condemn the comrades for this. But the Congress views as anti-party in nature their perpetuation of a factional grouping for a year despite the resolute and unconditional resolution of the X Congress, their factional meetings, and the continuation of the factional struggle. The Congress views as entirely inadmissible the sending to the Comintern of information whose falsity was established by the special commission appointed by the Comintern. The Congress most resolutely stigmatizes the conduct of certain members of this group whose explanations to the Comintern commission contained false information about the party and distorted the actual pattern of relations between the RKP and the working class as a whole.

5. The commission also considers that not only have the above facts been established but also the fact that the former 'Workers' Opposition' group, whose conduct demoralized the organization from within, at the same time strove to consolidate its influence organizationally, and was willing under certain circumstances, to split our party, being prevented only by its feeling that the time was not yet ripe for this split. It was precisely Comrade Kollontai, whose pamphlet brought before the X Party Congress the idea that a split was inevitable and that it only remained to select the most suitable moment, who after the X Congress did not reject this line of conduct and whose explanations before the commission of the XI Party Congress confirmed her view that a split is inevitable unless the party alters its line, i.e., unless the party adopts the views of comrades Kollontai, Medvedev, and Shliapnikov, which are both erroneous and harmful to the working class.

As regards factional meetings like the last one, Comrade Kollontai expressed her regret to the commission that there were so few of them. The Congress regards this group's attitude to the party as completely unacceptable, especially when the working class is experiencing a very difficult period of economic reconstruction, a certain strengthening of capitalist elements, unprecedented famine in the country, the threat of foreign intervention, an enhancement of petty bourgeois attitudes, when the primary condition of working-class victory is the unity of the party and the strictest discipline in its ranks.

On the basis of all of the above the XI Party Congress, having listened to the resolution of the enlarged plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International on the matter of the twenty-two, to the report of the nineteen-member commission appointed by the Congress to investigate the activities of certain members of the former 'Workers' Opposition,' as well as to the explanation of comrades Shliapnikov, Medvedev, and Kollontai, has resolved as follows:

1. It supports the resolution of the ECCI on comrades Shliapnikov, Medvedev, and Kollontai and instructs the Central Committee to expel these comrades from the party if, in the future, they display a similar anti-party attitude.

2. Comrade Mitin, who for sixteen years was an active member of the Menshevik party and entered the RPK in 1920, who organized a factional group which has steadily striven to demoralize the RKP organization in the Donbass, is hereby expelled from the party as a malicious disorganizer.

3. Comrade Kuznetsov, who betrayed the party's confidence by false testimony about his past, his years in the party and as a worker, who hid the fact that he was once a grocery dealer who only entered the ranks of the working class in order to evade military service, is expelled from the party as an element alien to the proletariat.

Resolved: 2 April 1922
First Published: Pravda, April 5, 1922
Source: KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh 2, 366-71
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.