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The Russian Organising Commission

In July 1911 the Bolshevik member of the Central Committee in Paris sent Grigori Ordzhonikidze to Russia to work there for the calling of a Party Conference. As a result of Ordzhonikidze’s activity, a meeting of representatives of local Party organisations set up in November 1911 a 'Russian Organising Commission" charged with making all arrangements for convening of a Party Conference.

This commission, composed of Bolsheviks and "Party Mensheviks", made arrangements for the convening of the Sixth Party Conference in Prague in January 1912.
"By November l4, the Russian Organisation Committee was formed. In reality, it was created by the Bolsheviks and by the Party Mensheviks in Russia. 'The alliance of the two strong factions' (strong in their ideological solidarity and in their work of purging 'ulcers') became a fact".
(V.I. Lenin: "The Climax of the Party Crisis", in: "Selected Works", Volume 4; London; 1943, p. 118)

In December 1911 the Bolsheviks began publication in St. Petersburg of a legal monthly magazine "Prosveshceniye" (Enlightenment) to succeed "Mysl", suppressed by the Tsarist government. This in turn was suppressed by the tsarist government in June l914, but a double number appeared in the autumn of 1917.

In the same month, December 1911, a meeting of Bolshevik groups abroad took place in Paris, with the aim of unifying the Bolshevik groups abroad for the forthcoming Party conference. It was attended by 11 voting delegates, under the leadership of Lenin.

1912: The Sixth Conference of the RSDLP

To remedy the intolerable situation created by Menshevik domination of the Central Committee, which refused either to be active or to convoke a congress, a conference of the Party was convened in January 1912 on the initiative of the Bolsheviks - the Sixth Conference of the- RSDLP.

More than twenty organisations of the Party were represented at the conference, including those of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Ekaterinoslav, Nicolayev, Saratov, Kazan, Vilna, Dvinsk, Tiflis and Baku. The Mensheviks refused to attend – except for a small group of "Party Mensheviks".

The conference elected a Bolshevik Central Committee, headed by Lenin, and this in turn set up a new Russian Bureau of the Central Committee, headed by Stalin, to direct the practical work of the Party within Russia.

A resolution drafted by Lenin and adopted by the conference reviewed the anti-Party activities of the liquidator Mensheviks, who were grouped around the magazines "Nasha Zarya" (Cur Dawn) and "Dyelo Zhizni" (Life’s Cause), and declared them to be now "outside the Party":
"The Conference declares that the group represented by 'Nasha Zarya' and ‘Dyelo Zhizni’ has by its behaviour, definitely placed itself outside the Party'.
(V. I. Lenin: Resolution on Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators, Sixth Conference RSDLP, in: "Selected Works", Volume 4; London; l943; p. 152).
The Bolsheviks regarded the Sixth Party Conference as of great significance since, by the expulsion of the liquidator Mensheviks, it created for the first time a truly united Party based on Leninist principles:
"The conference was of the utmost importance in the history of our Party, for it drew a boundary line between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and amalgamated the Bolshevik organisations all over the country into a united Bolshevik Party".

(J. V. Stalin: Report to the 15th. Congress of the CPSU (B.), cited in: "History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)". Moscow; 194l; p. l42).
The Bolshevik "Pravda" (Truth)
The liquidator Mensheviks and the group around Trotsky's "Pravda" (Truth) refused to recognise the Sixth Party Conference as "legitimate":
"Neither the liquidators nor the numerous groups living abroad (those of . . Trotsky and others). . recognised our January 1912 conference".
(V. I. Lenin: "Socialism and War", in: "Collected Works", Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 255).
Trotsky, in particular, denounced the Conference virulently in the pages of "Pravda" (e.g., "Pravda" No. 24, 1912) and anonymously in the pages of "Vorwarts". His anger was intensified when, on May 5th., 1912, the Bolsheviks began publication in St. Petersburg of a daily newspaper under the name of "Pravda", edited by Stalin; Trotsky thundered against the "theft" of "his" paper's name by the:
"The circle whose interests are in conflict with vital needs of the Party, the circle which lives and thrives only through chaos and confusion".
("Pravda", No. 25; 1912),
and demanded that the Bolshevik paper change its name, concluding threateningly:
"We wait quietly for an answer before we undertake further steps'.
Lenin wrote to the editorial board of the Bolshevik "Pravda":
"I advise you to reply to Trotsky through the post:
"To Trotsky (Vienna) . We shall not reply to disruptive and slanderous letters"; Trotsky's dirty campaign against ‘Pravda’ is one mass of lies and slander.."

(V. I. Lenin: "Letter to the Editor of Pravda", July 19th., 1912, in: "Collected Works", Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 41),
and Stalin commented drily that Trotsky was merely:
". . .a vociferous champion with fake muscles".
(J. V. Stalin: "The Elections in St. Petersburg", in: "works"; Volume 2; Moscow; l953; p. 288).
"The Organisation Committee"

From the autumn of 1910 Trotsky began preparations to try to unite all the anti-Bolshevik elements associated with the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party into a single bloc which, by calling a conference in the name of the Party, might usurp the name and machinery of the Party.

As Lenin put it:
"Trotsky groups all the enemies of Marxism. Trotsky unites all to whom ideological decay is dear; . . . all philistines who do not understand the reasons for the struggle and who do not wish to learn, think and discover the ideological roots of the divergence of views".
(V. I Lenin: Letter to the Russian Collegium of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, in: "Collected Works", Volume 17; 1963; p. 21).
In November 1910 Trotsky secured the passage through the Vienna Club of the Russian Social-Democratic Party of a resolution setting up a fund for the purpose of convening such a conference. Lenin commented:
"On the 26th November, 1910, Trotsky carried through a resolution in the so called Vienna Party Club (a circle of Trotskyites, exiles who are pawns in the hands of Trotsky) . . . . Trotsky’s attacks on the bloc of Bolsheviks and Plekhanov’s group are not new; what is new is the outcome of his resolution; the Vienna Club (read 'Trotsky') has organised a 'general Party fund for the purpose of preparing and convening a conference of the RSDLP'.
This . . is a clear violation of Party legality and the start of an adventure in which Trotsky will come to grief".
(V. I. Lenin: ibid; p. 19, 20)
"Trotsky's resolution.. . expresses the very aim of the 'Golos' group -- to destroy the central bodies so detested by the liquidators, and with them, the Party as an organisation. It is not enough to lay bare the anti-Party activities of 'Golos' and Trotsky; they must be fought".
(V. I. Lenin: "The State of Affairs in the Party", in: ibid.; p. 23).
In March 1912 Trotsky attempted to take advantage of the expulsion of the liquidator Mensheviks from the Party by calling a preliminary conference in Paris, attended by delegates of the various organisations (some purely fictitious) the leaderships of which were opposed to the Bolsheviks: the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region, the "Caucasian Regional Committee" of the RSDLP, the Bund, the Menshevik group around the newspaper "Golos Sotsial-Demokrata" (The Voice of the Social-Democrat), the "Vperyod" (Forward) Group, and the group around Trotsky’s Viennese "Pravda".

The meeting denounced the Sixth Party Conference, and the Central Committee elected by it, as "illegitimate":
"The conference declared that the conference (i.e., the Sixth Party Conference of the RSDLP -- Ed) is an open attempt of a group of pcrsons, who have quite deliberately led the Party to a split, to usurp the Party's flag, and it expresses its profound regret that several Party organisations and comrades have fallen victims to this deception and have thereby facilitated the splitting and usurpatory policy of Lenin's sect. The conference expresses its conviction that all the Party organisations in Russia and abroad will protest against the coup d’etat that has been brought about, will refuse to recognise the central bodies elected at that conference, and will by every means help to restore the unity of the Party by the convocation of a genuine all-Party conference".
(Resolution of March 1912 Paris conference in: "Vorwarts"; (Forward), March 26th., 1912).
The conference set up an "Organisation Committee" with the official aim of convening a "legitimate Party Conference".

Lenin pointed out that Trotsky's role' in the projected anti-Bolshevik bloc was to screen the liquidator Mensheviks with "left"demagogic phrases:
"The basis of this bloc is bloc is obvious: the liquidators enjoy full freedom to pursue their line . . 'as before’, while Trotsky, operating abroad, screens them with-revolutionary phrases, which cost him nothing and do not bind them in any way".
(V. I. Lenin: "'The Liquidators against the Party", in: "Collected Works", Volume 18; Moscow; 1963; p. 24).
The Revolutionary Revival

During the first half of 1912 the revolutionary movement in Russia began to revive.

In April 1912; during a strike in the Lena goldfields in Siberia, more than 500 workers were killed or wounded by tsarist police. The workers replied with mass strikes and demonstrations, which reached their highest point on May Day.

The "August Bloc"

In August 1912 the anti-Bolshevik conference, to prepare which the "Organisation Committee" had been set up in March, took place in Vienna under the leadership of Trotsky, Martov and Dan.

The organisations represented at the conferences --organisations which together formed what the Party called the "August Bloc" were:

1) liquidator Mensheviks grouped around the paper -"Golos Sotsial-Demokrata";
2) The liquidator Menshevik group around "Nevsky Golos"(The Voice of the Neva), a legal newspaper published in St. Petersburg from May to August 1912;
3) The "Caucasian Regional Committee of the Social-Democratic Labour Party". (described by Lenin as a fictitious body), a group of Mensheviks from the Caucusus headed by Noah Jordania);
4) The Ukrainian social-democratic organisation 'Spillka";
5)The seven Menshevik Duma deputies;
6) The "Vperyod" group;
7) The Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region; and
8) The group around Trotsky’s Viennese "Pravda".
Representatives of the Polish Socialist Party (not the Polish Social-Democratic Party) and of the Lithuanian Social-Democratic Party attended as observers.

The "Vperyod" group withdrew from the conference on its first day, and a "Bolshevik" who attended from Moscow was subsequently exposed as a police agent.

The conference adopted a resolution calling for the adaptation of the Party organisation to the "new forms and methods of the open Labour Movement'.

It adopted a new programme virtually in line with that of the liberal capitalists in order to make it acceptable to the tsarist government and enable the new party which was planned to emerge from the conference to function legally.

It also adopted a resolution on "national-cultural autonomy" in violation of the national programme of the RSDLP (to be discussed in the next section).

The "Organisation Committee" continued in existence.

Seventeen years later Trotsky commented critically on his role in initiating the formation of the "August Bloc";
"In 1912, when the political curve in Russia took an unmistakable upward turn, I made an attempt to call a union conference of representatives of all the Social-Democratic factions. . . Lenin, however, came out with all his force against union. The entire course of events that followed proved conclusively that Lenin was right. The conference met in Vienna in August 1912, without the Bolsheviks, and I found myself formally in a 'bloc’ with the Mensheviks and a few disparate groups of Bolshevik dissenters. This ‘bloc’ had no common political basis."
(L. Trotsky: "My Life"; New York; 1970; p. 224-5).
"Cultural-national Autonomy"

The policy of "cultural-national autonomy" is based on the erroneous theory that nations are composed of individuals of a particular nationality, irrespective of the territory they inhabit. On the basis of this theory, the proponents of "cultural-national autonomy" propose that within a particular state there should be "separate bodies" with jurisdiction over the cultural affairs of each "nation"", bodies elected by individual persons of each nationality represented within the frontiers of the state concerned.

In l899, under the influence of Otto Bauer and Karl Renner, "cultural-national autonomy" had been included in the programme of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party:

"What then is the national programme of the Austrian Social-Democrats? It is expressed in two words: cultural-national autonomy. This means, firstly, that -autonomy would be granted, let us say, not to Bohemia or Poland, which are inhabited mainly by Czechs and Poles, but to Czechs and Poles generally, . . no matter what part of Austria they inhabit. That is why this autonomy is called national and not territorial.

It means, secondly, that the Czechs, Poles, Germans, and so on, scattered over the various parts of Austria, taken personally, as individuals, are to be organised into integral nations, and are as such to form part of the Austrian state. In this way Austria would represent not a union of autonomous regions, but a union of autonomous nationalities, constituted irrespective of territory.

It means, thirdly, that the national institutions which are to be created for this purpose for the Poles, Czechs, and so forth, are to have jurisdiction only over ‘cultural’ not 'political' questions. Specifically political questions would be reserved for the Austrian parliament (the Reichsrat).

That is why this autonomy is also called cultural, cultural-national autonomy".
(J. V. Stalin: "Marxism and the National Question", in: "Works"; Volume 2; Moscow; 1953 p. 331-2).
Lenin and Stalin strongly opposed the definition of a "nation" put forward by the "cultural-national autonomists" as well as their political proposals:
"’Cultural-national autonomy implies precisely the most refined and, therefore, the most harmful nationalism, it implies the corruption of the workers by means of the slogan of national culture and the propaganda of the profoundly harmful and even 'anti-democratic' segregating of the schools according to nationality. In short, this programme undoubtedly contradicts the internationalism of the proletariat and is in accordance only with the ideals of the nationalist petty bourgeoisie".
(V. I. Lenin: "The National Programme of the RSDLP", in: "Collected Works", Volume 19; Moscow; 1963; p. 54l).
"'cultural-national autonomy' . . aims at introducing the most refined, most absolute and most extreme nationalism. . Consolidating nationalism within a certain ‘justly’ delimited sphere, 'constitutionalising' nationalism, and securing the separation of all nations from one another by means of a special state institution -- such is the ideological foundation and content of cultural-national autonomy. This idea is thoroughly bourgeois and thoroughly false. The proletariat cannot support any consecration of nationalism; on the contrary, it supports everything that helps to obliterate national distinctions and remove national barriers; it supports everything that makes the ties between nationalities closer and closer. . To act differently means siding with reactionary nationalism’.
(V. I. Lenin: "Critical Notes on the National Question" in: "Questions of National Policy and Proletarian Internationalism"; Moscow; l967; P. 26,. 28)
"The idea of national autonomy creates the psychological conditions for the division of the united workers' party into separate parties built on national lines. The break-up of the party is followed by the breakup of the trade unions, and complete segregation is the result. In this way the united class movement is broken up into separate national rivulets".
(J.V. Stalin: "Marxism and the National Question"; In: "Works", Volume 2; Moscow; l953; p. 342-3).
At its Fourth Congress in 1901, the General Jewish Labour League of Lithuania, Poland and Russia (known as the "Bund") had adopted a resolution declaring the Jewish people to be a "nation" and demanding "national autonomy" for the Jewish people within the Russian state. As Stalin pointed out, the autonomy demanded by the Bund could only be cultural-national autonomy:
"The Bund could seize upon any autonomy at all, it could only be . . cultural-national autonomy; there could be no question of territorial--political autonomy for the Jews, since the Jews have no definite integral territory."
(J. V. Stalin: "Marxism and the National Question", in: "Works", Volume 2; Moscow; l953; p. 347).
At the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (to which the Bund was affiliated) in July/August 1903, the Bund had proposed that the Party's Programme should include the demand for "cultural-national autonomy". The proposal was rejected, only three votes being cast in its favour, and the Bund withdrew from the congress and (until 1906) from the Party.

The conference of the anti-Bolshevik "August Bloc" in August 1912 adopted a resolution on this question which declared:
"The Caucasian comrades expressed the opinion that it is necessary to demand national-cultural autonomy. This conference, while expressing no opinion on the merits of this demand, declares that such an interpretation . . . does not contradict the precise meaning of the programme".
(Resolution on National-Cultural Autonomy, "August Conference", cited in: J. V. Stalin: "Works," Volume 2; Moscow; l953; p. 295).
Stalin commented on this resolution:
"It was not only the laws of logic that were violated by the conference of the Liquidators. By sanctioning cultural national autonomy it also violated its duty to Russian Social-Democracy. It most definitely did violate 'the precise meaning' of the programme, for it is well known that the Second Congress; which adopted the programme, emphatically repudiated cultural-national autonomy".
(V. I. Lenin: "Marxism and the National Question", in: "Works", Volume 2; Moscow; l953;- p. 370).
It was this controversy on cultural-national autonomy which stimulated Stalin to write, in Vienna in 1913, the classic Marxist work on the national question, "Marxism and the National Question", published in March-May l913.

Lenin approved heartily of Stalin's work:
"As regards nationalism, . . we have a marvellous Georgian who has sat down to write a big article for 'Prosveshcheniye', for which he has collected all the Austrian and other material".
(V.I. Lenin: Letter to Maxim Gorky, February 1913, in: "Collected Works"; Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 84).
"This situation and the fundamentals of a national programme for Social-Democracy have recently been dealt with in Marxist theoretical literature (the most prominent place being taken by Stalin's article)".
(V. I. Lenin: "The National Programme of the RSDLP", in: "Collected Works", Volume 19; Moscow; 1963; p. 539) .
The campaign of the liquidator Mensheviks for a legally tolerated "open labour party" was associated with the concept that the "backward" Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party should "Europeanised" i.e. transformed into a social-democratic party of the tyep existing in Western Europe, where capitalist "democracy" had long been established and, furthermore, where the domination of opportunist trends was already clearly discernible. Trotsky played an important role in this campaign for the "Europeanisation" of the Russian Party:

"The vaunted 'Europeanisation’ . . .is being talked about in every possible tone by Dan and Martov and Trotsky and all the liquidators. It is one of the main points of their opportunism. . . The liquidators play at ‘European Social-Democracy’, although -- in the country where they amuse themselves with their game -- there is as yet no constitution, as yet no basis for ‘Europeanism’', and a revolutionary struggle has yet to be waged for them . . The liquidators describe as ‘Europeanism’ the conditions in which the Social-Democrats have been active in the principal countries of Europe since 1871, i.e., precisely at the time when the whole historical period of bourgeois revo1utions was over and when the foundations of political liberty had taken firm shape for a long time to come.
Opportunist intellectuals transplant the slogans of such 'European' campaigns to a soil lacking the most elementary foundations of European Constitutionalism, in an attempt to bypass the specific historical evolution which usually precedes the laying of these foundations".
(V. I. Lenin: "How P. B. Axelrod Exposes the Liquidators", in: "Collected Works", Volume 18; Moscow; 1963; p. l83-4; 185; 186).
1912-1913: Trotsky in the Balkans

Within a few weeks of the founding conference, it was clear to Trotsky that the "August Bloc" had already been proved abortive. He says in his autobiography, referring to September 1912:
"The August conference had already proved to be abortive" ;
(L. Trotsky: "My Life"; New York; 1970; p. 226.)
In this month he was offered the post of Balkan correspondent to the newspaper "Kievskaya Mysl" (Kievan Thought), and he left Vienna in October, just as there began the First Balkan War (October-December 1912) between Turkey on the one hand and Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Bulgaria on the other. This was continued as the Second Balkan War (January-May 1913). The Viennese "Pravda" ceased publication in December l912.

Trotsky returned briefly to Vienna at the beginning of 1913, and then returned to the Balkans to cover the Third Balkan War (June-August 1913) between Serbia and Greece on the one hand and Bulgaria on the other.

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