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February-May 1914

The reader will see that at the Second Congress of the Party, which adopted the Programme, it was unanimously understood that self-determination meant “only” the right to secession. Even the Bundists grasped this truth at the time, and it is only in our own deplorable times of continued counter-revolution and all sorts of “apostasy” that we can find people who, bold in their ignorance, declare that the programme is “vague”. But before devoting time to these sorry would-be Social- Democrats, let us first finish with the attitude of the Poles to the Programme.

They came to the Second Congress (1903) declaring that unity was necessary and imperative. But they left the Congress after their “reverses” in the Programme Commission, and their last word was a
written statement, printed in the Minutes of the Congress, containing the above-mentioned proposal to substitute cultural-national autonomy for self-determination.

In 1906 the Polish Marxists joined the Party; neither upon joining nor afterwards (at the Congress of 1907, the conferences of 1907 and 1908, or the plenum of 1910) did they introduce a single proposal to amend §9 of the Russian programme!

That is a fact.

And, despite all utterances and assurances, this fact definitely proves that Rosa Luxemburg’s friends regarded the question as having been settled by the debate at the Programme Commission of the Second Congress, as well as by the decision of that Congress, and that they tacitly acknowledged their mistake and corrected it by joining the Party in 1906, after they had left the Congress in 1903, without a single attempt to raise the question of amending §9 of the programme through Party channels.

Rosa Luxemburg’s article appeared over her signature in l908—of course, it never entered anyone’s head to deny Party publicists the right to criticise the programme—and, since the writing of this article, not a single official body of the Polish Marxists has raised the question of revising § 9.

Trotsky was therefore rendering a great disservice to certain admirers of Rosa Luxemburg when he 
wrote, on behalf of the editors of Borba in issue No. 2 of that publication (March 1914):

“The Polish Marxists consider that ‘the right to national self-determination’ is entirely devoid of  political content and should be deleted from the programme” (p. 25).

The obliging Trotsky is more dangerous than an enemy! Trotsky could produce no proof, except “private conversations” (i.e., simply gossip, on which Trotsky always subsists), for classifying “Polish Marxists” in general as supporters of every article by Rosa Luxemburg. Trotsky presented the “Polish Marxists” as people devoid of honour and conscience, incapable of respecting even their own convictions and the programme of their Party. How obliging Trotsky is!

When, in 1903, the representatives of the Polish Marxists walked out of the Second Congress over the right to self-determination, Trotsky could have said at the time that they regarded this right asdevoid of content and subject to deletion from the programme.

But after that the Polish Marxists joined the Party whose programme this was, and they have never introduced a motion to amend it.*

Why did Trotsky withhold these facts from the readers of his journal? Only because it pays him to speculate on fomenting differences between the Polish and the Russian opponents of liquidationism and to deceive the Russian workers on the question of the programme.

Trotsky has never yet held a firm opinion on any important question of Marxism. He always contrives to worm his way into the cracks of any given difference of opinion, and desert one side for theother. At the present moment he is in the company of the Bundists and the liquidators. And thesegentlemen do not stand on ceremony where the Party is concerned.

V. I. Lenin, Collected Works,

Vol. 20, pp. 446-48
We are ınformed that the Polısh Marxists attended the Summer Conference of the Russian Marxists in 1913 with only a consultative voice and did not vote at all on the right to self- determination (secession), declaring their opposition to this right in general. Of course, they had a perfect right to act the way they did, and, as hitherto, to agitate in Poland against secession. But this is not quite what Trotsky said; for the Polish Marxists did not demand the “deletion” of §9 “from the programme”.

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