August 21, 2018

Letter to the Russian Collegium of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P

Lenin 
December 1910
Collected Works Volume 17 pages 17-22.

Recent events in the life of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party abroad clearly show that the “unity crisis” of the Party is coming to a head. I, therefore, consider it my duty, solely by way of information, to let you know the significance of recent happenings, the denouement that may be expected (according to this course of events) and the position adopted by orthodox Bolsheviks.

In Golos, No. 23, Martov in his article “Where Have We Landed?” gibes at the Plenary Meeting, at the fact that the Russian Collegium of the Central Committee has not met once during the year, and that nothing has been done to carry out the decisions. He, of course, “forgets” to add that it is precisely the liquidator group of Potresovs that has sabotaged the work of the Russian Central Committee; we know of the non-recognition of the Central Committee by Mikhail, Roman, and Yuri, and their statement that its very existence is harmful. The C.C. in Russia has been wrecked. Martov rejoices at this. It stands to reason that the Vperyod group also rejoices, and this is reflected in the Vperyod symposium, No. 1. In his glee, Martov has blurted out his views prematurely. He screams with delight that “legality will finish them” (the Bolsheviks or the “Polish Bolshevik bloc”). By this he means that thanks to the obstruction of the Central Committee’s work by the liquidators, there is no way out of the present situation that would be legal from the Party point of view. Obviously, nothing pleases the liquidators more than a hopeless situation for the Party.

But Martov was in too much of a hurry. The Bolsheviks still have at their disposal an archi-legal means of emerging from this situation as foreseen by the Plenary Meeting and published in its name in No. 11 of the Central Organ This is the demand for the return of the funds, because the Golos and Vperyod groups obviously have not abided by the terms agreed on—to eliminate factions and to struggle against the liquidators and the otzovists.It was precisely on these conditions, clearly agreed to, that the Bolsheviks handed over their property to the Central Committee.

Then, on the 5th December, 1910 (New Style), the Bolsheviks, having signed the conditions at the Plenary Meeting applied for the return of the funds. According to legal procedure this demand must lead to the convening of a plenary meeting. The decision of the Plenary Meeting states that “should it prove impossible” (literally!) for a plenary meeting to take place within three months from the date of the application, then a commission of five members of the C.C.—three from the national, non-Russian, parties, one Bolshevik and one Menshevik—is to be set up.

Immediately, the Golos supporters revealed themselves in their true colours. The Golos, supporter Igor, a member of the Central Committee Bureau Abroad,]conscious of the policy of the Russian liquidators, handed in a statement that he was against holding a plenary meeting, but was in favour of a commission. The violation of legality by the Golos group is thus apparent, since a plenary meeting may be convened before the conclusion of the three-month period. Once such a request has been made it is not even permissible to raise the question of a commission.

The liquidator Igor, true servant of the Party traitors, Messrs. Potresov and Co., calculates quite simply that the plenary meeting is a sovereign body and consequently its session would open the door to a solution of the whole Party crisis. A commission, however, is not a sovereign body and has no rights apart from the investigation into the claim put forward in the application. (Three Germans are now considering this claim.) Hence, having obstructed the Russian Central Committee, the liquidators (and their lackeys abroad, the Golos group) are now trying to prevent anything in the nature of a Central Committee from working. We shall yet see whether this attempt succeeds. The Poles in the Central Committee Bureau Abroad are voting for the plenary meeting. It now all depends on the Latvians and the Bund members, from whom so far no reply has been received. Our representative in the Bureau Abroad has submitted and distributed a firm protest against Igor. (Copies of Igor’s statement and this protest are attached here with.)

It has become clear that the struggle for the plenary meeting is a struggle for a legal way out, a struggle for the Party. The fight of the Golos group against the plenary meeting is a fight against a way out of the Party crisis, is a fight against legality.

Plekhanov and his friends, whom we kept informed of every step, are in complete agreement with us on the necessity for a plenary meeting. They, too, are in favour of it; the draft of our joint statement on this matter is now being considered, and in the near future we shall either come for ward with a statement together with Plekhanov’s group, or we shall publish an article on the question in the Central Organ.

Further, on the 26th November (N.S.), 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) which he published as a separate leaflet. I append this leaflet.

In this resolution, open war is declared on Rabochaya Gazeta,the organ of the Bolsheviks and Plekhanov’s group. The arguments are not new. The statement that there are now “no essential grounds” for a struggle against the Golos and Vperyod groups is the height of absurdity and hypocrisy. Everybody knows that the Golos and Vperyodpeople had no intention of dispersing their factions and that the former in reality support the liquidators, Potresov and Co., that the Vperyod group organised the factional school abroad (using funds of well-known origin), where they teach Machism, where they teach that otzovism is a “legal shade of opinion” (taken literally from their platform), etc., etc.

Trotsky;s call for “friendly” collaboration by the Party with the Golos and Vperyod groups is disgusting hypocrisy and phrase-mongering. Everybody is aware that for the whole year since the Plenary Meeting the Golos and Vperyod groups have worked in a “friendly” manner against the Party (and were secretly supported by Trotsky). Actually, it is only the Bolsheviks and Plekhanov’s group who have for a whole year carried out friendly Party work in the Central Organ, in Rabochaya Gazeta, and at Copenhagen,as well as in the Russian legal press.

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 R.S.D.L.P.”.

This indeed is new. It is a direct step towards a split. It is a clear violation of Party legality and the start of an adventure in which Trotsky will come to grief. This is obviously a split. Trotsky’s action, his “fund”, is supported only by the Color and Vperyod groups. There can be no question of participation by the Bolsheviks and Plekhanov ’s group. That the liquidators (of Color) in Zurich have already supported Trotsky is comprehensible. It is quite possible and probable that “certain” Vperyod “funds” will be made available to Trotsky. You will appreciate that this will only stress the adventurist character of his undertaking.

It is clear that this undertaking violates Party legality, since not a word is said about the Central Committee, which alone can call the conference. In addition, Trotsky, having ousted the C.C. representative on Pravda in August 1910, himself lost all trace of legality, converting Pravda from an organ supported by the representative of the C.C. into a purely factional organ.

Thus, the whole matter has taken on definite shape, the situation has clarified itself. The Vperyod group collected “certain funds” for struggle against the Party, for support of the “legal shade of opinion” (otzovism). Trotsky in the last number of Pravda (and in his lecture in Zurich) goes all out to flirt with Vperyod. The liquidators in Russia sabotaged the work of the Russian Central Committee. The liquidators abroad want to prevent a plenary meeting abroad—in other words, sabotage anything like a Central Committee. Taking advantage of this “violation of legality”, Trotsky seeks an organisational split, creating “his own” fund for “his own” conference.

The roles have been assigned. The Golos group defend Potresov and Co., as a “legal shade of opinion”, the Vperyod group defend otzovism, as a “legal shade of opinion”. Trotsky seeks to defend both camps in a “popular fashion”, and to call his conference (possibly on funds supplied by Vperyod). The Triple Alliance (Potresov+Trotsky+Maximov) against the Dual Alliance (Bolsheviks+Plekhanov’s group). The deployment of forces has been completed and battle joined.

You will understand why I call Trotsky’s move an adventure; it is an adventure in every respect.

It is an adventure in the ideological sense. Trotsky groups all the enemies of Marxism, he unites Potresov and Maximov, who detest the “Lenin-Plekhanov” bloc, as they like to call it. Trotsky unites all to whom ideological decay is dear, all who are not concerned with the defence of Marxism; 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. At this time of confusion, disintegration, and wavering it is easy for Trotsky to become the “hero of the hour” and gather all the shabby elements around himself, The more openly this attempt is made, the more spectacular will be the defeat.

It is an adventure in the party-political sense. At present everything goes to show that the real unity of the Social-Democratic Party is possible only on the basis of a sincere and unswerving repudiation of liquidationism and otzovism. It is clear that Potresov (together with Golos) and the Vperyod group have renounced neither the one nor the other. Trotsky unites them, basely deceiving himself, deceiving the Party, and deceiving the proletariat. In reality, Trotsky will achieve nothing more than the strengthening of Potresov’s and Maximov’s anti-Party groups. The collapse of this adventure is inevitable.

Finally, it is an organisational adventure. A conference held with Trotsky’s “funds”, without the Central Committee, is a split. Let the initiative remain with Trotsky. Let his be the responsibility.

Three slogans bring out the essence of the present situation within the Party:

1. Strengthen and support the unification and rallying of Plekhanov’s supporters and the Bolsheviks for the defence of Marxism, for a rebuff to ideological confusion, and for the battle against liquidationism and otzovism.

2. Struggle for a plenary meeting—for a legal solution to the Party crisis.

3. Struggle against the splitting tactics and the unprincipled adventurism of Trotsky in handing Potresov and Maximov against Social-Democracy.