in 1908. Within the Latvian organisation and the Bund at one time the liquidationist, at another the anti-liquidationist elements gained the upper hand. As for the Poles, they sided with the Mensheviks in 1903, with the Bolsheviks in 1905, and in 1912 made an unsuccessful attempt at a "reconciliation" with the liquidators.
This latter failure the author diffidently tries to cover up with the following phrase: "At the beginning a representative of the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania also attended this Conference". Why only at the beginning ? We find the explanation of this diffident silence in the official communique of the Bund about this Conference. There it says in black and white that the representative of the Poles withdrew from the Conference and submitted a written statement, which said that it had become impossible for him to collaborate with the Conference because it revealed a spirit of bias and a partiality for the liquidators !
To be sure, it is much easier to heap up hollow and meaningless phrases about "unity" (with the liquidators?), as the author is fond of doing, than to study the real essence of the trend of the liquidators, their refusal to help rebuild the Party, and their work of disrupting the Central Committee of the Party. And it is all-the more easy to indulge in phrase-mongering if at the same time silence is maintained regarding the fact that the representative of the Poles refused to work jointly (because such work would be fruitless), not with the Bolsheviks or Leninists, God forbid, but with the Bundists and Latvians.
But what, really, is the origin of liquidationism, and why was it necessary for the Conference of 1912 to constitute itself the supreme Party authority and to expel the liquidators?
The counter-revolution in Russia gave rise to a very pronounced process of disintegration in the ranks of our Party. Persecutions of unparalleled fury rained down upon the proletariat. Defection assumed wide proportions in the ranks of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois fellow-travellers, who had naturally joined the proletariat as the leader of our bourgeois revolution in 1905, began to turn their backs on the Social-Democratic Party. This defection took two forms -- that of liquidationism and of otzovism. The nucleus of the former was made up of the majority of Menshevik writers
(Potresov, Levitsky, Larin, Martov, Dan, Martynov, etc.). They declared that the illegal Party had already been liquidated and that any attempt to revive it was a reactionary utopia. Their slogan was: an open labour party. Obviously, under the political conditions prevailing in Russia, where even the party of the liberals, the Cadets, had no legal status, the formation of an open Social-Democratic working-class party can only remain wishful thinking. The liquidators repudiated the illegal party, but did not fulfil their obligation to found a legal party. In the long run, all they did was to write articles in the legal press in which they ridiculed the "underground", declared, in unison with the liberals, that it was dead, and extolled the virtues-of a liberal labour policy. Plekhanov was absolutely right when he compared the liquidationist Nasha Zarya to the German Sozialistische Monatshefte. The Menshevik Plekhanov (to say nothing of the Bolsheviks) declared ruthless war on the liquidationist trend, refused to contribute to any of their publications and broke off relations with Martov and Axelrod. "A man for whom our Party does not exist," wrote Plekhanov in the Central Organ about Potresov, "does not himself exist for our Party." As far back as December 1908, a Party conference emphatically condemned liquidationism, which it described as "an attempt on the part of a group of Party intellectuals to liquidate the existing organisation of the R.S.D.L.P. and to replace it [note this well!] by a loose association that is legal, no matter what it costs ". It is obvious that, far from denying that it is essential to make use of all legal opportunities, the R.S.D.L.P. has stressed this point in no unmistakable terms. However, an open legal party in Russia is out of the question, and only opportunist intellectuals can speak about such a party. The type of our Party organisation may to a certain extent, of course, be compared to the German type of Party organisation at the time the Anti-Socialist Law was in operation: a legally functioning group in Parliament, all sorts of legally existing workers' associations, as an indispensable condition, but with the illegal Party organisation as the foundation.
The "otzovists" wanted to recall the Social-Democratic group from the Third Duma, and issued the slogan
calling for a boycott of that Duma. The otzovists were joined by a section of the Bolsheviks, on whom Lenin and others declared implacable war. The otzovists and their defenders formed the Vperyod group, and the writers collaborating in the magazine of that name (Maximov, Lunacharsky, Bogdanov, Alexinsky) have been preaching various forms of the idealistic philosophy, which they describe by the grand name of "proletarian philosophy", and the amalgamation of religion with socialism. This group has never exerted any perceptible influence, and it led some sort of existence only by pursuing a policy of compromise with various impotent groups abroad which had lost all contact with Russia. Such groups, inevitable in every split, vacillate now to one side, now to the other; they engage in cheap politics, but represent no definite trend and their activity expresses itself mainly in petty intrigue. One of these groups is represented by Trotsky's Pravda.
It is clear, of course, to every Marxist that both liquidationism and otzovism are petty-bourgeois tendencies which attract the bourgeois fellow-travellers of the Social-Democratic Party. "Peace" or "conciliation" with these tendencies is something excluded a priori. The alternative facing the Social-Democratic Party was either to perish or to rid itself entirely of these tendencies.
That this theoretical conclusion is correct was proved by the attempt at conciliation made in January 1910, when the last Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee declared unanimously, with the liquidators and otzovists concurring, that neither of these tendencies is Social-Democratic. But things did not go further than pious wishes. True, both the liquidators and the otzovists "signed" the appropriate resolution, but they continued with all their might to conduct their anti-Party propaganda, and maintained their own organisations. All through 1910 the fight against both tendencies was steadily growing sharper. Plekhanov's words quoted above are dated May 1910, and in May 1910 Lenin declared on behalf of the Bolsheviks that, since the liquidators had violated the January resolution there could be no question of conciliation with them.*
* See V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 16, "Notes of a Publicist. II". --Ed.
The attempt to revive the Central Committee in Russia failed because the liquidators refused their assistance. A last means of saving the cause of "unity" was to convene a meeting of the Central Committee abroad. This attempt was made in May 1911. Of the fifteen members of the Central Committee, nine were abroad. Eight came to the meeting, but two liquidators -- Igorev, adherent of Golos, and a Bundist (Ber) -- immediately withdrew and thus finally wrecked the Central Committee of the Party.
The refusal of the liquidators to participate in the Central Committee meant their complete secession and the dissolution of the Central Committee. Only one central body still remained abroad at the time -- the so-called Central Committee Bureau Abroad. The Bolsheviks withdrew from it when the Central Committee ceased to exist. Only the Poles, Latvians, Bundists and members of the Golos group (the liquidators abroad) remained. The reader who is familiar with the article in Vorwärts can thus see for himself that it was the same outfit as that of the notorious conference called by the Bund; for the Transcaucasian Regional Committee had commissioned Golos supporters to represent it as far back as 1908. Now, let us see what these "oldest and strongest Russian organisations" -- to use the words in which our anonymous author describes this latest discovery of his -- have done? They could not agree, and even dissolved the Bureau Abroad themselves ! Already in the autumn of 1911 the Central Committee Bureau Abroad published a statement in which it announced its own dissolution, and Plekhanov, in his Diary, commented on this in the following lines: "Requiescat in pace! This Party institution, which became a weapon in the hands of gentry who strove to liquidate the Party and therefore exposed the Russian Social-Democratic movement to grave peril, could render the revolutionary proletariat only one service: to die in good time". (The Diary of a Social-Democrat, Part 2. Supplement to No. 15, p. 1.) This opinion, voiced by Plekhanov, of whom nobody can say that he is a supporter of the Conference, shows with sufficient cogency how ridiculous is the pretence of those who shout about "usurpation" and similar things!
One more course remained open to bring about the unity of the Party, viz., to call a conference of Russian organisations. The national organisations of the Poles, the Latvians and the Bundists, utterly divorced as they were from the work in Russia, could do absolutely nothing for such a conference.
On November 26, 1910, Trotsky issued an appeal calling for a conference. He had the support (in words) of the Vperyod and Golos groups (the liquidators abroad). But as might have been foreseen, all the efforts of these groups, owing to their impotence, were fruitless.
In June 1911 an appeal signed by the Bolsheviks, "conciliators" (otherwise known as "pro-Party Bolsheviks") and the Poles was issued. The first step in the work was to invite the strongest organisation at the time, namely, the Kiev organisation. October 1911 saw the inauguration of the Russian (i.e., working in Russia, set up by the Russian organisations) Organising Commission for the convening of a conference. This Commission was formed by the Kiev, Ekaterinoslav, Tiflis, Baku and Ekaterinburg organisations, which were soon joined by twenty more organisations. The enlistment of representatives of the Russian organisations revealed at once the absolute preponderance of the Bolsheviks (so-called "Leninists") and the pro-Party Mensheviks. Inde ira [*] of the groups abroad which found themselves "disavowed", because they had no followers in Russia.
In January 1912 the Russian Organising Commission at last convened the Conference, which all the Russian organisations, without exception, had been invited to attend. Neither the liquidators, nor the "non-Russians" (the Poles, the Latvians, and the Bund), nor the vacillating groups abroad sent delegates. When the Conference was convinced that the Russian organisations were represented as fully as possible considering the unprecedentedly difficult conditions under which the Party worked, when it established that without a central body in Russia the Party was doomed, that the split abroad was continuing and that the forthcoming elections to the Fourth Duma demanded the rebuilding of the Party without any further delay, it had to constitute itself the supreme authority of the Party, elect a Central Committee and place the liquidators outside the Party.
* Hence the ire. --Ed.
Such was the course and the outcome of the protracted fight. The future will show whether the liquidators will succeed in creating an "open" party, or whether they will concoct some kind of fiction of a party on the basis of a rotten compromise.
Are there any clear and easily verifiable data on the strength of the liquidators and the pro-Party people, the followers of the Conference, in Russia itself ? Yes, there are. There exist two -- and only two -- all-Russia political organs in Russia, to which Marxist writers and members of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma contribute. These organs represent trends -- not like the sheets abroad, which are full of abuse, but in the form of open and serious literary work carried on over a number of years. To be sure, they are not Party organs; they are strictly legal and keep within the bounds fixed by the regime now existing in Russia. However, all the most important shades of theoretical thought in the ranks of the Social-Democratic movement find in these organs, on the whole, an unquestionably correct expression. Only two "trends" -- liquidationism and anti- liquidationism (the followers of the Conference) -- are represented; for no other more or less serious "trends" exist. All those tiny groups, such as the Pravda, Vperyod, "pro-Party Bolsheviks" (or "conciliators", inclining to conciliatory sentiments), etc., count for nothing. The views of the liquidators find expression in Russia in the monthly Nasha Zarya (founded in 1910) and in the weekly Zhivoye Dyelo (last issue No. 8). The views of the Party people (Bolsheviks and pro-Party Mensheviks) find expression in the monthly Prosveshcheniye  (founded in 1911 -- previously appeared under the name of Mysl ) and in the newspaper Zvezda (last issue No. 53). There is nothing more erroneous than the view that the pro-Party Social-Democrats repudiate "legal" activity. The very opposite is the truth, since in this activity too they are stronger than the liquidators. The sole undisputed all-Russia open organisation of legally functioning Social-Democrats is the Social-Democratic group in the Duma. It is strictly legal and is not directly connected with the Party. But all its members are known, and it is also known which trend each of them represents.
The liquidationist Zhivoye Dyelo counts among its permanent contributors two members of the group in the Duma -- Astrakhantsev and Kuznetsov.[*] In the anti-liquidationist Zvezda there are eight members of the group -- Voronin, Voiloshnikov, Yegorov, Zakharov, Pokrovsky, Predkaln, Poletayev, and Surkov. Two members of the Duma, Chkheidze and Gegechkori, contribute to neither of these organs. One (Shurkanov) contributes to both.
The ratio is 2 to 8! These are indeed indisputable, easily verifiable and clear data enabling us to judge of the relation of forces between the liquidators and the anti-liquidators.
This being so it is unnecessary to waste words on the unknown author's tall talk to the effect that the overwhelming majority follows the liquidators, etc. These
phrases à la Tartarin de Tarascon are all too reminiscent of Trotsky,[**] so that it is not worth while discussing them seriously.
The struggle within the R.S.D.L.P. at times assumes very bitter forms. Nothing else could be expected under the conditions of life in exile; nothing else could ever be expected in any other country whose lot it was to endure counter-revolution and exile.
It is nothing but frivolous on the part of anyone to "condemn" these forms of the struggle in high-sounding phrases, to brush them aside and merely indulge in philistine and unctuous reflections on the "merits of unity". Anyone who seriously intends to study the history of the R.S.D.L.P. in the trying period 1908-11 will find at his disposal plenty of illegal and even more of legal literature. This literature contains highly instructive material on the nature of the trends, the fundamental significance of the differences, the roots of the fight, the circumstances and conditions of its development, etc.
* Until recently there was also Belousov. Now this extreme liquidator -- a Russian Bissolati -- has resigned from the group in the Duma. The latter has publicly warned all the voters of this, and has demanded his resignation from the Duma. A minor example showing to what lengths consistent liquidationism goes at times!
** At the time of the Copenhagen Congress Trotsky published in Vorwärts an anonymous article full of such vile attacks upon the R.S.D.L.P. that not only Lenin, but Plekhanov and Warski as well, both members of the Russian delegation, felt obliged to send a written protest to the Executive Committee.
No Social-Democratic Party in the world was ever formed, particularly in the period of bourgeois revolutions -- without a hard struggle and a number of splits with the bourgeois fellow-travellers of the proletariat. The same is true of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, which ever since 1898 has been taking shape, growing, gaining in strength and becoming tempered, despite all obstacles, in the hard struggle against such fellow-travellers.