V. I. Lenin


Pravda No. 13, January 21, 1921
Signed: N. Lenin

Published according to the Pravda text collated wlth the text of the pamphlet: N. Lenin, Party Crisis, 1921,

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965

Vol. 32, pp. 43-53.

Translated from the Russian Edited by Yuri Sdobnikov

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (June 1997)

      [12] The Workers' Opposition -- an anti-Party anarcho-syndicalist group under the leadership of A. G. Shlyapnikov, S. P. Medveayev, A. M. Kollontai, I. I. Kutuzov, Y. K. Lutovinov, etc. It first came out under its demagogic name at the Ninth All-Russia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) in September 1920.
        In November the group launched a factional struggle undermining the unity of the Party and organised a special discussion at the Moscow Gubernia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.). It took final shape as the Workers' Opposition in 1920-21 during the discussion on the trade unions. Its views constituted an anarcho-syndicalist deviation within the Party and were expounded in full in Kollontai's pamphlet, The Workers' Opposition, published on the eve of the Tenth Party Congress, proposing that the national economy should be run by an All-Russia Congress of Producers organised in industrial trade unions. It wanted all economic bodies to be elected by the trade unions, with Party and Soviet organs having no power to reject the candidates nominated by the trade unions. It denied that the Party had the leading role to play in socialist construction and that the dictatorship of the proletariat was the Party's chief instrument. It said it was not the Party but the trade unions that were the highest form of workers' organisation.
        The Workers' Opposition had some temporary support among workers swayed by petty-bourgeois influence and tried to use their vacillation to promote its narrow interests. It also had some sympathisers in central and local Party organisations. Thus, its platform won 21 per cent of the vote at the Moscow Gubernia Party Conference in November 1920; 30 per cent at the Communist group meeting of the Second All-Russia Congress of Miners in early 1921, but less than 6 per cent at the Tenth Party Congress. The Congress completely defeated the Workers' Opposition; this was the result of the Party's educational work exposing the Opposition's demagogic anti-Party views. It lost ground among the rank and file and was heavily defeated at the Tenth Congress. Lenin's resolution, "On the Syndicalist and Anarchist Deviation in our Party", stressed that the views of the Workers' Opposition were wrong theoretically and "tended to weaken the Communist Party's consistent general line, actually helping the class enemy of the proletarian revolution". See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The C.P.S.U. in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and C.C. Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, p. 532). The Congress decided that the propaganda of the Workers' Opposition ideas was incompatible with membership in the Party. Its resolution on the Party's unity demanded the immediate dissolution of all anti-Party groups, whatever their platforms. Most rank-and-file members of the Opposition broke with the group and gave sincere support to the Party's line. But Shlyapnikov and Medvedyev headed the remnants in an illegal organisation which continued to conduct anti-Party propaganda behind a facade of ultra-revolutionary phrases. In February 1922, they sent to the Executive Committee of the Comintern their "Declaration of 22", a slanderous attack on the Party. The Executive Committee studied the "Declaration", condemned the group, and warned that any further activity on their part would put them outside the Third International. Their organisational defeat was completed by the Party's Eleventh Congress in 1922.    [p.46]

      [13] At a joint meeting of the Party groups of the Eighth Congress of Soviets, the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions and the Moscow City Council of Trade Unions, an argument took place as to whether Y. E. Rudzutak was the author of the theses, The Tasks of the Trade Unions in Production. Lenin asked the Trade Union Central Council for documents on the origin of the theses. He was given an extract from record No. 44 of the minutes of November 1, and a covering note from S. A. Lozovsky. The extract proved that the Presidium had discussed and adopted Rudzutak's theses as a basis and had instructed M. P. Tomsky and Rudiutak to put finishing touches to the theses. The note said this was done by Rudzutak alone. The Fifth All-Russia Conference of Trade Unions heard Rudzutak's report, adopted his theses as a basis and elected a commission, consisting of G. V. Tsiperovich, A. A. Andreyev and Rudzutak, to edit them. They worked out several points and amplified the theses.
        Lenin sent the documents and Rudzutak's theses to Pravda with his covering letter, which said: "I request the Editorial Board to publish Rudzutak's theses, which were adopted by the Fifth All-Russia Trade Union Conference of November 2-6, 1920, and are indispensable to the discussion. I enclose additional material on the disagreements in Party circles concerning the origin of these theses." The documents and Lenin's Ietter were published in Pravda No. 13 on January 21, 1921.    [p.47]

      [14] The "Appeal to the Party" was adopted at a discussion meeting of the representatives of Petrograd district Party organisations on January 3, 1921. On January 6, it was approved by a city meeting in People's House which was attended by over 4,000 Party members and candidates. Only 20 votes were cast against it. When it was discussed in the district Party organisations it had the support of 95-98 per cent of the membership.
        The Petrograd Bolsheviks supported Lenin and opposed Trotsky on the question of the trade unions' role and tasks. They called the other Party organisations to follow Lenin and stressed the danger of Trotsky's platform, for its realisation would have abolished the trade unions and undermined the dictatorship of the proletariat. Pravda No. 7 of January 13 published the Appeal and also the counter-statement of the Moscow Party Committee, which at that time took a "buffer" stand. In a resolution published in the same issue of Pravda the Moscow Committee said that it found "it absolutely impossible" to accept the Petrograd proposals; it said the Petrograd Party organisation's stand showed its "extremely dangerous" tendency to become a special centre for preparing thc Party Congress; it did not condemn Trotsky's establishment of a faction, thereby giving support to his anti-Party struggle.    [p.48]

      [15] Draft Decision of the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P. on the Role and Tasks of the Trade Unions was Lenin's "Platform of 10" tabled before the Central Committee by a group of members of the C.C. and of thc Central Committee's Trade Union Commission in opposition to the platforms of the anti-Party groups. It defined the role of the trade unions in the light of the new tasks connected with the end of the Civil War and transition to peaceful socialist construction: the trade unions, being a school of administration, a school of economic management, a school of communism, were chiefly to take part in government, train personnel for government bodies and economic agencies, and help tighten labour discipline. They were to base their work on education, persuasion and democratic practices. The Tenth Congress's resolution on the role and tasks of the trade unions was based on the "Platform of 10", which during the discussion had been supported by a majority of local Party organisations.    [p.48]

      [16] An opportunist faction headed by M. S. Boguslavsky, A. Z. Kamensky, V. N. Maximovsky, N. Osinsky, Raphail (P. B. Farbman) and T. V. Sapronov. They first came out against Lenin's line in Party and Soviet organisation at the Eighth Party Congress. At the Ninth Congress, they had their own rapporteurs on economic construction and organisational problems, but failed to find any support among the Bolsheviks. On many questions they had backing only from the Mensheviks.
        They denied the Party's leading role in the Soviets and trade unions and demanded freedom of factions and groups, and a merger of the Council of People's Commissars and the Presidium of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, they opposed the subordination of local to central organs and wanted the Organisation Bureau of the Central Committee deprived of all say in political leadership, which would have split up the C.C.'s political and organisational unity. They opposed one-man management and the personal responsibility of managers in industry. In the Ukraine, they were against the "Poor Peasants' Committees" which were instruments of the proletariat's dictatorship in the countryside.
        The group published its platform during the trade union discussion in 1920-21, but at the pre-Congress meetings it won only a handful of votes. At the Tenth Congress they withdrew their platform and allowed their members to vote freely. They continued to fight the Party on questions of organisation, on which V. N. Maximovsky delivered a co-report. After the Tenth Congress, only the leaders continued their anti-Party activity. In 1923, they joined the Trotskyites, and in 1926, formed the "Group of 15" headed by Sapronov and Smirnov, which was expelled from the Party by the Fifteenth Party Congross.    [p.49]

      [17] Ignatovites or "a group of activists of Moscow city districts" was an anti-Party anarcho-syndicalist group, headed by Y. N. Ignatov, during the trade union discussion of 1920-21. Its activity was limited to the Moscow Party organisation, because it had no influence among the city's workers and rank-and-file Party members. Before the Tenth Party Congress, it came out with two platforms: the current tasks of the trade unions, and Party organisation. The Ignatovites shared the anarcho-syndicalist views of the Workers' Opposition; they set the trade unions in opposition to the Soviet state, denied the Party's leadorship in socialist construction: opposed democratic centralism; demanded freedom of discussions, and wanted the Party membership to consist of workers only. They also demanded the handover of the administration of the economy to an organ elected by the All-Russia Trade Union Congress, but in contrast to the Workers' Opposition, they wanted the organ confirmed by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee as well. At the Tenth Congress, Ignatov was the official rapporteur of the Workers' Opposition on problems of Party organisation. After the Congress, the group broke up.    [p.49]

      [18] The reference is to the merger of the anti-Party Vperyod group (which consisted of otzovists, ultimatumists, and god-builders) with Menshevik liquidators and Trotskyites. They united after the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of thf Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party to fight its decisions. They led a mali- cious campaign against ths Bolsheviks in an effort to split the workers' revolutionary movement and weaken the proletarian Party. They formed a bloc demanding the "transformation" of the Party, which, in fact, implied its liquidation. The bloc, which had no principles to hold it together, was unstable and soon fell apart.    [p.51]

      [19] The reference is to the trade union discussion at an enlarged session of the Moscow Party Committee together with delegates from Party organisations of Moscow city districts and uyezds on January 17, 1921.
        The session debated all the draft theses put forward by various groups during the discussion. In the preliminary voting, Lenin's theses got 76 votes; Trotsky's, 27; Bukharin's, 5; Shlyapnikov's, 4; Sapronov's, 11; Ignatov's, 25; Nogin's, none, and Ryazanov's, none. In the re-vote on the two main platforms, 84 votes were cast for Lenin's theses, and 27, for Trotsky's.
        On January 18, the Moscow Party Committee adopted an appeal "To All Party Organisations" asking all Party members to give unanimous support to Lenin's platform.    [p.51]