MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | History of CP Bolshevik

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4.
 
STRUGGLE OF THE BOLSHEVIKS AGAINST TROTSKYISM. ANTI-PARTY AUGUST BLOC

    At a time when the Bolsheviks were waging a relentless struggle on two fronts -- against the Liquidators and against the Otzovists -- defending the consistent line of the proletarian party, Trotsky supported the Menshevik Liquidators. It was at this period that Lenin branded him "Judas Trotsky." Trotsky formed a group of writers in Vienna (Austria) and began to publish an allegedly non-factional, but in reality Menshevik newspaper. "Trotsky behaves like a most despicable careerist and factionalist. . . . He pays lip service to the Party, but behaves worse than any other factionalist," wrote Lenin at the time.     Later, in 1912, Trotsky organized the August Bloc, a bloc of all the anti-Bolshevik groups and trends directed against Lenin and the Bolshevik Party. The Liquidators and the Otzovists united in this anti-Bolshevik bloc, thus demonstrating their kinship. Trotsky and the Trotskyites took up a liquidationist stand on all fundamental issues. But Trotsky masked his liquidationism under the guise of Centrism, that is, conciliationism; he claimed that he belonged to neither the Bolsheviks nor the Mensheviks and that he was trying to reconcile them. In this connection, Lenin said that Trotsky was more vile and pernicious than the open Liquidators, because he was trying to deceive the workers into believing that he was "above factions," whereas in fact he entirely supported the Menshevik Liquidators. The Trotskyites were the principal group that fostered Centrism.

    "Centrism," writes Comrade Stalin, "is a political concept. Its ideology is one of adaptation, of subordination of the interests of the proletariat to the interests of the petty-bourgeoisie within one common party. This ideology is alien and abhorrent to Leninism." (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II, "The Industrialization of the Country and the Right Deviation in the C.P.S.U.," p. 97.)

    At this period Kamenev, Zinoviev and Rykov were actually covert agents of Trotsky, for they often helped him against Lenin. With the aid of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov and other covert allies of Trotsky, a Plenum of the Central Committee was convened in January 1910 against Lenin's wishes. By that time the composition of the Central Committee had changed owing to the arrest of a number of Bolsheviks, and the vacillating elements were able to force through anti-Leninist decisions. Thus, it was decided at this plenum to close down the Bolshevik news paper Proletary and to give financial support to Trotsky's newspaper

Pravda, published in Vienna. Kamenev joined the editorial board of Trotsky's newspaper and together with Zinoviev strove to make it the organ of the Central Committee.

    It was only on Lenin's insistence that the January Plenum of the Central Committee adopted a resolution condemning liquidationism and otzovism, but here too Zinoviev and Kamenev insisted on Trotsky's proposal that the Liquidators should not be referred to as such.

    It turned out as Lenin had foreseen and forewarned: only the Bolsheviks obeyed the decision of the plenum of the Central Committee and closed down their organ, Proletary, whereas the Mensheviks continued to publish their financial liquidationist newspaper Golos Sotsial-Demokrat (Voice of the Social-Democrat ).

    Lenin's position was fully supported by Comrade Stalin who published a special article in Sotsial-Demokrat, No. 11, in which he condemned the conduct of the accomplices of Trotskyism, and spoke of the necessity of putting an end to the abnormal situation created within the Bolshevik group by the treacherous conduct of Kamenev, Zinoviev and Rykov. The article advanced as immediate tasks what was later carried into effect at the Prague Party Conference, namely, convocation of a general Party conference, publication of a Party newspaper appearing legally, and creation of an illegal practical Party centre in Russia. Comrade Stalin's article was based on decisions of the Baku Committee, which fully supported Lenin.

    To counteract Trotsky's anti-Party August Bloc, which consisted exclusively of anti-Party elements, from the Liquidators and Trotskyites to the Otzovists and "god-builders," a Party bloc was formed consisting of people who wanted to preserve and strengthen the illegal proletarian Party. This bloc consisted of the Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin, and a small number of pro-Party Mensheviks, headed by Plekhanov. Plekhanov and his group of pro-Party Mensheviks, while maintaining the Menshevik position on a number of questions, emphatically dissociated themselves from the August Bloc and the Liquidators and sought to reach agreement with the Bolsheviks. Lenin accepted Plekhanov's proposal and consented to a temporary bloc with him against the anti-Party elements on the ground that such a bloc would be advantageous to the Party and fatal to the Liquidators.

    Comrade Stalin fully supported this bloc. He was in exile at the time and from there wrote a letter to Lenin, saying:

    "In my opinion the line of the bloc (Lenin-Plekhanov) is the only correct one: 1) this line, and it alone, answers to the real inter-ests of the work in Russia, which demands that all Party elements should rally together; 2) this line, and it alone, will expedite the process of emancipation of the legal organizations from the yoke of the Liquidators, by digging a gulf between the Mek[*] workers and the Liquidators, and dispersing and disposing of the latter." (Lenin and Stalin, Russ. ed., Vol. I, pp. 529-30.)

    Thanks to a skilful combination of illegal and legal work, the Bolsheviks were able to become a serious force in the legal workers' organizations. This was revealed, incidentally, in the great influence which the Bolsheviks exercised on the workers' groups at four legally held congresses that took place at that period -- a congress of people's universities, a women's congress, a congress of factory physicians, and a temperance congress. The speeches of the Bolsheviks at these congresses were of great political value and awakened a response all over the country. For example, at the congress of people's universities, the Bolshevik workers' delegation exposed the policy of tsardom which stifled all cultural activity, and contended that no real cultural progress in the country was conceivable unless tsardom were abolished. The workers' delegation at the congress of factory physicians told of the frightfully unsanitary conditions in which the workers had to live and work, and drew the conclusion that factory hygiene could not be properly ensured until tsardom was overthrown.

    The Bolsheviks gradually squeezed the Liquidators out of the various legal organizations that still survived. The peculiar tactics of a united front with the Plekhanov pro-Party group enabled the Bolsheviks to win over a number of Menshevik worker organizations (in the Vyborg district, Ekaterinoslav, etc.).

    In this difficult period the Bolsheviks set an example of how legal work should be combined with illegal work.