Helplessness and Confusion

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V. I. Lenin



Pravda No. 115, May 21, 1913
Signed: V. Ilyin

Published according to
the Pravda text

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1968

First printing 1963
Second printing 1968

Vol. 19, pp. 108-09.

Translated from the Russian by George Hanna
Edited by Robert Daglish

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,
 (June 2002)

page 108



    The reasons for the chaos and confusion among modern Social-Democrats and "near Social-Democrats" are not only external (persecutions, etc.), but also internal. A huge number of old "prominent Party people" are completely confused, they have understood absolutely nothing about the new state of affairs (the counter-revolution of the June Third system), and their helpless "dithering" -- today to the left, tomorrow to the right -- has caused hopeless confusion in everything they undertake.

    A perfect example of this embarrassment, helplessness and confusion is to be found in the article by A. Vlasov in Luch No. 109 (195).

    There is not a single idea, a single sound word in the whole of Vlasov's article. It is all confusion and helpless limping after the liquidators combined with futile efforts to disassociate himself from them. It is not true that "formerly" our Party was sometimes built up "without the workers themselves", or that "the activities of tbe underground amounted largely (!!?) to abstract (!?) propaganda of the ideas of socialism". The history of the old Iskra (1900-03). which created the Party programme and the fundamentals of Party tactics, fully refutes this. It is not true that the Party's task today is "open work (!!?), but the secret organisation of it". A. Vlasov has completely failed to understand the liquidationist content of the slogan "struggle for an open party", although it was explained in Pravda No. 108 (312), popularly and not for the first time.

    It is not true that Pravda advises "adopting the work of the old Party organisation as an example". "It is essential

page 109

<"p109"> to outline, even if briefly, the nature of the activity of this (new) underground, i.e., its tactics," says A. Vlasov with amusing pomposity ("we, the practical workers"). As far back as December 1908[42] the Party "outlined" its tactics (and in 1912[43] and 1913[44] confirmed and explained them) and its organisation, giving a clear "example" of old tasks and new forms of preparation. If A. Vlasov has not yet understood this he has only himself to blame: it is his fate to repeat fragments of liquidationism, the dispute with which, incidentally, has nothing to do with the "organisation question".


page 568



  <"en42">[42] Lenin here refers to the decisions passed by the Fifth (All-Russian) Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. held in Paris between December 21 and December 27, 1908 (January 3-9, 1909). The Conference was attended by 16 delegates with full powers: five Bolsheviks, three Mensheviks, five Polish Social-Democrats and three Bundists. Lenin represented the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.; he delivered a report on "The Tasks of the Party in the Present Situation"  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's The Fifth (All-Russian) Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. -- DJR]; he also spoke on the Social-Democratic Duma group and on organisational and other questions. At the Conference the Bolsheviks fought two opportunist trends in the Party -- liquidationism

page 569

and otzovism. On Lenin's proposal the Conference condemned liquidationism and called upon all Party organisations to struggle resolutely against all attempts to liquidate the Party. Bolshevik resolutions on all questions were adopted.    [p. 109]

  <"en43">[43] "In 1912" refers to the decisions of the Sixth (Prague) All-Russian Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. held from January 5 (18) to January 17 (30), 1912, which actually fulfilled the functions of a Party congress. Lenin guided the work of the Conference.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's The Sixth (Prague) All-Russian Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. -- DJR]
    The important business of the Conference was that of purging the Party of opportunists. The resolutions adopted on "Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators" and on "The Party Organisation Abroad" were of great importance both from the theoretical and from the practical points of view. The liquidators grouped around two legal publications, Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn ) and Dyelo Zhizni (Life's Cause ). The Conference put on record "that by its conduct the Nasha Zarya and Dyelo Zhizni group had definitely placed itself outside the Party". The liquidators were expelled from the R.S.D.L.P. The Conference condemned the activities of anti-Party groups abroad -- the Golos group of Mensheviks, the Vperyod group and Trotsky's group. It recognised the absolute necessity for a single Party organisation abroad promoting Party interests under the guidance and control of the Central Committee and resolved that groups abroad "which refuse to submit to the Russian centre of Social-Democratic activity, i.e., to the Central Committee, and which cause disorganisation by communicating with Russia independently and ignoring the Central Committee, have no right to use the name of the R.S.D.L.P." These resolutions played an important part in strengthening tho unity of the Marxist party in Russia.
    The Prague Conference played an outstanding part in the organisation of the Bolshevik Party a party of a new type. It summed up a whole historical epoch of the struggle of the Bolsheviks against the Mensheviks and strengthened the victory of the Bolsheviks. Party organisations in all localities were consolidated on the basis of the Conference decisions; the Conference also strengthened the Party as an all-Russian organisation, and outlined the political line and tactics of the Party under conditions of the new revolutionary upsurge. The Bolshevik Party, purged of the opportunists, headed a mighty new upsurgence of the revolutionary mass struggle.
    The Prague Conference was of great international significance. It offered revolutionary elements in the parties of the Second International a model of determined struggle against opportunism, pursuing the struggle as far as complete organisational rupture with the opportunists.    [p. 109]

  <"en44">[44] "In 1913" refers to the Joint Conference of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. and Party officials held in Cracow from December 26, 1912 to January 1, 1913 (January 8-14, 1913). Underground Party organisations in St. Petersburg, Moscow Region, the South, the Urals and the Caucasus were represented. Lenin presided over

page 570

the Conference and spoke on "The Revolutionary Upsurge, Strikes and the Party's Tasks" and on "The Attitude to Liquidationism, and Unity" (the texts of these speeches have been lost); Lenin also compiled or edited all the Conference resolutions and wrote the "Notification" of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. on the Conference.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's Notification and Resolutions of the Cracow Meeting of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. and Party Functionaries. -- DJR]
    The Conference took decisions on the most important questions of the working-class movement -- the tasks of the Party in connection with the new revolutionary upsurge and the growth of the strike movement, the building of the underground organisation, the work of the Social-Democratic Duma group, the insurance campaign, the Party press, the national Social-Democratic organisations, the struggle against liquidationism and the unity of the party of the proletariat.
    The decisions of the Conference played an important part in strengthening the Party and its unity, in extending and consolidating the Party's contacts with the masses, and in the elaboration of new forms of Party work fitted to the mounting activity of the working-class movement. The Resolutions of the Cracow Conference were confirmed by the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.    [p. 109]