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V. I. Lenin
A LETTER TO HUYSMANS,
SECRETARY OF THE
INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST BUREAU
Written late in March 1912
Printed on April 12, 1912,
in Circular No. 7 of the
International Socialist Bureau
Signed: N. Lenin
Published according to
the Circular text
Translated from the French
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1968
First printing 1963
Second printing 1968
Vol. 17, pp. 547-50.
Translated from the Russian by Dora Cox
Edited by George Hanna
Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,
email@example.com (April 2002)
A LETTER TO HUYSMANS, SECRETARY
OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST BUREAU
In connection with the resolution adopted by a number of groups abroad and also by the editors of two periodicals published abroad, who claim to belong to the R.S.D.L.P., I, as representative of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P., state the following:
(1) While for several years it was impossible to convene a conference of the Russian organisations, or to form a Central Committee, or revive the previously elected Central Committee which might have united those organisations, the recently held Party Conference succeeded in bringing together twenty-three Party organisations active in Russia.
All the reports on this Conference, already delivered to most of the Russian Party organisations, were received with warm sympathy everywhere, and all these organisations declared that they would support the Central Committee elected by the Conference. In the issue of Rabochaya Gazeta (organ of the Central Committee of the Party) of March 30, 1912, we were already able to publish a number of resolutions adopted by the organisations in St. Petersburg (Vasilyevsky Ostrov District), Moscow, Kiev, Samara and Nikolayev expressing warm sympathy with the Conference and promising to support it and the Central Committee. (Since the publication of that issue, we have received a similar resolution from Tiflis.) Thus we cannot attach the least significance to the protests of small groups abroad which are not backed by any Party organisations in Russia.
(2) The Conference of Party members active in Russia, which has aroused the protest of all the small groups abroad,
dealt especially with the disorganising activities of the groups abroad and with the disrupting effect which these groups often have upon the Party work in Russia. These groups, which are not connected with any organisation functioning in Russia, taking advantage of the fact that they are not responsible to anybody, permit themselves to speak in the name of the Party. This malady, which has gnawed at our Party for a long time, is a result of Russia's political regime, which, on the one hand, condemns our Party to an underground existence and, on the other, compels a great number of Party functionaries to live abroad in exile.
The Conference severely condemned the disorganising activities of these groups, all of them existing abroad and absolutely irresponsible. As far as the Party is concerned, there is nothing unexpected in the attacks by which these groups are trying to discredit the Conference that condemned their conduct.
(3) Among those who signed the resolution we see the Golos Sotsial-Demokrata group. This signature speaks volumes, for it explains the true meaning of the hostile campaign launched against the Conference by the liquidationist press, as well as by the bourgeois press, in Russia, and even by some foreign newspapers.
The point is that in its resolution summarising the results of the fight among the various trends in our Party in the past four years, the Conference came out emphatically against the trend represented by Golos Sotsial-Demokrata. In order that you may be quite clear on this question, I consider it worth while to quote the resolution in question.
Here it is in full.
"(1) The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party for nearly four years has been waging a determined fight against the liquidationist trend, which was characterised at the conference of the Party in December 1908 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 at all costs, even at the price of downright renunciation of the programme, tactics, and traditions of the Party, by a loose association functioning legally';
"(2) The Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee held in January 1910, continuing the fight against this trend, unanimously declared it to be a manifestation of bourgeois influence upon the proletariat and demanded, as a condition for real Party unity and for the fusion of the former Bolshevik and Menshevik groups, a complete rupture with liquidationism and the utter rout of this bourgeois deviation from socialism;
"(3) In spite of all Party decisions and in spite of the obligation assumed by the representatives of all the factions at the Plenary Meeting held in January 1910, a section of Social-Democrats, grouped around the magazines Nasha Zarya and Dyelo Zhizni ; began to defend openly the trend which the entire Party has recognised as being the product of bourgeois influence on the proletariat;
"(4) The former members of the Central Committee -- M-l, Yuri, and Roman, refused not only to join the Central Committee in the spring of 1910, but even to attend a single meeting to co-opt new members, and bluntly declared that they considered the very existence of the Party Central Committee to be 'harmful';
"(5) It was precisely after the Plenary Meeting of 1910 that the above-mentioned chief publications of the liquidators, Nasha Zarya and Dyelo Zhizni, definitely turned to liquidationism all along the line, not only 'belittling [contrary to the decision of the Plenary Meeting] the importance of the illegal Party', but openly renouncing it, declaring that the Party was 'extinct', that the Party was already liquidated, that the idea of reviving the illegal Party was 'a reactionary utopia', using the columns of legally published magazines to heap slander and abuse on the illegal Party, calling upon the workers to regard the nuclei of the Party and its hierarchy as 'dead', etc.;
"(6) At a time when throughout Russia the members of the Party, irrespective of factions, united to promote the immediate task of convening a Party conference, the liquidators, banded together in entirely independent small groups, split away from local Party organisations even in those places where the pro-Party Mensheviks predominated (in Ekaterinoslav, Kiev) and finally renounced all Party connections with the local R.S.D.L.P. organisations;
"The Conference declares that by its conduct the Nasha Zarya and Dyelo Zhizni group has definitely placed itself outside the Party.
"The Conference calls upon all Party members, irrespective of tendencies and shades of opinion, to combat liquidationism, explain its great harmfulness to the cause of the emancipation of the working class, and bend all their efforts to revive and strengthen the illegal Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party."
(4) In view of all this, it is quite obvious that it is not a question of "usurpation", or a "split", etc., and that this is not the cause of the liquidators' anger. The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. declared against the trend which in practice had long kept aloof from every kind of Party work, which had done its utmost to prevent the re-establishment of the Central Committee and had turned the last remaining Party institution (the Central Committee Bureau Abroad) into "a weapon in the hands of gentlemen who strove to liquidate the Party" (the words of Comrade Plekhanov, who is not a supporter of the Conference).
(5) As regards Social-Democratic organisations of the national minorities, I must put it on record that the R.S.D.L.P. existed as the R.S.D.L.P. up to 1906 (or, more correctly, up to 1907), before the national minority organisations joined our Party (the Bund withdrew from the Party in 1903 and remained outside it until 1906, or, rather, 1907). Hence, in view of their absence from the Conference, it is the duty of the Central Committee to start negotiations with these organisations for the purpose of resuming normal relations with them.
<"en202"> Lenin's letter was sent to all socialist parties on April 12 (N. S.), 1912 by the International Socialist Bureau with a request that it be published in their press. [p. 547]
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