Put Pravdy, No. 50, March 30, 1914.
Published according to the text in Put Pravdy.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 182-186.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Joe Fineberg
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Over eighteen months ago, in August 1912, there occurred an event of fairly great importance in the history of the working-class movement in Russia. On the eve of the elections to the Fourth Duma, the liquidators “united” with, as they put it, the representatives of different trends at the August Conference, thereby attempting to prove that they were not liquidators at all, that they had not liquidated anything, and had no intention of doing so, and that “unity” between them and the really serious, non-fictitious workers’ Marxist organisations was quite possible.
The August Conference shifted the dispute between the liquidators and their opponents to a different plane: it became, not only a question of whether the liquidators’ theory and tactics were correct, but also of whether the liquidators’ utterances were confirmed or refuted by their own deeds. Was their August Conference a fiction, make-believe, a fraud and a bubble, or was it a serious affair, a sincere step, something real that showed the possibility of the liquidators rectifying their errors?
That is how the matter stood.
The liquidators’ deeds, the results of their August Conference, had to provide an answer to this question.
This answer has now been given by the only Marxist body, namely, the Lettish Marxists, recognised by all trends and groups without exception as Marxists who have not violated Party decisions, and have themselves gone through the famous August experience. We learn from well informed sources that the meeting of the highest representatives of the organised Lettish Marxists in Russia has drawn to a close. The supremely authoritative character of this assembly of representatives of the Lettish organised Marxists has not been challenged by anyone, not by a single trend or by a single group; on the contrary, it was attended by representatives and authorised delegates, not only from the majority of the workers of Russia (anti-liquidators), but also from the liquidators, from their leading, August body, as well as from the Bund and the P.S.P. Left-wing.
The eighteen months’ experience of August blocs and institutions was discussed from every angle and appraised by those who had themselves gone through this experience in an endeavour to help the liquidators rid themselves of liquidationism.
What was the upshot of this discussion and appraisal?
“The attempt on the part of the conciliators,” the decision of the Lettish organised Marxists reads, “to unite at all costs with the liquidators (the August Conference of 1912) proved fruitless, and the uniters themselves became ideologically and politically dependent upon the liquidators”....
This is the official decision of an unbiased body of Marxists, which fully and conclusively exposes the August fiction!
What we have been saying for two years, and what the liquidators—while calling God to witness, and heaping abuse upon us—have been denying, has now been proved and officially declared by those who themselves participated in the August Conference, in the August bloc, and in the leading August body.
The Lettish organised Marxists have officially admitted that the “focal point of the inner-Party struggle during the past five years has been the question of the liquidationist trend” long ago condemned by the entire Party, and that their, the Lettish, representative was being recalled from the August leading body because that body (so runs the decision of the Lettish Marxists) “has not dissociated itself from the liquidators”.
Thus, events have fully proved that we were right, and have once again exposed the liquidators. We were right when we said that the August Conference was a fiction, an imposture, a customary (in petty-bourgeois parties and groups) pre-election fraud. The liquidators dared not go to the elections with their banner and honestly stand by their convictions; they hid behind the August bloc, calling God to witness that they were not liquidating anything.
The Letts have exposed this fraud.
Mind you, these Letts were and remain neutral, so neutral that they decided not to enter into any organisational relations with any section of the Russian organised Marxists! The exposure of the August fiction and of the liquidators’ election masquerade is the more significant for its coming from neutral organisations.
We shall have more than one occasion to revert to the decisions of the Lettish Marxists, which prove once again how right we were when we said that the unity of the Marxist workers in Russia was possible only in opposition to the liquidators. In conclusion, we would mention only one particularly important decision on the national principle in the Marxist organisation.
The Lettish Marxists themselves represent the workers of a disfranchised and oppressed nation, and conduct their activities in centres with very mixed populations. In Riga, for example, they have to deal with German, Russian, Lettish, Jewish and Lithuanian proletarians. Long years of experience have firmly convinced the Lettish Marxists of the correctness of the principle of international unity in the local organisations of the working class.
“In every city,” the Lettish Marxists’ decision reads, “there must be one united organisation of Marxist proletarians, which must operate on the lines recognised by the Stockholm Congress, and in conformity with the commentaries of the All-Russia Conference of 1908.”
These commentaries, as we know, definitely condemned the principle of federation. Not the federation of national workers’ organisations, but international unity, a single organisation that conducts activities in all the languages spoken by the proletariat in every local area.
That is the only correct principle of Marxism. That is the only socialist form of resistance to the nationalist philistines, who are trying to split the proletariat into national sections. That is a demand for the decision of the entire Party to be carried out, a decision the Bund has violated and is continuing to violate in a most flagrant manner.
An end is coming to the deception sown among the workers by the liquidators and Bundists, who are causing a split while trying to shout loudest about “unity”. The decision of the Lettish Marxists, who are neutral in our (Russian) conflict, has conclusively proved to all workers that real unity can and must be built up only in opposition to those splitters who defy the Party’s long-standing and constant demand for the abandoning of liquidationism and of the principle that workers’ organisations should be divided according to nationality.