Lenin Demands Unity in the Party

Vladimir Lenin, On the Unity of the Party. March 16, 1921

Original Source: KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, Vol. I (Moscow, 1954), p. 527.

1. The Congress directs the attention of all members of the Party to the fact that the unity and solidarity of its ranks, guaranteeing complete confidence between members of the Party and work that is really enthusiastic, work that genuinely embodies the unified will of the vanguard of the proletariat, is especially necessary at the present moment, when a number of circumstances increase the wavering among the petty-bourgeois population of the country.

2. On the other hand, even before the general party discussion about the trade unions, some signs of factionalism were manifested in the Party. Groups grew up with special platforms and with a desire to maintain to a certain degree a separate existence and to create their own group discipline.

All class-conscious workers must clearly recognize the harm and impermissibility of any kind of factionalism, which inevitably leads in fact to a weakening of amicable work and a strengthening of the repeated attempts of enemies who have crept into the governing Party to deepen any difference and to exploit it for counter-revolutionary purposes.

The ability of the enemies of the proletariat to exploit any departures from a strictly maintained Communist line was most clearly revealed at the time of the Kronstadt mutiny, when the bourgeois counter-revolution and the White Guards in all countries of the world showed their readiness even to accept the slogans of the Soviet regime in order to overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia, when the Socialist Revolutionaries and the bourgeois counter-revolution in general exploited in Kronstadt the slogans of uprising, as it were, for the sake of the Soviet regime against the Soviet Government in Russia. Such facts furnish clear proof that the White Guards attempt and are able to assume the coloring of Communists and even to pose as more ‘left’ than the Communists, only in order to weaken and overthrow the bulwark of the proletarian revolution in Russia. The Menshevik pamphlets in Petrograd on the eve of the Kronstadt mutiny show in equal measure how the Menshevik exploited the differences within the Russian Communist Party in order actually to encourage and support the Kronstadt mutineers, Socialist Revolutionaries and White Guards, representing themselves, in words, as opponents of rebellions and adherents of the Soviet regime, though with, as it were, some few corrections.

3. Propaganda in this question must consist, on one hand, in a detailed explanation of the harm and danger of factionalism from the standpoint of party unity and that of implementing the unified will of the vanguard of the proletariat, as a fundamental condition for the success of the proletarian dictatorship; it must also consist, on the other hand, in an exposition of the peculiarities of the latest tactical devices of the enemies of the Soviet regime. These enemies, convinced of the hopelessness of counter-revolution under an openly White Guard banner, now bend all their energies, exploiting the differences within the Russian Communist Party, to promote counterrevolution by transferring power to the political groupings which are superficially closest to recognizing the Soviet regime.

Propaganda must also set forth the experience of preceding revolutions, when counter-revolution supported the petty-bourgeois groupings which were closest to the extreme revolutionary party, in order to shake and overthrow the revolutionary dictatorship, thereby opening up the road for the further complete victory of the counter-revolution, the capitalists and landlords.

4. Every party organization must very strictly see to it that the absolutely necessary criticism of the failings of the Party, that any analysis of the general policy of the Party or appraisal of its practical experience, examination of the fulfillment of its decisions and of means to correct mistakes, etc., should be submitted not for the consideration of groups which have formed on the basis of some ‘Platform’ or other, etc., but for the consideration of all the members of the Party. For this purpose the Congress gives instructions to publish the ‘Discussion Pamphlet’ more regularly and to publish special collections of material. Anyone who voices criticism must take account of the position of the Party among the enemies who surround it; they must also attempt to correct in practice the mistakes of the Party by participating directly in soviet and party work.

5. In commissioning the Central Committee to abolish any kind of factionalism, the Congress states at the same time that on questions which attract the special attention of members of the Party, -purging non-proletarian and unreliable elements from the Party, the struggle with bureaucratism, development of democracy and of the workers’ initiative, etc. -any practical proposals must be considered with the greatest attention and tested in practical work. All members of the Party must know that, as regards these problems, the Party doesn’t take all the necessary measures because it encounters many varied obstacles, and that, in decisively rejecting impractical and factional criticism, the Party will continue to test new methods and fight with all means against bureaucratism, for the extension of democratism and initiative, for the discovery, exposure and expulsion of hangers-on, etc.

6. The Congress gives instructions that all groups which have been organized on the basis of any platform whatever should be immediately dissolved and commissions all organizations to watch out very closely, so that no factional demonstrations may be permitted. Non-fulfillment of this decision of the Congress must incur unconditional and immediate expulsion from the Party. 7. ‘ In order to bring about strict discipline in the Party and in all soviet work, and to achieve the greatest possible unity by removing all factionalism, the Congress empowers the CC to apply, in the case (or cases) of violation of party discipline or reappearance of, or connivance at, factionalism, all measures of party punishment right up to expulsion and, with regard to members of the CC, their transfer to candidate status and even, as an extreme measure, expulsion from the Party. The summoning of a plenum of the CC, together with an invitation to all candidate members of the CC and all members of the Control Commission to attend, must be a condition of the application (to members of the CC, candidate members of the CC and members of the Control Commission) of this extreme measure. If such a general meeting of the most responsible leaders of the Party considers it necessary, by a two-thirds vote, to transfer the member of the CC to candidate status or expel him from the Party, then this measure must be carried out immediately.

Source: William Henry Chamberlin, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1921 (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1935), Vol. II, p. 499.

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