Liquidators

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Liquidators

 

representatives of a revisionist, opportunistic trend in the RSDLP that emerged during the years of reaction from 1907 to 1910. The Liquidators attempted to divert the workers from preparing for a new revolution, abolish the revolutionary Social Democratic Party, and create a legal reformist party of the Western European type. They were headed by the Menshevik leaders P. B. Aksel’rod, F. I. Dan, N. N. Zhordaniia, lu. Larin, V. O. Levitskii, lu. O. Martov, A. S. Mar-tynov, A. N. Potresov, and N. Cherevanin.

Evolving out of Menshevik ideas, Liquidationism reflected the crisis of Menshevism, the open shift of its right wing to liberal bourgeois positions. The class basis of Liquidationism consisted of petit bourgeois elements that had joined the RSDLP, particularly the Mensheviks, during the upsurge in the revolutionary-democratic movement and that had ideologically capitulated to tsarism after the defeat of the Revolution of 1905–07. “We have completely disintegrated and are totally demoralized . . . . I do not think that this collapse and demoralization are anywhere as apparent as among us, the Mensheviks,” wrote Potresov in those years (Istoriia KPSS, vol. 2, 1966, p. 270).

The open Liquidators were those Mensheviks who advocated the anarcho-syndicalist idea of a “workers’ congress” and proposed the unification of the RSDLP with the Socialist Revolutionaries and other pseudosocialist parties at the Fifth (London) Congress of the RSDLP in 1907. The congress recognized that the idea was of an antiparty nature. By July 1908, Liquidationism was an ideological and political current organized around the journal Nasha zariia (Our Dawn). The Liquidators claimed that the Stolypin reform was solving the agrarian problem, thereby eliminating the grounds for a class struggle against the landlords in the countryside, and that the State Duma was ensuring the peaceful reform of tsarism and thus removing the need for a new bourgeois-democratic revolution. V. I. Lenin pointed out that the “Liquidationism of the Mensheviks consists ideologically in negation of the revolutionary class struggle of the socialist proletariat in general, and denial of the hegemony of the proletariat in our bourgeois-democratic revolution in particular. . . . With respect to organization, Liquidationism means denying the necessity for an illegal Social Democratic Party, and consequently renouncing the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, leaving its ranks. It means fighting the party in the columns of the legal press, in legal workers’ organizations, in the trade unions and cooperative societies, at congresses attended by working-class delegates, etc.” (Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 19, p. 45).

The Liquidators urged the workers to seek only partial reforms. Proclaiming their goal to be the struggle for legality, they focused attention on elections to the State Duma. Menshevik Liquidators played the part of agents for the bourgeoisie in the workers’ movement. Calling them the Stolypin workers’ party, Lenin wrote that “the Liquidators are petit bourgeois intellectuals, sent by the bourgeoisie to sow liberal corruption among the workers” (Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 23, p. 80).

In addition to the Liquidators, the Otzovists and the Centrists also opposed the party, although from other positions. The Fifth (All-Russian) Conference of the RSDLP, held in 1908, condemned Liquidationism and called on all party organizations to struggle relentlessly against the Liquidators and Otzovists. In 1912 all three opportunistic currents banded together to form the August antiparty bloc, organized by L. D. Trotsky. In the struggle against the Otzovists and Trotskyists, Lenin proposed a plan for uniting all party forces on the basis of struggle for an illegal revolutionary party. The Bolsheviks formed a temporary bloc with the pro-party Mensheviks, led by G. V. Plekhanov. Although they adhered to Menshevik views, the pro-party Mensheviks supported the preservation of an illegal party organization.

At the Sixth (Prague) All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP in 1912, the Liquidators were expelled from the party. After the conference the Liquidators, grouped around the newspaper Luch (Ray), fully revealed their anti-Marxist nature by disavowing every aspect of Marxism. Lenin wrote that “the Luch editors are a union of liquidators of Marxism. Some want to liquidate the underground, i.e., the party of the proletariat (Maevskii, Sedov, F. D., etc.), others, the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat (Potresov, Kol’tsov, etc.), the third, the philosophical materialism of Marx (Mr. Semkovskii and Co.), the fourth, the internationalism of proletarian socialism (the Bund members, Kossovskii, Medem, and other supporters of ‘cultural-national autonomy’), the fifth, the economic theory of Marx (Mr. Maslov with his theory of rent and the ‘new’ sociology) and so on and so forth” (ibid., p. 120). During World War I (1914–18), Liquidationism developed into social chauvinism.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Reference Volume, part 1, pp. 341–44.)
“Piataia konferentsiia RSDRP (Obshcherossiiskaia 1908).”
In KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1970.
“Shestaia (Prazhskaia) Vserossiiskaia konferentsiia RSDRP.” Ibid. Istoriia KPSS, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966.
Iz istorii bor’by leninskoi partii protiv opportunizma. Moscow, 1966.

S. S. SHAUMIAN