The Split in the Social-Democratic Duma Fraction

Chapter XI

The Conditions Within the Fraction

The Relations between the "Seven" and the "Six" – The Question of Collaborating in the Luch – The "Methods" of the Mensheviks Before the Split

With every month that passed it became more clear that the unity of the Social-Democratic fraction was only a formal unity, and that it was bound to collapse sooner or later. The conditions within the fraction were not only a complete reflection of the conditions prevailing within Russian Social-Democracy, but they greatly intensified the mutual contradictions. The Bolshevik and Menshevik deputies, while formally bound by the existence of a united fraction, were in daily conflict on a whole series of questions concerning the revolutionary movement. The divergences between the Bolshevik "six" and the Menshevik "seven" were rooted in the very conception of the course of the Russian revolution. With the growth of the revolutionary movement these differences increased, and this was bound to lead, sooner or later, to a final split of the fraction into two independent sections, deepening that line of cleavage which was followed by our Party as a whole.

Sharp encounters between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks began from the very first days the fraction was organised. I have already given an account of the struggle which developed within the fraction about the Duma declaration and the admission of Jagello to the fraction. In both cases our Bolshevik "six" stubbornly fought the Mensheviks and forced them to surrender a number of positions.

The first clash within the fraction, which became the subject of a wide discussion, not only in Party circles but also amongst the masses of the workers, occurred in connection with the question of the Bolshevik deputies collaborating in the Menshevik newspaper, Luch. A bitter struggle raged around this question, which shed abundant light on the situation that arose within the fraction. The question was of enormous importance in the sense that the attitude of the masses of the workers to the Bolshevik "six" and to the future final break with the Mensheviks could be ascertained on the basis of a definite concrete instance.

In December 1912, the workers' deputies for tactical reasons consented to the inclusion of their names in the list of collaborators of the Luch.

At the end of January 1913, again in agreement with our Party circles and, in particular, following the instructions of the Central Committee, we demanded that the editors of the Luch strike our names off the list of contributors to their openly Liquidationist newspaper.

Our refusal to collaborate in the Luch served as the pretext for the first open attack by the Menshevik "seven" on the Bolshevik section of the fraction.

Of course, it was obvious to all of us already at that period, that the time was drawing near for a complete rupture with the Mensheviks. But the desire to preserve unity within the Social-Democratic Party by some means or other was still strong among the broad masses of the workers. Naturally the wide public did not know what was taking place inside the Party organisation, in our underground committees or nuclei, owing to the police regime then prevailing in Russia. But the Duma fraction operated in the sight of all; every worker, not only in St. Petersburg, but even in the most remote corners of Russia, knew of its existence and activities. When the broad masses referred to Party unity, they mainly had our fraction in mind.

Under such conditions the correct political step was to show the workers that the real perpetrators of the split were the Menshevik “seven.”

In every one of its issues, Pravda appealed for resistance to the Menshevik attack. Comrade Stalin, in Pravda of February 26, wrote:

The duty of class-conscious workers is to raise their voices against the secessionists' attempts within the fraction, from whatever quarter they may come. The duty of the class-conscious workers is to call to order the seven Social-Democratic deputies, who attacked the other half of the Social-Democratic fraction. The workers must intervene at once to protect the unity of the fraction. Silence has now become impossible. More than that, silence is now a crime.

Our Party nuclei started a wide propaganda campaign in the factories and works, explaining the position that arose within the fraction and why the workers' deputies refused to take part in a Liquidationist paper. Resolutions at once began to pour in, supporting our attitude and disapproving the tactics and position of the Mensheviks. Representatives of factory and works organisations of St. Petersburg personally called on the workers' deputies and brought resolutions bearing the signatures of workers who hitherto had supported the Mensheviks. To the voices of the workers of St. Petersburg were soon added the voices of those in the provinces.

Even Plekhanov came out against the Menshevik "seven" and its paper, Luch.

The attacks of the Mensheviks in the Luch and at workers' meetings were accompanied by a fight against us in the fraction itself. Profiting by their majority of one vote, the Mensheviks tried to stifle the voice of the workers' deputies and to prevent us whenever possible from speaking in the Duma.

We had to fight the majority of the fraction every time we wanted to speak and they agreed to put us up as speakers only after a long and stubborn struggle. Under such conditions it became still more difficult for the Bolsheviks to carry out the main task they had set themselves; to use the Duma tribune for revolutionary agitation.

The "seven" did not merely confine themselves to preventing us from making speeches at the Duma sittings. They attempted to exclude us from the Duma commissions, which were formed for the purpose of discussing interpellations, for the preliminary discussions of bills, the budget, etc. These commissions were permanent and were set up at the beginning of the session.

A great volume of material, both from government and other sources, accumulated in the commissions and it was necessary for deputies to acquaint themselves with this material for their future speeches. Government representatives attended the meetings of the commission and gave explanations and answers to the questions of deputies. The Social-Democratic fraction had its representatives in all the Duma commissions except the military and naval commissions, to which the Black Hundred Duma refused to admit the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks, in spite of all our protests.

The work of the commissions supplied an enormous material for agitation. We made use of it and described in the workers' press what was happening in the most intimate circles of the Duma. Yet the entire behaviour of the "seven" was directed towards getting for themselves the representation of the fraction in most of the commissions set up by the Duma.

During the first year of the existence of the Duma, the Mensheviks were represented on nineteen out of the twenty-six commissions on which the fraction was represented, and the Bolsheviks only on seven. Even in those commissions where two seats were assigned to the Social-Democratic fraction, the Mensheviks tried to keep us out. The most important commission was the budget commission. This was a kind of miniature Duma, one of the main centres of the Duma's work. During the first sessions, the fraction was represented on this commission by Chkheidze and Malinovsky. Such a state of things did not satisfy the "seven," and when at the end of the year Malinovsky resigned from the budget commission in favour of Petrovsky, the Mensheviks elected a second candidate of their own to the commission.

The entire behaviour of the Menshevik "seven" was definitely directed towards gagging the labour deputies. They put spokes in the wheel of our work in every possible way. They also monopolised the representation of the Social-Democratic fraction on the International Socialist Bureau, sending their own candidate, who could by no means be regarded as a genuine representative of the Russian workers.

Already by the spring of 1913, when the winter session of the Duma was drawing to a close, the conditions in the Social-Democratic fraction became intolerable.

It was quite obvious to us that the preservation of the state of affairs which had arisen within the fraction could only be harmful to our activity and to the revolutionary movement as a whole.

The summer recess, which began soon afterwards, only postponed the question of the final split in the Duma fraction.

Chapter XII

The Poronino Conference

Preparations for the Conference – In Poronino – The Report of the Central Committee – The Main Resolutions – Discussion on the Work of the "Six" – Should we face a Split of the Fraction?

On June 15, 1913, the State Duma rose for the summer recess. The regular Party conference, which was to have been called immediately the session ended, had been postponed to the end of summer so as to allow our Bolshevik "six" to tour their constituencies. They had to report to the local organisations on the Duma work, and themselves to learn of developments in the provinces. One of the main questions which the workers' deputies were to put before the local organisations was that of the state of affairs within the fraction. On the other hand, the information obtained by the deputies was to serve as material for discussion at the forthcoming Party conference.

The departure of the workers' deputies from St. Petersburg naturally created considerable activity among the secret police. Local authorities were flooded with orders from the police department: watch – observe – prohibit, etc. It was extremely difficult to evade the police and accomplish our work without endangering the local Party organisations.

Visits to provincial working-class centres, speeches at workers' meetings, and the exchange of views with local Party officials convinced our "six" that there had been a steady growth of Bolshevism among the masses. The attitude adopted by the "six" both inside and outside of the fraction was approved by the majority of local organisations, some even demanding an immediate break with the seven Mensheviks.

The majority, however, considered that it was necessary to make one more attempt to preserve the unity of the Social-Democratic fraction, if only in externals. Should it prove impossible to secure Bolshevik leadership of the fraction as a whole, the seven should at least be prevented from doing harm and the Bolshevik deputies guaranteed facilities for making wide use of the Duma. If such an arrangement could not be made, we should definitely break with the Mensheviks, as had been found necessary in other Party organisations.

After summarising the results of our tours as regards both the opinions of the Party groups and the sentiments of the workers in general we proceeded, late in September, to the Party conference. The conference was held at Poronino, a village in Galicia (Austria), not far from Cracow, where Lenin and a few members of the Central Committee were staying. In order to mislead the police, the Poronino Conference was always referred to as the August Conference, although it actually took place at the end of September, 1913.

Twenty-five to thirty representatives from the larger Party organisations were present. In addition to Lenin, Zinoviev and Krupskaya, who were living in Galicia, Kamenev, Shotman, Inessa Armand, Troyanovsky, Rozmirovich, Hanecki and other Party workers also attended, as well as all the Duma Bolsheviks except Samoylov, who was ill.

Nearly twelve months had elapsed since the Cracow Conference, and meanwhile the Russian revolutionary movement had made much progress. Political strikes on January 9 (anniversary of Bloody Sunday), April 4 (anniversary of the Lena shootings) and May 1 had assumed a formidable character. During that year, the Russian workers had celebrated, for the first time, International Women's Day. Economic strikes, also, had been distinguished by stubbornness and good organisation, while the struggle against the capitalists' new weapon, the lock-out, had been conducted with extraordinary vigour. In the whole of Russia during 1913 about one million workers had participated in strikes; of these over half a million were involved in political strikes.

Party work had been strengthened, extended and consolidated, new groups had been formed and the old ones had grown larger and more effective. Bolshevik influence had increased in all legal working-class organisations and in cultural and educational societies. As a result of this revolutionary growth, the Poronino Conference dealt with a large number of subjects, such as organisation, tactics, propaganda, agitation, etc.

The first item of the agenda was the reports of the organisations of St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Ukraine, Poland, and the Urals.

Since all the delegates were informed of the course of the strike movement and the political actions of the workers of St. Petersburg, I devoted my report chiefly to the state of Party organisation and to the work of the St. Petersburg Committee. On the basis of decisions taken at the Cracow Conference, important measures of reorganisation were adopted and the St. Petersburg organisation consolidated. Sporadic guerrilla actions such as those that occurred on the opening day of the Duma were no longer possible. Leadership was now concentrated in an executive commission, and the St. Petersburg Committee was closely connected with the Narva, Neva, Vyborg and Vassileostrovsky districts, i.e. with the main working-class areas. I dealt further in detail with the organisation of the two underground printing shops which were then working for the St. Petersburg Committee and which had issued leaflets in 20,000 copies with trade union work, support for Pravda, appeals for funds, etc.

An abridged version of my report, signed "Member of the Executive Commission of the St. Petersburg Committee," appeared in the December issue of the Party's central organ, Sotsial-Demokrat (published abroad). The published part of the report refers to the structure of the St. Petersburg organisation and to the work of the St. Petersburg Committee.

All activity in the St. Petersburg District is now controlled by the St. Petersburg Committee, which has been functioning since autumn last year. The Committee has contacts at all works and factories and is informed of all developments there. The organisation of the district is as follows: At the factory, Party members form nuclei in the various workshops and delegates from the nuclei form a factory committee (at small factories, the members themselves constitute the committee). Every factory committee, or workshop nucleus in large factories, appoints a collector who on each pay-day collects the dues and other funds, books subscriptions for the newspapers, etc. A controller is also appointed to visit the institutions for which the funds were raised, to see that the correct amounts have been received there and collect the money. By this system, abuses in the handling of money are avoided.

Each district committee elects by secret voting an executive commission of three, care being taken that the committee as a whole should not know of whom the executive commission actually consists.

The district executive commissions send delegates to the St. Petersburg Committee, again trying to ensure that the names should not to be known by the whole district committee. The St. Petersburg Committee also elects an executive commission of three. Sometimes, for reasons of secrecy, it was found inadvisable to elect the representatives from the district commission and they were co-opted at the discretion of the St. Petersburg Committee.

Owing to this system, it was difficult for the secret police to find out who are members of the St. Petersburg Committee, which was thus enabled to carry on its work, to guide the activities of the organisations, declare political strikes, etc.

The Committee is held in high esteem by the workers, who, on all important points, await its guidance and follow its instructions. Special attention is paid to the leaflets which the Committee issues from time to time.

St. Petersburg trade union organisations have decided not to call political strikes on their own initiative but to act only on instructions from the St. Petersburg Committee. It was the Committee which issued the call for strikes on January 9, April 4 and May 1. The workers strongly resented the suppression of Pravda and wanted to strike, but the Committee decided that it was necessary first to prepare the action properly and to issue an explanatory leaflet which should reach the masses. Within a few days another paper appeared and as it followed the same policy the workers were somewhat reassured. Although no appeal to strike action was issued, some 30,000 workers left their work.

Leaflets are of great importance and the Committee devoted much effort to perfecting its machinery for their printing and distribution. The Committee consists entirely of workers, and we write the leaflets ourselves and have difficulty in finding intellectuals to help in correcting them.

The St. Petersburg political strikes, far from ruining the organisation, strengthened it. It may be asserted that the St. Petersburg organisation was revived, strengthened, and is developing, owing to the political strike movement. The shouts of the Liquidators about a "strike fever" show that they are completely detached from the workers' organisations and from the life of the masses; they altogether fail to grasp what is now taking place among the workers. From my position in the centre of the St. Petersburg working-class movement, I notice everywhere how the strength of the workers is increasing, how it shows itself and how it will overwhelm everything.

The resolutions of the Cracow Conference were read and studied by the workers in the factories and the entire work of our organisation was conducted in their spirit. Their correctness was fully proved in practice; taking active part in the work, I felt all the time that the line of policy was correct. I rarely met a Liquidator or heard of one; this surprised me at first, but later, at a meeting of metal-workers, I learnt that they were almost non-existent in St. Petersburg.

Comrade A. V. Shotman made a supplementary report on work at St. Petersburg and gave many further details. The local reports were received as information; no decisions were then taken in connection with them, but they served to illustrate the state of Party organisation and thus enabled the conference to tackle the general problems.

Immediately after the conclusion of local reports, Lenin read the report of the Central Committee. He pointed out that the development of the revolutionary movement and the successful Party work confirmed the correctness of the Bolsheviks' policy as decided at the Prague Conference in January 1912, when a new Central Committee had been elected.

The course of the elections to the Duma, the successful launching of a newspaper and the high level of the strike movement were all results of Party work under the guidance of the Bolshevik Central Committee. Lenin declared: "We can truthfully say that we have fully discharged the duties which we assumed. Local reports show that the workers are active and anxious to build up and strengthen their organisations. Let the workers realise that it is they and no one else who can do this."

Comrade Krupskaya dealt with the technical side of the Central Committee's work, with correspondence, contacts, transport and the Committee's representatives in the important cities. Comrade Zinoviev spoke on the results of the work of our “six.”

After preliminary reports, the conference proceeded to discuss other questions on the agenda. Deliberations continued for almost two weeks and the subsequent work of the Party was fully outlined. The conference stressed once again that the principal slogans for the working-class struggle must be: "a democratic republic," "confiscation of landlords' estates," and "the eight- hour day." These slogans were to be used in every political strike. In the matter of the organisation of a general political strike, the conference welcomed the initiative of the St. Petersburg Committee and of a number of Moscow Party groups and considered that agitation and preparation for an all-Russia general political strike should be conducted immediately.

The resolution on strikes contained six points, the last of which for reasons of secrecy was not published. Until recently the text of this last point was not known, because naturally the documents of the conference have not survived. However, I accidentally came across a copy of the full text of the resolution in the archives of the police department. The sixth point dealt with the necessity of carrying on political strikes simultaneously in various cities, especially St. Petersburg and Moscow:

The conference calls on all local workers to reinforce their agitation by the distribution of leaflets and to establish permanent and close co-operation between the political and other workers' organisations in various cities. It is especially important to secure agreement between Moscow and St. Petersburg workers in the first place, so that political strikes which may occur for various reasons (persecution of the press, insurance protests, etc.) should as far as possible take place simultaneously in both towns.

In the same archives a copy of the resolution on the Party press was also preserved. The first five points of this resolution were not published and it was thought that they had been lost. The following is the full text:

1. The conference recognises the enormous importance of a legal press for the cause of Social-Democratic agitation and organisation and therefore calls on all Party organisations and class-conscious workers to lend their whole-hearted support by distributing papers as widely as possible, by organising mass collective subscriptions and by the payment of regular dues. The conference once more emphasises that the said dues are membership dues to the Party.

2. Special attention should be paid to the strengthening of the legal workers' paper in Moscow and to the speedy establishment of a paper in the south.

3. The conference desires to bring about the closest co-operation between the existing legal papers by means of mutual exchange of information, the holding of conferences, etc.

4. Recognising the importance and the necessity of a theoretical Marxist organ, the conference desires Party and trade union papers to call the attention of the workers to the journal Prosveshtchenye (Enlightenment), and to appeal to them to subscribe regularly and support it in a systematic fashion.

5. The conference calls the attention of Party publishing organisations to the necessity for a wider circulation of popular pamphlets for agitation and propaganda.

6. In view of the recent development of the revolutionary movement and of the importance of analysing it thoroughly, in the complete manner which is impossible in the legal press, the conference draws special attention to the necessity of extending our illegal publishing work and recommends that, in addition to illegal pamphlets and leaflets, a central illegal Party paper should be issued regularly at short intervals.

The conference pointed out that the most important task in respect of Party organisation was not merely the strengthening of the different Party units but their co-ordination into a united whole. For this purpose it was suggested that wherever possible regional Party conferences should be held and that representatives should be sent to the Central Committee. The question of convoking a regular Party congress was also raised at the conference.

The report presented by our "six" on the work of the Social-Democratic fraction in the Duma was one of the main issues dealt with at the conference. Since the Cracow Conference we had gained fresh experience both as regards speaking in the Duma and our work outside. But it seemed to us that our use of the Duma for revolutionary agitation was not enough. Before the conference opened, we had private talks with Lenin on our work.

"We arrange demonstrations against ministers and the Black Hundreds whenever they appear on the rostrum," I said to Lenin, "but this is not enough. The workers ask 'what practical proposals do you make in the Duma? Where are the laws which you put forward?'"

Lenin answered with his usual laugh: “The Black Hundred Duma will never pass any laws which improve the lot of the workers. The task of a workers' deputy is to remind the Black Hundreds, day after day, that the working class is strong and powerful and that the day is not far distant when the revolution will break out and sweep away the Black Hundreds and their government. No doubt it is possible to move amendments and even to introduce some bills, but this must only be done in order to expose more effectively the anti-working-class nature of the tsarist regime and to reveal the absolute lack of rights of the exploited workers. This is really what the workers should hear from their deputies."

Several sittings were devoted to the debate on our report, and in the resolution adopted the conference reaffirmed previous Party decisions that Social-Democratic deputies were not concerned with so-called positive legislative work but that their task was to utilise the Duma for revolutionary agitation and propaganda. Although none of the bills submitted to the Duma were satisfactory, the question arose as to what should be done when a bill did propose some improvement in the conditions of the workers. The conference decided that we were to vote for such measures only when an immediate and direct improvement such as shorter hours or higher wages, etc., was involved. If, however, the effect of the proposal was doubtful, the fraction was to abstain after expressing clearly its reasons for doing so. The conference decided that, in connection with every question raised in the Duma, the Social-Democratic fraction should formulate and introduce its own independent resolutions for passing to the order of the day.

A special resolution dealt with internal conditions in the fraction and with our differences with the Mensheviks. The conference had to consider the advisability of a final break with the Menshevik "seven" and of forming an independent fraction of Bolsheviks. Although this step was regarded as necessary and inevitable in the long run, there were many aspects to be considered before such a serious move could be made. How would the masses react to it? Would they understand that unity with the Liquidators was only harmful to the interests of the workers? Would they not consider it necessary that both wings of the Party should act together against the Black Hundreds? The situation was rendered more difficult by the fact that, owing to the strict censorship and police persecutions, it was impossible to conduct a wide campaign of enlightenment on this question. Our press was unable to call a spade a spade and even the three basic slogans of the Bolsheviks had to be camouflaged by the use of similar words. It was essential that the split should occur in such a way that the greatest number of those people who were hesitating between the two wings should be attracted to our side. This applied both to class-conscious workers and to members of the fraction itself. Our task was to wrest from the Mensheviks all who were not irretrievably sunk in the Liquidationist swamp.

The resolution of the Poronino Conference, adopted after these points had been considered, required as a preliminary step that an ultimatum should be presented to the Menshevik "seven" demanding absolute equality for both sections of the fraction. Only if this was refused were we to break with the "seven" and form an independent fraction. The following was the text:

The conference is of the opinion that the unity of the Social-Democratic Duma fraction is possible and necessary, but considers that the behaviour of the Menshevik "seven" is seriously endangering this unity.

The "seven" make use of their bare majority of one to obstruct the work of the six workers' deputies who represent the overwhelming majority of the Russian workers. On a number of occasions when important matters relating to workers were dealt with and when the Social-Democratic fraction put up two or more speakers, the six deputies were refused the opportunity of nominating one of them.

The "seven" also refuse to allow the "six" one of the two seats on Duma commissions (e.g. the budget commission).

When a representative has to be elected from the fraction to bodies of importance to the labour movement, the seven deputies by their majority of one always deprive the six of any representation. The officials of the fraction are elected in this one-sided way; e.g. the demand for a second secretary has been rejected. The conference considers that these actions of the seven deputies prevent the smooth working of the fraction and must inevitably lead to a split.

The conference protests most emphatically against such actions of the seven deputies. The six deputies represent the enormous majority of the working class of Russia and act in full accord with the political line of its organised vanguard.

The conference is, therefore, of the opinion that only if there is full equality between the two wings of the fraction and only if the "seven" give up their policy of stifling the voice of the "six," will it be possible to maintain the unity of the Duma Social-Democratic fraction.

In spite of irreconcilable divergences on work not only in the Duma, the conference insists on the unity of the fraction on the above-stated basis of equal rights for both sides.

The conference invites all class-conscious workers to express their opinion on this important question and to contribute with all their energy to the preservation of the unity of the fraction on the basis of equal rights for the six workers' deputies.

In proposing this solution our Party made a last attempt to minimise the harm that the Mensheviks could do without causing an official split. But the division of the fraction into two wings, each enjoying equal rights, would in itself establish a sharp distinction between the "six" and the "seven," and even if no formal split were to occur, we would be able to conduct our Duma activities in accordance with Party decisions.

Just before we left Poronino the workers' deputies attended a meeting of the Central Committee, at which the practical steps to be taken by the "six" in regard to the Mensheviks were discussed. It was decided that we should present a series of demands: that a second secretary be appointed, that new members be nominated for the budget commission, that new delegates be appointed to the International Socialist Bureau, and that the speakers for the fraction be chosen in equal numbers from Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. The text of the letter containing these demands was drafted there and then. In the event of the "seven" refusing, it was agreed that we should break away from them altogether and appeal to the masses.

Chapter XIII

The Split

Our Ultimatum to the Mensheviks – The Split – How the Workers Reacted to the Spht – Echoes in Party Organisations– Plekhanov against the “Seven" – The Significance of the Split for the Party

On our return from Poronino, the six workers' deputies proceeded to their various districts to report on the conference and to put into operation the decisions of the conference on the question of organisation. At the request of the Central Committee I went out to the Bejetzk works at Bryansk, where we had a strong organisation; during the whole period of my membership of the Duma I remained constantly in touch with the workers there.

We returned to St. Petersburg in time for the opening of the autumn session of the Duma on October 15. At the first meeting of the Social-Democratic fraction, which was held on the following day, a special announcement was at once made by us. After briefly describing the position which had arisen in the Party, we presented our demands for equality of treatment for both wings of the fraction, stating at the same time: "We demand an immediate reply. In the event of a refusal, we shall leave the fraction."

Chkheidze tried to avoid the discussion of our demands: "Is the meeting willing to discuss the declaration of the six deputies?" he inquired, and being assured of his usual rnajority he wanted at once to put the question to the vote.

In answer to our protest against such a method of procedure, one of the "seven" came to the assistance of the chairman with the suggestion that the meeting should first discuss the current affairs of the fraction and then pass on to the consideration of the issue raised by the "six." But, definitely refusing to continue to work as a united fraction until we received a reply to our demands, we left the meeting in a body.

The Mensheviks were obviously taken aback by this determined action and at first were at a loss as to how to react. Therefore, in order to gain time, they requested us to present the declaration in writing and promised to give a reply within a week, inviting us meanwhile to continue to participate in the work of the fraction. On the next day we handed in the following declaration:

A year of common work in the State Duma has given rise to much friction and a number of clashes between us and you, the other seven Social-Democratic deputies. The differences were frequently discussed openly in the press, and your last decisions, taken just before the closing of the Duma in June, when a number of the members were away, show the utter impossibility of continuing the present state of things. These decisions mean that by virtue of your seven votes you intend to refuse to allow the Bolshevik "six" one of the two seats on the budget commission or a representative to a most important organisation.

Coming on top of your repeated refusals to allow the workers' deputies one of two speakers put up in the Duma, this decision is more than we are prepared to stand.

You are aware that we have been, and are, acting fully and exclusively in the spirit of consistent Marxism, adhering, as we do, ideologically to all its decisions. You know, comrades, that we do not exaggerate when we say that our activity is in complete harmony with the ideas and will of the vast majority of the advanced Marxist Russian workers. This is proved by the way in which Pravda, the first workers' newspaper created by the upsurge of the labour movement in April-May 1912, has rallied the majority of the working class. It is proved by the elections in the workers' electoral colleges to the Fourth State Duma, when in every case Bolsheviks were elected as deputies, revealing that in comparison with the workers' electoral colleges for the Second and Third Dumas, there has been an enormous growth of Marxism and anti-Liquidationist ideas among the class-conscious Russian workers. It is also apparent in the results of the election of the Board of the St. Petersburg Metal-Workers' Union and in the history of the first workers' newspaper in Moscow.

It is clear that we consider it our duty to act in strict conformity with the will of the Russian workers united under the banner of Marxism. Yet you, the other seven deputies, choose to act independently of that will. You adopt decisions which are in opposition to it. We would remind you of your acceptance of the Polish deputy, Jagello, into the fraction, although he was not recognised by any Social-Democrat in Poland, and also of your adoption of the nationalist slogan of cultural autonomy against the wishes of the workers, etc. We have no exact data about your relations to the Liquidationist tendency, but we believe that you incline towards it, although only in a half-hearted fashion. But, be that as it may, it is apparent that you do not consider yourselves bound by the opinions and demands of the class-conscious Russian workers with whom we work hand in hand.

In these conditions every Socialist, every class-conscious worker, in any country in the world would condemn outright your attempt to suppress us by your one extra vote and to use this slight advantage to force down our throats a policy which is rejected by the majority of the Russian workers.

We are forced to recognise that our differences as to how work should be conducted both inside and outside the Duma are irreconcilable. We are convinced that your conduct in refusing us a just proportion of representation aims at a split and precludes the possibility of our working together. But in view of the insistent demand of the workers to preserve the unity of the Social-Democratic fraction, if only for outward appearances, if only in the Duma work, and being of opinion that the experience of the past year has shown that it is possible to achieve such unity by agreement in our Duma work, we request you to state once for all, precisely and unambiguously, that no further suppression by your seven votes of the six deputies from the workers' colleges is to take place. The preservation of a united Social-Democratic fraction is only possible if there is a full recognition of equality between the "six" and the "seven" and if our work in the Duma follows the line of an agreement between us on all questions at issue.

This declaration was published in Pravda together with an appeal to all workers to support the demand of the "six." On the same day, Pravda opened a campaign against the "seven" and explained the meaning of the struggle which had arisen in the fraction. One of the articles contained figures showing the number of workers in the districts from which Social-Democratic deputies had been elected: nine-tenths of the total number lived in the districts which had returned Bolsheviks, while one-tenth stood to the credit of the Menshevik seven. Many articles exposing the Liquidators and explaining the criminal part which they were playing in the struggle against the Party were received from members of the Central Committee abroad, including some from Comrade Lenin.

"Rally to our defence!" was the appeal of Pravda. "Our patience is exhausted. The workers' deputies approached the majority of the fraction requesting freedom to carry out their work and to fulfil the tasks imposed on them by the proletariat; the ‘seven’ answered as before by trying to shirk the issue. Therefore the workers themselves must settle the question. We appeal to all those to whom the interests of the working class are dear, to rally to the defence of the workers' representatives and to declare to the 'seven' that the workers will not allow the will of their chosen deputies, the consistent Marxists, to be violated."

The workers of St. Petersburg responded readily to our appeal and their example was followed by the workers of other big cities. The columns of Pravda were filled with resolutions passed by the workers condemning the behaviour of the "seven" and promising support to the workers' deputies. The following is one of the first resolutions received before the Mensheviks had given an answer to our demands:

We, the workers in the gun workshop of the Putilov works, having learned from the press of the disputes that have taken place in the Social-Democratic fraction in the State Duma, state that we regard the demand of the six deputies elected from the workers' electoral colleges, who are the representatives of the Russian working class as a whole, to be perfectly correct. Further, we require from the seven deputies the recognition of the right of the "six" to guide all the work concernixig working-class tactics.

During the first week after the publication of our declaration to the Menshevik "seven," Pravda received resolutions adopted by the workers of twenty-five factories and signed by over 2,500 workers. Moreover, four meetings of delegates representing about a hundred works in the St. Petersburg area declared against the Liquidators and for the "six." Similar resolutions were carried by the executive committees of the four trade unions representing some 3,000 members.

At that time, when the split was imminent, all our Party organisations did good work amongst the masses. Several meetings were arranged by the Metal-Workers' Committee and all our “six” spoke daily at gatherings of workers who were keenly interested in the struggle against the Mensheviks. In some districts the supporters of the Mensheviks, when they learned that one of us was to speak, invited also a representative of the "seven." The debates which followed on such occasions usually ended in the discomfiture of the Mensheviks, since the majority of the workers, once they had grasped the true character of the quarrel, sided with the Bolsheviks and demanded that the Duma fraction should pursue a Bolshevik policy.

Whilst refraining from giving a direct answer to our demands, the seven published a lengthy explanation of their position in the Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta, which now appeared in place of Luch. Their policy was perfectly clear. They wished to delay the matter as long as possible and, while conducting a campaign in the press and among the workers, to bring in some way pressure on us from outside. But their calculations were all wrong; our decision had been taken after serious consideration and could not be affected by a few days' delay.

We attended the regular meeting of the fraction on October 21, and again demanded an answer to our conditions. Chkheidze, in the name of the "seven," replied that a final answer would be given within four days and meanwhile they considered it possible for work to be continued only on the old basis, i.e. without recognising equal rights for both sections of the fraction. The meeting then adjourned and separate conferences took place of the "six" and the "seven" with Comrade Novosyolov, the doorkeeper of the fraction, acting as intermediary to convey proposals from one to the other. Finally we informed the “seven” that we were willing to wait a few more days, but that during this time we would not take part in the general voting of the fraction but would announce the collective decision of the "six" on any question that arose.

The ensuing fraction meeting showed that the Mensheviks were far from considering any renunciation of the power which their one-vote majority gave them. They refused to allow us a speaker on the interpellation concerning the press and proceeded to appoint two Mensheviks. It is interesting to note that they stated that since there was no difference of opinion between the two wings on this question there was no reason to have a speaker from each. Thus, if there were differences of opinion, a Bolshevik should not speak because that would destroy the unity, and if there were no differences, then, too, it was not necessary for a Bolshevik to address the Duma.

At the next session of the Duma the "seven" demonstrated the extent to which they accepted Liquidationist principles. The Menshevik, Tulyakov, speaking on behalf of the fraction, declared: "The freedom of association, which includes the right to hold meetings, is our fighting slogan." Thus Tulyakov openly proclaimed a Liquidationist slogan which had been definitely opposed by the Party because it was substituted for the genuine revolutionary demands of the workers.

Finally, on October 25, the Mensheviks gave their long-awaited answer to our declaration. As we expected, they rejected all of our demands and proposed to continue the work of the fraction along the old lines. After receiving the written reply, we left the meeting. This was the last meeting of the united Social-Democratic fraction of the Fourth State Duma. The split had become an accomplished fact.

On the following day Pravda published the following appeal of the "six" addressed to all workers:

Every worker, on reading the reply of the seven deputies in which they reject all our demands, will undoubtedly ask himself: "What is the next step?"

Will the fraction reunite? Will the workers allow the seven deputies who keep aloof from the Marxist organisation to speak in the name of Social-Democracy? What are we, the six workers' deputies, to do now that the "seven" have decided by means of their one-vote majority to follow a policy which is contrary to the will of the workers?

We realise that the workers demand the unity of Social-Democrats in the Duma. When we asked the proletariat if they agreed with our conception of how that unity should be achieved, thousands of workers replied: "We do." We are convinced that this is the opinion of the majority of Russian workers.

For the sake of that unity, we did not discontinue our work within the fraction and did all we could to prevent the majority in the fraction destroying that unity. We had the right to expect that the seven deputies would put aside factional considerations and would listen to the voices of the hundreds and thousands of workers who, by their resolutions, approved our demands.

But this did not happen. The "seven" rejected our demands, ignored the workers and countered their clearly expressed will. We are now faced with the necessity of maintaining an independent existence. That must now be clear to all workers to whom the interests of the Marxist organisation and the cause of the proletariat are dear.

We appeal to you, comrades, for support in this critical period.

We had now finally broken with the "seven." On October 27 we held the first meeting of the new Bolshevik fraction of the State Duma and sent an official notification to the "seven" that in view of their refusal of our demands, we should henceforward constitute an independent fraction in the Duma. For the purpose of joint action from the Duma tribune we told the “seven” that we were prepared to open special negotiations whenever necessary.

At the same time we published another statement in Pravda announcing the organisation of the Bolshevik fraction and explaining the causes of the split. We wrote:

It is common knowledge, that for some time past, two tendencies have been struggling for mastery within the ranks of the class-conscious, organised workers: one upholding the old slogans written on the old proletarian banner, the other represented by leaders who reject these slogans, declare the past of Social-Democracy to have been a kind of masquerading and preach the substitution of partial for basic slogans.

These two tendencies have been struggling for a number of years within the workers' ranks and, obviously, there could be no conciliatory attitude towards such a tendency. The "seven" made use of their voices, not only to advocate their views within the fraction, but also in order to give effect in the Duma to a line of policy rejected by us, a line of Liquidationist policy.... We could not submit to our old banner being outraged, to our old demands being ignored. For the sake of our demands, and in order to serve the cause of the working class, we deem it our duty to come out in defence of our slogans, and to withdraw from a place where they are ignored. Comrades, we shall now single-handed keep our banner flying both inside and outside the Duma and we appeal to you for assistance in this responsible work.

We submitted all the differences which arose between us and the Liquidators to the consideration of the working class with no fear as to the result. This was a moment of great historic importance. The division of the Party into Mensheviks and Bolsheviks extended from the bottom to the top, but so far the question of a split had only become urgent within the illegal underground organisations which included the most revolutionary class-conscious workers. Now this question, which had enormous influence on the course of the Russian revolution, had to be answered by the entire working class. By supporting our Duma “six,” the Russian proletariat would show that it was determined to struggle not only against the tsarist autocracy but against the bourgeois regime as a whole. For us, as for the Mensheviks, the position that the working class took on the question of the split in the Duma fraction was a matter of life or death as far as Party organisation was concerned. The correctness of the whole of our political line was, as it were, submitted to a general test, to be effected by the widest masses of the Russian proletariat.

We were under no misapprehension as to the seriousness of the step which we had taken in finally breaking with the Menshevik "seven" and appealing for support to the masses of the workers. The advisability of the split had often been discussed by the Party centres and a close examination of all the circumstances strengthened the opinion that the working class would follow us and not the Mensheviks. Yet some Party comrades still wavered and asked whether it was not premature to make a complete break, whether the support of the workers would be unanimous and whether we ought not to make another attempt to preserve at least a semblance of unity.

A feeling of enormous responsibility to the working class weighed heavily upon us during those days. Conscious of that responsibility we awaited with anxiety the workers' response to our appeal; although sure that the majority of the workers would be with us, we could not calculate the extent or the nature of their support. All Party organisations threw themselves into the task of conducting an agitational campaign in favour of the “six.”

The question of the position which the workers would assume was, in fact, reduced to the question of how powerful will be the response of the St. Petersburg proletariat. Both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, therefore, devoted most of their attention to the conquest of the workers of St. Petersburg. At every factory, in every workshop, the question of the split in the fraction was the subject of heated controversy and lively discussion and members of our "six" were continually asked to attend meetings to explain the reasons why the Bolsheviks left the fraction. From St. Petersburg the campaign rapidly spread throughout the country, the workers' deputies sent letters, appeals, etc., to their constituencies and in reply there was a stream of resolutions, greetings and promises of support.

The campaign grew wider in extent, embracing more and more of the workers. The split was at first a matter of discussion in the narrow Party nuclei; later it became a topic in trade union branches and other legal workers' organisations and finally it was a subject which interested the entire working ckiss.

Despite the difliculties, all the workers' resolutions received by our "six" bore genuine signatures, although such an action rendered the signatories liable to arrest and exile or at least to dismissal. Consequently the number of signatures could not give a correct idea of the number of workers who supported us, the more so since, in many cases, the resolutions were signed by representatives of several hundreds or thousands of workers. Nevertheless the number of resolutions and the number of signatures received by us is significant when compared with the numbers obtained by the Mensheviks. The "seven," assisted by the Party apparatus and press of the Liquidators, had, of course, launched a campaign against us, but in the first few days after the split it was apparent that their position was hopeless.

By November 1, in the course of two weeks, Pravda and our fraction received over eighty resolutions of support bearing over 5,000 signatures. During the same period, the Mensheviks could only muster 3,500 signatures. And even this proportion was not maintained, since the Mensheviks had exhausted all their efforts in the first weeks, and every day saw a falling off in the number of Menshevik resolutions while the number of resolutions in favour of the "six" continued to increase. In the course of the next month our lead was still more pronounced; the flow of pro-Menshevik resolutions from the provinces ceased almost entirely, whereas our supporters were only beginning to act.

By December 1 it was clear that the Bolsheviks could count at least two and a half times as many supporters among the Russian workers as the Mensheviks. The amount of money collected by each group among the workers was also significant. The Mensheviks were able to raise only about 150 rubles for every 1,000 which we obtained.

The split in the Duma fraction and the organisation of an independent Bolshevik fraction had important results within the Russian Social-Democratic Party. All Party organisations and Party groups decided one way or the other on the question, thus joining one of the two wings of the formerly united Party.

Our fraction received many letters from groups of comrades in prison and exile, where thousands of revolutionary workers were living at that time. Being far away and detached from recent developments, not all of them saw at once the correctness of our position; some thought that by each side making some concessions it would still be possible to preserve unity. The split was especially painful to former Social-Democratic deputies of the previous Dumas. A group of ex-deputies of the Second Duma, who were in exile in Siberia, sent us a telegram imploring us to find some way of preserving a united fraction. After a time, however, they, like all genuine revolutionary Marxists, saw clearly that the final break with Menshevism was not only historically inevitable but also absolutely necessary for the successful progress of the revolutionary struggle.

Some Social-Democratic circles abroad too did not grasp the nature and meaning of the split in the fraction, but hovered between the two camps, passing from Bolshevism to Menshevism and vice versa. One of the largest of these groups, Vperiod (Forward), thought that the split was the result of the "absence of a single leading Party centre, enjoying the confidence of the majority of Party members." The Vperiodists recognised that the demands of the "six" were just, but they thought that the whole question only amounted to minor organisational clashes within the fraction. Thus they entirely missed the significance of the split and the fundamental differences which had led to it.

The leading committees of both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks issued outspoken and clearly expressed statements on the question of the split.

The following resolution was adopted by the St. Petersburg Committee of our Party.

We send warm greetings to the six workers' deputies who now constitute the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Fraction, and who in the whole of their activity were guided by the will of the Marxist organisation and remained true to the old programme and tactics of Social-Democracy. Without striving to accomplish so-called positive work, they have boldly proclaimed from the Duma tribune the fundamental slogans of the proletariat....

Then, after enumerating the principal motives of the "six" in presenting their demands to the Menshevik "seven," the resolution concluded as follows: “We emphatically condemn the seven deputies and consider that they have no right to assume the title of 'Social-Democratic fraction' and that, being unworthy to represent the workers, they should resign their seats unless they are willing to restore unity and act in agreement with the Marxist organisation and the ‘six’."

This resolution was published in the Proletarskaya Pravda, and in order to deceive the censor, it was called "resolution of the leading institution of the St. Petersburg Marxists." For the same reasons the word "Party" was replaced by the expression “Marxist organisation,” as in other resolutions and articles printed in the newspaper.

At about the same time, the Liquidatlonist Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta published the appeal issued by the Mensheviks' Organisational Committee which, also for censorship considerations, was called the "leading institution of the Social-Democratic workers who united in August 1912." The Mensheviks called us "deserters," "violators of the workers' instructions," "supporters of the Lenin circle," "secessionists," etc., and appealed for support on the ground that they were the only genuine representatives of the working class. We have already seen the results of their appeals. Having been defeated in the agitational campaign among the workers, the Mensheviks made another attempt to bring pressure to bear on our "six." Taking advantage or the lack of information concerning Russian affairs among foreign Social-Democratic parties and of the fact that it was their nominee who represented the fraction on the international Socialist Bureau (of the Second International), the Mensheviks decided to raise the question at the next meeting of the Bureau. Chkheidze and Skobelev left for London, where the Bureau was to meet on December 1.

Hoping to gain also the weighty support of Plekhanov, Chkheidze wired to him in Italy asking him to come to London to express his opinion on the split at the Bureau meeting. Plekhanov, however, not only declined to come to London, but sent a letter to the International Socialist Bureau stating that he supported the "six" and considered that the Mensheviks were to blame for the split. At the same time, since he believed that this matter finally clinched the question of a split in the Social-Democratic Party, Plekhanov decided to resign from the Bureau, on which he was the representative of the whole Party. The following is an extract from his letter:

The differences of opinion which have existed within the Russian Social-Democratic Party during the last few years have now led to the division of our Duma fraction into two competing groups. This split occurred as the result of certain regrettable decisions taken by our Liquidationist comrades, who chanced to be in a majority (seven against six). Since a decisive blow has been dealt at the unity of our Party, I, who represent among you the whole Party, have no other choice but to resign. This I am doing by the present letter.

The attempt of the Liquidators to rush the Bureau into taking their side in this quarrel failed miserably. The International Socialist Bureau paid little attention to the communication concerning the Russian Party, to which only a few minutes were devoted. On Kautsky’s motion a vaguely worded resolution was adopted on the need for unity in the Russian Party, and for this purpose the Bureau charged its executive committee to “enter into negotiations with ail groups within the Russian Party and all groups whose programme was in accord with the Party’s for the purpose of arranging for a general exchange of views concerning the points at issue.” This failure completed the discomfiture of the Mensheviks they had been defeated all along the line.

During their struggle against the seven deputies, the Bolsheviks had carried new positions and considerably widened and deepened their influence among the workers. The Party had not wavered, and it emerged victorious and strengthened. The split in the fraction and the creation of an independent Bolshevik fraction was discussed by thousands of workers, and the fact that such questions obtained wide publicity was of extreme organisational and political importance. The campaign in support of the "six" resulted in an influx of workers into the ranks of the Party, and the whole of our Party work was infused with new vigour. Many revolutionary workers, who until then had no clear notion of the essence of the Party differences and inclined towards the Menshevik-Liquidators, joined the Bolsheviks as the result of the information gained during this period.

Fundamentally the question of the split was the general question of how the Party organisation "should be built up. By supporting our Bolshevik "six," the workers showed that they had chosen their path, the path which conducted the Russian proletariat to the final victory.

Chapter XIV

The Bolshevik Fraction

The First Acts of the Fraction – Sabotage by the "Seven" – Reinforcing Duma Work – The Eight-Hour Bill – The Disintegration of the Menshevik Fraction

The "six" had, in reality, existed as an independent fraction since the first day of the autumn session of 1913, when, after presenting our demands to the Mensheviks, we refused to carry on joint work. From that day forward, the "six" and the "seven" held separate meetings and on only a couple of occasions combined to discuss the appointing of official speakers for the fraction in the Duma. At the end of October we formally announced the creation of an independent Bolshevik fraction.

At the first meeting of the fraction, officials were elected and questions of organisation settled. Malinovsky was elected chairman, Petrovsky vice-chairman, Samoylov treasurer, and Rozmirovich secretary. The "six" assumed the name "Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Fraction," stressing the word ''Workers'" which distinguished them from the Mensheviks.

Until premises could be secured, the fraction held its meetings and received visitors at my apartment in Shpalernaya Street. Later on special premises were rented; we obtained some furniture, engaged an attendant, published the address in the newspaper and from then on received our visitors and did other business there. All expenses connected with the fraction were equally borne by the "six"; each of us paid monthly about twenty-five to thirty rubles.

The Presidium of the Duma tried in every possible way to prevent the formation of the Bolshevik fraction. And since official registration was necessary in order to obtain the same rights as the other Duma fractions (to receive papers and send representatives to the commissions, etc.), Rodzyanko attempted to postpone registration as long as he could. He declared: "There cannot be two Social-Democratic fractions in the State Duma, therefore the six workers' deputies will be registered as 'independent' – i.e. non-fraction."

The other members of the Presidium supported their chairman, referring to the practice of foreign parliaments where, they asserted, there was no such precedent. But according to the Duma rules any group of deputies was entitled to form a fraction, and therefore after some procrastination the Duma was forced to recognise us.

Meanwhile the Menshevik "seven" did all that they could to hamper our work. As soon as we left the fraction they announced officially in the Duma that any interpellation or declaration which was not signed by Chkheidze or his deputy did not emanate from Social Democrats. The "seven" would hear of no joint action. On leaving the fraction, we proposed to the Mensheviks to arrange jointly in future our representation on commissions and any other Duma work. This offer was made to meet the wishes of those groups of workers who believed that in face of the Black Hundred Duma, the "six" and ''seven" should combine on certain questions. The Mensheviks, however, who until then had shouted so volubly about unity, absolutely refused to make any sort of agreement.

Our personal relations with the "seven" became strained to the point of hostility; we no longer greeted or spoke to them for some time. Chkheidze, in the name of the "seven," declared that they would treat us like any other Duma fraction and would add their signatures to our interpellations on the same basis as they did for the Cadets, Trudoviks, etc. Eventually it turned out that they treated us worse than they did their neighbours on the Right.

At the request of the fraction, I collected signatures for one of our first interpellations – I believe it was on the question of workers' insurance in State enterprises. I had already obtained several signatures from the Trudoviks and even from the Cadets when I asked Chkheidze and he refused. The other members of the "seven" did likewise.

Professing to act in the name of fourteen Social-Democratic deputies, the "seven" had sent representatives to three newly-formed Duma commissions dealing with the press, the police and public meetings. They had also refused to divide with us the representation on the budget commission. The time had come, however, when the Mensheviks were forced to offer to come to terms on the question of participation in commissions. Before the closing of the Duma for the Christmas recess, several new commissions were formed on which the Mensheviks were unable to obtain representation, because by that time our fraction was formally registered and. only fractions of more than ten members were entitled to be represented.

The Mensheviks then requested us to send joint representatives to these commissions. Naturally enough, we declined this offer and agreed to negotiate only on condition that the "seven" divided with us the seats that they had previously captured. To make terms with the Mensheviks only when it suited them meant to revert to the state of things which existed before the split. The Mensheviks replied that they declined on principle to open any general negotiations with us and absolutely refused to consider the reappointment of representatives on the Duma commissions.

After the formation of an independent fraction, the work of our "six" became much wider in its scope. The break with the "seven" greatly increased our tasks and every workers' deputy was required to display greater energy. We were only able to accomplish our duties because of the support which we received from the majority of the workers, and this support was forthcoming. The very split called forth a strong tide which brushed aside the Mensheviks and greatly strengthened the Bolshevik deputies. The greater activity of our fraction after the split attracted to us still more support from the workers. This was a period of great working-class activity and all branches of our work both inside and outside the Duma were invigorated and enlivened. Money streamed in for revolutionary objects and there was a considerable increase in the number of visitors to the fraction and to the editorial offices of the newspaper. The scope of the Duma work became different too.

The autumn session of the State Duma was very short, lasting only six weeks. Even during that period, however, in spite of the fact that we had to devote considerable time and energy to fighting the "seven" and to internal Party matters, we got through an enormous amount of work. During the six weeks we introduced the following thirteen interpellations: (1) on the press, (2) on the use of agents-provocateurs to secure the arrest of the Social-Democratic fraction in the Second Duma, (3) on strikes, (4) on trade unions, (5) on insurance questions, (6) on the arrest of workers' representatives, (7) on the press (second interpellation), (8) on strikes (second time), (9) on the fine imposed upon me by the city governor, (10) on strikes at the Obukhov works, (11) on the non-insurance of workers in State undertakings, (12) on mining disasters, (13) on measures for combating the plague.

Most of these questions were introduced independently by our fraction after the formal split had occurred. In addition the "six" made speeches in every important debate during the twenty-four sittings.

The intolerance of the Black Hundred Duma majority towards our speeches and interpellations still further increased after the split. Purishkevich complained that the workers' deputies were overwhelming the Duma with interpellations and the Duma invariably denied the urgency of our questions and turned them over to commissions to be buried. The Black Hundreds were determined to prevent us making use of the Duma tribune. With the close collaboration of the Cadet, Maklakov, they drew up new regulations under which speeches on interpellations were limited to ten minutes, also restricting the right to introduce such interpellations as it was obvious that the Duma would not accept. These new regulations were designed expressly against the "six," since our interpellations were only introduced for the purpose of revolutionary agitation.

Our fraction frequently met representatives of the St. Petersburg workers to discuss all aspects of Duma work. They formed for this purpose a "workers' commission" which regularly held joint meetings with the fraction. Although this regularity was often interrupted by the arrest of visitors to the fraction's rooms, new comrades came forward to replace them. The workers’ commission did not restrict its activities to the discussion of Duma questions; it became the vehicle for the transmission of Party instructions to the illegal organisations.

The workers' commission met for the first time at the end of January 1914, when the winter session opened; various sub-committees were formed to discuss the different bills and interpellations. Animated discussions took place on every point; bills were discussed both from the aspect of their significance under the tsarist regime and of how the question would be dealt with after the revolution. Were it possible to re-establish now all the details of the meetings of the commission, it would be found that many proposals and resolutions discussed then are now realised in the form of laws.

The eight-hours bill, which was of special importance in our Duma work, was drafted with the aid of the "workers' commission." Was this so-called "positive legislative work" to which our Party was definitely opposed? Most decidedly not. In the first place, the eight-hour day was not one of those partial demands which the Liquidators considered could be realised through the Duma; it was one of the three fundamental slogans under which the Party mobilised the workers for the struggle. The introduction of the bill into the Duma provided an opportunity for the proclamation of one of our fighting revolutionary slogans from the Duma tribune itself. The bill had nothing to do with "positive work," since there was not the slightest chance that it would be accepted by the Black Hundred majority. On the other hand, the very failure of the bill could be made the occasion of further revolutionary agitation.

Pravda published the text of the bill and stated:

Of course we do not for a moment expect that the Fourth Duma will pass this bill. The eight-hour day is one of the fundamental demands of the workers in the present period. When this question is raised in the Duma the other parties will be forced to declare their attitude towards it and this will assist our struggle for the eight-hour day outside the Duma. We appeal to all workers to endorse the bill. Let it be introduced not only in the name of a group of deputies, but in the name of tens of thousands of workers!

To-day all the provisions of the bill seem commonplace enough, but it was very different under tsarism. The working class devoted immense efforts to the struggle for the eight-hour day, which they were unable to obtain until they had overthrown and destroyed the entire autocratic regime. The sacrifices made by the Russian proletariat during the revolution were also made for the right to work not more than eight hours a day.

In order to understand the enormous impression which the publication of this bill made on the workers, it is necessary to visualise the conditions of that time. The workers of St. Petersburg and other cities overwhelmed our fraction and the editors of Pravda with resolutions, warmly welcoming the introduction of the bill. The following is characteristic: it bore 319 signatures.

We, a group of workers from various shops at the Putilov works, warmly thank our six workers' deputies of the Russian Social- Democratic Workers' Fraction for the bill which they have drafted and placed on the agenda of the State Duma to establish a maximum working-day of eight hours. We all endorse this bill and whole-heartedly support the deputies elected from the workers' electoral colleges.

The introduction of this bill further increased the sympathy between the workers and our "six" and lessened that between them and the Mensheviks. The "seven" were rapidly losing the last vestiges of their influence and very soon became altogether divorced from the workers. The demands, needs and requests of the workers were addressed to our fraction and the Mensheviks were ignored. The members of the "seven" made their usual speeches in the Duma, but they were compelled to admit among themselves that they had entirely lost the support of the working class.

In the archives of the police department there is a document describing a meeting of the Menshevik "seven" held at the end of January 1914, which reveals clearly that the Mensheviks had already begun to realise where their policy had landed them. Chkhenkeli reproached his fraction because "it had lost all influence, deserted the political life of the country, broken its connections with the workers and finally forced the most active members to leave the fraction and consequently brought the work of the fraction to a standstill." Tulyakov spoke in a similar strain: "The fraction calls itself Social-Democratic but it does not reflect the life and aspirations of the workers either in the State Duma or in the press. The fraction has, for political, police and ethical considerations, abandoned the workers and landed itself in a state of 'splendid isolation.' "

It is quite possible that the reports of the secret police do not correctly reproduce the words of the Menshevik deputies, but in any case it is beyond dispute that the "seven" began to disintegrate immediately after the split. Early in January, the deputy Buryanov left the Menshevik fraction. He regarded himself as a Plekhanovist and during the Christmas recess he visited Plekhanov in order to learn more precisely his views on the split. He sent the following letter to Chkheidze on his return:

Of course I understand, as you probably do too, that the causes of the split in the Duma fraction lie outside of the Duma. In these circumstances the complete unity of Social-Democrats in the Duma will be achieved only when there is unity among the advanced elements of the Russian class-conscious workers. Whilst striving for this complete unity in the future, I consider that united action on the part of Social-Democratic deputies is imperative at the present moment. This can only be obtained on the basis of equality between the Social-Democratic Fraction and the Social-Democratic Workers' Fraction. Up to now we have unfortunately rejected this method of avoiding a split in the fraction. I hope that, since my leaving the Social-Democratic Fraction will equalise the two wings numerically, you will revise your views as to the possibility of joint work on a basis of equality.

Buryanov did not proceed further with his protest but adopted a middle position, declaring that he would support both fractions in any activity which was "consistent with a Marxist line of policy."

Soon afterwards the Mensheviks lost another member when they were forced to expel Mankov for too obvious deviations to the Right. Thus while the Mensheviks disintegrated and lost the confidence of the workers, the influence of our "six" increased and we were enthusiastically supported by the revolutionary proletariat.

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