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V. I. Lenin
TO THE JEWISH WORKERS
Written at the end of May
(beginning of June) 1905
First published in 1905
as a preface to the pamphlet:
Report on the Third Congress
of the R.S.D.L.P.
(issued in Yiddish)
Published according to
the text of the pamphlet
translated from the Yiddish
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965
Second Revised Edition
Vol. 8, pp. 495-98.
Translated from the Russian by
Bernard Isaacs and Isidor Lasker
Editor: V. J. Jerome
Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,
email@example.com (February 2002)
TO THE JEWISH WORKERS
In publishing the Report on the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in Yiddish, the Editorial Board of the Party Central Organ considers it necessary to say a few words in connection with this publication.
The conditions under which the class-conscious proletariat of the whole world lives tend to create the closest bonds and increasing unity in the systematic Social-Democratic struggle of the workers of the various nationalities. The great slogan "Workers of all countries, unite!", which was proclaimed for the first time more than half a century ago, has now become more than the slogan of just the Social-Democratic parties of the different countries. This slogan is being increasingly embodied both in the unification of the tactics of international Social-Democracy and in the building of organisational unity among the proletarians of the various nationalities who are struggling under the yoke of one and the same despotic state for freedom and socialism.
In Russia the workers of all nationalities, especially those of non-Russian nationality, endure an economic and political oppression such as obtains in no other country. The Jewish workers, as a disfranchised nationality, not only suffer general economic and political oppression, but they also suffer under the yoke which deprives them of elementary civic rights. The heavier this yoke, the greater the need for the closest possible unity among the proletarians of the different nationalities; for without such unity a victorious struggle against the general oppression is impossible. The more the predatory tsarist autocracy strives to sow the seeds of discord, distrust and enmity among the nationalities it oppresses, the more abominable its policy of inciting the
ignorant masses to savage pogroms becomes, the more does the duty devolve upon us, the Social-Democrats, to rally the isolated Social-Democratic parties of the different nationalities into a single Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.
The First Congress of our Party, held in the spring of 1898, set itself the aim of establishing such unity. To dispel any idea of its being national in character, the Party called itself "Rossiiskaya " and not "Russkaya ".[*] The organisation of Jewish workers -- the Bund -- affiliated with the Party as an autonomous section. Unfortunately, from that moment the unity of the Jewish and non-Jewish Social-Democrats within the single party was destroyed. Nationalist ideas began to spread among the leading members of the Bund, ideas which are in sharp contradiction to the entire world view of Social-Democracy. Instead of trying to draw the Jewish and the non-Jewish workers closer together, the Bund embarked upon a policy of weaning the former away from the latter; at its congresses it claimed a separate existence for the Jews as a nation. Instead of carrying on the work begun by the First Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Party towards still closer unity between the Bund and the Party, the Bund moved a step away from the Party. First, it withdrew from the united organisation of the R.S.D.L.P. abroad and set up an independent organisation abroad; later, it withdrew from the R.S.D.L.P as well, when the Second Congress of our Party in 1903 refused by a considerable majority to recognise the Bund as sole representative of the Jewish proletariat. The Bund held to its position, claiming not only that it was the sole representative of the Jewish proletariat, but that no territorial limits were set to its activities. Naturally, the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. could not accept such conditions, since in a number of regions, as, for instance, in South Russia, the organised Jewish proletariat constitutes part of the general Party organisation. Ignoring that stand, the Bund withdrew from the Party and thereby broke the unity of the Social-Democratic proletariat, despite the work that had <"fnp496">
* The adjective Russkaya (Russian) pertains to nationality, Rossiiskaya (Russian) pertains to Russia as a country. --Ed.
been carried out in common at the Second Congress, and despite the Party Programme and Rules.
At its Second and Third Congresses the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party expressed its firm conviction that the Bund's withdrawal from the Party was a grave and deplorable mistake on its part. The Bund's mistake is a result of its basically untenable nationalist views; the result of its groundless claim to be the sole, monopolistic representative of the Jewish proletariat, from which the federalist principle of organisation necessarily derives; the result of its long-standing policy of keeping aloof and separate from the Party. We are convinced that this mistake must be rectified and that it will be rectified as the movement continues to grow. We consider ourselves ideologically at one with the Jewish Social-Democratic proletariat. After the Second Congress our Central Committee pursued a non-nationalist policy; it took pains that such committees should be set up (Polesye, North-Western) as would unite all the local workers, Jewish as well as non-Jewish, into a single whole. At the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. a resolution was adopted providing for the publication of literature in Yiddish. In fulfilment of that resolution we are now issuing a complete translation into Yiddish of the Report on the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., which has appeared in Russian. The Report will show the Jewish workers -- both those who are now in our Party and those who are temporarily out of it -- how our Party is progressing. The Report will show the Jewish workers that our Party is already emerging from the internal crisis from which it has been suffering since the Second Congress. It will show them what the actual aspirations of our Party are and what its attitude is towards the Social-Democratic parties and organisations of the other nationalities, as well as the attitude of the entire Party and its central body to its component parts. Finally, it will show them -- and this is most important -- the tactical directives that were drawn up by the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. with regard to the policy of the entire class-conscious proletariat in the present revolutionary situation.
Comrades! The hour of political struggle against the tsarist autocracy is drawing near -- the struggle of the proletariat for the freedom of all classes and peoples in Russia,
for the freedom of the proletarian drive towards socialism. Terrible trials are in store for us. The outcome of the revolution in Russia depends on our class-consciousness and preparedness, on our unity and determination. Let us set to work then with greater boldness and greater unity, let us do all in our power for the proletarians of the different nationalities to march to freedom under the leadership of a really united Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.
Editorial Board of the Central Organ
of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party
<"en145"> The document is an editorial preface to the pamphlet Report on the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., published in Yiddish in 1905. [p. 495]