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The communist left in Russia after 1920
by Tibor Szamuely (tiborszamuely [at] yahoo.com)
Saturday Oct 18th, 2003 2:51 PM
A brief overview of the history of a little-known aspect of revolutionary history...
Ian Hebbes
THE COMMUNIST LEFT IN RUSSIA AFTER 1920
INTRODUCTION

This text focuses on the activity of the
communist left in Russia after 1920. The groups
covered constituted the left wing of the Russian
Communist Party (Bolshevik), RCP(B), and had their
origins in the Left Communist fraction of 1918. Those
few historians who have dealt with this early Left
Communist fraction have failed to show how this
current, that only narrowly failed to win a majority
in both the Party central organs and the workers’
Soviets for its views, could disappear without trace.
The near totality of commentators see the later left
communist groups as either extensions of quite
different political tendencies (i.e. the Workers
Opposition) and/or as groups which ceased to exist in
the early 1920s due to repression. The choice of the
period after 1920 is based on the fact that most
accounts cease to deal with the communist left as an
organised force after this period, or see it as merely
existing in the period of 1920-1921, and then as a
phenomenon isolated from the early left communist
fraction of 1918-1919. In order to establish the
continuity of the later work of the communist left
with its predecessors and counterpose this to the
prevailing myth maintained by almost everyone that the
Bolshevik Communist/Left Opposition were the sole
opposition in the late 1920s and 1930s. The attempt to
eliminate the communist left from the historical
record as an organised force inside Russia is a
reflection of social reality. The communist left were
a minoritarian force, numerically weak and dispersed
by the growing terror of the counter-revolution.
Existing in conditions of total clandestinity few of
their documents reached the west, and the main primary
sources exist only in tiny left communist journals of
the 1920s which even the largest archives overlook.
The rarity of these documents and the scarcity of
information make it impossible to gain more than an
impression of the evolution of these groups and the
relations between them. But enough materials exist to
affirm the continued existence of the communist left
and their influence on the better known currents such
as the Left Opposition and the Democratic Centralists.


THE COMMUNIST LEFT AFTER 1920 IN RUSSIA
It is no accident that one of the most obscure groups of the communist left that fought inside and outside the
RCP(B) should emerge in Moscow. This was one of the
centres of the militant proletariat and had from 1917
onwards been a bastion of the Left Communist Fraction
in 1918 and of the Democratic Centralists who still
retained an influence amongst the workers and within
the Party despite repeated purges, transfers and other
acts of bureaucratic repression. Neither R.V. Daniels,
L. Schapiro nor E.H. Carr refers to this group whose
documents are more accessible than other smaller
breakaways from the RCP(B). The main source for this
group’s writings in English is the Workers Dreadnought
of 1922. The first document from the Group of
Revolutionary Left Communists (CWP) of Russia appears
in vol. IX no.12 June 3rd. It announces that the group
has ‘left the social democratic Russian Communist
Party’ and supports the setting up of the 4th
International with the KAPD (Communist Workers Party
of Germany), KAPN (Communist Workers Party of the
Netherlands) and the CWP (Workers Dreadnought) as well
as the Bulgarian Communist Left. This statement
suggests that the group in Moscow had already been in
contact with the KAPD for some time and were
influenced by their positions and were in regular
clandestine contact. This is further confirmed in the
text ‘An Appeal from the Russian Workers’ Opposition’
which shows that the clandestine group were able to
collect money amongst workers in Russia to pay for
literature to be printed in Germany as it was
impossible to do so in Russia. But as the Dreadnought
points out the inflation in Russia was so high that
the ‘millions of roubles’, ‘painfully collected’ were
so devalued that when exchanged would hardly cover the
postage: thus the comrades appealed for money to aid
their work in Russia. This Appeal stressed the central
tasks of the group as the vanguard to ‘oppose the
Russian Soviet government’s New Economic Policy and
United Front’ stating ‘we have entered the struggle
against the betrayal of the first triumphs of the
revolution. Our mission is to continue the
revolution’. By their designation of the term
‘Russian’ to both the party and the Soviet government
they indicate they regard them as national (i.e.
non-proletarian) organisms, which had departed from
internationalism. As with the rest of the KAI
(Communist Workers International) they tended to
under-estimate the counter-revolution and
over-estimate the possibilities for a global renewal
of the class struggle, based on the upturn of the
class struggle in Germany and the revival of workers’
struggles in Russia in 1922 and 1923. Thus they took
the side of the KAPD/Essen against the KAPD/Berlin who
opposed as premature the setting up of a 4th
International, and sent one delegate to the KAPD 5th
Congress in Hanover, who reported on the ‘illegal
work’ in Russia. In the same issue of Workers
Dreadnought, July 29th 1922 is a longer text on the
failure of the united front. (p. 6). This speaks of
‘the genuine communists in Russia who are making a
stand against the united front and state capitalism,
and who are upholding the standpoint of the KAPD’. The
CWP of Russia’s text shows that the 3rd International
has gone the way of the 2nd and Two and a Half
Internationals, and it and its trade union apparatus
has ‘sunk up to its eyes in the slough of opportunism
and reformism’ and proceeds to attack the policy of
the united front and ‘elections and parliamentary
action’ declaring that ‘proletarian revolution can
alone lead you out of the blind alley into which
capitalism and the traitors to socialism have brought
us’. Thus the CWP denounce ‘Lenin’s peaceable united
front’ as ‘co-operation with the bourgeoisie’. In
another earlier text in Workers Dreadnought June 17
1922, the united front is again denounced and
connected to the internal policy of ‘capitalism which
is newly introduced into Russia’. It is described as
an ‘out and out right wing platform for which the
international has abandoned its principals’, Despite
this stand the CWP was not the caricatural ultra left
sectarian group who denounce everything and everyone
tout court. While remaining rightly sceptical of the
centrist ‘so-called Workers Opposition’ and their
rightward moving leadership, who are called
‘unprincipled and backboneless’ the CWP of Russia
remain willing to pledge ‘support to all that is left
of revolutionary tendencies in the RCP’. At this time
the Democratic Centralists and left wing members of
the Workers Opposition as well as members of the
Workers Group still carried on opposition work inside
the RCP so this was neither a sectarian or utopian
standpoint. However the CWP of Russia did call on
these forces to build a new party. If the CWP was
initially ambiguous in its attitude to the Workers
Opposition it was due to the heterogeneous nature of
this group: while recognising that the RCP(B) was
incapable of reform from within and that ‘in any case
the Workers Opposition is not capable of doing it’
they are still prepared to ‘support all demands and
propositions of the Workers Opposition which point in
a sound revolutionary direction’. But immediately the
CWP of Russia were to criticise the leadership of the
Workers Opposition for pledging themselves ‘to the
improvement of the cause of the Menshevik bourgeois
united front in our country’ (as they themselves
called it). Thus the CWP of Russia clearly
distinguished between the Workers Opposition
leadership which was moving in a rightward direction
and the rank and file influenced by the workers’
struggle and the work of left communists and the
Democratic Centralists. At this point the left
communist groups and parties publicised the positions
and activities of the Workers Opposition
internationally. Soon, however, the CWP of Russia were
to abandon their limited and highly critical support
for the Workers Opposition which is then referred to
as the ‘so-called’ Workers Opposition in the press of
the communist left. Thus the CWP of Russia acted as a
clandestine fraction working outside the RCP(B) with
relations abroad maintained by an exile group in
Berlin and a small presence in the Moscow Party and
the proletariat in general. Little more can be said
about this group inside Russia although its supporters
in Berlin maintained themselves as a section of the
KAI and gave support to other left communist
individuals and groups inside Russia. This group,
however, is not to be confused with the more widely
known Workers Group of the RCP(B) that was formed in
February/March 1922. While sharing many of the same
positions as the Workers Group, the CWP of Russia did
not organise inside the RCP(B) in the same way as
Miasnikov’s group, nor initially share Miasnikov’s
analysis of the trade unions as arenas for communist
work in Russia. However the main area of disagreement
was on the question of the nature of revolution and
counter-revolution in Russia. The CWP of Russia, under
the influence of the KAPD, was to accept that the
revolution of October 1917 was a bourgeois or double
revolution, whereas the Workers Group maintained that
the revolution was a proletarian revolution and the
opening of a world-wide proletarian struggle. In this
they upheld the traditional left communist analysis
defended since 1918, a shared recognition with the CWP
of the internal involution, and counter-revolution,
which was marked by the defeats of 1918-20. For the
Workers Group this was to remain the reflection of the
failure of the world revolution to spread from its
bastion in Russia - rather than any original error in
the seizure of power by the proletariat in 1917. The
two groups, however, agreed on the need for a new
party and a new International as well as the need to
oppose the NEP at home, and the united front abroad.
Both were prepared to support class struggle against
the Party/state apparatus and to engage in illegal
work. It is improbable that the two groups of the left
communists in Moscow had no contact with each other,
but no documentary record exists of any contact
between them or of them engaging in polemics with each
other. However the Berlin group of the CWP did publish
the manifest of the Workers Group and translate and
distribute it internationally. However the KAPD were
critical of the manifesto and despite claiming ‘the
Workers Group as the Russian section of the 4th
International’ in 1924 the documentary material
remains ambiguous on the precise evolution of the two
groups in Russia. Certainly the repression growing
inside the Party and the ‘workers’ state’ apparatus
drove Miasnikov and the Workers Group to abandon work
inside these organisms - it was practically
impossible. They were also to adopt the
anti-parliamentary and anti-union viewpoint of the
KAPD and the KAI and adopt the name of CWP which
suggests an evolution in their positions on behalf of
the Workers Group. But alongside this is the fact that
the Workers Group did not accept the KAPD’s
criticisms, nor did it join the KAI which it regarded
as premature. This was connected to its rejection of
the immediatist view that saw an imminent revival of
the proletariat in Russia and world wide. Just as it
was unwilling to totally reject the 3rd International
and the RCP(B) or the proletarian nature of the
revolution in Russia, it was immune to the idea of
rejecting the immediate and defensive struggles of the
workers, a question which was to totally divide and
weaken the left communists in Germany. thus it remains
unclear whether the Workers Group of the RCP(B) fused
with the CWP in Russia, despite its differences. What
is known is that the Workers Group was to grow in
numbers and influence and maintain itself as an
organisation until the mid 1930s in Russia alongside
the Democratic Centralists. The original CWP was to
disappear as a group in Russia, being maintained for a
short while by Russian exiles in Berlin. The Workers
Group was to crystallise around the person of Gabriel
Miasnikov who was a Bolshevik militant since before
1905. Some authors have the origin of this group as
being in the Workers Opposition or its left wing or
that it was ‘inspired’ by the work of Ignatov. While
it is true that elements from both groups were to join
the Workers Groups this is due to the close work
between these groups in the 1920-21 struggles inside
the Party. The banning of fractions had provoked both
increased solidarity and co- operation within the left
fractions and provoked a radicalisation of the left.
The Workers Opposition was always a relatively
eclectic tendency which demonstrated its centrism by
its attempts to act as a loyal opposition even after
its ban as a fraction. It was equally seen as the
least dangerous of the left opposition by the right.
This provoked a growing alienation on the part of its
left wing who were attracted to the arguments and
analysis of the Democratic Centralists and other
members of the left communist wing of the Party who
maintained a continuity with the work of the 1918 Left
Communists. Far from being inspired by Ignatov’s
group, which itself split up in a number of
contradictory directions and symbolised the increasing
impossibility of bridging the gap between the
communist left and the RCP(B) as a whole, the Workers
group was in direct political continuity with the
communist left and won elements from both opposition
groups on the basis of its political programme. The
personal embodiment of this reality was Miasnikov
himself, a member of the Left Communist Fraction who
came from one of the earliest bastions of left
communism in the Ukraine and specifically its core in
Samara and Saratov. ‘On 12-13 May[1918] a joint
conference of the Perm’ and Motovilikha organisations
assembled, with Gabriel Miasnikov in the van of the
Left’s campaign. After fiery speeches by Borchaninov
and Miasnikov himself condemning the Brest peace - for
its failure to provide any real breathing- space and
for the retreats from socialist policies that flowed
from it - a resolution in support of the Regional
Conference’s decisions was adopted by a vote of thirty
to twenty.’ He was widely respected throughout the
Party, even by his opponents and was able to win
elements of the Samara organisation of the Workers
Opposition to his positions in the discussion clubs
set up and (temporarily) tolerated, as a safety valve
in late 1921-22. In Samara the Workers Opposition was
still in control of the Party apparatus and was on the
left wing of its fraction. When Lenin met with the 37
Workers’ Opposition delegates this was a manoeuvre.
This manoeuvre was aimed at the leaders of the
Workers’ Opposition prior to the Party Congress in an
attempt to separate them form both the Democratic
Centralists and their own left wing. The appeal to
restrain their militants and cease factional activity
had little effect and the discussion clubs which had
become centres of opposition in Moscow and the Urals
were closed down. The Workers Group of the Russian
Communist Party was the name appended to a manifesto
issued in 1923. For R.V. Daniels this programme ‘was
largely that of the Workers Opposition’ (p.160) and
the group describes as ‘a direct offshoot of the
Workers Opposition’ (p.159). However E.H. Carr makes
no reference to the origins of the Workers Group in
the Workers Opposition and L. Schapiro (p.306) points
out that while G.I. Miasnikov was ‘at times prepared
to support this group’, ‘though not a signatory of the
Workers Opposition Platform’. Given the fact that the
evolution of the Workers Group and its political
positions were within the framework of the communist
left and that its main elements had been members of
the Left Communist Fraction of 1918 undermines R.V.
Daniels portrayal of this group as a left wing
offshoot of the Workers Opposition. It is true that
the workers Opposition were strong in the Perm area of
the Urals, and to the left of this tendency. It is
equally true that this region and Samara were also
strongholds of left communist militants who were still
influential in the Party apparatus. Under these
conditions the Workers Group was able to attract
elements who were reacting to the rightward moving
Workers Opposition, as well as from the Democratic
Centralist group. The close work and discussions as
well as the solidarity in reaction to growing
repression inside the Party in 1921-22 had produced
two opposite reactions within the Opposition. Those
who sought to conciliate with the Party and state
apparatus and those who were to draw more radical
conclusions from the course of events. The former
included the majority of the workers Opposition and
the Ignatov group who had joined them. The left, a
minority, of the Ignatov group joined with the
Democratic Centralists. In such conditions of
polarisation it was inevitable that the Workers
Opposition which attempted to act as a loyal
opposition even after its banning as a fraction, and
was the most eclectic of the left tendencies would
produce a variety of splits. THE WORKERS’ TRUTH The
Workers’ Truth was the first group of the communist
left to emerge ‘outside’ the RCP(B). this group took
its name from its paper Rabochaia Pravda (no. l, Sep
1922) in which it launched an appeal that outlined it
programmatic views. The paper was produced illegally
in Moscow and it was here that the group had its base
throughout its existence, during which it was
clandestine in operation even before it was made
illegal. R.V Daniels and E. H. Carr, the main
secondary sources in English, agree that the group was
mainly composed of intellectuals and some workers, and
that it was probably a splinter group that emerged
from the Proletkult movement rather than directly from
the RCP(B). Like this movement which was influenced by
A. Bogdanov, the Workers’ Truth shared certain of
Bogdanov’s views and this may have been a factor in
their apparent isolation from other left communist
groupings both inside and outside the RCP, and the
indifference or hostility expressed towards them
despite the convergence of their political positions
on many key questions. While Bogdanov had inspired the
left fraction of the RSDLP(B), unlike most of the
Vperiod group (1908-1917) he had not rejoined the
RCP(B), con- fining his activity to work in the
building of the Proletkult movement. A pamphlet
produced by the RCP(B), O Gruppe Rabocheia Pravda:
Bol’shevik 7-8 (1924) details how the group reflected
his concepts and terminology and affirmed its
allegiance to his views. However Bogdanov himself
denied approval or support for their platform, or
being their leader. With the growth of strikes in 1923
and the fears of the growing influence of left
communists inside and outside the party the merest
suspicion of collaboration or association with the
Workers’ Truth was sufficient for the GPU to have him
imprisoned. Little is known of the individuals who
made up this group, or even how many issues of its
paper came out. It is probable that the group did not
exceed 20 core members, organised as a collective with
a milieu of sympathisers perhaps 200-400 in number.
The group was known to have intervened in the strikes
in 1922 and 1923 and it was this activity which
brought down the repression which seems to have
crushed the group. An account in Pravda in 1923 refers
to the expulsion of 13 supporters of the Workers’
Truth from the RCP(B), 7 of whom were members of the
collective. And later that year the Menshevik
Socialist Herald, an émigré paper produced in Berlin
speaks of 400 members (?!) of Workers’ Truth purged in
a mass nation-wide expulsion of left communist
elements. Even if E.H. Carr is right in asserting that
this is ‘probably’ an overestimation of the influence
of this group, R.V. Daniels is wrong to assert that
the leadership of the RCP did not take such groups
seriously, at least in terms of their potential. It
was not just the paranoia of the GPU and the growing
bureaucracy that motivated the growing repression, but
also the ability of these tiny, but growing numbers of
communist nuclei to articulate a coherent critique of
the involution and degeneration of the revolution in
Russia and connect this to the defence of the workers’
immediate struggles to defend them- selves against the
demands of the party/state apparatus. It was this that
distinguished the emerging left communists from the
later Left Opposition: Trotsky could only concede that
the ‘Workers’ Untruth’, as he called them, were the
symptom of a problem in the party and its relations
with the working class, but this in no way prevented
him form supporting their expulsion and repression, or
opposing the workers’ struggles of 1922-23. This
sectarianism of Trotsky towards the left communists
which was to remain a feature of the Left Opposition,
who refused to seriously confront groups like the
Workers’ Truth, dismissing them as ultra-leftist or
idealist. This did not prevent members of the Workers’
Truth corresponding with Trotsky privately, but these
and other connections with the ‘ultra-left’ remain
unpublished . When it launched its 1922 Appeal, it had
called for ‘propaganda circles ... created in
solidarity with the Workers’ Truth’; ‘Everywhere in
the mills and factories, in the trade union
organisations, the workers’ faculties, the soviet and
party schools, the Communist Union of Youth and the
party organisations.’ At the same time they called for
a new ‘workers’ party’ they were still prepared to
work within the old organisations and this reflected
both the difficulty of giving a practical orientation
and the political confusions that were to lead to
practical and theoretical inability to adjust to and
resist the growing counter-revolution. It was these
positions which contributed to their inability to
politically and practically understand and resist the
growing counter-revolution unlike the Democratic
Centralist Fraction or the Communist Workers Group
with whom they had discussions and contact. The other
left communist groups were hostile to the politics of
this group which put into question the making of a
proletarian revolution in 1917 and the role of the
party in a manner which both echoed the Menshevik
arguments of the past and pre-figured the arguments of
the Council Communist groups. Thus Miasnikov and the
Communist Workers’ Group were critical of this
‘so-called workers opposition’ and its platform, while
simultaneously recognising it as containing
proletarian elements who it called on to regroup
behind its own analysis. The shared opposition to the
NEP and the united front, and to the growth of state
capitalism as well as a willingness to use the few
remaining opportunities to work in the union and party
bodies, as well as working illegally outside and
against these bodies could not conceal the growing
divergences between the 2 groups. The Workers’ Truth
tended to work towards a politicisation of the
immediate struggles, seeing ‘the material conditions’
... ‘of the organisers of state capitalism’ were
‘sharply differentiated from the conditions of the
working class’ and this was based on the repression
and exploitation of the working class: but this view
led them to see the union emphasis on wage demands and
conditions of work, as a weakness which reflected a
revival of the old economism. Here they differed
sharply from the Communist Workers’ Party who saw the
unions as Party/State organisms which were instruments
of state capitalist discipline and exploitation. If
there was agreement by the Workers’ Truth that the
unions were organs that defended the ‘interests of
production, i.e. state capital’ it led to
diametrically opposed conclusions to the CWG. The CWG
denied that the unions were simply reformist or that
they defended the immediate interests of the workers,
they were not simply non-revolutionary, but
counter-revolutionary . The CWG did not therefore look
to the unions to reform themselves, nor equate the
workers struggles for immediate and limited gains with
defensive trade unionism. Far from being a movement
which expressed economism and a retreat, the strikes
and immediate struggles were the only basis for a
revival of the proletariat and its communist
minorities. For the CWG this meant a revival of the
workers’ soviets and factory committees in conscious
opposition to the unions. The Workers’ Truth
differences were more profound when it came to the
question of what state capitalism meant in the context
of the Russian economy. Ironically, they shared with
Lenin a belief in its historically progressive
features in opposition to the analysis of the various
left communist fractions and groups speaking of the
October Revolution eliminating ‘all barriers in the
path of economic development’ not by inaugurating a
world wide proletarian revolution against capitalism
as the left communists defended but in a purely
Russian and national framework which saw ‘the
successful revolution and the civil war’ opening
‘broad perspectives ... of vapid transformation into a
country of progressive capitalism.’ No wonder
Miasnikov saw the Workers’ Truth as abandoning
Bolshevik internationalism for a Menshevik/
nationalist framework, and the proletarian struggle
against all reactionary, stagist conceptions by
blessing the newly emerging state capitalist economy
with a progressive role. While recognising the fusion
of the party/state apparatus was transforming it into
an agent of capitalism and calling for workers to
resist exploitation the Workers’ Truth were to remain
fundamentally undermined by a fatalism, produced by
the defeat of the working class which it saw as
‘incapable of playing any influential role’ and having
‘now been thrown back almost a decade.’ Thus it
logically saw its work as the long term work of
creating propaganda circles and awaiting a future
resurgence of the working class: unfortunately their
recognition that the workers were defeated did not
prevent them from falling into a contradictory
immediatism which supposed they could ‘politicise’ the
strikes of 1922-23. The Workers’ Truth, unlike the
Democratic Centralist and Communist Workers’ Groups
were unable to maintain the work of a communist
faction and were completely crushed by the first waves
of the counter-revolutionary terror in 1923 although
isolated ex-Workers’ Truth members are mentioned in
the Bulletins of the Left Opposition they had no
organisation after 1923 and Miasnikov writing for the
CWG in 1924 stated that by then the Workers’ Truth had
nothing in common with them, and that they were
‘attempting to wipe out everything that was communist
in the revolution of October 1917’ and were therefore
completely Menshevist. Unable to break with Bogdanov’s
contradictory views which led them to see the
bourgeois counter-revolution as leading to a
progressive development of capitalism in Russia, the
Workers’ Truth remained isolated both nationally and
internationally. This view shares with Menshevism the
vision that the revolution was premature. In their
instinctive defence of the workers they were too
radical for the Bolshevik right and centre, or for the
conservative Mensheviks; in their analysis of October
1917 and its subsequent evolution they alienated the
communist left. Thus this largely anonymous
collectivity was on the basis of its opposition to the
NEP, and its positions of state capitalism and the
party, as well as its defence of the workers’
immediate struggles as a left communist group. But it
shared with the KAPD of Berlin a tendency to
immediatism and a rejection of the defensive struggles
as inadequate, and a theory of the offensive. In their
economic views they also prefigured the Council
Communists in favouring working collectively rather
than a centralised work as a fraction. In fact it
remained a marginal and ephemeral grouping compared to
the Democratic Centralists and the Communist Workers’
Group who expressed the organisational and political
continuity of the left communist fraction of the RCP
as it developed inside and later outside and against
the Party/State apparatus. THE COMMUNIST WORKERS’
GROUP The main focus of this study of the history of
the Communist Workers Group is based primarily on
translations of its documents that appeared in various
papers of the international left communist groups
which emerged in the 1920s and 1930s. Its thesis is
that the CWG was in political and organisational
continuity with the left communist fraction of the of
the RSDLP(B) and an integral part of the international
communist left. In order to demystify the history of
this group it is necessary to criticise the approaches
of other historians who have, consciously or
unconsciously, mystified and falsified this history
where it has not been ignored or overlooked. Even the
most accessible and sympathetic accounts by the
leading expert on Russian anarchism, the libertarian
historian Paul Avrich (‘Bolshevik Opposition to Lenin:
G.T. Miasnikov and the Workers Group’, The Russian
Review vo1.43 1984, pp. l-29)1 and the libertarian
Marxist Roberto Sinigaglia (Mjasnikov et Rivoluzione
Russa - Edizioni Jaca Books, Milano 1973), have
focused primarily on the personality of Miasnikov and
make little reference to the organised activity of the
group which is assumed to have disappeared as an
organised force in the mid 1920s. The more commonly
accessible accounts of the origins of the CWG begin
with its relations with the Workers’ Opposition, R.V.
Daniels, the influential author of The Conscience of
the Revolution: Communist Opposition in Soviet Russia,
pp160-161, writes ‘backed by a small groups of other
former Workers’ Oppositionists, Miasnikov issued early
in 1923 a lengthy manifesto in the name of ‘The
Workers’ Groups of the Russian Communist Party’. The
Programme was largely that of the Workers’
Opposition.’ Isaac Deutscher appears to confirm this
‘The Workers; Opposition had lain low and was breaking
up. Its splinter groups, however, had to some extent
been involved in the strike agitation, which was
spontaneous in the main. The most important of these
was the Workers’ Group…’. Similarly Robert Sakwa
reiterates that the CWG was ‘inspired by the Workers’
Opposition’ and a splinter group. However, both
Schapiro (p.306, footnote 33), and Avrich (ibid. p.6)
confirm that Miasnikov had never been a member of the
Workers’ Opposition and this view was shared by one of
its leaders, A.G. Shliapnikov. While it is true that
several of the leading members of the CWG had been
members of the Workers’ Opposition, a complete list of
known members of the CWG shows many who were left
communist in 1918 or members of the Democratic
Centralist Fraction. This continuity is down played in
order to emphasise the apparent organic links with the
Workers’ Opposition. If the left communist groups won
over elements of the more militant left wing of the
Workers’ Opposition it was a result of their
opposition to the centrist and vacillating leadership
of the Workers’ Opposition which was entrenched in the
union apparatus and particularly its growing
bureaucracy. Just as the Ignatov group was polarised,
with the left wing joining the Democratic Centralists
and the right wing majority joining the Workers’
Opposition, so the latter group was polarised under
the influence of the left communists of the CWP and
the CWG as well as the independent left communist
nuclei that emerged in the period 1921-23. While the
leadership of the Workers’ Opposition moved to
accommodate itself to the increasingly monolithic
party/state apparatus many of its rank and file
militants sided with those workers and peasants who
fought to defend their immediate interests against the
growing demands of state-capitalism and
counter-revolution. It was this response to the
growing political and economic crisis that led
elements to break from its political framework of
loyal opposition and increasingly muted criticism to
join groups like the CWG and other left communist
groupings especially in Moscow and the industrial
centres of the Urals and the Ukraine which had been
bastions of the communist left in 1918. The one
genuine splinter group from the Worker’ Opposition,
Panushkin’s Workers’ and Peasants’ Party, was another
short-lived reaction to the NEP, which organised in
Moscow and called one demonstration before being
crushed by the GPU: even here it showed the influence
of Miasnikov’s views on Kronstadt and the need for
peasant unions. Given this context and the political
position of both the Workers’ Opposition and the CWG,
it shows R.V. Daniels view of their relationship is
totally false and at odds with the explicit positions
of the CWG defended over the 15 years of their
existence. Far from being ‘inspired’ by this Workers’
Opposition, from the outset they called on the rank
and file to break with it organisationally and
politically, rejecting any possibility of the Workers’
Opposition as a whole making a positive evolution. The
CWG had initially a dual orientation which indicates
the uniquely difficult circumstances in which it
operated. It was both acting as a clandestine fraction
within the RCP(B) and the organs of the workers state
and from the outset acting as the nucleus of a new
workers’ party. Its Bolshevik origins made it immune
to any relations with the Mensheviks or Social
Revolutionaries, nor did it heed the temptation to
adopt positions which put into question the
proletarian nature of the October revolution in
Russia. It was for this reason the CWG was to reject
the Workers’ Truth as ‘basically Menshevik’ despite
its apparent leftism, and later break with the KAI
which rejected any united front with the Third
International in the mid 1920s. Contrary to the
mythology of the Left Opposition in Russia, including
Trotsky himself, the left communists of the CWG were
not sectarian. In fact they continued to work inside
the Party until expulsion, deportation, mass arrests
and imprisonment and torture made this virtually
impossible. Before the banning of factions the left
communists had worked on common issues with the
Workers’ Opposition and the Democratic Centralists and
it was to the left-wing of these groups that they
appealed as well as to sincere elements in the
Workers’ Truth to form a new party, based on a new
programme. In this they went beyond the strategy of
loyal opposition which was eventually to split the
Democratic Centralists, and was to remain the strategy
of the Bolshevik-Leninist/ Left Opposition. Thus their
strategy was fundamentally based on the impossibility
of reforming or recapturing the RCP(B) as a whole,
while recognising that the Party and the workers’
organs under its central were areas in which the CWG
should intervene. This strategy was outlined in an
article in Socialisticsky Vestnik, July 6th 1924,
which states that ‘members of the workers’ group can
be: 1) members of the RCP(B), 2) expelled from the
RCP(B) for political reasons, 3) those not belonging
to any party who are advised to join the RCP(B).’ It
was this attitude, forged by years of clandestine work
for the Bolshevik fraction inside Czarist Russia, that
enabled the CWG to evolve inside Russia and survive
despite the waves of repression that smashed groups
like the Workers’ Truth, Workers’ and Peasants’ Party
and the Workers Opposition. Most secondary accounts
simply assume, or act as though, this was the fate of
the CWG and that it also disappeared as an organised
force in 1924. Even the lengthy accounts of Sinigaglia
and Avrich simply become an account of Miasnikov’s
personal exile as though the group ceased to exist.
Yet in some respects the most startling achievements
of this group were in its final years and for this
history the primary sources are translations of their
documents which appeared in small left communist
journals, untouched by any of the authors previously
referred to. This work was based on the fundamental
documents written in the mid 1920s and it is a
testimony to the political clarity and organisational
strength of this group that it was to maintain itself
as an organisation until 1938 when its militants were
all finally executed in the purges. The group was
able, almost until the end, to maintain links with its
militants abroad firstly in Berlin, and later in
Paris, where Miasnikov worked. Initially the CWG was
one of the strongest of the left communist nuclei -
‘the most audacious’, E.H. Carr; ‘the most important’,
I. Deutscher; ‘The most interesting’, A. Kollontai. It
was not their numbers which threatened the party,
however, but their willingness to intervene in the
workers’ strikes and their potential to give a
political lead to elements inside and outside the
Party and organise them. The nucleus of the CWG,
consisted of experienced and influential
worker-Bolsheviks, implanted in areas where the ideas
of the left communists were well known since 1918.
These were also the areas where the proletariat was
most concentrated and combative, even in the harsh
conditions of 1923-24. Certainly these elements did
not directly provoke the strikes which emerged as a
spontaneous reaction to the growing economic and
political crisis, but they were prepared to defend the
strikers and give a political perspective for those
prepared to fight the NEP whether inside or outside
the Party. The CWG produced clandestine leaflets,
manifestos and a regular press, as well as circulating
literature inside the Party. A network existed for
this purpose which was able to smuggle literature in
and out of Russia and into the camps. As late as 1930
the CWG was producing a regular paper, The Road to
Power, in Moscow (Source, L’Ouvrier Communiste, no. 6,
Jan 1930). In March 1923 the first nucleus of the CWG
was formed in Moscow consisting of 3 workers, C.
Miasnikov, N.V. Kuznetsov and P.B. Moiseev. They
constituted the Provisional Central Organisational
Bureau of the CWG. In February these three had
collectively begun to produce and distribute the
hectographed manifesto of the Workers’ Group of the
RCP(B) which was circulated in Russia and abroad and
aimed to be an intervention into the 12th Party
Congress planned in April. The Manifesto was based on
two earlier works of Miasnikov but also went beyond
them and again demonstrates the continuity of this
document with the left communist fraction of 1918.
This centre was to become the official central organ
of the CWG in Russia, and of the CWP later. The impact
of this document, which was circulated at the 12th
Party Congress can be judged from the negative and
positive responses within the working class and the
Party. It is difficult to assess objectively the
various claims made about the membership of the CWG.
Numerically Avrich (ibid. p.20) states that
Kuznetsov’s estimate of 3,000 members in Moscow, and
19,000 throughout the country, is a ‘wild
exaggeration’ (citing Sorin, ibid. 115-117) but not
why this should be so. He says that ‘by summer the
group had some 300 members in Moscow, where it was
centred, as well as a sprinkling of adherents in other
cities - many were old Bolsheviks, and all, or nearly
all were workers’. (Sinigaglia, ibid. p.59, gives 200
in Moscow). Even if these figures are correct, given
the high level of political commitment required by the
CWG and the existence of other left groups and
tendencies, this would still reflect a strong
political presence in Moscow. There were only 1655
Bolsheviks at the beginning of 1917. But other
evidence suggests a higher figure of perhaps 1,000
throughout Russia and a much wider influence than has
normally been given to this group. In Moscow the
group’s most active members, apart from those on the
Bureau, were I. Makh - who replaced A. Moiseev on the
central organ, S.I.N. Tuinov, V.P. Demidov, Renzina,
I.M. Korov, G.V. Shokhanov, A.I. Medvednev (not to be
confused with S. R. Medvedev, leader of the Workers’
Opposition), Porestnatov, Trofinov, Luchin, C.R.
Duchkin. On the 5th June the group convened a
Conference in Moscow which elected a Moscow Bureau of
8 members with Makh as the delegate an the Central
Bureau. Miasnikov had already been arrested in May and
Kuznetsow had taken over as spokesman for the group.
The group continued its work towards the Party and
particularly the leaders of those centrist formations
which were on the brink of liquidation, giving the
rank and file the chance to judge the worth of
opposition leaders like Lutinov, Kollontai and Ignatov
who, while ‘sympathising’ with the ultra left, did
nothing in practice to endanger their own positions.
They wished to restrict criticism to internal Party
debate, a condition which would lead to silence
eventually. Others contacted, like Riazanov, similarly
refused to break Party discipline and defend left
communists from GPU repression. Having worked with the
Workers Opposition over the Appeal of the 22, this was
to prove a watershed for that tendency who retreated
and eventually formally recanted its positions. The
CWG had won over its left wing and soon abandoned any
further attempts at working with this current.] The
Conference also elected a secretariat of 4 which may
account for Avrich’s conflicting sources. And
Kuznatsov reports that a 4 person bureau was elected
for youth work. At this time the group was only
planning a journal. However, it did have a printing
press in Moscow. Initially the official RCP had
responded cautiously. Having nullified the left
factions inside the Party, it hoped to be able to
similarly intimidate others by the expulsion and
repression of individuals. Miasnikov was arrested on
May 25th, a month after the 12th Party Congress, and
it was this Congress that had branded the CWC as
counter-revolutionary and hence illegal. The Party was
not yet reduced to a purely capitalist instrument and
so Kossior of the Democratic Centralists and Trotsky
were able to speak sympathetically of the mistakes of
the Party and the difficulties which drove the
comrades into ultra-left errors. The Party was still
prepared to engage (in private) in a political debate
with its opponents whether through the form of Sorin’s
relatively objective pamphlet on the left communists,
which the Party circulated internally. Trotsky went
along with labelling, the CWG as objectively
counter-revolutionary and anti-Party, while engaging
in private correspondence with Democratic Centralists
and Miasnikovites. Even Bukharin tried, in person, to
persuade Miasnikov to recant to no avail. With the
growth of strikes in August and September the RCP(B)
moved against the group as a whole. They made their
move when they became aware of the CWG’s growing
agitation, and its preparations to call a one day
general strike and a mass demonstration, in
commemoration of the Bloody Sunday march of 190,5,
with Lenin’s portrait heading the march. The Central
Committee produced a resolution branding the CWG as
anti-Communist and anti-Soviet and ordered the GPU to
suppress it. Thus in September 28 members of the CWG
were arrested. Five, including Kuznetsov had already
been expelled and 9 more were expelled including
Moiseev, Tuinov, Berzina, Demidov, Kotov and
Shokhanov. The remaining 14 were reprimanded. With
this and the re-arrest of Miasnikov, who had been
promised immunity by Zinoviev and Kretinsky, the
Soviet ambassador in Berlin, in the fall of 1923
Avrich (ibid. F. 24) concludes that in Jan 1924 when
Lenin died ‘the Workers’ Group had been silenced. It
was the last dissident movement in the Party to be
liquidated while Lenin was still alive… smashed with
the blessing of all the top Soviet leaders.’
Sinigaglia and others appear to concur, but this was
not the case. Most commentators agree that the RCP(B)
had good reason to fear the influences of the group
like the CWG in conditions of growing inflation,
unemployment and a strike wave, which they were
attempting to politicise. What is significant is that
they overlook the evidence that the CWG carried out
work in the Red Army and found an echo for their
positions, a factor which was a tangible threat
evoking uneasy memories of 1917. The CWG, which was
opposed to the united front tactic of the Third
International, was to propose a united front with the
RCP(B) rank and file and its left wing, but with the
growing impossibility of any fractional work inside
the RCP it became an open party, the CWG, probably
regrouping with the original CWP nucleus who were
influenced by the KAPD. This led the group to deepen
its critique of the unions and eventually abandon any
work inside these state capitalist organs. From the
outset the CWG had been highly critical of these
organs, favouring the factory committees and workers’
soviets as organs to defend workers’ interests and
express a revival of workers’ democracy. ‘This is the
Workers’ Group’s assessment of the unions (taken from
correspondence intercepted by the police): ‘The silent
army of the dominant group in the RCP’; ‘A blind army
in the hands of the bureaucrats’; ‘A bureaucratic
appendage of the Politburo’. (Translated from
Sinigaglia, pp.64-65). Similarly the communist
workers’ Party adopted an anti-parliamentary position
close to that of the KAPD and the Italian Left. thus
they were open to the discussions of the communist
left with whom they maintained links via a bureau in
exile, under the direction of a Rumanian militant,
Kate Rumanova, and others. This bureau helped with
printing, sending material into Russia and publicising
the work of the CWP of Russia abroad. This work was
moved to Paris when Miasnikov arrived there in October
1930. The group in Russia was able to publish a
regular bulletin form which most of the following was
translated. It gives some picture, however partial, of
the group’s continued activity: ‘In Moscow Oct 1924
the GPU arrested a group of Red Army soldiers who had
the support of some officers, at the Spashi Barracks.
They were accused of discussing with the CWG about the
resolution of the Party banning the group and its
activities in repressing the CWG publication and
banning its militants from Moscow… ‘On Nov 7th 1924
the left communists did organise a demonstration in
Moscow protesting against the suppression of their
views. Not only the CWG members but also the non-party
members were arrested by the GPU for the crime of
sympathising with the communist left… ‘On December 8th
1924 the Moscow CWG issued a leaflet publicising the
arrest of 11 of its group in the Urals (Perm) who had
gone on hunger strike . They demanded to be told the
reasons for their arrest and a public trial… ‘On
December 27th 1924 banished members of the CWG were
escorted under armed guard of the GPU on a train into
internal exile in the Northern woods of Russia. (At
Tschardynsk)… ‘ Also that month the GPU confiscated a
second printing press organised clandestinely by the
CWG… ‘In December further unrest was reported in the
army. The GPU are reported to have broken a
counter-revolutionary conspiracy, arrested a
clandestine organisation of communists in the Red Army
who called the NEP the New Exploitation of the
Proletariat and called for a struggle for that it was
supposedly the Third International to work to
undermine capitalist armies in just this manner. The
next day in response to the GPU’s actions a part of
the battalion stationed in the Kremlin declared their
dissatisfaction with the leaders politics and declared
their solidarity with the CWG. For this they were sent
to Smolensk. The bulletin also talks of a wave of
repression in the Ukraine where the entire membership
of the central bureau of the CWP in the Ukraine was
arrested. While precise details are not available, it
is clear that the group managed to exist in an
organised form, issuing appeals, leaflets and
manifestos until 1929, when it still had a clandestine
press which was being produced in Moscow. Its
militants were scattered throughout Russia with many
in exile, deported to the isolators and labour camps,
or on the run from the GPU. In exile, whether in
Berlin or France, in 1930 this network was sustained
by correspondence and occasional bulletins. Their work
was published in England by the Workers’ Dreadnought
and the Commune and in Germany by the press of the
KAI/KAPD and others; but the best source of
information on their activity in the early 1930s is
the journal L’Ouvrier Communiste, produced by
ex-Bordigists and KAPD elements with whom Miasnikov
collaborated in exile in France. These documents also
find a partial corroboration in the Bulletins of the
Left Opposition and the writings of Trotsky where the
CWG are ridiculed as marginal, sectarian
ultra-leftists and called Miasnikovists. But events
were to give the scattered nuclei of the CWG a chance
to have an influence on the discussion in the
communist left wing of the RCP. The growing political
and economic crisis, as well as Hitler’s rise to
power, and the impotence of both the left and united
opposition to counter the growing Stalinist
counter-revolution, was compounded by the number of
capitulations in the opposition, both from the
Bolshevik Leninists and the Democratic Centralists. In
the case of the latter this produced a radicalisation
of a large left wing minority known as the
‘irreconcilables’. The Democratic Centralists, for 10
years, ‘had dithered’ (Ciliga), ‘now capitulation to
Lenin’s ultimatum, now supporting the Trotskyists in
their struggle with Stalin. Its orientation ... proved
to he sterile. The Five Year Plan shook the group to
ifs foundations. The majority, like the majority of
the Trotskyists, capitulated’ and justified this by
saying that from the moment when the NEP and the
bourgeoisie were liquidated, socialism was being
built. Again we can see a counter-reaction from a
section of the Democratic Centralists around Timotei
Sapronov who continued to reflect that section of the
group that had its origins in the original Left
Communist fraction of 1918. Ciliga shows how this
group, which was essentially reconstituted on a new
basis (The Manifesto of the 15) was constantly winning
over militants from the irreconcilable wing of the
Bolshevik Leninists, and eventually it was to win a
majority in Vorkuta. At the same time Miasnikov shows
that the CWG had opened a discussion with this group,
recognising that its new platform, which spoke of
Stalinist counter-revolution and Thermidor,
represented a qualitative evolution and a break with
the Democratic Centralist orientation of the past
which was relatively uncritical of Lenin. This again
confirms that the CWG were correct not to jump to the
sectarian conclusion that the RCP(B) as a whole was
counter-revolutionary, even when it rejected any
possibility of its reform. The Workers’ Group’s
orientation enabled it to win over both the Sapronov
groups and the majority of the left ‘irreconcilables’,
as well as some remnants of both the Workers’
Opposition and the Workers’ Truth into a Federation of
left communist groups. The aim of this organisation
was to co-ordinate the activities of its militants and
to promote a discussion on the perspectives both
internationally and nationally for the proletariat.
The CWG saw this as a step towards the refounding of a
CWP of Russia on a broader basis. However, the
Democratic Centralists and ex-Trotskyists were by no
means homogenous. Older Democratic Centralists were
less critical of Bolshevism, though some were more
than willing to form a new party Others (a minority)
wanted to call for a 4th International. The CWG
militants Zankov and Tuinov were hesitant on this
point because they had already experienced the
problems caused by the premature formation of the
Communist Workers’ International (KAI 4th
International). However, the CWG did work for the
formation of Communist Parties in the ‘Soviet’ Union,
and were therefore not totally homogenous on this
point. However they were clear on the
counter-revolutionary nature of the Russian state, and
the state capitalist nature of the economy. Ante
Ciliga’s account tends to focus on the positions of
individuals, and he fails to realise the CWG; was the
main force behind a regroupment which went beyond the
confines of Vorkuta: where 20-25 comrades were united.
And that the Group of 15 were no longer Democratic
Centralists but a new group, but this is
understandable given the conditions in which the group
operated. In August 1928 a similar regroupment had
taken place as a result of a conference in Moscow in
which a representative of the Group of 15, the Bureau
of the CWG and some escaped ex-Workers’ Oppositionists
had created a bureau which issued a joint appeal for
the formation of a Communist Workers’ Party in Russia.
The discussions at Vorkuta may have reflected a
parallel development or a direct response to this
initiative: the evidence is not clear. Ciliga dates
this as occurring in 1933, so it is possible there is
no direct connection given the time lag. Initially, as
its name implies, the Communist Workers’ Group
considered that it was a fraction of the RCP(B) and it
worked to regroup revolutionaries on the basis of its
programme whether through work inside the Party, and
the trade unions, co-operatives, as well as the
Soviets or outside these organs, which were by this
time tied to the state. They supported workers’
strikes and demonstrations. In this latter respect
they broke with Soviet legality and the loyal
opposition strategy of the Democratic Centralists who
worked solely within the Party, and the more right
wing so called left Opposition which was beginning to
emerge. However the CWG, from the start, were not
sectarian, they called on elements from the Workers’
oppositely and the Workers’ Truth to break with these
organisations to form an authentic Communist Party in
Russia and in this policy they were successful. From
the outset they had won over elements from the left
wing of the Workers’ Opposition and the Democratic
Centralists as well as elements from the older left
communist fraction of 1918. It is also probable that
they absorbed those elements in the Communist Workers’
Party of Russia to become a unified group that
supported the KAI in Russia. The CWG was prepared to
work with the Third International in a united front
against the bourgeoisie, which for them included its
left wing, Social Democracy. Unlike the Democratic
Centralists and the Bolshevik Leninist Left Opposition
they did not believe in reforming the RCP or the Third
International; even if they were still workers’
organisations they were increasingly becoming
obstacles to any world revolution. Thus they were to
regard the Left Opposition, and the Unified Opposition
as centrist, or centre right block with no possibility
of reversing the growing counter-revolution internally
and globally. Despite being banned and declared an
anti-Party, counter-revolutionary grouping, despite
deportation, imprisonment, beatings and torture the
CWG was to survive as a clandestine group in many
areas of the USSR with an influence beyond its small
size. It was this capacity to survive due to the
political and organisational abilities of its members
who comprised many veteran Bolsheviks who had learned
to engage in clandestinity before the War.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Jean Barrot and Denis Authier, La Gauche
Communiste en Allemagne, 1918-1921, Payot, Paris 1976.
Especially chapters 16 and 17 E. H. Carr, The
Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923, vols. 1-3 : The
Interregnum 1923-1924; Socialism in One Country
1924-1926, vols. 1-3 Foundations of a Planned Economy,
1926-1929 vols. 1-2 W.J. Chase, Workers, Society, and
the Soviet State Labor and Life in Moscow, 1918-1929,
University of Illinois Press 1990 Ante Ciliga, The
Russian Enigma, Ink Links PB 1979 Barbara Evans
Clements: Bolshevik Feminist Life of A. Kollontai,
Indiana University Press 1979 R.V. Daniels: The
Conscience of the Revolution -Communist Opposition in
Soviet Russia, Clarion Books 1969 Isaac Deutscher, The
Prophet Armed: Trotsky 1919-1921: The Prophet Unarmed:
Trotsky 1921-1924, Oxford University Press 1976 Eduard
A. Dune, Notes of a Red Guard, University of Illinois
Press 1993 R.C. Elwood, Inessa Armand, Cambridge
University Press 1992 Israel Getzler Kronstadt
1917-1921. The Fate of a Soviet Democracy, Cambridge
University Press 1983 Ronald Kowalski, The Bolshevik
Party in Conflict: The Left Communist Opposition of
1918, Macmillan 1991 Lenin, Collected Works Progress
Publishers, Moscow, (translated from the 4th and 5th
Russian editions). G.M. Maximoff The Guillotine at
Work: vol. l The Leninist Counter-revolution,
Cienfuegos Press 1979 Mary McAuley, Bread and Justice:
State and Society in Petrograd 1917-1922, Clarendon
Press 1991 Christian Rakovsky, Selected Writings on
Opposition in the USSR 1923-30, Alison and Busby 1981
T.H. Rigby, Lenin’s Government -Sovnarkom 1917-1922,
Cambridge University Press 1979 Guy Sabatier, Traité
de Brest Litovsk 1918. Coup d’Arret à la Révolution,
Spartacus Pamphlet 1977 Richard Sakwa, Soviet
Communists in Power, Macmillan 1990 L. Schapiro, The
Origins of the Communist Autocracy Political
Opposition in the Soviet State. First Phase 1927-1922,
Macmillan 2nd edition 1977 J. Sié, Sur la Période de
Transition: les Positions des Gauches de la IIIe
Internationale, especially chapter 4 pages 62-82 on
the Communist Left in Russia; Photocopy produced
commercially, First edition Leiden, Holland 1986
Carmen Siranni, Workers Control and Socialist
Democracy: the Soviet Experience, Verso 1982 S.A.
Smith, Red Petrograd - Revolution in the Factories
1917-1918, Cambridge University Press 1983 Z.A.
Sochor, Revolution and Culture: Bogdanov-Lenin
Controversy, Cornell University Press 1988 Leon
Trotsky, The Challenge of the Left Opposition, vol. 1
1923-5, vol. 2 1926-2; vol. 3 1928-29 Pathfinder 1982
C.D. Ward, The Communist Left in Russia, 1918-30;
Unpublished manuscript, no date. Documentary materials
on the Communist Left Cahiers Leon Trotsky: 7/8 Numéro
Spécial. Les Trotskistes en Union Sovietique II ‘The
Left Opposition in 1923’, David S. Law in Critique
no.2, Glasgow, no date. Economics of the Left
Opposition - special issue of Critique no 13, Glasgow
1981 Workers Group Roberto Sinigaglia, Mjasnikov e la
Rivoluzione Russa Jaca Book On the Current Situation:
Theses of the Left Communists (1918), Critique
pamphlet 1977, Glasgow. ‘Two Documents of the
Communist Left in Russia’, in Workers Voice no.14,
1974, a left communist bi-monthly from Liverpool.
Documents of the 1923 Opposition, New Park 1975 The
Platform of the Joint Opposition 1927; New Park 1973
David Ross, Revolution and Counter Revolution in
Russia, a mid 1970s pamphlet of the Revolutionary
Workers Group of Chicago. The Workers Opposition -
Alexandra Kollontai, Solidarity pamphlet no.7, no
date. From Workers Dreadnought, London 1922, July
29th, p.6: ‘From Russian Workers, the Group of
Revolutionary Left-wing Communists (Communist Workers
Party) of Russia on the Failure of the United Front’,
and an account of the Delegate from Russia to the 5th
Special Congress of the KAPD. ‘Left-Wing Imprisonment
in Russia: with an Appeal to the Communist
International and its Sympathising Proletariat from
Various International groups of the Left Communist and
an Additional Appeal by the CWG of Russia’ (ibid. vol.
XI no 11, May 31st 1924). The Manifesto of the
Communist Workers Group of Russia was published in the
Workers Dreadnought throughout January and February of
1924. Also large sections were published in Communist,
produced by Guy Aldred. The most accurate available
source is the French translation by the group
Invariance which is based on the KAPD edition, with
their critical notes. Also texts from Sapronov,
Miasnikov and others in French published by the group
L’Ouvrier Communiste in their journal of the same name
in the 1930s. Including the Manifesto of the 25,
Sapronov’s group that broke from the Democratic
Centralists. Paul Avrich, ‘Bolshevik Opposition to
Lenin: G.T. Miasnikov and the Workers’ Group’ The
Russian Review vol. 43, Jan 1984, pp. 1-28. The Appeal
of the Workers’ Truth Group (1922) translated in G.P.
Maximoff and R. V. Daniels documentary history. The
Commune, (Glasgow) May 1923-April/May 1929, with the
following articles: ‘Persecution in Russia’, June
1924; ‘Communism Suppressed in ‘Soviet’ Russia’,
November 1925, subtitled: ‘Anti-Parliamentarians
Imprisoned without Trial for Propagating Communism
against Compromise’, referring to Miasnikov and the
Communist Workers’ Groups; ‘The Persecution of
Miasnikov’, November 1925, with excerpts from his
prison statement; ‘Halt this Counter-revolution’,
February 1926, with excerpts from Miasnikov’s prison
manifesto; ‘Letter from Käte Rumanova of the
Miasnikov Group in Berlin’, December 1926; ‘The
German Movement’, July/August 2927, letters from
AAUD-E and Cardozo of the KAI with Aldred’s comment on
a manifesto issued in support of Miasnikov;
‘Anti-Parliamentarianism Abroad’, Sept/Oct 1927, with
details on groups in Germany, Holland and Russia
derived from correspondence, papers etc.; ‘Shall
Labor Liquidate Socialism or Capitalism’, November
1927, an article on the Russian Communist Workers’
Groups with further excerpts from Miasnikov’s
manifesto; ‘The Struggle in Russia’, December 1927, a
letter from Käte Rumanova with excerpts from the
Appeal of Russian Workers’ Opposition. * * *

by Tibor Szamuely
Saturday Oct 18th, 2003 3:17 PM
Sorry about the repeated word in the title!