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Lenin speaks on the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party - 1903

 

Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

July 17 (30)-August 10 (23), 1903

Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 6, pages 467-509.

 

 

 

 

1.

Draft Resolution on Demonstrations

 

 

TheCongress considers the organisation of public demonstrations against the autocracy a highly important means of political education of the working masses. In this connection, the Congress recommends, firstly, that special efforts should be made to utilise for demonstrations such instances and circumstances when some atrocious act by the tsarist government has aroused particularly widespread indignation among the people; secondly, that efforts should be most of all directed to securing the participation of broad masses of the working class in the demonstrations and the best possible organisation of the latter, in regard to preparation for them, their efficient handling, and guidance of demonstrators’ resistance to the troops and police; thirdly, that preparations for armed demonstrations should be begun, strictly observing instructions of the Central Committee in this respect.

TheCongress also recommends that all committees and other organisations of the Party should thoroughly discuss the question of preparations for an armed uprising and should make every effort to convince the working masses of the necessity and inevitability of an uprising. The practical measures which can already be taken in preparing for an up rising are entrusted by the Congress exclusively and entirely to the Central Committee.

 

 

 

2.

Draft Resolution on the Place of the Bund in the Party

 

Taking into consideration that the fullest and closest unity of the militant proletariat is absolutely essential both for the purpose of the earliest achievement of its ultimate aim and in the interests of an unswerving political and economic struggle in conditions of the existing society;

that,in particular, complete unity between the Jewish and non-Jewish proletariat is moreover especially necessary for a successful struggle against anti-Semitism, this despicable attempt of the government and the exploiting classes to exacerbate racial particularism and national enmity;

thatthe complete amalgamation of the Social-Democratic organisations of the Jewish and non-Jewish proletariat can in no respect or manner restrict the independence of our Jewish comrades in conducting propaganda and agitation in one language or another, in publishing literature adapted to the needs of a given local or national movement, or in advancing such slogans for agitation and the direct political struggle that would be an application and development of the general and fundamental principles of the Social-Democratic programme regarding full equality and full freedom of language, national culture, etc., etc.;

theCongress emphatically repudiates federation as the organisational principle of a Russian party and endorses the organisational principle adopted as the basis of the Rules of 1898, i.e., autonomy for the national Social-Democratic organisations in matters concerning... [Here the manuscript breaks off.–Ed.]

 

 

 

 

3

. Draft Resolution on the Attitude Towards the Student Youth

 

The Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party welcomes the growing revolutionary initiative among the student youth and calls upon all organisations of the Party to give them every possible assistance in their efforts to organise. It recommends that all student groups and study circles should, firstly, make it the prime object of their activities to imbue their members with an integral and consistent socialist world outlook and give them a thorough acquaintance with Marxism, on the one hand, and with Russian Narodism and West-European opportunism, on the other, these being the principal currents among the conflicting advanced trends of today; secondly, that they should beware of those false friends of the youth who divert them from a thorough revolutionary training through recourse to empty revolutionary or idealistic phrase-mongering and philistine complaints about the harm and uselessness of sharp polemics between the revolutionary and the opposition movements, for as a matter of fact these false friends are only spreading an unprincipled and unserious attitude towards revolutionary work; thirdly, that they should endeavour, when undertaking practical activities, to establish prior contact with the Social-Democratic organisations, so as to have the benefit of their advice and, as far as possible, to avoid serious mistakes at the very outset of their work.

 

 

 

 

4.

Draft Resolution on Party Literature

 

The Congress recognises the absolute and urgent necessity for a wide production of popular Social-Democratic literature for all sections of the population, and for the working-class masses in particular.

The Congress considers it necessary in the first place to compile a series of pamphlets (each ranging from one to five signatures in size) dealing with each (theoretical and practical) point of our Party programme and giving a detailed exposition and explanation of that point; and then a number of leaflets (ranging from one to eight printed pages each) on the same subjects to be scattered or distributed in town and country. The Congress instructs the editorial board of the Central Organ to immediately take all steps to fulfil this task.

Asregards publication of a special popular newspaper for the people or for the broad sections of the working class, the Congress, though it does not reject this project in principle, considers it untimely at the immediate moment.

 

 

 

 

 

5.

Drafts of Minor Resolutions

 

The Economic Struggle

The Congress deems it absolutely essential in all cases to support and develop in every way the economic struggle of the workers and their trade unions (principally the all-Russian unions) and from the very outset to ensure that the economic struggle and the trade-union movement in Russia have a Social-Democratic character.

May Day

The Congress approves the celebration of the First of May, which has already become a tradition, and draws the attention of all Party organisations to the necessity of selecting the time and ways most suitable under existing conditions for celebrating this international holiday of the proletariat’s struggle for freedom.

International Congress

The Congress appoints Comrade Plekhanov to represent the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in the Secretariat of the Socialist International (in amendment of the Paris decision to appoint Plekhanov and Krichevsky joint representatives).

TheCongress instructs the editorial board of the Central Organ and the Central Committee to arrange, by agreement between them (or by decision of the Party Council), for the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party to be represented at the International Socialist Congress in Amsterdam in 1904.

 

Terrorism

The Congress decisively rejects terrorism, i.e., the system of individual political assassinations, as being a method of political struggle which is most inexpedient at the present time, diverting the best forces from the urgent and imperatively necessary work of organisation and agitation, destroying contact between the revolutionaries and the masses of the revolutionary classes of the population, and spreading both among the revolutionaries themselves and the population in general utterly destorted ideas of the aims and methods of struggle against the autocracy.

Propaganda

The Congress calls the attention of all Party members to the importance of improving the theoretical knowledge of our propagandists and of forming groups of travelling lecturers so as to co-ordinate propaganda throughout the country.

Distribution of Forces

The Congress recommends to all comrades returning to Russia from abroad or from exile to their place of activity, especially if they do not have well-established contacts with any committee, that they should endeavour to give timely notice to the Central Committee or its agents so, as to enable the Central Committee properly and promptly to distribute revolutionary forces throughout Russia.

 

 

 

6.

Draft Resolution on the Publication of a Periodical for Members of Religious Sects

 

Bearing in mind that in many of its aspects the sectarian movement in Russia represents one of the democratic trends in Russia, the Second Congress calls the attention of all Party members to the necessity of working among members of sects so as to bring them under Social-Democratic influence. By way of experiment, the Congress permits Comrade V. Bonch-Bruyevich to publish, under the supervision of the editorial board of the Central Organ, a popular news paper entitled Among Sectarians, and instructs the Central Committee and the editorial board of the Central Organ to take the measures necessary to ensure successful publication of this newspaper and to create all the conditions for its proper functioning.

 

 

 

 

7.

Draft Rules of the R.S.D.L.P.

[1]

 

1.

A Party member is one who accepts the Party’s programme and supports the Party both financially and by personal participation In one of its organisations.

 

2.The Party Congress is the supreme organ of the Party. Party congresses are summoned (if possible, not less than once in two years) by the Central Committee. The Central Committee is obliged to summon a congress at the demand of Party committees, or unions of committees, which jointly had one-third of the votes at the preceding congress, or at the demand of the Party Council. A congress is valid given representation of over one half of all (properly constituted) committees of the Party existing at the moment of the congress.

 

3.

The following are entitled to representation at a congress: a) the Central Committee; b) the editorial board of the Central Organ; c) all local committees which do not belong to special unions; d) all unions of committees recognised by the Party; and e) the League Abroad. Each of the organisations enumerated has two deciding votes at a congress. New committees and unions of committees are entitled to be represented at a congress only if they have been endorsed not less than six months before the congress.

 

4.

The Party Congress appoints the Central Committee, the editorial board of the Central Organ, and the Party Council.

 

5.

The Central Committee co-ordinates and directs all the practical activities of the Party and administers the   Central Party Treasury, as well as all the general technical establishments of the Party. It examines conflicts that may arise between various organisations and institutions of the Party or within them.

 

6.

The editorial board of the Central Organ gives ideological guidance to the Party by editing the Party’s Central Organ, the scientific organ, and pamphlets.

 

7.

 

The Party Council is appointed by the congress from among members of the editorial board of the Central Organ and the Central Committee, and consists of five persons. The Council settles disputes and differences arising between the editorial board of the Central Organ and the Central Committee on questions of general organisation and tactics. The Party Council appoints a new Central Committee in the event of the arrest of all the members of the old committee.

 

8.

New committees and unions of committees are endorsed by the Central Committee. Each committee, union, organisation, or group recognised by the Party has charge of affairs relating specifically and exclusively to its particular locality, district or national movement, or to the special function assigned to it, being bound, however, to obey the decisions of the Central Committee and the Central Organ and to make contributions to the Central Party Treasury in amounts determined by the Central Committee.

 

9.

Any Party member and any person who has any contact with the Party is entitled to demand that any statements made by him should be transmitted in the original to the Central Committee, the Central Organ, or the Party Congress.

 

10.

It is the duty of every Party organisation to afford both the Central Committee and the editorial board of the Central Organ every opportunity of becoming acquainted with all its activities and its entire composition.

 

11.

All Party organisations and collegiate bodies decide their affairs by a simple majority vote and have the right of co-optation. A two-thirds majority vote is required for co-optation or expulsion of members.

 

12.

It is the purpose of the League of Russian Revolutionary Social-Democracy Abroad to carry on propaganda and agitation abroad and also to assist the movement in Russia.   The League enjoys all the rights of committees, with the sole exception that it renders assistance to the movement in Russia only through persons or groups specially appointed for the purpose by the Central Committee.

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Notes

[1] Draft Rules of the R.S.D.L.P. proposed by Lenin at the Second Congress of the Party have not been preserved. The present volume gives the original draft Rules included by the Protocol Committee of the Second Congress in the appendices to the Full Text of the Minutes of the Second Regular Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, published in Geneva in 1904. The Protocol Committee of the Second Party Congress erroneously termed Lenin’s original draft Rules, which it included in appendix XI to the Full Text of the Minutes, the draft of the organisational rules of the R.S.D.L.P. put forward by Lenin at the Congress (see V. I: Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, item G, The Party Rules. Comrade Martov’s Draft).


 

 

 

 

8.

Draft Resolutions Not Submitted to the Congress

 

Withdrawal of the Bund

The Congress considers the refusal of the Bund delegates to submit to the decision adopted by the majority of the Congress as the Bund’s withdrawal from the R.S.D.L.P.

The Congress deeply regrets this step, which, it is convinced, is a major political mistake ...[One word here is indecipherable.—Ed.] on the part of the leaders of the “Jewish Workers’ Union,” a mistake which must inevitably injure the interests of the Jewish proletariat and working-class movement. The Congress considers that the arguments cited by the Bund delegates in justification of their step amount in practice to entirely unfounded apprehensions and suspicion that the Social-Democratic convictions of the Russian Social-Democrats are insincere and inconsistent; in respect of theory they are the result of the unfortunate penetration of nationalism into the Social-Democratic movement of the Bund.

The Congress voices its desire for, and firm conviction of, the need for complete and closest unity of the Jewish and Russian working-class movement in Russia, unity not only in principle but also in organisation, and resolves to take all measures in order to acquaint the Jewish proletariat in detail both with this resolution of the Congress and with the general attitude of the Russian Social-Democrats towards every national movement.

 

Separate Groups

The Congress expresses its regret at the separate existence of such groups of Social-Democrats as the Borba, Zhizn and Volya. Their separateness cannot but, on the one hand, lead to disorganisation impermissible in the Party, and on the other hand, to regrettable departures from Social-Democratic views and Social-Democratic tactics towards so-called socialist-revolutionism (as exemplified by the Volya group and partially also by the Borba in its agrarian programme), or towards Christian socialism and anarchism (Zhizn). The Congress would like to see the above-mentioned groups, and in general all groups which identify themselves with Social-Democracy, join the ranks of united and organised Russian Social-Democracy. The Congress instructs the Central Committee to collect the necessary information and to adopt a final decision on the place of the above-mentioned and other separate groups within the Party, or on the attitude of the Party towards these groups.

The Army

The Congress calls the attention of all Party organisations to the importance of Social-Democratic propaganda and agitation in the army, and recommends that all efforts should be made for the speediest strengthening and proper channelling of all the existing contacts among the officers and other ranks. The Congress considers it desirable to form special groups of Social-Democrats serving in the army, in order that these groups should occupy a definite position in the local committees (as branches of the committees), or in the central organisation (as institutions formed directly by the Central Committee and subordinated directly to it).

The Peasantry

The Congress calls the special attention of all Party members to the importance of developing and strengthening work among the peasantry. It is necessary to acquaint the peasantry (and, especially, the rural proletariat) with the Social-Democratic programme in its entirety, and to explain the significance of the agrarian programme as the first and   immediate demands under the existing system. It is necessary to get class-conscious peasants and intellectuals in the countryside to form solidly united groups of Social-Democrats, which would maintain constant contact with the Party committees. It is necessary to counter the propaganda conducted among the peasantry by the Socialist-Revolutionaries, propaganda which spreads unprincipledness and reactionary Narodnik prejudices.

 

 

 

 

 

9

. First Speech on the Agenda of the Congress

July 18 (31)

 

I should like to make a remark. It would be wrong, it is claimed, to make the question of the Bund the first item on the agenda, since the reports should be the first item, the programme the second, and the Bund the third. The arguments in favour of this order will not stand criticism. They amount to the presumption that the Party as a whole has not yet reached agreement on the programme, and that it is possible that precisely on this question we may part company. I am surprised at that. It is true that we have not yet adopted a programme, but the surmise that a rupture may take place over the programme is conjectural in the highest degree. No such tendencies have been discernible in the Party, at least as far as its literature is concerned, which of late has given the fullest reflection of Party opinion. There are both formal and moral reasons for making the question of the Bund the first item on the agenda. Formally, we stand by the Manifesto of 1898, but the Bund has expressed a desire for a radical change in our Party’s organisation. Morally, many other organisations have expressed their disagreement with the Bund over this question; that has caused sharp differences leading even to polemics. The Congress therefore cannot begin harmonious work until these differences have been removed. As to the delegates’ reports, it is possible that they may not be heard in pleno at all. I therefore second the agenda in the order approved by the Organising Committee.

 

 

 

 

10.

Second Speech on the Agenda of the Congress

July 18 (31)

 

Now that the Congress has decided what shall be the first item on our agenda, the third point is the only moot point with regard to the rest of the agenda. This item reads: “Creation of the Central Organ of the Party, or endorsement of such.” Some comrades consider that this item should be shifted farther down, because, firstly, one cannot speak of the Central Organ until a decision has been taken on the organisation of the Party in general and of its central body in particular, and so on; and, secondly, because many committees have already expressed their views on the substance of this question. I consider the second argument wrong, for declarations by the committees are not binding on the Congress and, formally speaking, have no deciding vote at the Congress. The other objection is wrong because, before settling details of organisation, the Party Rules, and the like, we must first definitely decide on the trend of Russian Social-Democracy. In fact, it is this question that has divided us so long, and the mere adoption of a programme cannot remove all the differences dividing us on this issue; that can be done only by deciding, immediately after the question of the programme, what kind of Central Organ of the Party we should form anew, or what old one we should endorse with certain modifications.

That is why I second the agenda in the order endorsed by the Organising Committee.

 

 

 

 

11.

Speech on the Actions of the Organising Committee

July 18 (31)

 

I cannot agree with Comrade Yegorov. It is he who has in fringed the standing orders of the Congress and it is he who is against the clause on imperative mandates. I do not doubt the existence of the Organising Committee, just as I do not doubt the existence of the Iskra organisation, which also has its own organisation and its own Rules. But as soon as the standing orders of the Congress were announced, the Iskra organisation informed its delegates that they have full freedom of action at the Congress. Just imagine our position, as members of the Credentials Committee of the Congress, who yesterday heard two members of the Organising Committee, Comrades Stein and Pavlovich, and today are hearing an entirely new proposal. There are experienced comrades here who have attended many international congresses. These comrades could tell you what a storm of indignation has always been aroused when people say one thing at commit tees and another on the floor of the Congress.

 

 

 

 

12.

Speech on the Attendance of the Polish Social-Democrats at the Congress

July 18

 

Inits report, the committee holds that the Polish comrades’ presence at the Congress is desirable, but only in a deliberative capacity. In my opinion that is quite right, and it seems to me quite reasonable to begin the resolution of the committee with a statement to this effect. The presence of the Letts and the Lithuanians would also be highly desirable, but, unfortunately, that is not feasible. The Polish comrades could have announced their conditions of affiliation at any time, but they did not do so. The Organising Commit tee was therefore right in exercising restraint towards them. Nor is the question clarified by the letter from the Polish Social-Democrats which was read here. In view of this, I move that the Polish comrades be invited as guests.

 

 

 

 

 

3.

Speech on the Place of the Bund in the R.S.D.L.P.

July 20 (August 2)

 

 

I shall first deal with Hofman’s[1] speech and his expression “a compact majority.” Comrade Hofman uses these words by way of reproach. In my opinion we should be proud, not ashamed, of the fact that there is a compact majority at the Congress. And we shall be prouder still if our whole Party proves to be a compact, a highly compact, 90 per cent, majority. (Applause.) The majority were right in making the position of the Bund in the Party the first item on the agenda, and the Bundists at once proved this by submitting their so-called Rules, but in essence proposing federation. Once there are members in the Party who propose federation and others who reject it, there could be no other course open but to make the question of the Bund the first item on the agenda. It is no use forcing your favours on anybody, and the internal affairs of the Party cannot be discussed until we have firmly and uncompromisingly settled whether or not we want to march together.

The crux of the issue has not always been presented quite correctly in the debate. The point of the matter is that, in the opinion of many Party members, federation is harmful and runs counter to the principles of Social-Democracy as applied to existing Russian conditions. Federation is harmful because it sanctions segregation and alienation, elevates them to a principle, to a law. Complete alienation does in deed prevail among us, and we ought not to sanction it, or cover it with a fig-leaf, but combat it and resolutely acknowledge and proclaim the necessity of firmly and unswervingly advancing towards the closest unity. That is why we reject   federation in principle, in limine [On the threshold.—Ed.] (as the Latin phrase has it); that is why we reject all obligatory partitions that serve to divide us. As it is, there will always be different groupings in the Party, groupings of comrades who do not think quite alike on questions of programme, tactics or organisation; but let there be only one division into groups throughout the Party, that is, let all like-minded members join in a single group, instead of groups first being formed in one section of the Party, separately from the groups in another section of the Party, and then having a union not of groups holding different views or different shades of opinion, but of sections of the Party, each containing different groups. I repeat, we recognise no obligatory partitions, and that is why we reject federation in principle.

I shall now pass to the question of autonomy. Comrade Lieber has said that federation means centralism, while autonomy means decentralism. Can it be that Comrade Lieber takes the Congress members for six-year-old children, who may be regaled with such sophistries? Is it not clear that centralism demands the absence of all partitions between the central body and even the most remote and out-of-the-way sections of the Party? Our central body will be given the absolute right to communicate directly with every Party member. The Bundists would only laugh if someone would propose to them a form of “centralism” within the Bund, under which its Central Committee could not communicate with all the Kovno groups and comrades otherwise than through the Kovno Committee. Incidentally, as regards the committees: Comrade Lieber has exclaimed with feeling, “What is the good of talking about the Bund’s autonomy if it is to be an organisation subordinated to one central body? After all, you would not grant autonomy to some Tula Committee!” You are mistaken, Comrade Lieber; we will certainly and most decidedly grant autonomy to “some” Tula Committee, too, autonomy in the sense of freedom from petty interference by the central body, although the duty of obeying that body will, of course, remain. I have taken the words “petty interference” from the Bund leaflet, “Autonomy or Federation?” The Bund has advanced this freedom from   “petty interference” as a condition, as a demand to the Party. The mere fact that it advances such ridiculous demands shows how muddled the Bund is on the question at issue. Does the Bund really think that the Party would tolerate the existence of a central body that indulged in “petty” interference in the affairs of any Party organisation or group? Is this not, in effect, precisely that “organised distrust” which has already been mentioned at this Congress? Such distrust runs through all the proposals and arguments of the Bundists. Is it not, in fact, the duty of our entire Party to fight, for example, for full equality and even for recognition of the right of nations to self-determination? Consequently, if any section of our Party failed in this duty, it would unquestionably be liable to condemnation by virtue of our principles; it would unquestionably be liable to correction on the part of the central institutions of the Party. And if the neglect of that duty were conscious and deliberate, despite full opportunity to carry out that duty, then that would be treachery.

Further. Comrade Lieber has asked us in moving tones how it can be proved that autonomy is able to guarantee to the Jewish workers’ movement that independence which is absolutely essential to it. A strange question, indeed! How can it be proved that one of the several paths suggested is the right one? Tie only way is to try it and see. My reply to Comrade Lieber’s question is:   M a r c h   w i t h   u s,   and we undertake to prove to you in practice that all legitimate demands for independence are gratified in full.

WhenI hear disputes about the place of the Bund, I always recollect the British miners. They are excellently organised, better than any other workers. And because of that they want to thwart the general demand for an 8-hour day put forward by all proletarians.[2] These miners have the same narrow idea of the unity of the proletariat as our Bundists. Let the sad example of the miners serve as a warning to our comrades of the Bund.

 

_____

Notes

[1] Hofman—pseudonym of Bund member V. Kossovsky.

 

[2] This refers to the Northumberland and Durham miners who, in the eighties of the nineteenth century, secured a 7-hour working day for skilled underground workers—through a deal with the coal-owners—but later for a number of years opposed the legal enactment of an 8-hour working day for all workers in Britain.

 

 

 

 

 

14.

Speech on the Party Programme

July 22 (August 4)

 

 

First of all, I must draw attention to the highly characteristic way in which Comrade Lieber confuses a Marshal of the Nobility with a section of the toilers and the exploited. This confusion is a feature of all the debates. Isolated episodes of our controversy are being everywhere confused with the establishment of basic principles. One cannot deny, as Comrade Lieber does, the possibility of even a section (one or another) of the working and exploited population coming over to the side of the proletariat. You will recall that in 1852, referring to the revolt of the French peasants, Marx wrote (in The Eighteenth Brumaire) that the peasantry acts sometimes as a representative of the past and sometimes as a representative of the future; one can appeal not only to the peasant’s prejudice, but to his judgement[1] as well. You will further recall that Marx said the Communards were quite right in declaring the cause of the Commune that of the peasantry as well.[2] I repeat, it cannot be doubt ed that, under certain conditions, it is by no means impossible for one section or another of the working people to come over to the side of the proletariat. The important thing is to define these conditions correctly. And the condition we are speaking of is expressed quite accurately in the words “place themselves at the standpoint of the proletariat.” It is these words that draw a definite line of demarcation between us, Social-Democrats, and all pseudo-socialist trends in general, and the so-called Socialist-Revolutionaries in particular.

 

 

I shall now go over to that disputed passage in my pamphlet, What Is to Be Done?, which gave rise to so much discussion here. After all this discussion, I think that the question has been so clarified that very little remains for me to add. It is obvious that here an episode in the struggle against “economism” has been confused with a discussion of the principles of a major theoretical question (the formation of an ideology). Moreover, this episode has been presented in an absolutely false light.

In support of this last statement, I might refer first of all to Comrades Akimov and Martynov, who spoke here. They made it quite clear that it was indeed an episode in the struggle against “economism” which was at issue here. They expressed views which have already been termed opportunism (and quite rightly so). They actually went so far as to “refute” the theory of impoverishment, to “dispute” the dictatorship of the proletariat, and even to advocate the “Erfüllungstheorie,” as Comrade Akimov called it. To tell the truth, I do not quite know what that means. Perhaps Comrade Akimov meant to say “Aushöhlungstheorie”— the “theory of the hollowing out” of capitalism, that is, one of the most popular and current ideas of the Bernsteinian theory. In his defence of the old mainstays of “economism,” Comrade Akimov even advanced such an incredibly eccentric argument as that the word proletariat does not figure in our programme even once in the nominative case. At most, Comrade Akimov exclaimed, they have the proletariat in the genitive case. And so it appears that the nominative is the most honourable case, whereas the genitive takes second place in the scale of honour. It only remains to convey this idea—through a special commission, perhaps—to Comrade Ryazanov, so as to enable him to supplement his first scientific work on the letters of the alphabet with another treatise on the cases....

As to the direct references to my pamphlet, What Is to Be Done?, it will be quite easy for me to show that they have been wrenched from the context. It is claimed that Lenin says nothing about any conflicting trends, but categorically affirms that the working-class movement invariably “tends” to succumb to bourgeois ideology. Is that so? Have I not said that t.he working-class movement is drawn   towards the bourgeois outlook with the benevolent assistance of the Schulze-Delitzsches and others like them?[See present edition, Vol. 5.—Ed.] And who is meant here by “others like them”? None other than the “economists,” none other than those who, for example, used to say then that bourgeois democracy in Russia is a phantom. Today it is easy to talk so cheaply about bourgeois radicalism and liberalism, when examples of them are to be found right before us. But was that the case previously ?

Lenin takes no account whatever of the fact that the workers, too, have a share in the formation of an ideology. Is that so? Have I not said time and again that the shortage of fully class-conscious workers, worker-leaders, and worker-revolutionaries is, in fact, the greatest deficiency in our movement? Have I not said there that the training of such worker-revolutionaries must be our immediate task? Is there no mention there of the importance of developing a trade-union movement and creating a special trade-union literature? Is not a desperate struggle waged there against every attempt to lower the level of the advanced workers to that of the masses, or of the average workers?[Ibid.—Ed.]

 

To conclude. We all now know that the “economists” have gone to one extreme. To straighten matters out some body had to pull in the other direction—and that is what I have done. I am convinced that Russian Social-Democracy will always vigorously straighten out whatever has been twisted by opportunism of any kind, and that therefore our line of action will always be the straightest and the fittest for action.

 

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Notes

[1] Lenin is referring to Karl Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Chapter VII (see Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, Moscow, 1958, pp. 334-36).

 

[2] Lenin is referring to Karl Marx’s Civil War in France (see Marx and Engels. Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 525).

 

 

 

 

 

15.

Report on the Party Rules

July 29 (August 11)

 

Lenin (the reporter) gives an explanation of the draft Rules submitted by him. The basic idea of the Rules, he says, is that of a division of functions. Hence, the division into two central bodies, for example, is not due to their geographical division (Russia and abroad), but is a logical consequence of a division of functions. It is the function of the Central Committee to exercise practical leadership, that of the Central Organ to exercise ideological leadership. To co-ordinate the activities of these two central bodies, to preclude disunity between them, and, in part, to settle disputes, a Council is needed, which should not at all be purely an institution of arbitration. The paragraphs in the Rules which govern the relations between the Central Committee and the local committees, and define the Central Committee’s competence cannot and should not enumerate all the points within that competence. Such an enumeration is inconvenient and impossible, for it is inconceivable that all possible cases should be foreseen, and, more over, points unprovided for might appear to be outside the competence of the Central Committee. The Central Commit tee itself should be allowed to determine the sphere of its competence, since any local matter may affect the interests of the Party as a whole, and the Central Committee should be in a position to intervene in local affairs, even going against local interests, should such action be in the interests of the Party as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

16.

First Speech in the Discussion on the Agrarian Programme

 

I shall in the first place mention a detail that came up during the debate. Comrade Yegorov expressed regret that there was no report which might have considerably facilitated and directed our whole debate. Since it was I who was suggested as reporter, I shall, in a manner of speaking, have to defend myself for the absence of a report. And I shall say in my defence that I have a report: it is my reply to Comrade X,[See pp. 438-53 of this volume.—Ed.] which, in fact, replies to the most widespread of the objections and misunderstandings aroused by our agrarian programme, and has been distributed to all the Congress delegates. A report is no less a report for having been printed and distributed to the delegates instead of being delivered by word of mouth.

Ishall now pass to the contents of the speeches by those who, unfortunately, have disregarded this particular re port of mine. Comrade Martynov, for example, failed even to take account of the earlier literature on our agrarian programme, when he spoke again and again about redressing a historical injustice, of a needless reversion to forty years back, of the destruction of the feudalism of the sixties, rather than that of today, and so on. In replying to these arguments, I shall have to repeat what I have said before. If we acted   s o l e l y   on the principle of “redressing a historical injustice,” we would be guiding ourselves by nothing but democratic phraseology. But we refer to the survivals   of serf-ownership which exist around us, to present-day realities, to what is today hampering and retarding the proletariat’s struggle for emancipation. We are accused of reverting to the hoary past. This accusation reveals only an ignorance of the most generally known facts regarding the activities of Social-Democrats in all countries. One of the aims they set themselves and work for everywhere is to complete what the bourgeoisie has left unfinished. That is what we are doing. And in order to do so, we have unavoidably to revert to the past; and that is what the Social-Democrats in every country are doing, always reverting to their 1789, or to their 1848. Similarly, the Russian Social-Democrats cannot but revert to their 1861, and must do so all the more energetically and frequently since our so-called peasant “Reform” has achieved so little in the way of democratic changes.

As to Comrade Gorin, he too is guilty of the common error of forgetting the serf bondage that actually exists. Comrade Gorin says that “hope of getting the cut-off lands perforce keeps the small peasant bound to an anti-proletarian ideology.” Actually, however, it is not “hope” that he will get the cut-off lands, but the present cut-off lands themselves that forcibly maintain serf bondage, and there is no way out of this bondage, out of these serf forms of land leasing, except by converting the pseudotenants into free owners.

Lastly,Comrade Yegorov asked the authors of the programme what the programme signified. Is the programme, he asked, a conclusion drawn from our basic conceptions of the economic evolution of Russia, a scientific anticipation of the possible and inevitable result of political changes (in which case Comrade Yegorov might agree with us)? Or is our programme a practical slogan for agitation? In that case we could not beat the record of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and the programme must be regarded as incorrect. I must say that I do not understand the distinction Comrade Yegorov draws. If our programme did not meet the first condition, it would be incorrect and we could not accept it. If, however, the programme is correct, it cannot but furnish a slogan of practical value for purposes of agitation. The contradiction between Comrade Yegorov’s two alternatives is   only a seeming one; it cannot exist in fact, because a correct theoretical decision guarantees enduring success in agitation. And it is for enduring success that we are working, not in the least disconcerted by temporary reverses.

Comrade Lieber likewise repeated objections long ago refuted; he was astonished at the “meagreness” of our programme and demanded “radical reforms” in the agrarian sphere as well. Comrade Lieber has forgotten the difference between the democratic and the socialist parts of the programme: what he has taken for “meagreness” is the absence of anything socialistic in the democratic programme. He has failed to notice that the socialist part of our agrarian programme is to be found elsewhere, namely in the section on the workers, which also applies to agriculture. Only Socialist-Revolutionaries, with their characteristic lack of principle, are capable of confusing, as they constantly do, democratic and socialistic demands. But the party of the proletariat is in duty bound to separate and distinguish between them in the strictest fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

17.

Second Speech in the Discussion on the Agrarian Programme

August 1 (14)

 

Before passing to details, I want to object to certain general statements, and in the first place to those of Comrade Martynov. Comrade Martynov says that it is not the feudalism of the past we must combat, but the feudalism that exists today. That is true, but let me remind you of my reply to X. The latter referred to Saratov Gubernia. I have consulted the data for that gubernia and found that the cut-off lands there amount to 600,000 dessiatines, i.e., two-fifths of the total land held by the peasants under serfdom, while the rented land amounts to 900.000 dessiatines. Consequently, two-thirds of the rented land consists of cut-off lands. That means that we are out to restore two-thirds of the laud held in tenure. Hence it is not a ghost we are fighting, but a real evil. We would arrive at the state of affairs which exists in Ireland, where the present peasant reform was required, which is turning the tenant farmers into small owners. The analogy between Ireland and Russia was already pointed out by the Narodniks in their economic literature. Comrade Gorin says that the measure I propose is not the best; that it would be better to turn the peasants into free tenant farmers. But he is mistaken in thinking that it would be better to turn semi-free tenants into free tenants. We are not inventing a transition, but are proposing one that would bring the land tenure laws into conformity with the actually existing conditions of land tenure, thereby abolishing the bondage relations that exist today. Martynov says that it is not our demands   that are meagre, but the principle from which they are derived. But that is like the arguments the. Socialist-Revolutionaries bring against us. We are pursuing two qualitatively different aims in the countryside: firstly, we want to achieve freedom for bourgeois relations; secondly, we want to conduct the proletarian struggle. Despite the Socialist-Revolutionaries’ prejudices, it is our task to show the peasants where the revolutionary proletarian task of the peasant proletariat begins. Comrade Kostrov’s objections are therefore groundless. We are told that the peas ants will not be satisfied with our programme and will go further. But we are not afraid of that; we have our socialist programme for that eventuality, and consequently are not afraid even of a redistribution of the land, which terrifies Comrades Makhov and Kostrov[1] so much.

Iconclude. Comrade Yegorov has called our reliance on the peasants chimerical. No! We are not carried away; we are sufficiently sceptical, and that is why we say to the peasant proletarian: “Now you are fighting by the side of the peasant bourgeoisie, but you must always be prepared to fight against that same bourgeoisie, and you will wage that fight together with the urban industrial proletarians.”

In1852 Marx said that the peasants had judgement as well as prejudices. And now, when we point out to the poor peasants the cause of their poverty, we may count on success. We believe that, since the Social-Democrats have now taken up the struggle for the interests of the peasants, we shall in future be reckoning with the fact that the peasant masses will get used to looking upon Social-Democracy as the defender of their interests.

 

 

 

18.

Third Speech in the Discussion on the Agrarian Programme

August 1 (14)

 

Thereis nothing for Comrade Lieber to be surprised at. He demands of us a single general criterion, but there is no such criterion. Sometimes one demand has to be made, at other times another. We have no stereotyped standards. Lieber claims that our demand for the abolition of serf-ownership coincides with the liberals’ demands. But the liberals do not say how this demand is to be carried out. We, for our part, say that it must be carried out not by the bureaucracy, but by the oppressed classes, and that means the way of revolution. Therein lies the fundamental difference between us and the liberals, whose talk about changes and reforms “pollutes” the minds of the people. If we were to set forth in detail all the demands for the abo lition of serf-ownership, we should fill whole volumes. That is why we mention only the more important forms and varieties of serfdom, and leave it to our committees in the various localities to draw up and advance their particular demands in development of the general programme. Trotsky’s remark to the effect that we cannot concern ourselves with local demands is wrong, for the question of the khizani and the temporarily bound peasants[1] is not only a local one. Moreover, it is known in agrarian literature.

 

_____

Notes

[1] Khizani —the name given to the landless peasants of Georgia, who in the distant past had been settled on the lands of the landlords on specially agreed terms. The khizani were not formally considered serfs, enjoyed personal liberty, but remained perpetual tenants without any rights. The 1861 Peasant Reform did not apply to the   khizani, who continued to be completely dependent on the landlords. These began to increase the khizani’s services and confiscate the land they held. The khizani system was abolished after the Great October Socialist Revolution.

Temporarily bound peasants was the name given to those former serf peasants who were still compelled to carry out certain duties (payment of quit-rent or performance of corvée service) for the use of their land even after the abolition of serfdom in 1861 and until they started paying redemption money to the landlord for their allotments. From the moment the redemption contract was concluded, the peasants ceased to be “temporarily bound” and joined the category of “peasant property-owners.”

On Lenin’s proposal, the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. added to the agrarian section of the Party programme the demand for “transfer to the ownership of the peasants in the Caucasus of lands which they are using as temporarily bound peasants, khizani, and so forth.”

 

 

 

 

 

19.

Fourth Speech in the Discussion on the Agrarian Programme

August 1 (14)

 

 

Comrade Lieber proposes deletion of the clause on the cut-off lands, on the sole grounds that he does not like the peasant committees. That is strange. Since we have agreed on the fundamental question—that the cut-off lands keep the peasants in bondage—the formation of committees is only a secondary matter, and to reject the whole clause on account of that would be illogical. It is strange, too, to hear the question as to how we are to influence the peasant committees. I hope that the Social-Democrats will then find it easier to arrange congresses, and will there decide how to act in each particular case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

20.

First Speech in the Discussion on the Party Rules

August 2 (15)

 

Lenin delivers a brief speech in support of his formulation, emphasising in particular its stimulating effect: “Organise!” It should not be imagined that Party organisations must consist solely of professional revolutionaries. We need the most diverse organisations of all types, ranks and shades, beginning with extremely limited and secret and ending with very broad, free, lose Organisationen. Its endorsement by the Central Committee is an essential condition for a Party organisation.

 

 

 

 

21.

Second Speech in the Discussion on the Party Rules

 

 

 

I should like first of all to make two remarks on minor points. First, on the subject of Axelrod’s kind proposal (I am not speaking ironically) to “strike a bargain.” I would willingly respond to this appeal, for I by no means consider our difference so vital as to be a matter of life or death to the Party. We shall certainly not perish because of an unfortunate clause in the Rules! But since it has come to the point of choosing between two formulations, I simply cannot abandon my firm conviction that Martov’s formulation is worse than the original draft and may, in certain circumstances, cause no little harm to the Party. The second remark concerns Comrade Brucker.[1] It is only natural for Comrade Brucker, who wishes to apply the elective principle everywhere, to have accepted my formulation, the only one that defines at all exactly the concept of a Party member. I therefore fail to understand Comrade Martov’s delight at Comrade Brucker’s agreement with me. Is it possible that in actual fact Comrade Martov makes a point of guiding himself by the opposite of what Brucker says, without examining his motives and arguments?

To come to the main subject, I must say that Comrade Trotsky has completely misunderstood Comrade Plekhanov’s fundamental idea, and his arguments have therefore evaded the gist of the matter. He has spoken of intellectuals and workers, of the class point of view and of the mass movement, but he has failed to notice a basic question: does my formulation narrow or expand the concept of a Party 21. Second Speech in the Discussion on the Party Rules I should like first of all to make two remarks on minor points. First, on the subject of Axelrod’s kind proposal (I am not speaking ironically) to “strike a bargain.” I would willingly respond to this appeal, for I by no means consider our difference so vital as to be a matter of life or death to the Party. We shall certainly not perish because of an unfortunate clause in the Rules! But since it has come to the point of choosing between two formulations, I simply cannot abandon my firm conviction that Martov’s formulation is worse than the original draft and may, in certain circumstances, cause no little harm to the Party. The second remark concerns Comrade Brucker.[1] It is only natural for Comrade Brucker, who wishes to apply the elective principle everywhere, to have accepted my formulation, the only one that defines at all exactly the concept of a Party member. I therefore fail to understand Comrade Martov’s delight at Comrade Brucker’s agreement with me. Is it possible that in actual fact Comrade Martov makes a point of guiding himself by the opposite of what Brucker says, without examining his motives and arguments? To come to the main subject, I must say that Comrade Trotsky has completely misunderstood Comrade Plekhanov’s fundamental idea, and his arguments have therefore evaded the gist of the matter. He has spoken of intellectuals and workers, of the class point of view and of the mass movement, but he has failed to notice a basic question: does my formulation narrow or expand the concept of a Party member? If he had asked himself that question, he would easily have seen that my formulation narrows this concept, while Martov’s expands it, for (to use Martov’s own correct expression) what distinguishes his concept is its “elasticity.” And in the period of Party life that we are now passing through it is just this “elasticity” that undoubtedly opens the door to all elements of confusion, vacillation, and opportunism. To refute this simple and obvious conclusion it has to be proved that there are no such elements; but it has not even occurred to Comrade Trotsky to do that. Nor can that be proved, for everyone knows that such elements exist in plenty, and that they are to be found in the working class too. The need to safeguard the firmness of the Party’s line and the purity of its principles has now become particularly ·urgent, for, with the restoration of its unity, the Party will recruit into its ranks a great many unstable elements, whose number will increase with the growth of the Party. Comrade Trotsky completely misinterpreted the main idea of my book, What Is to Be Done?, when he spoke about the Party not being a conspiratorial organisation (many others too raised this objection). He forgot that in my book I propose a number of various types of organisations, from the most secret and most exclusive to comparatively broad and “loose” (lose) organisations.[See present edition, Vol. 5.—Ed.] He forgot that the Party must be only the vanguard, the leader of the vast masses of the working class, the whole (or nearly the whole) of which works “under the control and direction” of the Party organisations, but the whole of which does not and should not belong to a “party.” Now let us see what conclusions Comrade Trotsky arrives at in consequence of his fundamental mistake. He has told us here that if rank after rank of workers were arrested, and all the workers were to declare that they did not belong to the Party, our Party would be a strange one indeed! Is it not the other way round? Is it not Comrade Trotsky’s argument that is strange? He regards as something sad that which a revolutionary with any experience at all would only rejoice at. If hundreds and thousands of workers who were arrested for taking part in strikes and demonstrations did not prove to be members of Party organisations, it would only show that we have good organisations, and that we. are fulfilling our task of keeping a more or less limited circle of leaders secret and of drawing the broadest possible masses into the movement. The root of the mistake made by those who stand for Martov’s formulation is that they not only ignore one of the main evils of our Party life, but even sanctify it. The evil is that, at a time when political discontent is almost universal, when conditions require our work to be carried on in complete secrecy, and when most of our activities have to be confined to limited, secret circles and even to private meetings, it is extremely difficult, almost impossible in fact, for us to distinguish those who only talk from those who do the work. There is hardly another country in the world where the jumbling of these two categories is as common and as productive of such boundless confusion and harm as in Russia. We are suffering sorely from this evil not only among the intelligentsia, but also among the working class, and Comrade Martov’s formulation sanctions it. This formulation necessarily tends to make Party members of all and sundry; Comrade Martov himself was forced to admit this, although with a reservation: “Yes, if you like,” he said. But that is precisely what we do not like! And that is precisely why we are so adamant in our opposition to Martov’s formulation. It would be better if ten who do work should not call themselves Party members (real workers don’t hunt after titles!) than that one who only talks should have the right and opportunity to be a Party member. That is a principle which seems to me irrefutable, and which compels me to fight against Martov. The objection has been presented to me that we confer no rights on Party members, and that therefore there can be no abuses. This kind of objection is quite untenable: if we do not state what particular rights a Party member enjoys, please note that neither do we say that there is to be any restriction on the rights of Party members. That is point one. Secondly—and this is the main point—irrespective even of rights, we must not forget that every Party member is responsible for the Party, and that the Party is responsible for every one of its members. In view of the conditions in which we have to carry on our political activities, in view of the present rudimentary state of real political organisation, it would be simply dangerous and harmful to grant the right of membership to people who are not members of a Party organisation and to make the Party responsible for people who do not belong to an organisation (perhaps deliberately). Comrade Martov was horrified at the idea that one who is not a member of a Party organisation will have no right to declare in court that he is a Party member, however energetically he may have done his work. That does not frighten me. On the contrary, serious harm would be done if a person who calls himself a Party member, even though he does not belong to any Party organisation, were to behave unworthily in court. It would be impossible to deny that such a person was working under the control and direction of the organisation—impossible because of the very vagueness of the term. Actually—and there can be no doubt about this—the words “under the control and direction” will mean that there will be neither control nor direction. The Central Committee will never be able to exercise real control over all who do the work but do not belong to organisations. It is our task to place actual control in the hands of the Central Committee. It is our task to safeguard the firmness, consistency, and purity of our Party. We must strive to raise the title and the significance of a Party member higher, higher and still higher—and I therefore oppose Martov’s formulation. 21. Second Speech in the Discussion on the Party Rules I should like first of all to make two remarks on minor points. First, on the subject of Axelrod’s kind proposal (I am not speaking ironically) to “strike a bargain.” I would willingly respond to this appeal, for I by no means consider our difference so vital as to be a matter of life or death to the Party. We shall certainly not perish because of an unfortunate clause in the Rules! But since it has come to the point of choosing between two formulations, I simply cannot abandon my firm conviction that Martov’s formulation is worse than the original draft and may, in certain circumstances, cause no little harm to the Party. The second remark concerns Comrade Brucker.[1] It is only natural for Comrade Brucker, who wishes to apply the elective principle everywhere, to have accepted my formulation, the only one that defines at all exactly the concept of a Party member. I therefore fail to understand Comrade Martov’s delight at Comrade Brucker’s agreement with me. Is it possible that in actual fact Comrade Martov makes a point of guiding himself by the opposite of what Brucker says, without examining his motives and arguments? To come to the main subject, I must say that Comrade Trotsky has completely misunderstood Comrade Plekhanov’s fundamental idea, and his arguments have therefore evaded the gist of the matter. He has spoken of intellectuals and workers, of the class point of view and of the mass movement, but he has failed to notice a basic question: does my formulation narrow or expand the concept of a Party member? If he had asked himself that question, he would easily have seen that my formulation narrows this concept, while Martov’s expands it, for (to use Martov’s own correct expression) what distinguishes his concept is its “elasticity.” And in the period of Party life that we are now passing through it is just this “elasticity” that undoubtedly opens the door to all elements of confusion, vacillation, and opportunism. To refute this simple and obvious conclusion it has to be proved that there are no such elements; but it has not even occurred to Comrade Trotsky to do that. Nor can that be proved, for everyone knows that such elements exist in plenty, and that they are to be found in the working class too. The need to safeguard the firmness of the Party’s line and the purity of its principles has now become particularly ·urgent, for, with the restoration of its unity, the Party will recruit into its ranks a great many unstable elements, whose number will increase with the growth of the Party. Comrade Trotsky completely misinterpreted the main idea of my book, What Is to Be Done?, when he spoke about the Party not being a conspiratorial organisation (many others too raised this objection). He forgot that in my book I propose a number of various types of organisations, from the most secret and most exclusive to comparatively broad and “loose” (lose) organisations.[See present edition, Vol. 5.—Ed.] He forgot that the Party must be only the vanguard, the leader of the vast masses of the working class, the whole (or nearly the whole) of which works “under the control and direction” of the Party organisations, but the whole of which does not and should not belong to a “party.” Now let us see what conclusions Comrade Trotsky arrives at in consequence of his fundamental mistake. He has told us here that if rank after rank of workers were arrested, and all the workers were to declare that they did not belong to the Party, our Party would be a strange one indeed! Is it not the other way round? Is it not Comrade Trotsky’s argument that is strange? He regards as something sad that which a revolutionary with any experience at all would only rejoice at. If hundreds and thousands of workers who were arrested for taking part in strikes and demonstrations did not prove to be members of Party organisations, it would only show that we have good organisations, and that we. are fulfilling our task of keeping a more or less limited circle of leaders secret and of drawing the broadest possible masses into the movement. The root of the mistake made by those who stand for Martov’s formulation is that they not only ignore one of the main evils of our Party life, but even sanctify it. The evil is that, at a time when political discontent is almost universal, when conditions require our work to be carried on in complete secrecy, and when most of our activities have to be confined to limited, secret circles and even to private meetings, it is extremely difficult, almost impossible in fact, for us to distinguish those who only talk from those who do the work. There is hardly another country in the world where the jumbling of these two categories is as common and as productive of such boundless confusion and harm as in Russia. We are suffering sorely from this evil not only among the intelligentsia, but also among the working class, and Comrade Martov’s formulation sanctions it. This formulation necessarily tends to make Party members of all and sundry; Comrade Martov himself was forced to admit this, although with a reservation: “Yes, if you like,” he said. But that is precisely what we do not like! And that is precisely why we are so adamant in our opposition to Martov’s formulation. It would be better if ten who do work should not call themselves Party members (real workers don’t hunt after titles!) than that one who only talks should have the right and opportunity to be a Party member. That is a principle which seems to me irrefutable, and which compels me to fight against Martov. The objection has been presented to me that we confer no rights on Party members, and that therefore there can be no abuses. This kind of objection is quite untenable: if we do not state what particular rights a Party member enjoys, please note that neither do we say that there is to be any restriction on the rights of Party members. That is point one. Secondly—and this is the main point—irrespective even of rights, we must not forget that every Party member is responsible for the Party, and that the Party is responsible for every one of its members. In view of the conditions in which we have to carry on our political activities, in view of the present rudimentary state of real political organisation, it would be simply dangerous and harmful to grant the right of membership to people who are not members of a Party organisation and to make the Party responsible for people who do not belong to an organisation (perhaps deliberately). Comrade Martov was horrified at the idea that one who is not a member of a Party organisation will have no right to declare in court that he is a Party member, however energetically he may have done his work. That does not frighten me. On the contrary, serious harm would be done if a person who calls himself a Party member, even though he does not belong to any Party organisation, were to behave unworthily in court. It would be impossible to deny that such a person was working under the control and direction of the organisation—impossible because of the very vagueness of the term. Actually—and there can be no doubt about this—the words “under the control and direction” will mean that there will be neither control nor direction. The Central Committee will never be able to exercise real control over all who do the work but do not belong to organisations. It is our task to place actual control in the hands of the Central Committee. It is our task to safeguard the firmness, consistency, and purity of our Party. We must strive to raise the title and the significance of a Party member higher, higher and still higher—and I therefore oppose Martov’s formulation.

The root of the mistake made by those who stand for Martov’s formulation is that they not only ignore one of the main evils of our Party life, but even sanctify it. The evil is that, at a time when political discontent is almost universal, when conditions require our work to be carried on in complete secrecy, and when most of our activities have to be confined to limited, secret circles and even to private meetings, it is extremely difficult, almost impossible in fact, for us to distinguish those who only talk from those who do the work. There is hardly another country in the world where the jumbling of these two categories is as common and as productive of such boundless confusion and harm as in Russia. We are suffering sorely from this evil not only among the intelligentsia, but also among the working class, and Comrade Martov’s formulation sanctions it. This formulation necessarily tends to make Party members of all and sundry; Comrade Martov himself was forced to admit this, although with a reservation: “Yes, if you like,” he said. But that is precisely what we do not like! And that is precisely why we are so adamant in our opposition to Martov’s formulation. It would be better if ten who do work should not call themselves Party members (real workers don’t hunt after titles!) than that one who only talks should have the right and opportunity to be a Party member. That is a principle which seems to me irrefutable, and which compels me to fight against Martov. The objection has been presented to me that we confer no rights on Party members, and that therefore there can be no abuses. This kind of objection is quite untenable: if we do not state what particular rights a Party member enjoys, please note that neither do we say that there is to be any restriction on the rights of Party members. That is point one. Secondly—and this is the main point—irrespective even of rights, we must not forget that every Party member is responsible for the Party, and that the Party is responsible for every one of its members. In view of the conditions in 21. Second Speech in the Discussion on the Party Rules I should like first of all to make two remarks on minor points. First, on the subject of Axelrod’s kind proposal (I am not speaking ironically) to “strike a bargain.” I would willingly respond to this appeal, for I by no means consider our difference so vital as to be a matter of life or death to the Party. We shall certainly not perish because of an unfortunate clause in the Rules! But since it has come to the point of choosing between two formulations, I simply cannot abandon my firm conviction that Martov’s formulation is worse than the original draft and may, in certain circumstances, cause no little harm to the Party. The second remark concerns Comrade Brucker.[1] It is only natural for Comrade Brucker, who wishes to apply the elective principle everywhere, to have accepted my formulation, the only one that defines at all exactly the concept of a Party member. I therefore fail to understand Comrade Martov’s delight at Comrade Brucker’s agreement with me. Is it possible that in actual fact Comrade Martov makes a point of guiding himself by the opposite of what Brucker says, without examining his motives and arguments? To come to the main subject, I must say that Comrade Trotsky has completely misunderstood Comrade Plekhanov’s fundamental idea, and his arguments have therefore evaded the gist of the matter. He has spoken of intellectuals and workers, of the class point of view and of the mass movement, but he has failed to notice a basic question: does my formulation narrow or expand the concept of a Party member? If he had asked himself that question, he would easily have seen that my formulation narrows this concept, while Martov’s expands it, for (to use Martov’s own correct expression) what distinguishes his concept is its “elasticity.” And in the period of Party life that we are now passing through it is just this “elasticity” that undoubtedly opens the door to all elements of confusion, vacillation, and opportunism. To refute this simple and obvious conclusion it has to be proved that there are no such elements; but it has not even occurred to Comrade Trotsky to do that. Nor can that be proved, for everyone knows that such elements exist in plenty, and that they are to be found in the working class too. The need to safeguard the firmness of the Party’s line and the purity of its principles has now become particularly ·urgent, for, with the restoration of its unity, the Party will recruit into its ranks a great many unstable elements, whose number will increase with the growth of the Party. Comrade Trotsky completely misinterpreted the main idea of my book, What Is to Be Done?, when he spoke about the Party not being a conspiratorial organisation (many others too raised this objection). He forgot that in my book I propose a number of various types of organisations, from the most secret and most exclusive to comparatively broad and “loose” (lose) organisations.[See present edition, Vol. 5.—Ed.] He forgot that the Party must be only the vanguard, the leader of the vast masses of the working class, the whole (or nearly the whole) of which works “under the control and direction” of the Party organisations, but the whole of which does not and should not belong to a “party.” Now let us see what conclusions Comrade Trotsky arrives at in consequence of his fundamental mistake. He has told us here that if rank after rank of workers were arrested, and all the workers were to declare that they did not belong to the Party, our Party would be a strange one indeed! Is it not the other way round? Is it not Comrade Trotsky’s argument that is strange? He regards as something sad that which a revolutionary with any experience at all would only rejoice at. If hundreds and thousands of workers who were arrested for taking part in strikes and demonstrations did not prove to be members of Party organisations, it would only show that we have good organisations, and that we. are fulfilling our task of keeping a more or less limited circle of leaders secret and of drawing the broadest possible masses into the movement. The root of the mistake made by those who stand for Martov’s formulation is that they not only ignore one of the main evils of our Party life, but even sanctify it. The evil is that, at a time when political discontent is almost universal, when conditions require our work to be carried on in complete secrecy, and when most of our activities have to be confined to limited, secret circles and even to private meetings, it is extremely difficult, almost impossible in fact, for us to distinguish those who only talk from those who do the work. There is hardly another country in the world where the jumbling of these two categories is as common and as productive of such boundless confusion and harm as in Russia. We are suffering sorely from this evil not only among the intelligentsia, but also among the working class, and Comrade Martov’s formulation sanctions it. This formulation necessarily tends to make Party members of all and sundry; Comrade Martov himself was forced to admit this, although with a reservation: “Yes, if you like,” he said. But that is precisely what we do not like! And that is precisely why we are so adamant in our opposition to Martov’s formulation. It would be better if ten who do work should not call themselves Party members (real workers don’t hunt after titles!) than that one who only talks should have the right and opportunity to be a Party member. That is a principle which seems to me irrefutable, and which compels me to fight against Martov. The objection has been presented to me that we confer no rights on Party members, and that therefore there can be no abuses. This kind of objection is quite untenable: if we do not state what particular rights a Party member enjoys, please note that neither do we say that there is to be any restriction on the rights of Party members. That is point one. Secondly—and this is the main point—irrespective even of rights, we must not forget that every Party member is responsible for the Party, and that the Party is responsible for every one of its members. In view of the conditions in which we have to carry on our political activities, in view of the present rudimentary state of real political organisation, it would be simply dangerous and harmful to grant the right of membership to people who are not members of a Party organisation and to make the Party responsible for people who do not belong to an organisation (perhaps deliberately). Comrade Martov was horrified at the idea that one who is not a member of a Party organisation will have no right to declare in court that he is a Party member, however energetically he may have done his work. That does not frighten me. On the contrary, serious harm would be done if a person who calls himself a Party member, even though he does not belong to any Party organisation, were to behave unworthily in court. It would be impossible to deny that such a person was working under the control and direction of the organisation—impossible because of the very vagueness of the term. Actually—and there can be no doubt about this—the words “under the control and direction” will mean that there will be neither control nor direction. The Central Committee will never be able to exercise real control over all who do the work but do not belong to organisations. It is our task to place actual control in the hands of the Central Committee. It is our task to safeguard the firmness, consistency, and purity of our Party. We must strive to raise the title and the significance of a Party member higher, higher and still higher—and I therefore oppose Martov’s formulation.

 

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Notes

[1] Brucker—pseudonym of the Menshevik Mrs. Makhnovets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22.

Speech at the Election of the Editorial Board of Iskra

August 7 (20)[1]

 

 

Comrades! Martov’s speech was so strange that I find myself obliged to protest emphatically against his presentation of the question. In the first place, let me remind you that Martov’s protest against the editorial board election itself, his refusal, and that of his colleagues, to work on the editorial board which is to be elected, is in crying contradiction to what we all said (Martov included) when Iskra was recognised as the Party organ. The objection was then presented to us that such recognition was pointless because you cannot endorse a mere title without endorsing the editorial board; and Comrade Martov himself explained to the objectors that this was not true, that it was a definite political trend that was being endorsed, that the composition of the editorial board was not being predetermined in any way, and that the election of the editors would come up later under Point 24[During the Congress it was changed to Point 18 on the agenda.— Ed.] of our Tagesordnung[Agenda.—Ed.] Comrade Martov, therefore, had no right whatever now to speak about the recognition of Iskra being limited. Comrade Martov’s statement that his inclusion in the trio without his old colleagues of the editorial board would cast a slur on his whole political reputation is therefore indicative only of an astounding confusion of political ideas. To adopt this point of view is to deny the right of the Congress to hold new   elections, make new appointments of any kind, and change the composition of its authorised boards. The Organising Committee provides an example of the confusion created by such an approach. We expressed to the Organising Committee the complete confidence and gratitude of the Congress but at the same time we ridiculed the very idea of the Congress having no right to examine the internal relations of the Organising Committee, and rejected every supposition that the old composition of the Organising Committee would be an embarrassment to an “uncomradely” change of this composition and the formation of a new Central Committee of any elements we pleased. I repeat: Comrade Martov’s views on the permissibility of electing part of the old board reflect an extreme confusion of political ideas.

I now come to the question of the “two trios.” Comrade Martov said that this whole plan for “two trios” was the work of one person, of one member of the editorial board (that it was my plan, in fact), and that no one else was responsible for it. I categorically protest against this assertion and declare that it is simply untrue. Let me remind Comrade Martov that several weeks before the Congress I plainly told him and another member of the editorial board that at the Congress I would demand the tree election of the editorial board. I gave up this plan only because Comrade Martov himself suggested to me the more convenient plan of electing “two trios.” I thereupon formulated this plan on paper and sent it first 01 all to Comrade Martov himself, who returned it to me with some corrections—here it is, I have the very copy, with Martov’s corrections in red ink. Many of the comrades later saw this plan dozens of times, all the members of the editorial board saw it too, and no one at any time formally protested against it. I say “formally” because, if I am not mistaken, Comrade Axelrod on one occasion dropped some private remark to the effect that he did not sympathise with the plan. But it is obvious that for a protest the editorial board required something more than a private remark. It was not without reason that, even before the Congress, the editorial board adopted a formal decision to invite a definite seventh person, so that, should it be necessary to make a collective statement at the Congress, a firm decision could be made—which we so often   failed to reach on our board of six. And all the members of the editorial board know that the addition of a seventh permanent member to the board of six was a matter of constant concern to us for a very long time. And so, I repeat, the election of “two trios” was a perfectly natural solution, and one which I incorporated in my plan with the knowledge and consent of Comrade Martov. And on many subsequent occasions, Comrade Martov, together with Comrade Trotsky and others, at a number of private meetings of Iskra supporters, advocated this system of electing “two trios.”

However, in correcting Martov’s statement about the private character of the plan for “two trios,” I have no in tention of denying Martov’s assertion of the “political significance” of the step we took in not endorsing the old editorial board. On the contrary, I fully and unreservedly agree with Comrade Martov that this step is of great political significance—only not the significance which Martov ascribes to it. He said that it was an act in a struggle for influence on the Central Committee in Russia. I go farther than Martov. The whole activity of Iskra as a separate group has hitherto been a struggle for influence; but now it is a matter of something more, namely, the organisational consolidation of this influence, and not only a struggle for it. How profoundly Comrade Martov and I differ politically on this point is shown by the fact that he blames me for this wish to influence the Central Committee, whereas I count it to my credit that I strove and still strive to consolidate this influence by organisational means. It appears that we are even talking in different languages! What would be the point of all our work, of all our efforts, if they ended in the same old struggle for influence, and not in its complete acquisition and consolidation? Yes, Comrade Martov is absolutely right: the step we have taken is undoubtedly a major political step showing that one of the trends now to be observed has been chosen for the future work of our Party. And I am not at all frightened by the dreadful words a “state of siege in the Party,” “emergency laws against particular individuals and groups,” etc. We not only can but we must create a “state of siege” in relation to unstable and vacillating elements, and all our Party   Rules, the whole system of centralism now endorsed by the Congress are nothing but a “state of siege” in respect to the numerous sources of political vagueness. It is special laws, even if they are emergency laws, that are needed as measures against vagueness, and the step taken by the Congress has correctly indicated the political direction to be followed, by having created a firm basis for such Laws and such measures.

 

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Notes

[1] At the thirty-first session of the Second Congress Lenin delivered a speech on the subject of the election of the Iskra editorial board. When the minutes of this session were ratified at the thirty-fifth session of the Congress, a change was made, with Lenin’s consent, in the text of his speech. The beginning of the speech—from the words: “Comrades I Martov’s speech was so strange that I find myself obliged to protest emphatically against his presentation of the question...” and ending with the words "...is therefore indicative only of an astounding confusion of political ideas”—was deleted and replaced by the following:

“Iask the Congress to allow me to reply to Martov.

“ComradeMartov said that the vote in question cast a slur on his political reputation. The election has nothing to do with an insult to a political reputation. (Shouts: ’Wrong! Not true!’ Plekhanov and Lenin protest against recesses. Lenin asks the secretaries to enter in the minutes that Zasulich, Martov, and Trotsky have interrupted him, and he asks that the number of times they have interrupted him should be recorded.)”

Inthe present volume Lenin’s speech is printed in the form in which he wrote it and delivered it at the Congress.

 

 

 

 

23.

Speech on the Attitude Towards the Student Youth

August 10 (23)

 

Itis not only by reactionaries that the expression “false friends” is used; we know from the example of the liberals and Socialist-Revolutionaries that such “false friends” do exist. It is these false friends that are trying to persuade the youth that they have no need to distinguish between different trends. We, on the contrary, consider it the main task to develop an integral revolutionary world outlook, and the practical task for the future is to get the youth, when they are organising themselves, to apply to our committees.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Lenin

ENGLISH