After adopting the Rules, the Congress passed a resolution on district organisations and a number of resolutions on particular Party organisations, and, following the extremely instructive debate on the Yuzhny Rabochy group which I have analysed above, proceeded to discuss the election of the Party’s central institutions.
We already know that the Iskra organisation, from which the entire Congress had expected an authoritative recommendation, had split over this question, for the minority of the organisation wanted to test in free and open combat whether it could not win a majority at the Congress. We also know that a plan was known long before the Congress—and to all the delegates at the Congress itself—for reconstituting the editorial board by the election of two trios, one to the Central Organ and one to the Central Committee. Let us dwell on this plan in greater detail in order to throw light on the Congress debate.
Here is the exact text of my commentary to the draft Tagesordnung of the Congress where this plan was set forth: “The Congress shall elect three persons to the editorial board of the Central Organ and three to the Central Committee. These six persons in conjunction shall, if necessary, co-opt by a two-thirds majority vote additional members to the editorial board of the Central Organ and to the Central Committee and report to this effect to the Congress. After the report has been endorsed by the Congress, subsequent co-optation shall be effected by the editorial board of the Central Organ and by the Central Committee separately.”
The plan stands out in this text quite definitely and unambiguously: it implies a reconstitution of the editorial board, effected with the participation of the most influential leaders of the practical work. Both the features of this plan which I have emphasised are apparent at once to anyone who takes the trouble to read the text at all attentively. But nowadays one has to stop and explain the most elementary things. It was precisely a reconstitution of the editorial board that the plan implied—not necessarily an enlargement and not necessarily a reduction of its membership, but its reconstitution; for the question of a possible enlargement or reduction was left open: co-optation was provided for only if necessary. Among the suggestions for such reconstitution made by various people, some provided for a possible reduction of the number of editors, and some for increasing it to seven (I personally had always regarded seven as far preferable to six), and even to eleven (I considered this possible in the event of peaceful union with all Social-Democratic organisations in general and with the Bund and the Polish Social-Democrats in particular). But what is most important, and this is usually overlooked by people talking about the “trio”, is that the matter of further co-optation to the Central Organ was to be decided with the participation of the members of the Central Committee. Not one comrade of all the “minority” members of the organisation or Congress delegates, who knew of this plan and approved it (either explicitly or tacitly), has taken the trouble to explain the meaning of this point. Firstly, why was a trio, and only a trio, taken as the starting-point for reconstituting the editorial board? Obviously, this would have been absolutely senseless if the sole, or at least the main, purpose had been to enlarge the board, and if that board had really been considered a “harmonious” one. If the purpose is to enlarge a “harmonious” body, it would be strange to start, not with the whole body, but with only a part. Obviously, not all members of the board were considered quite suitable for discussing and deciding the matter of reconstituting it, of converting the old editorial circle into a Party institution. Obviously, even those who personally desired the reconstitution to be an enlargement recognised that the old composition of the board was not harmonious and did not answer to the ideal of a Party institution, for otherwise there would be no reason first to reduce the six to three in order to enlarge it. I repeat, this is self-evident, and only the temporary confusion of the issue by “personalities” could have caused it to be forgotten.
Secondly, it will be seen from the above-quoted text that even the agreement of all three members of the Central Organ would not by itself be enough for the enlargement of the trio. This, too, is always lost sight of. Two-thirds of six, that is, four votes, were to be required for co-optation; hence it would only be necessary for the three members elected to the Central Committee to exercise their veto, and no enlargement of the trio would be possible. Conversely, even if two of the three members of the editorial board of the Central Organ were opposed to further co-optation, it would nevertheless be possible if all three members of the Central Committee were in favour of it. It is thus obvious that the intention was, in converting the old circle into a Party institution, to grant the deciding voice to the Congress-elected leaders of the practical work. Which comrades we roughly had in mind may be seen from the fact that prior to the Congress the editorial board unanimously elected Comrade Pavlovich a seventh member of their body, in case it should be necessary to make a statement at the Congress on behalf of the board; in addition to Comrade Pavlovich, a certain old member of the Iskra organisation and member of the Organising Committee, who was subsequently elected to the Central Committee, was proposed for the seventh place.
Thus the plan for the election of two trios was obviously designed: 1) to reconstitute the editorial board; 2) to rid it of certain elements of the old circle spirit, which is out of place in a Party institution (if there had been nothing to get rid of there would have been no point in the idea of an initial trio!); and, lastly, 3) to get rid of the “theocratic” features of a body of writers (getting rid of them by enlisting the services of prominent practical workers in deciding the question of enlarging the trio). This plan, with which all the editors were acquainted, was, clearly, based on three years’ experience of work and fully accorded with the principles of revolutionary organisation that we were consistently introducing. In the period of disunity in which Iskra entered the arena, groups were often formed haphazardly and spontaneously, and inevitably suffered from certain pernicious manifestations of the circle spirit. The creation of a Party presupposed and demanded the elimination of these features; the participation of prominent practical workers in this elimination was essential, for certain members of the editorial board had always dealt with organisational affairs, and the body to enter the system of Party institutions was to be a body not merely of writers, but of political leaders. It was likewise natural, from the standpoint of the policy Iskra had always pursued, to leave the selection of the initial trio to the Congress: we had observed the greatest caution in preparing for the Congress, waiting until all controversial questions of principle relating to programme, tactics, and organisation had been fully clarified; we had no doubt that the Congress would be an “Iskra”-ist one in the sense that its overwhelming majority would be solid on these fundamental questions (this was also indicated in part by the resolutions recognising Iskra as the leading organ); we were bound therefore to leave it to the comrades who had borne the whole brunt of the work of disseminating Iskra’s ideas and preparing for its conversion into a party to decide for themselves who were the most suitable candidates for the new Party institution. It is only by the fact that this plan for “two trios” was a natural one, only by the fact that it fully accorded with Iskra’s whole policy and with every thing known about Iskra to people at all closely acquainted with the work, that the general approval of this plan and the absence of any rival plan is to be explained.
And so, at the Congress, Comrade Rusov first of all moved the election of two trios. It never even occurred to the followers of Martov, who had informed us in writing that this plan was connected with the false accusation of opportunism, to reduce the dispute over a board of six or three to the question whether this accusation was right or wrong. Not one of them even hinted at it! None of them ventured to say a single word about the differing shades of principle involved in the dispute over six or three. They preferred a commoner and cheaper method, namely, to evoke pity, to speak of possible injured feelings, to pretend that the question of the editorial board had already been settled by appointing Iskra the Central Organ. This last argument, adduced by Comrade Koltsov against Comrade Rusov, was a piece of downright falsity. Two separate items were included—not fortuitously, of course—in the Congress agenda (see Minutes, p. 10): Item 4—“Central Organ of the Party”, and Item 18—“Election of the Central Committee and the editorial board of the Central Organ”. That in the first place. In the second place, when the Central Organ was being appointed, all the delegates categorically declared that this did not mean the endorsement of the editorial board, but only of the trend,and not a single protest was raised against these declarations.
Thus the statement that by endorsing a definite organ the Congress had in effect endorsed the editorial board—a statement many times reiterated by the adherents of the minority (by Koltsov, p. 321, by Posadovsky, p. 321, by Popov, p. 322, and by many others)—was simply untrue in fact. It was a perfectly obvious manoeuvre to cover a retreat from the position held at the time when the question of the composition of the central bodies could still be regarded in a really dispassionate light by all. The retreat could not be justified either by motives of principle (for to raise the question of the “false accusation of opportunism” at the Congress was too much to the disadvantage of the minority, and they did not even hint at it), or by a reference to the factual data showing which was actually more effectual—six or three (for the mere mention of these facts would have produced a heap of arguments against the minority). They had to try to burke the issue by talk about a “symmetrical whole”, about a “harmonious team”, about a “symmetrical and crystal-integral entity”, and so on. It is not surprising that these arguments were immediately called by their true name: "wretched words " (p. 328). The very plan for a trio clearly testified to a lack of “harmony”, and the impressions obtained by the delegates during a month and more of work ing together obviously afforded a mass of material to enable them to judge for themselves. When Comrade Posadovsky hinted at this material (incautiously and injudiciously from his own standpoint: see pp. 321 and 325 regarding the “qualified sense” in which he had used the word “dissonances”), Comrade Muravyov bluntly declared: "In my opinion it is now quite clear to the majority of the Congress that such dissonances undoubtedly do exist" (p. 321). The minority chose to construe the word “dissonances” (which was given currency by Posadovsky, not Muravyov) in a purely personal sense, not daring to take up the gauntlet flung down by Comrade Muravyov, not daring to bring forward in defence of the board of six a single argument on the actual merits of the case. The result was a dispute which for its sterility was more than comic: the majority (through the mouth of Comrade Muravyov) declared that the true significance of the six or three issue was quite clear to them, but the minority persistently refused to listen and affirmed that “we are not in a position to examine it”. The majority not only considered themselves in a position to examine it, but had “examined it” already and announced that the results of the examination were quite clear to them, but the minority apparently feared an examination and took cover behind mere “wretched words”. The majority urged us to “bear in mind that our Central Organ is something more than a literary group”; the majority “wanted the Central Organ to be headed by quite definite persons, persons known to the Congress, persons meeting the requirements I have mentioned” (that is, not only literary requirements; Comrade Lange’s speech, p. 327). Again the minority did not dare to take up the gauntlet and did not say a word as to who, in their opinion, was suitable for what was more than a literary body, as to who was a figure of a “quite definite” magnitude “known to the Congress”. The minority continued to take shelter behind their celebrated “harmony”. Nor was this all. The minority even introduced into the debate arguments which were absolutely false in principle and which therefore quite rightly evoked a sharp rebuff. “The Congress,” don’t you see, “has neither the moral nor the political right to refashion the editorial board” (Trotsky, p. 326); “it is too delicate [sic!] a question” (Trotsky again); “how will the editors who are not re-elected feel about the fact that the Congress does not want to see them on the board any more?” (Tsaryov, p. 324.)
Such arguments simply put the whole question on the plane of pity and injured feelings, and were a direct admission of bankruptcy as regards real arguments of principle, real political arguments. And the majority immediately gave this attitude its true name: philistinism (Comrade Rusov). “We are hearing strange speeches from the lips of revolutionaries,” Comrade Rusov justly remarked, "speeches that are in marked disharmony with the concepts Party work, Party ethics. The principal argument on which the opponents of electing trios take their stand amounts to a purely philistine view of Party affairs [my italics throughout].... If we adopt this standpoint, which is a philistine and not a Party standpoint, we shall at every election have to consider: will not Petrov be offended if Ivanov is elected and not he, will not some member of the Organising Committee be offended if another member, and not he, is elected to the Central Committee? Where is this going to land us, comrades? If we have gathered here for the purpose of creating a Party, and not of indulging in mutual compliments and philistine sentimentality, then we can never agree to such a view. We are about to elect officials, and there can be no talk of lack of confidence in any person not elected; our only consideration should be the interests of the work and a person’s suitability for the post to which he is being elected " (p. 325).
We would advise all who want to make an independent examination of the reasons for the Party split and to dig down to the roots of it at the Congress to read this speech of Comrade Rusov’s over and over again; his arguments were not even contested by the minority, let alone refuted. And indeed there is no contesting such elementary, rudimentary truths, which were forgotten only because of "nervous excitement ", as Comrade Rusov himself rightly explained. And this is really the explanation least discreditable to the minority of how they could desert the Party standpoint for a philistine and circle standpoint.
But the minority were so totally unable to find sensible and business-like arguments against election that, in addition to introducing philistinism into Party affairs, they resorted to downright scandalous practices. Indeed, what other name can we give to the action of Comrade Popov when he advised Comrade Muravyov “not to undertake delicate commissions” (p. 322)? What is this but “getting personal”, as Comrade Sorokin rightly put it (p. 328)? What is it but speculating on “personalities ”, in the absence of political arguments? Was Comrade Sorokin right or wrong when he said that “we have always protested against such practices”? “Was it permissible for Comrade Deutsch to try demonstratively to pillory comrades who did not agree with him?”(P. 328.)
Let us sum up the debate on the editorial board. The minority did not refute (nor even try to refute) the majority’s numerous statements that the plan for a trio was known to the delegates at the very beginning of the Congress and prior to the Congress, and that, consequently, this plan was based on considerations and facts which had no relation to the events and disputes at the Congress. In defending the board of six, the minority took up a position which was wrong and impermissible in principle, one based on philistine considerations. The minority displayed an utter forgetfulness of the Party attitude towards the election of officials, not even attempting to give an estimation of each candidate for a post and of his suitability or unsuitability for the functions it involved. The minority evaded a discussion of the question on its merits and talked instead of their celebrated harmony, “shedding tears” and “indulging in pathos” (Lange’s speech, p. 327), as though “somebody was being murdered”. In their state of "nervous excitement " (p. 325) the minority even went to the length of "getting personal ", of howling that election was “criminal”, and similar impermissible practices.
The battle over six or three at the 30th sitting of our Congress was a battle between philistinism and the party spirit, between "personalities " of the worst kind and political considerations, between wretched words and the most elementary conception of revolutionary duty.
And at the 31st sitting, when the Congress, by a majority of nineteen to seventeen with three abstentions, had rejected the motion to endorse the old editorial board as a whole (see p. 330 and the errata), and when the former editors had returned to the hall, Comrade Martov in his “statement on behalf of the majority of the former editorial board” (pp. 330-31) displayed this same shakiness and instability of political position and political concepts to an even greater degree. Let us examine in detail each point of this collective statement and my reply (pp. 332-33).
“From now on,” Comrade Martov said when the old editorial board was not endorsed, “the old Iskra does not exist, and it would be more consistent to change its name. At any rate, we see in the new resolution of the Congress a substantial limitation of the vote of confidence in Iskra which was passed at one of the first Congress sittings.”
Comrade Martov and his colleagues raised a truly interesting and in many respects instructive question of political consistency. I have already replied to this by referring to what everyone said when Iskra was being endorsed (Minutes, p. 349, cf. above, p. 82). What we have here is unquestionably a crying instance of political inconsistency, but whether on the part of the majority of the Congress or of the majority of the old editorial board we shall leave the reader to judge. And there are two other questions very pertinently raised by Comrade Martov and his colleagues which we shall likewise leave the reader to decide: 1) Did the desire to detect a “limitation of the vote of confidence in Iskra” in the Congress decision to elect officials to the editorial board of the Central Organ betray a philistine or aParty attitude? 2) When did the old “Iskra” really cease to exist—starting from No. 46, when the two of us, Plekhanov and I, began to conduct it, or from No. 53, when the majority of the old editorial board took it over? If the first question is a most interesting question of principle, the second is a most interesting question of fact.
“Since it has now been decided,” Comrade Martov continued, "to elect an editorial board of three, I must declare on my own behalf and that of the three other comrades that none of us will sit on this new editorial board. For myself, I must add that if it be true that certain comrades wanted to include my name in the list of candidates for this ’trio’, I must regard it as an insult which I have done nothing to deserve [sic!]. I say this in view of the circumstances under which it has been decided to change the editorial board. This decision was taken on the grounds of some kind of ‘friction’,of the former editorial board having been ineffectual; moreover, the Congress decided the matter along definite lines without questioning the editorial board about this friction or even appointing a commission to report whether it had been ineffectual. [Strange that it never occurred to any member of the minority to propose to the Congress to “question the editorial board” or appoint a commission! Was it not because it would have been useless after the split in the Iskra organisation and the failure of the negotiations Comrades Martov and Starover wrote about?] Under the circumstances, I must regard the assumption of certain comrades that I would agree to sit on an editorial board reformed in this manner as a slur on my political reputation....”
I have purposely quoted this argument in full to acquaint the reader with a specimen and with the beginning of what has blossomed out so profusely since the Congress and which cannot be called by any other name than squabbling. I have already employed this expression in my Letter to the Editors of “Iskra”, and in spite of the editors’ annoyance I am obliged to repeat it, for its correctness is beyond dispute. It is a mistake to think that squabbling presupposes “sordid motives” (as the editors of the new Iskra conclude): any revolutionary at all acquainted with our colonies of exiles and political émigrés will have witnessed dozens of cases of squabbling in which the most absurd accusations, suspicions, self-accusations, “personalities”, etc., were levelled and harped upon owing to “nervous excitement” and abnormal, stagnant conditions of life. No sensible person will necessarily seek for sordid motives in these squabbles, however sordid their manifestations may be. And it is only to “nervous excitement” that we can attribute that tangled skein of absurdities, personalities, fantastic horrors, and imaginary insults and slurs which is contained in the above-quoted passage from Comrade Martov’s speech. Stagnant conditions of life breed such squabbles among us by the hundred, and a political party would be unworthy of respect if it did not have the courage to designate its malady by its true name, to make a ruthless diagnosis and search for a cure.
Insofar as anything relating to principles can be extracted at all from this tangled skein, one is led inevitably to the conclusion that “elections have nothing to do with any slurs on political reputations”, that “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” is to confuse the issue, and that “Comrade Martov’s views on the permissibility of electing part of the old board reflect an extreme confusion of political ideas” (as I expressed it at the Congress, p. 332).
I shall omit Comrade Martov’s “personal” remark as to who initiated the plan for the trio, and shall pass to his “political” characterisation of the significance attaching to the non-endorsement of the old editorial board: ". . What has now taken place is the last act of the struggle which has raged during the second half of the Congress. [Quite right! And this second half of the Congress began when Martov fell into the tight clutches of Comrade Akimov over Paragraph 1 of the Rules.] It is an open secret that in this reform it is not a question of being ’effectual’, but of a struggle for influence on the Central Committee. [Firstly, it is an open secret that it was a question of being effectual, as well as of a divergence over the composition of the Central Committee, for the plan of the “reform” was proposed at a time when that divergence was nowhere in sight and when Comrade Martov joined us in electing Comrade Pavlovich a seventh member of the editorial board] Secondly, we have already shown by documentary proofs that it was a question of the personal composition of the Central Committee, that à la fin des fins the matter came down to a difference of lists: Glebov-Travinsky-Popov or Glebov-Trotsky-Popov.] The majority of the editorial board showed that they did not want the Central Committee to be converted into a tool of the editorial board. [That is Akimov’s refrain: the question of the influence for which every majority fights at any and every party congress so as then to consolidate it with the help of a majority on the central institutions is transferred to the plane of opportunist slanders about a “tool” of the editorial board, about a “mere appendage” of the editorial board, as Comrade Martov himself put it somewhat later, p. 334.] That is why it was found necessary to reduce the number of members of the editorial board [!!]. And that is why I cannot join such an editorial board. [Just examine this “that is why” a little more carefully. How might the editorial board have converted the Central Committee into an appendage or tool? Only if it had had three votes on the Council and had abused its superiority. Is that not clear? And is it not likewise clear that, having been elected the third member, Comrade Martov could always have prevented such an abuse and by his vote alone have destroyed all superiority of the editorial board on the Council? Consequently, the whole matter boils down to the personal composition of the Central Committee, and it is at once clear that the talk about a tool and an appendage is slander.] Together with the majority of the old editorial board, I thought that the Congress would put an end to the ’state of siege’ in the Party and would establish a normal state of affairs. But as a matter of fact the state of siege, with its emergency laws against particular groups, still continues, and has even become more acute. Only if the old editorial board remains in its entirety can we guarantee that the rights conferred on the editorial board by the Rules will not be used to the detriment of the Party....”
There you have the whole passage from Comrade Martov’s speech in which he first advanced the notorious war-cry of a “state of siege”. And now look at my reply to him:
“. . . However, in correcting Martov’s statement about the private character of the plan for two trios, I have no intention 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.”
I have italicised in this summary of my speech at the Congress the sentence which Comrade Martov preferred to omit in his “State of Siege” (p. 16). It is not surprising that he did not like this sentence and did not choose to understand its obvious meaning.
What does the expression “dreadful words” imply, Comrade Martov?
It implies mockery, mockery of those who give big names to little things, who confuse a simple question by pretentious phrase-mongering.
The little and simple fact which alone could have given, and actually did give, Comrade Martov cause for “nervous excitement” was nothing but his defeat at the Congress over the personal composition of the central bodies. The political significance of this simple fact was that, having won, the majority of the Party Congress consolidated their influence by establishing their majority in the Party leadership as well, by creating an organisational basis for a struggle, with the help of the Rules, against what this majority considered to be vacillation, instability, and vagueness.To make this an occasion for talking of a “struggle for influence” with horror in one’s eyes and complaining of a “state of siege” was nothing but pretentious phrase-mongering, dreadful words.
Comrade Martov does not agree with this? Then perhaps he will try to prove to us that a party congress has ever existed, or is in general conceivable, where the majority would not proceed to consolidate the influence they had gained: 1) by securing a majority on the central bodies, and 2) by endowing it with powers to counteract vacillation, instability, and vagueness.
Before the elections, our Congress had to decide whether to give one-third of the votes on the Central Organ and on the Central Committee to the Party majority or the Party minority. The board of six and Comrade Martov’s list meant giving one-third to us and two-thirds to his followers. A trio on the Central Organ and our list meant two-thirds for us and one-third for Comrade Martov’s followers. Comrade Martov refused to make terms with us or yield, and challenged us in writing to a battle at the Congress. Having suffered defeat at the Congress, he began to weep and to complain of a “state of siege”! Well, isn’t that squabbling? Isn’t it a new manifestation of the wishy-washiness of the intellectual?
One cannot help recalling in this connection the brilliant social and psychological characterisation of this latter quality recently given by Karl Kautsky. The Social Democratic parties of different countries suffer not infrequently nowadays from similar maladies, and it would be very, very useful for us to learn from more experienced comrades the correct diagnosis and the correct cure. Karl Kautsky’s characterisation of certain intellectuals will therefore be only a seeming digression from our theme.
“The problem . . . that again interests us so keenly today is the antagonism between the intelligentsia and the proletariat. My colleagues [Kautsky is himself an intellectual, a writer and editor] will mostly be indignant that I admit this antagonism. But it actually exists, and, as in other cases, it would be the most inexpedient tactics to try to overcome the fact by denying it. This antagonism is a social one, it relates to classes, not to individuals. The individual intellectual, like the individual capitalist, may identify himself with the proletariat in its class struggle. When he does, he changes his character too. It is not this type of intellectual, who is still an exception among his class, that we shall mainly speak of in what follows. Unless otherwise stated, I shall use the word intellectual to mean only the common run of intellectual who takes the stand of bourgeois society, and who is characteristic of the intelligentsia as a class. This class stands in a certain antagonism to the proletariat.
“This antagonism differs, however, from the antagonism between labour and capital. The intellectual is not a capitalist. True, his standard of life is bourgeois, and he must maintain it if he is not to become a pauper; but at the same time he is compelled to sell the product of his labour, and often his labour-power, and is himself often enough exploited and humiliated by the capitalist. Hence the intellectual does not stand in any economic antagonism to the proletariat. But his status of life and his conditions of labour are not proletarian, and this gives rise to a certain antagonism in sentiments and ideas.
“As an isolated individual, the proletarian is nothing. His whole strength, his whole progress, all his hopes and expectations are derived from organisation, from systematic action in conjunction with his fellows. He feels big and strong when he forms part of a big and strong organism. This organism is the main thing for him; the individual in comparison means very little. The proletarian fights with the utmost devotion as part of the anonymous mass, without prospect of personal advantage or personal glory, doing his duty in any post he is assigned to with a voluntary discipline which pervades all his feelings and thoughts.
“Quite different is the case of the intellectual. He does not fight by means of power, but by argument. His weapons are his personal knowledge, his personal ability, his personal convictions. He can attain to any position at all only through his personal qualities. Hence the freest play for his individuality seems to him the prime condition for successful activity. It is only with difficulty that he submits to being a part subordinate to a whole, and then only from necessity, not from inclination. He recognises the need of discipline only for the mass, not for the elect minds. And of course he counts himself among the latter....
“Nietzsche’s philosophy, with its cult of the superman, for whom the fulfilment of his own individuality is everything and any subordination of that individuality to a great social aim is vulgar and despicable, is the real philosophy of the intellectual, and it renders him totally unfit to take part in the class struggle of the proletariat.
“Next to Nietzsche, the most outstanding exponent of a philosophy answering to the sentiments of the intelligentsia is probably Ibsen. His Doctor Stockmann (in An Enemy of the People) is not a socialist as many have thought, but the type of the intellectual, who is bound to come into conflict with the proletarian movement, and with any movement of the people generally, as soon as he attempts to work within it. For the basis of the proletarian movement, as of every democratic movement, is respect for the majority of one’s fellows. The typical intellectual à la Stockmann regards a ’compact majority’ as a monster that must be overthrown....
“An ideal example of an intellectual who had become thoroughly imbued with the sentiments of the proletariat, and who, although he was a brilliant writer, had quite lost the specific mentality of the intellectual, marched cheerfully with the rank and file, worked in any post he was assigned to subordinated himself whole-heartedly to our great cause, and despised the feeble whining [weichliches Gewinsel] about the suppression of his individuality which the intellectual trained on Ibsen and Nietzsche is prone to indulge in when he happens to be in the minority—an ideal example of the kind of intellectual the socialist movement needs was Liebknecht. We may also mention Marx, who never forced himself to the forefront and whose party discipline in the International, where he often found himself in the minority, was exemplary.”
Just such feeble whining of intellectuals who happened to find themselves in the minority, and nothing more, was the refusal of Martov and his friends to be named for office merely because the old circle had not been endorsed, as were their complaints of a state of siege and emergency laws “against particular groups”, which Martov cared nothing about when Yuzhny Rabochy and Rabocheye Dyelo were dissolved, but only came to care about when his group was dissolved.
Just such feeble whining of intellectuals who happened to find themselves in the minority was that endless torrent of complaints, reproaches, hints, accusations, slanders, and insinuations regarding the “compact majority” which was started by Martov and which poured out in such a flood at our Party Congress (and even more so after).
The minority bitterly complained that the compact majority held private meetings. Well, the minority had to do something to conceal the unpleasant fact that the delegates it invited to its own private meetings refused to attend, while those who would willingly have attended (the Egorovs, Makhovs, and Brouckères) the minority could not invite after all the fighting it had done with them at the Congress.
The minority bitterly complained of the “false accusation of opportunism”. Well, it had to do something to conceal the unpleasant fact that it was opportunists, who in most cases had followed the anti-Iskra-ists—and partly these anti-Iskra-ists themselves—that made up the compact minority, seizing with both hands on the championship of the circle spirit in Party institutions, opportunism in arguments, philistinism in Party affairs, and the instability and wishy-washiness of the intellectual.
We shall show in the next section what is the explanation of the highly interesting political fact that a “compact majority” was formed towards the end of the Congress, and why, in spite of every challenge, the minority so very, very warily evades the reasons for its formation and its history. But let us first finish our analysis of the Congress debates.
During the elections to the Central Committee, Comrade Martov moved a highly characteristic resolution (p. 336), the three main features of which I have on occasion referred to as “mate in three moves”. Here they are: 1) to ballot lists of candidates for the Central Committee, and not the candidates individually; 2) after the lists had been announced, to allow two sittings to elapse (for discussion, evidently); 3) in the absence of an absolute majority, a second ballot to be regarded as final. This resolution was a most carefully conceived stratagem (we must give the adversary his due!), with which Comrade Egorov did not agree (p. 337), but which would most certainly have assured a complete victory for Martov if the seven Bundists and “Rabocheye Dyelo”-ists had not quit the Congress. The reason for this stratagem was that the Iskra-ist minority did not have, and could not have had, a “direct agreement” (such as there was among the Iskra-ist majority) even with the Egorovs and Makhovs, let alone the Bund and Brouckère.
Remember that at the League Congress Comrade Martov complained that the “false accusation of opportunism” presumed a direct agreement between him and the Bund. I repeat, this only seemed so to Comrade Martov in his fright, and this very refusal of Comrade Egorov to agree to the balloting of lists (Comrade Egorov “had not yet lost his principles”—presumably the principles that made him join forces with Goldblatt in appraising the absolute importance of democratic guarantees) graphically demonstrates the highly important fact that there could be no question of a “direct agreement” even with Egorov. But a coalition there could be, and was, both with Egorov and with Brouckere, a coalition in the sense that the Martovites were sure of their support every time they, the Martovites, came into serious conflict with us and Akimov and his friends had to choose the lesser evil. There was not and is not the slightest doubt that Comrades Akimov and Lieber would certainly have voted both for the board of six on the Central Organ and for Martov’s list for the Central Committee, as being the lesser evil, as being what would least achieve the “Iskra” aims (see Akimov’s speech on Paragraph 1 and the “hopes” he placed in Martov). Balloting of lists, allowing two sittings to elapse, and a re-ballot were designed to achieve this very result with almost mechanical certainty without a direct agreement.
But since our compact majority remained a compact majority, Comrade Martov’s flank movement would only have meant delay, and we were bound to reject it. The minority poured forth their complaints on this score in a written statement (p. 341) and, following the example of Martynov and Akimov, refused to vote in the elections to the Central Committee, “in view of the conditions in which they were held”. Since the Congress, such complaints of abnormal conditions at the elections (see State of Siege, p. 31) have been poured right and left into the ears of hundreds of Party gossips. But in what did this abnormality consist? In the secret ballot—which had been stipulated beforehand in the Standing Orders of the Congress (Point 6, Minutes, p. 11), and in which it was absurd- to detect any “hypocrisy” or “injustice”? In the formation of a compact majority—that “monster” in the eyes of wishy-washy intellectuals? Or in the abnormal desire of these worthy intellectuals to violate the pledge they had given before the Congress that they would recognise all its elections (p. 380, Point 18 of the Congress Regulations)?
Comrade Popov subtly hinted at this desire when he asked outright at the Congress on the day of the elections: “Is the Bureau certain that the decision of the Congress is valid and in order when half the delegates refused to vote?” The Bureau of course replied that it was certain, and recalled the incident of Comrades Akimov and Martynov Comrade Martov agreed with the Bureau and explicitly declared that Comrade Popov was mistaken and that "the decisions of the Congress are valid " (p. 343). Now let the reader form his own opinion of the political consistency—highly normal, we must suppose—revealed by a comparison of this declaration made by him in the hearing of the Party with his behaviour after the Congress and with the phrase in his State of Siege about "the revolt of half the Party which already began at the Congress " (p. 20). The hopes which Comrade Akimov had placed in Comrade Martov outweighed the ephemeral good intentions of Martov himself.
"You have conquered ", Comrade Akimov!
Certain features, seemingly petty but actually very important, of the end of the Congress, the part of it after the elections, may serve to show how pure and simple a “dreadful word” was the famous phrase about a “state of siege”, which has now for ever acquired a tragicomical meaning. Comrade Martov is now making great play with this tragicomical “state of siege”, seriously assuring both himself and his readers that this bogey of his own invention implied some sort of abnormal persecution, hounding, bullying of the “minority” by the “majority”. We shall presently show how matters stood after the Congress. But take even the end of the Congress, and you will find that after the elections, far from persecuting the unhappy Martovites, who are supposed to have been bullied, ill-treated, and led to the slaughter, the “compact majority” itself offered them (through Lyadov) two seats out of three on the Minutes Committee (p. 354). Take the resolutions on tactical and other questions (p. 355 et seq.), and you will find that they were discussed on their merits in a purely business-like way, and that the signatories to many of the resolutions included both representatives of the monstrous compact “majority” and followers of the “humiliated and insulted” “minority” (Minutes, pp. 355, 357, 363, 365 and 367). This looks like “shutting out from work” and “bullying” in general, does it not?
The only interesting—but, unfortunately, all too brief—controversy on the substance of a question arose in connection with Starover’s resolution on the liberals. As one can see from the signatures to it (pp. 357 and 358), it was adopted by the Congress because three of the supporters of the “majority” (Braun, Orlov, and Osipov) voted both for it and for Plekhanov’s resolution, not perceiving the irreconcilable contradiction between the two. No irreconcilable contradiction is apparent at first glance, because Plekhanov’s resolution lays down a general principle, outlines a defnite attitude, as regards principles and tactics, towards bourgeois liberalism in Russia, whereas Starover’s attempts to define the concrete conditions in which “temporary agreements” would be permissible with “liberal or liberal-democratic trends”. The subjects of the two resolutions are different. But Starover’s suffers from political vagueness, and is consequently petty and shallow. It does not define the class content of Russian liberalism, does not indicate the definite political trends in which this is expressed, does not explain to the proletariat the principal tasks of propaganda and agitation in relation to these definite trends; it confuses (owing to its vagueness) such different things as the student movement and Osvobozhdeniye, it too pettily and casuistically prescribes three concrete conditions under which “temporary agreements” would be permissible. Here too, as in many other cases, political vagueness leads to casuistry. The absence of any general principle and the attempt to enumerate “conditions” result in a petty and, strictly speaking, incorrect specification of these conditions. Just examine Starover’s three conditions: 1) the “liberal or liberal-democratic trends” shall “clearly and unambiguously declare that in their struggle against the autocratic government they will resolutely side with the Russian Social-Democrats”. What is the difference between the liberal and liberal-democratic trends? The resolution furnishes no material for a reply to this question. Is it not that the liberal trends speak for the politically least progressive sections of the bourgeoisie, and the liberal-democratic—for the more progressive sections of the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie? If that is so, can Comrade Starover possibly think that the sections of the bourgeoisie which are least progressive (but progressive nevertheless, for otherwise there could be no talk of liberalism) can “resolutely side with the Social-Democrats”?? That is absurd, and even if the spokesmen of such a trend were to "declare it clearly and unambiguously " (an absolutely impossible assumption), we, the party of the proletariat, would be obliged not to believe their declarations. To be a liberal and resolutely side with the Social-Democrats—the one excludes the other.
Further, let us assume a case where “liberal or liberal-democratic trends” clearly and unambiguously declare that in their struggle against the autocracy they will resolutely side with the Socialist-Revolutionaries. Such an assumption is far less unlikely than Comrade Starover’s (owing to the bourgeois-democratic nature of the Socialist-Revolutionary trend). From his resolution, because of its vagueness and casuistry, it would appear that in a case like this temporary agreements with such liberals would be impermissible. But this conclusion, which follows inevitably from Comrade Starover’s resolution, is an absolutely false one. Temporary agreements are permissible with the Socialist-Revolutionaries (see the Congress resolution on the latter), and, consequently, with liberals who side with the Socialist Revolutionaries.
Second condition: these trends “shall not include in their programmes any demands running counter to the interests of the working class or the democracy generally, or obscuring their political consciousness”. Here we have the same mistake again: there never have been, nor can there be, liberal-democratic trends which did not include in their programmes demands running counter to the interests of the working class and obscuring its (the proletariat’s) political consciousness. Even one of the most democratic sections of our liberal-democratic trend, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, put forward in their programme—a muddled one, like all liberal programmes—demands that run counter to the interests of the working class and obscure its political consciousness. The conclusion to be drawn from this fact is that it is essential to “expose the limitations and inadequacy of the bourgeois emancipation movement”, but not that temporary agreements are impermissible.
Lastly, in the general form in which it is presented, Comrade Starover’s third “condition” (that the liberal-democrats should make universal, equal, secret, and direct suffrage the slogan of their struggle) is likewise incorrect: it would be unwise to declare impermissible in all cases temporary and partial agreements with liberal-democratic trends whose slogan was a constitution with a qualified suffrage, or a “curtailed” constitution generally. As a matter of fact, the Osvobozhdeniye “trend” would fit into just this category, but it would be political short-sightedness incompatible with the principles of Marxism to tie one’s hands by forbidding in advance “temporary agreements” with even the most timorous liberals.
To sum up: Comrade Starover’s resolution, which was signed also by Comrades Martov and Axelrod, is a mistake, and the Third Congress would be wise to rescind it. It suffers from political vagueness in its theoretical and tactical position, from casuistry in the practical “conditions” it stipulates. It confuses two questions: 1) the exposure of the “anti-revolutionary and anti-proletarian” features of all liberal-democratic trends, and the need to combat these features, and 2) the conditions for temporary and partial agreements with any of these trends. It does not give what it should (an analysis of the class content of liberalism), and gives what it should not (prescription of “conditions”). It is absurd in general to draw up detailed “conditions” for temporary agreements at a party congress, when there is not even a definite partner to such possible agreements in view; and even if there were such a definite partner in view, it would be a hundred times more rational to leave the definition of the “conditions” for a temporary agreement to the Party’s central institutions, as the Congress did in relation to the Socialist-Revolutionary “trend” (see Plekhanov’s modification of the end of Comrade Axelrod’s resolution—Minutes, pp. 362 and 15).
As to the objections of the “minority” to Plekhanov’s resolution, Comrade Martov’s only argument was: Plekhanov’s resolution “ends with the paltry conclusion that a particular writer should be exposed. Would this not be ’using a sledge hammer to kill a fly’?” (p. 358.) This argument, whose emptiness is concealed by a smart phrase—“paltry conclusion”—provides a new specimen of pompous phrase-mongering. Firstly, Plekhanov’s resolution speaks of “exposing in the eyes of the proletariat the limitations and inadequacy of the bourgeois emancipation movement wherever these limitations and inadequacy manifest themselves”. Hence Comrade Martov’s assertion (at the League Congress; Minutes, p. 88) that “all attention is to be directed only to Struve, only to one liberal” is the sheerest nonsense. Secondly, to compare Mr. Struve to a “fly” when the possibility of temporary agreements with the Russian liberals is in question, is to sacrifice an elementary and manifest political fact for a smart phrase. No, Mr. Struve is not a fly, but a political magnitude, and not because he personally is such a big figure, but because of his position as the sole representative of Russian liberalism—of at all effectual and organised liberalism—in the illegal world. Therefore, to talk of the Russian liberals, and of what our Party’s attitude towards them should be, without having precisely Mr. Struve and Osvobozhdeniye in mind is to talk without saying anything. Or perhaps Comrade Martov will show us even one single “liberal or liberal-democratic trend” in Russia which could compare even remotely today with the Osvobozhdeniye trend? It would be interesting to see him try!
“Struve’s name means nothing to the workers,” said Comrade Kostrov, supporting Comrade Martov. I hope Comrade Kostrov and Comrade Martov will not be offended—but that argument is fully in the Akimov style. It is like the argument about the proletariat in the genitive case.
Who are the workers to whom Struve’s name (and the name of Osvobozhdeniye, mentioned in Comrade Plekhanov’s resolution alongside of Mr. Struve) “means nothing”? Those who know very little, or nothing at all, of the “liberal and liberal-democratic trends” in Russia. One asks, what should be the attitude of our Party Congress to such workers: should it instruct Party members to acquaint these workers with the only definite liberal trend in Russia; or should it refrain from mentioning a name with which the workers are little acquainted because of their little acquaintance with politics? If Comrade Kostrov, having taken one step in the wake of Comrade Akimov, does not want to take another, he will answer this question in the former sense. And having answered it in the former sense, he will see how groundless his argument was. At any rate, the words “Struve” and "Osvobozhdeniye " in Plekhanov’s resolution are likely to be of much more value to the workers than the words “liberal and liberal-democratic trend” in Starover’s resolution.
Except through Osvobozhdeniye, the Russian worker cannot at the present time acquaint himself in practice with anything like a frank expression of the political tendencies of our liberalism. The legal liberal literature is unsuitable for this purpose because it is so nebulous. And we must as assiduously as possible (and among the broadest possible masses of workers) direct the weapon of our criticism against the Osvobozhdeniye gentry, so that when the future revolution breaks out, the Russian proletariat may, with the real criticism of weapons, paralyse the inevitable attempts of the Osvobozhdeniye gentry to curtail the democratic character of the revolution.
Apart from Comrade Egorov’s “perplexity”, mentioned above, over the question of our “supporting” the oppositional and revolutionary movement, the debate on the resolutions offered little of interest; in fact, there was hardly any debate at all.
The Congress ended with a brief reminder from the chairman that its decisions were binding on all Party members.
 See my Letter to the Editors of “Iskra”, p. 5, and the League Minutes, p. 53. —Lenin
Note: This footnote has been moved into the body of the document.
Note: This footnote has been moved into the body of the document.
 Cf. Comrade Posadovsky’s speech: “. . . By electing three of the six members of the old editorial board, you pronounce the other three to be unnecessary and superfluous. And you have neither any right nor any grounds to do that.” —Lenin
 In his State of Siege, Comrade Martov treats this question just as he does all the others he touches upon. He does not trouble to give a complete picture of the controversy. He very modestly evades the only real issue of principle that arose in this controversy: philistine sentimentality or the election of officials, the Party standpoint, or the injured feelings of the Ivan Ivanoviches? Here, too, Comrade Martov confines himself to plucking out isolated bits and pieces of what happened and adding all sorts of abusive remarks at my expense. That’s not quite enough, Comrade Martov!
Comrade Martov particularly pesters me with the question why Comrades Axelrod, Zasulich, and Starover were not elected at the Congress. The philistine attitude he has adopted prevents him from seeing how unseemly these questions are (why doesn’t he ask his colleague on the editorial board, Comrade Plekhanov?). He detects a contradiction in the fact that I regard the behaviour of the minority at the Congress on the question of the six as tactless", yet at the same time demand Party publicity. There is no contradiction here, as Martov himself could easily have seen if he had taken the trouble to give a connected account of the whole matter, and not merely fragments of it. It was tactless to treat the question from a philistine standpoint and appeal to pity and consideration for injured feelings; the interests of Party publicity demanded that an estimation be given in point of fact of the advantages of six as compared with three, an estimation of the candidates for the posts, an estimation of the different shades; the minority gave not a hint of any of this at the Congress.
By carefully studying the minutes, Comrade Martov would have found in the delegates’ speeches a whole series of arguments against the board of six. Here is a selection from these speeches: firstly, that dissonances, in the sense of different shades of principle, were clearly apparent in the old six; secondly, that a technical simplification of the editorial work was desirable; thirdly, that the interests of the work came before philistine sentimentality, and only election could ensure that the persons chosen were suited for their posts; fourthly, that the right of the Congress to choose must not be restricted; fifthly, that the Party now needed something more than a literary group on the Central Organ, that the Central Organ needed not only writers, but administrators as well; sixthly, that the Central Organ must consist of quite definite persons, persons known to the Congress; seventhly, that a board of six was often ineffectual, and the board’s work had been accomplished not thanks to its abnormal constitution, but in spite of it; eighthly, that the conduct of a newspaper was a party (not a circle) affair, etc. Let Comrade Martov, if he is so interested in the reasons for the non-election of these persons, penetrate into the meaning of each of these considerations and refute a single one of them. —Lenin
Note: This footnote has been moved into the body of the document.
 See pp. 308-10 of this volume.—Ed.
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 See present edition, Vol. 6, pp. 505-06.–Ed. —Lenin
 See present edition, Vol. 6, pp. 507-08.—Ed.
Note: This footnote has been moved into the body of the document.
 I use the words intellectual and intelligentsia to translate the German Literat and Literatentum, which include not only writers but in general all educated people, the members of the liberal professions, the brain workers, as the English call them, as distinct from manual workers. —Lenin
 It is extremely characteristic of the confusion brought by our Martovites into all questions of organisation that, though they have swung towards Akimov aud a misplaced democracy, they are at the same time incensed at the democratic election of the editorial board, its election at the Congress, as planned in advance by everybody! Perhaps that is your principle, gentlemen? —Lenin
 Karl Kautsky, “Franz Mehring”, Neue Zeit, XXII, I, S. 101-03, 1903, No. 4. —Lenin
 See pp. 337, 338, 340, 352, etc., of the Congress Minutes. —Lenin
 P. 342. This refers to the election of the fifth member of the Council. Twenty-four ballots (out of a total of forty-four votes) were cast, two of which were blank. —Lenin
 At the League Congress Comrade Martov also adduced the following argument against Comrade Plekhanov’s resolution: "The chief objection to it, the chief defect of this resolution, is that it totally ignores the fact that it is our duty, in the struggle against the autocracy, not to shun alliance with liberal-democratic elements. Comrade Lenin would call this a Martynov tendency. This tendency is already being manifested in the new Iskra(p. 88)
For the wealth of “gems” it contains, this passage is indeed rare. 1) The phrase about alliance with the liberals is a sheer muddle. Nobody mentioned alliance, Comrade Martov, but only temporary or partial agreements. That is an entirely different thing. 2) If Plekhanov’s resolution ignores an incredible “alliance” and speaks only of “support” in general, that is one of its merits, not a defect. 3) Perhaps Comrade Martov will take the trouble to explain what in general characterises “Martynov tendencies”? Perhaps he will tell us what is the relation between these tendencies and opportunism? Perhaps he will trace the relation of these tendencies to Paragraph 1 of the Rules? 4) I am just burning with impatience to hear from Comrade Martov how “Martynov tendencies” were manifested in the “new” Iskra. Please, Comrade Martov, relieve me of the torments of suspense! —Lenin
 Osipov—pseudonym of the Bolshevik Rosalia Zemlyachka, co opted after the Congress to the Central Committee.
 Lenin is referring to a speech made by the Economist Akimov during the Congress discussion of the Party programme. One of Akimov’s objections against the Iskra draft programme was that it did not mention the word “proletariat” in the nominative case, as subject of tile sentence, but only in the genitive ("party of the proletariat”). This, Akimov claimed, showed a tendency to exalt the party above the proletariat.
 Lenin is alluding to the following passage in Marx’s Introduction to his “Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right”:
"The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, take the place of criticism with weapons; it is by material force that material force must be overthrown.”