V. I.   Lenin

The Split in the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad

Written: Written not later than December 8, 1900
Published: Published in December 1900 in Iskra, No. 1. Published according to the Iskra text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 4, pages 378-379.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters
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In the spring of this year, there took place in Switzerland a conference of the members of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad which resulted in a split. The minority, led by the Emancipation of Labour group, which had found ed the Union Abroad and which until the autumn of 1898 had edited the Union publications, formed a separate organisation under the name of the Russian Revolutionary Organisation Sotsial-Demokrat. The majority, including the Editorial Board of Rabocheye Dyelo, continues to call itself the Union. The congress of Russian Social-Democrats in the spring of 1898, which formed the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, recognised the Union as the representative of our Party abroad. How must we regard the question of representation now that the Union has split? We shall not go into detail concerning the causes of the split; we shall observe merely that the widespread and serious accusation that Plekhanov has seized the Union’s printing-press is not true. In reality, the manager of the printing-press had refused to turn it over entirely to only one part of the split Union, and the two parties soon divided the printing establishment between them. The most important thing, from our point of view, is the fact that Rabocheye Dyelo was in the wrong in this controversy; it erroneously denied the existence of an “economist” trend; it advocated the wrong tactics of ignoring the extremism of this trend and of refraining from combating it openly.

For this reason, while not denying the service which Rabocheye Dyelo has rendered in publishing literature and   organising its distribution, we refuse to recognise either section of the split organisation as the representative of our Party abroad. This question must remain open until our next Party congress. The official representatives of Russian Social-Democracy abroad at the present time are the Russian members of the permanent international Committee set up in Paris by the International Socialist Congress in the autumn of this year.[1] Russia has two representatives on this Committee: G. V. Plekhanov and B. Krichevsky (one of the editors of Rabocheye Dyelo). Until the two groups of Russian Social-Democracy become reconciled or come to an agreement, we intend to conduct all our business pertaining to the representation of Russia with G. V. Plekhanov. Finally, we must express our opinion on the question of whom we desire to see as the Russian secretary of the permanent international Committee. At the present time, when under the cloak of the “criticism of Marxism,” attempts are being made to corrupt Social-Democracy by bourgeois ideology and by a meek and mild policy towards an enemy armed to the teeth (the bourgeois governments), it is especially necessary to have at this responsible post a man able to stand against the tide and to speak with influence against ideological wavering. For this reason, as well as for those stated above, we cast our vote for G. V. Plekhanov.


[1] The Fifth International Socialist Congress of the Second International was held from September 10 to September 14 (23-27, New Style), 1900, in Paris. The Russian delegation consisted of 23 members. Among its other decisions the Congress acted to establish a standing International Socialist Bureau composed of representatives of the socialist parties of all countries, its secretariat to be in Brussels.

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