V. I.   Lenin

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

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


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.



[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:

“I ask the Congress to allow me to reply to Martov.

“Comrade Martov 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.)”

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

  21. Second Speech in the Discussion on the Party Rules | 23. Speech on the Attitude Towards the Student Youth  

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