V. I.   Lenin

Account of the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.[7]

Written: Written in the early part of September 1903
Published: First published in 1927 in Lenin Miscellany VI. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, publisher??, 1964, Moscow, Volume 7, pages 15-34.
Translated: Fineberg Abraham
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2002 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
Other Formats:   Text


This account is intended for personal acquaintances only, and therefore to read it without the consent of the author (Lenin) is tantamount to reading other people’s letters.

In order to make what follows more intelligible, I shall first say a few words about the composition of the Congress, although it will mean anticipating somewhat. The number of votes at the Congress was fifty-one (thirty-three delegates with one vote each, and nine with two, nine “double-handers").[8] There were ten delegates, if I am not mistaken, with a deliberative voice but no vote; that is, fifty-two persons in all. The political grouping of these votes, as revealed during the entire course of the Congress, was as follows: five Bundists,[9] three Rabocheye Dyelo-ists[10] (two from the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad[11] and one from the St. Petersburg League of Struggle[12] four Yuzhny Rabochy-ists (two from the Yuzhny Rabochy group[13] and two from the Kharkov Committee, which sided solidly with Yuzhny Rabochy), six indecisives or waverers (the “Marsh”, as they were called by all the Iskra-ists[14]—in jest, of course), and, lastly, about thirty-three Iskra-ists who were more or less firm and consistent in their Iskra-ism. These thirty- three Iskra-ists, who when they stood together decided every issue at the Congress, split in their turn into two subgroups—a split that took shape finally only towards the end of the Congress: one subgroup, with approximately nine votes, consisting of Iskra-ists of the “soft or rather zigzag line” (or the female line, as certain wits called it, and not without reason)—Iskra-ists who stood (as will be seen later) for justice, for a middle course, etc.; and the other, with about twenty-four votes, consisting of Iskra-ists of the firm line, who upheld consistent Iskra-ism both as   regards tactics and as regards the personal composition of the central institutions of the Party.

I repeat that this grouping took final shape and became quite clear only post factum, towards the end of the Congress (which held close on forty sittings!), and I am anticipating when I outline it at the start. I must also make the reservation that this grouping only represents the approximate numbers of votes, for on various minor issues (and on one occasion—on the question of “equality of languages”, of which I shall speak later—on a major issue too) the votes not infrequently split, some delegates abstaining, the groups intermingling, and so on.

The composition of the Congress had been preliminarily determined by the Organising Committee,[15] which, under the Regulations for the Congress, had the right to invite to it in a deliberative capacity such persons as it might think fit. The Congress itself at the very beginning elected a Credentials Committee, which thereafter took charge of all matters relating to its composition. (Let me say in parenthesis that on this committee too there was a Bundist, who tried to take all the other members of it by siege, keeping them up until three o’clock in the morning, and who, even so, entered a “dissenting opinion” on every issue.)

The Congress was marked at the beginning by the peaceful and harmonious co-operation of all the Iskra-ists; there had always been different shades of opinion among them, of course, but they had never manifested themselves as political differences. Incidentally, let us state in advance that the split among the Iskra-ists was one of the major political results of the Congress, and anyone who wants to acquaint himself with the matter should therefore pay special attention to all episodes even remotely connected with that split.

One rather important event at the very beginning of the Congress was the election of the Bureau, or Presidium. Martov was for electing nine persons, who would select three from their number to act as the Bureau at each sitting, and he even suggested a Bundist as one of the nine. I was for electing only three persons for the whole duration of the Congress, and three, moreover, who would “keep order”. The Bureau elected consisted of Plekhanov, myself and   Comrade T[16] (a firm-line Iskra-ist and member of the Organising Committee, of whom we shall have frequent occasion to speak later). The last-named, I might remark, was elected by only a narrow margin in preference to a Yuzhny Rabochy-ist (also a member of the Organising Committee). My difference with Martov over the question of the Bureau (a difference significant in the light of subsequent events) did not, however, lead to any split or conflict: the matter was somehow settled in a peaceful, natural, “homely” way, as most questions generally were settled in the Iskra organisation and the Iskra editorial board.

Also at the beginning of the Congress, there was a meeting of the Iskra organisation (confidential and informal, of course) on the subject of its Congress mandates. This meeting likewise settled its business in a peaceful and amicable manner. I only mention this meeting because I think it significant, firstly, that at the beginning of the Congress the Iskra-ists worked together harmoniously, and, secondly, that they had decided to appeal, in doubtful and debatable cases, to the authority of the Iskra organisation (or, rather, of the Iskra organisation members present at the Congress); although the decisions of these meetings were not binding, of course, for the rule that “binding instructions are abolished” and that it was everyone’s right, and indeed duty, to vote at the Congress according to his own free convictions, without owing obedience to any organisation—this rule, I say, was recognised by all the Iskra-ists, and was loudly proclaimed by the chairman at the beginning of practically every meeting of the Iskra organisation.

To proceed. The first incident at the Congress to disclose that all was not well among the Iskra-ists, an incident that “set the scene” for the final drama (or tragicomedy?), was the celebrated "incident of the Organising Committee”. This must be dealt with at length. It occurred while the Congress was still engaged in constituting itself and discussing its Standing Orders (which, by the way, consumed a tremendous amount of time on account of the obstruction of the Bundists, who, deliberately or otherwise, never missed an opportunity to cause delay). The substance of the Organising Committee incident was that, on the one hand, that body had, even before the Congress opened, rejected the protest of the Borba   group,[17] which demanded representation at the Congress, and had stood by this decision in the Credentials Committee; and, on the other hand, on the floor of the Congress this same Organising Committee suddenly declared that it was inviting Ryazanov in a deliberative capacity. The course of events in regard to this incident was as follows.

Before the sittings of the Congress began, Martov confidentially informed me that a certain member of the Iskra organisation and of the Organising Committee (whom we shall call N[18]) had decided to insist in the Organising Committee that it invite to the Congress in a deliberative capacity a certain individual whom Martov himself could not describe otherwise than as a “renegade”.[19] (And it was true that this individual had inclined at one time towards Iskra but afterwards, within a few weeks, in fact, had gone over to Rabocheye Dyelo, even though the latter was already in a state of complete degeneration.) Martov and I discussed the matter and we were both indignant that a member of the Iskra organisation should do such a thing, knowing, of course (for Martov had warned Comrade N), that it was a direct slap in the face for Iskra, yet not considering it necessary even to consult the organisation. N did in fact put forward his proposal in the Organising Committee, but it was rejected owing to the vigorous protest of Comrade T, who described the wholly unstable political character of the “renegade”. It is worth noting that Martov, as he said, could not even speak any longer to N, although they had previously been on friendly personal terms, so shocked was he by this action. N’s wish to put spokes in Iskra’s wheel was further revealed in his supporting a vote of censure passed by the Organising Committee on the Iskra editorial board; a censure which, to be sure, concerned a very minor matter, but which nevertheless aroused Martov’s profound indignation. Furthermore, information from Russia, also communicated to me by Martov, indicated a tendency on N’s part to circulate rumours of dissension between the Iskra-ists in Russia and the Iskra-ists abroad. All this disposed the Iskra ists to be very distrustful of N; and on top of it all came the following. The Organising Committee had rejected the pro test of Borba; the Organising Committee members attending the meeting of the Credentials Committee (T and N) had   both (including N!!!) likewise spoken in the most emphatic terms against Borba. Yet during an adjournment at one of the morning sittings of the Congress, the Organising Commit tee suddenly held a meeting of their own “by the window” and decided to invite Ryazanov in a deliberative capacity! N was   i n   f a v o u r   of inviting him. T, of course, was categorically against, declaring moreover that the Organising Committee had no right to make such a decision inasmuch as everything relating to the composition of the Congress had already been referred to the Credentials Committee specially elected by the Congress for the purpose. Of course, the Yuzhny Rabochy members of the Organising Committee+ the Bundist+N outvoted Comrade T, and the decision went through.

T reported this decision to the Iskra editorial board, which (not all its members were present, but Martov and Zasulich were) unanimously decided, of course, to take the field at the Congress against the Organising Committee, for many Iskra-ists bad already spoken publicly at the Congress against Borba and it was impossible to yield on this issue.

When the Organising Committee (after the dinner interval) informed the Congress of its decision, T, in his turn, informed it of his protest. Thereupon a Yuzhny Rabochy member of the Organising Committee fell upon T and accused him of violating discipline (!), on the grounds that the Organising Committee had resolved not to disclose (sic!) this fact to the Congress. Naturally, we (Plekhanov, Martov and I) came down hard on the Organising Committee at that, accusing it of reviving binding instructions, violating the sovereignty of the Congress, and so on. The Congress supported us, the Organising Committee was defeated, and a resolution was adopted depriving the Organising Committee as a body of the right to influence the composition of the Congress.

Such was the “Organising Committee incident”. Firstly, it finally undermined the political confidence of many Iskra-ists in N (and strengthened their confidence in T); secondly, it not only proved, but palpably demonstrated how shaky the Iskra trend still was even in a central and, as it seemed, super-Iskra-ist institution like the Organising   Committee. It became clear that, besides the Bundist, the Organising Committee included 1) Yuzhny Rabochy-ists with their own specific policy, and 2) “Iskra-ists who were ashamed of being Iskra-ists”, and that only some of its members were 3) Iskra-ists who were not ashamed of being such. When the Yuzhny Rabochy-ists expressed a desire to discuss this deplorable incident with the Iskra editorial board (privately, of course)—Comrade N, it is very important to note, expressed no desire at that time to do so—the editorial board did discuss It with them, and I plainly told them that the Congress had definitely revealed an important political fact, namely, that there were many Iskra-ists in the Party who were ashamed of being Iskra ists and were capable, just to spite Iskra, of playing such a trick as inviting Ryazanov. So angry was I at this trick on N’s part, after he had spoken against Borba in the committee, that I publicly declared at the Congress that “comrades who have attended foreign congresses know what a storm of indignation is always aroused when people say one thing at committees and. another on the floor of the Congress”.[1] "Iskra-ists” who were afraid of being “reproached” by the Bundists with being “Iskra puppets”, and who for this reason alone played political tricks on Iskra, naturally could not inspire any confidence.

The Iskra-ists’ general distrust of N grew immensely when Martov’s attempt to discuss the matter with him resulted in N’s announcing his resignation from the “Iskra” organisation!! Thereafter the N “affair” was taken up in the Iskra organisation, whose members were outraged by such a resignation, and the organisation held four meetings on the subject. These meetings, especially the last, are extremely important, for it was there that the split among the Iskra-ists, chiefly over the composition of the Central Committee, definitely took shape.

But before embarking on an account of these meetings of the Iskra organisation (which, I once more repeat, were private and informal), let me say something about the work of the Congress. That work proceeded harmoniously for the time being, in the sense of all the Iskra-ists acting together,   both on the first agenda item (the position of the Bund in the Party), and on the second (the programme), and on the third (endorsement of the Central Organ of the Party). The united stand of the Iskra-ists ensured a big and solid majority at the Congress (a compact majority, as the Bundists ruefully called it!), although here too the “indecisives” (or “Marsh") and Yuzhny Rabochy-ists more than once displayed, on minor issues, their utter instability. The political grouping of not fully Iskra-ist elements at the Congress stood out more and more clearly.

To return to the meetings of the Iskra organisation. At the first of them it was resolved to request N to give an explanation, leaving it to him to say before whom of the members of the Iskra organisation he wished to do so. I protested emphatically against this approach, demanding that the political issue (the Iskra-ists’ lack of political confidence in N at this Congress) be separated from the personal issue (the appointment of a commission to investigate the reasons for N’s strange conduct). At the second meeting it was announced that N wished to give his explanation without T present, although he did not intend, he intimated, to say anything about T personally. I again pro tested and refused to be present at an explanation at which a non-member of the organisation could demand the withdrawal, even for a moment, of a member, when it was not that member he was going to discuss.I considered this an unworthy manoeuvre and a slap in the face for the organisation on N’s part: N did not even trust the organisation so far as to leave it to it to determine under what conditions the explanation should be given! At the third meeting, N gave his “explanation”, which failed to satisfy the majority of those present. The fourth meeting was attended by all the Iskra-ists; but it was   p r e c e d e d   by a number of important episodes at the Congress itself.

First of all, mention should be made of the “equality of languages” episode. It concerned the adoption of the pro gramme—the formulation of the demand for equality and equal rights in regard to language. (The programme was discussed and voted on point by point, the Bundists engaged in desperate obstruction, and practically two-thirds of the time of the Congress was spent on the programme!) On   this issue the Bundists succeeded in shaking the unity of the Iskra-ists, leading some of them to believe that Iskra objected to “equality of languages”, when actually all the Iskra editorial board objected to was this illiterate, in its opinion, bizarre and superfluous formula. A desperate struggle ensued, and the Congress was split in half, into two equal halves (with a few abstentions): about twenty-three votes (perhaps 23-25, 1 do not remember exactly) were on the side of Iskra (and the Iskra editorial board), and as many were against. The question had to be postponed, it was referred back to the committee, which found a formula that the Congress adopted   u n a n i m o u s l y. The equality of languages incident is important because it once more revealed the shakiness of Iskra-ism, plainly and definitely revealed the shakiness both of the indecisives (it was then, if I am not mistaken, that they were dubbed the Marsh, and by none other than the Iskra-ists of the Martov persuasion!) and of the Yuzhny Rabochy-ists, who were all against Iskra. Passions ran high and innumerable cutting remarks were flung at the Yuzhny Rabochy-ists by the Iskra-ists, especially the Martovites. One “leader” of the Martovites nearly came to blows with the Yuzhny Rabochy ists during the interval, and I hastened to. resume the sitting (at the urgent request of Plekhanov, who feared a scuffle). It is important to note that among these twenty- three staunchest of the Iskra-ists too, the Martovites (i.e., the Iskra-ists who subsequently followed Martov) constituted a   m i n o r i t y.

Another episode was the struggle over Paragraph I of the “Party Rules”. This was already the fifth item of the Tagesordnung,[2] towards the end of the Congress. (Under Item 1, a resolution against federalism was adopted; under Item 2, the programme; under Item 3, Iskra was adopted as the Central Organ of the Party;[3] under Item 4, the “delegates’   reports” were heard, part of them, that is, the rest being referred to a committee, for the time at the disposal of the Congress was already too short—both funds and endurance had been exhausted.)

Paragraph 1 of the Rules defines a Party member. The definition given in my draft was: “A member of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party is one who accepts its pro gramme and who supports the Party both financially and by personal participation in one of the Party organisations." In place of the words I have underlined, Martov proposed: “work under the control and direction of one of the Party organisations”. My formulation was supported by Plekhanov, Martov’s by the rest of the editorial board (Axelrod was their spokesman at the Congress). We argued that the concept Party member must be narrowed so as to separate those who worked from those who merely talked, to eliminate organisational chaos, to eliminate the monstrous and absurd possibility of there being organisations which consisted of Party members but which were not Party organisations, and so on. Martov stood for broadening the Party and spoke of a broad class movement needing a broad—i.e., diffuse— organisation, and so forth. It is amusing to note that in defence of their views nearly all Martov’s supporters cited What Is To Be Done?[4] Plekhanov hotly opposed Martov, pointing out that his Jauresist formulation would fling open the doors to the opportunists, who just longed for such a position of being inside the Party but outside its organisation. “Under the control and direction”, I said, would in   practice mean nothing more nor less than without any control or direction. Martov won: his formulation was adopted (by about twenty-eight votes to twenty-three, or something like that—I cannot recall exactly), thanks to the Bund, which, of course, at once sensed a loophole and brought all its five votes to bear to secure the adoption of “the worse alternative” (that is precisely how a Rabocheye Dyelo delegate explained his motive for voting for Martov!). The heated controversy and the voting on Paragraph I of the Rules once more revealed the political grouping at the Congress and demonstrated that the Bund+Rabocheye Dyelo could decide the fate of any issue by supporting the minority of the Iskra-ists against the majority.

It was after the debate and voting on Paragraph I of the Rules that the fourth (and last) meeting of the Iskra organisation took place. The disagreement among the Iskra-ists over the personal composition of the Central Committee had already become quite clear and had caused a split in their ranks: one section stood for an Iskra-ist Central Committee (in view of the dissolution of the Iskra organisation and the Emancipation of Labour group[20] and the need to complete Iskra’s work), the other—for admitting the Yuzhny Rabochy-ists too and for predominance of Iskra-ists of the “zigzag line”. The first section was categorically against N’s candidature, the other in favour of it. It was in a last attempt to reach agreement that this meeting of the sixteen (members of the Iskra organisation, including, I repeat, those present in a deliberative capacity) was called. The result of the voting was: nine against N, four in favour, the rest abstaining. The majority, anxious nonetheless to avoid war with the minority, thereupon proposed a compromise list of five, including one Yuzhny Rabochy-ist (acceptable to the minority) and one militant member of the minority, while the rest were consistent Iskra-ists (of whom—it is important to note—one joined in the fight at the Congress only towards the end and was to all intents and purposes impartial, while the other two took no part at all in the fight and were absolutely impartial as regards personalities). Ten hands were raised for this list (then one more was added, making eleven) and one against (only Martov’s!), the rest abstained! Thus the compromise   list was wrecked by Martov. After this, two “militant” lists, one from each side, were put to the vote, but neither secured more than a minority.

And so, at the last meeting of the Iskra organisation the Martovites proved in the minority on both issues; nevertheless, when a member of the majority (the above-mentioned impartial member, or chairman) approached them after the meeting in a last attempt to reach agreement, they declared war.

The Martovites’ calculation was clear and sure: the Bundists and Rabocheye Dyelo-ists would undoubtedly have supported the list of the zigzag line, for during the month the Congress had been sitting all issues had become so plain and all personalities so clearly delineated that not one of the Congress delegates would have had any difficulty in deciding which was the better alternative, or the lesser evil. And for the Bund+Rabocheye Dyelo, of course, the zigzag Iskra-ists were the lesser evil, and always will be.

After the meeting of the sixteen, when the Iskra-ists had definitely divided and war had been declared among them, meetings began of the two parties into which the Congress had split, that is, private and unofficial gatherings of all who thought alike. The Iskra-ists of the consistent line assembled at first to the number of nine (out of sixteen), then fifteen, and finally twenty-four, counting votes, not persons. This rapid increase was due to the fact that the lists of candidates (for the Central Committee) were already beginning to circulate, and the vast majority of the Iskra ists were immediately and permanently repelled by the Martovite lists because of their flabbiness: Martov’s candidates were people who had made a definitely bad impression on the Congress (by paltering, inconsistency, tactlessness, etc.). That in the first place; in the second place, when it was explained to the Iskra-ists what had taken place in the Iskra organisation, the bulk of them were drawn towards the majority, and Martov’s inability to stick to a definite political line became apparent to all and sundry. So it was that twenty-four votes were quickly and easily mustered for the consistent Iskra-ist tactics, for the list of Central Committee candidates, and for electing a trio to the   editorial board (instead of endorsing the old, ineffectual and amorphous board of six).

By this time the Congress had finished discussing the Rules, and Martov and Co. had once again (and not once, in fact, but several times) defeated the majority of the Iskra-ists with the generous assistance of the Bund+“Rabocheye Dyelo”—as, for example, over the question of co-optation to the central bodies (this question was decided by the Congress along Martov’s lines).

In spite of having been thus impaired, the Rules as a whole were endorsed by all the Iskra-ists and by the entire Congress. But after the general Rules, the Congress passed on to the Rules of the Bund, and by an overwhelming majority rejected the Bund’s proposal (to recognise the Bund as the sole representative of the Jewish proletariat in the Party). I think on this issue the Bund stood alone against practically the whole Congress. Thereupon the Bundists withdrew from the Congress, announcing their withdrawal from the Party. The Martovites had lost five of their faithful allies! Then the Rabocheye Dyelo-ists too withdrew, after the League of Russian Revolutionary Social-Democracy Abroad[21] was recognised as the sole Party organisation abroad. The Martovites had lost another two of their faithful allies! The total number of votes at the Congress was now forty- four (51—7), of which the majority (twenty-four) were those of consistent Iskra-ists; the coalition of the Martovites with the Yuzhny Rabochy-ists and the “Marsh” resulted in only twenty votes.

The Iskra-ists of the zigzag line were faced with the prospect of submitting—just as the Iskra-ists of the firm line had submitted without a murmur when Martov set out to beat and did beat them in coalition with the Bund. But the Martovites were so unbridled that instead of submitting they set out to cause a row and a split.

It was causing a row to raise the question of endorsing the old editorial board, for the request of even one of the editors would be enough to oblige the Congress to scrutinise the question of the composition of the Central Organ in its entirety, instead of confining itself to mere endorsement. It was a step towards a split to refuse to take part in the elections to the Central Organ and the Central Committee.

First as regards the election of the editorial board. As I have already mentioned, what the Tagesordnung said, in Item 24, was: election of the central institutions of the Party. And my commentary on the Tagesordnung[22] (which commentary was known to   a l l   the “Iskra”-ists long before the Congress and to all the delegates at the Congress) said marginally: election of   t h r e e   p e r s o n s   t o   t h e   C e n t r a l   0 r g a n   and three to the Central Committee. Hence it is beyond all doubt that the demand for the election of a trio originated within the editorial board itself and none of the editors protested against it. Even Martov and another Martovite leader defended the proposal for “two trios” prior to the Congress, before a number of delegates.

Several weeks before the Congress, I personally informed Starover[23] and Martov that at the Congress I would demand the election of the editorial board; I agreed to the election of two trios, the idea being that the editorial trio would either co-opt seven (or even more) persons or would remain as it was (I specially stipulated this latter possibility). Starover even said outright that the trio would mean Plekhanov+Martov+Lenin, and I agreed with him—so clear had it been to everyone all along that these alone could be elected to the leadership. One had to be actuated by resentment and pique and lose one’s head after the struggle at the Congress to proceed after the event to attack the trio as inexpedient and ineffectual. The old board of six was so ineffectual that never once in all its three years did it meet in full force. That may seem incredible, but it is a fact. Not one of the forty-five issues of Iskra was made up (in the editorial and technical sense) by anyone but Martov or Lenin. And never once was any major theoretical issue raised by anyone but Plekhanov. Axelrod did no work at all (he contributed literally nothing to Zarya[24] and only three or four articles to all the forty-five issues of Iskra). Zasulich and Starover only contributed and advised, they never did any actual editorial work. Who ought to be elected to the political leadership, to the   c e n t r e,   was as clear as daylight to every delegate at the Congress, after the month it had been in session.

To propose at the Congress to endorse the old editorial board was a stupid attempt to provoke a row.

It was stupid because it was futile. Even if the board of six had been endorsed, one member of it (myself, for example) would have demanded that it be reviewed, that the relations within it be examined, and the Congress would have been obliged to go into the matter all over again.

It was an attempt to provoke a row because non-endorsement was bound to be taken   a s   a n   i n s u l t—whereas in a new election there was nothing insulting whatever. The Central Committee was being elected—why not the Central Organ too? There was no question of endorsing the Organising Committee—why should there be any of endorsing the old editorial board?

Naturally, however, by demanding endorsement the Martovites provoked a protest at the Congress, the protest was taken as an insult, as an affront, as an attempt to oust them, to shut them out ... and all the bogy-tales began to be invented on which the fancy of idle gossips is now feeding!

The editorial board left the hail while the Congress discussed the election-or-endorsement issue. After a desperately hot debate, the Congress decided   n o t   t o   e n d o r s e   t h e   o l d   e d i t o r i a l   b o a r d.[5]

Only after this decision was taken did the ex-members of the editorial board return to the hall. Martov then got up and, in his own name and that of his colleagues, declined to stand for election, uttering all sorts of dreadful and wretched words about a “state of siege in the Party” (for blackballed Ministers?) and “emergency laws against particular individuals and groups” (such as those who, in the name of Iskra, try to palm off Ryazanov on it, and who say one thing at committees and another on the floor of the Congress?).

I replied to him by pointing to the incredible confusion of political ideas which had led to this protest against election, against the Congress making changes in official Party bodies.[6]

Plekhanov, Martov, and Lenin were elected. Martov again declined. Koltsov (who received three votes) likewise declined. Thereupon the Congress passed a resolution instructing the two members of the editorial board of the Central Organ to co-opt a third, when they should find a suitable person.

Next came the election of three members to the Central Committee—the name of only one of whom was disclosed to the Congress by the teller of the votes—and of the fifth member of the Party Council[25] (likewise by secret ballot).

The Martovites, followed by the whole of the “Marsh”, would not hand in their ballots and submitted a written statement to the Bureau to that effect.

This was manifestly a step towards a split, towards wrecking the Congress and refusing to recognise the Party. Yet when one of the Yuzhny Rabochy-ists said in so many words that he doubted (sic!) the validity of the Congress decisions, Martov, overcome by shame, controverted him, publicly declaring that he had no doubt as to their validity.

Unfortunately, these well-spoken and loyal words have been contradicted by the actions and behaviour of Martov (and of the Martovites)....

The Congress then entrusted the publication of the minutes to a Minutes Committee, and adopted eleven resolutions on tactical questions, viz.:

1) On Demonstrations;

2) On the Trade Union Movement;

3) On Work Among the Sects;

4) On Work Among the Student Youth;

5) On How To Behave Under Interrogation;

6) On Shop Stewards;

7) On the 1904 International Congress in Amsterdam;

8) On the Pberals (Starover’s resolution);

9) On the Pberals (Plekhanov’s resolution);

10) On the Socialist-Revolutionaries[26];

11) On Party Pterature.

Then, after a brief speech reminding the delegates that the decisions of the Congress were binding, the chairman closed the Congress.

Examining the behaviour of the Martovites since the Congress, their refusal to collaborate on the Central Organ (although officially invited by the editorial board to do so), their refusal to work on the Central Committee, and their propaganda of a boycott—all I can say is that this is an insensate attempt, unworthy of Party members, to disrupt the Party—and why? Only because they are dissatisfied with the composition of the central bodies; for, speaking objectively, it was o n 1 y over this that our ways parted, while their subjective verdicts (insult, affront, slurs, ousting, shutting out, etc., etc.) are nothing but the fruits of offended vanity and a morbid imagination.

This morbid imagination and offended vanity are leading directly to the most disgraceful scandal-mongering, when, without yet knowing or seeing anything of the activities of the new central bodies, people spread rumours about their being “ineffectual”, about Ivan Ivanovich “ruling with a rod of iron” or Ivan Nikiforovich[27] with an “iron hand”, and so on.

To try to prove that the central bodies are “ineffectual” by boycotting them is an unprecedented and unparalleled violation of Party duty, and no sophistry can conceal the fact: the boycott is a step towards disrupting the Party.

The Russian Social-Democratic movement is in the throes of the last difficult transition from the circles to a Party, from philistinism to a realisation of revolutionary duty, from acting by means of scandal-mongering and circle pressure to discipline.

Anyone who values Party work and action in the interests of the Social-Democratic labour movement will refuse to tolerate such wretched sophistries as a “legitimate” and “loyal” boycott of the central bodies; he will not allow the cause to suffer and the work to be brought to a standstill because a dozen or so individuals are displeased that they and their friends were not elected to the central bodies; he will not allow Party officials to be subjected to private and secret pressure through threats of non-collaboration, through boycotts, through cutting off of funds, through scandal-mongering and lying tales.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 6, p. 484.—Ed.

[2] Agenda.—Ed.

[3] It is highly important to note that the Congress Togesordnung, adopted, on my report, by the Organising Committee and endorsed by the Congress, contained two separate items: Item 3: “Establishment of the Central Organ of the Party, or endorsement of such”, and Item 24: ’Election of the central institutions oi the Party”. WThen one of the Jioboeheye Dyelo-ists asked (in connection with Item 3) what it was   we were endorsing, just a name?—we didn’t even know who the editors were to be!— Me r to v took the floor and explained that what was being submitted for endorsement was the Iskra   t r e n d, irrespective of persons, and that this would in no way predetermine the composition of the editorial board, for the election of the central institutions would follow under Item 24, and all binding instructions had been abolished.

These words of Martov’s (on Item 3, be lore the “Iskra"-ists had split) are of the utmost importance.

The explanation Martov gave fully accorded with our common understanding of the meaning of Item 3 and Item 24 of the Tagesor dnung .

After Item 3 Martov in his speeches at the Congress actually employed, time and again, the expression: the ex-members of the Iskra editorial board. —Lenin

[4] See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 347-529.—Ed.

[5] One Martovite made such a speech on this occasion that when he had finished a delegate called out to the secretary: “Don’t put a full stop, put a tear-drop!" Particularly fervent in their championship of the old editorial board were the mast inveterate “Marsh” men. —Lenin

[6] See present edition, Vol. 6, pp. 505-06.—Ed.

[7] The Account of the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., written at the time of the Bolsheviks’ bitter struggle against the disruptive, splitting activities of the Mensheviks after the Second Congress, played a big part in exposing the Mensheviks’ opportunist tactics and rallying the supporters of the majority. Until the publication of the Congress minutes (in January 1904) it was the only Party document dealing with the results of the Second Congress and the causes of the split in the Part.y. The ideas contained in it were further developed in subsequent articles, letters, and speeches by Lenin, and particularly in his book One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.

[8] Lenin here gives the figures of voting rights as they stood at the time of the Credentials Committee report at the second sitting of the Congress, on July 18 (31), 1903. 42 voting delegates had arrived at the Congress by then: 33 with one vote each, 8 with two votes each, and one of the two delegates from the Foreign Committee of the Bund also had two votes temporarily, pending the arrival of the other. After the arrival of this latter on July 22 (August 4), there were 43 voting delegates, 35 of them with one vote each and 8 with two.

[9] The Bund (General Jewish Workers’ Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia), founded at a congress of Jewish Social-Democratic groups held in Vilno in 1897, was an association mainly of semi-proletarian Jewish artisans in Russia’s western regions. It joined the R.S.D.L.P. at the First Congress (1898) “as an autonomous organisation independent only in regard to questions specifically concerning the Jewish proletariat” (The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences, and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, 1954, Part I, p. 14).

The Bund brought nationalist and separatist tendencies into the Russian working-class movement. Its Fourth Congress, in April 1901, voted to replace the autonomy relationship established by the First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. by a relationship based on the federal principle. This congress of the Bund also declared, in a resolution on methods of political struggle, that “the best way to draw the broad masses into the movement is the economic struggle”.

After the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. rejected its demand to be recognised as the sole representative of the Jewish proletariat, the Bund withdrew from the Party. It rejoined in 1900 on the basis of a decision of the Fourth (Unity) Congress.

Within the R.S.D.L.P., the Bundists always supported the opportunist wing (the Economists, the Mensheviks, the Liquidators) and fought against the Bolsheviks and Bolshevism. As against the Bolsheviks’ programme demand for the right of nations to self- determination, they called for national cultural autonomy. During the First World War the Bund took a social-chauvinist stand. In 1917 it supported the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government and fought on the side of the enemies of the Great October Socialist Revolution. In the years of foreign military intervention and civil war the Bund leadership joined forces with the counter revolution. At the same time, the Bund rank and file began to show a change of heart and favour co-operation with the Soviet government. In March 1921 the Bund dissolved itself, part of its member ship joining the Communist Party on the basis of the general rules of admission.

[10] Rabocheye Dyelo (Workers’ Cause) was an Economist journal, organ of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, published at irregular intervals in Geneva from April 1899 be February 1902 under the editorship of B. N. Krichevsky, P. F. Teplov (Sibiryak), V. P. Ivanshin, and later A. S. Martynov. Nine issues (three of them double ones, thus making twelve) appeared in all. The editorial board of Rabocheye Dyelo was the Economists’ centre abroad. It supported Bernstein’s slogan of “freedom of criticism” of Marxism, took an opportunist stand on the tactical and organisational problems of the Russian Social-Democratic movement, and denied the revolutionary potentialities of the peasantry. The journal propagated the opportunist idea of subordinating the workers’ political struggle to the economic and glorified spontaneity in the working-class movement, denying the leading role of the Party. One of its editors, V. P. Ivanshin, also took part in editing Rabochaya Mysl, organ of the avowed Economists, which Rabocheye Dyelo supported. At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., the Rabocheye Dyelo-ists represented the extreme Right, opportunist wing of the Party.

[11] The Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad was founded in 1894 in Geneva, on the initiative of the Emancipation of Labour group. The latter was at first the leader in it and edited its publications; but afterwards the opportunist elements—the Economist “younger group"—secured the upper hand. At the Union’s First Congress in November 1898 the Emancipation of Labour group refused to edit the Union publications; and at the Second Congress, in April 1900, it broke with the Union finally, withdrawing with its supporters from the Congress to establish an independent organisation called Sotsial-Demokrat.

[12] The League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class, organised by Lenin in the autumn of 1895, embraced some twenty Marxist workers’ study circles in St. Petersburg and was beaded by a Central Group led by Lenin. It was the first organisation in Russia   to link up socialism with the working-class movement, going over from the propagation of Marxism among a small number of advanced workers to political agitation among the broad masses of the proletariat; it was significant because, as Lenin put it, it was the rudiment of a revolutionary party based on the working-class movement and directing the class struggle of the proletariat.

On the night of December 8 (20), 1895, the League was dealt a severe blow: many of the leading members, headed by Lenin, were arrested. The first issue of its paper Rabocheye Dyelo (Workers’ Cause), all ready for the press, was also seized.

While in prison Lenin continued to direct the work of the League; he helped it with advice, smuggled out coded letters and leaflet texts, and wrote the pamphlet On Strikes (unfortunately not found so far) and his “Draft and Explanation of a Programme for the Social-Democratic Party” (present edition, Vol. 2, pp. 93-121).

Those of the old League members who escaped arrest helped to prepare and arrange the First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. and to draw up the Manifesto issued in its name. however, the long absence of the League’s founders, who had been exiled to Siberia, and above all of Lenin, gave freer scope to the opportunist policies of the Economist “younger group” of Social-Democrats, who from 1897 on preached through their newspaper Rabochaya Mysl the ideas of mere trade unionism and Bernsteinism. Beginning with the latter half of 1898 the leadership of the League was in the hands of the extreme Economists of the Rabochaya Mysl persuasion.

[13] Yuzhny Rabochy (Southern Worker) was a Social-Democratic group formed in the South of Russia in the autumn of 1900 around an illegal newspaper of that name (the first issue was published in January 1900 by the Ekaterinoslav Committee of the R.S.D.L.P., the twelfth and last—in April 1903). Among the members of the group and the editors of the paper were, at various times, I. K. Lalayants, A. Vilensky, 0. A. Kogan, B. S. Zeitlin, Y. Y. and Y. S. Levin, and V. N. Rozanov.

In contrast to the Economists, the Yuzhny Rabochy group considered the proletariat’s political struggle, the overthrow of the autocracy, to be the prime task; they opposed terrorism, upheld the need to develop a mass revolutionary movement, and carried out extensive revolutionary activities in the South of Russia. At the same time, they overestimated the role of the liberal bourgeoisie and ignored the importance of the peasant movement. As against the Iskra plan of building a centralised Marxist party by uniting all revolutionary Social-Democrats around Iskra, the Yuzhny Rabochy group advocated a plan of restoring the Party by creating regional Social-Democratic associations. A practical attempt to carry out this plan was made through convening in December 1901 a conference of the Party committees and organisations of the South, at which a League of Southern Committees and Organisations of the R.S.D.L.P. was formed, with Yuzhny Rabochy as its press organ. The attempt proved impracticable (as was the group’s entire organisational plan), and following wholesale arrests in the spring   of 1902, the League fell to pieces. In August 1902 those Yuzhny Rabochy members who remained at liberty entered into negotiations with the Iskra editorial board about working together to restore Party unity. The group’s statement of solidarity with Iskra (published in No. 27 of Iskra, November 1,1902, and in No. 10 of Yuzhny Rabochy, December 1902) was of much importance in consolidating the Social-Democratic forces. In November 1902 Yuzhny Rabochy joined with the Iskra organisation in Russia and the St. Petersburg Committee and Northern League of the R.S.D.L.P. in establishing the Organising Committee for convening the Second Party Congress, and they shared in that committee’s work. But in this period too the group did not adhere to the consistent revolutionary line and evinced separatist tendencies (proposing, for example, to set up another all-Russia newspaper in addition to Iskra). Lenin classed Yuzhny Rabochy among the organisations “which, while verbally recognising Iskra as the leading organ, actually pursued plans of their own and were unstable in matters of principle” (p. 211 of this volume). At the Second Party Congress the Yuzhny Rabochy delegates adopted a “Centre” position (that of “middling opportunists’, as Lenin called the “Centre").

The Second Party Congress voted to dissolve Yuzhny Rabochy, like all other separate, independently existing Social-Democratic groups and organisations.

[14] Iskra (The Spark) was the first all-Russia illegal Marxist newspaper; it was founded by Lenin in 1900, and it played a vital part in building the Marxist revolutionary party of the Russian working class.

It was impossible to publish the paper in Russia on account of police persecution, and while still in exile in Siberia Lenin evolved a detailed plan for its publication abroad. When his term of exile ended (January 1900) he at once set about putting his plan into effect. In February he negotiated in St. Petersburg with V era Zasulich (who had come illegally from abroad) on the participation of the Emancipation of Labour group. At the end of March and be ginning of April, Lenin, Martov (Y. 0. Zederbaum), A. N. Potresov, and S. I. Badchenko held a conference in Pskov with the “legal Marxists” P. B. Struve and M. I. Tugan-Baranovsky; this conference discussed Lenin’s draft declaration of the editorial board of the all-Russia newspaper (Iskra) and theoretical and political journal (Zarya) on the programme and aims of these publications. Lenin also travelled to various cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riga, Smolensk, Samara, Nizhni-Novgorod, Ufa, Syzran), establishing contacts with Social-Democratic groups and individual Social- Democrats and obtaining their support for Iskra. In August 1900, when Lenin arrived in Switzerland, he and Potresov held discussions with the Emancipation of Labour group on the programme and aims of Iskra and Zarya, on possible contributors, and on the membership and location of the editorial board. These negotiations very nearly ended in failure, but finally agreement was reached on all disputed questions.

The first issue of Lenin’s Iskra appeared in December 1900 in Leipzig; afterwards the paper was published in Munich, in London (from July 1902), and, beginning with the spring of 1903, in Geneva. Considerable help in getting the paper going was afforded by the German Social-Democrats Clara Zetkin, Adolf Braun, and others, by the Polish revolutionary Julian Marchlewski, who was living in Munich at the time, and by Harry Quelch, one of the leaders of the British Social-Democratic Federation.

The editorial board of Iskra consisted of Lenin, G. V. Plekhanov, Martov, P. B. Axelrod, Potresov, and Vera Zasulich. Its secretary in the initial days was I. G. Smidovich-Leman then, in the spring of 1901, the post was taken over by N. K. Krupskaya, who also conducted all Iskra’s correspondence with the Social-Democratic organisations in Russia. Lenin was actually editor-in-chief and the leading figure in Iskra. His articles in it dealt with all major issues in the work of building the Party and in the class struggle of the Russian proletariat, as well as with important developments in world affairs.

Iskra became the centre around which the unification of the Party proceeded and Party forces were mustered and trained. Party committees and groups adhering to Lenin’s Iskra line were formed In many places in Russia (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Samara, and others); and a conference of Iskra-ists held in Samara in January 1902 founded the Iskra Organisation in Russia. The Iskra-ist organisations grew up and worked under the immediate leader ship of Lenin’s associates and disciples—N. E. Bauman, I. V. Babushkin, S. I. Gusev, M. I. Kalinin, G. M. Krzhizhanovsky, and others. The paper played a decisive role in the fight for a Marxist party, in the defeat of the Economists and the unification of the scattered and isolated Social-Democratic circles.

On the initiative and with the immediate participation of Lenin, the Iskra editorial hoard drafted the Party programme (the draft was published in Iskra, No. 21) and prepared the Second Party Congress, which was held in July-August 1903. By the time of the Congress most of the local Social-Democratic organisations in Russia had associated themselves with Iskra, approved its programme, tactical line., and organisational plan, and recognised it as their leading organ. A special resolution of the Congress noted Iskra s exceptional role in the struggle to build the Party and adopted the paper as the Central Party Organ. The Congress appointed an editorial board consisting of Lenin, Plekhanov, and Martov; but Mar- toy, who insisted that all six of the old editors should be retained, refused to serve on the board, in spite of the Congress decision, and Nos. 46-51 of Iskra were edited by Lenin and Plekhanov. Subsequently Plekhanov went over to the Mensheviks and demand ed the co-optation to the board of all the old Menshevik editors whom the Congress had rejected. Lenin could not agree to this, and on October 19 (November 1), 1903, he resigned his editorship, he was co-opted to the Central Committee and struck at the Menshevik opportunists from this position. Issue No. 52 of Iskra was edited by Plekhanov alone. On November 13 (26), 1903, Plekhanov,   acting on his own and in violation of the will of the Congress, co-opted all the Menshevik ex-editors to the editorial board. Beginning with issue No. 52, Iskra became the organ of the Mensheviks.

[15] The Organising Committee for convening the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was originally elected at the Belostok Conference held in March (April) 1902, but soon after the conference all the committee members but one were arrested. At Lenin’s suggestion, a new Organising Committee was set up at a conference of Social- Democratic committees held in November 1902 in Pskov. On this committee the Iskra-ists had an overwhelming majority.

Under Lenin’s guidance, the Organising Committee carried out extensive preparatory work for the Second Congress. Draft Regulations for the convening of the Congress were adopted at a plenary session held in Orel in February 1903. Following this plenary session, members of the Organising Committee twice visited the local Party organisations with a view to assisting them in their work. With their participation, the local committees discussed the draft Regulations, after which the Organising Committee finally endorsed the Regulations and approved a list of the local organisations entitled under them to representation at the Congress.

The Organising Committee prepared for the Congress a detailed written report on its activities.

[16] T was the Bolshevik P. A. Krasikov (referred to in the Congress minutes as Paviovich).

[17] Borba (Struggle) was a group of writers residing abroad, which considered itself part of the R.S.D.L.P.; it took shape as an independent group in Paris in 1901. Since it departed from Social- Democratic views and tactics, engaged in disorganising activities, and had no contacts with Social-Democratic organisations in Russia, the group was not allowed representation at the Second Party Congress. It was dissolved by decision of that Congress.

[18] N or NN was the Menshevik Yekaterina Alexandrova (referred to in the Congress minutes as Stein).

[19] The “renegade” was I. V. Chernyshov: originally an Economist, he then went over to the Iskra organisation abroad but in April 1903 again deserted to the Economists.

[20] The Emancipation of Labour group was the first Russian Marxist group; it was founded by G. V. Plekhanov in Geneva in 1883. Apart from Plekhanov, the members were P. B. Axelrod L. G. Deutscb, Vera Zasulich, and V. N. Ignatov.

The Emancipation of Labour group did a great deal for the propagation of Marxism in Russia. They translated into Russian, published abroad, and distributed in Russia Marx’s and Engels’s Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx’s Wage-Labour and Capital,   Engels’s Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, and other works of the founders of Marxism; their work dealt a severe blow to Narodism. Plekhanov’s two drafts of a programme for Russian Social Democrats,written in 1883 and 1885 and published by the group,were an important step towards the formation of a Social-Democratic Party in Russia; and his essays Socialism and the Political Struggle (1883), Our Differences (1885), and The Development of the Monist View of History (1895) played a big part in spreading Marxist views. At the same time, however, the Emancipation of Labour group were guilty of serious errors; they clung to certain remnants of Narodnik views, underestimated the revolutionary capacity of the peasantry, and overestimated the role of the liberal bourgeoisie. These errors were the embryo of the future Menshevik views of Plekhanov and other members of the group. The Emancipation of Labour group had no practical ties with the working-class movement. Lenin pointed out that it “only founded Social-Democracy theoretically and took the first step in the direction of the working-class movement” (present edition, Vol. 20, “The Ideological Struggle in the Working-Class Movement").

At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. the Emancipation of Labour group proclaimed itself dissolved.

[21] The League of Russian Revolutionary Social-Democracy Abroad was founded in October 1901 on Lenin’s initiative, incorporating the Iskra-Zarya organisation abroad and the Sotsial-Demokrat organisation (which included the Emancipation of Labour group). The objects of the League were to propagate the ideas of revolutionary Social-Democracy and help to build a militant Social-Democratic organisation. Actually, the League was the foreign representative of the Iskra organisation. It recruited supporters for Iskra among Social-Democrats living abroad, gave the paper material support, organised its delivery to Russia, and published popular Marxist literature. The Second Party Congress endorsed the League as the sole Party organisation abroad, with the status of a Party committee and the obligation of working under the Central Committee’s direction and control.

After the Second Party Congress, the Mensheviks entrenched themselves in the League and used it in their fight against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. At the Second Congress of the League, in October 1903, they adopted new League Rules that ran counter to the Party Rules adopted at the Party Congress. From that time on the League was a bulwark of Menshevism. It continued in existence until 1905.

[22] This refers to the explanatory comments Lenin appended to his draft agenda and Standing Orders of tile Congress, submitted by him under the title “Programme for the Second Regular Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.".

[23] Starover—pseudonym of the Menshevik A. N. Potresov.

[24] Zarya (Dawn) was a Marxist theoretical and political journal published in Stuttgart by the editors of Iskra in 1901-02. Four issues appeared.

The following articles by Lenin were published in Zarya: “Casual Notes”, “The Persecutors of the Zemstvo and the Hannibals of Liberalism”, the first four chapters of “The Agrarian Question and the ’Critics of Marx"’ (the Zarya title was “The ’Critics’ on the Agrarian Question"), “Review of Home Affairs”, and “The Agrarian Programme of Russian Social-Democracy”. Zarya also printed theoretical articles by Plekhanov.

[25] The Party Council (1903-05), established under the Rules adopted by the Second Congress, was the supreme institution of the Party. The Council was to co-ordinate and harmonise the activities of the Central Committee and the editorial board of the Central Organ, to restore either of these institutions in the event of its entire membership no longer being able to function, and to represent the Party in relations with other parties. Convening the Party Congress was also the function of the Council, and it was obligated by the Rules to do so at stated intervals or at the demand of Party organisations together entitled to half of the votes at the Congress. The Council consisted of five members: two delegated by the Central Committee, two by the Central Organ, and the fifth elected by the Congress. The fifth member elected at the Second Congress was Plekhanov. Lenin was on the Council first as delegate of the Central Organ, then, after his resignation from the editorial board—as delegate of the Central Committee. After Plekhanov swung over to the Menshevik opportunists and they captured the Central Organ, the Council became a weapon in their fight against the Bolsheviks. Lenin battled consistently on the Council for Party unity, exposing the Mensheviks’ disruptive, splitting activities (pp. 145-87 and 435-43 of this volume). Under the Rules adopted by the Third Party Congress, the Party Council was abolished.

[26] The Socialist-Revolutionaries (S.R.s) were a petty-bourgeois party formed in Russia at the end of 1901 and beginning of 1902 through the amalgamation of Narodnik groups and circles, with the news paper Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (Revolutionary Russia; 1900-05) and the magazine Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii (Herald of the Russian Revolution; 1901-05) as its official organs.The views of the Socialist- Revolutionaries were an eclectic mixture of Narodism and revisionism; they tried, as Lenin put it, to “mend the holes in Narodism” with “patches of the fashionable opportunist ’criticism’ of Marxism” (see present edition, Vol. 9, “Socialism and the Peasantry"). They failed to see the class distinctions between proletariat and peasantry, glossed over the class differentiation and antagonisms within the peasantry, and rejected the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution. The individual terrorism which they advocated as the principal means of fighting the autocracy did great harm to the revolutionary movement, for it interfered with organising the masses for revolutionary struggle.

The Socialist-Revolutionaries’ agrarian programme envisaged the abolition of private ownership of the land and its transfer to the village communes on the basis of equalised tenure, and also the development of co-operatives of all kinds. There was nothing socialist in this programme of so-called “socialisation of the land”, since, as Lenin pointed out, abolition of private ownership of the land alone cannot end the domination of capital and the poverty of the masses. The actual, and historically progressive, content of the Socialist-Revolutionary agrarian programme was a struggle for the abolition of landlordism; objectively that programme expressed the interests and aspirations of the peasantry in the period of the bourgeois-democratic revolution.

The Bolsheviks exposed the Socialist-Revolutionaries’ attempts to masquerade as socialists, battled stubbornly with them for influence over the peasantry, and showed how harmful their tactics of individual terrorism were to the working-class movement. At the same time they were prepared, under certain conditions, to make temporary agreements with the Socialist-Revolutionaries in the struggle against tsarism.

The heterogeneous class character of the peasantry was responsible, in the final analysis, for political and ideological instability and organisational disunity among the Socialist-Revolutionaries and their constant vacillation between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat. There was a split in the Socialist-Revolutionary Party already in the years of the first Russian revolution (1905-07): its Right wing formed the legal Labour Popular-Socialist Party, akin in its views to the bourgeois Constitutional Democrats (Cadets); the “Left” wing took shape as the semi-anarchist Maximal ist League. During the years of reaction that followed the 1905-07 Revolution, the Socialist-Revolutionaries were in a state of complete ideological and organisational breakdown, and the First World War saw most of them adopt the standpoint of social- chauvinism.

After the victory of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1917, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, together with the Mensheviks and Cadets, were the mainstay of the counter-revolutionary bourgeois-landlord Provisional Government, of which leaders of the party (Kerensky, Avksentyev, Chernov) were members. In face of the revolutionary spirit of the peasantry, the “Left” wing of the party founded at the end of November 1917 an independent Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party and, in an effort to maintain their influence among the peasant masses, formally recognised the Soviet government and entered into an agreement with the Bolsheviks; but as the class struggle in the countryside developed, they set out to fight Soviet power. During the years of foreign military intervention and civil war, the Socialist-Revolutionaries actively supported the interventionists and whiteguard generals, engaged in counter-revolutionary subversion and plotting, and organised terrorist acts against Soviet leaders. After the civil war, they continued their anti-Soviet activities within the country and as whiteguard émigrés abroad.

[27] Ivan Ivanovich, Ivan Nikiforovich—an allusion to Gogol’s Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich.

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