V. I.   Lenin

Session of the Council of the R.S.D.L.P. (January 1904)

January 15-17 (28-30), 1904


I saw with pleasure from the speeches of both representatives of the Central Organ that they agree in principle that vigorous measures ought to be taken to establish actual unity in the Party. That already creates a certain common basis between us. As regards Comrade Plekhanov’s suggestion, I consider it necessary to say the following. Comrade Plekhanov suggests that I should single out from my draft resolution the most essential practical measures for removing the evils noted in Party life; the present resolution, he points out, has the character of an appeal. Yes, my proposal does have the character of an appeal—but then, that is just what it is meant to be. The idea of this “appeal”   is that the Council should, in the name of both the central bodies, draw a dividing line between what are permissible forms of struggle in the Party and what are not. I know that generally speaking—as such—the struggle is unavoidable; but there are different methods of struggle; after all. Some methods are absolutely abnormal and cannot be tolerated in any at all healthy party. And Comrade Martov was right in saying that besides a struggle of ideas there had also been what he called “organisational complications”.

We, gathered here not to engage in strife but to remove abnormal conditions in the Party’s life, can and should influence our other comrades by authoritatively indicating the bounds of struggle permissible in the Party. But I know no other ways of influencing people than by appealing to them. Singling out the practical suggestions would be point less here. As regards the statement of the Central Organ representatives that I merely point to the abnormal state of Party life, but do not go into its causes, I must say that this approach of mine is not accidental but quite deliberate, for I fear that if we touched this very tangled skein even ever so slightly, the result, instead of untangling it, would be to tangle it up still more. You have to remember, after all, that where that skein is concerned we are two equally interested and very subjective parties, so that any attempt to untangle it would certainly not be for us to make, but only for people who had nothing to do with the tangling. If we were to attempt it, we should find ourselves raking up various documents all over again, which, with the Council constituted as it is, would only lead to more ... scuffles.

Let us take as our starting-point the position as it exists, for there is no getting away from realities, and I am quite ready to agree with Comrade Martov that all the differences and conflicts are not to be removed by some pious homily. That is so; but then, who could act as arbiter in these regrettable aspects of our Party life? Not we ourselves at any rate, I am persuaded; no, it would have to be a wide circle of people—devoted practical revolutionaries who have had no part in the scuffles. While carefully steering clear of the causes of our dissensions, I shall, however, venture to illustrate my idea with one example from our recent past. The struggle has now been going on for five months. During this time   there have been, I should think, as many as fifty mediators who tried to put an end to the dissensions in the Party, but I only know of one whose efforts in this respect produced relatively useful, if very modest, results. I am referring to Comrade Travinsky,[1] a person who, let me point out, is up to the ears, so to speak, in positive practical revolutionary work, so that his attention has been occupied almost exclusively by that work and he has had no share in the dissensions. It is only these fortunate circumstances, I would say, that account for his peace-making attempts having had some modicum of success. I think that if people like that were to take a hand in analysing the causes of the unfortunate position in the Party, it would be possible to untangle the skein which now has us perplexed. We, how ever, should beware of going into the causes of the dissensions, for this could lead, against our own will, to our dealing one another new wounds (to use Comrade Martov ’s expression) in addition to the many old ones still very far from healed. That is why I am against analysing the causes and. favour looking for means that would at least keep the methods of struggle within more or less permissible bounds. There are only two alternatives: if it is possible to do some thing along these lines, then we must try to do it; but if not, if the contending sides are not to be influenced by authoritative suasion, the only remaining possibility is to apply to those third persons, uninvolved in the hostilities and engaged on their positive practical tasks, of whom I spoke before. I doubt whether we could ourselves convince one another of one or the other side being right. I don’t think that is possible.


[1] Travinsky—pseudonym of G. M. Krzhizhanovsky, member of the Central Committee.

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