V. I.   Lenin

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

January 15-17 (28-30), 1904


Speeches On Measures to Restore Peace In the Party, January 15 (28)


I think It necessary to reply mainly to the detailed objections advanced by Comrade Martov; but so as not to leave Comrade Plekhanov’s objections unanswered either, I shall first touch briefly on these. My impression was that he was in principle in favour of proportional representation.... (Plekhanov: “No!") Perhaps I misunderstood him, but that was my impression. In our Party organisation the principle of proportional representation is not practised, and the sole criterion of the lawfulness of the composition of any body whose members were elected at a congress is the clearly expressed will of the congress majority. But we are told here that the lawful elections at the Congress have produced a “lawful” state of affairs that is worse than an unlawful one. That is true, but why is it so? Is it because the majority was a slight one, or because the minority has in effect brought about a split? When people talk about the Central Committee having been elected by only twenty-four votes, that is, by a tiny margin, and claim that that is the reason for all the unhappy complications in Party life since, I declare that that is not so. As to Comrade Plekhanov’s remark about my “formalistic mentality” preventing me from going to the root of the matter, I must say I am at a loss to know what, properly speaking, this means. Perhaps the “root of the matter” lies in the Congress? In that case we are all formalists, for, casting our minds back to the Congress, we must go by its formal decisions. If, on   the other hand, the “root of the matter” lies outside the Congress, just where does it lie? Yes, the way things have gone, the state of affairs in the Party is worse than unlawful (a very serious thing to say), but the whole question is, why has this happened? Is the Congress to blame, or what occurred after the Congress? Unfortunately, Comrade Plekhanov does not put the matter like that.

I turn now to the remarks of Comrade Martov. He asserts that the minority does not and did not refuse to work together with us. That is not true. For three months—September, October and November—many representatives of the minority gave practical proof of not wanting to work together with us. In such cases the boycotted side only has one course open to it—to make an agreement, a deal with the “offended” opposition that refuses to work and is leading the Party towards a. split, for this very fact of refusing to work together is nothing but a split. When people tell you point- blank that they will not work with you, thus proving in practice that the “united organisation” is simply a fiction, that, actually, it has already been wrecked, they are certainly advancing a shattering, if not a convincing, argument.... I pass on to Comrade Martov’s second objection—concerning the resignation of Comrade Ru[1] from the Council. This question involves two separate issues. In the first place, was it in order for Ru to be appointed to the Council from the editorial board when he was not himself a member of the board? I think it was in order. (Martov: “Of course it was!") Please enter Martov’s interjection in the minutes. Secondly, are Council members subject to recall at the will of the bodies that delegated them? This is an intricate point, which can be interpreted both ways. In any case, the fact is that Plekhanov, who from November 1 onwards remained the sole member of the editorial board, did not recall Ru from the Council right up to November 26, when Martov and Co. were co-opted. Ru resigned of his own accord, it was a con cession on his part so that no controversy should start over him. (Plekhanov: “It seems to me that arguments about Comrade Ru are out of place here. The question is not on our agenda and I don’t see why we should waste precious time discussing what for us is an extraneous matter.") I must point out that at our last meeting Comrade Martov asked   to have entered in the minutes his explanation on this point— an explanation with which I totally disagree—so that if the other side is not allowed to give its opinion on the subject too, the picture given here in the Council will be a one- sided, incorrect one. (Plekhanov: “I wish to emphasise that the question is not on the agenda and has no direct bearing on the main subject under discussion.")

Lenin, protesting against this formulation, appeals to the Council to decide as to his right to give his own account, as against Martov’s, of a fact meeting here with such divergent interpretations. (Plekhanov again indicates that discussion of the question of Ru is out of place.)

Lenin insists on his right to appeal to the Council for permission to speak on a point that has already been brought up in the Council and has aroused argument. (Mar toy: “Since Comrade Lenin has raised the very important question of the right of the bodies represented on the Council to recall their delegates, let me state that I shall table a special motion to have this question settled once and for all. Perhaps this statement will satisfy Lenin and induce him to drop this matter of Ru from the present discussion.")

Comrade Martov has not only not disproved but has confirmed that I am right in my intention to present Comrade Ru’s resignation from the Council in its proper light here and now. Please note that my explanations on this point have only been in answer to Comrade Martov’s remarks concerning it. (Plekhanov informs Martov and Lenin that the question of Ru is not subject to present discussion, as not being among the problems on which the attention of the Council should at this session be centred.) I protest against Comrade Plekhanov’s statement that it is out of place to discuss the question of Comrade Ru, who held that Council members were not recallable; so that his resignation from the Council must be viewed as a concession made to the opposition in the interests of peace and good will. in the Party. (Plekhanov: “Since the Council apparently has nothing against an exchange of opinion on the subject of Comrade Ru, by all means let Lenin go on with it.") I have already finished. (Plekhanov: “If you have finished, I suggest that the Council should now discuss the resolutions moved yesterday by Comrade Lenin and myself.")

I agree with Comrade Martov that the Council resolutions would have, not juridical, but moral significance. Comrade Plekhanov has suggested that it would be desirable if I were to join the editorial board. (Plekhanov: “I did not say that.") At any rate, those were your words as I noted them down: “The best thing would be if Lenin joined the editorial board and the Central Committee co-opted three." (Plekhanov: “Yes, I said that under certain conditions, in order to secure peace in the Party, Comrade Lenin might be included on the editorial board and minority representatives co opted to the Central Committee.")

Answering the question put to me as to just what change the editorial board of the Central Organ would be considered desirable, it would be easy for me to cite the opinion of the “majority”, who have indicated the desirability of Comrades Axelrod, Zasulich, and Starover leaving the board. Further, I must point out that in the activities of the Central Committee there has not been a single case of anyone being barred from Party work. Similarly, I cannot leave without protest Comrade Martov’s statement that the Central Committee became an instrument of warfare of one side against the other. The Central Committee was appointed as an instrument for the performance of Party functions, not as an instrument of “warfare of one side against the other”. This assertion of Comrade Martov’s is completely contrary to the facts. No one can cite a single fact to show that the Central Committee started and waged “war” on the minority. On the contrary, it was the minority that, by its boycott, made war, which inevitably provoked resistance. Then, too, I protest against the assertion that the alleged lack of confidence in the Central Committee hinders peaceful positive work more than the lack of confidence in the Central Organ. As to the centre of the discord not lying abroad, but in Russia, as Comrade Martov insists is the case, I have to say that the Party documents will prove the reverse. Comrade Martov, referring to the document of November 25,[2] said that the Central Committee had itself admitted in principle that its composition was one-sided, since it had agreed to co-opt two of the minority. I protest against this interpretation of that document, for I myself had a share in drawing it up. The Central Committee’s action had an entirely   different significance. It was not because it acknowledged its composition to be one-sided that the Central Committee agreed to this co-optation of two, but because we saw what was virtually a complete split in the Party. Whether the picture we formed of the situation was right or not is another matter.... Rumours reached us that preparations were going on for publishing a new organ.... (Plekhanov: “If we are going to bring in rumours, we shall get nowhere." Axelrod: “I for my part have heard that preparations for publishing a new organ are going on now....") I appeal to the Council: since Comrade Martov has interpreted the Central Committee document in a certain way, I am obliged to present my own interpretation of it.... I do not understand why my remark has occasioned so much excitement. (Plekhanov: “It is not a matter of excitement but of references to rumours being out of place.") I may be told that my motives were not valid. Perhaps not. But I put on record in any case that they were of the nature I have just indicated.

To resume: Comrade Martov has impugned the Central Committee’s motives in agreeing to the co-optation of two. But I declare that the Central Committee was actuated by the conviction that a virtual split already existed in the Party and that we were on the eve of a complete formal split, in the sense of the publication of a separate organ, separate transport arrangements and a separate organisation in Russia. Now on a point of procedure: Comrade Martov’s remark had to do with the substance of the question, not with procedure. And I want to ask the Council: was the chair man right in acting as he did in this case?


[1] Ru—pseudonym of L. Y. Galperin, also referred to as Y. Valentin, and Konyagin.

[2] The document in question was the Central Committee’s ultimatum of November 12 (25), 1903, presented to the Mensheviks on Lenin’s proposal.

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