V. I.   Lenin

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

May 31 (June 13) and June 5 (18), 1904[1]

Published: First published in 1930 in Lenin Miscellany XV. Published according to the text of the Council Minutes.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, publisher??, pubdate??, Moscow, Volume 7, pages 435-444.
Translated: Fineberg Abraham
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2002). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.README



Speeches Concerning An Inter-Party Conference, May 31 (June 13)


Does the Council wish to have the Polish Socialist Party proposal read out? (Plekhanov: “Yes, it would be desirable.”) “The Polish Socialist Party has always believed in the need for close association between the Polish and Russian social ist camps with a view to making the struggle against the common enemy—tsarism—more effective. Up to the present this was unfortunately not possible, with resultant inconveniences for both sides in their practical work. We there fore warmly welcome the re-establishment of the R.S.D.L.P. as a united whole, with central institutions responsible for all its activities, since this allows the first step to be taken towards what has long been our purpose. We realise that the prolonged absence of regular contacts between you and ourselves has given rise to a number of mutual misunderstandings and dissonances, which must be settled and smoothed out before the final framing of the desired agreement can be undertaken. Accordingly, our Central Working Committee has decided to propose to you that a conference should be held abroad at an early date at which delegates from your Party could discuss with three delegates of ours the possibilities and conditions for joint struggle by our two parties. The results of this conference could serve as the basis for an agreement to be concluded between the appropriate bodies of the B.S.D.L.P. and the P.S.P. Hoping for an early reply, etc.”

In reply to this letter the Central Committee asked the P.S.P. for fuller particulars as to the nature of the conference, the exact bodies to be represented, and the proposed time and place. It also inquired how the P.S.P. would feel about having the Polish Social-Democrats take part.

The P.S.P. replied with the following letter:

“Dear Comrades,

“We were somewhat surprised by your letter, for it seems to us that the answers to the questions it asks are already contained in our original letter. The conference we propose would be of a preliminary nature, to explore the possibilities of closer association between our parties; it could, for example, work out the draft of a permanent agreement.

“Our three delegates to negotiate with you have been appointed by the Central Committee, which is between congresses the highest authority in our Party. Presumably the delegates you appoint to negotiate with us will represent the corresponding authority in your Party, or whatever body the powers to conduct such negotiations are vested in.

“We would propose meeting at some place abroad. The actual spot is a secondary matter, though Vienna would suit us best. The delegates have been appointed by our Central Committee to negotiate with your Party, and not the Social- Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania, and there can therefore be no question of delegates from the latter participating.”

Those are all the documents relating to the P.S.P. overtures to our Party. I for my part would say that, with the P.S.P. refusing to invite delegates from the Polish Social-Democrats to the projected conference, we cannot accept its proposal. As to the proposal of the Finns, we could consent in principle to a preliminary conference. Accordingly I think our resolution could be formulated as follows:

“The R.S.D.L.P. consents in principle to a preliminary conference with representatives of various revolutionary and opposition parties, with a view to reaching agreement on certain specific issues.”

As regards Comrade Martov’s proposal for a prior conference of Social-Democratic groups only, I doubt whether this is advisable, because besides the Bund, the Polish Social-Democrats, and the Proletariat Party,[2] there are   other Social-Democratic organisations in the border regions, which it would hardly be convenient to invite to the conference, while if not invited they might be offended.


Comrades Axelrod and Martov say the Letts have two groups. (Martov: “Two trends.”) The way it comes out now is that we are to hold a conference with the one that gravitates towards the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Osvobozhdeniye and inclines towards terrorism (according to Comrade Axelrod), while the other group is very weak. We must find out more exactly how matters stand. If they are merely two trends, that is no concern of ours and we are joining forces with what is the Lettish Party. But if they are distinct groups, we may land in a very awkward position by choosing the wrong one. We must first find out both their strength and their complexion. As for the Caucasus, it should, 1 think, be brought into the conference. For that we must find out if there are Social-Democratic organisations there which could make common cause with us.



Speeches On Co-Optation to the Committees and the Right of the Central Committee To Appoint New Members to Them, June 5 (18)


In this resolution, irrespective of its practical conclusion, I would suggest altering the beginning. Since we cannot pass any decisions on the rights and wrongs of the Moscow dispute for lack of sufficient information, the resolution ought not to be linked up either with any disputes there have been. I would in general propose that where one part of an organisation lodges a complaint against the other, the other part should be notified, so as to have a chance to put its case too. For example, as regards the Moscow dispute things were not as Comrade Martov says they were. According to my information, three out of the five members wanted to co-opt two new members to the committee, and the rest were willing, only provided another member from their side was co-opted too, which would still have maintained—and even strengthened—the predominant trend. It was only the majority’s categorical refusal to agree to this combination that made the Moscow comrades want to invoke the Rules. And while one Central Committee member was in favour of the committee majority’s interpretation of the Rules, another Central Committee representative opposed it.

I say this only by way of a statement of fact and to have it recorded in the minutes. And so, I move that the beginning of Comrade Martov’s resolution be altered so that it   will lay down a definite ruling to operate henceforth, in the future. As for the ruling itself, I would suggest that all fractions be treated as a full unit.


This incident goes to show anew that in cases where one side lodges a complaint, the other side should at once be notified, so that it may offer its explanations. Only in that case shall we be in a position to adopt appropriate decisions on the disputes. According to our information, what happened was this. The Nikolayev Committee consisted of people belonging to the majority. Then all of them were arrested. Thereupon the Central Committee, or possibly a representative of it, appointed three members to the Nikolayev Committee, among them two who had not previously been in Nikolayev and one who had already worked there before and possessed numerous contacts. It may be that at the moment of the arrests this third one was not in Nikolayev either. When the Central Committee’s candidates arrived in Nikolayev, they already found there two minority members who wanted to work, and agreed to admit them. So the fact is that the three co-opted the two. That is how it was. To verify it, inquiries can be made of the committee members, if they have not been arrested yet.... (Mar toy: “They already have....”)

According to our information, the facts are quite different from what has been represented, and to my way of thinking the two majority members were right in acting as they did. The place where the candidates named by the Central Committee happen to be cannot serve as a reason for not admitting them. I again suggest passing a resolution to the effect that in cases of complaints both sides shall be given a hearing. As to the actual point at issue, I disagree with Comrade Martov’s resolution in principle. The Central Committee cannot be deprived of the right to appoint its own candidates to the committees. Of course, all authority is open to abuse, but to combat that evil there is control—in the form of the press, for example, or action by the Council, etc. I join in the view that in the co-optation of new members the question of group distinctions should not be allowed   to have any place. I do not know so far of a single case of the Central Committee forcing anyone upon a committee. All this talk of forcible appointment causes it to be very careful, and sheer tact restrains it from exercising its right.


There are a few comments I want to make. First of all I should like to point out that the claim that two of the candidates were sent to the Nikolayev Committee from Odessa or even by the Odessa Committee is based on some sort of misunderstanding. Most likely there was a Central Committee agent in Odessa, who duly took steps to re-establish the Nikolayev Committee after the arrests. At any rate we know quite definitely that these three people were appoint ed to it by the Central Committee, not anybody else. I say this in passing, so as to remove any possible misunderstandings on this score. Secondly, Comrade Martov’s statement that he too does not know of a single case of the Central Committee forcing its candidates on local committees is very important, particularly as the editorial board, through its agents, has full information about what goes on in the Party. As to the young woman who Comrade Martov says demanded to be co-opted to the Moscow Committee without a ballot, that example can hardly carry any weight, for we do not know either the circumstances of the case or the extent of her authorisation; and anyway, she was in fact admitted to the committee only after a ballot. Thirdly, I also think it very important to note Comrade Martov’s remark that in normal conditions the Central Committee’s power of influencing the composition of the local committees cannot be restricted. It has been said here that people accuse the Central Committee of artificially “manufacturing” the committees; but then, accusations of a similar nature are not infrequently to be heard against the Central Organ. And since, as acknowledged by Comrade Martov himself, there are in reality no such cases, and the whole thing comes down to no more than the possibility of them, I don’t think that is a sufficient reason for restricting the Central Committee’s powers, particularly as in practice the mere fact of such an approach will arouse a certain resentment. I am quite ready to concur   in Comrade Martov’s opinion that the two members of the Nikolayev Committee whom he speaks of are very valuable revolutionary workers—but then, they were, in point of fact, admitted to the committee.

In general, one may say that, precisely because of the various imputations that have been current recently, the Central Committee has acted with the greatest circumspection and has been in no haste to avail itself of its right to appoint new members to the local organisations. And I have nothing against these cautious tactics being formally laid down for a time, by way of precluding and putting an end to false rumours about the Central Committee.

As regards our point about notifying the other side in cases of a complaint being lodged, I move the following resolution: “The Party Council requests Party organisations, in all cases of a complaint or inquiry being addressed to it by any part of an organisation, immediately and fully to notify the other part of the organisation of the contents of that complaint or inquiry, for in order to settle disputes the Party Council must have a statement of both sides of the case. The same applies to complaints by one organisation against another.”[3]



Speech On the Newspaper Rassvet,[4] June 5 (18)

Unfortunately, there is not very much I can say in defence of Rassvet. So far this experiment does have to be acknowledged not altogether successful. Bonch-Bruyevich is not an experienced journalist and was entitled to expect help from other Party writers. This help was not forthcoming, and under the circumstances it is not fair to put all the blame for the failure on him alone. It is only five months so far since the beginning of publication. The paper may still get on its feet, particularly if other writers come to its aid. Something has, after all, been accomplished: contacts among the sects are broadening, both in America and in Russia. It should also be mentioned that financially this publication does not tax the Party’s resources, since it is financed out of other funds. I think closing it down would be premature and move that the experiment be continued.


[1] The Party Council session of May 31 and June 5 (June 13 and 18), 1904, was held in Geneva, with Lenin, Plekhanov, Noskov, Axel rod, and Martov attending. The first sitting discussed the convening of an inter-party conference of all revolutionary and opposition parties in Russia, and the forthcoming Amsterdam International Congress. The second dealt with internal Party affairs: 1) the right of the central Party institutions (the Central Organ and Central Committee) to recall their representatives from the Council; 2) the number of votes required under the Rules for effecting cooptation to the local committees; 3) co-optation to the committees and the right of the Central Committee to appoint new members to them; 4) the voting qualifications of Party organisations on the question of convening the Third Party Congress; and certain other items.

On the more important questions of internal Party life, Menshevik decisions were passed.

[2] The Proletariat Party was a socialist party formed in Poland in 1900 of groups that had broken away from the Polish Socialist Party (P.S.P.). While in general accepting the Social-Democratic programme, it believed in individual terrorism and the federal principle of organisation. The party stood for closer contact be tween the Polish and Russian revolutionary movement; its immedi ate aim was a democratic constitution for Russia with autonomy for Poland. The Proletariat Party did not play any noticeable part in the Polish revolutionary movement, and went out of existence after the Revolution of 1905-07.

[3] This resolution was unanimously adopted by the Council.

[4] Rassvet (Dawn) was a Social-Democratic paper for members of the religious sects, started under a decision of the Second Party Con gress. The first issue appeared in January 1904. Although the Party Council session in June 1904 ruled that publication be discontin ued, the paper went on appearing until September of that year. Nine issues were published in all.

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