V. I.   Lenin

Letter to Glebov (V. A. Noskov)

Published: Published in slightly abridged form in the pamphlet The Fight for a Congress, by N. Shakhov, Geneva, 1904. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, publisher??, pubdate??, Moscow, Volume 7, pages 466-473.
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.
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September 11, 1904

Dear Comrade,

You again repeat that the wish that I join the editorial hoard of the Central Organ was expressed “by the Central Committee”. And I for my part must repeat that this is, to say the least, inaccurate. When you formally stated that the Central Committee’s declaration had been adopted unanimously by a meeting of all its members but one, I replied immediately (August 18,1904) that this was not true. The declaration was signed by three Central Committee members[5] out of the recent total of nine; and these three quite unlawfully proclaimed Comrade Osipov no longer a member of the Central Committee, whereas he informed me in writing that he still considered himself a member. It was unlawful to declare that a comrade had resigned without having discussed the matter with him. Both the arguments with which you and your two colleagues tried to justify this unlawful act are patently unsound. You said that Comrade Osipov had formally announced his resignation at the preceding regular meeting of the Central Committee. That is not true, for at the end of May (that is, months after that meeting, which took place in February or March) the Central Commit tee still counted nine members, as is certified by the agreement of May 26, 1904, signed by three members of the Central Committee, and the letter appended to that agreement.[1] You said that after that Central Committee meeting Comrade Osipov had joined one of the local committees, which a member of the Central Committee would have had no right to do.   Comrade Osipov had already written to me on this point, stating that he had gone to take part in the local work in the district in question on the instructions of those very members of the Central Committee who now declare that he has re signed, and that he had not worked as a formal member of the committee. Besides, even if it were a fact that a member of the Central Committee had irregularly and in contravention of the Rules joined a local committee, it does not at all follow that to correct this irregularity he had necessarily to resign from the Central Committee, and not from the local committee. Lastly, you yourself had to admit in your letter to me that the meeting of the three Central Committee members was informed that Comrade Osipov’s resignation was a disputed matter. That this disputed matter should have been decided by three Central Committee members in the absence of Osipov, and without even hearing his opinion, was a patent and outrageous piece of lawlessness. Of course, the three Central Committee members could count on the support of the Party Council, which is controlled by the editors; of course, the three Central Committee members could rely on their formal or tacit compact with the minority adherents on the Council. But that does not make their action lawful; on the contrary, it aggravates its unlawfulness by elements of political bad faith. Similarly, it was unlawful for the three Central Committee members to accept the resignation of Comrade Travinsky, of which all members of the Central Committee had not been informed prior to the meeting. To this day you have not been able to tell me exactly when this resignation was tendered, and to whom. You disposed of the matter with a reply that sounded like a sneer: “Make inquiries of the collegium in Russia”—that is, the “collegium” (that very same collegium of three!) from which you had just come and with which I have no means of communicating except through you!!

Hence, I challenge the lawfulness of the composition of the Central Committee and of its last meeting (at which the “declaration” was adopted). I should therefore be fully entitled to leave unanswered your proposal that I join the editorial board of the Central Organ. But I regard this proposal as coming not from the Central Committee but from three members of the Party, and consider it my duty to   give a reasoned reply, the more so since you say it is the wish of the editors of the Central Organ, stated to you in writing, to have me on the editorial board.

You suggest that my joining the editorial board of the Central Organ “would secure almost complete peace in the Party, which you are so anxious to have”. This “almost” of yours is highly significant! Yes, I am anxious to have peace in the Party. I made an offer of peace in printed form in December 1903, in my “Letter to the Editors of Iskra (Why I Resigned from the Editorial Board)”.[2] I made another offer of peace, officially, in the Party Council in January 1904.[3] Peace was not accepted on the terms I offered then on behalf of the majority. I may remark that, contrary to the present fashion of mouthing hypocritical phrases about “peace”, when by peace is meant complete sur render to the minority, complete ignoring of the majority, and complete oblivion of the Congress, I said quite definitely in the Council what I understood by peace in the Party. With my then fellow delegate from the Central Committee on the Council, I plainly stated that by peace I meant purging the ideological struggle of all contention over post and place, of all squabbling and underhand methods of fighting. Let the minority have the Central Organ and the majority the Central Committee, I proposed then, let us call on everyone to stop all boycotts and all squabbling over posts and co optation and argue out our differences and the causes of our divergence at the Congress in a comradely manner; let us train the Party to discuss its internal disagreements in an honest and dignified way. My appeal was ridiculed by Plekhanov and Martov. I am not surprised that they took the disgraceful decision to withhold publication of the Council minutes (in spite of the insistence of the minority of the Council, namely, the two representatives of the Central Committee), or that the three Central Committee members have now (clandestinely) endorsed that decision. People who would arrange a hypocritical peace, taking advantage of the accidents unavoidable in the lives of Russian revolutionaries and ousting from the Central Committee those who   think differently from themselves,[4] are bound to want to conceal from the Party membership a timely attempt to achieve an honest peace. Fortunately, I have reason to believe that this miserable trick to deceive the Party will not succeed and that the Council minutes will see the light after all.

When the editors who had usurped control of the Council scornfully rejected my offer of peace, I declared then and there that I considered a congress the only honest way out. The tactics of the minority (including Plekhanov)—to keep control of the editorial board of the Central Organ and the Council and claim to represent on these central bodies the interests of the Party as a whole while in fact trying to secure, without a congress, a remodelling of the Central Committee in the interests of the minority—such tactics I cannot regard as honest fighting. I have never entered, and do not deem it possible to enter, into any bargains with people who follow such tactics. Besides, since January the complexion of the new Iskra has become quite clear; it is a central organ of tittle-tattle and squabbling, of muddled thinking and of flirting with the opportunists, of settling personal scores and searching out points of difference. That the new Iskra is the organ of a circle, the organ of a new “trend”, is now clear to everyone, even to the editors themselves, who initially set themselves up as champions of “continuity” and now systematically drag the old Iskra through the mire. And so, in what sense can one now speak of peace? If by peace is meant purging the ideological struggle of squabbles over co-optation, I am still quite ready to agree to peace and to renew the proposal I made in the Council. But if by peace is meant cessation of the ideological struggle, conciliation with the line, or rather with the complexion of the new Iskra, for it has no such thing as a line, then such a “peace   can only be pro posed by unprincipled or hypocritical people, or by people for whom the organs of the Party are so much newsprint (Druckerschwt’jrze, printer’s ink, as one of the “conciliators” called the writings of the new Iskra). If the editors of the   new Iskra, whose position of “principle” has amounted almost entirely to personal attacks on me, to a hue and cry against what they have dubbed “Leninism”, and to a searching out of differences with me, now express the wish to have me on the editorial board, they are only admitting thereby that they do not take their own writings seriously, that they invented the whole controversy just “for the sake of co-optation” and are prepared to throw all their new “principles” overboard once co-optation has been secured. As for me, I reject as unworthy the very suggestion that the majority could give up a Party struggle for its position, for the consistent line, against the circle spirit. In common with all principled supporters of the majority, whose numbers in Russia are growing, I consider it my inalienable right and duty to carry on this struggle. And it should, in my view, be carried on openly, for nine-tenths of the history of the conflict is already public knowledge and any further attempts to conceal it from the eyes of the world would only be a petty and senseless prolonging of the crisis.

You write that “numerous committees, too, undoubtedly wish” to see me join the present Iskra editorial board. I note with regret that here too you are uttering a deliberate untruth. In the present circumstances of the struggle, not one committee has up to now expressed any such wish. It has only been expressed by the editorial circle of the Central Organ and by three members of the Central Committee, who consider it the acme of political wisdom to join the minority in abusing the majority and the majority in abusing the minority. I make bold to believe that my duty is to heed, not the will of any group of politicians, but the will of the entire Party, which has also laid down the method of giving formal expression to that will, viz., the congress. I make bold to believe that a leader who adopts a certain line at the congress and leads a section of the Party along that line forfeits every claim to respect or even to having his words taken seriously if he then deserts to the side of his opponents.

Your reference to “numerous committees” is very instructive and significant, in spite of its ... divergence from the truth. It points to a shred of Party conscience, to some little   recognition of the fact that official institutions appointed by the Party must take cognisance of the Party’s will when they undertake to revise the composition and line of the central bodies. If this recognition were not obscured in you by the confused position you have adopted, you would have no difficulty in seeing that there is no other way of really ascertaining the real wishes of really numerous committees than by convening a congress. But while your reference to “numerous committees” betrays a shred of Party conscience, it also points very clearly to an uneasy conscience. You fear a congress like the plague because you realise that your policy of adventures glaringly conflicts with the will of the Party.

My general views as to the hypocrisy of your peace-making are fully borne out by a number of additional facts. The three Central Committee members now admire the “high standard” of the Central Organ, while in March these very same three members of the Central Committee drew up a statement expressing regret that certain Party writers (the majority of the present editorial board of the Central Organ) should have lapsed into opportunism. While talking about “peace”, these three Central Committee members dissolve the Southern Bureau (an agent body of the Central Committee) because majority adherents have been working on it and have had the audacity to agitate for a congress. While talking about reconciling the two contending sides, the three Central Committee members arrange a conference with representatives of one side, ignoring the other. What demoralisation is brought into the Party by these private, hole-and-corner transactions, which affect the whole Party’s vital interests and which are so carefully kept from its knowledge, when there is absolutely no necessity for secrecy precautions! How much mutual distrust and suspicion is brought into the Party’s whole life by these tricks behind the back of the Party! Only today I received a letter from a comrade in Russia describing the rumours that are circulating in connection with these transactions: it is said in Party circles that three sections have developed among the minority; one insists on the co-optation of Dan and Trotsky to the Central Committee, and will not hear of anything else; the second agrees to a conference; the third contents itself with the Central Committee’s declaration, and this section includes   the Yuzhny Rabochy-ists (who quite rightly interpret t he starting of a popular organ as nothing but a masked re establishment of Yuzhny Rabochy, which the Congress closed down). I do not know what truth there is in this Party gossip. But that the minority consists of heterogeneous groups, that Comrade Brouckbre, for example, probably takes no part at all in the minority’s “ultimatums” or the co-optation squabble generally, and that the Yuzhny Rabochy group represents quite a distinct shade—these are all generally known facts, with which everyone who has studied our Party Congress is familiar. Can you really not see how degrading is all this huckstering of various groups behind the back of the Party? Is it surprising that the hypocrisy of the three Central Committee members is earning them the utter distrust of the majority, which stands aloof from all this trickery? Is it surprising that a “peace” inaugurated by dismissing people who agitate for a congress should be regarded as a prelude to the systematic faking of Party opinion? Is it surprising that the majority should suspect a deal between the Central Committee and the Central Organ (and, consequently, the Council) to force minority adherents upon the committees, to withhold publication of majority resolutions (the St. Petersburg and Ekaterinoslav resolutions have been withheld for months already), etc., etc.?

I hope you will now understand why, with the present situation in the Party, there can be no thought of my joining the editorial board of the Central Organ.

Your statement that I “abstained” from voting on the co optation of three new members to the Central Committee is not true. I emphatically protest against considering “the elections as valid”. This is another piece of lawlessness. It is the duty of all three Central Committee members to consider my protest, and only after that can they raise the question of co-optation. According to the Rules, co-optation must be unanimous; my consent has not been given. Consequently, without the matter being taken to the Council there can be no talk of the co-optation being valid. The decision of the Council (if you unlawfully take the co optation issue there before a scrutiny of the composition of   the Central Committee has been made by all its members) must be sent to me together with the Council minutes.

I cannot share your regret at our not having met. After your tricks with regard to Comrade Osipov and your attitude to your pledged word (agreement of May 26, 1904), I do not wish to have anything to do with you except in a purely official way, and only in writing.

Central Committee member N. Lenin


[1] See pp. 426-29 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] See pp. 119-25 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] See pp. 147-49 of this volume.—Ed.

[4] This applies in the first place to Comrade Osipov, and secondly to me too, of course, for to propose that I join the editorial board of the Central Organ amounts to proposing that I resign from the Central Committee. —Lenin

[5] The “July Declaration” (see Note 139) was signed by the concilia tors Krasin, Noskov, and Galperin, referred to on p. 467 as the Central Committee “collegium in Russia”.

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