V. I.   Lenin

The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

April 12 (25)-April 27 (May 10), 1905



Speech on the Question of the Relations Between Workers and Intellectuals within the Social-Democratic Organisations

April 20 (May 3)

I cannot agree with the comrades who said it was inappropriate to broaden the scope of this question. It is quite appropriate.

It has been said here that the exponents of Social-Democratic ideas have been mainly intellectuals. That is not so. During the period of Economism the exponents of revolutionary ideas were workers, not intellectuals. This is confirmed by “A Worker”, the author of the pamphlet published with a foreword by Comrade Axelrod.

Comrade Sergeyev asserted here that the elective principle will not make for better information. That is not so. if the elective principle were applied in practice, we should unquestionably be much better informed than we now are.

It has also been pointed out that splits have usually been the work of intellectuals. This is an important point, but it does not settle the question. In my writings for the press I have long urged that as many workers as possible should be placed on the committees.[1] The period since the Second Congress has been marked by inadequate attention to this duty—such is the impression I have received from talks with comrades engaged in practical Party work. If in Saratov only one worker was placed on the committee, this means that they did not. know how to choose suitable people   from among the workers. No doubt, this was due also to the split within the Party; the struggle for the committees has had a damaging effect on practical work. For this very reason we endeavoured in every way possible to speed the convening of the Congress.

It will be the task of the future centre to reorganise a considerable number of our committees; the inertness of the committee-men has to be overcome. (Applause and booing.)

I can hear Comrade Sergeyev booing while the non-committee-men applaud. I think we should look at the matter more broadly. To place workers on the committees is a political, not only a pedagogical, task. Workers have the class instinct, and, given some political experience, they pretty soon become staunch Social-Democrats. I should be strongly in favour of having eight workers to every two intellectuals on our committees. Should the advice given in our Party literature—to place as many workers as possible on the committees—be insufficient, it would be advisable for this recommendation to be given in the name of the Congress. A clear and definite directive from the Congress will give you a radical means of fighting demagogy; this is the express will of the Congress.



[1] A Letter to a Comrade on Our Organisational Tasks, September 1902. See present edition, Vol. 6, p. 237.—Ed.

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