V. I.   Lenin



To Comrade Olin, who signed as secretary of the Geneva group of the R.S.D.L.P. organisation abroad

Decision of the C.C. representative abroad, which must be read out in full at the next meeting of the group (i.e., today, August 29, if this decision arrives during the meeting).[2]

Written: Written August 29, 1905, in Geneva (local mail)
Published: First published in 1931. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 330-332.
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcription\Markup: D. Moros
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2005). 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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Today, August 29, 1905, at 8 p.m., copies of the letter from the Geneva group to the forwarding office and of the reply of the latter to the former reached the C.C. representative abroad.

In connection with these documents, the representative abroad of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. points out to the Geneva group that it has displayed lack of understanding of Party discipline and has violated the Party Rules. The forwarders are agents of the Central Committee. Any dissatisfaction with C.C. agents is a matter for examination primarily by the Central Committee itself. According to the Rules, the C.C. deals with all conflicts arising within the Party, and particularly so in the case of conflicts between members of the Party’s various organisations and C.C. agents. Therefore, by inviting C.C. agents to a meeting of the group, the latter took a step that was, formally speaking, incorrect in general and tactless in particular.

If, however, this invitation was not supposed to be a formal act, then it should not have been made in writing and officially.

The “personal behaviour” of “officers” is either merely personal (unconnected with and independent of the office they hold), in which case its investigation by the group amounts to squabbling; or else, the personal behaviour   has to do with the office, in which case every Party member, who is dissatisfied with this behaviour, and who insists on a formal, official investigation, is obliged first and fore most to address himself formally to the C.C. The Geneva group of the R.S.D.L.P., by allowing questions concerning dissatisfaction with C.C. agents to “come up” before the group as a matter of formal examination prior to this being formally reported to the C.C., has thereby again showed failure to understand the discipline and Rules of the Party.

The difference I have just mentioned between squabbling and criticism of an officer (criticism which is obligatory for every Party member, and which should be made in an open way and addressed directly to the central institutions or the Congress, and not underhand, private, parochial criticism), this difference is evidently not clearly grasped by the group.

The C.C. representative abroad therefore considers it his duty to warn all young comrades of the group. In the “colonial” conditions of life abroad people can always be found who are liable to contract the disease of squabbling, gossip and tittle-tattle, people who very badly fulfil the functions which the C.C. or the Congress entrusts to them, but who are eager to gossip about the unsatisfactory fulfilment of other functions by other Party members. Some comrades, through inexperience, curiosity or spinelessness, may often listen seriously to these people. Such people, however, should not be listened to, but should be sharply called to order and not allowed to raise formal questions concerning the “personal behaviour of officers” until these questions have been formally submitted for consideration to the appropriate Party institutions and examined and decided by them.

Party members abroad easily succumb to the disease I have indicated, but all young comrades with healthy nerves should keep a strict eye on themselves and others, for the only way of combating this disease is to see to it that any inclination towards squabbling and tittle-tattle is immediately and relentlessly nipped in the bud.

That is why the C.C. representative abroad has decided:

I. To request the Geneva group to withdraw its letter of August 28 to the forwarding office.

This would be the best and speediest way of ending a bad business which, by the very force of events, threatens to lead to the most unpleasant quarrels and rifts.

The group is not obliged, of course, to meet the request which I am making in the name of the C.C. I venture to make this request because I am dealing with comrades, with whom so far I have, never had any formal conflict.

II. Should the group reject my request then point I of the decision falls away. In that case, I propose that the group:

1.) Inform me whether it intends to comply with the Party Rules as explained above, i.e., to comply with the decision made by me in the name of the C.C. (an appeal against this decision can be made (a) at a full meeting of the C.C. or (b) at a Congress, but it is binding until an nulled by a higher body).

2) Send me, in accordance with Clause 11 of the Party Rules, all information concerning the make-up of the group and “all its activities” (votings, etc.) in connection with the present unfortunate business.

N. Lenin,
the Representative Abroad
of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P.


[1] Lepeshinsky, Panteleimon Nikolayevich (1868–1944)—a prominent member of the Communist Party. Joined the Social-Democratic movement in the early nineties. In 1900 he took an active part in organising the promulgation of Iskra. In 1903 he emigrated to Switzerland; took part in preparing the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. During the revolution of 1905-07 carried on revolutionary work in Ekaterinoslav and St. Petersburg.

[2] This letter of Lenin’s (Decision of the C. C. representative abroad) was written in connection with the conflict that had arisen between various members of the Bolshevik Geneva group.

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