V. I.   Lenin

Evasions Without End

Written: Written at the end of February-beginning of March 1905
Published: First published in 1930 In Lenin Miscellany XV. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 223-224.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Isidor Lasker
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). 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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Iskra and the so-called Council are continuing their tactics of delay, of pretexts, and of evasion in the matter of convening the Congress. Plekhanov tries to take a formal stand by reiterating with an insistence worthy of a better cause that the Congress is convened by the Council and that therefore any congress not so convened is illegal. This argument is so one-sided and naively self-interested that one is strongly tempted “to give the hare a bit of the bear’s ear”[1] —to give Plekhanov a medal for his meticulous observance of the Party Rules and Party laws! We would most humbly ask the very honourable advocate of the dialectic, that is, of the all-round approach: does the Council exist for the Party or the Party for the Council? Is the Council accountable to, and controllable by, the Party or is the Party accountable to the Council? Does discipline for the higher body eliminate discipline for the lower body? Will our vigilant limb of the law try to remember the arguments he used in this connection at the Second Congress of the Party?

The Council, according to our Rules, is duty bound to convene a congress when half the votes are cast for it. What is the Party to do when the Council shirks its duties? The Rules of the German Social-Democratic Party give a direct answer to this question, namely, the Congress in such an event is convened not by the supreme governing body of the Party, but by a special control committee independent of that body. Our Rules give no answer at all to that question   Does this mean, we ask our friends of the new Iskra, that the problem is insoluble? Does it mean that should the Council shirk its Party responsibilities the Party would have to dissolve and be superseded by the Council? The Party for the Council—is that it?

We make bold to say that this is not so, that the Party itself is obliged to see to it that its Rules are observed by its functionaries, that “to see to it” does not only mean to criticise by word but to rectify by deed. He who is unable to demand successfully of his agents the discharge of their duties towards those who entrusted them is unworthy of the name of a politically free citizen. He who cannot demand successfully of his agents the discharge of their Party duties towards those who entrusted them is unworthy of the name of Party member. The Council is the agent of the committees. The committees are in duty bound to demand of this agent the discharge of its duties towards those who have entrusted it. This the committees can do only by electing their bureau for convening the Congress. And that is what the committees have done. That is what they were obliged to do, if they were conscious of their elementary Party obligations.

Will the honourable Comrade Plekhanov, perhaps, try to deny the correctness of this statement? Will he try to name any Social-Democratic party in the world whose members would have refrained from acting as our committees acted, when faced with the refusal of a given Party body to convene the Party Congress? We challenge you to try, Comrade Plekhanov.

Now let us proceed to the second factual question, whether our Council actually did shirk its Party duties in the matter of convening the Congress. This is no mere formal question, since apart from duty under the Rules there is still the duty...[2]


[1] The allusion is to I. A. Krylov’s fable “The Hare at the Hunt” Ed.—Lenin

[2] The manuscript breaks off here.—Ed.

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