V. I.   Lenin

Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

A Letter to the St. Petersburg Workers



Election of the Bureau. The Congress Agenda

I will now proceed with my narrative of the deliberations of the Congress in the order of its sessions. The election of the Bureau was the first vote that was taken, and virtually pre-determined (strange as this may seem to an outsider) all the most important votes at the Congress. About 60 votes (not less than 58, if my memory is not at fault) were cast for Plekhanov and Dan, many leaving blank the space on their ballot papers for the third candidate. Forty-odd, or about forty votes, were cast for me. Then the “Centre” made a show, adding 10 or 15 votes to one or the other candidate. Those elected were: Plekhanov, with 69 votes, I think (or 71?), Dan 67 votes, and I obtained 60 votes.

On the question of the agenda, the debate on two occasions was very interesting and threw a great deal of light on the composition and character of the Congress. First there was the debate on whether the question of amalgamation   with the national Social-Democratic parties should be taken as the first item. The national parties wanted this, of course. We, too, were in favour of it. The Mensheviks, however, voted it down. Their argument was: let the R.S.D.L.P. define its own position first and then amalgamate with others; let “us” first determine what “we” are ourselves, and after that we can amalgamate with “them”. To this argument (psycho logically quite intelligible, and from the factional Menshevik point of view quite correct), we answered: is it not strange to deny the national parties the right to define their position together with us? If “they” are to amalgamate with “us”, “we” will, and ought to, determine what “we” are together. It must also be added that before the Congress the Joint Central Committee had already concluded an agreement with the Polish Social-Democratic Party for its complete merging with us. Nevertheless, the proposal to take this as the first item on the agenda was defeated. Comrade Warszawski, a member of the Polish delegation, protested against this so outspokenly that he turned to the Mensheviks and exclaimed, amidst general laughter: “First of all you want to ’gobble up’ or ’slaughter’ the Bolsheviks and then amalgamate with us!” This was said in jest, of course, and I am least of all inclined to cavil at “frightful words” like “gobble up”; but this jest was a very striking and apt appraisal of a peculiar political situation.

The second interesting debate was on whether the question of the present state of our revolution and the class tasks of the proletariat should be put on the agenda. We Bolsheviks were, of course, in favour of this, in keeping with our declaration in Partiiniye Izvestia, No. 2.[1] From the standpoint of principle there could be no question of shirking the fundamental issue as to whether the revolution is really on the eve of an upswing, what forms of the revolutionary movement are the most important today in view of the objective conditions, and, consequently, what tasks confront the proletariat. In opposing the inclusion of this question in the agenda, the Mensheviks put themselves in a very unenviable position. Their arguments to the effect that this was a theoretical question, that the Party could not be bound by resolutions on   such questions, and so forth, were quite amazingly artificial and far-fetched. There was a burst of laughter when, in reply to a speech by no less a person than Dan, who had vehemently opposed the inclusion of this question in the agenda, a speaker took out a copy of Partiiniye Izvestia, No. 2, and calmly read the “fatal words” in the Menshevik tactical platform:

We”—yes, we Mensheviks—“are of the opinion and pro pose that the Congress should agree.” How is that, comrades? asked the speaker. Yesterday you said: “We propose that the Congress should agree,” but today you say: “We propose that the Congress” should not discuss this question? The question was put on the agenda, but subsequently, as we shall see later on, the Mensheviks had their own way after all.


[1] See p. 149 of this volume.—Ed.

  The Composition of the Congress | The Agrarian Question  

< backward     Contents     forward >
Works Index   |   Volume 10 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index