V. I.   Lenin

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

A Letter to the St. Petersburg Workers



The End of the Congress

Armed uprising was the last question to be discussed more or less thoroughly and on principle at the Congress. The other questions were rushed through or decided without discussion.

The resolution on fighting guerrilla operations was adopt ed as an addendum to the resolution on armed uprising. I was not in the hall when it was taken; nor did I hear from any of the comrades that the debate on this question was at all interesting. Besides, this is not a question of principle, of course.

The resolution on trade unions and that on the attitude to be adopted towards the peasant movement were passed unanimously. In the committees which drafted these resolutions, the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks reached agreement. I will note that the resolution on the peasant movement contains an absolutely correct appraisal of the Cadet Party, and recognises insurrection as “the only means” of winning freedom. Both these points should be kept in mind more of ten in our day-to-day work of agitation.

The question of amalgamating with the national Social-Democratic parties took up a little more time. Amalgamation with the Poles was accepted unanimously. So was amalgamation with the Letts, I remember: at all events it was accepted without much discussion. There was a big battle, however, over the question of amalgamating with the Bund. As far as I remember, this was carried by 54 votes, or there abouts. Those voting in favour were the Bolsheviks (nearly all), the Centre, and the least factional-minded of the Mensheviks; It was agreed that the local guiding committees of the R.S.D.L.P. should be joint committees, and that all delegates to congresses should be elected according to the general procedure. A resolution was adopted which recognises the necessity of striving for centralist principles of organisation (we proposed a resolution, worded differently, but to the same effect, in which we stressed the practical significance of the concession we had made to the Bund, and urged the necessity of a steady effort to unite the forces of the proletariat more closely and in more up-to-date fashion).

Some of the Mensheviks got quite heated over the amalgamation with the Bund, and accused us of departing from the principles laid down by the Second Congress. The best reply to this accusation is a reference to Partiiniye Izvestia, No. 2. In that issue, long before the Congress, the Bolsheviks published a draft resolution proposing a number of further concessions to all the national Social-Democratic parties,   even to the extent of “proportional representation in the local, regional and central bodies of the Party”.[1] In that same issue, No. 2 of Partiiniye Izvestia, the Mensheviks in reply to our resolution published a counter-resolution, in which there was not a single word to suggest that they disagreed with our proposal to make further concessions to the Bund and to the other national Social-Democratic parties.

I think that this is the best answer to the controversial question whether it was the Bolsheviks who voted for the Bund for factional reasons, or the Mensheviks who for factional reasons voted against the Bund.

The Party Rules were adopted very quickly. I was a member of the committee that drafted them. The Mensheviks wanted to raise the proportion of the Party membership necessary to authorise the convocation of an extraordinary congress to two-thirds of the membership. Together with my Bolshevik colleagues, I then emphatically declared that the slightest attempt to curtail that minimum of autonomy and of rights of the opposition which had been recognised in the Rules adopted by the factional Third Congress would inevitably lead to a split. It is up to you, Menshevik comrades, I said. If you choose to remain loyal to the agree ment and respect all the rights of the minority, all the rights of the opposition,[2] then we will submit, we will elect our fellow-thinkers to the Central Committee and condemn a split. If you do not, then a split is inevitable.

The Mensheviks agreed to come down from two-thirds to one-half. The Rules were adopted unanimously, including Clause 1, and the principle of democratic centralism. Only two points gave rise to disagreement.

First, we proposed that a note be added to Clause 1, to the effect that members of the Party, on changing their place of residence, should have the right to belong to the local Party organisation.

The purpose of this note was to preclude petty squabbling, the ejection of dissidents from the organisation, and the refusal of Mensheviks to accept Bolsheviks and vice versa. The Party is growing. It is becoming a mass party. Fighting for posts must stop. All flue leading bodies in the Party are elected bodies. The local organisation of the Party, however, should be open to all members of the Party. Only this will prevent the ideological struggle from being besmirched by organisational squabbles.

In spite of our insistence, the Mensheviks rejected our note. But to prove that their intentions were loyal,they agreed to adopt the following resolution: “The Congress rejects this note solely because it considers it to be superfluous and self-evident” (I am quoting from memory, as I have not found the text of this resolution in my notes). It is very important to bear this resolution in mind in the event of any controversy and organisational friction arising.

The second point on which there was disagreement was the relation between the Central Committee and the Central Organ. The Mensheviks carried the point that the editorial board of the Central Organ is to be elected by the Congress and that the members of the editorial board are to act as members of the Central Committee when questions of policy are discussed (a vague point which will probably give rise to misunderstanding). The Bolsheviks, referring to the melancholy conflicts between writers in the Russian and German[3] party press, advocated the appointment of the editorial board of the Central Organ by the Central Committee, the latter to have the right to dismiss the editors. In my opinion, the decision of the Mensheviks undoubtedly shows that there is something abnormal in the relations between the writers and the practical-political leaders in the Right wing of our Party.

As a curiosity, I must mention that at the Congress the Mensheviks endorsed the resolution of the Amsterdam International Socialist Congress on the attitude to be adopted towards bourgeois parties.[4] This decision will go down in   the history of our Social-Democratic congresses precisely as a curiosity. Are not all the decisions of international socialist congresses binding on the Social-Democratic parties of all countries? What point is there in singling out and endorsing one of these decisions? Who, has ever heard that a Social-Democratic party in any particular country has, instead of deciding its attitude towards a particular bourgeois party in its own country, taken its stand on the common attitude in all countries towards all bourgeois parties? Before the Congress, both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks drafted resolutions on the attitude to be adopted towards the bourgeois parties in Russia, in the Year of Our Lord 1906. If there was no time to examine this question at the Congress, then it ought to have been simply put off. But to choose this “middle” course of not examining the question of Russian parties, but of endorsing the international decision on the general question, was merely betraying one’s confusion to the world. It was like saying: as we haven’t the brains to decide what attitude to adopt towards the Russian parties, let us at least repeat the international decision. This was the most inept and ridiculous way of leaving the question open.

Yet the question is an extremely important one. The read er will find the draft resolutions of the Majority and the Minority in the appendix. We recommend those who are interested in this question (and which practical worker, agitator or propagandist is not?) to compare these drafts from time to time with the “lessons of the revolution”, that is, with the political facts about the life of various parties that experience in Russia today provides so amply. Whoever makes this comparison will see that the revolution is increasingly corroborating our appraisal of the two main trends among the bourgeois democrats: the liberal-monarchist (mainly, the Cadets) and the revolutionary-democratic trend.

The Menshevik resolution, however, bears obvious traces of the helplessness and confusion which led at the Congress to the curious device of endorsing the international decision. The Menshevik resolution consists entirely of generalities, and makes no attempt to solve (or indicate a solution of) the concrete problems of political life in Russia. We must criticise all parties, says this bewildered resolution: we must ex pose them, we must state that there are no really consistent   democratic parties. But how the different bourgeois parties in Russia, or the different types of these parties, should be “criticised and exposed”, the resolution does not know. It says we must “criticise”, but it does not know how to criticise; for the Marxist criticism of bourgeois parties consists in a concrete analysis of the class basis of the different bourgeois parties, whatever it is. The resolution helplessly says there are no really consistent democratic parties. But it does not know how to define the different degrees of consistency of the Russian bourgeois-democratic parties that have already appeared and are appearing in the course of our revolution. The empty phrases and platitudes in the Menshevik resolution have even obscured the dividing lines of the three main types of bourgeois party in Russia: the Octobrist type, the Cadet type and the revolutionary-democratic type. And these our Right Social-Democrats, so ludicrously helpless when it comes to appraising the class foundations and trends of the various parties in bourgeois Russia, have the effrontery to accuse the Left Social-Democrats of “true socialism”, that is, of ignoring the historically concrete role of the bourgeois democrats! Now this is once again, indeed, laying the blame at someone else’s door.

I have digressed somewhat from my main subject; but I warned the reader at the very outset that I intended to combine my report on the Congress with a few ideas about the Congress. And I think that in order to be able to appraise the Congress intelligently, the members of the Party must ponder, not only over what the Congress did, but also over what the Congress left undone though it should not have. And every thinking Social-Democrat is beginning to realise more clearly every day the importance of a Marxist analysis of the different bourgeois-democratic parties in Russia.

The elections at the Congress took only a few minutes. Virtually, everything had been arranged before the general sessions. The Mensheviks took all five seats on the editorial board of the Central Organ. As for the Central Committee, we agreed to elect three persons to it, the other seven being Mensheviks. What the position of these three will be, as a kind of supervisors and guardians of the rights of the opposition, is something that only the future can tell.



[1] See pp. 159-60 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] I will remind the reader that in my pamphlet, Social-Democracy and the State Duma (published together with an article by Dan), I pointed out before the Congress that the trend that remained in the minority must be ensured freedom to criticise the decisions of the Congress and freedom to agitate for another Congress (p. 8). (See p. 111 of this volume.—Ed.)—Lenin

[3] The recent “affair” of the six editors of Vorwärts who made quite a fuss because they had been dismissed by the Executive Committee of the German Social-Democratic Party.”[5]Lenin

[5] On October 24, 1905, Vorwärts carried in its issue No. 249 a communication of the Central Executive of the German Social-Democratic Party of October 23, 1905, on the changes made in the editorial board of Vorwärts. Six editors who belonged to the revisionist trend in the Party bad been removed and persons belonging to the Left wing of the Party included in the renewed editorial board. Rosa Luxemburg had been assigned a key role in the paper.

The opportunists launched a campaign in defence of the removed editors, but the Party rank and file approved of and backed the policy of the Executive.

[4] The Amsterdam Congress of the Second International was held from August 14-20 (N. 5.), 1904. Its attitude to bourgeois parties was expressed in the resolution “International Rules for Socialist Tactics”. The resolution forbade socialists to enter bourgeois governments, and rejected co-operation between socialist and bourgeois parties.

  Armed Uprising | VIII. The Congress Summed Up  

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