V. I. Lenin

Speeches At A Meeting Of The Central Committee Of The R.S.D.L.P.(B.)

January 19 (February 1), 1918


Written: 19 January, 1918
First Published: 1 and 6 in 1922, in N. Lenin (V. Ulyanov), Works, Voume XV; 2 and 5 in 1929, in the book, Minutes of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P., August 1917-February, 1918. Published according to a handwritten copy of the Minutes.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 507-509
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Transcription & HTML Markup: Charles Farrell and David Walters
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive November, 2000



Comrade Lenin asks what kind of conference should be called. [1] He believes we should have it out with the advocates of a revolutionary war, because their remark seems to hint at the charge that one group within the Party suspects the other of being diplomatic on the question of peace. Actually, there is no diplomacy involved at all, because the armistice decision said quite openly that any side wishing to terminate it must announce its intention to do so seven days before the start of hostilities. On that ground we have been marking time with the peace. How was the decision adopted at the Third Congress of Soviets? It was adopted as proposed by the Central Executive Committee, which adopted its decision on the strength of the Party group decision, and the latter adopted it in line with a C.C. resolution. Lenin believes that the best way to dissuade the comrades favouring a revolutionary war would be for them to go to the front and see for themselves that it is quite impossible to conduct the war. Nor does he see any sense in having a conference, because its decisions could not be binding on the Central Committee; in view of this it might be necessary for us to call a Party congress[2] to get precise instructions from the Party. By dragging out the peace talks we are creating an opportunity to continue fraternisation, and by concluding a peace we could at once have an exchange of prisoners of war, thereby sending to Germany a great mass of people who had seen our revolution in action and had been schooled by it. It would be easier for them to work on the awakening of a revolution in Germany. He believes, in addition, that in order to ascertain exactly what is going on in Germany we should send aviators to Berlin, which, they say, is quite possible.


Comrade Lenin, speaking on a point of order, suggests that Bukharin should give the facts on the state of affairs within the Petrograd Committee.


Comrade Lenin makes a concrete proposal. He points out to those who want a conference that it would not heal the rift. A Party congress is a necessity, whereas a conference merely elicits opinion in the Party which should be put on record. With that end in view he proposes the convocation of a meeting representing all shades of opinion and standpoints, each by at least three persons. Such a meeting should work out an agreement.


Comrade Lenin suggests the meeting should be held within two or three days, without publishing the theses, which should not be made known to Germany. The question of the conference should not be solved before the meeting, but it would be absurd to defer the question of peace until a congress without publishing the theses.


Comrade Lenin proposes a meeting of delegates leaving after the Third Congress of Soviets, without, however, anything being handed out in writing.


Comrade Lenin says that the Party programme will not be ready by February 15, and proposes that:

the meeting should be held on January 20, and should be made up as follows: (1) Central Committee; (2) representatives of clearly expressed opinions, namely, Lenin, Sokolnikov, Bukharin, Obolensky, Stukov. If Smirnov, Obolensky, Stukov and Pyatakov differ, they will send two representatives, and otherwise, one; (3) the Petrograd Committee to be represented by Fenigstein; (4) a Latvian.

Bukharin and Lomov should be authorised to talk it over with the Muscovites and with Pyatakov. Each group to present its own theses. [3]


[1] The reference is to a demand made by a group of Left Communists —Bukharin, Lomov (Oppokov), Osiasky (Obolensky) and others—on January 15 (28), 1918, to the Central Committee of the R.SD.L.P.(B.) for a Party conference to discuss and decide on the question of peace.

[2] Lenin's proposal for a congress was adopted. It was first set by the CC. meeting of January 19 (February 1), 1918, for February 20, but was later postponed until March 6, 1918.

[3] Lenin's proposal for a conference of various groups on peace was adopted. It was held on January 21 (February 3), 1918, but no minutes are available. There is only a record of the vote on 10 questions connected with the conclusion of peace (see Minutes of tire Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B), August l917-February 1918, in Russian, 1958, pp. 190-91). On the main question- Is it permissible to sign a German annexationiist peace now? 151;five participants said yes. They were Lenin, Stalin, Muranov, Artyom (Sergeyev) and Sokolnikov; 9 voted against. They were Lonnov (Oppokov), Krestinsky, Bubnov, Kosior, Osinsky (Oboleosky), Stukov, Preobrazhensky, Spunde and Fenigstein. Zinoviev, Bukharin and Uritsky left the conference before the vote.