Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

First Session

(48 persons present) [3]

On behalf of the Organising Committee, Comrade Plekhanov opened the Second Ordinary Congress of the RSDLP with the following speech:

Comrades! The Organising Committee has instructed me to declare open the Sécond Ordinary Congress of the RSDLP. I can account for this great honour only by assuming that the Organising Committee wished to express, by honouring me, its cordial feelings for the group of veteran Russian Social-Democrats who, twenty years ago, in 1883, first began to introduce propaganda for Social-Democratic ideas into Russian revolutionary literature. I address to the Organising Committee, on behalf of all these veterans, sincere comradely thanks for this comradely expression of feeling. I want to believe that at least some of us are destined to fight under the red flag for a long time yet, shoulder to shoulder with fresh, young and ever more numerous fighters. The state of affairs is now so favourable for our Party that every one of us Russian Social-Democrats can cry, and perhaps has already cried more than once, in the words of the humanist knight: ‘It is joyous to live at such a time.’ [4] And when life is joyous, one has no desire to pass over, as Herzen puts it, into the mineral-and-chemical kingdom—one wants to live, in order to go on fighting. In this lies the whole meaning of our lives.

I said that the situation is now extremely favourable for our Party. These words may seem exaggerated in view of the many disorders, disagreements and differences which have made themselves felt so severely in the last five years. These disorders, disagreements and differences have certainly been very great and very regrettable. But they have not prevented our Party from becoming, both theoretically and practically, the strongest of all the revolutionary and opposition parties in Russia! Despite all our differences and disagreements, we have already won more than one glorious theoretical victory and have had many substantial practical successes. Twenty years ago we were nothing, now we are a great social force—I say this, of course, taking into account the Russian scale of things. But strength imposes obligations. We are strong, but our strength has been created by a situation which is favourable to us: this is spontaneous strength due to the situation. We have to give this spontaneous strength conscious expression in our programme, in our tactics, in our organisation. And this is the task before our congress, which is faced, as you see, with a great deal of serious and difficult work. But I am confident that this serious and difficult work will be successfully accomplished, and that this congress will constitute an epoch in the history of our Party. We were strong, but the Congress will enormously increase our strength. I declare the congress open, and propose that we proceed to elect the Bureau. [Prolonged applause.]

The congress then proceeded to elect the Bureau. Comrade Plekhanov was elected chairman, by acclamation: Comrades Lenin and Pavlovich were elected vice-chairmen, and Comrade Fomin secretary, by votes cast in writing.

The congress approved the list, presented by the Organising Committee, of nine secretaries to take the minutes.

When the elections were over, a member of the Organising Committee read the report on the convening of the congress:

In …1902,[5] on the initiative of the Bund and of the Petersburg Committee, a conference of certain of our Party organisations was held. Participating in this conference were: the Bund, the Petersburg Committee, the Yekaterinoslav Committee, Iskra, the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, the Nizhny-Novgorod Committee and the Association of Southern Committees and Organisations.

The initiators of the conference proposed to turn it into a Party congress, if a substantial majority of the organisations took part, but this proposal proved impracticable. Consequently, the conference confined itself to drawing up the general proclamation for May 1, and electing an Organising Committee, to which it gave the task of convening the second Party congress, organising transport for common purposes, and publishing proclamations in the Party’s name. The Organising Committee was made up of representatives of three organisations: Iskra, the Bund and the Association of Southern Committees and Organisations. The conference then dispersed, and immediately afterwards arrests began to be made…Throughout the summer the Organising Committee was unable to begin its work, and a considerable number of organisations did not even know of its existence.

The conference had, incidentally, made provision that in the event of the Organising Committee proving unable to function, it would be the duty of all those taking part in the conference to re-establish it. Therefore, in the autumn, the Party’s Petersburg Committee, which did not know whether a single member of the OC was still in existence, again took the initiative, with a view to re-establishing it, and got in touch with the organisations which had been present at the first conference (including, by the way, the Bund), inviting them to meet. This gathering was attended by representatives of the Petersburg Committee, Iskra, the Yuzhny Rabochy group, the Kiev Committee and the Northern Association: the representative of the Yuzhny Rabochy group announced that the Association of Southern Committees and Organisations no longer existed. There was no representative from the Bund.

At this gathering it was decided to form an Organising Committee from the representatives of those organisations which the conference had provided should form the OC and then subsequently to complete its composition by co-opting some additional members. This is the connection between the present Organising Committee and the 1902 conference.

The Organising Committee had first to secure the endorsement of at least a substantial majority of the Party organisations. This process did not start off very happily. We have already mentioned that no representative of the Bund attended the autumn meeting. The reasons for this absence were not known to the OC, but it hoped that the Bund would not refuse subsequently to take part in its activity, and a note to this effect was included in the announcement addressed to the Party organisations. The initiators of the meeting invited the Bund by means of a letter to the Bund’s Central Committee and also personally, through the Vilna Committee. The letter was not received by the Central Committee of the Bund, and the personal invitation was handed to the Vilna Committee only after the meeting was over. Consequently, there was no representative of the Bund at this meeting. A delegate was sent to persuade the Bund to take part in the OC. In their talks with this delegate the Central Committee of the Bund said that the Bund would not refuse to participate in the OC, and that its absence could to some extent be made up for by its participation in the drawing-up of the announcement to be issued, and by signing this announcement. The delegate of the OC agreed, and at once sent a letter asking that the printing or distribution of the OC’s announcement be delayed, and the original text be sent to the CC of the Bund for signature, if circumstances permitted. Unfortunately, this also was not done, as some committees had already earlier, by accident been supplied with printed copies of the announcement. A letter explaining what had happened was sent to the CC of the Bund, but, as it turned out later, this letter also failed to arrive. Consequently, the CC of the Bund, being unaware of the reasons why the announcement had not been sent to them, saw in this a desire to prevent them from participating in the OC and the note to the OC’s announcement which referred to the Bund seemed to the CC of the Bund to be equivocal, so that they issued a special statement reproaching the initiators of the meeting with showing too little concern about inviting the Bund However, it is beyond question that the OC had no intention whatever of preventing the Bund from taking part in its work, since otherwise it would not have sent two delegates, one after the other, to invite the Bund to send a delegate.

Subsequently, at the second meeting of the OC, in which a representative of the Bund took part, all these misunderstandings caused by accidental combinations of circumstances (non-receipt of letters, delay in personal approaches owing to lack of addresses) were cleared up, and the representative of the Bund agreed that the OC had been correctly constituted and that it had shown no desire to exclude the Bund. But the incident with the Bund had already developed into an extensive polemic, which could have been ended only by elucidating the whole incident, in detail. However, the OC considered an incomplete elucidation of the details would be embarrassing and there was nothing it could do but to ask Iskra and the Foreign Committee of the Bund to stop their polemic, in view of the facts that (1) the misunderstanding with the Bund had already been settled and (2) this polemic might give rise to a false interpretation of the attitudes of the OC and the Bund towards each other.

Immediately after the publication of the announcement, the Party committees were asked to state their attitude to the OC. This questionnaire produced the following result. The OC was recognised, in respect of all its functions, by the committees of Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov, Yekaterinoslav and the Don Region, the Northern Association and the Association of Mining and Metallurgical Workers, the committees of Tiflis, Baku, Tula, Saratov, and Bryansk, and the Siberian Association. The Odessa and Nikolayev Committees, while endorsing the OC’s initiative in calling a Party congress, considered undesirable the attempt by the OC to carry out some of the functions of the Central Committee. The Voronezh Committee took up a quite unique position, issuing a lengthy statement to the effect that the OC was nothing but an intrigue by Iskra. We shall not say much about the statement by the Voronezh Committee in view of the fact that it had absolutely no repercussions, apart from protests by two or three committees which were angered by the disagreeable tone of this statement. On the whole it was clear that the OC was unquestionably accepted by the Party, so that it could at once proceed to the further fulfilment of its talks. At the second meeting, draft rules for a party congress were drawn up, in which consideration was given to the proposal by the Bund, expressed in its printed statement, that the forthcoming congress should be regarded as a constituent congress, and that, therefore, other national Social-Democratic organisations as well ought to be invited to it. This proposal was rejected by all the other members of the OC, which regarded the congress as an ordinary Party congress. After this, a second consultation of the committees took place.

Discussion of the rules for the congress [see Appendix VI] by the committees gave the following results: the rules were approved in their entirety, without any changes, by the committees of Kharkov, the Don and Tiflis, and the Northern, Siberian and Mining- and Metallurgical Associations. The Nikolayev Committee merely made a stylistic correction to the Note to paragraph 1, without altering the sense of this note. The Petersburg Committee proposed merely to alter Paragraph 19, on the procedure for approving the rules, advocating that the OC be given authority to approve them without balloting the committees. These two committees left the rules themselves unchanged. The Yekaterinoslav, Kiev and Moscow committees put forward alterations to Paragraph 4: the first and second of these committees proposed that the ‘Emancipation of Labour’ group bestruck out of the list, and the third that this be done with the League of Revolutionary Social-Democrats. The Odessa Committee proposed amendments to Paragraph 2, suggesting a different formulation of its second point; to Paragraph 4, suggesting that the Borba group be included; to Paragraph 10, proposing to give two deciding votes even to those organisations which operate within the limits of one town; and to Paragraph 19, proposing to submit Paragraphs 2 and 19 to a vote by all the organisations composing the Party. The Baku Committee proposed to delete the note to Paragraph 1; to invite the Borba group; to delete Paragraph 3, depriving grouped organisations of their votes; and to increase the number of votes allowed to the Bund. Remarks were also sent in by the committees of Bryansk, Poltava and Smolensk. No remarks were submitted by the committees of Nizhny-Novgorod and Tula. The Bund proposed deletion of the paragraph about imperative mandates.

Altogether, in the vote conducted by the bureau of the OC, out of the 16 organisations which the OC took into account, the great majority, not less than two-thirds, approved each paragraph of the rules taken separately. The draft was accepted, and all the organisations were so informed. At the same time, the OC drew up a list of local organisations with the right to take part in the congress on the basis of Paragraph 2. This list comprised the following organisations: the Petersburg Committee, the Northern Association, the Moscow Committee, the—Committee, the Saratov Committee, the Siberian Association, the Caucasian Association, [In view of the fact that official statements were received from all the Caucasian organisations to the effect that the Caucasian Association no longer existed, its place the list was taken by three committees: Tiflis, Baku, Batum.] the committees of the Don Region, Yekaterinoslav, Kharkov, Kiev, Odessa and Nikolayev, and the Bund. All the other organisations, namely: the Tula, Ufa, Petersburg II and Kishinev Committees, the Petersburg Workers’ Organisations, the Association of Mining and Metallurgical Workers, the Rabochaya Volya organisation in Odessa, the Crimean Association, the Voronezh Committee, and the organisations in Poltava, Kremenchug, Yelizavetgrad, Kherson, Samara, Kazan, Smolensk and Bryansk, were informed that they were not on the list.

Of these organisations, the nine first-named protested against their exclusion from the list by the Organising Committee. These protests were dealt with as follows. In the case of the Tula Committee, the OC bad not originally put it on the list owing to lack of precise information as to whether it fulfilled the conditions set out in Paragraph 2. A member of the OC was sent to see them, and it then proved that there were, in fact, no grounds for excluding this committee from participation in the congress.

The Odessa Rabochaya Volya group was not included in the list because, according to the OC’s information, this group was an extremely small organisation which, though it had indeed been formed before May 1 of last year, carried out hardly any activity before the autumn of that year. Since then the ‘activity’ of the Rabochaya Volya group has been made known to the Odessa Committee only in the form of three or four proclamations, distributed in very small numbers. As regards the other organisations working in neighbouring towns, neither the Nikolayev nor the Kishinev Committee knew anything at all about Rabochaya Volya, apart from the fact that it had at some time separated off from the Odessa Committee. The Rabochaya Volya group maintained no relations with other Social-Democratic organisations, so that the OC was unable to obtain any other evidence about it. Personal discussion with representatives of Rabochaya Volya did not produce an impression that this organisation possessed any solidity. Consequently, the OC informed it that it would not be included in the list of organisations having the right to take part in the congress, and offered to arrange for arbitration if the group was dissatisfied with the OC’s decision. Rabochaya Volya replied that it protested against its non-inclusion in the list, but at the same time would not accept arbitration, for two reasons: (1) that it considered that this arbitration would be mere play-acting, with the OC getting its own way in the end, and (2) that in general, ‘it does not accept’ these paragraphs about arbitration. In reply, a representative of the OC informed Rabochaya Volya that the entire set of rules put forward by the OC had been approved, and if Rabochaya Volya did not accept them, then there could be no question of that organisation taking part in the congress. The representative of the OC then asked Rabochaya Volya about its attitude to the forthcoming congress, and proposed that the organisation submit to the congress a written protest against the action of the OC. After discussing this proposal, Rabochaya Volya replied that it would not recognise the forthcoming congress as a Party congress, and did not intend to address a protest to it.

In all the other cases where there were protests, arbitration was carried out, resulting in the following decisions:

1. It was decided to invite the Ufa Committee to the congress. [It was not possible to furnish the congress with the text of the resolution on this matter.]

2. Where Petersburg was concerned, it was decided to deprive the; Petersburg Committee of one of its votes and give this vote to the Committee of the Workers’ Organisation (which also calls itself the Petersburg Union of Struggle), while the other group which also calls itself the Petersburg Committee was invited to petition the congress to admit its representative; but the group in question declined to do this. [The text of the resolution on this matter has not been printed for security reasons.]

3. The Association of Mining and Metallurgical Workers was given the right of full participation in the congress. [See Resolution 1 in Appendix VII.]

4. The Kishinev Committee was refused the right to take part the Congress. [See Resolution II in Appendix VII.]

5. As regards the Crimean Association, the arbitration decision that this organisation be invited to the congress was based on knowledge of its activity in Kerch, Melitopol, Yalta, Fyodosia and Simferopol.

Thus, the original list had five organisations added to it, and so 21 local organisations, including the Bund, are taking part—27 organisations in all. These are: (1) the Petersburg Committee, (2) the Petersburg Workers’ Organisations, (3) the Moscow Committee, (4 the Northern Workers’ Association, (5) the Tula Committee, (6) the Kharkov Committee, (7) the Kiev Committee, (8) the Odessa Committee, (9) the Nikolayev Committee, (10) the Yekaterinoslav Committee, (11) the Don Committee, (12) the Association of Mining an Metallurgical Workers, (13) the Baku Committee, (14) the Tiflis Committee, (15) the Batum Committee, (16) the Saratov Committee, (17) the Ufa Committee, (18) the Siberian Association, (19) the Crimean Association, (20) the Bund, (21) the ‘Emancipation of Labour’ group, (22) the Russian organisation of Iskra, (23) the League of Russian Revolutionary Social-Democrats, (24) the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, (25) the Foreign Committee the Bund, (26) the Yuzhny Rabochy group, and (27) a committee whose delegates have not shown up at the congress.[6]

On the basis of the paragraph of the rules which states that the Organising Committee must declare the Congress open if not less than half of the organisations with full rights are present, this congress, at which all but one of the organisations are represented, must be considered valid. [On the basis of statements made by the Baku and Batum delegates, the rapporteur of the OC made the following corrections to his report: (i) The Baku Committee did not propose inviting Borba to the congress. (ii) The Batum Committee recognised the OC in respect of all its functions, and accepted the rules in their entirety, without amendments.]

Akimov: Supplementing the report of the Organising Committee, I think it needs to be mentioned that, following the decision of the Byelostok conference of 1902, the Organis ing Committee was to include representatives of three organisations abroad: Iskra, the Union of Russian Social-Democrats, and the Foreign Committee of the Bund. After the arrest of the comrades in Russia, the organisations abroad tried to re-establish the OC, but these efforts were not supported by the comrades in Russia, a circumstance which is very greatly to be regretted, since otherwise this aim could have been attained sooner and more successfully. In the OC’s report it is stated that when the draft rules were being worked out, the draft was sent to all the organisations. The Union of Russian Social-Democrats did not receive a copy, however. This explains, incidentally, why, despite the request of the Voronezh Committee to petition the congress to admit its representative, we, who were left for a long time withqut the rules or the list of organisations with full rights, applied to the OC too late for arbitration to be arranged. I propose, therefore, that the question of this presence of the Voronezh Committee at the congress (a presence to which this Committee has every right, in my view) be referred to a commission.

Brouckère: [7] It is not true that a representative of the Petersburg Committee entered the OC, since there are two committees in Petersburg: besides the Committee referred to, there was also the ‘Union of Struggle’, whose representative at this congress I am. The ‘Union of Struggle’ received notice of the formation of the OC very late—in February. And the ‘Union’ then replied that it recognises the OC only on condition that a representative of the ‘Union’ be included in the OC. The OC rejected this demand. Nevertheless, the ‘Union of Struggle’ subsequently recognised the OC and took part in the congress. The ‘Union’ was given the right to take part in the congress only as a result of arbitration. Above all, I protest against the way the OC continually referred to the ‘Union of Struggle’ as an organisation, although the arbiter recognised that it is the continuation of the first Petersburg Committee. The Vorenezh Committee, a member of which I happen to have been, did not receive any notice that it was not being invited to the congress. I protest vigorously against the expressions employed by the OC in its report regarding the statement of the Voronezh Committee that the entire OC is an ‘intrigue’ by Iskra. By printing a few phrases from the statement of the Voronezh Committee, Iskra gave a false impression of this statement. There were no malicious fantasies in the statement by the Voronezh Committee.

At the chairman’s suggestion, the Congress decided to hand over all grievances concerning the composition of the congress to the credentials commission to which were elected, by written vote: Deutsch, Sablina, Lenin, Yudin and Martov; when the last-named declined election his place was taken by the candidate next in line, Koltsov.

The congress proceeded to discuss the standing orders for the congress. Paragraph 1 was adopted without debate. Paragraph 2 dealt with limiting the length of speeches.

Martynov considered it inappropriate to limit the length of speeches on all questions. Where certain questions were concerned, in view of their importance, the congress should be asked to decide specifically the permitted duration of speeches.

Lieber agreed with Martynov about the adoption of a special procedure when certain questions were being discussed. Furthermore, he could not agree with restricting the number of times each speaker could speak. There were a lot of people at the congress, and in the course of debates many new arguments would be put forward, which it would not be possible to deal with if the number of speeches was to be limited. At most, he might agree to limitation of the length of speeches, but not of their number.

Orlov asked how much time was to be allowed for introducing and defending reasoned proposals, that is, for resolutions or amendments to resolutions. In such cases more time was needed—at least twenty minutes.

Martov agreed with Comrade Orlov that argument in favour of a resolution required more time than a mere contribution to discussion. For the sake of saving time he supported the proposal to limit the number of speeches, considering that in exceptional cases the congress could waive the general rule. He was against any special procedure being adopted for particular questions.

Deutsch proposed that fifteen minutes be allowed for a first speech and ten minutes for a second. He agreed with limiting the number of speeches.

Lieber: The rapporteur must always have the last word. Chairman: This is the normal procedure, so it is not laid down in the standing orders.

Lange proposed to add a point about the desirability, in exceptional cases, of departing from the rule of laying down a limited time for the rapporteurs’ speeches.

By a majority of 22 to 13 a period of half an hour was laid down for rapporteurs’ speeches. Comrade Lange’s proposal was also accepted.

A period of twenty minutes was adopted for the introduction of reasoned proposals. It was agreed to limit the number of times a delegate could speak to three.

Martov raised the question of the right of persons with a consultative voice to take part in voting on the standing orders. This question was decided in the affirmative.

Gusev proposed that ten minutes be allowed for first and second speeches, and five minutes for a third.

It was decided to allow 10 minutes for each speech.

Paragraph 2 of the congress standing orders was adopted.

Martov proposed that where all questions of a formal character were concerned, that is, questions relating to the order of business (Geschäftsordnung ), voting should include all persons present; that is, he proposed including also those persons with only a consultative voice. Where questions of substance were before the congress, however,

Lenin considered that this would make counting difficult, and proposed that a uniform procedure for voting be adopted, that is, that only those with mandates be allowed to vote.

This proposal was adopted.

Lieber observed that persons with a consultative voice had already taken part in voting.

Lenin pointed out that this had concerned only the standing orders.

Paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 of the standing orders were adopted.

Yudin asked whether resolutions would require absolute or relative majorities for adoption.

Muravyov: What is to be done about abstentions? If some of the delegates abstain, that means they consider themselves incompetent to vote on the question. I propose, therefore, that questions be decided by a majority of those voting.

Makhov: Regardless of the number of abstentions, it may also not be possible to get an absolute majority in cases when votes are split up among several resolutions.

Plekhanov proposed that in such cases a second vote be taken, the result of which should be accepted regardless of the number of abstentions.

Lieber: The resolutions of this congress will be of enormous importance. The lack of an absolute majority for some resolutions would reduce their importance. Therefore I propose that resolutions adopted by absolute majority only. If an absolute majority cannot be obtained, the question should be referred to a commission which would compose a generally-acceptable resolution.

Chairman: And if, even then, no absolute majority can achieved?

Lieber: Then no resolution whatsoever should be adopted.

Posadovsky: The congress decisions are binding on the whole Party. Therefore, in cases when resolutions are approved by only a few representatives of the Party, it would be best not to adopt them at all.

Makhov proposed that, when an absolute majority could not be obtained for a resolution, a second vote should be taken, the result of which should be accepted as decisive in every case.

Martov: Points such as those which Comrades Lieber and Posadovsky have proposed have never been included in any standing orders. I propose that resolutions be adopted after a second vote, even though only a relative majority be obtained again, since the majority validates the resolution. Abstention from voting shows that those abstaining do not want to associate themselves with the majority’s decisions, but will not go so far in their protest as to associate themselves with the minority. In such cases the number of abstentions should be halved, since we must not allow a resolution to be lost through abstentions from voting.

Gusev: Three concepts are being confused here: relative, absolute and simple majority. A relative majority is possible only when three or more resolutions are involved. Where there are two resolutions only, there can only be a simple majority.

Martynov: It is unthinkable that we should accept the proposal that we refrain from taking decisions, since in that case extremely important points might have to be left out of the programme. I pro pose that when there is only a relative majority the decision be referred to the commission, and if an absolute majority cannot be secured then, that a decision be adopted nevertheless. Individual Party members may be incompetent to decide questions, but the Social-Democratic Party as a whole cannot refuse to take decisions.

Koltsov: Referring questions to the commission would be pointless, since these resolutions will come back again from a commission in which, we must assume, the different points of view are represented. It would be better to take a second vote.

Lenin: I propose that all questions be decided by a simple majority of votes cast.

Lieber: Opinions become clear only in the course of debates. Perhaps a question has not been clarified sufficiently for voting to take place straightaway. Withdrawing my own proposal, I support the proposal that a resolution which has not obtained an absolute majority be referred to a commission made up of representatives of the different viewpoints, and that a second vote by the congress be accepted as conclusive even if the majority is only relative.

The congress adopted Comrade Makhov’s proposal [see Paragraph 8 of the standing orders.] Paragraph 8 was approved.

Koltsov proposed, in order to facilitate the work of the Bureau, that resolutions be submitted in writing, except for those dealing with questions of a formal character.

This proposal was adopted [see Paragraph 9 of the standing orders], and standing orders as a whole were approved.

The congress proceeded to examine the list of questions presented for it to discuss. This list was put forward by the Organising Committee [see the Agenda].

Lieber: What is meant by the point: ‘the national question’? Why is it separated from the point: ‘draft programme’? Are we to understand that the national question is a tactical question? Why is this question not included among those of cardinal importance?

Lenin: According to plan, the question of the Party programme has been put second. The national question comes into the programme, and decisions on it will be taken when this is discussed. The question of territorial and national organisations in general is an organisational question. And the question of our attitude to the nationalities in particular is a tactical question and constitutes an application of our general principles to practical activity.

Martov: The national question is bound up with questions of tactics in so far as the Social-Democrats, as a Party, define their attitude to different national protest movements. True, such questions cannot be finally resolved independently of the settlement of questions of principfe, but this does not prevent us from treating them separately.

Gusev: I propose one additional heading: ‘any other questions’, in case unforeseen questions should come up.

Martov: I propose that either a heading like this be provided in advance, or that questions that may arise in connection with matters already raised, or resulting from such matters, be referred to the Bureau.

Lenin: Neither procedure is called for, since the congress always has the right to take up such questions if requested to do so by a majority.

Lieber: What is meant by the point: ‘national organisations’? This question is presented as though it is distinct from the question of the position of the Bund in the Party.

Lenin: The first point in the list [Point 2 of the agenda.] is concerned specially with the organisation of the Bund. The sixth point [Point 7 of the Agenda.] is concerned with organisation of the Party. In laying down a general rule regarding local, district, national and other organisations, a special question arises: what sort of organisations are these, and on what conditions are they to be drawn into the Party?

The list of questions for discussion by the congress was adopted. Additional questions, it was decided, could be raised if the request was supported by not less than ten votes.

The congress proceeded to discuss the order in which questions should be discussed [see Agenda].

Lieber: The agenda proposed by the Organising Committee is not satisfactory. Why is the question of the position of the Bund in the Party put before all the others? After all, the Bund is present at this Congress as an autonomous section, that is, on the basis of its position at the First Congress. Consequently, the question of a change in the Bund’s position in the Party can be discussed only along with and in connection with other questions of Party organisation. This way of discussing the matter is what needs to be followed, for this reason also, that our view of the Bund’s position in the Party will depend, to a large extent if not completely, on our view of questions of Party organisation in general. The agenda I propose is as follows: (1) reports, (2) programmatic questions, (3) questions of Party organisation, and, in connection with these, the question of the position of the Bund in the Party. This agenda has the following advantages. Before proceeding to discuss particular questions one must have an idea of the movement’s position in the different parts of the country; this is all the more necessary because over five years have passed since the First Congress of the Party, and during this period the picture presented by the movement has altered markedly. The rapporteurs can point out in the usual way, in the course of their reports, the questions and aspects of the movement which are most in need of elucidation, and so on. Programmatic questions should be taken next. Before proceeding to discuss other questions we need to reach agreement on the terrain of principle, of the programme. Essentially, the RSDLP has hitherto lacked an official programme, and is only now proposing to adopt one, and it is self-evident that, first and foremost, we must reach unity on the terrain of the programme. The character of the programme can, moreover, have a marked bearing on the Party’s organisational principle.

The session was concluded



[3] At the first session Yegorov (delegate from Yuzhny Rabochy and a member of the Organising Committee) and Goldblatt, of the Bund, had not yet arrived. Yegorov arrived for the second session, and Goldblatt for the tenth.

[4] Plekhanov’s ‘humanist knight’ is Ulrich von Hutten (1488-1523), on whom see Engels, in The Peasant War in Germany. In a letter to a friend in 1518, early in the Reformation period, he wrote: ‘O seculum! Juvat vivere.’

[5] This refers to the conferences held at Byelostok in March 1902 and at Pskov in November 1902. The precise dates were not given here for security reasons.

[6] The 27th committee, whose representative did not arrive, having been arrested while crossing the Russian frontier, was the Nizhny-Novgorod committee.

[7] Lydia Makhnovets took as her pseudonym the name of Louis de Brouckère (18701951), a Belgian Socialist who was at this time prominent in the Second International.