Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

Eleventh Session

(Present: 43 delegates with 51 deciding votes and 10 [The two representatives of the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania had now been added.] with consultative voice.)

The session opened with reading of the minutes of the 5th session.

Martov (on a point of order): In view of the fact that the minutes take up so much of our time, I propose that we change the procedure for reading them. At the German Party congresses the minutes are not read out at sessions, but every speaker has the right to peruse them and make corrections, with the secretary’s consent. I propose that we introduce the same procedure.

A discussion took place on this question, in which it was pointed out, among other things, that the German Social-Democrats had their own daily press, in which congress reports were published, so that any necessary corrections could be made at once. Eventually the congress decided to retain the old procedure for reading and approving the minutes.

Chairman: Who wishes to make any corrections to the minutes of the 5th session as read?

Lieber mentioned that in Comrade Lvov’s speech the evidence he had given for the Bund’s separatism had been omitted: namely, his reference to the Bund’s holding a separate May Day demonstration from that of the PPS in Warsaw.

Abramson drew attention to the omission from the minutes of the statement by Comrade Lvov that ‘relations with the Bund were good only so long as it stayed at home, and deteriorated when it began to extend its sphere of activity’.

Trotsky explained that what Comrade Lvov meant was: ‘The separatism of the Bund was not harmful to the Party so long as the Bund remained content with its own sphere of activity, but it became harmful when the Bund began to extend its area of influence.’

Koltrov: We cannot add to the speeches that have been made. We can only ask, in the course of a speech, that some particular statement by the speaker be included in the minutes.

Abramson: pointed out that one could not know beforehand what would be included in the minutes and what would not.

Chairman: In view of Comrade Lvov’s absence I propose that we include the additions proposed by Lieber and Abramson, and Trotsky’s explanation, in the minutes of today’s session. The minutes as they have been read should not be altered, but taken as approved.

This proposal was adopted by the congress.

The secretary of the Bureau presented the list of persons elected to the commission for working over the reports from committees, etc. Those elected were: Zasulich, Popov and Fomin.

The Chairman asked the congress if it desired to postpone consideration of the fourth item in the agenda until the reports had come back from the commission, and proceed to the next item, or if the session should be adjourned.

Lyadov proposed that the report of the Moscow Committee be read: since it was ready and would be of interest to all present it could be read in full, without abridgement.

Plekhanov said that it was the commission’s task to decide which reports should be read in full and which should be abridged.

Lenin proposed that there be an adjournment, after which the commission might give an account of its work.

An adjournment was announced, after which the rapporteur of the commission which had been elected addressed the congress.

Popov: At the request of the comrades from the Bund, and since their report is ready, and should be of interest to all present, the commission considers that it should be read in full, and proposes that the reading of reports begin with this one.

The spokesman of the Bund gave his report. [The reports will be published separately.]

After the report of the Bund had been heard, Comrade Martov said that many delegates had questions to ask, arising from the report which had been read, which it would be interesting to get answers to at once. He therefore proposed that everyone who wished to put questions to the spokesman of the Bund should do so and that the latter deal with them there and then.

Martov’s proposal was adopted.

Comrade Lieber was asked a large number of questions by numerous delegates. Why was a point included in the rules of the Bund giving the Central Committee the right to veto any congress delegate elected by a committee? Was the Socialist-Revolutionary organisation included among the organisations with which the Bund had relations? What were the sources of the Bund’s funds? In which towns were there authorised committees of the Bund? What groups did the delegates to the Bund’s Fifth Congress form in the voting at that congress? Were there different theoretical tendencies in the Bund? Did the so-called workshop organisations exist now? Had the Bund any dealings with the Osvobozhdenie Party? On what organisational principle were the local committees composed: were they elected? What was the number of votes east for each resolution moved at the Fifth Congress? Were there members of trade unions among the 30,000 workers organised in the Bund, and if so, how many? Why had the number of local organs decreased, and what was to be the character of the organ set up by the Fifth Congress?

Gorin: I should like to put one question to the comrades from the Bund. When I was in Byelostok the non-Jewish (Polish and German) workers of one of the textile milis in that town went on strike. The boss of the factory invited Jews, working on hand-looms, to take the places of these workers. Jewish workers who had been embittered by the way their own strikes had constantly been broken by non-Jewish workers were inclined to think that the offer should be accepted, and were held back only by the feeling that it was not good for Jews, whom everyone was against, to engage in strike-breaking. It must be appreciated that half of the workers in Byelostok are Jews, but they all work on hand-looms: they are not employed by the factory owners, because the non-Jewish workers do not allow it. Relations between Jewish and non-Jewish workers are strained. I should like to know what the Bund has done about this state of affairs in Byelostok, which is regarded as an important centre of the labour movement. [Lieber’s answers to these questions were not included in the minutes.]

Lange: Has the Bund helped the Osvobozhdenie Party in the matter of transport?

Abramson: The Osvobozhdenie Party approached the Bund with this proposal, and offered very advantageous terms, but the Bund rejected the proposal. It took the same line with the Socialist Revolutionaries.

Muravyov was not satisfied with Lieber’s answer. He wanted to know the number of delegates from local committees and the number from the Central Committee. When was the veto introduced?

Lieber: The number of members of the Central Committee is not known to anyone, as it has the right to co-opt.

The Chairman pointed out that only twenty minutes were left, and a number of practical questions had to be settled.

Martov proposed that discussion of the Bund’s report be terminated.

Plekhanov asked the comrades from the Bund for their view, derived from their practical experience, as to whether the principles of what was now referred to as ‘democratism’ were applicable in the case of local committees.

Lieber: We have found, from practical experience, that it is not possible to apply the democratic principles advocated by some of our comrades.

After this, questions on the Bund report were terminated. The rapporteur of the credentials commission was called on to speak.

Koltsov: As the members of the congress know, the commission has been invited to admit to our sessions a second delegate from the Mining and Metallurgical Association. The commission has ascertained that the position is as follows. The Mining and Metallurgical Association had the right to send two delegates to the congress. These two delegates were duly elected, and two alternative delegates as well. But one of the delegates did not come to the congress, for certain purely personal reasons. Then the delegate who did come to the congress proposed to the Association that it recognise as its second delegate another person, who had been endorsed by the Association. It must be mentioned that this person was not one of those who had been duly elected by the Association as an alternative delegate. Furthermore it is obvious that the election was carried out in this case in conditions somewhat different from those governing the election of all other delegates to this congress. Again, I have to add that the commission has been unable to obtain any information about the local work of the proposed delegate. Consequently, the Commission proposes that the congress pass the following resolution. [‘Although no unfavourable evidence was given to the commission regarding the delegate proposed by the Mining and Metallurgical Association, nevertheless, since (a) the period laid down by the Organising Committee for the nomination of delegates has expired long ago, and since (b) the commission has been able to obtain only very meagre information about the local work of this person—the second congress of the RSDLP finds it impossible to admit the proposed delegate to its sessions.’ (Resolution by the commission.)]

Lvov expressed regret that the Mining and Metallurgical Association had not taken the trouble to furnish information regarding the new delegate, and proposed that the Association submit to the decision of the congress.[20]

The resolution was passed by a majority.

The session was closed.



[20] The Mining Association delegate who was not accepted by the congress was E.G. Mankovskaya. The one originally elected who failed to arrive was M.S. Balabanov.