Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

Twenty-third Session

(Present, 43 delegates with 51 mandates and 12 persons with consultative voice.)

Martov: Out of all the objections advanced against my formula I will deal with the one about the impracticability of my first paragraph, that is, control by Party organisations over members of the Party. I think the position is just the reverse of what has been said. Control is practicable, inasmuch as, having assigned a function to somebody, the committee will be able to watch over it. The purpose aimed at by Lenin’s rules, however, is essentially unrealisable. In Lenin’s opinion, there should be no organisations in the Party other than ‘Party organisations’. As I see it, on the contrary, such other organisations must exist. Life creates and breeds organisations faster than we can include them in the hierarchy of our fighting organisation of professional revolutionaries. Lenin thinks that the Central Committee will confer the title of Party organisations only on such as are fully reliable in the matter of principles. But Comrade Brouckère understands very well that life will assert itself and that the CC, in order not to leave a multitude of organisations outside the Party, will have to legitimise them despite their not quite reliable character; that is why Comrade Brouckère associates himself with Lenin.

I for my part think that if such an organisation is prepared to accept the Party programme and Party control then we may admit it to the Party, without thereby making it a Party organisation. I would consider it a great triumph for our Party if, for example, some union of ‘independents’ were to declare that they accepted the views of Social-Democracy and its programme, and were joining the Party which does not, however, mean that we would include the union in the Party organisation. I support Lenin’s idea that we need to have, besides an organisation of professional revolutionaries, also lose Organisationen of various sorts. But only our formula expressed the desire to have a series of organisations between the organisation of professional revolutionaries and the masses. For us the workers’ party does not consist only of an organisation of professional revolutionaries. It is that, plus the whole aggregate of active, advanced elements of the proletariat.

Plekhanov: I had no preconceived view on the paragraph of the rules now being discussed. When, this morning, I heard the supporters of the two opposing views speak, I found that I leaned now to this side, now to that’. But the more that was said on the subject and the more attentively I listened to the speeches the more convinced I became that Lenin is right. The whole question bolls down to this: what elements can be included in our Party? According to Lenin’s draft, only someone who joins a particular organisation can be regarded as a Party member. Those who oppose his draft say that this will cause unnecessary difficulties. But what do these difficulties consist of? They talk of persons who do not want to join, or who can’t join, one of our organisations. But why can’t they? As someone who has himself taken part in Russian revolutionary organisations, I say that I do not admit the existence of objective conditions constituting an insuperable obstacle to anyone’s joining. And as for those gentlemen who do not wan t to join, we have no need of them. It has been said here that some professor who sympathises with our views may find it humiliating to join a local organisation. In this connection I remember Engels saying that when it becomes your lot to deal with professors, you have to be prepared for the worst. [Laughter.] The example is, in fact, an extremely bad one. If some Professor of Egyptology considers, because he has by heart the names of all the Pharaohs, and knows all the prayers that the Egyptians submitted to the bull Apis, that it is beneath his dignity to join our organisation, we have no need of that professor. To talk of control by the Party over persons who are outside the organisation means playing with words. In practice such control is impossible. Akselrod was wrong in citing the 1870s. At that time there was a well-organised and splendidly disciplined centre; around it there were the organisations, of various categories, which it had created; and what remained outside these organisations was chaos, anarchy. The component members of this chaos called themselves Party members, but that harmed rather than benefited the cause. We should not imitate the anarchy of the 1870s, but avoid it.

The supporters of Martov’s draft say that the right to call oneself a Party member has great moral significance. But I do not agree. If it is all useful to recall the example of the 1870s, then it is in this very connection. When Zhelyabov said in court that he was not a member of the Executive Committee, but only one of its agents, at the fourth level of trust, this did not reduce the fascination exerted by that famous Committee, but enhanced it. It will be the same now. If somebody says that he sympathises with our Party but does not belong to it because, unfortunately, he cannot satisfy all its requirements, the Party’s prestige will only increase as a result.

I do not understand, either, why it is thought that, if Lenin’s draft is adopted, that will shut the door of our Party on a lot of workers. Workers who want to join the Party are not afraid of entering an organisation. Discipline has no terrors for them. Many intellectuals, thoroughly imbued with bourgeois individualism, are afraid of joining an organisation. But that is a good thing. These bourgeois individualists are usually also representatives of every sort of opportunism. We need to keep them at arm’s length. Lenin’s draft can serve as a bulwark against their entry into the Party, and if only for that reason all opponents of opportunism should vote for it.

Rusov: I have no sympathy with opportunists and Bernsteinists and should not like to see them in the Party, but I cannot agree with Comrade Plekhanov. It seems to me that the danger which Comrade Lenin presents as threatening us if we adopt the second formula is quite unreal. The title of ‘Party member’ which is conferred by the rules does not give the person who bears it any rights in relation to the Party, but only a mass of obligations. Given the absence of the electoral principle in all Party organisations, the strict centralisation that prevails, and the answerability of everybody working for the Party to its central institutions, there is no reason to fear penetration by elements constituting a threat to purity of principles. After all, those members of whom Lenin’s formula speaks are already in Party organisations, registered, and with duties in the sphere of competence of the organisation to which they belong. In order that they may be regarded as Party members and have imposed upon them the duty of helping the Party, there is no need to introduce a new title.

Comrade Lenin would be logical if he were to strike out the whole of the first paragraph, or replace it with a paragraph stating that a basic unit of the Party is any group, any organisation, which is confirmed by the central organs of the Party and which fulfils some Party function. But, in adopting this, we should be leaving outside the Party that mass of proletarians and individual townspeople who, while not belonging to any Party organisation, serve as instruments in the hands of the organisation for accomplishing its tasks. Every practical worker present here, if he will only try to recall all the persons who work in the localities, will agree that people like that are especially numerous among the workers. Attaching them to the Party, while doing no harm at all to its work and its ideological purity, will at the same time enable it to know at any moment the minimum force upon which it can count. In addition, such attachment will enable the Party to require of all these persons that they fulfil unconditionally the obligations which the Party imposes upon its members. These obligations can be particular Party resolutions and also decisions by the central organs. Reminding comrades, once again, that a Party member will have no rights but, on the contrary, a mass of obligations towards the Party, I invite you to support Comrade Martov’s resolution.

Pavlovich: I always treat with some caution Comrade Brouckère’s declarations of solidarity with us on any question. In the present instance, Comrade Brouckère is with us owing to a misunderstanding. Comrade Lenin’s entire organisational plan is unified by the idea of centralism. But Comrade Lenin has tried to ensure that the negative aspects of centralism are present to the least possible extent. As a supporter of ‘democratism’, Comrade Brouckère was led into error by the first paragraph. It is certainly not to our interest to dilute the Party’s ranks with dubious elements. I appreciate his good intentions, but his mistake lies in that he sees the process of a growth of the Social-Democratic movement not dynamically but statically. Acceptance of the programme presupposes, after all, a fairly high level of Political consciousness. But if we are to go the way of Martov, we should first of all delete the clause on accepting the programme, for before a programme can be accepted it must be mastered and understood. Lenin’s paragraph provides for acceptance not only of the programme but also of the relations laid down by the Party rules. Translated into simple terms this means (though the translation may not please Comrade Lieber): ‘If you want to be a Party member, your acceptance of organisational relations too must be not merely Platonic.’

We have been told here about those individuals—professors and officials—who are not afraid to go under the canopy of Martov’s resolution but are frightened by Comrade Lenin’s. But, comrades, the Party rules are written not for professors but for proletarians, who are not so shy as professors, and they, I hope, are not afraid of organisation and collective activity. In general, rules are written not for individuals but for collectives. I will go further and say: these individuals who do not have the sanction of any Party organisation cannot be called, either formally or really, representatives of the Party. As for those affiliated organisations, of high-school boys, writers, correspondents, and so on, about whom Lieber is so concerned, I say to him that all that is needed is simply for one of our organisations to decide how Social-Democratic they are and assign them functions and responsibility in the appropriate field, and within that field they will have to bring their actions into line with ours. If these high-school boys and students persist in their bourgeois outlook, then I see in that no loss to the Social-Democratic movement. By adopting Martov’s formula we irresponsibly admit an anarchic mass to membership of the Party. We must not proceed from the assumption that Russia is a tabula rasa. Even today there is not a single important centre in Russia where we do not have an organisation, or the elements of one. How we are to reconcile the conception of our Party, ramified all over Russia, with the existence, acting alongside of it, of some irresponsible persons who have enrolled themselves in the Party, and how this anarchistic conception is to be reconciled with Comrade Martov’s own statement that our Party must be the conscious spokesman of an unconscious process, I leave it to the comrades to decide.

Muravyov: I think Comrade Rusov’s objection to Lenin’s draft, that it would leave many people outside the Party, is without foundation. Lenin’s plan embraces, besides ‘Party organisations’ in the strict sense, a number of other organisations, which various circles and individuals can easily join.

Trotsky: I was very surprised when Comrade Plekhanov advocated voting for Comrade Lenin’s formula on the grounds that it is a reliable means against opportunism. I did not know that one could exorcise opportunism by means of rules. I think that opportunism is produced by more complex causes. Finally, I did not realise that opportunists are organically incapable of organisation. I know the Jaurésist party, which is organised opportunism. I have not forgotten the organisation of our economists. No, it seems to me that this dispute is much less principled in character. Why cannot a person join our organisation, if he accepts our programme? asks Comrade Plekhanov, and answers: This is obviously a question of intellectuals’ individualism, and we must fight against that.

But the point is that Lenin’s formula, against intellectuals’ individualism, hits a quite different target. It is much easier for the intellectual youth, organised in one way or another, to enter themselves on the rolls of the Party. Societies of high-school pupils, Red Cross organisations, and especially organisations of students coming from the same part of the country are very much longer-lasting than any broad (lose ) workers’ organisations. Organisations of students from the same area survive for several years, whereas broad workers’ organisations break up daily, under the impact of strikes, crises and migration by the workers. So, Comrade Lenin’s definition takes its stand on the difference in conditions between the intelligentsia and the workers. The author of this definition says that it enables us to know at any moment what forces we can lead into battle; but I am afraid that when Comrade Lenin looks at his lists at the critical moment, he will find there societies of students from the same area, and young ladies, very good Social-Democratic young ladies, grouped in the Red Cross … I do not accord any mystical significance to the rules, and I don’t think that they will shift the centre of gravity of our work into the milieu of societies of students from the same area and Young ladies belonging to the Red Cross. No, our field of work will remain, as before, of course, the proletariat. But if statutory definitions are to correspond to actual relations, Comrade Lenin’s formulation must be rejected. I repeat: it misses its mark. Its author, and, especially, its defender, Comrade Plekhanov, want to make it a noose to hang those politically corrupt and depraved characters from the ‘intellectual’ milieu, calling themselves Social-Democrats, who form Young people into groups and hand them over to Peter Struve. Believe me, comrades, I would be the first to grasp at any formula that would serve as a noose for those gentry, I would pull it tight with enthusiasm. But won’t these gentry be able to join any broad (lose ) Party organisation? Won’t they be able to form for themselves some such organisation? You will say that the CC wouldn’t recognise it. Why not? Obviously, not because of the character of the organisation itself, but because of that of the persons belonging to it. That means that the CC Will know MM and NN as political personalities. But in that case they would not be dangerous, and would be got rid of by a general Party boycott. But what is the sense, I ask, of restricting the rights and status of those individual intellectuals who take their stand on the Party programme and renler services to the Party in their individual capacity, under the direction of a Party organisation? Must the CC say to any such individual Social-Democrat living in the town of Penza: ‘Before you can enjoy your minimum rights as a Party member you must link up with similar individuals in Samara and Kaluga. This is because we have now thought up a formula for keeping your intellectual individualism at bay.’[26]

Lenin: I should like first of all to make two remarks on particular points. First, as regards Akselrod’s kind proposal (I am not speaking ironically) to ‘strike a bargain’. I would willingly respond to this appeal, for I do not at all consider our difference so vital as to be a matter of life and death for the Party. We shall certainly not perish because of a bad point in the rules! But since it has come to a choice between two formulations, I simply cannot abandon my firm conviction that Martov’s formulation is a worsening of the original draft, a worsening which may, in certain circumstances, cause no little harm to the Party. My second remark concerns Comrade Brouckère. It is only natural for Comrade Brouckère, who wants to apply the elective principle everywhere, to have accepted my formulation, the only one that defines at all exactly the conception of a member of the Party. I therefore fail to understand Comrade Martov’s delight at Comrade Brouckère’s agreement with me. Can it be that Comrade Martov actually takes it as his guiding principle to be against whatever Brouckère says, without examining this comrade’s motives and arguments?

To come to the substance of the question, I must say that Comrade Trotsky has completely failed to understand Comrade Plekhanov’s fundamental idea, and his arguments have therefore entirely missed the heart of the matter. He spoke about intellectuals and workers, about the class point of view and about the mass movement, but he failed to notice one basic question: does my formulation narrow or enlarge the concept of a Party member? If he had asked himself that question, he would easily have seen that my formulation narrows this concept, whereas Martov’s enlarges it, for what distinguishes his concept is (to use Martov’s own, correct expression) its ‘elasticity. And in the period of the Party’s life which we are now passing through it is just this ‘elasticity’ that most certainly opens the door to all the elements of confusion, vacillation and opportunism. In order to refute this simple and obvious conclusion it would be necessary to show that such elements do not exist, but even Comrade Trotsky has not thought of doing that. Nor can it be shown, for everyone knows that such elements exist in plenty, and that they are to be found in the working class too. Safeguarding the firmness of the Party’s line and the purity of its principles has now become all the more urgent because, with the restoration of its unity, the Party will recruit many unstable elements, whose numbers will increase as the Party grows.

Comrade Trotsky understood very incorrectly the fundamental idea of my book What Is To Be Done?, when he spoke about the Party not being a conspiratorial organisation (many others also raised this objection). He forgot that in my book I advocate a whole series of organisations of different types, from the most secret and exclusive to comparatively broad and ‘loose’ (lose ) organisations. He forgot that the Party must be only the vanguard, the leader of the vast mass of the working class, the whole of which (or nearly the whole) works ‘under the control and direction’ of the Party organisations, but the whole of which does not and should not belong to the Party. Let us look, indeed, and see what conclusions Comrade Trotsky derives from his fundamental mistake. He has told us here that if rank after rank of workers were arrested, and all these workers were to declare that they did not belong to our Party, our Party would be a strange one! Isn’t it the other way round? Isn’t it Comrade Trotsky’s reasoning that is strange? He sees as something sad that which a revolutionary with any experience at all could only rejoice at. If hundreds and thousands of workers who were arrested for taking part in strikes and demonstrations proved not to be members of Party organisations, that would only show that our organisations are good, that we are fulfilling our task of keeping a more or less exclusive circle of leaders in secrecy and drawing the widest possible masses into the movement.

The root of the mistake made by those who support Martov’s formulation is that they not only overlook one of the main evils of our Party life but even give it their blessing. This evil is that, in an atmosphere of almost universal discontent, when conditions require our work to be carried on in complete secrecy, and when most of our activity has to be confined to close, secret groups and even private meetings, it extremely difficult, almost impossible, for us to distinguish those who chatter from those who do the work. And there is hardly any other place where the jumbling of these two categories is as common, and as productive of such boundless confusion and harm as in Russia. We are suffering severely from this evil, not only among the intelligentsia but also among the working class, and Comrade Martov’s formulation sanctions it. This formulation inevitably aspires to make all and sundry into Party members. Comrade Martov himself had to admit this, with the comment: ‘Yes, if you like.’ But that is just what we do not like! And that is just why we are so resolute in our opposition to Martov’s formulation. It would be better if ten who do work should not call themselves Party members (those who really work don’t run after titles!) than that one chatterer should have the right and the opportunity to be a Party member. That is a principle which seems to me irrefutable, and which compels me to oppose Martov.

The objection has been put to me that we confer no rights upon Party members, and that therefore no abuses can occur. Such an objection is untenable: while we have not stated what particular rights a Party member enjoys, note that neither have we said anything about any restriction on the rights of Party members. That is point one. And secondly—and this is the main point—irrespective even of rights, we must not forget that every Party member is responsible for the Party, and that the Party is responsible for every one of its members. In view of the conditions in which we have to carry on our political activities, in view of the rudimentary state of our political organisation at the present time, it would be simply dangerous and harmful to grant the right of membership to persons who are not members of an organisation and to make the Party responsible for persons who are not members of an organisation (perhaps deliberately). Comrade Martov was horrified at the idea that somebody may, in spite of the energetic work he may have done, lack the right to declare in court that he is a Party member. That does not frighten me. On the contrary, serious harm would be done if a person who calls himself a Party member, even though he does not belong to any Party organisation, were to show up badly in court. It would be impossible to deny that such a person was working under the control and direction of an organisation—impossible because of the very vagueness of this expression. Actually—and there can be no doubt about this—the words ‘under the control and direction’ will result in there being neither control nor direction. The Central Committee will never be able to exercise real control over all who work but do not belong to organisations. It is our task to endow the Central Committe with real control. It is our task to safeguard the firmness and maintain the purity of our Party. We must strive to raise the calling and importance of a Party member high, higher and still higher—and for this reason I oppose Martov’s formulation.

Kostrov: The rules exist for life, life does not exist for the rules. Let us look and see to what extent Lenin’s draft of the rules corresponds to the actual state of affairs. We have Social-Democratic Committees consisting of a few advanced revolutionaries. These committees stand at the head of the local labour movement. Behind them, behind these leaders, there is a whole mass of fighters, revolutionary workers who distribute proclamations, collect money, demonstrate in the streets, go to prison and into exile, but who do not belong either to a Committee or to any other organisation. Are these fighters, these soldiers of ours, not Party members? Must we exclude them from the Party? Who will be left in the Party? Only generals without an army. That means disorganising all our work in Russia, and setting our own comrades against the Party. Comrade Plekhanov says that in the days of Narodnaya Volya the party was identical with the organisation. I believe that to be true, but we must not forget that the Narodnaya Volya party was a party of intellectuals, whereas ours is a party of the masses, of the proletariat. And one cannot include the masses in the organisation: that would be unthinkable in the present state of Russia. Consequently, our Party must consist of the organisation, those prime movers of the Party, plus a mass of fighters who are outside the organisation but are still members of the Party. Therefore, adopting Lenin’s draft means disorganising the entire party, and I propose that it be rejected.

Akimov: The question of the choice between two versions of the first paragraph of the rules has divided comrades who up to now have always voted together. On this matter I part company with Comrade Brouckère. This is because the two formulas proposed have essentially one and the same aim. Comrades Martov and Lenin are arguing as to which of their formulations will best achieve their common aim; Brouckère and I want to choose the one which is least likely to achieve that aim. From this angle I choose Martov’s formulation. Many have spoken here about which version will best protect our Party from harmful elements, and as an illustration we have had given us the example of the professor of archaeology who is to be either admitted to the Party or not admitted, depending on the degree of purity of his Social-Democratic views. This example was taken only so as to hide the fear felt by the authors of the draft at the entry into our Party of elements of a type quite different from that mythical professor.

Comrade Plekhanov said this morning he did not know which of the two formulations he was going to support, but that does not mean, of course, that he had not already decided what sort of organisation our Party needed. Already in his commentaries on the draft programme, Plekhanov expressed himself quite definitely on that point. ‘If we are not mistaken,’ he wrote, ‘there is not one of our comrades who now has any doubt that our Party needs an organisation of the same type as Zemlya i Volya and Narodnaya Volya; they disagree only about the quickest way to achieve that’—I quote from memory. And now both authors are presenting the congress with texts of Paragraph One of the rules which seek to achieve that aim. Their very aim is impracticable and harmful. Too much has changed since the days when Narodnaya Volya perished: quite different strata of society are now the chief bearers of revolutionary tasks, and the tasks themselves have changed considerably. Even a priori i t seems impossible that a mass, class movement of the proletariat can be satisfied with the old conspiratorial organisation. Of course, the average revolutionary worker of today inevitably must be on a lower level as regards knowledge, and even as regards consciousness, than the ‘professional revolutionary’, and so you want to lock yourselves up in a special ‘organisation of revolutionaries’, and devise a set of rules to ensure that the non-professional revolutionary cannot, with his uneducated conception of the tasks of our Party, spoil all our work. I am glad that you have taken care to fence yourselves in. I am confident that the realities of life will, nevertheless, force their way into our Party organisation, whether you bar their path with Martov’s formulation or with Lenin’s. But while Comrade Lenin finds that Martov’s text is not such a serious worsening of his plan, I recognise in it an improvement, even if not too big an improvement, because Lenin’s formula shuts out of our Party the entire mass of its active workers, leaving only a handful of ‘professional revolutionaries’.

Gusev: It falls to my lot to be the last to speak. After all that has been said, I have nothing to add. I am for Lenin’s formulation, because it comes closer to the plan of organisation expressed in the rules which have been put before us.

The Congress voted. Lenin’s formulation was rejected (in a roll-call vote) by 28 to 23. [Voting for were: Bekov (2 votes), Gusev, Tsaryov, Osipov, Medvedev, Pavlovich, Stepanov, Sorokin, Lyadov, Gorin, Muravyov, Lange, Dyedov, Orlov, Yegorov, Gorsky, Brouckère, Plekhanov, Lenin (2 votes), Hertz, Braun. Voting against weré: Rusov (2 votes), Karsky (2 votes), Makhov (2 votes), Lvov (2 votes), Kostich, Ivanov, Panin (2 votes), Byelov, Fomin, Posadovsky, Trotsky, Lensky, Popov, Akimov, Martynov, Deutsch, Martov (2 votes), Hofman, Goldblatt, Lie ber, Yudin, Abramson.]

Martov’s formulation was adopted by 28 to 22, with one abstention. [Voting for were: Rusov (2 votes), Karsky (2 votes), Makhov (2 votes), Lvov (2 votes), Kostich, Ivanov, Panin (2 votes), Byelov, Fomin, Trotsky, Posadovsky, Lensky, Popov, Akimov, Martynov, Deutsch, Martov (2 votes), Hofman, Goldblatt, Yudin, Lieber, Abramson. Voting against : Bekov (2 votes), Gusev, Tsaryov, Osipov, Medvedev, Pavlovich, Stepanov, Sorokin, Lyadov, Gorin, Muravyov, Lange, Dyedov, Yegorov, Gorsky, Brouckère, Plekhanov, Lenin (2 votes), Hertz, Braun. Abstention: Orlov.]

Lyadov proposed that paragraph 1 should include the words: ‘supports the party financially’.

Martov: I was in a minority in the commission when it was proposed to include the point about financial support. This point is becoming especially important now, when the Social-Democratic movement is becoming increasingly proletarian. The Party must count on its own financial resources exclusively. Consequently we must train the mass of the membership to show constant concern for the Party’s funds.

The list of speakers on this question was closed.

Yegorov: I agree that the Party must exist on the resources provided by its members. But it does not follow that this should be said in paragraph 1, for the rendering of fmancial support cannot be a condition of membership. I propose that the obligation of Party members to render financial support to the Party be embodied in a separate paragraph.

Lieber proposed excluding ‘financial support’ from paragraph 1. He considered that these words would do nothing to ensure the flow of money into the Party. At the same time there was an unpleasant note sounded here, as though Party membership was something to be bought with financial contributions.

Glebov also called for the deletion of these words. This point might be needed for professors, but certainly not for broad strata of the workers, for reference to paragraph 1 had no meaning for the proletariat.

Lenin urged that the words about financial support be included, since everyone acknowledged that the Party must exist on its members’ resources. One could not allude to moral considerations when dealing with the establishment of a political party.

The proposal to include the words about financial support was adopted by 26 to 18.

Akimov proposed a different formulation of paragraph 1 [Akimov’s resolution: ‘A member of the RSDLP is one who accepts the basic propositions of its programme and renders personal assistance to the Party under the direction of one of its organisations.’] and said, in support of it: I propose this amendment in order that our rules may not contradict unavoidable reality. Very few conscious members of our Party will be found who are absolutely in agreement with all the theses of the programme. And yet, according to paragraph 1 of the draft, even somebody who disagrees only with the agrarian part of the programme cannot be a Party member. It is therefore necessary to say that only the basic propositions of the programme must be shared by every member. This will correspond to the rules of the Social-Democratic Parties of Western Europe. I recall that Kautsky disagreed with Adler on one important question of the programme which was adopted by a congress. But this could not prevent Kautsky and Adler from remaining in the same party.

Martov proposed that Comrade Akimov’s amendment be rejected, since every member of the Party was bound to accept its programme as a whole.

Lieber spoke for Comrade Akimov’s amendment. ‘Member of the Party’ was a fairly broad concept. In so far as Comrade Martov meant members of the organisation, he was right, but it was not possible to require such a degree of unanimity on all points of the programme from all those who joined the Party.

Trotsky considered Comrade Lieber’s explanations unsound. The programme was unconditionally binding on all Party members.

Pavlovich: I am surprised that Martov does not agree with Akimov. Comrade Akimov’s proposal is fully logical from the standpoint of Comrade Martov, since we have thrown out Comrade Lenin’s formulation of paragraph 1 and adopted that formulation which will open the door to non-Social-Democratic elements.

Martynov considered that the programme was binding on all Party members in the same degree. From the fact that all members might not be equally conscious it did not follow at all that they might not be equally agreed on the programme.

Plekhanov urged that Akimov’s proposal be absolutely rejected, since otherwise the doors of the Party would be opened to Bernsteinians and all sorts of bourgeois economists.

Rusov proposed that the discussion be closed.

This proposal was adopted, and the congress voted. Kostrov’s resolution [Kostrov’s resolution: ‘A member of the RSDLP is one who accepts its programme and who supports the Party by personal participation in one of the Party organisations or by rendering personal assistance under the direction of these organisations.’] was rejected. Kostich’s resolution was rejected. [Kostich’s resolution: ‘Anyone who accepts the Party programme, and who helps the Party by giving financial support and regular personal assistance under the direction of one of the Party organisations, is considered by the latter as a Party member.’xx] Rejected likewise were (1) Gusev’s amendment (to insert ‘constant’ before ‘direction’) and (2) Pavlovich’s amendment (to add ‘and accepts the general Party rules’). Comrade Akimov’s resolution was rejected.

Paragraph 1 as a whole was adopted by 35 to 1, with 12 abstentions. The rapporteur read Paragraph 2 of the rules.

Tsaryov proposed, in the first place, to substitute for ‘half the votes’—‘one-third of the votes’.

Lieber drew attention to the difficulty of convening a congress. In Russia, where organisational work was only beginning, it was necessary to approach the question of convening a congress with very great caution. One had to distinguish between the initiative for a congress and the right to convene a congress. He therefore proposed a change in the formulation.[Lieber’s resolution: ‘In an emergency a congress can be convened on the initiative of one-third of the deciding votes, if not less than two-thirds of the deciding votes are cast in favour of it.’]

Martov spoke against the amendments by Lieber and Tsaryov. He considered it necessary to keep the provision that an initiative required half the votes having the right to participate in a congress, but with the final decision on calling a congress left to the CC, which could communicate with the other committees.

Yegorov also proposed a change. [Yegorov’s resolution: ‘A congress is to be convened on the initiative of one-third of the votes, if one-half of the votes are east in favour of this.’]

Akimov proposed that the words ‘if possible’ be deleted. All the amendments and changes were rejected, and Paragraph 2 was adopted by the majority.

The session was closed



[26] Re-translated from Russian, Plekhanov’s version of the passage in the Communist Manifesto reads: ‘If they have revolutionary significance, it is only to the extent that (or: in so far as) they are faced with joining the ranks of the proletariat, to the extent that (or: in so far as) they defend not their present but their future interests, to the extent (or: in so far as) they abandon their own point of view and take up the point of view of the proletariat.’ For the standard English version of the passage, see note 9 to the Ninth Session.