Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

Twenty-eighth Session

(Present: 38 delegates with 46 mandates and 11 persons with consultative voice.)

Lenin: The Bureau has discussed the statement by Comrades Martynov and Akimov which they submitted at the morning session. I shall not say anything about the reason they give, although it is wrong and extremely strange. Nobody anywhere has spoken of closing down the Union, and Comrades Martynov and Akimov have drawn an incorrect inference from the congress’s decision regarding the League. But even the closing down of the Union could not deprive delegates of their right to take part in the work of the congress. And in just the same way, the congress cannot permit refusal to take part in voting. A member of the congress cannot merely endorse the minutes without participating in the other work of the congress. The Bureau is, for the time being, not going to present any resolution, and submits the question for discussion by the congress. The statement by Martynov and Akimov is abnormal in the highest degree and is incompatible with the status of members of the congress.

Martynov: Lenin says that our statement is abnormal in the highest degree, but it is not we who have created this abnormal situation. We are present here as delegates of an organisation, possessing the right to vote. The congress, by abolishing the organisation, has abolished our right to be its delegation. In the agenda the question of the abolition and endorsement of organisations was held over to the very end. If the congress did not manage to settle this question it was to have passed it for decision to the CC. As regards the Union, however, this question has already been settled, by an exceptional procedure, without the congress having given itself the trouble even to hear our report. I repeat, the situation has been created not by us but by the congress. All that remains for us to do now is to listen to the minutes. If the minutes had already been confirmed, we should have left the congress at once.

Pavlovich: I do not understand Comrade Martynov at all. Adopting a certain principle does not mean immediately putting it into effect. We have adopted rules, but that does not mean that they come into force at once and that some organisation is thereby immediately abolished.

Trotsky: Martynov’s statement is strange in the highest degree. Even if we abolished an organisation, that would not mean that we thereby deprived its delegates of the right to vote. If the congress decided, for instance, that it was in the interests of the Party to abolish the Baku Committee, for the organisation of transport work at least, the delegates of that Committee, participating in this decision, would still remain members of the congress. The same applies to the Union. Since, in the view of Akimov and Martynov, we have abolished their organisation, we have abolished it completely and not just partially. And it would be more consistent on their part to leave the congress altogether appearing only in order to confirm the minutes. It is illogical to engage in partial suicide. They say they do not want to take part in the work of the congress, that is, they want to remain merely objective spectators, but there is no such role to be played at a Congress.

Karsky agreed with Trotsky. Martynov is creating an unnatural situation. At this congress Iskra, the League, the ‘Emancipation of Labour’ Group have all been suppressed as separate groups, yet none of the representatives of these organisations would think of walking out.

Brouckère: Lenin has interpreted wrongly the decision taken by the Congress, which was aimed directly at the Union. My proposal for merging all the organisations abroad into one was rejected by all against two. I do not agree with Trotsky that it would be more logical for them to leave completely. They do not want to do that, because they do not want to invalidate the minutes.

Martynov: By stating in the general Party rules that the League is the sole Party organisation abroad the congress has stated clearly enough that the Union has ceased to exist. Mention has been made here of Iskra, the League and the ‘Emancipation of Labour’ Group. But Iskra, as has been said more than once, is a Russian organisation, not an ‘organisation abroad’. The League has been recognised by the congress. As for the ‘Emancipation of Labour’ Group, it had ceased to exist as an organisation before the congress met, and was invited to the congress by the OC for the sake of its historical services. I agree with Comrade Trotsky that there can be no partial suicide. Therefore we do not aspire to the exceptional right of being present at the congress while not taking part in its work. If the congress finds this unnatural, we will leave at once.

Akimov: There is little for me to add to what Martynov has said. After the suppression of the Union I do not consider it possible to take part in the work of the congress. We have the right, and the obligation, to hear and confirm the minutes and also the arrangements for their publication. If it suits the congress we will attend only for the reading of the minutes. Otherwise we shall not have fulfilled the obligations incumbent on us as delegates of an organisation.

Martov: Akimov understands the tasks of the Party in a way that is more than strange. If our congress had been a constituent congress, one at which agreements were to be made between different groups, then the minutes would have been binding only on those organisations whose delegates took part in confirming them. But our congress is an ordinary one, not a constituent one, and its minutes, when confirmed by the majority, are binding on all. Either you are delegates to the congress, in which case you must take part in all its proceedings, or you are not delegates, in which case you cannot remain at the session. The assertion that the rules adopted by the congress deprives some of the delegates of their right to vote is false. Iskra, too, has been abolished as a separate organisation, and yet I, as its delegate, remain at the congress. The procedure for putting into effect the decisions of the congress has not yet been laid down, and only at the end of this congress will the CC be authorised to take particular measures for this purpose. The statement of the Union delegares compels me to ask two questions: are they members of the Party, and are they delegates to the Congress?

Akimov: I must reply to Comrade Martov. We did not say that we were not members of the Party, though with the abolition of our organisation our position in the Party has become indefinite. We have even been deprived of the possibility of working ‘under the direction of one of the Party organisations’, as is required by the rules. We do not think it possible to continue to take part in the proceedings of the congress. You can, of course, deprive us of the right to check our minutes.

Trotsky (on a point of order): The Bund walked out of the congress without the minutes having been read. If we give the minutes to the delegates of the Union we shall be creating a precedent which is undesirable for the Party.

Martynov said that all the explanations that had been given here had been given by particular comrades and not by the congress. We interpret differently the decision taken by the congress regarding Paragraph 13 of the rules.

Chairman: This dispute is based on a sheer misunderstanding. Between the adoption of a decision of principle and the implementation of this decision a certain period of time elapses. The decision will acquire legal force when the CC is authorised to wind up the affairs of the Union. Then, not only will the Union’s report be read, but anything else the Union wants. This is how I interpret the decision taken, and I think the congress will agree with me. You, comrades, have no grounds for thinking that you have been deprived of your right to be present at the congress, and you have no grounds for quitting it. The awkwardness can be disposed of if the congress agrees with my interpretation.

Akimov: Part of our statement relates to the discontinuance of the Union. The Union has resolved to submit unconditionally to the decisions of the congress, and the fact that the Union has been closed down has no importance for us in itself. Our principal motivation is the exceptional character of the decision taken regarding the Union. Our organisation has been dissolved without being heard, and with-out waiting for the question to be reached on the agenda. That is why we cannot continue to remain at the congress. If you will allow us, we will attend for the reading of the minutes.

Lenin: What an absurd and abnormal situation has been created here! On the one hand we are told that they submit to the decisions of the congress, while on the other they are walking out because of the decision taken about the rules. By being present here as a delegate of an organisation invited by the OC, every one of us has become a member of the congress. No dissolution of any organisation cancels that title. How are we, the Bureau, to proceed when a vote is to be taken? To ignore altogether those who have walked out is impossible, for the congress has already confirmed its composition. There is only one logical conclusion here, for them to leave the ranks of the Party completely. We can invite the comrades from the Union specially to come and take part in confirming the minutes, though the congress is entitled to confirm its minutes even without their being present.

Plekhanov asked Akimov and Martynov to withdraw the statement - they had submitted.

[Martynov and Akimov went out to confer.]

Brouckère: Lenin interprets the congress decision wrongly. Comrade Rusov’s resolution did away with all the other organisations abroad, leaving the league as the only one surviving.

Lenin: The Bureau has been handed a resolution from Martov which reads as follows:

Martov’s resolution (not voted on): ‘Considering (1) that the delegates of the Bund definitely informed the congress that their organisational proposals did not constitute an ultimatum, and (2) that, after the proposal put to the congress by the comrades from the Bund had been rejected by the congress, the comrades from the Bund left the congress and said that their organisation was leaving the Party—the congress notes with deep regret that the leaders of the Bund have made a big political mistake ín breaking the Party connection between a part of the Jewish proletariat and the rest of the organised proletariat of Russia. At the same time the congress is convinced that this mistake by the Bund will not seriously hinder the future progress of Russian Social-Democracy.’

Posadovsky proposed that the word ‘hopes’ in this resolution be replaced by ‘is convinced’.

Yegorov: The resolution speaks of the leaders of the Bund, but, after all, they were acting in accordance with a decision of the fifth congress of the Bund. Perhaps it is not the leaders who are to blame, but the Bund itself. It is not for us to go into that. We ourselves here are not leaders, but the whole Party.

Muravyov: Although the comrades from the Bund said that they had no imperative mandates, actually that was not the case. They were bound by the decision of their fifth congress, which they had not told us about.

Koltsov considered that the words ‘leaders of the Bund’ could remain in the resolution. They kept saying that their proposal was not an ultimatum, but it turned out to the contrary.

Pavlovich proposed that the word ‘leaders’ be replaced by ‘delegates’. The behaviour of these delegates was juridically improper, and it might be that the organisation of the Bund would regard its representatives’ behaviour as a wrong move.

Yuzhin proposed that the resolution on the Bund be held over until the reasoned statement about their departure from the Party had been received from the Bund delegates.

Popov: The comrades who have spoken about Martov’s resolution have dealt exclusively, except for Yegorov, with the ultimate question: they have talked about whether a mistake was made by the Bund or by its delegates. In my view, a resolution about the departure of the Bund should not concentrate on that trifling matter. The departure of the Bund is an important historic moment in the life of the Party. The action taken by the Bund will have extremely important consequences. That is why the Congress should concentrate on this event, and it seems to me that in our resolution we should express regret at the Bund’s leaving the Party, and confidence that the Bund will not long remain outside of the Party, and that the Jewish workers’ movement will soon merge once more with the general movement of the proletariat in a single Party. That is what we should do—not argue about what sort of a blunder was made by the Bund delegation.

Trotsky: I agree with Comrade Popov. What faces us is not a juridical error but a definite historical fact. Consequently, the reasoned statement by the Bund cannot alter in any way our appreciation of this fact. Our duty to the Jewish proletariat is to express our regret regarding the breaking of the organisational tie between the Jewish and the Russian proletariat. Therefore, we ought to pass the resolution without waiting for the Bund’s statement.

By 30 votes to seven the congress adopted Yuzhin’s proposal.

Akimov: If the congress understands paragraph 13 in a sense different from ours, it should change the way its decision is formulated, and then we shall not interpret it as being directed particularly against the Union.

Martynov: I want to elucidate certain things that Comrade Akimov said. The explanation given us has not made it clear whether the decision was one of principle or an exceptional measure directed against the Union. If it was the latter then we consider that the Union has been insulted. Comrade Yegorov got the same impression as we did, namely, that it was an exceptional law against the Union, and so even he left the meeting.

Plekhanov: I do not understand this way of looking at the maner, The resolution says that the League will henceforth be the sole organisation of the Party abroad. What insult to the Union can there be in this? The comrades can consider themselves satisfied with the explanations given, and withdraw their statement.

Brouckère: The Union was insulted. The congress took a decision that all the organisations abroad, except the League, were worthless.

Plekhanov: I admit that the decision could be disagreeable to the representatives of the Union, but no insult is involved here.

Martynov: When paragraph 13 was being discussed we spoke against it, but we saw no insult in it. Later, however, a special amendment was introduced, which was aimed at the Union. That was a special insult to us.

Martov: The Bureau has explained that there was no insult involved here, and the delegates of the Union would behave more logically and more wisely if they were to withdraw their resolution and thereby allow the congress to proceed to next business.

Lyadov: There is nothing here to discuss. I propose that we go straight on to next business.

Trotsky moved the following resolution: ‘The congress, finding that Comrades Martynov and Akimov can consider themselves fully satisfied with the explanations given them by the Presidium, proposes that they withdraw their statement, which will enable the congress to proceed to next business.’

Trotsky’s resolution was passed, with 32 votes.

Brouckère proposed, in order to clear up the incident with the Union, that a resolution be passed explaining the paragraph of the rules and saying that all organisations abroad were to be merged into one and to take the title of the League.

Martov denied the Bureau’s right to accept a resolution.

Lenin: We cannot touch on the rules, but we do not consider that the Bureau has the right to reject a resolution without discussion. In any case, that right belonged to the congress.

Karsky: Adoption of the new resolution would cancel the previous one, that is why we cannot allow it to be put.

Martov: If my definition was wrong, that given by the Bureau was also wrong. We have passed a resolution about the incident, with 32 votes in its favour, and there is no need for another one.

It was decided by 26 to seven not to discuss Comrade Brouckère’s resolution.

Plekhanov moved a new resolution about the incident, saying: ‘The congress, deciaring that when it adopted paragraph 13 of the rules it was not guided by any intention of insulting the ”Union of Russian Social-Democrats”, invites the representatives of that organisation to withdraw their proposal and proceed to next business.’

Trotsky: Our resolution is one of principle, and not a philistine one, and it is no concern of ours if somebody takes offence at it.

Plekhanov: If the comrades saw an insult here, why should the congress not dispel this misunderstanding?

Akimov: An insult is being talked about here merely because my comrade happened to let fall that word …

Plekhanov: In that case I withdraw my resolution.

Akimov (continuing): The point here is not at all the offensive attitude that was shown. I, for example, have been called an opportunist here. I personally consider this an abusive and offensive term, and I believe that I have done nothing to deserve it. However, I am not protesting. [Laughter.]

Plekhanov: I withdraw my resolution and apologise for having moved it.

Martynov: The word ‘insult’ was not uttered lightly by me, and I stand by it. The exceptional measure taken in relation to the Union is unquestionably an insult.

Akimov and Martynov rejected the Bureau’s proposal that they withdraw their statement.

Trotsky: I think the delegates of the Union ought either to withdraw their statement or else in some other way enable the congress to get on with its business.

Lenin: We have been put in an abnormal and hopeless situation. We cannot continue any longer to discuss this matter.

Akimov: We are leaving the congress. [Voices: ‘Absolutely unwarranted!’]

Comrades Akimov and Martynov left.

Lenin: We now come to the sixth item on the agenda. Who wishes to speak?

Rusov: We have to settle the question of territorial and national organisations. The Bund having left, there are none of the latter type in the Party. The question of the former type of organisation remains. According to the formulation of the relevant paragraph in the Party rules, the typical form of these organisations is to be an association of committees. Among the areas in which the Russian Party works, Caucasia presents such exceptional conditions that it is necessary to establish a territorial organisation there. We already have the rudiments of such an organisation, and its further development will depend on the congress. I propose, therefore, that when the comrades discuss the question of territorial organisations they also keep Caucasia in mind. The typical form of this organisation can be an association of already existing committees.

Posadovsky: For me the major problem is whether we need to form associations of committees or separate committees for each particular region, such as, for example, the existing Siberian Association. The congress must say which type of organisation it prefers.

Karsky: Comrade Posadovsky did not answer the question but merely posed it. It is a complex question and the way it is to be answered depends on local circumstances. Where no committees exist as yet, I would propose that, first of all, associations of committees should be established, and then, as necessary, local committees should be formed. But this cannot be done where a movement already exists. We must start from what is. In Caucasia an attempt was made to unite the local committees, and this was partially successful. All association was established and this began to work. But since it was not completely organised it did not succeed in becoming the representative of the entire local movement at the congress. Caucasia is cut off from all the rest of Russia, and this isolation has not been reduced by the appearance of the OC, which has not supplied Caucasia with literature. Owing to the need for agitation to be carried on in the local languages it is necessary to set up a centre in Caucasia which will direct the entire movement there. The CC can have its representative there. The association needs to be given wide authority, as it is not always possible to arrive in time from places far to the north. I present draft rules for the association.

Panin: The problem before us is not the setting up of special organisations but clarification as to whether territorial organisations are needed.

Lange: From the example of our North we can see that in some cases territorial organisations are needed. If we consider the concentration of all the principal factory centres within a short distance of each other, and if we have in mind the identical nature of industrial conditions and the type of industry in the area of the Northern Workers’ Association[4], and the lack of local revolutionary forces and similar difficulties which make it almost impossible for revolutionaries to settle in many factory towns and localities in the North, it will become clear why local work cannot proceed without the presence of a local revolutionary centre. Only such a centre, being a concentration of the best forces in the area, forces which are distributed far from evenly in the North, but only in one or two places in the area which are most convenient for them—only such a centre would be capable of organising planned work in the North, supplying the various Social-Democratic and workers’ organisations with personnel, resources, technical devices, publications, and so on. This sort of centralisation of work in the North was brought about not artificially but in response to the demands of life itself. The original initiators of it were the local revolutionaries, who were well acquainted with the conditions of local work: they gave fixed form only to what had come into being already, though only in a chaotic, amorphous state. By means of this centralisation it at once became possible to get work going in localities where it had previously been impossible to organise. However, the type of organisation of committees in associations, which was applied at the beginning of the existence of the Northern Workers’ Association, subsequently proved insufficiently expedient and practical. Subsequent developments, especially after the large scale arrests of 1902 throughout the area, which were preceded by a period in which the work flourished in the North, showed that despite the existence of the organised forces which were at the disposal of the North, in many very important centres (such as Ivanovo, Shuya, Orekhovo, and to some extent even in Kostroma, at certain times), effective committees could not function. This circumstance again evoked the idea of giving fixed form to what we had created in the last year of work, that is, properly organising a single centre (the Northern Committee), with all the other organisations reduced to the role of territorial organisations, deprived of the status of committees. Therefore I want to say first, that in certain circumstances, the existence of territorial organisations is desirable, and, secondly, that it would not be desirable for all territorial organisations to be of one and the same type.

Rusov (on a point of order): What we have to discuss is the question of principle, whether it is permissible in general for the Party to have territorial organisations, and I propose that the Bureau ask speakers not to talk about particular organisations.

Chairman: The item before us is territorial organisations.

Trotsky (on a point of order): We have an item on the agenda about the endorsement of organisations, including territorial ones. What we need to discuss now is the question of principle.

Chairman: We are discussing the sixth item of the agenda, and I do not understand why there should be points of order. It seems to me that everyone who has spoken has spoken to the point.

Zasulich: We cannot discuss this question in abstract terms, it can be settled only concretely, in application to each given locality.

Kostrov: On the question of territorial and national organisations I must say this: the existence of such organisations is necessary for the development of our Party. Russia, after all, is a big country, and it includes extensive borderlands, which in their population and cultural features are markedly different from the centre of Russia. It will be physically impossible for our Central Committee to be all over the place, looking into all local affairs, giving guidance in every locality. It would be easier for the CC to deal with associations of committees than with a multitude of separate committees working in different languages. The establishment of such associations has already been evoked by the demands of life, as can be seen from the fact that they have arisen in various parts of the empire. I am not in favour of associations being formed as a matter of course, here, there and everywhere. No, I am in favour only of the existence of associations in those places which by the make-up of the population and national peculiarities are distinct from the strictly Russian areas. The borderlands belong to this category. In Caucasia we have an association of local committees known as the ‘Caucasian Association’. Within its field of responsibility are not only the general direction of the local labour movement but also the production of literature in Georgian and Armenian, and perhaps soon also in the Tatar language. Who will do that for us, if the Association is abolished? The Central Committee? But it won’t be able to perform this task, its members won’t know our languages, our literature and our local needs. Nor can this be done by our local committees, acting separately: in the first place this would be a waste of both material and literary forces, and, secondly, one of them won’t know what the others are doing, and chaos in the field of publication will result. We don’t want that. Just as Russian Social-Democrats now have their central organ, so we too want Georgian and Armenian Social-Democrats to have theirs. Such organs exist already and are the business of the ‘Association’. Failure to recognise this association will inevitably lead to the weakening of our forces and the disorganising of our movement.

Posadovsky: Comrade Karsky is right. I merely posed the question. Now I will answer it. Rusov’s proposal regarding associations of committees is unacceptable. A gathering of delegates from different committees gives less of a guarantee that the association will not become absorbed in local interests and forget the wider tasks of the Party. Each delegate will only seek to promote the cause of his own corner. Where the CC can fulfil all functions, territorial organisations are not required. In remote places or places distinguished by specific conditions, special committees must be appointed, with the task of bringing the given area into line with the all-Russia movement.

Rusov: I cannot entirely agree with Comrade Posadovsky’s arguments and conclusions even though I proceed from the same basic considerations as he does. The purpose of forming territorial organisations must be to organise on a broad scale the work of agitation and Propaganda in localities where an exceptional situation exists, but at the same time we must endeavour to form a type of organisation that cannot degenerate into a separatist or an old-type amateur local organisation. What Posadovsky proposes is dangerous because strict centralisation in a certain area creates a strong force in the shape of the territorial committee, a compact force in which separatist tendencies will be much stronger than in an association of committees, which in extreme cases it would not be hard for the CC to disband. Moreover, I should be in favour of representatives of the separate committees of the territorial organisations being present at every Party congress, so that we may become acquainted with all the trends within the organisation. If this had been done in the case of the Bund we should now be aware of the balance of different trends in the Bund and would not have had to deal at the congress with a single organised force. This is why, proceeding from the same considerations as Comrade Posadovsky, I arrive at the completely opposite conclusion. As for those areas where for technical reasons it is not possible to form associations of committees, such as the area of the Northern Association[5], the Urals, or the Mining and Metallurgical area, what we have there are, in essence, not territorial organisations but simply Party committees working in a number of factory centres adjacent to each other.

Kostich: As has been made clear here, there are two types of association. One type, such as the Northern Association, the Association of Mining and Metallurgical workers, and to some extent the Crimean Association, consists really of a single committee, a single centre, which directs the movement in a wide area made up of a number of insignificant towns and townlets which are inhabited by a significant population of workers, these towns and settlements not having been able to establish their own independent centres. This variety of territorial organisation is very similar in type to the local committee, and there is no need to say any more about it here.

The other type, such as the Caucasian Association, is an association of a number of local committees, each of which directs the local movement in complete independence of the others, and here the creation of a special directing centre other than the CC is quite superfluous. In so far as these committees have common technical and agitational tasks, that is, special conditions of language and way of life which are common to them all, what they are to do must be determined by an agency of the CC, and in order to carry out their tasks these committees can set up a special group without leadership functions. Thus, Posadovsky’s proposal is acceptable for territorial organisations of the first kind, and Comrade Gorin’s for associations of committees.

Gorin: This question must be considered first from the standpoint of principle—do we need regional organisations?—and not approached from the existing organisations, as Comrade Zasulich proposes. The existing organisations have arisen as surrogates for the Central Committee, during the time of disorder in the Party. Generally speaking, regional organisations are an evil which can be tolerated so long as it is impossible immediately to make a radical break. Regional organisations must be merely agencies of the CC and not delegations of local committees. A certain degree of autonomy can for the time being be allowed to these agencies. Speakers have referred here to the fear of destroying organisations. The Caucasian Association exists not as an embryo but as a real fact. It has merely not yet assumed finished form.

Lyadov: With the departure of the Bund this question has, alas, lost its acuteness. We cannot reduce all territorial organisations to a single uniform pattern. There are big differences between the towns of Caucasia, the Donets Basin and the Urals. In Siberia and in Caucasia it may be possible for associations to exist on an elected basis. There they have big towns, with an intelligentsia and a mass of workers. In such God-forsaken spots as our Donets Basin everything has to be built from above, and concentrated in a single nucleus. That is how our organisation has arisen: the centre first, then the periphery. Comrade Posadovsky’s resolution is not applicable to every area, but only to such areas as the Urals, the Vladimir textile area, and the Donets Basin.

Karsky: Comrade Gorin, as a man with a radical cast of mind, always talks in a bold, sweeping way. He says that territorial organisations are an evil but if there is evil here, we do not lag behind Comrade Gorin in combating it. However, this is not a case of evil but of the logical development of our movement …

Gorin (interrupting): Under abnormal conditions.

Karsky (continuing):… with an abnormal logic. We have a number of conditions which prevent the CC from carrying on fruitful work: (1) language (2) distance (3) distinct way of life. How can the CC organise agitation in the Georgian language? To do that you need to know the language, the whole literature, to understand the people’s psychology. To abolish the Association of Caucasian Committees by one stroke of the pen would be, not to put too fine a point on it, a misunderstanding of the situation. As for the technical aspect, that is true only in part. To have a central technical apparatus is useful and advantageous, but that is not where the tasks of the Association lie. It has to direct the movement of a whole region. It must have its own centre on the spot, even though this be subordinate to the CC. The expression ‘agency’ is not a happy one, but I have nothing against it. [Reads his resolution, which is then handed to the Bureau.]

The list of speakers was closed.

Lange: It is self-evident that, in principle, it is absolutely undesirable for there to be any intermediate links between the individual committees and the Central Committee. Such a barrier may fix and maintain in a particular association nationalist differences and programmatic heresies in general. But so long as we do not possess a strong Central Committee that can itself organise the work in every more or less important centre, communicate properly with it, and meet all its needs, so long will it be impossible and undesirable to suppress associations by decree. As to the negative aspects of associations, these can to a certain degree be weakened by that passage in the rules under which every organisation has the right to communicate directly with the CC and the Central Organ, and the right of the CC in certain cases to disband organisations—which means associations as well. I am handing to the Bureau a resolution which formulates my ideas on this matter.

Yegorov: After the Bund had left, one of our esteemed comrades said something to the effect that we had performed a very serious operation, we had cut out a cancer, but then he suddenly remembered something, and added that with cancer there can be a relapse. Yes, there can be relapses of cancer. But I did not expect that we should have to deal so soon with a relapse, and not even just with a relapse but with a real embryo cancer. If you listen carefully to the arguments of the Caucasian comrades you will hear just the same melodies that the comrades from the Bund sang to us: peculiarity of social structure, locality, nationality, and language, and need to combat nationalist trends. Caveant consules! If the Caucasian comrades are now speaking so modestly and quietly, this is because, in respect of their forces and degree of organisation, they are as yet only infants in comparison with the Bund. Let them grow, and you will see arise before you, if not a real Bund then at least a ‘mini-Bund’. I say again, take care, comrades. I want to add a factual correction. It was said here that the Caucasian Association is an established fact. As a member of the former OC I declare that the Caucasian comrades officially informed the OC that the Association does not exist. If it had, Caucasia would have been given two votes, not six.

Rusov: I must first apologise to the meeting for having once again to speak about the movement in Caucasia, although enough has been said about it here. Comrade Yegorov’s speech has impelled me to speak. He has alerted us all to manifest symptoms of nascent neoBundism. Let us analyse this. First of all, Comrade Yegorov, the Bund is a national organisation, whereas the Caucasian Association is a territorial one, an association of committees. These are two quite different things. Moreover, the need for the existence of this organisation, as has been shown several times throughout the proceedings of the congress, especially during the polemic with the Bund, is justified not by a desire for special representation of the proletariat of the borderlands in relation to the Party, but exclusively by the agitational and organisational peculiarities of the local movement. That can be confused with Bundism only by persons for whom it is not at all clear what the problem was that the Bund presented.

I will explain again why it is that we need a territorial organisation. What do you think, Comrade Yegorov, do we not need to give the Georgian, Armenian and Tatar workers literature in languages they understand, so that they may read and master the principles of our Party? Don’t we need to produce for them periodical publications which will introduce them to the all-Russia field of proletarian struggle and acquaint them with our movement as a whole? Of course we need these things. But will the editorial board of our Central Organ, or the Central Committee, take on this work? If so, then, of course, no special organisation for doing it will be needed. But I think that, at present, our central bodies cannot take on this work. Can they assume the task of undertaking extensive treatment of local affairs or, what is even more important, waging a broad struggle against various local nationalist trends? Again, I say they cannot do this; and in order that it may be done I propose that an association of those committees directly concerned in this work be set up. Perhaps Comrade Yegorov wants each separate committee to provide what is necessary for its own agitation? In that event, comrades, instead of going forward, we shall be dragged back. We shall return to that amateurism we had grown out of, that expending of forces on the local production of what more productively can be done by a large body. These are our arguments, Comrade Yegorov. If, after this, you still perceive Bundism, you are simply suffering from persecution mania. As for Comrade Gorin’s proposals about ‘agencies’, I think that inasmuch as every local committee is an agency of the CC, so also is an Association of Committees such an agency.

Kostrov: Comrade Yegorov sees in the defence of the Caucasian Association a new form of Bundism. Clearly, he is not familiar either with our part of the country or with our committees. In the first place, we have no national organisations but are an all-Caucasia body, including Georgians, Armenians and other nations of the Caucasus. In this respect we are radically different from the Bund, which concerns itself only with the Jewish proletariat and doesn’t want to know the others. Secondly, we occupy a clearly defined territory, which is markedly different from Russia in its peculiarities of everyday lite and requires special forms of activity. If Yegorov and other Russian comrades think they can do better in our part of the country than we and our Caucasian comrades are doing—please be so kind as to come along, the door is open, we will offer a field of activity. But I already see astonishment written on Comrade Yegorov’s face, from which I conclude that he would not think of doing that, and would not be able to. Comrade Posadovsky said that the organisation of territorial associations must be taken out of the sphere of local interests and brought into the general Party sphere. This is, in my view, unthinkable and undesirable. It is unthinkable because it is local questions that necessarily give rise to a movement and thereby merge it with the general Party movement: a local strike impels the workers along the path of general political struggle. It is undesirable because such organisations will be unsound, they will be built on sand, and consequently will lead to the weakening of the Party as a whole. It is the streams constituted by all the various local movements that will merge and form that mighty Party which will lead us to victory.

The session was closed.



[4] “The tutelage of the editorial board over the composition of the Central Committee was … to be one of the guarantees of the “moral solidarity” of the two bodies, or, to speak more plainly, of the personal dependence of the Central Committee upon the editorial board. Comrade Lenin found another guarantee in the requirement of unanimity for co-option of new members to the Central Committee. It would be enough to install one “reliable” man in the CC for him to be able to lay his veto upon any person possessing the vice of personal intiative and independence. On this point Comrade Lenin expressed at the congress two directly opposite views. First, in favour of a “qualified majority” (two-thirds or three-quarters) and against “unanimity”: then, a few days later, in favour of “unanimity” and against a “qualified majority”. This change of view undoubtedly occurred under the influence of the fact that some practical worker-comrades, in whom Lenin could not but see imminent candidates for the CC, had taken up a sharply negative attitude to the use which Lenin had decided to make of the “Iskrist” mood of the congress. The entry of these comrades into the CC, in the given situation, would inevitably have meant a fight for the independence of this imaginary “focus”. The power of the Council might, under such conditions, prove to be quite illusory. Against those candidates to the CC was brought up the double battery of “mutual co-option” and “unanimity“.” (Trotsky, Report of the Siberian Delegation, p.59.)

[5] The Northern Association covered Vladimir, Yaroslavl and Kostroma provinces, and included the important textile area of Ivanovo-Voznesensk.