Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

Thirtieth Session

(Present: 36 delegates with 44 mandates and 55 persons with consultative voice.)

Martov’s resolution on the Kuklin Press group (formerly Zhizn) and the Borba group was voted on. [Martov’s resolution: “Considering (a) that the Kuklin Press group (formerly Zhizn) does not regard itself as being part of the RSDLP and has no organisational relations with the Party organisation, and that the draft of a Social-Democratic programme which it presented was offered by it for some unknown congress of “a Russian Social-Democratic Party”; (b) that the group called the “Revolutionary Social-Democratic organisation Volya” similarly does not regard itself as being part of the RSDLP, and sets itself the task, as is clear from its manifesto, of uniting the Social-Democrats with the Socialist-Revolutionaries—the congress places on record that neither of these organisations belongs to the Party or has anything in common with the organised Russian Social-Democratic movement. The question of the future relationship of these groups with the Party is to be decided by the CC of the Party, if these groups make application to it.”] The resolution was passed, all voting in favour, except for two abstentions.

Chairman: We have before us the question of the Yuzhny Rabochy group.

Gusev proposed that the comrade from Yuzhny Rabochy should speak.

Popov: When other organisations were being dealt with nobody obliged them to speak. The congress has, without that, enough material to judge whether or not we should be disbanded. The congress has also been adequately informed about the Yuzhny Rabochy group. We gave a report at the right time. Everything now depends on the congress alone, and I don”t understand what it is that is wanted from us.

Gusev: Yuzhny Rabochy performed two functions, literary and technical (conveyance of literature, etc.) So far as its literary role is concerned it would be appropriate, perhaps, to shift this question to the item on publications. So far as the technical side is concerned, the establishment of the Central Committee renders unnecessary the further existence of the Yuzhny Rabochy group. Still, it might be better to leave this question to be dealt with by the CC.

Yegorov: The congress found it necessary to declare itself regarding all the other groups, which also performed various functions. Why make an exception of us? The congress should pronounce its opinion definitely.

Lyadov: One can”t confuse those groups with Yuzhny Rabochy. They were not present here, but Yuzhny Rabochy is present, has taken part in our debates—in other words, has undertaken to submit to the CC. This question should be shifted to the item about Party publications.

Kostich: I have already brought up the question of the close link between the question of Yuzhny Rabochy and that of the popular organ. Yuzhny Rabochy performed that function for all Russia. It was read and disseminated in large numbers not only in the South but also in Central Russia and everywhere else. I propose that this question be transferred to the item in Party publications.

Yegorov: Which will not be discussed!

Chairman: You are interpreting wrongly our resolution of yesterday. This question can be discussed if only ten persons request it.

Muravyov: These questions are not connected in any way. The question of popular literature is one thing and the question of Yuzhny Rabochy as a technical group is another. When the Iskra group was found to be dissolved, no doubts about that were raised here. It should be the same with Yuzhny Rabochy.

Kostich moved a resolution for the question of a popular organ to be discussed.

Chairman (Lenin):[6] This proposal cannot be adopted without the signature of ten persons.

Plekhanov: The resolution we adopted yesterday makes it impossible for this question to be discussed.

Yegorov: We ask that this question be decided immediately, “yes” or “no”. If it is moved to the item on publications that will mean removing it from discussion altogether.

Orlov: Yuzhny Rabochy fulfilled two functions. In practice, its work amounted to uniting the Party. Yuzhny Rabochy gave vigorous help to the OC in its preparatory work. In view of the establishment of the Central Organ and the Central Committee these functions have become entirely superfluous. As regards the literary functions of Yuzhny Rabochy, the collaboration of the members of this group in Iskra will be very fruitful. He then moved a resolution. [Orlov’s resolution: “Noting the fruitful literary and organisational activity of the Yuzhny Rabochy group for the unification and restoration of the Party; expressing, further, its confidence that the chaos in respect of principles and organisation which for so long divided Russia’s Social-Democrats will, with the setting-up of the highest Party institutions, come to an end; and recognising that, in the present state of the Party’s forces the existence of two all-Russia Party organs is undesirable—the second congress of the RSDLP considers that the continued existence of the Yuzhny Rabochy group as a collective entity is unnecessary, declares it to be disbanded, and proposes to its members that they join the appropriate Party organisations.”]

Chairman: We have two resolutions before us. Which shall we discuss?

Lyadov: Comrade Kostich’s resolution is out of order. The question of the popular organ should be deferred.

The Chairman proposed that Kostich’s resolution be voted on. He asked the comrades from Yuzhny Rabochy to express their views about the future, so that the matter might be settled to mutual satisfaction.

Popov: I say again: if the congress finds it necessary for Yuzhny Rabochy to continue, we shall go on publishing it: if otherwise, we shall not. We have delivered our report, and, besides, many organisations have had very active relations with us and know us very well. The congress has quite enough material with which to settle the question. The congress has decisively and definitively given its view regarding the Union, Borba and so on. It remains for the congress to do the same in relation to us.

Yegorov: Although we are all individually members of the Party, it nevertheless consists of a number of organisations with which we have to reckon as historical entities. They can either be broken up or they can continue. But if such an organisation is not detrimental to the

Party, there is no need to dissolve it. Iskra ” considered that it was necessary for it to disband. Yuzhny Rabochy does not consider this necessary. I repeat, there is no point in linking this question with that of a popular organ.

Gusev: The question is not one of treating Yuzhny Rabochy as being detrimental, and so on, in order to dissolve it. Everyone has already said enough about how useful Yuzhny Rabochy has been. Iskra was even more useful, but it considered it necessary to declare itself disbanded and assimilated into the Party. We expect the same of Yuzhny Rabochy.

Rusov: I must give a straight answer to Comrade Yegorov’s question. Yuzhny Rabochy stated quite definitely in its time that it was in complete solidarity with Iskra. That is why the question of Yuzhny Rabochy is a bit ticklish. But we must speak bluntly. The question is this: do we need, in addition to the Party organ, other, local organs, such as Rabochaya Mysl, Yuzhny Rabochy, or Nashe Dyelo? I am not comparing them as regards quality. I am opposed in general to the existence of local organs. Yuzhny Rabochy is unnecessary, like Rabochaya Mysl and Nashe Dyelo.

Yegorov: That’s a lie! Yuzhny Rabochy can”t be put on a level with Rabochaya Mysl.

Chairman: I cannot allow you to talk like that. Withdraw what you said.

Rusov: I was not thinking at all of putting Yuzhny Rabochy on a level with Rabochaya Mysl. I meant something different. [General commotion in the hall and shouts of: “Point of order!” and “Withdraw!” The chairman rings his bell.]

Yegorov: All right! After Rusov’s explanation I am willing to withdraw what I said.

Rusov (continuing): All the Party’s existing forces must be directed into the Party organ. All non-Party and local organs are superfluous. The local publications in Yiddish, Armenian and Georgian are a different matter: we can”t get by without them. Yuzhny Rabochy was very useful, but we can”t take account here of Party sympathies.

Lange: Comrade Yegorov’s point of departure, which is that “what is not harmful is useful,” or, “if Yuzhny Rabochy was useful, then it should be left alone,” is not a position of principle. It is permeated with that very spirit against which the congress has been fighting all along. We must approach the question of Yuzhny Rabochy from a different angle. If the comrades from Yuzhny Rabochy had adhered more strictly to principle earlier, a year or two ago, the unity of the Party and the triumph of the programmatic principles which we have sanctioned here would have been achieved earlier. Yes, indeed: if the talented literary forces of Yuzhny Rabochy, instead of being spent on producing a popular organ which was published in one, two or three thousand copies and which appeared once in every two or three months, had joined together with the forces of Iskra, then we should have had an even richer content and Iskra would have been even more readable for the workers, and, furthermore, we should have had a large quantity of popular literature, of which we stand in such great need, and this literature would have reached the North and other parts more abundantly than it did. Consequently, all the more so now, when we have met together to unite our forces, to put an end to all survivals of amateurism, all the more so now must we not allow any dispersion, and therefore the comrades from Yuzhny Rabochy ought to devote their forces to that institution which by the will of the congress has been designated for the production of our literature in general and our popular literature in particular. For this reason I am definitely in favour of Yuzhny Rabochy ceasing to exist.

Deutsch: The previous speakers have said essentially all that there is to say. The position the congress is in is very ticklish, since Yuzhny Rabochy does not want to disband, but Comrade Gusev has very aptly reminded us of what happened with the “Emancipation of Labour” group and Iskra. They realised that with the setting-up of Party institutions their further existence was unnecessary, and so they put an end to it. Yes, it is hard, but we have to say to you, comrades from Yuzhny Rabochy, that your existence as a group is unnecessary. I am very grateful to Rusov for the blunt way he put the question. For a second organ besides Iskra to exist, in our state of poverty, is a luxury we can”t afford. Only organisational chaos accounts for the fact that the two exist simultaneously. I have waited in vain for an answer to the question as to what line on general Party publications the Yuzhny Rabochy group would take up. I think, therefore, that it is logical to discuss the question of the Yuzhny Rabochy group in connection with that of Party publications. Since they protest against disbandment, I am at a loss, and I say bluntly that the Yuzhny Rabochy group is not needed as a separate organisation.

Muravyov: When Comrade Gusev mentioned Iskra in his speech, somebody exclaimed: “But it hasn”t been abolished!” That is true.

But did Comrade Yegorov and all the others who voted for Iskra to be endorsed as the Party’s Central Organ do that because Iskra was harmless? No, of course not. In endorsing Iskra we all assumed that it would, as the Central Organ, be in the highest degree useful to the Party.

Pavlovich: I propose that the discussion be ended. Why have we spent two hours trying to get an answer from Yuzhny Rabochy ? The Yuzhny Rabochy comrades have quite properly remained silent. It is wrong to interrogate them. What would be best would be to settle the question of the Yuzhny Rabochy group as an organisation. At the same time we can talk about a popular organ, since Yuzhny Rabochy was very useful in that connection.

Plekhanov (Chairman): Nobody has subjected Yuzhny Rabochy to interrogation. In the interests of mutual agreement I wanted to clarify matters with the comrades from Yuzhny Rabochy, to learn what their views about the future were.

Pavlovich’s proposal for closure of the discussion was rejected.

Glebov: While esteeming Yuzhny Rabochy highly, I should like to see all our forces united around the Central Organ. If the comrades from Yuzhny Rabochy are in complete solidarity with Iskra, it is to be desired that they take part in the work of the Central Organ. That would be very useful for Iskra. I am strongly in favour of the disbandment of Yuzhny Rabochy, out of concern for concentrating our forces.

Popov: I don”t understand why the chairman, after Comrade Rusov’s speech, which took a very correct line, had to go back to the beginning of the debate. I am speaking on the item of the agenda we are supposed to be discussing—the place of different groups in the Party, not Party publications. It remains to be decided whether we need the Yuzhny Rabochy group. The question of the Union and that of Borba have already been settled. They have been deemed superfluous and invited to work in the Party. Now, after the speeches by Comrades Rusov and Orlov everything is clear. The question of Yuzhny Rabochy should be decided without any relation to Party publications.

Lyadov: The question of Yuzhny Rabochy cannot be separated from that of Party publications. The Yuzhny Rabochy group is at the same time the editorial board of Yuzhny Rabochy. If we decide against having a popular organ we decide that the existence of Yuzhny Rabochy is unnecessary. But bringing Yuzhny Rabochy into conjunction with the question of a popular organ is essentially incorrect. Yuzhny Rabochy was not at all a popular organ. It was a surrogate for Iskra, and an unsuccessful one at that. The question of Yuzhny Rabochy needs to be taken along with the question of local organs.

Lenin: After all these explanations I find it most expedient to adopt Kostich’s resolution on the popular organ. It has been said that Yuzhny Rabochy wanted to be a popular organ, and occupied a corresponding position in the Party. In the interests of the cause, in view of the delicate situation into which we have fallen, it is right to recognise this “case” as deserving special attention and to allow ourselves to make a departure from the rule we adopted yesterday. We should proceed to discuss the question of the popular organ, although this is irregular, This ought to be allowed, and I favour making this one exception.

Trotsky: These questions are indeed very much connected, and for that very reason Lenin’s proposal should be decisively rejected. We have more important questions to discuss and ought not to waste time. I am for rejecting Lenin’s proposal.

Martov: I agree with Trotsky. Two departures from rules which have been permitted by the Bureau need to be mentioned here. First, Kostich’s resolution, which had not been signed by ten delegates, should not even have been read, and second, discussion of it should not have been allowed. Although these questions are connected, the comrades from Yuzhny Rabochy will probably not insist that this question be discussed before the elections. 5 move that Kostich’s resolution be rejected, since it runs counter to our decision of yesterday. Not much time is left, and if we get on to the question of the popular organ, which, according to our decision taken yesterday, can be considered only after the elections, we run the risk that the most important items on the agenda will have to be decided in haste.

Byelov: Without having discussed the question of the popular organ we cannot answer the question as to whether we need Yuzhny Rabochy. I agree with Lenin’s proposal.

Deutsch: I am against Lenin’s proposal. Let me remind the congress that we have to disperse on Saturday.

Trotsky: Only four can speak on a point of order: you are letting them speak. [Shouts: “You”re wrong!”]

Martov: Only four can speak on the question of discussing Kostich’s resolution.

Chairman: Our list of speakers has not been closed.

Lenin: I can”t stop the speakers. Speak, Comrade Gorin!

Gorin: By virtue of the decision to recognise Iskra as the central organ, all other organs performing a similar role were dissolved. If Yuzhny Rabochy was a general organ, then it was ipso facto suppressed. If it was a district paper, the question will be gone into later. What we have to deal with here is the disbandment of the Yuzhny Rabochy group, without predetermining the question of the popular organ.

Posadovsky: I propose that the discussion be ended.

This proposal was passed.

Martov moved a resolution for the question of Yuzhny Rabochy to be left open until the question of Party publications came up for discussion, and to proceed immediately to the elections.

Chairman (Lenin) (having read the resolution): Martov’s resolution puts us in a completely impossible position. [Great commotion, shouts, protests.][7]

Martov withdrew his resolution, vigorously protesting at Lenin’s statement. [The up roar in the hall grows louder.]

Lenin: Comrades! Let me say this: I spoke only of the impossible position in which we are put by Martov’s proposal that we transfer the question to another item of the agenda. I was fully entitled, and even obliged, as Chairman, to refer to the incompatibility of Martov’s proposal with the agenda. I admit guilt only, perhaps, in showing partiality to the agenda. I repeat, I could not have acted otherwise.

Trotsky: After leaving to the will of fate the question of the popular organ we can with equal justification treat the question of Yuzhny Rabochy in the same way. More important questions remain for us to deal with. Lenin is wrong. He did not explain Martov’s resolution but started a polemic against it. He had no right to do that! Adopting Kostich’s resolution also means a direct breach of the rules we adopted.

Lenin: The Bureau states that it considers itself justified in putting Kostich’s resolution to the vote.

Popov asked that Orlov’s resolution be voted on.

Martov moved the following resolution: “In view of the fact that the question of elections to the central institutions is one without settling which the congress cannot break up, and in view of the fact that introducing into the agenda questions other than those provided for in yesterday’s decision might prevent a decision being taken on the most urgent task, the congress rules that the question of the Yuzhny Rabochy group will be considered in connection with the question of Party publications, in accordance with the agenda, and proceeds to discuss the other parts of the agenda.”

Lenin: The Bureau considers that we cannot proceed to the elections before finishing with item 8. It is indeed necessary to get to the elections as soon as possible, and Martov’s proposal would be acceptable if it did not propose to omit part of item 8. This would be another departure from the rule adopted.

Martov: May I speak? I must say, in reply, that, under the pretext of giving an explanation, the Bureau is arguing against my resolution. [Commotion and protests in the hall.] I propose that we discuss the remaining parts of item 8, but I categorically refuse to discuss immediately the question of a popular organ. I insist on my right to explain… [The shouts and protests are intensified.]

Popov: I don”t understand how it is that our modest group has caused such passionate debate. I ask that Comrade Orlov’s resolution be voted on.

Lenin proposed that Martov’s resolution be voted on, though the Bureau did not agree.

Martov’s resolution was rejected by 24 to 55.

Lenin: I put Kostich’s resolution to the vote. [Uproar and protests in the hall.]

Deutsch: I propose that the session be closed.

Martov: Lenin is wrong in referring to the voting on my resolution as a departure from rule. This does not justify him in making a further departure. I hope that the Bureau will not refuse to answer this question.

Lenin: I will answer. Martov departed from the rule in that he postponed part of item 8 to an indefinite future. Comrade Kostich, on the contrary, wants to bring in here, under ítem 8, a question which is inseparably connected with this item. We are not justified in leaving part of item 8 undiscussed. I affirm that to vote on Comrade Kostich’s resolution will not in any way go against the rule.

Popov: Owing to the strong feeling shown in the debate the Bureau has again made a mistake. It has agreed to put to the vote a resolution which is contrary to rule, since it lacks the signatures of ten persons. This is inadmissible.

Lenin: Not at all. Since a departure from the rules was allowed in putting Martov’s resolution to the vote, the Bureau is justified in similarly putting Kostich’s resolution to the vote.

Deutsch: I doubt whether the Bureau can decide this controversial point. It should appeal to the congress.

Kostich: I withdraw my resolution.

Lenin: In that case I give it my backing.

Kostich: And I move a different resolution, for the settlement of this problem to be referred to the Central Committee.

A discussion took place on which resolution should be taken first. Eventually, by 35 votes to five, with five abstentions, Orlov’s resolution, as amended by Martov, was adopted. Martov’s amendment was to delete the phrase beginning with the word “expressing” and ending with the words “come to an end”, and substitute another phrase.

Chairman: Let us pass to the resolutions about other groups. On the list we have: (5) the Borba group, (2) the Union of Russian Social Democrats Abroad, (3) the Kuklin press group (formerly Zhizn ), (4) the Yuzhny Rabochy group, (5) the Revolutionary Social-Democratic Organisation Volya. Does anyone wish to add other organisations to the list?

Karsky: I propose adding Borba Proletariata, in Caucasia. Pavlovich: I propose adding Rabochaya Volya, in Odessa. Glebov: I propose adding the Voronezh Fighting Fund”. Lvov: I propose adding Svoboda.

Rusov: I propose deleting the editorial board of the Caucasian organ.

Karsky: I protest against Rusov’s proposal and insist that the editorial board of Borba Proletariata be included in the list.

The congress agreed with Rusov’s proposal.

Karsky: I ask that a vote be taken on my proposal that Borba Proletariata be recognised as the party organ of the Caucasian Social-Democratic Association.

The Chairman declined to accept Karsky’s proposal, on the grounds that the editorial board of Borba Proletariata had already been deleted from the list.

The congress also decided not to include in the list the other organisations which had been mentioned: Rabochaya Volya, the Voronezh Fighting Fund, and Svoboda. The rapporteur of the commission which had been discussing the proposed agreement with the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania then spoke.

Fomin (rapporteur) reported on the results of the talks and presented the commission’s resolution for discussion. [The commission’s resolution: “Expressing regret that the departure of the Polish comrades from the congress, due to accidental circumstances, has deprived the congress of the possibility of concluding the discussion of the question of the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania joining the RSDLP, and hoping that it will only be a matter of time before they join, the congress authorises the Central Committee to continue the talks begun at the congress.”]

Yegorov proposed that a special resolution be introduced regarding the Polish comrades” demand on the “self-determination” point.

Lenin considered that it was clear enough from the minutes what the views of the congress were on this matter. There was no need to renew discussion on it.

The resolution was passed with 33 votes, four delegates abstaining.

The congress expressed itself further in the sense that confirmation of the list of local and non-local organisations was a task for the CC, on the basis of the decisions taken earlier, passed to consideration of item 58 of the agenda, the elections to the Party’s central institutions.

Rusov: We now have to deal, comrades, with important questions affecting the whole Party, namely, the creation of the Party centres. All the enormous amount of work we have done at the congress, the programme and rules we have worked out, will come to nothing if we do not elect an effective body. But, before we proceed to the elections themselves, we must decide on the actual methods of election. I should think the best method would be to elect two trios, one for the Central Committee and the other for the editorial board of the Central Organ. This election, as also all elections of functionaries, should be carried out by secret written vote. For greater security I think it would be a good idea, as regards the election to the CC, that determination of the results of the voting should be entrusted to the chairman, and then only one person out of those elected will be made known to the congress. I put a proposal to this effect to the Bureau.

Trotsky: I support Comrade Rusov’s proposal. The question of the editorial board of the Central Organ is easier, simpler, and can be disposed of at once.

I therefore propose that the question of the appointment of the editorial board be separated from that of the appointment of the Central Committee, and that the former be taken first.

Koltsov: Our rules, which are in general not distinguished by particular indulgence towards so-called democratism”, make an exception, for some reason, where the editorial board is concerned. If I did not challenge this point when the rules were being discussed, this was only because the word “appoints” has a wider meaning than the word “elects”. As far as I am aware of the practice of West-European Social-Democratic Parties, I know of two possibilities: either (5) the organ is created after the party has been constituted, and then the party’s executive committee is given the task of “appointing” the editorial board of the central organ, or (2) the organ existed previously, as is the case with us, and in such a case the party, in endorsing a particular organ endorses at the same time its editorial board. I move a resolution to that effect.

Posadovsky: Comrades! It is proposed that we elect three editors for our central organ, Iskra. I regard that proposal of Comrade Rusov’s as unacceptable. We know, comrades, one, integral Iskra. This entity we have recognised as our Party organ, because we know it. But how can we know which of the old editorial board played what role in creating that harmonious whole which we possessed in Iskra ? What arguments can be adduced in support of Comrade Rusov’s proposal? Only one, that in the editorial board as it was composed there might have been some dissonances, and in order to get rid of these dissonances it is necessary to reduce the number of editors, and choose three. But what assurance have we that Iskra would be better without these dissonances? Why is it not possible to suppose that it is just because of them that Iskra has become what it is? I think that we cannot go into an analysis of which members of the old board played what role in creating Iskra, and since it seems to me impossible to choose three persons without such an analysis, I am against Comrade Rusov’s proposal, and support the proposal the the old editorial board of Iskra, complete, be recognised as the editorial board of our Central Organ.

Lvov agreed with Comrade Rusov’s proposal that the question of the Central Organ be taken first. A special commission should be elected to count the votes.

Muravyov: Comrade Koltsov says that the rules speak of “appointing” the editorial board, and that, in his view, it would be most natural to interpret this passage, in its application to the question now before us, as meaning that the old editorial board should be confirmed in office. I cannot agree with this interpretation. The term “appointment”, as was, I think, made clear when the rules were being worked out, was preferred precisely because it covers both election and confirmation. I cannot agree, either, with Comrade Trotsky’s proposal, that we first appoint the editorial board and then talk about elections to the CC. This would only take up more of our time, and it has been said here more than once how undesirable it is to drag out the session of the congress. Comrade Posadovsky, in proposing that the old editorial board be confirmed, says that “if there are some minor dissonances”, the congress is not competent to undertake an examination of such circumstances. In my opinion it is now quite clear to the majority of the congress that such “dissonances” undoubtedly do exist. And just because of that, I support Comrade Rusov’s proposal that an editorial board consisting of three persons be elected by the congress, by secret written vote.

Martov: Since Comrade Muravyov has frankly raised the question of internal relations among the members of the former editorial board of Iskra, in order to eliminate which a board of three should be established, three other editors of Iskra and myself consider that it would be more convenient if this question were to be discussed without our being present. We are therefore leaving the meeting so that in our absence comrades can express their views on this matter with greater freedom and lack of restraint. [General commotion and uproar in the hall. Martov, Starover, Zasulich and Akselrod make their way to the exit.]

Plekhanov: As chairman I would not allow anyone to talk here about the internal affairs of the editorial board. But I agree that our presence might embarrass the congress, and I think the other members of the board will leave as well. We shall also leave. I entrust you, Comrade Pavlovich, with the responsibility of taking the chair. [All the members of the editorial board leave.]

Pavlovich proposed that the congress express its view as to whether the editors should be present during the discussion.

[Incredible uproar in the hall—impossible to hear anything.]

Trotsky spoke about Comrade Muravyov’s statement regarding the internal relations of the editorial board.

Muravyov protested that his meaning had been misrepresented by Trotsky.

Trotsky (continuing): It was enough for one person to feel embarrassed by such a statement for the entire editorial board to leave the hall in corpore, so as to ensure a calm discussion. We have now considerably facilitated our task of discussing this question.

Lange: I don”t agree with Trotsky. I don”t understand why the editorial board should have felt embarrassed. These dissonances are not our concern. We shall decide the question purely on a basis of principle, and to do this we need to have the editors participating in our discussion.

Tsaryov proposed that the discussion be closed.

Popov: I think, comrades, that the question of procedure can be settled quickly by a decision on the substance of the matter. In this connection I should like to repeat what Comrade Posadovsky said. I should not have wished to touch on those “dissonances” of which Comrade Muravyov spoke, but since they have been mentioned, I would advise Comrade Muravyov, considering his particular cast of mind, not to undertake such delicate commissions. [Stormy applause.] Let me remind you, comrades, of the day when we discussed item 3 of our agenda. On that occasion the speeches of Comrade Yegorov and myself were met with loud applause—and not, of course, because of what we said, but because Iskra, endorsement of which as the central organ we were proposing, merited that applause. Remembering that day now, I am amazed at the change which has taken place. Now, Comrade Rusov does not favour the editorial board with his confidence, and demands that it submit to re-election, and this meets with the backing of a considerable section of the comrades. For my part, I am not at all satisfied with the reasons given by Comrade Rusov, and I consider that to go into the internal relations of the editorial board and evaluate individual members of it would be both useless and unworthy of the congress. I propose therefore that we do what we have already done once—confirm the editorial board of Iskra as at present composed.

[Popov’s speech was several times interrupted by stormy applause. When he finished, general commotion reigned in the hall once more.]

Yegorov: Order will be restored if we confirm the editorial board in corpore.

Pan in (on a point of order) asked that the proposal already made to close the discussion be voted on.

The proposal was rejected.

Lange moved the following resolution: “In our discussion of the question of electing the editorial board, which we now have to do, there can be nothing that would render undesirable the presence of the editorial board here at this moment.”

Pavlovich proposed that this resolution be voted on, and expressed hope that it would clear the atmosphere.

Fomin: We must proceed to discuss the substance of the matter, without bringing pressure to bear on the editors, who have left.

Rusov: There is nothing delicate in what we have to discuss. The editorial board should be asked to return.

Lange: We shall not say anything that would be uncomfortable for the editors to hear.

Kostich asked that a vote be taken on the admissibility of Lange’s resolution.

Gusev: Voting on Comrade Kostich’s proposal would be a complete waste of time, since those who will vote for not allowing this resolution to be considered will also vote against the resolution itself.

Makhov: And perhaps I shall find it improper that such a question should even be put to the vote.

Kostich’s proposal was adopted by 59 to 56, with two abstentions.

The Chairman read some resolutions which had been handed in to the Bureau. [Several persons spoke at the same time about resolutions they had submitted. General disorder.]

Popov: I propose that we confirm the editorial board as a whole.

Koltsov asked several times to raise a point of order, but owing to the uproar nobody heard him.

Trotsky: Comrades! I draw your attention to that fact that our time is being lost in a dialogue between the chairman and Comrade Rusov. We should proceed at once to vote on the question whether to elect the editorial board or to appoint it.

The Chairman read the resolutions by Koltsov [Koltsov’s resolution: “Having recognised Iskra as the Party’s central organ, the congress has thereby also recognised its editorial board.”] and Trotsky [Trotsky’s resolution: “The congress considers it necessary to confirm the former editorial board of Iskra as a whole, without any elections.”] and invited discussion of the latter.

Kostich: The newspaper Iskra has done tremendous constructive work, as everybody has said at this congress. Everyone has said: “The present congress is to a very great extent the work of Iskra. ” Nobody has said, or could have said, how much of a contribution to this achievement was made by this person or that person. We in Russia recognised Iskra, as the leading organ, as an integral body. We endorsed it at the congress as the Party’s central organ, as an integral body, and we in Russia understood the appointment of the editorial board as a confirmation of the editors as a body. And now we are being asked to choose three persons to edit the Central Organ, because of fiction among the editors, says Comrade Muravyov. I regard Comrade Muravyov’s statement, which shifted the focus of attention to the question of relations between individuals, as being, at the very least, extremely misplaced. We are not concerned with personal relations between the editors, and we have no right to meddle in these relations. If there is friction, an independent body will be able, on its own, to eliminate this. We have known the editorial board as an integral body, and as such we should confirm it.

Tsaryov: Comrade Rusov said that election of Party functionaries is a highly responsible task and difficult to carry out. That is quite true. Why, then, does he want to complicate this task still further, by proposing that we not only elect the CC, but also select a group of three out of the membership of the editorial board? What need is there to do this? Hitherto we have known not different individual members of the editorial board, but a harmonious collective which played such an outstanding role in the life of our Party, brilliantly proved its capacity for work, and won general approval. Why does Rusov want to select a trio of “the best”? Which of us who has not been initiated into the intimate life of the editorial board is able, so to speak, to decide the relative weight of each member of the editorial board in the work they perform together? And how will the editors who are not re-elected feel about the fact that the congress does not want to see them on the board any more? Hitherto we have known a single entity, the editorial board. Almost all the committees recognised it as their leading organ. And we too, by recognising Iskra as our Party organ, recognised it, of course, with that composition of the editorial board which has prevailed up to now. I propose that we leave this composition unchanged in the future, as well, and I express profound conviction that our decision will meet with great rejoicing in all parts and every corner of Russia.

Popov: The question has been made clear. I propose that the discussion be ended. We have already discussed item 3 of the agenda. Our recognition of Iskra as the leading organ has settled the question. Going into their internal dissonances is out of place and unworthy of the congress.

Chairman: The question cannot be put like that. Why does this have to be seen as an expression of disrespect?

Gusev: Comrade Popov is afraid that we are going to investigate the personal relations of the members of the editorial board. Let him not worry. We are not going to touch on that. We have tact and know how to conduct a discussion.

The congress voted on and adopted with 20 votes a proposal to close the list of speakers. [During the voting a rather sharp interchange took place between comrades Deutsch and Orlov.]

It was proposed that the time allowed to speakers be restricted to three minutes (Yegorov), two minutes (Fomin) and five minutes (the Chairman). The proposal for two minutes received 56 votes, that for three received 20, and that for five received eight.

Gorin: The proposal that the editorial board be elected has not been understood here at all. This question is a purely technical one. I look upon it as a way of simplifying the editors” work through an election. We could let them carry out the election themselves, but it would be better for us to do it.

Posadovsky: Something that 5 said, in a conditional way, was used very irrelevantly by Comrade Muravyov, and raised quite a storm. I will try to explain my meaning. By electing three members of the old board and discarding three others, we thereby undertake, and cannot but undertake an analysis and a judgement of the role of particular editors in the creation of Iskra, we enter into that evaluation of “dissonances” which Comrade Muravyov engaged in. In that harmonious whole, homogeneous as crystal, that was Iskra, I do not think it possible to distinguish what was created by this editor or by that. 5 warn you, comrades, against breaking into that entity, I protest against the meddling in that entity which has been proposed to us. If you follow the advice that has been suggested to you, what certainty have you that, in suppressing dissonances, you will not lose what is most valuable? By electing three of the six members of the old editorial board, you pronounce the other three to be unnecessary and superfluous. And you have neither any right to do that nor any grounds for doing it.

Rusov: The nervous excitement and the impassioned atmosphere which has been created here by the discussion of the question of electing members of the editorial board has resulted in our hearing strange speeches from the lips of revolutionaries, speeches that are in marked disharmony with the concepts of Party work and Party ethics. The basic argument of those opposed to electing trios amounts to a purely philistine conception of Party affairs. If you do not elect Ivan Ivanovich, a prominent Party worker, you are expressing lack of confidence in him, and thereby insulting him. After all, they keep telling us, you don”t know whether such and such a person is able to carry out the functions of such and such a Party institution—you can”t investigate the internal life of the organisations in which a given individual formerly worked, so how can you choose amongst them? In such circumstances the removal of these persons signifies an expression by the congress of no confidence in them, something quite undeserved and therefore inadmissible. And this is said not only by young revolutionaries but also by such an experienced revolutionary as Comrade Deutsch. [General commotion, protests, threatening cries.] If we adopt this standpoint, which is a philistine and not a Party stand-point, we shall at every election have to consider: will not Petrov be offended if Ivanov is elected and not he, will not some member of the former Organising Committee be offended if another member, and not he, is elected to the Central Committee? Where is this going to land us, comrades? If we have gathered here for the purpose of creating a Party, and not of indulging in mutual compliments and philistine sentimentality, then we can never agree to such a view. We are about to elect functionaries, and there can be no talk of lack of confidence in any person not elected; our only consideration should be the interests of the work and a person’s suitability for the post to which he is being elected. This is why I urgently bring it to comrades” attention that they should not let themselves be drawn into the delusion of philistinely tender speeches about lack of confidence being shown in those not elected, but in all their elections, just as in all else that they do, take the standpoint of the interests of the Party, of the common cause. I am surprised that none other than Comrade Trotsky attacks the election of trios. Did he not, at the preliminary meetings, defend, foaming at the mouth, the agenda we adopted? And not a word did he utter about there being heresy in it in the shape of the election of trios.

Lyadov: The editorial board themselves proposed the election of trios. We must get rid once for all of this question of confidence.

Trotsky: I want to reply to the “young revolutionary” Rusov. [Uproar. Bekov: “Please do not use such expressions as ”young revolutionary”!”] Please be quiet, comrades, as I have only three minutes, and I want to use them in order to explain that the words “young revolutionary” cannot be insulting to anybody. Rusov himself used them when he attacked the old revolutionary Deutsch. Comrade Rusov alleged that I defended the so-called idea of two trios. That is not so. Comrade Rusov might say, however, simply that I defended, as a whole, the agenda, apparently drawn up by the editors, which included a mention of “two trios”. That, I hope, is something quite different. It has been said several times here that the plan to elect “two trios” was the editors” plan. And that is not true. It was the plan of only one of the editors. But even if this plan had been drawn up by the whole board, that would not have altered anything. The editorial board could place itself completely at the disposal of the congress, but the congress itself should set limits to its interference. The congress has neither the moral nor the political right to refashion the editorial board. Such a right is not given us, of course, by the impressions we might form, during the sessions of the congress, of persons more or less “susceptible to dissonances”, to use Comrade Muravyov’s words. The editorial board worked together as a whole, for three years, and we know what this collective entity achieved. Let us allow the board to make its own changes in composition, if it finds need for any. This is too delicate a question for the congress to get its hands on. The congress will do better from both the moral and the political angle if it votes unanimously for the collective entity whose name is Iskra ! [Prolonged applause.]

Gusev: If the proposal[8] for an editorial trio angers Comrade Trotsky so much today, we can only wonder why, previously, it not only did not anger him but, on the contrary, caused him to make fervent speeches in its defence. And those who, earlier, warmly defended the “trio” have now greeted Comrade Trotsky with stormy applause when he spoke of the congress laying its paw on that “harmonious whole”, the former editorial board of Iskra, which Trotsky defended. Comrade Tsaryov waxed indignant in his speech today against the proposal by Comrade Rusov that a trio be elected, but not so long ago Comrade Lenin’s proposal failed to anger him, although Comrade Rusov’s proposal is quite literally a repetition of Comrade Lenin’s. How quickly everything has changed. As to the proposal by Comrades Trotsky and Koltsov, to confirm the old editorial board, I say that it is tactless. It is tactless, first, because it turns the important question of electing the editorial board of the Party organ into a question of confidence. And to make this question of confidence the centre of attention is already tactless, in itself, because it puts the members of the old board in an awkward position. It is tactless, in the second place, because by turning the question of electing the editorial board into a question of confidence, it constitutes a restriction on the freedom in electing the editorial board of the Party organ which the congress must possess. We are faced with an important task, the election of the editorial board. And for the editorial board of the Party organ, for the body which, according to our rules, is not only to bear literary responsibilities but also to fulfil a number of other important functions, we need not only writers but also administrators. This right to elect suitable persons to the editorial board you want to take away from us, turning the question of elections into a question of confidence. We already expressed confidence once, when we recognised Iskra as the Party organ. And we mentioned in that resolution not only the literary services but also a number of other services, organisational and practical, rendered by Iskra, which you have now forgotten. You were the first to bring up the question of confidence, and you are responsible for the results that have followed from that error of tact. And by raising the question of confidence you revealed that, as Comrade Rusov quite rightly said, you are not Party people but philistines.

Lange: Why all this pathos, these just-shed tears? After all, nobody wants to murder anyone here! Besides, this maternal concern for the honour of Iskra on the part of certain persons is astonishing. What, actually, do we want? We only want the congress, the supreme organ of the Party, to declare, quite deliberately and definitely who it wishes to see in charge of its central organ. Bear in mind that our Central Organ is something more than a literary group—it is part of our CC, of our revolutionary practical centre, and it will exercise influence in the Party Council. What is there offensive about it if the congress, in view of this, wants the central organ to be headed by quite definite persons, persons known to the congress, persons meeting the requirements I have mentioned? I think it would be more offensive to Iskra if we were to shut our eyes to this important task, owing to the “delicacy” of the question.

Brouckère: I think that the majority will be consistent only if it endorses the previous editorial board of Iskra, and thereby confirms what was pre-determined by it when we discussed item 3 of the agenda. I only wanted to mention that, when item 3 was under discussion, this same majority—including, if I am not mistaken, Comrade Trotsky - denied that by endorsing Iskra as the Central Organ we were thereby pre-determining the election of the editorial board.

Pavlovich: I don”t understand why such pathetic speeches are being made here. Mention was made of the harmonious composition of the editorial board. The draft rules were presented by a member of the board, with the authority of the rest of the members. Comrade Trotsky warmly defended them only a few days ago. The editorial board consists of six persons. A body of six may prove, as a body, to be ineffectual. [Uproar.] If, placed in unfavourable circumstances, the editorial board of Iskra achieved tremendous results in its work, this happened not thanks to the abnormal size of the board but despite this abnormality. All the more are we obliged, in the interests of the work, to provide a normal setting for it through a free election. There is no insult to anybody in an election. We cannot perpetuate a form of statute which is inconvenient for the editorial workers themselves. Besides, let me recall that there is the right of co-option.

Glebov: The conduct of the newspaper is a task for the Party. I think that a large body is too unwieldy to do the work. Editorial work by six persons holds things up. [Protests.] It would be better if the board consisted of three only. That’s not a big number. If six persons formed a harmonious entity, then why could not three do the same? If Iskra was well run, why should it not be just as well-run in the future?

Sorokin: I fully understand the strong feeling shown in this dispute. But why resort to practices against which we have always protested? Why this poking into someone else’s soul indulged in by Comrade Popov? Was it permissible for Comrade Deutsch to try demonstratively to pillory comrades who did not agree with him? In that way an impossible atmosphere is created. We have been told more than once that we are here as Party members, and must, therefore, be guided exclusively by political considerations. And yet at the present moment everything is being brought down to the personal level, to a question of confidence, or lack of it, in particular editors. And even the numerous mentions of the fact that the draft agenda was put together by only one of the editors have assumed a very undesirable character. I must mention therefore a conversation I had with Comrade Martov, from which I learnt that the draft in question was approved by himself and the other editors. I say again, all concepts are muddled here. For my part I say that, in declaring myself in favour of elections to the editorial board, I am not expressing lack of confidence in the composition of the Iskra board and I do not believe I am lowering the dignity of a member of the congress.

Makhov: When we dealt with item 3 of the agenda we recognised Iskra as the central organ of the RSDLP, and the question was then asked as to what it was that we were proclaiming to be our central organ—just a signboard over an empty space, or that which was hidden beneath the signboard. I think it was the latter. Now we have presented to us an unequivocal proposal to change everything that was hidden beneath that signboard, leaving only the signboard itself. You have heard what miserable arguments are used in support of this proposal. These arguments do not deserve detailed consideration. But since a certain proposal has been put forward, since arguments have been advanced in favour of it, it would be more consistent to remove at one and the same time the proposal and the signboard itself, and, consequently, to recognise that our decision under item 3 of the agenda was mistaken and ought to be rescinded.

Lensky moved a resolution that the meeting be closed. This was adopted by 25 to 58.

The session was closed.



[6] Borba Proletariata is better known to history under the title of its Georgian edition, Brdzola.

[7] It would appear that the “Lenin” at the beginning of this line is unnecessary, as Lenin seems to have taken the chair at this session—or, rather, at the beginning of it.

[8]Gusev (Drabkin) in his memoir of the 2nd Congress in Proletarskaya Revolyutsiya, no. 77-78, 5928, says that the moment of the open split between Lenin and Martov came at this time, in the 30th session, when Lenin, as Chairman, refused to accept Martov’s resolution to postpone discussion of the Yuzhny Rabochy question. “Vigorously protest-ing,” he says, puts Martov’s reaction too mildly—in fact, he was hysterical with anger.