Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

Thirty-second Session

(Present: 36 delegates with 44 mandates and 11 with consultative voice.)

Chairman: Before announcing the results of the elections to the CC I wish, in accordance with a request from Comrade Trotsky, to ask the congress to state whether it wishes to have the number of votes announced.

Fomin: I think this question is easily answered. It was decided, for security reasons, that only one of the persons elected to the CC should be named. From the security point of view there are no grounds for not announcing the number of votes cast for each delegate.

The Chairman read a proposal by Comrade Pavlovich: ‘The congress does not require the number of votes to be announced.’

Pavlovich argued as follows in favour of his proposal. The ‘compact minority’ wishes, by publishing the number of votes cast for each delegate, to make public thereby the relations established at the end of the congress between the minority and the majority. When Comrade Fomin advocated publishing the results he gave no reason why he wants this. He said that there is no reason why they should not be announced, but at the same time he offered no grounds for announcing them. I am not going to speculate here about the purposes for which this minority wishes, perhaps, to use the voting figures … This is my personal opinion.

Trotsky: I did not suppose that Comrade Pavlovich would misunderstand. As for Comrade Pavlovich’s reasons, I leave it to his conscience to judge them. This idea is unworthy of that compact majority which Comrade Pavlovich is defending. As for the fear that the CC would lose by having the votes cast announced, that is unworthy of the CC. I hope that it is above such considerations and will brush aside such defenders as Comrade Pavlovich. The congress has the right to demand to know the results of its own voting.

Martov: I agree with what Comrade Trotsky has said. I must add that the Bureau must have agreed with Comrade Pavlovich’s proposal. We have heard this proposal coming not only from the compact majority but also from a representative of the Bureau. But if Comrade Pavlovich’s understanding is not of the highest order, the Bureau ought not to agree with him. I propose an appeal to the congress.

Pavlovich: I repeat that I was speaking for myself. Comrade Fomin did not explain why he favours announcement. Comrade Trotsky speculates and, on the same basis, I too have the right to speculate. I do not understand on what grounds announcement is being asked for.

The Chairman read the following statement which had been handed to the Bureau: ‘In view of the conditions under which the elections to the CC were held, the delegates of the following organisations represented at the congress did not take part in them: (1)Iskra organisation, two mandates (delegate, Martov);[2]] (2) Crimean Association, 2 mandates (delegate, Panin); (3) Nikolayev Committee, 2 mandates (delegate, Makhov); (4) Siberian Association, 2 mandates (delegates, Posadovsky and Trotsky); (5) ‘Emancipation of Labour’ Group, one of two mandates (delegate, Deutsch); (6) Ufa Committee, one of the two mandates (delegate, Fomin); (7) social-Democratic Association of Mining and Metallurgical Workers, 2 mandates (delegate, Lvov); (8) Odessa Committee, one of the two mandates (delegate, Kostich); (9) Don Committee, one of the two mandates (delegate, Tsaryov); (10) Yuzhny Rabochy group, two mandates (delegates, Popov and Yegorov); (11) Kharkov Committee, two mandates (delegates Ivanov and Medvedev); (12) Moscow Committee, one mandate (delegate, Byelov).

‘The following persons, invited to attend the congress with consultative voice, agree in principle with the above-named: V.I. Zasulich, P.B. Akselrod, Starover, members of the former Organising Committee Stein and Fischer, D. Koltsov, and Kostrov.’

Brouckère: I abstained because I refused to vote when the rules were voted on as a whole. I cannot therefore vote now.

Plekhanov: Among the signatures is that of Comrade Deutsch, as delegate of the ‘Emancipation of Labour’ Group. I would ask him to mention alongside his signature that this is the signature of only one of the group’s delegates.

Deutsch: I agree: that is what I wish, too.

Chairman: I propose that the congress decide whether the results of the voting should be announced.

Comrade Pavlovich’s resolution was voted on: 22 votes were cast for it and 22 against.

Trotsky: Let me recall the resolution which the congress adopted that, in cases when an equal number of votes are cast ‘for’ and ‘against’, the resolution is to be considered rejected.

Yegorov: Comrade Pavlovich’s proposal restricts the competence of the congress. The congress is sovereign and must know everything about what it was decided, excepting only whatever it has specially excepted. Comrade Pavlovich’s proposal restricts the rights of the congress, and there can be no question of such restriction.

The Chairman read the results of the voting. Of the 24 votes cast, 24 were cast for the three comrades who were elected to the CC. Of these three, I name, with his agreement, Comrade Glebov. [Applause.][3]

Fomin: Let me point out that 20 of the 44 delegates abstained from voting.

Lenin: Let us proceed to elect the fifth member of the Party Council.

Rusov: I propose that we vote by secret ballot and that the name of the person elected be announced.[4]

Martov: I don’t understand why Comrade Rusov thinks it appropriate to announce the name of the fifth member of the Council. If we are observing security regarding the names of the members of the CC it would be more consistent to maintain the same procedure where the name of the fifth member of the Council is concerned.

Rusov: I have nothing against that.

Lyadov: We decided to observe security regarding the names of the members of the CC because they have to live and work in Russia, whereas the fifth member of the Party Council, by virtue of his function, has to live abroad. Hence it is clear that there is no security reason for concealing his identity.

Trotsky: The Party Council is not doomed to exile in perpetuity. Comrade Lyadov’s wish is not substantiated.[5]

Martov: Comrade Lyadov said that the question of the fifth member had already been decided. [Protest.]

Yegorov: Since the congress is electing a person who is unknown to it, and since we do not know whether he agrees, I do not know how we are to continue with the election if the first person elected refuses to accept.

Lenin: The congress will decide this question only in principle. If this is not possible, we have nothing against announcing the names of those who have refused to accept.

Kostich asked if the number of votes could be announced.

Lenin: That will be seen from the decision of the Bureau of the congress.

Comrade Rusov’s proposal (‘not to announce the name of the fifth member’) was voted on and adopted by 22 to 21, with one abstention.

Kostrov’s proposal (‘to announce the name of the fifth member if he is living abroad’) was rejected by 22 to 22.

Orlov proposed that Comrade Lenin be elected to count the votes. Plekhanov asked that he be not elected for this task.

Popov asked Comrade Plekhanov to say why he was refusing election.

Plekhanov: I did not refuse, I merely asked that I be not elected.

A secret vote was then taken: 18 votes were cast for Lenin, two for Pavlovich, two for Plekhanov, and one for Fomin: 21 delegates refused to vote.

The election of the fifth member of the Council was then held. Lenin, announcing the result of this election, said: ‘Of the 24 votes cast, 20 were cast for one person, two for another, and two were blank.’ [6]

Popov: Is the Bureau certain that the decision of the congress is valid and in order when half the delegates refused to vote?

Lenin: I ask that it be noted that a section of the congress abstained, but did not refuse to vote.

The Chairman: When a similar question was raised by Comrades Martynov and Akimov, I explained to them, with the approval of the congress generally, that practice knows of only three ways of participating in a vote: for, against and abstention. No fourth way is known, and it does not exist. The Bureau remains farm in this opinion.

Martov: Comrade Popov is mistaken. The matter does indeed stand as the Bureau has put it. Legally, of course, our refusal to vote has the same significance as abstention, but because of the secrecy of the voting, in this instance we were obliged to choose a special way of abstaining. As regards the validity of the congress’s decision, that requires an absolute majority of those voting. This majority was obtained, and so the decisions of the congress are valid.

It was decided that the next session should be devoted to reading the minutes, and that the comrades from the Bund and Comrades Akimov and Martynov should be invited to attend, as they had requested.

The session was closed.[7]



[2] The Iskra organisation in Russia, which was to have sent two delegates to the congress, failed to send anyone. It was agreed that Martov should act as the Iskra delegate with two mandates. This left Lenin as the only representative of the League of Social-Democrats Abroad. (Cf. Collected Works, Vol. 7, pp. 74-75.)

[3] The other two elected to the CC, besides Glebov (Noskov), were Krzhizhanovsky and Lenznik.

[4] ‘It remained for us to elett the “fifth” member of the Council. The question was put: would the name of the person elected be announced? The delegate N., one of the majority, proposed that it be announced, since the fifth member of the Council would, of course, be “abroad“. “So, then, it’s already been decided?” asked one of the minority.’ (Trotsky, Report of the Siberian Delegation, p. 24.)

[5] ‘The CC created by the Second Congress is nothing but an agency at the disposal of the Council, which in turn is merely the second hypostasis of the editorial board.’ (Trotsky, Report of the Siberian Delegation, p.28.) Trotsky uses here a theological term: the Holy Trinity—One God in Three Persons’—consists of these hypostases, namely, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

[6] Plekhanov was elected as fifth member of the Party Council.

[7] An atmosphere of extreme tension between the ‘majority’ and the ‘minority’ developed during the 31st and 32nd sessions. Shotman (‘Gorsky’ at the congress) recalls in his memoir of the congress in Proletarskaya Revolyutsiya, no. 77-78,1928, that he had to be restrained from beating up another delegate. Krupskaya writes (1930 edition of the English translation of her memories of Lenin, Vol. I, p.104): ‘The struggle became exceedingly acute during the elections. A couple of scenes just before the voting remain in my memory. Axelrod was reproaching Bauman (‘Sorokin’) for what seemed to him a lack of moral sense, and recalled some unpleasant gossip from exile days. Bauman remained silent, and tears came into his eyes. [Bauman had behaved towards a woman comrade rather as Aveling treated Eleanor Marx, and she too, killed herself.—B.P.] Another scene I remember. Deutsch was reprimanding “Glebov” (Noskov) about something. The latter raised his head, and with gleaming eyes said bitterly: ‘You just keep your mouth shut, you old dodderer!“.’