Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

Thirty-fourth Session

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

The minutes of the 14th session were read and, after some minor corrections, confirmed .

The minutes of the 10th session were read.

Gorin made a correction to his speech.

Trotsky asked that Comrade Pavlovich’s speech be read a second time, as it seemed to him meaningless in the form in which it had been read . He asked whether this was the speech as written or as handed in, and asked that his question be recorded in the minutes.

Posadovsky: In view of the fact that a long time has passed since the session the minutes of which we have now heard, it is hard to remember today whether a particular phrase was used by a particular speaker. But I am sure that if Comrade Pavlovich had actually delivered his speech in the form in which it has now been read to us, I could not but have noticed the phrase about the ‘operation’ of the future Party organ, since this phrase is so cynical. I affirm, therefore, that it was not spoken in that form. I ask that this be recorded in the minutes.

Osipov said that he had checked Comrade Pavlovich’s speech and it corresponded to the note taken.

Martov said that he did not remember the phrase about the ‘operation’ which might be carried out on the Party organ being uttered.

Pavlovich: I handed my speech in immediately after delivering it, as I request the secretary to recall. I was replying to Comrade Akimov, who did not understand what was meant by ‘choosing a central organ’. Comrade Akimov had asked whether this implied the complicated work which had to be performed in organ is ing editorial activity. From this it is clear that if Comrade Posadovsky’s thoughts run in the direction of a medical operation, that’s his affair. I used this word in the business, commercial, technical sense, however you prefer to put it, and not at all in the medical sense.

Lyadov said that he had been secretary for the 10th session and remembered that Comrade Pavlovich had made his speech on that day.

Makhov: I remember that Comrade Pavlovich did indeed speak about an operation, but this related to Comrade Akimov, and we did not know what was meant by others who wanted to effect an operation, because we were not paying attention to this point.

Gusev said that he remembered Comrade Pavlovich’s speech quite clearly and it had been correctly reported in the minutes.

Trotsky said that he had not expressed any doubt but merely asked for information. He reminded the presidium that Gorin’s correction had not been read.

The Chairman (Plekhanov) said that the presidium knew what its responsibilities were.

Osipov read Gorin’s correction.

Martov asked that it be recorded in the minutes that, after Pavlovich’s explanation, he remained doubtful as to exactly what the speech written by Pavlovich had contained.

The chairman said that he was not clear as to whether members of the congress had the right to make such observations. Since neither the Bureau nor the congress were present that day in full complement, it would be better to hold the matter over till the next day.

Pavlovich: Every statement must conclude with some juridical act. I propose, therefore, we take this way out of the incident we are discussing, namely, that we do not confirm these minutes, if that is the will of the congress, until I have supplied Comrade Martov with information sufficient to convince him.

Gorin asked that it be entered in the minutes that Comrade Trotsky had expressed doubt concerning his correction.

Trotsky denied this, saying that he had made use of his right as a member of the congress to check and confirm the minutes.

Gorin reaffirmed his statement: Trotsky had been able to put forward his demand after the Bureau itself had failed to fulfil its obligations.

Fomin clarified this incident by saying that the secretary, after receiving the correction, had omitted to read it out, and declared that the reading of the minutes was incomplete.

Osipov asked that it be recorded in the minutes that Pavlovich’s speech had been checked by him.

Pavlovich handed over the conduct of the discussion to Comrade Plekhanov. He asked that it be recorded in the minutes that throughout his period as chairman of the congress that day he had seen to it that corrections were read, and so he considered that Comrade Trotsky’s inquiry regarding Gorin’s correction was un-called-for.

Trotsky: The incident was closed with the chairman’s explanation and the recording in the minutes of all the statements made. We had already gone over to other matters, when one of the members of the presidium had what I will call the tactlessness to revive the incident by describing my inquiry as out of place.

The minutes of the 10th session were confirmed.

The minutes of the 23rd session were then read.

Plekhanov: I have written down here a phrase from Comrade Trotsky’s speech: ‘opportunism is engendered by the objective conditions of the development of the proletariat’. I should like this phrase, which was omitted in the minutes, to be retained.

Trotsky: I deny that I used such a phrase in my speech. What I said was: ‘In my view, opportunism is determined by deeper causes than one or another clause in the rules: no, it is brought about by the relative level of development of bourgeois democracy and of the proletariat, by the influence of the former upon the latter, and by other complex causes.’

Plekhanov did not deny that the phrase Trotsky had just mentioned had been spoken, but he declared that Trotsky had also spoken the phrase which he had read out. In confirmation of his statement, he referred to Comrade Akimov, who, after Trotsky had spoken, said that he fully agreed with Trotsky.

Akimov said that though he certainly remembered agreeing with Trotsky, he did not remember those words.

Martynov confirmed that Comrade Trotsky had spoken only the words which he had quoted, and had not used the phrase ascribed to him by Comrade Plekhanov.

Plekhanov drew Comrade Martynov’s attention to the point that the meaning of the phrase ascribed by him to Comrade Trotsky was absolutely identical with the meaning of the explanation given by Comrade Trotsky.

Martov: Karsky, Koltsov and I confirm that Comrade Trotsky did not utter the phrase of which Comrade Plekhanov speaks.

Akimov: I can state that if Comrade Trotsky had uttered such a phrase, I could not have said that I agreed with him.

Lyadov: I ask that it be recorded in the minutes that the phrase Comrade Trotsky read out just now was omitted from the report of his speech.

Trotsky: In the speech I handed in I left out much more than that. I left out, for example, a criticism of Comrade Plekhanov’s phrase about fourth-level agents. I don’t regard it as so important that everything I said should be immortalised. If Comrade Plekhanov thinks otherwise, I can insert these words, too, in the minutes. I declare that I did not use the phrase that has been attributed to me. I consider that the entire incident can be disposed of if Comrade Plekhanov’s question and my answer are included in the minutes of today’s session.

The chairman (Plekhanov) asked Trotsky to supply the Bureau with this phrase in writing.

Trotsky said that he was not obliged to do this. He gave his speech to the secretary.

The incident was closed.

The chairman (Plekhanov) asked the secretary to read out Trotsky’s explanation.

The secretary (Yegorov) said that the secretary was not obliged to read out his notes immediately. He would read them at the session at which the minutes were confirmed. After this, the minutes of the 23rd session were confirmed.

The minutes of the 24th, 25th, 16th and 33rd sessions were read and confirmed.

The session was closed.