Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress
Present: 43 delegates—including the delegates of the Bund and the Union, to hear the minutes—with 51 mandates, and 11 with consultative voice)
At Lenin’s suggestion the Congress divided into two groups so as to speed up he confirmation of the minutes. A section of the delegates went into another room, these including the delegates of the Bund and the Union.
The minutes of the 34th session were read and confirmed.
The minutes of the 32th session were read.
Fomin, Marlov and some others protests against the use of the word ‘abstained’ (from voting), instead of ‘refused’ (to take part in the voting).
Martov Said that it would have been abstention if they had handed in blank papers, as had in fact been done by one or two delegates. The refusal by the rest of the delegates to hand in papers at all was not abstentiors but refusal.
Karsky, Kostrov and Koltsov look the same view. Posadovsky confirmed, as a matter of fact, that some delegates had said that they were refusing to vote. Comrade Lyadov also confirmed this.
Lenin confirmed the fact [see the statements by Lyadov and Posadovsky] that some had actually said they were refusing to vote, and not abstaining. From the juridical standpoint, however, for members of the Congress who were present in the meeting-hall there were only three ways in which they could vote—for, against, and abstention—and he assigned failure to hand in voting papers to the last-mentioned category.
Gusev said that some delegates—who, exactly, they were, he did not remember—had abstained. He said that the statement of both sides could be entered in the minutes, and expressed surprise that an incident could be caused by such a trifle.
Fomin said that as many as 20 persons had refused to vote, and not abstained. He mentioned that, when the editorial board was elected, 20 persons had abstained. He supposed that these two forms of abstention should be distinguished. He asked that everything that happened be recorded in the minutes, without any sort of qualification of the facts.
Posadovsky agreed with this view.
Yegorov could not agree with Comrade Gusev that what had brought this question up was a mere trifle. As many as 20 had said ‘I refuse to vote’, and Comrade Brouckère had said ‘I refused to vote’.
Martov asked that the incident be finished with quickly, saying that although, of course, the minority must submit to the majority, it nevertheless had the right to demand that the majority compile the minutes correctly.
Lenin asked the secretary to make the appropriate alteration in the minutes.
Trotsky proposed the following correction to Pavlovich’s speech. ‘Comrade Pavlovich said: “I am not going to seek out [to make suppositions about] the purposes for which the compact minority which has undoubtedly been formed here wished to use the figures of the voting.” When Comrade Pavlovich said this, there was uproar in the hall, and Comrade Pavlovich added: “That is my subjective opinion.” ‘
Pavlovich insisted on the wording given in the minutes. The minutes of the 32nd session were confirmed.
The minutes of the 31 st session were read.
Martov: Regarding the passage in Comrade Lenin’s speech where he says that I attributed to him the plan for an editorial trio, I declare that I have no recollection of this passage. If I had heard it I would have protested against it. I ask that this be included in the minutes.
Orlov and Gusev confirmed that Comrade Lenin had said in his speech that the plan had been put to him by two of the editors ofIskra.
Lenin asked that this be included in the minutes.
Lenin: Agreeing with the correction made by Comrades Kostich and Panin, [The beginning of Lenin’s speech [see Session 31] went like this, according to the manuscript: ‘Martov’s speech was so strange that I find myself obliged to protest emphatically against the way he presented the question. Let me recall, in the first place, that Martov’s protest against the election of the editorial board, his refusal and that of his comrades to participate in the editorial board which is to be elected, is in crying contradiction to what we all said (Martov included) when Iskra was recognised as the Party organ. The objection was then put forward that such recognition was pointless, since one cannot endorse a mere title without endorsing an editorial board, and Comrade Martov himself explained to the objectors that this was not true, that it was a certain political trend that was being endorsed, that the composition of the editorial board was not being predetermined in any way and that the election of the editors would come up later, under point 18 of our agenda. Comrade Martov therefore had no right whatever to talk now about the recognition of Iskra being a limited one.’] I affirm that what I meant was that Comrade Martov considered it an insult for him to be included in the editorial trio without the rest of his comrades.
Martov proposed that the minutes include Gorin’s proposal that the names of all the members of the CC be kept secret.
Trotsky: Lenin insists that he was not understood owing to interruptions. But he was being interrupted precisely because we understood him well. I ask that this be included in the minutes.
Gusev proposed that the minutes should mention that after Comrade Popov’s statement that he did not wish to take part in the CC there was applause from all sides.
Lenin proposed that it be mentioned that among those applauding was Comrade Plekhanov.
Martov proposed that it be mentioned that Comrades Plekhanov and Lenin voted against the question of the editorial board being brought up again, and for the two elected editors to be given the right to co-opt the third.
Makhov proposed that it be entered in the minutes that, on the question of confirming the old editorial board (Byelov’s proposal), Comrades Plekhanov and Lenin at first abstained, and then, when the voting went in favour of the proposal, and a second vote was taken, they participated in this, voting against. Also, he wanted it mentioned that Martov abstained on both occasions.
Panin mentioned that when a vote was taken on whether to allow Comrade Martov to give an explanation to the congress, only Comrade Plekhanov voted against.
Plekhanov stated on behalf of the Bureau that he regarded it as incorrect and contrary to standing orders to publish the results of non-roll-call votes and to make investigations into these votes, but that he personally, and Lenin as well, assumed full moral responsibility for what he had done, and therefore made no objection, for his part, to publication of the way he had voted.
The session was closed.