Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

Thirty-sixth Session

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

The minutes of the 30th session were read.

Deutsch: In the minutes which have been read, where Comrade Rusov’s speech is quoted, he says that ‘an old revolutionary like Deutsch saw lack of confidence in the members of the editorial board in the fact that the congress wanted to subject them to election’. However, as can be seen from these same minutes, I did not take part in the discussion, and refrained from speaking. Comrade Rusov can have formed a conclusion as to my attitude to his proposal that three members of the board be elected only from my interjections. But that does not signify, either, since when I interjected I spoke not of ‘lack of confidence’ but of something more than that—of the criminality of his proposal, because bringing forward such a proposal seemed to me to be committing a crime against the future of our movement. I foresaw that Comrade Rusov’s proposal would lead to the very consequences that have now ensued, namely, to the departure from the editorial board of the majority of its members. Comrade Sorokin is also wrong when he alleges that I said we should ‘nail to the pillory those who voted for Rusov’s proposal’. I said nothing like that.

Rusov: What was read out here was what I actually said. Therefore I do not find it possible to alter the contents of my speech. Deutsch’s observation can be included in the minutes of today’s session.

Deutsch: That’s all I want.

Sorokin: My comments did not refer to Deutsch’s words but to his conduct. Comrade Deutsch stood up and said: Let us see who is daring.’

Deutsch: I did not say ‘Who is daring’. I said: ‘I am interested to see who the persons are who dare to support such a criminal proposal as the election of a board of three.’ The point here was not cowardice, gentlemen, but your short-sightedness, your lack of foresight.

Gusev: I do not insist on the exactitude of the speech I presented; perhaps it is not photographically accurate, since I was ill at the time, and so I request the comrades, if it is inaccurate, to help me to restore it to its authentic form.

Kostrov: I wanted to ask Gusev about something, but the statement he has now made puts me in a difficult position. One would like to know which is to be regarded as more correct: the extract which the secretary began reading, or Comrade Gusev’s own manuscript, in which he is dealing with the functionaries of the editorial board.

Gusev: If any of the comrades will confirm that I used the words ‘functionaries’ and not ‘administration’, I agree to correct this. I don’t believe Kostrov on his own.

Kostrov: I am not speaking from memory, but about the papers in the possession of the secretary.

Trotsky: Comrade Pavlovich’s speech has been incorrectly compiled. Some very important expressions are missing. In the first place he said, and this phrase is not here, that ‘the corporate body of Iskra, thanks to great efforts, accomplished something respectable, so this is not “thanks to” but “in spite of“.’ Then, later: ‘by putting forward the plan for a trio, the authors declared that these were the conditions and this the combination in which alone they agreed to work.’

Pavlovich: How Comrade Trotsky construes me is of no interest to me, but it is important to me that I was thinking when I spoke. I said that in spite of the imperfect organisation of the editorial board, it had achieved great results. I am not afraid of being suspected and accused of ill-will towards Iskra. I was merely stress ing that we have not only the right but also the duty to give it the forms suitable for its work.

Deutsch, Popov and Panin confirmed what Trotsky had said.

Pavlovich: I insist that no changes be made in the extract from my speech which alter the meaning of this extract. These changes can be included in the minutes.

Deutsch: I do not understand how Comrade Pavlovich can repudiate words which he undoubtedly spoke, and which were heard by 20 persons.

Bekov: And which 20 persons did not hear. Pavlovich asked that this be entered in the minutes.

Karsky: It may be that those 20 did not hear because they were not authorised to.

Chairman (Plekhanov): Your remarks do not comply with the dignity of the congress and I cannot allow them.

Bekov: I do not understand how we can reckon up how many persons heard and how many did not. I say that it is not possible to draw from Comrade Pavlovich’s speech such a conclusion as follows from Trotsky’s correction, and so I consider that Trotsky’s correction is wrong.

Chairman (Plekhanov): I do not regard it as possible to turn this congress session into a session of a court. It is unworthy of the congress. Corrections are being proposed and evidence for them produced.

Pavlovich: I welcome the Comrade Chairman’s words, reminding some comrades that we are at a congress and not a judicial investigation. However, I do not share his optimism that this reminder is unnecessary. I ask Comrade Karsky when it was that he managed to collect such precise figures (that 20 persons heard). Kostrov is sure that the extract from my speech does not contain the phrase he remembered. To him and to Comrade Trotsky I would recommend that in that case they reconstruct the whole of my speech, when, perhaps, those particular phrases will acquire the meaning which I intended to give them. Everyone knows that a phrase torn out of its context can be interpreted in any way you like. I think it is clear to everyone that they are here trying to foist on me a tendency which I could never possess.

Trotsky: In his speech Muravyov said: ‘We know who is more and who is less susceptible to such dissonances.’ I consider this correction very important, since it was this that led to Comrade Martov and the whole editorial board of Iskra leaving the hall.

Panin: What was said was: ‘The dissonances which existed in the editorial board have been revealed at the congress: the majority are already clear as to who is inclined to dissonances.’

Muravyov: I want to bring it to the notice of the congress that the renderings of what I said which were given by Comrades Trotsky and Panin are far from identical in meaning and bear even less resemblance to my actual words. Since what is at issue here is my words alone, I will permit myself to quote two versions of these words which were given in private conversation with persons very closely affected by the incident in question. One of them said that I had said, literally, the following: ‘and we (i.e., the majority at the congress) know who causes them (i.e., the “dissonances“).’ Another person said, no less categorically, that what I had said was: ‘we know how they are caused’. I invite the comrade delegates to try and reconcile these four versions so as to get something common from them which coincides with what I say I said. I meant precisely what I have written. I pointed to the fact that ‘dissonances’ among the editors existed and that these were obvious to the majority at the congress. But I did not say at all that it was a question of ‘dissonances’ of a personal order. I state this categorically, because—and I say this frankly—I have too much respect for the comrades of the editorial board to engage in analysis of that sort of ‘dissonance’. I was referring to the ‘dissonances’ which had been revealed in the congress debates on various points, dissonances over principle, the existence of which is now, unfortunately, a fact that nobody will deny. That is why I insisted that my formulation conveys precisely the sense and content of what I said.

Pavlovich: I understood Muravyov as saying that he did not deny the possibility of dissonances in any corporate body.

Martov agreed with the statement that there ought not to be any judicial investigations. The explanation given by Muravyov, clarifying what exactly he wanted to convey by the phrase he used, will, of course, appear in the minutes, and the incident will thereby be closed.

Muravyov: I again emphasise the point that four such different interpretations exist of those words of mine which I have quoted. On the basis of this fact I affirm that what I said about dissonances corresponds completely with the version given by me.

The minutes of the 29th session were read and confirmed.

The minutes of the 27th session (half of it) were read and confirmed.

The minutes of the 35th session were read and confirmed.

Lenin: It remains to be decided in the minutes of which session to include the names of those who took part in one way or another in the non-roll-call-votes.

Panin: Since Plekhanov’s applause was, on Lenin’s insistence, included in the minutes of the session when this happened, then the votes too should be recorded.

Martov also urged that either both be included or neither.

Lenin agreed with Martov that both should be included in the minutes of the last session.

The corrected Party rules were read and finally approved.

One of the amendments to the third article of the programme which had been adopted was read and approved.

The congress proceeded to the last item of the agenda: Procedure for publishing the decisions of the congress.’ [Part of the discussion on this point and some of the resolutions adopted have not been published, for reasons of security. [Note by the commission.]

Yegorov: In order to avoid any reproaches, I advocate that we elect to the commission for publishing the minutes representatives of both of the halves into which the congress has divided.

Lyadov proposed that the commission be composed of Deutsch, Fomin and Gorin.

Yegorov’s resolution was adopted. [Yegorov’s resolution: ‘A special commission for publishing the minutes to be elected, to consist of representatives of both halves of the congress.’]

Those elected to the commission were: Starover, Koltsov and Gorin.

The session was closed.