Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Second Congress

Thirty-seventh Session[8]

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

Fomin read letters from the delegates of the Bund and also their declaration [see Appendix X].

A resolution regarding this declaration was adopted.

Yegorov made the following proposal: ‘I suggest that the Bund be allowed to use the minutes, subject to such restrictions as the commission finds it possible to make.’

Martov proposed the following amendment: ‘The Bund can be given permission to use the minutes only after the publication of chose sections which the commission decides to make public, and only that part of the proceedings when the Bund delegation were present at the congress. Use of minutes by the Bund presupposes an obligation on their part not to publish anything that is not going to be published by the RSDLP.’

Yegorov’s proposal and Martov’s amendment were adopted.

A resolution on the Bund was adopted:

Martov’s resolution: ‘Considering (a) that the second congress of the RSDLP set itself the aim of uniting into a single integrated Party all the Social-Democrats who are active in Russia; (b) that, in particular, one of its tasks was to establish the closest Lies between the General Jewish Workers’ Union and the other sections of our Party; (c) that, despite the Bund’s recognition of the general Party programme, such unification could not be realised owing to the difference of principle on the question of the Bund’s place in the Party, and appreciating the very serious loss to the cause of achieving unity which will inevitably be caused by the departure of the Bund from the Party—the second congress of the RSDLP expresses its most profound regret, and at the same time its firm confidence that with the future growth of the movement these differences will disappear and that that complete merging of the proletariat of all nationalities in a single RSDLP will take place which is needed in the interests of the struggle of the working class for emancipation.’ Popov, Ivanov, Yegorov, Medvedev, Byelov, Makhov, Tsaryov, Fomin, Lvov, Rusov, Lyadov, Gorsky, Muravyov, Bekov, Dyedov, Stepanov, Gusev, Yuzhin, Plekhanov.

Lenin and Plekhanov moved a resolution on the organ for the sectaries. [For discussion of each of the following resolutions two speakers were allowed ‘for’ and two ‘against’]

Yegorov: Since discussion is not possible now, I propose that no resolution be tabled for entrusting the publication of Social-Democratic literature to a single person.

Lenin: Bonch-Bruyevich is not an unknown person, he is a member of the League. It is possible to table a resolution since the organ will be published by way of an experiment and under the control of the Central Organ and the CC.

Yegorov: I ask that it be recorded in the minutes that when the question of Yuzhny Rabochy was discussed we were not asked at whose expense Yuzhny Rabochy was to be published. The consideration that publication of Yuzhny Rabochy could do no harm to the common cause was thought insufficient. Now Comrade Lenin regards that consideration as sufficient to justify accepting Comrade Bonch-Bruyevich’s proposal. As for control by the Central Organ, I must say that we did not refuse to put ourselves under the control of the central organ, the CC and any other central institutions.

Martov proposed a change in the last part of the resolution moved by Plekhanov and Lenin:

Resolution on the organ for the sectaries, moved by Lenin and Plekhanov: ‘Considering that the sectarian movement in Russia is, in many of its manifestations, one of the democratic tendencies directed against the prevailing order of things, the second congress draws the attention of all Party members to work among the sectaries with a view of drawing them towards Social-Democracy. By way of an experiment, the congress authorises Comrade V. Bonch-Bruyevich to publish, under the control of the editorial board of the Central Organ, a popular paper to be called Sredi Sektantov (‘Among the Sectaries’), and empowers the CC and the editorial board of the Central Organ to take the measures needed for the realisation of this publication and the establishment of all the conditions for it to function correctly.’ Lenin, Plekhanov, Dyedov, Gorsky, Osipov, Lyadov, Hertz, Stepanov, Murazyov, Lange, Gusev, Pavlovich.

Martov’s amendment was adopted [Martov’s amendment: all the last part of the resolution, beginning with the words: BY way of experiment’ to be replaced by: ‘The congress empowers the CC to deal with the proposal contained in Comrade Bonch-Bruyevich’s report.’] and then also the Lenin-Plekhanov resolution, as so amended. Lenin’s resolution on the Georgian and Armenian newspaper was discussed. [This resolution was not found in the minutes, and neither was Kostrov’s proposal on the same subject. [Note by the commission.]

Brouckère: Does the Caucasian Association exist?

Rusov: It exists, but has not yet been given formal structure: its rules are being worked out.

Martov proposed deleting from the resolution the word ‘Party’.

Posadovsky: If this resolution restricts the rights of the CC it is harmful; if it does not place restrictions on the CC, it is unnecessary.

Karsky: An amendment is needed, since the Association has not been endorsed. [A clash with the chairman occurred here, as Karsky spoke against the resolution after being called upon to speak for it.]

Kostrov’s proposal on t his matter was adopted.

A resolution on giving testimony was discussed:

Pavlovich’s resolution on giving testimony under interrogation: ‘Considering: (a) that any testimony given by revolutionaries when under interrogation by the gendarmerie serves, in the hands of the interrogators, regardless of the intentions of the revolutionaries, as the principal means of charging more people and bringing them under interrogation; and (b) that refusal to testify, if carried out on a wide scale [while it cannot in any case worsen the position of the accused, and that such a tactic] will markedly help in the revolutionary education of the proletariat, the second congress of the RSDLP recommends all Party members to abstain from giving any kind of testimony when interrogated by the gendarmerie.’ Pavlovich, Stepanov, Plekhanov, Rusov, Glebov, Osipov, Dyedov, Strakhov, Brouckère, Braun, Gorsky, Lyadov, Muravyov, Gusev, Kostich, Lvov.

Yegorov was against the argument included in the resolution, which he thought should be omitted.

Deutsch proposed deletion of the phrase ‘cannot in any case worsen the position of the accused, and that such a tactic’.

Deutsch’s proposal was adopted.

An amendment was adopted for replacing the words ‘abstain from giving’ by ‘refuse to give’.

The resolution as a whole, as amended, was then adopted.

The congress passed to discussing two resolutions about the liberals: (1) Starover’s:

Starover’s resolution on the liberals: ‘The RSDLP, the independent political party of the proletariat, proceeding from the proposition contained in its programme which proclaims that the Party “supports every oppositional and revolutionary movement directed against the social and political order prevailing in Russia“, does not refuse to enter, and, should the need arise, will enter, through its central institutions, into temporary agreements with liberal or liberal-democratic trends; on condition, however, (a) that these trends clearly and unequivocally declare that in their struggle against the autocratic government they stand resolutely alongside the Russian Social-Democrats; (b) that they do not include in their programmes demands which run counter to the interests of the working class and of democracy generally, or obfuscating their consciousness, and (c) that they take as their battle-slogan: universal, equal, secret and direct suffrage.’ Starover, Trotsky, Stein, Koltsov, Martov, Fischer, Akselrod, Posadovsky, Panin, Braun, Orlov, Osipov.

…and (2) Plekhanov’s:

Plekhanov’s resolution on the liberals: ‘Considering that Social-Democrats must support the bourgeoisie in so far as it is revolutionary or even merely oppositional in its struggle against Tsardom; that, therefore, Social-Democrats must welcome the awakening of political consciousness in the Russian bourgeoisie; but that, on the other hand, they are obliged to unmask before the proletariat the limited and inadequate character of the bourgeois liberation movement, wherever this limitedness and inadequacy shows itself, the second ordinary congress of the RSDLP insistently recommends to all comrades that, in their propaganda, they direct the attention of workers to the anti-revolutionary and anti-proletarian character of the trend expressed in Mr P Struve’s organ, Osvobozhdenie. ’ Plekhanov, Lenin, Pavlovich, Gorsky, Bekov, Rusov, Muravyov, Lyadov, Gorin, Gusev, Stepanov, Sorokin, Orlov, Osipov, Braun.

Martov: I am for Starover’s resolution and against that of Plekhanov and Lenin. The former puts the question on a businesslike basis, while at the same time bringing out our antagonism to the Liberals on principie. The latter, having given a correct formulation of our attitude on principle to the bourgeoisie, ends with a paltry conclusion that a particular writer should be exposed. Would this not be ‘using a sledgehammer to kill a fly’? The congress of representatives of the Russian proletariat reducing their attitude to the liberal bourgeoisie to their attitude to a single writer!

Plekhanov: Our resolution has in view not Osvobozhdenie but a definite liberal trend of which Osvobozhdenie is the organ and not of any other trend. The attitude of the workers to this trend must be clear and definite. In Starover’s resolution there is no statement of general principle and attention is mainly focused on a possible agreement, as though such an agreement were on the agenda, which is not yet the case.

Kostrov: The resolution must emphasise the difference between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The name of Struve means nothing to the proletariat.

Starover: I think that at the present time it is important to lay down the conditions on which an agreement would be possible. Such an agreement is on the agenda. We have already given support to the student movement, and the question may arise of support for the Zemstvo-democratic movement.

Lenin: Starover’s resolution will be misconstrued: the student movement and Osvobozhdenie are two quite different things. To take the same attitude to both would be harmful. Struve’s name is all too well known, and the workers know it. Comrade Starover thinks that we need to give a definite directive; in my view what we need is to define an attitude on principle and on tactics.

Kostrov’s amendment to Plekhanov’s resolution was rejected. Both resolutions (Starover’s and Plekhanov’s) were adopted. Akselrod’s resolution on the Socialist-Revolutionaries was discussed:

Akselrod’s resolution on the Socialist-Revolutionaries: ‘Considering: (a) that the interests of the Russian proletariat generally and of its liberation movement in particular require it to act, in the struggle against absolutism, as a completely independent political force; (b) that only activity aimed at uniting the proletariat into such a force possesses socialist revolutionary content in the struggle against absolutism; and considering, further: (c) that the “Socialist-Revolutionaries” oppose, in theory and in practice, the efforts of the Social-Democrats to weld the workers into an independent political party, and strive, on the contrary, to keep them as a politically amorphous mass capable only of serving as a tool of the liberal bourgeoisie—the congress declares that the “Socialist-Revolutionaries” are nothing but a bourgeois-democratic faction, towards whom Social-Democrats can in principle have an attitude no different than towards liberal representatives of the bourgeoisie in general. Considering, further, that the “Socialist-Revolutionaries” pursue their bourgeois tendencies under the flag of socialism and that, in addition, or, rather, for this reason, they are utterly bankrupt as a bourgeois-revolutionary faction, the congress regards their activity as detrimental not only to the political development of the proletariat but allo to the overall democratic struggle against absolutism.

‘For all these reasons, the congress condemns unconditionally any attempt to hide the principled and political significance of the difference between “SocialistRevolutionaries” and their practical bankruptcy from the general democratic viewpoint.

‘In the light of the above-mentioned considerations the congress does not regard as possible any more or less continual alliance between the Social Democrats and the “Socialist-Revolutionaries“, even within the narrow framework of general-democratic tasks; but does not rule out the possibility of temporary agreements between them in those cases when the relation of fortes and the character of the attacks being undertaken against absolutism make such agreement necessary.—Akselrod, Fischer, Martov, Trotsky, Deutsch, Koltsov, Stein, Fomin, Starover, Karsky, Panin, Kostich, Popov, Posadovsky, Makhov.’

Yegorov: We say in the programme that we must support all oppositional and revolutionary movements. In Russia two such movements exist: the Liberal one and the Socialist-Revolutionary one. It turns out that we look negatively upon both of these movements. What this comes to is that as soon as an oppositional movement assumer concrete form, we say: away with it! How are we to escape from this contradiction?

Akselrod: Yegorov’s question actually embraces two questions: (a) how to reconcile in practice our principled attitude of hostility in general to all bourgeois oppositional and revolutionary factions with the tactical position of support for them in the struggle against reaction; and (b) how to reconcile the resolution I have moved against the ‘Socialist-Revolutionary’ Party with this tactical position in particular.

The first question is undoubtedly of very great importance for our Party. I expected that special attention would be given to it at our congress, and hoped that I should manage to deal thoroughly with this question here. Unfortunately, the congress has been left with no time for the discussion I had hoped for, and in the few minutes at my disposal I cannot deal with the question. I can only summarise, and then only in part, the conclusion I would have drawn if I had spoken specially on the question touched upon by Comrade Yegorov. This is the conclusion. Considering the political passivity of our liberal bourgeoisie there can as yet be no question of correct support for it, in the literal sense, by the RSDLP. At the present time, in order to ‘support’ it in practice we must systematically utilise the oppositional and revolutionary mood of the upper classes in the interests of the development of revolutionary initiative and political independence among the mass of the workers. This conclusion seems at first sight paradoxical. But this is only because I have expressed it in such a general way, without giving reasons or grounds for it.

As regards our attitude to the ‘Socialist-Revolutionary’ Party, this is directly determined by the circumstance that, while coming forward under the flag of socialism and competing with the Social-Democrats on the terrain of propaganda and agitation among the democratic intelligentsia and the proletariat, the ‘Socialist-Revolutionary’ party at the same time harms the cause of socialism and the liberation struggle against the autocracy. The revolutionary Narodnik movement strove to preserve Russia from capitalist development. This endeavour was recognised to be utopian and even reactionary, and in practice the ‘Socialist-Revolutionaries’ have renounced it. Its place has been taken, in the programme and activity of the Social-Democrats, by the striving to preserve the Russian proletariat from the intellectual and political tutelage of the bourgeois parties, through organising the active revolutionary sections of the proletariat, while still in the grip of absolutism, in an independent political party, through systematic development of class consciousness and political independence among the worker masses. Since the objective course of economic development has not enabled Russia to ‘leap over’ the capitalist phase directly into the realm of socialism, the Russian Socialists have been obliged to direct their forces to ensuring that the Russian proletariat at least leaps over’ the phase of subordination to the ideological and political leadership of the bourgeois political parties, in order that from the very outset of its appearance on the historical arena this proletariat should stand forth as an independent revolutionary force, under its own banner, led by a party which has arisen and which acts as the representative of its class interests, grouping and concentrating in itself the most conscious and actively revolutionary elements of the proletariat. This is the practical idea which has called the Russian Social-Democratic movement into existence, which underlies its programme, and which determines the content and direction of its activity.

In the West the workers took part in the struggle against the feudal-monarchical order as a formless socio-political element, a general homogeneous mass, led by bourgeois-democratic revolutionaries. The result was that even long after the feudal-monarchical order had been destroyed, the advanced strata of the proletariat followed blindly the left factions of the bourgeoisie, which relied upon the glorious traditions of the epoch of the bourgeois revolutionary movements, strengthening their prestige by means of the traditions of the heroism and radical democratism of the revolutionaries of that period, from whom they traced their pedigree. The revolutionary ideologists of the proletariat had, therefore, to devote much labour and time to freeing even these strata from the political tutelage of the radical bourgeoisie. Only after this could a broad and all-sided struggle of the proletariat begin against our bourgeois society. Developing the political consciousness of our proletariat, organising it into an independent political party, trying to win for it the role of vanguard in the struggle against absolutism, we thereby preserve it from the tutelage of the bourgeoisie, ensuring for it the possibility of exerting, in the interests of the exploited masses, a serious influence on the outcome of our present-day liberation movement, and bringing nearer the triumph of socialism over capitalism. Only in this way can we fil the revolutionary movement which is aimed directly against absolutism with real socialist content, only in this way will this movement become directly a phase or prologue of the liberation struggle of the proletariat, in the name of socialism, against the whole bourgeoisie. And yet all the activity of the ‘Socialist-Revolutionary’ party is aimed in precisely the opposite direction. Both theoretically and practically the ‘Socialist-Revolutionaries’ try to hold back the development of political consciousness in the Russian proletariat, and in practice they are against raising it to the level of an independent and advanced revolutionary force in the struggle for freedom. On the contrary, they—unconsciously, of course—follow a path which inevitably leads to transforming the proletariat into a blind tool or political tail of the bourgeois parties. This is why the Social-Democrats cannot but treat them as a bourgeois faction.

But the ‘Socialist-Revolutionaries’ are, at the same time, poor bourgeois revolutionaries. Wishing to remain ‘socialists’, if only in words, being unable to adapt their programme and tactics to the demands and requirements of the oppositional bourgeoisie, they are unable to become their leaders, as their radical wing, urging them forward and giving them support. Consequently, apart from rare specific instances, it is also not possible to speak seriously of practical support by the Social Democrats for the ‘Socialist-Revolutionary’ party as a bourgeois revolutionary party.

Martov: I will use the opportunity to reply to Yegorov’s question, which came up already during our discussion of the programme, and was put to us on several occasions because of our controversy with the Liberals and the ‘Socialist-Revolutionaries’. If we are to support ‘every revolutionary and oppositional movement’, how can we wage war on those parties which are trying to organise oppositional or revolutionary movements of other classes? The contradiction here is only apparent. In Western Europe too the growth of Social Democracy was accompanied by the decline of the bourgeois-democratic parties, partly under the influence of criticism by the Social-Democrats. But would it be true to say that Social-Democracy killed the democratic movement? No, because it kills this or that party only in so far as it revolutionises the consciousness of its agents, and if this party, being incapable of development, tries to restrict, for the sake of narrow class interest, the range of its radicalism, then Social-Democracy draws into its ranks the former supporters of such a party. The Russian Social-Democratic movement cannot act otherwise. It supports every oppositional and revolutionary movement by criticising the limitations of the actually-existing oppositional parties, facing them with the choice of either advancing or else los ing their influence over the awakened elements of society which Social-Democracy invites into its ranks.

Plekhanov proposed an amendment to Akselrod’s resolution: to replace the last paragraph by the following [see note *]. He justified this amendment by claiming that it made the conclusion sharper and more decisive.

[*Plekhanov’s amendment: ‘In the light of the above-mentioned considerations the congress decisively condemns any attempt at uniting the Social-Democrats with the “Socialist-Revolutionaries” and recognises as possible only partial agreements with them in particular instances of struggle against Tsardom, the conditions of such agreements to be subject to supervision by the Central Committee.’]

Akselrod: I agree to accept Plekhanov’s amendment, but I find his argument in support of it unfounded. It is strange to describe the conclusion of my resolution as not being ‘decisive’. On the contrary, it rejects not merely ‘union’ with the ‘Socialist-Revolutionaries’ but also ‘alliance’, which is, as you know, permissible also between parties which are opposed to each other on questions of principle, and even between different states. Any tendencies towards union are condemned in the very preamble of the resolution. Nevertheless, I accept Plekhanov’s amendment on stylistic grounds. The phrase comes out more elegantly than in my conclusion. Besides, it mentions the Central Committee, which did not exist when I drafted my resolution.

Lenin supported Plekhanov’s amendment.

Plekhanov’s amendment was adopted.

Akselrod’s resolution, as amended, was adopted by all except for one abstention.

Martov’s resolution on demonstrations was discussed:

Martov’s resolution on demonstrations: ‘Considering that, under the conditions prevailing in Russia, political demonstrations are one of the most important means of politically educating the broadest masses of the people and of spreading and strengthening the influence of the Social-Democrats; that demonstrations are at the same time the best means of systematically disorganising the machinery of government; that, gradually increasing in scope, these demonstrations must lead, and to some extent are already leading, to a series of armed clashes between the people and the governing authority, thus preparing the masses for a Russia-wide uprising against the existing order, the congress recognises it as necessary that local committees take advantage of suitable occasions for organising political demonstrations. At the same time, the congress notes that in the previous approach to this question, some substantial defects were observed in practice, and recommends that, in order to eliminate these: (1) the committees should, through extensive preliminary agitation, endeavour to ensure that the broadest sections of the population are sympathetic to the aims of a demonstration and are informed of the Partys aims; (2) demonstrations should be organised to take advantage of moments when the mood of the working masses is favourable for this purpose, and artificial incitement of demonstrations when this condition is lacking should be avoided; (3) the active nucleus of demonstrators should be sufficiently numerous, well-organised and prepared for the role they have to play; (4) measures should be taken to ensure that, in case of need, the demonstrators will be able to offer an active, and, if possible, armed rebuff to the police hordes; (5) in view of the fact that regular troops are increasingly being used against the people, steps should be taken to acquaint the soldiers with the nature and purpose of the demonstrations, and to invite them to fraternise with the people; the demonstrators should not be allowed needlessly to irritate the soldiers. The Second Congress of the RSDLP recognises the desirability of the Central Committee directing and co-ordinating the efforts of local committees in the organisation of demonstrations, and taking upon itself the organisation of Russia-wide political demonstrations in accordance with a general plan.—Martov, Stein, Fischer, Starover, Koltsov, Trotsky, Panin, Posadovsky, Makhov, Braun, Tsarov.

Kostrov proposed an amendment on the ground that the idea of armed resistance was expressed very weakly in the resolution.

Martov: I regard Comrade Kostrov’s amendment as unnecessary. In drafting the resolution I had in mind countering that view, so widespread through the influence of the ‘Socialist-Revolutionaries’, that the main thing wrong with our demonstrations is the absence of armed resistance. This is not true. The facts show that only in rare cases is failure to be explained by the lack of weapons. Much more often the causes of failure are insufficient numbers and bad organisation of the demonstrators, lack of broad preliminary agitation, and, because of that, lack of sympathy on the part of the crowd. Our resolution points to the need to prepare all these preliminary conditions, and it is quite enough for it to refer to the need to organise an armed rebuff in a critical situation. It is said that the era of ‘peaceful’ demonstrations is past. No! The events in Odessa[9] have shown that, when we have tens of thousands on our side, a peaceful demonstration can accomplish a great deal. The resolution brings out our view of the importance of the demonstration as the best means of disorganising the machinery of government. We veed constantly to keep in mind that the concentration of all its forces which we impose upon the autocracy by our agitation is the chief positive result of our work.

Yegorov: Demonstrations begin spontaneously, and yet on May Day hardly anyone responded to the appeal. The main thing is choosing the right moment. The masses have not yet risen to the level, have not yet matured sufficiently to the point when they will come to a demonstration even if they are not in the appropriate mood. I therefore move an amendment.

Rusov also moved an amendment.

All the amendments were rejected, and Martov’s resolution was adopted.

Martov’s resolution on the trade union struggle was the next item:

Martov’s resolution on the trade-union struggle: ‘Considering: (a) that trade-union struggle by the workers inevitably follows from the situation of the proletariat in capitalist society; (b) that this struggle is one of the principal means of countering the tendency of the capitalist system to lower the workers’ standard of living; and (c) that in so far as this struggle develops in isolation from the political struggle of the proletariat, led by the Social-Democrats, it results in fragmentation of the proletarian forces and subordination of the labour movement to the interests of the propertied classes—the congress recognises that the task of the RSDLP in the field of the trade-union movement is to lead the day-to-day struggle of the workers for improvement in their working conditions and to agitate for removal of all the obstacles put in the way of the trade-union movement by the laws of the Russian autocracy; in short, to unite the separate conflicts involving particular groups of workers into a single, organised class struggle.

‘At the same time, in view of the increasingly obvious endeavours of the Tsarist government to get control of the economic struggle of the proletariat under the guise of “legalising the labour movement“, and by corrupting it politically to ture this movement into a pawn in its own political game; in view of the fact that this so-called “Zubatov policy” not only has a reactionary-political inspiration and is implemented by police-provocateur methods, but is a policy of systematic betrayal of the interests of the working class for the benefit of the capitalists—the congress recommends that all comrades continue the unremitting struggle against Zubatovism in all its forms, that they lay bare before the workers the self-seeking and treacherous character of the tactics of the Zubatovist demagogues, and that they cal! on the workers to unite in a single class movement of struggle for the political and economic emancipation of the proletariat. To this end the congress recognises it as desirable that Party organisations give support and guidance to strikes called by the legal labour organisations, and at the same time make use of the clashes to expose the reactionary nature of the union between the workers and the autocracy.—Martov, Zasulich, Trotsky, Stein, Fischer, Deutsch, Koltsov, Starover, Akselrod, Karsky, Posadovsky, Popov, Panin, Tsaryov, Orlov. ’

Martov: In the resolution I move, particular attention is given to the duty of Social-Democrats not to remain neutral in those conflicts between labour and capital which arise as a result of the work of various ‘independents’, or even against their will. Comrades have told me of cases when Social-Democratic workers have considered it possible to take the places of ‘independents’ who have gone on strike. The recent events in Odessa have shown what consequences can follow from the Government’s playing at legalisation. For this very reason, we must not remain aloof from the purely economic struggle, even when this is being conducted under the auspices of the ‘legalisers’.

Plekhanov proposed a stylistic amendment, to which Martov agreed.

The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Also adopted unanimously were Plekhanov’s resolution on the pogrom in Kishinev:

Plekhanov’s resolution on pogroms against the Jews: ‘In view of the fact that movements such as the all too sadly well-known pogrom in Kishinev, quite apart from the abominable atrocities they commit, serve in the hands of the police as a means by which the latter seek to hold back the growth of class-consciousness among the proletariat, the congress recommends comrades to use all means in their power to combat such movements and to explain to the proletariat the reactionary and class inspiration of anti-semitic and all other national-chauvinist incitements.—Plekhanov, Deutsch, Trotsky, Koltsov, Fomin, Posadovsky, Byelov, Pavlovich, Karsky, Gusev. ’

…Martov’s on shop stewards:

Martov’s resolution on shop-stewards: ‘On the basis of the propositions developed in the resolution on the trade-union struggle, and considering that the new law on shop-stewards is intended by the government to serve as a means of strengthening police tutelage over the working class, and that, as with all attempts by the government at “legalising the labour movement” this law can and must become a point of departure for agitation against the autocracy and for development of the class consciousness of the proletariat, the congress recommends all organised comrades to take part in the elections of shop-stewards under the new law and to agitate during these elections for the installation of the most reliable representatives of the workers so as to expose the tactics of the authorities and the capitalists in these elections.—Martov, Fischer, Stein, Trotsky, Starover, Panin, Posadovsky, Makhov, Tsaryov, Lyadov. ’

…and Martov’s resolution on the presentation of propaganda:

Martov’s resolution on the presentation of propaganda: ‘Considering that the growth of the labour movement in Russia is far outrunning the growth of the cadre of conscious worker Social-Democrats capable of acting as leaders in the ever more complex struggle of the Russian proletariat; that the conditions of police-imposed clandestinity hinder in the highest degree the correct presentation of propaganda through study-circles on any Wide scale at all; and that the lack of a sufficient number of experienced and skilled propagandists puts considerable obstacles in the way of propaganda of this kind—congress recognises the necessity for local committees to give very serious attention to the correct presentation of propaganda, being guided in this, above all, by the task of developing conscious and active agitators with a definite revolutionary world-outlook. The congress proposes that local committees give particular attention to selecting skilful propagandista and instructs the Central Committee to take all needful measures for systematising and co-ordinating propaganda work in the localities, providing systematic guides for study-circles, a series of systematically chosen propaganda pamphlets and so on.—Martov, Fischer, Trotsky, Zasulich, Stein, Fomin, Koltsov, Panin, Karsky, Tsaryov. ’

The congress proceeded to discuss Lenin’s resolution on the student youth:

Lenin’s resolution on the attitudes to the student youth: ‘The second congress of the RSDLP welcomes the quickening of revolutionary activity among the student youth, urges all Party organisations to co-operate in every way with these young people in their efforts to organise themselves, and recommends all student groups and study-circles, first, to give priority in their activity to developing among their members an integral and consistent socialist world-outlook—a serious knowledge of Marxism, on the one hand, and on the other, of Russian Narodism and Western-European opportunism, as the main trends among the advanced tendencies which are in conflict today; [secondly, to beware of those false friends of the youth who divert it from serious revolutionary education by empty revolutionary or idealistic phrasemongering and philistine mosning about the harmfulness and superfluousness of sharp controversy between revolutionary and oppositional trends, since these false friends actually spread nothing but lack of principie and a frivolous attitude to revolutionary work]; thirdly, to try, when going over to practical activity, to establish links beforehand with the Social-Democratic organisations, so as to benefit from their advice and to avoid, as far as possible, committing major errors at the very beginning of their work.—Lenin, Plekhanov, Gorin, Rusov, Dyedov, Lyadov, Murazyov, Lange, Brouckère, Gusev. ’

Martov: The resolution moved by Lenin seems to me to be quite unsatisfactory. It is necessary to say that the youth should endeavour to acquire an integral world outlook; but it is absolutely out of place te speak in this connection of ‘false friends’, using the very term which the press employs when writing about us socialists. We have expressed our definite attitude to the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Liberals; there is no point in mentioning again, specially, in the resolution on the youth, the dangers which threaten from the direction of those parties.

Lenin: The expression ‘false friends’ is not just an expression used by reactionaries, and we know from the example of the Liberals and Socialist-Revolutionaries that such false friends do exist. It is these false friends who are trying to persuade the youth that they have no need to distinguish between the different trends. We, on the contrary, comider it the main task to develop an integral revolutionary world outlook, and the practical task for the future is to get the youth, when they are organising themselves, to turn towards our committees.

Makhov and Trotsky proposed that the second clause be omitted from Lenin’s resolution.

This amendment was adopted, and Lenin’s resolution, as so amended, was then adopted. Koltsov’s resolution on the Amsterdam Congress was voted on and adopted unanimously:

Koltsov’s resolution: ‘International socialist congresses should not only testify to the solidarity of the workers throughout the world, but should to a certain extent also give leadership to the ideological and practical struggle of the proletariat. Therefore the second congress of the RSDLP recommends the Party Council to see that the Party is appropriately represented at the congress in Amsterdam in 1904, in order to uphold there those principies of revolutionary Social-Democracy by which the Party is guided in all its activity.—Koltsov, Martov, Trotsky, Fischer, Starover, Fomin, Deutsch, Kostich, Orlov, Posadovsky, Panin, Tsaryov, Gusev. ’

Martov’s resolution on party publications:

Martov’s resolution on party publications: ‘Considering: (a) that the broadening development of the labour movement ought to be accompanied by the clearest possible understanding among the working-class masses of the immediate and ultimate aims of the Social-Democrats; (b) that it is a vital task for the Party at the present moment to create a strictly consistent body of publications accessible to the widest possible mass of readers, taking into account the present state of the Party’s forces—the congress recognises it as necessary: (1) that the central organ devote as much space as possible to questions of political and social life in a form as intelligible as possible to the widest circle of readers, and eliminating, as far as possible, articles of a purely theoretical nature; (2) that with these aims in mind and in order to ensure a more systematic elucidation of problems of socialist theory, [there be established a scientific organ of the Party, appearing as regularly and frequently as possible] Zarya be transformed into a Party organ; the congress instructs the central committee to reach agreement with the editorial board of the central organ on the conditions governing publication of this organ [Plekhanov’s amendment]; (3) that an extensive pamphlet literature be created, for the purpose of systematically popularising the Party programme and the congress resolutions on tactical questions. The congress instructs the Party’s central institutions to see to the taking of all measures needed for the implementation of these decisions.—Martov, Zasulich, Akselrod, Koltsov, Kostrov, Stein, Kostich, Posadovsky, Panin, Makhov. ’

…was the object of an amendment moved by Lenin, to strike out the words: ‘eliminating articles of a purely theoretical nature’.

Martov: I am against the amendment proposed by Lenin. The words about eliminating articles of a purely theoretical nature should stand. If we decide against a special ‘popular’ organ then we must try to ensure that our central organ becomes as accessible to the readers as possible. It is precisely the articles of a purely theoretical character, for which there is a place in Zarya, that makes Iskra particularly non-popular.

Lenin’s amendment was rejected.

Plekhanov’s amendment, about Zarya, was adopted. Martov’s resolution, as amended by Plekhanov, was adopted. Deutsch’s resolution on Iskra [Deutsch’s resolution: ‘The congress expresses its desire that the central institutions turnIskra into a daily publication within the shortest possible time.—Deutsch, Trotsky, Koltsov, Fomin, Panin, Kostich, Tsaryov, Posadovsky. ’] was adopted unanimously.

Plekhanov closed the congress, reminding delegates in a brief concluding speech that the decisions of the congress were binding on all members of the Party.

The congress was closed.



[8] ‘At the end of the congress, on the very last day of its proceedings, some delegates of the majority were already behaving without the proper “firmness“. This explains why, at the last session, when the resolutions on tactics were adopted in haste, the minority already proved to be the majority. We passed a number of resolutions (by Comrades Akselrod, Martov and Starover), some of them against the opposition of the “majority“. We introduced radical amendments into the resolutions of Comrades Lenin and Plekhanov, in spite of their resistance. We put two members of the “minority” into the three-man commission (responsible neither to the central organ nor to the CC) for publishing the minutes.’ (Trotsky, Report of the Siberian Delegation, p. 26.)

[9] ‘The events in Odessa.’ July 1903 saw a wave of strikes in the Ukraine and Transcaucasia (cf. a reference elsewhere to the strike in Batum). In Odessa a prominent part was played in the struggle by workers organised in the ‘Zubatovist’ trade union. This turn of events led to the authorities becoming disenchanted with Zubatov’s ‘policecontrolled’ trade unions, and Zubatov himself was ‘transferred to other work’.