A “Labour Congress”
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 11, page 170.
The newspaper Tovarishch publishes a note saying that Comrade Axelrod is campaigning for a “labour congress”. We, too, have information that the Mensheviks are in fact conducting such a campaign. We think that open discussion of such questions is a Party duty. Or is a campaign for an open labour congress conducted by the most prominent Mensheviks to be concealed from the Party? If Axelrod has no opportunity of setting out his views in print, we can offer him the columns of our newspaper.
- The idea of convening a “labour congress”, which was advanced by P. B. Axelrod and supported by other Mensheviks, consisted in gathering together at a congress representatives of various workers’ organisations to provide the basis of a legal “broad labour party” which would include Social-Democrats, Socialist-Revolutionaries and anarchists. In practice this would have meant the liquidation of the RSDLP and its replacement by a non-party organisation. The Fifth (London) Congress of the RSDLP emphatically condemned the Menshevik idea of a “labour congress” and recognised that the campaign for it was harmful to the development of proletarian class-consciousness. Together with the Bolsheviks, the Polish and Lettish Social-Democrats combated the idea of a “labour congress”.
For criticism of the Menshevik idea of a “labour congress” in Lenin’s works see “Philistinism in Revolutionary Circles”, “The Crisis of Menshevism”, “Intellectualist Warriors Against Domination by the Intelligentsia”, “Angry Embarrassment (the question of the labour congress)”.