An Unsubmitted Statement
|Written||29 October 1903|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, pubdate??, Moscow, Volume 7, pages 86-90.
This Unsubmitted Statement was to have been presented to the Second Congress of the League of Russian Revolutionary Social-Democracy Abroad, but Lenin confined himself, at the Congress sitting of October 16 (29), 1903, to some brief oral remarks.
October 29, 1903
I withdrew from the sitting of the Congress yesterday (October 28) because I found it too disgusting to be present at that raking up of sordid tittle-tattle, rumours and private conversations which Martov undertook and performed with hysterical squealing to the delight of all scandal- lovers. It was as though in self-derision that this same Martov spoke eloquently the day before yesterday, about the unseemliness of such references to private conversations, which cannot be verified and which lead one to wonder which of the parties to the conversation is lying. It was just such unseemly conduct that Martov indulged in yesterday when he hysterically pressed me to say which of us was lying, he or I, in reporting the famous private conversation on the subject of the famous trio.
This method of provoking a row by asking who is lying is worthy only of a swashbuckler looking for a pretext to pick a quarrel, or else of a man wound up to hysterical pitch and incapable of weighing the absurdity of his con duct. For a political leader accused of definite political errors to use such a method proves unmistakably that he has no other means of defence and that he is descending from the level of political differences to the miserable level of squabbling and scandal-mongering.
The question now arises, what means of defence can be employed against this swashbuckler’s and rowdy’s trick of hurling unprovable charges based on private conversations? I say “unprovable” charges, because private conversations of which no record is kept preclude, by their very nature, all possibility of proof, and charges based on them lead merely to reiteration of the word “lie” in all its declensions. In the art of such reiteration Martov yesterday reached a pitch of real virtuosity, and I have no intention of following his example.
In my statement yesterday I already indicated one means of defence, and I categorically insist upon it. I challenge my adversary to publish immediately a pamphlet setting forth all his accusations against me, which in his speech were levelled in the form of endless and countless dark hints about lying, intriguing, and so on and so forth. I demand that my adversary bring his charges, over his signature, before the whole Party, because he cast a slur on my reputation as a member of the editorial board of the Party Central Organ and said that certain individuals could not be allowed to hold responsible posts in the Party. I undertake to publish all my adversary’s accusations, for a public airing of the squabbles and scandal will—I know quite positively—be my best defence before the Party. I repeat that if my adversary evades my challenge, it will prove that his accusations are nothing but dark innuendoes, the product either of the slanderous propensities of a scoundrel, or of the hysterical irresponsibility of a politician who has blundered.
However, I have another means of defence, an indirect one. In my statement yesterday, I said that Martov’s account of the private conversation en question was altogether incorrect. I am not going to go into that again, just be cause of the hopelessness and uselessness of unprovable assertions. But let everyone ponder over the “document” which I handed to Martov yesterday and which he read to the Congress. That document was the programme for the Congress and my commentary to it, a commentary written after the “private” conversation, sent by me to Martov and returned by him with his amendments.
This document indisputably represents the quintessence’ of our conversation, and I have only to analyse its exact text to prove that Martov’s accusations are so much scandal. Here is the text in full:
"Item 23 [of the Congress Tagesordnungj. Election of the Central Committee and the editorial board of the Central Organ of the Party."
My commentary: “The Congress shall elect three persons to the editorial board of the Central Organ and three to the Central Committee. These six persons i n c o n j u n c t i o n shall, if necessary, co-opt by a two-thirds majority vote additional members to the editorial board of the Central Organ and to the Central Committee and report to this effect to the Congress. After the report has been endorsed by the Congress, subsequent co-optation shall be effected by the editorial board of the Central Organ and by the Central Committee separately."
Martov has asserted that this system vas adopted solely in order to enlarge the editorial board of six. This assertion is directly contradicted by the words “if necessary”. Clearly, already at that time the possibility was envisaged that it might not be necessary. Furthermore, since the con sent of four out of six was required for co-optation, it is obvious that the editorial board could not be enlarged with out the consent of non-editors, without the consent of at least one member of the Central Committee. Consequently, the enlargement of the editorial board was made contingent on the consent of a person as to whose identity there could at that time (a month, if not six weeks, before the Congress) be only the vaguest conjectures. Consequently, it is obvious that at that time Martov too considered the editorial board of six, as then constituted, incapable of further independent existence, since the deciding voice in the matter of enlarging the elected trio was to belong to a non-editor, also to be elected. Martov too considered it impossible to convert the old editorial board of Iskra into the editorial board of the Party Central Organ without out side, non-editorial assistance.
To proceed. If it had been a matter solely of enlarging the board of six, what would have been the point of talking about a trio? It would have sufficed to substitute for unanimous co-optation, co-optation by some specified majority. In fact, there would in general have been no point in talking about the editorial board, it would have been enough to talk about co-optation to Party institutions in general, or to the central Party institutions in particular. Consequently, it is clear that the idea was not simply enlargement. It is equally clear that it was not one member of the old editorial board, but perhaps two, or even three, who stood in the way of possible enlargement, seeing that, in order to enlarge the board of six, it was first considered desirable to reduce it to three.
Lastly, compare the procedure for introducing “additional members”, i.e., for enlarging the central bodies, as now laid down in the Party Rules adopted by the Congress and as envisaged in the original plan which Martov and I together set down in the above-quoted commentary to Item 23 of the agenda. According to the original plan, the consent of 1 o u r against two was required (for enlargement of the editorial board of the Central Organ or of the Central Committee), while the present Rules require, in the final analysis, the consent of t h r e e against two; for the final authority in deciding about co-optation to the central bodies is now the Council, and if two of the editors plus one other member of the Council want to enlarge the editorial board, they can, consequently, do it against the wishes of the third.
Hence, there cannot be the slightest doubt (from the precise meaning of a precise document) that an alteration in the composition of the editorial board was contemplated (by Martov and myself, without any protest from any of the other editors) long before the Congress, and that this alteration was to be effected irrespective of the wishes or consent of any one member, or possibly even two or three members, of the board of six. One may therefore judge how much validity now attaches to the wretched talk about unofficial binding instructions having tied the six, about moral bonds between them, about the importance of keeping the team intact, and the other such subterfuges in which Martov’s speech abounded. All these subterfuges run directly counter to the explicit text of the commentary, which calls for a reconstitution of the editorial board, a reconstitution to be effected by a rather intricate and, consequently, carefully considered procedure.
Still more unquestionably does it follow from this commentary that alteration of the composition of the editorial board was made contingent on the consent of at least two comrades from Russia, elected by the Congress to member ship of the Central Committee. It is therefore indubitable that both I and Martov hoped to persuade these future members of the Central Committee that a definite alteration in the composition of the editorial board was necessary. Thus, we were leaving the composition of the editorial board to be decided by members of the Central Committee, without yet knowing exactly who they would be. Consequently, we entered the struggle h o p i n g t o w i n t h e s e C e n t r a l C o m m i t t e e m e m b e r s t o o u r s i d e; and now that the majority of the influential comrades from Russia have sided at the Congress with me, and not with Martov (in regard to the differences that have arisen between us), for him to wail hysterically over his defeat and indulge in scurrilities and allegations which by their very nature do not admit of proof is a positively indecent and contemptible method of struggle.
N. Lenin (V. I. Ulyanov)