Letter to the International Socialist Bureau, July 8, 1905

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To the Secretariat of the International Socialist Bureau[edit source]

Geneva, July 8, 1905

Dear Comrades,

Your letter of July 6 somewhat surprised us. You should already have known that Citizen Plekhanov is no longer the representative of the Russian Social-Democratic Party in the International Socialist Bureau.

In Iskra No. 101, Citizen Plekhanov published the following letter, which we translate literally, and which, one would think, he should have brought to the notice of the Bureau:

“Comrades, the decisions of the conference [of the breakaway section of the Party],[1] which have dealt a mortal blow to the central institutions of our Party, compel me to divest myself of the title of editor of the Central Organ and fifth member of the Council (elected by the Second, lawful Congress).


“P.S. I take this opportunity publicly to ask that section of the Party which recognises the decisions of the ’Third’ Congress[2] as binding, whether it wishes me to continue to represent this, now— alas!—dissevered Party in the International Socialist Bureau. I can remain the representative of the RSDLP only if this is the wish of both sections.

“Montreux, May 29, 1905.”

The editorial board of Proletary,[3] the Central Organ of the Party, replied to this statement of Citizen Plekhanov’s with the following paragraph, published in No. 5, for June 13, 1905:

“In regard to Comrade Plekhanov’s postscript we can state that the question of the Party’s representation in the International Bureau by Comrade Plekhanov has now been submitted to the CC of the Party for its decision.”

The question has not yet been settled and, consequently at the present time Citizen Plekhanov cannot, in the capacity of representative of the Party,[4] sign any document emanating from the International Bureau.

In view of this we draw your attention, dear comrades, to the fact that it is very inconvenient for us to communicate with the Bureau through a comrade who himself declares publicly that he cannot represent the Party so long as it does not definitely authorise him to do so. We again repeat our request to the International Secretariat that, pending settlement of the question of representation in the International Socialist Bureau, everything that concerns us (letters, manifestoes, documents, funds, etc.) should be sent to the address of the Party’s Central Committee (V. Oulianoff, Rue de la Colline, 3, Genéve).

Accept, dear comrades, the assurance of our fraternal sentiments.

  1. This refers to the Geneva Conference of the Mensheviks held simultaneously with the Third Congress of the RSDLP in April 1905.
  2. The Third Congress of the RSDLP was held in London from April 12 to 27 (April 25–May 10), 1905, and was attended by 24 voting delegates and 14 delegates with a consultative voice. It was the first Bolshevik congress.
    All the Congress proceedings were guided by Lenin. He wrote the drafts of all the basic resolutions adopted by the Congress and spoke on the question of the armed uprising, on the participation of Social-Democrats in the provisional revolutionary government, on the attitude towards the peasant movement, on the Party Rules and on a number of other questions. The Minutes of the Congress record over a hundred speeches and motions made by Lenin.
    The Congress condemned the actions of the Mensheviks, their opportunism in organisational and tactical questions; it laid down the tactical line of the Bolsheviks aimed at the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution and its development into a socialist revolution. The resolutions of the Congress outlined the tasks of the proletariat as the leader of the revolution and the strategic plan of the Party in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, namely, the proletariat, in alliance with the peasantry, and with the liberal bourgeoisie isolated , was to fight for the victory of the revolution.
    The Congress amended the Party Rules: a) it adopted Lenin’s wording of Clause One; b) it defined precisely the rights of the Central Committee and its relations with the local committees; c) it modified the organisational structure of the Party’s central bodies: in place of the two centres (the Central Committee, the Central Organ) the Congress established a single competent Party centre—the Central Committee.
  3. Proletary (The Proletarian)—underground Bolshevik weekly, Central Organ of the RSDLP, founded in accordance with a resolution of the Third Party Congress. By a decision of the plenary meeting of the Party CC of April 27 (May 10), 1905, Lenin was appointed Editor-in-Chief.
    Proletary was published in Geneva from May 14 (27) to November 12 (25), 1905. Twenty-six numbers were put out. The newspaper carried on the line of the old, Leninist, Iskra, and maintained complete continuity with the Bolshevik newspaper Vperyod. Lenin wrote over sixty articles and paragraphs for the newspaper. His articles were reprinted in the local Bolshevik periodicals and published in leaflet form.
  4. The question of the RSDLP’s representation in the International Socialist Bureau was discussed in the CC of the RSDLP on May 7 (20), 1905. Plekhanov’s appointment as representative of the RSDLP in the I.S.B. was signed by Krasin, Lenin and Postolovsky with a reservation to the effect that Lenin was instructed to implement this decision in the event of a satisfactory conclusion of the negotiations started with Plekhanov. Lenin considered recognition of the validity of the Third Congress, membership of the Party and acceptance of its decisions to be obligatory on the part of Plekhanov.
    The Mensheviks nominated Plekhanov to the I.S.B. at their conference. On June 16, 1905, Plekhanov notified the I.S.B. that he had been authorised to represent the Party by both splinter groups and gave a tendentious account of the split in which he denied the necessity and validity of the Party’s Third Congress.