Modification of the Clause in the Rules Concerning the Centres

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Author(s) Lenin
Written February 1905

Published: First published in 1926 in Lenin Miscellany V. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 197-199.
Keywords : Party, RSDLP, Russia, Statutes

A good many of the comrades working in Russia, including the Bureau of Committees of the Majority, are going on record for a single centre in Russia.

What would such a reform actually mean? The idea unmistakably implied in this tendency is that comrades active in Russia should predominate in the one centre. Its realisation depends entirely upon the will of the Congress, which will elect the members of the centre. Consequently, there is nothing to discuss or to talk about on this point.

But, to go further, what will be the relation of the Central Organ to the Central Committee? The Central Organ, we are told, is to be a commission appointed by the CC One (or two) members of the Editorial Board of the Central Organ may (say these comrades) sit on the CC as part of it, a minor part. There arises the question in what way this foreign section of the CC will participate in its work. The idea that real participation in the work of the CC can be achieved “by correspondence” is obviously utopian and could not be suggested seriously. It is only with great difficulty, at the cost of tremendous effort, trouble, quarrelling, and vexation, that those working abroad can obtain the scantiest information post factum, so that one can only speak of “taking part in deciding things” from abroad through sheer hypocrisy or in order to “sound important”.

And so, the choice must be made: either the CC members (or, correspondingly, member) residing abroad secure provision in the Party Rules (other “agreements” being invalid) for the entire CC to meet abroad periodically, in which case this supreme centre will, in actual fact, be identical with the present Party Council, i.e., it will become a body that meets three, four, or five times a year and gives only general direction to the work; or else for the CC to meet in Russia and settle all business there, without its component from abroad. In this case the latter is but nominally listed, avowedly fictitiously, as a member of the CC Actually, he can have no say in deciding general questions. Under such circumstances it is open to doubt whether any people will be found to fill this “post” (or shall we say sinecure?) of “members from abroad” on the CC!

Another (and the last possible) assumption: the CC to consist entirely of comrades who work in Russia and to constitute a single centre. Only such a central body will really be a single Russian centre. For work abroad it establishes an agency. In actual practice, however, this agency will exist as an independent centre. To take the case of the editors of the Central Organ. Clearly we shall need a full Board here, that will only by a long drawn-out process take shape, form a team, and pull together. (It took the people in Russia eighteen months of hard effort to build up a new Central Organ after the Second Congress, and that notwithstanding the in tense concern shown throughout Russia for solving the grave general Party crisis.) In practice this Board will issue the weekly organ independently. At best the CC in Russia will show its interest in the way the publication is managed by calling a “conference” once in six months (or once in eighteen months)—in what way will such a “conference” differ from the “Council”?—or by a “letter” from an individual member of the CC In practice this foreign Board will conduct agitation and train functionaries abroad (lectures, meetings) among hundreds of Party members. The CC will be physically unable actually to direct this work, actually to manage this work of the foreign Board. It will be physically unable to participate in this work, except through rare conferences with the persons conducting it. Here again—in what way will these conferences differ from the Council?

To sum up: in actual fact, in practice, a “single” Centre will either be a myth, or it will merely boil down, positively and inevitably, to the present system of what is scornfully called “the Triple Centre”. In actual fact, in practice, differences in geographic and political conditions, as well as differences in the character of the work, inevitably and unavoidably necessitate, and will continue to necessitate (until the fall of the autocracy), two centres in our Party, united only from time to time by “c o n f e r e n c e s”, which actually will always play the role of supreme or highest “Council” of the Party.

It is quite understandable that the reaction against the people abroad should have evoked from those in Russia the general outcry: Down with the people abroad! Down with two centres! This reaction is legitimate and laudable; for it indicates the tremendous growth of the Party’s strength and of Party consciousness since the Second Congress. This reaction is undeniably a step forward by our Party. But we must not be misled by the fascination of words; we must not elevate to a “system” the mood of the moment, the passing “resentment” against the “fellows abroad”. No Party system can be built on anger. Nothing is easier than to lay down the short and simple rule of “one centre”. But such a decision would bring us no nearer to the solution of the intricate problem of finding methods for uniting actually (not merely on paper) the diverse functions of the work in Russia and abroad.