Record of Speeches at the Geneva Bolshevik Club

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The Geneva Party Majority Club was formed at a conference of RSDLP promotion groups abroad on January 13, 1905, and had four sections for elaborating questions of Party life: 1) organisation, 2) propaganda, 3) agitation, and 4) technical matters.

A sitting of the organisation section on March 5, 1905, discussed a report by A. M. Essen (Stepanov) on how to organise work mainly among the non-proletarian sections of the population (students, soldiers and peasants). Lenin spoke thrice: first, after the report, then after a speech by Robert (unidentified), and again in connection with a speech by Olga (S. N. Ravich), who proposed that Lenin should be invited to take part in drawing up a “questionnaire in view of his wide experience of practical work in Russia.

When Lenin says: “I did draw up a questionnaire, but it was much too general”, he means his “Questionnaire” (see present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 200–01). p. 139


I[edit source]

L e n i n. Proposes that all the results of the section’s work should be made public—above all that Stepanov should submit his report in writing, and also the minutes. A general summary of these minutes should be handed over to the Congress; they could provide many practical indications during the work of the Congress. Stepanov’s report is regrettably much too abstract in character. If exact conclusions in the form of resolutions are to be made from the reports, they must be more concrete. With that end in view I propose a poll among comrades in Russia and abroad, specifying that they should give precise answers to the questions stated (yes, no, so many). A picture of their work, e.g., the town in which one worked, the questions one decided at meetings, etc. While the summarised conclusions could yield something, I repeat that no precise conclusions could be drawn from them. That is why I propose that the circle should set about working out a questionnaire to be circulated among comrades in Russia and abroad, for concise replies to all questions. If we have at our disposal raw material of this kind (if 100–200 comrades reply), the Congress could use it for precise conclusions.

I reiterate my proposals: first, a summary of all the minutes and also the minutes themselves should be submitted to the Congress; second, a start should be made on drawing up a questionnaire. This should be done right away, without any delay, and I propose that all work in the section should be dropped in favour of putting the minutes in order and writing a report on them for the Congress.

II[edit source]

L e n i n. Now that the announcement of the convocation of the Third Congress is out, the work of the sections has taken on a different character. The sections have now been working for two months, but very little has been done, all things considered: the minutes are not all there, and there are no reports; we should make haste with this, so that all these efforts should be of practical importance and not go to waste, i.e., all this should be placed before the Congress. In order to submit the minutes as soon as possible, I propose that the whole circle should set about helping the secretaries. I repeat that unless the circle completes this work, all its efforts threaten to remain within the circle itself, whereas they could help to work out organisational plans. Furthermore, I propose that we should start right away on working out a questionnaire—we must make haste with all this, time does not wait. The Congress may take place very soon. The best thing is to entrust the working out of a questionnaire to a special committee.

III[edit source]

L e n i n. I have no objections to Comrade Olga’s proposal. As for my experience, I do not believe I have any, in view of the rapid change of events and conditions of work. I did draw up a questionnaire, but it was much too general. I propose that experienced comrades should be elected to a committee for drawing up the questionnaire, and that this business should be accelerated to the utmost.