Report to the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP on the St. Petersburg Split and the Institution of the Party Tribunal Ensuing Therefrom
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 419-436.
This was published in pamphlet form in April 1907 in the Proletary press in Vyborg; it bore the instruction on the cover “For Delegates to the Congress of the RSDLP Only”. The first and last parts of the pamphlet were written in April 1907; “Speech for the Defence (or for the Prosecution of the Menshevik Section of the Central Committee) Delivered at the Party Tribunal” was written by Lenin in February and read at the first session of the tribunal at the end of March 1907.
As you will have learned from bourgeois newspapers (Tovarishch, et al.), the Central Committee of our Party has instituted a Party tribunal to examine my activities, specifically, my pamphlet The St. Petersburg Elections and the Hypocrisy of the Thirty-One Mensheviks, which appeared at the time of the split in the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation during the elections to the Second Duma.
The tribunal has been constituted of three members representing me, three from the thirty-one Mensheviks, and three members of a Presidium nominated by the central committees of the Latvian and Polish Social-Democratic parties and the Bund. I have submitted to that tribunal a counter-charge of impermissible conduct against the thirty-one Mensheviks and against Comrade Dan (a member of the editorial board of the Central Organ and, through the Central Organ, a member of the Central Committee). The counter-indictment was supported on the one hand by a meeting of 234 St. Petersburg Bolshevik members of the Party (their resolution, together with their report giving a résumé of the whole matter, was published in Proletary, No. 13), and on the other hand by the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic Conference (minus the seceding Mensheviks). The resolution of this conference was published in Proletary, No. 14.
In its capacity of an institution set up by the Central Committee, the tribunal did not consider itself justified in indicting the thirty-one Mensheviks and Comrade Dan, and turned to the same Central Committee for a definition of its competency on the question of the counter-indictment. At a special session the Central Committee again examined this question, and confirmed that the present tribunal had been instituted exclusively for the examination of Lenin’s case and that the arraignment of other persons before the tribunal depended entirely on the Central Committee, which, of course, deemed it its duty to arraign before the tribunal all persons against whom the present tribunal would formulate a charge of impermissible conduct. The composition of the new tribunal was again left entirely to the discretion of that same Central Committee.
Thus we get a tangle of glaring incongruities and contradictions. The Menshevik Central Committee is playing the role of an institution that brings up for trial and also determines both the composition of the tribunal and its competency. A counter-indictment has been submitted against the leader of the Menshevik section of the Central Committee. The very same persons, it seems, appoint the tribunal, are themselves prosecutors and also decide the question of what to do with a counter-indictment against themselves!
Obviously such arrangements are not capable of inspiring respect for the Party. Only the Party Congress can unravel this tangle of incongruities. I therefore appeal to the Congress with a request: grant the tribunal full judicial powers directly from the Congress; make the tribunal in every way independent of the Central Committee, which (its Menshevik section) is clearly interested in the case; grant the tribunal the right to examine the case in all its aspects, without any restrictions and to indict any Party members and any Party institutions, not excluding the Menshevik section of the Central Committee, etc.
For an explanation of the case to members of the RSDLP Congress, I append (1) the full text of my speech for the defence (or for the prosecution of the Menshevik section of the Central Committee) that I delivered at the first session of the tribunal. (The tribunal held only two sessions and examined only three of several dozen witnesses. The tribunal was interrupted by the Congress.) (2) A brief summary of the real history of the St. Petersburg split.
I. Speech for the Defence (or for the Prosecution of the Menshevik Section of the Central Committee) Delivered at the Party Tribunal[edit source]
Comrade judges, the Central Committee has charged me with having made a statement (in the press) impermissible in a Party member. That is what is said in the decision of the Central Committee instituting the Party tribunal. I shall begin directly with the substance of the matter: I shall read out in full the “declaration” which the Central Committee “submits for consideration by the tribunal”.
“The Central Committee declares that the pamphlet, The St. Petersburg Elections and the Hypocrisy of the Thirty-One Mensheviks, signed by Comrade Lenin, directly charges the thirty-one members of the St. Petersburg organisation with having entered into negotiations with the Cadet Party ’for the purpose of selling workers’ votes to the Cadets’ and the Mensheviks with having ’bargained with the Cadets to get their man into the Duma, in spite of the workers, with the aid of the Cadets’.
“The Central Committee declares that the appearance of such an accusation in the press, particularly on the eve of the elections, was certain to cause confusion in the ranks of the proletariat, cast suspicion upon the political integrity of Party members, and will be utilised by the enemies of the proletariat in their struggle against Social-Democracy.
“Being of the opinion that such a statement is impermissible in a Party member, the Central Committee submits Lenin’s conduct to consideration by a Party tribunal.”
Such is the full text of the indictment. First of all I will observe that there is an important error of fact, which I shall ask the tribunal to correct on the basis of the text of the pamphlet incriminating me. Specifically: in the pamphlet it is stated plainly and definitely that I accuse not only the thirty-one Mensheviks, but also Comrade Dan, i.e., a member of the Central Committee.
In drawing up its decision the Central Committee must have known that Comrade Dan is a member of the Central Committee (he may even have taken part in the discussions of the question, or in the decision to indict me for accusing him), and that I accuse not only the thirty-one, but Dan as well. It appears, therefore, that the Central Committee deliberately excluded its own member from the number whom I accused. Here, in addition to the error of fact, the indictment contains something worse, something intolerable, and I shall later make a detailed appraisal of this aspect of the case, and shall try to explain precisely this aspect, using all of the material that comes before the tribunal in the course of the trial.
I now pass on to the substance of the charge.
The Central Committee quotes two passages from my pamphlet, and I must analyse each of them as fully as possible. I am aware, of, course, that the question at issue is the whole of the above-mentioned pamphlet, and not merely these passages. But, following the example of the Central Committee, I take these as the main and principal parts.
The first passage is taken from the very beginning of the pamphlet. I shall take the liberty of reading a whole page to show the context of this passage.
“The newspaper Tovarishch has today (January 20) published”—I want to remind you that this took place five days before the formation of the Left bloc in St. Peters burg and sixteen days before the elections to the State Duma in the city of St. Petersburg—“lengthy excerpts from the manifesto of the thirty-one Mensheviks who seceded from the socialist organisation on the eve of the St. Petersburg elections.”
I emphasise that the very first sentence in the pamphlet brings to the fore the fundamental fact of the split in St. Petersburg on the eve of the elections. I lay stress on this circumstance, because I shall have to refer to its importance many times later on.
I continue the quotation:
“First of all, let us briefly recall the actual history of what the Menshevik seceders from the Social-Democrats have done since they walked out of the Conference....” A few days before the’ pamphlet we are now discussing appeared, I published another pamphlet entitled Social-Democracy and the St. Petersburg Elections and also a pamphlet When You Hear the Judgement of a Fool (From the Notes of a Social-Democrat Publicist). Almost the whole issue of the latter pamphlet was confiscated by the police. Only a few copies were saved, and I am referring to it so that the tribunal may study the picture of the events of the time in their entirety, and not in fragments.
“(1) After breaking away from the Social-Democrat workers, they entered into a bloc with the petty bourgeoisie (the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Trudoviks and the Popular Socialists) in order jointly to bargain with the Cadets for seats. The written agreement under which the seceding Social-Democrats joined the petty-bourgeois bloc was concealed from the workers and from the public.
“However, we still had hopes that this agreement would eventually be published, and the secret revealed.”
I draw the attention of the tribunal to the fact that in the pamphlet in which I accuse Dan and the thirty-one Mensheviks, I emphasise from the very beginning that the written agreement was concealed from the workers.
Let us proceed:
“(2) As a constituent part of the petty-bourgeois bloc (incorrectly styled the ’Left bloc’ by the newspapers), the breakaway Mensheviks bargained with the Cadets for three places out of the six for this bloc. The Cadets offered two seats. They could not come to terms. The meeting between the petty -bourgeois ’conference’ (this expression is not ours—we borrow it from the newspapers) and the Cadets was held on January 18. Both Rech and Tovarishch reported it. Rech announces today that no agreement was reached (although we must, of course, be prepared to hear that negotiations are still being conducted behind the scenes).
“So far the Mensheviks have made no announcement in the press concerning their ’operation’ for the sale of workers’ votes to the Cadets.”
That is the position regarding the first passage. I wrote these words against the Mensheviks on the very day that I for the first time learned from the newspapers that the attempt of the Mensheviks and the Narodniks to form a bloc with the Cadets against the majority of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation had failed; but I at once made the reservation that I could not regard the agreement as having been finally abandoned and that it was necessary to be prepared for the worst—the continuation of the negotiations “behind the scenes”. Why did I consider then (and I still think that the view I then held was correct) that it was necessary to be prepared for the worst? Because it was a wrong step to conceal from the public a written agreement between the Mensheviks and the petty-bourgeois bloc, a step unworthy of a socialist and inevitably giving rise to the worst suspicions.
What was meant by the “sale” of workers’ votes to the Cadets? Some jokers told me that they understood me to have said sale for money. This jest is not devoid of wit. But a literate person who read in earnest the whole of the pamphlet, and not disjointed passages from it, would, of course, see at once from the context, from all the preceding and subsequent passages, that what is referred to is a sale not for money, but for seats in the Duma. The “bargaining” and “sale” imply, of course, a barter of political and not economic equivalents, of seats for votes, not of money for votes.
The question arises: was it worth while bothering with such a clear and obvious circumstance?
I am profoundly convinced that it was, for this point brings us squarely to the elucidation of the question presented by the Central Committee—of statements that are permissible and impermissible in the press.
If the passage in the pamphlet we are examining had read: the thirty-one were selling workers’ votes to the Cadets for money—that would have been imputing shameful and criminal acts to an opponent. Anyone making such an imputation would deserve to be tried, and certainly not for “carrying confusion into the ranks of the proletariat”, but for libel. That is perfectly clear.
On the other hand, if the passage in question had stated: the thirty-one spoke in favour of adding workers’ votes to Cadet votes on the condition that the Social-Democrats were assured seats in the Duma that would be an example of loyal and properly conducted polemics, permissible in Party members.
What is the difference between this last-quoted wording and the one I chose? The difference is in the tone, that tone which makes the whole music. Exactly. The wording is calculated to evoke in the reader hatred, aversion and contempt for people who commit such deeds. Such wording is calculated not to convince, but to break up the. ranks of the opponent, not to correct the mistake of the opponent, but to destroy him, to wipe his organisation off the face of the earth. This wording is indeed of such a nature as to evoke the worst thoughts, the worst suspicions about the opponent and indeed, as contrasted with the wording that convinces and corrects, it “carries confusion into the ranks of the proletariat”.
I may be asked: well, do you admit that such wording is impermissible? I shall answer, Yes, certainly, but only with the following little proviso—impermissible in members of a united party. This proviso represents the crux of the matter. The accusation which the Central Committee advances against me is wrong. I shall say more, it is dishonest, precisely because the Central Committee remains silent about the fact that at the time the pamphlet was written a united party did not exist in the organisation from which it emanated (not formally, but in essence), and whose aims it served. It is dishonest to advance a charge of publishing statements in the press “impermissible in a Party member” at a time when a split has taken place in the Party.
A split means a rupture of all organisational ties between the two party groups concerned; it shifts a conflict of ideas from within the bounds of a single organisation to some where outside it, from correcting and convincing comrades to destroying their organisation, to inciting the masses of the workers (and the masses of the people generally) to oppose the breakaway organisation.
What is impermissible in members of a united party is permissible and obligatory for sections of a party that has been split. It is wrong to write about Party comrades in a language that systematically spreads among the working masses hatred, aversion, contempt, etc., for those who hold other opinions. But one may and must write in that strain about an organisation that has seceded.
Why must one? Because when a split has taken place it is one’s duty to wrest the masses from the leadership of the seceding section. I am told—you carried confusion into the ranks of the proletariat. My answer is—I purposely and deliberately carried confusion into the ranks of that section of the St. Petersburg proletariat which followed the Mensheviks who seceded on the eve of the elections, and I shall always act in that way whenever a split occurs.
By my sharp and discourteous attacks on the Mensheviks on the eve of the St. Petersburg elections, I actually succeeded in causing that section of the proletariat which trusts and follows the Mensheviks to waver. That was my aim. That was my duty as a member of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation which was conducting a campaign for a Left bloc; because, after the split, it was necessary, in order to conduct that campaign, to rout the ranks of the Mensheviks who were leading the proletariat in the footsteps of the Cadets; it was necessary to carry confusion into their ranks; it was necessary to arouse among the masses hatred, aversion and contempt for these people who had ceased to be members of a united party, had become political enemies, and were trying to put a spoke in the wheel of our Social-Democratic organisation in its election campaign. Against such political enemies I then conducted—and in the event of a repetition or development of a split shall always conduct—a struggle of extermination.
If, after the split which the Mensheviks engineered in St. Petersburg, we had not carried confusion into the ranks of that section of the proletariat which followed the lead of the Mensheviks, we should not have been able to carry on our Left bloc election campaign. My only regret is that, being away from St. Petersburg, I did not sufficiently contribute to this cause of wresting the masses from the influence of the breakaway Mensheviks; for given a more zealous and rapid execution of this task, the Left bloc would have gained a victory in St. Petersburg. The statistics of the election results prove this.
The basic logical (and, of course, not only logical) error in the indictment is that the question of the split is craftily evaded, the fact of the split is hushed up, and attempts are made to apply demands, legitimate from the standpoint of party unity, to conditions in which there is no unity, no united party, and what is more—I shall prove this later on— when absence of unity and of a united party lies at the door of the accusing Central Committee itself, which organised and covered up the split.
If anyone were to use what is permissible in an internal Party struggle as a measure of struggle based on a split, a struggle directed against the Party from without or (in case of a local split) against the given Party organisation, he would have to be regarded either as being childishly naive or a hypocrite. From the organisational point of view, a split signifies a rupture of all organisational ties, i.e., the transition from a struggle to convince comrades within the organisation, to a struggle to destroy the hostile organisation, destroy its influence over th& masses of the proletariat. From the psychological standpoint it is perfectly obvious that the severance of all organisational ties between comrades already signifies an extreme degree of mutual bitterness and hostility, which has grown into hatred.
Moreover, in the St. Petersburg split there were two special circumstances which intensified the sharpness and the ruthlessness of the struggle tenfold.
The first circumstance was the role of the Party’s Central Committee. According to Party Rules, its duty is to unite, and any local split should lead, not to a struggle on the basis of that split, but to a complaint being lodged with the Central Committee, or, more broadly speaking, to an appeal to the Central Committee for help in getting unity restored. In reality, on the eve of the elections in St. Petersburg, the Central Committee acted as the initiator of and participant in the split. It is precisely this circumstance, worked out in detail and supported by documentary evidence in the preamble to the decision of the Conference to present a counter-indictment, that compels us to regard the St. Petersburg split as a dishonest split. I shall refer to this separately later on, and I shall insist that the tribunal take up the questions which follow from the juridical nature of this indictment presented by the accused against the accuser.
The second circumstance is the election campaign in St. Petersburg at the time of the split. If a split occurs at a time when there is no immediate, open, mass political action, or when the Party generally is not engaged in some political action, it may not always be necessary to wage an immediate and merciless war of extermination. But if such mass action is in progress—elections, for instance—and if it is necessary at all costs immediately to intervene in the elections and conduct them in one way or another, a split must immediately and unfailingly call forth a war of extermination, a war to determine who is to conduct the elections—the local Social-Democratic organisation or the group that has seceded from it. Given such a split, it is impossible even for a moment to postpone the task of wresting the masses from the influence of the secessionists, of smashing their organisation, and of politically nullifying them. It is only thanks to the ruthless force of the Bolshevik onslaught against the Mensheviks after the latter had seceded on January 6, that we achieved an election campaign in the capital that was relatively unit ed, conducted more or less on Party lines, and bore at least some semblance to a Social-Democratic campaign.
They say—fight, but not with a poisoned weapon. This is a very fine and striking expression, to be sure. But it is either a fine platitude or else it expresses in a vague and nebulous fashion the very same idea of a struggle, one that sows in the masses hatred, aversion and contempt for the opponents—of a struggle that is impermissible in a united party, but inevitable and necessary when a split has occurred, because of the very nature of the split, i.e., the idea I set forth in the beginning of my speech. However much you twist this sentence or metaphor, you will not be able to squeeze a grain of real sense out of it besides this very difference between the loyal and properly conducted method of fighting by means of argument within the organisation, and the method of fighting by means of a split, i.e., by destroying the enemy organisation, by rousing among the masses hatred, aversion and contempt for this organisation. It is the dishonest splits that are poisoned weapons and not the war of extermination which results from a split that has already taken place.
Are there any limits to a permissible struggle stemming from a split? No Party standards set limits to such a struggle, nor can there be such limits, for a split implies that the Party has ceased to exist. It is ridiculous even to think it possible to fight by Party methods, by means of Party decisions, etc., against the methods of struggle that arise out of a split in the Party. The limits of a struggle stemming from a split are not Party limits, but general political limits, or rather general civil limits, the limits set by criminal law and nothing else. If you have broken away from me, you cannot demand more of me than you demand of the Cadet, the Socialist-Revolutionary, or any man in the street, etc.
I shall further illustrate my idea with a graphic example. The next issue of Proletary will contain a report on the elections in the city of Kovno, sent by a local correspondent. The correspondent is very much dissatisfied with the bloc concluded by the Bund with the Dostizhentsi, against the Lithuanian Social-Democrats, and sharply criticises the Bund. What sort of criticism is permissible for members of a united party? The dissatisfaction should have been expressed somewhat as follows: the Bundists acted incorrectly by forming a bloc with the Jewish bourgeoisie against the socialists of another nation; this behaviour reveals the influence of petty-bourgeois nationalist ideas, etc. As long as we belong to the same party as the Bund, a pamphlet directed against them and distributed in large quantities on the eve of an election and describing the Bundists as traitors to the proletariat would be absolutely impermissible. But what if the case of 1903 were repeated—generally speaking, history does not repeat itself, and I am only taking a hypothetical case—and the Bund secedes from the Party. Could anyone then seriously raise the question of the impermissibility of pamphlets calculated to instil in the Bundist working masses hatred, aversion and contempt for their leaders, and describing these leaders as bourgeois in disguise, as those who had sold themselves to the Jewish bourgeoisie and were trying to get their men into the Duma with the latter’s assistance, etc.? Anyone who made such a complaint would be ridiculed to his face—do not cause splits, do not use I he “poisoned weapon” of a split; but if you do, then do not complain if he who raises the poisoned sword perishes by the poisoned sword!
After all that has been said above, there is no need to dwell at length on the second passage quoted. It reads: “The Mensheviks bargained with the Cadets to get their man into the Duma, in spite of the workers, with the aid of the Cadets—such is the simple explanation of all these peregrinations from the Social-Democrats to the petty-bourgeois bloc and from the petty-bourgeois bloc to the Cadets.” If you analyse this passage formally, and superficially, from the standpoint of a united party, you will certainly say—in referring to Party members you should have said “conducting negotiations” and not “bargaining”, “to secure the election of” instead of “get”, a “Social-Democrat deputy” instead of “their man”, and so on. But would such an “analysis” of the quotation, or such an “opinion” of the method of expression, evoke anything but a smile? Is it not clear that the use of the most offensive and contemptuous mode of expression, which puts everything in the worst light, not in the best, is a method of fighting that stems from a split, of fighting for the extermination of the organisation which disrupts the political campaign of the local Social-Democratic proletariat? To complain about the offensive, insulting, and insidious character of the expressions used would be the same as if a strike-breaker were to complain of the bitterness displayed towards him by strikers. To discuss complaints or accusations on this plane would be the same as if we were to condemn the word “strike-breaker” as being impermissible, without going into the essence of the question of whether the behaviour of the person concerned was actually that of a strike-breaker or not.
There are different kinds of splits. I have repeatedly used the expression a “dishonest” split. I shall now dwell on this aspect of the case. The Central Committee states in its indictment that I cast suspicion on the political integrity of Party members. This is put too mildly and is wrongly applied to the above quotations. I not only “cast suspicion on the political integrity” of the thirty-one and Dan; by the whole content of my election pamphlets I accuse them of causing a politically dishonest split, or one that is dishonest from a Party standpoint. And I insist on this accusation. All attempts to shift the weight of this accusation from the general, basic and fundamental question of the organisers of the split, to petty, particular and subsidiary questions will be of no avail.
Every split is a great crime against the Party, for it destroys the Party, and breaks Party ties. But there are different kinds of splits. The expression “dishonest split” which I have used on several occasions, cannot be applied to every split. I shall quote an example to illustrate this.
Let us assume that two trends have long been contending in the Party, one of which, let us say, is in favour of supporting the policy of the Cadets, and the other is opposed to this. A big political event occurs which accentuates the Cadet tendencies and brings nearer a deal between them and reaction. Those in favour of supporting the Cadets break with those who are opposed to such support. Such a split, like any other split, will inevitably give rise to a very acute and bitter struggle, which will rouse hatred, etc.; but we cannot regard such a split as being dishonest, for there is nothing else behind such a split than the sharpening of differences on matters of principle.
Now imagine another kind of split. Let us assume that the two trends in the Party have agreed to apply varying tactics in various localities. If this general agreement is broken in one of the localities, broken in a secret, underhand fashion, by behaving treacherously towards comrades—then everyone will certainly agree that such a split is a dishonest split.
In St. Petersburg, the Mensheviks engineered precisely such a split on the eve of the elections. At the All-Russian Conference both trends solemnly promised, in the first place, to submit to the local tactics of the local organisations during the elections. The St. Petersburg Mensheviks were the. only ones in the whole of Russia who broke that promise. That is dishonest. It is treachery to the Party.
Secondly, instead of uniting the Party, the Central Committee pursued a factional policy to such a degree that it positively assisted the Menshevik split, and Dan, a member of the Central Committee, took a most active part in this. That is dishonest. It is tantamount to using against the Party the power delegated by the Party. It is tantamount to driving a poisoned knife stealthily into the back of the Party, while professing to be a defender of Party unity.
These are the two main facts which have compelled me to describe the thirty-one and Dan as being politically dishonest. The whole of my pamphlet is imbued with the spirit of contempt for such people.
And I have upheld my accusation before this tribunal, I have directed all my efforts to making the tribunal proceedings reveal to the judges all the attendant circumstances of the St. Petersburg split, enabling them to decide with complete conviction the question of whether this split was an honest split or not, whether “poisoned weapons” were used by those who engineered the split or by those who waged a ruthless war of extermination against the organisers of the split.
If this question is cleared up in full, to its very depth and core, if it is cleared up by the delegates of the national Social-Democratic parties, who for the first time have become really affiliated with the RSDLP, it may have enormous effect in establishing real Party relations in our Party in stead of a thinly disguised split.
The subject of the present trial is not of a formal or strictly juridical nature. Surely the crux of the matter is not whether, in a united party, one should write, bargain or con duct negotiations, elect or place deputies, sell votes for seats or give votes on condition of obtaining seats, etc.; such a conception of the question can, of course, only call forth a smile.
The crux of the matter is whether we attach any real value to the unity of our Party, or whether we are to become reconciled to splits, write about them, and cover up these ulcers with formal subterfuges. Comrade judges, your judgement will determine, and determine, perhaps, to no small degree, whether the St. Petersburg split will be the last one, the really final echo of a bygone general Party split, or ... whether it will be the beginning of a new split and, consequently, of a new, general struggle with poisoned weapons.
Your judgement will determine whether the shaken unity of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party will be weakened or strengthened.
II. A Brief Summary of the Real History of the St. Petersburg Split[edit source]
At the November (1906) conference of the RSDLP it was unanimously decided that everybody would submit to the decisions of local Social-Democratic organisations in election matters.
At that same conference Lenin stated: “Let there be no contravention of the St. Petersburg Committee decision by the Vyborg District either” (report of the Menshevik section of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation), thereby giving warning, as it were, of the mutuality of the commitment.
A special article in Proletary, No. 8 (November 1906), called on Bolsheviks sharply to criticise blocs with the Constitutional-Democrats, but to remain subordinated to the local organisations.
Also in November 1906, Comrade Dan, a member of the Central Committee, participated “entirely in a personal capacity” (as he stated at the tribunal) in a meeting arranged by Engineer Fedorovich, at which were present Milyukov and Nabokov (leaders of the Cadet Central and St. Peters burg Committees), one leader of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and Peshekhonov (leader of the Popular Socialists). They spoke about the elections, but (according to Comrade Dan) not those in St. Petersburg. Comrade Dan did not find it necessary to report this meeting either to the Central Committee or to the St. Petersburg Committee.
In December 1906, Comrade Dan appeared at an informative meeting on the election question, attended by representatives of the St. Petersburg Committee of the RSDLP, as well as of the Constitutional-Democrats, Popular Socialists and Socialist-Revolutionaries. Dan stated that he represented the Central Committee, but was expressing his “own personal views” on the desirability of agreements, according to district, in St. Petersburg.
At a meeting of the Central Committee on January 4, 1907, a decision was taken to demand, in the form of an ultimatum, that the conference of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation divide into an urban and a gubernia conference. The Bolshevik members of the Central Commit tee (Maximov, Zimin, and Stroyev) submitted a protest against this step, which actually amounted to the Central Committee splitting the St. Petersburg organisation.
The conference of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation, which decided the question of the elections, was held on January 6, 1907. There were 39 Bolsheviks and 31 Mensheviks present. The Mensheviks walked out of the conference for two formal reasons—(1) because they considered the mandates incorrectly distributed and (2) because the conference refused to split into urban and gubernia conferences as demanded by the Central Committee.
To assess the value of these reasons for the split, I cite three facts—(1) at the January 6 conference 42 mandates for the Bolsheviks and 28 for the Mensheviks were confirmed. In the pamphlet issued by the Mensheviks they stated that 35 mandates for the Bolsheviks and 32 for t.he Mensheviks should have been recognised, that is, they admitted the preponderance of Bolsheviks; (2) because of the split the next conference of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisa tion was elected under the supervision of a control commission especially appofnted by the Central Committee. The elections to the March 25 conference produced 92 Bolsheviks and 41 Mensheviks. The new elections confirmed a still greater preponderance of Bolsheviks; (3) the Central Com mittee did not demand the division of the conference in any other city in Russia, be it Wilno, Odessa, or Baku. This demand in the form of an ultimatum was unlawful and directed, for patently factional reasons, only against St. Petersburg.
After walking out of the conference, the Mensheviks elected their own executive body and began issuing their own pamphlets (with the participation of Central Committee Menshevik members, Comrade Dan among them) and con ducted an independent election campaign. Without the Bolsheviks they entered into agreements with the Narodnik parties (Popular Socialists, Socialist-Revolutionaries and Trudoviks) for a joint agreement with the Constitutional-Democrats.
The bourgeois press in St. Petersburg (Rech, Strana, Tovarishch and others) gave hearty praise to the Mensheviks for the split, styled them “a moderate socialist party”, called for a bold struggle against the Bolsheviks, were jubilant over the isolation of these “Blanquists”, etc. The Bolsheviks who, on January 6, had proposed to the Narod niks a bloc against the Constitutional-Democrats, took no part in any of the negotiations.
On January 14, a Rech editorial promised the Mensheviks a seat from the worker curia in the event of the bloc being successful against the Bolsheviks.
At a meeting held on January 17, the Mensheviks decided to place all seats obtained by them at the disposal of the worker curia. Tovarisheh wrote about this on January 19.
On January 15, Milyukov was received in audience by Stolypin, after which the Constitutional-Democrats shifted clearly to the Right.
On January 18, there was a conference of Mensheviks, Narodniks and Cadets. The Cadets offered two seats, but three were demanded of them. A break with the Cadets.
On January 20, Tovarisheh published extracts from a Menshevik pamphlet directed against the Bolsheviks and undermining their election campaign. That same day I wrote the pamphlet The St. Petersburg Elections and the Hypocrisy of the Thirty-One Mensheviks, which appeared some three days later.
On January 25, a Left bloc was set up in St. Petersburg. On January 28, there was a meeting of delegates elected (January 7 and 14) by the factories for the worker curia of the city of St. Petersburg. Between 200 and 250 out of the 271 were present. The majority, against ten or twelve, adopted a resolution in favour of the Left bloc. The resolution made a special appeal to the Mensheviks “not to give support to the Cadets even in covert form”.
The Mensheviks, who on January 17 had promised to givc “their” places to the worker curia, not only gave no heed to the voice of a meeting of all delegates, but straightaway called it “a Socialist-Revolutionary-Bolshevik witches’ sabbath”.
On January 30 a meeting of Social-Democratic delegates was held. The candidates of the St. Petersburg Committee were nominated as electors.
On January 29 the Left bloc called on non-party progres sive voters in the Kolomna Ward to tear up their written agreement with the Mensheviks, because in that agreement (as well as in the printed Menshevik pamphlet) there was the proviso: “Menshevik electors do not consider themselves bound by the conditions of the Narodnik-Bolshevik bloc insofar as the distribution of deputies’ seats is concerned” (Point II, Subsection 3). This proviso is an obvious attempt to leave open for themselves an opportunity to vote with the Cadets against the Left bloc at the second stage of the elections.
On February 7, the elections were held in St. Petersburg. The Black-Hundred danger was completely disproved. The Cadets obtained 28,798 votes, the Left bloc—16,703, the Octobrists—16,613 and the monarchists—5,270. The Left bloc had only to capture 1,673 votes from the Cadets in five wards to have been victorious throughout St. Peters burg. In the Kolomna Ward the Left bloc obtained only 199 votes less than the Cadets.
Such is a brief list of the facts. It is clear from them that, in point of fact, the election campaign in St. Peters burg was disrupted by the Mensheviks. In point of fact, the conspiracy to effect a split was begun as early as November, and was begun by member of the Central Committee Dan. In point of fact, it was precisely Dan, plus the Menshevik members of the Central Committee, who in St. Petersburg effected the split contrary to the wishes of the majority of the local organisation....
- See pp. 33-44 of this volume.—Ed.
- The conference referred to was a meeting of 234 Bolsheviks of the St. Petersburg organisation of the RSDLP working in various districts of that city; it passed the following resolution on the conduct of the Mensheviks in St. Petersburg at the time of the campaign for the elections to the Second State Duma and on the Party tribunal set up on the initiative of the Menshevik Central Committee:
“1. The Menshevik comrades were wholly to blame for the split in the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation at the time of the election campaign.
“2. The negotiations between the Menshevik group and the Cadets before the split and after were, in effect, impermissible bargaining for seats in the Duma, bargaining that took place against the wishes of the Social-Democratic proletariat in St. Petersburg.
“3. Particularly impermissible were the activities of Comrade Dan, who played a most active part throughout the split and in the negotiations with the Cadets, for the conduct of which ho was not authorised by any Party organisation.
“4. The conduct of the group of Mensheviks after their rupture with the Cadets, and particularly after the conclusion of the agreement between the Left parties in St. Petersburg—the demonstrative protests against that agreement and the appeal to electors in some St. Petersburg districts not to support it, the obstruction in compiling the Left election lists, etc —this conduct as a whole is direct subversion of the proletarian and common Party cause to the advantage of the Cadets.
“The meeting therefore expresses the wish that the Bolshevik section of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation that remained after the Mensheviks had quit the Conference should participate in the Party tribunal organised on the initiative of the Central Committee and submit a counter-indictment of politically impermissible conduct against the group of Mensheviks and against Comrade Dan.
“The meeting proposes to all Party workers, to counteract the campaign launched by the Central Committee against N. Lenin by informing broad sections of the St. Petersburg proletariat of the course taken by the Social-Democratic election campaign and the role played by the Menshevik group” (Proletary, No. 13, February 11, 1907).
The Conference of the St. Petersburg (City and Regional) Organisation, held in February 1907, confirmed the resolution passed by the meeting of 234 Bolsheviks of St. Petersburg, and added a fifth point to it: “The Conference supports the substance of the accusation made in N. Lenin’s pamphlet (The St. Petersburg Elections and the Hypocrisy of the Thirty-One Mensheviks) and, therefore, considers that it has the right to attend the tribunal as a contending p arty. In putting forward its counter-indictment against Comrade Dan and the thirty-one Mensheviks, the Conference instructs its representatives at the tribunal to hand it to the judges examining Lenin’s case” (Proletary, No. 14, March 4, 1907).
Similar resolutions were passed at meetings of district committees and by the meeting of the Okruzhnoi District of St. Petersburg.
- See p. 33 of this volume.—Ed.
- See present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 431-55 and pp. 456-74.—Ed.
- Dostizhentsi (from dostizheniye—attainment)—members of the League for the Attainment of Full Rights for the Jewish People in Russia. The League was organised in 1905 at a meeting of Jewish “public” men in Wilno. It was made up of Cadet and Zionist elements; the leader of the League was M. M. Vinaver. The “dostizhentsi” put forward demands for bourgeois civil liberties, the annulment of laws imposing restrictions on Jews, and the granting of the same rights to Jews as to the remainder of the population. The League played scarcely any political role; its activities, even in the period of greatest revolutionary upsurge, were confined to the organisation of petitions and protests. On all questions the League adopted the Cadet position. By the end of 1907 it had ceased to exist.
- See p. 39 of this volume.—Ed.
- Maximov-Malinovsky—better known by his pseudonym of A. A. Bogdanov.
Zimin—L. B. Krasin.
Stroyev—pseudonym of V. A. Desnitsky.