Representation of the RSDLP in the International Socialist Bureau

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“The Southern Constituent Conference” of the Mensheviks has passed the following resolution on this question:

"After acquainting itself with documents which show that Comrade Lenin, without taking any steps towards reaching an agreement with the ’Minority’ on the question of RSDLP representation in the International Bureau, has made this question an issue there between the two sections of the Party, and has laid stress on minor points of sectional differences, the Conference of Southern Organisations expresses its profound regret on this score. At the same time it requests Comrade Plekhanov to continue representing our section of the Party in the International Bureau and urges all ’Majority’ organisations immediately to give their opinion on this question, and for their part to authorise Comrade Plekhanov to act as such representative in the interests of the unity which we are striving to attain, and to preserve with regard to all other socialist parties in all other countries the prestige of the RSDLP, which is equally dear to all of us.”

This resolution compels the undersigned to state the actual facts of the case: 1) The Mensheviks cannot but know that all agreements are contingent on the Central Committee located in Russia. By deliberately referring to “Comrade Lenin” alone, they are telling an untruth. 2) Immediately after the Third Congress, two members of the Central Commit tee in Russia applied to Plekhanov in person, expressing the wish that he act both as representative of the RSDLP in the International Bureau and as editor of a theoretical organ. Plekhanov refused. The phrase “without ... any steps” is based on a departure from the truth. 3) When, after this refusal, Plekhanov resigned from the Iskra Editorial Board he declared in print (May 29), without writing to the Central Committee of the RSDLP, that he would consent to represent only both sections of the RSDLP, and likewise through the press asked those who recognise the Third Congress whether they agreed to this. 4) Proletary’s Editorial Board immediately published Plekhanov’s statement (in No. 5 of June 26 [13 1), adding that this question had been referred to the Central Committee for decision. 5) Pending the Central Committee’s decision on this question, I got in touch with the International Bureau, on behalf of the Central Committee, in order to inform the International Bureau about the Third Congress, and to inform the Central Committee about the work of the International Bureau; at the same time I stated that the question of RSDLP representation on the International Bureau had not yet been settled.[1] In other words, the Central Committee maintained contacts with the International Bureau through its representative abroad, pending a decision on the question of a special representative on the Bureau. 6) When I plainly and explicitly informed the International Bureau of the provisional nature of my relations with it, I raised no question whatever of a “struggle” or “differences”, but confined myself exclusively to communicating the decisions of the Third Congress, which I was absolutely bound to do. 7) On June 16 Plekhanov sent a letter to the International Bureau in which he (a) erroneously asserted that he had already been authorised by both groups to act as their representative and (b) set forth the history of the split from the time of the Second Congress, telling this story with many digressions from the truth, wholly in the Menshevik spirit, and calling the convocation of the Third Congress by the Central Committee “an utterly arbitrary act”, dubbing the conciliators in our Party “the Marsh”, and stating that “something like half the organisations ’with full rights’” were represented at the Congress, which was a “combination of ultra-centralists and the Marsh”, etc.

8) I refuted this letter of Plekhanov’s point by point in my letter of July 24, 1905 to the International Bureau.[2] (I learned of Plekhanov’s letter only a month after it had been sent by him, when the International Bureau sent me a copy.) On the question of the “Marsh” I wrote in my letter to the following effect. “It is true that there is a ’Marsh’ in our Party. Its members were continually changing sides during the controversies within our Party. The first of these turncoats was Plekhanov, who went over from the Majority to the Minority in November 19O3, only to leave the Minority on May 29 of this year, when he resigned from Iskra’s Editorial Board. We do not approve of changing sides like that, but think we cannot be blamed if, after much vacillation, irresolute people who were members of the ’Marsh’, are inclined to follow us.” Dealing with the state of affairs after the split, I referred, in the same letter, to the necessity of providing the International Bureau with “a complete translation of all resolutions of the Conference”. “If Iskra refuses to send the translation to the Bureau,” I added, “we are prepared to do so ourselves.”

Let the readers now judge for themselves whether Plekhanov’s behaviour is anything like impartial, and whether the statement of the facts by the new conference bears any relation to the truth. Who is to blame for undermining the prestige of the RSDLP? For taking the initiative in acquainting the International Bureau with the history of the split after the Second Congress? For stressing “sectional differences”??

N. Lenin

P. S. To satisfy the Southern Conference’s desire to learn the opinion of the Majority organisations, we are publishing elsewhere in this issue the resolution of the Kostroma Committee of the RSDLP,[3] forwarded to us in August 1905. The Editors have not received any other resolutions on this question.

  1. A Letter to the International Socialist Bureau”, 1905. See present edition, Vol. 8, p. 456.—Ed.
  2. See pp. 142-45 of this volume.—Ed.
  3. The Kostroma Committee, which adhered to the Bolshevik stand, opposed the appointment of Plekhanov as representative to the International Socialist Bureau.