The Council is Caught Out
|Written||7 April 1905|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 330-334.
A reprint of the decision of the “Party Council” from Iskra, No. 95, dated Geneva, April 7, 1905, has just appeared. This decision is a veritable maze of “deviations from the truth”. Let us consider the major ones.
We are told that the Council has taken care not to let the inner struggle in the Party undermine its unity. This is untrue. All Party members should know from unrefuted and irrefutable documents that over a year ago, in January 1904, Lenin and Vasilyev, members of the Central Committee, proposed in the Council that a call be issued to the entire Party to stop the boycott and the secret appropriation of Party funds by the circles. The Council rejected their proposal. Instead, it participated directly in the secret split of the Party, thus sanctioning the struggle of the secret organisation of the Minority for “co-optation”. This struggle, as is now proved by documentary evidence, had been going on since the Second Congress, viz., from August 1903 to November or December 1904.
Thus, from January 1904 on, the Council was no longer the supreme Party body, but a tool of the secret organisation of the Minority. The existence of this organisation was admitted publicly and in print, not only by the conciliatory CC, but even by Iskra, at the time when the CC sided with the Minority.
As a tool of the Minority’s secret organisation, the Council has exerted all efforts to evade the demand of the committees for an all-Party congress. For eighteen months Social-Democratic activities in Russia were hampered by the disruptive tactics of the Minority abroad. For eighteen months the committees in Russia waged an intense unremitting struggle for a congress against the Geneva Council, which either pigeonholed the committees’ resolutions or returned them with insulting remarks (“blackguards, sheer humbug, fabrication of documents” are the expressions contained in a letter by Martov; see Orlovsky’s pamphlet The Council Against the Party). Every important step in this painful struggle against the machinations of the promoters of the secret split is now documented in Party literature. As far back as October 1904, i.e., six months ago, it was proved— e.g., in Orlovsky’s The Council Against the Party— that the Council, without offering reasons, had refrained from convening the Congress, although called upon to do so by the Party Rules. After that, one Party committee in Russia after another formally voiced no confidence in the Council and in all the central bodies. The Council, how ever, ignored these actions and with no sense of shame flouted the Party. The Council was a tool of the Minority. Now the Council, in its decision of April 7, 1905, has openly declared itself a party to the dispute, but at the same time it has had no scruples about using the title, the rights, and the powers of an all-Party body, and it has refused to return to the Party the mandate it has received from it. The thing has been a flagrant breach of confidence from beginning to end.
When, finally, the Party committees in Russia, seeing that the Council was evading the Congress, themselves called the Congress through the “Bureau” which they had elected at three conferences, even the CC, which had gone over to the Minority, hastened to rectify its mistake. The CC in Russia, which not only did not sympathise with the Committees of the Majority but actually combated them, upon seeing how matters stood in Russia and knowing the Majority to be really preponderant there, had to admit that the Bureau of Committees of the Majority had been absolutely impartial in convening the Congress and had had to rebel against the Council. In its appeal of March 12, 1905, to the general membership of the Party, the CC in Russia, as we noted in the press and as all Party workers in Russia know from the declaration, openly rebelled against the Council; it declared in Point 5 of the declaration that “the March 8 resolution of the Council (Iskra, No. 89) against the Congress is not considered grounds for halting organisation work for the Congress”.
What is the significance of this announcement, which our Council so studiously passes over? The significance is that the CC in Russia, knowing Russian affairs and, evidently, having investigated the assertions of the Council abroad, designates the assertions as untrue and the pretexts for not convening the Congress as pure invention; it considers as a proved fact that the demand for the Congress has the support of the overwhelming majority of the Russian committees that had a chance to study the facts of the case.
Hence, the silence of our Council regarding the declaration made by the CC in Point 5! For it is in effect a direct admission to the whole Party membership that the Council has made false allegations, that it has misrepresented the general opinion of the Party!
In vain, therefore, does the Council attempt to mislead the Party once more by proposing conferences and agreements between the disputants. In Russia such an agreement has already been reached. The centre of the Mensheviks in Russia was the Central Committee; Iskra itself admitted as much in its announcement that the July declaration of the CC had been accepted by the Menshevik organisations. The centre of the Majority in Russia was the Bureau of Committees of the Majority. The Russian centres of both sides to the dispute have agreed to hold a joint congress. It is evident from this that there are Mensheviks in Russia who set a slightly higher value on the Party spirit and Party unity than do the Mensheviks abroad. It is evident that the Russian Mensheviks themselves, as represented by their centre, the CC, expose the Council abroad and turn their backs on it. It is evident that after an agreement has been reached between the Russian centres of the disputants, any agreement with the Council abroad, i.e., with the gentlemen sitting in Geneva, is entirely out of the question.
In vain, therefore, does our Council speak of its deposition by the CC in the future tense. It is not a matter of the future but of the past. Point 5 of the CC’s appeal to the Party, dated March 12, 1905, proves to all who can understand what they read that this deposition has actually taken place. Russia, represented by the united centres of the two sides, has overthrown the group abroad. The Party Council now represents merely the Geneva group and not the Party.
How accurately this describes the state of affairs in the Party may be seen very clearly from the following. The Council declares that its decision of April 7, 1905, was adopted unanimously. Party members who read this are, of course, supposed to believe that the two members of the CC on the Council also had a hand in this decision. How ever, any such idea, which the Council tries to inspire in the readers, is very much open to question.
The proof: As we stated in Vperyod, No. 13, we are not yet authorised to publish the agreement between the Bureau of Committees of the Majority and the CC Still, we were informed that at least one point of the agreement might be made public, should the Party Council decide against convening the Third Party Congress.
This eventuality has now arisen.
We, therefore, now publish this point—Point 1 of the unpublished agreement.
“Agreement between the Bureau of Committees of the Majority and the Central Committee, signed March 12, 1905.
“Point 1. The Organising Committee composed of representatives of the Central Committee and of the Bureau of Committees of the Majority shall organise the Third Party Congress immediately, regardless of any resolution the Council may adopt on the convocation of the Congress.”
Clear enough, it would seem.
The CC expressly stipulated that it would refuse to abide by any future resolutions of the Council, without making this public for the time being, in the hope that the Council might for once act honestly. This means that the Russian Mensheviks still believed it possible for the Council to do the right thing, even if by way of exception.
The Russian Mensheviks, represented by their Russian centre, have now been disillusioned.
Hence, it is now proved conclusively that even the CC, whose sympathies were entirely on the side of the Council, was compelled to expose its colleague abroad to the full.
It now remains for us in conclusion to put one small question to the reader: In view of all this, what is one to think of the members of the Council sitting in Geneva, who have declared publicly, in print, that the Council decision dated Geneva, April 7, 1905, had been adopted unanimously?
- See present edition, Vol. 7, pp. 147-49.—Ed.