The Second Step
|Written||23 March 1905|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 262-266.
In issue No. 11 of Vperyod we hailed the first step of the Party Council which was Left without a party. We asked ourselves whether the Council would have the sense and honesty to make the second step along its new path. Now we have just received news from Russia that the Central Committee has made the second step. We are able to publish immediately the following documents in the case.
1) Appeal of the Central Committee to the Party of March 4, 1905.
To the Party
Comrades, the revolution in Russia has begun! Its prelude has proved in the most incontrovertible manner that the principal force deciding its outcome is the urban proletariat. However, in the matter of speeding the issue of the revolution, of bringing system into the revolutionary struggle of the masses, and, especially, of turning the results of the revolution to the fullest account in favour of the proletariat, a great deal depends on the actual state of our Party’s forces and its organisation. History has imposed upon our Party the political and moral responsibility towards the Russian proletariat, towards our whole nation, and, lastly, towards the proletariat the world over. In its present state our Party is not capable of fulfilling its obligations to the extent necessary and possible, considering the potential strength of Russian Social-Democracy. The CC deems it untimely and useless at the present juncture to prove, chapter and verse, whether and to what extent certain prominent Party members, influential groups, and entire Party bodies were guided in their inner-Party activities by pro found political motives or by intellectualist politicking; in short, with out trying to apportion the blame for the deep-going disorganisation of the Party, the CC, fully realising the weight of the responsibility that rests upon it, declares before the whole Party that it has firmly decided to do everything in its power to ensure necessary unity in the Party and prevent a final split. The development of the revolution confronts Russian Social-Democracy almost daily with new problems. Many of these issues have barely been touched upon by our tactics, which were evolved chiefly for “peace-time” use. Others have no precedent whatever in former Party practice, since they have arisen from new causes which never existed before. Party literature, of course, is a help, but its answers do not always satisfy local workers as regards adequacy, unity, and generally recognised competence. Quite recently a considerable number of committees, which united after private meetings, have adopted a policy of distrust towards the central bodies of the Party, existing by virtue of the Party Rules adopted at the Second Congress of the Party, and have carried this policy to the extent of forming their own organ and their own centre, and are at present engaged in convening their own congress. Finally, the time set by the Party Rules far convening the Third regular Congress falls due this summer.
Under the circumstances the CC considers that the only and final means of avoiding a split is the convening of the all-Party Congress in the very near future.
Convinced that the useful results of the Congress, in the sense both of dealing with the vital tasks that the present political situation has put before our Party and of achieving real, lasting unity in the Party, will depend entirely on the broad and full representation of all the important and influential currents at the Congress, the CC, in pursuance of the Rules, has decided, in the interests of fuller representation, to make wide use of its right to invite to the Congress comrades with consultative voice. In view of the fact that the dissensions which have been rending the Party have led in some places to a complete break-away of major groups from the committees, and in others to sharp antagonism between committees and peripheries, the CC invites the following bodies to send their own delegates to the Congress with consultative voice: (1) all groups that broke away from the committees prior to March 1, 1905; (2) all peripheries of large industrial centres in which there are 20,000 workers or over in the area of the committee’s activity and where over half the periphery members vote no confidence in the local committee on the question of the election of a delegate to the Congress.
Note. The CC proposes that for this purpose only those comrades shall be considered members of the periphery who belong to a committee organisation and engage in active revolutionary work under the direction and control of the committee, such as propaganda, agitation, organisation, and the writing, printing, and distribution of literature. Moreover, since the all-Party Congress, according to the Rules, is convened by the Party Council, the CC, while calling upon the local committees to declare for the Third Congress as the only means now of ensuring Party unity, will, for its part, support its decision for the immediate convocation of the Congress through its representatives on the Party Council, and will straight away take a number of practical preparatory steps. In addition, the CC declares that it will do every thing in its power to enlist to the business of convening the Congress the “Organising Bureau” set up for that purpose on the initiative of several of the committees; the preparatory work of this Bureau may help to speed and facilitate the convening of the Congress.
Note. The details of enlisting the services of the “Organising Bureau” of Committees of the so-called “Majority” for the work of convening the Congress should be worked out by mutual agreement. Viewing the immediate convocation of the all-Party Congress as the last means of avoiding a split and creating real unity of the Party, which alone can give us the necessary strength to tackle the great tasks confronting Russian Social-Democracy, the Central Committee calls upon all members of the Party to make the most energetic preparations for the Congress which must urgently be held.
Central Committee, R S.D. L. P.
March 4, 1905
2) A letter of the CC to the Bureau of Committees of the Majority, dated March 6, 1905.
On March 4 the Central Committee decided to call upon the committees of the Party to prepare for the Third Congress, and for its part it decided to take steps for convening the Congress at the earliest possible date.
Since the success of the all-Party Congress and its convocation at the earliest possible date depend on the co-operation of all the comrades and organisations now declaring for the Congress, the CC proposes to the Organising Bureau of Committees of the so-called “Majority” to enter into an agreement on this matter and work together for convening the Congress at the earliest and for ensuring the fullest possible representation at the Congress of the whole Party.
Central Committee, RSDLP
March 6, 1905
3) Joint appeal to the Party by the CC and the Bureau of Committees of the Majority, dated March 12, 1905.
To the Party
The Central Committee and the Bureau of Committees of the Majority have taken upon themselves the initiative for convening the Third Congress of the Party and notify all Party organisations that, proceeding from the urgent need for immediately holding the Third Party Congress to establish the general line of Party tactics and the Party’s organisational unity, they have come to an agreement for the joint organisation of the Congress on the following basis:
1) The Congress is to be convened on the basis of the programmes set forth in the declarations of the Central Committee and the Bureau of Committees of the Majority; these programmes provide for the following agenda:
(a) Constitution of the Congress; (b) questions of Party tactics; (c) questions of Party organisation: (1) organisation of the centres, (2) organisation of the committees, (3) relations between the various Party bodies and their divisions; (d) reports; (e) elections.
2) All Party organisations having the right to participate with a vote under the Rules of the Second Congress are invited to the Congress (viz., the four Caucasian committees, the Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tver, Tula, Nizhni-Novgorod, Northern, Kiev, Odessa, Ekaterinoslav, Kharkov, Don Region, Voronezh, Nikolayev, Saratov, Samara, North-Western, Polesye, and the Astrakhan committees, and the League; the Donets, Crimean, Ural, and Siberian leagues) ; all the rest are invited to participate with consultative voice.
3) The organising work in connection with the convening of the Third Party Congress so far carried out by the Bureau of Committees of the Majority is herewith endorsed.
4) All further work in connection with convening the Congress Is to be carried out jointly by the Bureau of Committees of the Majority and the Central Committee, which form an Organising Committee.
5) The resolution of the Party Council against convening the Third Party Congress published in Iskra, No. 89, is not accepted by the Central Committee and the Bureau of Committees of the Majority as grounds for suspending work on organising the Congress.
March 12, 1905
The agreement between the Central Committee and the Bureau of Committees of the Majority of March 12, 1905, is for the time being not to be made public.
We can thus celebrate a complete moral victory. Russia has gained the upper hand over the “foreigners”. The Party spirit has triumphed over circle parochialism. At the last minute the Central Committee saw that the Congress which was being convened by the Bureau of Committees of the Majority was a real Party congress and joined it. The Central Committee at the eleventh hour had courage enough to abandon its anti-Party policy and to defy the Council abroad. According to the Rules of our Party the Congress is convened by the Council and not by the Central Committee. Consequently, legally speaking, no statements or agreements on this question by the Central Committee are valid. But when the Council violated the Rules and avoided rendering an account to a congress, it was the duty and not only the right of the committees to take the initiative in convening the Congress; and the Central Committee, by recognising the Bureau elected by the committees, refused to follow the unfortunate example of the Party Council which was left without a party.
We cannot at the moment express any opinion on the concrete questions of the agreement between the Central Committee and the Bureau of Committees of the Majority. All these questions, as well as the question of the agenda, the constitution of the Congress, etc., will, of course, be decided by the Congress itself. We shall therefore confine ourselves merely to wishing the Congress success and appealing to all comrades to apply themselves immediately and with the utmost energy to all the necessary preparations for the Congress. It is left for us in conclusion to repeat what we said in Vperyod, No. 11, namely, that "... we have come very close to a possibly direct and unequivocal way out of the crisis.”
- See pp. 239-44 of this volume,—Ed.
- With reference to the Riga, Smolensk, Kursk, Orel-Bryansk, Kazan, Kremenchug, Elisavetgrad, and Kuban committees, see Point 3 of the agreement between the Central Committee and the Bureau of Committees of the Majority.—Lenin
- See p. 243 of this volume.—Ed.