What the Bonapartists Are Up To
- Published at the end of March 1905 as a reprint from No. 13 of Vperyod. Published according to the text of the reprint.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 252-256.
Geneva, March 29 (16)
We have just received the following report from Tver: “A periphery meeting held jointly with the Committee on March 9, and attended by a representative of the Central Committee, discussed the question of the attitude to the Third Party Congress which is being convened by the CC (appeal to the Party dated March 4, 1905).The resolution of the Tver Committee was read out: ’The Tver Committee welcomes the call of the Central Committee of the RSDLP to prepare for the Third Party Congress (resolution of the CC dated March 4,1905) and it has resolved at its meeting to participate in the Congress by sending a delegate. In view, however, of the statement made by the Tver Committee to a representative of the Organising Bureau about participating in the Congress organised by that Bureau, the Tver Committee feels obligated to point out that this statement was made in response to the Bureau representative’s assurance of the CC decision to make the Congress then in preparation a regular one."’
The periphery meeting did not support the resolution of the Tver Committee. The following resolution was adopted by a majority of seven votes to one with one abstention: “Having at last received the call of the Central Committee to prepare for the immediate convocation of the Third Congress, and welcoming this act of the CC, we declare that we have already decided to take part in the Party Congress that is being convened by the Organising Bureau. We consider it possible to avail ourselves of the offer made by the CC in its appeal ’To the Party’ dated March 4 only on the condition that a formal agreement is reached between the CC and the Organising Bureau” (6 for, 3 against). To note the mood of the other three comrades, who voted in the negative, I cite the other resolution, offered by two of the comrades who thus voted: “The local organisation welcomes the decision of the Central Committee to convene a Third Party Congress and strongly urges it and the Organising Bureau to come to an agreement between themselves. Should an agreement not eventuate, the local organisation leaves itself a free hand.”
It follows from this report that: (1) the Tver Committee, together with the periphery, had declared, according to the Committee’s own admission, its consent to participate in the Congress organised by the Bureau of Committees of the Majority; (2) subsequently, the Tver Committee, under the influence of the CC’s new promises to convene the Third Congress, withdrew its consent. The periphery, however, did not support the Committee and did not decline to participate in the Congress which the Bureau had called; (3) the CC’s new promises to convene the Third Congress were given in the appeal “To the Party, dated March 4, 1905”, which has so far remained unpublished and is unknown to us.
To appraise the behaviour of our famous CC at its true worth, we would remind our comrades, first, of the Party Rules, and secondly, of certain facts. According to the Rules a congress is convened by the Council, and not by the Central Committee. Consequently, the CC is giving promises it cannot live up to. It promises to do what, under the Rules, it cannot do. The CC promises or proposes, but the Council disposes. As for those members of the Party who are naïve enough to lend an ear to the CC’s promises and are unfamiliar with the Rules, they find themselves in the position of dupes. How the Council “disposes” the facts reveal. In its resolution of March 8 (new style) the Council declares (Iskra, No. 89) that “with the assent of the majority of the Party workers” (perhaps including the Tver Committee?) “it considers it inexpedient to convene the Party Congress at such a moment”. Can anything be clearer? Does this not show that the Council, time and again, is shamelessly deceiving the Party, since it never did have the “assent” of the “majority of Party workers”?
Further, on March 10 (N.S.), that is, two days later, the Council adopted another resolution (Iskra, No. 91) agreeing to send two representatives to the Congress convened by the Russian Bureau of Committees of the Majority, but saying not a word about agreeing to the convening of the Congress.
We would add that the Council not only takes a position officially against the “expediency” of convening the Congress but rigs the votes to the Congress by increasing the number of allegedly qualified committees and refusing to inform the Party which now committees it considers to be accredited and when they were accredited. In the resolution of the Council of March 8 (discussed in Vperyod, No. 10 ), the commit tees considered qualified as of January 1,1905, were those of Polesye, the North-West, Kuban, and Kazan, whereas the last two committees were not accredited at all by the CC and the former will not be qualified until April 1, 1905.
We ask the Party members who wish to be real and not just registered members whether they are going to stand for this game. The Council rigs the votes and declares against the Congress, while the CC gives “promises” as regards the Congress, taking advantage of the naïveté of people who do not know that according to the Rules these promises can have no formal weight. Do not the facts wholly confirm what we wrote on February 28 (15) in Vperyod, No. 8, at the first reports of the CC ’s “assent” to the Congress? We would remark that a month has passed since then, that Iskra has since issued Nos. 88, 89, 90, 91, and 92 (dated March 10, 0.5.) without saying a word on this “ticklish” question of the CC’s “assent” to the Congress. We can only repeat what we said in Vperyod, No. 8:
“We have just received a report that can be interpreted to mean that the Central Committee agrees to an immediate congress. We can in no way vouch for the authenticity of the report at the present moment, but we consider it probable. The CC has campaigned against the Congress for many months; it has cashiered the organisations and boycott ed and disorganised the committees that have declared for the Congress. These tactics have failed. Now, following the rule ’expediency is everything, formality is nothing’, the CC, for the sake of ’expediency’ (that is, for the sake of preventing the Congress) is prepared formally to declare a hundred times if need he that it is for the immediate con vocation of the Congress. We hope that neither the Bureau nor the local committees will let themselves be deceived by the subterfuges of the Party’s ’Shidlovsky Commission’."
P.S. Geneva, March 30 (17). We are obliged to keep a regular diary of the CC’s subterfuges. We have received the following letter of the CC to the Bureau of Committees of the Majority:
“The Central Committee decided on March 4 to call upon the committees of the Party to prepare for the Third Congress of the Party and on its part has decided to take steps to convene the Congress at the earliest possible date.
“Since the success of an all-Party congress and its speedy convocation depend on the unanimous collaboration of the utmost possible number of all comrades and organisations that are declaring now 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 towards convening the Congress speedily and to wards ensuring the fullest possible representation of the entire Party. March 6,1905. CC, RSDLP”
Infinite indeed is the long-suffering patience of the Russian committees and their credulity! Why does not the CC publish its appeal of March 4? Why does it mouth mendacious phrases about an “agreement” with the Bureau? The Bureau invited everyone to the Congress without exception, the entire Party; it did so over a month ago openly and publicly. The Bureau answered the CC long since that no delays were now possible. Everyone who wants an all-Party congress not merely in words is invited; it’s as clear as that. Besides, what sense would there be in an agreement between the Bureau and the CC, when it is not the CC that convenes the Congress under the Rules but the Council, which has gone on record against the Congress?
It is to be hoped that everyone now will see through the double game which the Council and the CC are playing. The Bureau, we are sure, will not retreat a single step from its work of convening the Congress upon the date it has set for it and of which it has notified the CC.
- The representative of the Bureau of Committees of the Majority, who made the report on the Third Congress. at a meeting of the Tver Committee and the periphery in February, informs us that this assertion of the Tver Committee is “inaccurate”. “I told them”, he declares, “according to the direct statement of CC member Nikitich, that the CC had intended to announce the Third Congress, thus making the Congress convened by the Bureau a regular congress by agreement, hut that it had not had time for various reasons to enter into official negotiations with the Bureau on the question.” —Lenin
- See pp. 225-27 of this volume.—Ed.
- The Shidlovsky Commission (headed by Senator Shidlovsky) was set up by the tsarist government on January 29 (February 11), 1905, “to enquire into tile causes of the discontent among the workers”, but actually to deceive the workers and draw them away from the revolutionary struggle. Speaking of the “subterfuges of the Party’s Shidlovsky Commission’ " Lenin had in mind the double-dealing of the Central Committee, where the Mensheviks had seized control and which formally went on record for a Third Congress while actually opposing the convocation of the Party Congress.