V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in 1926. Sent from Geneva to Russia. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 320-322.
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcription\Markup: D. Moros
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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July 28, 1905

Dear friends,

The two following important questions must be decided as quickly as possible: 1) The question of Plekhanov. We have instructed a special agent (Lyadov) to tell you how the matter stands. I shall repeat it briefly. Plekhanov acted with incredible impudence by writing to the Inter national Socialist Bureau that both sections of the Party had recognised (!) him, and in every way denouncing and denigrating our Third Congress. I have a copy of his letter sent to me from the Bureau. It will be sent on to you. With great difficulty I established direct contact with the International Socialist Bureau and refuted Plekhanov. Plekhanov then refused to be the representative. You know that I was by no means unconditionally opposed to Plekhanov’s appointment, but now it would be quite unthinkable. It would be such a disavowal of me that my position would become impossible. It would discredit us altogether in the eyes of the International Socialist Bureau. Do not forget that almost all the Social-Democrats abroad are on the side of the “icons” and think nothing of us, look down on us. An incautious step on your part will spoil everything. Therefore I earnestly request Werner and Schmidt to con firm, as quickly as possible, if only provisionally, the steps I have taken. That is one thing. Secondly, Plekhanov should be offered a scientific organ in the name of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P., but on condition that he recognise the Third Congress and all its decisions as binding on him. If he turns this down, the blame will fall on him, while we shall have demonstrated our conciliatory spirit. If he accepts, we shall take a further step to meet him. And so: I earnestly advise you to rescind the decision about representation,   and, as regards the scientific organ, to draft the proposal with the above condition.[1] 2) About the proposal for mediation on the part of the International Socialist Bureau. The full text will be sent to you, although Lyadov has already taken it for you. For the purpose of reconciliation, the International Socialist Bureau proposes a conference between us and the Minority, under the chairmanship of members of the I. S. Bureau. The foreign Social-Democrats (Bebel and others) are strongly urging the I.S.B. to bring pressure to bear on us. Letters of this kind have come even from the British (the Social-Democratic Federation; I have a copy of the letter, in the usual conciliatory vein, about it being a crime to quarrel at such a time, etc.[2]). I wrote to the I. S. Bureau that it was not within my competence to settle this question, and that the decision had to come from the whole C.C., to which, I said, I was writing immediately. Then I enquired whether they had in mind mediation only, or a court of arbitration that was binding on both sides; it was important for me, I said, to write on this point to the C.C. So far there is no reply from them.

My opinion is as follows. The conference should certainly be agreed to. It should be fixed for round about September 1. We should send to it without fail one or two C.C. members from Russia (do not forget that our meeting is fixed for September 1., and that it is extremely necessary in all respects). Mediation should be accepted with thanks. A binding decision by arbitration should be refused on the strength of the Third Congress resolution,[3] which has bound us unconditionally and which states that the conditions for complete amalgamation with the Minority should be submitted to the Fourth Congress for confirmation. The Third Congress instructed us to prepare and work out these conditions, but not to endorse them finally. In fulfilment of the instruction of the Third Congress, we accept mediation and will try to work out a fully detailed modus for agreement now and for gradual amalgamation. If we can manage it, we shall implement the agreement at once, and submit the plan for amalgamation to the Fourth Congress, which will then have to be convened at the same time and in the same place with the obligatory attendance of all Minority organisations. It is extremely important to bear in mind   that the Mensheviks have no central body whose decisions are binding on them. Iskra is not subordinated to the Organisation Committee. We should not play the role of fools entering into an agreement with people who have neither the right nor the power to speak for the whole Minority. It is essential therefore to make it clear at once that the delegates from the Minority at the meeting with the I. S. Bureau should be both from the Organisation Committee and from Iskra, and in addition should promise to invite the opinions of all Minority organisations as soon as possible, giving a list of them to us. Incidentally, if from the point of view of Russia it is of more importance to you that the Mensheviks of Russia should preponderate, then you will discuss whether special Iskra delegates are necessary. You will know best. But do not forget that without the consent of Iskra all agreements will be a fiction. One more question: should we in form the I. S. Bureau of the secret resolution of the Third Congress? Have we the right to do so? I am in doubt about this. Of course, informing the European socialist comrades is not “publishing”, and they can be made to undertake not to publish. But is this advisable? Decide for yourselves. It is easy to give a satisfactory explanation even without informing them about the Third Congress resolution which binds us.

I shall publish the open letter to the Organisation Committee in Proletary No. 11 (No. 10 is already coming out). I did not publish it earlier because I was waiting for an explanation from you, which only arrived yesterday. We earnestly request you to make a note on each document whether it is to be published and published immediately.

And so, reply as soon as possible on behalf of Werner and Schmidt at any rate: 1) Will you write the reply to the I. S. Bureau yourselves or do you instruct me to do so? 2) Do you approve my reply or not? 3) If not, I would ask you to hurry up with a reply, so that we can reach full agreement; any misunderstanding in such a matter, lack of clarity or lack of information, is fraught with the greatest danger.

P.S. Please send my letters on to Dubois, I haven’t got his address.


[1] The decision appointing Plekhanov Editor-in-Chief of the party’s scientific organ was adopted by the C.C. Of the R.S.D.L.P. on May 7 (20), 1905; Lenin was instructed to implement this decision in the event of the negotiations with Plekhanov being satisfactorily concluded.

[2] The Social-Democratic Federation, founded in 1884, included within its ranks representatives of reformism (Hyndman and others), anarchists, and Marxists representing the Left wing of the British socialist movement. In 1907 it was renamed the Social-Democratic Party; in 1911 this Party and the Left elements of the Independent Labour Party formed the British Socialist Party, which, in 1920, together with the Socialist Unity group, played the chief role in establishing the Communist Party of Great Britain.

[3] A secret resolution of the Third Congress on the question of “preparing the terms of unification with the Mensheviks” stated that the Congress “instructs the C.C. to take steps towards preparing and working out the terms of unification with the breakaway section of the R.S.D.L.P., which terms are to be submitted for final endorsement to a new Party congress.” (see The C.P.S.U. in the Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences and Plenums of the Central Committee, Part I, 1954, p. 90).

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