Delivered: 21 November, 1920 or earlier.
First Published: Published for the first time In the Fourth (Russian) edition of the collected Works; Published according to the verbatim report
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 31, pages 427-428
Translated: Julius Katzer
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Comrades, I have often-perhaps too often-had to take part in elections: in Party elections following on a struggle waged by various groups, trends and even factions, and in conditions of a most furious struggle marked by mutual control to such a degree that no voting at any Party cell was considered valid unless conducted in the presence of scrutineers from both groups, who counted the votes cast. Never, however, has the principle of proportional representation been practised in the election of guiding bodies the Petrograd Committee, the Moscow Committee or the Central Committee. When two groups, two trends or factions, are contesting elections, proportional representation is essential in calling a Party conference as a directing body, or a Party congress. When, however, it is a question of setting up an executive body charged with the conduct of practical work, proportional representation has never been applied, and can hardly be considered justified. I think that, in this connection, the preceding speaker departed from the proportional principle when he declared, together with Ignatov, that it stood to the credit of the list presented by him that it proposed eleven candidates, as he said. I am not in a position to verify eleven out of the thirty-eight, but I think that the concession should be greater than that desired by the effective majority at this assembly, or by the group that consider themselves adherents of the Moscow Committee. I have already elaborated on the motives behind this view, but what should stand first now is the selection of persons. I do not know most of the comrades on these lists, but you, who have the decisive votes at this Conference, evidently know them all. I think that, in choosing the comrades you know personally, you will no doubt be guided exclusively by a desire to set up a group that will be able to work harmoniously, a group that will give expression to any Party trend with something healthy in it, whether or not it has assumed definite shape, or has perhaps remained indeterminate in some respects; however, it has to be a group that, on the whole, directs practical politics, does not proportionally represent all the shades of opinion at this assembly, but carries on militant work—the struggle against the internal and external enemies, in the spirit of Conference decisions, and in a way that leaves no room for discord or lack of harmony. That is why the decisive consideration must be that you, members of this Conference, should have a personal knowledge of each candidate, and give preference to that group which may be expected to work harmoniously, and not the principle of proportionality in the election of an executive body, a principle that has never been applied, and to apply which would hardly be right at present.