V. I. Lenin

Conference of the Enlarged Editorial Board ofProletary{1}

JUNE 8–17 (21–30), 1909

Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 222.2-230.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  




JUNE 8 (21)


It is said, on the one hand, that there are no differences of principle, and there is a refusal to make open statements, and on the other, there is talk of basic differences in the Bolshevik faction. Isn’t that duplicity? At the general Party conference Dan said: Doesn’t everyone know that Lenin is being accused of Menshevism? I replied: Read Proletary and judge on that basis, instead of collecting gossip. At the time, Maximov was silent. Nothing is worse than the absence of open struggle. I say: Our unity based on principle has been disrupted, you say something else, and yet you call Lenin Martov.... Why is the present meeting illegal in Party terms? Members of the Bolshevik Centre elected at the Congress are talking about how best to conduct Bolshevik views. What is so inadmissible about that? In agitating for a special Bolshevik congress you show that you have lost all faith in the Party principle. We have   always stood for the Party principle, ever since the Second Congress, and are now continuing the same line, while you are preaching a split at the grass roots. There is also a pro-Party trend among the Mensheviks. We believe in the Party principle and stand up for it.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria” (Minutes of the Proletary Enlarged Editorial Board conference) Printed from the text of the book verified with the minutes

Maximov says that there has been no agitation for a congress. Lyadov, Stanislav, and Vsevolod have spoken out with sufficient clarity. Since May 1908, Lyadov and Stanislav have been agitating in Russia. We have Stanislav’s resolution, which says clearly enough what he wants.{2} This is a mockery of our faction. The Mensheviks have an orthodox-Marxist, Plekhanovite, trend and the Bolsheviks also have an orthodox-Marxist trend. Both the Mensheviks and we have the Valentinov-Maximov liquidationist trend, etc. Concerning Comrade Maximov’s statement, I repeat that what I said was in reply to Maximov’s words: “a fully Leninist-Plekhanovite faction is crystallising”.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria” Printed from the original



JUNE 9 (22)

I want to deal with the “idea of the centre”. Maximov has mixed things up over the Kotka conference{4}; this is how it was: if the Poles were in favour of a boycott and my vote were decisive, I declared that in that case I preferred to vote with the Bolsheviks. That was the condition I put in respect of the Poles. At that time, the whole Bolshevik Centre was against the boycott. The faction, how ever, was for the boycott, but there was no split, because   there was no group which wanted one. A year later, the faction turned out to be on our side. There are some “Bolsheviks” who are afraid of hitting out at the otzovists and of siding with the Mensheviks. At the conference I joined with the Mensheviks against the otzovists. That is what you think about the centre.

The story of the split as related by Maximov is a curious one. Maximov’s papers say nothing about the centre but Mikha’s letter has now been authenticated. The letter said that Lenin was conducting a Right-wing Bundist line. That is in the documents. Mikha wrote what Maximov is now saying. There is your idea of the centre. We got this letter from our Caucasian friends, who handed their mandate over to the Rightist Ilyich. Mikha conducted this policy in July 1908 with the participation of the group. Maximov says that we shall confer with Plekhanov. Of course, we shall, as we shall with Dan, and Martov in the C.O.{5} It took a fierce struggle at the conference to get the otzovists to be loyal. We confronted them with ultimatums. When Axelrod read the point about military-combat tasks, he said: “It is not hard to work with such ‘Bolsheviks’.” We shall not let the otzovists into the Duma commissions, Where we were with Dan. Indeed! We shall confer with Plekhanov, as we shall with Dan and Martov. You can say as much in the press.

In the C.C. I confer with Marat. You, Marat, are a member of the faction of divine otzovists. I am not talking about good intentions but about the political line. I ask you, comrades, to give thought to what is being said about Plekhanov. When Plekhanov speaks of his mistake in respect of the trade unions, we are reproached for failing to repulse him. When he is prepared to sacrifice his mistake, the question is whether we are attracting him by the article against Lunacharsky or whether you are repulsing the minority of the pro-Party Mensheviks{6} and the orthodox-Marxist Mensheviks for the sake of Bogdanov-Lunacharsky anti-Marxist propaganda. We have not made a deal with Plekhanov against Lunacharsky, but we can tell you who is flirting with whom. When Plekhanov kicks out Potresov, I am prepared to give him my hand. This is not a new centre, but a new caricatured Bolshevism. We are having   a replay of the old Rosa Luxemburg story.{7} But the replay here is caricatured, and “Bolshevism” must be safeguarded from it.

“Bolshevism” must now become strictly Marxist.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria Printed from the text of the book verified with the minutes



JUNE 10 (23)

I am surprised that we are not yet bored with all this. Comrade Maximov has no reason to be excited, because there has never been a single split without extreme accusations, and split incidents have always been confused with matters of honour. I remember the scenes with Krichevsky in 1901, with Martov in 1905, and with Plekhanov in 1907—and all of them attacked me with cries about honour. It is not a question of honour, but of the fact that in the process of struggle men tend to disorganise their faction and organise a new one. Take Lyadov as an example. He has not become a bad comrade, but he is disorganising our faction and trying to set up a new one. I think that Maximov is disorganising those whom he believes to be Mensheviks. He has a perfect right to do that, but he keeps telling us about Lenin’s being invited to the school. The question of control is a ridiculous one too. We can’t have that. It is clear that the school is a new centre, a new trend. Marat says that he will not abandon his posts. You, Comrade Marat, have succumbed to the factional fervour which is determined by the political struggle of the “divine” Otzovists.

What is a faction? It is an alliance of like-minded persons within a party. In the Duma, the party is an alliance of like-minded men inside the Duma. After all, when a member of the Duma, like Khomyakov, goes over to another party he does not cease to be its chairman. The same applies   to a faction in the party. The party alone can relieve you of the post which you have taken up on behalf of the party. We are now quarrelling—it is because we have no alliance of like-minded men. No one is encroaching on your Party post and there is no point in bringing it in. We do not have a split in the Party, but in the faction. The writ of our conference does not run to Party posts. And honour has nothing to do with all this. For my part, I am used to that sort of thing: this is the fourth time I am being abused. We must recognise what there is: two centres, two trends and the school as a fact. And when we group out, everything will be much clearer.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria” Printed from the text of the book verified with the minutes



JUNE 12 (25)

I am not going to reply to Maximov; everyone is arriving at the conclusion that this is our last joint sitting with him. We should, therefore refrain from exchanging abuse at the last moment. That is undignified. Marat says that he is being invited to kick himself out. When Marat declared that he preferred to work with the anti-otzovists rather than with the otzovists, his declaration was met with cries of “Bravo!” No one accused him of setting up the break-away centre at Capri, his statement on god-building was quite definite. He is wrong in formal terms. For our part we did not take the division beyond the point where the separate centres of like-minded partisans had already taken shape.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria” Printed from the text of the book verified with the minutes



JUNE 12 (25)

Vishnevsky’s report is the first positive contribution we have heard here.

As for the failure to send a delegate to the general Party conference, Vishnevsky seems to be making a mistake. Poletayev said that the deputies would arrive if Dan sent a telegram. Dan refused to do so. The conference has suffered greatly because of the absence of the delegate.{9}

You say that the well-informed persons{10} should not be expelled. The way to fight them is through publicity. More information should be given about them. They should be grouped and characterised.

The question of the Proletary Editorial Board’s secretary attached to the Duma group. The secretary was not equal to his task and wrote in a highly formal manner; Steklov is not the man for this job; there is need for a man to do the spade-work. The information should be as circumstantial as possible, otherwise all the promotion groups will be quite useless.

The Paris promotion group{11} is a delicate matter. We shall support Plekhanov’s line; the other Mensheviks take a very nervous attitude to this. A rapprochement with the Mensheviks of the Dan type is hard. How is a group to be formed? The Mensheviks will get a crowd in. Nothing except a fight can be the result. Perhaps, in order to avoid a squabble the group should be set up under the C.O.

Nothing can be done in the Duma group without well-informed persons from the Bolsheviks. For this we should legalise two or three men. One suggestion is Vadim, and perhaps Kamenev.

Concerning the participation of local organisations in the activity of the Duma group. Broad leaflet agitation should be started. Definite specimen leaflets about Duma activity should be issued. The revolutionary Social-Democratic use of the Duma will be neither revolutionary nor Social-Democratic without the influence of the organisations.   There is need of leaflets on the subjects of the Duma speeches. This kind of thing will involve the organisations in the work and give them an impetus. Up to now, insufficient use has been made of deputies’ meetings. They wasted most of their time on debates with the otzovists. There is also need for leaflets on the party grouping in the Duma and, finally, leaflets on the work of the Duma in general. It is not only the C.C. representatives, but also the organisations that should direct the Duma group. We must have leaflets on the meaning of this or that speech in the Duma. Take the question of foreign policy. Our deputies were the only ones to speak. This was not properly assessed. There is need for leaflets with extracts from speeches. I see no other way for the organisations’ participation except in the form of leaflets. The disorganisation is desperate, the leaflet activity should be pressed forward vigorously. Criticism in foreign newspapers is late. Parliamentary speeches will always say less than everything. The i’s will be dotted by the leaflets.

It is sometimes very hard for the organisations to send their representatives.

As for the newspaper, there is only one condition: a majority secured for us, but I do not believe it is possible to realise such a paper.{12}

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria” Printed from the text of the book verified with the minutes



Considerably more attention, initiative and effort should be devoted to the use of legal possibilities (a sphere in which some successes have already been scored) than has been done until now.

Written between June 13 and 15 (26 and 28), 1909 Printed from the original
First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria”



JUNE 15 (28)

It is, of course, impossible to destroy Proletary. There is need for a popular organ, but the question depends on various other combinations, for instance, finance. It is not right to prohibit assistance for the legal press in such resolute terms as Vlasov has done. I think it would be useful to publish a small magazine, about the size of, say, Dal,{14} which the Menshevik liquidators are publishing.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria” Printed from the text of the book verified with the minutes



JUNE 15 (28)

Since we cannot foresee how the debate on philosophy will develop, the question should not be posed as Comrade Marat has done. Therefore all restrictions on the C.O. in this respect should be lifted. I welcome Comrade Marat’s statement on the need of philosophical articles in the legal miscellanies.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria” Printed from the text of the book verified with the minutes



JUNE 16 (29)

In view of the importance of Comrade Meshkovsky’s statement, I propose that of the 1,500 rubles earmarked for legal publishing, 1,000 should be used for the Duma newspaper.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria” Printed from the text of the book verified with the minutes



JUNE 17 (30)


I agree with Meshkovsky. A referendum concerns all Party members, and that is impossible to put through. Conferences are desirable, but they should not be made statutory. I believe that the idea of periodical conferences should alone be adopted.


It should be written that the Russian members of the Bolshevik Centre constitute a collegium in general, without limiting their number to three.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria”
Printed from the text of the book verified with the minutes

In the absence of a Plenary Meeting, the Executive Commission may replace the Proletary editors and members of the Economic Commission in the event of their leaving.

The Bolshevik Centre Secretariat Abroad, consisting of two persons, shall be appointed by a Plenary Meeting.

First published in 1934 in the book Protokoly soveshchania rasshirennoi redaktsii “Proletaria”
Printed from the original


{1} The Conference was called on Lenin’s initiative, and was held in Paris from June 8 to 17 (21 to 30), 1909. It was attended by nine members of the Bolshevik Centre, the supreme body of the Bolshevik group, elected by the Bolshevik delegates at the Fifth (London) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.; representatives of the St. Petersburg, Moscow Region and Urals organisations were also there. It was held under Lenin’s guidance, and his speeches on all the main items of the agenda determined the character of its work. The otzovists, ultimatumists and god-builders ware represented by A. Bogdanov (Maximov) and   V. L. Shantser (Marat), who were supported by V. M. Shulyatikov (Donat), representing the Moscow Region organisation. On several questions G. Y. Zinoviev, L. B. Kamenev, A. I. Rykov and M. P. Tomsky took a conciliatory stand.

The Conference discussed the following questions: otzovism and ultimatumism; god-building tendencies among Social-Democrats; attitude to the activity in the Duma among the other branches of Party work; the tasks of the Bolsheviks in the Party; the Party school being set up on Capri; unity of the group; the agitation for a Bolshevik Congress or a Bolshevik conference separate from the Party; the split-away of A. Bogdanov, and other questions. Lenin gave detailed information on the state of affairs in the Party and the Bolshevik group. His propositions became the basis of decisions adopted by the Conference.

The Conference resolutely condemned otzovism-ultimatumism as a harmful and dangerous trend within the working-class movement; it sharply criticised the philosophical views of the otzovists-ultimatumists, which were especially strikingly revealed in the idea of god-building. Bogdanov, the leader and ideologist of the otzovists, ultimatumists and god-builders, who had made an attempt on the unity of the Bolshevik group and had taken the way of revising Marxism and substituting for it an idealist, reactionary philosophy, was expelled from the Bolshevik group.

The Conference decisions were of great importance for the whole Party. Lenin said that they gave great harmony arid completeness to the political line which had been worked out by the Party in the years of reaction. For details about the Conference see present edition, Vol. 15, pp. 425–51. p. 222

{2} The resolution motioned by Stanislav (“Yer”, S. Volsky—A. V. Sokolov) in the Moscow Committee expressed no confidence in the Editorial Board of Proletary and called for a Bolshevik conference to elect a new ideological centre. The Moscow Committee rejected the resolution “by every vote except his own” (see present edition, Vol. 16, p. 53). The text of the resolution has not been discovered. p. 223

{3} Otzovists—representatives of an opportunist trend among the Bolsheviks. Behind a screen of revolutionary talk, the otzovists (A. Bogdanov, G. A. Alexinsky, A. V. Sokolov [S. Volsky], A. V. Lunacharsky, M. N. Lyadov and others) demanded the recall of the Social-Democratic deputies from the Third Duma and an end to work in legal organisations. They held that in the conditions of reaction the Party should conduct illegal activity only, and refused to participate in the Duma, in the workers’ trade unions, co-operatives and other mass legal and semi-legal organisations. Ultimatumism was a variety of otzovism. The ultimatumists differed from the otzovists only in form. They proposed presenting the Social-Democratic Duma group with an ultimatum that it should implicitly submit to the Party Central Committee’s decisions and should be recalled from the Duma in the event of noncompliance. Ultimatumism was in fact a camouflaged   otzovism, and Lenin said the ultimatumists were “bashful otzovists”.

The otzovists were doing the Party a great deal of harm. Their policy could lead to the Party’s separation from the masses and its transformation into a sectarian organisation incapable of mustering forces for another revolutionary upsurge. Lenin exposed the otzovists as “liquidators inside out”, and declared a relentless light against them. He wrote: “Otzovism is not Bolshevism but the worst political travesty of Bolshevism its worst political enemy could invent” (see present edition, Vol. 15, p. 357). p. 223

{4} The Third (Second All-Russia) Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. was held at Kotka, Finland, from July 21 to 23 (August 3 to 5), 1907. It was attended by 26 delegates, nine of them Bolsheviks, five Mensheviks, five Polish Social-Democrats, five Bundists and two Latvian Social-Democrats. Among the delegates were V. I. Lenin, F. E. Dzerzhinsky, A. V. Lunacharsky and Rosa Luxemburg. The Conference was also attended by members and alternate members of the Party Central Committee elected at the Fifth (London) Congress. The need to call an urgent conference (two months after the Fifth Congress) was due to the changed political situation in view of the Third of June counter-revolutionary coup and the elections to the Third Duma. On the agenda of the Conference were the following questions: participation in the elections to the Third Duma, electoral agreements with other parties, electoral platform and the All-Russia Congress of Trade Unions.

On the first question, the Conference heard three reports: = Lenin’s (against a boycott) and A. Bogdanov’s (for a boycott) from the Bolsheviks, and F. Dan’s, from the Mensheviks and the Bund. The Conference adopted as a basis Lenin’s draft resolution calling on the Party to take part in the electoral campaign and to struggle both against the Rightist parties and against the Cadets (see K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiyakh..., Part I, pp. 173–74). When their resolution was rejected, the Bolsheviks favouring a boycott voted for Lenin’s resolution.

The Conference decided that at the first stage of the elections, the Social-Democrats should not enter into any agreements with other parties, agreements being allowed on second and subsequent ballots with all parties left of the Cadets. At the second and subsequent stages of the elections, agreements could be reached with all revolutionary and opposition parties to fight the Rightists. But in the workers’ curia, the Social-Democrats were not to enter into agreements with other parties, with the exception of national Social-Democratic parties outside the R.S.D.L.P., and also the P.P.S. The Conference invited the Central Committee to draw up the electoral platform on the basis of its resolution on participation in the elections to the Third Duma. The Conference heard two reports on the All-Russia Congress of Trade Unions: one for the principle of the partisanship of the trade unions, and another, for the trade unions remaining neutral. There were four draft resolutions on the reports (a Bolshevik, a Menshevik, and two compromise resolutions). The Conference decided to refer them   to the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee. The Bolshevik draft resolution was based on the draft proposed by Lenin (see K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiyakh..., Part I, p. 180).

The importance of the Third Conference lies in the fact that it marked out the principles of the Party’s tactics in the new historical situation—the period of the Stolypin reaction. p. 223

{5} Central Organ of the R.S.D.L.P. (C.O.)—the illegal newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat published from February 1908 to January 1917. The first issue prepared by the Bolsheviks and partly printed by a private printer at Vilno was confiscated by the tsarist secret police. Soon another attempt was made to publish the newspaper in St. Petersburg. The bulk of the printing likewise fell into the hands of the gendarmes. Subsequently, the paper was published abroad: Nos. 2–32 (February 1909–December 1913) in Paris; Nos. 33–58 (November 1914–January 1917) in Geneva. There were altogether 58 issues, of which five had supplements. Lenin was the actual editor of the paper, and his articles were the centre-pieces of the newspaper. More than 80 articles and items by Lenin appeared in Sotsial-Demokrat. p. 224

{6} The pro-Party Mensheviks, headed by G. V. Plekhanov, opposed the liquidators in the years of reaction. While retaining their Menshevik positions, the Plekhanovites wanted the illegal Party organisation preserved and strengthened, and on that point favoured a bloc with the Bolsheviks. Lenin urged the Bolsheviks to move nearer to the pro-Party Mensheviks, saying that there could be an agreement with them on the basis of a struggle for the Party, and against the liquidators, “...without any ideological compromises, without any glossing over of tactical and other differences of opinion within the limits of the Party line” (see present edition, Vol. 16, p. 101). The pro-Party Mensheviks joined the Bolsheviks in working in the local Party committees, and contributed to Bolshevik publications. At the end of 1911, Plekhanov broke up the bloc with the Bolsheviks. On the pretext of fighting the “factionalism” and the split within the R.S.D.L.P., he tried to reconcile the Bolsheviks and the opportunists. In 1912, the Plekhanovites joined the Trotskyites, Bundists and liquidators in opposing the decisions of the Prague Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. p. 224

{7} A reference to A. Bogdanov’s speech in the debate on the report on otzovism and ultimatumism, which said that Rosa Luxemburg had sharply condemned both. In an effort to cast doubt on her criticism, Bogdanov recalled that in 1904 and 1905 Rosa Luxemburg had opposed the Bolsheviks. p. 225

{8} The school was set up in 1909 on the isle of Capri, Italy, by the otzovists, ultimatumists and god-builders. The conference of the enlarged Editorial Board of Proletary exposed the factional anti-Bolshevik character of the school, stating that its organisers were pursuing “not aims common to the Bolshevik wing as a whole, as an ideological trend in the Party, but the private aims of a group with a separate ideology and policy”. The school was resolutely   condemned as a “new centre being formed for a faction breaking away from the Bolsheviks” (see present edition, Vol. 15, p. 450).

It was opened in August. Lectures were given by A. Bogdanov, G. Alexinsky, A. Lunacharsky, Maxim Gorky, M. N. Lyadov, M. N. Pokrovsky and V. A. Desnitsky. Lenin rejected a formal invitation to go and lecture at the school. In a letter to its students, who were insisting that he read them a series of lectures, Lenin said that he could not do so because the school had been “deliberately hidden away from the Party” in a “remote foreign spot” and was of a factional character. He invited the students to come to Paris “to study Social-Democracy”, instead of the “separatist factional ‘science’\thinspace” of the otzovists and god-builders (see present edition, Vol. 15, pp. 472–78).

For a detailed history of the school and its characteristic, see Lenin’s articles “The Faction of Supporters of Otzovism and God-Building” and “A Shameful Fiasco” (present edition, Vol. 16, pp. 29–61, 85–86). p. 225

{9} A reference to the failure to attend the Fifth Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. (All-Russia Conference of 1908) by the representative of the Duma Social-Democratic group. The rapporteur Vishnevsky (I. P. Goldenberg) said it was accidental. p. 227

{10} A group of intellectuals acting as advisers to the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma, most of them liquidators and revisionists—A. N. Potresov, S. N. Prokopovich, etc. Making use of the fact that the leaders of the Bolshevik Party were in hiding and unable to Work legally with the Duma group, these persons tried to direct the group’s activity along anti-art lines, and this gave rise to the question of doing without their services. p. 227

{11} A reference to the establishment of a promotion committee for the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma. The Conference decided to set up a promotion committee, and Lenin, who was elected to the committee, was very active on it. In particular, he wrote his “Explanatory Note on the Draft of the Main Grounds of the Bill on the Eight-Hour Working Day” (see present edition, Vol. 16, pp. 110–16). p. 227

{12} A reference to the paper which was to be published by the R.S.D.L.P. group in the Duma. Subsequently, from 1910 to 1912, the legal Bolshevik newspaper Zvezda (The Star) was published with the participation of the Duma group. p. 228

{13} This addendum was incorporated in point three of the first section of the resolution (see K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiyakh..., Part I, p. 223). p. 228

{14} Dal (Horizon)—a literary and socio-political magazine published by the liquidators in St. Petersburg. Three issues were put out: = the first in 1908, the second and third in 1909. p. 229

{15} Lenin’s proposal was incorporated in the resolution “On Legal Publishing” (see K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiyakh..., Part I, p. 232). p. 229

Works Index   |   Volume 41 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index
< backward   forward >