5th Congress

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Fifth Congress of the RSDLP. May-June 1907.

The Fifth (London) Congress occupies a significant place in the history of our party. A whole decade lies between it and the next, VI, Party Congress — periods of reaction, a new revolutionary upsurge, the imperialist war, and the February-March 1917 revolution.

The struggle of the Bolsheviks against the liberal-bourgeois policy of Menshevism, including Trotskyism (at that time a Russian variety of centrism), which reached a great acuteness at the Congress, was of tremendous international significance. The different understanding by the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks of all the questions of the revolution of 1905-1907, which at the same time were the fundamental questions of the world revolution, and the tasks of the proletariat and its party, was once again clearly revealed in the debates at the congress. And this debate at the large congress showed especially clearly two political trends throughout the Second International. The entire congress was a demonstration of the struggle between two lines in the revolution: the revolutionary proletarian — the Bolsheviks, and the bourgeois reformist — the Mensheviks.
The congress took place in the spring (May 13 - June 1), 1907, at the pass between revolution and reaction, in the conditions of the last upsurge of the revolution of 1905–1907, which replaced the period of its greatest decline — shortly before the June third coup. Analyzing in 1910 the strike movement of the three years of the revolution in connection with the main moments of its development and revealing the objective significance of the spring upsurge of 1907 from the point of view of the final results of the entire “three years of storm and onslaught”, Lenin pointed out that this period marked “a suspension of retreat and an attempt retreating again to take the offensive. " "If it were not for these interruptions," said Lenin, "the event of June 3, 1907, historically completely inevitable, since retreats remained retreats, would have taken place earlier, perhaps a whole year, or even more than a year earlier."

More clearly than ever before, it was during this period of temporary suspension of the retreat that the liberal-bourgeois positions of the Mensheviks, their openly opportunist policies, came to light. "Coordination" of social democratic and liberal-bourgeois policies, - said Lenin when summing up the results of the Fifth Congress, - such is the last word of Menshevism.

The very discussion of the agenda of the congress revealed the deepest contradictions that divided the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, who were only formally united in the RSDLP.

In the struggle around the agenda of the congress, which took many days of continuous and stormy meetings with roll-call votes, etc., the Bolsheviks succeeded in winning only one question out of the general political questions proposed by them: the attitude towards bourgeois parties. “And this question,” said Lenin, “became the head not only of all the fundamental questions of the congress, but of all work in general. It happened so and it should have happened precisely because the real source of almost all and certainly all significant differences, all differences on the practical policy of the proletariat in the Russian revolution was a different assessment of our attitude towards non-proletarian parties.

It was on this very important principled, general political question that the Bolsheviks won a victory at the congress. The resolution of the Bolsheviks was taken as a basis and then adopted as a whole, after minor amendments. True, the Mensheviks and Bundists, together with Leon Trotsky, who unsuccessfully attempted at the congress to play the role of the leader of the “non-factional” center, tried with an endless stream of all sorts of amendments to disfigure the Bolshevik resolution adopted by the congress as a basis, but they also suffered defeat here. The agenda of the congress reflects such important questions as the question of the ways of development of the bourgeois-democratic revolution with its prospect of growing into a socialist revolution, the question of the allies of the proletariat and its hegemony, etc.

The Bolsheviks also won victory on other questions of the agenda of the Congress. “At the London Congress,” Lenin summed up the work of the Congress, “the failure of the Menshevik policy towards liberalism was the most complete.”

The reader will find an exhaustive coverage of these questions in the article by Comrade Stalin in this publication. Written in 1907, immediately after the congress, Stalin's article, along with the works of Lenin, is a most valuable summary of the work of the congress.

The victory of the Bolsheviks a year after the "unification" congress of 1906, which gave "power" to the Mensheviks, was of tremendous international significance.
However, it was still far from complete victory over the Mensheviks. There was still a long struggle with these agents of the bourgeoisie in a dark period of reaction. Comrade Stalin, who took part in the work of the congress, recalls on this occasion: “It was then that I saw Lenin in the role of a winner. Usually, victory makes other leaders dizzy, arrogant and arrogant. Most often, in such cases, they begin to celebrate victory, to rest on their laurels. But Lenin did not in the least resemble such leaders. On the contrary, it was after the victory that he became especially vigilant and alert. I remember, Comrade Stalin says, how Lenin then persistently instilled in the delegates: “The first thing is not to get carried away with victory and not to boast; the second thing is to secure victory for oneself; third, to finish off the enemy, for he has only been beaten, but he has not yet been finished off.” He caustically ridiculed those delegates who frivolously assured that “from now on, the Mensheviks are finished”.

The Central Committee elected with such a balance of "forces", of course, could not prove to be efficient. The Menshevik part of the Central Committee clearly sabotaged the decisions of the Fifth Congress, leading a course towards disrupting the Central Committee and liquidating the illegal party. Therefore, the Bolshevik Center, headed by Lenin, played an enormous role in the period of dark reaction that soon followed. finalized at one of the factional conferences of the Bolsheviks during the congress. It took five years of a fierce struggle — in the conditions of the most vicious reaction and the onset of counterrevolution — against the Menshevik liquidators, with the liquidators inside out (otzovists, ultimatumists), with unscrupulous conciliators, with the centrism of the liquidator Trotsky, with tireless and disgusting opposition on the part of the opportunism and centrism of the leadership of the Second International, so that in January 1912 at the Prague Conference, which played the role of the party congress, this stage of the struggle could be completed by the complete expulsion of the liquidators.

The minutes of the V Congress were first published in 1909 in the Central Committee editions in Paris. In 1933 they were reissued. Only very recently did the IMEL receive the original protocol records preserved from the protocol committee of the congress. In this edition, the text of the minutes is checked against the existing minutes and other documents preserved with them (statements, autographs).

Lenin's reports and speeches at the congress are reproduced from the original notes (abstracts of his speeches), which Lenin submitted to the protocol commission of the congress. The most significant discrepancies (in comparison with the text of the Paris edition of the protocols) are indicated in the corresponding footnotes.
The decoding of nicknames and pseudonyms under which speakers and speakers appear in the text of the minutes was given only at the first presentation of this participant at this meeting of the Congress. In such cases, with rare exceptions, the names by which the carriers of the nicknames are best known are enclosed in straight brackets.
The documents cited in the "Supplements" to the Paris edition are regrouped and, together with other materials not included in the Paris edition, make up three independent sections. The first section ("Resolutions and Resolutions") includes, first of all, the resolutions defended by the Bolsheviks at the Congress itself, and then — the resolutions adopted by the congress.

In the second section ("Materials of the Congress"), in addition to the list, delegates and guests, statistical data on delegates, greetings and statements published in the Paris edition, -  documents of great historical party interest are included, such as: draft resolutions of the Bolsheviks, to congress, worked out by Lenin, and Lenin's report to the Fifth Congress> on the St. Petersburg split and the associated establishment ". waiting for a party court." Although these works of Lenin were included in the corresponding volumes of the Works, we nevertheless considered it extremely necessary to reproduce them in appendices to the new edition of the minutes of the congress, to which they are directly related.

The same section contains the first published minutes of two closed sessions of the congress, as well as a number of information bulletins of the congress that were released during the congress.

The third section ("Appendices") includes all other materials and documents related to the work of the congress.
The text of the program adopted at the Second Congress, given in the Paris edition, is not reproduced in this edition.
All footnotes belonging to the editors of this publication, in contrast to such notes of the protocol commission of the congress, are signed: Ed. The work on preparation for publication of this publication was done by I.V., Volkovicher. May 1935
The article by Comrade Stalin, written shortly after the Fifth Congress, was first published in 1907 in the first two issues of the Bolshevik newspaper "Bakinsky Proletary" (No. 1 of June 20 and No. 2 of July 10), signed: "Koba Ivanovich." The article was marked: “To be continued.” However, for reasons “independent” from the author (the surveillance of spies intensified by the second half of 1907, then arrest and exile), the article was never finished. I. STALIN, LONDON CONGRESS OF THE RUSSIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC WORKERS. it is in Works, Vol. 2, 1907 1913

In publishing — on behalf of the Party Central Committee — the minutes of the London Congress, we consider it necessary to clarify the following. At the beginning (after the congress itself) 2 commissions were involved in editing the minutes: the “foreign” one and the one acting inside Russia. The first of them almost prepared the minutes of the congress for publication and submitted them to the final editing and approval of the commission located in Russia. But all the work of both was lost. almost nothing since the processed text of the protocols perished during the mass arrests. After a short break, the Central Committee convened a new commission, consisting of 5 members, one each from both trends in the party (Bolshevik and Menshevik) and one each from the Social-Democratic national organizations (PSD, Lat., Bund).
The commission of the last composition had to again carry out a large work of processing the rough materials left over from the "overseas" commission. Now this work is finished, and the minutes — albeit with a huge delay — are being published. The delay is also caused by the fact that the Central Committee made a number of attempts to publish the minutes legally It failed, and we are publishing the protocols illegally.

Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee of the RSDLP