The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Party of Lenin and Trotsky Meets on July 26

Jul 31, 2017

Despite the repression that followed the July Days, as well as Lenin's absence and the imprisonment of several leaders including Trotsky, the Congress of the Bolshevik Party took place on the expected date. This was an important date in the history of the Russian revolutionary movement. On the level of its program, the Congress essentially limited itself to ratifying Lenin's April Theses. But, in their absence it marked the complete agreement between Lenin and Trotsky from that moment forward. It was then that the “Party of Lenin and Trotsky” would form, lasting for the entire length of the revolutionary period. Trotsky writes in his History of the Russian Revolution:

“The Joint Congress opened on July 26th – in essence the 6th Congress of the Bolshevik Party – and it conducted its meetings semi-legally, concealing itself alternately in two different workers’ districts. There were 175 delegates, 157 with a vote, representing 112 organizations, comprising 176,750 members. In Petrograd, there were 41,000 members: 36,000 in the Bolshevik organization, 4,000 Mezhrayontsi [Trotsky’s organization], and about 1,000 in the Military Organization. In the central industrial regions, of which Moscow is the focus, the party had 42,000 members; in the Urals 25,000; in the Donetz Basin about 15,000. In the Caucasus, big Bolshevik organizations were to be found in Baku, Grozny, and Tiflis. The first two were almost wholly composed of workers; in Tiflis the soldiers predominated.…

“‘At that congress,’ as Piatnitsky, one of the present secretaries of the Communist International, later remembered, ‘neither Lenin, nor Trotsky, nor Zinoviev, nor Kamenev was present.… Although the question of the party program was withdrawn from the agenda, nevertheless the congress went off well and in a businesslike way without the leaders of the party.’ At the basis of the work lay the theses of Lenin. Bukharin and Stalin made the principal reports. The report of Stalin is a good measure of the distance traveled by the speaker himself, along with all the cadres of the party, in the four months since Lenin’s arrival. With a lack of theoretical self-confidence, but with political decisiveness, Stalin tries to name over those features which define ‘the deep character of a socialist workers’ revolution.’ The unanimity of this Congress in comparison with the April one is noticeable at once.

“On the subject of elections to the Central Committee, the report of the Congress reads: ‘The names of the four members of the Central Committee receiving the most votes are read aloud: Lenin – 133 votes out of 134. Zinoviev 132, Kamenev 131, and Trotsky 131. Besides these four, the following members were elected to the Central Committee: Nogin, Kollontai, Stalin, Sverdlov, Rykov, Bukharin, Artem, Joffe, Uritsky, Milyutin, Lomov.’ The membership of this Central Committee should be well noted. Under its leadership, the October Revolution is to be achieved.…

“Sverdlov, the practical organizer of the Congress, reported: ‘Trotsky had already before the Congress joined the editorial staff of our paper, but his imprisonment prevented his actual participation.’ It was only at this July Congress that Trotsky formally joined the Bolshevik Party. The balance was here struck to years of disagreement and factional struggle. Trotsky came to Lenin as to a teacher whose power and significance he understood later than many others, but perhaps more fully than they.… To this we may add that the mere number of votes cast for Trotsky in electing him to the Central Committee proves that even at the very moment of his entrance into the Party, nobody in Bolshevik circles looked upon him as an outsider.

“Invisibly present at the Congress, Lenin introduced into its work a spirit of responsibility and audacity. The founder and teacher of this party could not endure slovenliness, either in theory or in practical politics. He knew that an incorrect economic formula, like an inattentive political observation, takes cruel vengeance in the hour of action. In defending his fastidiously attentive attitude to every party text, even the secondary ones, Lenin said more than once: ‘This is not a trivial detail. We must have accuracy. Our agitators will learn this and not go astray…’ ‘We have a good party,’ he would add, having in view just this serious, meticulous attitude of the rank-and-file agitator upon the question what to say and how to say it.”