A Dissenting Opinion Recorded at the All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party by the Social-Democratic Delegates from Poland, The Lettish Territory, St. Petersburg, Moscow, The Central Industrial Region and The Volga Area

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The Second Conference of the RSDLP (“First All-Russian”) was held in Tammerfors November 3-7 (16-20), 1906, attended by 32 delegates.

The conference heard four reports on the question of the election campaign f or the Second State Duma. Lenin spoke in support of the Bolshevik platform and against a bloc with the Cadets. Mensheviks and Bundists defended a bloc with Cadets. By a majority of 15 votes to 14, the conference adopted a Menshevik resolution. As a counter to this resolution Lenin put forward a “Dissenting Opinion”, a Bolshevik platform signed by 14 delegates (6 Bolsheviks, 5 Polish and 3 Lettish Social-Democrats).

On November 6, Lenin spoke at the conference criticising the Menshevik draft election platform presented by the Central Commit tee for confirmation by the conference (the draft was published on November 3 (16) in Sotsial-Demokrat, No. 6). The conference adopted a resolution for introducing amendments into the draft election platform. On the same day Lenin spoke in the debate on the convocation of an extraordinary Party congress and insisted on the campaign for a “labour congress” being discussed as a question of violation of Party discipline.

While confirming the resolution on “Unity of the Election Campaign in the Localities”, the conference adopted an amendment of Lenin’s. The text of the resolution and Lenin’s amendment to it are given in his article “Party Discipline and the Fight Against the Pro-Cadet Social-Democrats”. The conference instructed the Central Committee to publish in the report of the conference all draft resolutions and dissenting opinions. The Menshevik Central Committee, however, published only the conference resolutions, omitting the dissenting opinion of the Bolsheviks (see Sotsial-Demokrat, No. 7).

A criticism of the work of the conference was given by Lenin (in addition to the above-mentioned article) in his article “Blocs with the Cadets” .

The tactics of boycotting the State Duma, which helped the mass of the people to form a correct opinion of the impotence and lack of independence of that institution, found complete justification in the farcical legislative activities of the State Duma and in its dissolution.

But the counter-revolutionary behaviour of the bourgeoisie and the compromising tactics of the Russian liberals prevented the immediate success of the boycott and compelled the proletariat to take up the struggle against the land lord and bourgeois counter-revolution also on the basis of the Duma campaign.

The Social-Democrats must wage this struggle outside the Duma and in the Duma itself in order to develop the class-consciousness of the proletariat, to further expose to the whole people the harmfulness of constitutional illusions, and to develop the revolution.

In view of this state of affairs, and for the purposes mentioned above, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party must take a most energetic part in the present Duma campaign.

The principal objects of the Social-Democratic election and Duma campaigns are: firstly, to explain to the people the uselessness of the Duma as a means of satisfying the demands of the proletariat and the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie, especially the peasantry. Secondly, to explain to the people the impossibility of achieving political liberty by parliamentary methods as long as the real power remains in the hands of the tsar’s government, and to explain the necessity of an armed uprising, of a provisional revolutionary government and of a constituent assembly elected by universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot. Thirdly, to criticise the First Duma and reveal the bankruptcy of Russian liberalism, and especially to show how dangerous and fatal it would be for the cause of the revolution if the liberal-monarchist Cadet Party were to play the predominant and leading role in the liberation movement.

As the class party of the proletariat, the Social-Democratic Party must remain absolutely independent throughout the election and Duma campaigns, and here, too, must under no circumstances merge its slogans or tactics with those of any other opposition or revolutionary party.

Therefore, at the first stage of the election campaign, i.e., before the masses, it must as a general rule come out absolutely independently and put forward only its own Party candidates.

Exceptions to this rule are permissible only in cases of extreme necessity and only in relation to parties that fully accept the main slogans of our immediate political struggle, i.e., those which recognise the necessity of an armed uprising and are fighting for a democratic republic. Such agreements, however, may only extend to the nomination of a joint list of candidates, without in any way restricting the independence of the political agitation carried on by the Social-Democrats.

In the workers’ curia the Social-Democratic Party must come out absolutely independently and refrain from entering into agreements with any other party.

At the higher stages of the election, i.e., at the assemblies of electors in the towns and of delegates and electors in the countryside, partial agreements may be entered into exclusively for the purpose of distributing seats proportionately to the number of votes cast for the parties entering the agreement. In this connection, the Social-Democratic Party distinguishes the following main types of bourgeois parties according to the consistency and determination of their democratic views: (a) the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Polish Socialist Party and similar republican parties,[1] (b) the Popular Socialists and the Trudoviks of a similar type;[2] (c) the Cadets.

  1. ↑ Perhaps the Zionist socialists also come under this category.[4]—Lenin
  2. ↑ Perhaps including certain Jewish democrats. We are not competent to judge of these matters without having the opinion of the Jewish Social-Democrats.—Lenin