Draft Resolutions for the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 15 February 1907


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Written on February 15-18 (February 28—March 3), 1907
Published in Proletary, No. 14, March 4, 1907. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 133-144.
Collection(s): Proletary
Keywords : Congress, RSDLP, Russia

Draft Resolutions for the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP” were published in Proletary, No. 14 (March 4, 1907), with the following introduction from the editors: “A meeting of representatives of the St. Petersburg Committee, the Moscow Committee, the Moscow Regional Committee, the Regional Bureau of the Central Industrial Region and the Proletary Editorial Board took place between February 15 and February 18 and drew up the following draft resolutions for the Congress, to serve as material for a Party discussion and preparation for the Congress on some of the most important tactical questions”. The minutes of this meeting have not survived.

The “Draft Resolutions” were printed (abridged) in the legal Bolshevik newspaper Novy Luch (New Ray), Nos. 6 and 7, on February 25 and 27 and also in the Bolshevik symposium Questions of Tactics (Second Issue) which appeared in April 1907. They were also reprinted by the Moscow Committee of the RSDLP in abridged form and with some editorial changes.

1. The Present Stage in the Democratic Revolution[edit source]

Whereas:

1. the economic crisis which Russia is now experiencing shows no signs of early abatement, and in its protracted course is continuing to create unemployment on an enormous scale in the towns and starvation in the villages;

2. as a result of this, the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between the landlords and the peasantry, and also between the government-bribed peasant bourgeoisie and the poor villagers, is becoming more acute;

3. the political history of Russia during the past year, from the First Duma to the new elections, reveals a rapid increase of political consciousness in all classes, which is reflected in the enormous strengthening of the extreme parties, in the dissipation of constitutional illusions and in the weakening of the “Centre”, i.e., the liberal-bourgeois Cadet Party, which is striving to halt the revolution by offering concessions acceptable to the Black-Hundred land lords and the autocracy;

4. the policy of the Constitutional-Democratic Party directed towards the achievement of this purpose will release only a minimum of the productive forces of bourgeois society, will not in any way satisfy the elementary needs of the proletariat and of the mass of the peasantry, and will necessitate the constant forcible suppression of these masses;

This conference declares:

I. that the political crisis that is developing before our eyes is not a constitutional but a revolutionary crisis leading to a direct struggle of the proletarian and the peasant masses against the autocracy;

2. that the forthcoming Duma campaign must therefore be regarded merely as one of the episodes in the people’s revolutionary struggle for power, and must be utilised as such;

3. that, as the party of the advanced class, the Social- Democratic Party cannot under any circumstances at present support the Cadet policy in general or a Cadet ministry in particular. The Social-Democrats must bend every effort to expose the treacherous nature of this policy to the masses; they must explain to them the revolutionary tasks confronting them; they must show the masses that only when they attain a high level of political consciousness and are strongly organised can possible concessions by the autocracy be converted from an instrument of deception and corruption into an instrument for the further development of the revolution.

2. The Attitude to the Bourgeois Parties[edit source]

Whereas:

1. the Social-Democrats are now faced with the particularly urgent task of defining the class character of the various non-proletarian parties, of assessing present class relations, and, accordingly, of defining their attitude to wards other parties;

2. the Social-Democrats have always recognised the necessity of supporting every opposition and revolutionary movement against the present social and political order in Russia;

3. it is the duty of Social-Democrats to do all in their power to enable the proletariat to act as the leader in the bourgeois-democratic revolution;

This conference declares:

1. that the Black-Hundred parties (the Union of the Russian People, the monarchists, the Council of the United Nobility,[1] etc.) are coming out more and more resolutely and definitely as the class organisation of the feudal-minded landowners, and are with increasing arrogance robbing the people of their revolutionary gains, thereby causing an inevitable intensification of the revolutionary struggle; the Social-Democratic Party must expose the close link between these parties and tsarism and the interests of big feudal landownership, and explain to the masses that an uncompromising struggle must be waged for the complete abolition of these relics of barbarism;

2. that such parties as the Union of October Seventeenth, the Commercial and Industrial Party, and to a certain ex tent the Party of Peaceful Renovation, etc., are class organisations of a section of the landowners and particularly of the big commercial and industrial bourgeoisie, which have not yet definitely come to terms with the autocratic bureaucracy on the division of power under a thoroughly undemocratic constitution of some sort based on a property qualification, but which have gone over entirely to the side of the counter-revolution and are manifestly sup porting the government[2] ; the Social-Democratic Party [while taking advantage of the conflicts between these parties and the Black-Hundred autocracy to develop the revolution] must [at the same time] carry on a most relent less struggle against these parties;

3. that the parties of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, and their principal party, the Cadets, have now definitely turned away from the revolution, and are seeking to halt it by coming to terms with the counter-revolution; that the economic basis of these parties is provided by a section of the middle landlords and the middle bourgeoisie, especially the bourgeois intelligentsia, while a section of the urban and rural petty-bourgeois democrats still follow these parties merely by force of tradition and because they are deliberately deceived by the liberals; that the ideal of these parties does not go beyond a bourgeois society of law and order, protected from the encroachments of the proletariat by a monarchy, police, a two-chamber parliamentary system, a standing army and so forth; the Social-Democrats must use the activities of these parties for the political education of the people, counteract their hypocritically democratic phraseology by consistent proletarian democracy, expose the constitutional illusions which they are spreading, and ruthlessly fight against their leadership of the democratic petty bourgeoisie;

4. that the Narodnik or Trudovik parties (the Popular Socialists, the Trudovik Group, the Socialist-Revolutionaries) come more or less close to expressing the interests and viewpoint of the broad masses of the peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie, wavering between submission to the leadership of the liberals and a determined struggle against landed proprietorship and the feudal state; these parties hide their essentially bourgeois-democratic aims be hind a more or less vague socialist ideology; the Social-Democrats must persistently expose their pseudo-socialist character and combat their efforts to obliterate the class distinction between the proletarian and the small proprietor; at the same time they must exert every effort to free these parties from the influence and leadership of the liberals, and compel them to choose between the policy of the Cadets and that of the revolutionary proletariat and thus compel them to side with the Social-Democrats against the Black Hundreds and the Cadets;

5. the joint action ensuing here from must preclude all possibility of deviation from the Social-Democratic programme and tactics, and must serve only for the purpose of making a united and simultaneous onslaught against reaction and against the treacherous liberal bourgeoisie.

Note: The words in square brackets are those deleted by the minority, which proposed the amended wording quoted above.

3. The Class Tasks of the Proletariat at the Present Stage of the Democratic Revolution[edit source]

Whereas:

1. the democratic revolution in Russia is heading for a new upswing; the big capitalist and landlord class is taking the side of counter-revolution, while new strata of the petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry, following the example of the proletariat, are coming over to the revolution;

2. the class interests of the proletariat in the bourgeois revolution are such that,conditions must be created for the most successful struggle for socialism against the propertied classes;

3. the only possible way to create and secure these conditions is to carry the democratic revolution to its completion, i.e., to win a democratic republic, the complete sovereignty of the people and the minimum of social and economic gains necessary for the proletariat (the eight-hour day and other demands of the Social-Democratic minimum programme);

4. only the proletariat can bring the democratic revolution to its consummation, the condition being that the proletariat, as the only thoroughly revolutionary class in modern society, leads the mass of the peasantry, and imparts political consciousness to its struggle against landed proprietorship and the feudal st.ate;

5. the role of leader in the democratic revolution provides the proletariat with the greatest opportunity to improve its social and economic position, develop its class-consciousness in every way, and pursue its class activities not only in the economic, but also in the wide political sphere;

This conference declares:

1. that the main task of the proletariat at the present moment of history is to consummate the democratic revolution in Russia;

2. that any belittling of this task will inevitably have the result of converting the working class from the leader of the people’s revolution, carrying with it the mass of the democratic peasantry, into a passive participant of the revolution, trailing behind the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie;

3. that all organisations of the Party must guide the activities of the proletariat in carrying out this task, with out for a moment losing sight of the independent socialist aims of the proletariat.

4. The Tactics of the Social-Democrats in the State Duma[edit source]

1. The correctness of the tactics of boycotting the State Duma, which helped the masses to make a proper appraisal of the impotence and lack of independence of this institution, was fully confirmed by the farcical legislative activities of the First State Duma and by its dissolution;

2. however, 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 accept battle with the landlord and bourgeois counter-revolution, using the arena of the Duma campaign as well;

3. the Social-Democrats must wage this struggle, out side the Duma and within the Duma, to develop the class-consciousness of the proletariat, strengthen and expand its organisation, further expose constitutional illusions in the eyes of the people, and promote the development of the revolution;

4. the Social-Democrats’ immediate political tasks in the forthcoming Duma campaign are: (1) to make clear to the people the complete unfitness of the Duma as a means of realising the demands of the proletariat and of the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie, especially of the peasantry; (2) to make clear to the people the impossibility of achieving political freedom by parliamentary means as long as real power remains in the hands of the tsarist government; to make clear the necessity of insurrection, of a provisional revolutionary government, and of a constituent assembly elected on the basis of universal, direct and equal suffrage and a secret ballot;

5. to carry out its fundamental socialist, as well as immediate political, tasks, the Social-Democratic Party, as the class party of the proletariat, must remain absolutely independent, must form a Social-Democratic group in the Duma, and should under no circumstances merge its slogans or tactics with those of any other oppositional or revolutionary party;

6. with particular reference to the activities of the revolutionary Social-Democrats in the Duma, the following questions, which are being raised by the whole course of political life at the present moment, must be clarified:

(1) as one of our Party organisations, the Social-Democratic group in the Duma should see its primary function in carrying on work of criticism, propaganda, agitation and organisation. This, and not immediate “legislative” objectives, should be the purpose of the bills the Social-Democratic group will introduce in the Duma, particularly on such questions as improving the standard of living, securing freedom for the class struggle of the proletariat, overthrowing the feudal yoke of the landlords in tile rural districts, giving aid to the starving peasants, combating unemployment, releasing the sailors and soldiers from the slave conditions at army barracks, etc.;

(2) the tsarist government will certainly not surrender its positions until the decisive victory of the revolutionary people has been achieved and, consequently, a conflict between the Duma and the government is inevitable what ever tactics the Duma pursues, other than treacherous sacrifice of the people’s interests to the Black Hundreds; the Social-Democratic group and the Social-Democratic Party, taking into consideration only the course of the revolutionary crisis that is developing outside of the Duma as a consequence of objective conditions, must, therefore, neither promote premature conflicts nor artificially avert or postpone a conflict by modifying their slogans, for this would only discredit the Social-Democrats in the eyes of the masses and cut them off from the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat;

(3) exposing the bourgeois nature of all the non-proletarian parties and opposing all their Duma bills, etc., with their own, the Social-Democrats must constantly fight against Cadet leadership in the movement for freedom, and compel the democratic petty bourgeoisie to choose between the hypocritical democracy of the Cadets and the consistent democracy of the proletariat.

5. The Intensification of Mass Destitution and of the Economic Struggle[edit source]

Whereas:

1. a number of facts testify to the extreme intensification of destitution among the proletariat and also of its economic struggle (the lock-out in Poland, the movement among the workers of St. Petersburg and Ivanovo-Voznesensk against the high cost of living, the extensive strike movement in the Moscow industrial area, the urgent calls of the trade union organisations to prepare for an intense struggle, etc.);

2. all signs go to show that these various manifestations of the economic struggle are accumulating to such an extent that there is every reason to expect mass, economic action all over the country, involving far larger sections of the proletariat than before;

3. the whole history of the Russian revolution shows that all the powerful upsurges of the revolutionary movement began only on the basis of such mass economic movements;

This conference declares:

1. that all Party organisations must pay most serious attention to these circumstances, collect fuller information about them, and that this question should be put on the agenda of the Fifth Party Congress;

2. that the greatest possible number of Party members must be concentrated on economic agitation among the masses;

3. that this economic movement must be regarded as the main source and foundation of the entire revolutionary crisis that is developing in Russia.

6. Non-Party Workers’ Organisations and the Anarcho-Syndicalist Trend Among the Proletariat[edit source]

Whereas:

1. in connection with Comrade Axelrod’s agitation for a non-Party labour congress, a trend (represented by Larin, Shcheglo, El, Ivanovsky, Mirov, and the Odessa publication Osvobozhdeniye Truda) has appeared in the ranks of the RSDLP, the aim of which is to destroy the Social-Democratic Labour Party and to set up in its place a non-party political organisation of the proletariat;

2. besides this, outside of and actually against the Party, anarcho-syndicalist agitation is being carried on among the proletariat, using this same slogan of a non-party labour congress and non-party organisations (Soyuznoye Dyelo and its group in Moscow, the anarchist press in Odessa, etc.);

3. notwithstanding the resolution passed by the November All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP, a series of disruptive actions has been observed in our Party, with the object of setting up non-party organisations;

4. on the other hand, the RSDLP has never renounced its intention of utilising certain non-party organisations, such as the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, in periods of wore or less intense revolutionary upheaval, to extend Social-Democratic influence among the working class and to strengthen the Social-Democratic labour movement (see the September resolutions of the St. Petersburg Committee and the Moscow Committee on the labour congress, in Proletary, Nos. 3 and 4[3]);

5. the incipient revival creates the opportunity to organise or utilise non-party representative working-class institutions, such as Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, Soviets of Workers’ Delegates, etc., for the purpose of developing the Social-Democratic movement; at the same time the Social-Democratic Party organisations must bear in mind that if Social-Democratic activities among the proletarian masses are properly, effectively and widely organised, such institutions may actually become superfluous;

This conference declares:

1. that a most determined ideological struggle must be waged against the anarcho-syndicalist movement among the proletariat and against Axelrod’s and Larin’s ideas in the Social-Democratic Party;

2. that a most determined struggle must be waged against all disruptive and demagogic attempts to weaken the R.S.D.L.p. from within or to utilise it for the purpose of substituting non-party political, proletarian organisations for the Social-Democratic Party;

3. that Social-Democratic Party organisations may, in case of necessity, participate in inter-party Soviets of Workers’ Delegates, Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, and in congresses of representatives of these organisations, and may organise such institutions, provided this is done on strict Party lines for the purpose of developing and strengthening the Social-Democratic Labour Party;

4. that for the purpose of extending and strengthening the influence of the Social-Democratic party among the broad masses of the proletariat, it is essential, on the one hand, to increase efforts to organise trade unions and con duct Social-Democratic propaganda and agitation within them, and, on the other hand, to draw still larger sections of the working class into the activities of all types of Party organisations.

  1. Council of the United Nobility—a counter-revolutionary organisation of feudal landowners established in May 1906 at the First Congress of Representatives of Gubernia Assemblies of the Nobility that existed until October 1917. The purpose of the organisation was the defence of the autocracy, the big landed estates and the privileges of the nobility. Lenin called it a “council of united serf-owners”. The Council of the United Nobility was in reality a semi-governmental organisation that dictated to the government legislative measures for the protection of its feudal interests. A large number of the Council’s members belonged to the Council of State and the leading centres of the Black Hundreds.
  2. Wording proposed by the minority: “... of the bourgeoisie which have entirely gone over to the side of the counter-revolution, are manifestly supporting the government, and whose object is to secure a thoroughly undemocratic constitution based on a property qualification.” —Lenin
  3. A meeting of workers from the various St. Petersburg districts was held in September 1906 to discuss the question of a labour congress. By a majority of 74 votes to 11, a resolution was adopted condemning the Menshevik idea of a labour congress. The resolution pointed out that agitation for a non-party labour congress “would lead to the concealment of the difference between party and class, would mean lowering Social-Democratic consciousness to the level of the less developed strata of the proletariat” and “could only do harm to the proletarian cause”. The resolution was published in Proletary, No. 3, on September 8, 1906.
    In September of the same year, a second regular conference was held of Social-Democratic organisations in Central Russia. The conference was attended by representatives of the Moscow, Moscow Regional, Kostroma, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Bryansk, Nizhni-Novgorod, Tver, Sormovo, Smolensk, Yaroslavl, Orel, Yelets, Tver Regional organisation, Vologda, Tambov, and also of the Central Committee and the Proletary Editorial Board. Among other things the conference discussed the question of a labour congress, a report on the matter being delivered by a representative of the Proletary Board. The conference adopted a resolution recognising agitation for a non-party labour congress as “harmful demagogy, distracting class-conscious workers from the task of consolidating and strengthening their Social-Democratic Party”.