Resolutions of the Summer, 1913, Joint Conference of the Central Committee of the RSDLP and Party Officials
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 417-431.
The Joint Conference of the Central Committee of the RSDLP and Party Officials (for purposes of secrecy it was known as “the summer” or “August” Conference), was held from September 23 to October 1 (October 6–14), 1913 in the village of Poronin (near Cracow) where Lenin spent the summer months. The Conference was attended by twenty-two delegates (17 with a vote and 5 with voice but no vote). Sixteen delegates represented local Party organisations: St. Petersburg—Inessa Armand, A. Y. Badayev and A. V. Shotman; Moscow and the Central Industrial Area—F. A. Balashov, Y. T. Novozhilov, R. V. Malinovsky and A. I. Lobov (the two last-named were found to be provocateurs); Ekaterinoslav—G. I. Petrovsky; Kharkov—M. K. Muranov; Kostroma—N. R. Shagov; Kiev—Y. F. Rozmirovich (“Galina”); Urals—S. I. Deryabina (“Sima”, “Elena”). Lenin, Krupskaya, Troyanovsky and others represented the Central Committee Bureau Abroad, the Central Organ of the Party Sotsial-Demokrat and the magazine Prosveshcheniye. The Bolshevik deputies to the Fourth Duma also represented the Party organisations in the constituencies and towns that elected them to the Duma. Representatives of the Left wing of the Polish Social-Democratic Party, J. S. Hanecki, G. Kamenski (“Domski”) and others attended; these delegates had a voice but no vote.
The Conference discussed the following questions: = (1) reports from the localities, report on the work of the Polish Social-Democrats, report on the work of the Central Committee; = (2) the national question; = (3) the work of Social-Democrats in the Duma; = (4) the situation in the Social-Democratic Duma group; = (5) the question of organisation and the Party congress; = (6) the strike movement; = (7) work in legal associations; = (8) the Narodniks; = (9) the Party press; = (10) the forthcoming International Socialist Congress in Vienna. The first two days were devoted to a private conference of the Duma deputies on questions of practical work in the Duma.
Lenin guided the work of the Conference; he opened the meeting with an introductory speech and delivered reports on the work of the Central Committee, the national question and the International Socialist Congress in Vienna; Lenin also spoke on almost all the points of the agenda, made proposals and compiled or edited the draft resolutions.
Reports from the localities told of the growth of the working-class movement. The Conference decided in favour of united All-Russian Party work to guide the actions of the working class on a country-wide scale.
Lenin’s report on the Central Committee activity summarised what had been done since the Prague Conference in 1912. In his report on the Vienna International Socialist Congress Lenin proposed sending as many delegates as possible from both legal and illegal organisations, and suggested the holding of a Party congress at the same time as the International Congress. The Conference ended with Lenin’s closing speech.
The minutes of the Conference at Poronin have not been found. The resolutions were published as a separate pamphlet under the title Notification and Resolutions of the Summer, 1913, Joint Conference of the Central Committee of the RSDLP and Party Officials, issued abroad by the Central Committee. For reasons of secrecy some of the resolutions were not printed in full; omitted were point 6 of the resolution on the strike movement and points 1–5 of the resolution on the Party press. The full texts of the resolutions were published illegally in a mimeographed edition.
The Tasks of Agitation in the Present Situation[edit source]
1. The situation in the country is becoming increasingly acute. The rule of the reactionary landowners is causing increasing discontent even among the most moderate sect ions of the population. The obstacle to anything like real political liberty in Russia is still the tsarist monarchy, which is hostile to all real reform, protects only the power and revenues of the feudal landowners, and suppresses with exceptional cruelty every manifestation of the working-class movement.
2. The working class continues to act as the leader of the revolutionary struggle for nation-wide liberation. The mass revolutionary strike movement continues to grow. The genuine struggle waged by the advanced contingents of the working class is proceeding under revolutionary slogans.
Owing to the very circumstances of the struggle the mass economic movement, which in many cases starts with the most elementary demands, is to an increasing degree merging with the revolutionary working-class movement.
It is the task of the advanced workers to accelerate by their agitational and educational activities the process of uniting the proletariat under the revolutionary slogans of the present epoch. Only in this way will the advanced workers succeed in fulfilling their other task of rousing the peasant and urban democrats.
3. The working-class struggle, which is proceeding under revolutionary slogans, has compelled the liberal-Octobrist bourgeoisie and a section of the manufacturer’s to talk volubly about the need for reforms in general, and for limited freedom of association in particular. While feverishly organising in employers’ associations, introducing insurance against strikes and calling upon the government to harass the working-class movement systematically, the bourgeoisie is at the same time urging the workers to abandon their revolutionary demands and to confine themselves instead to individual constitutional reforms and a semblance of freedom of association. The working class should take advantage of every sign of vacillation on the part of the government as well as of disagreements between the bourgeoisie and the reactionary camp, to intensify its attack in both the economic and political fields of struggle. But to be able to make good use of the situation the working class must continue to adhere to the platform of full-blooded revolutionary slogans.
4. This being the general state of affairs, the task of the Social-Democrats is to continue to conduct extensive revolutionary agitation among the masses for the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a democratic republic. Vivid examples from real life must be used continuously to demonstrate all the harmfulness of reformism, i.e., the tactics of putting demands for partial improvement to the fore instead of revolutionary slogans.
5. In their agitation in favour of freedom of association and for partial reforms in general, the liquidators descend to liberalism. Actually, they deny that it is necessary to conduct revolutionary agitation among the masses, and in their press they frankly declare that the slogans “democratic republic” and “confiscation of the land” cannot serve as subjects for agitation among the masses. They advocate freedom of association as the all-inclusive slogan of the day, and, in fact, urge it as a substitute for the revolutionary demands of 1905.
6. This Conference, giving warning of the pernicious, reformist agitation of the liquidators, points out again that the RSDLP long ago advanced in its minimum programme the demands for freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc., closely linking these demands with the revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of the tsarist monarchy. This Conference confirms the resolution of the January 1912 Conference, which states: “The Conference calls upon all Social-Democrats to explain to the workers the paramount importance to the proletariat of freedom of association; this demand must always be closely linked up with our general political demands and our revolutionary agitation among the masses.”
The main slogans of the epoch still are: (1) a democratic republic; (2) confiscation of the landed estates; (3) an 8-hour day. Freedom of association is included here as part of the whole.
Resolution on the Organisational Question and On the Party Congress[edit source]
1. The reports from the localities have shown that the most urgent organisational task is not only to consolidate the leading Party organisations in every town, but also to link up the towns with each other.
2. As a first step towards regional amalgamation this Conference recommends the organisation of meetings (and where possible conferences) of comrades from different centres of the working-class movement. Every effort must be made to have all branches of Party activity represented at these meetings: political, trade union, insurance, co-operative, etc.
3. This Conference affirms that for the purpose of coordinating activities throughout Russia, the system of having representatives of the Central Committee is absolutely essential. A beginning has only just been made in applying the decision on representatives adopted by the February Conference. Advanced workers in the districts should see to it that such representatives are appointed at least in every large centre of the working-class movement, and as many of them as possible.
4. This Conference places on the order of the day the question of convening a Party congress. The growth of the working-class movement, the maturing of a political crisis in the country and the need for united working-class actions on a nation-wide scale, make it necessary and possible to convene such a congress—after adequate preparations for it have been made.
5. This Conference invites the comrades in the districts, when discussing this subject, to make suggestions for the congress agenda, for the desirable date of convocation, for draft resolutions, etc.
6. This Conference points out that apart from other difficulties, the problem of meeting the expenses of the congress can also be solved only by the workers themselves.
This Conference calls upon the comrades to start a fund for the convocation of the Party congress.
The Strike Movement[edit source]
1. This Conference confirms the resolutions of the January 1912 Conference, and of the February 1913 Conference, which contains an appraisal of the strike movement fully borne out by the experience of the past few months.
2. Characteristic of the new stage of revival of the revolutionary strike is the movement in Moscow and the rising temper in several districts hitherto unaffected by the movement.
3. This Conference welcomes the initiative taken by the St. Petersburg Committee and by a number of Party groups in Moscow in raising the question of a general political strike, and in taking steps in this direction in July and September this year.
4. This Conference affirms that the movement is approaching the moment when it will be opportune to bring up the question of a general political strike. Systematic agitation in preparation for this strike must be started everywhere immediately.
5. The slogans for these political strikes, which must be vigorously disseminated, should be the fundamental revolutionary demands of the day: a democratic republic; an 8-hour day; confiscation of the landed estates.
6. This Conference calls upon all local Party officials to develop an extensive leaflet propaganda and to establish the most regular and closest communication possible between the political and other working-class organisations of the various cities. It is particularly necessary to secure coordination of activities primarily between the St. Petersburg and Moscow workers, so that the political strikes that are likely to arise from various causes (persecution of the press, strikes to enforce insurance, etc.) may as far as possible take place simultaneously in both cities.
The Party Press[edit source]
1. This Conference points to the vast importance of the legal press for Social-Democratic agitation and organisation, and therefore calls upon Party bodies and upon all class-conscious workers to increase their assistance to the legal press by securing for it the widest possible circulation, and by organising mass collective subscriptions and regular collections of contributions. The Conference reaffirms that such contributions are counted as Party membership dues.
2. Special efforts must be made to consolidate the legal workers’ newspaper in = Moscow and to issue a workers’ newspaper in the South at the earliest possible date.
3. This Conference expresses the desire that the closest possible contact be established between the existing legal working-class periodicals by means of an exchange of information, arrangement of conferences, etc.
4. Recognising the importance of a theoretical organ of Marxism and the need for one, this Conference expresses the desire that all the organs of the Party and trade union press should make the workers familiar with the magazine Prosveshcheniye, and urge them to subscribe to it regularly and to render it their systematic support.
5. This Conference draws the attention of Party publishing houses to the great need to publish an extensive series of popular, Social-Democratic agitation and propaganda pamphlets.
6. In view of the recent intensification of the revolutionary mass struggle, and of the need to report on it in the fullest detail (which the legal press cannot do), this Conference calls special attention to the need to stimulate in every way the development of underground Party publishing activities; in addition to publishing illegal leaflets, pamphlets, etc., it is absolutely essential to secure the more frequent and regular issue of the illegal Party organ (the Central Organ).
Social-Democratic Activities In the Duma[edit source]
Having examined in detail the resolution of the RSDLP on the Social-Democratic group in the Duma, adopted at the December 1908, Conference, and having discussed all the facts concerning the activities of the Social-Democrats in the Fourth Duma, this Conference affirms:
1. that the aforesaid resolution quite correctly defined the aims and objects of Social-Democratic activities in the Duma, and that this resolution must therefore continue to serve as a guide to these activities in the future;
2. that the last subsection of Point 3 (3 h) of the December resolution (on voting or abstaining from voting on questions concerning the improvement of the conditions of the workers) should be interpreted as follows. If bills, motions, etc., concern immediate and direct improvements in conditions for workers, minor salaried employees and working people generally (for example, reduction of hours, increase of wages, the removal of even minor evils in the lives of the workers and of broad sections of the population in general, etc.), the clauses that provide for such improvements should be voted for.
In cases when the conditions the Fourth Duma attaches to these improvements make them dubious, the group should abstain from voting, but must unfailingly formulate its motives for so doing, after having first discussed the question with representatives of workers’ organisations.
This Conference affirms that:
on all questions, important bills, etc., the Socialist-Democratic group in the Duma must independently formulate its own motion to pass on to next business.
In cases of the group’s vote against the government, after the Social-Democratic motion has been rejected, coinciding with the vote of other parties, the group must endeavour to formulate its own motives for voting for another party’s motion, or part of a motion.
The Social-Democratic Group In the Duma[edit source]
This Conference is of the opinion that united action on the part of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma is possible and essential.
This Conference affirms, however, that the conduct of the seven deputies gravely jeopardises the unity of the group.
Taking advantage of their accidental majority of one, the seven deputies encroach on the elementary rights of the six workers’ deputies, who represent the overwhelming majority of the workers of Russia.
The seven deputies, guided by narrow factional interests, deprive the six deputies of the opportunity to speak in the Duma on very important questions affecting the lives of the workers. In several cases, when the Social-Democratic group put up two or more speakers, the six deputies were not given an opportunity in spite of repeated demands to put up their own speaker.
Similarly, in appointing representatives to various Duma committees (for example, the Budget Committee) the seven deputies refuse to allow the six to have one of the two places.
When the group elects representatives to bodies that are of importance to the working-class movement, the seven deputies, by a majority of one, deprive the six of all representation. The staff that serves the group is always elected in a biased manner (for example, the demand for a second secretary was rejected).
This Conference is of the opinion that such conduct on the part of the seven deputies inevitably gives rise to friction in the group, which hinders united action and threatens to split the group.
This Conference protests most emphatically against this conduct on the part of the seven deputies.
The six deputies represent the overwhelming majority of the workers of Russia and act in complete harmony with the political line of its organised vanguard.
This Conference is therefore of the opinion that united action on the part of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma is possible only if the two sections of the group enjoy equal rights, and if the seven deputies abandon their steam roller tactics.
Notwithstanding irreconcilable disagreements in spheres of activity outside as well as inside the Duma, this Conference demands that the group should maintain unity on the basis of the aforesaid equality of rights of its two sections.
This Conference invites class-conscious workers to express their opinion on this important question and to exert all efforts to help preserve the unity of the group on the only possible basis, that of equal rights for the six workers’ deputies.
Work In Legal Associations[edit source]
1. In the present period of revival of the economic and political struggle of the working class it is particularly necessary to intensify activities in all the legal working-class associations (trade unions, clubs, sick benefit societies, co-operative societies, and so forth).
2. All activities in legal working-class associations must be conducted not in a neutral spirit, but in keeping with the spirit of the decisions of the London Congress of the RSDLP and of the International Congress in Stuttgart. Social-Democrats should recruit members for all working-class associations from the widest possible working-class circles, and urge all workers to join them irrespective of their party opinions. But the Social-Democrats in these associations should form themselves into Party groups and by prolonged and systematic activities secure the establishment of the closest relations between the associations and the Social-Democratic Party.
3. The experience of the international and of our Russian working-class movement teaches that it is necessary from the very inception of such working-class organisations (trade unions, co-operative societies, clubs, etc.) to strive to convert every one of them into a stronghold of the Social-Democratic Party. This Conference urges all Party members to bear this important task in mind, for it is a particularly urgent one in Russia, where the liquidators are making systematic efforts to utilise the legal societies against the Party.
4. This Conference is of the opinion that in electing delegates to the sick benefit societies, in all trade union activities, etc., it is necessary, while upholding the complete unity of the movement and the submission of the minority to the majority, to pursue the Party line, secure the election of supporters of the Party for all responsible posts, etc.
5. For the purpose of summing up the experience of practical activities in legal working-class societies it is desirable to arrange more frequent conferences with active participants in the work of local legal working-class organisations and to invite to general Party conferences as large a number as possible of representatives of Party groups operating in these legal societies.
Resolution on the National Question[edit source]
The orgy of Black-Hundred nationalism, the growth of nationalist tendencies among the liberal bourgeoisie and the growth of nationalist tendencies among the upper classes of the oppressed nationalities, give prominence at the present time to the national question.
The state of affairs in the Social-Democratic movement (the attempts of the Caucasian Social-Democrats, the Bund and the liquidators to annul the Party Programme, etc.) compels the Party to devote more attention than ever to this question.
This Conference, taking its stand on the Programme of the RSDLP, and in order to organise correctly Social-Democratic agitation on the national question, advances the following propositions:
1. Insofar as national peace is in any way possible in a capitalist society based on exploitation, profit-making and strife, it is attainable only under a consistently and thoroughly democratic republican system of government which guarantees full equality of all nations and languages, which recognises no compulsory official language, which provides the people with schools where instruction is given in all the native languages, and the constitution of which contains a fundamental law that prohibits any privileges whatsoever to any one nation and any encroachment whatsoever upon the rights of a national minority. This particularly calls for wide regional autonomy and fully democratic local self-government, with the boundaries of the self-governing and autonomous regions determined by the local inhabitants themselves on the basis of their economic and social conditions, national make-up of the population, etc.
2. The division of the educational affairs of a single state according to nationalities is undoubtedly harmful from the standpoint of democracy in general, and of the interests of the proletarian class struggle in particular. It is precisely this division that is implied in the plan for “cultural-national” autonomy, or for “the creation of institutions that will guarantee freedom for national development” adopted in Russia by all the Jewish bourgeois parties and by the petty-bourgeois, opportunist elements among the different nations.
3. The interests of the working class demand the amalgamation of the workers of all the nationalities in a given state in united proletarian organisations—political, trade union, co-operative, educational, etc. This amalgamation of the workers of different nationalities in single organisations will alone enable the proletariat to wage a victorious struggle against international capital and reaction, and combat the propaganda and aspirations of the landowners, clergy and bourgeois nationalists of all nations, who usually cover up their anti-proletarian aspirations with the slogan of “national culture”. The world working-class movement is creating and daily developing more and more an international proletarian culture.
4. As regards the right of the nations oppressed by the tsarist monarchy to self-determination, i.e., the right to secede and form independent states, the Social-Democratic Party must unquestionably champion this right. This is dictated by the fundamental principles of international democracy in general, and specifically by the unprecedented national Oppression of the majority of the inhabitants of Russia by the tsarist monarchy, which is a most reactionary and barbarous state compared with its neighbouring states in Europe and Asia. Furthermore, this is dictated by the struggle of the Great-Russian inhabitants themselves for freedom, for it will be impossible for them to create a democratic state if they do not eradicate Black-Hundred, Great-Russian nationalism, which is backed by the traditions of a number of bloody suppressions of national movements and systematically fostered not only by the tsarist monarchy and all the reactionary parties, but also by the Great-Russian bourgeois liberals, who toady to the monarchy, particularly in the period of counter-revolution.
5. The right of nations to self-determination (i.e., the constitutional guarantee of an absolutely free and democratic method of deciding the question of secession) must under no circumstances be confused with the expediency of a given nation’s secession. The Social-Democratic Party must decide the latter question exclusively on its merits in each particular case in conformity with the interests of social development as a whole and with the interests of the proletarian class struggle for socialism.
Social-Democrats must moreover bear in mind that the landowners, the clergy and the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations often cover up with nationalist slogans their efforts to divide the workers and dupe them by doing deals behind their backs with the landowners and bourgeoisie of the ruling nation to the detriment of the masses of the working people of all nations.
This Conference places on the agenda of the Party congress the question of the national programme. It invites the Central Committee, the Party press and the local organisations to discuss (in pamphlets, debates, etc.) the national question in fullest detail.
The Narodniks[edit source]
1. The London Congress, in summing up the activities of the Narodnik parties—including, among others, the Socialist-Revolutionary Party—in the period of revolution, definitely stated that these parties constantly vacillated between submission to the hegemony of the liberals and deter mined struggle against landed proprietorship and the feudal state; and it also pointed to the pseudo-socialist character of their propaganda, which tones down the antagonism between the proletarian and the small proprietor.
2. The period of reaction has brought out these features still more strongly, for, on the one hand, the Socialist-Revolutionary Party has abandoned a consistently democratic policy, and certain elements in it are even criticising the revolution, thereby following in the footsteps of the liberals; on the other hand, this party has been reduced to a mere group of intellectuals divorced from the life of the masses.
3. The Socialist-Revolutionary Party officially continues to advocate terrorism, the history of which in Russia has fully confirmed the correctness of Social-Democratic criticism of this form of struggle, and which ended in complete defeat. Furthermore, its boycott of the elections and the complete inability of this organisation of intellectuals to exercise systematic influence on the course of the social development of the country have brought it about that no where has this party been in the slightest degree a factor in the new revival of the revolutionary movement.
4. The petty-bourgeois socialism of the Narodniks reduces itself to the pernicious preaching to the working class of ideas that obscure the ever-widening gulf between the interests of labour and capital and tone down the acuteness of the class struggle; it fosters petty-bourgeois utopias in the sphere of co-operation.
5. The Narodniks are greatly hindered in conducting republican-democratic propaganda among large masses of the peasantry by their vacillation in the struggle for democratic slogans, their narrow group character and their petty-bourgeois prejudices. The interests of this propaganda itself therefore demand, in the first place, strong criticism of the Narodniks by the Social-Democrats.
This Conference does not by any means reject the joint action with the Narodnik parties especially provided for by the London Congress, but suggests that the tasks of the Social-Democrats are:
a) to expose the vacillations and tendency to abandon consistent democracy that are manifesting themselves in the Narodnik parties;
b) to combat the petty-bourgeois socialism of the Narodniks, which tends to obscure the gulf between capital and labour;
c) to support the republican-democratic trends among the peasant masses and constantly point out to them that only the consistently democratic socialist proletariat can serve as a reliable leader of the masses of the poorer peasants in their struggle against monarchy and landed proprietorship;
d) to devote greater attention to the propagation of Social-Democratic ideas among the groups of workers—although these are not numerous—who have not yet rid them selves of the obsolete theories of Narodism.
- See present edition, Vol. 17, p. 480.—Ed.
- It was intended to hold the Party congress at the same time as the International Socialist Congress, which would have made it easier to keep secret the preparations for calling it. Intensive preparations for the congress were made during the spring and summer of 1914, but owing to the outbreak of war the congress was not held.
- See present edition, Vol. 17, pp. 465–68 and Vol. 18, pp. 456–58. —Fd. —Lenin
- The Editorial Board of the Central Organ, which was instructed to publish the resolutions of the Conference, added a reference to the September events that fully confirmed the correctness of these resolutions. —Lenin
- The newspaper referred to was Nash Put (Our Path) published in Moscow from August 25 to September 12 (September 7–25), 1913. The paper was launched on Lenin’s proposal and under his guidance; Lenin sent his articles simultaneously to Pravda and to Nash Put. Among the contributors to Nash Put were Maxim Gorky, the Bolshevik deputies to the Fourth Duma, Demyan Bedny, M. S. Olminsky and I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov. The newspaper was popular among the workers and received immense help from them; 395 groups of workers supported the paper by monetary collections. Its daily circulation was from 17,000 to 20,000 copies.
The newspaper was persistently persecuted by the police and finally suppressed; only 16 issues appeared. Moscow workers responded to the suppression of Nash Put with mass strikes in pro test against the persecution of the working-class press. They did not, however, succeed in re-starting the paper.
- The Central Organ of the RSDLP, the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat, began appearing illegaly in February 1908. The first issue was printed in Russia but owing to the arrest of the editors and destruction of the printing-press the paper was moved out of the country—first to Paris and then to Geneva. Altogether 58 issues appeared.
In accordance with a decision of the Central Committee of the RSDLP the Editorial Board was composed of representatives of the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Polish Social-Democrats. The newspaper printed Lenin’s articles giving guidance to the Party. On the Editorial Board Lenin conducted a struggle for a consistently Bolshevik line. Some of the editors (Kamenev and Zinoviev) adopted a line of conciliation towards the liquidators and attempt ed to prevent Lenin’s political line from being implemented. The Mensheviks Martov and Dan sabotaged the work of the Central Organ Editorial Board and at the same time openly defended liquidationism in the newspaper Golos Sotsial-Demokrata (Voice of a Social-Democrat). Lenin’s implacable struggle against the liquidators led to Martov and Dan’s resigning from the Editorial Board in June 1911. From December 1911 Sotsial-Demokrat was edited by Lenin.
In 1912 and 1913 the paper appeared with big intervals between issues, only 6 issues appearing in those years. After the outbreak of the First World War Sotsial-Demokrat was published more regularly, the last issue appearing in Geneva on January 15 (31), 1917.
- The subsection referred to was that of a resolution on “The Social-Democratic Group in the Duma” adopted by the Fifth (All Russian) Conference of the RSDLP in 1908. Lenin’s draft for this subsection was adopted by the Conference with some amendments that spoiled the original formulation (the conditions under which voting was permissible for items of expenditure on cultural requirements were less definite in the resolution than in Lenin’s draft). This part of the resolution on “Social-Democratic Activities in the Duma” was confirmed in a new, improved version by the Poronin (Summer) Conference.
- The congresses referred to are the Fifth (London) Congress of the RSDLP in 1907 and the International Social Congress at Stuttgart in the same year; the resolutions were directed against the opportunist principle of trade union “neutrality”.
- The resolution refers here to the decision adopted by the liquidators’ August Conference in 1912 to the effect that “cultural-national autonomy” was compatible with the Programme of the RSDLP