The Assessment of the Russian Revolution
|Written||10 March 1908|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1973, Moscow, Volume 15, pages 50-62.
This article was written by Lenin to acquaint the Polish Social-Democrats with the differences that existed within the RSDLP and was published in their journal Przeglad Socjaldemokratyczny, No. 2, in April 1908.
Przeglad Socjaldemokratyczny—a journal published in Cracow from 1902 to 1904 and from 1908 to 1910 by the Polish Social-Democrats with the close participation of R. Luxemburg.
No one in Russia would now dream of making a revolution according to Marx. This, or approximately this, was recently announced by a liberal-even an almost democratic—even an almost Social-Democratic—(Menshevik) paper, Stolichnaya Pochta. And to be quite fair to the authors of this pronouncement,they have successfully caught the essence of the current political mood and of the attitude to the lessons of our revolution which undoubtedly prevail among the widest circles of the intellectuals, half-educated philistines and probably in many sections of the quite uneducated petty bourgeoisie as well.
This pronouncement does not only express hatred of Marxism in general, with its unswerving conviction of the revolutionary mission of the proletariat and its whole hearted readiness to support any revolutionary movement of the masses, to sharpen their struggle and to go through with it. It expresses also hatred of the methods of struggle, the forms of action, and the tactics which have been tested quite recently in the actual practice of the Russian revolution. All those victories—or half-victories, quarter-victories, rather—which our revolution won, were achieved entirely and exclusively thanks to the direct revolutionary onset of the proletariat, which was marching at the head of the non-proletarian elements of the working people. All the defeats were due to the weakening of such an onset, to the tactics of avoiding it, tactics based on the absence of it, and sometimes (among the Cadets) on directly seeking to eliminate it.
And today, in the period of sweeping counter-revolutionary repressions, the philistines are adapting themselves in cowardly fashion to the new masters, currying favour with the new caliphs for an hour, renouncing the past, trying to forget it, to persuade themselves and others that no one in Russia now dreams of making a revolution according to Marx, no one is dreaming of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and so forth.
In other revolutions of the bourgeoisie, the physical victory of the old authorities over the insurgent people always aroused despondency and demoralisation among wide circles of “educated” society. But among the bourgeois parties which had made a real fight for liberty, which had played any appreciable part in real revolutionary events, there were always to be traced illusions the reverse of those which now prevail among the intellectualist petty bourgeoisie in Russia. They were illusions about an inevitable, immediate and complete victory of “liberty, equality and fraternity”, illusions about a republic not of the bourgeoisie but of all humanity, a republic which would introduce peace on earth and good will among men. They were illusions about the absence of class differences within the people oppressed by the monarchy and the medieval order of things, about the impossibility of conquering an “idea” by methods of violence, about the absolutely opposite nature of the feudalism that had outlived its day and the new free democratic republican system, the bourgeois nature of which was not realised at all, or was realised only very vaguely.
Therefore in periods of counter-revolution representatives of the proletariat who had worked their way through to the standpoint of scientific socialism had to fight (as, for example, Marx and Engels did in 1850) against the illusions of the bourgeois republicans, against an idealist conception of the traditions of the revolution and of its essence, against superficial phrases which were replacing consistent and serious work within a definite class. But in Russia the exact opposite prevails. We don’t see any illusions of primitive republicanism hindering the essential work of continuing revolutionary activity in the new and changed conditions. We see no exaggeration of the meaning of a republic, the transformation of this essential watchword of the struggle against feudalism and the monarchy into a watchword of each and every struggle for the liberation of all those that work and are exploited. The Socialist-Revolutionaries and the groups akin to them, who were encouraging ideas similar to these, have remained a mere handful, and the period of the three years’ revolutionary storm (1905-07) has brought them—instead of wide spread enthusiasm for republicanism—a new part.y of the opportunist petty bourgeoisie, the Popular Socialists, a new increase in anti-political rebelliousness and anarchism.
In petty-bourgeois Germany, the day after the first onset of the revolution in 1848 the illusions prevalent among the petty-bourgeois republican democrats were strikingly in evidence. In petty-bourgeois Russia, on the day after the onset of the revolution in 1905, there was striking evidence, and there is still evidence, of the illusions of petty-bourgeois opportunism, which hoped to achieve a compromise without a struggle, feared a struggle and after the first defeat hastened to renounce its own past, poisoning the public atmosphere with despondence, faint-heartedness and apostasy.
Evidently this difference arises from the difference in the social system and in the historical circumstances of the two revolutions. But. it is not a question of the mass of the petty-bourgeois population in Russia finding itself in less sharp opposition to the old order. Just the reverse. Our peasantry in the very first stage of the Russian revolution brought into being an agrarian movement incomparably more powerful, definite, and politically conscious than those that arose in the previous bourgeois revolutions of the nineteenth century. The trouble is that the social stratum which formed the core of the revolutionary democrats in Europe–the master craftsmen in the towns, the urban bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie—were bound in Russia to turn to counter-revolutionary liberalism. The class-consciousness of the socialist proletariat, moving hand in hand with the international army of socialist revolution in Europe, the extreme revolutionary spirit of the muzhik, driven by the age-old yoke of the feudal-minded landlords to a state of utter desperation and to the demand for confiscation of the landed estates—these are the circumstances which threw Russian liberalism into the arms of counter-revolution much more powerfully than ever they did the liberals of Europe. And therefore on the Russian working class there has devolved with particular force the task of preserving the traditions of revolutionary struggle which the intellectuals and t.he petty bourgeoisie are hastening to renounce, developing and strengthening these traditions, imbuing with them the consciousness of the great mass of the people, and carrying them forward to the next inevitable upsurge of the democratic movement.
The workers themselves are spontaneously carrying on just such a struggle. Too passionately did they live through the great struggle in October and December. Too clearly did they see the change which took place in their condition only as a result of that direct revolutionary struggle. They talk now, or at any rate they all feel, like that weaver who said in a letter to his trade union journal: “The factory owners have taken away what we won, the foremen are once again bullying us, just wait, 1905 will come again."
Just wait, 1905 will come again. That is how the workers look at things. For them that year of struggle provided a model of what has to be done. For the intellectuals and the renegading petty bourgeois it was the “insane year”, a model of what should not be done. For the proletariat, the working over and critical acceptance of the experience of the revolution must consist in learning how to apply the then methods of struggle more successfully, so as to make the same October strike struggle and December armed struggle more massive, more concentrated and more conscious. For counter-revolutionary liberalism, which leads the renegading intelligentsia on a halter, assimilating the experience of the revolution is bound to consist in finishing for ever with the “naive” impulsiveness of “untamed” mass struggle, and replacing it by “cultured and civilised” constitutional work, on the basis of Stolypin’s “constitutionalism”.
Today all and sundry are talking about the assimilation and critical evaluation of the experience of the revolution. Socialists and liberals talk about it. Opportunists and revolutionary Social-Democrats talk about it. But not all understand that it is between the two opposites above mentioned that all the multiform recipes for assimilation of the experience of the revolution fluctuate. Not all put the question clearly: is it the experience of the revolutionary struggle which we must assimilate, and help the masses to assimilate, for the purpose of a more consistent, stubborn and resolute fight; or is it the “experiment” of Cadet betrayal of the revolution that we must assimilate and pass on to the masses?
Karl Kautsky has approached this question in its fundamental theoretical aspect. In the second edition of his well-known work The Social Revolution, which has been translated into all the principal European languages, he made a number of additions and amendments touching on the experience of the Russian revolution. The preface to the second edition is dated October 1906: therefore the author already had the material to judge, not only of the Sturm und Drang of 1905, but also of the chief events in the “Cadet period” of our revolution, the period of universal (almost universal) enthusiasm over the electoral victories of the Cadets and the First Duma.
What problems in the experience of the Russian revolution, then, did Kautsky consider sufficiently outstanding and basic, or at least sufficiently important to provide new material for a Marxist studying in general “the forms and weapons of the social revolution” (the heading to para graph seven in Kautsky’s work, as supplemented in keeping with the experience of 1905-06)?
The author has taken two questions.
First, the question of the class composition of the forces which are capable of winning victory in the Russian revolution, making it a really victorious revolution.
Secondly, the question of the importance of those higher forms of mass struggle—higher in the direction of their revolutionary energy and in their aggressive character— which the Russian revolution brought forth, namely, the struggle in December, i.e., the armed uprising.
Any socialist (and especially a Marxist) studying at all attentively the events of the Russian revolution is bound to recognise that these really are the root and fundamental questions in assessing the Russian revolution, and also in assessing the line of. tactics dictated to a workers’ party by the present state of affairs, Unless we fully and clearly realise what classes are capable, in the light of objective economic conditions, of making the Russian bourgeois revolution victorious, all our words about seeking to make that revolution victorious will be empty phrases, mere democratic declamation, while our tactics in the bourgeois revolution will inevitably be unprincipled and wavering.
On the other hand, in order concretely to determine the tactics of a revolutionary party at the stormiest moments of the general crisis which the country is living through, it is obviously insufficient merely to indicate the classes capable of acting in the spirit of a victorious completion of the revolution. Revolutionary periods are distinguished from periods of so-called peaceful development, periods when economic conditions do not give rise to profound crises or powerful mass movements, precisely in this: that the forms of struggle in periods of the first type inevitably are much more varied, and the direct revolutionary struggle of the masses predominates rather than the propaganda and agitation activities conducted by leaders in parliament, in the press, etc. Therefore if, in assessing revolutionary periods, we confine ourselves to defining the line of activity of the various classes, without analysing the forms of their struggle, our discussion in the scientific sense will be incomplete and undialectical, while from the standpoint of practical politics it will degenerate into the dead letter of the raisoneur (with which, we may say in parenthesis, comrade Plekhanov contents himself in nine-tenths of his writings on Social-Democratic tactics in the Russian revolution).
In order to make a genuinely Marxist assessment of the revolution, from the standpoint of dialectical materialism, it has to be assessed as the struggle of live social forces, placed in particular objective conditions, acting in a particular way and applying with greater or less success particular forms of struggle. It is on the basis of such an analysis, and only on that basis of course, that it is appropriate and indeed essential for a Marxist to assess the technical side of the struggle, the technical questions which arise in its course. To recognise a definite form of struggle and not to recognise the necessity of studying its technique, is like recognising the necessity of taking part in particular elections while ignoring the law which lays down the technique of these elections.
Let us go on now to the reply given by Kautsky to both the above-stated questions, which, as we know, aroused a very prolonged and heated dispute among the Russian Social-Democrats throughout the revolution, beginning with the spring of 1905, when the Bolshevik Third Congress of the RSDLP in London and the simultaneous Menshevik conference in Geneva laid down the basic principles of their tactics in precise resolutions, and ending with the London Congress of the United RSDLP in the spring of 1907.
To the first question Kautsky gives the following reply. In Western Europe, he says, the proletariat constitutes the great mass of the population.Therefore the victory of democracy in present-day Europe means the political supremacy of the proletariat. “In Russia, with her predominantly peas ant population, this cannot be expected. Of course, the victory of Social-Democracy in the foreseeable (in German, absehbar) future is not ruled out in Russia either: but that victory could be only the result of an alliance (Koalition) of the proletariat and the peasantry.” And Kautsky even expresses the opinion that such a victory would inevitably give a tremendous impetus to proletarian revolution in Western Europe.
Thus we see that the concept of bourgeois revolution is not a sufficient definition of the forces which may achieve victory in such a revolution. Bourgeois revolutions are possible, and have occurred, in which the commercial, or commercial and industrial, bourgeoisie played the part of the chief motive force. The victory of such revolutions was possible as the victory of the appropriate section of the bourgeoisie over its adversaries (such as the privileged nobility or the absolute monarchy). In Russia things are different. The victory of the bourgeois revolution is impossible in our country as the victory of the bourgeoisie. This sounds paradoxical, but it is a fact. The preponderance of the peasant population, its terrible oppression by the semi-feudal big landowning system, the strength and class-consciousness of the proletariat already organised in a socialist party—all these circumstances impart to our bourgeois revolution a specific character. This peculiarity does not eliminate the bourgeois character of the revolution (as Martov and Plekhanov attempted to present the case in their more than lame remarks on Kautsky’s attitude). It only determines the counter-revolutionary character of our bourgeoisie and the necessity of a dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry for victory in such a revolution. For a “coalition of the proletariat and the peasantry”, winning victory in a bourgeois revolution, happens to be nothing else than the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.
This proposition is the point of departure of the tactical differences which arose in the ranks of the Social-Democrats during the revolution. Only if this is taken into account can one understand all the disputes on particular questions (support of the Cadets in general,a Left bloc and its character, etc.) and the clashes in individual cases. It is only this basic tactical divergence—and not at all the question of “boyevism” or “boycottism”, as uninformed people sometimes think—that is the source of the differences between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in the first period of the revolution (1905-07).
And one cannot sufficiently urge the necessity of studying this source of the differences with every attention, and of examining from this point of view the experience of the First and Second Dumas and of the direct struggle of the peasantry. If we don’t do this work now, we shall not be able to take a single step in the tactical field, when the next upsurge comes, without awakening old disputes or creating group conflicts and dissensions within the Party. The attitude of Social-Democracy to liberalism and to peas ant bourgeois democracy must be determined on the basis of the experience of the Russian revolution. Otherwise we shall have no principle or consistency iii the tactics of the proletariat. “The alliance of the proletariat and the peasantry”, let us note in passing, should not in any circumstances be understood as meaning the fusion of various classes, or of the parties of the proletariat and the peasantry. Not only fusion, but any prolonged agreement would be destructive for the socialist party of the working class, and would enfeeble the revolutionary-democratic struggle. That the peasantry inevitably wavers between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat follows from its position as a class; and our revolution has provided many examples of this in the most varied fields of struggle (the boycott of the Witte Duma; the elections; the Trudoviks in the First and Second Dumas, etc.). Only if it pursues an unquestionably independent policy as vanguard of the revolution will the proletariat be able to split the peasantry away from the liberals, rid it of their influence, rally the peasantry behind it in the struggle and thus bring about an “alliance” de facto—one that emerges and becomes effective, when and to the extent that the peasantry are conducting a revolutionary fight. It is not flirtations with the Trudoviks, but merciless criticism of their weaknesses and vacillations, the propaganda of the idea of a republican and revolutionary peasant party, that can give effect to the “alliance” of the proletariat and the peasantry for victory over their common enemies, and not for playing at blocs and agreements.
This specific character of the Russian bourgeois revolution which we have pointed out distinguishes it from the other bourgeois revolutions of modern times, but identifies it with the great bourgeois revolutions of former times, when the peasantry played an outstanding revolutionary part. In this respect the greatest attention should be paid to what Frederick Engels wrote in his remarkably profound and thought-stimulating article “On Historical Materialism” (the English introduction to Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, translated into German by Engels himself in Neue Zeit, 1892-93, 11th year, Vol. 1). “Curiously enough,” says Engels, “in all the three great bourgeois risings [the Reformation in Germany and the Peasant War in the sixteenth century; the English revolution in the seventeenth century; the French revolution in the eighteenth century I the peasantry furnishes the army that has to do the fighting; and the peasantry is just the class that, the victory once gained, is most surely ruined by the economic consequences of that victory. A hundred years after Cromwell, the yeomanry of England had almost disappeared. Anyhow, had it not been for that yeomanry and for the plebeian element in the towns, the bourgeoisie alone would never have fought the matter out to the bitter end, and would never have brought Charles I to the scaffold. In order to secure even those conquests of the bourgeoisie that were ripe for gathering at the time, the revolution had to be carried considerably further—exactly as in 1793 in France and 1848 in Germany. This seems, in fact, to be one of the laws of evolution of bourgeois society.” And in another. passage in the same article Engels points out that the French revolution was the first uprising “that was really fought out up to the destruction of one of the combatants, the aristocracy, and the complete triumph of the other, the bourgeoisie”.
Both these historical observations or general conclusions by Engels have been remarkably confirmed in the course of the Russian revolution. It has also been confirmed that only the intervention of the peasantry and the proletariat—“the plebeian element in the towns"—is capable of substantially pushing forward the bourgeois revolution. (Whereas in sixteenth-century Germany, seventeenth-century England and eighteenth-century France the peasantry could be put in the front rank, in twentieth-century Russia the order must decidedly be reversed, since without the initiative and guidance of the proletariat the peasantry counts for nothing.) It has also been confirmed that the revolution must be taken very much further than its direct, immediate and already fully-matured bourgeois aims, if those aims are really to be achieved, and if even minimum bourgeois conquests are to he irreversibly consolidated. We can judge therefore with what scorn Engels would have treated the philistine recipes for squeezing the revolution beforehand into a directly bourgeois, narrowly bourgeois framework— “in order not to frighten off the bourgeoisie”, as the Mensheviks in the Caucasus-said in their 1905 resolution, or in order that there should be “a guarantee against a restoration”, as Plekhanov said in Stockholm.
Kautsky discusses the other question, the assessment of the insurrection of December 1905, in the preface to the second edition of his booklet. He writes: “I can now no longer assert as definitely as I did in 1902 that armed uprisings and barricade fighting will not play the decisive part in the coming revolutions. Too clear evidence to the contrary is provided by the experience of the street battles in Moscow, when a handful of men held up a whole army f or a week in barricade fighting, and would have almost gained the victory, had not the failure of the revolutionary movement in other cities made it possible to dispatch such reinforcements to the army that in the end a monstrously superior force was concentrated against the insurgents. Of course, this relative success of the struggle on the barricades was possible only because the city population energetically supported the revolutionaries, while the troops were completely demoralised. But who can affirm with certainty that something similar is impossible in Western Europe?"
And so, nearly a year after the insurrection, when there could be no question of any desire to cheer the spirits of the fighting men, such a careful investigator as Kautsky firmly recognises that the Moscow insurrection represents a “relative success” of struggle on the barricades, and thinks it necessary to amend his previous general conclusion that the role of street battles in future revolutions cannot be a great one.
The struggle of December 1905 proved that armed uprising can be victorious in modern conditions of military technique and military organisation. As a result of the December struggle the whole international labour movement must henceforth reckon with the probability of similar forms of fighting in the coming proletarian revolutions. These are the conclusions which really follow from the experience of our revolution: these are the lessons which the broadest masses of the people should assimilate. How remote are these conclusions and these lessons from that line of argument which Plekhanov opened up by his famous Herostratean comment on the December insurrection: "They should not have taken to arms.” What an ocean of renegade comment was called forth by that assessment! What an endless number of dirty liberal hands seized upon it, in order to carry demoralisation and a spirit of petty-bourgeois compromise into the ranks of the workers!
There is not a grain of historical truth in Plekhanov’s assessment. If Marx, who had said six months before the Commune that an insurrection would be madness, nevertheless was able to sum up that “madness” as the greatest mass movement of the proletariat in the nineteenth century, then with a thousand times more justification must the Russian Social-Democrats inspire the masses with the conviction that the December struggle was the most essential, the most legitimate, the greatest proletarian movement since the Commune. And the working class of Russia will be trained up in such views, whatever individual intellectuals in the ranks of Social-Democracy may say, and however loudly they may lament.
Here perhaps one remark is necessary, bearing in mind that this article is being written for the Polish comrades. Not being familiar, to my regret, with the Polish language, I know Polish conditions only by hearsay. And it may be easy to retort that it is precisely in Poland that a whole party strangled itself by impotent guerrilla warfare, terrorism and fireworky outbreaks, and those precisely in the name of rebel traditions and a joint struggle of the proletariat and the peasantry (the so-called Right wing in the Polish Socialist Party). It may very well be that from this standpoint Polish conditions do in fact radically differ from conditions in the rest of the Russian Empire. I cannot judge of this. I must say, however, that nowhere except in Poland have we seen such a senseless departure from revolutionary tactics, one that has aroused justified resistance and opposition. And here the thought arises unbidden: why, it was precisely in Poland that there was no mass armed struggle in December 1905! And is it not for this very reason that in Poland, and only in Poland, the distorted and senseless tactics of revolution-"making” anarchism have found their home, and that conditions did not permit of the development there of mass armed struggle, were it only for a short time? Is it not the tradition of just such a struggle, the tradition of the December armed uprising, that is at times the only serious means of overcoming anarchist tendencies within the workers’ party— not by means of hackneyed, philistine, petty-bourgeois moralising, but by turning from aimless, senseless, sporadic acts of violence to purposeful, mass violence, linked with the broad movement and the sharpening of the direct proletarian struggle?
The question of evaluating our revolution is important not only theoretically by any means. It is important directly, practically, in the everyday sense. All our work of propaganda, agitation and organisation is indissolubly bound up at the present time with the process of the assimilation of the lessons of these three great years by the widest mass of the working class and the semi-proletarian population. We cannot now confine ourselves to the bare statement (in the spirit of the resolutions adopted by the Tenth Congress of the P.S.P. Left wing) that the data available do not allow us to determine at present whether it is the path of revolutionary explosion or the path of long, slow, tiny steps forward that lies ahead of us. Of course, no statistics in the world can at present lay that down. Of course, we must carry on our work in such a way that it should be all imbued with a general socialist spirit and content, whatever painful trials the future has in store. But that is not all. To halt at this point means not to give any effective leader ship to the proletarian party. We must frankly put and firmly answer the question, in what direction will we now proceed to assimilate the experience of the three years of revolution? We must proclaim openly, for all to hear, for the behoof of the wavering and feeble in spirit, to shame those who are turning renegade and deserting socialism, that the workers’ party sees in the direct revolutionary struggle of the masses, in the October and December struggles of 1905, the greatest movements of the proletariat since the Commune; that only in the development of such forms of struggle lies the pledge of coming successes of the revolution; and that these examples of struggle must serve as a beacon for us in training up new generations of fighters. Carrying on our daily work in that direction, and remembering that only years of serious and consistent preparatory activity ensured the Party its full influence on the proletariat in 1905, we shall be able to reach the point that, whatever the turn of events and the rate of disintegration of the autocracy, the working class will continue to grow stronger and develop into a class-conscious, revolutionary Social-Democratic force.
- Stolichnaya Pochta (Metropolitan Post)—a daily newspaper, published in St. Petersburg from October 1906 to February 1908. At first the organ of the Left Cadets, it became, after February 1907, the mouthpiece of the Trudovik group. It was banned by the tsarist government.
- Cf. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Zur deutschen Geschichte, Bd. II, Hlb. I, S. 625-28. “Mai bis October”. Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1954
- Socialist-Revolutionaries (S. R.s)—a petty-bourgeois party in Russia, which arose at the end of 4901 and the beginning of 1902 as a result of the amalgamation of various Narodnik groups and circles (Union of Socialist-Revolutionaries, Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries, etc.). The newspaper Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (Revolutionary Russia) (1900-05) and the journal Vestnik Russkoi Revolutsii (Herald of the Russian Revolution) (1901-05) became its official organs. The S.R.s did not see the class distinctions between the proletarian and the small proprietor. They glossed over the class differentiation and antagonisms within the peasantry, and repudiated the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution. Their views were an eclectic mixture of the ideas of Narodism and revisionism; they tried, as Lenin put it, to “patch up the rents in the Narodnik ideas with bits of fashionable opportunist ‘criticism’ of Marxism” (see present edition, Vol. 9, p. 310). The tactics of individual terrorism, which the S.R.s advocated as the basic method of struggle against the autocracy, caused great harm to the revolutionary movement and made it difficult to organise the masses for the revolutionary struggle.
The agrarian programme of the S.R.s envisaged the abolition of private landownership and the transfer of the land to the village communes on the basis of the “labour principle”, “equalised” land tenure, and the development of co-operatives. There was nothing socialist in this programme, which the S.R.s described as a programme for “socialising the land”. In analysing this programme, Lenin showed that if commodity production an private farming on commonly-owned land were preserved, the rule of capital could not be eliminated nor the labouring peasantry delivered from exploitation and ruin. He also showed that co-operatives functioning under the capitalist system could not save the small peasant, since they only served to enrich the rural bourgeoisie. At the same time Lenin pointed out that the demand for equalised land tenure, though not socialist, was historically progressive, revolutionary-democratic in character, inasmuch as it was aimed against reactionary landlordism.
The Bolshevik Party exposed the S.R.s’ attempts to pose as socialists; it waged a hard fight against the S.R.s for influence over the peasantry, and revealed the harmful effect which their tactics of individual terrorism had on the working-class movement. At the same time, on definite conditions, the Bolsheviks entered into temporary agreements with the S.R.s in the struggle against tsarism.
The fact that the peasantry did not constitute a homogeneous class accounted for the political and ideological disunity and organisational confusion among the S.R.s. and for their constant wavering between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Al ready during the first Russian revolution the Right wing of the S.R.s split away from the Party and formed the legal Labour Popular Socialist Party, which held views close to those of the Cadets; the Left wing became the semi-anarchist league of “Maximalists”. During the Stolypin reaction the Socialist-Revolutionary Party experienced a complete ideological and organisational break-up, and the First World War saw most S.R.s adopt social-chauvinist views.
After the victory of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1917 the S.R.s, together with the Mensheviks and Cadets, formed the mainstay of the counter-revolutionary bourgeois-landlord Provisional Government, and the leaders of this party (Kerensky, Avxentyev and Chernov) were members of this government. The S.R. Party refused to support the peasants’ demand for the abolition of landlordism, and indeed, stood for its maintenance. Socialist-Revolutionary ministers in the Provisional Government sent punitive expeditions-against the peasants who had seized landed estates.
At the end of November 1917 the Left wing of the S.R.s founded an independent party. To retain their influence among the peasant masses, they recognised the Soviet power formally and entered into an agreement with the Bolsheviks, but soon turned against the Soviets.
During the years of foreign military intervention and civil war the S.R.s carried on counter-revolutionary subversive activities, vigorously supported the interventionists and whiteguard generals, took part in counter-revolutionary plots, and organised -terrorist acts against Soviet statesmen and Communist Party leaders. After the Civil War they continued their activities against the Soviet state within the country and among the whiteguard émigrés.
- The Third Congress of the RSDLP was held in London between April 12 and 27 (April 25 and May 10),1905. The Congress was organised and convened by the Bolsheviks under the direction of Lenin. It was the first Bolshevik Congress.
The agenda, drawn up by Lenin, was as follows: (I) Report of the Organising Committee. (II) Questions of Tactics: (1) the armed uprising; (2) the attitude towards the government’s policy on the eve of and during the revolution (this point was devoted to two questions: a. attitude towards the government’s policy on the eve of the revolution; b. the provisional revolutionary government); (3) the attitude towards the peasant movement. (III) Questions of Organisation: (4) the relations between the workers and the intellectuals within the Party organisations; (5) the Party Rules. (IV) Attitude Towards Other Parties and Trends: (6) attitude to wards the breakaway group of the RSDLP; (7) attitude towards the non-Russian Social-Democratic organisations; (8) attitude towards the liberals; (9) practical agreements with the Socialist-Revolutionaries. (V) Internal Questions of Party Life: (10) propaganda and agitation. (VI) Delegates’ Reports: (11) report of the Central Committee; (12) reports of delegates from the local committees. (VII) Elections: (13) elections; (14) standing order for publication of the proceedings and decisions of the Congress, and for the assumption of office by the newly elected functionaries.
On all the basic issues dealt with by the Third Congress Lenin had written the draft resolutions, which he substantiated in articles published in the newspaper Vperyod prior to the Congress. Lenin spoke at the Congress on the question of the armed uprising, on the participation of Social-Democrats in the provisional revolutionary government, on the attitude towards the peasant movement, on the Party Rules, and on a number of other questions. The proceedings of the Congress record 138 speeches and motions made by Lenin.
The Congress amended the Party Rules: (a) it adopted Lenin’s wording of Clause I; (b) it defined precisely the rights of the Central Committee and its relations with the local committees; (c) it modified the organisational structure of the Party’s central bodies: in place of the three centres (the Central Committee, the Central Organ, and the Council of the Party) the Congress established a single competent Party centre—the Central Committee.
On the work and the significance of the Third Party Congress see Lenin’s article “The Third Congress” (present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 442-49) and his book Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution (see present edition, Vol. 9, pp. 15-140).
- The Fifth Congress of the RSDLP was held in London between April 30 and May 19 (May 13 and June 1), 1907. It was attended by 336 delegates having a vote and consultative voice, of whom 105 were Bolsheviks, 97 Mensheviks, 57 Bundists, 44 Polish Social-Democrats, 29 Lettish Social-Democrats and 4 “non-factionals”. The Bolsheviks were backed by the Poles and the Letts and had a stable majority at the Congress. The Bolshevik delegates included Lenin, Voroshilov, Dubrovinsky, Stalin, Shaumian and Yaroslavsky.
The Congress discussed the following questions: (1) Report of the Central Committee. (2) Report of the Duma group, and its organisation. (3) Attitude towards the bourgeois parties. (4) The Duma. (5) The “labour congress” and the non-party workers’ organisations. (6) The trade unions and the Party. (7) Guerrilla actions. (8) Unemployment, economic crisis, and lock-outs. (9) Organisational questions. (10) The International Congress in Stuttgart (First of May, militarism). (11) Work in the army. (12) Miscellanea. One of the basic questions dealt with at the Congress was that of the policy to be adopted towards the bourgeois parties. Lenin delivered the report on this question. The Congress adopted Bolshevik resolutions on all fundamental issues. It elected a Central Commit tee consisting of 5 Bolsheviks, 4 Mensheviks, 2 Polish and 1 Lettish Social-Democrats. Alternate members elected to the Central Committee consisted of 10 Bolsheviks, 7 Mensheviks, 3 Polish and 2 Lettish Social-Democrats.
The Congress was a big victory of Bolshevism over the opportunist wing of the Party—the Mensheviks. On the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP see Lenin’s article “The Attitude Towards Bourgeois Parties” (present edition, Vol. 12, pp. 489-509).
- Boyevism—from the Russian word boyevik, a member of the revolutionary fighting squads, who, during the revolutionary struggle, used the tactics of armed action, helped political prisoners to escape, expropriated state-owned funds for the needs of the revolution, removed spies and agents provocateurs, etc. During the Revolution of 1905-07 the Bolsheviks a special fighting squads. See present edition, Vol. 12, pp. 409-18.
- See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, pp. 104-05 and 107.
- Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna)—a reformist nationalist party founded in 1892. In 1906 the Party split into the P.S.P. Left wing and P. S. P. chauvinist Right wing.