V. I.   Lenin

Material for the Preparation of the Programme of the R.S.D.L.P.


Notes On Plekhanov’s First Draft Programme

Plekhanov’s Text Lenin’s Notes

I. The principal economic feature of present-day society is the domination of capitalist production relations in it,

Page 1. No. I—Capitalism is not a “feature” of present-day society, but its economic system or mode, etc.

i.e., ownership of the means of production and of commodity circulation by the numerically very small class of capitalists,

No. 2—The means of production belong not only to the capitalists, but to the landowners and small producers as well.

while the majority of the population consists of proletarians,

No. 3—The proletariat is not the majority of the population in many countries.

who have no other possession but their labour-power, and cannot subsist except by selling it.

No. 4—The proletariat possesses certain articles of consumption (and partly means of production too).

In consequence of this, the majority of the population is reduced to the dependent position of wage-workers, whose labour creates the income of the capitalists.

Page 2. No. 5±of the landowners.

II. The sphere of domination of capitalist production relations is constantly expanding, as continuous technical progress

To page 2. Not technical progress but private owner ship expropriates and ver elendet [Impoverishes.—Ed.] the small producer.

increases the economic importance of the big enterprises and thereby

No. 6—“and thereby”?? Of itself technical progress can not increase the economic importance of the big enterprises. As the result of technical progress (+a number of economic changes, such as in market conditions,etc.)small scale production is being oust ed by large-scale production.

decreases the number of independent small producers, reduces their role in the economic life of society,

No. 6-7. Capitalism does not always"decrease the flu m b e r of small producers" (relatively, and not necessarily absolutely, particularly in Russia).
  (Capitalism expropriates and leads him—the small producer—to degradation and impoverishment....)
  Page 2. No. 7. Reduces the role of the small=increases the economic importance of the big (one and the same thing).

and at places turns them directly into vassals and tributaries of the big manufacturers.

No. 8—Directly—delete. The process of the separation of the producer from the means of production is not indicated.

III. Capitalist production relations weigh more and more heavily on the working class, as technical progress, by increasing the productivity of labour, not only makes it materially possible for the capitalists to intensify the exploitation of the workers, but converts this possibility into reality, occasioning a relative reduction in the demand

Page 3 of the original draft.
  No. 9.+and on the small producers (the peasants in general should be specially mentioned).
  No. 10—giving rise to, or engendering.

for labour-power simultaneously ’with a relative and absolute increase in its supply.

Page 3—expressed in an extremely unpopular, abstract way. Far better in the Erfurt Programme[4] “...the army of surplus-workers is growing”, “insecurity of existence is increasing.”

IV. The development of labour productivity does not raise the p rice of labour-power, but, on the contrary, is very often the direct cause of its reduction. Thus, technical progress, which signifies an increase in social wealth, causes greater social inequality in capitalist society, widens the distance between the propertied and the property- less, and increases the workers’ economic dependence on the capitalists.

Page 4—“the price of labour-power” is very often reduced (also expressed in a very abstract way;=the growth of exploitation, oppression, poverty, degradation) ."Thus” causes greater inequality. It would appear from this that greater inequality is engendered only by the increase (intensification) in the exploitation of the wage-worker, whereas it is engendered:
  1) by the expropriation of the small producer +2) by the impoverishment of the small producer+3) by the increase in exploitation +4) by the growth of the reserve army.

V. With such a state of affairs in capitalist society and with the constantly growing mutual rivalry among the capitalist countries on the world market, the sale of commodities necessarily lags behind their production, and this periodically causes more or less severe industrial crises attended by more or less lengthy periods of industrial stagnation, leading to a further

Page 5. Is it necessary to indicate the causes of crises in the programme? If so, the shortcoming is that two causes are indicated: 1) greater social inequality (“with such a state of affairs," p. 4) +2) the growth of rivalry. The basic cause of crises=Planlosigkeit,[ Planlessness.—Ed.] private appropriation under social production, is not in dictated.

reduction in the number and economic importance of the small producers,

Pages 5-6: reduction of the “e c o n o m i c i m p o r t a n c e” of the small producers is too abstract a term. Expropriates (=reduces the number?) and verelendet.

to a still greater dependence of wage-labour upon capital,

Page 6—of wage-“labour”? Isn’t it better to say of the workers?

and to a still more rapid relative, and at places even absolute, deterioration of the conditions of the proletariat and the small producers.

Page 6—consequences of a crisis—relative and absolute deterioration of the conditions. Isn’t it better to say plainly: unemployment, poverty of the workers and the small producers.

VI. But as these inevitable contradictions of capitalism grow and develop, the discontent of the working class with the existing order of things also grows, its struggle against the capitalist class becomes sharper, and in its midst the realisation spreads ever more widely and rapidly

Page 7—instead of discontent — indignation.
  Page 7—the spreading of a realisation (—γ) is placed on a par with the growth of indignation (—α) and the aggravation of the struggle (—β). But α and β are spontaneous, whereas y should be introduced by us.

that the yoke of economic dependence, which lies on its shoulders, can be thrown off only through its own efforts, and that to throw off this yoke a social revolution   is necessary, i.e., the destruction of capitalists production relations and the conversion of the means of production and of the circulation of products into public property.

Page 7—“only through its own efforts”. This should be expressed in a more general way: can be the act only of the working class, etc.
  Pages 7-8, 1) destruction of capitalist production relations?—Socialist production[1] t a k i  n g     t h e     p l a c e[2] of commodity production, 2) the expropriation of the exploiters, 3) the conversion of the means of production into public property? The conversion of private into public property.

VII. This revolution of the proletariat will emancipate the whole of mankind, now oppressed and suffering, since it will put an end to all forms of oppression and exploitation of man by man.


VIII. In order to replace capitalist commodity production by the socialist organisation of the production of articles to satisfy the needs of society and ensure the well-being of all its members, in order to effect its revolution,

Page 9–unclear[3] : “to satisfy the needs of society and ensure the well-being of all its members.” This is insufficient: (cf. the Erfurt Programme: “the greatest well-being and all-round harmonious perfection”).

the proletariat must have command of political power, which will make it master of the situation and enable it ruthlessly to smash all the obstacles it will come up against on the road to its great goal. In this sense the dictatorship of the proletariat is an essential political condition of the social revolution.

Page 9. “Master of the situation,” “ruthlessly to smash,” “dictatorship”??? (The social revolution is enough for us.)

IX. But the development of international exchange and the world market has established such close ties among all nations of the civilised world, that this great goal can be attained only through the united efforts of the proletarians of all countries. Hence the present-day working-class movement had to become, and has long become, an international movement.

Page 10—nil.

X. Russian Social-Democracy regards itself as one of the detachments of the world army of the proletariat, as part of international Social-Democracy.


XI. It pursues the same ultimate aim as the Social-Democrats of all other countries set themselves.

Page 11 .—“The same Endziel.”[Ultimate aim.—Ed.] Why the repetition?

It discloses to the workers the irreconcilable antagonism between their interests and those of the capitalists, explains to them the historical significance, nature, and prerequisites of the social revolution which the proletariat is to carry out, and organises their forces for an unremitting struggle against their exploiters.

Page 11. Might there not be confusion?—"The same Endziel—and right along side the task of the Social-Democratic Party: 1) To disclose to (?) the workers the irreconcilable antagonism between their interests and those of the capitalists. 2) To explain to them the significance, nature, and prerequisites of the social revolution (±the necessity of revolution?).
  The Germans put this more forcibly: weisen naturnotwendiges Ziel.[To indicate the naturally necessary aim.—Ed.] 3) To organise their forces for an unremitting struggle against t h e i r e x p l o i t e r s (N.B.?+a g a i n s t t h e g o v e r n m e n t?)+? t o d i r e c t the struggle of the proletariat.
  1) is included in 2). 1)— too limited. It should be: a to indicate the ultimate aim, β to create an organisation of revolutionaries to direct the struggle of the proletariat.

XII. But its immediate aims are considerably modified by the fact that in our country numerous remnants of the pre-capitalist — serf-owning — social system are an oppressive burden on the entire working population and are the most difficult of all the obstacles hindering the progress of the Russian working-class movement.

Page 12. “Remnants of the serf-owning system ... are an oppressive burden on the entire working population” (+the retardation of the development of productive forces +the deterioration of living conditions+keeping the whole people in a state of ignorance and subjection)—the most difficult obstacle (=remnants)? (What are these remnants? The autocracy—I—all the rest? This is said b e l o w.)

The Russian Social-Democrats still have to work for the establishment of those juridical institutions which, constituting a natural legal complement to capitalist production relations, already exist in the advanced capitalist countries

12-13: necessary to work for the establishment of those (?) juridical institutions which already (?) exist in the advanced countries. (These should be named more concretely. Unpopular.)

and are necessary for the complete and comprehensive development of the class struggle of wage-labour against capital.

Page 13—of wage-labour?—of the workers, of the struggle of the working class against the capitalist class for its complete emancipation.

And since the tsarist autocracy, which is the most out standing remnant of the old serf-owning system and the most harmful in respect of further social development, is wholly incompatible with these juridical institutions, and since by its very nature it cannot but he the bitterest and most dangerous enemy of the proletarian emancipation movement,

Page 13. The autocracy is incompatible with these juridical institutions (with political liberty??).

the Russian Social-Democrats advance as their immediate political task the overthrow of the monarchy.

Page 14. Since the a u t o c r a c y is incompatible— the overthrow of the monarchy (inconsistent).



[1] It is necessary to explain what this socialist production is. —Lenin

[2] As is stated on pages 8-9. —Lenin

[3] In Lenin’s manuscript the word “unclear” is written above the words “to satisfy the needs”.—Ed.

[4] The Erfurt Programme of the German Social-Democratic Party was adopted in October 1891 at the Congress in Erfurt. Compared with the Gotha Programme (1875), it was a step forward, being based on the Marxist doctrine that the capitalist mode of production must inevitably yield place to the socialist; it stressed the need for the working class to wage a political struggle, indicating the party’s role as the organiser of this struggle, etc. However,   the Erfurt Programme, too, contained serious concessions to opportunism. It was extensively criticised by Frederick Engels (“Criticism of the Draft Social-Democratic Programme of 1891”), this being in essence a criticism of the opportunism of the entire Second International, for whose parties the Erfurt Programme was a kind of model. However, the leadership of German Social-Democracy concealed Engels’ criticism from the p arty rank and file, while his most important remarks were ignored when the final text of the programme was drawn V. I. Lenin and G. V. Plekhanov considered that the Erfurt Progamme’s silence on the dictatorship of the proletariat was its chief defect and a cowardly concession to opportunism.

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