V. I.   Lenin

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


Draft Programme of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party[1]


I. Commodity production is ever more rapidly developing in Russia, the capitalist mode of production becoming increasingly dominant in it.

II. As the result of continuous technical progress, small-scale production is being ousted to an ever greater degree by large-scale production. The most important part of the means of production (of the land and factories, tools and machinery, railways and other means of communication) is becoming concentrated in the hands of a relatively in significant number of capitalists and big landowners as their private property. The independent small producers (peasants, handicraftsmen, and artisans) are being ruined in growing numbers, losing their means of production and thus turning into proletarians, or else becoming servants and tributaries of capital. Increasing numbers of working people are compelled to sell their labour-power and become wage-workers, who are dependent on the property-owners and by their labour create the wealth of the latter.

III. The greater the degree of technical progress, the more the growth of the demand for labour-power lags behind the growth of its supply, and the greater are the opportunities for the capitalists to intensify exploitation of the workers. Insecurity of existence and unemployment, the yoke of   exploitation, and humiliation of every kind are becoming the lot of ever wider sections of the working population.

IV. This process is being still more aggravated by industrial crises, which are the inevitable outcome of the basic contradictions of capitalism. Poverty and destitution among the masses exist side by side with wastage of social wealth in consequence of the impossibility of finding markets for commodities produced.

V. Thus, the gigantic development of the productive forces of social labour, which is constantly becoming more socialised labour, is attended by monopolisation of all the principal advantages of this development by a negligible minority of the population. The growth of social wealth proceeds side by side with the growth of social inequality; the gulf between the class of property-owners (the bourgeoisie) and the class of the proletariat is growing.


VI. But as all these inevitable contradictions of capitalism increase and develop, the number and the solidarity of the proletarians, their discontent and indignation also grow, the struggle between the working class and the capitalist class becomes sharper, and the urge to throw off the intolerable yoke of capitalism mounts.

VII. The emancipation of the workers must be the act of the working class itself. All the other classes of present-day society stand for the preservation of the foundations of the existing economic system. The real emancipation of the working class requires a social revolution—which is being prepared by the entire development of capitalism—i.e., the abolition of private ownership of the means of production, their conversion into public property, and the replacement of capitalist production of commodities by the socialist organisation of the production of articles by society as a whole, with the object of ensuring full well-being and free, all-round development for all its members.

VIII. This proletarian revolution will completely abolish the division of society into classes and, consequently, all social and political inequality arising from that division.

IX. To effect this social revolution the proletariat must win political power, which will make it master of the situation   and enable it to remove all obstacles along the road to its great goal. In this sense the dictatorship of the proletariat is an essential political condition of the social revolution.

X. Russian Social-Democracy undertakes the task of disclosing to the workers the irreconcilable antagonism between their interests and those of the capitalists, of explaining to the proletariat the historical significance, nature, and prerequisites of the social revolution it will have to carry out, and of organising a revolutionary class party capable of directing the struggle of the proletariat in all its forms.

XI. But the development of international exchange and of production for the world market has established such close ties among all nations of the civilised world, that the present-day working-class movement had to become, and has long become, an international movement. That is why Russian Social-Democracy regards itself as one of the detachments of the world army of the proletariat, as part of international Social-Democracy.

XII. The immediate aims of Russian Social-Democracy are, however, considerably modified by the fact that in our country numerous remnants of the pre-capitalist, serf-owning social system, retard the development of the productive forces in the highest degree, render impossible the complete and all-round development of the proletariat’s class struggle, and lower the working population’s standard of living; they are responsible for the Asiatically barbarous way in which the many-million-strong peasantry is dying out, and keep the entire people in a state of ignorance and subjection, denying them all rights.

XIII. The tsarist autocracy is the most outstanding of these remnants of the serf-owning system and the most formidable bulwark of all this barbarism. It is the bitterest and most dangerous enemy of the proletarian emancipation movement and the cultural development of the entire people.


For these reasons[2] the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party advances as its immediate political task the over throw of the tsarist autocracy and its replacement by a   republic based on a democratic constitution that would ensure:

1) the people’s sovereignty, i.e., concentration of supreme state power in the hands of a legislative assembly consisting of representatives of the people;

2) universal, equal, and direct suffrage, both in elections to the legislative assembly and in elections to all local organs of self-government, for every citizen who has reached the age of twenty-one; the secret ballot at all elections; the right of every voter to be elected to any of the representative assemblies; remuneration for representatives of the people;

3) inviolability of the person and domicile of citizens;

4) unrestricted freedom of conscience, speech, the press and of assembly, the right to strike and to organise unions;

5) freedom of movement and occupation;

6) abolition of social-estates; full equality for all citizens, irrespective of sex, religion or race;

7) recognition of the right to self-determination for all nations forming part of the state;

8) the right of every citizen to prosecute any official, without previously complaining to the latter’s superiors;

9) general arming of the people instead of maintaining a standing army;

10) separation of the church from the state and of the school from the church;

11) universal, free, and compulsory education up to the age of sixteen; state provision of food, clothing, and school supplies to needy children.


To protect the working class and to raise its fighting capacity,[3] the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party demands:

1) that the working day be limited to eight hours for all wage-workers;

  2) that a weekly rest period of not less than thirty-six consecutive hours for wage-workers of both sexes employed in all branches of the national economy be established by law;

3) that all overtime be prohibited;

4) that night-work (from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) in all branches of the national economy be prohibited, with the exception of those branches in which it is essential for technical reasons;

5) that employers be forbidden to employ children under the age of fifteen;

6) that female labour be forbidden in industries specifically injurious to the health of women;

7) that the law establish employers’ civil liability for workers’ complete or partial disability caused by accidents or by harmful working conditions; that the worker should not be required to prove his employer’s responsibility for disability;

8) that payment of wages in kind be prohibited[4] ;

9) that state pensions be paid to aged workers, who have become incapacitated;

10) that the number of factory inspectors be increased; that female inspectors be appointed in industries .in which female labour predominates; that observance of the factory laws be supervised by representatives elected by the workers and paid by the state; piece rates and rejection of work done should also be supervised by elected representatives of the workers;

11) that local self-government bodies, in co-operation with elected representatives of the workers, supervise sanitary conditions in living quarters provided for workers by employers, and also see to the observance of rules operating in such living quarters and the terms on which they are leased, with the object of protecting the wage-workers from employers’ interference in their lives and activities as private persons and citizens;

12) that a properly organised and comprehensive system of health inspection be instituted to supervise working conditions at all enterprises employing wage-labour;

  13) that the Factory Inspectorate’s activities be extended to artisan, home, and handicraft industries, and to state- owned enterprises;

14) that any breach of the labour protection laws be punishable by law;

15) that employers be forbidden to make any deductions from wages, on any grounds or for any purpose whatsoever (fines, rejections, etc.);

16) that factory courts be set up in all branches of the national economy, with equal representation of workers and employers.


Besides, with the object of democratising Russia’s state economy, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party demands that all indirect taxation be abolished and progressive income-tax be introduced.

With a view to eradicating the remnants of the old serf-owning system, the Party will work for[5] :

1) abolition of land redemption and quit-rent payments, as well as of all services now imposed on the peasantry as a taxable social-estate;

2) annulment of collective liability[8] and of all laws restricting the peasant in the free disposal of his land;

3) restitution to the people of all sums taken from them in the form of land redemption and quit-rent payments; confiscation for this purpose of monasterial property and of the royal demesnes, and imposition of a special land-tax on members of the big landed nobility who received land redemption loans, the revenue thus obtained to be credited to a special public fund for the cultural and charitable needs of the village communes;

4) establishment of peasant committees

a) for the restitution to the village communes (by expropriation, or, when the land has changed hands, by   redemption, etc.) of the land cut off from the peasants when serfdom was abolished and now used by the landlords as a means of keeping the peasants in bondage;

b) for the eradication of the remnants of the serf-owning system which still exist in the Urals, the Altai, the Western territory, and other regions of the country;

5) empowerment of courts to reduce exorbitant rents and declare null and void all contracts entailing bondage.


Working for the achievement of its immediate political and economic aims,[6] the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party supports every oppositional and revolutionary movement directed against the existing social and political order in Russia, but emphatically rejects all those reformist plans which depict every extension of police tutelage over the working masses as a step towards the solution of the social problem.[7]

For its part, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party is firmly convinced that the complete, consistent, and lasting implementation of the indicated political and social changes can be achieved only by overthrowing the autocracy and convoking a Constituent Assembly, freely elected by the whole people.

Written in late January-early February 1902



[1] The theoretical part of this programme constitutes the draft proposed by one of the editors, Frey[9] (and drawn up by him on the basis of G. V. Plekhanov’s original draft). The practical part of the programme (from the point indicated below to the end) is proposed by the whole committee, i.e., by the five editors. —Lenin

[2] Here begins the text adopted by the committee as a whole. —Lenin

[3] Frey moved that the beginning of this paragraph be altered to read as follows: “To safeguard the working class from physical and moral degeneration, and also to raise its fighting capacity in the struggle for its emancipation....” —Lenin

[4] Frey moved that the following be inserted here (in the same clause): “that the law should establish weekly payment for all workers employed on a contract basis.” —Lenin

[5] Frey moved that the following words be inserted here: “and for the purpose of facilitating the free development of the class struggle in the countryside,” so that the whole paragraph would read as follows: “With a view to eradicating the remnants of the old serf-owning system and for the purpose of facilitating the free development of the class struggle in the countryside, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party will work for.” —Lenin

[6] Frey moved that the beginning of the paragraph be altered to read as follows: “Fighting for these demands, the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party,” etc. —Lenin

[7] Frey moved that the end of this paragraph he altered to read as follows: “...plans connected with any extension or consolidation of tutelage of the working masses by the police and officials.” —Lenin

[9] Frey—V. I. Lenin’s pseudonym.

[8] Collective liability was a compulsory measure making the peas ants of each village commune collectively liable for timely and full payments and for the fulfilment of all sorts of services to the state and the landlords (payment of taxes and land redemption instalments, provision of recruits for the army, etc.). This form of bondage was retained even after serfdom had been abolished, and remained in force until 1906.

  Notes On Plekhanov’s First Draft Programme | Three Amendments to the Draft Programme  

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