V. I.   Lenin

To the Rural Poor

An Explanation for the Peasants of What the Social-Democrats Want


The Programme of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party Proposed by the Newspaper Iskra in Conjunction with the Magazine Zarya

We have already explained what a programme is, why one is needed, and why the Social-Democratic Party is the only party that comes out with a clear and definite programme. A programme can be finally adopted only by the congress of our Party, i.e., the assembly of representatives of all Party workers. Preparations for such a congress are now being made by the Organising Committee. But very many commit tees of our Party have already openly declared their agreement with Iskra, and their recognition of Iskra as the leading newspaper. Therefore, prior to the congress our draft (proposed) programme can fully serve as a precise indication of what the Social-Democrats want, and we consider it necessary to give that draft in full as an appendix to our pamphlet.

Of course, without an explanation not every worker will understand everything that is said in the programme. Many great socialists worked to create the doctrine of Social-Democracy, which was completed by Marx and Engels; the workers of all countries went through a great deal to acquire the experience that we want to utilise and make the basis of   our programme. Therefore the workers must learn the teachings of Social-Democracy in order to understand every word of the programme, their programme, their banner of the struggle. And the workers are learning and understanding the Social-Democratic programme with particular ease because that programme speaks of what every thinking worker has seen and experienced. Let nobody be deterred by the “difficulty” of understanding the programme all at once: the more every worker reads and thinks, the more experience he acquires in the struggle, the more fully will he understand it. But let everybody think over and discuss the whole programme of the Social-Democrats; let everybody constantly keep in mind all that the Social-Democrats want, and what they think about the emancipation of all working people. The Social-Democrats want everybody to know clearly and precisely the truth, the whole truth, about what the Social-Democratic Party is.

We cannot here explain the whole programme in detail. A separate pamphlet would be needed for that. We shall merely indicate briefly what the programme says, and advise the reader to get hold of two pamphlets to use as aids. One pamphlet is by the German Social-Democrat Karl Kautsky, and its title is The Erfurt Programme. It has been translated into Russian. The other pamphlet is by the Russian Social-Democrat L. Martov, and its title is The Workers’ Cause in Russia. These pamphlets will help the reader to understand the whole of our programme.

Let us now indicate each part of our programme by a separate letter (see the programme below) and show what is spoken about in each part.

A) At the very beginning it says that the proletariat all over the world is fighting for its emancipation, and the Russian proletariat is only a detachment in the world army of the working class of all countries.

B) It then goes on to explain the bourgeois order of things in nearly all countries in the world, including Russia: how the majority of the population, working for the Landowners and capitalists, live in poverty and want; how the small artisans and peasants are being ruined while the big factories grow bigger; how capital crushes the worker and also his wife and children; how the conditions of the working   class are growing worse and worse and unemployment and want are increasing.

C) It then speaks of the union of the workers, of their struggle, of the great aim of that struggle: to liberate all the oppressed and completely abolish all oppression of the poor by the rich. This part also explains why the working class is growing stronger and stronger, and why it will certainly defeat all its enemies, all those who defend the bourgeoisie.

D) Then it explains why Social-Democratic parties have been formed in all countries, how they help the working class to wage its struggle, unite and guide the workers, enlighten them and prepare them for the great struggle.

E) Further, it explains why the conditions of the people in Russia are even worse than in other countries, what a great evil the tsarist autocracy is, and why we must first of all overthrow that autocracy and establish popular, elective government in Russia.

F) What improvements must elective government bring the whole people? We explain that in our pamphlet, and it is also explained in the programme.

G) Then the programme indicates what improvements for the whole of the working class we must strive to immediately achieve in order to make life easier for it and enable it to fight more freely for socialism.

H) Special reference is made in the programme to those improvements which we must first of all strive to achieve for all the peasants so as to enable the rural poor to wage the class struggle more easily and freely against both the rural bourgeoisie and the entire Russian bourgeoisie.

I) Lastly, the Social-Democratic Party warns the people not to believe any police or bureaucratic promises or honeyed words, but to fight firmly for the immediate convocation of a free national assembly of deputies.


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