V. I.   Lenin

Report on the Third Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party

Published: Proletary, No. 1, May 27 (14), 19O5. Published according to the text in the newspaper Proletary.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 433-439.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Isidor Lasker
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Comrades Workers! The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was recently held. This Congress should mark a new phase in the history of our Social-Democratic working-class movement. Russia is passing through a great historical period. Revolution has broken out and its flames are spreading wider and wider, embracing new regions and new sections of the population. The proletariat stands at the head of the fighting forces of the revolution. It has already borne the greatest sacrifices in the cause of freedom and is now preparing for the decisive battle with the tsarist autocracy. The class-conscious representatives of the proletariat know that freedom will not rid the working people of poverty, oppression, and exploitation. The bourgeoisie, which now stands for the cause of freedom, will, on the morrow of the revolution, try to deprive the workers of as large a part of its conquests as possible and will show itself to be the implacable enemy of the socialist demands of the proletariat. But we do not fear a free, united, and strengthened bourgeoisie. We know that freedom will enable us to wage a broad and open mass struggle for socialism. We know that economic development will inexorably sap the power of capital and prepare the victory of socialism, and that it will do this the more. rapidly, the more freely it proceeds.

Comrades Workers! To achieve this great aim we must unite all class-conscious proletarians in a single Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. Our Party began to constitute itself quite some time ago, immediately following the broad working-class movement of 1895 and 1896. The year 1898 saw the convocation of its First Congress, which founded the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and outlined its aims. The Second Congress was held in 1903. It gave the Party a programme, adopted a series of resolutions on tactics, and endeavoured, for the first time, to build an integral Party organisation. True, the Party did not at once succeed in this effort. The minority at the Second Congress refused to submit to the majority and started a split that has caused great harm to the Social-Democratic working-class movement. The first step towards this split was the refusal to carry out the decisions of the Second Congress and to accept the leadership of the central bodies it had set up. The last step was the refusal to participate in the Third Congress. The Third Congress was convened by a Bureau elected by the majority of the committees working in Russia, and by the Central Committee of the Party. All the committees, breakaway groups, and the periphery organisations dissatisfied with the committees were invited to the Congress. The vast majority of these organisations, including nearly all the committees and organisations of the Minority, elected delegates and sent them abroad to attend the Congress. Thus everything possible under our police regime was done to convene an all-Party congress; it was only the refusal of three members of the former Party Council resident abroad that resulted in the boycott of the Congress by the entire Party Minority. The Third Congress, as will be seen from its resolution[1] printed below, lays the entire responsibility for the split in the Party on these three members. Nevertheless, despite the absence of the Minority, the Third Congress took every measure to enable the Minority to work with the Majority in one party. The Congress held the reversion to the antiquated and superseded views of Economism discernible in our Party to be incorrect; at the same time, it provided precise and definite guarantees of the rights of every minority, guarantees embodied in the Rules of the Party and binding on all its members. The Minority now has the unconditional right, guaranteed by the Party Rules, to advocate its views and to carry on an ideological struggle. so long as the disputes and differences do not lead to disorganisation, so long as they do not impede constructive work, split our forces, or hinder the concerted struggle against the autocracy and the   capitalists. The right to publish Party literature is now grant ed by the Rules to every qualified Party organisation. It has now been made incumbent on the C.C. of the Party to transport all kinds of Party literature upon the demand of five qualified committees, or one-sixth of all such committees in the Party. The autonomy of the committees has been defined more precisely and their membership declared inviolable, which means that the C.C. no longer has the right to remove members from local committees or to appoint new members without the consent of the committees themselves. This rule admits of only one exception, namely, in cases where two-thirds of the organised workers demand the removal of a committee; under the Rules adopted by the Third Congress such removal is incumbent on the C.C. if two-thirds of its members agree with the decision of the workers. Every local committee has been accorded the right to con firm periphery organisations as Party organisations. The periphery organisations have been accorded the right to nominate candidates for committee membership. The boundaries of the Party have been defined more precisely, in accordance with the wishes of the Party majority. A single centre has been set up instead of two or three. The comrades working in Russia have been guaranteed a decided preponderance over the Party’s section abroad. In a word, the Third Congress has done everything to remove all possibility of charging the Majority with abuse of numerical superiority, with mechanical suppression, with despotism of the central bodies of the Party, and so on and so forth. Full opportunity has been provided for all Social-Democrats to work in co-operation, to join confidently the ranks of a single party, broad and virile enough, strong and welded enough to cut loose from the old traditions of the study circle days and to wipe out all traces of past friction and petty conflicts. Let all members of the Social-Democratic Party who really cherish the Party spirit now respond to the call of the Third Congress; let its decisions serve as the starting-point for restoring the unity of the Party, for eliminating all disorganisation, and for consolidating the ranks of the proletariat. We are convinced that the class conscious workers, who are best able to appreciate the importance of united and concerted work, and who have most   keenly felt all the harmful effects of discord, vacillation, and strife, will now insist with the utmost vigour on universal and unreserved recognition of Party discipline by all Party members, whether rank and file or leaders.

While striving, in all its decisions on organisation and tactics, to maintain continuity with the work of the Second Congress, the Third Congress sought to take into consideration the new tasks of the moment in its resolutions on the Party’s preparation for open action; on the necessity for the Party to participate practically and most energetically in the armed uprising and to give it leadership; and, finally, on the Party’s attitude towards a provisional revolutionary government. The Congress drew the attention of all Party members to the need for taking advantage of all waverings on the part of the government and of every legal or actual extension of freedom for our activities in order to strengthen the class organisation of the proletariat and to prepare for its open action. But apart from these general and basic tasks of the Social-Democratic working-class party, the present revolutionary moment demands of the Party that it assume the role of foremost champion of freedom, of vanguard in the armed uprising against the autocracy. The more stubbornly the tsarist government resists the people’s strivings towards freedom, the more powerful will be the force of the revolutionary onset and the more likely the complete victory of democracy, headed by the working class. The conduct of a victorious revolution and the defence of its conquests lay tremendous tasks on the shoulders of the proletariat. But the proletariat will not flinch at these great tasks. It will contemptuously brush aside all who predict that its victory will bring it misfortune. The Russian proletariat will be able to do its duty to the very end. It will be capable of taking the lead of the people’s insurrection. It will not be daunted by the difficult task of participating in a provisional revolutionary government, if it has to tackle this task. It will be able to repel all attempts at counter revolution, to crush ruthlessly all enemies of freedom, to defend staunchly the democratic republic, and to realise, in a revolutionary way, the whole of our minimum programme. The Russian proletarians should not fear such an out come, but should passionately desire it. Our victory in the   coming democratic revolution will be a giant stride forward towards our socialist goal; we shall deliver all Europe from the oppressive yoke of a reactionary military power and help our brothers, the class-conscious workers of the whole world who have suffered so much under the bourgeois reaction and who are taking heart now at the sight of the successes of the revolution in Russia, to advance to socialism more quickly, boldly, and decisively. With the help of the socialist proletariat of Europe, we shall be able, not only to defend the democratic republic, but to advance with giant strides towards socialism.

Forward, then, comrades workers, to the organised, concerted, and staunch struggle for freedom!

Long live the revolution!

Long live international revolutionary Social-Democracy I

Central Committee, R.S.D.L.P.


[1] The reference is to the resolution “On the Constitution of the Congress” published in issue No. I of Proletary, May 27 (14), 1905 (see The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences, and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, Moscow, 1953, Part I, pp. 75-76; Russ.).

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