V. I. Lenin

Labour Congress and Merger with the S.R.s


Published: Proletary No. 10, December 20, 1906. Printed from the Proletary text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 191.2-193.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
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As our readers will know from No. 9 of Proletary{1}, the Menshevik Y. Larin has come out in his pamphlet in favour of a non-Party labour congress and for a merger of the Social-Democratic Party with the S.R.s, the P.P.S. and in general with all “socialist” parties. Larin himself says that the number of members in the S.R. Party is unknown. He adds that the Socialist-Revolutionaries estimate their membership at 50,000–60,000. Saying that this could be an exaggeration, Larin believes that the S.R.s must number at least 30,000.

We do not know where Larin got his figures of 50,000–60,000, for he mentions no source. We have never come across such data in any S.R. writings. The only fully published minutes of the First Congress of the S.R. Party (December 1905) do not contain any data on the S.R. Party’s membership. The fact is that no such data could have been available, because elections to a party congress by all the members of the party, proportional to a definite number of party members, have never been held by any party in Russia except the Social-Democrats. The Social-Democratic Party alone proclaimed this principle in November 1905 in the newspaper Novaya Zhizn on behalf of the Bolshevik   C.C.,{2} and the All-Russia Conference of the Bolshevik Organisations in December 1905{3} already consisted of representatives elected on the basis of one for 300 Party members. Representation on this principle was first applied to the whole Party at the Unity (Stockholm) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., with the controlling element in this case being the composition of the Organising Committee for convoking the Congress: it was made up of equal numbers of representatives from the two contending factions, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.

So, where Larin got his maximum of 50,000–60,000 remains an absolute mystery. However he used this figure (which is about one-third of the membership of the R.S.D.L.P.) to suggest to readers that ma merger of the two parties the Social-Democrats were fully assured of a preponderance over the S.R.s. Larin’s mistake was already pointed out in a feuilleton in No. 9 of Proletary, which said that instead of “peace and positive work” such a merger would actually result in growing dissension, to say nothing of its being unacceptable for reasons of principle. Interesting confirmation of what we then said came from an article by Léon Remy in the French Socialist newspaper L’Humanité{4} on December 17, 1906. Tribune Russe,{5} the S.R. Party’s official organ abroad, quoted Remy as saying that the “Council” of the S.R. Party “reckons the party to have about 150,000 organised members, and if the concept of membership is given a somewhat broader interpretation, such as that given to the Rules by some regional committees, the figure is 200,000”.

To enable readers to judge for themselves-how this curious figure was obtained, we cite all the district data given in Remy’s article. North-west—21,000; Volga area—14,000 (“almost double the figure if all those accepting the party’s programme are included”); Northern Caucasus—21,000; Transcaucasus—17,900; Centre—26,000 (including 5,000 in Moscow. It is odd that our Moscow comrades have been unable to discern these 5,000 even through a magnifying glass); North—20,000.

Here is a problem for the reader to solve: who has displayed more thoughtlessness—1) S.R.s, 2) Larin, or 3) Plekhanov and Axelrod?

The picture is hardly improved if in this matter of a merger with the S.R.s, the latter two disavow their ardent admirer Y. Larin. One need only give thought to drawing a line of distinction between the “all-Russia representatives” and the industrial workers and agricultural labourers, farm hands or journeymen and peasants, artisans or craftsmen and working men, etc.


{1} A reference to Lenin’s article “The Crisis of Menshevism” published in No. 9 of Proletary on December 7 (20), 1906 (see present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 341–64).

Proletary (Proletarian)—an illegal Bolshevik newspaper published from August 21 (September 3), 1906, to November 28 (December 11), 1909, under the editorship of Lenin. Fifty issues appeared. Among those who took an active part in the editorial work were M. F. Vladimirsky, V. V. Vorovsky, A. V. Lunacharsky and I. F. Dubrovinsky; technical matters were handled by A. G. Shlikhter and Y. S. Shlikhter, among others. The first twenty issues were prepared for the press and set in Vyborg. In view of the sharp worsening of conditions for the publication of an illegal organ in Russia, the Proletary Editorial Board transferred the paper’s publication abroad, in accordance with a decision of the St. Petersburg and Moscow committees of the R.S.D.L.P. (Nos. 21–40 were published in Geneva, and Nos. 41–50, in Paris).

Proletary was in fact the Central Organ of the Bolsheviks. Lenin carried out all the main work on its Board. More than 100 articles and notes by Lenin on the most important questions of the working-class revolutionary struggle were published in the paper, which had close contact with local Party organisations.

During the years of the Stolypin reaction, Proletary played an outstanding role in preserving and strengthening the Bolshevik   organisations and in fighting the liquidators, the otzovists-ultimatumists and the god-builders.

The paper ceased publication in accordance with the decisions of the January 1910 Plenary Meeting of the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee. p. 191

{2} A reference to the C.C. appeal “To All Party Organisations and All Social-Democratic Workers” on the convocation of the Fourth R.S.D.L.P. Congress. It was adopted on Lenin’s proposal and published in No. 9 of the newspaper Novaya Zhizn on November 19 (23), 1905 (see K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiyakh i resheniyakh..., Part I, 1954, pp. 96–98).

Novaya Zhizn (New Life)—the first legal Bolshevik newspaper published daily in St. Petersburg from October 27 (November 9) to December 3 (16), 1905. Its official publisher and editor was the poet N. M. Minsky, and the publisher, M. F. Andreyeva. When Lenin returned to St. Petersburg from abroad in early November, the paper was edited by him. There was a change in the Editorial Board and contributors. Novaya Zhizn was in fact the Central Organ of the R.S.D.L.P. Among those who were most closely connected with the newspaper were M. S. Olminsky, V. V. Vorovsky, A. V. Lunacharsky and V. D. Bonch-Bruyevich. Maxim Gorky took an active part in the paper and also gave it large financial assistance. Among its foreign contributors were Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Marcel Cachin and Paul Lafargue. Fourteen of Lenin’s articles appeared in the paper. In these articles, he defined the Party’s tasks and tactics in the first Russian revolution.

Novaya Zhizn was a champion of all the decisions and measures of the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee and played a great part in the political enlightenment and organisation of the masses, mobilising them for the armed uprising.

In October 1905, Lenin wrote about Novaya Zhizn: “Today the broadest tribune for our influence on the proletariat is a daily newspaper in St. Petersburg” (see present edition, Vol. 34, p. 365).

Novaya Zhizn was subjected to numerous reprisals. It was closed down by the tsarist government after its No. 27 on December 2. The last issue, No. 28, was published illegally. p. 192

{3} A reference to the First Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. held at Tammerfors (Finland) from December 12 to 17 (25–30), 1905. It was attended by representatives of 26 organisations. Lenin was elected chairman of the Conference. Among the participants were V. Y. Fridolin, L. M. Knipovich, L. B. Krasin, N. K. Krupskaya, P. F. Kudelli, S. A. Lozovsky, P. N. Mostovenko, V. I. Nevsky, V. A. Radus-Zenkovich, J. V. Stalin and Y. M. Yaroslavsky. The Mensheviks were represented by E. L. Gurevich (V. Danevich).

The Conference had the following agenda: 1) Reports from the localities. 2) Report on the current situation. 3) Organisational report of the C.C. 4) On the merger of both parts of the R.S.D.L.P. 5) On Reorganising the Party. 6) The agrarian question. 7) On the Duma.

Lenin gave reports on the current situation and the agrarian question. The Conference came out for restoring Party unity and merging the practical centres of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and their Central Organs on a basis of equality, and also for mergers of parallel organisations in the localities, authorising the united C.C. to call a unity congress. In its resolution on “Party Reorganisation”, the Conference recommended the practice of a broad electoral principle and the principle of democratic centralism. Departures from the latter were recognised as admissible only in the event of insuperable practical obstacles. In the “Agrarian Resolution” (on Lenin’s report) the Conference, elaborating the decisions of the Third Congress, proposed that the point in the Party’s agrarian programme dealing with “cut-off lands” should be replace d by the demand for the confiscation of all landed estates and state and church lands. The Conference adopted a resolution on an active boycott of the First Duma. In view of the fact that an armed uprising had already started in Moscow, the Conference, on Lenin’s proposal, hastily wound up its work, and the delegates went home to take part in the uprising. p. 192

{4} L’Humanité—a daily founded in 1904 by Jaurès as the organ of the French Socialist Party. In 1905, the paper welcomed the revolution which had started in Russia, voicing the French people’s solidarity with “the Russian nation creating its own 1789”. The newspaper organised a collection of funds in aid of the Russian revolution. During the First World War (1914–18) the paper was in the hands of the extreme Right wing of the French Socialist Party and took a chauvinist stand.

In 1918, Marcel Cachin, the outstanding leader of the French and international working-class movement, became the paper’s political director. From 1918 to 1920, the paper opposed the imperialist policy of the French Government, which had sent its troops to fight against the Soviet Republic. From December 1920, following the split in the French Socialist Party and the formation of the Communist Party of France, the paper became the latter’s Central Organ. p. 192

{5} La Tribune Rune—a bulletin of the S.R. Party published in Paris in French from January 1904 to December 1909 and from October 1912 to July 1913; in 1904 it was published fortnightly and then monthly. p. 192

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