V. I. Lenin

The Second Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. (First All-Russia Conference){4}

NOVEMBER 8–7 (16–20), 1906

Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 186-191.1.
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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of the St. Petersburg and Moscow Committees, Polish Social-Democrats and the Latvians

1. We have had to accept a struggle on the Duma basis only through the fault of the treacherous bourgeoisie.

2. We must base the election campaign on opposition between revolutionary and “peaceful” struggle, showing the great danger of Cadet hegemony in the emancipation movement. Hence the question: is a bloc with the Cadets (agreement at the first stage) admissible?

3. At the first stage, Social-Democracy must, as a general rule, act independently; by way of exception—agreements at the first stage with the parties recognising the constituent assembly, armed uprising, etc.; at the second stage—agreements of a technical character, only for the proportional distribution of mandates. There is nothing more dangerous than to tell the masses: vote with us for the conciliators. Krushevan is dangerous not because he has a seat in the Duma, but because he is a particle of the Black-Hundred organisation supporting the government. For the sake of small separate exceptions you support Cadet hegemony, thereby upsetting the whole of our principled position (the Caucasus, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Poland refuse to have agreements). If the Black-Hundred men are returned, the Duma will simply be more violent. Why do you believe that it is not the Cadets but the Social-Democrats who are to blame for a return of the Black-Hundred men—in the event of a split in the vote?

First published in 1960 in Vol. 14 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works
Printed from the minutes




Agreement at elections is a bloc (you tell the masses: do ut des{1} ). We say: we sometimes go along with the revolutionary bourgeoisie, but never with the opportunist and treacherous bourgeoisie. The election campaign will proceed between two extremes: 400 Cadets + 100 Social-Democrats (through agreement) and 200 Black-Hundred men + 250 Cadets + 20 or 50 Social-Democrats (without agreement). To put forward both an agent and a fighter is to hit out at one’s own positions. The Black-Hundred men will be defeat ed through agreements, but then the Social-Democrats will also be defeated (morally).

First published in 1960 in Vol. 14 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works
Printed from the minutes




I have merely said that the platform contrasts revolutionary and peaceful methods and nothing more, the rest being unsatisfactory. Nothing is said about how the Social-Democrats differ from other groups of “working people” (Socialist-Revolutionaries), as the Social-Democratic group in the Duma does in its declaration.{6} No distinction is made between scientific and vulgar socialism.

Nothing is said about the need to distinguish between the proletariat’s stand and that of the petty proprietor. The platform does not come out for a bloc, but it is a bloc, because any petty bourgeois will subscribe to it. In a platform   we cannot remain silent about the other parties, and this one says nothing about them, apart from a vague indication: “more resolute”, etc.

First published in 1960 in Vol. 14 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works
Printed from the minutes





Lenin insists that the question of a “labour congress” is a burning one and should be discussed.


Lenin points to the publication of letters by Plekhanov, Martov and others in the bourgeois press, and to the fact that Kostrov, for instance, failed to table in the Duma group the proposal on the demand for a Cadet ministry (which came front the C.C.), thereby Committing a breach of Party discipline, and a good thing too. The agitation for a “labour congress” is used to put spokes in the wheels of our Party’s activity. We have the C.C. organ, but no Central Organ, and why not? There is enough money, the C.C. organ is published regularly, but there is no organisation, and that is why there is no C.O.

First published in 1960 in Vol. 14 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works
Printed from the minutes



The Bund delegates have tabled a resolution at the conference which almost entirely repeats the resolution of the Bund’s Seventh Congress, and which gives a historical   assessment of the Duma boycott.{7} The undersigned delegates to the conference have abstained in the voting on this resolution for the following reasons. It is wrong and impossible to separate the question of why we go into the Duma{8} from the question of how we get there. Recognition that the boycott is correct means that the basic character of all our tactics remains absolutely the same under the present participation in the election as it was during the boycott of the First Duma. To recognise that the Cadet majority of the First Duma was a hindrance to the activity of the revolutionary elements, while endorsing agreements between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats at the first stage of the elections is to have our general premises beaten by our practical policies. To recognise and support Cadet hegemony in agitation before the masses by putting up common electoral rolls only to condemn this hegemony later in a special additional resolution, is to compromise in the strongest possible way all the tactics and all the principles of revolutionary Social-Democracy. Those are the grounds on which we place before the entire R.S.D.L. Party the following minority opinion.

“The tactics of boycotting the State Duma, which helped the mass of the people to form a correct opinion of the impotence and lack of independence of that institution, found complete justification in the farcical legislative activities of the State Duma and in its dissolution.

“But the counter-revolutionary behaviour of the bourgeoisie and the compromising tactics of the Russian liberals prevented the immediate success of the boycott and compelled the proletariat to take up the struggle against the landlord and bourgeois counter-revolution also on the basis of the Duma campaign.

“The Social-Democrats must wage this struggle outside the Duma and in the Duma itself in order to develop the class-consciousness of the proletariat, to further expose to the whole people the harmfulness of constitutional illusions, and to develop the revolution.

“In view of this state of affairs, and for the purposes mentioned above, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party must take a most energetic part in the present Duma campaign.

“The principal objects of the Social-Democratic election and Duma campaigns are: firstly, to explain to the people the uselessness of the Duma as a means of satisfying the demands of the proletariat and the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie, especially the peasantry. Secondly, to explain to the people the impossibility of achieving political liberty by parliamentary methods as long as the real power remains in the hinds of the tsar’s government, and to explain the necessity of an armed uprising, of a provisional revolutionary government and of a constituent assembly elected by universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot. Thirdly, to criticise the First Duma and reveal the bankruptcy of Russian liberalism, and especially to show how dangerous and fatal it would be for the cause of the revolution if the liberal-monarchist Cadet Party were to play the predominant and leading role in the liberation movement.

“As the class party of the proletariat, the Social-Democratic Party must remain absolutely independent through out the election and Duma campaigns, and here, too, must under no circumstances merge its slogans or tactics with those of any other opposition or revolutionary party.

“Therefore, at the first stage of the election campaign, i.e., before the masses, it must as a general rule come out absolutely independently and put forward only its own Party candidates.

“Exceptions to this rule are permissible only in cases of extreme necessity and only in relation to parties that fully accept the main slogans of our immediate political struggle, i.e., those which recognise the necessity of an armed uprising and are fighting for a democratic republic. Such agreements, however, may only extend to the nomination of a joint list of candidates, without in any way restricting the independence of the political agitation carried on by the Social-Democrats.

In the workers’ curia the Social-Democratic Party must come out absolutely independently and refrain from entering into agreements with any other party.

“At the higher stages of the election, i.e., at the assemblies of electors in the towns and of delegates and electors in the countryside, partial agreements may be entered into exclusively for the purpose of distributing seats proportionately   to the number of votes cast for the parties entering the agreement. In this connection, the Social-Democratic Party distinguishes the following main types of bourgeois parties according to the consistency and determination of their democratic views: (a) the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Polish Socialist Party and similar republican parties[2] ; (b) the Popular Socialists{9} and the Trudoviks of a similar type[3] ; (c) the Cadets.”

Proletary No. 8, November 23, 1906
Printed from the Proletary text


{1} Give and take.–Ed.

[2] Perhaps the Zionist socialists{10} also come under this category. —Lenin

[3] Perhaps including certain Jewish democrats. We are not competent to judge of these matters without having the opinion of the Jewish Social-Democrats. —Lenin

{4} The Second (First All-Russia) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was held at Tammerfors from November 3 to 7 (16–20), 1906. It was attended by 32 delegates with vote: 11 from the Mensheviks, 7 from the Bund, 6 from the Bolsheviks, 5 from the Social-Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, and 3 from the Social-Democracy of the Latvian Territory. Members of the Central Committee and the Central Organ Editorial Board at tended with voice only.

The Conference adopted the following agenda: 1. Electoral campaign. 2. Party Congress. 3. Labour Congress. 4. Struggle against the Black Hundreds and the pogroms. 5. Partisan activity.

The Menshevik C.C. secured a majority for the Mensheviks by bringing in a number of fictitious organisations, which enabled them to impose Menshevik resolutions on some questions. By 18 votes (Mensheviks and Bundists) to 14, the Conference adopted the Menshevik resolution “On the R.S.D.L.P.’s Tactics in the Electoral Campaign”, which allowed blocs with the Cadets. To counter this opportunist resolution, Lenin motioned, on behalf of 14 delegates, a “Minority Opinion”, the Bolshevik platform for the electoral campaign, which emphasised the need for the working-class party to be organisationally and ideologically independent. It allowed for the possibility of temporary agreements only with the Trudoviks and the S.R.s as representing petty-bourgeois democracy (pp. 188–91). Lenin criticised the Menshevik draft electoral platform, which the C.C. submitted for approval by the Conference, and motioned a number of amendments. Under Bolshevik pressure, the Conference adopted a resolution introducing the amendments.

The Conference adopted a resolution “On Unity in the Electoral Campaign in the Localities” with Lenin’s amendment, which put a curb on the Menshevik C.C. in practising the tactics of setting up bloc with the Cadets in the localities (see present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 322–23).

Lenin insisted on the need for an emergency Party congress. The Conference decided to call the next congress not later than March 15 (28), 1907. Although the Bolsheviks demanded a discussion of the question of a “labour congress”, believing agitation for it to be a violation of Party discipline, the Conference did not discuss the question, confining itself to a compromise resolution, “On the Limits of the Agitation for a Labour Congress”.

There was no time to discuss the questions of fighting the Black Hundreds and the pogroms, or the partisan activity. The Conference authorised the C.C. to issue a brief report on the Conference, containing all the draft resolutions and minority opinions. But the Menshevik C.C., in its organ, Sotsial-Demokrat, published only the Conference resolutions, without the Bolsheviks’ “Minority Opinions”.

Lenin analysed and criticised the work of the Conference in his “Blocs With the Cadets” and “Party Discipline and the Fight Against the Pro-Cadet Social-Democrats” (see present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 307–19 and 320–23). p. 186

{5} Lenin’s report was based on the Bolshevik resolution, later presented at the Conference as a “Minority Opinion” on behalf of the delegates of the Social-Democracy of Poland, the Latvian Territory, St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Central Industrial Region and the Volga area (pp. 188–91).

The Social-Democracy of the Latvian Territory—until 1906, the Latvian Social-Democratic Labour Party—was set up in June 1904 at the party’s First Congress. At the Second L.S.D.L.P. Congress in June 1905, the party adopted its programme. From 1905 to 1907, the L.S.D.L.P. guided the revolutionary action by the workers. Lenin said that “during the revolution the Lettish proletariat and the Lettish Social-Democratic Party occupied one of the first and most important places in the struggle against the autocracy and all the forces of the old order” (see present edition, Vol. 16, p. 260).

At the Fourth (Unity) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1906, the L.S.D.L.P. entered the R.S.D.L.P. as a territorial organisation, and after the Congress was called the Social-Democracy of the Latvian Territory. p. 186

{6} A reference to the Bolshevik draft declaration by the Duma Social-Democratic group, which was written by Lenin. Slightly abridged, it is quoted by Lenin in his article “The Declaration of Our Group in the Duma” (see present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 32–37). p. 187

{7} A reference to the resolution “On Tactics” adopted by the Bund’s Seventh Congress, which was held at the end of August and beginning of September 1906. p. 189

{8} The Second Duma met on February 20 (March 5), 1907. The elections to the Duma were indirect and unequal, and were held in an atmosphere of reprisals and trials by military tribunals. Still, the Second Duma turned out to be more Leftist than the First, the reason being the more distinct demarcation between the parties than in the First Duma period, the growing class consciousness of the masses and the participation of the Bolsheviks in the elections.

The Bolsheviks used the Duma as a rostrum for exposing tsarism and the treacherous role of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, for proclaiming and propagandising the Party’s revolutionary programme, for releasing the peasantry from the influence of the liberals and creating a revolutionary bloc in the Duma of representatives of the working class and the peasantry. This was an entirely new, revolutionary Marxist line of behaviour for proletarian delegates to take in a parliamentary institution. Mean while, the Mensheviks pursued the opportunist line of supporting the Cadets.

By mid-1907, when it became obvious that the workers and peasants lacked the strength to defeat tsarism, the tsarist government decided to disperse the Duma. On the night of June 2 (15), 1907, the Social-Democratic group, in the Duma was arrested, and the Duma itself dissolved by the tsar’s decree the following day. p. 189

{10} Zionist socialists—members of the Zionist Socialist Labour Party, a petty-bourgeois Jewish nationalist organisation formed in 1904. They believed the main task of the Jewish proletariat to be a struggle for obtaining their own territory and establishing a national state. They preached class co-operation with the Jewish bourgeoisie, strove to isolate Jewish workers from the revolutionary movement of the Russian and international proletariat, and tried to sow hostile feelings among the workers of different nationalities. The nationalistic activity of the Zionist socialists served to obscure the class consciousness of the Jewish workers and did great harm to the working-class movement.

After the February 1917 bourgeois-democratic revolution, the Zionist Socialist Labour Party merged with the Socialist Jewish Labour Party (S.J.L.P.) to form the United Jewish Socialist Labour Party. p. 191

{9} Popular Socialists (P.S.)—members of the petty-bourgeois Trudovik Popular Socialist Party which in 1906 split away from the Right wing of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party (S.R.s). The Popular Socialists favoured a bloc with the Cadets. Lenin used to call them “Social-Cadets”, “philistine opportunists”, “S.R. Mensheviks”, vacillating between the Cadets and the S.R.s, and emphasised that the party “differs very little from the Cadets, for it deletes from its programme both republicanism and the demand for all the land” (see present edition, Vol. 11, p. 228). It was headed by A. V. Peshekhonov, N. F. Annensky, V. A. Myakotin and others. p. 191

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