V. I.   Lenin

Theses of a Report Made at the St. Petersburg City Conference of July 8 on the Attitude of the Social-Democratic Labour Party to the Third Duma[1]

Written: Written in July 1907
Published: Published as a leaflet in July 1907. Published according to the leaflet text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 13, pages 58-59.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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1. The boycott of the Duma, as the experience of the Russian revolution has shown, is the only correct decision on the part of the revolutionary Social-Democrats under such historical conditions as make it a really active boycott, i. e., one that represents the force of a broad and universal revolutionary upswing moving directly towards a straightforward assault on the old regime (consequently, towards an armed uprising). The boycott fulfils a great historical task when it serves as a warning by the proletariat to the whole people against blind petty-bourgeois infatuation with constitutional illusions and with the first quasi-constitutional institutions granted by the old regime.

2. To regard the boycott as an effective means in itself, apart from a sweeping, universal, powerful, and rapid up swing of the revolution and a direct assault of the whole people aimed at overthrowing the old regime, apart from the aims of the struggle against popular enthusiasm for the granted constitution, is to act under the influence of feeling rather than of reason.

3. Therefore, to proclaim a boycott of the Duma on the grounds that the electoral law favourable to the Cadets has been superceded by one favourable to the Octobrists, on the grounds that a frankly Octobrist Duma is taking the place of the Second Duma, which spoke in a Cadet way and acted in an Octobrist way and in which the Social-Democrats took part not without benefit to the cause of the revolution—to proclaim a boycott on such grounds would mean not only substituting revolutionary excitability for   steady revolutionary work, but revealing that the Social-Democrats themselves are a victim of the worst illusions in regard to the Cadet Duma and the Cadet constitution.

4. The focal point of all the propaganda of the revolutionary Social-Democrats should be to explain to the people that the coup d’éat of June 3,1907 was a direct and absolutely inevitable result of the defeat of the December uprising of 1905. The lesson of the second period of the Russian revolution, that of 1906 and 1907, is that the same systematic offensive of reaction and retreat of the revolution that took place throughout that period, is inevitable so long as a belief in the constitution prevails, so long as quasi-constitutional methods of struggle prevail, so long as the proletariat has not mustered its strength and recovered from the defeats inflicted on it in order to rise in in comparably broader masses for a more decisive and aggressive revolutionary assault aimed at the overthrow of the tsarist regime.

5. The strike movement that is now flaring up in the Moscow industrial area and is beginning to spread to other regions of Russia should be regarded as the most important guarantee of a possible revolutionary upswing in the near future. Therefore, the Social-Democrats should do their utmost not only to support and develop the economic struggle of the proletariat, but to convert this movement, which so far is only a trade-union movement, into a broad revolutionary upswing and direct struggle of the working-class masses against the armed force of tsarism. Only when the efforts of the Social-Democrats in this. direction have been crowned with success, only on the, basis of an aggressive revolutionary movement that has already come. into existence, can the boycott slogan acquire serious importance in its inseparable connection with a direct appeal to the masses for an armed uprising, for the overthrow of .the tsarist regime, and the replacement of the latter by a provisional revolutionary government, for the convocation of a constituent assembly on the basis of universal, direct, and equal suffrage by secret ballot.


[1] The St. Petersburg City Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. was held in Terijoki (Finland) on July 8 and 14 (21 and 27), 1907. The records of this Conference have been lost. Sixty-one delegates with the right to vote and 21 consultative delegates attended the first session.

Lenin made a report to the Conference on the attitude towards the elections to the Third Duma. The Conference approved Lenin’s line against boycott of the Third Duma, which he upheld in his theses and reports.

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