V. I.   Lenin

Conference of the St. Petersburg Organisation of the R.S.D.L.P.[1]

From a Newspaper Report

Published: Proletary, No. 20, November 19, 1907. Published according to the text in Proletary.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 13, pages 135-140.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). 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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Report on the Third State Duma

The speaker first of all described the composition of the Third Duma. The government, by a simple rule-of-thumb method, so fashioned the electoral law of June 3 that the Duma was found to have two possible majorities: The Octobrist-Black-Hundred and the Octobrist-Cadet majorities. Both are certainly counter-revolutionary. In pursuing its reactionary policy the government will rely now on one and now on the other of these majorities, at the same time trying to screen the autocratic and feudal nature of its actions by talk about paper “reforms”. The Cadets, for their part, while in fact pursuing a treacherous policy of counter-revolution, will in words claim to be a party of truly democratic opposition.

A deal between the Cadets and the Octobrists in the Duma is inevitable, and the first steps towards it—as the speaker proved by a number of quotations from Cadet and Octobrist Party newspapers, by a number of facts about the activities of these parties and by reports from the re cent Cadet Party Congress—have already been taken. In the Third Duma the Cadet policy of a deal with the old regime is assuming clearer shape than it has had hitherto and no one will be left in doubt as to its true nature.

Neither of the Duma majorities, however, is objectively in a position to meet the vital economic and political   demands of any wide mass of the proletariat, peasantry, and urban democracy. The needs of these sections of the people will, as hitherto, be voiced primarily by the Social-Democrats. The make—up and activity of the Third Duma promise to provide the Social-Democrats with abundant and excellent propaganda material, which should be used against the Black-Hundred government, the avowedly feudal-minded landlords, Octobrists, and Cadets. As before, the tasks of Social-Democracy is to popularise among the widest mass of the people the idea of a national constituent assembly on the basis of universal suffrage, etc. There can be no question, therefore, of supporting the “Left” Octobrists or Cadets in the Duma. Few though they are in the Third Duma, the Social-Democrats should pursue an independent, socialist, and consistently democratic policy by making use of the Duma rostrum, the right of interpellation, etc. Some agreements are permissible with the group of Left deputies (especially in view of the need to have thirty signatures for making interpellations), but with no others, and they must be agreements that do not conflict with the programme or tactics of Social-Democracy. With that end in view an Information Bureau should be organised which would be binding upon no one, but would merely enable the Social— Democrats to influence the Left deputies.

Voices can already be heard in the Social-Democratic ranks, the speaker went on, calling for support of the “Left” Octobrists (in the election of the presiding committee, for instance), for the organisation of an Information Bureau with the Cadets, and for the so-called “guarding” of our Duma group. The talk about supporting the Octobrists, which comes from the Mensheviks, testifies as plainly as could be to the utter failure of the Menshevik tactics. When the Duma was dominated by the Cadets the Mensheviks clamoured for support for the Cadets. Stolypin had only to alter the electoral law in favour of the Octobrists for the Mensheviks to show themselves ready to support the Octobrists. Where will this path lead the Mensheviks in the end?

The speaker regarded an Information Bureau with the Cadets as impermissible, because it would mean informing one’s avowed enemies.

On the question of “guarding” the Duma group the speaker said that it was true that the group should be guarded. But for what purpose? Only in order that it should hold high the banner of Social-Democracy in the Duma, and that it should wage an irreconcilable struggle in the Duma against the counter-revolutionaries of all shades and descriptions, beginning with the Union people and ending with the Cadets. But on no account in order that it should support the “Left” Octobrists and Cadets. If its existence depended upon its having to support these groups, that is, support a deal with the Stolypin autocracy, then it would be better for it to end its existence honourably, explaining to the whole people why it was expelled from the Duma, should such expulsion follow.


In his concluding remarks Lenin dealt chiefly with the principal mistake of Menshevism—the idea of a “national opposition”. The Russian bourgeoisie was never revolutionary in the proper sense of the word, and for a quite understandable reason: owing to the position which the working class occupies in Russia and owing to the role of the working class in the revolution. After examining all the other arguments of the Mensheviks he moved the resolution published in Proletary, No. 19.

[Proletary, No. 20, November 19, 1907]



Resolution on the Third State Duma

Considering it obligatory for the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma to be guided by the resolution of the London Congress on the State Duma, as well as by the resolution on the non-proletarian parties,

the conference of the St. Petersburg organisation of the R.S.D.LP., in elaboration of these resolutions, considers it necessary to state the following:

1. Two majorities have already taken shape in the Third Duma: the Black-Hundred-Octobrist and the Octobrist Cadet majorities. The first is counter-revolutionary and stands particularly for increased repression and the protection of landlord privileges, going to the length of striving for complete restoration of the autocracy. The second majority, too, is definitely counter-revolutionary, but inclined to cover up its struggle against the revolution with certain illusory bureaucratic “reforms

2. Such a situation in the Duma is exceedingly favour able to a double political game being played by both the government and the Cadets. The government, while intensifying repression and continuing its “conquest” of Russia by military force, seeks to pose as a supporter of constitutional reforms. The Cadets, while actually voting with the counter-revolutionary Octobrists, seek to pose not only as an opposition but as spokesmen of democracy. In these circumstances the Social-Democrats have a particular responsibility for ruthlessly exposing this game, laying bare before the people both the oppression of the Black-Hundred landlords and the government on the one hand, and the counter-revolutionary nature of the Cadets, on the other. Direct or indirect support for the Cadets by the Social-Democrats (whether in the form of voting for the Right-wing   Cadets or the “Left” Octobrists in the presiding committee, or in the form of an Information Bureau with the participation of the Cadets, or by adapting our actions to their policy, etc.) would now directly harm the cause of class education of the mass of the workers and the cause of the revolution.

3. While upholding their socialist aims in full and criticising from this standpoint all the bourgeois parties, not excepting the most democratic and “Trudovik” of them, the Social-Democrats in their propaganda, should give prominence to the task of making it. clear to the broad masses that the Third Duma fails completely to meet the interests and demands of the people, and in this connection [they should conduct] widespread and vigorous propaganda for the idea of a constituent assembly based on universal, direct, and equal suffrage by secret ballot.

4. One of the principal tasks of Social-Democracy in the Third Duma is to expose. the class nature of the government’s and the liberals’ proposals with special attention to questions affecting the economic interests of the broad masses (the labour and agrarian questions, the budget, etc.)—the more so as the composition of the Third Duma promises exceptionally abundant material for the propaganda activities of the Social-Democrats.

5. In particular, the Social-Democrats in the Duma should use the right to make interpellations, for which purpose they should co-operate with other groups to the left of the Cadets without in any way retreating from the programme and tactics of Social-Democracy and without entering into any kind of blocs.

To avoid a repetition of the mistakes made by the Social-Democrats in the Second Duma, the Social-Democratic group should immediately propose to the Left, and only to the Left, deputies of the Duma (i. e., those capable of fighting the Cadets) the formation of an Information Bureau which would not bind its participants but would enable the workers’ deputies to exert systematic influence upon the democratic elements in the spirit of Social-Democratic policy.

[Proletary, No. 19, November 6, 1907]



Report on the Participation of Social-Democrats in the Bourgeois Press

Comrade Lenin’s second report concerned the question of Social-Democratic participation in the bourgeois press. The speaker set forth the point of view of the two wings of international Social-Democracy on this score and particularly the views of the orthodox members and of the revisionists in the German Social-Democratic Party. The orthodoxes at the Dresden Parteitag[2] agreed to the formula that it was permissible to participate in the press that was not hostile to Social-Democracy, on the grounds that in practice this was tantamount to a complete ban, since in present-day developed capitalist society there were no bourgeois newspapers that were not hostile to Social-Democracy.

The speaker took the stand that political participation in the bourgeois press, especially the supposedly non-party press, is absolutely inadmissible. Such newspapers as Tovarishch, by their hypocritically disguised fight against Social-Democracy, cause it much greater harm than the bourgeois party newspapers which are frankly hostile to Social-Democracy. This is best illustrated by the contributions to Tovarishch made by Plekhanov, Martov, Gorn, Kogan, etc. All their utterances are directed against the Party, and in actual fact it was not the Social-Democratic comrades who made use of the bourgeois newspaper Tovarishch, but this newspaper that made use of these comrades against the hateful R.S.D.L.P. Not a single article by a Social-Democrat has so far appeared which the editors of Tovarishch would not have approved of.

[Proletary, No. 20, November 19, 1907]


[1] The Conference of the St. Petersburg Organisation of the R.S.D.L.P. was held in Terijoki on October 27 (November 9), 1907. It was attended by 57 delegates with the right to vote and 11 consultative delegates. The agenda consisted of the following items: 1) Report of the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. on the election campaign to the Third Duma; 2) Report on the activities of the Central Committee; 3) The All-Russian Conference: 4) The trial of the Second Duma’s Social-Democratic group; 5) Unemployment; 6) Re-election of the city conference and other organisational questions.

The report of the St. Petersburg Committee stated that the police used brutal violence against the working-class voters during the elections to the Third Duma, prevented the Social-Democrats from conducting their election campaign, and so on. The report also mentioned the existence in St. Petersburg of an absolutely independent organisation of the Mensheviks, which was kept a secret from the Party.

The report on the activities of the Central Committee pointed out that the latter’s efficiency was inadequate owing to the absence of a stable majority. On many important questions (the publication of a Central Organ, endorsement of the resolution on the trade unions, discussion of the Duma group’s first steps, etc.) the Central Committee had not been able to arrive at any decisions owing to the disruptive role of the Mensheviks. On this item of the agenda the Conference expressed the wish that the representatives of the St. Petersburg organisation at the forthcoming All-Russian Conference should do their utmost to “help the C. C. out of the present impasse and raise its activities to the requisite level” (Proletary, No. 20, November 19, 1907).

Lenin delivered reports at the Conference on the preparations for the All-Russian Conference, namely, on the tactics of the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma and the participation of Social-Democrats in the bourgeois press. On the questions of S.D. tactics in the Duma the Conference voted for Lenin’s resolution by a majority of 37 against 12. Those who voted against it were the Mensheviks, who proposed supporting the “Left” Octobrists in the Third Duma and voting for a “Left” Octobrist in the election to the Duma presidium. The Conference adopted the Bolsheviks’ motion that it was inadmissible for Social-Democrats to participate in the bourgeois press. During the discussion of the trial against the S.D. group in the Second Duma, Lenin informed the Conference that he had notified the International Socialist Bureau about the impending trial, and that the Bureau, through the International Parliamentary Union, would raise the question in the British, German, and Belgian parliaments in order to draw the attention of the international working class to this matter. The Conference decided. to call a one-day strike of the men and women workers of St. Petersburg and the gubernia on the opening day of the trial against the S.D. group of the Second Duma.

The Conference elected two Bolshevik delegates to the All-Russian Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.

[2] Dresden Parteitag—the Dresden Congress of the German Social-Democratic Party, held September 13-20 (new style), 1903. The Congress adopted an opportunist resolution on the admissibility of S.D. participation in the bourgeois press.

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