V. I.   Lenin

The Fifth (All-Russian) Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.

December 21–27, 1908 (January 3–9, 1909)


Draft Resolution on the Present Moment and the Tasks of the Party

The present political situation is characterised by the following features:

(a) The old feudal autocracy is evolving towards a bourgeois monarchy which covers up absolutism by sham constitutional forms. The alliance of tsarism with the Black-Hundred landlords and the top commercial and industrial bourgeoisie has been openly solidified and recognised by the coup d’&at of June 3 and the establishment of the Third Duma. Having of necessity finally taken the path of the capitalist development of Russia, and striving to keep to a path which would preserve the power and the revenues of the feudalist landlords, the autocracy is manoeuvring between that class and the representatives of capital. Their petty disputes are made use of for the maintenance of absolutism, which together with these classes is carrying on a furious counter-revolutionary struggle against the socialist proletariat and the democratic peasantry, who displayed their strength in the recent mass struggle.

(b) The agrarian policy of present-day tsarism is distinguished by the same bourgeois-Bonapartist character. Tsarism has lost all faith in the naive devotion of the peasant masses to the monarchy. It seeks an alliance with the rich peas ants, to whom it has given a free hand to plunder the countryside. The autocracy is making frantic efforts to break up all communal allotment landowning as speedily as possible, and to consolidate purely private landowning. Such a policy makes all the contradictions of capitalism in the countryside a hundred times more acute, and hastens   the division of the countryside into an insignificant minority of reactionaries and a revolutionary mass of proletarians and semi-proletarians.

(c) The liberal bourgeoisie headed by the Cadet Parts, having taken the counter-revolutionary path at the very first. mass actions in the revolution, continues to pursue that path, coming still closer to the Octobrists, arid by its tsarist nationalist agitation—which expresses the growth of self-consciousness of the bourgeoisie as a class—is in fact doing a service to absolutism and the feudal-minded landlords.

(d) The peasant masses, as even their restricted and distorted representation in the Third Duma shows, continue—in spite of all the persecutions of the democratic element in the countryside—to remain, all their wavering not withstanding, on the side of a revolutionary-democratic agrarian upheaval which, by completely abolishing landlordism, would thereby ensure the most rapid, large-scale and free development of productive forces in a capitalist Russia. The law of November 9 only hastens the division of the peasant masses into irreconcilably hostile and politically-conscious forces.

(e) The proletariat has sustained, arid continues to sustain, the heaviest blows of all, both from the autocracy arid from the rapidly uniting and aggressive capitalists. In spite of this, the proletariat in comparison with other classes preserves the greatest unity and the greatest loyalty to its class party, with which it was fused by the revolution. The proletariat, is continuing the struggle for its class interests and deepening its socialist class-consciousness, remaining the only class capable of giving consistent leadership to a new revolutionary struggle.

(f) On the whole it is beyond doubt that the objective problems of a bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia remain unsolved. The continuing economic crisis, unemployment and famine prove that the latest policy of the autocracy cannot provide the conditions for the capitalist development of Russia. This policy inevitably leads to the deepening of the conflict between the democratic masses and the master classes, the growth of discontent among new sections of the population, the sharpening and deepening   of the political struggle between the different classes. In such an economic and political situation a new revolutionary crisis is inevitably coming to a head.

(g) The general sharpening of struggle on the world market due mainly to the changes in the industrial situation of Western Europe in the direction of a crisis, which has in 1908 taken the form of a depression, and due to the revolutionary movements in the East which herald the formation of national capitalist states, is intensifying competition, leading to more frequent international conflicts, thereby sharpening the class contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and making the general international situation more and more revolutionary.

Considering this state of affairs, the All-Russian Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. recognises that the principal tasks of the Party at the present time are:

(1) To explain to the mass of the people the meaning and importance of the latest policy of the autocracy and the’ role of the socialist proletariat which, while pursuing a class policy of its own, must give leadership to the democratic peasantry in the present political situation and in the coining revolutionary struggle.

(2) To thoroughly ’study and widely popularise the experience of mass struggle in 1905-07, which has provided indispensable lessons in revolutionary Social-Democratic tactics.

(3) To strengthen the R.S.D.L.P. in the form it was built up during the revolutionary epoch; to maintain the traditions of its unfaltering struggle, both against the autocracy and reactionary classes arid against bourgeois liberalism; to struggle against deviations from revolutionary Marxism and against attempts, revealed among certain elements of the Party who had fallen under the influence of disintegration, to whittle down the slogans of the R.S.D.L.P. and to liquidate the illegal organisation of the R.S.D.L.P.

At the same time it should be borne in mind that only by promoting the transfer of Party functions to Social-Democratic workers themselves—a process which is already definitely materialising—and only by setting up and consolidating illegal Party organisations can the Party emerge on the right path of development.

(4) To assist in every way possible the economic struggle of the working class, in accordance with the resolutions of the London and Stuttgart Congresses.

(5) To use the Duma and the Duma rostrum for revolutionary Social-Democratic propaganda and agitation.

(6) First among immediate tasks comes prolonged effort to train up, organise and unite the class-conscious masses of the proletariat. Then, subordinated to this task, the work of organisation should be extended to the peasantry and the army, particularly in the form of printed propaganda and agitation—principal attention being given to the socialist education of the proletarian and semi-proletarian elements among the peasantry and in the army.

Written in late December 1908–early January 1909
First published in 1929 in the Second-Third Editions of Lenin’s Works, Vol XIV
Published according to a hectographed copy



  | Directives for the Committee on Questions of Organisation  

Works Index   |   Volume 15 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index
< backward   forward >