V. I. Lenin

The Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.{5}

JANUARY 5–17 (18–30), 1912

Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 245.2-254.1.
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.  




This regardless of gratitude.

This concerns the Credentials Committee.

Instead of “gratitude” I suggest we insert (solemn) r e c o g n i t i o n of the tremendous importance of what has been done, and elaborate on the difficult conditions.

Written not later than January 5 (18), 1912 Printed from the original
First published in 1941 in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 1



  1. 1. Break-up and absence of the C.C. ))
  2. (( 2. Initiative of local organisations in restoring the Party. ))
    (( Elections to the Fourth Duma.
  3. 3. Pressing tasks of practical work have made the task of restoring the Party especially acute. ))
  4. 4. A l l have been invited and only those who refused to help the Party are absent.
  5. 5. All organisations operating in Russia are represented.
    — — The constitution of the conference as the Party’s supreme body whose duty it is to set up authorised central institutions and help to restore Party organisations and Party work everywhere.

  1. 1) National organisations were invited three or four times.
    — — (1) the fault for the separation from Russian organisations has been stated to fall entirely on the non-Russian organisations;
  2. 2) partial support for the downright liquidationist (Bundist) aspirations;
    helpless vacillations on the question of whether the Party is to be or not to be;
  3. 3) which would be the greatest abnormality if the Russian organisations carrying the whole burden of the work in the most important centres of the movement rejected the work and the Party’s restoration.

  4. 4.
    1. (1) none for three years;
    2. (2) recognised the need and prepared for two and a half years;
  5. (3) everyone without exception was notified and invited and given a chance to attend;
  6. (4) twenty Russian organisations have rallied round the R.O.C.{7}
Written not later than January 5 (18), 1912 Printed from the original
First published on January 18, 1937 in Pravda No. 18



JANUARY 7 (20), 1912

The work at the I.S.B. falls into two parts, one routine: correspondence, distribution of members ... etc.; the other—congresses: Copenhagen and Zurich.{8} Following the London Congress one [representative] was [on the I.S.B.] from the Russian Social-Democrats. The Plenary Meeting also elected Plekhanov, but he refused, saying that one man was enough to do the work. At the Copenhagen Congress we drew closer together and spoke in a friendly manner; I was no longer able to talk to the Golos people and looked at Trotsky with disapproval, especially over the letter.{9} Towards the end of the sitting, Plekhanov accepted the Plenary Meeting’s proposal. He and I have one vote. Until recently we have had no conflicts of any kind. At Copenhagen I worked on the co-operative commit tee. Of most interest are the extremely aggravated relations among the German Social-Democrats: unity on the surface and two different trends beneath. On behalf of the German Social-Democrats, one half represents the party and the other, the trade unions. The greater the German delegation numerically, the lower seems the hegemony of the German Social-Democrats to decline. At Stuttgart they covered themselves with disgrace by voting for the colonial resolution.... One of their representatives, for instance, says that it is impossible to expropriate the capitalists. It turns out that in this context their programme says nothing at all about expropriation. What they are actually conducting is not a Social-Democratic line. There should be no illusions about this, for as time goes on the struggle is bound to sharpen and grow; of course, the mass of the proletariat will not vacillate. They staged a walk-out at the Magdeburg Congress, but no Social-Democrat will be intimidated by that kind of thing.{10}

There is a split among the Czechs.{11} We were against the split, feeling that the Social-Democrats should not succumb to any chauvinist or nationalist agitation. In Austria, there are a great many scandals over the language   to be used in the paper work, etc. Plekhanov was the rapporteur on this split, and his resolution was adopted by a large majority. There again, Trotsky tried his reconciliation, saying that the fault lay with Adler, the most “peaceable” and opportunist Social-Democrat.

The German Social-Democrats are undoubtedly approaching a new epoch—the epoch of the socialist revolution. The economic and military crisis and world complications, all tend to bring out the symptoms of the epoch. There has been preparatory work so far. Now it is the epoch of battles against the bourgeoisie. And that is where the distinction between the reformists and the revolutionary Social-Democrats is being realised. A sitting of the I.S.R. was called at Zurich over Morocco. There was also an incident there. Molkenbuhr wrote a letter in his own name suggesting that no sitting should be held. Rosa Luxemburg published the letter, and that sparked things off.{12} The revolutionary Social-Democrats won out at the last congress. Bebel said that he would take action against Rosa Luxemburg. There was an attempt on the part of the French to get the strike written into the resolution as a means of struggle against war. All the revolutionary Social-Democrats spoke against, arguing that we should not let the government know in advance which weapon we shall take up, and which is most suitable and where. The proposal was rejected. Bebel raised the question of non-publication of the documents, hinting at Rosa Luxemburg and demanding a resolution. I stood up for Rosa Luxemburg. To Bebel’s great indignation I quoted Quelch. There Bebel acted as a conciliator. The letter published by Rosa Luxemburg has nothing to do with the [other] documents. Action in the party was the most that should be done against her, and that was done; it was unfair to take the whole thing to the I.S.B....

Various trends have grown up within German Social-Democracy and are bursting to get out; inside, the party is seething. Resolute action is imminent there. A conflict between the reformist and the revolutionary Social-Democrats is inevitable.

First published in 1965 in Vol. 54 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works Printed from a record of the proceedings in longhand



JANUARY 8 (21), 1912

The Party should intervene actively, and a resolution should be adopted. As we have discovered from our exchange of opinion, the workers are paying a great deal of attention to the famine and are actively intervening and helping the starving. Helping the starving is not philanthropy. It is philanthropy only with the bourgeois approach. But that is not all. The Cadets have really adopted the stand point of the ministry officials. We should join the commit tees which are being set up to fight the famine. I mean the non-Party workers’ committees. We should not prescribe their establishment but we should take part in them. The money should best be sent to the Social-Democratic group, the workers’ unions, clubs and other societies. We should also publish a leaflet, but preferably addressed to the workers and peasants. We should see to the distribution of the speech by Markov II, who said the starving peasants were idlers. It is a fine speech and makes good reading.

First published in 1965 in Vol. 54 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works Printed from a record of the proceedings in longhand



Organisational Rules

§ 1—idem.

§ 2—add about permissibility of co-optation as a provisional measure (in accordance with the December 1908 resolution).

§ 3—idem.

§ 4—idem.

§ 5—idem.

§ 6—idem.

§ 7—idem.

§ 8—out altogether. More about the C.C.

§ 9—instead of 1,000 electors—put 30 or 50 and (temporarily) abolish proportional representation.

Note. In view of the pressing state of affairs, the 1912 Conference was constituted as the Party’s supreme body (see resolution on conference).{2}

written not later than January 11 (24), 1912 Printed from the original
First published in 1941 in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 1



JANUARY 11 (24), 1912

I should like to deal with another aspect of the question. It is about flexibility.... The resolution was correct.{13} I should like to call attention to which side is important. Let us take a legal society as an example. I can’t say this about the whole of Russia, but about 5 towns I can say that ... it is possible. And so what does a legal society give us above all? Lectures of a Marxist character: this seems to be permitted. I see from the press that they are permitted in the big towns. It is said that lecturers are hard to come by.... The workers themselves should bring out the lecturers and pay them. Then there are the library and reading room. I don’t know whether they are allowed to take Zvezda. Then, legal societies arrange all kinds of entertainment. That is important from the financial side, and, besides, the entertainment makes it a kind of club. Now if this type of society is not a fiction, but a reality, and there is no question about that, we should ask ourselves [whether] we have worked to extend such societies. [Whether] we have given reports about such societies at factories and plants. Have we tried to organise such societies? Further, how are these societies to be used? We are now almost similar in type to the German organisation in the epoch of the anti-Socialist laws, but for us it is both harder and   easier. It is harder because legal possibilities were open to them. The C.C. consisted of members of the parliamentary party group, met legally and invited illegal workers. For our part, we have a great deal of sympathy in the masses and support for Social-Democracy. In every society we should have small Social-Democratic cells closely bound up with the Party, deciding on each matter in the spirit of the Party’s resolutions.... These cells should not be as unwieldy as the districts and subdistricts. St. Petersburg and Riga fit the [legal] society type. In Moscow, little was done in this respect. And so we find these cells allowing a different type of Party structure. In the past, in my time, we had to do everything ourselves. Today, the trade unions and organisations handle some of the work. Whenever possible, the political struggle is frequently also conducted by the legal Duma group, and if we had more legal societies built on these lines, the revolution would be invincible. That is the question of the organisations’ flexibility. It will be the ideal for rebuilding our organisation. These illegal cells surrounded by a network of legal cells will give us a new basis. All contacts should be reduced to a minimum, as though the organisation is and is not there. Let there be no meetings. Party work has assumed a different form. The new form has already wedged into the old. Let it be less formalised but expanding through work in the legal societies. Every step towards culture should be permeated with the Social-Democratic spirit, with Social-Democratic culture.... This will be a resolute fight against the liquidators.... There is a cell, which is connected with the C.O., contacting it once a year and doing a hundred times more than before. We have not done enough in the legal societies. We must wrest them from the hands of the liberals, we must [wrest] the entire legal movement. The legal societies should be spread out and expanded. Concrete attention should be given to how work is being organised in the legal societies. Everywhere the illegal cells should be surrounded by a network of legal cells.

First published in 1965 in Vol. 54 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works Printed from a record of the proceedings in longhand



Insert at the beginning (α) confirmation of the December 1908 resolution or confirmation of its correctness on the strength of the three years’ experience; (β) recognition that the work of local Social-Democratic forces is creating a type of party here which is approximating to the German one of 1878–90.{14} We should go forward along this road
this instead of § 1 ]].

In thesis 5, throw out formalisation and instead of “expansion” say strengthening.

§ 7—reword more cautiously, as in December 1908.

§ 9—set out to the effect that the regular distribution of a regularly and frequently published illegal Social-Democratic newspaper is of especial importance for political agitation, for directing the revolutionary struggle, a n d f o r l i n k i n g u p all the illegal organisations and illegal cells in the various societies.

Written on January 11 (24), 1912 Printed from the original
First published in 1941 in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 1



Resolution on the Petition Campaign


1) writers’ invention unrelated to the masses, [not] com[ing] from the masses;

2) indifferent signing without clear [slogans], without agitation in the [masses], without interest [on the part of the masses];

3) the text and the character of the petition are unsatisfactory;

4) wresting a partial demand, while the circumstances obtrude generally elementary conditions of freedom [for] the whole people;

5) failure: 1,300 signatures. No support in Kiev, Yekaterinoslav, the Caucasus, etc.;

6) the interest in proletarian meetings has shown that the “[wa]ys” to the masses should be sought not where the liquidators want to.

Sum total:

Recognise failure as final.

Petition on the concrete conditions [of the epoch]—one of the least [suitable] means of agitation.

Call to agitation for freedom [of coalition] in connection with general [political] demands and revolutionary agitation in the masses.

Draft resolution

To recognise:

1) that the [so]-called “petition campaign” was started by a [group of St. Petersburg writers] of the liquidationist trend, without being a product [of mass struggle], without being connected with active initiative ... by workers’ organisations or forward-looking workers;

2) that the said [campaign in virtue of the character] of the petition, and in virtue of the general political conditions, has [inevitably degenerated into a purely formal] and indifferent signing of [a paper] which is of no interest to the masses, [without] broad participation by the workers themselves in discussing ... the petition either in the press or at meetings;

3) that the said petition, circulated and commented upon by the liquidators, advanced an isolated demand for political freedom for one class, the [most] advanced and most revolutionary class, making the demand [outside the general] elementary conditions of political freedom for [the whole people], thereby distorting the tasks in the struggle of the proletariat—[the leader]... of the whole people—against tsarism and dooming the “campaign” to [failure];

4) that the outcome of the [petition campaign] in question has clearly confirmed that [the whole] scheme was   wrong and isolated from [the workers’ mass]: the petition collected only 1,300 signatures, [while] in all the Party organisations, including those [in the Caucasus], Yekaterinoslav and Kiev, and even ... sympathising with the liquidators, the petition campaign, clearly not supported by the [masses], [failed to win] any support at all, just as the [campaign] was given no support [by our Social-Democratic group in the Duma].

Written not later than January 17 (30), 1912 Printed from the original
First published in 1941 in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 1


{1} See present edition, Vol. 17, p. 482.—Ed.

{2} This paragraph is crossed out in the MS.—Ed.

{3} See present edition, Vol. 17, pp. 479–80.—Ed.

{4} The MS. is partially damaged, and the words in square brackets have been restored according to the meaning and the text of the adopted resolution.—Ed.

{5} The Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. was held from January 5 to 17 (18 to 30), 1912. It had the actual importance of a congress and was directed by Lenin. He gave reports   on the present situation and the Party’s tasks, on the work of the International Socialist Bureau, and also spoke on other questions. Lenin drafted resolutions on all the important items of the agenda.

Of tremendous theoretical and practical importance were the Conference resolutions on “Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators” and “The Party Organisation Abroad”. The Conference declared that by their behaviour the liquidators had finally placed themselves outside the Party, and expelled them from the R.S.D.L.P. The Conference condemned the activity of anti-Party groups abroad: the Mensheviks supporting Golos, the Vperyod group and the Trotskyites. It recognised as absolutely necessary the existence of a single Party organisation abroad working under the supervision and direction of the Central Committee to promote the Party, and said that the groups abroad which “refuse to submit to the Russian centre of Social-Democratic work, i.e., the Central Committee, and introduce disorganisation because of their separate contacts with Russia in obviation of the Central Committee, have no right to use the name of the R.S.D.L.P.” The Conference adopted a resolution on “The Character and Organisational Forms of Party Work”, approved Lenin’s draft organisational Rules of the Party, endorsed the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat as the Central Organ of the R.S.D.L.P., elected the Central Committee and set up the C.C. Bureau in Russia.

The Prague Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. played an outstanding part in building up the Bolshevik Party, a new type of party, and in strengthening its unity. It summed up the results of a whole historical period of the Bolshevik struggle against the Mensheviks, and by expelling the Menshevik liquidators from the Party, consolidated the Bolshevik victory; the Conference laid down the Party’s political line and tactics in the conditions of the fresh revolutionary upsurge.

The Prague Conference was of great international importance. It showed the revolutionary elements of the parties in the Second International an example of resolute struggle against opportunism, taking the struggle to a complete break with the opportunists. For details about the Prague Conference see present edition, Vol. 17, pp. 451–86. p. 245

{6} Lenin made the remark in connection with the proposal of a vote of thanks to the R.O.C. for the work it had done in rallying all the Party organisations in Russia and calling the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P., and to let its representative attend the Conference with vote (see present edition, Vol. 17, p. 482). p. 245

{7} The Russian Organising Commission (R.O.C.) was set up by the June 1911 meeting of the C.C. members to convene an a11-Russia Party conference. It was constituted at a meeting of representatives of local Party organisations at the end of September and functioned until the opening of the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. p. 246

{8} A reference to the sitting of the International Socialist Bureau in Zurich on September 23 and 24, 1911. p. 247

{9} During the work of the International Socialist Congress in Copenhagen, members of the Russian delegation, V. I. Lenin, G. V. Plekhanov and Adolf Warski (A. S. Warszawski), representing the Polish Social-Democrats, sent a protest to the Executive of the German Social-Democratic Party over the publication in Vorw\"arts, its Central Organ, of L. Trotsky’s article containing slanderous attacks on the R.S.D.L.P. (for the protest, see Lenin, Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works, Vol. 47, pp. 296–98).

Lenin also came out against Trotsky’s slanderous campaign, in the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat No. 17 of September 25 (October 8), 1910, in an article entitled “How Certain Social-Democrats Inform the International About the State of Affairs in the R.S.D.L.P.”, and in Diskussionny Listok No. 3 of April 29 (May 12), 1911, in his article “The Historical Meaning of the Inner-Party Struggle in Russia” (see present edition, Vol. 16, pp. 284–86, 374–92). p. 247

{10} A reference to the walk-out from the Magdeburg Congress of the German Social-Democratic Party, held from September 18 to 24, 1910, of the Social-Democratic deputies of the Baden Landtag. The Social-Democratic group of the Baden Landtag voted for the government budget despite the decisions of earlier party congresses which prohibited Social-Democratic deputies from voting for the bourgeois government’s budget. By an overwhelming majority of 289 votes to 80, the Magdeburg Congress condemned the opportunist tactics of the Radon Social-Democrats. The latter then announced that they would reserve the right not to submit to Congress decisions. In response, the majority of the Congress adopted a special resolution immediately expelling from the Party anyone violating the Congress decision on budget voting. Before the resolution was adopted, the Baden deputies staged a walk-out.

For details about the Magdeburg Congress see Lenin’s article “Two Worlds” (present edition, Vol. 16, pp. 305–13). p. 247

{11} A reference to the differences between the Czech and Austrian Social-Democrats over trade union unity. At the Extraordinary Congress of Austrian Trade Unions in December 1905, the Czech Social-Democrats demanded the establishment of national trade unions with jurisdiction extending over the whole of Austria. The proposal was rejected by a vast majority, but the Czechs refused to submit to the Congress decision. In 1910, the Austrian Social-Democrats took the matter to the International Socialist Congress at Copenhagen, which rejected the separatist Czech proposal and came out unanimously for trade union unity. p. 247

{12} A reference to the letter sent by the opportunist Molkenbuhr to the Executive of the German Social-Democratic Party proposing that no criticism should be made of the German Government’s colonial policy in view of the impending elections to the Reichstag. Rosa Luxemburg published the letter. p. 248

{13} A reference to the resolution on the organisational question adopted by the Fifth Conference of the R.S.D.L.P., which was held in Paris from December 21 to 27, 1908 (see K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiyakh..., Part I, pp. 201–03). p. 250

{14} A reference to the illegal Social-Democratic Party of Germany during the period of the Anti-Socialist Law introduced by the Bismarck government in 1878 to fight the working-class and socialist movement. The law banned all organisations of the Social-Democratic Party, mass workers’ organisations and the labour press; socialist literature was confiscated; the Social-Democrats were harassed and exiled. But the Social-Democratic Party prevailed in the face of these persecutions, and reorganised its activity to meet the, illegal conditions; its Central Organ, the newspaper Sozial-Demokrat, was published abroad and party congresses met regularly (1880, 1883 and 1887) outside the country; in the underground in Germany, the Social-Democratic organisations and groups were being rapidly revived under the leadership of an illegal C.C. At the same time, the party made wide use of legal opportunities to strengthen its ties with the masses, and its influence continued to grow: the number of votes It won at the Reichstag elections in 1890 was more than three times greater than in 1878. The German Social-Democrats received great assistance from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. In 1890, the Anti-Socialist Law was abolished under pressure from the massive and ever growing working-class movement. p. 252.

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