V. I.   Lenin

The Election Platform of the R.S.D.L.P.[1]

Written: Written early in March 1912
Published: Printed as a leaflet in March 1912. Published according to the text of the leaflet and verified with a handwritten copy corrected by V. I. Lenin.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1974], Moscow, Volume 17, pages 506-512.
Translated: Dora Cox
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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Worker comrades, and all citizens of Russia!

The elections to the Fourth Duma are to be held in the very near future. Various political parties and the government itself are already energetically preparing for the elections. The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, the party of the class-conscious proletariat, that by its glorious struggle in 1905 dealt the first serious blow to tsarism and forced it to concede representative institutions, calls on each and every one of you who enjoy electoral rights, as well as the great majority deprived of rights, to play a most energetic part in the elections. All those who strive for the liberation of the working class from wage slavery, all those who hold the cause of Russia’s freedom dear, must start work at once so that at the elections to the Fourth Duma, the landowners’ Duma, they may unite and strengthen the fighters for freedom, and advance the class-consciousness and organisation of Russian democrats.

If is five years since the government coup of June 3, 1907, when Nicholas the Bloody, the Khodynka Tsar,[2] “the victor and destroyer” of the First and Second Dumas, threw aside his pledges, promises, and manifestos, so that, together with the Black-Hundred landowners and the Octobrist merchants, he could take vengeance on the working class and all the revolutionary elements in Russia, in other words, on the vast majority of the people, for 1905.

Vengeance for the revolution is the hallmark of the entire period of the Third Duma. Never before has Russia known such raging persecution on the part of tsarism. The gallows erected during these five years beat all records of three centuries of Russian history. The places of exile, penal establishments and prisons overflow with political   prisoners in unheard-of numbers, and never before has there been such torture and torment of the vanquished as under Nicholas II. Never before has there been such a wave of embezzlement, such tyranny and violence on the part of officials, who are forgiven everything because of their zeal in the struggle against “sedition”; never before have the ordinary people, and the peasants in particular, been so humiliated by any representative of authority. Never before has there been such avid, ferocious, reckless persecution of the Jews, and after them of other peoples, not belonging to the dominant nation.

Anti-Semitism and the most crude nationalism became the only political platform of the government parties, and Purishkevich became the one complete, undiluted, and perfect personification of all the methods of rule by the present tsarist monarchy.

And, what have these frenzied acts of the counter-revolutionaries led to?

The consciousness that it is impossible to continue living in this way is penetrating into the minds of even the “higher”, exploiting, classes of society. The Octobrists them selves, the dominant party in the Third Duma, the party of landowners and merchants, terrified of the revolution and cringing before authority, are more and more expressing the conviction in their own press that the tsar and the nobility, which they have served so faithfully and truly, have led Russia into an impasse.

There was a time when the tsarist monarchy was the gendarme of Europe, protecting reaction in Russia and assisting in forcibly suppressing all movements for freedom in Europe. Nicholas II has brought things to such a pass, that he is now not only a European, but an Asiatic gendarme who, with the help of intrigues, money and the most brutal violence, tries to suppress all movements for freedom in Turkey, Persia, and China.

But no tsarist atrocities can halt Russia’s progress. No matter how these feudal survivals, the Purishkeviches, Romanovs and Markovs, disfigure and cripple Russia, she is still advancing. With each step of Russia’s development the demand for political freedom is becoming ever more insistent. In the twentieth century Russia cannot live without   political freedom any more than any other country can. Is it possible to expect political reforms from the tsarist monarchy, when the tsar himself dissolved the first two Dumas and rode roughshod over his own Manifesto of October 17, 1905? Is it possible to conceive of political reforms in modern Russia, when the gang of officials mocks at all laws, knowing that in doing so, they have the protection of the tsar and his associates? Do we not see how, taking advantage of the tsar’s protection, or that of his relatives, Illiodor yesterday, Rasputin today, Tolmachov yesterday, Khvostov today, Stolypin yesterday, Makarov today, trample under foot all and every law? Do we not see that even the tiny, ludicrously pathetic “reforms” of the landowners’ Duma, reforms directed towards refurbishing and strengthening tsarist rule, are repudiated and distorted by the Council of State or the personal decrees of Nicholas the Bloody? Do we not know that the Black-Hundred gang of murderers who shoot at the backs of the deputies whom the rulers want out of the way, who sent to penal servitude the Social-Democratic deputies to the Second Duma, who are always organising pogroms, who insolently rob the treasury on all sides—do we not know that that gang enjoys the special blessings of the tsar and receives his poorly-disguised aid, direction and guidance? Look at the fate, under Nicholas Romanov, of the main political demands of the Russian people for the sake of which the best representatives of the people have been waging a heroic struggle for more than three-quarters of a century, for the sake of which millions rose up in 1905. Is universal, equal and direct suffrage compatible with the Romanov monarchy, when even the non-universal, unequal and indirect suffrage of the elections to the First and Second Dumas was trampled underfoot by tsarism. Is freedom of unions, associations, strikes, compatible with the tsarist monarchy, when even the reactionary, ugly law of March 4, 1906[3] has been brought to nought by the governors and the ministers? Do not the words of the Manifesto of October 17, 1905 about the “immutable principle of freedom of citizens”, about the “real inviolability of the individual”, about “freedom of conscience, speech, assembly, and unions”, sound like mockery? Every subject of the tsar witnesses this mockery daily.

Enough of liberal lies! As if a union between freedom and the old rule were possible, as if political reforms were conceivable under a tsarist monarchy. The Russian people have paid for their childish illusions with the hard lessons of the counter-revolution. Anyone seriously and sincerely desiring political freedom, will raise the banner of a republic proudly and bravely, and all the live forces of Russian democracy will certainly be drawn to that banner by the politics of the tsarist-landowner gang.

Time was, and not so long ago, when the slogan “Down with the autocracy” seemed too advanced for Russia. Nevertheless, the R.S.D.L. Party issued this slogan, the advanced workers caught it up and spread it throughout the country; and in two or three years this slogan became a popular saying. To work then, worker comrades and all citizens of Russia, all those who do not want to see our country sink finally into stagnation, barbarity, lack of rights and the appalling poverty of tens of millions. The Russian Social-Democrats, the Russian workers will succeed in making “Down with the tsarist monarchy, long live the Russian Democratic Republic!” a nation-wide slogan.

Workers, remember 1905. Millions of toilers then were given new life, raised to class-consciousness, to freedom, through the strike movement. Tens of years of tsarist re forms did not and could not give you a tenth part of those improvements in your lives which you then achieved by mass struggle. The fate of the Bill on workers’ insurance, made unrecognisable by the landowners’ Duma with the aid of the Cadets, has once again shown what you can expect “from above”.

The counter-revolution has taken away almost all our gains, but it has not taken and cannot take away the strength, courage and belief in their cause of the young workers, nor of the all-Russian proletariat that is growing and becoming stronger.

Long live the new struggle to improve the lot of workers who do not wish to remain slaves doomed to toil in workshops and factories! Long live the 8-hour working day! He who desires freedom in Russia must help the class which dug a grave for the tsarist monarchy in 1905, and which will throw the mortal enemy of all the peoples of Russia   into that grave during the forthcoming Russian revolution.

Peasants! You sent your deputies, the Trudoviks, to the First and Second Dumas, believing in the tsar, hoping by peaceful means to win his agreement to the transfer of landed estates to the people. You have now been able to convince yourselves that the tsar, the biggest landowner in Russia, will stop at nothing in defence of the landowners and officials; at neither perjury nor lawlessness, oppression or bloodshed. Are you going to tolerate the yoke of the former serf-Owners, silently bear the affronts and insults of the officials, and die in hundreds of thousands, nay millions, from the agonies of starvation, from disease caused by hunger and extreme poverty, or will you die in the fight against the tsarist monarchy and tsarist-landowner Duma, in order to win for our children a more or less decent life, fit for a human being.

This is the question which the Russian peasants will have to decide. The working-class Social-Democratic Party calls on the peasants to struggle for complete freedom, for the transfer of all land from the landowners to the peasantry, without any compensation whatsoever. Sops thrown to the peasants cannot remedy their poverty or relieve their hunger. The peasants are not asking for charity, but for the land which has been drenched in their blood and sweat for centuries. The peasants do not need the tutelage of the authorities and the tsar, but freedom from officials and the tsar, freedom to arrange their own affairs.

Let the elections to the Fourth Duma sharpen the political consciousness of the masses and draw them again into decisive battles. Three main parties are contesting at the elections: (1) the Black Hundreds, (2) the liberals, and (3) the Social-Democrats.

The Rights, Nationalists, and Octobrists belong to the Black Hundreds. They all support the government; this means that any differences which may exist between them are of no serious significance whatsoever. Merciless struggle against all these Black-Hundred parties—this must be our slogan!

The liberals are the Cadet Party (the “Constitutional Democrats” or “people’s freedom” party). This is the party   of the liberal bourgeoisie, which seeks to share power with the tsar and the feudal landowners in such a way, that their power is not basically destroyed, and does not pass to the people. While the liberals detest the government which prevents them from taking power, while they help to expose it, and introduce vacillation and disintegration into its ranks, their hatred of the revolution and fear of mass struggles is even greater than their hatred of the government, and their attitude towards the popular liberation movement is even more wavering and irresolute, so that in decisive moments they treacherously go over to the side of the monarchy. During the counter-revolution, the liberals, echoing the “Slavonic dreams” of tsarism, posing as a “responsible opposition”, grovelling before the tsar as “His Majesty’s Opposition”, and pouring dirt on the revolutionaries and the revolutionary struggle of the masses, have turned away more and more from the struggle for freedom.

The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party was able to raise the revolutionary banner even in the reactionary Third Duma, it has succeeded even there in helping the organisation and revolutionary enlightenment of the masses, and the peasants’ struggle against the landowners. The party of the proletariat is the only party of the advanced class, the class capable of winning freedom for Russia. Today, our Party goes into the Duma, not in order to play at “reforms”, not in order to “defend the Constitution”, “convince,” the Octobrists or “to dislodge reaction” from the Duma, as the liberals who are deceiving the people say they will, but in order to call the masses to the struggle from the Duma rostrum, to explain the teachings of socialism, to expose every government and liberal deception, to expose the monarchist prejudices of the backward sections of the people, and the class roots of the bourgeois parties,—in other words in order to prepare an army of class-conscious fighters for a new Russian revolution.

The tsarist government and the Black-Hundred landowners have recognised to the full the tremendous revolutionary force represented by the Social-Democratic group in the Duma. Hence, all the efforts of the police and Ministry of the Interior are directed towards preventing the Social Democrats from entering the Fourth Duma. Unite then,   workers and citizens! Rally around the R.S.D.L.P. which at its recent conference, recovering from the breakdown during the evil years, again gathered its forces and raised aloft its banner. Let each and every one take part in the elections and the election campaign, and the efforts of the government will be defeated, the red banner of revolutionary Social-Democracy will be hoisted from the rostrum of the Duma in police-ridden, oppressed, blood-drenched, down-trodden and starving Russia!

Long live the Russian Democratic Republic!

Long live the 8-hour day!

Long live the confiscation of all landed estates!

Workers and citizens! Support the election campaign of the R.S.D.L.P.! Elect the candidates of the R.S.D.L.P.!

Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party


[1] Lenin wrote “The Election Platform of the R.S.D.L.P.” in Paris, early in March 1912, shortly after the Prague Conference. “The Election Platform” was published in Russia by the Central Committee of the Party as a separate leaflet and distributed in 18 localities including the main working-class centres. Reprinted from the leaflet, it appeared as a supplement to No. 26 of Sotsial-Demokrat. It was also reprinted by many local Bolshevik organisations and by the Russian Bureau of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. in Tiflis. The significance of this document is dealt with by V. I. Lenin in his article “The Platform of the Reformists and the Platform of the Revolutionary Social-Democrats”.

[2] Khodynka Tsar—at Khodynka Field on the outskirts of Moscow, a carnival was arranged on the occasion of the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II on May 18, 1896. Criminal negligence on the part of the authorities led to a tremendous crush in which about 2,000 people lost their lives and tens of thousands were injured.

[3] The law of March 4, 1906—temporary regulations providing for a certain freedom of associations, unions and meetings, but which at the same time laid down a number of obstacles, and in fact reduced the law to a scrap of paper. It gave the Minister of the Interior the right not only to suppress associations and unions, but also to refuse official recognition to new unions.

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