V. I.   Lenin

Several Theses

Proposed by the Editors

Published: Sotsial-Demokrat No. 47, October 13, 1915. Published according to the text in Sotsial-Demokrat.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [197[4]], Moscow, Volume 21, pages 401-406.
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters and R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2003 (2005). 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.

The material published in this issue shows the tremendous scope of the work being done by the St. Petersburg Committee of our Party. To Russia, and indeed to the entire International, this is indeed a model of Social-Democratic work during a reactionary war and in most difficult conditions. The workers of St. Petersburg and Russia will bend every effort to give support to that work and will continue it along the same road ever more energetically and extensively.

Complying with advice from comrades in Russia, we have drawn up several theses on current problems of Social-Democratic work:

(1)The slogan of a “constituent assembly” is wrong as an independent slogan, because the question now is: who will convene it? The liberals accepted that slogan in 1905 because it could have been interpreted as meaning that a “constituent assembly” would be convened by the tsar and would be in agreement with him. The most correct slogans are the “three pillars” (a democratic republic, confiscation of the landed estates and an eight-hour working day), with the addition (cf. No. 9) of a call for the workers’ international solidarity in the struggle for socialism and the revolutionary overthrow of the belligerent governments, and against the war.

(2)We are opposed to participation in the war industries committees,[1] which help prosecute the imperialist and reactionary war. We are in favour of utilising the election campaign; for instance, we are for participation   in the first stage of the elections for the sole purpose of agitation and organisation. There can be no talk of boycotting the Duma. Participation in the second ballot is essential. While we have no Duma deputies from our Party, we must utilise everything that happens in the Duma so as to advance the aims of revolutionary Social-Democracy.

(3)We consider that the consolidation and extension of Social-Democratic work among the proletariat and its extension to the rural proletariat, the rural poor and the army are the immediate and pressing tasks. It is revolutionary Social-Democracy’s most pressing task to develop the incipient strike movement, and to conduct it under the slogan of the “three pillars”. The demand for the immediate cessation of the war should be given due attention. Among other demands, the workers must not lose sight of the demand for the immediate reinstatement of the workers’ deputies, members of the R.S.D.L. Duma group.

(4)Soviets of Workers’ Deputies and similar institutions must be regarded as organs of insurrection, of revolutionary rule. It is only in connection with the development of a mass political strike and with an insurrection, and in the measure of the latter’s preparedness, development and success that such institutions can be of lasting value.

(5)Only a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry can form the social content of the impending revolution in Russia. The revolution cannot be victorious in Russia unless it overthrows the monarchy and the feudal-minded landowners, and these cannot be overthrown unless the proletariat is supported by the peasantry. The step forward made in the differentiation of the rural population into wealthy “homestead farmers” and rural proletarians has not done away with the oppression of the rural areas by the Markovs and Co.[2] We have urged and still urge the absolute need, in all and any circumstances, for a separate organisation for rural proletarians.

(6)The task confronting the proletariat of Russia is the consummation of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia in order to kindle the socialist revolution in Europe. The latter task now stands very close to the former, yet it remains a special and second task, for it is a question   of the different classes which are collaborating with the proletariat of Russia. In the former task, it is the petty-bourgeois peasantry of Russia who are collaborating; in the latter, it is the proletariat of other countries.

(7)As hitherto, we consider it admissible for Social-Democrats to join a provisional revolutionary government together with the democratic petty bourgeoisie, but not with the revolutionary chauvinists.

(8)By revolutionary chauvinists we mean those who want a victory over tsarism so as to achieve victory over Germany, plunder other countries, consolidate Great-Russian rule over the other peoples of Russia, etc. Revolutionary chauvinism is based on the class position of the petty bourgeoisie. The latter always vacillates between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. At present it is vacillating between chauvinism (which prevents it from being consistently revolutionary, even in the meaning of a democratic revolution), and proletarian internationalism. At the moment the Trudoviks, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, Nasha Zarya, Chkheidze’s Duma group, the Organising Committee, Mr. Plekhanov and the like are political spokesmen for this petty bourgeoisie in Russia.

(9)If the revolutionary chauvinists won in Russia, we would be opposed to a defence of their “fatherland” in the present war. Our slogan is: against the chauvinists, even if they are revolutionary and republicanagainst them, and for an alliance of the international proletariat for the socialist revolution.

(10)To the question of whether it is possible for the proletariat to assume the leadership in the bourgeois Russian revolution, our answer is: yes, it is possible, if the petty bourgeoisie swings to the left at the decisive moment; it is being pushed to the left, not only by our propaganda, but by a number of objective factors, economic, financial (the burden of war), military, political, and others.

(11)To the question of what the party of the proletariat would do if the revolution placed power in its hands in the present war, our answer is as follows: we would propose peace to all the belligerents on the condition that freedom is given to the colonies and all peoples that are dependent,   oppressed and deprived of rights. Under the present governments, neither Germany, nor Britain and France would accept this condition. In that case, we would have to prepare for and wage a revolutionary war, i.e., not only resolutely carry out the whole of our minimum programme,[3] but work systematically to bring about an uprising among all peoples now oppressed by the Great Russians, all colonies and dependent countries in Asia (India, China, Persia, etc.), and also, and first and foremost, we would raise up the socialist proletariat of Europe for an insurrection against their governments and despite the social-chauvinists. There is no doubt that a victory of the proletariat in Russia would create extraordinarily favourable conditions for the development of the revolution in both Asia and Europe. Even 1905 proved that. The international solidarity of the revolutionary proletariat is a fact, despite the scum of opportunism and social-chauvinism.

We now present these theses for discussion among the comrades, and shall develop our views in the next issues of the Central Organ.



[1] War industries committees were established in Russia in 1915 by the imperialist bourgeoisie. In an attempt to bring the workers under their influence and inculcate defencist sentiments, the bourgeoisie decided to organise “workers’ groups”in these committees. It was to the bourgeoisie’s advantage to have workers’ representatives in these groups, who would call upon the workers to raise labour productivity in the war industries. The Mensheviks took an active part in this pseudo-patriotic measure initiated by the bourgeoisie. The Bolsheviks’ boycott of the committees was supported by the majority of workers. At a worker delegates’ meeting in Petrograd on September 27 (October 10), 1915, the Bolshevik resolution calling for a boycott and for a revolutionary way out of the war obtained 95 votes to the Mensheviks’ 81. Only at a second meeting, held without the pro-Bolshevik delegates, were the Mensheviks, led by Gvozdev and an agent provocateur Abrosimov, able to elect a “workers’ group”of ten.

As a result of Bolshevik propaganda, elections to the “workers’ groups”were held in only 70 areas out of a total of 239, and workers representatives were actually elected only in 36 areas.

[2] Markov, N. E.—a reactionary politician of tsarist Russia, big landowner and Deputy from Kursk Gubernia to the Third and Fourth Dumas.

[3] The programme of the R.S.D.L.P. adopted at the Second Congress of the Party in 1903 consisted of two parts: a minimum programme calling for the overthrow of tsarism, for a democratic republic, the eight-hour day and other demands attainable under capitalism and a maximum programme, formulating the ultimate goal of the working class, viz., socialist revolution, dictatorship of the proletariat, the building of a socialist society.

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