MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations



League of Peace and Freedom

A pacifist organisation founded in Switzerland in 1867. It asserted that a united Europe ("The United States of Europe") could prevent wars.


League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class

Founded by Lenin in the autumn of 1895, the league united some twenty Marxist workers' study circles in St. Petersburg. The work of the League of Struggle was organised on principles of centralism and strict discipline. The groups were headed by the Central Group under Lenin's direction.

On December 1895, the tsarist government dealt the League a heavy blow: during the night of December 8 a considerable number of League members were arrested, Lenin among them; the first issue of Rabocheye Dyelo which was ready to go to press, was seized.

While in prison, Lenin continued to guide the work of the League. He sent from prison letters and leaflets written in cipher and wrote the pamphlet On Strikes (the manuscript has not been found), and "Draft and Explanation of a Programme for the Social-Democratic Party".

The significance of the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class lay, to use Lenins' expression, in its being the germ of a revolutionary party that took its support from the working class and led the class struggle of the proletariat.

The old members of the League who had escaped arrest took part in preparing and holding the First Congress of the RSDLP and in drawing up the Manifesto to that Congress. However, the long absence of the founding members of the League of Struggle, Lenin above all, who were in exile in Siberia, and the path of the party took a different direction. In the latter half of 1898 the control of the League fell into the hand of most avowed Economists-the Rabochaya Mysl.


League of Nations

Set up in 1919 by the victors of World War I. Ended in failure after doing nothing about the aggressive activities of Germany and Japan throughout the 1930s, leading to World War II. Succeeded by the United Nations.


League of Russian Revolutionary Social-Democracy Abroad

Founded by Lenin in October 1901. The Iskra organisation abroad and the Sotsial-Demokrat revolutionary organisation (which included the Emancipation of Labour group) united to form the League. The League's task was to disseminate the ideas of revolutionary Social-Democracy and promote militant revolutionary Social-Democracy.


Left Hegelians

See: Young Hegelians


Left Opposition

The Left Opposition was formed in Russia 1923 in response to the rising tide of Stalinism. The opposition was labelled as Trotskyist (because Trotsky was the defacto leader of the opposition), while the right side of the party was referred to as Stalinist (because Stalin was the defacto leader). Both sides stressed that their position was the continuation of Bolshevism.

One of the primary disputes was on the possibility of sustaining a Socialist revolution without world wide revolution. The left opposition supported the permanent revolution theory, while the right supported Socialism is one country. [...]

In 1927 the members of the Left Opposition were expelled from the Soviet Communist party (CSPU), and forced to leave the Soviet Union. Shortly thereafter the International Left Opposition was created.

Nearly every party member who followed or supported in anyway the Left Opposition was executed during the Moscow Trials (1936-38), a list of the leading members in the left opposition:

Karl Radek (1885-1939)
Ivan T. Smilga (1892-193?)
Eugene Preobrazhensky (1886-1937)
Ivan N. Smirnoy (1881-1936)
Mikhail Boguslavsky (1886-1937)
Sergei Mrachkovsky (1883-1936)
Alexander Beloborodov (1891-1938)
Christian Rakovsky (1873-1941)
Lev S. Sosnovsky (1886-1937)
Nikolai L. Muralov (1877-1937)


Left Socialist-Revolutionaries (Left SRs)

Emerged in May 13, 1917 from a dispute in the Socialist-Revolutionary Party on the parties position towards WWI – the Left SRs believed that Socialism was possible without the provisional government. During the October Revolution the Left SRs joined the Bolsheviks and helped build the new Soviet government. The notable leaders of the group were B. Kamkov and A.L. Kolegayev.

In March 1918, when Russia suffered extreme loses by the advancing German army (See: World War I: Russian losses), the Soviet government and Germany signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Left-SRs objected to the treaty, believing that Russia should continue fighting.

In April 17-25, 1918, the Left SRs held a congress in Moscow stating that the Soviet government had resumed the policies of the provisional government. They planned to resume the war with Germany and Austria through the Soviet, but if unsuccessful they planned to start a war through terrorist acts between Russia and Germany.

During the Fifth Congress of Soviets (July 4, 1918) the Left-SRs called for no confidence in the Soviet government, the negation of the Treat of Brest-Litovsk, and a renewed declaration of war against Germany. The Congress voted against the measures. The Left-SRs refused to recognise the authority of the Congress of Soviets, and walked out.

Two days following, the Left-SRs set into motion a plan to assassinate the German ambassador Mirbach. Using the positions they had in the Soviet government and Cheka, forged credentials were produced for two members of the party to enter the German embassy. After failing to kill Mirbach at point-blank range with their revolvers, they shot him in the back of the head while he attempted to flee, and dropped a bomb in the room he was approaching. Both assassins escaped.

On finding the forged credentials the assassins left behind, Dzerzhinskii went to the Pokrovskii Barracks (which housed the Cheka detachment the assassins belonged) and demanded the assassins be turned over to him. The soldiers instead arrested Dzerzhinskii. The Left SRs took over several other Cheka barracks (comprised in total of 2,000 armed sailors and cavalry) and took to the streets, stopping automobiles and taking hostages, 27 of which were Bolsheviks.

The armed Left SRs occupied the Central Post and Telegraph Office and sent appeals throughout Russia to begin anew the war. In the early morning of July 7, Vatsetis, the commander of the Red Army regiment in Moscow, attacked the Left-SR army. The battle lasted seven hours, concluding with the victory of the Red Army, securing the safety of every hostage that had been taken by the Left-SRs.

On July 7 and 8, the Soviet government arrested the leaders of the Left SR army. The German embassy demanded that the Soviet government execute all those responsible for the murder of the German ambassador, including all members of the Central Committee of the Left SRs. 650 members of the Left-SR Party were taken into custody for questioning. The Soviet government announced the next day that 200 had been shot, to the approval of the German government.

In reality, 12 sailors were executed. The Revolutionary Tribunal tried the Left SR Central Committee, though most of its members had gone underground. Those convicted received sentences of less than a year, for it was found that the party organisation had little involvement with the assassination.

The Left-SR party generally disbanded in the comming years, as nearly all of its members became a part of the Soviet government.

[in 1919:] They are for a partisan army, not a regular army. They are against the employment of officers who served under the old regime. They are against the employment of responsible technicians and commercial experts in the factories. They believe that officers and experts alike, being ex-bourgeois, must be enemies of the people, insidiously engineering reaction. They are opposed to any agreement with the Allies, exactly as they were opposed to any agreement with the Germans. I heard them describe the Communists as "the bourgeois gendarmes of the Entente," on the ground that having offered concessions they would be keeping order in Russia for the benefit of Allied capital. They blew up Mirbach, and would no doubt try to blow up any successors he might have. Not wanting a regular army (a low bourgeois weapon) they would welcome occupation in order that they, with bees in their bonnets and bombs in their hands, might go about revolting against it.

Arthur Ransome
Russia in 1919



French adherents to the 'legitimate' Bourbon dynasty overthrown in 1830, which had represented the interestes of the big landed nobility. In their struggle against the reigning Orleans dynasty (1830-48), a section of the Legitimists projected themselves as defenders of the working people, against exploitation by the rising industrial bourgeoisie.



An English political party formed as a result of the Revolution of 1648. The Levellers demanded the abolition of Royalty and aristocracy, and the foundation of a "Republic of Equals", under the name of Christian Society. The Levellers were powerful for a time, but were dispersed by Cromwell, who executed the principal leaders of the group.