Conference of Social Democratic Organizations in Russia

Conference of Social Democratic Organizations in Russia


held in Riga on Sept. 7–9 (20–22), 1905. The conference was called by the Central Committee of the RSDLP (elected by the Third Party Congress in 1905) to work out tactics with respect to the Bulygin Duma. It was attended by representatives of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, Latvian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, the Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, the Revolutionary Ukrainian Party, the Bund, and the Menshevik Organizational Commission (without proper credentials).

Of fundamental importance was the attitude of Social Democrats toward parliamentarism at a time when the Revolution of 1905–07 was spreading. The Bolsheviks believed that “only a victorious uprising of the people led by the proletariat will put an end to the autocratic regime and create a form of government that will best ensure a broad development of the class struggle of the proletariat—namely, a democratic republic” (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh …, 8th ed., vol. 1, 1970, p. 130). They posed “as the pressing task of the moment the preparation for an armed popular uprising” (ibid.).

The tactics worked out by the Bolsheviks emphasized primarily mass agitation for an armed uprising against tsarism, the formation of a provisional revolutionary government, and an active boycott of the Duma. By contrast, the Mensheviks advocated participation in the Duma. The slogan of an active boycott was in tune with the sentiments of the masses. It was, V. I. Lenin wrote, “a natural supplement to the electrically charged atmosphere. This slogan did not ‘invent’ anything at that time, it merely formulated accurately and truly the upswing which was going steadily forward toward a direct assault” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 16, p. 12).

The conference adopted the Bolshevik resolution, which exposed the antidemocratic system of elections to the Duma and the government’s attempt to use the Duma to prop up the power of autocracy, which had been shaken by the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. Setting forth the tasks of the revolutionary Social Democrats in the election campaign, the conference appealed to them to reveal the campaign’s true nature and aims at meetings and to oppose it with a call for a Constituent Assembly elected by universal, equal, direct suffrage and the secret ballot. The conference stressed the need to use all methods of struggle to disrupt the elections to the Duma. Considering the situation in 1905, this fully corresponded to the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat. The decision of the conference to boycott the Duma rallied all the revolutionary forces, and a united front of the revolutionary forces and part of the opposition forces took shape. Subsequent events proved the Bolshevik tactics to have been correct: the revolutionary upswing swept away the Bulygin Duma.

In addition to the resolution On the State Duma, the conference adopted the resolution On the Course of Events in the Caucasus, which expressed indignation at the barbarous actions of the autocracy, which had made the fomenting of conflicts between different nationalities an instrument of struggle against revolutionary events. The conference expressed the conviction “that only the common struggle of proletarians of all nationalities under the unifying banner of social democracy can give a due rebuff to the national policy of tsarism” (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh…, 8th ed., vol. 1, 1970, p. 131).


Lenin, V. I. “Pervye itogi politicheskoi gruppirovki.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 12.
Lenin, V. I. “Isterika poterpevshikh porazhenie.” Ibid.
KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii iplenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1970.


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