(Workers’ Banner), the name of several Social Democratic groups in St. Petersburg, Białystok, Kiev, Grodno, Kaunas, and other cities. The groups arose in 1898, during the period of organizational fragmentation, ideological disorder, and vacillation that the Russian Social Democrats underwent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The groups existed until 1902.
The Rabochee Znamia groups were formed from groups of worker revolutionaries; such groups had left local Social Democratic organizations, whose leadership had been seized by adherents of the opportunist trend of Economism. Believing that the workers’ movement should not be restricted to economic struggle, the Rabochee Znamia groups summoned the proletariat to political action. At the same time, they preached organizational opportunism, repudiating the centralist principle of party organization. The political views of the Rabochee Znamia groups’ members varied; some members were attracted to Populism (Narodnichestvo). The groups did not maintain close ties with one another. During their existence, the groups published three issues of the newspaper Rabochee znamia.
In 1898, the St. Petersburg group of Rabochee Znamia announced itself to be the Russian Social Democratic Party and stated that it had the right to unify the other Social Democratic groups around itself. The St. Petersburg group opposed itself to the RSDLP, whose formation was proclaimed in March 1898 by the First Congress of the RSDLP. The St. Petersburg group established workers’ circles in St. Petersburg, organized strikes, and disseminated illegal literature; it was persecuted by the police.
In 1901, some members of the Rabochee Znamia group, including S. V. Andropov, V. P. Nogin, and A. A. Sol’ts, joined Lenin’s newspaper Iskra. Other members later joined the Socialist Revolutionary party.
REFERENCELenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 7, pp. 464–65. (See also Index Volume, part 1, p. 528.)
D. K. MITROPOL’SKII