Sixth All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labor


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Sixth (Prague) All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party

 

a conference held from Jan. 5 (18) to Jan. 17 (30), 1912, in Prague. The conference was attended by voting representatives of more than 20 party organizations from the major centers of the working-class movement in Russia—St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, Saratov, Tbilisi, Baku, Nikolaev, Kiev, Ekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk), Dvinsk (Daugavpils), Vilnius, and the central industrial provinces. Attending with observer status were representatives from the editorial staff of the party’s central organ, the newspaper Sotsial-demokrat, from the editorial staff of Rabochaia gazeta, and from the Foreign Organization Committee of the RSDLP. With the exception of two Mensheviks, the delegates were Bolsheviks. For various reasons, the elected delegates from Rostov-on-Don, Samara (Kuibyshev), Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky), Sormovo, Lugansk (Voroshilovgrad), and the Urals did not attend, nor did the invited leaders of foreign groups and national organizations.

Convened as a general party conference of the RSDLP, the conference functioned as the supreme body of the party and bore the significance of a congress. There were 15 points on the agenda: (1) reports, among which were regional reports, the report of the Russian Organizational Commission for Calling the Conference, and the report of the party’s central organ; (2) the role of the conference; (3) the current situation and the tasks facing the party; (4) elections to the Fourth State Duma; (5) the Duma fraction; (6) state insurance for workers; (7) the strike movement in the trade unions [a resolution, On the Nature and Organizational Forms of Party Work, was passed on this point, which had been combined with point (12)]; (8) the “petition campaign”; (9) Liquidationism; (10) the tasks facing the Social Democrats in the struggle against famine; (11) party literature; (12) organizational questions; (13) party work abroad; (14) elections; and (15) miscellaneous matters.

The conference was held under the direction of V. I. Lenin, who represented the editorial staff of Sotsial-demokrat. He reported on such topics as the current situation and the party’s responsibilities, the role of the conference, and the International Socialist Bureau. The draft resolutions and the resolutions adopted by the conference were written by Lenin. After G. K. Ordzhonikidze’s report on the work of the organizational commission, the conference passed a resolution that noted the enormous importance of the commission’s work in rebuilding and strengthening party organizations during the preparations for the conference.

A resolution on the regional reports indicated that vigorous work to strengthen illegal party organizations and groups was under way in all areas. It also noted that the need to coordinate illegal work and the work of various legal societies had been widely recognized and was now being met. The conference declared that a new revolutionary upsurge had begun, which indicated that a bourgeois democratic revolution was still forthcoming in Russia. The minimum demands of the RSDLP—the creation of a democratic republic, the introduction of an eight-hour workday, and the confiscation of the lands of the pomeshchiki (landowning gentry)—remained the principal watchwords of the party. These demands were to be the planks of the party’s campaign platform in the elections to the Fourth State Duma.

After discussing the responsibilities of the Social Democrats in the struggle against famine, the conference stressed the need to explain to the people the connection between the famine and the failure of the agrarian policies of tsarism. It was suggested that the discontent aroused by the famine be taken advantage of to organize political meetings and demonstrations against the autocracy. The conference noted that the bill adopted by the Third State Duma in January 1912 to provide state insurance for the workers made a mockery of the workers’ vital interests. The delegates called for broad agitation against the bill among the masses.

Denouncing the Menshevik Liquidators’ and Trotskyists’ petition campaign for freedom of coalition, the conference resolved to explain to the workers that freedom of coalition could not be achieved without overthrowing the autocracy. It was decided that party building during the revolutionary upsurge should follow a course of strengthening illegal party organizations and forming around them a broad network of legal organizations that would serve as bases for work among the masses.

The most pressing problem was the purge of opportunists from the party. Lenin called for a resolute struggle against those who would destroy the party, namely, the Liquidators and the Trotskyists. In the resolution On Liquidationism and on the Group of Liquidators, the conference declared that such persons had placed themselves outside the party once and for all. This declaration signaled the complete triumph of Lenin’s call for a final break with the opportunists. The conference stressed that foreign groups that did not recognize the authority of the Central Committee could not use the name of the RSDLP.

The work of the editorial staffs of Sotsial-democrat and Rabochaia gazeta was approved. Rabochaia gazeta was declared the official organ of the Central Committee, and a decision was made to publish a legal daily newspaper.

International issues were also reviewed. In its resolution On the Chinese Revolution, the conference announced its support of the struggle of the Chinese people and stressed the great significance of that struggle in the liberation of Asia. The conference condemned the predatory policies of British imperialism and Russian tsarism in Persia and expressed complete solidarity with the Social Democratic Party of Finland, which was fighting against the Russian autocracy. A congratulatory message was sent to the German Social Democratic Party on its victory in the Reichstag elections.

A new Central Committee was elected, and Lenin was chosen as its chairman. Among the members elected were F. I. Go-loshchekin, G. K. Ordzhonikidze, S. S. Spandarian, and D. M. Shvartsman. Upon being given the right to co-opt members, the Central Committee chose I. S. Belostotskii and J. V. Stalin as new members. A. S. Bubnov, M. I. Kalinin, A. P. Smirnov, E. D. Stasova, and S. G. Shaumian were named as candidates for co-optation in the event that any of the members of the Central Committee were arrested. The Russian Bureau of the Central Committee of the RSDLP was reestablished to direct the practical work of the party in Russia, and V. I. Lenin was chosen as the RSDLP representative in the International Socialist Bureau.

The Sixth Party Conference determined the political line and tactics to be used by the party in the new revolutionary upsurge and consolidated the victory of Bolshevism. The expulsion of the Menshevik Liquidators was a decisive factor in the subsequent development of the RSDLP as a new type of party. The decisions of the conference provided all revolutionary elements in the international social democratic movement an example of uncompromising struggle with and organizational demarcation from opportunism.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “6-ia (Prazhskaia) Vserossiiskaia konferentsiia RSDRP, 5–17 (18–30) ianvaria 1912 g.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 21.
Lenin, V. I. “Doklad Mezhdunarodnomu sotsialisticheskomu biuro o Vserossiiskoi konferentsii RSDRP.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Anonim iz ’Vorwärts’a’ i polozhenie del v RSDRP.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. Pis’mo sekretariu Mezhdunarodnogo sotsialisticheskogo biuro Giuinsmansu.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Doklad TsK RSDRP i instruktivnye ukazanüa delegat-sii TsK na Briussel’skom soveshchanii.” Ibid., vol. 25.
KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov Tsk:, 8th ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1970.
Istoma KPSS, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966.

S. S. SHAUMIAN