Democratic Centralist Faction

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Democratic Centralist Faction


one of the opportunist anti-Leninist groups within the RCP (Bolshevik), which arose at the beginning of 1919 and took final shape in 1920, its adherents provided by the remains of the faction of Left Communists, which had been routed by the party. V. V. Osinskii, T. V. Sapronov, and V. M. Smirnov were the leaders of the faction.

Under the guise of defending the party principle of democratic centralism, the Democratic Centralists, in fact, conducted a struggle against both proletarian democracy and centralism. During the Civil War, they advocated anarchy in the army and demanded the decentralization of the national economy. They sought to use local organs as a counterpoise to central administrative organs, defended unlimited application of the collegial principle in administration, and came out against one-man management of industrial enterprises. They waged a struggle against party unity and iron discipline within its ranks, supporting the free existence of factions and groupings within the party. At the same time, the Democratic Centralists demanded the granting of freedom of speech, the press, and assembly to the counterrevolutionary parties. The group’s platform expressed the ideology of the petit-bourgeois counterrevolution and was directed against the dictatorship of the proletariat and guiding role of the Communist Party.

At the Eighth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) in 1919, the Democratic Centralists upbraided the Central Committee of the party for ignoring the collegial principle and implanting “hierarchical, authoritarian” management methods. The delegates to the congress showed the absurdity of these accusations and noted in the resolution that “in the present era, real military discipline is necessary in the party” (KPSS ν re-zoliutsiiakh. . . , 8th ed., vol. 2, 1970, p. 74). Attempting to impose their views on the Ninth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) in 1920. the Democratic Centralists presented their own position papers on the construction of the economy and organizational matters. In his concluding remarks on the report of the Central Committee at this congress, V. I. Lenin sharply criticized the “Theses on the Collegial Principle and One-Man Management” presented by the Democratic Centralists, exposed the counterrevolutionary essence of their proposals, and showed that their views bordered on Makhnoism and Makhaevism. The congress rejected the demands of the Democratic Centralists.

During the trade union controversy (1921), the Democratic Centralists again came out in opposition to the party. In his article “Crisis in the Party” (January 1921), Lenin offered a devastating critique of their platform: “this is Menshevism and Socialist-Revolutionarism at their worst. . . . The ’champion shouter’ faction” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 42, p. 243). Following the Tenth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) in 1921, which adopted the resolution on the liquidation of all factions and groupings within the party, some members of the Democratic Centralist faction continued to conduct a struggle against the general party line. In 1923, in the course of a new controversy unleashed by Trotsky, they came out in opposition to the party and its leadership. In 1926, the Democratic Centralists joined the Trotskyist-Zinovievist Bloc (Group of the Fifteen). The Fifteenth Congress of the ACP (Bolshevik) in 1927 expelled the 23 members of the Democratic Centralist faction from the party., on the ground that the faction was “clearly conterrevolution-ary” (see KPSS ν rezoliutsiiakh.... 8th ed., vol. 4, 1970, p. 73).


Lenin, V. I. “IX s“ezd RKP(b), 29 marta-5 aprelia 1920 g.” Polnsobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 40.
Lenin. V. I. “Krizis partii.” Ibid., vol. 42.
Lenin, V. I. “X s“ezd RKP(b), 8–16 marta 1921 g.” Ibid., vol. 43.
Vos’moi s”ezd RKP(b): Prolokoly, Mart 1919 g. Moscow, 1959.
“Vos’maia Vserossiiskaia konferentsiia RKP(b), 2–4 dek. 1919 g.” In KPSS ν rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferenlsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., part 2. Moscow, 1970.
“Deviatyi s“ezd RKP(b), 29 marta-5 aprelia 1920.” Ibid.
“Desiatyi s“ezd RKP(b), 8–16 marta (1921).” Ibid.
“Piatnadtsatyi s”ezd VKP(b), 2–19 dek. 1927 g.” ibid., part 4. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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