First Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

First Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party


a conference that took place in Tammerfors, Finland, on Dec. 12–17 (25–30), 1905. It was held instead of the Fourth Congress of the RSDLP, which had been scheduled to begin on Dec. 10 (23), 1905. The letter of the Central Committee of the RSDLP “Toward a Convocation of the Fourth Congress of the RSDLP: To All Party Organizations and All Social Democratic Workers” stated that the congress was being convened mainly “to solve urgent political problems, especially the problem of party unification” (KPSS v rezoliutsiakh, 8th ed., vol. 1, 1970, p. 133). The congress could not take place, however, because of a strike of railroad workers, an armed uprising in Moscow, and other revolutionary events. Instead, the assembled delegates organized a conference of Bolsheviks. The conference was attended by 41 delegates from 26 party organizations, including 14 workers elected from more than 4,000 party members. The participants included V. I. Lenin, L. B. Krasin, and P. P. Rumiantsev from the Central Committee and Central Organization and N. N. Beranskii, M. M. Borodin, L. M. Knipovich, N. K. Krupskaia, P. F. Kudelli, A. Lozovskii, P. N. Mostovenko, V. I. Nevskii, V. A. Radus-Zen’kovich, J. V. Stalin, and G. P. Teliia. E. L. Gurevich-Smirnov (V. Dankevich) attended as the official Menshevik representative. Lenin was elected chairman of the conference.

The conference heard delegates’ reports on their local work, Krasin’s report on the activity of the Central Committee, and Rumiantsev’s organizational report of the Central Committee. Lenin spoke on the current situation and the agrarian question.

The conference expressed support for party unification, “the immediate and simultaneous fusion of practical centers and central literary organs on principles of equality” (ibid, p. 135); it also supported the convocation of a unifying congress. The resolution Party Reorganization recommended the enactment of the principles of democratic centralism. At the same time, it pointed to the need for caution in implementing an elective principle to preserve and strengthen the conspiratorial apparatus of the party. Departures from complete democracy were allowed only in the case of insurmountable practical obstacles. Lenin’s resolution on the agrarian question developed the decisions of the Third Congress of the RSDLP (1905) and substituted for the point in the agrarian program on otrezki (land taken away from peasants by the Peasant Reform of 1861) the demand for confiscation of all government, gentry, church, monastery, and cabinet land. The conference particularly emphasized the necessity for independent organization of the rural proletariat. It decided to boycott the State Duma and to use the electoral campaign for revolutionary agitation. On Lenin’s suggestion, the conference concluded its work quickly, and the delegates returned to their home districts to take part in the armed uprising.


Lenin, V. I. “Rezoliutsiia po agrarnomu voprosu konferentsii ‘bol’shinstva’ v Tammerforse.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 12.
Lenin, V. I. “Gosudarstvennaia duma i sotsial-demokraticheskaia taktika.” Ibid.
KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1970.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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