(Third Group), the first Social Democratic organization in Transcaucasia. Founded in 1892 as a literary and political group at a conference held in Zestafoni (Shoropani District, Kutaisi Province) on the initiative of E. F. Ninoshvili and M. G. Iskhakaia, Mesame-dasi adopted rules in 1893 and declared itself an international group of Marxist socialists. Its goals were the propagation of Marxist ideas, the organization of underground circles, and the establishment of ties with Marxist groups and circles in Transcaucasia and throughout Russia. The group held its first public demonstration on May 8, 1894, at Ninoshvili’s funeral. Writing in the newspaper Kvali (Furrow), the author and public figure G. E. Tsereteli called the organization Mesame-dasi—“third group.” (The first group, Pirveli-dasi, and the second group, Meore-dasi, were revolutionary-democratic organizations.)
The members of Mesame-dasi studied the works of Marx, Engels, and Plekhanov, carried on propaganda work among the students, wrote for the legal newspaper Kvali and the legal magazine Moambe (Herald), and organized workers’ study circles, thus helping to disseminate Marxist ideas among the workers and democratic intelligentsia. Although the group did most of its work in Tbilisi, its influence was felt in other parts of Georgia and Transcaucasia, and it had ties with Social Democratic circles formed by F. A. Afanas’ev, I. I. Luzin, G. la. Francheski, N. P. Kozerenko, and V. K. Rodzevich-Belevich.
From the beginning the group was not politically homogeneous. Many of its members, including N. N. Zhordaniia, I. I. Ramishvili, S. V. Dzhibladze, and N. S. Chkheidze, were inclined toward Legal Marxism and nationalism, and later, toward economism. They opposed the Marxist concept of the class struggle, believed that the bourgeoisie would have hegemony in the coming revolution, and advocated the idea of an alliance between the working class and the liberal bourgeoisie in the struggle against tsarism. Adhering to the bourgeois nationalist theory of “civil peace,” they considered national interests cherished by all classes to be of decisive significance in social development. The revolutionary element in Mesame-dasi (for example, M. G. Tskhakaia and F. I. Makharadze) defended the ideas of proletarian internationalism and the leading role of the working class in the revolution and fought against bourgeois liberalism and nationalism.
In the latter half of the 1890’s, with the growth of the working-class movement in Georgia and the increased influence of scientific socialist ideas in advanced proletarian and intellectual circles, the struggle of Mesame-dasi’s revolutionary wing against its opportunist element became more intense, promoted by the entry into the group from 1895 to 1898 of revolutionary Social Democrats such as V. Z. Ketskhoveli, J. V. Stalin, and A. G. Tsulukidze. In 1898, Mesame-dasi joined the RSDLP but kept its name. After the split in the RSDLP at its second congress in 1903, the opportunist element in Mesame-dasi sided with the Mensheviks, and the revolutionary wing adopted Bolshevik views.