People's Right Party

People’s Right Party

 

(Narodnoe Pravo), a democratic and revolutionary organization that existed at the end of the 19th century in Russia.

The party was formed at a meeting in Saratov in September 1893; its goal was the unification of revolutionary and opposition forces in order to overthrow the autocracy. The organization included well-known participants in the Narodnik (Populist) and People’s Will movements, such as M. A. Natanson, N. S. Tiutchev, A. V. Gedeonovskii, O. V. Aptekman, N. M. Flerov, V. A. Bodaev, and G. F. Zdanovich. It also included the publicists and writers P. F. Nikolaev, A. I. Bogdanovich, N. F. Annenskii, M. A. Plotnikov, M. P. Miklashevskii, and V. A. Gol’tsev. N. K. Mikhailovskii and V. G. Korolenko were close to the party.

Groups of the People’s Right Party existed in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Orel, Saratov, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm’, Ekaterinburg, Ufa, Baku, Tbilisi, Rostov-on-Don, Kharkov, and other cities. They carried on propaganda among illicit circles of intelligentsia, among students and workers, and in legal educational institutions. They set up a printing house in Smolensk, where they printed the manifesto of the party and the pamphlet The Vital Question. In these works they advanced demands for representative government based on universal suffrage; for freedom of religion, press, and assembly; for inviolability of the person; and for political self-determination of nations. The party was preparing the publication of a party organ in which tactics and economic demands (in particular the agrarian question) were to be discussed. However, in April 1894, arrests in a number of cities brought about the end of the party center, the printing house, and several local groups. From 1896 to 1898 those members who escaped arrest, including Bogdanovich and Miklashevskii, prepared and published an issue of the newspaper Bor’ba (The Struggle), leaflets addressed to striking workers, the pamphlets The First Year of Nicholas II and To the Memory of M. F. Vetrova, and two issues of the collection Our Times.

V. I. Lenin valued the efforts of the People’s Right Party to create a democratic opposition to the government and the party’s political radicalism and freedom from certain illusions of Narodnik ideas (Populism). But he noted the vagueness of the party’s views and considered a mistake its attempt to unite socialists and nonsocialists in one party. In the early 20th century, many former members of the People’s Right Party became Socialist Revolutionaries, while some became Social Democrats, Popular Socialists, and Constitutional Democrats (Cadets).

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 1, pp. 301–04, 343–46; vol. 2, pp. 439–40, 445, 452–53, 543–50.
Shirokova, V. V. Partiia “Narodnogo prava.” Saratov, 1972.

V. V. SHIROKOVA

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