Second Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party

Second Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party

 

(First All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP), held in Tammerfors (Finland) on Nov. 3-7 (16-20), 1906. It was attended by 32 delegates with casting votes: six Bolsheviks, five Social Democrats from Poland and Lithuania, three delegates from the Latvian territory, 11 Mensheviks, and seven members of the Bund. Members of the central committee and the editors of the central organ (Sotsial-demokrat) attended with advisory votes. The agenda was (1) the election campaign, (2) the Party congress, (3) the workers’ congress, (4) the struggle against the Black Hundreds and the pogroms, and (5) partisan activity. (The fourth and fifth questions were not discussed because of a lack of time.) During the ebb of the revolution and the offensive of the reaction (the crushing of uprisings in Sveaborg and Kronstadt and the dissolution of the First State Duma in July 1906), the question of tactics in the election campaign for the Second State Duma was central. The Bolsheviks decided to participate in the Second State Duma, intending to use its rostrum for revolutionary agitation, the exposure of tsarism and the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie, and the attraction of the peasantry to the side of the proletariat. The Bolsheviks believed that the Social Democrats should pursue an independent policy. The Mensheviks and members of the Bund favored an electoral bloc with the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets), imitating the policy of Western European Social Democrats. A two-day discussion of the question of electoral agreements concluded with the adoption of a Menshevik resolution (in favor, 18; opposed, 14). The platform of the Bolsheviks was set forth by V. I. Lenin in the “Dissenting Opinion” introduced in the name of the Social Democratic delegates of Poland and the Latvian territory and the dele-gates of St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Central Industrial Region, and the Volga Region. The “Dissenting Opinion” defined the tasks of revolutionary Social Democrats in the electoral campaign as explaining to the people the Duma’s inability to meet the demands of the proletariat and peasantry, the impossibility of achieving political freedom by parliamentary means as long as real power lay in the hands of the tsarist government, and the necessity of armed uprising and the establishment of revolutionary power. Furthermore, it emphasized that Social Democrats should conduct the electoral campaign and carry on their work in the Duma independently—only in exceptional cases would temporary agreements with parties fighting for a democratic republic be allowed for the purpose of presenting a common slate of candidates.

The conference adopted a number of amendments proposed by the Bolsheviks, including those on the significance of revolutionary organizations, the ultimate goal of the proletarian movement, the republic as a form of popular sovereignty, a national armed uprising and seizure of power by the people, and the necessity of clearly adhering to the idea of the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie in the Party’s electoral platform.

A resolution was adopted calling for the convocation of a Party congress no later than Mar. 15, 1907. A report on a congress of various workers’ organizations for the purpose of establishing a legal “broad workers’ party” made up of Social Democrats, Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s), and anarchists and liquidating the RSDLP (a Menshevik proposal) was not discussed by the conference; however, a resolution was adopted prohibiting the preparation of such a congress prior to the resolution of this question by a Party congress. The conference charged the Central Committee with publishing an account including all draft resolutions and dissenting opinions. However, the Menshevik Central Committee published only resolutions in the central organ (Sotsial-demokrat, no. 7, Nov. 18 [Dec. 1], 1906), excluding the “Dissenting Opinion” of the Bolsheviks.

The materials of the conference are evidence that only the Leninist Party correctly evaluated the configuration of class forces in Russia and that only the Bolsheviks, who were struggling against the opportunists, expressed the true interests of the toiling masses and pursued a consistently revolutionary policy. The ideological struggle at the conference and the “Dissenting Opinion” of the Bolsheviks promoted the rallying of the working class as the leader of the revolution.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Osoboe mnenie vnesennoe na Vserossiiskuiu konferentsiiu RSDRP ot imeni delegatov s.-d. Pol’shi, Latyshskogo kraia, S.-Peterburga, Moskvy, Tsentral’no-Promyshlennoi oblasti i Povolzh’ia.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 14.
Lenin, V. I. “O blokakh s kadetami.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Krizis men’shevizma.” Ibid.
KPSS v reioliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s’’ezdov, konferentsii iplenumov TsK, 7th ed., part 1. Moscow, 1954. Pages 138-44.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966. Chapter 3.

G. V. ANTONOV

Full browser ?