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The Second Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. (First All-Russia Conference)

Lenin Collected Works, , Volume 41, pages 186-191.1.


The Bund delegates have tabled a resolution at the conference which almost entirely repeats the resolution of the Bund’s Seventh Congress, and which gives a historical assessment of the Duma boycott. The undersigned delegates to the conference have abstained in the voting on this resolution for the following reasons. It is wrong and impossible to separate the question of why we go into the Duma from the question of how we get there. Recognition that the boycott is correct means that the basic character of all our tactics remains absolutely the same under the present participation in the election as it was during the boycott of the First Duma. To recognise that the Cadet majority of the First Duma was a hindrance to the activity of the revolutionary elements, while endorsing agreements between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats at the first stage of the elections is to have our general premises beaten by our practical policies. To recognise and support Cadet hegemony in agitation before the masses by putting up common electoral rolls only to condemn this hegemony later in a special additional resolution, is to compromise in the strongest possible way all the tactics and all the principles of revolutionary Social-Democracy. Those are the grounds on which we place before the entire R.S.D.L. Party the following minority opinion.

“The tactics of boycotting the State Duma, which helped the mass of the people to form a correct opinion of the impotence and lack of independence of that institution, found complete justification in the farcical legislative activities of the State Duma and in its dissolution.

“But the counter-revolutionary behaviour of the bourgeoisie and the compromising tactics of the Russian liberals prevented the immediate success of the boycott and compelled the proletariat to take up the struggle against the landlord and bourgeois counter-revolution also on the basis of the Duma campaign.

“The Social-Democrats must wage this struggle outside the Duma and in the Duma itself in order to develop the class-consciousness of the proletariat, to further expose to the whole people the harmfulness of constitutional illusions, and to develop the revolution.

“In view of this state of affairs, and for the purposes mentioned above, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party must take a most energetic part in the present Duma campaign.

“The principal objects of the Social-Democratic election and Duma campaigns are: firstly, to explain to the people the uselessness of the Duma as a means of satisfying the demands of the proletariat and the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie, especially the peasantry. Secondly, to explain to the people the impossibility of achieving political liberty by parliamentary methods as long as the real power remains in the hinds of the tsar’s government, and to explain the necessity of an armed uprising, of a provisional revolutionary government and of a constituent assembly elected by universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot. Thirdly, to criticise the First Duma and reveal the bankruptcy of Russian liberalism, and especially to show how dangerous and fatal it would be for the cause of the revolution if the liberal-monarchist Cadet Party were to play the predominant and leading role in the liberation movement.

“As the class party of the proletariat, the Social-Democratic Party must remain absolutely independent through out the election and Duma campaigns, and here, too, must under no circumstances merge its slogans or tactics with those of any other opposition or revolutionary party.

“Therefore, at the first stage of the election campaign, i.e., before the masses, it must as a general rule come out absolutely independently and put forward only its own Party candidates.

“Exceptions to this rule are permissible only in cases of extreme necessity and only in relation to parties that fully accept the main slogans of our immediate political struggle, i.e., those which recognise the necessity of an armed uprising and are fighting for a democratic republic. Such agreements, however, may only extend to the nomination of a joint list of candidates, without in any way restricting the independence of the political agitation carried on by the Social-Democrats.

“In the workers’ curia the Social-Democratic Party must come out absolutely independently and refrain from entering into agreements with any other party.

“At the higher stages of the election, i.e., at the assemblies of electors in the towns and of delegates and electors in the countryside, partial agreements may be entered into exclusively for the purpose of distributing seats proportionately to the number of votes cast for the parties entering the agreement. In this connection, the Social-Democratic Party distinguishes the following main types of bourgeois parties according to the consistency and determination of their democratic views: (a) the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Polish Socialist Party and similar republican parties ; (b) the Popular Socialists and the Trudoviks of a similar type ; (c) the Cadets.”

Proletary No. 8, November 23, 1906
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