Iskra (The Spark
) was the first all-Russian illegal Marxist newspaper; it was founded by Lenin in 1900 and it played an important role in building the Marxist revolutionary party of the working class in Russia.
It was impossible to publish the revolutionary newspaper in Russia on account of police persecution, and, while still in exile in Siberia, Lenin evolved a plan for its publication abroad. When his exile ended (January 1900) Lenin immediately set about putting his plan into effect. In February, in St. Petersburg, he negotiated with Vera Zasulich (who had come from abroad illegally) on the participation of the Emancipation of Labour group in the publication of the newspaper. At the end of March and the beginning of April a conference was held -- known as the Pskov Conference--with V. I. Lenin, L. Martov (Y. O. Zederbaum), A. N. Potresov S. I. Radchenko, and the "legal Marxists" P. B. Struve and M. I. Tugan-Baranovsky participating, which discussed the draft declaration, drawn up by Lenin, of the Editorial Board of the, all-Russian newspaper (Iskra
) and the scientific and political
) on the programme and the aims of these publications. During the first half of 1900 Lenin travelled in a number of Russian cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riga, Smolensk, Nizhni Novgorod, Ufa, Samara, Syzran) and established contact with Social-Democratic groups and individual Social-Democrats, obtaining their support for
Iskra. In August 1900, when Lenin arrived in Switzerland, he and Potresov conferred with the Emancipation of Labour group on the programme and the aims of the newspaper and the magazine, on possible contributors, and on the editorial board and its location. The conference almost ended in failure (see pp. 333-49 of this volume [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "How the 'Spark' Was Nearly Extinguished". --
DJR]), but an agreement was finally reached on all disputed questions.
The first issue of Lenin's Iskra was published in Leipzig in December 1900; the ensuing issues were published in Munich; from July 1902 the paper was published in London, and from the spring of 1903 in Geneva. Considerable help in getting the newspaper going (the organisation of secret printing-presses, the acquisition of Russian type, etc.) was afforded by the German Social-Democrats Clara Zetkin, Adolf Braun, and others; by Julian Marchlowski, a Polish revolutionary residing in Munich at that time, and by Harry Quelch, one of the leaders of the English Social-Democratic Federation.
The Editorial Board of Iskra consisted of: V. I. Lenin, G. V. Plekhanov, L. Martov, P. B. Axelrod, A. N. Potresov, and V. I. Zasulich. The first secretary of the board was I. G. Smidovich-Leman; the post was then taken over, from the spring of 1901, by N. K. Krupskaya, who also conducted the correspondence between
Iskra and the Russian Social-Democratic organisations. Lenin was in actuality editor-in-chief and the leading figure in
Iskra, in which he published his articles on all basic questions of Party organisation and the class struggle of the proletariat in Russia, as well as on the most important events in world affairs.
Iskra became the centre for the unification of Party forces for the gathering and training of Party workers. In a number of Russian cities (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Samara, and others) groups and committees of the R.S.D.L.P. were organised on Leninist
Iskra lines and a conference of Iskra supporters held in Samara in January 1902 founded the Russian
Iskra organisation. Iskra organisations grew up and worked under the direct leadership of Lenin's disciples and comrades-in-arms: N. E. Bauman, I. V. Babushkin, S. I. Gusev, M. I. Kalinin, P. A. Krasikov, G. M. Krzhizhanovsky, F. V. Lengnik, P. N. Lepeshinsky, I. I. Radchenko, and others.
On the initiative and with the direct participation of Lenin, the Iskra Editorial Board drew up a draft programme of the Party (published in No. 21 of
Iskra ) and prepared the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., held in July and August 1903. By the time the Congress was convened the majority of the local Social-Democratic organisations in Russia had adopted the
Iskra position, approved its programme, organisational plan, and tactical line, and recognised the newspaper as their leading organ. A special
resolution of the Congress noted
Iskra's exceptional role in the struggle to build the Party and adopted the newspaper as the central organ of the R.S.D.L.P. The Congress approved an editorial board consisting of Lenin, Plekhanov, and Martov. Despite the Congress decision, Martov refused to participate, and Nos. 46-51 of
Iskra were edited by Lenin and Plekhanov. Later Plekhanov went over to the Menshevik position and demanded that all the old Menshevik editors be included in the Editorial Board of
Iskra, although they had been rejected by the Congress. Lenin could not agree to this and on October 19 (November 1), 1903, he resigned from the
Iskra Editorial Board. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Letter to
Iskra " and " Why I Resigned from the Iskra Editorial Board
". -- DJR]He was co-opted to the Central Committee, from where he conducted a struggle against the Menshevik opportunists. Issue No. 52 of
Iskra was edited by Plekhanov alone. On November 13 (26), 1903, Plekhanov, on his own initiative and in violation of the will of the Congress, co-opted all the old Menshevik editors to the Editorial Board. Beginning with issue No. 52, the Mensheviks turned
Iskra into their own organ.
 Zarya (Dawn
) -- a Marxist scientific and political magazine published legally in Stuttgart in 1901-02 by the
Iskra Editorial Board. Altogether four numbers (in three issues) appeared: No. 1 -- April 1901 (it actually appeared on March 23, New Style); No. 2-3 -- December 1901; and No. 4 -- August 1902.
 Lenin refers to the "Announcement on the Renewal of Publications of the Emancipation of Labour Group" published at the beginning of 1900 in Geneva, after the appearance of Lenin's "A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats." In their "Announcement" the Emancipation of Labour group supported Lenin's appeal in the "Protest" for decisive struggle against opportunism in the ranks of Russian and international Social-Democracy.
 By groups and organisations Lenin means the Social-Democrats grouped round the newspaper
Yuzhny Rabochy (Southern Worker ), the Bund, and the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, the leadership of which had been transferred from the Emancipation of Labour group to the "young" supporters of "economism." These organisations planned to call the Second Congress of the Party in Smolensk in the spring of 1900. The circumstances surrounding the preparation for the Congress are discussed in Chapter 5 of Lenin's
What Is to Be Done? (see present edition, Vol. 5).
 Lenin refers to "A Draft Programme of Our Party" which he wrote at the end of 1899 for No. 3 of
Rabochaya Gazeta that never came to be published (see present volume, pp. 227-54). A draft programme of the Party was elaborated for the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., on Lenin's suggestion, by the Editorial Board of
Iskra and Zarya end was printed in Iskra, No 21, on June 1, 1902; it was adopted by the Second Congress of the R.S,D.L.P. in August 1903.
 Lenin quotes the basic postulate of the "General Rules of the International Working Men's Association" (First International) drawn up by Karl Marx (Marx and Engels,
Selected Works, Vol. 1, Moscow, 1956, p. 386).