MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE |  V. I. Lenin


V. I. Lenin

THE TASKS OF THE
RUSSIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS

Written in exile
at the end of 1897
 
First published in pamphlet
form in Geneva, 1898
 
 

Published according to the
text of the 1902 edition
checked with copy of the
manuscript, the 1898 and 1905
editions, and the text in the
miscellany Twelve Years
by Vl. Ilyin, 1907

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972,

First printing 1960
Second printing 1963
Third printing 1972

Vol. 2, pp. 323-51.

Translated from the Russian
Edited by George Hanna


Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,
djr@cruzio.com (September 1997)

THE TASKS OF THE RUSSIAN SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS[106] .   .   .

323

   

To the Workers and Socialists of St. Petersburg from
the League of Struggle   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .


348

NOTES




    page 556


    NOTES

      [106] The pamphlet The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats was written by Lenin in exile (Siberia) at the close of 1897, and was first published in 1898 by the Emancipation of Labour group in Geneva. It circulated widely among Russia's advanced workers. According to Police Department data for the years 1898-1905, copies of the pamphlet were discovered during searches and arrests made in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Smolensk, Kazan, Orel, Kiev, Vilno, Feodosia, Irkutsk, Archangel, Sormovo, Kovno and other towns.
        The original manuscript of the pannphlet has not been found but there is a copy made by some unknown hand. In 1902 a second edition of it appeared in Geneva, and in 1905 a third edition each with a preface by V. I. Lenin. The pamphlet was also included in the miscellany: Vl. Ilyin, Twelve Years, published in November 1907 (the cover and title-page of which are dated 1908). The 1902, 1905 and 1907 editions do not contain the leaflet "To the St. Petersburg Workers and Socialists from the League of Struggle" included in the copy of the manuscript, and as a supplement to the first edltion of the pamphlet. The leaflet was published in all the previous editions of the Collected Works and is also included in the present edition. The copy made from the manuscript contains several slips of the pen. Inaccuracies also appeared in the first edition of the pamphlet, which was published abroad by the Emancipation of Labour group, but these were corrected by Lenin in the subsequent editions.    [p.323]

      [107] Narodnoye Pravo (People's Right ) -- an illegal organisation of Russian democratic intellectuals founded in the summer of 1893, its illitiators including O. V. Aptekman, A. I. Bogdanovich A. V. Gedeonovsky, M. A. Natanson, and N. S. Tyutchev who had formerly belonged to the Narodnaya Volya. The Narodopravtsi, as the members of the party were called, set themselves the aim of uniting all opposition forces to fight for political reforms. Their organisation issued two programme documents, "Manifesto " and "An Urgent Question." In the spring of 1894 the group was broken up by the tsarist governmont. Lenin's estimation of the Narodnoye Pravo as a political party will be found in his What the "Friends of the People" Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats (see present edition, Vol. 1) and on page 344 of the present volume. Most of the Narodopravtsi subsequently joined the Socialist-Revolutionary Party.    [p.327]

      [108] The Narodnaya Volya (People's Will ) group (Narodovoltsi) came into existence In St. Petersburg in the autumn of 1891 with its own programme. Its original membership included M. S. Olminsky (Alexan-

    page 557

    drov), N . L. Meshcheryakov, Y. M. Alexandrova, A. A. Fedulov, and A. A. Yergin. Pamphlets and Rabochy Sbornik (Workers' Miscellany ) and two issues of Letuchy Listok (The Leatlet ) were published illegally by the group's press. In April 1894 the group was broken up by the police, but soon renewed its activities. At that period it was in process of abandoning Narodnaya Volya views for Social-Democracy. The last issue of Letuchy Listok, No. 4, that appeared in December 1895, clearly bore traces of Social-Democratic influence. The group established contact with the St. Petersburg League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class, used its press to issue several of the League's publications, for example, Lenin's Explanation of the Law on Fines Imposed on Factory Workers (see pp. 29-72 of the present volume), and negotiated with the League about the joint publication of the newspaper Rabocheye Dyelo. It was intended to use the group's press to issue Lenin's pamphlet On Strikes, which was smuggled out of prison in May 1896. But the suggestion fell through in view of the police discovery and destruction of the press, and the arrest of members of the group in June 1896. The group then went out of existence, and some of its members (P. F. Kudelli, N. L. Meshcheryakov, M. S. Olminsky, and others) later became active figures in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, although the majority joined the Socialist-Revolutionary Party.    [p.327]

      [109] The League of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad was founded in 1894 in Geneva, on the initiative of the Emancipation of Labour group, and had its own press where it printed revolutionary literature. At first the Emancipation of Labour group guided the League and edited its publications. The League issued the Rabotnik miscellanies and the Listki "Rabotnika," and published Lenin's Explanation of the Law on Fines Imposed on Factory Workers (1897), Plekhanov's New Drive Against Russian Social-Democracy (1897), etc. The First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., held in March 1898, recognised the League as the Party's representative abroad. As time proceeded the opportunist elements -- the "economists," or so-called "young' group, secured the upper hand in the League. At the First Congress of the League held in Zurich in November 1898, the Emancipation of Labour group announced their refusal to edit League publications, with the exception of No. 5-6 of Rabotnik and Lenin's pamphlets The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats and The New Factory Law, which the group undertook to publish. From then on the League puhlished Rabocheye Dyelo, a magazine of the "economists." The Emancipation of Labour group finally broke with the League and left its ranks in April 1900, at the League's Second Congress held in Geneva, when the Emancipation of Labour group and its supporters left the Congress and established an independent Sotsial-Demokrat organisation. In 1903 the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. adopted a decision to disband the League.    [p.327]

    page 558

      [110] This passage refers to the policy pursued by N. P. Ignatyev, Minister of Internal Affairs in 1881-82, which was intended, as Lenin put it, "to bamboozle" the liberals; by playing at democracy it was hoped to hide the fact that the government of Alexander III had gone over entirely to the side of reaction. Part of the policy was the calling of conferences of "knowledgeable people" which included Marshals of the Nobility, representatives of the Zemstvo Administrations and similar people to discuss problems relating to a reduction in land redemption payments, the proper organisation of migration, and local government reform. A suggestion was even made to convene a so-called Zemsky Sobor, to be attended by a crowd of three thousand strong. All these devices, however, end ed in Ignatyev's resignation, followed by a period of "unbridled, incredibly senseless and brutal reaction" (see What the "Friends of the People" Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats, present edition, Vol. 1).    [p.335]

      [111] The Emancipation of Labour group was the first Russian Marxist group. It was founded in Geneva by G. V. Plekhanov in 1883, and included P. B. Axelrod, L. G. Deutsch, Vera Zasulich, and V. N. Ignatov.
        The group did much to spread Marxism in Russia. It translated such Marxist works as Manifesto of the Communist Party by Marx and Engels, Wage-Labour and Capital by Marx, and Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, by Engels, etc., published them abroad and organised their distribution in Russia. Plekhanov and his group seriously undermined Narodism. In 1883 Plekhanov drafted a programme for the Russian Social-Democrats and in 1885 made another draft. The two drafts were published by the Emancipation of Labour group and marked an important step towards the establishment of a Social-Democratic Party in Russia. Plekhanov's Socialism and the Political Struggle (1883), Our Differences (1885), The Development of the Monist View of History (1895) played a considerable part in disseminating Marxist views. The group, however, made some serious mistakes. It clung to remnants of Narodnik views, underestimated the revolutionary role of the peasantry, and overestimated the part played by the liberal bourgeoisie. These errors were the germs of the future Menshevik views held by Plekhanov and other members of the group. The group played a great part in imbuing the Russian working class with revolutionary class-consciousness but it had no practical ties with the working-class movement. Lenin pointed out that the Emancipation of Labour group "only theoretically founded the Social-Democracy and took the first step in the direction of the working-class movement." The group established ties with the international labour movement, and represented Russian Social-Democracy at all congresses of the Second International from the first held in Paris in 1889 onwards.
        At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P held in August 1903, the Emancipation of Labour group announced its dissolutlon.    [p.338]

    page 559

      [112] Lenin refers to collections of articles entitled Material for a History of the RussianSocial-Revolutionary Movement, published in Geneva in the years 1893-96 by the Group of Old Narodnaya Volya Members (P. L. Lavrov, N. S. Rusanov, and others). In all, four collections appeared in five volumes (seventeen were originally planned).    [p.339]

      [113] Blanquism -- a trend in the French socialist movement headed by the outstanding revolutionary and prominent representative of French utopian communism, Louis-Auguste Blanqui (1805-81).
        The Blanquists denied the class struggle, and awaited "mankind's emancipation from wage slavery by a conspiracy of a small minority of intellectuals and not by the class struggle of the proletariat" (V. I. Lenin, Results of the Congress. See present edition, Vol. 10). They did not take account of the concrete situation requisite for the victory of an uprising and showed their disdain for ties with the masses, substituting the actions of a clandestine handful of conspirators for the activity of a revolutionary party.    [p.340]