Materials Relating to the Revision of the Party Programme



Draft of Revised Programme

The Old and New Texts of the Programme

To make it easier and more convenient for the reader to compare the old and new texts of the programme, both texts are printed together in the following manner:

Those parts of the old programme which remain unchanged in the new one are given in ordinary type.

Those parts of the old programme which are to be completely deleted from the new one are given in italics.

Those parts of the new programme which were not in the old programme are given in bold type.


The development of exchange has established such close Lies between all the nations of the civilised world that the great movement of the proletariat towards emancipation was bound to become—and has long since become—international.

Russian Social-Democracy regards itself as a detachment of the world army of the proletariat, and is working towards the same ultimate goal as the Social-Democrats of all other countries. This ultimate goal is determined by the character of modern bourgeois society and by the trend of its development. The principal specific feature of this society is commodity production based on capitalist production relations, under which the most important and major part of the means of production and exchange of commodities belongs to a numerically small class of persons while the vast majority of the population is made up of proletarians and semi-proletarians, who, owing to their economic position, are compelled permanently or periodically to sell their labour-power, i.e., to hire themselves out to the capitalists and to create by their labour the incomes of the upper classes of society.

The ascendancy of capitalist production relations extends its area more and more with the steady improvement of technology, which, by enhancing the economic importance of the large enterprises, tends to eliminate the small independent producers, converting some of them into proletarians and narrowing the role of others in the social and economic sphere, and in some places making them more or less completely, more or less obviously, more or less painfully dependent on capital.

Moreover, this technical progress enables the employers to make growing use of female and child labour in the process of production and exchange of commodities. And since, on the other hand, it causes a relative decrease in the employers’ demand for human labour-power, the demand for labour-power necessarily lags behind its supply, as a result of which the dependence of wage-labour on capital is increased and exploitation of labour rises to a higher level.

This state of affairs in the bourgeois countries and the steadily growing competition among them in the world market make it more and more difficult for them to sell the goods which are produced in ever increasing quantities. Over-production, manifesting itself in more or less acute industrial crises followed by more or less protracted periods of industrial stagnation, is an inevitable consequence of the development of the productive forces in bourgeois society. Crises and periods of industrial stagnation, in their turn, still further ruin the small producers, still further increase the dependence of wage-labour on capital, and lead still more rapidly to the relative and sometimes to the absolute deterioration of the condition of the working class.

Thus, improvement in technology, signifying increased labour productivity and greater social wealth, becomes in bourgeois society the cause of greater social inequality, of widening gulfs between the rich and poor, of greater insecurity, unemployment, and various hardships of the mass of the working people.

However, in proportion as all these contradictions, which are inherent in bourgeois society, grow and develop, so also does the discontent of the toiling and exploited masses with the existing order of things grow; the numerical strength and solidarity of the proletarians increase and their struggle against their exploiters is sharpened. At the same time, by concentrating the means of production and exchange and socialising the process of labour in capitalist enterprises, the improvement in technology more and more rapidly creates the material possibility of capitalist production relations being superseded by socialist relations, i.e., the possibility of bringing about the social revolution, which is the ultimate aim of all the activities of international Social-Democracy as the conscious exponent of the class movement.

By introducing social in place of private ownership of the means of production and exchange, by introducing planned organisation of social production to ensure the well-being and many-sided development of all the members of society, the proletarian social revolution will do away with the division of society into classes and thereby emancipate the whole of oppressed humanity, for it will put an end to all forms of exploitation of one section of society by another.

A necessary condition for this social revolution is the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the conquest by the proletariat of such political power as will enable it to suppress all resistance on-the part of the exploiters. Aiming at making the proletariat capable of fulfilling its great historic mission, international Social-Democracy organises the proletariat in an independent political party opposed to all the bourgeois parties, guides all the manifestations of its class struggle, reveals to it the irreconcilable antagonism between the interests of the exploiters and those of the exploited, and explains to the proletariat the historical significance of and the necessary conditions for the impending social revolution. At the same time it reveals to all the other toiling and exploited masses the hopelessness of their position in capitalist society and the need for a social revolution if they are to free themselves from the yoke of capital. The Social-Democratic Party, the party of the working class, calls upon all section of the toiling and exploited population to join its ranks insofar as they adopt the standpoint of the proletariat.

World capitalism has at the present time, i.e., about the beginning of the twentieth century, reached the stage of imperialism. Imperialism, or the epoch of finance capital, is a high stage of development of the capitalist economic system, one in which monopolist associations of capitalists—syndicates, cartels, and trusts—have assumed decisive importance; in which enormously concentrated banking capital has fused with industrial capital; in which the ex port of capital to foreign countries has assumed vast dimensions; in which the whole world has been divided up territorially among the richer countries, and the economic carve-up of the world among international trusts has begun.

Imperialist wars, i.e., wars for world domination, for markets for banking capital and for the subjugation of small and weaker nations, are inevitable under such a state of affairs. The first great imperialist war, the war of 1914–17, is precisely such a war.

The extremely high level of development which world capitalism in general has attained, the replacement of free competition by monopoly capitalism, the fact that the banks and the capitalist associations have prepared the machinery for the social regulation of the process of production and distribution of products, the rise in the cost of living and increased oppression of the working class by the syndicates due to the growth of capitalist monopolies, the tremendous obstacles standing in the way of the proletariat’s economic and political struggle, the horrors, misery, ruin, and brutalisation caused by the imperialist war—all these factors transform the present stage of capitalist development into an era of proletarian socialist revolution.

That era has dawned.

Only a proletarian socialist revolution can lead humanity out of the impasse which imperialism and imperialist wars have created. Whatever difficulties the revolution may have to encounter, whatever possible temporary setbacks or waves of counter-revolution it may have to contend with, the final victory of the proletariat is inevitable.

Objective conditions make it the urgent task of the day to prepare the proletariat in every way for the conquest of political power in order to carry out the economic and political measures which are the sum and substance of the socialist revolution.

The fulfilment of this task, which calls for the fullest trust, the closest fraternal ties, and direct unity of revolutionary action on the part of the working class in all the advanced countries, is impossible without an immediate break in principle with the bourgeois perversion of socialism, which has gained the upper hand among the leader ship of the great majority of the official Social-Democratic parties. Such a perversion is, on the one hand, the social-chauvinist trend, socialism in word and chauvinism in deed, the defence of the predatory interests of “one’s own” national bourgeoisie under the guise of “defence of the fatherland”; and, on the other hand, the equally wide international trend of the so-called “Centre”, which stands for unity with the social-chauvinists and for the preservation or correction of the bankrupt Second International, and which vacillates between social-chauvinism and the internationalist revolutionary struggle of the proletariat for the achievement of a socialist system.

On the path to their ultimate common goal, which is conditioned by preponderance of the capitalist mode of production throughout the civilised world, the Social-Democrats of different countries are obliged to set themselves dissimilar immediate tasks, both because the capitalist system is not developed everywhere to the same degree, and because in different countries it develops in a different social and political setting.

In Russia, where capitalism has already become the prevailing mode of production, there are still numerous survivals of the old, pre-capitalist order, which was based on the enslavement of the working masses to the landowners, the state, or the head of the state.

While greatly hampering economic progress, these survivals also prevent the full development of the class struggle of the proletariat; they help to preserve and intensify the most barbarous forms of exploitation of the peasant millions by the state and the propertied classes and keep the people in a state of ignorance and subjection.

The most important of these relics of the past, and the most powerful bulwark of all this barbarism, is the tsarist autocracy. By its very nature it is hostile to every social movement and is bound to be the bitterest opponent of every aspiration towards freedom on the part of the proletariat.

In view of this, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party makes it its primary and immediate task to overthrow the tsarist autocracy and set up in its place a democratic republic whose constitution would guarantee the following:

In Russia at the present moment, when the Provisional Government, which is part and parcel of the capitalist class and enjoys the confidence—necessarily unstable—of the broad mass of the petty-bourgeois population, has undertaken to convene a Constituent Assembly, the immediate duty of the party of the proletariat is to fight for a political system which will best guarantee economic progress and the rights of the people in general, and make possible the least painful transition to socialism in particular.

The party of the proletariat cannot rest content with a bourgeois parliamentary democratic republic, which throughout the world preserves and strives to perpetuate the monarchist instruments for the oppression of the masses, namely, the police, the standing army, and the privileged bureaucracy.

The party fights for a more democratic workers’ and peasants’ republic, in which the police and the standing army will be abolished and replaced by the universally armed people, by a people’s militia; all officials will be not only elective, but also subject to recall at any time upon the demand of a majority of the electors; all officials, without exception, will be paid at a rate not exceeding the average wage of a competent worker; parliamentary representative institutions will be gradually replaced by Soviets of people’s representatives (from various classes and professions, or from various localities), functioning as both legislative and executive bodies.

The constitution of the Russian democratic republic must ensure:

1) The sovereignty of the people; supreme power in the state must be vested entirely in the people’s representatives, who shall be elected by the people and be subject to recall at any time, and who shall constitute a single popular assembly, a single chamber.

1) The sovereignty of the people, i.e., the concentration of supreme state power entirely in the hands of a legislative assembly, consisting of the representatives of the people and constituting a single chamber.

2) Universal, equal, and direct suffrage for all citizens, men and women, who have reached the age of twenty, in the elections to the legislative assembly and to the various bodies of local self-government; secret ballot; the right of every voter to be elected to any representative institution; biennial parliaments; salaries to be paid to the people’s --> representatives; proportional representation at all elections; all delegates and elected officials, without exception, to be subject to recall at any time upon the decision of a majority of their electors.

3) Local self-government on a broad scale; regional self- government in localities where the composition of the population and living and social conditions are of a specific nature; the abolition of all state-appointed local and regional authorities.

4) Inviolability of person and domicile.

5) Unrestricted freedom of conscience, speech, the press, assembly, strikes, and association.

6) Freedom of movement and occupation.

7) Abolition of the social estates; equal rights for all citizens irrespective of sex, creed, race, or nationality.

8) The right of the population to receive instruction in their native tongue in schools to be established for the purpose at the expense of the state and local organs of self-government; the right of every citizen to use his native language at meetings; the native language to be used on a level with the official language in all local public and state institutions; the obligatory official language to be abolished.

9) The right of self-determination for all member nations of the state.

9) The right of all member nations of the state to freely secede and form independent states. The republic of the Russian nation must attract other nations or nationalities not by force, but exclusively by voluntary agreement on the question of forming a common state. The unity andfraternal alliance of the workers of all countries are incompatible with the use of force, direct or indirect, against other nationalities.

10) The right of all persons to sue any official in the regular way before a jury.

11) Election of judges by the people.

11) Judges and other officials, both civil and military, to be elected by the people with the right to recall any of them at any time by decision of a majority of their electors.

12) Replacement of the standing army by the universally armed people.

12) The police and standing army to be replaced by the universally armed people; workers and other employees to receive regular wages from the capitalists for the time devoted to public service in the people’s militia.

13) Separation of the church from the state, and schools from the church; schools to be absolutely secular.

14) Free and compulsory general and vocational education for all children of both sexes up to the age of sixteen; poor children to be provided with food, clothing, and school Supplies at the expense of the state.

14) Free and compulsory general and polytechnical education (familiarising the student with the theoretical and practical aspects of the most important fields of production) for all children of both sexes up to the age of sixteen; training of children to be closely integrated with socially productive work.

15) All students to be provided with food, clothing, and school supplies at the cost of the state.

16) Public education to be administered by democratically elected organs of local self-government; the central government not to be allowed to interfere with the arrangement of the school curriculum, or with the selection of the teaching staffs; teachers to be elected directly by the population with the right of the latter to remove undesirable teachers.

As a basic condition for the democratisation of our country’s national economy, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party demands the abolition of all indirect taxes and the establishment of a progressive tax on incomes and inheritances.

The high level of development of capitalism already achieved in banking and in the trustified branches of industry, on the one hand, and the economic disruption caused by the imperialist war, everywhere evoking a demand for state and public control of the production and distribution of all staple products, on the other, induce the Party to demand the nationalisation of the banks, syndicates (trusts), etc.

To safeguard the working class from physical and moral deterioration, and develop its ability to carry on the struggle for emancipation, the Party demands:

1) An eight-hour working day for all wage-workers.

1) An eight-hour working day for all wage-workers, including a break of not less than one hour for meals where work is continuous. In dangerous and unhealthy industries the working day to be reduced to from four to six hours.

2) A statutory weekly uninterrupted rest period of not less than forty-two hours for all wage-workers of both sexes in all branches of the national economy.

3) Complete prohibition of overtime work.

4) Prohibition of night-work (from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.) in all branches of the national economy except in cases where it is absolutely necessary for technical reason endorsed by the labour organisations.

4) Prohibition of night-work (from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.)in all branches of the national economy except in cases where it is absolutely necessary for technical reasons endorsed by the labour organisations—provided, however, that night-work does not exceed four hours.

5) Prohibition of the employment of children of school age (under sixteen) and restriction of the working day of adolescents (from sixteen to eighteen) to six hours.

5) Prohibition of the employment of children of school age (under sixteen), restriction of the working day of adolescents (from sixteen to twenty) to four hours, and prohibition of the employment of adolescents on night-work in unhealthy industries and mines.

6) Prohibition of female labour in all branches of industry injurious to women’s health; women to be released from work for four weeks before and six weeks after child-birth without loss of pay.

6) Prohibition of female labour in all branches of industry injurious to women’s health; prohibition of night work for women; women to be released from work eight weeks before and eight weeks after child-birth without loss of pay and with free medical and medicinal aid.

7) Establishment of nurseries for infants and young children at all factories and other enterprises where women are employed; nursing mothers to be allowed recesses of at least half-hour duration at intervals of not more than three hours.

7) Establishment of nurseries for infants and young children and rooms for nursing mothers at all factories and other enterprises where women are employed; nursing mothers to be allowed recesses of at least half-hour duration at intervals of not more than three hours; such mothers to receive nursing benefit and their working day to be reduced to six hours.

8) State insurance for workers covering old age and total or partial disablement out of a special fund formed by a special tax on the capitalists.

8) Full social insurance of workers:

a) for all forms of wage-labour;

b) for all forms of disablement, namely, sickness, injury, infirmity, old age, occupational disease, child-birth, widowhood, orphanhood, and also unemployment, etc.

c) all insurance institutions to be administered entirely by the insured themselves;

d) the cost of insurance to be borne by the capitalists;

e) free medical and medicinal aid under the control of self-governing sick benefit societies, the management bodies of which are to be elected by the workers.

9) Payment of wages in kind to be prohibited; regular weekly pay-days to be fixed in all labour contracts without exception and wages to be paid in cash and during working hours.

10) Prohibition of deductions by employers from wages on any pretext or for any purpose whatsoever (fines, spoilage, etc.).

11) Appointment of an adequate number of factory inspectors in all branches of the national economy; factory inspection to be extended to all enterprises employing hired labour, including government enterprises (domestic service also to be liable to inspection); women inspectors to be appointed in Industries where female labour is employed; representativeselected by the workers and paid by the state to supervise the enforcement of the factory laws, the fixing of rates and the passing or rejection of raw materials and finished products.

9) The establishment of a labour inspectorate elected by the workers’ organisations and covering all enterprises employing hired labour, as well as domestic servants; women inspectors to be appointed in enterprises where female labour is employed.

12) Local self-governing bodies, assisted by representatives elected by the workers, to inspect sanitary conditions at dwellings assigned to workers by employers, as well as the internal regulations in force in such dwellings and the renting conditions, in order to protect wage-workers against interference by employers in their life and activities as private citizens.

13) The establishment of properly organised sanitary control over all enterprises employing hired labour, the whole system of medical aid and sanitary inspection to be entirely independent of the employers; free medical aid to the workers at the expense of the employers, with full pay during sickness.

14) Employers violating the labour protection laws to be liable to criminal prosecution.

10) Sanitary laws to be enacted for improving hygienic conditions and protecting the life and health of workers in all enterprises where hired labour is employed; questions of hygiene to be handled by the sanitary inspectorate elected by the workers’ organisations.

11) Housing laws to be enacted and a housing inspectorate elected by the workers’ organisations to be instituted for the purpose of sanitary inspection of dwelling houses. However, only by abolishing private property in land and building cheap and hygienic dwellings can the housing problem be solved.

12) Industrial courts to be established in all branches of the national economy.

15) Industrial courts to be established in all branches of the national economy, composed of equal numbers of representatives from the workers’ and employers’ organisations.

16) Employment bureau (labour exchanges) to be established by the organs of local self-government in all industries for the hire of local and non-local workers; representatives ofthe workers and employers to participate In their administration.

13) Labour exchanges to be established for the proper organisation of work-finding facilities. These labour ex changes must be proletarian class organisations (organised on a non-parity basis), and must be closely associated with the trade unions and other working-class organisations and financed by the communal self-governing bodies.

In order to do away with the relics of serfdom, which are a heavy yoke on the necks of the peasants, and to enable the class struggle to develop freely in the countryside, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party demands:

1) The abolition of all personal and property restrictions Imposed on the peasants by the existing system of social estates.

2) The abolition of all charges and duties involved in the social-estate status of the peasants, and the annulment of all debt obligations having the nature of a usurious contract.

3) The confiscation of church, monastery, and crown lands and their transfer (together with state lands) to the control of the higher organs of local self-government embracing urban and rural districts; resettlement lands and also forests and waters of national importance to be transferred to the democratic state.

4) The confiscation of privately-owned lands other than small holdings, and their transfer to the control of the higher, democratically elected organs of local self-government. The minimum size of a confiscatable land holding to be determined by the higher organs of local self-government.

While supporting revolutionary action on the part of the peasantry, including confiscation of the landed estates, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party will always oppose any attempt to check the course of economic development. Though it stands for the transfer of confiscated lands to the democratic organs of local self-government in the event of a victorious development of the revolution, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party will, if circumstances prove unfavourable for such a transfer, declare itself in favour of dividing among the peasants those lands belonging to the landowners on which small-scale farming has been conducted or which are made up of complement farm lands.

1) Fights with all its strength for the immediate and complete confiscation of all landed estates in Russia (and also crown lands, church lands, etc.).

2) Stands for the immediate transfer of all land to the peasantry organised in Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies or in other organs of local self-government elected on a truly democratic basis and completely independent of the landowners and bureaucrats.

3) Demands the nationalisation of all lands in the country; nationalisation implies that all property rights in land are vested in the state, while the right of disposal of the land is vested in the local democratic institutions.

4) Encourages the initiative of those peasant committees which, in various localities of Russia, are turning over the landowners’ livestock and agricultural implements to the peasants organised in these committees for the purpose of their socially regulated utilisation in the cultivation of the land.

5) Advises the rural proletarians and semi-proletarians to strive towards turning every landed estate into a sufficiently large model farm, to be conducted on a communal basis by the local Soviet of Agricultural Labourers’ Deputies under the direction of agricultural experts and with the aid of the least technical appliances.

Furthermore, the Party under all circumstances, and whatever the conditions of democratic agrarian reform may be, will unswervingly work for the independent class organisation of the rural proletariat, will explain to the latter the irreconcilable antagonisms that exist between it and the peasant bourgeoisie, will warn it against the false attraction of the system of petty farming, which, while commodity production exists, can never do away with the poverty of the masses, and, finally, will urge the need for a complete socialist revolution as the only means of abolishing poverty and exploitation.

In the endeavour to achieve its immediate aims, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party supports every oppositional and revolutionary movement directed against the existing social and political set-up in Russia, but at the same time emphatically rejects all reformist projects involving anyexpansion or consolidation of the guardianship of the police and bureaucracy over the labouring masses.

For its part, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party is firmly convinced that the full, consistent, and firm realisation of all these political and social reforms can be achieved only by the overthrow of the autocracy and by the convocation of a Constituent Assembly freely elected by the entire people.



Source: Marxist Internet Archive