V. I.   Lenin

Material for the Preparation of the Programme of the R.S.D.L.P.[1]

Written: Written in January-April 1902
Published: First published in 1924, in Lenin Miscellany II. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 17-78.
Translated: ??? ???
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Notes On Plekhanov’s First Draft Programme  19
Draft Programme of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party[10101010 10101010]  27
Three Amendments to the Draft Programme  34
Notes On Plekhanov’s Second Draft Programme  37
Opinion On Plekhanov’s Second Draft  58
Remarks On the Committee’s Draft Programme  61
Additional Remarks On the Committee’s Draft Programme  74
An Amendment to the Agrarian Section of the Programme  77



[1] The Party programme adapted at the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1903 was drawn up by the Editorial Board of Lenin’s Iskra at the end of 1901 and the first half of 1902. V. I. Lenin played a prominent part in drawing up the draft programme of the R.S.D.L.P

As early as 1895-96, while in prison, Lenin wrote the “Draft and Explanation of a Programme for the Social-Democratic Party” (see present edition, Vol. 2, pp. 93-121); at the end of 1899, while in exile in Siberia, he prepared a new draft programme (see present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 227-54). When he began publication of Iskra, Lenin considered its most important task to be the struggle to achieve and consolidate the ideological unity of Russian Social-Democracy and to embody this unity in the Party programme. “The discussion of questions of theory and policy,” he wrote, “will be connected with the drafting of a Party programme...” (see present edition, Vol 4, “Draft of a Declaration of the Editorial Board of Iskra and Zarya,” p. 324).

The question of drawing up a draft of the Party programme became particularly acute in the summer of 1901: “We were in formed in letters from Russia that talk about the congress had intensified,” V. I. Lenin wrote to P. B. Axelrod on July 9, 1901. “This forces us more and more to think about the programme. Publication of a draft programme is extremely necessary and would be of tremendous importance” (see present edition, Vol. 36, “To P. B. Axelrod”). On Lenin’s suggestion, the original draft of the theoretical part of the programme was written by G. V. Plekhanov.

At a conference of the Iskra Editorial Board held in Munich in January 1902, Lenin sharply criticised Plekhanov’s draft; he made over 30 notes, pointing out a series of propositions in the draft that were incorrect in principle (see pp. 19-26 of. this volume). Under the influence of criticism by Lenin and other members of the Editorial Board, Plekhanov rewrote the first two paragraphs of his draft, but he did not agree with most of the other notes and proposals. During discussion of Plekhanov’s draft by the Iskra Editorial Board, big differences of opinion were revealed; one of the most serious was evoked by Lenin’s proposal to begin the programme by pointing to the development of capitalism in Russia; in notes written after the conference Lenin wrote: “The question whether or not to begin by pointing to Russia has been left open (3 votes in favour and 3 against).” (Lenin Miscellany II, 1924, p. 15.)

Convinced that Plekhanov’s draft of the theoretical part of the programme was unacceptable, Lenin set about writing his own draft. The initial version of Lenin’s draft (in the correspondence of the members of the Iskra Editorial Board—“Frey’s draft”) was written by January 25 (February 7), 1902; Lenin completed work on his draft by February 18 (March 3), 1902 (see pp. 27-33 and 34 of this volume). Simultaneously Plekhanov was also working on his second draft programme of the R.S.D.L.P. This too came in for serious critical analysis by Lenin (see p. 37-57 and 58-60 of this volume). To co-ordinate Lenin’s and Plekhanov s drafts of the programme and draw up a joint draft programme of the R.S.D.L.P. the Iskra Editorial Board set up a “Co-ordinating” Committee.

In its work this Committee took Plekhanov’s draft as a basis. However, as a result of Lenin’s insistent demands, a number of very important propositions were included in the Committee’s draft: the thesis of the ousting of small-scale production by large-scale production replaced Plekhanov’s indefinite and vague formulation; a definition more precise than in Plekhanov’s draft was given of the purely proletarian character of the Party; the thesis of the dictatorship of the proletariat as an essential condition of the socialist revolution became a point of the highest importance in the programme. Lenin got acquainted with the Committee’s draft programme on April 12, 1902, while travelling from Munich to London, and he wrote his remarks on it during the journey (see pp. 61-73 of this volume).

At the conference of the Iskra Editorial Board held in Zurich on April 14, 1902, which Lenin did not attend, the general editorial draft of the programme was confirmed: its theoretical part (the Committee’s) and the practical part (already agreed to by all the members of the Iskra Editorial Board in early March 1902). Most of the notes, amendments, and additions proposed by Lenin were taken into account by the authors of the draft programme, when it was discussed at the Zurich conference.

The draft programme of the R.S.D.L.P. drawn up by the Editorial Board of Iskra and Zarya was published in Iskra, No. 21, June 1, 1902, and the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., held July 17-August 10 (July 30-August 23), 1903, adopted the Iskra draft programme of the Party, with minor changes.

The programme of the R.S.D.L.P. existed until 1919, when a new programme was adopted at the Eighth Congress of the R.C.P. (B.).The theoretical part of the programme of theR.S.D.L.P., which described the general laws and tendencies of capitalist development, was included in the new programme of the R.C.P.(B.), on V. I. Lenin’s proposal.

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