V. I.   Lenin

On the Subject of Reports by Committees and Groups of the R.S.D.L.P. to the General Party Congress[2]

Written: Written in December 1902-January 1903
Published: First published in 1924 in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia, No. 1. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 290-300.
Translated: ??? ???
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters
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One of the members of the Organising Committee has asked me to send a list of questions to which it would be desirable to have replies given in the reports of the committees and groups of our Party at its Second Congress. I enclose herewith an approximate list of such questions, but first I should like to say a few words about the length of this list. Naturally, it would be desirable to have reports on all branches of Social-Democratic work, and the ideal report would therefore embrace an all but endless number of questions. Of course, we cannot even dream of it being possible to present such full reports. Nevertheless, I consider it very important and essential for the Organising Committee to endeavour to acquaint each committee or group with the complete range of questions of interest to (and needed by) the congress. Our Second Congress will have an even more constituent character than the First, and we must therefore bend every effort towards making the reports as complete and substantial as possible. The closer each group’s report approximates to the ideal, the more completely and exactly will the movement as a whole be represented at our congress, and the more enduring the results of the congress.

The preparation of the reports, their discussions both in the committees and groups, etc., should begin as much as possible prior to the congress. In this connection it would be extremely important for the committees and groups, first, to divide among many of their members the work of drawing up the report; secondly, as soon as each section   of the report is ready the committees and groups should immediately forward a copy of it abroad, i.e., to a safe place (without waiting for the complete report); thirdly, they should make a point of drawing into this work not only actual but also former members, and not only the active but also absent members, in other words, those in exile or abroad. These persons could be instructed to prepare reports covering either a definite group of questions or a definite period when they worked in the committee or group. Such reports, or sections of reports, could greatly facilitate the task of the delegates at the congress. It stands to reason, furthermore, that the delegates should also make use of Party literature which contains numerous answers to questions in any report, i.e., they should try to gather all this literature, make a digest of all that is essential in it, correct any mistakes occurring in it, supplement it, adding whatever could not be printed for reasons of secrecy, etc. (it is also of the utmost importance to enlist for this work the co-operation of former members of committees and groups who are temporarily abroad). Incidentally, with regard to secrecy it should be added that there are certain questions to which written answers cannot and should not be given, for that would be disclosing secrets; nevertheless, the answers to these questions must positively be considered, prepared, and discussed by the committees and groups, for at the Party congress it will be obligatory to report on these questions (if not in pleno, then to a special commission, to the C.C., etc.).

With a view to drawing as many people as possible into the work of drafting the reports, it would be desirable to circulate the list of questions itself (together with the amendments recommended by specific committees, groups or individual comrades) as widely as possible; moreover, only the fact that these questions and reports are intended for the Second Party Congress should be kept secret from the broad circles of Social-Democrats.

Finally, there arises the question of the period to be covered by the reports. Formally speaking, it should be the period between the First and Second Congresses, i.e., from 1898 to 1903. However, since the First Congress was not fully representative, lasted too short a time, and was held under extremely unfavourable circumstances, it would be desirable   that the reports should also cover the period preceding 1898.

It would perhaps not be superfluous to make the reservation that this extremely detailed list of questions for the report should by no means be interpreted to imply that the person who is best acquainted with the history of the movement, or, in general, who is best able to answer all these questions, will make the best delegate to the congress. The congress should be of practical value in uniting the movement and giving it a powerful impulse, and those comrades who, even if they are new, are the most energetic, influential, and devoted to revolutionary work will make the best delegates. The reports, however, can be compiled from the contributions of many people and, in addition, in some cases it will perhaps be possible to delegate more than one person; it would be particularly desirable to give a large number of worker delegates the opportunity of attending the congress.

I shall now proceed to give the list of questions, which are divided up into eight sections or groups (the division of specific questions and even of groups of questions is often artificial and has been made only for convenience in reviewing them, as all questions are most closely interconnected).

I. The Working-Class Movement, its History and Present State

1) A brief description of the conditions and state of industry. Number, composition, distribution, and other specific features of the local proletariat (industrial, commercial, handicraft, etc., possibly agricultural also).

2) To what extent are the workers affected by socialist agitation? In what districts? Factories? Domestic industry, etc. Describe in as great detail as possible the growth of this group of workers from the very outset of the movement.

3) As complete a list as possible of strikes and a detailed account of each more or less big strike. Aggregate figures are desirable.

  4) Have there been any outstanding instances of boycotts or other collective action,[1] besides strikes, on the part of the workers? Give details.

5) What workers’ circles have existed and still exist? Mutual aid societies? Self-education societies? Working-class organisations? Trade unions? Fullest possible description of all such associations, their organisation, predominant composition, membership, period of existence, nature of activities, results of experience in this respect, etc.

6) Have any attempts been made to organise legal workers’ societies? Detailed information about each such at tempt, its results, effect, fate, present condition, and importance. The same with regard to Zubatov societies. Have any attempts been made to utilise legal societies for Social-Democratic purposes?

7) Effect of the present crisis? Description of it, primarily on the basis of information given by workers. The unemployed, their mood, agitation among them, etc.

II. History of the Local Socialist Circles, Appearance of the Social-Democrats, Struggle of Trends Within Them

8) Were there any traces of the old socialist organisations when Social-Democracy appeared? What did they consist of and how did they make themselves felt? When did propaganda and agitation begin among the working class, and who started it? The followers of the Narodnaya Volya? What was their attitude towards Social-Democracy?

9) When and under what circumstances did individual Social-Democrats or Social-Democratic circles make their appearance? Give, in as much detail as possible, a description of each circle (in accordance with its programme), its importance and influence on subsequent circles.

10) How did Social-Democratic views take shape and develop in the local circles? What was the influence of other (towns) places? Of literature from abroad? Of legally published Marxist literature (and the literature of the “critics   of Marxism”)? Describe the influence of the first, second and third factors as fully as possible.

11) Differences within the Social-Democratic movement. Did they exist before the appearance of the Manifesto of 1898? How did they express themselves? Have any documents remained? How was the Manifesto received? What protests or dissatisfaction did it arouse and from whom? How did the so-called “economist” views arise? How did they develop and spread? It is very important to describe this most accurately, using all available documentary material, with regard to every “economist” “phase” in the local movement. How did differences in the appraisal of the various Party papers and in the struggle among their adherents express themselves? Of Rabochaya Gazeta[3] (1897), Rabotnik,[4] published abroad, and its Listok, of Babochaya Mysl, Rabocheye Dyelo, Iskra, Zarya, Borba, Zhizn,[5] etc., etc.?

11 b i s) Have there been any splits and conflicts between workers and the “intelligentsia” among Social-Democrats? It is very important to ascertain the causes and influence of such.

12) How has the struggle of trends been waged in the local circles? Only among the Social-Democratic intellectuals? Or among the workers too? Among the adherent student groups? Has it found expression in splits? In the organisation of separate groups? Has it flared up over general questions of principle? Over the contents of the leaflets? Over the question of demonstrations? Over the attitude to wards the student movement? Over the question of the May Day demands?

Describe in detail the course and consequences of the struggle among the trends, and the present state of affairs in this respect.

III. Organisation of the Local Committee, Local Groups and Circles

13) Predominant composition of the committee (resp. of the group, circle, and, if there are many, of each specific one)? Students? Workers? Are members added by election (and how is this done?), or otherwise? Are there separate intellectuals’   and workers’ committees? Special technical, propagandist, agitational groups? Literary, central, district, local, executive groups? Their relationships according to the “Rules” (if such exist) and in actual practice? General meetings, their functions, frequency, and size? Organisation of contacts with other towns and abroad (i.e., special people, groups or persons outside the groups, etc.)? How is the distribution of literature organised? Organisation of tours?

What are the conclusions to be drawn from experience in organisational matters, and the prevailing views on organisational principles in the committees, among the intellectuals and the workers?

It is particularly important to give a detailed explanation of the causes and effects of the formation of separate intellectuals’ and workers’ (factory, artisan, etc.) committees.

14) Extension of work to nearby and other localities? What form has this taken: organised or sporadic? Have attempts been made to form district organisations or to participate in them?

Character of contacts with other localities.

History of the origin and work of district organisations. Composition of central district committee? Attitude towards local committees? Collection of funds? District treasuries? Repositories for literature? Effect of the district organisations upon the scope of the work, its stability, contact with the local committees, etc.

15) Finances of the committee? Statement of aggregate income and expenditure (based on reports, if any) for the entire period of existence? Ordinary and average budget, nature of its sources,collections raised among workers, levies on members, payment for literature, socials, donations, etc. (influence of Osvobozhdeniye and Socialist-Revolutionaries in this respect).

Amount and character of expenditure: technical aspects? maintenance of people? travelling expenses? etc.

IV. Character, Content, and Scope of Local Work

16) Propaganda. Composition (of the circles) of propagandists? Their number, method of action? Do they include workers? Do students predominate? Do more experienced   comrades examine and direct their activities? Usual programmes of lectures, and how these are modified in the course of time? Workers’ response and requests for definite subjects? Is it a practice to send speakers with good lectures to various towns, districts, etc.? Composition and size, frequency and circumstances of lecture meetings?

17) Economic agitation. When did issue of leaflets begin? Is it possible to give the total number of leaflets issued and in how many copies? (Approximately?) What districts, factories, and trades has this agitation involved? The procedure adopted in drawing up and approving leaflets? Participation of workers in this? Technique of publication and distribution? Do workers act as distributors? To what extent is the demand for leaflets met?

18) Political agitation. Transition from economic agitation? When did it begin? Has it evoked any protests? When were the first political leaflets issued? Was there a time when only economic leaflets were issued? How is political agitation carried out and on what pretexts? Describe as fully as possible its expansion both as to the nature of the leaflets and as to the sphere of distribution. Documentary material is desirable, since it is important to know all instances of political agitation and all its spheres. Has it been conducted only among workers or among other classes as well (cf. below)? Methods and procedure in drawing up leaflets, demand for them, and extent to which this demand is met? Which are more needed, local or general leaflets?

19) Literature. What illegal publications are distributed? Enumerate them, stating how widely they are distributed, the attitude of the committee and the workers (resp. of the public in general) towards each publication (pamphlets, etc.). Time of distribution, demand, among which sections, chiefly for what literature?

Distributed or scattered? Collective reading in circles? What items have required explanation by intellectuals? Is interpretative reading widely practised? Of what works specifically?

20) Local and general Party press. History of the local paper. How frequently issued? Number of copies? How has the literary end been organised? Collection and safekeeping (loss?) of material? Organisation of contributions to   the local and general Party organs? Are there special literary groups? Reporters? Contacts with literary people? How are contributions forwarded? Through the committee? Through private persons and to what extent? Attempts to utilise students? Exiles?

Conclusions and inquiries about the papers.

21) May Day rallies. Account of each May Day rally and lessons for the future.

22) Demonstrations. Summary information on each demonstration. Attempts to organise in general? To offer resistance in particular? To arm? Views of workers and of “practicians” in general on this question?

Supplementing and checking of Party literature on demonstrations.

Present attitude towards this question.

V. Attitude Towards Revolutionary (Especially Social-Democratic) Groups of Other Races and Nationalities

23) Are there any workers of other nationalities and races? Work among these? Organised or sporadic? In what languages? Attitude towards Social-Democratic groups working in same locality and using some other language? A precise and detailed account of these relations is desirable. Are there differences of opinion? On question of principle as to the national programme? On tactics? On organisation? Relations desirable for joint work. Possibility of a single Party organ? Is federation desirable, and of what type?

VI. Print-Shops, Transport, and Arrangements for Secret Work

24) Print-shops. Experience in establishing them. Expenditure of money and forces. Productivity. Need for local print-shops (for leaflets?) and general print-shops for many towns? Technical, organisational, financial, and secrecy arrangements for this work.

25) Transport. Have there been contacts in this field? Transport groups? History of each and detailed information   on arrangements, functioning, results, and prospects. Desirable form of organisation.

26) Arrangements for secret work. Secret quarters? Signals? Underground quarters? Procurement of passports? Experience in this respect? Are there necessary contacts for this?

Arrangement of rendezvous?

Shadowing of spies? The struggle against spies and agents provocateurs? Its forms, previous and desirable?

Codes, correspondence between towns, within the town, with abroad?

Lectures on: “How to behave at police interrogations?” Need for pamphlets on this and other subjects?

Committee records? Have there been such and have they been kept in the past? At present?

VII. Contacts and Activity Among Sections of the Population Outside the Working Class

27) Work among the peasantry? Are there individual contacts? Detailed information about such? How are contacts made and maintained, and with what peasants? With agricultural workers? Role of factory workers who go to the villages?

Attempts at propaganda? Distribution of pamphlets? Leaflets? What kind? How successful?

Existing situation and prospects.

28) Students. Is influence sporadic and personal, or or ganised? Have many Social-Democrats come from the midst of the students? Are there any contacts with students’ circles, fraternities, union councils? How are these contacts main tained? Lectures? Distribution of literature? Prevalent mood among students and the history of changes in various moods.

Attitude towards student disturbances?

Students’ participation in demonstrations? Attempts to reach preliminary agreement in this respect?

Students as propagandists, their training for this work?

29) Secondary schools, Gymnasia, theological seminaries, etc., commercial and business schools? Nature of contacts with pupils? Attitude towards new phase of upsurge in movement   among them? Attempts to organise circles and study courses? Have recruits to the Social-Democratic movement been made (and how often) amopg recent Gymnasium grad uates (or pupils)? Circles, lectures? Distribution of lit erature?

30) Contacts with “society”? In the past and today, and among what sections? Based on money collections? Distribution of literature? For organisation of legal libraries? To collect information and correspondence? Changes in the attitude of “society” towards Social-Democrats. Demand for Social-Democratic literature? Contacts among civil servants? Among postal, telegraph, and railway em ployees? Among factory inspectors? Among police employees? Among the clergy? Etc.?

It is likewise desirable to have an account of the experience of individual committee members in establishing personal contacts among various sections.

31) Contacts with the military? Part played by Social-Democratic intellectuals and workers who have completed military service? Contacts among commissioned and non commissioned officers? How are these contacts maintained and utilised? Importance of these contacts in agitation, propaganda, organisation, etc.

It is desirable that particularly detailed information be given on this question and the preceding, since the problem is a new one and numerous isolated measures have to be summed up and collated.

VIII. State of the Non-Social-Democratic Revolutionary and Opposition Trends and Attitude Towards Them

32) Liberal trends. Liberal-Narodnik. Among the public? Among the students? Osvobozhdeniye, its circulation (among students? among workers?) and its influence? Are there any Osvobozhdeniye circles? Their attitude towards the Social Democrats?

Interest in Osvobozhdeniye among Social-Democratic circles and attitude towards this publication. Is it utilised for propaganda and agitation?

General meetings with debates?

  33) Socialist-Revolutionaries. Detailed account of their appearance in the given locality? When? From the N. V. [Narodnaya Volya.–Ed.]? Their change into the Socialist-Revolutionaries? Influence of “economism”? Character and composition of their contacts and circles? Veterans? Students? Workers? The struggle against the Social-Democrats, its course, and how conducted?

United groups of Social-Democrats and Socialist-Revolutionaries. Their detailed history, data on their work, l e a f l e t s, resolutions of groups, and so on.

Special features of weakness or strength of the Socialist- Revolutionaries? Inclination towards terrorism? Among students? Among workers?

Work of the Socialist-Revolutionaries among the peasantry? Character of their contacts and activities there? Influence of their “agrarian programme”?

34) Other groups and trends. The Svoboda group, Workers’ Party for the Political Liberation of Russia, Makhayevists,[6] Rabocheye Znamya-ists, etc. An account of their views, attitude towards Social-Democracy, information about their contacts and work.


[1] Collective statements? Public meetings? Participation in public manifestations? etc. —Lenin

[2] Lenin’s work On the Subject of Reports by Committees and Groups of the R.S.D.L.P. to the General Party Congress was published in the preceding Russian edition of the Collected Works according to a copy of Lenin’s manuscript. Subsequently, Lenin’s original manuscript was discovered. In the present edition of V. I. Lenin’s Collected Works this article is for the first time published according to Lenin’s original manuscript.

[3] Rabochaya Gazeta (Workers’ Gazette)—illegal organ of the Kiev Social-Democrats, was published in Kiev with the participation and under the editorship of B. L. Eldelman, P. L. Tuchapsky, N. A. Vigdorchik, and others. In all, two numbers were issued: No. 1— in August 1897, and No. 2—in December (marked as November) of that year. P. L. Tuchapsky, who went abroad on the instructions of the Editorial Board, acquainted G. V. Plekhanov and other members of the Emancipation of Labour group with No. I of Rabochaya Gazeta, and secured their consent to contribute to the paper. In a letter to the members of the Editorial Board, G. V. Plekhanov gave a favourable appraisal of the paper as an all-Russian Social-Democratic organ, and pointed out that more attention should be paid to questions of the proletariat’s political struggle. Following this contact with the Emancipation of Labour group, No. 2 of Rabochaya Gazeta was more definitely political in character. The Social-Democrats, grouped round Rabochaya Gazeta, worked on the preparations for the First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

The First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (March 1898) recognised Rabochaya Gazeta as the official Party organ. After the Congress, the third issue of the newspaper, which was ready for the press, did not appear owing to the arrest of members of the Central Committee and the Rabochaya Gazeta Editorial Board, and also to the seizure of the printing-press. In 1899 an attempt was made to re sume publication of Rabochaya Gazeta; V. I. Lenin speaks about this attempt in section “a” of the fifth chapter of What Is to Be Done? (see present edition, Vol. 5).

[4] Rabotnik (The Worker) —a non-periodical miscellany published in 1896-99 by the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, on the initiative of Lenin. The first number, which carried Lenin’s article, “Frederick Engels,” was published not earlier than March 1896.

Six numbers of Rabotnik were issued in three books, and 10 numbers of Listok “Rabotnika” (The “Rabotnik” Bulletin).

[5] Zhizn (Life)—a monthly magazine published in St. Petersburg between 1897 and 1901 and abroad in 1902. From 1899 the magazine was the organ of the “legal Marxists.”

It published Lenin’s article, “Reply to Mr. P. Nezhdanov” (No. 12, December 1899) and two articles entitled “Capitalism in Agriculture (Kautsky’s Book and Mr. Bulgakov’s Article)” in Nos. 1 and 2, January and February 1900 (see present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 160-65 and 105-59).

[6] Makhayevists, Makhayevism—an anarchist trend hostile to Marxism and headed by the Polish socialist, V. K. Makhaysky, who wrote under the pen-name of A. Volsky. Their programme was set out in a book by Makhaysky, The Intellectual Worker (published in three parts: parts 1 and 2 were hectographed in 1899 and 1900 in Siberia, where the author had been exiled, while Part 3 came out in Geneva in 1904). Makhayevism was marked by hostility towards the intelligentsia, which Makhaysky considered   a parasitic class, and by an attempt to foster among the working class antagonism towards the revolutionary intelligentsia. Individual Makhayevist groups lacking any organisational form or links with one another existed in Irkutsk, Odessa, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere. The Makhayevists’ influence on the working class was negligible.

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