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The Workers' Party and its Tasks in the Present Situation[1]

V. I. Lenin

The general tasks of the students in the Russian liberation movement have been explained more than once in the Social-Democratic press, and we shall not dwell on them in this article. There is no need to explain to student Social-Democrats the leading role of the working-class movement, the immense importance of the peasant movement, or the importance of assistance to both by those intellectuals who have pondered the Marxist world-outlook, have taken the side of the proletariat, and are prepared to train themselves to become real members of the workers' party.

We propose to dwell, if only briefly, on another question which is now of paramount practical importance.

What is the special feature of the present state of the great Russian revolution?

It is that events have completely exposed the illusory nature of the Manifesto of October 17. Constitutional illusions have been dispersed. Reaction is rampant all along the line. The autocracy has been fully restored, and even "reinforced" by the dictatorial powers granted to the local satraps, from Dubasov[2] down to the lowest, ranks of the police.

Civil war is raging. The political strike, as such, is be ginning to exhaust itself, and is becoming a thing of the past, an obsolete form of the movement. In St. Petersburg, for instance, the famished and exhausted workers were not able to carry out the December strike. On the other hand, the movement as a whole, though held down for the mo ment by the reaction, has undoubtedly risen to a much higher plane.

The heroic proletariat of Moscow has shown that an active struggle is possible, and has drawn into this struggle a large body of people from strata of the urban population hitherto considered politically indifferent, if not reactionary. And yet the Moscow events[3] were merely one of the most striking expressions of a "trend" that has broken through all over Russia. The new form of action was confronted with gigantic problems which, of course, could not be solved all at once. But these problems are now con fronting the whole people in a clear and definite way; the movement has been raised to a higher level, consolidated and tempered. No power on earth can wrest these gains from the revolution.

Dubasov's guns have revolutionised new masses of the people on an unprecedented scale. The refurbished caricature of a Duma has been greeted beforehand with far greater hostility by the advanced fighters, and with incomparably greater scepticism by the bourgeoisie, than the old Bulygin Duma.[4]

What now?

Let us look realities squarely in the face. We are now confronted with the new task of studying and utilising the experience of the latest forms of struggle, the task of training and organising forces in the most important centres of the movement.

It would be very much to the advantage of the government to suppress the still isolated actions of the proletarians. The government would like to challenge the workers of St. Petersburg immediately, to go into battle under circumstances that would be most unfavourable for them. But the workers will not allow themselves to be provoked, and will know how to continue on their path of independent preparation for the next all-Russian action.

Forces for such an action exist: they are growing faster than ever. Only a small part of them was drawn into the vortex of the December events. The movement has not by any means developed to its full breadth and depth.

It is enough to glance at the moderate bourgeois and Black-Hundred press. No one, not even Novoye Vremya,[5] believes the government's boast that it is able immediately to nip in the bud any new active manifestation of the movement. No one doubts that the gigantic mass of combustible material—the peasantry—will flare up properly only towards the spring. No one believes that the government sincerely wants to convene the Duma, or that it is able to do so under the old system of repressions, red tape, officialism, denial of civic rights, and ignorance.

It is not excessive optimism on the part of revolutionaries, extremely dangerous in a question like that of decisive action; it is obvious facts, acknowledged even by opponents of the revolution, which testify that the government gained a "victory" in Moscow that rendered its position even more desperate than it was prior to October.

The peasant uprising is growing. Financial collapse is drawing near. The gold currency is declining. The deficit of 500 million rubles cannot be made good in spite of the readiness of the reactionary bourgeoisie of Europe to come to the aid of the autocracy. All the troops fit to fight against the revolution have been brought into action, and still the "pacification" of the Caucasus and Siberia drags on. The ferment in the Army and Navy, which became so marked after October 17, will certainly not be allayed by recourse to violence against the champions of liberty all over Russia. The return of the war prisoners and of the Manchurian army means an intensification of that ferment. The mobilisation of new army units against the internal enemy creates new dangers for the autocracy. The crisis, far from being solved, has, on the contrary, been extended and aggravated by the Moscow "victory".

Let the workers' party clearly realise its tasks. Away with constitutional illusions! We must rally the new forces which are siding with the proletariat. We must "garner the experience" of the two great months of the revolution (November and December). We must re-adapt ourselves to the restored autocracy, and be able wherever necessary to go underground once more. We must present the colossal tasks of a new active encounter in a more definite and practical way, must prepare ourselves for it in a more sustained, more systematic and more persevering fashion, husbanding as far as possible the strength of the proletariat which has become exhausted by the strike struggle.

Wave follows on wave. After the capital, the provinces. After the outlying regions, the very heart of Russia. After the proletariat, the urban petty bourgeoisie. After the towns, the villages. The effort of the reactionary government to carry out its vast tasks is bound to fail. Much in the out come of the first phase of the great Russian revolution will depend on our preparation for the spring of 1906.


[1] Lenin's article "The Workers' Party and Its Tasks in the Present Situation" appeared on January 4(17), 1906, in Molodaya Rossiya, a socio-political and literary weekly published legally by Social-Democratic students. The police department immediately took action to arrest the author of the article. The weekly, whose first and only issue carrying Lenin's article appeared in St. Petersburg, was seized and its editor arrested.

[2] Dubasov, F. V.—tsarist reactionary leader who took part in butchering the Russian Revolution of 1905-07; from November 1905 Governor General of Moscow, directed the suppression of the Moscow armed uprising in December 1905.

[3] The reference is to the heroic insurrection of the Moscow workers against the autocracy in December 1905, the climax of the revolution of 1905-07. For details see Lenin's article "Lessons of the Moscow Uprising" (present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 171-79).

[4] Bulygin Duma—the consultative "representative assembly" which the tsarist government intended to convene in 1905. The Bill for its convocation and the regulations governing the elections were drafted by a commission under Minister of the Interior Bulygin and published along with the tsar's Manifesto on August (3(19), 1905. The Bolsheviks proclaimed an active boycott of the Bulygin Duma. The government was unable to convene the Duma, which was ruled out by the revolution.

[5] Novoye Vremya (New Times)—a daily newspaper published in St. Petersburg from 1868 to October 1917. At first it was moderately liberal, but in 1876 it became an organ of the reactionary circles among the aristocracy and bureaucracy. It was opposed not only to the revolutionary, but to the bourgeois-liberal movement. From 1905 onwards it was an organ of the Black Hundreds. Lenin called It a specimen of the venal press.

Written: Written at the end of December 1905
Published: Published in Molodaya Rossiya, No. 1, January 4, 1906.
Signed: N. Lenin.
Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 10, pages 93-96.

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